All posts in the "Bike-related" category.

CoMotion Americano Rohloff: first 4000 miles on an $8000 bike

Sunday, December 28th, 2014


In November of 2012, I gave up my car and committed to riding my bike. Although the transition was much easier than expected, I quickly came to understand the limitations of my hand-me-down bicycle. The gear range of my Schwin Tempo road bike was too limited for hill climbing and I would regularly break spokes when weighed down with my gear. My internet search for a new bicycle began with, “best touring bicycle”, plus a list of the dream parts: “Rohloff Speedhub, Gates Carbon drive, disc brakes”. One bike in particular looked perfect: the Co-Motion Americano Rohloff. So on New Year’s 2014, Hiro and I made our way to Eugene OR to see the factory and meet the people at Co-Motion.




Taiko at CicLAvia was a success!

Thursday, October 9th, 2014


The taiko trailer worked! Thanks to the strong legs of Hiro, Jason, and Yuta, we rode Alphonse (the recumbent tandem) and the trailer with two drums from Torrance to downtown LA. LATI students met us downtown and we rode a portion of the course playing the Tally Ho! groove. The CicLAvia atmosphere was amazing, as always, with thousands of bikes and smiling faces. And folks loved the taiko!

Thank you to Bent Up Cycles, Henry James Bicycles and Andres Lopez for the fabrication help, Kerry and Yuta for the video and photos, and everyone else who made this possible! Looking forward to the next one!

We’re off to see the wedding… the wonderful wedding of Maz!

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

I’m so excited about this weekend celebrating Maz and Courtney! They have succeeded in designing the perfect event, even for an anti-event homebody like me.

You see, I generally do not dress up, and this is a problem for wedding attendance. I am a fan of the humble t-shirt, the most egalitarian of clothing items. So when Maz indicated gently that this wedding would not be a come-as-you-are affair, and subsequently rejected my proposal to wear a bridesmaid’s dress, I was disconcerted. Nothing I own would suffice. Well, leave it to Maz…

Maz has rented the groomsmen tuxedos. Yes, Shoji and I will be wearing tuxedos. And not only did Maz arrange the whole thing, but he will personally deliver the tuxedos to the dressing room. Even at his own wedding, Maz makes others feel like the star.

Generally speaking, one’s attire connotes one’s sense of the significance of an event. Without this form of expression at my disposal, I have resorted to the measure, “distance-biked-to-be-here”. So I am excited to make my first long-distance ride on my new bike for the wedding, and my longest, single-day distance yet. Here again, Maz has revealed his considerate nature by choosing a delightful venue, precisely 70mi from my apartment. I would have happily ridden farther, but appreciate the gesture.

And so it is with happy thoughts of soon seeing Maz and Courtney and family and friends that I depart! Aliso Viejo, here we come!


A life upgrade

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

When I gave up my car last year, it was a sacrifice in support of the environment. In the 10 months hence, the switch to biking has instead proved to be more convenient and more pragmatic than driving.

When I owned a car and needed to get across town, I would often compare my driving and biking options. “If I drive, I can get there in 45 minutes… if I ride my bike and take the bus, it’ll take 90 minutes.” The conclusion was often, “I can’t afford to ride my bike.”

Since ditching the car entirely however, I’ve adjusted to the new lifestyle in ways that reverse the conclusion. I now have a “bus work” category for my task-list, which includes note-taking, rough planning, music memorization, and listening to review exercises. Now the calculation goes, “If I drive, I’ll be sitting for 45 minutes. If I ride my bike, I get 30 minutes of exercise and 60 minutes of bus work.” The new conclusion: “I can’t afford to drive.”

Ditching one’s car involves a fair amount of work, and I’m still devising solutions to certain challenges, like the desire to purchase multiple watermelons, the occasional need for lumber, and my solo taiko work. Trailers are in the works.

But while the adjustment has required commitment and work, switching to biking and public transit here in Los Angeles has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made. I’m healthier. I save thousands of dollars per year. I have more time for my work and study. And I’ve achieved my original goal of reducing my impact on the environment.

Biking to Invitationals – Day 3

Saturday, May 25th, 2013


Day 3
miles today: 45.3
total miles: 160.2
mood: Inspired!
highlight: Beethoven’s Eroica by the San Diego Symphony.

I made it to San Diego! It was a delightful day of scenic riding interspersed with stops at vegan restaurants. My appetite seems to have caught up with me so I picked a good day for hot meals.

Unfortunately, at about mile 15 today, my rear wheel started making a bit of a grinding noise. I’ve heard something similar when I had a broken axle. The bike shop owner said, “If I take it apart, it will only go back together fixed, and I’m not confident I have the part.” Me: “Would you ride it to LA?” Him: “Nope.”

So my return trip will likely be bus or Amtrak. I’m disappointed to not try my first 70+ mile day… and my painstakingly tailored maps go to waste! But I’m stopping while I’m ahead. This has been an absolutely wonderful way to travel. New rule for workshops: distances of 150 miles or fewer, ride!

Biking to Invitationals – Day 2

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013


Day 2
miles today: 63.7
total miles: 114.9
mood: Satisfyingly tired.
highlight: The portion of Old Pacific Highway that’s been converted into a beautiful (and wide!) bike path.

Riding through San Onofre State Park was nice, and making my way through the military base was fine. I’m not sure whether it’s because it’s day two, or because 60 miles is really different than 50 miles, but I’m much more tired today. Nothing hurts in a bad way though, so a long night of sleep should set me right.

Assuming everything goes well, I’ll reach UCSD tomorrow afternoon, then continue south to downtown San Diego to see Joshua Bell with the San Diego Symphony. A reward for another 60+ mile day!

Biking to Invitationals – Day 1

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013


Day 1
today’s miles: 51.2
total miles: 51.2
mood: great! Slight elbow soreness but otherwise okay!
highlight: Cashews and mulberry snack in the bath after arriving at hotel. Food tastes amazing after a long ride!

I’m relieved my self-printed maps are working fine. I used Google maps with “bike” routing and carefully tweaked the turn-by-turn maps to help me with the easy-to-miss bike path intersections. Printing the pages two per side, double-sided, also keeps the total sheets down and makes the papers easily foldable for a back pocket. It took hours to prep the trip but I think it’ll prove worth it. Hopefully tomorrow will be as smooth going!

Biking to Invitationals

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013


The Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational is being hosted by Asayake Taiko of UCSD this weekend. Still in the honeymoon phase of my no-car new lifestyle, I thought I’d challenge myself to ride my bike to San Diego. It’s about 150 miles one-way, so I’ll be making the trip over the course of three days.

It looks like I’ll be heading through some beautiful places, and straight through Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. I called yesterday and apparently they let cyclists through with ID. Wish me luck.

Hiro and I have taken long trips on our tandem recumbent (“Alphonse”) but this will be the farthest I’ve tried to ride on a regular upright bike. If you see me with a cowboy swagger, you’ll know why.

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