Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good Sunday Ride

So I haven't posted in a few days. Not to's not because I haven't been riding. Just a lot going on and little time to write.

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

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.

29 days and 224 miles

Works out to a little more than 7 miles a day. Not too bad considering about 5 days I didn't ride because I took some time away.

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

Add some buzz to the Buzz

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

Long day

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

My Buzz V
Originally uploaded by Buzz Commuter 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'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

Lazy day

I didn't do much today, and it was a pretty nice day. I mostly slept in preparation of an night shift.

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.

Rain, Rain, Rain

My late work hours continue, but I do have Sunday (I think that is today) off.

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 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 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

Novara Buzz Video - 2008

Here's a little video from Novara on the Buzz bikes for 2008. I know they will probably have a new one soon for the 2009 series of the Buzz family, but this has some great footage of the Buzz V I love so much.

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

Week 3 & Buzz 29er

It's the third week into bike commuting. Adding more miles...not much more than to work and back however. My schedule has changed for the next week or so and I will have some late shifts.

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

Back in the saddle...

Beck to the bike after a short vacation with my wife. She returned to our home yesterday. We ended up borrowing a car for the weekend. It was very nice to be able to apply some re-use to the vehicle needs. Thanks again to my friends for letting us use their car.

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

Another day...rain

I always enjoy a ride in the rain. My Buzz came with fenders so I don't worry about a stripe or getting too wet from the wheels. My lightweight jacket is one I tested for a current REI lightweight bike rain jacket. Mine has a few differences, and it's fun to use...I guess I'm still testing it out.

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

A little Buzz history

I wrote to the head of the Novara team at REI to see if I could find out some of the history of the Novara Buzz urban commuters.

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 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

Second Week

So I have began my second week of bike commuting. The Denver area stays pretty hot this time of year and I am looking forward to the fall. Winter, on the other hand, should prove interesting for commuting.

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 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

Day 7

This week has passed very quickly. It almost doesn't feel like I am just bike commuting. I am very fortunate that I live only 4 miles from work and that I have the time to use my bike to get around.

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.

one last word...

If you ride at night please use lights. They aren't that expensive and make all the difference for letting motorists know you are on the road.

Add 6 more miles to my total today.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Rants and poor grammar - Day 6 continued

I was re-reading a couple posts and noticed how much I must love to rant. I also see a lot of poor grammar. Now, while I'm not saying I need to have everything perfect, I just want to say that I'm working more from a stream of consciousness.

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.

Ride Civil - day 6 without a car

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.