Saturday, December 21, 2013

Quiet Winter Days

Hi there,

I know it has been quiet on the blog lately. My days have been long on activities, but short on light, and I don't have a lot to report on the bike front. I want to post things which are interesting or beautiful or useful for anyone reading, rather than filler. So things may be quiet as we embrace the winter solstice and hunker down for Christmas in my corner. I'll be back and posting as I have more to report. 

A few anecdotes...

I am reading, and enjoying, Elly Blue's Bikenomics. I will post a full report when I finish the book. 

Melissa has published her report on the Great Rivers Greenway bike infrastructure program of last month. 

My mom recently found a bright yellow Columbia jacket from when I was in college. I think this will be a  great commuting jacket in the winter and spring. 

I have inspired a fellow cycling enthusiast to ride to our choir rehearsals! He has been really fabulous about using two wheels instead of four to travel the short distance between his home and the rehearsal venue, and we have fun chatting about bikes and lights and what to wear while riding. I hope to return to the shorter commutes soon, too. I miss riding, and he is excited to see the updated Motobecane (one of his bicycles is a 60s Raleigh).

Finally, and who knows what will come of it, but the husband and I have been chewing on a possible move at some point. I currently live 2 miles from church and 6 miles from work. I'd love to shorten the work route without drastically lengthening the ride to and from church, though those neighborhoods are few and far between. It's been exciting to contemplate a shorter work commute, though--I can afford a longer ride to and from church, and would be able to ride to work much more regularly if I could make riding and driving more interchangeable, time-wise. When it takes 15-18 minutes to drive vs 50+ (!) to ride, and especially with night falling at 4:30pm, it's been way too easy to be lazy and take the car. 

However you're spending these winter days, wishing you warm and cozy ones, happy holidays, and the best as we head into the New Year.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Review: Revised Radish

Greetings and happy Friday!

If you'd told me at the beginning of the year I'd have a major "bikeyface" day on December 1st, I:
(a) Would have no idea what you meant by that; and
(b) Would not believe you even if I did know what you meant by that.

Amazing, how quickly things can change, yes?

I hope everyone in the States had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with a little time to focus on our gratitude instead of our shopping lists, and if possible, to spend time with people you love (whether or not you were related to them). I traveled to mid-MO and suburban KC, KS with the hubster to visit his family and mine. It was a good weekend, and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, for it's truly a chance to do little more than reconnect, stuff yourself, and think about all of the things that are wonderful in your life.

When we left St. Louis on Thursday, it was cold. When we returned early Sunday, it was already in the 50s. My drive across the gret stet of Missouri had left me frustrated and grumpy (highway 70 traffic gets worse every year, and drivers are aggressive and greatly overestimate their skills, which makes defensive driving both a necessary and somewhat-futile exercise). I sat on my couch and contemplated the beautiful weekend day with one of the last bits of warm sunshine for the season, and I knew what I needed to do: it was time for a bike ride.

I thought first of Fleur, because she is so comfortable to ride, and then realized this would be a wonderful chance to take the newly-refurbished Radish out for a spin! Honestly, it was a little scary at first - I haven't ridden a ten-speed in forever (high school?), and compared to the fat, stable tires of a mountain bike, or the bolt-upright position offered by the Dutch-style bicycle, I felt like I was basically lying prone right over the front wheel. However, I was immediately struck by how good the bike felt - my LBS did a great job fixing it up, and in the two miles from my home to the place I hop on Grant's Trail, I became very comfortable on the bike. I did notice one small annoyance - I added a kickstand to the ten-speed, and the left crank knocks it when it passes so it makes a small "tap" sound every time I pedal around. I am not sure how to fix it; nor am I sure that it bothers me so much that I will. I love the convenience of a kickstand. 

It felt good enough that I cycled the whole of the trail (about 17 miles up and back again). The bike performed splendidly, and I also got used to the (utterly terrifying) downtube shifters. I liked riding a lighter bicycle (Fleur is starting to feel quite heavy and a bit unwieldy for non-riding purposes with all her storage and accessories), and having access to additional gears. HOWEVER, I was struck by how much more comfortable Fleur is for a 2.5 hour ride -- shortly after I turned around after reaching the Mehlville end of Grant's Trail, I began to really feel an ache from the ancient padding (or relative lack thereof) in my sit bones, my back and neck were becoming stiff from the aggressive riding position, and I wished I'd only done about half the trail. This was exacerbated by the fact that I'd neglected to bring water and was thirsty when I left the house, and I was beyond ready to be home by the time I rolled into my driveway.

So where does that leave us? 
1. With a kickstand and rear rack, The Radish will be the go-to for rides I need to drive to.
2. I want more gears, not adjusted gears, on the Linus. I will be looking into replacing the 3-speed wheel/shifter with 8 speeds after the holidays.

So I continue to feel that Fleur is the right bicycle for most of my rides, but I'm thrilled to get a sense of where the Radish fits. I think I need to adjust the saddle northwards about an inch, and I'd like to move the handlebars up quite a bit, too, to make the riding position a little less aggressive.

I am on the fence about what to do with the mountain bike. As snow has arrived in St. Louis, I think having a bike with larger tires will be beneficial and wonder if I want smooth or knobby tires for this purpose. I am having fit concerns with the mountain bike and need to consider what I want to do with the Trek's handlebars. I know I want fenders and a kickstand, but do I want a rack, too? I think I probably do - I don't like riding with backpacks, cross-body bags, or bulky items in my pocket, and the tiny rack is perfect for attaching a small purse as a mini pannier. So, stay tuned. 

In the meantime, at home, with Thanksgiving behind us, we have decorated for Christmas and I think bicycles may make for the best ornaments. Yes?