Monday, November 3, 2008
Just before leaving for 10 days in the southwest I hit 1000 miles on my commuter. The odometer is at 700, but I put at least 300 on the bike prior to getting the bike computer. It has also been three months without a car and a bike or public transportation as the only means of transport. I have to say I still really enjoy biking to work and everywhere else.
I used a site to measure the value of my 1000 miles. I guess I saved about $250. That just about pays for the bike. Can't remember how much carbon I kept out of the atmosphere, but it was kind of cool to see the numbers.
I now have a light for the commuter and a couple new bad weather pieces of gear; mainly a new jacket.
I broke the cord on the bike computer the other day and still haven't fixed it. The last mileage reading was 850 miles. It sure adds up.
Well, that's about it for this little update. I hope to be more active on the blog this month.
I will be doing a class on winter weather commuting at my work this month. Hope to have a pic or something to add from the class.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I certainly do not miss buying gas and stop and go traffic. I really enjoy being out in the elements and moving on my own power...even in the rain.
I do occasionally miss hopping into the car and buzzing up to the store or to a movie. A bicycle is definitely a lesson in patience and I'm afraid I don't always have patience. I suppose it does say something about an automobile society: we need to go fast with everything we do...fast work, fast food and even fast entertainment. We seem like a generation of attention deficit disorder cases.
Then there's the bike: it takes time to get from point a to b, and a little planning in some cases. If I end up on the wrong side of town I can't just jaunt back across in a few minutes. A bike is definitely more about the journey than the destination.
After a couple months having a bike as my sole means of transportation I'm beginning to appreciate the journey more for better or worse. I hope my patience grows along with my love of cycling.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Apparently I've been busy...though it's not much more than work and riding bike. A friend let me use his old road bike, a Novara Trionfo. He got it in about 1988/89. It has a steel frame, but weighs much less than my Buzz. It's been a lot of fun getting used to the bike and I've already put close to 100 miles on it in the last week. Definitely a different design than an urban commuter. When I stood up to pump the first time I just about sent myself over the handlebars!
I went downtown for the Tour de Fat hosted by New Belgium brewery. I ended up going to the wrong park first and then was too late when I did get there...oh well. Maybe next year or something.
I did get in a good ride and even was able to help a couple of people out with a flat tire on one of the trails.
I have now surpassed the 400 mile mark on the Buzz bike. That is about 700 miles total on the bike. The distance seems to be adding up quickly so I need to make sure my cycle computer is working accurately...or maybe I'm just not paying enough attention to the amount I ride anymore.
I have been waiting to see the new bikes from Novara for 2009, and here is one of them...probably my next bike. The Buzz Road bike. A drop handle-bar urban bike with disk breaks. Pretty cool. Can't wait to try one out. I like the idea of a quick urban bike than can double as a road bike when I need it. My Buzz V is nice, but I don't like taking off the panniers or box when I want a faster, more agile bike for cruising around. I figure that is where the Buzz road would come in handy.
I have some more to talk about, but I am a bit tired and, with the weekend off, I have some time to write more tomorrow.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I'm including some photos from my ride in downtown Denver yesterday. The first photo is of the BikeDenver bike parking for the Taste of Denver or something like that. This was at round 5 or six in the afternoon. Not as full as earlier in the day, but people were still stopping in...what a great service. Definitely beats trying to park a car. Volunteers would check the bike in and out. Nice...I think I may have to volunteer for that too.
This next photo is of my bike. I like the sign in the background. I was just parking there to make some photographs when I turned around and noticed the sign. You can also see my new big box on the back. I got this so I could store my camera and some other stuff while I'm out and about. It's big (27 liters), but it seems to work ok. I had to use a piece of wood between the box and my rack to keep enough space to have my panniers. I can carry a lot for crap now.
The last photo here is of this cool clock I saw as I was rising past an old industrial building just off Mississippi and Broadway in south Denver. It's broken of course, but a nice subject non-the-less. I hope to get some more photos in better light before it is gone as part of a reconstruction project for the area. It's too bad some of the old parts of the building can't be saved for the new construction. Maybe it will...still pretty cool. I really like the look of the old warehouse/industrial areas. There's something very historic about them like the ruins of a past age.
Monday, September 1, 2008
It is interesting to have more than one bike to ride. I'm not bragging here, but there are definitely enough differences between certain bikes that, if a person rides a lot, could justify wanting more than one bike.
My mountain bike is very nice and I enjoy riding it, but it is hard to really do much distance on the road or on mixed bike trails. I also feel bad wearing my tires on pavement when they are really made for dirt. I just don't get out as often to mountain bike and usually ride off-trail portions of the local Bear Creek Trail system that is easy access from where I live. It's fun, but after riding it several time I would like to try other sections. I'm sure this will come with time as I become more familiar with the area.
My commuter, on the other hand, is the work-horse. I have logged around 600-700 miles since purchasing it in May of this year. I've even added another box I can lock to carry my camera gear and other things I deem valuable when I am out and need to lock the bike up. Even though my Buzz is heavier than my mountain bike I prefer to ride the Buzz because it works much better in the city and on the paved trails. I can keep my speed up better since it does not have knobby tires even though they are 26" like my mountain bike. I also have all the lights and even the bike computer on the Buzz because I use it most ofter...it is, after all, my commuter.
This brings me to my point...I see the possibility of picking up a road bike for the weekend rides with more miles and for recreation purposes. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) I also like the idea of a cruiser bike for just tooling around town or DT Denver.
I guess only time and money will tell. I'm waiting for the new Novara Buzz line to be introduced and see what makes my mouth water. Who knows, maybe there will be a road-style bike and a cruiser this year. That would be my luck!
I've been having a lot of fun lately keeping up on the several blogs on cycling and specifically a few in the Denver area. I'm really impressed with the information and opinions, not to mention the amount of time and dedication the blog authors (blogger I believe) give to their blog to make it up-to-date and relevant. Kudos to those who make these great blogs. If anyone reads this I hope to list several of these blogs. I currently have a few, but I have found other good ones not listed yet (there's that time and dedication part).
Lastly, I just want to express my opinion as I watch some changes in the cycling culture. When I started commuting over 10 years ago (I commuted for a couple of years in Boise, Idaho by bike and foot) I was always fighting with the concept of cycling clothing. I have never been excited about compression bike shorts (though I understand the advantages and benefits) and preferred to wear street clothes while riding so I could easily go to work, to class, and finally out for a beer without constant changing clothes for the rides. I can see wearing a cycling "outfit" on recreational rides; especially long rides that can cause chafing and other discomfort, but not for commuting.
When I started bike commuting again a few months ago I kept my dedication to wearing street clothes while riding. This has some unfortunate consequences in the Mile High area. Heat and afternoon thunderstorms can make wearing regular street clothes challenging. I find I need to change my shirt when I go to work in the afternoon and need to carry a rain jacket for those afternoon t-storms. It doesn't always cool down with the rain, however, and this creates other challenges.
I decided to do some research and found a few cycling dedicated companies designed and carried some great urban cycle-wear (specifically Swobo and Swrve). There may be more, but I was able to find these two...both have more traditional cycle clothing and great stuff (not only bike shorts, but knickers too)...some I can see myself wearing, other...not so much, but they are carrying clothing that I could easily commute in and then wear into the bar for a beer without reeking or having to change (or at least deal with showing off my white-guy thighs). I've even found jeans for cycling...great stuff.
Recently on Bike Hugger I saw a post for Hincapie (apparently a well-known bike clothing brand...please forgive my ignorance) and a new line of casual cycling clothing geared toward urban cycle-wear with street clothing appeal. At least for now, with growth in the urban commuting area of cycing, I can see a real niche market for bike clothing like jeans and functional, comfortable casual bike gear. I'm really looking forward to seeing what new technology, organic and renewable materials along with great design brings to the evolution of urban cycing/commuting.
That's all for now...here's to over a month without a car! I have some pictures from my ride today...I will post them in the near future.
By the way...BikeDenver rocks!
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I never did make it to down town Denver during the Democratic National Convention (DNC), but I read a lot about the great bike awareness and the success of the Freeride program. It's so great to hear and see more people getting into cycling. Sorry I didn't get to see it first-hand.
Had a really good ride today. I probably only did about 65-66 miles of the total 72 or so mile ride pictured on the map below. I was riding my other bike, a Giant Rainier mt. bike. It's much lighter and a pretty good climber compared to the Novara Buzz V, but the tires have a lot of road resistance. My friend, Mike, was on his road bike. Gotta get me one of those someday. Anyway, we started at about 7 am with Mike's wife, Kasey, and met some friends at Starbucks int the DT REI for a little breakfast. From there Mike and I continued on...stopping for lunch in Golden. Good stuff.
Great day, good ride and now I'm taking a nap. More later.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Bike controls and gizmos
Originally uploaded by Buzz Commuter
I thought I would share a view from my handle bars. Here is all of my commuter gizmos: bell, lights, cyclometer (bike computer). All are very important to bike commuting...though I guess the bike computer isn't as necessary, but it's a way I can keep track of my miles and how much time I have to make it to work.
The light is perfect for helping other people see me at dusk and night, but isn't designed to provide enough light to really see as night. I hope to get a new light so I can see better when I ride at night and in the evening.
The bell is probably the most important; it allows me to communicate on the road, shared walk or trail. Colorado law states that some sort of device or voice must be used to communicate your approach on bike to pass, or to communicate your presence (blind corners etc.). The bell seems to have the best effect. I would nearly have to be on top of people yelling for them to hear me say "On your left", when I would pass.
The bell is loud and shrill enough to get attention and doesn't carry any emotion other than ringing several times.
These are all tools that help me as I commute each day. I'm sure I'll add more as time goes on.
I hope to average at least 10 a day over the next month. All total that puts about 600 miles on my bike since I bought it in May.
I had to lube the chain today...I think it must have dried out after getting wet from all the rain last week. It had the worst squeak while I was riding today, but some dry lube and a little cleaning got it back to smooth and quiet.
I decided to do something a little different on my ride today. I put one of the larger panniers on and collected aluminum cans I found along my ride. I made a big loop out of my regular commute and filled the bag. I have a few days off coming up and thought I would see how many miles I can ride and how many pounds of cans I can collect during those days. I will also map the whole thing to see where I have been and try not to overlap any routes. I'll post the results as I go through them.
I thought it would be fun to do something more than just ride sometimes. I can getting a little spare change for the cans and clean-up a little on the trails and paths. Neighborhoods are pretty good too. I'll be interested to see where I can bike to get the cans recycled.
I did a little shopping and that was about it for my day. I think I ended at around 20 miles for today...which as I look at the time is more like yesterday...Sunday anyway.
I'm beginning to plan for riding this fall and winter. I guess it get's pretty cold here so I have to plan for that too. I figure I can use the bus for some of the really cold days. I can load my bike and take the bus about half-way. I think it's a little less than 2 miles to work from the bus stop after the bus ride. With the right stuff I'm pretty sure I can pull it off.
Tomorrow is another day to ride...and there's never a bad time to ride.
Friday, August 22, 2008
A friend of mine from work decided to put a 2-stroke engine onto his Buzz V. The Chromoly steel frame works perfectly for this revved-up Novara. He says it gets over 100 mpg and more depending on the amount of pedaling. Pretty sweet little cruiser.
I can remember mopeds from my youth. I was wondering why I haven't seem more of the like with a growing fuel economy concern and travel cost. This motorized Buzz is a great example of what a little work can do. If a muscle-powered ride is too much just add a little engine to the bike and you have a Buzz buzz.
Another co-worker has purchased a Buzz V and is adding an electric motor. The rugged and inexpensive bike is really perfect for this application in my opinion. The picture of the electric Buzz is coming, but in the mean time I do have a photo of an electric Electra...this also belongs my friend with the motorized Buzz.
(Both photos were made by my friend Bob P.)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
My day started at about 4 pm on Monday...had a 4-hour nap from noon - 4 pm and now I'm still up (it's around midnight). I may have to go to sleep after this post.
It was a very nice day today...the morning was perfect for riding and I ran some errands before heading home. I also went for a ride later in the day and met up with some friends. All in all I added another 20 or so miles. That brings the total to about 173.
I did some shopping to get me through the rest of the week and really loaded up my panniers. I already had a bunch of stuff from riding into work at 11 pm and had decided to take along my laptop too for some reason. I could barely fit the stuff I purchased at the store, but I got it all in with some arranging.
I'm also excited to have a new library card for the local library. I think the library is a lot like bike commuting: it take some extra effort, but the reward is definitely worth it. The internet may be a huge resource for information, but I like getting off my butt and making the trip to the library.
So, another day come and gone. I have tomorrow off and am planning a bike ride. Maybe I'll explore the north portion of the Platte River Trail...I haven't been up that way before.
Monday, August 18, 2008
My Buzz V
Originally uploaded by Buzz Commuter
Finally...here is a picture of my commuter bike, the Novara Buzz V.
I have added the rack box and the panniers (as well as the rack). I also have lights and a bell: definitely important to my regular commute.
So, there it is...it's got about 450 miles on it total, but I've only been recording for about 153 of those miles.
It's a really fun bike and I enjoy using it to get around.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I've been looking at some new lights for my bike and one of the lights is the NiteRider MiNewt Mini USB light. It can charge via USB (laptop computer) or by AC and is supposed to have a lot of throw (i.e. very bright). Looks like I could mount it to my helmet too. That would be nice for nights like tonight as I ride to work.
On the other side of night riding it will be pretty cool to ride back in the early morning. I am usually riding to work at the time I'll be headed from work tomorrow. Wonder if any bars are open at 8:30 am?
Here's to another 8 miles on bike.
It has been raining for several days now and pretty much all day on Saturday. I think we have about an inch of new rain in Denver just from today...could be more with some risk of flooding because of all the water. This area can use it...hopefully without any damage.
I still ride in the rain...my rain gear is not the best, but it's better than nothing. I need to get some better gear for this winter though.
On my way to where I am staying I got soaked even in my rain gear. My rain jacket is more light-weight and meant for emergencies rather than for downpours like we are getting...it finally soaked through after a while. My rain pants aren't meant for riding and I'm afraid they will wear out. I still need a cover for my helmet since that gets the most wet. I do have rain covers for my bike bags and that works really well. Some of my lights are covered by the rain cover, but I have other lights. The fenders on my Buzz V work really well. My feet were the most soaked after going through a very deep puddle. I don't know if rain covers would have helped in that situation. Better rain resistant/proof gloves would be good too. My gloves were soaked through, but not as bad as my shoes. All in all it was a pretty wet ride, but not like it would have been if I wasn't a little prepared. I'll look into some new gear for the winter...especially since the weather here seems to be very different this year compared to the "norm" (whatever that is).
All the rain makes me think of Portland. Even the low clouds over the nearby mountains look like that area. Love it!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I've been procrastinating making photos of my Buzz and hope to have some to post soon. It's hard to photograph myself riding.
Anyway, hope you enjoy the video.
Another 8 or so miles today. Starting to close the 200 mile gap.
Friday, August 15, 2008
I'm glad I have several lights for my bike so it's easier to ride at night. I don't know how some riders can go without lights. They are taking a huge risk. There are so many roads without street lighting and people just don't see cyclists as well at night. I'm looking into some better lights down the road, but just having some lights makes a huge difference.
I've added about 27 miles in the last few days for a total of about 123 miles for the three weeks on a bike. I'll keep adding it up.
I was reading a past post on Bike Hugger and noticed that Novara will be introducing a Buzz 29 inch bike for 2009. I very excited about that prospect. I'm curious to see what it looks like. I also heard a rumor that there will be a drop-handlebar Buzz and I wonder if it is the same bike. A drop-bar 29er Buzz would be pretty cool in my opinion. I'll just have to wait, but I am beginning to look for a more road-style bike and that may do the trick.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I did notice how much I really dislike car traffic while driving again. I'm looking forward to logging some more miles by bike and hopefully off-setting the few days of driving.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I missed posting yesterday so the 2-day total is about 18 miles. I ran over to the new Sunflower market that just opened about 2 blocks from my work. The bike rack was covered with a banner sign so I set my bike in front of the store.
I'm borrowing a car to go camping this weekend. It feels funny to have to use a car, but I'm glad I don't have to rent one. It will be good to get back to just bike in a few days. I already hate traffic again.
Take a look at the 3K commuter posted on Bike Hugger. Pretty cool...I'm not ready to drop even a grand on a commuter bike, but in the long run I think it's still a better deal than a car. Gas alone could cost upwards of 2K in a year driving a compact SUV or the like. Bike is still better if you can make it work.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The Buzz was introduced in 2000 with "V" brakes and 26 inch wheels (I believe). In 2002 the Big Buzz was introduced (Big because of the 700 wheels). As I understand it the Buzz is the combination of a road bike and a flat-bar commuter (kinda styled after a mountain bike).
The urban commuter bike seems like a fairly new niche compared to cruiser, classic, mountain and road bikes. I'm looking forward to getting more info on the bike and more specifically the urban commuter bike.
I got a little side tracked trying out a new route this evening...it can be challenging in the evening. I had to lock up my brakes and leave some rubber stopping for a car that pulled in front of me to leave a gas station. Look before you go people!
Over 10 miles today. They keep adding up.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I keep looking around for commuting related blogs and websites. There are quite a few, but I am also surprised there are not more...I'm sure that will continue to change as people look for alternatives to expensive fuel.
The Buzz V still works well and is solid. My water does get very warm during the 4-mile-ride especially on my late shifts when I bike at noon or 1. I'm thinking about getting one or two of those Polar insulated bottles. Hopefully my water will still be cool enough to do more than just wet my whistle.
I'm also looking into some brighter lights. A few streets around here do not have many street lights and can be very dark when I am riding at night. I have a few red flashers and one front white light that flashes, but the steady beam does not really cast enough light. I'm not sure what I need, but I don't know if I want to spend over $100 on some super-bright light when it would be overkill. I've looked at a couple from Planet Bike that are standard AA battery powered, but not sure on the length of time. I've still got some research to do.
Meanwhile I'm racking by brain on finding something more I can do with bike commuting or the like. Not sure what all that will look like, but I feel I'm just on the tip of the proverbial iceberg on this matter. I really enjoy commuting by bike and would like it to be more...I'll know it when I see it or something like that.
9 more miles tonight. I think that puts me at 66...my calculations may be a little off since I did not have my cyclometer for the whole week. Oh well...if I can ride over 60 miles each week I'll be happy.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
I'm also fortunate that the Denver area has a lot of bike access. I hope the area continues to develop a strong bike commuter and cyclist awareness.
Here's to a week on a bike and almost 60 miles.
Friday, August 1, 2008
I may put more thought into my posts as I continue, but for now I just hope to post everyday.
As for the rants...chalk it up to crazy.
A beer sounds good.
I'm coming up on my first week as a dedicated bike commuter. I had my first car ride in the last 6 days today to go climbing in the morning, but it wasn't my car. Makes me happy.
I was checking out Bike Hugger today and they offered the coolest thing...a great reminder to cyclists and motorists to watch out for one another...Ride Civil. Bike Hugger is offering the symbol created specifically in response to incidents in Seattle, NYC and other cities. You can read more on the web site.
It's a really great idea and I hope a lot of people take advantage of it. I can remember when Boise, Idaho attempted it's first critical mass demonstration. As great a symbol as many cyclists and their bikes coming together to create awareness, a lot of planning and thought has to go into the demonstration. Boise's critical mass was a great idea, but it didn't communicate the message of awareness it just pissed motorists off more than usual. People can get hurt and that's not the point...a critical mass is an attempt to communicate an awareness of cyclists to motorists. That was in 1998 or so...a lot has changed and Boise is a great place to cycle and bike commute.
Cyclists are vehicles too and they work hard to abide by the same laws that motorists must follow. Unfortunately cycling in traffic and on roads can create friction and even lead to injury or death. The real scary news is that cyclists can get injured while on bike paths too. Many bike paths...such as the 470 path here in Denver, CO, cross roads and intersections. If both the motorist and cyclist are not paying attention the absolute worst is possible. I'm sure we all know cars can do a lot more damage than a bike in a collusion.
Let's Ride Civil and keep an eye out for one another...many motorists are cyclists too. Sharing the road means a lot when I am not on a bike trail or lane.
A bit over 14 miles today...and possibly more.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I use the site to map stores, restaurants and other places like the library. My work commute is around 4 miles so I use the map more as a reference depending on whether I am going from my residence or from work. It's been very helpful.
Clif Bar is also visiting different cities to keep the 2 Mile Challenge ball rolling. Pretty cool stuff. It is amazing the difference we can make by just riding a bike a couple of miles to get lunch or do a little mid-week grocery shopping.
To take the challenge use the link above to visit the site and go through the steps. Have some fun!
Day 4, by the way, and another 8.5 miles.
Today was mostly a late work day...I did, however, strap a lot more to my bike than usual. Along with a full pannier I also strapped a new air mattress on my bike rack. It wasn't the prettiest, but it worked and it doesn't look like I lost anything from the ride.
9 miles total today...like the new cyclometer.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
This is my urban commuter bike. I've added some accessories this file photo does not show...I will put a photo of my bike up soon.
The Buzz series bikes by Novara have been around for a while. I really liked this bike and did a lot of looking around before I decided this would be the best bike for me. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, but I also wanted the most "bang" for my buck. The Buzz V (V because of the use of "V" brakes as opposed to the disk brakes used on the other Buzz models) offers a lot for it's under $500 price tag. I like the chromoly frame because it is tough and makes for a smooth ride on the road and bike paths. The bike is well built...I have no worries hopping curbs and the puncture resistant tires hold up to the occational off-road ventures. This has really been an around-the-town bike. I also really like the simplicity...I rarely worry about my bike when it is locked-up or when I just park it to run inside the store.
The Buzz V does come with the fenders. Despite the fact people told me it rarely rains in Denver the fenders have come in useful when the afternoon thunderstorms roll in.
All in all I really like this bike. I'm glad it's what will get me around for the coming months.
Monday, July 28, 2008
The point I hope to eventually get to is promoting bike commuting. It may seem like a small thing, or at least not worth the time or trouble, but the benefits are worth it in my opinion.
Hopefully as I report on my progress as a bike commuter you can see (and so can I) the real benefits and sacrifices (we all have to make some sacrifices in life) of, not just commuting, but living with a bike for transportation.
I think we have become spoiled by cars and inexpensive fuel. There are real alternatives...they may not be for everyone, but if those of us who could really take the challenge to bike commute it would make a difference.
I did the rest of my shopping today after work. Big Lots and the Dollar Store...I can't wait for the Sunflower Farmers' Market to open.
I also purchased a bike computer to more accurately keep track of my miles on the bike.
I figure that I have spent about $400 on the bike and accessories. It cost about $40 to fill up my car every 2 weeks...so it will take me about 5 months to pay off the bike just with the money I save from not buying gas. I know for some people it is more like $40 per week and would only take half that time.
I know you can't take your kids to the soccer game on a bike, but maybe you can bike to the store once or twice a week. Spend time with your family by biking around the neighborhood instead of watching the tv (if this seems extreme you can record the shows or view them later on-line).
It really doesn't take much...biking will not only save money from fuel, but you can be more healthy because of it.
I will get off my soapbox now.
Over 8 miles today.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Today I begin life as a commuter without a car. Not bad. A few months ago I purchased a Novara Buzz V from REI ($449 retail). I have already put over 400 miles on it since I purchased it, but now it is my transportation along with public transportation.
In the coming weeks I hope to report on my progress as a bike commuter.
I did some grocery shopping tonight on the bike...I have some panniers (saddle bags) that I used. Took a little bit to fit everything, but it worked out fine (though my bananas were a little bruised).
I'll continue to update the blog as time goes on, but for now...my first day without a car!
4 official miles today