New Shipment

I got a nice little shipment from Jenson yesterday. My Jones Titec H-Bars were in the box waiting to be installed. Unfortunately, my order was divided into two shipments and there is another box I need to finish the Cross Check. For now, it looks like these bars are going to be great for what I need. I’m excited for another night of bike wrenching. Soon enough I’ll be on the bike instead of working on the bike.

Get out there.


Mud and Snow

Yesterday I took a lunch break to hit some sloppy and snowy trails with Jeff. Being that we've had snow and ice on the ground for the last few weeks, we didn't know what to expect. It was a quick ride, but we had fun.
The terrain was a weird mix of snow, ice and mud. Honestly, it wasn't the best stuff to ride on. You didn't know whether you're tire would slide out from under you or sink down a few inches. In the above picture, I nearly bit it crossing this stream. It's a pretty steep little rut and my tire slid out on the icy bank and then sunk deep in the mud. I made it through, but it wasn't pretty.

 Some stuff was packed ice that you floated right over. But pretty much everything was unpredictable.
Jeff let me ride his bike. I don't have an MTB that's operational right now but he's borrowing his brother's. It worked out great for me!

Overall, it was a fun ride and a great break from sitting in the office.

Get out there.


An Old Friend

I've ridden the last couple winters with no ski goggles. They are, in no way, a necessity so I never replaced mine after they mysteriously disappeared... or one of my kids lost them.

Well, I got a few gift cards to Dicks Sporting Goods for Christmas and thought that I'd use that opportunity to replace them. I forgot how much they helped. The other day snow was coming down pretty hard. These are the scenarios that I enjoy having them. They keep the snow out of your eyes and the cold off of your face.

After about an hour long ride, I was very thankful to have goggles back in the gear bag. I've never had super cheap goggles, but I've seen them at Wal-mart and Target. If you'd ever want to give them a try for winter riding, I say go for it. I'm glad I went with the middle-of-the-road pair, though. They're a great application for protection and anti-fogginess... but I'd support anything that gets someone out on the bike in these cold months.

Get out there.


Running Errands

Yesterday Angie encouraged me to get out for a ride. After all the indoor Christmas festivities, she could tell that I was getting a little stir crazy. That's one of the best things about commuting by bike... being outside is built into your lifestyle. When I'm on vacation like this, I have to be intentional about getting out and letting my brain decompress. She was both generous and correct in her offer.

I headed out to the library to return some stuff. It had just snowed a few inches and was still coming down. I love being the first tracks on fallen snow. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it feels a bit more exploratory. But it caused me to take streets I knew would be untraveled. I love to look back and see those two little tracks interweaving with one another.
After that I took lots of side streets to kill some time. I just wanted to be out and I figured it didn't matter where I was going. I stopped by the Courthouse to snap a picture. I live in a small town outside of Lexington that's really quite quaint. We've got a nice little main street with little shops, a cafe and this cool old Courthouse building. You can't see anywhere near to the top. It stretches high into the air and is topped off with some nice architecture. I really love where I live.

After that, I had one more errand to run. A buddy is out of town for the week and wanted me to turn his Christmas lights on so people wouldn't know he was gone (hopefully they don't read this blog. I don't have too many friends. You could easily find out who it is :))

I stopped by, plugged in the lights and meandered back to the house, once again taking lots of detours. I have no idea what my mileage was. I was gone for an hour or so and I did build up a bit of a sweat. All I know is that it was worth it and it did the trick. I cam home and Angie said, "You should always listen to me when I suggest that you go for a ride. You're mood is so much better." Apparently, I was a better man for getting out.

Get out there.


Merry Christmas!

No bike riding for me today... just lots of work with the Leatherman putting toys together. I'll be back on two wheels soon!

Get out there.


The One Deterrent

I think I've said this before, but I'm seeing it all over the place again... fog. Fog is the one thing that truly deters me from riding my bike. When fog comes out, it seems like there's nothing I can do to control it. I can wear lights in the dark, layers in the cold and waterproof gear in the rain. But there isn't much I can do to make myself that much more visible in this fog.

Sometimes I wonder if it's a geographical issue. Is fog this thick everywhere you go? Sometimes this stuff gets so nasty that you begin to measure your visibility in feet instead of miles. When that starts happening, I'll grab the keys to the Subaru, toss the bike on the rack and commute home from work after it all clears.

This last week one of those days came about. Too much fog. The good thing about this stuff is that it clears with the morning sun and we're able to hit the road quickly enough.

Get out there.



Recently I've been really slacking on my breakfast eating. It's hard for me to eat when I'm not hungry. But my metabolism has been burning hardcore with the cold weather. I think that maybe it's using up quite a bit more energy trying to keep me warm.

My solution is to get going early enough to eat a big breakfast of eggs and cereal or toast before I hit the road. The delicate balance, though, is to eat early enough that I don't feel like I have a stuffed belly through the ride. It takes me about a half hour to digest enough to feel good.

So the routine has changed yet again due to weather. It's just another nuance to riding year round. It's fun to learn new stuff again every season.

But I'm learning that eating a big breakfast does help a ton (duh). I just need to make the big commitment. How about you? What are your eating habits before the morning commute?

Get out there.


New Bike?

Yep, I bought a new bike frame that I've been working on recently. Doug was selling his old Cross Check and I had been in the market for building up another one. I'm selling my stock Cross Check build to raise some money for other things and was looking for an old steel bike to depend on. Well, when I saw that I could nab Doug's for cheap, I thought I'd go for it.

It's built up from stuff I had lying around the house. There's really nothing special (or complete) about this bike yet (so far, I've just thrown everything on... nothing is adjusted or operating). It's just going to be my somewhat-faster-than-the-xtracycle commuter bike. There are a few other little things I've got to do to it and pieces that I need to order to make it operable, but this is basically it.

The biggest difference you'll see later will be the bars. I'm going to order a pair of Titec H-Bars to throw on here. I've always been curious of how they feel and I think this is the perfect application. I can't ride straight MTB bars. My wrists are too sensitive for some reason. But I think the H-Bars would be perfect.

This bike will be my beater/foul weather bike for commuting and see some MTB trails every once in a while, too. I'm really excited about it. I hope to finish it all up over Christmas vacation.

Get out there.


Icy Grass

The ice is beginning to melt away and it's plain to see that this was no snow storm. Our little town of Lexington has been covered in ice for over a week now... not snow. As I was riding to work, I could hear loud cracking sounds the whole way as this stuff began to separate from itself. There were also several times I could see huge pieces fall from trees.

From a distance (like the background of this pic), you can't tell a difference between ice and snow. But when you get up close (like you see on the grass under my bike) you can tell that this is crunchy stuff.

Honestly, it's much more of a pain than snow. I love riding in the snow. I hope to see some more soon.

Get out there.


That Could Have Been Me

Remember how I wrote that they put two poles up to keep cars off the bike path? Also, do you remember how someone just drove right through and took one of the poles out? Well, it happened again.

Friday morning I saw that someone just plowed right through the remaining pole. Along the path, there are six different points where you see these poles. This is the only location that even one has been taken out. I'm guessing that the car drivers are not paying attention to the signs that tell them the road is about to end and a bike path is about to begin. The scary part is that this pole could just as easily be me on my bike. These poles have lots of reflective material on them. They stood about three and a half feet high. They're not hard to see. The issue is that these drivers aren't paying attention.

Scary thought.

Get out there.


Why I Need Studded Tires

This is too awesome not to share. It's exactly what I've been experiencing for the last week. I didn't realize how dumb I look. Awesome.


Another Wipeout

I went down again this morning. We had an ice storm two days ago that has turned Lexington into somewhat of a Narnian world. I had to drive to work yesterday because I had an appointment I couldn't reach by bike so today was my first ride on this ice.

The roads were okay. They weren't great but the cars do take care of a lot of the ice. But once I hit the bike path I went down hard. Worse than last time. It hurt. You can see the ice shattered where I fell right where the kickstand touches the ground (click the pic to enlarge). I'm really trying to figure out what to do.

Anyone know of the cheapest/quality studded tires? I'd look at the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires, but... whoa. I don't think I can spend 80 bucks per tire. I just don't have that kind of money. And I've heard cheap ones wear out quickly and aren't worth the money. Any coaching from any of you northerners?

I think for now I'll have to stay off the bike path and hit the road with the cars. I'm not going to quit riding. But it looks like this winter may be different than the past winters. I'll have to be really careful this year.

Get out there.


A Bike Makes Life Better

Lately I've been thinking about the word Adventure. I've been putting a lot of stock into the idea that we're made for it. Recently, I had a meeting with a friend who was making some really poor choices that were hurting his family. It seems like all those bad choices were centered around the idea that he was both bored and boring. There was an overwhelming feeling that no one took him seriously as a person and the only emotion that matched it was a desire to do something incredible (at the risk of being irresponsible) just to feel something.

Honestly, I couldn't help relating his situation to my own. What kept me from feeling this feeling? I'm absolutely sure that it's because I have an incredible wife, incredible kids and an incredible belief system that keep me on my toes. If I take any of those things seriously, I wouldn't have the opportunity to make poor choices. They are first and foremost. But I also have to consider those bikes in my garage.

Now, if you're not a year-round cyclist or adventure seeker you may not get what I'm saying, but hear me out. I don't get bored. When I have free time, I'd rather be on my bike than on a gambling boat, buying a new car or, worse, spending time with a woman who wasn't my wife. I love being on my bike. And there's a lot of living that happens when you're bombing down a hill on two wheels or facing the frozen terrain of your winter bike commute. The significance of that living doesn't leave me wondering if there is something more. I'm not bored.

Then look at it from the other side. I don't think I'm a boring person... at least my wife doesn't think so. Our marriage is incredibly healthy and I would attribute a tiny percentage of that health to those bikes. My wife thinks it's interesting and, dare I say, attractive when I come through the front door with icicles hanging from my face. She, in no way, thinks I'm a boring person. She's proud of me (just read her tweets), wants to be married to me and wants to be wanted by me. And when I reciprocate that love back to her, she feels no need to find value in new clothes, spending money or her physical appearance. I find her interesting because of her sense of adventure. She's the only person I know who can block out the world and run for miles and miles all alone. I find it fascinating. I find her fascinating.

And it seems that lots of this love, health and genuine relational significance comes from that sense of adventure. I think that's because we were made for it. We were created to live, not sit at a computer. And I'm not knocking sitting at a computer. I do all day long. But I leave that computer and live. I don't leave that computer and pick up a controller. I don't leave that computer to go buy the newest what-not from the mall. I leave that computer and ride a bike home to my family. I pull that bike into the garage and I'm greeted by three little people and the most beautiful and most interesting woman on the planet. They hug me. They kiss me. We laugh and we want to be together. And somehow, I think that bike has something to do with it. I think that bike makes me better.

Get out there.


Bike Shower

This snow makes a lot of crap build up on your bike. The problem is that road grit and filth kind of freeze on your bike and get tracked right into the building (we don't have any outdoor parking to lock a bike to). That's the kind of thing that makes the facilities director get mad at you.
Here's how I deal with it. I just park the bike right in the shower and let it melt off. The nasty stuff heads right down the drain and no one knows the difference. It's an easy solution for a short bike. I've got to get a little more creative with a towel with the Xtracycle. It's hard to stand it up in that little shower.

Winter riding brings on a whole lot of opportunities to get innovative. It's not just layers of clothes. But it's all fun.

Get out there.


Snow Delay

The incredibly generous organization that I work for gives us a two hour delay when school is called off. That gives people enough time to figure out what to do with kids while they clear the parking lot for the day's happenings. For me, this meant that I got to lounge around with this guy for a bit longer before I hopped on the bike yesterday.
He and I both appreciated the extra time to hang together. The big kids were around, too. They were just rejoicing that school was out and soaking up a little more Curious George.

The ride in was great. It took twice as long as usual but I anticipated as much, so I allotted the extra time. It was a fight against some major headwind. But eventually I realized I needed to pick up the pace a bit.
I ride with my iPhone in a ziploc bag. Yesterday, I thought I'd see what pics looked like if I didn't take it out to shoot. Obviously, they don't look good... they just look a bit instagrammed. My apologies.
Honestly, plowing through the snow wasn't bad. It was really powdery stuff that moved right out of my as I cut through. I couldn't really feel much resistance. It was just the wind that killed me. I'm also finally getting the hang of gear choices. I dressed perfectly for the weather... not too cold and not too hot. It always takes me a while to remember what to wear.

All in all, that's a good day... extra time with the family, extra time on the bike and a little extra adventure. You can't beat that.

Get out there.


Is Riding Your Bike Cool?

I'm genuinely asking this question. I mean, I know there's a group out there riding around in tight jeans on fixed gear bikes (like mine pictured above). But I'm not really sure if the reality of cycling is cool. Here are my thoughts...

Pro-Coolness Factors:

  • It's Green, and being Green is cool.
  • Lots of companies use bikes in their ads.
  • Celebrities are seen riding bikes.
  • It's counter cultural to an auto-centric culture.
  • It requires a level of fitness, and Biggest Loser shows us that being in shape is cool.
Anti-Coolness Factors (a.k.a. "The Reality"):
  • You sweat a lot.
  • Cold weather gear covers everything, and showing too much skin is cool.
  • Even the experienced rider occasionally falls.
  • High-school kids at the bus stops make fun of me because they think I don't own a car.
  • We live in a fast pace world and biking is, in no way, fast paced versus driving 80mph.
  • Al Roker rides a bike.
Well, those are the thoughts off the top of my head. I'm really not sure of my conclusion. I would think that cycling is beginning to breach the main stream culture as a "Wouldn't that be neat?" kind of thing but I don't think it's caught on to the masses.

As far as my experience can tell, no one thinks it's cool that I ride, most people think it's just bizarre.

Either way, I don't do much of anything because it's considered cool (I'm not really a cool guy, if you didn't know). I was just thinking about the topic.

Get out there.


Early and Extended...

The snow is this year. Normally, we wouldn't see a decent snow until January. It's not really a thought in my mind until then. Here we were in early December with a legit accumulation. And this snow has lasted. Most of the snow we see is here today, gone tomorrow. This stuff has extended it's stay for a couple weeks. That's unusual for us, as well.

Does it mean this could be a cold and snowy winter? I have no idea. I like it either way. I figure if I'm going to be freezing, we may has well have the pretty white stuff to look at. It doesn't really affect riding too much. Just because we don't usually have snow doesn't mean we don't see ice. Slipping and sliding are there either way.

But today most of the snow in this pic will be gone. It's going to warm up quite a bit beyond freezing. But we'll have another chance at the cold stuff after the weekend.

Get out there.


Snow Man

This guys is an eye catcher on the bike commute home these days. He looks like an Easter Island head from The Simpsons.

Get out there.


Frozen Deck

Here's a look at my Snapdeck on most of my recent rides. It doesn't take as long as you would think to build up a nice little layer of frost on the deck. That's exactly what builds up on my face, hands and chest when I'm pedaling. Whew. It can get cold. That's why you've got to keep moving!

Get out there.


Winter Wardrobe

This is the normal routine when I come home from work these days. I've got to hang all of my clothing up to let it all dry for the next day's use. There's a certain odor that quickly builds up on winter gear. It's all the sweat matched with the level of humidity in the air, I think.

Either way, this is a must. Everything barely dries out in time for daily use.

Get out there.


Xtracycle on Ice

Today's commute was darn near ridiculous. In past winters, I've always had to ride on the shoulder of roads that have been plowed or salted. This will be my first winter on the bike path... and perhaps my first winter with studded tires.

The plowed and salted roads meant that I never had to deal too much with icy conditions. I've been able to stay upright with no issues. Today was not the case. The entire bike path was a solid sheet of ice. I'm sure I was the only traffic to cross it this morning, so I was hitting the fresh ice with inadequate tires.

I love the way the Xtracycle handles on the slick surface, but I think studded tires may be needed. I had to get off my bike and walk it up one hill in the grass due to my lack of traction. The harder I pedaled, the more my back tire spun.
Right here I completely wiped out. My bike just flew out from underneath me and I smacked my left side to the ground. Bummer.

Now I have to make a decision. Is this slick unmanaged bike path going to force me to buy studded tires? Is that worth the money? I could easily take my old route and hang on the shoulder, but that's miserable. I've never had to deal with it before, so I'm really not sure what I will do.

I do know that today's commute took way too long and hurt a bit too much when I smacked the ground. I'm going to have to change something up. Oh well, it could be worse.

Get out there.


Cold Day

It was a cold cold day on the Xtracycle. Luckily, I've had enough experience in the cold weather to dress somewhat appropriately for these temps. But I don't, in any way, have the nicest stuff you could buy. My cold weather gear is a bit bulky, being that it's on the low end of performance. That's the biggest annoyance with winter weather.

It's not that I'm getting cold. It's that the restrictive clothing makes every pedal stroke require more effort. This morning's commute felt like it took more energy than a 30 mile ride... and it probably did. I continue to pick away at getting it all replaced. Every Christmas is an opportunity to ask for one more garment or one more piece of gear that will get me further down the road.

Until I've accumulated the perfect winter wardrobe, I'll continue to ride. It's too fun to miss out.

Get out there.



Yesterday was a rainy commute but temps were in the high fifties. Today it's snowing and 28 degrees. This is the time of year that your wardrobe needs lots of thought.

For instance, yesterday as I was grabbing my bike from the garage, I got the sense that I was a bit overdressed. My rain jacket doesn't breathe too well (as most rain gear doesn't) and I decided to drop the soft shell I had on underneath it. It was the perfect choice. One day I'm riding with a t-shirt and a very light rain jacket, the next requires my heaviest winter hardshell with a layer of fleece under that.

I've said it before and I'll state it again, summer riding is easier. No thought or intentionality goes into your clothes for the commute. Shorts and t-shirt. No more. No less.

But today's ride home in the snow will look completely different than yesterday's commute in the rain, yet be only 24 hours apart. That's what winter bike commuting entails... but that's what makes it interesting. And it's completely worth it.

Get out there.