Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fat Guys 10 Rules for Cycling

Most if not all of you are at least familiar with the rules of cycling. I would be willing to bet that the statement “Rule 5!” has a special (if not beloved) place in your heart. My rules for cycling are a little different.

1. Go out and ride a bike!
2. Yes you can do it.
3. Support the local bike shop that supports you
4. Don’t Be a Dick
5. Any Excuse to ride is a good excuse
6. Be pro-bike not Anti-car
7. Always carry a spare tube and patch kit.
8. Be willing to give said tube or patch kit to total stranger
9. You can do so much more than you think you can
10. Go out and ride a bike!

Go out and ride a bike
My first rule is a bit of a simple self-explanatory rule, but it is also the most important. Go out and ride a bike. It’s what cyclists do, and it is all you have to do to be a cyclist. It doesn’t matter what kind of bike you ride, how much you spent on it, what you are wearing, or where you are riding to. All that matters is that you get on your bike and go for a ride. My first few rides were around the block where I lived, and by the time I had ridden 10 feet I was a cyclist.

Yes you can do it
If I can do it you can do it. Riding doesn’t have to be hard, hot, and sweaty. Riding should be fun. You should want to go out and enjoy the time you spend on your bike. More importantly you can enjoy the time you spend on your bike. Riding your bike will make you stronger. So that even if there are things you can’t do on your bike or places you can’t ride to. It is only a matter of time before the things you can’t do become those things you have done.

Support the Local Bike Shop (LBS) that supports you
It isn’t enough that you support your local bike shop. It is equally important that your local bike shop supports you. Are they willing to help out, teach you how to take care of your bike. Clearly explain what is wrong with your bike and show you what is broken. Are they friendly and willing to take time for you. (unless the place is busy, they need to make a living) Does the shop host rides or at least know what rides are going on and can point you in the right direction.

Don’t be a Dick
I could make this one rule it’s very own post, but I will try to limit myself to a single paragraph. What I mean is that you should be considerate of other cyclist, nod, smile, and say hello. Stop when you see someone stopped and make sure they are ok. Think of all the other cyclist around you as friends and treat them that way. Be willing and Able to help a new cyclist get comfortable on a bike. Lastly if you are one of the CAT 6ers out there who get upset at the slow people on the trails on saturday that are getting in YOUR way and riding slow on YOUR circuit and keeping YOU from getting YOUR miles in, do me a favor, get off the trail and on the road. You’re being a DICK!

Any excuse to ride is good excuse
Need to pick up some mike? Don’t hop in the car, hop on your bike. Beside actually using less gas and helping to save the planet you get to say things like “When I was biking to the store yesterday to pick up groceries...” and look like a total hard ass. There is never a bad reason to get on a bike and ride.

Go to the Store - Ride a bike
Go to work - Ride a bike
Stressed out - Ride a bike
Looking to get out of the house - Ride a bike
Looking to shut that person up - Ride a bike
Want to save the planet - Ride a Bike

I think you get the picture. Riding a bike is one of those things that doesn’t really have a down side.

Got to get somewhere in a hurry? What’s wrong with you, learn to plan ahead and lose the word “hurry” from your vocabulary. That in itself will bleed so much stress from your life that it deserves a post (or a dozen) of its own.

Be Pro-Bike not Anti-Car
This is a tough one for me because I don’t drive (I don’t have a license) so I have learned to plan my life around this fact. That being said I know that we live in a very car-centric culture and while I believe that there are many things you can do without a car, I also know that most people aren’t going to give up the car as their many mode of transportation.

I have become OK with this.

What I am hoping for is that you will begin to look at things such as Mass transportation, cycling, and walking as viable options for at least some of your transportation needs. It is one thing to convince people to get on a bike and do some riding, it is another thing to convince them to give up their cars.  Baby steps.

Always carry a spare tube and patch kit
I cannot stress this enough. Of all the mechanical problems I have had, and encountered with myself and other cyclists 80 to 90% of these could of been fixed with a spare tube or an allen wrench. We can argue about things like chain tools, duct tape, or a few spare links till the cows come home but if you carry a spare tube and a patch kit (and actually know how to use them) chances are you will make it home.

Be willing to give said tube or patch kit to total stranger
Unless you are a young girl on a dark trail alone at night this is possibly the best advice I can give for creating a positive attitude about cycling. When you see a cyclist pulled to the side of the road, even if he/she has people with them slow down and make sure they are ok. That patch it that you paid a buck and half for can make a huge difference in this person’s view of cycling. Please be aware of your surroundings when you do this. If you don’t feel safe about stopping then don’t stop or stop at a distance. Be safe first but also be willing to give up that extra tube or patch kit or bit of time to help another cyclist get home safely.

You can do so much more than you think you can
This is the first thing I learned when I first started to ride my bike. My first real ride was 10 miles, nothing special, just down to a local coffee shop and back. Something I would have never considered doing.

Yet I did it.

The day before my longest ride was three times around block. That is when I first realized that I was able to do so much more than I had convinced myself of.

I let my mind lie to me.
To convince me that I was/am capable of so much less.

I need to call myself out, You need to call yourself out. You need to understand that you are so much more, and you can do so much more than you could ever believe. We are all able to do so much more. If we can just quit listening to that voice in our head that tells us over and over again that we can’t

You Can!

Go out and ride a Bike
The truth is that I put this in twice because it is twice as important as the other eight rules (even the Don’t be a Dick rule) If you ride then you know just how much being out on a bike can change you, your feelings, your attitude, and most importantly your future.

Ride a Bike
Change Your Life.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Reverse Keg Ride

Every year East End Brewing holds two rides. One in the spring and one in the fall. Both of these rides are fantastic fun and better yet, both end with beer. Really good beer. Yesterday was the Reverse keg ride.

Allow me explain. In the spring is the keg ride where we deliver fresh kegs of Pedal Pale Ale (The spring and summer beer) to some lucky drinking establishment. (Yes we deliver the kegs by bike). In the fall we return some of the empty kegs from OTB Bicycle Cafe back to the brewery.

As usual Flock of Cycles (that being the official name for some of the best people in Pittsburgh) marshalled the ride (That is helped keep everyone safe). I'm not sure of the numbers but I am sure that this was the best Reverse Keg Ride I have been a part of. I was one of the last people to make it to the brewery but since my marshalling job was to run sweep with one of my most favorite people it's ok. (thanks again Sarah)

Here is a pic of the pre-ride Gathering at OTB. (click to enlarge) We had a good sized group for a cold and wet November day. The rain started at about the same time as the ride but only lasted a few minutes. The riders were dampened but their spirits weren't. The only part of this ride I have a problem with is the one hill that stands in our way (this is Pittsburgh after all, if you only have one hill then you consider yourself lucky.) I made it up the hill and since I was a sweeper  (riding the back of the pack to make sure no one got left behind.) It was ok that I was one of the last people up the hill.

We got to the Brewery with no problems and aside from a couple mechanical problems (that were quickly remedied) everyone made it to the Brewery safe, sound and happy.

Here is the Post ride at the brewery, again click the picture to enlarge. At the brewery we all got to be the first people to taste the fall / winter beer Snowmelt. (a personal favorite of mine) As you can see from the pictures costumes were encouraged. There was a contest for the best costumes and everyone got the reverse keg ride glass (that you see in the first picture) This ride is one of my favorite rides of the year, and one that I try very hard to make it to. I enjoy the ride, and the beer of course, but I love the people.

This ride reminds me of why it is so good to ride in Pittsburgh.

I will end this post with some pics from the ride.

Pre-Ride at OTB
Duck, Duck, Goose
Pretty Kitty
Scott the Beer Master