Monday, March 1, 2010

Drive-thru, Bike-Thru?

Today I had a few errands to run enroute to work.  It was balmy, at least 41 deg. F, so I wasn't in a hurry.  Blue sky peeked through here and there, a teaser of spring weather just around the corner. 

First, I lashed my plastic jugs for recycling to the snapdeck and coasted downhill to the dropoff center, about a mile away.  Tossed them in the dumpster.  Curious glances from the other SUV wielding recyclers in the facility. 

Off to my next errand, the pharmacy for some Rx my kids needed.  Rite Aid has a drive thru, which is convenient when unleashing toddlers from carseats is intimidating.  Today I was curious to see if it could work.  I pulled in behind two cars and waited my turn.  The nice old lady that pulled in behind me gav eme a nice wave, but I could see the puzzlement on her face regarding the weird dude in a fluorescent yellow jacket on a strange bike in a drive thru in front of her.  Love it.  I pulled up to the window, and the pharmacist looks up from her paperwork and her eyes grew wide in surprise.  She laughed and said "you're the first bicyclist I've ever had in 12 years working here."  Someone had to break the mold, eh? 

Funny thing was my Rx weren't ready, so I said I'd come in to wait.  Not happening, there weren't any places, I mean NO OPTIONS for locking up the bike at this location.  So, I just got back into line and waited my turn.  Eventually they passed me my things, I stuffed them in the freeloader, and away I went.

Riding along the river today I noticed that the true signs of spring were unmistakably underway.  The first hatch of spring aquatic bugs was in full force by the river.  Millions of stoneflies were lining the wooden guardrail, soaking in the patchy, pale March sun and flexing their newly inflated wings.  What a positive boost that was for me, seeing the mechanisms of life and Nature building momentum for the explosion of life in springtime.

One would never see this hatch in a car, save for the bug that splatted on the windshield, and then smeared with the wipers.

Nice day.  The added bonus was the faint glimmer of twilight that remained as I commenced my return trip home tonight at 635PM. Spring will be here soon indeed. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cold, Snow, and new loads on the X

Well, a new semester has begun, and I've managed 3 roundtrips in the past 2 weeks to work despite a hellacious schedule and crappy winter weather.  15mph headwinds, sub-zero temps, snow, rain, etc.  Plus it's always well after dark going home.

With my new wheels, Schwalbe studded tires, and lights, I've had a really pleasant experience riding in this ultra-cold weather.  The studs are like having miracle shoes on- really hard to slide unintentionally.  I climbed the driveway with a quarter inch of ice on it this afternoon easier than my wife could on foot. 

The X was useful this weekend in a different way than I've used it for before- I had a homebrewing weekend planned with my neighbor down the street- so rather than use a car or make several trips on foot, I rode "loaded," and schlepped all my equipment to his house in only a few trips. 

The best part was last night coming home when I came out to find a 1/2 inch of new snow covering the road.  Rode a few laps around in the dark, with driving snow swirling about (the neighbors are convinced I'm nuts).  The Schwalbes are KILLER in the snow and ice. 

Today I brought the boys over to his house to play with his kids.  We didn't walk, they rode the snapdeck (it's all of 1/10 of a mile, flat, no traffic)!  They loved it.  I'm totally doing it up this summer with seats for them. 

I love the Xtracycle!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Semester

January, 2010.

After a hiatus due to crazy schedules, exams, interviews, holidays, etc, I am back in the saddle.  This time, I'm armed with a few new pieces that hopefully will make bike commuting safer and more manageable in these short, cold, dark Pennsylvania winter days. 

SunRingle Rhyno Lite wheelset (Thanks, Cycle9!)

2 Trek Flare 10led taillights at the rear of the Freeradical. 

Rear SKS fender installed and adorned with about a 12" vertical segment of red reflective tape.

Cygolite halogen dual beam 16w headlight. 

Performancebike Illuminite jacket.

Best of all, Schwalbe, Marathon Winter studded snow tires.

First ride in today was cold with a 15mph headwind.  Part of the bikepath was covered in mud from a recent flood along the river.  But is felt great!  Here's to another car-lite semester.

more later...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rode on Wed 10/28, then took a week off due to a minor head cold and a really tough work schedule.

With riding this week to date, I have 20 commuting round-trips under my belt. My best so far has been 3 trips out of the four days a week I'm in the office.  This week I'm shooting for 4/4. 

To date my calculations indicate that I have:
1. hauled a 50 pound bike with gear 240 miles.
2. ground up a 0.7 mile long, 300 foot hill 20 times, totalling 6000 of vertical climbing.
3. expended approximately 16,000 Kcal of caloric energy doing this.
4. not consumed 17 gallons of gas (and thus avoided 323 pounds of CO2 emissions), and saving $50.
4. lost 10 pounds
5. experienced an empowering sense of well being and positivity with my new car-independence.

Thanks to Xtracycle for making such a good piece of gear that has made it possible for me to change my life and do some good.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Well, these are not official in any way, but here's my summary of the outcomes of my riding thus far.

I began on 9/14, and have ridden twice weekly for 6 of the 7 weeks (last week rode 3x).

That's fifteen 12 mile round trips.  If I used my truck @ 14 mpg I would have used 13 gallons.

19lbs CO2 are generated per gallon gas burnt.

That means I've prevented almost 200 pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

Plus I've lost 6 or 7 pounds thus far as well.

(Some might suggest that the lost fat actually was converted into CO2, and had been safely "sequestered" away from the atmosphere in my body.  But at least this is C that operates within the food chain and can be seen as "sustainable" in terms of the rapid uptake of C by plants in this version of the carbon cycle).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Riding Loaded...

Ride Loaded... as the folks from Xtracycle say.  Today I took a bulky but light load of plastic containers, cardboard, and paper to the recycling center.  This load also included my briefcase, duffel, lunch, locks, lights, and an empty growler to return to the local brewery.  Leaving for town is easy, it's all downhill.  Returning is where I frequently wish I had the Stokemonkey electric assist system from Cleverchimp.

A crisp fall day, an easy and useful ride, and on the way home I even had time to stop and chat with old friends I hadn't seen in a while.  Would have missed them had I been in a car.

Great riding, peace to all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hauling cargo.

Xtracycles are really for hauling cargo, but, I have been chicken to really load up for one reason.  I was uncertain of my ability to get back up the hill to my home once I went down (!).

However, I decided downhill to work was the best way to start, so today I hauled a huge plastic toolbox containing my anthropology class primitive firestarting kit back to school.  Zero problems- didn't even know it was there.  En route home I stopped at the grocery store and grabbed a gallon of milk and a quart of ale.  A benefit of hauling a beer up the hill, one feels ever so much more smug about drinking it once home.

Super dark, so helmet/headlight, handelbar light, 2 blinkies, reflective ankle bands, all deployed this time.  No problems, so I suppose it was a success.  It's also getting colder, in the 40s, and it still feels good. 

We'll see about November.

Side note- a motorist shaved past too close today and when I loudly requested he give me more room (nothing offensive, just loud), he actually stopped in the middle of his lane, rolled his window down, and then cruised alongside me and said that cyclists are supposed to yield to cars.  I told him to review the law, and that bikers are afforded the same basic rules of operation as vehicles, and that I was yielding, by riding on the right side of the road.  How far over can one get on a two lane, one way street with cars parked on both sides?  Get run over or get doored.  He just got peeved, and hassled me for a block or two.  What's with people?