Riding on Roads

When you are ‘known’ as an avid cyclist (and I think I qualify) you start to hear the same questions and have the same discussions time and time again.  One of the most common, here in the great northwest, is, “I guess its OK to ride in the summer, but what to you do in the winter when it rains?”  My answer is always the same, “I get wet.” I swear, to a person, I just get a blank look, a head shake, and soon a subject changer “So how bout them COUGS!”

The other most common statement is: “I’d get a bike, but I don’t have anywhere to ride it, there’s NO WAY I will ride on the road!” Continue reading “Riding on Roads”

Nope its not fair

You know, I have thought this many times over the years.  But it struck me again today during my morning bike commute.  It is much easier being a guy.  My wife and I have a joke.  After a trip to Aveda for product, she will point at her hair and say “THIS takes work!”  And I will point at what’s left of mine and say “THIS takes PERT plus!” 

I want to make sure I give her props though.  The woman doesn’t need nor use makeup.  She is gorgeous in the morning, and we have both woken up and gone straight to Starbucks, with baseball caps on.  I have known many ladies (coworkers, friends, and wives of friends) who say they would NEVER leave the house without their “face”.  So I know I am a lucky man for MANY reasons.

However, this isn’t what I mean by easier. Continue reading “Nope its not fair”

The Dilemma

So I have a curiosity question to pose to y’all today.  Did I do the right thing?  “The right thing about what?”, you may ask.  Well I’ll tell you.  The title of this blog is 10,000 Miles of Experiences, Adventures and Thoughts.  I named it that as it represented the number of miles I had traveled on my bike since since the day I bought it.

cropped-odometer.jpg

However, at the end of July that bike was stolen.  Gone. Poof!  (I still hope he got hit by a truck, but I’m not bitter!) So, I replaced the bike.   Continue reading “The Dilemma”

Reputations

Have you ever sat and thought about what people think of when they think of you? Or, what events or things cause people to think about you? (Ever hear someone say: I heard this yesterday, and you totally popped into my head!!) To me, this second question is the most accurate reflection of your reputation.

Personally, I find I have quite of few different “reputations”. Continue reading “Reputations”

Don’t Let the Bastards Win

I remember when I was a kid, and the US boycotted the Olympics.  My dad was PISSED!  He looked at me more than once that year and said “Never let the bastards win!  There is always someone in the world who’s going to hurt people, or do something bad.  If you let them scare you and keep you from doing what you would normally do, then they win!”

I thought about that a lot today.  The bastards did something that was pure  evil today.  And for the record, I hope they hunt them down and hang em high!  Preferably on TV for everyone to see!

But that’s not the point of my post today.  My point is simply this: None of the people who were hurt or killed today want you to give these bastards any satisfaction at all!.   Do NOT let them disrupt your lives!  Hell if I was in Boston, I’d be walking downtown just to spit in their faces.  Yall are NOT going to coop me up.

I am 3000 miles away though, so in my case I decided:  “To hell with the people who did this!” I could either sit and watch news people interview each other and flat make stuff up, or I could go on with my life.  I chose plan B.  It was too wet to ride outside, so I hit the shed for 16 miles of hard pedaling, while watching Keanu Reaves in the Replacements!  That movie ALWAYS makes me pedal hard, and I was able to release frustration!

I am not telling anyone to forget or move on from what happened today.  Quite the contrary, we all need to keep an eye out to keep this from happening again!   However, if we stop doing what we love out of concern, or fear, or hatred or anything else, then we let the bastards win!  A month after 9/11 I was on a plane, why, because I was damned if I was going to let them stop me.  I have been in the air on 9/11s since then, again, if I don’t they win!

If you are a biker, ride and ride well, writer?  Get out pen and paper and capture your thoughts.  A baker? Time to spoil the people at work.  For the lova gawd, if you are a runner, get your shoes laced and hit the treadmill or the road. Instead of going glossy eyed in front of a TV, or avoiding the things you love, do them so your support for the runners who were affected by this.  I will lay you odds if we got the chance to ask them they would agree whole heartedly!

They would want you to follow your passions just like they were doing today, and I will guarantee, they sure as hell would tell you “DON’T let the bastards win!!”

Space, the Final Frontier… (Maybe not anymore)

Once again this has nothing to do with cycling, but one of the fun things about a blog is that the blogger gets to pick what gets posted.  (Who knows, maybe someday I will post something with a cute cat video or Kim Khardasian (yes you may hunt me down if I do!))

This though, is honestly something close to my heart, and I was reminded of it while reading the paper earlier this week.  Two of the engines for the Saturn 5 rockets that took our astronauts to the move have been recovered from the bottom of the ocean.  The good news is, one of these will most likely be donated to the museum of flight here in Seattle.  It will go great with our space shuttle training simulator we got earlier this year (I still think we should have gotten one of the real shuttles!)

The not so good part and the reason for this post?  The bottom of the ocean is where I believe our space program is at this time.  I know we have just recently landed Curiosity on Mars, and that is amazing, especially with all the discoveries it is making.  My hat is off to NASA for making this happen.  This success, though, does not make up for the fact that our astronauts now have to hitch a ride to the space station WE built.

Yes I know it is the International Space Station, and that many countries contributed to its components.  But without launches by our workhorse, the space Shuttle,

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there is flat no way that the thing would have been built!  Now, we couldn’t get there on our own if we had to! 

I grew up with men landing on the moon, Voyager, Pioneer and Viking Space probes, the future looked limitless!

This was reflected in the books and TV shows I read and saw as well!  Star Trek, Lost in Space, Space 1999. Buck Rogers in the 24th Century, the original Battlestar Galactica (I still think Starbuck should be a guy, even after watching the new ones!), Star Wars and Starblazers,  hell, even the Jetson’s showed the view of the future back then!  I read Heinlein, Asimov, Alan Dean Foster, Niven and Pournelle, all of which had the promise of us moving into space, not relying on just Earth anymore.  Reaching for and getting to the stars!

Shoot even shows like Quantum Leap or MacGyver were strong science and knowledge based shows.

Now, however, take a look at the books and movies that show the future. 

Before I go further, I need to stress that I have NO proof of what I am about to say here at all.  This just struck me as a cause and effect one day, and I have yet to shake it. 

Instead of a positive future, without the hope of moving beyond our one planet, we now get books like the “Hunger Games”.  I freely admit  I read all three books, and enjoyed them.  But my point is that I honestly think that kids now are more likely to believe that this is what will happen in the future.

Instead, of kids dreaming about being an astronaut, and making rockets out of boxes, they may think they better practice with a bow and arrow. (Not a bad skill to have at all, but not because you think the Hunger Games may occur!)  On TV, there isn’t one good Sci Fi (And I am talking space traveling Sci Fi. I LOVE “Walking Dead”!) show .  Luckily there are still good space science fiction authors writing out there, but they are vastly outnumbered by those writing books about the demise of world economy, an EMP destroying the infrastructure, and other end of the world subjects.

I even read a recent article that stated the rise of Zombie popularity is due to a lack of optimism in the future.  People think a world overrun with zombies (as long as they are one of the few humans remaining of course) is preferable to what the real future holds.  This makes me sad.

I do hold on to a couple of things though.  First, when you read or watch some of the best Space Sci Fi series, Earth is gone, but we still made it to space.  In “Firefly” (a great show!) they refer it as “Earth that was”, cuz it aint anymore.  Even Star Trek took place after a 3rd World War, and the need to overcome the aftermath.  This means there could still be hope.  Sci Fi writers have a knack for predicting the future. 

The other thing that is promising is that private companies are making moves into space.  Almost a year ago, a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft made it to the station and back.  I can only hope they keep improving and do even more!  Mainly because I will be PISSED if another country (China perhaps) makes it to the moon before we get back.  We need a modern-day Delos D. Harriman! (Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold the Moon”)  We got there first, we have dibs!

Sorry for such a long rant.  I accepted long ago that I couldn’t vacation on the moon, but I truly still had hope that my grandkids might.  Now I am not so sure….

Red Lights aren’t Supposed to be Forever!

So there you are, cruising down the road on your bike.  Enjoying the day, maybe running an errand or two, and you come to a traffic signal that turns red! Being the law-abiding cowboy (or cowgirl) that you are, you come to a complete stop, unclip from your pedals and wait for the light to turn green.

Now at this intersection you can see for MILES in either direction.  Nope no cars coming, but you are a law-abiding cyclist and you are going to wait for the light to turn.  Trouble is, this is a light with a sensor in the road that tells the light a car is waiting, and then it should turn green.  Now I ask, what is the key word in that last sentence. Yep, the key word is car (give the lady in the back row a cupie doll for coming up with it!)

The sensors in the roads are calibrated for cars.  I don’t know if its weight or a magnetic field, but it takes a car to trip them.  I’ve just recently learned that sometimes even motorcycles have troubles at these intersections.  Our law-abiding bike rider could starve to death waiting for the light to turn.

I’d like to take a second to Praise Port Townsend, WA, they have installed, and clearly marked, bike sensors for JUST this reason.  Must have been too many bikers starving to death waiting in town.

But in most towns, a cyclist has a few options:

  1. Bounce up on to the sidewalk and push the cross walk button
  2. Look both ways and run the red light
  3. Turn around and go home

The first option is annoying, and I have gotten glares from drivers and pedestrians since bikes aren’t really supposed to be on the sidewalk.  It also gives fodder to those people who say “You damn bikers, you make your own rules, sometimes you are vehicles, sometimes you are pedestrians, you do whatever is most convenient for you!” (For the record, there was one intersection that even in a car it wouldn’t work, I had to jump out, run to the button and sprint back!)

The second choice gives you the distinct possibility of a ticket from your friendly neighborhood police officer.  (And YES, cops will pull over people on bikes.  I have been pulled over for not stopping at a stop sign and for speeding (Yep speeding, doing 30 down a steep hill that was a 15 mph zone in a state park)  Both times I got lucky and just got a warning!)

Third option kinda limits your riding, and what happens if you hit another red light on the way home?!  You may never be seen again!

I bring all this up because there is a man representing motorcycles (but is including bikes as well) testifying before the Washington State Legislature asking for a change in the law.  He wants both motorcycles and bikes to come to a complete stop at these lights, but if the light does not turn green, he wants permission to treat them like a stop sign and go when traffic allows.  I heard this while driving to work this morning, and try as I might, I can’t find the name of the person doing this, so I can’t give him credit here.

I LOVE this idea!  While searching for the man’s name, it looks like Illinois and Kansas, as well as maybe Pennsylvania already have this law on the books.  To me it just makes sense!  It would cost big money to install bike sensors at every intersection, and many of us are doing this now already.  It would keep us all from running the risk of getting a ticket!

Most of us are smart enough (and those that aren’t Darwin will take care of) not to do this in dangerous intersections.  I already know of a couple I will still have to hit the cross walk button to have any chance in crossing (Sadly this is along the Interurban Trail the best route to Seattle from my house).  However, there are many MANY others that this would work perfectly on!  As I’ve said, I know this because I already do this at these intersections.

Now I fully admit, there will be issues.  How long should a person wait, how does a police officer know she waited, should some intersections be exempted?  I think all of these can be worked out if we just get the chance!

So, for the other cyclists out there, what do you think?  Would this work?  What do you do at intersections like this?

Like I said, red lights aren’t supposed to be forever!

Bikers and Drivers

I don’t know how things are where you live, but around here bikers deal with drivers who aren’t entirely partial to cyclist.  In fact, there are some drivers of cars who adamantly despise bikes and feel they have no place on the road at all!  I have a friend like that who tells me, “Aside from being a bike rider and the fact you went to WSU, I like you!”

My first introduction to people like this came in high school. I was cruising down a road near where i lived. I looked behind me to see a pick up, with a baseball bat stuck out the passenger, window coming up on me fast! I put it the bike in the ditch fast, only to have to listen to the driver and passenger laugh as they drove by.

Since then, i have had fast food soft drinks thrown at me, people flipping me off and cussing at me, and drivers passing me telling me to “GET THE F OFF THE ROAD!”

Now, as a cyclist, it would be easy for my to blame the jerks in the cars! I mean come on, we can’t be in the wrong! Here we are being healthy, saving gas, reducing the obesity in America and generally halo wearing, spandex clad. 2 wheeled angels!

Ah, but then, I watch those I call (and forgive the language) “Biker Pricks” or BPs for short. BPs give the rest of us a bad name. In my first organized ride. I saw a pack come up to a stop sign, where 5 cars were in line. The front car had waited its turn, and started to turn right as this pack of BPs flew up on his right. There is no way he could’ve seen them! He must’ve seen motion at the last-minute, and stopped in time. But I am telling you, had there been an accident, I would’ve been a witness for the car.

Even the Chilly Hilly yesterday had its share of BPs. In my experience, the drivers of Bainbridge Island are very tolerant about 5000 bikers taking over their roads. They pass carefully, and do their best to make everyone safe.

Well we were climbing a hill in a pack. A call of “CAR BACK” came up. Telling us there was a car coming up and passing us. One of the faster riders caught the pack, saw the car coming, but said “I am NOT going to go this slow, I have to get around this!” He pulled out in front of the car and made him wait while he inched past the group.

My own personal theory is that there are bad drivers and bad cyclists, and in many cases they are the same people! I will admit I do not stop on the bike at every stop sign. I also, while driving a car, regularly get mad at people in the fast lane that won’t move to the right. Overall, though, I think I am a pretty courteous driver/cyclist.

Bikes have every right to be on the road, but with a little common sense and teamwork, we can make it easier on vehicles. I have one route where the shoulder narrows a lot. If I see a semi coming behind me, i will pull into a driveway till he passes. It adds minutes to my ride, but its safer for everyone.

What it comes down to is there are some good reasons why drivers get mad at us, but we have good reasons to get mad at drivers as well. The cars do have the advantage of size and speed though. I always remember my dad telling me that “Cemeteries are full of tombstones with the inscription ‘He had the right-away!'”

I’m just lucky that, so far, the people who throw softdrinks have terrible aim! Can’t we all just get along?