Monday, March 30, 2009

Many Thanks to Dottie Let's Go Ride a Bike. In the linked post, she talks a black-tie event she attended with Mr. Dottie at a vintage furniture showroom. One of the pics she took was this one:

I liked it so much I decided to use it for my header (with Dottie's permission of course). Thanks!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Commuting in Barcelona, 1908

...and it's just that easy.

The soundtrack music is pretty nice too.

via various at MetaFilter

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Meditation on Two Bikes

Getting back on my Nishiki hybrid now that my recalled Shimano cranks have been replaced has been interesting. Of my 3 daily riders it is the most modern (only 15 years old) with cantilever brakes and indexed shifting. I'm always in the right gear, or if not I'm just a click away, which is awesome. Everything is just sooooo smooth on it with it being so new. (Although it is 15 years old, it has very few miles on it.)

My biggest complaint was the flat handlebar, which I replaced with an Origin8 Space Bar.

Between the shifting, the upright position, and how smooth it runs, it is a great commuter and handles traffic well. I can accelerate quickly, I can see and be seen.

The downside is that the bike has 21 gears, all of them low. Coming down Hooters Hill in the morning, I do the eggbeater thing with the pedals and the most I've managed is 38 mph. If I had taller gearing I could really fly; it might even be worth it to put drop bars on it. Still, I'm very happy with it.

The 1983 Raleigh Marathon I was riding most days while waiting for the Nishiki to get new cranks was a good performer, especially considering I got it out of a dumpster. The last few days I commuted with it, though, there was a click in the bottom bracket that got progressively worse. I repacked the bearings on it and it seems to be riding better around the neighborhood, but I really need to take it on a longer run to be sure. A breakfast ride would be good to wring it out and make sure the bottom bracket is all better.

It was the first time I rebuilt a bottom bracket, but with Sheldon Brown's help and Big Oak's example, it was pretty easy. That leaves only the headset on this bike to be repacked; I did the hubs a while ago.

The Marathon rides well. It has the feel of an organic, living thing (as opposed to the Nishiki's technical exactness). It's an analog device in a digital world. I have to dial in the friction shifters after finding the gear. Yet, there is art to the bike. It is something that becomes an extension of me, rather than an appliance I ride. And this is the only bike I can remember owning where the drop bars feel natural. Maybe it's just that I've tinkered with it and fit it to myself better than other drop bar bikes I've ridden. But when I find the right gear and I get down in the drops, it feels like I can ride forever.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The City Cyclist

During my Friday ramblings on my Raleigh DL-1 Tourist, my last stop was at my favorite LBS (local bike shop), the City Cyclist. They have been more than helpful to me and I highly recommend them, even though I have yet to buy a bike from them.

They recently moved into a larger shop.

Even though they're in a bigger space, they did a great job of keeping the intimate feel of their smaller digs. The shop is run by Debbie (shown with hubby Larry),

Mike (who's at good at making coffee as he is at fixing bikes),

And T-Ann.

How many bike shops do you know that have a nice "living room"...

...with a view of their bike repair area?

The City Cyclist does a great job of putting out a quality line of bikes at reasonable prices. If you're a bike snob, you might not find the brands you're looking for. But if you want to get a good deal on a solid bike, this place offers some great choices. They also have a bigger selection of recumbent bikes than any store I know of around here.

They also have a good selection of accessories, especially the kind that bicycle commuters need to make their bikes comfortable, safe, and able to haul what you need to and from the office. Since they've moved into the bigger store, their selection has grown and they now offer a good selection of bicycle clothing as well.

These last two pics are from the day of the Grand Re-Opening. They give you a feel for the rest of the store.

When I was there last Friday, my two bicycling worlds converged. Into the City Cyclist walked a gentleman with a bike he wanted them to look at and get running. It was a beautiful vintage Schwinn, a 1978 Continental II. Basically, it just needed a spoke replaced, the rims trued, and the drivetrain cleaned. The owner said he had it in his garage for 30 years. The paint on the bike was pretty much perfect.

Mike and the bike's owner give it a good examination.

Next time you're cruising on McCart Avenue in Fort Worth, look for City Cyclist.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taking the Lane

This is the best instruction I've seen regarding when to "take the lane" with a bicycle, and how to do it. In this video, taking the lane is referred to as controlling the lane.

I wanted to put together a post explaining all these rules and techniques, but this short video says it all, and more effectively than I could.

Demonstrated by League of American Bicyclists certified riders. "Just remember that cyclists fare best when they act, and are treated, as drivers of vehicles." Lots of other good videos available at InnerTube.

Friday Ride- Continued

My last blog post left off near the Colonial Country Club and Fort Worth Zoo. From there I rode into the area near Texas Christian University (it's really just a short ride). I kind of meandered around the back side of the university, where there are some awesome homes.

The views of the university when you come in the back way are less spectacular.

I got over to the TCU Bookstore and my destination just beyond.

In the strip mall next to the bookstore are several businesses. Among them is Colonel's Bicycles, a very popular local bike shop.

But that wasn't my destination this time. It was lunch time and I was hungry so I stopped into one of my favorite eateries: Buffalo Brothers, a place in the style of a classic Buffalo, NY, tavern.

It was after then lunch rush so they didn't mind that I brought The Old Gentleman in and stored him in the corner.

Being from Buffalo myself, I really like the place.

I ordered the Friday special, a fish fry. Sorry, I have no pictures of that. I was so hungry I forgot! If you go there, I also recommend getting the combo of 4 chicken wings, a slice of pizza and a drink. This truly is a happy meal, because you can get the special with either a soft drink or a beer! The fried bologna sub is pretty good too.

After lunch it was back on the bike. I wandered south and eventually got to Bluebonnet Circle, a traffic circle near the south end of University Drive. It has several restaurants and night spots around it, including Mellow Mushroom Pizza (which I haven't been to yet but I've heard is pretty good)...

...and Ocean Rock, which I have been to, and it is very good.

Proceeding southwest out of the circle on Park Ridge Boulevard, then South Hills Avenue, I come to this sign.

This is one of the things, in my opinion, that makes Fort Worth bike friendly. There are huge multi-laned streets running through the major retail districts that are none too bike friendly. But there are also neighborhood feeder routes like Trail Lake that run for several miles at a stretch with fairly light traffic. From the TCU area I can ride on neighborhood roads like Trail Lake, Westcreek and Vega to get most of the way home, and only have short stretches on the major thoroughfares. A lot of these streets run by city parks so the view is qute scenic. So my ride home looks kind of like this.

This is a two-lane street, one lane in each direction, but notice how wide the shoulder is in my direction. Plenty of room to coexist with car traffic.

Coming south on Westcreek, just past the I-20 underpass, is one of the most discouraging sights of my ride:

This hill doesn't look like much, and it really isn't too bad, but it lies on one of my homebound routes. So a lot of the time when I get to this point, I'm near the end of a ride and feeling a little tired, and I have to ride up this hill. It kicks my butt every time. It's a short hill, though, and one I get up it, the road is wide and flat again.

I made one more stop before getting home, but that will have to wait until my next post.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Celebrity Status

Friday was an enjoyable day with The Old Gentleman. It was supposed to be a day off but I ended up going into work for about half a day. After work I rode my bike on the Trinity River Trail. Here's my ugly mug...

...and a Doohickie's Eye View of The Old Gentleman.

I paused to take a few pictures and as I stopped someone else stopped with me. It was Ron (aka lutemake3 on BikeForums).

He had seen pictures I posted of me and The Old Gentleman and recognized us, so he decided to stop and say hi when I pulled off the trail. He likes to take a ride during lunch. He has a very sweet 1972 Gitane TdF with some nice mods, including a twin headlight setup (with dynohub), classic saddle bag and nice fenders.

If people you don't know recognize you when you're out and about, does that make you a celebrity? If so, I guess maybe I better start watching out for the paparazzi!

Anyway, I had pulled over to take a few pictures of The Old Gentleman, my 1966 Raleigh DL-1, so here they are.

The bike is sporting new Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tires I bought from Flying Pigeon LA. They were a decent price and Flying Pigeon was great to deal with.

The Trinity River has several branches that wind through Fort Worth. Because of flooding in the 1940s, the Army Corps of Engineers did some work on the river channel. A byproduct of the work was a gravel road that runs along the river. It didn't take much to cover the coarse gravel with crushed gravel to make a bike and jogging trail. On some sections they added a second paved trail which is very nice for cycling. In these pics you can see the two trails.

It's hard to believe this is in the middle of one of the larger cities in the U.S. The view above is a view from the Rogers Street Bridge looking west. On the north bank is the Trinity Trail. On the south bank, behind the trees, is the Colonial Country Club, a very swanky club and home to the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial golf tournament. If you peek around the trees you can see the golfers at the Colonial.

Looking east from Rogers, you can see the University Drive bridge.

For a Friday early afternoon, there was a lot of traffic on University Drive. A short ride down Rogers led to this:

I went over one of the guys helping to park cars and asked what was going on and he said that it was parking for the Zoo. I didn't know it, but Spring Break is a big week for the Fort Worth Zoo. In fact, this past Wednesday (every Wednesday is half-off day), they set the all-time Fort Worth Zoo attendance record (with a 1/3 more attendance than the old record). I suppose it's a combination of Spring Break, nice weather, and the bad economy- a lot of parents had the day off, too.

I took some more pictures Friday, but they will have to wait for my next blog entry.