From Petrol to Pedals

From Petrol to Pedals. This blog chronicles one man's obsession with commuting by bike.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Building Bike Lanes Creates Twice as Many Jobs as Road Repairs

Is anyone really surprised at this?

After doing some initial research on Cars vs. Bikes infrastructure it's very clear that cars are extremely expensive on a city. Go to Google and type "how much does it cost to build a road?". The answer will blow your mind: $$$ millions to holy-shat-that-can-feed-a-lot-of-people $$$$ billions of dollars.

When will people start to realize the drain cars and roads have on our infrastructure? Just saying.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Rider Guide: Winter Riding

A lot of people do not like riding in Winter time for obvious reasons, but it's really not that bad. With a little extra precautions you can by just fine.

Here are some tips for riding in the winter:
  1. GEAR - Wear the proper gear. Depending on your distance and weather, you may opt for something as simple as a jacket or as complex as full rain gear. If you live in the Pacific Northwest as I do, you know how essential rain gear can be. I am huge fan of Showers Pass and highly recommend their jackets and convertible pants.No doubt the gear can be $$$, but you'll break-even on your return after 1 season of riding. Two other essentials in my arsenal are a) booties aka shoe covers & b) bottom baselayer aka tights. The first keeps your feet warm and dry and the second keeps your butt and legs warm and dry. Both of these items are really nice-to-haves BUT they make riding much more enjoyable in winter.
    1. As an example, here is my regular every-day winter gear:
      1. Rain jacket
      2. Convertible Rain Pants
      3. Full tights for under 45F.
      4. Booties.
      5. Baselayer under my jacket.
      6. Waterproof gloves. Another MUST for those with long soggy commutes in the PNW.
      7. Waterproof backpack. Another MUST if located in a rainy place.
      8. Regular old winter hat.
  2. VISIBILITY - Make no assumptions in winter. People often drive in the rain with their windows foggy and can't make heads or tails out of you or a tree on the road. Make yourself seen! As previewed in the gear section above, most biking jackets and pants have a lot of reflectors on them. This is very important in the dark and may save your life. If you are going to ride with gear not-specifically designed for biking, I recommend adding a few reflective items like leg bands, vests, or whatever, the point is to be seen not look cool. Just don't be this guy

  3. LIGHTING - Depending on where you live, you may be required by law to have specific lights on your rig. Regardless, it's a good idea to a front head light and a rear light. They aren't expensive, but are without a doubt should be on your bike. I'm a fan of the aftermarket giant Planet Bike and their inexpensive yet functional head lights. As for the rear Portland Design Works is king.

  4. ADDITIONAL - There are a few additional things to consider when riding in the winter. It's cold out and sometimes it's you-can't-feel-your-toes-fingers-and-arse cold out. This will affect your muscles and endurance, so take it slow and make sure to stretch out. Lastly, have fun out there. That's what riding is alllllllllllllllllllll about.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to Talk About Cycling to a Conservative

I recently came across a great read on entitled "How to Talk About Cycling to a Conservative" (thanks Rach!) that really made me wonder about bikes and politics.

I'm not trying to debate the pros/cons of one party vs another, BUT I really have to ask...

Are there really Conservatives that ride bikes?

It seems to go against everything they stand for.

Let's take a few examples that come to mind:
  • Bikers have to share the same road as cars.
    • Liberal viewpoint: Rightfully so, we are all equal and should support each other.
    • Conservative viewpoint: GRRRRR. Get the hell out of my way hippie! How the hell am I supposed to get my kids to church and then soccer practice on time with you going so slow?! At least I'm driving my new Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, it gets 21MPG. Hell yeah! America! Fuck Yeah!
  • 1% of funding goes to support cycling infrastructure.
    • Liberal viewpoint: This is going to be tough to support given our struggling economy. Still, we need to create jobs. How bout a new highway in...........Ohio!?.
    • Conservative viewpoint: Are you effing kidding me? Money for cycling? They should use the sidewalks.
  • Global Warming:
    • Liberal viewpoint: Cycling is a great alternative to walking.
    • Conservative viewpoint: Global Warning is really a "myth" like Godzilla, $1 beers, and McDonald's Monopoly. Al Gore made it up as he can't invent the Internet again.
  • It's UNAmerican to bike:
    • Liberal viewpoint: Everyone deserves the right to bike anywhere and everywhere regardless of the route or time of day or planet in which they live
    • Conservative viewpoint: "Hi, we are 'Merica, we believe in guns, oil, and wearing beautiful Red, White, and Blue outfits to any event not matter how formal. This ain't no Europe where people wear capris, bowling shoes, and ride bikes casually.
All kidding aside, to me it seems virtually impossible for a Conservative to stand by their party yet still ride a bike. It's the ultimate oxymoron. I hope someone can prove me wrong! Are you a conservative and rider? Let me know!

Add caption

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Riding in winter

Riding in the winter can be a daunting task, especially living in the Pacific Northwest.

Take a look at this photo (thanks PDX underdog!):

Tonight's ride home included:
a) wind
b) heavy rains
c) darkness! (you gotta say it out loud like Chappelle describes Charlie Murphhhhhhhhy)
d) fog

Welcome to Portland in December! 

By the time I got home, everything was soaked. I mean EVERYTHING. So much for rainproof gloves, pants, jacket, jockstrap, goggles, and hat.

So this leads me to my it worth it?

I replayed this question over and over again in my head every day this week. The answer is yes...

I was approach by a co-worker this afternoon who saw me on my way to the changing room.

Co-worker: Wow, did you bike today?
Me: Yeah, it sucks outside
Co-worker: I just got into walking and bought some waterproof pants and it's way too wet outside for me to even walk.
Me: It's actually not bad when you have waterproof pants, booties, and jacket.
Co-worker: Wow, I didn't know that. Hmmm, maybe I should start walking again. You're great inspiration.
Me: And that's what keeps me riding.

Sometimes in life, you do things and you know they aren't going to be uber fun or 100% awesome, but rather you do them to make an impact on someone else. We all have a responsibility to lead by example. Whether it's picking up the McDonald's wrapper on your dog walk or helping a neighbor who is locked-out. 

Do it. I promise you won't regret it. 

Who knows, maybe my co-worker will start walking at work and have a positive change in her life.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why Biking to Work Rocks

Since today is my first day back in the saddle in nearly two weeks (thanks to SkyHigh for the ├╝ber stiff back & supporting The Lady with food poisoning) I feel I should discuss why riding is much better than driving a car.

Here are my personal top 10 reasons why riding to work rocks! 

8. You are promoting a positive change in our car obsessed culture

My all-time favorite bike poster from

7. You are making an environmental impact
Warning: link is to an awesome page 

6. Increase your sexual stamina

"Since sex can be an act of endurance, improving cardiovascular fitness with aerobic activity such as walking, running, cycling or swimming for at least 30 minutes, three times per week, will help both partners perform longer and more often"

5.  You've got better things to do than sit in traffic. Traffic makes you go batty, hate the world, and want to drive off a bridge.

Another day in New Delhi and another fit of road rage. When does it end?
4. It makes your butt look good. Not making this one up or just singling out the ladies. Trust me, I'm a rider, I know.

this could be your butt!

3. You save (a lot) of money.
- Use a website tool like to track your mileage. It took me about 7 months to get my full return on the investment of a new bike + gear. It's pretty realistic given insurance, gas, wear & tear, + maintenance.

2. You actually look cool (except you Scott!). Unlike some douche in a Hummer.

Notice the keg on the rack!


1. Einstein claimed to do his best thinking while on his bike. I can't tell you how many ideas I come up with while riding. Not just shitty ideas either, but actual gooooood ideas. Riding actually gives you time to process your thoughts in a relaxing setting. You actually feel refreshed and you will be a better person. I have noticed a direct correlation to my personal demeanor when I ride vs drive.

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." - Albert Einstein

Look at THAT smile!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ah-ha moment!

So why do I ride? What made me go from being a lemming behind the wheel to a ridoholic?

It's pretty simple...almost all of us have two feet (sorry Larry!).

As the story goes, I attended a going away dinner for The Lady(TM) and I noticed that 90% of the people in attendance had commuted by bike to work that day. This isn't too surprising given Portland's Platinum Status as a bike city, BUT these people all lived on the east side of town and we were in the Tron aka Beaverton That's at least a 15 mile ride, one-way. Suddenly, my "It's TOO far" excuse was no longer valid.

And that's when I had the A-HA! moment. IF they can do it, why can't I?

Doing a little math, I estimated I would only be extending my commute by 30 minutes total by riding in a bike vs sitting in traffic. Oh and by the way, I could save money, burn 700 calories an hour, and do a positive thing for the environment? Count me in sucka. 

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl - The Bike Song
Uploaded by emipubfrance. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

So why Biking? Yeah, like electricity

When people ask me why I have taken to using my own pedal power for transportation, I often lack the proper words to answer this very question. I tend to fumble my words and come across as being overly passionate or just plain whackadoodle. Can I really answer that in one sentence?

I recently watched Billy Elliot with my wife and if you have not seen this, do it. Especially if you are American as the BBC does an outstanding job.

Right, so why Biking? As adapted from a famous scene in Billy Elliot when the young lad is asked why he likes dancing... 

Me: Don't know. Sorta feels good. Sorta stiff and that, but once I get going... then I like, forget everything. And... sorta disappear. Sorta disappear. Like I feel a change in my whole body. And I've got this fire in my body. I'm just there. Flyin' like a bird. Like electricity. Yeah, like electricity.

That pretty much sums it up. Yeah, like electricity.