Pandemic in Pictures: Bike Selfies 3

The pandemic rages on unabated here in the US, with no prospect of improvement — and that means I continue riding mostly alone or with Dad. And that means I continue taking bike selfies to prove to myself I’ve gone places.

In this edition, Dad and I took one excursion to Whidbey Island. You’ll see several pictures from there. Also in this edition, you’ll see more sunsets and evening shots as days get shorter and my after-work “commute equivalent” rides stay at the same time but change from late afternoon to evening rides. Continue Reading >>

100,000 Miles Ridden

On my Saturday ride this weekend, I passed 100,000 miles ridden (since I started tracking in 2008). It only took 12 years.

100,000 Miles Ridden

Then: 2008

Off We Go
Then: October, 2008

I started biking in 2006, riding about seven miles one way to the train station. By 2008, my company moved a little closer to our house, so I was able to start commuting 13 miles one way directly there. I had just bought my custom titanium Seven, which I rode mostly just for commuting Monday through Friday, with weekends off. Right around 2008 I met a conductor on the train who was a cyclist and encouraged me to consider doing the Cape Cod MS Challenge, which led to me eventually training for and riding the STP. But long rides were the exception rather than the rule back then. Continue Reading >>

Pandemic in Pictures: Bike Selfies 2

As the pandemic has continued, I’ve kept riding and taking pictures of my bike. I mentioned this behavior change in my first bike selfies post, and to an extent I do continue taking pictures of my bike while I’m out riding. Here’s a few places I’ve been in the last couple months.

Inspiration Point, Mt. Rainier
Inspiration Point, Mt. Rainier – July 3, 2020
End of Rainier Ride
Eatonville Visitor’s Center – July 3, 2020
Black Diamond Bakery
Black Diamond Bakery, August 1, 2020
Mt. Si, North Bend
Mt. Si, North Bend – August 9, 2020
Clean Bike
Clean bike: Washed my bike with actual soap and water – August 15, 2020
Matthews Beach Sunrise
Matthews Beach, Seattle – August 16, 2020

Pandemic in Pictures: Bike Selfies

Normally I don’t take pictures of my bike while I’m riding. I don’t take pictures much at all: I prefer to ride, not stop, extract my phone from my pocket and its protective plastic baggie wrapper, take a picture, put away my phone in the wrapper and then my pocket, and resume riding.

I do realize that, in the grand scheme of photography, this may be the easiest era ever to take pictures. I don’t care–it’s still more than I want to do when I’m out riding. Really it’s because I prefer to avoid stopping as much as possible, and unless a view really stuns me, I tend to just appreciate it on the fly. Continue Reading >>

Biking Benefits

Today Benji and I got to do two fun things because we ride a bike for the commute to/from preschool. I’m going to throw in a third related vignette for good measure, but these stories are practically infinite.

1. On the way there, a large work van went by and we saw it had a picture of a forklift on the side. We speculated about whether that meant there were, in fact, forklifts inside the truck/van/thing (Benji was all for this theory).

A little way down the road, there was the van, pulled over on our side of the road. I asked Benji if he wanted to stop and ask if there were forklifts inside, and he really did. So we pulled over next to the truck, the driver rolled down his window, and I asked (Benji was too shy and incomprehensible).

The driver told us that no, there were no forklifts in the back (sad!), but wait! Turns out that he was a forklift repair man going to the siding company across the road to fix one of their forklifts. We looked over there and, gratifyingly, a forklift just in our view picked up a load of pipes* at that moment. We thanked the driver and rode away, highly pleased.

*Autosuggest offered “puppies” instead of “pipes,” a wonderful and rather hilarious mental image.

2. In a very similar vein, on our way home from school, we went by a couple of City of Bothell work vans and trucks parked just off the Sammamish River Trail by a bridge over the slough. They were parked near a large blue tent. We decided to investigate, and the City workers were pleased to tell us what they were doing.

Apparently, wherever a sewer pipe crosses a bridge, even a small one like the one over the slough, there’s a pump to hurry the slurry (so to speak). There’s also a backup generator, in case power goes out. Definitely don’t want that backing up!

Anyway, if I understood correctly, after 35 years, one of the pistons in the backup generator got a hole in it. They ordered a new piston (they’re readily available, apparently, even after three and a half decades) and had just finished replacing it when we came along. The worker showed up pictures of the piston with the hole and the replacement piston.

Benji was very interested. He definitely understood the idea of helpers fixing the broken thing, even if he didn’t understand exactly what the thing was or why it was broken.

3. Finally, last week we were riding home on the road rather than the trail, when a fire engine from Bothell Fire Station 42 went by. Naturally, we waved. But even better for us, the fire station was actually in our route home, and we arrived there in time to see the truck backing into its spot in the garage.

Even more happily, one of the firefighters offered to give us a tour of the trucks, an offer we promptly accepted. We learned that the ladder truck’s ladder can go 100′ up (!) and that they use it for different uses than a tiller truck. The ladder has a bucket on the end that makes it useful for lifting equipment and people quickly, or for rescuing people from very high places. But, the firefighter said, they had to be careful not to bonk into things with the ladder when they turn the 51-foot-long truck, since the ladder extends a long way beyond the rear wheels.

We also learned that the truck had once gone out and rescued a cat from a tree, although they used a shorter ladder for that (they put the cat in a sack to carry out down).

Again, we left highly gratified and with lots of scope for play and stories.

We certainly couldn’t have had any of those exchanges in a car, zooming by too fast to stop. Biking allowed us to enjoy the journey a bit more, rather than just rushing from Point A to Point B. The fact is, although I like technology and efficiency as much as the next person, I have increasingly come to value slow time, one-on-one relationship time that only happens at a rate of one minute per minute. Benji and I have many interesting and, for him, educational conversations on our bike rides that otherwise wouldn’t happen. We certainly do use the car for getting places quickly, but I value and enjoy our biking time especially.

Geeking Out on Bikes

OK, I’m going to take a moment to talk about bikes and biking. I haven’t said much about my riding lately, but that’s not to imply it hasn’t been on my mind. Rather, I deliberately avoid talking bikes too frequently because it’s not a topic of interest to very many people — at least, not many people find it as interesting as I do.

So this is your cue to wander off of bikes bore you.

A few months ago, I noticed the frame of my race bike (dubbed Alexander the Great) had a thin crack in the seat tube. I couldn’t tell if this was just a crack in the paint — they used really thin paint, and it got innumerable dings and cracks in it after I started riding it consistently in March — or, more worrisome, a flaw in the carbon fiber itself. I pointed it out to a bike shop employee, and he said to keep an eye on it. That’s all I did for quite a while.

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Alexander the Great the day I bought him in December 2012.

Time went by and one day, inspecting my frame in bright sunlight, I checked that spot again. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought the crack looked longer. Now out extended into the black frame lettering, so I couldn’t tell how far it went, but the next time I was in the shop with my bike, I spoke with a different employee about it.

He immediately told me it looked like a crack on the frame, since it went the same direction as the weave. Since I had bought the bike within the last 12 months, he arranged for me to get a free frame replacement, with the visit of all the labor of transferring components to the new frame covered by the shop.

When the time came to make the swap, I figured I’d have them do the annual overhaul while the whole bike was torn apart anyway. Turns out that even though I’d only ridden that bike around 3,000 miles (excluding trainer time;  but really, this year’s just looking like a low mileage year), the bottom bracket (a cutting-edge BB 30) required replacement. That explained all the creaking, anyway. The only other changes were new bar tape and new cables. Total, I paid less than $150 for all the work.

Here’s what I got for my money.

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Basically a whole new, totally sweet-looking bike.

I Forgive Your Envy

Day’s Verse:
Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.
James 1:16b-ish (out of context)

It’s about time I talk about bikes again. Remember Artemis, my Seven Alaris?

The top picture is what she looked like shortly after I bought her in October 2008; the bottom picture is in January 2008, her winter look.
Sunset Artemis

3Jan08 019

Compare that original style to what she looks like now.
Pink Tape

Your keen observational skills will notice that she went from pretty badass, especially in the winter, to just plain pretty. She started off ti with black and red; now she’s ti and pink. Today I swapped out my old black bar tape for the new, free, PINK bar tape I got on my trip to CBS with Dad on Friday. That’s right, the last holdout of black* on Artemis has succumbed to pink. I even used some fun swirly reflective tape on top of the black finishing tape.

Pink Tape Closeup 1

Pink Tape Closeup 2
(This is my first attempt at wrapping bar tape, so I have a lot to learn still, but it turned out tolerably well.)

And you know what? Since I started pinkifying Artemis, I’ve gotten more compliments than ever on her style. Guys, by and large, tell me how good she looks. Seriously! I can’t remember all the admiring conversations I’ve had about her pink coloring. Last spring, I had a (cute) guy in a convertible pull up and say, “Hey, nice pink fenders,” before driving on. I trust he was talking about my bike.

Anyway, I like that as a pink bike, she’s not just your standard black-and-red, which everybody has**. She’s unique, but no less tough for being pink. And it takes guts to ride a pink bike, as the Soft Like Kitten guys will confirm. Of course, I really just do it because pink on this bike makes me happy.

* I know, the bottle cages are still black and red. I want to replace them, but I can’t justify buying new ones when those are perfectly functional. Almost all the pink conversions, excluding the fenders, have been extremely cheap or free. I also would like to get a pink-and-black Lazer helmet (the Genesis or Helium), but again, my blue-and-white one (which was also free) is still perfectly good. Christmas gifts, anybody?
** For example: Here, here, here, and here, just to list a few.