Majority Rule

There are 5 people in my department at work. One of the guys in my department has started bike commuting a few days a week. If we can convince one more person to ride, the majority of us will be bike commuters.

Then I would no longer be a weirdo, and I would have to start riding to work on a unicycle to maintain my street cred.

Today: 10 miles
April: 57 miles
2008: 149 miles

Investing Your Stimulus: Electra

Electra Amsterdam Classic 3

Today, we consider the Electra Amsterdam Classic 3.

What’s Good

  • Totally enclosed drive train – One need never worry about greasy breeches, and the need for tiresome maintenance is greatly reduced
  • Includes rack, fenders, and dynamo lights – The well-appointed Amsterdam Classic comes complete with nearly all the accessories a commuter could desire.
  • Style – These are the sorts of bicycles found between the legs of the most fashionable ladies in Denmark. What more enviable position could one aspire to?
  • 700×40 tires – Neither pothole nor cobblestone street will jar your bones with plump tires such as these

What’s bad

  • Geometry – The layout of the Amsterdam’s frame is optimised for comfort and dignified cycling, not for maximum speed or efficiency.

Electra Wicker Basket

Although the Amsterdam comes with a rack, you would not go far wrong to put a basket on the handlebars to transport your lunch and sundries to your place of employment. Electra offers several, the least expensive being $25

Rain Cape

For a bike like the Amsterdam, a rain cape is a good option for protection from the elements. It’s not unlike a tent that keeps the rain off of you from above and is open for ample ventilation from beneath.

A nice yellow cape can be had for $46 from J&G Cyclewear. I have had dealings with J&G in the past, and have found them to be most honorable people with products that are excellent in every imaginable way.

Bell Citi Helmet
Brain injuries are only humorous when they happen to some other fellow.

For $50, the Bell Citi helmet may assist your skull in the containment of brains, lest they spill across the pavement; a most untidy state of affairs in the best of circumstances.

Kryptionite U lock

One never can be sure where brigands and thieves may lurk in the shadows, and it would, therefore, be best to secure your bicycle to a sturdy object with a lock.

The entry level Kryptionite U-lock can be had for a mere $18.

It bears mentioning that Kryptonite locks are not actually manufactured from real Kryptonite, and any efforts to use one to subdue Superman will likely end in failure.

Right, so, let’s tally up the figures.

Bike $550
Basket $25
Rain Cape $46
Helmet $50
Lock $18

Total: $689

A touch more expensive than yesterday’s example, but the extra money is well spent for the dynamo-powered lights and the style and panache the Amsterdam has to offer.

Electra bicycles can be purchased at your local Electra dealership.

Update: More discussion of the Electra Amsterdam can be found on the Bikes for the Rest of Us blog.

Executive Parking

My boss recently got his own office, and nobody is using his old cubicle, so now my bike has it’s own cubicle.

My bike

It was a nice day outside today. I snapped this picture of Harrisburg on my ride home.

harrisburg view

Today: 10 miles
April: 47 miles
2008: 139 miles

Investing Your Stimulus: Trek

In all likelihood, your local bicycle shop peddles the wares of only a small number of brands of bicycle. We shall, therefore, consider the wares of each brand separately whenever possible.

Starting off then, we’ll have a look at the offerings of Trek Bicycle Corporation

Trek 7000

The Trek 7000 seems to be a perfectly good bicycle for commuting.

What’s Good?

  • It has 700×35 tires, which are skinny enough for speed, but not so skinny as to run the risk of pinch flats; even when carrying a heavy load
  • It has a very wide range of gears, to assist in climbing over hills without undue exertion or unseemly perspiration.
  • It has a chain guard to help keep filthy chain grease off the leg of your breeches.

What’s Not Good

  • Upright riding position – While this will not be a hinderance for short rides, on longer excursions, it may cause some posterior discomfort.
  • Lack of equipment – This bicycle lacks the basic necessities for commuting; Lights, racks, and fenders.

Not to worry, Trek offers a whole array of add-ons accessories that make the 7000 a more than capable commuter.
Unfortunately, the addition of these items more than doubles the cost of the bicycle.

Trek 7000 Bicycle – $310
Trek bike mounted rear rack $20.
Trek Basic Bicycle Panniers $65
Trek “Bontrager approved” fenders $40
Trek “Vapor” helmet $50
Trek Commuter Rain Jacket $90
Trek Dreadlocks cable lock $25
Trek Trek Ion 3 Headlight & Flare 7 Taillight Combo $38

Total: $638

This is slightly more than our $600 governmental stipend, but with gasoline selling for $4 per gallon, the diligent rider will have recouped the excess expenditure in his first month of commuting.

“Where can I get one?!” you say? A fellow can scarce swing a dead wombat without hitting an authorized Trek dealer. If, however, wombats are not indigenous to your particular locale, the good people at Trek Bicycle Corporation can point you in the right direction.

Investing Your Stimulus: Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen, in case it has escaped your notice, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that the entire world is rapidly descending into Hell.

Witness the following factors:

  1. The exorbitant price of gasoline
  2. Global warming related crop failures
  3. Governmental issuance of the sum of $600 to each citizen, in an effort to forestall imminent economic doom.

It is my well reasoned and impeccably logical position that the only way 600 dollars is going to solve any of these problems is if it is spent in kitting oneself out as a bicycle commuter.

Failure to do so will bring about a global cataclysm ultimately resulting in the complete, utter, and total annihilation of human civilization.

Over the next few days, I will produce well-researched options for the average citizen to invest his $600 in a manner such as to avoid disaster on a planetary scale.

The well-appointed, all-season bicycle commuter requires the following accouterments:

  1. A bicycle
  2. Fenders to keep wet roads from sullying one’s business attire
  3. A method of transporting cargo (lunch, laptop, etc) to/from work
  4. Clothing for protection from rain and cold
  5. Illumination, for navigation in the dark
  6. Miscellanea; Helmets, patch kits, etc.

We shall examine several options in each of these categories, whilst staying within a budget not to exceed $600.

Global calamity can be postponed, perhaps indefinitely, with the rigorous and regular application of the bicycle commuting wisdom I am about to impart.

Let us begin.

Books: Freakonomics

I know many of you have come to trust this blog for my in-depth, thoughtful, and insightful book reviews. So here’s another one:

Freakonomics Cover

Freakonomics kind of sucked. There’s not really much of a story. Each chapter is totally unrelated to the rest of the book. The only part that was cool was the chapter where they argue that the deep decline in the crime rate in the 1990s was the result of the legalization of abortion in the 1970s.

I liked that part because it gets anti-choice people all up in a tizzy, and I’m in favor of anything that makes those fart knockers mad.

Other than that, it was pretty lame book.

I give Freakonomics two Jihadis out of five.

2 Jihadis out of 5

Stony Creek

My evil sister went out and got herself a new mountain bike, so we took it up to Stony Creek for a shakedown ride after work.

I forgot my camera, so pictures of the new bike will have to wait.

New bike on my old car

Evil Sister with her new bike

I rode my Karate Monkey, and I liked it so much I think I might commute on it if the weather’s nice next week. It has no fenders or racks, and it has knobby tires, but I can’t be arsed to buy new stuff for it right now.

Friday: 7 miles
April: 37 miles
2008: 129 miles

Commute

It’s getting kind of warm in the morning. I was a sweaty mess when I got to work. I should probably leave a few minutes earlier and take it easy on the way in.

Today: 10 miles
April: 30 miles
2008: 122 miles

Fun Poetry for Children

Freddie and Mikey and Fred
Were all snuggled up in their beds
but that little Tommy
turned into a zombie
and ate the brains out of their heads!

Being Weird

There’s a really cool podcast over at Backpackinglite.com.

It’s an interview with John Coffer, a photographer who pretty much had enough of the bullshit of modern life, and so he set himself up as a pioneer farmer in the finger lakes of New York.

He supports himself with subsistence farming and teaching old school civil war style tintype and ambrotype photography.

John Coffer

You know, if people would just declare their own personal independence more. That’s what I did when I was 26. I just sort of seceded from the status quo and declared my own personal independence and felt that that was gonna be just fine, and it was.

A well-dressed snowman

Do what you’re good at. If you’re good at being weird, be weird and just do it well.

Don’t hold back.

Words to live by, no doubt, but I am entirely too lazy to have to get up in the morning to milk cows and stuff.

It also appears that Mr. Coffer has a somewhat less than satisfactory love life, at least according to this article in the New York Times. Modern women, it seems, are too attached to telephones and indoor plumbing.

Update:
I found a youtube video about Mr. Coffer