Archive for the ‘General Cycling’ Category
No, I’m not talking about the class of cyclist who, for whatever the reason, HAS to ride their bikes, instead of choosing to ride bikes—those who I feel are usually under-represented by mainstream advocacy efforts. That’s a topic for another post.
Right now, I’m referencing the guy in the picture. I noticed him heading down a pretty major arterial road, while I was taking one of my early morning walks. I know it’s a bad shot, but can you tell what he might be doing poorly? He’s got lights. He’s wearing a helmet. Do you think he is riding safely?
Quite frankly, what he’s doing isn’t enough. As an League Cycling Instructor, I try to lead by example and strive to be the most visible that I can be on the road – at any time of the day. I wish others would do the same.
Let’s start with his lighting. He has head and tail lights, but they were less than substantial and other road users could barely see them. This cyclist seems to have a false sense of security, thinking his rear light is enough. I prefer lights that are much brighter – and in multiples if possible. Along with having good lights, I like to have retroreflective elements. Although retroreflective gear is only as good as their placement, and the lighting that shines on it, every little bit adds up to supplement even the worse tail lights. I have reflective material on my helmet, my ankles, my backpack and on my bike.
Let’s talk about his clothing. It’s been stated that high-vis colors aren’t as effective at night. I’ve noticed that the best time to use those colors is during the early morning or dusk hours. They are also good during inclement weather, when the color spectrum of your environment becomes a dull range of gray. High-vis clothing wouldn’t have helped him too much at this moment, but it also wouldn’t hurt.
Finally, let’s talk about his lane position. In my town, a cyclist has the right to take the full lane, as long as it’s less than 15 feet wide. I know there is a school-of-thought out there, where cyclist feel safer being closer to the curb. They feel it puts them in a better defensive position to get out of the way if danger comes from behind. The problem with taking this position, is that it forces the need to ride defensively. Riding next to the curb reduces the ability for other road users – coming from any direction – to see you from further away. Being a defensive rider, who is mindful of your surrounding is good. However, adding a better, more visible, posture on the road helps give other road users more time to react, which reduces the need for defense.
I also noticed several cars passing this guy in his lane. Being so close to the curb was an invitation for cars to share the lane while they overtook him. Taking the lane reduces this, forcing cars to leave your lane when passing.
It’s been a while since I took my 23-year old, geared bike in for a tune-up. It was a combination of bad timing, limited funding, do-it-youself pride, embarrassment for putting it off, followed by the morbid fear that it would cost more than a new bike, that kept me from taking it in.
Bad timing, because I don’t give myself much of a down season. I didn’t feel like making the time to be without my bike for too long. Limited funding, because money for my bike is low priority compared to other expenses. Do-it-yourself pride allowed me to fudge my way around basic maintenance and cleaning. This led to my bike getting to an eventual state of serious wear – leaving me too embarrassed to bring it in.
My bike was showing some serious wear in the drivetrain. The chain, gears, shifters and hubs (all original) were really worn and loose – which made the bike hard to pedal. It was a rough ride, at best. I feared the cost of replacing or repairing these things may have been more than the bike was worth.
I decided to bite the bullet and take it in to my local bike shop, Richardson Bike Mart. One of their great mechanics took a quick look and gave me an assessment that took me by surprise. The repair and tune-up was going to cost me far less than I had anticipated. It needed a new cassette and chain, both would cost me about the same as a tank of gas. They said they would look at the hubs, shifter and everything else with the tune-up. If it needed any other new parts, or a more extensive repair, they would let me know. Fortunately, it didn’t.
When I got my bike back, I was blown away with how great it looked. That was nothing compared to how great it rode. The new cassette, chain and proper tune-up turned my old clunker into a sweet ride, and I truly enjoy riding it again.
If you’ve been putting off a good bike tune-up, I strongly recommend not being like me and waiting so long. Get it tuned-up now! Life is too short to ride a poorly adjusted bike. If you can’t tool on it, yourself, take it in to your favorite local bike shop. They can take care of you, and you’ll be putting money back into your local economy.
I know that I really can’t complain. Riding my bike during the winter in north Texas is nothing compared to riding up north. It still sucks.
The cold is one thing, but when you throw in winter rain and the occasional ice and snow storm, riding becomes a real chore. I hear the phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothing.” all the time. I just wish it were that easy. I do follow the rules of layering and dressing for the last mile, which really helps.
I also feel, having the right bike – or the right bike setup – is also key. At least, get a good set of fenders.
I’m so glad, spring is here and riding is much more pleasant. Bring on the summer.
I love supporting my local bike community.
A couple of local, Oak Cliff advocates and BFOC board members have a start up company manufacturing cargo bicycles right here in north Texas! Please help support them by checking out their rewards, many from other local businesses like Oil and Cotton and Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters! We’d love to see them reach their funding goal so they can design and build a new, scratch built cargo bicycle frame to compliment the recycled frames they’re currently building. Go to http://oakcliffcargobicycles.com/kickstarter or launch the campaign from the link below.
Originally posted on Oak Cliff Cargo Bicycles:
When I started back up with cycling, several years back, one of my goals was to become certified as a bike instructor – mostly to teach kids how to ride safely. With the support of a strong bike education community in my area, I was able to become an LCI – (League Cycling Instructor), certified by the League of American Cyclists.
With my certification, I am able to teach a broad range of classes that include Traffic Skills 101, Commuting, Bicycling Skills Youth 123 and Bicycling Skills 123. I’m also qualified to teach Group Riding Skills, but quite frankly, I only prefer to teach those with little or no cycling experience.
I’ve taught a few Traffic Skills 101 classes as well as a few Youth 123 (Bike Rodeos), which are both enjoyable and quite rewarding. However, I’ve discovered that my favorite class to teach is actually a hybrid of the adult Bicycling Skills 123, where we teach adults how to ride.
Learning to ride as an adult is actually more common than you would think. There are plenty of adults who never had an interest or opportunity to learn when they were younger. Fortunately, that didn’t stop them from wanting to learn as adults. Of course, different people pick it up faster than others, which makes instructing as challenging as it is fulfilling. I’m still new to teaching the class, and I’ve discovered that I’m continually learning better ways to teach with each new student.
The end result is always extremely gratifying to me – especially when I see the huge grin on each person’s face as they ride a bike for the first time.
If you are an adult or know one who cannot ride a bike and live in the north Texas area, please reach out to my group to fine out when the next available class will be. We’d be happy to teach you.
When you become a bike rider, you quickly learn the importance of keeping an eye on the weather. You never want to get caught in a Texas thunderstorm. Unlike my days living in the northwest – where the rain is frequent, consistently light and often drizzly – rain is rare in north Texas during the summer. But when it comes, it comes hard – usually with lightning and rolling thunder. It’s very intimidating, when you’re on a bike and typically avoided – especially by me.
I knew that there was a storm rolling through yesterday morning, but as I scanned the online radar and checked the hourly forecast, it looked like I had a small window to run an errand and grab a quick cup of coffee. My prediction was slightly off.
I did manage to get my mail sent off at the post office without a drop of rain, but as I rolled towards my coffee shop, I saw the dark clouds and lightning moving into my area very quickly. I decided to park it at my Starbucks and wait it out. Another interesting thing about Texas thunderstorms is that they usually leave as fast as they come.
With my tall, black coffee and the sound of pounding rain and thunder just outside, I comfortably read through a chapter of my book. Before I was able to get into the next chapter, my wife called and, after reminding me how crazy I was, asked if she needed to come get me. The rain was much lighter at this point, but she warned me that another wave was heading our way.
With a bit of pride and a lot of stubbornness, I declined her offer and told her riding home wouldn’t be a problem. I packed my book back into it’s Ziplock baggy and hit the road. Fortunately, most of the ride back was light and drizzly, just like my days up north. The streets, however, were still flooded from the storm and because I didn’t have fenders, I got soaked.
Aside from that, riding in the rain was actually pretty fun. I’ll still avoid the thunderstorms, though.