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Thursday, October 30, 2003


I turned off the street and onto the gravel, the boxcars loomed up on my life and I saw America before me. A fella was comin up ahead, walking my way. Never know who is out on these sideways, but he gave me a big thumbs up as I rode by, just a fella making his way like me. The road along here had been washed out by the summer's storms that blew through these parts, I moved over the ruts with a da-dut-da-dut-da-dut and a rumble through my seat, so I stood for the way and kept my eyes on the road. I stopped again to pick up some signposts for tomorrow along the way of trashed possessions, some folks got more than they can do with, and when they leave off care, it all ends up on the side of the road somewhere like this. The train moves along my side now and I keep an eye out for the man keeping an eye out for us. Nothing was happening on this ride, but it might all happen tomorrow, who knows really. I moved back out onto the road and was passed so fast by some big trucks that my hair blew under my helmet, nobody noticed, noone does except for those riding. We're like an outskirt of the transportation world, along side all the cars, but outside thier minds. It was a warm sunny october day, good for pedalling, I would be back on my way soon.

So I'm not a Kerouac expert or anything, but anytime I ride crosstown for a meeting and I take this railroad service road, he pops into my mind with all the possibilities of jumping the boxcars man. I was going to a meeting for the stream sign program I am administering, so I got double miles in today than I normally would, which is good because I gotta drive tomorrow as I need the car for some work errands farther out than I can bike on this short day to come, and I gotta transport alot of stuff for our annual meeting event. But I at least got the org's car, so I'm still not using mine.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Today was the first I made the commute home after the daylight savings time switch this past weekend. It was definitely a setting sun in the sky, but it was not 'dark' yet, though it soon will be, so I really gotta think about a light. I have my solo headlamp from backpacking, and am carrying it along for now. Though I am not using it yet. It would only make a small difference right now in others being able to see me head-on, but it is not dark enough yet to make a difference in what I need for sighting ahead.

The problem is it would run through batteries quick. It takes 2 AA, and I think that provides 6, 7, 8? hours of good light, so not practical for everyday use. I found a new Cateye model that weighs practically nothing, has 3 LED (no bulb replacement) and runs on 2 AAA, providing about 15 hours for set. I figure then I would only need 2 sets over the dark months if I only use it for my 20 min ride home in the evenings. I also think I might get a bright white strobe, if I can find one with 360 degree coverage that I could mount on my helmet top, or mid-frame on the bike, somewhere all around visible for that extra protection. Am also adding some reflective tape, and a few new reflectors for now.

So great to have light to wake up to in the morning, I like that rather than having light at night for sure.

Red tomatoe from the garden today can you believe it? Well, not fully ripened, but it had fallen from the vine, so I carried inside to finish the ripening.

Monday, October 27, 2003


Today I picked up some new gear from Holmes Cycling in Camp Hill. I stopped in there after I dropped Sue off at her new place of employment, she is starting some part-time hours with the Lightning Bug boutique in Camp Hill and New Cumberland, which is cool cause she can walk commute to that site 2 days a week.

Well, I grabbed a pair of clip-on freddy fenders from PlanetBike for my commuter. I had replaced the rear fender from my old bike to my current one, but couldn't do that with the front, since I have suspension on that one. So I think the clip-on should work for that. I also picked up a set of reflectors to uphaul my visibility now that darmness is falling earlier, though I still need to get a front white light. And I grabbed a few gaskets for fitting items (such as computer, lights, etc) onto the handlebars and other frame parts when the attaching hardware is too big. You know what I mean right?

Thanks for everyone who is checking the site out these days. Just today I had 5 folks come over from Path to Freedom and 3 from Google searches, hey, hey, cool.

Saturday, October 25, 2003


These fall days are quicky becoming my favorite for bicycle commuting home. Ah, the crisp fall air, the dramatic sun and shadows, the sense of pride of being out riding my bike. All the good associations I have with this time of year easily pop into my head, especially when the sense of smell is invoked by the fallen leaves and the snowy air ("Frank, it smells like snow" Sue pronounced the other night as the temps dipped to the low 30's). The fall college days, football games, holidays with friends and family, the comfort of retreating into our inner selves, and our inner comforters on the perfect sleeping nights.

What makes it doubly swell is that it was a Friday, and I left the office a little early, and both contributed to less traffic, and less congestion, and less folks in general out braving the cold. Of course I wish there were more folks outside, but the going is easier when there are less to dodge, and of course that feeling of being out in somewhere that there are usually lots of people when they are gone and sensing them and the energy they left behind (that feeling always hits me hard).

Triply wonderful is that the frost passed by my little microclime of a garden once again. With temps all around getting down to 30 or so, my little patch of plantdom is still producing and staying on board for awhile. Tomatoes plumping up a little more, italian peppers elongating, cilantro staying fresh in the earth, lovin' it!

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Today was cold, really. It can only get colder too. This morning was in the 40's when I left for work. I wore my leggings, windbreaker and gloves. And of course my backpack. I'm happy now that I didn't get a rack yet for my bike, cause I get to keep wearing my pack and it helps to keep me warm, nice. And wearing the pack in the summer wasn't even that bad. People complain about it being hot, but when the temps are in the 90's and humidity so high that everything is already wet, then the backpack doesn't really add to the already situated misery with the weather. I will get a rack someday though and some panniers so I can haul bigger loads, like for groceries, or special loads, like the mini canoe paddles I needed to schlep around today.

So the frost is probably a reality tonight, which sucks because the warmup follows immediately tomorrow again. But I had to harvest some green tomatoes, and some cilantro, and covered what I could with some cover cloth to try to hold out the cold a little, but I didn't give it my best, I'm tired, its late and cold, and I'm happy with the results of the garden for the season. I dont have good season extension planned and I dont have the time to do so now. Maybe it is time to let the warm weather residents go. I'll bne jumping up in the morning to see what took place overnight.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


You may have noticed the change from one link set to three in the right hand side bar. This is because I have been developing some online contacts, connections, and community and want to include those links, but want to differentiate them from the main bicycle commuting purpose links of this blog. So there is a set of bicycling links, a set of local links of various topics that may have come up or will come up in my posts, and a set of other important links that focus on many aspects of the broad picture of community, sustainability, permaculture, etc, that bicycle commuting is but a small part of.

Some of these links (such as Path to Freedom and Living on Less) are also posting links back to Bicycle Commuting Now, so please check them out and let them know where you learned about them (right here!).

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


Nah, it probably won't happen anytime soon. I just don't have the desire to take a long bike trip for the fun of it, it would require an investment in planning and gear I am not ready to make, though I could probably get by with what I have, a rack and other sundries would make it easier. Anyway I was just thinking about it when I talked to my friend Tom (college roommate) lately. It was possible that I was going to New York (near Buffalo) for a wedding (though that fell through, my going, not the wedding), and along with a second person who's vehicle we would have been taking, and who would have been coming directly home. And I thought out loud, why not visit Tom (Elmira) and bike home? The car ride is like 4 hours, so like 240 miles. I guess that is easily doable for people who are used to it, but I am not. So if I pushed myself to do 40 miles a day it would still take 6 days, bah. Well, I'm just thinking out loud like I said, Tom, we'll visit one way or the other sometime soon.

My beet (from my garden as I am trying to come up with ways to eat them besides baked in the oven) and potato cream soup wasn't all I hoped it would turn out to be. Kinda just like beet tasting puree, but so made me want borscht when I smelled the mingling scents during the cooking. Reminded me of the Valentine's Day Vegetarian Dinners at the Macoskey Center when I lived in Slippery Rock, and borscht was on the menu two years running (thanks Galina and Valentine for that). I have to find a recipe.

Monday, October 20, 2003


I still am staying off of Bridge until I get to 16th Street, in order to avoid traffic in that area, and to get warmed up a little before hitting the main road. But, I have moved to the east side of Bridge now. I used to ride a few side roads on the west side, which is the side my apartment is on, it was quiet, and easy. But the benefits to the switch are many.

I do jump onto Bridge for one block, then I hit the side alley that parallels Bridge on the east side. Here the way is always pretty clear, except for a delivery truck or two, and it is constant pedaling cause it is a slow grade up hill all the way, so I get a constant warm-up. In addition, since it is straight, it turns out to be about 1 minute quicker that the west side route, which was a little more back and forth, with more than 1 stop sign along the way. And the final benefit is that when I come out to enter Bridge, I am making a right turn and can do so whenever the way is clear, instead of waiting for the light to turn green. Which on the left side, required me to dismount and push the walk button, or wait (or get lucky) for an auto to come along, since the light trigger didn't respond to my bike at that site.

Got my garlic planted on Sunday. The different varieties I ordered came on friday and are Chesnok Red, Siberian, Spanish Roja, and Georgia Fire. All supposedly good for cold climates in the winter, and ranging in taste from milder to quite pungent. I planted four cloves from each bulb, am going to send two cloves each to my dad to plant, and am going to taste test the remaining 2-3 cloves from each bulb. I also got a bag full of castoff cloves for like $3.95 or so, and planted them to use for spring garlic greens.

Friday, October 17, 2003


Far be it of me to delve into any sensationalism, but I did just here the news that there was a drive-by (I believe) or some other type of shooting on Maclay Street yesterday. This grabs my attention cause it is the street I take to and from Wildwood. This is for sure not the upscale part of town, but I wouldn't assume anything about the neighborhood, but I will now sure keep some extra eyes all around when passing through here in the future.

This is also an area were there are usually lots of young adults pedaling around (teens, twenties, and so on), albeit in all the wrong ways. On the sidewalks, in the wrong direction, no turning signals, etc. So I have a lot of misconceptions too from the drivers around there, and I have experienced some negative words when cycling through.

Lets hope and pray for peace for all involved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003


I am setting a goal for myself that I will keep this blog up and running for 1 year. Thats 1 year of my commuting experiences, 1 year of a fairly regular journal about my life, about a little bit of my gardening, and about a thing or 2 other thrown in. I guess I have 2 reasons for this.

1 is that I need the timeline and the goal to give me strength and courage to bike through the winter. And any of you that read this can help by keeping in touch, reading regularly, and dropping a line now and then.

2 is that I wont be keeping this up forever. It does take time that I could be putting towards other projects, although for the time being I am still content contributing here. Hey, I am not even close to running out of things to post about. But really, I have lots of other things in addition to bike commuting and a touch of gardening to write about too. And I can feel those things intruding into my thoughts more regularly when I am posting here.

So in the future I see this site as being an archived section (backpage) of a larger website that covers a wider range of topics that I wish to publish about. And who knows, I may continue to post here as well. This blog is serving its purpose for now though, so lets keep at it shall we?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

edit test 

Edit Test, please ignore this post


Of course the one place in town on my route where I have decided its not being chicken**** or giving in to the car culture of the roadway (this is the Market St bridge and Market St incline to Lemoyne on the West Shore) to actually ride the sidewalk as opposed to risking the traffic, is of course where they have been working on the sidewalks for the last week plus. Don't know how much longer it will take, but they haven't moved to the north side walk yet, so prob another week or more.

Not only is the sidewalk unpassable during this work, but the right hand lane is also closed most of the way across, so there aint no way for cars to pass me through that stretch. I hope it is worth it and that the sidewalks are smooth as glass (though not as slippery as glass) when they are through. And this makes me wonder. The Harvey Taylor Bridge farther upriver has ben undergoing major, major work for over a year now I think, with total closings at times. Will the bridge have good pedestrian and bicycle access/paths after all this work? If not what a shame.

Today is the first rain in nine days (after such a wet year). It didn't harm anything in the ground though , cause the ground is so wet, and the sun is not hot enough to dry anything out. I caught the potted mint just in time though as it was just drying out yesterday, but it perked right back up when I checked it this morning.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

POSTING PHOTOS (of the garden) 

So I finally got around to taking some photos and figuring out how to post them here on the blog. Since no commute or bike ride to write about today I thought I'd post about what I did in the garden today for practice. This photo shows the beginning of the application of homemade compost to the old cuke and melon bed where I am now ready to plant garlic. I have an order in for a few different hardneck varieties from an on-line store (The Garlic Store) since I had no luck finding different planting stock here. I am also going to plant some of the longstanding silverskin from my dad and grandfather's garden. If you head to the sidebar and scroll down you can access the new photo links that I am working on, and check out the photos full size. Peace.

Saturday, October 11, 2003


I changed my mind. I'm not going over the last weekend, its under the bridge. I don't have much to blog about but I am wasting time when I should be getting to some research on the web, oh about a million different things. Most relative, is figuring out which new bike locks to get, and probably placing an order. I have been using a cheap, thin cord lock, but I can't keep using it without chancing it. I will still use the old lock for on the trail, maybe locking up to a tree when I head off-trail to explore? Or give it to Sue to use for her new old bike that we got for 10 dollars at a yard sale earlier this summer. I am going to go with the best combination of price, weight and protection between both a cord lock and a U lock to provide the best protection.

I also want to find a good (cheap but effective) pair of waterproof booties for riding this winter. If anyone knows of such, send the clicks my way.

A little garden clean-up earlier today involved: pulling old cuke and gourd plants, pulling lettuce plants that have gone to seed and dried so I can salvage the seed, hunted slugs, and thinned some mustard and turnips.

Friday, October 10, 2003


I made my commute from Wildwood today as I do when I return our organizational car to the parking lot there when it is not in use. You think it would be a nice experience, visiting a nature area on the edge of the city, but the only way to get there, is to travel down Industrial Rd. Yeah, it sounds like it looks, lined on one side by lot after lot of industrial sites visited constantly by semitrucks that rumble down the road.

Fortunately, down part of the other side is the Community College, and I usually duck into the parking lots there, then travel down a gravel service road on the back edge of campus. Though I have to re-emerge onto INDUSTRIAL RD to actually get to Wildwood. Someday this is supposed to be a part of a nice greenway around town, if I'll be here to see it! I have been lucky enough to catch sight of a red fox twice on that campus service road though, its a beauty, tall and sleek and fast.

Anyway, I would have normally biked home from the office as a typical commute at the end of the day, but it seems the parking lot is up for some maintenance at Wildwood this weekend, and all vehicles have to be removed. So I'm the one to head back over at the end of the workday and take the car home to park with me for a spell. Not that I mind the trip to Wildwood one way or the other really, it is a quite varied route for me actually. The natural area, Industrial Rd, College campus, Railway service gravel road, cut through town on the roads, to Riverfront Park, then back onto the streets again.

Thursday, October 09, 2003


No work commute today, but did get in 6 miles or so out at Swatara State Park. I went out to take down the remaining signs from the past weekends Watershed Conference (maybe I'll fill you in on the rest of the story this weekend, since it is a reason I ducked out on this blog for over a week).

These signs were mile markers along the bike path and ID signs for speaker locations. I think 14 in all. The awesome part is that Sue came along and we knocked it out in half the time it would have taken me alone (I would have had to do 12 miles, stopping to pick up every sign, and lost all the time gained from driving to the pickup point while Sue was out on her bike portions). The best part of it though is sharing the experience with her. When she comes into my work world (or vice versa) it feels so much more homier and alive and special, I feel fortunate today.

I have wanted to take her to this park anyway because the mountains (or hills in these parts) are nicely pronounced there compared to being in the river vallery here, and now for sure with the leaves changing it was cool. The other neat part is that the park is still undeveloped, so you get to ride all out on old highway roads that were blocked off and have been unused for what, 20 or 30 years ever since the state bought the land for a park.

I love the fact that my garden is still growing! Here I am wanting to plant garlic this weekend, like I would have done in the west/northwest of the state and it is still warm and I barely have room in the garden to do so since everything is still alive. If not for the cucumbers finally petering out this week, I would have had to wait for garlic space. Maybe I should wait anyway since its still so warm?

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Thanks for staying tuned, its been 8 days since my last blog.

Well, it has finally gotten cold enough to start me thinking about Fall and Winter cycling to come. Today I made my first change in clothing from my normal summer shorts and T-shirt. I put on a pair of my poly-pro leggings that I normally use for working outside (or for cold weather hiking/backpacking), then shorts overtop of that. I had on a windbreaker over my T-shirt and a pair of black fleece gloves. I was more than warm enough, in fact a little too warm by the end of the ride. This is going to take alot of trial and error I believe.

Also thinking ahead to keeping motivated. I want to thank all my loyal readers, your presence helps keep me blogging now, and hopefully it will keep me riding through the dark and cold months ahead. I'll give you more props in the coming days.

As for the cold, a frost was predicted for 2 nights this past weekend, and last night too, but it didn't materialize here in my little micro-clime. I covered the most susceptible plants in my garden with some sheeting, and harvested a few tomatoes and peppers and some cilantro but it wasn't necessary. My tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, basil and more are still going strong. My cucumber plants have finally given up and I picked the final cuke this past week. I ate it for lunch today with a little ranch dressing to accompany leftover pizza from the night before. Also picked the one honeydew melon we produced. Tastes good, too much rind and not enough flesh though; is that from picking it later rather than sooner?

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