Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cars... Cranks & the City!


About once every 2-3 weeks some nutcase in an expensive automobile deems it necessary to remind me my eco-friendly bicycle is slower than a gas-guzzling automobile.

On my 15 mile commute home (from work) this evening, for example, a nice/shiny/new VW SUV driver felt the need to rev his engine as he edged his way towards me from behind -- at a stop. Ahead of me was a cyclist with no lights (after dusk) who couldn't decide whether he wanted to ride on the sidewalk or the street. As we waited for our turn to make our way through the STOP sign, the SUV jockey kept revving his engine. I wondered whether he was simply trying to challenge me in a friendly drag race. But I was ON A BIKE. Of course, I did my best to ignore him. It wasn't a difficult task. Milwaukee boasted 40-55 mph winds today, and I was riding at night in a busy part of the city during rush hour.

We finally got our chance to re-enter moving traffic when the brilliant VW pulled alongside me... and continued to rev that motor. When I glanced over my shoulder, to check traffic behind me, he sped past. And he leered in my direction with a slight sneer painted on his Chevy Chase. I'll be -- a car is faster than my pedal rocket.

As I mentioned earlier, this happens on a semi-regular basis. It's not always the same driver... which makes the happening even more remarkable. It means there is no dearth of drivers who think drag racing against bicycles proves their superiority. And, yes, it's always a male. I'm a male... a Latin one at that... I begrudgingly accept the whole men gauging their manhood based on their prowess over other men. But I was riding a single gear bike in low 30s weather during a wind advisory, and this guy's in a nice warm, fast, wind resistant, motorized coach. Nonetheless, even on a sunny, calm day... and a bike of 500 gears... I'm bowing out of a race against a car, hombre.

It's just a weird thing I go through every so often. So far, I've experienced this ritual with the same GTO 4 times, a few pick-up trucks, a Cadillac, one Hummer, and this nutty VW SUV (click the title for a giggle). "Does this happen to any other cyclists?", is what races through my mind during these surreal moments. Well... does it happen to you?!

And I thought "Roadies" were a bit loony.

Keep on pedaling!


- @

"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." -JFK

Saturday, November 12, 2011

City... Cold & Cranks!


I had my first real experience riding in the cold this week. As the name of the blog indicates, I live in Milwaukee WI... the second coldest city in the US. It is November... winter begins flirting with the idea of hanging out a few times before it finally sets up shop.

I'd always assumed my cold-riding threshold would be at a slightly warmer temperature than I was actually able to ride recently. I recall reading about a reasonable cold weather threshold of 50 degrees. [I've found] as long as my fingers, ears, neck and shins are covered I am fairly comfortable... even below 40 degrees.

This week, we had temps in the upper 20s to low 30s. Cycling generates a bit of body heat. The heat builds with distance (and hills). I do think December 1st will end up being the date I park (and tinker around with) my trusty two-wheeler for the winter. I don't fancy pedaling a road bike through snow and well below zero wind chills. I know skipping the ride December through February will be torturous, though. Maybe that's the reason the lower 30s didn't feel so bad? Maybe that has something to do with the fact riding in (even) cold + rain puts a smile on my face? I'm fairly certain this eventuality has more than a little to do with the joy I had while cranking through flurries Thursday.

Like most creative people, I have more ideas scribbled into notebooks and thumb nailed into sketchbooks than I have time to realize them. But I've felt inspired while riding and reading/re-reading my copies of Bicycle Times magazine. Recently, the publication featured an Italian gentleman called Paolo Chiossi. The bikes he creates are nothing short of artistic brilliance. Inspiration has kicked into overdrive. You can check out his site via the title link above or in the 'artistes' section of this blog.

We've got comfortable temps and sun today. I'm off!

Enjoy your weekend!


- @