Friday, December 7, 2012

A Small Rack for Bikes...

One Giant Leap for the Cycling Kind. Otherwise know as "ask, and you shall receive."  That is the lesson I learned yesterday.

Ever since the school year started, back in late August, I noticed that our new building was missing something. Something that should be in every new building, specially if said new building is designed to be a "green" building. A bike rack.  Bicycles simply promote a healthier lifestyle, but if you are reading this blog, then you don't need to be schooled on the benefits of commuting by bicycle.

I know it's not the biggest bike rack. It's technically designed to hold six bikes, but it's installed in the wrong direction, thereby cutting the amount of bikes it can hold by half. The biggest point; however, It's that is there and it is still functional.

The roads around my place of work are bike friendly. Bike through here in the mornings on the weekends and you are liable to see at least a dozen cyclists zooming up and down this humble country roads.  The roads are well kept.  They are straight -ish.  The hills are tough, but not unforgiving. And as far as my experience goes, the motorists around these parts are respectful and aware of cyclists.  These are a lot of the reasons why I asked to be moved to this new location, so I could commute by bicycle from time to time.  You never know, It could become a habit.

Early in the school year, I asked my manager what would it take to get a bike rack installed at our location. His answer "I don't know. I'll ask."  From then on, every time I bumped into him in the hallway he would give me a quick one or two sentence progress report on the bike rack.  Progress felt slow, but he had an awesome way of letting me know that the idea and the project had not stalled to a standstill.

Yesterday when I got to work after lunch I bumped into him as I was coming in the front door of the building (almost as if he was waiting for me), and with a smile in his face he told me: "That bike rack you asked for was installed a little while ago on the back entrance of the building."  Astonished. All I could reply was "Cool. Thank you, I'll go check it out."

When I saw it, I couldn't help but smile.  An overwhelming sense of hope came over me and I thought "build it, and they will come."  The presence of the bike rack should give people that have been thinking about commuting a little nudge towards the right direction. I for one... can't wait to lock my bike there while I work.

Question is... which one first?

Be Safe and Be Green

Friday, November 30, 2012

Plenty to be Thankful for...

     This past three months have been nothing short of remarkable, and considering how we just finished the the week of Thanksgiving.  It led me to thinking about all the things that I have to be thankful for.  The first two are kind of a package deal. My family and my health.  Without either of which, I could have had the last three wonderful months on my bicycle.

      Before the start of September, the only organized cycling event I had ever done was Ride of Silence.  In the past three months I've done Conquer the Coast, Trek Women's Breast Cancer Awareness Ride, and the 2012 San Antonio Rock'n'Roll Marathon Bike Tour.  All of which, I wouldn't have thought I would have done just a year ago.

     There is something about massively organized rides that gets my motor running. The euphoria of knowing you just completed and accomplished something you thought was beyond your capabilities is difficult to describe and exhilarating to pursue.  To feel the support and encouragement of family members is like butterscotch icing on the adrenaline cake.  To have them by my side or waiting at the finish line puts a little extra wind behind your rear wheel and little more drive to push the pedals a little harder for just a bit longer.  Again... difficult to describe... but thankful and grateful none the less.

Be Safe and Be Green.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What have I done?

As you may not know yet, I failed my August challenge. I only biked 71.88 of my 100 mile challenge. I started strong at the beginning of the month, and I tried to have a strong finnish. The middle two weeks though, I didn't get a chance to bike a lot. Somewhere at the end of the month, I was influenced by the spirit of the challenge and I signed up for Conquer the Coast and I signed up to do the Bike Tour on the San Antonio Rock'n'Roll Marathon.

     Out of the two, I'm dreading the Bike Tour a little more. It's only 22 miles, but you have to keep a minimum speed of 10 mph, and as far as I understand it, you are not allowed to stop for a break. Sounds pretty daunting. I know I can do 22 miles. I just don't know if I can do the miles without stopping. I guess I have two months to find out.

     On the other hand, I'm really excited about riding in Conquer the Coast.  Miss Adventure and I, both signed up to do this event, and we both signed up to do the 25 mile ride. One of the reasons I'm excited about this ride is that we get to ride all along Ocean Dr in Corpus Christi. From the northern tip of downtown to the entrance of the Naval Air Station. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would ever get a chance to ride the whole length of Ocean Dr. Not even when I first started cycling.

     Conquer the Coast also marks the very first organized cycling race that we've ever participated in. Last I read from their facebook page, last year they had nearly 1,500 participants. That's a lot of riders... but I'm still very excited for us to join them.

Be Safe and Be Green.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Yeah, this is not going to play nice with my allergies...

Friday, September 7, 2012

My grandfather...

... once told me.  "It's not only important that you learn from your own mistakes, but that you also learn from the mistakes of others."  With that in mind, I started this blog strong, and then I went back to reading about cycling as much as I could.  Always thinking, "This would be a great thing to share on my blog."

So without much further ado. I present to you today's link full of information. It's from the guardian, a newspaper from the UK that happens to have a section on cycling news.  Today's link features some good, and healthy, tips on how to increase the distance you can ride your bike. Enjoy.

Be Safe and be Green.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bicycle Gears

Last night I was perusing through my favorite blogs and websites when I came across this gem.

For a while now, I've tried to come up with a common sense and simple way to explain bicycle gears to new riders (not that I'm all that experienced myself). Bicycle gears is something that I learned the hard way through trial and error long ago. It's something my leg muscles and my hands have learned to coordinate without much conscious effort in my part. For that reason when I'm asked on what the proper way to use bicycle gears, I have a tendency to utter the word "um" over and over without saying much in between. jm2, at the Bicycles Stack Exchange, put into words what I have failed to explain many many times.
Don't overthink it. Since you've got a triple, you're probably right to be in your middle ring most of the time That's normal.
  • In the middle ring you should have access to the whole cassette/freewheel in the back, though you might get a little extra noise as you approach the extreme gears in either direction.
  • You'll use the big chainring when you're going downhill or your on flat ground and in a hurry. Stay out of the biggest couple of cogs in the back when you're in the big ring up front. This causes extra strain and extra wear on the drivetrain which can result in premature failure.
  • Your little ring up front is your climbing ring. Use this for hills, or as your bail-out ring when you're totally out of energy. Just like big-big is a no-no, so is small-small, so stay out of the smallest cogs in the back when you're in the smallest ring in the front.
Regarding your hunch that you've got a lot of overlap between gears, you're absolutely right. Think of each ring as a gear range (climbing for small, normal use for middle, ass-hauling for big). If there were no overlap between the chainrings you would either A) have far fewer gears in the back or B) have a range of gears in the big and small rings which were far too small or far too big to be usable.Think about how big the jumps between gears would be if there was no overlap at all! Trust me, it's not what you want. Typically, you'll find yourself Shifting the front in one direction and immediately afterwards shifting the back in the opposite direction so that it feels like you've only skipped about a single gear in either direction. In time, you'll come to appreciate the overlap between gears in the different chainrings.

Finally, if you really want to see how much overlap you have, you can divide the front rings by each of the back rings to get a ratio for every gear combination. There are fancier ways of doing this, but for your purposes this is the easiest and most straightforward.
EDIT: Here's a pretty good article on Wikipedia about bicycle gearing if you'd like to get more in depth.
 I know it looks a little out of context this way, to get the full conversation please go the original post. And again, I couldn't have put it better into words myself.

Be Safe and Be Green.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

August Challenge

When we got serious about cycling, we began measuring our ridden distance with cycling computers. Then, we found we could map our rides with our smart phones using the "My Tracks" app.  Just recently I got turned to the "Map My Ride" app.  When I signed up for the website and explored around a bit, I quickly found that you could give yourself challenges. This is also right around the same time that I was overwhelmed by the heat we are going through in South Texas. My first thought was to be conservative.  100 miles in the month of August sounds pretty good. Doesn't sound like a lot.

The next day I decided to go through the spreadsheet that "My Tracks" keeps of all the rides I've done (or at least the ones that I've remembered to take my phone on).  I don't think I've done 100 miles in one month. Ever. On the second hottest month of the year, I chose to give myself the farthest distance I've done in a month on a bicycle (I will be conservative, my subconscious said. It will be easy, my subconscious said. It will be fun, my subconscious said).

Yesterday evening, Miss Adventure and I kicked off the challenge by riding in our neighborhood for 6.61 miles.  That means I'm 6.61% through my challenge.

Only 93.39% to go.

Be Safe and Be Green.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's Hot Outside

The past week or so have been an exercise in patience.  The temperature down in the south Texas oven quickly climbs after 10am.  It's already 92 degrees outside and it's not even 11:30 AM as I type this.  The weather forecast calls for near 100s for the rest of the week, and my chances of going out early are slim...  I guess I will have to brave out the summer heat in the early evening...

     I love biking but where do I draw the line between the health benefit of riding and getting cooked alive in the South Texas sun?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Soap box

Goes to coat closet and begins to rummage.  
Finally finds soap box.
Blows dust off of soap box, takes it outside to the middle of the street.
Stand on top of Box.
Because of my work, I find myself driving early in the morning.  I'm talking 5:30 AM early in the morning.  Today I saw 4 casual cyclists, and at least 6 runners/walkers.  Ordinarily I have a warm and fuzzy spot for anyone riding a bike or out running/walking. Today, every single cyclist and runner had no lights and no reflective clothing of any type. A couple of runners where even dressed in full black clothing (O_o).
If you are going to go out in the street early in the morning to exercise, good for you, BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PUT A BLINKY ON YOURSELF OR YOUR BIKE!!!!! I for one don't want to be charged with involuntary manslaughter because I couldn't see you until you became a speed bump for my truck.
Thank you.  That'll be all.
Be safe and be Green.
Get off soap box.
Walk into house and put Soap box back in closet.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yesterday's Lesson

For a long time now, I've wanted to turn bike riding into something practical. I don't like for it to just be exercise.

Shortly before Father's Day, I had a chance to get a B.O.B. Yak Trailer.  The possibility of taking it out for a ride has been burning in the back of my mind ever since.  The first place I thought of to take the new trailer for a spin was the local grocery store (of course! Where else?).

My lovely better half, Ms. Adventure, looked at me as if this was a crazy idea (She does that a lot...  usually guided towards me...  ^_^). She began to very methodically disassemble my argument.  I just got it. I don't know how it's going to react once it has weight on it. How is it going to affect the bike when going uphill/downhill in the many hills we ride around our neighborhood...  Fine. I'll start with something small.

I took the trailer by itself around the block a couple of times. If it wasn't for the semi-constant flapping of the flag, I wouldn't know the trailer was attached to my bike. OK.  A fully loaded trip to the grocery store is completely out of the question... for now.  Baby steps, I promised my better half that I would do incremental loads.  What to load next bugged me for days. Then the idea came painfully obvious when I was changing the five gallon water bottle. I could just go get water! Water is really heavy for the amount of volume it takes. That stopped me, but just for a short time.  We only have 5-gallon bottles. Fully loaded it's 40 pounds. 40 pounds! Not the incremental weight increase I was looking for.  If I was to fill a 5-gallon bottle with less water, the water would just slush around and really throw me off balance. The solution: 3-gallon bottles.

Last Friday, I took advantage that my better half was taking a nap (she can't talk me out of it if she's asleep).  The two things that threw me over the edge were reading this blog post, and watching this news piece. I attached the trailer to my mountain bike and bungee corded the 3-gallon bottle as secure as I could with the cords.

Off I went on a new adventure.

I learned that once the 3-gallon bottle was full, there was little to no difference in the way it handled.  The one wheel on the B.O.B. trailer tracked the rear wheel of my bike flawlessly.  I didn't feel the additional weight on the uphills (oddly enough!).  The one time I noticed the extra weight was on the downhills. It almost turned my mountain bike into a freight train. It went straight. Dead straight, and fast. The trailer is also a very unusual addition to a bike in this parts of civilization, that every motorist gave me a W I D E berth around. I even got a couple of thumbs up from a couple of motorists.  I made it home safe in one piece, excited, and soaked in sweat (more because I chose to go out close to noon in the south Texas relentless sun, than from being tired).

So what is yesterday's lesson?! You are rambling on about last Friday! 

I know. I know. Bare with me here. I'm getting there.

Yesterday I decided to get water once again.  But I felt it was time to kick it up a notch.  This time I carried a 5-gallon bottle. The thing I learned yesterday is that the difference in handling the trailer in tow is massively different between a full 3-gallon bottle and a 5-gallon bottle. As a first impression, the difference is almost exponential (Who'd a thought a 16 pound difference in weight would be so pronounced in the handling of the bike). The freight train effect was the most enhanced. You ever hit 27.5 MPH on a mountain bike?  It gets a little scary at that speed. And just in case you are wondering, this time I did feel the additional weight going uphill.

In conclusion, exercising by riding a bicycle while doing something practical is possible.  Ms. Adventure was right (credit needs to be given where it's due), I would have probably broken my neck if I had gone out with a fully loaded trailer my first time out with it. I need to continue with the incremental weight increases on the trailer until I can ride comfortably with a fully loaded trailer. Last but not least, I feel that carrying the 5-gallon bottle on a bike with a trailer is far more practical and efficient than if I was to carry that same bottle and cover the same distance walking. The best part, my truck stayed tucked away on my driveway, not burning fuel.

Be Safe and Be Green!

Monday, July 16, 2012

First Post!

Welcome to my blog.  My name is Zeus. I live in San Antonio, TX. and I love to ride my bicycles.  I'm also a self proclaimed greenie, which could be one of the reasons why I'm drawn to cycling.

My goal for this blog is to share some of the wisdom I've picked up while riding this past year and a half, my experiences, the people I've met along the way, and over all rants to get things off my chest.