Watching Austin City Limits a couple of weeks back, I came across Brandi Carlile singing Madman Across the Water:
We’re somewhere in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak…
Brandi Carlile is here to save us.
I just went for a ten minute bike ride. It wasn’t planned. I jumped on my simple orange single speed and pedaled around the neighborhood at dusk. No gears, no kit, no prep (other than a quick tire pressure squeeze).
Would my road bike have been faster? Certainly. But the orange “crate” was the right bike for the ten minute moment.
I try to write ten minutes every day.
I try to post a photo a 365 photo every day, which takes about ten minutes.
What else can we do in ten minutes?
Kiss the dog
Kiss the spouse.
Consider your future.
Learn a language.
Make a small change.
I’m slowly sunsetting BeenThereBikeTours. Building the indexes of 600 or so bike tours around the world was largely powered by Google searches. But now and then I discovered an unusual tour that somehow Google hadn’t found (or at least weren’t on the first page of results). Here’s a collection of offbeat city bike tours that you might not find by Googling:
|Dallas||Dallas Brewery Tour by Bike||Self-guided|
|Denver||Bike Into Denver’s Past||Self-guided|
|Durham||Durham Mural Tour||Monthly|
|Lexington||Cycling Through the Centuries||Self-guided|
|Minneapolis||Hidden Music Landmarks||Self-guided|
|New York City||Bike the Boroughs||“Virtual” with Maps|
|Portland||Best Rides Around Portland||Maps|
|San Antonio||Brew Tour||Listing – No Map|
|Tampa||History Bike Tampa||Free BYO Bike for Monthly-ish History Tours|
Look for updates with whatever comes along post-BTBT.
My bike mechanic skill level is probably best described as “shade tree”. I know what I know and can pretty confidently change tires/tubes, adjust brakes and shifting, tighten spokes, mess with handlebars and steering, and keep things more or less lubed.
On a recent ride, I had stopped to enjoy the sunset from my usual “Big Hill Near My House” location. While I was waiting for the sundown, I noticed my rear quick release was open. It became apparent as I went to close it that the thru axle was loose. I’ve never paid much attention to how the thru axles connect to the frame, but it was obvious that whatever it screwed into wasn’t there any longer. The nut on the front fork appeared to be about the same shape as the empty “pocket” on the rear flange and assumed that’s what I needed to find. In the grass. In the looming dusk. Assuming that it had just fallen off. I quickly realized that was fruitless and began to consider whether I needed to walk home. I’d been riding an unknown amount of time with it missing, so after a careful test, I rode home slowly with frequent glances to check that the axle was staying in place.
Later, after the repair was complete, it occurred to me that the axle must have been loosening over a reasonably long period of time. The axle would (eventually) thread into the new nut completely. That said, I wonder if some recent “tuning” to the (not so) quick release might have started the process.
Before beginning the hunt for a replacement nut, I studied some photos of the bike, both that I’d taken and online at Diamondback.com. I wasn’t 100% certain that the front and rear nuts were the same, particularly given the difference in the flush mounted front fork and the rounded rectangle pocket for the rear.
Next stop, Diamondback’s online parts. And, of course, no thru-axle nuts to be found. I submitted an online support request and was pleasantly surprised to get both a prompt email and an actual phone call within hours. And, happily, Diamondback DOES sell the nut….in a kit located under the “derailleur hanger” category. A kit which costs $40+ after tax/shipping:
More google-age turned up one more option. The nut alone is available from Kinesis in the UK for a mere £2.92 (less than four bucks “American”!). Unfortunately, actually shipping TO America is north of £23 or $31 in greenbacks. If this part was for something non-mission critical (say, the washing machine), I would have gone the cheap route. But I really wanted to get my fast bike online for the quickly improving weather and upcoming SXSW.
This story is already longer than it should be, but there’s one more thing. Getting the nut to press fit into the frame was a bear. I spent literally hours on it along with using half my tool box. It has a tiny O-ring that serves the dual purpose of making it nearly impossible to seat and being the secret to retaining the nut in the frame. After a few more emails with DB, some advised “wiggling”, square holes and round nuts…it seemed to set into place.
Kudos to Diamondback for their responsiveness. A little less kudos for their kit “deal” of unrelated parts and spendy shipping. Kudos also to my local REI. The mechanic there spent some time chatting with me about the problem, followed up with DB, and ended up learning the same lesson as me.
A few years back, I started up BeenThereBikeTours, dedicated to finding every #citybiketour on the planet. I hoped, and still do, to ride and review as many of them as possible.
The website has (soon to be had) a blog, tour reviews and an index by region. For example:
There are over 600 commercial or regular city bike tours worldwide. And dozens more self-guided options. New York City, at 14, had the most in one city at last count. And there are tours in cities you might not think much about, like Kuching (in Borneo) or Da Lat (Viet Nam).
I’m not aware of any other website that has attempted to index them all. Unfortunately bike tour companies come and bike tour companies go. Keeping that list current with new tours and frequently validating that the listed companies are still in business has become more work than I’m willing to dedicate.
The real fun is actually taking bike tours and making up my own DIY routes. And writing the reviews is rewarding and helps preserve the memory of the day. For years, I’ve written personal “trip reports” for vacations. It’s a habit I learned from keeping a journal of my month in Germany when I was 17.
So…I’ve decided not to renew my hosting for BTBT. After June 10, 2019, BTBT and its indexes will be gone. On the bright side, I’ve transitioned the ride reviews here.
Most of the commercial bike tours are pretty easy to find via Google. For example, here’s Berlin. Unfortunately, the tricky part is that search doesn’t reveal some of the more offbeat tours and rides. Not to worry though, I’ve consolidated the best of them here.
Finally, I had originally hoped to attract some sponsors for BTBT. Unfortunately that has not happened. I don’t believe there is enough traffic to justify placing some Google ads. The net is that I’m spending time and money (hosting) for little benefit. Adios then to BeenThereBikeTours.
The city of Austin has placed usage counters on 20 of the city’s urban trails. The counters are able to differentiate between bikes and pedestrians. #19 at the south end of the Mobility Bridges and #20 at the beginning of the southern extension of the Violet Crown Trail are especially interesting for Southwest Austin.
The Mobility Bridge counter should see a considerable uptick when (if?) the city gets the south Mopac connector trails in place to the Industrial Oaks area. I had a chance to speak to city’s Urban Trails Program Manager recently about this. At least a portion of that connection will be via the YBC Trail.
The Violet Crown trail counter (#20) is at the northern end of lengthy run of new trail to the south including a new bridge en route to the Veloway.