Internal Detours
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
  daily rider

On a good day, my commute takes about 4 minutes door to door, assuming I take the bike. Driving takes roughly 8 minutes. Walking requires about 15 minutes. Even adding the time needed to don cycling cap, helmet, gloves and trouser clips, riding the bike is the quickest way for me to go from home to work and back again.

Living close in means I go home and eat lunch with the love of my life every day. I get to eat nutritiously, instead of the nasty junk I used to consume when I was single. It's a lot closer to classical small town living, almost a version of the schedule of my grandparents 60 years ago.

My colleagues don't get it. They're always freaked out when they see me riding in on cold days, or rainy ones, or in the brutal heat of summer. I'm used to it, though. It helps that I try to be properly equipped. The sad thing is, most of the proper equipment has to be special-ordered. None of it is available in bike shops in South Carolina.

One of my best purchases was a used Carradice rain cape, a waxed cotton poncho-like device complete with a waist tie-down to keep the back from riding up and thumb loops to keep the front from flying up. It's not completely water tight, but it helps, as it basically functions like wearing a tent of warmer air. Windy days with rain are challenging, but not impossible.

It helps that my favorite daily rider has fenders. They keep most of the water off my back. My feet are another matter. I need to make some mudflaps, and in particular one for the front fender. The old English Bluemels patterns came stock with them; the old French ones went down further, closer to the ground. Both gave better protection than the modern SKS models Julius currently wears, but mudflaps may make all the difference.

The accessory that makes it possible is the Carradice saddlebag. I switch back and forth between two different models. For years I've used a Nelson Longflap. It's huge. I used to joke about being able to sleep in it if I got lost on the road. For the last year I've been using the dramatically smaller, but still capacious Carradice Pendle. Either way, I can put layers of clothes I don't need in the bag, carry food in to stash in the break room, or carry books home. Sometimes I'll switch over to one of my Rivendell Banana Bags, slightly larger versions of the classical French bags sold by Gilles Berthoud. That's pretty much a summertime thing, though, as the reduced carrying capacity just won't cut it. I get razzed about my saddlebags, but they're just too useful to leave at home.

Thursdays I work till 6:00, and for a couple of months it's dark when I leave work. For those evenings, I acquired a Shimano Nexus generator hub and a Lumotec headlamp. I laced the hub to a Mavic MA rim I got in a trade several years ago. The Lumotec goes on the lamp boss on the left fork blade, at least for now. One of these days I need to get a BOB trailer skewer and fit the adjuster nut onto the hub's quick release, shorten the wires, and set the wheel and light up as one unit for quick transfer of the wheel and light from bike to bike.

I could list all sorts of reasons for these arrangements, and they would even have some truth to them. Sure, it is more environmentally sensitive. Yes, every little bit of exercise stolen during the work day counts towards keeping me and my bypasses happy and healthy. Politically, it cuts down on the amount of gasoline I use, which means a little less money going into the coffers of Islamo-fascists. All of these are good reasons, but they're not the real one.

I like riding my bikes. Any chance I get to ride my bike, any opportunity to steal a bike ride in a work day, is an opportunity I don't want to miss.
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Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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