Friday, March 31, 2006

Total for March

This month's total is 38.2 miles - more than double the same month last year.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I Talked Her Into It

The weather was nice, and the house was kid free, so my wife and I took a quick ride. We cycled west on Divsion Road and went north, then south on 350S. Coming back to Division, we went home. It was her first ride of the year.

Miles Ridden: 2.3 (according to Gmaps Pedometer)

First Excuse

It's only March, and I'’m already making excuses why I can't ride to work! And today is the best weather day so far this year. Pathetic!!

I'll list my reasons here, and you can judge for yourself:
  • I need to take my dress shirts to the cleaners (which means I'll have to pick them up on Monday).
  • My daughter is going to a movie with a friend, and I want to get home quickly to be there when they are dropped off.
  • I have a meeting at 2:00 off campus, and then a 3:00 on campus.
  • I want to head across the river for lunch, and on the bike I wouldn't have time to get back for my 1:00 meeting (also off campus).

Except for the first one, I could have found ways around the problems (rescheduling meetings, skipping meetings, flex-time work day -– notice I'm not thinking about skipping lunch). The shirt thing is a bit of a show stopper - mostly because I can't carry the dirty shirts, plus my ride home clothes, on a bike with no racks or baskets. I guess I could make a separate trip into town just for that reason, but doesn'’t seem to be very efficient.

Miles Ridden: 0

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Special Ride

As I threatened yesterday, I rode the just purchased Specialized into work today. I wasn't a great ride, but as always, I still felt good when I got in.

SR 26 Inbound
The shoulder on SR26 becomes my bike lane

The bike is the Hard Rock model. I don't know where it fits in the Specialized line, but I'm guessing towards the bottom. It was pretty comfortable, and rode OK, but it took a little getting used to. The handling was different than I'm accustomed to on the TREK, and I'm thinking that the handlebars may be a little shorter. Also, the weird double lever shifters are awkward. The worst part is that the front brakes are out of adjustment and provided absolutely NO stopping power. There's my next home repair job.

Custom Painting
I can't imagine why someone would advertise a painting company with a sign painted this badly

Since this ride has no racks, I had to eschew the panniers for a canvas attache style bag. I've never liked biking with these because it makes breathing more difficult with the strap across my shoulder and chest. Tomorrow, I may try my son's backpack.

I came home on the South Work Route after a harrowing trip down the hill on Williams street. I was squeezing the hell out of the rear brake level so that I wouldn't go screaming down the hill and into the middle of River Road/US 231.

Miles Ridden: 8.5 (estimated)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Changing Tires


It's true that I don't have much experience or aptitude in mechanical matters. My auto service is done at a shop, and the same goes for the bike. However, I thought it would be easy to change my tires.

I switched from my Pirelli "Mid Towner" slicks to a pair of Michelin "Wild Grabber" tires. The Michelin's have a hash mark style tread that grabs pavement well without giving a bumpy ride.

I had never before used the tire levers I bought a few years ago, and I found they work much better than the pair of screwdrivers I used in my youth. What I found odd was the tubes were stuck to the tires. I had planned on using new tubes anyway, but I'm guessing the old ones are shot. I got the front tire with new tube on the wheel and took it out to the van to pump it up. As the pressure went up, I noticed markings indicating that this tire is designed to spin a certain way. Who knew?? Of course, I had it on the wrong way. It didn't take to long to switch it around and reinflate.

After changing the front tire twice, the rear wheel went quickly. Unfortunately, I found that the cause of my wobbly rear wheel is a broken spoke. I wanted to try out the new tires, but I didn't feel safe riding on that wheel. (Sure, I've been using it for two months, but I didn't know then!)

I packed the bike into the van and took it down to the bike shop for a spring tune up. The guy asked me if I needed it back right away. I joked that I could wait until tomorrow, and he gave me a very serious look of surprise. It was going to be 10 days. 10 days! I gave the bike a quick hug and left.

On the way home, I stopped to visit a friend that had a used Specialized bike for sale. It is an entry level mountain bike with just a little rust on the components, and I picked it up for my son. However, it may be my bike for the next 10 days.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I'm Impressed By ...

... the old biking lady.

I saw her today on the sidewalk, waiting for a bus to turn left. The driver was stopped, and had beeped the horn to indicate that she should cross the street, but she decided to wait and waved him on.

Her bike looked to be about 40 years old - an old Schwinn with a basket and huge fenders. She looked to be almost twice as old - late 60s or early 70s.

She was on the sidewalk and on the wrong side of the road, but I still give her kudos for riding at her age.

After the bus turned left, she crossed in the crosswalk and continued down the sidewalk.

I'm Impressed By ...

... the West Lafayette wheelchair guy.

I've seen him around every summer for the past five years I've lived and worked here. He looks to be in his late 50's - barrel chested with a bit of a gut - gray hair in a buzz cut - missing a leg.

He seems to be piloting his wheelchair around town and campus for exercise. I've seen him going up hill, down hill, around the Union, across the Parkway, all over.

He must do 20-30 miles a week. I wonder what he could do with one of those racing wheelchairs one sees at marathons.

wheelchair racing

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

All Riled Up

I was feeling pretty calm this morning, until I read an article linked to by Cycle Dog. In this Opinion column in the DCist, the author discusses his right to all of the privileges of an automobile on the roads, and his right to ignore all of the laws governing the operation of automobiles when his mood dictates. This is followed by many, mostly angry comments.

I'll say up front that I have run a few stop signs and red lights in my day. However, I don't feel that I was right to do so, and I do it much less now than I used to. (I still have trouble at intersections where the lights are controlled by sensors. It seems that I don't trigger them, so after a while, I just go.)

If we want bicycles to be accepted as rightful users of the road, we have to follow all of the rules AND be cautious and courteous at all times. It only takes one self-absorbed rider to give the wrong impression that the rest of us have to live with. (And the bike delivery boys from Jimmy John's are pissing off enough drivers for all of us!)

My favorite quote from the comments is:

My question is, how should drivers react to someone on a bike who wants to take up a whole lane, but is going 10mph down say Key Bridge or Wisconsin Ave during rush hour?

I'd like to direct the commenter to this post.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Quick Errand

I took a ride up to the Evil Empire to get trash bags and food for supper. As usual, I took the long way. The weather was perfect.

So, I'm sitting at a red light, and there is no traffic coming in any direction for quite a while (close to 45 seconds!), and there's no way my bike is going to trigger the light change sensor, so I decide to make a left on red. Why is it that just then an SUV comes barreling around the curve?

Miles Ridden: 13.8

Drivers Don't Want to Kill You

Surfing around today, I came upon the BikingToronto site and his 8 Secrets to Cycling in Traffic. The first 5 are published so far, and they are rules that every cyclist should follow.

BONUS: As I wandered through the site, I found that BT had linked to me earlier. Thanks, Joe!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Back on the Avenue

The weather man was reporting much rain today, so I didn't think much about riding. As the morning went on, the sun came out and the menacing blob of green and yellow on the radar had dissipated. I went to the hardware store and bought some cleaning supplies: brush, sponges, and bucket.

You all remember my dirty bike from January. Well, I finally cleaned it today. Under all of that mud and grime is a pretty nice bike. Although, it is starting to show its age with a fair number of scratches and paint marks (from the pole in the garage where it leans).

Anyway, as the weather still looked good at 3:00, I stopped at the bike shop for some new pedals. I broke the right pedal about 2 years ago, and I'm just now fixing it. Regular maintenance just isn't my thing! The new ones are normal sized BMX, not the big platforms I had before.

Broken Pedal

Still no rain at 3:45, so I decided to hit the road.

I started out on the Wabash Avenue Route with a quick detour up and down the Tippecanoe County Parking Garage. The view was pretty nice.

View from the Garage
View from the Garage

After crossing the river, I abandoned the route and instead wheeled over to the Wabash 9 Theatre where my wife was about to pick up my son after a movie. While I was inside fetching him, a couple of skateboard boys purposefully knocked over my bike. My wife jumped out and yelled at them. When she told me about it, I pointed at them saying "Those guys?" They must have seen me, because they were long gone or hiding when I rounded the corner looking for them.

Upside Down Cake on the Avenue
Upside Down Cake on the Avenue

I took State Street up the hill and through campus, and on home on Newman Road.

Miles Ridden: 13.6

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Worst Month of the Year

I've seen several blog posts lately spouting the benefits of commuting by bike, including one using reverse psychology, but it's tough to get too fired up about it when the weather is so crappy.

Those in the warmer climates are already getting back into the season, while those of us in Indiana wait for the cold, wind, and rain to stop. Just the rain is enough to stop me, but any two out of that list is killer.

Today, I had to walk to and from the parking garage several times, and I got wet despite the umbrella. There's no way I could use the bike during or after a rain storm and still pull off my middle manager look at work. If I dressed down or was able to pack my work clothes in a pannier I'd be fine. I'm thinking of converting a cabinet in my office to a small clothes closet. All of the office furniture is new in my building, so the powers may get a little upset.

Anyway, I hope conditions improve soon.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Can You See Me Now?

It's pretty quiet here at the DanOnBike blog, since the weather seems to be keeping me indoors. However, I'm not totally away from biking since I'm planning for the upcoming season.

I'm going to take the bike in this week for a spring tune-up to take care of some ongoing problems. This may be the year where I get a new cassette. Also, the back wheel has a wobble in it.

Reelight Electodynamic BikelightsSince Indiana will be observing Daylight Saving Time for the first time in over 30 years, and my morning rides will be darker than years past, I'm looking at some new equipment. Today I ordered a set of Electrodynamic Bikelights from Reelight in Denmark. The cost was 43,95€€ (I have no idea what that is in US dollars.) I'll give a review once they are installed.

Next on the list is a reflective vest.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Checkout Stormcrowe's Article. I'm feeling very smug about my commuting, and I probably won't ride to work for another two weeks!