Ask The Advice Pedaler: Etiquette for the Conscientious Cyclist

Dear Advice Pedaler:

What can you do with old bike bits? Is there anywehere to recycle old tubes and tires? What about old bike chains or other components? I've always considered bikes to be environmentally friendly but what can I do about all the bits that have worn out or been replaced or are just left over. The ever-growing pile in our apartment is making me feel a little guilty


Dear Pippy:

Now, it just so happens that the Advice Pedaler is also known as "the Advice Crafter." Her recipe for homemade bungee cords: take an old inner tube, cut out the valve, and tie the tube to your rack. Cut off any excess tube. Voila! Inner tubes can also be sewn like leather and used as a leather replacement in many craft projects. As for other parts, we've seen lovely jewelry made out of tiny bike parts and chain links. Cleaned chains can be used to decorate all sorts of things. All you need is a chain tool and a glue gun. If you're not the crafty type yourself, you can still help make the world more beautiful. SCRAP (Scrounger's Center for Reusable Art Parts) at 801 Toland accepts old bicycle parts and tubes as long as they are clean (completely grease-free!) and neatly packaged, 647-1746.

Dear Advice Pedaler:

My husband and I ride frequently to Marin. He thinks it's obnoxious how much I use my bike bell on the bridge. My thumb gets a little sore, especially on weekdays before 3:30pm when I have to share the path with all those distracted pedestrians.

Sore Thumb

Dear Thumb:

Perhaps you could tape some padding on the bike bell to protect your thumb! Or take a trip to your friendly neighborhood bike shop and try out some of the other noise-making devices. Many really musical bells are available, some which get a lot of ring from one thumb-stroke. Ringing your bike bell is a friendly wake up to the throngs of distracted pedestrians and inexperienced cyclists sharing the bridge sidewalk. The international sound of the bike bell cuts through most language barriers, and the noise of the cars and wind. You're helping the safety of all bridge path users by training picture-taking tourists that "ding ding" means "bike coming" so they won't veer into your path without warning. Tell your husband to try riding on that east sidewalk without you and your bell and see if he gets across without shouting!

Dear Advice Pedaler:

I got beyond the second patented response and got a real date!!! We biked for 44 miles, to Fairfax for lunch. I think I am in love, but I have one teeny tiny problem...I am sooo saddle sore that I can't sit down!

Aching with Love

Dear Achey Bikey Heart:

Do not be ashamed, it's a common problem--in fact, there is a product available at your friendly neighborhood bike shop that makes your skin good and slippery to reduce abrasion. Long-distance cyclists will tell you to just spend time in the saddle to toughen up the skin. But the Advice Pedaler wonders how do you do this if your derriere already hurts? So the AP won't bike more than 5 miles without first donning a sporty pair of women's bike shorts with padding. She also shopped around to find just the right bike seat. Squishy foam or gel seats can actually make things worse for some people by increasing flesh friction. Firm seats create less friction, but need to have some "spring" to them. Seats specially designed for your gender may be more conmfortable than generic seats. They say Leather Brooks saddles may feel too hard at first but that the leather eventually molds to your contours to become most comfortable. If you continue to get sore, you may also want to modify the way your weight is distributed by adjusting the angle and position of the seat and handlebars.