Sunday, October 30, 2016

Coffeeneuring Finishers 2016

It's that time of the year - coffeeneuring season.  And people are finishing.  And here are the maps of the finishers and the places where we went coffeeneuring this year (and in 2014 and 2015).  Mary of Chasing Mailboxes is updating the map as people let her know that they finished the challenge.  If the first three maps are blank then it means that no one has finished and let Mary know.

First, the map of finishers by state:

And the same map zoomed into the Washington D.C. area:

And the map of finishers by city:

And finally, where coffee (and other eligible beverages) were consumed:

How these maps are made.

And if you want to add your coffeeshops to the map, please check this post on how to do so.  If you need permission, email newenglandbicyclist [at]  Please let me know your gmail account since that is required by Google, not me.  You don't need to do anything if you have added to this map in the past except add more stops.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The first few minutes after a collision

Josh Zisson, of Bike Safe Boston and an attorney specializing in bike law, offers a couple of important thoughts on what to do when you are in an accident.  The first is to collect two pieces of important information.  One piece, the driver's contact information, can be hard to get if the driver doesn't cooperate, but you can get additional information by simply getting their license plate number.  The second piece, the names of witnesses, could be harder.  There may not be any witnesses or they may not have time, or the desire, to get involved.  But if you get both, you should be in good shape.  He second thought was formalized into a card that prompts you for a more complete set of data that will help you out.  I have one of those cards.  I'm a big fan of Josh and sort of memorized what to do in case of a collision, not that I was expecting one.  I'm a pretty careful cyclist and a pretty slow one at that.  And I ride the outside of bike lanes to stay away from the door zone and I don't think anyone will do what the law requires them to.  I also follow traffic laws in all cases.

A few weeks ago I was heading east on Mass Ave, going to work.  I was riding cautiously, as I always do, averaging about 12 MPH when I entered an intersection a second after a car did.  The driver was creating what cyclists refer to as a left cross, which means a car takes a left turn and doesn't yield to oncoming traffic, like me.  I didn't have anytime to slow down.  I believe I hit my brakes but I still slammed into the car and was thrown off my bike onto the hood of the car and slid off onto the pavement, ruining my day.  The crash itself wasn't horrible.  I didn't brake anything although I bruised both knees and my thigh.  I had a couple of cuts on my left arm.  But I didn't hit my head on anything and my face was fine.  I had just gone from 12 MPH to zero in less than a second.  I don't recommend doing this at home.  I'm curious to know how far you would have to fall from to get the same impact speed but I've been kept busy between work and my family to figure that one out.

So, as I said, I didn't hit my head so I was fortunate in being as able as possible in responding to this new, post accident world.  The first thing I did was jump up and assess myself and I felt like I was largely intact.  The second thing I did was pull my bike off the road as the driver, who stuck around, pulled his car off the road.  He was a livery driver and had two passengers in the car, who were asking me if I was alright.  I'm sure it looked worse than it was.  I then noticed that my bike wouldn't roll straight and I thought, "I want to call the police because there is property damage."

The third thing I did was look for a pencil in my pannier but realized Josh's post accident card wasn't in my bag.  I also realized that I had nothing to write on.  I was a bit overcharged at this point and realized I might be in shock although I'm not sure if that is true.  I worked to slow down and consider how to continue.  I realized that I could take pictures of the driver's license and registration using my phone which, surprisingly wasn't broken since I hit my thigh right where I had the phone in my pocket.  I then managed to look up the non emergency police number and called them and asked them to come, which they did quickly.

The first thing that the officer asked me was if I was alright, which I responded in the affirmative.  He asked me if I needed an ambulance and I said no.  He asked me what happened and I told him.  He also asked me if I was wearing a helmet, which I was.  He then asked the driver what had happened and driver told the officer the same thing as what I said.  It didn't take much to describe what happened.

I felt pain in my left thigh but didn't think it was major.  But then I tried to bend my knees and the pain in my thigh was overwhelming so I decided that I would go to the hospital.  Just then the paramedics arrived and started checking me out while I was standing.  They poked and prodded and apparently decided that nothing was broken.  Still, my thigh was clearly a mess and I was more than happy to check it out.

At one point I realized that my GPS was still running and put it on pause.  I almost thought, "I should delete this ride" but then, luckily, I saved the track.  The GPS shows me stopping at all red lights lights and going about 12 MPH when I suddenly stopped.  When the police officer asked, I had estimated my speed at between 12 and 15 MPH.  It turns out I didn't need the GPS backup but it was nice to have.  I have a friend who was called in as an expert witness for a less fortunate person who was killed by a truck driver.  He is using the GPS track, along with data on Strava, to disprove the truck driver's story and prove that the cyclist followed his same safe riding habits (which couldn't account for a driver not paying attention).  I have considered not recording my commutes on the Garmin but I now think I will continue that habit.

I was aware enough to find out what the officer was planning to write in his report (that the driver would be cited and he was) before the paramedics dragged me into the ambulance.  I also watched my bike put in the back of a police SUV.  They wanted me to leave it on the street locked but I wanted the evidence preserved since the bike was clearly a mess (it turned out to be far worse than I initially thought, with the fork, the top tube, and down tube bent, among other damage).

So that's the first 15 minutes or so after the accident.  The insurance issues haven't been bad. The fact that the driver was cited led to the insurance adjuster stating that the driver was 100% at fault and making the process easier for me.

Medically I should be alright and I was very happy that I went to the ER.  When I was in the room waiting for the doctor, I noticed that my left knee was quite swollen, which led to x-rays which determined that nothing was broken.  I have full range of motion and my MD, who I saw in a followup the five days after the collision, thought no ligaments or tendons were damaged.  While I was in some pain for a while, which woke me up in the night when I turned over onto the knee, that's almost cleared up.  I still have pain if I try to kneel on that knee.  At my doctor's advice, I've been driving so I can rest my knee but I hope to be riding three to four weeks after the collision but I won't be bound to that, should I still need time to heal.  The pain in my thigh was diagnosed as a hematoma, which is no longer painful but I have ugly bruising that is just appearing now as the hematoma is breaking down.

While this was unwanted, painful, unpleasant, and a drain in time and other ways, I was indeed lucky.  I would much rather have hit the car than have entered the intersection a second earlier and had the car broadside me.

One further downside to the collision is that a colleague saw me from a bus as I was standing and getting checked out by the paramedics.  He mentioned this in a group meeting and I think it put, or renewed, the fear of cycling into most of the people present at that meeting.  I don't think that the collision alone would make my wife want me to stop commuting to work on my bike but the recent fatal collision in Porter Square has given me new fear of drivers.  I've been cut off by trucks and cars at that same intersection and while I can avoid it with a longer route to work, I can't avoid all dangerous intersections.  But I will be more careful than ever when I ride.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Reformatory Branch Trail with the family

Today was the D2R2 and I wasn't there.  I rode the 2009 100K version, the 2013 Green River Ride, and extended versions of the Green River Ride in 2014 and 2015.  I tried to put this year's ride on the family calendar but somehow didn't manage to do it and the morning was taken and I didn't get out to the valley.  I grew up in the valley and lived there for half my life and rode in the hills many times over the years I lived there and since then.  I was sad to miss the ride.

I did get some dirt miles in today with my family, riding from Bedford to Concord on the Reformatory Branch Trail.  It was the first time we rode it and it was great fun.  Our older boy rode it on his mountain bike and it was his longest ride to date - 9 miles.  Our younger boy came with me on a trail-a-bike behind my Surly Cross Check.  My wife rode her new Soma Buena Vista.  The trail wasn't heavily trafficked like the Minuteman but there was a substantial number of people riding, walking, and running.  But the trail surface slowed everyone down so we weren't quite as stressed with keeping the 8 year old on the right side of the trail.

We made a couple of stops at the observation tower overlooking wetlands at the Concord Unit of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.  I've stopped by on rides in the last few years but my wife hasn't been there in a while so she appreciated checking it out with the boys.  And it was a Poke stop so the boys were thrilled to stop there.  And it was enchanted on the way back and we met the person who did the enchanting.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't fret.  I'd prefer that I didn't know anything about Pokemon Go.

We also stopped in Concord center, which was easily and safely accessible from the trail.  We ate at the Main Street Grill and had ice cream there as well.  We also wandered around town looking for Pokemon gyms and other Poke stops.  My sons took over the gym at the Concord common (that one in front of the Colonial Inn.

Overall it was a great day and everyone had enough to eat so we all had energy to get back to the car.  I'm pretty sure my wife likes her bike more after riding on the trail.

The meadows from the observation deck.

Our bikes.
Strava, just to prove it happened:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bikes that I have owned (and some history)

Somehow I have managed to own only a relatively small number of bikes over my life, despite owning three bikes right now.  That number might seem large, depending on your perspective.  These are the bikes that I have owned and something about how I used them.

(1) My first bike was a single speed with a banana seat.  Much of my memory of it was riding down the street on my first successful ride, some months before the John Kennedy assassination.  I'm sure there was more use but memory fails me here.  It remains an important bike because it was the bike I learned to ride on.

(2) There was a single speed that I owned somewhere between that first bike and my three speed.  My memory is foggy about this one but I do recall that it had a light integrated into the frame and the light was powered by D cells.  I'm sure the light was less useful than the IQX on my current road bike.

(3) I owned  a three speed briefly in 1973.  I bought it to help with a paper route that I was just starting.  My paper route included a subsidized housing project for elderly people, next door to the low income housing project, and I delivered their papers for a few weeks.  I would leave my bike on the sidewalk and drop the paper at the doors.  As I dropped a paper off, I looked back and a guy was grabbing my bike and I raced over and grabbed it.  He was spinning around, saying "it's my bike" as I said the same thing.  He was bigger and won, throwing me to the ground and stealing my bike.  I stopped delivering papers that day.

(4) I started working at local grocery store a month before my fifteen birthday, a job I would keep through high school.  I bought a Sears Free Spirit, which in my mind was an English racer: it had ten speeds and a drop handlebar.  I rode it to work and back and sometimes rode it out of town with one or two of my brothers.  We rode from Springfield to Amherst through Holyoke and South Hadley and also from Springfield to West Granville, to a stream in the state forest there.  I've checked since and these rides were about 40 and 50 miles respectively.  I had a odometer and speedometer on this bike that gave the same numbers.  It must have been accurate but I recall once seeing that I was riding 50 MPH down the north side of the notch on Rte 116 heading towards Amherst, which seem unlikely now.  I owned this bike from 1973 through 1976.  This bike gave me my first taste of freedom allowing me the opportunity to leave the blighted neighborhood I grew up in, if only temporarily.

(5) After high school, I bought a real road bike (at least in my eyes then), a Motobecane Nomade Sprint.  I kept this bike until 1985, right through college and beyond.  I went on my first tour with it, riding from Saint Albans, VT down to Amherst, MA with my then girlfriend.  I was a connoisseur of tiny stream fishing back then and carried a five foot Ugly Stick and fished big trout out of small holes in tiny streams for dinner on that tour.

(6) In 1985 I decided that I would do a big tour and bought a real touring bike, sort of, a 1984 model Trek 520.  This was a full production bike and not a frameset, which is what friends of mine bought a couple of years earlier.  It was more of randonneuring bike then.  At that time, the Trek 620 was the full touring bike with eyelets for racks and fenders, including low riders.  I rode the 520 to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and all over New England that summer.  I used it on a number of tours after that including another New England tour (before I left to live in the upper Midwest in the late 80s), across Colorado, around the Olympic peninsula, around the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, around the upper Midwest, and several shorter tours in New England.  I used it as my road bike until 1997.  I last toured on it on Labor Day weekend in 2001, riding from Machias to Lubec, ME and back.  After that tour it was on loan to three friends consecutively, two using it as a commuter and one of them pushing the bike to a 19.5 MPH average on a sprint triathlon.  I donated the bike to Bike Not Bombs in 2005.

(7) I replaced the Trek 520 as my road bike in 1997 with a new Lemond Alpe d'Huez.  I could never make that bike go much faster than I rode my 520 but I had 21,000 miles of fun on it, including a lot of riding hilly New England routes.  I gifted this bike to a friend after I took possession of my current road bike in 2007.  He was still using it as his road bike the last time I heard from him.

(8) My current road bike is an Independent Fabrication Club Racer purchased in 2007.  It's still fun to get on this bike. This is my first custom bike and while I love riding it, I hope it's not my last custom bike.

(9) My commuter/dirt road bike/child hauler is a Surly Cross Check from 2009.  The last time I hauled a child on it was a couple of weeks ago.  It remains a great commuter. Update: this bike was totaled in a crash in September 2016. I survived unbroken.

(10) I bought a Swobo Novak last year as a neighborhood bike that also see use as an occasional commuter and a snow bike (with appropriate tires).

I have plans for my next bike but that's a couple of years off yet.

How many bikes have you owned?  And how many do you have in your stable today?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Commuting stories: near miss

A lot of bike riders are thinking some other bike riders are doing a pretty awful job following the rules.  And it seems that some aren't following the rules.  Just this morning, at Somerville Ave and Washington St in Somerville, I was noticing that one of the three bike boxes wasn't filled by cars (yes, drivers don't universally follow the rules either).  Just then a large group of students led by teachers was crossing in front of us on the crosswalk.  The light changed and the cars and cyclists waited.  But then another cyclist pulled into the intersection and cut through students to get on his way.  As another cyclist said to me, "now I see why everyone hates us".  It looked pretty bad although no one was hit.  I've long thought that the idiots (or bullies or massholes) who do such things on bikes probably drive like that as well.  And someone put that in writing for me just the other day:

I've been harassed by some of those bullies lately.  I've had people run red lights and cut me off and then yell at me and threaten me despite that I had the green light.  Lesson: don't talk back to bullies, they fade away when ignored (most of the time).  And they seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days, thanks to a certain presidential candidate.  I'm guessing that I know who they are voting for come November.

But the biggest bullies and the biggest massholes drive cars and buses - they can do a lot more damage than a bully on a bike.  I've heard enough grumbling about bus drivers although I've had few problems with them myself.  That is, until Wednesday morning.

I've leave it as the three unsent tweets I wrote:

If you saw only part 2 then you would have seen a dumb cyclist fall when he couldn't unclip his pedals. (1/3)

If you saw part 1 then you would have seen him start to get his left foot unclipped but then a big bus speeding 2 feet from him. (2/3)

The bus was running the red that the cyclist was stopping for. Option was to fall away from bus, onto sidewalk. Police called. (3/3)

Or in a haiku:

Big bus rumbles by
Has not a care in the world
Knocks me down, unseen

So I'm not a poet but still be careful out there.  It gets far worse than what than what I experienced this week.  Say a prayer for the victim but also work for change in laws and enforcement of the present laws because things like this don't need to occur:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Estabrook on three wheels

Yesterday I convinced one of my sons to accompany me on a ride in the woods.  Actually, he was excited to go.  We had just rode over to the Arlington Jimmy Fund ice cream fund raiser and he didn't find an ice cream flavor that he wanted to try.  He did enjoy a chocolate chip cookie.  When we got home, I asked him if wanted to ride in the woods and he did so we packed up and headed to Concord and found a parking spot on Estabrook Road and rodeinto the woods.  I have walked and run here a lot and rode here a few times so I thought that I could manage the roads and trails with my son on a trail-a-bike.  It wasn't fast or easy but it was safe and we both enjoyed being in the woods and had at least one minor adventure.  I didn't have the ride mapped out but I managed to find the paths I had intended to follow without much trouble.  I did use RideWithGPS once to confirm a turn that I wanted to take and, fortunately, I had enough service for the map to draw quickly.

Bike parking.  We sat on an old stone wall for a pineapple juice break.

This is the first Pink Lady Slipper that I've seen since I moved to Boston.  I've since heard that they are common, sometimes in places that I've been a lot but apparently not when they are in bloom.

The Lady Slipper was just to the left of my bike by the big rock.  I didn't see it until I was off the bike.  We stopped at the rock because my son wanted to climb on it.

This picture probably doesn't capture it but the light and color of the leaves was so inviting and this trail was a pleasure to ride.

Our one mini adventure - seeing a water snake.  This was about 30 inches long and thick bodied.   We later saw it slip into the water.  As my son said, it was a great swimmer.
Our ride on Strava (no land speed records were broken):

Sunday, May 15, 2016

New Bike Day: Soma Buena Vista

Today was new bike day for my wife, a Soma Buena Vista mixte.  Well, we've had the bike for a week but today was the first day she had it off of our street.

We started thinking about this bike about four years ago.  We contacted Roy Cervantes at Grace Bicycles and Rob Vandermark at Ride Studio Cafe.  Rob didn't think he could build the bike.  Roy gave us an estimate but we declined to pursue the project at that time for a variety of reasons.  Then last winter all four of us took our bikes on the Arlington Jingle Bell ride.  As part of our version of that ride we went through the woods and my wife ended up walking.  Her bike, with its narrow wheels, just didn't give her confidence.  Then in the spring we bought our older son his first mountain bike (also his first geared bike with hand brakes) and he is interested in riding off road on it.  That made us think about the Buena Vista again, this time with 650B wheels that could accommodate a very wide tire that could roll on the dirt trails that my son was interested in.  My wife is also changing her schedule, which might give her time to ride more, both for pleasure and for errands (errandonnee, here we come!).  We got back to Roy, who designed and built up my IF and my Surly Cross Check, and this is what he built up for us.  It's not all perfectly color coordinated but it's a very nice bike that fits my wife well.

The bike has a dynamo hub but no way to use it yet.  I have a Busch and Mueller light to add and have get a rear dynamo powered light, which will be mounted on  the rear Tubus Vega rack.  (We would have preferred the silver version of this rack but it isn't imported into the US.)  My wife also wants to get a charger, which is why we opted for the SP PV8 over the SP SV9.  The SV9 is similar to the Schmidt Deluxe, which is offers lower resistance and lighter weight but less power output.

My wife is testing a Rivet saddle.  I'm hoping she loves it but she hasn't been on it long enough to be sure.  She has a front basket, which was a key requirement.  That's a Nitto B302 handlebar that a friend gave us.  He also gave us the Tektro brake levers.  Roy suggested the  handlebar grips, which my wife likes.  I suggested the Chris King silver headset for durability.

The drive train is an 11 speed XT group set and the rear hub is a disk hub (there is no non disk option and you need a mountain hub to work with the XT cassette.  The gearing is intentionally very low, with a 28/36 crank and an 11/40 cassette, which will make it possible for my wife to carry groceries from the farmers' market and our CSA without worry.  We went up and then down a local park on dirt trails on today's ride and she felt fine riding, both because of the low gearing and the wide tires (the Compass Babyshoe Pass 650Bx42mm in standard casing).  The fenders are the Velo Orange Zeppelin 52mm fenders built for 650b wheels.  The rims are Velocity Atlas rims, which are wide enough to mount the 42mm wife tires.

Matt Roy was generous with his time and offered opinions on the SP hubs, which helped me pick SP over the Schmidt and Shimano dynamo hubs, which I have on my IF and Surly, respectively.  Thanks Matt!

And thanks to Roy for accommodating several component changes during the process and for building the bike.

Overall the bike seems like a great bike and I'm even a little jealous.  Well, I'm actually very jealous.