Sunday, December 20, 2009

Traffic 101 Class...

I taught my first Traffic 101 class last week, Dec. 10th and 12th, as a League Certified Instructor.   The group picture above in the middle shows most of the participants, left/right and front/back, Pamela, Shell, Susan, Vince, Chris, and James.  This was at Bodo's Bagels after lunch and before the ride.  Two other  participants not pictured are Carol and Jim.  Thankfully we had good weather though it was a bit chilly.  The on-road portion of the class took us on the Rivanna Trail from Riverside Park to the High St./250 bypass intersection.  We jaunted down Park St. between North St. and Melbourne, where we turned left.  It wasn't so bad in that spot, and traffic was kept at bay by a red light behind us so we could make our way to the left turn lane pretty comfortably.  A few of the participants took this class specifically to earn the pre-requisite the League requires to become certified instructors themselves.  We had a nice mix of experience that lead to fruitful conversations and a successful ride.  Thank you to all of the participants, and I look forward to the next one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cycling on the 250 Bypass

The Smart Cycling materials that the League of  American Bicyclists publishes states that "After completing this course, you'll be able to ride on any road that you choose, in a variety of conditions."  According to my experience that I've gained at this point, I chose to go a different route this afternoon on my way home from teaching a bicycle mechanics class at Ivy Creek School.  I continued straight on Hydraulic, crossed 29, continued to the 250 bypass where I turned left, and rode on the bypass.  The right lane actually has enough room for sharing with vehicles, and cars passed me comfortably as I rode down to McIntire.  The intersection you see in the photo is that of 250 and McIntire.  Imagine me coming toward you, positioned to the right of the facing semi truck.  It is here that I turned right, where a bike lane begins toward downtown Charlottesville.  Traffic actually doesn't travel much faster than it does on Georgetown Road, part of my normal route, and there is more room from the shoulder on the bypass.  I was harassed today on Georgetown Road by a passenger in a taxi-van by the way.  He yelled something out the window, but all I heard was something "cyclist."  I could tell it wasn't nice by his tone.  On the bypass, drivers seemed more aware of me, and seemed to conscientiously pass by the 2ft law of Virginia.  

Monday, December 7, 2009

Riding the Perkiomen and Schulykill River Trails in Pennsylvania

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to take all day, and ride the Perkiomen Trail and the Schulykill River Trail 30 miles into downtown Philadelphia.  On a day forecasted for 100% rain up until the night before, I had beautiful weather for my trip.  I caught the Perkiomen trail off of Arcola Road near Collegeville.  It runs directly into the Schulykill River Trail.   Part of the Perkiomen Trail is not paved, but can still be ridden with a road bike.  As the Schulykill River Trail comes into Manayunk, it becomes unpaved, but again still traversible on a road bike.  You could opt to hop up onto main street there and ride it to Kelly Street to connect back with the trail.  However, this is where it could get confusing for someone unfamiliar with it.  As you are coming out of Manayunk, the trail really is the sidewalk.  If you stay on the sidewalk, you can make a sharp right turn on what will become Kelly Street.  This also keeps you alongside the river, which is what you want.   You will come to the top of the Fairmount Park loop and see the bridge in the photo.  I forget the name of it.  There are a few bridges crossing the river throughout the park.  It is easy to stay on track from here all the way to the city.  You will pass the Art Museum, whose steps are now famous since the movie 'Rocky' was made in 1976.  I rode straight to the Italian Village to have lunch (fresh mozzarella, tomato, artichoke hearts on a poppy seed bagel and coffee).  Riding in Philadelphia is pretty comfortable.  There are many bike lanes, and many people bike already, so the drivers are somewhat accustomed to cyclists.  I took Spring Garden Street from the Art Museum area to 10th where I turned right to make my way down to Christian street area.  The Italian Market is on 9th street in that area.  After lunch I rode directly back on the trails, but not before buying some fresh cut cappellini pasta and some chocolate.  On the way down while on the Manayunk part of the trail, two women were walking and had spotted a couple of blue herons that have been living there for a few years now they said.  The birds were startled though and we couldn't see them.  On the way back however, I got to see them right on the trail.  They were gathering dinner.  One of them had a fish hanging out of it bill.  They are beautiful birds, and it was great to get to see them.  By the time I got back to Arcola Road it was dark.  I didn't have to be on the road for long, but it is still better to be seen than to be sorry.  I was prepared with some reflective items and lights.  It was easy enough to throw these things on just before turning onto the road.  These trails are part of a larger trail system in the area.  It was pretty nice to be able to ride off road for such a great distance.  There were plenty of spots I could see traffic on the highways, and was happy that I was not part of it.  I could have pulled my daughter in her trailer, though there would have been a few places I would have had to walk the bike.  In the morning on the way out there was alot of debris (large sticks, branches, leaves) that cluttered the trail through the Valley Forge portion from the previous nights rain and storms.  But on the way back all of that had been cleared.  They do a great job of maintaining it.  To see more photos of the ride you can visit my flickr page from the link on this blog.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Solo Thanksgiving Ride

  Enjoyed a perfectly peaceful bicycle ride yesterday.  Thanksgiving day may be one of the lowest traffic days of the year, and an excellent time to be on a bicycle on the road.  It was a 30 mile jaunt from Belmont in Charlottesville north to Ruckersville.  By the way, if you are local and aren't already aware of this, the bridge at Advance Mills Road and Fray's Mill Road is not crossable at the moment.  Albemarle County really is one of the most beautiful places in the country.  Though the weather was in the mid 50's, I could see that winter is not far away since many of the trees have already lost all of their
 leaves.  I viewed some gorgeous river scenes, watched a sparrow fly right alongside me for a few seconds, heard the birds chirping, saw a hot-air balloon, watched dear watch me back, saw shetland ponies, horses, cows, the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I also saw one of the very rare and elusive white tigers of Albemarle County!  
Here was my route:  Elliott Avenue/Avon (right)/Monticello Ave (left)/6th (right)/Garrett (left)/2nd (right)/Water (left)/2nd (right)/Market (left)becomes Preston,Barracks,Garth/Free Union road (right)/Woodlands (right)/Rea's Ford (left)/Earlysville road (left)/Advance Mills (right)/Fray's Mountain (left)/Buffalo River (right)/Durettes Ridge (right)/Advance Mills (left)/Cedar Grove (right).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bike Ed for Youth

Last June I became a League Certified Instructor through the League of American Bicyclists.  I am officially LCI #2488.  I've already had the opportunity to utilize that status to teach Bike Ed to youth at Ivy Creek School here in Charlottesville.  It was an 8-week course that finished yesterday, and went very well.  Of course the kids loved being on bikes, and they all learned how it important it is to ride on the right side of the road, how to signal appropriately, how to use their brakes properly, how to be responsible leading others on a ride, etc...  It was neat that we were able to utilize the driver's education driving range behind Albemarle High School.  That enabled us to simulate in a real to life way actually being on the road.  I will have the opportunity again to teach another 8 week course there in the spring.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rail Trails are Great!

In the middle of last October I was in Maryland, which is a beautiful state for cycling.  I don't just mean scenic.  I also mean attitude.  The state seems to care about cyclists, and it shows.  They have many rail trails, two of which my daughter and I rode (her in the trailer).  One is the Cross Island Trail, and the other is the Western Maryland Trail.   I'm going to be a bit lazy, and ask you to click on the previous links for more info about each of them.  They are both excellent trails that serve their purpose of taking us a bit closer to nature, and getting us out of the rat race of life.  There are other trails I hope to ride later, one being the Annapolis/Baltimore Trail, and eventually I hope to explore the roads of Maryland as well.  
The Boys and Girls Club cycling challenge team I helped coach received the new 2009 event jerseys last night.  Here we are sporting them for the first time.  It's a pretty good looking bunch.  Starting in the back from left to right: Matteo(coach), Scottie, Chase, Jeffrey, Morgan, Melissa(coach), (kneeling) Hanan, Katarina, and Victor.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Right hook... Left undercut...."

...two of the most common car/cyclist crashes that happen.  The right hook is when a car turns into you for a right turn when you are continuing straight through an intersection.  The left undercut is the one that almost got me.  Last  Saturday on my way home from a Boys and Girls Club cycling challenge training ride, I was almost hit by a car.  I had just gone through an intersection at Garrett and 2nd street (by the 'glass' building) on my way down to the stop light at Monticello when a car began turning left into the ACAC parking lot.  I was in the middle of the lane in full view, it was daylight, I don't know why the driver did not see me, until the last moment that is.  I slammed on both of my brakes, the rear wheel started to skid, she began slowing down but realized she might be better off continuing so she put her foot back on the gas.  That did help me avoid hitting her car as I buzzed closely by the trunk.  WHAT WAS SHE DOING THAT SHE DIDN'T SEE ME?!  As cyclists, we must be vigilent and look for cars before they see us.  I never expected one to turn directly into me.  Now I'm always looking for left turners who may come into my path.  

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fuji Touring Series IV, the King of Fujis...

(Check out more info about the Touring Series IV in its feature in the book The Dancing Chain by Frank Berto in another post I made.)

This one is also from the mid-80's.  It is an excellent tourer, quad-butted steel tubing, 3 water-bottle cages, front rear racks for panniersOrtlieb Back-Roller Classic Rear Waterproof Pannier (Google Affiliate Ad), extra-spokes holder on the chainstay.  I set it up with new 'old' components with a 20 in. low gear and 100 in. high gear.  Later in life I hope to take this on many long trips across the USA, maybe Europe if possible too.  I did have 'phat' bar tape on the handlebars with gel pads underneath, but I didn't like the look of it, too big, and I always wear good, padded glovesPearl Izumi Cyclone Gel Glove - Red In Size: XXL (Google Affiliate Ad), so realized it is not necessary.  Also, having it on the bars is like trying to play piano with gloves on, you loose a sense of touch and feel.  I like the sleaker look of the silver cinelli bar tape, and I have a better feel for handling the bike.  That saddle may look like a brooks, but it is a nice, leather Japanese-made Fujita.  

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bicycle Advocacy is Hard Work

It was a tough day of tabling at the Meade Street Farmer's Market for Charlottesville Community Bikes here in C'ville yesterday.  I was there for 4 hours, and forgot to bring a chair.  The good ol' Fuji del Rey is being put to work too, holding our banner.  What a great team player.  I was hoping to sell a few raffle tickets and  a couple of t-shirts, but that didn't happen.  Oh well, maybe next time.  We have until Dec. 21st to sell 1,000 of the raffle tickets.  Will we do it?  

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Illinois Prairie Path

Have you heard of the Illinois Prairie Path?  I hadn't either!  I was informed about it by local Chicago cyclists when I asked for advice on the best route to take from Oak Park, IL to Lombard, IL.  It is almost 70 miles of bike/walking path that runs from Maywood, IL to Elgin, IL, and was a pleasure to ride as well as efficient.  To start learning about it you can go here.

Ride on the Right Side of the Road!

Have you been taught that you should ride your bike on the left side of the road?  Do you know that is wrong and puts you in more danger?  I just returned from a trip to Illinois.  Somewhere in Ohio near the West Virginia border I saw a kid riding on the left side of the 2 lane highway on which we were driving.  Cyclists are vehicles when they are on the road, and to be most visible and predictable for drivers of cars, they should be acting like any other vehicle and drive on the right side of the road.  For more information on this and other rules of the road check out this great website.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Scenic Beauty of Central Virginia (and I'm not talking about me and my bike!)

Here is a fragment of the scenes we ride by on the Boys and Girls Club challenge rides.  There is no lacking of fresh air, beautiful farms, blue sky, the blue-ridge mountains, singing birds, frolicking deer, buzzing bugs, horses, red barns, single-engine airplanes overhead, etc, etc, etc.......  It really is beautiful and peaceful.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fuji bicycle enables me to get a haircut.

While my wife was at playgroup with our daughter, I had time to make a quick ride down to Ana's Salon in Belmont to get a much needed haircut.  It was also a good chance to practice mi espanol since it is owned by Ana, who is from a Spanish-speaking country (I forget where).  The woman who cut my hair was from Mexico, close to Mexico City.  I wonder how you say Fuji in Spanish?  (That's a bad joke.)  What you see to your left is my 1984 Fuji Berkely.  I bought the frame off of craigslist for $25.  Unfortunately, there is a small dent in the top tube, but it shouldn't really be a problem.  Ah, I can see in the photo I need to adjust the front of the seat down a bit.  What you see to your right is me with a fresh haircut.  Muy Guapo!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Awesome Fuji 3-speed!

(I recently turned this Bedford into a 5 speed with nice, gold, aluminum Ukai wheels.  Check it out now.)

We took part in a very relaxing country bike ride here in Albemarle County last May.  I rode this beautiful specimen, my 1985 Fuji Bedford 3-speed. Comfy, upright, and still super fast.  I need to get that rear fender fixed and reinstalled.  For more pictures of the ride please visit my flickr page by clicking on its link in the sidebar.

Morning Outing...

This is my 1982 Fuji Del Rey with which I pull the trailer that my daughter rides in very joyously.  She is almost 21 months old, and loves her helmet.  She wore it the other morning for about 3 hours and we didn't even go anywhere.  We beat the rain, and made it home for some sausage and an omelet before taking a rainy day nap.