Friday, March 30, 2007

Another Wonderful Ride and the March Totals

Here's an image from Cycle History that I thought you might enjoy. How'd you like to ride around on this rig? Do check out this wonderful journal if you're a real cycling nerd.

I arrived home from NY at 11:30 last night and therefore delayed my rising and riding this morning. Annie and I went out at 7 AM with the temperature in the low 40's. We decided to do the reverse loop in order to cope with the sun strength and it was great. Funny how changing direction changed the ride. We were able to ride a little bit longer and did 13.2 miles.

This closes out my mileage totals for the month of March since I will not be riding tomorrow on the Sabbath. As indicated in the list on the right side of the blog March came in at 310 miles. Since my goal is to ride at least 4000 miles this year, I consider this a very satisfactory total for a month that was still bedeviled by a bit of winter. Since my January total was above the average of 330 miles that I will need to maintain and the March total was not much below, only the shrunken total from February will have to be made up for. That should not be a problem over the summer months. In fact, upon doing the math, the present total averages to 329.2. So I'm only off the necessary monthly average by a mere 4 miles!

I hope to ride again on Sunday and Monday to usher in April and to blog about it. Then there will be some spotty days of silence over the Passover holiday.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Longer Ride, Shorter Post

As predicted, I am really pressed for time this week and the fact that I've been able to get my rides in is great; the fact that my posts have been so perfunctory is the price. I hope next week to be able to get to some other stuff. But, for today: I rode out at 5:45 in 39 degree weather. Clear and crisp and wonderful. Annie didn't come so I was able to really try to keep the pace up and succeeded in raising my average speed by at least 2 mph. Now, remember, I have to slow down a lot getting to the trail and back at red lights and such, so the real average on the tral is somewhat higher. Be that as it may, I was back tot he entry way at 6:30 as opposed to more like 6:50 and therefore started back around. I went back up the hill and turned back again toward the entry from the fountain behind the Museum, thus giving me a morning ride of 14.9 miles instead of 12.1. That's a pretty good increase while getting me home at exactly 7 AM, my normal time. Assuming I can do that regularly, (we'll see how it impacts riding with Annie) and, in fact increase the pace, my mileage should really increase. Now its back to the train!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An Afternoon Ride

Today I had a rare opportunity to ride in the afternoon. I was on a train to NY at 7:20 AM and after conducting a seminar, back in Philly at 2 PM. After a quick lunch and change of clothes I headed out to the path in 65 degree weather. I certainly wasn't going to miss this day! I rod the loop twice and the Fuji gives me a much higher cadence and average speed so it felt like much more of a workout. The pleasures of riding in the daylight are obvious. the only drawback, especially on a beautiful day, was the increasing traffic on the path. Cyclists, pedestrians, joggers, dog walkers, roller blades and baby carriages. I had my camera with me but was having too much fun riding to stop and take any pictures.But it was a beautiful day so who could blame them, and it will get worse; it was actually pretty manageable and once you pass the early part of the path it thins out appreciably. The bike felt great, though it was the longest time of been out sitting on this particular saddle and I felt it. similarly, my new shoes hurt after about 18 miles as they are still breaking in. But all in all an amazingly restorative ride in the midst of a killer busy week. We'll ride in the morning again and then its back to NY for another event!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's Warming Up

Today's ride began with the temperature over 50 degrees at 5:30 AM. And it only got better. So much so that after getting in our 12.1 miles and cleaning up for work, I put on my fancy new bike knickers along with my shirt and tie and rode to work (only .1 mile) so that I could ride to my first meeting of the day in town. All in all this allowed me to increase today's total to 14.8 miles. After that first meeting I had to put the bike away and turn to my car for meetings further afield. But I really loved flitting around town on the Fuji. It is so much easier to maneuver than than either of the other bikes I've tried to use around town. Plus, I've become a much more confidant rider. So a good cycling morning. Tomorrow I'm off to NY to early to ride, but have planned to return (via train) early enough to still have plenty of light left for a goodly Wednesday ride.

I forgot to mention yesterday that in addition to the cycling podcasts that I've subscribed to and listen to on my rides, I've expanded the field. I downloaded the NY Times book review podcast and listened to that yesterday for a change of pace. There is really quite a world of podcasting out there and you should get into it.

Picked up volume 1 issue 1 of a new magazine Road Bike Action. I'll report on it when I have a chance, along with other mags that I've either tested out or have already decided to subscribe to.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Rapid Morning and a Brief Report

Another beautiful day, temperature at 40 degrees. Annie and I are just loving the new bikes! We rode our usual 12.1 miles, flying around the loop and feeling refreshed and enlivened by the extra speed, the higher cadence and the time saving when we get home. Again, the time saving is very close to allowing us to try and add some mileage to our ride, but again we did not chance it as I am on the road to a funeral in NY today and needed to make sure there would be no mishaps or surprises.

So that's it. Another beautiful day and another great ride to start what will likely not be a very enjoyable day. Hope all the new features and info on the blog are of interest. Do feel free to leave a comment now and again.

Meanwhile, revel in the simple elegance of spirit that this bike rider exhibits as reported in this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer

Unsung fortune: A rich man's secret:Untours' founder lives abundantly on little as his wealth aids world.By Art Carey
Inquirer Staff Writer

Hal Taussig, 82 is devoted to living a simple life. Taussig gave away his last car to a hitchhiker in 1973 and commutes to work on a bicycle. (Max Levine / For the Inquirer)
» More photos Hal Taussig wears baggy jeans and fraying work shirts that Goodwill might reject. His shoes have been resoled three times. He bought his one suit from a thrift shop for $14.
At age 81, he doesn't own a car. He performs errands and commutes to the office by bicycle.

He lives on the outskirts of Media in a narrow wood-frame house that was built for mill and factory workers.

And he has given away millions.

Read further at The Inquirer

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Of Books And Movies

You may have noticed the addition of some pictures of books and movies and their accompanying widget. These are books and movies that I have been reading and hope to briefly review (some I have already) in the next couple of weeks. There are still a few missing from the list on the right side of the blog, but they should all be up there pretty soon. Feel free to consider their appearance a recommendation and go ahead and order from this page.

A Picture Of Sunday Morning Joy

No this is not a picture of me; it is another photo lifted from some one's blog. But the sheer joy expressed in the body language of this particular cyclist captures the joy of our ride this morning. The temperature at 48 degrees (but it felt warmer) and the sun rising as we rode (we left the house a bit later, this being a Sunday) so that it was shining fully not long after we hit the trail, and riding our new bikes just felt spectacular. We were able to ride longer than a weekday, despite my having to work most of today; I still could start a bit later. So we did 15.6 miles. I'd hoped we could get out at our regular time and then be able to ride even more, but the sleep is important too.

Along the way I listened to two podcasts. I'm still working my way through the entire archive of Fredcasts so I listened to one from last May after I listened to the latest edition of The Spokesmen that came in this morning. I've also downloaded some great cycling music via the podcast called The Cadence Revolution. so take a listen. I'm set on cycling company.

The coming week promises to be very difficult. I will be in NY for a funeral tomorrow and in NY both Wednesday and Thursday for other obligations. Not sure how much riding I'll get done and even if I manage a few rides less sure about how much time I'll have to blog. So forgive any delays and I'll talk to you soon.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Nice image, perfect sentiment for a perfect morning's ride. The usual 12.1 miles. A much different ride, a much more aerobic ride. I stole the above from 32 spokes blog, and if I stole it from somewhere else I apologise. Check out 32 spokes anyway: Here
The temperature this morning was 58 degrees and we were out only in our riding shorts and long sleeve jerseys. How great was that?!I also listened to a new podcast on this morning's ride: The KBOO Bike Show, which I downloaded from ITunes. KBOO is a Portland Oregon radio station but the show has interesting features. Today a discussion of biking in Japan as well as an interview with a woman frame maker who specializes in frames for woman, as well as a feature on woman in bicycling history. The show was dated from Woman's History Month.Take a listen

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Two Fujis Role and a Mileage Adjustment

Who knows whether it will last, but Spring seems to have arrived again. Annie and I rode out for our first ride together on the new bikes at 5:30 this morning with the temperature at 43 degrees. We both loved our ride and were back 10-15 minutes sooner than we would have been on the other bikes. I'd like to translate this into a little longer ride as we get used to it, but for today I appreciated the extra time to get ready for work.

Arriving home the new computer on the new bike read 12.1 miles, suggesting a discrepancy between the odometers of the two bikes. I will faithfully record the new reading, but since I can't know which is truly accurate I'm not going to re-adjust my mileage figures to this point. Just wanted to be clear.

Finally, this just in from the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition:

The Delaware River Port Authority DRPA has approved 11pm Bridge Walkway Closings for Bike to Work Week May 14 - 18, thanks go to DRPA CEO John Mathuessen.

On Friday May 18th BCGP and Trophy Bikes will be hosting Bike the Ben to the Ballpark Bash leaving from Independance Mall over the Bridge to Campbell's Field to watch the Camden Riversharks play the Bridgeport Bluefish.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Word From Adventure Cycling

Adventure Cycling is a great advocacy, educational cycling organization that provides maps for many wonderful trails and possible trips around the USA, as well as running a fair number of supported journeys. I pass along their latest request.

We're trying to drum up some action and get Adventure Cyclist magazine
into the hands of a greater number of cyclists. Toward that end, we
wonder if you, the typical Bike Bits reader, might be willing to help
out. Simply mention the "Grab a Free Issue" campaign to your friends
and on any cycling forums or blogs you may participate in. All you
need to do is tell them to go to our homepage and click on the "Grab
It" icon at the lower right-hand corner of the page. And by all means,
if you don't already receive the magazine yourself, be sure to take
advantage of this free offer for your own enjoyment and benefit. It's worth checking out!

Fuji's First Big Ride

Ah Wednesday with sun and moderate temperature. OK 30 degrees is not moderate in some places but it felt wonderful and with the sun it felt warmer anyway. I finally got to take the Fuji for a good ride and loved it. I certainly learned that a change of equipment does not a pro cyclist make. Despite the lighter weight I can't say that I tore through the ride; my average speed did go up one or two mph, but not enough to call miraculous. It was an easier ride for the most part and that allowed me to increase my cadence if not my speed. From an exercise point of view I think that is good.

I slept in a bit and got on the road a little after 9 AM. This allowed me to time my ride so that I'd arrive in Manayunk just about when Zoom, a local bike shop there, opened. Yous see, despite staying up until almost 1 AM, I couldn't get the new wireless cycle computer to work on the Fuji, plus I needed a new light, a flat kit (remember last week?)etc. So I had ridden about ten miles when I arrived and took a break there while they put the computer on, outfitted the bike with a bag and flat kit and a new light. Then I headed back into town for a meeting I couldn't avoid despite it being my day off. This gave me the opportunity to wear my new woolen bike knickers, a dress shirt over my regular riding shirts and therefore to appear generally acceptably dressed to go into the office. The clothes worked fine and I live the knickers. After the meeting I walked into town to do some errands and have a quick lunch and then picked up my bike at the office and started off on the second half of my day's ride. This time once around the full loop bringing my total for the day to 30 miles. I had my camera with me and took a shot of the bike shop, but somehow messed it up and then wanted a shot of me in my "dress kit" when the camera ran out of batteries for a change. I've got to be more careful about that. Next time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What A Difference Fourteen Miles Makes

There was still plenty of slushy ice on some streets but armed with a new edition of the Fredcast I took off at 5:30 AM in wonderful 50 degree temperature. The path was wet, messy but blissfully clear and I rode fast and hard (for me.)The full 14 miles (in part because I had time to ride a little further than normal and in part because I had to go around the long way because of a train parked at the path-entry) completely restored my energy and good mood that had been severely threatened by the lack of riding over the last few days. I don't know what I'll do next year if we have a real winter! But for now, Spring is here, and despite predictions of lingering cold weather, snow and ice storms seem unlikely (famous last words!)

Today was Annie's birthday. I gave her an Ipod Nano and a set of speakers and an arm/waist band so she can wear it on our rides. She was pleased. Then, later in the day we drove to Bustleton Bikes and she test rode her Fuji Absolute in two sizes (about 6 times on each bike for over an hour of riding.) She made her decision (15 inch frame) and we went home; too late for another ride. I'll ride tomorrow and if the weather holds and everything else is equal, we'll go out together with our new bikes on Thursday.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Better Than Nothing

I was determined to get out this morning and the clear skies and 26 degree temperature was most enticing. Unfortunately, not much melting had occurred yesterday, though it should be a bit warmer today followed by rain tonight so perhaps tomorrow will be almost back to normal. Today, however, was rough. Many patches of uneven snow, ice and frozen slush. I had to walk the bike over mounds at some points and finally gave up after about 4 3/4 miles and turned around crediting my monthly toll with another 9.5 miles. Better than nothing, but at the rate I had to ride (sloooow)I'm not sure I should count it. I suppose there's always points for effort.

I watched the week's cycling show on VS last night and saw both the recap of the stages of Paris-Nice and the final stage "live"(though I already knew that Contador won.) It was good to see cycling back on TV and VS should be commended. I only wish there wee fewer breaks. Discovery looked unbeatable which I'm sure bodes well for Basso winning the Tour De France.

I finally broke down and began reading Lance Armstrong's "It's Not About The Bike." I'm really hooked on it. More about books (as I keep saying) as soon as I get it together.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Late Winter Bummer

The storm expected Friday arrived with more strength than expected dumping a couple of inches of pure ice that is not in a rush to disappear given present temperatures. It will warm up slowly during the week and perhaps we're done with winter after that so I will try to be patient. But no ride today and undecided about tomorrow. If I do ride tomorrow I'll be back on the Trek, given the state of the roads.Bummer.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wet and Wonderful

Thirty-eight degrees and raining lightly when I set out on the Trek. Despite a pretty hefty head wind I did my 12.5 miles in little over an hour. It was a surprisingly pleasant ride, partly because there was almost no one out. I didn't pass a single bike and no more than two or three joggers. That will be a rare occurrence as the weather improves. Already yesterday I had the feeling that things were beginning to thicken up: more traffic, more people out who don't understand the rules of the road. It will only get worse. On the other hand, this was my first regular early ride here in Philly since the clock changed. I'd forgotten how dark it was going to be and wasn't used to it. Last week I was pretty much starting just as it got light, today I was home before that point. Ah well, it will improve steadily.
I listened to a new podcast as I rode: Bike Tourist Podcast. It didn't instantly become one of my favorites like The Fredcast or The Spokesmen, but the host, whose name I believe was Gabriel, was interviewing a couple biking around the world. It was pretty interesting at times, but got a little monotonous. More about other podcasts and books as soon as I can get it together.But along those lines, I checked out the League of American Bicyclists webpage and found that they now feature a videocast "The League of American Bicyclists show." The show I watched seemed to check out half way through no matter how often I tried it, though it was well done and interesting until that point. I was interested in the report on the National Bike Summit, but I couldn't get to it. Perhaps you'll have more success. Check it out

Thursday, March 15, 2007

How Embarrassing

So I returned from Arizona primed to get up early this morning and get out on the Fuji. Last night around midnight, which was only 9 P.M. for me as I was still on West Coast time, I replaced the rear wheel that Annie had taken in to have the flat fixed, got the gears back in place but could not manage to re-attach the clip that holds the brakes together! I worked on it for an hour and obviously there is a trick to it that I didn't pick up on. I finally realized that I just wasn't going to get it, and despite the fact that this made me feel like a real moron, I simply determined that today would be a ride on the trusty old Trek. As the Trek had just been tuned I wanted a chance to take it out anyway. I thought I could get up at my normal time and ride for a couple of hours as my first class today had been cancelled. But the time change took its toll and I awoke with just enough time for a pretty normal morning ride, except that I was able to do the whole loop, both sides of the river and, because there were trains on the tracks, to take the ramp up to Chestnut street and go home via the roadways, all in all adding a bit of distance and giving me a very pleasant ride of 15 miles. I sure didn't want to miss this taste of Spring Philadelphia continued to have, most of which I'd missed by being in Phoenix (who's complaining.)

But the forecast is for heavy rains and much colder temps tomorrow ending with a couple of more inches of snow. So riding again will be iffy until at least Sunday if not beyond. Meanwhile I will get someone to help me secure my wheel and will be ready to take the Fuji out without incident, which has so far not been possible.

If I don't ride tomorrow, or even if I do and have enough time, I'll report on some new podcasts as well as some cycling novels I managed to finish while away from home.

Below is a picture that I lifted from somebody's blog; forgive me that I don't remember now whose, but it was months ago. Either Bike Biz or Commute by Bike, reporting on someone's attempt to combine their passion for cycling with their passion for golf. I think it is a great idea and sure beats tooling around in a golf cart. I thought of it because the hotel I just stayed at was built on a golf course and had I know that I might have brought my clubs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

But I'm going to annotate the photos a bit anyway. I had to lead a workshop this morning at 7:30 so I did not get out as early as I might have, but was on the road by 10:15. I took the path that led to the public bike way that soon ended on the streets with a bike lane on most of them. I rode about twenty miles; it is a bit hard to know for sure as I'm on 20' wheels and stopped now and then to take pictures. But I'm being conservative since I road for over 2 hours and certainly felt as though I'd ridden at least 20 miles. And who said (someone did say) that Phoenix is flat. There are mountains in view as soon as you hit the road and while its not Seattle, its not flat.

This first photo is the view from the road just before the path hits the streets and you can see the mountain or foothill off in the distance.

The second photo shows me getting closer to that mountain.

And the third shows me at the top of the road, as close to the top of the "peak" as I could get.

I turned right at the top of the hill and the next two photos are supposed to give you an idea of the descent. I hope they do. It was fun!

On the other hand, at the other end of the very same road with a beautiful view is the very opposite aesthetic: The ubiquitous American suburban strip-mall. This was no national park I was riding around in, that's for sure.

But I did find the homes improved by the presence of the beautiful cactus gardens. I'm a sucker for cactus.

I managed to find my way almost back to the hotel. I remembered most of the turns I'd made and knew that I was close, but I just couldn't pinpoint the last part of the directions. So I stopped in a pleasant enough public park, rested my feet and had a Craig bar, used the very accommodating facilities and called the hotel for directions back. I was about a mile away, a straight shot down the road I was on. So I arrived back safe and sound in time for lunch and was greeted by the not too shabby views the hotel grounds themselves afford.

No ride tomorrow. I begin what I hope will be a much less frustrating trip back to Philly and look forward to riding the new Fuji on Thursday.

Meanwhile the third stage of the Paris-Nice is over today and Levi Leiphiemer has fallen to 26 seconds off the pace while dark-horse Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas has taken the yellow jersey away from David Millar.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another Ride Today

So here is today's second post and second batch of pictures. I rode for about another hour and this time actually found the bike path that the hotel clerk had suggested. Not that there was anything wrong with circling around the golf course and no one seemed to mind, but it was getting a bit boring as I came around for the fourth time this evening when I noticed that the sign for the bike path went in a different direction! So I followed it and it was a great path through more desolate surroundings and merged with a path that went off the golf course/hotel ground and eventually came to an end on a city bike lane in traffic. It was getting pretty dark when I got there and I didn't bring a light with me, so I'll explore further afield tomorrow. did pas a coyote this evening but didn't have my camera, not that he would have still been there if I'd stopped to get the camera out and tried to take the shot.

You may have noticed that I've added Velo News to my favorite blog list. It is a great site for keeping up with the bicycle racing scene day to day. If you haven't been following today was the second day of the Paris-Nice classic and though David Millar is still leading, Levi Leipheimer of Discovery, the team I've decided to root for (along with Toyota-United on the domestic side, co-sponsored by Fuji, my new love)is in 6th place but only 3 seconds behind. In fact the top ten riders are only separated by 10 seconds, but it is early in the race. Anyway, you can follow on Velo News and watch weekly wrap ups Sunday night on the VS Television channel.

I want to end with a shout out to a reader named Shayne. Shayne, whoever you are, the last comment you left, I think on Friday's post was inadvertently rejected rather than published. Sorry. Shayne asked what gives with married people always trying to buy matching bikes? Well, that's just not true. In fact it would be easier if Annie and I had different bikes, easier to tell them apart etc. But we've shopped together for months, tried out bikes together for months, and agree that the bike we found, in this case the Fuji, fits exactly what we were looking for. I wish they at least came in different colors, but they don't. Anyway, thanks for reading and for leaving comments. Anyone else reading who wants to leave a comment is really encouraged to do so.

A Hotel Bike Path

The nice thing about traveling west is that despite going to bed very late and being exhausted from traveling, when I awoke at 6 AM it was as if I'd slept until 9 AM, more than enough time for me. I was scheduled to give the speech I missed giving last night at 9 AM, which left me more than enough time to get in at least a little ride. So I unfolded the bike and went down to the lobby and asked the desk clerk if there was anywhere near by that would make a good ride. He said that the hotel has a bike path! It follow the outside of the hotel golf course (which I also wish I'd noticed was going to be here; I might have brought my clubs). So off I went. That's a picture of my shadow taking a picture aimed off into the distance at the start of the path.

This next picture is one of the scenic views of the golf course.

And this one is another, showing the desert vegetation that I love

I took a few more, but I'll hold them for tomorrow. I rode the circuit 4 times and I will approximate that I did 10 miles based on my time. I wish I had a cycle computer on the bike, but it just doesn't pay.

If I were going to be here longer I'd have to leave the reservation and venture into the streets. However I'm only going to ride again perhaps tonight at dusk and again tomorrow, so I think this will suffice and I won't have to deal with the pretty busy road we're on and its lack of anything of interest beyond strip malls.
It was 61 degrees when I rode; it will be very hot this afternoon, but I'm hoping another ride around dusk will not be too taxing. I'd feel really self-righteous about this weather if my phone call home had not informed me that the temperature in Philly today is 68. Oh well.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

You Wouldn't Believe

I started out for an 8:45 AM flight from Philly to Phoenix. I ended up on a 6:15 flight. I suppose the gory details of US Air incompetence are not really important. What is important is that I spent an entire beautiful day at the airport, arrived in Phoenix to late to give the speech I was engaged to give and, obviously, too late to spend a leisurely day riding.

But there were some moments of note. So I'm sitting in the airport waiting area and a guy walks up to me and says:"Excuse me, but you look very familiar. I'm sure I know you." So I ask him who he thinks I am and, imagine how floored I am when he asks, "do you have something to do with bicycles"? Thinking that perhaps he is an avid blog reader, I tell him that I do ride but, modestly, that I'm certainly not famous. He asks whether I'm a frame maker. Turns out he knows nothing of this blog (let's keep it that way) but really did just think I looked like some frame maker. But we talked and, in fact, were seated next to one another when we finally got a flight out. He's an avid rider, a member of the Philadelphia Bike Club and a all around nice guy. He was reading "Cycling over 50" and I was reading David Shields'"The Tour." Not only that but a Rabbinic colleague whom I met at the airport for the first time and with whom I spent most of the day as we were both heading to the same place, also turned out to have a cycling background and filled me in on her post-collage trip across country. Quite a community we have at that.

Finally, the good news is that I reached Phoenix and more miraculously, so did my luggage including the Citizen bike. Tomorrow is for riding.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Last Ride in Philly...A First Flat!

While I couldn't ride this morning as expected, the weather was getting warmer all day and by this afternoon Annie and I had cleared some time to take a ride. She took her navigator and I the Fuji and off we went. When we reached the path we switched bikes so that she could see how she liked the Fuji and how the 17" frame worked for her. She loved the bike, wasn't sure about the frame, and will go test the 15" Fuji this week at the Bike store. We switched bikes and continued on to the bridge. Just as we got there I felt a very funny sensation beneath me and realized quickly enough that my rear tire had gone flat. Of course, since the bike is new and I was so excited to ride it, I hadn't yet attached a flat kit, had no tube. Annie had her pump and we tried that in case we could get it to fill up, even temporarily, but it didn't work. So I rode Annie's bike home to pick up the car and go back and pick her and the bike up. Monday she will take the tire in to be fixed while she tests her bike. I'll be riding happily in the 80 degree whether in Scottsdale.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Another Book, Another Movie

An extra post today to catch up with my extra-bicycle activities: I watched an even better movie about the New York Messenger scene than "Pedals." It is called "Red Light Go" and is really quite similar to "Pedals" in concept, but for some reason is more interesting, better paced, with more interesting characters and interviews. I happened across it on Amazon and I don't know why all the podcasters and bloggers I read have only mentioned "Pedals," but given a choice I really think this one is the one to choose (assuming that one does not need two.) Granted, this one doesn't come with an accompanying photo album as part of the package so that might make a bit of a difference to someone.

And I finished Time Krabbe's "The Race." Incredibly well done! Really takes you into the mind of the man on a bike in a classic-style European road race. All the strategy and passion. I was breathless at times as the protagonist climbed the hills or sped down the descents. Highly recommended.

Tomorrow morning I must take my car in for a check-up and therefore sacrifice my ride. I may ride later in the day, but it is still very cold and becoming more windy and, truth be told, the thought of putting on all the layers of clothing when on Sunday I'll be riding in Arizona and I fully expect to come home to warmer weather and the advent of Spring...I may just skip it. And even if I don't it is likely that I won't have time to blog about it, so I expect you'll hear from me again on Sunday from Arizona unless I have some unexpected problem getting on to the Internet.

How Sweeeeeet (and stupid) It Is

So, for those of you who may have been wondering: Would he go out in 16 degree weather (no wind, really) while there is still plenty of ice and even mounds of snow on the trail, and not only go out but take out his new Fuji Absolute LX in those conditions? The answer is yes. How Sweeeeeeeet it was. And, yes, probably, how stupid. The trail was really in bad shape. Lots of bumpy ice, some smooth ice, and as I mentioned, areas that really could have used a plow where I was riding over an inch or so of hard snow. Good conditions for my very beloved mountain style bike, the Trek Navigator that came home with me all tuned up yesterday. But I couldn't resist trying the new bike for what might be the last time before I leave for Arizona without it. I love it. Slowly but surely, through hesitation and experimentation, we've gone through bikes until we've reached what should have been our first and original purchase given how and where we ride. It is so light; I covered so much more ground so much more easily and while I couldn't, because of conditions, really air her out and see how much faster I can travel, get this: I left the house at 5:45 which is 5 minutes later than I should have; I had to wait for a train to cross the tracks, but because it was moving at a good clip I didn't take an alternate route, so lost close to five minutes; I had to go really slowly in many spots because of conditions, and I returned home at 7:08, only a minute or two later than if I had ridden the Navigator without interruptions. I can only suspect that in good conditions I'd have been home a good 15-20 minutes early, which should translate into being able to use those minutes to ride further and faster. I know there are much more high end bikes, lighter, faster, better components, etc. But this is a good quality bike that does precisely what I want to be able to do. I'm very happy!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Still On Twenty Inches

Expecting snow today I woke up at my regular time instead of my later day-off time in hopes of getting a ride in before it arrived. And I did. A somewhat adventuresome ride at that. I left the house at 5:45 on the 20" Citizen Folding bike. I continue to find it a fun ride, but I must admit the extra effort and the slightly longer travel time is getting a bit old after four straight days, especially in these rather extreme weather conditions. Thankfully there was no wind to speak of today, but at 18 degrees the windchill was still 11 degrees and in those temperatures every minute counts a bit more. Anyway I started out before the snow fully aware that it could start at any minute. I reached the Locust street trail-entry and though I'd had no trouble getting the Citizen over the tracks before, for some reason, perhaps I'd slowed a bit on the turn and didn't have enough acceleration before I hit the deep gravel, I went down! First spill on the bike since I started riding and an insignificant one at that. Not that I didn't feel the sting, but I doubt I even have a mark on me given the amount of layered clothing I wear in this weather. You'd think that it might be at this point that I'd noticed that in my stupor on leaving the house I'd forgotten to wear my helmet, but I still hadn't noticed. Not until I was somewhere up on Kelly drive, I think I reached to adjust the ipod ear pods, did I suddenly realize that I didn't have my helmet on. I thought it pretty ironic that I'd actually fallen on the only day that I'd not worn my helmet. How is that possible, you may wonder? Obviously the balaclava covered by my ear warmers cover my head to the point that it doesn't feel like I don't have something on. This, of course, left me feeling a bit anxious given that it was also at about this point that the snow began. But the snow was not a factor until very near the end of my 13.5 full loop. On the last stretch of the path the snow was creating a film over the roadway because so few people were out. It wasn't deep and on the regular roads was being moved away by traffic, but on this one part of the trail and then on some of the side streets heading home it gave me some pause and I rode slightly more cautiously. On top of that, for some reason my ipod must not have charged fully but I ran out of power on the return trip and couldn't finish the line-up of pod-casts I'd set out for today's ride.
Now I'll watch how this weather develops this morning and see whether I can pick up our bikes from the shop. Ah well, if not today then tomorrow, but I'd sure like to give the new bike a whirl.

Last night I watched the DVD "Pedals" about the life of N.Y. Bike Couriers. Fascinating! And fun to watch their daring riding in the City Streets. Of course, I'm conflicted. I have just enough experience riding the downtown urban world of Philly to know that sometimes, maybe more than sometimes, the safest and most effective cycling requires ignoring the normal rules of the road and I've reported on my doing just that. On the other hand, I wish that this were not so and the flagrant and joyful flaunting of safe and legal cycling behavior is not good for cycling, I think, in the long run and only justifies the contempt in which drivers and pedestrians in the city hold cyclists. It's a dilemma. But the movie itself is very well done and very worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I Whip The Wind...And The Wind Whips Back

Late last night we made it out to the Bike Store but the wind was already so strong that the Mechanic, Mike, advised us against hoisting our bikes on the car trunk rack. After deciding that I didn't want to bother with dismantling wheels etc to get the bikes inside the car, we sadly agreed that it was the better part of virtue to leave them. Since I have a very busy schedule at work today, that means I won't have our bikes back until Wednesday (if it doesn't snow as predicted!)That meant getting out on the Citizen again this morning which was certainly no punishment. I actually do love riding the little thing. So out I went in the 18 degree, -1 wind chill morning. No problem with the cold except for one finger on my right hand that came home more numb than I would have liked. I'll have to put another layer of gloves on somehow even under my up-to-now very sufficiently warm gloves! But the wind!! The trip out was into a sustained wind of over 20 mph with gusts probably in the 40 mph range. It was work, especially on 20" wheels. But it was fun. However I have to admit I wimped a bit and gave up at the U.S. Grant Statue which is yields round trip of 9 miles for the day. Funny thing I expected the trip back to be a breeze (pardon the pun) and it was, but not because of a tail wind. Rather the wind seemed to stop altogether. This made me regret not going all the way to the bridge. But it was a good ride and I will not be greedy.

Anyway back to yesterday: First we went to Mikes Bike Shop in South Philly that someone recommended to us. I forgot to take my camera so I don't have a picture of Mikes, but Mike was a really nice guy and he showed us a couple of Schwinn's that interested us. Super Sport series I think it was called. The bike he had in stock was the bottom of that line and we didn't love it, but the top of that line interested us but is sold out in the size we need (that is, not available from the national distributor.) New models may be available in April. So we moved on to Bustleton Bikes to see what Pete had brought in for us after our conversation the other day. So we (actually I, since it was dark and really windy already and Annie didn't feel comfortable riding) took the Fuji Absolute LX on a test ride. It was love at first ride! Such a different feel from the heavy Navigators. I rode it around and around, testing the gears, changing the seat height, trying my best to get a fair feel under less than the most pleasant conditions. Well, I bought it. I also tested the Trek FX3, but there was no comparison. The Trek was a bit lighter than our Treks but didn't feel nearly different enough to warrant changing bikes. Well I hope I will be happy since I am Absolutely (forgive yet another unintended pun!) not buying another bike for a loooooooong time. For those of you who are familiar with this saga from the beginning (see blog post #1) this will make the sixth bike in less than twelve months - and the last. Meanwhile, since Annie didn't ride she will try mine out when the weather is a little more favorable and I think she'll join me on the Absolute LX. You can see it at Check it out

Monday, March 05, 2007

Not Riding The Citizen...Oh Well

The sun came up spectacularly about half an hour after I left the house on my Citizen bike for the second straight day. Temperature was 31 degrees and I had a good night's sleep - raring to go! And I went about three miles, thanks to the garbage train parked across the track opening at Locust street. Oh, the train wasn't the problem. I just rode down to 23rd Street and up Chestnut to the entry ramp. But just as I came up the first museum hill the peddle came off my bike. And for the life of me, without a wrench, I couldn't get it back on. Talk about feeling incompetent. I had to call Annie to come pick me up with the car. Luckily she had decided that it was too cold for her to ride. Anyway, I'm home with time to spare. I fixed the peddle and, despite the expectation of having our Navigators home today and even the possibility of new bikes, I will need to ride the Citizen again some time this week in order to mark the proper post heights which I couldn't take the time to do while folding it for emergency transport this morning, before packing it up for our trip to Arizona next week. All in all a bit of a bummer.At least there are no pictures of me standing helplessly by my bike in the museum parking lot!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Riding The Citizen

After a two day lay-off I was crazy to get out on the bike this morning and looking forward to my first real ride on the Citizen folding bike. Annie, you'll remember, took hers with her to California and rode it every day for a week, but today was my first opportunity for a real ride since our regular rides are in the shop being tuned after a hard riding winter. By the way, I'm not sure I ever mentioned that we both ride Trek Navigators; Annie a 300 and me a 200. They have been wonderful to us and allowed us to learn to feel very comfortable riding and to ride smoother, safer and faster than we rode on those first box-store bikes we stupidly bought. But, as I mentioned the other day, we are seriously looking for a next bike. The Navigators are heavy and slow. They are weighted down with suspension we don't need, fat tires and a heavier than necessary frame. We are going back to Bustleton bikes tomorrow to test ride some alternatives and may visit other shops (again) as well.But back to today's saga. We gave ourselves a little extra time figuring that the small wheels would translate into a longer, more hard working ride. I don't think it was actually so. We did need the extra time only because I had to stop about 4 times in the first half a mile to keep adjusting the bike: the seat, the handlebars etc. But once I had it all where I wanted it we made pretty good time and had a great time. The bikes are fun to ride, that's for sure. I don't know that I'd want it for my regular, but as an occasional ride it was really fun. And the weather was perfect. We left the house with 37 degrees and light wind. The sun was just coming up and we rode in the soft sunshine of morning the entire way (despite the fact that it turned cloudier, blustery and even flurried later in the day.) I felt great. I remembered the camera and wanted a picture of us out on the path, but, of course, the batteries died. When we came home I arrived I changed them and these are pictures after we'd finished the ride, in front of our house. We rode 13.5 miles.

A friend who has been reading the blog asked about maps of the trail. I have two. One published by the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia and the other by the city. The former is a bit better than the latter. But my friend couldn't find a good map on line and I promised to look and link to one. I was sure there would be one. Well, I couldn't find anything decent and I agree with my friend that a good map on line would be good for tourism, not to mention use of the facilities. Perhaps we've just missed it, but if anyone knows let us know. Meanwhile, I'll lend my friend the hard copy maps.

I also wanted to take a minute to mention a new element on the bottom of the blog page. Actually I hadn't mentioned the new layout and template. It was kind of forced on me by changes at, but I've adjusted to it and restored all that I had on the original template plus more. One of the "plus mores" is a link to Blognet. This is a wonderful site which tries to link myriad blogs so that one can find a myriad of information on whatever one is interested in. give it a shot.

Finally,a little more BOOK NEWS:
I wanted to report on Iron Riders, by George Niels Sorenson, Pictorial Histories Publishing Co. inc. 2000. It is the story of the 1890's Fort Missoula Buffalo Soldiers Bicycle Corps and it is fascinating. It is filled with wonderful vintage photos and a fascinating text describing the only real experiment in the use of the bicycle on a regular basis by the U.S. Army. Despite the fact that it made a lot of sense to make more use of the bike, and in spite of the fact that this particular experiment, successful as it was, did not usher in the wide spread use of the bike in the armed services, it makes for a great story. Unfortunately the writing is a bit pedantic, more like a history teacher's monologue than the story it could have been. This made it a little daunting to read all the way through. But I did and if you do, and your interested in the quirky history of the Bicycle, you'll love it.

I also wanted to report back on the first volume of Cycle history that I bought awhile ago. It is number 16 and is the proceedings of the 16 International Cycling History Conference held at Davis, California in 2005. Talk about taking the bike seriously! I love this stuff. It is a series of perfectly academic papers of which I haven't yet read all, but have read most and found the topics much more fascinating than the papers, my typical response to academic conferences. but just the fact that there is such a conference and there are such papers is wonderful. the books are a bit pricey but little by little a buy others.

Friday, March 02, 2007

More On Books and Blogs

A quick continuation of this morning's post. I received from Amazon today the following items that I will be reviewing:
The Rider by Tim Krabbe
The Race by David Shields
The Tour by David Shields
Red Light Go: Alley Cat Racing in New York City - A DVD
Pedals Photographs and a Documentary Film by Peter Sutherland
Trouble is the weather is turning so nice who knows if I'll ever read or watch a DVD again! Just kidding. But the weather is beautiful today after the rain storm that washed out my ride the sun came out and it is 60 degrees! But we needed to get the bikes tuned so in they went and hopefully we'll get them back on Monday afternoon. Meanwhile we'll ride the Citizen folding bikes on Sunday and Monday morning and I'll let you know how that goes.

We did spend some time with Pete of Bustleton Bikes figuring out some good next-step mounts for us to try and a Fuji and a Trek will be ready also, I hope, on Monday and we'll give them a whirl. More on that later as well.

Finally, I do have two other cycling books that I have finished, but no time for reviewing them today. Perhaps tomorrow night.


The rains came as predicted and instead of riding I'm sitting at the kitchen table listening to an old episode of the Crooked Cog Network Podcast.

So now to a quick book review. "The Six-Day Bicycle Races: America's Jazz-Age Sport" by Peter Joffre Nye, Jeff Groman, and Mark Tyson (39.95 Van Der Plas Publications/Cycle Publishing, San Francisco)is terrific. It is a large format book, looks like a coffee table book and has more than enough wonderful photos to qualify, but that is deceiving. The pictures are accompanied by an informative and substantial text that traces the development of the sport, the riders, mechanics, promoters, fans and the surrounding American social history from the earliest Ordinary (High Wheel) races past the rise and fall of the sport in America and its continuance in Europe to almost contemporary times. The history was both fascinating and intriguing. I would love to see such a race! The characters were real characters!The popularity of the sport, in light of the contemporary contempt for cycling (I can't get my local Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor to carry news of the Tour of California, despite the fact that the NY Times covered it)is heartening.Under the right circumstances we may be able to re-kindle America's love affair with bikes. But most of all it is a plain old good read.If you love cycling read this book.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Calm Before The Flood?

So they say, anyway. The rains are supposed to begin tonight and continue through a good part of tomorrow. I'm assuming that we won't get to ride in the morning, which I hope will give me an opportunity to get to some of my impressions about Bicycling books that I mentioned receiving and beginning to read weeks ago. And also to mention some new books I've discovered and ordered on the basis of reports in various blogs and podcasts. It also seems like a good time to take our bikes in for tune-ups, so our plan is to do that tomorrow and, if necessary, ride the folding bikes on Sunday and Monday by which time I hope our bikes will be ready. Mine especially has taken a lot of wear and tear over the winter. Finally, with a good excuse to visit the store we bought our bikes from, Bustleton Bikes, Annie and I plan to take some time looking at bikes for a possible next step. We're both itching to get on faster, lighter mounts and have visited a few other shops and investigated many possibilities via the Web. So, who knows, maybe we'll even come home with new bikes for Sunday and Monday, but I doubt it.

Meanwhile, today is really spring-like. It was only 34 degrees when we left, but it is over 50 degrees now and even as we rode the day was warming up. Annie is still a little weak-legged but she let me go on ahead and I was moving. I picked her up on the way back and she turned around to go home with me. It was a fine ride for 12.4 miles. I listened to two episodes of The Fredcast, one going out to the bridge and one coming back. Perfect timing. Next time out I'm ready with a couple of episodes of The Spokesmen, after that another episode of Bikescape, and little by little I will catch up on all of them giving me plenty of company for the ride for the foreseeable future. I'm learning a ton from all these guys.

Finally, to see if anyone is out there: I'm thinking of changing the name of my blog to The Ludwig (see yesterday's post for the reason.) Any opinions?
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