What this blog is about

Bicycle commuting, bicycle touring, bicycle racing; bicycle ADVENTURING.
To the grocery store, up a mountain, across the country or to the finish line--
it's all an adventure.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Xtra Loads

Xtracycle is good for even those awkwardly-shaped loads. This cardboard couldn't be bent because it was for an art project, but add a couple bungees and voila- no problemo.

A trip to the thift store shouldn't make you go back home to get the car!

What makes a good commuting bike?

-Frame design (geometry) that is relaxed & comfortable yet speedy.
Sitting more upright takes strain off of your back, but sitting too far upright pretty much kills your speed. But you're not trying to win a race, you're just trying to get to the grocery store in a timely manner. Somewhere in the middle is nice.

-Good city tires.
Really fat & tready mountain tires just slow you down and work harder. Super hard & skinny road racing tires may make your butt feel more of the bumps in the road while not being able to support heavy loads. A good compromise is in-between. Something about 1.5" give or take with indented treads is nice.

-A rack! &/or basket &/or panniers &/or trailer &/or Xtracycle.
Some sort of Carrying Stuff System so that you can use your bike more & your car less.

Keeps your feet & butt dry, need I say more? Rain shouldn't deter you from riding your bike!

-Lights, front & rear.
It's not only the law, but it may save your life.

-Understated graphics.
Flashy paint jobs invite theft. Go understated.

-Flat kit.
A good cyclists is prepared. Don't just carry what you need to fix a flat, know how to do it!

Unless you're not going to carry much weight, travel far or go uphill- gears sure are helpful. You don't need a ton of them, just some of them.

I am hesitant to add this to the list, because I don't mean to say that bikes need to be so light as to merit carbon fiber.. but rather, big cruisers can weigh a TON while a reasonable commuter will ride quicker. Cruisers are fun, unless you're trying to get somewhere quickly.

Here are some examples of awesome commuter bikes I spied on the Whitman College campus.. they could use a few more items like lights, fenders, flat kits etc. but are great candidates for five-star commuters.

Tips for Bicycling Around Cars & Driving Around Bicyclists

Tips for Bicycling Around Cars & Driving Around Bicyclists
from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance

Driving Around Bicyclists
1. Check the bike lane – when turning right across a bike lane, always look behind you for a bicyclist; bikes can travel fast enough to catch up with you even if you passed them more than a block ago; if someone is approaching, wait and yield rather than trying to “beat” them; think of the bike lane like a train track – never sit and idle on it, don’t start across until you know you can clear it
2. Always signal – if you don’t signal your turns, both right and left, bicyclists can’t anticipate them and can’t make an effort to stay out of your blind spot; if talking on your cell phone is preventing you from using your turn signal, stop talking on your cell phone, get a hands-free phone, or grow an extra arm
3. Pass with ample room – except over a double yellow line, you can cross the center line to pass a bicyclist safely, as long as oncoming traffic is clear; passing close, especially over 25 mph, is very scary for the cyclist
4. Don’t honk to communicate with cyclists, unless there’s an emergency – if your horn sounds loud from inside your car, imagine how loud and shocking it is from just in front of it
5. Don’t follow closely – this is scary and intimidating, and the bicyclist probably would prefer to be out of your way as soon as possible but needs to be in the lane for some reason
6. Allow bicyclists to use crosswalks – they are permitted to do so, and in some places bicyclists rely on them for safe crossings
7. Look when opening your door – especially when you are parked next to a bike lane, but also on any street; many bicyclists ride close to parked cars to leave room for drivers to pass on their left, and this means you could hit them with your door if you don’t look first
8. Be cautious in residential neighborhoods – bicyclists like to use quiet streets to get around, so if you are sloppy or impatient at stop signs you risk hitting someone on a silent or vulnerable vehicle; also, slow down and stop before you get to the stop sign, not as you roll by it, because children biking on the sidewalk may cross in front of you and if you aren’t already slowing down you may run them over
9. Use good manners – apologize if you make a mistake and it will go a long way; eye contact and waves are very humanizing, especially in the stress of rush-hour traffic

Bicycling Around Cars
1. Be visible - #1 safety issue we see among bicyclists – use front and back lights, and wear light colored or reflective rain gear; invisible bicyclists risk their lives, and scare and infuriate even the most empathetic of car drivers
2. Learn to look over your left shoulder – helps with looking before leaving the bike lane to turn left, pass another cyclist or avoid a car door; helps with changing lanes; helps with making eye contact with passing motorists
3. Signal – for lane changes or turns, or stopping suddenly; motorists often are very nervous driving around bicyclists because they don’t know what to expect; make your intentions clear, and they’ll generally give you more space and time to do what you need to do; you aren’t required to signal, however, if you need both hands on your handlebars
4. Take the lane when necessary – sometimes if a lane is so narrow that passing is dangerous, you may need to take the lane briefly to make that clear to drivers behind you; move over as soon as you can safely and let people stuck behind you pass; if you’re going the speed of traffic, as often happens downtown or on downhills, feel free to take the lane – it is safer and more comfortable
5. Stay out of the “door zone” – be far enough away from parked cars that if someone opens a door without looking, you don’t have to swerve suddenly
6. Use extra caution if passing on the right – avoid doing this when there isn’t much room, when people are turning into driveways, or when traveling through an intersection; remember, there is no bike lane so drivers do not know to look for you there
7. Use good manners – if you make a mistake, give the “my bad” wave; if someone does something nice for you, give a wave of “thanks”; never steal the right-of-way, it is very offensive and terrible PR for bikes; give pedestrians lots of space

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bill Mason: finding peace by canoe

Bill Mason: "artist, author, filmmaker, and world-renowned canoeist."

Bicycle Touring Pro

"Hello everyone! My name is Darren Alff and welcome to BicycleTouringPro.com. This is a brand new website that I've created to help connect bicycle tourists from around the world. I am an experienced bicycle tourist who has ridden across the United States six separate times and I just returned from a tour of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic..."

Talk about credentials! This is perhaps the best website or just straight up resource on bicycle touring that I have seen. It's comprehensive, well-written & includes pictures & video. Here's a video on how to pack handlebar bags, one in a series of how-to videos:

Find more helpful bicycle touring information at bicycletouringpro.com!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How do people use Xtracycles?

This photo I found on Flickr. A fellow Xtracycle & plant lover. :)

Some people immediately see the utility of an Xtracycle, but there are some people who ask, "well, what would you use it for?" I personally use it for grocery shopping, odd errands (moving lawn chairs, recycling or even large filing boxes) and have plans to tour & adventure as well. It pretty much replaces a car for me and is an invitation to new adventures as an added bonus. But here are some more answers that I got from the Xtracycle website:

How are people are using it?

  • For faster, simpler, and more reliable backcountry and cross country touring.
  • For human-powered multi-sport adventures combining biking and other outdoor activities such as surfing, skiing, kayaking, and climbing.
  • Commuters are finding a new level of car-replacing utility.
  • Accessing roadless areas with specialized gear and equipment.
  • Businesses are using it for running errands, moving parts around facilities or from one store to another, and picking up office party favors.
  • Many people use it primarily as a passenger vehicle for friends, family, and lovers.
  • Replacing short car trips, such as for picking up groceries, recycling, and going yard-saleing.
  • Musicians with large instruments are riding to gigs that they had to drive or walk to before.
  • Bike messengers and courier companies are using it to carry bigger and more varied loads through congested city cores, faster than previously possible.
  • Crazy kids are surfing on the SnapDeck; really crazy kids are surfing on the SnapDeck with no one steering the bike!
  • For bike-based businesses like electrical contracting and landscaping.
  • Parents are using it to tote around kids too big for a bike seat or trailer, and too small to keep up over long distances.
  • Beginning and intermediate mountain bikers are using the S.U.B. to ride harder trails with more confidence.

Copenagen Cycle Chic

So first I was hanging out at Copenhagenize.com, a blog on bicycle (commuting) culture in Copenhagen. I learned that Copenhagen's busiest bike lane sees 35,000 cyclists per day! WOW! But the thing you've got to realize is that not all the cyclists are stinky hippies like me. No, EVERYBODY rides bikes over there. Even the super chic.

Introducing: Copenhagen Cycle Chic. Who said you couldn't wear heeled boots on a bike?

Even chilly weather doesn't deter these ladies!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Choosing a Bike (from scratch!) for an Xtracycle

Riding an Xtracycle around a small town (or a big town for that matter) is bound to get you into some conversations about your bike. First people just want to know what the heck it is you're riding. Then people want to know how it performs & whether it's useful or practical or, yes, even just plain fun. Then finally people want to know how they can get one themselves. :)

There a couple ways you can go about getting an Xtracycle.

A) You can choose a pre-built Xtracycle (that includes a bike) from their website.
b) You can just buy the Free Radical/Free Loader kit (the frame & rack) and attach it to a bike you already have.
C) If you don't have a (suitable) bike you can buy a pre-built (used or new) bike & attach the kit.
d) If you don't have a (suitable) bike you can buy a frame, components etc, to build up a bike that is ideal for an Xtracycle kit.

This post is about option (d). Choosing a suitable (and by suitable, I really mean 'ideal', because most bikes will work just fine for an Xtracycle) bicycle. And so it begins..

i. On frames..
If you're going to spend money anywhere, spend it on your frame. If you're going to get a headache over anything, get it over your frame. Your frame has the greatest impact on how your bike fits you, performs, and lifespan of your bike (you might still be riding it at 85!). Other things (handlebars, stem, seatpost, wheels etc) are much easier (and usually cheaper) to change. But don't get a headache. Nobody likes a headache.

STEP ONE: frame material
Choosing a frame begins with frame material. Generally, you'll be deciding between steel or aluminum (or a mix) since anything else (carbon) is really just for Fancy Pants Racing or Fancy Pants Racing Wannabes. & you're not looking to race, you're looking for something strong, durable & comfortable (as opposed to light, fast & aerodynamic).

Steel PROS: To quote Surly, "plentiful, durable, repairable and easily recyclable." Also cheap & dampens vibration wonderfully. (Imagine a 10hr car ride in a jeep vs. a luxury car.)
Steel CONS: Heavy. Some say rust, but that's easily preventable & even fixable.

Aluminum PROS: Cheap, light, stiff (stiff is good for power transfer, which is good for speed).
Aluminum CONS: Not so repairable. Imagine a pop can. Imagine putting a dent in the pop can. Now the pop can will easily crush.

Further reading on frame materials, particularly steel: Sheldon Brown, Surly, Rivendell.

So if you haven't noticed my bias already- I like steel. But really, aluminum is great, too- and just because a bike is aluminum, that should not be the sole reason to shy away from it. My race bike is aluminum & carbon.

STEP TWO: frame design
The geometry of a bike has influence not only on how the bike handles (zippy vs stable etc) but also on how your body handles the bike! (sore back vs happy back etc.) Let's go from one extreme to the other.

Racing time trial bike: more about aerodynamics than comfort.
Racing road bike: an 'aggressive' position, bending your back to reach the bars.
Touring road bike: a more relaxed position, but still bending a little bit.
Commuter hybrid: sitting much more upright, leaning forward only a little bit.
'Bike Path' bike: sitting very upright, hardly leaning forward at all.
Cruiser bike: like sitting on a couch.

The range that would be appropriate for an Xtracycle is anywhere between Touring & Cruiser. Where you fall in that spectrum depends on what you're comfortable with and what you intend to use your Xtracycle for.

If you want to use your Xtra as your primary commuting vehicle, but also go bicycle camping/touring on it.. if you're a roadie and can't get away from drop bars.. if you're more comfortable/accustomed to a road bike geometry than mountain.. my suggestion is a touring frame/bike.
Suggestions: Surly Long Haul Trucker

*That's my Surly Long Haul Trucker haulin' some pizza in that photo! I used the cardboard box that shipped my wideloaders. :)

If you want to use your Xtra as your primary commuting vehicle, not just downtown but also for longer distances.. my suggestion is a commuter/hybrid frame/bike.
Suggestions: Surly Big Dummy w/ flat bars, Marin Novato offered by Xtracycle, Jamis Coda Sport

If you want to use your Xtra as your frequent commuting vehicle, but aren't interested in terrifically large loads, going fast or going far.. if you're more comfortable/accustomed to upright mountain geometry than road.. my suggestion is a bike path or mountain frame/bike.
Suggestions: Surly Big Dummy w/ cruiser bars, Surly Instigator, Jamis Commuter

*An added advantage of Surly's Big Dummy (frame in the photo above right, full build with flat bars in the photo to the left) that it is the only frame actually that actually integrates Xtracycle's racks (Free Loaders) into its design. The benefits include a better ride & durability. Not to mention the cool factor.

If you want to use your Xtra as your frequent commuting vehicle, but only for short distances and at leisure speed.. if you plan on installing speakers, a keg & neon lights on the back.. my suggestion is a cruiser frame/bike.
Suggestions: Electra Townie offered by Xtracycle

STEP THREE: deciding everything else
All the other pieces are good to think about, and some are more important than others (your wheels are more important than your seat post, for example). So if you're going to spec' out your bike part by part, first you want to be familiar with what has priority for quality and where you can get away with.. less than quality. Here is my list in order of priority & my two cents on each.

Level One Priority
Your rear wheel in particular needs to be strong in order to support heavy loads. A weak or poorly built wheel will go easily out of true (wobble), break spokes or even just fail (turn into a taco shell instead of a round wheel). A wheel can be made strong by its rim design (a cyclocross wheel which is meant for rough riding would be designed for strength) but also its spoke count & pattern. Tandems, for example, have to support a lot of weight so their wheels often have 42+ spokes instead of 32. My rear wheel has 32 but uses a "3-cross" pattern where each spoke crosses another 2-3 times instead of crossing 0-1 times like my race wheels (which don't have to support as much weight and can afford to be "aerodynamic").
What I have: Mavic XC 717 Cross Rims 32h 3-cross pattern

Brakes are always important for safety, but they're extra important when you're carrying a load & riding in traffic. The advantage of disc brakes is that they perform just as well in wet weather, but they can be a pain to fix (especially if you plan to travel in remote places)- so unless you live in a rainy & hilly area, they're not necessary. V-brakes & Cantilevers, both found commonly on mountain bikes & some road bikes (e.g. cyclocross), are very strong & easy to repair. Caliper brakes, found on road racing bikes, are not very strong but okay if you're not carrying heavy loads.
What I have: Avid Brakes

Handle Bars
While the quality of handle bars may not matter so much (you're not trying to win a sprint finish in the Tour de France, are you?), the shape will vastly affect your comfort & how the bike handles. Drop bars provide not only an aerodynamic position, but several positions, which makes it beneficial for touring. However, your hands will be much closer to the center which may make large loads trickier to manage. Flat bars are nice in that they spread your arms wider and make loads easier to manage, but you don't have nearly as many options for hand positions. Cruiser bars are fun and allow you to sit completely upright, but I personally find them hard to maneuver (probably because I'm a roadie). If you don't have experience with a particular bar (drop bars, for example), they're bound to feel very strange at first- but give them a chance (say, borrow a friend's bike) and you can usually develop a feel for them.
What I have: Ritchey Biomax drop bars

Don't skimp here! This is your butt & your happiness we're talking about. But in searching for comfort, be aware that softer does not always mean better. Large & soft seats are good for cruisers which typically don't go on very long rides. Think of a saddle like a mattress. A really soft mattress feels great for a few minutes, but sleep on it all night and you'll have no support and feel sore in the morning. Likewise, sleeping on concrete doesn't do you any good either.
What I have: Terry

Cassette/Chain Rings
What matters here is a range of gears. While some purist Cool Cats like riding Xtracycles on single speeds (which is more about culture than about practical, if you ask me), it makes much more sense to have easy gears readily available for hauling large loads, especially up hills. I have a 46/?/26 triple up front and a 12-26 in the rear. So far, so good.
Also, I have a 9 speed as opposed to a 10 speed so that I can have a wider and thus more durable chain that is more widely available.
What I have: 46/?/26 triple up front, 12-16 in the rear

Level Two Priority
The headset is what holds your fork onto your frame and allows it to rotate. Riding on bumpy roads can put stress & wear on the headset. Because I want to not only commute, but also to explore on my bike, I chose a Chris King headset which is the "bling" of headsets. It's what you might call "over-manufactured," which means that it could undergo much tougher conditions than a bike could ever provide. Pretty much it could be your last headset. The downside is that they're really expensive. You can justify it, though, by thinking of buying a Chris King like buying the time of 2 or more regular headsets.
What I have: Chris King.. in pink

Bottom Bracket
The bottom bracket is the moving part that is between your two cranks. Same deal with the headset, only different name. I got a Phil Wood, another expensive and over-manufactured part so that I won't have to ever worry about what's goin' on down there.
What I have: Phil Wood

Wheel Hubs
The wheel hub is the moving part of your wheel, where all of the spokes meet. Generally, (as with the headset & bottom bracket) moving parts are what get a lot of wear on your bike and are worth investing in. This rule doesn't always apply, though- since a chain moves a lot, but is replaced the most and thus may not be worth spending extra money on each time.
What I have: Shimano XT

Rear Derailleur
The rear (arguably) is more important than the front since it is a more complicated mechanism & has more gears to change.
What I have: Shimano 105

Unless you live in the mountains, you don't need knobby mountain tires. They not only slow you down, they make riding more work. There are lots of great city tires out there that are mostly smooth (they usually have an indented pattern) and not too skinny (you want at least 1.5" wide unless you don't plan on carrying heavy loads).
What I have: Panaracer Pasela Touring 1.5"

Level Three Priority
I chose bar-end shifters for their simplicity so that they'd be easy to repair 'in the field'. Any manual shifter will also be cheaper. An STI shifter, which basically means things shifters that go 'click!' 'click!' and ta-da, you've shifted- are very nice to use, but more expensive & have lots of internal parts. Note that 'manual' shifters do have the option to go 'click!' 'click!' but can easily be converted to friction shifting which is when you slowly turn the lever until the gears have shifted.
What I have: Shimano bar-end

I got some cheap, but awesome platforms that look simple and grip great. Don't need bike shoes, just any shoes.
What I have: MKS Touring pedals

The quality isn't so important, but the size & angle are very important. This decides much of your body positioning on the bike.

Epilogue. How I chose the Surly Long Haul Trucker.

I wanted to tour on my bike as well as commute/haul, which lead me to consider touring bikes. I also wanted control over each part, which lead me to consider choosing a touring frame instead of a complete bike. I also wanted it to be made out of steel for repairability, durability & longevity, so that narrowed down the options some more. Then I wanted a no-frills, straightforward company that was environmentally responsible as well as affordable. And a sweet understated color. Thus was born the Surly Long Haul Trucker. Surly, in general, provides well-crafted steel frames that are smartly designed without the overhead spent on mass marketing, savings which transfer to your pocket book. I recommend them.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tour of Walla Walla Report

I think the people that asked me, "How did it go?" instead of "How did you do?" are onto my new way of thinking.

& what new way of thinking is that?

Glad you asked. :)

Little more fun, little less stress.
Little more experience, little less results.
Little more play, lot less serious.
Little more sporadic, little less methodic.
Little more wool, little less spandex.
Little more steel, little less carbon.

It's not that I dislike racing. I spent 4 years racing and worked really hard doing it. Now I'm just ready for something else. Like bicycle camping. :)

So I had fun in the time trial, fun in the road race- and when it wasn't fun anymore, I sat up and stopped racing. Then I found a package of Clif Blocks on the road that still had some in the package. I ate them. Then I finished the road race at a 'Look at the Clouds' speed. I didn't race Sunday morning in the criterium, but I did cheer hard.

Who's the Weirdo?

Credit: Yuhuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Critical Mass: We Are Traffic

A great documentary on Critical Mass (50min).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Field Performance Test"

The other week my road bike was still packed up in a cardboard box since I had taken the Greyhound from Seattle to Pasco (and naturally, whenever I travel, my bike goes with me)- but I wanted to go for a nice easy spin in the wheatfields so I just took my Surly/Xtracycle instead! It was a great test for "field performance" instead of the usual around-town riding my Xtra usually gets. In the end, I was actually fairly impressed with the rolling speed which says a lot since my other bike is an Orbea! ;)

Xavier Rudd: Better People

Better People by Xavier Rudd

you people saving whales,
giving your thanks to our seas
my respect to the ones in the forest,
Standing up for our old trees

Them giving food to the hungry
giving hope to the needy
giving life to a baby
giving care for free
there is freedom around us
We have everything we need
I will care for you
because you care for me
we all have opinions
Some of them get through
But there’s better people
With more good to do.

what I have could be a message
or just some words from my heart
My respect to the ones making changes
For other lives they’ll give their own


well our world it keeps spinning
round and round it goes
Human nature keeps spreading it's disease
And our children keep growing up with
what they know from what we teach
and what they see
And it’s only a question of the time we have
And the lives that our children will lead
they can only keep growing up with
what they know from what we teach
and what they see


"Bicycle Camping for the Time Challenged"

Rivendell is an awesome bike shop in California that subscribes to a wool/not spandex, platforms/not clipless, steel/not carbon sort of philosophy. You can read some entertaining ramblings on this philosophy at their website, www.rivbike.com. I also recommend perusing some of the beautiful frames they design.

Anyway- the folks at Rivendell also like to promote bicycle camping, and more specifically, S24O's. An S24O (Es-Two-Four-Oh) is a Sub-24 hour-Overnight. That means loading up your bike with whatever you need for the night: food, sleeping bag, a book and taking off Friday evening & returning Saturday morning. You don't need to go far. Is there a state park within a day's ride? Or maybe there's a secluded hilltop just out of town. You also don't need to bring much. If you forget something (say, dinner)- it's not such a terrible thing because you'll be home in the morning and you'll have a good story anyhow. And you don't need much time to do it. Leave with enough light to get to your destination and return home in the morning. The "I have to work" excuse just won't work.

To read the article from Adventure Cycling, "Bicycle Camping for the Time Challenged," written by the Rivendell founder, click here.

To read an article from the Rivendell website on what to pack for a S24O, click here.

Go camping!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

World's Largest Bicycle

What if.. when you got on the bus.. you had to pedal?

& I wonder how fast it could go with trained cyclists aboard..

Specialty Outdoors: handmade, quality, custom gear

Nice ski suit, huh? Well, it was hand made by Penny (the one in the picture) @ Specialty Outdoors.

Specialty Outdoors is a one-woman show based out of Spokane, WA. She makes custom outdoor clothing & alterations to clothing, packs etc. Also, if you're a handy sewer yourself, she has a wealth of information & tips on her website on how to make your own outdoor gear!

Some of the things Penny does (excerpt from website):
  • Technical and shell clothing: altering for fit, repairs, modifying features
  • Add features: pockets, pitzips, zippers, wear patches
  • Custom technical wear: fleece, cycle, ski, etc. wear
  • Fitting challenges: sleeves, length (too long or too short) torso length, resizing
  • General repairs & rehabilitation (zippers, patches, elastic, Velcro� etc.)
  • Taped Goretex ( and other similar fabrics) alterations & modifications
  • Small packs: repairs and modifications
  • Special request or idea? Contact me and let's see if it can be done! Trust me, it will not be the most far out thing I've ever been asked to make.

Bikes at Work

I've got one of these babies on order.

This is a trailer made by Bikes at Work Inc. They make and sell trailers as well as run a bicycle delivery service that picks up just about anything from weekly recycling to your household refrigerator. Their trailers are so well designed that the folks over at Pedal People, another recycle-by-bicycle organization use them happily. And soon I will be using one happily, too.

Okay, so I have an Xtracycle- why do I need yet ANOTHER hauling device that carries 300lbs? (For a total of 500lbs, in case you were counting.) Well. First of all, it is another step toward decreasing my "need" for a car. Secondly, I am interested in doing some trial runs of a recycle-by-bicycle business of my own. Thirdly, I also want to start painting & selling furniture @ Farmer's Market and need a way to move it all. Fourthly, even if none of my 'business' ventures work out, point one is still in effect and I can move whatever I need to or want to without having to call for help! And really, I just get a kick out of hauling things by bike.

Build Your Own Bamboo Trailer

A fantastic fellow recently introduced me to do-it-yourself bamboo bike trailers. Yes, I said bamboo.

The folks at Carry Freedom will supply you with free plans to make a bike trailer out of just about anything- bamboo, old shelving, sticks- and there aren't even power tools required. All that they ask in return is this (excerpt from their website):

1. Tell us what you are using the bicycle trailer for
2. Send us photos of the bicycle trailer you build
3. Tell us how to improve the instructions or the trailer
4. Accept that we might post your email on our blog

And also:

This project exists thanks to the quiet dedication of many people investing a small part of their own time money or skill. If you feel you can help in any way, then we will gratefully accept. For example you could:
  • Teach others to build the trailer
  • Create better ways of making the bicycle trailer
  • Email us pictures of your trailer
  • Link to this web page
  • Use the bicycle trailer you build
  • Use your skill or talent to bump the project along
  • Bore people at parties about bamboo;)

Not a bad deal at all. And if you'd rather plunk down some cash instead of doing the work, they also make a really smart line of trailers for purchase.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Some favorite pictures from the weekend..

Sunny skies this weekend!

I had Alex reenact the story she was telling for this picture.

Zac explains to yet another racer that "his brake was rubbing for the last 5 miles!"
Yes, Zac, we know your brake was rubbing for the last 5 miles. ;)

Nice 'stache. (Click to enlarge for full appreciation of our ladies' faux facial hair)

Our boys, focused at the start.

Carvin' corners in the crit. Kendi won the sprint finish!

The full race report (written by Yours Truly) can be found (soon) here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How to Not Get Hit By Cars!

*Excerpt from bicyclesafe.com*

Collision Type #1: The Right Cross

This is one of the most common ways to get hit (or almost get hit). A car is pulling out of a side street, parking lot, or driveway on the right. Notice that there are actually two possible kinds of collisions here: Either you're in front of the car and the car hits you, or the car pulls out in front of you and you slam into it.

How to avoid this collision:

1. Get a headlight. If you're riding at night, you should absolutely use a front headlight. It's required by law, anyway. Even for daytime riding, a bright white light that has a flashing mode can make you more visible to motorists who might otherwise Right Cross you. Look for the new LED headlights which last ten times as long on a set of batteries as old-style lights. And helmet- or head-mounted lights are the best, because then you can look directly at the driver to make sure they see your light.

2. Honk. Get a loud horn and USE IT whenever you see a car approaching (or waiting) ahead of you and to the right. If you don't have a horn, then yell "Hey!" You may feel awkward honking or yelling, but it's better to be embarrassed than to get hit. Incidentally, the UK requires bells on bicycles.

3. Slow down. If you can't make eye contact with the driver (especially at night), slow down so much that you're able to completely stop if you have to. Sure, it's inconvenient, but it beats getting hit. Doing this has saved my life on too many occasions to count.

4. Ride further left. Notice the two blue lines "A" and "B" in the diagram. You're probably used to riding in "A", very close to the curb, because you're worried about being hit from behind. But take a look at the car. When that motorist is looking down the road for traffic, he's not looking in the bike lane or the area closest to the curb; he's looking in the MIDDLE of the lane, for other cars. The farther left you are (such as in "B"), the more likely the driver will see you. There's an added bonus here: if the motorist doesn't see you and starts pulling out, you may be able to go even FARTHER left, or may be able to speed up and get out of the way before impact, or roll onto their hood as they slam on their brakes. In short, it gives you some options. Because if you stay all the way to the right and they pull out, your only "option" may be to run right into the driver's side door. Using this method has saved me on three occasions in which a motorist ran into me and I wasn't hurt, and in which I definitely would have slammed into the driver's side door had I not moved left.

Of course, there's a tradeoff. Riding to the far right makes you invisible to the motorists ahead of you at intersections, but riding to the left makes you more vulnerable to the cars behind you. Your actual lane position may vary depending on how wide the street is, how many cars there are, how fast and how close they pass you, and how far you are from the next intersection. On fast roadways with few cross streets, you'll ride farther to the right, and on slow roads with many cross streets, you'll ride farther left.

For 9 more very helpful tips, click here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"No More Excuses"

I found this at bicycleuniverse.info , a neat site for bicycle commuting, touring, advocacy & more.

Source: Compiled by Tim Cookingham for Austin City Connection,

Everyone's got a "reason" for why they can't ride their bike to work. But we've got a solution to nearly every excuse. Read on . . .

* It's too far to ride.
If you live too far from work, consider driving part of the way and riding the rest. Or you can ride the bus part way. Bike racks have been installed on all full-sized Capital Metro buses.

* It takes too long.
You'd be surprised. Because of traffic in urban areas, cycling generally takes less time than driving for trips of 3 miles or less, and about the same time for 3 to 5 mile trips. For longer trips, consider that you're saving time by combining your daily exercise with your commute.

* I'd have to get up much earlier if I rode my bicycle.
If your commute is less than 10 miles round trip, the difference in commute time will be insignificant. Even if your commute is longer, 30 minutes of extra sleep isn't as invigorating as a morning ride.

* I can't afford a special commuting bicycle.
You don't need one. Your old beater bike gathering dust in the garage will suffice if properly adjusted and maintained, and it's less attractive to thieves.With the fixed cost of operating an automobile at around 30 cents per mile, the money you would save commuting by bicycle on an average 10-mile round trip would buy you a $400 bicycle in six months time.

* I have to dress nice for work.
Some bicycle commuters simply ride in their business attire -- they seem to command more respect from motorists. Consider carrying your change of clothes in a pack or in panniers on the bike, or transport them back and forth on days when you don't ride.

* I can't shower at work.
Depending on the weather, you may not need a shower if you ride at a leisurely pace. If you do, take a washcloth, soap, towel and deodorant and clean up at the restroom sink, or look for a public facility or health club within walking distance of your workplace where you can shower.

* I'd have to ride in the dark.
There are a variety of bike-mounted lights that can help you see and be seen.

* I need my car for work.
Some transportation tasks could be handled equally well on a bike. Meet with your employer and see if your company might not benefit from a more environmentally friendly image if you conducted your business by bike. If you absolutely cannot use a bike at work, then use your bike for personal errands at work and at home.

Monday, April 7, 2008

People & Their Bicycles

I stumbled across a really awesome custom bike shop called ANT (Alternative Needs Transportation). Then I discovered their Ant Colony, a collection of photographs of people and their ANTs. Viewed as a group, the portraits take on new meaning. Here a few of my favorite photos. The full gallery can be found here.

Riding Home

Whenever I stay with my parents in Marysville, I ride out to Granite Falls, my childhood home. I spend a moment at the creek on our old street, since one of my favorite things to do with my neighbors when I was young was to "go ride down to the creek" on our bikes and poke around in the mud, the skunk cabbage and huckleberries. There was always something to do at the creek. We had a phase where catching mudsuckers was the most fun thing ever. We were on a mission to catch 'bait' for our dads and would proudly watch our collection grow in the 5 gallon bucket at home. We'd wade under the bridge and laugh and holler when cars rumbled overhead. And often it was the perfect escape on a hot day. Now I return a college graduate on a speedy road bike out for a ride, but I found my creek to be just as inviting as it ever was. I like to imagine my creek like an old friend, always glad to visit.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Collegiate Cycling Photo Essay

Warm Up

Start Line


& Finish

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