Bikes

July 23, 2009

Pacific Pedaling On the Road – Riding in Tucson, AZ

Tucson, AZ - A Bike Friendly town, with the signs to prove it.

Tucson, AZ - A Bike Friendly town, with the signs to prove it.

On the 5th day of our Epic Journey family road trip adventure, before heading off to Van Horn, Texas, I unfolded the Bike Friday and knocked out about 20 miles in Tucson, Arizona. I know from much internet reading that Tucson actually has some great cycling, but with just under 2 hours available, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go in search of much, so I simply headed out the door from our hotel to see what I could see.

Having pulled in late the night before, I really had no idea where we were. Turns out we were just a few blocks from the University of Arizona. In fact, as I was headed out, someone in the parking lot said, “you’ll want to head towards the University for your ride, and not the other direction. It’s a safer neighborhood for your ride.” And so I pointed my wheels that direction and headed out.

As expected, I saw many homes and buildings in typical southwestern flair — in fact, our hotel was just a couple blocks down from the Steinfeld Mansion, which is famous for some Mission Revival style architecture. I only rode by the mansion, but could see the courtyard that is on the “must see” list if you go, and it pretty much looked like a courtyard.

The some-what famous Steinfeld Mansion in Tuscon.

The some-what famous Steinfeld Mansion in Tuscon.

Before long I was in the downtown area, pretty much unsure of where to go, so I just kept riding and found myself on some pretty major thoroughfares. In fact, I spent quite a few miles on one road (pictured above at top of article) that ended up reminding me of Lancaster Drive, here in Salem, where I would never consider riding my bike. But being comforted by the Bike Friendly signs, I knew I could carry on without worry of incident. My first hour or so of riding in Tucson was basically sweating in the just-under 90 degree temps, sucking down morning commute exhaust. The highlight of the ride at that point was when an elderly lady with a dog met me at a corner where I was stopped for a red light and said, “that’s one of them folding bikes, isn’t it.”

A school along the ride...not too shabby, I'd dig going to school there. Well, I'd like the building anyway.

A school along the ride...not too shabby, I'd dig going to school there. Well, I'd like the building anyway.

I reached a turning point and started heading back down the same road I have been on for a while, and finally cut across to what I assumed would eventually lead me to the college and then back to the hotel. On one of the roads I saw a sign that said “3rd Street Bike Crossing,” and when I looked over I saw a big sign that said DO NOT ENTER, with another under it that said BICYCLES EXEMPTED. Apparently this WAS a Bike Friendly town after all, and as if to prove it yet again, there was another Bike Friendly sign across from it.

The 3rd Street Bike Crossing road.

The 3rd Street Bike Crossing road.

And so I was excited to ride on my first Bike-Only road in Tucson, the land where they really did care about cyclists. Where they closed off entire roads to cars and rolled out the red carpet for those on self-propelled two wheeled devices. I turned around on the main road I was on, scooted back to the cross walk, and pushed the magical button that would halt traffic and allow me to cross the road and enter the promised land.

Check it out...are you on a bike? Press here to stop cars and let yourself across!

Check it out...are you on a bike? Press here to stop cars and let yourself across!

And what did I find once I rolled out onto the bicycle road? It sucked. And not just a little, it sucked a lot. Bumpy, broken, and in need of repair. In fact, I’m wondering if the road got so bad for cars, that rather than fix it, they decided to close it, call it a bike route, and get some brownie points. I wanted to take a picture, but I honestly was not sure if I could control the bike if I let go with one hand.  I really thought it was kind of a joke, but then before long I was pulling right up to the University of Arizona, and it never got any better.

Along the bone rattling road I came upon a guy on a longboard being pulled behind a gal on a bike, obviously both on their way to class. I said, “dude this kind of sucks for a longboard, doesn’t it?” To which he said, “it totally sucks.” And there you have it, I rest my case.

The rest of the ride back to the hotel was uneventful, but hot, and before long we were loaded up in the ‘Burb and headed to Van Horn. I stopped in at a local shop and picked up a pump, spare tube, Co2 and inflator. I know Tucson has some good riding, and someday, maybe I’ll get back to actually experience it.

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July 20, 2009

How I Hauled My Bike and Gear Across 23 States This Month

The Suburban with the Stowaway2 on the back.

The Suburban with the Stowaway2 on the back.

Many of you know I was out for three weeks on a cross country trip our family dubbed The Epic Journey. I still have some posts to get up about riding in different states across and back, but I’ve had a bunch of folks ask about traveling with a bike, and wondering how and where the bike was, because they never saw it in the photos we posted. So for everyone who was curious, here’s what I took, and how I took it with me.

In the photo above you can see our Suburban with a large StowAway2 box on the back that our kids lovingly dubbed “the fanny pack.” There were six of us on the trip – 2 adults, 4 kids, (two teenage girls and two younger boys) and each of us were allowed ONE duffel bag, one toiletry bag, and a “carry on bag” of sorts…something you basically kept with you in your seat. In addition, we had some general bags of medical/health stuff, snacks, and pillows and blankets for everyone…all of which filled out the cargo space behind the third row with just enough room to see safely out the back window. We picked up the Stowaway to be able to haul anything additional, which ended up being some auto gear, an additional car seat for our youngest, and then all my bike stuff.

The "fanny pack" with bag of bike gear, additional car seat, assorted big gear, a folded Bike Friday, and some stuff for the Suburban.

The "fanny pack" with bag of bike gear, additional car seat, assorted big gear, a folded Bike Friday, and some stuff for the Suburban.

I considered just throwing a rack on top, and putting one of the bikes up on top, but I didn’t want to be concerned with weather for 22 days, or theft or vandalism everytime we were in a new city, or even forget that I had it up on top and shave it off at some parking garage. The fanny pack seemed like an easier, fairly secure method of being able to take something with me, and it proved to be perfect for our trip.

The Stowaway model we selected had 16 cubic feet of storage, which fit everything you see easily, and could have taken more if I needed to get creative with packing. The swing-away arm allows the entire box to move out of the way of the rear-access to the Suburban with a quick release and lock down mechanism that keep it securely attached during normal operation. It was easy enough for anyone to use, and we got in and out of the back of the Suburban multiple times a day.

For anyone who hasn’t read a previous post about the bike, or seen it folded up, the Bike Friday packs up nicely into a bag that’s not much bigger than a suitcase. Having it ready to go in the fanny pack was much easier than if I’d had it tucked in with all our stuff in the Suburban. Plus, there wouldn’t have been enough room with all our other stuff.

The Bike Friday, folded up in it's carrying case.

The Bike Friday, folded up in it's carrying case.

Folded up, and out of the case.

Folded up, and out of the case.

I carried one bag that had 2 jerseys, 1 pair of shorts, 1 bibshorts, 1 pair of gloves, 3 layers (1 long sleeve, 2 short sleeve,) 3 pairs of socks, 1 pair of shoes, 1 lightweight jacket, 1 rain jacket, 1 front light, 1 blinky light. When I got on the road I realized I had forgotten a pump of any kind! I rode without a pump for the first couple times and finally picked up a full sized pump in Tucson, a spare tube for the BF, and some CO2 and a attachment. Fortunately for me, no problems with flats before then, and nothing afterwards either.

The Bike Friday Sport, assembled and ready for a ride outside of our hotel.

The Bike Friday Sport, assembled and ready for a ride outside of our hotel.

Overall, I really liked having the BF with me as a riding option. It allowed me to keep my legs spinning on a three week trip, rather than return cold after all that time. It was a decent replacement for my normal road bikes, and the bigger tires made it easy to get off of pavement and take a path or gravel road here and there. Halfway through the trip I started picking up some ghost shifting issue that I never really resolved. I tried a few tweaks, but I think I’m just going to let the fellas at Bike Friday give it a look over. Will the BF replace any of my day to day riders? Probably not. Will I take it with me on future camping or vacation trips? Without a doubt, it’s perfect for that.

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June 30, 2009

Greetings from New Orleans!

Our hotel on St. Charles street in New Orleans.

Our hotel on St. Charles street in New Orleans.

I have a few posts to put up about riding in several states across this great country of ours, but we’ve hardly had a minute to breathe, let alone sit and write. However, we have a few quieter days ahead, so I should be able to blog about those soon. Meanwhile, feel free to read about our cross country trip on the little blog we set up for that.

For today, let me just say that the littlest things make me happy. For example, while my kids were all racked out from a long day of driving (complete with a nice chat with the captain of the Washington, Louisiana police force about the speed of my vehicle,) and a late night dinner here in the heart of New Orleans, I hopped on Ira’s site to see what was up. Lo and behold, there’s the phrase I’ve been waiting to read: “Paul’s cross all rounder.”

When I last met Ira, we drew up plans for a sweet cross bike that could also be able to serve double duty as an all around Pacific Northwest type of bike….fenders, racks, etc.  I’m stoked. All these months I’ve been seeing everyone elses name show up on the blog — jealous that they’d soon be riding their sweet custom builds, and today, it looks like we’re just that much closer.

I’m off to have some coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde (you gotta do that in New Orleans, right?) but wanted to update you on the progress of the Ira Ryan build. Too legit now!

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June 24, 2009

Riding in San Jose…well, Morgan Hill anyway

sanjose1

On Sunday morning, I got the chance to put the Bike Friday to it’s first out-of-state test early in the morning in Morgan Hill. As I mentioned before, my plan on the trip is to get up on as many mornings as I can, before everyone else gets up, and put in a quick 15 or 20 miles, fold the bike back up and be ready for the day. I won’t get the chance to do any epic rides, but more of the Tour de Area Around Our Hotels. At least I’m getting the chance to keep my legs spinning.

I was ready for some sunny California riding, but that was not to be had on Sunday. It was a chilly sub-50 degrees when I set out. I almost didn’t bring arm warmers or layers, but I’m really glad I packed everything I thought I might need for all weather occassions. The sun eventually came out, but it never really warmed up to the point of taking any layers off.

The majority of my riding was simply road riding, and rough road riding at that. Next time I think that Salem/Keizer has bad roads, I’ll remember the areas I’ve ridden on vacation and be thankful. In fact at one point, the road was so bad I was thankful that there was an access road off to the side and took the chance to take the BF off-road and get a little psuedo-cross training in.

sanjose2

I didn’t get to spend hours out cranking up hills, but there were definitely some decent little climbs as I circled around the community we were staying in. Many of the great looking hillls all had private access roads leading up to them, so I climbed as much as I could on the public roads I could find, and still enjoyed some great views.

sanjose3

For miles along the driving part of the road trip, my wife kept telling the kids to keep their eyes out for palm trees. And sure enough, once we hit north California, we started seeing them. Along my morning ride I also saw plenty of them, including this really driveway to a home out in the middle of nowhere. I figured they wouldn’t mind me posing my BF in front of their house to prove I was out riding in the chilly California morning sun.

sanjose5

Now, I REALLY expected to see some bike folk out and about. We’re in California, right? Nope, in fact, I went almost an hour without seeing ANY bikes. Finally, I saw a dude out on a Trek who looked like he was heading out to do the same route I just did in reverse. As I rode back through Morgan Hill to the hotel, I was impressed with the size of the bike paths in town. Take a look at these babies:

sanjose4

Seriously, you could park a truck on the right side of that bike path, and still have a bike path twice the normal width to the left. Oh wait, a few blocks up the road, it turns out that’s exactly what they do. Still, a very roomy and comfy bike bath for riding through town. On a final note, the BF seems to be holding up well. I’m and idiot and forgot to bring a pump of any kind, and still don’t have a spare tube for this size of tire, so I’m stoping by a shop in Tucson today (my ride report from the Tucson ride will be up in the next couple days) to hopefully pick up a tube and pump.

Two states travelled, and two wheels down in each state so far! Yeehaw!

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June 17, 2009

PIMP MY ECO-RIDE CONTEST: Win a Strida Folding Bike!

pimpgreenridemain

I’ve been chatting so much about my Bike Friday folding bike for our 3 week trip, that I was excited to see this giveaway for a different brand; a Strida folding bike. It doesn’t take much to win the bike either, you just have to prove that your current bike sucks enough to warrant Inhabitat giving you this new Strida SX. According to their site:

“As the weather gets warmer we’re looking forward to spending plenty of sun-soaked days outdoors – and what better way to take full advantage of the beautiful weather than by breezing along on a slick bicycle? We here at Inhabitat want to encourage the use of the world’s most eco-efficient (and fun) mode of transportation, so we’ve teamed up with our fantastic friends at Areaware to give away a styling brand new STRiDA 5.0 SX Limited folding bike!

All you have to do to win is provide us with photographic evidence of why you need this awesome bicycle – is your current ride a crusty old clunker? Is there a mammoth mountain of steps leading up to your 6th floor walkup apartment? Whatever the case, upload your photos after the jump and leave a comment explaining why we should pimp your eco-ride, and we’ll be selecting one lucky winner to receive this beautiful limited edition Strida bicycle valued at $950!”

I don’t know much about this bike, except for watching this comparison race video a long time ago, but hop on out and get your entry in.

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June 16, 2009

Putting the Bike Friday Through The Paces In and Around Salem

bikefridayloop

We have officially rounded the corner and are into the final stretch before our epic 3 week adventure across the country. Yesterday I was having the AC recharged on our travel vehicle, and had the Bike Friday in the back, so when I dropped off the rig at the dealership, I simply unfolded it, grabbed my messenger bag, helmet and glasses, and headed down town. I remember thinking, “I could keep this thing with me all the time!” I rode from Capitol Chevrolet down to the Beanery downtown, did a little remote work for a couple hours, then headed back when the rig was ready for me. Great set up! More on Putting the Bike Friday Through The Paces In and Around Salem

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June 15, 2009

Bike Hugger Covers Globe Bike Brand Launch

Globe bike launch as seen on Hugger Industries on Flickr.

Globe bike launch as seen on Hugger Industries on Flickr.

Most of the time, my attention is not diverted by the lauch of a new bike, or series of bikes. Most of the time it seems as though one of the majors has just put a new coat of paint on a previous years model, or made such a minor change, that it’s just not that exciting. Don’t get me wrong, I totally geek out over bikes and own more than one man probably should. I’m just not usually all worked up over a new line of bikes.

Over at BikeHugger, they’ve been dropping a bunch of photos and reviewish information on the new Globe line of bikes, and I’ve found myself pokin’ around the photos more than I normally do. The Globe line is Specialized’s new effort into the up and coming ‘urban bikes’ market. I’m sure there are still many purists out there who’ll thumb their noses at these bikes, but I’ve really had a thing for nice front racks, baskets and wood crates. Click on the Bike Hugger links above for a really thorough write up and a whole slew of photos. It’s worth a few minutes of your time if you’re interested in some great city bike photos and info.

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June 11, 2009

Updated: Test Riding The Bike Friday Pocket Sport

Bike Friday Pocket Sport model, on the bike path in Eugene.

Bike Friday Pocket Sport model, on the bike path in Eugene.

Yesterday, I made a decision to tackle the Impending Three Week Dilema head on. We are heading out with our family for a three week, cross-country road trip, hitting a ton of states from Oregon to Georgia and back. I’ve been dreading the three weeks off without any riding, and had just resigned myself to losing the time, as we really didn’t have a ton of room for me to bring a bunch of bike gear on the trip. However, over the past few weeks, my wife has been saying that she really wanted for me to figure a way to get some riding in, and since she was twisting my arm so much…I finally relented. More on Updated: Test Riding The Bike Friday Pocket Sport

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June 9, 2009

Oh Happy Day! I Drew The Golden Ticket!

An Ira Ryan cyclocross bike, in its natural environment.

An Ira Ryan cyclocross bike, in it's natural environment.

I woke up early this morning sometime in the wee hours of the morning and happened to check my iPhone to find the best email I’d seen in a while; my Ira Ryan frame is next in line to be built! Oh Happy Day! I’ll be going up to get all dialed in this week, but I emailed Ira back to say that I’m really thinking I’ll have him build a cyclocross bike, but would love for it to be flexible enough to serve other road/utility duties beyond that. I love Ira’s enthusiam for all things cycling, and of course his response was as expected… More on Oh Happy Day! I Drew The Golden Ticket!

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June 1, 2009

Win A Sweet Madsen Cargo Bike In July

win-a-madsen-lp-header

For the past year, I’ve been telling myself I need some sort of cargo bike. I’d love to ride to work more often, but find myself hauling something that ends up pushing me into the car instead. I’ve looked at building up an Xtracycle for a long time, but these sweet Madsen cargo bikes have really been catching my eye.

So I was thrilled to see that MADSEN Cargo Bikes is running a contest, and giving away two bikes in July. If you’d like more information on how to get in on the action, you can click the little banner below for all the details:

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Now, I personally don’t see myself on a bike with a big ol’ tub on it. I do like that blue, but the tub just isn’t working for me. I’ve liked both the Xtracycles and Yuba’s for their handy dandy rear racks. This black Madsen really seems to be a great version of that same type of bike.

bike_rack_black_largeOf course, I’d probably still have a hard time convincing my cyclophobic 15 year old to hop on the back deck and go for a ride, but maybe if I outfitted it with enough safety harnesses and a power outlet to recharge her phone, I could talk her into it!

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