Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for March, 2011

Playing favorites

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Don’t tell my other bicycles, but I’ve come to realize that I have a favorite bicycle. One that inspires me to ride long distances;  that once I get on it, I don’t want to get off. A bicycle that feels like an extension of my body when I ride it. A bicycle that’s just more fun to ride than all the others, and that functions so smoothly I rarely have to think when operating it. A bicycle that is such a joy to ride that when I’m riding, I think to myself, “Gosh, I’m lucky to ride such a fine bicycle!”

Behold:

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Yes, it’s my Bianchi Imola — my road bike. This may seem surprising or blasphemous to some, but there it is.

As much as I love mixed terrain and mountain biking, they don’t compare to the pure feel and efficiency of a road bike.

Interestingly enough, if I had to pick one bike to keep, it wouldn’t be the Bianchi, even though it’s my favorite. It would be the Trucker. It’s by far my most versatile bike.

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How about you? Do you have a favorite bicycle? And, if you had to get rid of all but one bicycle, which one would you keep? Are they the same?

Morgan-Monroe forest ride with Dave

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Saturday it was amazingly warm. I think it topped out around 60 degrees. Dave called me the night before to see if I wanted to ride. I was free, so I said hell yes! However,  20-30 mph winds made riding interesting. Dave and I rode about 30 miles from his house up to Morgan-Monroe State Forest and back.

I rode the Bianchi, which felt incredibly fast and smooth. Dave rode his full-suspension mountain bike, with narrow, slick tires. It’s surprising how well that bike performs on the roads. Still, I had an unfair advantage.

It was just the kind of ride I needed. Nothing epic, but a good solid ride at a fun, mostly conversational pace. And as always, it was a blast riding with Dave.

We didn’t push it most of the time, but there were a couple of good, fast downhills. We even passed a group of cyclists, and stayed ahead of them. We almost never pass people, so this was a bit of a surprise. One of them had a fantasic wool Molteni jersey (like this), and I was wearing my Formaggio jersey. Our jerseys looked nearly identical. We had just enough time to compliment each other on our great taste before bombing down Bean Blossom hill.

Here are a few shots from our ride.

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Being a mountain biker, Dave had to tackle this section of extremely rough pavement. Fun!

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State of the bicycle commute

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Bicycles make a lot of sense on college campuses. There’s very little parking, and there are a lot of small paths where cars can’t go anyway. Plus, my wife and I share one car, and want to keep it that way. Using my bicycle for transportation helps facilitate that. In general, commuting by bicycle has been working very well.

That said, since I started school in January, I have changed my commuting strategy slightly. Before then, I was a very dedicated commuter. I commuted by bicycle every day, no matter what. Lately I’ve changed my stance a little bit. Oddly enough it wasn’t the cold, wind, snow or ice that made me change that. It was rain.

Frankly, I’ve never enjoyed commuting in the rain, but it’s worse when I’ll have to slog around campus all day. Sometimes I do enjoy rain on country rides, but in general, rain is one of my least favorite riding conditions.

Eventually I decided that I didn’t need the aggravation of commuting to class in the rain. And I have to say, giving up my stubborn, I-must-always-commute-by-bicycle attitude felt quite liberating. Now when it rains, I take the bus. And while on the bus, I read a book and listen to music. Then I have to walk a ways to get to class, but I don’t really mind walking in the rain, so long as I bring an umbrella. And again, I can listen to music while I walk and see more of the world around me as I go.

So, am I less dedicated to bicycle commuting now? Maybe. Bicycling is about different things to different people. For some people riding no matter what gives them a lot of pride. I’ve been there myself. But sometimes my bicycle commute had started to feel like a chore … and for me, riding is about fun. I’m glad to have some alternatives.

I still ride nearly all the time, but I don’t feel bad about taking the bus when I need or want to.

I had an interesting mishap last week. I had my hardest midterm Thursday morning. I got up earlier than usual to give myself plenty of time — in fact, ironically, I had just started writing this post about how well bicycle commuting is working. But, just as I was maybe 1/3 of the way to class, my chain broke! I called my wife, and asked her to look up the bus schedule (I was right by a stop). But the bus wouldn’t be coming for 45 minutes or so. I’d be too late for my midterm. Fortunately, Sarah was able to leave work for a while, pick me up, and take me to class.  I was only about 5 minutes late for my midterm. Whew!

I’m not sure what caused my chain to break, but I later bought a new one, and fixed it. Not without some frustration, of course. Sometimes I have trouble with even the most basic bicycle repair tasks.

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