Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It is so much nicer to ride -- usually!

I normally go in to work around 9:30 AM. But for the past two days, I have been an early bird. While it is nice to start early and finish (try to) early, as a VC, I pay a price, because of the time at which I leave home to go to work (and on the way back too, unfortunately.

I am sure you guessed it! For what it is worth, here is a quick peek! What you are looking at is the line-up of cars on Valley Ranch Parkway caused by back-up at Valley View Lane and Riverside. It is usually not this bad later in the morning, say around 9:15 or so.
I usually don't mind these drivers' manners or lack thereof and riding along with them. While this part of my route to work is not the most challenging, the harder part is just down the road, at the intersection of Riverside and Vally View Lane. The video below should give you an idea of this craziness!

Of late though, I have been wondering, is it really worth messing with this? Should I take a saner and safer route, perhaps take the Campion Trail to La Villita, instead of trying to maneuver through this mess? That's exactly what I did this morning!
Is that better or is this better? I would like to call the picture below, "Galloping Gikma (pronounced Jikma or GCMA) :)
Even the safer route has a price to pay. First off, it is a bit of a detour, which is not something El Groucho is ready for in the morning. Secondly, I have to climb this 6% grade hill. Did I fess-up that I am not a big fan of hills, especially if they are on my commuting route?
I did not mind the detour or the 6% grade this morning. I survived them just fine.

This evening's commute back home was a different story. On the same route, this evening, I came close to being hit TWICE within 10 minutes. In both cases, I did signal, follow all the rules and I am quite confident that I was visible.

In the first case, the first guy who almost hit me was driving a Caddy De Ville. I was on La Villita, headed towards Campion Trail. The two lane road becomes a one-lane road, as it nears the trail. I moved over from the ending lane (right) to the inner lane. The Caddy guy honked at me and nearly missed me; put the pedal to the metal and drove away "victoriously". I was annoyed. I made the exception and treated him to a finger. My bad perhaps, call me a donkey, but I too am human, what can I say?

In the second case, three cars honked at the Olds Achieva, which almost hit me, on Valley Ranch Parkway East (I was headed towards Cimmaron/North). Mind you, this is a 2/3 lane road and usually most people are courteous. Cyclists are almost dime a dozen on this road, on many days!

I didn't break any laws! I followed all the rules to a tee!

Another fine example of lack of education on the drivers part? Or is it the Mercury Retrograde??

Again, for someone who is not a native Dallas-ite, I say this behavior is new to me and I haven't seen much like it elsewhere :(

Y'all be careful out there!

Peace :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tubus Rack and The Tasty Treats - A Short Story!

Once upon a fine fall afternoon, a man tied a few bungee cords on this rear rock and set out to the market place in Irving, Texas. It was the first day of fall and the air felt nice and cool. The birds were out singing their usual rap music, the squirrels performing the moon walk and all that good stuff was going on. The skies were blue and clear. The man on the bicycle hummed his favorite tune and kept pedaling towards the market place.
Upon getting to the market place, the man remembered that he needed food for his two starving 4-legged children. So, he went to a store that sold food for 4-legged children. Once he was at the store, he found that there was no place to park his vehicle. After thinking for a moment, he rolled his vehicle into this particular store.

Once inside the store, the first person our man ran into was the store manager. Being a person of good manners, our man decided he would ask the manager about parking his bike inside the store. So, the man said to the manager, "Do you mind if I park my bicycle here for a moment? I am here to shop at your store". The manager replied sternly, "If only for a moment, yeah sure". The man said, "I am here to shop at your store...". The manager did not say anything. So, the man asked the manager, "Do you have a bike rack?". The manager replied, "No, I don't have a bike rack". The puzzled man asked, "So where do you think I should park?". The manager said, "Out there". And our man said, "There is no proper structure out there I can lock my bike to". Then he moved on to fetch food for his starving children.

Having been to this particular store, many times before this instance, it took our man a few seconds to find what he was looking for. So, he picked up the 40 pound bag of food, paid for it at the counter and placed it on the rear rack of his vehicle and secured it with the bungee cords he had brought with him. At this point the formerly stern store manager bid him goodbye saying, "Be careful out there".
Then the man parked the bike outside this 4-legged childrens' food store and took a picture of his trusty steed. As he did that, he got carried away too much and tears rolled down his cheeks :)
Given all this happened out in public, the man was a bit embarrassed. He took out his handkerchief and wiped his tears away. Then, he put on a cheery face, hopped back on his vehicle and rode back home.

When the man got back home, the two starving children were overjoyed to see their father come back with a large bag of their favorite food. They could not contain themselves. They hung around the bicycle and the bag of food until their father removed the bag from the bicycle rack, poured the contents of the bag into their food container. Then, the children were really overjoyed because their father fed them for the day.
One of the children was so happy, she even posed next to the bicycle!
Usually, the man took good photographs. But today his old hands were not very steady. Instead of posting not-so-great pictures of his 4-legged children, the man decided to include some other pictures of his two children, which he had taken in the past.
This made the children and their father very happy!

So, here is the moral of the story:

Man who ride bike bring dog food home on bike! No need car!

Peace :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Follow this simple rule invented by a stay-at-home dad...

Well, there is no simple trick invented by a mom or a dad here...I just don't like that caption...It is all over the net, especially on ads...

Here is what this post is really about!

People going through your panniers at stores, while you are not watching! GRRRRRRrrrr....

So, here is what happened.

A few weeks ago, I was at REI Dallas checking out the tents and stuff, on sale. I usually park my bike inside REI. The great folks at REI do not mind if you bring your bike in. They don't bother you if you park your bike inside the store, where there is not much traffic, and browse. I am doing my usual Saturday browsing at the great and much coveted stuff as usual. In the corner of my eye I see this woman is admiring my bike. Well, at least that's what I thought she was doing.

The next thing you know, she unzips my handlebar bag and starts going through my stuff like it is her own! I couldn't believe it. She even went on to check out my camera. Sheesh!

So, I walk up to her and say, "Excuse me, it my personal stuff. Please do not go through it". She shrugs and mumbles some garbled stuff in a language I can't understand. For the record, I can understand most things said in an intelligible way, irrespective of the language. Well, I don't speak all the world's languages...Well, you get the idea!

Anyway, what's with these rude people?

I can understand people checking out stuff that is on display. But for Pete's sake, can't you tell someone's personal stash from Advertising/Display material at a store?

Here is why I was livid:
  1. There was no way to mistake my bike for a Display Bike. It was quite dirty.
  2. There was a half-eaten protein bar inside the handlebar bag.
  3. There was my stash of almonds and walnuts.
And, the list goes on and on.

I was pretty disgusted at this not-so-nice person's behavior.

And, here is what I have resorted to.

Hopefully, this and my constantly watching my bike, will keep unwanted intruders away!

In addition, I am also planning to get a small combination lock!

You guys take care of your steeds and your stash now, ya hear?

Peace :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dinotte for De Naughty?

Just had to use some goofy title for the post today! But, I wanted to post videos of my Dinotte rear light (Dinotte 140R-AA) and the Dinotte Front light (Dinotte 200L-AA-S, Helmet Mounted).

To record these videos, I basically turned on the lights and started recording using my Oregon Scientific helmet camera. Then I started walking toward the light being videoed.

These are some of my very first videos and so how naive I am in terms of technology probably shows all over it!

Peace :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Decent Brew!

If you are near Alpha and Welch in Dallas, have a nice cuppa brew at Saxby's Coffee...yummy!

I tried a couple of bagels and they were yummy also!

They also sell other pastries, cookies, fancier coffees than the regular coffee that I drank :)

Disclaimer: I have no commercial interest in any of these products/enterprises that I write about in my blog!

Peace :)

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Uno Lane or Dos Lanes?

In Irving, I ride west on Cimmaron Trail on many evenings, especially on my way back from work. I always find a car or two parked on right lane in the evenings. So, I figured it was a parking lane. But then, I have also been passed on the right by some drivers, recently.

While I find these drivers' irritating, I also have been wondering if there is more than one official lane on Cimmaron, heading west. If that mythical second lane was a parking lane, can you use it pass someone? I drive on this street but when I do, I have always limited myself to the inner lane. Hmmm...I don't know...
What do you guys think?

Peace :)

When bad things happen to good Brooks!

Yesterday, I did the cardinal sin of all. Instead of throwing my chewing gum in the trash, while eating my apple, I put it on my nice Brooks B-135 saddle, thinking it will be only for a few minutes. Well, it only took me a few minutes to eat the apple but what happened afterward was a totally different story.

This is what really happened. I rode to REI Dallas yesterday and I was looking around for quite a while. I checked out bunches of tents and sleeping bags and some bicycle gear. I was browsing for probably an hour. Well, all that intense researching made me want a snack. So, I stepped out of REI and sat down on the bench and got all excited about snacking on the apple I had packed. Just prior to the snack attack, I had started chewing on a couple of pieces of gum. So, Mr. Scrooge who did not want to waste the gum decided to place it on the saddle and enjoy his apple.

The apple was nice and tasty. So, I jumped back on the saddle and started riding. As I was exiting REI Dallas' parking lot, I suddenly realized the gum wasn't in my mouth anymore !!

That's did happen and it was a nasty mess :(
Having never had this nasty experience, I quickly researched ways to remove chewing gum from leather. There were several hits when I searched this topic on Google but the one I thought was the best recommended that put some ice cubes in freezer bag and rub the saddle with it. The idea behind this technique was that the gum would become brittle at which point it can either be picked by hand or scrapped gently with a toothbrush. The ice cubes when they were inisde the freezer bag did not do it all for me. I actually took some ice cubes out and held them directly on the gum to get the gum to become somewhat brittle. I did use a toothbrush to remove the hardened gum pieces. I finished off by applying some Brooks Proofide.
Some people caution against getting the leather wet by placing the ice cubes directly on it. But, in all honesty, I do not think it is going to affect a Brooks saddle adversely. My dad's bike is over 50 years old and we still have the original Brooks saddle (can't remember if it is a B-33 for sure) in pretty much usable condition.

The gum also almost ruined my nice Ex-Officio convertible pants. I put my shorts part of the convertible pants in the freezer for about 10 hours and then scrapped the gum off with a knife. I had to repeat the process once more to get all of the gum off my shorts.

I suppose the moral of the story is : Brooks is thicker than gum but gum is stickier ...

or something like that :)

Peace :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Charge your iPod while riding your bike?

I first saw a post about Busch Mueller's e-werk dynamo based charging widget at EcoVelo. The idea sounds fantastic! Charge your electronics while you ride your bike using the bike's dynamo / hub dynamo! Now, who would not want this feature?

I have tried using a solar charger to charge my electronics while on the road before but I did not have a lot of success with it. May be because of factors beyond my control, may be not enough sunshine in Texas, who knows?

I have been contemplating installing a hub dynamo for my bikes for a while now. So, this gadget got my attention tonight. Would it not be great if you did not have to carry all them silly chargers when you were traveling on your bike or bike touring? You could charge your GPS, listen to your iPod (may be on speakers), charge your cell phone, charge your batteries, or make your toast :)

Well, I understand the product is just out and there may be glitches. Nevertheless, I am pumped!

I don't want to spoil it for you. Read to your heart's content here. Please see page 25 of 132!

Peace :)

Photo courtesy of Eurobike