Doug's Pug

I'm totally stealing this pic from Doug's blog. But I would rather reference a bike in action versus a bike on a retailer's website. Today's bike envy is brought to you by the Surly Pugsley. This bike is freakin' awesome. And although I have very little use for a sand/snow bike, I find myself salivating over it every winter.

The tires are nearly four inches wide and float over anything that comes their way. That's what makes them perfect for snow. The footprint is wide enough to float over the top instead of pushing through. I've considered rationalizing this as my winter commuter and mountain bike. But I'm still a bit too far away from reality.

Soon enough, I'll be cutting through the snow on my mountain bike and thinking about the Pug. Maybe one day.

Get out there.


Surly Trailer

This is a pipe dream of mine. This year, Surly announced the production of their new trailer. This thing has a max weight limit of 300 pounds and is built to accommodate modifications. It doesn't work on the back of an Xtracycle, but would be really convenient for someone looking to own one bike (not a cargo bike) but has needs to haul cargo.

This past summer I attempted to use my bike to deliver a couch to Goodwill without success. Shortly after the embarrassing experiment, they released this thing... which would have been perfect. The trailer is well thought out and just as well built. If not for hauling kids, this thing would probably trump the Xtracycle for hauling stuff.

The biggest benefit is the fact that you could use it on any bike, then just take it off. Take for instance, my Cross Check. It could be used as a commuter, touring bike, and with this, a cargo bike. I could seriously get away with only having one bike. Now, you could say the same about owning an Xtracycle, but their size is cumbersome at times (large crowds, elevators, indoor parking).

For now, though, with the little ones, I'll need to stick with the Xtracycle. And to be honest, I love how many accessories Xtracycle offers with their Free Radical. It gives it limitless capabilities... other than hauling a couch :)

Get out there.


Happy Thanksgiving!

If figured I'd stick with the theme of yesterday's post...

Get out there.


The Cat's Meow

Xtracycle threw out the challenge to it's followers to share a pic of a cat on an Xtracycle. I hate cats. I always have. But it seems that no one has documented a feline on an X. How could that be? Well, I think it's because they are disgusting creatures and that doesn't mix with the blissful emotional that comes with riding a bike.

Anyway, I submitted my photo. This is our cat, Lou Ferrigno, riding with our kids.

Get out there.


Glad to be Wrong

It seems that last week I predicted our last family ride of the year incorrectly. This past weekend, we were able to get out and have an awesome time on the Xtracycle and Kona. Since Angie's marathon training took up a huge amount of physical energy through the fall, she's been itching to get in a few more family rides (I know, she's awesome).
We ran a few errands, took a few detours and shared a whole lot of laughs. Looks like chilly noses and ears could become the norm. And, by the way, what's my boy doing with that tree?

Get out there.


Cross Races in Town

As far as I know, cyclocross is only in Lexington once a year (if you readers know differently, let me know!). Yesterday was that one chance for me to ride over and take a look in the dirty world of cross racing. Despite the incredibly strong winds, I made it there and back in one piece.
To watch the races, you immediately gain respect for those on the course. For 45 minutes, they're giving it everything they have and then some. For those of you who don't know, cross racing is somewhere in between riding a road race and riding a mountain bike race.

There's barriers, obstacles and more than one opportunity to bite it on the course. It looks like a blast. I keep telling myself I need to give it a try. I've got everything I need to go for it, I just need to make it happen.
Maybe next year.

Get out there.


Mountain Bike Fail

Yesterday Jeff and I went to a local park to get in a little trail riding during lunch. I've really had the bug to ride dirt recently and this park is about five minutes from where I work. It's not the best trails to ride, but it's great exercise and I get to be outside. I like that.

We threw on the rain gear since it had been coming down consistently for three days straight. We knew it would be sloppy, but figured that would make it all the more fun. If you read this blog often or have ever gone mountain biking with me, you may know that when I ride dirt I somehow manage to go down within the first ten minutes. I have to push the limits of my skills and the conditions to get a good fix on the situation.

Yesterday was no different. With rain pouring down and really sloppy mud, I lost control on a flat at about sixteen miles per hour. It was pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, Jeff didn't see the whole thing. But I was trucking alongside a small, but deep rut that had been formed by flowing water. At some point, the ground underneath me moved and my front tire dove into the rut, which immediately took control of my steering. It sent me to the ground pretty quickly and the slippery mud allowed me to skid about twelve feet into a thorn bush.

The thorn bush was the problem. Within ten minutes of getting up and riding again I realized my front tire was losing air rapidly. Two minutes after that it was completely flat... with no repair kit. With all my puncture resistant road tires, I've gotten really sloppy with carrying the right repair gear. Yesterday, that came back to bite me.

Jeff was kind enough to go get the car and pick me up. It was one of those rides where you spend more time prepping than you do riding. I hate that. But occasionally that happens. I won't complain... I got to be outside in the rain laughing at myself while others where indoors watching soap operas.

Soon enough, I'll repair the tire and head out on a mid-day lunch ride again.

Get out there.



To the left is a photo I took in the summer on my way home from work. When I'm riding home that time of year, the sun is almost directly above me, casting a shadow right beneath my feet.

That's the time of year when light is in your favor. You rarely ride with a blinky light for a work commute. The sun is out for the way in and the way home. And when the sun is high above, you don't have to worry about it shining in drivers' eyes and making it hard to see you on your little bicycle.

That's no longer the case. Below you can see the long shadow that's cast at the exact same time of day during the winter season.
See how long that shadow is? That's one low hanging sun. It makes for a pretty sunset during your commute but the trouble comes when you're riding into the sun. Drivers with dirty windshields and squinty eyes can make you nervous this time of year. And when the salt starts hitting the roads for snowy conditions, you can guarantee that those windshields will become glazed.

What can you do? I'm really not sure. I don't think blinky lights or reflective material help much when there's still light out. It's more about being aware and intentional with how you ride. This time of year just takes a bit more caution. Don't let it keep you from riding. Just pay a little more attention and go enjoy yourself on the bike. It's just worth a fair warning.

Get out there.


Top Ten Reasons to Ride in the Cold

10. You don't have to warm up your car in the morning.

9. It's one of the few acceptable applications of a man wearing mittens.

8. Beard icicles.

7. It's a nice way to wake up in the morning.

6. You actually use that outdoor athletic apparel that white college students buy to look cool.

5. There's bragging rights when your water bottle freezes solid on the way to work.

4. A hot shower just feels that much better.

3. A hot cup of coffee just tastes that much better.

2. You learn to appreciate wool.

1. Riding your bike is fun... no matter the temperature.


Rainy Again

It's been a long time since I've had to commute in the rain. We've had such a dry summer, there wasn't but maybe a handful of times it's happened in the last few months. Today was a downpour, though. It was really enjoyable for a while... but eventually I lost my excitement.

The weather should hold out for the rest of the week. I'm still a little whiny about winter weather coming this way. It always takes me a while to adjust.

Get out there.


End of the Season

Perhaps yesterday was our last family ride of the year. With the right equipment, it's entirely possible to ride year-round with little ones. But we're just not there. With temps in the low 50's we were hearing complaints of cold little ears and noses.

It was a great day, though. We made a library and grocery run with everybody in tow. The big kids think it's fun to be the only bike in the parking lot. You can see pride on their faces when people walk by and smile as we're loading in grocery bag after grocery bag. Hopefully, this is the kind of mentality that will linger on through adulthood.
I still love how the Xtracycle handles loads. The design is ingenious. Although, it does make it a bit harder for the big kids to drop their legs over the sides when it's loaded with groceries I can't complain. All in all, though, it is just as easy as loading a bunch of crap into the back of the van and buckling three kids into their seats.
There was one party foul as I was unloading. I had apparently loaded all the heavy stuff onto the non-kickstand side of the bike. So when I lifted kids and two bags, the bike tumbled into the front yard. That's the type of thing you remember once you've made the mistake a couple times.

It was a good haul and I was happy to be out with everyone. I'm now brainstorming systems to keep the little ones warm through the winter. We'll see what we can come up with.

Get out there.


Exciting New Shop

Photo from Kentucky.com
There's an awesome article about The Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop on Kentucky.com. This shop's goal is to make cycling more accessible in Lexington. They plan to use a mix of friendly faces and inexpensive bike gear to really get the message out. I'm excited to see it happen. Read the article for details.

Get out there.


What the...?

Well, it didn't take long for someone to plow through the barrier posts that block off the bike path. Two of these things block each entrance to the path. They make it so there's not enough passage for a car or truck to pass through and drive on the path.
 Apparently, someone didn't understand the concept. You could see at the base that it was knocked down from the side that faces the road. My guess? Someone was flying down the road at night, completely oblivious to the "Road Ends" signs, and just smashed right into it.
Above, you can see tire marks from where they slammed on their brakes... a little too late.      
Then on the other side you see the skid marks as they sped away. Again, this is all my guess. But one thing is for sure... either someone wasn't paying attention or someone is a jerk that thought this was funny. Either way it's a shame.

This path is beautiful and helpful. Yet someone is completely careless and screws it up. I'm interested to see how long it takes to fix it, if ever.

Get out there.


Bikes on Vacation

The place we stayed last week had a couple of Treks in the garage. I thought I might take the opportunity to ride a lot, but I really didn't. When you have a week off of work and get to spend it with your family, you want to be around them as much as possible. As much as I love riding a bike, I love them more.
From what I saw in Fort Myers, there are bike paths everywhere. I could get to the grocery from where I was staying. I could have hit the beach (about 25 miles away). I could have done anything. It seemed like the paths were basically just really wide sidewalks along all the roads. You saw bikes everywhere, too. It was cool to see.
Obviously, it was also beautiful. My hope was to see a gator from the bike. I'm always posting pics of horses from Kentucky. I thought it would be fun to post a gator pic. I had no such luck.

Florida seemed like a great place to ride and fairly bike friendly. Next time I'll need to bring the Xtracycle and trailer, though. If we would have had the ability to bring the kids, we would have been on the bikes the entire time

Get out there.


Dead Battery

One of the bummers of bike commuting is your inability to be a hero. Obviously, it doesn't happen often, but disaster struck today. My wife was stranded at Target with the baby and our van wouldn't start. Dead battery. She called me for help.

It's easy to jump a battery... when you have a car. There's nothing to hook those cables to when you're on a bike. I had to hunt down a buddy and borrow his car to rescue my wife. Logically, it doesn't happen often enough to be an issue. But I did get stressed today trying to figure it all out.

Get out there.


Kent's Bike Blog

It's fitting that I send you to Kent's blog on the fifth anniversary of his first entry. Kent is one of those guys that's incredibly simple and endearing. It doesn't take a lot of reading before you say to yourself, "Man, I would totally hang out with this guy if he was local." Well, I say that to myself, at least. I'm not sure if he'd want to hang out with me. (Although, I think he would. He seems to care more about the commonality of cycling that the differences in personalities.)

You can tell Kent is highly intelligent and speaks with a lot of wisdom. He left the world of corporate "go-getters" to join the "go-get-out-there" crowd. You can read his passion for two wheels in every entry. Like others, Kent is humble and pure. He lives the kind of modest life that evokes a simplicity worth coveting.

He's also well known for his coroplast fenders and panniers that he makes from the oh-so-popular political yard-signs on this season.

Hop on over to his blog and thumb through the archives. There's much to learn and appreciate.


A Lazy Blog

The Lazy Randonneur is anything but a lazy blogger. Vik is a well spoken and well rounded man of many outdoor sports. His blog was the first time I'd ever seen an Xtracycle set-up (on his Big Dummy), which is what got me reading a few years ago. On a humorous sidenote, I remember seeing his Big Dummy and thinking, "Wow, I bet I could get kids on that thing."
Anyway, Vik is a great resource for products, techniques and cycling style. He's very intentional with all of his bikes and loves to experiment. You'll learn a lot when you read his stuff. Be careful, though. You'll find yourself desiring all the fun gear he plays with. I've often found myself on his blog saying, "Hmmm. I bet I would really benefit from a folding bike." See the issue here? I said the same thing about the Xtracycle :)

Check out Vik's stuff. You'll see some great cycling info with everything from urban riding to mountain biking to touring. He's even got lots of other fun stuff on stand-up paddle boarding and kite surfing their, too. He's a true outdoor enthusiast.

Get out there.

Beautiful Blog

Okay, I realize I haven't updated in two days. I'm really slacking off on my vacation... but that's what vacations are for, right? Here's another bicycle transportation blog that I read regularly.
EcoVelo is the most intentional cycling blog when it comes to aesthetics. Alan really has a great eye for photography and design. He's also a great writer and an experienced cyclist. His site is full of wisdom and beauty. Go check it out. You won't regret it.

Get out there.


Gone for the Week

Well, I'm on vacation for the week* so I figured I won't have a lot content for the blog. We do have some bikes where we're staying, so I'll be riding, just not in a way that's going to merit much blog action.

I figured this would be a great opportunity to show some of the different blogs I read. So this week, I'll take some time everyday to feature another biking blog. These are the blogs you'll find to the right in my blogroll. They're also the blogs that taught me a lot of what I know about biking. They inspire you on the days the car sings it's song of temptation. They are filled with real life and real fun. Most of all, they're written by really unique people that consider their bikes to be tools for an increased quality of life; awesome people that love to share.

Here's my first choice to share...

Doug was the first bike blog I ever found. To be honest it was the first blog I ever found. This guy is the real deal. My favorite thing about his blog? He's a regular guy. He does superhero type riding with a modest life. Sometimes when you read about others you think, "Do these people have jobs with all the riding they do? And speaking of jobs, how do they afford all this stuff?" Not with Doug. He works hard and actually budgets for his cycling adventures. That's right... budget. Money isn't at all the central theme of his writing. It's just something you notice that makes you feel closer to that lifestyle.

He hasn't driven to work in years and most impressively, he rides year-round in Minnesota. When I get whiny about the weather, I can click over to him to get motivated. He's always got a joyful attitude and always seems humble about riding... although what he does is freakishly awesome.

My favorite blogs are those real-life commuters... not racers. Doug is about as close as you could get.

And if you're a fellow Cross Check rider (like Doug and myself) go check out his newest project. He's recently built up a carbon belt drive Cross Check as the ultimate winter commuter.

So go visit Doug's blog and get inspired. You won't regret it.

Get out there.

*John Tesh says you shouldn't tell people when you're on vacation. He say's they'll break into your house and steal stuff. Please don't steal my stuff. You wouldn't get much anyway... other than my John Cusack movie collection on VHS.