8/31/2008

ABOUT BEETLES & SCHWINN BIKES

I have been a fanatic gearhead for years and must admit that sometimes it itches. Today I gave in and I visited the annual VW Classics Meeting but I must admit I watched it through different eyes than before. In the past when I visited such events I saw at least a dozen cars that interested me and I even considered buying. Well, not this year, I admit enjoying the visit because the atmosphere was great and I had a couple of beers but I wasn't lusting after any of the vehicles present. Then again nobody paid attention to my bike (it's a Schwinn not a VW), even though it was the only not VW-related vehicle on the grounds except for a Land Rover 88.



The VW Classics Meeting is a gathering for all pre-1984 air and watercooled classic cars that are Volkswagen related. This means lots a beetles, lots of vans, a mix of all kinds of Volkswagen models and even the occasional Audi or Porsche. There is also a Vintage VW Show with some beautiful cars entering, looking at these cars you can really tell these people care about their hobby and I can appreciate that (if you want to find out more, visit the VW Classics Club site).
The ride to get there was really enjoyable, the sun was shining (28° Celsisus) and there are some great bike trails on the way to Lier. I did not have to look for a space to park and I did not have to make a stop at a gas station.

-- WERGRAPH


8/29/2008

50 EURO WORTH OF GAS

The month of august almost passed and the weather hasn't been all that good, mostly cloudy with regular showers. But even though the weather wasn't all that good I have been riding my bike every day, which resulted in 1 trip to the gas station buying 50 EURO of gas compared to 50 EURO per week.
150 EURO of savings in one month, which stands for 1 full shopping cart at the grocery store, 1 dinner with my wife in a fine restaurant or 201,68 cans of Jupiler beer (33 cl) and I could go on.
This is the first time in YEARS I had to spent so little on gas and the only reason I had to get some gas is that I took my family out on a trip to Paridisio, a nice animal park (www.paradisio.be). The reason I took the car for this trip is I took my wife and 3 kids and they just don't fit on my bike.



In the park you find a beautiful chinese garden, a grotto where bats fly loose, monkey island where monkeys come and eat of your hands, and lots more. But there is also ship, the Mersus Emergo, where you can visit 'SOS Biodiversity', an exhibit on the impact of what mankind is doing to the planet. The exhibit includes an overview of endangered species, the gruesome details on how some animals are butchered for their fur, skin, and what not. Part of the exhibit tells you can do for the environment as an individual but als as a business. In a text on what businesses can do I noticed the following: 'use more bicycle couriers' and 'install showers at work for employees that use their bicycle to come to work'. I thought it was great this is encouraged here and must say it surprised me.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit this park especially with your kids, don't hesitate, it is really worth your while.



Ok, now stay away from gas stations you hear, there are more fun things to do with your money!

-- WERGRAPH

8/25/2008

MY RIDES

Old Dutch is a bike saved from the scrapyard and is perfect to go into town because it doesn't look so perfect it is not attractive to thieves. All I had to do to hit the road again was add a pair of new tires and a saddle and off I went. Later on I also added a small seat for kids, now every time I want to take it for a spin my two daughters start to fight over whose turn it is this time. The bike is mechanically sound except for the drum brakes (they don't really brake well), but I don't know how to revise them but when I found out how I will make sure to share it with you. It is quite a heavy ride but also very dependable, I don't know what make or year it is because I found it coated in black and left it like that.

My other bike is Schwinn PDG (Paramount Design Group) Series 90 from 1991, it's a chromolybdene frame and the paintwork and Suntour XC Pro group are original. It's a 21-speed with V-brakes and is quite light, this is what I use for my daily commute when I am not too lazy (it happens !).
These are a few of the changes I made to it: Brooks Champion Narrow B17 saddle, adjustable Sartori-EZ handlebar, fork with suspension RST Capa TL and Michelin tires.
Although it's an old workhorse I just love riding it and I am going to change it even more with the xtracycle conversion (http://www.xtracycle.com/) because it seems just incredibly practical. It would also mean I could take both my daughters on a bike trip so they won't have to fight anymore. I will let you know how easy or difficult the conversion was and how much it changes the riding experience.

-- Wergraph






8/22/2008

CARBON FOOTPRINT - ECOFRIENDLINESS

Rising gas prices, a growing fat belly thanks to the office job, young kids you can't keep up with, the joy of riding,... I can keep on thinking of reasons why everybody should start riding a bike.

But hey, eco-awareness, reducing your carbon footprint, preserving nature for your offspring... These are not passing trends, they are here to stay!

First of all, I must make a confession because I have been a gearhead for years and I still have sympathy for sports cars, supercars, muscle cars, and so on. I cannot just pretend that a love that has lasted for a couple of decades is now simply gone. The odd car magazine I get in my hands from time to time still gets read from front to back and from back to front, I simply cannnot erase overnight what I enjoyed for so long. But the desire is not there anymore, the dream I had as a boy to own one of these wonders of technology has vanished, because it just doesn't make any sense anymore.

But riding a bike makes sense, it keeps me fit, saves me money, makes me feel better about myself and I just enjoy doing it ever since I was a kid. So I have decided to start commuting by bicycle, rain or shine! And believe me there's a lot of rain in these parts, often you are wet to the bone before you can even brake, open your backpack and get out your raincoat. But what can I say, no guts no glory.

My intention is to keep you posted on my progress in this matter. Will I keep on using my bike to commute or will I cave in and become an unhealthy guy with a beerbelly who even takes his car to buy a loaf of bread just around the corner?

That's a very big question and if you want to know the answer visit this blog again soon.

--WERGRAPH