Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 in Review


This year has been a mixed year of good and bad. I’m looking back on my goals for the year that I posted just a little more than a year ago and I want to take this chance to reflect on the year that is passing and also set (and reset) some goals for the coming year. I hope you will humor me and my nostalgic thoughts.

The Good
I got myself a Wonderful Bicycle - Orange All City Macho Man Disc Brakes
My weight is down enough that it registers on my scale.
I managed to ride over 1000 miles this year (barely)
I made new friends and help others (old friends) explore cycling for the first time.

The not so good
Commitments this summer stopped me from riding more often than once or twice a week. According to my records I was only on my bicycle 61 days out the year. That kept me from spending the kind of time on my bike that I wanted to. Life is like that sometimes. I don’t regret it, it is what it is.

I still haven’t gotten up 18th street.

The Bad
At the Beginning of October my mother passed away and this took away from me (for this year at least) my joy of riding during fall. Fall has always been my favorite time to ride. I love the coolness of the air and the changing of the leaves. I missed that this year and my mileage shows it. I don't regret it, the time I got to spend with my Mother before she passed is something I will treasure. Even the frustrating times are something I can look back fondly on now.

So Last year around this time I posted my goals for 2013.

Ride Bike More
I think I managed to do this one even if I barely got 1000 miles in. (Check)

Fix Myself
well considering this is the first time in a long time (maybe since 2000) that I can actually weigh myself on a scale without getting an “Error” I have a new Job that I love and a great group of cycling friends. I’m calling this one a win. (Check)

Icicle Bicycle
I did this ride and truthfully it was awful. I did not enjoy it.  I did not enjoy being ditched by those “leading” the ride. I did enjoy the drinks and food afterwards with my friends. This won’t be on my list to do again. (Check)

Pedal Pittsburgh
I missed out on Pedal Pittsburgh this year. Unfortunately this ride fell during that time when I was otherwise committed. I did enjoy the first one, even if I got rained on, rode the ride alone, was cold and tired at the end, and the weather made hanging out afterwards a joke. What I saw was potential. If the weather had been better it would have been a fantastic ride. This Ride stays on the list for next year (Fail)

Ride more than 1000 Miles
I did manage to accomplish this (1016.66 miles), but it was a lot harder than I expected it to be. I just wasn't able to get and ride as much as I had planned. I realize now that a mileage goal is the wrong kind of goal for me. according to the records I only got out on the bike for 61 days out of the entire year. So for the next year my goal will be to get out and ride at least 100 days out of the year. (Check)

Write more
This is another one of those goals where I thought Quantity was more important than Quality. in 2012 I posted 57 posts here on the blog and in 2013 I posted 35 posts. So technically I failed this goal but as I look at the posts themselves I tend to think that what I posted here was of an overall higher quality. This year I am hoping to make the schedule for the blog and for the facebook page a little more regular. I’m calling this one a win. (Check)

Ride up 18th St
Nope still haven’t made it (Fail)

Go on 7 flock rides
Forgot to count how many rides I was on but I am going to call this one a win. I managed to get several of my friends to go on a flock ride for the first time. (Check)

Organize my own ride
I didn't manage to Organize my own ride. I was able to help out with several events that I found to be more important. The first was a ride called “Pedal for the Pantry” this was a grocery gathering alleycat that was a huge success.

I for one would be just as happy to help out with the next Pedal for the pantry than to try and organize a ride of my own. (Fail?)

My goals for 2014

  • Ride 100 days in the next year
  • Write better posts 
  • Weigh less at the end of the 2014 than I do now
  • Cherish my cycling friends
  • Pedal Pittsburgh
  • Pedal for the Pantry
  • Write 5 interviews for the blog
  • Write 9 reviews for the blog

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Narnia Bear

"If I was riding through the woods I imagined I would hit a deer, but then I imagined I would hit a bear, because, you know a bear wouldn't be hurt. but I would be knocked out. then the bear would feel sorry for me and try to help by taking me out of the woods. Would he take just me or would he take my bike as well. I imagine he would just ride my bike and carry me. cause, you know, he's a bear. Then he would take me and my bike to the parking lot and growl and make motions with his paws (making motions with hands) in order to attract people's attention and let them know I needed help."

This is what I heard tonight at the bar.

I'm so glad I went.

Thank you for making my night out a wonderful time.

Of course now I'm left wondering if the bear would ride off with the bike afterwards?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fat Guys 10 Rules for Cycling


Most if not all of you are at least familiar with the rules of cycling. I would be willing to bet that the statement “Rule 5!” has a special (if not beloved) place in your heart. My rules for cycling are a little different.

1. Go out and ride a bike!
2. Yes you can do it.
3. Support the local bike shop that supports you
4. Don’t Be a Dick
5. Any Excuse to ride is a good excuse
6. Be pro-bike not Anti-car
7. Always carry a spare tube and patch kit.
8. Be willing to give said tube or patch kit to total stranger
9. You can do so much more than you think you can
10. Go out and ride a bike!

Go out and ride a bike
My first rule is a bit of a simple self-explanatory rule, but it is also the most important. Go out and ride a bike. It’s what cyclists do, and it is all you have to do to be a cyclist. It doesn’t matter what kind of bike you ride, how much you spent on it, what you are wearing, or where you are riding to. All that matters is that you get on your bike and go for a ride. My first few rides were around the block where I lived, and by the time I had ridden 10 feet I was a cyclist.

Yes you can do it
If I can do it you can do it. Riding doesn’t have to be hard, hot, and sweaty. Riding should be fun. You should want to go out and enjoy the time you spend on your bike. More importantly you can enjoy the time you spend on your bike. Riding your bike will make you stronger. So that even if there are things you can’t do on your bike or places you can’t ride to. It is only a matter of time before the things you can’t do become those things you have done.

Support the Local Bike Shop (LBS) that supports you
It isn’t enough that you support your local bike shop. It is equally important that your local bike shop supports you. Are they willing to help out, teach you how to take care of your bike. Clearly explain what is wrong with your bike and show you what is broken. Are they friendly and willing to take time for you. (unless the place is busy, they need to make a living) Does the shop host rides or at least know what rides are going on and can point you in the right direction.

Don’t be a Dick
I could make this one rule it’s very own post, but I will try to limit myself to a single paragraph. What I mean is that you should be considerate of other cyclist, nod, smile, and say hello. Stop when you see someone stopped and make sure they are ok. Think of all the other cyclist around you as friends and treat them that way. Be willing and Able to help a new cyclist get comfortable on a bike. Lastly if you are one of the CAT 6ers out there who get upset at the slow people on the trails on saturday that are getting in YOUR way and riding slow on YOUR circuit and keeping YOU from getting YOUR miles in, do me a favor, get off the trail and on the road. You’re being a DICK!

Any excuse to ride is good excuse
Need to pick up some mike? Don’t hop in the car, hop on your bike. Beside actually using less gas and helping to save the planet you get to say things like “When I was biking to the store yesterday to pick up groceries...” and look like a total hard ass. There is never a bad reason to get on a bike and ride.

Go to the Store - Ride a bike
Go to work - Ride a bike
Stressed out - Ride a bike
Looking to get out of the house - Ride a bike
Looking to shut that person up - Ride a bike
Want to save the planet - Ride a Bike

I think you get the picture. Riding a bike is one of those things that doesn’t really have a down side.

Got to get somewhere in a hurry? What’s wrong with you, learn to plan ahead and lose the word “hurry” from your vocabulary. That in itself will bleed so much stress from your life that it deserves a post (or a dozen) of its own.

Be Pro-Bike not Anti-Car
This is a tough one for me because I don’t drive (I don’t have a license) so I have learned to plan my life around this fact. That being said I know that we live in a very car-centric culture and while I believe that there are many things you can do without a car, I also know that most people aren’t going to give up the car as their many mode of transportation.

I have become OK with this.

What I am hoping for is that you will begin to look at things such as Mass transportation, cycling, and walking as viable options for at least some of your transportation needs. It is one thing to convince people to get on a bike and do some riding, it is another thing to convince them to give up their cars.  Baby steps.

Always carry a spare tube and patch kit
I cannot stress this enough. Of all the mechanical problems I have had, and encountered with myself and other cyclists 80 to 90% of these could of been fixed with a spare tube or an allen wrench. We can argue about things like chain tools, duct tape, or a few spare links till the cows come home but if you carry a spare tube and a patch kit (and actually know how to use them) chances are you will make it home.

Be willing to give said tube or patch kit to total stranger
Unless you are a young girl on a dark trail alone at night this is possibly the best advice I can give for creating a positive attitude about cycling. When you see a cyclist pulled to the side of the road, even if he/she has people with them slow down and make sure they are ok. That patch it that you paid a buck and half for can make a huge difference in this person’s view of cycling. Please be aware of your surroundings when you do this. If you don’t feel safe about stopping then don’t stop or stop at a distance. Be safe first but also be willing to give up that extra tube or patch kit or bit of time to help another cyclist get home safely.

You can do so much more than you think you can
This is the first thing I learned when I first started to ride my bike. My first real ride was 10 miles, nothing special, just down to a local coffee shop and back. Something I would have never considered doing.

Yet I did it.

The day before my longest ride was three times around block. That is when I first realized that I was able to do so much more than I had convinced myself of.

I let my mind lie to me.
To convince me that I was/am capable of so much less.

I need to call myself out, You need to call yourself out. You need to understand that you are so much more, and you can do so much more than you could ever believe. We are all able to do so much more. If we can just quit listening to that voice in our head that tells us over and over again that we can’t

You Can!

Go out and ride a Bike
The truth is that I put this in twice because it is twice as important as the other eight rules (even the Don’t be a Dick rule) If you ride then you know just how much being out on a bike can change you, your feelings, your attitude, and most importantly your future.

Ride a Bike
Change Your Life.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Reverse Keg Ride


Every year East End Brewing holds two rides. One in the spring and one in the fall. Both of these rides are fantastic fun and better yet, both end with beer. Really good beer. Yesterday was the Reverse keg ride.

Allow me explain. In the spring is the keg ride where we deliver fresh kegs of Pedal Pale Ale (The spring and summer beer) to some lucky drinking establishment. (Yes we deliver the kegs by bike). In the fall we return some of the empty kegs from OTB Bicycle Cafe back to the brewery.

As usual Flock of Cycles (that being the official name for some of the best people in Pittsburgh) marshalled the ride (That is helped keep everyone safe). I'm not sure of the numbers but I am sure that this was the best Reverse Keg Ride I have been a part of. I was one of the last people to make it to the brewery but since my marshalling job was to run sweep with one of my most favorite people it's ok. (thanks again Sarah)


Here is a pic of the pre-ride Gathering at OTB. (click to enlarge) We had a good sized group for a cold and wet November day. The rain started at about the same time as the ride but only lasted a few minutes. The riders were dampened but their spirits weren't. The only part of this ride I have a problem with is the one hill that stands in our way (this is Pittsburgh after all, if you only have one hill then you consider yourself lucky.) I made it up the hill and since I was a sweeper  (riding the back of the pack to make sure no one got left behind.) It was ok that I was one of the last people up the hill.

We got to the Brewery with no problems and aside from a couple mechanical problems (that were quickly remedied) everyone made it to the Brewery safe, sound and happy.


Here is the Post ride at the brewery, again click the picture to enlarge. At the brewery we all got to be the first people to taste the fall / winter beer Snowmelt. (a personal favorite of mine) As you can see from the pictures costumes were encouraged. There was a contest for the best costumes and everyone got the reverse keg ride glass (that you see in the first picture) This ride is one of my favorite rides of the year, and one that I try very hard to make it to. I enjoy the ride, and the beer of course, but I love the people.

This ride reminds me of why it is so good to ride in Pittsburgh.

I will end this post with some pics from the ride.

Pre-Ride at OTB
 
Marshalls
Duck, Duck, Goose
Pretty Kitty
Scott the Beer Master




Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tangle Bag - Review


The other day I was window shopping at Thick Bikes, Window shopping was all I could really afford after buying my new baby (All City Macho Man Disc) when I saw a smaller version of the Macho Man with a beautiful frame bag.

“Its a good thing I like Ramen Noodles” I thought since that is what i’ll be eating for the next week.  I tracked Chris down and asked him about the bag.  It was the Tangle Bag from Revelate Design. After trying the medium bag it was clear that I needed the large bag. So I ordered one from Thick Bikes and picked it up on Saturday. I got to admit it does add to the already huge amount of sexy this bike has.

Let me tell you first why I wanted a bag like this one. I keep everything I need for my bike in a backpack that I carry around with me wherever I go. I’m so sick of the backpack. It isn’t comfortable, and it makes my back sweaty. After I got the bag mounted on my bike I began to transfer the stuff from my backpack to my new bag.

2 patch kits
4 tire levers
My D-Lock
1 Spare Tube
2 mini tools
Wallet
Phone
Keys
2 Tattoo Magazines

I still had room to add the items that are missing from this list (but that is another story). This made me very happy. So happy in fact that I didn’t notice what is going to be a bit of a downside. The bag, as nice as it is, takes up the same space as where the bars of a bike rack will go. (at least where the bars of most bike racks mounted on most cars go.)

I am classing this as a minor setback.

My bike doesn't spend much time on a bike rack like the ones on the backs of cars. If anything it spends most of its rack time on a Bus. With the bus bike rack I have no problems at all. So while taking the bag off and putting it back on when I have to is a pain, it isn't much of one. However if your bike spends a lot of time on the back of your car you may want to consider your options before purchasing a bag like this one.

[EDIT]
I was asked on Google+ "How does it do when pedaling? Looks like it may rub some on legs?" And I thought this was a good question. The answer is that the bag is very slim and I haven't had any trouble with it rubbing. Here are a couple of pics showing what I have in the bag and what it looks like from above.


Here is the bag showing the colorful inside (which makes things easier to find when the light isn't the best) as well as what I found inside it.



Here is a photo of the bag (with all the items replaced inside) from above. you can see that it is just a bit wider than the top tube. Im thinking that I will be able to put quite a bit of stuff in the bag before it will bulge outward to any degree.

[END EDIT]

Specs - from the Revelate Website
Price:  $70.00

Weight:  9 oz

Volume:
Small - 225 cubic inches
Medium - 275 cubic inches
Large - 350 cubic inches

Color Choices: Black

Features:
-Dimension Polyant Xpac 400 Denier Fabric
-840 denier ballistics fabric around tube sections
-Down tube section padded with closed cell foam
-Beefy construction
- all attachment points bartacked, reinforced top velcro flaps .
-White & yellow interior so you can see your stuff
-#8 YKK water resistant main zipper
-Left side flat pocket w/ #5 water resistant zipper
-Adjustable webbing attachments with low profile cam lock buckles.
-strap keepers
- Hydration tube / battery wire port near the front of bag.
- Gas tank compatible
-Fits lots of different bikes!

Last Note
All in all I am very pleased with the bag and I am glad I bought it. In the end I bought the Tangle Bag in order to stop wearing my backpack. As it turns out I have kept on wearing the backpack and have ended up simply carrying more stuff. I have to wonder if this is just a personal problem or if it is the nature of the beast. I think I now have a better understanding for my friends with so much stuff packed in their panniers.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Really


My life is like this. After months and months of talking about Flock of Cycles to my friends and doing all I can to get them to come out on a ride, I finally managed it. Three of my friends joined me on their first flock ride. Just so happens to be the first flock ride this year with an actual hill.

Really?

Before anyone (especially those at Flock) think I'm complaining let me say that I'm not. There was nothing wrong with the route and it would of a made a pleasant change from the usual route. Also my friends made it up the hill and now have something to brag about. I just wish I could of warned them before hand. I talk constantly about the Flock of Cycles, I love the people and I look forward to the ride each month. I think it is kind of funny that when I finally get people to come on the ride it turns out to be nothing at all like what I made it out to be.

Life is like that sometimes.

I want to be serious and talk about two things. First off I want to say how proud I am that my friends didn't turn around when faced with that hill and made it up. I know many of you would smirk about me calling this is a hill. The truth is I didn't have any trouble with it either. Still it was hard for my friend and even though it was hard, there was no quitting. I am very proud of them.

Secondly when we were going up the hill we kept falling behind the group but we were never alone. Other Flockers stayed with us and encouraged us. I can remember my first few flock rides where I was the one in the back always holding everyone up. I wanted to quit. I felt like I was too old, fat, and slow. I didn't quit because back then there were people who helped me through it. People who made sure I made it and encouraged me when I wanted to quit.

It changed my life.

That isn't something I say lightly. So now I work to be the encouragement, and if Im lucky I can help someone else up that hill and give them the same feeling of accomplishment I had the first time I made it up that hill.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Try-A-Bike

As bikefest 2013 was coming to an end I went to an event that I have been trying to get to since it was first started. Try-A-Bike. Set up at the Bud Harris cycling Oval it gives the general public a chance to try different types of bicycles. It also give cyclists a chance to try out different bikes and different styles of riding. Road Bikes, Folding Bikes, Recumbent Bikes, Unicycles, Electric Bikes, Tandem Bikes, and Mountain Bikes.

Thats a lot of bikes.

Here are some of the pictures I took

Here are some of the bikes that were brought by individuals in order for other people to try. Everything from a cool cruiser (in front) to a small folding bike (orange bike half way back) and a trike recumbent.


Here is one of the small folding bikes that can be ridden, then folded up and carried onto a bus or put in the trunk of your car. 

Here is another folding bicycle that is shown folded up. One of the bikes that was brought to the Try-A-Bike was a bicycle I dubbed "The Collar Boner" That being the bone you would most likely brake when try to ride it.

If you look carefully at the handelbars you will notice that there is a geared setup that turns the wheel in the opposite direction of the handlebars. I saw a couple people trying to ride it and I saw at least one of them fall. I saw none of the actually ride it. 

Colin set up a nice beginner moutain biking course and had several mountain bikes there for people to try their skills. 

The only bike I got to ride was the Surly Krampus a mountain bike with huge balloon tires and I have to admit I am quite smitten with it. It was just hands down fun. While I cant afford another 2 grand for a krampus I am wondering just how large of a set of tires I can fit on my Diamond back. I had a set of 2 1/2" tires on the bike and moved down to a set of more friendly 1.95's It may be time to go back to the bigger tires and take the Big Orange Bike on a little off roading.

if you want to you can take a look at the entire set of photos over at the Fatguy OrangeBike Facebook page.






Monday, August 19, 2013

The New Steed

I wanted to introduce everyone to the newest member of the Fatguy OrangeBike Family. Randy "The Macho Man. This is the one, the only,

The All City Macho Man Disc

This was a case of Love at first sight. I was at Thick Bikes when I came across a small postcard advertisement for this bike. I remember grabbing the card, dancing around and screaming "Please God tell me this is real!!"  Turns out it is. This is the newest version of their cross bike. Disc brakes, 20 gears, and a totally dream to ride.

Oh and did I mention it is Orange.

Really Orange

Orange and White

With White Pedals

And White Bottle Holder

So I ended up buying the Macho Man and by the time I made it three blocks away I was convinced that I had made the right decision. The only downside to the bike was the saddle, The horn of the saddle was just to long and tended to poke me in tender places. (I gave it a 100 miles and just could not get used to it.) I referred to the saddle as the "All City Fister" So I picked up a saddle with a shorter horn.

Not sure if I told you "Its Orange".

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bike Suite Part 2

So here is the pretty much finished prototype. You have the two lights, the Dual Shift Registers in the center next to the Arduino Uno. The red breadboard holds the Ping Sensor which will detect an object to the left and behind at a 45 degree angle. There is also a series of warning lights and a button to switch between the different tail light animations.



Next will be getting it all boxed up and trying to get it mounted on BOB. Next will adding an accelerometer to detect braking. After I get that working I want to add some side facing lights. Made from the RGB rings that Adafruit offers.  I also picked up a strip of RGB Lights from Radio Shack that could also make a really cool light show. 

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bike Suite Part 1



A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the deaths and hit and runs that we have had here in Pittsburgh. I titled that article "A bit Upsetting" when the truth of the matter was that I found the whole thing very upsetting. I felt so helpless that people were being killed and people I knew and thought of as friends were ending up in the hospital. I had to do something, but the truth was I had no idea what to do.

Until I looked at my work area.

That is when the idea that has absorbed my mind for the last month. The idea of a set of electronics that I could build that would do two things. First it would increase the visibility of cyclist to the motorist. Second it would help the cyclist be informed of the surroundings. (I am thinking here of cars to the rear and left of the cyclist.) So I have thought long and hard about this, waking up in the middle of the night and finding it hard to fall back asleep as my mind pondered over some little detail.

Losing sleep makes me crabby.

So what follows may be a little geeky for some of my Cycling friends but I am hoping that you can help me see the things I am missing.  First lets start off with a general description of what this Bike Suite will do.

Description
The bike suite will accomplish several goals.

Object Detection Mode
1. Detect Cars that are closer than the 4 feet (1.22 meters) allowed by PA Law.
2. Detect Cars before they are beside the bike. at 45 degrees behind bike
     (i.e give cyclist time to react)
3. Flash lights to alert Motorist that they are too close.
4. Warn cyclist with lights that object (Car) is to left rear.
5. Warn cyclist with buzzer when object is within 30 inches (0.76 meter)

Brake Detection Mode
1. Detect when bike is slowing down
2. Flash taillights to warn people behind (motorists and cyclists) that bike is slowing down.

Standard Rear Light Mode
1. flash rear lights as standard rear lights

Hacked Tail Lights
I started with the cheapest tail lights I could find at my local bike shop. I then opened them up and I hoped that I could use the hardware inside the tail light but that wasn't meant to be. So I tore out all the innards and whipped up the new hacked innards.


I plan on using hot glue to seal up where the wire goes, and locate the board inside the two tail lights.
These lights will be the main way to communicate to the motorist. Below is a video of the hacked lights blinking. Try not to be distracted by the sound in the background

video

This should give all of you some idea what I am working on.

Controller

The whole thing is being controlled by an Arduino Uno (Microcontroller), but the final prototype will be with a much smaller Arduino Micro. Check out the following photo for an idea of scale. The larger one is the Uno.



The idea is to use an Ultrasonic sensor to detect an object behind the bike at 45 Degrees. When something is detected and it is closer than 4 feet the left tail light will flash like it is shown in the video above. A light on the module attached to the handle bars will also flash, thus alerting the motorist and the cyclist. See photo of Ultra-sonic distance sensor below.



Braking

Brake detection is accomplished by the use of an accelerometer.  This will detect if the bicycle is speeding up or slowing down. If it detects the bike is slowing down it will flash both tail lights solid. Right now I am in the process of determining how much of a change in acceleration will cause the brake lights to turn on.

At the moment I am trying to build all the modules and get the code working to allow it all to work together. I will keep you informed of my process here. Also when it is finished I will make detailed photos, schematics, and the computer code available as part of the Open Hardware Repository and Creative Commons Projects. Meaning that anyone who wants to can build a system of their own.

If you have any ideas of options or actions that could be added to the Bike Safety Suite please leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Momentum


Momentum

It's what I lack. I have been trying to ride more and strangely enough I have only managed to ride less over the last month. I know what the problem is, it is simple. I have the chance to get off my ass and on my bike and instead I stay on my ass and don't get on my bike. No excuses, no blaming this or that fact, not even blaming the wet or too hot weather.

I am suffering from a lack of momentum, and I, like every other non-quantum body in the universe is subject to Newton's laws of motion. In this case the first law which states.

First law: 
An object remains at rest or at a constant velocity (uniform motion), with respect to an inertial reference frame, unless acted upon by a force.

Right now I am suffering under the tyranny of the first law. I am that object of rest and I have surrounded myself with walls, fences, and security to make sure I stay at rest.

Momentum
Newton's first law of motion states
An object at rest remains at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force.
I am rest
tying to find the force that moves me.
I know this.
And still I go home and walk past my bike
like walking past a homeless man
I'm Afraid to make eye contact for fear that
I'll end up giving more than my change.
that I'll have to make a change
not in how I see the world
but in how I see
Me
I make all those lame excuses
For not getting on that bike and going for a ride.
for not embracing the love that changed my life
for finding that love, that change, like everything worthwhile,
is a struggle, and I struggle with myself, battling like drunken frat boys throwing roundhouse superman punches made of kryptonite that shatters and scatters all around me. poisoning not just me but those caring enough or stupid enough to be standing to close.
so I make grand plans and pray to God I'll never have to follow thru
I listen to the crap that flows from my mind and out of my mouth
flowing downhill and over me before I can escape
and I wonder just what the hell is going on.
just why am I sitting in this room writing?
when I could be outside.
just why the hell am I watching the sun go down from a window
when I could be watching it from the top of the hill

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A bit upsetting

This friday was our monthly flock of cycles party ride. The ride was a lot of fun and the after party picnic in the park was so worth the late ride home. There was something I found to be a little upsetting. One of the girls (I won't mention names) was riding home from work and woke up in the hospital with no memory of how she got there,

"Either I wrecked my bike or it was a hit and run."

I am still having trouble believing this. I mean how could someone do something like this. I am glad she is ok, and healed up enough to go on the ride on Friday and yet I'm so upset at what happened that I really don't want to think about the next car that gets a little to close.

This isn't like me. I know this. I work hard to promote a positive outlook on cycling. I truly want more and more people to try cycling. I know that more cyclists mean safer streets.

All great things.

I for one am proud to be part of the vanguard that is out there. Part of the group that is showing people that you can cycle no matter what shape you are in.

I am also learning that being part of the vanguard also means being a target. It means being asked that stupid question everytime people see you

"You rode a bike here?"

It means being a target on the road. Being buzzed by drivers who think you have no right to the road. It means being ignored by police if you try to file charges after you've been threatened on the road. It means thinking that being a hit and run victim is no big deal, it is just something that happens.

Pardon me but that is f--ked up.

I am sorry if this post is a downer. I will try to make the next one more upbeat.

Edit
When I got to work on monday morning I heard about the girl that was struck and killed. At least this time the driver stuck around.  I am hoping that this was just a horrible accident. This unfortunately makes the third death in and around Pittsburgh in the last month. This was just the ones that were killed, not ones like my friend who simply woke up in the hospital with no idea how she got there.

Allow me to make a point here.

In an article on May 24th the Post Gazette  posted the following article.

Review finds Pennsylvania's new bike safety law not closely enforced
A year later, Pittsburgh police are yet to issue first ticket

After that we have Three cycling deaths.

John Pearson Jun 24th
Jeffrey Zietak July 12th
Emily Jancart July 21st

The first two of these deaths are listed as Hit and Run. Last year we had 2 people die within two weeks and there was an uproar nothing was actually done and Penn Ave is just as dangerous now as it was before. Now we have a new law that is being ignored by motorists as well as law enforcement and maybe I'm just out of touch but I don't seem to notice much of an uproar

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A good day

Well not for me. (its been a tough week but a short one!) but still I found myself well warmed when I saw this photo on facebook.

Along with the text "Can someone tell Ian to come pick up his bike?" The white bike there locked up to the pole is Ian's bike. 

It was lost and now is found

A week ago his bike was stolen and yesterday it was spotted, tracked down, locked up, and recovered. The police were called and I'm not sure what all came of that other than the recovery of the bike. I am no longer surprised at what the Cycling community here in Pittsburgh can do. I'm sure there are many bicycles that get stolen and are never seen again (at least by their owners), but when you are a part of a large community who may very well be able to recognize your bike faster than they can recognize you. I have to think that someone is going to spot your bike sooner rather than later. 

That was just what happened. It would of been better if the whole thing ended with someone being frog marched to a cop car in handcuffs, but I for one am glad to see Ian's bike going back to Ian.

I'm gonna call that one a win.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bike Corrals and the Southside of Pittsburgh

Bike Corral at OTB
The other day while I was out riding I decided that a bit of food was in order. (I know what you’re thinking but I don’t always go to OTB for food.) I wanted to get some miles of riding in as well so I tooled on over to the Southside Jimmy Johns, got off my bike and found that I had no place to lock up my bike. not that the bike racks outside of Jimmy John’s were full, but that there were no racks outside of Jimmy John’s

I was just a little surprised. 

Jimmy John’s does employ cyclists as delivery people. Several of my friends deliver for Jimmy John’s and even more of the delivery people are regulars at the local cycling hangout. I had to wonder just why the lack of bike parking. If nothing else a place for the delivery people to secure their bikes.  I took my drink and sandwich and sat facing the front windows so I could keep an eye on my bike. The longer I sat there the more bothered I got about the lack of parking. So I did what anyone would do. 

I fired up my phone and hit facebook. I send Jimmy John’s the following message:

Fatguy
No bike parking outside your South Side pittsburgh shop. Why? South Side is cycling Mecca in pittsburgh. You can do better than this.

To which I got a quick response.

Jimmy John’s
I don't know, but I do love bikers and bikers love Jimmy John's! Thanks for the feedback Terry

On the inside I knew that bike parking has not been a high priority in Pittsburgh, and I was willing to accept that we need to strive for more but accept what we can get. That was until the car that was parked in front of the store pulled away leaving an open Parking space. 

Just the size of a bike corral. 

I’m betting the people in the store could hear the gears turning as I visualized a bike corral in place of the open parking slot.. The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. The bike trail on the south side is broken up (in my mind) into three parts. The first part is the station Square portion of the trail that runs from the Duquesne Incline past the hounds field, station square and behind the cement factory. The Second part runs from S4th street (just past the terminal properties) thru riverfront Park and down to Hot Metal Bridge. The Third part of the trail runs from Hot Metal bridge to Sandcastle Waterpark in the Waterfont in Homestead.

Station Square has some bike parking and the Waterfront has to many problems to go into in this article. 

Right now I'm focused on the Southside and the southside trail. I am defining the southside as east carson st from s10th to Hot metal Street, and the southside trail as the section of the trail from s4th street to Hot metal St. First a little information about the trail. Exits and Entrances to the trail are limited to 4th 9th 18th and 26th streets. So it seems that it would be advantageous to have bike corrals at the start of the Southside (Near 10th st.) in the middle of the Southside (Near 18th st) and at the end of the Southside (Near 26th st) 

Now back to what started this all Jimmy Johns in located at 1717 East Carson St. the nearest bike corral is up between 25th and 26th. So that means they are located almost next to where the bike trail empties onto to carson. So in my mind this would be a perfect place to locate a Bike Corral. This got me wondering just how does one go about getting a Bike Corral placed on the street. So again I fired up my phone and went to Email instead of Facebook and asked the people at Bike PGH. Eric at bikePGH outlined the different plans 

1. Free bike rack from City Request Program. - This may take awhile.  Since the meter removal, the City has been using all of their racks on the districts that lost meters. The program is on a bit of a hold, but they could still apply, it might just take a long awhile.

2. Purchase bike rack, install yourself.  - They can get this done really quick. Long story short: It's a $25 permit, the city checks out the site to make sure it's not in the way and ADA compliant, then you buy and install yourself.  all info is located on our site, including the forms to download: http://bikepgh.org/purchase-bike-racks/ 

3. Corral: There's a permit application, as well as getting the permission of the neighbors on your block, but I haven't figured out how they are supposed to "formally" get the approval. If it could work out, it will be free. HOWEVER, it will no doubt take a long time, especially considering the Southside has a corral, with a second already on the way.  They gotta spread the love to other neighborhoods first.  

On City owned streets, ie Highland Ave Mad Mex.  There's a corral request form, which one technically needs to get from the Bike/Ped Coordinator, but I can send it to them as well.  They need to get their neighbors on board, because the last thing the city wants is complaints, and they are supposed to demonstrate that there is a need, as well as showing that there are no viable off-street options (like if they have their own parking lot, for instance). They then have to sign a maintenance agreement stating that they will help keep the corral free of trash and snow, and notify the city if there is an abandoned bike or if the corral is struck by a car or something.  The City then creates a work order, and eventually it gets installed.

If the street is owned by PennDOT, like E.Carson st there is one more step.  The city will need to apply for what's called a Highway Occupancy Permit (HOP), which adds at least a month to the process.  This will most likely be done by the City, but it also means that PennDOT will need to review the site and the plans. They also want to be able to remove it if need be, say for some major plowing effort or repaving or something.

I will always be a fan of Bike Corrals over Bike Racks on the sidewalk for several reasons. 

First, off bikes don’t belong on the sidewalk. Cyclists have to constantly fight for acceptance on the roads. I’m not saying that having to lock your bike up on the sidewalk is a step backwards but I do feel like it is a solid step sideways.  

Second, if we want to increase the number of people cycling on the roads (and we all know that more cyclists on the roads means safer roads for everyone) then we need provide the infrastructure that the General Population will be able to use. 

Third, I think it would be better to concentrate the bike corrals to a neighborhood like the Southside instead of “Spreading the Love around to different neighborhoods. Maybe I’m wrong but I believe that by putting 3-4 bike corrals equally spaced out along carson from 12th to 26th you will begin to see what kind of impact this has on the neighborhood as a whole. We could use that kind of data to find out what works and what doesn’t. This will help other neighborhoods create these cycling friendly areas with minimal impact and maximum effect. 

Simply put I want people to cycle because it is simpler and easier to ride to the southside, park your bike and shop then jump back on your bike ride the 6 blocks and lock your bike up there and shop some more because it is easier than it would be to get in the car, fight traffic, find a parking spot, and then only shop in that small section of the southside because you don’t want to have get back in the car, fight traffic and look for another parking spot eight blocks away.  

If you want people to start riding bikes then you have to do three things. Make riding a bike easier, cheaper, and more convenient than a car. I don’t believe that Bike Corrals are some kind of magic bullet that is going to change the inherent car culture in Pittsburgh but I think it will be a large step in the right direction.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fatguy on vacation part 1


Well it is at the end of my first day on vacation, and in the morning I took a ride with my Nephew (who was holding the camera. I had to rock the old school Flock of Cycles T-shirt. The ride in the morning was refreshing, it was a bit chilly (we will call it brisk) and the wind was brutal. I thin breakfast, a ten mile ride and home by 8:30 is a none to shabby way to start off the week. Yesterday was a partial day so I only got a 4 mile ride in to the beer store and back.

My nephew and I made it to the nearest Fishing pier and decided to try our luck I have had some luck fishing at the pier, mostly a freaking looking flat fish called a skate. Here is a pic of my nephew with his first ever fish. Yeah it is an ugly fish, but it fights you to bring it in. I found out just how hard it can fight when it broke my rod in half and made me pull it up by hand.

So yeah I'm down one rod.

It was a trying day after that but nothing a nap and a huge plate of various BBQ'd meats couldn't improve. After dinner I felt restless and restless is something I know how to deal with. So I snuck out an hopped on my bike and headed out as the sun was setting and the wind seemed to have calmed down. 8.77 miles later I pulled back into the house and I am sitting in the kitchen writing this.  Soon it is off to bed and netflix a movie while the muscles unwind.

A Ranty Aside

On my evening ride I had toyed with the idea of just riding to a local bar and having a few adult potables. However as I rode past the first five or six bars without seeing anywhere to lock up a bike I gave up on the idea and started really paying attention to the shops and stores I was passing as I rode. I saw so few spots to lock up bikes that they stood out.

1 bike shop
1 pizza shop
1 bar (closed)

I find this very strange in a place (Outer banks N.C.) that the roads are not only flat but almost un-nerving in their straightness. (it is disconcerting to look down the road and see cars coming for miles.) When you take into account the fact the whole area is dependent on the tourist trade it is even more shocking that so many places not only lack bike racks but anywhere to lock up a bike at all. Maybe things change during the tourist season which starts next week.

But for some reason I doubt it.

Ranty Aside over

So mileage so far for the week 22.77 miles.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Unsettling


Please forgive me if this post sounds a little... off. I had something unsettling happen to me just a few minutes ago. I’m still not sure how to handle what I feel about it.

I’ve decided that best thing I can do is be honest with you all and tell you what happened and by the telling try to understand what it is I feel. I am going on vacation soon and I am very excited about it. I was getting my clothes together and packing some away and sorting others for laundry so I can pack them away. (watching Iron Man while I folded and sorted clothes.) I came across a pair of jeans that still had their tags on them and for a moment I was excited to think I had bought a pair of jeans and forgot about them. I looked at the tag and realized why they still had the tags on them.  They were too small when I bought them (I must of grabbed the wrong pair when I bought them) My excitement turned to despair when I realized this. They were 50’s (thats inches for those in the know) and I was wearing a pair of 56’s.

Baggy 56’s but still seeing a pair of jeans that big and knowing they were too small was very upsetting. Still my jeans were baggy so I decided to try them on and see just how small they were on me. I didn’t realize it for a long moment that I could button them and zip them up.

I almost cried.

They were a little snug but I could button them, walk around and even sit down with them. It was as I sat there feeling more comfortable that I felt I had a right to that I began to feel unsettled. even now it is a feeling that I don’t understand. I  feel like I have convinced myself over the years that I deserve to be the big fat guy that I am. That I don’t deserve to truly happy or to feel comfortable with myself. I wonder now just what I’m going to do to sabotage this feeling that is just starting to make itself known.

I guess I’ll just keep riding.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A good bad weekend

Now just so you know I am trying very hard to keep this blog from being a boring "I did this and I saw this and I ate this" blog. I want to provide you with post that are both enjoyable and informative. This is why I have been taking the time to do the interviews and reviews. That being said, this post is going to be a little light on content but there are things I just have to get off my chest.


Been a mixture of good and bad this weekend. I went to both thick bikes and OTB on friday. I got to have a good dinner and hang out with my friends Paul and Jenny as well as have a wonderful conversation with one of the most intelligent people I know. All while enjoying beer and just a little tequila. It was a great night. Both at thick bikes and OTB I was welcomed by name and I still find it strange. This may sound a little self deprecating but I am still not used to being a part of a group instead of on the outside.

It is good if stange to me.

Dinner and friends went well even if I did for the second time that week end up flying back to town in order to catch my bus. (For everyones information if you ride across the Smithfield St bridge on the shared sidewalk/bike path at 9:45 at night at 20 mph ringing your bell and screaming "COMING THRU!!" You will cause some people just a little stress) To the girl who clung to the railing screaming I am very sorry but the last bus was at 9:55.

Karma is a bitch

I woke up the next morning sick with a sore throat and ended up missing the Keg Ride for East End Brewing. (that ended up at Schenly Park Dammit!!!)  and only got 26.8 nmiles this week which leaves me at 203.61 miles for the year and 123.3 miles under my goal. (GRRRRR!!!!) I am hoping to finish several interviews, and reviews (a very nice multi tool and my new Headlight)

One last note. If you are reading this and want more I have been posting a lot of small things at the Fatguy Orange bike Facebook Page so if you want more head on ever there and like the page so you don't miss anything.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Before and After

This is me a month before I started Riding my bike. March 24th 2006. What you see in my hands there is the remains of a Super Battleship. A 27" Hoagie and yeah I ate it all. I almost didn't want to show this picture to anyone. Just one look at my face and I can't believe it.

Here is a picture I took when I got home. I know I'm still a great big guy but I am so happy that I am not that great big guy in the first photo. I can only guess that I in the first photo I was 430 - 425 pounds and now I think I'm around 350 - 360 

All of a sudden I feel pretty damn good.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Interview with Marcel Means



In the past 5-6 years I have met some very amazing people in the cycling community. Many of whom I would proudly claim to have kept me cycling when I wanted to give up. They have encouraged me when I faced a hill I didn't want climb. They have ridden with me and pushed me to ride farther than I wanted and I ended up enjoying the ride.

One of my first group rides I went on was a Flock of Cycles Ride. I was so afraid I would be singled out for being some old fat dude that was holding everyone back. As I watched people half my age and a third my size show up I was even more convinced that my fears were realized.

I was wrong.

People whom I had rode with once came up and called me by name. While we rode I always had people around me as we talked and got to know each other, we started going up a hill (a rare occurrence on a flock ride) as I got slower and slower the people I rode with also rode slower and slower, keeping with me and encouraging me.

This is something I will not forget anytime soon.

The Flock of Cycles has held a special place in my heart since that first ride. Now I got the chance to interview Marcel Means, the current President of Flock of Cycles and easily the nicest man I have ever met. Normally I would write something at the end of the interview to wrap things up. I think that Marcel's final comment says it all

Enjoy the Interview.

First a little background. How long have you been into cycling and how/why did you start riding?

I have been riding full time since 2008, after my wife bought me a bike as a present. My wife has always been active and wanted to get me into fitness. She bought me a bike because she felt I would enjoy cycling and help me to get more active. I was hooked fell in love with cycling, sold one of our cars and started commuting to work by bike.

What kind of riding do you enjoy?

I enjoy the Tuesday Team Decaf rides. It is a moderate to fast pace 25 mile ride that starts on Tuesdays during the summer. It starts in front of Tazzo D’Oro coffee shop in Highland Park.

Do you commute on your bike? 
Describe an average day of riding?

I commute daily to work. My commute to work and back is a total of about 8 miles. I also commute to school. My total commute to school and back is about 20 miles. My commute is peaceful and helps me clear my head. I commute all year round. I have commuted in below 0 temperatures, snow, ice, rain, and heat. I ride no matter the weather and I enjoy every minute of it.

You mentioned riding in the cold and wet weather. How do you prepare and ride in these challenging conditions?

I started by reading the Bike Pittsburgh Message Board, learning what other all-season bike riders do to prepare. I also read lots of different cycling blogs for advice. Mostly I have learned through trial and error. Over the last few years I have learned what works and what doesn't work. I suppose the winter commute takes the most planning. I usually wake up a little earlier in the morning to gear up in my winter cycling clothing and head out. It is a lot easier than people think, and winter cycling doesn't make me a super hero, it just means I read up on what apparel to wear before I head out.

What kind of things do you enjoy aside from riding?

I enjoy spending time with my family. I have a very loving wife and a joyful daughter. I also enjoy anything that involves fitness. I am currently pursuing a career in fitness and health.

What is “Flock of cycles” and when did you get involved with it?


Here is the official Flock of Cycles Mission.
Flock of Cycles strives to promote safe road use by increasing public understanding of the presence of bicycle riders on the roadways and encouraging responsible cycling practices through exemplification and education.  We are working to bring people together and make Pittsburgh a fun and safe place to ride bikes.   We are an organization with no paid staff, fully supported by community volunteers. Flock of Cycles is about the community. It’s about family and friends. We love cycling, we love Pittsburgh and we love the cycling community.

How/why was the “Flock of cycles” Formed?


I was not part of Flock in the beginning. Nick Drombosky created Flock, he had the vision of educating both drivers and cyclist of the joys of cycling and safer roads. He built Flock into the great organization it is today. My involvement came last year. Nick was moving on to new projects and needed someone to take over the Organization. Myself and a few others answered the call knowing how important Flock of Cycles is to the Community.

How would you describe the monthly party ride / what can someone expect on their first ride?

The monthly rides are best described as fun. The Pittsburgh Bike Part Rides are filled with great people, Music, Food, Dancing, Costumes, and bikes. It is a family friendly ride (bring your kids). We ride together we ride slowly, the pace is slow so that we can have conversations while we ride.

Marcel at Bikefest Party

What are the rules for the monthly party ride?

We obey all traffic laws. We also are respectful to the community, other cyclist, pedestrians, and vehicles. We ride safe and respectful. 


What are the goal of Flock of Cycles?

Our goal is to help make the streets safer for cyclist and educate both drivers and cyclist about safe commuting.

What are you trying to promote?

Simply the love of cycling.


What have been some of the challenges you have faced since taking charge of Flock of Cycles?

The transition from the old Flock of Cycles Board of directors to the new has been a very smooth transition. Thankfully Nick is still around as our advisor when we need him. We are a group of volunteers that provide a free service, but at times the free service cost money. At times that can be challenging.


What can people do to help Flock of Cycles?

They can donate time or money. We always need volunteers. We also have projects we are working on, exciting projects, that once we get funding we will launch.

Can you tell us about some of these projects?

The exciting new projects. Every time I think about them I smile. Flock of Cycles has always been destined to be more than the once a month Pittsburgh Party Rides. We are about giving to the community. We are working on projects that are about safe cycling for everyone of all ages. At these early stages it would be premature for me to reveal these projects and events we have planned. I hope in the near future Flock will make an official statement or unveiling. All I can say is we plan to get more involved with the community in our efforts to make Pittsburgh a fun place to ride bikes.

What has affected you the most in your time as president of Flock of Cycles?

The love I have received from the community. I feel the cycling community has welcomed and accepted me with great love. I am so thankful for that.

What, in your opinion is the most important part of the Flock Party ride?
i.e. what makes a Flock ride a Flock ride?

The people. The people are great, diverse. I love the cycling community. Flock wouldn’t be Flock without the great people who come out to ride with us.

What do you think about rides such as Critical Mass and Alleycat races that are known for their rather loose interpretation of traffic laws?

With anything you only hear about when bad things happen. Alleycat races and Critical Mass are important parts of the cycling community. With anything if a few (or one) do something crazy that means everyone does. Not all cyclist run lights, and not all Alleycat or Critical Mass rides are crazy.

Have you noticed any anti-cyclist actions from people, while on a flock ride or while riding during your normal day?

More on my everyday commute than on a Flock ride. I have noticed a slight decline in angry drivers over the last year. With more bike lanes and awareness things have gotten a little easier. There is still a long way to go.

How do you deal with it?

I ride safe and predictable. I also kill them with kindness. I am not a combative person, I defuse the situation by not engaging.

How if at all has the hit and run deaths of last summer and the attack on the cyclist affected the way you ride?

The hit and run assaults on cyclist makes me realize how important our work at Flock of Cycles is. The hit and runs have strengthened my resolve. I  ride more, and I am more determined to help make the streets of Pittsburgh safer for everyone.

Many cyclists believe that with the growing number of cyclist there is also a growing anti-cycling sentiment among the general public?
What can we as cyclists do to promote a greater acceptance of cycling among non-cyclist?

Stay the course. Don’t back down, cycling is here to stay, Historically our country has fought against change, or people who are seen as different. A cycling civil rights is on the horizon and I plan to be apart of it.

If there was just one message that you would like to communicate about cycling what would it be?

Cycling is for everyone, despite your age, race or fitness level. Everyone is welcome. Cycling =Love, peace, and happiness.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Brunch - April 14 2013


I'm starting something new here on FGOB and I'm calling it Sunday Brunch. Think of it as a wrap up of the previous week. Things I saw,did, read, and noticed that didn't seem to rate a posting all on their own. Think of it as a buffet of little tasty tidbits.

Clean Bottle Vs Regular Bottle
Yesterday while washing dishes I had gathered up my water bottles and decided to give them all a good scrubbing, followed by santizing them in the santizing solution I use for brewing. I wahsed the bottles including 2 clean bottles, let them sit in the sanitizer for 15 min then put them in the dish drain to dry. I didnt think of them again until this morning when I was putting things away. I was surprised to see there was still droplets of water inside the regular water bottles and the Clean Bottles were both completly dry. Always good to see something that does what it claims to.

I have this problem with water bottles, I'm almost ashamed to admit it. I can never remember them. I washed 12 of them yesterday and the reason I own so many is that when I leave my house for a bike ride it is even chances that I forgot  to put a water bottle on my bike.  It is more than an even chance that while I forgot to put the water bottle on my bike it is sitting on the table filled and ready to go. I sometimes wonder if my bottle feel let down, if they got all excited about getting to go on a ride then i just abandonded them. I kinda feel like a jerk now.

Classic Car Cruise.
Yesterday I went to a Classic Car Cruise in the front of the Penn Hills High School. It seems the Musical this year is a mix of classic 50's songs, Hence the car cruise. (did I mention that Girl Scout Cookies were on sale) Not only did I go but I wore my Thick Bikes Shirt and while walking around with my 6 year old nephew he asked me "What kind of car is this" pointing to a car. I was going to answer "A red one" Since is was red but instead I told him "it's a car like all the rest. it runs on dead Dinosaurs, Pollutes the air and makes you fat." I'm still not sure how I feel about that answer.

Cycling Expo
Last sunday I went to the cycling expo. It was nice and I expected to write a whole post about it but there really wasn't all that much to write about. I don't know what I was expecting but it was heavy on the selling and light on the advocacy. (Flock of cycles was there and I had a great time hanging with my friends, Bike PGH was also there) I got a subscription to DirtRag Magazine and picked up a new headlight for my bike. (Cateye eco) that I will write about as soon as I get a chance to try it out.

Milage
My milage for the week is a shameful 6.21 miles. I wouldnt even have that if not for the laps I did around the school today.  I find it interesting that I can go for a ride on the trail alone or with friends and the miles click by as I'm enjoying myself. but ride a few laps around the school and I'm going crazy after the first couple of laps. I rode until I couldnt take it anymore.

The Wheel Mill
I saw on facebook on friday that The Wheel Mill has opened (indoor mountain biking). Yet another place to mock me. I wonder how long till I make it down there for a little riding. I also wonder how long from the time I get there to the time I wreck and kill myself.  I'm betting to long for the first and way to short for the second.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bicycle Dreams - Full Version


Photo Credit: Transporte Ativo via Compfight cc

Here is the full "finished" version of the poem. I say "Finished" since I am always tweaking and changing my poems. Especially if I get the chance to perform them live. (Not often) Here is the Poem, if I can find a way to record it and post it I will do so.


Bicycle Dreams

Trapped,
The walls of my cubicle close in on me.

Institutional incarceration

4 walls - 40 hours - 5 days
Indoors, while sun and wind mock me
During all too short lunchtime reprieves
The dreams begin - Bicycle dreams
Dreams of escape and freedom
Dreams of trails trees and sharrows
Sitting at my desk
I hear the ticking of the chain
I hear the hum of the rubber on the road
I dream of escaping these walls
I dream Bicycle Dreams

2 wheels - 24 gears - and open skies
Dreams of inconsequential destinations and
Life changing journeys.
Trying to get lost and working at staying that way
Lost to the world, Lost with my friends
Each of us dreaming our bicycle dreams separately
Together.
Dreams fulfilled of trails taken
Dreams regretted of those passed by
Nightmares of hills of climbing to the stars
And descending into the valleys
Wind whipped and laughing giving voice to silent dreams.

Bicycle dreams - Frames dancing
multicolored fantasies of steel and carbon
sliding across sunset skies on
whispered wheels of wishes
On tubes like hearts
once broken
now

Pulled out
Patched and
RePlaced
Made stronger for the damage

Bicycle dreams
outpacing reality and its fear
outpacing my weak and feeble excuse for a life

A life
that clings to me,
           drags at me
                  pulls me to the side.

That weak and feeble excuse for a life
That lies to me
That tells me

I’m too old
          I’m too slow
                I’m too fat

Half truths that taunt me in my weakness
I am Old, Slow and Fat
But I get on my bike and ride
And thats no dream

Im thinking I would really like to make a video to go along with this.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bias

This had been going around facebook today and when I got home from work I took a look at it.

Bias against cyclists is Rampant and unfair (Michigan Auto Law)

This is no surprise to me. I have seen it growing for the past few years. People who would never advocate hurting anyone will say the coldest most psycotic things about a cyclist that has "Made" them a few seconds late. When I hear these things I often think about offering to do the same things to their own mother, sisters, daughters.

You would be surprised how upset they get at the idea of someone saying something so cold about someone they care about. I guess turnabout isn't really fair play. Here are a few quotes from the article.

"The lawyers defending the trucking company refused to accept any responsibility for his death. They said he caused his own death, and then they said it didn’t really matter because an 83-year-old man isn’t worth very much money."

"There were many people who were quite willing to assign blame against him for just riding a bicycle. And there are many people willing to forgive clear negligence if the victim is on a bicycle."

I see this all to often. During most of my family gatherings I find myself talking to one of my relatives who will eventually bring up that he has seen someone on a bike do something illegal (run a red light, blow a stop sign) but doesn't understand what I am doing when I walk to the window and look out on the road and say "That car is speeding, and that car is speeding, and that car is speeding"When I bluntly point out that he is more than willing to break traffic laws that don't suit him but get angry when someone else does the exact same thing. You may think I'm getting a little ranty!

I am.

If this bothers you, well tough. I'm not going to pretend to understand why a person can kill another person and it is called murder or negligent homicide or manslaughter, unless the killer is in a car and the victim is on a bicycle. Then it's a 500$ fine and 3 points. Besides it was clearly the cyclist fault since he was riding on "my" road.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pedal for the Pantry


Saturday was the day of the Pedal for the Pantry and let say first off that I was not only humbled by the number of people showed up and participated, but Gobsmacked at the number and diversity of the people who came out.  Above is a picture I took of part of Team Fatguy heading to Polish Hill and to our second stop (Wholey's Market). There was around a hundred riders join in the fun and Team Fatguy had 14 people going out for the slow, easier ride. (Map posted below of approx route)


Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRide

What really grabbed me about the Pedal for the Pantry ride was the numbers of different people. I saw your typical "Line of Sight" bike messengers, your typical "Full Kit" roadies and several people on BSO's who showed up and had a great time.  Both the longer ride and the shorter ride were modeled after and Alleycat style of race. Each ride had a manifest - A list of stores and Items that should be purchased at each store. Riders who got to all the stores and back to the endpoint of the Race first won.
My first ever Spoke Card
However it should be known that unlike many Alleycat races it was strongly suggested that all rules of the rode should be followed. Even to the point of announcing that anyone caught doing otherwise would be Disqualified.

You might be wondering how the day went, and how much food was collected by all these crazy riders?

I'm getting there.

You see it became "A thing" to tell the people working at the registers (and those waiting in line with all of us) what we were up to. I ended up talking to the guy in line in front of me about what we were doing and what a great day it had turned out to be.  As I was walking out of the store he approached me and handed me a monetary donation for the food bank.  I know I can't be the only one this happened to. The day was full of stories

The guy who walked down to the store and brought back several cases of canned goods just to get a better chance at the raffles. 

The Father and son from Erie who came down for a film festival and ended up coming along for the ride. 

The Girl who wrecked and still came in third place for the woman. 

If someone did the ride and ended up without a story they simply weren't trying.

So how did we do?

 If you're thinking that looks like a a lot of stuff to haul by bike you would be right. The final totals for the night were.

987 pounds of non-perishible food
187 pounds of non-food (diapers, laundry detergent, and bathroom tissue)
1164 pounds of donated goods gathered & delivered by bike inside of 4 hours.
-- According to the Food bank people it is a weeks worth of Groceries for 200 Families.

Again I repeat myself by saying I was Gobsmacked.

It has taken me these past couple of days to think about what I saw and try to find these words. I know that I wasn't the only one staring at all this food with tears in my eyes thinking about all the people riding all over the city collecting the food and bringing it back to make sure that the people who need it can get it. Just some quick napkin math tells me that the group rode about 2300 miles most in small groups or ones and twos.

I wanted this post to be about what a great group of cyclists we have in Pittsburgh, but the truth is we aren't anything special (at least things like this should be the norm) A need was made known and more importantly someone showed us a way to meet that need. All of us know there are people in need but we all feel overwhelmed at the idea of doing something on our own. But as a group we end up doing so much more than we ever thought we could.

I could go on to tell you about the prizes that were awarded or list the people who won prizes. Then I realized that those things don't really matter and I would like to believe (I do believe) that just as many people would show up if there were no prizes. Those who raced hard raced hard because that is just the kind of people they are. The others rode the way they do because that is just the kind of people they (we) are. 

I for one can't wait to do this again.