Good news, blog fans. CR Biker is apparently going on RAGBRAI.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Good news, blog fans. CR Biker is apparently going on RAGBRAI.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
That's right, Fun Fruits are cool. That's a shot from Easter Sunday, my grandson Tristan enjoying some fruit snacks.
- The weather. It was cool (and damp this morning, although dryer and nicer going to the prez res and coming home).
- Parking. I didn't want to leave old blackie out in the morning mist, so I walked my bike into my building . My office is at a dead end stub of hallway, so I was able to simply park my bike outside my door. Try that with your SUV.
- Wearing a light that blinks on your head. Small children, in particular, seem to like it. It wasn't today, but one time when I was biking I heard a young boy, probably around 3, explain to his mother "he's got a light on his head!" Yes child, I do. How cool is that? Freaking awesome.
Monday, April 25, 2011
As a blogger, I’m a bit divided. I write a general, garden-theme blog at Wordpress—crgardenjoe.wordpress.com—and this biking blog.
One of my blog IDs doesn’t mind rain, unless it gets really excessive. For a gardener, wet is better than a drought.
But for a biker, rain is not too helpful. Now, I know if I get into RAGBRAI, I may have to ride in some rain, but I don’t commute when it’s wet. Both too uncomfortable, and too dangerous.
Anyway, I did get 10 miles in today, commute to and from MMU. And I was sprinkled on in the afternoon, but got home before the rain really started.
From the looks of things, I’m driving tomorrow. Hope to be back in the saddle later this week.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Today, I rode my bike out to the 7 mile marker on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and back again.
From my house, it took me 25 minutes to get to the Boyson Road trail head, about the same time it takes me to ride 5 miles to Mount Mercy. So, let’s conservatively say that I rode 3 miles to get to the trail, 7 miles out and back and another 3 home. Voila! 20 miles!
It took me 2 ½ hours, which is pretty darn slow, but I timed the first few trail miles carefully, and I was going at 12 miles per hour (5 minute miles). At that pace, why did it take so long? Well, the trail is not paved after about 4 miles, and recent rains left the limestone path a bit mushy, so I’m sure I slowed down. I’m also sure I sped up at the end, because the wind favored me heading south and I rode in 15th gear, which I had not used headed into the wind, but the slowness of the mushy trail more than made up for the wind-enhanced speed.
I stared on the trail at 5:27 and returned to the zero mile marker at 7:05. Obviously, I fell behind the 12 mph pace. I was hoping to approach 15 mph, because that would mean a 75 mph RAGBRAI day would be a 5-hour ride, but I’m not riding that fast.
Anyway, pace is not as important as endurance. My back is pretty stiff and my butt is not happy with me right now, but I’m thinking my legs, in particular, my knees, may be able to survive RAGBRAI if I keep pushing the distance.
Of course, I don’t know if I’m in RAGBRAI yet, but I’m getting ready just in case! The day was a bit breezy, cloudy and cool when I rode, but I’m sure glad to have this trail handy.
Sadly, lots of trees have been mowed down on the stretch I rode in preparation for paving work. Then again, I have to admit that my ride kind of showed the need for asphalt on that part of the trail!
I hope sometime in early June maybe Cate and I can ride to Urbana. That would be a 13 mile trip there, for 26 miles on the trail or around 32 overall from my house. About half an easy RAGBRAI day.
Notes on photos:
First one is zero miles as I start the trail.
Second is six mile marker, where I first considered turning around.
Third, a robin yelled at me at the six mile marker while I was thinking of turning back, so I felt duty bound to go on for another mile.
Fourth, the seven mile marker where I did turn around.
Fifth, this sign amused me. No matter how fast you ride your bike, I think you could tell that there is a tunnel up ahead in plenty of time.
Sixth, a view of the next tunnel (headed south now). Requires no warning sign other than a generic wildlife one, I guess.
Seven—mushy trail north of five mile marker.
Eight—another reason ride took a bit of time—stopping to take all these photos. For this one I dismounted (yes, it’s my bike). Some of the county equipment that is ripping out trees to get ready for paving a stretch of the trail.
Nine—some removed trees left neat stumps. Others looked like they used dynamite to cut them.
Ten—mushy trail on Otter Creek bridge. Don’t know why, but it surprised me the deck of a bridge would be so mushy.
Eleven, looking west at Otter Creek.
Twelve-one mile marker, almost back to end of trail. Sumac grown here where power lines cross trail, somehow this photo captures both the beauty of nature and the bleakness of this particular day. I’m fond of Sumac, not poison Sumac but the generic, harmless bush commonly found in sunny forest glades in Iowa. It has attractive foliage and interesting fruit.
Thirteen, just for my plant fans, a final look at some Sumac near mile marker one.
Well, I survived the ride. I’m ready for more journeys!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Hmmm. Doing serious research into the RAGBRAI culture.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
My commute this morning was a bit unusual. It was a wee bit chilly, but really not too bad. That wasn't the unusual part--I had a class scheduled to tour The Gazette in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
I used this photo in my other blog, which has a gallery of photos from the snow this morning. See it here.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
The Master's Golf Tournament ended recently and somebody not named "Tiger" won.
Friday, April 8, 2011
It's back! Picked up old blackie (name is a joke, it's my new bike) from the bike shop Thursday.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
I hope that the CRPD isn’t reading my blog too closely—I may come close to admitting a few crimes.
Not serious ones, mind you. Not kicking puppies or stealing cookies from HyVee. But, by their nature, traffic laws were written mostly to control cars, and by their nature, bikes and bike riders have some problems following them.
That is sometimes a source of friction for car drivers who don’t appreciate bikers. My own philosophy is that wherever I’m biking, I’m to some extent borrower turf from someone. If I’m on a trail or sidewalk, I owe pedestrians the respect of an audible warning if I’m approaching from behind, and plenty of room if I’m passing the other way. The walkway belongs first to them.
If I’m on the street, I try to cycle in a way that doesn’t obstruct or bother motorized vehicle drivers. However, I do think it’s important to note that streets were originally built for horses and carriages and then bicycles—in the scheme of things, historically, cars are borrowing the street from me. Those of us on two wheels were there first.
Practically, however, that doesn’t mean much. As a biker, I am a much quieter, slower and smaller vehicle than any car or motorcycle. I can easily get in the way but not be seen or heard. For my own safety, I can’t pretend that I own the streets.
So where does crime come in?
First of all, many bikers, including yours truly, will do “California,” or rolling stops at some stop signs. I don’t at any busy intersection, and certainly I don’t at any 4-way stop when a car is on the other street. But as a biker, I can see and hear differently than people driving cars can. I have better peripheral vision and I’m out in the open with my ears tuned only to birds and traffic. Trust me, car drivers, even if you’re in a Prius, you’re noisy compared to a bike, and I’ll hear you long before I see you. So, if I’m at the corner of, say, Lindale and 27th Street, do I come to a complete stop at the stop sign?
Sure. If I hear a car …
You could argue that the CRPD should ticket me next time I do a rolling stop just to teach us bikers a lesson. I would think you’re nuts, but you could argue it. The next piece of scofflawery, I think, is more systemic. I have less choice in the matter if I am to bike in Cedar Rapids. Sometimes, inevitably, to get from here to there, I will run a red light.
Gasp! The horror! Before you drivers pick up torches and pitchforks (or tar and feathers), let me explain.
Many traffic lights these days are controlled by sensors in the street. Those sensors are not sensitive enough to respond to a 280-pound weight (me on a 30 pound bike). If I am to cross, say, Old Marion Road at F Avenue, I’m either waiting for a car or running the light when I think it’s clear.
Please don’t think less of me, but what, honestly, would you do? You’d run the light, too.
At Collins Road and F Avenue, I have more patience. But I do “steal” the light. Let’s say I’m headed north, going home in the afternoon. Rockwell Collins employees will be doing the same thing, but they’ll be exiting Rockwell Collins, headed south.
Their SUVs and cars will trigger the light. And when the Collins Road lights glow red, there will be a 2-second delay before their southbound F Avenue light turns green.
That’s when CR Biker steals the light—crossing when my light is red, but only because my light will never turn green until a car comes along going my way.
Be very careful if you ever “steal the light” at this corner—you have to watch the traffic and make sure no Collins Road driver is going through a “pink” light, or that no left-turner is jumping the gun. You have to watch both Collins Road lights—usually, one turns red and a left turn signal comes on for the other direction on Collins before the F Avenue cycle starts. So you have to know both the lights and the traffic patterns.
But if you do know the light, you’ll steal the light, too. It’s what all bikers do because we have to. Even if, historically, we were there “first,” traffic control lights are car-friendly and not bike-friendly, and many corners don’t have accessible pedestrian signal lights that bikers could use (I do use pedestrian lights if they are available and accessible, but sometimes they are there but not useful, like at F and Old Marion where there is a cross light, but one you can’t reach from a bike).
CR wants to be a bike friendly town. Figuring out a way to make traffic signals bike friendly would solve a lot of my biking-in-the-city problems.
Anyway, I’m hoping my crime confessions won’t get me in too much trouble. We’ll see.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
When did it happen?
Monday, April 4, 2011
Ben, just in case you're reading my blog, I put your bike inside. Late in the morning it did spit a little rain, but the loaner mountain bike stayed nice and dry.
I had bell practice tonight at 6, so it was probably 7:15 by the time I left work. I tried a new route I'd' been contemplating--basically, staying on Eastern Avenue NE headed north until I got to 35th Street. After going east on 35th, I turned and went up F behind Kenwood School.