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2024 How Was Your Commute?

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2024 How Was Your Commute?

Old 02-19-24, 09:29 AM
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Consecutive bicycle work commute number 1835:

I knew this morning was going to be an icy one due to the ruts from last week's snow and some of the melt-off that refroze on the pavement. I wanted to ride my winter bike with the studded tires, so last night I got my lazy butt in gear and finished the part replacement project I had started last week. I installed my new chain. I hooked up the cable and adjusted the new rear derailleur. Then I disassembled the front v-brakes and cleaned out the corrosion so that they worked properly again. It was dark and cold, so I didn't bother to take it out for a test ride.

This morning the temp was 25ºF air temp with a light wind. Not bad at all for a South Dakota February morning. I threw my bag and lights on the newly refurbished bike and hit the road.

Within a block I realized the chain skip was beyond tolerable. Having a brand new chain, cassette and derailleur, I knew the only thing left to cause this was the front chain ring. I was currently on the middle ring, so I shifted into the big ring and the skip went away. Then I shifted down to the little ring and it still didn't skip. Yep, that confirmed it. The middle ring on my crankset was shot. It was last replaced along with the previous rear derailleur, which means it got wrecked in less than 2,500 miles. I took a closer look at the middle ring and the teeth were visibly worn down.

I thought briefly about going back home and grabbing either the fat bike, or my hybrid bike. The fat bike is pathetically slow and makes my wrists hurt. My hybrid doesn't have good tires for ice, and there was plenty of ice. So I decided to make this bike work. I used only the big or little rings for the ride, which means I was either mashing the pedals or spinning comically fast. First thing I did when I arrived at the office was order a new crankset (the rings by themselves aren't replaceable on this bike.)

So for those of you keeping score at home, that's a new rear wheel ($78), new freewheel ($20), new chain ($19) , new rear derailleur ($17) and now a new crankset ($48) for a grand total of $182, not including the $85 I spent on the wrong wheel that is too expensive to return. All this for less than 2,500 miles of winter riding. I only spent $250 to buy the bike new back in 2002, and have probably sank at least $750 in parts into it over the years to fix everything winter destroys. lol

On a lighter note, today is President's Day. The client I'm working for today is closed for the holiday, however the company who I work for is open. That means I'm working all alone. I actually like these days, as I still go to the client location and I'm the only person in the entire building. It's quiet and I can get a lot done. Plus, with nobody around to notice, instead of my usual business attire I'm wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and walking around in just my socks. Nice and comfortable!
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Old 02-21-24, 10:10 AM
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Out of excuses, back on the bike! Nice ride home last night, though it was after dark by the time I got home. I wasn't planning on that, very glad I charged my blinky after the January commute. (Singular, alas.)

This morning was beautiful, a great day for a ride. I ran into the big problem with shoulder season commutes, though. Checked the weather, not too bad, 37F. So tights and coat were appropriate. Started riding and Goofy's (the Garmin) temperature reading started dropping from room temperature, down past 60, down past 50, and ... And then it got stuck at 46F. Aaugh, too hot! So I came in sweaty, but at least I had time to cool off before showering.

Heard a couple blue jays and two pairs of woodpeckers, a red-bellied and a flicker, and saw another bluebird on the way in!
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Old 02-22-24, 08:49 AM
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Consecutive bicycle work commute number 1838:

I can't get over how easy this winter has been. The last week the highs have been in the 40s and 50s (F). Most mornings have been below freezing, but still 20+ degrees warmer than a typical February morning. The forecast looks like the trend will continue, at least for the next week or so.

This morning the temp was actually above freezing at 33ºF. I took the hybrid bike. Most of the ice is gone, and the little bit left is pretty easy to navigate around or across without too much trouble.

The other night I decided my chain on the hybrid was due for a lube, so I cleaned it good, then took it off and threw it in my pot of wax. While spinning the rear wheel I noticed it was rubbing hard against one of the brake pads. When moving the brake caliper manually I could feel them binding up, so I disassembled the brakes, gave them a good cleaning and lube, then reassembled and adjusted everything. They were still rubbing at one point in the rotation, so I did some wheel truing to fix that problem.

Saw a big flock of at least a dozen of wild turkeys. I wanted to stop and take a picture but traffic was too heavy so I opted not to risk it.

Shortly before he passed away 12 years ago, my father gave me an AirZound for my bicycle. I very rarely use it, but this morning a driver who nearly right hooked me deserved a honk.
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Old 02-22-24, 07:25 PM
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Old 02-23-24, 09:51 AM
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Consecutive bicycle work commute number 1839:

The wheel that I trued up on Tuesday night went out of true again on the ride home last night, to the point where I had to release the rear brake caliper to allow the wheel to spin. It was wobbling like a clown bike. When I got home I threw the bike on the repair stand and found two spokes next to each other that had loosened to the point of being non-functional. I'm not sure what caused that. I spent about 45 minutes retensioning spokes until I got all the spokes tight and the wheel spinning true again. I'll have to keep my eye on this wheel, as it may be reaching end of life.

Temp this morning was 35°F. Above freezing on a February morning. That's nutty. I decided to break out the road bike, seeing as there probably wouldn't be much ice on the pavement on a warm morning like this one. Plus I would be heading into the wind on the way to work and the road bike cuts through wind much better than my other bikes.

Normally on Fridays I don't ride all the way to our office, but instead just go to a client downtown. It makes the Friday commute easier at the end of the week when I'm tired. However, today we have a company potluck at the office, so I decided to go ahead and do the longer commute.

Because I made the decision so late in the week, I didn't have anything to bring to the pot luck to share. When I woke up this morning I was craving olives. That's really weird, as I don't think I've ever craved olives before. Anyway, I took this as a sign that I'm supposed to bring olives. Plus, olives are easily transportable by bicycle, unlike a crockpot full of chili.

So, a couple miles from the office I took a detour and stopped at a grocery store. The detour would lengthen my morning commute by about a mile and a half, but it was such nice weather I didn't mind one bit. I bought a couple jars of fancy stuffed olives and threw them in my backpack.

As I was leaving the store, one of the straps on my backpack let loose. After 11 years of heavy use and abuse, the stitching on the strap finally gave out. The heavy backpack suddenly shifted left and slid off my arm. I managed to catch it before it hit the ground. That would have been ugly if the jars of olives broke all over my work clothes.

After examining the situation, I didn't have much choice but to improvise the remaining two miles to work. I put the still functioning strap around my shoulder as normal, but the weight of the loaded backpack wouldn't allow it to stay on my back without two straps. I wound up putting the broken strap over my other shoulder and holding it with my teeth. This quickly proved itself to be very tiring. A co-worker passed me as I rode like this and said it looked like I was suffering.

At my desk at the office I have a box full of safety pins that were left over from a previous pants emergency. Using a bunch of safety pins I temporarily fastened the strap back together. Hopefully my jury rigged solution will get me the eight miles home tonight without having to use my teeth, or accidentally stabbing myself.
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Old 02-23-24, 01:09 PM
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I got a little lost the other day (on purpose) and briefly encountered a deer. They are so quick!

The deer is @ 2:20


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Old 02-27-24, 09:31 AM
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Consecutive bicycle work commute number 1841:

Well, so far it's been a day of questionable decisions. lol

34°F this morning when I left the house, but the temp is supposed to continuously drop throughout the day until it gets down to the single digits tonight. Plus, there's a wind advisory. A 25 mph constant north wind with gusts much higher made for a surprisingly chilly 8 mile ride to work. Knowing the temps will continue to drop, and that I'll be fighting the wind on the way home made me question whether or not I should have just ridden to the client's office instead, which would have cut my commute in half and given me a tail wind on the way home.

Before I left this morning there was a 20% chance of snow. I decided that was low enough of a snow possibility that I rode the hybrid bike with regular tires. During my commute I noticed some light snow flurries being illuminated by my headlight. Now that I'm at the office the chance of measurable snow has gone up to 65%. So now I was questioning that I picked the right bicycle.

Ever have one of those periods of time where it seems like everything you own is breaking? I'm in one of those stretches right now. Everything from bike parts, to backpacks, to window blinds, to tub drains, and more. Makes me kind of afraid to touch anything!

Anyway, for those following my saga, last week I noticed the rear wheel on my hybrid bike was a little out of true so I straightened it out. Then two days later it went very out of true again, and two spokes had loosened enough to completely lose all tension. So I spent some time last Thursday evening tightening those spokes, checking all the other spokes, and truing the entire wheel. I had it adjusted nice and straight, and was proud of how true it was spinning if I do say so myself.

That was the bike I rode today, for the first time since my wheel adjustments. When I left the house it was riding very nice and smooth. About five miles down the road I thought I was feeling a little wiggle. At five and a half miles there was no doubt the wheel was wobbling, and the rim was rubbing against the brakes hard enough to make me work. I pulled over to inspect, and sure enough those same two spokes have lost all tension again. I'm not sure what is going on. This wheel has over 10k of hard miles on it, so maybe it's reaching end of life? I'm not sure. I didn't notice any cracks or other problems with the rim when I was retruing the wheel. I'm debating on whether it would be worth it to slacken all the spokes and retension the entire wheel, or just buy a new wheel.

I didn't have my spoke wrench with me to try and tighten things up again. To finish my ride to work I pulled the release on the rear brakes. This allowed the wheel to spin without rubbing, at the expense of only having front brakes. It still felt like a clown bike while I rode as the wheel was causing the whole bike to wobble.

Between the wheel wobble, the lack of rear brakes, the low temps, the crazy headwind and the potential for snow accumulation, I'm not super stoked about the ride back home.
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Old 02-27-24, 10:03 AM
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There's no pleasing some people. I joined their ranks today.

It started out inauspiciously. Threat of rain, so I dug out the rain bike. Started pumping tires, primary pump wouldn't seal on the stem. Get the backup pump, except it's wedged in between a broom and a rake leaning against the garage wall. Finally got the back tire pumped up, started riding. Well, I'd figured 63 degrees and overcast would be shorts weather, but my bum knee noticed it wasn't that warm and disagreed about skipping knee warmers after half a mile. So downshift, focus on spinning, gee, at 12 mph it's going to take me a full hour to get there, plus long traffic lights. Tried to speed up a bit, nope, knee disagrees. So I get to work, it's kind of dark, need to take off my sunglasses -- except I wore the clear safety glasses this morning. Walk in the building, and I'm instantly drenched in sweat -- it's 10 degrees warmer and no wind to cool the rest of me.

OTOH, two raindrops isn't bad. There were a few of the white and purple magnolias blooming. Not scientifically named whitenpurplei magnoliensis, but I think the blossoms are prettier than the all white magnolias that will bloom in three months. And what I thought was a bluebird flew down and landed right in front of me, but it was so bright and iridescent I thought it might be an indigo bunting. No, as it flew off I glimpsed the bluebird buff breast -- what's it doing in a neighborhood without a large field? Couldn't hear the peep frog spring chorus at the creek, that may have been the wind, or they may have been singing all weekend.

Bottom line, I'd ride this commute again on a day just like this one. Only I'd have knee warmers on.
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Old 02-27-24, 11:10 AM
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Kiddo has three weeks of strong treatment starting the 4th. One week longer than hoped because an early February treatment had to be abandoned midway due to a reaction (complete with benadryl, pepcid, zyrtec, and finally epi-pen) and has to be done over in the hospital with constant blood labs to titrate it now that he's sensitized.

With no reliable schedule and a few atmospheric river storms and honestly no initiative, my commuter bike has been in pieces since finding that rim tape problem a month or two back. The sealant has probably solidified in the not-reinstalled tire. I have barely ridden my new MTB at all. I've been playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild instead. I'm getting really near the end, though. There's more to do, but not on the main quest.

After that into spring, things ought to be getting back to normal. At least as normal as it ever gets
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Old 02-27-24, 06:22 PM
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I typically leave my house around 7:40am and today marked the first day this year where the sun was high enough in the sky (and wasn't shrouded by clouds) to warrant sunglasses. Spring is not far away but definitely not here yet as it froze last night so still cold enough to warrant cold weather gear.
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Old 02-28-24, 09:19 AM
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Consecutive bicycle work commute number 1842:

Last night's commute home ended with an asterisk. There were just too many things working against me. The mechanical failure of my rear wheel was out of my control, but the rest were just tactical errors that I could have anticipated and avoided. I probably could have overcome many of them (and did make the effort to do so,) but all of them combined proved to be too much:
  • Rear wheel went way out of true.
  • No rear brake, as I had to disconnect it to allow the out-of-true wheel to spin.
  • The 20% chance of snow happened, dropping about 1/2".
  • Before the snow accumulated, the moisture formed a bottom layer of really slick ice.
  • I didn't ride a bike with wider tires or carbide studs.
  • The bike I rode had clipless pedals, which I really don't like to use when it's icy.
  • The temp for the ride home was predicted to be 24°F, but in actuality was 11°F with a -9°F wind chill.
  • The winds were sustained 25 mph with gusts in the 50 mph range. Thankfully they were more of a crosswind than the headwind that had been predicted.
  • I neglected to pack my goggles, or my extra sweatshirt.
  • The low speed I was riding at did not allow me to generate heat.
I did manage to ride three of the eight miles home from work. The thin tires and lack of studs on top of the icy layer meant I was sliding all over the place. The lack of rear brake meant my stopping was greatly compromised, as on ice you want to minimize the use of the front brake (if your front wheel stops turning, you're going down before you realize what happened.) The out of true rear wheel was wobbling so bad that it was causing the rear end to slide on the ice even when I was trying to go straight. The monstrous crosswind gusts were pushing me sideways, increasing the already large amount of instability I was fighting. The low speeds I was having to maintain to keep the bike from hitting the ground meant my body wasn't working very hard, and as a result I wasn't generating any heat to stay warm.

The wheel was getting worse the more I rode, and got to the point where it was nearly touching the chainstays as it rotated. I decided that it probably wasn't going to make it the whole way home without completely tacoing. When I approached the last bail-out point I would have on the MUP for about three miles, I stopped under a bridge and made the "call of shame" to ask my son to bring the truck and pick me up. There was a gas station about 1/2 mile away off the MUP, and we agreed to make that the rendezvous point. I thought maybe I could milk the rear rim and ride the entire 1/2 mile to the gas station. I only made it 1/4 of a mile until the wheel got so bad I didn't feel like I could keep the bike upright any further. So I walked the bike the remainder of the way, then waited inside the warm gas station until my son picked me up.

I did managed to ride 10.65 miles yesterday so, as I mentioned above, I'm going to just put an asterisk by the date and consider my commuting streak still alive.

This morning I decided to plan better. The temp was 3°F with a -13°F wind chill, so I dressed appropriately. I took the winter bike with carbide studded tires for the snow and ice. I decided to go to the clent's location which was only four miles from my house, so I didn't have to fight the wind for as long as yesterday's commute. The ride took about half an hour, mostly due to the wind slowing me down. It was a much more successful commute today than yesterday.

I am happy to report that the new crank I installed on the winter bike did the trick to finally eliminate the terrible chain skip I had been fighting. This bike now has a completely new drivetrain, so I should be good for a few winters worth of riding before I have to start replacing components again.
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Old 02-28-24, 09:30 AM
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Started a new job today. The main hub is 1/2 mile from the lakeside path. It’s 1/4 mile of quiet suburb streets from my place to the coffeeshop that happens to be at the nearest point from my place to lake. About three miles on the path. Perfect.

Its so easy I can be in 52-11 the whole time and just walk on the pedals.
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Old 03-01-24, 07:51 AM
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Consecutive bicycle work commute number 1844:

Yesterday I set a new February mileage record. My previous Feb record was set in 2017 when I rode 244 miles. Typically being the worst weather month, February is also my lowest bicycle mileage month. When I got home on Wednesday night (the 28th) I had logged 243 miles, one mile short of my old Feb record. However, this being a leap year, I had an extra day of Feb commuting. So I rode 15 miles yesterday which set my new personal February record at 258 miles.

This morning was glorious. 33°F, the sun was out, and I had a tail wind. When I road out of my driveway I immediately noticed that it smelled like spring. I'm not sure how to describe that smell, but it's very distinctive. I know here in South Dakota we're probably at least 6 weeks away from consistent spring weather, but when we get a bonus early day like this I embrace it.

Yesterday's warm temps (50s) melted off the snow and ice from Tuesday, so I took the road bike. I made it the 4.25 miles to work in under 20 minutes. Only encountered one ice patch I had to cross, but it was short enough that I just pointed my wheels straight and went for it. Made it across without any issues.
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Old 03-01-24, 08:23 AM
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Finally no rain today. February was super wet, and this week was one of the wettest weeks of the month. Nice to have a dry commute both ways today, even if it was only a chilly 5 degrees in the afternoon. Spring is coming, and it's going to be 20 degrees and shorts weather within a couple of weeks, so I can't complain too much.

Still hit 1200km for February (total, not just commuting) so was still very active despite the less than optimal weather.
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Old 03-02-24, 09:02 PM
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I've barely ridden so far this winter. It's hard to gather up the motivation. Well, warmer weather will come soon.
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Old 03-04-24, 05:51 PM
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Yay, I rode today! This morning went well. It's hard for me to leave early enough to get to work on time. The bike commute takes about 10 or 15 minutes longer than the subway commute. But I did it.

I'm annoyed with myself that I forgot to record my ride from work to class. I took a new route, so I wish that had worked. Oh well.

I'm still on campus (for grad school), and I'll ride home tonight. I was overdressed in the morning, so I rode without my coat at all going from work to class. That worked out well.
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Old 03-04-24, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Yay, I rode today! This morning went well. It's hard for me to leave early enough to get to work on time. The bike commute takes about 10 or 15 minutes longer than the subway commute. But I did it.

I'm annoyed with myself that I forgot to record my ride from work to class. I took a new route, so I wish that had worked. Oh well.

I'm still on campus (for grad school), and I'll ride home tonight. I was overdressed in the morning, so I rode without my coat at all going from work to class. That worked out well.
​​​​​I, for one, am glad you got back out there.
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Old 03-07-24, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Shortwave
​​​​​I, for one, am glad you got back out there.
Thank you! I notice a little strength training before I leave helps me keep my effort level up when I ride.

And hey, and I rode to work a second time this week. First time I've done that in a long time, I suspect. I had fierce headwinds this morning. I'm heading home soon, and I hope to enjoy a tailwind.

"I'm planning to live forever. So far, so good..." --Steven Wright
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Old 03-08-24, 07:27 AM
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I did end up having a strong tailwind as I had hoped. But I had some challenges. First of all, I spent too much time at the library between work and home, so the sun set. As I was riding home, I hit a pothole I didn't see. Oof! I hit so hard that it made me yell. Then I noticed my handlebars were rotated forward as a result of my impact. Then I noticed my front tire was flat. I walked the bike around the corner and used a park bench to replace my inner tube. I might go back to that spot to see the pothole. I might even report it.

For a minute, I thought my mini pump wasn't working. I don't like mini pumps, but I think I'll stick with this one anyway since I don't want to go back to using a frame pump. I thought I would have to carry my bike onto the subway, not a fun thing to do, but I'm glad it's an option. I pictured me asking my spouse for her to pick me up in the car, and truly, in this city, it's a lot to ask, and she'd probably say no, take the subway. And I wouldn't blame her. But I took the pump hose off and put it back on again and was able to get going.

I take the Hudson River Greenway from the northernmost point, and at the northernmost miles, there aren't many people there. It's a neglected portion that gets a lot of mudslides and puddles. My headlight isn't super bright so it was scary. The more heavily used portions are well paved and well lit. I think I'll contact some advocacy groups to see what the heck is happening with the northern portion. It's so dismaying how some parts of the City are well taken care of and the rest can get lost. And I think it's always been that way. Money talks, ya know?
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Old 03-08-24, 01:29 PM
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Headed in today intending to take the long route in. Partway there, the rain convinced me to cut my ride a bit short. I knew it was raining because it was on my glasses and hitting my face. The back of my jersey was wetter than the front when I got inside, so I knew it didn't rain much. If it'd been raining seriously, the rain would have overwhelmed the drying of me riding, and the sweat on my back would have been swamped by the rain on my front.

I didn't mention that the other day, taking the long way home, I spooked a red tail hawk enjoying what looked like a chicken dinner. It's a remote part of the county, though, and I don't think there are any chickens in the area, so it was probably something like a ruffed grouse. I wasn't going to eat it, and the red tail did the work for her supper, so I didn't investigate more closely.

Another week into spring, and another variety of magnolia is blooming. I'll use my own systematic names, so it's magnoliensis purplii.

(From yesterday, when it was sunny!)

I was a bit relieved to see a number of redbuds blooming, in the neighborhoods and near the swamp. Usually it's the first tree to blossom around here, but the magnolias as well as the Bradford pears (sterile ornamentals my Sturmey-Archer!) and some of the ornamental cherries beat the redbuds this year. I guess the hard freeze we got last month along with the ice, after a warmer than normal winter, affected the native trees more than the various other trees that have come into the area. Taking a picture of a blossoming redbud that shows just how striking it is against a barren woods, given the small blossoms, is beyond my photographic skills.
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Old 03-08-24, 06:13 PM
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Quite the commute today and this week. This is the first time since the winter of 2010/11 where I biked to work every day. Last time I did that was out of necessity when my only means of motorized transportation was down for a few months. This time, however, has been because I could and wanted to.
Additionally, I took the "race" bike (just my lightweight carbon road bike) for the commute to see how fast I could clear the 3 miles to work. A block in, I had to stop to adjust the magnet, it had slipped down a hair on the spoke but was enough to keep the pickup for the speedometer from registering. Despite that slight hiccup, I was able to get to work in 9 and a half minutes, moving time. Quick considering that factors in the slowdowns for a few 4 way stops and two traffic lights. Actual elapsed time was over 10 thanks to stopping to adjust the speedo magnet on the wheel, plus a brief wait for a red light, but still happy about it all. Fastest time yet. It was chilly, frost still on the roofs of cars in the shade but at 7:30, the sun had been up long enough to warm the air temp up to about 40. I was in a t-shirt and shorts so it took a couple miles to warm up. Once my limbs got good and warm and the heart rate was up, I was able to really hoof it the last mile and kept a healthy 24mph, not something I can achieve on flat ground on an old, heavy-ish touring frame with Schwalbe Marathons.

Next week will be back to my normal commute, both in speed and consistency.
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Old 03-12-24, 09:58 AM
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Life in the City!

I rode in again today, yay! I had a crosswind which was from slightly behind me so it was really a tailwind. I felt really strong, and I'd like to believe it wasn't just the tailwind that made me feel that way. I might have made my best time on this route.

Roadkill report. I keep a tally of live and dead mice I see along the way. Gross, right? Today, I saw a dead fish in a crosswalk. I will never know how it got there. It was 100 feet from the Hudson River, but still, what could be the explanation?

Oh, and two dead rats. I don't know how they die. Do they get killed by some impact, or are they walking and then do they succumb to the poison they've eaten? The City is running a big effort to tackle the rat problem, and poison is part of it.

Life in the City is never dull.
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Old 03-12-24, 10:42 AM
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I am thinking your fish was probably taking a truck ride to a restaurant. As for the rats - plague?
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Old 03-12-24, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
I am thinking your fish was probably taking a truck ride to a restaurant. As for the rats - plague?
Strike that theory. I forgot to mention that it was 3 or 4 inches long.
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Old 03-12-24, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Strike that theory. I forgot to mention that it was 3 or 4 inches long.
Big sardine?

Seriously, I'd guess a seagull or some other bird was getting harassed for the fish and dropped it.
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