Sunday, September 14, 2008

A short note

Another weekend has come and gone. The weather was decent enough and I got in a couple rides. Even though I do not miss having a car, I do miss being able to go places pretty the store.

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 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

2 weeks!

Looks like I haven't posted in about 2 weeks. In some ways it goes by quickly...and in others not so much.

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

Rest and Relaxation

I kinda took the day off today. I only rode about 7 miles and went sailing instead of a big ride to let my legs rest a bit. The 7 miles was uphill on the way to my friend's house with the sail boat (catamaran to be more specific), but that meant a nice downhill on the way back after a morning of a little sailing on a local reservoir. The wind was calm...good thing since I've only been sailing once before. It was fun.

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

Of bikes, blogs and clothing...1st complete month.

August has been the first calendar month I have been bike commuting. So far I have over 300 miles since I started in July. I'll have to see how many miles I had at the end of July to get the breakdown for August. More to come on that.

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 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'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!