Saturday, May 25, 2013


When commuting to and from work on a bike, I get over 120 minutes of exercise per day. Advantage Bike.

Riding a bike to work provides a distraction, allowing me to mentally prepare for the work day ahead, as well as detach and unwind on the way home. Advantage Bike.

Riding a bike to work keeps my body’s chemistry in balance. Advantage Bike.

Riding a bike to work at a brisk pace can boost your immune system. Advantage Bike.

Riding a bike to work at a brisk pace can increase your lung capacity and heart function. Advantage Bike. 

Riding a bike to work at a brisk pace can increase your endurance. Advantage Bike.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013


This map illustrates about the first half of my bicycle commute route to work. A more detailed map can be found in the May 4, 2013 post titled, MY CURRENT COMMUTE ROUTE.

I first rode to work on this route in 2009. Traffic in the morning is nearly non-existent from Georgetown to Round Rock, but the ride home on the east side of the highway is extremely dangerous. TxDOT shot down my proposal to designate the right lane of these frontage roads as bike lanes for specific time frames in the morning and afternoon hours. Their position after a "careful review of my proposal" is that it is not feasible to reduce vehicle capacity during "peak hour" when traffic volume is the highest. This is true in the afternoon when riding home on the east side of the highway, but when riding to work in the morning, between Inner Space Caverns and Rudy's, I am passed by just a handful of cars and trucks...not enough to occupy two lanes, not even during "peak hour".

TxDOT has also stated there are no plans to widen the frontage roads between Georgetown and Round Rock. After my own careful review, what does makes sense is a hike & bike trail that follows the southbound frontage road connecting Rockmoor Drive in Georgetown and the northern-most point of Chisholm Trail Road in Round Rock. I understand there are underground utilities to address, but I'm not suggesting we dig the Panama Canal. It's a hike & bike trail.

If you live in Round Rock, imagine riding your bike to Georgetown...on the west side of the highway. You could visit the caverns without ever starting your car. If you are visiting the caverns, imagine unloading your bikes and riding to Round Rock for some Rudy's BBQ, then returning to the caverns without having to cross over the highway. Imagine living in Georgetown or Round Rock and riding your bike to work on a separate route, away from multi-ton vehicles, without the fear of getting bumped into a ditch or hit from behind by a texting motorist.

Georgetown and Round Rock could work together to connect these two communities by bike. My proposal to TxDOT may have been naive, and the hike & bike trail idea could be totally unrealistic, but we'll never know until someone puts it out there.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


For all of you Surly 1x1 die hards out there, this one's for you. Keep in mind this is based on actual events but I am not a frame builder. That part is pure fiction.

Title: The One

As a frame builder I’ve ridden a multitude of bikes. When I first started out, the process began by frequenting the local police auctions for the best finds. With a fifty dollar budget, my goal was to bring home at least two bikes per auction. Complete or not was the least of my concerns. My interest was in the frame. Dings, dents and cracks never deterred my enthusiasm. These imperfections were not only expected, but appreciated. If I could bring an old frame back to life as a useful means of transportation, then I could probably apply that knowledge to frame building.

With so many fixed gear and single-speeds out there, I thought I would tap into my BMX roots when building my first frame. I’m obviously much bigger now so it would have to at least accept a 26” wheel and tire setup. I wanted it to be bullet proof and if fitted properly to the rider, perform adequately as a bare-bones commuter; a single-speed but not necessarily single-minded.

Unlike the majority of my frames, this one would be TIG welded. Trusting my homemade jigs, I put this one together pretty quickly, measuring once then eyeballing just once more. My goal was to get the first one on the road as quickly as possible. Number two would be a slow burn.

Unfortunately at the time, I didn’t have a whole lot of cash for new parts. Everything had to be sourced from whatever was within arm’s reach. 26” wheels and tires was a given. An old BMX cruiser bar and a hard plastic saddle from 1981 would have to do. I was just 11 when we met. My main concern was the chain ring. The only option was a 52t ring off a 1979 touring rig. I’ll make it work. That’s what torches are for.

With the bike as complete as it could be, it’s maiden voyage would follow my old commute route. To my delight, the Saturday morning traffic was extremely light, almost non-existent. Turning right at the first stop sign, my route carried me past the caverns. Seven dollar tours, seven days a week. Not too bad. Turning left after the second stop sign, I entered the highway overpass. Approaching the next intersection, a roadie blew through the stop sign. Four-spoke carbon wheels, aero helmet, the whole nine yards. I took a deep breath and made a decision to give chase. It wasn’t really a decision…more like raw animal instinct.

Starting from zero with the big ring, at least three other cyclists passed me. They were probably having a good laugh, but had no idea who they were dealing with. A fixed rider for the past three years, I was just warming up. With my cargo shorts, store-brand walking shoes and hoodie, I was somehow gaining ground. Getting closer and closer to the last rider’s back tire, they spread out as if to block me, not realizing they were actually allowing me to draft behind them. My experience in the saddle would pay off this day.

As each rider began to fade, they made a sloppy effort to reorganize. With a mere split second to react, I dropped the hammer. Feeling the bars roll back in the stem a little, this only made me feel stronger. Even with the chain ring ticking the stay, it didn’t stop me from looking to my right, planting my chin into my shoulder and grinning as I overtook them, one…by…one. I was convinced. This 26er was everything I wanted it to be; bullet proof and bare-bones; a single-speed but not necessarily single-minded.


Last year I picked up a brochure for a series of adventure bikes. The photography was great but there was hardly any text describing these bikes. This inspired me to write a short piece that I thought would be right at home inside a brochure created specifically for the adventure biking crowd. It's about an overly descriptive cycling columnist who writes from the comfort of his log cabin. I'm a Minnesota native who rides a mountain bike to work so this one was easy to dream up. I hope you like it.

Title: Touching Intangibles

No snow this year, but looking out the window on this, the last day of the year, there’s a heavy drizzle stirring about. Not a single star is visible as I try in vain to peer past my overgrown right brow.

Sitting at my desk, squinting to push back the persistent beacon of pixels, it occurs to me that my optimal writing time is between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM. No distractions. No sound other than the clicking of molded plastic against molded plastic and the subtle whir of the computer’s fan. If I stop and listen for it, I’ll allow myself to endure the monotonous ticking of our ‘AA’ powered clock hanging in the dining room. No tock. Just, tick, tick, tick. Thankfully it fades within seconds of returning to the glow, replaced by the random crackles of war echoing in the fireplace.

While writing, I‘m also partial to my wool sweater. Not only does it match my salt and pepper mug, it makes me feel like a writer. Whether I’m being paid to do this or not, it doesn’t matter. I fully embrace dressing the part. Writing in the dark, wrapped in wool and solitude, I’ve found my time and place in this world. The extra pound of fabric suits me, especially when seated with no requirement to support the added heft.

As bright as this screen is, the fat rubber and cold steel leaning against the davenport never fails to occupy my periphery. It’s too late to ride, or too early, depending on whether you’re a half full or half empty type of person. Admittedly I’m a half empty type. Technically I’ve not ridden at all today. Maybe I’m a half full type after all.

Within minutes I will find myself shuffling across these wooden floors; dusty and drafty, creaking beneath my 200-pound frame, forcing nails up, then down again. The soles of my slippers soften the blow as they wrestle with the grit and uneven planks. It’s a small trek, but a worthy commute. The half empty side of me notices my lights are too dim to ride at this hour, while the half full side of me finds the moon beams more than enough to light my way. I’ll take my chances.

Forty degrees is not only child’s play in a wool sweater, it’s down right refreshing. Breaching the threshold, the initial blast takes me by surprise. Wind chill is a funny thing. As the door closes behind me, it bumps the rear tire, forcing the chain against my left calf. Decades on a bike and I still make silly mistakes like that. I can’t help but think that if there was snow, I might have reduced the PSI for more float and avoided yet another chain-whipped boot leg.

Clumsy as I may be, I enter the trail from my driveway and head towards the spill way. Within minutes, the trail darkens, starved of light as the canopy thickens. I turn towards the cabin to see how far I’ve ridden. My vision is blurred. It’s a dull glow. My chin suddenly dives. My beard scratches as the muscles and tendons in the back of my neck snap my head upright. My eyes pop open in unison and to my surprise, I’m seated at my desk, both hands lifeless in my lap, the monitor’s power button is now amber. The clock is still ticking but it’s hidden by blackness. I bump the mouse to see that it’s not too late. Within minutes I will find myself shuffling across these wooden floors.


Recorded in downtown Austin, TX. My 30-second pitch on CNN discussing my job search and using my bike as ad space:

It's not pretty but it was an experience I will never forget. When you watch these interviews from the couch it's easy to criticize and poke fun at people on TV. I'm by no means a TV pro, but I think I can safely claim that appearing on live television in front of millions of viewers has to be a little like sky diving for the first time. The main difference with live TV is there's no parachute to save you.

The Yahoo email address in this video is no longer in was hacked shortly after the interview aired. Any emails I received as a result of this interview were lost. 



This is my current commuting mule as of May 11, 2013. A Schwinn Frontier GS (model year unknown).

Of all the bikes I've used and abused for biking to work, this one has been the most comfortable, durable and useful. The steel frame accommodates front and rear fenders and a rear rack. The panniers were added a few months ago...I'll never ride with a backpack or messenger bag again, especially in the summer. I keep my lunch on the left side and clothing on the right side. Inside each pannier are smaller, zippered compartments which I use for spare tubes and tire tools.

This bike was purchased for $60 at a Georgetown pawn shop. The tall handlebar stem really caught my eye. It's not pretty to look at but it puts me in an upright position, practically eliminating the lower back pain I was experiencing on my previous bike. Commuting to work everyday is not a sprint so aerodynamic tucks really don't apply here. If you plan on riding tomorrow, next week, next month and next year, it's all about comfort and utility. Slow and steady wins this race.

Speaking of comfort and utility, I'm often asked about my tire choice. I understand that a narrow tire with a small contact patch and high PSI may ride faster than a mountain bike tire, but you must consider the geography and physical condition of the route. My route to and from work is covered with blotches of blacktop patches, potholes, railroad tracks, trails, glass and all sorts of road debris. Wider tires with tall knobbies just do a better job of soaking up the bumps and collecting sharp objects without actually puncturing the tube. I've tried solid rubber, Kevlar strips inside the tires, fix-a-flat and combinations of all the above. A wide, knobby tire with a heavy duty tube is simple and inexpensive. If I do get a flat, I change it and move on. It's not right for everyone but it works for me.

At the end of the day, what matters most is that you like your bike. I've heard this so many times but it's true, if you don't like your bike you won't ride it, so ride what you like. Don't feel pressured to ride the latest trend. You are not a trend so why should you ride one?

Saturday, May 4, 2013


This link should take you to my current commute route.


Questions I'm often asked:

Q: What do you do when it rains?
A: Ride.

Q: What about freezing weather?
A: Ride.

Q: What do you do in 100 degree heat?
A: Ride.

Q: How do you deal with the cold?
A: I think of something warm.

Q: How do you deal with the high temperatures?
A: I think of something cold.

Q: What about high winds?
A: Anything over 30 MPH, I'm looking for a ride home. Sometimes the wind direction will change in the middle of the day and I battle it on my ride to work and on the way home.

Q: How long does it take?
A: Between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes depending on wind speed and direction.

Q: How far do you ride?
A: Right around 140 miles per week. The ride to work is entirely on the west side of I-35. It's just under 13 miles. When riding home, I must cross over the highway, then ride north passed my residence, cross over the highway to the west side, then head south to get home. This adds about two miles to the trip home.