Friday, February 26, 2010

My pannier is like your car's center console.

I have one pannier (a bag that attaches to the side of a bicycle cargo rack, for those who aren't as into bike lingo) that stays with whichever bike I'm riding that has a rack, this being limited to Bi and Henry, for now. So, if I'm on either of those two bikes, I've got at least this pannier.(sometimes more, depending on what I'm up to, what time of year it is, and the alignment of the planets.) It's where I toss my wallet, my glasses/sunglasses, camera, phone, the deck of playing cards, and whatever else I happen to be carrying.

Much like a car's center console.

It's also nice in the fact that if I have something I'd prefer to keep flat, I can toss it down the pocket where the stiffening board is. I put a lot of stuff down that pocket. Some of which I forget about. Like two paycheck stubs. A Christmas card. Three empty envelopes. A Windows XP install CD.

Yeah, I just cleaned out my pannier, and had the strong impression I was cleaning out a car's center console. Minus that nasty goo that builds up from sloshing sodas in cup holders, I didn't have that. Nor did I find any loose change, either. Darn.

Mileage: ~3 so far.

Friday, February 19, 2010

So I almost didn't make it home tonight.

I've got a long long rant in my head, but I'm going to save it until I can organize my thoughts enough so that it is an actual informative rant, instead of coming off as an attack.

But, the events of the ride home:

So, there I was at the light at the intersection of Beaver Street and Rt. 66. I was in the straight traffic lane, aimed south, waiting for a train to pass so the light would turn green. (There is a bike lane there, but the light doesn't pick up cyclists if I'm in it.) The only other car was an SUV in the far left turn lane. Train is nearly done, and the SUV gets his left turn arrow. He takes off through the intersection, as a police car zips eastward through the intersection, lights blazing. (heading east.) Police car slowed enough so that the SUV was able to pass in front, and the officer made a left turn across 66 into a business parking lot, where there were a few more police vehicles, also with lights going. I don't know what was going on, but I guess it required 4 police cars.

Now, granted I wasn't paying attention to the traffic on 66 yet, so I didn't see the police car until after it was most of the way through the intersection. I assumed the officer had turned the cars lights on before the intersection, and that the SUV should have yielded. What happened next throws that into doubt, at least in my mind.

So, at this point, the train has passed, and I now have the green light to proceed south on Beaver. (Rt.66 is now red in both directions.) So, I check traffic, and begin rolling through the intersection, having only seen one set of lights heading east on 66. Well, this one set isn't slowing, and isn't going to stop, it seems. So, halfway through the intersection, I grab my brakes, just as car lays on his, and he nearly stops a full car length in the intersection, in front of me. Had I not seen him and slowed in advance, he would have hit me. As I was reaching to squeeze the horn that wasn't there, (I was on Henry, and I've gotten used to honking at cars with the big bad horn on Bi) the officer inside THAT car flipped on his lights and took off through the intersection to join his buddies.

That's right, I was almost hit by a police car.

Now, I understand emergencies, and the need to get there fast. I also know that a lot of officers abuse the lights and sirens on their cars to get to the drive thru. (I've witnessed this more than a few times.)

All I ask is if they're going to run red lights and stop signs, it'd be nice of them to hit the lights and sirens to let everyone in the intersection know they're going to break basic traffic laws to get somewhere.
Mileage: 22 or so.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wheel building adventures

Yeah, the title of this post is actually a little misleading.

So, I got parts to build a new rear wheel for Bi, since the hub in the old wheel wasn't the best to begin with, and since bending the axle a while ago, it's been having little niggling issues keeping the bearings in adjustment. So I sprang for a Surly fixed/free mountain hub, a WTB Dual Duty FR rim, and spokes and nipples, to build the wheel from the ground up myself.

That does not look like a bike wheel.

But first, I needed a truing stand. So I went to Home Depot, after designing my stand at work.
That does not look like a truing stand.

I successfully constructed my truing stand yesterday, and then took off on a bike ride with TC, where we encountered a big pile of snow about 15 feet tall where we usually stop for a break at the very end of Butler Avenue.

We were not deterred, and climbed to the top to take our break.


After catching some Z's, I woke up this morning and set about building my new wheel. With Sheldon Brown's wheel building guide open on my laptop, I went to town. Amazingly, I got everything right on the first try, and after a total of 3 hours, this was the finished result:
Wheel stand and wheel!

I was surprised at how quickly it went, how close to true the wheel stayed the entire time, and how much fun it was overall. I think I'll be building my own wheels from now on. It takes a little more time than just buying a pre-built wheel, but it's stronger than a wheel built on a machine, it'll likely last longer, and it's a part on my bike (among many) that I can point at and say "I built that."

Mileage: None today.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cold Windy Rides

Overall, my goal for the day was to see if Lake Mary would be a viable destination for a ride in the wintertime, since the road out now has nice wide shoulders. There were a number of secondary goals as well, such as to put in a decent long-ish ride, really try out the H-bars on Henry, and just have fun.

I managed to accomplish all three. Four. Who's counting?

I left a little later than I had planned, which gave the sun a little more time to warm the air up. (by a whole one degree!) It didn't matter much, as it was a breezy 40 degree ride with sporadic sun and clouds. The weather report called for a chance of rain and snow, so I figured I was safe for the ride. The shoulders on the road were cleared nearly to the edges of the road for the most part along the entire distance I rode, which made me a happy rider.

Lower Lake Mary picnic area. It looks to still be a few feet deep there.

At the dam between lower and upper Lake Mary. Henry illustrates the depth of the plow berm.

This little guy crossed the road in front of me, hopped on the snowbank, and started digging. I think he was looking for lunch. He didn't even realize I was there.

So, I made it to the far end of the lake, and realized I couldn't see the peaks. Woops, this might get interesting.

It certainly did get interesting. It started sprinkling rain around the lower dam, with about 7 miles to go to get home. By the time I was 2 miles away, it had graduated to really wet snow, and fairly thick at that. I was pretty well soaked by the time I got home, grimy from road spray, and pretty well chilled. But miserable I was not. Lake Mary is now on the short list of wintery rides, and I had fun.

But I definitely need to stop putting off getting fenders for Henry.

Mileage: 31.6