Wednesday, January 31, 2007

End Of The Month Tally

Despite last night's snow showers, the road was clear and relatively dry this morning when I went out at 6:15. The temperature was 26 degrees but there was a fairly prodigious wind, especially on the way out, that turned this morning's ride into a great work-out. It felt great, and with continuing forecasts of snow I think it is going to be catch as catch can as far as riding goes. Can't complain, really. The first January of my bicycling hobby has been good to me. Total miles for the month: 369.3!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Bicycling Day

Today was one of my most successful and prolific bicycling days yet. I took my regular morning ride at 5:30. It was 26 degrees when I started but with little or no wind it was a pleasant ride despite the fact that there was still some snow-covered ice on sections of the trail. One section in particular, about half a mile long was completely covered. I had no trouble riding through it but it was the first time I'd faced the stuff on the ground and it was a bit unnerving. After I returned home and got ready for work I decided that since I had a lunch meeting with a colleague at the Manayunk diner I couldn't resist taking the bike out again. Remember that Manayunk is part of my regular ride and I could get to the diner by just riding along the usual Schuykill path, which I did. On the return trip I continued past my house on to Pennsylvania Hospital to visit a congregant and then home, bringing my total mileage for the day to 30.8 miles. Not bad for a day's work. It began snowing here this evening so tomorrow's ride is in jeopardy.

Monday, January 29, 2007

No Ride Today

It was only about an inch of snow but I'm concerned about ice, especially as I go out while it is still dark. So no ride today.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Wonderful Ride and First Word From The West

After a very restful Sabbath I was on the road at 4:40 this morning in 43 degree weather. What a difference 20 degrees makes! I felt really good and had the time to ride 23.4 miles before getting home and ready to go to work. It was just perfect.
Meanwhile, while I'm still waiting for pictures to arrive. I know that Annie and the boys have already been out riding together (and Annie on her own as well,) and aside from their having a great time, the Citizen is performing very well. The ease of transporting it on the plane and its utility in the field seem to be validating our investment, which is a good thing. The boys have joined the San Fernando Valley Bike Club, about which I'm thrilled. Their only complaint is "why didn't we ride like this as a family when they were younger. Mea Culpa.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Or Maybe It Is...Minnesota

I rode this morning starting with a temperature of 15 degrees and a wind chill of 1 degree. Take note of the wind chill! Once again I discovered that the temperature is not an issue for me. I dressed just slightly warmer than yesterday and felt fine. Nor does the wind significantly impact the question of temperature comfort. What it does do is make for a slower, tougher ride. The wind was fairly steady at probably 15 miles with gusts to 25 miles. It provides a mixed blessing. First it slows done the ride a bit. Second it discourages me, at least, from venturing above my general minimum ride of one loop.(For those keeping score, today's ride came in at 13.8 miles.) Third the harder peddling warms my muscles more quickly and, finally, fourth, I feel I get a better work-out. The day was otherwise beautiful: clear skies and bright shining sun. What could be better.

So far, no reports from my California riders to share. Hopefully by Sunday I'll have some narrative and photos from them.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's Not Minnesota But Still..

Another balmy morning in Philadelphia...32 degrees and not much wind on the first loop. I was out a bit later than usual having taken Annie to the airport earlier in the morning for her flight to visit our boys in California.(More on that in a minute.) I wanted to ride a little longer this morning, but did have some time constraints so didn't make two full loops. However I'm not sure I would've anyway. The wind picked up good as I came around for the second loop and the going was a lot tougher. I was happy to head home and come in with a total of 16.2 miles for the day. As the wind picked up the snow began to fall more heavily and I stopped to try to catch a photo of it. I don't think it shows up, but a couple of fellow cyclists going the other way do so I'm sharing it with you anyway.
Among the folks I saw on the ride was my neighbor from across the street. I'm embarrassed to say that despite having lived here for almost 20 years I don't know his name. But he is out on the trail almost everyday, some days running and other days riding. Today he was riding. I'll have to find out his name!(Not pictured.)

So Annie left for California and the big news there is that she took the Citizen folding bike with her. We were very nervous as to how the airline would treat the bike, packed in its traveling bag and well within the specifications for luggage. On their web site the specifically write that there is an $85 handling charge for bicycles. But they took the bike as regular luggage without a word. Now Annie can ride with the kids and I gave explicit instructions that they email me photos of their adventures for the blog. So stay tuned. Of course, the first news I await (aside from the obvious...that Annie have a safe and comfortable flight) is about how the bike holds up to the baggage handlers. I asked her to open the bike and see how it is as soon as she gets settled in Shaul's apartment. Hopefully all will go well and we'll have some reports from the west coast to share here soon.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Passing Along an Interesting Development

In keeping with my attempt to pass along some of what I find interesting in the bike blgosphere, here is a link to Commute By Bike Tips about a development that should start showing up on all of our streets. Any opinions as to whether this is good or bad? Does it substitute for more substantive solutions to road reconstruction that will enable better cycling in cities. Sharrows

Our Wednesday ride was lovely. Again, temperatures in the low thirties felt balmy. Annie was back out with me and we did a 13.7 mile loop.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Back In The Saddle-Snow Lightly Falling

If the predicted flurries had started before I left the house at 5:45 I'm not sure I would have ridden. But I did and it was wonderful. A balmy 33 degrees, I was probably a tad over-dressed. But I rode hard and fast and really enjoyed the ride, especially doing most of the return trip with a gentle snow flurry falling. I wish I'd taken my camera with me, though I'm not sure what would have shown up in the darkness. Another 12.4 miles was definitely restorative.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Snow Day

It wasn't much of a snowfall, but it was enough to keep me off the road, especially in the dark. I may have a chance to get in a ride later in the day when things have cleared out. I'm definitely going to have more days like this and will need to find things other than my little ride (pretty boring anyway) to write about. I have seen more than a few interesting things on other blogs these last couple of days, but always feel a little sheepish about simply taking material that others have found and published. However, I guess part of the idea is to get that information circulating more widely, so I will be less hesitant and, hopefully, more informative as this week progresses.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What A Difference A Week Makes

Last Sunday I set out in 50 degree weather on an overcast day. This morning I got back on the bike after missing an unusual two days (See: A Lost Day and then the Sabbath.)I had hoped to get out early and do two loops before having to attend a long planning workshop at work, but I'm still not quite myself and dragged my feet a bit getting up. Knowing it was 16 degrees didn't add much incentive. But up I did get and out I did go. I realized that even had I gone earlier I doubt I could have done more than the 13.6 miles I did. Not because I was cold. Properly dressed I could feel no appreciable difference between riding in 30 degree temperatures and 16 degree temperatures. But it is clear to me that the colder the temperature, even when I don't feel it, the slower my muscles work. There were some decent wind gusts to slow me down, but the bottom line is that I just don't make the same time when its cold. And the effort is greater such that even were time not a factor, a second loop would have been a push. Be all that as it may, I did my ride and felt better for it. The weather is going to be day to day from now on, as temperature doesn't scare me but precipitation and temperature together does.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Lost Day

My work schedule kept me from blogging yesterday. My body and the weather kept me from biking today. Yesterday was wonderfully crisp, around 25 degrees when I went out at 5:30, but with no wind. I loved the ride and did 13.5 miles. However, my body is still a bit drained from the tooth episode and after a late-night meeting last night and faced with cold and a mix of rain and snow this morning, I let it go. The rest of the day turned out to be beautiful, but I couldn't fit in a ride. Sunday they're calling for good weather so I hope to get in a nice long ride.

Meanwhile, my friend Harry bought me a present for, as he said: "My growing collection." It is a beautiful little book called Bicycles (Le Bicicltte)by Fermo Galbiati and Nino Ciravegna published by Chronicle books of San Francisco. It is kind of a small coffee table book. It traces the history of the bicycle with short narrative and really unique pictures. It is lovely to have. At the same time, two of the books I ordered, "Iron Riders," the story of the 1890s Fort Missoula Buffalo Soldiers Bicycle Corps, and "The Six-Day Bicycle Races: America's Jazz-Age Sport," arrived. Now who cares if it snows. I can ride indoors and read these books for information and inspiration.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Bit Brisk

The temperature was 20 degrees and the wind chill 10 when I left the house, later than usual since it is Wednesday, my day off, at 7:30 AM. But I was well layered, face covered with a balaclava etc. Really no problem with the cold. It is a clear and sunny day. After not riding yesterday and given the cold I must admit it took me a little while to work myself up to going out and I decided not to ride in the dark, hence my later start. But once out it was a most enjoyable ride. My legs were a bit leaden, again I'm not sure if that is because I didn't ride or because it just takes a lot more energy to get the legs moving in these temperatures, or because there was a 10 - 15 mile an hour wind, but I was struggling for the first 5 or 6 miles. After that, I could have ridden all day, but my water was frozen despite putting the Camelback under my jacket and I do have other things to do today, so I settled for 23.1 miles.
And I finished a new poem:

War Metaphors

What are the competent metaphors
for studied warfare that persists and
deepens the hold of false notes
not music nor the pain of a toothache –
careful not to trivialize –
the words go to ground in bunkers
and car bombs flinging pieces of
some upstate boy’s life – not deserts
not mere betrayal not even martyrdom
The only metaphor for arrogance
is arrogance the only word for
tyranny is muffled in the explosion

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

No Ride Today

Yesterday I had the need for a sudden tooth extraction which was accompanied by much pain, some infection and fever. No ride today on what promised to be the last of the unseasonably warm days of the year. Still, I'm feeling much better tonight and hope to get out on the much colder road tomorrow and therefore have something more interesting to write about.Meanwhile, here's a picture from a recent ride around the Schuykill loop that I hadn't had a chance to post before.
It is the first sighting of the Falls Bridge as you come around a curve in the road. I remember the relief I first felt on seeing that sight.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Uniting the bikeblogosphere

The warmth lingers on. Annie and I did our 12.4 loop in 50 degree weather, though the weather folks say a change is coming.

Quite a few of the blogs I frequent have been talking about he following (as expressed by Cyclingdude:)
Tim Jackson, The Masi Guy, has been blogging since March 2005.

The other day he was inspired to find a way to spread the word about other BikeBloggers.

Our community is all about bicycles, so I am calling this the B-List... for hopefully obvious reasons.

Here's how it works;
I post my list of bike blogs that I like and read and then you cut and paste the list onto your blog and add the sites that you like and read. Then anybody who reads the list does the same and a great viral meme is born, creating lots of exposure to the blogs on the lists and giving people a new set of blogs to read that they might not have known anything about. It's a great way to build and foster community among our peer group of cycling bloggers... and it's also a lot of fun and brings people together for a big virtual hug.
In an effort to hold up my end of building the biking fellowship I am going to try and follow these directions, though my technical skills are going to be sorely tested.
First the easy part: here's my list:
  • Cyclingdude

  • Alan Snel's Bike Stories

  • Commute By Bike

  • Biking Bis

  • Bicycle Diaries

  • rideTHISbike
  • CityCycling
    Well, that does it for my favorites. Trying to get everyone else's seems impossible at the moment, so check out CyclingDude or the original Masi post.
  • Sunday, January 14, 2007

    In The Soup

    Sunday morning, the fog thick as soup and the temperature hovering at 50 degrees. A perfect morning for a winter ride. We did one loop of 13.6 miles and then came home to get ready to travel up the turnpike to celebrate our granddaughter's first birthday.
    Doesn't she look advanced for her age?

    Well, she's not ready for a bike, but in a pinch a green elephant will do.

    If the rain holds off it will be the same riding conditions tomorrow, but by Tuesday they're saying winter will finally arrive for real. Temperatures are predicted down into the teens. I am ready for it.

    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    Fitness or Fun?

    If you've read my first post you will know that since I began biking everyday at the end of June I've lost over 40 pounds. Of course, I get a lot of good feedback and encouraging compliments about this. When people ask how I did it, I always mention the fact that I bicycle everyday. Certainly daily cycling has had a lot to do with my weight loss. But I always also mention 1) That my weight loss is not entirely due to cycling. While I am not on any kind of a standard diet, and in fact still eat pretty much the way I used to with one big exception: No crap. I have cut out all desserts and all soda. I used to devour a passel of M&M's (only a true addict knows how much a passel is; you don't want to know) with one or two classes of milk every single night before bed. I cut all of that out. Ironically, I did not take up cycling in order to lose weight, nor did I cut out the junk in order to lose weight. I did the latter because I all the sweets were making me sluggish, affecting my skin, and I just knew it was really bad for me and the time had come to do something about it. I took up bicycling because it was fun. I was actually as surprised as anyone when I began to lose weight consistently over the next couple of months. Now, once it began and I took note of how much better I felt, I certainly felt more committed to both on that account. But my main motivation for bicycling was and remains fun. Even getting up at 4:45 in the morning in order to have my fun doesn't put any damper on it. That is time of stolen back for myself and most of the time can share with Annie in a way that the rest of the day doesn't usually allow. So what say thee all? Is it fitness or fun that motivates you? Can they even be distinguished? Isn't that the real trick to losing weight or getting fit? Find something you want to do not in order to lose weight, but because its fun, and do it.

    Now, on a tangentially related issue, I came across a fascinating article and invention on the Bicycling Life Web page .Check it out about a fellow who has invented a bicycle-mounted golf caddie and is lobbying for those who want to to be able to use their bicycle's on the cart paths of America's golf courses. As a part time golfer this would be something I'd love to try if I felt it would be welcome. Here's the picture that attracted me.
    And his web site is .here

    Now, for today's ride. A balmy 44 degrees when we went out and a really smooth and enjoyable ride without encountering any of my pet peeves as described in the post of that name until we were stopped from crossing the tracks on our way home by a train. It was moving pretty quickly and we waited for it to pass rather than taking the alternative route, so I lost a few minutes and had to rush to get to work but today's 12.5 miles was pretty close to perfect.

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    Are We A Fellowship?

    I mentioned yesterday that I stopped at La Colombe cofee shop in Manayunk on my way home having heard that this was a place that cyclists often congregate after or during their morning ride. Indeed there were three cyclists in the shop. One man who looked older than me (but in better shape) dressed in really serious riding spandex with team logos. He hardly gave me a nod, let alone a smile. And two younger, athletic looking guys seated together at a table. One of the three had left his unlocked bike leaning against a parking meter outside the shop and because there was very little choice I leaned mine on the other side of the meter and locked it, being very careful not to disturb his nor to get too close to the car parked at the meter (which turned out to belong to the second of the two riders.) When I entered the store I said to all of them and no one in particular something like "I was really gentle locking my bike next to someone's so don't worry." And one of the two younger guys said, smiling, "well I was going to come out and have a talk with you if mine had fallen over." I smiled back and assured him his bike was fine and went about my business. The older guy left first. Then the two younger guys. One took off on his bike and the other lifted his on top of the car. In the process my bike fell over. I came out to fix it and nobody said a word. Not "I'm sorry" or even "couldn't be helped." Which reminded me of all the cyclists I pass or who pass me in the morning. Next to no one waves, which I understand, but precious few give the universal cyclist's helmet nod. Wouldn't you think there'd be some sense of camaraderie given the minority we still are and given the fact that its pretty unusual to be out at 5:30 or 6:00 on a cold winter's morning riding a bike? What gives?

    I also wanted to take this opportunity to mention another cycling magazine. Actually not a magazine put an annual proceedings of the International Cycling History Conference. Their website gives all the details: Check it out. Here's a picture of one of their annual proceedings. They look great, the contents are on the website. Really serious cycling history.

    And finally, this morning's ride: I left the house with the temperature at 27 degrees. (Annie begged off. I think her lower limit is thirty.) And had a perfectly comfortable ride for my 12.4 mile loop. There was less wind than yesterday. I was making pretty good time when I had to lose a few minutes to one of those dogs off leash that I complained about in my pet peeves post. Actually I encountered two or three that pranced across the road and that I had to be careful of, but all but one were quickly reined in, either physically or by obeying their owner's commands instantly. However, one owner could not get her dog to stop, could not get the leash on quickly and the dog was running at me so that I had to stop and each time I tried to move on, the dog was back on me. Finally, the owner got the beast under control and I continued on, yelling back: "You could at least say you're sorry."
    Though she was not a cyclist and I can't lay claim to a shared fellowship, whatever happened to the shared fellowship of being human utilizing rules of civility and manners to ease the burden of that humanity? Without meaning to I've articulated a theme here this morning.

    A Morning in Manayunk

    My day off, but I do have other things to do than bike and blog, so not as long a ride as other Wednesday's. I did want to go into Manayunk and get some photos along the way to share with you. I also wanted to stop on the way back at La Colombe coffee shop. I'm usuaully rushing home but really wanted to feel like I was off, stop, have a cup of coffee and continue on home at a leisurely pace. Today I did that. And La Colombe is noted for being a cyclist's hang-out. Sure enough when I got there there were three other riders in full cycling regalia. But I'll tell you about that later or next time. For now, let's look at the pictures. Manayunk is one of the more famous parts of the Philadelphia Bicycle Race held each June. The famous hill along the Manayunk wall is a killer. The bike path passes by the hill as one enters Main Street in Manayunk, but does not climb it...thank goodness. Here is a shot of the beginning of Main Street and you can see the wall, with its mural, including some cyclists in the painting if you can make it out. From there I continued into Manayunk and turned down to enter the Manayunk Canal Tow path the start of which is shown here

    As you can see from this shot a little further along the path it is quite lovely.

    About 2 or 2 1/2 miles down the towpath, past the center of Manayunk, the path turns really rustic; you wouldn't think you were in the city at all.

    Finally, perhaps 2 or three miles further along the canal re-joins the Schuykill River and the path meanders for another mile and ends in a cobblestone hill that re-joins the street level path on to Valley Forge.

    Tuesday, January 09, 2007

    At Last a Winter's Day

    Winter has returned, but it is a beautiful day despite the colder temperatures. Annie and I rode our 12.4 mile loop, leaving the house with a temperature of 34 degrees and a wind chill of about 25 degrees. Never felt warmer, since we were back fully ensconced in our winter gear. We had a lovely ride and then I took the bike to work since I had a meeting far enough away in town to warrant using the bike. I'm getting more and more comfortable riding in city traffic. I take care not to try to out-race the cars, just let them go by and do their thing. So far I've had no problems. And not only did I thoroughly enjoy the short rides back and forth from the meeting, but I added a couple of miles to my daily total.


    The panoply of cycling magazines is truly prodigious. I have certainly not perused them all. But I have been reading Bicycling Magazine and, despite the fact that I've read some negative comments about its being a fluff glossy that repeats the same few articles over and over, I've not found that to be the case. I've found it to be helpful, informative, varied and generally well written.
    I've also been reading Cycle Sport America. I enjoyed the first issue, but less so the second. I find that it takes an awful lot for granted and I can't figure out who is racing in what races for what organization. This may not be the magazine's fault, but just something that will come as I know more about the sport, but a nice intro section would be great. I've decided to try Velo News and compare.
    finally, I just discovered a lovely journal, it appears to be web only, called Citycycling, from England. I really enjoyed the articles, photos and tone of it all.Take a look at these neat wished for road signs for bicyclists: Check it out
    I also enjoy Bike Culture and have been reading it every month for the last few months

    Anyone who has any comments or other suggestions please do share them.

    Monday, January 08, 2007

    Of Books and Bicycles

    I once wrote an essay that described the true inner core of my interest and excitement regarding the many hobbies I have pursued in my life. And I have pursued many, from pipes and tobaccos, to golf, to pens; from beer making, to baseball history; the list goes on, including book collecting, especially first editions of modern American poetry. Anyway, the essay focuses on the fact that each of these hobbies and more generate their own literature and its the literature that interests me often more than the hobby itself. I enjoy golf, but for awhile enjoyed reading about golf more. The same with the others. And like with this blog on bicycling, I have sometimes attempted to add to those literature's, especially vis-a-vis pipes and tobaccos where I have had articles published in various pipe journals or when I published some articles in the book review journal of the Society For American Baseball Research. So, it should come as no surprise to those who know me, that since June I have been sampling bicycling magazines on and off line, and slowly choosing books that seem like they might help me understand more and relate more to the history and culture of bicycling. I'll cover my magazine discoveries in a later post. For now, let me mention two books. Finding books has not been as easy as I would have expected. Most of the books on the bookstore shelves are either about Lance Armstrong (and for some reason I'm put off by those) or about training and bike maintenance. These last two are important subjects, but not what I'm interested in yet. I'm looking for stuff that gives me a sense of the pleasure that I take out of my daily rides; books that somehow mirror the obsession that I've developed (and that will surely fade.) So far I've found two books that fit the bill. The first is: "Bicycle: A History" by David Herlihy, published by Yale University Press.Check it out at Amazon. I've read this book twice through. It is fascinatingly well written and thorough in covering the step by step, and mis-step by mis-step, history of the development of the bicycle and the various ups and downs of its commercial success. The second book is "Riding With The Blue Moth"by Bill Hancock. It is the very moving story of Mr. Hancock and his wife's recovery from the tragic death of their son Will in a plane crash with the University of Oklahoma basketball team for which he was a publicist. In the aftermath of the tragedy Hancock undertakes a cross country bicycle trip during which he tries to escape the shadow of the "blue moth," his name for the terrible grief he carries with him. In each chapter Hancock deposits a small nugget of advice for his infant granddaughter to mine in years to come. Frankly, these are less then stellar for the rest of us, but aside from that, the descriptions of both the ride and the process of healing it affords, are very well done. .Check it out also at Amazon. Next on my list is "The Six Day Bicycle Races: America's Jazz Age Sport" by Peter Joffre Nye, Jeff Groman, and Mark Tyson followed by "Iron Riders: Story of the Buffalo Soldier Bicycle Corps" by George Niels Sorenson. More on them later. Finally, there is an important genre of bicycling literature, those books that describe routes and rides both near and far. I've purchased some five or six that describe rides around Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. I will eventually review these as well.

    It's Raining...Not Snowing

    Hey, all you Kelly Drive drivers, that lone figure riding the trail this morning in the pouring rain was me. It is fifty something degrees in January and I'm not going to let a little rain waste that. It will change soon enough, I'm sure, and soon all of that precipitation will be white, slippery and most likely will send me indoors to try out the trainer I have not yet used. OK, so I wasn't the only meshugginah out there, but it was pretty sparse (didn't see you, Harry.) Roman, the old man who looks to be at least mid-eighties was out there on his daily walk carrying an umbrella, and by the end of my two trips around (23.2 miles total) I did see three or four other cyclists, but as I said...pretty sparse. I did see George, Annie's chiropractor and dedicated cyclist as I came in for the second time. We've learned a lot by asking George questions, relayed through Annie, and it was heartening to see him out this morning. Speaking of Annie's doctors, another one and our friend Matt is a D.O. who is also a bike commuter and apparently another of his patients asked him for some advice about buying a new bike, especially given that she is small of stature. He said, "My Rabbi just bought new bikes, you should talk to him." Immediately, his patient, who, it turns out, had also been one of my students in at least three classes at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, put two and two together and realized he must mean me. They made the connection and Nancy e-mailed me with her questions. We set up a meeting for me to give her a bit of the fruits of my mistakes and successes in the bike buying business. By the way, Annie and I, now armed with our Trek navigators and our Citizen folding bikes, are slowly looking around for more road bike type of a model for more speed and lightness, but we probably will take a good long time until we buy anything else.

    As fascinating as my travails on the bike must be, I am sensitive to the fact that a blog should serve as more than merely a diary if it is going to be of interest to anyone. I've tried to add occasional links to things I think are of interest. Next up are a couple of book reviews.

    Sunday, January 07, 2007

    Citizen Part Two

    After a lovely morning ride of 13.6 miles today (I could only do the loop once despite it being Sunday due to work obligations and our desire to sleep a bit later on the weekend,) we took our second ride of the day when I returned from some morning meetings at work. Who could resist, as the weather continued its Spring-like character. So I was able to get Annie up on her Citizen bike and I took mine and we rode probably 4 or 5 miles up the Schuykill path. She loved it and we decided not to return either of the bikes. They are a lot of fun to ride and our only concern is figuring out when we would ride them. As previously reported, my first attempt to use mine for commuting wasn't everything I'd hoped primarily because the bikes are a bit heavier and bulkier than ideal and because at least the first office building I tried, wouldn't let me bring the bike inside even when folded. But the idea of traveling with them still seems feasible. We are checking airline regulations today before making a final decision.

    Friday, January 05, 2007

    Happy Birthday

    Today is a gift. It must be my birthday.(In fact it is.) January 5th and the temperature at 5 A.M. was 60 degrees. We rode our 12.4 mile loop, Annie and I, with no winter gear to slow us down and no cold muscles to warm up. We made incredible time and had an enjoyable birthday ride. I'd thought of taking the day off and riding 58 miles for 58 years, but rain has been predicted all day. In fact, I wasn't sanguine about getting any riding in today, so I accepted the gift of our regular ride graciously and will not try to over reach. On another subject my new book, A Responsible Life, was the subject of a feature piece in this week's issue of the New York Jewish week. Anyone interested is directed to Check it out if you're interested.

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    This Just In

    This just in from Bike Culture's website:
    First Indoor Cycling Track for East Coast and Second in USA Gets Local Support
    EAGLEVILLE, PA November 2, 2006: Lower Providence Township Manager, Joseph C. Dunbar, along with investors and project developers, announced today that the first indoor velodrome and events center on the East Coast will be located on a 14 acre site not far from Valley Forge National Park just outside of Philadelphia .
    Check the rest of the article out
    Sounds like a whole new kind of fun for Philly area bicycle enthusiasts.

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Pet Peeves On The Path

    How long can I talk about the Schuykill loop without showing off the most famous steps in America (the world?) This shot shows the front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the so-called "Rocky" steps. Now matter when I ride by, regardless of how early or how late there is always someone running up the steps, getting to the top and lifting their arms above their heads in the Rocky pose and having their picture taken.

    The actual statue of Rocky is just off to the right of the steps. There too someone is nearly always having his or her picture taken with Rocky (The pose here demonstrated by my wife Annie.) The pride of Philadelphia.

    So here are some of my pet peeves on the path.
    1. Top of the list: dog walkers. They come in two types. Those who hold their dogs on a lease so long the dog can prance across the entire width of the path at will. Bad as this is, the folks who walk their dogs without leashes should be arrested.
    2. Groups that walk or run three, four and five across.
    3. People who stop, turn, or cross to the other side of the path without warning and without looking.
    4. Walkers or runners who choose to go against the traffic, walking on the left side of the dividing line coming toward me.
    5. Bicyclists riding without lights at 5:30 A.M.
    6. Same as above dressed in black (you wouldn't believe how common this is.)
    7. People who,when you say "on your left" in order to warn them of your approach and caution them against moving to the left, precisely move to their left instead of to their right
    8.People who clearly have heard you announce your coming past but whose bodies stiffen as if to say "You go into the oncoming traffic lane to get around me, I'm not moving."
    9. Bicyclists who ride too fast
    10.Bicyclists who do not announce their passing.
    Which is a whole other matter. You see the Schuykill River Trail is accessible at ground level over in-use train tracks owned by CSX. For years the City and CSX have been fighting to make these ground level crossings "real" crossings with all the necessary safety features. But CSX has balked, claiming, quite the opposite, that these ground level crossings should be closed. Finally this summer an agreement was reached, CSX suddenly became consumer friendly, distributing hats and water bottles, putting up nicely phrased warning signs, agreeing to build the at-grade safety crossings, to have the trains idle somewhere other than these crossings, and even to help fund a bridge into the park from another nearby park that would avoid the train situation altogether. It will likely take a few years for all of this to happen, once our Mayor signs this negotiated agreement, but in the meantime after having run into not literally) trains if not daily than every other day since I started riding, having to either wait for them or, more often, ride to the ramp on Chestnut street about a half mile away, which is not meant to be ridden on, in order to enter the park - these last few weeks we've hardly seen a train. Today between my ride which started early since I had to take my son's girl friend to the airport, and Annie's ride which overlapped mine, we compared notes and found we'd been blocked by a total of three trains today one of which was the garbage train (which the agreement says will be re-routed) whose passing lingered look after it was gone. Since I couldn't cross the tracks and didn't feel like using the Chestnut Street ramp, I rode back up to the Museum, took the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to 21st Street and rode that all the way back to our usual route at Delancey. It was a good opportunity to get more of a feel for some pretty heavily traveled streets vis-a-vis the "commuting" side of my riding. At 6:30 A.M. there wasn't much traffic, but it gave me a feel for the route. So my ride was 15.8 miles today.

    I Am A Commuter II -Goodbye to Citizen?

    I had an opportunity this afternoon to commute around town again. I had to meet someone for a lunch appointment on the East side of Center City about a mile from the office. I decided to take my bike to work with me again...not the Citizen but the Trek. Riding the Trek in town was hands down easier. I could ride it faster and therefore, in my opinion, more safely in traffic. Yes, I did have to lock it up outside, but since I could see it from the table I was sitting at I wasn't anxious. And certainly folding a bike and bringing it into the small restaurant would not have been easy, and may not have been permitted. So, sadly, while the-using-the-bike-more-around-town experiment is going well, the prospect for keeping the citizen is getting harder to justify. No question that taking it on an airplane and having it at my destination still seems very plausible, so what I may do is return one and keep one and Annie and I will take it with us when we each go to separate destinations, which we do often. On the other hand, we will be going to the same destination more than once during the year too. So what to do? Haven't decided yet.

    What Are You Thinking On That Bike

    Here is a daytime view of Philadelphia's famous boathouse row. They are more dramatic at night when they are illuminated artificially, but I think this is prettier.
    Wednesday is usually my long ride day, but having just returned from vacation my desk is too cluttered to ignore, so I took a mere 15.5 mile ride into Manayunk and back this morning and will soon get to work. The temperature when I rode off was thirty degrees and a fair number of motorists were scrapping frost off their windows. I had wanted to get some pictures along the Manayunk Canal tow-path but had some problem with my camera. Next time. Meanwhile, I thought about writing a bit about what one thinks about riding along. There is definitely a difference between a 10-12 mile morning ride and a 50 mile half day ride in terms of the range and quality of thinking. Part of what I think about is the bike...that is, how am I doing, what gear should I be in, how much further do I think I should wisely ride before turning back. Part of what I think about is the people on the path. The interesting folks running, walking, riding, skating, roller skiing, walking dogs or sitting along the road. Some of these folks we've come to recognize and call "the regulars." Many say hello as we pass. Some never do, some do sometimes and its hard to know why they do sometimes and not others. On the other hand, thinking about the people on the path raises what I call my pet peeves. People's behavior on the path can be exceedingly irritating. But I'm going to save that discussion for a future post to be entitled Pet Peeves On the Path. Then of course there are the personal thoughts. Thoughts about work, family, life, love, friendship; sometimes positive and sometimes not. I have certainly cleared my head on many a ride. Even this morning I must say I wasn't feeling all that well disposed to the world when I took off...didn't sleep as well as I might have. But by the end of the ride the world looked a lot better. That's a great reason to get on a bike.

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    I Am A Bike Commuter

    First, though, a report on our early morning ride. What a glorious day. The sky was clear as day even though it was still night. The moon was nearly as bright as any sun and as we rode home the sun was rising gloriously. A perfect 41 degree morning, we didn't let the 16 mile an hour winds slow us down (much). It just put a great beginning on the first work day of the New Year. Then after cleaning up I switched bikes, took the Citizen folding bike, and rode off to work. Today is a day that I teach a lunch-time Bible class at one of the Center City Law Offices, so just the kind of day I wanted to have to test out the possibilities of getting around town with the new bike. It will be a relatively short ride over to the Parkway area and then fold up the bike and see how it feels to march into the building carrying the bike. Meanwhile, when I arrived at the office my new cotton dress knickers had arrived. Regular pockets, belt loops, they look just like regular pants until you get down to the ankle. Again, it's all a bit of an experiment to see what works best. I think regular dress pants with an ankle band will actually be more appropriate. The ride from home to work went without a problem, but that's only a few blocks. My trip to the law firm was also uneventful. I can unfold and assemble the bike in seconds. Riding in traffic along 18th street was a bit daunting, but I managed without incident. I use a messenger type bag to carry my books and I don't think I like the feel of it. I will try a backback next time, it feels liek it would give a more secure feeling.I did find, in the end, that it seems impossible not to ignore some traffic laws despite my predilection to have a commitment not to do so. But with the traffic and the aggressive driver's and, most of all, the impossible amount of double parking, I found it too tempting to zip down a few small one way streets where there was almost no cars. jump on the sidewalk at a few crucial moments, and jump red lights in order to get ahead of the traffic. Mea Culpa. Theoretically I'm really in favor of obeying all the laws, but survival takes precedence.In any case, I arrived at my destination, folded my bike fairly easily, though I'm definitely better at unfolding it and will need a bit more practice, only to be told by the security that I could not carry the bike in the building. They were good enough to hold it at the security desk but warned me not to do it again. I was a bit dumbfounded. Shouldn't the constitution protect my right to carry personal property that is neither more bulky nor unwieldy than a big suitcase into a public building? I guess not. So if you happen to be peddling to 1900 Market Street in Philadelphia, bring a lock. But if I wanted to lock my bike on the street I could have used my regular ride and locking the folding bike up, with all its movable and re-movable parts seems even less of a good idea than locking up my regular bike, which was precisely one of the main things I was trying to avoid. I suppose the other option would be to somehow have the carrying bag with me, but I don't think that is possible. But I left my bike, taught my class and comfortably rode home feeling that I haven't come to a final decision about how to do this on a regular basis or about how I feel about having purchased this new bike, but on a sunny, warm January day, none of the hassle seemed to matter much.

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    Happy New Year II

    Well I waited out the weather...sort of. The heavy rain had stopped and only a persistent mist and occasional drizzle met me on the road. No matter. With the temperature at 56 degrees on January 1st, I wasn't about to be deterred.I did probably dress a bit too warmly though, its tough to convince yourself to go out without some winter gear on in January. I don't know whether this photo shows the mist well enough, but it certainly communicates the general dreariness of the day. Annie begged off, but I only made one loop anyway. Between the weather and the lack of sleep I didn't have my good legs going this morning. I definitely enjoyed the ride, however. It also gave me the opportunity to use my XKS Rear Dirtboard - or fender for the rest of us. I have tried to use it before but, being short of stature doesn't leave alot of seat post to attach it to. But I removed my rear kit bag and was able to attach it securely enough. It worked well, but I'm still considering looking into getting a permanent fender put on.Before I went out, with time on my hands, I worked on two new poems. Here's one inspired by our visit to the Amarna exhibit at the Museum yesterday for those of you so inclined:


    Slant of winter sun at the mid-day gate
    open to the still vibration of power and enmity
    the enmity of god’s competing – of decreeing
    who is god and who isn’t – publishing the winner
    in massive stone only to be covered in sand by
    subsequent decrees – it is like that for Pharaoh –
    derived from the word for palace the seat of power
    in the end always personified and therefore always
    not only fleeting but even undiscovered


    We usually get around the path before the geese awaken in the morning. And I've noticed that once they wake they work their way up the bank eating as they go. The later you ride the farther up the bank they've reached. Today I rode so late that they had crossed the road. In fact, coming through one of the overpasses I must have startled them and a mini-flock descended right on me, nearly flying into me, but just missing. These two were taking their own sweet time getting back. It reminded me of the famous children's story.

    Happy New Year

    It is 7 A.M. and I'm not out riding. Despite having awakened at 4 A.M. instead of 4:45 as usual in order to take son number 2 to the airport for his flight back to L.A.I am back in the house hoping that the rain will stop or slow enough for a ride later this morning. Since I'm still on holiday I can have the luxury of out waiting the weather. On my usual morning ride I'd be out in the rain. The hourly forecast suggests that it will clear by 10, so I may have a ride to report on later in the day. Meanwhile, let me reflect a bit about the place of blogging in my cycling experience. Early on in the process of becoming a regular rider I turned to the Internet for education. I discovered the blog (among other commercial sites that were also very helpful.)I'm pretty sure that the first blog I encountered was Cycling Dude who has been mentioned before. And probably through him I discovered the other blogs listed in my links section. I literally have put aside half an hour around my lunch hour to check into three or four of my favorites daily and when there is a bit more time, to check out either new ones or blogs I haven't found that compelling in the past, but are interesting enough to check on an irregular basis. Aside from learning so much from these experienced cyclists and besides having through them been lead to important web sites (like Foxwear Check it outwhere we bought some great winter riding gear)it has connected me to an entire community of bikes and bike related people. I strongly recommend exploring the world of bike blogging. Just today, in my rainy day mode, I did some exploring and discovered a number of great folding bike blogs. More about those another day.
    P.S. I think that embedded link worked. Yes. I'm getting the hang of this.
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