Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Hairy ordeal

Well, this might be TMI, but at age 52, there is rarely a need to shave the legs because well, they're just not hairy anymore like they were in my younger years. However, when I was drying off from my shower today, I noticed that the injured upper shin area of my right leg (injured from the Labor Day bike crash) has lovely thatch of hair that is out of character. I'm wondering how the injury induced this phenomenon, because that hair was not growing there before. It's just the weirdest thing!

Rushing home before dark

So, I'm not a daring enough cyclist to ride in the dark, so I had to move my part-time hours back a bit so that I can leave by 4:20 and get home before dark at 5:00. Oh, I do miss those longer days of summer when I could take a longer route home. Now I'm lucky if I get 6 miles in a day. I've got flashing lights in the front and the back. I saw a cyclist the other day who had a light beam on the front his bike, and I need to get one of those rather than just the little flasher. Perhaps then I'd feel slightly more inclined to ride at night, even though I don't really want to.

I did hear about a new product, might be of some interest to other cyclists:

Back Up Barz

Here's a Youtube video about them:

Back Up Barz video

One thing I think is interesting about the product is that my hybrid does not allow me to stand and get torque to the ride - I am always seated when trying to power up a hill. I don't know if Back Up Barz would help with that problem. Also a problem with the horizontal handlebars of a hybrid is that there is one and only one position for the hands.... and in long distances, the hands and wrists get really tired and sore. I'm wondering if I should just swap out the handlebars entirely, but I really like the gear shifters on my bike, and I don't want to lose them.

I'm starting to wonder if it is possible to ride the hybrid across the USA...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bicycling is the nearest approximation

Bicycling is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds. The airplane simply carries a man on its back like an obedient Pegasus; it gives him no wings of his own.

~Louis J. Helle, Jr.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's done is done

So, today I made the initial payment on the car - about a 60% down payment. Yes, I decided it was the right car for me although I wrestled with it this time last week. In fact, I was ready to call my mechanic and ask him to please just come get it. But something inside me did not. I slept on it, and by last Saturday morning, I was not as anxious about it. When I handed over the initial payment today, I wasn't at all anxious. I was completely at peace that this was the right decision. My garage clicker is already inside, and I've been playing with all the little bells and whistles. Haven't figured out where cruise control is, but I know it's on there.

The thoughts that brought peace to my heart were that my mechanic picked out for me as a solid, reliable car that he wanted me to drive. It may, in fact, be the most reliable, solid car I've ever owned. So he came over this morning before I was even awake (he had a2nd set of the car keys), and took the car for the smog inspection and also to have the oil changed although it had only gone 800 miles on the most recent change. Still, he wanted it to be as perfect as possible for me. Then he came back and got me. First we went to the bank. I had been given an advance check on some commissions coming, but I had only gotten it the night before, and so I had to go the the bank the check was drawn on in order to cash it out. My mechanic and I have always worked in cash. Then we went down the street to the local AAA office and transferred the title. That saved tons of time by doing it through AAA instead of going to the DMV. So, the title is in my name and the official title will be coming in the mail in a few weeks. Woo hoo!

I'll be getting a trunk bike rack for the car as soon as I can so that I can take the bike places.

In the meantime, my bike riding has really slowed down due to daylight savings time. I barely get in 7 miles on my commute days. Guess I need to pick up the pace more on the weekends.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Out with the old, in with the... what?

So my car, a 1994 Geo Metro, has been having this issue where I drive it some place, go in for my errand, come out and it won't restart....for about 45 minutes. It had this issue back in May, and I called my mechanic, who has worked on my cars for 20 years, to come get it and figure out what was wrong. However, he couldn't get it to duplicate the problem, so he brought it back, but I knew the problem was still there. That's when I began to ride the bike as a commuter vehicle. I couldn't trust the car, and I'd used up all the AAA tows for the season. I could usually get one drive out of it per week, but three out of the last four times, it had had the restart issue. So a couple of weeks ago I called my mechanic again and said I thought it was the fuel injector or the fuel pump. Something just wasn't right. Again he took the car, drove it all over, and called to say he couldn't get it to duplicate the problem. Groan.

In the meantime, he has left me his 1993 Buick Regal Custom with 60,000 miles and suggested I drive it around for errands and see if I liked it because ultimately, my car had other problems too, like needing all the brakes replaced, a mob (sp?) sensor, engine/motor mounts. Then, the icing that cake - while the car was in his care, someone smashed in a back window. Okay, well, finally it wouldn't start for him and he said it was the fuel injector, but now I didn't care because no way could I afford to fix all that stuff, nor was the car even worth fixing. The broken window was the last nail in the coffin, and I considered it a sign from God to never drive that car again. Good bye car. I signed over my pink slip to him and asked him to dispose of it. I'm still waiting to hear when that is done, but that's only been a few days. It will likely go to a junkyard.

So he said he'd sell me the Buick for $3000. I looked up the Blue Book and it was only $2250 in it's condition. When I countered that, my mechanic said it also had aluminum wheels, so I redid it, and it still only came to $2315, so only a $65 increase for that. He wants the full blue book for it. Actually, he wants $2500, which would include an oil change and the smog test (all resold vehicles have to have a new smog test).

Now, I don't have $2500 PERIOD. I do have $1300 coming in commissions, and he's totally willing to work with me on the rest, pay what I can when I can, but that really scares me - not because I don't trust him but because I don't trust my income flow. And with my income being almost unreasonably tight, it scares me to tie up all extra cash in a car.

The car, btw, drives like a dream, and he said it should be good for another 200,000 miles. I totally trust him. He's been sooooo good to me over the years. The car is very good/excellent inside and out and under the hood.

Of course, as soon as January rolls around, the car will then be 19 years old. Maybe that's not such an issue with a Buick. Certainly I'd never get a Geo Metro that old. Still, part of me longs for a car that was made in this century. Then again, I have never picked out my cars except for maybe the last one, but really God was the one who put it in my path. I do not wrap my identity in any car, so whatever car God wants me to have is the one I will take.

I could get around on my bike for a while... except for my Monday cookie client whom I have delivered to for the last 5 years. I could just tell her I need pickups for a while. I can ride to the bank, there are three grocery stores within walking distance, and my only big shopping concern is when I have big items like 25-lb bags of flour or sugar for the cookie biz. The rest I can carry in smaller bundles on the bike.

Having a car would not mean riding my bike less. I would not change that at all. Having a car, however, would give me freedom to also explore other employment opportunities. It would give me the freedom to be more social. I have felt quite handicapped that way - not being able to travel far due to the car starting issue. I would also be able to take my bike places for other rides that right now are too far away to ride to and then begin that ride. Of course, I'd have to get a bike rack, but that can be done - but not if I'm paying for the car. No money for "smalls." This Buick could take me across the country and back with no problems and only act like it went out for a Sunday drive.

Is this the car God wants for me? I don't know. Do I just make the deal and trust God for massive cookie orders in December to help pay it off? Again, I don't know.

Please keep me in your prayers about this. I haven't made up my mind yet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays or Fridays

Today I purposefully rode my bike in the rain. I've ridden in the rain a couple of times, but not on purpose. The two previous times I just happened to get caught in a downpour. Today, however, with my car in the shop and no other way to get to work, I had no choice but to ride in the rain. If it had been a torrential downpour, I would not have ridden, but it was a light rain.

I had to go to the post office on the way to work to mail off 4 parcels, so I had a bag hanging from each side of the handlebars, each with two of the boxed parcels. When the wind would pick up a little, these would knock into my knees and nearly throw my pedaling off. So that was interesting.

I was wearing a zippered sweat shirt over a t-shirt, and I noticed as I was riding in the rain that it seemed like a profuse amount of water was coming down my face, and it was, of course, dripping onto the sweatshirt - which I didn't think much of until I got to my final destination, removed the sweatshirt and discovered I could have wrung it out because it was so saturated in the front, and of course, my t-shirt was a little wet in spots.

So... even though I have prepared for summer riding on the bike, I have not prepared for fall/winter - such as it is in Los Angeles. Still, I need some waterproofing, and my ears got very cold. So I purchased a balaclava from Ebay, and I'll get some full-fingered riding gloves and also a rain slicker, and maybe some rain pants. All things needed for future events anyhow...