Bicycling!

I just have to tell you all like the proud father I am: My daughter now knows how to bicycle all by her herself. For a week or so she has known how to bicycle with the little exception of that she couldn’t start herself. Today our evening walk started the same way as most, I held her to start and then she was off. When we were almost home again, she didn’t want to wait for us to catch up with her so she tried to start herself and did. Back home she waited for us at the entrance to the driveway, she wanted to show us how she had started herself and she did. So now she knows how to bicycle, from start to stop.

Here is a picture of her on the way last week.

Bicycling Daughter

Ringsjön runt

(Picutre from Ringsjön runt)

On Saturday I’m going to cycle Ringsjön runt. It’s a local cycle-race around the lake we live next to. There are 4 different distances, 3 road and one off-road, I’m going for the middle road one of 65 km, as that one passes our place just out on the main road. The other two don’t even come close. (35 and 125 km)

There still are spots open if you want to join me: www.ringsjonrunt.se/index.htm (Page in swedish)

If you want to follow my progress just check out this link: www.greenalp.com/RealtimeTracker/index.php?viewuser=wolfie217 on greenalp. I will also try to make it possible to track me on Runtastic for you of my friends that have facebook. (I haven’t tested that it really is Live, a link should show up on my feed there).

If you want to cheer me on in real life you can look at this map and find a spot. www.ringsjonrunt.se/index_htm_files/ringsjon-runt-alla-rundor-2014-2.jpg

I’m on the yellow route.

My legs hurt

I did it. Today everything was right. Our son didn’t sleep before it was too short for him to sleep before we have to pick up his sister from preschool. It was dry outside and I was in the mood. So I packed our son in the trailer for the bicycle and off we went, to pick up his sister by bicycle.

I had checked the route and it gave me a hint that it wouldn’t be easy. Back and forth along the small backroads, I won’t take the main road, it’s not safe. It should be about 8 km, and more than 50 meters up and down. It turned out to be a bit longer and the last part the wind came straight against me.

Our daughter was happy that I picked her up with the bicycle. Her brother slept on the way there. On the way home I had some time to make pictures.

We live in an electricity producing area; there are wind turbines all over the place.

Wind turbines

As I got a bit tired I had to make a few short brakes, just to rest my legs and arms.

Taking a break

Just before we come home I have to lift/drag all of us across this old stone wall. It is hard to imagine that I can get both bicycle and trailer through the shrubs behind the wall, but the path is wide enough.

Crossing of the wall

Doing the pickup this way made the day feel shorter. (A good thing when one has to entertain a 1 and a 4 year old kid). It was fun to actually go somewhere and not just going back and forth along our little road we live at. I just love bicycling.

On the downside I realised in how bad shape I am. Okay, the wind was against me, but 8.5 km in just short of 40 minutes, that’s not good. I will have to do this on a regular basis to get back in to some kind of shape again. It would do me good. So I will try to do it at least once a week, as long as it isn’t raining, I’m comfortable that way and dirt roads just aren’t fun to be on when wet. I won’t do it with too much snow either, who knows how well the snow is cleared off the small backroads.

Now I will try to sleep, my legs are killing me.

Bicycling with kids again

Now I’ve done it (or actually last week some time).

Made the first bicycling trip with our son. One afternoon I crammed both of them into the trailer and bicycled a few round in the neighbourhood. They seemed to enjoy it.

Kids in bicycle trailer

We have to do it more in the future. Someday I might even pick up our daughter from the day care by bicycle. To avoid the big road I will have to take a trip more than three kilometres longer than by car. There is a long term plan to build a bicycle path along the big road, but who knows when that actually will be built.

Sometimes I’m crazy

Sometimes I do crazy things. Like today. I biked to work. All the way. It ended up being 58 km. I took a wrong turn at least twice. The entire trip took me 2 hours and 45 minutes. Not too bad as I haven’t biked much this last year. Now I only have to get the bicycle back home.

I love biking to work. It’s so liberating. I get to enjoy the great outdoors in the morning. Sunrise is a wonderful thing. Today it was hidden in the clouds, but the clouds left and the sun started to shine.

I just live too far from work to do it on a regular basis. I won’t bike when the weather is bad or if I already biked once that week. It would just take too much of my free time. But if I do it twice a month I should be satisfied.

Now the bike will get some new parts, a bunch of the gears just don’t work anymore and the chain is stretched. Then it will be an even more pleasurable experience.

Full time parent

Now I’m officially on parental leave. We have a great opportunity here in Sweden where we can stretch it to relatively long times. I will be home for at least half a year, but probably longer.

I have actually not worked since Wednesday, as I had worked some extra hours during the summer making it possible for me to take Thursday and Friday off. Having four days all three of us was really nice. On Friday we all went into town and had my parents over in the afternoon. They really love being with us, especially our daughter. She likes them too; she brought almost every one of her books to my dad and he read them to her.

On Saturday we did a little excursion to Drottningholm with our bicycles. That is always nice. We looked at the sheep, gees and tourists walking around the park.

Today was the first day I was home with her alone. I didn’t know how it would be. I couldn’t even imagine it before. Would I be able to take care of her in a good way? Would there be time to do all the things I wanted and had to do? Would I be able to comfort her when she was missing her mother? Today it all went fine. I think anyway. And I even had time for a shower. (With my daughter playing with the shower curtain at the same time).

The hardest thing was to comfort her when she was longing for her mother. She walked over to the door and sat down crying for a little while. I picked her up and talked to her, after a few minutes she stopped crying and started playing again.

She is just so cute when she talks her own little language. I wish I knew what she is saying. I think she wishes we knew too.

One thing we didn’t do during the day was taking a nap. She does need a nap during the day. Today she took the nap at 6 in the evening, making it hard for her to get to rest now while I’m writing this.

So this was the first day. Now there will be many more to come. Tomorrow we will go swimming and we will do that a few more Tuesdays. I don’t have that much planned. I should have the dinner of this week planned, but I still lack a vegetarian meal on Thursday, so if you have a good idea that isn’t oven-roasted vegetables give me a hint.

How to get wet and enjoy it.

How to get wet:

Work half an hour longer than planned. (I wanted to start a simulation before leaving).

  • Get yourself on a bicycle.
  • Move towards the dark clouds.
  • Don’t stop and put on a raincoat.
  • Don’t even bring one.
  • Continue biking.
  • As the rain starts: Don’t take a break under a bus stop.
  • Continue even as the water rises on the road. (In this case about 1 cm).
  • Drive close to cars, they splash some on you.
  • Drive through the river that comes down from Blackeberg. (It used to be a road).

If you aren’t wet by now, you might be water-repellent.

As I got home only the back of my underwear was still dry. Probably the spot I was sitting on. Luckily I have the best wife there is: She handed me a towel as soon I entered the door at home.

Now how to enjoy it:

  • Don’t regret biking home half an hour later than planned.
  • Don’t stop under a bus stop, you might stay there all night.
  • Let it be summer, or at least above 15°C.
  • See it as an adventure.
  • Switch on the lights. You really don’t want some car rear-ending you.
  • Don’t stop. You get cold standing still.
  • Feel everything getting heavier. It’s a funny feeling if you think about it.
  • Enjoy the squeaking sound wet shoes make.

Today I managed well. I followed all the points above and I really enjoyed it. I might not be wearing the same shoes to work tomorrow though.

On a totally different note: My daughter does not really walk yet, she has done a few steps on her own, but she does want us to hold her hands while walking to not fall over. Sometimes that even doesn’t help. As soon as that changes I’ll let you know.

Ellinor’s first bike-ride

Today was a special day. On Thursday, Susanna bought Ellinor a bicycle-helmet. Today we tried it out.

This afternoon we installed the seat in the bike-trailer. Now we can go for bike-rides all three of us. This will be great, so much better than to walk and take the bus or subway.

Afterward we had a little short test; we took a short trip of a few hundred meters to try it out. Ellinor seemed to be okay with it. I just have to be more careful crossing speed-bumps and curbs. Her head with the helmet on wiggled a bit much.

Here a picture of us when we got back in.

So many things have happened the last month. Ellinor eats more and more of the same food we eat. Sure we have to chop it up, but some things she eats whole. I don’t really know what her favourite is, but she really likes potatoes and tomatoes.

Her technique to move around has been perfected. Now she can get around the entire flat. We really have to be watchful, just looking away a short moment and she’s in boxes or pulling cables. Luckily her technique of moving around has the pro that a standing chair is a barrier she can’t get past, but for how long? We have started to remove things from floor-level; some things remain to be removed still. We don’t want to take all things away; she has to learn that some things just are not to play with and some things we just can’t remove; the electric outlets, luckily they are protected so that small fingers can’t get hurt. We don’t want her to learn that it’s okay though, one day she might get to an outlet that isn’t protected and we don’t want an accident then.

A short film of Ellinor eating tomatoes:

When I get home from work, if she is on the floor, she looks around the corner in the cutest way, leans forward to check, not having to take two or three more hops to the front.

Some days biking is fun

Some days the bike ride to work is easy, other days it’s just plain agony. Yesterday it was fun.

This week I’ve only biked to work two times. Due to a trip to Gothenburg and Malmoe this week I couldn’t bike as much as I like. On Monday I biked to the Old Town in the morning. I was surprised with the amount of people biking to work these days. Back when I worked in town there were maybe 3-5 other bicyclist at the traffic-lights on good days. Now it was maybe 10-15. That’s some change.

So many other bicyclists are a bit of a hassle, the bike-paths are just not made for that much traffic. I had to break so many times not being able to overtake due to oncoming traffic. I can imagine doing this every day makes you do stupid things like cutting people off or just do a chicken-race with the oncoming bicyclists. I did see that happen a few times on my ride into town. Good I’m working in a different direction. I only overtake maybe four or five others on my way there and that’s just not as stressful.

Yesterday it was a rainy day. Most of the times I don’t care too much about rain biking. But yesterday it was just right. First of all I wouldn’t have any traffic. (There are just less people out bicycling on rainy days). Then I would really wake up. I have been a bit tired after working and travelling a lot. I had a meeting early at work.

The best part was that I had prepared good. The most important part was that I had my shoe-cover. This keeps my feet dry, even though I have a few really big puddles along the way. Then I did remember to bring a second set of dry clothes. It’s so much better not to have to change to damp cloths after work.

I was soaked getting to work, I didn’t get as wet on the way home, the rain had lightened up. This made up for two really fun bike-rides.

Life as an all year bicyclist

As you probably know I bike all year around. No weather stops me from dragging my bicycle out of the shed in the morning to bike the 7 km to work. Most days I really look forward to doing that. I do have days I don’t look forward to it tough. Like the day it started raining just before I left, still being below freezing. Or maybe any day when I realise that if I just would have gotten out of bed half an hour earlier I would have gotten to work dry.

In general winters are more of a challenge than the rest of the year. Snow and ice just makes it harder and slower to get anywhere. And it also makes it just a bit more unsafe.

This year’s winter was (maybe is still, who knows if it actually is on its way out) an easy winter. Not much snow and the snow that did come came late. Still the city managed to make life harder than necessary for us cyclists. Getting the snow of the bike paths is not always easy. But most of the time it is done acceptable. Getting the snow of the bike lanes is a bit harder. Sometimes they get it right and you can use it, but most of the time it is used as snow deposit for the snow from the sidewalk and road. The connections between bike paths and lanes along the route I bike every day were almost never cleared. Most times they were actually used to put up extra big piles of snow.

This creates a dilemma: Do I bike on the sidewalk, or do I bike on the road? Most of the time the sidewalk is the better option, but at bus stops and in other places where there are many pedestrians it’s just not a good idea. I sent this question to the city officials but I haven’t gotten any answer yet and now I don’t need the answer anymore this winter, the snow has melted far enough to bike the right way.

The other day the city released a program to improve the conditions for bicyclists in the town. It looks like a good thing. They want many more to choose the bike to get to work. The only way to actually accomplish this is by improving the winter conditions. During the spring, summer and autumn many people already bike to work, but when the snow makes it tricky and in many cases dangerous it is a totally different story. To get more people to bike at times when the public transport and the roads are most overcrowded one has to have speck free bike paths and lanes. In fact they have to be better than the roads.

When I lived in Denmark they used rotating brushes to clear the last layer of snow on the bike paths, making them almost free of snow. If there came to much snow to clear with the brush, they used a plough and then the brush, always making it easy to bike. Stockholm could learn from that.

Leaving piles of snow on the connections is just not acceptable. If it isn’t possible to clear the snow from these places then they should be rebuilt to make it easier to clear the snow (some of them are very narrow now, making it impossible to clear them with a machine).

Yesterday I had to get my bicycle fixed. The pedals have felt a bit stiff for a while now and the gears started to malfunction letting the chain jump when I needed extra power. As I biked home on Tuesday the left pedal fell off. Luckily it was only the bearing that held it place that broke, so as long as I held it in place with my foot I could still use it. This left me with no other choice than to get it to the shop and get it fixed. So I did and with the spring not really here yet I got it done within the day.

Now it works fine again. I just have to get it clean. But that will wait until the night are not freezing, pouring water on our road that would freeze during night would not make me the favourite neighbour. It is slippery enough without me adding extra ice to the road.

As to the icy roads: I have spiked winter tyres on my bicycle during the winter making it sometimes harder to walk to the bike-shed than to bike to work. They really work wonders. (They don’t let me bike like there is no ice, but I don’t have to be afraid to slip as long as I’m not too fast). Like the day when it started raining just before I left home and the night had been cold. I saw cars that had a hard time stopping. Even I had a hard time at a traffic light; when I put down my foot it slipped (I stayed up though). But I had no problems with breaking or taking turns.

I’m so happy I work in a place where I can bike to. It wakes me up in the morning, gets me some basic exercise and saves me something like half an hour or so every day on commuting.

I recommend everybody to give it a try. You’ll feel better. (If you have a too long distance all the way, try to do a part of the way).

4000 km

4000 km, that’s what I have biked on my new bicycle. Does that mean the bike is still new?

I reached that mark when I got home from work yesterday. Didn’t think it would be so exact. But bicycling to church on Sunday helped.

Actually I have biked a bit more, but I only count the times I have my trip-meter on. I just don’t know how far I have biked without it. It’s not that much, but I have forgotten it a few times going to work and then I haven’t always had it going shopping. Better not to make estimations that just wouldn’t be right.

Last week the bike got taken care of too. Actually it had a flat tire on Monday that had to be fixed. When I got home on Wednesday from Örebro I took the time to wash it and change tires. Now we are ready for the winter. I think it was in due time too, on Friday the puddles on the bike-path were covered with ice and today there was ice and snow. (Not much though).

I have reached a goal

Last Wednesday I reached a goal. Since the 9th of June I have biked to work 80 times.

Not much of a goal to reach, but I’m happy about it anyway.

In reaching the goal I have biked more than 4 out of 5 days I have been working. That was what I thought would be reasonable to manage, in regard to weather, work trips summer holiday and days off when Ellinor was born.

So now I’m on bonus time. I’m working three more weeks this year; will I bike 12 more times? Probably not, this week I’ll be on two business trips, it’s a bit tricky to bike to Örebro and Göteborg just for the day. (And I have got train tickets already). That make two out of five (I’ll be staying the night in Örebro, first night away from home since Ellinor was born).  Then in two weeks I’ll be going to Göteborg once more. So if I bike every day (I have already biked Thursday and Friday after I reach my goal) that I am at the office (as far as I know now) I will be biking 11 more times. In total I will have biked 93 times to work since the 9th of June. We’ll see if that will happen; as long it doesn’t snow so much I can’t bike, but then I probably won’t be able to get to work at all.

Within the next two weeks I will have biked more than 4000 km since I bought this bike. Not bad for one and a half year (I bought it in September 2010) mainly commuting.

Ordered a bike trailer

Today we ordered a bike trailer. Now we will be able to be even less dependent on a car.

I’ve been thinking about getting one for a while now and I convinced Susanna that it would be a good idea.

The one we decided to by is a kind that can be used as a stroller, children’s trailer or cargo trailer. This will give us possibilities to use it both to go on tours with Ellinor (once she’s big enough to wear a helmet) and to do our weekly shopping.

Now I have to learn how to bike with a trailer. It shouldn’t be that hard, but I have to learn to not speed along as usual, since one should not pull it too fast.

Last week there was a proposition made that cars would have to yield at bike path crossings. I think that is a really bad idea, in some cases it’s smart, when there is a yield sign before the bike path and the adjacent road is a main road it makes sense that cars yield to bikes, but when a bike path is crossing a main road it’s just plain stupid to not slow down and yield to cars, since there is a big chance that the driver on the main road won’t see the bike in time.

Here is the link (in Swedish) to a post by Stina Bergström where she writes about it. I think it is good to do promote bicycling, but to give the bicycles right of way is not a good way of doing it, it’s just too dangerous. Making it legal to bike on the road if you keep some kind of minimum speed (maybe 20 or 30 km/h) when there is a combined bicycle-walking path along it is a far better idea, due to the dangers of going fast on a path where there can be pedestrians.

But as usual, the first things to do to promote bicycling are not new rules but to see to that the rules there are, really are enforced. Both when it comes to bicyclist (like driving in the wrong direction, against red light or on the sidewalk), or motor vehicles (like parking on bike paths or turning without using turn signals).

And keep the bike paths clear of snow and slush in the winter!

"It feels like bicycling is counteracted"

I was interviewed for a blog about bicycling in Stockholm. Now I’m a bicycle ambassador here.
Sorry the text is in Swedish.
Here is a short recap:

“It feels like bicycling is counteracted”

“He won’t give up bicycling. Even though he has endured being told of by motorists. Even though the bike lanes are crowded with other cyclists and pedestrians on too narrow pathways. And even though he has to parry cracks in the pavement of the bike lanes
But Johannes Wolfmaier also sees the improvements in the infrastructure and that the bicycle anyhow is the best way for him to transport himself. It is fast, he feels free and gets exercise. Meet another of Cycleville STHLM:s ambassadors.”
After this introduction comes a bunch of questions about my bicycling where I describe how things are for me as a bicyclist.
I hope that being in this blog makes some kind of difference. So that people see the possibilities with bicycling.
Bicycling has been somewhat difficult this winter, I actually had a two week break in the beginning of January due to the snow that wasn’t removed from the bike paths. Now it is getting better but I still can’t go as fast as I would like.
I even have a bus pass right now, but I prefer not to use it on my way to work since it takes me more than 20 minutes longer by bus to get there. (And I don’t have to wait for it at a cold bus stop).
I’m happy I have winter tyres with spikes on the bicycle, ice isn’t that much of a problem this way, but when the snow is kind of slushy it gets tricky. Not really a problem when I only go straight on, but trying to turn in the slush is not a good idea.
I wish the town would prioritise the bike lanes and paths more in the winter to truly make Stockholm to a bicycle friendly place.