Bicycles be moving

Some big news…my wife and I bought a house!

Yay for us. I’m excited to be a home owner but you know what I wasn’t excited about? The move. I’ve moved once a year since 2015 and folks it never gets any better. 

And this time was no exception…it totally sucked! There was one highlight though and that was moving my recliner. Instead of throwing it in the back of a truck I strapped it to my cargo bike. I wasn’t entire sure I’d survive the trip so I wrangled a spotter, Adam the bike shop manager. 

While Adam might look like he’s doing a permanent impression of Grumpy Cat (RIP) he’s actually a pretty nice guy. He mapped out our route and helped me proper secure the load. 

The ride itself wasn’t as terrible as I expected but that’s not to say it was easy. Sixteenth street in particular was rather brutal but I still chewed it up despite riding an preposterously heavy bike. My cargo bike rides surprisingly well when loaded down, and honestly my biggest fear was the chair falling off and being smashed a la George Costanza’s Frogger cabinet. It never happened though and the chair is now safely entombed in my basement. 

Postscript: Recently I acquired a window AC unit. Deciding I needed a challenge I moved that on the bike as well. Adam was convinced I might die but I proved him wrong. With that being said it was much more miserable moving that than the chair. 

Winter Riding tips from Zane

Hey all this is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while. It isn’t so much I haven’t had the time it’s more that the moment didn’t seem right. Well my friends the time has come. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this previously but I commute by bike nearly everyday. Well I imagine most of you noticed that lately it has been, to quote Outkast, cooler than a polar bear’s toenail. Not cold enough to stop me though! While I wish I could tell you it’s because I’m tougher than a $2 steak but that’s not the case. Simple fact of the matter is I dress for it. Clothes are key my friends and I’m here to share some tips. The trick to riding in frigid climes is staying warm (obviously) but more importantly dry. Before we get into the details here’s a fact I cannot stress enough…you don’t need to take out a second mortgage and outfit yourself with overpriced Bontrager stuff. You probably have most of what you need lying around the house. 

Two things I can not recommend enough for arctic rides are a balaclava and ski goggles. A wool hat is nice as well but you might have trouble fitting one under your helmet. Also a balaclava covers your face and can be worn a number of ways making it a very versatile garment. The one I have is made out of windproof material and let me tell you my ears and face are happy for it. Ski goggles don’t do much to keep you warm but if you’re like me you’ll want to keep the wind out of your eyes. I’ve got wimpy sensitive peepers that tear up something fierce when it’s blustery leaving me nearly blind. Goggles are also pretty cheap. I think I picked my pair up for around $7. Now as far as the lower body is concerned long pants are a must. Sometimes I throw on a base layer such as long underwear or running tights. Personally, I’m not overly concerned with my legs because they are going to stay warm from pedaling. However, if it’s wet or especially cold I’ll double up and throw a pair of weather proof pants as well. Keeping your torso nice and toasty is pretty easy. Lately I’ve been wearing a sweatshirt or sweater under a light down jacket. I like the down jacket because its lightweight and pliable. However if its chilly but not brutal (around 30 degrees let’s say) you might be able to get away wearing a sweatshirt or sweater under a windbreaker. You might be surprised how warm you’ll be when you’re pedaling and the wind isn’t cutting through your top.

Last but not least the feet and hands. I’m a dweeb who likes to clip in and I have some fancy booties that cover the toes of my shoes. However on rare occasion I wear tennis shoes and a pair (or two) of wool socks. I know some people who wear boots which seems rather cumbersome but to each their own. Now I know earlier I said you can wear stuff you have lying around the house, and while that’s true I do have some fancy schmancy Pearl Izumi lobster mittens. They are super warm. My hands are usually melting if I wear them if the temperature is above freezing. Leather mittens work in a pinch (get it? Lobster. Pinch.) though. I recommend mittens over gloves because mittens pool the warmth of your fingers.

Follow my advice and you to can be a cold warrior. While I ride to work because I genuinely enjoy spending time on my bike (and because I’m too cheap to pay for parking everyday) the added perk of people in my office building thinking I possess grit and resolve is an added bonus.

Our Bikes (part two)

Adam, the dude who rules the Community Bike Project with an iron fist, asked us volunteers to write about our bikes. I’ve given it a lot of thought and have come the conclusion he’s on to something there.
Unlike most of the volunteers at the shop I don’t have many bikes. I only have two (well two and a half if you count a unicycle). However, one of mine is pretty unique and might be the only one of its kind in Omaha if not all of Nebraska. My ride is a Bullitt Cargo and it you’re wondering what a cargo bike is it’s a bike designed to haul freight. Mine is front loaded which means it has an elongated front wheelbase and a platform where the aforementioned freight goes.

I had never heard of a cargo bike until a few years ago when a friend of mind was talking about people racing them. My curiosity got the best of me so I looked them up and my first thought about seeing one was that’s pretty dumb. However, over time my thinking began to shift and eventually my disdain gave way to a desire to own one. I bought mine right before I moved to Omaha and since space in the moving truck was at a premium and a fully built bike was expensive as hell I just bought a frame (the good folks at the bike project helped me part it out and I was soon on the road after moving here).

Anyways, the thing is pretty rad and very practical. Its like the bike equivalent of a station wagon! I was commuting on it for a while and that was pretty fun. My boss lets me park in the office and the first time I did I was pretty worried I was taking advantage of his generosity since the thing has an 8’ wheel base. Lately I’ve been using it primarily as a grocery getter. I throw a cooler and the front and I’m good to go.

Is that all I’ve hauled? You know it isn’t! I took a book shelf home on it one day, and I’ve also given my wife and our precious kitty cat rides.
I’m not going to do a deep breakdown on parts because honestly that’s not my forte but there are a few things I’d like to highlight. It’s geared to be an eight speed which is plenty of range. Even unloaded this thing weighs a ton (54 pounds!) and going up hills separates the men from the boys. I’ve also got a sweet removable box on the front I fill with stuff. Lastly, there’s the air horn because why ring a bell when you can deafen someone?
If you haven’t figured it out by now it’s a pretty sweet bike. Practical, fun to ride, and starts a lot of conversations. More often than not it’s parked in front of the shop Saturday afternoons so stop by and take a peek.

Biking the new year

Well bike peeps it’s  new year.

Did any of you get any cool bike toys for Xmas, Hanukkah, or another holiday associated with gift giving I didn’t mention? I got my brother-in-law the best cycling accessory of all time. Of course I’m speaking of an air horn. Don’t think you need one? I regret to inform you that you’re VERY wrong. There’s nothing more satisfying than tooting at motorists who wrong you or announcing you’ve arrived at your destination to anyone in a several block radius.

Relaxing, isn’t it?

Any of you reading this have any cycling New Year’s resolutions? I’d say I’m going to resolve not to get hit by another car but that’s probably an evergreen resolution so it really doesn’t count. If I had to pick a resolution that wasn’t a cop out it would have to be learning to ride a unicycle. Laugh if you want but it’s all part of my plan for long term success in life. Think about it…should I get fired or give up my office job in the middle of an inevitable midlife crisis I could transition effortlessly into a career performing at birthday parties. People are constantly being born and having birthdays folks. It is a recession proof industry!

Anyways, I’m excited about 2019. It’s another year to hang out at the shop and work on bikes (and unicycles!) In the immortal words of famed lyricist Fred Durst keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’.

The rundown

PART 1:
Hey everybody Zane here. I’ve got a couple of cycling stories that I hope teach you some valuable lessons.
A few weeks back your hero (that’s me) was headed to the YMCA to chase gains. I was huffing and puffing pedaling down Harney when I felt something smack me in the back.
“What in tarnation?!?” I thought to myself. It took me a second to realize I had been hit by a car.
Now I got off lucky. The mirror on this car was collapsible and folded the moment it made impact. Had that not happened or I had been clipped by the bumper I probably would have been splattered like George Costanza’s Frogger cabinet.
I try to be a conscientious cyclist and ride as close to the curb as possible but this guy was way too close. However I was in the wrong and you know why? Because I wasn’t wearing a helmet and that is dumb. DUMB DUMB DUMB!
The lesson I want to impart is that safety is key. I don’t care if you’re Baron Karl Von Draise and you invented the bicycle you gotta be safe when you hit the street. At a minimum you should be wearing a helmet and have lights on your bike. Also, be aware of your surroundings because motorists in general have nothing but contempt for cyclists.
PART 2:
Now for a nice story about cycling. One day I was headed home after work and ahead of me there was a car backing out of a parking space. This made me pretty upset because this motorist wasn’t paying attention to their surroundings. However, as I got closer they stopped and I was able to maneuver around them.
About half a block later I was approaching a red light. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the same car approaching from behind with the driver’s side was down. This may be a tad dramatic but the scene was reminiscent of how the Notorious BIG went out. Regardless my hackles were raised as I have had unpleasant encounters with motorists in the past (re: my previous story).
Well wouldn’t you know it but when this guy caught up to me he apologized. What a pleasant surprise!

Introduction to the bike project

My name is Zane and I volunteer at Community Bike Project Omaha. I recently moved to Omaha from the East Coast because I got a cool job that brought me back to my Midwestern roots. I didn’t really know anyone when I got here but I started coming by the bike project and I just want to tell any of the uninitiated who might happen to be reading this about how rad the place is.
If I were to say it’s the coolest place in town some might scoff. They might say “Zane, you’ve only been here for about 10 minutes how can you possibly say that?” I’d probably reply that’s a fair point but one thing I do know is that it’s definitely cooler than the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian bridge and that’s saying something!
I’m getting off topic so allow me to regroup. Aside from crippling loneliness and overwhelming boredom a big reason I sought out the bike shop was to learn more about bicycles and their mysterious workings. I’ve been riding for a long time but am a big dumb-dumb when it comes to repair and maintenance. Admitting you don’t know something can be a bit embarrassing and/or intimidating. When I got to the shop I wholly expected to be laughed out of the place because of some of the questions I asked (What do the wheels do again?) but it didn’t happen. Everyone working there was really cool and to call them knowledgeable would be a criminal understatement. Adam the shop manager is a quasi-mystical bike guru, and Jacob, another volunteer has more bikes than chin whiskers. These guys know their stuff.
Still reading? I hope so because I want to talk about the best thing about the shop. The best part about the shop is right in the name. Community. The shop is for anyone and there are some really cool programs for kids. That’s right, much like Wu-Tang the bike project is for the children. Ankle biters and adolescents alike can be enrolled in classes that teach them about bicycle safety and maintenance. Kids can even earn their own bike.
In conclusion a visit to the bike project is definitely worth the…Trek. They offer a lot of…Specialized…service and…Raleigh…want to get you riding. Not paying a visit would be a…Giant…mistake.