Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Mister Visibility" follow-up

It's been six months or so since, following the example of Bob T, I upgraded my visibility quotient.

Those six months have made a believer out of me! It's totally comforting to glance down when I'm riding - particularly at the times of day when there's not much sunlight - and see that hi-viz stuff almost glowing-in-the-dark!

Here's the bottom line:
a) I optimistically assume that no motorist will deliberately run into a cyclist. (There are exceptions, but they are rare enough to be statistically irrelevant, I'm thinking.)
b) If a motorist fails to see you, all bets are off! That motorist might be impaired, or distracted. (S)he might be clicky-clickin' on a little keyboard nowadays, and only occasionally peeking up at the road. (That kind of driver is much more prevalent than the murderous psycho-driver.) So anything you can do to increase the chance that you get spotted is an absolutely good thing!

Before I "saw the light," I'd tend to wear "bright or light-colored clothes," because it's common sense. But I'm totally on board nowadays with 100% as-bright-as-possible. It might just be my imagination, but I sure feel like "close calls" are down significantly since I did the upgrade. (In the photo I'm modeling my everyday riding attire, at least this time of year - a hi-viz jacket, and a mesh ANSI vest on top, with big wide reflective strips and contrasting color strips.)

OH! And bright blinky lights, front and rear. Lights are good - bright clothes are good - both combined are good-plus!

I'm grateful to Bob for preachin' the word... and I'm grateful I had the common sense to pay heed.

Sweet bike parking

I'm fortunate to work in a "bike-friendly" building.

Since the bike room is at its emptiest (emptyest?) in the dead of winter, I snapped a photo this morning. This room is in the corner of a multi-story parking garage. It has access control with key cards, so only folks who signed up can open the door. The best feature is the abundant selection of parking spaces, ranging from staggered hooks on the walls (right), to vertical wheel holders (left), plus railings to secure "lawn chair bikes" (recumbents), etc. Thomas, who is one of the most creative people I know, custom-manufactured all of the racks after considerable planning and engineering. (I'm happy to say my bicycle was one of the "test models," so every space should fit my bike nicely.)

In the photo, it's hanging in its rightful spot - on the hook closest to the door!

IMO, new business construction should be required to provide secure parking, lockers and showers for bike commuters, wherever a certain number of people will work... maybe 50 would be a good starting point. (It makes good "business sense," too. Several potential tenants in the building where I work - folks like Microsoft - have stipulated very strongly that they would never consider a non-bike-friendly building.)

Anger issues?

I see way more angry motorists than cyclists. But this morning I witnessed what would seem, at least on the surface, to be a cyclist with issues.

I was riding to work, crossing Idaho Street on 15th northbound.

This guy was in the crosswalk. He had winter gear and a helmet on.

As I went by, he picked up his bike, swung it around his body like an Olympic hammer-thrower, and let it fly! WHAT THE??! It flew maybe 20 feet, and then went clattering and skidding across the pavement.

It looked to be a full-suspension "mountain" type bike, but I couldn't tell if it was a $79 Walmart or a $7900 handmade.

Who hasn't felt like "going caveman" from time to time? But sometimes you have to exercise restraint... and no problem has ever been made better by throwin' your bike, I'm guessin'.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I work with a small group of 14-17-year-old Varsity and Venturer Scouts.

Two of them, both 16, recently took their "driver education" and got their licenses.

On Wednesday, I noticed that both came to our meeting in their motor vehicles. One was driving his dad's pickup truck; the other had his new "personal ride" - a somewhat decrepit old Datsun 2-door sedan, "with stick shift." (I, of course, was on my bike. One of these two youths has been a regular cyclist for years, and both successfully completed our 50-mile bike ride, a couple years back.)

Shiny new driver's license? It brings back fond memories.

I got my driver's license at 14. Frankly, it's a little scary that somebody with such poor judgment could legally drive! (Of course, I had been driving for some time before that, too... occasionally with, but often without my parents' permission.)

The first day I had a real-life driver's license - in August - I groveled and talked Mom into letting me borrow the car, to go to the State Fair. I loaded a couple buddies in. I ran a red light. Unintentionally... and fortunately with no ill-effects other than a friend of my dad's saw it and called and told him. That was also the last day, for a month, that I drove. We stayed long at the Fair, and it was after dark before I got home. (Even back then, 14-year-old punks couldn't legally drive after dark. I got "grounded.")

Mircaulously, I never killed or injured anybody while driving... and survived myself, albeit with some scars and bent-up cars in my checkered past.

Ah... nostalgia.

What would I like to tell my young new-driver friends? (And every kid I see in a driver-training vehicle?)

Congratulations! You have a significant new privilege, which is also a huge ADULT responsibility. When you are driving, YOU and you alone are totally responsible for the safe operation of that vehicle. One bad decision, or one moment of inattention, and it can become a lethal weapon. You do not want to injure or kill another person with your vehicle!

One more thing.


Just kidding! Sorta...

BUT... just because you can now drive, does NOT in any way mean that motor-vehicle must now be your exclusive mode of transportation.

Don't make the mistake that so many folks in our society do, and totally abandon alternatives that might be much more practical and efficient. Don't totally surrender to the fickle whims of Exxon-Mobil, and put yourself at their mercy. Don't lose sight of how expensive it is to drive one mile in a motor vehicle! (The IRS says it's 50 cents, but it's probably more than that.) A penny saved is a penny earned... and most young folks find those pennies to be quite scarce. Don't forget the cheap and enjoyable and good-for-you transportation that your bicycle has provided for many years.

Y'all drive careful now... y'hear?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Double-Yellow Line

When I was a kid, I loved to "ride shotgun," and pay attention to how traffic worked. (Back in my early days, cars didn't even have seat belts, let alone airbags! I depended totally on Dad or Mom to safely get me to Point B.)

As I observed and listened, I came to understand that the "dashed" line meant passing was allowed, and a solid line meant passing was not allowed. Of course, I understood there's always some risk when you cross that line, no matter what the line looks like, because it puts you out there with oncoming traffic.

(You may deal with oncoming bicycle traffic no matter which lane you're in, since they choose not to enforce those confusing laws on bike riders, who are obviously incompetent. But I digress.)

Early on in my marriage, I got an expensive education on the double-yellow line.

I was driving on Highway 21 between Lowman and Idaho City. For those not familiar, it's about 35 miles of serpentine 2-lane road, winding through lush forests and over mountain passes. Mostly it's double-yellow line, and a lot of it is 35mph or less. I wasn't passing anybody... but I crossed the double yellow line with the left wheels of the car. Maybe a foot over. (Who HASN'T done the same thing at some point between Lowman and Idaho City? I bet nobody!)

Darn the luck - a state patrolman was coming from the opposite direction. He saw my tires over the line. (Don't misunderstand - it's not like there was a near-miss between he and me or anything... I was totally back in my lane 200 yards before we passed.) He must've been bored, or in a bad mood, because he turned around, pulled me over, and gave me a ticket!

I was so sure that the double-yellow line meant "no passing," that I contested it. Which meant a weekday drive up to Idaho City, where the court house is located. Despite my passion, and my declaration that probably NOBODY has driven between those two points without drifting over the line, the law was clear... you cannot cross that line, period. (The judge had enough pity that he at least minimized the fine.)

The double-yellow line should mean "compromised sight distance - cross with extreme caution." As currently written, it is one of the sore points with the new "safe passing" statute designed to protect cyclists. A motorist might have to follow a bicycle for a considerable distance, if there's a double-yellow line... even if there's plenty of sight distance for a driver with decent judgment and depth perception to successfully complete the maneuver. (For the record, I see car wheels cross that double-yellow line in just such maneuvers ALL THE TIME! And I'm fully in support of their being able to do that, from the legal standpoint, as long as they aren't putting themselves or others at risk.)

Passing a cyclist is just one example. Farm equipment, crawling down the road? Letter carrier on a rural route? Police officer and somebody pulled over? (There's a new law about giving the cop plenty of room. But the only legal way to do that would be to stop and wait, if you otherwise have to cross the double-yellow.)

The written statute should be brought into compliance with real-world practices. And I understand that "my" senator - Elliot Werk - will introduce such a measure in this year's legislative session. I hope it gets some traction.

(This situation may be unique to Idaho... or there may be a similar situation in the other 49 states.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Attitude Check

One of the complaints regularly leveled at cyclists by motorists is, "They think they own the road!"

Perhaps a better way to express the true sentiment would be, "They don't acknowledge the fact that I own the road!"

After all, they go on to accuse cyclists of sometimes occupying a whole traffic lane! They accuse cyclists of not paying their fair share, since they don't register their bicycles. They complain that we're on the road, instead of the sidewalk. They explain, in detail, why the laws of physics favor their 5000-pound Super Duty over the 25-pound bike, should a collision occur. And they even accuse us of being "uppity"!

(Uppity [Websters]: Putting on or marked by airs of superiority.)

Many of their complaints are born of ignorance. If you never ride a bike, and are unfamiliar with traffic laws regarding bicycles, it's natural to be ignorant about transportation cycling.

Sometimes it's safer to "take the lane," than to squeeze the edge of the lane and have cars speeding by, with mirrors bumping your elbow.

Unless a cyclist doesn't own a motor vehicle, and is homeless, he's indeed contributing to the construction and maintenance of the road infrastructure. (In the current fiscal year for our local road agency, $31.7 million of the $78.7 million budget comes from property taxes.) Granted, a cyclist doesn't pay a gas tax for rolling over the pavement... but I would argue that the gas tax is by far the closest thing to a fair "user fee" for the roads, when mileage, wear and tear, etc., are factored in.

But how about that "uppity" thing?


We live in a culture where your vehicle says a lot about you. There is no way that can be denied.

The guy on the radio, just this morning, said, "You are what you drive."

In fact, the vehicle driven by a US Senate candidate in Massachusetts has become a news story. He drives an old beater pickup and mentions it when campaigning; President Obama dismisses it, saying, "Anybody can own a truck."

The "pickup war" has been going on for as long as I can remember. REAL men drive Ford pickups! No... Chevy pickups! NO! Dodge pickups!

You even see decals on some of those trucks, with the little boy urinating on the logo of the rival pickup. That says a lot about the mentality and attitude of the pickup owner, no?

More recently, "green" car owners have been accused of being snooty. Because they are saving the planet, they think they own the road!! (And everybody knows that the Law of Natural Selection favors the F350 over the Prius any day!! haha! Actually, that is far from factual... look what happened to dinosaurs from earlier in history!)

Are cyclists "superior"?


Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually!

But my friends, we shouldn't let our superiority color our behavior in traffic, any more than the guy in the F350 gets right-of-way over the poor schmoe in a meager F150! Let's avoid that "air of superiority," but rather share the road freely and fairly with the losers, inferiors, ignorants, and incompetents.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Eye of the Tiger!

Remember that music from the Rocky movie? Yeah - that's what was playing in my head as I rode my bicycle in to the office this morning. (I don't know the words - just the melody. It's the eye of the tiger, la-la-laa-la-laa....)

Ah, it felt sweeet to have that cold breeze in the face! I can totally understand why dogs love to hang their head out of the window!


Not bound to the bus schedule. (Nor to the cost of Terrorist Oil.)

My joy was compounded when I got to the office and there wasn't a "squatter" in my favorite parking spot. (In the sheltered bike room.) When I was able to remember the combination of my bike lock, my onboard jukebox switched over to the immortal James Brown:

"Heh! I feel good!!"

I hope to do a little ridin' over the weekend. Back to full-regalia Bike Nazi in a matter of days...

(My surgery was a month ago today. The doc advised me to wait a month before cycling. Coincidence? You be the judge!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Council Meeting Follow-Up

I sent this message to the Boise City Council and the Deputy Police Chief who was in attendance:

Dear members of the Boise City Council, and Deputy Chief:

Greetings. I wanted to follow up on the 1/12 Council meeting, where the topic of cyclist safety was discussed and new ordinances passed. You may remember me; I testified. Mostly I wanted to convey my belief that more aggressive enforcement of bicycle-related laws is the best thing the City can do, to improve cyclist safety. (Although I can support all of the new laws passed.)

In my opinion, the high water mark of the meeting was when Councilman Shealy said, "The safety of the cyclist is more important than the convenience of the vehicle." Amen to that! I think we all can agree. Not only that, I believe most Boise citizens would be in total agreement.

But nonetheless, I believe many citizens view cyclists as a "protected special class," and frequently as above the law. They tend to remember those heart-attack moments when they barely miss some bone-headed bike rider who's swerving from lane to lane with his earplugs jammed in, or who blasts through a red light as if he's the only person on the planet. (Graceful interactions with responsible cyclists are quickly forgotten. The brain is funny that way.)

I don't know if you read the comments posted at the Statesman website, in response to the stories. The last time I checked the story about the Tuesday Council meeting, there were 150 comments. Many were from disgruntled motorists, angry - in many cases rightfully angry - about boorish cyclist behavior. The new laws, perceived to be additional "protections" for poorly-behaving cyclists, will only foster the hard feelings. One guy says he'll add some 3-foot pieces of rebar to his pickup truck, so he can make sure to obey the new 3-foot law. Surely most of the comments are just folks "blowing off steam," but they are likely rooted in genuine feelings.

As a 24-year, 130,000-mile veteran of year-round transportation cycling on the streets of Boise, I continue to believe - strongly - that the best way to improve cyclist safety is significantly more vigorous enforcement of "bike" laws.

Write some tickets for "reckless cycling"! Please!!

When a cyclist "blows thru a red light"? Write him up!

Riding against traffic? I requested statistics from the Police Department. In a recent five-year period, five tickets TOTAL were issued by BPD for that violation! I've seen five violations in a day! (Many riding directly toward me, and I have NO idea what they'll do when we converge.)

By stepping up enforcement, and making sure it is publicized, you can send out some important messages:
1) You can serve notice to bicycle riders that they, too, are expected to know, understand, and follow the law.
2) You can reinforce in the minds of the "motoring public" that bicycles are legitimate vehicles, and that cyclists have not only the RIGHTS, but the RESPONSIBILITIES of being roadway users.

From the Task Force Final Report's (PDF, 4.2MB) "hoped for" results: "Enforce 8" making most violations infractions, "Violators more likely cited; provides greater ability to deal with juveniles." I hope that prediction pans out.

And from "Educate 7" bicycle law training for police, "Raise officer awareness of relationships surrounding bicycle/motorist interactions."

The Task Force was a great contribution to continually making our community more bike-friendly. My viewpoint is that education and enforcement are where we are most severely lacking, and the Boise Police Department can take that ball and run with it... if they choose to do so. (And of course I understand that they're already understaffed and overworked. My hat is off to our men and women in blue! I just hope they can make a deliberate decision to bump up "bike enforcement" a notch or two. It could make a HUGE difference, particularly if there is some publicity. If you give some tickets to bad cyclists, I can promise that the good cyclists will be in your corner!)

Thanks, for your generally-thankless work.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A new, safer dawn for local cyclists?


I like to think we all recognize the value of living in a "bike friendly community." (At the "bronze" level... but hey, it's better than nuttin'!) And that all of us are dismayed when we hear of tragic accidents resulting in cyclist injuries or fatalities.

With last summer's three fatalities still painfully in mind, on January 12 the City Council considered - and passed, with minor but significant amendments - some new laws recommended by the mayor's Cycling Safety Task Force.

- It is now a misdemeanor to throw or "expel" stuff at cyclists or pedestrians, or to intentionally harass them.
- Cyclists have to get off and walk, on crowded sidewalks.
- Cyclists can now be charged with misdemeanor "reckless cycling."
- Motorists must leave a safety buffer of at least three feet when passing a cyclist. (When presented to the Council, there was a "whenever possible" clause. But after testimony and discussion, that clause was removed. It's "at least three feet period" as enacted.)

Essentially all of the testimony generally favored the new laws. The last lady to testify was the exception. She told some harrowing tales of near-misses with irresponsible sidewalk-riding cyclists, and wanted mandatory registration of bicycles and mandatory display of a registration number, so citizens could better identify the scofflaws when complaining. (I was sympathetic to her - bonehead cyclists are the worst possible thing for the cycling community.)

The new laws were passed 6-0. Mayor Bieter was absent; Council President Maryanne Jordan was acting mayor at the session.

I testified that it's meaningless to pass new laws, if there's little enthusiasm about enforcing those laws. (In the past, the stated position of the Boise Police Department has been, "Bicycle violations are not a priority." I've not seen anything to indicate that position has changed.) I told the Council members they could do more to make cycling safer by enforcing existing laws. (But I can also support the newly-passed laws.)

Councilmen Shealy and Eberle both stated that "we can't legislate respect and courtesy." Nevertheless, I always hope respect and courtesy can be maintained, for everyone's safety and sanity.

The Task Force also recommended stepped up enforcement and education. If I were in charge, those would be my areas of emphasis. (Previous commentary HERE.)

Clancy was also in attendance, and gave some fine testimony. Afterwards he showed me his cool LED strobe/headlight. [Clancy - I could still see you clearly, among a number of cars, when I was 4 or 5 blocks up the road. That light is a keeper!]

(I snapped the photo on the morning of Jan. 11.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Transportation Model

Standing on the corner for a couple minutes each morning and afternoon, waiting for the bus, has given me the opportunity to do a casual survey of traffic going by. This is nothing new... but once again I am amazed at how many of the vehicles are occupied by only the driver! Single-occupant vehicle is the de-facto standard mode of transportation, obviously.

Imagine if we were starting from scratch.

Somebody - a visionary; we'll call him Edsel Ford - is giving a presentation to the movers-and-shakers, on his dream of modern utopian transportation. It would go something like this:

I have a dream.

I see a vast grid of paved roadways, 30 to 80 feet wide, and stretching for miles and miles. In fact, these roadways could be accurately called the core component of our civilization.

People live far away from their places of work, the merchants they patronize, and their entertainment venues. Since they live so far away, non-motorized transportation is impractical. In order to get where they are going, they need motorized carriages. And because they aren't all going in the same direction and at the same time, each member of the household has his own carriage. These motorized carriages have 4-6 seats, but only one is used on the vast majority of trips.

These carriages weigh 3000-6000 pounds each. They are 7 feet wide and 13-20 feet long. They travel at speeds that weren't even imagined, less than 100 years before. Because of the speeds, and the distracted state and/or incompetence of the carriage drivers, there are frequent accidents resulting in property damage, injuries, and loss of life. But that's a price our society is more than willing to pay.

Of course, the grid of paved roadways needs to be adequate to provide reasonably quick passage. There is a space to park these carriages at their various destinations, as well as at the residences.

These carriages have an internal-combustion engine that burns volatile, highly toxic hydrocarbon fuel, and emits poisonous vapors into the air we all breathe. Small price, to enjoy our preferred mode of transportation.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen - I have a dream. Mine eyes have seen the glory!

Any chance the movers-and-shakers would buy in? Seems unlikely to me. And if they did, they shouldn't be moving and shaking.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ride Idaho this summer?

What better to do on a gray winter day, than dream about those summer days?

Here's something to daydream about... Ride Idaho 2010.

Ride Idaho is "an annual seven day all-ability cycling tour through the beautiful state of Idaho. The tour is organized and administered by the Treasure Valley Family YMCA and Ride Idaho, a non-profit organization powered by the dedication of local volunteers. We have peddled [sic] our way through the roads of Idaho since 2005."

Peddled? How about pedaled... unless part of the experience is selling brushes, pots and pans, or encyclopedias along the route? (Hahaha!)

This year the route starts and ends in Coeur d'Alene (August 8-14) and takes participants on a big loop around northern Idaho and a bit of NW Montana. I've not bicycled those roads, but I've ridden most of them by motorcycle. The scenery is spectacular; the terrain would be challenging on a bike, but not totally intimidating (unless you decide to do it on your single-speed cruiser!). Just last summer I rode on the narrow 2-lane through Murray to Thompson Falls, MT. There will be some altitude changes on Day 5!

They say it's for "all abilities," and I'm sure that's true. HOWEVER... nobody should conclude that they can be physically prepared for this ride if their "training" consists of 3-mile jaunts on the Greenbelt. I say you better be able to ride at least 30 miles. (If you can ride 30 miles, you should be able to ride 50 or 60 or 70, given the time.)

You provide bike, pedal power, camping gear, etc. They provide camping space, meals and snacks, gear transport, mobile shower service and shower facilities, mechanical support and evening entertainment. (Cost - $625)

It's limited to 300 riders. Signup started on January 1 and I suspect it won't take too much time to fill up. I'd love to do it, but for varying reasons (mostly financial), it's too early to start making plans.

Other opportunities?

I've blogged previously about other "rails to trails" bicycle vacation opportunities that await in northern Idaho.

There's also the Weiser River Trail in southwest Idaho, a rail-to-trail stretching roughly from Weiser to New Meadows. It's packed dirt in most places, and probably not suitable for a road bike. Clancy rode it last year, and says you want to do it EARLY in the year, or you'll need to stop and fill the radiator too often. There's also an annual wagon-train event sometime in May; you may want to consider that when scheduling.

I'm sure glad the days are getting longer!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Public hearing on cycling safety ordinances

Last year, following three local cycling fatalities, Boise's mayor convened an ad-hoc task force to come up with recommendations on how cycling could be made safer. (Previous commentary HERE.) Among their recommendations was the enactment of some new city ordinances, for both motorists and cyclists. Most are similar to laws that are on the books in other states and cities.

A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 12, beginning at 6pm for citizens to testify.

A summary of the ordinances (from the City Website):
• A new law making it a misdemeanor for a motorist or any person to intentionally intimidate or harass a cyclist by threatening physical injury or throwing an object at him or her.
• A new prohibition on reckless operation of a bicycle in a manner "as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property," also a misdemeanor.
• A requirement that, whenever possible, a motorist provide a minimum safe distance of three feet when passing a cyclist.
• Specific rules for riding bicycles on sidewalks, including a requirement that the cyclist dismount "when the number of pedestrians using the sidewalk renders bicycle riding on the sidewalk unsafe."
• Creation of "heels down" zones on specific, highly congested sidewalks (such as downtown) where cyclists would be required to dismount at all times.
• Clarification that motorists at intersections must yield to oncoming cyclists when turning left and cannot cut off cyclists traveling in the same direction when turning right.

Do we need new laws?

I'm not convinced. Primarily because as I see it, the most pressing problems are lack of education and lack of enforcement. There are already laws on the books to regulate both driving and cycling, that our law enforcers elect not to enforce. (Or to classify as "low priority.")

What good will a half-dozen new unenforced laws do?

Instead, let's have the Mayor and Council direct the police department to learn the bicycle-related laws, and enforce them more vigorously! (I hope I can attend the hearing and make that comment.)

On a brighter note, the news release says, "Work is progressing on other recommendations... including expanded cycling safety education programs." I hope so - that could actually make a difference!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Distracted drivers? You ain't seen nothin' yet!

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is underway in Vegas. It's a good place to track future trends.

Bob T brought this article to my attention from the NY Times web page: "Despite Risks, Internet Creeps Onto Car Dashboards."

In the near future, not only will drivers be holding their hot Starbucks in one hand and yammerin' on the phone... they can also Google as they drive! New car-based "infotainment systems" will have console-mounted 10-inch screens, where the driver can display hi-def videos, 3-D maps, and Web pages.

Some of the functions will be disabled while the car is in motion, apparently. Safety first! (Yeah, right!) The Audi's screen will display a message: "Please only use the online services when traffic conditions allow you to do so safely."

Yeah, drivers have such good judgment! The article points out that way back in 2003, motorists distracted only by their cellphones caused 2600 fatal accidents and 570,000 injury accidents. Wait 'til they're carrying on a conversation and looking at a console-mounted screen, at 75 mph!

As I've said before... responsibility! If motorists were only putting themselves, and perhaps their passengers, in mortal danger, I'd be totally in favor of giving them the choice. Unfortunately, they just as frequently involve bystanders as "collateral damage," and I am not OK with that!

UPDATE 1/8: "CES: Ford unveils Tweeting car"

"... the company will produce a range of vehicles which can read motorist's twitter messages to them as they drive down the street. Drivers may even be able to Tweet replies as the cars will feature voice recognition technology. But composing Tweets will not be possible on the first models, due out in the US later this year, because of safety fears."

(I must be getting old - having "safety fears" means you're getting old... right?)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Resolutions, Schmesolutions!

My employer offers a sweet optional "perk" - a nice exercise room with stationary bikes, jogging treadmills, stair-steppers, free weights, aerobic classes, etc. When I started employment, it was only $5 per month. (I think it's still only $10.) I decided to sign up over the first winter, thinking I could hop on a stationary bike or rowing machine on those days when riding conditions were dicey. I signed up on December 1.

December was okay. Personally I found stationary bike riding to be tedious and boring... but at least it was exercise and I could watch the TV news while I pedaled. On some days I opted for the variety of a rowing machine... but it all feels like hamster-on-a-treadmill, compared to riding a bike with scenery rolling by, or rowing a boat. I would never have the self-discipline to exercise just for the sake of exercising, I'm afraid. (That's one of the wonderful things about riding a bike! Multiple paybacks!)

On the first day back of the new year... I was flabbergasted! The place was FULL of sweating, heavy-breathing patrons! All the newer machines were occupied; I settled for an older one for the day, and wondered if I'd have to adjust my schedule or something, to continue comfortably using the facility.

My worries were premature. The very next day (!!), the crowd had thinned back out again, almost to pre-new-year levels. And within a week, it was business as usual.


But then again... perhaps lots of people made a new year's resolution:


Monday, January 4, 2010

Missing my Wheels

I've still got a couple weeks to go (following my recent surgery), before I can confidently straddle that bicycle and ride.

When the roads are dry and the sun is shining, it's particularly tough! I'm counting the days, and gazing longingly at that almost-new bike sitting there, waiting for me.

There are places I want to go, but I just hate the notion of getting behind the wheel of the wife's Family Truckster... it's like surrendering. (Perhaps I feel a little like the motorist whose vehicle is broke-down, and he's looking - grimacing distastefully - at his bicycle and not relishing the notion of having to go somewhere on that thing...)

I've been walking a lot. Any place within about a mile radius is fair game. (I'd go farther, but for time constraints.)

On Saturday I fired up the motorcycle for the first time in a couple weeks. (Gotta keep the battery charged... and it does have a plush, soft, wide saddle.) And rode the "Ten Mile Creek Loop" - out Cloverdale to Hubbard / Ten Mile Creek Road, then back in on Pleasant Valley Road. It was sunny and in the high 30s at the time, and was very enjoyable. (I started out very cautiously, because I was seeing patches of black ice.) I saw some cyclists, including one that looked like it might've been Clancy. (Clancy, did you ride out Pleasant Valley on Saturday with a couple friends?)