Bike to Fish

Yesterday, my lovely wife rewarded me with a couple hours of riding and fishing to end out the weekend. I headed out on thinking I would get in about 20 miles and some fishing in one of the creeks nearby. I had a blast riding, but the fishing didn't turn out like I had planned.
In the photo above, you can see that green moss running lines along the bottom of the creek. This is one of the spots that I've caught dozens of fish before. But that mossy mess kept me from getting anywhere with my rod and reel. On another note, the water was crystal clear. All of that gunk is along the bottom and you can see it so clearly.
It didn't stop me from trying.

Green crap everywhere you look.
And a short hike out of the woods to head back home. This spot is pretty well hidden. But this little path shows that plenty of people know about it. It's a perfect place to sit or walk along the creek for hours to catch plenty of fish. For me, though, I love being outside... fish or no fish.
The ride was uneventful other than a bunch of cop cars speeding by with their lights and sirens on. There's not a whole lot of people out this way. I can't imagine what they were after.

As always, I was thankful to be out and glad that I went for it. It was a great couple hours of solitude and nature.

Get out there.


Get Me Off of This Crazy Thing

These words rarely come out of my mouth but... I did not have fun on the bike this morning.

There. I said it. It's true. The combination of cold, poor clothing choices and a massive headwind made me want off of the bike at the very moment I pulled out of my driveway. My buddy Justin commuted in this morning about 20 minutes ahead of me and felt the same way. I guess it was just one of those days. I haven't said that in years. But today I just kept thinking, "I just want off of this bike." Weird, huh?

Get out there.


Of Fenders and Station Wagons

The rain fell through the night and stopped just in time for my morning commute. If the ground is thoroughly soaked, and you don't have fenders on a bike, you can get just as wet as you would if it were pouring rain. The tires fling up all kinds of water and sludge all over you and your drivetrain. It certainly made me appreciate the coverage today as I stayed completely dry.
I used to think that fenders looked dorky. Even last week, someone told me that it made my "road bike" look like a "beach cruiser." Now, that's not offensive in any way. But it did make me think that something like fenders change the perception of a bike. The same is true with my car.
When people see my car, I'm sure they see a station wagon. Not me, though. I see a vehicle that fits  six bikes... or three kayaks and three bikes... or allows me to fold down the seats and sleep inside on top of a mountain at a ski resort... or many other possibilities. But, yes, the most notable thing is that it's a station wagon. But that extra bit of cargo and that hatchback make it so much more versatile. It's totally worth it to me.

And those dorky fenders on my bike may take it from a sleek road bike to a rugged utilitarian machine, but it's worth it. On days like today, I stay dry and can accomplish more. My station wagon and fendered cyclocross bike can get the job done. That's what I love about both of them.

Get out there.


Lazy Legs

It was hard to get going today. I left a little earlier than usual, so I was able to take a longer route into work. But I was expecting my legs to be a little more responsive than what they were. Three days in a row off the bike (which is unusual) combined with extra cold temps this morning were the contributing factors, I believe. It was just one of those days that I felt every pedal rotation. It's still enjoyable because I'm outside. There's occasionally just commutes that feel like they beat you instead of you beating them.

Get out there.


Perfect Commute Weather

These days with morning commutes in the mid 50's and afternoon commutes in the mid 60's are just perfect. It makes it hard not to take the long, long, long way to work and risk being a little late. This morning, I took a turn to take the long route, pushing my time pretty close to my 9am meeting. And before I knew it, I was tempted to do it again with another turn. Loving the ride is a risky thing when you have a meeting to be at on time!
Warm weather and beautiful skies make bike commuting so much nicer.

Get out there.


A Classic

A few weeks back, I fixed a friend's old Huffy road bike that was giving her a little trouble. She is new to cycling and someone had given her the bike so she didn't have to invest anything into a new hobby. As I got my hands greasy on this old, generic ten speed, I was amazed at how rock solid it was.

This was a cheapo bike when it was made (I'd guess at least 25 years ago), yet it can still be tuned to perfection. It's the heavy steel components and frame that make it indestructible. There is very little plastic on the bike. And with some know-how and very little time, it can always be set back to its original form.

I'm not one to complain about the weight of a bike. Most of my riding is loaded down with panniers full of stuff, anyway. But I did notice this bike was heavy. Not crazy heavy, though. In all honesty, I'd trade gram-counting for this tank any day. When you have an indestructible bike, you'll ride more. And riding more means smiling more. And smiling is a good thing.

Sometimes I think I'd like to buy an old, old bike and restore it. But my Surly frames have the same personality and ruggedness. They do the job with a bit more finesse, too. And the real problem is that my garage is already full of bikes. There's not really room for more.

Get out there.


Speed Record

I didn't take a photo today. I was going for a speed record... which I got. I beat my last record by over a minute. I'm rarely concerned with speed. If anything, I'm incredibly lazy. But I wanted to go for it this morning. It feels good to hammer it out.

Get out there.



Nothing to report.

Get out there.


Keep a Jacket Handy

I had to re-bust out my cold weather Gore Bike Wear cycling jacket. This guy keeps me warm in temps from about 25 degrees on up to about 45 degrees. After that, I will just wear a heavier camping shirt. But three days of commutes, now, have had me on cold weather watch. The last couple weeks of t-shirt commutes have been long forgotten. Today's ride was 30 degrees with a 27 degree wind chill. This is why I never pack up my winter riding gear until June!
It was a great ride, though. I love when you get a crisp, cold weather commute every once in a while. It certainly wakes me up on the way in!

Get out there.


25 More Minutes

Today's commute had three of us in attendance. And the 43 degree windchill led to a discussion on dressing appropriately. After several years of bike commuting, I've gotten a lot better at choosing the best attire to stay warm/cool in the right/wrong temperatures. Recent commutes have had me in shorts and a t-shirt. But today's was a long pants, light gloves and jacket kind of day.

I told Justin and Neil (the other commuters today), that even when I dress poorly, I just recite the mantra in my head, "25 more mintes... 25 more minutes..." With a commute that's less than 30 minutes, no matter how uncomfortable I am, I only have to endure it for less than 25 more minutes. I can pretty much make it through anything for 25 minutes. It keeps me motivated and hopefully I only have to learn that lesson once (or twice :)).

Get out there.


Easter Ride

Yesterday, right before the sun went down, I headed out for 17 miles of Easter riding. I kid you not, I saw four rabbits on the ride. I can't tell you if I've ever seen a rabbit on a ride before. But they were out on Easter like crazy. Perhaps it's because I rarely go out at this time of day... or maybe they were hiding eggs. I'm not sure.
I took roads that I've never ridden before. They turned out to be great for riding. Lots of climbing (which was something I was actually after) and very little traffic. I'm thinking about doing a century ride this year. I want to start riding a little more without commuting gear and just try to build up the mileage. So I was experimenting with a short route. The roads were very similar to what I always see: black fences and stone fences. But it's all beautiful. And my bike feels like it flies without laptop and commuting stuff on the rack. So I had a blast.
And for the sake of full disclosure, here is a shot of the ugly parts of my town :)

Get out there.


Pretty Amazing

Here's a new video circling the world of bike commuters. It's doesn't make you want to bike commute but it does show you some good ol' fashioned coincidental justice.

A juvenile driver hits a cyclist and tries to flee the scene. A bus driver saw the accident in their rearview mirror and blocks the culprit in. Moments later, a cop just happens to be driving by the downed cyclist. Awesome.

It looks like the rider is okay, thankfully, and it's great to know that this person was caught.

Get out there... but be careful.


You May Already Have a Road Bike

Fairly often, I have friends who want a "road" bike they can use for commuting or recreational riding. And almost as often, those people eventual reveal the fact that they have an old mountain bike in their garage. For those who want to enter the world of riding-on-the-road, I just make one suggestion: Put slick tires on your mountain bike.
Yesterday morning I switched out these knobby tires on a friend's bike to some nice slick, cruiser tires. Her hot pink ride instantly went front slow and rumbly to quick and smooth. Higher tire pressure and smoother tread will help a great deal. And the gearing on a mountain bike isn't different enough for a new cyclist to make a difference. And to be honest, I would put most riders on a mountain bike for the riding geometry, comfort and steering control, anyway.

Don't think that you need those drop bars and tiny tires to ride on the road. Your solution may be hanging in your garage, waiting to be adapted. For the cost of slick tires, you can get a great road experience for very little investment. If you love it and want to go a bit faster, then you can start looking at those carbon fibre Lance Armstrong bikes :)

Get out there.


Lunch Group

Four fellas headed out over lunch for a 10-miler and picnic yesterday. Word on the street is that these guys want to start riding during lunch more regularly. I'm always up for extra mileage and some picnic action.
We found a good dead end gravel road to stop for lunch.
Not a bad use of a lunch hour.

Get out there.


A One Sided Argument

One of the most common questions I get when I roll into the parking lot is, "Wow, isn't it hard to balance with only one saddle bag?" (People always call my panniers saddle bags. I'm guessing that's not technically incorrect. It just sounds funny to me. But I'm getting at the "lopsided" part of the comment.) I almost always have just one bag. It keeps me from throwing unnecessary items in and adding weight.

Riding with one pannier doesn't change the feel or balance of riding at all. Often times, I have the pannier full of gear, laptop and clothes and my riding is never affected. When I'm pedaling or standing at a stoplight with the bike between my legs, everything balances just fine.

The only caveat to having one loaded pannier is when I'm walking the bike through the building. With my hands on the bars and all the weight in the back (without straddling the bike), it does tend to sweep out to the side. I've got to be a little more cautious, but it isn't really an issue at all.

So if you're running panniers for the sake of plurality, try sitting one aside. There's no reason to use two if you don't need the cargo capacity. It seems like a simple thing, but lots of people (me included) have a tendency to use two even with out a real need. And using one at a time will cause less wear and tear to your set. You'll have a lighter load and longer lasting panniers if you go with the one sided argument.

Get out there.


Backpacks vs. Racks

I need to put a rack on this thing! When I put the weekend's worth of stuff, a laptop and today's clothes in the backpack, it became more than I want to handle. Maybe it makes sense for some people to carry stuff on their back. But if you're doing it because you think it's "good enough," I'd challenge you to try a rear rack and panniers. A backpack makes my back sore and it's a lot more sweaty than running a pannier set-up.

You can find this stuff cheap online and it makes commuting so much nicer. I have a buddy who runs these panniers and I use this rack. For $65 you can have a lot of cargo capacity and get everything off of your back. It may seem like a pricey leap, but once gas prices begin to get up there, it's negligible if it keeps you commuting more. When I think about building a bike, a rack is a non-negotiable. You won't regret it.

But for the sake of debate, anyone out there commuting regularly with a backpack who prefers it over a rack? I'd love to know why, if so.

Get out there.