Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The BAG I'm in

Took my first ride of the year today. Unlike my first ride of 2018, I did not get any flats. I'm hopeful that 2019 will go as smoothly as my first ride.  Also unlike last year's ride, I tried some difficult hill climbs. I don't love climbing hills, but I don't hate it anymore either. I also get a thrill out of realizing that I'm in better shape now than I was twenty years ago.

Like many cyclists who live in urban areas, I belong to a bicycle advocacy group (BAG). That's not altruistic on my part. It's purely pragmatic. My BAG advocates not only for better bicycle infrastructure, but for better roads in general.

It used to be that I would go about half-a-mile out of my way to avoid three blocks of severe potholes on the way downtown. No longer;  the advocacy group got the city to repave the worst of the bike route. The potholes are gone, the bike lane repainted.

A year ago I had to add a mile to my trip if I were coming back from getting coffee. But...yup, the local BAG (in combination with a pedestrian advocacy group) got the city to add a protected bike path that actually cuts more than a mile off of the trip. The path was originally set to be paint-only, but the city was persuaded to modify that plan for the greater protection of cyclists.

I paused a moment before entering this lane, because I was so jazzed about it.

One of the things I really love about my local BAG is that they're transparent. Via their web site, they inform the public of what they're doing and what progress they have made.

And a bonus picture:

Should there be sharrows on the sidewalk for these guys?
In keeping with my standard New Year's Eve celebration, I stayed home and didn't celebrate in any way. And for the twentieth year in a row, I didn't make any resolutions. 

Happy New Year to both of my regular readers!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye to all that....

Goodbye to 2018.  I'm hoping for better from 2019.

I've been on-and-off the bike for a while, but am planning the first of what I hope will be a series of  frequent recreational rides. The first one will be tomorrow, exploring some of the new bike paths that have sprung up while I was being a commuter.

And here's the obligatory picture. It's a bike path in Prague. Prague is a fairly bike-friendly town, though Budapest is more so. This is just a better picture, since most of the bike paths I saw in Budapest were only(!) protected bike paths on  larger streets.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

vicious cycle

I cycle so that I can eat what I want and maintain my weight.

I eat a lot so I can have the energy to cycle.

This post courtesy of my birthday beer.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


There's a charity ride coming up in April that benefits local schools. I've done the ride twice before. A nice forty-five miles mostly through beautiful country. And honestly, I know I could do it again, even though I've been largely a commuter since the last time I did it.

But do I want to?

There are the pros.  The camaraderie of riding with a like-minded group. The simple joy of taking a ride that you don't get to take all that often. And the great lunch. Great lunch.

There are the cons. I know there are some. I just can't think of any right now. Oh, there might be a headwind. That's one. And my front shifter could stop working, the way it did last April. And I might have to invest in a new bottom bracket before tackling a ride that long.

To ride or not to ride? That's half the question.

The other half is which route to ride. There is a slightly longer route of sixty-eight miles that I could ride. Last year, the ride leader for the easy training rides encouraged me to try it. And darn if it doesn't sound like it could be fun.

Still pondering. Still waiting for that kick in the pants that will tell me I have to do it. Or not.

Mandatory picture. Nothing to do with bikes. It's the funicular up to Budapest Castle.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


If you just read the title of this post, you might think it was about something I'd achieved recently. Well, I'm writing my first blog post in quite a while; is that an achievement? I tend to think no. Did I go on a long bike ride? No, my longest rides in the past month have been commute rides; about five miles each way, depending on which way I decide to go to and return from work.

But it's achievement that I've been thinking about a lot lately. I recently read a 2017 article on the BBC website called "The Compelling Case For Working A Lot Less." And the conclusion I drew from this article is: you don't have to focus on achievement.  You don't have to take a twenty to thirty mile bike ride every weekend. You don't have to use every spare moment to try to improve whatever it is you're trying to improve. Walk away from constant striving, and you'll accomplish more.

End of philosophical section. Without segue, here is some bikey content with actual pictures...

Sunday, July 1, 2018

almost back to bikes

I've been riding a little, largely commuting, working on getting back the cardiovascular fitness I would swear I had before going on vacation. Vacation was great - walking six hours a day keeps your walking muscles in shape -- but it doesn't do a great deal of good for your biking muscles or your lungs. At least I don't think so, but I'm hardly an expert in these matters.

Outside of work and biking, I've been concentrating on music. I think I've felt guilty for not practicing for quite a while. Then I ran into this quote by American poet Mary Oliver that pushed me back into practicing more than I've done in a while:

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”


But I've been thinking about bikes. Largely negatively, but I am thinking about them. Ok, maybe my negativity is focused on my fitness, which seems to be an up and down thing. But since my fitness is largely dependent on biking...you get the idea.

I've also been thinking negative thoughts about the bike industry. Those thoughts center around what I can only think of as poor design decisions. Namely, that all of the higher end (more expensive) bikes come with drop bars.

I am a big fan of riding upright. I never ride in the drops, because...well, because it's uncomfortable.  So, I'm pretty much a fan of flat bar bikes. And I notice that most of the flat bar bikes I see for sale are sort of...well...under-equipped. Excepting the big-ticket mountain bikes, most flat-bar bikes have what I think of as entry-level components. The better grade of components seem to be reserved for drop-bar bikes.

Why is this? I think it's because flat bar bikes are thought of as entry level, while drop bar bikes are for serious riders.

I have an ideal in my mind, and perhaps this is only my ideal. It's a touring-style bike, road frame but with a slightly longer chainstay, flat bar, triple crankset, and trigger shifters. Ideally, the flat bar would be something like a Jones bar (or the Surly Moloko bar), but really any flat bar will do. One bike I've seen that comes close is the VSF Fahrradmanufaktur  T-700. Hey, aktiv Radfahren magazine gives it a "sehr gut" rating.
This bike does look sehr gut to me. (Photo owned by VSF Fahrradmanufaktur.)
But it seems the only option for this kind of bicycle in America is having one custom-built, which I'm not willing to do. Well, I am willing to do it -- but not for the money it would cost.

Time to get ready for today's ride. See you soon.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

back to bikes, but not quite yet

I've just returned from two weeks in Eastern Europe, and I'll be posting a few pictures as I cull out the bad ones.

Here's one from Krakow, Poland.

I didn't eat here, so I can't comment on the quality. But the sign didn't really sell me on trying the cafe.