Bike Brakes, Gears, Tires and Watch Problems – Ka-ching!

In the last week or so, I’ve had a bunch of things go wrong with Sophie the Fairdale. Several flats required professional intervention. Now I’m having to get more puncture-resistant tires and they’er not cheap. Ka-ching. My trusty Garmin watch has finally begun to give out because I basically broke the walk and bike functions by using it so much. I’m able to upgrade it even though the warranty is out. More ka-ching. The bike also needed adjustment to the gearing and brakes needed new pads. The Sun & Ski Sports bike shop mechanics say I ride a lot. Apparently I’m in the 90th percentile of people biking. I suppose I do, but I always thought they were being nice, since I know there are plenty of people doing more. One of my mantras is “Comparison is the death of joy,” said the Buddha, but sometimes that’s hard to follow. Anyway, if you ride your bike, repairs and replacement of parts are inevitable.

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Another Chat with Sophie the Fairdale, Who Just Turned 10,000 (Miles)

Back on June 18, 2018, I wrote a post I called “An Imagined Chat with Sophie, My Fairdale Weekender Archer Bicycle.” Over the last three years, she and I have traveled a fair piece — to put it mildly and modestly. Now that it’s reflected in the Strava statistics of 10,000 miles, though, it is official. To commemorate and celebrate this major milestone in our journey, I asked Ms. S. if she’d fancy another chat, and she said sure. Weird, right? Well, things are pretty strange, these days. But I think you’ll enjoy this (imaginary? real? does it matter?) chat with Sophie.

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On Resilience: Bicycling Through Life and the Pandemapocalypse

It’s hard to not write about the elephant in the room when it’s far, Far FAR! bigger than that. Coronavirus is like sunlight, or water — except that it’s poisonous for many, and deadly for some. There are I’m sure much more eloquent attempts to explain and interpret what’s going on. After all, I’m just A Dude who rides a bicycle and blogs about it. My tiny corner of the internet is just one example of something a few humans think is kinda cool, or interesting, or important, but in reality is not. It’s frivolous, navel-gazing distraction.

And yet, we each do what we can to cope, to survive, and maybe again even to thrive. So I’m writing this blog. And it occurred to me that maybe I’ve learned a few lessons from biking 100-175 miles a week for 22 weeks in a row that might help me and you get through this. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (I’m not really suggesting you do that; please don’t.)

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What’s Goin’ On, Bike Dude?

Back when the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Jr., was running for president, he gave a speech at the University of Texas at Austin. By the end, he had the crowd of 5,000 Longhorns and some townie interlopers like me all riled up. He said “Repeat after me: “I am somebody. I AM Somebody! I AM SOMEBODY!” In true call-and-response gospel fashion, we chanted in full voice back. I believe that most of the time. But other days I’m just some dude who rides a bike and stuff, edits my bike memoir, and writes this blog. Sometimes there is no one theme for a post, so only a hodgepodge will do. This is one of those days. To quote John Lennon, another American icon of peace and justice: “My momma never told me there’d be days like these.”

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Picture This: 10 Photos From My 103-Mile Week Biking

One of the pleasures of being a car-free bicyclist in a bustling city like Austin is that there is never a shortage of cool things to photograph. When you’re stuck in a car, you can’t just pull over and take pictures. But see something interesting while cycling, pull over safely, and bam! You’re rewarded with plenty of images as you like. This is one of those posts where the words can’t paint the whole picture.

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175 Miles: Reflections About Another Strong Week in My Cycling Journey

Biking 25 miles in one day can be challenging or easy depending on your abilities and how you feel. Then there’s the weather like wind, rain, cold or heat to contend with. Traffic can be very scary even if you’re used to riding in it. Also important are the quintessential questions that come up riding a bike like: what to wear, what to eat, where to go? I must have figured all that out because I managed to make it another seven days in a row for the 10th week. This past week I totaled 175 miles, which is huge – 25 miles a day if you’re counting. Or a mile for every hour of the week (168) plus seven. So what follows are some thoughts on my pretty stupendous week (or stupid, depending how you look at it; maybe it’s a little of both.)

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Mode of the Beast: 666.6 Miles Bicycled in 31 Days

Not that beast. I mean beast mode. I’m not a believer in magical numbers (unless my lottery tickets finally pay off). It was my second longest month ever, after the 731 I did in April 2017 including 202 Miles in 2 Days for the MS 150. Given my lack of a day job at the moment, I made it my bidness (as some people actually pronounce “business” in Texas) to bike my butt off (it’s still there, though). And bidness is goooood! That’s because I averaged 150 miles per week. Well, I guess it’s volunteering if I’m not getting paid.

It’s surprising that I accomplished this since it takes me longer than it used to. I could blame Sophie, the 28-pound steel bike with nine gears I’m riding, or the prematurely colder, windy and wet weather, but I’m just not moving very fast these days. Some people I know rode Das Hugel, an unsanctioned sufferfest that’s over a century and 10,000 feet elevation (I wrote about it last year.) A Dude doth not Das Hugel. However, compared to everyone who’s home sitting on the couch, I’m friggin’ Speed Racer. So perhaps my efforts are inspirational to somebody out there reading this. You don’t have to believe me, let’s look at the Strava stats.

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Greeting an Austin City Councilmember and Smart Trips Austin Bike Ride

Saturday brought me several opportunities as a bicyclist and advocate.  First up was the appearance at the neighborhood association by one of the 10 City Council members of Austin, Texas.  His name is Gregorio Casar, the son of Mexican immigrants, but he goes by Greg.  He really knows his stuff, is genuine, friendly, and not pretentious at all.  I believe he is the youngest Council member ever.  Second was a Smart Trips Austin ride.  It’s a City program to encourage people to use alternative modes of transportation including walking, the bus, and of course bikes.  It was super hot, so it was sparsely attended, but I wanted to check it out and meet the two young staff people just the same.  Third was I added 27 miles for a 30-mile ride. ‘Twas a pretty good day, if you ask me. Oh, you’re asking me? OK, I’ll tell you about it, then!

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Minor Mishaps, Major Moments and Medical Mysteries

From the things that make you go mmmmmm department: 

Mishap #1: Trash Cans, Trash Talk

Riding down a sidewalk of a busy four-lane road without bike lanes, I swerve to avoid recycling bins, miscalculate, and Sophie the Fairdale’s very wide handlebars catch them.  I go down like a Christian thrown into the gladiator ring trying to save the lion with talk of Jesus.  (Translation:  Quickly.)  But unlike those unlucky folks, I bounced right back up, apparently unharmed.

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How I Biked 167 Miles in One Week and You Can, Too

Does 167 miles seem like a long distance to ride your bicycle in a week? If not, and you can easily rattle off that distance in a single day, then this post (and blog) will probably bore you. Good on you! Thanks for stopping by and not being all judgy. (Like Rootchopper, currently doing 300+ miles per week on his big ass No Name Tour.) Does 167 miles in a week seem impossible? Well, if so, this may also not be for you. Of course you’re welcome to come along for the virtual ride.

But what if you’re in between those extremes and have ridden 100 miles in a week before? Maybe you’re thinking, “Hmm, if this middle-aged fathlete (who isn’t the typical skinny cyclist stereotype) can put up some pretty big numbers, then I wonder if I can, too?” Well, this is for you.

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