Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stay Informed. Stay Safe. Ride Your Bike.

What a fantastic article from Carl Alviani on Medium earlier this month. To say that all bicyclists should read this piece would be an understatement. In truth, everyone should read it; especially after the idiocy involved in the whole Santa Paula / Laura Weintraub situation out in California this weekend. The article says more about the realities of urban cycling than any other article I've read to-date, and is valuable information for anyone who uses the road with any form of transportation...ever.

In other news, the image above shows the bike rack that I normally use at Mercy Springfield. It's usually mostly empty. During Bike To Work Week it was a bit more heavily used, but it was definitely not as full as it was last week. I had to lock my bike up at the very end because there was hardly enough room for it. This is great news. Good work, coworkers!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Getting my legs back

I'm back!

After about 10 months working 50 miles away, I'm back working in Springfield. Woohoo!

I thought I could do it, make the transition from bike commuting to car commuting. After getting laid off from the newspaper, I really wanted to get back to work right away so I took an early job offer in marketing. In Kirbyville, Mo. That's an hour-long drive. Each. Way.

OMG, you guys, I thought that drive would kill me. I was getting up so early, and leaving for work before the kid even woke up. Plus, I had to drive all that way on the highway with elderly tourists and road ragers. Everything that was awful about driving to work happened during that drive to work. And then I'd have to leave early so I could rush back to town in time to pick up the little guy before his school closed for the day. And then there was hardly time to make dinner and hang out with my dudes before bed. And then I'd have to do it all over again.

Fortunately I was allowed to work from home two days every week, but it turned out I didn't like working from home very much. I wore a lot of stretchy pants and didn't bother fixing my hair on those days. It's also worth mentioning that that we had already downsized to one car so the dudes were left to bike to town through the winter.

I was sitting down all the time, I didn't feel good about myself and was so anxious I was breaking out in hives a lot of the time.

And so it happened that an entrepreneur Cody recently met needed to make an addition to her marketing staff, and I landed that gig!

The people in Kirbyville were so, so nice. I'll never forget them. But the lifestyle just wasn't what I wanted for myself, or for my family.

Now Cody and I work across the street from each other. I bike our boy to school in the morning. Cody and I bike home together for lunch. The hills are a little more challenging than I remember them being last summer, but that's okay. It feels like I get to fall in love with urban cycling all over again.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cyclists Are People Too

This picture was taken on the Jordan Creek Greenway. The graffiti is on the backside of the STD Central flea market across the bridge from Jordan Valley Park. I'm not sure what the thing painted in blue on the brick is supposed to be. Happy Anarchy Kitty, perhaps?

Cyclists are people too. It's a simple phrase, but it's packed with meaning. I'm thinking it needs to be disseminated widely - preferably in the same style as on the wall of STD Central. I'm talking same color, same font, everything. Maybe we can have it printed on t-shirts? Messenger bags? Street signs? Billboards? That's it. Definitely billboards.

Friday, June 20, 2014

We cruised, we brewsed

We finally had a nice, hot summer night for a Cruisin' for a Brewsin. Cody is less than thrilled about the weather, but I couldn't be happier. Bonus: Cody's parents joined us for this ride, making it 100% more fun.

Anyway, we did Dugout>Lindbergs>Mudlounge and then had to get home to relieve the sitter before we could get back to Dugout. A predictably great time. Made some new friends. Had some delicious adult beverages. It was a truly beautiful evening with some absolutely lovely people, and I can't wait to go again next month.

Buy a Brand New Bicycle

I've been reading Chin on the Tank and a handful of other motorcycle blogs that focus on resto-mods for a few years now. I love seeing some of the wild design concepts those guys come up with. While I occasionally entertain the idea of making the leap into motorcycle restoration, it's not something I've had the money, time, or drive to pursue. My small fleet of bicycles keeps me plenty busy and - for the most part - pretty happy. So I think I'll stick to simple, human-powered machines for the foreseeable future.

Earlier this week, Ed published a great post called Buy a Brand New Motorcycle and I couldn't get over how much it paralleled my experience in giving people guidance on buying a bicycle. When shopping for a bike, it's easy to get on Craigslist and be enticed by the $50-100 price tags of used machines. But two of the things I've learned from working on old bikes over the years are: 1) shit breaks and 2) people don't take care of their shit. Shearing old brittle anchor bolts and snapping derailleur hangers are pretty much par for the course if you work on an old bike long enough. And you can pretty much bet on dealing with bent chainrings, hubs and bottom brackets filled with molasses-like sludge, and derailleurs that have never been cleaned or serviced.

I enjoy a challenge and I take great pleasure in tinkering on my bikes, so bringing a neglected bike back into working condition - and fixing everything that gets jacked up while doing so - is all part of the fun. But not everyone has the time and energy to do this. And yeah, you're only going to spend $100 up-front for that 1970's roadster, but then you've got to pay to have the thing tuned up. That'll get you out on the road, but if you want it in really good working order you've then got to drop another $100 for an overhaul, plus an additional $100-200 or so in parts (cables, housing, tubes, rubber, brake pads, etc.). Now your investment is up to around $400-500, which is about as much as you'd pay for a pretty sweet flat-bar road bike. On top of that, most shops will service your bike free of charge if you buy it new from them, which is a major cost savings for ongoing maintenance.

So yeah, old bikes are cool, but don't fool yourself into thinking you're saving any money or getting some kind of bitchin' deal.