Recently I have had to trade my bike for a different mode of transportation - at least partial transportation. They certainly are not as fun, but this form of transit has provided me with a lot of food for thought.
This is the first time in my life I have had to use crutches and I have found the behavior of others quite interesting. I am slow, clunky, and inconvenience people while using public transit - but they accept it. Not only do most people accept my presence, they willingly inconvenience themselves for me and exercise high levels of patience.
No one has yelled at me for slowing them down while I hobble down steps.
People stand aside and wait for me to get on subway cars.
Those comfortably sitting offer me their seat.
What I find interesting is that not a single person asks why I am using crutches. They treat me kindly, but who knows, I could have hurt myself . . .
Kicking a kitten
Robbing their bank
Stealing candy from a child
I did not injure myself inflicting harm on human or animal kind, but I find the juxtaposition between the treatment on my crutches and the treatment on my bicycle fascinating.
When on my bike I often treated like a criminal. I am robbing people in cars of precious seconds. Seconds most likely not spent with loved ones or on helping human or animal kind, but spent on the isles of big box grocery stores, fast food restaurants, or couches placed in front of television sets. I am honked at, yelled at, swerved at, have had things thrown at me, and am an object of utter disdain. The ironic thing is, as a cyclist I -
Cause less wear and tear on the roads, possibly saving tax money from having to be spent on said roads.
Am not polluting the air.
Am one less car at the light.
Am likely to help reduce their health insurance rates because cycling is a healthy activity which likely results in fewer health complications than eating French fries while driving a car.
Am not going to cause as much damage to their car, or to them, as another car would if I hit them.
These are but a few of the possible benefits, but my point is that when on crutches people give you the benefit of the doubt, but on a bike all bets are off - I am often treated like public enemy number one. Humans are such interesting creatures. This Walt Disney cartoon, made over 60 years ago, sums up what happens to people when they get into a car.
Even though people treat me better while on crutches, I can't wait to get back on two wheels.
Sometimes solutions for everyday tasks are right in front of your face. I have been around bikes for decades and never thought of this simple presta valve adapter hack. Props to reader Robert for sending it along.
I'm convinced that bacon makes everything better, however I just started reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and that may change soon. In the meantime, reader Scott's new bar tape is making me hungry . . .
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So I finally switch out my 390mm bars to some comfy 430mm ones and needed to freshen up the grip tape too. What was supposed to be woodgrain pattern on synthetic cork looks more like bacon - wonderful, wonderful bacon. I love the look, kinda goes with the gold pinstriping on my 1977 Nishiki Olympic Royale.
As Bob Ross says, there are no mistakes - just happy little accidents.
Even though my commute is on pavement, my chain picks up its fair share of gunk and grime. Reader Cam has a really muddy commute and came up with a great hack for trying to fend off the onslought of mud.
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My commute is really really muddy, so muddy that mudguards are impractical as they just clog up with mud.
Now, I don't mind getting muddy, as I dress for the occasion and get changed at both ends. What I do mind however, is having a graunchy drive train that needs to be cleaned and lubed after every ride, and wears out really quickly if you don't. (Let's be honest - who cleans and lubes every day?)
So I've been trying to stop the muck from getting on the chain, being carried round to the rear mech and clogging up the jockey wheels.
To this effect I've built a mudchainguard.
If you want to make some, here's how it's done: -
1) Buy some chocolates and hide them from the kids.
2) When the kids have gone to bed - eat all the chocolates.
3) Make a template from a cereal packet. (I found that the lid off a jar of curry powder was a perfect match for my bottom bracket diameter)
4) Mark up the sweetie tub using the template and a marker pen and cut it out.
5) Offer it up and fettle.
6) Punch in some holes for cable ties and cable tie it in place - one around the down tube and one on the seat tube. Because my seat tube has a smaller diameter than the down tube, I spaced out the seat tube cable tie by passing it though a rubber tap washer.
I'm not that bothered by the colour as it'll be covered in mud after 5 minutes.
I don't typically set New Year's resolutions, but I had been thinking of getting a new pair of commuter kicks for quite some time. I have been rocking the same Shimano shoes for about 7 years and they have treated me well. About two years ago I stopped tying them because I wore the padding off the back of the heels and I could just slip them on without having to lace them up.
Years of commuting have certainly taken a toll on the shoes, but they still look pretty decent.
Still, they were not the most stylish shoes to begin with. My desire for some new shoes was met with a random email from a company I had not heard of before - DZR. Their goal appears to be to make shoes that are functional and fashionable. They gave me the pick of their line and I went with these - the Minna.
Black goes with just about anything and doesn't look dirty even when it is, right? Then again, based upon my sock choice I guess me worrying about style is a tad ironic.
It also seems that they hired someone who studied package design.
After I have had some time to put the shoes through some ride time I'll have an update. Thanks to the fine folks from DZR for the opportunity.
I grew up with a Golden Lab who loved to go for car rides. I am sure she would have enjoyed this set up, sent to us by reader Stephen.
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I was able to rig a modern trailer to an old English bike to toe my dog in. The trailer didn't fit an old bike so I had to alter the hitch. These are pictures of Me and my mini schnauzer Jack.
The bike I am riding is one of my vintage three speeds. It is a 1963 Phillips with the original generator driven by the rear tire. Someone didn't know what they had and donated it to the Salvation army in mint condition. A friend of mine noticed it and rescued it for me.