Monday, October 30, 2006

...or, you could just ride a bike

I was handed this flyer the other day...

I guess those are some pretty good tips for saving fuel, but there is a huge elephant in the room that someone is refusing to see.  Her name is Escalade.  We can't drive our way out of this mess, but for some reason leaving the car at home isn't listed as a tip for fighting terrorism. 

Changing our driving style may reduce our use of fuel a little, but changing our lifestyle is the only way to make a real difference.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Putting our money where our mouths are

Mags and I just spent a big chunk of change to move closer to downtown SLC, 8 miles closer to our jobs.  It was a lot of work, and money, but we wanted to be closer to where
things are happening.  Now we can ride our bikes to the grocery store,
the theatre, the library, several restaurants, a bike shop, and most
importantly, to work.  Our neighbors are
all yuppies with BMW SUVs and Volvos, so if it weren't for the sunshine
we might think we we're back in Seattle.  We're trying our best to be
urban hipsters, but mostly we're just glad to be back in a place where cars aren't a necessity, where there aren't any cul-de-sacs, where drivers know how to treat cyclists on the road, and where businesses provide bike racks. 

The best part about the whole move is that it will save us money by keeping us fit.  Some engineers at the University of Illinois have the evidence to prove it. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Your commute could be this much fun too

Somebody named 'Wease' over at has captured the rush of bicycle commuting on video.  It makes me want to go out and ride in traffic. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

<p><del> 24 </del> 11 Hours of Moab</p>


My first 24 hour race was a dud.  I was excited to do two or three night laps in my Halloween costume but Mother Nature had something else in store for us.  It rained so hard the course was closed for 13 hours.  You can read about that here and here

So the race wasn't what I expected it to be, but I still had fun.  My first 15-mile lap time, which was also my first view of the course, was 1:12:14.  It was raining and crowded, and my glasses would fog up when I slowed down on the climbs.  So I had to dodge slower riders that I couldn't see very well on the descents. 

On my second lap I was prepared for everything but what I got--sunshine.  The conditions were excellent and I had different glasses that I hoped wouldn't fog up.  I told one of my teammates that I was going to beat my previous time. 

I was overdressed and my legs didn't feel like they were ready to work.  In the fourth mile I reached down for my water bottle only to discover that it had fallen out somewhere along the way.  I worried that I would sweat too much and be dehydrated.  My stomach started to rumble a bit from the greasy scones I had eaten for breakfast [Thanks Sharee, for being a great support crew, but next time don't let me eat two deep-fried scones right before I ride.]

Somehow, in spite of all of that, my legs felt great in the second half of the lap.  I felt confident on the descents and the sand in my drive train didn't foul my climbing.  I had a bit of a reality check when I passed a rider who had crashed.  There were two other riders with him when I stopped and offered to help.  They told me to continue on and find a court marshal or a medic, which I did at the water station at mile eleven.  I chugged two glasses of water there and listened to it slosh around in my stomach on the final climb.  I finished the lap in 1:11:22, almost a minute faster than my first lap. 

Next year I'm going to do a lap under 1:10:00. 

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thank you UTA, for making me feel like a criminal

A few Sundays ago
Mags and I took a ride on TRAX, our local light rail service. It was a quiet morning and the train car was
nearly empty except for Mags and me, three cyclists at the other end of the car
and about five other riders. We leaned
our bikes against the front of the car and sat down in one of the many empty
seats. In doing so we became criminals.

Cyclists are required
to stand with their bikes when riding the train.

Three stops after we
got on a Transit Police officer also got on. I saw her through the window but decided against hopping up and
pretending like I had been standing the whole time. That was my first mistake. The cop had an attitude. She reminded us of the rule we were breaking
like she was confronting a criminal she’d been pursuing for weeks.

Then I made my second
mistake. I told her that I did not feel
comfortable standing up with my bike while the train is moving. The trains can stop and start suddenly, and shake
from side to side. The rule requires
cyclists to hold their bike with at least one hand, which means they only have one hand left to hold onto a handrail. Sometimes holding the handrail with one
hand is not enough. Bikes move from side to side and front to back with the motion of the train.  It can take both hands to keep a bike under contol.  I have met cyclists
who have fallen when the train stopped suddenly because they were obeying the
rule. You can forget about reading a
book, making a phone call or even, heaven forbid, resting your legs, if you obey this
rule, because both of your hands will be full.

The cop didn’t
appreciate me talking back to her. So
she took our IDs, called for backup (she was also going to cite the three
cyclists at the other end of the car) and ordered us to get off at the next
stop, where she gave us $50 citations for ‘bicycle violations’.

To make a long story
short, rather than send in two checks for $50 each, we sent in letters
contesting the citation. In mine I
explained the circumstances of the citation and asked them to change my
citation to a warning because I had no previous citations. I also included the following paragraph:

Part of the mission
statement adopted by the board of trustees for UTA is to enable “individuals to
pursue a fuller life with greater ease and convenience”. Holding onto both a bicycle and a handrail on
a moving train is neither easy nor convenient. If I am required to put myself in an unsafe situation every time I ride
the train with my bicycle then I will be forced to find another means of
transportation, and UTA has failed in this part of its mission.

We got responses to
our letters last week. Here are a few

“Trains were designed
to move people not bicycles”

OK, so apparently UTA
doesn’t consider cyclists to be people. It’s not like we’re loading the train so full of bikes that nobody else
can get on. We’re just people who want
to ride the train instead of driving our car. We do it for financial, environmental, or social reasons, but we’re
still people. We just happen to bring a
bicycle along because UTA doesn’t go everywhere we want to go. Combining a bike with the bus and train
system really is a great way to get around, which brings me to the second

“We are doing what we
can to accommodate bike riders”

That’s a lie and they
know it. Accommodating bike riders means
allowing them to sit down when seats are available. It means allowing more than four bikes per
train car. It means equipping busses to
carry more than two bikes at a time. It
means treating cyclists with respect because we’re doing our part to alleviate traffic
and pollution. Strict enforcement of the
rules for bikes discourages people from riding bikes, and worse, from riding
public transportation.

What does
accommodating bike riders mean to you? Please   write to UTA and tell them. In the meantime, I’ll still be riding the train in one of the
comfortable seats while keeping one eye out for the cops. Thank you UTA, for making me feel like a

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Kokopelli's Trail


cyclist’s legs are the opposite of cars when it comes to miles. The more miles you get on your legs the more
efficient and reliable they will be. My
brother had this painfully demonstrated to him last weekend while we rode all
142 miles of Kokopelli’s Trail from Fruita,
Colorado to Moab, Utah.

get me wrong. Darren is a  fit
guy. He’s stronger than me in most
ways. He could probably bench press me
if I could hold still long enough for him to try, but alas, I’m ticklish. But you can not train for cycling in the
weight room. It’s my belief that my
brother just doesn’t have the base miles in his legs because he won’t ride to

first twenty miles of Kokopelli’s Trail are fantastic single track. Instead of enjoying it I fell at least five
times while trying to climb technical sections.  Then I realized that the cleat
on my left shoe was loose. I tried to tighten
it but the threads were stripped so I had to ride the next twenty miles
unclipped. Mags let me borrow the bolts
from her shoes at lunch so I could continue.   

the first twenty miles the ‘trail’ followed gravel, paved and 4WD roads. There was some token single track near Cisco
and again above Fisher Valley, but the majority of the trail followed roads. 

knee started hurting somewhere around the thirtieth mile. Tenacity, pride, or fear of being stranded in
the desert, kept him going. His pain
slowed him down but he persisted. I
thought he might call it quits after lunch the first day. I hoped he would quit after lunch the second
day. I was getting tired of waiting for
him. Halfway up the second of three big
climbs on Sunday I actually stopped and took a thirty minute nap on the 'trail' while I waited for him.  I gave him some
of my water because he’d run out and left him behind again. I felt bad about leaving him but I didn’t
want to ride in the dark. One flat tire
and a broken chain later I finished in Moab on Sunday night with a total riding time of 15 hours 33 minutes. 

hours after I finished, Mags and I drove back up the ‘trail’ and found Darren
on the final descent. I offered to drive
behind him with my high beams on so he could see while he finished the
ride. He was out of water again and had
been riding for thirteen hours that day. He called it good enough and climbed into the car. I noticed that his bike was still in granny
gear. He’d been riding downhill for at
least five miles, but hadn’t shifted into a bigger gear. Wow, I thought, he must be hurting worse than
I thought. I’m sure it hurt him worse to
not finish the ride.

was waxed, tired and grumpy as Mags drove us to our campsite for the night. I remember thinking that I would not invite Darren
on another long ride like this again. Then I remembered that I had invited three people to join me on this
ride, and Darren was the only one that showed up. He suffered immensely and didn’t complain at
all. He still made jokes at dinner.

I’d invite him again.