Quite a Gale Today

Have you ever tried to take a picture of the wind? Not likely. Well, I was pushing against a 15 mph headwind with gusts up to 25 mph when I pulled of for this snapshot. There was an entire field of hay and weeds bent over from the push of the gale (okay, gale is an exaggeration).

I really enjoy riding in almost any weather. Snow is fun. Rain is fun. Sun is fun. Wind is not. I'm wimpy when it comes to wind. I still ride, of course, but I tend to whine to myself the whole time. I figured confessing my wussiness would help me to get over it.

So, there's the truth, World. I'm a wind baby. But I still won't let it stop me... just slow me down.

Get out there.

Bike Transport

Last week I picked up a used Yakima trunk rack off Craigslist for $20. I've had roof racks on all my cars since I was about 18 years old and they've been incredibly good to me. Actually, Yakima's stuff has carried bikes, kayaks, gas cans, tents, paddles, skis and about anything your could imagine on my vehicles... but always on top. The idea of a trunk rack is something new to me.

My Subaru has a roof rack but we have a minivan that I've never put anything on. I do have a rack that would work, but the reach to get anything on it's roof would be terribly inconvenient. For 20 bucks, I figured we couldn't beat this little guy.

I'm really surprised how well this thing works. I've seen a lot of super-store versions of this type of rack and they haven't seemed too sturdy. This thing is. The engineering behind it is simple, but affective. It has rubber straps that go across the top tube and a drop-down brace that straps to the down tube to keep the bike from swinging. That's where I've seen other trunk racks fall short. They allow the bike to sway when the vehicle accelerates or brakes. This one doesn't.

I don't need to transport my bikes too often. In fact, I frown upon it (I figure I should ride my bike, not drive it around). But this will be perfect for when I need to go somewhere with all three kids and up to three bikes.

I'd recommed it to anyone.

Get out there.



One of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is, "Don't you get cold?"  Well, yes.  I used to.  I commuted during the winter for three years before I discovered the little gem known as mittens.

I have had two really expensive pairs of gloves that have left my fingertips numb by the end of a ride.  Both were cycling specific.  One pair was fifty dollars and the others were ninety.  Yes... NINETY.  They really are some of the most expensive pieces of cycling equipment I've purchased... and neither worked.

That's some major disappointment.  The common factor in both sets were that they were five-finger gloves.  And I couldn't help but think that maybe mittens would be warmer.  Well, my boss gave me a $25 gift card to Dicks Sporting Goods for Christmas this year and I couldn't help but think that this would be the perfect opportunity to buy some cheap mittens.

I walked in and within five minutes grabbed a pair of twenty dollar Columbia mittens off the rack and checked out.  What an awesome purchase.

My hands are warmer now than they've ever been.  I've never gotten cold since buying these things.  I was honestly concerned about shifting without fingers but it hasn't been bad at all.  I'm a fan of bar-end shifting (being a commuter, I want the reliability) and the function hasn't changed one bit.

So, if you're out there wondering how to do it with snowy days and numb fingers, try the cheap mitten approach.  It's worked wonders for me.

Get out there.


Great Weather

We had one of those days today that was truly a gift.  We've been stuck inside for quite a while and while we've invented a lot of great things to do with ourselves (including playing Christmas and setting up the tent indoors), it was time for a visit to the park.  My lovely wife said that I should go for a ride at some point today (she's a winner, I know!) so I decided I'd meet the whole family at a park that was a good 10-12 miles away.  We could get in a good family outing and I could get in a ride.  Good choice.

The weather made it feel incredible.  I'm so used to having all the snow gear necessary to survive temps in the single digits.  It was so great to just be wearing a t-shirt and cut-off jeans.  In fact, I felt so good I decided to leave the road and journey through some single-track that would lead me to the park.  Good decision?  Probably not.  But I figured I had put those knobby tires on for snow, I may as well use them for mud since it was 60 degrees out.

The Snowpocalypse had left the ground muhhhd-dy.  It was sloppy and nasty. But it felt great.

I even had to pick my bike up and carry twice because the mud had gotten so thick between the tires and fenders. The Surly CrossCheck is the perfect bike for this scenario.  It's exactly why I chose it.  It will handle all my commuting needs, take me on a light bike tour for a camping trip, maintain the speed I needed for a triathlon, but also pull off into the mud with no worries.  I love this bike.

I have a buddy of mine considering this bike right now and I told him there's no way he could go wrong with it.  It will beckon from his garage to be ridden.  Near perfect for any scenario.  In fact, my next bike I buy will absolutely be his brother, The Long Haul Trucker.  But, I digress...

I got in all the mileage I had wanted, broke a good sweat and had an awesome time with the family at the park.  I think the little guy had fun, too.  By far, today was the greatest day I've had in a long time.

Get out there.

Kona Smoke 2-9 Review

It was great to finally get out on the Smoke today. The weather was perfect and there wasn't much that could have kept me inside. Of course, though, Angie had dibs for the first ride. I was a little anxious to know whether or not she would enjoy it. It was her first bike ride since she was a kid.

She. Loved. It. *sigh of relief* It was really cool to see her come back with a huge smile on her face. She had the same feelings I had after riding a bicycle for the first time as an "adult." So naturally, when she got home, I wanted to see how it rode.

Overall, I'm incredibly pleased. The 29" wheels were awesome for hopping curbs and absorbing the rough roads beneath. It truly handles like a mountain bike but feels fast like a road bike. I was even surprised that the gearing was as fast as it was. This is my first experience with a hybrid. I kind of expected it to be exactly like an mtb with slick tires and rigid suspension. But it wasn't. The right rider would easily hang with a roadie on a race bike.

I averaged around 16mph just messing around the neighborhood... until I took it into the wet grass. It felt great with it's big fat tires. They rolled over all the ruts and bumps the grass could give.

My only issue with the bike, at all, was the shifting. I'm not a big fan of grip shifting. It seemed that every bump and curb would cause me to accidently shift. That's not to say that I won't get used to it. I probably will. And Ang most likely won't notice at all. She probably won't put the bike to the same tests that I did :-).

Overall, I'm VERY pleased. I think it's gonna be a great bike for our family. I'm gonna put a rack on it and send into commuting duties this week!


Bike Camping

This photo was taken on my last bike camping trip. It was well over a year ago and I'm eagerly awaiting a chance to get back out there. The last trip was 50 miles there and back for one night. My hope this time would be to head to the Red River Gorge, which is closer to 70 miles from my house.
I've also not been able to do any rough camping. The Gorge would offer me the opportunity to pedal into the woods and be completely removed from any sign of civilization.
As of now, I'm waiting for the weather to clear up a bit and maybe see if anyone would want to join me.
For now, though, I'll be looking at old pictures.



I'm sick today. Last night was spent over the toilet.  I had to drive into work. During lunch I went home to try and maybe ride back to work via bike but it didn't happen.  Bummerville.



It was an awesome ride this morning.  I paced myself at about 10mph and slowly crunched my way through 11 miles of snow.  I love commuting.  I love being out in the open air to begin my day.  If you're a person who enjoys being outdoors, don't let the snow or cold scare you.  Get the right clothes and get out there.  If you're a runner, hiker, walker or a basketball player... do it.  Don't let weather stop you.


New Addition

Well, there's a new member of the family. This week I bought a Kona Smoke 2-9 for my wife for Valentine's Day. She's been wanting to get into riding for a while and a recent stress fracture in her knee has stifled her passion for running. Enter: The Smoke.

I really think this bike is perfect for our family. My plan is to add the Xtracycle to this bad boy sometime this summer. But it will make a great "first real bike" for Angie and will be perfect for fitness riding and errands.

She'll love the cushiness that it offers as a hybrid, but will really build up the confidence needed to be a touring/transportational cyclist.

This is the first step towards our dream of bike camping as a family. :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone



Things were ABSOLUTELY better on the road today. In fact, it was the exact opposite of my experience earlier this week. I felt lighter on the bike and the Surly seemed to glide across the wet pavement compared to the old mountain bike.

Now all I have to do is wash my riding clothes. That's one issue with winter riding: the clothes cost more, yet you need more of them. So anything in my winter line-up gets worn several times in a week... and boy, does it get stinky.

I came home today feeling like a million bucks and smelling like a bird cage. I went straight to the washing machine and loaded it in. It will be a quick laundry turn-around for tomorrow's ride.

Get out there.


Bad Choices

Today was probably the worst commute I've ever had. I hate to say that and I've never said it before.  And I must admit that it was totally my fault.  I had planned on today being great. There was 4-6 inches of snow on the ground (which is very rare in Lexington, by the way).  I had chosen my mountain bike.

The last time we had snow I rode the CrossCheck with slightly knobby tires and fenders.  The snow, then, was dry and icy. There ended up being a solid formation of of ice between the tires and fenders.  There was a need to chip it away every mile-and-a-half or so.  So naturally, I chose a different bike this time.

Bad decision.  Today's snow was really slushy.  And about 2 miles into the ride it started raining.  So I'm rolling at 10mph with fat knobby tires and no fenders.  I had a steady stream of nastiness getting kicked up into my face and back for the entire 12 miles.  Add to that, the fact that I have no rack on the MTB so all my work clothes were in a backpack getting soaked.

I got to work and luckily had a key to the laundry room to dry my clothes. But my shoes were wet, my clothes are still moist and my spirit was dampened.  I've never felt that way in the three years I've been commuting and I hope I don't feel this way again anytime soon. Today, though, I'll continue to slosh around in my shoes and keep my chin up... and hopefully make better decisions next time.


Issues with the Family

Let's set the record straight, I have no issues with the four other people that live in my home.  They're the best.  I have an awesome wife and three incredible kids that I love more than anything the world can offer. There is one issue with the kids, though.  They're getting bigger.  A few years ago for my birthday, Angie got me a trailer to haul the kids around with my bike.  At this point, it has been an awesome investment.

But a couple weeks ago, I bundled up my four-year-old, Bliss, and tossed her in the trailer for a run to the library.  (I use the word "toss" very loosely.  It was more of a cram, push, stretch and shove.)  She no longer fits in this thing.  I'll have to move on to the next scenario.  Which is... Hmmm.

I can tell you what I want it to be.

The Surly Big Dummy is my first choice. It has all the necessary platform to build and build until my whole family is taking a ride.  It's a bit on the pricey side for a single-income family with three kids, though.

For now I think I'll be eyeing the Xtracycle for one of my existing bikes.  Hopefully it will suffice until I strike oil in my backyard.

Until then, the kids are gonna have to scootch in.


Why I do it

A buddy at work was asking me about my bike commute today. He wanted to know the usual... "How long does it take? Is it dangerous? Aren't you cold?" It happens probably three days a week. And I'm not sure if I have an incredibly convincing answer. "I really like it," is the truth. It's an adventure every day. If it's plowing through snow, dodging puddles or climbing a steep hill, there's a memorable part of every commute.

Angie and I deciding long ago that we're each entitled to three one-hour workouts a week. And since my driving commute is 20 minutes and my bike commute is only 45, it feels like I'm squeezing extra time out of every day.

I'm not a super "green" guy. I have a car that I love. But there's something about that time before and after work everyday. Maybe it's because I'm an extrovert and this forces me to be alone. Maybe it's because of the adventure. I really don't know. But I don't have any intention of stopping.

If you've never tried bike commuting, you should. If you need motivation, leave your car at work and have a buddy drive you home. That way, your bike is your only option in the morning. That should get the pedals turning.


I bought the CrossCheck three years ago from an awesome shop that gives life-time of free tune-ups if you buy the bike from them.  It's an awesome deal.  But it does make it a bit harder to force myself to learn the essential ways of bike mechanics.  There seems to be little reason to fidget, poke, bleed and screw things up when a professional is a few miles away, willing to do it for free.  I suppose I'll eventually get there.  For now, though, I'll let the pros handle it.