Thursday, December 31, 2009

Riding Out the Year

Last year on this day I rode almost 60 miles on a bicycle. This year, not so much. This year temps were in the 40s and it was raining. I only rode 19. I rode on my new (Christmas) bicycle, a 2009 Schwinn Cutter.

The thing about the Cutter is that it is a single speed bike. All my other bikes have multiple speeds. If I need to climb a hill with those other bikes, I shift to a lower gear. To climb a hill on the Cutter I need to stand up on the pedals and mash my way up. Here's a map of my route today:

Yeah, the weather sucked, but the ride was pretty good. I was properly dressed (including some new wool gloves I picked up this morning for half price at Macy's). Also, the first part of my ride was into the wind, but downhill; the return trip was mostly uphill but at least the wind was at my back.

This "smiley face" elevation profile is typical for my ride since I live on high ground and usually ride toward the river. I rode on the Trinity River Trail for part of the ride. It was pretty much deserted.

I took some pictures at the low water crossing over the Trinity River.

Did I mention what a gray, desolate day it was?

Still, it felt great to get some miles in. Of course on the way home I stopped at The City Cyclist, where the staff was hanging out. Mike gave my Cutter a tuneup; when my wife picked it up before Christmas he didn't really have time to properly set it up.

The 19 miles I traveled today was the most I've put on the Cutter in one day. Riding a single speed bike takes a lot more out of me than any of my geared bikes.

Tonight we are going to a New Years Eve party. I hope everyone has a good evening and....


Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Just a couple posts ago, I was thinking my bike commuting days where through. My commute got more than twice as long and my knee was giving me trouble. Then my wife flummoxed me by buying me a new, unexpected and totally impractical single speed bike for Christmas.

I've used my break between Christmas and New Years to get to know the bike and take a few shortish rides on it. Being a single speed, I have to pedal at different tempos according to what kind of incline or decline I'm on, plus I need to get my butt out of the saddle occasionally to pound up a hill or accelerate from a stop. I think this was giving me a good workout and perhaps the varied pace helped my knee toughen up. But still, it was sore when I got home.

Until tonight. Tonight's ride was still shortish, about 10 miles, but when I pulled into the driveway my knee was totally pain-free. In fact the way it felt, I think I could have done another 5 miles without a problem. I was getting pretty discouraged about riding, but this single speed is curing me of that. Riding is fun again.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

It's a good thing that my wife understands this.

On my Christmas list, I had put a number of items, mostly tools for working on my bikes. My stretch gift, the one I never dreamed I get, was a single speed Schwinn Cutter that I'd been admiring at the bike shop. I figured I'd get some or all of the tools and that was it.

Instead, Mrs. Doohickie started at the other end of the list and got me the Cutter. I was in shock. I thought there must be some mistake. After all, I needed to work on the bikes I've got, I don't, ummm... errrrr... Wow. A new bike! My first new bike in 25 years!

Once I suspended all operations in the practical portion of my brain I realized this was the best present I could have gotten. Getting tools would have meant more work. This present is nothing but fun.

So far I've taken the bike out for only a short ride around the block, but it helped me rediscover something I was starting to forget about cycling: IT'S FUN!

On my geared bikes, when I spin out at the top of a gear, it's time to shift to a higher gear and pedal harder, only to top that out and upshift again, until I'm maxed out, working at peak efficiency, man and machine at maximum output.

Riding a single speed is different: You have to work hard in the beginning for a couple of strokes, then you're up to speed and can really accelerate. But eventually you run out of gear and..... WHEEEEE! It's time to coast! Multi-speed bikes are very businesslike and efficient; single-speeds are fun, even childish. Like I said...


I have a little time off work. That will give my knee time to heal. Eventually I'll start my new 16 mile commute. I'll work all that out. In the meantime, it's time to have some fun on a bike.

Thanks to Mrs. Doohickie for starting at the other end of the list. I never expected that.

UPDATE (Dec 27): The bike came with a set of decals in several styles. I used the same style Schwinn shows in the Schwinn Catalog: Traditional block letters spelling SCHWINN on the downtube, and the model name on the top tube. I think the bike looks pretty sporty with this livery.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Scenes

I will start my post about Christmas by presenting a picture of the tackiest house on our street. No, it's not ours.

'Round here, we do a Christmas pageant at our church. This year I reprised my role as Cow #2 (in this pageant, the cows tell the story). Here are a couple pics from the rehearsal. First, one of the wise men:

Then the baby Jesus, along with his mom and dad as Mary and Joseph. For the actual pageant they cleverly disguised big brother as a donkey.

The actual pageant went off okay, despite the fact that Cow #2 was blinded by the spotlight that was the star above the manger and couldn't read some of his lines. (Thanks to Cow #1 for the help!)

We belong a church, but attend that church and two others kind of regularly. Our friend Betsy preaches at a small church and we heard her sermon based on the charge the Angel Gabriel gave to the heavenly host before they went to honor the birth of the Christ child. She really got into her role, wings and all.

Finally it was Christmas Eve. Shortly after we awoke, the snow started. Our thermometer said it was too warm for snow, but the snow disagreed. Either way, the weather stick pointing down always means nasty weather.

The plan for Christmas Eve was to go to church at the Episcopal Church where our son sings in the choir (they hire a few college students). Then we would go to church at the Presbyterian congregation where we are members.

As we drove to the first stop, we marveled at the snow that was falling. This might be our first White Christmas in Fort Worth in many years.

As we walked into the church, we saw this snow was getting serious.

The drive home was treacherous. My son lost control at one point and skidded across a couple lanes. Luckily no other cars got involved.

So once we got home, we decided to stay. Services at the church we belong to were canceled on account of the weather, and that was fine with us. The snow seems to be over, but the wind is still whipping around pretty good.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas. And stay warm!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Depressing...

I'm changing jobs. Instead of 7 miles, my commute is now 16.

My knee hurts, especially when riding distance.

Is this the end of my bicycle commuting?

I hope not.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Worst Breakfast Ride EVAR.

Although the crowd was small- there were only five of us- the ride to breakfast was fine. The weather wasn't even too bad despite the cold temperatures; I think all of us were properly attired. Breakfast was fine. I rode with the group back to where they get on the trail and instead of riding back to the starting point with them I set off on my own to ride home.

The first couple miles were fine, but then my left knee started to hurt. No biggie, I thought, I've felt a little pain in my knees before and just rode through it. But this time it got worse and worse and worse. I actually had to stop a few times to get off the bike; at that point I was having muscle spasms in my leg. The up-hills were the worst. I considered calling the wife and sagging home, but pressed on.

Then the achy knee started to get downright painful. When I rested the knee it was hard to put weight on it. Still, I thought I could make it home. I was getting close- about a mile out- and then it happened: the rear tire went flat. I noticed it in the median of of a road.


From there I just got off the *@$##& bike and walked the rest of the way home, knee hurting, rim bouncing on every little bump.

I made it home in one piece. I popped some Advil and crashed for a couple hours. The knee's been sore but not very painful after that. Since I'm transitioning job sites and going back and forth, I'm not bicycle commuting right now. Hopefully the rest will let the knee heal.

I think the cause might be some adjustments I made to the bike; I think I may have been hyper-extending the knee on the downstroke. So I lowered my seat a little bit but I still haven't fixed the flat. Maybe over the holidays I'll feel like dealing with it.