Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ode to Bicycles-Pablo Neruda

I was walking
a sizzling road:
the sun popped like
a field of blazing maize,
was hot,
an infinite circle
with an empty
blue sky overhead.

A few bicycles
me by,
the only
that dry
moment of summer,
barely stirred
the air.

Workers and girls
were riding to their
their eyes
to summer,
their heads to the sky,
sitting on the
beetle backs
of the whirling
that whirred
as they rode by
bridges, rosebushes, brambles
and midday.

I thought about evening when
the boys
wash up,
sing, eat, raise
a cup
of wine
in honor
of love
and life,
and waiting
at the door,
the bicycle,
only moving
does it have a soul,
and fallen there
it isn't
a translucent insect
through summer
a cold
that will return to
when it's needed,
when it's light,
that is,
of each day.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Best Ride of the First Half of 2008

Sandwhich, New Hampshire

We rolled out of Center Sandwich in the late morning after a good helping of coffee and farm fresh eggs (purchased 100 yard down the road). The plan was to do a counter clockwise century that would take us through Conway, across the whole length of the Kancamangus Highway, Lincoln and then back home.

The air was cool and the traffic light as we spun our way up to Conway on the flatter terrain of the day. After a quick snack at the turn off for Kancamangus we started the gentle climb to the peak. The Highway is 38 miles with no gas stations, restaurants, shops, nothing. The climb itself wasn’t terrible, with no significantly steep sections. It was just a long grind to the top and a fun but safe drop to the bottom.

Next up was a misreading of the map, which tagged 15 extra miles and 1000 feet of climbing onto the ride when we thought we were close to home. The finish was the true epic adventure of the whole day though. We had planned to take Sandwich Notch road back into town, but when we turned onto it was gravel and rocks on what must have been a 15% climb. Unsure of our detour options we decided to press on. It was an hour of pure heaven or hell depending on your point of view. The road was not a road, the pitches were steep and relentless, and the descent necessitated a cyclocross style tripod the whole way down.

We rolled home in a super-bonk induced state of euphoria. 120 miles. 8 hours in the saddle. Epic.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cheap Fuel

I've always taken it as a given that riding my bike is cheaper than driving my car. Recently though, a friend of mine wondered aloud if riding could actually cost you more once you considered the increased food consumed to power all that pedaling. At first I laughed, but then I decided I should take an objective look at the situation. What follows is a quick comparison between the cost of fueling 25 miles worth of driving a car fueled by regular gasoline and 25 miles worth of riding a bike fueled by bananas (every cyclist's best friend, but apparently an atheist's worst nightmare).

First, some assumptions and values. For the sake of calculation, we'll assume that the car in question gets 25mpg around town. Additionally we'll say that the cyclist in question can cover 25 miles in two hours at a light to moderate riding intensity.

AAA has the national average for a gallon of gas pegged at $4.087 per gallon today. So there is our price per 25 miles for driving.

Health A-Z.com estimates that 2 hours of riding burns 750 calories for a 150lb person.
My last grocery receipt shows bananas at $0.69 per pound.
FitDay.com estimates there are 315 calories in a pound of bananas.

Divide the calories per hour by calories in a pound of bananas and multiply by the cost per pound and we get a cost of $1.62 for 25 miles of riding ((750/315)*.69).

So it turns out that riding is indeed considerably cheaper than driving when looking purely at fuel costs ($2.44 cheaper every 25 miles!). In future posts we'll take a look at other considerations such as start up cost, equipment, maintenance, and insurance to get a more complete look at the financial benefits of the beautiful machine. Reactions, ideas and questions are always welcome in the comments or at legpowered@gmail.com.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Maybe Alone On My Bike-Willaim Stafford

I listen, and the mountain lakes
hear snowflakes come on those winter wings
only the owls are awake to see,
their radar gaze and furred ears
alert. In that stillness a meaning shakes;

And I have thought (maybe alone
on my bike, quaintly on a cold
evening pedaling home), Think!--
the splendor of our life, its current unknown
as those mountains, the scene no one sees.

O citizens of our great amnesty:
we might have died. We live. Marvels
coast by, great veers and swoops of air
so bright the lamps waver in tears,
and I hear in the chain a chuckle I like to hear.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pacelines are the new Carpools

Imagine how great it would be if this was the scene on the freeway commute to work. Bike commuting sure would be a lot faster if there was always a good wheel to follow! I came across an interesting article from velonews.com. It discusses the interplay between cycling for purely utilitarian purposes and for training purposes. As a racer and commuter this is an important topic for me. I keep track of my training by time and heart rate, and have consistently found that a significant portion of my training time (sometimes as much as 25%) comes from commuthing to work, going to grocery store, or just meeting friends for dinner and drinks by bike. These aren't "throw away" miles. Every little bit counts, so let your time on the bike do double duty.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bike Lanes Please

Butler County in Ohio is planning a lot of road work in the coming year. Very few of the project descriptions outline any plans for bike lanes. It would be awesome if they could be persuaded to add some. I think the best way to make that happen is for those in charge to hear from some people who would enjoy bike lanes. So if you live in the area, go ahead and email info@bceo.org with a quick description of why you would appreciate bike lanes in the community.

For those who live elswhere, if you'd like for me to post the necessary contact info for road construction projects in your area either email me at legpowered@gmail.com or post it on the comments section. The more they hear from us, the more likely it is they'll listen. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Beautiful Solution

There are three major issues facing us in this country that can be simultaneously improved by the bicycle and its use. Gas prices are at an all time high, Americans are facing a serious epidemic of obesity, and air pollution is leading to global climate change and mucking up our environment.

The leg powered solution? Ride your bike! The energy is renewable and cheap, the health benefits are dramatic and plentiful, and the impact on the environment could be huge. I am hoping to increase bicycle use by supporting those who have already fallen in love with the beautiful machine and convincing those who haven’t to give it a try. Can such a simple machinge be expected to bring about such monumental changes. I believe it can. I would love your help in making this a reality. If you have an idea for a post, or want to alert me to something going on in the quest to change our car culture into a bike culture, please email me at legpowered@gmail.com

Revolution #1

Pick one common trip in your daily life and compare car travel time to bike travel time. Pick a destination that is relatively close, but that you typically drive to. The library, coffee shop, grocery store…any place will work. Time how long it takes to drive there on your next visit (or better yet, mapquest it). Now pick out a safe and comfortable route to ride there. Go to mapmyride.com or a similar mapping site and see how far your ride would be. If you’re an experienced rider, calculate your trip time with a reasonable average speed for you. If you don’t know how fast you ride, anywhere from 10-15mph would be a good conservative guess. So how much time do you actually save by driving? I bet you’ll be surprised by how little it really is. So ride next time! Be sure to tell your friends how easy it was. I’ll do my local coffee shop as an example. In my car, it’s a 2.27mile trip that takes me 6 minutes. On my bike, I take a 2.65mile route that takes me about 17 minutes. There you have it; I save a measly 11 minutes by driving my car.