Metal Bike Commuter

Good ride recently.

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on April 3, 2009

Yes. I’ve been a slacker. I chickened out as the winter set in. I had to meet my wife for lunch, because only one out of two cars are working.

The dead car is another story, and entirely frustrating.

Anyway, I put the bike on the roof rack (after a decidedly frustrating attempt at repairing some things, which they’re fixed now, but I was still angry), and she dropped me off at work.

I rode home on the bicycle with my new saddle bag I received for my 30th birthday. Wow, that thing can carry a ton of stuff! The weight was off of my shoulders, and on the rear rack. The first few yards, I had to get used to the balance redistribution, but after that, I was golden. I think I imagined I was able to ride faster, but that was probably my imagination.

I hope to jump into it next week, but I really can’t ride too often until I get my piece of junk car back on the road. Because my job requires jump and run client visits, I need a car. Last year I left the thing in the parking lot the entire season, while I made use of my more enjoyable mode of transportation.

Hopefully this weekend allows for sometime to do some rec riding around the area. I need the exercise and the respite from the madness that is my busy life!

So now that the season is in full bloom, I should be updating here more often. Any of you readers who are still hanging with the metalcommuter have any stories to tell regarding your daily commute?


And I’m Back

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on September 17, 2008
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We had a nice time on vacation.  The rental car we were using overheated on the last day, so we had some issues getting a replacement, but the family is safe and sound back home in NJ.

I really had no time to ride, and as mentioned, no way of carting my bicycle up to New England.  I did stop in at a small bicycle shop in Amherst, MA.  Amherst is a pretty little college town (well, big, I believe there are 2 colleges, and Umass represented in Amherst) with a ton of boutique shops, restaurants, and a sweet town green to hang out on.  When we stopped over, they were just tearing down their farmer’s market, so I didn’t get a chance to taste the local produce.

I supported the bicycle shop by purchasing a much needed rear rack.  I almost pulled the trigger on panniers, but decided the $200.00 would be best spent elsewhere.

The rack is now installed but unused.  This morning’s ride was spent like usual, with a huge backpack on my shoulders.  Since we just received our homesteader’s rebate (this is a government waste program that spends money to give you back money if you own property and pay property taxes – why can’t they just cut the taxes in the first place?  I digress), I plan on going to a local shop and getting me some panniers.  Preferably the kind that can be thrown over the shoulders.

Anyway, it is good to be back and on the road.  My monthly mileage accumulation is down lower than average at this point, so I have a ton of catching up to do.

The Hills, they kill!

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on August 5, 2008
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Oh man, I am sore today.  I took the hilly route, and phew, I’m done.  Recovery day today, though I may get in a few miles tonight.  Even the soles of my feet hurt today.

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!

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.

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.

Weekend Ride!

Posted in bike commute by metaljaybird on June 30, 2008
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I added about 30 miles this weekend, which brings my monthly total for June 2008 to 120 miles.  That is double the 60 miles I rode in May, so I’m hoping July will add another 60 miles to finish at 180 miles or so.  My yearly total is at 180 miles, coincidentally, though I think it may be more as my odometer rolled to 300, as I have ridden on occasion before I started bike commuting.

I doubt I’ll get to ride today, so I’ll leave my June total at 180.  Not bad for a newbie.  Though it could be better.  I hope to have 300 miles completed in August.  This will require a lot more weekend riding, which is fine.

Unfortunately, I missed the June Morristown Critical Mass.  From the pictures that Kendra posted, it appears I missed a good time.


14 Miles mid-afternoon:

I started out crossing 46 towards the local park.  Rode past Gardner Field and hung a right on a road I haven’t noticed before.  Never got the name, but I can find it again.  This was a deadend, and my curiosity got to me, so I rode to the end.  Happily, I found a bike trail at the end (score!).  The trail ran for maybe 2 miles and spilled out onto another road.  Since I was wondering aimlessly, I had no idea where I was, and cared not either.  I eventually made my way to Meriden Road in Rockaway.  This was a picturesque country road with little traffic, but a ton of hills, if I can recall correctly.

I eventually made my way down to Rockaway Valley Road, which runs into Diamond Spring.  Took a detour back in town at Hepner Park.  This is a pretty little park with a small pond, and some dirt trails through the woods.  I got lost (again) when the trail inexplicably ends in the middle of the woods.  I rode down to a creek and noticed a huge white tent off in the distance with a ton of laughter from children.  Turned it around and proceeded to get attacked by these nasty little bugs with wings that are shaped like little diamonds.  Yuck.

Saturday was really hot.  When I rolled back home, I was spent.  Funny how hills and trails can do that to you.



16 Miles – Mid afternoon

Though I tacked on a couple extra miles on Saturday, it was a lot easier.  I stuck to the roads.  Check out the route that I mapped.  I believe I got most of it, though I did a few laps around my neighborhood just to bring my odometer over 300 miles.

Sunday 6/30 Ride
Find more Bike Rides in Denville, New Jersey

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