Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hunt for a commuter bike

Sorry that I haven't been blogging or commenting much.  I'm in the middle of getting my injections and I'm supposed to be staying off my left knee while I'm getting the treatment. As many of you know from experience, it's hard to get excited about blogging when you're benched. The only thing interesting that has happened recently has been my hunt for a commuter bike.

After commuting to/from the Balloon Fiesta in the dark (twice) on my road bike, I decided that I'd like to do more commuting by bike.  In the past, I commuted on an aluminum road bike that I no longer own. It wasn't ideal for that job for several reasons. I still own a 90s steel frame mountain bike that I thought would work, but it's heavy and not very pleasant to ride. After about 1.5 miles, I'm pretty much done riding that bike. So I decided to look for a used hybrid.

my nifty upcycled pannier bag
I should back up and say that I'd like to be able to use it for "quick" trips to the store, riding to meet a friend for a walk on the bosque, and for commuting to work a few days a week.  I live on a gravel road, there is a hard packed trail that is a more direct route to the bosque, and my commute to work includes a half mile or so stretch with a decent climb up onto the mesa.

While I believe most people are better off commuting on a touring or city bike, given these conditions, a hybrid with decent traction really seems like a good answer in my case.  Also something with decent gearing so I can haul my mass up that hill (carrying laptop, change of clothes, etc).   Buying a used bike seems like the way to go for a utility bike, so my search was on...

Scott P6 Sportster hybrid (2009?)
After trying a half dozen or so bikes from a combination of craigslist and a shop with consignment bikes, I narrowed my search down to two options.  A 90s era Giant Innova with a steel frame that needed work (derailleur adjustment, new brake pads, new tubes, etc) to get to a ride-ready state and a more contemporary (2009?) Scott P6 hybrid with an aluminum frame that was ride-ready as is that had some pretty cool cyclocross tires installed.
Richey SpeedMax tires

I ended up going with the Scott because asking price was only $35 over the Giant, was ride-ready, and those tires really handle well on a variety of surfaces. Overall, I'm pleased with my find.

I plan to replace the seat post mounted rack with a frame mounted rack.  I also have a bike computer that I want to install along with my lights.  And I need to fix up an underseat bag with the right kind of tubes for these tires.

I won't actually be able to start commuting for several weeks because I need to give my knee time to get through the treatment and begin healing, but this gives me a project while I'm benched.  When my knee is ready, the bike will be ready as well.  Win-win!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bike Valet at AIBF

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta offers a free bike valet service.  This is the first year that we have tried it out.

The Balloon Park is about 8.5 miles from our house, which is not too bad.  The downside is that we needed to leave in the dark and when we got out onto a more major rode, we needed to ride along some traffic congestion for a little while.

The upside is that we didn't get stuck in traffic, we didn't need to pay parking or pay the premium charged for the park-and-ride bus service combo ticket.  Plus we got some exercise.  And it was a great morning.

There are a few things that I'd do differently.  I left my bike gloves at home and wore regular full fingered gloves on the way to the park. I should have stuck with the bike gloves.  I also wore bike shorts under running tights.  I think bike capris would have been a better choice.  Finally, there was a section where we rode in a bike lane among car traffic that actually had a multiuse trail off to the side (we found that on the way back); should have taken the multiuse trail whenever possible and stayed off the road because there was debris and some signs that we needed to dodge.  Other than those few minor things, it really worked out well.

It was special shapes day.  Sharing a few photos.  Enjoy!!

Can't see much? Either could I!  It was dark when we left the house.  My bike light lit up the path ahead fairly well though 

A Balloon getting ready to launch

The Bees are a crowd favorite

AIBF is one of the only ones that lets spectators out onto the field to walk among the balloons

Another crowd favorite.  It inflated today, but didn't launch

Back at the Bike Valet to pick up our bikes and ride home.  A really nice service!