It’s complicated. And not unlike many people’s relationship status, there’s a lot going on. I’m not a journalist and this isn’t an extensively researched analysis of the industry. From what I’ve gleaned, and experienced first-hand from contacting half a dozen Austin, Texas bicycle shops, the supply chain is busted thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s apparently a byzantine network of large and small shops, distributors, manufacturers, brokers and more behind the scenes. Normally, tons more people re/discovering bicycling for exercise, transportation, stress-relief, and other reasons would be a good thing. But it’s that same demand coupled with crippled supply chain that is making it a feast for some and a famine for others. You can read all about that later, but here’s the story of one dude just trying to fix his bike so he can Just Keep Pedalin’.
I considered not writing this blog. A month after writing 14 Months of Consecutive Daily Bicycling, what could there be for me to possibly add? Well, not much, to be honest. I rode my bike a lot, it was challenging, but somehow I survived and made my goal. Yay me. End of story, right? Well, one would think so, except that those pesky bike miles are more than just numbers on your screen. The represent calories burned, hours spent, and effort expended. I biked farther in December than any other month of 2020, so that’s why it becomes hard to just skip commemorating the occasion. Because while plenty of people bike every day, many faster and further (and none of them get a medal for it either), for me, 15 months certainly ain’t nothing to sneeze at. And these days, we do our best not to sneeze around others, amirite? Because, ‘rona.
At 5:47 PM on Sunday, August 2, 2020, I headed out on Sophie my trusty Fairdale after an appointment I had ridden six miles to get to. I thought I’d put in another 14 miles to make it another 20 for the day. But in the back of my mind was the thought, “I’ve got several 150-mile weeks in a row under my belt. If I stop now, I’ll break that chain.” And if you know A Dude, you konw he likes to #DontBreakTheChain (first noted in Jerry Seinfeld & The Juiceman Can Teach Us About Making Healthy Choices (Day 2). There had been a little rain to cool things down, I was feeling a little better, and as the title says, I found my 40-miler legs. Sounds easy right? Maybe I make it seem that way, but nope, it’s never easy. Allow me to explain.
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.
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!
Before this blog began on January 1, 2016, before Sophie the Fairdale, before Sookie the Fuji, there was Sonnie the GT Arette. She’s come back into the stable because Sookie is retired due to her fatal frame crack. Today I rode her to a meeting, barbecue joint, bike shop, shoe store and then home for a total of just 12 miles. Here’s what I noticed about my new/old bike.
It’s hard to follow up my profile of the amazing Dena Kinate. If you missed it, you should go read it right now then come back. But I’m going to try. What comes to mind are miscellaneous bits of information about biking news. I’ll try to make it interesting for those who aren’t in Austin, but no guarantees. (That’s not an invitation to move here like 150 people do a day — or some crazy number like that.)
Anthony “Tony” John Diaz. Source: Change.org petition
The Aftermath of Bike Fatality #1 of 2019
I hoped there might be more of an update about the cyclist killed last week. He was identified as Anthony “Tony” John Diaz, a nice guy who worked at a TV station. The only other update is news reports from witnesses that the bus driver was said to be speeding up and slowing down and generally acting erratically. Drug tests and more information will take a while. There’s also a petition to put a white ghost bike white ghost bike where he died, but the University of Texas threatens to enforce their policy to remove abandoned bikes. And amazingly, his aunt was quoted as saying she forgave the bus driver.
However, that happened two days earlier than advertised, so I missed the chance to go take pictures and talk to staff. Anyway, hopefully brands like Fuji will survive. That’s the maker of my now reitred Silhouette named Sookie. We traveled together about 13,000 miles since summer of 2015. Here is where you can (and must!) read my “interview” with Sookie. Austin is lousy with bike shops, though. Fortunately, the head of the Performance repair department has been swept up by one of my favorite stores, Sun & Ski Sports,
Bike Austin: Rising from the Ashes
I’m not at liberty to say much about what Bike Austin is up to, mostly because it’s not much, and I wasn’t at the last meeting. But I was at a previous one, at which two dozen of notable Austin cycling advocates got together. The call was for an initial group of volunteers to join the four remaining board members to try to reinvigorate the organization. After a number of setbacks and the departure of all its staff, the decision needed to be made: Do we continue the organization? And if so, how?
Fortunately, enough people feel strongly that Austin deserves and needs a strong organization to advocate for safety for cyclists. The plan is to do it as volunteers for now. I hope to be involved as time allows. But it’s encouraging to see that while the website is out of date, the Facebook page is advertising Bike to Work Day.
So, mark your calendars for Friday, May 17, 2019. The day is usually observed by having numerous stations around town with donated drinks and snacks for bike commuters. There’s also a contest for those who can visit the most stations, collecting stamps, with a party and prizes afterward. I volunteered with the afterparty last year and had alot of fun. Let’s hope it happens this year, too.
Biking Slower, but I’m Still Going
The massses aren’t exactly clamoring for my own personal news, but I’m including my training log for the last 35 days just for fun. I had a slowdown this week. Tomorrow I see a doctor and maybe he’ll have some idea why this seems to have been going on for some time now. Sure, I’m averaging 105.5 miles/week, but it’s been taking me a longer period of time for a while. Some of that is due to the winter cold, wind and rain. Part of it was a pretty strong cedar fever reaction that turned into a chest cold and sinus congestion if not infection, the last vestiges of which (I hope) I’m still fighting off. There’s also that big-boned bike gal named Sophie who is er, slower than the more svelt Sookie who as mentioned is now retired due to a crack. Saturday, I slept for over 10 hours, but last night I was back to my old tricks of burning the candle at both ends Maybe there’s just a sleep deficit that will take time to correct. And with no rest days off the bike since December 25th, I am due for some serious rest and relaxation. But I have places to go and things to do, and so there’s no rest for the wicked. Speaking of sleep, good night!
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The eleventh month of 2018 is in the bag, and I thought I’d do a little recap for loyal readers and newcomers alike. It wasn’t the best or worst month ever. It’s a bit better when compared to last November, the first month after I was laid off my job (that ironically I had for 11 years). There have been four elements challenging my progress: 1) the loss of Sookie the Fuji; 2) what feels like less sleep and more fatigue than usual; 3) cooler temperatures coupled with sometimes intense cold intolerance for some reason; and 4) going back to work part-time has shrunk the available hours to be out there doing activities. Even with these things slowing me down, I still put in a pretty respectable month on bike and foot. For the number nerds, the data dweebs, git ‘er done geeks and so on, click on through to learn more of what A Dude Abikes has been up to.