Friday, July 30

The Future of Cycling in My Life

The events of last week have caused me to re-examine things a bit.

I'm back to having the Cannonball as my primary mode of transportation. Of course this is not the first time that has been the case. When I lived in Slade over ten years ago I rode the Cannonball everywhere and shunned my undependable car.

I had believed the rear derailleur was bent and had not been riding the bike until I slaughtered two road bikes in short succession. Then I was sort of forced back onto the bike, I've joked that the Cannonball had hexed either myself or the two road bikes to gain my undivided favor once again.

So I rode it to work a couple of days with the "bent" derailleur, grumpy all the way because it wouldn't shift right. I the night before last to try and switch out derailleurs for the nice Shimano from my recently deceased Giant.

I pulled both derailleurs (grave robber I know!) and the Shimno bolted right up to the Cannonball, but the cable was too short. I tried finagling it on but realized it just wasn't going to work.

I slapped the SRAM that i believed was bent back onto the frame and realized what I was seeing as "bent" was actually the swing of the hanger arm. It pivots and does not glide. [Smacked forehead!]

Ok, I could string it all back up...except I had pulled the housing off of the frayed end shifter cable. Grrr!!! There was no way I could get it back through without trimming it with a cable cutter. I did not have a cable cutter. I do now.

A trip to REI yesterday afternoon yielded a new Park cable cutter and a strengthened resolve that gear store people are not to be trusted/relied upon. I was specifically looking for the Park over the Pedro because a) the Park has a crimper and b) it's five dollars cheaper.

The guy tried to talk me into the Pedro even though I specifically wanted the Park.

Once I got the shiny new tool home I had the cable trimmed and the derailleur hitched back up in less than 10 minutes. A quick tightening of the cable and I was cruising up the street, shifting through the gears with no trouble.Yee-HAH!

I realized what had happened to the bike in the first place. The derailleur was not bent. The cable had slipped and there was slack in it. Once I realized what had happened the symptoms were obvious. Should have re-adjusted everything FIRST, before seeking more radical repairs.

I rode in to work today and the bike performed beautifully.

Since the Cannonball does not read my blog I believe I can confide this here. I am researching my next bike.

There are three potential touring/commuter bikes I'm looking at. But first...the criteria.

1) Must be a good, solid and comfortable commuter bike. That is the main goal of my next bike purchase. It will be our secondary vehicle. It must accept panniers and a trailer hitch with ease. It must carry loads, have fenders and go in any weather. So I may even go with disc brakes...

2) I want to be able to ride it on any long trek. If Mandy and I ride cross country in a couple of years I want it to be on my next bike. It must be sturdy and longsuffering on the road.

3) Can't be too expensive. Something around $1,000, no more than say $1,800 (eek! even that seems high). The reason is this: I don't want to fret over leaving it locked up somewhere. I know that even a thousand dollar bike would be a significant loss, but a $2500 bike even moreso. I want to be able to ride the stinking thing.

Here are the bikes I'm looking into:

1) Raleigh Sojourn

2) Raleigh Clubman

3) Novara Safari

The Sojourn has a more pleasing geometry but also has disc brakes. It seems sturdy and the reviews are generally good. The issue of my toes hitting the fenders in a turn would bother me, IF I intended to use SPD pedal or the toe straps. I do not need either.

I saw a stripped down Clubman at REI last night and began lusting immediately, and then as I walked toward the tools saw one that had everything...DROOL!

The Novara...I typically shun store brands when it comes to outdoor gear and this holds true for the Novara bikes (I've got some Novara clithing and am not terribly happy with it). But the Safari gets good reviews and has some nice features. For some strange reason I actually like the weird handlebar configuration.

I need to do some more research, especially into a variety of bikes. And I think I actually want to start test-riding some. Much test riding needs to be done...


I've been torturing myself by reading from this website while sitting in my cube.

I should have taken advantage of all of those years I was single and childless...but I squandered it all on climbing...

Wednesday, July 28


If my Cannonball wore clothes I'd get it a t-shirt that reads:

"I Survived the Great Carport Massacre of 2010"

Friday, July 23

!@#$%& Carports

Different bike. Different carport. Same outcome.

I think my Cannonball has hexed me. We've been together for 14 years or so. I lust after other bikes and I think it's just fed up with the funny business. And it's been so good to me. I'm a real heel to treat it so. I should ride it more, it should be enough for me. It can do roads, trails, pull bike trailers, climb mountain passes with ease. It truly is a great all around bike.

I just got caught up in the whole road bike thing...lighter, newer, faster...I can see why it might be upset at me.

Maybe I should treat it to a tune-up and some new components. Does that seem like "too little, too late?"

Thursday, July 22

Moto to Work

I rode home on the "new" bike last night and I rode to work this morning. It rides good. I don't mind ten speed gearing. With some bar tape, new tires and a little more tweaking it'll be a good commuter bike for sure.

Saw a YouTube video on FB just now. I like it, but a little of this won't really work. There needs to be much, much more for this type of solution to be truly effective. If this type of solution is implemented on only one street in each town/city then its just a novelty and will never achieve the designers' goals.

Wednesday, July 21

Another Bike and Snide Remarks

I got a temporary replacement for the Giant. Craigslist yielded a 70s or 80s Motobecane Nomade 10 speed. It'll do for awhile. It's a cool bike.

Rolling my bike through the halls of the building where I work I get comments like: "You're gonna get rained on," or "Isn't it kinda cold to be riding?" or "It's going to be a hot ride home."

First, its kind of annoying that human beings constantly state the obvious. I do it to, but I try not to state the obvious in such a dull, boring manner to be completely useless. If I'm going to state the obvious I want to add some flair just so the statement serves some entertainment purpose.

And my answer to the comments and remarks is going to start being: "I'm serious about this cycling thing. I ride to work to ride to work, not to pose. The rain, the snow, the cold, the heat…doesn't matter. I'm prepared for any condition and I'm going to ride no matter what. I don't falter at a little meterological hiccup."

I think the reason I am attracted to the activity of bicycle commuting is because it does not follow convention. If everyone were doing it I'd find something else to participate in to define my personality.

Tuesday, July 20

Slain Giant

When I dropped Mandy off at church last night I thought of it, even though the entry cover is really high. When we drove through the drive-thru at DQ to get Blizzards on the way home I thought of it even though there was no cover over the drive-thru.

Five minutes later as I eased the car into the carport at home I hadn't thought about it.


My bike was on top of the car.

I've never lived in a place with a carport or garage before. Well, at least one that got used. It's been nice to park the car under it on hot days.

I've never had roof top bike racks before either. They are so nice...convenient...stylish.

I knew when we bought the house that combining the two would be disastrous. I proved myself right in no time flat.

At least I have a spare, especially since we don't have a spare car. I can ride my Cannonball until I find a suitable replacement. Unfortunately we're not in a good financial position for me to start seriously shopping for my next bike. So i've been craigslisting pretty hard.

I can't believe I did that.

Monday, July 19

Keeping Up

Took the family for a bike ride around the new neighborhood yesterday. Boone does really well keeping up and following directions as we ride.

Wednesday, July 14

Freedom to Let Go

My oldest child can ride a bike all on his own now. And even when he crashes he gets up and gets back on the bike.

He told me last night he's beginning to love riding his bike.

Once we moved into our new house on our Wonder Years street it didn't take long for him to take off and start riding.

The other night I was sick, in fact I had taken a sick day from work. I was sitting in a camp chair on the patio enjoying the cooler afternoon air, hoping he would work on riding on his own. But he kept begging me to help him ride.

I got up and set up the bike, cocked his right pedal at 2 o'clock, aimed the bike down the drive way, patted his left leg and said, "Kick off with this one and jump on the other pedal with your other foot. You'll do fine."

He whined a little about needing help, so I held the bike up while he threw his leg over but let go as soon as he moved forward. He took of like a rocket and shot down the street.

He came back up the street pushing his bike. He still hadn't gotten the hang of turning around between the curbs.

I set him up again, re-cocking the pedal, aiming the bike down the drive and said, "Ok, this time I'm going to stand out here," and pointed about 20 feet in ffront of his bike. I had my camera and I kneeled down, opened the lens up to 18mm and composed a portrait shot and said GO!

He grinned a huge grin, kicked off with his left and stomped on the pedal with his right and he was riding past me all on his own.

I ran after, summoning herculean energy despite not feeling well and snapped a few shots as he cruised down the street.

Last night he really had the hang of it. He would get on on his own, ride down the street, make a u-turn in complete control and then return, cruise up the driveway and stop before hitting the fence (most of the time).

He had a few crashes last night. The worst was when he flopped into the neighbor's roses. Ouch!

My son is a cyclist now.

Friday, July 9

Learning to Fly

I can still remember learning to ride a bike. The first time I rode a bike was completely on my own at a family reunion.

A couple of my distant cousins were coasting down through the yard toward a fenced field on a random bike. I jumped on and tried and found I could coast down the hill just fine. I just had to jump off before I hit the fence because I couldn't stop.

I was probably 6 or 7 years old. But when I was 7 my parents bought me my first bike. It had training wheels, but I really didn't have a good place to ride it. Then one day one of my dad's brothers took me out in grandparents' front yard (the house we now own in Kentucky) and taught me how to ride.

The yard slopes down toward the road, and in those days the ditch along the road wasn't as distinct as it is now. Terry would run along side me holding onto the back of the seat as I gained momentum and then let go toward the end. I had already gotten the hang of coasting at that family reunion so it was fairly easy. Learning to stop before I hit the road or went across into the fence on the other side was the real trick.

And then one time I was yelling for Terry to let go and I heard him laughing...on the front porch of the house. He had basically given me a push and I was riding on my own from that point.

Boone was riding on his own on our new street last night. I'd gone out with him a couple of nights ago and ran alongside him using the buddy bar attached to his rear wheel. I was afraid to let go for fear of him hitting the road and getting the rash that comes with it. Knowing Boone that would be the end of his cycling days.

I know its me and not him that is afraid. Oh, he's afraid of getting hurt, but he's not afraid of riding the bike.

Last night Mandy went out with him and as Lily and I got into the street we looked down to see Boone pedaling like a fiend and Mandy running along behind as he wobbled and weaved toward Ridge Road.

I know I had a silly grin on my face.

They came back up the street and once he got going she just let go. He was all over the place, but he has figured out how to put his feet down when he starts to fall. He can ride once he gets going and he can stop on his own.

The last step is for him to learn how to get the bike going by himself. Tonight...

Thursday, July 8

What I Lost on Vacation

We spent a week in Kentucky just before Fourth of July. We took our climbing gear and our bikes. Mandy climbed a couple of days but didn't ride her bike at all.

I did manage to ride about 50 miles while we were in. I rode the 4 mile loop around Hatton Creek one morning and then did a long road ride from Hatton Creek to Clay City and then up to Slade via the back roads. In Slade I met up with Matt Tackett and we did another 22.5 miles at a really fast pace (for me, not Matt).

It was good to get out and ride there. But for some reason I've lost everything I had before I left Colorado.

I was riding a lot before we left. To and from work, to the new house, almost every day I was riding at least my 13 mile morning commute and a a lot of days twice that.

Tuesday I rode to work and was really sluggish. Now, I haven't really felt 100% in any respect since we've been back. I don't know if its the altitude change, allergies, my horrid diet on vacation or the time change. Maybe a combination...

Rode in this morning and thought I wasn't going to make it. The ride that was taking me between 52-55 minutes before vacation took me 1:05 this morning.

I think if I felt better I could snap right back to where I was before, but whatever is affecting me systematically is dragging my commute time down. As of this morning I'm going to try to eat better. I'd sell my soul for an apple right now.

Oh, and I was up about 6 lbs when I got back from vacation. I eat like a punk.