Close call on the bike ride to work

Nearly got taken out on my ride to work at roundabout/traffic circle. This roundabout has a left turn and carries on straight, and the lane approaching it splits into two. Normally at this roundabout I check behind me and if no one is coming I stay on the outside of the outside lane and carry on straight. This morning I didn’t check over my shoulder and took my usual line and a car overtook me turning left, then ANOTHER one went through, cutting me off and not using a signal.

I raised my arm to complain silently and went straight, but I realized I should have checked over my shoulder and taken the lane. Damn. Lesson learned!

Anyway. Here’s my bike:

There’s not much to it: it’s a Raleigh steel ‘hybrid’ bike that I got for free from some people on Freecycle. Free is good! I’ve had this bike for a couple of years I guess. Hybrids don’t carry much cache with serious bikers because they’re just road frames with mountain bike gearing and handlebar, but this one does the job OK. I’ve got a real road bike but I need to give it a little TLC and change the tires before I take it anywhere. It would be way lighter than this thing!

Anyway, equipment: I’ve changed the handlebar grips to ‘aero’ grips just to try them out but have a set of drop handlebars that will go on there at some point. I just changed the pedals to two-sided pedals with one side for street shoes and one side for clip-in shoes. The fenders are made by SKS but sold by Raliegh, got them off eBay. The rack is a generic thing off eBay and the basket is a wire freezer rack I found at a recycling centre near my old place.  The bottle cage rarely has anything in it, it’s mainly there because I can’t be bothered to take it off. The bag under the seat has a spare tube, basic flip-out tool set and tire levers. The tyres are Schwalbe Marathon Ultras, which are awesome. Good grip and really thick rubber on the contact patch, plus reflective sidewalls.

It’s a 5-minute ride to work (because it’s mostly downhill) and a 7-minute ride home. Not too shabby! I’m sure I’ll continue to bike to work in the winter, it’s such a short ride and I’ve got plenty of lights and warm clothes.

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25 Rules of the Trail: Commandments of Mountain Biking

Got these from mountain.bike198.com, I thought these were pretty good!

  1. Pay It Forward – Tubes, quick-links, a helping hand. You’ll need it one day too.
  2. You brought it out…you bring it home – No one likes a litterbug. Keep the trail clean.
  3. Know your role – Fast climber? Get up front. Slow descender? Get in the back.
  4. Bike worth does not equal biking ability – Everyone loves the latest and greatest…but it doesn’t increase skill.
  5. Be Self Sufficient – Always bring what you need…and sometimes more.
  6. Know Basic Bike Maintenance – Be able to fix your own flat…
  7. Treat Other Riders Like You Would Want To Be Treated – No one likes a jackass.
  8. It’s Only A Race If The Other Participants Know They Are Participating – You didn’t beat your friend on the climb if you are the only one that knew it was a race.
  9. If A Rider Catches You…It Doesn’t Mean They Want You To Ride Faster – Move to the side and let the rider by. Also see #3.
  10. Music While Riding Is Great…Unless You Are Oblivious – If you are going to wear earphones while riding, check around you constantly for other riders.
  11. Know Your Abilities – Don’t get too far over your head.
  12. Just Because You Can’t Ride It…Doesn’t Mean Others Can’t – Mountain biking should be a progression. Not all trails can be wide and groomed.
  13. You Have Zero Room To Bitch If You Didn’t Work On The Trail – Try not to be a backseat driver to trail work.
  14. There Is No Cure For UGI – Upgradeitius is a serious disease for which there is no cure.
  15. Beware Of Rider Recommendations – The best bike for a friend may not be the best bike for you. Everyone thinks they are on the best mountain bike on the market.
  16. Don’t Be “That Guy” – You know the one…the guy that brags about his time on local loops and doesn’t ride anywhere else. Enjoy your ride…it isn’t a contest.
  17. In Shape Does Not Equal Technical Ability – You are in shape…awesome…but that does not make you a better rider. It just makes you able to ride longer.
  18. Riding Keeps You Young – Yes…that guy that is twice your age will still drop you.
  19. No One Looks Good In Lycra…Especially Mountain Bikers – Bring a change of clothes…lycra is not “going out” wear.
  20. Mexican Food Is The Perfect After Ride Meal – Don’t know why…it just is.
  21. Diversity Is A Good Thing – Different bikes, different styles, different personalities. It would be dreadfully boring if we were all the same.
  22. Any Holiday Is An Excuse To Ride – Why are we riding today? Because today ends in a y.
  23. Support Those That Support You – Support your local IMBA and local advocacy chapters. They do more than just work on trails.
  24. Online Superstars Type More Than Ride – Time worrying about online arguments is time you could spend on the bike.
  25. Riding Is The Best Therapy – Self explanatory…

linky

Had a run on Saturday, then mountain biking last night

I started up mountain biking last night after a winter layover (my poor bike…the last time it was ridden was when I put it away before November sometime, and I didn’t even wash it!). Notice how it was cold and wet? Yeah…that was how it was on the trail – then toss in ankle-deep mud in inky blackness and it was VERY difficult to stay upright most of the time.

Surprisingly my legs aren’t as tired as they were on Sunday (I ran a few miles Saturday morning) so I guess I’m sorta used to it already, which is cool.

I’m going to use the biking as training for the marathon, so I’m counting it as my Monday run, then I’ll run Wednesday mornings or Thursday nights (I’m busy most Wednesday nights) and then run again on Saturdays.

A walk through the Netherlands (well, a couple of cities)

I just came back from a weekend in the Netherlands (not biking around, I took the train and walked mostly), and I got a bunch of bike-related pictures that may be especially relevant for bike commuters:

These are the only bike pictures that weren’t ruined by a faulty CMOS sensor, but the rest of the photos are here: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/frank…rkTripToHolland

The Dutch guys I hung around with told me that the laws in Holland are such that if a car hits a bike rider, the driver is at fault 90% of the time. Harsh (this applies even if the cyclist has no lights, is riding drunk, in the middle of the street, etc.), but it makes the drivers very careful around cyclists. And I saw a lot of riding that would seem really risky (not looking both ways before merging, etc.).

Possibly the coolest thing I saw was a little kid sitting on the back of his mom’s bike, having an in-depth conversation with his slightly older brother, who was riding his own small BMX-style bike. That, and lots of very young kids sitting in seats behind the handlebar and a windscreen.

The bikes are mostly single-speed I guess, so you could see folks really pushing to get over the crest of a bridge or hill. I walked a few miles from the hotel to the train station before I left and walked past at least 3 or 4 bikes that were totally unlocked, anyone could have taken them – then I hit the suburbs and there were just dozens of bikes at bike racks on every corner, and half of them were unlocked. One or two that were locked at each rack had some sort of sticker tag on them, I’m assuming it was something like ‘this bike has been here for years, remove it or we’ll take it away’.

The bikes that I saw locked up were mostly leaned against a house or against a lamp post, even just on their kickstand, and a simple chain went through the front wheel and frame. I guess there are SO MANY bikes they figure if someone wanted to go through the trouble to pick up your locked bike and carry it off, it’s just easier to find a bike that isn’t locked and actually ride off on it. Granted, all the unlocked bikes and the bikes in the public racks that I saw were rusted either slightly or totally (I saw one guy riding a bike with just a light housing on the front – no lens or bulb at all) – all the ‘good’ bikes the freds rode are kept inside, I guess.

I really want to do a summer bike tour through there though – Holland, Belgium, etc. It’s just so relaxed, nearly everyone speaks English, and they’re all so nice.

I did see several freds there, some in full TdF style gear, but the vast majority were on these relaxed Dutch style bikes.