Thursday, May 31, 2007
Calling all Cyclists!
I've been asked recently about my choice of Reno Rambler and the title of this blog so I thought it a good time to throw this out there...(besides the obvious-I'm from Reno and I like to Ramble on about whatever)
The Reno Ramblers were one of the earliest bicycle clubs in the area, predating the most known bicycle club (the Wheelmen) by about 5 or 6 years. The earliest mention of the Reno Ramblers that I have come across is from the Daily Nevada State Journal dated Wednesday, June 4th, 1890. You can read the article by clicking on the image. I love that they elected officers and specifically that they had a "bugler" which was pretty standard for these early bicycle clubs which were quasi-military in organization. Many early articles on bicycling in this area mention the campaign to build a track for competitions at the State Fair grounds. (Wouldn't a velodrome in Reno still be a great idea?)
My favorite line in the article is:
"The streets and roads around Reno are excellent for this sport, and any member of the club will be pleased to give any information to intended riders, or those who comtemplate purchasing wheels." Reno still has great roads and trails to offer cyclists and a pretty remarkably diverse group of cyclists.
I've been wondering if it is possible that the Reno Ramblers could be reborn. Is there interest in another club besides the pro pedalers or the wheelmen? It seems like the emphasis could be different. Perhaps a Randonneuring/Brevet club? Or maybe as an urban cycling club focused on the challenges of commuting in this area? Advocacy? Maybe just the social club it once was. Whatever the focus is I'm hoping that we can have a bugler.
So what say you, fair reader? Anybody interested in a new bike club in town? Throw me your 2 cents.... I'm willing to get the ball rolling but I'm curious if there is interest out there?
So here I am. I've completed the Bike to Work Challenge and it seems the appropriate time to reflect on the experience and what I can take away from it. First and foremost, it took a little while to get into the groove but once my body got used to rising at 5 am it was not too tough. I felt tired occasionally but that would mostly come from my not getting to bed when I should so I felt rested and fresh for the ride and my hours of teaching. My success in riding all 22 days came more from being able to take the 10 minutes of prep time the night before to make sure my commute clothes, lunch, and bike were ready to go. It's been said before but as a cyclist, when you have one of those days where you feel tired and dread getting on the bike, the best cure is throwing the leg over your bike anyway and a few pedal strokes later your brain reminds you with an, "Oh, yeah, this is why I love to ride my bike" feeling.
This morning I opted for my road bike. It's a very lightweight Della Santa. I ended up shaving about 10 minutes off my previous fastest time. Not bad considering I seemed to have caught a little cold.
Over the course of the month clothing wise I never really had issues. Cycling specific clothes can really be the best option (unless you plan to stop off at the grocery store on the way home). The one day of "weather" that we had, the snow from earlier this month, was never really an issue due mostly to how phenomenal my Australian wool tights are. The rest of the time the riding was fun, beautiful, and a nice way to spend 45 minutes before work. Pretty much what you'd expect with May Reno weather.
My route is a mostly flat, by Reno standards, 12 mile ride (unless you count Windy Hill as a climb -- I don't).
The final tally of commute miles was: 528.
With gas prices being what they are I saved approximately $75 in gas this month. I've been trying to figure out just how much this month long experiment reduced my carbon footprint but haven't come up with a good online calculator that makes me feel confident of the numbers. Regardless it's definitely better than the 528 miles of driving my car. Better for my karma as well.
Over the course of the month I also went from seeing almost no riders out to dozens each morning. A welcome site. A good set of lights and a bit better clothing would easily extend the commute season for many of those folks.
The bottom line for me is that I will be doing this again next May, and will most certainly be commuting by bike regularly in the Fall once the new school year starts. I started off this challenge by saying that it was better for the planet, my wallet, my health, the community, etc. But I also noted that it is good for my own headspace in terms of decompressing after a long day and preparing my head to be in the right place when I teach. Ultimately, this month confirmed to me that commuting by bike makes me a better, more positive and open person. What's not to love about that?
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I've been listening to the new Delays album. Greg Gilbert has the voice that makes you say: "Dude, that's a Dude?!" An amazing falsetto. The album has been played constantly on my rides and I can't quite figure out if it's because they seem to be channeling mid 80s a-ha or in spite of it. Very disco, very fun, and I just can't stop listening to it. The rest of the album sounds very little like this first single -Valentine. You'll have to judge for yourself if that's a good or a bad thing. They just make me giggle because of how fun the music is.
The playlist on my ipod has been quite eclectic this past month on my rides in and home. The new families of birds that I have watched grow up have been a constant source of joy in the mornings in particular. With that in mind I'd like to note the very first performance the Eels classic, "I Like Birds." The witty banter between E and Jon Brion in this clip is a hoot!
I broke the 500 mile barrier today - Total miles:
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I had two people email this photo to me who don't know each other and live 300 miles away from each other within a 15 minute timespan. I'm thinking that means I need to post it. Everybody knows that you can't really stop a determined bike thief. All you can do is make it as inconvenient as possible for him/her. This is what I would call inconvenient...but not so practical.
Commute miles: 480
2 days to go!
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Why would I post about this event? Because it is directly related to an important and sad day in Reno cycling history of course. This article from the RGJ mentions:
"The church's cornerstone was placed in 1907 and the church opened in 1908. A fire caused the ceiling to collapse in 1909, and it reopened in 1910"
What it fails to mention is that the fire originally started in what was the original Reno Wheelmen Cycling Clubhouse. The Pacific Title Champion team had fallen on hard times by 1909 but the clubhouse was a hub of social activity during that time.
A few other images from that glorious time in Reno bicycle history including a photo of the original clubhouse before the church was built and a scan from the newspaper story covering the fire that destroyed the building (photos courtesy of UNR Special Collections):
Friday, May 25, 2007
Well, Bjarne Riis confirms what most cycling fans assumed for the past decade. He admits to doping, including during his 1996 Tour de France victory. Duh!
I'm wondering how much quicker I would get to work if I could stock up on a supply of EPO. Maybe I'd be able to stay in bed an extra 15 minutes in the morning. Of course, my thickened gelatinous blood would be the downside. I guess I'll stick to my oatmeal and espresso breakfast.
3 Days left and I'm feeling pretty ripped. Not as in shape as the last time I did the DeathRide. Not quite the same stamina level. But the daily time trials are doing wonders for my average speed.
Commute miles this month: 456
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I acually didn't realize there was smoke in the air until a couple of miles into my morning commute - right around the point where you can pick up the morning Krispy Kreme smell. Mmmmm! The ride felt effortless today and I even had my second best time in getting to work. It's almost too bad the school year will be over in two weeks. Almost.
432 commute miles this month.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
79km uphill! Now that's a real climb. This fellow is riding a Rivendell Atlantis, one of the best values in bicycles. Ever.
It almost makes me want to try an unsupported tour of some far away land. Having lived in Asia for a while I'm not sure it would be my first choice but it certainly looks beautiful judging from this video.
A historical photo from the early days of the Reno Wheelmen.
408 commute miles and everyone around me seems to be coming down with a summer cold. Is this the fates trying to foil my Bike to Work Challenge? I'm still feeling healthy...knock on wood. 5 more days!
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
This is a pretty amazing website that was forwarded to me. Pump in your car driving statistics and it will give you a better idea of just how much that car is costing you and the planet. Think of all the things you could do with the money you save if you commuted by bike say twice a week!
Monday, May 21, 2007
I wish I could capture the Russian Olive scent and send it your way via the web. One of the absolute best things about riding this time of year.
The end is definitely in site. Only 7 more days. I hope I can keep from getting the cold that is being passed around my school.
Commute miles so far: 360
Sunday, May 20, 2007
GREENSBORO – As gas prices in North Carolina continue to climb, some people are turning to other means of transportation.
AAA Carolinas said the statewide average for one gallon of self-serve unleaded regular gasoline is $3.02.
The higher pump prices are convincing more people to part their cars, trucks and SUVs and make their trips on bicycles.
“I’m riding my bike to work this morning because it is the best alternative to driving your car,” said cyclist Dustin Keene.
“I’ve started riding my bike to anywhere I can, just as much as possible, instead of driving my car,” said cyclist Chris Marshall.
Bicycle store owners said good weather helps generate business, but make no mistake, what is happening at the gasoline pump lately is sending more people into their stores.
“In the bicycling world, it means that people are starting to think of it more seriously, and we’re getting our little bit of space on the road, maybe,” said Cycles De Oro owner Dale Brown.
Riding a bike could just well be a driver’s best revenge.
Bike-friendly cities in Europe are launching a
new attack on car culture. Can the U.S. catch up?
By NANCY KEATES
May 4, 2007; Page W1
COPENHAGEN -- No one wears bike helmets here. They're afraid they'll mess up their hair. "I have a big head and I would look silly," Mayor Klaus Bondam says.
People bike while pregnant, carrying two cups of coffee, smoking, eating bananas. At the airport, there are parking spaces for bikes. In the emergency room at Frederiksberg Hospital on weekends, half the biking accidents are from people riding drunk. Doctors say the drunk riders tend to run into poles.
To Read More Follow The Link....
Saturday, May 19, 2007
One of the best things about yesterday's BTW day was that I got to try out the prototype of some cycling knickers being made by Bicycle Fixation. They already have wool versions that are nice and got a great little write up in the NY Times on the practicality of bicycle knickers and a gallery with reviews (click the link for the full story). The prototype knickers are an olive shaded hemp material for a lighter weight, Spring/Summer/Fall version (at least in Reno). Very nicely made but since I'm an official tester I probably shouldn't say much until they are actually available for purchase. Check out http://bicyclefixation.com/ - it's one of the finest bicycle websites around.
From the NY Times (click the link above for the gallery and reviews-Note that the photo is from the NYTIMES):
Pants in a Twist? Try Some Knickers
By STEPHEN KRCMAR
Published: May 17, 2007
URBAN cyclists can’t win. Snug-fitting Lycra shorts offer a padded chamois and seams that don’t chafe, but lack style. Regular pants with rolled-up cuffs may be more fashionable but can become clammy for anything longer than a short ride. Cycling-specific knickers can be a good compromise. These three-quarter-length pants stay clear of a rider’s bike chain and have a rear pocket to carry a U-lock. Some riders choose to wear bicycle shorts under the knickers and others don’t, even on 50-mile outings, said T. J. Flexer, an owner of Orange 20 Bikes, a Los Angeles shop that carries knickers.
“Urban cycling is no longer comprised of just bike people and messengers,” said Tim Parr, the president of Swobo, the company that first designed casual cycling knickers about a decade ago. The reasons vary, he said. Rising gas prices and the growing cachet of courier culture have more people saying, “Why don’t I just bike?”
Friday, May 18, 2007
Bike to Work Day feels like just any other day at this point after two weeks of my Bike to Work challenge. I think that's a good thing and a bad thing since I didn't get to enjoy some of the free coffee etc. being offered up around town for the day. Saw lots of cyclists out this morning but didn't notice much in the way of coverage from local tv stations. They usually have some sort of story and interview a bike shop employee and some commuters. Here's an array of photos from my ride home.
336 commute miles and counting. My legs feel tight!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Here's the blurb about the radio story but click the link to hear it for yourself.
"Marin County, Calif., is one of four communities to win a $20-million federal grant to promote commuting by bike. The goal is to combat climate change, cut traffic congestion and promote fitness. Still, it's a hard sell."
Commute miles this month: 312
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Lest anyone think I don't do anything besides bike to work, teach, then bike home. I thought I'd post a photo from this past weekend and riverfest. A really fun event that highlights downtown Reno.
Of course I biked downtown to watch.
Day 12 - 288 commute miles so far this month!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I've been sitting on this video for awhile not knowing quite when or if I should post it. It is one of the most bizarre youtube videos I've ever come across. But since it's Bike to
Work Month and we have quite the problem with childhood obesity in this country...well, what the heck. Watch out for those tails getting caught in the spokes!
Commute miles: 264. I'm officially at the halfway point!
Monday, May 14, 2007
10 Days and 240 commute miles in my Bike to Work Challenge for the month of May. Tomorrow will mark the halfway point and later this week (May 18th) will be the official Bike to Work Day. Pump up those tires and get ready to roll! And make sure to support those local businesses that have signed on to support the cause.
My new friend. I'm calling him Boxer after the character in Animal Farm. I hope he comes to a better end. Hmmm, actually HE may be a SHE. Maybe I'd better call her Mollie
Yeah, lycra has its place as a hitech gear option for the fast rides after work, weekends, and racing. But I don't think I'm running in to a store to pick up some milk on the way home from work wearing these duds. More on some good apparel options later in the week...
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
Me, on the road, at 6:15 am today. A long week but I'm feeling stronger on the bike than I have in months so it's a "good thing."
216 commute miles in 9 days. Not bad. Tomorrow I'll be taking a day off the bike to work in the yard and maybe go enjoy the Reno River Festival.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Day 8 - 192 Commute miles.
1. Some sort of protections from the elements -- Check
2. Not too dark for those evenings spent studying at the library -- Check
3. Not far from the entrance to the library -- Check
4. A rack that is not "hidden" (i.e. eyesore --- translation->easy to steal because nobody can see a thief popping a lock)
Is it a wonder that people kept coming back to the library railings to park their bikes?
And, while I'm on the subject, let me just say that this is, in my humble opinion, the worst (and all too common) type of bike racks that are installed. The problem? There is almost no way to lock a bike to a rack like this without leaning the frame of the bike against the metal and insuring some sort of scratching/scraping of the paint. For anyone who has a decent or expensive bike that is a real pisser. I think non-bikers like them because they are prettier. I wouldn't stand for parking my car where it will get scratched. Why should it be acceptable for a cyclist to subject his or her bike to those conditions?
The solution we've all been waiting for...A must see! I wonder if this in the WCSD budget? Probably not.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
I regularly see lots of wildlife on my way to work. Horses, sheep, cows, emu, donkeys, quail, etc. etc. Also an unfortunate amount of roadkill. And I also smell a skunk at the same spot on my morning route (I'm hoping I don't ever actually see him/her). One of those little benefits that you don't often notice as a "cager." I've particularly been enjoying seeing the goslings get larger, day by day, at Virginia Lake.
Day 7 -
Total commute miles = 168
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Click the link for the full story. The video is quite interesting. Another incident of road rage against cyclists. I'd like to know the statistics on incidents of road rage. Anybody know a good source?
A group of students on a field trip in Toronto investigating the pros and cons of public surveillance cameras ended up catching a slice of big city street hostility on their own cameras Tuesday.
The Grade 12 students caught a road rage incident between a driver and a cyclist on tape, and could play a key rule in the meting out of justice after turning their evidence over to police.
The kids' mini-cam was pointed at the scene near Queen and Bay when the driver on four wheels got into a dispute with a cyclist on two. As the students watched in disbelief, they saw the motorist get out of his still idling car, approach the cyclist and punch him boldly in the face. He pushed the stunned bike owner onto the sidewalk where the assault appeared to continue for several more moments.
Apparently the driver was enraged that the cyclist, who lost a tooth in the attack, had stopped at a yellow light and blocked him from going through.
I'm simply not willing to go hit the pedestrian cross walk button (I'm not a pedestrian). Anyway, it's a car, car, car, car, car, car, world. So what else is new.
Monday, May 07, 2007
I've always felt that carrying too much weight on the bike ruins the fun of riding. I could never really understand the fully loaded tour across America thing. I'd have to opt for the credit card version. Commuting complicates things a bit. I prefer a good bike backpack (VauDe makes the best pack out there as far as I'm concerned). But sometimes you need rack to carry all the gear and I can respect that. Click the link to see a gallery of how that can be done, and done well.
For now I'll continue the lighter is better (especially for my back) philosophy.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
The price of gasoline has hit a new record high, averaging $3.07 for a gallon of self-serve regular in the United States, a survey reported Sunday.
When inflation is factored in, the new price trails the all-time high in March 1981. At the time, gasoline cost $1.35 a gallon -- in today's dollars, that's $3.13 a gallon, said Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the Lundberg Survey.
Still, in raw numbers, the $3.07 beats the previous high of $3.03 in August.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
I pride myself on trying to keep my online discourse from going into "uncivil" mode. It's just too easy in the eworld to let things get out of control. Anyway, for those cyclists (and others) who happen to read this blog I'd appreciate you popping over to RGJ Streetbeat (linked above) and giving me your take on the posts and comments exchanged over the last few days. And, of course, add your voice to the mix if you would like.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition, organizers of Bike to Work Day, are getting started early with promotions and are currently advertising for participation in the Team Bike Challenge and nominations for Bike Commuter of the Year. With the great spring weather and gas prices at more than $3 a gallon, many more Bay Area residents are switching to a bicycle commute. Here's a summary of the two activities:
Team Bike Challenge: Bike to Work Day organizers are bringing back the Team Bike Challenge, and registration is open now at 511.org. This contest and campaign encourages bicycle commuters to recruit their colleagues, friends and neighbors to bike for transportation during May's National Bike Month. Participants in the Challenge form teams consisting of two to five individuals, think of a creative Team name, register on 511.org and track each day they make a trip by bicycle.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Climbing Windy Hill at 6:00 am this morning.
4 days, 96 miles
Snow in May-just another Spring in Nevada. Something about riding in weather like this is so peaceful. Everything seems quieter. It never really rained on me but the spray from the road was enough. The wonders of wearing wool tights! One of my best winter biking purchases (see the link).
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Graeme Obree's hour record on a bike he built himself out of old washing machines parts is the stuff of legend. Well, maybe not in this country. But it's a pretty amazing story particularly because of his own personal struggle with depression and eventual shattering of the hour record. This film looks like one of those annual inspirational brit films a la Billy Elliot or The Full Monty. But it gets bonus points for being based on a true story. Now if only we can get it to a theater in Reno. Opening in limited release (closest in SF) May 4th. Let's hope it makes its way to the biggest little city so we can catch it on the big screen.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
The 2001 U.S. National Household Travel Survey says that, in urbanized areas, 85.6 percent of trips are made by auto. Other percentages are...
bus and light rail: 1.4%
school bus: 1.4%
metro/subway/heavy rail: 0.5%
commuter rail: 0.1%
In addition, the data tells us that, in urban United States, the following things are true:
27.7 percent of all trips are one mile or less
40.6 percent are two miles or less
50.1 percent are three miles or less
63.5 percent are five miles or less
Of the 27.7 percent of trips one mile or less in urbanized areas, 65.7 percent are made by auto. This means that 18 percent of all trips in urbanized areas are auto trips one mile or less
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
From the RGJ:
A white "ghost bike" has been on Double R Boulevard almost a year since a motorist struck and killed avid cyclist David Pumphrey on that street near Sandhill Road.
As part of Monday's "Share the Road" bicycle safety campaign kickoff at IGT, his wife of 45 years, Patsy Pumphrey, encouraged motorists to be courteous, patient and obey traffic rules.
There's a correct tool for everything and that is no different when choosing a good bike for commuting. As a long time cyclist I have a few too many bikes to choose from (is that possible?). For me, a good commute bike will take slightly fatter tires than a conventional road bike to handle the obstacles and potholes in the road. It will also be more comfortable than a full on racing bike and be able to mount fenders and other necessities like lights with relative ease.
So, step one. Find yourself a good, reliable bike for commuting that is within your budget. Just remember you get what you pay for when you opt for the virtually unrepairable Walmart special. last I checked www.bianchiusa.com was offering up some good and relatively cheap entry level commute models. And, we have a local dealer!
For some of the nicest, practical, beautiful bikes on the planet click on the link above.