Sunday, March 31, 2013

The only Ride I regretted

Is the one I didn't take

This was the ride I missed for the second year in a row. The Third annual Viking Biking Ride.

The other day was a rough day for me. The good part of the day was that I got to spend part of it on my bike. The bad part of the day was the fact that I was on my bike so I could get to work to spend my day working on mandatory overtime instead of going on one of my favorite group rides. The Viking ride and Pot luck lunch.

It made for a rough day. I kept looking out out of the window, seeing the sun shine and knowing that weather, while chilly was clear and fine. My urge to be out on my bike was an actual physical need. The ride in the cold morning air from where the weekend bus dropped me off and  down the hill to the Montour trail that would take me to my work served only to whet my appetite. All day I worked as my gaze was taken, over and over again, back to where my bike stood mocking me.

Six hours, The longest six hours I have experienced. When the time finally past and I was able to get back on my bike and head back up the hill I happily rode down that morning, I did so with great joy. Until I started back up that hill.

I really don’t like hills.

Still up the hill I went, off to the bus stop and back into town. After the short ride back into town I found myself on my Big Orange Bike headed through Station Square and on my way to riverside park on the South Side. This was the day of the Third Annual Viking Biking Ride and Potluck Picnic.  I was too late for the ride but I would be in time for the Picnic. A quick stop at a Grocery Store to pick up my part of the potluck and then down to the Park.

It was my welcome that reminded me, almost painfully, why I value these people (my friends) so much. Before I was off my bike I was welcomed as a member of the tribe. Not an exclusive tribe, but as a tribe that includes everyone on two wheels. I was welcomed by people I didn’t know, by people who were simply riding through and joined the ride. These people were part of us, were part of the tribe by their very action of choosing a bike.

I missed the bike ride and that I regret. but I didn’t miss the most important part of day. That part where people I think of as friends (old and new) stood around the growing fire and marked themselves and each other as members in good standing in one group.

A group I am proud to be a member of.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fatguy on Facebook

Just an annoucement that Fatguy has joined that facebook thing. So if you are so inclined you can "Like" me over at Everything I post here will be cross posted over at the Facebook page but I am thinking it will be easier to comment on, and creat a more interactive conversation on the facebook page.

So I hope you will take the time to go to and click on like.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Interview with Paul Beaver

Pedal for the Pantry is just a handful of days away(Saturday April 6th starting at 11:30am at Forbes wall across from the Original Hotdog Shop in Oakland). As it approaches I find myself getting excited about this ride. One of the reasons that I am excited about this ride is that I had a very similar ride planned some 7 months ago. I had mad the mistake of planning my ride for the same weekend that the last gasps of the hurricane came through.

The ride was a complete washout.

I have higher hopes for Pedal for the Pantry. Another reason (and probably the best reason) is that over the last year I have gotten to know the man who organized this ride. I consider him my friend. So when I got the chance to sit down with Paul and talk to him about the ride and cycling in general I counted myself as lucky.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.

1. Tell me about Pedal for the Pantry and how the idea got started?

Pedal for The Pantry is a biking event and food drive bringing the cycling community together to raise awareness of a local need while having a fun afternoon riding around the city. The inspiration for the event came about after I had attended a Cranksgiving event in Philedelphia of 2012.( It was my first ride of this type and I had a blast. Something that really inspired me was to see the different groups of riders from coming together to support charity and have a good time embracing the event as a community. The racers, the messangers, the weekend riders, the daily commuters, all riding together and having a great time. Everyone was welcomed because it was all about the community working together.

2. What have been some of the challenges you have faced in organizing the ride?

Preparing the logistics of the ride was an interesting one. Making sure that it was long enough to have plenty of stops and provide a fun challenge. Creating route maps and the shopping mainifest wasn't too bad, as I used the requested donation list from the Greater Pgh Community Food Bank. Contacting sponsors to provide donated prizes and services.

3. What about people who can't (for whatever reason) participate in an alleycat style race?

The traditional alleycat style ride can be a bit strenuous for an average rider, those events came about as way for messengers to test their speed and knowledge of local geography. As I was discussing my event with some of my friends, someone had mentioned she would love to participate but the course was too long for her to complete in the proposed time window. I also started thinking about some of my friends from the Flock Of Cycles rides whom would love to join the event as well but would probably not complete the longer ride either. so I added a second shorter route that could incorporate the paved riverfront biking trails as this would open the event to anyone whom wanted to participate.

4. How did you go about getting sponsors for “Pedal for the Pantry”?

I actually picked up the first sponsor on the drive back from Philly. Haha. Nick Drombosky of Fiks:Reflective drove us out to the Philly event and as I was formulating things on the ride back to pgh, I got my first sponsor. For the other sponsors I knew that I would need the support of good ending location, so I reached out through friends to contact the owners of Over The Bar Cafe. Also a few of the local bike shop owners (Bob @ Iron City Bikes and Chris @ Thick Bikes) and local cycling media (Brad @ Urban Velo). Next up was basically cold-calling companies, I generated an email with a description of the event and sent it out to bike equipment companies. The initial batch of emails generated a few replies, both supportive and declines. But I kept reaching out. As the event grew, I reached out thru more friends, and some people even came on board as I was posting fliers.

5. How long have you been cycling and why did you get started?

I've been riding most of my life, I'm on my second bike since I moved to pgh in '91. My first bike was stolen off my porch around '96, and I picked up my current bike in 2002. Having spent the last decade just riding around on my own, I attended some of the events of 2012 Pedal Pgh calendar. Next I started to attend group rides, meet new people, and become engaged in the local cycling community having fun the whole time.

6. Could you give people an overview of what to expect on the day of the event?

To have fun and enjoy the day. At registration riders will be provided the basic map and shopping lists. There is no set route, only listed destinations, so the actual routing is left open to the riders as they can choose their own way around the city and which order to visit the shops. Expect to have your knowledge of local geography tested to obtain the best route. The Post ride finish event is being held at OverTheBar Cafe, there will be event day specials to thank the riders, so everyone can relax while we tabulate the prize winners.

7. If someone wanted to help out, what could they do?

The best way to help would be to show up and go on one of the rides. There will also be a food bank donation collection stationed at OTB available to anyone who's feeling generous and would like to contribute. We're working with the food bank to have a representative onsite for handling financial contributions as well.

8. What has been the most surprising thing that has come out of planning this event?

The enthusiasm of the local cycling community has shown for this event and thier desire to participate and support has really picked up as the date draws closer. While there was a similar event a few years ago, there has not been one like this for a little while. Also hearing directly from people letting me know they are interested and ready for the ride keeps me going to make it a better event.

9. What are your goals in putting on this event?

I wanted to make a fun event that raises donations for the food bank and encourages people to hop on their bikes. The biggest success I could have would be a huge pile of donations and report of 100% safe riders.

10. What advice would you give to people who are just starting out with cycling?

Ride how your comfortable and have fun. There will always be someone faster and always be someone slower, so just do your best to enjoy the ride. Take a few chances on some group rides to find people you enjoy riding with. We're rather fortunate here in pgh as we have a variety of group rides that work for many different skill levels, groups ranging from full spandex carbon fiber riders over to the opposite end of the spectrum with jeans and sweatshirt casual Flock Of Cycles rides. Go out, say hello, and have some shared experience fun.

11. What advice would you give to people who want to organize a charity event like Pedal for the Pantry?

First I recommend attending one and talking to the people whom are directly involved. Ask them some questions about how and what they did, they may be willing to pass along their advice. Engage with the charity that your event will benefit, make sure that you are planning something that suits their needs, branding and message. When in doubt, pull a Picasso ... “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. (A very extended Special thanks to Gary and CJ at Cranksgiving Philly)

EDIT (3-27-13)
After I posted a link to this interview over at the Bike PGH Message Board one of the regulars on the board asked a question.

Brybot asked:
There is one question I wished you asked: Given that it is a race through an urban area, how will the laws of the road apply to the race? I typically feel uncomfortable running lights and signs. I imagine that would put me at pretty serious disadvantage in a race like this. I know it is for a good cause, but I tend to be competitive by nature.

I thought this was a good question and was going to ask Paul, but before I could ask him he saw it and answered the question on the message board.

Paul wrote:
I wanted the ride open to everyone, so that’s why I made a second route, Same event, two rides. (if I had a clue what I was really doing, I would have limited the heck out of this.) But since I am the eternal optimist, I added the “raffle” aspect, so that anyone who rides & contributes has a chance at the prizes. (my interaction with Flock of Cycles helped shape this portion of the event.)

Do not be discouraged that if you are not super fast that you have no chance at a prize, everyone is welcome, and everyone can earn a chance to take home goodies. 

I do not encourage breaking any laws while riding. While my event is modeled after an alleycat “race”, P4TP is not your typical alleycat race, it is a Cycling Event.

END EDIT (3-27-13)

All in all this is going to be a good ride for a great cause. I will be out there with team FatGuy (if I can get a team together)  Be sure to stop by and say hi, or better yet grab your bike and tennis shoes and join my team and do a little good while having a lot of fun. If you can’t make it to the ride head out to the grocery store and pick up some canned good and take them to OTB on Saturday April 6th around 4pm.

See you there.

Links in this post
Pedal for the Pantry
Flock Of Cycles
Over The Bar Cafe
Iron City Bikes
Thick Bikes
Urban Velo
Cranksgiving Philly

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Ides of Flock

 Video of the March Flock of Cycles ride

My long bikefast is broken. Thank the cycling gods! Last night I headed over to Oakland to join in the fun that is the monthly Flock of Cycles Party ride (facebook link).The ride was as fun as always and I was very happy to see that there were several new people (First time Flockers) in the group. We had a good showing for a still chilly march evening which makes me wonder what the rides are going to be like when the weather gets warmer.

The ride was a laid back tour of the city (look at route here) that took us through Oakland, Bloomfield, The strip District Downtown, The Armstrong tunnels, Across the 10th st bridge and into the South side. The ride ended with food drinks and fun at OTB bicycle cafe. (When the weather gets warmer and it stays light longer, I have noticed a tendency to end the ride with a pot luck picnic in a park.)

Eventually I wished my friends a good night and hopped on my bike and headed to town, with the plan of throwing my bike on the bus and heading home. This became quite a challenge. It seems my long Bikefast had its effect on more than my mental well being as I rode slowly into town my legs complaining the whole way.

For those of you who don't know what a Flock of cycles ride is like, allow me to give you a description. First off take everything you believe about cyclists and group rides (hipsters looking down on you, Lycra clad riders trying to form a peleton, annoying cyclists blowing through stop signs) and forget it. Now imagine hanging out with friends and talking, listening to music and catching up with people you like but haven't seen in a month.

It's like that just on a bike.

The ride is slow, fun and best of all accepting. My first flock (several years ago) was an eye opening experience. I was rather fearful that I would be looked down on for being old, fat, and slow. I knew this was supposed to be an easy, everyone staying together, fun ride. I didn't believe it. I knew I was going to be the one slowing everyone down. when we got to the hill (you can't avoid all the hills in Pittsburgh no matter how you try) I was the last one up. I was so close to quitting.

But I didn't.

A couple of the people rode with me. The rest waited at the top of the hill. (I found out later that it is normal for the group to wait at the top of the hill to allow everyone to re-group.) No one looked at me like I was the one slowing them down. everyone accepted me. I've worked very hard to return that favor and accept and do what I can to help those around me.

I will be interviewing Marcel from flock of cycles in an upcoming post so be sure to keep a lookout for that.

Links in this Post
Flock of Cycles Website
Flock of Cycles  Facebook
OTB Bicycle Cafe

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Going Crazy

I have a confession to make. I think I'm going crazy, the picture above is a fair representation of what the inside of my head looks like right now.  I did a little math today and made a surprising discovery. The last time I was on a bike was January 20th, and according to my rather questionable mathematical skills that means it has been 51 days since I've ridden.

This cannot be a good thing.

It does answer the question of why I feel so shaky. Why I feel like the whole world is against me and why I seem like I am always walking on eggshells. I could blame it on a combination of bad weather (it is February in Pittsburgh we are talking about) and the mandatory overtime, but the truth is I know what I get like when I'm cooped up and I could have ridden lapse around the school if nothing else. I know better than this.

Its a Trap. I know its a trap, everyday I don't ride.
It gets harder to get on my bike.
It gets harder to drag it down the steps and out onto the road.
It gets harder to think about myself as a fatguy on an orange bike.
Instead I think of myself as just a fatguy.
Instead I think of myself as worthless.
Not riding becomes easy.
Not riding becomes what I deserve.

Until I get on the bike and start riding. As I travel down the road I find that those thoughts, those crazy thoughts, fall to the roadside, I guess they can't hold on at that rocking 13 miles per hour. So I got a ride on Friday. Flock of Cycles March Ride, and truthfully I can't wait, and am scared at the same time.

What am I scared of?

I'm not really sure. perhaps it is part irrational fear that my cycling friends will all of sudden realize I'm this fat old guy and wonder what they are doing hanging out with me. Part is the rational fear that I'll be so out of shape that I will be the last person on the ride holding everyone up.

Still I know I'll be accepted, I know when I pull up to dippy the dinosaur I will be greeted and welcomed as prodigal son, and that keeps me going.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review - Planetbike Superflash Turbo

Awhile back whilst riding to work I managed to lose my rear flasher that I had clipped onto my backpack. The light must of slipped off the strap it was clipped to because when I got to work my backpack was lightless. As it was my plan to do some serious night riding I was concerned. So after work I stopped at my favorite local bike shop - Thick Bikes and was determined to get a cheap blinker and be on my way. I wasn't going to spend a lot of money to have the light end up in pieces on the street after sliding of the strap like the last one.

That's not what happened.

After tooling into the shop (Indoor bike parking!) and talking to Chris (the owner) for a little while. I looked at the different blinky lights. I noticed that one of the lights was so bright it could only be described as offensively bright. At 34$ this was more than I wanted to spend  considering what happened to the last one.

This is where having a local bike shop really pays off. I told Chris what happened to my last one, I showed him where I had it attached to my backpack and he showed me how to keep that from happening. Try doing that with an online store.

The light I bought is the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo. The light retailed at thick bikes for $33.99 + tax (which is also the price on the planetbike website at the time of this writing) and comes with a battery and several different options for mounting. Here are the specs from the website

  • One Watt Power LED plus 2 red LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
  • New attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern
  • Turbo flash mode is highly visible, even in daylight
  • Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
  • Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options
  • Soft-touch power switch accesses flashing or steady mode for up to 100 hours of run time on two AAA batteries
  • weighs 75 grams with batteries

The website also claims this to be the best taillight in the world.  I don't know about best in the world but it is the best one I have used to date. (did I mention offensively bright) The price was a little more than I expected it is worth every penny. I noticed that I could see the light from the blinky bouncing off the walls of buildings as I rode down the street, and when you are on a bike at night you need everything you can get to be more visible. So if you're looking for a new rear blinky or even if you aren't check out the superflash turbo. I think you will be surprised at how bright this little light is.

Now for how Chris secured the light to my backpack. one word. ziptie.

After clipping the light to the strap he ziptied the clip closed around the body of the light. You might also notice that ziptie lays between the lower LED lights so it doesn't block the light from either of them.


I have had several of my friends ask me why I prefer to have the rear blinky on my back instead of on the bike. Actually I would prefer to have lights on both the bike and my backpack but at the rate I manage to break them I usually only have one blinky. That being said, if I only have one light I would prefer it on my backpack for several reasons.  First reason, if the light is on my backpack it is higher up and, hopefully, more visible. Second reason, being the multi modal person that I am i find myself walking to bus stop in the dark, on morning that I don't take my bike. When walking in the dark the 3/8 mile to the bus stop I feel more visible with that blinky letting drivers know I'm there on the side of the road. Third and final reason, I just feel better knowing when I lock my bike up that the lights and cyclometer go with me. so not having the light attached to the bike is just one less thing I have to take off the bike when I lock it up.

I hope you will give this blinky a gander and if you are in Pittsburgh I hope you will give Thick Bikes a visit.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Pedal for the Pantry

pedal for the pantry

Last night I managed to get over to OTB for a bit of dinner and an adult potable (or 2) I needed to do something to life my spirits. I have ridden since the midle of Janurary and to tell the truth I'm starting to get a little twitchy. It seems my goals for the year are mocking me and all I do is work and sleep.

It is taking its toll on me. Mentally and Physically.

When I walked in a pretty girl smiled at me from behind the bar, a friend of mine was sitting at the bar, and the seat next to him was open. The gods were smiling. A snowmelt and tandem later and I could feel the tension leave my body. My friend, we will call him Paul (because that is his name) is putting together a great ride for the beginning of april. The ride is called Pedal for the Pantry and it will benifit the Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. This is a ride and a cause that I am firmly behind. In my younger, married, father of four life places like the food bank made a huge difference and I don't want to imagine what that part of my life would have been like without them.

So this is more than just "A ride" to me.

I felt like I had to do something more. That still small voice inside was pushing me. As we sat and talked about everyting that needed done and all the companies that had donated prizes that still small voice nudged me again. I hate it when he does that.

"You know what you have to do." Said that voice inside. He sounded cocky but he usually does, he's usually right.

So I sponsored a prize. I'm not telling what prize I sponsored (you have to show up to the ride to find out), and Im not writing this to brag since what I did really is no big thing. I'm writing this to first off, let you know about this great chance for you to get out, have a good ride and possibly change a person's life. Secondly, I'm writing this in hopes that others will read this and decide they want to do more, to step outside of themselves. If so I would strongly encourage you to head over to the Pedal for the pantry website or the facebook page and get in touch with Paul and find out what you can do help. Somethings I can think of off the top of my head:
  • Go on the ride
  • Sponsor a prize (even if it is 25$ gift card)
  • Donate food (more on that later)
  • Spread the word
I know a lot of people who are saying "Terry I don't even own a bike, I can't go this 'RIDE THINGY'" Well that's ok because you can always bring food to the event. Here is a list of the Most needed Items. You can bring them the Over the Bar bicycle cafe 2518 east carson between 1 and 4 on the day of the event.

So step up and step outside of your comfort zone and reach out to those less fortunate.