Friday, January 30, 2015

Dashboard enlightenment

I came up behind a car a couple mornings ago, that had the "smart phone" (quote/unquote) mounted on the dashboard, in roughly this fashion...

Right there where the driver will be constantly tempted to stare at it.  (Like they do when they're lurching about, eating, using the potty, walking the dog, bicycling, worshiping, and pretty much everything else.)

Probably has some sort of hands-free technology, that gives owners/operators the false sense that it's safe.  In reality, studies consistently support the theory that, hands-full or hands-free, conversing via cellphone has roughly the same effect on driving ability as being legally substance-impaired.

Speaking of worshiping, sometimes I long for the days when car dashboards were more likely to be adorned in this fashion...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pre-Super-Bowl bike ride

Defensive end Michael Bennett, of the Seattle Seahawks, was feeling celebratory after the team's playoff victory over the Packers... so he hopped on a cop bike, and took a spin around the stadium, doing wheelies and high-fivin' fans.

Is there a better way to celebrate anything?

Story HERE.

The first thing I noticed is how tiny that 26-inch bike looks, underneath that mountain of man.

Apparently the police were okay with it - they just asked him to return the bike before the Super Bowl.  The Seattle Seahawks meet the New England Cheatin' Ball-Deflators on February 1.  Go Seahawks!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nature gained and lost

Alongside our Boise Greenbelt, not far from downtown, is a true curiosity of nature. It is a tree that sprouted up next to a chain link fence, obviously quite a few years ago. As it grew, a couple branches found their way through the fence, and in the ensuing years those branches have grown until they encompass multiple links of the fence.

Over the years, I've ridden past it hundreds of times, never failing to notice and appreciate it. And several times I've snapped photos of it.

I took what may be my last photos of it yesterday - January 16, 2015. It may soon be no longer.

The city is closing that stretch of Greenbelt temporarily, to modify a canal channel and to start work on a new city park. Since the tree is dead-center in the construction area, I emailed the Parks Department, expressing my fondness for the tree, and asking them to preserve it and a short stretch of fence.

A representative replied, which was nice. She knew exactly which tree I was referring to - she even sent me a photo of it. But she said, "[The tree] may not be affected by the Farmer’s Union intake structure that is going on this winter, but most definitely will be removed with the installation of Esther Simplot Park."

You've got to love the irony! "We can't save that tree - we're building a park there!"

I asked them to reconsider if possible. I'd love to take granddaughter Bonnie to see where I snapped her photo next to that tree when she was barely a year old. But I'm not hopeful. And currently I'm not in a position where I can build a hut, high up in the canopy, and refuse to come down... like the Northern California Redwood Warriors.

I'm sure the new park will be nice.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fat girl on a bike!

Andrea Parrish is a cyclist in Spokane.  But she's no ordinary cyclist - she's 6 feet 4 inches tall, wears a size 24 dress, and tips the scale at 325 pounds.  She's also a gifted writer.

Andrea deals with unique challenges because of her "super human" status.  She has learned (as have I!) that bicycles are generally designed with smaller people in mind.  She's hard on wheels, hubs, frames, saddles, etc.  She observes that women's cycling-specific clothing - "incredibly cute" and "full cycling kits" - aren't available in Size 24.

But she loves cycling.  "The feeling of freedom, the sense of accomplishment, and even the stares I get as I pedal by. I am a fat girl on a bike, and I love it. Biking allows me the chance to get in a workout in the time I would normally spend driving. Biking is the one thing that is easy to fit into my (sometimes far too busy) schedule."

Andrea rode a century ride last summer - awesome!  And she says she's lost 85 pounds since she started riding.  That is SO impressive!

She points out that we all stereotype bike riders, and anybody who busts the stereotype makes us react, perhaps more than is merited.

Every once in a very great while, somebody will comment about my physique.  How could I get upset?  They're almost always driving - frequently in a pickup truck.  But Andrea makes me think.  Sometimes I'll see a "super size" guy or gal on a bicycle, and my first mental reaction is probably harsh.  But it's always followed by a "mental slap in my own face" - how can you possibly find fault with an overweight person riding a bike?  Would it be better if they were driving... or sitting on a sofa downin' the snacks?  GOOD FOR THEM, for making cycling part of their life!  (If it weren't for cycling, I'm confident I'd have to be much more aware of my weight, and food intake.)

Read what Andrea wrote HERE.  It's excellent.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New year - why not new saddles?

Whew!  We made it thru 2014, huh?

As a new year commences, I'm giving my back end a sweet bonus!

A benefit I enjoy at work (funded via another government program) gives me up to $240 per year to spend on bicycle bits and maintenance.  I used about half of my 2014 allotment recently to purchase a new saddle - a Brooks Imperial.  It's my first experience with a Brooks saddle, although the Anatomica is similar in concept.  Since everything I've ever heard about Brooks saddles is positive, that's how I anticipate my ownership experience will go.

So - my saddles played musical chairs.  I installed the Brooks on my primary bicycle - the Cannondale skinny-tire bike.  The Anatomica came off the Cannondale, and took the place of my "beater" bike's $15 Nashbar Inquisition-Torture saddle, that I've been riding on for a year or so.  (I believe they used that last-mentioned saddle as part of their terrorist interrogation regimen - for the really hard cases that wouldn't break with just the water-boarding.  It's all in the report.)  (But seriously - that saddle would probably work fine for some tailbones - it's all in the fit.  And it didn't fit me very well.  The leather "hammock saddles," like Brooks and Anatomica, are more pliable, so they'll fit more tailbones... or that's the theory behind 'em.)

I actually swapped the saddles a few days ago - as of today I've got 40 or 50 miles on the Brooks, and maybe 20 on the "beater Anatomica."  The Brooks will be fine - I can already tell.  It feels different - it's probably an inch shorter than the Anatomica, and they require a bit of "breaking in."  And the Anatomica on the beater bike has brought HUGE relief.  The last day on the Nashbar saddle was within the past week, and the 10 miles I rode was an ordeal.  The very next day, after the swap, a 10-mile ride was significantly more comfortable.

A note about durability... I'm on my third Anatomica saddle, the first two having broken.  After the second one broke, I exchanged messages with the company.  The company president told me, "11K miles may be the limit of our saddle, given your size and riding style."  That's a bummer!  (They claim they've changed the steel rails... and I sincerely hope that'll improve things.  My current saddle has been problem-free for just over 9500 miles.  But both of the others worked perfect until they day they went "snap"!)  I have no expectations that a Brooks saddle will last a lifetime - like 75 or 80 years - but it has a 2-year warranty and claims "this is a product for a lifetime."