Ride Log 2/13/14

Thermometer said it was 45°F outside. I started to imagine spring-time weather and started to get excited for the ride. Then I opened the garage and saw the rain. It didn't seem to be too much of a downpour, and I had just installed fenders on my new bike yesterday, so I was covered. I hopped on the bike, closed the garage door and started on my way. About 60 seconds later, I was opening the garage again and running inside. I was already soaked and thought I'd better grab a change of clothes. I'm glad I came back. I got absolutely soaked. My shell jacket/fleece hoodie combo held up fine, but my pants are drenched.

This is my second day with my new bike, and I really enjoy it. I'm still getting it dialed in and may end up replacing the stem and/or seatpost to reduce the reach a bit, but overall it's been great. I'll dive into more detail on another post.

The Long Route

 

I absolutely love riding in the snow. This morning I took the mountain bike into work, with its 2.5" knobby tires. The bike did very well in the snow as long as I adapt my riding style to the conditions. I tend to rely on the rear brake much more to avoid sliding with the front tire as much as possible. I slow down a bit. I change the route I take to avoid arterial roads. The best part of this route is the mile or so stretch at the bottom of a canyon, along a river with a paved bike/walking trail, shown in the picture above. I love riding this trail, which is a total of about 2.5 miles. It connects a lot of the town while totally avoiding the not-so-bike friendly arterial roads. And it's so quiet. As much as I love the winter and the snow, I'm looking forward to it warming up so I can eat lunch on one of the many benches along the path.

I didn't make any changes to my typical bike clothing, which consists of my regular work clothes and a windproof shell jacket over a fleece hooded sweatshirt, balaclava, and regular winter gloves. The temperature was right around 20 degrees, and I found that I was a bit overheated when I arrived at work. 

sad rack

About 15 feet from the back door to my office I slipped on ice. I bailed and was fine, but the milk crate broke free from the dozen or so zip ties holding it in place. I thought I could make it in the skiff of snow on the ground with my City Tire, due to some issues with the rim that held my more knobby tires. Whoops.

I've never really loved the way it looked, but couldn't bring myself to take it off because of how functional it is. Apparently the bike hated it more than I did.

The bike wins, I've got some panniers being delivered next week.

The new path

I arrived at the office today only to find all of the doors locked. I'd mistakenly assumed somebody would be inside. Worse, I had also forgotten my keys. Even though its a holiday, our office tends to have 2 or 3 people that come in to work in a quiet office. I decided to explore a bit and check back later.

I ended up riding a very fun 10 miles, mostly on paved bike/walking trail. I have been wanting to check out a park in the area, and I was not disappointed. 

My town has a patchwork of bike paths and lanes all around the city, but I had no idea that this section existed. The path runs along a river for most of the distance. I predict a few lunch break fishing trips come summer time.

After this ride I realized that I have become very locked in to my routine, so it was great to get out and just explore.

 

First ride of 2014 was a good one.

I crossed 3 or 4 of these great foot bridges

Pockets

This morning I was getting ready for work and tinkering with my commuter bike in the garage when Thing 1 poked her head into the garage. She was so excited about the clementines she had for breakfast that morning that she had to tell me all about it. Then she brought me two of them and made sure I put them in my pocket. Then she brought me another one. Then Thing 2 brought me one. Then another one. I now had 5 small oranges in my pockets.

Fortunately my shell jacket has big pockets. 

Not only did they explain how delicious they are, but gave tips on how to enjoy them. "You should just take little nibbles at a time," said the 5 year-old. The 3 year-old was sure that these oranges would make it so that I wouldn't forget her while I was at work. 

I am sure that these scene was at least partially inspired by Christmas Oranges, a book we have been reading almost nightly the past 3 weeks. They love that book.

Too many things

I am a complete pack rat. I have so much stuff. Junk. Instead of skeletons in my closet I have darkroom equipment, computer equipment, shoes, rocks, bike stuff, and cables for just about every device ever invented. There is just no room for skeletons; I've tried, I had to put them in a box in the garage. I'm working on simplifying my life. Having so much junk in my life is like hearing a constant, annoying vibration. 

To that end, I've been pushing myself to get rid of one thing per day. It doesn't matter what it is or how I get rid of it. My first week or so of this has been succesful. So far I've listed on eBay several pieces of darkroom equipment that haven't been used in more than a decade. If they don't sell I'll donate them to the thrift shop. I've also donated a pair of basketball shoes that are in great condition. They don't really fit. And I play basketball about two or three times a year. That shoe in the photo is an old shoe that I kept around for almost a year after they worn out. They were my favorite dress shoes. I had to take a picture of them before I tossed them.

The snow commute update

The winter snow commute continues. It has warmed just enough for the snow to turn to slush and then freeze over making for somewhat treacherous conditions.

 I'm finding that our local street crews don't plow much except for the busiest of roads. My wide knobbies are holding their own, though I did have a near-miss today while navigating a snowy/slushy bike lane. 

I spent Monday through Wednesday traveling for my day job and didn't have a chance to ride, so it felt good to get on the bike. It's really refreshing to step out of the house in the morning and hop on the bike and just go. I enjoy the added challenges of winter-commuting. It's forced me to explore new routes, try new techniques and get out of my comfort zone. I come to work having already accomplished something, which sets the tone for a much more productive day.

Being frugal: Ting Wireless

As part of our debt-free plan we frequently evaluate services we use to see if we can find some potential savings. It became obvious several months ago that Verizon Wireless was too expensive. I have cell phone service provided through work, but bikemom has been using a feature phone for the last while. With Verizon our base bill was $45 or so, but once her mom switched from Verizon, and therefore the in-network calling benefit, it wasn't uncommon for it to spike to $75.

We're also finding that being locked into any kind of long term commitment is generally something to be avoided. Knowing that our contract was up this month we started looking around at other options a few months ago. We were able to narrow it down to two options:

Ting (referral link, if you sign up using this link you and I each get a $25 credit off Ting bill)

Republic Wireless

New project bike

Words that my wife hates: cupcake (the term of endearment, not the delicious mini-cake), fart, and project bike. I sucessfully avoided speaking 2 out of 3 today, but couldn't turn down this craigslist find.

I haven't been able to nail down the exact model yet, but I believe it's a Schwinn from 1986-1990. I bought it because it was quite similar to a great 1986 Schwinn High Sierra I got for free, but is too large. This one has all the stickers removed, including the head badge, making it difficult to identify. But for a$35 I got a bike that is a great fit, with new tires, and appears to be of good quality. If you have any clues on the year/model of this bike, let me know in the comments.

I'm planning to convert this bike to a winter-commuter by removing all of the deraileurs, brakes and gears in the back. I will probably keep the center chain ring from the front and put a single-speed freewheel in the back to keep it simple. It needs new cables and a new chain, but is in overall decent condition. I'll post updates as this project progresses.

 

 

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