Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You ride a bike for an hour?!?

Well, not really. It's somewhere between 40 and 50 minutes. Usually, it is closer to 50 minutes, but a nice tail wind can give the my coveted 40 minute commute.

Because of a nasty head cold, I drove today. On the way home, I decided to take the same route (excluding the half mile of bike path) I use to commute. I wanted to compare the difference in time between driving and riding. I'm not a scientist. I realize that one trip is not data. Even so, here are the results.

If I leave school at 4:00 on my bike, I get home at 4:45.
If I leave school at 4:00 in my car, I get home at 4:45.

Stop lights, school buses and trains kept everything equal. On a bike, I am not stopped by the buses. They are far enough ahead of me that I can see them, but I never really catch up with them. I can almost count on hearing the train's whistle as I turn into the apartment complex by my house. Traffic is always clearing up as I pop out of the bike trail.

In my car, I am delayed by a bunch of little things. On a bike, I seem to go just slow enough to avoid them.

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I probably should have done this last Friday, but better late than never...

Welcome to bicycle commuting Michelle.  It was nice seeing someone else on the road.  I hope you stick with it. 

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Interesting commute

Today was fun.  It was definitely weird, but fun.  

Part one - I was yelled at and told to get of the road.  That's not strange in itself, but today it was from a guy on a bike.  Really, he wasn't on a bike. He was walking it as far to the left on the shoulder as possible.  In fact, he was stuck at the highway on-ramp waiting for cars to let him cross.  Maybe he was just worried about my safety.  

Part two - At one part of my commute, I have to move from the far right lane into the left turn lane.  This is often tricky in heavy traffic.  Most cars are switching into the left lane so they can pass me.  Today, a dump truck slowed while in the left lane, let me cut in front of him and into the turn lane.  Wow... a little bit of kindness really made my day.

Part three - The weather.  Today was chilly and sticky.  Really.  The weather was in the mid 50s with 85% humidity.  I don't know it it is typical in any other area, but it is weird in Ohio.

Part four - There was a nice tailwind on the final overpass of my commute.  I hit that thing hard and fast.  The downhill is even better.  There must have been a little rain earlier because the road was wet.  Skinny tires, slick roads, high speeds and recently adjusted brakes led to a nice skid.  The old motorcycle training came in handy because my back tire was whipping around, but somehow I stayed upright.  


It's been a while, so we go...

Money not spent on gas: $184
CO2 not released into the atmosphere: 910 pounds

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As gas goes up, driving goes down

From CNN:

At a time when gas prices are at an all-time high, Americans have curtailed their driving at a historic rate.

Americans are not driving as much as they did a year ago as gas prices skyrocket.

The Department of Transportation said figures from March show the steepest decrease in driving ever recorded.

Compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less -- that's 11 billion fewer miles, the DOT's Federal Highway Administration said Monday, calling it "the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history." Records have been kept since 1942.
You can read the rest of the article here.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My personal ride of silence

I love to ride at night. If I had to list the top three conditions to ride in, it would be snow, night, and warm rain. Tonight I decided I needed some ice cream, so a trip to Handel's was on.

(A lighter side note here, Handel's has the best ice cream ever. If there is one remotely close to you, you need to get there.)

I headed out, then decided to take the long route. The silence of the neighborhood made me pause. Earlier today was Columbus's Ride of Silence. I was not able to make it, but I did stop and make my daughters say a little prayer with me as everyone left the statehouse around 7:00.

I rode for about an hour tonight. I thought about the time I was hit by a car. Twelve years ago a car right hooked me. I remember looking her in the eye right before impact. I was knocked off my bike and unconscious for a short period. The worst of my injuries were a separated shoulder and a sprained wrist. The lady that hit me drove off. I was lucky. I could have been seriously injured. Instead, I was only hurt enough to take an evening off work.

I don't know why I keep torturing myself, but I cannot look at any of the ghost bikes without getting emotional. I wonder if these have the same affect on non-cyclists.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bike to Work Week -- part four

Earlier this week, Columbus's mayor Mike Coleman introduced the city's bike plan. I haven't commented yet because I wanted to read all 287 pages. Now that I have read it, I think this is a great project that I am excited to see put into action.

Here are the current bicycling accommodations on my end of Columbus:

If you are trying to figure out where I live, I live just north of Galloway Road.

The streets marked in yellow are the ones that have a wide, paved shoulder. That's it. I'm not sure what is considered a wide shoulder. On Galloway road the shoulder goes from three feet to six inches back to three feet, then back to six inches several times.

This does not mean this area is a dangerous place to be. I feel like I can hold my own on almost any road in the area. There are couple of hairy spots, but they are portions, not an entire trip.

Now I am as selfish as anyone. While I think the plan is a good one, what I really want to know is how will it affect me?

The map below is the proposed improvements. The green dotted lines are proposed paths. The blue dotted lines are where bike lanes are to be added to the road.

I have been joking with people that this plan should be renamed "Rick's personal bike routes." Every road I ride is being improved in some way. Trabue Road, the main road on my commute is getting a path. West Broad, which I use for almost all shopping, is getting bike lanes. The death trap called Hilliard-Rome Road is even getting some bike lanes.

While I joke that this is great for me, it is really great for the west side. These paths are being placed right in the main arteries of this side of town.

Please Columbus, make this happen.

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Bike to Work Week -- part three

Two of my students had the opportunity to meet Lance Armstrong. According to the parent, the conversation went like this:

Lance: "Hi, how are you?"
Student: "Good. My teacher rides his bike to school everyday. Do you know him?"
Lance: "Ummm... no."

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bike to Work Week -- part two

Let me start off by saying that I love my doctor and I trust him completely with my health. Today he gave me the bad news I was expecting. I need to take a short break from bicycling. I aggravated an old injury. I knew it was coming. When I had to hobble up and down the steps yesterday, I knew it was Iliotibial Band Syndrome. That's just big fancy words for, "my knee hurts like hell."

I was told to stay off the bike for two weeks. Ouch. That hurt more than my knee. So I begged and pleaded. I was told to reduce the mileage I ride by 50% during week one and 25% during week two. Then I can go back to normal. If the pain increases, I am supposed to stop right away.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Bike to Work Week -- part one

I woke up late this morning and almost did not ride.  It was windy and raining.  I would have to put the hammer down if I wanted to make it to school today.  I decided to go anyway.  Even though the weather was crap, I was glad I did.  My students notice that when I do not ride, I am in a bad mood.  Here's an honest to goodness conversation I heard in the hall a while back:

"Mr. Logue drove today."
"Awww man, he's going to be in a bad mood...  Everyone be quiet, Mr. Logue drove today."

Today was one of the days that would put anyone in a bad mood.  I can only imagine what it would have been like without the stress buster of riding to work.


I'm not sure the reason, but I saw three additional commuters today.  I am happy to see you.  I hope you stick with it. 

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Future best bicycling city - Columbus, Ohio

From Bicycling magazine:

Columbus, Ohio
What happens when you cross a citywide fitness initiative, Commit to be Fit, with an environmentally friendly "green pact" signed by the mayor? A sudden interest in bikes. Columbus is working on its first bike master plan since 1993, and every indication is that it's going to be a whopper. Mayor Michael Coleman has already pledged $50 million for bike and pedestrian transportation and has linked the bike plan with the city's 2012 bicentennial by naming it the Bicentennial Bikeways Plan.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The best part of my commute

A while back, I posted my commute to work.  Here's the elevation profile.  If you read it left to right, it is the trip to work.  That big dip there is where I cross the river. 

I'm sure this is nothing compared to people who live in the more mountainous areas of the United States.  I'm not even sure I think this is bad.  I've ridden bigger and steeper hills in southeastern Ohio. 

The real reason I point this out is because of the best three minutes of the entire trip.  Do you see that mostly flat part between four and six miles?  By some weird chance, there is never a car on the road with me on my trip home.  It's almost as if that is the reward for humping up the hill.  It's also a little break before the road narrows to one lane in each direction.  I have three minutes of absolute peace.  It's a bizarre coincidence that happens because of my speed and the timing of traffic lights. 

The trip home can be tough.  This little bit of peace and quiet is a wonderful treat.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Fixing a flat

I have never understood the people who travel without the basic equipment.  Although flats have been rare, I have always gotten them at bad spots...  carrying my kids around, a mile and a half away from my house while it is pouring down rain, thirty miles from anywhere...

 I have a fanny pack (yeah, go ahead a make fun of me.) that I keep all of my essentials in.  I keeps a tube for each of my bikes, bike pump and multi-tool.  With this setup, I can drop the fanny pack into whatever bag I am carrying.  If I am riding without a bag, I can cinch it down to fit on my rack.  In a worst case scenario, I wear the fanny pack.

Today it came in handy.  Not for me, but for some stranger on the I-70 overpass.  

He was walking his bike on the shoulder, so I pull up behind him.  I asked if he was OK, and he told me it was a flat.  I asked if he had a tube or a pump.  The answer was, "no."  I told him I could help.  He was leery of my offer.  His shiny new bike told me he not not really had the opportunity to experience the kindness of cyclists.  

I offered my tube, pump and services.  He took me up on the offer.  It became obvious that he had no idea how to change the tube.  I explained the steps and the importance of keeping the tires properly inflated.  I told him about a couple of websites that that would help him begin bike commuting.  

I hoped it helped.  I hope that there will be one more person on a bike.


I have not done this in a while but here are gas and CO2 numbers

Money not spent on gas: $127.75
CO2 not released into the atmosphere: 693 pounds
Beer I drank tonight: Great Lakes ESB

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Patent Bending

If you want me interested in  something, all you have to do is insert a bicycle into it.  Patent Bending is a show on Discovery/Science Channel that takes old patents that were never produced and puts them to use.

Tonight's episode combined two things I love.  First, bicycles.  Second, reel lawnmowers.  Here are some great facts about gas-powered lawn mowers: 

  • The lawn mower that was tested for the show ran at 111 dB.  A jet engine is about 120 dB.  At 140 dB, hearing damage can occur.  
  • A new lawnmower puts out about 40 times the smog as  new car.
  • According to the EPA, lawnmowers account for about 5% of the pollution in the U.S.
  • Abut 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled each year while refueling lawnmowers.(The Exxon Valdez spilled a tad under 11 million gallons of oil.)
  • 80,000 people a year are sent to the hospital because of lawn mowing accidents.
Personally, I own and use the Scotts Classic mower.  I think it is great.  I love being able to mow the yard and talk to my wife.  I can mow around the swingset while the kids are on the swings. I can listen to my iPod without turning it up to an intolerable volume.  And best of all, I am still using the two gallons of gas I bought in 2006.  

For those thinking about a reel mower, do it.  I was worried about pushing it thought the grass.  Because it is lighter than a gas-powered lawnmower, it takes about the same amount of effort to push.  You should not bag those clippings, so don't worry about the bagger.  

If you are serious about reducing the amount of gas you use, a reel mower is a great option.  While you may think "every little bit counts," small engines are gas hogs.  Getting rid of your gas powered lawnmower is not a "little bit."

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