Thursday, September 29, 2011

Flat tire!

I finally got a flat tire! On September 26. Cause - undetermined. The hole was there, but no evidence as to what caused it.

My most recent flat was on June 6. 3 1/2 months and 2251 miles ago.

A testament to the tires I'm rolling on - Vittoria Randonneurs.

Last year, between June 6 and September 26 - 8 flats. 2009 - 6 flats. 2008 - 7 flats. Yep, the tires are the difference. (I know what you're thinkin'. This guy keeps track of his flat tires? What a freak! I'm just happy that they seem to be taking less of my attention lately! If I start only getting one flat every 3 or 4 months, I'll probably quit keeping track.)

Those tires are a little harder to mount than some others. And they may roll ever-so-slightly more harshly. But I've got a new undisputed-champion favorite tire.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Out-of-town ridin'

For several years I've dreamed of traveling to northern Idaho to ride the Coeur d'Alene Trail - 71 miles of paved rail-to-trail Nirvana. And early this year I penciled in the second week of September to finally make it happen. But alas - circumstances that have arisen have changed my plans. Next year we'll try again. (Early September is spoze to be the prime time, because the crowds have tapered off but perfect weather continues.)

So, to partially ease the pain, I instead took Thursday off, and rode a round-trip between Banks and Lowman. It's nothing spectacular, like the offering in northern Idaho, but it was pretty sweet. It, too, is another ride I've wanted to go on for years, and finally turned dream into reality.

It's 34 miles in each direction. Lowman is roughly 1000 feet higher than Banks. And there's a higher "summit" in between the two. But frankly, it's not a grueling ride by any stretch. The shoulders are generally adequate, and there are few places with really tight "blind" curves. I wouldn't recommend it on a busy weekend day, but it was pretty nice on a Thursday.

It's probably been 15 years since I last rode 68 miles in a day. The first half was cake. And the second half was tolerable... but by the time I was 20 miles or so from the finish, I was counting down the miles and looking forward to the finish line. It took a little over 5 hours of "saddle time" and about 6.5 hours on the clock.

The day was mercifully cool; in fact, precipitation sputtered a bit as I started the return leg... but just enough to be refreshing.

The thing I really noticed was how quiet it was. Sound always seems to carry in the forest, and in retrospect I believe it's an illusion... it just seems to carry because there's so much less background noise.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

With friends like these...

I was riding up the street this afternoon when a gal in a white convertible pulled out from a stop sign, into my path. It happens frequently enough that I always try to anticipate, and as I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting her, I also yelled out the customary "HEY!!!" - my horn substitute.

She slammed on her brakes - right in my path (as is frequently the case) - and I was able to change directions and pull around the front of her car.

Then she said something that kinda caught me off guard: "I didn't see you. I'm a bicyclist too!"

What? Am I somehow spoze to feel better about almost getting slammed into, if the person doing the slamming rides a bike from time to time?

Actually it distresses me if a fellow cyclist is so careless when driving. I was right where I should be on the roadway. I was wearing my hi-viz reflective vest. What else can I do?

Hopefully she rides more responsibly than she drives... or she wouldn't last long. (But on the other hand, if she bicycles irresponsibly, it's still highly unlikely she'll kill anybody. And careless motorists kill innocents all the time.)

(NOTE: When I post a comment like this, it's with mixed emotions. This is not in keeping with my mission of being an advocate for bicycling. But it is the reality of being a cyclist. Riding defensively and expecting the unexpected is a matter of survival. And every time I avoid an accident, I demonstrate that survival isn't so far-fetched.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Optical illusion

The days are getting shorter; lately as I ride in to the office the sun is very low on the eastern horizon and a lot of headlights are in use.* (Sigh. I like when the days are getting longer...)

This morning as I rode in the bike lane toward downtown, I saw a cyclist up ahead, in the bike lane. He had a steady-glowing red light. I assumed it to be a taillight, but was baffled because it seemed to be closing distance on me. And sure enough, by the time we were a block or so apart, I figured out what I was looking at. It was an adult male cyclist, wearing a helmet, riding up the wrong side of the street... with a red light clipped to the visor on the front of his helmet. We crossed, me in the bike lane, he in the parking area between the bike lane and the curb. (Sigh again...)

* I haven't started using the lights again yet, under normal circumstances. (Bob T swears by using lights all the time, even in the daytime... and there's doubtlessly some wisdom in that. Motorcycles are mandated to have always-going headlights because it enhances visibility and thus safety. I really oughtta switch to rechargeable batteries and go that route. But that's a different topic.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Car free? Not quite.

I've stated before that it would be difficult to function without at least occasional access to a motor vehicle. Most of us have the need to haul big stuff occasionally, and/or travel with passengers or as a passenger, and/or go on longer out-of-town trips.

When the Tour de Fat comes to town once a year, they challenge a participant to abandon the car and ride a bike exclusively (or at least mostly exclusively) for a year... and that participant gets the bike! This year there was a bit of a dust-up when Josh Gross of the Boise Weekly accused last year's cyclist convert - Lisa Brady - of breaking the rules. She defended herself quite well, and pointed out that car transportation isn't expressly prohibited. Hmmmm... various interpretations. The whole cantankerous debate can be seen HERE.

I decided to keep track of my own car-transportation ways for 12 months.

Over the course of a year - September 2010 thru August 2011 - I kept a journal of my car trips, both as a driver and as a passenger. And in that time I traveled by motor vehicle 50 times. (I may have omitted a trip or two from the journal, but that's my best effort to keep an accurate record.)
- Three of those were out-of-town family excursions - to the Oregon Coast, McCall, and Sumpter, Oregon.
- 20 were local trips, and I was a passenger.
- 23 were local trips when I drove and had passengers.
- One trip was to take the car for an emissions inspection. (Why me?!!?)
- Ten or so trips were to procure and transport large and/or heavy stuff. Three trips were to get Craigslist bicycles! One for the granddaughter, one for my son, and one for myself.
- I only went car-trippin' 2 times in April, and again in July.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bike thefts - up!

Thanks mostly to the harsh economy, I'm guessing, bike thefts are up this year, according to an article on the Idaho Statesman website.

May-July thefts this year: 223. Last year: 179.

The cops are advising people to lock their bikes securely. They say thieves unload 'em at second-hand stores or on the Craigslist. Which somewhat surprises me... when my sweet bike was stolen a couple years ago, I scoured the Craigslist for probably 3 months, watching for any sign of it.

Also noted is the free bike registration with the Boise Police. (Which prompted the comments - predictably - to become a debate about those freeloading bike riders who aren't paying their fair share. Some folks just aren't informed, and obviously enjoy their state of blissful ignorance.)

(Illustration grabbed from the "One Less Van" blog.)