Sunday, April 21, 2013

Disaster Relief Trials: Boulder

Quick update, as this little passion of mine seems to be taking off, thanks to the help of Portland's Transportland and their Disaster Relief Trials.
In June, there will be a Cargo Bike event, sponsored by Community Cycles as part of Boulder's Walk & Bike Month.
However, the Disaster Relief Trials will be a separate, much more challenging event, most likely late Summer/early Fall. The idea, is that this will be a series so DRT events in multiple cities will be similar in the rules, challenges, distances, etc. Since last year's inaugural event was held in Portland during Pedalpalooza, a lot of the thoughts are being shared from their planning. Here are some of the details that will most likely be a part of DRTs in at least 4 cities this year, and hopefully many more to come:

  • Obstacle - one meter barrier (Which a rider would have to lift their bike/trailer/cargo over.)
  • Obstacle - 6+" water crossing (Which a rider would have to ride through with cargo.)
  • Obstacle - 400 meter+ section of rough terrain (read: mountain-bikey)
  • Cargo -100lb accumulated payload (including something fragile to simulate medicine, and something oversized like a pallet, rescue sled, etc)
  • Length - 3+ hour duration for the fastest competitors (Portland's was about a 30 mile route)
  • Communication - any level of checkpoint monitoring and event info dispatching by local ham radio operators
  • Communication - event-proof, annotated checkpoint map, given to competitors
  • Rules - Le Mans style start (running start to parked bikes), ALL traffic rules, no predefined route. 
I'll be using this blog as Boulder's DRT site for now, though we may move to a Google+ page in the near future. That way, I can share info on the other cities participating, and document our planning processes for future events. 

p.s. If you're in Boulder, and want to volunteer, donate, participate, or learn more, leave a comment, or contact me through Gmail or Google+ (DRTBldr or rorowe).

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Shakedown Rides

Everyone's done it: You buy a new bike, install a new component, make a repair, even explore a new route. This is the shakedown ride, and this weekend consisted of a few of 'em for me.
Since I'm participating in #30daysofbiking, along with a #BikeCommuterCabal challenge of 30 days of consecutive riding (These should coincide, for me anyway.), finding ways to get on the bike when I don't otherwise need to, or have time to, gets tricky.

The first: McElligot, my "mountain bike". I haven't ridden him in awhile, because he needs some attention to the cables and housing. The dilemma is that I want to convert him to a single-speed for simplicity, so replacing cables and housing isn't really necessary...except that I haven't done the conversion yet. So, I removed the front derailleur (which had the worst of the cables), and made it a middle-ring and 8 speed in the back. Works great for that setup, but I still want to get it single-speed lookin' instead of just a broken mountain bike.

The second: Wasn't actually a ride, because I realized right away that the situation wasn't terribly smart to even attempt. I've been wanting to test the bike tray on my trailer since the day I bought it, but was worried that the rear tray wasn't supported enough. Turns out, I'm right. Thankfully, I have a few fabricator/welder/engineer types who I can bother to come up with a solution...

Thankfully, I got some proper riding time with my partner while we were looking for water. Sometimes it's the 5 milers with your beautiful partner, that make bicycling that much better.

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's the little trips...

After a little prodding, Cecily and I decided to try grocery shopping by bike, together. We didn't need much, and it was beautiful out, so off we went.
It's always tricky in the beginning, because my partner's bike, the orange e-bike, is much too heavy for her to get down the two flights of stairs on her own. Then, I need to unlock my trailer which lives on the other side of our building, and bring my bike down, and hook everything up, before we can even ride. Apartment living has it's disadvantages, for sure.

The other interesting part of this little adventure, is that the ride to our grocery store is only about a mile. Usually, it would be simpler to walk, and driving is never convenient unless we already have the car out for something else.

So, a few things to think about:
1. What can I/We do to continue encouraging people (Not just women) who are nervous about cycling to feel safer and more confident?
2. Why is it so hard to find ground-level, secure, bike parking? (Cecily always finds it hilarious to park her e-bike next to the car. The idea makes more sense than she realizes...)
3. It doesn't matter how far, if you're doing it with the person you love, the ride is much more enjoyable!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ride Report - Boulder Food Rescue 3/25/13

On Sunday, I posted about my night-before jitters about my Boulder Food Rescue volunteering. Today, the day after actually doing the work, I can exclaim that I survived, and had fun! I didn't take any photos or videos like I had originally planned, mostly because of the weather and road conditions, and the fact that I was being shadowed by my BFR trainer, PD.
I left my apartment, braving degrees in the teens, at about 7:30am, to head to BeauJo's, a "Colorado Style" Pizza Restaurant in South Boulder. That's where the trailer and lockbox are kept for the two Baseline Ave. grocery stores that participate with Boulder Food Rescue. There, I was going to meet PD, one of the BFR coordinators, who would give me an on-the-bike training of my specific route.
8am on the dot, PD arrived, we introduced each-other, and then began fighting with the "weatherproof" lock...which had frozen shut from the weekend's storm. We finally managed to free the shackle, and he gave me some tricks on using the seatpost style trailer hitch. We needed to bring the scale along, so I tucked it into my Green Guru "Dutchy" pannier next to my u-lock and seatbag (which I took off to utilize the seatpost hitch), and we headed to Sprouts.
As we gingerly parked our bikes (and trailer) on the icy loading dock ramp behind Sprouts, and entered the back of the store, I saw two carts. A large cart with four banana boxes full of produce, and a shopping cart with some bread loaves and other pastries. We wheeled the carts outside, and began sorting the boxes by "squishability". Then came the weighing...
For the first couple boxes, I was able to stand on the scale, holding the boxes, then subtracting my weight. Twenty pounds here, twenty pounds there. Then, I picked up the couple 40 pounders, and the scale gave us an error. (I'm not overweight, but I did have my loaded backpack, coat, helmet, and gloves on...). The reason, PD explained, that we weigh everything, is so we can keep a report and running total of Boulder Food Rescue's efforts. As the weight added up, I knew this was going to be big trailer-full. In fact, all said and done, it ended up being 200lbs of produce and bakery items.
We loaded the trailer together, PD imparting some wisdom of stacking techniques, and using bicycle tubes as tie-down straps. I had to use the downhill of the loading dock to get moving, but once I found a usable gear, we were off.
The ride up 30th was pretty painless, actually. Inertia and momentum are wonderful things, when they're working for you. It was nice having a ride-along as we were able to take the lane more confidently, in order to avoid the poorly-plowed, snow-covered bike lanes. PD encouraged and commented on my bike and trailer handling. If I could transport 200lbs of food in freezing, icy/snowy conditions by bicycle for my first run, it would only get easier.
After climbing the last little hill, probably the hardest part of our ride, we delivered the food to the Family Learning Center, which is surprisingly close to my apartment (One of the reasons I chose this particular route.). I'm eager to learn more about their organization, and hopefully, get to spend some time meeting some of the people I got to help. I'll want to brush up on my Spanish, but it's worth it.
Following the off-loading, we had to return the trailer and scale to the BeauJo's bike rack so it could be used later for the Whole Foods run. Again, we had to take the lane a few times, and I had to carefully navigate the trailer around "icebergs". The final hill on 30th almost killed me, but we made it, and after a handshake and a congrats, PD went off on his way, as I worked my way back to Foothills Parkway and the Arapahoe paths to get to Copy Experts.
The route's below (including leaving my apt and getting to work). It's definitely going to build up some core muscle strength dealing with these loads, but the interesting thing is how great I felt both physically (it was a Monday, after-all), and mentally, by the time I got to work. I've been looking at the shifts-needing-covered, and thinking I may grab one for least the weather will be nicer this time!