A Decade of Knowing My Bicycle Mechanic

Bike mechanics, like many essential workers, have long been unsung, but make no mistake, they are heroes. That’s a strong word, but to those of us too lazy to learn to fix our own bikes, or who don’t have the tools, we rely on them to keep us rolling. Tonight I was at a shop, participating in the usual back and forth. First, there is the friendly but slightly tired question, “What’s going on?” A description of the issue from me. That is followed by a brief technical educational seminar complete with repeating main points, checking for understanding, and a hand drawing. Then, investigation of the bike and either repair, ordering parts, or other appropriate result is. Some low-grade insults from both sides are scattered in, said with a laugh to soften the blow. And we realized we’d known each other 10 years. “And you still can’t get rid of me!” I lampooned myself. Of course he sees many other people, so it’s a lopsided arrangement. But for a decade this guy has been in my life and that’s a lot more than I can say for most “friends.” Excuse me while I get a little verklempt here.

Continue reading

Bus in the Bike Lane: A Recipe for…

Ingredients:

  • 40,000 pound city transit bus
  • Lazy-ass or law-breaking bus driver (see if you can find one that’s both)
  • One 28-pound steel-framed sea foam green Fairdale Weekender Archer bicycle named Sophie (substitutions allowed)
  • Experienced person on said bicycle, vulnerable to said buses
  • Narrow traffic and bike lanes on most dangerous section of road in Austin for bikes
  • Friday evening rush hour
  • Big pot of history of near misses with city buses for the bicyclist
  • Memory of John Anthony Diaz, a cyclist killed by same bus company (separate into two portions)
  • Kettle full of road rage for the bus driver
  • Add a pinch, a soupçon, or a schosche of irritating, smelly bus riders into the mix
Continue reading

Austin Bike News Roundup for October 29, 2020

The shortage of bicycles has been a sign of increased numbers of people riding during the pandemic. But it’s made it hard to find a new bike if you are in the market. Today though I noticed that Sun and Ski Sports has a bunch of Cannondale bikes for sale. The men’s is black, sleek and yet heavier than expected. (I didn’t see any women’s but they’re yellow.) With a 2 x 5 set-up, 10 gears will get you zipping around town on short jaunts at least. They’re a cool $725, but come with a service guarantee. The guys in the bike shop are great so if you’re in the market, get thee to their shop ASAP! These babies won’t last long. (I’m not paid for this mention.) Here’s a look.

Continue reading

Someone Just Threw a Firecracker at Me on My Bicycle

Yes, you read that right. I was biking, and some poor, misguided soul, correction, a major assclown in a car slowed down to throw a firecracker at my head. But that wasn’t all. The firecracker throwing happened after a guy in a truck sped through the turn at a red light without yielding in front me, which could have resulted in major pain or death were I not such a defensive rider and excellent bike handler. But shortly thereafter I came upon his shop where his loose barking dogs came at me. Usually my evening bike rides aren’t as eventful. This one saved all the excitement until the last 20 minutes. Let’s go to my Strava description.

Continue reading

Bike Austin Says the Healthy Streets Program Is Under Threat

An email from Bike Austin arrived in my in box recently. Forced to cancel events by the virus like many volunteer-run non-profits, they must do most of their work in cyber space. The email is about the take-over of certain streets by the Austin Transportation Department. Basically they set up plastic barrels and barriers that slow down cars and have signs instructing motor vehicles that the road is for local use only. The goal is to allow people to more easily walk, bike, skate, etc. with social distancing during pandemic times and maybe beyond. Is that such a bad thing? A Dude thinks not, I think.

Continue reading

9 Tips Why You Should Buy Tip Beer for Your Bicycle Mechanic

What? You’re not buying beer as a tip for your bicycle mechanics? Well, that’s a faux pas big time. If you think about it, whether you’re an amateur or avid cyclist, your bike and your life is in literally their hands. So if they’re having a shit day and you come in and dump more shit on them, guess what? The quality of your bike repair may also be quite defecatory in nature. Or not, if they’re real pros. And if you’re taking your bike to the shop, you need them. I’m not talking about a keg a day, of course; you don’t want him/her to be drunk all the time, especially while working on your bike. The repairs could be half-assed and life-threatening. But if you’re not doing anything, you need to jump on board the beer wagon.

Continue reading

Austin Bike News Roundup for August 6, 2020

I haven’t done one of these roundups in a while. Because, coronavirus. My last one was in May. Inspired somewhat by BikingInLA and TexBiker.net, a roundup hopes to serve up some useful tidbits of happenings around town in the bicycling world here in Austin. Sometimes, it’s news about infrastructure, not so sexy, but important. And other times it’s even sobering and sad, like the senseless suffering and death of a cyclist who was hit by a car (the first of 2020).

I suppose that last one is fitting, given that it’s the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima Day and Nagasaki Day on the 9th. These tragic attacks remind us that the United States is the other country to ever use nuclear weapons, at great human cost. A Dude says nukes must be abolished before we can ever have peace. There’s a treaty that only 40 countries have signed and shamefully, the US in not one of them. Alright, sermon concluded. On with the way more fun and much less important Austin bike news!

Continue reading

“Wassup, Killah?” and Other Random $hit People Say to Me on My Bicycle

Last night I was putting in some late night miles — 16.5 to be exact — to beat the heat and keep my stats up, you know, like I do. I approached a red light and came to a stop. Here’s what I wrote in my Strava ride summary: “Wassup, Killah?” Said the man at the bus stop, a descendant of Africa, pleasantly and with no malice, to the dude on the bicycle who is of the Caucasian persuasion. “I’m good, thanks. How ’bout you?” Also good. They then discussed how the weather wasn’t as hot as last night. The light changed, adieus were bid, and the dude rode on, an otherwise lackluster day made. “Huh, I guess I am kinda a killah on a bike!” He pedaled a little harder, his mph a bit faster. So yeah, that happened.

Continue reading

Coronavirus Cycle Commuting: Survival Tips for Your Trips

For the last few weeks I’ve been biking to a job. This isn’t new, as I’ve been 15 years not a slave to cars. But recently I’ve not had work to go to, so a daily ride to a workplace, and then returning home during the still surreal situation we’re all in, is a bit odd. The global coronavirus pandemic is a huge tragedy that will be with us for a while until there’s a vaccine and maybe longer. One small consolation is that it has reduced traffic and pollution. This is good for bike riders, but there are still plenty of hazards so cyclists should remain vigilant. Here a few challenges I’ve noticed and tips for things you can do to make your ride to work as good and as safe as possible.

Continue reading