Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving

In the United States, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. One of the traditions of Thanksgiving, at least in my family, was to go from person to person at the dinner table and have everyone say what they're thankful for.

So: I'm thankful that I have a bike, and that I'm physically well enough to ride. That's only one thing I'm thankful for, but...well, this is a biking blog, right?

I'm also thankful that places like this are within riding distance of my house:
Here I am wearing my fanciest cycling clothes
For those of you who don't celebrate Thanksgiving, today is the birthday of Harpo Marx, and you can certainly celebrate that -- perhaps by watching Duck Soup?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The great beauties of Europe

It's raining today. It's raining really hard. Hard enough that I can't get out on my bike. This makes me grumpy. On days like this, one or more of a few things might occur. I might pick up a musical instrument and play a while. I might watch a movie. Or I might just let my mind wander.

Today I let my mind wander into the future (imagine that there was a dramatic sounding echo on "the future"). In the next year, I'm hoping to travel to the EU, and perhaps stop in England when I'm there. Of course, when I think of that part of the world, I think of some of the bicycles that are available there that we in the US don't see very often if at all.

The bikes I'm thinking of aren't the fancy racing bikes of Italy.  They aren't the carbon wonder bikes you might see in the Tour de France. They're not even the "bike next door": the Dutch City bike.

The bikes I'm thinking of are the sensibly specified bikes made for traveling. The down-to-earth bikes that will see you though inclement weather. The bikes that will allow you to climb serious hills no matter how slowly you do it or what age you are. The bikes, in other words, that you can stay with.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

double lament

Grant Petersen, owner of Rivendell Bicycle, has often expressed the idea that "racing culture" is taking the fun out of bicycle riding.  That many cyclists, adopting racers as role models, bring an intensity and an attitude to riding that turns every ride into a competition.

I think: well, you want to be a racer, great, go for it. Find a place you can safely race and have fun. As long as you don't hurt anyone. And as long as you're not racing in commute traffic. And...I could go on, but I believe you understand.

Going fast is fun, indeed it is. Pushing pedestrians and slower commute bikers out of the way in a dangerous manner is less fun.  And...one thing....try to realize when you're biking during commute hours that it is extremely unlikely that other people on bikes want to compete with you. 

And Mr. Racer, I can pretty much assure you that the families on the multi-use path that you travel at 30 mph are not there to race you. Or even to see you race.

Ok, that was it. I'll stop yelling now.

Or not.

I believe that another harmful side effect of the trend towards racing culture it that bicycle-makers now feel that they must cater to the racing crowd. It might be something as benign sounding as using a compact crankset on a bike that is ostensibly for touring (and has a 9-speed cassette). Or the trend toward 1x11 drivetrains (which I've heard is a cyclocross thing).

The end effect of all this is that bicycle manufacturers are not making real-world bikes. They're giving us "lifestyle" bikes, but with a high performance SRAM drivetrain. Or touring bikes with 2x9 gearing, when a 3x9 setup would make the bike a more serious contender for touring.

I do realize that bike companies stay in business by offering the latest and greatest. But here's an idea: what if a bicycle maker put out a series of bikes advertised as "real bikes for your real life"? Bikes that would make it easier for the average person to get on a bike and do the shopping or run errands? Maybe start the line with a step-through or compact frame bike with a seven-speed internal gear hub? Perhaps make sure that the parts on the bike are easily replaceable standard components? And start them at five hundred dollars, not seven hundred.

Or perhaps there's someone making a bike like that right now, and I just don't know about it. If you know, please share the knowledge.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Another coffeeneuring ride outside of the rules

I think this ride is outside of the stated rules of coffeeneuring. As I recall, coffeeneuring is supposed to take place only on the weekends unless your days off are during the week; I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

This was my coffeeneuring treat today:


The pastry is a Kouign-amann filled with apple chunks.  It is absolutely as delicious as it looks.

Here's a photo of the cafe I stopped at:
As far as I can tell, the name of the place is "Cafe". I'll stick with that.

Place: Cafe
Date: Nov 11, 2016
Drink: Cappucino
Observation: Good coffee, great pastries, a little hipster-ish for my tastes. But all the seats were outside, and the day was balmy, so all is well.

If you're bored by coffeeneuring, rest assured that there is some different stuff coming in this space, in which I will express my uninformed but semi-educated opinions and tell you why I think Grant Petersen is right vis-a-vis racing culture and it's effect on recreational cycling. And I promise not to do it using any more run-on sentences because as we all know, run-on sentences are an offense against both good grammar and good taste.

Monday, November 7, 2016

another (kind of) try at (sort of) coffeeneuring

Sunday, November 6th. I find myself jonesing for a bike ride like I've never jonesed for one before.

About a week ago, I did something...I don't know what...but it sent my back muscles into spasms. Today was the first day I've been able to get on the bike without pain since then.

And I thought, "Well, my entire day is open. Why don't I try coffeeneuring again?" So...

Coffeeneuring without a goal is probably not the way to go. I don't know if it's even possible within the definition of coffeeneuring. Fortunately, there was an actual cafe I wanted to go to. Here is a photo of the actual coffee I had at the actual cafe:


Place: Actual Cafe (yes, that is the actual name of the place)
Date: Nov 6, 2016
Drink: Latte
Observation: Bike friendly place (you can bring your bike inside if the interior racks have room). Coffee was good.

I had a comfortable table outside. It was a cool overcast day, and the combination of the weather and the lack of traffic gave the whole thing a very relaxed feeling.

Coffeneuring done, I found that I had only been out for about two hours. And I still hadn't satisfied that urge to ride. So...what to do? Did a little research, and found that there was a new coffee shop opened by Bicycle Coffee, a local roaster. (They deliver coffee by bicycle.) And it was only four miles away from where I was, so....

Here it is...the Bicycle Coffee Cafe:

It was remarkably uncrowded, considering that their coffee is some of the best in the area. Oh, yeah, coffee!
Place: Bicycle Coffee Cafe
Date: Nov 6 2016
Drink: Cafe Au Lait
Observation: Very bike friendly. Below you can see a picture of my bike inside the cafe.


The barista encouraged me to bring my bike inside, then complimented me on having such a nice ride. I don't like to be smug about it, but my bike is a thing of beauty.

Total distance covered? About fifteen miles. I think I set some kind of record for riding slowly, because I was out for about five hours.

Side note: my town has loads of great murals! Here's one of the many I saw on my ride. Not bike-related, but still cool.


Finished up with a visit to the bike store (of course), where they told me that my bike had a loose rear hub. Fortunately there was no damage because of this, and the bike rode more smoothly after the hub was tightened up. I also did another test ride, but I'll talk about that at some future date.

I've read the coffeeneuring rules again, and I now realize I may have broken a rule by stopping at more than one place. I'm hopeful that this infraction during coffeeneuring training won't endanger my chances of getting a patch when I actually...um...compete?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The more things change, the more I want to change things.

For months, I've been searching for a bike that fills some of the functional areas that my current bike doesn't. That's "fancy-speak" for "I want another bike because I want another bike." Let's face it; bikes are cool.

What can a new bike do that my bike can't? Well, it could be more sporty. Or easier to set up for touring. Or...I don't know. I do know this: for my next bike I want a steel frame with drop bars. Of all the bikes I've ridden that fulfill both of these criteria, my favorite has been the 2017 Vaya Deore.

I'm pretty sure I need to credit Salsa for this next picture. The bike is so beautiful, I just wanted to show it here.


Look at those wide tires and that beautiful steel fork. And that lovely straight top tube. Nice combination of SRAM and Shimano components in the drivetrain (no, I can't tell by looking; I read the specs).