Archive for the ‘General Cycling’ Category
I was heading home down Arapaho Road in Richardson, when a small group of cyclists caught my eye. This wasn’t the typical lycra clad, roadie group that you see running a training ride through my town. Instead, it was a bunch of regularly dressed, casual cyclists making their way to the DART train station.
Since I was so captivated by this, I had to turn around and meet them. These riders were not associated with any bike club or group. They were just a bunch of friends taking the train into Dallas to be part of tonight’s Critical Mass. They were nice enough to let me shoot a pic of them.
I hope to see more of these folks riding around town.
Based out of ‘The People’s Republic of Portland”, hosts Brock Dittus, Aaron Flores and (yet to be heard by me) Brandon Rhodes “bring you somewhat irreverent conversations about the intricacies of thinking locally with a global perspective, and enjoying the best that life has to offer along the way. This includes day to day life, food, alcohol, bicycles and alternative transportation, arts and culture, communication and the Internet, camping and travel, and many other things!”
Sure, it’s not all about bikes. But to me, it’s a lot about why I ride – simplifying the good life. Talking about arts, culture and alcohol is pretty cool, too.
Of course I’m late to the party. They’ve been producing the show since 2010 and on their 126th episode (as of this post). As with my other ‘bike’ related podcasts, I’ve been playing serious catch-up. I’ve decided to only limit my listening to this year’s episodes – which is enough to get a good sense that I relate to the content, enjoy the hosts and their guests and have become a true fan of the show.
The cycle track over the Jefferson Boulevard bridge is older news to the locals in Dallas, but I wasn’t able to try it out until last weekend. This cycle track is the result of the new city streetcar project which necessitated the, neighboring, Houston Street Viaduct bridge to be closed down. The, once, one-way Jefferson Boulevard bridge was now re-striped to accommodate two-way traffic as well as bike lanes.
Although this is a temporary solution, some hope that it serves as a way to show how this could work well in future planning.
Having it built on the far left lane, I was curious as to how safe it was – especially running cycle traffic right up against fast, oncoming automobile traffic. Even though it is only protected by paint and plastic posts, I felt pretty comfortable – even as cars whizzed by. There were several other cyclist using it as well, who seemed to feel the same way.
The cycle track lane is nice, but it isn’t perfect – especially getting on and off. Because of all the bypassed traffic and special detours, cyclists have to cross a maze of redirects to get you onto the cycle track. Once in downtown Dallas, cyclist are forced onto, and then off of the sidewalk to get back into the traffic lane.
Again, this is just a temporary solution. Once it’s properly designed from end to end, I can see myself and many other cyclists using it to cross the Trinity from Oak Cliff into downtown Dallas.
I realize that for many riders, there are no riding seasons – they just ride all year. I’d like to think that, even though I dial it back during the colder, darker days of winter, I also ride all year as well.
That being said, it feels like it’s been months since I’ve done a proper ride – longer than the trips to my local Starbucks. I think this will change once I get back to bike commuting. I’m just hoping that, since things have changed at the office, I’ll still be afforded the opportunities to do it more this season.
I am keeping busy with biking. Just last week, I went with some other north Texas advocates to Austin to lobby for Texas cyclists. You can read about it in my recap, here.
I’m back from the Cyclists in Suits event that was hosted by BikeTexas in Austin. It was an exhausting day that involved getting up by 3:00 am to catch a 5:00 am bus. After a 3+ hour trip from Dallas to Austin, we spent the day lobbying for cyclist to our state officials, only to repeat the same trip back that evening. It was a great learning experience and I got to meet some great people, which made it all worth while.
The weekly show covers a wide range of bike topics, from advocacy, news and events to sports and fitness. Hosts, Diane Lees and Greg Priddy, do a great job keeping those topics relevant and captivating as they bring on many interesting guests and share some really good discussions.
They’ve just released their 134th show, so I haven’t been able to review them all. Even though I’ve only listened to the latest ones made for 2013, and I’ve already been exposed to some cool, new (to me) bike stuff.
Sure, because they cover such a wide range of subjects, you run the risk of coming across a show that is less entertaining than others. Since I’m not into sports cycling, I personally found the sports and fitness topics a bit unexciting – but, I can see how others would find them engaging. The great thing about a podcast, is that you can be selective with what you listen to and fast forward through the rest.
Overall, the podcast is a nice way to geek-out about bikes, even while you’re commuting by car.
My only question is, why haven’t I heard of this show before? According to their Facebook page, they have over 1,100 fans – but only one of them is a mutual ‘Friend’. Perhaps I can change that. I’m hoping that if you haven’t already heard about the show, you’ll go check them out:
Here are a couple of alternate titles that I had for this posts:
- Not All Cycling Is Created Equal
– The Worst Two Miles Of My Life
– I’m Weak And Old
This post is to pay due respect to my fellow ‘sports’ riders – especially mountain bikers.
I had mentioned that my buddy, Jason, just recently got back into cycling. He wasn’t sure of what type of cycling he wanted to get into (mountain, road, suburban assault, etc.), so he bought a Trek Dual Sport. Since the weather has been getting nicer and daylight savings time is keeping the sun up a little longer, he hatch a plan to take the bikes out, after work, to the trails at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. He wanted to try some dirt riding to see if mountain biking was for him.
If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I don’t ride off-road – for sport or recreation.
I used to, back when I was younger and more flexible. So, call it missing my old days of trail riding, blind ignorance or just plain stupidity, I agreed to join him. I mean, how bad could it be? I used to dominate North Shore and L.B. Houston back in the day. During the summer, I’d commute to work – 14 miles (each direction) in 100+ degree weather. Really, how bad could 2.32 miles of dirt track be?
It killed me.
Since it was only 2 miles away, we rode to the nature preserve from our office. When we got on the trail, it all came rushing back to me – the joy of being with nature, the thrill of run and the adrenaline rush from tossing my bike over rocks and roots as we tooled around some tight single track. Admittedly, I was both glad I was there and upset that had waited so long since my last off-road ride – 18 years ago.
Unfortunately, that thrill didn’t last very long and I was getting tired fast. I think my energy level hit the wall when my body, literally, hit the ground. I was stupid. I tried to make up some lost time by taking a downhill with a little speed. Heading into the sun wasn’t helping my visibility, especially when I came across a jogger coming from the other direction. I tried to apply a proper ‘quick stop’ but my body was too weak to shift it back (uphill) fast enough. I was also quickly reminded that braking on dirt is a whole lot different than braking on the road – so I ended up digging my front wheel a little into the ground.
Fortunately, I landed properly and didn’t hit the jogger. Jason thought my actions were instinctive, but I think it was just dumb luck.
I got back on my bike, but pretty much limped the rest of the way back – not because of the fall, but rather from pure fatigue. I was wheezing and gasping for air as the crank on my single speed was nearly impossible to turn. My legs and core were toast. All I kept thinking was, I hope nature doesn’t mind if I toss my cookies all over it. Jason said he was hurting too, but being ten years younger and in much better shape, I think he was just being polite to the old guy.
Mountain bike riding is MUCH harder than I remember. Hats off to those who do it regularly.
This is the part where I roll out my excuses:
- I’m out of shape:
Seriously, the only riding that I’ve been doing these past few winter months is the short, 5-mile round trip to my local Starbucks on the weekends.
- I’ve lost my experience level:
I haven’t been off-road for over 18 years, so my mind and body had a much harder time processing the ride. My actions and reflexes were way off.
- I had never been on this trail:
Part of the reason for my quick fatigue was not managing my energy well. Being the first time on this trail, I wasn’t conserving my strength for when I really needed it. Unexpected climbs took me by surprise and I didn’t have the proper momentum to attack them.
- I was on the wrong bike:
My Redline Monocog is a single speed that was designed for mountain biking – and the closest thing I had to an off-road bike. Unfortunately, I converted it to a street-ready, suburban assault bike, with higher gearing and slick tires. For street speed, I raised the gear ratio from the original 1.6 (32-tooth chainring, 20-tooth cog) to a 2.4 (36-tooth chainring, 15-tooth cog) – making it a less friendly trail bike. On a 29er, that took my gear inches from 46 to about 70, making my climbs extra hard. Also, my street-sticky Serfas Drifters didn’t grip the loose dirt trail like my old knobbies.
Reality set in.
For a while on the trail, I started thinking that I needed to add a mountain bike back onto my bike wish list. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I’m no longer cut out for mountain biking – and I accept that.
Even in January, our coldest month, I try to get out for the occasional spin. Admittedly, my motivation is down. The cold air is thick and hard to breathe. The wind cuts right trough to my bones. Winter is pain.
I’m not riding as far, or as long, but enjoy being out on my bike on the quiet streets. My local Starbucks (just a few miles away) and a tall cup of hot, black coffee are always a welcome reward for braving the cold.
Bring back the heat, Texas.
Here are some random classic Schwinns:
2012 was a great year for bicycling in my life. Here’s a recap of the things I was lucky enough to do:
- I shared a few rides with my son.
- I witnessed the opening AND closing of the Dallas Bicycle Cafe.
- Suburban Assault got mentioned in a local magazine.
- I got to help out with the Ciclovia de Dallas.
- I got to take Traffic Skills 101.
- I got to take the Cycling Savvy DFW class.
- I helped my local bike group set up my city’s first bike to work day, energizer station.
- I participated in my 3rd Wild Ride.
- I doubled last year’s bike commuting goal.
- I read a few good bike books: here, here and here.
- I saw a few good bike movies: here and here.
- I participated in a bike fair.
- I became an League Cycling Instructor.
- I became a BikeDFW board member.
- My local bike group hosted some fun bike rides.
- I’m witnessing my local bike community grow.
I hope to have as much fun in 2013. Enjoy the ride!