Xtracycle Commuting

It's been fun commuting on the Xtracycle. I really enjoy the ability to just toss anything in the side and roll. This isn't a pic from today, though. Today was a rainy downpour the entire ride. It was my first "xtra/rain" experience. I wanted to see how the bags would do and what it would feel like to ride in the rain.

It wasn't bad at all. The wider tires are great. They feel so much better than the skinnier tires on the Surly or my Redline 925 rain bike. The bags have dried surprisingly well. There was some pooling at the rear on both sides, but nothing that couldn't be dumped out. That's primarily what I wanted to check for today. My hope is to do some family camping/touring with this and I want to know how it performs in all conditions.

It was great. The rain was cooling and pleasant this morning, too. So no complaints from me!

Get out there.


The Hope Center

It's been a couple weeks since I was at the Hope Center, and I neglected to share with you all what it was about, but it was an awesome experience.

The Hope Center is a place for men without a place to sleep at night. They offer soft beds, rehabilitation and work programs and a whole wealth of other resources for the down-and-out.

I was contacted to go for a bicycle safety course being taught by a League of American Bicyclists instructor. He wanted me to come and represent the program I work with at my church to get bikes underneath people that need them for transportation. I wrote about it a while back, and have since repaired and distributed dozens of bikes. This guy got word about it and contacted me to come help with his efforts.

He taught the class, I spoke with the clients at the Hope Center about getting a bike and a mechanic was able to set up and work on the bikes they were already riding.

It was an awesome experience. We laughed together a lot and had great opportunities to discuss and promote the bicycle as a valid form of transportation. We even had a guy come out this past Saturday and pick up his new bike. It's a cool thing to see.

Get out there.


...and Another

Who is this feral child who has stolen my bike? Well, it's Trevor. And he hasn't stolen my bike at all. It's his identical Cross Check that he purchased recently in an effort to grab some bike time with his wife and start bike commuting. I bumped into him this morning in the locker room at work.

Trevor makes a total of three guys recently who have purchased bikes (two of which have already commuted to work on them) at my place of work.

I love the bicycle for a recreational toy. But I love it even more as a legit form of transportation. It's cool to see other guys riding to work instead of getting into a car.

Way to go, Trev.

Get out there.

Get out there.


Bike to Lunch

I'm really pumped to see the warm weather and the desire to get on a bike. Yesterday I walked into my team's suite and said, "Who wants to ride our bikes to go grab some lunch?" Dan and Kyle, without hesitation, jumped at the opportunity. It was so nice to ride to lunch versus driving in a car. It was a little slice of the outside world with absolutely zero extra effort.

Get out there.


First Weekend

This was our first weekend with the Xtracycle in the family. Needless to say, it was a good one. With summer temps in full force, our days were spent riding and playing on the slip-n-slide.

There's a reason this blog is titled "family//bike//words." I love my family and I love riding my bikes. I'm the opposite of most riders. I really don't do much riding on the weekends. I need the time with my wife and kids... and they need it, too. So when I'm "home" for the weekend, I try to be home.

So the collision of family and bike, thanks to Xtracycle, has been a huge game changer. I've never been able to include all three kids on a ride. And because of that, Angie has had to stay home with the baby. But that's all changed.

Angie (on her Kona) and I hit the streets for the first time with every kid in tow. We got ice cream, went to the library and did some cruising, just for the sake of good times.

It was a great weekend. Thanks, Xtracycle.

Get out there... and if you can, take your kids with you.


A Little Disappointed

I've written before about the road work that's been happening for the last year. The great news was the fact that they were going to build a bike path almost the entire length of my commute... eight of my eleven mile trip.

Long story short: The old road was becoming a bike path. The new road was about 200 yards to the left (or right, I guess).

This is exactly what has happened for about four of the eight miles. But there was still another four miles being used as limited access to the people who lived off the road.

Well, the other day I was riding in and noticed they'd pulled up all the reflectors along the road. Could this be it? Would this finally close off all cars and make this thing a full-fledged bike path?

I was thinking they'd tear the entire road up and put in the rest of the path. I couldn't make it make sense though. How were those twelve-ish farms going to have access to a road?

Well, this is how.

When I came home that evening, the roads had been repaved and repainted. They're not bike paths. They're roads. I was looking forward to a bike path for eight of my eleven miles of commuting each way. But I'll settle for four. These roads won't be busy. Like I said, it's mostly just farm trucks going back and forth from entrance to entrance of their massive property. But there is a sense of disappointment. A few cars is better than lots of cars. But there's something about never having to look over your shoulder that offers a greater peace.

Get out there.



I realize that I'm talking a lot about the Xtracycle these days. But, hey, it really is going to lead to a lifestyle change for us as a family. Just yesterday, I brought home one of my bikes that I had left at work (granted, in a very Beverly Hillbillies kind of way).

Today I was able to take two of my three kids on a ride.

These are the sorts of thing that changes your lifestyle when you're a bicycle enthusiast.

When you're new to cycling there are certain barriers you have to bust through. There's a time when you "wouldn't dare ride that close to cars." But you slowly break through and give it a try. Before you know it, you're riding on just about any road. Then you say, "I'd love to ride all year, but what about rain and snow?" Well, if you stick with it, you realize that there's no bad weather, just bad clothes, to quote Doug. You buy the right stuff and get to riding. There. Another barrier broken.

There are a few other barriers that you break along the way. But you will eventually say, "Hey, I've mastered everything I can with two wheels and a couple bags. I wish I could bring my family along with me." That's the moment I realized I needed an Xtracycle set-up.

The Xtra is another (perhaps the last?) barrier to break through. Now there's no reason to not bike to the grocery... with a kid... "What? You want to go, too? Come on, buddy!" ...make that two kids.

Just about anything is possible now.

Get out there.


Some Xtra Hauling

Today was my first day with the Xtra built up. Kyle enjoyed the ride. It was so much fun. I can't wait to keep the haulin' comin'!

Today Show - Bike to Work Challenge

What a great platform for people to see bikes? I don't watch morning TV, but I know these guys have a large audience. It's cool to see them encourage the bike as a form of transportation.

Plus One

Add one more bike commuter to the bunch. Kyle purchased this Masi Soulville SS this week at the bike shop. I'm hoping this bike sees some great commuting action. With me, Dan and Kyle riding, we could be seeing a flood of bikey action engulfing our team.

I love the Soulville. Masi bikes have such a great look to them. And from what I've ridden of Kyle's, they ride as nicely as they appear.

Congrats, Kyle.

Get out there.


@Xtracycle Doodle

As I sit in meetings, it's hard not to think about the work that needs to be completed on the Xtracycle build. Oh, to be home... wrenching away at my new toy.

Get out there.


It's Catching On

This is my buddy, Dan. He bike commuted for the first time ever last week on his new thrift store-ish give-away bike. It was a super-find and totally free! We got it up and running and he was commuting within the week.

I met Dan at his apartment for his maiden voyage. It's the first time I've been able to ride with a partner on my commute in about 3 years. It was fun to have someone to talk to, plus his commute is quite nice for most of the way. No killer climbs and the majority is in nice residential neighborhoods.

Ride on, Dan!

Get out there.


The Xtra Install

I spent the evening working on the install of the Free Radical. It's way simpler than I thought it would be. Jack, at the bike shop, said, "It's kind of like installing a kickstand on steroids. It's that easy." He's right. It hasn't been bad at all... and I'm in no way a bike mechanic. I'm looking forward to it!

Get out there.

Big News

Today during lunch I'll be heading to the bike shop to pick up my Xtracycle Freeradical. This will end all of my family transport issues for summertime hijinks and light touring. For those who do not know about Xtracycle, they make a kit and accessories that stretch your bike out to allow for passengers and cargo.

This kit will be used with my Trek 800 city bike that I built up a few months ago. I'm really excited for this new venture in cycling. It'll change the way I can ride.

Get out there.


Awkward Family Photo

Found this photo on Awkward Family Photos. I felt like I should share it since it was bike related.

Get out there... just try not to look so awkward.


Another Reason

Here's another reason I subscribe to a different way of thinking than the "Road Bike = Fast Bike" philosophy. My bike actually is fast. The tires aren't as skinny as some road bikes. The steel that it's made out of is heavier than other materials. I don't average much more than 16 mph on most of my rides. But it is fast enough for me.

But those "other" bikes can't pull of the road, head down a trail and follow a creek to a secluded bench to read a book. I choose not to go fast. I choose to read a nice book (strapped to the back there) when the moment leads me there. It's harder to find opportunities like this when you're glued to the asphalt.

I love this bike. And I love this way of making a bike part of my life.

Get out there.


Horse Country

If there's one thing people know about Kentucky, it's horses. And it's quite a true stereotype if you're going off my bicycle commute. I pass about a half dozen horse farms on my 11 mile route. It's a beautiful thing to see them. This time of year is when the foals are new and learning the ropes. This morning I pulled over to snap a few pics. It's just another reason I love bike commuting.

I even saw this little puny pony. He's only about three feet tall (and in need of braces).

Get out there.


Best Mom Ever

My lovely wife is seriously the best mom I've ever known. She's full of love, compassion and joy that she passes on to our three kids. Without her, this blog wouldn't exist because my life in biking wouldn't exist. She allows me to take the time to do what I love and I allow her the same. We have an incredible marriage.

Thanks so much, Babe. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me!


Bike Lanes on Trash Day

Hmmm. Makes my own lane less of a perk, doesn't it.

Get out there.


Getting Ready

Last week I talked about how my bags help me to get ready a little quicker than my old set. It got me thinking about prep time and it's influence on my riding.

It may sound silly, but the effort that goes into getting ready every night really does have an impact on when and how much I ride. When you're asking yourself if you want to ride in the morning, you tend to think about the pain of finding all the gear versus the joy of riding in the gear.

When I first started riding, it was sporadic. My gear was strewn all over my house and I had to put a lot of mental energy into what was needed. If it was going to rain, I had to search for my rain gear. If it was going to be cold, my gloves were nowhere to be found. Then it got really easy to talk myself out of riding.

I eventually realized that I needed a good system for keeping track of all my stuff. I bought a cabinet for my garage, put a crate in my closet and started bringing my bike in the night before. Everything I need is easily accessible and all I have to do is brush my teeth, get dressed and head out.

Eventually I was able to build in a rhythm of laundry and bike maintenance in there, too. When the right systems allow bike commuting to be "second nature," it gives you the opportunity to ride more and think less. It's totally worth it.

Get out there.



I saw this guy on the ride in this morning... all 24" of him. He was taking in the warm sunshine coming off the pavement. I just hope he doesn't take in a farm truck coming over the hill.

Get out there.


Lunch-time Ride

I headed over to a local park for a 12 mile round-trip over lunch. Man, was it wet out!

You can see above that there's a bike path here that's been cut down the middle by a stream of water.

I've been seriously considering taking the fenders off of the Cross Check for a couple weeks. I try not to ride it in the rain. But even though it was sunny today, I definitely needed them. I think they'll be staying on for as long as today remains in my memory.

Right here I'm riding through about 6 inches of standing water. The bike path through the park was completely flooded for about 50% of the trails.

All over, ditches had become creeks. Creeks had become torrents. Plains had become ponds. It was really cool to see all that water. That's what I call a lunch break.

Get out there.