Bicycling in and around Atlanta.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Amtrak and Georgia DOT Endanger Beltline?

The Beltline is Atlanta's plan for a new intown transportation corridor composed of light rail and multi-use paths. It's had a fitful existence so far, with a step back for every two steps forward. Last week it may have had its legs knocked out from underneath it. Amtrak and the Georgia Department of Transportation have filed papers with the Federal Surface Transportation Board that lay claim to a planned section of the Beltline along the northeast corridor.

Amtrak's plans include a "high-speed" rail connection with Charlotte, North Carolina. And while I'm a big fan of inter-city rail, Amtrak's plans are fundamentally flawed. First their "high-speed" rail isn't really high-speed. Because Amtrak plans to use existing tracks, the same ones currently used for freight, the top speed would be limited to 100 miles an hour. Which sounds fast but when you consider the train (like the Acela in the northeast) would likely have to slow down many times on the route, you realize 100 mph isn't that fast. Secondly look what it would have to compete with. Want to go to Charlotte, a regular Amtrak ticket will run you $62, let's estimate a high-speed train ticket would be $100, what are the other options. Well you could drive, 250 miles at 25 miles per gallon that's ten gallons, at $4 a gallon that's $40. Of course you can't drive 100 mph but on that stretch of road the speed rarely drops below 75. Or you could fly on one of Airtran's internet specials for $39.

Now don't get me wrong, I want high-speed inter-city rail. I just want it done right. To have real high-speed rail we need new tracks exclusively for passenger rail. And it has to be subsidized. I know that's a dirty word in the USA, but if you want people to use a cleaner more efficient mode of transportation you've got to make it cheaper while making other forms of transportation more expensive.

So if you want to save the Beltline and want to stop Amtrak from creating another money hole, write your representatives in congress and the Georgia DOT.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


As I close in on 40, I'm rediscovering the value of stretching. Now I make a practice of stretching before I do any serious exercise. And if I don't like today, well I pay for it with aches and pains. So my advice for you younger folks, stretch more when you're young and maybe you'll feel better when you get to be my age.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Car-tastic Day

Well I had a million errands to run today which necessitated driving. Oh the convenience of cars, first there was the problem that it had no gas, oh and all the tires were low because it hadn't been driven in a while, once I got on the 285 well there was the traffic.

I just got home; 14 hours and 100 miles of driving later. What a car-tastic day!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Can you take it with you?

This weekend involved a run to costco. I've made no secret of my desire for an Xtracycle but even my old commuter managed this impressive haul:

A huge thing of toilet paper
A dozen a half of eggs
Two loaves of bread
6 pounds of ground beef
4 pounds of chicken
and a pack of apples

Not bad. But with an Xtracycle I could have taken even more.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Idle Bike Thoughts Vol. 2

Bike technology has advanced a lot in the last 20 years, so how come I've never had a bike as comfortable to ride as my old Centurion.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dummy of the Day

Ah John Boehner, you never fail to entertain. From Bike Portland via Yehuda Moon:
“I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are necessary?…But if we’re talking about beautification projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.”

Here's the thing. Anything we can do to get more people out of their cars and onto bikes is a good thing. Now I know there's a vigorous debate in the cycling community about the utility of bike paths but I see it like this. Nothing is more reassuring to a novice cyclist than limited access and controlled grades. And when you live in a city like Atlanta where many of the roads where laid out in the era of the automobile, you find that many of the roads are difficult to bike because instead of working with the natural contours of the land, they simply go straight up and over. So John Boehner which do you think further America's energy independence more, a few more oil wells or getting millions of Americans out of their cars on a bike path.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cost of Ownership

Today I had to get new tires for my wife's car. I also had to get her oil changed and her emissions tested. When I returned home several hours later my wallet was $500 lighter. So I began to think what would that $500 buy me cycling wise.

Well it's half of the Rohloff Hub I want.
I could buy a Nexus 8 hub and have a pretty penny left over.
I've had my eye on a Long Haul Trucker Frame
Heck I think I could buy any of the Surly Frames save the Big Dummy.
Speaking of which I could get that Xtracycle conversion kit I've always wanted.
I could buy several if not dozens of used bikes.

I could go on. The point is most people realize how expensive car ownership is. I haven't even touched on gas and insurance. Then there's the American obsession with driving new cars. I wonder how much wealthier the average American would feel without their car.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Honk if you love cyclists

At least that's why I hope your honking. Because it would be really rude of you to honk just to scare me. Who knows, that may cause me to swerve in front of you ending my life. So Mr. Way Too Big Pickup, I'm justing going to assume you love cyclists.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Longer Days, Bad Drivers, and Allen Wrenches

It's pretty clear the days are getting longer. I know a lot of people hate riding in the winter but I'll take winter's short days and cool weather over the oppressive heat of summer anytime.

Why is it that drivers feel the need to race from one red light to the next?

Today I found two small allen wrenches in the road, just the thing for adjusting shifters.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Idle Bike Thoughts Vol. 1

Wheels with lots of spokes are beautiful and strong, but can be a real pain to true.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Day

Well not quite but I did see a few flakes today. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wacky Weekend Weather

It's been cold-warm-cold lately, so I've taken to carrying extra cool weather gear when I ride any distance. Of course the one day I forget my ear warmers it's nice and chilly.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Means Groceries

Pictures from todays ride to Publix.

From Riding around

From Riding around

From Riding around

The rolling hills of my nieghborhood.
From Riding around

From Riding around

So what to do with dumpster bike

I stripped down dumpster bike today. It's a cheap frame but still, the tinkerer in me says you can do something with this thing. So what to doy

A fixie? Maybe but it's pretty hilly around here and I'm pretty sure my legs aren't fixie worthy.

A single speed? I've got to admit it's appealing. I haven't owned a single speed bike since elementary school.

A bad weather commuter with an IGH? I love this idea in theory but I'm not sure about installing a $150 hub on a ten dollar frame.

Speaking of bad weather commuters why aren't there more bikes with full chain cases? Seriously, chain maintenance is right up there with tax preparation on the list of things you don't want to do.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dumpster Bike

The other day I found a I saw the wheel of a bike sticking out of a dumpster. Never one to let a good (or bad) bike go to waste I fished it out. It's a strange bike, a Huffy 512 st. I can't find anything on the internet about this particular model but here's what I know. I think it was probably a model made in china to sell at either Walmart or K-Mart in 90's. Evidence? None really but it has horizontal dropouts and the relaxed geometry found on the sport-touring bikes of the early 80's. It also has the infamous stem shifters that we all remember. The 26" wheels look odd on a bike of this size, and the kicker a threadless stem.

So what am I going to do with this miracle of engineering. I have no idea but I couldn't just let it go to the dump.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside

With teens not reaching freezing during the day and dipping into the riding around today was something akin to pedalling in a freezer. Of course it's nothing compared to the -50 degrees they're experiencing in other parts of the country. But Georgia isn't ready for these types of tempretures so, there are bursting pipes and dead batteries all around town.

My riding outfit today:
Long underwear
Hiking pants
wool socks
merino wool sweater
fleece sweatshirt

Yeah I looked ridiculous.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bicycle Restoration

I've just spent the last hour working on the Schwinn. As someone whose day job is of the sit and click variety I have to say there's something especially rewarding about working with your hands. I enjoy woodwork and playing Mr. Fixit around the house, but there's something special about working on a bike.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why We Ride

There's a profound difference between riding in a bike and being locked in a car. On a bike you're naked, exposed to the elements, acutely aware of everything around you. In a car you are too often in a cocoon of metal, focused on your radio or your cell phone. Riding around today I smelled the sweet fragrances of burning oak hanging in the winter air. I heard the leaves being crushed by my tires. I saw dogs playing with their owners. Every ride brings new experiences can you say that about every drive?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Did I Really Say "I Wish I Were in Chicago"

The wind chill is like 40 below in the Windy City today. It's bad enough that my legs never fully warmed up this morning so it felt like I was pedaling uphill the whole way. Then there was the ride home there was wind in my face. Let me change that to "I wish I were in Burlington, Vermont."

Jimmy Carter's Bike Stolen

From the Carter Center no less. Sheesh what is the world coming to.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Please City of Atlanta

Finish whatever you're doing on West Peachtree. Cars just don't respect the bicyclist when we suddenly lose the lane north of 17th Street.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hazy Shade of Winter

A very chilly ride today with a high in the high-30's. Of course that's nothing compared to what our northern neighbors are going through. I think today in Minneapolis it was only in the mid-20's, now that's cold.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Wish I Were In Chicago

I've never ridden in more than a dusting of snow.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Coincidence or not

Barnes and Noble has a bike rack and busines,s while not stellar, is ok. Borders who doesn't have a bike rack is on its last legs.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Scattante Emerald City Single Speed

Bikes For the Rest Of Us recently featured this bike. I like it, except for one thing, the price. This bike has the makings of an excellent commuter, if it had an internal gear hub and a chain case it would just about be perfect. But I think $500 for a single speed is just a little much.


On the way to work this morning I was snacking on a bagel when I hit a pothole that I swear wasn't there yesterday. I didn't wipe out but my breakfast went rolling down the road. Consider it a lesson learned.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Google SMS as a Tool for Commuters and Tourers

Imagine this you're out on tour near Fargo and you break a spoke or two. You could limp along to the next town and hope there's a bike shop there or you could get Google to tell you where the nearest bike shop is. Just text bicycle shop Fargo North Dakota to 466453 and a few seconds later Google will provide you the answer. The best part is you don't need one of those fancy schmancy smart phones, any phone with sms will do. It sounds silly but in a pinch this is a really handy service.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What's in Your Wallet

Actually I'm more interested in what's in your panniers or bags. This cartoon made me realize that I carry a ridiculous amount of stuff around with me.

So I did an inventory.
Let's see:
A patch kit
Tire Levers
A spare tube
A pocket shortwave radio
Two spare blinkies
A multi-tool
Balaclava (winter only)
Ear muffs (winter only)
$1.75 in quarters
A cliff bar
A bungie cord
Spare AAA battery
First aid kit
Hand sanitizer

I guess I'm not a weight weenie.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Night Riding (with apologies to REM)

I just got home and thought about why I like riding at night. An old REM song went through my head as I pedaled.

Night riding deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the handlebars, taken years ago,
Flapping in the wind as I ride
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
Still, it's so much clearer
I forgot my gloves at home
The moon is low tonight

Night riding deserves a quiet night
I'm not sure all these drivers understand
It's not like years ago,
The fear of getting hit,
Of recklessness and bikes
They cannot see me exposed
These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday

Night riding, remembering that night
September's coming soon
I'm pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side on the street
Riding in the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe night riding

You, I thought I knew you
You, I cannot judge
You, I thought you knew me,
This one laughing quietly underneath my breath
Night riding

The photograph reflects,
Every streetlight a reminder
Night riding deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Just Riding for the Heck of It

I had nowhere to go today, but we got a break in the rain so I hopped on the bike and took off. I drifted over to Sandy Springs, then on the way back took a detour into the kind of neighborhood where all the houses are three sizes too big and behind large wrought iron gates. A bit heavier traffic than one would expect on a Sunday but an enjoyable ride.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Hike and Ride on a Lazy Saturday

Well since the Falcons are blowing it, here's what I did today. My wife and I took a hike on the Appalachian Trail between Woody Gap and Gooch Gap. We've hiked it before but today was foggy and threatening rain.

When we started it was a little foggy.
From AT Hike

Then it got foggier.
From AT Hike

Then it really got thick.
From AT Hike

This is actually my favorite kind of weather for hiking. There's just something wonderful about the woods and the fog.

When we got home I took a little break and then pedaled to the store for some juice. The predicted rain never made it to our part of town and the Saturday afternoon traffic wasn't too bad. All and all a very enjoyable day.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's Resolutions and the First Bad Drivers for 2009

Since I failed miserably to complete my New Year's Resolutions for 2008, I vow to do better in 2009.

1. Drop 20 pounds, that should put me pretty near by ideal weight.
2. Ride even more than in 2008.
3. Take a bicycle tour (ideally the Route Verte)
4. Get my oldest child out the door to college.
5. Train my dog

Speaking of 2009, my ride to the store this morning exposed me to the first jerks of 2009. There was the pass me and then stomp on the brakes pickup, the pass way too close and honk toyota, and the always popular right hook corvette.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

As Promised Photos of the New Bike

From Bike

Quality Chicago
From Bike

Grips are Schwinn Approved
From Bike

The bike was originally purchased at Jack's Cyclery in Dearborn Michigan. Jack's is still in business although it's moved a few blocks down.
From Bike

From Bike

I can't wait to get this thing ride ready.
From Bike