Archive for the ‘Commuting’ Category


Finally took the Christmas lights off my road bike. It was raining the other day and the lights say “indoor use only” so I figured I should. Zzzt! No thanks!

Problem with that is, though: Nobody can see me any more! I have a few lights on order at the co-op along with some other things, so hopefully that will help, but what I really need is front and back helmet lights so I can point my lights directly at the cars without nearly falling off my bike. But that’s going to have to wait till we have more money, because wedding and dental expenses (and the new vehicle we’re buying) are coming due and we’re a little uncomfortable. Squeezed somewhat. Not yet making our contributions to savings less generous…but thinking it might be necessary to. Later on.

You know what I really want though? A reflective vest with little LEDs embedded into it and a pocket for the batteries. That would be the shit. Hey, I think I just figured out what to use the remainder of our Amazon gift card on.

Our rings might be ready soon, too. Funny how, now that we’ve put so much money into savings for the wedding, we’re loath to take it out, even for wedding expenses. That tells me that my method of “put it into savings now, you can always take it out later” is a good strategy for hanging on to money if you’re used to spending whatever’s available. You do what you have to do to get the long-term effect you want, using your own particular quirks to your advantage.

Works in other areas too. Our current apartment is about 3 miles from my work, and I’d prefer a longer commute as well as to go through campus, which I don’t now since we live on the same side as my office. I particularly like taking Green Street through campustown — for a few brief moments I can pretend I’m riding in a real city! And it makes me push myself because it’s kind of scary — I can see from the side that there’s enough room for my bike, but when I’m riding, it doesn’t seem like there’s very much room at all, so I go faster so that fewer cars can pass me. So in the interest of lengthening my commute without having to push myself to do it (because I don’t, especially when it’s cold and/or windy), our next apartment will be on the other side of town from work. My commute will be 5 miles at the shortest. We’ll be right near the bike co-op, Starbucks, the grocery store, the farmers’ market, and the only place in town that sells quinoa, but nice and far from work. And when I’m up for the challenge, I can take Green Street all the way from Neil to Vine and scare the shit out of myself by racing the cars. It’s a blast.

The best way to lose weight? Make it a matter of course. Trying to do it before the wedding, but if I have to I’d rather do it after than not at all!

Need to start running again, too. You know what, next time it’s above 50°, I go for a run.

It’s been gorgeous the last week or so and I’ve been reminded that I don’t have to bundle up quite as much as I have been for those 35-40° days. But I did discover this morning that 39-in-the-sun does require one more thin layer in addition to the three I had, or maybe a more wind-resistent jacket. Tonight I’ll probably put on my other additional layer that I brought just in case, because I won’t have the sun to warm me up anymore. If the temperature’s the same, it shouldn’t be too much.

It’s a fine line between wearing enough that I don’t shiver at stop lights and not wearing so much that I sweat more than I have to while moving. Fortunately I only have a few stop lights and if I’m chilly I can take a route where there are always (instead of hopefully) cars to trip the lights.


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Too damn cold!

I need to write a letter to the editor or something explaining to idiot drivers that no, I will not move over for them, because I’m already riding as close to the right as I can — in the tracks made by the cars where the road is mostly visible. I will not ride in the packed snow where my wheels go all over the place just so your self-righteous ass doesn’t have to wait for ten seconds for an opening (which it doesn’t, because there’s nobody coming on the other side of the road). Stop trailing behind me at 7 mph flashing your lights; there’s plenty of room on the other side of the road. You know, the side you use to pass other cars? The side that oncoming traffic would use if it were there, but it’s not, so fucking use it and pass me already!

Boss is letting me work from home tomorrow, thank God. It’s 2°F right now and only going to get colder. My gear is about limited to the 5° that it was for my ride home yesterday, without snow, and with snow I can’t go as fast to keep my cadence up because I’m too afraid of falling, so probably 10 or 15° would be the lower bound. I was too cold tonight.

So, too cold for a bike tomorrow, but we’ll see if we can borrow the future-in-laws’ van and get some food, because we’re about out of groceries and I’m hungry and can’t take my bike to go get food.

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Yay snow!

And more to come!

Can’t say I’m really in the mood for it, though. After that first fall on ice that I thought was water, I’ve been pretty nervous about hitting the ground. And with a few inches of snow having been packed down into an inch or so of …stuff (not slush, just packed snow, I guess), I have to be pretty careful. My tires slip whenever I cross a tire track, and I’m grateful that Champaign has plenty of residential roads that are well used, because otherwise I’d be riding on the two-lane not-wide-enough-for-bikes road that is Kirby, trying to go as fast as I can and battling the fear that some crazy bitch or jackass going too fast for conditions while talking on a cell phone and drinking a latte is not going to be able to avoid hitting me.

I want a recumbent trike for this kind of weather so I don’t have to worry about falling over. It’s scary when your wheels slip out from under you, even if you don’t fall. Especially when cars like to give you three feet of space, not nearly enough to avoid you if your bike suddenly decides it would be more comfortable lying flat on the ground.

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Too cold

Well, it’s the wind, really, that messes with you. And the snow in the eyes — that’s annoying too.

Thursday’s going to be a bitch. I’ve seen projected highs of anywhere from 2 to 8°F (currently 4 according to accuweather). That means it’ll be considerably colder for my commutes on either side. I may ask my boss if I can work from home, because I’m not sure I have the gear to ride in that weather and I really hate depending on other people for rides.

We’ll be getting a vehicle shortly, though probably not before Thursday — friends of his family are getting a new vehicle and selling their minivan. It’ll be nice for the honeymoon to save a few hundred dollars by camping out in the van some nights, since it’ll be warm enough. And it’ll be easier to carry the bikes, though what we’re going to do with them while we sleep, I’m not sure.

Oohh, just the thought of nice warm weather makes me want to either laugh or cry, I’m not sure which.

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Been a while

Cold today. I need a balaclava. I also need to stop wearing cotton as my base layer, but I don’t have anything else. I was never one for shopping, but now it’s even harder to get myself to do it on my bike, especially in the cold. I love it when I’m out there, but sometimes it’s hard to get the bike out of the apartment.

Since the timing of the co-op’s wheelbuilding class would be excellent, I intended to build my fixed-gear’s rear wheel in the class, but I didn’t get the parts in time. So I’m going to rebuild one of the early-80s wheels I got from my dad at Christmas (might rebuild all three for practice; I’m putting a road bike together for my fiancé with two of those wheels and a frame Dad also gave me).

I was getting kind of nervous about buying the parts for the fixed-gear’s wheels and building the wheels myself (I’m told that hand-built wheels generally last longer than machine-built, and I want the practice), since it looked like the parts were going to be $70 more than just buying the wheelset. But my anxiety was relieved when I realized that I had been including the cog, lockring, and extra spokes in my parts list, instead of just the hubs, spokes, and rims. I M TEH SMRT. Looks like it’ll probably only be $15ish more for the parts (nevermind the extra spokes), which is worth it to me. But with the tires and tubes, I dunno…it’ll be quite a bit. Not sure if the co-op has inner tubes with Presta valves so I’m not counting on getting them used. And I’d rather have new tires.

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Yay for new gear

$33 and change for four bags of Christmas candy (how could I resist a $3.50 bag of chocolate for 79 cents?) and a few items of winter cycling gear on clearance — three pairs of pants and a fleece. I really need to stop cycling in cotton, but just about all of my clothes are 100% cotton. The best I’ve been able to do is long underwear at 80% cotton/20% polyester. What I really need is next-to-skin wicking fabrics, but hey, at least now I have pants that will work well in 50-degree weather when I can wear only one layer, and it’ll be nice on those 15-degree days to have an extra layer to put on over my jeans.

Tomorrow (or maybe Sunday), Champaign Surplus. Most of their stuff is crazy expensive, especially if all of your previous experience with stores called “______ Surplus” is that they charge dimes on the dollar for almost everything they have. $200 for a shell and fleece? If it were an actual surplus store, it’d be $50. Anyway, I did see balaclavas there for $13 which isn’t bad — I need to replace the scarf-and-hat combo I have right now. It’s annoying and too much to work with, and it fogs up my glasses and doesn’t let me breathe easily. And I guess $30 isn’t too too much for gloves if they’re good, but I’m hoping there’s a sale.

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Pedals are slipping on the hybrid and it’s driving me BATSHIT CRAZY. It happens only when the bike gets cold, only when I’ve coasted for a bit, and only SOMETIMES.

[inarticulate sputtering rage] I can’t trust the damn bike. I haven’t sat right on it since the original seat was stolen; right now I have a fairly comfortable seat but it’s slippery so I keep sliding forward anyway (I asked for a frictiony seat cover for Christmas, and if I don’t get it I’ll go buy one), and now that the pedals are untrustworthy I have nowhere to reliably put my weight. As a result, most of it ends up on my hands.

I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t recreate the problem in the shop and I’m never looking down when it happens, so I can’t tell exactly what’s happening — is the chain slipping on the gears or is the freehub slipping on the wheel? If I can’t fix it I’ll turn the damn thing into a fixie, that’ll teach it. It’ll be a pain in the ass, though, because it has vertical dropouts (for non-cyclists: here’s why that’s significant), but I’ve seen devices that you can use to adjust chain tension on bikes like that, so it might work…

But I hear from fixed-gear riders that fixed gear is best in slippery conditions because it gives you a better feel for the road, since the back wheel is not just correlated (as on a geared bike) but completely locked with the pedals. So given that the hybrid is my all-weather bike, if I’m gonna try a fixie I might as well do it on that bike.

Then again…my dad has some old frames in his garage that I’m gonna take a look at when we go up for Christmas, so I’m not making any decisions until then. If I make a fixie out of a new frame I’ll see if I can’t get snow tires for it and it’ll be my snow bike till winter’s over.

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