Xtracycle Makeover

The Xtracycle has received quote a makeover since it's complete thrashing this past winter. We had more snow and salt on the roads than any of my previous riding years and this bike saw most of the commuting duty. After some serious contemplation, it was time to start making some changes.
One of the first things I did was throw on the Jones H-Bars. I'm thinking these will work well for now. I'm still having some comfort issues, but some of that is due to a poor stem choice. The stem you see above is just too long. I've already purchased a shorter stem with a bit of a higher rise in it. I think the adjustment will compensate for what I was missing from the Nitto North Road bars.

Also, in this pic you may notice different shifters. I finally got the SRAM iMotion9 installed and operating.
I'm really enjoying the internal geared hub. The shifter I was received with it wasn't working well. After taking the bike to Bike Green Lexington and SRAM shipping them an all new shifter (free of charge), everything works great now. I left the front derailleur and shifter on for experimentation sake. I've now decided on a gear ratio and will eventually move to a single chainring and crank. As soon as the funds get replenished, I'd like to pull the trigger on that.
Lastly, I've moved from the Schwalbe Marathon Cross to the Big Apples. The ride feels a bit smoother and more appropriate for what the Xtracycle is primarily used for. I wanted something a bit less aggressive for the Xtra, plus I wanted to free up the Marathons for a mountain bike project I've got going.

I'm excited for the new and improved Xtra. I think the fine tuning is almost complete which is perfect timing for the summer family biking season.

Get out there.


Left or Right

When I pull out of my neighborhood, I usually go left. When I turn left, I see acres and acres of farmland. I see cows and horses. I see lots of trees and a whole lot of nature.

Turning right is a totally different experience...

The town I live in is old and quaint. It's street after street of old houses and small town life. I actually love it. But on a ride the other night I realized that I rarely have pictures of my right handed journeys. But whether left or right, I always enjoy my time on the bike.

Get out there.


One Last Run

My half marathon is this Saturday. I can't wait for it. This is something that I never thought I would do. Obviously, biking is my thing... not running. But my wife, who is an amazing person, is a runner and we chose to do this together. I'm excited to experience this thing that she's done several times. It totally changes your perspective.

But today was the last training run. I've got two days of rest (no riding unfortunately) and then I'll be hitting the pavement for 13.1 miles on foot. Then I return to my normal routine of bike commuting and blogging. May is Bike to Work month, too, which is appropriate.

I wonder if I'll keep running a bit. I hope to. It's a great way to mix it up and be outside. We'll see, I guess.

Get out there.


Toe Clearance

I've never had an issue with toe clearance on a bike before. But the newest rendition of the Cross Check has lead to some problems. I've definitely got a set of "balloon" tires on it right now (700 x 47c). And you may have noticed that I'm not running a front fender. With these tires and a fender, it became a bit hazardous.

After playing with it all, I've decided I'll have to go with a smaller tire and fender or just ditch the fenders altogether. Solution? Both, really. I've got to leave it as is until I can afford a smaller tire.

It's kind of a bummer, but I'm guessing these tires will just go to waste. There's not much market for a street 29er out there. I'll hang them in the garage until another bike project comes my way.

Get out there.


Pretty Cool

My friend, Abby, wrote an article about me in today's Earth Day issue of Rails to Trails Magazine. It's pretty cool to see. Hop on over and give it a read.

Get out there.


Lawn Boy

Yesterday, I had to get my mower from my buddy, Justin. He had borrowed it last week and only lives a couple miles from my house. I knew this would be one of those scenarios where loading it into the car would be just as much work as pedaling over there on a bike.

The kid trailer folds flat and by eyeballing it, I could tell that it would seat the mower just fine. So I rode over and loaded it up. It took about three minutes to load it and strap it in. From the time I left to the time I came home was exactly 20 minutes. I'm not sure that the car would have been any faster at all.
Plus the weather is so nice, these days. It was cool but sunny, the exact combination the neighborhood kids like for fishing in the pond. I love seeing them out there. There's some type of "old man" notion in my brain that says that kids don't hang out outside anymore. These guys were loving it, though.

I love these quick evening rides and running errands is a great motivator for doing it. I'd highly recommend it.

Get out there.


Bike Date

The kids were away overnight this weekend, so Angie and I took the opportunity to do a little bit of bike date action. The original plan was to go camping or hit the mountain bike trails but weather didn't permit. Neither of us are opposed to camping in foul weather. But since time with just the two of us is so minimal, we didn't want to spend that the weekend fighting Mother Nature.

We still had a blast pedaling around our little town. We did a loop around Nicholasville and slowly made our way home. Cycling is a great way to spend time with your favorite person in the world.

Get out there.


Blown Away

This morning's cross wind was so strong that one gust blew me completely off the road. Fortunately, it was in a location that didn't cause any risk of a crash. To any viewing motorists, it probably just looked like I yanked my handlebars to the right and headed into a ditch.

I kept the tires in contact with the ground and casually pulled up next to a fence for an unplanned photo-op... hence the nice little farm scene above.

Later on the commute I was able to ride with that heavy wind. It was, literally, "smooth sailing" as they say. I had even left with enough time to take a minute and play with the auto-timer on my camera app again.
You'll see that I still haven't installed a rack on the new Cross Check build. I hate riding with a backpack. For now, it's a necessary evil. Even though my preferred rack is only $25, the bike budget has been bled try for the foreseeable future. No complaints, though. It's just nice to be out.

Get out there.


Thinking About Bike Commuting?

My friend Justin sent this to me. I agree with almost everything here. It's a great read.

Get out there.


Another Project

I've been considering an Adventure Race or mountain bike race this summer. The problem is I currently don't have a mountain bike. Solution? Get to work.

In all the nooks and crannies of my garage, I've stock piled parts on top of parts. I even had an old MTB frame waiting to be built up.

So that's my new project. The Xtracycle conversion is over and done with and I'm moving on to this MTB now. First thing's first... a new paint job. I've never painted a frame before and I'm absolutely positive that it doesn't fall into the category of "a great decision." But it will be fun to turn around and see something totally different. I'm looking forward to hitting the trails soon enough.

Get out there.


Wet and Wild

We've had lots of rain this week. It's one of those week's when everywhere you look, you see little pools of water waiting to drain out. This morning's ride was that way. I saw dozens of temporary ponds on my commute. It was really quite a sight.

This one was the smallest I saw. Most were huge flooded basins in fields. I got to watch horses wade through a new stream that wasn't there a week ago. I saw ducks swimming in someone's front yard. It's truly amazing how weather changes a landscape. That's the great stuff you get to notice on a bike.

Get out there.


How Long?

Last week was spring break and I took off to spend some time with the wife and kids. After a full week of being home I now wonder how long it's going to be before my kids are riding 100% on their own. Last year they were all about riding on the Xtracycle. Now that the newness of that has worn off, they're wanting to ride solo.

It's super fun to watch. Bliss loves the action of the "big kid" bike and her brother won't be far behind. He doesn't like that she can go so much faster :)

All in all, I don't care how we ride as long as we ride. I'm just extremely happy being outside and being together.

Get out there.


Lined Up...

...and ready to go!
Lots of family biking this spring break week. Glad I took off of work!

Get out there.


Another Rendition

Well, the new old Cross Check has had another facelift. The Jones H-Bars didn't quite feel right on the bike. I bought them as a bit of an experiment in the first place. I wanted to know how they felt compared to straight bars. They feel great, but didn't quite fit what I was going for on this bike.

I swapped the H-Bars out and put the Nitto North Road bars on from the Xtracycle. The new look is great. It's a subdued casual vibe, which I really like. But overall, the bike feels better. My wife is going to see a lot of miles on this bike and I want her to be uber comfortable. These bars are perfect for that.

The Xtracycle is now rocking the H-bars, but more on that later. It's had a complete makeover (bars, wheels, internally geared hub...). I'll take some pics and do a write-up soon.
The only thing left for tweaking on the Cross Check is the tire/fender situation. There's not enough toe clearance up front for fenders with these fat tires. The slightest turn has your foot clipping the wheel. I'm going to run it fender-free for a while to see what I think. I like the big tires, but I'm not a fan of sans fenders... I don't want to get caught in foul weather. We'll see, I guess.

Things are coming together for this summer's rendition of bicycles make-overs!

Get out there.



Out in the Twitterverse, there's something called 30daysofbiking going on in April. If you follow various bikey stuff online, you may already be aware. The basic challenge is to ride your bike somewhere at least once a day, every day in April. It doesn't matter if you just hop on the bike and spin around your neighborhood for a few minutes... a ride is a ride.

You should click over and check out the Twitter hashtag. It's really fun to see all the folks out there that are trying this cycling thing for the first time through 30daysofbiking. Events and competitions like this are a wonderful way to challenge yourself.

More than anything, using Twitter as a tool shows you that you're not alone. Rainy day? You're just a click away from seeing hundreds of others wringing out their cycling clothes. Scorching sun? The hashtag will show plenty of twitpics of all those other sunburned noses. It really is an encouraging notion to see others trying it with you.

I participated in last year's 30daysofbiking (which was in it's infancy) and thought it was great. On those days that don't quite lend themselves to a bike ride, you feel the accountability of hundreds of people you don't even know. It feels like you're going to disappoint them. So you hop on the bike and do what it takes.

I would encourage everyone to participate (even though it's a bit late). Think about it. You may love it.

Get out there.


Still Out Here

I realize that many of my posts have been on the "I'm not posting much" variety. It's because I've been getting most of my mileage on foot, not on two wheels.

My training for the half marathon ends this month. The race is April 30 and I'm excited to run and to get back on the bike regularly. It's really not too bad though. I get to be outside just as much (if not more) with all the training. And with the spring skies overhead, it's truly incredible.

I'll keep you posted on the training and update you on bikey stuff along the way.

Get out there.


First Family Ride of 2011

Okay, I know this pic is ridiculous. You can kind of see me, two big kids and the trailer my wife is pulling with the baby inside. In reality, you can't see anything. :) Oh well. I wanted to soak up the ride, not snap pics the whole time.

We rode to the library in some super high speed winds (45 mph gusts) and you could feel it. It really was one of those "so so" rides. Angie had some trouble with the new Cross Check build. Her toes kept clipping the front fender on every turn. I've got it built up with some balloon tires. So with all the fender clearance needed, it's an issue, I guess. I'll get to work on a solution this week.

I had the two big kids on the Xtracycle. It's finally back in working order. More on that later.

All in all, it was just really nice to get out. I really love family cycling.

Get out there.