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.