Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Build Begins.

It doesn't really have a name yet.  I've got a lot of great ideas for what this bike will be and luckily they can all come true pretty easily. 

I've been trying to replace my Van Dessel WTF for 7 months now.  I was heart broken when that frame just didn't work out for me.   I think the Surly Troll might just do that. 

The last line of Surly's description of the Troll states this: "Build it up, ride it for a while, then reinvent it."  I'm gonna do that from day one.  It will start life as a drop-bar, full fendered fixie with disc brakes.  Racks will come soon after.  Then things will likely get fatter... likely much, much, fatter.  My goal is to see exactly how fat they can get.  :D 

I'll get a trailer to pull behind it at some point.  For now I'm gonna ride it and enjoy it. 

Frame arrives early next week, I am guessing.  Jan at Bikenetic has been AWESOME helping me with this build. 

I'll post photos as the bike starts to take form.

Hugs and kisses,


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

15th Street Parking-way

Sorry I've been away a bit.  I was sick and hammered by work and blogging didn't make it up high enough on my ToDo list.

The 15th Street Cycleway in northwest DC is a pretty cool thing.  It is on the street, but separated from automotive traffic by a series of fiberglass poles.  Unfortunately some contractors waiting for access to the White House grounds think it is their own personal parking place. 

So today I send out a hearty UP YOURS to the wonderful people at Welch and Rushe Inc. Mechanical Contractors and Boland Heating and Air Conditioning. 

Actually that's a bit harsh.... I don't really mean to say "UP YOURS" to them.   Next time please park somewhere other than the middle of the cycleway.

Hugs and kisses,


Monday, November 21, 2011

Riding Planet Gwadz

I needed a mental health afternoon, so I took half of Friday off to chase a friend around downtown DC on his cargo bike.  I've known Joel Gwadz for years, but hadn't really ridden with him.  Gwadz is a major fixture in the DC cycling community.  His Blog, Gwadzilla (www.Gwadzilla.blogspot.com) has been documenting the cycling lifestyle in DC with great photos and commentary for years.  You can tell Gwadz is seriously into the community because pretty much everyone we met on Friday afternoon at least tipped their hat to him.  The afternoon was perfect and I was really looking forward to follow Gwadz around with a camera aimed at him. 

I arrived at the Occupy DC encampment at Freedom Plaza about 10 minutes before Gwadz.  I put the dummy up on the center stand and just pedaled away for a few minutes.  I chatted with people and snapped a few photos.  The Dummy is a great conversation starter and it was particularly easy with the Occupy folks... they totally get it.  It also made it easy to strike up and get them talking about their experience in Freedom Plaza and what the future holds.  My few minutes with them was enjoyable.

Before long Gwadz rolled up and we were off.  We rode around town, shot photos and video and delivered a bunch of stuff to the Occupy group at Mac Square.  Over the years I've adopted much more of a "Live to ride another day" style of cycling downtown.  I am much more relaxed and I don't mind waiting for lights and traffic.  I just sort of roll in a very mellow way.  That changed the instant I struck out with Gwadz.  I chased him through the city and the old instincts for traffic and pedestrians came right back.  It was a serious blast.  There were no "oh shit!" moments.... just 2 guys on cargo bikes winding their way through the city.  

More on the rig Gwadz was riding later.  

Hugs and kisses,


Friday, November 11, 2011

Cargo Bike Intervals: 11/14/2011 1630 @ Haynes Point

Looks like we'll be doing cargo bike intervals again this week.  I will need a little power work after eating a lot on Sunday. 

Let me know if you're interested in joining in.  Monday afternoon at about 4:30pm.  I'll be on the east side of the Haynes Point loop... I'll wait there for a few minutes.  If you make it by and I'm not there, hang tight, I'll be by while on a lap in a few minutes.

See you there!


Robo-Gate gets more press. :D

It is interesting what people latch onto.  Interesting, and kind of a good contrast of local news "outlets".  

Here's the original video that I posted on Youtube:  http://youtu.be/wI331Rsrqb4

For approximately 6 seconds during the video, I hake one hand off the handlebars, goof with the toy a little, then put my hand back on the handlebar.  That 6 seconds of video has caused a bit of a stir with people complaining that I was riding while distracted.  I admit that the video is very unclear as to how much of my attention is devoted to goofing with the robots, VS the task at hand.  I'll say that the amount of attention is on par with what it takes to scratch your ear or shift gears on a bike or car.... and nowhere near the realm of texting while driving.  It was a silly video that I put out that wasn't dangerous at all to make and was done in a place and at a time where no-one was in danger... not even me.  

Honesty, that's not what I wanted to write about.  I really wanted to compare the treatment of the video by some of the local news organizations.   

The Bad:  Arlington Now just kind of lobbed it out there, posting a link and a brief comment, knowing that it would elicit a bunch of negative comments from their regular readers and that some more level headed folks would chime in and a Internet food fight would result and they would get a bunch of hits on their web site as a result.  That's what I call Journalism While Distracted.  They didn't have anything to say, they just posted it out there and let the mayhem be the story.  (I'm not gonna post a link because I don't really want to reward their effort with hits.  I'm sure The Google can get you there.)

The Good:  Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA) 's Wednesday Morning Commute post put it out there, mentioned that it had caused a bit of a stir, but that they thought it was funny.  It was short, sweet and made a statement.  Like it or hate it, they put it out there as information that people might want to know.  http://washcycle.typepad.com/ (Scroll down to the Wednesday Morning Commute)  

The Awesome:  The Washington Post's Express newspaper made reference to the video in editorial by DC Rider (Vicky Hallett) in the intro and conclusion on an article about the need to pay attention and not live distracted.  It was a cool little article that touched on the safety side of things, but also talked about the need to spend a little time alone with your thoughts.  I particularly liked the "Besides, your thoughts probably miss you" comment.  Very well done!!!  If 10 people see that and it makes a difference in their lives, then I don't mind one bit being the poster child for a crusade against cargo biking while distracted!  http://www.expressnightout.com/2011/11/look-up-now/

Thanks WABA and Express (DC Rider in particular) for paying attention.  Y'all rock!



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Perfect Commute

Days like today don't happen often enough.  I'm happy for every day on the bike, but today was special.  Everything was perfect!

Weather was perfect... It was in the mid 40's with fairly thick fog.... Thick enough to be interesting, but not thick enough that people can't see my lights and reflective gear.  The weather was visually interesting as well as physically pleasant.

I'd been asked by a friend to stick some of my cold weather gear (mainly my Moose Mitts) in the panniers so that the next time I bump into him he could test fit them on his fixie with bull-horn bars.  Low and behold as I made the turn onto the Custis Trail, I run into said friend and we both had time to stop and see how things fit.   Upping the cool factor, a third guy came along... someone who'd been lurking on the Bike Arlington Forum, but hadn't posted yet.  He'd been wondering about Moose Mitts, but hesitated to buy them without trying them on his bars first.  He stopped, introduced himself and we included him in the impromptu demo of winter gear.  Cool chance to meet someone new.  

After a few minutes the three of us started rolling east.  It wasn't long before a dude on a LOVELY Colnago C50 rolled by.  I admired it.  He hug with us and chatted with each of us for a while as we rolled to the office.  Added a new friend to the list of riding buddies.  

I switched on the video camera to get some footage of a friend riding down some of the serpentine hills that make up my commute. The video ended up being kind of cool... the fog and following the friend through the turns on his fixie was a cool perspective from the cargo bike.  I'll post up a few snippits this weekend.  

It was nice enough that I decided to turn south and ride with friends instead of going directly to the office.  The trail was lovely.  The conversation was interesting.  The morning continued to NOT SUCK!  

My ulterior motive for heading south was to inspect a trail intersection improvement that the National Park Service executed at the intersection of the Mount Vernon Trail and the 14th Street Bridge.  Basically they took an intersection made up of 2 narrow trails meeting and widened it out nicely so that people can travel in all 4 directions in high traffic without smashing into each other.  It will save a lot of headaches and accidents.   I seriously approved of the upgrades and I hope they weather well.  

I'd heard that the DC WWI Memorial had been reopened after a year of painstaking restoration.  It is a monument that I've always loved for its simplicity and beauty, but I've always had to overlook its rundown and overgrown nature.  That is no longer a problem!!!  I think DC kind of felt that having the Memorial to Dr. King across the street might increase the foot traffic to the monument, so they'd better fix it up.  They did a lovely job.  It is like seeing an old friend after a long time apart.  Truly lovely bit of stonework that has withstood the test of time.  One of my favorite things in DC and the foggy morning was great to photograph it.  

I did a loop around the Washington Monument to see if they'd re-opened the grounds around it.  They had not.  The earthquake damage was bad enough that it will be closed for quite some time.  That is quite a shame, because that is a big draw to the DC area.

While I'm gushing about how much I enjoyed my commute, I have to comment on a few other things:

1) I never could have had any of these experiences if I'd been in a car.  I'd be locked in a 3000 pound metal box, isolated from those around me and frustrated to be sitting in a line of cars that were barely moving.  

2) I got to share this joy not only with those with which I rode, but also anyone bored enough to read this blog.  and

3) The attitude totally carried into my day.  I've had a great morning which I really needed.  I've had many breakthroughs on projects that drastically needed to happen.  

This morning didn't suck in any way.  I can't wait to go play in the rain this afternoon!!!!

Here are photos from the whole commute to work:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrogringo/sets/72157627972015291/
Hugs and kisses

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rock 'em Sock 'em Commute

Toward the end of Sunday's ride I stopped at an antique store for something I'd seen last week.  They had a 1970's vintage set of Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots.  This plastic game is AWESOME!!!  I was amazed that this one was in such good shape and pretty much functional.  I had to have it.

I paid my $16 and stuck it in my basket and finished the ride.  I enjoyed riding around with them in the basket enough that I left them in for Monday's commute.  I pointed the video camera at them and got some very silly video.  That went on Youtube and was fairly quickly picked up by a local news blog as well as the Washington Area Bicycle Association morning commute.  A few grumps on the local news blog were particularly grumpy.  The conversation was entertaining.  Happy that the WABA conversation was much more realistic and light hearted.  That's how the video was intended.

I'm happy that it isn't illegal to be a little silly on a bicycle.  I've said it 1000 times... the best part of cycling is the way you get there, not the destination. :D

I love you!


Constitutional Amendments

There’s been a lot of construction on Constitution Avenue in downtown DC this fall.  Constitution is a 6-8 lane thoroughfare through the heart of DC that runs along the north side of the National Mall.  It always has lots of traffic.  A lovely section of Constitution is part of my ride home every day.  These days there are at least 2 lane closures and slow moving traffic through most of the day. 

When construction started I looked for other routes to avoid this really busy street with all the construction, but finally decided that it made sense to just do like I normally do and blend in with traffic.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that riding through the construction zone was unusually pleasant.  Basically I’m moving the same speed as traffic.  I could move a lot faster, but I tend not to do that.  I know it pisses people off.  Nowhere I’m going is that important, so just blending with traffic and enjoying the day seemed to be the best way to be me. 

I get great reactions.  People roll down the window to ask about the cargo bike.  They ask where I’m going and what I’m hauling.  I get asked why I’m not riding on the sidewalk or weaving through traffic.  Plenty of folks just roll by without reacting.  I get a few people who playfully honk at the “Honk if You’re Horny” sign on the back of the bike. 

The odd thing is that I’ve had no-one be particularly obnoxious.  Certainly people always run the red light for turning left onto 15th.  People will always do stupid things like that… I just relax and adjust. 

After traveling about ½ mile on Constitution I turn onto Virginia Ave and all bets are off.  Once people are out of the construction zone and are able to go back to their usual speed, they go back to their somewhat less pleasant and cautious driving.  Most people speed and run lights.  There’s lots of non-playful honking and generally an attitude that being at the front of the line is the most important thing.  Basically things go back to the rat race.  I just roll through and do my own thing… dodging cars, taxis and buses. 

I now find that I enjoy the Constitution Avenue part of my commute.  Hopefully they keep the construction going for a few more months.  I like what it does to people… myself included. :D

Rock on!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Training rides on a cargo bike

I no longer ride competitively.  I haven't for many years.  I do, however, enjoy endurance events where my only competition is with myself.  My 2011 riding season is over... and by that I mean that I have no more events to ride.  I achieved every goal I set out to and had possibly the best season of riding ever.

That said, I still ride every day... and I go for a long training ride on Sundays.  The rides are usually a little more casually paced and  incorporate something fun along the way, but they're no less an important part of my preparation for next season.  That's where the cargo bike comes in. 

Riding a bike that weighs close to 90 pounds on a training ride has been an important part of building power and endurance in my riding over the last few years.  Early in 2010 I had a bad fall and severely injured my shoulder.  I was off the bicycle for 8 weeks at a time when I am normally putting in heavy base miles.  Three weeks after the injury I was able to ride a recumbent, but still found it difficult to put in the kind of training that I felt I needed to prepare for the year's cycling events. 

When I got back on the bike, it was the cargo bike that was my first choice.  Every hour spent riding it was like spending an hour in a mobile weight room.  My legs had to work significantly harder to accelerate.  My upper body and core were worked similarly to sprint, climb and maneuver the bike through turns.  I put 1500 miles on the Big Dummy in less than 2 months and felt ready for my first event for the year.  The base I built on the Big Dummy served me well for the whole summer and fall riding season.  I don't think I could have done that with a conventional bike.

So when I hung up my short bikes after the 2011 version of Stupid Human Tricks (I'll write about those in a post in the next few days) I was looking forward to getting out the cargo bike and getting back to basics. 

One thing that I've found is very important when putting so many miles on the cargo bike... especially miles that include intervals and climbing... REST!  Spending that much time intensely working the big muscle groups in the body definitely takes its toll.  It is important to listen to your body and take it easy when you find yourself tired and lacking power at the beginning of a ride.  I also keep an eye on my waking heart rate.  If it is elevated noticeably, it can be a sign that I need a rest day.  I always listen. 

If my body isn't complaining, I keep piling on the miles.  Off-season intervals are usually long ones where I'm stressing power over aerobic capacity.  Climbing is done at a pace that I can maintain, instead of trying to push into the red all the time.  Most important is to have fun on the rides.  I often stop mid-ride, pull the long board off the back of the cargo bike and skate for 30-60 minutes as an alternative workout.  I've been known to pack the running shoes on board and toss in a run in the middle of a ride too.  Both of those are easy to do with the cargo bike, but not so easy on a carbon road bike. 

So there you have it... The cargo bike makes for a fun training partner and delivers great results.  I'd been trying to lose a little more weight all season... just 8-10 pounds would be nice.  I've been back on the cargo bike for just over 2 weeks now and I've already lost 8 pounds.  These are half of the stubborn "last 15 pounds" that I've wanted to lose for a while.  I know the next 8 will not be easy, but my big, dumb training partner will be a big help. 

Looking forward to posting up the plot of tomorrow's training ride. 

Rock on, peoples. 


Friday, November 4, 2011

Cargo Bike Intervals @ Haynes Point -- 1530 Hours Monday 11/7

I have a 1400 call and a 1700 meeting.  Between the two I'd like to turn some intervals on the Large Bike with low SAT scores (aka The Big Dummy).  I should be there around 1530 and will roll for about an hour. 

Cargo is optional, but encouraged. 

Rock on.


Cargo Builds Character... Post 1.

I love cars.... always have.. always will.  I've enjoyed wrenching, building and customizing cars for decades.  In Jr. High school I subscribed to Hot Rod magazine and read it cover to cover every month.  When I grew up I was rarely happier than when I was underneath a car, up to my elbows in its guts.  

That's why it is kind-of significant that I gave up driving many years ago.  As much as I love all things automotive, it became really obvious that I love bikes even more.  I can't explain why, but getting from point A to point B under my own power has been super easy for me to incorporate into my life. It helps that my love of bicycles and the freedom they bring predates my love of cars by a few years.  Also helps that I was able to do a lot more than read about bikes from age 6 on.  

4 decades later and bicycles are still my sense of freedom.  That's why a cargo bike fits pretty well with me.  It makes it easier for me to do things that I want to under my own power.  It has been nice to see many more popping up in the Washington, DC area over the last year or two.  I'll document them as I see them.   

Thanks for reading.  I'm happy to have some new inspiration to blog.  

See you on the road!