Monday, August 31, 2009

Is Reno A Bicycle Friendly Community?

The Reno Transportation Commission's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC-A Committee on which I serve) is embarking on a campaign to get Reno classified as a bicycle friendly community. The process is a long and involved one that will require many hours. More info and resources can be found here on the work ahead of us and the process we will be starting.

I've long believed that Reno is far more bike friendly than most people give it credit. More than that, I believe that the Reno bike community doesn't do enough to embrace its potential as one of the bicycling meccas of the country. There are so many people, businesses, and other cycling related entities that are intertwined and have emerged over the last decade. The growth of these groups has been a great boon to the city. The growth has also been amazing because of the organic way the bike community has developed. The laundry list of cycling advocates ranges from City Council Members and State Assemblymen, to businesses such as Bootleg Courier, the Tour de Nez, Reno Bike Project, the Reno Wheelmen and Procrastinating Pedalers Bicycle Clubs, the various bicycle shops, RTC, etc. etc. Not to mention the thousands of individual cyclists who flood our streets every year using the most efficient form of transportation ever devised to go about their daily lives. And don't get me started on the expansive history of Reno cycling.

It seems that our community is on the brink of achieving a critical mass (I use this phrase cautiously). I hesitate to suggest that imposing some sort of administrative organization pooling all of these interested parties might be a good thing. Cyclists, by our very natures, seem to be too unruly to be corralled. But perhaps for Reno to take the next step in becoming and touting itself as a bicycle friendly community we should be looking for a way to link up in a more organized way. Many of us know each other but few know everybody in the bike community. How do we do this? I'm asking for feedback as the BPAC looks to get the ball rolling on this monumental project.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Morning Music - Arcade Fire

The first time I saw this I got choked up with the reimagining that Spike Jonze created of Where the Wild Things Are. The trailer feels pitch perfect and the Arcade Fire song works perfectly. I'm hopeful that Jonze can sustain a feature film out of what is a children's picture book that takes 10 minutes to read. I saw this in front of the Harry Potter film and while HP wasn't terrible, it was certainly downhill after seeing this.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Reno Home to New Bicycling Event

The Reno Galena Fest will hold it's inaugural event Sunday, September 27th. More information at the above link. While I'm not much of a mountain biker (that's a nice way of saying I have a hard time keeping the rubber side down when I'm on the trail) I can say it'll be a great place to ride. And a really good cause! More details are at the site. Some details from the PR for you competitive mountain bikers:

What’s sure to be the most talked about and anticipated element of Galena Fest, The Bloody Rose, a grueling, competitive climb starting at the Park and climbing more than 4700’ of vertical over 11 miles, will conclude at the top of Relay Peak, overlooking Lake Tahoe. The overall men’s and women’s finisher will take home a season pass to Mt. Rose Ski. The Bloody Rose starts at 9 AM. The Thorn, a shorter 5 mi. climb from the Park to The Wall at Sky Tavern, will challenge even the toughest. Category winners will enjoy lift tickets at Mt. Rose Ski. Start time is 9:30 AM. Both races are open to ages 14 and over. Early registrants will be timed and will compete for the prizes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The End is Nigh - A New Bike To Work Challenge

The summer is over and the school year starts today for us teachers. Even though the kids don't show up until the 31st we are being "professionally developed" for these next few days plus all the work we must do to be ready for the onslaught. I'm at a different school this year. Middle school so it'll take a lot of energy to keep up with them but it's a good group and a good school.

The downside in some ways is that my bike commute will now be 15 miles round trip instead of the 24 miles a day from last year. I managed to put in around 100 days of bike commuting last year which put me at 2400ish miles. Add to that my bike tour across Nevada and my general weekend and summer miles I'm around 4K miles for the last year. Respectable but not great.

This year's bike to work challenge is going to be a bit different than previous years. My goal is to ride 120+ days out of the year. That's two thirds of the school year. I'd like to emphasize consistency and quantity of days on the bike instead of strictly mileage (although I will certainly log miles). There are 180 school days in a year (not counting the weekends that I generally rode in to get some work done). If I only ride 100 days out of the year I'll be at 1,500 miles which feels a little wimpy after 2,400 miles last year. Granted, I will be getting out a little earlier in the day so I plan on tacking a few extra miles in after school.

The other interesting thing about the new commute is that the morning ride will be a lot of elevation gain and conversely, the ride home will be a chilly downhill in those winter months. There will definitely be some new challenges as we jump in to the new school year. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"What A Piece Of Work Is Man"

Back from a quick trip to Ashland to visit the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and suck the life out of the last weekend before school starts. I didn't realize that the OSF was performing Hamlet in the 2010 season. Can't wait for that.

Equivocation turned out to be one of the highlights of the 2009 season although for pure entertainment value, A Servant of Two Masters may be the most fun play I've ever seen performed.

I can't really look at Anthony Heald without seeing Dr. Chilton from Silence of the Lambs (for better or worse).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fixed Gears in the Olympics?

How long will it be before this sort of thing is in the Olympics? It's no sillier than beach volleyball. Thanks to Marc over at EcoReno for sending this my way.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Actions Speak Louder Than Beliefs

“Man is nothing else but what he purposes, he exists only in so far as he realises himself, he is therefore nothing else but the sum of his actions, nothing else but what his life is.” - Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism.

"...the truth of what one says lies in what one does." - Bernhard Schlink, The Reader.

These quotes have been rolling through my brain over the last few days as I have been going through some professional and personal turmoil in my own life. The kind of turmoil I should probably expect more often but for some reason surprises me every time. Both of these quotes remind me that what we believe is important but it's our actions that are really a measure of our lives. I've taught the Sartre piece before and it has yielded interesting discussions about what defines our identities and how we attempt to maintain integrity in a world where humans struggle to live life in an ethical manner. Or, if you prefer, at least attempt to not spend their time f*****g anyone else over. It's the ultimate question isn't it? Is it our nature to act with empathy towards our fellow humans or to act solely out of self-interest no matter the harm it causes? I know what Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau would say and it appears we'll never have consensus.

One of the best and most concise explanations of this dilemma (and answer to it) that I have found came from a section of the film, Waking Life, and luckily I was able to find the clip on youtube. I particularly like this quote in the discussion of existentialism but the whole film is worth viewing.
"...when Sartre talks about responsibility, he's not talking about something abstract. He's not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It's something very concrete. It's you and me talking. Making decisions. Doing things and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in the world and counting. Nevertheless, what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms. Makes a difference to other people and it sets an example."

In the end it may be that it is impossible to live a wholly ethical life but that doesn't mean we shouldn't spend our lives struggling against our basic impulses to act solely in our self-interest.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


You'll have to decide which is more ridiculous - MC SpandX or the Fixie rider. I vote for both.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"On yer left"...the evils of iPods

While riding the other day I popped off road on the trails near Windy Hill (the joys of riding a cross bike!). I tend to be very cautious because there are a lot of peds that use the trails but I wasn't expecting this iPod wearing woman to be so oblivious to my presence. You can see how slow I was going up this hill in the video. Who knows how loud she had her music turned up but it just goes to show how distracting it can be to be listening to music while exercising.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Bikes and Beignets

Biked down to West Street Market yesterday and enjoyed some beignets and coffee. It almost hearkened back to my days in Louisiana...only without the infernal humidity and two-inch flying cockroaches.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Morning Music - The Cars

Back in the day I was quite the Cars fan. Before Ric Ocasek became mister super producer for the 1st and 3rd Weezer albums, Bad Brains, etc. he was one of the driving forces behind a band that still doesn't get much respect. That's too bad because there are some rock gems in their catalog. Here are a few of my favorites.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hot August Bikes Meets Hot August Nights

A few images from last night's Hot August Bike Ride. I was pleased that drivers and pedestrians were, on the whole, extremely nice and waving and shouting. The kids loved all the bikes riding together. As usual the only negheads were the motorcycle cops. While I appreciated the police escort at times, when they shout "If you are not in the bike lane, you are wrong"...I'm left shaking my head at how articulate they are. Maybe someone should develop a tv show centered around the Reno PD...oh, wait. Click on the images for a larger version. Sorry they're not in order.

West Street Market pre ride

Reno Cycle Chic

City Councilmen Dave Aiazzi

Noah from the Reno Bike Project

Cool purple Kogswell in the background

Friday, August 07, 2009

Have You Seen This Weed? - Attack of the Killer Goat Heads

It can't be just me. I know you've seen them. Every night while walking the dog I gaze with horror at the proliferation of Tribulus Terrestris, i.e. Goat Head weeds that are spreading through my neighborhood. Every cyclist knows them. You must have seen them. For whatever reason they are having one of their strongest growing seasons in the recent memeory.

Goat head "fruit" (click on images for larger view)

To my knowledge there are 3 ways to get rid of them. Pull them, poison them, burn them. I've used all three methods. If you are lucky right now they haven't yet produced the "nutlets" that are the bane of any cyclists tires and have bloodied my dogs foot pads.

Once the nutlets dry up you are left with dozens, if not hundreds, of these little goat heads on sidewalks primed to induce tears from little kids as they pull them out of their feet.

For your dog, kids, and bike tire's sake, get rid of them as soon as you can before they take over the entire city.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hot August Bike Ride - Don't Miss It!

Last year the HABR was a blast with a huge crowd and Councilmen Dave Aiazzi saying a few words to the participants before embarking on a ride around the downtown Reno area. I've heard estimates of 200 people attended last year and that seems about right after glancing at my photos from the ride. One of the things I loved about last year's ride was that the riders included everyone from little kids to seniors. A sure sign that you have a thriving bicycle culture is when you see multigenerational riding. We may have a ways to go in Reno but we're on the right path.

Here is the official info from the Reno Bike Project:

Aug 7th @ 6:00pm: "Hot August Bikes" Ride!: Come to the West Street Market for the Annual "Hot August Bikes" ride. Last year over 200 people proudly rode through Reno and this year is guaranteed to be bigger and better. Live music with the Holland Project will be after.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Bike Path to Enlightenment

A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market,riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”

The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!”

The teacher praised the student, saying, “You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do.”

The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path.”

The teacher commended the student, “Your eyes are open and you see the world.”

The third student replied, “When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo.”

The teacher gave praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”

The fourth student answered, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings.”

The teacher was pleased and said, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”

The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.”

The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, “I am your disciple.”

Monday, August 03, 2009

Pedal Powered Phone Charger

What are the odds that I would get two separate articles on pedal-powered phone chargers crossing my desk on the same day? One came from my dad and the other via a friend. I could have used one of these on my recent bike tour since I spent half of it thinking I had forgotten my charger. One article is a HOW-TO guide. The other highlights a two students in Kenya who developed the charger to help out the people in their town.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sunday Morning Music -Paolo Conte

This is not really a video, just images to the audio, but the song is so beautiful. Who else could work the kazoo like this? Paolo Conte is a national treasure...just not of this country.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Hot August Nights - Where Cars Go To Die

Is this car heaven or car hell? I can't help but think of how many bicycles you could have made out of even one of these hunks of steel, plastic, and rubber. For every dolled up hot rod for Hot August Nights there must be a million cars like these stuck in a junk yard.