Archive for category How To

in the saddle…

I’ve set out in the rain and come home dry, or mostly dry.

I’ve sat comfortably behind big men, the ones that are as wide as Volkswagen Beetle.

I’ve dropped those same men.

I’ve been dropped by women.

And old men.

I’ve set out in the sunshine and come home wet.

I’ve stopped, not because I needed to rest but because I wanted a moment to take it in.

I’ve sat up when the gap was too big.

I’ve had road rash.

I’ve run red lights.

I’ve been defeated by headwinds.

And Coleman Valley Road.

I’ve stopped for wildlife.

I’ve been honked at.

And yelled at.

And waved at.

And smiled at.

I’ve slowed down to chat with strangers.

I’ve taken turns at the front.

I’ve been stopped by the police.

I’ve underdressed.

And overdressed.

I’ve suffered.

But mostly, I’ve had fun.

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Act Now!

After a week of rain we’re getting a break from the late winter this week (rumor has it that it might rain again tomorrow but, it’s going to be almost 70°). It’s about time y’all start thinking about commuting.

Lucky for you, between now and Sunday you can go to Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery and trade in that SUV for a bike.

Customers can pick out a new bike at the cyclery — which features a giant flat-screen TV, leather club chairs and an espresso maker, not to mention some sweet two-wheeled rides — then head over the Ford dealership. They’ll trade in their cars, get a check and head back to the bike shop. Any leftover money goes back to the customer.

If I only had an extra car.

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On the rain

First, let me apologize for how quiet it’s been around here recently. Kurt and I happened to go on family vacations at the same time this year (not together) and that, a week or so off of work, always comes with a week of frantic preparation and a week of frantic catching up. Or, at least, that’s my excuse, I think Kurt’s probably still lost on some beach in Hawaii.

I spent about 8 days on the California Central Coast and, between beaches, drives down to Big Sur, trips to the aquarium and shuttling around my wife’s 15 year-old half-sister, I managed to get out for a couple of bike rides in pretty fantastic weather.

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I returned home only to find that the rain we’d been missing all winter was due to arrive just in time for my (now dark) morning commutes,

Thirty minutes (or just under) is about perfect when you’re talking about riding in the rain. At 50° it’s not cold enough to get the chills and just as the water starts to slosh around in your shoes and breach the “water resistant” barrier jacket you’re wearing, you’re pulling into the parking lot at work and (careful not slip due to the wet tile, cycling shoe combo) heading into the locker room to change into some dry clothes.

Then, after you’ve hung up socks and jackets and laid out your shorts and jersey to dry in the back of your cubicle, people walk by your desk and say, “you didn’t ride today, did you?” And suddenly you become a hero, at least temporarily, for braving the elements and showing dedication to the cause. Or, maybe they add it to the list of things that make you weird, right after “wears Lycra in public.”

At least, that’s my experience.

,

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Pro-Tip

If you must ride your bike to your local Occupy protest,do not throw it at the Police:

One officer suffered a cut to his face when a demonstrator threw a bicycle at him

You’ll probably end up in jail.

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motorist tip of the week, 18

It was dry in Sacramento for the morning commute today but the rain should get here by the time most of us head home, so, from the CHP:

  • Drive with headlights on.
  • Apply brakes more slowly; they may pull.
  • Leave extra distance between your car and the next motorist/CYCLIST!.

I’ve made a little addition, did you notice?

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motorist tip of the week, 15

Roll down your windows.

Ok, this doesn’t really have anything to do with making the road safer for cyclists, but it’s a good idea. I found myself in the car alone the other day. It was a little brisk outside but sunny and dry. So, I rolled the windows down. It really made the entire experience much more enjoyable.

Give it a go.

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Motorist tip of the week, 11

Be visible and predictable.

Most often this is one of those tips given to cyclists as means of protecting themselves from motorists. And, though I define “visible” a little differently than others, I’m on board with both of those things as they apply to cyclists.

Motorists need to meet the same standards. Visibility is easy. I’m not suggesting you run out and paint your civic Hi-Vis yellow (so please don’t suggest I wear one of those vests) just turn your headlights on when it’s difficult to see (and make sure they both work). A lot of newer cars take care of this for you, so it shouldn’t be difficult.

Predictability is also pretty easy. Drive in your lane (use two hands if you’re having trouble with this). Signal when you’re going to turn. Start braking for a stop earlier rather than later (bikes can rear-end you too). Stop at stop signs. Etc. It really helps cyclists out because, believe it or not, we watch what you guys are doing in those cars and we try to avoid getting run over.

Update: I just noticed this was our 500th post. Surely that deserves a celebration of some kind…

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flash them

Comic from here. Via.

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By Bike | What’s in your bag?

At Levi’s Gran Fondo I saw more than one cyclist with bags just about everywhere you could imagine putting one – for example at least two bikes had the following set-up: a saddle bag, a bento box on the top tube, a triangular bag under the top tube, and a handle bar bag (the only thing missing was a fanny pack).

I could carry two of everything I’d stuffed in my pockets (which were full) and still not need <em>that many</em> bags. And, this was a fully supported ride with rest stops every 20 miles or so. I just didn’t get it.

Of course, it was a long a ride with changing weather conditions and I could see the need for adding a saddle bag so one might have room for some arm warmers and a gilet (the one I borrowed from Sera without her knowledge never left my back). So, I was willing to suspend strict enforcement of Rule #29. But I’m pretty sure some people brought every bicycle accessory they owned (this might also explain the handful of people I saw on the side of the road using floor pumps).

For the first few years I rode, I used a saddle bag (a small one that barely fit a tube, a CO2 canister, levers, & a mini-tool). It was terrified of forgetting something when I went out for a ride and the bag, which never left my saddle, was an easy way to ensure everything was always there. Now, the only bag I ride with is the Chrome Citizen I wear on my back when I commute. There have been times, particularly when I’m hauling my coffee press home for a ride in the dishwasher, when the bag has seemed to gather more than I need and I’m forced to parse some of the items I’m carrying, but mostly, it only contains what I absolutely need for the day.

So, I was a little shocked with I saw this:

Now, I don’t want to pick on Ted – I very much enjoy Commute By Bike – but that photo came after he’d written this:

I’m also not getting enough exercise from my puny bike commute — less than two miles when I take the shortcuts. I never even work up enough sweat to worry about changing clothes. I just commute in the same clothes that I will wear all day.

I just can’t help thinking, If he’s wearing the clothes he plans to wear all day, what’s in all those bags?

I ask, not because I find Ted’s style particularly offensive or because I think The Rules should be seriously enforced. I ask because, like my opting to wear Lycra to work, I wonder if commuters who need to carry 3 bags to work daily, might make commuting look difficult and out of reach for the general public. There are plenty of things that bug me about the cycle chic movement (women pedaling in high-heels, for instance) but at least those people look like they woke up, got dressed (picked out something they felt was stylish even) and got on a bike. Photos like this (image from Sac Cycle Chic):

make cycling look accessible and fun.

I wouldn’t say the same thing about a photo of me in the drops with a 17 pound bag on my back or the photo of Ted’s seemingly overloaded commute bike.

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Motorist Tip of the Week, 8

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.

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