I went rode my bike this morning. We did 50 miles, with temps around 28˚F, with massive headwinds. I'm the Bandidto in the middle. Rule #9 is in effect, of course.
My first real 700C road bike was a used 12-speed Peugeot I got back in the early 90's. When I think of old-school road bikes, that's the first thing that pops in my head. It's French, it's classy, it's fast... what's not to like?
And thus I've procured an '82 Peugeot 12-speed. Well, most of one. The picture is from Josh at Simplicity Vintage Cycles, who sold me a different, but identical bike (sans wheels). Mine will look very similar, though with a different crankset, and other different small bits and pieces.
This particular model is an '82 PH-12 Centennial Edition, which was to commemorate Peugeot's founding in 1882. Everything on the bike was French, including the "Carbolite" steel tubing and Michelin tires. This bike is interesting not only because of that, but also because it's aero.. like, really aero for the 80's. Brake levers, downtube shifters, ovalized tubes, water bottle, and brake calipers were all specifically made to be aerodynamic.
So I guess what I'm going to do is build it up and see just how aero it is, compared to a modern swoopy-tubed bike. This will be my go-to bike for club rides where my heavy, slow Surly would be a liability.
I'm pretty stoked about it, really. Can't wait to get it on the road!
As I've written about many times, cycling is a great way to get fit and be practical at the same time. The toughest part will be getting your human-powered Urban Assault Vehicle ready for action. But fear not! We aren't going into uncharted territory. In fact, I'm going to show you just how easy it can be to build the Ultimate Pavement Bomber, on a budget.
Start With A Bike
Do you already own a bike? Good. You're better off than most people. Chances are you've got one of these three types of bikes:
- Mountain Bike - fat/knobby tires, flat handlebar, possibly suspension fork and frame
- Hybrid - skinny tires, flat handlebar, usually a suspension fork
- Cruiser - fat tires, swept back bars, usually 1 speed (not always)
Any one of them can be pressed into service, with a few tweaks. If you already own a drop-bar road bike, then you're pretty much there. Hybrids are awesome for shorter trips (less than 20 miles) because the upright riding position is good for visibility in traffic, but longer rides can be hard when you've only got one position to put your hands in.
Let's assume the bike is in decent working shape: brakes and gears are adjusted and working, no loose hardware, and the bike is roughly the right size for you. If you have one of these rare unicorns, consider yourself blessed. If your bike needs work, then spend some time on Youtube learning how to adjust it, or bring it to a bike shop and have them do it for you (I recommend learning it yourself, for obvious reasons). Once your bike is in good working condition, it's time to make its conversion to the dark side complete!
If you've ever tried riding somewhere with a heavy backpack, you can appreciate the practicality of having a rear rack to carry stuff.
When I built my bike years ago, I used cheap second-hand racks made of steel, and all of them broke under regular commuting use. So I went about finding a proper replacement, and stumbled upon the Axiom Journey rear rack.
The rack itself is made of welded aluminum tubing. It's surprisingly light for how strong it is, as it's rated for 150 pounds and only weighs 1.5 pounds! Believe me when I say this thing is beefy. The most I've carried on it is about 80 pounds.... one of my kids rode sitting on it with no problems. I'll just say my rear wheel would probably blow spokes before the rack breaks.
I just wrote an article for The Badass Forge (excuse the name, wasn't my idea!) about mental toughness and stepping outside your comfort zones.
As of yesterday, I weighed 165 pounds, which means I've lost approximately 10 pounds in the last 6 weeks. I think I'm going to focus on nutrition and building muscle mass at this point. Even though I could probably lose a bit more weight, I think I would be better served by increasing my strength and endurance, now that I'm within a few pounds of my ideal weight.
Here's some music to get you moving on this Monday morning.
I've decided, after making decisions loosely based around Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, to focus on developing my "Important But Not Urgent" activities in my life.
You've probably heard it said, "the Urgent is the enemy of the Important." That's because urgent things demand our attention NOW, and we never get around to doing the important things.
Note: since this was published, Google has announced the end of MyTracks, and as a result Google Fit now tracks bike mileage, though without any other kind of stats.
We can't escape it, we're in the digital age. Companies are all about Data, and we as consumers have followed along. With the rise of GPS-enabled devices in phones and bike computers, almost anyone can now track their cycling and running statistics, complete with geolocation and tons of other stats. This of course allows us to not only track our ride history, it allows us to compare information and apply it different ways.
I've long been a fan of GPS technology, and so naturally I migrated to using GPS to track my bike rides and commuting miles. But there are so many choices out there! How's a person to decide what's best for them, except try them all? I even made a poll in the G+ Bike Commuter Cabal community!
Fear not, for I've already used them all*, and my findings are here to help you make a decision on which App is best for you and your riding style.
We're going to look at the top ones, and also include Google's newcomer "Google Fit" to the mix, just to see how it stacks up against apps that have been on the market for years. I started off using a 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab, and recently got a Motorola Moto G, which is what I'm recording rides with now. All app data and screenshots are from the Moto G. The apps will be reviewed in the order I tried them, nothing special about that.
- App itself (quality, reliability, features, ease of use, accuracy)
- Accompanying website, features, ease of use
- File Formats import/export
- Paid features (if available)
Life changes, and sometimes you find out you're just along for the ride. Three years ago, just as I was turning my life around, I ended up in the hospital with a shattered femur. I had been the victim of a red light runner, and let's just say mid-size cars aren't very forgiving when they plow into you at 35MPH. My hip required reconstruction. (My Surly LHT, however, came out okay. Can't say enough about the durability of Surly bikes.) I never imagined how much it would change my life. As I get ready for bed tonight, taking Aleve because my titanium femur aches when I spend all day walking at my job, I can't help but be thankful that I'm physically as well as I am, and mentally adjusted to deal with what my new "normal" is.
But I'm not telling you this to scare you away from riding your bike. There's a lot of lessons I learned, and I still 100% believe that cycling is the key to a happy life for a lot of people. If nothing else, I want people to understand what I learned from my accident, and how I can still ride.
What did I learn from this radical change in my life? I've boiled it down to a few nuggets of wisdom... consider them learned the hard way.
- Be confident but predictable - If you're riding your bike, you're doing more for your future than most people, and you're probably having fun doing it. Don't be afraid to ride. If you're obeying the traffic rules, you're not doing anything wrong. Don't be ashamed.
- Be courteous - I always motion to cars when it's safe to pass me. Most people are very thankful that you acknowledge them. It also fosters good will towards other cyclists. Every bit helps!
- Be visible - If you are sharing roads with cars, then there's absolutely no question: do whatever you can to be visible. If something happens to you, the first thing they will ask the driver is "did you see them" and if you're lit up like a UFO, then the only thing they can conclude is if they didn't see you, they weren't looking. It does work!
(Bonus tip: The single visibility item I've gotten comments on more than anything else is reflective ankle bands!)
- Be alert - This means always look twice. It means assume they don't see you. It means pay attention to traffic around you, and the route you're on. It means get enough rest so your judgement isn't impaired. It means get a rear view mirror and use it. It seems like a lot, but once you get the hang of it, it's not difficult at all.
- Handle Your Bike - If you ride big miles, you eventually learn bike handling skills, and this helps a lot. But if you're a beginner, you may want to check out a Traffic Skills 101 class from the League of American Bicyclists. Don't be afraid to ask questions and practice!
With all that being said, #4 is what got me. Even though I had a green light, I didn't double-check the intersection to make sure nothing was coming. I was focused on getting to work on time, not watching for cars. I wasn't rested enough, and I made a bad judgement call to go through without checking.
As cyclists, we condemn drivers for being inattentive (and rightfully so!) but we are just as capable of making the same mistakes. Take your time, spread some goodwill, use your brain, and keep on cycling!
The folks at the Bike Commuter Cabal were kind enough to let me write up some stuff for you to read about why I decided to start Bike Commuting, and how it changed my life.
Have you ever been at a point where you know you need to change, but you just don’t know where to start? Four years ago, I was at that point.
This would have been around 2010. I had recently moved back to my home town, had a beautiful family, and was pretty much happy. Except that I wasn’t happy. I was pretty miserable in fact, but I wasn’t letting on. Why? Some of the reasons (a lot of them) were related to my job, but a lot of it had to do with me being 40 pounds overweight. I was weighing in at 5′ 11″ and 215 pounds.
“That’s not so bad,” you’re probably thinking. Well, no, relatively speaking, there are a lot of people that are a lot heavier than I was. But the reality was that I knew my life, and my weight, were spiraling out of control. I was always tired, having digestion issues, sinus problems, sleep apnea, and I plowed through it, being miserable and pretty much always exhausted.
But I knew there was a better way. Thanks to my friend Mike, I got interested in whole foods (which I knew practically nothing about) and realized how much garbage I was putting into my body. Somewhere in that time, my job started getting very frustrating. I was hating going to work, and I’m ashamed to say it carried over into my home life. I was not being the husband and father my family deserved. I knew I needed a change, but I didn’t know where to start.
So I bought a bike.
Check it out here!
Bike Commuter Cabal Blog (EDIT: Fixed the link. I'm an idiot. But it's fixed now.)