Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A little taste ...

... of what I'm missing, by using a bicycle for my daily transportation.

I probably spent more than you did on Black Friday. I upgraded the Missus' transportation.

Her 2000 Honda minivan was getting pretty long in the tooth, at 134,000 miles. We bought it brand-new, and it's been a good vehicle... and it still runs fine, but the nickel-and-dime problems were starting to crop up. (You know, the stuff that costs $100-500 to get fixed.) We traded it for a 2009 Honda minivan with about 100,000 fewer miles. $16,500. (For comparison purposes, the old one was about $23k brand-new, and a brand-new 2012 is well over $35k. OUCH!!)

I'll be paying about $300/month for the next 4 years to the bank.

Sales tax was $800-plus.

Insurance is about $70 per year more than before. (Not as bad as I'd anticipated.)

License and registration - $91.

Hopefully she'll drive many, many miles before I need to buy her new tires, or do repairs other than routine maintenance. And I'm slightly insulated from the cost of gas, since I give her money on payday, and am rarely there on the fill-up days.

If we had a second car, most of those expenses would be roughly doubled. "Mamma mia!" as they say in the Olde Countrie.

My #2 reason for bike transportation has been powerfully reinforced in my mind. (I should have more respect for those motorists - they pay a LOT of money to drive around in their little runabouts!)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"New" Temple - same old bike rack

When the Boise, Idaho (LDS) Temple was first dedicated in May, 1984, my bride and I were there.  (In fact, our second daughter Kellyn was there too - she was born a week or so later.)  So we were full of excitement when they announced a major renovation a couple years ago.

The renovation has been completed.  The main difference on the outside is that the gray marble tiles were replaced with white granite... it's lovely!  (The inside was completely renovated, as well - photos of the interior can be seen HERE.)

I got to serve as an usher on a couple evenings during the recent Open House.  (And I could kick myself for not extending a personal invitation to my local friends!  So sorry.)

Saturday was rather dreary and wet, but I ventured by to see if the bike parking situation had changed.  (When the bride and I attend temple sessions together, we drive in her car... but when I go alone I almost always bicycle out there.  It's about a 5-mile round trip.)  Bike parking has NOT changed - one rack.  And I've never seen a bike attached to it, other than my own.




Saturday, November 24, 2012

BIG Bicycle bargain - at Walmart!

Okay, this is a weird thing... I'm "recommending" a bicycle that can be bought at Walmart!  (Maybe recommending isn't the right word - more like making you aware, should you be interested...)

I first spotted the "Genesis" cruiser bike when I was strolling through my local Walmart.  (If memory serves, I diverted over to the bike department looking for 20-inch white tires for Princess Mackie's bike.  I don't spend a lot of time in the Walmart Bike Department.)  The Genesis caught my eye immediately - it was the 32-inch wheels that did it.

A bike with 32-inch wheels is a freak of nature.  And definitely a novelty... the 29er riders would be green with envy!

The Genesis is likely similar to other department-store bikes in build quality... but it is made of aluminum, and looks sturdy enough.  Shipping weight is listed at 40 pounds, so the bike probably weighs 30-odd pounds, ready to roll.  Other than the size, it's pretty much standard-issue classic cruiser - single-speed, coaster brake, rototiller handlebars, fenders, big fat saddle.

Well... a couple days ago at my local Wally-World, I again noticed the giant beach cruiser, and it was clearance-priced at $125!  I was sorely tempted!  It comes in several colors, including bright green and bright orange, my two favorites of the ones I've seen.

Maybe I need to ask Santa to bring me one.  (It would not be the first time I asked Santa for a bike.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012


"How's it going?"

It's a question that is often thrown out casually, often even by total strangers in passing.

I have an aunt who was famous for replying, "I'm in constant pain."  And then if you didn't somehow cut off the conversation, she was happy to explain in detail the sources of her constant pain.

How's it going?

Personally... I'm disturbed by many things that I have little or no control over.  Our huge national debt and the implications it has for our economic future.  The unemployment rate.  (I'm gainfully employed, but there are no guarantees, and I'd sure hate to be looking for work in November, 2012.)  Strife and hate.  The direction our society seems to be going in.  Etc., etc.

However... I'm quite happy with the situation that I do have control over.

I s'pose I'm "in constant pain."  But it's just the low-grade pain associated with a 59-year-old carcass, sometimes more severe but mostly not.  Certainly not debilitating.  I don't focus on it, and I've never felt inclined to share my misery.

I live in a place with a nice environment.  Peaceful and stable.  Mercifully low crime rate.  Natural disasters seem to mostly bypass us.  Comfortable house, that I can afford the payments on.  Ample recreational opportunities.

Awesome family, both immediate and extended.  Good-hearted, faithful, supportive wife.  Kids who are assets to society, rather than liabilities.

From the "bike nazi" viewpoint... a bicycle I'm happy with.  Tires that give me lots of trouble-free miles.  Living close enough to work and other destinations that it's mostly easy to ride.  Moderate weather, predictable and mild wind.

Just this week, as I rode to work the air was brisk, and the sunrises were lovely.  As I rode home yesterday (taking "the scenic route" along the river), I got to watch maybe 300 Canada geese take to the air in unison, honking enthusiastically as they headed straight for the low-hanging sun.  As far as I know, only me and one other guy on a bike were blessed to witness it.  (Geese are rather pesky on the ground... but they sure are magnificent in the air, or on the water!)


Yeah, it's going mighty fine for the Bike Nazi!  I hope for you, too!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why motorists don't see you

Far too often, following a collision between an automobile and a bicycle (or motorcycle), the motorist laments, "I didn't even see him!"

Such a tragedy may be caused because the motorist isn't paying attention to his primary responsibility.  It's called inattentive driving... it's against the law, but rarely does the inattentive driver get cited.  Now more than ever, motorists make the deliberate decision to distract themselves with their electronic gadgets, lunch, cool car gizmos, etc.

However, even when the motorist is paying attention, it's far too easy for a small "target" like a bike rider or motorcycle rider to be overlooked.

Clancy sent me this very interesting article.  John Sullivan is a Royal Air Force pilot, a cyclist, and a crash investigator.  He points out some interesting things about human vision.

1) To see detail, we have to be looking directly at something.  "A mere 20 degrees away from your sightline, your visual acuity is about 1/10th of what it is at the centre."

2) When you move your head and/or eyes to scan a scene, your eyes don't move smoothly... they move in a series of quick jumps, and only when they briefly pause, is an image processed and sent to the brain.

Try it for yourself!  The article provides some experiments that will confirm his findings.

The author also provides these tips for the bicyclist/motorcyclist to be seen, and to survive:

1) Recognize the risk.  "High contrast clothing and lights help. In particular, flashing LED’s (front and rear) are especially effective for cyclists as they create contrast and the on-off flashing attracts the peripheral vision in the same manner that movement does. There’s nothing wrong with leaving these on during the day."

2) At intersections, look at the head of the driver that is approaching or has stopped. The head of the driver will naturally stop and centre upon you if you have been seen. If the driver’s head sweeps through you without pausing, assume that you have not been seen and expect the driver to pull out!

3) Recognize that a low sun, or a dirty or rain-covered window will decrease driver visibility even further.

4) Ride in a position farther out from the curb, because the driver is more likely to look directly at that location.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Goat attacks bike-riding paper boy

I've been chased on numerous occasions by dogs.  (And on many of those occasions, I've ended up chasing the dog... if a canine comes chasing after me, he better be prepared to back up that bark!)

But I've never been chased by a goat!

From the Deseret News:

Smithfield paperboy chased up tree by feisty goat

A 14-year-old Utah paperboy says a goat knocked him to the ground and chased him up a tree during his morning route.

Smithfield resident Jaxon Gessel says he was delivering papers Tuesday morning when a goat approached him from the side and head-butted him off his bike.

Gessel tells the Herald Journal of Logan the goat kept nipping at him and forced him up a tree.

The teen says the hour-long standoff ended when the goat started chasing girls passing by. Gessel says he jumped from the tree and grabbed the goat's collar to help them.

Smithfield police say they got a call from Gessel's parents reporting he was overdue, and from residents reporting a boy struggling with a goat.

The goat was impounded by Smithfield animal control officers.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bargain Saddle

Are you in need of a replacement saddle, or one that's kinder to your back end?  If so, Selle Anatomica is offering their original "Titanico" for $99, through the end of 2012.  The MSRP is $190.

This seat came as standard equipment on my Cannondale touring bicycle, and was immediately my favorite seat ever.

The Anatomica is similar to the more-famous Brooks saddle in that it's a thick leather seat suspended hammock-like on the frame.  It has some additional design features that supposedly make it even more butt-friendly, specifically the distinctive "slot" that lets each side flex more independently as you pedal along.

I wrote about it, and saddles in general, HERE.

Much to my chagrin, the original Anatomica saddle broke!  I wrote about that setback HERE.  To the company's credit, they replaced the original saddle with a spankin' new one, even though I had slightly passed the 1-year warranty period.  And the replacement is still going strong, 20 months and almost 11,000 miles later.  At this point, I'm convinced that my problem was a freak "defect in materials."  (The lady at the company said they had several that broke - she speculated they must've gotten an inferior batch of steel that they used to form the rails.)

The Titanico and Titanico X (for riders 190-280 pounds) are both available at the sale price, in Mahogany (brown), Graphite (gray), Red, White, or Pink.  (Pink!  Sweeeeeeet!)  I'll be ordering one before the end of the year.  I've got an old beater mountain bike - primarily my really bad-weather ride - and when I perch on its conventional saddle, it feels like sitting on a post.  ($100 saddle on a $50 bike... nice!)

Friday, November 9, 2012

"Real Bikers"

A fella who identifies himself as Jim Peterson writes a colorful and perhaps inflammatory letter to Boise Weekly. He's mocking the "toy bike" riders who hang up their bikes when the weather starts turning bad.

"You guys don't ride in the snow. You don't ride in the rain, either. Heck, you don't even ride when there's rain in the forecast. ... You are the nancy boys and the girlie girls of the cycling world."

Mr. Peterson is pretty self-satisfied because he rides all year round, using his ski apparel rather than bicycle apparel, and on his "real" bike (steel-framed hardtail mountain bike is the way to go).

Weirdly, his letter says he'll be 59 by the end of October. Weird because I turned 59 near the end of October! Golly! He and I share much in common!

I join with him in poking a little fun at the nancy boys and girlie girls! Haha! But I think he's being a little shallow to suggest that only real men ride the same kind of bike as he does, or wear the same type of gear.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Old campaign signs = fenders!

"Our long national nightmare is over." (- Gerald R. Ford)  Breathe a sigh of relief or resignation - the eternal campaign of 2012 is in the books.  Personally, it's resignation for me... I don't think we can afford another 4 years of "hope and change."  But the opposition was pretty weak, too.  We'll keep on rollin' and see how things turn out, I guess.

Hopefully all those roadside campaign signs will start disappearing.

Maybe you can make some of 'em disappear - and turn 'em into fenders, like Kent Peterson.  Pretty clever stuff - quite effective and very cheap!  He provides detailed instructions HERE.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Autumn splendor '12

There are places that are more famous for their displays of fall foliage, but we usually have it pretty nice right here in Boise, Idaho.  Last Saturday, and again on Sunday, I was fortunate to spend some quality time in search of spectacular scenery.

Saturday (starting at Ann Morrison Park, going upstream on the north side of the river to Barber Park, and back down on the south side of the river)...





More photos can be seen in a set HERE.

Sunday, I took Princess Mackie and we rode downstream in Garden City.  In the first two photos, she's trying to wake up bugs that are sleeping in their holes, using the stem of a leaf.  (Just in case you can't figure it out!  haha)




Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cycling beyond the edge of civilization

Super-Storm Sandy has turned New York City into a temporary wilderness, virtually impossible to enter using traditional means (car, train, subway, airplane). This story on the Bloomberg.com website has some good advice - take a bike!

Writer Tom Randall: "Commuters are filling bike lanes in greater numbers than usual this morning. Staring out the window of an idling car, I wished I were one of them. The sun is shining and the streets are full of optimism. Don’t forget your helmet."

Farther away... across the sea in Bangladesh... the San Francisco Chronicle reports that dozens of "Info Ladies" ride their bicycles to remote villages, with notebook computers and internet connections, and help people connect to the outside world. The women get training and a job, and they are providing a valuable service. (Some communications are free; others, like Skype, cost a reasonable $2.40 per hour.) What's not to like?

As of right now, there are 60 "Info Ladies," but it's so popular that by 2016 they estimate they might have 15,000!

Photo from the SF Chronicle story.

(Let's pause and feel gratitude, for living in a place where info and everything else we might need are so available and abundant!)