Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Solstice Ride 2010

I have a success to report! I successfully went on the Bike Denver winter solstice ride!

It was cold. Cold enough that before the ride, Scott's face went numb. His thumbs remained relatively un-numbed-up enough though, so he twooshed about it.

Click to view twoosh

I reckon there were about 50 bikes on the ride, which is a good turn out. The ride started in City Park at the zoo, proceeded through Five Points (through, in fact, the five-point 26th/Welton/Washington intersection after which the area is named), down to Union Station. From there to the City & County Building and the state capitol, and then down to Marion & Colfax to the Irish Snug, where we warmed ourselves with some spirits and libations.

50 Furlongs!

Mapping out the ride later, I discovered that it was almost exactly 50 furlongs in length!

I don't really know what that means, but Google says so, so it must be true.

Click through for Facebook gallery

At the City & County building, I was coraled into a photo with the Bike Depot crew. I'm the bearded, leaning one towering in the foreground like some kind of neon yellow discount Christmas tree.

City & County Bldg, courtesy of @ubiquity

If you haven't seen the City & County building, you're missing an impressive display of complete disregard for holiday deference. It's a Christmas building. And not just a secular Christmas building, but a Christ is born Christmas building. That's Santa's barely visible sleigh on the roof, complete with reindeer. That's a nativity scene to the right of the stairs. And that's a workshop full of elves to the left.


At this point in the ride, my feet had joined Scott's nose in Can't Feel Ya Land. Fortunately we hurried up 16th Ave to the Snug, where I spent only enough time to warm up over a few beers before returning home, where various mammals awaited their dinner.

And after that, the shortest day/longest night of 2010 was over. Here's to having some daylight in the AM and PM during which to ride!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fixing of a Prejudiced Light

The city has been constructin' along E 25th Ave, tearing a thin stripe up out of the middle of the road and then putting it back down again. Looks terribly important and productive..

What I've noticed has happened now, though, is that the light on 25th at Downing now recognizes bicycles! (Sort of.) That intersection is on what my map calls a “neighborhood bike route,” and the light used to not change for bicycles. It was a light on my PABST! (Prejudice And Bias Suck: Totally!) list with a "red" or "High Priority" rating. It's a high priority to have traffic signals on city designated bike routes recognize bicycles. That's obvious, right?

So I would reluctantly, but out of necessity, run the red light there at least once a day during my commute.

But, now! Suddenly I notice that twice it turned green for me! Neither time was there any motor traffic to trigger it. After a few more similar encounters, it became clear that the light is now on a timed cycle. (I watched it keenly from several blocks away as it cycled for no traffic of any kind.) I had hoped that maybe the intersection had been modified to recognize and change for bicycles, but I know that was wishful thinking. I'm unaware of any intersection in Denver that does that. But that is not to say that I don't consider this a victory because I most certainly do.

The change has me abuzz with curiosity. Was this a “one shot” kind of thing, an isolated adjustment unique to that intersection and unlikely to occur elsewhere along other bike routes? Or, and this is what I hope for because this would be really stinking cool, is the city adjusting traffic controls along bike routes to actually recognize—or at least periodically assume the presence of—bikes? ‘cause that’d be awesome.

In any case, I’m stoked about this change at this intersection. One less light I have to run!

Yay, safety.

Good ridin's!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter solstice ride

Bike Denver just announced its Winter Solstice Ride!

I have a bit of a history with this ride.

Rather, I would have a bit of a history had I ever actually gotten to participate in it.

Two years ago

2008 was my first attempt at doing the solstice ride. It was spectacularly cold. The average number of degrees during that day was 13. And then, after that, the sun went down.

I put on four or five shirts, two or three pairs of pants, numerous other accessories, and struck out into the cold. It was about six miles from where I was living in the Highlands to City Park, from where the ride was leaving, and it took me about thirty minutes to cover the distance.

On the way, the laces of my boot got sucked into my cranks and almost threw me off my bike. I executed an emergency stop in the middle of 15th Street, numbed my hands after removing my gloves in order to gain the dexterity needed to untangle myself, and then continued on my way. After, that is, tucking those laces oh so carefully down into the collar of my boot.

I got to the park and to the fountain, where the ride was supposed to begin, only to find ... nothing. I couldn't see any person in any direction. I circled around the park thinking maybe they meant the statue instead of the fountain.

Along the way, I bumped into another cyclist who had also showed up for the ride only to find a lack thereof. He had just moved to Denver from somewhere in Alaska, and seemed comfortable in the cold.

We puttered around the park for a short while longer, and then parted ways, and I returned home, having never spotted the peloton.

Last year

We had moved across town by the time 2009's winter solstice came around. I was mere blocks from City Park instead of miles from it. And it was much warmer. The average temperature that day was 44 degrees! That's 31 more degrees!

I arrived at the fountain in plenty of time. The crowd was still gathering after I got there, so I mingled and gawked and chatted up some other riders. We all climbed up on the edge of the fountain and had our picture taken, shortly after which we started to roll out.

It was at this time I noticed my rear tire was flat. All the way, rim-on-the-ground flat. I considered patching the tube and then playing catch-up, meeting up with the group at some later point in the ride, but there weren't any scheduled stops and I realized I wasn't interested in rolling around Denver by myself searching for a couple dozen people on bikes.

I watched the last of the group roll off, and I pushed my bike home.

This year

This year, my work schedule conflicts with the ride. I was about to resign myself to the fact that I just wasn't going to go and that it was going to be yet another year of not participating, when my Partner and Co-Pilot pointed out to me that my thing is trying and then failing to go on the ride. Not failing to go for a lack of showing up.

And she's right. So if I'm going to fail yet again to go on the winter solstice ride, it will only be after making a valid effort to succeed.

I'm going to arrange to get off early. I'm going to execute a thorough pre-ride checklist to avoid flats and whatevers. And I am going to go on the damn solstice ride this year.

I want you to imagine I said that last part out loud and that I said it with all the determination that Darnielle does in This Year.


Yesterday, IKEA gave each one of its 12,400 US employees a new bicycle!

Pretty awesome. And a little bit funny when you remember this past June when the Brooklyn location resisted a bike lane going in by their store.

IKEA dubbed the event the "big reveal," describing how "the truck doors will open, bicycles will be unloaded," and they'll all come unassembled, in flat boxes. But they'll include a small hex wrench for putting them all together!

I wonder how long it will be before the first IKEA bike shows up for sale on craigslist or eBay. Because some of those +12k employees already gots bikes!