NESEA / Boston

I did some booth time for work in Boston last week at the NESEA Building Energy conference. This lovely machine was parked out front, waiting to shuttle supplies to and fro for Building Green – one of the event’s main sponsors. I know BG well, from my time in Brattleboro and my time researching and working in the natural building and green building side of the construction industry. Good folks all around – both at BG and at NESEA.

The bike is a Cycle Maximus Cargo Trike, and I believe it had electric assist. Hmm… could this work in Burlington? Local food delivery from City Market? Dragging drunk college kids back up the hill on a Friday night?


We’re signed up for the Boilermaker in July. Took a ‘first run*’ today in the Intervale with the Maya pup – 1.5 miles. Cold and sloppy – but better than trying to run on the MUP. Off again this afternoon to repeat the experience, and maybe double the distance.

*run, of course is relative – it was slow – but fun.

Just like riding a bike…

It is just like riding a bike.
Sort of.

I’ve been off the bike for so long – that getting my fitness back is going to be an uphill battle. Slam together myriad problems – but where I am at right now is affording me a new appreciation for riding. I’ve hesitated posting here, but here’s something I shared with some friends on our own little internet forum about two months ago:

I’ve been scarce on the bike – probably since late summer. For the last few years I’ve been building fitness, changing my diet, adding to my ride calendar, and getting ‘serious’ about training. That was until sometime last spring or early summer when it all fell to pieces.

I have ridden my bike since… riding the fixed gear around town for errands, commuting on the bakfiets, and riding the IF with the trailer as a utility bike. True – life has gotten busy – house torn up, baby on the way, (edit – she’s here!) my wife’s health changing, work continuing to be a challenge … but I’ve been unmotivated.

Off the bike.
Not running.
Burned out.
Burned up.

Certainly managing my anemia and my asthma – but there is no joy in the woods, no desire to head out on the bike. Prior to my season falling apart I hired a local coach and designed some focused training – a big step for me. Not long after my cycling journal goes quiet. I tried a club ride in August with the local group… ended up riding about 25 miles and calling for rescue. I haven’t really ridden since late July. I haven’t ‘trained’ since late June. My last fun ride was pacing a friend through a metric in late July. My last great ride was a hill day climbing to Bolton on June 6.

I now know what it is to burn out.

It seems I’m coming out of a fog.
I went for my first run in 5 or 6 months Thursday morning.
It turned into a painful shuffle.

Friday I took my first serious ride in 6 months. I dusted off the IF (my long distance machine), brought out the trainer, set up the fan, and turned on the music.

I rode for 15 minutes.
I was out of breath and everything hurt.

Wow. This is going to be a long road back.

I’m 30 pounds over my ideal event weight. I’m tired. I now have a ‘beer gut’ (even though I don’t drink much beer). My abs are gone. The lines down my back are soft. My quads are still defined – but they’ve always been defined from lugging me around.

My legs felt funny on the bike. My shoes odd. My saddle so narrow. A handful of pull ups and sit ups were difficult. I can’t imagine climbing Middlebury Gap or through the Keene Valley, much less the hill to town.

For those that have ‘come back’ to cycling… or bounced back from an injury or surgery… I’m feeling what it is like.

Yesterday I took off on the fixed gear, honing some ice riding skills on the lakefront MUP, which I would characterize as ‘pocked powder’. Icy footprints, ski tracks, and a few tire tracks from other adventurous cyclists have frozen and refrozen – 18″ thick in some places. It was a bike handling challenge – but exactly what I needed to keep my mind off the pain in my lungs and the ache in my legs. Upon getting downtown I cruised the city streets, even doing a hill repeat or two up Depot Street, dodging the ice to maintain forward momentum. How far did I go? How fast? I can’t tell – but it was good to be outside again – blazing blue sky, crisp winter air, moving about under my own power.

Sure, it hurt – but it feels so good. So damn good.

And I have to say – it’s just like riding a bike. It will come again – the long distance, the ability to climb mountains, to ride brevets, to get chewed up and spit out the big boys and girls on the local group ride.

It will all come back, in due time. I just need to take in the scenery and remember. The legs do. The heart does. The mind will follow. Just keep turning those little circles – one mile at a time.

Jet Pack

The Brompton was fantastic for getting around PDX in lieu of a rental car. About 1 minute and it was folded up nice and tight, ready to roll as a shopping cart, onto the MAX, or to tuck under a table at a cafe. I did all three – and it worked like a charm. I was working at the Expo center for a home show – and the bike folded in the back of the booth was a great conversation starter. The integrated bag was wonderful for toting a load about – the low position of the bag meant that I could drag the 17″ laptop, a change of clothes, rain gear, and some literature for the expo – and still have room stop at a hardware store and fit in glass cleaner and paper towels – all with relative ease and no adverse affect on handling.

If I lived in a larger town with good mixed modes of public transportation I’d seriously consider a folding bike. I’d search out a Brompton with more options for tuning my riding position – or maybe get a BikeFriday. If I ever hit the road again for work, or perhaps even if we join the budding Green Mountain Car Share here in Burlington I’ll add a folder to my stable as it would be the perfect vehicle for mixing commutes, business travel, and utility cycling ’round town (and with the right bike – a great bike for traveling via plane and train).

Portland, OR Part 1

I’m on the ground in Portland, OR for work. I am smitten with this bicycle friendly town – always have been actually, even before it became bicycle heaven USA – from my studying of its progressive planning and transit politics and policies. Todd over at CleverCycles arranged a Brompton for me to rent – which seems the perfect ride for a town with progressive urban transit options and some of the best bicycle infrastructure and advocacy in the country.

The Brompton is a very very cool machine. Here it is ready to ride, across the Willamette from the convention center. I’ve been out and about cruising along the waterfront a bit – and from Wednesday through Sunday I hope to commute to the Expo center for the work I’m doing here. I’m hoping to get a sense of the infrastructure, the mindset, and the general flow of the Portland cyclist – I’ll try for a few days to become one – rain and all.


This has made the round of the webs before – it is one of my favorite commercials that will never make it to the tele. (not that I could watch it anyway…)

If only patriotism looked like this. Errol Morris has done quite a bit of nice work.


Its cold and icy here, and we’ve been busy with our little one. She arrived 1.28.08. 7 lbs. 10 oz.

Pregnancy through labor and delivery were all incredibly difficult for our family, and Jen was incredible throughout. Simply the most demanding and amazing process I’ve been involved in.

Now, perhaps I can find the time and the mindset to get back on the bike. My body is in need of it – I matched Jen’s pregnancy gain pound for pound!

The New SUV

Our new SUV – an authentic Dutch cargo bike – ‘Bakfiets’. It handles a load much nicer than the IF with the trailer… and toting the young nephews is a treat – they sit up front and enjoy the ride as much as I do. (and toting our little one to be was also some motivation for this bike!)

I feel so strongly about utility bikes and getting out of cars whenever we can that I’ve decided to work with an importer and bring these from Amsterdam to Burlington in limited quantities. Drop me a line (or comment with your email) if anyone out there is interested. I outfitted ours with a Brooks saddle and cork grips, and updated the lighting system a bit (this was purchased used, as a demo bike and needed some TLC). The Bakfiets that make it to the states arrive with roller brakes, Nexus 8 speed hubs, fenders, lights, a rear rack, and a removable bench in the ‘bak’. Published loading is 75 pounds on the rear rack and 200 pounds up front. I’ve moved groceries, dog and cat food, and people around Burlington. I just took delivery of a traditional kid tent and hope to have it installed before the weather turns to protect our cargo from the elements.

Pic of the Week

I made the pic of the week over at Adventure Cycling. I submitted this a long long time ago – it was nice to get a confirmation email and finally see it online. The pic is of my IF ClubRacer from the Burlington waterfront on a cold and rainy day. I took off for a long ride, but after about 10 miles in the fog and misty rain I turned around and headed for home.

Posting has been sporadic. I’m working on a bike related business and spending much of my spare time developing the website, products, and planning. More later, as I delve into a human powered endeavor.