Drive My Bike


Seven Months In Hiding…
June 10, 2010, 9:49 pm
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Well, it has been seven months since I’ve posted anything here. What’s up with that? Actually, I’ve been wondering the same thing…

Half shy

What can I say? I didn’t plan to take a seven month break. It just kind of… happened.

The best answer I can come up with is that this has been a year of dramatic changes. The biggest of which has been a major career shift. For over 20 years I’ve been doing some kind of software development, and this year I decided to make a shift. I’m still working in the technology space, but now I’m on the sales and marketing side of things.

Wait… what? Yeah, I crossed over to “the dark side”, and now I’m a sales guy. 🙂 (And now I don’t think of it as the dark side either)

It’s been quite a ride. An all encompassing change that has rocked my world, but has been a wonderful adventure at the same time.

So what does this have to do with bicycles?

Well, when my life turned upside down it put a real crimp in my riding. Between the winter cold, the crazy new schedule, more than a few business trips, and the need to have intense focus in other areas of my life… riding just kind of went by the wayside. Yes, I got a few rides in during the winter. I rode to the office a couple of times, and I shivered on a couple of rides “just for fun”, but my riding was nothing like last year. In fact, I even got to the point where I didn’t want to ride. To be honest, that really bothered me. Riding my bike had become such a cool thing in my life, for all kinds of great reasons, and all of a sudden that desire was gone. I’d drive to work each morning and see people riding along my old route, some of which I knew by name from meeting on the road last year, and it just reinforced the fact that I was different now. With that in mind, posting something here seemed kind of hypocritical. I mean, I’m the guy who would always rather ride his bike, right? Well, apparently not.

So… that brings me to today. I’m happy to say that I’m back in the saddle… literally, and I’d like to think I’ve found a better balance and a healthier perspective.

Have I been riding like I did last year? No. But I have been riding. The weather has been nice lately, and I’ve had a few good rides. I’ve been trying to find a good rhythm when it comes to riding to work. So far just one day a week has been the goal, and we’ll see if I can bump that up a bit over the coming months. I would like to ride my first century this year, but I realize that will take a significant training commitment, so I’ll have to see how things go.

The important thing to me is that I’m riding again, and I’m enjoying it. I’ve remembered what I had forgotten.

I’m still figuring things out and trying to regain the balance in my life. I’m not there yet, but… do we ever get all the way there?

Probably not in this lifetime, but I think that’s part of the adventure.

P.S. For those of you that have continued to follow this blog, thanks for sticking around. I won’t make any promises right now, but I’m going to try to be a little more consistent. 🙂 See ya on the road.

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Spring Springeth!

Our Utah weather is always a bit crazy this time of year. We had a few days of warmth, and then we got almost record amounts of snow this April, and Spring seemed like it was never going to show up. Based on my ride home today I am thinking it might finally be here!

TrekSpring3 

It was 38 degrees (F) when I left this morning. But it was sunny, and I really wanted it to be warm. I had my shorts on, and I really didn’t want to add any extra layers. Alas, sanity finally took hold as I stepped out the door, and I decided that I really needed a bit more of the uniform. So I put my Novara rain pants on, and added a microfleece pullover under my windbreaker.

The ride in was nice, and before long things had warmed up to the mid 60’s. I made it outside several times during the day, and each time I was thinking that the ride home sure was going to be nice.

I was right.

It was about 67 degrees (F) when I left the office. For the first time in a long time there was no headwind going home, and I was loving it. I felt really strong and it was the best ride home I’ve had in a long time. The hardest part of the trip was packing all my morning cold weather gear into my pannier… squish! 🙂

A couple of months ago I picked up a small rectangular pouch that fits under the front of my seat, just the perfect size for my camera. It has a wide mouth and Velcro flap that I can easily get into and out of while I’m riding. It has been too cold to use the camera since I’ve had full finger gloves on, but today I figured I’d try to take some riding pictures. A few turned out alright, so I’ll share them with you…

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In this picture you can see my clipless setup that I mentioned in my last post

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Hmm… probably need to clean that fender off under there…

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Doing the picture taking thing, whilst pedaling mightily in rush hour traffic, whilst not crashing, seems to be an art form. I’ve seen some great bike photo blogs out there, and I’ve got a ways to go, but I’ll get it figured out.

I hope your rides are getting warmer too. Stay safe. (Even if you are a bit crazy and decide to try to take pictures while you’re riding) 🙂



Local College Promotes Bike Commuting With Free Bike Rentals

I just found out that Westminster College, a local college here in Salt Lake City, offers students and faculty free bike rentals. How cool is that?

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From their website:

Westminster Wheels is designed to provide alternative transportation and encourage Westminster students, faculty and staff to bike to their destinations on and around campus. Members of the Westminster community can check out a bicycle, helmet, light and lock from the campus concierge desk at no cost.  The potential uses for this program are as diverse as the Westminster student body.  People can bike to the grocery store, post office, the coffee shop or the bakery….

Last year, a group of students noticed the increased number of cars on campus, lack of carpooling, parking lot congestion, and winter smog. These students wanted to improve the city’s air quality, minimize campus traffic and maximize campus efficiency, so they designed a free bike program, modeled on similar campus and community programs around the country.

I think it is great to see organizations like this encouraging Bicycle Commuting, and then going the extra mile by helping people get past barriers that would keep them from getting started. If more programs like this were available it could change the face of transportation in this country.



Friendly Guy – A Hard Core Veteran Commuter
September 29, 2008, 2:54 pm
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Inspired by folks like Tom, Kate, and Noah, I got a new pocket sized camera last week so that I could take pictures on my commutes. That made for a new adventure on my ride today, as I tried to juggle my new camera while I rode. Yeah, taking pictures while riding is probably a dumb idea, and I don’t recommend it, but here’s one from this morning’s ride…

FriendlyGuy

Now, don’t judge me too harshly by the quality of this picture. I was trying to capture a picture of a guy I met this morning, and he was rapidly pulling away as I was trying to get my camera out, powered on, zoomed, and focused, while not damaging the camera or myself. This guy was hands down the friendliest cyclist I’ve met in my bike commuting experiences! Here’s how the conversation went:

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Me: (hearing that familiar sound of someone on a bike coming up behind my left shoulder, I look over and begin to say “Hello”, but before I can get a word out…)

FriendlyGuy: “Good Morning!” (I’ve never had anyone else start the conversation first. FriendlyGuy looks to be a little older than me, and has a big smile on his face.)

Me: “Howdy! Nice day today!”

FriendlyGuy: “Oh yeah, beautiful day! Have a Good One!” (He smiles again, and passes me effortlessly. I notice that he’s got a nice road bike, but with fenders. He’s got a backpack on, a biking jersey, long fingered gloves, and long thermals on legs and arms. Clearly a serious commuter, not the normal road bike racer boy.)

Thinking that it would be great to commemorate this FriendlyGuy moment, I fumble to get out my camera and take a picture. This causes me to lose speed, and FriendlyGuy quickly pulls away, until I can just barely see him in the distance. I take the picture, stow the camera, and try to pick up my lost speed. After a mile or so, I’m coming up on a red light, and I notice a biker waiting at the light… and it’s FriendlyGuy!

I pull up behind him, stop, and this time he looks over his shoulder and smiles again…

FriendlyGuy: “Hey again. Looks like we’ve got the old Tortoise and Hare thing going on this morning” (This is said with a smile, and a friendly manner, so it’s not taken as any kind of competitive statement. He’s just making good conversation)

Me: “Yeah, well you’re geared a bit differently than me.”

FriendlyGuy: “Yes, I guess that’s true” (The light turns green, but instead of just pulling away, FriendlyGuy pulls out slowly and actually waits for me to come along side of him. Imagine that… a stranger that could easily leave me in the dust is waiting to have a conversation!)

FriendlyGuy: “How far you going?”

Me: “Oh, about five miles. Just into Murray by 215”

FriendlyGuy: “Oh, that’s great.”

Me: “You been doing this long?”

FriendlyGuy: “Yeah, a few years now”

Me: “How about you, how far are you going?”

FriendlyGuy: “Oh, into downtown Salt Lake” (Now, this is impressive, because we are a good ways from downtown)

Me: “Wow, so what is that, about ten miles or so?”

FriendlyGuy: “About 17. Yeah, it’s a great ride!” (Wow, 17 miles… very impressive)

Me: “WOW! That is really great! Good for you!” (I’m in complete amazement at this point, having never been face to face with someone so committed to Bike Commuting. My mind is racing as to how to respond… and the only thing I come up with is…)

Me: “Well you have a really good day!” (Wow… that was weak, but he’s really nice and the traffic is heavy, and I don’t want to cause problems with his commute today.)

FriendlyGuy: “You too!” (We are coming up to a stretch of road that can be a bit nasty due to some construction equipment in our lane, and there is lots of traffic. FriendlyGuy quickly pulls away, barely skirts a construction barrier, and then he’s off, and I’m not catching him this time.)

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FriendlyGuy, I’m guessing you probably talk to a lot of people as you ride, so if you read this, I was the guy on 7th East, in the bright yellow windbreaker, on the not so fast Schwinn hybrid. Thanks for making my commute better this morning, and I hope to see you again sometime.



Make Your Bike Commuting 800% Faster!

Sam Whittingham recently set a new world speed record for a bicycle at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge, with a speed of 82.3 miles per hour!. If you haven’t seen this video, it is only 8 seconds long, so take 8 seconds and watch as Sam goes by doing 82mph on the custom built Varna Diablo III bicycle!

Wow, that is fast! You can read more about this record setting project on Wired.com.

So, I was thinking that if I could do that I could cut my commute time from 18 minutes down to less than 4 minutes. Shazam!

But I see a few problems with that:

  • I didn’t see a rack anywhere on that bike, so I’m not sure where I would put my panniers
  • It would be a bit difficult to obey posted speed limits, and would probably lead to some speeding tickets.
  • It would be hard not to fall over while stopping for red lights, and motorists would probably be so offended at my passing them that none of them would be willing to help right me.
  • Where do you park a bike like that? How do you lock it up?

Bummer, because it sure would be fun!

Thanks to my friend Matthias for sharing this story with me.



Into The Cold
September 23, 2008, 10:12 am
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I checked the weather report last night, and they predicted that it would be in the low 40’s this morning. Normally I don’t think of temperatures in the 40s as being very cold, but I have to admit that I was very intimidated by the thought of riding in that kind of weather!

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I did some looking around yesterday, and I found this great post about dressing for cold weather bike commuting. I love how they show pictures next to the temperatures so that you have  a frame of reference depending on what kind of weather you’re going to be riding in as you bike commute. I also really liked how practical the author is, recommending simple solutions with a no-nonsense approach. There’s also some very useful information in the great comments on that post.

I’ve been wearing fingerless gloves, and I noticed that even in the low 50s my fingers were starting to go a bit numb, so based on the ideas in that article I went to REI last night and took a look at the cold weather biking gloves they had in stock. I have come to really like a lot of the things in REI’s Novara line of bicycling gear, but the Novara cold weather gloves didn’t seem to get very good reviews on REI.com, so I figured I’d just try on lots of gloves and see what worked for me. I settled on the Pearl Izumi Cyclone gloves. They seemed to fit the best, had some padding for comfort, and claimed to be water and wind resistant.

I have a good pullover windbreaker that I’ve been wearing when it gets cold, and it’s been great to keep out the wind and occasional rain, so the only other change I made this morning was wearing a long-sleeved shirt under my windbreaker instead of a biking jersey.

So how was the ride today…? Well, I looked at the thermometer before I left, and it was 41 degrees (F) while I was pumping up my tires. I was certainly cold for the first mile or so, in fact I was so cold that I actually was second guessing myself and wondering if this was a bad idea. But, after the first five to ten minutes of riding I started to warm up, and by the third mile I started getting warm enough that I actually unzipped the windbreaker a bit to get some more air circulation going. My new gloves seemed to work okay, although I can tell that when it gets colder I’ll probably need to bring out my big snow gloves, but that is probably to be expected. I got to the office in good time, and it was actually quite a refreshing ride.

Some things I’m going to change…

– I need something on my ears, because by the time I got to work they were actually sore. This surprised me, because I don’t think of 40 degrees as being that cold, but I guess the wind chill I was generating at 15-20mph was significant. I really don’t like earmuffs or beanies. Even when I snowboard I prefer just my helmet, without any kind of balaclava or earmuffs. I’m not sure what my solution will be, but I need something on my ears.

– I think I’ll wear some kind of thermals on my legs. I just had normal shorts on today, so it was bare skin from the knee to the ankle, and it wasn’t too uncomfortable, but I’m thinking that it might be better for my knees to keep them a bit warmer. I also might take a look at some of the biking “knickers” I’ve seen out there.

All in all, my first cold day was a good experience, and I’m excited to continue on this next phase in my bike commuting adventure. Based on today’s ride I’m confident I can keep going until the snow files and the roads start to get icy. At that point I intend to try to keep bike commuting, but I’ll have to make some more adjustments to my equipment.

As Buzz Lightyear would say… “To Infinity and Beyond!”

UPDATE: Read about my 50 degree commuting here and my 30 degree commuting here



When Good Cars Go Bad (Another Reason For Bike Commuting)
September 18, 2008, 2:50 pm
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Today I was making my lunch and I heard a strange noise outside. It wasn’t a noise that I recognized… in fact it was one of those noises where you don’t know what it is but it makes you think that something isn’t quite right. So, I looked in front of my house and this is what I saw…

Car In Fence

It seems that my neighbor had forgotten to set the parking brake on her car, so when she went inside the car decided to take matters into its own hands, and with the help of gravity, it rolled across the street, jumped the curb, and stopped at my fence!

Well, vinyl fencing is flexible, and as you can see in the picture, it was flexing. At the end of it all no harm was done, and we had a good laugh out of it.

Now… if she did her commuting by bike, instead of by car… none of this would have ever happened. Yet another reason that bike commuting makes the world a better, safer place.

Have a good day, and watch out for those evil cars! 🙂