The Bicycle Part 2 of 2

My previous post “The Bicycle Part 1 of 2” was either a fit of imagination, my dream or really happened. None of that matters.

Part 2 is the real world, at least for most of us.

We own the bicycle(s) we own.

Whether or not we get into synch with the bike depends on several factors:

  1. A good fit. Are you positioned correctly on the bike? Is your seat comfortable? Do you suffer pain or fatigue in any various body parts.
  2. A good attitude. It really doesn’t matter if you are laid back, highly competitive or somewhere in between. Nor does it matter if the ride is a workout, challenge or just to ‘smell the roses’. You should be enjoying the experience or if on a really push ride, looking forward to the aftermath.
  3. A willingness to make a quick decision. If the group is riding too fast, too slow, too hilly or too flat for what you want to do, you need to decide, which, today, is more important — the cycling or the company. If the former, you should break off and do your own thing.

With the above three processes working, you can be in synch with any bike you are riding.

That was really the point. We all imagine having the perfect bicycle. Its a lot simpler to seriously work with what we have.


No Bicycles Allowed At The Zoo

This post was supposed to be a continuation of the previous post, but that will have to wait.

Thursday September 25, 2008 was cloudy and mild, with rain supposed to hold off at least until late afternoon.
Susan and I did a really strange thing. We did NOT go bicycling. We went to the zoo. Not just any zoo, but THE BRONX ZOO.

Let me explain some things about the Bronx Zoo, before I tell you what happened.

  • I have been going to this zoo for 55 years.
  • When I first went and for many years, thereafter:
    • big cats were in concrete floor cages with a few tree limbs
    • apes were constantly being moved from one small quasi jungle habit to another
    • the elephants should have died of boredom
  • Then, over time, the zoo started to figure it all out
  • Eventually they became WCS (The Wildlife Conservation Society) and everything changed.

It has been three to five years since my last visit and the place was nice then.

Now it is more like a park with animals than just a zoo.

There are plantings, trees, flowers and even gardens all over the place.

From what I can tell, every animal is in some sort of natural habit environment.

There are no steel bars — there are wire and glass windows — or with some exhibits open air between you and the critters.

Since much is inside or partially inside, you can go anytime of year.

For those of you who have not been or not been for awhile here is a partial list of things to see: African Plains, Aquatic Bird House, Baboon Reserve, Butterfly Garden, congo Gorilla Forest, Tiger Mountain, Jungleworld, Madagasacar!, Money House, Worlds of Birds, Darkness and Reptiles.

The place is big, clean and well appointed with staff anywhere you go. You can walk, ride or do both.

What happened was we tried the “there are things to do besides bicycle” philosophy. What a concept!

We will be back on our bicycles as soon as it stops raining — but it was great interlude.

Photos are here.


The Bicycle Part 1 of 2

The bicycle lay in a ditch off a lonely stretch of route 66. Yeah, funky as that sounds, that’s where it was.
The bike was not rusted or beaten up, just abandoned, in a ditch, out on highway route 66.

Of course I had to stop the car and look at this. There were no manufacturer markings on it, but it did not look as if anything had been sanded or scraped off.  It seemed to be my size, or perhaps I just decided it was. It was painted with a weird plethora of colors, that, somehow, seemed to work. Bicycle Art for sure. There was no air in the tires…also unbranded, but otherwise everything seemed to work. The shifters and brakes looked like one of the major brands, but, once again, no markings of any kind.

I began to think, I was, perhaps, back in my college days and “on something”.

Anyway reality or not I was going to ride this thing. I got my pump out of the car and inflated the tires to 110 psi, just to be safe. Nothing exploded. I donned the minimum necessary bike gear (yes, my bike clips worked fine) and started to ride.

To say I became one with the bike would be a stretch. I did feel more in sync, however, than with anything else I ever rode. I was not more powerful or faster, but, within my limits everything required less effort. I could almost swear the bike prompted me when to shift gears. That alone got me off the bike, looking for the new electronic shifting I had been reading about.

Riding that bicycle was as close to the ultimate riding experience I’d ever had.

When I returned to my car there was man waiting with a huge smile on his face. “I see you have experienced ‘the bicycle'”, he said. I agreed. Unfortunately for me, the bicycle was his (he had put his name and address in the seat tube to authenticate this to me) and I had to part with it. He could not tell me anything about it except he had bought it at a yard sale.

There is more, but that must wait til next time.


My mother in law had a great phrase to describe her live and let live attitude:  “Everyone has their own mishigas (craziness)”.

So too with the people I ride with.   While some of it is annoying, most of it is just interesting.

My wife is usually the only woman on our group rides or one of two or three.   Whenever she passes a bunch of male riders, most of them will, invariably,   peel out after her.

This does not happen when another guy does the same thing.   I call it the lemming effect.   She will do this just to see them react.

Many years ago we rode with a man who would always chase you up a hill.   A group of us would take turns making him nuts and exhausted.   On each hill one of us would dash ahead.   By the end of the ride he was shot.   He totally understood what was going on, but that was his mishigas.

I will really bother people about ride etiquette, often with no positive result.   I will continue to do it, because that is my mishigas.

Some riders in our group will only ride in front or back, unless the group is extremely well behaved, because they do not want to be in a pack of people shifting positions at any moment.

What is your mishigas? Share it with us.


Boston-Maine-Cape Cod Riding Away

Okay, so Boston was a bust, I forgot to order good weather. Susan and I had a great visit with our daughter, however.

Now, Maine . . .

My first riding experience in this NE most of states. We stayed in Kennebunkport at a real find of a place. Look up Franciscan Guest House (60 acres of land, out door salt water pool and full breakfast at prices well below the posh resorts).

In any case, the bicycling was a treat. It went like this:

Multiple rides along the Maine coast, with short hops on route 9 to connect to the next coastal road…then ride directly back to the inn…25 miles day 1.

Repeat some of the above along the coast, but go further up the coast. This provided some great contrast as the coastal communities when from expensive and tourist to expensive and residential to moderate tourist and residential to a few steps above depressed. Absolutely great variations.  Then head inland a bit, mostly on state roads. Some in great condition some in fair condition. Once again though the surroundings kept changing…city, surburban, rural and unpopulated…50 miles day 2.

On day three we did more coast, but in the opposite direction, then headed inland on local roads and county roads, which, by and large were in better shape than some of the state routes. Add another 40 miles.

Total altitude gain on any ride was under 1,000 feet.

It does not get much better. some photos are below.


I have cycled on Cape Cod many times. I have two simple statements to make about it.

1. It is varied, interesting and a great deal of fun.

2. Do NOT miss the opportunity to bicycle on Martha’s Vineyard.


Maine Shoreline

Marginal Way

Kennebunkport Maine Coast


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

  • The Good: Feeling great, weather great, riding the route you want.
  • The Bad: Scattered thundershowers enter into the picture.
  • The Ugly: You and your bicycle with all the mud splatter.
  • The Good: Beating “you know who” up the hills three times in a row.
  • The Bad: Feeing pretty beatup yourself as a result.
  • The Ugly: Learning that “you know who” has not been riding for 8 weeks.
  • The Good: Being forced to take a “smell the roses” ride and really enjoying it.
  • The Bad: Being forced to take a ” smell the roses” ride and really enjoying it.
  • The Ugly: Wanting to do it again.
  • The Good: The brand new bicycle you have always wanted.
  • The Bad: The cost of the brand new bicycle.
  • The Ugly: You are already thinking of the next brand new bicycle.

And Finally . . .

  • The Good: Having your own website and blog to write about good, bad & ugly.
  • The Bad: Realizing you need to keep coming up with new topics to write about.
  • The Ugly: Wonderfully, nothing at all.

Additions and comments are welcome.


Body Parts vs. Reality Factor

Oh yes, that is exactly where I am going. Being 61 and wanting to ride like I am 21 (okay, I’ll take 35 if I must), reminds me of body parts.

So, I did lose 3 pounds. It would have been easier to buy a lighter bike, but there is a sense of accomplishment here.

Between my wife and me there are/were issues with knees, backs, shoulders and hips. I looked on ebay and craig’s list, but could find no replacements. We need to do this the hard way.

  • The weight loss, as little as it is, does help with the riding. It is less strain on other body parts and gives one the urge to lose another pound or two.
  • Almost daily stretching and yoga keep backs, knees and hips moving as well as one can without surgery.
  • The shoulder, after five years did need surgery, but is fine now.

The best thing that started to happen last year and really took hold this year was the Reality Factor.

We came to a decision, conclusion and implementation that provided unexpected good results.

  1. It is too much work to constantly struggle to become better, faster and stronger.
  2. We rode this spring at whatever pace felt comfortable . . . but we rode two to four times a week and we did our hilly rides at least half the time.
  3. Zen Cycling became the survival tactic. Don’t feel comfortable in the pack, move to the front or drop off the back. Ride the hill at your pace whether others pass you or not. Leader going too fast, tell him or her to slow down.

So what happened when we did this?

  • We got stronger anyway.
  • Our ride average improved slightly.
  • The same people who passed us on the hills still do.

We ride a lot off the back because we feel our peers — even our good friend peers — are not safety conscious enough sometimes.

We get our work out, but enjoy the ride more.

I guess the Reality Factor is not all bad.

Living and Riding on Long Island, NY

As I ride in rural and country like settings in Vermont, NY State, Cape Cod, Connecticut and other areas in reasonable driving distance, I wonder what the residents of this area think about riding on Long Island, NY.

What it really is like?

First of all, much of Long Island is built up, flat and has too much traffic. We do not ride in these places.

Northern Nassau County and Gold Coast Area

Hitchcock Lane, Westbury, NY Susan I took a ride today, and I took some photos. We park one block south of very busy Jericho Turnpike in Westbury NY. As soon as we cross the road, however, for all our senses know, we are in the country on Hitchcock Lane.Its only a mile long, but there is a school and horse farm on the left and “eat your heart out” estates on the right. What a great way to start a ride. A parallel road, Post Road has a similar look



After we cross the Long Island Expressway overpass, we enter State University of NY, Westbury Campus.

The first mile is Empire College surrounded by a horse farm and wide open fields. That is followed by the four mile loop around and exit from the school, that is on the left.

So, in traffic filled Nassau County, NY… just East of NYC, the first five miles or so of our ride is pretty much country like roads.


Sagamore The remainder of the ride does include some main roads, but no busy busy roads. We ride through areas with estates that border on or have their own little forests, horse farms, lakes and ponds.Even the roads through towns are not overly busy and often have wide shoulders.

Sagamore Hill, Teddy Roosevelt’s house is a favorite rest stop, if one is willing to climb the roadway uphill.

A Shore Road There are also lots of roads with water views.All in all, this area of Long Island is pretty riding and far cry from the southern part of Nassau County just a few miles away.

Click here to see all 11 photos of this ride.


Eastern Suffolk County

There are still open and rural areas out here.

There is North Street that runs for seven miles through the Pine Barrens, a forever wild protected area.

There are miles of shore line roads with picturesque houses.

If you want, we can even give you a 55 mile route with over 4,000 feet of climbing.

There are no large hills on Long Island, but neither is it as flat as some people think.

Out here there are roads that go for miles without a stop light or stop sign.

If you want something different from country riding, Long Island has great areas to explore.

Ride sheets are available on this site, key words “long island (click)


Just Three Little Words

What is the problem with the words “on your left“ or, if you must “on your right“?

Group riders often warn everyone of “debris”, “car back/up/right/left”, “slowing” and “stopping”.

But getting a rider or group of riders know you are passing seems as hard as getting a man saying “I love you” to a woman.

In all fairness, after being a bit of a bully in my riding group, a number of people do use these expressions, sometimes.

I am not referring to a wide pass, where the person being passed could not possible drift into you. Often, however, riders pass each other within an arms length. What is so hard about saying “on your left” or even just “left’?

I am a fairly attentive rider, but even I sometimes go into a zen zone. When I hear “on your left”, however, I know not to drift or to pass the person I am behind, at that point.

My riding buddies are nice people. Some are even personal, non biking friends. Getting that expression out, however, is sometimes futile.


Getting Back Into Shape

Susan and I are definitely seasonal riders. Temperatures under 40 degrees send us to the gym. That’s spin class, weight training, precor, yoga and pilates. Not the same as riding, but keeps us from falling back too far.

Also, we need to take a break. Since we regularly ride two to four times a week in season, but October or November it is becoming ‘same old same old’. By March I am raring to get back on the bike and Susan is ready to get back on the bike (there is a definite difference between raring and ready).

This March, the weather was pretty bad on Long Island, NY. We got in a total of three short rides of 20-25 miles each.

We decided to head south to Virginia in early April, to site see and ride. We saw all the sites, but the weather was as bad or worse than N.Y.

Our smart move was to head back home one Tuesday. Wednesday was very nice and Thursday was spectacular. We finally got to take two real rides (30-40 miles each) and start to get our bodies back into cycling mode.

We rode slower than we normally do, but we also had time to view the scenery.

We are both looking forward to nicer weather and a late start season.

Glenn A.