Sunday, July 28, 2013

One Year Later: Bike Modifications

Running a couple of errands this morning reminded me how much my bike has changed this past year. It's a Globe Daily 2 ('11 model), which I got from one of D's local bike shops for a great price. Here's a picture of the bike from the first month I was riding it, complete with the crate D and I set up (see here):


And here's the bike circa one year later, with a few modifications:


  1. I added a skirt guard (see here). It's saved several skirts and dresses from getting caught in the spokes or the brake pad. More importantly, it's proven easy to remove, wash, and re-attach when needed.
  2. Even though I already had different rear cargo options, I decided to go with a Wald 137 front basket as well for light, unanticipated cargo (e.g. restaurant doggy bag), or for when I was using a normal purse/bag. (At some point, I will do a "one year later" for my cargo set up and talk more abut this basket then.)
  3. I added chain guard. As the weather cooled and I started wearing pants more often, I decided I wanted that extra protection. My favorite Cleveland bike shop helped me find a chainguard that works with my rear derailleur. For the curious, it's from Civia. It's not a perfect solution in that it rubs against the chain slightly if I'm in the eighth gear, but I'm never in that gear so the trade off was worth it to me. As a plus, it looks great on the bike--I think even better than what the chainguard that comes standard on the high-end model of the Globe Daily.
  4. I got a U-lock to replace the cable lock you see in the top picture, as recommended by the campus police at my place of employment (along with everybody who has ever considered locking up a bike in an urban area).
I made these changes as I was learning how I liked to ride my bike. When I bought it, I did not initially contemplate using it to get to work, but that became the bike's primary function. It's funny to think about now because, with the integrated rack and the nod to the loop frame, it's the bike I would likely have picked if commuting was my original goal. (I wonder if I had a "sportier" bike, if I would have gone in the direction that I did.) Then, because I got the bike in the summer, one of my favorite things to do on weekends became going on my cooking-related errands (usually farmer's market, bakery, grocery store). I also liked riding when I wanted to hang out or work at different coffee shops, or when I was going out for a casual meal. Apparently stringing together these types of errands/small rides is now a thing, though in my case privilege and circumstance made it fairly easy to do. The relatively late onset of lake effect winter also allowed me to keep riding well into the year, and so D helped me put together decent cold-weather riding gear so the fun could continue.

After I moved, I couldn't use this bike to get to work anymore because the distance wasn't feasible for me, and I couldn't take a full-sized bike on the Metro during rush hour. I have since acquired a folding bike for my commute, but all the changes I implemented make my original bike ideal for most of my weekend errand and recreational transport riding. First of all, I can have a different cargo setup depending on what I'm doing. I'm also more comfortable locking it up outside when I'm running in and out of different places, or even when I'm hanging out for a couple of hours. And, as much as I love the new bike, I cut my teeth on this bike, so I think I'll always enjoy the feeling of hopping onto its upright seat, grabbing its swooping handlebars, and heading off for a ride.

Note: It feels odd to list brand names, but I know I find it useful when I read about specific products I'm considering even when it's not a full review, so I figured I would implement the practice as well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One Year Later

I haven't written in a while, but given that's its been about a year since I first got my bike and there have been a lot of changes in my life, I feel like this blog is due for an update.

The biggest change has been that I have since moved to the DC metro area, which explains in part the blog's new name. The second biggest change (somewhat related to the first) is that I walked into a deal I couldn't refuse on a folding bike, so now I have a second bike, which I use for multi-modal commuting. This also explains in part the new name.

However, the biggest impetus for the new name is that I've had a year under my belt of riding around, and I've loved every mile of it. In that year, I've done so much more than I ever envisioned when I first got my bike, and I've learned a lot too. It's funny to look back now at my profile picture, which D took the first weekend I got my bike: my arms are completely locked, and I'm clearly tense, even though I was enjoying myself. When I got my second bike, D took a picture of me riding around that as well, and my position is so much more normal and relaxed! I like to think I picked up on the riding pretty quickly, though much of that was with D's help.

Another summer, another bike

Really, I owe my love of riding now to D, who had the patience to teach me the basics (seriously, I bought a decent used bike when I was in college and couldn't figure out the gearing well enough to ride up a moderate slope) and instilled in me the confidence to ride. But I like to think I had some influence on him too: before I got my bike, D only had a road bike and a mountain bike, and although he had raised the stem of his road bike to un-roadie heights, he was still going around in clipless pedals. Now he has a folding bike (he's the reason why I got mine--those are our bikes in the header), he rides in normal shoes, and has exchanged the padded shorts for cargo shorts. Our first ride together was through dirt trails in the woods, but we've since discovered a love for leisurely night rides through winding streets, or exploratory rides in tree-lined neighborhoods where D races down hills and I power up them.

Which brings me to the blog description. In all the days I've ridden it's never been about racing or getting exercise. Neither an upright bike nor a folding bike is really conducive to those modes of riding. I also ride for more than recreation, even though rambling about with D is one of my favorite things to do. But the non-recreational ways in which I ride a bike--to pick up groceries, to get to the office, etc.--aren't really about being environmentally conscious (although that's a nice side benefit) or saving gas money (minimal can be directly attributed to the bike) or cutting time (it's the opposite, in fact). Riding a bike is just fun. It makes going to work a pleasure. It takes the edge off an oppressively hot summer day. I will park my car further from my apartment, not because it's less likely to be dinged or because the parallel parking spots are more generous (though that's another fringe benefit), but because I like having the excuse of riding my bike the couple of blocks home. Riding a bike is so much fun that I can overcome my internet reticence and wax effusively about it to an audience of one (hi D!), because I just can't help myself. That's how much I've grown to love it in this past year, and as I continue to ride,  I hope to write as well.