Thursday, July 30, 2009

Short ride to work (Bike Commute #2)

Made a short ride today. I dropped off our van for service and rode to work from the dealership. This was also the maiden voyage with my new panniers. I loaded them up nicely with my clothes for the day, and there is plenty of room to spare. The major problem with the rack mounted crate was I couldn't swing my leg over the back when mounting/dismounting. Obviously this is no problem with panniers. I took pretty good care to mount the panniers as far back as possible, and I didn't notice any foot strike issues.

I also tested out the iMapMyRide iPhone app. Here's the route into work:

Officially, I'm calling this Bike Commute #2. I've yet to recount my first few unofficial bike commute rides and what I consider Bike Commute #1, but I will get to those soon enough.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The walking habit

I live about 16 miles from work. Due to the preschool/child care arrangement we had for about the past year or so I was dropping off my daughter at school very near our house, and then dropping off my son somewhere around the midpoint of my commute to work. With the school being so close to home (about 0.4 mile one-way on foot, though almost exactly within a 1/4 mile radius from home for any planning nerds out there) and in an effort to be less car-dependent and reduce my carbon footprint, I committed myself to walking the kids to the school to do the drop-off in the morning. And by walking the kids, I mean pushing them in a stroller. There were a few rare days where the kids actually made the walk themselves, but mostly they were along for the ride as I walked them to school.

From when I started in mid-July 2008 until the end of the year I only used the car twice to make the trip to the school. Pretty good, I thought. I definitely got into the walking habit. That's not to say it was a huge accomplishment in the larger scheme of things. I'm sure there are people who take their kids to school car-free everyday and don't make any big deal about it. And then, after the holiday break, the walking in 2009 didn't go so well. By February 4 I had already doubled the number of non-walking days from that last half of 2008. Eventually I stopped keeping track of how many days I used the car, and instead was counting how many days I walked. As an alternative to walking I also had started to bike myself and the kids to the school with the use of a borrowed bicycle trailer. Unfortunately that had to end since the hitch set up was putting undue stress on my rear axle due to its design. The lesson learned is that some habits can be easily broken. Perhaps more truly, the lesson is that bad habits can quickly return.

Next post, I look back at the initial bike commute test ride and two more commutes that really got this idea rolling for me to try this on a more regular basis. As it currently stands, I've neither started bike commuting nor blog posting with any regularity. I hope to change that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My history with bikes

My fondest childhood memory of bicycle riding was helping my cousin out with his paper route when we were still in elementary school. Getting up before the crack of dawn, we'd get on our bikes and, with no cars around, we owned the road. It was so liberating, so empowering. Somehow between then and now I lost sight of that joy and freedom that cycling can bring.

I had a Giant mountain bike my dad bought for me in 90's. The whole family got them, in fact. We took our bikes camping a couple times, but really I never rode much, and never did any real mountain biking. I went away to college; it was a perfect time to use a bike. Never once did I ride a bike in college. I only ended up taking my old bike from my parent's house once I had graduated and gotten a house of my own. Still, I never rode it. I even worked for five years a mere 4 miles from home. I finally sold that old bike after it gathered dust in my garage for a few years.

Fast forward...I entered grad school for city/urban planning. I still really didn't get cycling as a viable mode of transportation until very recently, a few years out of school. I'll probably get into planning aspects of cycling a little deeper in future posts.

A year or two ago I began getting more interested in owning a bike again. Initial intentions were to use the bicycle purely for recreation/fitness. In the course of doing internet research (i.e. obsessing) I somehow ran across the website for Xtracycle. Wow! Seeing and learning about this cargo bicycle movement really opened up my eyes to the possibilities of using a bike for everyday things. Bicycle commuting began creeping into my mindset.

I eventually purchased a mountain bike in summer 2008. I used it as intended out on the trails and enjoyed it alot, though I can safely say I've not developed into an avid trail rider. My conditioning and endurance is still lacking. When I can, I do some fairly short fitness rides around the neighborhood. It was, and still is, tough finding the time to ride, so I've truthfully not been in the habit of riding (yet).

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Introduction: What is Bike 21?

They say you develop a habit by doing something for 21 days. This blog is about my attempt to make a habit of bike commuting. Well, obviously that means I'm gonna see if I can ride to work for 21 days and more. I'm not aiming to ride everyday, but maybe a couple times a week. Plus, my wife says I can get a new bike if I make it 21 days!

It turns out the number 21 also has some interesting trivia/meaning to it:
  • 21 is the sum of the first six integers (1+2+3+4+5+6=21)

  • 21 is a Fibonacci number

  • 21 is the legal gambling & drinking age in the United States, both great habits. Oh, wait...

  • 21 was the number worn by the great Pittsburgh Pirate Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente

  • It's the 21st Century