Monday, March 31, 2008

March Mileage Totals

I'm really pressed for time today as far as writing goes. But I did a regular loop this morning and ended the month of March with 448.2 miles. Given the paucity of miles in both January and February this goes a long way to putting me back on track to hit 4500 miles in 2008, but I'm still not all the way back on track. More soon (riding and writing.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cherry Blossoms!

The Cherry Blossoms are out! What could be bad? Despite predictions of rain this morning it was dry and 45 degrees. Today I can say that there was really the feel of Spring in the air though another 10 degrees warmer would be nice. But the signs of Spring abound! The Cherry blossoms, of course, but the portable potties, too. Yes, as surely as the birds fly south in the winter the potties all along the trail were removed. One lone john remained in a parking lot on the West Side Drive. But this week the potties returned in a flock and today they were "unflocked" and spread along the length of the path. Spring and easy access to relief have arrived. The forecast is for rain throughout the day, but it sure doesn't look it, so I have my bike with me to do hospital visits and will record my mileage later.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Garbage Train

Here is a picture of the garbage train blocking the Locust Street entrance to the trail this morning. Strangely, the train had been blocking the Race Street entrance earlier so I had no trouble getting on the trail. Then the train apparently moved just enough to open the Race Street entrance but close the Locust Street entrance. Who knows? Anyway, I went up the Chestnut Street ramp and rode on Chestnut to 17th and home. I always enjoy a little street riding in the morning and added a few tenths of a mile to boot.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

First Valley Forge Ride of 2008

My bike (and me) resting at VF after windy & therefore slower than anticipated ride. It was a first fine Spring day. Temperature around 60 degrees with more of a wind than I bargained for. Still, really enjoyed the 46.8 mile ride.

Noticed something nerw along the trail: location markers containing a number to give the police if you have a problem and call them so that they know where you are, as well as accurate mileage to various points along the trail Pretty neat.

Monday, March 24, 2008

No News Is Good News

Nothing much to report. A good ride but we are bith tired from a whirlwind weekend of family celebration. Spring seems to be in the air after 9 AM. At 6 AM it ks still winter. The trash train blocked the tracks this morning so we eked out a few extra tenths of a mile.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

If This Were January

If this were January, it would have been a magnificent morning. The sun out brightly, the temperature 31 degrees with wind chills in the mid-twenties. A perfect day for a winter's ride. But this is the end of March and Spring is supposed to have arrived. Well, it was a beautiful ride anyway, but I'm getting a little tired of the cold. there were good sized buds on the Cherry trees and I know it is only a matter of weeks until the warm weather arrives. Being this close almost makes it harder to bear waiting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Winds Of Spring

Despite the official arrival of Spring, the temperature was 35 degrees, which wouldn't have been so bad, but the wind was really strong and gusting even stronger. My 13.3 mile loop was a lot of work this morning.No time for random musing today: big weekend, lots of family coming in. More next week.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Not much to write about today. The skies have cleared and I rode my 13.3 mile loop. The wind has picked up as predicted but really wasn't bad in the early morning when I went out.

Thanks to those of you taking the quiz in the sidebar; I hope more of you will in the coming days.

Finally, via The Fredcast website I learned about velog It allows you to keep a running log of your rides, comment on them and have others add their comments, graph your progress and join other cyclists in various groups like The Fredcast group and the Bicycle Commuters group, both of which I joined. It is a kind of social networking group just for cyclists. Click here to be directed to an invitation to join my list of friends at velog! Join me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Suckered Into The Rain

I slept past the heavy morning rains today (I really needed the sleep!) and when I left the house at @11:30 it was 48 degrees, cloudy but not raining. By the time I was on my second time around the loop not only was it not raining but the sky seemed to be threatening to let the sun burn through and I was feeling great. So instead of just going back down the west side of the loop I continued on into Manayunk and stopped at the Starbuck's there to pick up some ground coffee to bring home and debate whether to go further out on the path or turn back. By the time I finished the free cup of coffee that comes with buying a pound the rain was just beginning so I turned toward home. Minutes latter the sky opened up and I rode the 10 miles back in a pretty good downpour. Didn't bother me at all. A nice ride of 26 miles.

Hey! If you're really out there how about taking my poll. Not only am I interested in what people think, I'm interested in knowing whether anyone is out there and this is a pretty easy and anonymous way for you to indicate your presence as opposed to leaving a comment or something.

Ok, so just about every site in the Cycling blogosphere is showing this Awareness Test and I might as well also. If you haven't seen it it really is quite fascinating:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Take The Poll

In an extended discussion of a cycling fatality in a Chicago Alley Cat Race on the Fredcast the issue of bicycles obeying traffic laws played a larger and larger role as the discussion went on. That is, how strict should cyclists be regarding obeying traffic laws? I must say that while my instinct is to obey traffic laws punctiliously, in practice I don't. In fact, I've come to believe that in urban riding notobeying the laws is safer. A cyclist runs less risk of getting killed by right-turning cars if the take off while the light is red. More importantly, if the right lane is blocked ahead, riding through the stop light allows the cyclist to safely ride in the left lane past the blockage without having to compete with left-lane vehicular traffic. On the other hand I believe riding opposite to traffic is insane and should be more strictly enforced. Similarly, I am against riding on the sidewalk, but have to admit that even there on occasion the safest route is to ride on the sidewalk. But all things considered, I'm against it. Keeping in mind that the traffic laws were made to control auto traffic, how do you feel about these laws for cyclists? Take the poll to the right.

Rode the loop and then some today for errands. 18 miles on the day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More Light, More Signs Of Spring

Annie and I were out for our usual loop this morning and it was incredible how much more light there was by 6:30 AM as compared to last week when the clocks were sprung forward. With enjoying the light for a late ride yesterday and realizing that the morning's are getting lighter despite the clock change, maybe my opinion on moving Daylight Savings time forward is changing.But it was still only 34 degrees with a 10 mph wind (at least) so that it felt like the high 20's. Yet again, the day warmed up and the sun shone and it has been a beautiful day to have my bike with me for doing errands and going to meetings. So I'll record the mileage later.

My evening got unexpectedly busy last night and I barely had time to get home for dinner and watch the new HBO Mini-series John Adams. So I missed Cyclism Sunday and the end of Paris-Nice. But I have it on DVR and will watch it later in the week. It sounds like it was a great race.

It was won by Davide Rebellin, last year's second place winner behind Alberto Contador, who was not permitted to ride in this year's edition. Unfortunately, that's the bigger story around the race than the race itself: The continuing dispute between ASO and UCI. I must say I find myself fully supporting UCI in this matter. I find the ASO decision regarding Astana to be entirely baffling. Thus, the race is tainted for me, as will the Tour be this summer. I sincerely hope that these issues will somehow be settled by then, but I doubt they will. I think the dispute will hurt cycling badly, threaten sponsorship, if nothing else. For what ever reason I believe ASO does not care about the sponsorship issue. I think they would rather see national teams like the old days and somehow de-professionalize the sport. But this is not possible nor, probably, desirable. But what do I know? I only know that the race still sounded exciting, that I wish some of the world's best cyclists had been permitted to race, and that I'll probably end up following the Tour no matter what happens. It will be interesting now to see whether the UCI makes good on its pledge to punish the teams and riders who broke ranks to ride in Paris-Nice. That will only make things more complicated.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Late Sunday Ride

It was raining when we got up so we postponed our ride in hopes of fairer weather later in the day. So, after a Purim carnival (that's the next Jewish holiday coming this Thursday night) and an afternoon spend cleaning refrigerators (that's in preparation for the holiday after, coming next month, but requiring prodigious preparations) Annie and I did a late Sunday evening ride. We went out about 5:30 and rode in sunshine mixed with overcast into a goodly wind. Had little time to write but we did get the ride in.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Almost Spring Ride

Check out this cool news video from Chicago on winter commuting; thanks to Bicycle Diaries.

Great ride this morning as the temperature climbed into the 40's. This afternoon the sun is out and it is supposed to climb to 60. I may try to get a late afternoon ride in.

I did ride this afternoon. Could have taken a longer ride along the path again, but i wanted to check out the new Performance Bikes store that just opened in south Philly. I still had a little credit left on my gift card. So I rode down to Delaware Avenue and checked out the new store. Nice place. I worry about the small retailers that cyclists really depend on all over town and I hope this does not put them out of business. But it is a nice place, plenty of stock. I wouldn't think of buying a bike from them, but they offer much more selection of clothing and other accessories; tools in particular.

The extra miles gave me 20 on the day. I am not expecting to ride again until Monday as the weather report for Sunday morning is dreadful. Rain for sure, probably snow! Just when it feels as though Spring is really coming! It will be a good day to watch the end of Paris-Nice on Versus. I haven't said much about this first big race of the European season, but I'll try to write about it on Sunday.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A View Of Falls Bridge

The Falls Bridge Before Dawn

The picture above was taken this morning on my cell phone and then automatically sent to my blog. I was really just trying this new blogger feature, but meanwhile the picture is interesting, if not great. The newly lit bridge is really a lovely sight in the morning. And you can see how much it is night again when we ride since the clock rolled ahead. It was 30 degrees this morning and I was a bit disappointed that it is still so cold, especially since it warmed up into a pretty nice day later on. But I know it will soon warm up and I can't wait.

The photo and obituary below are from this morning's NY Times. I think that Trek continues to play a huge role in cycling and is currently spearheading the movement to increase bicycle commuting so it is appropriate to mark the passing of the founder.

Richard Burke, Founder of Trek Bicycle Company, Is Dead at 73

Published: March 13, 2008

Richard Burke, a founder of the Trek Bicycle Corporation, which capitalized on the luster of Lance Armstrong’s victories in the Tour de France to reshape the way top-of-the-line bikes are manufactured, died Monday in Milwaukee. He was 73 and lived in Milwaukee. The cause was complications of heart surgery, said his son, John, who is now president of the company.

It was on an $8,500 carbon-fiber Madone model bike built by Trek that Mr. Armstrong won his first Tour de France in 1999, as well as the six straight Tour titles that followed.

“With that, Trek became the first American bike company to win the Tour and the first to build a carbon-fiber bike that won the Tour,” John Bradley, a senior editor and the cycling expert at Outside magazine, said Wednesday. “It was a watershed moment.”

Racing bikes must be as light and stiff as possible. Before they were made of carbon fiber, which has the best stiffness-to-weight ratio, the bikes were made of steel, titanium or aluminum. “Now you can’t find a high-end bike, or even a high-end bike component, that isn’t made out of carbon fiber,” Mr. Bradley said.

With his friend Bevel Hogg, Mr. Burke started the Trek company in 1976, in a barn in Waterloo, Wis. The company, now based in Milwaukee, has 1,600 employees and sells through more than 5,000 dealers in 75 countries. It makes more than 300 models, from a single-speed $140 bike for youngsters to the $8,500 Madone.

Mr. Burke was the owner of an appliance distributorship in Milwaukee before turning to making bicycles. At the time, European models dominated the market, and there were few luxury American brands. But in the mid-’70s, as American biking boomed beyond the tricycle and the single-speed Schwinn, Mr. Burke saw potential profit in the high-end bike.

That first year in the barn, the Trek company produced 805 handmade, finely detailed road bikes and earned $161,000. Last year, the company manufactured 1.5 million bikes and had revenue of $670 million.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bicycle Deaths: Too Many, Too Much?

No, no close calls for me lately, and today I took a long and fun adventure ride. More about that below. But today's "headline" refers to a profusion of stories in the bicycle blogosphere this last week or two on a tragic series of bicycle rider deaths. Here a policeman plows into a group ride (Arizona) there a policeman plows into a group ride (California), here a motorist passes a rider and swings a baseball bat (also Arizona) there a motorist passes a rider and pushes him over by hand (Utah) and today: more cycling deaths in San Francisco. I suppose it is bound to happen that as the number of cyclists increases the interactions with autos increases and the number of accidents increases until we reach that critical mass that will change the infrastructure to insure safer cycling and a level of education and consciousness that will change driver attitudes. You'd thing that as we draw closer to $4 a gallon gas prices it might begin to happen.

But I have to say, as a rider, the profusion of stories is starting to have an effect on my psyche. As I began to prepare to go out for a longer ride planned mostly on streets today, I started to get more nervous. I really wanted to ride a different route for a change and I thought it would be a good day to try to reach RRC, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical college where I teach once a week, just for fun. I will probably never be able to ride on a day that I teach because my class starts at 8:30 AM and I'd have to leave too early to get there, but even to know that for sure depends on my making the trip and ascertaining its difficulty and how long it takes.

I guess there is no choice but to report all of these tragic events just as the newspapers can't just report good news despite some agitation that they should, but some days I choose not to read the newspaper simply because I don't want to hear it that day. I hope I will not have to skip a day or so of checking my favorite bike blogs for the same reason.

Now to today's ride: I left the house a bit later than I'd hoped and since I needed to be home before 2 PM and had no idea where I was going or how long it would take, I didn't know if I would have to turn back before reaching my destination or not. But it sure is nice to have a destination to be going toward instead of just riding the path all the time. (In light of the opening paragraphs above, I was wearing my new Road ID bracelet that Annie bought for me. She is worried that I would be identified when I go on longer rides without her.) Anyway, it worked out great. I arrived at the College in 1 hour and twenty minutes, total mileage, one way, 14.9. I forgot to take my camera, but there really wasn't anything to photograph; it was a pretty gritty urban ride most of the way. Of course the ride down Kelly Drive on the SRT was pretty as usual, as was the 15 minutes going up the Wissahicken Trail to Wissahicken Avenue. After that it was residential and commercial. The only scary part was riding about a quarter of a mile along the very busy street that either is at that point or is about to become Route 309. I did it, but also figured out a way to avoid it in the future. I avoided it going home. Despite the weather being overcast it was 49 degrees and getting colder as I rode. The wind was a definite factor as were some of the hills I hadn't anticipated.But I'd been wanting to do this for a long time and I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ride Of Silence Notice

I think it is not too early to let people who might be in the Philadelphia area about the Ride of Silence coming up in May. Below is the announcement. I couldn't make it last year, but have put in on my calender and I'm hoping to be there. This is a ride that takes place in locations all around the world to bring attention to the cyclists killed or injured on the roads during the previous year. Come on out, if you can.

Good ride this morning. 38 degrees felt wonderful in the fog. The sun has come out and I've managed to add a couple of more miles going to some meetings.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cold and Dark

The last of winter's presence continues to be felt even as there is a definite sense of spring's approach. It was cold this morning; around 30 degrees. But lacking the punch of yesterday's wind. More noticeably, it was DARK. The dreaded way-too-early time change put me back in the night-riding mode. It wasn't as bad as I had built it up to be in my fevered imagination. Still, it will be nice to see the sun again in a month or so. I rode on my own because of the cold and managed to put in 17 miles, but I still have a couple of miles to cover during the work day so I will update today's mileage tonight.

Friday, March 07, 2008

It's All Up Hill

It's all up hill in the wind. Today I went out grumbling about the changing of the clock, though I won't feel the full brunt of that until tomorrow when I ride at 5:45 as usual. Today I rode at my Sunday time of 6:45 so the extra darkness wasn't much of a factor. The temperature was 31 but the wind was heavy and steady with wind chills in the mid-teens. It really felt like the coldest ride of this entire winter, though it was the lowest temperature by a long shot. Of course pedaling in the wind is like pedaling up hill most of the way so it was a good work out, the sun did rise beautifully and I managed to stretch the ride to 16 miles which felt great.

Please check out the newest addition to my favorite blog list The Bicycle Chef by my friend Denine. And check out another great new video about bicycle commuting. You'll love them both!
Why Commute?

How Green Is Your Ride?

Thanks to Bike Bis for turning me on to this Sierra Club quiz that rates the "green-es" of your bike riding. Take the Quiz! I scored 84 out of 100. Not bad, but not as good as Bike Bis.

Thirty-two degrees but there is a touch of Spring in the air; mysterious, given the temperature. Lovely haze on the river this morning. A good ride.

The clock springs ahead Saturday night! Ridiculously early if you ask me, but no one is asking. So Sunday we will be riding in the dark again, for a few weeks, at least.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's Not Quite Spring

Somewhat tired legs after yesterday's longish ride plus 34 degree temperature this morning made for a brisk but satisfying ride this morning. Then I kept the bike and added a few more commuting miles to the total.

I rode along 11th and 12th street on a hospital visit. Both streets are lined with trolley tracks. I always try to be as careful as possible, crossing the tracks back and forth as traffic demands at the sharpest angle I can manage. For the first time I went into the track and almost went down today. I will avoid those streets in the future as much as I can! After recovering my balance and freeing the bike from the track I suddenly felt my rear brake had pretty much gone out. It must have been coming and the sudden movement of the wheel did the trick, but the cable popped out of the bolt and while the break still worked a little it was clearly too much of a pull to engage them. I was finished with my errands and so went directly to Bicycle Therapy for a quick diagnosis and repair. Good timing!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Happily Out Of The Loop

Much as I love the loop we do every morning and don't mind going around it two, three and sometimes four times to build endurance and just to enjoy the ride, sometimes I need to break out of the loop and see some different scenery and face some different challenges. This is what I generally do on Wednesday's, but the weather and my schedule have not allowed that for some months now. Today, after a night of hard rain and a much needed sleep the weather cleared just in time to accommodate my leisurely schedule. And despite the fact that I have a bunch of stuff to get done today, I couldn't resist riding out of the loop. I thought I might go as far as Conshohocken, but couldn't stop there either. Then I thought I might go all the way to Valley Forge for the first time this season. I certainly felt well enough on the bike to do so. But when I arrived just past the East Norriton sewer plant, about a mile or two before Norristown transit station, the construction on by the side of the trail would have entailed a long wait and the mud churned up by the rain plus the construction didn't look appetizing to ride through. So a took a little break right there at something over 17 miles out. Ate my Cliff Bar, finished the first bottle of water and switched the empty for the full one in my spare cage, and turned around. It was really wonderful to get in a relatively long ride. It was a good challenge, on a very windy day with very strong gusts now and then, to go through Manayunk and up Umbria hill. Still home in time to stop and the bank, and then go for a haircut and now do some work at home. 36.6 miles: Good show.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It Feels Like Spring

At 62 degrees in the morning it sure does feel like Spring. I know we shouldn't get used to it. March and April can still bring plenty of cold weather. But we are definitely moving in the right direction. We rode a nice, quick 13 miles this morning. It was great to be back on our own bikes, that's for sure!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Riding In Seattle

We arrived in Seattle on Thursday around 3 PM and by five had rented our bikes for the weekend from Bob's Bike and Ski. The weather was amazingly good. It rained some on Saturday, but that didn't affect us. We rode Friday and Sunday. Both times along the famed Burke-Gilman Trail, which goes from the University of Washington out into the country past some wineries that we didn't quite reach because of our limited time. But we rode about 15 miles each of our rides. Nice and Flat.

I was riding this Giant and Annie was on something a bit more clunky. But we were both happy with our bikes and with the riding.

What's not to be happy with views like these along the way:

But then there were the hills. While the path is flat, getting to and from the path meant negotiating hills like this one. Going down was fine for me, though Annie was too spooked to ride all the way down. But going up had us both walking, I hate to admit. But after exiting the trail there isn't sufficient time to get any momentum before you are really climbing. That, plus being on a strange bike and not hitting the gears fast enough defeated me.

Then there is alwaqys another view to make it seem worth while.

Still woefully under goal for mileage this year, but moving in the right direction as the season gets ready to change.
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