Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cycling Chat #4 and misc.

The Jeep Compass folding bike. Image found here.

In matters of the actual kinds of bikes available these days, I am still very very ignorant. Thus it was today that at Keeper Plaza on the way to work, I saw a folding bike in person for the first time and got all giddy and called out to its owner if I could ask her some questions about it. Rather than flee in terror or threaten to call the cops or something, she was kind enough to spare a few minutes to talk about it with me.

This was how I met Jill Houtz this morning. Jill and her husband own the Secret Gallery, a pottery gallery and studio. Because they live in the upper story of the building that houses the gallery, Jill, when she shopped for a bike for exercise and recreation, needed something light enough to carry up the stairs and compact enough to carry around in her car. So, she settled on the Jeep bike you see pictured here. Though it looks heavy in person, it's actually surprisingly light, and folding it up looks simple and easy. Though she doesn't ride the bus, for cyclists who do as part of their commute (not really necessary in Wichita, but many cyclists in larger metro areas do) a folding bike would be extremely beneficial, seeing as Wichita buses don't have bike racks.

It was a pleasure meeting and talking with Jill and learning a bit more about folding bikes. She's good people, as they say down South. And, her gallery is on Meridian--not at all far from here--so I am looking forward to paying a visit in the near future.

Other matters now: The weather this morning was just about ideal: sunny and cool but not chilly, and the wind held off until I got on base. That said, though, the ride in had its share of adventure:

1) While pulled over to talk to the Mrs. on the cellphone, a pit bull (no leash, not behind a fence) suddenly appeared in the yard across the street from me and seemed undecided about whether to approach me. I decided not to wait for him to decide and rode off slowly. He didn't follow; apparently, he didn't find me interesting enough . . . which, come to think of it, is the way most people find me as well.

2) The western end of Mt. Vernon now has a very deep, very wide ditch running down the middle of it to accommodate the installation of a large storm sewer pipe. This is good news in the long run--the long-term plan for Mt. Vernon in WAMPO is to widen it and install bike lanes. Until that time, this construction and the still-ongoing work on Mt. Vernon for a couple of blocks either side of Broadway I'll be detouring around all that for the foreseeable future.

3) While I saw no interesting dead animals today, I somehow narrowly avoided dispatching a squirrel to join the ranks of the uninteresting ones. It dashed in front of me so quickly that it was gone before I quite realized there was anything there, much less react by swerving.

These things aside, though, I felt surprisingly strong at the end of it. Perhaps that resistance training I did on Sunday had something to do with that.

UPDATE: I had intended to mention as well (but forgot to in the heat of the blogging moment) that the price of gas at some stations here is now well below $3 a gallon--it's dropped about one dollar/gallon since I bought my bike at the end of June. In case you're wondering: Nope. No regrets. Conservation of resources and reducing carbon footprints and all the rest remain just those things. Besides: while in one sense I'm saving less money these days by cycling, in the way that matters more to me--the spending of money--as I pedal my way past the two gas stations on my commute route, that amount remains at $0.

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