Archive for September, 2011

September 30, 2011

30 Days of Biking: Final Report

After great riding in Week One, Week Two, and Week Three, here’s how it went in the final week-plus of 30 Days of Biking, along with a mileage tally for the full 30 days.

Barb Chamberlain in green jersey dress with Po Campo bags, 9-22-11

Jersey is a great fabric for dresses to bike in. It's soft, forgiving, and washable.

Thursday, Sept. 22: A beautiful sunny fall day. Crisp enough that I wore a cardigan over my dress for the morning ride, balmy enough that I didn’t need that same cardigan riding home at 10:30pm.

10:30pm?! Yep. I packed this day full: physical therapy, work, a downtown meeting, back to work, a stop by Rite-Aid in downtown to pick up a necessity or two for Second Daughter, then to Spokane Civic Theatre for the “family and friends” dress rehearsal of Thoroughly Modern Millie, in which she has a role in the chorus. I rode home through the gentle darkness humming songs from the play and thinking about the brief night-time ride I had recently with my sweetheart; I was glad to get to enjoy another peaceful night ride. Miles: 9.6

Friday, Sept. 23: A Nuu-Muu day–I took some time off to run more errands for Eldest Daughter’s upcoming nuptials and racked up the mileage.

Stops along the way: Early-morning meeting at LaunchPad, the Spokesman-Review building to finalize the layout for the wedding, Saranac Building for a meeting on transportation policy with T4Washington, Chairs Coffee just north of downtown for lunch with Sweet Hubs and some awesome Roast House Coffee, rental store to arrange for wedding linens, Spokane Public Market for some goodies, Sun People Dry Goods, up the hill to Spokane Yoga Shala for some quality stretching and some even higher-quality time in corpse pose when my sore shoulders gave out, farther up the hill for the wedding banquet permit from the liquor store (whoops! How did that Irish cream end up in my Donkey Boxx?!), and home at last. Miles: 13.8 and sunshine all the way

Saturday, Sept. 24: A beautiful day to wear a Ruu-Muu and ride up the hill with Sweet Hubs to pick up some things at Rosauers. Coasting back downhill is so fun! Miles: 3.84

Sunday, Sept. 25: The skies looked a bit overcast but that didn’t dampen our spirits–Sweet Hubs and I rode to Chaps for one of their outstanding breakfasts, with rain gear packed in case we needed it.

It’s a nice six-mile ride there: we wound through tree-lined Rockwood Boulevard, sailed downhill on Washington, enjoyed the nice new asphalt on 2nd Avenue, then dropped down Inland Empire Way through Vinegar Flats. Very few cars in sight anywhere along the route at 8:30 on a Sunday morning–we had 2nd pretty much all to ourselves.

Coming back, of course, some of that “sailing down”and “dropping through” represents “climbing up,” but we were fueled by potatoes and eggs. We used 4th Avenue for much of the return route through downtown–quieter than 3rd and has a bike lane for a bit. Home to some French press Roast House Coffee roasted by our friends Deb and Dave and a quiet Sunday of chores and messing about with projects.

Outfit: A Ruu-Muu, Pedal Panties, and one of my hats by Old Man’s Pants picked up from Sun People Dry Goods to cover my messy hair. Miles: 11.98 (exactly 6 miles there but a hair under coming back).

Monday, Sept. 26: Forecast: mid 60s, 30-40% chance of showers. Not much riding in the day, really: physical therapy appointment, work, a meeting at the Spokane Regional Transportation Council in the afternoon, then home. Managed to dodge the raindrops completely; a light sprinkle fell while I was inside at the SRTC meeting.

Franco Sarto black shoes

I wear these Franco Sartos more than just about any shoe in my closet. They work with jeans, skirts and tights, or trousers, and have a nice grippy sole for pedal contact.

Outfit: Black knee-length skirt, black tights, black and white striped tank, bright apricot jacket, black shoes by Franco Sarto that have been my go-to shoes for several years now. I keep resoling them because their sensible heel and relatively timeless design match up equally well with pants or with skirts and tights, I can walk for miles in them if need be, and they’re great for the bike. Miles: 5.71

Tuesday, Sept. 27: It rained in the night and the forecast was for additional chance of showers. That’s why I have rain pants and covers for my shoes, although I didn’t end up using either today.

Quite seriously, I would rather ride than drive even when it rains. By the time I was ready to leave for the downtown meeting that started my morning it was only sprinkling lightly and the air smelled damp and fresh.

I wore black tights and those great shoes from yesterday, a gray herringbone knee-length skirt, black tank, and long dark green jacket. It’s a worsted wool so it’s awesome for biking–handles the rain fine and would keep me warm even if I got really wet underneath, which I didn’t. I also wore a skullcap under my helmet, which protected my hair from the damp.

The gray skies darkened during my meeting and my midday dash to campus was a little wetter but I was dry within a few minutes of getting inside. By the time I headed back downtown around 1:45pm the streets were dry, and I rode home at the end of the day in brilliant sunshine. That’s Spokane fall weather for you! Miles: 6.93

I feel veddy veddy British in my velvet topper! (My maternal grandmother came from England to the colonies on a ship at the tender age of four years old.) The cover is vented in the back so your head doesn't have to cook, but provides a nice wind block on these cooler days.

Wednesday, Sept. 28: Crisp morning ride, beautiful sunshiney day! The white jeans I wore were a bad call, as my dark saddle (which is pretty well broken in) is apparently not quite done giving up its color to whatever makes contact with it…. Good thing I could spend a fair amount of the day in my chair!

And a mental note to self that if I want to ride in these pants I have to cover the saddle. They’re a bit too wide-legged, actually, but darn cute with a black and white spotted top, little black cardigan, and those black go-to shoes I keep wearing.

I reined in the right pant leg with a cute snap-on dealio made by a friend (like a fabric cuff–prettier than the velcro things and still with reflective trim). When I started riding, though, I realized the flare was a bit flappy even on the left leg, so I stuffed that into my sock.

I wore a black velvet scarf to keep my throat warm buzzing downhill in the morning, and topped off the whole thing with my brand-new helmet cover made by Hub and Bespoke in Seattle, now available through Bike Style! Love it–the Yakkay look without the Yakkay price and it will fit either a standard “racing” helmet (pointy with vents) or the round style. Miles: 6.15

Thursday, Sept. 29: Another gorgeous day! Nippy enough in the morning that on the way to a 7 a.m. meeting I wished I had knee covers under my flippy red skirt, but tank top weather midday and not at all cold riding home around 7 p.m. Full-fingered gloves for the morning ride, cute Ana Nichoolas with the bows the rest of the day back and forth through downtown. At noon I got to ride along the Spokane River on the way back to campus. We’re so lucky to have a river running through the heart of downtown!

(In a Stage Mom aside, this day also brought the news that Second Daughter will play the lead role, Elle, in the Lewis & Clark High School production of “Legally Blonde.” Since the rights just got released, this may well be one of the first high school productions of the show in the country–or the world?)

Outfit: Aforesaid flippy red skirt, white tank, denim jacket, beloved Bandolinos. Miles: 9.06

Friday, Sept. 30! Thanks to the upcoming wedding of Eldest Daughter (this Sunday!) today included lots of driving for errands. I managed to squeeze in a short ride–all uphill at the beginning, all downhill at the end–to go visit Betsy at Spokane Yoga Shala. (I didn’t actually stay and do yoga–more family errands.)

Because it was such a short ride I stayed in the jeans and tank top I wore for the day, although jeans aren’t something I would recommend for riding because of their typically heavy seams and chafing tendencies.

What an utterly glorious day! Pleasant temperature, sunny skies. I felt as if I could have ridden forever. Miles: 1.87

Mileage for 30 Days of Biking:

Week One: 36.12

Week Two: 57.89

Week Three: 42.23

Week Four-Plus: 68.94

30-day total: 205.18 (Yes–over 200! I initially published this with mileage of 199.49, but then discovered I had missed recording mileage on one of the days. Whew. Not that I’m obsessive about round numbers or anything, but 199.49 is soooo close to 200.)

Things I notice about my 30 Days of Riding:

  • Weather doesn’t intimidate me. On a day like Sunday, when the weather wasn’t 100% beautiful, it didn’t occur to me to say, “Oh, let’s drive instead, Honey.” I’ve noticed Spokane’s weather pattern often tries to intimidate you in the morning. It either clears off or drops its rain in the middle of the day, leaving me with a fresh-smelling ride home.
  • I have certain go-to outfits. I should mix it up more. I wouldn’t notice this pattern if it weren’t for recording what I wore every day to give you a sense of the regular clothes I wear to ride.
  • I definitely have go-to shoes. While I can ride in any of the shoes I own, some provide much better design for feeling as if they’re solidly on my foot and have a better sole for gripping on the pedal. Paying attention to those design features helps me in future shoe shopping.
  • I bike so much that it feels funny to drive. When I headed out the door this morning and got in the car (carrying my Po Campo Loop Pannier because I needed to haul my laptop and it’s not just a bike bag, it’s a pretty purse), something felt off. As I started to pull out of the driveway I realized one contributing factor: my hands felt naked without biking gloves. It was such a beautiful day and I was trapped in that hot box of steel instead of out there feeling it on my skin and living in the world. I feel sorry for people who have to drive every day.

Thank you, 30 Days of Biking organizers, for giving me the chance to reflect every day on what it takes–and what it means–to ride my bike.

Watch for tomorrow’s post: A round-up of all 30 posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging.

Your Turn

  • Did you participate in 30 Days of Biking?
  • If not, how much riding did you get in this month?
Advertisements
September 29, 2011

Dear Reader, I Chicked Him

A couple of days ago I chicked a guy.

That is to say, I overtook and passed him climbing a hill on the way home.

Wearing a skirt.

Mind you, only one of us was aware this was a race. He looked as if he was taking it fairly easy going up the hill when I first saw him somewhere around Sherman Avenue and maybe 7th or so. I caught a glimpse of him as I turned right (south) from 5th.

Now, I’m not fiercely competitive in many aspects of life. I like to support and encourage and see someone go on to greater things. But put someone’s back ahead of me on a bike and I spin faster. Can’t help it.

So I pegged away up the hill at least 1-2 miles faster than my usual climbing pace, which isn’t very fast given that I try not to sweat on my work rides wearing regular clothing. If nothing else, he was motivating me to put more workout value in the ride and that was an acceptable outcome.

I began to feel the gap closing, kept gaining, and finally passed him (ah, sweet victory!) a little above 10th, calling out “On your left!” with a smile in my voice and a song in my heart as I pedaled past. He didn’t chase me down and catch me before I reached my turn another six blocks up and I felt pretty triumphant, all in all.

Whether this particular terminology–which I learned from my husband when I caught and passed a guy who had passed me on a long climb on the Old Palouse Highway–is sexist, I forebear from judging.

As a feminist who never stopped using the F word to describe myself, I figure I can claim the word “chick” or “girl” (spelled, however, with a vowel and only one R—I did major in English) if I want to without giving up my independence.*

Earlier this summer, I executed an even better “chicking,” if that’s the right verb form (hey, wait, I majored in English—it’s right).

That time it was a guy who did look like he was trying, bless his barrel-chested heart, in his workout clothes pegging up the steep overpass on the Centennial Trail that takes you over Hamilton.

I breezed past him without breaking a sweat in my flowered skirt and high heels. I figure with the skirt and heels that’s at least a triple chicking.

—————

*I would argue, however, that this is one of those terms that I can claim as a member of the group described–not one of those terms it’s okay for an outsider to apply in an attempt to bond or in a lame effort at cool hipness.

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • Does your competitive streak emerge when a rider passes you or you see someone ahead?
  • Are we all in secret races with each other all the time? (If so, what do we get when we win?)
September 28, 2011

Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style

Inspired by Bicycling Magazine

Cyclists who reading Bicycling know that its content aims primarily at racing cyclists and people who like to think they might be someday. Ads for Hammer and GU gel, car ads that compare the feeling of driving to the feeling of cycling at high speed, training tips for people who plan their lives around “base/build/peak”—this isn’t for a 12mph rider on an old Schwinn, or someone who adds an electric motor to his/her bicycle to make it possible to get up hills without working.

A Cyclist Rites of Passage piece they ran a while back has a lot of high notes for their typical reader, and a few for the rest of us. I thought I’d add a few of my own.

First, you might go read their list and the comments. I particularly like the one who said, “Realizing that you want to ride so bad that the trailer and kid on the back that add 60lbs to the already 7% climb is a small price to pay.”

This person is hard-core, but is a parent who’s ready for Spokane’s hills. (And don’t automatically assume this is a dad, either).

In no particular order, here are some of my own rites of passage—some specific to Spokane, some not. Why not start riding and rack up a few of your own?

  1. Catching and passing a guy (after he first passed you) on a steep hill on the Old Palouse Highway coming back from coffee at On Sacred Grounds in Valleyford with your sweetheart who cheers you on, after which he explains the meaning of the phrase “to get chicked,” as in, “You just chicked that guy!”.
  2. Leaving for your morning commute in the rain, knowing that you’ll be riding home in either rain or snow or brilliant sunshine.
  3. Riding down Washington at 30-35+ mph when all the lights are turning green for you and realizing it would be so much easier to shoot the lights if the cars didn’t get in the way. (Drivers who aren’t hypermilers do a lot of jack-rabbit starts, then have to slow for the next red light just before it turns green, instead of going at a nice steady pace that would let them keep rolling all the way to the Spokane River. They could learn something from the cyclists.)
  4. Recognizing that downtown Spokane has a slight rise heading west to east—something you never really noticed when you drove through.
  5. Learning which hills give you the shallowest climb up the South Hill or north side.
  6. Avoiding the Centennial Trail as a commute route because it slows you down. (Did you know there’s a speed limit? 15 mph.)
  7. Choosing the Centennial Trail as a route because it lets you ride by the Spokane River, and that’s worth slowing down for.
  8. Discovering there are some great biking bloggers in Spokane.
  9. Creating a log-in at a cycling site with your main email address, not the one you use for warranties and junk email, because you actually want to read the newsletter they’ll send you.
  10. Volunteering to do something in your community to make it better for cyclists, whether it’s working on bike infrastructure, helping put on a family ride, or showing up to testify at City Council in support of the master bike plan.
  11. Asking candidates for public office where they stand on using transportation dollars to pay for bike infrastructure—and voting accordingly, since bikes are transportation.
  12. Joining bike organizations that advocate politically and publicly on behalf of cyclists, not just ones that put on club rides.
  13. Realizing you don’t know the price of gas—and you don’t have to, any more than you have to carry change for parking meters.
  14. Learning that within downtown Spokane, it’s usually faster to bike to a meeting than it is to find your car in the parking lot, drive, find another parking spot, realize you don’t have change for the parking meter, run to the meeting to borrow some, run back, plug the meter, and scurry back to your meeting in high heels. That could just be me J but for most trips under two or three miles–and most urban trips ARE under two or three miles–the bike is frequently faster than the car.
  15. Drawing the circle within which you’re going to house hunt based on three factors: high school zone for your kids, legislative district for your politics, and bike distance to work (and associated hills) for your legs and butt.
  16. Walking into a Chamber of Commerce event taking off your helmet and carrying your panniers like they’re your briefcase.
  17. Saying jokingly to a Chamber staffer, “You put in that new bike rack outside the building because of me, right?” and having that person answer in all seriousness, “Yes.”
  18. Having people look twice when you show up at a meeting without your reflective lime green/yellow jacket or helmet.
  19. Realizing that a building or establishment that doesn’t have a bike rack or other secure bike parking facility isn’t your problem—it’s their problem—and asking them where you can put your bike so they have to solve that problem, the way they solved it for their car-driving customers. (The Davenport Hotel checks my bike like a suitcase—awesome service, delivered without batting an eyelash. If enough of us ask, building owners will catch on and put in bike parking. You can get a lot of customers for a really small investment; just ask all those restaurants I patronize because they have bike racks.)
  20. Falling for the first time as an adult—getting up bleeding—and finishing the ride instead of calling for help with your cell phone. (This one is for Betsy J, founder of Belles and Baskets.)
  21. Smiling at a motorist who yells, “Get on the sidewalk where you belong!” because you know the law, and he clearly doesn’t, and because a sense of humor is part of your mental toolkit for riding. (Bikes on sidewalks are illegal in downtown Spokane, by the way.)
  22. Particularly for women: Realizing that you now evaluate potential clothing purchases based on whether you can bike comfortably in them, in addition to how they look on you and whether they’re on sale.
  23. Answering the statement, “You didn’t bike in those shoes” (said with a glance at your high heels) with “Yes” and enjoying the disbelief that ensues.
  24. Answering the statement, “You didn’t bike in that outfit” (said with a glance at your skirt) with “Yes” and enjoying the disbelief that ensues.
  25. Having bikes in your living room because—well—your house is where you live, and bikes are how you live.

I’m sure there are many more. Add yours in the comments!

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • Which ones on this list have you done?
  • What are the items on your “biking rites of passage” list?
September 27, 2011

Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence

If you’re just tuning in, welcome to this series of mental attitude warm-ups for bike commuting: risk and trust, friendliness and willingness to try new things. Up, down, up, down! Now try these other brain cells.*

Tolerance. If you’re already riding, you’ve encountered people who need to tell you all about the “bad biker” they encountered recently. Tolerance (hey, at least they saw the cyclist!) helps these indigestible chunks go down, and it tastes even better if you season it with a big dash of humor.

There’s more than one form of feedback you’ll need to tolerate. You have to be tolerant of those people at work who look at you like you’re crazy (especially on days that are on the rainy or cold side). You might point them to my post that compares the hassle factor of bike commuting compared with driving (although it makes more sense to someone who’s been through the complete psychological conversion process ㋡).

You also have to be tolerant of drivers who tell you all their stories about bad bikers–those sidewalk-terrorizing, helmetless scofflaws (or just cyclists who take the lane as they’re legally entitled to).

If you ride the Centennial Trail you’ll encounter pedestrians with baby strollers who think the “wheels only” lane in Riverfront Park is for them, people who are positive(ly wrong) their unleashed dogs are perfectly polite and would never take a chunk out of a passing cyclist, toddlers who zig when their parents think they’re going to zag, rude cyclists who whiz past without yelling “On your left!” to let you know they’re sneaking up behind you, and other joys of sharing a public space.

Tolerance. Tolerance. Tolerance. We’re all in this together.

Persistence. You can’t try this bike thing once and then quit. After all, that’s not how you learned to ride a bike in the first place.

Your first time testing out the route to work (which should be on a quiet Sunday, by the way, not a busy Monday morning when you’re nervous about being late) may not go that smoothly.

You’ll feel discouraged at times by weather or road conditions. (I have this belief that no one—NO ONE—is more interested in seeing Spokane’s streets improved than cyclists. We are our own shock absorbers and we know street conditions far more—ahem—intimately than any driver.)

On the other hand, maybe your first few trips will be delightful and you’ll figure they’re all going to be like that.

No, honey, they’re not.

Sometimes a grouchy driver does honk and yell at you to get on the sidewalk. (Please don’t.)

Sometimes you leave in the morning on a beautiful sunny day and ride home in the afternoon in a cloudburst (or you get smart and throw your bike onto the rack on an STA bus to ride home in dry comfort).

You get a flat tire (and realize that the ability to fix a flat is one of the great empowerment moments riding a bike offers–it’s a lot easier than on your car and a whole lot cheaper, too).

But if you keep riding you’ll experience a transformation. You’ll find you’re a lot more comfortable with the vagaries of weather than when you were safely insulated in a cocoon. You’ll be more aware of your neighborhood and your surroundings. You’ll see the world differently. You’re a bike commuter.

Tolerance and a sense of humor. Persistence. Openness to new things. Friendliness. Willingness to take some risks. Trustworthiness. Huh. This isn’t a bad list for life in general.

Amazing what you learn from the vantage point of a bike saddle.

—————

*With apologies to Bob Hope–at least I think it was Bob Hope–for ripping off a joke I read years ago in my parents’ Reader’s Digest. It went something like this:

“Do I exercise? Sure I do! First thing every morning. Up, down, up, down. Okay, boy, now let’s try the other eyelid.”

—————

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

Tags: ,
September 26, 2011

More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness

Another post on the mental attitudes that will help you with your bike commuting, in addition to risk and trust.

Friendliness. Smiling at drivers and making eye contact makes a big difference when you’re between them and their destination (although, as noted in a previous post, we aren’t the only things slowing them down and interfering with their entitlement to speed unimpeded through life and intersections).

Whenever you make eye contact you’re making the point that we’re all in this together. You’re another human being, not a speed bump to be run over.

This is also one of the great joys of bike commuting. I smile at people as I pass them and they smile back. I ring my bike bell at little kids riding their bikes and they beam (and try to race me).

I’ve given directions to I don’t know how many bewildered drivers trying to sort out Spokane’s downtown one-way streets. After all, I’m accessible because I’m on a bike. They can’t stop another driver to get help.

I try to think of myself as an ambassador for bike commuters. My job is to make friends, not enemies.

Openness to new things. This is a biggie. What will it take for you to change your mindset?

We all have our excuses about why we can’t change. I get to hear a lot of those from people overcome by pangs of guilt when I come into a meeting with my helmet and panniers.

You’re just used to driving. You have a habit. Habits can be changed.

Once upon a time our mothers all cooked with Crisco, right? Now you know about trans-fats and other scary things and you use canola or olive oil. You may not even be frying things any more. And it turned out that grilled food tastes pretty good, doesn’t it? You can actually taste the food, not the thick greasy coating.

Or maybe you’ve already started riding your bike but certain things still make you feel uncertain, whether it’s riding in traffic or riding fast down a big hill.

Can you tell yourself this is the year you’ll be open to trying new things and give it a shot? Remember, September is a great time for resolutions–it’s back to school season.

New things. Try ‘em, you’ll like ‘em.

—————

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • Do you smile at drivers? Does it change how you feel about them and how they behave toward you?
  • Has trying new things on your bike led you to be more willing to try new things in other parts of your life? Made you braver?
Tags: ,
September 25, 2011

Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust

This isn’t about helmets, lights, reflective/high-visibility clothing, fenders for rainy days, or any of the rest of the gear list in an earlier post. It’s not Cycle Chic fashion advice telling you your closet is full of biking clothes.

Instead this is my take on the other essentials for bike commuting: the mental ones.

Willingness to take some risks–call it courage. I’m not talking about deliberately playing in traffic or riding the wrong way on a one-way street—no stupid risks.

I mean the willingness to swallow hard and take the lane when the road narrows and you need to keep going.

The drivers behind you can wait. They’re supposed to—it’s the law.

They’d have to wait if you were a big truck using both lanes to make a right-hand turn, a bus stopping to let off or pick up passengers, someone in a wheelchair crossing the street, one of those drivers you think is maybe a tad too old to keep driving waiting cautiously to make a left-hand turn, pedestrians using the crosswalk…. You get the idea. We aren’t “different”–we are traffic.

We all need to get over the notion that being in traffic somehow guarantees you the right to an unimpeded flow from starting point to destination. Never has, never will.

Traffic is a game of physics—or maybe pinball—with people bouncing around like particles pushed by various forces. Whether it’s a string of red lights as people jam on their brakes because of a collision, or a cyclist moving out of a bike lane and into the vehicle travel lane to prepare for a left turn, traffic will always move more like an accordion than like an arrow.

Trustworthiness. This is the flip side of risk-taking. This bears repeating: You’re safer when drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists can trust you to behave consistently.

Are you predictable? Can I count on you? If you’re biking in the right-hand tire track of the lane (a good position much of the time) will you stay there and not veer into the parking spots that are empty for a block, then dodge back out into the flow of traffic? Will you stay in the lane and not jump up onto the sidewalk for a stretch, startling pedestrians and disappearing from the driver’s view until you pop back out at a light?

Think about how can be as trustworthy as possible for other travelers around you. You’ll be safer and so will they.

————

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • How has your attitude toward traffic interactions changed since you first started commuting?
  • Do you consider yourself a trustworthy rider/traffic participant?
September 24, 2011

It’s All in the Attitude

Large antique-looking clock face showing 11:30

There's just as much time as you think there is.

Busy, busy, busy. Rush, rush, rush. We’re an impatient society, always in a hurry to get somewhere. We’re like the automated cleaning devices in The Fifth Element as described by Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (played with evil deliciousness, or delicious evilness, by Gary Oldman): “Look at all these little things. So busy now. Notice how each one is useful. What a lovely ballet ensues, so full of form and color.”

Nowhere is this kind of bustling around more evident than in our traffic patterns (although “lovely ballet” doesn’t really describe the intersection of Sprague and Division all that well…. And come to think of it, the little critters were cleaning up after destruction—how apropos).

The idea that by hurrying we are somehow more productive, more in line with “progress,” more efficient with our time, pushes people to exceed the speed limit by some “acceptable” number of MPH, squeeze the orange at the traffic light, execute a rolling stop instead of a full stop, glance without really looking, assume there’s no one coming—you know where I’m going with this and Planetizen has a good essay on just how wrong some of these assumptions about time and productivity are.*

Those little creatures in The Fifth Element didn’t have much choice—scurrying around was programmed into their very being. We, on the other hand, have choices. As Kent’s Bike Blog points out, by slowing down we give ourselves the gift of time.

I was one of those impatient drivers. Red light? Time to tap my fingers on the steering wheel and mutter under my breath, “C’mon, change!”  I chose routes to avoid traffic lights so I could take my destiny into my own hands.

I’m also susceptible to the pressure created by the tailgating driver behind me who doesn’t like it if I really observe the speed limit, as if pushing me from behind will speed me up.

But it does, doesn’t it? Imperceptibly you speed up to create a gap, which the other driver promptly closes again, and next thing you know you’re meeting that nice Officer Olson who ran a speed trap on South Ray last fall (not that I have any specific reason for being aware of this, of course, apart from Second Daughter being late for her voice lesson).

Where was I? Oh, right, impatient driver.

Then I started biking. My calculation of time is so different now!

I look more at distance than at time, for one thing, to see whether something is bikeable given other constraints in the schedule. Then I work out about how long it should take me to get there.

Not because I’ll decide not to bike if it takes “too much” time, though—just to allow for the time it takes to bike.

What a change! I no longer worry about “losing” time. How can you lose time anyway? You don’t have it stockpiled in a big jar from which you withdraw some when you need it. Time just passes and our experience of that passage is really subjective.

Time can pass at what feels like an infuriatingly s-l-o-w rate while I pound the steering wheel and grind my teeth.

Or it can pass without me even noticing while I coast downhill, smell the coffee roaster I pass on my way to work, and watch for potholes so I can pick my line of travel to be predictable and visible for the driver behind me and not get my teeth bashed together by the cracks on Sprague. (I appear to have a thing about teeth, kind of like my thing about fingernails.)

I still try to take routes that avoid traffic lights, mostly because sometimes my bike doesn’t trip the signal. But if I do hit a red light it doesn’t trigger teeth-gnashing; instead, I take it as a chance to catch my breath. It’s welcome, not resented, and that makes a lot of difference in my trip to work, or through downtown to get to a meeting.

I can’t tell you how much more relaxing it is to arrive at work after this kind of trip than after the teeth-gnashing, steering-wheel-pounding kind. Since negative stress is hard on your cells but exercise can offset this effect I may even be extending my years on the planet. How’s that for saving time?

——————-

*All this rushing around in the car at least saves a minute or two, right? Wrong.

If you do the calculations, the difference between driving at 30mph vs. 35mph over a distance of six miles (which I picked because that’s the approximate distance between 57th/Regal and Riverside/Post, or Country Homes Blvd/Lincoln Rd. and Riverside/Post, so it seems like an average Spokane commute), is less than two minutes.

Let me also point out that a pedestrian hit by a car moving at 30mph has a 45% chance of dying; at 40mph, the chance of death is 85%, according to Britain’s Department of Transport. So when you gain a few minutes as a driver you greatly increase the potential damage you’ll wreak in the event of an impact.

What about the difference between biking and driving—huge, right? Wrong again.

Assume I bike at an average speed of 15 (which I sure can’t do going up the Post Street hill, but I can do 35+ coming down the Bernard/Washington arterial so it averages out coming and going). If I had this same six-mile route I’d spend 24 minutes on the bike vs. 12 minutes if I drove at 30mph (ignoring traffic lights and school zones for the sake of comparison).

So over the course of a round trip I would spend 24 more minutes biking than the driver, in return for which I’ve had all the exercise I need in the day, zero money spent on gas or parking, zero frustration at red lights, and (I hope) zero damage to my tooth enamel.

Yeah, I’ll take that.

Related Reading

—————

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • What is your attitude toward time when driving?
  • When biking?
  • How has biking affected your attitude about the various mental elements of transportation?
Tags: ,
September 23, 2011

Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It

  • Shift down as I slow down or approach a stop.
  • Shift down as I start to climb a hill.
  • As I shift down when climbing, do so with the pedals slightly unweighted (not under force).
  • Adjust my pace as I pedal through downtown in a way that is conducive to catching the light changes in my favor.
  • Shift my weight back slightly on the seat when braking, which prevents that feeling that you’re going to plunge over the front tire when you’re braking hard.
  • Start my braking earlier when it’s wet or frosty; the brake calipers need some distance and friction to dry off the rims and do their job.
  • Bring one pedal up to the 3:00 position as I stand on the other leg at the stop. Why? Because this gives me a gentle rolling start when I take off. (As previously noted, I can’t do a track stand.)
  • Give my ankle a gentle twist to the side to click out of my SPDs when needed, if I’m wearing my bike shoes. (In fact, I do this sometimes unconsciously as I come to a stop even when I’m wearing regular shoes, which I found quite funny when I first noticed since I have no idea how many times I’ve done it without realizing.)
  • Smile and give a small wave to drivers and pedestrians as I make eye contact with them. Hidden message: “Hey, I’m a human being.”
  • Look back to make eye contact with a driver as I signal a turn, or before I start off when the light turns green—one more chance to make sure he/she sees me.
  • Look ahead for debris that I should avoid so I don’t get a flat tire.
  • Look back—a lot—to check for drivers before making a lane change.
  • Scan driveways and cross streets as I approach them for cross traffic of any kind.
  • Watch out for pedestrians. (I thought I did before but now I really do. We’re in it together as vulnerable users of the street.)
  • Stay in a position behind a large truck or bus that leaves me visible to the driver in his/her side view mirror. This means not dead center—either right or left enough so the driver knows you’re there—and not so close to the truck that I’m invisible.
  • Take the lane when I need to so I am visible and thus safer.
  • Steer clear of the door zone in a stretch with parked cars. (Hence the need to take the lane.)
  • Load-balance the things I’m carrying.
  • Lift up on the handlebars when I’m riding into a parking lot or anywhere else with a bit of a lip so I don’t hit it quite so hard. I managed to pop two tires at once hitting a driveway entrance too hard and too fast and don’t want to repeat that.
  • Pick a line of travel going downhill around a curve that lets me feel safe and take advantage of the earned acceleration without slowing much, if at all.

Now, for long-time commuters much of this is so obvious or basic it isn’t worth putting on a list.

My point exactly: Things that didn’t come automatically in the early days, if at all, are now second nature. It does get easier, and the more you ride the safer you become in your habits and the more unconscious basic bike handling will become.

This development of habits, along with some of the clothing adjustments I’ve made, lead to my final point. Without even thinking about it, I

  • Ride all kinds of distances in all kinds of weather in all kinds of clothing as my regular and preferred form of transportation.

Once you get going you won’t have to think much about your bike commute. It becomes as reflexive as driving may be for you now.

————

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • What do you have to think a lot about right now in your riding?
  • What did you used to think about that you no longer have to think about?
Tags:
September 22, 2011

30 Days of Biking: Week Three!

How apropos that on World Carfree Day I’m still rolling with 30 Days of Biking, coasting through Week Three after a great Week One and Week Two:

Thursday, Sept. 15: The day dawned with a gray sky and the delicious fresh smell of rain in the air. It looked a bit as if that rain had already fallen in the night but I couldn’t be sure, so I threw some rain pants and jacket into my Donkey Boxx and got rolling in a gray knee-length skirt, aquamarine silk/nylon blend sweater set with elbow-length sleeves, and gray Aerosole sling-back pumps (really comfy for riding!), accessorized by an awesome multi-strand silver/pearl necklace I got at Tangerine on Bikespedition #1.

Nope, that rain didn’t fall in the night. It held off until I got to the stoplight at Sprague and Division, then opened up with nice big splatting drops. I dashed the long block to work and got inside with my bike–somewhat damp but I dry fast (and so do the fabrics I choose to wear, which is not a coincidence).

After that the weather got better and better all day, with sunshine and breezes by lunchtime. I never encountered any more rain through plenty of errands after the morning meeting: haircut downtown, back to campus to present on social media to a student brown-bag, appointment at one of the Deaconess buildings on 6th, back to campus for a Revita Rehab treatment session for my computer-induced backaches, some time in the office, Main Market Co-op for dinner from the deli since I missed lunch, then to another meeting just north of downtown on Lincoln, and home at last through gathering dusk with lights going. Miles: 12.85

Friday, Sept. 16: Not much riding and all of it easy. I zipped into downtown to stop by Eldest Daughter’s wedding venue and then the bank (possibly related activities), then headed to work.

Today’s forecast was only in the mid-70s, down 20 degrees from last weekend. I’m starting to shift to the fall wardrobe a bit. It still involves lots of skirts, but paired with tights for a little more leg warmth.

Outfit: Knee-length corduroy flared skirt, brown tights with a bit of a fishnet pattern, brown pumps I got at The Walking Store that provide really nice foot coverage and grip on the pedal, a black long-sleeved T-shirt, and a brown jacket. Plenty for the cool morning temps and not too much for the sunny midday warmth.

Our family routine includes a trip to pick up my husband’s kids on odd-numbered weekends. This means I ride to work, then he picks me up at the end of the day, takes the front wheel off the bike, and puts it in the back of our Honda Odyssey for a l-o-n-g drive. Hence the short mileage today. Miles: 3.61

The weight adds up fast! A gallon of milk, roughly 6 lbs. of cheese of various types, 2 bags of macaroni, a quart of half & half, bananas, English muffins, a box of crackers, & 2 cans of coconut milk (I make a killer good coconut/vanilla/almond ice cream) added up to an interesting packing/balancing/not-crushing grocery distribution act.

Saturday, Sept. 17: We took the kids up to Green Bluff to pick apples and peaches–not a bike trip for that one! So when we got back I hopped on the bike to head up to Rosauers for some ingredients to make dinner for our future newlyweds, who were coming over expecting some killer mac/cheese thanks to a friend bandying about a recipe on Facebook.

I had my Donkey Boxx on one side and put one of my old Black Uglies on the other side for balance and additional capacity. I wish I’d put my Po Campo Logan Tote on top too, as it turned out–it would have provided needed space and a better load balance. A second Donkey Boxx would have been better than the Black Ugly too, but I want to leave one side free for my Po Campo Loop Pannier so I won’t commit to the Boxx.

The load I ended up with was both heavy and bulky. I asked the box boy to balance the weight between the two bags but hadn’t factored in the need to have things of the right shape, as well as the right weight, in the right place to fit right, so I ended up standing at the bike rack unpacking and repacking for a while. The back of the bike felt pretty squirrelly as I got rolling so I didn’t go bombing down Southeast Boulevard the way I usually do–I actually used my brakes. Miles: 3.85

Sunday, Sept. 18: As I said last week, I have to plan to get weekend miles in if I’m not going anywhere in particular. Today’s plans fell through.

I was going to meet up with Eldest Daughter to shop for some wedding-related chatchkes but we postponed that until next weekend. Too bad, as it would have been a nice 14 miles or so round trip.

Instead the day flew by. I made doughnuts for a breakfast treat, worked on some editing projects (my moonlighting gig), then got involved in making rhubarb-plum jam from goodies I got at South Perry Farmers’ Market and our Saturday trip to Green Bluff.

Suddenly it was time to drive to Pasco and I hadn’t ridden my bike. Blue skies, sunshine–and over 5 hours of car time ahead of me.

So when we got back in pitch darkness I said to Sweet Hubs, “I know this sounds silly but I’m going to go ride my bike around the block. Want to go with me?”

“Sure!” he said. And away we went. Sweet-smelling cool darkness (it rained Saturday night), quiet streets with almost no traffic, easy pedaling, a nice neighbor who stopped and waited to let us pass through an intersection together. Downtime, in the best sense of the word; I only wish we’d ridden longer. I highly recommend an occasional nighttime ride, preferably with a sweetheart if you have one. Miles: 0.55

Oh–and this is the day that thanks to my Women’s Bike Blogs list I discovered a woman who did 330 days of biking. I can do this 30-day thing.

Monday, Sept. 19: The forecast of mid-70s and cloudy put me in a fall wardrobe frame of mind: black knee-length skirt that has a bit of a flare to it so getting on and off the bike presents no straight-skirt challenges, chartreuse top, big black belt, gray hose, black low-heeled pumps, little black cardigan. I also thought about the possibility of rain and knew I had a full set of rain pants/jacket in the drawer at work in case I needed them–the ones I hauled to work last Thursday.

Then it turned beautiful and sunny so I could have worn open-toed shoes quite happily, as it turns out. Oh well-that’s fall!

Rode to my morning physical therapy at Revita Rehab, work, a meeting in downtown, back to campus, then up the hill to finish the day with yoga and home down the hill. Miles: 9.51

Barb Chamberlain in apricot silk dress and jacket with matching leather pumps, wearing a bike helmet.

Typical business attire, typical biking attire. Same thing. I just wish you could see my earrings--they're little tiny bicycles made of recycled wire by village women in Africa. I'm wearing my cute Ana Nichoola biking gloves with the little blue bows.

Tuesday, Sept. 20: Nippy in the morning, beautiful during the day, cool on the way home.

Outfit: Apricot silk dress/jacket and serendipitously coordinating kitten-heel pumps, a souvenir of Washington, DC. (For some reason, every year when I go to our nation’s capitol on a business trip I come home with new shoes.) Since I don’t bike fast enough to sweat, this worked just fine for my day, which included a legislative committee hearing on campus and an after-hours political event. Miles: 5.69

Wednesday, Sept. 21: Simple day to physical therapy, a quick stop at the STCU ATM conveniently located on campus, work and back.

Well, simple now that I learned that trick for getting a dropped bike chain back on . . . yep, happened again! This time it caught the pedal so I got off, went to the sidewalk, and used the shifting/pedaling trick while I walked alongside. Worked the same way–no grease.

At the end of the day I made one decision I find myself making more often if I’m leaving work around 5pm (which I had to do tonight to get home and take Second Daughter to buy make-up for opening night of Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Spokane Civic Theatre this Friday, in which part of her role includes playing the “New Modern” at the end).

Where was I? Oh, yes. [[Stage Mom hat removed.]]

Map of a route from the Riverpoint Campus in Spokane to the South Hill

The direct route--fine much of the time, but a bit busy on Browne around 5pm. About 2.4 miles.

That decision: At the intersection of Spokane Falls Boulevard westbound and Browne, I can go left/south on Browne, then left again in three blocks on Sprague and be headed home. Or I can continue westbound to Howard, which has bike lanes; take that south; and take 4th/5th Avenue east. Either way I end up at Sherman using the bike lane to climb the hill.

The second choice adds a tiny bit of mileage and isn’t completely traffic-free. But I’m in heavy freeway-focused traffic on Browne and even though it’s only three blocks, it can be an intense three blocks at 5pm. If I were heading home at 4 or 6, no problem–take Browne. As I mentioned in an earlier post on choosing your bike commuting route, time of day can affect traffic behavior quite a bit.

Outfit: Dark red skirt, those Bandolino burgundy stilettos I like because the T-strap really keeps them on my foot, white tank and cardigan. Miles: 6.17

Map of a different route from the Riverpoint Campus to the South Hill.

Another way to get there--less direct but can be quite a bit quieter at rush hour. 3.1 miles, so not really that much added distance and who minds that anyway on a pretty day?

Total mileage for the week: 42.23. On to Week Four!

Things I notice about the week:

  • I’m not the Wicked Witch of the West. Proof? I don’t melt when I get wet.
  • I’m far more attuned to the weather than I was when I got to work safely insulated by lots of steel and glass. I like this increased awareness of my natural surroundings.
  • I can haul quite a bit on the bike, although I don’t always push it quite this far. I get groceries in small batches, typically (except for those Green Bluff runs for food-preserving quantities). With the way I shop my fruits/veggies are farmers’ market fresh and the eggs are straight from the hen. Big batches from the big box that require big vehicles represent big food miles and big-time delay between when they’re picked and when my family eats them.
  • Biking is genuinely faster and easier than driving for short trips with lots of stops. That therapy/ATM/work sequence on Wednesday? The buildings I went to are all pretty close together on the Riverpoint Campus, but most people wouldn’t park in one location and then walk to all of them. If you did, you’d be hoofing it quite a bit. Instead, most people would move their vehicle a few hundred yards, then do that again. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it? (No need to ‘fess up about the number of times you’ve done that very thing. As I’ve said before, I bike because I’m lazy.)

—————

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • How has your riding been going, even if you’re not trying to keep up with 30 Days of Biking?

September 21, 2011

How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free

As I mentioned in my Week Two round-up for the 30 Days of Biking effort, last week my chain came off while we rode up the hill in search of frozen yogurt.

My husband called out from behind me, “Shift and pedal it back on!”

In the heat of the moment as he tried to instruct me while I kept rolling, I didn’t quite pull off this magic trick. Instead I managed to wrap the chain quite solidly around the pedal shank. We stopped and he was the one to get the greasy hands putting the chain back on.

Up ’til now, every time I’ve dropped a chain—usually by shifting one more time when I’m already on the big (outside) ring in the front so the chain comes off on the outside, but sometimes the equivalent action on the inside toward the bike—I have had to get off the bike and get all greasy putting the chain back on.

But no more! After we were safely seated with our frozen yogurt Sweet Hubs explained exactly how to get the chain back on without stopping if it comes off the front rings.

I’ve done this twice in the past week. Yes, I’m apparently quite prone to this particular shifting error–I like to think it’s because I’m so strong that the top gear just doesn’t feel hard enough. I am here, grease-free, to attest that it works.

When your chain comes off the big ring, which you’ll know because you no longer feel that you’re pushing anything when you pedal (accompanied by a chain-rattling sound), do this:

  1. Shift toward the middle: Up (toward the “harder” end) if the chain dropped off toward the bike, down if it dropped off on the outside. (Note: This assumes you know which hand shifts which set of rings–something with which you should familiarize yourself ASAP. On bikes sold in the US you should accomplish this shift with the left hand.)
  2. Pedal gently.
  3. The chain guide that helps shift the chain over will catch the chain and move it in the right direction. (Note: If you ride a fixie you don’t have a chain guide. Prepare for grease.)
  4. The chain will climb back on as the teeth on the cogs roll past.
  5. Keep riding!

So simple.

——————

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • What common mechanical problems do you wish you could fix?
  • Have you had any great “aha!” moments figuring out some mechanical trick with your bike?
Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: