Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Hate It When This Happens

I went out for a little ride late this evening to clear my head. Had a lot going on in my life this week and few minutes of fresh air would have been good for my constitution.

I made it only a short distance from my house before feeling threatened by a motorist. It's not that this is an unusual event. I can count on a harassing honk or an attempt to guess my sexual orientation (they always guess wrong, I am heterosexual) once or twice a week at the minimum. Tonight it felt different.

I was riding off to the side of one of the main roads in town when a car decided to get menacingly close to me. Rather than traveling in the usual lane of travel this old hooptie drifted over into the gravel on the edge of the roadway and then just after they passed my the gunned the accelerator and spun out a bit in the gravel. This is all fine and good if we both continued on our merry way, it is nothing I'm not used to and I would have been able to enjoy the rest of my late evening ride. Unfortunately they decided to hit the brakes and slow down, seemingly to wait for me. I stopped pedaling and kept an eye out for their next move. As soon as I came to a stop they did too in the middle of a main street, only about 2 blocks beyond me. I decided to play it safe, so I flipped a 180 and sprinted home before I had a chance to fully determine their intentions.

At least I know this guy has got my back.

Some times I feel so vulnerable riding my bike. A few years ago I was riding home late one night after work and I felt a vibe similar to the one I felt tonight. In that instance a Ford Festiva traveling the opposite direction turned around and began to follow me. It wasn't long before they were creeping up on my back wheel and eventually forcing me off the road into people's yards. A freaking Ford Festiva, I was the only thing out on the road that night smaller than that car, and as such they decided to harass me. That night a couple of quick dashes through a few yards and the failure to signal a few of my turns allowed me make it home without sustaining bodily harm.

I'm not sure what motivates drivers in these situations, and I fully understand that these people are the exception rather than the rule, but I have worked with enough crazy people in my life to know that things could go really bad for me in a hurry if I don't act in a defensive manner.
So tonight I quickly turned off my flashing, high visibility lights, took a quick, car free short cut and made it home with no further incident. I'm not happy about my ride being cut short, but I much prefer it to having anymore grief in my life. I just don't need that right now.
Ride safe.

-bike wrider

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hard Decisions

The old dog isn't doing so well tonight. We'll see how he is tomorrow.
Makes me sad.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bike Club and Bike Locks

I received an email earlier this week informing me that there would be a Wednesday evening meeting for the local bike club. I moved to town over a year ago and I'm pretty sure the last bike club meeting took place about 6 months before I arrived. Not the most organized group of riders around here.
So I cleared my Wednesday evening schedule, scarfed a quick dinner with my wife and hopped on my bike to the meeting. I was hoping to meet a few local riders, sign some folks up for a polo emailing list, and enjoy watching the dysfunction of the small town cycling scene. I made it to the meeting location on time only to find no-one there. I double checked the address, then called my wife and asked her to double check the date. . . . sure enough, the meeting is next week.

No big deal, I'm prone to missing little details like this, so I adapted my evening game plan. I rode a couple blocks over to the grocery store to pick up a few things. I managed to remember everything on my mental list, then I ADDed around the store for a few minutes and picked up a couple of impulsive things. I checked out and paid for the groceries and opened my messenger bag to load up. That's when I noticed my bike lock sitting in the bottom of my bag, my heart sank. I hastily loaded my bag (I didn't even break any of the eggs in the process) and walked out to the parking lot. Thankfully my bike was still there. I suppose that is yet another perk of winter riding. When it is snowing and sloppy out bike thieves are a little less inclined to notice or steal your ride.

The ride home was lovely, a fresh layer of snow coated the town and I was extremely relieved to have a bike to ride home on. The moral of the story I guess is double check the dates of club meetings, and don't forget to lock up your bike.

-bike wrider

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Vacation Planning

I saw this video from the Riding The Spine guys and started thinking about a family vacation to Columbia after we get the Big Dummy built. Maybe we can do it once the little guy is old enough to get some of his international vaccine shots out of the way.


-bike wrider

Monday, February 8, 2010

Getting Dummer

There's going to be a new arrival in our household soon:

A combination of factors came together and made it possible for my wife and me to purchase a Surly Big Dummy frame and an Xtracycle longtail kit.

I'm hoping to get something like this built up for this summer. I've got to cobble together some parts, build a couple of wheels and get rolling sooner rather than later. I'm anticipating the final price tag with be significantly less than what a Big Dummy complete costs. Mr. Whirly cranks would be nice, but I can't justify it when we've got a bun in the oven.

Looks like our weekly polo games are about to get a little more interesting.

- bike wrider

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Ride

I got out and rode to the store to pick up a few things tonight. Happened to be during the big game, and I must say it was nice to ride across town while everyone else was staring at their tv's. I got to the grocery store and realized I had no means of paying for any purchases. It was cool to get there and have the parking lot at the grocery store practically empty, but the parking lot at all the bars and casinos were full. So I rode home grabbed some money and the game ended while I was riding back. I definitely preferred round 1 when I had the streets to myself to round 2 when people took to the snowy roads after enjoying a few during the game.

Made it home safely though, and even got one friendly honk after I waved, which is a change of pace around here. I also spotted one of the polo guys driving by as I pulled into the store and got a big wave.
The best part of the ride was the hoar frost that has been growing over the weekend. The crystals that develop just amaze me, I wish I had a camera that could get close up and do them justice.

- bike wrider

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I do most of my own bike maintenance, and by and large I think I do a pretty good job. I was pretty proud of myself on my last build when I successfully pressed in the headset with a homemade headset press. Nerve wracking, but successful. Friends and family seem comfortable hitting me up for advice or help when things aren't working properly on their rides. In fact I spent a good chunk of this evening on the phone and exchanging emails with my father in-law, helping him get his new cyclocross bike set up and dialed. I not a pro mechanic by any stretch of the imagination, but my greasy old Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance manual and Sheldon Brown have helped me handle most of the bike maintenance situations I encounter.

Every so often I am humbled though, and I sheepishly walk into my LBS and dutifully exchange a few dollars for a small amount their expertise. The other humbling scenario is I'm out on a ride and I notice something just isn't quite right. That was my experience this week.

A few months ago I put a new bell on one of my bikes. My lovely wife had kindly bought me a replacement bell for one that I broke in a dramatic, solo crash riding home from work one day. Being winter for the past few months I haven't needed to use this bell, there are no pedestrians to alert when I'm riding around, and drivers all have their windows up and sealed tight, so they won't here my little 'ring, ring.' Fiddling around on my ride home this week I tried to ring the bell for the fist time while riding. I remember mounting the bell, and it worked perfectly while the bike was on the stand. Not so much while riding. Apparently I mounted the bell with the little thumb lever pointing left, on the right side of my handle bar.


Definitely could have set this up to be easier to use. Not a big deal, and certainly an easy fix, but it serves as a comical little reminder that as confident as I may feel at times I am still an amateur mechanic. One of these days I'll take a few weeks and hang out at UBI and really figure things out. Until then it is an awkward little reach to ring my bell.

-bike wrider

There You Go Again

My commute last April 29

"There you go again" says my boss as he drives out of the parking lot in his huge pickup.

It's true there I go again, riding my bike when it isn't 70deg and sunny. Honestly the wriding on my commute has been fantastic this week. The snow from a few weeks ago has been packed down nice and firm and the temperatures have been in the low teens to 30's. Almost too warm as far a winter riding goes. Sadly I'm one of the only people in town enjoying the goodness. Somebody told my brother in-law the other day that they saw me riding across town. When he asked how they knew it was me, the response was "He's the only one out riding a bike in this weather."

Photos from this week's commute.

The odds are pretty good that it was me they saw. I definitely don't live in a cycling hotspot. People around here still think that winter is a time when you just put the bike away. It isn't like Anchorage or Minneapolis wear there are legions of folks who live for winter riding.
I'll keep trying to change that.

wride on,

-bike wrider