Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Like a lion

It's the fourth day of March! If you wanted to get some February riding in, well, it's just too darned late. It's the perfect time to want to get some good March riding in, though. That's the good news.

I rode to school today, of course. I was fortunate in that it snowed Sunday night and was cause for school to be cancelled yesterday. After I started today, I became slightly alarmed about my decision. There were quite a few stretches of ice still remaining on the street. I've already toppled over once due to ice and was forced to make a major repair on the bike, and didn't want to risk injury. Obviously, I made it without incident.

I'm getting anxious for the warm, sunny weather. I want to go beyond my usual commute by bike and do some recreational riding this spring and summer. I want to try an S24O (that's Sub TwentyFour hour Overnight) bike camp trip with at least one or possibly two of my sons.

I'd also like to get my wife on the bike to do a small weekend supported tour, but we'll see how things work out.

I have a surplus of bikes to sell this spring, too.

Lots of things taking place.

I hope where you are things thaw out soon. Keep commuting by bicycle!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Some pix

My youngest going along in the "wee-ride".
Well, at least one courageous reader commented a long time ago they'd like to see some pictures in addition to the "wonderfully descriptive and engaging writing" (I quoted myself there!).  So, I recently came out from under a log and learned how to do that and here are some old pictures. Enjoy!
Delivering mother and aunt to Oklahoma Freewheel in '11?

These show the reflective measures I've taken to increase visibility.
So, there you go. I don't have many pictures, but there are at least a few.
Keep on commuting by bike!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'm scared to look...

I'm scared to look at how it's been since I last updated the Midwest Bicycle Commuter. I'd like to claim I haven't updated lately because I've been out on adventures across the U.S. bicycle camping, but I haven't. Truth be told, I haven't even kept up my commitment to bicycle commuting this year 2014. I am now, again. However I drove my car to work all of January and until Monday February 17. That's the longest span of driving my car to work I've had in three or four or maybe five years. I don't keep track very well.

Let me tell you about a small crash I had in the closing weeks of 2013. The Friday before classes were to be dismissed on the following Tuesday,  at the high school where I teach English, I rode my bike to school as usual. It was getting pretty darned cold, no joke. there was a thin little bitty layer of ice or slick moisture on the road which I navigated safely all the way across town. I made it all the way to the school and through the parking lot and up onto the sidewalk right next to the bike rack where I do my bike parking. I rode up from the parking lot surface to the raised concrete sidewalk using the concrete ramp and when I straightened out to parallel with the concrete, the bike completely went out from under me and slammed down on the non-drive side.

Of course there were many students and faculty around and I jumped up and played it off as nothing. A student caught my attention indicating I'd dropped something. I figured it was one of my blinkies. No. it was my pedal. Not just my pedal, but the entire crank arm still connected to the pedal. The "spindle", or "axle", whichever is correct, or neither, had sheared off. It's 5/8" thick solid metal and it sheared right off.

I found a replacement at my LBS, which is Sunflower Outdoor in Lawrence, Kansas. I gathered it was not the exact specific one I needed, but was very close to it, enough for my needs at any rate. I put it together over Christmas Break and tried it out and was pleased that it worked.

When school resumed, it was frigid cold, and we were getting snow and sleet and I just decided I wanted to drive during that period. And... so... here we are.

Today was in the 40's on the way to school and I'm glad to be back commuting by bike. should be on it consistently until the summer break begins.

I'll try to be more consistent with this blog as well.

As usual (or rather sporadially!) keep on commuting by bike!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Who are we?

Who are we? That's an existential question if I've ever heard one! What I mean by positing that question is, who are we who ride bicycles?
The reason I ask is I want to know if cyclists are second rate citizens and do we have a good idea when we ride bikes?
I recognize we are not second rate citizens, but I can't help but get the impression some people believe us to be. I'm sincerely amazed at some lawmaker's attitudes toward cyclists, and some business owners' attitudes towards cyclists as well. At times I feel frustrated and hurt by how easily cyclists can be discounted. Cyclists' safety and status is often sacrificed for the sake of money. I can appreciate the role money plays in our economy and the timely delivery of goods and its relationship to the road system. It's just disappointing to me when the reality of the world becomes evident. The bottom line is, the disappointing reality of the way of the world is cyclists come second place (if that) to profit.
Here is where I'm torn. I'm all for profit. Dedication and effort should be rewarded. Business is a competition and every factor should be considered to maximize profits. Conversely, I fully appreciate the value of those childhood values of sharing and being nice. Often, these childhood values and the full brunt of the awful bottom line of doing business are in conflict.
It's true, I visualize a utopian existence where those of us who ride bicycles are many and safe and appreciated and perhaps even segregated from vehicular traffic. Those of us who ride our bikes know for certain if only a person would give cycling a chance, they too would become believers and find their lives improved by the activity.
I don't know. I don't mean to be a Donnie Downer, but I would so like for us all to get what we want, and I know that's not possible. Why do I have to be the one on the underdog's side?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Slippery when wet

Sorry to disappoint you, but this will not be a recap of a bicycle crash upon wet pavement. The title is a cliche' attempt at catching readers' attention. The much less exciting account of a bike ride, unrelated to anything in the title excepting the "wet" portion is as follows.

So, last year at some point during the rainy season and my commute back and forth to school in said rainy season, I wore out the pants half of my two piece rain suit. The upper half, the jacket, remained in tact while the pants developed a distressing, huge, tear right in the crotch to the point that, when worn, more closely resembled chaps than pants.

At the conclusion of the school year, when my commuting came to a decidedly abrupt hiatus, I determined to rid myself of the offending water repellent clothing article, and did just that via placing them without ceremony into the waste receptacle in our garage. Fast forward through the summer and the opening weeks of school.

Last night I left the school at 7:30 and it was dark and pretty well pouring down rain in big wet drops. It was when I sought to extricate my rain suit from my back pack and only found the jacket portion of the suit available to me that I remembered my earlier actions. That was the moment I also remembered that I had not replaced the damaged pants with new, or otherwise intact, rain pants.

The short story is I rode through the dark and rain to get home, on my bike of course, and arrived at home with my top half dry and snug and with my bottom half soaking, drenching, wet. I was fortunate in that the temperature was not cold, otherwise I would have been miserable. As it was, the temperature was right at 70 degrees and the ride was not unpleasant.

This weekend, I must replace my rain gear before the reverse happens to me and I must arrive to the high school with a soak, drenched, wet bottom half. That would be much less convenient than arriving at home sweet home in similar fashion.

So, that's on my to do list.

What rain gear have you found to be most convenient and effective from a work commuting perspective? Please leave a comment if so led.

As usual, be safe out there and keep on commuting by bike!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A career in the bicycle industry

Good Monday to you.

May I request your help in finding a new career in the bicycle industry? If you know some people that could help me out, please inform me. I'm interested.

I am ready to move my family where there a perceived benefits to cyclists in the form of driver attitudes and cyclists' resources. I'm also ready to try my hand at promoting the bicycle in a  new direction from where it is focusing its attention today.

Again, please let me know if you know some people.  Thanks a lot!

Keep on commuting by bicycle!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Another Friday the 13th is almost gone

As usual, I've been commuting to work by bicycle. As usual, I've been wearing my fluorescent, reflective work vest for visibility, and also a pair of fluorescent, reflective work gloves. It's getting darker in the morning so that I use my blinking white light in front and my blinking red light for the rear. My helmet is pinstriped with reflective tape and in extreme cases I will activate my flashing red light attached to the tippy top of my helmet.Not much has changed in those respects.

Our high school has one bicycle rack already in place for use when I first began teaching here. I have determined the design is less than perfect. It's a homemade job the metal fabrication classes welded together out of 1/2 inch square tubing.It's a long horizontal bank of many vertical slots in which to insert the front wheel of a bicycle for storage and securing with a lock.

 My front wheel does not fit in the vertical slot. The slot is too short for my bike to enter fully. Also, the vertical slots are raised up off the ground a few inches with the result being that if I attempt to insert a portion of the front wheel of my bike into it, then the kickstand won't touch the ground to keep it upright. Another complaint is that now there are consistently too many bicycles making use of the rack for them all to fit. I've been in the habit of arriving earlier to the rack than others who need to use it. Therefore, I park my bicycle at the end of the rack leaned up against the rack, rather than with the front wheel inserted into the slot. Obviously, there are only two ends to the bike rack, so if they're taken I must attempt to secure my bike to the rack in the intended way, which means that by the time leave school and go to the rack, my bicycle has fallen over either by accident or by design.

I've been trying to think about just what would make the perfect bike rack. Probably part of the answer is to have more of them. As sure as one is made and installed, there will be less need for it. But that's the pessimist in me. In other words, if more bike racks are installed and the weather turns cold, most other cyclists will cease and desist from riding and all the racks will be virtually empty and the people with the money and authority to give the go ahead for the new racks will believe them to be a waste of time and resources at that point.

I think more racks might make it easier for others to park their bikes. I'm not idealistic enough to believe more racks will encourage more people to ride their bikes, but as my mother is fond of saying, "It's better to have them and not need them, than to need them and not have them!"

The same situation occurs all over town. There is no good place to park a bicycle if a person were so inclined to ride one to a downtown store for purchases or services. They would be forced to clutter the sidewalks with them, either secured to a signpost or light post or handrail, or they'd be left unsecured on the sidewalk, leaned on the kickstand. Either situation would be cause for complaints by pedestrians not on bicycle.

Nothing new there. Just some observations.