Tuesday, November 21, 2006


As a bicycle commuter you have to bring whatever you need with you on your bike. If you bike comes with a luggage rack then you can attach some saddle bags which can hold a lot of stuff but most commuters go for the classic backpack.
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

Dig your own hole.

There is nothing like a ride in the woods in the morning. There’s only you, the trees and your bike. It makes you think a bit about yourself, this is the place where I might come up with some idea for another rant or rave. Talking about ranting it seems like I do that a lot; ranting and raving, kicking and screaming, and no one cares; which is only understandable. It’s always easier to see the faults and mistakes of the others than your own. And all this raving of mine only triggers some more self-fulfilling prophecies. And I don’t feel like doing that anymore.
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

Fair trade.

This is a lovely David vs. Goliath story; a Flemish housewife mobilizes Belgian politicians to go out and watch Al Gores latest movie. The result is that she gets an invitation to go to the climate conference in Nairobi. Environment Minister Bruno Tobback even decides to give away his speaking time at the conference to Margaretha Guidone.

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'm sorry, so sorry...

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?

I’m out.

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

Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar!

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

You are the weakest link.

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

These boots are made for walking...

I once read or heard this story of this exclusive shoe shop somewhere in Great Britain that would sell shoes made to measure. This is nothing exceptional you might say but on top of that they offer(ed) a service whereby someone of the staff would walk in your shoes for a couple of days so they would be more comfortable when you received ‘em. This might be an urban legend, just like baked beans and kippers for breakfast, but it still sounds like a good idea. The walking in service, not the baked beans and kippers.

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.

Dear alien(s),

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

Now you see me now you don't...

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 EM ON when it’s getting dark. It’s not like a new battery will cost you an arm and a leg, being hit by a car might though. Not everybody is equipped with the supernatural power of night-vision. It’s not only a matter of seeing but also about being seen. If you don’t want to wear a helmet then that’s your problem but riding a bicycle in the dark without any lights is in my opinion criminal behavior, plain and simple.

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

Video killed the radio star.

So what keeps you going when you cycle into work? Well first of all I need to get to work so that’s a good motivator, but seriously nothing beats the feeling of riding a well serviced bike through morning traffic(jams :-)). I always try to look into the cars that I drive past in the morning, so you’re warned. If you want to scratch your crotch or eat out of your nose then you better do it at home :-) your car does not guarantee any privacy.
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


Do some sport they say. Eat healthy they say. It’s good for you. They say a lot; don’t they? To me it seems like they are a bit color blind; they took the blue pill instead of the red one. I’ve been doing sports for over seven years now (Dju Su and Shaolin Kempo training 3 times a week) and for a bit more than a month now I try to cycle into work every day (170 Km/week). Guess what; I have more pains than before. The only difference is that now I’m so ‘addicted’ to all that stuff that I don’t really care. Over the past years I’ve twisted more ankles and toes, dislocated more shoulders and broken more fingers than is good for me. Mind you these were all my ankles, toes, shoulders and fingers, just in case you were wondering.
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.