Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The OFFICIAL Beer Truck

Even though the No Auto Week is sort of a bust, I'm still riding a bike as much as possible for daily errands.

Today, I needed to get lottery tickets and beer.  Bluetiful is the Official BluesCat Beer Truck:

My main concern was not if the six-pack would fit, I knew it would, but if the jostling of the ride would make that first beer unacceptably foamy.  I can report with joy that the beer completed the 2.25 mile trip without a trace of "ride stress."

What kind of beer does BluesCat, the rider of Bluetiful, prefer?  Look closely.

Chain Mark Solution?

I wear regular clothes when I ride my bikes.  I've just never gotten into the whole Lycra-sealed riding mode.

When I wear my Wrangler relaxed-fit jeans on The Roadley a velcro ankle strap is all I need to protect my jeans from chain marks since the bike has a big plastic chainwheel guard.

The chainwheels on the recumbent Bluetiful do not have a chainwheel guard.  And because the rotation of the way-crank-forward pedals puts the calf of my leg crossing the plane of the top of the chain, the loose fitting jeans rub the chain and I get a big patch of black chain lube on the calf of my jeans.

I've solved it by rolling up the pants leg above my knee:

Um, this ain't very stylish folks.  (Can you tell where the top of the sock ends and my platinum calf begins?)  What do all you other riders use in weather too cold for shorts?  Leg warmers?  Cycling pants?  Knickers?

Day 4 Was a Bust

Started out okay, made an early Starbucks run on Bluetiful. I looked at my phone and saw I had forgotten about a haircut appointment at 10:00 AM. My barber shop is too far away for a simple errand run, I would have to plan for a big commute. I figured I would just roll the haircut in with a stop for gas for the car for next week and a swing by Trader Joes to get a fresh turkey. My Auto Free Week effort might still work.

Then my son called me from southern Arizona.  He was headed to the hospital with possible appendicitis.  He would know more when they performed a CT scan.  I finished my haircut/gas/turkey errand and just hung around the house, waiting.

In the early afternoon my son called again and said they had him in for observation but were not positive they were going operate.  In the evening the doctors decided to go with the appendectomy and they began prepping him for an 8:00 PM surgery.  They didn't get started until much later and finished around 10:30 PM; we got a report from Shannon that everything had gone well.

This morning I got a call from the boy and he sounded pretty good.  They're talking about releasing him from the hospital later on today.  We'll have to play it by ear for the rest of the week.

I rode The Roadley over to Starbucks for a celebratory vanilla latte.

Man, it has been one heck of a year!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Trucks

(Say that three times, really fast!)

Continuing on to day three of No Auto Week, I had a whole set of Honey Doos I needed to do.

First chore: I needed to get some cat food for the seven feral cats we have adopted that live in our front and back yards. The Roadley seemed the best candidate for The Cat Food Truck:

A couple of bungee cords on the dry cat food bag draped over the rear rack and we had it done.

The fellow at Petco was helping an elderly lady out with her own big bags of pet food as I pulled up.  He said "You can park your bike inside next to the shopping carts."  There's the reason I shop at Petco, which is a half mile further away than another big franchise pet store.

Interesting factoid:  the Purina bag weighs 16 pounds, that's the amount of weight I have lost since I bought my Sun EZ Sport in February, 2009; almost ten months ago.

Second chore:  I had some items I needed to drop off at the Goodwill donation center.  Since the panniers were on the EZ Sport, Bluetiful, this task fell to her:

It wasn't much:  an old desk lamp, some housewares and an old CD/DVD reader.  It all fit very neatly in the panniers on Bluetiful.  When I pulled up to the drop-off, I set off the bell when I rolled over the pneumatic cable, and heard them call out "Bike!" on the inside.  The attendant smiled when he saw me, I said "The bike stays with ME" and he laughed.

After that, it was a run over to The Bike Barn to pick up a Christmas gift for my son and then ride back home.

Three days without using a car!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2nd Auto Free Day

Didn't drive again today. Spent most of the day doing chores: cleaning the pool, sweeping the porches, etc.

Did make two runs to Starbucks, one on The Roadley and one on Bluetiful.

Also, I updated the blog with the story of Bluetiful.


Addendum to 1st Auto Free Day

I guess I should have mentioned that I didn't simply sit around the house on Saturday, 11/21/09, my first Auto Free day.

I got out on the road on The Roadley a little before 9:00 AM and did six miles worth of errands. First was a required visit to Starbucks. Then I swung by the Post Office to drop off some bills in the outside drive-thru box.

I needed AAA batteries for my taillights, so a swing by Batteries Plus was the next stop. I really like this store, they never charge me labor for replacing batteries and testing the electronics in my UPS units, even the big, eight battery cartridges for the APC 3000 rack mounts. The Werker house brand alkaline dry cells seem to last as long as any from Duracell or Eveready, and they are cheaper. A bonus feature of the particular store I go to is they have glass windows on a good portion of their exterior: I can park the bike right next to the door and keep an eye on it while I'm at the counter; no need to spend time locking it up.

The last errand was to the liquor store to buy lottery tickets. I can go through the drive-thru window to do it, so here again I do not have to lock up and leave the bike. Sometime on this week off I'm going to need beer, and if I bring Bluetiful with the rack bag I can probably get the six pack of Blue Moon in the bag if I unzip the expandable top.

Later today, I have to take a small load of stuff to Goodwill. I think I can get everything in the panniers and rack bag on Bluetiful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Auto Free Week?

I have all of Thanksgiving week off. I'm going to try to make it an automobile free week, and only drive the car when it is something I need to do with car (such as getting gasoline, getting the tires rotated, getting the wife's car washed, etc.).

I didn't drive the car at all today. One day down!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Complete Bluetiful

Well, the best bike on the planet is now complete. The week of November 1, 2009, I got the last of the accessories in the mail and got them on the bike.


Bicycle - 2008 Sun EZ Sport CX
Pedals – Shimano PD-A530 Multipurpose SPD

Rear Accessories
Rear Rack – ZĂ©fal
Panniers – Jandd Economy
Rack Bag – Jandd Rack Pack II
Bottle Cages – Standard on right, Bontrager Insulated Cage on left
Tumbler – Starbucks Miller Gentlemen Tumbler
Pump – Serfas Big Stick mini pump
Seat Bag – Sunlite Tubular
Taillights – Serfas, Blackburn Mars 1.0, Blackburn Mars 3.0

Front Accessories
Headlight – Blackburn Voyager 3.3
Handlebar Bag - Mountain Handle Pack I
Computer – Specialized SpeedZone Analog
GPS – Garmin eTrex Legend w/Garmin handlebar mount
Bottle Cage: Standard on right

The handlebar mount for the Garmin was the last accessory piece I was waiting for, here's a closeup of the completed dashboard:

You can see how nicely the straps for the Jandd handlebar bag fit between the bolts for the bottle cage mounts and hold the bag up at just the right height.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bicyclists Disrespecting Bicyclists

I regularly visit the site, because it very often has interesting articles and advice on one of my main bicycling activities, commuting. Recently, one of the writers there, Bike Shop Girl, started a series of articles about Building Your Perfect Commuter Bike. In one article, Bike Type, I naturally put in my vote for recumbents as the ideal bike type. My opinion was met with this response by a fellow named jamesmallon:

"God, recumbent riders are like herpes: unwanted and impossible to get rid of."

I responded with this:

jamesmallon: So, your objection to recumbents doesn’t have anything to do with the suitability of the bike for the task which Bike Shop Girl has set here (because you haven’t refuted anything I’ve said about them), and everything to do with the fact you simply don’t like the people who ride them.

Why is that, I wonder? The median age of recumbent riders seems to be my age: late fifties. Do you have a problem with folks who are older, wiser and more mature than you are?

A lot of the male bent riders seem to be war veterans, too; mostly of Vietnam, but some of Korea and even a smattering of WWII vets. Because of their age, and/or some of the injuries they sustained during their service, riding a conventional upright bicycle is simply not an option. You have a problem with people who have served their country honorably and bear the scars to prove it?

I really am intrigued by your answer.

If you'd like to follow along on any further developments, here's the link:

The Perfect Commuter Bike Type

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Me As A Tourist

I couldn't resist changing my route to work this morning. I had purchased a Starbucks Miller Gentlemen Tumbler a week or so ago, and discovered it fit perfectly in the bottle cage on the right seat strut of Bluetiful, my 'bent. There isn't a Starbucks on my direct route so I decided to change things up a bit and go to one slightly out of my way.

It really didn't add any distance, but I did wind up going down a rather busy street. Looking at Google Maps and my Garmin eTrex afterwards, I discovered a route which will take me on local streets through a housing subdivision which will parallel that busy road.

I also discovered a road which is marked as a bike route but does not have any marked bike lanes on it, as my regular route does. This can be an advantage: the road has very wide lanes, which means you have already "taken the single lane" and there is less of a problem with motorists trying to squeeze by you on the left and drive you towards the curb. Multiple school zones mean less and slower traffic. It will probably become my regular route.

Riding around, changing direction to check things out and sightsee, my 30 minute trip turned into an hour. It was fun being a relaxed tourist on my commute.