Thursday, June 28, 2012

I reach my workplace by...

A bicycle, naturally. However, as you may expect, this is still quite rare and most of Americans prefer (or have to) drive. This recent poll on Slashdot shows the current trend:
Slashdot may not be the most representative source for the entire country, since it is mostly read by tech workers (engineers, IT people, scientists, etc.) but it probably shows the real life situation quite well. Most of us drive to work (46%), while public transportation is essentially as popular (16%) as walking or cycling (19%). Only a minority can work from home, remotely (7%).

It would be interesting to see this poll done in other countries. Here, in U.S. we chose to live so far away in the suburbs that we became dependent on cars, as there are no other means of transportation available nearby. I am pretty sure the 16% and 19% bars would be much longer in Europe where people generally live closer to city centers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On my way back home...

I had an eventful way back home yesterday afternoon. Usually, I just ride my bike along Rt 2A and... nothing happens, so there is really nothing worth writing about. Sure, I enjoy my ride, especially on the way back since there is a 2-mile long section with lots of traffic and cars following each other bumper to bumper. I enjoy it, since I am glad I am not stuck in this traffic. But yesterday was different.

First, I witnessed something that could have lead to a serious accident. Far ahead of me, I noticed a girl on a bike who was waiting for the green light and stopped to the right of the column of waiting cars. Once the light turned green, cars started moving and she attempted to do so as well. I don't know if this was stress, lack of experience or the large (and likely heavy) pocketbook she had in the front-mounted basket (I suspect all three), but she didn't get on the bike right and she toppled with her bike to the left... in front of a coming car. She was fine and the car stopped quickly as it just started moving. It looked a bit scary for a moment and she probably was a bit shaken as she decided to continue her trip by walking her bike on the sidewalk.

Then, as I was approaching another intersection and I was going pretty fast, I noticed that the light was already yellow. This made me think that I was risking entering the intersection on red so I pulled my brakes. Next, I heard a loud "Wow!" behind me. Yes, that was another cyclist who anticipated that I would run the red light just as he was planning to do. He was forced to stop right next to me. He didn't say anything but I felt like saying: "Yes, I have good brakes and no, i don't run red lights."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bicycles: good for any weather?

We, city cyclists, like to say that there is no bad weather for cycling, only bad clothing. If it rains, wear a rain jacket, waterproof shoes, pants, etc. If its' hot, wear light, loose clothes and a hat (or a helmet, if you prefer).
Heat wave (Source: Google Images)

Just yesterday, I had a business meeting at work, which required me to wear a little less casual clothes than usual. Fortunately, the dress code was so called business-casual, which means that a full suit and a tie was not required. Light suit pants and a shirt was enough. I wrote "fortunately", since this week we have a typical New England summer in Boston: very high humidity and air temperature of 35deg C (95deg F). And this is where I am getting to the point of this post. Is bicycle good for any weather if situation requires you to wear business attire?

I can't imagine riding a bike in a weather like yesterday, wearing a full business suit. There would be no way not to get sweaty. The only solution would be to pack the suit in a bag, attach it to the bike (not trivial - suit bags are large), wear something completely different (shorts and a t-shirt), and change after getting to work (perhaps after taking a shower). But then, why bother? It would be easier to either drive (A/C on, please) or take a bus (hopefully the A/C is on). I think it gets actually easier in winter - you may be cold a bit if you dress too light, but not sweaty. Even in a suit.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day consequences

After yesterday's Father's Day cookout I feel like I gained a pound. Fortunately, everyday's workout helps tremendously:
It's good to be back on a bike!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sleeping beauty on your bike

Since our fridge looked sad and empty yesterday, as usual at the end of the week, we decided to take a family ride to Wilson Farm in Lexington. We got our bikes ready, put Dr J in his bike seat and we were good to go. He was really happy to ride on a bike again but I guess that not being able to see forward was making him impatient. Once a while he was lifting up my t-shirt like he wanted to figure out if he would see this way the road ahead.

Unfortunately, on the way back the same thing happened as the last time - he fell asleep. You can't blame him. He is only 16 months old and kids at his age usually take a solid 2-hour nap in the middle of the day. I don't know if you have ever seen a child who falls asleep from exhaustion. Let's just say that you could likely fire a cannon next to him and it wouldn't wake him up. There is absolutely no way to keep him up and there is no way to keep him sleeping in the bike seat. Toddlers are top-heavy, especially when wearing a helmet. It wouldn't be safe for them to sleep in upright position. There are some rear-mounted bike seats that recline, but they do not recline enough to allow for a comfortable nap.

I quickly realized that as great as the bike seats can be (we really like ours!) they are probably designed for a little older children, who don't necessary sleep that much during the day. Obviously, if I want to continue to ride with my son, I have to start looking for another solution.
 Baby on bike (Source: unknown, found on Google Images)

 Baby on board (Source: unknown, found on Google Images)

The ultimate solution is what's shown above - a specialized cargo bike able to carry large loads and children. There is enough room on such bike to install a mini bed for your sleeping beauty. Unfortunately, it is what it is - a SPECIALIZED solution. Expensive, and quite permanent. A better choice for occasional rides would be simply a bicycle trailer. They are not inexpensive either but they can be attached when needed and can be used for carrying cargo loads if necessary, as well. So now, I keep wondering, should I try a trailer instead? I knew that having children would not be exactly a cheap hobby...

How would you solve the problem of transporting a sleeping baby on your bike?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rolling resistance

This morning I finally decided to use my floor pump and properly inflate tires on my Schwinn. As I mentioned before, I have the worst tube valves on this bike ever. Fitting the pump chuck on such valves is really a challenge.
My Schwinn's Schrader valves have no nuts securing the threaded valve stem on the rim.

This is why I usually use my tiny Lezyne pump to inflate these tires. This pump comes with a threaded fitting so I can easily screw it on the Schrader valve instead of trying to push it on. Unfortunately, the pump has no pressure gauge so I had no idea if my tires were properly inflated and this morning I realized how bad the situation was. For the last several weeks I must have been riding on semi-flat tires, deflated to about 1 bar. After properly inflating them, I was good to go. What a difference this makes! I got to work in no time.

So remember - check you tires! Don't be a victim of rolling resistance.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

An-Atomica on sale

In case you are looking for a decent sporty saddle for your road bike - Selle An-Atomica has some of their Titanico saddles on sale.
Red Titanico with Cr-Mo rails (Image from manufacturer's website)

These comfy saddles cost usually around $190 but you can get them now for $135. The only problem is that only red, golden, white, and pink ones are on sale. If you prefer a classic black leather you will unfortunately have to pay the full price.

I thought I share it, since even though I have nothing in common with the manufacturer of Titanico saddles I really like mine and I think it is worth the money.