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Clearly, the State of the Blog is quite debilitated, and has been since before the turn of the year.

Last October, when I quit my job, I ceased to be bike-commuter, and became merely a rider. Obviously, the blog suffered.

In Jaunary, I got a new job, complete with a laughably trivial bike commute (barely more than four miles on Falls Road, round trip), and there’s just not much to write about. (Truth be told, not much really happened on the way between Towson and Bolton Hill, either!) The primary blog topics, for a town this size, are well-saturated. I would get crushed if I tried to compete with Baltimore Spokes for scoops on local cycling news. NBBB covers the “city bike plan” beat as well as anyone can, and there’s already at least a couple of local blogs working the “bikez-n” schtick. Also, I’m not one to shut down a good ride, just to take a picture, so photoblogging is out.

What to do, then?

Fortunately, I’ve come up with a new after-work riding plan, so miles are no longer a problem. I can actually get myself into a 100-mile-week pace, if I so choose. (Not that I ever kept such up for long, in the first place.) Since I’m no longer commuting, I’m not locked into one route. I can ride into the county, uptown, downtown, just about anywhere, really. Now that I can cover more territory, I have faith that our wacky little burg-by-the-bay will yield a vignette or two, every so often.

So, I’m just going to keep riding, and if something interesting happens during my next thousand miles, you’ll see it here!

Up Next (Eventually): The Missing Post; Beer Reports; RB-2 Reality Check.

Your host finishing up the last five miles on PCH.

Finally!

I racked up my 1000th mile of roadwork in December 2009, riding north from Encinitas, California on Pacific Coast Highway. I was on an old Murray mountain bike (no suspension) that my brother-in-law pulled out of his closet for the express purpose of helping me get to my goal. (Steverino, you get the final 1000-Mile Big Ups award for 2009! Thanks again, man.) It was definitely a great way to finish up, pedaling along on a nice, wide bike lane, stopping a couple of times to watch the waves caress the sandy beach.

Before that, the last time I was on the RB-2 was in mid-November riding from Lake Avenue to Fort McHenry, with just five miles to go before reaching 1000 miles. All I had to do was make it to the fort, turn around, and ride home, and I would have been all done. I have taken to calling this run “Lake-to-Fort ride.” It’s a good run that’s great for racking up a nice 20-mile chunk of city biking. Anyway, as luck would have it, my chain skipped off (again), right at the bridge on Fort Avenue, just before I was about to turn around at the fort. I stopped to fix it, only to find that my cassette a bit off-kilter. Slightly nonplussed, I jiggled the cassette a bit, and it came loose from my hub, spilling bearings all over the street. I didn’t know how to , so I stood there talking to the locals and fellow cyclists who had come over to see if I was OK. All this, with five miles to go! Frustrating.

In any event, I was fortunate to get a chance to salvage the thousand-mile mission in California, and now it’s time to figure out what comes next. A few weeks ago, I stated a new job in Hampden, just a couple of miles from my place. I’ll be biking to work all winter, because two miles is too far to walk, yet too close to drive or take he bus. I’ve switched over to the 2001 Gary Fisher hardtail MTB and it’s been going pretty well. But where are next thousand miles going to come from? What is there to shoot for? Not sure yet,  but I’ve got some vague ideas about after-work miles, and getting ready for some of the organized group rides later in the year.

For now, I guess I’ll just worry about keeping warm on the ride to work.

UP NEXT: State of the Blog Address! More Photos! Hack-a-Rack! Beer Reports!

Image Cred: Pamela Flowers

Still here, still riding!

See ya!

Lots to talk about, but not much time to talk about it!

Some quick bullets now, details and photos later:

  • Broke some spokes.
  • Got some lights!
  • Finally stopped by BBW for spoke replacement and had a good experience. The BBW tech was excellent compared to REI tech.
  • Quit my job, no more 20-mile commutes every weekday.
  • Checked out drivetrain replacements: Shimano 105 group is $650! Tiagra is about $400. Craigslist to the rescue?
  • Managed 60 miles riding, last week. Only 30 miles to go! I have an interview tomorrow, then it’s back on the road.
  • While riding home from Fed Hill, I ran (rode?) across the Hopkins Cycling blogger, turns out he’s this guy!

Good talk, people. Gotta go!

Image cred: SlipperyBrick

From the article:

“A 47-year-old Glen Burnie man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after he was struck by a car while bicycling Sunday night on Crain Highway, an Anne Arundel County police spokesman said.”

Naturally, the article insinuates that the cyclist may have been at fault for the collision. Of course, we cannot surmise anything about the culpability of the driver, since he illegally left the scene of the accident.

Great week of biking (60 miles in 3 days) until I was “shut down” the by rain on Thursday and Friday. Frustrated by another short week, and nervous about reaching my 1000-mile goal before the weather really gets bad, I took another hard look at converting my 2001 Gary Fisher Wahoo (I have the gunmetal-and-blue color scheme) into a rainbike, so I can ride during the rainy days. I found several problems with doing this:

1) I would need to buy fenders and tires. Knobby mountain tires won’t do on wet roads, because there is less tire meeting the pavement.

2) Installing road tires on my mountain bike means re-installing the knobbies, every time I want to hit a trail on the weekends. No thanks! So, to avoid that inconvenience, I would want to buy a separate set of rims for the road tires, and just switch between wheelsets for trailriding and commuting. Of course, this would be a pretty significant (and unplanned) cash outlay. I was determined to avoid breaking the bank for this 1000-mile journey. In fact, I am still grinding away on my Bridgestone’s 20-year-old Shimano Biopace/Sport LX drivetrain, because I don’t see the point in replacing major components right before stowing the bike away for winter.

3) Even if I did blow the cash on a separate road wheelset  for the Fisher, the chainrings aren’t big enough for road riding. I’d have to coast down every hill (and halfway up the next) in the highest gear to avoid spastically spinning during most of the commute.

There’s no way I am buying fenders, wheels, tires, and a new chainring, just to be able to commute every day for the next several weeks. So, the Wahoo remains in trail configuration. What about my regular commuter, the Bridgestone RB-2 racer? It doesn’t have eyelets for fenders (or a rack, for that matter), and I don’t want to damage my headset and bottom bracket by regularly rainbiking it without a front fender. No rain duty for the road bike.

So, what’s the solution? Well, I have 160 miles to go, which is only eight days of round-trip bike commuting. I’m going to pick my spots and commute on the (mostly) dry days that come our way. If I’m still short of the goal in November, then I’ll just have to bust out the windbreaker and keep riding.

Image cred: Commute By Bike.

Yep, last week was caaaaaash money. After several weeks of disappointing effort, I got after it and cranked out a hundred miles. The weather was great (just had to battle a bit of wind), my bike held together (except for one broken spoke), and I was able to ride my full 20-mile daily commute for five days straight, which is a personal best. I felt a little more tired than usual on Friday night, but it was worth it.

I really love riding in fall, but I have had to switch up my schedule due to seasonal changes in daylight hours and the schools starting back up. I quickly learned that I need to be on the road by 7AM to avoid the parents dropping off their kids at the schools on Roland Avenue in the city, and on Dumbarton Road in the county. (Believe me, people, it’s no fun competing for bike lane space with freaked-out Corporate Dad who is tardy in delivering his little Buffy to Roland Park Country School, and he wants to pull that BMW over RIGHT NOW.) Then there’s the Towson University traffic on Osler Drive, where you’re just hoping the kids are awake while driving. My previous start time of 730AM just wasn’t working, I was hitting major traffic volume in all three places. Now, if I know I can’t make it out by 7AM, I just wait until 8AM, and it’s all good.

I am shooting for another 100 miles, this week, which would get me to just under 900 total miles. Hopefully, the rain will stay away, and I can finish up the whole thing, this month.

Actually, I think I rode Monday and Tuesday, but since I can’t remember, I am only taking credit for Tuesday.

On to this week, which is going much better than last. I finally cleared 700 total miles a couple of days ago, and I already have 50 miles logged for the week. Something pretty cool happened yesterday, on my commute home. Some guy on a newish Trek road bike pulls up next to me at the red light at Cold Spring and Roland Ave. I’m thinking, “Oh man, another carbon-framer is going to drop me.” (These guys always pull up next to me on their 14-pound carbon racers, staring dead-ahead in scowling silence, even after I greet them with a “Hey, dude.” Then they take off like a bat out of hell at the green light.) Instead, this guy returned my greeting, and we ended up chatting about bikes and Baltimore neighborhoods all the way to Hampden.

Good talk, Hopkins Guy. If there were more like you, the Baltimore bicycling scene would truly be more of a community.

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