Friday, November 13, 2015

Autumn - the best time for bicycling in Boise? (!!)

We are fortunate to have weather that's suitable for bicycling - even for casual cyclists - probably 9 months of the year.  But every year, I'm reminded of how lovely it is to ride a bike in autumn in Boise!  The days are generally still warm and sunny... the trees do their magical transformation... and I s'pose the lighter traffic also contributes.  (What's with the people who put their bikes away for the year, on Labor Day?!)

This year was particularly amazing - we didn't have frost until November!  And so the perfect conditions have persisted a few weeks longer than normal.

Today I went on a bike ride with granddaughter Bonnie.  Lovely scenery... plus encounters with lots of squirrels, geese and ducks... giraffes (! - looking over the fence at the zoo)... and Bambis grazing at the park.  A fine time was had by all.

She'll have outgrown the baby seat by next season... better bust out the tag-a-long, I guess...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Reached THE MAX? That would be nice!!

Last month, a fine young boy named Max Wyatt was riding his bike with his dad (in my neighborhood!) when he was struck down in a collision with a woman driving a minivan.  Details are still sketchy and the investigation ongoing, but based on all accounts, Max and his dad were doing everything right.  Poor Max was dragged down the street a ways, and bystanders rescued him from underneath the car.  He was flown to a children's hospital in Salt Lake City, and (thank goodness!) seems to be on the mend - albeit very slowly.  We all hope and pray that he has a complete recovery.

Friends of the Wyatt family have started a campaign to raise funds for his care... and Jimmy Hallyburton, founder of the Boise Bicycle Project, is also doing what he can (as always) to raise awareness about bicycle safety.  (He's also good friends with the Wyatt family, raising his stake in this particular drama.)

Jimmy is encouraging people to make a bracelet out of a bike spoke as an awareness symbol.  But more than that... he's put together a public safety meeting that will hopefully involve concerned citizens as well as local policymakers, scheduled for Wednesday 10/6 at 6pm, in the Rose Room.  (I hope that's correct info!  I'm gathering this off Jimmy's Facebook postings, and I'm not a Facebook power user!!)

Schedule of events:
6pm - Bracelet Making
6:30pm - Meeting Begins, Max and The Max campaign
6:45pm - Information and opportunities for involvement in the Treasure Valley’s bicycle and pedestrian organizations
7:15pm- New technologies, methods, and ideas for change
7:30pm- Public comment, ideas, input and concerns
7:55pm- Next Steps in the Max Campaign
8pm- Meeting Conclusion

(Jimmy also has an audience with Governor Otter on October 14.  I've gotta hand it to the guy - he's totally dedicated to making a difference!)

What more can be done, to make our streets safer for cyclists?  (Other than separating bike traffic from motor traffic, and that will NEVER happen comprehensively.)

I happen to know the lady who was driving the minivan.  She's devastated.  She has kids of her own, including a little girl about Max's age, and they ride bikes.  She's a very conscientious person.  She doesn't even own an electronic handheld gizmo, so she wasn't distracted by her texting or yappin' on the phone (like so many people these days).  I'm sure she'd gladly trade places with Max in the hospital room, if she could.  She says she can't remember much of anything leading up to the tragic moment... I s'pose shock will do that to ya.  I'm NOT excusing her; she was almost surely responsible for what happened.  But it makes me realize that one or two seconds of inattentiveness while driving can affect lives in a profound way.  How do we get motorists to truly appreciate how critical it is, that they focus on their driving, in our A-D-D day and age?!!!

Also... how can we make cyclists appreciate how critical it is for them to be legal, visible, aware, and "defensive"?  Max and his dad were probably doing everything right, but just the same, they flew under the driver's "radar."  It's horrible!  I see Bozos on Bike every day, who are riding illegally and downright dangerously, apparently trusting good luck and the attentiveness/skill of the Motoring Public.  (NOT a good place to lay your life on the line, seems to me.)

I'm not sure there is an answer, other than vigorous enforcement of laws, and a dedicated campaign of education.  I'm vitally interested in bicycle safety, and look forward to what emerges from the meeting.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ridin' buddies

Pardon me while I go all proud-grampa on you.  Here are some photos of my three beautiful granddaughters, with their buckets on.

Bonnie, 2, is on the left.  She's got an awesome lady bug bucket, and as soon as I put it on, she wanted to go for a bike ride.  (She rides in a seat in front of me on the "beater bike," but has just about outgrown the seat.  She went almost 400 miles with me last year, and we're over 300 together this year.)
Mackenzie, 8, has been riding bikes as rider or passenger since before she was a year old.  Back in '11, she and I did one of the most enjoyable projects of my life - we rode to 92 playgrounds around Boise over the summer!  She rides her own 24-inch pink bike these days... and it's a bit harder for me to get her to go; pedaling your own bike is harder than riding the tag-a-long!  And... as she gets older she has more interests competing for her attention.
And Maren, 7 months, is visiting from far-off Providence.  It's going to be more of a challenge to ride bikes with her, but we'll figure something out.

Friday, September 25, 2015

September Update

So, it's come to this.  I've gone pretty much the whole month without posting a word.  Pathetic!  This is an attempt to make slight amends.

It's been a great bicycling month!  On Labor Day (September 7), my friends A.J., Larry, and Linda drove to northern Idaho with me, and I acted as tour guide on a Tour de Coeur d'Alene (Trail) and the Route of the Hiawatha.

We drove on September 7.  We rode 50 miles on September 8, from Plummer to Pinehurst on the Coeur d'Alene Trail.  We camped.  We rode 50 miles on September 9, from Pinehurst on up to the end of the trail in Mullan, and back.  We camped again.  We took our side trip to the Hiawatha on September 10... rode from the bottom to the top, and back again.  30 miles.  And camped again.  We rode 50 miles from Pinehurst back to our starting point in Plummer on September 11.  We drove home on September 12.  (Well, A.J. and I drove on home; Larry and Linda headed for the Seattle area to visit relatives.)

Those are just the statistics... and they can't convey what a blissful experience it is, to ride on those particular paths.  Pictures do better than words...

More photos can be seen HERE.

It was somewhat of a "leap of faith" for me... I'd never ridden one bicycle mile with any of 'em.  But we've been discussing it, and training individually, for most of the year.  And they didn't let me down!  They were all up to the challenge and not only completed each day's planned riding, but remained cheerful both during the riding, which was pretty much all day long, and when the riding was over.  Great company!  And they went right along with my budget travel practices... camping and such.

So - I crossed those rides off my "bucket list" - again!  And added 'em back on again.  This is something I'll hope to do every few years, for as long as I am able.  (My previous adventure up that way was in September '12 - read about it HERE.  This one was far different, on account of the company, and their interests.  We stopped and read pretty much every interpretive sign along the way, and learned a lot about the history of the routes and the area in general.  Fascinating stuff.  Back in '12, either those signs weren't there, or I just rode on by, oblivious.  Next time, it'll be different once again.  I hope I can finagle some family members into going with me... we shall see.)

Other September happenings... 2015 became my 29th consecutive year riding 4000+ miles.  And this month marks 18 years since I last drove a car to work.  The pressure's on!  I can't let either streak slip away now.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Helping hand for maintenance/repair

I'm cautiously optimistic about an accessory I just invested in.  It's called the BikeHand - a wall-mount bike work clamp.  59 bucks on the

Yeah, it would be nice to have one of those super-sweet Park stands... but at $150 up, they're a bit rich for my blood.  And - I'd never use one frequently enough to justify the expense.  The BikeHand seems like it will be an acceptable substitute for the shade-tree mechanic.

It was designed to mount on the wall, but I had other plans.  I attached it to an 8-by-10-inch piece of scrap plywood with two 5/16 x 1.5 inch bolts, and clamp it into my Jawhorse (another nice piece of equipment, by the way).  When it's not in use, it and the board don't take up nearly as much space as a floor-standing model.

I used it yesterday while fine-adjusting my rear derailleur, and while I was at it I put some new brake pads on the front.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Another Tour de Fat in the books

My two local granddaughters, Mackenzie and Bonnie, joined me once again to ride in the Tour de Fat Parade on Saturday, August 15th.  We crossed paths with friends, and a good time seemed to be had by all.  (How not?  A lovely day - a delightful activity - and boisterous but not TOO crazy participants.  The "official estimate" put the rider count at about 11,000 this year.  Fantastic!  That's a LOT of bikes and bike riders!  If I'm not mistaken, people are still leaving the staging area as the first-out riders are getting back, making it a full circle.)

Besides the fun, the event raised right around $450,000 (!!) for the local bike-oriented nonprofits.  Way to go everybody - especially the army of dedicated volunteers who work behind the scenes to make it happen.  (Yeah, not everybody just magically shows up on Saturday morning, nor does the event magically transpire.)

CLARIFICATION: The $450K figure (which I got off the Boise Bicycle Project website) is the grand total for all the Boise Tours over the years... approximately $45K was raised this time around.  (Thanks, Clancy, for your diligence in keeping things straight.)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Extreme pavement makeover

We are deep into chip-seal season again, here in Ada County.  And it's official - they've put gravel down on every road that I ride.  (Well, not really, but it sure seems like it.)

The chip-seal is a surface coating for area roads, that's more economical than other options.  First they prep the road by sealing cracks, etc., and sweeping it.  Then they lay down a thick coating of sticky, gooey stuff, and drop gravel on it.  Then they turn traffic loose on it for a week or two.  The gooey stuff hardens with the gravel - "chips" - glued into place.  It's kinda like peanut brittle for pavement.  Once it's set up, they sweep off the excess gravel, and put another surface coating of the gooey stuff on.  Generally, that keeps the road in pretty good shape for seven years or so, when they repeat the process.

Obviously, us skinny-tire cyclists would prefer glass-smooth asphalt.  But us taxpayers appreciate the notion of going the least-expensive route.  And once the process is completed, the finished product is tolerable.  In fact, it's pretty good on the roads that are designated as "bike routes," because they use small-caliper 1/4" gravel, which makes for a smooth surface.

I may have discovered an experimental treatment.  In between the gravel and the final coating, lay down a squirrel here and there, for an even smoother final product!  (Noticed and snapped right at the end of my street.)  But based on early wear, I don't think the squirrel will prove to be durable.