Friday, November 19, 2010

Some Unsolicited Advice

One evening this week, as I slowly rode home through the dark streets, I passed a lady who was in the process of getting in her SUV. She saw me coming and waited until I went by before opening the door. I nudged to my left to give her a little more room. As I passed she kindly encouraged me to "be careful out there", I mumbled in return "I will". The last thing I heard her say before I disappeared in the envelop of darkness was, "there are crazy drivers out there!"

I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by her admonitions. I've been commuting regularly back and forth to work for more than 20 years. She wasn't telling me something that I didn't already know, not only as an intellectual fact, but from first hand experience. What surprised me was that she made such an effort to share unsolicited advice to a stranger in the dark. It was a testament as to her character and provided an encouraging reminder that while "there are crazy drivers out there", there's also some friendly, courteous ones that care about their fellow man, whether they be on 4 wheels or 2.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Taking Advantage of Time

As I was riding to work yesterday, I glanced at my watch and realized I was a bit ahead of schedule. Passing through Huntington Park, I decided to take advantage of this schedule surplus and pulled over and stopped at a deck that was overlooking the beach. The beach was obviously vacant this time of year and day, so I had it all to myself.

I flicked the kickstand down, dug out my Apple Itouch, opened the Kindle app and read a book. My only company was a mother cat and her kittens, the view of the river and my imagination. The only thing that could have made this any better would have been a hot cup of coffee. I see a thermos in my commuting future.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mechanical Difficulty

On a recent morning commute, as I neared the end, I went over a speed bump and my panniers came off the rack and dangled precariously off my bike. I stopped to survey the problem and ascertain the cause. I won't bore you with those details or the ingenuity I employed to get me back underway. That's not the point of this post.

I really wanted to point out two interesting observations associated with this unplanned event.

The first thing that dawned on me was that this is the first mechanical malfunction that I've had this year. Think of it, I've ridden back and forth to work hundreds of times this year, through all manner of conditions and I haven't had a single mechanical failure. I've not had to stop my bike to fix a single thing. That is a testament to good quality gear and if I the importance and routine maintenance.

The second observation that I made was the simple fact that several folks stopped and offered me assistance. People I knew, people who see me riding this route every day. That realization brings a level of comfort. None of us should consider that we are an island unto ourselves. We are surrounded by family, friends and associates that are there, even in the rarest of circumstances, when we could use a helping hand.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bike Racks in Norfolk

I live and ride in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Hampton Roads' commitment to bicycle infrastructure is next to non-existent. Imagine how encouraged I was when I came across this article in the Virginian Pilot about a move afoot in Norfolk to add some bike racks in the downtown area. These artful twists are part of a larger initiative by city planners aimed at "encouraging bike riding as a transportation choice."

It's a small step I know. It's in a city in Hampton Road's that I don't even live in. Non-the-less, it is a step in the right direction.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Farewell Ye Staple of Summer

This weekend we turn the clocks back. Of course, for a bike commuter, this signals an increased reliance on lights and more riding in the quiet, secluded envelop of darkness.

In many ways I look forward to this phase of the commuting year. Many save one. For this changing of the time forces me to bid farewell, for a season, to a staple of my commuting rituals and that which is one of the most appealing.
After a long hard day in the office, I look forward to this all important ritual. Taking a little detour on my ride home. Riding to a nearby park. Settling down on a secluded picnic table. Enjoying a cold beer. It is at moments like this, with iPod Touch in hand, that the beginnings of many a blog posts are born. In fact, it's where this one saw the light of day.

With the changing of the time, it will be dark when I pass this spot over the next 4 or 5 months.

It's sad! I know!! Take heart my dear readers - Spring is but a Winter away.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cades Cove by Bike

On vacation recently, I had the opportunity to ride the 11 mile loop around Cades Cove. If you ever find yourself in this area of Tennessee and your considering visiting this park, trust me - riding a bicycle is the ONLY WAY TO GO!!
That is unless you enjoy cruising along at 3 mph - on a one lane road - stuck in a mile long convoy of cars that comes to stop every time one of the passengers spots a "blankety-blank" deer or turkey.On a bike, you can cruise along at your own speed, which is far quicker than the cars, and when the traffic grinds to a halt, you simply pull to the side and go around. On a bike, you can spend less time frustratingly staring at the bumper of the car in front of you and more time focusing on the beauty that surrounds you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bike Sign

On a ride recently, I happened upon the most unusual and entertaining bike sign that I've ever seen.
Ignoring the warning - I continued down the road - on my bike.

At the bottom of the "treacherous hill", I concluded that either I am an exceptionally skilled and gifted bike handler or that sign was intended for the non-cyclist.