#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.

The End and New Beginning of OKC Bicyclist

This is cross-posted from OKC Bicyclist . . .

Still Truckin'

Still Truckin’

When I started OKC Bicyclist in 2008, on-line communities for Oklahoma City cyclists were pretty much non-existent. There were a few mailing lists, but there was no consistent source for area cycling news including both events and advocacy. Since then, much has changed both in the local cycling community and with the ways and means to collect and distribute news. We’ve seen both large advocacy groups such as the Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition and personal advocacy efforts such as Susan Lash’s All For the Love of Bikes dramatically expand their on-line outreach. In my own small way as the VP of the Oklahoma Bicycle Society, I have tried to expand their blogging and on-line outreach as well. And then there is the technology explosion of Twitter and Facebook which has completely changed how to distribute interesting news and links. At this point, the idea of a link blog such as OKC Bicyclist is a bit of an anachronism and has become a burden for me to maintain.

I have not lost my passion for cycling or cycling news, but, for the reasons listed above, the need for a news site is much less and personal advocacy is now much more my passion than simple reporting. Now I could change OKC Bicyclist to an individual advocacy blog separate from my personal site, but that would still leave me with two sites with two different voices. The fact is that between my day job, my upcoming wedding, trying to get a consulting business off the ground and my work with the OBS and OBC, there just isn’t time to maintain two sites. Therefore, in a couple of weeks I will be merging OKC Bicyclist with my personal site Lost in OK and redirecting all links to there. This will both dramatically simplify my life and allow me to be much more personal in my bicycle writings.

With all that said, OKC Bicyclist is not completely disappearing and in some ways, it may now become much more active and dynamic. While you are free to follow me at Lost in OK or at @lostinokay, those feeds will have a lot of non-cycling stuff in them which may not really be interesting to you. Therefore, I will continue to maintain and update both the OKC Bicyclist Twitter and Facebook feeds. Without the need to write commentary on every local news link I come across, I think you can expect to see a much more responsive and active distribution of cycling news both via Twitter and Facebook in the weeks to come.

Closing a site that I have labored with for the last five years was not an easy decision, but is the only one I think that is practical and personally fulfilling. Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions. And as always, I hope to see you out on the road!

A Great Cause, A Great Ride

I don’t often put out fundraising pleas to this blog, but this is a cause worthy of all the attention I can muster.  As fellow Oklahomans, you know all to well the severe impact that diabetes is having on our community.  As of 2010, more than 10% of the Oklahoma population had been diagnosed with some form of diabetes, far greater than the national average.  That doesn’t even begin to count the large numbers people who have the disease but remain undiagnosed.   Diabetes is, without a doubt, one of the largest health problems affecting our state.

Therefore, I, along with many other riders, will be participating in this year’s Tour de Cure in Mustang. This group ride raises critical funds for the American Diabetes Association.  I will be participating in the 62 mile ride and while that distance is enough to greatly impress my non-cyclist friends, I know my cycling friends are a tougher crowd.  So this year, I am throwing in my first self-contained bicycle tour in many, many years along with my participation in this year’s Oklahoma Freewheel as mileage in support of this cause (here is a rough map).  This along with a training ride I am leading and the Tour de Cure ride will work out to more than 800 miles in three weeks in the name of stopping this disease.

If you can participate, please consider signing up here.  However, if you can’t, any donations to the cause would be so greatly appreciated.  You can donate to my ride here: http://main.diabetes.org/goto/NathanLorenz

Thanks so much for your support!

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.

#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 http://30daysofbiking.com 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.