July 2, 2013

Bicycle! ()

by fluffy at 8:10 PM

So after selling my car I figured, hey, now I can justify buying a nice bike.

So I got one with a power assist.

March 25, 2009

Commute ()

by fluffy at 9:49 AM
Distance under own volition3 miles1.5 miles
Average total time taken30 minutes30 minutes
Total active activity30 minutes15 minutes
Active-time side activitiesDodging cars and other bicyclesListen to music, take interesting pictures
Passive-time side activitiesN/ARead, people-watch, post to twitter, check email
Cost per daySeemingly unboundedA bit under $3
I'll keep my bike around but I think I'll stick to a BART commute for the foreseeable future.

March 5, 2009

I think it's time to cut my losses (, )

by fluffy at 9:58 AM
So, a week ago my bike got a flat in the front. I couldn't find anything embedded in the tire, so I decided to replace the tube. Performance was out of Schraeder-valve tubes in my bike's size so I went ahead and replaced the rear one too so I'd have both Presta (which I like better than Schraeder anyway). And then the front went flat again with the same slow leak.

So yesterday I took it to Performance, and the tech found the shard of glass in the tire that was causing the flat, and he removed it, replaced the tube, and charged $15. And then I got the same goddamn flat.

February 11, 2009

Driving vs. bicycling ()

by fluffy at 6:57 PM
Since I have my sister's car for the next couple months, I realized that I could order large packages and have them delivered to work and could just drive to work on the days that the package would be delivered. So, a few days ago I finally ordered a new monitor, which was set to arrive today.

The not-particularly-amazing thing is that my commute by car actually took the same amount of time as my bicycle commute, and it was a lot more stressful. There was a lot more stuff to look out for (especially on the way home), and all the other traffic and the idiots double-parking had an even more profound impact on me in a car than on a bike.

January 28, 2009

ATTN: San Francisco bicyclists (, )

by fluffy at 10:29 PM
While you're approaching an intersection where your light is red, I suppose that shouting out "Careful! Careful! Careful!" to the cross-traffic is one way to avoid getting hit, but might I suggest you try — and I know this is a crazy idea, but bear with me here — not running red lights, you goddamn idiots.

January 23, 2009

Rainy day temptation ()

by fluffy at 9:06 AM
So, it's pretty rainy right now. I have my sister's car for the next few months (she's spending some time in Africa with her husband who is doing some interesting work there). So I'm a bit tempted to drive to work, even though I know that I'd get just as wet having to walk there after parking some distance away (we have a lot of visitors in the office right now so all of our visitor spaces are probably full).

But I guess I'll just ride. It's not like it's THAT wet out right now.

January 21, 2009

The word is spreading ()

by fluffy at 10:12 AM
Last night while riding home from work I saw someone else with a Down Low Glow. His was a one-tube orange. After seeing how relatively weak the lighting was I am very glad I went with the two-tube.

January 13, 2009

Rock The Bike really should be paying me! ()

by fluffy at 6:07 PM
Pretty much every night I get at least one person (often more!) asking me where I got my bike lights. Several of them have been folks in cars, and I get the impression that at least one of them wants to bike commute but was just concerned about road safety at night.

For whatever it's worth, I actually feel safer riding at night than during the day, now. During the day I still have close calls since I'm just an invisible speck. At night, I'm visibly huge, and don't. Even the people who don't respect my space on the road obviously see me!

January 7, 2009

Yay bike! ()

by fluffy at 6:46 PM
So I took my bike to Performance Bike at lunchtime today. The mechanic (who was busy and didn't bother to look) said the brakes were probably stuck, I told him I checked that already and tuned the brakes and it's definitely not the problem. So he took a closer look and said that the hub was probably just over-tightened, and that fixing the tightness would cost $25, but given the age and the condition I bought it in he figured the hub could do with a rebuild, which would cost $30ish. So I said to go ahead and rebuild it.

When I picked it up today, he said that yeah, the bearings were totally shot and the lube was dried out and it was gunked up, so a rebuild was very necessary. Then I spun the wheel and it was absolutely soft and smooth. So I paid my $31.96 and had the best ride home ever. It's not quite as smooth as the Mongoose (since it doesn't have a front suspension), but actually not having a suspension made starting up a lot easier, especially going up hills.

Plus, I got a lot of comments about the Down Low Glow tonight. For about a mile and a half I was riding alongside someone who wanted to know everything about it and we had a good chat about that and also bike safety etiquette. And then someone on a scooter came up beside me at a light and was all, "Whoa, nice light!" And then when I got to my apartment yet another person asked me a bunch of questions ("Where did you get it? Is it battery powered? Does it come in other colors?").

So, hey, Rock The Bike, I'm getting the word out!

"New" bike day 2 ()

by fluffy at 12:48 AM
Rode to work, it kicked my ass. The damn rear wheel makes it a chore to ride it. After work I ended up going to a MacWorld party with some friends (spoiler warning: it sucked) and then after that just hung out with them and went to a gaming party with them and so I left my bike and other crap at the office and took BART home. I'm so very sore from the ride this morning so I'll definitely see about just having Performance Bike try to fix it during the day tomorrow. Maybe I'll have a decent ride home for the first time in a month. Meh.

Worst case I just need to get a new rear wheel, which I guess would cost more than the bike itself (ugh) but probably it just needs a good cleaning and lubing, which seems straightforward enough (and would probably cost what, $50ish? maybe I can cut a deal with Performance considering I've bought two bikes and a hell of a lot of accessories there and have never once taken advantage of their "free tuneups for life" deal, although I'm not optimistic about that). Or maybe it's just plain completely maladjusted. I don't really know what goes on inside a bike wheel's hub.

January 5, 2009

"New" bike ()

by fluffy at 8:11 PM
Just paid $90 for an old piece of crap KHS Brentwood. Also ordered $70 worth of accessories for it online (back rack, cargo net, panniers). It also came with a rather nice water bottle cage and a u-lock with long "uncuttable" cable (so I can actually lock it up in the garage now). Basically the accessories I have for the bike are worth more than the bike.

The ride home was rather painful and difficult, both because I had a hell of a lot of stuff in my backpack and because the bike really needs a tuneup. I'll do what I can to tweak the brakes and so on tonight (when I also get my various existing accessories installed) although I really should just take it to a mechanic. Maybe tomorrow, if I don't go to the Delicious Monster Macworld party.

December 17, 2008

First ride with the Down Low Glow ()

by fluffy at 5:56 PM
So, tonight I had my first Down Low Glow-assisted ride, and holy crap the difference it made.

I knew something would be different when I was on the bike lane on Townsend and the UPS truck stayed behind me.

December 15, 2008

Bike updates ()

by fluffy at 10:30 AM
  • I decided not to pursue the insurance claim. The (at most) $100 I could expect to get back would be more than paid for many times over by the increase in my insurance premiums, and it's an awful lot of trouble to go through.
  • My Down Low Glow arrived today. The whole system is a lot more compact than I thought. I shouldn't have any trouble attaching it to the folding bike (although the oddness of its single-tube frame means I'll have to be a bit creative), and all its mounting hardware is reusable (except the velcro for the junction box but it's not like velcro is some sort of rare irreplaceable item). Right now it's charging and so soon I can have fun trying to harass/blind R343L and/or ucblockhead.
  • Also today I couldn't bring myself to ride the little folding bike to work (feeling sore all over and worried about the rain) and so I took BART instead. Maybe I'll do an every-other-day thing with it. Or maybe I'll just break down and buy another full-size bike (used off Craigslist or something) sooner than I was expecting, since it's not really THAT likely that I'll get my old bike back (and if I do I can just turn around and sell the new one on Craigslist)
  • Although, after the last week on the folding bike, I do really like grip shifters. So that's another reason to consider getting another new bike (and this time getting one that's lightweight enough that hauling it up the stairs isn't as much of a chore — not that the Mongoose was all that heavy, though, and it was mostly my addons like the panniers and the like which did me in, so maybe I'm just SOL and I need to find a decent garage security measure).

December 11, 2008

Pop quiz for San Francisco drivers (, )

by fluffy at 6:57 PM
You are driving down Mission St. There is a bicycle in the right lane. The left lane is completely open. Do you:
  1. Slow down and use the full left lane to pass
  2. Slow down and split the left and right lane to pass
  3. Stay at the same speed, come within inches of the cyclist, slow down, roll down your window, shout a profanity at the cyclist, then peel out as loudly as possible before speeding off?
Answers inside.

Bicycle news (, )

by fluffy at 8:45 AM
So, the good news is it turns out my homeowner's policy does cover the stolen bike. The bad news is that my deductible is $500, so at most I'll expect to get like $100 back (probably less, what with having a whole 4 months of depreciation). Ugh.

Oh, and rather than get a check for the difference up-front, I need to itemize my claim, get a "settlement amount" from them, and then prove that I've used that amount of money to replace the item (which means if I buy something used off Craigslist I'll need to get a receipt etc.). So even though I lost property, I'm only covered for it if I run out and replace it right away (and possibly with the identical item, even though the last few days of riding on the Dahon have made me realize that I actually want a different bike than what was stolen; I'm really liking grip shifters, for example).

Plus, after doing all that, I'm guessing my policy premium will go up (I should have asked the claim representative while I had him on the phone), making anything I get back more like a permanent loan which I can never pay off. So maybe it's not worth going forward.

December 9, 2008

Folding cycle monologue ()

by fluffy at 9:44 AM

The beginning

I guess I should head to work on my folding bicycle. Oh, hey, carrying it down the stairs is a lot easier than the Mongoose. So there's that, at least.

December 7, 2008

Another day, another stolen bike (, )

by fluffy at 3:02 PM
Argh. So, I keep my bike in a shared garage. There is nothing to lock a bike to in the garage but I keep a big u-lock on the front wheel and frame to at least stop people from riding off, in the rare case that someone leaves the garage open or whatever (which happens with alarming frequency). So of course, today when I went down to the garage to put out my trash, and I saw my bike helmet just sitting on the floor, well I was a little livid.

So while I was looking around the garage to see if any other bikes were stolen (one other was), some of my neighbors happened to come down and asked what was going on, and I said my bike was stolen. "Oh, you should have locked it to something," they said. GEE REALLY YOU THINK

December 2, 2008

Two tales from today's bike commute ()

by fluffy at 7:13 PM
Positive: On my way to work, there was a rather loud and fast sports car revving alongside me for a while. I essentially went faster than it, what with all the traffic. I could totally hear the driver's penis crying out in frustration at revving, going 50MPH for about 30 feet, then having to stop, thanks to the fact that San Francisco is crowded and the bike lanes move fast.

Negative: On the way home, I almost got hit by a car, at a rather tricky spot. Basically, Division keeps going straight, but the right-side turn onto 9th splits off a bit early, and a lot of people assume they can just speed on through it even though the bike lane crosses the split part (which is a bit hard to see because of the complex bridge stuff, and it's only marked as a bike lane in some places). I always look behind me to make sure there's nobody about to hit me, which was also the case this time, but some person was driving really fast (I'd estimate nearly 40MPH) on Division and had to stop suddenly. They didn't hit me, but they did honk at me, as if it's my fault they didn't notice me safely moving forward while they were being too stupid to yield to me in the bike lane.

Oh, and further along Division, a bunch of people thought it was okay to pull pretty far to the right, crossing over the semi-marked bike lane. That's one of the aggravating things about a lot of the bike lanes in San Francisco, where they're not marked off but instead have occasional bicycle symbols in the space where the lane would be marked. A lot of people don't realize that it's a bike lane and seem to just plain ignore it.

Oh, and on that note, this morning I almost got hit because some idiot was waiting for a gate on Division to open and was basically blocking the entire right lane (when they could have pulled forward by at least 5 feet) and bike lane and I had to swerve around, and the big ol' SUV which was also in the right lane figured it could just keep going at its same speed and not slow down even though, you know, cyclist. A lot of people here seem to completely ignore the signs everywhere which state quite plainly that bicycles are traffic and have the same right-of-way rights as cars.

Basically what I'm saying is Division is kind of an unsafe street and it needs better bike lane markings.

November 3, 2008

Rain ()

by fluffy at 9:17 PM
As much as I like riding my bike to work, this weather has me seriously considering getting a car again. For my weeny 3-mile commute.

I'd probably just get an old convertible or something. Even though it's such a silly solution. I guess there's just taking an umbrella and walking to BART on rainy days.

Thankfully, AccuWeather says today was the last day of rain for a while, so I can banish these thoughts of materialism once again.

August 7, 2008

Commute settled ()

by fluffy at 7:23 PM
So today I tried commuting via Harrison and dang if it wasn't extremely easy both ways. It's pretty much flat (it manages to miss all the hills entirely). The way to work took 20 minutes (even though I missed the turn onto Division and had to loop in an extra couple of blocks), and the way home took around 25-30 (I forgot to check my start time but I think I left work around 6:50 and I got home at 7:15... there is a gentle incline pretty much the whole way that accounts for the 5-10-minute difference).

A really nice thing about Harrison is that there's a bike path for pretty much the whole distance there, and Division and Townsend are both wide and have bike-friendly affordances. Plus, Mission and 24th are both pretty slow-moving so I have no trouble keeping up with traffic. Harrison does have a lot of stop signs, though, and most bicyclists just breeze through them (on the way down this morning I stopped which turned out to be even more confusing and dangerous due to other cyclists in the bike lane and drivers who didn't know what to do about different cyclists doing things differently), so on the way home I took the middle (if illegal) ground of slowing down on my approach and only stopping if someone else (car, pedestrian, or other cyclist) was ready to cross. That way worked out pretty well.

Also, strictly speaking a lot of the stop signs on the way to work don't quite apply to the bike lane, since they're three-way stops and there's no way for traffic to cross the bike lane's path, and in those cases the bike lane's marker extends through the whole intersection (but I hadn't encountered this situation before so I was a bit confused). Although when going by the Best Buy it's a bit strange because it's legally a 3-way intersection but then the driveway to Best Buy's parking lot makes for a fourth way, but the bike lane marker extends past the driveway too. That's one of those weird legal gray areas which I really have no idea what's the appropriate response, especially since there is the potential for cross traffic but it's not onto a street.

Oh, and no arguments or stressy bits today, even when I almost hit a dog which darted out into the crosswalk in front of me this morning. ("Fortunately" the owner was completely clueless and she didn't see me coming or nearly hit her either, as she was messing with her phone...)

Oh, also, at the end of the day, when I did get home, hauling my bike up the stairs wasn't a problem at all. Whee! And i didn't even need my inhaler today!

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