Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I'm the Leo Buscaglia of the bike path. Riding along each morning I greet everyone I meet.

"Good morning!" I said. The biker coming in the opposite direction blinked and did a double take. She mumbled something unintelligible as we whizzed past each other the doppler effect taking it's toll on the micro-conversation.

"Good morning!" I said. The elderly Asian couple pushing their grandchild in the stroller looked up, stopped and turned. "Good morning," the husband replied smiling and slightly bowing his head.

Buscaglia was the master of making friends and welcoming everyone into his world. His cheery greeting to absolute strangers would often get the response "Do I know you?" And Leo would reply, "No, but wouldn't it be great if you did!?"

"Good morning!" I said as I drove by a woman taking in the morning air on her front porch. Sitting just 20 feet from the street with her cat curled up at her feet, she didn't flinch and said nothing. Maye she's hearing impaired I thought. I could turn around and give it another try. Or perhaps she has 911 on her speed dial. "We've got at 502 (cheerful while biking) in progress on Owasso Street. All units respond."

The other day I was riding with a friend who was unaware of my job as official bike path cheerleader. A bit embarrassed at first, he began chirping back a warm good morning greeting of his own. The movement is growing.

"Good morning!" I said. The two women walkers were engaged in a vigorous animated conversation as I rolled past then. "Good morning!" they laughingly replied in perfect unison.

Many of the people I pass are wearing ear buds or full headphones as they pedal, walk or run missing out on the sounds all around them. Sometimes I'll just wave to them as a "good morning" might not be heard through the latest Dixie Chicks CD playing on their iPod.

"Good Morning Buck!" I said. Buck and his dog Zinger are frequent fellow travelers on the bike path. Zinger, who is walking a good 100 yards behind his master, looks up to make sure Buck is in sight. While Buck and I have engaged in longer conversations than an early morning greeting, Zinger is a bit leery of coming too close. If I stop my bike before Zinger passes, he'll intentionally make a large circle around this stranger with the helmet, vest and out stretched hand. A scratch isn't what Zinger is looking for this morning.

Like Leo, I'm not out to change the world or get a return on my investment. If if should get an unsolicited "Good Morning!" it might have been the seed I planted. Or maybe it is just another person who's happy to be alive.

"Good Morning!" I said.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I bought my Schwinn Super le Tour 12.2 road bike in 1976. Other than a few new parts (and a lot of new inner tubes) the biked remained the same and was a valued and trusted friend. But 32 years is a long time in bike years and it became more and more difficult to find parts. Sixty-three years is a long time in human years and my neck and back were beginning to balk at the idea of being bent over on a bike for a 30 minute commute.

So I began looking for a replacement bike that gave me an upright posture by reading on the Internet and prowling around our local bike shops in Eugene. So let's cut to the chase: After riding a 20" wheel folding bike from Dahon of Southern California, I was hooked. It felt like riding a combination of bike, unicycle and roller blades.

It gave me the upright position I was needing and provided a fun bike to ride. Actually, the fact that it could fold up was only a secondary consideration; but it will be nice to take it on the bus when I ride the LTD instead of mounting it on the front. It is easier to store at work and can easily and quickly fit into the trunk of the car.

IBecause I bought the bike on November 4, 2008, election day, I named the new bike "The Obamer". I hope this is my last bike. I think I'll be on this one as I ride off into the sunset.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I've always had problems with hay fever from about May 15 to July 4. This year was no different with the grass fields in full bloom. I was figuring I'd have to curtail or eliminate my bike commuting during that month and a half; but I remembered what Jon Kline told me last year. Jon said he often rode wearing swimming goggles during allergy season. I wear glasses so swimming goggles wouldn't work; but I found a pair of chemical protection goggles at a hardware store that were big enough to wear my glasses comfortably underneath. About the second day of heavy pollen, I donned the goggles and the symptoms I was experiencing completely disappeared. I wore them through the end of June when they started cutting the grass and my eyes weren't itchy, watery nor did they burn.

Well, it isn't a great fashion statement, but it worked!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Monday, while riding to work along Barger, I hit some black ice and fell. Both wheels went out from underneath me and I landed on my left side first smacking my hand still grasping the handlebar, then my left knee, elbow, shoulder and finally the front left of my helmet. A motorist, traveling in the opposite direction stopped and helped me to my feet. My bike was pretty much unscathed with the exception of the handlebars being slightly askew. The fall took a hunk of skin off my knee and elbow, but didn't break the skin on either my hand or shoulder. I was wearing thick gloves that saved my hand from lacerations; but I jammed my middle finger causing my hand to swell. Maybe the most disconcerting part of this tale is that I ripped holes my brand new rain pants and rain jacket. Fortunately REI sells a repair kit.

This all brings back the reminder of why I always wear a helmet. There continues to be controversy over whether helmets actually help or not; for me, there is no question that I was spared a serious head injury because I was wearing a helmet.For the 32 years that I've been a bike commuter, I've always worn a helmet. Even back it the olden days when people laughed and asked me why I was wearing a salad bowl on my head ("It's not a salad bowl; it's a Bell bike helmet.") I never rode without a helmet. In those 32 years I've only fallen and hit my head twice; but both times the helmet was the difference between a mild headache and serious injury.I began wearing a helmet because I promised our two daughters that they would have a father who could work to help support the family and be able to talk in complete sentences. I've kept the first part of that promise and, to some extent, the second part as well. Today I promised Carolyn, for the same reasons as stated above, that I will never ride my bike again when the temperature is less than 40 degrees. I know many of you ride no matter what the weather and I hope you continue to ride safely. But for me, and Carolyn's peace of mind, I'll be a 40+ rider from now on.

I was going to post a piece today on why I ride my bike. It sort of turned into "When I ride my bike."Don't forget to strap that helmet on tightly!

Friday, August 17, 2007


About two weeks ago I was riding my bike home from work when a yellow jacket smacked into by glasses and dropped down onto my bare arm below my shirt sleeve. Panicked, I swatted at the bee with my free hand but didn't knock him off. That, apparently, ticked him off so he jammed his stinger into me and buzzed off. Oof! I pulled off the road and started sucking the poison and spitting it out. Suck. . .spit. . .suck. . . spit just like my mother-in-law used to do with bee stings on her grand children's feet. I'm not sure what people driving by thought of this guy sucking on his arm. But by the time I got home, the pain had lessened and there was no swelling, just some redness.

Flash forward two weeks and I'm out for a ride one afternoon and SMACK! another yellow jacket hits me this time in the lower lip. From there the bee did a somersault into my mouth. Fortunately I had my teeth close enough together to keep him from going farther. I started spitting bee parts out thinking how lucky I was that I didn't get stung this time. Wait. . . for . . it. . . .yeow! He nailed me on the lower lip and man, it was stinging. I couldn't suck my lip so I was stuck being stuck. When I got home I put ice on my lip but by that time it was red, and painful and starting to swell. It stayed that way for about 24 hours.

What was I going to do to keep this from happening again? Ah ha! Look it up on the Internet, of course. I Googled "preventing bee stings" and here's what I found out:

1. Don't wear bright colored clothing.

This gives me the choice of wearing my orange day-glow vest and getting stung by a bee or wearing black and chance getting run over by a semi.

2. Don't wear suntan lotion.

Again a choice: Wear suntan lotion and get stung or get skin cancer.
3. Don't smack a bee hive.
Okay, that's something I can get behind. But, sheesh! What's a biker to do? Maybe it is the scent of the suntan lotion that attracts the curious bee. I'll have to look for unscented sunblock. As for the orange vest? I'm hoping for the sunblock to be the solution.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Riding home from the Bethel School District Thursday afternoon I heard a strange "click" then "scrape" pause "click" then "scrape" pause. I pulled out of the bike lane into a shady driveway in front of a church. I spun the back wheel and sure enough, there was a click and scrape sticking out of my rear tire. The click and scrape was an industrial-sized staple with one pointy end stuck in the tire and the other bend under and up.

I figured I'd have to pull it out, but I was in a nice shady, safe spot to repair the flat. I gently edged out the staple and the tire went "pssssst" then stopped. Hmm. The tire still felt well inflated. I must have been light-headed as I actually thought I might have some special tire or tube that was self-sealing. So I pushed out into the bike lane and headed home.

A quarter mile further along "psssssssssssssssssssssssssssss" and the tire was flat. But this time I was along Highway 99 with trucks and cars zipping by at 55-60 miles an hour. And no shade. I pulled off the road and about 20 feet down an embankment. It was hot, dusty and dry with brown weeds and dead grass mixed in with the dirt. I longed for my shady spot in front of the church. What was I thinking?!

I pulled the wheel off and managed to get the tube out and replaced with my spare. I did this trying to keep my head in the shade of the 55 MPH sign I'd leaned my bike against. I reassembled the bike and felt the newly inflated tire. I was ready to roll albeit a bit dirty and a lot sweatier.

I checked. I don't have self-sealing anything including my sanity.

Saturday, May 5, 2007


One of the nice things about biking in Eugene is the bike paths along the Willamette River. On my six mile ride to work I am only on the paths for about a mile, but it is a pretty idyllic 5,280 feet. There are birds of all sizes singing, flitting through trees and landing in the water. At one point on the ride I seem to always hear a chickadee. Gulls land in the water and on the small islands. Occasionally I'll see a heron either wading in the water to soaring above the trees.

There is also the sound of the river as it moves north through the city. The occasional rapids change both the color and the sound.

I pass a lot of bikers, joggers, walkers and people just sitting and enjoying the river and its environs. It's nice to greet these people as I ride by. The mostly deciduous trees change from bare to green to yellow through the year.

Before I leave the path I cross the river at the Owasso Bridge, a pedestrian-bike bridge that connects the east side path with the west side. There seems to always be at least one person on the bridge watching the river rush by, sipping coffee or eating a snack. More often than not there are several people there occupying the benches.

If I need to, the Willamette River bike paths can take me all the way into Eugene after a 1/2 mile ride on the streets. The river flows south to north and cuts Eugene in half. The bike paths are well-maintained and for the most part safe.