Tuesday, May 31

The Merry Month of May

I was going to get up early and ride this morning. I had a parental chore to take care of and was going to ride the seven miles to where my sister-in-law works to get Boone's shoes out of her Jeep, but when I looked out the fog was thick as pea soup.



I drove instead of riding. It just made sense.

By the time the day got rolling and the fog had burned off and converted to humidity I just didn't have the motivation to travel on beyond 500 miles toward 600. As of yesterday I was only at 512 and with the heat and the humidity I just didn't have it in me to pull off 88 miles.

So close, yet so far away.

May 2011 was not my greatest mileage ever. It was my second greatest mileage ever though.

I did ride about a mile to scout out some Sue's Hotdogs, but turns out Sue isn't in on Mondays and Tuesdays.

I'm calling my May mileage at 514.

I'm all ready to go in the morning for the Gorge loop. June will come in like a lion and I'll get my mileage rolling toward 600 and beyond with one of my old standbys at 50+ miles, a few big climbs and one rough-hewn tunnel.

Monday, May 30

How Not to Kill Your Readers

Our car trip went well, if a bit long winded. Got tired of riding in the car somewhere in Missouri, which is usual. Decided drivers' education must not be mandatory in Missouri.



Anyway, yesterday Mandy and I rode from Stanton (KY) to Whittleton Campground at Natural Bridge State Park where my family was camping. Mandy's parents had loaned us bikes and it was very enjoyable to be riding here again. There were so many things I had forgotten that makes riding in this area fantastic.

First, the roads are in fine condition, with very little of the freeze-thaw destruction we're used to in the high plains. Despite being from an economically depressed region, the roads are smooth and enjoyable.

Now, I had secretly dreaded riding here again because of the lack of shoulders, but what I quickly rediscovered was that regardless of the lack of cycling infrastructure, either steeped in necessity or a different attitude in the drivers themselves, most people either gave us more room, slowed down to pass or did both.

Even though we were tangled up in holiday traffic on narrow, curvy roads I actually started to feel pretty safe as we pedaled along. Heck, we were waving and smiling at most people passing us as we rode.

We visited with my family for a little while and then decided it was time to ride back. The main difference was about fifteen degrees of warmth. The sun beat down as we fought to create a cooling wind. A few shady stretches of road were welcomed relief, but for the most part the sun beat down on our tired bodies.



When we returned to Mandy's parents' house her dad, a Pavement's Edge reader, asked if I'd like to go for a ride. Feeling the surplus of oxygen in my blood I decided I could manage "a few easy miles" after I'd rehydrated and cooled off a little bit. Our trip to the campground and back had been just over 30 miles and I felt fine. I was thinking we'd do a five or ten mile ride and then I could relax. Well...

Tom suggested a couple of options and I chose an out and back ride to Spaas Creek. I'd always liked riding along North Fork and it seemed like it would be less busy than the holiday traffic thronged highway 11/15. We headed out, me on Tom's bike and he on Mandy's mom's baby, a Giant OCR1.

We cruised out of town and very shortly were rolling out into the farmland east of town. It was a nice ride with some shady sections and very low traffic. It was nice to have someone to ride with and we talked cycling and local stuff while we rode along easily, taking in the fine weather and the scenery.

As we rounded the bend and approached the intersection of State Highway 615 (North Bend Road) and State Highway 599 (Cane Creek Road) disaster struck.

Tom was cruising down an easy grade, hands at his sides as he sat upright in the saddle, in the center of the unlined pavement as we were chatting back and forth. I saw the gaping pothole and assumed he did as well, but when he turned to look over his shoulder as he made a comment I realized (too late) that he didn't see it.

He hit the ragged pavement, head turned, hands at his side coasting at 15-18 mph. I had no chance to say anything as he slammed bodily into the pavement. He didn't make a sound, and I feared he had knocked himself out. Luckily I was riding to the right and he sort of fell to the left or I would have plowed right into him.

By the time I slewed to a stop and turned back he was dragging himself to his feet and groaning: "She's going to kill me!"

Tom was going over every inch of the bike as I was trying to assess his injuries. He kept saying he was fine, but his left elbow was a mess of blood and jumbled skin. He had a core sample taken from the tip of his left index finger, there was a less serious patch of road rash on his leg and he was moving around too much for me to take in anything more.

I urged him out of the road so we could better look at him and the bike. The bike was fine except for some deep scratched on the fronts of the shift levers and Tom hadn't seemed to have broken anything, though the road rash on his elbow worried me.

We headed on down the road toward Spaas Creek. Tom knew a couple that lived a mile or so further and the wife was a retired nurse. So we pedaled easy to their house where Rita expertly cleaned and dressed his elbow wound and gave us a couple of cold beverages in the cool of the house.

After thanking Rita and Jack we continued on for Spaas Creek. Amazingly Tom was fine to go on and he rode well the rest of the trip. After seeing him go down so hard I was just happy to see him mobile.

When we had finally returned to their house I had ridden about 60 miles, putting me at 512 for the month of May.

Tom was fine, but really stiff and sore this morning. He managed a hike up to Natural Bridge before the family cookout and was in great spirits as usual. I'm thankful he didn't get hurt worse and glad we had a good ride despite the crash.

Gonna strike out and do something tomorrow so May 2011 will be my biggest monthly mileage ever.

Thursday, May 26

Ramming Speed Last Day Before Vacation

Yeah, you heard it. I don't have to be back at work until June 6.

Today had a weird ambiance. As I was riding away from work I actually looked back, as if it would be my last time seeing the place. Adding to my weird morbid finality is the fact that one of my coworkers will be leaving while I'm away. I bade her farewell before leaving and there just seemed to be more finality to the sentiment than the situation demanded.

Its probably nothing, but in case the Post Carbon Apocalypse kicks off while I'm away from the keyboard...sayonara.

In the spirit of finality, here are some thoughts I want to leave you with until we blog again:

Ride with purpose.

The choice to ride a bike is an amazing freedom we possess. Choose the bike for transportation, for utility and for fun. Use the strength in your body. Use the advantages of two wheels.

Ride with strength.

Find your strength. You may not be a sprinter. You may not wear the maillot à pois rouges. But find your niche. You may shine on cruiser rides around town. You may be able to ply the prairie all day on a loaded tour. You may haul groceries like its your job. There is a bike ride for everyone.

Ride with confidence.

Know your limitations, but don't be afraid to push the envelope. Know your rights and responsibilities on the road and then be bold.

Know your bike.

Take the time to learn the parts of your bike. At the very least you can converse with intelligence at your LBS. Learn simple maintenance, especially changing and patching tubes. You'll feel empowered and you'll increase your self-sufficiency.

Command your space.

Instead of "taking the lane" learn to command the space around you on the road. Make cars go where you want them to go, not the other way around. You have more to lose in bike vs. car. So make sure you are calling the shots, but with care and kindness, not recklessness and hostility.

And finally...

Ride your bike!

Wednesday, May 25

Not Exactly a Continental TravelCONTACT Tire Review

I dug a massive hunk of quartz out of my rear tire this morning. And in the process I was startled to see that my tire was a Swiss cheese surface of many quartz induced gashes. I probably dug out a dozen shards smaller than the one that had lacerated the Goo Tube on one end while poking into the daylight on the other. In addition to the shard filled gashes there were literally hundreds of similar slits and holes all over the tire.

I'm going to ride them out a little longer, at least until I can afford a good set of replacements. I could switch out to the old MTB tires, but I want slicks for my upcoming touring.

Okay, I'm going to stop right there and acknowledge how my last statement sounds. When you’re not swimming in money you make do.

Since I've had the tires, the Continental TravelCONTACTs, I have ridden a total of 3,290 miles. I know some of those miles were on the OBS, but the vast majority of those miles have been on the Cannonball and these tires. I'd estimate at least 2,500 miles on them and a lot of that has been hard (read: Ramming Speed Friday-esque) riding. I ply the pavements along the edges where glass, detritus and crud falls. I shortcut on dirt paths, over rocks and chunks of stuff. I jump curbs and drop off bumps. 2,500 miles on one of my bikes is considerable wear for tires.

I bought CST Compressors my Giant for the Triple Bypass and only got 600 miles out of them before they were completely trashed. I bought some Michelin Krylion carbon tires to replace the CSTs and within a couple of weeks had a nasty gash in one of them. I'm satisfied with two and a half k out of a set of tires. Unfortunately their slow demise is nicely coinciding with our (quickly) upcoming Eastern roadtrip. Cash is not exactly flowing over the Pavement's Edge. So I'll rotate back to an older set with fewer miles and less gaping holes. I'll for sure go with another set of Continentals when it comes to the exchange of cash at my LBS.

In other news…the impending potential hiatus is fast upon us. After tomorrow I may not blog much for a week or so. I'm not officially declaring hiatus, but its possible. Don't want you to think a there has been a delayed rapture effect if you don't hear from me before June 6th or so.

And then again I may have gigahertz of blogging to beat you over the head with. I hear that we may have loaner bikes and I may get into some hot and humid adventures in short but steep country east of the Mississippi. You just never know. I'm taking my Halt! just in case.

Tuesday, May 24

Tuesday's On: Bring the Rain! REVISITED

I looked out in the hall to see what my ride home this afternoon was going to be like and I saw this:



If I had wanted to live in a place where it rains every day I'd have moved to the Pacific Northwest, and not the arid Front Range of Colorado.

What gives?!

And then there are lions!

Maybe I should move back East where all I have to contend with are narrow, shoulderless roads, 50 mile commutes and maniac redneck drivers.

Nah! I'll stick it out here. It'll dry up directly.

Monday, May 23

Two-Wheeled Moto-Fascists Unraptured

Haha! We didn't really get "Raptured." That was just a clever ruse. I staged that photo.

And unfortunately none of the moto-fascists that terrorize my commute got "Raptured" either. Alas! The roads were as crowded as usual this morning.

In fact, I noticed the presence of moto-fascists on the Clear Creek Trail as my family unit rode home from Golden yesterday. No, no, no Silly Reader! They weren't driving on the MUP, they were riding bikes.

Yeah, its true. Sometimes MFers ride bikes.

Take for example one middle aged moto-fascists that tried to crowd Mandy and I out of the way at a bottleneck between West Lake and Lake Tabor in Wheat Ridge. There were about a dozen people and critters within a 15' radius of the southwest end of the bridge, all traveling different direction, all using different methods of locomotion and we slowed to let the throng part asunder. But Mr. Successful Moto-fascist apparently couldn't be troubled to slow down for pedestrians, dogs or other cyclist. He told Mandy outright: I'm going to pass you," and then he squeezed past me with inches to spare and then had to stop.

Mandy was...a bit cranked to say the least. So as we broke free of the mall crowd I jumped on the pedals, hauling Boone as I went into pursuit mode. I made a crazy shortcut move through the Prospect Park parking lot and got right on his rear wheel. I held on until Kona Lisa caught up and then I fell back so Mandy could drop the geezer. She passed strong as we headed up out of the greenbelt onto 41st and I followed close behind dropping him easily as well. Mandy remarked that it had felt good to leave him behind.

Ah, I digress...so anyway, how does a moto-fascist end up on two wheels?

Well, first of all, they drive across town to the MUP trailhead subjecting their noble steed to the indignity of being portaged on top or behind some $499 a month lease car. Typically the two-wheeled moto-fascist will be someone training for a triathlon and who claims that the cycling aspect is not their strong event. They went out and bought a high end bike with all the accessories and have still not paid off the credit card bill. Or it might be some guy who is going through a midlife crisis and bought a high end road bike in their hormone induced confusion.

The Two-wheeled Moto-fascist never calls out "On your left!" They do not yield to other trail users. They rarely ride on the road because "everyone's crazy." They move to the left to pass pedestrians even when there is no room, forcing other users off the trail. If they ride together they ride three and four abreast and do not move over.

Yes, the Two-wheeled Moto-fascists bring the menacing behavior of Four-wheeled Moto-fascists to the MUPs.

Why, oh why couldn't they have been taken? I just don't understand. I mean, I have a list of nominations for those who are "worthy." Not sure where I can submit it for the next "Rapture."

Saturday, May 21

Friday, May 20

Ramming Speed Friday: Speeding Toward Rapture

Appy-ollie-oggies for the late post. But here is your Ramming Speed Friday:

Four more days of work and then a brief interlude from slaving for the man. I don't know if I'll ride much while we're out of town. I'll be relying on the kindness of others and borrowing a bike if I do. We're not going to subject the longtails to the indignity of traveling 2,400 miles round trip hitched up to the car for a few piddly miles of riding in Eastern Kentucky. I would like to haul the OBS out and pound some singletrack. Maybe next trip...maybe at the last minute I'll decide to sling the OBS on the back anyway. Who knows?

Ramming Speed Fridays will most likely be suspended until the middle of July. I'm taking a bunch of Fridays off to create a series of three day weekends while the kids are out of town. Mandy and I will be really busy doing fun kidless stuff. I hope to do at least a couple of bike tours, some rock climbing, hiking and frolicking above treeline. Then in July I'll be solo for a couple of weeks as Mandy and the kids travel to New York to visit family.

Fourth of July I will summit Mount Evans on the Cannonball X from my front door. If it takes all day. If it takes every scrap of energy I have...I will do it. So I'm going to have to work hard in June to get my mileage up, to get comfortable again with long hauls in the saddle, to climbing and grueling upward into the sky. I haven't decided if I'll do it as an overnight trip or as a single day century push. We'll see on July 3.



Then the weekend after the Fourth I think I'm going to strike out for an overnight solo tour from home to Guanella Pass. I might even snag Bierstadt and/or Square Top in the process.

So you see, Dear Reader, my Fridays from now until deep into summer will include bike rides, just not fast ones. They will probably be slow and steady as we crawl across the landscape laden with camping gear.

Its that time of year, and things are getting crazy at work, so I'll have less leisurely time to ramble on forever about cycling tedium. Though I suspect I will have much tripping to report about as we're planning on squeezing in as much fun-tastic stuff as we can throughout the month of June.

If the post come more sparsely know it is because I'm riding my bike more.

And since the Rapture is coming after lunch today I'm looking forward to better riding conditions on the roads around the metro area. I'm hoping all the moto-fascists are taken up and I get "Left Behind."

Three Feet to Pass

I know what "three feet to pass" means. I know many motorists understand the concept because I've heard and read complaints about the "hardships" imposed on motorists while attempting to grudgingly comply with the three feet to pass law.

I have witnessed motorists passing from .0003 microns to 12-15 feet. From my long experience sharing the roads with cars (also grudgingly) I am well aware that many motorists believe that as long as they don't make contact with a cyclist or pedestrian (or dog, mailbox or any other inanimate object) that they have done no wrong. I'm here to say that giving space to non-motorists goes beyond a three feet to pass law or avoiding physical contact.

Yesterday morning approaching the last four way stop before NREL a man yakking on a cell phone while "driving" a Toyota FJ Cruiser cut me off within a couple of car lengths of the stop sign. I rolled to an angry stop less than three feet from his rear bumper. I made eye contact with him in his rear view mirror and then held up three fingers in the beam of our locked gazes. Then I made the "hang up your phone" gesture and believed the issue settled.

Of course he didn't. He started to get out of the car, but as soon as he had both feet on the pavement the SUV started to roll forward without him, perhaps making a bold statement. He jumped back in to put the car in park as I rolled into the left lane to go on through the intersection. "Have a nice day!" I called as I passed the middle aged, soft-bellied man wrestling with his gas-powered wheel chair. 

I knew he would pass me again before we reached the entrance to NREL so I was ready, but what I didn't anticipate was his response. He rolled up slowly beside me in the right lane and in a thick eastern European accent started blabbering about how he had given me plenty of room when he had passed. I assured him he had not and he kept trying to argue that he had given me plenty of room. Finally I just said pointedly: "Just hang up your phone and drive!" and turned off toward the dirt path as he continued into NREL.

I don't think he is a bad man. In fact, I wouldn’t even try to make the argument that he's a bad driver. I think he has a poor perception of how much space his behemoth takes up on the road. And that's where I think the crux of the problem lies in most cases. Its not that most motorists necessarily want to see how close they can get without killing a cyclist as they pass. I think instead that they just don’t have a concept of how big their machine is and how much road they’re taking up. The man yesterday morning seemed to truly believe he had been doing me a favor when he passed. But instead of going completely into the left lane he only half-heartedly eased over and then cut back into the right lane too soon. I think motorists fail to realize that bikes are moving with some speed down the road.

I don’t know of an easy solution to this conundrum. How do you instill in people a better concept of how much space they take up and how much space other people need? Obviously the NREL man and I have differing opinions about how much space a cyclist needs on the road.

So what does "three feet to pass" mean in real terms? After Colorado passed the law recently I remember hearing public testimony from a Boulder County special event involving bikes (the Sunrise Century I think) where residents of the canyon where the ride was going to occur complained that immediately after the law passed cyclists started riding up the canyon with yardsticks attached to their bikes. The problem for the motorists was that it prohibited them from passing the cyclists because if they had to maintain three feet to pass then there was no way they could do so legally on the canyon's curvy narrow roads.

While I understand their arguments, I can sympathize because I know cyclists don’t always consider the timing of their rides on bad roads, I ultimately don't think it matters if motorists agree with the law or not, or believe they should have to give cyclists room or not. There is no reason I motorist should pass closer than what is safe FOR THE CYCLIST. But then again, there is not a good reason to take a recreational ride up a tight, twisty canyon at rush hour when people just want to get home. Of course, you may be commuting, and then you ride when you have to ride. And that's why I believe ultimately the onus is on motorists not to kill cyclists. It would be really hard for a bicyclist to crash their bike into a car and kill the motorist inside.

For me, three feet doesn’t always feel like enough space between my bare legs and the fender of a speeding car. If the car is traveling less than 20 miles an hour then three feet of space is reasonably adequate, assuming the motorist isn’t texting, fiddling with the radio or snoozing. But when a car passes you on your bike at a high rate of speed even ten feet doesn’t feel like enough. So sometimes three feet isn’t enough, and I've been passed more than once by cars traveling extremely fast and extremely close to me.

It seems most motorists assume if they keep the car between the lines (mostly), don’t hit anything with their car and if they don’t get caught driving five miles an hour over the speed limit then they are doing their civic duty and should not be forced to slow down, move over or actually pay attention to the road ahead, beside or behind them. I (in)frequently drive myself, and have done so for about 21 years now. I think I am qualified to make this statement with some authority as a motorist. Its human nature. Its how we're wired. Our minds ease past the boundaries and ratchet up our comfort levels as long as there are no obstructions to that movement. If we get a ticket, we slow down. If we crash into a telephone pole we pay more attention to the road…for a little while.

The bottom line is this: there is a "three feet to pass" law and no matter what a person believes, the law should be followed. Common courtesy and common sense would say give more room or slow down to pass. Nothing is so important to justify injuring or killing a cyclist.

Thursday, May 19

Thursday Interlude: Race Across the Sky Review

I saw the 2010 Race Across the Sky film first, and the 2009 film just recently. When I posted my review of the 2010 film someone commented that it was exactly the same as the first film, and too long because of it. I loved the 2010 film for various reasons, which you can read HERE. So I was compelled to go back and watch the original film.

The fact that I was camping with my family in Leadville during the 2009 race and that we missed seeing Lance Armstrong on his race to the finish by less than fifteen minutes, and that we had friends who were volunteers at the race that day was enough to make me want to see the 2009 film. But the second film had evoked emotions in me. I fought back tears at the theatrical debut. The 2010 film awoke a desire in me to do the Leadville 100.

I reserved a copy from the public library. It took a couple of months for my turn to roll around, but when I did I pedaled eagerly to the local branch and left cradling the DVD box in my hands. I was excited to watch it.

I waited until I had time to dedicate to the film, to pay it the attention I believed it was going to deserve. I had such a good feeling about it that I didn't care if both films were exactly the same. I still wanted to relive the experience of the Leadville 100 through the magic of cinema.

As the scenes unfolded and the ride snaked out from downtown I remembered the rainy weather we woke up to that morning in our campsite along Turquoise Lake. It was cold and damp that day. I remember thinking how miserable the riders must have been struggling at elevation, fighting the cold, the wind, the rain and mud. I wanted no part of the ride that day.

We had planned on hiking up to an 11er in the area, but the ride route prohibited us from making the hike and I was a bit annoyed even. Instead we creeped to the upper end of the lake and hiked up a valley that was not impacted by the ride that day. We only saw a few stray riders here and there as we drove from one end of the lake to the other.

We found out a few days later through the wonders of facebook that our friends from Kentucky, Steve and Jill, had been in Leadville. We had missed seeing them there, but got to visit for a couple of hours in Denver before they continued on down the road.

As I watched the film two years later I marveled again as I saw their faces in the crowd alongside the start area, and then again at the end as Lance rolled in to the finish.

If I had not seen Race Across the Sky 2010 I would have been satisfied with the original Race Across the Sky, but since I saw them in reverse order the Lance effect didn’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, I'm a Lance fan based solely on It's Not About the Bike, but while I was excited to see the original film partially because he was in it his presence alone didn’t carry the film. I was much more interested in the personal stories portrayed in the 2010 movie.

The one compelling scene in the this film was when Lance was approaching the turnaround at Columbine Mine, when he had left Dave Weins far behind and he climbed alone along the crest of the alpine ridge, with nothing but grand space behind. The moment was captured from a helicopter with a great angle, Lance against a magnificent background. It was an inspiring moment. It was poetry on the screen. And for a moment you were there with him on that ridge, racing Lance Armstrong across the sky.

I would recommend the 2010 film over the 2009, but its still worthwhile to watch the 2009 film. It’s a good portrayal of the Leadville 100 and allows you to see a historic cycling moment as Lance comes back from his second place win in 2008 behind champion Dave Weins to crush the record while finishing first on a flat tire. A must see!


Clear night before the race


Hagerman Pass Road the day of the race

Wednesday, May 18

No One Has a Right to Drive

My life is too much work, not enough commute. How many people can say that with feeling?
 
The rain is coming back. Is this Denver or Portland? No matter, I will pedal on. I will skim across the surface of the oily runoff on my way to and fro.
 
Its hard to keep my mind from dwelling on the cyclist who was struck and killed in north Denver early Monday morning. David Mark Pickett, a 50 year old bicycle commuter who was preparing for this year's Ride the Rockies, was struck early in the morning on May 16. He was traveling to his job at AT&T and was found near the intersection fo 46th and Josephine in the shadow of I-70. The neighborhood where Pickett was killed is not the best. We don’t know the character of the person who struck him with their car. We don't know if it was a gangbanger showing off, a distracted and tired shift worker headed home, a soccer mom in too big a hurry to stop and see what she had hit, or an RTD bus driver. It could have been any of them. We just don’t know right now.
 
Regardless, the person who killed Pickett and fled the scene committed a crime. It doesn't matter if they succumbed to their new car smell, or if they had a seizure and lost control, they were responsible for the death of a human being who was doing nothing to harm another soul.
 
Closer to my old Kentucky home, a cyclist was killed in Woodford County on the same day. No charges had been filed against the driver because obviously the cyclist was at fault for not wearing the approved wardrobe. I have issues with this because I was taught as a young driver that if I were to hit something with the car it would always be my fault. If the motorist was traveling too fast in the dark to stop for an obstacle in the road, especially an obstacle traveling in the same direction, then the motorist was traveling TOO FAST.
 
Driving a car isn't an activity to take lightly, or an activity in which all people have an inherent right to participate. Monica Chavez had no right being behind the wheel of a car. In getting behind the wheel she exhibited reckless and selfish behavior. People who are caught driving after having consumed alcohol should have their license taken away. Its that simple. People who are habitually and chronically in accidents or who violate traffic laws with abandon should lose their licenses. They make the roads more unsafe. Driving a single occupancy vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter, is NOT a right. Too many people continue to be allowed to drive after proving they do not the have judgment or ability to do so safely.
 
And the anti-cycling contingent will scream and pound their self-righteous chests demanding that cyclists be licensed. Licensing doesn’t seem to help much to deter motorists from breaking the law: rolling through stop signs, running red lights, speeding, passing too closely to cyclists, hitting and killing cyclists, etc. etc. Mandatory insurance and seatbelt laws don't prevent accidents any more than helmets do.
 
There is no reason a reckless or angry driver can give that would justify endangering a pedestrian, cyclist or other motorist on the roads. It doesn’t matter if the cyclist is breaking a law, hard to see, cursing and flipping off cars or any other conceivable reason. It doesn't matter if the motorists hates cyclists, doesn’t think they should be on the roads, doesn't agree with the laws, believes cyclists should pay fees and greater taxes or any other belief. Motorists do not have the authority to exact roadside justice on cyclists. Motorists do not have the right to harass cyclists , pedestrians or other motorists. Its bad manners and in many states its against the law.
 
As I've said previously, when I got out on my bike I'm not playing around. I use my bike as my primary mode of transportation and I expect to receive respect from other road users. I know that's expecting a lot, but I feel I am entitled to as much respect as anyone else that uses the road, not less because I'm on a bike.

Sunday, May 15

Failed Attack on Boulder

I had presumed Indiana north of 86th would be a nice rural ride. From where I live it's the obvious northern route to Boulder.

So I struck out this afternoon on Mandy's Giant. I went fast and light, no tools, no extra tubes, no food, no FreeLoaders or FreeRadical, no Bean...light.

I cranked north pretty fast, skirting Standley Lake on the south side via 86th and then turning north onto Indiana. The road draped over the landscape in a straight line like a ribbon as far as I could see.

My hopes for a quiet ride were dashed when the first cluster of fast moving Priuses and SUVs blasted past, hardly giving me the required three feet and refusing to slow down.

As I pedaled on the misty ambiance over Rocky Flats to my left set the mood. I had to deal with the melancholy or give up. The foothills were socked in with thick gray clouds. Only their dark bases showed, portraying them as more massive than they actually are, giving the impression of huge mountains thrusting high into the cloud cover. But I was digging the prairie landscape. I've been itching to ply the prairie like an ignorant settler. I got my fix today for sure. And no injuns.

After a few rolling climbs I finally reached 120th. A quick jog to the west dumped me onto McCaslin and the bottom dropped out of the world as I rolled onto the revered Morgul-Bismarck route. For the remainder of my ride out I would be traversing hallowed cycling ground.

As soon as I turned on McCaslin I was on a runaway train screaming down toward the town of Superior. The road was far superior to Indiana with wide marked bike lanes into town, through and out the other side along highway 36.

Leaving Superior there is a nice descent through a prairie valley framing an impressive vista of the jagged mouth of Eldorado Canyon to the west. The clouds had finally started to creep up the slopes of the foothills exposing diaphanous shrouds of snow. I debated the wisdom of doing another descent knowing I was going to have to climb McCaslin back up to 120th. But the road ahead was so inviting I couldn't stop.


The mouth of Eldorado Canyon (Oct '09)

And then I had reached highway 93. I decided instead of continuing on to Boulder I would retreat and come back another day to lay siege to the hippie capital of Colorado. I had been riding for an hour and fifteen minutes and had covered 19 miles. I felt good about my speed, but I was dreading the climbs between me and the warmth of home. And I felt the rolling hills of Indiana deep in my quads.

Surprisingly the climb back up Marshall Road to Superior was mild, but I still had the gruel of McCaslin and the stress-related weight gain of Indiana to put down.

McCaslin was defeated with a granny gear and sheer determination. I felt the burn at the top and actually took a couple of minutes off the bike at the top of Indiana to recover form the biggest climb of the day.


Looking south on Indiana from 120th

Indiana went pretty fast with little traffic on the return. I haven't had an x-ray in awhile so I figured passing by Rocky Flats just this once wouldn't hurt me too bad.

The last climb up to 86th almost had me in tears, but I found my legs when I turned into the slick bike lane and headed east. The last few miles passed quickly and I was back home after nearly 38 miles in 2 hours and 43 minutes. My average speed was 14 mph, which is pretty good for an old commuter over 38 miles.

Today's ride was a dose of reality. I'm not going to go out and just ride a century loaded down with touring gear. I knew that, but I needed to feel it in my legs and fight the idea in my mind. We've got a couple of weeks until June and then a month to ramp up the efforts and pull off an amazing bike-tour from home. Today helped me see where I'm at and where I need to be.

Saturday, May 14

Watering My Schemes



On Wednesday and Thursday we got a good soaking. Arvada got 1.8 inches in 48 hours. It has been good for our apple trees, garden and our yard.

I rode on Wednesday Bean-less into the fray. I was pummeled by pellets of ice as I entered Golden on my morning ride, and had a cold wet ride home after I dressed down believing the weather had eased in the afternoon.

I actually enjoyed my rainy commutes. Rain is so rare here in the arid high plains that its become quite the novelty for me.

Thursday I woke feeling unable to go to work. I called (texted) in and hung with Bean at home. The sound of the rain on our roof was soothing to my work-battered brain.

Friday was a repeat of the day before but the weather was much improved. In the afternoon I mustered the muster to sling the fleet of bikes up on the stand one at a time and do some routine maintenance. The Ute and the X both needed some brake work and on a test ride I finally figured out the trick for getting my chain onto the smallest chainring. This is significant because I can now start planning some climbs with confidence. Short list time.

I briefly entertained the idea of sliding up to Lookout Mountain this morning but then I remembered that Road & Bridge is in the midst of a hard core repaving project up there. As soon as they're done I'll head back up there for the first time in about a year.

Anyway, back to that short list. In June Mandy and I will be free to do some kid-less traveling around the state. I'd love to make a jaunt up to South Dakota to do the Mickelson Trail, but I just don't think we'll be able to afford the expense. But we will be able to do some bike touring right out of our front door. I've scheduled some days off in June to give us a few three day weekends so I'm shooting for mileages that work for two or three days.

Building on our experiences in June I think we can plan some shorter trips with the kids in the late summer and early fall. The conundrum is the lack of economic (read: free) camping options within an easy day's ride from our house.

If we can get a little experience with the kids then maybe we can plan something more significant next summer. You see where I'm going with this?

Friday, May 13

Justifying the Risk: Why It's Okay to Bike With Your Kids

How do I justify transporting my children by bicycle on busy roads? While that question is rarely posed in such a civil manner to me, it's a question I often receive and/or see written upon the faces of those who witness our family in transit on a daily basis.

First, I don't really need to justify it to anyone else. The only people I truly feel answerable to in regards to my parenting decisions are my children, my wife and to God. But lately I've been pondering the topic and decided it would be a worthy exploration on the Pavement's Edge.

While I don't feel an obligation to justify my decisions to persons outside my family I do feel a great sense of responsibility to keep my children safe while providing them with a rich environment to develop and thrive. This is my duty as a parent. The welfare of my children is something I take very seriously.



One thing I realized at a very young age was that people tolerate different degrees of risk and judge the risks taken by others with a more critical eye. While I never felt like a reckless youth, I was often encouraged to make different decision regarding my recreational pursuits and my tendency to wander alone across the face of the earth. Because I was often challenged concerning my choices I have always analyzed them intently.


ON BUILDING A BASE

My mother rode with me in a '70s era bike seat on narrow and curvy two lane roads in rural southeastern Kentucky. No helmet, no lights, no bike lanes. We survived. I can't say for certain that riding in that seat has nurtured my current love of cycling and all fo the experiences that have helped me to develop into the person I am today. I can say it sure didn't hurt.

Since then I've had literally 30 years of experience riding my own bike on the road. I've been engaged in the process since day one. I've ridden daily in traffic in three American cities with populations over 100,000. I've ridden countless miles on backroads, trails, bike paths, bike lanes, in traffic and in the suburban landscape. I've been struck by a car exactly two times, both minor incidents. Those two instances and the numerous close calls I've had were mitigated by my constant diligence while traveling on the road. I'm not saying I am perfect, but I am saying I take riding a bike on the road very, very seriously.

I'm a cautious person. To say I err on the side of caution is an understatement. As a novice whitewater kayaker and then as a recreational rock climber I expanded my comfort zone very, very slowly. I did not take ANY risks initially in either pursuit slowly gaining experience and confidence until I reached the point with both activities where I was comfortable engaging in them as a lone participant. I eventually became a rock climbing guide and for a few years I assumed the responsibility of taking families and groups of children into the forest to hike and climb while maintaining a safe, though not risk free, experience.


ON COST ANALYSIS

Is it better for my child to ride on the back of my bike with flashing LED lights, reflectors and my hyper-vigilance protecting them or to be lashed into an SUV traveling at least five miles an hour over the speed limit, with a parent behind the wheel trying to juggle wireless devices and coffee cup while putting on makeup or lost in the day's stresses?

I'm not saying SUVs are more inherently dangerous than bikes, but I am saying the perception that they are safer is flat out false. How many children each year are injured in automobile accidents? How many children are injured each year as passengers on bicycles?

I value experience and knowledge based on first hand participation far above comfort and a sheltered environment. I'd rather be out hiking in a thunderstorm than sitting inside watching a sitcom. There are inherent risks in all activities. The general perception however, seems to be that static or passive activities are more safe and more beneficial than dynamic and fluid activities. I've always been willing to accept that this may not be true. And in doing so I've experienced so much in life that is good and interesting and worthwhile.

I want to instill this value in my children. I don't want them to be complacent, or to shy away from adversity or challenges in life. Life is not a couch trip, and the couch isn't always a safe place after all. Most definitely the couch is not a place where we learn resilience and self-reliance.


Put Down the Camera and Stop My Bleeding!

Children also need to learn how to manage pain and consequence. You cannot learn these things by avoiding pain and avoiding risky situations. And what better way to learn these things than under the supervision and care of competent parents. And while I am mostly referring to physical risk I truly believe all of this translates to "softer" activities related to functioning within society. My own self-worth and confidence increased tremendously when I became comfortable as a rock climbing guide.

To take your children into situations that have inherent risks demands competence. If you do not have good judgment and the skills and knowledge necessary to protect your family then it may not be appropriate to engage in activities that may result in disaster. You should never undertake an activity that's clearly above your abilities. It's okay to get in a little over your head, but you should always avoid going too far, taking on too much risk.



Becoming competent at risk assessment is a long process for many people. It can take years and years of slowly expanding your comfort zone and knowledge base. And for some people it may not be appropriate to take certain risks, as they are not comfortable or competent in managing those risks alone. While working as a climbing guide I saw many parents who would never be comfortable tackling an activity like rock climbing with kids on their own. And in hiring a guide they were making an intelligent risk assessment and trusting someone else who did have the confidence to lead them in an activity with inherent and complex risk factors.

I want my children to enjoy a lifestyle of everyday adventures, to be engaged in the world around them and to know how to find their way through life on their own, without being overly dependent on others. By exposing them to new experiences and guiding them into knowledge and confidence I feel as if I am giving them the greatest practical gift I can. I'm teaching them to be self-reliant and forward thinking. I'm enticing their little brains to grow and flourish.



Over the past year I've seen a gradual increase in acceptance by my wife of transporting the children by bike. Its not that she didn't approve of it a year ago, but that she's gone from being somewhat indifferent to the idea of family utility cycling to having fully embraced it and taking ownership of it. She takes every opportunity she can to choose the bike over the car and she does it because she has found the value in making the choice.

I was intrigued by her long transformation and so we talked at length about it the other night. We agree that having the longtail bikes has made family cycling less of a chore and more of a joy. Its more convenient to jump on the Ute or the Xtracycle and zip down to the store and back. There's no wallowing in traffic, searching for a parking space and walking halfway across town from the other side of the parking lot. We save money on gas and get to ride our bikes all the time now. And we rarely plan for or make time to ride recreationally. But it just so happens we are riding so much more than before the investment in the longtail cargo bikes.

But how does risk factor into choosing bikes when your family is involved? We've rationalized it to ourselves and our children by weighing the pros and cons in the context of our collective experience and knowledge. In addition to reducing the hassle of most of our trips away from home, cycling instead of driving has benefited our family in other ways. The benefits are greater in choosing the bike over the car.



We've had the wonderful opportunity to explore our town and neighborhood utilizing the amazing bicycle infrastructure of our Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community. And as we've pedaled around running errands and exploring new routes to our destinations we've spent an amazing amount of quality time together as a family.

One of the greatest benefits is that our kids enjoy going by bike. They look forward to our trips, whether utilitarian or recreational. The ask and beg to ride. And it makes us happy to know that they enjoy being active and that they are motivated to use their own power to get out and play.

So how do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Hopefully our children are learning responsibility as road users, first as blossoming cyclists, but eventually as motorists. They both understand trail etiquette and hand signals. They know road signs and their functions and they are participating in traffic, not detached behind a car window, but in the open air and aware. They know safety on the road and they will continue to learn about traffic and its flows in the years until they begin driving. We're teaching them about choice and the reasons we are choosing the bike over the car. We talk about our environmental impact and the cost of operating the car.

Over the past few years we've developed protective strategies for cycling as a family. We know what obvious dangers to avoid and we know how to manage ourselves on the roads as we go. We didn't dive into heavy traffic from the get-go. We've moved in increments to a fully functional utility cycling family.

We've also moved beyond doubting the validity of our choice. We're enjoying the same right to the roads that we all share as citizens, and we're doing it in the way that is most appropriate for our family. The choices we make do not impede or adversely impact anyone else. We're living more sustainably, more self-sufficiently and we're having fun doing it.


ON FINDING YOUR OWN LEVEL

I can't say that our choices would be the best choices for your family. I can say that there are families that are more cyclo-intensive. There are families that do not own even a single car like we do. And then there are families that traverse the globe on foot or by bike or other means with their kids trailing along with great success.

In our lives the inherent risk in traveling upon the road has not magically disappeared, but we have embraced the conditions we've found and have learned to mitigate any danger we are confronted with in an effort to gain valuable experience and knowledge for ourselves and our children.

And assessing risk is only one component of any trip planning exercise. The pure logistics of hauling kids, gear and yourself to a far destination on a bike with only your built in people power can be overwhelming. That's why risk assessment should be something you do instinctively without having to sit down and run the numbers.

I think this is a topic that should be further explored. Perhaps I'll delve a little more into the specifics in the near future. Maybe I share some technical, step by step, bullet list-type information on how to assess the real risk involved in traveling on bikes with children and how to develop the skills necessary to be a good risk taker.

Wednesday, May 11

On Your Left

A few days ago I mentioned to my blond headed passenger that we could possibly see rabbits as we tooled along the bike path. I could sense her demeanor change to that of heightened awareness. We went on that day and never saw a fuzzy bunny, but the next day we were cruising along and I caught sight of one in my peripheral vision.

"A rabbit!" I cried as the bunny took off. We passed, watching the critter skitter away in the undergrowth on the side of the trail. At first Bean didn't say a thing, but after a few moments she said: "Dad, you didn't say 'On your left.'"

I chuckled, so now we always call out "On your left!" to the bunnies along the trail. She giggles and I smile each time we do.

This morning I was Bean-less because if the weather. It was a lonely ride in, but a pleasant meditation encased within waterproof nylon and the white noise of a more solid than usual precipitation pattern.

As pellets of ice bounced off of my sleeves I approached a walker on the path. She was a middle-aged woman, walking toward me from the bridge between the lakes just east of I-70 and she held up a hand in a motionless wave. I tossed up a hand to return the greeting and she stopped and spread her fingers. She wanted me to stop.

Before I could check myself I felt my face change in conjunction with my mounting frustration. I didn't want to stop. I was running behind. Nothing going on ahead of me would surprise nor defeat my commuting efforts.

I put a foot down and glanced back as she turned. I had come to a stop just a few feet after passing her.

She pointed west and said: "The bridge is really slick."

Forgetting my manners I began: "I know..." but quickly realized that here was a person acting as a good neighbor, and offering me no harassment or hostility. I added, as sincerely as I could: "Thank you!" and we both continued on.

For whatever reason the interaction got me thinking about Lily encouraging me to exhibit good trail etiquette even to the lesser creatures that use the MUP. I regretted my initial feelings of annoyance at the friendly woman and ALMOST turned around to go back and apologize. I know, I know! I should not have assumed she was intentionally slowing me down or inhibiting my travels. I should have known...

Anyway, the event, and the bunny encounters has inspired me to increase my trail etiquette intensity.

Gigantic Dreams

Last night I accidentally discovered that I can ride Mandy's Giant road bike. Yeah, we finally took the training wheels off. Seriously, she suggested I might ride it to work today pulling the bike trailer if the weather were to be splashy ('twas, and mixed with snow).

So I went out to try out the bike and see if I could raise the seat high enough. Turns out the bike isn't as small as I have always thought. I kinda scared myself as the Giant screamed down the street whilst I hung on for dear life. Wow! I miss riding like that. It's been almost a year since I slaughtered my Giant.

I decided not portage Bean this morning so she caught a ride to Golden. I rode the Cannonball…stoic against the post-season winter onslaught. The only hitch in my giddy-yap occurred when I reached work and went into the locker room (after months of showering at home) and discovered I couldn't find the key to my lock. Thankfully I have some spare deodorant in my cube and I had brought a fresh towel with me today.

It was an oddly pleasant ride, though lonely, as I rolled through the drizzly snow, with a backdrop of spring green. I always love riding through town in Golden, and I had detoured through town in lieu of plodding through Mines so I could stop at the grocery and pick up some half-n-half for coffee at work.

I watched Stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia and was immediately unimpressed. My least favorite aspect of professional cycling is the team time trial. Its sad to hear about the Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt's death after a crash during Stage 3. I can't imagine where the riders have to look to find the motivation to ride today.

However, as a result of the TV coverage of the Giro I'm hoping to get out this summer and photograph and write about some local cycling events. The Pillar to Post race on Lookout Mountain is going to be rescheduled and I hope to be able to attend. The Tour de Cure down in the South Platte is this coming weekend, and then we also have the Triple Bypass in July and the Quiznos Pro Challenge in August. I think the Quiznos race will be an incredible opportunity to see some amazing cycling.

I'm feeling stronger and that's inspiring me to ride harder. Lookout Mountain was calling to me yesterday as I left work. Soon. Afterward...Evans.



An empty seat on the Cannonball fills with slush

Monday, May 9

Happy Commutes

I've been very fortunate for the past three years to have a very bicycle friendly place of employment. I can keep my bike in my cubicle (even my Xtracycle!), there are showers and a locker room and my management is amenable to me dragging my bike through the office going to and from.

I do my best to keep a low profile. I use the service elevator and lock the bike up outside at the covered racks or in a rarely used stairwell when the weather is nasty. I try not to make a scene getting the bike in and out of the office and I do my best to minimize the wet and/or smelly clothing hanging around my cube.

My coworkers are tolerant at the least, and many are supportive and interested in my cycling. There are three or so other employees in my division that bike commute from time to time. I'm the only full time commuter I know of in the building though.

Each year there is a breakfast station out front on Bike to Work Day. I occasionally see citizens about the building wearing cycling attire and click-clacking around in their cycling shoes. The building isn't in the most bike accessible location in town, being at a much greater altitude than everything else in the area, but there is a bike path and some good bike routes that go right past.

I'm extra fortunate to work in a place that is in close proximity to some great cycling destinations, like Lookout Mountain Road, Green Mountain and North and South Table Mountains. The most direct route home for me would be OVER South Table. This summer I may break the OBS back out for some MTB commutes.

All of this has been the best incubator for my evolution as a cyclists. Oddly I made a hard left from my path as a recreational road cyclist and sometime mountain biker. These days I am a hard core, flabby-bellied family utility cyclist and full-time bike commuter.

As the temps climb as summer approaches I am mentally preparing myself to go back to lugging clothes and toiletries to and from work so I can shower here and not smell so bad after my commutes. Winter was kind with mild temps that were conducive to pre-commute showers.

I tackled an asinine "Winter Commuter Challenge" not so long ago to artificially introduce hardship into my daily commute just at a time when nature threw a heinous hardship at me in the form of deep snow over the landscape and absolutely frigid temperatures. I discovered in that week that I could simplify my life and go back to an earlier iteration of my cycling self and find happiness. I drew away from cyclo-centric behavior and dress so I would look and feel like a normal person again. I have enjoyed that discovery for some time now and I do not relish going back to packing clothes to and from work and rushing to get a shower at the eleventh hour.

I'm thankful I have the option no doubt. I will embrace the change of the season because warmer weather means less complicated preparations the night before, more comfortable clothing for riding and the chance to work on my farmers tan.

I've been able to wear shorts on my most recent two morning commutes which has been really nice.

Saturday, May 7

Weekend Adventures: Apex Bike Rodeo

This morning we helped the Glens move from Lakewood to Arvada. They'll be much happier here and we'll all eat better.

After we got the piano into the new place(I'm not kidding) we took a break and shuffled the kids up to the Apex Park and Rec District's 2011 Bike Rodeo. It was from 10am to noon and we got there around eleven o'clock. We hardly got through all the stations before they started breaking everything down, but we had a blast and got some cool stuff.



First we registered and then the kids all got fitted for new (free) helmets.



We moved over to the safety inspection station and I was happy to see the guy pass both of my kids' bikes without having to do anything to them. He also commented on my Campy bike cap. Its identical to the one Dave wears in Breaking Away.

They did a turtle race, obstacles courses and got to decorate their bikes. We moved toward the end and the kids got brains splattered on their feet during the helmet demonstration.







Lastly we got a free hot dog and a drink and we all sat in the shade and talked about how much fun it had been.

The day was warm, and sunny, and a perfectly blistering environment for seasonally pale skin.

Apex and the sponsors put on a great event and it seemed like there was a great turnout. Next year we'll be more involved as Bike Arvada but also for the kids.

Tonight the kids and I rode our bikes over to the the Glens' parents/grandparents' house for dinner. Mandy was doubled booked, as usual of late, so it was just me and the kids. Boone was poking so slow on the way over I threatened to turn around and go home. I mean, the kid was just coasting on Garrison. I told him it would take us a week at the pace we were going. He said he didn't want his legs to ache. I said there was no danger of that.

We did turn around, but he promised I'd not be able to keep up with him if we went on so we turned back toward our destination and he mostly kept his promise.

We rode home along Clear and Ralston Creeks as the sun was setting. The swarms of mosquitoes made riding difficult, so we exited for the back streets through Olde Town and back along Ridge Road home.

It was a nice night for a ride for sure.

Friday, May 6

Ramming Speed Friday: It's All Training Edition

Speed.

Its hard being a cyclist without standing up on the pedals at some point and attacking a real or imaginary adversary. As silly as it is, there are times you just have to drop that other commuter because you think you can. Gravity drags us down into speedy descents and we apply our own inner power to the pedals to maximize the opportunity. We climb hills in our granny gear so we can rocket down the other side with our cheeks flapping in the wind. There's just something about being on a bike that, at times, encourages movement at a faster pace.

James Osborne, blogger at One Less Car: Denver, has suggested a cargo bike race this summer. Of late I have been turning over the idea of somehow getting cargo bike owners in the Metro area, or along the Front Range in general, together. While I typically don't get all fired up for races, even though I am a closet alley cat, I love the idea!

So there are questions.

A) If its a cargo bike race, what type of cargo should be involved?

2) How far do we race?

Tres) Where, exactly, do we race?

Next) How do we round up as many cargo bike owners in the area for the festivities?

E) What do we call the thing?

Think on these things. Please comment. I know I will ponder, plan and scheme.

Ramming Speed Fridays are going to turn into cargo bike race training. It can't hurt, and ultimately it will build me up for Leadville in 2012.

As the weather improves the urge to ride grows. I want to take some longer rides. I want to climb Lookout Mountain Road, Genesee Mountain or maybe even Mount Evans. On my way to Leadville next year I will ascend Guanella Pass, Berthoud Pass, Kingston Peak, Squaw Mountain and others. I want to get back on the OBS and grind up some singletrack.

Mount Evans shone in the early morning sun over a dim landscape this morning. It called to me, shimmering white snow rising into the sky where the air is devoid of oxygen and the horizon slips away in all directions in a curve.

I think I may have conned...vinced Mandy to ride up Genesee and Lookout Mountains with me in June. We'll be kid-free and I won't have to be to work until 9am, so we can take some long rides around the metro area and some short climbs into the foothills before work. The weekends we'll rack up the miles and miles and miles. We'll finally get some good touring under our belts. And our belts will become slack and we'll have to buy new skinny jeans for Fall.

Whole Bean

On Tuesday as we biked past West Lake Lily said: "Don’t throw me in that water!"

I replied: "Okay, but you have to be very good."

Lily: "No!"

Me: "Then I'm going to throw you in the water."

She giggled.

Wednesday as we pedaled past the lake she said: "Dad, don’t throw me in that water!"

Me: "Okay, but you have to be very, very good."

Lily: "I'm not going to be very, very good!"

Me: "Okay, then I'm going to throw you in the water."

Yesterday Bean said: "Don’t throw me in the water!"

Me: "Okay, but you have to be very, very, very good."

Lily: I won’t be very, very, very good."

Me: "Then I'm going to throw you in the water."

Lily: "NO!"

This morning she said again: "Dad, don’t throw me in the water."

Me: "Okay, but you have to be very, very, very, very good."

Lily: "I'm not going to be very, very, very, very good!"

So I pulled the bike over by the lake.

Lily: "AHHHH!!!"


She's racked up more miles than either of her parents this week. I take her to the babysitter on the Xtracycle and the babysitter takes her home. Then Lily rides up to school with Mandy on the Ute and back with Boone. She gets in about 27-29 miles a day when Mandy picks up Boone on the bike while Mandy and I only get 18-19 each.

Stay tuned for another edition of Ramming Speed Friday this evening.

Wednesday, May 4

Human Power: The Cure for What Ails Us

The full title for this blog used to be "From the Pavement's Edge: Human Powered Transportation." I went back to "Taking the Lane" because there is a deeper meaning in that statement for me beyond cycling. I think in life we have to take the lane. Excelling in life comes about by staying in the stream of things and not on the fringe.

But back to "Human Powered Transportation" and my long held philosophy that human power is superior to other sources of energy: I have always loathed four-wheelers, jet skis, gas powered lawn mowers and engines in general. As I've discovered more about my own wiring I realize a lot of that has to do with said wiring, but I also have regarded such conveyances with disdain because they lack any kind of purity of movement. They add complexity to an overly complex world. I've discovered that what I really want out of life is simplicity. I will probably never attain the simplicity I desire, short of living into the Post Carbon Apocalypse, but I'm going to make an attempt.

There is no satisfaction in attaining a destination by use of a motor. But knowing you crossed a great gulf of open space using only your body, or attaining great heights with just the power in your own limbs is a greatly satisfying and pure feeling. Nothing surpasses that accomplishment.

So what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Nothing. Buy your tea from local sources.



On Saturday Mandy and I were discussing our garden. At the time there was no garden, only the idea of a garden inhabiting our future at some point. Mandy made the statement that we needed to borrow or rent a roto-tiller. Now, I've been struggling with the prospect of doing keyhole gardens instead of a traditional backyard tilled garden. But I realize I've probably waited too long this year to get going on it. We don't have the resources to pull together to build them and to build the soil properly, nor do we have the capital to dedicate to the endeavor. So for this year we are going to go with a rectangular format.

As we sat discussing the matter the thought began to grow in my head that we might not need a roto-tiller. I wandered up out of the recliner, put on my shoes, slipped on a long sleeved shirt and walked with increasing purpose out the shed to retrieve the mattocks. Within five minutes of the roto-tiller statement I was hacking up a 10 X 15 section of the yard. Mandy joined me a few minutes later and without saying a word started turning earth with the shovel.

In less than an hour we had a 10 X 15 plot turned with compost worked in (and we had some help). I don’t know if we did it correctly, but we did it. And now the hard part begins.



As we strive toward resilience it is these type of activities that shape my outlook and my world view. Its not just about the bikes. The bikes are a major component only because transportation is a major component of our modern lifestyles. But the garden, buying locally, the cutting back of resource consumption…these things are truly the important things for us to engage in. The mindset is pervasive and continually invading new compartments of our lives.

It is an adventure every day. My commute had become mundane, and when the prospect of including my four year old daughter in the mix arose I embraced it fully. Three days we've commuted together on the Xtracycle. Three days I've had a great companion and a great experience. She sings the first verse "Blue Skies and Rainbows" over the roar of traffic as we pedal along the I-70 frontage road. She sings other songs as we cruise through quiet neighborhoods. She cheers me up as we sneak past the schools like beehives, swarmed by soccer moms in SUVs like angry distracted bees. And I'd like to think the pink and yellow bobbing helmet deters the moto-fascist tendencies of my fellow travelers upon the roadways.

No matter what you think about the future of humanity on Planet Earth you cannot deny our dire need to reduce our consumption. More people are being born while our resource base is diminished through our own design. We convert farmland to parking lots and pollute whatever environment we have just so we can continue in "growth."

If the cancer doesn't kill us it will only be because we've effectively started treating it. We must start today. We must start now.

OH!!! Happy Bike Month btw!

Monday, May 2

Commuting With Bean

I had a great ride in this morning. I was serenaded the entire way by the sweetest voice...that of my daughter.

It was cool, but not as cool as had been forecasted. In fact, the sun was shining bright by the time we struck out for Golden and Lind-topia.

A note on Lind-topia: with all due respect, we started calling Lily's time at the babysitter's "Lind-topia." Linda watches her through the day and Lily is prone to telling us how great things are at Miss Linda's house. "At Miss Linda's we always put our toys away before getting more toys out." "At Miss Linda's we always put our shoes by the door when we take them off." "At Miss Linda's..."

Well, you get the picture. Of course all the good behaviors Lily willingly participates in at Miss Linda's die long before Lily returns home.

So I started referring to Linda's house as "Lind-topia." Lily calls it that herself now. I feel bad, but Linda and her husband seem to think its pretty funny.

Anyway, off we cruised toward Lind-topia on the Cannonball X. We had Lily's pink garden rake and shovel, her booster seat, lunch for both of us, my work clothes and the Bean herself.

Other than a truck passing close enough to us on Garrison that I could have reached over and opened the passenger side door it was relatively uneventful.

Wake Up Call

With Bin Laden dead the true test of Al-Qaeda's influence in the Middle East and the world beyond will become apparent. As well stated in this article on Oil-price.net:

But any change in the Middle East situation for better of worse in the days following his death will be proof of the organization's reach and shed light on the uprisings' true agenda.


If we see massive retaliation it will be obvious that the man had great influence. If not, then he was just an oil trust fund brat waging rebellion instead of hanging out at the yacht club.

I mention this on my cyclo-centric blog because where I am now in the world relates back to the events of September 11, 2001. My world view was radically reshaped as those towers fell. When I visited Ground Zero in the summer of 2002 I fought back tears. And now, almost ten years later as I watched a documentary on 9/11 with my son I fought tears with a shaky voice as I explained to him what happened.

With Bin Laden dead, the man supposedly behind those attacks, I feel oddly unsatisfied. I think a living body on which to enact justice would have provided much more closure. But I understand the kind of opportunities for nefarious deeds that would have arisen as his followers would've attempted to force his release. I'm guessing the way it happened was the only way it could have happened.

While I think there is significance to this day, I hope it will pass quietly.

Sunday, May 1

April Longtails Bring May Commutes

Day 31 of 30 Days of Biking and the beginning of a new month. Let's do the quick mileage tally:

January - 363

February - 313

March - 488

April - 528

2011 so far = 1,692 miles

We're well on track for 5,000 miles in 2011. And May is looking up! Mandy is planning on taking Boone's bike to school every day in May and then riding up in the afternoon on the Ute to pick him up. He did awesome on Friday and if he gets some good practice over the month of May he'll be a commuting pro just about the time school is out for the year. But that's good, May will be setting them up for next fall when they go back to school.

I'll be carting Bean to Lind-topia (She's been assimilated) every day in May. I'm going to fix up the old trailer again in case of inclement weather, but I've got the seat all lined out and we're ready to head out in the morning.

It seems April longtails bring May commutes.

April brought daylight to my morning commutes. I noted the sunrise passing my departure time but failed to blog about it. Mid-month I was pleased to head out and return home in full daylight. That's a important seasonal milestone to full-time bike commuters. So no dark commutes for a few months and that's nice to know...

LATER

Bean and I ran to the store and tried out the new seat/stoker combo. It's gonna work out real nice: