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Someone out there visited spokencontract by searching “stuck behind a “dick in a pick-up truck”” – if this was you, my curiosity is piqued, so drop me a comment or email (spokencontract[at]gmail[dot]com), I’d love to hear the story that inspired your search.


Happy 110th René

From Bicycle Source

1) n. a person who spends a lot of money on his bike and clothing, but still can’t ride. “What a fred — too much Lycra and titanium and not enough skill.” Synonym for poser. Occasionally called a “barney”.

2) n. a person who has a mishmash of old gear, does’t care at all about technology or fashion, didn’t race or follow racing, etc. Often identified by chainring marks on white calf socks. Used by “serious” roadies to disparage utility cyclists and touring riders, especially after these totally unfashionable “freds” drop the “serious” roadies on hills because the “serious” guys were really posers. This term is from road touring and, according to popular myth, “Fred” was a well-known grumpy old touring rider, who really was named Fred.

We have a winner!  #2, that’s me (except for dropping roadies on hill climbs).  So I guess I’m the bad parts of both definitions.

Alex: n. a person who has a mishmash of old gear, doesn’t care much for technology,  doesn’t follow racing, and doesn’t race (for good reason due to lack of skill), and occasioinally drops other “serious” riders on a slight incline with the wind at his back.

My mind and heart are in another place this week. I’ll be back soon though. In the meantime, check out some always appreciated Boston love from an out-of-town cyclist and make sure you check out what’s going on for Bay State Bike Week.

Be back in a few.

Thanks to my absent minded clumsiness I am forced to take the week off from biking. There is nothing more than a skinned knee, but every time I go up stairs or over-extend my right knee, I can feel (and see) the cuts open back up. Therefore, I have remanded myself to the T this week, which just so happens to be the first full spring week we’ve had this year. It hit 80* today, probably for the first time since August, and where was I? Looking quite sullen on the red line this morning as I gazed out the window at all the runners and cyclists on the Longfellow. It felt like when I was little and had put off my summer reading until the last week of vacation, and my mom forced me to stay inside to read The Delaney Sisters’ FIrst Hundred Years while my friends would come over to invite me to play baseball or to ride bikes to get Hodgie’s ice cream.

At least in the winter I would ride my trainer in the morning and watch the local news, which gave me a bit of satisfaction. Riding the T has reminded me of how much better I feel when I get to be outside for a bit on each end of my day, particularly this time of year as my bones are beginning to thaw. I guess I could ride my trainer very gently with a tight bandage on, right? Maybe I’ll just have another cookie instead.

towards the finish

What a great turn-out at the marathon today. I spent most of the afternoon along the race route at the final stretch towards the finish line. While I watched everyone run by-slowly, quickly, young, old-I was completely inspired to run someday. I once worried that my chance to run a marathon and qualify for Boston may have come and gone, but watching everyone today made me feel so young and hopeful. I have nothing but time to prepare for a marathon. I hope maybe I can figure out a way to balance training on my bike and apply that with running and qualify at the Bay State Marathon in the fall.

I was so inspired that I went out to run immediately after getting home. Excited by the marathon buzz throughout the city, I was making a great pace across the Longfellow bridge, and then experienced what I have always pictured in my worst fears…my right foot scraped along the barrier between the sidewalk and the road and I broke my fall against my right knee and right forearm along that very same barrier. I considered carrying on before I noticed that my knee and arm had immediately begun bleeding plenty. By the time I ran home my shirt, once white, had gotten plenty of pretty bright red accents, and my sock was painted with a similar motif. I spared you all the gory details, but after the jump you can see more marathon photos and the make-shift bandages roomie Lauren (a nurse, phew) and I made.

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What a great day to be in Boston. The sun is out, there’s a little chill, but barely a breeze through the city. I took the day off from work so I can be here to ride to Copley and watch the finish line this afternoon. All in all it’s quite a special day to be in Boston. There’s an energy in the air all weekend that is just infectious. It’s amazing to see a community come out by the thousands to support complete strangers running the race. It was three years ago on marathon Monday that I turned a corner in the way I live my life. I didn’t run anywhere near 26.2 miles, but I did run 3 miles for the first time, which was quite the accomplishment for me then, and it changed my life.

During the first winter months of ’05, I had started walking and jogging at the gym on a treadmill with varying success. Most days I would walk for 15 minutes, jog (quite slowly) for 5, and then walk for 15 minutes. That Patriots Day morning, my friend Amy called and asked if I wanted to get out and go for a run to the river. I was pretty self conscious about my running skills, especially on the one day of the year where the best runners in the world were in town. The sun was shining, and that energy helped me overcome my insecurities, so Amy and I took a casual jog to the Charles. From that day on, I refused to go back onto a treadmill, I began getting up before the sun to get out before work or school all summer, and as the winter approached I bought gloves, spandex, and a windbreaker so I could keep running outside in the ice and freezing cold. I was hooked. A slow 3 miles three days a week slowly turned into 5 days a week, and by the following summer, I was running 6 days and averaging 35 miles a week. By this point I had dropped from 240lbs to 170lbs.

I still run, but usually only on the weekends. My new job has put quite the constraints on my time, and I began biking to work last July so that I could at least get some exercise while getting to work, rather than getting up even earlier to run and then ride the T. Over the past year, my athletic association has shifted from being a runner who bikes to get to work/school to being a cyclist who runs in my free time on the weekends. I don’t spend as much time thinking about when it’s new sneaker time or what a new jogging route will be, instead I’ve begun researching bike maintainence and the growth of Boston into a stronger biking city. I hope that I can forever balance these two persons; each coming to the front at different times in my life as they have shifted over the past three years.


Bren pointed out that the average American is spening roughly $7,830 per year ($650/month) on the depreciating value of their car. This estimate doesn’t even include the price of gas! That figure is based on driving 15,000 miles per year. So let’s say that if you drive a standard size sedan, you’re probably getting around 27 mpg (maybe a bit generous), and right now the average price for regular unleaded in the US is $3.31/gallon, so that adds another $1,839 per year in gas.

Just think of the wonderful things I could do with $9,700/year…I could get another bike (or two), take a vacation (or two). Although, I guess that’s not really how it works. I suppose it’s more accurate to think about how tight my pursestrings would be if I had $9,700 LESS per year, if I had a car. I would probably have to stop going out to eat, probably move into a cheaper apartment, and spend all my free time thinking about ways to drive less.

My boss told me a story this morning about his friend Gibson who lives in Haiti and needed to go to the capital to update his passport status. It’s pretty incredible that when all other means of transport failed or were unreliable…

The food riots have kept most people away from Port-au-Prince over the past week, and contrary to the advice of friends and the authorities, Gibson made the long bus ride through the mountains on the one road from Jacmel. He doesn’t have a car, and travels most long distances via the public buses, which are infrequent at best. Getting into the city was no problem, but once there the situation appeared worse than he had predicted. There had been riots on the streets all day, and barricades of burning tires had been built by hungry and frustrated protesters. After finding all of the government buildings inaccessable due to lock-downs and barricades during the protests, Gibson intended to turn right around and get back home as quickly as possible. It became immediately clear that tempers were rising and things became violent. The armed protesters and UN peacekeepers eventually exchanged gunfire and at least five deaths have been reported.

To his fright, Gibson found the line for the next bus out of town was massive, and many of the major roads had been blocked for vehicles. So what did he do? He found a street vendor who sold him a beat up old road bike for a couple bucks and rode that skinny wheeled bike up and over the mountainous 30 miles from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel. He’s no bike commuter or weekend warrior, just a guy stuck in a bad situation who found a way out. It was a story better told by my boss, and undoubtedly better told by Gibson.

Lean more:




It was a balmy 38* when I left my apartment this afternoon to go for a run. I am by no means the most hardcore runner in town, but sometimes find myself almost all alone out there. The rain didn’t really start until a few miles into my run, but still I didn’t pass any joggers or bikes as I warmed up through the Public Garden. Usually in the weeks approaching the Boston Marathon, the sun starts to shine and the city falls back in love with the bike/footpath along the Charles, but It seems that the seasonal urban jogging community is still a bit shy. That said, I was quite happily surprised to pass more joggers than I could keep track of, and almost as many cyclists once I made it over the river into Cambridge.

As enthused as I am to have seen as many folks out enjoying the day as I did, I was made quite aware of how cold and dreary it was today compared to years past. I usually look forward to the deep down cleansing rain through April and May. I love the soaking rain, but as long as it’s warm(ish). There’s a lot of scientific reasoning that flies way over my head when it comes to global warming, but days like today make an extremely clear impression on me. It seems a bit counterintuitive that global warming would make spring colder, but with a little bit of research on wind patterns and glacial melting, April showers bringing May snowfalls seems far too plausible.