Category Archives: Travel

It’s me again

I haven’t posted in close to two months. To be honest, I just don’t have that “passion” for self-expression that other writers seem to build on. On top of that, I get little to no feedback, including from the person who encouraged me to write almost daily, as she did. (She said she wanted to stay in touch, but she didn’t say anything about the posts. Her health deteriorated since then and she has passed on.)

Also, I’ve been taking classes online through an outfit called edX. They are free unless I want a certificate to prove I took a given class. I’m just taking them for fun, but they take up a good bit of my time.

Digital Camera

I think I posted about the front shifter cable breaking on the Diamondback. During the winter, I didn’t worry about it because I didn’t have enough energy to use anything but the low gears anyhow. As the temperatures have risen, so has my energy level. I finally fixed the cable last week and got back to riding that one, which is still the “good” bike as far as actually riding.

4-24-2017 Stream near Eureka Ave on Camp Chase Trl

This picture comes from the trail that runs near my place. I couldn’t find a name for the stream, but the trail crosses it a 5-minute bicycle ride from home. By the way, this is in the Hilltop neighborhood, near Eureka Avenue. We have more going on here in Columbus and in the Hilltop than the crime you see on TV.

One of my goals for a while now is to ride a bike to London, Ohio, and camp for free at a little facility along the trail. I will give myself a day to ride the 22 miles, then come back the next day. One way I’m building up to that came today. I rode to Batelle-Darby Metro Park and back.

Batelle Metro Park 2

(These are cell phone pictures on a free phone. The quality kind of stinks, but I didn’t think to bring my camera.)

I didn’t remember to take breaks on the way down, and I only took one bottle of water. When I finally reached a place in the park (south part of it) that had water, the water was rusty and it didn’t clear up when I kept pumping for a while. Coming up the hill when I headed back, I realized that I had a wind to my right front. I made my way home with three breaks.

The good news is that I did it. The bad news is that once I sat down here I did nothing for three hours. I need much more stamina to do this distance (18 miles) without quite a bit of misery afterward.

I also need to improve my system so that I have much more water onboard. I might need to buy still another bike when I can. I’ve owned a couple of recumbent bikes in the past. Those are bikes that have a very different riding position, sort of laid back as in the next picture, which I found on the Internet. (This one is a Rans V, which I’ll never be able to afford.)

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Recumbents do far better riding into the wind, and the wind blows almost all the time in this flat country. I won’t have the money (mostly $500 and up) for one of those any time soon, but eventually I’ll probably get another recumbent.

Other than that, Loretta and I finally got our dissolution of marriage. We got a bill for it, too. It will be 50% each, and that will be payments. We’re still friends.

About the Car Thing

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Car in Wendy’s driveway 3-2-2017

I took this picture through the window of a city bus today. (The yellow arc is some reflection on the glass.)  This car looked noticeably better than most I’ve ever owned until the right front wheel changed directions on its own. The people were just getting to Wendy’s when this happened and surely had no idea the car would break down. I’m a little sad for them and also glad I’m not one of them. Also, here’s a lesson in car ownership. If I can’t afford to deal with something like this, I’m not ready to own a motor vehicle.

New Bike, Old Chore

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So this is the folding bike I got with my back pay from SSI. (I got some other stuff, but this is the biggest thing.) It’s kind of a delayed-reaction impulse buy. I saw it in the window at a local bike shop one day in late December and decided to buy it because it’s similar to the Dahon I really wanted but about $170 cheaper. When I finally got the money, I bought it first thing. Dumb decision (which is why I’m not giving the brand or model). Buy a Dahon or another good brand if you can. On this one, the low gear isn’t as low enough for climbing, headwinds, or heavy cargo; the handlebar height doesn’t adjust to my size; and it has other drawbacks. Oh, well. At least it’s pretty.

That green thing on the seat post is not part of the bike. I’ve been carrying that gadget, called a Traileron, for years. (The black bump above it is a tail light.) It allows me to pull almost any cart behind the bike without any other hardware. This is actually the first time I used it. In this case, I towed my hand truck with my laundry as the cargo.

The detail of the Traileron is not as easy to see as I’d like because I’m not as good at editing as I’d like. The handle of the hand truck goes into a notch in the Traileron and is secured by a heavy-duty O-ring bent into a shape that works for the purpose.

How did it do? Pretty well. The O-ring is the brilliant part. It gives enough flexibility to let the hand truck adapt to the bike leaning or turning but is tight enough to keep it firmly attached. The sad thing is that Trailerons are not made any more.

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Here’s the “home and dry” picture. I wish the Traileron were still made. I would certainly recommend it as cheap way to get much more work from a bicycle. The user doesn’t even need a luggage rack, and the trailer can be any of many things, such as a child’s wagon, wire grocery cart, or even a golf bag cart. There’s a second O-ring provided that would give more choices. Thus, there’s less need for a trailer custom-made for bicycles. I imagine a good do-it-yourself person could probably make one, but there would be work involved that most poor people don’t have tools, shop space, or know-how to perform.

Need, Plan, Benefit

“Need, plan, benefit” is a format used to write proposals. It’s also a sound way to address issues. In this case, the need was to organize an overflowing cardboard box (upper left) between my bag chair and the door into a more useful and less unsightly “staging area” for my car-free lifestyle. The first picture shows the need, although this picture is too dark. (All of these have captions, too, but they got lost somehow.)

The plan: buy a big, cheap shelf unit and sort stuff onto the shelves. Also, use the top shelf to hold a lamp I bought for that area. I bought the shelf unit from Home Depot (lower left). As you might guess, the bus driver looked at me doubtfully when I brought that big package onto the bus, but she didn’t say anything. I got home, rested overnight, and assembled it the next day. Due to a quality control failure at the factory, I had to trim waste material from the ends of all the poles, but that’s part of getting things cheap.

The benefit: organization and easier trip preparation. The lamp sits on the top shelf, along with some hats and gloves. The next shelf is bicycle tools, parts, and equipment. The third shelf holds the many and varied bags I posted about a few months ago, except the barracks bag and big rucksack that are just too big. The bottom shelf is “miscellaneous” stuff, including rain gear and the bag for the bag chair.

 

Bike ‘n’ Bus Adventures

Bus Bike and “Proof of Concept”

So here’s the bus bike again. The picture on the right shows it after I changed the seat post. I took the seat post from a bike I brought with me that I found in someone’s trash in Mount Vernon. It took me several tries to get it out of the frame, but it’s exactly what I needed.

This bike is a Huffy Rock It. I have seen those in red and neon green, but only this one in blue. Therefore, it has an identity, the blue Rock It. To lessen confusion, I’ll call it Blue Rocket.

I got the seat post on, changed the seat, and so on yesterday. This morning, the weather warmed quickly and the forecast looked good. So today, I rode the Blue Rocket on her maiden (for me) voyage. We went down the Camp Chase Trail, came back far enough to take some streets, and took a bus to Walmart on Georgesville Road, then home via a different route with two more bus rides. She passed all phases of the test. I can ride her a couple of miles easily, and putting her on the bus rack or getting her off is much easier than past bikes. Neither she nor I was perfect, but I certainly have what engineers call “proof of concept.” That is, I’ve shown myself this was a really sound idea.

Another Adventure via Bike ‘n’ Bus

After a break, I found myself still with some energy. The wind had picked up, but I wanted to ride more. For lack of a better idea, I decided to see if the bus drivers would let me put the Diamondback (big bike) on the bus and how that would work out. I only wound up putting it on two buses, the #10 and a #4 that would put me in the area of my favorite park. Neither driver gave me any trouble about the height of my bike, but this thing weighs 45 pounds (20 kg) and takes up every inch of its space on the rack. I put about three times the effort into loading the Diamondback as I had the Blue Rocket.

While I was Downtown, I noticed that  the weather had cooled and that the wind was coming through my hoodie. I wished I had brought another layer, but stubbornness prevailed over good sense and I went on. I got off the bus on Indianola Avenue and coasted down the hill to High Street. By this time, I felt so cold that I stopped at a McDonald’s and had coffee to warm up. Then I coasted on down the hill to the park and decided to take some time in the woods there that I enjoy. I noticed that the most of the under-story plants beneath the autumn-leaved trees looked green and alive, although some had turned golden. We’re expecting below-freezing temperatures tonight, so that may change.

I took a phone call in that beautiful setting, during which I realized that I did not want to climb back up the hill I had coasted down. If I rode the nearby trail back toward home, I would not only have a “net” downhill ride, I’d also put the wind behind me. I needed that. By this time, the wind speed had increased over the 16 mph (25 kph) that Accuweather told me it was blowing when I left home.

That’s what I did. Tired or not, I liked riding downhill with a tail wind. Eventually, I left the trail (and the tail wind) for McKinley Avenue, then back to a trail at Eureka Avenue. By that time, I just kept downshifting and wishing I was already home, but I made it okay. I think the only lasting effect will be a day or two of sore knees. However, after all of that, I could barely stay awake for about four hours. I refuse to take a nap after 6 p.m., but I could not tell you much about that time because I was incredibly drowsy. Now that it’s past my bedtime, I’m waking up. Oh, well.

All in all, I had a very good day. I learned how the “system” of bikes and buses will work, visited a place I love, and had a nice ride for several miles.

Personal baggage

This post is about my baggage. No, not personal history, literal baggage. Stuff I carry things around with while walking, biking, or on transit.

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First up, the standout thing about my bicycle hauling. These are “kitty litter bucket panniers” that I made from an instructable (instructables.com). They’re pretty simple to make, very cheap if you know anyone with kitty litter buckets, and hold as much stuff as I want to handle without the trailer.

Bike and trailer Sylvan Ave 8-3-2016 (2)

This picture is the trailer. It’s pretty self-explanatory. The brand of this is Aosom and it was the cheapest cargo trailer on amazon.com the day I bought it. I had to work on it, but it’s in good shape now other than a flat tire. It carries up to 100 pounds, which is quite a lot of groceries or more laundry than I own.

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This is the biggest belt pack (“fanny” pack in the USA) that I could find on the Internet about ten or twelve years ago. I went to the Cabela’s at Wheeling, WV, to pick it up. This serves many purposes and has held up extremely well. I can use it on the bicycle because it doesn’t pull on my shoulders the way backpacks do. It gets a lot of work because it’s my usual choice any time I don’t need to carry cargo and also when I’m hauling stuff on the bicycle.

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I wear these “book” bags out. They’re good for carrying a few groceries, a spare layer (jacket, sweater, etc.), library books, or unexpected things I find somewhere. I lucked out in a big way on this one. I paid $1.91 for it at the Volunteers of America thrift shop in new condition. A couple of days later, I came across it on the Internet while looking for something else. This is the biggest school-type bag JanSport makes and it sells for $31.95. This one gets as much work as the belt bag, depending on the exact situation.

This one’s a laptop bag I picked up somewhere years ago. The many pockets come in handy for more complicated multi-stop errands, and the main part is good for groceries, including up to two gallon jugs if necessary. This bag also stays next to my back when loaded, and that makes carrying weight much easier. I can sort paperwork into different pockets and carry plenty of food, medications, and entertainment, too. I do not understand the loop accessories at the end of the shoulder straps. They probably have some high-tech purpose (it’s a Targus bag), but if anyone knows, please advise.

Bear with me, I’m almost done.

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This big number is a military-style rucksack a friend had. To give you an idea of its size, I put the big black bag inside it so that it would hold its shape. This is a really big bag. I only carry it when I expect big cargo, such as a few weeks’ groceries. It has a thorax strap and a waist belt to keep it in place. I probably look really small wearing this thing when it’s full, but it’s engineered for big loads. The side pockets work out well for small or fragile things and there’s a top pocket that holds the non-cargo stuff (book to read, meds, granola bars).

There’s only one more. I’ll make it short.

I bought this “barracks bag” or whatever it’s called a good 15 years ago. It only has the one huge compartment, and I mostly use it for laundry. However, it makes a good way to organize large amounts of small items on the hand truck. I also use the hand truck to wheel my laundry around in order to wash it. The straps don’t adjust small enough for me to wear it correctly, but I also use it to carry laundry (or whatever) by bus. The cylindrical shape works out better than something more rounded there.

Whew! That’s quite a bit of luggage, but it’s important to understanding how I live without access to a car.

Bus Riding Day

I am spending much of my day on buses. We’re having a great day for that and for spending time outdoors waiting for them. I wore an extra layer this morning (warm long-sleeved shirt) and will carry it “just in case” this evening. Most of the day has delighted me. Sunshine and temperatures in the 70s F (the low 20s Celsius)  do that for me.

When I headed downtown this morning for my usual meeting, some kind of marathon or whatever had Broad Street and several others blocked. That added around 15 minutes to the travel time. I took the bus that should have been too early. Today, it got me there on time.

After the meeting, the re-routing around the marathon/race continued. I found the improvised stop on Third Street easily and got lucky. I wanted to go to a Walmart, either on East Main or South High. The #2 East Main bus showed up, actually running early, and gave me a nice place to sit until departure time. I see marathons, fairs, festivals, etc., as recreational. I wish they took place on those “multi-purpose trails” and/or in the many parks in Columbus. They have become a major impediment to Sunday morning travel downtown. I know from having worked downtown that the festivals can be a hassle on Fridays and Saturdays, too.

To my surprise, the type of shoes I hoped to find at Family Dollar or Dollar General turned up at Walmart. For $10, I found a good pair of athletic-type shoes to replace my worn-out “deck” shoes. I’ll thread the laces through the “extra” pair of eyelets at the top to keep them from tripping me.

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New shoes 9-11-2016 Walmart $10. Long laces.

Quick comment on good shoes:

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Put one foot in front of the other. Change feet. Repeat until you get somewhere.

I had hoped to get a pair that weren’t too “showy.” These score 100 on that test.

I got more groceries and a few other things, and I spent some time just looking around the store. Still no “small squeeze bottle” for my nasal washing, but that’s not urgent. I’m doing ok with what I have. I changed shoes outside the store.

By the time I came back downtown, some of the buses were running their usual routes, including both of mine. I came home ok. The first test of the new shoes, walking from the bus stop with my full backpack, went well.

I’ll be back on transit just after 5 pm, which is why I’m writing this early. I’ll get to my friend Joe’s place by 6:30 pm and we’ll head for Marengo, Ohio, to meet up with some of our friends. My bus pas is a great investment!