Archive for the 'cycling' Tag  

Bicycle commuting update

December 13th, 2009

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It is now solidly mid-December and I’m still doing my 3-mile (each way) commute by bicycle. I started biking to work for this season around the beginning of April and purchased a dedicated commuting bike on April 21st. Since then I’ve logged 770 miles commuting just about every day; rain, snow, or shine.

Commuter Bike

The commuter bike, a Giant “Tran Send”, has received some accoutrements over the course of the year: storage, improved lights, and winter rubber.

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Hinesburg Town Forest

September 13th, 2009

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Today Spencer and I had a great rainy day mountain bike ride in the Hinesburg Town Forest.

The blue line is our GPS track, the purple are the trails (provided by

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It was a bit damp and cloudy, but the trails weren’t too muddy the woods were beautiful. A fine time was had by all (especially Hudson, the pooch).

24 Hours of Great Glen

August 15th, 2009

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This past weekend we headed to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for the 24 Hours of Great Glen mountain bike relay race. I had the pleasure of riding on a 5-person team with Spencer Taylor, Serena Taylor, Steffie Gould, and Simon Bird. Sarah and Celia filled in as our support crew.

24 Hours of Great Glen GPS

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First Night Mountain Ride (and Mini-Review of the CygoLite MityCross)

July 31st, 2009

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In preparation for the 24 Hours of Great Glen mountain bike race next weekend I purchased a CygoLight MityCross 350-Lumen LED headlight (on sale for $170). It arrived on the FEDEX truck yesterday and I took it out for this evening (9-10:30pm) for my first-ever night mountain-ride. Having only ridden by day, night riding was quite a change, and definitely a blast. We received heavy rains yesterday, so the rolling limestone-ledge single-track of Battel Woods in Middlebury was moderately muddy with very slick rocks and roots. While I had a little (low-powered) flashlight as backup, the MityCross was the only light I used during the ride.

I mostly rode with the light on my helmet and battery in my CamelBack which worked great on all of the trails from super-twisty handle-bar-wide singletrack to wider double-track. I certainly had plenty of light to see and I was pleasently reminded of mogul-skiing advise: Stop looking at your feet, observe strategically. Lifting my head a bit and looking 15-20 feet down the trail (on single-track) rather than at my feet helped my speed pick up measurably. There were a couple of time while I was exploring some new single-track that I came around a large tree in a hairpin-turn to be surprised by a drop or climb that I wasn’t expecting, but I don’t think more light would have helped shine through an obstacle.

I tried one short stretch of double-track with the light on my bars and found that while the the depth-perceptions is much better (as everyone says), it was really distracting to have the light twitching back and forth as I dodged rocks. With the light on the bars I was able to cleanly bunny-hop a series of 3, 6, and 8-inch logs, whereas with the light on my head I miss-judged the big one and clipped it in the air with my tires — praise-be to 6″ of suspension travel.

Overall the MityCross 350 is plenty of light to get out into the woods and ride after dark. More light would always be nice, but I had a great hour and a half ride with just this light. My plan is to get a high-powered LED flashlight to complement this light and provide depth-perception on the handlebars, but the MityCross was more than enough to get started.

On my ride home after leaving the woods I tested the “throw” of the light by riding down my dark road as fast as I could. I found that the beam of the MittyCross allowed me to resolve details about 100ft (30yards/meters) ahead which made me comfortable riding up to ~20-25mph. Beyond that, the road seemed kind of dim and fuzzy and I had to really strain to see further. While adequate for a leisurely road ride (or as fast as I can get the mountain bike), I wouldn’t want to bomb down a hill at 50mph with only this light.

(Note: cross-posed at

Newest addition to the stable

April 21st, 2009

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Tran Send DX

Tran Send DX photo from the Giant website

I’ve been regularly bicycle commuting since 2002 — though only since 2007 has my commute increased to 3 miles each way up from less than one. I commute pretty exclusively on my Cannondale road bike, as the full-suspension mountain bike with downhill tires is way too slow and the unicycle is even slower.
My road bike, a Cannondale R3000si (CAD5)
The road bike is wonderfully fast and a blast to cruise through traffic with. What is less fun is carrying my laptop bag and a duffel-bag for my gi (heavy cotton Aikido training clothes). A backpack is a little better at handling the weight than the two smaller bags, but hotter due to more contact with my back.

After a few wet rides last week and increasing frustration with the weight of the laptop and sweat-soaked gi I decided it was time to get a dedicated commuter bike with fenders (for the wet) and a rack with panniers (to get the crap off my back). I test-rode a Trek at the Middlebury Bike Center and a Kona and the Giant “Tran Send DX” at the Middlebury Alpine Shop.

While the Trek and Kona felt like perfectly good bikes and were reasonably priced, the Giant felt wonderfully peppy and nimble for a pretty beefy bike. I really like how its geometry manages to maintain an efficient peddling position while still being quite upright. The other bikes didn’t feel quite so efficient. What fully sealed the deal was that the Tran Send came with a custom rack and fenders that felt really solid and fit well on the bike, all for the lowest total cost.

Giant Tran Send DX

After riding the new bike home I mounted a set of head and tail lights for the bi-weekly rides home in the dark. The tail light will be much more visible on this bike than my road bike as I was able to bolt it to the back of the rack where it won’t get covered up by my coat or bags like the under-seat mounting position does. I also picked up some rain pants and ordered a set of panniers to complete my foul and fair weather setup and plan to ride rain or shine through at least November.

First Ride of the Season

March 11th, 2009

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After getting several inches of snow on Monday, the weather has now warmed up and I was able to get out for my first bike ride of the season. It was a pretty blustery evening with west winds gusting up to 35mph, but was quite warm at about 50°F. I ended up going out for an hour and covering about 15 miles.

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After having the wind at my back for the first 20 minutes to East Middlebury I got it into my head that I wanted to ride up Route 125 to Ripton. Halfway up the first pitch my legs disabused me of that notion and I decided to ride down to the Shard Villa instead. I enjoyed the rest of my hills, but that first pitch was more than I was prepared for.


All in all it was great to be back in the saddle and I am looking forward to a lot of riding this summer. Last year I only covered 527 miles, we’ll see what this year brings.

In Praise of the Bicycle

April 13th, 2004

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I just came accross this great short essay entitled, “In Praise of the Bicycle”.

…Man on his feet is thermodynamically more efficient than any motorized vehicle and most animals. For his weight, he performs more work in locomotion than rats or oxen, less than horses or sturgeon.

…The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well.

Its a nice read if you like cycling, commuting via bike, or are stuffed in your car in rush-hour traffic.