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GA Tech Starter BikesStarter Bikes | Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.

It appears that Georgia Tech’s Starter Bikes program has experienced a bit of a bumper crop this fall with the recent receipt of over 100 donated Bicycles.  They are having a sale!

Starter Bikes is a collaborative project with Georgia Tech’s Students Organizing for Sustainability and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Volunteers refurbish abandoned and donated bikes into low-cost, entry level bicycles for students and community members in need of inexpensive but reliable transportation. The program is also available for people who would like to try a bike, but don’t want to make a large up-front investment until they have more experience

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Every kid should be able to ride their bike to school. This right of passage, ushering in new freedoms and new independence for kids also brings with it the prospect of new angst and worry for parents.  Between 1969 and 2001, the percentage of school-aged students who walked or biked to school in the United States declined from 41% to just 13%. Traffic and safety concerns are cited as the primary barriers to parents feeling comfortable in allowing their children to bike- or walk to school.

The Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS) is taking the lead in creating a safer environment for students to ride their bikes to-and-from school; now through a partnership with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, ANCS  is providing middle school campus students with the knowledge and training needed to develop safe cycling habits and strengthen on-bike decision making skills.

Safe Routes To School (SRTS)

ANCS is the recipient of a $500K federal grant for a Safe Routes To Schools (SRTS) project to enhance walking and bicycling opportunities for students and the communities around each campus.  In conjunction with the Georgia DOT and the City of Atlanta Department of Public Works, which sponsor the project, ANCS will construct and improve campus-area facilities such as sidewalks and crosswalks and address safety issues by various programs—all designed to make it easier and safer for students to walk or bike to school.

Confident City Cycling 

On October 19th, 2011 ANCS has arranged for students to participate in the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s Confident City Cycling Course.  This compact yet comprehensive class covers everything students need to know to learn to “drive”  thier bike safely and confidently in a city neighborhood environment. It includes bike handling skill drills and an instructor-led ride with feedback to reinforce what students learn in class.

Our Family’s Experience

Woody Gap North Georgia Cycling Six Gap 6 Three Gap 3 Youth Atlanta Bike Bicycle.Since starting 6th Grade at ANCS this year, my 10 year old son Liam has ridden his bike nearly every day.  We rode together for the first couple of weeks optimizing a route that balanced distance, traffic and safety.  Our route includes the crossing of 3 fairly major thoroughfares.  Two of these crossings he handles solo, but for the third and busiest he has coordinated a meet-up with other students to safely cross en-masse.  Liam now rides by himself most days and I have noticed a new (though far from perfect) level of situational awareness in him on our rides together.    He has even modified his route slightly on his own to avoid a dog that enjoys chasing kids on bikes!    I look forward to the additional skills and knowledge that Liam will gain through his particiaption in the Confident City Cycling Course at ANCS!

 

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Silver Comet Trail Hurricane Lee Cycling in the Rain Atlanta By Bike

Hurricane Lee Spreading the Love Across Georgia. Thanks NASA Guys.

Cycling website Velominoti is “The Keeper of the Cog”,  the road-wizened rules of cycling by which we must abide. Liam, Ethan and I received our schooling today in Rule #5- Harden the F- Up [all rules here] See those nifty little spirals coming out of the hurricane, fanning across Georgia?  Those are called “rain bands” and they carry massive amounts of water in them to drop on cyclists heads- and can even spin off neat little tornadoes.  I did not know this before today.

Silver Comet Trail PATH Atlanta By Bike Junior Cycling Hurricane Lee
A Wet Ride All Day Long. Rolling By Mile Marker 12

We had planned to ride the Silver Comet Trail today for most of the week- before we had even heard of Hurricane Lee.  Yesterday I asked Ethan how far he wanted to ride. He replied “We should do a Century”.

Liam interceded “Dude, a Century is 100 miles”.

Ethan, looking insulted at Liam’s insinuation that he did not know how long a Century ride was, shot back sharply  “I know- can we do one on the Silver Comet tomorrow?”

Liam now jumped on the wagon too “Yeah, Dad- can we?”

Silver Comet Century Riding Atlanta By Bike Family Cylcing Junior Cycling Bridges

Looking Over The Edge. Many Scenic Bridge Vistas Along the Silver Comet

“Yes we can”  I replied, shocking them both by my acquiescence, secretly sparing them the details of the pain and suffering involved in such an undertaking.  I was aware that rain was in the forecast for most of the day, but so were cooler temperatures in the seventies…good for long distance riding.

The Silver Comet is a 61 mile long paved rail conversion running from just outside Atlanta to the Alabama State Line where it continues another 40 miles as the Chief Ladega trail.  Together, the Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet travel over 100 miles, forming the longest paved trail in America.  Doing an unsupported Century is no easy task, and there is a cyclist-friendly c-store at mile 35 on the trail that can be strategically used for resupply again at mile 65 after the turn-around at mile marker 50.  This means that we only had to carry enough nutrition to make the c-store, resupply, ride another 15 out to 50, 15 back to 65, resupply again for the final 35 home. 

Silver Comet Cycling Hurricane Lee Atlanta By Bike

Feed stop at Mile Marker 20. Cooler Heads Prevail.

The light drizzle at roll-out from the parking lot at Cooper Lake was actually pretty refreshing.  The sensation of the rain slowly infiltrating my shoes, shorts and rain slicker came with a silent resignation- it was just going to be a wet day, no need to try and stay dry.  The boys were in high spirits as we careened around the few joggers and other cyclists who also wanted the path to themselves.  Noticeably absent were the joggy-mommies that usually pack the first few miles of the Comet- jacked into their i-pods and oblivious to nature, their slumbering spawn and other people trying to get around them.  Yay!  

We settled into a nice cadence, I figured if we could keep the average speed around 14 miles per hour, we should be able to have a sub-8 hour finish including breaks- putting us back at the car around 4 pm.  We maintained this pace for about 20 miles when Ethan fell unusually far behind.  Liam and I pulled off at the rest stop and Ethan arrived less than a minute later- heaving his bike into the bushes nearly in tears in a full blown tantrum.  He then kicked Liam’s bike into the mud and the mushroom cloud meltdown came.  He did not want us to go that far ahead and we were going to fast and he wanted to stop.  He wanted to go home.  My heart sank.

As a parent, and especially a cycling parent, I always struggle between the line of  challenging the boys and being too pushy.  This was neither- Ethan was just scared that we would leave him.  He was wet and fatigued. I told him we could slow down, but all he had to do was say something next time.  I assured him we would not leave him behind and that, NO we could not go home now.  We had a little discussion about digging a little deeper and pushing a little harder- especially at the moment we most didn’t want to.  That is when the rewards come.  This is when the good stuff happens. Was he willing to do that?  This broke the ice and we continued on in better spirits.  I am glad we didn’t call it quits…yet.

The rain bands from Hurricane Lee would arrive in waves- washing over us constantly, but varying between a light drizzle and white squall downpour.  The boys took pride in the growing piles of road grime and grit accumulating on their bikes- debating who’s was dirtiest.  We made a game of shouting “It stopped raining!” as we passed under a bridge or traversed a tunnel.  We were fully soaked and loving it!  Soon we were back in our cadence and I would routinely perform a visual check to make sure the boys were in the right gear for the long haul- middle ring in the front, and low enough in the rear to keep a nice spin on the very gradual grade changes.  They both gravitate to mashing big gears.  The Silver Comet is an old rail line and with the exception of a few bridges and road crossings there are no grades greater than 2%.  This is nice, but it means you are pedaling all the time- no big gears.

Silver Comet Trail Atlanta By Bike Cycling Silver Comet Centrury Food

Shelter From The Storm. Gas Station Refueling Stop in Polk County

Approaching the C-store at mile marker 35 we hit the wall… a wall of rain.  It came down in buckets and our speed dropped to 5 or 6 miles per hour as the runoff on the path was higher than the rims of our wheels.  Visibility dropped to nil as we made the shelter of the gas station canopy and entered the store to buy food and drink.  The lady at the counter said it was supposed to get worse as she eye-balled us quizzically.    I ran through the scenarios in my mind.  If we could only go 5 miles per hour we could not reasonably finish the ride on this day.  It was time to head back to the car from here with 70 miles in our pocket and hope for the best.

Then the storm sirens came- these indicate that there is a tornado warning in effect.  Not a tornado watch, but a warning that a tornado is imminent.  The eerie howl emanated from a distance over the tree tops, sounding at first like a motorcycle topping out 3rd gear.  Then the sirens were not so distant and looking back from whence we came, I knew what that low-black sky meant.  Being stuck out in the middle of podunk Georgia during a tornado with my kids was not on our agenda for that day.  The boys were machine-gunning me with questions about what we would do when suddenly the sirens stopped and mechanical voice came through the air telling us that this was a “REAL emergency and we needed to seek shelter now”.  Shit. Shit. Shit.       [this is what it sounded like]

Silver Comet Trail Path Tornado Atlanta By Bike

The Boys Keep a Sharp Eye Out for Twisters from Inside the Mountain.

I remembered that there was a long railroad tunnel about a mile down the path.  It sure beat hugging a tree or lying in a wet ditch for shelter and I explained the plan to the boys as we began our sprint toward safety.   Inside the tunnel under the mountain we were probably as safe as we could be.  I viewed the prospects of us being sucked out into the afternoon sky as remote.  As the sirens continued their creepy whine in the distance, the boys  busied themselves with spotting twisters from the mouth of the tunnel.  It was dry, we were safe and could get safer fast by moving to the middle of the tunnel. We had food and water and could sit this out for awhile. 

We repeated this drill- next time under a bridge on the way back to the car, but we arrived safely and with a bigger adventure completed than we could have dreamed of when we started.  Even though we did not make the Century, we pushed hard and made good decisions that we were all happy with.  Still dirty with grime, but in dry clothes and shoes we discussed our near-miss with Hurricane Lee over large stacks of pancakes and hot cocoa (coffee for dad) at the IHOP near the trail head.  I am very proud of the boys for their accomplishments today- and thankful that we all lived to tell about them.  Well done boys- you own Rule #5.

Silver comet Trail Map Cheif Ladiga Youth Cycling Junior Atlanta by Bike

Three Counties in 70 miles (35 out-and-back)

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aTLANTA BY BIKE DRAGON*CON DECATUR BOOK FESTIVALThe boys and I decided to embrace our inner freaks & geeks this weekend on our bikes to catch the Dragon*Con parade (freaks) then riding seven miles along the Stone Mountain and Trolly Line PATH  to the Decatur Book Festival (geeks). After a hearty breakfast at Le Petit Marche  we met up with Graham, Megan and Patrick and Lisa from the Kirkwood Sunday Ride to roll downtown.  

Dragon*Con Parade

Dragon*Con Parade 2011 Atlanta By Bike Peachtree Street.

Riding down Peachtree along the Dragon*Con Parade Route- thanks for the photo-bomb Patrick!

All I can say is WOW!  As we approached Peachtree St. from Edgewood Ave. I began to get the sense that our 9:30 arrival was probably too late- and that suspicion was confirmed as we turned onto Peachtree to see both sides of the road lined 10 feet deep with people.  I had taken Liam to the parade in 2001 and there were probably less than 3000 spectators- my guess today would be upwards of fifty thousand.  We rode our bikes along the entire parade route and it was spectacular!

Dragon

Ethan's Dragon*Con Parade Fist-Bumps with Chainsaw Hand guy- Ouch!

Finally carving out a spot on the corner of Baker St. and Peachtree for the parade’s final turn we had a great view of the entire procession;and what a procession it was!   Starting out with Lonnie Anderson as the Grand Marshal (she still looks good!) followed by a 90 minute march of characters from across the world of science fiction and the imagination.  As cyclists, it is not often that we get to see people dressed more uniquely than ourselves. My personal favorites were probably the Georgia Ghostbusters or possibly the Ghetto Stormtrooper, while Liam’s was the guy cracking the whip from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.  Ethan, who had positioned himself up front to get maximum fist-bump exposure from every passing character, said his favorite was the guy with the Chainsaw-Hand.  Yes- he got fist bumps from the guy with the Chainsaw-Hand along withabout 300 others!

I have always wondered why there was an asterisk in the Dragon*Con name.  After an exhaustive online search bore not the slightest clue. Graham said he thought it was because “Everyone is a star“.  ‘Nuff Said. 

Decatur Book Festival

Departing the utter chaos of the Dragon*Con parade aftermath we were able to filter through and completely by pass the gridlock as we picked up the Stone Mountain/Trolley Line PATH at Jackson Street.  As it meandered out of Candler Park we headed East along College Avenue and into Decatur Square in under 30 minutes from Downtown Atlanta.   The book festival was much larger than I thought it would be and we made lunch of Giro’s and lemonade our first order of business. 

There was a great selection of local and regional authors- Ethan picked up a copy of the new Skippy John Jones book and as we went to get it signed by the author we were told the line was closed.  Bummer.  I found a very handsome hardcover of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which I have never seen before.  Liam did not find anything that tickled his fancy.  

It was a book festival- that pretty much says it all! 


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Linus Bike Grocery Getter utility bike commuter bicycle

G.G. with a rack of groceries.

Regular readers could probably sense a little guilt in last week’s Other Bike update-  while the situation has improved, money has been tight for me this past year.  I have gotten very accustomed to doing more with less and splurging on a bike did come with a little remorse.  However, I am really enjoying riding the new Linus  bike which I have done almost every day since her purchase.  I say her- because today she earned the name GG which is short for Grocery Getter. 

This morning I rode GG with Liam on his bike to school.  He has been expressing some hesitation and a little fear about crossing a busy intersection on his way to school and so I have been going with him until he becomes more comfortable and confident with the crossing.  As we were riding he mentioned several times that he could “get it from here” and then began quietly  dropping waaaay back from me as we got closer to the school (where other kids were walking).   I have been recognizing the beginning stages of P.U.E. Syndrome, or Parental Unit Embarrassment Syndrome  in Liam since the start of middle school last month.

Parental Unit Embarrasment Syndrome

Dale Price used "Costume Therapy" to overcome the affect that P.U.E. syndrome was having on his teenager.

Top research into P.U.E suggests sensitivity to Liam’s budding desire for independence and acquiescence to his presentations of symptoms that may include redness of the skin, looking at the ground and shortening temper.  I also came across an alternative approach that seems to have worked for one family to overcome the ravages of P.U.E   that is credited with tightening the father/son bond.  Dale Price, of American Fork, Utah, has spent the past school year waving at his high school son’s school bus every day while dressed in costumes as a lampshade, Elvis, and Santa, just to name a few.  While riding a bike in costume may pose some technical challenges I believe that adaptation of Dale’s principles holds a lot of promise. 

Dale and his son were even featured on Good Morning America:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/embarrassing-dad-170-costumes/story?id=13783709

Let it begin. 

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I bought a new bike- and I like it.  I still like my primary bike too- so let’s start with that.

I am always hesitant to draw thinly veiled analogies between bikes and relationships so I wont even attempt to veil it.  I kind of broke that stance with The Ex Girlfriend anyhow, so in for a dime in for a dollar- right?  I have a perfectly healthy relationship with my primary ride, the 1994 Specialized M2 that has been in our family in one way, shape or form since it was purchased.  I have personally ridden the bike over four thousand miles in the past two years.  It has been good to me- no accidents, not even an in-ride flat during that time.  In fact, I just installed two new Maxxis Detonator tires, Lizard Skins race bar tape and a new-to-me Fizik saddle because all three were worn out from our two thousand miles together this year.  I have been riding a lot this year, which is good; but probably a third of that mileage has been “non-training” or just cruising around town. 

For those of you who are accustomed to rationalizing irrational purchasing decisions (like most cyclists), you  see where I am headed with this line of  “logic”.  If you don’t see it- hang on cause here it comes!   Popularized by warehouse stores, I classify this particular rationalization as “the more you buy, the more you really save” argument and it goes something like this:  Though less expensive than many hobbies and fitness activities (justification #1), cycling maintenance and parts can be expensive (justification #2).  Though I do most of my own maintenance which saves some money (justification #3), I would save even more if I rode my primary road bike with all the expensive components less frequently for “around town” stuff (justification #4)- fewer miles equals less wear and tear.  However, if I am going to ride my primary road bike less, then I am going to need a NEW bike that I can put those harder city miles on…right?  (Game, set and match).    

Commuter Bikes perfect for the ride to work and urban life | Roadster | Mixte | Dutchi | Gaston | Dover |

My new Linus Roadster Sport (sweet)

Going back to the relationship analogy this is also like the guy who cheats on his wife because he “loves” her, or she just doesn’t understand- or even because “she wont do that”.   Don’t hate the player- hate the game.  The point here is that when people want something, they can take talk them selves into pretty much anything  by any means necessary.    In this case I bought a new Linus Roadster Sport in Olive.

Linus Roadster Bike Bicycle

The Flat Noah's Arc Bars Added Responsiveness

Chris at Loose Nuts Cycles knew I would be back after my failed attempt to win a free Linus earlier this year (Another Day, Another Bike Giveway).  Like a good bar tender, he was hip to my motivation and my justification for buying a new bike.  Can you imagine that they just happened to have the model, color and size that I wanted in stock?  It was destiny- so I decided to take destiny out for a test ride around Grant Park. 

The initial set up on the Roadster was a little more upright than I was wanting, being more accustomed to a compact riding position on the road bike.  While definitely in keeping with the traditional design roots of the roadster and club style, I found that the swept-back  North Road handle bars with thier nearly perpendicular grip position made the steering and response a little softer than I wanted.  This setup is fine, just personal preference here.  Chris happily set me up for a trial ride with a pair of crescent-shaped Noah’s Arc handle bars by Soma Fabrications.  These flat bars dropped my riding positon and the 95mm of backsweep gave me the verve and responsiveness I was looking for.  Chris had never put these bars on a Linus, but they look very slick.   I bought the bike.

While this bike is decidedly not for putting in the miles, I have found myself wanting to ride it- and have found several occassions to do so on just the first day.  I am already saving money! 

Get Your Own Linus Here:

Loose Nuts Cycles Atlanta Bike Shops Grant Park

Phone: (404) 228-5555
Address: 452 Cherokee Ave “A”,
Atlanta, GA 30312
Email: Kareem@loosenutscycles.com
Chris@loosenutscycles.com
Twitter: @LooseNutsCycles
Facebook: Loose Nuts Cycles
AIM: LooseNutsCycles

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Atlanta Cycling, Intown cycling, Kirkwood Sunday Ride, Atlanta Junior Cycling, Intown Bike Route

The Braves By Bike 

It was hot- damn hot this weekend!  The boys and I decided to venture over to Turner Field on Saturday night on our bikes to catch the Braves getting absolutely blown out by the Cubbies (8-4).  The 4 mile ride to the stadium was terrific- though the humidity was a wall through which we pedaled.   Team Eddie are not huge baseball fans, but it was a quiet Saturday night and I like to make one game a year because that’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re American.  Turns out it was a big night for baseball  and we had to buy general admission tickets “off street”.   

Once inside Turner Field we discovered that there weren’t any bike racks to be found- anywhere!  We ended up securing our bikes to the perimeter fence but with the Atlanta BeltLine Night at the Braves coming up on September 1st, and lots of folks hopefully riding their bikes- it may be a problem.  Just to be sure I didn’t miss anything I went onto the Parking and Directions, Turner Field Map and event the A-Z Directory on the Braves website to check- there is nothing about bikes or bike parking anywhere on their website even though there are hundreds of thousands of people within reasonable biking distance to the stadium. 

More information on BeltLine Night at the Braves: http://www.atlantabike.org/beltlinebraves

Kirkwood Sunday Ride

Click For Map & Cue

We had a great turnout today and the morning temperatures were agreeable for the ride start in front of Marchet’s.  There were 4-5 new riders to the group which always is encouraging!  This week we set out to do the “Intown Loop” route of 25 miles through East Atlanta, Ormewood Park, Grant Park, Cabbage Town, Old Fourth Ward, Poncey Highlands, Piedmont Park, Morning Side Druid Hills, Emory, Decatur and Oakhurst and back to Kirkwood. 

We had a hard time executing this route when we did it back in June, so I made a route map and cue sheet to ease the waiting and lost riders we experienced last time….and no one brought them.  It was still a good time with some good riding with good people.  We made the Krispy Kreme on ponce our rallying point to regroup and head through Piedmont Park, but lost half the group in the park anyway, so it didn’t really matter.   We all had fun and met back for brunch at Marchet’s.  Tip for next intown route ride: Sean will print cue sheets. 

Team Eddie Preview:

Grant Park Criterium, Junior Atlanta Bike Racing, USCF Junor Races Liam and Ethan will be carrying the Team Eddie colors at the Grant Park Criterium next weekend on Sunday, August 21st.  It should be a spectacular day of bike racing if you want to come on out and cheer us on!   Liam will be racing in his first USA Cycling sanctioned event, so we are going to get him a junior racing license (which I just think is cool).  He will be racing in the 11-14 Juniors category.  We just found out that Frazier Cycling will be there with 6 other racers in his age group.  We will be studying our strategy very carefully- breaking away, attack and setting up for the final sprint.  The junior’s race is 25 minutes +1 lap.  With the coordinated effort of a Team like Frazier on the course, Liam will have his work cut out for him.  He has the legs and ability to win- he just has to race smartly and aggressively.   Our goal will be to take it to Frazier and make them be defensively instead of assuming that thier coordinated team effort will roll everyone in.  I am excited! 

Ethan is too young to race in the junior category and is still on the fence about the “Big Kid Fun Race”.  More to follow!

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