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When you commute on a regular basis there sometimes crop up some minor inconveniences.  You know those things that don’t ruin the day but you wish had not happened.

Last week and this week I have been running into these things and since I have had 2 situations I am waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak. Bad things always come in 3’s right?

For instance, last week while on the way to work I noticed that my back wheel felt wonky.  Wonky is a vital word to describe many an ailment.  When I stopped and checked it out I noticed a broken spoke.  Since I was on my way to work I continued on my way cautiously.  I ended up taking the trolley home and dropping my bike off at the shop to get the spoke replaced.

This week it was the weather.  I check the weather report before I leave in the morning and look out the window.  Foggy and Windy was the report and the look out the window confirmed that.  Unfortunately once on my way, it turned into drizzle.  I was not dressed for drizzle.  I looked like a drowned rat once at work.

Really neither issue was killer or over the top.  Minor inconveniences to be sure. But again, what will the third one be….? Hopefully not verLooking up Broadway on a misty morningy bad.

All that being said, I am usually smiling while I ride.  Can’t help it really, I love riding.  Even today with the drizzle, I was happy to be out, and I had a tail wind most of the way.  Monday I arrived for the ferry trip to Coronado early.  I was able to get a few foggy shots up Broadway.  Oh the things you see on a commute.

Today in the drizzle many of the birds were looking to settle down, saw an egret swoop in over the calm bay waters and land knee deep in the bay.  It is almost always a great day to ride.

Except for a few little inconveniences.

I had a short break from cycling. I was away. In part physically away but mostly demands for my time got in my way of riding. Work, family, health. These things play parts on our lives and sometimes, something has gotta give, as the saying goes.

I hurt my leg, not sure how, seems with age things happen for nary a reason. My knee hurt and I knew if I were to go riding it would get worse. Since healing is a bit slower with age I gave myself a rest.

Then work priorities decided I needed to be at 2 or 3 different locations per day, but not only my regular offices, I was required to go to a very remote location. I already ride about 20 miles each way and this was another 10 or so. Not to mention it was a location without showers or changing rooms. And so another week down the drain.

Finally, time for a little family fun. We did a road trip to North Shore Tahoe. Some spring boarding, skiing, tubing and skating. The snow was wonderful, the cold was tolerable and the trip was fantastic. My daughter, with a learners permit, even helped me and my wife with the driving. Of special note my younger son was terrified that his older sister was driving and wanted to know if there was a bus he could take for the portion she was driving.

I am here blogging so you can see we made it without incident.

Tahoe is beautiful. I found out a few things along the way, that what road trips are for, fun and you might learn a thing or two.

So what did I learn, well one, Sacramento is a lot more bike friendly than when I lived there, oh so many years ago. There are miles and miles of bike lanes and bike paths. It seems being in close proximity to Davis has rubbed off.

Two, I learned that the riders in Tahoe are a hearty breed. Temps ranged from 30 to 45 during our stay, and yet there were many cyclists out and about. I saw many an errand being done around Kings Beach, Truckee and environs via bike. School kids going to and from school on bike. I saw determined riders out training up and down the mountains, well kitted for the cold and damp. Quite impressive really.

And three, I think I want to take the train along the Capital Corridor via Amtrak. The scenery is quite varied and you can get on and off along the way to explore the towns from San Jose to Auburn. Trains do continue on to Reno if that is your goal, and the views up the mountain is awe-inspiring.

So I was away from the bike. I missed riding. I healed, I watched other cyclists and I prepped my bike on my return.

Then I was back again.

Once home I was ready to ride. Needless to say 3 weeks off of the bike leaves you a bit rusty. So for the first week home I took it easy. It was perfect because the weather was wonderful and the rains have brought out an amazing array of flowers.
Flowers on the Strand
So though I was away from my bike, coming back was a fulfilling experience. To ride is freedom, it takes you miles away and miles down the road. It allows free thought. Riding lets you see and hear what neighborhoods are really about, not just the visual you get from the car cocoon that we normally experience.

I am glad to be back!

I was going to write about my hiatus from riding and writing, then I saw these 2 videos and I needed to share them.


Say Hi Already!

I ride the same routes, mostly, 3 times a week. I see a lot of the same folks while I am riding. Some even say Hi, which is good. I love riding, even in the rain or the wind or on days I am really really tired. I may grimace while riding cause of bad weather or other pain. But I am usually smiling especially when I see other cyclists. I try to say Hi or indicated by nod, smile or wave that we are both out and about on bikes.

I don’t understand why some folks just don’t say Hi, or Nod or Wave or anything to indicate that you are riding in the same space as they are riding.

On Mondays I ride home on Harbor Drive. There is a cyclist who rides the opposite direction about the same time each Monday. I do not know who this rider is, or what he actually looks like. I see him across 4 lanes and a median, we are both wearing cycling clothes, helmets and shades. For over 2 years if he is riding he waves across the wide wide street. I don’t know him, he doesn’t know me, but he is out and I am out, we are riding and enjoying the day. So he and I wave to each other. We acknowledge the bond of riding, the fun, the economy, the, dare I say, joy of being out on our bikes.

In contrast there are folks I pass every Wednesday on the Strand who simply ignore me. I will nod, or give the old quick, from the handlebar wave. No response, nothing. I am surprised, did I do something wrong, wave the wrong hand?, am I wearing the wrong gear?, too much gear? What?

Why not enjoy the experience with your fellow cyclists?! We are out there riding. We might be out for different reasons. I mean I am commuting, but there are folks trianing in full kits and fast bikes, folks out for exercise, other commuters, tourists and people who might be out on a one time ride cause the car is in the shop or whatever. But we are all riding.

So say Hi already, nod, wave, smile!

Beyond the basics you might want to carry some extra gear, especially on a longer commute.

I am not a fan of using backpacks while riding.  It makes me even more sweaty and I can’t see cars in my rear view mirror.  If you like backpacks, great, but for me….  put the gear on the bike.

I use 2 bags.  One is a handlebar bag and the other is a “Trunk” bag.  The trunk bag has pockets that fold down like small panniers.

That is my bike taking a ride on the Ferry.

Well, the handle bar bag is easy on and easy off.  I put my wallet and such in there.  It also has small snacks, Kleenex, extra sun glasses and odds and ends.

The Trunk bag has my lock, Rocket Shower, sun screen, tools, extra tube, and this is where I put clothes I might need at the end of my ride, also a second ride kit for the ride home.  I am not fond of putting on old smelly jersey and shorts for the ride home.

The bags allow for extra gear but also so I can stop at the store on the way home and pick up some small things. It also lets me take a lunch to work.

For more stormy climes, you might consider true panniers that are weather proof.

Minimum required gear carried on the bike.

I think every commuter should carry the following items, whether your commute is just a few miles or 20 miles like mine. This does not include the what needs to be carried for clothes and misc. This is just the basics.

1. Extra tube

2. Tube patch kit (you know, in case of that dreaded 2nd flat of the day).

3. A water bottle.

4. A small multi tool for bikes.

5. Tire irons.

6. Reflectors – Front, Back and Sides. I personally like lights front and back.

7. Air Pump, barrel style, small enough to attach to the bike.

That is a minimum, but you will want more if you are commuting a longer distance like some snacks.

A Change of Plans

I think it is very important to look around while you ride.  There is no telling when something you noticed will come in handy.  For instance, which bus routes you might cross during your commute.

Friday is a day I probably should have stayed in bed.  My commute started late, so I was riding hard.  That is the good part, since I was moving so well I made up the time and had a moment to take a snapshot of a bike store I like. Velo Cult

Velo Cult Store

So that went well.  Then I wanted a picture of another spot in Southpark, but it was garbage day so trashcans everywhere.  Well, change of plans time, I mounted my video camera on the bike and started on my way.  Two blocks later, oh damn, my chain breaks.  No kidding the chain snaps.  Little pieces of chain skittering in all directions across the road. Another change in plans.

This is where looking around pays off.  I grabbed my bike and ran back to the bus stop.  You see, I had noticed that the #2 bus travels part of my same route, then the #6 bus gets me to about a mile from my office.  The trolley then gets me to within a quarter mile of my office.

That is what happened, course I was late to work, and had a bike I could only ride downhill, but I made it to work.  I get home a buddy at work gave me a ride to the bus stop.  I took the bus down to Velo Cult.

The guys at Velo Cult were great!  Got a new chain and they put it on right away, so I could continue my commute home.  I really appreciate the service and friendlyness of the folks there.  Paul, at Velo Cult, had me try out a 29r they made.  It was fun, really rolled along easy. By the way, check out their website, the blog is really fun.

So finally, I am on the road and on my way.  I managed to make if home without further problems.

Looking around pays off, it did for me, and it made changing plans not so difficult.

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