Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm finally on Youtube!

Well, I finally joined the new Century and posted something on Youtube. Nothing fancy or artistic, but it's mine.

Broke out the Helmet Cam and took a ride into Downtown. Not exciting, just a ride set to music.

I'll do better in the future. This is just my budding attempt at something different. Edited on my Mac.

Monday, February 19, 2007

First day as a Bicycle Courier

Now before you drop dead of a heart attack, I'm still working as a Paramedic. This is just something to pass the time on my days off when I don't have anything else to do. Since I spend a bunch of time at the bike shop anyways, the boys just decided to put me to work. I'm glad they did.

It really wasn't much different than anything I do now, I just did a lot more of it. Which is pretty cool in my opinion. It reinforced just how much I do enjoy riding. One thing I do know is that I need to get a quicker lock. The chain is heavy and the cable is a bit on the cumbersome side. Should probably look into the streetcuffs. Those are pretty quick.

Ended up doing just under 20 miles today. When I plotted it out on the G-Maps Pedometer, it was amazing just how sporadic the travel was. As an aside, the G-Maps Pedometer is an awesome little program. Especially if you like to track your mileage (like I do), but don't have a computer on your bike. I haven't put one on the Fixed gear, and so far I like it that way. Although sometimes it would be nice to know how fast I'm going, since I'm a bit of a techno-weenie that way.

As you can see, I was kind of all over the place today...



One thing I do have to say, I wish I was either independently wealthy... or that the courier gig paid enough to live the lifestyle I have grown accustomed to. It was incredibly fun today. Can't wait for my next day off so I can do it some more.

<CAUTION! INSANELY BORING TECHNICAL BIKE STUFF!!!>
The new (to me) Fixie is holding up pretty well also. I was a bit worried about the bottom bracket, as the threads on the drive side cup were stripped out. I JB Welded it in and so far it seems to be holding up, even when I attack on the hills. However, I know a Stronglight Bottom Bracket is in my not too distant future. I just hope that future is further, as opposed to sooner.

That, along with a new Sugino Crank, and the new Deep V's with Surly Jim Brown hubs... would be incredibly sweet looking on the Schwinn.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Lance on the Colbert Report

I'll preface this by saying that I'm not a huge Lance fan. I respect what he did/has done, but I'm not a groupie. I like Levi much more, and also really enjoyed watching Floyd last year in the tour ( with special emphasis on Stage 17). That said, I love what he is doing with the Livestrong Foundation. This is a topic gets a very strong response from me, my Brothers life was forever changed by cancer, and I lost my Mother two years ago. So to see Lance out there giving it this much focus earns my respect.

He appeared on the Colbert Report on Feb 14th. and I thought it was good enough to share.




I don't watch the show (obviously since we don't have a TV), but I think he is one of the quicker witted guys out there right now. In limited doses he has a pretty good show.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another night out on the town

Sharon and I found another great little restaurant in town called Greenwoods German and European Restaurant. It only recently opened on the Bluebonnet Traffic Circle.

Sharon mentioned it because she saw a review of it in the paper. Apparently so did everyone else in the surrounding neighborhoods. The place was packed.

A few things I find worth mentioning about the place. It wouldn't hurt them to take a lesson or two about managing a dining establishment. There was no hostess, no waiting list, no busboys, and little to no communication with the patrons waiting in the foyer. Sharon and I waited about 20 minutes to be seated, even though there were two tables open (one clean, the other needing to be bussed). However, we noticed that they all seemed to be at their wits end because they were decidedly not expecting this much business their first week of business. In an uncharacteristic move on our part, we waited it out to try the food. I'm glad we did...

This is a great little place. We really didn't mind waiting as the staff was so incredibly nice and accommodating to us. The food was very good, with reasonable prices as well.

The menu is pretty varied and several things looked mighty tasty. However, we decided to stick with an old favorite, Jaeger schnitzel. It was very very good and between that, the potatoes, the red cabbage, and the SpƤtzle... we were stuffed. The table next to us ordered some dessert, and while it looked fantastic, I don't know where they found the room to put it.

Also, Sharon had the Franziskaner Hefeweizen and she seemed to like it very much. Unfortunately I was on call, so I was unable to drink. Oh well, next time...

If you're looking for a new place to try, give 'em a go. Hopefully they'll have the bugs worked out soon.

Friday, February 9, 2007

A big news day...

I was perusing my regular haunts I came across this little jewel that is definitely worth passing on. I feel this bill is important on so many levels. As a recreational cyclist and cycling commuter I think this can save lives, and help lead the way to tougher punishments against those who negligently, and needlessly, injure and kill cyclist.

When the public safety version of this bill (SB 545.157) passed I was glad and thought it should have been done years ago. In the 15 years I've been in the Fire and EMS world, I've had more than my share of close calls with inattentive drivers and cars that carelessly passed too closely. Once they get inside that car they seem to disconnect themselves from the outside world with little thought to how dangerous their actions can be. I don't understand it.

Anyway, if you are a cyclist around here, or know a cyclist... support this bill. If it makes just one driver more aware of their actions, the life it saves could be your own.



SB248: Senate Transportation Committee Hearing Feb. 14!!

SB248, the Safe Passing Bill, which was authored by Senator Rodney Ellis, will be presented to the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday, February 14. We are working to present our case and need help from constituents in the districts of the Senate Transportation Committee members.

With the Senate Transportation Committee Hearing approaching next week, it is urgent that you contact your SENATOR if he/she is on the Senate Transportation Committee. The Senate Transportation Committee members are: Senate District 2 - Senator Bob Deuell (R), Senate District 3 - Senator Robert Nichols (R), Senate District 4 - Senator Tommy Williams (R), Senate District 8 - Senator Florence Shapiro (R), Senate District 10 - Senator Kim Brimer (R), Senate District 13 - Senator Rodney Ellis (D), Senate District 14 - Senator Kirk Watson (D), Senate District 16 - Senator John Carona (R), Senate District 25 - Senator Jeff Wentworth (R), Senate District 29 - Senator Eliot Shapleigh (D).

If you are not sure who your state senator is, follow this link: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/ and enter your address to find out who represents you.

Please send a letter and contact your Senator if you live in his/her district to show your support of the Safe Passing Bill. This is the most important legislation for cyclists in Texas' history. We will be protecting the lives of cyclists throughout the state.

SB248: The Safe Passing Bill
The Safe Passing Bill would require a motorist to give at least three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist and would require a commercial vehicle to give at least six feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist.

Approximately 50 cyclists per year are killed in bicycle-automobile crashes in Texas. About 40% of those are killed by motorists traveling in the same direction. Most of those 20 deaths per year could be prevented if this law were enacted and obeyed by motorists.

The Safe Passing Law, modeled on the Move Over Act (for emergency vehicles) which passed in the 2003 Texas legislative session, simplifies the punishment issues and provides a clear framework for identifying the obligations of a passing motorist to either move over or slow down when passing a cyclist. With this law, the vision of "Share the Road" can be fully realized.
Learn more...

Texas Bicycle Coalition
The Texas Bicycle Coalition is continually working to advance bicycle access, safety, and education for the state of Texas.

Website: http://www.BikeTexas.org/

Texas Bicycle Coalition
Robin Stallings
Executive Director
email: advocacy@biketexas.org
phone: 512-476-7433 Texas Bicycle Coalition
Kristina Gaboury
Membership Director
email: membership@biketexas.org
phone: 512-476-7433

This just in...

I don't know if many of you are familiar with Panther City Bicycles on Magnolia, but if you are you know Bernie and Jason. Great guys with a great little shop. Well, Bernie has decided to enter the political arena and is running for a seat on City Council (District 9).

He has had a blog up for a few weeks now, and has finally put up his website.

I'm glad he's running, as he has some good ideas that could be very beneficial for the city. That, and he really loves Fort Worth. Not that Wendy Davis hasn't done a fine job all the years she's been on the council, I feel that she's represented our district well (I think she would even make a pretty good Mayor- she's motivated and active in this city). However, it would be nice to see some new faces on the Council.

If any of you live in District 9, give Bernie a shout and see what he has in mind for the city of Fort Worth... he might just want to take Fort Worth's future in the same direction you do.

Commuting in the Dark


I thought I would incorporate two of my favorite hobbies today. Cycling and photography. Granted these aren't my best compositions, but I don't do many night shots and this is something I've been wanting to work on. These photos also reinforce what I've thought for a while. I need a small tripod if I'm gonna keep doing this.




Here is one of the biggest reasons I do what I do...



Makes the long hours at work worthwhile. My family is a constant reminder that this whole work thing is a means to an end and that I work to live. Not live to work. Pay no attention to the artwork on the wall. Our budding artist was apparently experimenting with different mediums. The theme of the week must be graffiti.

You'll notice there's no picture of my wife sleeping. Probably wouldn't have gone over nearly as well.

I love riding into work. This is one of the most worthwhile things I've done in a while. Even on the coldest days my ride in is peaceful and I feel great by the time I get to work.



Coming down 6th is nice since they put in the new street lights. They are very nicely done for this historic neighborhood.



There is certain serenity that is accomplished while riding that is hard to duplicate. I can't even describe how quiet it is. The only way to understand is to experience it yourself.









When I reach Magnolia, I see the first car of my trip. Actually, the only car on this commute. There just isn't that much traffic at 5am. Which is fine by me.





If you've been thinking about commuting by bike, I can't recommend it highly enough. It takes a little planning and perseverance, but it is an endeavor worth pursuing.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Fort Worth Bike routes!

Finally the new bike routes are here.

Yes I know this is not completely new news, but I was waiting for a chance to get some pics. Plus I've been busy and not everyone is familiar with them. Anyway...

A BIG thanks to everyone who has been working on this. Jim Wilson at LMRA Bike Club, Texas Bicycle Coalition, specifically Dr. Byron de Sousa, Fort Worth Streams and Valleys, and countless other cyclist that have been involved in this movement. The letters, attendance at City Council meetings, and general involvement has been awesome. Another big thanks goes out to the Fort Worth City Council for seeing this through. I know I'm leaving people out, but I've had more than my fair share of Single Malt Irish Whiskey for the evening so we're working without a net!

I've been riding some of these routes for a while now and really enjoy them. They seem to work out pretty well. For those of you that aren't familiar with the concept, a bike route differs from a bike lane on a couple of levels. A bike lane is a dedicated lane that locks you into that lane. Good news is it belongs specifically to you the rider. This is great in rush hour, or other heavy traffic situations as you can just scoot on by. The bad news is that it seems to be where all the glass and road debris seems to always end up. Also seems to be a magnet for poorly parked cars.

A bike route however, is designed to let the cyclist, and motorist, know that this is a decent street to ride down. Usually due to lower traffic volumes, wider shoulders or possibly dedicated bike lanes, and direct lines to other bike routes. Similar to the Interstate system, but obviously on a much smaller scale.

Here's a map with the bike routes out there:

This is an older map, but it looks like most of the routes I rode were there. If I find more current map I'll update it.

I decided to get out there on the fixed gear and take some pics. I'll only post a few.

This is what the bike route signs look like:

Just for your information, if it's a two number designation then the route goes North and South. If the sign has a three number designation (like the one pictured), then the route runs East/West. If you have a general idea of where you want to go, you can pretty much follow these all the way up to Southlake. I don't know why you would want to go to Southlake, but it's possible. I know, I've done it. I didn't like it, but it is possible.












Another thing you'll notice is on the streets. There is a bicycle imprint on the street with arrows designating the direction of travel. Someone told me it's to let you know which side of the street to be on. This makes sense to me, as many of the other bicycle commuters I see in the neighboring areas are Hispanic. From what I've read, the common practice in Mexico and Central/South America is to ride against traffic. Which is exactly the opposite of what we do here.


The road markings are a decent size and seem to
be placed about every block or so. One in each direction. I think this will work out nicely.

To finish up my ride I hopped on the trail and put in a few miles. It was a beautiful day today. Way too nice to waste sitting around. I actually felt bad that I wasted as much time at home as I did. I could have gotten an incredible ride in today had I only left earlier. Well, I made up for that by tackling Taylor Street hill. It's bad enough on a geared bike. For a fixed gear pushing out 70 gear inches, it can be painful.


Here's the view from the bottom. It has a false flat about halfway up then gets even steeper as it continues onward.









The view from the top is pretty sweet though. It's always nice to survive a climb. Especially since I'm not a climber.








The weather is getting nicer, so all you fair weather cyclist get ready. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you pull out that bike to start commuting again and see the changes that have come about over the winter.