Archive for December, 2009

Feel free to skip this one

Nothing too important to see here folks. Just that in the light if the recent case involving Dr. Christopher Thompson, who might not have been convicted had other cyclists not documented his previous aggressive behavior towards cyclists, I’m just cataloging here an incident that happened this morning in the extremely unlikely event that it can be used to help out a fellow cyclist down the road.

This morning at approx. 7:45 a.m., heading south on Shiloh Rd, between 14th St. and Plano Parkway, I was passed within approximately two feet by someone driving a white pickup truck from Welch Air Conditioning with Texas license plate number 430LC3 (note, that may be an ‘O’, not a zero). The driver also hit the horn just as he overtook me, something that all cyclists (and seeminly no drivers) know is foolish and dangerous.

I’ll be sending a letter to Welch Air tomorrow so the event is registered with them as well.  I’m not looking for them to punish the employee (and I’ll be stressing this in the letter) because, for all I know, the guy might have been having a horrible day and decided to take it out on an easy target without knowing the potential consequences of his actions.  Lord knows I’ve done stupid things on the road when angry or distracted and I can understand when it happens to others.  However, I would hope that the owner or manager of the business will be able to impress upon the employee that driving like that will not be tolerated in the future both because it reflects poorly on the company and, hopefully, because it’s the wrong thing to do.  We’ll see.

Anyway congratulations to whomever was driving that truck this morning. You’re my first recorded assjack. Perhaps I should prepare a plaque for you, if you’d like to claim it.

The great decline

Since 11 Feb 09, I’ve put 5620 miles on my car.  On average, that’s about 18 mile per day, 130 miles per week, 550 miles per month, and 6725 per year.

I’d like to think that that’s not too bad, especially since I’m averaging about 16,000 miles/year on that car since I purchased it.  And in fact, I do seem to be doing a little bit better than the average American: According to Brighter Planet, my auto-based carbon footprint is 12% below the national average.  Now I’m not a particularly “green”guy, so I don’t really know how much that means, but I’m pretty sure it means I’m not making like the Road Warrior and living in my car as it rolls down the highway.  However, I still think I can do better.

As I said above, I’m not a particularly green kind of guy, so I’m not trying to save the planet or anything, but I am a bicycle guy, and I am always looking for ways to get more riding in.  Plus, my belly is learning new and effective strategies in my ongoing battle with banishing it from my body, so more exercise is always a good thing (at the very least I can eat more pie without getting too much fatter).  And so I’ve decided to try to ride more and drive less in the upcoming year.  So I’m setting a goal to reduce my monthly driving mileage by 50% by the end of the year.

Now, as with anything,there are always some caveats.  I don’t plan on reducing my driving that much straight-away.  For one thing, it’s December, and it’s starting to get friggin’ cold out there.  I do ride in the winter, but I don’t have as much winter gear  as I would like to ride all the time in the winter (plus none of my bikes are set up for riding in any snow or ice, so on the rare occasions that happens here in the Metroplex, I’ll be hopping back in the car), plus I’m not really set up yet for larger trips to the store — all I have are my messenger bag and a rack that’s calling out for a basket.  Throughout the year, I’ll be working on getting more utility gear so more and more of my shopping trips (like those to Costco) can be done by bike as well.

And so, my plan is to try to shave another 10% per month off of my total mileage, so that by the end of May I’m down to about 250-275 miles per month by car.  I suppose that I should also add the caveat that this doesn’t include miles driven for work purposes (not commuting, but things like business trips).  I’ve recently developed a full-blown fear of flying (which I would love to get over, but I don’t see that happening any time soon), so all of my travel for work is going to involve a rental car or a train.  And since one round-trip to Iowa would eat up seven months of my driving allowance, I simply can’t count those miles towards my total.

Anyway, I’ll be checking in here regularly, updating y’all on my progress towards my goals and maybe even sharing spiffy graphs or pics of poorly assembled bike trailers that nearly cause me to tumble over into traffic.

My boss just called me a freak

So my boss saw that I rode my bike in to work this morning (22 degrees with light winds) and while expressing his amazement let me know I was a freak for riding in this cold. I can’t exactly argue with the guy.

While it’s really not all that cold once you get going, there are just enough annoyances associated with cold weather biking to make you wonder if it’s worth it: your toes are never quite warm, even with the double socks and wind covers; your fingers are still cold, despite the thick windproof gloves; and don’t get me started on the mix of glasses, cold air, hot breath, and a balaclava…

But despite all of that, I still find the simple act of riding my bike so fun and worthwhile that I’m willing to bundle up like Randy Parker and voluntarily head out into the frost with no windshield, no roof, and no heater beyond my own body, while the rest of DFW zips by in their cars, thinking I’m a freak.

They’re probably right.

An unofficial start

OK, I plan on officially kicking off this incarnation of the Bramble sometime later this month However, since I’m stuck in Iowa, and trying to get over the heap of dumbassery that I’ve already encountered here, that I thought I’d try out the iPhone WP app and see what posting/updating from the road is like, as one of the main reasons for reviving the Bramble is going to involve a lot of road posting. Wait for the initial kickoff to see what that is.

Until then I need to get back to work. You know, the work that I could be doing just fine back in Texas.