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I’ve managed to shred another one. Within 2 and a half years this will be my third BB I’ve gone through. I’m kinda looking for a little advice on what I can do so I don’t have to put in a new BB every damn year. I, myself, am a big guy. This is what I attributed it to at first, but I’ve been told that has got nothing to do with it.  What I was told was that leg power and mashing up hill in top gears is what will do them in.  I have got some strong legs, thanks to the hills of B-more, and I kind of enjoy mashing up hills.

So, I guess what I’m asking is if one: Does my weight have something to do with it?

Two: If weight has nothing to do with it, then is there a BB out there that will allow me not to have to change my riding style?

Any advice is welcome. Thanks all. :)

You haven’t signed it? They need 1000 signatures! Don’t you want cycling in Baltimore? Sign it! Get everyone you know to sign it! Do it!

We, the undersigned, support the Baltimore City Council in passing legislation that will make Baltimore a safer place for bicyclists. These bills and resolutions not only promote Baltimore as a bicycle-friendly, sustainable community, but make it a better place to live. Encouraging cycling, whether as transportation or recreation, improves the health of citizens and the environment while decreasing traffic congestion, fossil fuel dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.

We fully support the following:

* 09-0429 – Required Parking for Bicycles for Employees & New Construction
* 09-0430 – Transit and Traffic – Bike Lanes ($50 fine for parking/stopping in bike lanes)
* 09-0431 – Bike-Safe Grates for all city construction projects
* 09-0433 – Street and Transportation Projects – Complete Streets in all transportation construction projects
* 09-0175R %u2013 Informational Hearing %u2013 Baltimore Police Department (Conduct a hearing between area cyclists and the BPD to address concerns and improve public safety)
* 09-0176R %u2013 Cyclists%u2019 Bill of Rights
* 09-0177R %u2013 B%u2019more Streets for People, establishing several %u201Ccyclovias%u201D annually

More information can be found on the City Council’s website: http://www.baltimorecitycouncil.com

Wednesday in front of Penn Station. No room on the racks. At first thought, damn this sucks where am I gonna lock up.  Then I thought, actually it’s great this happens here. So many bikes, so very cool.

Wyman Park Drive, after it crosses Sisson Street by Stieff Silver and goes toward the Jones Falls Trail and Druid Hill Park is being resurfaced right now.  While it will be awesome when it’s finished, you might want to find another way home tonight.  Sorry for the lack of pictures.


When we think we have a rough time with snow here in Baltimore this winter, think of our Northern comrades in Alaska.  Check out Bicycles and Icicles.  It made me feel kinda wimpy for my bike being inside for a week.  These folks are serious adventurers!

I realize that comparing climates is futile.  Plenty of cities with much harsher winters than Baltimore have great bike ridership and strong “bike cultures.”  But we do also have pretty long and terrible summers. But there are hotter cities with plenty of ridership, too.  Maybe it’s just a matter of cycling being incredibly fun and of lots of people wanting to do it, wherever they live?

Still, this is some wild stuff I’d love to try one day.  If we keep having winters like this (and climate change scientists often say we might), I think I might have to invest in a hardcore snow bike like these intrepid cyclists pedal around the snowy North.


If you’re a big fan like me (or a moderate fan) of Planet Bike’s great bike accessories and advocacy, you probably have one of their lights on your bike.  Their popular LIGHT FINDER for this year is up.  I have the new Blaze 2 Watt and the Blaze 1 Watt.  They’re freakin awesome.  But the Alias?  Wow.  When Baby comes to ElRo and I, we might have to score one of these for whatever cargo bike we adopt.


I did!  I am almost ashamed of the bevy of bike goodies I scored this year for Christmas from my family members.  Even more than last  year.  First, there’s the Christmas bulb pictured above.

Next, there’s the Planet Bike Blaze 2 Watt LED front headlight. I’ve had the 1 Watt Blaze for a while and have really liked it. I’ve sort of always mean to “review” it, but we don’t usually do that stuff — not on principle or anything. Anyway, on the way back from Moonlight Madness, a Honda stopped while Dan and I were pulling out from getting some soda. The driver said something like, “Your light is giving me a headache. That’s a crazy light.” We didn’t know what to say, and I think she got embarrassed because she just said, “Well, at least you’re safe,” and drove off. Another time, more recently, I was riding up Roland Avenue in Hampden. There’s a lady on a motorized chair who rides in the bike lanes. It would piss me off, but she always does it against traffic, always yields to bikes and always gives you a, “Hey, Hon.” I like her.  One night she said, “Hey, buddy, I like your light!” I thanked her as I sped home in the dark. I can’t wait to see what the 2 Watt will evince from folks.


The mini pump I carry is a piece of junk. It was literally the cheapest one at the store that I picked up to have on me just in case. It’s gotten me home before when I got flats. But it’s a work-out to use that beast. My brother got me the Planet Bike Peace Pump (mini) I wanted. It doesn’t quite fit my saddle bag with my other stuff in it like I’d hoped, but I plan to work it out.

Half of the reason we all carry repair gear (I assume) is to help other people out of a jam.  This pump only does presta valves; so I almost feel like a jerk carrying it. Also, my tire gauge needs the schrader adapter anyway. I might have just made more work for myself next time I run a flat. But: It’s so pretty!


I feel like a sucker carrying my repair gear on my back, but I don’t feel like loading up (or paying for) panniers — when it’s hard enough to get my bike out of my bedroom, then apartment, then building. So my brother also gave me the Big Buddy Saddlebag. It attaches just like the Timbuk2 version I bought and returned this fall. However, it wins over the T2 version because it has reflective piping (which you can see in the picture) and because, well, it has a light loop like almost every other saddlebag out there. Timbuk2 was so worried about their logo that they did not include a light loop. I have a rack-mounted light (I run two rears lights), but most folks would lose their lights with the Timbuk2 version, since it covers up the entire seatpost anyway. Bad design, bad. The light loop on the Planet Bike version, by the way, perfectly fits Planet Bike’s rear lights, pretty securely. And the big one holds (with room to spare): 3 tire levers; tire gauge; big patch kit; multi-tool; 32×700 tube.

(Seen here with Superflash Stealth)


Finally, my winter gloves are missing since I moved in June, and my lighter full-finger gloves got, literally, destroyed in April when I crashed. (I should take some pictures; there’s still some blood on there.) From my parents, who gave me the bulb and headlight, I received the Planet Bike Borealis Winter Gloves. These suckers have the pinky and ring-finger together for added warmth and are supposed to be waterproof. The Giant gloves I had last year were very warm. But in weather like we’ve been having lately, speeding-winds usually rendered my pinkies numb and useless — not to mention that when they got wet, I froze. I haven’t gotten these wet yet, but I’m hoping they’ll help with my cracked/bloody knuckles. This one, from this past weekend, cracked like an egg in a few places and really bled a lot.

So what kind of awesome bike gifts did ya’ll give/receive? I gave someone awesome a nice rear light for a birthday in December, but I can’t say I gave a single bike-related holiday gift this year.

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The folks over at Bike Hacks have a funny post about different “types” of bike commuters.  Read on!  At the risk of sounding like a pig, I’ve seen a lot of “cleavage gals” around town with universities back in session.  Being a married man, I try to look elsewhere (even sitting on the  bus, where’s I’m not likely to hit anything).  I think that people probably don’t realize they’re bent over so much. One that’s missing from the list, though: The Ultra Fred.  You know ‘em.  Might have been ‘em.  I have, especially on my mega zip-tied previous steed.  I’ve seen a lot of Grasshopper folks, riding with their knees up and legs spread.

I also noticed this morning that there seems to be a correlation between seat height and safety gear in Baltimore these days.  On one hand, I see folks trying to get up hills with their seats like three inches too low who are rocking a helmet, vest, gloves, leg clips, lights galore, etc.  All that thought put into cycling, and their knees must be crying all the way home.  On the other hand, there are folks who look like they just bought a bike at REI, didn’t bother with lights, helmets, adjustments and just decided to ride.  While it’s certainly awesome any time that someone decides to start riding a bike for transportation, riding a bike that’s poorly adjusted is questionable enough on its own.  But when you do it at night with no lights or reflectors or anything, that’s just bad judgment (assuming that no one wants to get hurt).

I don’t have a point.  I just had a red-eye.

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I never posted much from Washington with everything that happened in August (tragedy, pregnancy news, being sick, etc.).
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On a Friday, we were catching the Metro to Dupont Circle to visit a bookstore we really like (Second Story Books), and we walked past the IRS building.  On a bike rack, this orange beauty jumped out at us. A Yuba Mundo.
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Not knowing we are pregnant, we admired it in a sort of abstract way.  But I’ve been thinking of cargo bikes lately, for a possible purchase in the next year or so.  And this bike has been hacked nicely!

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If you read Timbuk2’s blog, you probably saw this very cool bag a few months ago.  Lots of people asked them to make/sell it.  And now they are.  Display your pride/support of everyone’s right to share their life with who they want to. Available here (only in Small size).  They are also working on panniers.  They said this a year ago, but now they have pictures of them being tested!

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As what I suppose is the first mention of it here (unless you read my blog), one of our NBBB-type folks is pregnant! ElRo (my lovely wife) is pregnant, and we’re hitting the first official OB appointment today. As you can guess, her stomach is doing bizarre things, and some of the things she used to like aren’t jiving (Nutella, I hardly knew ya….). Likewise, hunger pangs rarely follow meal times. So I concocted what we’re calling Mommy Mix — trail mix you can eat whenever and wherever the hell you want to.

When I go hiking and camping, there is a limit to how much “modern” or “high-tech” gear and methods I have the patience for. “Leave No Trace” is awesome. Waterproof gear not made of thin nylon packcloth is awesome. Stormshield tents are awesome. LED flashlights are awesome. Teva sandals are awesome.  Dr. Bronner’s soap rocks my world (even at home.)

However, there are some things that I cannot abide, like dehydrated food, energy gels and energy bars, etc. (No offense meant of you like them. That’s cool. I’m saying what I like. Go ahead and start a blog about what you like if you think this stuff is the best thing ever. I’ll promise to read it.) I was an Army Brat, and I grew up eating all kinds of dehydrated food for fun.  I’m totally over it now.  If I’m burning enough calories to need an energy bar/gel, I’m probably hungry, too. So I’d rather, you know, eat some good food. I guess the problem comes in when you eat any old food like greasy/salty chips and sugary sodas. I’d rather get the nutrients I need to keep going from somewhat normal food than something bizarrely engineered (which is often unfriendly to vegetarians like myself anyway).
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So when I hike, camp and cycle, I try to think of what I eat rather than supplementing it with other stuff. And if I’m doing something that requires stamina, I like me some trail mix. Last time I went for a long hike, I made my own with:

Various salty nuts (!)
M&Ms (dark!)
Vanilla yogurt covered raisins
Something cheesy I can’t remember (mini somethings with cheddar)
Maybe a tiny bit of good pretzels (but not used for cheap filler like the crap you get at the store)

I also made a batch for my father because he was hiking with our group, and he would have made me some if I were still a little guy. It was coveted by all. I mean, here were folks with pretzel-laden junk mix that they probably spent more money on, and my trail mix had only the stuff I like in it, in the proportions that I like.  I was the envy of my peers.  Luckily for my peers, I like to share and did so.

Dan and I usually score coffee and chocolate when we cycle. Riding in Chucks/Tevas with fenders, racks and cargo shorts, we’d look pretty silly gulping down energy gels while our stomachs growled (see above parenthetical statement if you’re a fan — I ain’t looking for no fight, hon). Dan brought some very delicious chili pepper chocolate to Moonlight Madness, and here I am a month later still thinking about that yummy stuff. We enjoy goodies when we ride.  I think I might start concocting cycling mix as the weather winds down to something cooler. Something that goes equally well with coffee, water and beer.

What would be in your perfect mix of cycling/trail mix?

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I love to travel.  I haven’t gotten into traveling by bicycle yet because most of the traveling I’ve been able to do in recent years is light and last-minute and short.  I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like, but I’ll bet there are few people who wouldn’t say the same thing.  I’d love to get into bike touring once my dissertation is defended and my second AmeriCorps year is over and my life gets a little more stable.

In DC a few weeks ago, we saw stands for the bike sharing program in Washington called Smartbike DC.  One was even pretty close to our hotel.  If we had more time, it would have been lovely to ride around, even to the Tori Amos concert we were in town to see (my early 30th birthday present).  But we weren’t there long enough, and, well, it didn’t work out this time.
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But, dang.  Washington is flat!  At least, compared to Baltimore it is.  And those bikes look fun to ride.  Next time.  Next time!

More Tori and cycling fans!

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Well the NBBB rolled on downtown on Thursday night in the Moonlight Madness ride.  For the exception of a few flats and a bad spill everyone seemed to have a good time. Thank you, thank you , thank you to the folks who put this ride together. I totally enjoyed myself.  It was so great to see people from all different walks of life with all different kinds of bikes come together to take a ride. It was also great to meet some of the folks who visit this blog and be able to say thanks for visiting, face to face.  To the guy who took the spill: I think I can speak for everyone on the ride and say, get well soon, fellow velo.

In other news, I’m gonna be representing the NBBB down at OC for a few days.  I’m planning on riding the length of the island. I’ll be sure to post about it with some pics. Has anyone out there ridden this before? If so, anything I should look out for or look forward too?

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What did you do post Moonlight Madness? I split off from Barry and Dan, came home, talked to my wife, took a shower with peppermint soap — and trued my back wheel at 1:30 in the morning! I’m going away this weekend to Washington, and I didn’t want to leave it like that. I mean, it was barely close enough to ride. Those potholes on Roland Avenue below the Avenue are a doozy! I do enjoy truing wheels, although I usually get really really anal about it and take too long. And with tonight’s fun ride and being excited about my trip, hell, I’m too keyed up to sleep anyway. Now my wheel is trued pretty well, with the tire/tube back on and inflated, and it’s next to ElRo’s bike where it belongs.

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There are a lot of excellent and awesome bike blogs out there these days. Two years ago, they were few. Several of those blogs are still around and are better than ever. I came across a cool site last week called vélo-flâneur. I’ll let it speak for itself. From “About” page:

Cycling is a deeply aesthetic practice. Riding transverses the city and country; it bridges the mechanical and the organic. Here readers will find some thoughts on the intersection of cycling and modernity from the relatively dispassionate and fleeting, yet productive position of the pedestrian or cyclist. This is not about racing. Vélo Flâneur focuses on everyday, utilitarian riding, randonneuring, jaunts through urban and natural terrain — and watching, listening, and feeling.

This is really my kind of website. And there’s a Flickr group, too!

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