Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It is a glorious day!

A little hay fever notwithstanding, today is certainly the nicest of the year so far. I have a meeting at Babson, so t've biked from home and will change beforehand. I made very good time on this lovely day, so I've got about an hour to spare. Which i'm spending in the park and doing emails. Ah!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Big week, mileage-wise

Last week I set out to ride 100 miles. It turned out to be a less-than-ambitious goal, since I topped 110 after just 4 days riding in to work. It was nice having a goal, though, and I ended up making extra time in the morning to do an extra loop here and there. I also added an extra mile or so on the way home by coming up the bike path to Park Ave instead of the direct route.

Then on Sunday, I did another 55 in a gorgeous early morning ride. I followed a Rubel map out to Shelbourn and back. It was particularly tiring for some reason (maybe because I'd already done 110 miles that week?), but also the most beautiful ride I've done recently. Wild turkey count: 1. Giant coyote count: 1.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Close call on Park Ave

I was cruising down Park Ave this morning at a little after 6, and a large van from "Eddy's Bakery Products" started to cross in front of me. I'm sure the guy saw me (I was a reasonable distance away from that intersection when he pulled out), and I did my best to catch his eye. He pulled out anyway, of course, and slowly crossed in front of me, causing me to slam on the brakes to avoid running right into the side of the van at 25mph. I was in control the whole time, but it was very annoying nevertheless. So this morning at 9:30, I called and left a message at the Arlington company with my name and phone number, and details of the almost-incident.

Update: The owner (I believe) left me a message toward the end of the day with a sincere apology, letting me know that he'd speak to the driver.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Christiania all fit for Spring

As mechanically disinclined as I am, i'm all the more clueless when it comes to the inner workings of my Christiania trike. Not that it's so terribly complex, but I haven't had disc brakes before, and what goes on underneath is a bit of a mystery.

And since when just about every journey I do with it involves riding up and down hugely steep hills with all of my children inside, I figure it's a good idea to keep it in good shape.

I agreed with Dave at Broadway Bike that I should bring it in for a quick once-over to see if we needed to order any parts, so yesterday, that's just what I did.

I dropped Gem off at school on the way, which is always fun. Then I rode on to Cambridge . I wanted to avoid the rough pacing around Porter Square but largely failed at that, then I ended up in a giant traffic jam on Oxford Street, approaching Harvard. Turns out there was a chemical spill of some sort so there was a huge turnout of emergency vehicles in every direction. And what I sometimes forget about the trike is that its width essentially relegates me to waiting with the queues of cars since I can't squeeze between.

Still, the 10 mile journey to work took only about an hour, not bad considering the various delays.

On my way home, I stopped at the Broadway Bicycle School and spent about 20 mins and 10 dollars with Dave. He declared the Christiania to be in great shape and only ended up adjusting the disc brakes so they're a more even.

The next service will be in a 3 months or so, when the chain might need replacing or tensioninh, and the brake pads might need to be replaced. To that end, I've emailed Andrea at Velorution in London to see who makes the brakes, and how I can get replacement pads.

In the meantime, it's about time we started enjoying the Springtime, and the Christiania will play a big part in that.

Update: I've heard back from Velorution that the brakes are made by Winzip - . A terrible brand name, but it's apparently popular as an OEM component.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More Bobike Kudos

When I took Elsie out on the Bobike Mini last weekend, I was approached by a guy who badly wants something similar for his own bike and his small daughter. Of course, I told him all about it and suggested that he Google for a US supplier. (I really do need to carry cards with me when I go out with the Bobike or the Christiania!).

And coincidentally, I got another nice message about my Bobike article today, with a question tacked on to the end:
You have a fantastic page on the Bobike and your daughter looks so sweet! I remember when we went out the first time with our youngest on the front in the Bobike Mini and our middle daughter was behind me! I could barely squeeze in between them! Our youngest has now sadly grown out of the Mini and is in a Hamax behind me; the middle one goes behind my husband and our eldest proudly whizzes around on her Princess bike!

I wonder if you can help me with a silly thing – I still have the mounting bracket on my handlebar for the Bobike mini as we cannot remember how we put it on! I’ve lost the little box with the instruction leaflet and we just cannot work it out.
And my reply:

Removing the bracket is pretty straightforward, but it's awkward without the tool that comes with the seat. There are two hex nuts that need to be unscrewed to release the two halves of the mounting bracket. The bolts are more or less perpendicular to the stem. The best thing to use to get them off is the barrel-shaped wrench that comes with the seat; otherwise, use a standard wrench, but be prepared to turn in tiny increments. That's all there is to it!

The Boston Globe: Good News & Bad News

There were two articles in the Sunday Globe about cycling in Boston - one good, one perfectly atrocious.

The first was part of what appears to be a regular column (though I couldn't find it last week) called Shifting Gears. Based on the couple columns they've published so far, I'm enthusiastic. It's well-written and reasonably insightful, focusing on local policy and advocacy issues while still managing to appeal to a non-cycling (or, in many cases in this town anti-cycling) readership. This Sunday's column focused on Nicole Freedman, who is heading up the bike program for the City of Boston. It also mentions one of her first initiatives, the mapping program that uses Google Maps, which I contributed to when it was launched.

On the other hand, there was the piece in the Business section called On the trail of a good recreational bike. This was an insipid bit of fluff that really did nothing more than state that there are many choices for a recreational bike. It's unfocused and confused, a real hodgepodge of the quotes that the correspondent collected from his interviews. It starts by saying that you can spend as little as $100 on a new bike, and ends with a recommendation that a prospective buyer consider the appearance of a new bike. What really amazed me about this article was the 2 inches of white space after the last column. When is the last time anybody saw white space in a newspaper? This tells me that the corresponedent couldn't dredge up anything else to say, which is all the more surprising considering the paucity of actual information conveyed in what was published.

Nevertheless, I'm bolstered by the new Shifting Gears column and I eagerly look forward to the next one, whenever it might appear.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

First really lovely day

Despite forecasts of incessant rain all day, it got to be very nice this afternoon, sunny and in the 50s! Elsie and I went for a nice ride down to the playground at Spy Pond, then all the way back up the bike path to Arlington Heights. It's only the second time she's been on the Bobike Mini, and she really loved it! She held the handlebars right next to my hands when she wasn't ringing her bell. Very sweet!

The other interesting development today was a couple free second-hand bikes I picked up, thanks to a posting on the Arlington List and Kim's keen eye. I got a strange early-80s Diamond Back mountain bike. It has a chunky steel frame, high handlebars, and 12 speeds with friction (not indexed) thumb shifters. I pumped up the tires and it seems to be in pretty good shape! What'll I do with it? Who knows, but it's free! Also got a little Gary Fisher bike for Gem (I guess) with training wheels, which will have to come off: I don't want her learning on a bike with them.