Friday, November 8, 2013

The World Looks Different When You Ride

This past week has been a mixed bag, as far as bicycling goes. 

The Good:

I mentioned my "stable" post in and by Bikes for the Rest of Us, and got some great feedback from the post's authors about how to adjust my hub gearing on Fleur (Linus Dutchi) in order to fit my riding needs better.

I've been in touch with my LBS about making this change, and about the work needed to Julek (90's Trek 8000) and The Radish (70's Motobecane 10-speed).

Here's the starting plan for the bikes:

  • Adjust the ring from 22 to 18-tooth to adjust second gear on Fleur.
  • Give The Radish the attention it needs - new brake hoods, a once-over.
  • Julek needs to have a crack in the shock looked at; not sure yet if I'll keep the shock or return to the original fork (I still have it).
  • Julek needs some smooth tires.
  • The Radish and Julek need fenders and small rear racks.
  • The Radish needs serious wheel love. The spokes are loose and wheels are out of true.
  • The Radish needs some reflectors, too, to be compliant with current law.
  • Kickstand upgrades for everyone.
I will start with The Radish, then Julek, then Fleur, since that's the order in which they are rideable. Which brings us to...

The Bad:

Can we talk about daylight savings time? I have never been profoundly affected by daylight per se. I love rainy days, and as long as things are green and lush and moist, I'm happy. I get far more bummed out by days when it's miserable to be outside - freezing and grey, or hot and brown. Truly, I blame Portland for ruining things with evergreens and mild temps year round.

This year, the end of Daylight Savings Time hit me like a ton of bricks, because it effectively meant that, even with mild weather, to commute to and from the office, I'd have to commit to riding 6(+) miles in rush hour traffic in the dark. And, at least at my current comfort level, I can't.  I struggle with the ride home during rush hour in the best of circumstances, and I need more than a blinking red light and an awesome headlight to get me over this. Like a body-suit made of reflective-coated titanium or something, I don't know. That said, sometimes on Fridays I can scoot a little early, and that may buy enough daylight to make the occasional winter ride possible. So don't totally give up on me. Plus, riding to and from church and local businesses is still very much a possibility, because those are often daylight-hour activities, even as the Winter Solstice approaches. 

The Ugly:

If I am often busy, November presents a special challenge, due to NaNoWriMo, in which I have participated most years (and I am determined to win this year; I won in 2009). Nano collided with an already-busy schedule last weekend and I basically spent Saturday and Sunday running around like a crazy person. The chief (or at least, most relevant to this blog) implication of this is that I have officially "failed" coffeeneuring, in that I could not find time for a challenge-worthy bike ride at any time during Saturday or Sunday. However, I've been assured that continuing without winning is still grounds for submission and cheers, so I will try to coffeeneur this weekend and on future weekends. I do so like the this is not about speed or distance or getting somewhere; it's about biking leisurely to a leisure activity vibe of the thing. I want to celebrate that, especially since it is so much more accessible to me right now than  distance rides, night rides, and commuting to work.

The Game-Plan:

I will use these long, dark nights to provide the incentive to get the remaining bicycles up to speed, to seize the opportunity to ride on weekend days, and to find space an time in my schedule to breathe... and ride.

The Silver Lining:

Out of frustration comes (if you're looking for it) insight

On a practical level, I've determined that I need a paper calendar. I love my phone's calendar for its ability to remind me of things with alarms, but I have the terrible habit of checking only to see if I am free for the specific window requested of me, and not considering the larger picture (what the rest of the day, weekend, or week holds for me). I'm a visual person, so this isn't really a surprise, but I hadn't thought about it until my overbooked calendar caused me to miss out on something I really enjoyed and wanted to do (ride my bike to a coffee shop without feeling awful and rushed).

On a philosophical level, my feelings about my car are changing. I don't know if it was the recent hybrid eclipse, but people have been driving so recklessly that I've come to resent my car commute something fierce.  I'm paying much closer attention to how I feel when I'm driving, versus how I feel on the bicycle. And it's marked. My stress levels, so long as I permit myself to have adequate time to reach my destination without rushing, are low-to-nonexistent on the bike. But in the car, I can't control that nearly as easily, because I am a driver, and can't just choose side streets to interact with pedestrians or the sounds of nature instead of stop-and-go arterial or inner-belt nonsense. I'm paying attention to these things.

If I can't ride consistently, at least I can share.

Here are some great bike links I stumbled across this week:

If I ever think something "bikey", Commute by Bike posts about it shortly thereafter.
Tips from the cycling sloth... 

And, thanks to Melissa @ Her Green Life, I've been thinking a little extra about what I want in bike infrastructure lately, which has resulted in some very interesting ready about old freeways and bike lanes.

Are you in St. Louis? Are you interested in bike infrastructure in the community? If so, please make note of an upcoming event by Great Rivers Greenway in which the Bike Plans from three bike-friendly communities will be presented. It's an all-morning event next Wednesday, 11-20-2013 from 830pm-130pm. Admission is $15. I hope to go, but it will truly depend on my work schedule that day. 

Finally, who doesn't love a little Bikeyface? Let's look at her new posters. I am such a fan of the top poster with the three different bicycles.

That's all from me this week. 
Here's to riding - whenever and however it suits us, so long as we ride!


  1. Your reflections on being in the car are interesting. When I worked north of Forest Park, I would wait on my bike to cross Forest Park Parkway, and all these cars would be zooming past every morning and evening, and I couldn't help but notice that not only did all the drivers not look happy, most of them looked distinctly unhappy, a feeling that I rarely experience when I travel by bicycle.

    It's definitely worth exploring these feelings and questioning assumptions about how we move ourselves.

    I'm not sure if my work schedule will allow me to make the GRG workshop on 11/20, but it did catch my eye. In my old position, I would have been able to attend as part of my job.

  2. Hi Melissa,

    I was similarly saddened to learn that the workshop is only during work hours, especially as I will be out of the office on Tuesday and will likely have a fair amount to catch up on the 20th.

    I have been trying to key into these feelings. It's amazing how quickly, once you really give yourself an alternative to the car, you realize that the car's not nearly as pleasant or convenient as you have assumed it to be. As compared to Boston, New York, Chicago, etc., I've found St. Louis to be a relatively easy place to get around by car (traffic jams are largely avoidable by staying off the belts or 40), but since I've started biking more, I just don't enjoy driving the same way. I'm hoping to channel that into more biking, which I think will come as my comfort riding in traffic increases.


Let the bicycle talk begin...