Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bike Falling Guinness Record?

I rode the 5 miles in to work with my new egg-beater pedals and bike cleats without incident. I was so excited to try them out and begin realizing the 10% boost in thrust I thought I heard about somewhere.

However, my fortunes shifted in the afternoon when after getting my hair trimmed and styled I began the return trip to the office by hopping on my egg-beater-equipped Rampar and heading out of the parking lot. Coming to a stop just behind an SUV that was leaving the parking lot, I realized that I had stopped without disengaging from the pedals. A second or two later I was writhing on the ground with a freshly scraped elbow.

One bright spot was that a concerned man behind me came and gave me a hand up. The kindness was really appreciated.

Thinking one good, painful spill was going to be enough to enact a Pavlovian caution response, you can imagine my surprise when not 30 minutes later I crashed again!

Perhaps I shouldn't blame Pavlov, since the basis of my second crash was arguably an excess of misplaced caution.

See, I decided for the short trip from building 1 to building 3, that I didn't even need to engage the pedals (elbow still throbbing a bit), which I didn't.
But my mind was a little distracted with smugness as I quickly caught and then passed others that were going to the same meeting I was heading for. And, as I shifted my weight to dismount, and my bike started tipping left, my cleat suddenly engaged in the pedal and Whomp! My second crash in about 30 minutes' time.

I was able to look up in time to see my coworker looking down on me looking smug that he wasn't foolhardy enough to ride a bike to meetings.

I got back on the horse, but not without wondering how many times I could get on that particular horse before I should begin questioning my sanity.

Monday, September 27, 2010


This post is a fireworks display.

It is a massive chrysanthemum of gold followed by a huge Ka-Boom!

Now it is a series of deep blue stars exploding until their streaks fill the sky from horizon to horizon, finishing with crackling hot-pink tips.

It is the stiffness in your neck from craning up to witness the ballistic show against the blue-velvet backdrop of the sky, flecked with diamond.

It is the cool smell of dew in the air
and on the grass
and on your blankets
and on your camera lens, which prevents you from snapping any more shots of the fireworks.

Finally it is tucking the children in bed. It is their contented faces, suffused with the novelty of massive, colorful explosions. It is their rummy little chubby faces reluctantly accepting they are too tired to party any longer. It is the proud knowledge you have amused them well and properly.

After all this is the 500th post on Letters From Amboy, so it should be something dynamic, special and memorable.

As you drift off in satisfied slumber, with party well thrown and everyone drowsy, you hear this post in the distance. Someone has made it into something like a stick of dynamite, and as you drift asleep it is ignited and the last thing you hear is a distant, rounded, earth-trembling

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bike Upgrade

To prepare for the eventual receipt of an electrified velomobile, I have decided to get and stay in shape so that when I do get it, I'll be ready to ride it all the way in to Vancouver for my commute.

My old mountain bike was pretty worn out and not ergonomic for me, so I upgraded my bike to a 1984 Rampar R-1 ten-speed bicycle.
It looks like this:

It rolls really nicely and is a larger frame than my old mountain-bike, so I have a lot less weight on my wrists.

However, recently I was reminded just how uncomfortable it is to ride in wet conditions with no fenders. The constant road-spray on the backside provides a chill, clammy sensation that is as hard to endure as it is to describe.

So, I was determined to resolve the fender problem this weekend.

Then I got to thinking about how much I needed a new pair of shoes. And, since I had discovered a pair of cleated biking shoes that work as "regular" shoes when you aren't biking.... I thought to myself (and explained to my very patient wife) that I might as well kill two birds with one stone and get the biking shoes I wanted and just use them as my every day shoes as well.

Once inside REI the typical REI-fever set-in and before you knew it, I had my fenders, my shoes and some nice egg-beater pedals from Crank Brothers to really upgrade. And I had some really nice socks and weather-resistant pants to keep the wind and rain off my "engine-house".

REI-fever tends to dent the budget, and this was no exception. However, if you look at the recent report from NPR, it puts the cost in a better perspective:
the annual cost of being obese is $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man.