31 December 2009

Crunching the numbers

The end of the year always seems to bring with it a bit of reflection. A little over a year ago, I was inspired to start tracking my mileage. Throughout 2009, I dutifully logged all the miles I pedaled, and here's the rough breakdown:
  • 211 total rides for a distance of about 13,000km (8075mi)
  • 157 commutes to work (6992km ~ 4344mi)
  • 17 Randonneuring events (4100km ~ 2545mi)
  • 12 MTB/off-road rides (245km ~ 150mi)
  • 25 other rides (1668km ~ 1035mi)
The neat thing about statistics like this is they're so concrete -- they certainly quantify the miles I spent my bike.

What the numbers miss though, are all the laughs shared with friends and the quiet miles alone with my thoughts. The tailwinds and the headwinds. The pain and suffering of a tough ride. The feeling of freedom, adventure and shear euphoria of simply going for a ride. The lovely sunsets and the crunch of fall leaves under my wheels. An ice cold soda on a sweltering day. A hot cup of tea after a biting cold commute to work. The frustration of chasing dogs and inattentive (or aggressive) drivers. The pleasantness of a sharing a smile and "Good Morning" with another person on the greenway trail.

All in all, I had a wonderful year on the bike -- hope you did too. Best wishes to everyone for a Happy New Year!

14 December 2009

Time Capsule

I have a bit of a collection of bike books -- dozens of books from the late 1800's to the modern day covering everything from Tour heros to repair.

A Christmas or two ago, my parents gave me a copy of Glenn's Complete Bicycle Manual (5th printing, April 1974) they picked up in an antique shop. Glenn's Manual was undoubtedly one of my inspirational sources when I was first learning how to repair bikes. I poured over the pages of Glenn's Manual (as well as several other books) absorbing the technical photographs and drawings -- figuring out how everything worked and how these beautiful machines all come together.

This Glenn's Manual my folks gave me wasn't just any Glenn's Manual however -- there was something special about this copy. Inside it's covers was a treasure trove of articles patiently clipped from newspapers and magazines in the mid 1970's. Clearly, the original owner of this book was very much into bikes too and keen on collecting all the information they could find.

But there was something else special about this book -- it was originally purchased from Bike World Inc. at North Hills Shopping Center here in Raleigh on June 8th, 1974 (I was just a little over 2 years old then!). Bike World is long gone now, but I can't help but wonder what kind of treasures that shop might have held -- maybe a couple Schwinn Paramounts -- a gleaming white Peugeot PX-10 (probably a fleet of cheap Peugeot UO-8's) -- a few Campy Nuovo Record parts in the display case....

I also find myself thinking about the original owner of the book. How did they get into cycling? Are they still alive now -- do they still ride? What kind of bike did they have? Where did they ride, what adventures did they go on, what sights did they see?

Just for fun, I've scanned a couple of the "artifacts" and attached high resolution images below. Enjoy!

04 December 2009

Scenes from the Commute -- Flora obscura

Um... Hi there...

I spotted this interesting plant growing along the greenway on the way to work this morning. And yes, it's exactly what you think it is -- it's Cleome Hasslerana also known as the "Spider Plant" (or Spider Flower). At a quick glance though, it could be easily mistaken for something else...