Meandering thoughts about pedal powered living…


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

364 Days since my last post to this blog...I went less than a year since my last post. To all those naysayers who thought I wouldnt keep up with a blog...TAKE THAT!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Year...

It has now officially been over a year since I posted on this blog. It has been a pretty crazy year for me and my bicycles. Here is the bullet point update:

  • Topped 10,ooo miles on Hasufel, currently pushing the 15,000 mile mark.

  • All of those approx. 14,587 miles have been ridden on the same tires and tubes that came off the sales floor.

  • I competed in my first sprint triathlon (the Ludington Triathlon) on a borrowed Trek road bike

  • I decided that it was a lot of fun to ride really fast and pass other people riding bicycles…maybe these roadies are onto something.

  • I bought a 2009 Scott Speedster road bike. full 105 specs. Full introduction to follow soon. His name is Shadowfax.

  • I competed in my second Sprint Triathlon (the Big Foot Triathlon) and took second place in my age group.

  • I competed in my first Olympic Distance Triathlon (The Bangs Lake Multisport Festival)

  • I competed in my first Criterium Bicycle Race at the Tour of Elk Grove…I fully realize my identity as a roadie.

  • Hasufel was stolen! Bike thieves broke through 2 u-locks and a cable to make off with my dear friend.

  • In an incredible turn of events, Hasufel is recovered from the clutches of the seedy underbelly of Chicago! Full details on this will follow.

  • I competed in my second Olympic Distance Triathlon (The Chicago Triathlon)

  • My Wife and I were able to do our first Bike Tour Together. 6 days of riding self supported from Evanston to Muskegon MI, to Milwaukee WI, to Evanston.

  • I was able to do another self supported bike tour from Chicago to Madison WI, to Milwaukee WI and back…on this trip I hit a personal record for most miles ridden in a single day…118.

  • I competed in my first 70.3 Half Ironman distance triathlon (Branson MO.) I finish. I decide that running that far hurts a lot. I also set a new personal record for Bicycle speed…50+mph.

    Hope everyone else has been having as much fun this year.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I have been wearing Bern helmets for a while now. I love their styling, and they fit my huge head really well. Up until recently I have been rocking the Bern Brentwood helmet. My Brentwood was a subdued matt grey color. Nothing fancy or flashy…

Well, this time around, I decided it was time to add a little flash to my cycling wardrobe. So I purchased a new Bern Watts helmet…in matt neon green.

Just to add a little additional spark to my new head protector…I hand cut the design and lettering using Black reflective 3M material. (This stuff is pretty awesome. In regular lighting it looks black, but if you hit it with a direct light, it reflects white!)

So now I have a kickin’ new helmet…with some mad anti-car style!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Update!

Wow, it has been a while since I posted on here! The good news is that I haven’t been posting, because I have been outside riding my bicycle a lot! To get all of my faithful readers up to speed on the latest happenings in the bicycle riding life of Elliot here are some bullet points from the past couple of months:
  • My Bicycle got a new front rack! I switched out the Tubus Tara rack and put on the Surly Nice Front Rack. The big benefits of this change included the light mounting bracket on the front of the rack, and the useable top shelf.
  • I decided to build a new trailer using the parts from the old one. It is awesome, and huge. Full trailer update to follow.
  • My work responsibilities have shifted to include a second location. This means I now have a 51 mile round-trip commute that I have to make once a week. I was able to find a route, but it isn’t a whole lot of fun to get there. Lots of high traffic roads with 18 wheelers and angry mini-vans. Fortunately there is also a bus route that I will be able to use in the winter…hey, everyone has their limits.
  • I am well on my way to hitting the 10,000 mile mark this year. As of this post my bicycle and I are just tipping the 7600 mile mark. Amazingly, we are still on the original set of tubes. That’s right, 7600+ miles…no flat tires.
  • I was able to make it through the busy summer season without having to use my car for work. This meant hauling over 250lbs of stuff on the trailer at times. The longest I had to haul that load was 35 miles.
  • BP dumped a lot of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, furthering my decent into anti-car fanaticism.
  • I was able to tag along with my wife Amanda on a trip to Portland Or. Portland is known for it’s bicycle culture, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ride out there. Bottom line…AMAZING. Details to follow.

    I am sure that more has happened, but those are some of the highlights. As the summer starts to slow down a little bit, I hope to get more of my stories posted up here! Thanks and happy riding out there!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Bicycle Tour

The weather has been getting warmer and sunnier, and I have been itching to take some longer rides. So, when I had the opportunity to teach a Bicycle Camping class for a Boy Scout event I decided to turn it into a weekend adventure. The event was going to be held at a scout camp in Wilmot Wisconsin, about 60 miles from my home in Evanston, and since I was supposed to be inspiring Scout leaders to try bicycle touring, it seemed to me that I would lose some credibility if I drove my bicycle gear up there.

I decided to break from my usually route mapping tool, and give the new Google Maps bicycle route finder a try. I hadn’t really heard much about the new Google feature, good or bad, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to give it a test run. So I just entered my home address, and the camp address, and let Google plan my route. At first glance it seemed to do pretty well. As best as I could tell from the map, it kept me off of major roads, it utilized bicycle trails and it didn’t add excessive mileage to the trip in the process. Another added bonus, was that Google has a print option with the Maps feature where the final printout gives you turn by turn directions, and each step is accompanied by a map. So my final printout gave me very nice turn by turn cue cards with maps included, and it was free!

Weather forecasts had predicted 15-25 mph winds out of the Northwest, so I knew I was going to be fighting the whole way there. That, plus adding some buffer time, incase I got lost using my new maps, I figured it would take me about 6 hours to get to the camp, rest stops included. So I set out about 6:30am on Saturday Morning.

It was beautiful, but quite cool. My thermometer was reading about 35 degrees. The wind hadn’t really picked up yet, so I was able to make some good time early on. It was really nice riding. Crystal blue skies, and with the warm weather we had been having recently all of the flowering trees were in full blossom. The first 35 miles of my ride was almost entirely on bike trail. This made for a great relaxing start to the trip. I pedaled along listening to birds, seeing signs of spring everywhere, and enjoying the warm sunshine. Around mile 20 I made a brief stop in Lake Forest to meet up with my Dad, who had decided to ride part of the way up there with me. After topping off water bottles, we continued to pedal north.

A few miles north of Lake Forest the Green Bay Bicycle Trail ends and we made a quick connector jog over to the Robert McClory Bike Path. The Green Bay Trail is a paved bicycle path that is relatively sheltered by trees and greenery. The Robert McClory Path switches to crushed limestone and is a bit more exposed. The crushed limestone and the wind definitely made for a good workout.

About a half mile from the Wisconsin/Illinois border we left the McClory Path and moved onto some rural roads. Just shy of mile 40, the two of us stopped at a truck-stop diner and had some well earned breakfast. At that point my Dad decided to call for a ride back home, and I was off for the last leg of the ride.

Up to this point the Google Maps directions and been fairly straightforward. Looking at the last 20 miles, it looked like I was going to be weaving my way through county back roads, smaller subdivisions and the like. This would be the real test. This is also where the riding became even more beautiful. The day had warmed quite a bit and was now pushing the upper 50’s. The road opened up and I was pedaling through beautiful farm land full of horses and small lakes. I did have the occasional farm dog charge across a yard to get my heart racing, but fortunately all of them were fenced in or tied up.

I found that as I continued, the Google Maps did a great job of taking me on the low traffic roads, and did an excellent job of navigating me through some neighborhoods. I was actually really impressed. The miles ticked away under my wheels and I was able to really just settle in and enjoy the ride rather than worry about the navigation.

The Friday before this trip, Some friends and I had decided to do a Mountain Bike ride down in the Pelos area Southwest of Chicago. I love the challenge of mountain biking, and I think that the intensity of mountain biking forces you to focus your attention on the technical aspects of biking. I think that I am finding more and more that I really get a much deeper enjoyment from bicycle travel. I love riding long rolling roads that allow me to enjoy the physical challenges of biking, but also give me the opportunity to really take in the scenery around me. I still love riding on great technical singletrack, but I think my heart is in traveling by bicycle.

As I came to the last couple of miles of my ride, I was getting excited about arriving. I was tired and hungry, and ready for a long break, but I knew I was getting close, so I pushed hard to finish strong. As I approached the last intersection before the camp entrance, I saw this ghost bike.

For those of you unfamiliar with ghost bikes, they are a memorial to cyclists who have been killed on the road. They are placed at the scene where they were killed. You can read about them here:

I don’t know why, but it made me really emotional. I have seen a number of ghost bikes in the city, but I had never seen one out on a country road. It caught me off guard, and just reminded me how blessed I am…and how important it is to be thankful for every moment that we are given.

So after a short stop and a moment of respect, I continued on. I was able to make it to the camp in just over 6 hours.

I taught several programs, and it seemed like people responded well to them. I hiked around a bit, camped out, ate some great Dutch-Oven cooked meals prepared by the Scouts and then crashed for the night.

Sunday Morning was even colder, I woke up and found ice on my tent and bike tarp. The sun was just cracking the horizon when I shoved off for the ride home. The ride home was just as beautiful, with the added bonus of having that Northwest wind at my back.

The more I experience bicycle travel, the more I love its simplicity and the beautiful opportunities that it provides to connect with God, nature and other people. On a trip like this you will very often see things that will make you laugh, think, cry, reflect, pray, sing and just about anything else. I think that is one of the joys of bicycle travel, it is basically about experienceing life firsthand, and with that comes great joys, great sorrows and great challenges. But life is really about getting there, not getting there.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why education is so important...

So...this morning, as I was walking my wife to the train station, I noticed this bicycle…
I had to laugh...
In theory, the lock would prevent someone from just hopping on the bike and riding off. But this is a terrible way to "lock" your bicycle. It is stuff like this that reminds me why teaching bicycle skills to people is so important. The bicycle pictured above is the type that is commonly available at big box stores. In many cases, bikes like these are owned and operated by people who don't have any other means of transportation. If this bike was stolen, It could leave someone stranded. In many situations, a bicycle is the only means for getting to work or getting to a doctor's appointment, getting to school or even just getting grocery's. For some people, a bicycle is a critical part of daily life, and if that bike gets stolen it can be very hard to recover.
If you are reading this and don't know how to lock your bicycle, I will gladly teach you. Give me an email!