Monday, December 18, 2006
I guess commuting will now throw a new challenge at me; will I be able to find the daily motivation to haul my spandex clad ass through traffic while my fingers are freezing of?
So far it seems like I can handle it but then there hasn’t been any snow yet so I don’t want to get too optimistic yet, but it seems like I can keep warm in sub zero conditions (if I get a pair of real winter gloves).
I replaced my front brake pads as well over the weekend, it seems like I wear down at least two pairs of brake pads over a month that’s like 4 pads per 600 km. Those pads go at 10 Euros a pair so that makes these winter months extra expensive.
The genius colleagues think I’m crazy to pay 10 Euros for a set of brake pads but then again these Einsteins believe that you can buy a serious bike for 200 Euros. Honestly if I don’t buy brakes it will be even cheaper but you see I’m a bit odd like that; I'd rather be able to stop before I get under a car, and 10 Euros is a small price I’m very happy to pay.
But then again what do they know a bout riding a bicycle, for them riding a bicycle in the city sounds as odd as wrestling bunch of starving alligators. Actually by moments it feels like I’d rather wrestle an alligator or two; a lot of car drivers are still completely unaware of your presence despite the fact that the number of bikes are on the rise in the city.
The truck driver who opened his door on me this morning looked pretty shocked when I yelled at him. I did not call him names I just signaled that he should be aware of other people on the street. That is the main reason I haven’t been posting so often lately; it seem like I could write at least 3 posts a day complaining about stupid reckless driving and antisocial 4x4 but tat gets all a bit boring in the end.
Let’s see what winter brings perhaps I can get into some snow fight with some drivers who knows; temperatures start to go in the right direction anyway.
Monday, December 04, 2006
So what does this black belt mean? It basically means that I proved to grasp the basics of a martial arts system. Nothing more nothing less, black belts are not that glamorous, it’s really just another step in this never ending journey in mastering some martial art skill. Have I developed some awesome new skill? No, I can not fly nor vanish in thin air; honking your horn like a mad cow does not make me disappear, nor can I read your mind; It is really mandatory to use indicators before you cut my lane in order to park your car.
No fancy tricks then? well yes, but I can only show you those after you get out of your car after you tried to run me over on the roundabout or cut my priority because you can’t be arsed to wait like all the other cars in the traffic jam.
You see nothing has changed, I still ride my bike and traffic just gets worse, makes me wish I had a black belt bike riding. Or even better, I wish the car drivers all had a black belt driving, ‘cause a driver’s license is clearly no guarantee that you have grasped the basic skills to drive a car.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I you ever wondered what we’re carrying around like that, here’s my list;
- A set of dry cycling shorts + a pair of long cycling leggings (shorts are not warm enough in the winter) if I have no dry clothes left for the ride home in the evening.
- A pair of gloves, and a warm hat that I can wear under my helmet. One needs to keep ears and hands warm when temperatures drop.
- My clothes to wear in the office. I know that the IT crowd has a more easygoing dress code, but I think that cycling jersey and shorts are part of that dress code.
- Bicycle lock (duh)
- Some breakfast (cookie + raisins) cycling on a full stomach is just not ideal for me, especially not that early in the morning
- Wallet + cell phone (with charged batteries!!)
- Spare batteries for the lights
- Last but not least: A spare tube + bicycle tool + pump.
All these items are indispensable for the serious commuter so I keep ‘em all packed in separate plastic bags to make sure it all stays dry. Did I mention a rain jacket?
You might think that I’m exaggerating, but let me tell you a story.
I left work last night and went into the parking garage, clicked computer and lights on the bike unlocked it, put lock in the backpack put on helmet, zipped up jacket and picked up the bike to take of, only to realize that my front tire had gone flat. When I say flat I mean flat as in no air in the tube not as in the tire has gone a bit soft. It’s in moments like these that you’re happy to have a pump in the backpack. Despite knowing better I pulled out the pump and inflated the tire and rode of. Alas only 3 streets further and my front wheel started wobbling due to the deflating tire. So this time I pulled over took out my bike tool and the spare tire, parked the bike, took out the front wheel (quick release are the best thing since sliced bread) lifted the tire of took out the tube, checked the inside of the tire for traces of tube-shredding gutter debris and installed the spare tube. All this while the rain was pouring down, I tell you I never felt further away from home.
And on top of that I got lost in the forest, the singletrack I normally ride was completely covered up by dead leaves. I only realized I was lost when I almost drove into a ditch filled with water, a ditch that surely wasn’t there when I rode the track in the morning. The situation reminded me a bit of The Blair Witch Project; there you are in a pitch black forest and your bike light is your only source of light and all those trees look the same. Anyway by the time I got home I was soaking wet and covered in mud.
What did I learn from this? Always make sure to have a spare tube (you really don't want to repair a flat tube in the pouring rain by the side of the road) your bike tool a good bicycle pump and a serious headlight on your bike, and don’t underestimate the bike gods. This morning I sacrificed an worn out tube and an old pair of cycle shorts in the backyard; the ride into work went flawless.
Friday, November 17, 2006
We’re all digging our own hole anyways; I dig mine you dig yours. If you’re not then you should look around for a shovel, there are more than enough for everyone.
If you want more ranting and raving then you will have to go somewhere else or listen to yourself sometimes.
If you will pardon me now; I have a hole to dig…
Over and out.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Lovely isn’t it; you make those politicians actually go out and watch the movie which they otherwise would never watch and as a result they even ask you to do their job. A bit surreal if you ask me. Mr. Tobback, you can’t fool me; the only reason you gave away your speaking time is because you have nothing sensible to say about the whole subject.
What have you done so far about the pollution problem? You went out and signed a contract to buy clean air for millions of Euros.
That’s probably the easiest solution isn’t it? Buying clean air... sounds more like buying a clean conscience to me. Making the real polluters pay according to the amount for c02 they pump into the atmosphere would make you less popular with your voters, wouldn't it?
People are dumb; the only way they become aware of a problem is if they loose money on it. Make company cars financially unattractive; people will think twice about driving into work if they have to pay for their own fuel. The more you pollute the more you pay, sounds like a fair trade to me.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I would hereby like to apologize to all 4x4 owners for my blatant prejudices that are only based on jealousy. I hate 4x4 so much because I really would like to drive one myself. But poor me can not afford one of these antisocial fuel guzzlers, and therefore I must make up stories in which I depict their drivers as morons of the lowest kind. Once again I'm really really sorry. I so wish I drove a 4x4 myself especially after seeing these wonderful commercials.
I know that cycling into work has done miracles on my physical condition and, yes I have shed a few kilos in the past month and a half, but quite honestly; have I become invisible? We’re talking a 6 feet something guy on a mountain bike, sporting a decoration of blinking led lights that could put a Christmas tree to shame, and despite that I got almost hit by a car last night while crossing the road on a bicycle crossing.
Dear 4x4 driver, sorry let me rephrase that; rabid 4x4 b*tch, do you think that driving a tank that consumes at least 3 times as much fuel as any normal car entitles you to drive like a blind homicidal maniac? Did you find your drivers’ license in a box of breakfast cereal? Did your guide dog not see me or did he forget to bark?
Since when don’t you have to respect pedestrian/bicycle crossings? Is there a law that says that the little girl waiting by the side of the road to cross can wait there forever until someone has the decency to stop traffic so she can cross safely and make it to school in one piece? I can guarantee that her ‘thank you’ made my day, of course the selfish bastards who ignored her would not be able to hear her in their soundproofed cars, but you can’t tell me they did not see her. Do none of these ignorant f*ckers have kids themselves? How would they feel if it was their own daughter standing there?
Ps: My wish list of the day:
The homicidal 4x4 c*nt last night; I wish you and the european carmakers a never ending itch in your crotch and no arms.
The little schoolgirl at the crossing; I wish you a pleasant day at school and more considerate drivers. Stay safe.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Finally, November has reared its ugly head. Last week was cold and crisp, this week started grey and wet. When I walked LL and V to the car it was already drizzling, so ‘brave’ me was already stressing out over the real rain that had to come. It started to rain for real by the time I dropped of the car to pick up my bike. By the time I was riding through the woods it was a solid shower. But the sight of all the cars stuck in gridlocked traffic made me smile again; I was soaking wet but at least I was not standing still, hahahaha. Oh for f*ck’s sake who am I fooling; no way that I like rain while cycling, I prefer my morning cold, not wet.
The problem with this fresh rain after a dry period is that all the leaves that already fell of the trees turn into some extra slippery mush which makes the daily commute a bit of a holidays on ice. Luckily most of the trees have been cut down in the city that way we don’t need to pick up leaves and clean blocked gutters. Unfortunately they have been replaced with tram rails, manhole covers and pedestrian crossings.
Now don’t get this twisted I’m all in favor of public transport and safe crossings for pedestrians and I’m no neo-luddite. I’m all in for proper sewage systems. But aforementioned objects of modern civilization turn into hideous deathtraps when it starts raining. I dare you to brake on one of the crossing stripes or make a sharp turn on a steel manhole cover glistering in the morning rain. If you ever rode a bike over a wet tram rail then you know what I’m talking about.
Then you make it to work in one piece only to realize that the heating system is still not turned on in the building. What is the use of air conditioning in November? Trust me; you can not fight global warming by turning up your air conditioning. It’s all lies…
I know what you’re thinking now; you big blouse stop b*tching about the weather after all you chose yourself to ride your bicycle; you could easily take your ‘free’ company car. You know what? You’re right it is my own choice and I’ll live by it. To all the cars stuck in traffic this morning; suck it up and stop honking the horn like that it won’t make the traffic jams disappear and NO you’re not Charlie parker; you don’t have his talent nor his sense for rhythm.
Question: Why did I not choose ‘I don’t like Mondays’ by the Boomtown Rats as a title for this post?
Answer: Because I think that ‘Sir’ Geldof is a sad attention whore who is so desperately trying to get some Nobel Prize for whatever. The same goes for you Bono; paying income taxes is not a crime. Zappa was right; Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar!
Friday, November 10, 2006
The ride home last night was pretty eventful to say the least. I once again got confronted with the sheer stupidity of some cyclists. Riding on a bicycle lane in the woods at night without any lights on your bike makes you a moron of the lowest kind. Mr. I-showed-up-too-late-when-brains-got-distributed can call himself lucky that I have a good light on my bike and a set of brand-new brakes. Stupid idiot.
Anyway the rest of the ride didn't go any better since my rear gears started to act up. It turns out one of the links in my bike chain decided to fall apart in the middle of the woods. Luckily I made it home without it breaking down completely.
So no riding today :-(. I have to get the chain replaced, hopefully this can be fixed before the weekend. No way that I want to miss my bike next week.
It seems like temperatures have finally dropped below zero. Will I chicken out on cycling when it finally starts freezing? Come back next week and find out for yourself. Until then; ride safely and use your bike lights.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I once read or heard this story of this exclusive shoe shop somewhere in
I recently bought me a new pair of insulated waterproof cycling shoes. And I must say that only now after 2 weeks they really start to get comfortable. I really hate to buy new cycling shoes because of all the hassle that comes with attaching the SPD cleats and adjusting them; 2 millimeters to the left or the right can make the difference between a comfy ride and sore knees or a sore back. I’m sure that there are companies out there who would be able to scan me from head to toe and tell me what my ideal seating position should be and under what angle the SPD cleats should be attached to my shoes and everything, but they charge big money for that, money I just spent on the shoes. So poor I had to go through a period of trial and error to get a good fit.
For those of you who don’t have a clue about SPD cleats; it basically is a little strip of steel that gets attached to the sole of your cycling shoe. This cleat does not interfere with your walking; you can still walk with the shoe like with any other shoe. The cleat is designed to click onto the specially designed SPD pedal. The advantage of this system is that your feet are always well positioned on your pedals which eventually results in more effective pedaling. Sounds great no? I think it is but the first time couple of times you go for a cycle tour you will have the scare of your life. First of all you have to fumble around a bit to click onto the pedals and once you are clicked onto the pedals you should remember that your feet are actually fixed onto the pedals. The first couple of times you break to a halt and you want to take one foot of the pedal only to realize that you’re stuck.
The result is you tipping over on your bike like a kid who tries to cycle for the first time without the training wheels; very painful to the knees and the ego.
There were hardly any cars around this morning, very bizarre; it looked a bit like some alien flying saucer had come by to abduct the whole lot. Plan 9 from outer space.
We don’t need the cars any more you can keep ‘em, if you get tired of the noise and pollution then just drop ‘em in some nearby black hole. Would you, on the other hand, be so kind as to return the brain of Ms. Honda who took over this morning and braked like an utter c**nt without using any indicators thus seriously endangering the life of yours truly.
Thank you very much,
Ps: A well meant it’s-okay-to-be-polite-I-don’t-bite goes out to the dear colleagues in the elevator this morning. Cycling into work does not make me invisible does it? If someone wishes you a nice day then you should at least have the decency to reply.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
This winter-time thing what is tat all about hey? a bit confusing if you ask me. I no longer need bicycle lights in the morning when I cycle into work ‘because the sun is already up but I need to keep my rear lights turned on though. That way Ms. I-apply-makeup-while-driving-the-car-for-god-knows-what-reason or Mr. I-have-no-bathroom-in-my-house-so-I-shave-in-the-car will notice me before trying to push me into the trunk of the car in front of them. I guess that’s just wishful thinking; they never notice me ‘cause they’re still waking up or reading the newspaper or watching some DVD or whatever it is they do nowadays in morning traffic to keep themselves occupied while cueing to work.
When you ride home it’s of course already dark, so you better did not leave your bicycle lights at home or you’re f****d. Which brings me to my main gripe with nowadays bicycle lights; most of them are just these tiny blinking battery-operated led lights that you can hang all over your bike. That’s all great and everything but I must insist with my fellow bicycle commuters to respect the colors; WHITE GOES IN THE FRONT RED IN THE BACK. It has happened already two times that I almost drove into another bike because the lady had swapped the front light with the back light. These blinking head lights are pants anyways. What good are they to me when I ride my stretch of single track in the woods at night? It feels like you’re driving around while opening and closing your eyes every other second; now you see tree now you don’t…
Whatever solution you pick please o please if you’re out and about on a bicycle make sure to have appropriate lights installed on your bike and for f’s sake TURN
Ps: The lucky-bastards shout out goes to all those who took over this morning on their bicycles, while I was crawling at 12 km/h into work in my car :-(.
Whereas the spot-the-difference-you-idiot award goes to the numbskull driving his motorcycle on the bicycle lane; WTF are you thinking of?
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The one thing tat I noticed lately is how every car seems to have those big multi color LCD's on the dashboard/windscreen. What is the obsession with GPS nowadays? Why does everybody seem to think it’s impossible to leave house without them? Have we all lost the noble art of map reading? Ok don’t get me wrong I’ve been in situations where L and I wished we had one of these beauties in the car, but please with sugar on top; why do you need that thing turned on in a traffic jam? Do you think that your GPS will ‘beam you up Scotty’ all the way into work? You know where you are; you’re in a bloody traffic jam and it’s going to take you at least another hour before you make it to work!
It could also be that I got it al wrong; that’s not a GPS, it’s a television! Ooh now that would be swell wouldn’t it? cueing into work while watching the BBC breakfast show, or the Kabouter Plop show for the little ones who once again had to get up too early ‘cause mum and dad have to get to work on time.
What happened to listening to the radio? Were the Pebbles right and did video indeed kill the radio star? Well actually... no... radio killed itself once it got taken over by the clear channels and other record companies of this world, but that’s a completely different story.
I think the GPS is just part of the stupid status symbol race. First we thought ourselves better than the neighbor because we had a car then he got a car as well so we got a second car. Then he went out and bought a second car so we got us a 4x4 but nothing changed; we still look as stupid as a bg of hammers burning away 3 times as much diesel as any normal car out there in the traffic jam. And when the sea level will rise we will also get wet feet and the ultra suede upholstery of the Landcrusher will be ruined anyway.
Oh by the way did any of you see this new Shimano XTR system for mountain bikes? Carbon ,titanium and disc brakes, to die for, better shifting and breaking and effing expensive, everybody will be so jealous when I get me one of these...
Ps: The stupid-dunce-what-were-you-thinking award of the day goes to... me. When I arrived at work this morning I realized I rode all the way into work with the top pocket of my backpack wide open, only dumb luck stopped my cell phone from falling out and disintegration in a million pieces of cheap plastic somewhere in the middle of the woods.
Monday, November 06, 2006
So, in all honesty I think they talk a lot of bollocks, sports are not necessarily very healthy but at least you don’t grow a gut in front of your television.
Right know I’m suffering from a sore toe and a cold. But that has nothing to do with sports but all with the weather that has gone a little berserk; one week you have temperatures of up to 22 degrees Celsius in the end of October and the next day temperatures drop to a meager 3 degrees Celsius. What happened to this concept of seasons? To all the politicians; ignoring the climate changes won’t make the problem go away. Sticking your head in the sand only exposes your *** to the industry moguls who happily take you from behind in the name of benefits and turn-over.
All ranting aside I had a great ride into work today, the legs were not too bad and the extra layer of wind stopper (I bet you were thinking of something else) and neoprene is still more than enough to keep me warm in these dropping temperatures.
The mornings are getting colder and traffic jams are getting longer but life is great…
The selfish-idiot-of-the-day award goes the Ms. Clio who thought it necessary to drive thru orange in order to block a whole crossing, instead of holding back like any considerate person would do. What did you win; one measly place in the zombie rat race? Good on you.
And Last but not least; the thank you of the day goes out to Mr. or Ms. Audi for holding back at the bicycle crossing this morning and thus letting me safely cross the road, much obliged.
Friday, October 27, 2006
All right! GRANDMA ALERT!! Get of the road, stay home and watch some telly, or use your bloody bus pass. I pay taxes for you people, now move it. Don’t get a heart attack, and if you do, not here, I’m getting late. Jesus…
Careful sweetie she has a baby seat on her bike…
So what? I’m not the irresponsible one around here. They should lock ‘em away all of them hippies driving around with baby seats on their bicycles. Bloody dangerous, people like them don’t deserve to be parents. And what is the deal with these idiots towing these kids around on these half bikes. What would the cops say if I were to tow you around in another half a car? Would look pretty ridiculous wouldn’t it?
Oooooh… check out the Lycra faggot over there crossing the road, who the fuck he thinks he is? Floyd Landis? All doped up to their eyeballs… check it out I’ll give him the scare of his life hahahaha…
crossing, you got it all wrong; we’re not all retired unemployed tree hugging hippie do-gooders.
Next time you should try to find that little extra courage to get out of your car and actually see for yourself.
Now THAT would be funny.
Ps: Shout out to the friendly scooter driver who stopped to let me cross the road, thank you very much.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Ok that’s a lie, I never seen, heard or smelled napalm in my whole life, not even in the morning. I do like the smell of gasoline though, but I’m not sure that’s the same as the napalm. But I don’t like diesel. That sh** is foul, crude, industrial, ...
Talking about diesel and gasoline; one of the first things I noticed when I started to drive my bike into work was this omnipresent stench of exhaust fumes. If you drive a car you just tend to forget all the pollution in the air, don’t you? Pollution mainly caused by cars. Yeah well, helloooo oooh what did you expect? You can’t blame the cyclists or pedestrians. It would take a whole lot of pedestrians and one hell of a curry to produce the same pollution and noise as your average traffic jam in the city center.
So clever me started to Google around for a solution and came across this dust filters developed especially for cyclists. Unfortunately not a single bike shop I knew sold these filters nor could they tell me where to get one. On a recent city trip to London L and I went into this huge bicycle shop near
Let me tell you this, it’s the most stupid thing I ever bought! First of all, the thing works too well, it only took me three days cycling into work and you could already see how the outside of the filters start to discolor with all the diesel fumes and other pollution. Now two weeks later and the filters are looking grey. Sometimes it’s just better NOT to know what you’re breathing in, ‘cause now I always have to wear that bloody mask. Which brings me to my second gripe; if you are breathing very heavily it can feel like your gasping for air thru a straw. This is not a problem when you’re engaged in some activity that requires no mental or physical effort, like listening to a Paris Hilton CD (ok that causes mental and physical trauma), but it surely sucks when your riding your bike up some technical slope.
So am I not afraid to look stupid with that mask on? Hell no, it just adds up to the whole picture, I’m already cycling around in this skintight bicycle Lycra outfit. It really can’t get any worse, can it? And no, just in case you were wondering; I will NEVER EVER, I repeat; NEVER SHAVE MY LEGS.
It’s not like, driving a car at a mind-boggling speed of 10 km/h while being taken over by some grandma on a bike does make you look any better, so bite me.
Ps: Woohooo I just upped my average speed to 24.3 km/h.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
L asks me from time to time whether my glass is half full or half empty. My glass fell of the table a long time ago and quite honestly most of the times I can't be bothered to pick it up again.
I have opinions just like anybody else and I don't claim they matter more than yours; they're mine that's all... Take it or leave it. True, I'm not known for being the greatest communicator and you can hardly accuse me of being an easygoing diplomat, but at least I try to live by my ideas instead of just sitting around while spitting my venom at the world.
My job provides me with a company car. Woohoo free car! Yeah right, there is no such a thing as a free lunch, and there is definitely no free car...
Every day I would take the car to drive LL and V to school, and then drive another 15 km to work. This sounds all fine and dandy but one should know that yours truly, hates driving a car. It feels like I enter a war zone whenever I have to drive my car into work. Morning traffic is a bloody nightmare, let me rephrase that; traffic is an f****** zombie slug race. Every zombie is cueing his/her car into the city and doesn’t give a rats’ about what goes on outside the car. They’re late for work and traffic is just not moving.
So I came up with this genius solution; let’s just leave earlier. I avoid heavy traffic and most important I arrive at work without any stress over all the other stupid drivers who just make traffic impossible for ME.
Ok, LL and V get dropped of a little earlier in school and we need to get up earlier in the morning but it’s worth it, because… I… have… a… free car, woohoo! The problem is that all the other geniuses out there had the exact same idea. Result; I got up even earlier so I could stress even more so I could start cueing even earlier into work…
To cut a long story short, one month ago, I decided to give up on the car and to cycle into work. I still use the car to drive LL and V to school but that’s it, no more cueing for this genius. I get to work in 40 minutes, whereas if I were to do the same distance by car it could take me easily up 1 hour and a half. In this blog, I will try to post some observations on my life as a bicycle commuter. Interesting? You judge, I rant and rave...