Wednesday, June 23

Bike to All Over Creation Day 2010

What a great morning for Bike to Work Day 2010! I left out early to make sure I got a t-shirt from the breakfast station at work. My ride was nice and cool and lots of people were biking, even on my lonely route. Little did I know I was beginning an impromptu Tour de West Denver.

I got to work just before 7:30 and chatted with some of the other cyclists. I even saw a guy with a dark blue Cannonball JUST LIKE MINE! It's a year newer than mine, but otherwise it has the exact geometry and components. He bought it off a guy on craigslist who had it listed for $1.00.

I got my bike tuned and grabbed an apple, a donut and a t-shirt from the breakfast station in the atrium. I saw I had a voicemail as I walked back out to check on my bike. It was from our realtor. We were supposed to do a walk-thru of the house. We're closing in the morning. She had gotten my message that I could do it after work tonight (Mandy would pick me up at work and we could drive over) but she said she needed to do it this morning. I glanced at the time…7:35. I needed to be at work by 9am. Last time I rode from work to the new house it took me 45 minutes, but that was the long way that sticks to the Clear Creek Trail for most of the ride. There is a more direct route from work that utilizes more residential streets, but shaves off about three miles.

I called her back and said I could meet her at the house an hour later. The guy was finishing up with my bike, so I ran my shirt up to my cube and once back downstairs I was pedaling furiously toward Arvada. I was Biking FROM Work.

I made it to the house in a surprising 31 minutes. The realtor showed up shortly thereafter and we did a quick walk-thru and I was back on the bike headed for Golden.

I started to feel the miles (22+ when I started in Arvada) behind me and I was much slower, though to my credit, I was gaining elevation the whole way with a nice head-breeze.

46 minutes after leaving the house I was at work.

It was a good ride in, both times, and there were a lot of people riding along the whole route. The best was the last cyclist I saw before I got to work the second time…a scruffy looking guy on a cheap mountain biking pulling a pushmower behind him along the bike lane on 10th Avenue in Golden. Not only was he biking to work, he was carrying his tools with him.

Tuesday, June 22

Bike to Work Day and Vacation

This is Bike to Work Month/Week and tomorrow is Bike to Work Day in the Denver Metro area. Of course I'm riding...

This month I've ridden quite a bit. I've been much more consistent in my commuting. the weather has been nicer, I've been late shift so I don't have to be to work before 9am and of course BP has destroyed the Gulf of Mexico and buying gas just seems like a horrendous thing to do at this point.

I am excited about our impending move to Arvada. The ride to work from our new home will be comparable to my ride now, except I won't have Green Mountain to traverse. THe best part is that I can ride the Clear Creek Trail most of the way when I'm on late shift and when I go in early I can ride quiet neighborhood streets for a more direct route.

Friday we leave for Kentucky for a week. Mandy and I are taking our bikes. I'm looking forward to riding some of my old routes around Stanton. And I want to do two new ride: Stanton to Owingsville to see the grave of AD Ruff and Stanton to Cobb Hill to do the heinous climb from Fitchburg to Cobb Hill.

I'm wondering how I will fare, going from a higher altitude to a lower altitude. Will it benefit me at all? The hills there are shorter, but generally steeper. While the climbs here are miles long at consistent grades, the climbs there are relentlessly rolling, up and down, up and down for miles and miles and miles.


Friday, June 18

Thursday, June 17

Alternate Modes of Transportation

Want to write something, but just can't get my brain to work, so let's listen to some music instead...


Gas burners idling...

Wednesday, June 16

Why I Am Feeling More Green With Each Day That Passes

British Petroleum

'Nuff said.

Recent Facebook posts I have made:

...Dedicated to British Petroleum (with some cycling photos) a coastal marshland, ride a bike

..."A simple answer would be appreciated here!", "So the scientists are making it up?!" (in response to an Early Show interview with Doug Suttles, COO of BP)

...wants to find a BP station I can ride my bike past

...thanks BP, for strengthening my resolve to ride my bike to work. You will help me lose weight and have fun doing it.

...Remember: when you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!

...Another way I'm going to have fun boycotting BP. Now that we're buying a house we're going to need a mower.

I have teetered on the fence over the whole 'green' issue for a long time. On one hand I believe we should be good stewards of what God has blessed us with as a race and particularly as a wealthy nation. But on the other hand, I don't buy into the bleeding heart liberal agenda. Meat is murder. But its tasty murder and I'm gonna keep eating meat. Yeah, SUVs are evil, but I really can see the benefit in having a 4WD truck living in Colorado. Doesn't mean I'm going to drive it everywhere. Doesn't mean I'm going to live a hundred miles form work and make the long commute everyday.

I like riding my bike to work. I wouldn't do it if I didn't. For me the motivation comes form being independent. I feel more self-reliant when I use my bike to get where I need to go. I can fix the bike myself. I can find the best way to get where I need to be. I just like being less dependent on cars and on other people. That's just me. Its how I've always been and its wired into my brain.

But seeing this catastrophe in the Gulf...makes me sick. I am appalled that more people aren't outraged. I can't believe there aren't riots and protests. There should be. People halfheartedly say they will boycott BP, but how far are we truly willing to go?

Is this just BP's problem? I think not. I think we're all responsible because we contribute to the addiction. We are all enablers. And BP is not the only supplier of our black sticky drug.

Its truly not feasible to completely stop buying items that involve petroleum products. Yesterday I read an article that listed a bunch of household items that are made with petroleum products. One was toothpaste. As I was brushing my teeth this morning I thought: "You can brush with baking soda, is there petroleum in baking soda?"

That's how we need to be thinking. We don't need to turn off the spigot, but we need to figure out which flowers we can stop watering. Some of them are really just weeds.

Thursday, June 10

Dabbling in Quantum Mechanics

Early in the week I had tire/tube issues with my road bike. After changing a rear tube and extracting a hunk of glass form my front (carbon) tire I discovered that my rear wheel was crazy wobbly. It was late and I was fed up with the whole affair. My mountain bike had two flats at once and when I bought new tubes at REI a couple weeks ago I got the wrong size. So needless to say I'm running out of bikes.

Mandy suggested that I "borrow" her wheels so I could go ahead and ride on Tuesday. I did.

I finally got around to working on my wheels last night. I stripped off my rear tire and put the rim on the trainer and gave it my best shot at truing the wheel. I've never tried to true a wheel before and considering that I did pretty good. I improved the horizontal and vertical, though when I was working on the vertical I stripped one of the spokes and it was the one that needed the most cranking.

The wheel is passable, but now that I know how it works I want to go back and do it right.

I rode Ship Rock Road through Red Rocks this morning. For some reason Titans Road was closed at the top end. Not sure why. Looked like there's going to be a concert or something soon, so maybe that's why.

The ride just wasn't long enough. They put this place far too close...


Why I Ride

I’m 36 years old and I ride a bike. In my hometown this confession would be akin to coming out of the closet, sexually speaking. However, a couple of years ago I moved 1,200 miles west. West!

My family and I now live in the Denver Metro area where a lot of 36 year-olds ride a bike and often. I ride often myself. In fact, this past fall I sold my car and we became a one car family. Travesty to many in Eastern Kentucky where I grew up, commonplace in a large urban area where there are lots of alternatives to being a car-for-every-person family.

I began riding a bike when I was seven or eight years old. I can’t remember the exact age; I just know it was prior to beginning third grade. When I was in third grade we moved from rural Eastern Kentucky to Suburbia, Ohio. I could ride a bike by then and while we lived in platted subdivisions with broad, calm streets I rode like a kid possessed. My friends and I pedaled all over the undeveloped and overgrown land east of our particular development. Riding a bike at that age was as natural to me as walking or eating or breathing. The bike was an extension of my body.

As a preteen boy I used the bike for transportation to and from my friends’ houses. We rode together, raced, and engaged in heinous dogfights, we crashed, jumped and skidded through worlds of imagination and reality day after summer day.

After school when the weather was good I’d come home, drop my school things and head for the open road with the same fervor of a Hell’s Angel desperately rebelling against the establishment.

When I was in the fourth grade my family moved out of suburbia to a more rural clime. In a way it was nice. In a way it was hell. There were few other kids my age in the area and it was a long way from our house on a cul-de-sac in the middle of farmland to the nearest community of any size. I made the most of my isolation and I rode my bike relentlessly, again, delving into my imagination and to the depths of what was transportationally possible for a kid my age.

I rode at an early age for entertainment. I rode to get where I wanted to go. I rode because I couldn’t think of anything better to do. I rode because summers were cooler with the wind in my face than baking under the stagnant sun. I rode to my first jobs slinging hay for local farmers.

When I was in high school I lived in Kentucky again. I had my first ten-speed, and I used it to get to town and other places I wanted to go. I wasn’t old enough to drive at first, so the bike was purely functional. I didn’t explore or go on rides for the sake of riding.

Then I reached that magical age where the only thing with wheels that matters is the car. I got my driver’s license and I forgot about the bike for a couple of years. I allowed myself to be brainwashed into believing that the car made more sense than any other form of transportation available to Americans. That programming stuck for a few years.

However, when I went to college in another state I was sort of forced into relying on the bike again. I took some graduation money and bought a Huffy “mountain bike” to take with me. It was 1992 and the bike I bought was roughly 400 pounds and made of steel.

The engine in my car had died so that bike was my only transportation option the first semester. I found that it worked out quite well getting me around campus and the area of town I frequented. I attended school in Nashville, Tennessee and the bike allowed me to explore the city on a more intimate level than I had ever experienced in an urban area.

Looking back I also have discovered that I would ride the bike for proprioceptive stimulation. I speculate that I am afflicted with Sensory Processing Disorder. I have never been officially diagnosed, but I exhibit many of the symptoms, including seeking sensory and proprioceptive stimulation. While on campus in Nashville I would often go out to an empty parking lot near the baseball field and ride for an hour or so in loops of varying sizes, around and around and around. I would zig-zag, I would hop curbs, I would ride in tight circles and drop down the tiered levels of the lot and then pedal hard back to the top level and then down again. To me it seemed normal, but throughout my life as I have followed my quirky routines I have been strangely alone in my pursuits.

I dropped out of college in 1993 and moved back to Kentucky and rode a bumpy career path for a few years, but I didn’t get back on that Huffy. After struggling with future plans I eventually decided I wanted to go to a photography school, this time in Dayton, Ohio. I knew I’d need a bike again living in another big city, so I bought my first real mountain bike. It was a Cannondale and it was light and fast. I loved (and still love) that bike.

I found myself in Dayton in the winter. I rode to work, to school and to explore and kill time. I was again a commuter and a recreational cyclist. I depended on the bike because my car was undependable. It allowed me to avoid the stress of driving a clunker that threatened to leave me stranded more often than not. It was comforting to have the bike and have it fulfill my needs.

Back in Kentucky after dropping out of school once again I found myself with a car that had finally died. The bike was it. I relied on it to get me everywhere for a few years until I married.

Then I was back in school with my new wife and we both rode around campus, though rarely for fun or to explore the college town we found ourselves living in. I finally had a car I could rely on, so I only rode the bike when it would be hard to find a parking space.

A few years passed and rode seldom. We moved back to the small town I called home and I had few opportunities to ride and little ambition. My few excursions on my mountain bike were most often for long rides on the road, and as time passed I realized I needed a road bike instead.

For my birthday in 2007 my parents gave me a chunk of money. I took it and bought my second really nice bike, a Giant OCR2. I worked over 50 miles from home and was still in school. It wasn’t feasible for me to commute by bike so the sole purpose of the Giant was for entertainment. I rode because I wanted to ride. I rode because I needed an escape form the growing stress of adult life. I rode because subconsciously I was seeking the proprioceptive and sensory stimulation I had been craving for year and denying myself in ignorance.

I rode around Lexington, Kentucky on my lunch breaks. I was a GIS intern for an engineering firm and I took the opportunities to ride and explore around Lexington. Never had I rode extensively around a town that I did not live in. And I reveled in the experience. I rode downtown, through the horse farms and the industrial areas of the city.

Then I got a job. A real job…something I could turn into a career. We moved 1200 miles west so I could work in Golden, Colorado. We lived in Denver for awhile and I rode like a fiend everywhere I could. I commute the 15 miles and 800 feet in elevation gain to Golden. I rode mountain passes just because I could. We took the kids to the park in a bike trailer. We explored the city as a family on our bikes. I rode my bike to the grocery store, to church and anywhere I could conceive to go. I rode in my first organized event, one of the most challenging rides in Colorado, the Triple Bypass Tour.

The bike was both practical, fun and therapy as I had finally discovered my unique sensory quirks.

Now I ride primarily as a commuter, but I try to make my commute fun. I dream of big rides. I scheme of fulfilling my long term cycling goal: a cross country ride.

My bike rests against the wall of my cubicle at work as I write this between permits. I will ride it home tonight and prop it against the living room wall. Tomorrow I will happily put the fun between my legs again for another ride to and from work. Hopefully soon I will make an attempt to ride from my house in the plains at 5,600’ to the summit of Mount Evans over 50 miles away and over 14,000’ in elevation. Then I’ll turn my wheel toward the pull of gravity and coast home, completing a century ride for the second time in my life.

In a few years Lord willing I will set out on a long ride. My dream is to ride east from Colorado along Highway 50 to Kentucky, then ride the Dixie Highway north to its intersection with the Lincoln Highway which will carry me back home to Colorado. I may do it alone, or I may do it with my loving and secretly adventurous wife.

I ride because the bike frees me from the frames of convention. It gives me perspective on life. It makes me see things at a slower pace than I would otherwise. The bike tests my body. It stimulates a need in me. It soothes the rugged places in my soul that cannot be satisfied with a gas pedal and air conditioning. A bike is a companion to me and a challenge, to see how far I can propel myself in space and still return to the lands I haunt.

I ride because to not ride is to not live. My heart pumps in time with my pedal strokes and my lungs keep cadence as my legs drive me onward toward the horizon.

Wednesday, June 9

Loving to Ride Again

Over the winter I was sort of discouraged from riding. But now that the weather is nice and the roads are clear up high I actually want to ride again. I want to ride Mt Evans. I want to ride passes.

Yesterday I did Titans Road again. It's wa-ay steep for a ride to work.

I was going to get up early today and ride a long way, but I just couldn't drag myself out of bed this morning. My late night reading marathons and my desire to do long rides are battling it out.

Anyway, I'm going to try to do a big plains loop tomorrow morning. I need to up my mileage and do some climbing before we head to Kentucky at the end of the month so I can enjoy the punishment of short steep climbs.

At the bottom of the climb...

Tuesday, June 8

Biking History

This is only partially about a bike I once rode. But the bike is kinda central to the story from my perspective. You'll see why soon enough.

The summer of 1988 I worked in hay with my good friend Shane Lightle. We worked for farmers that lived near my house in rural Warren County, Ohio. We made pretty good money, but the work was hard for a scrawny guy like me. Shane on the other hand had a distinct advantage over most other kids our age. I always pictured us to be the River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton characters from Stand By Me, though we were really more like Wil Wheaton (Me) and Bull Shannon from Night Court (Shane).

I had a red Mongoose BMX. It was my baby. I had gotten it for a recent birthday and when I wasn't in school I could most likely be found on the seat of that bike cruising hither and thither.

One particular day I met Shane at a farm to work. His mom dropped him off and I rode my Mongoose the two miles to the farm. The plan was that Shane would walk home with me and either spend the night or my mom would take him home.

We had been fortunate in most of our jobs to work with other local kids our age or just the two of us. The farm we went to that day was a first for both of us, but the farmers in the area all knew each other and just kinda referred us on to the next guy that needed work. When we showed up there was a significantly bigger crew than we normally worked with. I believe there were about 6-7 guys total and the farmer.

Three of the guys were in their 20s and looked rough before we went to work. They were a little gang, less than average intelligence, but big on talk and throwing their weight around. One guy was bulky, one scrawny and the third average. The scrawny guy was all mouth, and he and Shane hit it off righteously, trading barbs that quickly turned icy. Little Man had a chip and Shane didn't back down. At first the other two laughed along with everyone else at Shane's verbal jabs.

Things really got bad when we were putting a load of hay up in the barn loft. Shane and I were in the loft and the Bulky Guy and Little Man were feeding the conveyor from the wagon. A sudden cloud burst dropped some cold hard rain on the guys outside and they started shoving the bales of hay onto the conveyor with no space between and Shane and I were quickly overwhelmed with heavy, wet hay. Shane reacted by kicking the conveyor off the edge of the loft dropping quite a few bales onto the barn floor and stopping the whole operation.

The whole redneck gang took offense to Shane's act and I was guilty by association. By the time the farmer (who had been absent during the rain) was writing our checks there were some really sore rednecks that were ready to pound a couple of teenagers.

Being friends with Shane was very comforting when we were around our own generation. He towered over everyone else and was a wrestler to boot. I never feared the torments of my peers, because they were his peers too. But the gang of three were dangerous. They had claimed they were leaving for Kentucky that night (apparently to do some more glamorous farm work) and had become increasingly hostile toward us as the day waned.

The work was finished and we all parted ways. Shane and I on foot with me pushing my bike and the three rednecks in their pickup. Our ritual was to take our checks to a gas station another mile down the road and cash them. We'd usually buy pop and a candy bar for the walk/ride home. This evening was no different. We walked down the road as the day cooled toward the store which was the opposite direction from my house.

The rednecks drove past a couple of times yelling obscenities out the window. As best I can remember we ignored them but its possible that one of us may have gestured at them in happy response.

We reached the refuge of the store before they could make another pass. I leaned the Mongoose up against the side of the building as usual and we went inside. As we were collecting our cash and preparing to walk back outside we heard a terrible ruckus (can you describe the ruckus?) outside. Tires squealed, voices were raised and we told the cashier about the Redneck Gang. She urged us to stay inside the store until they were gone, and after a few minutes they sped off south and we exited the store in the echoing silence.

My bike was mangled. They had dragged it away from the store, ran over it and replaced it against the wall. We went back inside and told the cashier and she let me call my parents.

That was the end of the Mongoose. There was no fixing it. Some nice acquaintance gave me an old ten speed that I rode until we moved back to Kentucky. It just wasn't the same…

Wednesday, June 2

Rude Cyclist

This is too funny not to share: