Archive for category By Bike
It is Tuesday, December 20, 2011. This morning it was 27 degrees Fahrenheit when I left for work at 6:20. I rode my bike.
For nearly 11 months I’ve been bike commuting. The bulk of the 3500 miles or so I’ve ridden this year have carried me to and from work. I still feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. But, with 11 days left in the year (only 3 of which will demand bike commuting) I’m not sure I’m going to meet the goal I set for myself back in January. As of today, I’m not even sure how many miles I have left to ride (according to Strava I’ve got 3490 miles under my belt but I’ve not uploaded a ride since 12/05) and I’m not sure I even care anymore.
There it is. There’s the sentence that sounds a lot like someone rationalizing the failure to meet goal. But really, I’m not saying I won’t (I might not) I’m just saying I’m not as concerned with it as I was at one time.
Early on in this experiment with bike commuting it was the novelty of using my bike as means of transportation that got me up early in the mornings and pushed me out the door despite being ill prepared for cold weather and dark mornings. As the novelty wore off, the goal I’d set for myself helped me up into the saddle on the tough mornings. Today, today I woke up and pulled on my kit and rolled out into the early morning cold because it’s the way I get to work (it was the having to go to work part I found most difficult). It will be the same tomorrow. It’s the routine.
Which isn’t to say I don’t love it. I just don’t need any goal to keep me going.
Update: Strava is now reflecting my “official” mileage: 3,574.
Growing up a good friend’s dad had a hairy back and chest. I don’t mean normal hairy. I mean, every summer when we all went to the lake he’d get ready to go for a swim and you’d want to shout, “don’t forget to take off your sweater!” My legs aren’t quite that hairy.
[photo omitted for your sake]
For a brief stint of my cycling career I started to shave my legs. It’s what you do. I was told. It’s better, they said, to be hairless in the event of a crash. It looks cool.
And it’s true, cyclists and swimmers are among the only male athletes that can claim leg shaving looks cool.
So, that was pretty much it. If you’re the kind of cyclist that wears lycra shorts, then you should shave your legs. It’s a rule, in fact.
But here’s the thing. I didn’t like shaving my legs. It took too long and any razor I used would be dull before I finished my first calve. Also, it turns out, when you have stick thin climbers legs, it doesn’t look as cool. On top of that, I didn’t race and the idea of planning my life around the rare crash – I’ve had one where shaved legs might have helped – just seemed silly.So I stopped with leg shaving.
Every now and again I get a little grief. Our friend Kurt has called me out for breaking rule #33 (last time I rode with him, I was able to put the hurt on Kurt, so he couldn’t talk too much, I’m not sure if that’s true anymore). And more than once a pedestrian has commented on my built-in leg warmers. Yes, even pedestrians know to make fun of my legs.
But I’m not worried because you’re doing something wrong too.
That’s right, you probably have the wrong shoes. Or wear a helmet. Don’t wear a helmet. Drops on your commuter. Flat bars. Platform pedals. Clipless. Freewheel. Foldie. Saddlebag. Camelbak. Bar tape is wrapped the wrong way. Wrong glasses. And so on.
The list of things you’re probably doing wrong is never ending. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Or, maybe you shouldn’t. At least you got the most important thing right:
You’re riding a bike.
Comic from here. Via.
It’s dark at 6:00 am (and cold, but that’s a different story). The darkness (and the cold) has thinned out the already svelte bike commuting crowd. Of the bike commuters left, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who refuses to wear a neon yellow top. I have my reasons.
And, I’m not even sure hi-vis jackets and vests work all that much better than other visibility solutions. There doesn’t seem to be much out on the interwebs linking blindingly yellow clothing to cycling safety, “there seems to be even less research on the effectiveness of high-visibility clothing for the bicyclist than for the motorcyclist.”
Much of the clothing I wear is black or gray but also has built in sections of reflecting fabric making me, at least somewhat, visible in the dark. But, more than that, the flashing white headlamp and the red taillight I ride with in low light should do more to make me visible than even the brightest yellow (and unlike reflective clothing, my lights don’t rely on others having their lights on).
Many cyclists out there probably look at my refusal to wear hi-vis clothing and think it’s foolish (much the same way I look at people who eschew helmets). In fact, one thing “research” turned up was a high number of websites suggesting, with no data to support the claim, that wearing hi-vis clothing is a must. Some may even feel that Hi-Vis clothing is the most stylish and fashionable trend in cycling since spider helmet covers. Which helps explain the guy I saw this morning in a bright yellow jacket without any lights on his bike.
I’m not convinced on either count.
When there are two (2) left turn lanes1 do not line up behind the cyclist and get mad because the cyclist let the BMW in the other lane beat him off the line.
Cyclists are fit and many are fast but most have nothing on precision German2 engineering. It is, however, ok to line up behind the cyclist and wait patiently for them to get through the intersection in front of you.
1This applies to anytime there are two lanes to choose from but seems to be a problem mostly when turning left.
2Not just applicable German cars. In fact, this applies to just about all motor vehicles.
That bike is probably moving faster than you think it’s moving.
It seems to me that most motorists think bikes don’t, under any circumstance, move any faster than a speed walking pedestrian. It’s not true. Sometimes it’s best to wait behind the cyclist for a bit – he may be going 3 mph slower than you but, and trust me on this, it’s not that big of deal to wait a few minutes for an opportunity to pass safely. You guys will probably end up at the same red light anyway.
I’ll spare you the long explanation. Instead I’ll let you think about as you watch me pedal past you at the intersection and try to move your foot from the brake to the gas.
The first one to the red light has to wait longest.
Riding home from work on Wednesday, coming down International Blvd, a woman in a white Lexus was coming out of the driveway of her office complex. Now, any cyclist knows that driveways, especially office driveways at quitting time, are some of the most dangerous bits of road. Knowing this, I make it a point to lock eyes with a motorist as I approach, looking deep into his or her soul to determine if it is safe for me to proceed. When I saw this woman, I hesitated for a half second because she was looking away from me, to her right, and I wasn’t sure she’d seen me in her brief glance my way. But, when she turned her head back and our eyes met, she smiled. It was a warm and welcoming smile that said, “take your time, I’ll wait,” and perhaps, “I wish I was out riding my bike,” or, less likely, “you sure look good in that Lycra.”
The point is, the smile went a long way to making me feel safe even after I crossed the driveway in front of her and she turned right and passed me. I knew she understood what often goes unsaid, that, while we had chosen different vehicles, our goal was the same; we both wanted to get home and that stretch of road was no more hers than it was mine.