Bicycle Photo Album          

Sunday, February 6, 2011 - Superbowl Sunday

We all enjoy a challenge. For some reason I've always enjoyed that aspect of riding in traffic. We are the long shot. I love to overcome the long shot odds. I love to impress people that don't see the possibilities of a bicycle. I believe that bicycles are changing the world. Bicyclists were the driving force behind creating a standardized road system in the US. Laws are still on the books allowing cyclists access to most public roads around the world. We are still a driving force in making the world a healthier, more sustainable environment. Even in some of the most extreme environments cyclists are making their presence known. It's a shame when I hear of China, which had such a huge cycling population, has surpassed the US as the main consumer of US motor vehicles. Good for the US economy, but not good otherwise.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where to ride in the road and what to look for is my topic today. This idea is a question of safety. While we all ride in a variety of situations there are some long held lessons I have that could provide some help in choosing your route.

I'm a claim the lane advocate. 
My background is that of a suburban and urban rider. I grew up in a relatively well-planned suburb outside of Washington, DC. There are parks and trails and bike lanes in our county. I mostly ride on the road and feel safe doing so. From my communications with fellow cyclists in other locales there are some ways my area is better and worse than 'average'. We have heavy traffic in our area. I'm not sure what the vehicle per hour count is on our arteries, but the DC area has some of the worst traffic in the US. From what I've seen of Northern Virginia we have better alternatives for bike riding than they do.

Advantages of Trail riding

If there is a trail that goes in the direction you want to go take it. This is often the preferred way to go. The only time it is not is when there is too much pedestrian traffic. A lot of multi-use trails have strollers, people walking dogs, and other hazards to sharing a trail. If you're not going anywhere and just want to cruise and chat and site see this is great. If you have to get to work, you may want to avoid the busy times on the trail. The trails in this area are in relatively good shape. The downside is they are windy and hilly.The pathway design is very foot speed oriented. You don't get to use your momentum after climbing a hill. There are some poor banking areas that will make it difficult to corner. A huge advantage of one major trail in the area is that it is closed to motor vehicles on the weekend. Many Rock Creek Park roads are closed Saturday and Sunday.

Disadvantages of Sidewalk Riding

Sidewalks can be downright treacherous from their uneven pavement to the design of roadway intersections. Sidewalks can end abruptly. They can be narrow and edge you off the curb. The sidewalk may have a sudden series of telephone poles to navigate.

The main problem is the roadway intersections. Each time you come to an intersection you have to beg traffic to let you in. When you ride in the street you're already part of traffic and you continue to act as such. Being on the sidewalk makes you separate from traffic and allows motor vehicles to treat you differently. Often crosswalks are 5-10 feet or more away from the corner. In this location you are invisible to turning traffic from the roadway. When you are on the sidewalk you can encounter oncoming pedestrian or cycle traffic that makes it impossible to easily pass. It can be very dangerous if the sidewalk is right on a major road. When you're on a sidewalk you have to choose which side of the roadway you'll proceed on. It is best when you take the sidewalk that is consistent with the direction of the roadway traffic.

What to look for when riding

The obvious things to look for are holes, railroad tracks, sand, rock, debris. Those are impediments to maintaining balance. Other examples are drainage grating, metal construction covers, overhead branches and signs which also affect balance. There are also sharp, smaller objects that can deflate a tire including scrap metal, construction material like nails, metal road material like expansion joints. There is the category of narrowing shoulders, objects like trees or signs that are uniquely close to the road. In other words, we don't have a standard in road surfaces from the cyclists perspective. While most roads have fairly universal design and we are prepared for reasonable changes thru signage when motoring; we are not notified of changes affecting the cyclist. For instance, I may be cruising along a 5 foot wide shoulder on a busy country road going down a hill with motorists traveling 60 mph next to me and suddenly there's no shoulder and I'm supposed to share the road. Consistently there is no notice for the cyclist. This is an example of what to look for.

Wet leaves in the fall is a typical hazard that is not known to most novice riders. Wet leaves are very slick as they break down. Deep water puddles can hide holes. They can also make braking difficult and steering impossible. I typically ride the same route to work and back. So I know where that rough spots are and where the pavement is breaking into potholes. If I ride a new route I have to be extra vigilant. 

Find a good route. I will always scan a route using Google Maps when planning a ride to a new area. I found this very helpful recently in Northern Virginia near DC. I could not find a safe bicycle route to a location I wanted to get to. There were piecemeal bike trails, but I didn't find enough roads that were safe in my estimation to bridge between the intermittent multi-use trails.

In the DC area there is a lot of traffic. Busy roads with no shoulder are something that should be avoided if at all possible especially for the novice cyclist.There has to be a strategy if you take on such a road. My strategy tends to be:

1) use it briefly
2) claim the lane
3) get off the busy road as quickly as possible

It's no fun to ride where noisy motor vehicles like buses and truck are hurdling by you within inches. There is a tendency to give as much of the lane as possible to the scary traffic. I find it counterproductive to do so. Motorists try to squeeze by and are more or less successful. If the squeeze is not a fit the motorist may not be a good judge of the distance. You lose! I will claim the lane in any situation where there is doubt. I ride at least in the dead center of the lane. If I still find a motorist trying to squeeze by at least I have some lane real estate to escape into. When you're already at the edge you're out of options. I may make the motorist angry by being 'in the way' but I maintain my safety margin. When it's difficult for a motorist to pass I make every attempt to help get them past me. I'll signal when I see clear traffic pathway ahead. I'll wave them around when I feel safe. I'm not trying to obstruct, I'm just trying to maintain control of the right-of-way.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Choice of tire width has been a process. My needs have changed over the years. When I was young I converted the 20" useful tires to ones that were stylish sllicks. After getting a bike for longer mileage rides I was converted to skinnier tires. Then the pursuit for faster high pressure tires ensued. The pinnacle of that pursuit was my Vredestein Fortezza SEs with 160 PSI. I rode those for several years until I came upon the idea of comfort.

What a novel concept. Now instead of high pressure and narrow racing design I seek thicker wider comfort tires. I like a 26" X 1.5 or 2" now or 700C 40s. They're a joy to ride and are not that much slower for me. I also just enjoy the ride more. I ride enough on rough ground to appreciate a tire that soaks up some of that vibration.

I have never had much of a problem with flats. I've had problems with fixing flats when I've got them. Flats are best left for those who know how to fix them. To avoid flats get good tires and replace them when they get worn out. Over 49 years of riding I've had about 20 flats. I am spoiled by having someone who will pick me up if stranded. I have finally started carrying a frame pump, spare tube, tire irons and repair kit. Most of my years I carried none of these.

There are 3 valves for tubes that I'm aware of. The two common ones are Schrader and Presta. Schrader are like car tires. Presta are commonly found on 700C wheels. There are several common sizes of wheels: 26", 700C and 27". 26" wheels tend to have large tires for off road riding. They are often knobby treaded tires for mountain bikes. 700C and 27" tend to be much smaller road tires. Lately there are more fat tires available for 700C wheels, up to 40mm. Usually the pressure of 26" tires is much lower in the sub 100PSI range while the 27" and 700C are high double digits to mid-100s. There are slicks available for 26" wheels so that the ride is better for road riding. I have found this alternative appealing.


Sunday, September 05, 2010


Wind is by far the worst weather to deal with on a bike. I can deal with sun, snow, rain, cold weather. Humidity can be a bear, too, but wind is so discouraging.

For rain there are helmet covers, ponchos, fenders, etc. I find the shoe covers useful in short rains. I have not tried them in heavy rain circumstances. The rain gear designed to keep OUT moisture will also keep IN moisture(perspiration). No matter how much venting and technology that is used I have not found anything that works as it says it will in terms of breathability. Breathability is a term Goretex uses. It means the material lets sweat dissipate from within the clothing to the outside, while not allowing rain to permeate. I do not buy a lot of the high tech gear, so I am not a source of information in that regard. I have tried a few Goretex items like shoes, jacket, mitten covers and none have been all that good for the breathability. I tend to get hot when riding. That may be different for others.

Ponchos have much more exposure to air and therefore, thru their low tech approach allow air flow during rainfall which provides additional cooling from the air movement. I have a poncho with a hood that I bought from Campmor. I don't use the hood because it makes me too warm. The big problem with the poncho is the front of the poncho pools water between the handlebar and the shoulders. When you move your hands from the bars the pooled water pours onto your feet. Another problem with the poncho is that you can't see your hands and feet. This makes it hard to know what gear you are in or to shift at all if you use downtube shifters. On my commuter bike I have bar end shifters which allows me to shift without stretching the poncho too far.

Snow and ice are obviously treacherous for any two-wheeled vehicle. I rode motorcycles for 18 years thru all kinds of weather. I rode all my life in snow and ice on bicycles. In our area the climate is mild and snow is relatively rare. Ice is fairly regular here in the winter which gives me adequate experience to be an expert. It is very hard to be sure you see the ice. Our streets in this area are fairly saturated with chemicals so I can count on most roads being ice free. Remember that it only takes a tiny patch of ice at the wrong place to cause major lasting pain or worse.

When riding in possible icy conditions and you come upon an unavoidable ice patch stabilize yourself on the bike and ride straight thru without turning, leaning or braking. Be aware that when temperatures hover above and below freezing thru a period of days there will be pools of water that refreeze at night. Those ice patches are especially treacherous. As in all circumstances, if you are at all unsure of a roads condition, claim your lane so that you have plenty of space to travel to get around potential problems.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

From the accomplishment of learning to ride a bike and the enjoyment of developing those skills to the physical challenge of going further on a journey bicycling has been a joy. I still enjoy the exhilaration of reaching to peak of even a 100 foot high hill. When the bicycle disappears and becomes part of my journey I've reached a level of deep satisfaction. I'm not worried about selecting a gear or what to do if I flat I'm just on a journey.

The journey becomes a series of breaths that I can focus on. I am totally aware of my body like a yogi. I can pursue another cyclist, select a hill to climb or go into rest stage. During these times my mind sets aside my daily worries and preoccupations. My life is transformed into 'here and now'.

My choices of what to do with a journey are only limited by who I am. My life is constrained by fatherhood of two fairly grown children, spousal needs, and employment/home ownership. I could take off on a ride all night if I wanted to be tired at work the next day. I don't like to pay that price.

During my life journey I look for challenges like certain hills I know. I look for day trips or longer multi-day extended vacations. I dream of taking interesting photographs and drawing portraits of interesting strangers. I dream of cycling in a foreign land and performing personal 'diplomatic missions' as a western citizen.

I enjoy sharing my cultural heritage with others. I have a small backpacking guitar I'd like to carry along and perform with to communicate where words are inadequate.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


When I started riding longer distances I didn't carry water. There were enough convenience stores that I was able to sustain a ride without carrying water. Now I know better. Water is a critical to performance and health. In the Washington, DC area we have hot, humid summers with some periods of time where the air quality is poor for days. There were times I went on rides and couldn't figure out why I was so tired or pooped out so completely. I now realize that I should have been hydrating better. I watch the color/frequency of my urine. That is my indicator. When it's darker I know I need to drink more. When it doesn't come out at all I know I'm dehydrated. I haven't been a huge fan of sports drinks and gel, but I'm coming around. If I have sweated a lot then I usually get a sports drink like Gatorade. Another test of dehydration is pinching a flap of skin. The more it stays pinched after release the more dehyrated you are. The skin should resume it's former shape immediately under good hyration.

I carry water on my rides that are longer than 20 miles especially in the summer months. I've gone from plastic bottles to thermal plastic to stainless steel. The steel bottles hold NO tastes, so I can put any type liquids in the bottle without aftertaste. I love the new stainless steel. I've gotten the 20 oz. from Walmart and for as little as $6 per. You have to keep in mind the type of top you want. I don't drink with the top on. I tend to stop and remove the top. If you want to drink while riding get the kind of top you want when you buy the bottle. The tops are expensive when bought separately. Water bottles are a little difficult to clean, but nothing compared to Camelbak systems. I found the Camelbak systems difficult to get used to.

Monday, August 30, 2010

When I was young and poor I would wear whatever clothes I had while riding the bike. As I grew older and had more money I was resistant to change. The first thing I tried was the shoes. I tried thick rubber soled Bata Biker shoes. I liked them because they slid in and out of the toe clips without getting snagged. Later I got some beautiful Detto leather cycling shoes that had a sort of cleat that would keep your foot from sliding out off the back of the pedal. I loved the feel of the leather. I tried a pair of wool riding shorts and they didn't have a small enough size at the shop I went to. The guy at the shop said I would 'grow into' them as I rode more. I laughed. If I hadn't grown enough by 20 years of riding to fit the shorts, I would never grow enough. Finally after 35 or so, I tried some clothes that actually fit. There are advantages and disadvantages to the special clothing and I'm thinking mostly of the shirt/jersey. Typically the special clothing is a synthetic material that clings tightly to your body. They tend to cost upwards of $40 per item. Non-synthetic wool and leather (chamois) short portions options are vastly more expensive.

  • the pants don't get caught in the pedals/chain.
  • the shirt doesn't flap in the wind at speed
  • shirt pocket is handy and well-placed for carrying various things
  • wool doesn't stink
  • unzip the shirt/jersey all the way down your belly

  • expensive
  • stench of synthetics
  • they can be difficult to remove as you 'grow into them'
  • wool must be washed carefully
I am much more partial to the shoes. I had graduated to clipless racing shoes and now SPD shoes I can almost walk comfortably in. These tend to be expensive for a single use type of shoe, but they are worth it in my book. On long rides your footwork gets sloppy and if you fall of the pedal it can be disastrous. On sportier rides the cleat allows for pulling up and pushing down and even allows for full circle locomotion.

I also use sunglasses/eyeglasses to protect my eyes from wind and bugs. When a bug gets in your eye at any speed you're in critical danger. I highly recommend eyewear.

Helmets have changed so much since I began riding. At first they were very heavy and poorly ventilated. I didn't use a helmet for my first 20 years of riding. After I started wearing a helmet I had a few wrecks where I was very glad to have the skid lid. I've seen folks with skater (non-vented) helmets riding bicycles. Altho they are adequate protection in my book, the lack of ventiliation is a huge problem.

I have been annoyed lately by my shorts riding to work. There is a little binding after the downstroke so that the pants (short) leg stresses against my leg. Am I getting picky in my old age? Bike specific shorts are stretchy and don't bind unless they are too small.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This mornings ride to work was one of those perfect rides. Traffic was moderate to low. Motorists were polite. I am in good shape. The bike and I were one.The end of August weather was cool. The route was even nice, it wasn't new but I've refined my route so that I really don't interact with cars a lot. There wasn't even any wind. I appreciate the simple things. The exercise helped me wake up. The exposure to the fresh air and sunshine made me aware of gods grace.

What it wasn't
  • sitting in annoying traffic confined in a cage (motor vehicle)
  • getting angry at motorists who cut me off
  • bad weather
  • hours wasted while my body becomes soft and ill
  • polluting the environment
I love my life today. I love my wife who agreed to live where we are so I can ride to work. Life is so good.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

As of today I've been riding 49 years! I say that I ride for environmental and economic concerns, but I have always ridden for fun. After first learning it turned quickly into a passion for me that has continued thru my life. I think I was 12 when I first took to the roadway, but I remember a long ride on my 20" banana bike with someone clocking us going 40mph down a hill. The ride was probably less than 20 miles, but it is drilled into my memory. There were a group of us and dad organized and led us. I was always into the environment as well. At about the same time I was very agitated that they were tearing down the woods behind our house to build a parking lot. I have a distinct memory of huge piles of freshly cut or dug up trees burning. It was a travesty to me.

I remember walking thru the devastation and smelling the green-ness of the bark shaved trunks. It was carnage to me. I used to hike in those woods and discover so much beauty and quietness. I would play in the creek that became enclosed in a storm drain. It was a daily odyssey to me prior to the destruction. I discovered abandoned buildings and excavated ancient rubbish heaps.

So merging the two passions occurred naturally. The parking lot that was created thru the destruction was a by-product of society's craving for motor vehicle parking. The battle lines were drawn. I had encounters with the law early on as well. I would ride 12 miles to church often and had run-ins with police who told me I didn't belong on the street. I definitely lost respect for the law with each incident. I would register bikes and they would get stolen and never found. My first bikes were precious to me, but after a few are stolen they lose the personal meaning and attachment so many people have for these things.

Part of my ethos for riding had to do with fixing it myself. I could take care of the bike myself. I often got parts from bikes that were thrown away in the neighborhood. I became a scavenger, much to my mothers consternation. So early on I was a reuse, recycle, reduce person. I definitely didn't get new bikes because I didn't have the money. I still don't, though I have the money. I am much too particular to select a ready made bike and I am still cheap.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I took the long way home last night up Beach drive north to near Twinbrook. This is a fairly regular route for me. This adds 20 miles to my ride. The route is great because there are TONS of cyclists who are on this road. It goes in a park and has a good trail next to it. I'm sure a lot of cars avoid it during the daylight because there are so many bikes. On the weekends major sections of the road are closed to motor vehicles, which diminishes use because you can't get very far without going into neighborhoods. The Rock Creek Park in which Beach Drive resides is a National Park and kept very rustic.

Last nights ride was at a time when a racing group meets at the far end of my route and then proceeds along my route returning south. There were about 20 members of that group and they whizzed past me. I caught up when they stopped at lights. It is wonderful to be able to ride on roads that bike dominate. "If you don't like bikes get off the road!".

The weather was perfect and I worked out pretty hard.

I've been sustaining a dream that began while I was reading posts from I want to travel the Silk Road from Europe to China. Certain Asian countries are difficult in terms of security, but the idea of living on a foreign road and interacting with passersby fascinates me.
  • Most of the trip is barren and difficult which satisfies some of my requirements to find solitude and experience myself. 
  • I want to challenge myself physically with mountains and deserts. 
  • I want to interact with other cultures
  • I want to see the effect industrialization has on Chinas environment first-hand
I will offer music if I bring my backpacker guitar. I will do portraits with pencil/pen on paper. I want to develop some photographic skills.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I finally finished my rebuild of my Surly 1x1 with the 7 speed Shimano Nexus internally geared hub. It was complicated by a number of factors. I had completely wrapped Albatross bars on the bike with Oury grips. That made it a little difficult to change the brake lever configuration. Last time I had the bike operational it used the Nexus 8 speed hub with a built-in foot brake. The 8 speed shifter claimed the end of the bar so the other track lever would not mount to the bar. I don't have a lot of money to blow on these projects so I waited for the right solution to come rolling thru. Well, I had a spare handlebar setup with brake levers that worked. I had to remove the shifters and it worked. I also had some trouble routing the long shifter cable through. I ended up taping sections because I wanted to hold it in place in a certain fashion.

I was thinking about apparel in my years of riding in all types of weather. Yesterday was an unusual day because it poured down rain all day. I wore my helmet cover and poncho even tho it is summer. Summer here is 90 degrees Fahrenheit and above normally. Humidity is often very high. It's like a rainforest or a swamp. The air just doesn't seem to circulate. Most of my rain rides in this high humidity/high temperature environment I don't wear my poncho. I often still wear the helmet cover tho. My feet get wet but I change at the office, so I don't sit in wet shoes. This week was different. This rain was pouring down all day and the temperature was a bit cooler; it was probably about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The other extreme that my co-workers don't understand is how I can stand to ride in the cold. I know that I am hot-blooded. I stay warm because I have a high metabolism. I get a lot of exercise regularly. Cold just doesn't seem to bother me. I don't feel the cold. I don't like to feel cold, but maybe I have a higher threshold for cold.

What does bother me is wind. Wind is my mortal enemy. I want to ease down the road. When there is wind afoot it seems like whichever direction I turn I'm FACING the wind. You work very hard as a cyclist against a headwind.I've dealt with rain, snow, cold, ice, but wind & flooding are the real fun-stoppers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I've bought and sold many bikes since I've last posted. One interesting example was an Anker Rad swiss built bike. It had a newer Pletscher Athlete rear rack, Specialized Armadillo Infinity 700C 35cm brand new tires, steel painted fenders, stainless steel upright handlebars, Weinmann cantilever brakes, Union bottle generator hooked to front and rear lights, Pletscher double kickstand, french Maillard hubs, Columbus Aelle frame, Brooks double sprung saddle, an unknown brand of crankset, Suntour derailleurs with lowrider dropout fittings in the front fork. I loved the nice heavy duty Weinmann brake levers and the long reach cantilever cables.

I bought the bike, took off a bunch of stuff and sold it for $5 less. I took the tires $40, bell, kickstand $50, generator/lights $50. I left the Brooks saddle cause the guy I bought it from had left it out in the rain for a long time. It had hardened and I had a bunch of Brooks saddles anyway.

The model was called a camper and it was heavy as lead. It was very utilitarian, but the weight was too much.

All these parts but the bell will eventually be migrated over to my Surly LHT.

Another interesting bike I bought and sold recently was a Viner which had a high level Italian Gipiemme component set including headset, bottom bracket, beautiful shifters & crankset. The frame had dents, heavy rust and a frozen headset/stem. The headset bearing were perfect and smooth but I couldn't unfreeze the stem to raise it. The bike was very light. I rode it about 10 miles, but since the stem was so low it wasn't much fun. Bought it for $150 and sold for $200.

The Surly Long Haul Trucker is new since my last post. I bought the frame/headset/fork/fenders/Tubus cargo rack as a unit and built it up from there. I have nice bartape on the Surly which helps with the pleasure factor of riding this bike. I also feel the quality Chris King headset and nice quality bottom bracket bearings. The wheels/derailleurs/crankset came from another cheap Schwinn MTB. I got a nice quality set of SPD pedals from one of my bike purchases. The brakes are Tekro. I bought them from a guy who was upgrading his Surly Crosscheck(?). Apparently the Tekro Onyx are standard on the Surly.

I got a steal on a Trek 420 from the mid 80's. I paid $20 for it. It was on Craigslist in my neighborhood. I put new tires on it and sold it for $300. If it had lowrider dropouts on the fork I would have kept it. The 420 is a lower end Trek touring bike.

I bought a mid-70's Schwinn Suburban that had nice fenders but was completely disassembled. It was a beautiful glowing neon green color 10 speed. Bought it for $60 and sold for $125.

Finally sold the Performance 20" child's bike with 11" frame. I had it for about a year trying to decide what to do with it. I got it for $35 and sold it for $65.

I bought a Novara Safari which I loved but couldn't convince Karen to trade her medium frame for the small frame. I knew I could make some money off of it. I bought it for $200 and sold for $300. It probably had 50 miles on it. I almost kept it for myself. It's quite a neat bike with big, fat, 26" tires, mechanical disk brakes, butterfly handlebars with foam padding, 27 speed gearing and fittings for a lowrider rack.

I bought and sold a Nishiki Hybrid Colorado. It was beautiful and clean, had 26" slicks and SKS fenders. It had a very laid back seat tube and head tube angle which made it an interesting change from the more road race style frames I typically ride.

To update the accident report I was listing a few posts ago I had another wreck on a extended commute. It had rained the night before so the roads were damp. I was going around a curve just before crossing a bridge and felt the rear tire start to slide. I was able to regain control. It was November 2008 if I remember correctly. So I thanked the bike gods and slowed down. I had a sharp hill to descend after that. While on a speed bump on that hill my rear wheel lost traction and I went down pretty hard. I slid about 15 feet. The injury to my wrist caused problems for about a year afterwards.

Karen had a collision with a cab back on 'bike-to-work' day. I went down to DC to escort her home. We were coming north on 14th Street near Wallach St NW. We were in the bike lane. A cab was waiting in a line of cars when suddenly the rear passenger door flung open and hit Karen and knocked her to the ground. She's going to need surgery to repair a torn ACL.

I got a couple wheelsets at a thrift store. One I sold and the other I put on my sons bike. He chose red tires to make the bike his own. He has a 2004 Trek 1000 54CM which has a bar extension for triathlons and other long distance rides. Today was his first ride with all the parts in place and he said it was beautiful.

I read an old post about a night ride I did. Well I did another night ride last fall which was really fun. I went out in Rock Creek park on Beach Drive near the beltway. I did not use a light and only encountered a car or two. It was probably 10PM when I left home. It was peaceful and quiet and invigorating. All I could hear was the quiet whir of my tires. I could almost guide myself by the moonlight. I was in my quiet dark world in the middle of the city. How remarkable to be in a city of 5 million and to be out in a park alone. I rode about 20 miles in quiet solitude. It gave me great peace.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I made it thru a very difficult winter of riding/commuting in Silver Spring, MD. We set a record for the inches of snow for all time in our area. I missed a couple of days of work and got a ride in the car on another day. I have pictures of my area during the storm at There are shots of lots of snow. There are some of my normal bike route. The trail became impassable by bike with or without studded tires. We had 2 feet of snow on the ground for a long while. There was very little drifting fortunately. Many large trees and limbs came down across the road. I live near a parkway and trees blocked a lane of traffic in a couple of spots for weeks. It was somewhat dangerous to ride. For a long time the plowed route on the parkway only revealed half of one lane and the other lane had the benefit of the shoulder being exposed. This made abiding by painted line restrictions impossible. Motorists were actually very accommodating for the most part. For about 2 weeks I had to travel on major arteries to get to work. For over a week even those major thoroughfares lost at least half a lane each way to snow blockage. It was hard to portray my cycle routes because the road was so narrow I was afraid to stop and take pictures. I rode my Bridgestone MB-5 with the Xtracycle most of the time. I almost bought studded tires, but my wife had lost her job so finances were just too tight. Thursday and Friday after the biggest snow I rode in to work when many didn't even drive. Thursday I was at work at 8:30am. There was very little traffic on the street even on the thoroughfares.

Early in the winter there was a 4 or 5" snowfall and I took a couple kids out for a ride on the Xtracycle. It was a ball. We ended up falling. After we got up I asked if they wanted to go back home and they said 'no' unanimously. Each snowfall we got I expected that would be the last of it as is the pattern in this area.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I was thinking over the years about accidents. One memorable one from my teenage years came to mind. A car ran into me when I pulled out in front of it. The oncoming car approached from over a hill and was travelling too fast. I saw it at the last minute and stopped short. It hit my front fork on my Schwinn Continental - bam! The fork bent, but I was spared. That was pretty traumatic. That must have been about 1972.

Another time I was mountain biking on my converted JC Higgins in 1968 and was making a trail thru the woods behind our backyard. Somehow I caught a root or treelimb and went down hard. The front chainring mauled my bare ankle. I was a bloody mess.

At my cousins in Kentucky in my mid-teens I wiped out in some gravel and sand. This was my first and worst really bad road rash. I learned a lesson from that one. That was probably early 70's.

Then on a commute to work in Kansas City I was on a bridge with a metal seam running the same direction as I was travelling. The joint was about an inch higher on one side. I didn't notice it until it threw me off balance. I went down pretty hard and laid down some skin, hit my head, etc. I went to the ER and everything was good. I thought I should have been compensated by the city on that one. This wreck was on my 2002 Raleigh International. It was a beauty with nice Campagnolo Centaur components. The only bike I had with 20 speeds.

I had just finished testing a new bike in 1991 or so and was riding home in Silver Spring. It was the first bike I had ridden a bike that had the STI brifters. I was on my 1980 Austro-Daimler Vent Noir going down a big hill on Wayne Ave. There was a line of cars to my right behind a bus. A car that was at the end of the line behind the bus didn't see me and pulled into my lane. I was able to miss that car but I had to swerve so wildly that I lost control and plowed head-on into a pickup truck. I wasn't wearing a helmet at the time. I bent the top-tube and the down-tube of the beautiful effervescent 531 double-butted tubing. I was so pissed. I had clipless pedals on the bike. I think the pedals and the frame bore the brunt of the impact rather than my hard head. They took me to the ER. I was fine. My bike was impounded because they couldn't bring it in the ambulance. I actually threw the bike away after that. I got a couple other bikes at Goodwill and only kept the pedals. The two bikes I bought were subsequently stolen. I ended up with a nice '91 Paramount with Shimano 105 components. I kept that for about 15 years.

I had a weird wreck that I still haven't figured out. It was about a year ago. I had my panniers on the back of my Bridgestone 400. As I came across a street I lost my balance. The front wheel went into the air and I went down hard. I happened so quick I really don't know what caused it. There was a ripple in the asphalt that would have made the tire jump. Maybe that's all it took.

Then about a year and a half ago a lady passed me down a residential street just in time to make a right in front of me. I was able to brake pretty hard just before impact. I hit her right rear quarter panel and landed on my shoulder. The police came and filed a report. An ambulance came - I refused treatment. I spoke with her insurance company later. Their analysis was we shared responsibility. She had a cell phone and a toddler in the car to distract her. She admitted never even seeing me.

Those are the accidents I can remember in my riding from '61 to '08.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Still looking for the ultimate commuter bicycle and I'm trying out a Novara Fusion. It has 700C tires, fenders, 8 speed Nexus hub gearing with front and rear internal brakes. It also has a front dynamo hub that powers twin front lights. It has a lot of features standard that I have been looking for. I think this brings to 62 the total number of bikes I've had in my life. This brings me to my topic. Commuting bikes should be ready to roll just like a commuting car. Get on and go without remembering all the things like you would in a motor vehicle. I don't want to have to think - is the battery charged up for the lights? The bike is sold complete except for tire repair kit, pump, panniers, raingear and helmet! I got it at over 20% off the original price. There have been some less than stellar reviews about the Nexus hub. We'll see. I like the idea of the gears being protected and the brakes being impervious to weather.

The bike is heavy at about 34lbs according to the website. I haven't weighed it and don't really intend to. That is, on the other hand, complete with all the stuff I would put on it anyway. I like REI's return policy as well. I had a pair of shoes that I wore a few days and realized that they were a bit too small. They accepted the return no questions asked.

I like the green aspect of the dynamo hub power. I don't pollute the world with batteries which are very toxic. So many times we just use batteries and don't realize there is an alternative. This is a very clear and good alternative.

I bought one for my wife and one for me. Ii intend to replace some bikes I either haven't used so much or that this will replace.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Additional bikes that have come and gone:

I got a tandem over the fall and have enjoyed riding with the wife. We LOVE tandemming! We've done less than 100 miles but we've enjoyed the experience. It takes a bit of getting used to. The benefit is because we are riders of very different abilities we can spend time together and work as hard as we want. I can power it out and she can just do some moderate exercise.

1)1960 Raleigh Sports - has fully encased chainguard, single speed, full fenders and Wood style valves for tires, B72 Brooks saddle ( I bought the bike for the saddle)
2) '80 Motobecane tandem - 15 speed, Phil Wood disk brake, nice saddles, Phil Wood BBs and hubs
3) '06 Dahon 7 speed folder - we're downsizing our lives and this may fit the bill.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I've gotten several other bikes since then. I have a Cignal MTB. I can't remember the model. It has nice Continental commuter tires about 1.95". It also has the red Ritchey Logic brake shoes. I want to swap out some parts and sell it. I need the cantilever brake shoes for my tandem.

The tandem - this is my first tandem. It's a '78 Peugeot Grand Tourisme 10 speed. It came with leather avenir saddles and stronglight model 49 cranks and a drag brake.

I got a un-decaled MTB that is in really nice shape. It has a steel frame and big fat commuter tires about 1.95". It came with a rack I'll put on my wifes bike before I sell it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy new year! It's been 4 months since I last posted. I've gotten another bike - a Surly 1x1 from a Craigslist listing. It was built up with a Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub. I added a Xtracycle frame extension for my purposes. I still need to get big fenders for it. Otherwise it's a very enjoyable and useful ride. It's like the pickup of bikes. It carries a lot and it's easy to stow stuff inside. This bike contains two things that I had wanted into 1. I wanted to try the 8-speed internally geared hub and the Xtracycle attachment.

Currently the rear cog is about 21 teeth and I spin in the top gear much of the time. Since there was a lot to adapt I bought a 16 tooth gear but haven't installed it.

The Surly 1x1 is a frame designed for single speed use. The frame also accommodates huge fat tires up to 2.7" in width. That presents a problem when adding the Xtracycle. It's puny washer wedge thingy that supports the Xtracycle frame between the chainstays isn't big enough. So I built an adapter from some 2" metal pieces. I had never built something out of metal before. It was satisfying, but ugly. It's very crude, but I've put in many miles on it successfully.

Monday, August 13, 2007

bridgestone 400 current
trek 1000
raleigh International 2002
Trek 7000 mountain bike
'91 Paramount sold after 12 years
Schwinn Breeze 5 Speed
other Bridgestone 400 that I fixed up and sold
Bianchi road bike
Miele mountain bike
track bike from Goodwill
Kabuki (stolen by muggers)
Schwinn Super Le Tour II
Fuji S-12-S
Schwinn Suburban for wife
Panasonic (temp after AD below crashed and burned)
Austro Daimler Vent Noir
Fuji Newest
Peugeot UO8
Schwinn Varsity
Schwinn Continental
Schwinn Orange Krate
Schwinn Sting Ray
JetWind 3 speed (my first SS) I converted
solid wheeled 16" bike

Friday, May 11, 2007

I took a night ride a couple of months ago when I lived near a Germantown, MD woods. There was 7 or 8" of snow on the ground with a layer of ice on top. I took the mountain bike to try to stay on top of the ice. I was able to ride thru heavily wooded areas over logs and rocks and holes in the night without sinking into the snow or tripping on objects. It was very cool to ride along on the sheet of rough ice. If it had been smoother ice I may have slid.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I never thought I'd have so much to say about handlebar tape till I went on-line to buy some. Over the years before the point came to buy handlebar tape I usually ended up getting another bike that had good handlebar tape. So now I'm replacing some that has disintegrated. Here is a transcript of my chat on-line with tech support:

John tech: Hello...
Steve Mohr: hey john
Steve Mohr: did you get my question?
Steve Mohr: apparently some handlebar tape is glued on, some is just wrapped
Steve Mohr: are you with me?
John tech: Yes, some use adhesives...
Steve Mohr: over the years I haven't installed tape very often. I'm usually on to the next bike Steve Mohr: The sticky backed tape I had on one recent bike has been terrible
Steve Mohr: or maybe it was beyond it's serviceable life
Steve Mohr: I've put 5500 miles on that handlebar tape
Steve Mohr: how does the non-sticky tape stay on?
John tech: Slightly warm it w/ a hair drier. It will help w/ removal. The adhesive should come off with the tape when it is warmed up...
Steve Mohr: what's the best way to go?
Steve Mohr: that is very helpful. do you have a recommendation on what tape is best?
John tech: The non-adhesive tape is just pulled tight while wrapping. Then the end cap holds it in place.
Steve Mohr: Does non-adhesive last as long?
Steve Mohr: I'm a commuter and durability is very important
John tech: I prefer cork tape. I am currently using Cinelli; most tapes are very similar.
John tech: Non-adhesive lasts just as long...
Steve Mohr: is that cork tape adhesive backed?
Steve Mohr: what's the advantage of non-adhesive? it seems like that would be easier
Steve Mohr: i've had non-adhesive tape get cut and then the whole thing unravels
John tech: It is not adhesive backed...
John tech: Non-adhesive is easier to wrap and unwrap.
Steve Mohr: ah! John tech: If you change bars, for example, you'll be able to reuse your tape. Steve Mohr: is it standard for cork to be non-adhesive?
Steve Mohr: okay, that helps
John tech: No, I think it is common both ways.
Steve Mohr: is the nashbar cork tape adhesive - NS-DCT
John tech: Yes, it is adhesive backed.
Steve Mohr: and that same tape each order includes one side of the drop down bar?
John tech: One package includes both sides of the bars.
Steve Mohr: how is cork for sweat soaking?
Steve Mohr: the cloth tape i've used seemed to absorb sweat
John tech: Not very good. You have never used cork?
Steve Mohr: I think I did maybe 20-25 years ago
Steve Mohr: I remember it was good for absorbing shock
Steve Mohr: it felt great
Steve Mohr: what is your experience? why do you like cork?
John tech: I like the feel of it.

I want durable tape that has a nice feel that isn't expensive. I don't want plastic tape because the sweat stays on your hands.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Since I haven't done much cycling lately I'll hearken back to better days before the latest wreck when I would ride intrepidly through city streets. Something reminded me of Cliff Drive which is near where I lived for a time in Kansas City. It was one of the few roads in Kansas City where you could ride with very few cars interfering. It is perched on a cliff, appropriately enough, overlooking the river bottoms 3 miles from downtown. There are so few cars there it's a little scary. There are a mixture of socioeconomic backgrounds in the neighborhood near the park. Groups of hispanics congregate in and near the park. I remember seeing some of them bathing in one of the fountains. Nearby was an overflowing trashcan with trash and baby diapers.

Most of the road most of the time was wonderful because trees arching over the road. The road itself was fairly level and wound around the edge of the cliff. There was an area where climbers had strung ropes to practice climbing and rappelling. The park had so much potential.

We lived nearby and it was easy to take a quick tour through the park. In 5 minutes we could get from our door to the start of the park. We had a special name for one part of the park: "the Hill".

The Hill was a very steep section of switchbacks that led out of the middle of the park to a mansion converted to a museum. The Hill was always a challenge. Whenever you approached the Hill you prepared for it. You either prayed to your God, or you decided how far up you'd try to make it, or tried to make gearing decisions on the approach. Everybody prepared in their own way but once you hit the Hill your plan had to go into action and quick decisions had to be made constantly. Plans fell apart quickly and dreams were shattered on the hill. I can also say that blood was shed on the hill.

The Hill was a test of conditioning. If you made it up without stopping the next test would be how fast or in what gear. The Hill didn't change; you changed.

When you approach from the downtown side you could make a rush at the hill without encountering oncoming traffic. The rush toward that first slope quickly is countered by the strong and consistent force of gravity. The first slope is steep but short. Next is the first switchback where you want to cut on the inside track to the right. Of course the inside track on a switchback is the steepest. For a short period, then, you bear a 20% slope. That sure takes the wind out of your sails. If you're not in the right gear for that portion it can spell disaster. You come to a grinding halt. Shifting going up that steep incline is out of the question. You have to turn back to shift. After the first switchback you just hit a wall with no relief. I don't know if I've ever done it out of first gear or without standing. I remember getting through most of it in about 3rd gear before collapsing into first one time. There is only one switchback then the road inclines on a fairly winding curve.

I've done this challenge with my kids several times. Sometimes the Hill becomes a pall over the ride, but other times attitude overcomes the dread.

The blood was shed when my intrepid daughter was making her leap at the first grade of the hill. She was pedaling a little too crazy without clip in shoes and missed the pedal. She went down. She was about 11 at the time. She is such a trooper. I picked her and the bike up to get out of the way even though there is so little traffic. I wanted to make sure she felt safe. After she got back on the bike, I pushed and she pedaled and walked the rest of the way up. I was so proud that she kept going. This was before I had a cell phone so there wasn't a lot of choice. Ah, those were the days.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

People always ask, when they see me riding in inclement weather, if I worry about getting sick. This is my perfect answer. Of all the years I've spent riding bikes I remember a 7 year period where I rode bicycles and motorcycles all year. During that time I didn't have a single illness. I worry about getting sick if I DON'T ride. If I get out and get the fresh air and clear my lungs regularly I don't get sick from the usual things. That's the statistic. Once I get sick I'm not sure what to do, but I have a good prevention plan. When is it safe to get back on the bike? That's a tough one. You have to know your body. I have always given myself plenty of rest. It helps me stay creative. I don't get as grumpy. I think it helps keep me from being sick. If I get sick a lot of rest goes a long way. My lungs tend to get congested if I don't get vigorous exercise. In the winter slow months, I tend to get thick mucus buildup in my airways. In the spring when I start the renewed exercise program, it takes a while to clear that up.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I just returned to the DC area after being in Kansas City for 10 years. I work in downtown Silver Spring, MD and keep a bike in my office for errands. I have planned to use the bike during the winter for occasional rides during the lunch period for exercise. Yesterday I went to meet a realtor about a house and rode my bike. The house was in Takoma Park. Round trip the mileage would only be about 6 miles, but I need to get the exercise. I had my rattrap pedals on my old Paramount so I wouldn't need the special shoes. That's just another excuse not to ride. The weather was chilly, about 30 degrees with a light breeze. I didn't even have my helmet, but I had gloves so I took off. I allowed 30 minutes to get to the location just to be sure I was on time. It took 15 minutes, so I was able to look around the neighborhood unobtrusively. There was a steep hill at the end toward the house which I knew would be a female dog to get back up.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I had a serious wreck with a car in December. It's time to get over it. It's time to get over the cold. I enjoy bicycling - do it! The other night I went out for a short brisk ride around the neighborhood on my recently purchased mountain bike. I have a steep (50% grade?) hill nearby that I could test the granny gears on. I put on a few warm clothes in the middle of the night, hoisted the bike out of the basement and took off. I had to just do it, if I thought about it too long the air would be out of my brains tires. I wanted to enjoy the wind and pedal furiously and take the steep descent and...

The previously rusted chain performed admirably. Shifters were stiff and took some getting used to. As I dropped down the steep incline I started thinking about the snow on the embankment/precipice I just steered into. Where there's snow, there's ice I thought suddenly. I started to apply brakes and prepare to crashland. I maintained speed, kept my butt off the saddle for flexibility. It went very smoothly. There was no sliding, no drop in my stomach, no wild swerving. I just felt the clean, clear, chilly air whistling by and the dark night watching from above.

I finagled the gears into a low position and scooted up the other side of the hill in triumph. It was a triumph of enjoyment of the moment, a triumph of willpower to get out and enjoy, a triumph over laziness.

I returned home in the dark night just a little healthier, a little saner and with increased motivation to keep doing it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sometimes I have back weakness. It doesn't hurt, but after a long ride I'll be very stiff. If there is a period of time when I don't ride like winter I'll experience it more extremely. To diminish this condition I try to exercise my lower back. Stretching helps as well.

Another related condition to bicycling fever is low bone density. So occasionally I take a long walk or a short run to give some density to the skeleton. Gotta keep the bones dense!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What amazing weather we've had in DC in January. It couldn't be due to global warming (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Yesterday, January 15th, the high was 68 degrees. I took off at 10am after a medium breakfast. I was not carrying any water because the bike I was riding doesn't have a bottle cage installed yet. It's a 70's Japanese bike built for the Japanese market. It's totally commuter friendly: FULL fenders, front AND rear racks, big comfortable tires and a cute little bell mounted on the stem. I haven't weighed it yet, but it's definitely 25 lbs or more.

I set my pace very easy because I knew it would be a long trek after 2 weeks of not riding. The day was a holiday to most and traffic was on the lighter side. It's normally a very busy road, but I started after the normal rush anyway. I did have one driver squeal to a stop behind me. The rest of the ride down was fairly uneventful. When I shifted the front derailleur to the small chainring it had frequent trouble clicking into gear. I stopped at Performance to have them check it out. They generously squeezed me in and didn't find anything wrong.

I felt very strong. The ride thru the park was very pleasant. During the park ride I came across a guy on a Gunnar road bike. We jockeyed a little. I adjusted to his pace and we began talking. He was heading into Silver Spring like myself. We talked as we climbed out of the park into downtown Silver Spring and I had plenty of wind. I told him the history of my bike. He said he never under estimates a biker with downtube shifters.

I went to the office for a couple of hours. I drank some fresca and chilled for a while. About 2:30 I was on the road back toward home. I took a different route. I spent more time in the park. This meant really slowing down because I had to use some of the trail. By the time I got to the halfway point I bonked. I didn't realize how hungry I was. I went to McD's and spent $8.50. Double-quarter pounder meal with a Filet-o-Fish got my blood sugar/protein level up. I went to adjust my stuff on the rear rack and I noticed the bolts were loose. One had completely come out. I tightened the one that was still there. My energy level was coming up. It didn't happen right away, so conservatively I went back to a Metro station to take the subway a few miles out. I got there and the train was not on a holiday schedule even tho it was MLK day. They wouldn't allow the bike on the train for 3 more hours.

I got on the bike and headed on. My body was feeling stronger and I continued on. The road was fairly level and the weather was spectacular for any time of year, especially January. I wasn't as strong as my trip downtown, but I was gaining steam. I was gaining strength. I knew my muscles wouldn't endure if I pushed it, so I kept a conservative pace going. Occasionally I would need to sprint to merge into traffic. Each time I did I wondered if I'd pushed too hard. I kept most of my riding in the high speed spin range. I made it home with very tired muscles, but no headache like I often have after such a long ride after a 2 week break.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New years day I went on the "I've done every ride this year" ride. I left Germantown to drive to the ride start which is in Mt. Airy. It was slightly overcast and comfortable (60 degrees maybe). When I arrived in Mt. Airy there was fog and it was cold. There were a couple riders already there and they were prepared for rain. As it approached ride time there were about 20 people there on new years day in the heavy fog. Most people picked up the cue sheet for 19.7 miles. There was one single mother there on a tandem with a add-on bike and a trailer. I was impressed! Everyone was saying they'd never seen that before. The oldest of the 3 kids was probably 8 or 9. Not much force in the power category.

There was a guy who showed up on this ride who had the nose of his seat pointed DOWN! I thought "he doesn't know what the heck he is doing". He had a mountain bike and seemed like a sane person. When the ride started he rode off in a wheelie! He stayed there as long as I saw him. Obviously he wasn't the fastest guy, but he was wheeling...

We started 25 minutes late after a group photo. This was my first ride with this group and my first ride after my bonk on Saturday. I knew I could do 20 miles standing on my head. The group took off very slowly and that was fine with me. There were a lot of young people 25-35 years old. They were impressed that I was out on my OLD '91 Paramount with fenders. One older guy commented that he couldn't believe the Paramount was my "beater" bike. He said that he would have been pissed off if I hadn't handled it so non-chalantly. I wasn't trying to impress anybody. I like to ride and this is one of my 3 bikes.

The small group I stayed with went at a very good pace. I'd say we were in the 16-19 mph pace. I followed cause I didn't know the route. About 5 miles into the ride a woman had a flat. I stopped to help and the rest of the guys waited ahead. My pump needs to be converted to presta and needed a wrench to do that, so we had to find another pump. (note to self - fix pump). I lent her my tire irons and another guy had a pump. She had previously worked as a mechanic so she could work quicker than I. She did fine. She couldn't get the pressure up in the tire tho. Finally it was sufficient.

We proceeded on and rode with a group of about 8 people that knew one another. Somewhere down the line someone realized that the cue sheet was incorrect and we had to backtrack to get on the right route. It was a good overall route and the heavy fog didn't create any problem. There weren't a lot of hills.

When we got back to the bike shop there were delicious fudge, cookies, pretzels and almonds to gorge on. Again I hadn't had breakfast and I paid the price. I need to remember to plan ahead in the morning.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

About 2 weeks after my accident I did a 45 mile ride and it went well. No pain in the shoulder. We gathered in Germantown where I live. The group that organized the ride is Potomac Pedalers. There were about 30 people that showed up. It was a beautiful clear, warm late December day. I brought my nice racing road bike: no fenders or rack. I wear a fanny pack for the extras. I had an extra windbreaker jacket in the pack. It turned out a lot chillier than I expected that morning. The daytime highs were approaching 70, but early in the morning it was quite nippy. I really didn't know what to expect. I'd been off the bike completely for 2 weeks. Prior to that I hadn't ridden a lot because of my busy schedule. Would I even be able to complete the 45 miles? The pace was to be A to BB which is 16-20mph. That would be easy 2 weeks ago. How hilly would it be? I knew we were in the vicinity of Sugarloaf mountain and near Frederick, MD. That could be pretty challenging. Everyone had the really fancy expensive bikes and high tech clothing.

It's always fun on these group rides to see the bikes and special gear. Someone asked about my generator light and they thought it was cool, so I was among tech junkies. I belonged.

The ride started at a very easy pace and I saved my energy. I had gotten a cue sheet cause I didn't know this ride at all. When I realized the pace was too fast I knew I shouldn't be in the lead group so I dropped back a little. Then about 15 miles out I dropped the cue sheet and someone pointed it out. So I went and picked it up. NO MERCY! The group was GONE! I found my place on the cue sheet and proceeded, seeing them always cresting the next hill ahead of me. I got to a point where I wasn't sure the direction and had someone standing nearby point the way. Then I thought I'd made a wrong turn later on and a guy on a fixxie straightened me out. I was further behind. The fixxie friend rode with me till we reached the rest stop/turnaround at a little mom n pop convenience store.

It was still quite chilly, but I was very warm with my multiple layers. I was almost too warm but when I unzipped the jacket my injured shoulder tensed up. So I decided to continue on with the jacket on and zipped up. If my shoulder had been okay I would have put the jacket away. Imagine that in late December!

For the return ride I was back with the group. There were about 6 of us. We were moving along at a comfortable pace. As time went on and we would approach minor hills I found myself in the back of the group. I didn't want to push myself too hard but I just didn't have it in me. The two weeks away had sapped my stamina. My legs felt good, my cardio was good, but I was petering out on energy. I also hadn't had any breakfast.

It was a beautiful route and the day was bright and sunny. If this had been mid-summer there were plenty of shady areas to find relief from the heat. I can't wait for this ride in the summer. As it was, about 5 miles from the end, I bonked. My legs gave out. I had a minor spasm in my thigh. I was wasted. It could have been the "no breakfast" mistake or the two weeks off. I did well to finish, but I was well behind the pace of the other riders in my group.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

After my wreck it's hard to get motivated again. It's not that I'm explicitly afraid, it's just that my innocence or joie de vivre is squashed. Bicycling has always been so important to me. It helps me to ground myself. The exercise keeps me alert. It helps me blow off steam. Oh, and it's fun! I've had wrecks before, but over time the innocence returns. I think I'm invulnerable. I think I don't need to wear the helmet. I think "why are people so afraid?". I want to get out in the wind again. I don't mind the cold.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Over the years I've bought 46 bikes. Some were Schwinns in the 70's and 80's. Some were French, Italian, English, Japanese, Canadian.

1) J.C. Higgins 20"
2) 16" american bike
3) schwinn sting ray
4) Jet Wind (Japanese)
5) Schwinn Orange Krate
6) Schwinn Continental X2
7) Schwinn Varsity
8) Phillips 3-speed
9) Fuji S-12-S
10) Fuji Newest
11) Kabuki - 1 week and was mugged
12) Motobecane
13) Peugeot U08 - Mafac brakes
14) Gitane
15-6) 2 American 10-speed bikes stolen quickly with toe clips
17) Schwinn Super Le Tour 2
18) Schwinn Suburban
19) Schwinn Mountain bike
20) Miele Mountain bike
21) Centurion Accordo
22) Austro-Daimler Vent Noir (campy)
23) Paramount - post-Schwinn
24-5) Trek 1000 x2 2005
26) Raleigh International 2002 Campy Centaur
27) Silk Gloire
28) Schwinn Deluxe Collegiate
29) Schwinn 24" Mountain bike

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I was riding home minding my business when out of the dark came a car. I'm riding next to the curb and the car crosses my path to make a right. I skidded, veered, and tumbled onto the pavement. I ride 2500 miles per year lately. I've ridden for 45 years and a lady who wasn't even born when I started riding knocks me off my bike.

I had just bought this really cool antique(?) bike. It was probably made in the mid-70's. It's a 12-speed with Sugino, Dia-compe, Pletscher, Sakae, Minoura, Suntour components. It had a 3 watt 6 volt generator that mounts where we used to put our kickstand. The generator gets it's traction on the road part of the tire rather than the sidewall.

I was all set for night commuting:

1) reflective vest
2) two large rear reflectors
3) Front and Rear lights

Now my beautiful bike is damaged.

Friday, March 24, 2006

from a long-time bicyclist who's putting on a lot more miles this year:

i've been riding for 45 years this year. i ride in all weather every year. most years i have averaged 1000 miles. i have never logged the amount i've ridden prior to this year. this last year i actually logged my mileage. i put on 2300 miles. YTD 2006 as of March 24, i've done 734 miles. i've got fenders on one bike for rainy weather. the other bike is more sporty. i started riding when i was 4 years old.

i got an old used Higgins 20" wheel standard style bike with fenders. i took the fenders off and put on a banana seat and high handlebars when i was 8 or 9.

Since then i've had about 45 bikes of various designs and manufacturers. i bought 1 bike new. i went thru 10-speeds, 12, 14 and now 20 speed. i never had a triple-crank front derailleur.

I ride for several reasons. First of all, i enjoy riding. i enjoy the quiet locomotion. i enjoy the freedom of the wind in your face. i enjoy the re-creation that goes on in my mind while i'm riding. it gives me (or i take) time to think. i'm completely distracted from the rest of my life. i get in touch with nature and with my nature. i feel my heart pump.

Reason number 2 is I ride for ecology. i can do a lot of driving on my bike. i've been riding to work twice a week this last year. it's 28 miles a day round-trip. i believe that our (earth and our individual) health will improve by riding. it's not hard to put together a bunch of reasons to ride based on this reason alone. the streets would be safer, less congested, quieter, smaller, and friendlier if more people rode bikes.

Reason number 3 is to save money. i'm cheap. i can buy a used bike and ride it for 15 years without a lot of expense. it will take me far, give me exercise and enjoyment. i get to the store and back in reasonable time. the alternative would be driving which costs me as a tax payer and me as an individual thousands of dollars a year. we build huge roads for internal combustion engine vehicles. bicycles wouldn't take that much road. cars require fueling, repair and maintenance, cleaning well beyond what i spend each year on my bicycle. so between monetary and time costs, cars are much more expensive for a lot of trips.