Sorry for the delay on the blogs, but I just haven’t had a chance to just sit down and spend some time writing, so here it goes.
Friday, oh what a day. Nothing to really report on during the ride to work. I got the opportunity to make a friend bust a bit of a sweat on the way to lunch. Pushing 17+ mph into the wind on the way to lunch was a bit extreme, but hey, why not.
We ate at Tea with Friends, with some friends. We utilized a small wooden fence to lock up the bikes. It made a fine bike rack in a pinch.
After some discussions on a website that bike transport enthusiasts can post their experiences and some lunch, we headed back to campus.
We had originally planned to head into McAllen on Friday night to get some dinner and maybe do a night ride, but it just didn’t pan out. We were just too tired because of the stupid time change. Why are we messing with time? Whomever is in charge of this DST crap must not watch sci-fi movies. Don’t they know bad things happen when you mess with time?
We ended up eating at Tacos Reynosa with a friend. He was asking us how much we save in gas per month riding. I haven’t really been keeping track of that very well, but I estimated it to be maybe between $50 and $100. He informed us that he spends a whopping $250 a month in gas. HOLY MOLY, that’s a chit load. Yes, the chit was intentional, it’s a tex-mex thing.
I can’t imagine spending that much in gas. I guess that’s the price you have to pay to drive a cool car these days.
Thursday was great. We had a great ride in to work. It was windy, but we kept a pretty quick pace. Of course, we didn’t want to push it to hard. No need to sweat bullets that early in the morning.
We got a message from a fellow cyclist about some interviews Team McAllen had setup to raise awareness about biking, and they need some people who bike for transport. Needless to say, we were in.
We left a little early from work. I wanted to pick up my dry cleaning in my trailer so that I could take it and hopefully get the TV crew to get some video of it. I want people to see all the crazy things you can do with a bike trailer.
Well, the interview didn’t pan out. The camera operator wasn’t able to make it. He ran out of gas. By the way, bikes don’t run out of gas. I’m just throwing that out there.
Well, our inspiration for car-free month was also there. The Cole’s brought out the whole family, all by bike, like there was any other way. There was some tire trouble with one of their bikes. The rear tire wasn’t holding air. After a repair, we all took off, since the interview was off. Jamee headed out to play some badminton, so he hammered it. He was already late, so I understood why he dropped us. Unfortunately, the tire issue came back. Uh oh, what to do?
Decisions decisions. Debbie, not Deby my wife, had though about riding all the way home to get their vehicle and to come back and pick up the bike. That was definitely an option, but being crazy, I suggested otherwise. I couldn’t, with good conscience, allow a car to be used during car-free month. With a bike trailer and an Xtracyle available, a plan emerged. I put the disabled bike on my trailer and Debbie carried two children on the back of the Xtracycle.
So with the bike secured to the trailer, we headed out. It was going to be about 3 miles back to their house. We took a nice and steady pace back, into the wind.
We got double and triple glances along the way. A car almost caused a pile up coming out of the Stripes on 10th and 107 when he saw us. I guess it was too much to handle.
We arrived at the Cole’s house without incident. It wasn’t hard at all hauling this bike. I’ve carried more weight in groceries. I just had to remember that this was a wide load. Maybe I need one of those signs for the rear of the trailer next time I do something like this.
Of course, the real hero of the story was Debbie. She was able to carry two people on the back of her bike. That is no small feat, especially heading into the wind.
The best part of the whole adventure was seeing probably dozens of trucks not carrying or towing anything. Yesterday, bicycles were, duh winning, the hauling battle.
So, the moral of the story. You don’t need a vehicle to do SAG. Bikes work just fine. Actually, better than fine. They work great.
The Ides of March came and went without incident. There was no Brutus waiting in the wings, nor a car for that matter.
Deby and I attended the city council meeting yesterday. Deby made a public comment concerning the cleanliness of the bike lanes around the city.
After the meeting, Tomas Reyna approached us to talk to us about our concerns. He explained that not all the lanes belonged to the city and that they couldn’t just clean them whenever, TxDOT doesn’t allow them. So much for a limited government mindset at the capitol in Austin. Anyway, I digress. He gave us his contact information so that we can let him know when we see large debris in the lanes. He also let us know how to call in for dead animals we see, and yes, there are a lot of dead animals in the bike lane. By the looks of them though, it’s not at the hands of a bike. These things are so flat they look like area rugs.
After the meeting, Deby and I had some dinner with some fellow cyclists who were also at the meeting. We tried out a new taco joint near the campus called Tacos Reynosa. It was pretty EPIC. I had a botana for 1 that was so good, I wanted it for breakfast this morning. The only criticism I have of the place is the lack of WiFi, but hey, it just opened. Maybe it’s a future amenity.
Don’t be fooled by the size of that white bike, it’s a beast. On the way to the taco place, I dropped everyone and cruised along at a nice 24 mph for a ways until that little rocket caught up to me going 29 mph. It’s not the size of the bike, but the strength of the legs.
I needed some cash, so during lunch, we biked over to the bank. Did you know it’s possible to use the drive up ATM on a bike? I knew. I even know that you can go through the regular bank drive thru on a bike. I’ve done it. Don’t be afraid, bikes can go anywhere.
After a long day or riding on Saturday, we were a little sore and tired, but we got up anyway. We had made plans to ride out to the Mission Trails and then over to the birding center at Bensten State Park. After guzzling a protein shake and some water, we loaded up and headed out.
We were meeting our partners in crime at 107 Cafe at 10. It took a lot of will power to not go in and eat something before we rode. We were promised a mind blowing breakfast over at the flea market in Alton. So we waited a few minutes.
Our riding companions showed up and we were off. We headed west over to Conway. With the wind blowing at our backs, it was easy until we made the turn south. Going south was work, but it wasn’t as bad as the day before. After 12 miles or riding, we reached our destination. We walked our bikes through the flea market and over to a great little taco place called La Malaguena. We locked up the bikes and headed in.
This is what we put off eating for.
And boy was it worth it. Nothing like some delicious pork tacos for breakfast to get you through the day. After this, and a Mexican Coke, we continued through the flea market. We met two gentlemen who had also biked there. They were riding custom chopper style bicyles and they were cycling chic. After talking to them for about 15 minutes about all things bicycle, we continued south to the Mission Trails.
Conway has a shoulder all the way south, except for a little piece in downtown Mission. It wasn’t bad riding on the very right of the lane. There was plenty of room.
Right before reaching the trails, we saw a winter visitor also biking over to the trails. It’s always great to see people biking instead of committing bicycle torture by hauling their bikes around on the back of car.
We finally arrived, after some ferocious wind.
We continued down the paved trail all the way over to Bensten State Park. When we got there, we noticed a lot of bikes. It was probably the most bikes I had ever seen parked anywhere. It was great.
We grabbed some water and explored the facility a little before heading out again. We biked over to the butterfly center about a mile down the road. It was nice to see that they have a big bike rack there. It’s also a proper bike rack that can actually hold bikes. Not like some others I’ve seen around.
We wandered around the center for about an hour. We looked at all the great native landscaping they had. There weren’t many butterflies but I’m sure that they have moved on since I last saw them last fall. There were plenty of birds though. We saw a lot of green jays as well as some cardinals.
There is a great walking trail that they have there that doesn’t look like it belongs in the valley.
During that walk down the path, it felt as though we had all been transported elsewhere. It’s hard to believe that the valley used to look like this many many years ago.
We took a break under a great canopy there and had some great discussions about the sprawl that is killing the RGV. Every time somebody bulldozes an orchard or clears brush to make way for development, we lose out on potential eco-tourism dollars. It seems short sighted to build a cookie cutter house that never feels like home in order to make a quick buck. What about the long time earning potential of a great nature preserve? I guess our collective hive mind here in the valley can’t look at things like that. We want to make the same mistakes everyone made 20 or 30 years ago in bigger metro areas. It seems like we really do get everything last here.
We biked back through the Mission Trails over to Conway. We then cut across on Trinity through the industrial parks and through Cimaron. We got a look from a resident who was driving past us. He just didn’t get it. Neither did we. How could you be trapped in that car on such a great day?
It was finally time to get some grub, but there were issues. Our first choice ended up being closed when we got there. So was our second choice. Luckily, Russo’s was open, so it was time for some carbs.
There was pizza on those pans, but I got my camera out a little too late to get the full pizza picture.
The day was winding down so we headed out.
We headed home for some much deserved rest. We clocked about 45 miles worth of riding on Sunday. It felt like a lot because of biking close to 40 miles the day before as well. It was worth it though, it was a great adventure.
Here we are riding down Dove. It doesn’t have a bike lane.
First off, I know I’m skipping a day, but it’s coming soon, I promise.
With the time change, the whole day just seemed off a little. It started with the ride in to work. It just feels odd to ride to work when it’s full on dark outside. We did it though, with no problems. This is when a proper lighting system is key.
My cheap smartphone camera doesn’t do the rear lights justice. The lights are a lot brighter than they look in that second shot.
Since our adventure yesterday took the whole day, our menu for the week got shifted. We were left without any lunch today. Not an issue, Whataburger is just down the street. We biked over, ate, and was back in the office in about 45 minutes. Not bad, considering we cruised it over.
After work, we headed home to pick up the trailer. It was time for some grocery shopping. We headed south into the wind and over to H.E.B. We bought a lot of stuff this week even though the list seemed short. Looks can be deceiving I guess. With the trailer full of stuff, we headed home. I had to move down to the smallest chain ring on my crank in order to get this load going and to keep it going without any problems.
On the way home, we noticed a very interesting cloud. It’s not something I would have seen driving in a car and I’m sure it’s not something people in cars today saw.
Again, my camera doesn’t do it justice. That cloud was just awesome. It made me happy to be on a bike so that I could see it.
As we were headed home, we came across a Corvette with a little boy in the passenger seat. You could see the excitement on his face when he saw us, in full gear, towing a trailer. I must say, when your son thinks a bicycle is cooler than your sports car, you might want to re-evaluate your transportation choice.
Saturday was our regular CU ride. There was no way we would miss it. The weather was too nice. We headed over to El Patio and had some breakfast. I had a last minute adjustment made to my rear derailluer before heading out. There’s nothing like mis-shifts to make your ride a drag.
We headed out, into the wind, and took a country route. The group normally tries to keep it more “urban”, if that’s possible in sprawlandia, but today, we headed out. It was nice to see that part of Edinburg. We saw plenty of fields of greens that are about to be harvested. The smell of cilantro made me instantly crave tacos.
At the halfway point, we took a short break. Across the street from the Stripes we were at, a heard of goats was grazing on the side of the road. I couldn’t help but think of cabrito for lunch. Maybe another day.
We then proceeded back into town, but only after stopping at the birding center, where we took some group photos. I don’t have any handy right now.
Next stop, market days in downtown. It’s something the group always does. We stop every month. It’s our little way of putting a little money into the local economy.
It was then time to run some errands. Both Deby and I needed to go to the bike shop for some items. A friend of ours from the CU group also needed to go. The more the merrier and safer. Four of us embarked over to McAllen to Bicycle World to get what we needed. It was a hard ride there because of the wind. It wasn’t impossible though. We just needed one short stop to grab some water.
Since we had been biking since 10 and it was now nearing 4, it was definitely time to seek out some food. After a coin toss, Le Lai was our next stop. Nothing like some Asian cuisine to fuel us up for the ride back to Edinburg.
Our day wasn’t done though. Once we got back to into Edinburg, we had to stop over at the pharmacy. We decided to just go through the drive through.
After 38 miles, we finally made it home. What a day. I have to admit, I was pretty worn out when I got home. All that wind and hauling around the trailer really did me in. I just look at it as though it was a workout. It wasn’t that tough though. The next morning, we were back on the saddle and ready for another 40+ mile journey over to Bensten State Park. More on that trip later.
Being that it’s Friday, and I don’t have to work tomorrow, it was time for some night cycling. We met up with some CU members at our go to food joint for a pre-ride meal. After some delicious food and conversation, we headed out on an Edinburg jaunt.
Of course, you should never ride without doing some pre-ride maintenance. It’s always a good idea to make sure your tires are properly inflated.
We headed out into the cool night and cruised around some old Edinburg neighborhoods. Of course I had an ulterior motive, I’m still looking for a house within the center of town, and what better way to scope out real estate than on a bike. It was great. I didn’t find anything, but the search isn’t over.
After riding for almost 45 minutes, we headed over to Coffee Zone for some coffee and dessert. What’s the point of riding if you can’t have any cake? If riding to eat cake is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
We all said adieu, until tomorrow morning. Our normal CU ride is on Saturday mornings. If you are interesting in some urban cycling that is isn’t for hammerheads, visit www.ciclistasurbanos.org and join us for one of our rides.
I like to think that these occasional night rights are our own little Critical Mass rides. We don’t have enough people to really make that a reality, but hey, it’s what we have.
Today was the last day we’ll see the sun rising on our way to work. With DST starting this weekend, we’ll be biking in the dark on Monday. This is when rear lights become an absolute must.
I can’t stop recommending the PDW Radbot 1000. If anyone asks me about what rear light they should use, I advise buying the PDW 10 times out of 10. It’s an awesome light.
I’ve had to stop on the way to work and I tell my wife I’ll catch up. I’ve been at least a half a mile back before I get back to pedaling, and I can see her light flashing very brightly. If I can see it that far away, while the sun is in my field of vision, you can be assured that it’s a bright light that is visible by all.
Now finally got a nice and meaty day this week. It was one of those days that we had things to do after work.
We attended a planning meeting for the Walk N Rolla festival that will be taking place in Edinburg in April. If you haven’t heard about it, you will, or you need to find out about it. It’s going to be great.
We rode over the meeting, which wasn’t far. It just so happened to be across campus. It took all of 2 minutes to get there.
It was great not being the only people who arrived by bike, or by an alternative form of transportation, such as walking. I haven’t asked permission to name names, so I won’t post them.
After the meeting, we biked over to El Pato for a late dinner. Again, pretty close, but that’s OK. That’s what makes bicycling a really viable form of transportation.
We ate, we talked, and had a great time. I always like eating with other cyclists because bicycle advocacy always comes up during the conversation. It gets me fired up and inspired to do more.
We headed home and had a nice wind behind us. It was almost too easy.
Here’s a photo of my wife pulling up to the house with all her lights on. My phone’s camera isn’t the best in low light situations, but here it is anyway.
Today was the first day I couldn’t do something that I may or may not have normally done. It’s just not feasible to try and do it either.
I just don’t feel like trying to bike across two cities to eat some lunch. Would I like, sure, why not, but it’s just not going to work. I don’t feel like I should take extra time off of work just to eat lunch. Oh well, I wouldn’t say that this makes a car-free life impossible.
When asked why I wasn’t going, I explained my 31 day challenge and the rules. There were some creative suggestions on how to circumvent the rules.
1. Tie a rope behind the car and hold on to it while you ride your bike.
Both dangerous and against the rules. I must get places under my own power.
2. Hook up a trainer in the bed of a truck and pedal the whole way to the restaurant.
See answer to option 1.
3. Just don’t tell anybody you rode in car.
I could do this, but I would know I’m cheating. Of course, if I did this, I’d be an instant politician. Do what I say, not as I do.
I was also asked a zinger of a question. Are you doing this for Lent? Wow, how to explain that is just not possible without a philosophical debate. I won’t get into that on this blog. It’s too complicated of an answer and has nothing to do with a bicycle.
I think I need to start a save the bicycle advocacy group. I keep seeing bicycles attached to cars. It should be a crime. Either drive, which is crazy, or ride the bike. Both have wheels that get you from point A to B and one of them is far more enjoyable.
Today, I carried an extra pannier. I had some boxes I needed to bring. I could have put them in my regular roll-top, but the shape of it isn’t conducive to holding square objects well. I got one of my grocery panniers out and put it on my rack. The flat bottom and rectangular shape make it easy to haul around small boxes.
Yesterday, everything was going to plan until…well, it’s not that ominous. I never remember anyone’s birthday, except for mine and my wife’s, but I was reminded that it was the eve of someone’s birthday. Crap, I didn’t have a gift or anything, and it would probably be in my best interest to get this person something.
But rewind, everything was easy breezy, as usual. The ride in to work was uneventful as was the ride home. As soon as I got home, I changed clothes, it was hot and windy and my work clothes just weren’t going to cut it. I needed some shorts and sneakers. I set out to McAllen, solo, right into the belly of the beast.
I had to make a quick stop at a friends house, but that wasn’t quick. It took a little longer than usual, but hey, that’s life. I continued south into McAllen and got what I needed to get.
Instead of avoiding 10th street, I rode right up it to get back to Edinburg. If I’m going to prove that the bicycle is a viable form of transportation, I need to prove that you can ride it anywhere. As I approach what I refer to as the belly of the beast, the intersection of 10th and Trenton, I could tell this was going to be interesting. Many a truck, surprisingly not cars, would put the pedal to the floor to get around me to get into the turning lane. What is it about chilli wagon trucks that makes the drivers a-holes? Or is the drivers of those trucks that makes the actual vehicle an a-hole? We maybe never know. Real research needs to be done on this, right after we cure all the diseases of the world.
Of course, I can never remember to take pictures. I keep my phone in my pocket to make it easy to do this, but I never remember. I’m going to need a photography intern or something. You must follow me 24-7 and photograph all my travels. To apply, ride your bike over to my office.
I did manage to take one picture though. I stopped on 107 to take a photo of the sun making it’s descent in the western sky. I knew it my best chance to capture it’s magnificence.
I forgot to mention a very exciting sighting yesterday. When I ride, I usually never see anybody, and if I’m traveling what many would consider a long distance, the sightings are even more rare. It’s probably because of the lack of bicycle infrastructure. As I was travelling down Jackson, I actually somebody biking. What’s even more exciting is that it was the middle of the day and the person wasn’t part of Team Spandex.
I caught up to the gentlemen and said hello. We had a brief 10 second conversation, but I had to get going so I told him that it was great to see somebody else riding and to keep it up.
Started off with the normal commute to work. It was a little warmer than it has been and the humidity seemed to be high. I’m not looking forward to those 100% humidity mornings. It not only makes the ride a little rough, but it makes your day at work hard. Even if we drove on those days, you get sweaty and sticky just walking between buildings. At least on the bike, you create a little breeze for yourself to cool you down.
Anyway, I digress, the day was busy. Rode to work. I had to leave about 12:30 to head over to Doctors Hospital. I think I left a little too early. I needed to be there by 1, and I got there at 12:50. Of course, it never hurts to be a little early. So yeah, 20 minutes from UTPA to DHR. I would say that’s a feat worth mentioning.
Did what I needed to do and headed back to campus to take care of a few things before leaving early for the day. I was asked, along with my wife, to speak during a presentation by the Sierra Club. The topic was Cool Cities and urban planning. We were there to provide a little info on our car dependent to car-free lifestyle change. Of course, I used the opportunity to get a little preachy, but hey, I had the floor and I wasn’t going to waste it. I think the students seemed to be pretty receptive about biking. In fact, a student talked to me after the class and we talked about how far he lives from campus and from his job. It wasn’t far at all and he did say he would think about biking in the near future. I hope he wasn’t just being nice.
Since today is Tuesday, I had to stay for class tonight. Deby headed out solo and enjoyed a nice and casual ride home. I tend to make her ride fast, so when she’s by herself, she likes to slow down and enjoy the ride a little more.
Class got out a little early tonight, so that’s why I’m writing this tonight instead of tomorrow morning. Time to hit the road and fire up my lights for some high visibility biking.
I need to remember to take more photos. I’ll try, starting tomorrow.
Nothing exciting to report for Monday. We went to work and then headed home. There wasn’t anything planned nor was there anything errands or such to be done. Besides, I needed to finish up some meals for the week. Those entomatadas weren’t gonna make themselves.
My wife wanted me to also post what we did when we got home. Upon arrival, we took a little breather before cooking dinner as well start cooking a few items for meals during the week. We also had time to watch a movie before bed.
So yeah, we had plenty of time to do things. The bikes did not cramp our time yesterday.
Sunday is pretty routine for us. It’s our day to ride all over and run our weekly errands. It usually starts with a trip out the recycling center and this Sunday was no different. We loaded up the trailer the night before and had it ready to go for the morning.
In the trailer, we have a good mix of recyclables that we were taking. Cardboard on the bottom with glass and plastics on top. With everything ready to go, we embarked on a full day of biking.
First stop, breakfast. It’s important to have fuel for your bike, in the form of delicious food. We rode over to El Patio Cafe and had some barbacoba to get us started for the day. With that and coffee, we were ready.
I took the photos after we ate most of our food. I always seem to remember to take a picture too late.
Next stop, the recycling center. It was early, 9 a.m. and we were the only ones there. We unloaded our trash and headed out.
Since it was such a great day, we did a little touring around Edinburg. We’re always on the lookout for great place to live within the center of the city. We didn’t see anything that caught our eye so we stopped over at Cenizo Park and enjoyed the stupendous day. Of course, we were the only ones there as well. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why nobody was out and about. I saw a lot of cars, but I didn’t see anybody walking or riding. Where was everybody? Or why was everyone content with being locked in their steel cages on wheels? To quote someone whose name escapes me, “Cars man, why?”
We couldn’t stay there all day, though I wouldn’t have minded that, so we headed home to pick up our dog. On the ride home, we saw quite a few cyclists. Most of them were part of Team Spandex, but that’s OK. It was too nice of a day to give them any flack. My wife commented that it’s exciting to see other cyclists, especially ones we don’t know. I have to agree with that.
Like a lot of families, we have a weekly meal that everyone goes to. Our day for this is Sunday. It’s just a convenient day for everyone. Of course, we rode there, it’s not far. We just loaded up our dog in the trailer and headed out. He enjoys riding with us, he’s a sniffer, so all the smells on the way to McAllen really get him excited.
We spent some time at my parents and then headed out. There were still things to be done that day. We rode back home to drop off our dog and to pick up some clothes that have become to big for me as well as plan our menu and grocery list for the week. We loaded up the clothes and headed to the donation bin at Lowes. As we pulled into, the donation bin was nowhere to be found. I went in to inquire about it and found that the employees didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. I know that the bin used to be there, I’ve deposited things in it before. We continued up the road to Wal-Mart. I know I’ve seen one there and low and behold, there it was. We dropped off about 20 shirts of mine and a few items Deby had.
Next stop, H-E-B. After a quick ride there, we locked up the bikes and headed in to pick up what we needed for the week with our list in hand. As we headed in, we noticed another bike there. It’s usually a rare site, but it was nice to see.
With about 50 pounds of groceries in tow, yeah, it was one of those weeks, we headed home to some much deserved rest. It didn’t last long, as I immediately jumped into cooking mode. Lunches and dinners won’t prepare themselves.
With a full day of errands to run and things to do, we racked up 28.5 miles. It felt like a lot because of the trailer full of cargo, but it wasn’t hard. We were able to make it home with plenty of time before sunset. Of course, night riding isn’t an issue since we’re fully decked out with a killer lighting setup.
I guess my point is that it’s possible to do a lot on a bike and not sacrifice any time spent on any one thing.
Today posed the first real challenge to our car-free month. The forecast called for a thunderstorm in the afternoon, so needless to say, we packed our rain gear and headed out. Saturdays are always reserved for the Ciclistas Urbanos rides and today was no exception. The group participated in the Edinburg on Wheels event hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. It was nice to see so many active winter Texans take part in the event. I hope I’m still riding when I’m pushing 80 years old.
The ride was short, 5 miles, so we decided to head out and do some more riding. We met up with some friends at municipal park and watched one of their kids play soccer. It was turning out to be a nice day, until the wind started. We could tell a storm was coming, so we threw on our rain gear and headed out. That didn’t last long. As the storm was blowing in, the wind became too much to handle, so we stopped off and took shelter under one of the pavilions that the stock show was taking place at. The wind continued, but the rain never seemed to arrive.
That’s where I made my first mistake. I told Deby that we should head out. We couldn’t sit around all day waiting for the storm. I thought we could beat it home. My second mistake was taking off my rain gear. Since it wasn’t raining, I packed it in my bag. The wind was still strong, and there was a light drizzle, if that, and everything seemed to be ok, until we got back into town.
The sky opened and there was no turning back. We trudged on through the rain. This wasn’t normal rain though, it was cold and it seemed to sting once it hit the skin. Maybe it was acid rain, doubt it though. I got absolutely drenched, but Deby remained dry. She kept her rain suit on. We rode over to UTPA and waiting under a canopy in front of the building where I work and waited for the rain to die down. It only took all of 30 seconds for that to happen.
We got back on the bikes and headed over to the meat market. Lunch wasn’t going to happen without ingredients. I picked up a few things and we headed home. Once we arrived, I saw the devastation. Riding in the rain without fenders isn’t advisable, unless you have a change of clothes. The back of my shirt was completely covered in road grime. It went into the wash right away. I can’t let my favorite polit bureau shirt get ruined.
I must say, my pannier performed as advertised. Everything in my bag, including my delicate electronics, remained 100% dry. Not a drop inside. Roll top bags FTW.
Bike maintenance is extremely important after a wet ride. There’s nothing like dirt and water to ruin a drivetrain on a bike. The bikes have been cleaned and are ready to attack the tasks at hand.
Tomorrow should be interesting as well. I need to take a whole lot of trash over to the recycling center. I need to take clothes to one of those charity drop boxes. I need to go to my parents for lunch and I also need groceries. It’ll be a 30+ mile day.
Today was an all over town kind of day. I got to wake up a whole hour later than my usual 5:30 a.m. wake up call. Deby headed out to work and I stayed behind and had some cereal before I headed over to Doctors Hospital. That was an interesting ride. Wind the whole way, except for the turn down Dove. I went from barely being able to maintain 9.5 mph to 18 in an instant. Too be fair, I did have my trailer with me.
Upon arrival, I found there to be no bicycle parking amenities. I wasn’t expecting to find them anyway. I chained my bike to a tree and headed in. My bike was still there when I came out. Concern was expressed, not by me, about my decision to chain my bike up outside to a tree. I was fairly confident that nobody would steal it. It’s not like it was a healthcare facility, strictly sick care. I doubt anyone there would dare try to ride.
After my eventful morning, I headed over to my parents house to wait for a package I’ve been expecting, but not without a stop for some fuel at Whataburger. After about an hour of waiting for the UPS driver to show, I heard the honk of the horn. He had arrived bearing the gift of a new set of wheels for my bike. I promptly loaded them in my trailer and headed to the bike shop.
Got to the bike shop as fast as my legs would get me there and had my new wheels installed. They are a true work of art. Of course, I can’t ever go there without spending some money, so I picked up a few things. They were all needed of course.
I got back on my bike and headed home. It was a very nice ride with the wind behind me. I ran into a fellow Ciclistas Urbanos member on the way back to Edinburg, so I had company on the way home.
Since my bike computer was on the fritz, I’m going to estimate my miles today at 20. It was probably more, trust me, I was everywhere, but I’ll go with 20. Gas today was $3.699 and I saved $4.11 in gas. Not bad at all.
It would have been hard to actually commute the exact savings for today. I didn’t go to work, but Deby did. I had to run around town. To get the exact amount, I would have had to ride to work with Deby, turned around, done what I needed to do, and then had back to work to pick up Deby. It would have simulated driving our one car. Oh well, maybe next time.
Had to run over to McAllen after work to visit my parents after work. It was in the schedule though. My oldest brother happened to stop by as well. He just bought a new Ford Super Duty pickup. Needless to say, I was disappointed.
While we were eating dinner with my parents tonight, the conversation inevitably drifted towards the high gas prices. My brother told me, “You’ll be paying $10 for gas before too long.” To which I replied, “I won’t, you will, but I won’t.” My family tends to forget that I don’t drive.
I wished I would have remembered to take a picture of my bike next to the new truck. Maybe next time.
The ride home was pretty standard today, except for two stops. We had to stop at the hardware store to get some 1/2” bolts. We also needed some milk, so we stopped at a local market that is on our way home and picked up a gallon.
On our first day of car-free month, both my wife and I had to commute home in the dark. She, earlier than me, but still in the dark. I don’t get out of class until a little before 10. I then walk across campus to my office and retrieve my bike. It’s about 10:15 p.m. when I finally make my way home. I have a pretty good lighting strategy that works for me.
I use a PDW Radbot 1000 for my rear light. It’s a bright light that can be seen quite a ways away, and with it’s crazy flash mode, you can’t miss it. I like this light so much, that I got two. One for me and one for my wife. For my front lighting, I use a two pronged approach. I use a MiNewt 150 mounted on my handlebars for illuminating the road in front of me and I use a MiNewt 250 mounted to my helmet. The helmet light helps me see further in front of me as well as in a way you probably never considered. Since the light is mobile, I’m able to move it’s beam to where I need it, and I’ve found that I need it most for people turning onto the road in front of me. If I see that they don’t seem to be looking in my direction, or at me as I approach, I shine the light right into their car. It’s a super bright light that you just can’t miss. It gets their attention. They know I’m approaching when they see it light up their cars interior.
An important thing to consider if and when you decide to live partially or fully car-free is your ability to plan and schedule. You don’t have to be good at it at all. In fact, my planning and scheduling skills left a lot to be desired when I first started this. Sure, I knew how to plan things in a general sort of way.
Living car-free does require planning. My wife and I plan our whole week as best we can on Sunday and make decisions days in advance for things that we used to just do on a whim.
Deciding what to eat is probably one of the most important things we work out ahead of time. If you are the type of person who drives 20 miles out of their way just to get something to eat just because you got a craving, this lifestyle isn’t for you. I don’t personally think there is anything so delicious to eat that I must have it at the exact moment I think about it. There is delicious food out there, but it can wait. Besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Our grocery store runs are thought out and menus are thought up and lists are made before we set out. While there, we may pick up a few extras, but for the most part, we have a menu setup for the whole week. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are set and very unlikely to change. Just to we’re clear though, not every meal is prepared by me. There are slots on the schedule that we put in trips to a local eatery. It’s just more convenient for what we’re doing that day and it gives us an opportunity to support local business.
Our schedule of things to do isn’t cut and dry. Our days aren’t too routine. It’s not home, work, and back home all the time. I’m taking a class this semester, and my wife likes to attend local civic events. She likes to attend the city council meetings to bring up biking issues. These events are also preplanned.
Throughout the month, we’ll be posting things and places we went to. Whether it be the movies, a concert, or just a shopping trip. You’ll see how it is possible to live without a car. And yes, all this stuff is planned. It’s on the calendar.
Everyday, I’ll be posting our gas savings. I’ll be calculating using an online calculator provided by bikecommuters.com. You can find the calculator here, http://www.bikecommuters.com/gas-saving-calculator/. I’ll be using 18 mpg for my car. I looked that up on Edmunds. It’s the city average for my car. In my experience though, that figure should be much lower. In the city, my car gets horrible mileage. I blame the AWD.
I’ll be getting the price daily from the gas station that is halfway between my home and work. The price might seem high, but I have to use super unleaded fuel because my car has a turbo.
Car-free month began this morning without a hitch. Nice day to ride. I mis-judged the temp and wore shorts. I would have just dressed for work had I known it was this cool out. The sun was shining bright right into our eyes. That won’t last long seeing as DST starts in less than two weeks.
I was recently asked why I’m going to be taking my bike commuting to such an extreme level. I was asked why I didn’t take a balanced approach to it, somewhere in the middle between only car and only bike. What I was responded was, if I want to convince people that using a bicycle as a form an alternative form of transportation was feasible, I had to go to the absolute extreme. What I’m trying to do here is to have people see what I do, and say, hey, I can probably do that also, but somewhere in the middle.
Besides, I’m nearly car-free as it is. I just put some gas in my car this past Friday, and not very much. I hadn’t purchased any gas since 2010. That should put things in perspective.
I’m hoping my car-free month starts off without any problems. Right now, I don’t have a bike. It’s in the shop. I’ve had some issues with my back wheel staying true. My car-free month might be starting off with some walking. It would be a 2.5 mile walk to work, each way, and 8 miles to the bike shop to pick up my bike when it’s ready. Not really a big deal, except for the lack of sidewalks for most of those miles. It’s hard to be a pedestrian.
In the days leading up to the car free month, I’ll be posting pictures and descriptions of my gear. Today, I’m going to start with posting the contents of my, David’s, pannier contents. This is the stuff that is always in my everyday pannier.
1. Patch kit 2. Spare tube 3. 26 in 1 tool 4. Assorted bungee cords 5. Cycling gloves 6. Cycling cap (you never know when your hair will get too gnarly) 7. Office keys 8. Lights
On top of what I carry in my pannier, I also carry a few things in my shorts or jeans pockets.
It may seem like a lot of things to carry everyday, and at first it felt like a lot. After a while, it just felt right to have these things and I tend to feel off if I don’t have one or more of the items.
Two days ago, a huge wrench got tossed into gears of life. Things happen and there’s really nothing you can do to prepare for these types of things. At first, I thought about cancelling my little endeavor, but I’ve decided against it. It’s just one more challenge to overcome.