Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The LGRAB Summer Games!

One of my favorite biking blogs, Let's Go Ride A Bike! is holding their annual summer games!

Join the fun, go ride your bike.

Back from a bit of a Hiatus

I unfortunately had a bit of a family emergency and between work, school, and being out of town I haven't been on my bike much during the month of July. Which has been a bit of a blessing because the heat has only gotten more.....heated. The unfortunate side effect of this is cycling has gotten more dangerous, both on a temperature level and because everyone's fuse is about a quarter inch long.

On a representative commute recently, I was heading to work during evening rush hour. As I sat at on the blacktop at 5 p.m., I knew the weather channel had declared the temperature to be 105 F. However, the heat radiating off the pavement and coming off the cars surrounding me raised the effective temperature by about 20 F, meaning I was slow cooking on my bike in about 125 degree heat. The sun actually hurt. As I hopped up onto my pedal to make my turn after the light, someone honked at me, then cut me off. Maybe it's confirmation bias, but it always seems worse in the summer. Oi. Let it be late September sooner rather than later.

Friday, July 8, 2011

In defense of heavy bicycles

It's been a recent thing that I seem to be catching a bit of crap from other cyclists as to how heavy the TARDIS is. This is up to and including in bike shops, on the part of the employees (which seems a bit backwards as a customer service strategy, but that's neither here nor there). So yes, I know my bike is heavy. Unloaded, it comes in around 35 lbs. The kickstand alone weighs over a pound. The rack has a sufficient payload that if you have an ass that doesn't mind the bars, a person can ride on it. It's not a lightweight.

But for every person that likes to rib me about the weight of my bike compared to theirs, it's amazing how quickly their tune changes as soon as they get a flat, need a quick repair, or are using my bike to lean theirs against because it actually can work as an impromptu portable bike rack. Observe:

That is the TARDIS, kickstand down, supporting two bikes leaning against it from either side while my friends ran into a convenience store for refreshments. We were parked directly next to a flock of singlespeeders with large messenger bags who seemed a little boggled in my choice of velocipede. Later, they were parking their bikes on mine, and it was decided upon that the TARDIS and I are sort of the Medics of the Austin Social Cycling world. We aren't the most glamorous, the fastest, or the slickest ones on the block, but in an instant can be called upon for something useful.

And that's my defense of my heavy bike. No, it's not light. But it's stable, comfortable, and has so many uses I haven't found them all yet. As a person, I am usually opposed to unitaskers, and so my bike is built to have almost infinite uses. So yeah, it's heavy. But damn if I don't absolutely love it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Return of the Roadie

I have a confession. For some years I was a dedicated, spandex-wearing road cyclist (basically until I moved to Austin 8 months ago). Since I came to Austin, I've spent a large amount of time tooling about town, flirting with the city itself from the back of my bike. Saturday, I brought back a piece of myself I'd started to forget.

Before work that morning I attached a small bag to the underside of my saddle. I put on cycling shorts, a jersey, a watch, gloves, sunglasses, cycling shoes. I attached my frame pump to its bracket, mounted my lights, filled bottles with water. I filled my tires with air and last but not least, put on my helmet, and set off the whopping 3.5 miles to work. I worked several hours and then at last, Shadow and I set off into the heat of the day towards downtown Austin.

On my arrival, in a delightful twist of fate, I ran into a dear friend of mine. After some time spent socializing later, Sunshine McSparklepants, her boyfriend Mr. Sunshine McSparklepants, and myself set off on our roadbikes for A Ride. A real ride. One like I haven't taken many of in the time since my move.

Rolling hills. Quick descents leading immediately into steep inclines. And not a damn bit of practicality in all of that. It felt awesome. In that spirit, I am registering for the Wurst Ride. I need something to train for. I need some speed, and some impracticality in my life. I need to road ride.