September 10, 2009

Brushing Up On The Rules Of The Road For Cyclists

An illustration from the Oregon DMV Bike Manual....worth a read if you haven't ever looked at it, or haven't looked at it lately.

An illustration from the Oregon DMV Bike Manual....worth a read if you haven't ever looked at it, or haven't looked at it lately.

My commute to work is fairly short…about 5 miles round trip, and mostly through residential until a short section which I call the gauntlet, but that’s fodder for another post. Yesterday I had to head just South of town to Bush Park, and realized I would have to cross a section of Commercial street I hate, down at Mission Street. There are 3-4 lanes down there, leading to a blind spot hill with a stop light right over the hill. In addition to the blind spot hill just before the light, the road bends a bit, and then traffic can go straight, left, or right at that intersection. It’s nasty and if you ask other cyclists, has a reputation for being dangerous.

As I headed up Commercial I decided I would turn left one street earlier, on Leslie, so I checked traffic, which was clear and started crossing lanes. Before you get to Leslie, a left turn lane appears and 3 lanes become 4, and I was just about to move into that last lane from the 3 lane on the left hand side, when a car came along side me in the lane and went by at a slower speed and gave me some helpful advice.

The gentleman in the sedan slowed down so he could squeeze by me on the right (I had already started shifting left in my lane and was on the left edge, so I could get one more lane over) and as he went by, and a little close for comfort I might add, he shot his arm out and pointed over the roof of his car as if to say “get over on the right side of the road buddy.” I wanted to yell out something, even a sarcastic “thank you” or something, but then for a minute questioned my own understanding of bicycle rules of the road. So I got home and looked it up. Turns out, I was doing everything fine.

Take a look at the photo above…that’s me in the illustration above, well not really me, but that’s what I was doing. Now, it might have seemed, because I was moving over yet one more lane, that I was hanging to the left of the lane I was in, but I was actually headed toward the last lane in the road. At any rate, I’ll be sure to ‘take the lane’ more obviously next time, and yet, I’m sure I’ll still have plenty of folks trying to help me understand my place in the world as a bike commuter.

Need the skinny on the rules of the road? Download the Oregon DMV Bike manual from their site.

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September 3, 2009

The Dangers Of Commuting By Bike


I know, you were expecting to come in and see me all road rashed up, weren’t you. Sorry to disappoint! I got back to the office after lunch, felt like something was in my helmet (actually felt that way for about a mile or so) and ran my hand through my hair to have this little fella fall out! I’m really surprised he didn’t sting my head or my hand.

On a more positive note, two co-workers joined the team and had their first commutes of the month today. Great job Deanna and John!

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September 2, 2009

Day 1 – Bike Commute Challenge and Some Tips

Conrad's front wheel...flat on his first day of commuting.

Conrad's front wheel...flat on his first day of commuting.

I won’t update every day this month about the Bike Commute Challenge, but wanted to post about the happenings of the first day, and encourage as many folks to get out and ride this month, but also to help others ride where you can. My commute is not that long, just about 5 miles round trip, but I tend to talk myself out of riding because of other meetings, or gear that I need or like to take with me. I figuring out ways to make all that happen this month on my bike…perhaps even beyond the month. At any rate, the first day of the challenge left me with three things I thought would be worth noting in helping others to ride to work.

1. Let The Information Flow! – A friend of mine was considering riding a bike to work, but had no idea what he needed. “I guess I need a commuter bike, tell me about what I need.” Turns out, he had a perfectly good commuter bike already – my old Trek Navigator, (my full review here) which has a rear rack and everything. Only problem is that his wife has decided she loves riding it, and so it’s not available for his everyday use. After a lengthy email about good options for a commuter, and how I would ditch the shock for a rigid fork anyway, he ended up at the local shop, picking up another Navigator, in a different color.

Although he chose a bike that wasn’t on my top list for a commuter bike, I was happy to go round and round with the information on what could or would make a good commuter bike. I started out by telling him that he already had a great commuter bike in the Trek, BUT if he was going to look at a new bike (and who doesn’t love looking at new bikes!) I could give him some options. Turns out, that while I prefer the efficiency of a rigid fork for commuting, his back prefers the softer ride of the shock. Makes sense to me. At any rate, share as much info as you have with other people interested in riding!

2. Be Prepared to Help Out! – I typically take just enough to save my butt on the road because I hate carrying around a ton of stuff. A tube, a patch, some air of some sort, my cell phone. I’m good to go. I was just headed out the door to a 9 am meeting when my buddy Conrad called and said he had a flat tire on his bike, on his first day of the Challenge. Conrad lives further away from work than I do, and has hills and busy bridge to get across, so I’m stoked that he’s giving bike commuting a shot. I tried to remember what he was riding and thought he was on a mountain bike, so I grabbed a spare tube from my supply rack, some additional air, and tire tools, and threw them in my bag for the ride in. Turns out that he was on 26″ wheels, but using more of a road tire than the ginormous tube I had, but my office was just a block from the coffee shop where we met. I had a patch kit in my office, so we walked back there, found the hole in the tube, patched it up, and sent him on his way.

Later that day Conrad posted this picture with the caption, "Off to lunch at Ventis." Warms my heart.

Later that day Conrad posted this picture with the caption, "Off to lunch at Ventis." Warms my heart.

I also sent him out the door with some CO2 and an inflator just in case the patch didn’t hold. Although I can’t carry a tube for every occasion, it made me think I should try to carry some extras, especially during this month when there could be more folks needing a hand.

3. If You Can, Loan Out a Bike! – Nearly everyone I know that really gets into cycling, has more than one bike hanging in the garage. I’ve actually been thinking about clearing house a little, but am kind of glad that I haven’t quite yet because as it turns out, I think they’ll come in handy this month. In fact, one of my buddies at work said “I’d ride, but my brother took back the bike I was using. If you had one to loan me, I’d do the challenge.” DONE!

So today I’ll be dusting off the old Redline 925, and making sure it’s in tip top shape so he can ride to work this month! Do what you can to provide information, help out where you can, and even loan someone a bike if it will help them get out and ride! See you on the road!

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June 5, 2009

Commuting By Bike Through Monsoons and Tornados

Editors Note: Yesterday as I was driving just South of town, with disco-ball style lightning in the sky, and wind and rain buffeting my vehicle, the thought occurred to me…”what if I was on my bike right now?” Well, contributer Tina Brubaker was, of course. And lived to tell about it.

I am 100% certain that the world would be 40% happier if 20% more people rode a bike to work. These figures cannot be substantiated with anything other than smiles and are base solely on my personal observations.

I’ve been ruminating over a commuting piece for some time now, but have lacked that ONE thing that has been able to push me from thinking about it, to typing it. Yesterday, while at work, I heard the push. SEVERE WEATHER WARNING. It was on the radio, the internet, coming out of customers mouths. While the masses are in a panic about this, I’m am slipping into my Sidi’s and helmet in great anticipation of my ride home.

Tina on a normal, non-monsoon work day.

Tina on a normal, non-monsoon work day.

My love for the forces of nature are deep and I’ve always had a John Muir-like love for the elements, much like you can read about here,  so the very utterance of the words ‘Extreme Weather Conditions’ elevates my blood pressure and puts a wry smile on my face. The sky goes from sunny to dark grey in a matter of minutes as I start to pedal home.

It’s hot out and sprinkling and smells like rain. The sky is black to the north were I’m headed, this makes my already ear to ear smile even bigger. About a mile out of downtown it hits. The wind is all over the place, but mostly at my back. The rain comes down hard, and loud. I hit stop lights and notice people in cars are staring at me in my soaked tank top and skirt and smiling or laughing. I keep pedaling to the next stop light, all the while feeling pretty euphoric about my current state of affairs. At this point, the streets are like rivers and the rain is pouring out of the sky like that of a hose nozzle being sprayed in your face from about 10 feet away. And it’s so WARM, it’s crazy!

I’m cautiously manuevering through the flooded streets and smiling, all the while casually watching the people, in their cars, watching me. Besides a lot of smiles, I got a few thumbs ups, a couple “Yeah’s” and an “awesome” from some teen-ager in a truck, but the best of all was a comment made by a well dressed woman driving a mini-van. She drove up next to me as we were both going about 10mph and rolled her passenger window down and yelled “I’m so jealous!”…and I knew she was. I also know for sure, based on the smiles I saw in that storm, that she wasn’t the only driver who felt that way.

The Veloforma as an all-season, tornado-tackling commuter bike.

The Veloforma as an all-season, tornado-tackling commuter bike. Yep, that's standing water, darn near up to the hub.

I finally made it to the bike route, out of traffic, where I was able to think about how great it was that I was soaked to the bone, on my bike and smiling about it! And this is where it occured to me, as it always does at some point on any ride, that going anywhere by bike IS awesome! And this in only ONE of the endless commuting stories of Epic adventure I am sharing. Calm, beautiful night rides home, taking the ‘long way’ on those perfect sunny days, tailwinds that make you feel like you’re not even pedaling. Even the completely average, uneventful rides still leave you feeling good. Every day offers something unique and different, but there is still the comfort and familiarity of the bike – you get to feel it ALL from behind the handlebars and I wouldn’t trade them for a steering wheel anyday*.

It’s raining quietly this morning as I get ready to head out and it seems almost negligible after yesterday’s monsoon, but I still think I’m gonna wear a raincoat today.

(*see me about this statement in January, after a few months of typical Oregon ’34 deg and rain’ days. I might just be eating my words)
If you haven’t commuted by bike yet, you’re missing out! Tina also sent along these other photos of the great things she typically gets to see on a ride into work. Part of the beauty of getting to work on two wheels is just that….seeing the beauty:
A nice wide open field in North Keizer.

A nice wide open field in North Keizer.

Another shot on a peaceful morning ride to work.

Another shot on a peaceful morning ride to work.

And the beauty of Robert Fox! Robert is involved with the Willamette Valley Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Breakfast on Bikes, Salem Bicycle Club, and too many bike-centric things to mention. He's a dang fast rider too!

And the beauty of Robert Fox! Robert is involved with the Willamette Valley Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Breakfast on Bikes, Salem Bicycle Club, and too many bike-centric things to mention. He's a dang fast rider too!

To learn more about cycling in Salem, commuting by bike, bike safety or just about anything else, checkout the BTA’s website, or hop over to the Breakfast on Bikes blog, which provides so much local information, it’s scary!

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May 26, 2009

If You Can Pick It Up – Listen to KPAM Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday May 27, tune into KPAM on your AM dial, at the 860 notch. My buddy Tori, from Gracie’s Wrench will be on the air with Bob Miller talking about one of the courses she’s instructing these days. I got this email from Tori today:

“Breaking news….I was just contacted by KPAM (860am) to be interviewed by Bob Miller about our Everyday Cycling Coaching that we offer in conjunction with River City Bicycles.  Please listen in a few minutes after 8am if you get the opportunity! Thanks, Tori.”

By the way, if you need any consulting or training in just about anything bike related, commuting oriented, or anything else around the world of two wheels…check out Tori’s site at

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January 23, 2009

Winner In The Bicycle Design Contest

The winning new commuter bike design at Bicycle Design.

The winning new commuter bike design at Bicycle Design.

Late in 2008, I asked what would get more people out riding in 2009. Bicycle Design took it one step further and put on a contest to get the creative juices flowing from people who make be able to make it a reality. This week they announced the winner, and while I agree that this is one of the more innovative designs in the bunch, and the designer got quite a bit right, I’m still not 100% sold on the concept.

My biggest concern is for new riders who haven’t been on a bike before, getting them into a recumbent, or semi-recumbent position is going to be a big hurdle. It definitely can be spun as the most like a car ride position, but I think the low to the ground position would make many shy away. Don’t get me wrong, I’d ride one in a heartbeat if someone gave it to me, but I don’t know how many others I could convince to get ‘low and mean,’ ala Big Wheel style.

Be sure to catch all the discussion about the selection process at BicycleDesign, it’s really interesting.

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January 21, 2009

Scenes From The Morning Route

I won’t ramble on, the clouds were doing all kinds of whispy crazy things this morning. Saturations pumped to show off the clouds – click for larger.




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January 9, 2009

Finally Friday: The Sun Is Out!

Wow, the sun is peeking through, and it’s not snowing, hailing, raining, sleeting, freezing rain, freezing fog, black ice, or any other kind of arctic blast to mess with! Aside from some possible showers Saturday or Sunday, we’re looking at a string of really nice days. I’m gettin’ out!

Some good things to read if you haven’t already caught them:

  1. Heidi paints the perfect picture of how exactly much life the wind can suck right out of you.
  2. Bicycle Design has finally posted the finalists in the Commuter BIke Design Contest. Some comments over there about how a couple aren’t that ground-breaking, but honestly, if the contest was about getting more people commuting, I’m not sure designing bikes to look like eyelash curlers is the ticket.
  3. Since I may not live to blog again after picking up a WeThePeople BMX bike to kick around with my 11-year old son, here’s a cool video of Lilian Conry on his WTP.
  4. Cyclelicious posted a link to a destroyed Cinelli that flew off it’s rack. Ugh.
  5. And since I can hardly believe it myself, look at 8 of those next 10 days.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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