Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year in the Life of CR Biker

Amelia rides a toy horse with some help from grandma. Maybe a bike ride in 2012?

As 2011 draws to a close, time to look back and forward.

2011 was an eventful year for CR Biker. I experienced my first RAGBRAI, had someone try to run me off the road at night, broke several spokes and probably put more miles on my bike—due to RAGBRAI and training for RAGBRAI—than any other year in recent memory.

Audrey bought my current bike for me in fall of 2010. It’s not the perfect bike—I envied all the fast people on RAGBRAI with their swanky road bikes—but it’s a good compromise bike—better, I think, for everyday slow, old man riding to work use on bumpy Cedar Rapids streets than an actual road bike would be.

I wrote about RAGBRAI several times on this blog, and it’s definitely the highlight of my biking year. Will I do it again? I for sure will do at least a day this year, perhaps more, but we’ll see. I’m sure I’ll ride along with MMU, whatever the Mustang crew decides to do.

I am glad that my biggest mishaps this year were broken spokes—no spills on ice, no crashes with other bikes or cars, no scraped skin or broken bones. Knock on wood, I hope the trend continues.

It probably will. When my family moved to Iowa in 1966 when I was turning 8, my father had purchased a red Schwinn one-speed that he used to commute to Clinton Corn Processing Company. It became a present for my 8th birthday. I rode that bike until 1974, when I purchased a blue Schwinn 10-speed.

I didn’t part with that bike until fall of 2010 when my current black bike was purchased, although for more than a year the Schwinn was out of commission due to a broken brake brace weld and I was riding a Trek.

Anyway, in all my years of biking, I’ve rarely fallen off. One time I collided with my sister Toni during a ride in Muscatine in the 1970s. Once, in the 1990s, I took a minor spill attempting to go around pedestrians on the lake trail in Storm Lake, Iowa (I hit the edge of the cement going from grass to sidewalk).

Neither of those were serious spills. My one bad injury was the ice spill in Cedar Rapids along F Avenue in the naughts (what do you call the first decade of this century?), which was my fault since I should not have been riding on ice in the first place.

So, in 2012, I would have good reason to hope that, like in 2011, I won’t have any major spills. Knock on wood.

What else will happen, bike wise, in 2012?

Well, Amelia is too young now to be hitched into the bike trailer that her older brother Tristan loves. Sometime in the summer of 2012, on a day that’s not too hot, maybe she’ll have her first ride.

Cate and I have toyed with trying to do a ride to Waterloo, although a bridge that has been out since the 2008 floods is in the way. Maybe Waterloo will have to wait, but perhaps we can collaborate on another goal. And maybe I can persuade her, as a former MMU employee, to join our RAGBRAI one-day ride?

Otherwise, I just plan to continue to enjoy peddling. I’m sure some of those bike outings will be with Tristan, whose love of biking has shown no signs of waning.

Happy biking to all of you in 2012!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Some Bike Bling For Christmas

My bike loot. Gloves and helmet, and then all the electronic gadgets. Coolest is the tire stem lights. Hope the batteries last for a while!

As I noted in the previous blog post, I got some new biking “stuff” for Chrismtas—new gloves, a new helmet, several new lights, a new computer.

Today, I spent some time pimping up my bike. The easiest to install were the tire lights—Audrey got me tire stem covers that light up whenever the tires move.

She also got me a second rear light and a rear helmet light, both of which work and were easy to install.

The only off note was the new computer. It has cool functions, including, it says, a thermometer, and it’s wireless, too.

But in 45 frustrating minutes, I could not get the sensor on the wheel to communicate with the computer. I have no idea what the problem is, but I had to give up after a while. Audrey suggested a bike ride would help cool me off, so I took a brief, dusky pedal up to the top of the Brentwood Drive hill, and felt much better afterwards.

I’ll try fiddling with the computer later on this week.

But, all in all, I am set for more riding! I’m definitely going to be more visible, hooray!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Better Than a Sled on Christmas Eve

Tristan at Bowman Woods School.
Tristan wears helmet.

Nikayla at Bowman Woods School.

Well, blog pals, I have not done much riding this week since I’m off work over the holidays.

Yet, I got a ride in today. We did the big family gift unwrapping on Christmas Eve this year, and I got some bike loot, including a new computer since I had snapped the wires on my previous one, a new pair of bike gloves since I had lost a glove this winter and a new helmet—the old one was a bit worn.

As soon as he saw the helmet, my bike loving grandson Tristan grabbed it, donned it and rode off on his small indoor toy wooden bike.

Late in the afternoon, I suggested a walk, and he enthusiastically agreed, but then suggested “ride bike?” He was thrilled when I agreed, and then said, “ride bike to park?”

So my son Jon borrowed my bike as I pedaled my wife’s, which has the kid trailer attached, where Mr. T rode. Some of the women in the family, and Nikayla, walked to the park as the boys biked.

It was cool, but nice. We went, we played, we biked home (with Nikayla this time). I think Jon respects me a bit more for my having ridden Old Blackie all the way across Iowa, but I am not sure he’s ever gone as slowly on a bike as when he accompanied me towing both kids.

On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prancer … On Two Wheels! I didn’t have any reindeer to pull me and I didn’t fly, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas Eve excellent bike adventure with Jon and Mr. T—and Nikayla, too!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cool Trip Down the Barely Light Trail

Sites along the Cedar River trail in Cedar Rapids in December.

A blog post I started last week but had not finished, but photo could have been taken today:

Thursday was a cool day, but not bad for biking. But, on the way to the office, I heard a familiar but dreaded “pop.”

A broken spoke.

I had planned to bike to an afternoon appointment and then to see Shirley at Promise House, but ended up driving the van instead. I mentally prepared myself to face my two-week Christmas break sans bike, not a happy time.

But, when I took the bike to Northtowne that afternoon, they asked me if I would use it the next day, should they fix it right away. Well, yes, yes I would.

And they did. Nice.

So today I biked to the office, then to lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings on Blair’s Ferry with some of the newspaper staff. It had warmed a bit in the afternoon, so I took the slightly longer trail route.

I do prefer the warm, green summer trail, but even with the sun hanging low in the south and casting long shadows midday, it’s a pleasant December for biking.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

If I Have Not Used This One Before, I Should Have

Took a chance Tuesday and rode, and paid for it with a damp, dark commute home.

Still, one can’t complain when it’s 50 in December. Unless one is a biker and it’s raining all day. I had the “pleasure” of driving the van today.

Then again, given how we the week’s forecast was, I’ll stop whining. I did ride Tuesday and it looks like I will ride tomorrow-including to an off-campus internship conference that will give me an excuse to use the Cedar River Trail.

Happy days. Meanwhile, still, I wonder …