Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween ride

Sugar-fueled greeting from the back seat
We had some errands to do, so we decided to squeeze in a slightly extended bike ride while we were at it. We picked up a few things from the grocery store, including pumpkin pie making materials, then ventured through the bucolic suburban landscape.
For those with sharp eyes, yes, that's my Wrangler western bike riding shirt
The objective was our own local miniature run of singletrack. The trail is only a few hundred feet long, but satisfyingly bumpy, swoopy and crunchy, with a carpet of fallen leaves.
Raring to go around another time
Since we first started riding the Big Dummy nearly two years ago, she has asked to go on the singletrack whenever we're within several blocks of the park. I usually try to oblige if time allows. Today, the trail was one of the main purposes of our ride, and we took the time to make several circuits. It's great to have such a nice day on Halloween. I know the years with bad weather tend to stand out in memory, but it really does seem that there have been far more snowy and cold than pleasant Halloweens around here.
Yahoo! Blue tongue courtesy of a blueberry lollipop
Action shot following a short downhill

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bike/walk to school day

The two-wheeled green bus
Today was her school's first ever bike/walk to school day. I don't know why they chose a date in late October, or why it didn't coincide with International Bike/Walk to school day on October 6, but it is what it is. We awoke to a chilly 36°F and were running later than usual, so we opted for the Dummy alone to assure a good experience. We had a pleasant but intermittently cold and windy ride, arriving at school on time. There were quite a few walkers and fewer bikers, with the chilliness of the morning probably taking its toll on higher participation.

Overall, bike/walk to school day is a good way to introduce parents and kids to the idea of leaving the car at home for routine trips. I'd like to see a national bike/walk to school/work day once a month, because in most parts of the U.S. there are plenty of nice days throughout the year. I also like the walking school bus idea, and I'm sure that a biking school bus could just as readily be organized.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It must really be Fall

She reenacted the Linus in the leaf pile scene from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Falling leaves are one indicator of the season, but so is the annual return of Veloswap. This was the first time that my cash and I had been in attendance in a few years, so it was with some relief that I returned home with no more bikes than when I left. That's not to say that I wasn't tempted by a brand new Long Haul Trucker in my size, on offer for a mere $700. I'm sure I'll be thinking about that bike for years, even though I'm comfortable with with the result. Does that mean my disease is in remission?

In the end, my expenditures for the day amounted to $15: $8 for admission, $5 for Albatross-ish bars made by Wald, $1 for a 140mm extension threadless stem (to hold a passenger handlebar on Julie's Xtracycle), and one last well-spent buck which netted me a set of 7-speed downtube Shimano 105 shifters and six 3mm threadless headset spacers. The bike-geek atmosphere was distinctly pungent, paying dividends as several hours of cheap entertainment.
Veloswap has changed markedly over the years. I preferred the vibe of the days before Craigslist and bike hipsters, when the event was one of the few venues to relish in old bike junk and prices for many items were a bit more reality-based than at present. I know a lot of things in bike-dom and the world of economics have changed in the past couple of decades, but for me it's difficult to rationalize $2,500 as an astoundingly great deal for anything, even if for a used downhill rig or sleek triathlon bike with an original retail price upwards of $5k.

I've changed a bit too since my last Veloswap. In the past I arrived armed with a comprehensive list of parts objectives, a metric tape measure and keen bargaining skills honed by a tour of duty in the Peace Corps. Curiously, this time around I enjoyed the social aspect of the swap, spending about as much time hanging out and talking with friends as I did searching through parts.

The lower-key approach continued into today. We rode the Big Dummy and the Xtracycle over to participate in a 5K run/walk to benefit the local school district. I opted to walk instead of run as I had planned, and ended up doing the course with her. We ran some and walked some, and I even served as steed to the diminutive princess on my shoulders from time to time. At the finish line, she and I ran across hand-in-hand in 48:14. It was good fun, and she did great in her first 5k. Sadly, I forgot the camera.

Later, we took a ride with friends Maggie and Doug, and had dinner with several bike pals in North Denver. It was a great day to maximize enjoyment of the current and unusually long stretch of pre-frost weather in the region. Overall, not a bad way to spend the weekend.
Urban foliage tour
Aboard my trusty Cross-check