Archive for the ‘The Adventures of Dennis the Frankenbike’ Category
I have been wanting another bike for quite a while. Dennis the Frankenbike is super awesome and I love him to absolute death, but his frame is just a bit too small for me and I really need to get a larger frame that actually fits me before my right knee explodes (yes, I’ve been having knee pain and it’s a bit annoying). I just recently got a new job and have decided that part of my new income will go towards the new bike fund.
The main question was, “What kind of bike do I want to get?”
Of course there are a couple types of bikes that I really love:
Fixies: Yes, I am secretly a wannabe hipster and I love the sleek lines of the fixed gear bikes. What’s even better is that they are ridiculously simple and only have one gear. The ones that I’ve been looking at have flip-flop hubs so I could switch between fixed gear and single speed (same deal but with the ability to coast), depending on how I wanted to ride. To be honest, I would probably never use the bike as a fixed gear and end up using the coaster all the time.
Classic 3-speed lady bikes: The appeal of these is pretty obvious to me. It will give me the bonus of having more than one speed, but still retain the simplicity of not having too many. The nice thing about some of these is that the gearhubs are internal and require little maintenance. Plus, the upright riding position and step-through frames are something that I am definitely interested in, as I prefer to ride tall and straight instead of hunched over the handlebars. I don’t really need to be aerodynamic as much as comfortable.
Road bikes: Oh my are these sleek little monsters. I adore old road bikes like nothing else, and I will always slow down to check them out when I pass them parked on the street. Skinny tires, tight lines, efficiency. Oh and they have gears. Lots and lots of gears. I like the idea of this, but at the same time, I find gears to be horrifying. I have horrible gearaphobia, and I can’t really explain it.
And this brings me to the bikes that I am currently coveting: the mixte. What the hell is a mixte? Well, it’s a bicycle that has a step-through frame that is sort of between the men’s triangle and the women’s low-profile. The main way to tell them apart from non-mixte bikes is to look at the top tube; if there are two skinny tubes instead of one thick one, then you’ve got a mixte on your hands.
My oh my. I love the mixte. I love the look, the upright riding position, the presence of gears (but not too many), and the step-through frame. A lot of mixtes have integrated fenders and look quite fetching with a basket in the front. (Oh love.)
Now I’m just poking around at the new bikes and the used bikes on Craigslist and hoping I can find something I really adore to bring home and spoon with Dennis the Frankenbike.
So I just realised something: I hid all the photos on my Flickr account and now all the links are broken on my blog. Great. Just great. Goddamn it.
Wait, should I fix that? Hmm… I feel like I should, but I’m not going to, so they’ll just have to be broken. Sorry for anyone reading the older posts. SORRY OKAY??
I got to hang out with some lovely bikey ladies today and it was so fun. Yeah. Fun times on bikes with coffee. We didn’t really ride a whole lot, but it sure was nice sharing the bike lane with a bunch of ladies. I sometimes share the bike lane with ladies on my way home in Beautiful Downtown San Jose, but it’s not like we’re all hanging out or anything; we’re just trying to get home after a long day and people aren’t usually in a mood for chatting at the light.
In other bikey news, I have managed to get my grubbies on a pair of Knog Frogs in electric green and goes-with-everything black. And boy are they bright! When I was look at lights in the store, I typically turn them all on and then find the ones that are the most seizure-inducing; that’s the one I buy. To tell the truth, my electric green knog blinky headlight is so bright and annoying that it actually annoys ME while I’m riding the bike. Of course, I take this as a very good sign since it means that drivers will notice me and my annoying blinky headlight.
I’m sure someone has already thought of it. Scratch that. I’m sure a million people have already thought about taking photos of bikes and posting it to some blog or tumblr or flickr account somewhere. I’m not just talking about taking photos of bikes and other stuff. I’m talking about JUST BIKES. Bikes that are locked up. Bikes that have people riding them. Bikes and the bikey life. Sure, there are a lot of poeple who like bikes so I’m sure there is already a “bike blog” somewhere out there, but who said that I can’t do something that’s already been done.
So that’s it. I am going to take all those photos of bikes I take and put them somewhere. I just haven’t decided where yet. Maybe on Tumblr? That seems to be easy, but I actually kinda hate Tumblr because it’s sooooooo freakin’ popular. Eh………… I don’t know… but I’ll figure it out.
Oh, and I got a flat yesterday and it sucked. Of course, I don’t carry spare tubes or anything, so I just had to bring my poor flat-tired Dennis home just like that. Sucks.
You know those people who are good at riding their bike? They seem to get on and off so effortlessly and they are so graceful pedalling around. They seem to be one with the bike, able to just use it as an extension of their body, a tool that helps them get around faster than by simply walking.
Well, I have never been one of those people. I took ballet classes as a child, but it didn’t seem to help so much with making me graceful as it did by making my hate those silly pink leotards that made me look huge next to the lithe little blonde girl I usually got stuck next to. No, I have never been quite a graceful person, and I usually have a good number of unexplained cuts and bruises to prove it.
But… I may be getting just one more step further from the awkward boor that I usually am, and the bike may be the key. In the beginning I found riding, mounting, and dismounting my bike really awkward, and I was constantly running my shins into the pedals and hurting myself. My legs looked like a warzone with all the cuts and scrapes and bruises. I blamed a lot of that on the very pointy metal pedals, or on the fact that it’s a men’s bike and has a high cross bar. But now I’ve found that maybe I actually can adjust and figure out how to be more graceful, even beyond these things.
The best part was that I didn’t even really notice this was happened. Today I hopped onto my bike and it just felt right. It felt comfortable. It felt good to get on the bike. My body knew just how to position itself when I planted my butt in the saddle, and I could effortlessly pedal off into the parking lot at work. It felt good to push down with my legs and feel the wind in my face. It felt so damned good to ride my bike.
In the beginning, not every ride was nice. There were a fair share of awkward rides, where I almost fell off trying to stop at stoplights. I even ran into a truck one day when I was trying to manoeuver between two tightly parked cars.
These days, things like that don’t happen as often (not that I run into parked cars on a regular basis). I am definitely better at manoeuvering my bike in tight spaces, and I feel more reassured that I won’t crash into still objects that just happen to in the wrong place at the wrong time (sorry).
Dennis and I are past the awkward adolescent stage, and I think we’re definitely growing into each other. That feels so good.
This weekend, Dennis has to go to the shop and get a tune-up. I haven’t had anyone really look at the bike (except me, staring lovingly at him whenever I can) to make sure that he’s in tip-top shape. I depend on him to get me to work and back and ride him everyday, so I need him to be in good working order at all times.
Sending him in for a tune-up means that I have to drop him off today and probably can’t pick him up until Monday, which means it is going to be a bike-free weekend for me and that makes me very, very sad. The funny thing is that Darren and I had a really tough time figuring out what we were going to do on Sunday without having to use our bikes. Well, he could bring his bike, but then I’m going to have to walk (like a peasant!) behind him, and it would be very inefficient for us to get anywhere.
Thus, we have decided to find something bike-free to do, and it’s proving to be incredibly difficult to do! Our weekend activities revolve around bike activities (riding somewhere near us, taking the bus or train somewhere new and riding around). No matter what the actual activity is, it usually involves taking a bike some part of the journey to get there.
What the hell did we do before we started living bikey lives? It’s like a totally foreign life to me now. The idea of not being able to ride my bike to get somewhere is horrifying, and the idea of taking the shuttle on Monday to get to and from work is sending fear crawling down my back. I am going to be so utterly cranky sitting at my desk all day.
I don’t even care that Dennis is turning out to have a taste for blood and he makes me bleed at least once a week. His pedals are sharp and metal and I endless walk my shins into them, and sometimes he likes to fall on me when I’m holding him in the train. Yes yes, Dennis is a bit of a psycho, but I still love him for it.
I don’t exactly know what happened, but I feel really happy these days. Undeniably, smile-on-my-silly-face happy. I would have to say that riding my bike to work has really helped with the happiness factor. I ride to the station in the brisk California summer mornings with a big smile. I don’t even mind the random catcalls from guys who are happy to see a skirt on a bike. When I get off the train, I hop on my bike to see how far I can get before the train catches up with me along that long stretch of road that runs along the tracks. And sometimes I wave at the train when it passes me, thundering by with its horn blasting.
Yes. Bike commuting has changed my life. The bike gets to go outside everyday, and I get to be the one to take him out. My legs feel energised in the mornings and I feel so happy to be out riding around when the sun is still waking up and the café across the street has a few people stumbling in looking for a wake-me-up.
Do you know what I think about when I’m not riding my bike? I’m usually busy planning the next place I’m going on my bike. I still don’t quite get biking as exercise with the spandex and speed and everything. I am more of a cruiser type girl who uses it to get around instead of her car. I’m usually not in a huge rush, and people are constantly passing me in the bike lane, which I think is really hilarious. I always think to myself, “Well, might as well pass me, speedfreak. Me and my single gear are already at top speed!” Haha… yeah, the spandex and speed crew totally make me giggle.
I have to head up to town tomorrow to meet with some friends, and I am totally trying to figure out how to do it all by bike. I know that it means a 1h40 train ride and figuring out how to get all the way to the Sunset from 4th and King and probably getting lost and complaining about going up and down hills, but I’m going to try to make it happen. I also plan to hit up the Sunday Streets in the Mission, just to see what I can see. It looks like a lot of fun, so why not!
Ok, so I keep thinking that I’m going to stop blogging about my newfound love for All Things Bikey, but it’s not going to happen, and if you have a problem with that then you can go ahead and not read this Yet Another Bikey Blog Entry.
This weekend, I had so much fun it’s unbelievable. After another lovely week of bike commuting to work, I got it in my pretty little head to bring Dennis up to town on the CalTrain so I could fulfill my dream of acting like one of those silly bike-renting tourists who ride around on Embarcadero. Yeah. I don’t know why I wanted to do it, but I did!
So early on Sunday morning, Darren came down to SJ with his bike, and we went over to Diridon and got on a train that took almost 2 hours to get us up to 4th and King. We rode over to the REI on Brannan so I could exchange my U-lock, then we hit up Patisserie Philippe for some tasty macarons.
It turned out that they were shut, but they let us in anyway to sell us a couple boxes of macarons. The kind man even gave us each one to nibble on while he was packing up the boxes, and then slipped us a crinkly cellophane bag of beautiful meringues for Bastille Day. So very nice of him!
After we slipped our precious boxes of macarons into out messenger bags, we hopped back on our bikes to head to the Embarcardero and I finally got to ride along the water on my bike! I was in heaven. It was so gorgeous and wonderful out too, and I had this big silly smile slapped on my face the entire time.
Yeah. One more wish fulfilled.
And on the way home, we found some beautiful shadows and light at the train station. So gorgeous.
Bikey life makes me pretty happy. I love seeing people riding them around and I love checking them out at the bike racks. So pretty. Round, and straight, and round all over again. So nice.
Yes, this is another bikey post. Sorry. It’s somewhat consumed my life to the point of thinking about using my Caltrain pass (I get free pass on all zones on the weekends) to go up to SF with my bike so I can be like one of those crazy tourists biking on Embarcadero. Yeah.
The nice thing about a bike is that somehow it makes you more approachable by strangers. I think it also helps that I’m not a spandex-clad biker, so I look like a normal person out riding their bike from A to B. (Not that spandex makes you less approachable, but maybe you would look more like a “real” biker who might not want to be bothered and you might be training for something really cool too.)
I was leaving my building on the way home from work. I usually stop right outside the building to fix my garter (it keeps my skirt down while I’m riding), so I stopped as usual and clipped the edge of my dress to the garter. A lady who came out of the building right behind me exclaimed, “Oh, how nice that you ride your bike!” and we had a short little conversation about how she used to bike to work too, but now she has to drop off her son and has to drive. As we parted, she said, “Have a good weekend and a nice ride home!” Yeah. It was really nice.
Plus, I’m getting to have all kinds of random conversations with the other bikey regulars on my train. I take the same trains everyday, so you get to see the same people over and over. I feel like I’m even more conspicuous now, compared to the regular rider, simply because I am one of the few people who bring their bikes. Well, it’s not really a “few” people who bring their bikes; there are actually a decent number of us, but still a small percentag compared to non-bikey riders.
I also ran into Fritz again and we had a random little conversation about the skirt clip thing with another female biker who was wearing a skirt. She mentioned it looked like a good idea and a nice alternative to flashing most of downtown San Jose.
Oh, and then there’s the whole secret bikey subculture… This is getting interesting.
I named my bike Dennis. His frame says “Rock Hopper” so of course the first thing I thought of was Dennis Hopper, and hence Dennis. I’m even thinking of taking a piece of paper and taping over the “Rock” bit and writing “Dennis” on it. Yeah. That’s how much I love my bike. I will brave incredulous stares to do something funny.
Yesterday I did not bike to work. I was meeting a friend and the Mister was going to pick me up and take me to dinner. I would have ridden, but Dennis does not fit easily into the car. What can I say, he doesn’t want to be a drive-around-in-a-car bike. He wants to be an on-the-road-being-ridden bike, and he does not fit well in my puny car.
I thought I would feel really relaxed taking the shuttle to and from the CalTrain station, but you know what? I didn’t like it. Sure, it’s easy and I just have to sit down and do nothing while it takes me from point A to B, but I have to say that I really missed riding my bike!
This morning, with the wind whipping through my skirt, I rode from point A to B and then C to D with a big huge bikey smile plastered on my silly face.
Oh and that friend I met yesterday? Here he is in beautiful Fuji instafilm colour, courtesy of my lovely new camera, Geraldine (a Polaroid 195 Land Camera).
I’ve been really excited about riding my bike to work. Even though I don’t ride very far (1.8 miles in SJ and 2.2 in San Mateo each way, so about 8 miles round trip), I’ve been obsessively reading about All Thing Bikey. One of the things that I really worry about is fixing a flat. I have not had to ever fix a flat bike tire in my life (heck, I’ve never fixed a flat car tire myself either), so it actually scares me to death to think about getting a flat, possibly eating it while riding the bike, and then having to fix it on the side of the road (hopefully it won’t be a a very busy road).
While I was catching up on my internet alone time this morning after a morning run (finally!!), I was reading all about bicycle commuting on the Trek site. I first should tell you a little about my bike. It’s a Frankenstein bike, made by a friend out of parts that were going to be junked. (I’ve named my bike Dennis for no reason, other than I like saying that I went places wiht Dennis.) The frame is a sad looking blue Rock Hopper and all the other parts were taken off other old bikes. They’re good parts, just a bit old. Oh, and Dennis only has one gear, which makes him pretty light to take on and off the train.
As an aside, Dennis doesn’t look like he’s my bike apparently. On the CalTrain, the bike racks stack up to 4 bikes on top of each other. Hopefully, you have a destination tag so that you don’t get shut in behind a bike that’s going a few stops further than you. Dennis was already on the top of the rack, so I didn’t have to move any other bikes, but when I was moving him, a very nice rider asked me if I needed help moving that bike out of the way. (I guess Dennis is kinda ratty looking.) I told the guy that Dennis was my bike, and he looked a little surprised and chuckled. Maybe it doesn’t help that I was wearing my fancypants work clothes, so he thought I had the cruiser stacked under Dennis.
Oh wait, anyway…
The whole point of this post was to share the 1 World 2 Wheels site that I found that has a lot of neat little tips for people who want to start bike commuting. It’s a lot easier than you think and good for your body too. Plus, they have a video about learning how to change a flat, which is what I totally need to do!