Metal Bike Commuter


I love that hill!

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on September 22, 2009

There’s this little gravel trail that I take as a shortcut that runs along the high-tension power lines.  I don’t know why, but the hill puts a huge smile on my face no matter what mood I’m in.  It makes me thankful for my front suspension, that’s for sure.

It is all downhill to work.  This hill has a way of fooling you.  First you do a tiny bit of climbing, reach the crest, from there you can see down to Route 10 by the Atlanta Bread Company, and Wendy’s across the highway.  Then you descend down the first hill, which is like a tiny bump compared to the second drop.  Woohoo!  Just like a roller coaster!

As the gravel settles more, I have to really keep in tune with the trail.  It has done some shifting, but if I keep my frame in  attack mode, I just plow through the small canyons and tears in the trail.

Anyway, it is my little escape into no man’s land.  I’ve yet to see anyone else on the trail, though I do see clues of other bikes and dirtbikes on it.

Chances are slim to none that I’ll ever attempt to climb this hill.

Crisp Fall Morning

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on September 21, 2009

In a few moments, I’ll be riding off towards work.  I had not been riding in for a few weeks, and was wondering why my attitude at work had gone just a little bit sour.  I think the key to happiness at work (apart from having that dream job of being a songwriter) is to get some exercise before work.  Also, the commute to work helps me to get focused and prepared.  I’m not so focused on the rat race that is associated with driving, but rather, I notice God’s creation.

Bicycling helps me to really appreciate the small things in life.  When riding home, it is a time to clear the cobwebs of work out of my mind, readying myself for the more valuable family time.  The Bible states that physical exercise profits a little.  I agree, that is some good wisdom.  It won’t be the cure for all of the world’s problems, but it helps, and it won’t hurt.

I hope everyone has a blessed day.  Take time to enjoy the finer points of God’s creation.

Vacation Time!

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on August 28, 2009

I cannot wait for next week’s vacation!  I plan on going up to New England, and thanks to my sister inlaw, we’re bringing a bike trailer.  So I’ll get to tow my kids around, which should be very fun!

Lately I’ve been so tired, that it has been very hard for me to get up on time.  I think I last rode in two weeks ago.  Today I actually got up in time, but was confronted with a huge rainstorm.  I’m hoping a vacation packed with a lot of riding will get me back in the saddle.

Our weekends lately have been spent working on the house making repairs and cleaning.  Our basement looks awesome, but the bicycles have collected dust.  Oh well, when life hands you lemons…

Last week, I was set on riding at the Denville day with the mayor and Kendra.  Unfortunately, mechanical issue prevented me from doing so.  I had bowered my sister-inlaw’s bicycle trailer for that ride, and while in the process of attaching it to my wife’s bicycle, I lost the quik release nut.  Spent the next hour on my hands and knees on the grass looking for this.  During that process, I managed to mangle my glasses, and while looking for my spare quick release set, I broke one of my wife’s lamps.  The day didn’t end as well as I planned.

My wife found the missing piece a couple days ago while weeding one of her garden beds.  Who knew something could mysteriously fly so far from the location where I knew I left it.

So, I’ll try to post some pictures of my adventures in New England.  You all enjoy the last few remaining weeks of summer!

Flying Sodas

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on August 17, 2009

How anticlimactic is it when throwing a large soda at a cyclist, only to miss?

Ask the goofy teenagers in the black SUV who tried that yesterday.  They are so lucky they didn’t come to a stop light immediately following their failed attempt at humor.

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on August 12, 2009

I’ve bumped into a Pete a couple times now.  He’s got like a 15 mile one way, compared to my 10 mile one way (if I take the route he rides).

Yesterday the chain kept slipping.  Pete gave me some great tips on checking to see if it is stretched out.  I guess you measure point to point at 12 inches and make sure it isn’t over by an eigth of an inch.  I’ll have to check that tonight.  I know the gears need a greasing and cleaning, and the chain could use some more grease.  It can really throw off your rythym if the bike doesn’t change into the gear you want it to.

I don’t have any aggressive driver stories, or anything extreme to mention.  Seems like drivers are adjusting to more bikes on the road, or I’m just tuning them out.  The occassional honk happens, but I’ve learned to not care about the feelings of a driver who might arrive 10 seconds later because I’m in their way.

It looks like summer finally arrived!  The humidity is dreadful right now, and the recorded temp on my cyclometer shows the old mercury hitting the low 90s.  Last night, when Pete caught up to me going up the hill on Zeek Road, we both had this look like we were enduring the worst form of torture.  That’s saying a lot because Pete is in much better shape than I am.

I have a planned vacation coming the first week of September.  We’re hoping to go up to New England to see family, but this time I’m bringing the bikes.  Hopefully we’ll have time so that my wife and I can get some fun rides in.  A couple years ago, I spent a couple hours riding around the town I grew up in, and it brought back my childhood.  I think bicycling slows the age process not just physically, but also mentally.  I remember riding past some of the old digs, and it almost felt like I was a 14 year old kid again with an entire world before me and the adventure of exploration was just around the corner.  I can’t wait for this vacation, I wish I had the money to purchase a bike trailer for the kids.

No riding today.  I am seriously tired today, and I thought I had a client visit.

Anyway, enough rambling.  Tell me your recent cycling adventures.

Skin peels like a banana

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 14, 2009

I’ll spare you any pictures, but I fell off today.  I was on a trail covered with gravel, and because my bike is rear heavy (panniers), it slipped out from under me, and I went head over handle bars into the trail. My first reaction was to make sure no one was looking.  My second reaction was to hope my laptop was not damaged (its fine).  My third was to check for any wounds.

Because I planted my hand in an attempt to break the fall, I suffered a minor flesh wound.  I’m sure I have cuts on my back that I haven’t checked out yet, but I’m ok.

Except the loose gravel, I’m trying to figure out how it happened.  It was so quick.  I wonder if I clamped down too hard on my front brake, and while going down hill, it pulled the rear tire up just enough to cause the spill.

Eventually I shook myself off, again made sure no one was looking, and continued on to work.

On Conquering a Hill

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on July 13, 2009

Last year, I wrote about a hill that defeated me. Union Hill Road. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

“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

Yesterday I was riding, and knew that I was near that terrible road.  For some reason, I got it set in my mind that I would be able to ride the hill without bailing.  The closer I got, the more I convinced myself that it wouldn’t be as bad this time, after all, I know have a year of dedicated riding under my belt.  Finally I came across the road where it intersects.  As I approached, I debated changing my mind.  Multiple excuses came to me, like the fact that I needed to have energy after the ride for a BBQ so that I could chow down on hamburgers without my jaw falling asleep.

Finally I crossed onto Union Hill.  My heart started racing as I grew more nervous over the anticipation of having to climb this beast.  I didn’t want to fail out on this road.  I lowered my gears, and after a few yards, succumbed to the granny gear.  Not good, I thought.

Climb I did.  Slowly, but at a manageable pace.  Eventually the pain became something I was able to ignore.  I forced myself to take deep long breaths.  Cars passing by were only mere distractions, but I did not falter.  As I continued up the gigantic hill, a truck full of teenagers passed.  While their attempt at a joke may have disgruntled me any other time, this time I took it as encouragement to continue my quest at defeating the dragon hill.

And so, on I continued…

Halfway through, I was tired.  I kept moving.  I cannot stop, or else lose my momentum, and if my foot plants once, that means the hill defeated me again.

After some time, it was just me and the hill.  I think the hill knew that I was ready today.  It tried to slow me with the its ally, the wind, but my mind was made up.  That son of a gun of a hill was going down.  I think I heard “Eye of the Tiger” filtering through the leaves from a nearby BBQ.  I was encouraged.

Then.

Hill crest.

There I was.  My legs slowed down as I raised the gearing.  I had defeated a once worthy nemesis.  Union Hill Road was now mine.

Tons of riding

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on June 29, 2009

My Specialized and I had a truly wonderful vacation (oh, and wife and kids too).  I rode down by the shore one day (this was with my father-inlaw’s hybrid), and had plenty of day trips around Denville, Rockaway, Morris Plains.  I even rode with a former co-worker, though I was trying to convince him to ride on the right side of the road, and not the sidewalk.  He drives a motorcycle, too so I was a little suprised.  He did ride safely on the quieter roads.

Of course, last day of vacation being yesterday, my last mile I scored a flat tire!  No repair kit, and I’m all out of spare tubes.  Nice!  That’s life.

Also, I wore bike shorts yesterday.  Pete the crazy cyclist would be proud.  Luckily, these are the kind with the extra layer, so I don’t show off my leg definition.  I’m taking these things in small steps, folks.  I’m sure some years down the road I’ll be shaving my legs like the rest of them, but for now, I’m sticking it  conservative style.  The bike shorts are very comfortable, though.

Funny thing, even though my inlaw’s bike is a hybrid, I felt like I was flying, when compared to my Specialized Hardrock.  Makes me wonder if I should just finally get an old steel road bike.  In fact, the guy down the street was selling an ancient steel bike for $50.00.  I don’t remember the name of the company, but it seemed Italian or French.  I know if I want to start getting some serious mileage, I will need a road or touring bike.

Vacation

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on June 27, 2009

I’ve had a cheap vacation staying at home with plenty of riding.  Not much else to say, I’m still in vacation mode right now.

Longest. Ride. Ever. (For Me).

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on May 24, 2009

33 Miles

Today I set out on a mission.  To break my record, which, though I don’t remember it, I pretended is somewhere in the 20’s for mileage distance.  I can’t remember any rides longer than 25 miles since I started riding again last year.

Here are the details of the ride, with some unprofessional photographs, and the first ever Shaky Metalcommuter Video!

The Start

I started out heading down Franklin road towards the south end of Denville (or Ward 4, according to all of those political signs out on the yards right now).  This is a rural part of town with winding hilly roads, and even a couple farms.  My first stop was at the Veterans Memorial Park on Zeek Road:

This is a nice park with soccer fields, baseball diamonds, a dog park, and…a tank!

Like any red blooded American dude, I had to stop.  I love tanks.  If anyone can tell me anything about this particular model, please do.  I know next to nothing about the intricacies of the American tank.  I do know they are awesome at blowing things up.  My Specialized looked great next to it, though I was a bit worried the tank would just crush it.  Doubtful, because the Specialized is made of aluminum alloy, which sounds like Terminator.

Insane

After confronting an American tank, I swung past the local insanity asylum.  Greystone Park, in New Jersey, is a must do for all Weird NJ trekkers.  I didn’t go past the haunted building, but I did catch a sign as proof that they weren’t able to put me into the cuckoo’s nest.

I once read that the original hospital had the largest building footprint in the world until the Pentagon was constructed.  I would not recommend trespassing because you’ll get arrested.  There are cops stationed at the road entrances waiting for midnight runners.

Patriot’s Path

Eventually I ended up on Sussex Avenue in Morristown.  I finally spotted the paved portion of the Patriot’s Path.  It was a nice break from the roads, though I was confronted with more uphills later on.  This was about 3 miles, and no one was on the road.

Village City

Eventually I ended up on Washington Street in Morristown.  I didn’t stop to hang out, though.

I followed South Street down to the Loantanka Park.  I have visited this park plenty of times, and love it.  There are a few miles of paved trails, and a dirt trail that takes you through a brook a few times.  Fun, easy, and a top of the line park.

Funny, I drafted a couple newbie roadies on the way to the park.  The girl was in the lead, and the guy was trying to hammer it to break me.  Heh, first time on the road, probably.  I let them go when I turned into the park.  Not bad for a 240 lb guy on a mountain bike, carrying a pack on the rear rack.

Timeout for the word

I took a much needed break and spent sometime studying the book of Exodus.

There were plenty of recreational riders with the kids, a cool thing.  Again, this is a favorite park of mine.  I guess I hold some sentimental memories for this park.

I then headed down the trail towards Madison.

More paved trails in the woods.  Morris County New Jersey is a nice place to live.  This one taken while in motion.

Sweet Tea

I decided to stop at Atlanta Bread in downtown Madison.  Lori and I spent many of our “honeymoon” years living in downtown Madison.  Madison is a cool little town with a lot of boutique shops.  Also, for a conservative town, they are really bike friendly.  It seemed like there were “Share The Road” bicycle signs every 50 yards, and they painted out bike lanes on most of the major roads.

Ymmm…sweet tea hit the spot.  While there, my wife called.  She locked the keys in the car, and was at her brother’s house in Parsippany.  It was decided she’d just wait for me to get home.  Good, because I was a long way from home.

This is my 30th birthday gift.  I love it, and can’t imagine carrying a backpack ever again.

Madison-Morristown Traction Line

From there, I headed towards the Traction Line.  Or, I tried to find it, going down side streets off of Madison Ave.,  only to realize that the Traction Line entrance in Madison is off of Park Ave., which runs on the other side of the train tracks.

I did catch an entrance at the Convent Station stop.  I used to ride on this for exercise back before my bike commuting days.

You can see the sky grew dark.  That is because it started raining.  As soon as I entered the dangerous intersection on the Morristown side, it started to downpour.  Honestly, the rain was refreshing.  No big deal.

Through Morristown onto Morris Plains, and back up my familiar bike commute.  Here’s a picture of the Mt. Tabor park entrance.

If you like old Victorians, then you’ll love Mt. Tabor.  Some very interesting architecture lay beyond these gates.

I leave you with a terrible video of the last minute of my ride.  This was taken with my digital camera, and you can tell my attempt at creative angles failed miserably, and the auto-focus feature had a hard time keeping up with my pace.

All in all, it was a great ride.  I’ll be feeling it tomorrow.

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