Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How to bicycle for transportation in the rain.

Mia Birk in her rainy town of Portland
How To Bicycle For Transportation In The Rain
By Bill Poindexter aka Carfree American

This being Bike to Work week many of the new cyclists may consider a rainy day a day to hop back in the car. Don’t fret my bike friendly Americans, a little rain won’t hurt you.

One of the greatest things about biking for transportation or travel is being outside and an active participant with the weather. There are few things in life more rewarding than bicycling in the rain.

Rain riding can be a fun, safe, and rewarding experience. The savvy carfree or carlite American can use the following strategies to insure a successful commute.

Thad Carson is a mail carrier and creater of Taddihogg
cycling hats. He commutes by bike all year long in all
weather. Here he is delivering hats on a rainy day.
 Carrying clothes and gear:
For dry clothes and gear: Stuff your items in a garbage bag and then insert them into your backpack.

Or pick up some quality panniers (saddle bags) that are waterproof and/or have rain covers.

I use Arkel panniers and Arkel rear trunk called the Tail Rider that has a built in rain cover.

Protecting your body:

I love this built in rain cover on the Arkel Tail Rider
 If it is warm wear your wick away bike clothing and get wet. If it is 70f or below you may want to wear a light rain jacket or poncho, but be warned, you will warm up quickly and will most likely sweat thereby getting soaked anyhow, so you will want to regulate your temp by, ideally having a rain jacket with a lot of vents, and if you do not have that, you can regulate temperature by zipping and unzipping and keeping your effort and pace to the point wear you do not sweat much.

My favorite rain jacket from Showers Pass
 What to wear, what to wear…in the rain?
I am a big fan of wearing anything for short nice weather rides, say a couple of hours, or rides where I am doing errands or rolling to my favorite bistro for dinner.

But…here it comes…

When the weather turns amiss I throw on my cycling gear-bike shorts, wicking shirts, and cycling jacket (if needed). Cycling clothes have evolved and serve a purpose-light weight, pull sweat/ moisture away from body, offer low wind resistance, and keep you warm on a cool day and cool on a warm day. With advances in fabrics you can choose wool or synthetics.

Bike shorts also are a must to the regular cyclist. The padding protects the tender underside and helps to insure a more comfortable bike ride. The shorts take a little getting use to, but once you get over the “diaper feel” you will use them on a regular basis for rides over an hour. Cycling clothes come in many styles and sizes so you do not have to have the look of a pro racer. As with all things cycling it comes down to your own individual style and preference.

Arriving wet:
Bring a towel, a change of clothes, find a bathroom and do your thing. I am told by female friends there hair and makeup are issues-well you just have to figure out a way to make it work.

If a wet day, you may also bring an extra set of cycling clothes for the ride home so you do not have to wear the wet ones you might have been unable to dry on your cubicle wall.

Excuse not riding in the rain.
Generally there are ways and routes to safely ride in the rain. Be creative, you can at the very least bike to a bus stop and take mass transit, or even walk, before resorting to using a car.

Some safety guidelines for rainy weather:

a. Use front and rear flashing lights day and night for more visibility.

b. During a thunderstorm find shelter and wait for storm to pass.

c. Down pours can be dangerous and hard to see the road ahead, best to find shelter and wait it out.

d. Rain can cause streets, lane lines, metal, or newly paves roads to be very slick so use caution especially on turns.

e. Be predictable to other cyclists and drivers by keeping a straight line.

f. Look ahead for debris caused by the rain and use caution.

After ten years of riding in all types of rain, I have found riding in the rain can be very rewarding and extremely fun! Anyone can ride on a nice day. The different feel, smells, sounds, sights, and feeling of riding in the rain makes any rainy bike ride more epic and allows for a great story after the ride.

2010 Ride for Silence was cancelled because of rain
but these folks rode anyway to pay there respects to
fallen cyclists.
“You rode your bike to work?” Your coworker will ask. “ Yup”, you say, dripping wet and smiling.
“In the rain?” The person blurts out loudly.
“Yup!” you say smiling even more.
“That is awesome.”…and so it goes.

Live and ride.
Peace, Bill

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

10 Things I Love About Living Carfree

10 things I love about living carfree:

1. Saving money: I figured I save about $6,000.00 per year, that covers gas, car payment, insurance, maintenance, and property tax. Back in 2000, when I had two expensive cars I was paying about $15,000 per year. It varies per person and family. What would a few extra thousand dollars do for you and your family?
See article, How to Pedal Towards Financial Freedom from our guest, Tammy Strobel

2. Walking in my neighborhood: Before I started walking for transportation I would see many of neighbors through the glass from my car or they were a blurr as I rode past on my bicycle. Walking has allowed me to meet my neighbors, their kids, their pets. Every time I stop and chat with someone, my community becomes stronger, better, safer. Neighbor supporting neighbor.

3. Bus rides in my city: I love riding the bus! It reminds me of vacations as a kid because that was the only time my family used a bus for transportation. The bus, as trains and trolleys, is still a treat to me. I love conversing with people on the bus, reading, or watching my city roll by.

4. Breathing easier: Without good health I do not have anything. 10 years ago, after years of physical neglect I would get short of breath just walking on my block. For years I admired people whom walked and bicycled for transportation; they always, no matter their age, looked healthy, and happier. I like knowing I am not adding to air pollution.

5. Good use of my Time: I decided ten years ago I did not want to waste my time. I made a choice to live deliberately and fully aware of how precious life is and not waste it on things that do not matter to me.Time moves too fast! The average person may live 700,000 hours (age 80). Now subtract 8 hours/ day for sleep-now your down to 467,200 hours of life. Then take into account, eating, washing, pooping-well there is another 2 hours per day and there goes another 58,400 hours and now you are left with 408,800 hours. Then how much time do you commute to work, watch TV, surf the internet-2, 3, 5 hours per day? Then of course how old are you now, yep, subtract those hours (8760 hours per year). What are you left with and how are you going to use that time. I decided ten years ago, I would use my time left in healthy and productive ways. Living carfree allows me to engage life fully. At age 47 I figure I have about 289,000 waking and sleeping hours left, I will spend it wisely.

6. Confidence: With the recent disaster in Japan, one is reminded how easily life and standard of living can be washed away. Nothing you can do about it. If you are healthy you can get yourself out of situations some of your neighbors may not be able to. Living carfree as made me more confident that I can survive volatile weather conditions or possible future disasters. If something happened, I know I can walk or bicycle out of the area on my own terms by passing traffic. I do not need to be rescued. Everyday before I leave the house I make an assessment of what to expect; how far am I going, what is the weather going to do and could it change. So I make sure I have the right food and clothing. Living carfree is very similar to backpacking or bicycle touring. Although the distances are shorter, the basics of travel are the same. Confidence comes with being healthy and fit from walking and biking for transportation and also being prepared.

7. Using all my senses: I am aware of my surrounding when I am walking and bicycling. Spring is here in Kansas City. Everyday I; see signs of plants blooming, smell the change of the season, feel the soft new grass under my feet, and I hear the birds singing.

8. Leading by example: “That is so cool, wish I could do that.” “Still riding your bike for transportation? Your doing it right, the world needs more people like you.” “I really admire you, I see you all over the city, you are an inspiration to me.” These are some statements from people in my community every week. There are many more. I live by the words of Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I feel like I am making a difference, even if at a grassroots level. People see me living this way, gives them the courage to try alternative transportation, and dump the excuses not to.

9. Using my body: I love, love, love using my body for my transportation needs. In the last 10 years I lost over 100lbs, became very fit, and mentally strong. In Dr. Bob Arnot’s book, Guide to Turning Back the Clock, he calls the bicycle “the ultimate time machine.” Saying, “a bike is like and extension of your body, it replaces tired, worn joints, and inelastic ligaments. Since you can maintain heart and lung power well into your sixties, the bike becomes a fresh, elastic young new set of ligaments, muscles, and joints…riding a bike rewards you with a dynamic cardiovascular system, springy, powerful muscles, and the body of a much younger person.” Walking also has its benefits. Using my body for transportation allows me to feel great everyday, mentally and physically.

This lady crossed my path last spring while on a Greenway
10. Adventure: The best part of living carfree. I found out early on, adventure is relative to each individual. Some people go on week, month, or year long trips for adventure in far away places. I have had hundreds of adventures within miles of my home here are a few: been chased by a thunderstorm, ridden by the light of the full moon, walked and rode in temperatures from -5f to 108f, been beaten up by hail, ridden sick with a temperature of 102f, met hundreds of people-from homeless to the well to do, had projectiles thrown at me by people in cars, got caught in a funnel cloud on a overpass and was hit by rain in all directions that stung, seen thousands of animals that were killed by cars, ridden in rush hour traffic in downtown and the suburbs, been run off the road by 5000+ pound machines(cars and trucks), ridden on ice, walked 9 miles home with my bike after two flats, been caught in a blizzard at midnight with 40mph winds, heavy snow, seen sunsets and sunrises that brought tears to my eyes, seen numerous wildlife-bobcat, beaver, owls, coyote, deer, woodchucks, snakes, lizards, otter, herons, and many more all while biking or walking for transportation, and many more adventures. Whether riding a mile to the store, or farther, all these things equal grand adventure.

What are somethings you love about living carfree or carlite?

Share your thoughts here or on the Facebook page.

Monday, May 2, 2011

U.S. Bicycle Route System news!

New flash! the Adventure Cycling Association is now an official partner with the Cycling W3R Expedition. "They inspire people to travel by bicycle!"

They do great things when it comes to bicycling! Also today they are kicking off a fundraiser for the U.S. Bicycle Route System! So help make the USBRS a reality by donating $10.

"During National Bike Month (May 2011), Adventure Cycling Association is working to raise $30,000 to support the creation of an official U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) -- once complete, it will be the largest official cycling route network in the world!"

Please share this with the WORLD!

Peace, Bill