Thursday, April 2, 2020

Day 2 of 30: Goals

Good morning on day 2 of 30 Days of Biking! The exclamation point may seem a bit excessive with everything going on out there right now, but with nice weather in the forecast for today, I'm choosing to be optimistic. I hope you are too. Let's call it a goal.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about goals over the last week or so. I've always been relatively terrible about managing them, but I do think they're important. Then I got to thinking about how many people have had goals for this year that have been completely wiped out (my family is not immune). I got to thinking that it might be time to shift goals, both in the short term and for the big picture. Let's face it: we're not going back to normal any time soon, if ever. So, I decided to set some goals for this month...

If you read my post from yesterday, there really is only one goal relating to the 30DoB challenge, and that is to ride a bike every day. But if you know me, you know me better than to just do the bare minimum. This is now my 5th attempt at this fun little challenge, and every year I like to set my own personal goals for it that are a little bit different each time.

From a cycling perspective, I'm keeping it pretty simple: commute more times via bike (and public transit) than car. I'm grateful to even have a commute, so I'll call it an act of appreciation if I accomplish this. Side note: I'm also having some mechanical issues with my car, so I really don't feel like driving it right now anyway.

On a broader perspective, I have a couple additional goals that are more ambiguous. One is to continue to support the local economy which has been hit pretty hard by this whole thing. So far so good, as I made it a point to stop by Grove City Brewing on my ride home yesterday:

Me being one person stopping in to pick up two crowlers (and leaving a tip) is not going to save the world by itself, but every little bit helps, right? As you can see in the top two pics above, Grove City has a Carry Out Local initiative going on, with the slogan "Be Safe. Keep Calm. Eat and Drink Well." That's right up my alley. Expect to see more of these over the next 29 days (and beyond).

I've also set a goal to keep up better with this blog, if for no other reason than to have a record of what I experienced during this absurd time to be alive. My girlfriend has suggested that everyone write a journal or something to keep notes of what we've gone through, and I do agree that we should all try.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me too, and the 30DoB challenge has lately begun to be the true shaking off of my Winter depression that has seemed to hit me extra hard this year. Maybe you've felt this way too. Writing just makes me feel better, and at the very least, if we all try to do things that make us feel good inside, we'll get through this before you know it.

It goes without saying that riding a bike is another one of those things for me, and to come full circle, I'm about to be 2/2 in bicycle commuting this month (picture is from yesterday morning):

Small steps, to reach the bigger goals. Basically, do what you need to do, but don't forget about doing what makes you happy. Do what you can to help others. And if any of those somehow involve riding a bike, even more power to you.

By the way, I promise my daily posts will become less cerebral at some point. I'm just "writing out" a lot of things right now, and I appreciate you coming along for the ride.

30DoB Mileage Total: 12.5

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Day 1 of 30: No Time Like the Present

It's April 1st, and that means my favourite annual tradition has come around once again. Not April Fool's Day, which does hold a very dear place in my heart, but 30 Days of Biking. If you're unfamiliar, it's pretty simple: it's a pledge to ride a bike every day in April, and share on social media with the hashtag #30DaysofBiking. No mileage goal, no other goals except riding a bike every day.

You might be thinking to yourself, why would I want to go outside and ride a bike when the vast majority of the world has been told to stay home? Even though 30DoB comes around at the same time each year, I always feel that it comes up at just the right time, and I think this year's timing couldn't be more perfect. Here's why:

Certain outdoor activities have been deemed acceptable
In fact, they're good for you if you're in good health. Taking a walk or a bike ride should be totally fine as long as you maintain appropriate social distancing practices (the Ohio Coronavirus Information Page has some great info on this and more, and I encourage you to seek out similar resources in your state). Speaking of social distancing...

Auto and pedestrian traffic is as low as I can remember
This means riding a bike on a road shared with cars might actually be safer than usual. Furthermore, pedestrian traffic is also somewhat lower, making potential run-ins with either much less likely than normal. It's been a bit spooky at times, being alone on a normally busy road, but I don't mind not having to dodge aggressive motorists. If you still don't feel like going outside, the good news is...

ANY bicycle riding counts
If you have a trainer, and you hop on while you watch TV, it counts as a ride. You can still join the 30DoB challenge while staying home! Now, that's not my cup of tea, but it's a nice added option so that as many people as possible can get involved.

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I'll be posting here every day with my adventures along the way, as has become my tradition (now 5 years running!). You might find quite often that adventures don't have to be all that epic. In fact, sometimes they take the form of a simple morning commute:

Hey, any ride counts, right? My friends from Roll: Bicycles have created a Facebook Group in a similar vein titled "Riding is not Cancelled." The mission is as follows:
"We could all use a little motivation and inspiration to keep us moving forward in our lives and connected in our communities. Riding is NOT cancelled is an opportunity to perspire, inspire, and educate one another to get out there and ride at appropriately social distances."
I couldn't have said it better myself. They're upping the ante with some fun challenges and prizes to boot. For me, the prize of riding every day is enough. Riding has tended to be a bright spot in my life, and we all need some positivity now more than ever. That's really why the timing couldn't be better to be on a bike every day.

So I encourage you to join me and all the other crazy cyclists out there, and share it wildly. It might make you feel good. I just ask that you do all of this safely. With that, it's time to ride...

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


There's an old Simpsons quip some of you might remember where Lisa tells Homer that the Chinese use the same word for crisis and opportunity. Some quick Googling will tell you that statement is largely false. In any case, it goes without saying that we are currently in a state of worldwide crisis as we deal with the Coronavirus outbreak, but in spite of that, there are opportunities...

In accordance with the Ohio Department of Health Director's order to stay at home that was enacted on Sunday afternoon, my employer has graciously granted me at least a week of paid leave. That's actually a little depressing, because we were just getting started with outdoor work after several months indoors. Still, I'm thankful to have an employer that not only cares about the safety of its employees and customers alike, but that also cares about the well-being of its employees to offer paid leave during this crisis.

Three days in, I've made the most of the "extra" time that's been afforded to me. Days have begun by sharing yoga with my girlfriend and daughter, in addition to sharing more meals and activities together throughout the day. For me personally, on day 1, I finished the 2nd coat of paint on what will become an office in our home. On day 2, I mowed the lawn and did some cleanup around the house. And today (day 3), I took advantage of some beautiful weather to get in a nice 14-mile ride this morning:

Part of the order has encouraged outdoor activity, albeit with the caveat that social distancing precautions are taken. As you can see from the picture above, I didn't have much trouble staying more than 6 feet away from anyone. There's good and bad news that comes with that. On the one hand, sun and fresh air is actually beneficial to low-risk individuals, so it's kind of a shame to see these ideal conditions being underutilized. However, less people out and about means less risk of potential infection, so there's that.

Before I go any further, I will mention that I am only venturing out to do things like this because I'm a middle-aged man in good health, and although I have made it a point to get outside for at least a little bit every day, I do still limit my interactions with humans outside my own home. Case in point, after spending about an hour outside (mostly alone), I will probably stay inside the rest of the day other than maybe heading out onto my porch to enjoy an afternoon beer. I don't want anyone to get the idea that I'm going out there thinking I'm invincible and not a potential carrier, and I also don't want anyone to think that what I do is good for them to do in their situation. I encourage everyone to use their best judgement and take all necessary precautions, and for the love of science, WASH YOUR HANDS.

Anyway, beyond just getting some exercise and sunshine, I did need to stop at the grocery store on the way home, so I tried a new cargo setup on the bike today. This was inspired by a random dude I saw on the trail during one of my lunch rides about a month ago:

It looks pretty nifty, if I do say so myself. Reflective panniers and a bright orange crate create high visibility, and lots of storage space to boot. More on that later.

As I mentioned above, outdoor activity has been encouraged in some respects. One area in which it's not encouraged is at playgrounds, which have all been temporarily closed here in Ohio. It makes sense, as they're definitely a haven for all sorts of germs. Still, this creates an eerie scene when you happen upon one in the middle of a beautiful day:

Furthermore, I rode past the High School and it felt very much the same when I neared the sports complex:

In the midst of all of this, I really do feel bad for the kids who are missing out on their senior athletic seasons, or all of the festivities and enjoyment that comes with being a senior in high school. I'm sure they're not all that upset about missing class time, but the friends and extracurricular activities...

Anywho, I did some meandering through some neighborhoods that I regularly work in but hadn't yet had time to explore, and I found a few new trails and other places within riding distance that I'll definitely have to revisit (including a Metro Park!). I eventually reached my only true destination about an hour later:

I didn't take any pics inside, but things were civil among patrons and workers, and I found all the groceries I was looking to buy today. It was encouraging. I'll be the eternal optimist here: everything is going to be OK. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling depressed because of the events of late. It's completely understandable. If we can all find some positivity, do a thing (or things) we love at least once a day, and above all else be supportive of one another, I do believe that we will all be OK.

As for the new setup, there are about 40 pounds of groceries in there, plus bike tools and water. I had plenty of room for more actually, and the old boy handled the heavy lifting nicely despite having been out of action for a little while.

I do have some routine maintenance I'm going to perform hopefully later this week, but that's going to be reserved for another rainy day. I'm thinking of making it part of "shop class" with Faith, being that we're learning from home nowadays. We will all hopefully be heading back to the "office" before too long, so I'm going to continue to make the most of this opportunity. I would encourage you all to do the same, and to do so safely.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Bike Finds a Way

Random adventures are always the best, and on the coldest and dreariest of Winter days, an adventure found me:

I realize happening upon an old caboose may not seem all that adventurous, but the circumstances by which I found it were completely random, and outside conditions were less than ideal.

My employer had registered my coworkers and I for a seminar today at the Makoy Center in Hilliard (about 5 miles outside of Downtown Columbus). During a break, I noticed that the center just so happens to be adjacent to the Hilliard Heritage Rail Trial. Sensing an opportunity, I made it a point to take a little ride after the seminar had ended:

It's a good thing I've been keeping a bike in my car to take rides on lunch breaks during the Winter. :D
No matter how things change, my bike always finds a way to make my life more interesting. Anyway...

I've been wanting to explore this trail for quite awhile but haven't made the time to do so. It's a 7-mile trail built on a former rail bed (a fairly common thing around these parts) that connects several parks and housing developments to Downtown Hilliard. Of course my first experience occurred unexpectedly on a day when temps hovered around the freezing mark. There had been some rain and wet snow coursing through the region recently, which you can see in the pictures below:

I like that they preserved some of the old rail signs, like the one you see here:

I'd entertained the idea of biking its entire length, but due to said cold temperatures and the imminent threat of more freezing rain, I decided to turn around once I reached the caboose (seen above) at Homestead Metro Park. It's a neat little park that I'll definitely look forward to returning to on a nicer day. For one, it features several historic structures including this old train station:

There are also some walking/fitness trails, and for those of you with children, a decent-sized playground area:

After returning to downtown Hilliard, I did look around and noticed a new microbrewery and several restaurants that definitely need to be visited some time soon. Mayhaps my next adventure on this trail won't be so random, or brief...

Monday, January 27, 2020

Five for Riding

Five years ago today, I published my very first post on this blog with the picture you see above. What a ride it's been (pun intended). I normally don't do very lengthy posts on here, but I have quite the adventure planned for this one, so before I get into all that, I want to get some important things out of the way.

As much as I enjoy riding and writing about riding, it wouldn't be nearly as special if I weren't able to share it with all of you in so many ways. Sharing rides is of course the most obvious one, but there are also those of you who have given the gifts of cycling through birthdays/holidays, all of you who stop in here regularly to read about what I/we do, those who share these words and pictures with friends, and those who are further inspired to do epic things (bike-related or otherwise) in their day-to-day lives because of my/our experiences. For all of this and so much more, I thank all of you.

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I began this blog with an idea to share some of the interesting stories that seemed to arise simply from being on a bike every day, and also to share some more ambiguous stories thru pictures (see: Rustcycles and Nice Racks). I started it simply wanting to get thoughts out of my head and into some sort of creative space. As unintentionally as possible, it became its own animal whereby I had the opportunity to share, collaborate, inform, inspire, and be inspired by others at the same time. It's never been about making money, but it has been about getting rich through experiences.

Camp Chase Trail, Columbus, January 2020

It's also survived thru pretty much everything my life could throw at it: three different moves, a horrific injury, friends, enemies, multiple changes in lifestyle and jobs...I could go on, and that's probably my favourite thing about this little project that I'll remind you, started on a whim. It's endured. I've hardly ever kept up with anything in my life (that wasn't music) for longer than a few months, so I get a sense of accomplishment thinking about doing this for five years. I guess that means this tiny little space of cyberspace is special to me, right?

Center City Philly, May 2017

I've spent some time in the last few days looking back, which I think is healthy to do every once in awhile. Seeing where I've been and projecting myself to some of the moments I've shared on here has helped me to see how far I've come, and also exposed areas where I still feel I can do better. It's shown me once again just how magical riding a bike can be. Riding can be a transformative thing, binding together individuals of any race, generation, belief, sexual orientation, athletic prowess, choice of lifestyle, and the list goes on. If you've been to this space before, I know you understand this already.

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And with that, it's time for a few trips down memory lane. I knew this day was approaching, and because of that, I had decided not to do an end-of-year post for 2019. I mean, it's still less than a month after the new year. So before I go into some of my favourite memories of the past five years, I'd first like to share some of my favourite experiences from 2019:
  • 5) Everybody Wants to be Naked and Famous
  • 4) How I Spent (Most of) my Summer Vacation
    • After a pretty hectic and somewhat stressful start to Summer, I returned to the blogosphere with a brief update on what my family had been up to in those months, including buying our first house together! It almost felt like a victory lap.
  • 3) YOU get a Bike, and YOU get a Bike!
    • A few days after my nephew got his first bike, our daughter got her first big girl bike!
  • 2) Staycation Sensation
    • Because of work schedules, I don't often get to share rides to and from school with the kiddo. I was extremely lucky to share one with her AND my stepdad in September (with a bonus full family ride to get donuts). 
  • 1) Tent-ative Plans
    • I had done a great number of things on a bike before March 2019, but I'd never gone bike camping. My experienced cycling buddy Jason took me along for my first ride.
Christmas Day, 2019

2019 was a "different" year. It was my first full year living in the greater Columbus area, and as much as you can prepare yourself, you're never truly ready for everything a new experience will throw at you. But that's part of the fun, right? It was still a very good year, and at the very least, I've learned a lot.

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I'd like to start my "best of" five years with events that seemed to be most popular. It's really tough to quantify what you, the audience enjoys, so the only measurement I have (besides trying to remember what people have told me they liked) are page views. So with that, here are the top posts on this blog by readership, all-time. I'm actually surprised by a couple of these:
  • 5) Zippity Doo Dah
    • The Doo Dah Parade in Columbus is an annual celebration of the liberty & lunacy of freedom of speech through humor. The family and I decided to take our first "big" adventure by biking to it on July 4th, 2018, in the midst of a heat wave.
  • 4) Oliver Clothesoff
    • My 1st Philly Naked Bike Ride. The PNBR blog post usually ended the year as the top post by readership because SEX SELLS whether you want to believe it or not. Ha!
  • 3) The Naked Miles
    • My 3rd Philly Naked Bike Ride, which happened to be my final PNBR as a Philly resident (for now, anyway).
  • 2) Bike to School
    • My girlfriend and I convinced Faith to ride her bike to school, something neither of us had ever done ourselves.
  • 1) For the Love of Wash Cycling
    • My gut-wrenching farewell to the job that inspired this very blog. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that re-reading it did cause me to tear up a little.
My last day as a Wash Cyclist, May 2018

If you spent a little time to read all of those, first of all, thank you. Secondly, though they may have garnered the most page views and there are some great stories in there, some of MY favourite experiences were left out. If you feel so inclined, help yourself to some of my best memories I've tried to recall. This is by no means a complete list, and these are in no particular order:
  • When Worlds Collide
    • I took a bike and a train to a job site in Northwest Philly to work for TV-13, my former full-time employer that operates more than 75 miles outside the city.
  • The 700 Club
    • Logging just over 700 miles in April 2018, a feat I'd never accomplished before, and I'm not sure I'll ever accomplish again.
  • New Kid on the Block
    • The first ride on "The Bike With no Name," who has now traversed well over 7k miles in 7 different states in just under 4 years.
  • 300
    • Celebrating my friend Todd's 58th birthday with a 58-mile ride that inspired me to start my own birthday biking tradition...
  • 33 on the 33rd
    • My first (and so far only) attempt at riding my age in miles on my birthday, which morphed into my Bike Your Birth Month tradition. 
  • Beach Bikin' Away
    • Riding 44 miles on the Atlantic Coastal Highway in search of beer with my good buddy Amy.
  • We Only Come out at Night
    • Braving the frigid Winter to view holiday light displays in Philly.
  • Everywhere Man
    • I was literally all over the place in April 2017, including Philly, Columbus, and Pittsburgh with my girlfriend.
  • Bikin' on the Bayou
    • Exploring perhaps my favourite bike share system so far, in NOLA.
  • The Abandoned Blog
    • Biking part of the Abandoned PA Turnpike, which was definitely one of the most unique trail experiences of my adventures.
  • Cyclotherapy
    • Welcoming "My Therapist" to my family of bikes.
  • The 10,000 Mile View
    • Logging my 10,000th mile (on Strava) in September of 2019.
Philadelphia Museum of Art (Todd's Birthday Ride), April 2016

Because I love random statistics, indulge me if you will:
  • According to Strava, I've logged over 10,500 miles since May 2016, plus who knows how many more before then. Put into perspective, that's enough to have gone across the United States nearly four times. Side note, I'd still like to do that one day.
  • *Only* 1,439 of those miles were work-related, much less than I thought before I looked it up. Still, that's more than 5 times the width of Pennsylvania, and nearly 7 times the width of Ohio.
  • I've published 491 posts on this blog, which baffles me. Nearly 100 posts a year. I never imagined being capable of coming up with that many ideas. You never know until you try, right?
  • Since this adventure began, I've been on two wheels in 9 different states and 2 different countries (so far).
New Orleans, LA, December 2018

So what do the next five years hold? You know me better than to try to predict that. About the only thing I can guarantee you is that my family and bikes will be involved. Thanks as always for riding along, and here's to many more miles and adventures.

I wrote the bulk of today's post before yesterday's tragic helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. Whether you were a fan of his or the game of basketball or not, it's a tragic event involving a larger-than-life figure that should be another reminder to us all: appreciate what you have, be thankful and kind, and love your loved ones deeply every single day. I'm as guilty of forgetting to do this just like almost everyone, so I hope we can all be better, together. Tomorrow is never guaranteed for anyone.

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Strong December

Perhaps you've seen my Instagram/Twitter/Facebook posts featuring the hashtag #bikeyourbirthmonth. Perhaps you haven't. Either way, if you're reading this, thank you for stopping by. I'd like to let you know a little bit about what I've been doing this month and why I'm doing it.

Born out of the spirit of April's 30 Days of Biking, I've been attempting to ride every day during December, which happens to be my birth month (in case you didn't guess that by now). I have no mileage goal or any other goal really, other than riding a bike at least once a day.

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Back in 2016, I was inspired by my friend Todd's tradition of riding his age in miles on his birthday, a tradition I was able to join in that year, and also in '17 and '18. This led me to attempt an annual birthday ride of my own starting in 2016 as well.

Even though that ride went off mostly without a hitch, it was difficult to plan around weather in late December. The next year, I decided instead to attempt to ride every day for the whole month, and my new favorite birthday tradition was born. I realize that riding every day sounds more difficult than riding just once, but if you think about it in terms of daily routine, it's actually much easier to tackle 31 short rides as opposed to planning out one big ride.

This is my third attempt, and as always, every successive attempt is a little different. The big adventures haven't really come out of nowhere like they typically have for me during these challenge months, but there is something satisfying about riding every day and realizing you've logged over 40 miles without really noticing. Rest assured, I'll be sure to post if anything crazy happens. I did convince the family to join me for a couple quick rides this month, so who knows?

I don't do this for the adventures, though they are a nice cherry on top. It's really about doing what makes you happy, and the holidays are supposed to be a season of being thankful and rejoicing and all of that. Biking makes me happy, and...

The biggest ulterior motive is to encourage all of you to do what makes you happy, especially if it involves cycling. If you feel so inclined to join me, join me, not just in December, but during your birth month too. I realize we're already more than halfway thru the month, but it's never too late to jump off the deep end hop on your bike, provided you haven't already packed it away for the Winter.

There are still 15 days to go in 2019, and with that, plenty of time to ride. Let's do it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

There's Snow Stopping me...or is There?

The calendar still says it's Autumn, but Mother Nature unexpectedly dumped a few inches of snow on us Monday night, about two-thirds of the way through the season. As someone who works outside on an almost daily basis, I'm pretty well accustomed to the changing of the seasons and can work through just about any sudden variation in the weather. However, attempting to apply fertilizer to a lawn covered in snow would be futile, so my boss has called us off the last couple days.

Not one to be kept inside (I did shore up a few indoor projects in the homestead), I kept up with my "usual" errands in spite of temps hovering in the mid-20° range:

If you're eagle-eyed, you can see the Big Splash Water Park in the background:

It goes without saying, it's not a place you'd want to be on days like yesterday and today. At any rate, you can see that paved surfaces weren't too adversely affected by the snow, and school wasn't even delayed by this quick blast of Winter weather. I had very little difficulty getting to and from the grocery store yesterday:

That said, I'm well aware that trying to run errands on a bike in this weather is anything but usual. I was the only cyclist I saw on the road yesterday and today. I totally understand why most people don't want to do this sort of thing. I'll also say that once you try it, it gets easier every time after that.

Now that I've done this a time or two hundred, the only real difficulty is dressing for the occasion, which is simply a matter of taking the time to do so. I'm a bit old-school in my approach to gearing up for this sort of weather (which honestly isn't that extreme, in my opinion, but I've been doing this for a few years). I usually start with a standard balaclava for my head and neck:

I like my balaclava because it's not as cumbersome as a beanie and scarf combination, it's easy to pull the lower half up over your mouth/nose area for colder conditions, and it also fits nicely under a helmet:

I also go with traditional thermal long johns under my pants and socks, which have always worked better for me than any of the spage-age Under Armour style fabrics. This week's weather wasn't quite cold enough for me to switch to the ultra thick wool socks just yet. My regular crew socks did just fine:

I usually wear a thermal long-sleeved top in addition (you can sort of see it in a couple of the pics up there), and if all else fails, supplementing with the old-fashioned beer jacket never hurts:

The last remark was half sarcasm. Excessive liquid consumption in cold weather does not make you warmer (including hot cocoa, tea, or coffee). I just had to work in a plug for Grove City Brewing, one of my favourite local watering holes, which I decided to visit during today's errands. Not surprisingly (again), I was the only one who made use of the bike rack today:

Lest you think I only ventured outside to go day-drinking, I did also stop at the mailbox (because I'm an old man who still mails checks to pay bills):

And I went back to the grocery store to get some additional items for dinner tonite. One more time, I was the only one at the bike rack:

Obviously, since I'm typing this post, I've survived my short ventures into the outdoors over the last couple days. I'm happy I was able to get at least some physical activity accomplished in spite of lackluster conditions, but I'm also hopeful this will move out before the weekend. There's still a month left in Autumn, after all...