Thursday, May 3, 2012

Back in Action

Sorry once again for the lack of updates, my three or four regular readers. I'm still riding to work every single day, and still riding most other places too. Still as committed as ever. Just... not talking about it. I think that maybe it's because cycling has moved to being such a normal, everyday part of my life that I don't talk about it, any more than, say, a blog on eating food. Although, wait, those do exist. Damn hipsters.

BUT ANYWAY, I am pleased to report that my vintage Raleigh Sports is back in service! A few months ago, I came out of my last day of work at my former job to find that my rear wheel was flat. This is the wheel that is really hard to remove due to the internal hub, and I had a new job to get to, and the hybrid was sitting right there, looking pretty unsexy but oh-so-practical. And then even once I changed the tube, I couldn't get the rear wheel back on correctly. The Sports isn't practical for winter anyway, because it doesn't yet have lights (though I hope it will soon... hint, hint).

But now that it's light for my entire commute home, I knew I'd want to ride it every damn day. So I took it down to Baltimore Bicycle Works and gave it a full treatment: tune-up, cog change so it's easier to climb hills (was 17 teeth, now 20), and new brakes. Before, I had to partially use my feet to skid to a stop, like a fixie rider. Although it was even dumber because this bike weighs like 35 pounds and was hard to stop. It's working probably as well as it did when it first rolled off an English assembly line in 1973, and I actually think it's a better hill-climber than my hybrid now. The steel frame definitely makes it a smoother ride on Baltimore's interestingly-textured streets. Still not sure if I'm going to put a rack on it, since I have the hybrid for my epic weekly 50-pound grocery hauls. But it will be my daily commuter until it gets dark out again at least.

Here's the Sports at one of the stops on last Friday's Baltimore Bike Party (formerly Critical Mass) ride:

Holy crap, that's blue.

That's Northern Parkway in the background, and I feel I should report that I rode on it for a whole minute almost, and it was kind of a surreal experience. Certainly not anything I'd do without fifty other cyclists around me, but if they're there, then it can be fun, and a good preview of the kind of riding we'll all be doing post-peak oil. I've done four group rides now, and each time I come away feeling so much positive energy (to sound like a damn hippie) and hope for the future of transportation cycling. Although, the fact that our ride also has sweet tunes is all for the better:

In the dark he put on lights that made it look like a disco ball, and as a side benefit, made it easier to find the group if you fell behind. Which I did a lot, because I'm not used to cycling fifteen miles at a stretch. One thing that I love about the group rides I've done is that they're incredibly low-pressure. You don't need to be a racer to join and sometimes even I was able to get closer to the front. I do wish the Baltimore rides had more diversity (both age-wise and race-wise), but there were a lot of other lady riders. I'd guess maybe a third of the riders this time were women, and while I don't know how that compares to other group rides in other cities, nationwide the gender split for transportation cycling is like 80%/20% men/women. I feel like I've seen a higher percentage of women cyclists in Baltimore, although it could just be that I notice them more.

So to get back to the main point of this post, my vintage bike is working again, and I'm pretty excited about that. Now, off to ride!

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