Car Free OKC: Rain? Don't Sweat It!

Though many of us believed that it would never happen again, over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen some decent rain storms make their way through the city. Not nearly enough to make up for the drought, but it is a start. Normally, I must admit, I am a complete wimp when it comes to riding in the rain. I will usually avoid it at all costs. Which is funny because I don’t have any particularly bad experiences, but it just doesn’t strike me as the thing to do. When you decide to go car free, you don’t really have a choice and last week I had to make a couple of trips in the rain.

In doing so I learned a couple of really important things: first that riding in the rain can not only be refreshing, it is a lot of fun and secondly that there is nothing to it. I own a decently expensive rain suit made of some not-to-be-named breathable fabric that I purchased when I lived in Chicago. In Chicago during the spring and fall you can get these really chilly rains that can make a damp ride down right miserable. For those kind of rains a nice rain suit or poncho is critical to save you from just hating every second of your ride.

For some reason, probably because of the price tag, I feel the need to don my full set of rain clothing to face a summer Oklahoma rain storm. However, as much as modern breathable waterproof fabrics are a great improvement from the rain gear of the past, the fact is that they still suck if it is warm out. The amount you end up sweating when all geared up is just as bad as the moisture you would have gotten from being exposed to the rain (and it smells worse). If your ride is reasonably short and you plan on changing clothes at your destination, just get rid of the gear and let the rain fall. A warm summer rain just feels fantastic especially after the heat we have just been through.

For longer rides, I know that rain can lead to some chaffing issues that should be avoided and in those cases I would recommend getting a riding poncho versus a full rain suit. At least with the poncho you can get some air flow and they make some really nice special built ones like this. However, on Freewheel I have frequently used the large garbage bag to great effect and you can’t beat that price.

The only other tip to keep in mind is that even with an aluminum or carbon fiber bike, you will still have steel components on your bicycle. It is important dry out the crevices and nooks and crannies when you finish your ride if possible. At the very least, give it a nice rub down when you get home. Additionally, you will need to add some fresh oil to your chain and generally you should schedule your chain and gearing for a nice cleaning after some riding in the rain.

But I think the important lesson to take away is that you should just really enjoy the ride and not be afraid of a little damp. The world looks really neat on a bike in the rain . . .

#30DaysofBiking: A Celebration of Cycling

Picture By: thinredjellies

So the other day, I got in an argument with a driver who honked at me for an extended period of time and then buzzed me. In the huge pantheon of silly, pointless things to do, arguing with motorists has got to be at the top of the list. Getting into shouting matches just reinforces the stereotype of bicyclists as loudmouthed jerks. Even though I know I was in the right and just trying to be safe, it ruined my day.  By the time I got to work, I was angry, frustrated and just mad at the world generally.

However, my world completely turned around on my night ride home. I often get positive feedback on the wide variety of lights I keep on my bike. That night it was complement after complement from motorists. One motorcyclist commented with a laugh, “Jeeze, your lights are brighter than mine.”  Then the driver of a giant pickup truck, with a huge set of roof lights, a lift kit and Glasspack mufflers (generally considered to be the archenemy of cyclists in these parts) helped me trigger a troublesome light even though he was turning right. He then departed with a shout of,  “Awesome bike, man!”

That day spurred a few thoughts about cycling in Oklahoma. Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year for cycling in the state.  Over the past few months, there have been too many serious accidents including some with fatalities. Two of the fatalities were two important members of the cycling community and they died within days of one another.  To me and many others, it has felt like a war zone on the streets: A battle between us and them.  For some of my friends, they are avoiding the battle by moving to the trail system. For me, cycling is both transportation and exercise which means I’m stuck on the streets. But I too don’t want to fight a war over the control of the roadways.  However, I am not willing to give up one of the great joys in my life.

There is a riding event that started a few months ago called 30DaysofBiking.  Instead of setting a distance to beat or a time limit to match, this event is designed to remind us of the various reasons we got into cycling in the first place by encouraging you to ride at least once everyday.  If your love involves the feeling of the quiet speed only possible with your racing bike in top gear flying down a piece of perfect blacktop, or the love of a quiet ride around the lake with someone you love, or the love of a perfect run through a boulder garden on your mountain bike or even a nice game of bike polo; all are encouraged just so long as you ride.  Each day, you send a tweet describing your day of riding with the hashtag #30DaysofBiking.  It’s an amazing community of riders and an event that really encouraged me to ride last time through even though I didn’t make it all 30 days.

Well, this time I’m going to ride all 30 days.  I’m also adding an extra challenge to myself to be the cyclist I want to be. So here is my pledge for happy cycling over the next month:

I pledge to ride my bike everyday for the next 30 days.  I pledge to remember why I love to ride: The feeling of connection to nature, the feeling of quiet and calming motion, the joy of burning legs and dripping sweat, the joy of self-propulsion.  I pledge to renounce my life as a “soldier for biking.”  Instead, I pledge to wave happily at every person who honks at me because I know they just want to tell me how awesome my bike is.  I pledge not to yell at those who buzz me because I know they probably don’t know any better and yelling won’t inform them of anything.  I pledge to wave at every kid who smiles at my bike.  I pledge to say hello to every cyclist, jogger, pedestrian, rollerblader and other outdoor personages I pass.  I pledge not to be just an evangelist for cycling but an evangelist for being a nice and polite person.  Finally, I pledge to smile every time I see my bike knowing that I will get to ride her soon . . .”

If anyone else wants to join in for these last few weeks of warm weather, please visit and sign up.  I’ve discovered that the hashtag #okbikes is almost never used, so if you want to tag your tweets with both tags (#30daysofcycling #okbike) then you can track the events of local riders here.

Finally, I’m going to try to organize a party for the end of the event somewhere in the city.  If you have any interest, please leave a comment and please feel free to leave some suggestions for locations.

Norman Updates Bicycle Routes

192912800_cbd0339728 Norman is improving and expanding the bicycle routes throughout the city.  Hopefully Oklahoma City will start improving the street routes as well.  I’d love to see a route going down to Norman and out to Lake Thunderbird for a great camping weekend.

Yellow “Share the Road” signs to urge motorists and bicyclists to coexist peacefully and safely will be popping up around town as the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee works to make roads safer for both.

Read the rest at: The Norman Transcript – City’s bicycle routes being updated

Photo By: Juan-Luis

A Good Point About 4-Way Stops

It’s been a slow start to this site.  I’ve been caught up a bit too much at work to really work on it, but I haven’t given up.  Before I can get the local content up, I thought I would pass along some external stuff I find out there in the blogosphere.  I have to say that cycling in Oklahoma City seems much safer and easier than it was before I went to college back in 95.  I think drivers here are finally getting used to seeing cyclists around town.  However, I think there are still some areas for improvement including stop signs.  I wanted to pass on this letter to motorists about 4-way stop signs:

Dear Motorist,

When we both come to a 4-way stop sign, and you get there first, it is not an act of kindness for you to wave me through the intersection. I know that’s what you intend, but it only complicates my situation. You see, as I approach the intersection, I’ve already gone through a number of steps in preparation for stopping. And since I don’t have a gas pedal, there are a number of things I need to do to get going again. It would be much easier if we all just followed the rules of the road. If you stop first, you go first. If I stop first, I go first. No matter how well intentioned, when we bend the rules by giving up our right of way, it is confusing and potentially even dangerous.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

Via: EcoVelo » Blog Archive » A Message to Motorists #2