Monday, January 31, 2011

If Only Cars Were Fixies...

We took our Mitsubishi Montero into Cascade Truck and Auto to have a rock removed from between our brake pads. Our mechanic, Mitch, said he would love to remove a rock from between our brake pads, except we didn't have any brake pads. "That's too bad," I thought. If cars were fixies, we wouldn't have to worry about the brakes going out. Of course, if cars were fixies, we WOULD have to worry about our tires going out.
video
This is Tom-foolery. Do not try this at home.

The weekend was long and short all at the same time. I had an article that I had to have into Central Oregon Magazine by today, so I spent the weekend getting it all wrapped up. The above video is of my wife and I heading to Backporch Coffee for a writing/knitting session (I was writing, Kalea was knitting). It was a nice day for a bike ride. My wife thought the camera man was taking too many risks. The camera man could not be reached for comment. Ironically, my wife was riding her bike using only one hand to steer only two days later, when she met face to face with a bush. The bush disrespectfully threw her on the asphalt. The other ironic part is that we were headed to buy her new jeans and she just happened to rip a hole in the knee of the ones that she was wearing during the fall. Fortunately she made it out with only a scraped knee and bruised shin. We decided to not get jeans and just stay home and sit in the sun. It was another nice day.  
My weekend inspiration was meeting a Redmond High teacher named Mark. He and his wife live in Bend and Mark commutes the 20+ miles to work by bicycle everyday. Even in the winter. My three miles cannot compare. I'll just have to take the long way to work, now.
This is my Cannondale Capo. Today was not a nice day. 

I have plans to find some more inspirational commuters bring you, the people, some interviews with them. Any ideas? Anyone you know that fits the bill for a fixie riding or bicycle commuting inspiration? Email me with your thoughts.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dura-Ace Day Dreams and Indian-Dudes On Bikes

Todays post is sponsored in part by Lone Pine Coffee Roasters. Well... I paid for my coffee, but Ryan was really nice and I like their coffee a lot. Check out their link for more details. Work was incredibly slow today, so I spent a good part of my day learning about new cycling and camping equipment for 2011. I ran across this gem early this morning and have been thinking about it ever since:
Shimano Dura-Ace Track Gruppo 
Only about $1,000 worth.

Now I imagine that most people would look at this picture and yawn. At the least most people would have no clue what they are looking at. That's ok. Spending lots of money on these metal thingies is certainly unnecessary, but every fixie/track bike connoisseur would agree that this picture is sexy and desirable. That's why I was thinking about it all day. It's fast and it's shiny. 

A friend just got back from three or four months in India. Lots of people ride bikes in India.  There are lots of people in India. Lots of them ride bikes.

I can guarantee that the bike in this image did not cost anywhere near as much as the Dura-Ace Track group does. And this guy probably has gears! Anyway, I digress. The point that I'm trying to make is the folks in India are worried about eating and drinking clean water when I am day-dreaming about trinkets to make my bike faster, lighter and prettier. The money that I spend on those bike components could feed Indian-Dudes family for a year (just for perspective). So is it wrong for me to be interested in making unnecessary upgrades to my bike? 

I think that people think that riding my bike to work is a very unselfish, good for the planet, good for my health thing to do. Maybe that is partially true. The thing is, I know my heart well enough to know that the reason I ride my bike is not for the planet, it is not to help anyone, it's because I like riding my bike. I like the feeling that I get in my legs and the sense of pride that I exaggerated in a previous post. Riding my bike is selfish. Some would certainly argue this and maybe some have unselfish motives. Maybe someday I will be there. It's just like spending money to "pimp-my-ride," only instead of lift-kits, sub-woofers and custom exhaust, I'm dreaming of carbon fiber and polished steel. A tuned bike may cost less than a tuned automobile, but the motive is the same. 

There is no answer to the questioning tone of this post, nor does there need to be. We live a world apart from our Indian brothers and sisters. Most westerners don't envy them and they probably don't envy us. Sometimes I just wonder, what is the point of spending so much money on something that means so little?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Skid Marks, Bunny Hops, Track Stands and Espresso

This post will be brief. Riding my fixie makes me feel like a child. Feeling like a child makes me feel near to God. "Fixed" refers to the drive-train of the bicycle (the front gears, the chain and the rear gears, in short). The drive-train of a fixed-gear bike is stripped down to one gear in the front and one in the back. What separates a fixed gear bike from a single speed is that a fixie does not have a free-wheel or hub that allows you to coast. This means that the drive-train is always engaged and the pedaler never stops pedaling  unless the bike is stopped (with some exceptions that I will mention shortly). Having this direct-drive gives a rider the unique ability to pedal the fixie backwards, a skill that once was reserved for freaks and circus clowns.  

The exception to the always pedaling rule is that if you slightly lean forward and stop pedaling with a little speed, you can skid to a stop (or at least to slow down). This distinctly reminds me of riding my bike as a kid and seeing how far I can skid. On fixed gear bikes, similar competitions are now acceptable for adults. So, on the way to the grocery store I impressed my wife with my frequent, unnecessary skids. The other thing that I like to impress her with are my speed bump bunny hops. Bunny hops are hard, but they are even harder when you are always pedaling. Kalea is always impressed. The last skill that is essential for every fixie rider/hipster want-to-be ("wannabe" for short) is the track stand. A track stand is where you come to a stop light and stop without putting your feet on the ground (or any other part of your body for that matter...). This is incredibly impressive to the bystanders. It  is then incredibly funny to them when your feet don't un-clip from their pedal-traps and you fall down. This is part of what makes fixie riding akin to child-likeness. Skidding , jumping, standing and falling down, all make a person feel very young. Oh...and so does espresso from Backporch Coffee Roasters. It's only a dollar if you ride your bike. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CSA Day

                                      My Agricultural Connections CSA share.

Tuesdays are one of my favorite cycling days. I get to ride my Raleigh Sojourn and pull our Burley Honey Bee bike trailer. This is fun for a number of reasons. One of them is that I think that some people freak out because they think that I'm pulling my kid around in the thing down the middle of 3rd St. in heavy traffic. I seem to get a lot more room from cars when I have a trailer in tow (mostly the case). Another bonus is that I get to pick up our groceries from Mother's Juice Bar on Galveston. "I didn't know Mother's sold groceries," you may think. They don't, but Agricultural Connections, a community supported agriculture program (CSA) hosts their pick-up spot there. Our CSA pulls fresh, organic produce from within 100 miles of Central Oregon. (Click on the link above to see their website and learn more about their mission. And yes, that was a shameless plug, which I'm not being compensated for. I just believe in the vision.)

Pulling a trailer behind a bike is certainly entertaining and rewarding for the above reasons, but it is one of my favorite cycling days not because of produce or entertaining reactions from motorists, but because I am forced to slow down, take a different route and enjoy the scenery. Today I rode down the river trail, under the Colorado Street Bridge (I'll post a picture of this section of path...it's scary when pulling a bike trailer, to say the least), through a couple of parks, west on Cumberland and down 13th to Mother's. The cool wind refreshed me and the pace was perfect for having a look around--something I rarely do on my normal commutes. These days remind me that I need to slow down and enjoy life. That's why I ride bikes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bicycle Rights

There is a new show on IFC called Portlandia. It is about how the dream of the 90's is alive and well in Portland, OR. I like it because, some character stereotypes in the show are true about me. Maybe not totally, but I can certainly relate to clips like this:



Today on my way to work I was distressed because the light in the turn lane would not turn green. Apparently my Capo and I don't do much for triggering the signal. There was no traffic, so I just turned despite the red light. There were some cars nearby that I was sure could see me, so I sprinted towards work like I owned the road, fully aware that they were in awe of my speed and sheer awesomeness for riding my bike at 6:30 am.  It only took me 13 minutes to get to work. That's how awesome I am.

On the way home I came upon the Reed Market roundabout (If there is any traffic control device that motorists are most confused about when it comes to cyclists, it is the roundabout). I entered the roundabout safely enough, but a quarter of the way around, a man with a mustache in a Toyota pulled into the roundabout right next to me as if there were two lanes, mine the inside his the outside. I looked at him and he at me, both obviously confused at the others actions (or maybe he was confused about the neon yellow cycling jacket I was wearing). The situation turned out fine. He only traveled 25 feet, or so, next to me and then exited the roundabout. The whole time, I was thinking in my head: "Bicycle rights, bicycle rights! It's my lane, you have to give me 10 feet!!!" I exited the round about thinking about how right I was and how wrong mustache man had been. I ride bikes and I'm awesome.

The rest of the ride home was relatively uneventful... There was the Hispanic woman who tried to run me over by turning left into me as I was going straight through the intersection at Brosterhous and 3rd, but other than that it was just another safe commute where I proved to other people how awesome I am for riding my bike.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Ride Bikes

I thought I'd grow out of that. Riding bikes that is. I started riding bikes when I was young. I think the training wheels came off at four or five. I can remember my dad holding on to me that first time without training wheels and then he wasn't and I was, for a brief and glorious moment, riding on two wheels. Then I got to the hill in our driveway and I had to put my feet down and stop.

Soon after, I was seeing how fast I could bomb the hill on our dirt road. One day the speed was too much for me to control and I went down, filling my knees and elbows with oily rocks (my dad would pour used motor-oil down the road to keep the dust down). My mom fixed me right up, though, and after a couple days of recovery, I was back to riding bikes.

As a teenager, riding bikes meant jumping and dirt-roads. Once I even went on The North Umpqua Trail with my dad. That was my first single-track experience ever. I remember I lost my balance and fell down a steep bank toward the river. My bike and I were saved by an exposed, Ent-like tree-root.
I had so much fun that, when I was 18, I sold my truck for a mountain bike--a Specialized Rockhopper FSR. That bike is currently hanging in my garage. Eight years later, it's still my only mountain bike.

It wasn't until I lived in Spokane that the revelation struck me to ride bikes as a means to transportation in place of my Chevy. I put slick tires on my Rockhopper, had the guys at REI replace my cables and housing and I was riding bikes in traffic. The story of my obsession really begins here.

The day I put slicks on my Specialized is the day I began wanting more bikes. I was having fun riding around town on my mountain bike, but I knew I could go faster. I was going to get a geared commuter bike like the Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra. After shopping around and trying out several bikes I decided that I wanted to trim down to the bare essentials: Frame, fork, wheels, bars, crankset, one handbrake and one gear. Instead of the Bad Boy, I bought the Capo in black. Made in the USA. Simple. Sophisticated. My first bike with skinny tires and drop bars. This bike demanded that I ride it everyday. And the best part about it--it's fixed (not in the reproductive sense). From that day forward I had to have my Daily Fix.

The Daily Fix is a blog about riding bikes everyday. Though, I now own a Raleigh Sojourn tourer that I often ride to work, it is still my fixie that I ride when I want to go fast and it is my fixie that made me realize that I don't actually want to grow out of riding bikes.