Wednesday, January 28, 2009

To All The Bikes I’ve Loved Before - Part 5

(This is not my actual’s just playing one on my blog.)

It wasn’t long after acquiring my Bridgestone RB-2 that I started to get interested in racing. Mostly because my frequent visits to Deluxe Bicycles had me spying exotic sounding bikes like the Eisentrauts and “strange” Italian names like Colnago. I could see that some of the riders on these steeds were serious riders with shaved legs with thighs like tree trunks. My lust for one of these exotic rides fueled my desire to pick up a higher end road bike like the pros rode.

One day I strolled in and the shop manager, who knew I was in the market for such a frame, pulled me in the back and told me that a used Bottechia with SLX tubing was up for sale and that it should fit me. I don’t think I really knew what exactly SLX tubing was but one of the nice things about the shop was their willingness to mentor a novice like myself even though they weren’t likely to make a lot of money off of me.

In subsequent weeks I cobbled together a “retro” campagnolo record group from various sources (one of the shop owners had a shrine of parts hanging on his walls at home) and found a pair of Mavic Sewups. All told the bike cost less than $900 and was as sweet a ride as I could have imagined at the time. I remember spending a Saturday afternoon being tutored on how to mount sewup tires and fix flats by unstitching the tire. Good times. How many shops do that anymore?

Next new Mondonico ELOS!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jimmy Carter on his Rivendell Bicycle

When all the recent news reports were surfacing about Jimmy's bike being stolen I was relieved to hear it wasn't his beautiful Rivendell. He looks pretty stylin'.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Putting Your Bicycle On A Bus

I've never used the bike racks on the front of the Reno buses. Maybe because the Reno Transportation Commission never produced a how-to video quite like this one from the Transit Authority in Louisville, Kentucky.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Morning Music - A.C. Newman

Over the last few years A.C. Newman's masterpiece, The Slow Wonder, has been a consistent goto album. It's one of the best albums of the past decade. How delighted I was to see that Newman has a new album out called, Get Guilty. I've only listened a few times in the last couple of days so it's a bit early to make a judgement of it but I've been pleased so far. Below, a new song performed live (Changeling). Incidently he is playing in Sacramento and SF in late February. Road trip?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Half Way To My Bike Commute Goal - 1,200 Miles

Last week, on the final day of the first semester, I passed the 1200 mile mark for bike commute miles so far this year. This is exactly the 50% point to my goal of 2,400 miles for the school year. Frankly, I'd been considering upping the goal to 3,000 miles considering that in April and May of last year I logged over a thousand miles alone. It's good to push myself. But since the early part of the new year is generally pretty fickle with weather patterns I suppose I'll play it by ear. The last few weeks have been great riding but it looks like we're heading into a much more unpredictable batch of weather.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

As If We Need Another Reason To Encourage People To Ride Their Bikes For Transportation

I saw this last night on NBC Nightly News and it only confirms the need for cities, states, and countries, to control emissions in our urban centers. For the greater good...get out of your cars and ride a bike at least once a week for the betterment of your own community!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

To All The Bikes I’ve Loved Before - Part 4

Like most bike geeks who got into the sport via the mountain bike boom of the mid 90s it didn’t take long for me to realize that riding a mountain bike on pavement (which happened to be about 95% of my riding) didn’t make much sense. You lose so much momentum with the added rolling resistance of a knobby tire. I was quickly able to rationalize the purchase of a basic road bike but the next step was trying to figure out which one I should get. I spent hours in the local library looking up bike reviews. I was mostly hunting for information on the 1992 Bridgestone RB-2 that was hanging at the afforementioned Deluxe Bicycle Shop. This first research on Bridgestones and the articles I ended up collecting would eventually become the heart of my online archive of Bridgestone and Rivendell bicycle articles that now resides on Sheldon Brown’s site (see here).*

The price had already been reduced because the bike was several years old and had never sold. Additionally, Bridgestone’s leaving the US market also made the price close to affordable for me. The RB-2 was a nice, but affordable entry level road bike with a good Japanese lugged frame and lesser parts than it’s nicer speced RB-1. Metallic purple, it felt fast to me and became my first road bike and gave me many hours of joy wandering Nebraska’s rolling countryside. The one switch I made with the original parts were 7 speed bar-end shifters. It was also a more versatile road bike than many because it had clearance to put slightly fatter road tires and still mount fenders.

Many years later I mounted a light set of wheels and a converted it to a single speed with a mustache bar in hopes of mimicking the lusted after XO-1 from Bridgestone. Only later after having sold the RB-2 and found a used 1993 RB-1 did I realize what I had given up. Though the RB-1 was often touted as one of the nicest off the rack road race bikes ever produced I found mine to be sluggish and lacking in the precise steering that I had come to expect of a nicer road bike. I’m in the minority on this count.

*The Bridgestone/Rivendell articles and reviews archive - Because my professional training was in archiving and my personal obsession was bicycling it was only natural that these two things would collide. While working at UNR I spend some of my time scanning many of the articles and reviews that I had collected over the years covering the waning history of Bridgestone and the early development of Rivendell Bicycle Works. For those that don’t know, Grant Peterson was the product manager for Bstone and the founder of Rivendell. I was also an avid reader of the ibob listserv (Read What the hell is a BOB?). This was in the early days of libraries digitizing collections so I took the opportunity to train myself on the scanner by scanning in my own collection of bike stuff and posting it to my website hosted by the university. To get a sense of how popular this information was I had over 150,000 hits in the couple years that I hosted this material. A few years later Sheldon Brown (R.I.P.) asked if I would want to move the resource over to his site as it was genereally more stable than university servers. We agreed and he has hosted the Bridestone stuff ever since with additional materials donated by other Bridgestone afficianados. Strangely, the Rivendell articles and reviews never made the migration but they mostly exist here and here for those that are interested in RBW.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Politics of Transportation - How Can Obama Lead Us In A New Direction

It's no surprise that we as a country need to rethink the way we approach transportation, particularly in our urban centers. If you've thought about this before you might consider responding to the following. The New Mobility Agenda is asking for submissions on the future of transportation. This call for proposals landed in my mailbox this morning and I wouldn't necessarily normally reprint something this long in its entirety but I think it's important enough to pass along. So, send along your thoughts and visit the New Mobility Agenda's website for more information.

“What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world . . .?”

Game Plan for new mobility group project as of 16 Jan. 09

Topic: You are invited to contribute a short statement/recommendation (250 words max!!) outlining a single concept, policy, practice, project, program idea that you feel the Obama transportation team will do well to look at seriously as they prepare to lead transportation policy in America for the next four years.

The question: “What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world in terms of transportation developments that are safe, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable?

“We Americans often think of ourselves as sitting at the very top of the social, economic, technological, entertainment, and political pyramid. After all, we invented human flight, the Super Bowl, the Interstate Highway, the transcontinental railroad, and Rock ‘n’ Roll. But perhaps we’re not as advanced as we like to think. Perhaps innovations in transportation, land use, and energy consumption are much more evenly distributed around the world than we ever thought possible. Indeed, perhaps America is closer to the middle or bottom of the pyramid when it comes to transportation investments. What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world in terms of transportation developments that are safe, efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable?”

Organization: An informal group initiative being organized under the editorial direction of Eric Britton and the New Mobility Agenda. The idea is to tap the rich backgrounds, knowledge and imaginations of the more than two thousand colleagues and groups who regularly share information, ideas and materials under the various focus programs of the Agenda. Colleagues around the world are being invited to share their thoughts and recommendations in succinct form as a group compilation, being organized and presented by Britton who has been invited to serve as one of the panel members, with a particular responsibility for providing international coverage of perspectives.

Background: Selected contributions to be posted to National Journal 2009 Transportation Expert Panel: to open up this question on Monday a.m., 26 Jan. 2009

Submittal deadline – Friday, 23 January 2009

Subject heading: “What lessons can America learn from the rest of the world . . .?” (kindly retain this heading exactly for Search purposes, see below)

Post your proposed recommendation to:

- who will review, possibly contact you with minor editorial/layout suggestions, then post to the New Mobility Café where you can view all items to date via

Submittal format (As below, kindly respect):

1. Message from (Country name)

2. Subject line (10 words max. to set stage for entry)

3. Text: 250 words max!!! (Yes I know it’s hard)

4. URL Ref: (As available to support your entry)

5. Signature block (3 lines, my example)

Eric Britton –

New Mobility Partnerships –

Paris, France

Updates: It upon reflection and/or upon reviewing the other commentaries you wish to modify your original presentation, please send your revised text to

Sharing this invitation: Please do if you have colleagues or lists whom you think may be able to come up with additional ideas and entries.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

To All The Bikes I’ve Loved Before - Part 3

Not long after purchasing my Rockhopper I walked into Deluxe Bicycles in Lincoln, Nebraska, and one of the owners asked me if I had heard the news. what news? I replied. Bridgestone was pulling out of the U.S. market and everything was being sold off. I had been frequenting Deluxe for months, picking up tidbits of information about my new obsession. Actually, it wasn’t yet an obsession. But it immediately became obsession when Greg wheeled a shiny red 1993 Bridgestone MB-2 out of the back room and told me it was for 40% off. I took one look, and a quick test-ride, and was in love. It was the nicest riding bike I’d ever been on and that fork crown made me swoon. I had previously ridden the XO-1, the most amazing “hybrid” commuter, race bike, but couldn’t get my head around the price (gasp, over a thousand dollars for a bike!).

To this day I think the MB-2 was the nicest riding mountain bike I’ve ever owned. I say that knowing that I have a Specialized Epic sitting in my basement. Unfortunately the Bridgestone was ill-suited for the trails I encountered after moving to Nevada and after trying to convert it into a commuter I ended up selling it because as a commuter it had been superceded by a different Bridgestone...but that’s for my next post.

Previous posts:
Part 1
Part 2

Thursday, January 15, 2009


What do you get when you mix a little Bjork with the best parts of Bobby McFerrin and throw in some French attitude? Camille. She also has one of the most fun artist websites around.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Pour Le Monde

I was wondering around Lowe's the other day trying to find some DIY plumbing parts and this came over the store speakers. The best song off of the last Crowded House album. A gorgeous melody but then what else would you expect from Neil Finn.

Is This The Best Nightriding Invention Ever?

A laser projection of a bike lane that travels with you? Genius! Read more about it here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is It Too Late For a New Year's Resolution?

Not when it's as good as this. As the site says:

Draw a circle with a 1-mile radius around your home. Try to replace one car trip per week within that circle by riding a bicycle or walking. At an easy riding pace you can travel one mile on a bicycle in about seven minutes. Walking takes about 20 minutes at an easy pace. For us flabby Americans this apparently sounds like a daunting task. Surely those hearty Dutch on their modern cycle routes routinely travel much farther.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stella Artois Just Became My Favorite Beer

While watching the Golden Globes tonight I was surprised to see this ad from Stella Artois beer. No doubt the production designers really knew what they were doing in capturing the look of early bicycle racing in France.

Sunday Morning Music - Leonard Cohen

This time of year folks are thinking about the upcoming year with hopefulness and possibility. Mr. Cohen has a different take on the "Future." Such a beautiful song from a songwriting giant.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Greased Lightning!

Click on the image to get a better view. This is the oddest of the "removal of excessive lube" methods I've read about.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

To All The Bikes I’ve Loved Before - Part 2

Not long after I returned to Lincoln, Nebraska to begin working in a small history museum I realized that what had served me well as a commuter wasn’t quite as good for the longer distance between work and apartment. Despite what most people think Nebraska does actually have a few hills and there’s no better way to discover this than to get out of a car and start riding a bike.

A college buddy of mine who was into cycling took me out on a Saturday and we rode around to all the main bike shops in town to check out the various brands. To his credit he never tried to influence my decision but was thrilled when I picked the local Bridgestone, Specialized dealer (with the strange and exotic sounding Eisentrauts hanging from the ceiling) as the place I felt most comfortable dropping the at-the-time jaw dropping amount of $400. The Bridgestones seemed special and it was clear that the employees preferred the bstones over the Specialized bikes but the budget pushed me towards the Specialized Rockhopper. This bike felt like a rocket after the years of rider a one-speed cruiser even though I immediately put fenders and a rack to make it commuter ready.

My Rockhopper is still going strong as my mom’s all-purpose errand bike.

Monday, January 05, 2009

To All The Bikes I’ve Loved Before - Part 1

Over the years, ever since my graduate school days, I’ve racked up quite a history of bikes that I’ve owned, ridden, liked, loved, and couldn’t live without.

It began with my realization that the 2 mile distance between my apartment and campus at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now UL Lafayette) was a ridiculously short distance to be constantly driving. Being a graduate assistant meant I was very poor and with little time on my hands for things besides reading, teaching, and working in the Cajun and Creole Archives. I think the thing that really put me over the edge was having to pay for a parking pass which seemed ridiculously expensive in addition to the gas for driving.

My childhood biking experiences were much like other kids of my generation. I had the early Schwinn with a banana seat and periodically put playing cards in the spokes. It was my first touch of freedom and I used the bike to ramble around my neighborhood. Later, I graduated to my dad’s Schwinn Sprint, a 70s bike boom incarnation that was a hot rod red but had been sitting in the garage unused for years when I finally grew into it and adopted it for my paper route.

I distinctly remember walking into a bike shop in Louisiana and being flabbergasted by the price of an entry level mountain bike which was what any bike shop was pushing in the 1990s. All I wanted was a “regular” bike. One speed, coaster brakes, like what I rode for my paper route back in the day. Gears? Lafayette was almost completely flat. Why would I need gears? I finally found a Schwinn store (the one brand I recognized) and purchased a bike very similar to this one.

Mine was blue and still had the chrome fenders on it. It was a blast even if it did weigh (I’m guessing) 40 pounds.

During the two years I was finishing up my masters degree I put who knows how many miles on that bike and must have the saved way more than the $165 I spent on that first foray back into what has become an obsession in my life.

Part 2...I discover the mountain bike and the joys of riding trails in the midwest.