Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fill 'er up!

Yesterday I had to fill up the gas tank. $45.25. It was a touch over 14 gallons at $3.21 each. The good news is that it has been more than three weeks between fill-ups. The bad news is that that with the new bouncing baby boy, I will be driving the other two kids to daycare for the next two weeks. That means I will be having these $45 fill-ups about once a week. Ouch!

This helps me to realize the importance of riding a bike for the short trips. I head to the grocery store at least twice a week. Each one of those trips is two miles. The weekly trips to church are a shade over 10 miles. Handel's Ice Cream is about a six mile round trip.

I plug the totals into The Bike Geek's calculator and come up with the following numbers:

Money not spent on gas: $42.84
CO2 not released into the atmosphere: 269.28 pounds

The money not spent on gas seems a bit low. The math works out perfectly when computing my average MPG. My problem is that before I made the conscious effort to park the car and ride the bike, I was filling up about every seven to ten days. Now, the time between fill-ups has doubled. I have heard that short trips use more gas. My totally unscientific findings here seem to have proven that.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Flat tires suck

I read Commute by Bike's recent post about flat tires with a bit of smugness. My last on the road flat tire was in 2001. I remember it vividly. I was doing the GOBA trip. I was between Wellston and Nelsonville. I was busy chatting to my riding partner and hit a giant piece of metal in the road. It went right through my tire and sliced the tube. I was able to patch the tire with a Power Bar wrapper and electrical tape. I always carry extra tubes, so that was an easy swap. It was also the first time I realized using a mini-pump while sitting with my back to the road looks a lot like I was masturbating. I still hear about it from friends who saw it.

That flat tire sucked. If you have ever been on a trip like GOBA, the best camping spots go to the people who ride the fastest. Because of the flat, I spent the night on pea gravel. To tell you it was uncomfortable would be a joke. It was awful. It was not as bad as the next night where the rain flooded my tent, but it was awful.

After that, I became obsessive about preventing flats. The day I got back, I ordered Conti's Ultra Gator Skins. I religiously checked air pressure. I started carrying two tubes, just in case. It must have worked because I have not found myself changing tires on the side of the road in almost seven years.

My luck ran out yesterday. I took the girls up to the post office to buy some stamps. My general pre-ride check did not turn up anything. We rode around the neighborhood with the four-year-old saying hello to everyone she saw. We got to the post office without a problem. On the way back, the trailer felt funny. I pulled off and found a chuck of glass in the trailer's tire.

I never thought about beefing up the standard tires on the trailer. I'll be heading to the bike shop tomorrow to figure out my options.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Cycling and calories

I have ridden more in 2008 than I have ridden in the past couple of years.  I don't know the total miles.  Instead, I have only kept track of the mile I did not drive.  For example, today I rode for a couple of hours.  I only kept track of two of those miles because I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some lettuce for salad with dinner.  My legs feel like I rode 20-25 miles, but I do not know.

My wife has pointed out that the oatmeal and salad consumption in the house has increased dramatically since I decided to get back on the bike for the two mile challenge.  That got me thinking.  I have been bragging about CO2 not released and money not spent on gas, but how many calories have I burned?

This was not as easy as I thought.  Kent's Bike Blog has a calculator on the sidebar, but I have to know the hours I have ridden, not the miles.  I have only kept a record of an estimate of miles this year.  I checked out a couple of different places and figured I have burned about 16,000 calories when I could have been simply sitting on my backside in my car.  

In terms of my favorite foods, 16,000 calories is:
  • 100 bowls of oatmeal
  • 761 heads of lettuce
  • 355 cucumbers
  • 286 cups of broccoli 
  • 1000 strips of bacon
  • 123 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
  • 26 Burger King Stackers
  • 20 Burger King Triple Stackers
  • 390 bottles of lite beer
  • 76 bottles of Dogfish's 60 minute IPA
  • 35 bottles of  Dogfish's 120 minute IPA
  • 140 ounces of cheddar cheese
Of course, each one of those is 16,000 calories.  If you eat that much food in one sitting, I am not responsible for your waistline.  

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

So, why haven't I been riding?

I have been slacking off a bit lately.  I have not ridden much farther than 2 miles from my house.  If you have pictures enabled, you probably figured out why by now.  

This evening, Garek (pronounced gare-ECK) was born.  

I realize that everyone on the internet is eagerly awaiting the next episode of my2mile.  I hope you will understand if I take a few days off.

P.S.  Garek is a Polish name that has nothing to do with World of Warcraft.  

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Xtracycle upgrades and pictures

To the left, you will see my most recent upgrade (?) to the Xtracycle.  It's not the GPS, look lower.  It's those fancy 1980s friction shifters.  

The original bike had no rear brake.  I had forgotten why I had done that.  It turned out that the wheel was so out of true that I could not get the brake to fit.  I bought a rear brake, trued the wheel, and go ready to hook the cables up.  Then I found out I was missing a nut that kept the cable from popping out.  I guess that sort of thing was important.

So, I went searching for another set.  The bike originally had the integrated index shifter and brake lever.  The problems was that I could not find what I needed (7-speed rear) in my price range.  Then, I looked through my box of various bike parts.  I found an old friction shifter.  I installed it and went for a ride.  The 20-year-old shift lever crumbled in my hand while I shifted.  But, it worked.  I went to Jenson USA and ordered the friction shifters and cheapest brake levers I could find.  

It took about about a day to get used to them.  "Do I push up to upshift or downshift?" But now I can find the gear I want without too much thinking.

A while back, I bragged about what the Xtracycle carried on its maiden voyage.  Sunday is shopping day, so I loaded it up once again.  This time, I took pictures.  

I won't give the entire list of what was carried, but it was a lot.  Both sides looked like this.  

Forgive the plastic bags.  Item number 5 on my to-do list was to change the filter on the fish tank.  Number 7 was clean up the dog crap in the back yard.  I hate the plastic bags as much as anyone else, but occasionally, they serve a purpose.  

Money not spent on gas:  $38.43
CO2 not released into the atmosphere:  241.56 pounds

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Optical Illusion

I never should have posted an optical illusion without the solution.  If you read the Situation Awareness post, you saw the picture to the left.  It also had the question, "Which square is darker, A or B?"  I never gave the solution.

Scroll down for the solution.

Here is the solution.  Both A and B are the same color.  Even after seeing this solution, I still did not believe it.  I ended up putting this picture into photoshop and deleting everything except the two squares.  I still did not believe it.  I used the eyedropper.  Still the same.

If you are freaked out about this, check out some other optical illusions that were done by the same guy.  

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Today's commute

Today I did the 15 mile trip home in about an hour and fifteen minutes.  You would think that is a good thing, but it wasn't.  Today I did the trip in my car.

For the next month, I will be driving to school every day.  (Stay tuned next week to find out why!)  Today's trip reminded my why I just do not like to drive.  It's too frustrating and people are just plain rude.  What does it hurt if you let someone merge?  Why squeeze your giant car in a small space, then hit the brakes?  Why make several unsafe lane changes only to end up three car lengths ahead of where you started?  

I felt like Homer Simpson at times.  "Gas, brake, honk.  Gas, brake, honk.  Honk, honk, punch.  Gas, gas, gas."

Then, as my car crawled under the Wilson Road bridge, I looked up.  There was a cyclist.  She was smiling like I smile when I look at stopped traffic on the highway.  I was jealous.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

A broken computer

I broke my bike computer last fall.  Really, it was just a wire that snapped.  It could have been a pretty simple fix.  I just never got around to doing it.  

Actually it ended up being a good thing.  I quit using a computer.  I quit caring about every hundredth of a mile.  I quit caring about speed.  The stat I used to love - average speed - has not been touched.

Riding is fun.  I am not worried that I am dropping below a respectable speed.  I take the long way because I want to be on my bike, not because I need another half mile to make it an even ten.

I like to keep track of the total miles, but it is different.  Now, I ride about five miles instead of 5.14 miles.  It's just an informal thing so I have an idea of what I have done.  

Money no spent on gas: $36.23
CO2 not released into the atmosphere: 227.7 pounds

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Situational Awareness

Last night I watched a show about vision.  They got to the part where they discuss magic tricks and optical illusions.  Basically, your brain only "sees" a small amount of what you think you see.  The rest is filled in by your brain.  That is why your brain falls for the optical illusion below.  Basically, the question is, what square is darker?  A or B?

This show had a card trick.  I used to do a little (very little) magic, so I am interested in this.  Person #1 had person #2 pick a card out of the blue deck of cards.  When person #2 put it back,  the deck of cards was red.  I felt pretty proud.  I notice the slight of hand that switched the deck.  What I did not notice was the background, both people's shirts and the table cloth all changed during this trick.  I missed it all because I was watching the deck of cards.

I told my wife about this.  She told me about a teaching conference she was at where they  showed a video of people passing a basketball.  I searched high and low on the internet and could not find it.  Then, right before I was going to give up for the night, I decided to check google reader.   A new post from Commute by Bike caught my attention.  It was a minor variation of the test my wife had talked about.  I don't want to give it away.  If you take it, please do not give it away in the comments.  I'll be honest.  I failed.

Here's the test.  Let me know how you do.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Do you want to be my friend?

I found this during some random googling last night.


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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Biking in a blizzard

As a Boy Scout I learned a very important phrase. "Be Prepared." My friends and family all laughed when I would diligently put one bottle from every six pack into storage. It took a while, but I ended up with more than 150 bottles of beer. (The two other boxes also contain beer.) My family may be out of milk and lunch meat, but I have plenty of beer.Even so, I felt the need to go out today. Getting milk and lunch meat would have been nice, but the real reason I wanted to head to the store was so that in 50 years, I can say, "You kids have it easy today. Fifty years ago, I rode my bike in a blizzard." This ranked among the top 50 stupid things I have done.
The snow is about knee deep. I figured if I was in the tire tracks left by the cars, I would be fine. Wrong. Even though the cars made a decent path, the snow was still about 3 inches deep. I was sliding all over the place. I fell more than once.

My wife snapped another picture as I slid down the street. She liked it because she likes to see people fall down. I liked it because the guy in the background watched me as I rode past and just shook his head.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My meeting with Jack

 I thought about the encounter with Jack and his Hummer for the past two days.  Today, after some encouragement, I decided that I was going to leave the letter on his windshield.  I rode past his house and saw the car in his driveway.  I thought about it, but then changed my mind.  Instead, I was going to talk to Jack.

I rang the doorbell and a woman about my age answered.  I asked for Jack.  She looked confused, but she got him.  I introduced myself.  I told him I was his neighbor.  I told him what happened Monday morning.  I wasn't surprised when he told me that he did not see me.  I told him about my experience as a cyclist.  If I were a child, I may not have know what to do.  That could have disastrous. 

I intentionally tried to stay away from being too preachy or high and mighty.  Instead, I was just trying to get him to pay more attention.  I don't know, but I felt as if I got my point across.  In the end, he even asked about my bike.  He also promised to check out  

I hope our little conversation will help Jack to pay more attention.  I ended up handing him the letter in the end.  I did not stick around to see if he read it.  I had to make dinner for my family.  


Money not spent on gasoline:  $29.45
CO2 not released into the atmosphere:  185.13

(Sorry, I have not been keeping up with this like I should)

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Monday, March 3, 2008

An open letter to Jack in his Hummer

Note:  I assume that the guy who almost hit me is named Jack.  His personalized license plate had his name on it.

Dear Jack,

You do not know me, but my name is Rick.  I was the cyclist you almost hit this morning.  Did you even notice me as you sped down the street in your Hummer?  Did you hear me yell at you?  I apologize, but what you did scared me.  I was seconds away from being a speed bump.  You backed out of your driveway and forced me to jump the curb in order not to be hit by you.  I think you heard me yell.  I will also assume that you were embarrassed.  After all, why else would you speed down the street, past a bus stop with children, at twice the speed limit?

What was it that you did not see?  Was it the lime green reflective helmet cover?  the blinking light on my helmet? the green blinking lights on the stem of my bike?  the white blinking light on the handlebars?  my reflective vest?  the three yards of reflective tape that cover most of my bike frame?  I spend a great deal of time on my bike.  In the first two months of this year, I have already ridden more than 300 miles.  I want to be safe. 

Did something happen this morning?  Maybe you woke up late.  Being first is more important that being safe, right?  Did you have a fight with your children about eating their breakfast?  Do you have kids Jack?  I have a four year old, a two year old and a baby boy due at the end of the month.  Can you imagine what it would be like to tell my daughters that they would no longer see their daddy?  Can you imagine how sad their wedding days would be with no one to walk them down the aisle?  Can you imagine my son who would never know his father?  Can you imagine my wife as she tries to raise three children by herself?  Would you be willing to take care of my family? 

Jack, I am sure that you did not see me.  In 1996, a car hit me.  After I regained consciousness, the first thing I heard was, “I never saw him.”  Since then, I have involved myself in cycling advocacy.  You know what the first thing a majority of drivers say after  they hit a cyclist?  Right.  “I never saw him.”

Please, go to the website  I have no connection with it.  Read about why the website exists.  Read the tips.  I promise, if you follow the tips for drivers, I will follow the tips for cyclists.  Keep your eyes open.  Cycling is becoming more and more prevalent.  Today was a close call. Tomorrow we might not be so lucky.  

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Xtracycle Rolls

Wow...  this thing is everything people say and more.  I took it to church, the hardware store and the grocery store.  Here is what I carried on my first trip:

  • 24 pack of CFL lightbulbs
  • a whole house humidifier filter
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 26 pack of diapers
  • 1 pound of green beans
  • 5 pounds of bird seed
  • 2 packets of beef stew seasoning
  • 1 pound of Reame's  noodles
  • 1 pound of frozen dinner rolls
  • 5 frozen loaves of bread
  • 2 pounds of pork tenderloin
  • 6 packages of shredded cheese
  • cake mix with frosting
  • 3 red delicious apples
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pound of carrots
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 bunch of celery
  • 12 chicken breasts
  • 6 bratwurst
  • package of butter
  • box of cheerios
  • 1 pound of bacon (Thick cut)
  • 1 six-pack of beer
Amazing.  Simply amazing.

Money not spent on gas:  $23.63
CO2 not released into the atmosphere: 148.50 pounds

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Xtracycle

I finally broke down and did it.  I bought the Xtracycle.  I have been eyeballing one of these for almost a year now.  I first saw it at the Trek Store here in Columbus.  I guess no one really wanted it because it was boxed up at the end of summer.  I went back into the Trek Store a month ago and saw the parts in a corner.  Just out of curiosity, I asked what they would ask for it.  The guy shrugged his shoulders and said $250.  I should have bought it then, but I did not have the cash.

Today, I had the cash.  I bought it and was told they would be able to get my bike in on Wednesday.  I told them I would do it myself, and took the box home.

The Xtracycle was easy to get together.  I think it was three bolts.  The chain was another story.  I have never put a chain on a bike.  I struggled for about 20 minutes, but it is working now.  All in all, it took a shade over 90 minutes from start to finish.  There are still a few things that need to get done, but this thing is ready to roll.  I can't wait for tomorrow.

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