Bicycling in and around Atlanta.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Heat Wave Continues

92 degrees and a code orange smog alert, can it get any better?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Kent Peterson Makes the News

Kent has the details here.  And I thought I having two teenage kids and just one car was tough.

Sweating Buckets

Well summer hit with a vengeance this weekend.  My holiday ride in 90 degree temperatures produced volumes of sweat even when I was riding at low speeds.  Summer may be the hardest time for cycling in the south, especially if you see your bike as a means of transportation and not just as a means of exercise in the early morning and late afternoon.  Midday trips to the grocery store can leave you feeling less than fresh.  So what to do?  For my part I tend to just deal with it.  I have no qualms about walking into a store dripping with sweat.  You’ll find that being sweaty isn’t the end of the world.  The worst thing that will happen is that you’ll get a few dirty looks from people who look like they don’t know the meaning of the word exercise.  I won’t lie between the heat and the hills, summer cycling can be a challenge in Atlanta but it’s a challenge that can be overcome with the right attitude.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Smog Alert

Today we got the first of what will no doubt be many smog alerts this summer.  How do you ride with a smog alert?  Usually on red and purple days I ride very slowly on the afternoon commute when the smog is at its worst.  If I feel the need to ride hard or fast I make sure to do that in the morning on my way to work.  Don’t let smog keep you from riding but don’t ignore the health consequences of breathing dirty air.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bike Rack Update

Cobb Chamber of Commerce: No bike rack.


The irony is that the CCC is also home to the Cumberland Commuter Club an organization created to promote alternative transportation solutions in the area.

Running Out of Gas

Last night on way home I was struck with a sudden weakness, my legs became wobbly, and I felt if I couldn’t make it up the next hill.  In short, I bonked.  Perhaps it was my lighter than average lunch, or maybe it was that candy bar I unwisely consumed before heading home, or was it the longer than normal commute combined with the warmer than expected temperatures.  Whatever the reason by the time I pulled into the Publix parking lot I felt like I couldn’t make it another inch.


So what did I do?  I did some shopping at Publix, drank some Gatorade, ate some jelly beans, and fifteen minutes later I was ready to go again.  What’s the point?  Well if you ride long enough eventually you’ll have a day where you get tired and feel like you can’t finish the ride.  Remember there’s no shame in taking a break.  A lot of people push themselves too hard especially in the summer.  If you don’t listen to your body you’re setting yourself up bad situation.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Lunchtime Rides

I often like to take a little spin at lunch.  It gets me out of the office and gets my heart pumping again.  But as you can imagine I don’t want to get too sweaty so here’s what I do. 


  1. Plan my route carefully to avoid big climbs near the end.
  2. Ride slow.  I’m not out to break any records on my lunch break.
  3. Have a destination.  Usually I ride to my house, a local eatery, or the park just down the road.
  4. Have fun.  My job stinks so a little mid-day cycling makes it almost bearable.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Backpacks, Messenger Bags, and Panniers

When I first started riding to work I threw all of my clothes in a backpack, the result was a very wet back when I arrived at my destination.  Then I switched to a messenger style bag which left a smaller but still very noticeable wet spot on my back.  Finally I wised up and bought a rack and some panniers.  Atlanta like most of the south tends to be hot and humid in the summer and while backpacks and messenger bags are convenient they can make riding downright uncomfortable.  Panniers while less convenient than either a backpack or messenger bags let you ride longer and more comfortably.  If you’re interested in trying panniers but don’t want to spend a lot of money check ebay for a second-hand set.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

WSJ Reports on Bike Commuting

Like all good office drones I read the WSJ daily.  Today on page D1 they report on the growing trend of bicycle commuting.  Matt over at Two Cities Two Wheels has kindly posted the story for all to enjoy.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

MIA: Atlanta Bike Racks

Every time I ride to the nearest branch of the library I'm greeted by a truly rare site, a bike rack.  Five years ago Creative Loafing ran this article about Atlanta's bike rack debacle.  While the situation has improved it still needs to be better.  What can we do?  The most important thing is to encourage the use of bikes as transportation.  More bikes on the road means more bike arriving at local businesses.  When businesses see their customers arriving by bike they’ll be more willing to listen to requests for bicycle accommodations.


As a public service I’ll start reporting which places have bike racks and where there really should be one.


The first list:

REI Perimeter (retail shopping):  Bike rack capable Capacity 3 bikes.

2300 Wildwood (office building): Bike rack Capacity 2 bikes.

Cobb County Library Vinings Branch: Old fashioned wheel bender type bike rack.  Capacity 5 bikes

Cobb County Library Main Branch Marietta: 2 Old fashioned wheel bender type bike racks. Capacity 10 bikes

Midtown Place (retail shopping): Several old fashioned wheel bender type bike racks.  Capacity over 20 bikes.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Carrying things

Joe over at Cycler’s Life has some great ideas.

Monday, May 08, 2006

When is a bicycle like a car?

In most states the answer is when you operate it after drinking.  But this case tells us that a bicycle isn’t like a car when it comes to search and seizure. 

What Happens When It Rains

Here’s a little story about the value of fenders.  Thursday I was fiddling with my bike and I wound up taking off the fenders.  Well Friday on the way home from work it rained, hard.  It’s been so long since I’ve ridden in the rain without fenders I had forgotten how terrible the spray from the road was.  So Friday night after cleaning and drying my bike I reattached my fenders and swore never to take them off again.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Hawk

This morning on my ride into work I was spotted a large hawk standing on the sidewalk enjoying his breakfast.  As I approached the hawk left his meal and flew to the lowest branch of a nearby tree.  He watched me pedal past with a definite; don’t even think about stopping and eating my food, look.  Once I passed I looked back to see him glide out of the tree and resume his meal. 


Thursday, May 04, 2006


It’s that time of year again as temperatures rise cycling inevitably leads perspiration.  So how do you cope when your morning commute leaves you looking like you just ran the marathon?  Some people are lucky enough to have showers at their work; these of course are the best option allowing you to cool off and clean up at the same time.  If showers aren’t available you’ll probably be surprised how well baby wipes work.  Running a baby wipe over the back of the neck, the small of your neck, your groin area, and your armpits leaves you feeling almost as refreshed as a shower.  When I first started commuting I packed a small baggie with a wet wash cloth and an ice cube.  When I arrived I would cool and clean myself with the cloth.  It was a great low cost solution for dealing with sweat.  Finally there are those little bottles of hand sanitizers.  I keep one in my desk drawer for use in a pinch.  These often contain alcohol so they can cool you off but too much may dry your skin.  Hand sanitizers are great for cooling off after running out for lunch.  The cooling provided by the evaporation of the alcohol feels great after being under the midday sun. 



If you ride in Atlanta anytime after April you’re going to sweat but with proper planning it’s not an obstacle to bicycle commuting.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Metro Atlanta suffers from a lot of what I like to call Can’t Get There From Here Syndrome or CGTFHS. CGTFHS is often found in cities and towns that have experienced a lot of growth over a short period of time. The main symptom of CGTFHS is old neighborhoods being cut in half by either new expressways or new limited access arterial roads. I present exhibit A. Behold Hazelwood Road.

Once a quiet neighborhood of shotgun homes filled with workers for the nearby Lockheed Plant, Hazelwood was literally cut in half by the construction of the GA 120 loop. My crude black mark shows where the road used to be. This bisection did more than just cut neighborhood in half, it also funneled more traffic onto the two roads that weren’t cut in half by the new road. Commuter cyclists often spend a lot of time planning their routes to avoid the busiest roads but here in Atlanta it seems that traffic planners in their car centric view seemed determined to funnel everyone on to the major arteries.

There’s another kind of CGTFHS and this one is caused by too many cars. Behold Stillwell Road.

Stillwell Road is a small twisty road that winds its way in Vinings Georgia. Over the years as traffic in the area increased the residents on Stillwell Road got tired of long lines of cars using the road as a shortcut. So the road was cut in half. Traffic engineers just put a big pile of dirt at the half way point in the road. Now this kind of CGTFHS can actually be boon to cyclists. A pile of dirt isn’t really an obstacle for a bike and the quiet, hilly, and twisty road is a nice ride. The problem is if I hadn’t lived here for years I wouldn’t know that Stillwell was cut in half by a pile of dirt and not a creek or gulley. Google maps is a great resource but because your bike can get you places a car can’t sometimes you have to take a chance to find a new route.

In a bit of irony Stillwell Road became so pleasant and quiet that a developer has recently decided to build a massive condo project on the road.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

15 Minutes

What a difference 15 minutes makes.  This morning due to a confluence of events I left for work 15 minutes later than I regularly do.  I was instantly reminded why picking your commuting time is almost as important as picking your commuting route.  15 minutes later traffic had increased by at least thirty percent.  15 minutes later I was right-hooked four times in two miles.  15 minutes later, a young lady applying makeup while driving rode dangerously close to my rear wheel for far too long.


When I finally arrived at work I was shocked to see another bike at the rack.  For only the tenth time in four years this building’s bike rack is at full capacity-2.   

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bike Month Day 1

Bike Month got off to a smashing start this morning with the total closure of I-285 south in Cobb County.  As me and my bike rolled along Interstate North Parkway I felt a tinge of pity for all those people trapped in their little metal boxes.