Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rail Runner bike straps: the saga continues

The "Bear Trap" buckle mechanism; a real pain to thread. You push down on the part with the little mini-teeth, but it opens just enough to give you a hard time.

The frayed strap end; a real challenge to properly secure your bike.

The whole contraption. Your wheel rests in the cradle and the strap loops through your rims and spokes and meets up with the Bear Trap and, in theory, it is suppose to secure your bike.

But the reality is that bike commuters don't mess with the contraption (which is designed to hold only two (yes, 2) bikes. Here we have four bikes (and we added two more at the next stop).

Bike strap abuse.

Now that you've seen the mess that is bike commuting on the Rail Runner. Imagine these bikes swaying back and forth as the train rumbles down dilapidated tracks. Usually the end bike winds-up sideways or falling down completely, blocking the door way.

Now, imagine the dozens of Rail Runner riders backed up trying to get on and off the train with this mountain of... uh... mountain bikes in the way and your bike commuter frigg'n around with the mess trying to dislodge their war pony before the door slams shut. If your bike is, say, in the back of this mess and you have to get out in a hurry at your stop, good luck. 85% chance that you're not going to make it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Santa Fe Farmer's Market

7:00 a.m and the Market is coming to life!

How can your significant other be upset with you if you bring these home?

My father becomes sad when he sees sunflowers; childhood memories that boarding school was right around the corner.

The accordion reminded me of the Tiger Lillies.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Breaking down: pannier saga continues…

So, a few posts ago I revealed my cheapness and creativity in one swoop with the purchase of a Sunlite rear rack for the Red Shark (aka: 2003 Kona Hahanna) and two strap gizmos for a total price of $30 bucks (and using my tricked out Timbuk2 messenger bag). Like all great ideas, this one ended up sucking a little more than usual.

First there was the constant frigg’n around with the straps trying to tie the bag to the rack. Then there was the wobbly bag itself; rolling this way and that way while riding. The final straw, however, was that it looked like a home made camper- in other words, pretty low budget.

So, based on my vanity and on this experience I decided to break down and buy real bike bags. Still being the low budget money grub that I am, I shopped around and came up with the Avenir Metro Pannier for $39 dollars (I still think I paid too much)

But, dang, these bags are awesome! I rode them this morning for the first time and I must say the Avenir Metro Pannier is just the right size. Not too big, not too small. However, they make the Red Shark feel like a lumbering C141 with full load and filled tanks; which is very heavy. You’re not going to put one gallon milk jugs in there (maybe if you buy two half gallon milk jugs and stand them side by side in one of the larger compartments, and on the other side three large boxes of Fruitloops. The little side, side bags are big enough for snacks, my trusty mini-hand pump, and tools. Look, you’re not going to fit a 15 inch laptop in there, so don’t try (and if you do you’ll probably be buying a new one from all the banging around and stuff when you ride to home/work … there goes that new bike you’ve been eyeing all summer long).

I can’t quiet explain the way a bike handles with panniers. You’re not leaning into curves, you’re taking your time, and you feel the added weight when pedaling. In comparison to music listening, you’re jamming to Barry Manilow instead of AC/DC. And you get the distinct feeling that people are pointing at your bags and making fun. Children are saying, “Look mommy, that man’s bicycle is going to have little baby bikes soon.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Riding to El Pinto

“Riding to El Pinto.” Sounds like a good western movie eh? Unfortunately it’s not – it was my ride last evening to a great New Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque’s not so great north-north valley for dinner with pals.

I’d never ridden in the north valley before and was looking forward to the new experience. For example, when you start noticing used syringes on the sides of roads and broken beer bottles, you know the neighborhood will get interesting. And 4th Street was interesting.

One young homeless dude without a shirt and dirty ratty jeans and no shoes and one gallon water jug (what is it with these water jugs and zombied out homeless guys? I see this combo more and more) started jumping up and down and shouting at me from across the street, “Hey man! Hey man! That’s a niiiiice Kona man! Better keep an eye on it bro!” I was actually keeping an eye on my bike computer to see how fast I was getting out of there.

I rolled by a trailer park access road and one young thug in a bombed out Dodge Neon shouted through a rolled down tinted window, “You crazy mother******!” Ah yes, to be called crazy by a local crazy was an honor - I finally made my street bones.

At El Pinto we ate, drank, and made merriment with stories and laughter. Time passed and the beer was served in too small glasses. Soon, it was dark and I gritted at the thought of my ride home through the north valley. Fortunately, I was saved by a ride home and subsequently lost my street cred; he took it:

Friday, August 14, 2009


I’ve learned I’m cheap.

Bike commuting has taught me some pretty interesting things. Last night while riding the train back home I struck up a conversation with a fellow 505 bike commuter, a real nice guy. By the end of our conversation we were both united in our cheap struggle to save money for biking gear. It was Us vs. Bike Gear Companies and Bike Shops.

Take for example glasses marketed for bicyclists at a popular online bike shop:

Performance Vector Multi-Lens Eyewear

$49.99, on sale for $29.99


Glasses at a popular online hardware store:

Not on sale for $8.88

We talked about all kinds of ways that we save money on gear. There's the safety vest he bought at a safety uniform store for less than $18 bucks. There’s the chainsaw oil by the gallon for $8.95 (a real money saver when you consider a few ounces of bicycle chain-lube costs like $8 dineros.

Look around for the savings and don't settle for the over priced stuff they sell at most bike shops... other wise you're not using your head, even if like you're a millionaire (in that case you're really, really not using your head).