Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My Bike Then, My Bike Now

David Hogan
Leeds, Al


I got my first bike later than most kids as we simply didn't have the money to buy bikes for four kids in our family. So, I walked, and I walked a lot, from the time I was in first grade, all the way up to about age 12, when I got a bike from money I saved cutting grass in the neighborhood.

Pretty soon I realized those walks I used to make in the summer from near Belcher Lumber Company in West End, over to Legion Field and other "far off" places to an adolescent, were now just a bike ride away. 

The bike to me at the ripe old age of 12 was independence and freedom!  It was also a way I cleared my head in solitude, as well as being a way to meet up with friends.

I recently read an article with the writer lamenting their feelings on why everyone doesn't "ride the right way" anymore.  Hmmmm.

Fast forward 46 years later and my bike(s) are still independence and freedom to me.  Additionally, they are a means to hook up with others and share a bike ride with friends. What they are not, is something where someone is going to tell me what I can ride, how I am supposed to ride, when I am supposed to ride, and who I am supposed to ride with.  To do so would be to spit in the face of the freedom and independence my bikes have brought to me for almost half a century!

You enjoy your ride, and I'll enjoy mine, and just maybe we'll have some great rides together too.

Friday, November 16, 2018

After a Year on the E-Bike

My e-bike on a bike ride in Maine this year.
Birmingham, Al.
David Hogan
Founder, Cycling Talk

It was August of last year when I bought my first e-bike from Bike-Link in Hoover. I've now logged over 3000 miles, changed the disc brakes, changed tires, been hit by a pick up truck, and now I play games with the motor to see how long I can go without it.

Do I still like my e-bike?  More than ever, and I'll tell you why in this article.

A Love of Bicycles

Our family has a long history of cycling that goes back to our love of weekend camping and throwing Dahon Folding bicycles in the back of the Tundra pickup on our many weekend camping trips. How much did we camp?  We gave the state of Alabama our website, outdooralabama.com, that's how much.

Riding around campgrounds was a combination of road biking, mountain biking, and dodging vehicles and walkers in great numbers. If you have ever been to Wind Creek State Park you know how crowded it gets.  My wife and I let our 3 boys enjoy the same freedoms on a bike we enjoyed from an early age back to my yellow Schwinn 10 speed of the 70's, that in my young mind was the ultimate freedom and exploration machine.

Fast Forward a Few Years

Campground cycling was about it for our time on bikes other than the boys riding around the neighborhood, as life during the work week was busy like it was for most everyone raising kids. We lived in the burbs and I have to admit, I was one of those fighting to keep my ego in check that would gripe about cyclist that got in my way.

I've found through a couple of years of group riding that my last statement is very common to those who pick biking up again during the middle age years. So why did I make this journey down memory lane to get to e-bikes?

It's Great to Ride Again, BUT THOSE DAMN KNEES

Yep, and I'll even spare you how riding again, helps me keep my diabetes in check, or the 40 pounds I've kept off in two years, but I will tell you I'm not a spring chicken anymore, and no matter how much "motivation" is thrown your way, or GUILT for that matter, your body will tell you what is going on.

Now, after saying that, the waters separate and people start picking sides about getting an e-bike, or toughing it out and building muscle, and lot's of other advice as well.  ALL I can say to that is I know my body and others don't, and if it weren't for my e-bike I would not have made the 3000 plus miles I rode since last year, especially up hills.

Heck Yeah I get a Workout!

IT didn't take me long on an e-bike to realize the range you get from the battery is NOT what everyone thinks it is. It's really pretty simple in regard to physics as what you get or take if you prefer from the pedal assist motor, directly impacts what is left in the battery.  So if your ride is all on flat roads, you'll have a lot more range on your battery than if you've been climbing hills all day on a ride.

So my IZip E3 Dash bike has a range of about 30 miles on the lowest power setting and with mostly flat roads.  That's more than enough for most group bike rides or even the average daily commute to work, but I pedal a little further than that many times and I've learned to stay out of the motor until I truly need it.  Doing that gives me even more of a workout because my ebike weighs about 65 pounds without the stuff I have in my hard shell case on the back rack.

YOU'RE CHEATING!!!

Oh if I had a dollar every time I've heard that one from somebody, yet I've not entered one race since I was in the Air Force years ago. My Strava rides clearly indicate my ebike and most of the time I'm the sweeper on group rides, so there isn't going to be too many personal records or king of the mountain stats. BUT, haters gonna hate.  Let them, they didn't buy it and they aren't you.  If you didn't have an ebike they'd gripe about the spandex you are or aren't wearing and several other things too, so let's move on from those folks and just learn to laugh them off.

Don't Forget the Gears

I did a lot of research before I bought my ebike and saw several cheaper models with no gears and some with a throttle.  The throttle was NOT something I even wanted to consider as I wanted the workout from pedaling, but you may need or want one and they do exist.

My ebike has 10 gears and I use them and the ebike cadence sensor knows when I'm using them too.  Let me explain.  If I'm riding down the road and I'm in 9th gear and turn on the motor (remember I keep it off a lot until needed) for an approaching hill, I can't feel any help from the motor at all!  BUT if I drop down to 4th gear the sensor and motor kicks in and says, OH he's going up a hill, OK, have some juice.

It won't take long on a smart ebike with a cadence sensor to realize it works with your gears. This is what allows you to continue to get a workout albeit an assisted one when needed. Look carefully at the gears available when buying one and I strongly encourage you to turn the motor off on a test ride and try out the gears without the motor on as well.

Charge It Please!

Removable battery with key in lock on an IZip ebike.
One thing I learned quickly was to charge the battery back up as soon as I got in from a ride and I mean right then too!  It's easy to forget to charge the battery when you are tired, but if you are leading a ride the next day or going to work you better have made that charge, so just go straight to the charger after a ride.

This brings us to another buying decision.  Some batteries can be removed and some can't and that can cause charging problems if you have to drag the entire bike near an outlet as opposed to just taking off the battery and going to the outlet. If you have a removable battery make sure it comes with a key and lock or you'll have to worry about someone stealing in when parked and batteries are around $500 for a replacement.

I'm Happy!

After a year of riding and learning about my ebike I am more than happy!  I'm riding more than ever, maintaining my weight loss and it allows me to do other things too like pull a trailer on group rides with supplies without giving it much of a thought. Don't forget that extra weight like a loaded trailer does impact the battery life.

If you want to cycle and feel it's too hard, or if you have health issues, or if you'd just like a more pleasant ride, by all means start researching and trying out ebikes. I'm always happy to let someone give mine a test drive.  Be safe out there.

Monday, November 5, 2018

So God Gave Me Another Lesson and This One Was A Bicycle

By David Hogan
Birmingham, AL

Yep, there is something about griping and being ungrateful that just cries out to the universe, to be heard.

And heard I have been, many times in my life.

When I bitched about the way I was treated in my high paying management job, I soon found myself running my own business with employees doing the same bitching, but now at me.

When I bitched about elderly people and how easy they had it, I soon became the 24/7 caregiver to parents with terminal diseases and Alzheimer, and realized my gripes were unfounded.

I can go on and on with the many lessons I've had in my life, but you get the idea, so I'll share just one more.

I used to bitch about those that got in my way, cars going too slow, dogs that didn't give me time to get in the door before wanting to play, pedestrians waiting until the last minute to step in the crosswalk, and bicycles, oh those damn bicycles that have no damn business out here on my road, and in my way.

Yeah, I certainly had a hole named after me a time or two in my life.

And then God gave me a bicycle, and in my later years, at that.

And instantly on my bike, I was free.

And instantly on my bike, I was vulnerable.

I soon learned many of my bike riding friends also had a displeasure while driving their cars about bicycles before they became bike riders again later in life, although it's not something brought up a lot, but it's there for many of us.

I soon learned how utterly violent those in automobiles could be to me and my wife, as we rode.

And yet, we ride on, and we are both free and vulnerable, but we are also much more than that.

We are grateful.

Grateful, we were once again shown what it's like on the other side of something, we once griped about.

Maybe what God gave me all these years was more than just valuable lessons.

Yes, I'm quite certain the lessons are truthfully, blessings.

Enjoy your ride, wherever it may take you!

OH, maybe be grateful a bit too!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

2000 Miles on a Bicycle in One Year - How Hard is That?

By David Hogan
Birmingham, Alabama
October 23, 2018

Logging 2000 miles on a bicycle is not that hard with the help of group riding. So let's break it down a little.

Strava App showing 2003
miles I've logged to date.
In Birmingham, Alabama here is how you can hit 1000 miles, one of the first riding milestones desired by many riders.  Many riders don't even start riding until cold weather gets out of the way, so let's look at this goal from March until the end of November, which is 9 months of riding time.

You ride the following group rides each week to get over 2000 miles which is double the desired milestone of many, and I'll be conservative with the miles for each ride:

Tuesday Night - Le Tour de Ham - 12 miles

Wednesday Night - Cycling Talk - 12 miles

Thursday Night - Trample - 8 miles

Saturday - Saturday Stroll - 15 miles

Sunday - Team RWB - 20 miles

TOTAL MILES = 67 in one week

OK, first of all this by no means a list of all the rides, you could have ridden with Magic City Bike Club, Birmingham Bicycle Club or many others, but the idea is there are many group rides to choose from. So using my above list that is a total of 67 miles in a week, and we have 36 weeks to ride in from March to November making a total of 2412 miles.

Now, cut my list in half or just take out a couple of group rides, and you still get 1206 miles.

That's 1206 miles on a bicycle that were not spent on a couch eating junk food.

Let's go ride a bike!

Monday, April 4, 2016

The NEED to be right and RESPECTING others.


The old and highly successful restaurant owner ceased his culinary duties to greet the young group of students from across the state, all having won culinary competitions in their respective regions.

One student asked the old chef how he prepared his kitchen for the first meals of the morning. The old man began explaining the steps he went through and why.
The young student laughed aloud, coldly telling the restaurant owner he clearly did not understand efficient workflow.

The student began describing steps that he said were clearly better and upon completion told the old restaurant owner he should clearly see his way was more efficient in every way.

The old man just said, "no thank you."

The arrogant student became enraged and appealed to the director of the program who had brought them there to agree with him, and added there was nothing the director could say to defeat his way as being better than the old restaurant owner, as it followed everything they had been taught.

The director said, I need say only one thing, to defeat your taught ways.

"You do not own the restaurant, he does", said the director, as he pointed toward the old restaurant owner.

The director thanked the restaurant owner for his time and moved the group of young culinary experts on to their next restaurant visit.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

We Need the Dialog on Guns but Let's be Clear...

I think it important we have the dialog in America on deaths and guns, but I am tired of having the dialog with arguments that have been ruled on by the Supreme Court as if they are still waiting to be resolved.

Until the constitution is legally changed when they rule, that is it. You can cite the dissenting opinions until pigs fly, but they remain the opinion of the side that lost.

Certainly we as a people can move to change the constitution as our founders were brilliant in allowing such, yet making it hard to do so.

WITH THAT SAID there are two items that continue to be argued on the 2nd amendment that HAVE made it to the Supreme Court.

Click to enlarge
They are the notion that the 2nd amendment applies only to those in the military by virtue of the clause "a well regulated militia", which has been deemed by the court to mean THE PEOPLE, not the National Guard or the military. (See image to left showing the opinion of the court as written by Scalia)

Click to enlarge
The other is the notion that modern day weapons do not apply to the 2nd amendment once again with the court opinion clearly stating that is not so. (See image to the right showing the opinion of the court as written by Scalia)

I have included the ENTIRE Supreme Court opinion of of Heller v Washington D.C. where this was addressed. You can find dissenting remarks against what I highlight in the photos, but they remain the remarks of the side that did not win.


http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf

By all means have the debate to make things safer and yet retain our rights, but these two arguments are without validity if we are going to follow the laws of our land.  Using them over and over again simply stalls real discussion.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Facebook Posting Etiquette

My rules for Facebook posting and commenting...please note these are MY rules, and I base them off 20 years of professionally managing online forums and as the former Chief Sysop of PC World Online Forums in the 1990's, where I was known as PCW David.

1. It is important to remember that everyone has a timeline.  Your timeline is your timeline, and other folk's timeline, is, well, not yours.  Think of your timeline as your house and this may be easier to understand.

2. What you do on your timeline within the scope of what Facebook allows, is acceptable.  It may not win you friends or likes, but it is YOUR timeline.

3. Deleting unwanted comments on your timeline is acceptable.  Again, it may be unpopular and even cause you to lose friends, but it is your timeline.  We'll cover better ways to handle negative/unwanted comments in a moment.

4. Automatically commenting about something controversial on another's timeline is "stupid" (yep a harsh word but a correct one when not thinking), if you haven't really thought it through before doing so.

5. The fact you disagree with something, does not mean your comments will not be deleted on another's timeline.  This also applies to comments that you know are not correct.  Once again, it will serve you well to remember that timelines are like homes.  EVEN if they are giving out wrong information, they can still delete your comments....like it, or not.

6. Consider dealing with controversy on your OWN timeline, not others.  I'm not saying it's OK to call them out on your own posting and timeline, although that is up to you... and has consequences in doing so.  You may be OK with the consequences, but know they exist.

7. If someone has posted something wrong or misleading, consider a private message to the person.  They may not know what they have posted is wrong, and they'll appreciate the privacy in discussing it.  On the other hand, they may not care for your opinion in which case if you feel the need to correct bad information you'll usually go further on your own timeline.  Why?  Many people have similar thinking friends and they may not care for you calling out their friend.

addition...

8. If you posted something controversial and ASKED a question....well... you asked a question, and yes it's your timeline and you can still defend it as you see fit, but once again...you asked!

addition...

9. You may think that because you know the person and you have bantered with them before on their timeline, all is OK and you can keep arguing... Maybe so, maybe not...  Many people will "tolerate" comments for a while, right up to the point they move you to their acquaintance or restricted list. Don't take for granted friendships when it comes to being respectful.

Again, think of timelines as homes.

10. F-bombs, someone calling you an SOB and other very expletive attacks mean you are BLOCKED in my book, no matter what got your dander up. I watched this happen with someone after only two comments were made and the person went postal over-reacting to what he and he alone, thought was a jab at him.  It doesn't even matter the reason, F-bombs are an instant get out of my house.

I'll be adding more to this on a continuing basis...