Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Rig, Part Two

I have gotten to ride a little bit lately. January in Ohio is not the most bike-friendly weather. Just two nights ago, it was 40 degrees. Then, in typical Ohio fashion, the winds kicked up and the temperature dropped 30 degrees in six hours.

This is the bike I normally ride. It's an older Trek 1000. It is probably a year 2000, but I don't really know. This bike has been all over the place. It was my only bike until last summer when I rebuilt the Univega.

The reflective tape can be seen pretty clearly here. It's a combination of several different types. The triangles on the downtube and fork are Nathan's Reflective tape. The rack and rims have Duck Tape brand reflective tape. The bits on the downtube that are not triangles are actually the reflective tape you see on semi trailers. I did not use much of that because it is very stiff. It is hard to flex around awkward corners.

I am pretty freakish about being seen. Most of my rides are either after dark or during twilight hours. The lights and reflective tape can be the difference between life and death. If I am ever hit by a car, there will be no, "I did not see him," excuse.

CO2 saved to date: 60.39 pounds
Money saved to date: $9.61

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Rig, Part One

It has been too freaking cold to ride lately. Through trial and error, I have realized that 25 is about as low as I am willing to go. Anything less than that, I am uncomfortable and not happy. What is the point of doing this if it does not make me happy?

Instead, I figure I should tell you about one of my bike. I call it my beater, but it is not in that bad of shape. I use it primarily for short trips because, quite frankly, I am afraid of it breaking down. I quit smoking back in June and this bike was what I did to keep myself busy. I don't trust my bike mechanic skills just yet.

The frame is a steel frame Univega Mountain bike. I forget the model, but 303 sounds familiar. The fork was replaced with a rigid fork. Finding a 1 and 1/8 inch threaded rigid fork was just about impossible. (If anyone out there has a decent one, let me know and I might buy it off you.) The rack is a Blackburn mountain rack. The fenders are SKS fenders. The drivetrain is something off a bike from Volunteers of America.

My favorite part of this bike is the handle bars. I installed Nashar's Trekking handlebars. They offer a variety of hand positions and they are just plain cool. Although I have no affiliation with the company, I would easily recommend the to anyone looking for something other than the standard drop handlebars.

My goal for this bike is to eventually trust it. I will have to get a more stable fork and a rear brake. (If you look, closely there is no brake.) Then, I will convert it into an Xtracycle.

But, for right now, it is perfect for short trips around the neighborhood.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Dude, there is something seriously wrong with you.

I have not had much of a chance to ride during the last week. It has been a little bit sad and a lot cold. Last Monday I had one of my best rides in a long time. It was the trip home from church. When I left, it was cold and starting to snow. When I was one my way home, it was colder and snowing even more.

I have come to enjoy riding in the cold. It is not nearly as bad as anyone would think. Instead it is almost enjoyable. It's not the attention whore "look at me" kind of enjoyable. Instead, it is "here I am, where no one dares to go" kind of enjoyable. Imagine going for a walk in some fresh snow. It is the exact same feeling, except more intense. I was riding, surrounded by 30 degree temperatures. I watched the snow fall onto me and my bike. My arms were covered in snow. I saw snow blowing across the road, then I rode through that snow.

It is fun.

Today was the simple trip to Kroger. It was about 20 degrees. I've been trying to find the lower limit of riding. I think this is it. It was cold. It was damn cold. Not too cold for the short trip, but too cold for anything much further. As I left Kroger, some guy told me, "Dude, there is something seriously wrong with you." Nothing too wrong. Just a perverse please from riding in the cold.

Gas savings to date: $7.63
CO2 saved to date 47.99

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Why do you ride?"

While loading up the rig for my trip home from church this morning, I was stopped by an older gentleman. I would like to think he was admiring the bike, but I know he was thinking, "What the hell did you do to your bike?" instead.

He eventually asked me, "Why do you ride? Is it money or are you green or what?" I answered something about enjoying it and left it at that. As I rode home, I thought about my terrible answer.

Is it money? Sure, saving money is nice, but am I really saving that much money. I am keeping track of how much money I save at the end of each post. It figures in my car's MPG and how far I go. I plug in $3.00 for a gallon of gas and realize that the amount I save is minimal. As of today, I have saved $6.46. Yeah, that will buy me a... damn... What can I buy for $6.46?

Am I green? Yeah, most people would say that. But at the same time, I am not sure if that is why I ride. It's nice to do something, but the selfish part of me does not really think that is why I do it. So far, I have saved a measly 40.6 pounds of CO2 from going into the atmosphere.

In all honesty, cycling is something I enjoy. I enjoy riding when it is 30 degrees and raining. It's a bit of fun to see what I can really do. I enjoy being outside when many others are wrapped up in their cars. I fondly remember the ride several years where icicles formed on my helmet. It was almost as if I had singlehandedly defeated winter. Here I was, doing a summer activity when it was cold enough to have water freeze on my helmet. I looked at winter and told it that I would not be held hostage by it.

So, Why do I ride? It is a little bit of everything. I do like saving a bit of money. I am doing something good for the environment. Most of all, it is fun. After all, why do something that is not fun?

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Still Riding

There hasn't been much to write about lately. Most of my trips have been short and uneventful. This is mostly because of the weather. While I love being out, it is a bit chilly to be doing much pleasure riding. So I go out to Kroger, the bank, church (the map to the left) or Home Depot and come right back home.

Tonight's trip was the simple trip to Kroger to pick up a pack of diapers. It was about 44 degrees outside. It wasn't warm, bit it was not cold either. It has been raining like crazy all day, but somehow I slipped in-between the the storms.

Like I said, absolutely uneventful.

I found a new calculator that will compute both the CO2 saved and money saved. I plugged in my current numbers and came up with this:

Pounds of CO2 saved: 31.68
Money saved: $5.04

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Too cold to ride today

I don't care what this says. The high temperature in my neck of the woods was a brisk 15 degrees F. That was without the wind chill. I am sure you can look around on the internet and find someone who would be out during weather like this, but I am not one of those people.

Instead, I stayed inside all day. I cooked a killer pot roast. I played around on the internets. While playing around, I found this website that gives some interesting statistics about bicycle commuting.
There are a couple of interesting facts (all cited) on the website, but these three really made a point to me. I know I often harp on the environmental aspect of cycling, but the health aspect is equally as important.
  • Behind tobacco, the leading cause of death among adults is a sedentary lifestyle
  • 61% of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. 13% of kids 6-11 and 14% of kids 12-19 are overweight. Obesity os second behind tobacco in U.S. health risk, contributing to 300,000 deaths a year.
  • The number one strategy for reducing a sedentary lifestyle is to shift from driving to walking and/or bicycling

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