Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Even More Improbable Physics

The Rowdy Teen And His Well-Behaved Basketball

via Atom Eyes at Metachat

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lots of Routes to Commute

About the time I think I know my way around, I discover a new route to work. I took some pictures Friday on my first time using this particular route to get to work. The first part of the route is always the same. I ride down my street

Then have to stare down the traffic at the end of it. A sizable gap always materializes.

After a block on the busy street, I turn into the Albertson's parking lot.

I worked a short day Friday so I wasn't in a big hurry to get to work. I had time to stop at Sonic for breakfast

Hmmmm.... what am I in the mood for this morning?

The girl brings out my food...

...I load up The Great Pumpkin...

...and I'm on my way

I turned off the main road into the neighborhood, still following my usual path.

But then I turned left... same neighborhood, different route. One thing I like about Fort Worth is how they take creeks and turn the land on either side into little parks.

I cut through the neighborhood until the next busy street, Hulen.

At this point, I'm glad I rode my steel-rimmed Varsity because it trips the light sensor without me having to go over and push the Walk button. =D

After crossing Hulen, the neighborhood is much the same, but there is a bit of an odd feature: A series of high tension lines on large towers bisects the neighborhood.

I pop out onto another road considered to be hazardous by riders, but it's not as bad as people say. Granbury Road has a 45 mph speed limit and people often do faster than that, but the right lane is very wide, leaving lots of room to pass. In this picture taken over my shoulder you can see another cyclist behind me. I was kind of hoping he would catch up to me, but either he didn't turn where I did or just never caught up to me. You can also see where the power lines cross Granbury.

I turn right off Granbury and cut through the next neighborhood of mostly apartments...

...and this rather striking church.

And finally come out on Oakmont. This is another street that most cyclists avoid... at least this stretch. It's two lanes in each direction, 40 mph speed limit, and one of those streets that people tend to speed on. The one thing about Oakmont, though, is that it carries much less traffic than it is designed for, and really doesn't have many businesses along it. As a result, even when I take the lane I don't get hassled.

Oakmont crosses Bryant Irvin next. Bryant Irvin is still a road that's on my "do not ride" list. Much of its length is covered with urban sprawl retail and there is a lot of turning traffic.

But once you get past that, Oakmont is very sparse indeed; almost no traffic.

What's better is that there is a steep decline that's a blast. (This is the same ridge that Hooters Hill crosses in this post showing another route I use.)

On the way to work, it's all downhill. But looking back up the hill it's a little intimidating; when I ride it the other way, I call it The Oakmonster.

On breakfast rides, we either go up The Oakmonster or take a longer, less steep route. Most people take the latter.

Anyway, back to my commute. At the bottom of The Oakmonster I turn right onto Bellaire. It is a very genteel street that is the spine of a well-to-do neighborhood. It's also, I think, the longest section of the Trinity River Trail that isn't right on the banks of the river. It has nice bike lanes on both sides, and there is enough bike traffic along the route that people actually know to look out for bikes. I know lots of people consider bike lanes hazardous, but here they work well. Another nice thing about this route is that there are lots of trees for shade along this route, and often there is a cool breeze that blows up from the river which is just the other side of the trees.

That route brings me to within a few blocks of my office, and that's it; I'm there. (Sorry, no pics of the end; my camera's battery died.)

The Main Event

A little late, but what the heck....

So our youngest graduated from high school this month. It was crazy trying to get to the end of the semester and get everything done in time for our out of town visitors- my mom (Nana) and Mrs. Doohickie's parents (Grandma and Grandpa).

When the big day came, my son was ready to go. Here he is with Nana in the background as we were leaving.

Considering the class of '09 was 500 strong, they were pretty efficient with keeping things moving along.

Once everyone was seated, they sang the national anthem.

The anthem was sung by the senior choir members including our son. He's the tall guy in the back row.

After the speeches they started the production line to recognize the graduates. They didn't actually get their diplomas at graduation; this whole thing was just for show.

Mrs. Doohickie was impressed with the metal our son got...

...until she read it. I think it said, "The wisest man in all of Oz" ;- )

Time for the family portraits: Me, the graduate, Mrs. Doohickie and my older son

The graduate with Grandpa and Grandma

And a picture with Nana

One chapter closes and another begins. This past week, he went to freshman orientation at Texas Wesleyan University where he'll be going in the fall.

Friday, June 26, 2009

This News Just In:

Abe Vigoda is alive

(I thought you might want to know.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Schwinn Varsity Tourist Maiden Voyage

A few posts back I talked about taking the drop bars off my Schwinn Varsity and replacing them with Tourist bars. I finished the task last night and rode the bike to work this morning. Here's The Great Pumpkin outside my front door before going to work.

You wouldn't think putting upright bars on a bike would make a big difference in the way the bike rides, but it is a totally different ride. In an earlier post I said, "There is something crude and primal about this bike. It rubs, it squeeks, it doesn't like to stop. Riding this bike is like holding a tiger by the tail." Not anymore. In the upright position I feel much more in control.

It also feels perfectly comfortable to ride this bike slowly. It just doesn't beg to be hammered anymore; it is truly a cruiser. It rides smoothly, but it just doesn't need speed to feel like it's doing its job.

After work I took one of my slightly longer hot weather routes home. This route takes me down the Trinity River Trail, then through a shady neighborhood for much of the ride home. It was 100 degrees today, but with the Slow Bicycle mentality this ride inspires, I savored the ride home. I stopped on some of the low water crossing dams to take a few pics. This is the crossing near Southwest Boulevard.

Back on the bike,

I came upon some guys fishing by the Bryant Irvin bridge.

Smooth sailing. You can see that summer is upon us; the grass is beginning to die off. :(

Then it was time to cross back to the south side of the river at the crossing just west of Hulen Street.

I planned to take pictures along the whole route home but my cell phone battery died. My route home went south on Overton Park East and Inwood through the Tanglewood neighborhood. Then I jogged over to Hildring which crosses under I-20 but over the I-20 access road which means no traffic to worry about. This leads to the Wedgwood neighborhood, then Candleridge, and I'm pretty much home.

Like I said, the Varsity Tourist is a nice cruising bike that doesn't like to be hurried. The route is probably 10-12 miles, and it took me at least an hour to get home. But when I got there, I was still relatively fresh considering I had just ridden that distance in 100 degree temperatures. The Varsity is a different kind of a bike. Different is good.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Space Invaders!

Somehow, this is not what I pictured when I played the game.

Maybe I should have.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some Recognition

It's funny when you find out that a web site you don't even know exists makes mention of your blog. This happened to me today. I was reading the roundup in Texbiker.net and there it is:
Beginning Bicycle Commuting blog from Fort Worth | Austin On Two Wheels
by marcus
One of the Texas blogs I’ve been following a while but haven’t put up on our blogroll yet is Beginning Bicycle Commuting. BBC (nice initials there, buddy) is a. …
So apparently "marcus" at Austin On Two Wheels is reading this blog.

Hi Marcus!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

One year anniversary...

Yep so it's been a year since I started riding as a consistent habit, granted at times it hasn't been very consistent but well my intentions are always ther (mostly...lol). So let's see what I've achieved in the last year...

>I could hardly make it up Clairemont Mesa Bl, in either direction. Now it's nothing (provided I'm warmed up...).

>I rode up Torrey Pines once on the Kona SS and thought I was going to kill myself doing so, now I do it regularly on the LeMond. It still kicks my butt somewhat, but I'm huffing and puffing less and gaining perseverance.

>I used to think that 15 mph and a 80 or 90 rpm cadence were impressive. OK I'm still not the fastest thing on 2 wheels, but I can crank out 100 rpms and 25 mph for a bit without much effort.

>10 miles was a major undertaking, but after I inadvertently rode a metric century (67 miles) because I rode 15 plus miles to and from the 26 mile sponsored ride, 10 miles is nothing.

>I still haven't cracked 40 mph, but then I'm not in any hurry so 37 is the top measured speed so far and I can average 30-33 down Torrey Pines without cinching up my butt too much.

>I have improved my pedal stroke, now I can feel a more consistent, smooth circular motion when I keep focused on my job.

>I can fix a lot of the parts on the bike (except threaded head sets...) and feel comfortable tearing into anything on it, tho I've yet to work on the derailleurs.

> My blood pressure is normal again and my weight is down, I can also slip into a size 29!

Well that about sums it up on accomplishments over the past year. Now to the next year:

> I had planned on trying a full century (100 miles) this past year and several nice rides came and went because of lack of planning and decent training for the ride. So I plan on doing one this year, if not a full 100 miler, than a 67 metric on a moderately difficult course.

> Another bike, or maybe make over the LeMond with new paint and some new bars and stem. I might even spring for a new chain...

> Keep on working on my pedaling to get smooth and powerful, not so much for racing or such, but for endurance and efficiency.

>Work on commuting more. I have done some in the past year, but things either get in the way or I am just not up to getting up at 4 to leave at 5 and make it to work by 6:15 and then spool on home at 4:30 for an hour. But gas is again hovering at $3 a gallon. I am planning on a day or two this week of commuting.

So to the next 12 months! Cheers!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Schwinn Varsity Tourist

I have a 1973 Schwinn Varsity Sport as a backup commuter bike. I like it, but it's about one frame size too small and the handlebars are a little lower than I like, especially for riding around in traffic.

I know there was no such thing as a Schwinn Varsity Tourist in 1973, but the difference between a Collegiate Sport and a Collegiate Tourist was the upright handlebars. So a Varsity Tourist would be the same thing as a Collegiate Tourist, only with 10 speeds. (Maybe that makes it a Suburban, but the frame says Varsity!)

Anyway, I've been thinking about putting upright handlebars on my Varsity and started on the task tonight. First I had to clean up the donor bars from a nasty Huffy I picked up on CL. I used the "green" method (inspired by Beany and Thom and Shelly- thanks all!) to remove the rust using lemon juice and aluminum foil to scrub:

Handlebars before:

and after (I actually cleaned up the handlebars a little more but forgot to take pics of the final version):

Stem before:

and after:

It's not perfect but I'm happy with the results. It's pretty amazing how well the lemon juice eats away the rust. On big, smooth surfaces like the handlebars, it was nearly effortless. The details on the stem were a little more difficult; it just took a little elbow grease.

Here's a shot of the bike from a few weeks ago to show what it looked like before I started:

and what it looks like now:

It's not done; I need to put the new brake levers on and route the cables. But this gives an idea of what the Varsity Tourist will look like.