Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sounds of the commute

I rarely pay much attention to sounds around me when I am bike-commuting, but this morning was different.

I roused thousands of little birds from their nests in a large stand of bamboo trees. The flapping and squawking sounds as they swarmed me was surreal.

I heard the roaring sound of an emergency electric generator being tested at a medical clinic along the Tobacco Trail. I wondered what it was the whole time I approached.

Out on the road again, I heard car engines revving furiously as they passed me in a tight clump, even though they were already on each others' tails and had nowhere to go.

Finally, I heard my bike tires squealing as they started slipping sideways over gravel fines in a tight left turn. That's when I realized I was riding way too fast, I was leaning way too far, and my pedal was grazing way too close to the pavement. Oh, and then I heard the sound of a car engine revving right behind me. Ah, the adrenaline.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Prius Pedals on my Bike

Here are some song lyrics I composed while bicycling, in honor of the upcoming Bike To Work Week. Picture a tired cyclist mixing dreams of relief from pedaling along with news reports of uncontrollable acceleration and sticking gas pedals. Sing along with your favorite three-chord blues sequence.

No, I won't post a video of my singing. Not unless someone demands it...
I want some Prius pedals; Prius pedals on my bike.
Automatic cruise control. I want to fly like a kite.

1) Well, I looked at my watch, and it was quarter to three,
Nine hours pedaling, it hurts my knee.
It's the same all day, it's such a bore.
I just can't push these pedals no more.

I want some Prius pedals; Prius pedals on my bike.
Self-powered cruise control. I want to fly like a kite.

2) Well, my baby left town with my friend and my dog
She won't pedal with me cause it's such a slog.
He's got Prius pedals and they're fast to the core,
She won't come home 'til I pedal no more.

I want some Prius pedals; Prius pedals on my bike.
I can't push no more. I want to fly like a kite.

3) Well, I got Prius pedals. Can't believe my luck.
When they kick in, I have to squat in a tuck.
I go faster than cars, I go faster than trucks.
I scream the whole time, Oh Yuucccckkkk.

I got some Prius pedals, Prius pedals on my bike.
I don't pedal no more, I just fly like a kite.

(c) 2010 sagittandy (March 12, 2010)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Springtime Hop on the Mule Pop

The signs of spring have arrived in eastern NC. The pungent scent of blooming Bradford Pear trees, the tangy taste of sunblock mixed with perspiration, and the gritty feel of dirt blown into your eyes by lawn mowers. It seems like only yesterday I was worrying about ice and snow on the roads, and already I am thinking about an ice-filled sock to cool my neck. Ah, the joy of changing seasons.

Jayjay and I rode the new Benson Mule Pull populaire today, a 105km (65 mile) jaunt between Garner and Benson, NC. The scenery was beautiful, weather was incredible, and Jayjay entertained only one dog. The ride is flat for the last few miles into Benson, but otherwise raises your spirits off the saddle often. Mike D called it 'surprisingly hilly', so we were ready. It's a great short ride, and I look forward to doing it again. Many thanks to Dean for creating the ride and for preparing a perfect cue sheet which overcomes the best obfuscation efforts by the NC DOT (click the photo and read the sign).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Clothing vs Temperature Chart

How to decide what to wear when bicycling? When I started bike commuting, I took notes of what worked for me and what didn't, along with the temperature. After a year or so, I pieced together a chart. I've been following it successfully the last two years.

The real value of a chart like this is for when there will be vastly different temperatures, either commuting in the morning and evening, or on day-long rides. In those cases, I note the expected range of temperatures, find the range of clothing, and either dress or pack it on the bike accordingly. I don't have to think. It takes little conscious thought, and is very efficient.

I highly recommend creating your own chart. Just don't copy my unconventional clothing choices.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tar Heel 200 - March 7, 2010

Why is Jayjay so happy? For one thing, she just finished riding the Tar Heel 200. For another, she did a 10-mile sprint to the finish at Benson and left me to the dogs. Literally. On Fairground Rd. Hmmph.

We had a great day on the bikes yesterday, with our first taste of springtime weather. It started out chilly (ie, ice-crystals-in-the-bottles chilly), but warmed up rapidly. We had a tailwind on the outbound leg, then the wind changed and we had a tailwind on the return. My knee hurt for a while, but all pain went away after I repeatedly kicked at and missed a big-headed dog. (I need to remember this pain-relief technique.)

Best of all, I finally found a food that swallows easy, stays down, tastes great and handles well in gloves: Tortilla roll-ups. I heard this recommendation from some other rando, but I can't find his post. Thanks whoever you are. I made some with lunchmeat turkey, cheese, and pickle relish today. I look forward to experimenting with other contents.

And finally, I am taking my schtick to the next level. I've been doing Panda Photos for years (ie, self-portraits with the camera held in front of myself), but still-frame pandas are 'so 2009'. I'm moving up to Panda Videos. That's right, mini-movies where I talk, tell jokes, and even sing into the camera. While riding. You heard it here first, it's the next best thing in randoing. Enjoy my premiere efforts before my 15 minutes arrives. (Just beware of the singing...)
Six quick vids: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=530A99466D9B7D78

And here are a few still-frame photos:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Be not a frayed

During the last few months, I noticed strands of wire growing out of my shift lever. (Click on the thumbnail for a bigger view.) I finally remembered to inspect the little bouquet at home tonight, since the fronds were beginning to snag my gloves. There were still about five strands intact, but I replaced the cable anyway because I am such a big believer in preventive maintenance.

Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/sagittandy/BeNotAFrayed