Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bike Zion

People who have been reading this blog for awhile will know that I periodically head down to the St. George area to visit family, play on the family (Rabbit & Raven) farm, and do some biking.  The riding was cut short a bit by the less than wonderful wet conditions that left the red dirt a sludgy red clay that gummed up the Gunnar Crosshairs pretty good.  But the views were spectacular as usual and left me longing for spring break in April when the riding and temperatures should be a lot better.  Here is a gallery of pics from my Christmas day ride.

The black gate...I mean giant gate to Romneyland

No wonder it was so hard to pedal!

In the park...

Self portrait

Chainstays are not supposed to look like that!

The Trail of Mud...

A view of Zion

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bicycling and 3 Feet Laws

The best line in this piece out of San Antonio is..."we don't expect motorists to have a yard stick...we just ask them to give cyclists a wide berth, give them a break."  It seems to me that 3 feet laws for cyclists are mostly about the education of drivers in the same way that everyone at least knows that DUI is wrong.  That is because of a critical mass that occurred in the last few decades that underscored how unsafe it is to drive drunk.  Now it is just (mostly) understood that you shouldn't.  In the case of this police sting operation it just reminds people to take a little more care and look out for cyclists.  If you hit a cyclist, you have violated the law, but then it is likely too late for the cyclist.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Death Ride 2013 ... WTF!

I've been considering various cycling goals for the new year and...well...somewhat foolishly signed up for the 2013 Death Ride ten years after the last time I did it.  I remember a whole lot of century rides leading up to the event to get ready and an awful lot of suffering that day.  The five passes are magnificent but the name is not just hyperbole at this point.  The year I did it in 2002 a rider went down and was airlifted out only to die a week or so later in the hospital.  Not exactly confidence inspiring.

This time around I'm thinking my prep will be a little more low key.  Perhaps some longer spring rides and then a credit card tour along the Pacific Coast.  I'm not feeling any pressure to prove anything at this point in terms of time.  Anybody who finishes the Death Ride earns my respect.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Promoting "City Cycling" by John Pucher

John Pucher has been something of a hero of mine since I saw a video several years ago of him speaking at a conference.  So I was excited to see this new book from Pucher and Ralph Buehler laying out the arguments for a stronger cycling and pedestrian friendly infrastructure in our country.

Below is a good video of a typical talk given by Pucher on the merits of cycling and a mini review of the new book, City Cycling.

Cycling advocates pushing for better bicycling infrastructure on streets around the world are accustomed to meeting with skeptical audiences. They will find a lot of ammunition here, much of it gleaned from studies of nations such as Germany and the Netherlands, where cycling is a routine part of daily life. Divided into chapters on subjects such as health benefits, safety, bikesharing systems around the world, cycling for women, and cycling for kids, the book marshals an impressive and fascinating assortment of facts, figures, trends, charts, and diagrams.
For instance:
  • Biking could help you live longer, despite perceived safety risks. One study of cycling in the Netherlands found that people taking up biking as their primary travel mode "gained nine times more years of life than they lost as a result of increased inhaled air pollution and traffic injuries."
  • Women are more likely than men to express concern about the risk of cycling, although they may actually be at lower risk from injury.
  • Biking for transportation isn’t just for people who can’t afford to drive. "Cycling can thrive in countries with high levels of income and car ownership….[T]he bike share of daily trips is 26 percent in the Netherlands, 18 percent in Denmark, 10 percent in Germany, and 9 percent in Sweden and Finland, all of which are affluent countries."
  • Several studies show that young people who ride bikes to school have better cardiovascular fitness than those who don’t. Plus, kids like bikes. In one Australian survey, 81 percent of students said that cycling was their favorite method of getting to school.
  • Biking isn’t just for younger people. In the Netherlands, 23 percent of trips by people 65 and older are by bike. In the U.S., that number is less than 1 percent.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Carry a Gun on a Bicycle

Packing Heat on a Bike...if you don't mind some serious groin chafing
I'm not diving into the gun control debate in the wake of the shooting in Connecticut.  All the posts on Facebook and news "analysis" in the media has been revolting to say the least.  The bottom line for me is that the knee jerk reactions are far too simplistic and the problems of our world leading too a massacre like this are too complex to address in a glib status update.

I did have this story land in my email recently for some reason and I was struck by this paragraph:
Bicycling is a terrific way to stay in shape. Staying in shape is a terrific way to stay alive, both in terms of staving-off obesity-related conditions and having the strength and endurance to survive a gunfight. Both on and off your bike.
Presenting the world as if it is potentially your personal "Gunfight at the OK Corral" is one of the problems with the world today.   The article "helpfully" categorizes and addresses the firearm needs of recreational, commuter, road racer, and mountain bikers.  I'd laugh at this if it wasn't so sad.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winter Cycling

It can be done...and even without a lot of high tech gear (although that certainly makes it more pleasant for longer commutes).  Above, a nice shot from Hungarian Cycle Chic's series on winter cycling.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sharrows! Coming to a road near you?

I love the idea of sharrows and hope to see them around Reno in the near future.  Hand in hand with this new reminder of a cyclist's right to take the lane it would be nice to see some education regarding what they mean so that the uninitiated aren't confused by them.  They aren't bike lane markings after all.  They are a reminder to drivers to be mindful of cyclists and a great way to indicate a preferred route or side street that is particularly good for navigating through a city.  I know I appreciated seeing them around Portland, OR, on narrow side streets.

All of these "cartoons" came from BikeyFace and pretty succinctly illustrate the challenges of being a cyclist in the urban environment.  Check them out if you haven't already.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

A friend from Hungary sent me this teaser for a new film coming out soon.  A bit of urban riding in here but mostly just a fun little clip.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Urban Perspectives by Bike

This is a great gallery of photos capturing NYC by bike from photographer, Tom Olesnevich.  Crisp perspectives in the urban environment.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Louis Malle's, Vive Le Tour

I was searching through the Criterion Collection on Hulu Plus the other night and happened upon this short film from Malle, a director who's work I've adored over the years.  My Dinner With Andre and Au revoir, les enfants, are two of my favorite films.

I'd never realized he made a film about the Tour de France.  It's a great snapshot of French culture and as much about the people as it is about the actual race.  Love the bikes, love the faces!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

"Cycle Chic" Gets It Right

I've expressed my misgivings about the whole "cycle chic" movement before.  Most of my concerns center around: 
"the socioeconomic status continually represented on the site. I get that the movement is about fashion and looking good on bicycles being used as a utilitarian tool. It is called cycling “chic” after all. But the emphasis does seem to grossly misrepresent the reality of bicycle use around the planet. The subjects represented are almost exclusively young, beautiful, women. Nice to look at but when Cycle Chic starts claiming that they have done more for cycling since the inception of their blog than all of the bicycling advocates than you have to question whether they believe that 95% of cyclists are beautiful 20 something women."
But this newly released TED video is pretty spot on in its assessment of the problems with "traffic engineering" over the last 100 years or so.  More than that, the emphasis on people, not cars, and "desire lines," is to be lauded.  At one point Mikael Colville-Andersen says, "well-designed bicycle infrastructure will seduce us to use it."  I couldn't agree more.  He's not the greatest speaker I've seen on TED but every one of the 15 minutes are worth catching.