Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Was It Worth It?

I recently posted about taking my Bike Friday with me on a business trip. This was the first time in the two years that I've owned that bike that I actually packed it in a suitcase and flew with it. While bringing my bike along provides me the opportunity to ride in places I would not otherwise have the opportunity to ride, it also comes with some degree of sacrifice. I had to take the time to pack and unpack it. I had to hassle with wheeling it around, checking it, waiting at baggage claim to pick it up and loading and unloading it into the rental car. I had to pay baggage fees of $25 each way. Finally, and most significant of all, my flexibility in making alternate travel arrangements (due to flight delays) was severely hampered by the fact that I had to worry about the whereabouts of a bicycle.

All that being said, the burning question is, "were all the sacrifices worth it?".  I wrestled with the answer to that question up until the afternoon of the third day of my trip. I was within the first mile of my first ride.  All debate ceased. All doubt was erased. The answer was absolutely clear - a resounding "YES!".
For two hours, I rode along the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. The skies were clear. The winds were mild. The temperature a comfortable 75 F in the middle of March.

I crossed over the new Highway 90 bridge from Biloxi, MS to Ocean Springs, MS...
The old bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina...
I happened upon a bike route...
It wound along the beach...
In front of quaint beach cottages...
Around inlets lined with shrimp boats...
Through the woods...
Along alligator ponds...
Was it worth it? You bet!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

This Is Ridiculous

I'm about ready to go outside and jump on my bike for my morning commute. Thought I would take a moment and reflect on the conditions for my first ride of the week:

It's 6:15 AM.

It's dark.

Currently it's 37 F and expected to reach a balmy 39 F.

There is a 70% chance of rain and snow.

I think the title of this post says it all.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This Commuting Week in Pics - 3/21 - 3/25/2011

Reassembling my steed...
James River Bridge in the early morning light...
A setting moon...
Flowering trees...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bike on Bike

I know the title sounds a bit kinky, but it's an accurate description of the feat.

Yesterday was the day I was scheduled to pick up my new bike.  As I rode home from work, my excitement built with each pedal stroke.  When I finally got home, I was crestfallen to discover that my wife had taken my truck.  Not to be thwarted from my task of picking up my new bike, I thought up a plan and thought it up quick.
That's right.  If I couldn't pick up my bike with my truck, I was gonna pick it up with my Cargo Bike.  My wife actually got home before I completed the retrofit of the fork mount on the bed of my Cargo Bike, but by that time, I was already committed.

I rode to the bike shop - picked up my new bike - mounted the new bike on my Cargo Bike - rode home.  The plan worked flawlessly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's Missing in This Picture?

Planet Bike, 26" Hardcore Fenders

Tubus, Ergo Front Rack

Tubus, Cargo Rear Rack

Pletscher, Double Leg Kickstand

Suzu, Brass Bell

What's missing in this picture?

That's easy - A Surly, Long Haul Trucker to mount them on.

What a coincidence! It just so happens that I pick one up at Contes, my local bike shop tomorrow.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A New Cargo Bike

I recently added another bike to my harem.  I bought my wife a "Specialized Expedition".
Now, I know what your thinking. Paul you said you added a bike to your Harem. You can't count your wife's bike. True - true - true! Now to the "rest of the story". With my wife being the proud new owner of a new bike, something had to be done with her old bike, which was a very nice, practically brand new, "Cannondale Day Tripper".

We had considered trading her in when we bought my wife's new bike, but at the last second I had a revelation. This bike would make an awesome cargo bike. So I took the Xtracycle off my old Schwinn...
...and put it on the Cannondale.
Isn't she an absolute beauty?   She rides like a dream.  For me, it was love at the first pedal stroke!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mountain Bike Life Lesson

A couple weekends ago I took the mountain bike out for a ride. This was the first time I've ridden her in probably two years.
Considering how much I use to mountain bike, that long a drought is almost unfathomable, if not down right shameful.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. I decided to ride one of my favorite trails from back in the day. It is not a marked trail, nor a legal one, but it is a technically challenging one that is a heck of a lot of fun. I hadn't ridden that trail in at least 10 years. I wasn't sure if it still existed or had been maintained. I rode to where the trail head use to be and found no evidence of it. Not to be that easily thwarted, I rode slowly for a quarter mile beyond, constantly scanning the side of the road. After a bit, my eyes happened upon the tell tale signs of a trail disappearing into the woods. Without a moments hesitation, I took it and soon found myself lost in the pure joy of man + bike + nature.

My riding was not as smooth or as fast as in my heyday of mountain biking. Lacking the confidence of old...

...I stopped and pushed over the first couple log climbs.

...I tapped the brakes a little more than usual.

...I was a little more guarded and timid on the downhills.

But as the trail wound further into the woods, Those skills which had been honed to perfection many years before, began to sharpen once again.

I wasn't a quarter mile into the trail when I was reminded of a key mountain bike principal that can also serve you well in real life. To be a good mountain biker, you can't just focus on the patch of trail directly in front of your wheel. Nor can you let your eyes wander to the sights around you. No, you need to simultaneously and constantly focus on where you are AND where you are going.

Before you make this jump..
...you need to be sure your properly aligned to cross the bridge just beyond when you land.

Before you ride over these logs...
...you need to be sure your pedals are level and your carrying enough speed to get over the top.

Before you go screaming down this hill...
...you need to be prepared, when you get to the bottom, to brake with abandonment for the sharp curve with the tree strategically planted along it's outside.

If you are so short sited as to only focus on the jump, the logs and the downhill, you will quickly find that your moments of euphoria will be short lived and quickly followed by tragedy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Checked Luggage

Over the last few years, I've condensed my packing for airline travel. It doesn't matter if I'm traveling for a single overnighter or an entire week, I get everything I need in a small duffel bag. 
No roller bags, no computer bags, just a small bag I can sling over my shoulder. I don't have to bother with luggage claim because I can carry this little bag on board. I don't worry about whether there will be space in the overhead bins, cause this small bag fits easily under the seat in front of me.

All that being said, today I flew with two bags.
One, my small duffel carrying my clothes, toiletries and electronics.

The other, a Samsonite F'lite 30 carrying...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This Commuting Week in Pics - 3/7 - 3/11/2011

Bike and cannon at sunrise...
The shadow of Spring...
A gray and dreary day over the James River Bridge...
A Distant Sunset...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Abandonment of Winter

As I ride through Huntington Park these days, I observe a recurring theme.

The tennis courts...

The basketball courts...

The ball fields...

In another month, this won't be the case. As the days grow longer and temperatures grow fairer, this park will be bustling with activity. When that time comes, I will relish being a part of the revelry. For now I find quiet contentment in the victim of cold and darkness.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Car Trouble Free

As I walked into work yesterday morning, still cloaked in my riding gear, I noticed one of my associates coming towards me. As he drew to within earshot, I commented that he was heading the wrong way. His response was a curt "I'm having car trouble" as he passed by.

A stranger was walking in besides me and overheard the whole exchange. Not being able to resist the urge to gloat, I turned to him and said, "I never have car trouble!". He didn't have much to say in response, just something along the lines of, "Yea, I can see that", but I looked in his eyes and they were laced with envy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Road Find #4 - A Bungee Cord and Yellow Football

It was double find...
...I left the yellow football in hopes it would be reunited with it's kid.  The bungee cord I claimed as my own.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This Commuting Week in Pics - 2/28 - 3/4/2011

My little bit of cobbles...
The James River Bridge at sunrise...
My Bike Friday and Bud Light are both blue, must be a sign...
Spring is just around the corner...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why I Ride #2 - Solitude

I relate well to what Henry David Thoreau said in his classic "Walden"...
I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.
It's interesting that I can be riding in an urban setting. There are cars everywhere. There is not a vacant lot in the miles of neighborhoods I traverse. Instead, they are packed with houses occupied by people cooking, eating dinner, watching TV, taking showers, getting ready for bed and maybe even doing things that best not be verbalized on a rated "G" blog. Yet, even as I ride in the midst of it all, I still find myself alone. Again to quote Thoreau...
Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows.
Solitude is but a state of mind, a state that cycling enables me to reach quite often.