Monday, March 31, 2008

Saturday Ride Report

The weather was nice and sunny. I think the temps were topping a whopping 60 degrees. However, there was one thing that made the ride not quite as enjoyable as it could have been. A 40 mph wind blowing directly into my face. It was still worth the ride. I left my house, rode up Floorman, along Skyline drive like I ride to work and then down Hwy 16 to Reptile Gardens. Then I turned and cruised up Neck Yoke until I got to Old Rockerville road. I then turned around and came back to town. 30 miles of fun. It was my longest ride of the year so it feels really good to have that behind me. I think I'm going to shoot for 40 this Saturday. One thing I really wasn't prepared for was the 3,000+ total feet of climbing. On Neck Yoke, there is a steep section that is about 1.5 miles long and about an average of 9 or 10% grade. Yeah, it's steep.

I stopped to snap a picture and this guy came up behind me. He asked where I was going and wondered if I wanted to ride along with him. He was going about twice as far as I was so I said no... I have to get back. When in actuality, I couldn't have made 60 miles. I didn't have the fuel or the legs to complete that task. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


It's snowing outside. I am so sick of snow, and it hasn't even been that bad this winter. Seriously though. Why won't spring show up and it just be nice outside.

Here are some pictures of the bike I got for nothing.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cost of Fuel

Happy Monday. It is currently 66 degrees outside and I am sitting inside at my desk. I did get a ride in this morning that consisted of my bike, rollers, a sleeping boy and No Country for Old Men. Then when my wife got home from work for lunch, she asked if I would be riding my bike to work. I told her no because I didn't have enough time. Then i looked at the clock and realized it only takes me 20 minutes to get to work. It was 12:30. I did have time! So I got my bike and headed off to work. It was great! I got just over 15 miles for the day.

On another note. A friend of mine gave me his old bike. It is an '80s model Novara of some sort. Complete with racks and everything. I rode it home on Thursday and washed it all off. I'm excited to take it apart and clean everything and use it as a grocery getter or commuter. It needs a little work though. I wouldn't want to put any long trips into it.

Then, last week sometime I read this blog from a girl in Alaska. (You should keep up with this blog if you don't already. It is one of the most well written blogs I read. She is big into the snow biking thing and just recently did the Iditarod trail on her bike.) Anyway, on to my story. She started talking about the cost of fuel and then the cost of fueling herself for biking. It actually turned out that driving would be cheaper if it was just the gas. Well read it, I got a kick out of it. I'll still take my bike.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Commuting 101

As told here

There is a lot of debate as to where a bicycle commuter should position themselves in relation to the road. New bike commuters, especially, are often intimidated by riding in the road and often choose something that isn’t necessarily the safest place. Here are the top two:

Sidewalk - While the odds of you getting hit from behind diminish greatly, there are other dangers that come into play.
Drivers are not looking for fast moving objects on the sidewalks so when you come to a cross street there is a good chance you’ll get hit by a turning car.

Sidewalks are available for pedestrians and, in many states, it’s illegal for bicycles to ride on them.

You are forced to (and should) go extremely slow. Besides dealing with turning cars and pedestrians, you are riding are surfaces that are not maintained for traffic and often have other obstacles to deal with.

The extreme right side of the road - In my opinion this is the most dangerous place you can ride. You are risking two dangers:

Cars will repeatedly try to squeeze by you in the same lane and will almost always come very close to you which, obviously, increases your chance of getting hit.

The Peek-a-boo bike. Picture two cars approaching. The second car is following closely to the first. As the first car moves to miss you, it is seen by the second car as merely drifting in the lane since the car isn’t moving that much out of the way. The second car doesn’t realize you are in the road until it is to late.

Because of the above dangers and contrary to many people’s “common sense”, the best thing for a bike commuter to do is claim the lane. I ride at least a third of the way into the lane and, around curves, I roll right down the middle.

Here’s the top five reasons why I started claiming the lane (and why you should to):

Drivers give you more room - The day I started claiming the lane is the day I stopped getting regularly buzzed to close by cars. As mentioned above, when you are all the way to the right then cars will almost always try to squeeze by. When you claim the lane, they are forced to slow down and wait for an opportunity to pass you which means they take plenty of room to do it.
You are more visible - Drivers are used to looking for other large, metal boxes. And they’re used to looking in the middle of the lane ahead of them. When you hug the side of the road you are often outside their field of vision. By claiming the lane you are much more likely to be seen by oncoming traffic.

You avoid dangerous debris and obstacles - the sides of roads are usually covered in debris. Stuff that can slash your tires and/or fly up and hurt you. There are also things like sewer grates and uneven shoulders to worry about. By claiming the lane you avoid all of this.

It’s an easier, more enjoyable ride - When stuck squeezing the side of the road or riding on the sidewalk, feelings of stress abound. Constantly watching the terrain ahead of you, swerving out of the way of obstacles, slowing down for pedestrians and many other things that you are forced to pay attention to are reduced when you claim the lane.

You are making a statement - While not as important as the previous safety related reasons, this has long term effect. On many roads bicycles are seen as an annoyance that shouldn’t be allowed in the road with other “real” vehicles. By claiming the lane you are making a statement that we belong on the road and have all the same rights as cars.

I came to these views after a lot of time spent bike commuting in my city of Lynchburg, VA. We don’t have bike lanes and I’ve come to believe that the people that built our roads had never heard of the bicycle. Not to mention most drivers are oblivious to the “share the road” mentality (and laws).

I firmly believe my place on a bike is in the road and claiming the lane and, in a large portion of our country, that is where you belong to. It’s safer and more convenient.

What do you think?

Monday, March 17, 2008

2 Things

I've been toying with the idea of creating a single speed bike out of my old 1997 Schwinn Moab mountain bike. I know I am going to do this and it is taking me a lot longer than I originally anticipated. I really really want to do this. I want to see what the fuss of single speeds is all about. I want to know why every person who rides the Dakota 5-0 beats me on their single speed. I want to be one of those people who mash up hills and cruise down them with one gear. It's not that I want to fit into the fad of single speeding, I really want to know what it's about.

So, here is my commitment. I will finish my single speed bike by July. That will give me 2 months to ride it before the 5-0, not saying that I will ride it in the 5-0 but I want to have at least ridden it on trails to feel the grace of having 1 gear.

On another note, my friend who is giving me their old Novara said I can pick it up any time. It is in perfect running condition, but with a few minor things that will need to be fixed. I am debating on if I want to make this a single speed commuter or geared. It currently has front and rear racks. The main problem with it is some of the gearing was messed up. I will probably need to buy a new crank set and probably new chain rings for the rear. Probably I should just get all the parts new, hubs, freewheel, crank set, derailieur and chain. I'll see. It all depends on what sort of funds for my project.

If you would like to donate to this project, please feel free to email me or post a comment here on your contact information. I can then let you know where you mail me a check. I can also set up a direct deposit or any other way you would like to give me money. I also accept cash.

Friday, March 14, 2008

First Ride

Well, I dusted off the ole rollers for the first time in about two weeks. The boy was sleeping and I moved my bike and the rollers upstairs. He let me ride for about 40 minutes. It felt great. I really can't wait to get back out on the road or trails.

That's about it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Do I have OCD if I tend to buff and polish my bicycle. Even the wheels. I do this quite often and I tend to do it in the house. The wife tends to be not super happy about this as I tend to get those greasy chain ring marks on almost everything. I figure that it is a way where guests don't think we are dirty, but are obsessed with bicycles. Well, me anyway. I bring this up because I just finished polishing my black wheels on my mtb. Crazy... I don't think so.

No Rides

It is now my second week at home with the boy. No time for rides. I did manage to get a short mt bike ride in with my dog on Sunday which was cut short due to a flat tire. Nothing serious but cut my ride short anyway. The boy is growing quickly and is now smiling and being happy most of the time. Unless, of course, he is tired or hungry. I return to work on Monday. I am sad to be going back to work, but then I will be happy that I will have a bit of structure back in my life.

I probably won't be able to ride my bike to work much after that. My wife and I both work at the same place and we will have to take the boy to daycare everyday. It is a 20 minute drive across town into the valley. I've thought about taking him by bike when he is older, but I would have to ride on some of the most unfriendly bike roads in Rapid. So, that is probably not going to happen. Plus, it's about a 10 mile bike ride there, then another 10+ miles to work after that on unsafe roads. It's not going to happen. I guess now that the time has changed, there are more daylight hours after work so I might be able to squeeze in a ride after that.

On another note, I haven't ridden my rollers in a while either. I keep looking at my sad bike in the basement sitting next to the rollers. It almost frowns at me each time I walk by.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Days Off

It is my second day as a part time stay at home dad. Well, for two weeks anyway. I have not had the chance to ride my bike at all. Oh well, spending time with the boy is great and I don't think I would trade that for a bike ride.

Although, Saturday I did manage to get a mt bike ride in. Me and my brother-in-law made a trek up M-Hill here in Rapid. It wasn't muddy and went very well. I thank the rollers for that. I felt really stable on the trail and I cleared many sections that I previously haven't been able to. My downhill skills have improved and my sense of balance seems to be improving. My fitness level seems to be a little on the short side, but I suppose when you are climbing a 39 pound bike up a 30% grade, it takes quite a level of fitness. I did it last year and I know I can do it again.

This is the year of the bike. With the South Dakota Bicycle Coalition in full swing and the BHMBA doing great things in the Black Hills, this will most undoubtedly be "the year of the bike" for me. What is it for you???

The weather is supposed to be crappy today. They are expecting 2-6 inches of snow. Not that it is alot, it's still snow and it puts off riding those trails. The weekend is supposed to be back up in the 50s so that is promising.

I suppose that is my update. The boy has been sleeping for almost 2 hours and I decided that it should be designated as blogging time.