Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's truly amazing how a week can fly by so quickly!

The weather has been fantastic. Last weekend and early into this week brought us above freezing temperatures. Sure, it was a sloppy mess at times, but now that the temps have dropped a bit, the roads are clear.

I made an unexpected connection with a neighbor through Minneapolis Bike Love. (Sounds strange, I know.) I read a post on the discussion group from someone in my suburb looking for route advice for a recreational ride. Along with my offer for potential route directions, I offered to meet sometime for a recreational ride.

Turns out, the person "anonymously" asking questions is my next door neighbor. Funny string of comments here: One thing leads to the next and he brings his bike over for a quick repair and a couple of beers. I give the bike a once over, make some adjustments, and added some lube. (Working on a geared bike that has been ridden during the winter reminds me of just how much I have no desire for dealing with shifting and drive train issues.)

For me, his story is exactly the kind of inspirational series of events that gives me hope for the "average bicycle commuter." I hope he doesn't mind me telling a bit about it. He starts exercising more, gets a job closer to home, decides to begin commuting to work in October, gets a bike, and is now continuing to commute through the winter. Wow!

I usually think of bicycle commuters as people who begin as cyclists who try riding a bike to work because they are already somehow interested in riding a bike. I find the idea that someone would just pick up a bike and begin commuting during what one might argue are the worst months of the year is amazing.

We went for a recreational ride early on last Saturday morning, managing to cover about 25 miles. I got a message from him later and it sounded like he was impressed with his own accomplishments. He should be...

Have managed to continue to ride all week this week too. Pushing the pace quite a bit since it's been warmer and it just feels so much better to ride. Sure the ol' Nokians are buzzing, continue to ride like crap, and really don't feel necessary at all. Oh well, I'm going to do my best to wear them down riding.

Met another guy on the road, ran into him twice this week while riding to work. His name is Carl (suppose it could be Karl) and works at North Memorial Hospital. Good to see someone else out at 6:30 in the morning.

Today I cheated and snoozed, but other than this morning, I have been getting right out of bed, first buzz. It helps to get out the door on time!

I've also had a streak of bad luck. My new headlight is generator powered, but has a capacitor in it that allows a standlight (much dimmer) to stay on for several minutes once stopped. Well, the standlight stopped working for some reason. New light is on the way... the old one will go back. Picked up a flat tire in North Minneapolis on Monday morning. Fortunately it was not too cold, still changing a flat (rear no-less) in the cold sucks.

I have to give quick credit to Lake for customer service. The stitching on my boots came out on both heals. My wonderful wife Anika was kind enough to run them up to George's Shoes to be repaired. Got them back a couple of days later to the meager tune of $10 and change. Called Lake and I already received the reimbursement check!

Been thinking a lot about how to keep a journal of rides, so until I do, here goes so I don't lose track:

1/2 - Commute, Quickbeam, 30 miles
1/3 - Commute, Quickbeam, 30 miles
1/4 - Commute, Quickbeam, 30 miles
1/5 - Recreational, Quickbeam, 25
1/7 - Commute, Quickbeam, 30 miles
1/8 - Commute, Quickbeam, 30 miles
(Sense a pattern here?)
1/9 - Commute, Quickbeam, 30 miles
1/10 - Commute, Quickbeam, 30 miles

MTD - 235 miles
YTD - Same

* All mileages are estimates since I despise bicycle computers. I seldom take EXACTLY the same route. With the warmer weather, I have been wandering residential streets more. Continuing to go out of my way to take the Campus way home. It's longer, but significantly less traffic. Soon, I will have to put a computer on so that I can be a little more serious with my "training" for TransIowa.


Pete said...

If you're really interested, I can email you the spreadsheet I use to track my mileage. It's simple, but effective. Let me know. frosti (at) gmail (dot) com

-d said...

computer good.
Aweseom about your neighbor. Just awesome.

rigtenzin said...

The steets are very nice to ride again, as far as ice goes. Today, I chose a bike that does not have studs. It was fun to ride a different bike.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog recently. It's good stuff!

I had to post after reading your reaction to how your neighbor got into commuting. My experience is similar. I got it into my head last summer to get a bike. I hadn't been on one in nearly 30 years. I don't recall bicycling being a big deal for me as a kid, either. I mean, I rode when it was too far to walk - that's about it. After spending 90 bucks on an old Raleigh last summer, I was pretty-well hooked, despite the fact that a 2 or 3-mile ride nearly made me collapse with exhaustion.

Within 6 weeks or so, I was commuting 2 or 3 days a week from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis. I've been doing it all winter, although I skip it when the temperature gets to or below zero degrees.

Anyway, your neighbor's way to cycling makes sense to me, although I can see how it seems ... an unconventional route.

Reflector Collector said...

Anonymous, thanks for the note.

I think the greatest part about my neighbor (and now your story too) commuting is just how sort of "unremarkable" the whole thing is. That may not sound like it makes much sense. I admire the spirit and willingness to just go and do it. For some reason, it gives me a bit of hope when an "average" person makes the decision to pick up a bike and use it for something more than "recreation."

I think it’s great when average people get out. I am looking forward to what I anticipate being a very busy “regular” season filled with people taking to the streets on bikes. I am going to do everything I can to encourage everyone I know to get out and try it.

Moral to the story: Ride yer bike, give it a try, give it a chance, settle in, don’t give up… You just might learn to like it.

Paul said...

Yeah, Ken, you REALLY need to get training. Come on, quit being so lazy.


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