while thinking about Kickstarting a $35 bell.

I happen to be in the market for a bell, which are words I never thought I'd be writing in my lifetime, but there you go. If you need proof that cyclists aren't right in the head, this is it.

I'm currently having a bike be rebuilt piece by piece. I found a vintage (circa 1980) Raleigh Reliant that I thought was nice, but wanted to make a little extra special. In other words, I had the original, working parts stripped off and replaced with modern components. Sacrilege? Yeah, a little. Let's just say, I had some other ideas about the bike than its original intent and made some tough choices. Choices like converting it to single-speed, upgrading to 700c wheels and outfitting it with some thicker tires that will chew through gravel rather than the other way around. I wanted an urban cruiser that wouldn't mind going off-road for a bit, and if I can do that with a snazzy-looking, vintage frame, why not?

I'm pretty excited about this bike! As such, I want to make it even extra special-er. More special. Special+. And so, I'm in the market for a bell.

You might think that you could just go to Walmart or your local bike shop and buy a bell, and you'd be absolutely correct. They do that; they sell bike bells. They usually have them in stock right where you can see them, and you can probably just go there and buy one right now, depending on when you're reading this. It's not like you're buying a controlled substance and need to meet a strange guy somewhere, or show some photo ID or ask the person behind the counter for something unusual as a password so that he'll know you're on the level before he shows you his secret stash. You just go to the store and buy one. Bells aren't even rare, they're pretty much everywhere. But, you know... We need things that are hand-crafted and special. And we all know that hand-made things are better than mass-produced things because, I don't know. They just are. And that's how you end up with
a $35 bike bell on Kickstarter.

The really sad part is, I want that bell. Not a "want" like a hungered, passionate desire that keeps me up at night, but more like a, "Can I find something similar on Amazon that doesn't cost as much?" and then I do a few searches kind of "want." That sort of "want."

Why do I want this bell? I just like the way the hammer/trigger thing works. I like how you can aim the bell forward instead of straight up. Makes it more "aero." But I don't want to spend $35 on a bell, so let's see if I can find something cheaper. Here are some bells on Amazon that aren't as expensive:

Mirrycle Incredibell XL BLK Bicycle Bell (Black)

Black, polished mirror finish. Sexy.
The Mirrycle, which is spelled like that on purpose, I guess, seems kind of big and garish, but I'm sure it's pretty loud. I don't know what it sounds like, but I'm guessing it sounds like a bell. I bet it goes "Ding!" which is great for telling people to get the hell out of the way without yelling, "HEY! GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY!"

You can most likely mount the bell so that it stands upright or aims forward, but it's probably harder to pull the hammer back if it's not upright. On the other hand, the soundwaves seem like they'll travel horizontally and alert people to your presence in a wider range instead of vertically, which would only benefit airplanes and passing satellites. Oh, wait... that's silly. Sound doesn't travel in space. Sorry, folks aboard the International Space Station! I guess my bike will just have to run straight into you...

PRICE: $8.80. You save $26.20!

Skye Supply Swell Bell - Cow "Moooove"

Not actually a cow bell, just a bell with a picture of a cow on it. What's up with that?
Here's an awesome bell because it has a cow on it that says, "MOOOOVE!!" with two exclamation points, so you know it's super serious about getting people out of the way. It also says, "COW BELL," but it's not a cow bell, it's just a bell with a picture of a cow on it. Crazy.

You can mount this one in any way you like, but I don't think it will make a "MOOO" sound no matter where or how you mount it. It probably just goes "ding," which seems like a missed opportunity, to me. Come to think of it, maybe they should have shaped it like a cow bell. That would have been awesome.

PRICE: Only $6.75. That's a savings of $28.25!

Electra Compass Bell

Not electrical, in any way. Also available in silver. Also: compass.
Remember that Murmur MirrorMirro Myrrh-cycle bell from a few moments ago? Well this has a very similar design, but it's also got a compass on it! So, the next time you're in the woods, you can see if there's any truth to that old wives' tale that moss only grows on the North side of a tree. Or was it South? Or West? Or maybe it was "Moss doesn't grow on a moving Fat Bike?" What was I talking about?

You can mount this one to round things. Maybe you could wear it like a ring! Or, mount it to other body parts -- I'll let you use your imagination here -- just be very careful about where you mount it and read all of the instructions. Also: compass.

PRICE: $7.58 It's more expensive than the Cow Bell, but less than the Mr.MicrophoneMryrrrcycle Bell. Plus, it pulls double-duty as a compass, making it a two-fer! You save: $27.42

So, there you have it. Bells don't have to be expensive. In fact, at a total of $23.13, you could buy all three of these bells for less than the price of the Kickstarter bell. Hopefully, I saved someone some money and embarrassment today.
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For One Whole Year

It's hard to believe, but this blog is 1 year old. 1 whole year of documenting my journey from a guy who used to occasionally ride his bike maybe once or twice a month to a guy who rides almost every day. Well, almost every day...

A year ago, after a summer of eating healthy and losing about 30 pounds, I wanted to accentuate that diet with exercise. I had been walking along the Rails-to-Trails with a friend about once a week and racking up plenty of miles, but walking just wasn't holding my interest. I wanted to go faster, and farther. So, I pulled my bike out of storage and started doing about 10 miles a day.

Before long, I was adding a few more miles a day, but never venturing too far out of the neighborhood. I decided to challenge myself, to see just how far I could go. I felt the way most runners and joggers do after they start really developing a habit and improving themselves. I wanted to enter a race, or at least an organized ride. I felt like it was something I had to do.

The first thing I did was to hit Google and look for events that were happening close by. One of the first events I stumbled on was the Flaming Foliage Festival that was taking place right here, in Hazleton. I had never even heard of this event before, and here it was in my own back yard. It seemed like fate. So, I set a goal to get myself in shape for the event with the goal of being able to ride 50k -- about 31 miles.

I began by learning as much as I could about sports nutrition and plotting longer and longer courses for myself. I'd ride about 2 or 3 times a week, setting a new goal each time went out. I hit a few snags and learned a few painful lessons, but I eventually made my goal. I rode the half metric century course in the Flaming Foliage Festival in October and had a great time. I even met a few new friends. All in all, it was a huge success. As I look back now, has it really been a year? Time really does fly when you're having fun.

My life has changed in a variety of ways since those days. I started a new job, bought the bike of my dreams, kept the weight off and even met several other goals. I even managed to bike all the way to Pittsburgh! I mean, that was just a crazy idea I almost never meant to keep until it occurred to me -- only a few weeks prior -- that I could really, actually do it. And now I'm looking at the achievement from the other end and wondering how I did it; I still can't believe it.

1 year of biking and blogging. How far will I go over the next year?
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