Metal Bike Commuter

Bad Driver in the Indian Lake section of Denville

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 31, 2008
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On the way to work today, I was cruising along Indian Road when I spot a black pickup truck blow a stop sign and pull right in front of me.  I have enough time to mutter to myself, “why you…” before the guy pulls wide to turn into a parking spot in front of the Corner Stone Cafe in the Indian Lake neighborhood of Denville.  I had to clamp down on my brakes and try to turn around him, barely making it past him without slamming into the bed of his pickup.

That was the last straw.  First he breaks the law by blowing a stop sign, then he cuts me off, and then he almost causes an accident by pulling wide into the other lane (I was directly behind him), using NO signal to turn right into a parking spot.

I let him have it:

“Hey, why don’t you learn how to drive, you almost caused me to run into the back of your truck!”

He replies, “Why don’t you learn how to ride a bike, you were going too fast through an intersection!”

“What?  15 MPH in a 25 MPH speed zone is too fast?!?”

“On a bike it is!”

Wait…so if I was going 25 MPH in a car, and he pulled the same stunt, somehow this is more acceptable?!  Man was I fuming angry at this point.  And despite the fact that I was going 10 miles under the speed limit, with the right of way, he thought it was too fast?

I continued:

“I have just as many rights as you do, why don’t you learn how to drive?”  (I like that phrase, as you can see).

We continued with some PG-13 words and then I finally took off shaking my fist.

Granted, I as the bicyclist should have just let this go, but the fact is, this was some of the most idiotic examples of poor driving I have witnessed in my entire life.  And also, this was my first confrontation with a driver since starting my bicycle commuting adventure over 2 months ago.

While I’m fuming mad continuing on to work, someone yells “Nice shortcut!” on 53.  I immediately get on the defense thinking someone else is trying to cause trouble, so I kick my legs into high gear and catch up to the driver.  “Pardon me?”  “Oh, nice shortcut, you beat me around the light when cutting through the A&P parking lot”  “Oh, ok, yeah just trying to get to work”  He asked how far my commute was and seemed impressed before speeding off.

To top things off, I witnessed a truck driver blow a red light.  He almost collided into a car turning left, so I yelled “YO!”  He slammed on his brakes and I heard him say “Whoa!!!”

My only regret is that I did not get the cut-off-entitlement-driver’s license plate.  I should have taken a picture of it with my camera phone, but alas, my adrenaline was in high gear so I was not in the right state of mind.

Thankfully all is fine, and I just finished my second cup of joe.  If I ever see him again…well, I’ll probably just glare at him.


Time for Some Bicycle Parts

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 28, 2008
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Well, the weekend was a wash.  No riding whatsoever.  Sigh.

I did get in a fun quick ride last Friday afternoon.  Heading up 53 towards Denville, I spotted who I believe to be the Mayor of Denville riding south to the Critical Mass in Morristown.  Looks like he left the office straight for the ride still in his work clothes.

Lately my chain has been falling off.  Not frequently, but enough that I notice it happening at least once a week.  Unfortunately, due to my previous carelessness, I think my crankset may need an overhaul.  Also, my brakes are slipping a bit, but that should be a simple matter of replacing the brake shoes.

Even though I have a cheap 300 dollar bike, I still need to maintain the thing.  Bicycle parts are not cheap, but thankfully there is a wealth of quality resources online regarding parts.  Besides, learning how to properly maintain a cheaper bike will only serve to benefit me as I progress into mid and higher range bicycles.

My wife and I took the kids out to Philly this weekend.  I noticed a lot more bikes cruising the streets of Philly this time than when I last visited a couple of years ago.  Most of them were fixies.  Some were single-geared with coaster brake assemblies installed.  Anyway, it was a fun time in Philadelphia this weekend.

Denville Bicycle Enthusiast

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 23, 2008
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Props to Dean for this find:

Denville, the self-defined “Hub of Morris County” with a busy business district, would appear to have little in common with a small town in Wisconsin.

Yet, the 41/2-square-mile Midwestern municipality of Sparta, population 9,600, has an influential fan in Denville Mayor Ted Hussa.

Hussa — a cycling aficionado who regularly rides from his office to town hall and is even planning to participate in a “critical mass” ride in Morristown — said on Friday that he wants to increase bicycling in Denville.

I had a couple email exchanges regarding speeding traffic on my street in Denville.  He was kind enough to reply back with some stats and all.  I was also part of the local Ron Paul brigade, and supposedly he supported the man for President.  He sounds like a regular dude, in my humble opinion.

Denville is a perfect town in Morris County to become not just the Morris County Hub, but the bicycle Hub of Morris County.  From a nice downtown, to parks, lakes, and winding roads, the town would only benefit by alloting pathways throughout the town.

Commute-less Week

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 21, 2008
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Well, last week was the first week in sometime that I did not hop on the Specialized to commute to work. With good reason, ladies and gentlemen. I was on call all week with the coming arrival of my son. He finally came on Wednesday at 4:24 PM. Whew! My wife and son are healthy and slowly recovering at home now. Of course, my wife went the natural drug-free route again, and not a needle nor a knife was placed on her body. I am proud of her!

I did have the occasion over the weekend of exploring The Tourne over the weekend. I logged about 25 miles this past weekend bringing my monthly total to match June’s total! The Tourne is a beautiful Morris County park with tons of trails ranging from beginner to intermediate. Yesterday I rode up to the summit atop the Tourne and lay on the crest of rocks facing NYC. Man was I dogged. I am not yet a goat, so hill climbing is not my forte. Hill climbing with loose gravel makes for a tiresome ride, ha ha.

Well, enjoy the sun. I’ll enjoy my son. I ride home tonight, yipee!

Just a Short Ride

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 14, 2008
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Saturday I headed over to Watson Bagels on the bike but took about a 10 mile detour on the way over.

Here are a few shots of Indian Lake in Denville. I live across the street from here and get to wake up to this every morning. Not a bad view.

Indian Lake

Indian Lake

See if you can spot the bird on the dock here. I couldn’t get a clear shot, but it was a taller bird with a long beak.

Indian Lake - Bird

Blurry shot of the bike path that runs across parts of Northern Denville.

Bike Trail

Blurry posed shot with the handle bars.

Handle bars on bike trail

Parked outside Watson Bagels in downtown Denville

Bike at Watson Bagels

And here is my breakfast. Yep, I’m a breakfast sandwich kind of guy. Hence the extra pounds. Well, that is slowly changing as I ride more.

Breakfast sandwich at Watson Bagels

In total, I rode about 12 miles this weekend. Yeah, it is a rather low number, but my wife is due to have labor any minute now. Besides, I spent a few hours on Sunday working around the yard.

Using Excel to Track Mileage

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 10, 2008
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Ok, so I am growing lazy and not posting my weekly totals. I think I realize most are not interested in those stats. On average, my round trip commute is 12 miles per day. So, the math is easy from there. But since I have occasions where I only half commute or skip a day all together, I feel it is necessary to log my mileage by day with some notes, etc.

For a few months, I had a basic Excel spreadsheet and did the math using my calculator to get my weekly and monthly totals. This became annoying. I knew about formulas in Excel, but since I am a systems specialist I don’t really focus on all the details available in Excel. I found through a simple google search an easy way to set yourself up logging your miles. Mine works like a charm, and now I don’t even have to do the math mentally.

Anyway, I tried an alternate route earlier this week on the way home. Man, was that tough. There’s this road called Union Hill that runs through Parsippany just past Greystone Park. Man, that hill almost gave me a heart attack. I first started tackling the road with determination figuring it would eventually flatten out. After what seemed like hours (probably minutes) I finally gave up. With my legs screaming and my breath wheezing I did what I always hate doing. I walked the bike up. And up. And up.

The ride back down was exhilarating though. Unfortunately, I was still trying to catch my breath so I coasted it down. I came to a road called Hill Road that supposedly crosses Route 10. It doesn’t. The map I was using must have been old. I wasn’t about to cross a bunch of lanes of high speed traffic, hop a jersey barrier just to save time. Back on Mt. Pleasant Road, I figured I would try my luck and see where it goes. Well, a few miles later, it too came to a part of Route 10 caged in by jersey barriers. Back up (hill) Mt. Pleasant. I finally found a road called Opekaki (I think) took this across 10 onto Franklin (no barriers!) and headed towards home.

When I get home, my wife comes bearing news that our car has been hit. Another reason why I hate cars. She is fine, but the doors will need to be replaced. I guess the person that hit her thought it would be easier to try driving through her car rather than waiting 5 seconds for my wife (who had the right of way) to drive past. Darn, and I just dropped over 800 dollars to fix the clutch finally getting it back on the road.

Oh well, I just hope the other insurance company does not give us any hassles. There is no question that my wife was not at fault at all.

Bicycle Accessories

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 8, 2008
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Like most bicycle enthusiasts, I have my collection of bicycle accessories. My current list includes:

Spare Tires
Floor Pumps
Bicycle Pumps
Seat Bag

Of course, as I ride more, I am sure I’ll be adding more to that short list. Right now I ride a Specialized Hardrock, but eventually plan on getting a road bike, or a commuter to add to my small collection. I’ve already provided the history of bikes I have owned, and quite soon I’ll provide a list of dream bicycles.

What is necessary for you as a rider depends on the style of riding you prefer. The commuter will probably require panniers, fenders, and light assemblies. The MTB’er will want thick knobs and some kind of suspension system (full or hardtail). The roadster seems to enjoy slick spandex clothing and bright jerseys. Whatever it is, with time, you will find your way.

July 3rd – 7

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 7, 2008
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Well, I didn’t ride at all this weekend. Sorry, but the wife has nesting fever going on, so I spent my long weekend slaving around the house. Our 2nd baby is to be born any day now!

I did get in a nice long, hilly ride Thursday afternoon. Whew! First, I started going north on 202 north, which turned out to be a bit scary. Route 202 north of Morristown can be a bit hairy. I crossed routes 10, 46, and over 80 and past 287. This section is pretty much the hub of Morris County. Most of the 202 portion of my ride was without any protective shoulders in 45 to 50 MPH traffic zones.

Anyway, I survived the 202 madness and took the pedestrian bridge across the Jersey City Reservoir. This used to be the main connection point for local access between Boonton and Parsippany, but they completed a new bridge and converted the old one into a pedestrian only bridge. It is worth a look at and the view of the reservoir is impressive.

From there I continued towards downtown Boonton. Wow. Talk about an extremely steep hill. You won’t notice how steep the hill is until you ride a bicycle uptown into Boonton. Add the fact that the main drag is extremely narrow and cars are parked on both sides, it makes for another scary ride. I almost got smothered by a huge box truck that didn’t share the lane, and another car honked at me for taking up too much space.

I then meandered around the Mountain Lakes area stopping at a small cafe for a HUGE bottle of water. The town of Mountain Lakes is a wealthy town with some impressing, if not, imposing houses. Check out their beautiful lake if you are in the area. I actually got lost a few times (which you will note in my map). Somehow I ended up on 46, and decided to cut back into Mt. Lakes through a business complex and condo development.

I had a few “races” while riding around. While riding uphill on Intervale in Parsippany, a helmetless (brainless?) dude passed me on the wrong side of the road. I cranked it up a bit and toasted him easily. He eventually crossed over to the right side of the road behind me but couldn’t keep up. Me 1 – them 0.

Heading home in Denville on Pocono Road, I got smoked by another MTB’er. No way was I keeping up. He looked like he did this a lot more than me (just guessing by the general physical shape he was in). Me 1 – them 1.

All in all, my computer read at 17 miles when I rolled into my driveway. Not bad, considering the heavy traffic, obnoxious drivers, steep hills, and bicycle racers.

Another bonus: While working on my car (spark plugs, and wires – man you won’t believe how difficult it was, I had to remove about 10 bolts and 2 panels just to get to the wires) my neighbor asked me if both my cars were working now (yeah, sorta). He wondered if I still planned on riding my bike because he noticed that it was of some benefit to me, that I looked like I was in better shape (yes I am, and thank you!).

Anyway, check out my map if you want. Notice the points where I got lost heh heh.

07/07/2008 Route
Find more Bike Rides in Parsippany, New Jersey

Found The Trail

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 1, 2008
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I found the trail that has eluded me for over a month now. It begins at the entrance of the Fox Hill apartments. I think DoT listed it as about 2 miles long. I’ll definitely try it out on the way home tonight.

While I didn’t get much sleep tonight, the ride over to work today put me in a great mood. And, I confirmed with what Google maps already told me. The mileage from door-to-door is almost exactly 6 miles.

I spotted one commuter headed the opposite way towards downtown Denville. I assume he either works in town, or was headed to the train station. Either way, it is nice to see others making a commitment to ride.

Weekly Total: 6 Miles.