Monday, October 8, 2012

Back in the Saddle

And it's a new saddle! Well, a new-to-me saddle anyway.

Note: not actual saddle

'It' is a beautifully aged mid-1970s Brooks B-17 and was originally on a Raleigh Gran Sport that I scored on Craigslist for $30. Yeah, $30! I couldn't believe it either! Anyway, the original plan was to refurbish the Raleigh, to make it sort of a speedy city bike. But after some consideration, taking into account how much it would take to get the thing in any sort of decent shape, I thought it might be better to put that project on hold, steal the Brooks away and put it to good use on my Trek Allant. And let me tell you, it's made all the difference in the world!

Now I've heard other people raving about their Brooks saddles, and I believed that the Brooks would make a difference, but it's unexplainable how much better my bike ride feels. True, I am dialing in the exact fit of the new saddle, but I'm still loving every pedal stroke. The stock seat on the Allant is a nice Bontrager Boulevard saddle, which is big and cushy. In contrast, as you may know, the Brooks is a section of leather stretched over steel rails: a very firm platform. I find I prefer this style of saddle, as it reduces any sort of friction and rubbing between my bottom and the saddle, which makes for a happier ride!

So, there it is. A new saddle so great, it's inspired me back into writing here. And I've got lots more to write about coming up. I've taken on the chasing mailboxes d.c.'s Coffeeneuring Challenge and successfully completed my first trip, which will follow in an upcoming post. I'm also shopping for a new bike, though I haven't made up my mind yet. I'll keep you posted.

I'll see you out there.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Balogna has a First Name

There's nothing better than a quicker-than-normal bike commute on a beautiful Spring day, that ends with a random sighting of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile! Brilliant!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Full Bike Rack... a happy bike rack. :)
Spring has fully arrived in Pennsylvania! Evidenced by the full bike rack outside the Y this morning.
I just love days like this. The warm sun after months of cloudy, gloomy days inspires me to get outside and soak it all in!
Get out! Enjoy the day!
I'll see you out there!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Back At It

It's been a while, but here I am again. I've taken a recommendation to post three or four times a week, and only interesting things. Hopefully that will keep my creative juices flowing sufficiently enough.
Today is a beautiful day for biking, running, picnicing or anything else outdoors. Spring has sprung! With that in mind, and it being Sunday, I loaded up and headed to Giant for weekly groceries. I didn't need much this week since I made a big haul last week, so I was able to pick up a few treats I can't normally carry on my weekly shopping trips, namely a whole frozen pizza and a 6 pack of t.p. Hey it's the little things, ya know?
While shopping, I received the monthly Redbox free DVD code, in fact, while I was browsing Giant's own limited DVD selection. I had my eye on Season 3 of Seinfeld. But alas, Redbox beckoned. I purchased my groceries and checked out the Redbox at Giant. Nothing great that I hadn't already seen. So I loaded up the bike and pedaled home, unloaded my haul, then rode over to the Turkey Hill to check out their options. I found two discs I was interested in. On the way home, I detoured to a bicycle infrastructure sign I had been wanting to take a picture of, simply for it's unexplained existence. See below. The end of a bike route, that lies in the shadow of an enormous, abandoned warehouse in a residential neighborhood just north of my neighborhood. I've run and biked by this sign many times and wonder why a bicycle route would just end. I've followed the signs in the opposite direction and it's a rather nice recreational route, not very functional at all, but nice just the same.
I've thought to map this marked route to make it more useful and accessible to the adjacent neighborhoods. Perhaps my new connections to those bicycle movers and shakers might be of assistance in this endeavor.
Anyway, on my way home from the photo shoot, I was charmed to see several children in two distinct groups riding bicycles through the neighborhood. It seemed they were riding for transportation, to get somewhere, not just for the fun of it. It's good to see that at the first hint of Spring, all those little guys and gals finding the freedom to discover their way on two wheels. That's good news for our future.
I'll see you out there.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Makin' Groceries

Quite a haul!
Around here, Sundays are for laundry, grocery shopping and just generally getting prepped for the coming work week. So that's what I did today. I woke up late, started some laundry, then bundled up for the roughly two-mile ride to the grocery store. Since I do my shopping by bike, I have to be as efficient as possible with my purchases. I try to limit myself to one trip per week because the closest decent grocery is the opposite way from all other places I tend to visit. For the past year, I've gotten pretty good at buying just what I need for the week, and nothing more.
It felt every bit of 24 degrees when I headed out this morning. Oh, I also faced a 22mph headwind on the trip to the store. To be honest, I much prefer a headwind heading out, because usually that will be a tailwind on my way home, as was the case today. I say usually because in my experience, the wind has a funny knack for shifting directions while I'm at my destination, causing a headwind situation coming and going. Those trips are the worst.
But I survived the ride, rather uneventful, as usual. There was still a lot of salt out on the roads from the snow we got here yesterday, but no big deal. I guess there also seemed to be fewer people out as well, probably a result of the snow as well. And by people, I mean cars. I won't bore you with the details of my actual shopping trip, except for the picture below: my haul. This actually isn't very representative of my usual weekly purchase; I've got plenty left over from last week since I had a few meals away from home last week. Two other reasons for the difference this week relate to the upcoming holidays. Since V-Day is Tuesday, all related goodies were marked down, so I got some cheap dark chocolate and brownie dough. Score! Also, it's Mardi Gras season, and though not really observed here in Amish country, I was happily surprised to see King Cakes in the bakery section! (taste test update: the cake was OK, not great, but not terrible) Anyway, I loaded everything into my Nashbar panniers, bundled up in my pea coat, wool beanie and ski gloves and headed home with the aid of a great tailwind.
Later, I'll probably lube my bike chain and switch out my headlight batteries, as I've noticed it's gotten dim lately.
I think I'll start tackling some bike-related social issues in the coming week. Is there anything you, dear reader, would like to know more about?
I'll see you out there.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Ride

I guess since my first post was a bit about me, it would only make sense on a bicycle blog that post number two should be about the bicycle.
My bike is a 2012 Trek Allant, from their "Urban Utility" line. I just want to say from the outset that I freaking love this bike!!! See, until November, I had been riding my old Tommaso Capri road bike for most of my bike trips. I bought that bike to train and race in triathlons back in college. Admittedly, the bike has seen better days. The chain was rusty and had started skipping some in the middle chainring. I knew there was no way that bike was going to get me through the winter.
I was working at the bike shop by then and started squirreling away my little paychecks from that gig. I also had the chance to daydream about the "perfect bike" to get me through the winter and beyond. My requirements were simple and practical. While I knew I didn't want a standard road bike, I did not want to sacrifice speed too much. three times a week, my commute is six and a half hilly miles each way. however, the rest of my trips tend to be between one-half to two miles. So I really wanted a quick but practical and comfortable bike. I did my homework, read a bunch of reviews and really honed in on the things that mattered most for me: fenders, a must; a rear rack, for carrying my stuff; upright riding position, for comfort; and good looks, because that's important, right? Well, it turns out A LOT of bikes fit that description. I allowed myself to fantasize about owning a beautiful Rivendell Yves Gomez or a Surly Crosscheck or even a Salsa Casseroll. But I knew good and well those guys were far out of my budget. I started talking to my bike shop owner, Joe, about what I was looking for, as we sometimes get good-looking used bikes in the shop. He then introduced me to the Trek employee discount program. As a Trek dealer, employees get a sweet deal on new bikes. I guess Trek wants us riding Treks. Makes sense to me. So now my search had a bit of focus. I poured over the Trek catalog and website to find the right bike for my needs. No surprise, many Trek bikes were pretty good matches. I really liked the Hybrid line, as I used to own a 7200 that I just loved, but it was removed from my possession by some unsavory fellow, never to be seen again. So I considered an upgraded Hybrid 7300 or 7500 for a while. I also liked the BelleVille, but the gearing was limited. The PDX caught my eye, until I realized it was single-speed. The Atwood was another interesting option, but the reviews were not great for that one.
Then there's the Allant. In Dark Charcoal. With color-match fenders and rear rack included. Gently swept-back handlebars and upright riding position. I knew this bike would be my next bike. I talked to Joe about the bike and he too liked the style and practicality of the Allant.
As soon as I had enough saved up, I ordered my Allant through the employee purchase program. The very next day, I got the call that it had arrived at the bike shop. I headed over and built it up right away, rode it home that day, leaving my old bike at the shop. From the first ride home, I have been thrilled with this bike. It did take some time to get used to the more upright riding position, but now, three months in, it feels perfectly normal.
I'm sure I'll include a more detailed review of the Allant in a future post. Don't worry about my old Tommaso, it's been put to good use since I acquired the Trek. I've loaned it to my rommie's b/f so he can commute from time to time.
I should probably start taking some pictures of my bike too. The photo above is from the web.

I'll see you out there.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Inspiration Has Struck

Hi. I'm Jason and this is my first blog.

I'm just a regular guy, who happens to enjoy riding my bike all over. I ride my bike to work, to get groceries, out to dinner, to social events or just for fun, exploring my city. You get the idea. I don't own a car, haven't for about a year now, which means that I really don't have much choice but to travel by bicycle. I think I'm doing OK.

Not only do I ride a bike everywhere, I've also become active in local bicycle advocacy in an effort to help make the cyclist's life a bit easier where I live. Additionally, I do some light wrenching for a bike shop on town, which started simply as a selfish effort to gain more knowledge about my new method of transportation. I see my bike first as transportation, so that's mainly how I'll approach my writing in this blog.

In case you couldn't tell already, I am by no means a professional writer. I may end up with run-on sentences, mis-spellings and poor grammar at times; do bear with me. Of potential importance as well: for the immediacy, I'll likely be composing the majority of posts from my phone.

As the title of this introductory post may suggest, I've been inspired to this project by a small though influential group of current bicycle-related blogs, namely SharrowsDC, Let's Go Ride a Bike, What I Saw Riding My Bike Around Today, Bikeyface and many others. I expect some subject-matter and general writing style will rub off on my attempt.

I don't know yet exactly which direction my writing will take, I can just be sure that it will primarily be concerned with bike stuff, perhaps the occasional life commentary or general observation, though as a full-time cyclist, most of my opinions and experiences revolve around the bicycle.

I hope you enjoy what you see here enough to want to come back for more. Heck, I hope I like it enough to come back!

See you out there.