Archive for the 'Bike Commuting' Category

Biking in the dark

Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting, Projects.
Monday, November 5th, 2007 at 4:57 pm

So we’re finally done with that daylight saving nonsense, meaning we get more light in the morning but less in the evening – "less in the evening" of course meaning "dark when I leave work".  I rode home last week once at about 9 (would be 8 this week) and had pretty good visibility with my handlebar-mounted CatEye light, plus a flashing red light on my back.  Yesterday we stopped at REI and I picked up two new flashers with the intention of attaching them to my helmet – the highest point of visibility on me.  Plus, with a head-mounted front light I can look at something I want to see and get it lit, the bike light only goes straight forward.  Also I can look right at cars and be (more) sure they can see me, since I’ll be shining it right into their heated killing machine.

1875915256_bfb0e79332_o.jpgMy 10-minutes-before-I-leave-what-can-I-rig-up attempt resulted in this cyborg monstrosity.  Aw, yeah.  That really is a piece of wood attached to the helmet with zip ties.  Jealous much?

My plan for tomorrow is to remove all of that and rig up some amazing magnet system to be able to clip the pieces on and off easily and reduce the overall weight.  Also, I read a lot about helmets today and realized quickly how potentially dangerous it is to have a big stick attached to your head — the helmet’s supposed to slide on the pavement if you crash, not dig in!  So, quick disconnect magnets to the rescue!  Stay tuned for more build pictures.

( Too bad, tho, that cyborg head looks pretty freaking cool when I’m barreling down the path.  Like I have a laser canon on my head.  Hmmm, laser canon… )

Back to Biking

Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting.
Monday, April 2nd, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Dusted off the trusty bike last week for commuting to work – caught one warm day and then a chilly one, and today was back on its way down to chilly.  At least the rain stopped for the morning, and hopefully will stay away for the return ride.  I’ve been trying to work out my cold weather outfits so they are layered in a way I can easily remove layers while biking – I hate stopping.  So far it’s been mixed, but I’ll keep trying things.  It’s crazy how much heat you generate once you’re going, but also how cold the exposed parts can get…

We’re supposed to have a high of 32F on Wednesday.  Whoa.  If I’d biked all winter like I said I was going to, that wouldn’t be so bad, but since I didn’t it sounds pretty darn cold.  I’ll post an update then to let everyone know.

In other news, I really, really miss my family right now.  I wish I could have been out there this weekend.  Love you all…


Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting.
Thursday, June 1st, 2006 at 3:47 pm

So. Famous.

In a recent update to their webpage, the Greenway Coalition posted an advisory regarding construction of the Park Avenue bridge — and there was a picture of me on my way to work! (click for a bigger version). I’m wearing what I always wear: blue quick-dry breathable t-shirt, my backpack, helmet, and I remember that day (last Wednesday, 5/24) I was expecting rain so I’m wearing half (the top half, natch) of my detachable quick-dry pants. How do I know what day it was? That was the first day I discovered the bypass, and only because that biker in front of me kept going past the last possible stair exit from the Greenway. I was all ready to dismount and carry my bike out for a detour when she kept going, so I figured, hey, what does she know that I don’t? (Also, it turns out the filename for the picture has the date it in. But that was just confirmation!)

You can tell how fast I’m going because of how much I have to lean in that turn. And no, I’m not one of the two cyclists who went off the trail in the first hour after they opened the bypass. Fast, but safe.

Actually, I’ve been trying lately (actually starting that day!) to make the whole thing a harder workout (soccer, you know). I’ve been playing with a sort of interval training plan: sprint longer than I want to, slow down for a bit, repeat. Way harder, especially on the uphill way to work. Kewl.

Bike route + Google maps = awesome!

Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting, Day to Day.
Monday, April 17th, 2006 at 9:58 pm

So I’ve been biking to work for a week now, and I gotta say I love it: it’s really everything it should be and then some. It helps that most of my ride is on the awesome greenway, but even the city parts aren’t bad. In fact, the whole city somehow seems different from a bike – from the random encounters with a colleague from the MIA on the same route home, to the totally different spatial awareness. Some things that are far in a car are near on a bike, and some places that a car can get you quick become a huge chore on a bike…

Remember when google maps came out? And everyone was like "whoa…"? I do. One of the first apps I found that used the (at the time unpublished) API to create a new and cool application was a pedometer that let you map your route and it would tell you how far you’d gone. Well, it’s hit the prime time: it can do elevation too! Here’s the long route I normally take, here’s the short route I can take if I need to get there in a hurry. It’s a fun tool, because it confirms what I suspected – it really is downhill going home on the greenway! Too bad there’s a big hill in both routes – there’s no good way to get to work without hitting one. Ah well, in the morning I’m fresher and can handle it, and after work it’s the first thing I hit and then it’s all downhill — unless the wind is blowing east to west, like it was today. That makes a bigger difference than you think…

In other DuoTeam scorekeeping:

  1. Bruno ate a big knuckle bone Saturday, had terrible(!!!) gas Saturday night and Sunday, puked twice and had to go out twice Sunday night, and then unleashed terrible diarrhea and pee all over the office while we were at work on Monday. Karen gets 800 points for having most of it cleaned by the time I got home.
  2. I got a Zip-It Drain Cleaner and went to town on our slow-draining bathroom sink and tub, and pulled out more gross things than you can imagine. Even still, this was only worth about 20 points.
  3. I’ll leave it to her to post details if she wants, but Karen’s grad school advisor can’t be out of our lives soon enough for me. Rhymes with "totally bipolar and a terrible person". Negative 4000 points for her.

Gas tax

Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting, Politics.
Wednesday, April 12th, 2006 at 1:31 pm

[ Because I’ve started biking to work, I "get to" write this post. So there. ]

You heard it from the man, we’re "addicted to oil." A lot of people are suggesting a gas tax as a way to reduce our oil consumption – if it costs more, they reason, people will drive less, take public transportation, or buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

But will they? Gas prices here are up around 50 cents from a year ago, and while I can’t find any figures right now to back this up my hunch is that no one is changing their driving habits. Sure, some people are buying hybrids (if they can afford them), but most people (K and I) have just been sucking up the increase. How long can that go on? What kind of tax are we talking about to get people to actually drive less? Is $3/gal the magic threshold? Are people ok with paying this much for now because they think – like last year – it will fall back to a more "reasonable" level? And then what will people do once gas finally reaches that "too much" number? The public transportation in most cities simply will not cut it in the form it exists today. Am I really asking everyone to ride a bike every day?

No. Not yet, anyway… In the meantime I do think there should be some sort of new gas tax, but not without protections to make sure it’s not a regressive tax. At the minimum it should be offset by tax deductions for low to mid income earners. The rest of the revenue should be put into 1. new public transportation infrastucture (not just more roads for more cars), 2. campaigns for alternative transportation, and 3. increased tax breaks for purchases of super fuel-efficent vehicles. Those are all Good Things. Oh yeah, and we should also increase (by a lot) the mandatory fuel efficiency ratings for new vehicles – hopefully #3 will help with that.

So I’m stopping short (for now) of telling everyone to ride their bike all the time, but I think I’ll have enough "get to" points built up by next year if I bike through the winter. So there.

[ …The bike ride in today was wonderful: spring is everywhere, things are blooming, the temperature is fantastic, I arrive at work with my brain engaged and awake, I’m getting exercise and saving money. Awesome. ]