Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bugging Out

Got home from the commute Tuesday astride the Red Sled, and noticed that I wasn't the only one enjoying the ride:

A stowaway! Egads!

Once I was able to loosen his surprisingly vice-like grip on my brake cable (which explains why he was able to hang on during my blazing sprint), I released him into the yard to start a new and exciting life in a different part of Des Moines.

(Astute readers will note the use of male pronouns above. I have no idea if this was a he or a she, I had no idea how to check, and even if I knew how to check, I'm not emotionally equipped for that level of insect intimacy. Call me a tool of the patriarchy, but I figured that a bug dumb enough to participate in the extreme sport of bike-surfing was probably male.)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Best New Bike Day Ever

My pal Amy first appeared in these pages after she handed me a pondering question about whether or not I'd keep going with the whole bike thing even if it meant risking my life (more than it does already on streets shared by idiots texting behind the wheel, that is).

In addition to her kayak habit (which inspired the original question), Amy also liked to bike before her big accident. Unfortunately, the brain injuries sustained in the post-accident recovery gave her some balance challenges that made getting back up on her old hybrid challenging. She consulted me as resident bike-nerd-friend, and I promptly went down the rabbit hole, researching everything from trikes to adult training wheels (excuse me, "stabilizer wheels") to stuff so weird that I've since blocked it from my memory. Somewhere in there, I must have pointed out the potential in bikes like the Electra Townie, since they let the rider stand flat-footed while still in the saddle.

Long story short (too late!), this happened today:

"So the big excitement for me this weekend was supposed to be getting adult training wheels on my old Cannondale. But since the wheels would not fit the bike I have, we thought about finding a bike that would play well with the training wheels. While adult trikes exist, they are annoying to transport.

And then I sat on a lightweight bike with a much lower riding position, different frame, and smaller wheels. It was so cozy that everything clicked and I didn't need the training wheels AT ALL... which I only realized when I had been riding the bike around the parking lot completely unassisted. Then I came to a safe stop and had a nice cry, because this has been a long time coming. (Shut up! Crying when you're happy is NORMAL.) I was even able to breathe well! It was a GREAT a-ha moment."

I like making new-bike-day happen (even when it's not for me), but this one is going to be damn near impossible to top. Now if you'll excuse me, I think my allergies are acting up. My eyes are all watery.

(Oh, Amy's taking suggestions for a name for her new bike, so if you have ideas, stick 'em in the comments and I'll pass them along.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Taking It To The Streets

Believe it or not, that is a former car parking spot not far from The Cycle World Headquarters that has been staked out as dedicated, protected, on-street bicycle parking. Not only that, there are several of these bad boys in front of local businesses on a strip that already features dedicated bike lanes. It ain't the Netherlands, but I'm down. Heck, I parked there (that's the ol' Rockhopper at the hitching post) even though I was going to the store next door that had its own bike rack. Don't want to give the anti-bike crowd any "that was a waste of space no one uses" ammunition.

It's just further proof that this sign in front of local snarky t-shirt purveyor Raygun is oh-so-true:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Mojo Museum

It was a "thing" back in the 90s amongst the MTB set (at least where I was from) to adorn one's bike with some kind of little trinket/figurine. Usually known as a "mojo", these decorations were part good luck charm, part bike personalization, and usually all silly. The most extreme example was pro downhiller Missy "The Missle" Giove, known for (among other things) wearing the body of her dead pet piranha around her neck during races.

Being far less EXTREME (dude!) than Ms. Missle, I never took the concept to the point of wearing dead pets. However, even now, the bikes in my garage each have a little extra personality added on in the form of a mojo. First up, Dear Spouse's single bike:


Nothing beats a basket for sheer mojo-attachment possibilities. She could have an entire army of Muppets up there, but chooses just one, her personal Spirit Muppet, Super Grover, positioned front and center where he can offer his trademark "Hello, everybody!" greeting to all he encounters. (For the safety enforcers, note that he even wears a helmet.)

My daily driver/commute beast Cannondale (a.k.a. The Red Sled) has a less risk-averse passenger:

That radical dude is Domo, which I honestly know nothing about, but Wikipedia tells me he's the mascot of Japan's public broadcast TV station. Who knew? I just found him amusing, and the curve of my rear rack strut seemed like an ideal skateboard ramp.

Last but certainly not least, the mojo I'm most proud of rides along on the tandem:

Obviously, a two-seat bike needs a his-and-hers mojo. When the two-seater in question is green, named Frank, and was brought to life thanks to parts from several other tandems, that mojo pretty much chooses itself. Plus, the captain of said two-seater has a few nice scars from his aftermarket femur. (And yes, I did intentionally choose zip-ties to match each figure, because I have a problem.)

Which brings me to the CRUCIAL point of the mojo: If you have a problem with zip-ties, a mojo may not be for you. I'm convinced that artful zip-tying is the basis of all good mojo installation. So if your bike needs a personal touch and you don't mind tying one on, give a mojo a try! (And if you have a good one, send it my way. Maybe I'll feature it as a traveling exhibit in my mini mojo museum.)