Sunday, September 29, 2013

Alberta St. to NW Blvd

I usually ride down the wider left lane on the one-way section of Alberta between Driscoll and Northwest Blvd on my way to work. The funny thing about this left lane that was made wider for bikes - not many cyclists want to turn from the left lane onto NW Blvd.

I turn left onto Euclid a block before NW Blvd, preferring not to turn left with the two lanes of traffic. I make my way to Hemlock where I cross NW Blvd between the Chase Bank and Java Jitters.  I can either go east on NW Blvd to Belt or ride past the barrier where Hemlock is blocked off, and go south.

Other bikers like to ride down the right lane on Alberta and turn left onto NW Blvd, which I tried again last week.

The only problem I have with this, is I've seen drivers swerve over from the left turn lane, cross the right lane all the way to the right turn lane to TJ Meenach Drive.  I feel like I might get in the way of one of those drivers who forgot they need to be in the right lane. But my wife prefers going this way, as  she doesn't like to cross the 5 lanes of NW Blvd.  Well, there have been some vehicle/pedestrian collisions on NW Blvd.  She says she feels comfortable owning the lane and feels it's natural to go the way she would if driving.  Me, I don't like to turn left onto NW Blvd, but have no problem crossing the 5 lanes at Hemlock. Go figure.  I did feel this time that I rode the right lane that drivers were aware of me, though.

Below: Past the intersection.  A neighbor woman I work with also bikes this way and will take the sidewalk. A good option which I also take sometimes, with cars going by at 35+ mph.

So there you have it - NW Blvd two ways.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When I was a kid...

Growing up in Ephrata way back in the 60's and 70's, we kids rode our bikes everywhere. It's a small town maybe 2 miles long.  There was only one adult that I remember, the father of some kids a few blocks away from our house, who rode his bike  And most everywhere else in town.  It seemed odd to me.  Nobody else's dad did that.

Now it doesn't seem so different and I'm one of those guys who bikes to work.  It's great to see more grown-ups bike commuters than when I was a kid.

But it still feels a bit different sometimes to bike commute. When I broke a bone in my hand biking to work last year, a couple people actually asked me if now I was going to grow up and stop biking.  They weren't joking. I was taken aback and didn't know what to say. (Thankfully, I don't know too many people like that).  I never thought of biking as something you grow out of.  I more or less grew back into it.

That neighborhood kid's dad was onto something.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Avid BB7 Road disc brakes (Off the Beaten Path brake test)

The Salsa Vaya I ride the majority of the time has Avid BB7's which have great stopping power in varied weather conditions.  So I was surprised to read this statement over at Off the Beaten Path in "How to Brake on a Bicycle" (in the comments section, by the post author Jan Heine. The comments were closed by the time I read the post):

Based on our experience, at least the common Avid mechanical “road” disc brakes (BB7 “road” model) have much less stopping power than a good rim brake. We have tested a number of bikes with different rotors and pads, even had a local expert fiddle with one of the test bikes, but there was little difference. The brakes feel great at first, but as you pull harder on the levers, you only get flex in the brake mechanism, but no more braking power.
Bill Davidson has a nice little demonstration. He takes a bike with those brakes, pulls the lever for the front brake to the bars, and then pushes the bike across the shop floor. The wheel continues to turn. He then takes a bike with a rim brake, and the wheel won’t turn.

So I went to my bike, pulled on the front brake lever, pushed the bike, and voila! the front wheel didn't turn.  It sounds like Mr Davidson's demonstration is with BB7's, but perhaps from the wording "these brakes" the blogger just means generic disc brakes.  I didn't have to pull all that hard.  Either way, I'm wondering am I or they missing something?

I don't have any experience with good rim brakes except for the cantilevers on my good cross bike, so I can't compare the two types of brakes much.  But my experience is that the BB7's have more than adequate stopping power.  I especially like being able to grasp the brake levers easily from the hoods without applying too much force in order to stop quickly.  And I hate fiddling with and adjusting rim brakes, so I prefer the disc brakes.

The main thrust of this article was that their experiments found that "on dry pavement,  the front brake alone halts the bike over the shortest distance."  It's a little hard to tell just how scientific their tests are.  Their is an interesting exchange in the comments section between Robert Hurst, the author of The Art of Cycling (formerly the Art of Urban Cycling) and Mr Heine where Hurst challenges the findings and says his experiments have found the shortest stopping distance was with both brakes.  I think everybody does agree that you get the most stopping force from the front brake.

(Hurst's website is The Industrialized Cyclist and he has tons of info on his Bicycle Research page.)