#30DaysofBiking Day 22-23: Back to the Grind

#30DaysofBiking Day 22

I guess the best thing about day 22 was that there was nothing unusual about day 22.  It was the first day in awhile were I just rode to work and back.  The headwind on the way home was a bit strong, but it wasn’t too bad.  Little did I know what the next day had in store for me.

#30DaysofBiking Day 23

Blustery Monday

I thought it was supposed to be spring.  It’s not supposed to be near freezing with drizzle and harsh northerly winds.   Thankfully, I haven’t put my cold weather gear away, but I sure wish I could.  The ride to work was painfully slow with one point where the wind almost pushed me backwards.  However, it was still a nice ride, and as always, after about the first 5 minutes, I got warmed up and it wasn’t too uncomfortable.  I just hope I can quit wearing all of this gear regularly soon . . .

Decked Out

 

After work, I had an OBS board meeting which gave me a chance to take a longer ride down past Lake Overholser, which has been too long in coming.   With a wonderful tailwind and the joy of a night ride on empty streets, I had a blast coming home to a nice warm house.


#30DaysofBiking Days 19 – 21: Progress!

Still haven’t been able to get back completely into the regular posting schedule, but thankfully I’ve been able to keep riding!

#30DaysofBiking Day 19: Just Another Day at Work

I continue to get most of my cycling through my daily commute to work.  The big change I’ve made is to start riding more and more in my work clothes instead of always wearing a change.  My short ride is only 6.5 miles and, at least during the spring, if I take it easy I can arrive at work, refreshed but not horribly sweaty.  I think we cyclists can often make our rides too complicated and think we need more gear and kit

After work, I stopped by the project house to do some painting as we get the house ready to be listed for sale.  It feels better and better as we get closer to getting this house listed.

#30DaysofBiking Day 20: House is Listed!

Photo Apr 20, 12 46 16 PM

Spent the morning getting some last-minute cosmetic stuff finished up on the interior of the house and giving the house a good clean before our Realtor came by to take pictures and let us know if she saw any issues before we listed the house.  Thankfully, she didn’t outside of a little bit of painting in the garage and some landscaping in the back.  We are finally getting closer to getting the house sold.  If you are looking for a cute 1100 sq. ft. house on the northwest side, please give Jane O’Toole a call at 751-4848 or at janeotoole@remax.net.  The house has a new roof, new sewer line and new carpet.  It’s a perfect starter home and is move-in ready!

Took a nice relaxed ride home after we were done.  It felt great!

#30DaysofBiking Day 21: A Laid Back Day.

Stopped by the project house to finish up most of the little punch list items for the house including the painting and the leveling of a little earth settling in the back yard.  Took a wonderfully long nap in the afternoon.  After dark, I took a quick ride around the block in the still of the evening to get my ride in for the day.  A perfect relaxing day.


#30DaysofBiking Days 13 – 18: Failure, Triumph and Baseball

After a very long and tiring week, I’m finally getting a chance to catch up on my #30DaysofBiking posting.

#30DaysofBiking Day 13 – Failure

Not There Yet

Not There Yet

And then I have to start with a failure on my 30 day goal. As I’ve long been reporting, I have toiled away on the replacing of a sewer line. While it has been a great learning experience, a fantastic workout and the source of innumerable Cool Hand Luke jokes, it was also drug on much longer than I would have hoped or dreamed. Saturday was hopefully going to be my last day of moving dirt and finally this long project could start becoming a distant memory.

I got started about 9:00 in the morning after a nice night’s sleep confident that all would be done by mid-afternoon. However, when mid-afternoon came and went followed by late afternoon and early evening, things were looking bleak. By the time dusk rolled around, I knew that even after over 10 hours of solid labor, there was no way I was going to get the job done that night.

That disappointing news left me absolutely slaughtered. I crawled home and found a couch. After dozing off and on, I noticed it was getting close to the end of the day, but so depressed at not getting the job done, I broke my pledge to #30DaysofBiking and took the night off. I feel bad about it now, but at the time it just seemed like the only thing to do.

#30DaysofBiking Day 14 – Baseball

Perfect Day for a Game

Perfect Day for a Game

Sunday, I knew I really needed a day off. Thankfully, I had a perfect way to start making up for coming up short the day before and to get some stress relief. The OBS had put together a great little ride out to a Redhawks game. While the home didn’t come even close to winning, it was a great time out with a bunch of nice folks and with a nice 14 mile laid back ride to boot.

Riding Buddies

Riding Buddies

#30DaysofBiking Day 15 – Back to the Day Job

Monday was the day I had try to get caught up after the last weeks time away. Email backlogs and frantic post-vacation catch-ups don’t usually make for a nice return. Thankfully, I got a nice ride to and from work to help keep me calm and relaxed. After work it was back to the digging, which once again, given the short time, didn’t get done. However, finally, a lot of progress was made which left me with encouragement that in one more day, it would be done!

#30DaysofBiking Day 16 – Ding, Dong the Ditch is dead.

Finally Done

Finally Done

I got a pre-dawn start and while I was very late in getting to work, at least I was finally, at long last, able to finish filling in the ditch. You have absolutely no idea how good it felt to go to work with this weight off my shoulders. It felt even better for the ride home with the ability to a nice evening away from the project house.

#30DaysofBiking Day 17 – Rained Out

A stormy day kept me from commuting today, but I made sure to get back out there that evening for a ride around the block.

#30DaysofBiking Day 18 – Winter Returns

A Cold Morning

A Cold Morning

The morning started off rather cold and extremely windy. I don’t think I made much more than 12 mph all the way to work. All I hoped for is that the wind would hold out till the evening, which it did. Rode back to the project house to help with some painting work. The Realtor will be taking pictures this weekend, so there is a lot to get done in the mean time.


#30DaysofBiking Day 12 – Casual Riding

It was great to be back at work, even though there is much upon which to catch up. I was too tired last night to get all of my stuff ready for my commute back to work, and to top it all off, I slept in a bit too late this morning. No time to find all my ride clothes, pack my lunch, check the air pressure, etc. etc. So instead I did something most unusual, I just hopped on my bike in my work clothes and just rode to work. The temp was about 40 degrees which allowed me to pedal at a decent pace and still arrive to work fresh and happy. It’s an important thing for me to remember that I don’t need to over think my ride to work. Of course, in July when it’s 90 degrees at 6 am, it’s a slightly different story.

After work, I rode back to the grand canyon to continue filling it in. Still slow going, but getting closer. The ride home shortly after dark was a great help to loosen the sore muscles and to cool down. A good day of light riding to be sure.


#30DaysofBiking Day 4 – Here Comes the Sun

Day 24: Chain Cleaning

Today was a day of changing cycling fortunes.  After two days of soaking, cold rains, today was the first chance for me to dry out.  This morning started off pretty cold, but without a falling rain, it was still a great improvement.  That said, after the earlier cold, wet rides and a lack of sleep, I didn’t have any energy for the ride and I kind of drug myself into work.

However, by the afternoon, the sun had come out, the temps had risen into the mid-50s and it was like a whole new world out there.  My ride home was glorious and, compared with the morning ride, considerably more spirited.  I know we are supposed to get more rain next week, and yes, I know we desperately need it.  But I’m going to enjoy have a few days of blue skies between now and then.

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OKC Bike Share Gets a Name, "Spokies"

Bike sharing programs are the rage around the world and across the nation (the photo above is of the DC bike share program, Capital Bikeshare).  Oklahoma City first announced the program back in August and additional details were announced yesterday at the Oklahoma City Council meeting.  According to NewsOK, the program has been given an official name of “Spokies” and will consist of 95 bicycles (up from 90) placed at six stations in the downtown Oklahoma City area.  The money for the bikes and stations is coming from a federal grant.

While the locations haven’t been fixed, NewsOK is giving some initial indications of how the stations will be scattered:

The kiosks will have locking bike stands attached. The locations aren’t firm, but the idea is to have them within easy cycling of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, Bricktown, Midtown, Chesapeake Energy Arena and the adjacent Cox Convention Center, Deep Deuce, City Hall and the Civic Center Music Hall.

via Oklahoma City to launch shared-bike program downtown | NewsOK.com.

I’m still particularly pleased to see that the primary purpose of the program is to provide transportation instead of pure recreation which has been my criticism of Tulsa’s program, The Tulsa Townies.


Who's Bike Commuting and Where

 

I found this interesting article on The Atlantic about the areas of growth in bicycle commuting. While we’ve all seen the large number of articles regarding the growth of cycling commuting, it is interesting to see the geographic concentrations of this growth. Unfortunately, Oklahoma City shows no growth (we sit at a 0.1% so not any room to drop either). However, Tulsa shows 200% growth, though that only represents an increase from 0.2% to 0.6% of the population, but that is still substantial growth.

As OKC expands the city’s bicycle trails network under MAPS 3 into a system that can start to be used for transportation, it will be interesting to see if we can see similar amounts of growth as Tulsa.


Car Free OKC: Recap

So today was my first day back to driving.  I drove primarily just for the contrast and to mark and end to the experiment.  Boy, was the irony suddenly laid on thick. I climbed in my car, turned the key and nothing happened, just a clicking noise as the starter motor tried to turn over.  My battery had died.  I had to get a neighbor to come over and give me a jump-start.  I guess the heat combined with the lack of use had drained it dry.  I had noticed that it had a hard time starting on Tuesday for my short trip to work after my tires were punctured and apparently my short commute hadn’t been enough to top off the battery.  So the great irony of the experiment is that after all of my worry about being without a car for a month, the time when I really needed help was when I returned to driving.

The fact is that the experiment really wasn’t much of anything.  None of the challenges that I expected ever materialized, at least not to the level that prevented me from living my day-to-day life.  There were a few hurdles such as my battles with flat tires and a couple of rides in the rain.  However, the fact is that I made it to work every day, saw friends, bought groceries, ran errands and generally lived my life with no real disruptions.  The amazing truth is that I really could sell my car tomorrow and things would be just fine.

However, I’m not going to go entirely car free.  There are still some things that are still difficult to do without a car in this area.  For example, a lot of my cultural experiences take place in Tulsa and driving really is a must to get there.  Also, my parents live about 30 miles away out in Jones and while that it a great ride, there are times when it wouldn’t just be practical.

That being said, I do think that my day-to-day travels though are going to remain “bike-centric”.  For most of my trips, there really isn’t a need to use the car and the bike trip is always more enjoyable.  That is my big “take away” from the experience, most of the time I will be happier biking and so that’s what I plan to do.  Hope to see you out on the road . . .


Car Free OKC: On Feeling Vulnerable

So I started the day furious and frustrated. The car free experiment for this month fell apart today and it fell apart for completely unnecessary reasons. When I left work last night, I found that both of my tires were deflated. I assumed this was some moron’s idea of a “harmless” prank. I filled the tires and successfully made my way home.  However, this morning as I prepared to head to work, I found both tires flat again which means that this pathetic excuse for a human being actually punctured both tires with something that created a slow leak, probably a thumb tack.  It was too late for me to have time to replace the tubes and make it to work on time.  After swearing and fruitlessly shaking my fist I climbed in my car and with heavy heart, drove to work.  I was sooooo close . . .  One day left and I would have done it.   Instead of a feeling of triumph and because of some small-minded imbecile with delusions of adequacy, here I am fighting with stop and go traffic and I can feel my blood pressure is rising.  “DON’T YOU KNOW HOW TO MERGE????” A headache is coming on.  I can feel that throbbing starting at the back of my head.  This is just awful . . . And just like that I had an epiphany . . .

We as cyclists often feel vulnerable on our bikes.  When we are honked at or buzzed, we are faced with a dangerous situation over which we have very little control.  The same goes when our machines are vandalized.  We can feel like they are all out to get us.  That our lives are forfeit and that everyone has a blood lust.  I know several people who just gave up cycling after last year’s deaths of Clyde Riggs and Alan Spencer.  For some, the roads have become a place of fear.

Of course, the stats don’t really bear this out.  By most calculations, bicycling is safer than driving (http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm).  Additionally, while there are many drivers who hate cyclists (just read the comments second on the next online newspaper article about bicycles), are they really a majority of the population?  Of course not.  Most of  the population (even if they don’t ride regularly) owns a bicycle and self-loathing is not a majority opinion.

Even if all the stats were true and cycling was a dangerous activity would I still ride?  Absolutely!  Does the fact that there are people out there who hate that I ride a bicycle and have enough malice in their hearts to attack my bike in a cowardly and rodent-like fashion make me fear to ride?  Well, what is the alternative?  Go back to the driving rat race and pouring the contents of my wallet into my gas tank?   Heck no!  I just won’t do it.

The fact is that I feel vulnerable in a car, not on my bike.  I feel impotent and frustrated when I drive through the city.  A trip down May Avenue on a Saturday afternoon is enough to cause my stomach to turn over.  I hate spending money on gas.  I would rather spend it on a nice dinner with Grace. I hate the time wasted sitting in a car just to go someplace else.

Contrast that to the unbelievable power I feel when I get a perfect cadence going and I can watch road lines fly by.  Contrast that to the feeling of accomplishment when I see a great expanse of land open up as I push to the summit of a tall hill, my legs full of lactic acid and my brow soaked with sweat.  Contrast that to the joy of the self-powered journey and you just don’t have an argument.

So to you, the deplorable, sad, miserable lump of protoplasm, if you thought your little stunt sent me a message that I should quit riding, you are sorely mistaken.  You have only opened my eyes a little more to how much I love to ride!  While I would still love to meet you in a dark alley, in some ways, I also owe you some thanks.  Love is best measured when contrasted with absence.  The best part of this car-free experiment has been to experience what not riding does, even for one day.  With your thumb tack, you have helped me to see what an accomplishment this last month truly was.


Car Free OKC: Shower Alternatives

I’m often asked by non-cyclists about how I clean up after my daily commute. After looking over the comments from my recent post about the contents of my commuter bag, this subject is of great interest to cyclists as well. Up until just a few months I had the best possible option, an actual shower. I’ve now tried a number of products and as you might expect, nothing lives up to the real thing. However, just because you don’t have an access to a shower doesn’t mean you have to give up riding to work.

The first option is the simplest, don’t pedal so hard. The fact is that under many circumstances it is possible to make decent length trips without the need for any substantial cleanup if you just make your ride as leisurely as possible. Any sweat that you do build up can be cleaned up with  a quick trip to the restroom and some paper towels. However, this is Oklahoma and we all know what the heat can be like. I tried the leisurely approach before a meeting earlier this week and given the high heat and humidity, the results were pretty disastrous.  Additionally, many people, including myself, enjoy getting a workout as part of our commute.  Therefore, other alternatives are needed . . .

The usual alternative is the baby wipe. The most important thing to getting yourself cleaned up after a ride is to not only remove the sweat but to kill the bacteria that feed on that sweat which really produces the unpleasant odor. Baby wipes are an excellent way to fulfill both of these goals. However, they have a few draw backs that keeps me away from them. First of all, I’m not a big fan of the scent. So unless the smell is something you like, I highly recommend finding some scent free wipes. Secondly, the wipes, no matter what the scent, contain mostly alcohol which I find makes for dry skin. Thirdly, the fact that you generally go through more than one in a session and then throw them away makes them a bit wasteful in my view, though a box can certainly go along way.

Because of these reasons I sought out some alternatives to the baby wipe and I came across a couple of promising options. The first is something called Action Wipes. These are essentially an over sized and very thick baby wipe (about the size of a normal wash cloth, see picture above). These use a water based formula containing coconut oil, frankincense, eucalyptus and tea tree oil. The scent is pleasing but it does linger a bit longer than I would like.  However, they do an excellent job of cleaning the skin of sweat and grime.  Additionally, unlike a normal baby wipe, these are made of a sturdy material that can be put through the washing machine which can then be re-purposed as a shop rag or for washing dishes. Of course, this leaves you with probably more rags than you know what to do with, so the waste is still a bit too high for me since I would use one every day.  While I don’t use these for my daily commute, I do keep these around though for my weekend rides and longer trips.  They fit nicely into your seat bag and are perfect when you finish a ride and don’t have access to shower facilities.   Additionally, they can be recharged with more of the Action Wipe compound but this seems a little cumbersome.

The product I ended up settling on is something called Rocket Shower (yeah, I don’t like the name either). This is a spray bottle product that uses witch hazel, alcohol, grapefruit peel oil, peppermint oil and vitamin E. You can buy a kit that comes with a microfiber wash cloth, a 8.5 oz spray bottle and a mesh carry bag.  You just spray the product on your body, let it set a bit as it will cool you off as the product evaporates and then wipe off with the wash cloth. The cooling effect is great and the scent quickly dissipates after application. Additionally, while the product does contain alcohol, the vitamin E does a great job of keeping your skin from drying out. A single bottle lasts for 40-50 applications and you can buy refill bottles. I’ve used the Rocket Shower for the last three months throughout an extremely hot summer and it has worked great.

The important thing to note is that there are a variety of workable options (any of the ones above will work well) and while none of them are as good as a real shower, they all will serve you extremely well for daily use. Hope that this will allow some of you to get out there and find the joys of a bicycle commute . . .