Bike Safety 101: Riding the Roads

This morning I had planned on getting up at 4:30am as usual for my bike ride but because I went to bed at 11pm last night, I was still too groggy so I decided to sleep another hour.  I don’t have any place to be so why not right?  Darrin, thinking that I’m awake comes into my room at 4:45am to make me read an article in the newspaper about bicycle safety.

When I got up at 5:30 I read the article and thanked him for thinking of me.  Fortunately I already know everything that was in the article so I was already covered.  Luckily I don’t have to spend too much time on the road with cars to have to worry, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be reminded of the rules of the road every now and again.

I noticed that the article was written by the Chicago Tribune so I went online to find it and here it is.  Bike safety 101: Riding the roads – Chicago Tribune

That article has some good points but there are some things that they didn’t mention so I am here to add something to the list.

When you are riding with a helmet, and make sure you are, also buy a helmet mounted rear view mirror so you can see the cars and cyclists behind you.  This helps me see the cars behind me on the road and it also helps me see when there are a bunch of cyclists speeding towards me.  The article says that assume that there are drivers who are either drunk, texting or just not paying attention.  You can’t be looking behind you constantly so it’s a good thing to have that mirror.  And not handlebar mirrors because in some cases you can’t really look down, that would be too distracting.

Unfortunately, as with cars there are blind spots, even with helmet mounted mirrors.  This morning as I was coming home, I left the bike trail and got back on the street with traffic and there is a stretch of road that curves.  Well, in my mirror I can see behind me but there is a blind spot.  Unless I turn my head to look completely, I won’t see the cars that are driving directly behind me in the right lane, only the cars in the other lanes.

I had stopped because of all the traffic.  I usually go out into the left hand turning lane in the center of the road to get back into the neighborhoods and it’s usually safe in that spot but this morning after all the cars passed by I started to ride again and as I was picking up speed I noticed out of my peripheral vision a black SUV that swerved to stop before it hit me.  That was my fault because I shouldn’t just look in the mirror, especially when I stop like that.  I need to turn my head around so I can see to make sure there aren’t any cars still coming.  I was still looking in the mirror so that’s why it was puzzling that I didn’t see it.

As I was getting in the turning lane I looked over at him and waved saying “SORRY!” and he waved back at me as if to say “it’s ok”.  If I had gotten hit, it would’ve been my fault because I wasn’t paying attention to my blind spots.

So that is another tip to think about when you are riding in curved roads with cars.  Check your blind spots before going into the turning lane otherwise you might get killed.

The funny thing is, I was thinking about that article when that happened so my mind was elsewhere.  I was thinking about bicycle road safety when I was unsafe.  Oh sweet irony.

I learned a huge lesson today about safety.  I also learned that if I can’t leave the house as early as 5am then perhaps I need to just stay home because it’s much easier to get into that turning lane early in the morning when there are no cars on the road.  I would much rather be safe with no cars than get hit by a car because of a stupid blind spot.

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Blow The Dust Out Of Your Computer (PSA)

I don’t know if many people are aware of this or not but if you have a computer that is at least a year old, it has dust inside of it.  Not just on top of the parts but inside of them as well.

It’s a good idea to buy a can of compressed air, that is unless you have an actual air compressor.  Either way, just unplug everything from the back of it and bring it outside.  Open the side door of it by unscrewing the 2 screws in the back then start blowing things.

You will be surprised when all of a sudden you see a dust cloud forming right in front of you as all of the dust starts shooting out of places you didn’t even know dust could exist.  This may not help your computer perform faster or efficiently but I’m sure it can’t be good for the fans or your CPU’s heat sink to be that dusty.

We don’t have an air compressor anymore so I went to Walgreen’s and bought a can of compressed air for $7.99 (WOW $8 for air!) and came home and opened both computers and just started blowing all the dust out.  I was shocked at how much dust came out of them.  The CPU’s heat sink had a lot of dust and so did the power supply fan and case fan.  I was actually shocked at how much dust was in the case fan compared to the rest of the computer.

The reason I did this is because Chips power supply died, he couldn’t even turn his computer on anymore and when I opened his computer up to take it out I could see all this dust in there.  I figured it was that time again but I was out of canned air so I figured now is as good as any to buy another can.

So that is my tip for the day.  You can buy a little car tire air compressor that plugs into your cars lighter socket for around $20 and it will work just as good as a $8 can of compressed air and it will last you a lot longer than the cans do.  It’s worth it knowing your computer isn’t going to have all that dust inside of it.  I blow the dust out of both computers at least 2 or 3 times a year and you should too.

Why I Stopped Writing My Book

I stopped writing my book for several reasons and here they are.

I started writing and I think I got 3 chapters written and edited and typed storylines for 3 or 4 other chapters then I quit. I stopped writing because I had to start working on finishing the Christmas stockings but I didn’t work on those all day long, only a few hours so really that is no excuse for why I stopped.

One other reason I stopped writing my book is because I started hearing these horror stories of other people’s childhoods (that’s what my book is based on) and I started thinking that my childhood was mild compared to these people. So I started to think that people may read my book and think that I had it good. Even though I had a rough childhood, other people had worse than I did so my story pales in comparison and it just made me feel really tiny in the scheme of things.

I saw the movie “Riding In Cars With Boys” with Drew Barrymore and she wrote a book about her life and she had to have her ex-husband sign a paper so she could publish the book. Well, there is no way I’m gonna get any of the people I am writing about to sign their name on a piece of paper agreeing to let me publish them because I say some horrible things about almost every family member who did something rotten to me. I just know that they would ask me what I wrote before signing and I know they would never give me permission when they hear what I wrote. Plus I don’t speak to my stepdad or sister anymore and I know those greedy bastards would do what Drews ex-husbands wife would do, they would make me give them money first.

So before I continue writing I’m thinking of changing it from an autobiography to fiction and just change a few things. Obviously I’m gonna have to change names, that way I won’t get sued and I’m probably going to have to change the way things happened so it doesn’t seem too familiar to people.

I am not a writer and I only have 5 years experience as a reader (of fiction) to sit down and start writing a book so that’s why I stopped. I think that I need to keep reading other books to give me more of an understanding about how books work before I start writing again. And who knows, maybe I might take an online course in writing to help.

We will see how it goes. I’m not giving up on it, just putting it on the back burner for now.

Bicycle Trailers

Last year I found an article on the Dvice blog about a guy who built his own bicycle trailer for going to “Burning Man”.  In that article was a link to another website which showed the same article but also another article for Roy the PVC Guy who was building his own trailer out of PVC.

I was looking at another article which has some links to other trailers people have made such as this trailer that doesn’t look exactly like a trailer to sleep in as much as it just looks like the kind of trailer you use for hauling your things.  Although if you keep watching as he directs his grandson to help him you will discover that it is indeed a trailer for sleeping in.  I was oohing and ahhing throughout the process which only took 12 minutes.

I can’t add that video in here for some odd reason but you can see it here.  Vic’s Journey to Manitoba.

But, as nice as that is you have to look at this video right here.  This is absolutely amazing.  And I know it’s not for bicycles, it’s for cars but if you are able to build this yourself it would make a very nice bicycle trailer.

It’s just a matter of lifting the top and putting it on the ground and the tent pops up all by itself.  It’s so easy.  If you build this for a bicycle you just use the same concept but with bicycle wheels.

I also like this idea because it allows for 2 people to share a space and tow their own trailer.

I don’t know if anyone has built this one but if they have I would love to see it in action.  In fact, if anyone has any videos please send them to me, I’d love to see them.

Is Bakersfield A Safe Place To Ride A Bicycle?

Is Bakersfield a safe place to ride a bicycle?

This article was in today’s Bakersfield Californian newspaper.

In my opinion it is only safe to ride a bicycle if you are a defensive rider.  If you are watching where you are going, looking both left and right, never crossing the street unless you have the green light (or in some cases walk signal).  Never riding on the wrong side of the road then crossing while a car is turning left (which happened to me).

This one time I was leaving the bike path and I was crossing the street and this pickup truck was pulling out in front of me while he was looking right at me.  He nearly ran me over.  This was about 10am in the morning too so it’s not like he was drinking and driving… that I know of at least.

I have a little mirror that is attached to my helmet and I’m constantly looking at it to see the traffic behind me so I know what is coming at me.

Now I cannot say that it is 100% safe to ride as early as I do because even at 4:30am there are probably still some drunk drivers out there but usually when I ride that early there are maybe 1 or 2 cars every 10 minutes so it’s pretty safe where and when I ride.

You also have to consider the fact that I’m not riding in the busy streets along with traffic.  I start out in a neighborhood and I’m pretty much only in neighborhoods until I get to the bike path so there is not that much danger of getting hit.  And I know a route that gets me to the mall and to Target where it’s through neighborhoods and I never have to drive with traffic.

So is Bakersfield a safe place to ride a bicycle?  I think it is during the morning or during the daytime IF you aren’t driving in traffic where there are no bike paths or where cars are parked right in the bike path.  If you try to ride through neighborhoods then you are safe.  But if you drive alongside cars then there is never a guarantee that you are ever safe.  Even if you are crossing the street you aren’t ever safe because there are always reports of people getting killed while crossing the street.  Is it safe for me to ride here?  Yes, because I am a defensive rider and I pick the best safest routes.

If you live in a city that you aren’t sure where the safest routes are, why not just go to your favorite map website, I go to google maps and I map out my route then I adjust the route so I am going through neighborhoods then I print it out and hold it while riding through that neighborhood so I learn it so the next time I have to go that way I will remember.  And if I don’t remember then I print it out again (if I threw the old map out that is).

Merlin on NBC

Tonight Merlin was on NBC.  There were 2 1 hour episodes and considering magic is one of my most favorite things to watch on TV I just had to watch it.  I was a little bit disappointed that the King banned magic or face death but I guess it will make it even more interesting to watch.

As I said there were 2 1 hour episodes.  I completely forgot it was going to be on so I almost missed it.  I IM’d a friend of mine who I know wanted to see it so I reminded her and she didn’t even know it was 2 hours either so she had to go into the program on her VCR to add the extra hour.  She records it then watches it the next day.  I on the other hand have to watch shows on their premiere night so I can turn around and come here and post my comments.

I liked it.  There, I said it.  Keep in mind that my kind of show is more of a modern day show with cars and computers and the use of telephones instead of horses, abacus and shouting at each other but it was good.

The actor who played Merlin looks very young like he’s 17 or 18 years old, he’s very skinny but he plays the role great.  I loved how at the beginning he didn’t have to say anything to cast spells, it just happened.  That was pretty cool.

Now next week he will be exposed and face death but you can’t believe he will because they just started the show, why would they throw the towel in after 3 episodes?  Now when I say exposed, I mean the King finds out he is a wizard, not that he dropped his towel in front of someone lol.  Come on people, get your mind out of the gutter.  Oh wait, that was my mind.

Anyway, hope everyone else enjoyed/enjoys Merlin Sunday’s on NBC.  Ding ding ding.

Too Cold To Ride

Well, it seems that Summer isn’t quite yet here.  I have been waking up nearly every morning at 4am to go out bike riding thinking that it would be in the 90’s or 100’s during the day so I’m basically trying to beat the heat.  Well, we had heat for maybe a week but then it was gone.

The last 3 days (including today) it has been too cold to ride.  Yeah I could’ve just gone out when the temperature was in the 70’s but I’ve gotten so used to riding when there are no cars when the sun isn’t up yet that I don’t want to go out during the day.

Friday I checked the weather channel application on my computer and it said that there were going to be thunderstorms so I didn’t go out.  Yesterday when I went outside to go bike riding it was raining, well more like sprinkling but you know how it goes.  It starts out with a sprinkle then next thing you know it’s raining hard.  So I just stayed in.  This morning it was so cold outside and I just decided to wait until when it was warmer and now it’s too warm even though it’s only 68 lol.  Well, the weather channel says 68 but it’s warmer than that outside.

Hopefully tomorrow it will be ok.  It’s supposed to be 85 during the day and it says that I should wear pants and a jacket at 7am for exercising because it will be 65 but that is a good temperature in the early morning to exercise for me.

I never thought I would say this but I wish the heat would come back lol.