Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Tribe


When I began riding my bike all those years ago, I did it for a simple reason. I didn’t really want to die. Like many I rode my bike for the health benefits that regular exercise offers to everyone. Especially to one of my size. I never expected to become a member of a tribe.

But that is what happened.

After riding for several years with various friends and by myself I began to hang out with some of the bike people here in pittsburgh. Bike PGH runs a biking forum and it was on there I got to know many of the people before I got to meet them face to face. When I did get to meet them, and ride with them it felt like I was meeting people I already knew. People who were glad that I was along for the ride. even if I was the fat guy in the back of the line slowing everyone down. I was accepted and encouraged. They welcomed me into their group. I became part of the flock, so to speak. We watched out for each other, laughed with other, and teased each other. Ww rejoiced together with each new mile of bike lanes and sharrows. We mourned with each other when one of us was hurt, injured or killed. We are a tribe. Helmet or not, it doesn’t matter. Mountain, Road, or Fixie it doesn’t matter. We are a tribe. I know that this is the reason I am still riding today. I was welcomed into the tribe. I know this isn’t something that only bike people do, but it is something that bike people did for me.

Photo Credit: Rob de la Cretaz

Monday, July 30, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review - Just Ride

A radically practical guide to riding your bike
By Grant Petersen
Founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works

The other day when I got home I found this book waiting for me in my mail box. I wasn’t surprised, I had ordered the book and I was anxious to start reading. Like many of you I had heard “things” about this book. Some things were good, some things were bad. I hoped that if nothing else the book would be “interesting”. I can honestly say that interesting is a valid description of the book.

Grant Petersen has no trouble saying what he believes in. In the Introduction of the book he states “In real life I’m not as mean (or Judgmental) as I sound in this book, and it makes me uncomfortable to write a book that will be so predictably panned...

In real life he may not be mean or judgmental but that is exactly how he comes off in the book. Even when I agree with what he has to say (which is about half the time)  I find myself embarrassed to admit it for the reason to that he comes off in such a negative, mean, and judgmental way. This book is filled with negativity from front cover to back. He even refers to riders who ride the way he does as “Unracers” as if there are two ways to ride, like a racer or like him.

The book itself is broken into 8 parts
Part 1 - Riding i.e. You are riding wrong
Part 2 - Suiting up i.e. You are Dressing Wrong
Part 3 - Safety i.e. Helmets are bad
Part 4 - Health and Fittness i.e. Your bike makes you fat
Part 5 - Accesories i.e. You bought the wrong stuff
Part 6 - Upkeep i.e. You are fixing it wrong
Part 7 - Technicalities i.e. Look how smart I am
Part 8 - Velosphy i.e. Think Like I do.

As I reached the end of the book I was ready to pan the book just as Mr. Petersen talked about in the introduction. There are somethings in the book I agreed with. For the most part  none of us are racers. I am not a racer, but I refuse to be defined by what I don’t do. There are lots of things I don’t do. I eat meat but does that make me an “UnVegetarian” The whole idea that you have to be either one or another is ludicrous. The one section of the book I can say that I nejoyed the most was Part 8 Velosphy, it was in this section, 177 pages into the book, that I found something positive in this book. This is the part of the book where he talks about getting your kids to ride with you, doing charity rides the right way and his dislike of Critical mass. Something I have disliked since I first encountered one.

I still find this book difficult to recommend and I would NOT recommend this book to a new rider. Not because I disagree with him on this point or that. I don’t like the book because of the negativity that runs throughout this book. If Mr Petersen would have spent more time writing about the things he loves and is passionate about and less time talking about those things he dislikes, then I feel that this book would of been life-changing. As it is I can only give this book two and half gears out of five. Sorry Grant, you’ll just have to pedal faster.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just Ride

The book Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike arrived on my door step last night and since I was busy building the Ghost bike for the Hit and Run here close to home I have only been able to read thru about half of it. You can expect a more complete review in the future. Here however are some thoughts I have on this book.

1. Grant Petersen comes across as preachy, arrogant, and elitist.
2. The things I agree with him I really agree with.
3. The things I disagree with him, I REALLY disagree with.

I understand what he is trying to say, The idea of the "Unracer" and the idea that modern bicycle racing has affected how we view bikes. This is true, however the book goes in the exact opposite direction, discarding most if not all that is "Racer" in an attempt to define "Unracer" This is something I just don't agree with. I am by no means a racer, My bikes are not racing bikes, and I have desire to be part of the peleton. I do find that there are many things I can gain from the modern bike tech that has made it's way down from the rarefied air of the high tech, super light racing circuit.

He argues in his book that when we drive cars (which I don't do) we don't drive racing cars around but he fails to realize that many of the advancements in our cars which make them more efficient, safer, and better handling came from those very race cars.

That being said, I am really enjoying the book and have learned several things from it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


looks like I'll be building my first Ghost bike


My heart goes out the man's family.

I find this very upsetting, it shouldn't be like this.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Im calling this one a WIN

The Bike Pgh blog recently posted about the increase in bike parking in downtown Pittsburgh (Read whole post here) I'm very excited to see all the things that are happening here in Pittsburgh. from the Bike Racks on busses (which I use all the time) to the increase in bike lanes and sharrows. I really think we are approaching a tipping point of popularity where cyclists began to be noticed as something more than a bothersome nuisance.

We are starting to be noticed as a valid group instead of

Out the ordinary
Hippy freaks
Law breakers
Unruly kids

This is a very good thing, for the most part. There are some negative aspects of this that I will, no doubt, talk about later. But for now, I'm calling this one a WIN!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Well, all week I've been riding everyday (still not as much as i would.wish) and eating less. I find that I am always hungry. I also find that what I used to think of as my normal amount of food has already become what I think of as too large a portion. It is surprising how quickly my view of food has changed after only a few weeks

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Wall

Everyone has heard of the wall, of hitting the wall, pushing through the wall, climbing over the wall. Its not an unknown idea to any of us. Still I have to wonder how many of us have actually hit the wall, or really even caught sight of it?

Ill be the first to confess here, I haven't. I've never pushed myself to the point where I thought I was at “The Wall” and I'm kind of ashamed to admit it. Of course one doesn't get to be a Fat Guy on an Orange Bike by getting comfortable with the territory surrounding the wall. I had a good workout today and I am getting stronger even if I feel like my numbers are so much lower than someone who has been riding as long as I have. 

7-3-12 - 4.18 Miles 26:18
7-4-12 - 4.59 Miles 19:30
7-6-12 - 5.30 Miles 31:33
7-7-12 – 12.38 Miles 65:00 
7-9-12 - 7.00 Miles 36:30

I can tell myself that these are good numbers for someone my age, my size, blah blah blah. But the truth is that what these numbers show me is that the reason I'm still this size and this slow is that I don't push myself. I'm afraid to really push myself, to see what would happen if I really tried, if I really went all out, if I did stupid things and rode stupid rides I didn't think I could finish. I'm scared to get out of my comfort zone. I'm scared to face that wall and find out what it will show me about myself.

I don't like the idea of living in fear. But I'm not sure what to do about it.

I want to say I'm gonna go out there and push myself twice as hard.
I want to say I'm gonna stare down that wall and make it my bitch.
I want to say I'm gonna stare into a mirror and shout “Rule 5!!!” until it shatters.

But if History is any guide, I don't know if I'll manage any of that.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Bike day one

I just got home from first ride on my new single speed bike (yet unnamed) and i have learned a couple of things.

1. This is bike is just out of my class, skillwise and strength. I noticed that while the bike itself is simpler it takes a different skill set. A skill set I do not possess. The bike also demands stronger legs also something I Dont possess.

2. The seat will take a little getting used to but ive decided to stick with it and not buy a fatass saddle

3. The bike is a lot of fun and i hope to become worthy of it instead of feeling like ive borrowed someone elses bike. And they are far better at cycling than i am.

Monday, July 2, 2012

New ride photo

Picked up my new bike at thick bikes it is a sweet single speed with fixed gear flip flop hub. Rode it home tonight. The hills were a bit difficult but my bike, she flies.

New Ride

So Im buying a new bike and will be picking it up this week. I also have several things going on that I will be adding here soon.

Here is a quick list of things
1. I got a new set of bike shoes
2. I bought a new bike
3. I signed up for Pedal Pittsburgh

plus a few more. I am hoping to bring this blog back to life soon.