Archive for the ‘General Cycling’ Category
Last Friday, my local bike advocacy group, Bike Friendly Richardson, hosted our 5th annual Black Friday Bike Ride. The event isn’t a race, a charity ride or even an advocacy statement. The Black Friday Ride is just a nice, alternative way to spend the country’s busiest shopping day by riding a bike, instead of dealing with mad rush of crowds fighting over flat screen TVs. Unlike shopping, the ride is a relaxed, low paced, no-drop cruise around town.
This year’s group was amazing as always. On bikes ranging from mountain to road, a little over a dozen riders gathered at the new Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson. As a group ride leader, this is a good amount. Fewer is ok, but once the group gets over 30 riders, it becomes difficult to manage.
The cruise took us through some remarkable neighborhoods in Richardson. I always hear comments from folks that didn’t know these areas existed. As we rolled into the north part of town, past the University of Texas, Dallas campus, we stopped at the Pearl Cup for a nice little break.
On the ride back, we had to make a small emergency stop. One of our riders got a flat. The group waited patiently as the repair was made, which gave us a chance to visit with each other a little more – something you don’t get waiting in the long lines at Wal-mart.
At the end of the ride, which totaled a little under eleven miles, a few of us grabbed a beer at the Glass Half Full Taproom, which is connected to the Alamo Drafthouse. They had an amazing selection of brews on tap that would impress any craft beer aficionado. It’s great to have places like this and the Pearl Cup in Richardson.
Overall, the ride was great and the riders were happy. We hope to continue the tradition of the Black Friday Ride for years to come. Here are some pics:
We took a trip to Oak Cliff last weekend to check out M’Antiques. As you can guess, instead of the vintage lace doilies, mismatched tea sets and creepy porcelain dolls, M’Antiques is an antique store geared more for men. They have cool stuff, like army surplus, old radios, school lockers, vintage copies of Playboy, and bikes.
Unfortunately, most of the bikes were rusting, outside in their yard – which was more like a bicycle graveyard. Happy Halloween!
I’m in this weird place with my cycling gear. Part of me wants to remain anti-spandex/synthetic and wear just my everyday clothes when I ride. I don’t want to be one of those guys in the ‘kit’, screaming to others, “I’m a cyclist.” However, everyday street clothes are pretty uncomfortable for riding anything more than a few miles. Plus, given how your body changes it’s core temperature while riding, and sweat kicks in, street clothes aren’t very practical.
I’ve looked into the cool cycling gear that looks like street clothes and I’m highly interested. I love the styles and the usefulness, bringing cyclist-friendly cuts and fabrics into a look that I can appreciate. Unfortunately, that stuff is really expensive for a guy on my limited budget.
Visibility is another issue. When I ride around town, I want drivers to see me, so I’ve been seeking clothes with some brighter colors or reflective accents. There are some great options at my local bike shops, designed for cyclist – still very expensive.
I like when I run across alternate options that are within budget. I found this Starter brand running jacket at Walmart for $12. It may not be cut for a cyclist, but properly layered, it will deflect cold, wind and light rain well enough to get through winter. The high-vis yellow on top (although I wish it were lower) is a bonus.
I don’t typically like to track how much I ride. It takes all the fun out of riding and turns it into a goal driven function.
That being said, it’s kind of interesting to see how much my riding has improved. Because I had taken part of the National Bike Challenge for the past two years, I’ve been using the service, Endomondo to record my riding. The cool thing about Endomondo is that it keeps my records to compare my current riding with how I did on previous years.
It looks like I rode more this year than last. The only difference is that I’ve done more ‘sport’ riding than before, while my commuting distance is about the same. The term ‘sport’ riding isn’t exactly accurate, and if you read this blog, you know it doesn’t really apply to me. Unfortunately, Endomondo has only two categories for cycling and ‘commuting’ is the other. If I did a ride that didn’t involve a destination or replacing a car ride, I would have to classify it as ‘sport’. This is something that could easily be fixed by adding a third category: ‘pleasure’ or ‘fun’.
Although I ride all year long, my heavy riding season only spans from April through September. During this time, which happen to have longer days, I ramp up my riding and bicycle commuting. This season I managed to bike ‘commute’ over 1,130 miles and ‘sport’ ride for another 410. According to the Endomondo stats – based on my body type – I was able to burn over 90,000 calories and save 937 pounds of C02.
These stats may not seem too high for some folks, but for me, it’s an accomplishment that makes me proud. I hope to continue to improve my riding stats and increase my distance every year (Not that I really care. Right?).
September has been pretty busy for me, so work and personal life have priority over most anything else — even riding. This is especially sad, since the weather has been awesome the past few days. I do manage to get in a ride or two after work — I keep my single speed up at the office for emergency after-work wind downs. I also squeeze in a couple of short rides on the weekend.
Last weekend I did an urban assault in Dallas with my buddy, Jason:
Even when I’m not riding, I see bicycling all around me.
I took a ride with my buddy on Saturday and we tried a new route. On that new stretch, we ran across this strange looking object – a huge eye, just beyond a fence, looking straight at us. It was interesting how it was placed so randomly with the construction, and I’m sure there’s a story behind that.
I also took a ride on Sunday to get more pictures of local sculptures for a scavenger hunt I will be hosting in October. That morning, I ran across some interesting characters: a sleeping bum (odd in the ‘burbs), an opossum, and this little guy (see below). The Nine-banded Armadillo is the state mammal (small) of Texas, but you rarely see them alive and 3 dimensional (at least along the road). He looked like a giant pill bug with a head, a tail and furry legs.
In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I bike commute to work from time to time. One of my biggest hurtles in doing so in north Texas, is the heat and how much perspiration I generate. Since we don’t have a shower facility at my office, I’ve been searching for the best solution to remove the sweat and odor that I produce on my rides in. The last thing I need to be is offensive to my co-workers.
My typical solution is wet wipes. They’re a quick and easy fix to removing sweat and grime from a morning commute. However, I still felt like I wasn’t getting clean enough. I searched the web for a better solution, but there aren’t very many good options available.
As explained here, “body odor mainly originates from the apocrine glands in the armpits, which release a thick, oily sweat rich in proteins and lipids which bacteria on the skin feed on.”
This season, I’ve added witch hazel, in a spray bottle, to my post-ride cleanup. According to Wikipedia, Witch hazel ”is a plant extract (that) was widely used for medicinal purposes by American Indians and is a component of a variety of commercial healthcare products. It’s mainly used externally on sores, bruises, and swelling. Witch hazel hydrosol is used in skin care.”
Unlike rubbing alcohol or water, I’ve discovered that witch hazel does a better job at removing the smelly waste of that natural bacteria – without drying your skin.
It’s not a perfect solution. I’m not a big fan of the smell of the witch hazel, so I put in a few drops of my wife’s tea tree essential oil to help freshen it up. I’m sure any well-scented oil would work just as well. Eventually, I might try a variation of this natural deodorant spray, and see if I can come up with a spray-on/wipe-off shower version.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with supplementing my wet wipes with the witch hazel spray. It’s not a true shower, but it’s a nice way to feel a bit fresher and smell a bit cleaner during the day.
I’d be interested in trying other post-ride cleanup solutions. If you have any suggestions, please comment here or send them my way.
A couple of new businesses have opened near me, and both have really cool rack systems for bike parking.
The first is Whole Foods in Addison. Although it’s bittersweet that they closed the store that was closer to me, their new store in Addison is pretty impressive. What makes it even more impressive is their cool bike racks that are in the shape of bicycles.
The next business is the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Richardson. Not only has this become one of the hottest destinations in town, it also has an amazing lineup of bike racks that are in the shape of film reels.
I’m glad that both of these businesses care enough about cyclists, and got really creative with their bike parking. This shows that there are some forward-thinking business owners that care about supporting alternate transportation, the local bike culture and a strong community.
I hope that bike parking, like this, continues to be an ongoing trend with new construction around town.
Well, it’s been just over a year since I got my bike mirror and it’s already broken. Other than this unexpected death, I was quite happy with this mirror. It was small and – as far as bike mirrors go – pretty discrete. The interesting thing is that I never realized how much I used it until my ride home yesterday. Although I did not use it for lane change scans, I did use it to gauge the amount of traffic behind me – which was apparently quite often.
I plan on replacing this with something built a little better. Let me know if you have any suggestions.