Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Joan as Police Woman

The Five Places You Can't Ride A Bike

Interesting that 3 out of five places in this article specifically focus on keeping women from riding bikes. It's well documented that the bicycle was key to the early years of the women's rights movement if only because you couldn't very well bicycle in a corset and bloomers became all the rage. Amazing that bicycle is still seen as so dangerous in paternalistic cultures. In Saudi Arabia it's called the "horse of Satan." All the more reason to hop on a bike.

1. On U.S. Roads and Interstates

That many interstate freeways have prohibited cycling (and other slower traffic) makes sense, when you first think about it. On the other hand, to take such huge swathes of road away from the most efficient riders is also, when you think about it a second time, absurd. Not that city cyclists would want to mix with swift-moving traffic. Just that maybe we should rethink the laws that make car centrism so predominant, and possibly leverage some of the area around those swathes for protected bikes paths, too.

In awful precedent, in Johnson County, Iowa, a petition is currently being circulated to ban all bikes from roads considered 'farm to market,' (state or country roads that connect rural or agricultural areas to market tows) because "shared roadways are no longer safe or practical in today's society." That would deny a significant portion of the less-trafficked roads cyclists and motorists now share to bicycles, and one imagines increase motor traffic. As a side note, while the article on this banning provision states 698 cyclists were killed on U.S. roads in 2007, it fails to mention that in 2008, 43,313 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents.

North Korean Woman Biking photo
Photo Daily NK.

2. In North Korea (For Women)

Since the mid-1990s, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has declared it illegal for women to ride bicycles. Since 70% of households own a bike, there's undoubtedly a lot of illegal riding, as bikes for transport and to aid the commerce at local markets is well-known. Enforcement of Kim Jong Il's purported ruling banning females on bikes is said to be uneven, and involves a fine, rather than directly jail time. Bicycles were also banned up until the '90s in the capital city of Pyongyang.

3. In Saudi Arabia, Women Can't Drive or Bike

While it's hard to fathom, Saudi Arabian women are forbidden from driving or cycling 'on public roads.' According to this Utne story, Saudi clerics considered bicycles 'the Horse of Satan" back in the 1960s, and author Marwan Kraidy says a permit was required to ride one. Things have changed, of course, but gas is cheap and cars are king. The official injunction doesn't mean women never drive or bike, simply that they aren't sanctioned activties, though economic conditions may eventually allow these rules to be softened.
Find out what 4 and 5 are here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bicycling in Japan

An interesting article on urban riding in Japan. The country is really trying to grapple with many of the same urban bicycling issues we have in the U.S as more people forgo the auto and take to the streets on bikes.

"...on a grassroots level, Japan is definitely at the dawn of a new era in cycling, with increasing numbers of city dwellers now starting to use bikes for 5- to 10-km commutes or for recreation in the suburbs on weekends."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Street Vibrations - The Cliche Continues

I ought to be more forgiving of an event that brings thousands of people to Reno (and millions of dollars apparently). I can certainly appreciate the technology and design of some of the motorcycles. I have friends that are avid riders and once owned a little Aprilia myself. For that matter, one of my favorite tv shows from the last few years was the Long Way Round which traced Ewan MacGregor and Charlie Boorman's trip around the globe on some sweet BMWs.

Unfortunately everywhere you look over the weekend you couldn't help but see cliche after cliche of motorcycle riders trying hard to look bad-ass all the while struggling to handle their obnoxiously loud machines. I mean, the NOISE, gets a bit ridiculous. Especially when you have people going 60 mph down side streets at 4 a.m.

Sunday Morning Music - Belle & Sebastian

My wife's running up at Tahoe this morning so I couldn't help but think of this song.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Luxury Bicycle Touring

I think I've found my rig for next year's summer tour across the state. Of course, it will take me 4 weeks instead of 1 with this thing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Origin of Stupidity"

I know this is getting picked up and going viral but I can't help but post it. Her earlier piece on the "argument from personal experience" is something I've posted about previously.

Worth viewing all six minutes....

To All The Bikes I’ve Loved Before - Part 6

It's been way too long since my last "To All The Bikes I’ve Loved Before" post. After piecing together my first racing bike, a Bottechia with SLX tubing and a beautiful batch of retro campy record, I started saving my pennies for what I thought would be my dream bike: A Mondonico ELOS frame in Italian Red. I fell in love with the wishbone seatstays that were so delicate looking. I remember receiving the bike at my place of work because at the time I was living outside of Elko. I was pretty giddy and I think my coworkers thought I was crazy. I also took the plunge with a super light set of sewups wheels that made me feel like a rocket on this bike. I put in thousands of miles that included the Death Ride and various rides up in the Sierras. Antonio Mondonico isn't making frames anymore unfortunately. Alas, after I bought a Della Santa (more on that later) i couldn't really justify having both and sold it off. I don't miss it (too much).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Glee, Pushing Daisies, and Kristin Chenoweth

If you haven't checked out the new show, Glee, I heartily recommend that you do. For every great show that has the plug pulled it seems something comes along to fill its shoes. While Glee isn't nearly as precious as my fave from last year, Pushing Daisies, it already has gained a cult following and one I'm proud to call myself a member. I have a feeling the people watching Glee are going to be the same, but older, group of misfits from high school while Friday Night Lights appeals to the ex-jocks on their couches. Anyway, I've been waiting for someone to post this charming snippet in a high enough quality on youtube to make it worth noting. The choreography is ridiculously cute and has already inspired a host of imitators.

On a bittersweet tv note, the swan song of Pushing Daisies is official with the winning of best supporting actress by Kristen Chenoweth. It is well-deserved win from a very talented actress.

Bike Photo of the Day

Taken by a friend this past summer up on Peavine. I was in much better shape then...sigh.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cyclocross Season Starts!

Just passing along the info. Looks like a good time:

Cyclocross season starts this saturday, 9/26 in Stead.

there should be some good racing, good prizes, good courses and some great
stories to tell after.

I would like to thank this years sponsors who have already graciously donated some great prizes to the series.

Della Santa Bicycles
Reno Bike Project
Sidi Shoes/Veltech
Buckbean Brewing
Pearl Izumi
Law Offices of Demetras & O'Neill
The Hub Coffee Company

So come out and race, support and have a good time.

Who: You and 20 of your best friends

What: Reno Wheelman Sagebrush Cyclocross Series

When: 9/26 Dorothy Mcalienden Park, Stead NV
10/10 Kirkwood Resort, Kirkwood California (please note that Registration begins at 9am w/ races beginning at 11am)
11/7 Hidden Valley Park, Reno NV
11/21 Clayton Middle School, Reno NV
12/12 Bartley Ranch, Reno NV

* Registration Begins at 8:30am
* Races are $20.
* First race starts at 10am.
* Cash Prizes for top 3 Men and Women A's
* Beer for top three in all other classes donated by Buckbean Brewing.
* Coffee at all races provided by The Hub Coffee Company. Thanks mark!

Why: Because you like to suffer in front of your friends.


If you need to contact me or would like to volunteer during a race i can be reached

Phone: 775.622.6954

For some fun videos check out:

Monday, September 21, 2009

I, Robot Bicycles

I just watched the film I, Robot and the next day got an email from a friend about Joules, the electric stoker. It was a little unnerving watching this thing but I like that he has the weird aero helmet shaped head.

Joules also reminded me about a previous robot post about Big Dog. Still one of the creepiest videos I've ever seen.

Oh, and I, Robot? Don't bother. Not so good but I couldn't help myself since it is an Asimov book.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Morning Music - David Byrne

I was reminded how good this album is with the release of David Byrne's new book, Bicycle Diaries. Lots of great tracks from the Eno/Byrne collaboration, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reno Air Races!

Never been before but a field trip with 180+ middle schoolers got me there. Funny to see so many riding bikes to get from end of the field to the other. It made me wonder how many of the aviation fans new about the bicycle/flying connection or even that Orville and Wilbur Wright were bicycle makers prior to their Kitty Hawk success. There's a nice little write-up below from Gear Ratios. And below that there are some air race photos.

Wright Bicycle

That would be an original Wright Bicycle — apparently one of five known remaining in the world. That’s Wright as in Wright Brothers — Orville and Wilbur — the fellows who made that first ever flight. If you were paying attention in your elementary school history class, maybe you’ll remember that before they got famous for for building airplanes, they ran a bike shop and, later, the Wright Cycle Company, producing their own line.

Everybody knows that the Wrights built the first successful airplane, but what most people don’t know is that they’re also responsible for a major cycling innovation: the reverse threaded left-side pedal. Most early bikes had right hand threads on both pedals where they screwed into the crank, meaning that the action of pedaling would unscrew the pedal on the left side. This was, at best, annoying and, at worst, dangerous. The Wrights’ innovation, which is now on pretty much every bike that gets built today, fixed that — both pedals are self-tightening.


Another use for carbon fiber that I don't often think about.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Own Private Tour de France

This makes me wish I had my own private Tifosi. I suppose that's not right since this is French. But you get the gist. Anything to make climbing up mountains more enjoyable. Generally I just end up singing to myself but if I had a bunch of fans encouraging me that would be so much better.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Is it Time for a Reno Randonneur Club?

If you don't know what a randonnée is you can check out this link. It seems with a great competitive club like the Reno Wheelmen and another good and slightly more relaxed club in the Procrastinating Pedalers we might have some room for a brevet club of some sort. Any interest out there? I'm thinking a fall or early spring series would be a great time to put a little group of rides together. It's possible that we could even include a bit of offroading but not anything technical. I've been getting my bike randonnee ready and am already starting to think about some loaded tours for next year. This would be a good way to get yourself tour or race ready depending on your riding goals.

For more good information on randonneuring check out Bicycle Quarterly. Great photos and great technical info on the sport. Or check out the RUSA.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Beatles

Continuing with my personal celebration of the remastered Beatles albums. The "White Album" is one of their best and this is one of my favorite tracks although it is a slightly different version than the one that appears on the album. Seems like a good choice for hump day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

David Byrne Publishes Bicycle Diaries and Finds Himself a City to Ride In

It's hard not to be excited about hearing David Byrne's musings about urban cycling that are about to be published in his new book, Bicycle Diaries. He's a favorite music innovator of mine and I've known about his passion for cycling for several years. In fact, this is a great video from the Wall Street Journal about Byrne's bicycle rack designs in NYC:

I expect his take on riding in the city to be full of unique observations, not unlike the lyrics he has been writing forever. Other reflections on cities from DB (one of my favorite Talking Heads songs). I can't really write about Byrne without posting some great music:

Blurb for Bicycle Diaries:

Byrne is fascinated by cities, especially as visited on a trusty fold-up bicycle, and in these random musings over many years while cycling through such places as Sydney, Australia; Manila, Philippines; San Francisco; or his home of New York, the former Talking Head, artist and author (True Stories) offers his frank views on urban planning, art and postmodern civilization in general. For each city, he focuses on its germane issues, such as the still troublingly clear-cut class system in London, notions of justice and human migration that spring to mind while visiting the Stasi Museum in Berlin, religious iconography in Istanbul, gentrification in Buenos Aires and Imelda Marcos's legacy in Manila. In low-key prose, he describes his meetings with other artists and musicians where he played and set up installations, such as an ironic PowerPoint presentation to an IT audience in Berkeley, Calif. He notes that the condition of the roads reveals much about a city, like the impossibly civilized, pleasant pathways designed just for bikes in Berlin versus the fractured car-mad system of highways in some American cities, giving way to an eerie post apocalyptic landscape (e.g., Detroit). While stupid planning decisions have destroyed much that is good about cities, he is confident there is hope, in terms of mixed-use, diverse neighborhoods; riding a bike can aid in the survival of cities by easing congestion. Candid and self-deprecating, Byrne offers a work that is as engaging as it is cerebral and informative.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Cycle lanes encourage motorists to drive closer to bikes, says study"

The headline alone from this article grabbed my attention. But there is something troubling about the logic behind the study and article. Doesn't it make sense that if you mark a lane on pavement for cars or bikes that both operators of either type of vehicle are going to feel a bit more secure that they know where to position themselves in the lane and that they are going to in general, stay there?

I'm generally a proponent of bike lanes figuring that anything that demarcates a place for bicycles as viable modes of transportation on the roads is a good thing. That's not to say there aren't problem areas when creating them. Right turn lanes at intersections are a prime example. I also don't quite buy the notion that marked bike lanes "ghettoize" bicycles although I do fear that completely separate "recreational multi-use" trails are training drivers to see bikes as second-class road users. The argument against bike lanes tends to come down to the notion that bikes are supposed to use, and stay on, only the streets that have bike lanes. But it doesn't take too much intelligence to figure out that bike lanes don't take you everywhere in a city and that bicycles have the right to navigate the streets as the vehicles they are. This is one of those "gray area" arguments when it comes to bike lanes and multi-modal transportation design. I just tend to come down on the side of visibility of bikes at any cost. Bike lanes, even without bikes in them, are a constant reminder to drivers that bikes may be using the same road.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Morning Music - The Beatles

I couldn't help but pick up a couple of my favorite remastered Beatles records this past week. A pretty striking difference particularly on Rubber Soul, an amazing album and their first that showed the influence of drugs on their work. The other thing that struck me about the album is that even though they are still in (later) cute, moptop, mode, there are a couple of seriously dark tracks on the album. I'm Looking Through You and Run For Your Life are great betrayal songs and quite twisted.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bicycles Are Not Fashion Accessories!

The good news is it's a bicycling story in the NYTimes. The bad news is they are being treated like fashion accessories. Next week it'll be chihuahuas or pocket watches. But there is not denying that New York has made a concerted effort to embrace the bicycle in recent years so it's not surprising to see it influencing fashion designers. All in all a good thing.


Until recently, bikes were merely fashionable. Lately, it seems, they are fashion — and they don’t have to be ultraexpensive novelty items to qualify. As fashion companies start marketing bicycles and bike gear, Mr. Dutreil, a supporter of bicycle-advocacy programs in New York, said he wants to see more cyclists pedaling around in high style, just like that woman in the Randall photograph.

“An elegant lady or man,” he said, “on a bike that is elegant, that’s really the new art of living.”

But some purists worry that their beloved bikes are being turned into a showy status symbol.

“There is definitely a downside to biking when bikes become a fashion fad,” Wendy Booher, 39, a cycling journalist in Somerville, Mass., wrote in an e-mail message. “If you unleash a herd of teetering, wobbly fashionistas into city streets without any real knowledge of how to ride a bike in traffic, accidents can (and likely will) happen.”

Birgitte Philippides, a makeup artist who has been a bike commuter in New York for 20 years, said she finds amusing the idea of riding a shiny “It” bike in a city where you need to chain down your beater Murray three-speed with two Kryptonite locks. “The fancy-schmancy bikes, the ones you see in the Paul Smith windows, you couldn’t leave that out on the street for two minutes,” she said.

It is no coincidence that fashion is having a bike moment at the same time that New York City, the capital of American fashion, has gone bicycle crazy. The number of daily cyclists in the city has jumped to an estimated 185,000, from 107,000 in 2005, according to Transportation Alternatives, a bicycle-advocacy organization. Indeed, some New York designers are bike commuters themselves, like Steven Alan, who commutes to work on a foldable Strida, which looks like a bicycle as reimagined by Duchamp.

In addition, the city has installed more than 120 miles of bike lanes in the last two years, making it easier for new cyclists to take to the streets dressed to impress, not to duel with cars.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Little Sweat is Good for You

This Bike Commuter story from All Things Considered about NYC is quite good. The money quote comes from Bikesnobnyc who is interviewed in the piece when he says:
"The entire notion that we have to build an transportation infrastructure around allowing people to show up to work clean in suits...why...who cares?!"

Sunday, September 06, 2009

What the Hell is a Bob?

Many visitors to this site may already know what a Bob is but since I was recently asked to post the "Bob Gazettes" I thought it a worthwhile time to mention some developments in the world of bobdom. The best explanation of what a bob is comes in this essay. Simply put, Bob means Bridgestone Owners Bunch, but it has come to mean so much more. Bridgestone bikes no longer sells bike in the U.S. but for awhile they garnered some much deserved respect for their simple, practical, and proven designs. Some of their best bikes still sell on ebay for as much or more than they went for back in their hey day of the late 80s and early 1990s. Bobs value the virtues of simplicity and value with a nod to aesthetics in the bicycle world. But bobbishness has also crossed over to other products such as bags and cameras.

As a testament to how strong the Bob "movement" is you can visit the ongoing email discussions at the boblist. For that matter, a few years back I scanned many of my paper articles, reviews, catalogs, of Bridgestone Bicycle stuff (I'm something of a packrat/librarian by trade before my teaching days). I posted these articles on a website and over a few years time I had several hundred thousand visits from people interested in all things Bob. Those Bob resources now live at Sheldon Brown's website, a frequent link for many cyclists.

Interestingly, the bike industry has been migrating for years towards more bobbish product lines. In the midst of all the high zoot carbon fiber there has been an increased amount of steel, "simple," bicycles that represent biking for biking's sake. The new development is that this year it looks like some heavier hitters in the industry are jumping on board. Smaller, boutiquish makers like Surly have been doing this for years but when Specialized and Fuji come out with these two bikes I have to take note. Neither of these bikes is perfect in a true bobbish sense. But at $600 for that red Allez I can't help but be intrigued. It looks like this bike will do 90% of what most transportation oriented cyclists want it to do in a stylish way. And downtube shifters on a new bike! Who would have thought it would happen in 2009.

Of course, the ultimate in bobbishness may very well be to find yourself a nice used lugged steel frame that is still in good condition and head down to the Reno Bike Project to build it up with some good quality components. Bobs tend to be DIYers.

Here's a link to jpgs of the Bob Gazette, the Bridgestone Owners Bunch newsletter from back in the day.

Sunday Morning Music - T. Rex

Time to wake up!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Bicycling is Safer Than You Think!

I used to have a great chart detailing the amount of fatalities per million hours of "exposure" for a whole battery of activities ranging from skydiving, driving, swimming, cycling, and walking. Not surprisingly skydiving had the greatest number of fatalities but cycling came in as safer than being a pedestrian. I used to pull this chart out (it was hanging next to my desk at work) when people would question me as to why I could possibly find it safe to bike to work.

Now comes some new stats that seem to backup my original numbers. I'm not suggesting there aren't risks to cycling, and certainly many cyclists could use some road manners and training on how to ride safely (unlike many European countries the U.S. doesn't require this). But for every "bad" cyclist I'd trade the hundred drivers I see breaking the law....I'm getting sidetracked. Here is an excerpt of a recent article throwing around some interesting stats:

A survey by the fitness publisher Rodale Press (cited here in an article by the League of American bicyclists) found that some 40 percent of Americans would commute by bike “if safe facilities were available.” It seems that a lot more of us would like to bike to work, but we’re too afraid of the cars.

But how dangerous is cycling, exactly? In 2007, The New York Times’s Freakonomics blog cited a study by researchers John Pucher and Lewis Dijkstra that found that, per kilometer, those on bikes are 12 times more likely than those in cars to suffer a fatal accident.

It sounds scary, but it’s worth noting that the same study found that pedestrians are 23 times more likely than drivers to die, per kilometer. And it’s probably also worth pointing out – as Freakonomics did – this Danish study, which found that those who do not bike to work have a 39 percent higher mortality rate than those who do.

What’s more, according to an article on the legal website Nolo, only 11 percent of bicycle accidents involve a collision with a car. In most bicycle accidents, the cyclist simply loses control and crashes.