Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mountain Bike Museum Exhibit

Sadly I missed this exhibit over the summer in Lincoln, NE.  I was back this past weekend visiting my alma mater for the Michigan vs. NU football game and noticed the flyers up around one of my favorite bike shops, Monkey Wrench Cycles.   Luckily, the shop supplied many of the bikes for the exhibit and they were all available to ogle.  Here are a few shots from the Monkey Wrench site as well as a modern fat tired bike that would probably be pretty darn fun in the snow and slush of the midwest.

While mountain biking is a popular pastime for thrill-seekers today, it was relatively unheard of until the mid-1980s. Before then, a few industrious daredevils in Marin County, California, built custom bikes to zoom around the mountainous terrain where they lived. These visionary individuals combined engineering ingenuity with an artistic eye, using found parts to create durable bicycles that could withstand the bumps and tumbles of downhill racing. This summer, some of these early mountain bikes, on loan from the Monkey Wrench collection, will be on view in the Great Hall.

A few shots of bikes from the exhibit but this link has much more from the collection worth checking out.

Charlie Cunningham Indian

1984 Ibis Cycles Custom

1983 Tom Ritchey Commando

Monday, October 29, 2012

Protecting Cyclists in Berkeley...why not here?

This is great news not only because cyclists shouldn't be harassed but because the emphasis is on education of road users.  Something that is too often neglected when it comes to promoting cycling simply because it is generally expensive to educate people.  People want to do things on the cheap which is one of the reasons our public school system is in such dire straights in this country.

Excerpt (full article here):
Last week, Berkeley became the second American city to implement an anti-harassment law to protect bicycle riders and allow victims to sue offending drivers in civil court.

The ordinance will be followed by an educational campaign later this year, and proponents hope it will garner greater respect towards people cycling on the city’s streets. 
“This ordinance is about educating motorists about how to be responsible users of the roadway,” said Dave Campbell, program director for the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC). ”We have roadways that have not been designed for safe bicycle usage by planners and engineers. That in and of itself encourages bicyclists to disobey the rules of the road, because the rules were never written for them, and when motorists start treating cyclists as second-class citizens, that even further encourages [that behavior]. This is about changing that.” 
Los Angeles was the first city in the country to adopt a bicyclist anti-harassment law last July, after which L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti proclaimed: “If L.A. can do it, every city in the country can do it.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obligatory "High Gas Prices Lead to More Bicyclists" Story

I think that magic threshold number of $4.00 a gallon gas is no longer valid.  Try five or six to get people really looking to trade in their cars for bicycles.  To be sure people will grumble about paying $4 but we've been hovering too long around that number for it to have the psychological impact it once did.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from the article from SFGate.  I like that they don't just focus on the bigger CA cities but talk about smaller places making investments in cycling infrastructure which makes it more pertinent to a city like Reno:


Among the first cities trying to get people peddling was Long Beach, California's seventh most populous city. The Southern California city installed the country's first bike transit center in 1996, and now features more than 120 miles of bike lanes and paths.

The city has seen a 50 percent increase this year in the number of people who bike and walk to work, said Allan Crawford, Long Beach's bike coordinator.

It's not only about getting people to cycle long distances to work — although that has increased, too. Cities are focusing on the short trips to the grocery store, or families getting the kids to school.

Short drives account for 37 percent of all car trips, and use a lot of fuel.

"Take any given point in the city and draw a one-mile radius around it, and you've got 10,000 people who live within that radius. Our focus is really on those short bike trips ... to the grocery store and to get the kids to school," Crawford said.

"The question is: How do we get people out of the mindset of getting into their car?"

This same question was asked in hilly San Francisco, where chilly fog and geography are a challenge for getting people to bike to work and school.

The increase in San Francisco cyclists since 2008 came after the city spent $4.5 million in public money on 23 miles of new bicycle lanes stretching from the bay to the Pacific Ocean. Dedicated, separated bike lanes have been sprouting up on streets throughout the city and have made cycling safer.

It's not just major cities reacting to residents' call for more bike-friendly projects.

Davis in Northern California has one of the highest rates of bicycling in the nation, with 17 percent of its 64,000 residents using a bike to commute to work and 41 percent calling bikes their primary mode of transportation, according to a study by the Bicycle Federation of America.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/As-gas-prices-soar-city-cycling-more-attractive-3946044.php#ixzz29wsqenVF

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's New, It's Modern, It's...a bicycle...

I'm pretty sure that $4,000 for this is not money well-spent...but it is pretty in a swoopy sort of way.  It's interesting the lengths that bicycle companies will go to to making what is functionally essentially a 130 year old design seem modern, and a status symbol for the growing urban riding set.

Info from the company:
RizomaThe New Metropolitan Bicycle
MilanRizoma, the internationally renowned brand for all things cycling, presented the innovative metropolitan bike 77|011 dedicated to those who love style and technology.
A unique commodity, ideal for navigating urban environments with style, the 77|011 has changed the rules and the concept of motion, adapting it for contemporary culture.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Better Love That Saddle

For people that live on their bicycles apparently.  Kind of an interesting idea actually and it seems to be pretty well designed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"The Levi Effect," Hero Worship, and Lance

Watching the trailer to this film I'm at once impressed by the cinematography and what appears to be a high quality production and compelling story, and left wondering where we are as a society as far as hero worship.  There is an old saying about cultures getting the heroes they deserve and in light of the recent implosion of professional cycling and doping (although I don't know anyone who was really surprised by the extent of the "doping program") I'd say that this is certainly true.

Having sports heroes has always been somewhat puzzling to me.  I'm very much in awe of some of the physical acts that you can see the human body perform on any given week in sports around the world.  To not be impressed by what the human body is capable of seems odd.  I'm not sure how that is truly different than being amazed by Noam Chomsky's work in linguistics or Hugh Everett's many world's work in quantum physics.  Of course, to enjoy some of the great intellectual giants I don't have to endure the ridiculously crass commercialization that surrounds sports.

Where we get into trouble seems to be with going beyond the appreciation of an amazing physical feat and somehow investing ourselves in the human performing them.  That has been the very thing that made Lance Armstrong such a cultural icon.  It was greatness of his physical achievements wedded to his very personal story of cancer and recovery that made him so compelling and gave him the "Q rating."

For years I've been saying when asked, "Lance probably did dope but until they have definitive proof you have to give him the benefit of the doubt."   I'm kind of hung up on the seemingly antiquated notion of innocent until proven guilty.   Well, it appears that the fat lady has sung if you don't mind me mixing my sports references.

In the end I'm still going to appreciate the way he and others were able to drill those pedals and ride away from their competitors.  Frankly, I feel a bit bad for all those second tier or domestique riders who got swept up in the doping culture.  The pressure must have been intense and it's not like those B level riders were making much money.  Professional cycling is big business but the big money only goes to a select top-tier of riders.  If you had the choice of going back to living on $15,000 a year, working a day job, traveling in a van or camping as you tried to race the U.S. circuit and perhaps win a bit of prize money or jumping to a larger team with a "program" and you could make hundreds of thousands of dollars what would you do?

This is a long-winded way of getting to a new that is screening Tuesday night all over the country called, The Levi Effect.  Levi Leipheimer was never the household name that Armstrong is but he's a respected and formidable rider in his own right.  After the screening there is a panel discussion.  Considering that his name came up in the recent report on Lance's doping program I'd be curious about where that discussion goes.  It screens at the Riverside and Summit Sierra on Tuesday.

Screening and ticket info here.

"Having to face this part of my career on camera was one of the most challenging moments of my life. But in order for this story to have integrity, I had to open myself to the makers of this documentary and step well outside of my comfort zone." ~Levi Leipheimer

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bicycle Fixation

I happened upon this little documentary on Netflix and have been pleasantly surprised at the high quality of the film.   Surprised only because I'm not exceedingly interested in the fixed gear bike scene (in fact I feel like it's been on the wane for several years).  I certainly enjoyed my time with my Bianchi Pista, Pinarello track bike, and my Milwaukee Orange One.  But in the end felt like a dedicated bike for fixed gear riding just wasn't for me.  Perhaps one day I'll change my mind but for now, shifting gears is good.

That being said, this film is really nicely filmed and has great footage of urban riding.  I'd urge anybody interested in city cycling to check it out.  It's a short 50 minutes and available as I said on Netflix streaming.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Helicopter Bicycle Geek

I'm pretty much a sucker for human-powered anything but the quest for the Sikorsky Prize is just too cool for words.    The nitty-gritty details:   
"The American Helicopter Society (AHS) has promised $250,000 to the team that can build a human-powered helicopter. All it has to do is hover for a minute, reach a height of 3 meters (about 10 feet), and stay in a 10-meter box.
Turns out, that's harder than it sounds. The prize has been unclaimed for more than three decades."     The rest of the article is here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bicycling is Good for the Economy...still

It seems that there is a growing understanding of the obvious benefits of bicycle advocacy and urban design as it relates to the economy, as I'm picking up more and more articles that are recognizing that when you make infrastructure friendlier of bicyclists and pedestrians, local businesses reap the benefits. And, of course, that reaps benefits for the local government and the quality of life for citizens in urban areas. Planetizen posted this article and it may be one of the longer pieces breaking down the benefits that people are recognizing around the country as they increase their commitment to what I will call human friendly transport.

Two quick things to note about this ongoing discussion regarding the benefits of cycling to a community are that the more people tend to deemphasize the automobile in their lives, the more discretionary income they are likely to have, by virtue of not paying for $4.00 plus gasoline.   And, to bring this point home to Reno, as I look at the positives and negatives of the investment in the growing Midtown District (in which I live) you can see that ease of getting around by foot or by bicycle in the area provides a direct benefit to those businesses.  It would be nice if the city made a very direct and obvious commitment to putting in thematically linked bicycle racks throughout the neighborhood and did a better job of slowing the traffic along the busy Virginia Street spine that intersects the area so that it feels safer to cross the street.
You can see that in a vibrant business district that there’s a lot of foot traffic and bicycle traffic, and you instinctively understand that it’s really good for business. But you need these numbers to have credibility when you are making the case." 
Bike infrastructure has also been associated with favorable levels of job creation compared to other forms of transport. A study last year by Heidi Garrett-Peltier at the Political Economy Research Institute, looking at 58 separate projects, found that $1 million invested in bike infrastructure produced 11.4 jobs, against 10 jobs for the same amount invested in pedestrian schemes, and 7.8 jobs for road-only projects.  [Emphasis Mine]
More here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I Guess This is Satire

...just not very good satire.   From the daily mash in Britain.

BRITAIN is in the grip of a deadly addiction to bicycles, according to new research.
As bike-pusher Halfords reported record sales, experts said the liberalisation of cycling laws had created a generation who may as well be French.
Professor Henry Brubaker, of the Institute for Studies, said: “There are now hundreds of thousands of people in this country who are of no use to anyone except Halfords.
“You would not want them in your place of business and the idea of having one in your home turns the stomach.
“They come in dripping with sweat and self satisfaction and then steal money from your secret jar so they can buy disgusting shorts.
“I feel particularly sorry for parents who did their best, only for their child to come home one day full of horrible, boring environmentalism.”
Brubaker said that anyone who campaigned for cycle lanes to be legalised should have their houses confiscated and accused the BBC of glamourising bicycles.
He added: “If you watch the One Show it seems every other person is being handed an Olympic gold medal just because they can go a bike faster than a German.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"It Rides Like Buttah" - My New Gunnar Sport

I'd been mulling a sport touring type frame for a couple of years and waffled between various good options out there in the bicycling world.  I knew I wanted to be able to fit a slightly fatter tire in the frame but still retain a sense of the sprightliness of a good road bike.  I also was dreaming about creating an ultra-light touring rig for some summer adventures.

On the higher end I had looked at the DeSalvo road/dirt bike that I had lusted over at last year's North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento.  A beautiful bike to be sure and I liked the utilitarianess of the tig welded frame.  I'd also considered something closer to home in trying to persuade Roland Della Santa to create a sport touring styled bike (something I know he has done for others) but felt like his natural niche is a classic road bike which I already have and love.

I also mulled some less expensive and sturdier options that would have served this purpose well.  Soma and Surly would have been obvious places to look.  I also seriously considered the Black Mountain Cycles road option which I took a good look at when I was in Pt. Reyes this past summer.  Ultimately I was swayed in part by the desire to support a company building bikes in the U.S. and I also have such great experiences with my Gunnar Crosshairs for trail riding that it wasn't long before I found myself looking at the Gunnar Sport geometry charts on their website.

It took me months to pull the trigger but the wait for a beautiful American made steel bike was worth it. I love the versatility inherent in this design because even though I longed for a plush riding road bike built to carry a light load, I know I could pretty easily trade out a few parts and have a fastish road bike.  I intend to use this bike for cruising the neighborhood, commuting to work, credit card touring, and even throwing a 20-25 pound load with a rear rack on the back and heading out for some unsupported ultralight touring in the years ahead.  Judging from my initial short rides it would handle all of this with ease.

I ordered the frame through my local bike shop, College Cyclery, and had a fitting that persuaded me to opt for a custom option so the headtube would be slightly longer to get the bars higher without an excess of spacers.  I also chose the flat fork crown option just because I have a thing for flat fork crowns.

The recent color of the month option of a English Blue Metallic with White Panels was perfect.  It reminds me a bit of those first Rivendell Road Standards and the signature blue they used.  I've never been thrilled with the Gunnar typeface on the downtube but the panel squishes the font and improves the look a lot. Being a dog lover it makes me happy that this "bargain" line from Waterford is named after their labrador.

I had it built up with mostly some odds and ends I had sitting in my basement except for a few special things like the campagnolo 10 speed bar end shifters, the TRP "drillium" brake levers, and the Tektro brakes.  Parts spec:

Record hubs/DT rims
10 speed campy cassette
Chorus rear derailleur med cage/Chorus front der.
SRAM Rival Crank
VO seatpost/stem
Nitto Noodle Bar
MKS pedals/Soma cages/Christophe straps
Brooks Imperial
Jack Brown 33.3 Tires
Stainless Steel chainguard (a sweet little detail to complete the look)
Old School Italian aluminum tool "bag" from Buzz Bomb Bicycles

Ultimately I feel like the Gunnar philosophy hits that sweet spot between strictly utilitarian and overly boutiquey bikes while still being made in the U.S.   Granted, the build I opted for brings out the boutiqueness but at heart it's a practical machine ready for some hard use.  Here is a gallery of photos.  Ride photos to come I'm sure....

Not quite sure yet what to put in this thing...snacks or bourbon?

Hard to see but the two black spacers mimic the two black stripes bookmarking the panel.
Old Style College Cyclery sticker
A slightly broader range cassette might be in order at some point.
Gunnar says it'll fit 32s but these are 33.3 and still have a good amount of space.

"It rides like buttah"...the first words out of Chad's (bike mechanic extraordinaire) mouth when I went to pick up the bike.


NPR Does Cyclocross!

This is a pretty amazing story of being motivated to change your life.  A bit scarily so since I don't know if I would start racing cyclocross if I had Angina...a discipline that is known for it's lung and heart busting intensity.   Still, it's nice to see people racing who aren't wafer thin and it's even nicer to see that Ernest Gagnon has managed to go from 570 pounds down to 330.


As you watch him, however, you start to get used to the big guy in bike shorts, especially when you realize that Gagnon himself is way past being self-conscious.

"You know, I'm riding in spandex in Boston with these guys. Never thought I could do that [and] it's liberating in a way," Gagnon says. "It really [forces] you to be honest with yourself, accept who you are; because if you can't accept who you are, you can't do anything."

Before the race, Gagnon goes for a ride around the course with his lieutenant, Catalano, who gives him tips about how to ride it. Gagnon rides along on a custom-built titanium bike that is reinforced to hold his weight.

After checking out the course, he lines up in at the start in a crowd of 60 other racers, and after a few nervous, final moments the race is off.

The racers hurtle along dirt paths, and through soccer fields on bikes designed for racing on pavement. There are obstacles in the course like barriers that they have to jump over, or steep hills they run up with the bikes on their shoulders.

The slender, athletic racers are panting and working hard. For Gagnon, however, it's actually physically dangerous. He has angina, and his doctor told him not to let his heart rate get too high during the race, or he could end up in the hospital; something that has happened before.   Full article and audio here.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Does it Do Windows?

I came across this article on the dual purpose bicycle and while I find it pretty nifty technology it doesn't seem like it would be much fun to ride.  Perhaps even dangerous..."a circular saw"....  I'm trying to figure out where your right leg is supposed to be while pedaling the above bike.


A dual purpose bicycle (DPB) is a bicycle which can be used for both transportation and for power production. The modification consists of a free wheel, a bottom bracket and a “V” pulley. The DPB can power a rice thresher, a peanut sheller, a circular saw, a wooden lathe, a piston pump and many other implements that require rotary motion.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Just Ride Commercial

I'd never seen this little promo for Grant Petersen's, Just Ride.  Simple, respectful, and to the point which is just what you'd expect from Petersen in terms of marketing.  The emphasis on one style of riding "like your a kid" is great but certainly limiting.  I like all sorts of different kinds of riding.  Some need gear, some don't.  Is this just one more market niche?  I want more people hopping on bikes in street clothes for transportation...but I'm not sure expressing disdain for someone who also likes to tear it up on a Saturday group ride is the way to go about it.  The book is definitely worth a read though.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Art...and Not the Bicycle Kind.

Over the years my wife and I have picked up a bit of art here and there and recently we purchased a couple of new pieces.  As we were getting them mounted and framed it occurred to me that we have slowly amassed a nice little collection of art.  It certainly is something that I appreciate having in the space we have created for ourselves.  We have always strived to make sure our home is a peaceful and sheltered haven of sorts from the outside world.  Not that these pieces are necessarily soothing but they do feel like old friends at this point.  So, here is a sampling of our collection...forgive some of the photography.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Portland Design Works

I was pretty much done with the "put a bird on it" meme about two minutes after laughing at the Portlandia episode so I'm not going there.  There is kind of a reason humans are fascinated with birds.   I'm more interested in some pretty smart designs that Portland Design Works is offering for bicycles.  Most notably this quickly mounted fender set up.  I get for the rest of much of the world a full fender set up is ideal.  But when you live in the high desert with limited precipitation I just feel like there is not much point.  Plus, I've always preferred the look of a fenderless frame...it just seems more elegant and simple to my eye.  Years ago I think Grant Petersen had some quote some about the look of bikes naturally should be more slight, and bird-like, than the increasingly fat tube designs we have generally been seeing over the last few years.  That's a bit of fowl inspiration I can buy into.  Not sure if some of the current Riv designs really uphold that ideal.