Friday, July 30, 2010

Making a Difference

Photo Credit: Google Image Search

It doesn’t happen all that often, I guess this is what makes it such a special occurrence. Today I was talking to one of the guys I work with and he mentioned that he needed to go to the post office at lunch. I let him know that the post office had moved and he should make sure he knows where it was. At lunch he let me know that he was going to make the trip sans car.

It's a good feeling.

the Post Office isn’t all that far from our office (perhaps a mile) and it is one of those trips that can easily be made either on a bike or on foot without much trouble. We had been talking about the idea of being Car-free and the idea that there is a sliding scale between Bike-Free and Car-Free and each day you make choices that moves you along the scale one way or another. He talked about how he could never be ‘Car-Free’. My answer was that most people could never be ‘Car-Free’ and that the idea was to end up less dependent on an automobile.

The Idea, My Idea is not to be ‘Car-Free’ but to make choices that allows you to be ‘Less Dependent’ on your Automobile.

I wanted to repeat that not just for you but also for myself. To often we take the view of ‘All or Nothing’ and I think we do a huge disservice to ourselves and those around us.  By taking that ‘All or Nothing’ view we end up alienating those we could be reaching. By accepting the fact that not everyone could be ‘Car-Free’  and even accepting the fact that not many people WANT to be ‘Car-Free’  I can then help people to move out and accept the idea of stepping out of the thought process that says. ‘Everywhere I go has to be by car.’ and once people believe that they can do things without using a car I believe that they will do things without relying on a car.

That one thing is my fondest wish. I am tired of people believing that they can’t [fill in the blank].

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Quite Upsetting

Photo Credit: Turkinator

My last post ‘little of this’ I talked about how surprised I was when a teen girl told me she believed that she couldn’t ride a bike for two miles. I have been thinking about this a lot and trying (without much success) to understand how this could happen.

Today I found the answer. Karl Marx is quoted as saying “Religion is the Opiate of the Masses” I have always taken this as meeting that Religion (not faith) is what keeps people docile, controllable, predictable. While I am willing to admit that there still is an ‘Opiate of the Masses’ it is no longer Religion. Today as I sat in a booth at a local Eat-n-Park with my sister and her family (daughter, son-in-law, grand babies) I walked back to the salad bar and passed a young family with two young kids. Both kids sat staring into portable DVD players with headphones on.

My friends, you would of been proud of me. I wanted to slap the parents and call CYS and report a serious case of Child Neglect. I paused only long enough to realize that both kids were watching the same show, at a table, in Eat-n-Park, on DVD players.

These are the kids who are raised to believe in not what they can do, instead they are raised by what they can’t do. After work I usually head out, either going for a walk, or taken my bike for a ride. What shocks me about my time outside isn’t what I see, but what I don’t see.

I don’t see any other bikes outside.
I don’t see any one outside.
No kids playing.
No one walking.

Parents won’t walk the mile to the drugstore and take the car instead, this teaches the children that they can’t walk the mile. This teaches the young pretty fit teen aged girl at shop and save that not only is she incapable of riding a bike two miles to the store but there is no reason for her to ride those two miles.

After all that is what the car is for.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A little of this

Photo Credit: Flickr Commons

I got to riding last night and I have to tell you all that simply the act of getting on the bike and leaving my cell phone (and my problems) behind was enough to get the creative juices flowing.

My plan (as loose as it was) was to head out to the Gym for a workout (got to get back into the groove) and then off to the grocery store to pick up lunches for work. This was the first time that I choose to ride my bike to the grocery store and I learned a few things.

1. Why doesn’t the Store have a bike rack? I ended up with the Hobson’s choice of locking my bike up on a rusty handicapped parking sign or a on the railing of the cart return. I really didn’t like either option but I more afraid of the idea of all of the buggies slamming into my pretty orange bike. So I locked it up to the signpost.

2. I was surprised at how quickly I began to think of things in terms of weight. Apples and noodles good. Watermelon and Steaks Bad. I piked up a hand basket when I walked into the store and I ended up putting everything I bought (other than a bottle of water) in my back pack and riding home.

I noticed that I garnered more than my share of attention walking through the store with my backpack and helmet hanging of the strap. Maybe it is the fact that I am firmly ensconced in the suburbs, but the idea of going anywhere and not using a car is just completely foreign.

Case in Point
When I checked out I told the girl that was bagging the items that I didn't need them bagged as I was going to be putting them in my backpack.

She bagged them anyway.

In plastic.

As I was taking my stuff out of the plastic bags and putting them in my backpack she noticed the helmet hanging on the strap.

"You rode a bike here?" She asked.

"Yes." I answered and prepared myself for the conversation that always follows.

"Where from?"

"Not far, by the Library." (that is 2 miles away, on the same road)

"Wow, that's far."

"Not really, a bit under 2 miles is all."

What invariably follows that statement is the reason I grieve for youth of the nation.

"I could never ride that far."

Read that statement over again, slowly if you need to. The statement wasn't

I would never ride that far
Isn't it dangerous to ride on Saltsburg? (a little but not much)
I couldn't make it up and down the hills. (not much in the way of hills)

The statement was "I COULD never ride that far". A teen aged girl, trim, healthy, and pretty, showing no outward sign of any physical ailment actually didn't believe that she could ride a bike on a rolling hills road two miles to get some groceries and then ride back.

Am I that much of stranger in my own land?

Monday, July 26, 2010


Photo Credit: Assbach

Yep the photo above pretty much says it all. I'm just wiped out today, I tried all weekend long to find something to write about today and pretty much drew a big fat zero. I am in the middle of a conversation about electric bikes over at the Bike-PGH Forums and I am noodling with the idea of putting my thoughts on the concept here i.e. it would be great but it is destined to fail because of government intervention. I am however way to tired to put those thoughts in a coherent order so those posts will just have to wait.

I haven't been riding much over the past weeks and I am to change that tonight. So hopefully tomorrow I will have a better grasp of the english language.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bondo - Evil Project

Photo Credit: Google Image Search

Well well well, last night I continued my work on the evil art project. I noticed after priming and sanding the frame a few hundred times that I had some deep marks left by the Angle Grinder of Death (AGD) that the filler primer I was using just couldn't handle. So really there was only one thing I could think of - Bondo

Let me first say that this whole project has been an adventure. Each aspect of this project has been an education, since I am constantly being faced with problems whose solutions I know intellectually but not in practice.

Bondo is just that.

I know in theory what to do and how to do but last night as I attempted it I had no idea how to really do what I was trying to do. I learn fast. After many a mistake and having to start over twice I got the effect I was looking for.

Deep scratches and cuts from AGD - Gone
Dents from dropping the frame - Gone
Pinholes from cutting off braze ons - Filled
Brain cells - Dead

Yeah if you wonder about that last one let me just say that the fumes that this puts off are formidable and thankfully I was outside at the time, otherwise I'm pretty sure I would still be there staring at all the pretty colors. Even with being outside there were a few moments where I had to remind myself that I really can't fly and no the grass under the balcony did not look soft and fluffy

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hey Fatso Part II

Photo Credit: Cribbe

This is Part II of a post, read the first part here.

Left of Sanity wrote in a comment for yesterday’s post

“Well I at least appreciate reading the struggle

This is like my struggle with academics. Always easier to surf the web than to try and solve complex (to me) math\physics\chemistry, etc problems”

When I read this I knew that I had touched a nerve, and as I talked to others about it over the past few days I heard similar stories with only the subject that varied. I found some comfort in the fact that I am not alone in this feeling. As the day went on I knew there was something I missed. I realized what it is and I am going to risk getting all biblical.

Romans 7:15
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do

Sound Familiar?

Now before you turn your brain off just because I quoted the bible I have to ask you to read Left of Sanity’s comment again and read the Quote from the book of Romans. This is the very thing I was talking about in yesterday’s post. The Idea that I know just what I should be doing, as well as knowing that those things I choose to do are unhealthy for me (unproductive - the case of Left of Sanity)

Still the question remains, What am I to do?

I could give the Sunday School Bible answer, and in a way I am beginning to think that the Sunday School Bible answer is the right one.

Wait, don’t hit the back button, Hear Me Out. Im not going to get all theological.

I promise.

The Sunday School Bible Answer is “Ask God to forgive you and get on with doing the best you can.” That is just what I need to do when I realized that I have, once again, let myself down. When I realize that instead of getting the veggie hoagie from subway for lunch I got the pepperoni Pizza and Chicken wings from the ‘Burgh. I have to give myself permission to forgive myself, and get on with making the next hour better than the last.

In the end I am getting the feeling that it is all about making better (healthier, productive) choices over time. I believe that it is over time that these choices (Healthier, Productive) become more and more natural. As I sit here and contemplate this I begin to see some things.

A year ago I would not have even thought about the idea that I need to make better choices. So the simple fact that I recognize my struggle may be the first steps in actually making a change that make take the rest of my life to full realize.

And if you think about it, taking the rest of my life to battle with the joy of bike riding is ok with me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hey Fatso

Photo Credit: Cribbe

The past few weeks have been rough for me. I won’t lie. Trying to get into shape is tough, trying to keep what little gains I have managed to achieve is even tougher.  For two weeks I was first away from home and without my bike and then on a cruise ship where I'm pretty sure the deck hands snuck into your room at night and fed you creampuffs while you were sleeping.

Why is it so hard to loose weight and so easy to gain it back.

This was brought home clearly to me yesterday as I picked my bike (the orange beast) up from my sister’s house where I had left it before going away and rode it the 2 miles home. This is not a difficult ride home. 15 min in I was sort of hoping someone would come along and perform a drive by mercy killing on me.

No really, I would be Tots cool with it.

As I was laying, gasping, on my bed after I got home I had one of those moments of cruel clarity where I am brutally honest with myself.  I try not to let this happen to often as I am really good at being really brutal.

I’m no good at being good to myself.

I admit it. I would much rather do the things that are bad for me, knowing they are bad for me instead of the things that are good for me. Even the things I enjoy like bike riding and going for walks.  These self-destructive choices are the same ones I make over and over again. I don’t know if the problem is that I don’t know how to make better choices or that I don’t really want to make better choices.  I know what the better choices are and still I choose (it is my choice)

I choose Lil Caesar's pizza over a healthy hoagie
I choose computer over biking
I choose blogging over going out walking at lunch
(I’m doing that right now)

How does one change? Truthfully I don’t know.

I have made peace with the fact that I will always be a Fat Guy on an Orange Bike. My struggle is keep from becoming a really Fat Guy on an Orange Bike.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

You can read Part II of this post here

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lonely Bike

Photo Credit: BO47

I'm pretty sure that is how my bike feels right now, and I can't really blame it for feeling that way or trying to do its best to dump my fat butt on the shoulder of the road next time I ride it. I haven't gotten to ride me bike in far to long.

Oh I could make excuses

I 've been away, I'm still healing from my last wreck... I could go on.

But they would be excuses and nothing more. I don't really have an excuse for not riding my bike more, other than I seem to be allowing my old lazy self to get back to the forefront. It is a fairly common occurrence for me, after all why do you think I'm still a Fat Guy on an Orange Bike. I am even smart enough to know what causes it. I start riding, start feeling good, start getting excited about life and then BAM something happens to shake my faith, to take the joy away, and instead of riding through it to the joy on the other side I just give up.

I really have to stop doing that.

I know in my heart that if I force myself to go out riding that all those things that are clinging to me, dragging me down will fall by wayside. As the miles click by on the computer I know that my worries and fears will begin to loosen their grip and eventually be left on the side of the road. On my bike I can outrun the voices that tell me I'm to fat, I'm useless, I'm damaged goods. I can't hear those voices with the wind in my ears.

I can't get the text message reminding of how I failed in the past
I can't open the bill I can't pay
I can't sit alone my room

Damn but I need to get out riding

Monday, July 19, 2010

Evil Project - update

Well the Evil Project bike has taken a turn for the artistic, (not autistic) (photos to come soon) I have been inspired by a web comic called Yehuda Moon

so I decided to take the frame and do just that, I am currently painting the frame in order to add the formulas on the frame. However I decided that it would look much better if I took off one of the rear triangle so I headed out to harbor Freight and picked up an Angle Grinder or as I am calling it - The tool Terry should never own. I did manage to get one of the rear triangles cut off the frame as well as ruining a shirt, cutting my jaw, scaring the daylights out of me, and snapping a plastic chair on the balcony (anyone want to buy an angle grinder? only used once, don't mind the bloodstains)

So now all I have to do is
Prime the frame
Paint the frame
Paint the formulas
Clear coat the frame
Get recognized as a famous artist
Get rich
Turn to drug and alcohol
Die in a hotel room
Have a stranger write my biography

Then I'll be really famous

Look out world here I come

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thinking Small

Photo Credit: Google Image Search

In my last post I talked about the Great Allegheny Passage and I was and still am excited about all the great bicycle friendly news that has been happening here in Pittsburgh lately.

Article about all bike news

Like I said I am really excited about this. The idea that only spot the trail from DC to Pittsburgh wasn’t complete was here at the Pittsburgh end was always something I felt ashamed of.  I look forward to being able to ride from the Waterfront or Southside to Little Boston on my weekend warrior rides as opposed from always going to Little Boston and riding the trail out to there.

In the last post I asked the question of “What Next?” Where should the GAP be expanded to? I even posted those same questions over at BIKE-PGH Forums (Read Thread Here) and something became clear to me.

I’m not a Long Distance Rider

What I really want is to be able to ride my bike instead of having to drive, or get a ride from someone. The more I think about this Goal the more I realize that while I like riding the trails on the weekend what I would really like and what I think would promote riding even more isn’t the long trails but the ability of cyclist to get from one community to another in a clear safe way.  One of the things I learned when I moved from East Pittsburgh to Penn Hills I found that there really wasn’t an easy way for me to Commute to Town on my bike. Looking at maps and actually trying to get into town on my bike I find that there really is no Bike Friendly way into town. I either face roads that are either:

1. Very Bicycle Un-friendly
2. Have shoulders that in very poor repair
3. Hilly enough to make my legs hurt just typing this

Couple that with the rash of attacks on Cyclists and you begin to see my problem.

What’s the answer? In truth I don’t know but I do have some thoughts.

As I ride around I begin to see the possibilities of a form of Bike Highway and I don’t mean a system of bicycle only roads to connect the communities (That would be a dream come true) Instead I am talking about a system of Bike Lanes, Sharrows, Bike trails, and low traffic roads that provide a cyclist with a clear safe way to get from one community to another without having to worry about being run down, assaulted or faced with the prospect of ‘You can’t get there from here’

I know what a lot of you are thinking. You are thinking ‘What are you talking about? I don’t have any trouble getting anywhere’  That is most likely true if you are one of the cyclist that I wish I was. I’ve met you guys (and girls) who either live a car-free life or are working towards a car-free life. I will say right now that as much as I want to be part of that group and as much as I work toward being part of that group, there is a real fact that I may never really be part of that group. The group I am thoroughly ensconced in is the ‘I really like riding the trail on the weekend with my friends but I’m not so sure about the rest of the time.’ group

Have no doubts, this is a big group.

This is the group that I think can be moved to ride the bike to store, the Pharmacy, the Gym, and to all those short trips that people make everyday. The reasons that many people don’t hop on the bike and head off to the store can be varied and some of the excuses are weak enough that they are pretty much saying “uh, No thanks” but for many of us the real reason is that we don’t really feel all that safe riding our bikes on the roads in our communities, let alone trying to get to the communities around us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Long Way Baby

Photo Credit: Paul Heckbert

So after years, (YEARS) of talking, planning, and fuming the bike trail from Pittsburgh to Washington DC is finally going to be finished. (click here to read Post Gazette Article) Notice I said “Going to be finished” and not “Is finished” since it will still be some time before the trail will actually be complete.  Still we have come a long way.

Here in Pittsburgh at least I don’t know if biking has ever been as popular as it is right now. Something happened last week that illustrates for me not only how far we have come, but sadly also how far we still have to go. Last week I took a cruise that sailed out of New York. Since this was my first time in the Big Apple I made sure that I got to go to Times Square and do my share of Gawking. I expected the people, all different kinds of people. I expected  the Pretty Girls and the overpriced everything. I expected the hawkers and the people trying to sell me everything.

I did not expect the bikes.

I was struck speechless at the sheer number and variety of bikes I saw. expensive bikes, cheap bikes, Expensive bikes made to look like cheap bikes. I even saw a guy delivering Pizza on an electric bike. I can’t even begin to estimate just how many bikes I saw both locked up and on the street.  This was the first thing I noticed and I can’t help but wonder if Pittsburgh will ever have the same percentage of people on bikes?

The next thing I noticed and the thing that I think really shows me just how far we still have to go was the bike trails. You see i noticed that there was a bike trail right by the hotel we were staying at in Jersey just across the Hudson and another Bike Trail in front of the Dock where we boarded the ship in NYC. I didn’t really think to much about it until I brought the area up in Google Maps with Biking option turned on

(Click here to see the map)

When I saw the amount of bike only trails that were available in Manhattan alone I have to admit I was kind of ashamed to compare them to the few that we have in Pittsburgh.

So while I Know that we have come a Long way, and should be proud of everything that has been done to promote biking here in Pittsburgh we need to remember that while we are holding our collective heads high we need to use that height to see down the line at what more can be done.

Personally I want to see that trail continue westward Detroit, Chicago anyone?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Getting Twitchy

Photo Credit: Google Image Search

For the last two and half weeks I haven’t been able to ride my bike and I have to tell you, I’m getting twitchy. By the looks of things it will be another couple days before I will be back on the bike.

The good news (if there can be any) is that I can really feel my shoulder starting to heal up so no doubt I will undo all that good work once I get back on the bike. Hopefully by tomorrow I will be back to my normal posting schedule (mon-fri) and will have something of interest for you all. I have several Ideas brewing from my long hiatus from riding so finding material should not be a problem.

One thing I want to say, I spent a little time in NYC in and around times square and I have to say that I never realized how few people in Pittsburgh Pa (where I am from) ride bikes. I was stunned at the number of, and varied style of the many many times many bikes I saw, not to mention the sheer amount of bike parking, bikes were locked up everywhere. It made me understand just how far we have to go in Pittsburgh, as well as just how far we have come.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tour De France

Photo Credit: Lorenzo Zaffaroni

I don't suppose anyone reading this (both of you) is surprised that I am a huge (no really look at the title of the blog) fan of the Le Tour De France or as it sometimes called simply 'the tour'. (and yes if you say it the right way people will hear the air quotes)

I am not going to get all geeky here and talk about Lance and his 'brewing' battle with Contador or how it seems like yesterday was all talk about sprints and Cavendish but no mention of his fine for causing a crash in a sprint in the tour de suisse

OK I'm fine really

I love watching 'The Tour' and last year I would come to work and throw the coverage up on my computer and keep it in the background so I could at least listen along and flip over if something sounded exciting. I can't do that this year since 'VS' the channel in the states that carries 'The Tour' has decided to charge an extra 30$ to watch it online. Considering that this year I watched the Giro online in italian, and trying to figure out when they sounded excited was a game in frustration.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I unsubscribed to the biking blogs, unfriended my biking friends on twitter and will have to wait to watch the replays when I get home.

Drastic, yes, Useful, well see. So if you wondered what happened to me and why I stopped following you, well see you in about 20 days

Friday, July 2, 2010


Photo Credit: Google Image Search

Well today was a really good day. I got up early (for a day off) and headed out to Bike-Pgh to volunteer. I didn't know what to expect and I sure wasn't expecting to spend an hour stuffing envelopes

Note: I am not saying anything negative about envelope stuffing, I had a good time doing it and it was something that needed done.

What I was most excited about was getting to meet all the great people at Bike-Pgh, including one man who was dressed as a pirate (truthfully all I could think of was steve from dodgeball) Arrrrrgh. Still I went and worked for an hour stuffing envelopes over at Bike-Pgh and talking with the guys (and Lolly). I even got to tell my tale of biking, A tale that I thought I had included here but when I try to go and look for it I see that it isn't there.

I will have to rememdy that soon.

Let's get back on target, I have always volunteered for things but many times I volunteered out of a feeling of guilt, a feeling of 'fine! I'll help out' many a time I was just a square peg in a round hole that was hammered in to just fill the hole. Lately it has been different, I have been excited about the idea helping.

I hope the fact is that I have found my passion.

Or perhaps it is just that I have decided to be passionate about something.

The world may never know, but then I'm pretty sure the world doesn't really care. (But I do)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bike Junkie

Photo Credit: East Faust

Me: Hello my name is DbackLover and I'm an addict.

Everyone: Hello Dback

Me: It all started a few years ago when I decided to buy a schwinn bike from Wal-Mart. It was a good bike, I started the way everyone else does. Riding around the block, to the store, to church, you know the short fun trips that just work out well on the bike.

If I could of left it there things would probably have been ok, but you all know that with a problem like this you don't just leave it there.

Everyone: We know! We Know!

Me: Soon I riding my bike to town and back. Even this started out as nothing major, one day a week just for fun, but one day became two, became three, became all week, and the weekends. I felt so ashamed, I was never at home. I can't tell you the number of television programs that have gone unwatched.

Everyone: (Looking down in shame)

Me: That's not all either, I can't even begin to count the financial cost. Just the amount of money I have had to spend replacing my really fat clothes with simply fat clothes. I'm here to tell you that it all adds up quick. I don't even want to think about how much it is going to cost me to live those extra years I am tacking onto the end of my life.

It's all just to much for me.

I need a hug