Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Made It!

Aghanloo Green
Hello there, dear readers! It looks like I've made it over to the new site. Welcome, and thank you for your patience with the blackout, especially as I know it was wreaking havoc on RSS feeds.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chasing Beauty

Oftentimes when I post pictures of places I cycle through, people will comment on how beautiful the landscape is and how inspiring it must be to ride there. I got these reactions when I wrote the blog from New England, as well as (for those who remember the earlier years) from Austria. And I get them even more so now that I live in Ireland.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Giving Space

Cyclists Over the Striped Bridge
After a 7 year absence from the driver's seat, I found myself in one again as I practiced my rusty motoring skills on the narrow winding roads of Northern Ireland. I still have no plans to buy a car here. But I want to be able to operate one when called upon. Skills, after all, are useful things, and I never intended to let my ability to drive atrophy. But alas, time passed and atrophy it did - so that this time around it felt as if I were learning to drive from scratch.

Some of the novelty had to do with the left-handed traffic flow here. I did not expect for this to be problematic, as I have no trouble at all switching into left-hand mode when riding my bicycle. What I didn't anticipate was the difference in the visuo-spatial experience of operating a right-hand drive car. It seems that over the years I drove in the past, my brain must have grown accustomed to relying on certain markers on the road in relation to the contours of the car's front end in determining my road position.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

If Bicycles Grew on Trees...

Roger Williams Park Botanical Center
Imagine for a moment that, after drooling over images of beautiful bikes of an evening, as is your custom, you fall into a deep slumber and begin to dream. And in this dream, you are walking though a lush, beautiful forest. Exotic in its flora, this is not any forest you are familiar with. All manner of palms and giant ferns thrive in its humid depths, as flowering vines curl and twist overhead, their blossoms releasing bittersweet musks.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Turning Heads (and Headtubes!) On a 19th Century Rudge

1892 Rudge
In the realm of collecting old things, a distinction is generally made between the vintage and the antique - the latter typically defined as being over 100 years old. When it comes to bicycles, my interest in this category has been limited to detached historical curiosity at best. It’s not that I don’t appreciate early two-wheeled machines. But oftentimes they are just too far removed from the bicycle as we know it today, for them to register in my brain as bikes and excite me on the same tactile, visceral level.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Unexpected Autumn

Aghanloo Church of Ireland Graveyard
Last year I was away from Northern Ireland for most of October. And as far as Autumn scenery, I'd assumed I wasn't missing much. From having lived in England in my 20s, I remember this time of the year being rather bland. As summer came to an end, at some point the leaves would start to change from green to a sad yellowish brown, promptly shriveling in the process and disappearing altogether soon after. I assumed it'd be more or less the same over here and did not harbour expectations of remarkable foliage. But oh how wrong I was! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Is Uneven Pannier Load Problematic?

When I ride a pannier-laden commuter bike, it is not uncommon for one side to be bulging while the other sits nearly empty. This is not because I can't be bothered to distribute the weight evenly, but because one of the panniers houses my enormous photo/laptop bag and I don't always have anything to put on the other side to compensate. I've cycled with this type of uneven rear load pretty much the entire time I've owned bicycles with rear racks. In the past, I've usually had a briefcase-type pannier clipped to one side of the rack, with nothing on the other, which is really no different from having unevenly loaded double panniers. But it's when I switched to the latter system that observers really began to notice. Over the past month in particular, I've received quite a few questions and concerned comments about the issue! These tend to fall into one of two categories: (1) Does the weight not pull to the side and cause handling issues? and (2) Isn't the uneven load bad for the bicycle frame?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Captain, My Captain! A 100 Mile Tandem Jaunt with Chris Kostman

Tandem Century with Chris Kostman
Oh where to begin. Well, let me try it this way. During my last stay in Boston, my friend Chris Kostman came over to visit from LA and we rode 100 miles together on a tandem bicycle. Though I know Chris through the bicycle industry (he is a race organiser, ultra cyclist, and owner of AdventureCORPS), prior to this visit we had never actually cycled together, spending our time instead walking the stuffy hallways of bike show venues. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Allure, and Lure, of the Headbadge

New England Builders Ball 2014
So here's a question for you: Have you ever bought a bike, considered buying a bike, or wanted a bike solely because you loved the headbadge? Last week a guy I met confided that he was ordering a bicycle from a specific builder for this exact reason. And just as I opened my mouth to tell him I thought that was kind of nuts, I stopped myself - remembering that time when a friend sent me a link to an auction of a vintage bike - its frame decrepit and several sizes too big - sporting a headbadge with my name on it. Apparently, the obscure and long-defunct manufacturer briefly produced a model under this name, and for the 3-year duration of its unremarkable existence it got its own headbadge - all floral and Jugendstil-like brass; sadly, far more interesting than the machine itself. As a certain vintage bike collector I know would say: "How can you not?"

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Surprisingly Bike-Like

What a strange, strange feeling it is to ride a bike built up around a frame you worked on yourself (clumsily, messily, and under heavy supervision, but worked on nonetheless!) and discover that it rides like a "real" bicycle.

I am not sure what I was expecting exactly. Ricketiness? Handling so wacky that I'd veer out of control before getting half way down the block? A full-on collapse at the joints on the first pedal stroke? Something like that. But this thing I was on felt surprisingly bike-like.

Whether it's a good bike or a bad bike I do not yet know. But oddly enough, the good vs bad does not seem all that important at the moment. It's the bike part that matters. And as a bike, it is remarkably convincing.