Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Twenty

Saw Billy on the elevator this morning. We both agreed that the recent deluge was a good reason not to ride.

I've been feeling guilty because I feel like I should be taking the bike, even in the rain. I mean, rain isn't as bad as snow, right? On the trolley home today, I saw the Dave the Triathlete taking the trolley, and I didn't feel so bad.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Sixteen

This week my work schedule has kept me from bicycling. I did however make it to work today on my two wheels. On the way home, I got a flat as I was approaching the South Street Bridge. I ended up walking the last mile and a half. Time to buy a pump.

Total Estimated Mileage: 5.5 miles on bike, 1.5 on foot

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Ten

One thing I like about having a bike is ability to run quick errands. This week I was able to make a quick trip on my bike to Old City to pick up my anniversary gift to my wife, get some coffee at Old City Coffee and then run by Neon Video to get a movie.

The gift was a commissioned picture by Ted Slampyak. The image is copyrighted, so don't go stealing it! It is supposed to reflect our time here in Philly. Anyone recognize the statue? Coffee is our lifeblood, and the Free Library Philadelphia has not been able to help us with the second disk of season five of our favorite cable show. I was able to do this all in a fraction of the time that it would have on foot.

Total Estimated Mileage: 10 miles

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Friday, June 16, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Nine

I think I'm supposed to be posting some thought over at

I don't see a lot of activity. Maybe I'll post something referring people here. This comic encapsulates my wife's thinking about my online journal.

I met the third bicyclist in the building, Jefferson, who works for NARA. He clued me in that the is a shower in the building, in Room B30. With the summer heat coming up, both Billy and I were pleased with this.

Total Estimated Mileage: 7 miles

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Eight

I am beginning to set milestones in my mind. I can tell you that it's fifteen minutes to the Schuylkill River at the South Street Bridge travelling either way.

It was a pretty good ride today. I'm going to have to weigh myself to see if I've lost weight this week. That would be nice. Someone said that this was a good time of year to ride. As we approach the solstice, I won't need a light - yet.

My daughter was feeling housebound, so I asked her to walk the bike around the corner to a neighbor and get the back tire filled. She was disapointed when I told here she couldn't ride it ... a tire pump is on the shopping list.

Total Estimated Mileage: 7 miles

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Seven

No bike today. I can't get everywhere I need to go on my bike. I was stopped by my landlord yesterday on the way to work. He rides to work in Center City all the time. He gave a me a list of equipment that I should get if I wanted to survive in the city. How come this free bike is costing me so much? ;-)

I had lunch with a Cedar Park neighbor and fellow Center City building tenant, Bill. He and I were trading bicycle war stories. I wasn't actually comforted by his belief that one should prepare for their first accident, because it was bound to happen.

The last time I owned a bike that I rode regularly was in the late eighties, so it's been more than sixteen years. I used to ride with my friend Katrine, or one of several assorted friends. My friend Jeff and I rode down to the beach a couple of times from Irvine just for the fun of it. Well, actually Jeff was training to ride across China in 1986.

One reason I stopped riding was because I got taken out by a Winnebago on PCH while riding through Laguna Beach. I think we were heading to the Sawdust Festival. I got knocked by the passenger side mirror of the Winnebago. I ended up landing on the trunk of a sedan, and my bike was never the same.

The thought that I'm going to get hit again isn't comforting. I told this to Leland and he doesn't agree that someone should expect to get into an accident. Billy also rides from my neighborhood, so it’s interesting to hear his perspective – we also agree that having near death experiences while exercising causes one to react differently than if they were in a zen state. I’m definitely going to try and keep the testosterone down and the eyes open.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Six

This morning, I saw the article about Ben Roethlisberger’s helmetless crash. It makes you think – what a fool.

blinq had a bunch of great quotes. One of them was by PB’ers Chiefsalsa. Normally, Harry is FOS, but I had to agree with him on this one!

You have a gift. You can make a fantastic living and gain financial security for your grandchildren by playing a game. You are adored by millions. You can use your celebrity for great things. Drive a BMW and do not speed up on yellow lights.
What resonates about this whole thing for me is the number of BMoD's (Bike Messengers of Death) I see without helmets. I can't believe that anyone would ride a bike in the city and not where one. Now, don't get me wrong, I never wore one as a kid, but we weren't expected to.

That darn tire seems to keep losing air. I've had the bike less than a week I guess I’m going to have to fix a flat. Today it was down Baltimore to 42nd, turned north to Spruce, down Spruce to 22nd, turned north to pine and down Pine. I like this route, though with all the trolley tacks at 42nd and Baltimore I think I will avoid turning there again. That’s an accident waiting to happen.

Total Estimated Mileage: 7 miles

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Monday, June 12, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Five

Today was my first day riding to work. I just realized that I’ll need to add a bicycle pump onto my list of purchases. The back tire was riding a little low, I suspect that the house monkeys may have had something to do with it. The only gas station on my route is at 45th & Baltimore. Unfortunately I didn’t have any quarters, so I headed off to work and hoped for the best.

One of challenges I have been facing is trying to find the best route – and everyone has an opinion. For the morning commute I rode up 45th Street, hung a left on Chestnut and rode until I reached 9th Street. I don’t think this route is going to work for me. Not only was the traffic heavy, but I didn’t catch a single green light and had to stop at every other block.

Going down Chestnut also places me right in the carpool lane, supposedly sharing it only with the buses, hah. I got honked at several times. I noticed that the taxi drivers steered clear of me, and that the people who whizzed by the fastest were the divers from Joizy. I’m trying to enjoy the view as I cycle, but am concerned that while sight seeing I’m going to be taken out by one of the drivers. I did see my friends Carmen and Jon walking to work this morning (I think they have a mile-long stroll.

Outside my building, someone from the bike shop that built my bike called out, “Hey Biketown!” He then told me that my back tire was flat. :- When I got to my office, I was told by the guards that I had to take the bike down to the rack in the basement. There is a building policy that forbids us bringing the bikes up to our office, but since the only elevator to the basement was out of order, I had to ride around to the side of the building and be escorted by the building manager down the service elevator.

It took me thirty minutes to ride to work d2d, and ten minutes to secure the bike in the building. The heat wasn’t too bad today; I wonder what the ride will be like during the heat of the summer.

On the way back home I rode up Spruce Street, over the South Street Bridge. When I got to 38th, I cut south and went west on Chester. I avoided the killer hill at 43rd. Maybe because I wasn’t overloaded, but there were no stops today to catch my breath (I forgot to mention that last Thursday I was praying for stop lights on the last third of my trip).

This morning, I place my bike outside our door while my wife was in the shower. She didn't realize I was biking to work - and is still afraid that I’m going to get myself killed on the Streets of Philadelphia. She looked genuinely relieved to see me get home in one piece.
Total Estimated Mileage: 7 miles

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Four

My bicycle is great, however small children seem not to be entirely cooperative in my effort to ride. This was a busy weekend, and I spent a lot of time with the boys and their bikes – that takes a lot of effort!

There was a flea market at Clark Park, where I saw a child carrier available for $50. It would have been great, but my recently installed baskets were placed right where the clamp for the carrier would go.

I did take some time to look over the Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver's Manual. It makes some interesting reading. I don’t feel quite as chafed.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day Two

After my near misses yesterday, I am checking out the Urban Cycling Course at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day One

Got the bike!

Today's Scoreboard

Bad Weather
Equipment Issue
Good Fun
Lifestyle Change
Near Misses
Weakness of the Flesh
Money Spent
Total estimated mileage

4.5 miles


Today was the day to pick up my new bike. Pretty darn exciting. Fortunately, I was able to go over to City Hall during my lunchtime to attend the ceremonies. I contacted Neighborhood Bike Works earlier in the week. I told them that I would wear their shirt and make sure it got as much exposure as I could give it. As you can see from the picture above, I look like a moving billboard. My new bike is an orange and white Fuji Charleston, three speed.

The ceremony itself was pretty simple and straightforward. They had some speakers, then let us line up to get our helmets, bags of goodies, locks and bikes. Lipton is a major sponsor, so they were giving out free samples, and Subaru was there as well. Subaru was also promoting the City to Shore MS fundraiser. If I can build my stamina up to 75 miles, I might want to take them up on the offer to ride with them. There was a lot of local press, I wonder if I got on anywhere? I don't think I'll be using the spandex shirt they gave me.

Anyway, there is no real place to park the bike at my office, I've heard that some people store them in the basement, and that no one uses the outside racks. We'll just have to see what happens when I start bringing the bike on a regular basis. After work,, I went over to the bike shop that built the bikes for the event. I realized that if I didn't want to kill myself I would have to get a rack and some sidebags. The bike shop was pleased to see me, and they could tell who built the bike by the way the been had been placed - so much for everyone getting the same bike!

As I was riding up Walnut Street a young woman passed me by on a
Raleigh ten-speed. The same model and color of my father's bike from 35 years ago. Hers was in mint condition, and she said that someone had just given it to her. Looking at it, I realized that all things I hated about it as a kid (fenders, handlebars, etc) are what I was looking for as an adult in a bike. I guess my dad had some good insight!

My wife is worried about me being an urban cyclist, and doesn't want to become a widow - with good reason. Getting my newly purchased equipment home was a challenge. Kind of ironic - but I thought about taking a cab home just so I wouldn't kill myself on the way home. I also was introduced to that very special brand of person - the Philly Driver. I had one person yell at me because he was stuck behind me on a street with slow moving traffic. He zoomed past me at one point, and then we kept seeing each other for the next five blocks. Around Rittenhouse Square, I had some jerkwad in a beat up old Pontiac cut me off as he made a right-hand turn from the second lane, all the while laughing about what he was doing with his wife and kids. One of the kids gave me the bird as they passed. Philly, the city that loves you back.

My new bike is a three speed, and this became an issue as I crossed the South Street bridge. Well, maybe it's my lack of conditioning. Never let anyone tell you Philadelphia is flat. I made it home in one piece. There is some disagreement in my family about the color, is it orange, is it bronze ... I might have to call Fuji. I spent the better part of the evening installing the new equipment, and now it looks like a much tougher bike. My kids are really curious about it, and have knocked it over a couple of times. I need to find a better place to store it. I'll think about that tomorrow.

When I was younger, I used to have a 50 mile butt. I have to fine tune the seat, because after four miles my body to seat interface is feeling rather chafed. I was going to ride the bike in to work tomorrow, but there are afternoon storms predicted. I'm taking the trolley!

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries

My Bicycle Diaries

So, tomorrow I go to pick up my new bicycle. I'm pretty excited by the opportunity. When I left California in 1993, I left behind my car and my bicycle. I always meant to get a new bike, but somehow my transient lifestyle, proximity to mass transit and frequent moves never led me in that direction. I have never missed not owning a car, but have always missed my bicycle.

My eldest son just got his first bicycle, something I may have to write about another time. I almost picked up a brand new bike at a garage sale, something I may have to write about another time. It seems that bikes keep crossing my path.Leland Mayne

My neighbor Leland is a big bicycle advocate. Actually, he's more than an advocate, he's more of a evangelist. Leland is the president of the non-profit Neighborhood Bike Works. He and I have several conversations over the last five years about why I should get a bicycle, and while I agreed with him, there was just too many other things that commanded my money.

Recently, he clued me into a promotion being held by Bicycling Magazine. The promotion is called Biketown, and I had to write a fifty word essay about how a bike would change my life. I got word last week that I had been selected to receive a new Fuji Charleston.

One of the requirements is that I track my usage of the bike, so for the next couple of months I will log some of my thoughts here. I think I will also have to make a contribution to NBW to keep the good karma flowing.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Blog Day 2006

I'm going to do it ...

Blog Day 2006

... because link whoring by yourself looks tacky.

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