Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I got a bit creative yesterday. Cold air rushes through the bottom of the back sliding door with the force of a squalling gale. I happened to have the metal piece hanging around which already had holes in it. So after cleaning the tube, I cut it open, sliced it down to size and attached it to the metal piece with screws and bolts to add weight to it. Then I used some left over double sided tape from Frost King to attach it to the door. It does the job pretty well.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
You wouldn't want to sit on these steeds. They are not as trusty as you might think. There are large metal spikes poking up through each of the seats to prohibit people from getting up there.
Yesterday I was fortunate to ride two more rail trails: The York Heritage Rail Trail and the North Central Railroad Trail. They seamlessly meet at the Mason Dixon Line that marks the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland, and both run about 20 miles long for a total of about 40 miles. This was a one way only trip for me, and thankfully it worked out that I had to do it going north to south. There is a slight downward grade in that direction.
Even though they seamlessly connect, they are not the same trail. The York Trail is much wider and has a smoother surface. It is a few years younger though. It runs directly next to the rails, which are still active. This is called a 'rail with trail.' One thing I did not think to do before the ride was check the train schedule for that rail line. However, a train did not come by while I was on the trail. There were always houses in view from this trail, so I never felt completely alone. Not many people were out using it, but every now and then I would pass another cyclist or someone walking their dog. I came across one stray dog sniffing along the tracks. I saw him up ahead, and decided to get off my bike. He slowly came toward me, and scurried past in an uncertain way. He must have felt the same way as I did. Based on a few encounters with other dogs while on my bike in the past few months I was ready to get out the pepper spray.
The North Central Trail is starkly different. It is much narrower, a bit of a rough ride (at least at the northern end), and goes through Gunpowder Falls State Park so it is more 'out there.' Remember, this trail is older, built in 1984. I realized that the Fuji Touring Series IV I was on is actually the same age, built in '84 as well. There were times I felt pretty alone (and vulnerable). That feeling never lasted for long though. I encountered more people using this trail. This one is a 'rail to trail,' meaning it was made directly over the old rail bed that used to be there. No dog encounters on this one, but a friendly stranger, Jerry, approached me as I was taking a picture of the I-83 overpass. He noticed my league cycling instructor jacket, and had a question about pedaling technique. I noticed he bought his bike from Mt. Airy Bikes, one of my favorite shops in Maryland. We ended up riding a few miles together and talking before he veered off to where his car was parked.
Despite being pretty chilly, the weather was perfect for a ride. I've realized that if I only do my rides in good weather I'm going to miss some special times. I was ready to ride in the rain yesterday, but am thankful I didn't have to. I was prepared for the cold with proper gear, so it didn't affect me at all. I was very comfortable on the bike. I had plenty to eat and drink and did so every 10 to 15 minutes. I don't get to ride consistently these days, but I was able to find some time in the two weeks leading up to this ride to get in some miles. That helped me tweak my bike mechanically and deal with a bit of a fit issue. The things I did to prepare for yesterday's ride helped it to be successful.
Last Sunday, my local bikeshop, Bikesport, in Trappe, PA, held a Pedals 4 Progress bicycle collection event. I went to help prepare the bikes for transport in the truck and containers. They will all eventually go overseas to other countries where the recipients will use them for transportaion. These bikes will greatly enhance their mobility and daily life. I was wondering if I would see an old fuji come through, and at the last moment I did! It was a Sports 10 model from the late 70's. It is not high end, but it is nonetheless a decent, well-made frame that should be able to perform any task asked of it in its new home.
I had a great time meeting more staff at Bikesport, and also meeting Gary of P4P. They are all great people really helping to make a difference.
I had a great time meeting more staff at Bikesport, and also meeting Gary of P4P. They are all great people really helping to make a difference.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I got to go on a 20 mile ride last Sunday on the Perkiomen Trail. I took my 3 year old with me in her trailer. I had the feeling before leaving that I should check over the touring series iv, specifically the nuts and bolts to make sure everything was tight. However, I did not do it. Don't worry, nothing bad happened and nothing broke. After about 10 miles though I noticed a knocking sound and feel in the crank, especially as the drive side pedal came over the top. The immediate thing to check was the bottom bracket. No, that wasn't it. The crank arms were secure. What about the pedals? No, my cleats were secure, and the pedal spindles were not loose. Hmmm, I wondered, what could it be then. I continued riding and thinking. A few miles later it dawned on me. Maybe it is the crank bolts. I should have stopped right then, and checked them, but I continued on home. At home before putting everything away, and going inside, I finally relented to the nagging feeling I had to check the bolts. Low and behold, a couple were loose; loose enough to be the cause of a knocking feeling and sound while pedaling. I was happy to have the problem solved since I like a nice, quiet bike. The crank bolts usually aren't the first thing to think about when dealing with a problem like that, but they are important. A crank bolt could be easy to miss if it loosens enough to fall out. I've seen what can happen eventually if a missing crank bolt is overlooked or ignored. The chainring can bend and break due to the force that the chain puts on it. This happened to a patron I worked with in the Community Bike Shop in Charlottesville, VA a few months ago. He didn't know how his chainring had bent until I was looking it over and finally noticed one of the bolts missing. Not only did it ruin his chainring, but it also ruined the front derailleur and the chain. It all broke at once as he powered up a hill one day. So it could also be dangerous by possibly causing you to fall, maybe even into traffic. Don't forget the little parts of your bike. They are just as important as all of the big parts, and some maybe even more so.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I received a surprise in the mail today. It is good timing too in that it fits right in with my last two posts. The book is from my cycling friends in Charlottesville, VA who are involved with the Community Bike Shop there. I'm grateful to them for thinking of me, and sending this to me. I miss you all! They are still there working hard at the shop, and in the community to promote cycling and all of its benefits. I wish I could still be there with them. Cycling continues to grow and gain respect in Charlottesville, and it is because of them. Thank you Thomas, Shell, James, Richard, Chris, Alan, Will, Bryan, Cyrus, and Ashby. I think of you all often.
It is a book with brief commentary and full of great photos that depict cycling in all of its pain and glory. Here is a definition of Rouleur.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Another of my favorite cycling books is Cycling's Golden Age. This book has fun facts about racers from before World War II through the 1960's. It is also replete with excellent photos of the time. One of the most exciting Tour de Frances from this time period was the one in 1958, in which a cyclist of my namesake, Vito Favero, placed 2nd overall. He is mentioned in this book in the discussion of Charly Gaul, the first place finisher of that race. I don't know if we are related, but it does help me feel more of a connection to the sport that seems to have found me 4 years ago. It makes me feel like cycling is in my blood (however cheesy that sounds).
One of my favorite cycling reference books is The Dancing Chain: History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle by Frank Berto. If you are going to purchase this I highly recommend getting the updated and expanded version published last year (2009). Not only is it full of every detail you would ever need to know regarding the bicycle and its components past and present, but it is full of very excellent and detailed accompanying photos as well. You can imagine how happy and delighted I was to find my very own Fuji Touring Series IV featured prominently in such an exhaustive and respected source.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
This is not actually MY gluteus maximus.
Cycling is very special in that it can keep a person smart yet humble. As I mentioned in my previous post, I rode to the Philly Bike Expo yesterday. It was a 30 mile ride. Pretty early in the ride my knees started to hurt. I've dealt with this issue before, and thankfully it hasn't been consistent. However, whenever you feel pain or discomfort on your bike it needs to be addressed. I began thinking of what might be causing my pain. Is it the cold? Is it that my rides are just too few and far between these days, so I'm just weak? Is it my positioning on the bike? Am I too low, too high, too close to the bars, too far? Is my core just not strong enough? I had to admit that I wasn't going to average above 10 miles per hour, and that I probably wasn't going to be able to ride the same 30 miles back home later in the day. This is what I mean that cycling can keep you humble.
While I was at the expo I attended two seminars. The first one was on bike fit presented by David Greenfield, president of Elite Bicycles. First of all, he was hilarious. He was very good at warming up a room, and has a special way of connecting with people. He knows his stuff too, which was apparent from all of the appropriate big words he used for internal body parts. The main insights I was able to garner from this session for myself personally (apart from having to pay alot of money to go through an awesome fitting session with him) is that I probably had a cleat adjustment to make, and I need to build my butt-strength. You know, gluteus maximus. Yeah, its kind of weak back there. He talked about our muscles having force partners that counteract the movement of the other (like hams vs. quads). He also talked about how important our vestibular connection is to having good balance. I have yet to google vestibular. I have yet to understand fully everything he was talking about.
The other seminar I attended was a presentation on the U.S. Bicycle Boom of the 70's by Greg Honn. He is the president of Milano Sport, which is a bicycle import company that I mentioned in my previous post. He's been in the bicycle business for a very long time, and is very insightful and knowledgeable about it's history, inner workings, etc. I forget what the context was, but he commented on bicycle fit, stating that the 109 percent of inseam is sufficient to achieve the optimum saddle height for any rider. This was cited from Eugene Sloane's 'The Complete Book of Bicycling,' which was written in 1970. I have actually owned this book for some time now. [Here is an interesting Time article from 1970 that mentions Mr. Sloane.] This scientific saddle height value came from experiments conducted at Loughborough University in England on 100 racing cyclists. Here is how it works. You stand straight against a wall (no shoes), and place something sturdy in your crotch, and have it touch the wall. Mark where it touches the wall, then measure from the floor to that point. Take that measurement and multiply it by 1.09. The number you get is the number of inches or centimeters (depending on which you used initially) that the top of your saddle should be from the pedal spindle when the crank is low and in line with the seat tube.
I mentioned already how cycling is keeping me humble. It is keeping me smart because I have to look at this pain issue and figure it out. I realize it is a fit issue in two senses. One being that I could be better physically fit, that is more in shape than I am. The other is the actual fit of my body on the bike. I know the frame sizes of my Fuji Touring Series IV and the Opus III are virtually perfect for me. In fact, they are probably about as close as I could get to a custom made frame without actually going that route. Sensing that the information I received at the two seminars were little insights into my present issue of discomfort, I utilized it hopefully to my benefit. The first thing I did was adjust my cleats to match more the natural turn of my foot. The second thing I did was actually do the 109 percent measurement. Well, what I came up with after that is that the saddle on my Fuji Touring Series IV, the one I rode to the Expo, was actually about an inch lower than it should be for that measurement. Initially I had set the saddle height of it at the same measurement (in inches) as my Fuji Opus III, which I had done a fitting on with Scott Paisley at BlueWheel bike shop in Charlottesville, VA. However, what I forgot to take into account, and just realized tonight, is that when I did that I had on different pedals and shoes. On those particular shoes were my cleats that added probably about half an inch to an inch of height. The shoes I was wearing yesterday have recessed cleats in them. The other shoes added height whereas these took it away. I am really hoping that it is this factor that is the main cause of my knee pain, and not my weak gluteus maximus.
On a side note, Scott Paisley is one of the co-owners of BlueWheel in Charlottesville. He and some of his custom frames are featured on the ClassicRendezvous website.
Yesterday, I rode my Fuji Touring Series IV from Collegeville to downtown Philly via the Perkiomen and Schulykill Trails to attend the first Philadelphia Bike Exposition. The second and final day is today (Sunday October 31st, 2010). It was organized by Bilenky Cycleworks and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. That is Steven Bilenky in the picture above. Many other small bicycle fabricators were represented at the expo. Among them were Gallus Cycles, Cedarboro Cycles, Baltimore Bicycle Works, Folk Engineered Bicycles, and Banjo Cycles. I'm sure I've left out at least a couple. There is a list of everyone represented on the Expo website. The big corporate companys were there too like Jamis and Fuji. By the way, Fuji has a long history that goes back to Japan 1899. The fujis I ride were made in Japan, but today they are made in Taiwan. The company that sells fuji now (Advanced Sports) is actually based in Philadelphia.
Let me mention a few other booths that stand out in my mind. One is Christ Cycles. They will have a custom, single speed bicycle made for you at low cost, helping those strapped for cash to get on a bike quickly and affordably. A Canadian company called Velocolour will custom paint your frame. His display bikes (one an unknown frame and the other an Olmo) were gorgeous. Beautiful decal work as well. I saw an outstanding looking Masi frame that was being sold by Milano Sport, an import company based in Connecticut. The owner of that company also gave a seminar on the Bicycle Boom of 1968-1974 that I attended. It was very insightful and informative.
Advocacy groups in attendance were the League of American Bicyclists, PA Walks and Bikes, and the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia. A few shops were there, like Trophy Bikes, and a few independent apparel shops were represented like the Sock Guy, Fabric Horse, and alloneword. Again, a full list can be seen on the Expo website for others.
I was able to park my bike at the free bike valet of which Neighborhood Bike Works was in charge. They did an excellent job keeping everyone's bikes safe and secure. Much thanks to them. All in all, it was a well attended event. It helped put bicycling and all of its many diverse facets more in the public eye. The seminars were informative and professional.
Friday, October 1, 2010
(I recommend looking at more detailed photos on my flickr page here.)
I recently bought a different trailer in which to pull my daughters. I thought I would do a comparison of them, hoping it might be beneficial to someone who is considering buying one.
The In-Step Quick N' EZ came first. You can read reviews about this trailer here. Here is another review and probably a great resource. Here is insteps website. I bought it I think in 2008 from a local connection I had in Charlottesville. It was new, but it may have been made a year or two earlier. I paid $60 for it, but if I had bought it in the store I would have paid at least $80-$120 or so. It is okay for light trail riding and slow rides around town for short distances, which is what I used it for in Charlottesville. The longest trail was only a couple of miles long, and we lived downtown where traffic was light. I would do a regular loop of about 5 miles when we would do our errands. The wheels are not secure enough on this one to ride safely over 10 mph. They are basically pins that you push in and secure by a latching mechanism. The seat canopy is not really that supportive, and is connected to the frame by a strap that is screwed into it on each side, so it is not really that strong. The strap is mediocre, and in fact, I had to sew a new strap onto the front part of the seat canopy after the original one ripped. I had to remember after each ride to loosen the front seat strap to keep it from being stressed when folded. That is actually how it ripped. I forgot to loosen the tension before folding it. Also, there is no extra room for the child's helmet so they have to sit with their head a bit forward where the helmet pushes against the back of the canopy. The straps that go around the child come over the shoulders from the back and hooks onto a D-ring at the bottom of the seat. This pulls the lower strap up into the child's crotch. The windows are not tinted, allowing full sunlight in, and there are no side vents to allow for more air flow when the front protective flap has to be down due to wind, cold, or rain. Apart from one rear reflector, there is no additional reflectivity integrated into the sides or rear of the trailer. I had to add my own reflective triangle on the back. On the plus side, it is light, it folds up well enough without too much hassle, and the point where it connects to the bike was secure and flexible. Like I said, it is best suited to slow riding of short distances, and light paved trail riding.
The Trek Transit Deluxe
You can read a review about this trailer here. This one I bought used from a local bike shop for $175. New it cost between $400 and $500. It is about 7-8 years old. The previous owners took excellent care of it. This model has been discontinued. In fact, I don't think Trek makes trailers anymore. I've learned that even though it was sold by trek at the time, it was made by Chariot who still makes them. It is basically the same trailer as the current Chariot Corsaire XL. If you are a serious cyclist who wants to get some distance in, but you have to take your child, then this is the type of trailer you need! First of all, the wheels are attached by quick release, just like the wheels on the bike. This increases security and speed capability. The seat is very sturdy and padded, increasing the comfort level for the child. Also, there is an offset area for the helmet so the child's head is not pushed forward. There are velcro corner vent flaps on the inside that can increase air flow when the front protective flap has to be down. The windows are tinted for sun protection. There are bright integrated reflective strips on both sides and the rear for improved visibility. The strap set up to secure the child in this one is different. Since the seating is sturdier, it is not pulled up into the child's crotch. A shoulder strap from one side comes through a loop on the seat and hooks in to a connector above the other shoulder. There is also padding on the straps for comfort. This is definitely a more secure, comfortable set up. The folding mechanism is quicker and easier. It is a bit lighter than the In-Step trailer. I haven't found anything negative to say about this one. Here in Pennsylvania, I have access to 50 plus miles of great trails, and hope to get out there and ride them. I will have to take the kids, so I needed something more suitable for their comfort and protection. I found it in the Trek transit deluxe. This is good for long rides at regular speeds.
Price is always an issue for us. That is why I wasn't able to buy a great trailer to begin with. But I was patient, and am grateful to have found such a great trailer for less than half of what it cost new. Since I want to go on longer rides now that I live somewhere with great off-road paved trails I really needed to get something more suitable to the comfort and protection of the kids. I was ready to spend what I needed to spend to achieve that. For anyone wanting to ride far, I recommend spending more to get the features of the trek transit deluxe for the sake of the kids. It will be worth it. I haven't researched all the new trailer options from Burley, Chariot, and others too much, and they may have some more great features of which I am not aware.
Good luck, and I hope this helped. Let me know if it did! Don't forget to click my flickr link for more detailed pictures.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
So yesterday, my almost 3 year old daughter and I went on a little jaunt to a park nearby. I prepared the bike, trailer, got my gloves, her helmet, and off we went. Not long after we made our first turn, I heard her saying something from the back. "Dad, you need your helmet! You need to go back home to get it!"
Now, we weren't going far, only a couple of minutes to the park. I almost tried to talk her out of it, not making it a very big deal, saying we're not going to be riding that long etc.... Then I realized the example that would set. She was right, and I needed to confirm that for her. So I turned around, went back to the garage and got my helmet. She was very happy about that. We didn't lose anything by going back. But I think we gained alot.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
My trip to Wisconsin with the 1980's Folding Dahon 3-speed is completed. Why did I choose to fly with my 16" wheel folding 3 speed bicycle, and then ride it 40 plus miles down the eastern shore of Wisconsin? Well, maybe because the story could have gone like this: "I flew to Milwaukee. I drove the rental car to my friend's wedding in Belgium. I drove the rental car back to Milwaukee. I flew home." Instead, the story now goes like this.....
I was going to ride a round trip from the airport, but I ended up just riding back to the airport, a one way trip. That was a good thing though because I wouldn't have wanted to ride over 40 miles twice in two days on this bike. It really was challenging due to it's size. Instead, my good friend and first ever college roommate from 1994, Nick, picked me up from the airport. Our first stop as we headed up to Green Bay for the night was Ben's Cycle on Lincoln Ave. I had made previous arrangements to store my hardshell suitcase there because I wasn't able to do the trailer conversion with it before the trip. However, they were closed for labor day. But Vince, the owner, let me keep it in the "Big Truck" (also named Vince). Even though we just met for the first time, he gave me the key to the padlock so I could get it out on my own when I returned. After a great time with Nick and his family on Saturday and Sunday morning, he dropped me off at Paul's wedding at the Cedar Beach Inn in Belgium, WI on Sunday afternoon. It is after the reception dinner that my bike ride began.
I prepared my bike, and left the Cedar Beach Inn in Belgium (Ozaukee County) around 7 pm on Sunday night, just in time for the rain to begin. I meant to leave about an hour earlier, but of course I got caught up with dinner, and talking to people at the wedding. I rode Cedar Beach Road (which happened to be mostly an incline) to Hwy LL, which took me to the Driftwood Inn where I stayed for the night. I was rained on for all of the 10 miles it took to get there. I had prepared for rain though, so I had what I needed to alleviate the annoyance of getting wet. It took me about an hour. It was slow going on this bike, and I had a 25-35 pound bag hanging off of it. Although that night I had it on my back. Thankfully I brought a bungee cord with me, and was able to connect it to the rails of the seat for the rest of the trip the next day (Labor Day). I enjoyed meeting the sweet owners, Nicholas and Irene. The Driftwood Inn is a cute little place off the beaten path if you're ever in Port Washington, WI.
After a restful, $45 night, I woke at 5am to shower and get ready. I was on the road by 6am, and my first stop was a George Webb diner at the corner of Sunset and 32 there in Port Washington. It was changing names, and I don't remember what the new one is, but the owners, employees, etc. are still the same. I was there by quarter after 6, and had an excellent breakfast of eggs, coffee, toast, OJ, oatmeal, and milk. Meat is not good to eat when you're going to be on the bike, and anything battered would be even worse. After fueling up I was excited to get on the road, but when I stepped outside the sky looked treacherous. Severe thunderstorms were suddenly moving through the area. It took even the weathermen by surprise. There were reports of hail in certain areas, and lightning was striking every few seconds. The rolling thunder added to the ominous clouds. It was moving east over Lake Michigan at about 40 mph, but it still delayed me by almost two hours. I finally left while it was still raining because I wanted to get moving south knowing that eventually I would come out of it. However, not far down the road, I started to see consistent lightning again. I decided to put my bike down in the ditch, and sit in the first row of a cornfield on husks to protect me from the mud. The lightning dissipated in that area, but I stopped again further down the road for the same reason. This time I sat under the Interstate 43 overpass for a while. I find it interesting that in the bathroom of the diner I had just left, there was a motivational poster just above the toilet that said "CHALLENGE .....The harder the course, the more rewarding the triumph."
It was at that point that I got off track a bit, and had taken a wrong turn. I was at the intersection of Lakefield and Hwy W when I saw a man walking his dog. His house was across the street, and just as he had gotten inside I made it over there to ask for directions and confirm what I was seeing on my map. There was a road that looked like it must be W, but it wasn't marked as such. He was very helpful, and it wasn't long before I was back on Lake Shore Dr. heading south. After this I didn't have to stop due to lightning again. I was finally getting south enough to get away from it. I still did get rained on though, but like I said, I had prepared for that.
I passed Concordia University, which is right on the lake. Not much further from there I came to Virmond Park. I rode past at first feeling anxious about the time I had lost, but decided to turn back and ride through. I'm glad I did. I saw two graceful blue herrons floating just above the ground. They are such beautiful birds. The park sits atop a high bluff looking down to the beach and out across Lake Michigan. The wind was strong, and I watched the birds wondering how these storms effected their day. I stayed long enough to refuel a bit and use the bathroom. I'm glad I took that bit of time to stop and take in the scene. It was one of those peaceful moments that feed the soul, and keep life in perspective.
It wasn't long after this that I came to Milwaukee County. A couple of days before I had decided to change the route I was going to take. Initially I was going to ride the Ozaukee County Trail, but that would have kept me further inland away from the lake. While driving to Green Bay, I realized Wisconsin is very bicycle friendly. Traffic isn't too dense, and the roads have plenty of space on them. So, I decided to take Lake Shore Rd. down from Port Washington. At this point, I had chosen to meander my way to Santa Monica Blvd., which took me right to the Wheel and Sprocket bike shop. I stopped in for a break, but also to get input on the rest of my route plans. Paul was extremely helpful, and tipped me off to current construction on the Oak Leaf Trail, which I was planning to get on next. He helped me avoid future frustration, and put me on the trail further down the road. Wheel and Sprocket sells thousands of bikes in a Bike Expo every April. They have multiple locations, and this one was humongous. Be sure to check them out if you're riding in the area.
The Oak Leaf Trail was paved, and well marked even with the street names for any overpasses or bridges. That really helped keep me on track, and confident I was going in the right direction. I made my way past the Milwaukee Art Museum, which has been built to resemble a ship. When I got to Chicago St. I was stopped by the Labor Day parade that was slowly moving by. I wasn't sure of the best way to cross the river to get to Lincoln Ave., but more kind strangers helped me out. Another sweet married couple, Tina and Jose, looked at my map with me, and helped me choose the best way to go. I crossed the draw bridge on Pittsburgh, which happened to be up when I got there, and made my way to 6th street. I took that to Ben's Cycle, my final destination on the bike, where I got my suitcase out of the truck to repack the bike. It was about 12:30pm. So after 6.5 hours and 30 or so miles I was done with my journey on this little Dahon.
Was it worth it? Yes, of course! Being out in the elements when you are prepared lessens their effect. It reminded me that we are not in complete control of our lives and what happens in this world. Also, bad weather certainly has its own beauty. I met and interacted in a positive way with people I would not otherwise have seen or communicated with. I have the satisfaction of accomplishing a goal I set for myself, seeing it through, and now I have the memory of the experience with me forever.
The map I used is the Milwaukee Bike Map and Southeast Wisconsin published by Bikeverywhere. It fared me very well. In Wisconsin, what you see is what you get, and I liked that very much. Thanks to Tom Fritz (Milwaukee Bike Collective) and Bruce Thompson (route researcher of the map I used) for input before I made this trip. Thanks to the other strangers who helped me, and who I already mentioned, Vince, Nicholas, Irene, Paul, Tina, and Jose. Thanks to my friend Nick for taking care of me while I was in town, and to Paul for getting married in Belgium, Wisconsin.
Thanks to Mr. Hon, who years ago came up with a folding bicycle design that set the premise for the future of folding bikes. This 1980's stainless steel folder stood up to a great test with this ride, and it did the job I needed it to do with no complaining.
My route from the Cedar Beach Inn:
Cedar Beach Road west/Hwy LL south/Sunset Rd. east/Division Rd. south/Lake Shore Rd. south/Lakefield Rd. west/Hwy W south/Pioneer Rd. east/Lake Shore Rd. south/Zedler Lane west/Port Washington Rd. south/Fairy Chasm Rd. east/Santa Monica Blvd. south/Regent Road west/Brown Deer Rd. south/Lake Dr. south/Green Tree Rd. west/Santa Monica Blvd. south/Wilson Dr. south/Oak Leaf Trail south/Michigan St. west/Jackson St. south/Corcoran St. west/Erie St. northeast/Pittsburgh Ave. southwest/First St. south/Virginia St. west/Sixth St. south/Lincoln St. west
Monday, August 23, 2010
The story again, is that last March I saw this little vintage fuji bike on ebay for $25. But it was in Riverside, CT. At the time we lived in Charlottesville, VA, and it was too much of a drive just for this bike. Since then, we've moved to Pennsylvania. We have friends in New Rochelle, NY who have a had a baby recently. We went to visit last Saturday. Well, New Rochelle happens to be only about 15 miles or so from Riverside, CT. I called Mark who was selling this bike back in March, and he happened to still have it. We simply drove up a few extra miles before heading home, and picked it up. This Lil' Fuji is for our two daughters, who will get many hours of enjoyment from it. Just like my Opus III, I consider this a special gift given on this Fuji journey.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Do you remember the Lil' Fuji I saw on ebay a few months ago? The seller lives in Connecticut. Well, it never sold, and I've contacted the seller to pick it up this Saturday. We now live in southeast Pennsylvania instead of Virginia. It so happens my wife wants to visit a friend who recently had a baby, and she lives in New Rochelle, NY, which is only about half an hour from the sellers house! So while she is visiting, my daughter and I will go get that neat little Lil' Fuji kids bike for $25. I'll update again and post pics after Saturday.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I'm very excited about this! I just spoke with Marcus at Ben's Cycle shop at 6th and Lincoln in Milwaukee. He said I can store my travel case there while I'm in Belgium at my friend's wedding over Labor Day weekend. I'm just not going to be able to get the kit to transform the travel case into a trailer before I make this trip, and General Mitchell Airport has done away with the lockers they used to have. A good friend of mine, in fact, my first ever college roommate, is going to pick me up from the airport. Then on the way back I will ride the trail. I'm looking forward to this trip, and now that I have a solution for the travel case I can focus on planning and visualizing the ride. Much thanks to Ben's Cycle. I think I've purchased a thing or two from them before on ebay, and if you haven't checked them out yet, please do. All I've read are good things about them, and for me they are living up to their name.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The inaugural Philadelphia Gran Fondo has already come and gone. I very wisely chose to do the 32 mile route instead of the 62 mile one, which I was planning to ride. I need to figure out what is going on with my left knee again. I still think it is the illiotibial band. At about mile 25 it started feeling bad, and to have had to ride another 40 miles would have been difficult. I wanted to enjoy the day, not hate it.
This was a great introduction to cycling in Pennsylvania for me. It is fitting that I rode in the first gran fondo here since we just moved to the area last week. I was one of about 1700 people who participated in the event. The weather was very nice, not too hot, and there was a comfortable breeze blowing. The course had some challenging hills, which I was prepared for from learning to cycle in central Virginia. There were some technical descents too. There were a couple of accidents due to them early on in the first hour of the ride. I haven't heard any details about them yet though. At the break for the piccolo fondo, I befriended a small group of riders who I learned were from the Cadence Foundation. Two of the kids and their coach broke off on the shorter route with me, and helped me to not feel too alone out there. It would have been more fun to do this ride with a friend or two. I didn't have anyone to hang out with afterward, but I'm still happy I did it.
I did almost decide not to even go. There were some discouraging things trying to keep me from going. Like I said, we had just moved, and the new space was still in disarray. I was very tired, and hadn't been on a bike in a week. I was worried about the illiotibial band situation with my leg. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it on time the day before getting into the city to pick up my packet. I was worried about parking. The day of the ride I had my wife drive me to the Norristown transportation center to take the trains into the city. We had to be up around 3:30am (after going to sleep after 11pm) to catch the only train that would have gotten me there on time by 5:20am. Being unfamiliar with this train system I struggled to get the tokens and transfer I needed. I was anxious about using the trains. I wasn't exactly sure how to get to the start point from the station once I got downtown.
I'm glad I did not let all of the worry and discouraging feelings keep me from it. I made it on the train okay. My transfer was smooth, and there was even another cyclist on my train car. I asked if I could follow him to the start point, and he was very friendly about it. I had energy for the ride, and my leg didn't really bother me until close to the end of the ride. It was a pleasure meeting the people from the Cadence Foundation, and I got a great new and helpful map of the Schulykill River Trail and surrounding areas from the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia. It was a wonderful experience, and I would have missed it had I allowed those discouragements to keep me from it.
Friday, July 30, 2010
If you've seen previous posts you know I got to help coach the local Boys and Girls Club Cycling Challenge riders last year. Unfortunately this year I was not able to do it again since we are moving (in 3 days to be exact), and I wouldn't have been able to follow through with it to the main ride this September. Also, we had another baby 3 months ago. However, I was at least able to make it on one last ride with the group this morning before we go. I met a couple of new challengers, and rode with one of the returning challengers as well. I will miss them alot. I will miss the riding too, which is in some of the most beautiful areas of Albemarle County. If you're interested in learning more about the challenge ride, please click the link. You can help monetarily, but don't forget that you can also go out and ride with them. If you can, I suggest you do that, and try to get to know the kids. They are alot of fun.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
This morning my friend Travis and I left early for about a 25 mile ride near the famed Monticello here in Charlottesville. That is where Thomas Jefferson lived. It also took us by Ashlawn where James Monroe lived. We left before 8am, and it was already 83 degrees. Thankfully there was a bit of a breeze, and parts of the ride were shaded by trees. We've been on rides together before, and once again we got to share the experience of riding in beautiful Albemarle County, Virginia. This particular one is a well known loop I haven't done yet since I've lived here, and I'm glad I got it in before we move next week. Apart from riding on Hwy 53, it is low traffic with moderate hills. Parts of this ride (including the section of Hwy 53 we were on) belong to the US Bike Route 76. Thanks in large part to my friend Vince at ACCT, there are new signs all over Charlottesville denoting this route much more clearly. Apart from being chased by two separate dogs, the ride was uneventful, relaxing, and beautiful. Like people I suppose, some dogs are more sophisticated than others. I guess one other eventful thing did happen. Travis heroically relocated a turtle from the roadway to a more protected grassy patch. Hopefully that little turtle meandered in the right direction so as not to end up back on the road. We didn't get to know him well enough to give him a name. I'm sure he already has one anyway, but we wished him the best, and were on our way again. We made it back to the house just in time for the heat of the day to become unbearable, and Travis cooled off with a nice glass of half milk and half cranberry juice. I didn't trust that combo, so I didn't try it and can't recommend it.
Monday, July 19, 2010
I finally found an opportunity to do a ride I've been wanting to do for a while now. Last Saturday I rode from Clarksville, Md to Mt. Airy to visit one of my favorite bike shops, Mt. Airy Bikes. It was about 29 miles through central Maryland (Howard County to Carroll County), and it was very enjoyable. The roads are wide. The drivers were considerate. The day was sunny and warm with a cool breeze. I forgot sunscreen though, but did not get burned thankfully. My pannier was shaken off of the rack and fell in between my rear wheel and the rack pushing and bending the plastic planet bike fender forward. But it was easy to get out and put the fender back. I bungied the pannier against the rack, and that did the job. Don't underestimate the power of a bungie cord. It's a good idea to have one with you on a long ride. When I got to the shop I test rode a fuji obey track bike, and also saw a bike I didn't realize existed. It was a kidztandem. The child sits in front of the adult. I'm looking forward to test riding that one with my almost 3 year old daughter when she's a bit older. It seems it might be a great transportation solution for me now that I have two children. I can pull my youngest behind in a trailer when she's old enough, and all of us can get places on one bike! I'm very excited about that. Since the last long ride I did was over 2 months ago, I asked my wife to pick me up. I'm out of shape, and my left leg was sore around my knee. I think it was the same problem I had before with a tight illliotibial band. A bit of ice and massaging helped it. Hopefully I will get on a few more rides of this length before August 8th when I ride the Gran Fondo in Philadelphia.
Guilford Rd/rt. on 108/left on Ten Oaks Rd/left on Burntwoods Rd/rt. on Hobbs Rd/left on McKendree Rd/becomes Carrs Mill Rd/left on 144/Mt. Airy Bikes on the right.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Yesterday I registered to ride in the inaugural Gran Fondo event in Philadelphia happening next month. I'm very excited about this because I haven't gotten to ride much lately. Last month I had a severe case of poison ivy for 3 weeks, and with preparations to move and being a father of two little ones, it has been difficult to find time to get on the bike. We're moving to Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. Pennsylvania does seem to be a strong cycling state, and in fact it does have a wonderful and internationally known velodrome in Trexlertown. I'm looking forward to the new fuji adventures I'll have there.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
My right of way was taken from me tonight. I was at the intersection of Monticello Avenue and Rialto. I was heading north on Rialto, stopped at Monticello waiting to cross and continue in the same direction. A motorist was on Rialto on the other side supposedly waiting to cross as well. He did not have any blinkers flashing. When the break came in traffic for us to go, we both started across, but he threw his left blinker on, and then completed a left turn in front of me. It felt as if my presence was not even acknowledged, and the fact that I was on a bicycle made me lesser, not worthy of being given the right of way.
As a motorist, do you think less of someone on the road when they are on a bicycle? Do you feel that you inherently have more right to the road than a cyclist, and that you trump the cyclist as far as right of way in all situations no matter what? This is an attitude that does exist, and hopefully will change.
Are you a slow rider? Do you feel that you are less safe on a bicycle the faster you ride? How are your skills when it comes to riding with traffic?
My riding style has been changing lately. I have been going through intersections in the middle of the lane more often, so I am directly in motorists line of sight. I also have been picking my speed up, shifting into higher gears, and taking the lane in certain places around town. One of those places is on Monticello avenue coming down from Avon toward Ridge/5th. After crossing Avon, it is down hill all the way to the next light. Now, there is a bike lane, but again, it is up against the parked cars. I don't want to risk getting doored, so I take the lane fully, shift up into high gear, and pedal it down. Because of the downhill I can raise my speed to match that of motorists, so I am not holding anybody up. My handling skills have increased, so I feel more comfortable at the higher speed. If I went at a slower speed, and stayed farther to the right, I risk getting doored. Also, I feel squeezed in by passing cars. I believe taking the lane and riding faster is a safer option. Also, it demonstrates to motorists a higher competency level of riding, which hopefully translates into more respect.
Another place where faster riding could be utilized is on East Market, coming from downtown. Again, it is all downhill, and the lane is narrower. There is not room for lane sharing, especially with the parked cars on the side.
I suppose the main idea here is that if you can increase your ability to ride faster, it would allow you to put yourself in a more visible position, ride as a part of the traffic without holding cars up, and demonstrate a higher level of proficiency to motorists, in turn garnering more respect from them (hopefully).
Monday, June 7, 2010
Today was our last bike class at the Southwood Boys and Girls Club Unit. We held a 7 week class, which occurred every Monday for an hour. The kids learned and practiced power pedal, straight line riding, scanning, and more. Today, we went on about a 2 mile ride out and back from the club. The kids stayed single file and did well controlling their speed on the downhills, and pushed hard on the uphills. Afterward we went inside for pizza and to hand out their graduation certificates. Everyone hopes to do more bike classes there. This was one of the inaugural bike classes utilizing the new fleet bikes purchased with a grant from the Virginia Department of Health. Hopefully there will be many more bike classes to come!
The photo above is 5th street Extended here in Charlottesville. This is heading back into town toward the Elliott/Cherry intersection. You can see there is a decent bike lane. However, at times there is debris and other hazards in it. I've experimented a bit with my riding position on this road. I'm not sure of the posted speed limit. I'll try to take note of that at some point, but motorists drive fairly fast on this road. When I am riding to the right of the bike lane white line, it seems that motorists are more inclined to remain fully in the right lane without getting over much to give me space. I have felt the push of air as they pass me at times. However, when I ride to the left of the bike lane white line, almost all motorists move into the left lane either fully or at least partially to pass me, giving me much more space. The bike lane is definitely more sizeable, probably more than any other bike lane in Charlottesville. However, you can see the curb, which could be hazardous, and sometimes there is debris forcing a cyclist into the lane.
On my way out of town, a motorist passed me and honked while telling me to get off the road. I was to the right, causing no hinderance whatsoever. This person was experiencing some frustration simply from seeing me on a bike on the road. I wonder if she just felt uneasy, not wanting to be responsible for any possible accident that could occur between my bike and her car. Nonetheless, her ignorance of my rights to be there was apparent.
On my way back into town, I saw a person on a bike in the bike lane. That would be great, except she was riding toward me in the same bike lane! She was going against traffic (very dangerous for a cyclist) not to mention that this particular spot has the bike lane up against parked cars. You can be doored just the same going in either direction, and she was really hugging the side of the lane closest to the cars. The other side of the street did not have a bike lane, so I assume she was afraid to be over there without it, thinking since she was in a bike lane (even though facing opposing traffic) that she was safer. This is far from the truth. A motorist most likely would not expect to see a cyclist coming toward them on their right side. Remember, a bike should be driven like a car as much as is possible. This increases your safety, and puts you in the best visible position for motorists.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Today I rode my "new" 1980 Fuji Gran Tourer SE to record the Charlottesville Gamelan performance at the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative here in Belmont. On Memorial Day of 2008, I came across the Charlottesville Gamelan as they were preparing to perform at the same venue. My wife and I were walking home with our 6 month old daughter, and I was curious to know what was going on inside. I was staring at the building when one of the performers (Bruce) came out to inform us what was going on. I didn't believe him right away, wondering if the instruments were even real! Having lived in Charlottesville since 2003, I had never heard of it! Cindy Benton-Groner is the founder/director (see above photo). Well, the instruments are real, and she brought them back from Indonesia about 30 years ago. She has been teaching and performing with her gamelan since. We ended up going back that day for the performance, and I took my Sony digital mini-disc recorder to record it.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
When it comes to cycling, proper fit is important. My 'workhorse' bicycle for the past year has been my 1982 Del Rey. I didn't really like the yellow color of it at first, but it did grow on me, and I ended up really loving to ride this bike. However, it is a couple of centimeters too big for me, so I was a bit uncomfortable on it. The other day, I came across a local craigslist add for a 1980 Fuji Gran Tourer SE. Asking price was only $40, so I checked it out. The seller accepted $30 for it (it is pretty rusty looking), and I am now the proud new owner. This one is more my size, a 21" (or 54cm) frame. I should be more comfortable on it. The Del Rey was actually lighter than this one since it was quad-butted. I will miss that, but the Gran Tourer will certainly suffice, and is still quality. I have to give alot of credit to Jay, owner of the Fuji Otaku blog, for providing so much info on this particular frame. He actually owned the exact same one. That helped me feel confident to go ahead and get it. Since the bikes are from about the same year, and were meant to serve about the same purpose, it's almost like it will be the same bike but hopefully more comfortable. All of the parts transferred perfectly with no issues such as brake caliper reach, wrong type of threads, wrong length of spindle, etc... I also now have alot of extra parts since the Gran Tourer did come complete before I swapped everything out. One special perk was that it came with the 'Fuji' engraved crank arms that I love. My Fuji Fleet feels more complete now that I've acquired a better fitting one for my daily errands and riding with the kids. Now I have to figure out what to do with the larger frame.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Fuji Otaku (see link to his blog over on the right) has been posting some vintage fuji gear on ebay lately before he moves to Japan. I wonder if he imagined this 80's water bottle going for almost $40 when he put it up for sale. First, let me say I did not bid on this auction. Now, being Fuji Crazy myself, I have been desiring one of these old water bottles to add to my collection, and 'complete' my Opus III. However, after my jersey fiasco, I've realized that the Fuji Infatuation can get out of control at times. This is a good example of that.
A couple of months or so ago, there was a beautiful vintage fuji on ebay, and I noticed that it had one of these water bottles in the cage. I emailed the seller to ask if he would sell it to me separately, and all he could say was "how much are you willing to offer?" I didn't respond. I could tell my $8 would not have sufficed.
Fuji is just a word after all. Let's not forget that it is the internal things that matter more than the external. I'll continue using my generic and well-used Performance brand water bottle before I toss more than $8 to one that is over 20 years old just because it says Fuji on it.
Friday, May 21, 2010
I just returned from a ride, with my two and a half year old in tow, to the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum here in Charlottesville, VA. This is one of my favorite places to go here in Cville, and I didn't think it was possible to do on the bike, but it is! I made my way to the Rivanna Trail, which is paved from Riverside Park. I rode that until it spit me out at a very busy intersection of High St. and the 250 bypass toward Pantops. I rode a short distance on the wide sidewalk over the river up to the Shell station, then carefully rode around that parking lot, and through the shopping center to South Pantops Drive. I took this straight to the backyard of the museum. There is a dark wooden fence that goes along the border of the property by the road, but it ends near the entrance to the UVA Credit Union, where we walked through the grass right up to the museum. We had a very nice time looking at the exhibit and watching a 'Dreaming' cartoon that was looping on their television set. They always have some neat show about Australia to view. I bought a journal and a new cycling wallet for myself, and a children's book for Haley Mae. We had snacks at one of the backyard tables before heading home for lunch and nap. It was a very special time in that it possibly could be our last visit to that museum. We move to Pennsylvania at the end of July.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tonight was Charlottesville's Ride of Silence. About 60 locals gathered at Charlottesville High School before embarking on a ride to downtown and back. Unlike the professional Tour of Italy riders, we had no crashes! Almost all of the cycling clubs and advocacy organizations were represented. Three police officers escorted us through the intersections on their motorcycles. We rode for about 45 minutes with no talking. Some of the sounds I noticed made me realize how imperfect our bikes, as well as ourselves are: grinding gears, floppy fenders, clunky chains. Many in our group have been hit by motorists, and survived. Five to Ten known Virginia cyclists were mentioned who had died in the past year by being struck by motorists. Two Hundred Ninety-Five Rides of Silence happened across the world tonight.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I bought this older Dahon a while ago from someone here in Charlottesville who fixes bikes up from time to time and sells them. Check out www.oldtoolsforsale.com. I recently bought flight tickets to Milwaukee for this September. I am going to attend a friend's wedding in Belgium, Wisconsin. Belgium is about 45 miles away from Milwaukee, and most of the flat ride will be on paved trail. The two trails are the Oak Leaf and Ozaukee Interurban Trails. I found the case just the other day at the Salvation Army down the street from my house for $15. It was my first try looking for a used, hard shell, travel suit-case. It is like it was waiting for me. As you can see the bike fits perfectly. It is an older Delsey Delsey Helium Colours 30-In. Hardside Spinner Upright (Google Affiliate Ad)model, which I learned is a reputable French company that has been making quality luggage for almost 100 years. I'm going to try to convert it to a trailer so that I can pull it behind the bike once I get to the airport. I don't know what I would do with it otherwise. The suitcase is regulation size so as not to be oversized, and the weight with the bike inside is 43 lbs. That is under the 50 lb limit of the airlines too! Hopefully I'll be posting about a successful trip with this bike in a few months, and I won't have had to spend $1,000+ on a newer folding bike. I realize Dahon is not Fuji, but I haven't come across any quality fuji folding bikes for sale.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Last Monday, a UVA grad student, was involved in an accident on his bicycle that took his life. Read more about it here. In a comment thread I read that this is the first cyclist death in Charlottesville since 1998.
Earlier this evening, a vigil was held at the intersection of 4th and Main, where the accident happened. The ghost bike you see in the pictures above was placed there by late Monday night. The community of cyclists in town have been rallying together. It is due to this death, but it actually had begun earlier this year with the formation of a new cycling group, Bike Charlottesville.
Of course there have been many responses to this occurrence regarding the safety of the road ways for bicyclists. Sometimes motorists are fearful when they see cyclists on the road, and cyclists can unknowingly place themselves in compromising positions on the road. Today I found myself, as a driver, behind a cyclist as I drove down Water Street by the downtown transit center. There is not enough room there for lane sharing, and there were many parked cars on the side of the road. It was a busy time of day, and there were many oncoming cars. I could have tried to zoom past her during one of the brief breaks between cars, but it really would have been unnecessary, and would have made her nervous, as well as the driver of any oncoming car that might have appeared in that moment. I decided to drive about 12-15 miles per hour as we came to the next intersection, where she turned right and I continued straight. The tiny bit of extra time it took me to get to the end of that street was a small price to pay to help her (as well as other drivers and possible pedestrians) remain safe and comfortable and out of any compromising positions.
The first changes that need to occur before bicyclists and motorists can truly share the road, need to be in knowledge and attitude. It needs to work from the inside out, not from the outside in. Our physical environment is not solely responsible for these accidents. If that is the only place we focus any efforts of change, and attitudes and knowledge remain the same, nothing will truly go beyond where we are at this time regarding the safety of all road users.