Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Years

A Surge in Bicyclists Appears to Be Waiting Check out this NY Times article
Happy New Year!
No ride this morning. 21 degrees and I'm in New Jersey anyway, awaiting the blessed event.

Farewell 2008

Today is the last day of 2008. It will certainly go down as one of the more interesting years in recent memory, what with the soaring gas prices followed by plummeting gas prices, a soaring economy followed by a plummeting economy and one of the most exciting political campaigns in anyone's memory. And The Phillies won the World Series!! And the bicycle achieved a place in the public discourse because it touches and is touched by these aforementioned subjects. They even got to lead out the Phillies victory parade.

Personally it has also been a very exciting year marked by Yoshi's wedding and the impending birth of our grandson in the next few days. (Technically that makes that part of next year's story, but grandchildren are relevant to any discussion.) Meanwhile, through it all we rode. Annie and I rode in the Freedom Valley Ride, The Harlem River Valley Ride, The Lancaster Covered Bridges Ride; I rode in Bike Philly without her because she had to be out of town, and we probably did another ride or two that I am forgetting. And of course, we rode almost every morning on our usual route around the river. Which brings me to my mileage for the year. It was a beautiful morning for a ride today, about the same temperature as yesterday, a bit colder perhaps, but almost no wind (which has since picked up to howling this afternoon) and I was sorry that I'd made a relatively early appointment to have my second Apple One-To-One. And since I stayed up late to watch a really exciting Flyers game from Vancouver last night, I didn't get out at my regular time. It was nice to ride in the light and I managed to push harder and ride over 17 miles to end the year. That brings my yearly total to 4701.4. Two hundred miles above goal, three hundred miles less than last year. A well chosen goal. I'll stick with it for the coming year: 4500 miles.

Meanwhile, January should get off to a rocky start riding-wise. The baby will be born in the next few days and for a good couple of weeks we will be either staying up in New Jersey or going back and forth a lot. Even if we take the folders with us, given the winter weather, miles may be hard to come by. But when things settle down I will be on Sabbatical and expect to at least maintain if not increase my normal riding patterns. As you may remember I hope to begin working in my local bike shop as soon as things do settle down. I will try to document my experiences there on a separate blog that will link from this one starting in a few days. It will be called Mussar and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance and the link will be up soon. Till then. Ride safely. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What A Wiind

Although Hanukkah ended yesterday I just came across this photo from Alan Snell's Bike Stories blog: Happy Belated Holidays to all!

The thermometer read 44 degrees and frankly, even with 20 to 40 mile an hour winds I wasn't cold as Annie and I rode this morning. But there were times when I was actually scared! I thought I might get blown over. I rode most of the way up Kelly Drive out of my clips just in case I had to catch myself going over. I think it was all mostly in my head. Of course, riding back the other way was much more pleasant.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cooler And Darker

The official temperature was 40 degrees when Annie and I rode out this morning. It felt colder, but was a pleasant ride to start the week. I also noticed how much darker it has become. It has been night-dark when we leave for a long time, but the sky began to lighten by the time we reached the Falls Bridge. Today it didn't even begin to lighten until we came around the museum near the end of our ride. Funny how it sneaks up on you. I fixed my tire yesterday and so was riding the Fuji this morning which felt good. I have the Brompton with me for errands etc the rest of the day so I'll record the mileage later.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sixty Degrees and Blog Anniversary

Despite being really grumpy from an ongoing physical ailment (I can't categorize it any more specifically than that: it sounds like a cold but the only symptom is a stuffed nose, which I've had now for weeks, and growing loss of energy that has also been going on for weeks) and despite a number of so far unsuccessful treatments (do I need this Sabbatical or what?)who could resist getting up in the dark and riding when the temperature is 60 degrees on December 28th, which just happens to be the 2nd anniversary of this blog. (How's that for a sentence?) Annie rode the Fuji while I rode the Brompton. Not only can I keep up with her on it, I still can ride faster. It was a lovely ride. The streets were wet from overnight rain but the trail was almost empty and though there was a good headwind, it's funny how that doesn't really bother you when the temperature is 60 degrees. The forecast is for continued warmer than usual temperatures this week (though not as warm as today) and I hope to take advantage of it to tweak the mileage a bit more before the yearly total is official.

As I mentioned today is the second anniversary of this blog. While I've been a little less attentive of late, I still think it has been pretty consistent for what its worth. Thanks to all for reading and commenting.

Below is a picture from Gene's Blog, Bike Biz, from my old home of Seattle. Sixty degrees in Philadelphia, riding in the snow around Lake Washington? Something is wrong with this picture. Good luck on making your mileage goal, Gene.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Anniversary Ride

Today is Annie and my 39th wedding anniversary. It was finally a lovely day and we went out for a late morning ride. Late, in part, because we awoke to a power outage. We've had no electricity until just a few minutes ago. Basically all day. But we decided to ride anyway and then take very quick showers before heading to the movies. Then, of course, I decided to fill all the tires with air and somehow broke the pin on the valve of one of my tires. So we decided to switch to the folders: me on the Brompton and Annie on the bike Friday. Finally, we rode. Hopefully the bike shop will be open tomorrow and I will get my tire repaired. Only a few more days to ride in 2008!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Explaining The Hiatus

There's really nothing mysterious about it. Between the constant rainfall last week and this week's frigid temperatures and my late night schedule, I just haven't been able to get out much. When I do, I have rarely had a minute to blog about it. So, in fact i did ride twice last week and managed to update the mileage count, but that was about it. Today temperatures and wind were extreme and anyway we drove home late from Hanukkah in New Jersey and I didn't even try to ride. Tomorrow's weather is no more promising, but by Wednesday there is hope. If I can get a ride in 2 or 3 times a week through the winter my fitness shouldn't suffer too badly and I'll be satisfied.

Meanwhile, for your holiday entertainment I offer this video:

UPS Delivery By Bike! Salem, Oregon from nwduffer on Vimeo.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A few Pedal Strokes

Is about all I managed today. Wednesday I left to early for NY (and it was pouring), Thursday I was exhausted from the trip (and it was pouring)and today it was just pouring. I hear Kelly Drive was covered over with water. Good thing I didn't try it. But there has been a respite in the rain today (though more is coming) so I was at least able to get on the Brompton and ride to an appointment. Not much on the mileage chart, but it felt good to pedal. Hopefully Sunday will bring relief.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ten Degrees Makes A Difference

Actually 8. From yesterday's 21 degrees to today's 29 degrees and reduced wind; it felt like a summer ride. Well, not exactly, but still much more pleasant. Beautiful sunrises both days. And decent enough whether to take the Brompton with me today for meetings and errands, so I'll enter the mileage later tonight. Tomorrow I have to be in New York very early and will not be on the bike. The rest of the week they're calling for rain, so we'll see.

Monday, December 08, 2008

About As Cold As It Gets

Not really. It gets colder than 21 degrees with a 10-15 mile wind but I've decided that this is as cold as I'm going to get. Not like last year going out in 5 degree weather. Anyway, I rode solo on account of the cold and it was an enjoyable enough ride, but a lot of work against the wind.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Frigid But Fine

Friday I couldn't ride. Thursday night's poetry reading wiped me out, emptied me, actually. But today we were up and out at 7 AM with the temperature at 34 and the wind chill probably around 25 degrees. Invigorating! Really! It was a great ride and I was a little sorry that we didn't get up at our regular time and get two loops in. But we were out a bit late at the Orchestra, so there are always trade-offs. A good ride and a good day.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Yesterday and Today

I slept in a bit this morning and then went for a single loop, augmented mileage wise slightly by various detours like the garbage train on the tracks and Fire Department activity on Pine Street coming home. The activity on Pine Street looked like this:

Yesterday Annie and I both road. Temperature on both days was around 32 but today's bright sunshine felt good.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Touch Of Spring

Well, relatively speaking anyway. After an unusually cold November December came in like a lamb today. We rode out at 5:45 AM in 50 degree temperature with occasional wind gust, but otherwise calm and slightly overcast conditions. It was a lovely ride. Amazing the difference those say 15 degrees make. As the day wore on the sun was more prevalent but so was the wind. I took the Brompton to get around town thus adding a bit to the first day of December's mileage. We plant to ride in the morning tomorrow but it will be more chilly and very much more windy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Ride To Be Thankful For

Thirty-eight degrees, light wind, overcast and West River Drive CLOSED! Mindful that I have many things to be thankful for I started out this morning at 6:30 planning to do a single loop and get some work done at home before heading up to NJ for the festivities. But as I came off the Falls Bridge and saw that the Drive was closed to cars and therefore open to cyclists my heart soared (of, a bit of an exaggeration.)It was such a pleasure to ride on the road rather than the trail and at that there was almost no one out either way. I was a bit cold after the first loop but had the time and the inclination to push myself. So I did a second loop and still have time to get ready before I have to leave. Amazing how much work 20 miles felt like. I"m not sure if it's just the more difficult riding in the cold or I really am in bad shape.

Anyway, for those of you who never thought the day would come, this sign on Lombard Street says it all...the day is coming and it's going to last at least two years. There will be some inconveniences for those of us who use the bridge regularly, but when the new bridge is up, with its dedicated bike lane and pedestrian amenities, connection to the trail, and cool design elements in general, life should be much improved in the hood.

Finally, for anyone who cares, today"s ride pushed me over the 4500 mile mark, my goal for the year. December mileage is gravy. Also of some note, this blog has gone over 15000 hits. Thank you all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Finally Riding Again

This is a photo taken last Friday. It represents just one of the reasons i haven't been riding much. More to the point has been the pace of my schedule, getting to bed late and having a really hard time getting up early enough to ride, especially when I need so much extra time to dress and undress and when the weather and the wind takes a bite out of my average speed. but excuses aside, I rode this morning. 38 degrees, light wind, very sunny, although the sun disappeared soon after I got home. it was a wonderful ride and if I wasn't so busy even today (remember when I had liesurely days off?) I would have gone around twice.

It was an interesting ride in that going out I felt like I was flying and therefore felt pretty smug that I hadn't lost any fitness with a week's lay-off. However, uncharacteristically the wind was in my face on the ride back in toward town and my speed dropped markedly. I had to work much harder and definitely did feel the lay off.

Meanwhile, getting around the Art Museum was a bit of a trick since they were very much in the process of setting up for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day parade. I plan to ride in the morning before heading to my daughter's house for the holiday, but will have to modify my route to miss the parade.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Struggle

Although the temperature was 28 degrees when I went out solo this morning for a ride, I was dressed sufficiently not to feel cold. Even my hands were ok now that I'm using two pairs of gloves. Granted my foot was pretty cold by the end despite two pairs of socks and an artificial warmer. I had thoughts about doing a double loop since today is my day off and although I have to be at work all day, I didn't have to be in quite as early and could have done it. The cold wouldn't have stopped me, but the struggle did. The wind was constant and, I guess, despite not feeling particularly cold, I'd forgotten how much harder it is to get the muscles working through all the layers. I was exhausted riding a single loop and never really got going very fast. But the exercise was good and I'm glad I went. Tomorrow's weather is less promising so I didn't want to miss today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It was down to 34 degrees for our ride this morning. Invigorating! Then I took the Brompton to ride to some meetings today adding a few much needed miles to my total. On the way home this afternoon I found myself riding through the first snow flurry of the season. Always pretty, always exciting. Hopefully it doesn't snow much harder for awhile or even for the entire winter!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Still Riding...Blogging Not So Much

My schedule remains crazy. We are still managing to ride most mornings, yesterday was beautiful today was hard-core at 38 degrees with a good wind. But we enjoyed it. But time to say more? Not today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ordinary Ride In The Mist

Annie was finally able to join me and we had a very nice ordinary ride in the warm (55 degrees) mist.

Bike Racks in the news today. The first new bike rack has been installed on South Broad Street by the Bicycle Coalition office as seen below

And the very cool design pictured below won the New York city bike rack competition.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

After Another Hiatus

Last week was a tough week for cycling and blogging. After Wednesday's regular ride and full work day, Thursday through today were taken up with family. All of my kids were here for a good friend's wedding Saturday night and a small reception for our own newlyweds on Sunday for friends and family on the east coast. Hectic and wonderful, but no time for riding. By the time I reached this Wednesday I couldn't bear the thought of getting dressed and going out for a ride. I spent the day mostly reading quietly alone. But the terrible rain held off this morning until after I had a chance to get back on the bike and I had a lovely morning ride. According to the forecast this storm will move out tonight and I should be able to ride again tomorrow. That will feel nice. As far as anything else going on in the cycling world, I'm totally out of the loop. So check out the real cycling news sites and don't depend on me. It's going to take me awhile to catch up.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Last Hurrah

I guess, as the week ends, we will have to deal with the passing of these last two special weeks. So here is my final photo from the Philles parade and while the glow of both the World Series and the election linger, life returns to its normal routine and our hopes and expectations turn to the future. Our hopes are with the President-elect and, as always, our hopes lie with the possibility of a return to the World Series of the Phillies next year.

This morning the temperature was 60 degrees and while the air still felt wet and the roads were, it was a lovely solo ride to end the week.

The Glow Remains Beneath Rain, Wind And Leaves

Another lovely ride in 60 degree temperature, but this one through a mist of wet with occasional drizzle and one downpour. the strong winds along the river also slowed me down. The trail is carpeted by wet leaves in places,which also caused me to use caution. But the glow from the election remains in the air, in people's conversations and in the media coverage of the impending transition as this cyclist reminds us.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

An Historic Ride

Well, actually it was only our regular morning loop, but it felt historic because everything feels historic today! What an inspiring and wonderful day to be an American. The election of Barak Obama now raises great expectations that will inevitably be disappointed. But the very fact of his election, the fact that Americans chose substance over mean-spiritedness only adds to the extraordinary fact of this act of redemption for the original stain on the body of the nation's psyche, the treatment of African Americans. The fact that we can also expect a sympathetic hearing for bicycling is icing on the cake. I wish the President-elect a smooth ride with the wind at his back.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ride To Vote...And Wait

As we do every year, Annie and I ended our ride by stopping at our polling place and voting. Usually we are number 1 & 2. Today the line went around the block! Good on you America! And most of the people on the line were young people, which augurs well for Obama. Anyway, it turned out that the line was then split between two wards and our ward (an older contingent I'd guess) was not as long this early. We ended up being numbers 29 & 30 and the wait did not set back my schedule very much. If you are reading this early: Go Out And Vote (for Obama...please.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Let There Be Light...Again

The time has finally come when those end-of-day light hogs gave some back to us early risers. Annie and I left the house at our usual time around 5:45 and the sky was already getting lighter. By the time we reached the trail it was significantly lighter and we wee in full sunshine for most of our lovely loop in 45 degree weather. It doesn't get better than this, except if we could have done our usual Sunday double loop, but we are off to NY early this morning to attend the unveiling of my Mother's headstone. The end of the formal period of mourning has arrived.
And then there was one of those exasperating dog walkers walking his dog without a leash. The dog was all over the trail and there would have been no way to maneuver around him/her so we had to stop and have a few polite words with the owner about caring enough about his pet to protect him. But people like this depend on the good sense of others to protect them from their own stupidity so of course he was belligerent toward us. I just don't get people even after all these years. We were both seething for a few minutes, but didn't let it ruin a really nice ride.

Friday, October 31, 2008

SPECIAL: Phillies Victory Parade

Ok, so this is completely off topic, but, hey, this is from Philadelphia, ground zero and home of the Champions of the Baseball World! Well, not entirely off topic because guess who lead out the parade? The bicycle police. Pretty neat.

Annie and I went to the parade today. We were lucky enough to be invited to view it from one of our friends' offices at 16th and Market right near the beginning of the route. The sea of people that we had to get through in order to get to the building entrance almost foiled our plan, but after a fair amount of perseverance we pushed our way through. From the fifth floor we had a great view of the entire scene. But the pictures to follow really don't do it justice. It must have been like this on V-E Day. The entire city was in party mode. After leaving the Parade route and wandering back to my office every street was filled with happy people dressed in Phillie regalia. There were horns honking and fans cheering all the way back to Rittenhouse square which was packed with people. And beyond, as I came near my house there were even morepeople. The weather is perfect, better than for any of the games, go figure. Anyway, here are some of my pictures and captions.

Truth is, it waqsn't easy from my vantage point to make out any faces on the floats. But Harry Kallas was unmistakable.

Of course, where would we be without the Phanatic?

These next two shots give you some idea of the crowd; one aerial view and one from ground level as we worked our way into the PNC building


And there's the World Series trophy on display!

Finaly, the mass of humanity following behind and heading from Market on to Broad and all the way to Citizens Bank Park...without me!

My thanks to Cathy for inviting Annie and I and to Betsy for making us lunch. Let's do it again next year!! Why can't us?

Back To Routine

Not that it still wasn't a little tough to get out of bed this morning. These cold dark mornings are tough. But we managed it and had our first ride together in a long time, and a lovely ride it was. The temperature was 33 degrees, but without a wind and properly dressed it wasn't bad. Even my hands weren't too cold (and thanks for comments with some good suggestions regarding hand protection) so I guess the wind really impacts that as well. After the weekend we will be back on standard time so it will be a bit lighter for awhile. That will be nice.
Meanwhile October has come to an inglorious (cycling-wise) end. Between the holidays and the Phillies my mileage total is way down. I don't think I'm going to have trouble meeting my goal for the year, but I sure didn't take advantage of a good riding month. The total for this month was 283.7.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


After about ten days hiatus, probably the longest in three years, I was able to get out for a lovely ride this morning. Thankfully, not only did the Phillies win the World Series, but they did it early enough in the evening for me to get to bed early enough to get up and ride. Since the play-offs and World Series began I have been unable to watch every game and ride. So, between not riding and munching through the 7th inning stretch, I have a few extra pounds to get rid of, but it was all worth it. The series was stupendous. It was plain old fun baseball, complicated by the inevitable Philadelphia weirdness, playing through a monsoon and then having the first suspended game in series history. And the city is electric with excitement and pride as we await tomorrow's parade. While not on a bike, it has indeed been a great ride.

So off I went this morning wearing my improvised Phillies helmet. It was 37 degrees and I was in full winter kit. But except for my hands, for which I have found no glove sufficient, I was not cold. There was little wind, which was also a help. I rode a single loop but a little slower than usual. The cold always does that, plus my muscles had definitely lost a bit of fitness. I hope to be back on regular riding schedule again from now on.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colder and Darker

A beautiful Sunday ride with the bonus that both Kelly Drive and West River Drive were closed to cars. It was definitely colder than it has been and a bit darker, but we managed a double loop and loved it. After work this morning I came home and took all the bikes out to lube the chains and clean them down. The Brompton has a noise coming from the internal hub that will require taking it up to Trophy bikes hopefully tomorrow.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First Full Foliage Ride

The weather was perfect again and Annie and I did a double loop. The highlight of today's ride was the colors. All of a sudden, it seems, the leaves were changing. From a distance, across the river, the trees are gorgeously multi-colored, whole some particular trees, on closer look, a truly spectacular. I thought about stopping to take a few pictures, but I was having just too much fun riding.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Indian Summer

After last week's almost winter ride, this morning I rode in regular summer regalia. Felt good. Gorgeous post-holiday ride. I woke up a bit late and rode in the daylight, which is also always nice. Didn't have quite enough time for a double loop, but managed one and a half.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Almost Like Winter

Annie and I rode this morning our regular loop. The temperature when we left was 43 degrees and I'm sure the wind chill at certain spots was much lower. We were not quite dressed in full winter gear, but each day we seem to add another component. Today I moved up to winter socks, long gloves and double fleece on top. But it was a fine morning with bright sunshine (on the way home. It is pitch dark for most of the ride.)

Below is a picture from the Brompton World Championships that I took from Bicycle Diaries. They are by John Spooner and they are great. Check them out.

Visit John Spooner's flickr page

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Double Loop

I finally caught up on some sleep from Friday through yesterday and rode well this morning. The weather was brisk but not as cold as we expected and we managed a double loop. We were out so early that West River Drive had not yet been closed to traffic so we had to ride the regular trail the first time around. The second time around the gates were up and we were able to ride in the road. Much more enjoyable.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Late Friday Ride

I finally took a much needed day off. Slept late and puttered around the house. Worked on some poems and read. thought about taking a long ride, but also thought better of it. Anyway, Annie was busy this morning and wanted to take an afternoon ride that would be too late to make it very long. so we did our usual loop at around 3 PM. Traffic on the trail wasn't bad. The wind was pretty strong so it was a good work-out.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


October is suddenly upon us and it is just as suddenly cold. After not being on the bike for two days I rode a single loop this morning and it felt pretty good, despite the dropping temperatures. I still am able to manage with my half-gloves and just longer pants and a fleece shirt. But it will be time to really bundle up pretty soon. I did encounter the garbage train in both directions which extended my ride, made me a few minutes late for work, but gave me an extra mile of riding. Speaking of which, my September mileage is now official at 328.2. Not very impressive, but it has been a strange month in many ways. Basically the difference is that I didn't have time or energy for even one really long ride. Without that my daily mileage will only get me to around this point. October promises to be very busy also and all the holidays fall on Wednesday which is usually my long ride day. Maybe I can eke out a little more. Meanwhile my cumulative mileage stands at 4031.2 and I'm pretty confident of hitting the 4500 I set as my goal. I'm glad I wasn't tempted to set a higher goal just because my actual total was much higher last year. Anyway, I managed 14.3 on the Fuji and another 1/2 mile in the neighborhood on the Brompton for today.
Speaking of the Brompton, the article below appeared in the N.Y. Times. Enjoy!

Biking on a Brompton: One Reporter’s View
By James Kanter

It’s funny how falling in love can change our perception of beauty.

I used to think the protruding seat post and humpbacked tube characteristic of the Brompton, a brand of folding bicycle, were supremely ugly. Now I can spend inordinate amounts of time contemplating the genius of its design.

Brompton, a British brand, makes one-size-fits-all folding bikes. Once you have the knack, a rider can tuck in the back wheel, fold the midsection, flip down the handlebars and left pedal, and lower the seat – all in about 20 seconds.

Suddenly I’ve started to notice people on folding bikes everywhere in Brussels. We trade knowing smiles when our paths cross. When we meet, we talk in self-congratulatory tones about how we lead more convenient and environmentally sound lives without having to deal with the hassle of bike thieves. We also are quick to remind any skeptics that folding bikes still go pretty fast for an item with such small wheels.

The world produced an estimated 130 million bicycles in 2007, more than twice the 52 million cars produced, and bicycle production has been increasing in each of the last six years, according to the Earth Policy Institute.

So does that mean there’s a bike boom underway, driven by a passion for greenery? Not necessarily.

Much of that recent growth has been driven by the rise in electric, or e-bike, production, which has doubled since 2004, the Earth Policy Institute reports. Some of these electric models need to be pedaled to start, before an engine kicks in, but they are essentially motor-driven.

Indeed, pure pedal power isn’t practical for everyone, and it seems unlikely to take hold everywhere.
BromptonBetter living through technology. (Photo: Brompton)

In some hot climates, the physical exertion required of even a short cycle ride makes riding to work very hard work. In these places, for white-collar jobs at least, there would need to be showers and lockers at the office. As for very cold climates, it’s elementary that bikes don’t work so well on ice or in snow.

Besides, in many developing countries, where cars and motorbikes are a sign of social and economic advancement, riding bicycles – let alone riding an expensive folding model – just isn’t cool. Instead, it could be taken as a sign that you’re down on your luck.

I paid 846 euros for my Brompton, which seems pretty steep. And while I have to admit that it’s one of the best buys I’ve ever made, commuting to work in supposedly bike-friendly northern Europe isn’t quite as easy as you might think.

The weather can be appallingly damp. And unlike next door in towns in the Netherlands, Brussels does not appear to have what I would call a fully integrated system of reliably safe and dedicated bicycling routes. The lanes I use need repainting and many of them need repairs. Other lanes just peter out, and I have to improvise.

In Brussels, cyclists also have to dodge drivers who compulsively race yellow lights and display poor lane discipline. And for riders of bikes with small wheels (and that includes most folding models) some of the cobblestone streets in Brussels are impassable.

Still, it all becomes worth it in moments like this one: I put my folding bike through the X-ray machine at the European Parliament the other day, and then marched it into a formal lunch with a French government minister. It was so small that neither the security guards nor the dining room attendants batted an eyelid.

As for hauling around a chunky U-lock, those days appear over.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Round-up

It looks like I'm lucky to post once a week during this very busy season. I'm sorry I haven't been able to keep up with the end of the Vuelta (go Contador and Levi)or with the Worlds going on now, or with the continuing controversy around Lance's return or with the developing armistice between the UCI and ASO. Hopefully many other sites listed on my page will help those interested. I have barely been able to ride. In fact on Wednesday I was so tired I didn't do my morning ride, let alone a typical Wednesday long ride. But I had a wonderful Thursday loop and another this morning despite the predictions of heavy rain which didn't materialize. Weather permitting I'll get a few more miles in on Sunday and then not again until Wednesday after the first days of Holiday. It's going to be close as to whether I even make my 375 monthly minimum in mileage.

Finally, feel free to check out two new books of my poems, available through and listed in the sidebar under recommended books and movies.

Friday, September 19, 2008


This is height of my busiest season so I have not been blogging much nor riding any long rides. On Wednesday Annie was home which was a nice change so we were able to go out a bit later in the morning but only rode a single loop because both of us had many things to do. I rode again yesterday and today along with a few Brompton miles around town. Today's ride was truly chilly for the first time and we had to switch to slightly heavier clothing. The weather, however, continues to be great for riding.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Viva Alberto; Go Vandevelde

The tour of Missouri is concluded and the Vuelta de'Espana continues. Christian Vandevelde is the winner of the former and Alberto Contador solidified is lead in the latter. Absent the Lance factor, these two could be going head to head in next year's Tour de France. These are two of my favorite riders (Levi is in second in the Vuelta; I'd most love to see him win, but he is doing his job for the team and holding second is no little accomplishment.) It will be exciting to see all of these guys have to contend with Lance next year, and the extra media coverage he brings should make it easier as well as giving cycling a higher profile in the USA. This will help Vandevelde and Levi as well.

Regular loop this morning. Hot and humid but a very nice ride.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I arrived at Eakins Oval a few minutes after 6 AM to help out with registration for today's BikePhilly ride. Above are two pictures of the predawn mobilization and some of the early registrants who started showing up just as the sun began to rise. Unfortunately, though I got there as early as I could, all the chairs were filled and there didn't seem to be much for me to do. I hung around for over an hour, occasionally getting something for somebody, but eventually decided to give it up and left for the line up area pictured below.

The ride out was scary, what with thousands of cyclists slowly, very slowly trying to get going. I met up with Steve Masters and Mindy and a few other Mount Airy folks and rode with some of them at different times throughout the day. That was good because not having Annie home this weekend to ride with was tough. The first 100 yards or so I was walking my bike with one leg, As we turned on to the Parkway things got a little better, but were still pretty cramped through most of the in-town street riding. When we looped back to the Parkway and took off into Fairmont Park things were much better. I'm not sure when we came to what was the third rest stop along the way, pictured below, but it was far enough that we stopped at this one and took a little break.

That's Mindy and her friend Steve below at the rest stop and below that Chaim and Pearl, two students of mine, also at the rest stop.

After the rest we finished what was left of the twenty mile ride. I decided not to do the 35 mile ride for various reasons. I have a busy afternoon, it was unexpectedly hot and humid and my feet swell and hurt in the humidity, but most of all I think, I didn't want to do it alone. So we continued to the finish line celebration where there were some good eats and treats as pictured.

Never did connect with Denine, but saw quite a few people from our community including Alan Sandals, Jason Roe, Deborah Kahn, Laurie Segal and her kids.

All in all a great day, kudos to the Bicycle Coalition and all the volunteers. A fitting end to the "official" biking season.

When it was over I felt like I needed to get in just a few extra miles and so I rode another loop around the river drives bringing my total for the day to 33 miles. It shouldn't be a total loss.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tomorrow is BikePhilly

A rare Saturday night post. No riding today, though I did a nice ride yesterday but didn't have time to write. And since I came across this article tonight I thought I'd share it. Thought about riding the Brompton tomorrow, but I think I'll stick with the Fuji.

With thanks to ecovelo for bringing this to our attention, a great piece on the pleasures of Brompton. Read on: from the Independent by Will Self (pictured below)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ready For Bike Philly!

I rode about 22 miles yesterday morning ending up at the bicycle coalition offices (where bike parking is not easy, I might add) and picked up my registration packet for Sunday. While there I volunteered to help out with registration on Sunday morning starting at 6 AM. After that we get to join on the back of the ride. I haven't decided how far I'll ride beyond the ten miles of closed streets yet. It will depend on my mood on the day of.

I rode another 22 miles today. 14 in my morning ride and another 7 throughout the day. Last night I received my new saddle from ISM pictured below:

It is not as radical a design as the last saddle and after one ride at least it felt very comfortable.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Yes, come January I will be taking a Sabbatical from my pulpit in order to finish my next book project. During that time I will continue living in my house in Philadelphia and devoting my mornings to writing. But what about my afternoons? I've never been able to write more than 4-5 hours a day and generally in the morning. So I had this idea which now looks to be a reality. I will be an unpaid intern at Bicycle Therapy, my local bike shop, learning to be a bicycle mechanic (wrench)! Is that cool or what? Of course I will blog through my exploits, difficulties and achievements.

Meanwhile, Annie went out this morning for the first time in a week. It was good to have her back on the bike and out on our morning ride. She was a bit nervous (read: terrified) and it didn't help when I cut in front of her as we were returning home. But aside from that she had a good ride.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

After The Storm

The morning was beautiful. I could not ride on Friday, too tired, stayed up too late. Today I needed to be at a conference in the Suburbs by 9 AM so I needed to ride at the regular time. Annie is still not riding, she is still pretty sore from last week's crash. So I rode myself almost managing two loops, just a bit shy. Enjoyed it very much. Now, after the conference appearance, I'm back in the office with a full day of preparing for various events, classes and holidays ahead of me.

I guess the official end to the riding season is at hand, embodied in next Sunday's Bike Philly. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Back But Way Too Busy

To blog much. It's going to be this way for awhile. I'll try to find a few minutes when there is something interesting to note (how 'bout Levi wearing gold at the Vuelta!)Meanwhile, my five day hiatus from the bike seems to have done my legs good. I rode a loop yesterday and more than a loop this morning and I'm feeling good. Unfortunately, in my absence Annie had a crash on the trail and is sore and bruised. We're hoping she will be back on the bike tomorrow, but if she is it will be on the Tiket since her Fuji is in the shop due to the crash. That means I will probably be on the Brompton.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Off To Seattle

And after giving it lots of thought I decided not to take my Brompton with me. I will be attending a conference at Seattle University and returning home on Tuesday. I don't anticipate much time to ride and, you know what, a break wouldn't be such a bad idea.
That means that my August monthly totals are now final. I managed to get soundly over the 500 mile mark for the month, so I can't complain.

But I can join everyone in complaining about this sight, a sight that I see almost everyday and someone on the Philadelphia Bike blog recorded (not for the first time.) If the cops can't stay out of the bike lane, why should anyone else?

Have a safe Labor Day weekend. Last year at this time Annie and I were packing up for the Hazon ride in New York, our first major cycling goal. It would've been nice to do it again, but I couldn't miss this conference of the North American Levinas society.

Low Energy Ride

I'm not sure the reason, but I had almost no energy for a ride today. It might have been because I've stayed up too late watching the Democratic National Convention, the Phillies, or whatever. I started out today about 9AM and headed toward Valley Forge. I knew I wouldn't make it so I split off at the Cross-County Trail and went toward Plymouth Meeting and then returned, really worrying for the first time ever if I would make it. I did. Just over 33 miles. Stopped at the Schuylkill Banks Park to rest before finishing up the ride and snapped this picture of the Cirus Center, just because it was there and pretty imposing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Folding Competition In Next Olympics?

Multiple cycling gold medal winner Chris Hoy may be tipping us off as to his next category to go for the gold when the Olympics move to London in 20012: Folding Bikes! Or perhaps a special event for Bromptons only. Here he is seen riding the Brompton at the closing exercises of the Beijing Olympiad. (Props to Fritz at Cycleicious)

Olympics - Closing Ceremony

The miracle August continues. We rode in long sleeves and with lights again this morning. A brisk and beautiful ride. Then I had a meeting conveniently at a coffee shop in East Falls, just off the end of the Kelly Drive section of the trail. so I rode the Brompton and arrived a few minutes early. Took advantage of the time, the place and the weather to pull out a book and sit on a bench along the river for ten minutes or so. Here is a shot of the river behind the Brompton and another of the view unimpeded by human artifacts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Friends And Neighbors Tour

That's what it felt like this morning, another remarkably lovely August morning. We were out of the house at 7 AM in order to beat the crowds on the Drives this morning. Thankfully there were no events and we did our first two loops in record time, both Annie and I averaging 15-16 mph. We slowed the pace a bit for our third loop. Annie was getting a little tired and the number of trail users was growing. The rest of the world was waking up and it soon seemed like we were meeting friends and neighbors left and right, ahead and behind. In no particular order there was: Derek, Mr. Korb, Jake, Miki, Denine, and I presume Sue. Plus all of the nameless regulars we say hello to almost every morning. It was a very pleasant 29 mile ride. Then I went to work with the Brompton and managed to go over the thirty mark, so far, today.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another Gorgeous August Day

Some time this year we are going to pay for this weather...but in the meantime how can you not love it! I rode more than my regular loops this morning. Annie wasn't with me and I manged to get out a bot earlier and do a 17 mile ride. then I tok my Brompton and rode into Manayunk for lunch. Why not combine lunch with another lovely ride on the trail? Si I added another 15 miles before day's end. Other than that not much to report but I thought I'd share this really strange video. I'm sorry that I don't remember whose blog I pilfered it from:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two Rides

That was the plan, anyway. I had an appointment to ride with a friend, a recent acquaintance really, a fellow Rabbi. but he couldn't ride until 2 PM and I usually like to ride earlier in the day. today being spectacularly gorgeous I was especially anxious to get out. So I planned to ride in the morning, stop somewhere for lunch and eventually meet up. I did get in a little more sleep than usual and was on the road at 10 AM with the idea of riding slowly and getting at least as far as Conshohocken. I wanted to take some pictures of the devastating fire that occurred at the apartment complex along the Schuylkill just off the trail. That is what I did.

These two shots give you a pretty good idea of the damage that this 8 alarm blaze caused. I would imagine that these buildings are beyond repair and will have to come down before anything new can replace them, but I'm no expert.

This next shot shows how close the edge of the complex is to the construction project next door where the fire was begun by a worker's torch.

After taking the photos I turned back and went to the Manayunk dinner for lunch and then rode back into town ending up in front of the Art Museum, our meeting place. Though I had checked my email at lunch and my timing for the day was very good, I did have a few minutes before 2 PM so I checked it again. Not surprisingly there was an email saying that my friend had to cancel because of work. Rabbis are notorious for this since so many things can come up at the last minute. I really wasn't disturbed. I hadn't been much in the mood to keep riding out to
Valley Forge or someplace like that. The ride to Conshohocken had been fine, the lunch had been fine; I just decided to ride another loop around the drives and head home. Which is what I did and then lubed the chains on my bike and Annie's.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Out Of The Darkness Into The Darkness

A bit melodramatic, I admit, but that describes the morning precisely. Our electric power went out at about 5:30 this morning just as we were getting dressed to ride. After a quick phone call to report the outage (having found the strategically well placed flashlights that we keep on every floor of the house) we went for our ride. It was the first morning this season that we had to use our lights at the beginning of the ride. Actually, we needed them for a good part of the ride. Just after crossing the Falls bridge we were able to turn them off and within minutes we were wearing our sunglasses. But the natural evidence of summer's coming to an end is irrefutable. Sigh. Despite the summer crowds on the path, I'm still not looking forward to putting on all of the winter clothes to ride and still feeling cold. Oh well, there are still many weeks until that happens, but the process is in motion.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Late Loop

Annie and I needed a little extra sleep this morning more tired out from the granddaughter than from the ride. So I took the Brompton to do errands but it turned out that I didn't have many errands to do and by the end of the day I was feeling a little grumpy from not riding. So after work I took the Brompton on the trail and did a late day loop. Thankfully the trail was not too crowded. But I wanted to ride slow in any case. I didn't feel at full strength and had just finished reading about and then joining the Slow Bicycle Movement. I can't say I fully understand this movement but you can read about it here at their blog or look it up on Facebook. The gist of it is to take back bicycling from the sport enthusiasts and racers in favor of slow pedaling to get from one place to another while appreciating the journey, even if it is to and from work. Frankly, I don't know why every type of cyclist can't be appreciated and the class distinctions within the cycling world be done away with. Anyway, we are all part sport riders, part touring riders, part commuters, and part endurance riders. The slow riders do have a nice logo, though:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Perfect (Almost) Day

The almost is for Annie, about which I will write in a moment. First, the perfection. We left our house at 5:45 this morning, Annie, I, Alan (son-in-law) and Jake (friend.) The temperature was a perfect 60 degrees and never reached above 88 all day. No humidity either. Remember last year? The last thirty miles in pouring rain? Not this time, by a long shot. We couldn't have dialed-up a more perfect day for a ride in the country. After arriving in Lancaster about 7:20, we got our bikes ready, our gear straight, registered and we were off. The first 20 miles were wonderful. There were very few cars on the roads, plenty of sunshine and a warming sun to take the near-chill off the morning. We arrived at the first water stop in great spirits. Here are Alan and Jake at that moment:

Unfortunately, just as we were leaving the water stop, Annie mounted her bike on some uneven ground, lost her footing and balance and went down. Another scrapped up knee. The same knee, of course, that has been scraped-up the last three times. We washed it off and put on a few band-aids and with no loss of good spirit carried on. We rode past farmland like this:

But the hills were beginning to get to Annie, and there were plenty of them. Finally, with only 3 or 4 miles to go before lunch, after having put in a great ride of 30 miles, she couldn't go on and the sag wagon came by at just that moment and she hitched a ride to lunch. I continued on alone and when I got to the final hill before the lunch spot I was very glad she wasn't riding. It was a killer, a good mile of very steep climbing. People were getting off and walking all over the place. I must say I made it (as did most folks, to be honest) but it was a rough end to the morning. We had a great lunch and re-grouped. Here we are just before setting out. Notice the new "do." Yes, I like it so much I've changed the template photo above for now.

Anyway, Annie felt fine and wanted to get back on the bike.
So we set out for the second half of the ride, again in good spirits. We crossed some six covered bridges during the ride, hence the name "Covered Bridge Metric Century." Here is one:

Unfortunately, Annie pooped out again after reaching around the 50 mile mark which made about 45 miles of tough climbing for her. She called for the wagon and I went on. She felt bad, but I didn't mind, as long as she was ok, and actually enjoyed going at my own pace through what were some of the prettiest scenes of the day. And yes, there were some more big hills, though not as steep as earlier in the day. More like a pretty steady climb much of the way.

On account of having to stop with Annie a few times and having to wait for the sag wagon, I rolled into the finish pretty late. but not before the cut-off and not the last to arrive. I went straight for the ice cream, which tasted really good, and then we loaded the cars for the trip home. Tamar and Shail were waiting for us and I charged up the bar-b-que for some steaks. A perfect ending to a perfect day. And then they all left. That wasn't too bad either.
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