3rd day in a row on the short commute

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I’ve been leaving my car at the Ridges and riding in to work this week.  Today was the third day in a row.  It’s a quick 1-1.5 mile ride in, depending on which way I go.  And I have found that I can actually get back to the Ridges to pick up my kids at preschool faster on bike than by car.  Taking the bike path and roundabout tunnel gets me there a lot quicker than waiting in traffic in my car and it’s a lot more fun. It’s not a hardcore commute by any means, but I have a good time doing it and it gets me on the bike for a few minutes.

Here’s the route:



Find more Bike Ride in Athens, OH

Pawpaw Double Nickle Bicycle Ride

Another ride to put on the calendar for the Southeast Ohio Region.

Pawpaws and pedals make a great combination, so this year’s festival features the Pawpaw Double Nickel, a 55-mile road bike ride through the hills at a really nice time of the year. Starting and ending at the festival, this ride will take you from Lake Snowden on a circle tour around Zaleski State Forest. Enjoy challenging climbs, ridgetop views and sweet downhills, all along the Raccoon Creek Watershed. A fully stocked aid station awaits you just past the halfway point.

Does 55 miles sound like too much riding and not enough pawpaw partying? Opt to do a shorter loop of approximately 20 miles that still features plenty of climbing but can be conquered in less time. No aid station will be available for this loop, but we can guarantee a downhill for every climb.

The ride will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19. Rider registration will be at the festival from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – get started on the ride any time during those hours. The aid station will be set up until 2 p.m. The self-guided, self-paced ride is included in the price of the festival admission fee ($5 for one day, $8 for the weekend), and includes a map of the ride, marked turns on the roads, and the aid station. Please note that there is also a vehicle-parking fee of $2.00 per day or a weekend pass for $3.00.

Helmets are required for all participants. There will be no rolling support so be self-sufficient (carry appropriate tools and water). For additional information about the ride, contact Peter Kotses at pete@athensbicycle.com.

via 2009 Ohio Pawpaw Festival.

Other rides that I might do are in this post.

Some suggestions for improving RideWithGPS.com

I’m really liking the RideWithGPS.com website.  It does a good job at tracking bike routes, and the interface is awesome.  The developers have left several comments on this blog, so I know they appreciate feedback.  They’re continuing to improve the site, and according to their blog, they are looking for ideas on how to improve the site.  RideWithGPS has multiple ways to give them feedback.  You can leave a message on their site, or you can comment on their blog.  Since I wanted to visually show some recommendations, I chose to offer some ideas with this blog post.  My suggestions below are basically to steal some ideas from Bicycling’s new Training Log.

1.  Add a summary tab to the list of the tab interface

Summary is clean

Summary is clean

RidewithGPS’s tabs are awesome, but I’d like to see a summary tab that incorporates information like the screenshot above.  I appreciate the weekly, monthly, and yearly totals on the summary page.  I can honestly do without the table that Bicycling has, but others might find it useful.

2.  Mileage and Mapping of routes is optional

Mileage/map optional

Mileage/map optional

Some routes, such as bike paths, are really hard to map out on a website.  Also, I’m likely to ride on our bike path a certain amount of time, then turn around and go back.  Bicycling’s Training Log allows me to enter a route without requiring a map (or GPS) and without requiring mileage.  This allows me to enter the mileage separately when I log an activity.  Currently, with RideWithGPS, I would have to map out the 33 mile bike path ride I did yesterday before I entered it on my log.   My understanding is that the developers are working on ways to enter activities without requiring a map.  I will definitely appreciate this feature.

3.  Script for embedding stats

Embed stats on your blog

Embed stats on your blog

Bicycling’s training log allows you to embed stats on your blog or website, simply by cutting and pasting a bit of javascript.  The developers of RideWithGPS seem to be very gifted folks, so this would likely be an easy to implement.  Also, I would imagine that allowing people to embed stats on their blogs would be a great way to publicize RideWithGPS, as well as promote the social nature of the site.  The widget that Bicycling has looks kind of generic too, so I imagine RideWithGPS could make a much cooler widget.  RideWithGPS’s map and histogram embeds are very cool and easy to use.  Embeddable stats would give users another option to share their data (and spread the word about RideWithGPS) all over the place.

4.  Import/Export of stats

Export stats from training log

Export stats from training log

Since Bicycling lets you export stats from your training log, one way that RideWithGPS could acquire some users is to allow an easy import feature from Bicycling.  The import of routes from MapMyRide works flawlessly.  Since Bicycling allows you to export data as an Excel file, it RideWithGPS should be able to import this data.  This seems like this would mostly be a matter of deciding which fields mapped where, then scripting the import of the data.

5.  Make the search interface more intutive

Route search is very powerful

Route search is very powerful

Searching for routes in RideWithGPS is very easy.  There are multiple ways you can search.  The only thing holding the route search back right now is the lack of content there to search.

Searching by zipcode is not intuitive

Searching by zipcode is not intuitive

It appears that currently the only user information that is searchable is the zipcode and the username.  A search for Athens or OH does not find me as a user.  You can only currently find me by typing my zipcode or my name.  It took me a few minutes to figure this out, and as a librarian, I’m trained to figure out how to search things.    A little bit of text telling user what to search (name, zip, etc) would make it easier for users to connect with others.   I’d also like to see the state and city fields searchable here as well.  Finally,   I’d also like to  be able to search for users in a mileage radius as well. I don’t know all the surrounding zip codes in a 50 mile radius, so the system ought to be able to help me find others nearby.  I think the community aspect of RideWithGPS has a great deal of potential, but users need to be able to find each other in order to maximize the potential.

These are just a few suggestions that I have with how to improve RideWithGPS.  I’m not an expert programmer by any means, so I don’t know how easy it would be to implement my recommendations.  I do see that RideWithGPS is already one of the better mapping and log tools available to cyclists, and I am excited about what the site creators will bring to the site.  The developers seem genuinely interested in developing a tool that others will use, so the end product, with user imput, can potentially be the best service available.  I’m looking forward to where they will take the site.

Change Your Life, Ride a Bike

I just found the Change Your Life, Ride A Bike blog via The Old Bike Blog. The Change Your Life blog highlights how riding a bike has impacted folks’ lives. Thom, the creator of the Old Bike Blog, was feature in a recent post.  I thought what he said about learning to fix your own bike was pretty cool:

I started the Old Bike Blog to chronicle my progress on restoring the Columbia, and within about five months, I was done. I had absolutely zero previous experience, just a few tools, and a healthy dose of concern that I would never be able to get the thing put back together correctly. But in the end, I successfully dismantled, cleaned, sanded, painted, re-greased, and reassembled my bike. Today, it is my grocery bike, and has been joined by several other old bikes, all of which I’ve restored or refurbished. My learning curve has been (and still is) extraordinarily steep, and I discovered not only a passion for the work of restoration, but also the absolute importance of really *knowing* your bicycle, inside and out, front and back. It’s something everyone *can* do, and I believe very passionately in the democratizing potential of do-it-yourself bicycle mechanics.  That’s how riding (and working on) bicycles has changed my life, and will continue to do so for many years.

I’m still learing to work on my own bike.  One of the reasons I don’t work on my bike more often is I’m afraid of having it down for too long; that is, me taking too long to figure out what I’m doing and missing riding.  His comments there do give me some confidence and inspiration to attempt to learn and *know* mby bike more.