Bicycling Mittens for Five Degrees

photo of gloves and mittensI eased out the alley and navigated through Fairview neighborhood and onto the greenway. Accelerating as fast as I could down the light grade, the computer reported speeds accelerating to 20 miles per hour, with a air temperature of 32 degrees.

My new overmitts were being put to the test. According to a parka website, I had just generated an effective temperature of about 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

This hadn’t fully clicked for me before: moving through space on a bike in cold weather generates significant wind chill.

Continue reading Bicycling Mittens for Five Degrees

The Story of the Golden Bicycle

Photo of a very different golden bike With the sun rising in the distance, I found myself staring at a golden bicycle, abandoned by a dumpster. I’m not talking about a standard golden paint job. This was an all-over, no holds barred spray paint job. The seat was golden. The tires were golden. The water bottle cage was golden.

I stood there contemplating it, awestruck and contemplating it’s story. Was this an Earlham “Community” bike, a re-habbed free ride, intentionally ugly to avoid theft? Perhaps it was stolen, painted gold to mask it’s true identity. Or It could have been an art project. One last golden hurrah before the junk pile.
Continue reading The Story of the Golden Bicycle

Why I traded in my car for a bike

bakfiets, car seat, stoller and Model T

This is the story of why I traded in my car for a bicycle.

It’s not that many people have asked about this. Rather I have sensed that people wonder about this unusual lifestyle choice and do not ask.

My story isn’t going to be about lifestyle comparison or counting karma points. I want to convey the emotional parts of this transition.
I had some selfish reasons for wanting to get rid of my car. I don’t particularly like driving them or riding in them. I don’t know how to fix them if they break, and I’m not interested to learn. I didn’t like car down payments, car insurance payments, car gas payments, car breakdown payments and car break-in payments.
Continue reading Why I traded in my car for a bike

Calculate Your True MPH

Morning commute

 “Let’s Race!”

I challenged Ehren to a three mile crosstown race. I would ride my bicycle (as fast as I could!), and Ehren would drive his Volvo, taking a normal route and traveling average speeds in his car.

The destination was slightly uphill from us.

 “Go!”

Soon the routes we chose to follow diverged, and I didn’t see Ehren until the destination.

He pulled in about 30 seconds after me, complaining about traffic.

Continue reading Calculate Your True MPH

Bike Tour: Cover Indiana ’06

I banked my bicycle towards the sign labeled “International Circus
Hall of Fame”. On the outskirts of Peru, Indiana Hopi and I pedaled
down the rural road looking for something that would live up to the
name on the sign.

I thought we were close when we passed what appeared to be flying
trapeze rigging sitting in a field in front of two large barns. Still,
nothing looked active or open.

I paused in front of a plain trailer with a small window labeled
“TICKETS” on one end. As a dog barked nearby, I was working up the
courage to knock on the door of what increasingly appeared might be the
wrong building.

Read the complete tour journal.

Stealth Commuting Rain Pants

I had this dream. Pants that looked normal enough to wear to work, but with hidden super powers of water repellency. The elusive versitale garment sought after by bicycle and pedestrian commuters: Stealth Commuting Rain Pants.

It was immediately clear when they arrived tonight that they looked fairly normal and fit very well, but the hidden super powers needed to be tested. Conveniently, the kitchen floor needed mopping as well.
Continue reading Stealth Commuting Rain Pants

Bike Tour: Richmond, IN to the Tennessee Border ’05

Need a Ride?

By the 40-mile morning rest stop in Willisburg, I was about ready to give up again, and my bike was making a strange creaking noise at times. Scott, our ever-present mechanic from Pedal Power was there to help. Meanwhile, I snacked on Clif Bars and Advil and rested.

A small screw on my brakes was stripped he said, and he didn’t have the part to replace it with him. This was necessary to hold my back break on.

I ate a banana, drank some water, and let him tinker some more, half hoping a mechanical failure would be my excuse for not completing the day. Already, all but the slowest two riders had come and gone from the rest stop.

But dropping out was not my fate. A few minutes later Scott had jammed a wire cap perfectly into the stripped hole, and promised a full brake kit replacement that evening. He just happened to have parts for the exact model in stock.

So I was back on the road again now with no riders in sight ahead or behind me. At least one hill was too much for my knee before I got to the lunch stop. I got off and walked the bike up it.

Read the complete tour journal.

Notes from my first bicycle camping trip

Early May, 2005

Need a Ride?
I got several positive looks and comments as I pulled my full loaded recumbent bicycle out of town. With the trailer and bright yellow pannier covers, it was hard to miss.

“What did you pay for that?”
“What IS that?”
“NICE BIKE!”

Along the route, I got the opportunity to try out a loose dog defense technique I’d read about. I squirted the barking booger in the face with my water bottle when he got close enough. The dog did in fact stop immediately, as confused as anything else.

Continue reading Notes from my first bicycle camping trip

Mounting a third water bottle cage on a Rans V-Rex recumbent

I wanted to follow the pattern of Rans V-Rex Commuting Weapon by adding an additional water bottle mount to carry a light system battery.

That’s what the picture above is. There’s also a large version. Here are some notes on how this was created.

Continue reading Mounting a third water bottle cage on a Rans V-Rex recumbent

Review of Arkel Utility Basket Pannier

 After spending hours poring over Arkel’s website, I’ve just purchased my third Utility Basket bag from them.

Today I’ll share some of the hidden features of the 2005 Utility Basket which make it suitable for touring as well as day-to-day commutes.

Continue reading Review of Arkel Utility Basket Pannier