Friday, October 23, 2009

The commute in pictures post

I rode to work this past Wednesday. I thought I'd take along a camera to try and take some photos along the way. Trying to take photos while riding with my iPhone is tough and it doesn't take very good pics when on the move. Plus, without any manner of wrist strap, there is a large enough probability that I could drop my iPhone and I'd rather not do that.

My wife had our Panasonic Lumix, which would have been nice with its wide-angle Leica lens (it's the ZS1, not the LX3, but still pretty good), especially for "panda" shots. I need some more practice with those. These pics were taken with an older Olympus Stylus. The main plus with this camera is that it is small and basically flat on all sides - it has no odd lumps or lens protrusions - so I could carry it in my shorts pocket without it being annoying. This camera is also supposed to be shockproof up to 5 feet, but they probably didn't test dropping it from a moving bicycle.

Here's my panda portraits. You might recognize my new Twin Six T-shirt (October T-shirt of the Month).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Competition, bike pumps, and kid seats

I had hoped to ride in today (Friday). Some things came up, but it just boils down to no bike commute today. I got to work to find out my co-worker (the eponymous "Cyclo-Cross") rode in today. Because of the furlough situation at work he has been taking Fridays off recently so I was surprised to see him there. That's two bike commutes for him this week and zero for me. I didn't intend to take this fabricated "competition" too seriously, but maybe my ego is not going to allow that.

BCMC Week 2 ends 3-2 in favor of CC. Boo!


In other more mundane developments, I took advantage of the sale at REI to finally get myself a floor pump. Up until now I've just made do with a mini pump. This is obvious, but, damn, the floor pump is much easier and quicker for inflating tires!


I was writing part of this post on my iPhone standing outside the local karate dojo, waiting for my kids inside. I saw a guy ride by with his son on the bike. Normally such a sight would make me smile. At first I thought the guy had his kid in an iBert child seat, but as I watched them go by I realized the kid was just sitting on the top tube and holding on to the handle bars. I can't even remember if the kid had a helmet or not. The dad did have a helmet, at least.

Worse than the carelessness which this parent displayed, is that this sight just reminded me how much I want an Xtracycle (how self-absorbed of me, I know). I have been flirting with the idea for quite a while now, but have been unable to pull the trigger. The Xtracycle folks finally released their purpose-designed child seat, the PeaPod LT, and they keep putting long tail kits on sale (how dare they). I do have my doubts about using an Xtracycle for my current drive-then-bike commute. Maybe after I get a second bike I can convert the current one to a long tail. Excuses, excuses.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bike Salmon and Rules of the Road

I was driving in to work and witnessed one of the bolder moves I’ve seen by a cyclist in awhile. This gentleman was riding northbound on Ruffin Rd. approaching the connection to Kearny Villa Rd. Before reaching the light at the intersection, he crossed all the traffic lanes on Ruffin (it was briefly clear of cars) to make the left where Kearny Villa veers off to parallel Hwy-163. I didn’t see exactly what he did beyond that, but for sure he was doing the ‘bike salmoning’ thing for a stretch.

Not sure what bike salmoning is? As far as I know, the term was coined by (or at least, gained prominence from) renowned blogger Bike Snob NYC, and is defined as riding against traffic, just as salmon are known to swim upstream. Anyway, it was certainly bad form in my opinion. From my personal experiences left turns at signaled intersections are intimidating. Sometimes I just pull onto the corner and use the cross walk. Anybody consider than a no-no for a cyclist?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bike Commute #4 in the bag

Despite the usual hiccups and delays in my morning prep, I made it out of the house in relatively good time and headed out for my multi-modal (car/bike) commute. I decided to break down my bike instead of trying to load it road-ready into the back of my car. This mainly means taking off the panniers and front wheel. While I fit my bike in last time fully loaded, I scuffed up my headliner a bit with my handle bar grips as well as broke off an adjustment handle on my son’s car seat. Oops. Loading went much easier with the front wheel off (duh!) and I managed not to forget anything.

The official Bike21 commute bike (for now)

At the park & ride lot, I got my bike ready. I had a minor lapse in remembering how to put my panniers back on. I hung the first bag on the opposite side from which I had originally fitted it, meaning it was too far forward on my rack. I switched it over and mounted the other bag; Now both panniers were in their position as far back on the rack as possible. I turned on my head and tail lights and headed off.
It was an uneventful ride down Black Mountain and Kearny Villa. This is not a complaint. I always get a little stressed when crossing over right turn lanes and exit ramps from the bike lane to move over into the through lane. Car traffic seemed lighter today, being a Friday, so I had no issues. I only saw two cyclists on the ride in. I always see cyclists heading north bound on Kearny Villa while I rarely encounter others heading south. I am not sure if I am just later than other riders or what, because I always get people passing me on the northbound ride in the afternoon.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A challenge?

My co-worker is also a sometimes bike commuter. He's been riding to work on and off since he was hired over a year ago. His commute is only about 3 miles each way. When I started riding my bike to work I guess he was feeling a little inadequate because he felt I was doing much more miles than he was. The truth is that I'm only doing about double the miles per trip. He doesn't ride every day, but he certainly rides more often than I do.

He has jokingly quipped that he will have to ride so much more in order to match my mileage. If you have read this blog thus far you can guess that he is probably not far behind, if he hasn't actually already surpassed me in mileage.

Well I guess he wants to keep track, because the other day I saw this posted outside his cubicle.

If you can't decipher the chart, there are two columns with two names: Obi-Juan Kenobi (pretty sure that refers to me) and Cyclo-Cross (his last name is Cross). The heading reads "2010 Pre-Season*". The sub-text at the bottom reads:

*A completely fictional race between two completely fictional people. Any likeness or similarities to actual people or an actual race are unintentional and purely coincidental. However if it were an actual race, 9 out of 10 scientists agree Cyclo-Cross would win and Obi-Juan Kenobi would die from pneumonia induced complications as a result of inhaling so much dust.

I guess the gauntlet has been thrown.