Friday, June 15, 2018

It's Been a Wonderful Ride, Miyata 610!

It's easy to become emotionally attached to a bicycle, but in the end they are only machines. I came to that realization a few years ago, especially when our children didn't have any interest in riding the Miyata and I'd gravitated to riding mainly step through bikes. I received a fair price for the bike so I have no regrets. The Miyata is destined to make someone else happy, in whatever incarnation the new owner decides.

As it should be.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

DIY Water Bottle Holder for the Dahon Boardwalk

Homemade handle bar mounted water bottle carrier.
As mentioned previously, I devised a solution to easily carry water on my Dahon for our New York City adventure.

But a holder made of fabric wasn't my first thought.

TooGoo water bottle mount from Amazon.
I can always use this adapter on any bike. 

Initially, I purchased an inexpensive metal clamp. It took me a while to safely tighten the screws and position the "puzzle" lock thing on the handle bars. Eventually, though, it worked and I secured an extra water bottle cage to the mount.

However, I wasn't completely satisfied. Like all handle bar water bottle attachments, the holder is perched high so you can easily grab your bottle and drink. That wasn't so much a problem, yet a folding bicycle has quite a bit of  extra and often unused "real estate", meaning there's a lot of vertical post space before meeting the frame, yet had I wanted to lower the new attachment it wouldn't fit the oversize tubing. And more importantly, I might need to fold the bike and the metal mount would rap or scratch the frame. I knew I lacked the patience to remove the mount and/or also the cage and reattach the parts once we traveled to our destination. (at the time I planned to fold the bike while using Amtrak and save the bicycle reservation fee).

I went back to the drawing board - so to speak - and found this idea on the internet.

Bushwacker insulated water bottle holder.
It was an intriguing concept: secure the carrier with two Velcro-type fasteners! I liked the adaptable, and easily removed nature and could save myself 15.00 and create my own version. It was also an idea that wouldn't mar the frame or bar. And motivation wasn't entirely due to saving money because I enjoy problem solving, am pretty handy with a sewing machine, plus I had all the materials on hand.

So, like most of my DIY bike projects, I place my bike next to my sewing corner to continually adjust and check measurements. This project was relatively simple. I sandwiched quilt batting between material (adding black material on top edge to eventually hide straps) to give the finished product structure, sewed a tube-shape first, then gingerly sewed a circular bottom. The Velcro-type fasteners were attached to black webbing then sewed onto the main body.

The finished product is adaptable and I like that it can be attached to either front or back of handle bar. There is little sway, even with a full large water bottle. It's also relatively easy to remove and replace the bottle - of course, an important feature!

Using the holder on our New York City trip.

The Bushwacker version is constructed with closed cell foam so it has insulating properties and I imagine is a stiffer version than mine. Their model also uses lateral hook and loop fastener to adjust to different sized bottles. I think the price is justified for these additional features. However, for a DIY project that's functional and is magenta colored,  I'm very pleased with the way my model turned out!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Accessory Must-Haves & Other Loves

Switching to ergonomic grips  before I went to NYC made a big difference in comfort.
Old grips in second photo. 
As I've experimented with accessories over the past ten years, my tastes have evolved and certain items have proven their worth to my general cycling experience - namely to make riding easier and more comfortable as I grow older. Other picks are purely for my personal style, as most readers can attest: we all have our preferences!

Ergonomic Grips
All my bikes have ergonomic grips except for my winter rider (which has cushioned bar tape). I have used all varieties from the more expensive Ergon and Selle Royal brand to cheap no-name versions, like the one pictured above on my Dahon. Every style has improved hand comfort on prolonged rides.

Platform Pedals
Platform pedals have proven their versatility countless times. I can wear flip flops, sandals, sneakers or boots and easily put my foot down on a moment's notice. I don't know why it took me years to experiment with platform pedals. I'll never go back to using toe clips!

However  I'm not entirely sold on metal platfor pedals. I'm currently using MKS RMS or "sneaker pedals" on my everyday Peugeot, yet recently I couldn't remove the dust cap when I tried to diagnose an annoying clicking sound (which ended up being not related to pedal bearings). Neither could I locate an online tutorial to help me. It's that kind of specialized, so called "serviceable pedals" that require a a unique tool that has me seriously considering ditching finicky metal pedals favor of colorful plastic versions like the ones Randy recently installed on a much loved bike. Orange would look awfully nice on my Peugeot!

Cheap Bell Mirrors
Unlike most riders who buy quality mirrors, I've gravitated to versatile, lightweight Bell type that clamp on the handlebar with a plastic screw. I place the mirror pointing downward, which gives good visibility and doesn't break should the bike occasionally topple over. I find these at a local hardware store and buy 3 at a time.

4-Hook Cargo Net
Once I started using this simple 4 hook cargo net to haul a small duffel on my Dahon's rear rack on our NYC adventure, this piece has come in handy to secure a box of donuts, a dozen bagels, and more recently is a must have as I commute around town for back up when I haul more stuff home than I went to work with. And, the hooks are red which means they're easily recognizable against the black net.

Magenta colored water bottle holder - perfect for my needs.

Strap-On Water Bottle Holder
I made a lightweight water bottle carrier out of fabric, black strap material, and Velcro-type rack fastener because the Dahon lacks water bottle braze-ons. I had initially purchased a metal clamp for the handlebar that accommodates a standard water bottle cage, yet it was finicky and hard to adjust (I expected I'd be folding the bike and didn't think I'd have patience to reinstall it). I installed and removed the fabric holder numerous times  - an easy solution - and may come in handy for additional water capacity on other bikes. (I'll write a separate blog post on construction specifics.)


Gumwall Tires
I am fascinated by gumwall colored tires. Several of my bikes already sport this retro color with the exception of Miss Clementine who came with solid black rubber and because her tire size is 650B - unlike my other bicycles or any other bicycle in our 4-person family - Clementine's tires will be changed only when worn out - which could be years at the rate I'm riding her!

Orange Bicycle Fanatic
I am attracted to orange bicycles. The turn my head on the street and in blog posts. I missed getting an orange Rivendell Clementine by a few months - by the time I ordered, only blue and mustard colored frames were available. I need another bike like a hole in the head (a phrase that my parents often used) so it's no wonder that I want orange pedals...definitely a cheaper alternative.

Give Me Chrome Any day
I am familiar with 1980's bicycles, a time when all bikes had chrome wheels, handlebars, racks, etc. To this day, I still prefer chrome on bicycles. I've never succumbed to today's ubiquitous black everything, and matte black frames, ugh. I wish manufacturers would bring back more affordable choices in aluminum and chrome finishes on bike parts and accessories.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend Meandering

A favorite stop on the Winooski River bridge.
Coming back from New York City not so long ago, it seemed too good to be true to have another long stint of time off for Memorial Day weekend. It was lovely stay at our family's nearby lakefront camp, plus we got some work done to keep the cottage and property in good shape. However, I always make time for long bike rides on the newly renovated and renamed waterfront trail, the Burlington Greenway.

I love the rattle/kerplank/chachink sound of bicycles crossing the wooden plank surface.

A Vermont specialty!
There were lots of visitors renting bikes, trying Burlington's new bike share, and skateboarders enjoying our world-class skate park. I love to see so many people, and especially families, tooling up and down the path.

I made sure to visit the fishing pier before it's closed for the summer while a marina is built. Burlington has long needed another marina to attract boaters, but I'm hoping an influx of moorings - and thus more visitors - won't change the character of this lovely, quiet pier. too much.

And I discovered the Burlington Surf Club is officially open. I've watched it's construction progress throughout the winter months as cabanas were built. It's a curious business by the same owners of The Spot (a fun restaurant in a renovated gas station) who also own a surf shop, considering watersports are only viable about 4-5 months a year. Ajacent to the surf club, they also purchased a nearby large brick building near the bike path where Blodgett Oven operated since the 1940's (Blodgett is moving to Essex). It will be very interesting to see what the long-term plans are for the entire property.

Construction in winter.
What a wonderful afternoon, pedaling, exploring, and enjoying the Burlington Greenway!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Exploring NYC by Bicycle - Parting Thoughts

A small selection of cream cheese varieties available at Bagel World in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Oreo cream cheese, really?

A small wheeled or folding bike as a NYC/big city commuter
A folding bicycle saves on space in apartments, has low step-over for easier on/off or wearing skirts, threads easier around vehicles (parked in the bike lane) due to quicker turning radius and narrower handlebars. Granted, 20" wheels roll sightly slower than traditional bicycles - noticeable, keeping up with my son - but not enough to discount the positive aspects. Grip shifting is very easy to use and was a perfect compliment to the inclines/ descents of the bridges. For me it was the perfect alternative to my regular commuter bike. An as an aside, I've been eyeballing this type of bike - a non-foldable 20" wheel bike (which I mention in case the link doesn't survive long-term) because this might be an alternative for a city dweller who's concerned about storage. Needless to say, I would take my Dahon on a train again!

Types of bikes used as transportation
During our 5-day stay, we noticed that of the bicycles ridden, 50% are e-bikes, mainly by delivery people, and the other 50% of human-powered vehicles are comprised of bike share and all other types of bikes. I am impressed with how common it is to see bike share in use - the blue bicycles stand out mainly because of the blinking tail light.

Habits and etiquette
It is common for all bike riders to weave around autos and trucks double-parked or/in a bike lane. It was unnerving at first, not knowing whether vehicles approaching from behind would allow riders the chance to zip into their lane and back again, but there seemed to be a certain unsung etiquette among drivers that gave us the right of way. I wonder if the sheer numbers of riders had anything to do with the drivers' manners or because we were also riding about the same speed. We also noticed a distinct lack of hand signals with cyclists and 50% or less wear helmets. And those red traffic signals? Look both ways and if clear, keep right on trucking!

NYC uses lots of paint! Sharrows and bike lanes are commonplace with bike boxes (designated space for cyclists to advance/stop ahead of automobiles at traffic lights). One-way roads typically place the bike lane on the left side of the road, allowing better visibility for drivers (we presume). It was odd to navigate at first, but made sense once we adjusted and joined the other riders. On the occasion where we rode on unmarked one-way roads, it was difficult to determine where we should be.

Keeping travel bags light
This being my first experience carrying baggage on my folder, I packed light, but tech heavy. I carried a phone, tablet, camera, and laptop. My son didn't bring a tablet, but his load was heavier, lugging his heavy laptop and DSLR camera. I carried minimal clothing, using a small duffel bag strapped to rear rack while my son used two panniers. We both carried backpacks for additional space that also doubled to carry gear on daily adventures. Either way, we only lugged full loads three times: 5 miles to Amtrak station at the beginning of our trip, then 7 miles each direction from Penn Station to our accommodation.