Saturday, January 19, 2013

385 days of cycling

We celebrated our 385th consecutive day of cycling with a trike train ride with friends on Lake Harriet. It's been easier to ride every day than to blog every month (outdated browser on a computer for which I'm not the administrator, and difficulty with my new smartphone or the blogging app -- not sure which). Some of our bike rides in December were very brief, and a few of mine were around the living room on a small folding bike, but as the days get longer, we're both commuting on our trikes. Last year, the the ice on the lakes never got thick enough for safe riding, but it's a foot thick now after a January cold snap, and relatively clear of snow. We let a couple of other cyclists try out the trike train on the lake while I took a short movie of it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Going strong

We're more than two thirds of the way through the year and have cycled every day.  My phone app for blogging about it hasn't been working since I got a new phone, so here's a summary:  We rode 100 kilometers for the Minnesota Ironman in early May, a couple of group trike rides with the MiNiTOT group in June, the Midwest Recumbent Rally in August -- with a 4-trike train trip through the old railroad tunnels on the Elroy-Sparta trail on the way home -- and the two Twin Cities rides in September (the St. Paul Classic and the Tour of Minneapolis).  The St. Paul Classic's 41-mile loop formed the backbone of our only 100-mile ride of the year;  we rode to and from the event, and took a long detour across Minneapolis and into the western suburbs and back during the afternoon. That ride, on September 9, has to serve as my annual 9/11 ride, which was interrupted when I was called in to work 30 miles out from the start, to cover for a sick co-worker.  It's been a great year for cycling so far. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

113 Days of Biking

We've been doing the 366 Days of Biking and are 22 days into the "30 Days of Biking" challenge, but blogging our year of cycling has fallen by the wayside -- in favor of actually riding the bikes for the past 113 days (and working). 

For Earth Day, we rode to the co-op and brought back four full baskets of groceries.  The bike baskets are from BASIL.  We love the way they can be hung on the side of a grocery cart and then just lifted onto the bike racks. 


Thursday, January 05, 2012

January 5

Today was a telecommuting day, but I found time to take a seven -mile ride in the evening to meet up with Dale on his commute home and to stop for groceries.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

First Commute of 2012

From Daily Rides of 2012
The streets are a mess, the sun goes up after I get to work and sets before I get out, it's cold, and the ride isn't particularly scenic -- but I really enjoy cycle-commuting.  It's easier to load up my computer and head off in the early morning to work than to take a recreational ride around the lake on a sunny winter afternoon;  having a reason to ride is a big part of my motivation.  (5.4 miles round trip)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Winter cycling on ice

From Daily Rides of 2012
Every year since 2002, when I first tried to take at least one bike ride a day, Minnesota weather has stopped me in my tracks. This little Anura trike took me around Lake Harriet today and then up an icy hill toward home.  Even without studded tires, its traction is impressive.  (Dale was riding the one with the larger wheels and the studded tires.)  It was another day for a short ride, just three miles. 

Monday, January 02, 2012

Just 364 more days

From Daily Rides of 2012

Without the Greenspeed Anura trikes, the idea of cycling every day of 2012 would already be dead in the water (or perhaps it would already be "on ice").  As it was, I had to zig-zag uphill at one point.  Dale had it easier on the trike with 20" rear wheels and studded tires, but mine was running ordinary tires on 16" wheels. 

We weren't very ambitious.  A 2.6 mile ride to the post office to mail a 100th birthday card to Dale's childhood dance teacher and then to the co-op for some groceries was plenty. 

Sunday, January 01, 2012

365 to go

Ten years ago today, a New Year's Day group ride inspired me to try biking every day for a whole year -- an elusive goal that I've never achieved yet. 

Trying to bike in bad weather introduced us to velomobiles, studded tires, lobster gloves, winter biking shoes, and delta trikes.

Our good-weather cycling has expanded to include hundred-mile rides, a 1008-mile cycling vacation, daily commuting by bike, and bike errands all over town.

Now it's time for another attempt to take at least one bike ride every day of the year.  The first day of 2012 brought a layer of ice and fresh snow, with high winds and falling temperatures.  We waited until evening and took a ride around Lake Harriet in the dark, meeting only three pedestrians and no other cyclists -- and no wonder, since the bike path was slick with ice.

One down.  Three-hundred and sixty-five to go.

[The ride -- about three miles, with a Greenspeed Anura trike;  Dale was on a modified Anura with 20" rear wheels fitted with Schwalbe Winter studded tires.]

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tiny Trike Rally

We rode with friends to a local restaurant with sidewalk seating to celebrate having a warm late October day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

50 years -- what a difference!

 A dozen reasons that cycling
year-round and cross-country
is better in 2011 than in 1961

In 1961, when I bought my first bike, cycling in Minneapolis/St. Paul was a summertime recreational activity. In 2011, you can see bikes on our streets and paths at all hours, every day of the year.  Biking is better than ever.  Here are my choices for the top 12 changes of the past 50 years:

1.  Practical bikes: my Dunelt 3-speed bike wasn't geared low enough for Minneapolis hills; it lacked a rack; panniers were unheard of. It did have fenders and a chain guard -- features that vanished from popular bikes for many years after that. Now, several manufacturers and importers offer fully-equipped bikes for all-weather cycling.

2.  Luggage options: racks and panniers carry gear and groceries securely. Waterproof bags are easy to find now. Long-tail bikes and gear trailers handle loads that were impossible to deal with even just 30 years ago. 

3.  Effective lighting: less than ten years ago, I would stop commuting at the end of October and not resume until March or April. It was simply too dark, and the available bike lights were faint, expensive, and unreliable.

4.  Safe routes: miles of bike lanes, bike trails, and bike freeways have given cyclists in Minneapolis (and many other cities) safe and fast routes to popular locations.

5.  Bike parking: I remember riding downtown in the 1960's and having absolutely no place to lock up a bike. Now my employer provides a weather-protected, card-access, secure bike cage closer to the door than any of the employee automotive parking spots. Downtown Minneapolis offers a variety of whimsical, practical, sheltered, secured, and just ordinary bike parking facilities. Grocery stores put bike racks next to their front doors.

6.  All-weather clothing: in 1970, I bought a cycling raincoat in Denmark; it was the last one I saw for sale for the next twenty-five years. I still use it occasionally, but the twenty-first century brought a wide range of cycling clothes for every sort of weather.

7.  Weather radar on the Internet: in 1961, dangerous weather came without much warning. The advent of weather radar on television was an improvement, but the biggest change came with animated weather radar on the Internet. Suddenly, it was possible to see when that 50% chance of rain would hit. You could pick your commuting time to coincide with a big gap in a storm. With smart phones, you could even update your information from the seat of your bike.

8.  Google bike routing:  it's still "beta," but bike routing on mapping programs is a terrific way to find a way from A to B that doesn't require "I" for the Interstate.  Just this week, Google plotted me a route across a freeway using a bike bridge that I'd never noticed before.  (That freeway was new in 1961.)

9.  Studded tires / three-wheelers:  if you've been cycling for more than 50 years, you don't want to be falling over on the ice.  Studded tires for bikes have gone from a do-it-yourself project to a whole rack in the local bike shops.  For those of us who want even more security, three-wheelers now come in sporty versions like my Greenspeed Anura or the Hase Kettwiesel -- perfect for a winter commute or a little ice-bike racing.

10.  Internet cyclist-to-cyclist communication:  bike commuters and tourists can find each other now.  Internet forums, specialty magazines and websites, and social networking sites let us share our enthusiasm, ideas, and interests in ways that we couldn't imagine fifty years ago.  When Copenhagen proposes a network of bike freeways, the news travels instantly to blogs around the world, and I can click-and-brag to the Danes about the ones we have in Minneapolis.  Back in 1970, when I landed in Amsterdam and encountered my first bike freeway, it came as a total surprise.  Good cycling ideas can spread around the world faster than ever. 

11.  Cell phones, especially smart phones:  you can go out for a ride, knowing that you can find your ride partner, call for help in case of a mechanical problem, or make, check, or change reservations while on the road.  With a smart phone, your location can even appear on your ride partner's phone -- or on your blog, if you are doing a ride that would interest your "followers."  What a concept!  I was a fan of science fiction in the 1960's, but this was beyond anything I could imagine.

12.  GPS (and waterproof maps):  if you've ever had a map dissolve in the rain at just the wrong time, you know the value of the waterproof map -- and better yet, the GPS device.  Cycling in Copenhagen in 1970 with a paper tourist map offered none of the carefree enjoyment of riding around the city in 2009 with a Garmin.  You can ride confidently far from your own turf, and you can always find your way back.