30 April 2007

Why give free public transport?

Some bridge collapsed in San Francisco. So there is one less road for awhile making the commute even more congested. Now you would think the logical thing to do is increase public transport right, which they did , but why this.

"In preparation for rush hour, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger authorized funding so that ferries, buses and the rail system could carry commuters free of charge during Monday's commute."

It is like we are bribing people to use public transport.

26 April 2007

What does the word "bike" mean to you?

I got an email from my son Seth today. It is interesting how he uses the word bike compared to me.

"Hi dad, thanks for the email. Everything here is fine, I am working at the
bike shop full time and Amber goes to class, so our days are pretty busy."

Now before all my bike buddies start sending me requests for cheap bike spares I believe Seth means a Motorbike shop. I am careful to use the word bike around bike buddies only, less someone think I am riding a motorbike around.

(I just had a thought, when people see the title of this blog, do some think this is a motorbike blog?)

I bought Seth a mountain bike when he moved out to Tanzania in 7th grade to live with Bernice and I . I bought it so I didn't have to drive him to school 8 km away each way. No school bus!! Shows you what kind of school it is. The teachers thought I was crazy. He was the only kid who rode a bicycle to the Moshi International School, rain or shine. To Seth's credit he didn't complain. Seth enjoyed the freedom it gave him after school to visit friends and come home when he wanted. I had my own selfish reasons for him having a bike.

It was this bicycle that got me back into bicycling after I left my Peugeot PX10e in the USA when I moved to Tanzania in 1977. When I started making money in 1982 I bought a motorbike. Yeah I know. It was for commuting but we also zipped all over masailand both for work and checking out the bush. I tried a Indian made Phoenix bicycle about the same time but the dirt roads were so rough, and thorns so many I gave up on it.

Seth was using his bicycle everyday and it wasn't until he went to visit his Mom in Minnesota in 1995 that I got to use his bike for a month. The first ride was up the slopes of Mt Meru to the planted forest. I had to push the last km or so and laid down to rest in the forest. It was half a day excursion. Now I ride that in 70 minutes before work as a short training ride. I started to ride to work the 5km.

Alas Seth came back in time for school and hogged the bike.

Then somehow my buddy Steve Friberg gave me a 2nd hand bike sold by a Medical student. That was the bike that changed my life, commuting and health wise.

Anyway back to Seth and the meaning of "bikes". He went off to boarding school and biking got relegated to weekends, and then Naomi bought him a motorbike and the bicycle gathered dust mostly. Then he moved to the USA for college and got more into motoX.

But not all is lost as Seth goes on to say in today's email:
"It is finally starting to warm up here so I can ride my mountain bike to work now which is nice for the exercise and nice on the checkbook because I am not using any gas. Its funny that people keep asking me if I had my Drivers License taken away so I have to ride my bike, they can't imagine that I would be riding for fun. Its about 10 miles from my apartment to work, so its a nice little ride."

Good on you mate!
Note, bike to him is motorbike. Bike to me is bicycle but he says mountain bike.

Too bad he has to explain to others why he rides the bicycle to work, and it doesn't fit into their perception of bicycles. See my posting Why I didn't commute everyday about my own issues explaining with commuting.

And here he is :
I am really proud of him.

Lest his sister complain about unequal air time. His sister likes to ride also, but not to school yet. She does give her friend Mariamu rides though.

22 April 2007


I think they call it something else these days but in the 70's we called it LSD. Long, Slow, Distance. In those days, in runners' circles it meant a 20-25km run at slower than a normal workout. We used to discuss all sorts of stuff on those LSD runs around the rural roads of Washinton State USA during college.

Today's ride turned into a LSD ride. Cool.

I met 5 buddies on the other side of town and we road east to the town of Boma Ngombe, 52 km , and then 5 km up the road towards Sanya Juu. The ride home became a LSD ride.

As we turned around we had a bunch of punctures. Well Cheusi had punctures. That broke the mood of riding hard, which we were doing going out. We averaged like 38kph to Boma and I was feeling it. Not total wasted but struggling at times.

In between stopping to fix Cheusi's flats Thad started to tell me a book he is reading written by some genius who talks about how religion is not rational, and used for so much bad. Basically I agree. However I still believe in God. Thad is pretty articulate and I can't remember anything for more than a minute. Thad talked about this for 20km as we road side by side. We talked most of the way back up to Arusha.

With 35 km to go Cheusi had more troubles after running over a stone and pinch flatted on both tyres! Good luck it was in a big village so we stopped and drank tea and had a chapatis and Cheusi, Moses, and Isaiah fixed the tubes.

Some dude was trying to talk to them fixing the tubes. Then he sat down at our table and tried to talk to us. It took us 20 minutes to realize he was either crazy or stoned. In the end he said us white people shouldn't come to Tanzania to "study" Tanzanians. About this time the others came and sat down and heard that and Moses told him to buzz of or get sent off. It is nice to ride with young Tanzanians. (they also take more share of time in the front of the pack.

Re age: it will be interesting as some of the guys like Moses are approaching 35. Will they keep riding?

I wonder why I was so tired today.

21 April 2007

Commute in the rain.

Yesterday half way through my commute to work I was thinking, "man am I glad I am riding a bike."

At the same time I made eye contact with a passenger in a car I was overtaking and from his expression he was thinking, "look at this crazy white man riding his bike in this rain". Remember , I was passing him.

It was pouring as I set out and Bernice my wonderful wife was begging me to drive. (Then what would she do?)

The first 400 meters was a bit "messy" as they had ploughed all the fields around the shortcut. The path had soft part and mud caked on my tyres, brakes, and sandals. I was wearing a heavy Helly Hansen rain coat, cheap rain pants, sandals, and shorts. It was raining enough that all the mud was washed off my feet and bike by the time I was half way to work.

One issue commuting in the rainy season is I arrive at the parking lot with mud all over my legs and feet. Security have blocke access to places that had spigots and there isnt always mud puddles. I am too shy to wash my feet in the sink. I have started to carry (if i remember) a watter bottle to wash my legs when I get there.

Fenders, why dont i use fenders? Are you kidding. They would get caked with mud in 100 meters and then I wouldnt be able to ride. I do have partial fenders but not 180. And I often have to put my feet down on the first part.

I actually enjoyed the ride more than normal. There was a wreck and a couple stalled trucks, and becuase no one knows how to defrost their windows in Tanzania the traffic was moving slower than normal and I did the highway part as fast as a car. Being an impatient person that would of bothered me in a car.

Oh yeah and then the last km is a slight downhill and there was water running all over. The water was a stream half way into the outside lane. Then it crossed to the other side and I got to ride through 15cm of water. Wheeeeee.

Only my legs were damp, the rain pants are worn out. and of course my feet and sandals were wet but that isnt a problem. About half the staff in the office who walk came in hours late.