Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just a gentle reminder...

Several readers have commented on my post about no-hands riders on narrow, two-way bike paths. The commenters would rather ride on streets, sharing the streets with traffic, rather than use paths provided by our kindly city planners.

The idea is, correct me if I'm wrong, that the no-hands dude is on the bike path. My commenters are on Maple Street - where it's safe.

My feeling is that the no-hands dude's cousin - the guy who got him started on cheap beer and smokeless tobacco - is driving his sweet old GMC one-handed on Maple as I type. He's just caught his on-again, off-again honey text-messaging the counter guy at Advance Auto Parts. 

The cousin's boss said that if he clocks in late just once more, he's outta there. He's late now.

I'll wave at you guys from the bike path - keeping the other hand safely on my handlebar.

Monday, December 29, 2008


If you ride on narrow, two-way bike paths, please (no matter what hot s--t you think you are, put at least one hand on your handlebar. If you go to Bonneville and ride your old Nishiki on the Salt Flats, be my guest: ride no-hands. It's lonely out there. You will only have yourself to crash.

If your bike is too small or you are so stiff that you can't reach the bars or hold them for more than a moment, have someone walk in front of you waving a warning flag as you ride. You'll be amazed how the path empties in front of you. It'll be a calming experience for everyone on the path.

Have a safe New Year                                      Maynard

The Ferrous Brothers

Tamar and I pedaled to the Confluence, where the South Platte River and Cherry Creek meet, to the Starbucks in our big REI flagship store. We leaned our bikes against a window frame so we could see them from inside the store and went in to get our hot chocolates.

As we walked in, a guy in his forties in an REI apron stepped into our path. 

"How old is your bike," he asked. 

My bike was my Lighthouse, a bright pink road bike made for me by Tim Neenan in 1990. It's model name is Strada (Italian for road). It was designed as an homage to the Italian road bikes we rode and loved in the '70s and '80s. 

It was originally assembled with Campagnolo parts but the only remaining one is the headset. Otherwise, the bike is Shimano stuff, Ultegra or Dura-Ace.

There are little interesting touches here and there on the bike. The bottom bracket is a Cinelli, a design that came and went almost overnight. The shell has a sort-of fin or shelf underneath that the cables pass through. Tim got the lovely scalloped seat stay caps from Mario Confente. The fork crown is graceful - also Cinelli, if memory serves. Pretty bike.

I told the guy that the bike is eighteen years old. His response surprised me.

"Steel is real, my brother," he said.

I hesitated a heartbeat and said, "Whatever you think."

Tamar would have preferred that I be nicer. I didn't intend not to be nice; I just didn't know what else to say. 

When I bought that bike, custom bikes were made of steel. Mine is made of Columbus tubing, maybe SL or SLX or whatever tubeset was current in '90. It wasn't steel because I swore on my mother's health that I'd never ride a bike made from anything else. It was steel because steel allowed builders to construct made-to-order bikes. 

Steel was a frame material option, not a slogan or a fraternity recognition symbol. I am made uncomfortable by secret recognition symbols and especially the use of things we can merely buy as badges of our discriminating tastes. I wouldn't buy a Land Rover or a Harley-Davidson.

I understand that a few people do buy Land Rovers and Harleys because of what the machines DO, rather than what the machines say about them. I bought the Lighthouse, a process that took months, because of what it would do - not because it was a key to the Playboy Club or a cheap secret handshake.

There are all sorts of questions the guy at REI could have asked, and all sorts of comments he might have made. A person riding an 18-year old road bike has paid some dues, unless he or she bought it last week. You just know that or you sense it - and not because he or she is riding a so-called authentic bike. Is every Serotta rider Davis Phinney

If he or she has owned and ridden the bike all along, that person is part of a long tradition of road cyclists. He or she may remember five-speed blocks and 100% wool shorts and Robergel spokes and Techno Tubo Torino. He or she may remember Roger DeVlaeminck and Didi Thurau, the Coors Classic and the Road Worlds at Colorado Springs.

Is the most immediate bond that you can form with him or her your common preference for some frame material? If I am that guy's brother, it's not 'cause of what I'm riding. A bike rider's a bike rider - because of how he thinks and behaves, not because of what his bike's made of. 

I said, "Whatever you think," because I was embarrassed. 

Because of my sweet old Lighthouse, a guy I've never met assumes a huge commonality of experience and taste. And calls me brother. We're authentic, the Ferrous Brothers, at a moment of recognition in Starbucks. I'm still embarrassed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Compliments of my friend Corey....

Click on this link. It'll take you to a three minute film of guys skiing off vertical cliffs, then losing the skis and...you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Better to watch the film.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kings of Logistics, a slide show

Here's a link to a slide show, provided to my by my friend Corey. I feel that it's safe to say that you will hardly believe your eyes... Use the arrows at the top to go from page to page. If you tried this and it didn't work, please try again. I believe I've fixed it.

Heroes in knickers; villains in lycra

Sourced already excerpted from alternet, this piece looks at the new urban cycling culture and contrasts it (look near the bottom of page 3) with those lycra-clad, suburban sellouts on pricey lightweight bikes. Those vermin; why they're often seen on bikes with multiple gears. 

I agree with many of the points the writer makes, but why must such accepting, no-one-needs-to-win men and women nevertheless point accusing fingers at the traditional standard-bearers of cycling? Roadies WERE cycling - for 60 years. Buying an old bike part? Some roadie owned it first. Love cycling? Two years ago, when you couldn't spell COG, roadies kept cycling alive.

Reachin' out for inspiration to old Bakersfield roadie Merle Haggard:

If you're runnin' down road cyclists, man,
You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.

Pretty easy, I'd say, to find fault with folks with a different approach to the symbols you've chosen to represent you as you ride through life - opposite traffic on one-way streets. It's especially easy if you have no historical perspective, no long view, and no interest in acquiring it. Having limited knowledge facilitates feeling cocksure of your and your buddies' prejudices. Works for crackers...

UPS tries bicycles for deliveries!

Sure enough, UPS is trying bicycles (with trailers) in certain areas as delivery vehicles. The company has tried every alternative to their big brown vans, says the spokesperson, and could save big if the bicycles can do the job.

Here's the link to the NY Times Online piece: 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Remember the Hoy v Hamilton, bike v car race?

From cyclingnews.com:

Hoy versus Hamilton cancelled

The much anticipated man versus machine race between Chris Hoy and Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton was called off in the last minute due to bad weather. The rain had made the track in Wembley stadium in London too slippery for Hoy and his skinny cycling wheels. Hoy was race on a bike, while Hamilton would have been using a street car on a parallel track.

Hoy was driven to the start by Hamilton, where Hoy then announced the cancellation in person, according to theGuardian. "I've been advised it would be too dangerous on a bike, it's like black ice out there," Hoy said over the PA system. "It's a huge disappointment and it's a big shame, but I'm delighted to be here."

Hoy, who had voiced his displeasure at the surface earlier in the day, confirmed that the decision was mutual. "It was a joint decision, it was just too dangerous," he said. "It's a shame, but the conditions are just too treacherous. I think about an hour ago really they were doing all they could to get the track safe, but they couldn't and I would have been down at the first corner.

"There were a few accidents in the rain yesterday and there has been some oil spilt on the track as well, so I was advised not to compete," said Hoy. "I was really looking forward to it, and I know Lewis was too."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Bob Mionske column from VN...about pedaling road-ragers

Most of us are aware of the incident in Madison, WI, involving a bike shop owner and and two cyclists he encountered riding in the dark without lights. Mionske is an old personal friend of the shop owner. His column, as usual, casts welcome light (no humor intended) on the confrontation.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A rainy note from my old friend James...


It's good to get back to a place where cyclists aren't afraid of a little rain. I was in Portland a few nights ago and there were riders everywhere. It was raining softly, the sort of non-stop precip I remember from my lost youth. Every bike has got fenders. 

A kid named Gilligan came down from Portland about 1988 to race and work (for me) at Marina Cyclery. I got him doing the (Bike) Nook Ride every morning from the flagpole at the Golden Gate Bridge. One rainy morning he came into the shop on his bike and said, "Nobody showed up." 

I said, "That's 'cause Californians don't ride in the rain." 

Gilligan laughed like it was a joke and went home to get ready for work. The next morning the same thing happened.

"I told you, Californians don't ride in the rain," I said. 

"So what happens if there's a race and it's raining?" 

"No problem," says I. "You win!"

A few weeks later was the first race, the Cherry Pie Criterium. It was pouring rain. Gilligan blasted off from the start and after the first corner he looked back and saw that everyone was riding their brakes. So he took off and lapped the field.

Once I was riding on the bike trail in Marin, right by the seaplane base, and it was absolutely pouring. Rain running down my chin, my shoes squishing water out with every pedal stroke. Suddenly a fast young guy is alongside me. He looks sideways at me and says "Portland? Or Seattle?" 

I say, "I'm from Portland." 

He says, "Well I'm from Seattle!" and takes off.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Watch what you say...

Maybe 15 years ago when I lived in the SF East Bay, I heard about an incident on Pinehurst Road between two cyclists. 

A physician, an ER doc if the story is accurate, caught another rider on the way up the long climb. The doctor noted that the guy he was catching was not wearing a helmet, and (having seen lots of cyclists with head injuries) suggested to the fellow that he might think about wearing one.

The guy hit the doctor in the face, knocking him off his bike. The slugger kept pedaling, feeling (we suppose) that justice had been done. 

Here, from Madison WI, is more evidence that mere suggestion is, in the minds of some, sufficient provocation for violence:    http://www.wkowtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=9453608

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Well, really only FOUR days in the country...

I'm back a bit early from the meditation retreat. I'll tell you why in another post soon. In this post, I'd like to talk about my ride home from the retreat site.

Because I left early, I had to scratch for a ride. The retreat organizer arranged one, I'm pleased to say, but the journey did not promote the inner quiet the teachers had in mind.

I rode home with a young lady who had done these retreats before. She did her first one in Tibet, a 10-dayer, she said, and she's done several shorter retreats as refreshers since. 

We're not talking about an airhead here. We're talking about a young woman in her mid-twenties I'd say, of at least some seriousmindedness - interested (if not in spiritual pursuits) certainly in the examined life.

We hopped right into her late model, very dirty Volvo sedan. I was afraid almost immediately. 

She drove with her phone in her left hand and her instructions on how to reach the retreat site in her right, only dropping the instructions to fool with the radio or CD player. 

She lives in metro Denver not far from Tamar's and my place, but she had no idea where we live. East and west were unfamiliar terms. She knew streets near her home but was lost elsewhere. I offered to navigate. She turned me down. 

She seldom drove with both hands and full attention. More often she manipulated the phone, studied the instructions and changed radio stations or swapped CDs, concerned that she was choosing music that I'd enjoy. 

While she did those things, tasks that were clearly priorities, she did not or could not drive in a straight line. She would veer over the center line or cross the fog line onto the shoulder. Three times she jerked the wheel to center the car on the road, apologizing to me each time.

At one point she said: I guess I shouldn't get into an accident with you in the car, meaning me. 

When we reached I-25, she used the left-hand lane primarily, following too close and continuing to look at her phone or radio or CD player. Once or twice, traffic slowed in front of us; she did not notice until we were scarily close to rear-ending the car in front. 

I thought of myself on my bicycle or motorcycle, sharing the road with this woman and her like-minded contemporaries, overwhelmingly more intent on selecting the perfect CD than they are on their driving. 

They are not troubled by guilt or embarrassment because of their misplaced attention; they're driving just as they always drive - really badly, really dangerously. And they aren't even aware of it. That's the frightening part. They don't know any different.

Often in cars, I feel the inertia, the resistance of the huge vehicle to slow down or stop, especially on busy freeways or on narrow city streets. I suspect that the drivers are not attentive, not exercising due care. Their minds are elsewhere. 

But Tamar and I are not in cars often. We walk in the city and ride on the bike paths. We can forget, I'm happy to say, how common incompetence is behind the wheel. 

When we cyclists and motorcyclists remind one another to "take care," we may not hear the seriousness behind the phrase. We've got to take care; our neighbors couldn't care less.

Let's be cautious out there, huh?  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ten days in the country...

I am leaving tomorrow for a tiny town not far from Denver, where I will participate in a meditation retreat - in silence, for 10 days. I've never done anything like this, and I'm a bit apprehensive but I'm going for it - in the quietest way.

I'll be out of contact at the retreat: No phone, no computer. No pencil or paper.

If I have stories about the experience and it seems appropriate to tell them here on my blog page, I'll do that. If it were someone else's page and the writer made such an announcement, I'd be interested in his/her comments afterward. I'm having trouble imagining what I might have to tell you that wouldn't sound like a string of psychobabble cliches. 

I'll be home on the 30th, same old dude. I guess....

Chris Hoy vs Lewis Hamilton? For real...?

I read this Bike Radar piece through twice trying to make sense of it, trying to imagine how a guy on a bicycle, no matter how talented and fit, could lap a road-race course as fast as a Formula One car driven by a champion. Take a look. See what you think....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Twenty-five degrees for the Toy Run

It's almost eight. At nine, 200 scooterists will meet at our local Vespa (plus Triumph, Ducati etc) store to ride en mass to the Ronald McDonald House - bearing gifts. Nice for the kids, but sadly for the fingers and toes of the scooter riders, it's 25 out there. 

I remember doing the same ride last year but I don't recall the below-freezing temps. Maybe it was just as cold and I've forgotten: My memory focusing on the fun, not the discomfort.

Winter is upon us in Denver, snow yesterday morning and sub-freezing nights. Time to get out all the cycling and motorcycling winter stuff - the mittens, scarves and booties... 

This is a difficult time o' year for me, after decades in California and Arizona. I don't mind the cold so much, but when the roads and sidewalks get icy I grow fearful. Maybe the snow will melt within hours of falling, as we were told it would. I'll keep my fingers crossed inside my mittens.

My surgeon says I have lots of new bone on my femur. Healing well. I told him I was limping (walking like a penguin, says Tamar) so he gave me a new exercise to strengthen a muscle that had shrunk, I guess. Three months was all it took. My butt is half-size at this point, no kidding.

I've got to run, got to put on 23 layers of cold-weather motorcycling stuff. Because I know it's important to you, I promise to say hi to Ronald for each of you. I'd want you to do it for me...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A soulful, literate attorney cycle-commutes in Philly - from Orion Magazine

This is a sweet essay from Orion, a magazine I'd never heard of, but that I'm happy to have discovered. I'll bet you enjoy David Perlman's piece...  

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ride a bicycle? Wish you lived in Portland?

Here's more evidence that cycling is more popular than ever and showing no sign of losing its appeal in not-always-sunny Portland OR. It's just undeniable: Portland rocks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Is speeding okay? Is the other guy the problem?

Here's another link to a provocative NY Times piece. The comments are well worth reading...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bike Sharing in Europe - from the NY Times

Inexpensive bike-sharing in several European countries, according to this NY Times article, is not just successful - it's wildly successful. Why wouldn't it work here? Well...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is everybody happy? Rated R

These emails will look a mess; I've left them in as-sent form. GMail saves emails in "conversations," so these are in order as sent. 

Here's how I got on this list: I responded to a for-sale ad months ago from the guy from Cheyenne, P.C. He was short and surly in his email responses to my questions. I forgot about him - until Tue, Nov 4th, when his note went out to perhaps 100 addresses. 

Oh, I did not correct spelling or grammar in any of these notes. I did insert two asterisks (*).

Sent: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 11:27 pm
Subject: support
our country is in distress, our way of life is about to change, we have been a free people and live by a certain way of life, now we will be more than a minority, laughed at by the rest of the world.
Now I have nothing against other races, but I can profile a person very well. He's an ego maniac, a liar, a half breed muslim, doesn't like whites very much, very friendly with the terrorist side of the world-i could not care if the president was purple, this man is going to f**k us.
If you are one of those how voted and supported our new HAGI President, than shame on you and don't even bother write back with some stupid explanation of why. All I can say to you is --you better learn how to get on your knees and face east.
I will be flying our U.S. Flag upside down in protest against our newly elected president.
Stand up, be heard, for what you believe in  even if it is silent(a symbol) 
If this offends you,to bad 
Cheyenne   Wyoming Territory

   Sorry you feel so bad about our new legally elected president and can not support him and what this country was founded on. The Popular and Electoral votes have been counted and it seems as if the majority of the country is ready for a change. 
   I supported Pres. Bush even after he stole the election in 2000, losing the popular vote and some shady votes in Fla. (funny how his brother was governor) I supported an idiot as president who took this country from having a coalition of the willing to being on our own on the war against terrorism. I supported him when he said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and took our troops out of Afghanistan and directed them on a deadly never ending quest for the spreading of "democracy". But I supported him and my country. I supported him when my friends and coworkers in the reserves (yes military) were sent over there on his and his administrations need for "security". And watched when they came back wounded and disillusioned about the motives of the mission. These same members of the military who voted for McCain, but told me that if Obama wins they will support him BECAUSE his is the president of the USA.
   And now that we have a president elect. who wants to restore our dignity, our proper place in the world, I only hope that people will give him a chance. If we were wrong then we will vote him out.
   I am sorry P you feel this way, I thought better of you, and would have more respect for you if you would just say I don't like him because he is a nigger. If you at least said that I would have no argument yes he is an African American and that is based on fact, but your argument is based on exaggerated rumors and innuendoes. 
  P, I know we haven't seen each other in many years, but I believe that 4 years from now we will be safer and more secure, the nation will still be here. My God, your God, Allah or who ever is out there, will not have smitten me from this world and committed me to Hades to burn for eternity for having had hope in a change. If I am wrong well at least I felt that I was doing good on earth and I wouldn't want to be in "that" heaven any way.
  Maybe then we can talk again.
Peace J

From Mr S: I don't support him either.  I have no president at this time!

From j: But you are happy to make a living selling training on a commy rifle, kinda hypocritical no?

From S:  Hardly....freedom is freedom...even if it comes from a former member of the Spetznas teaching americans how to run rifles its govermment is afraid of.  Why am I even on this mailing list???

From j: One more thing Mr S, how many people named Abul, Achmed etc with cash in hand have you trained? Or do you only train US citizens with proper papers on the Kalashnikov, also known as the terorist woepon of choice. Let me show you my budies wounds

From S: First of all butt-breath, spell my name right. I don't teach anyone who wears diapers on their heads (or jackboots).  But while we are at it, at least I have more respect for them than I do the commie liberals that got Obama (excuse me while I spit) elected.  Now why don't you people simply eliminate me from this silly mailing list?? 

From G: Now, now people, stop the bickering.  I believe we live in a free country and are entitled to our own opinions and beliefs.  I usually don’t reply to such emails, however, this one irked me. 

J, have you ever participated in a war?  Have you ever been a POW?  Do you have children?  Any individual who has served in a war and has endured and survived the viciousness of being a POW, IN MY OPINION, has more integrity, respect, experience, character and honor to be a leader of MY COUNTRY.  You’ve “watched when they came back wounded and disillusioned”.  I have very vivid memories of the 60’s, the men who died unnecessarily for our country, those who returned in body bags.  I have two sons, one who will be turning 18 very shortly, and I say this with honesty and with all my heart - - I love my sons and my life with them more than ANY piece of land.  That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it! 

You say you supported Bush but yet you call him an idiot; please try to make a definite decision, one that you truly believe in; not just because you have to.  You do have the freedom of choice; we all have that privilege.  You rather base a decision on the “N” word than to just converse and compare opinions?  (When did it become politically correct to use the “N” word again?)  (I would much rather refer to him as a spoiled snot nose brat.)  Again, make up your mind.  Do you support the newly elected president, or not? 

Here’s another one of my opinions – these candidates raise a disgusting amount of money (70 million +) to campaign.  If just half of that money was given to the homeless, that person would have received my vote.  There should not be any campaigning allowed at all for any office; no brochures in the mail, no infomercials, no debates, no signage.  Instead, we the people, should be informed of who is running and, we the people, should research the candidates on our own and come to our own personal free choice based on the data and knowledge obtained (most of which is at our fingertips). 

You should be ashamed of yourself that you are unable to carry on a conversation (maybe even a heated one); it’s not an attractive character at all.  Friendships shouldn’t be in danger because of our privilege of freedom of speech.  Personally, I don’t give a shit who voted for whom but I certainly care that I still have the freedom NOT to support the elected. 

So stop the bickering, get a grip, live your life – it’s only an opinion.  In other words, it’s FREEDOM. Try a little harder to keep the peace,   G 


From Y: get me off this list. immediately

From C: Get me off this list immediately.

From N: Me too please.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not just cyclists: It's runners too!

Here's a link to a NY Times Online piece about friction between runners and their neighbors in cars. Set aside your skepticism. According to the Times, it's true: Drivers get angry at runners, especially if they've just hit one.

The article suggests that it's not entirely the fault of the drivers. An expert tells runners that a mindset shift may be in order. After all, even with a cool new president-elect promising change, we're probably not going to change driver behavior. We'll have to look elsewhere; perhaps, grasshopper, into ourselves.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I didn't realize...and maybe you don't...

When you post a comment to one of my blog postings, I get an email at my personal email address showing me what you've said. It does not reveal your email address, so I cannot write you personally. I can only post a comment below yours - or write a post like this one explaining why you have not heard from me.

My personal email address is    mhershon@gmail.com

If you've been posting comments on my blog site, please continue to do so. If you feel that I must not care about you or what you say because I have not responded, please reconsider. If you like, post the comment for all to read, and send it to me via the above address so I can write back. 

The two coolest things about doing this blog have been hearing from folks with whom I'd had no contact for decades - and reading comments from bright, thoughtful people, some known to me, others only cryptic cyber-names.

Thanks, all of you...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You probably think...

I'll bet you think - because I haven't posted a personal update for what seems like years - that very little is happening in my life. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Here's a list, pared to the bare essentials so it'd fit on the Internet:

1. I'm riding my bicycle. Four days now. I ride maybe three miles to the REI Flagship Store at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. I enjoy a Grande coffee and perhaps a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin. I gaze across the water and think profound, writerly thoughts. 

Yes, I'm riding, but oh am I weak and scared. Everything on the bike path that moves is a threat. I have not yet stood up to pedal and I have to use bottom gear to climb the ramp from the bike path up to the surface street. Luckily, the Olympics are four years away.

2. I have stepped out of the shower without sitting on the side of the tub and lifting my legs over. No kidding, stepped right out. Ten weeks and a day since I crashed. We athletes are fast healers, huh? 

3. I'm riding my motorcycle. I have to sorta climb onto and off of the seat, but once aboard I can ride and ride - slowly and tentatively. I have to come to stops carefully so that I can support the bike and me with my good foot. Watch me and you'd conclude that I've been riding for two or three weeks. Hey, gotta start somewhere...

4. I'm doing exercises to increase the range of motion in my left middle and ring fingers. Progress is so slow as to be almost unmeasurable at my occupational therapist's office. Femurs heal fast; fingers (on the other hand) do not. Was that "other hand" bit a cheap attempt at humor, or what?

5. The MotoGP season is over as of Sunday. Valentino Rossi is world champion again - as he certainly should be. Living in the age of Rossi if you are a motorcycle road racing fan is like living in the age of Eddy Merckx if you're a cycling nut. You are watching the best who ever lived. I missed the Merckx era but I'm no-way missing Rossi's career. 

6. I see my orthopedic surgeon early in November. I expect that he will free me from my crutch and I will be able to figure-skate every bit as well as I could before the crash. 

Maybe that's all the news. Pretty riveting stuff, huh? Check this site often for further exciting developments as your blogger resumes his life of passion, creativity, athleticism and afternoon naps. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wooden bicycles? Seriously? Seriously...

My pal David called from Seattle and mentioned that he'd driven to Portland a week or so ago to attend the hand-built bike show there. Not the national hand-built show, but a more local one showcasing the work of Oregon framebuilders and other crafters of cycling gear.

Before I had a chance to ask him what he'd seen that turned him on, he told me about Renovo Bikes. So I won't mislead you or try clumsily to make up your mind about wooden bicycles, click on this link, read the text and look at the galleries. See for yourself.

I feel sure that I'm one of those people who are too shy to ride a Renovo bike. Even my blue 'n' white Rivendell attracts more attention than I like. Doesn't mean I don't want a Renovo. Check out the site and the bikes. Then write a comment telling me you don't want one. Try to make me believe you...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Harshness explained: "just a joke..."

I've just heard from cyclotourist, who writes that the Angriest Pharmacist blogger has chided us for our misreading of his post (check out yesterday's link). It was "just a joke," the A.P. tells us, and suggests that we "get a sense of humor."

Cyclotourist did not find the A.P.'s post funny. Nor did I. Did you? I didn't think you would.

There must be a problem, huh? I don't think the problem is with cyclotourist's sense of humor. And mine works all right, I'd say.

The problem must lie elsewhere. Is there a pharmacist in the house?

You know, I gotta say: I've written stuff that just didn't come off, didn't work. I thought that any reader would take away from it just the feeling I intended when I wrote it. And many, many did not. Later I'd be baffled. How could folks misunderstand so thoroughly? 

So I'm going to try to cut the Angriest Pharmacist some slack here, not that he cares. If you will, cyclotourist, check in with the A.P. now and then and let us know: Whose perception lapsed here? Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This link is Rated H - for harsh

I just received this comment from cyclotourist in response to my recent post about my neighbor. The neighbor was upset and confrontational about cyclists on sidewalks, riding the wrong way on one-way streets, etc, etc. The link leads to a blog post full of hate and viciousness. The post is not easy to read if you're a cyclist. 

Where did people like this "Angriest Pharmacist" come from? Wherever that is, Thanks, Cyclotourist! 

From: cyclotourist 
Date: Tue, Oct 14, 2008 at 10:19 PM
Subject: [Maynard.net] New comment on My angry neighbor, part two.
To: mhershon@gmail.com

cyclotourist has left a new comment on your post "My angry neighbor, part two": 

Hey there Mr. H., here's another person planning on murdering cyclists: http://www.theangriestpharmacist.com/2008/10/13/share-the-road-piss-off/

He must have talked with your neighbor... 

Posted by cyclotourist to Maynard.net at October 14, 2008 10:19 PM

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A mystery and a surprise

Just in the last few days, I've received unexpected comments on my blog - comments not so much about what I'd written - but imparting information. Most of you surely know this, but I didn't know it until after I'd begun my blog: Comments are blind. I cannot respond to your comment as if you'd sent me a personal email.

I can add a comment below yours, but otherwise I am helpless to continue our contact. If you never look at that post again - and never see my comment-to-your-comment, you will think I didn't care about what you said or who you are. Not so.

First, just this morning I heard from a guy who emailed me after I described (in the Rivendell Reader) how I'd been scared off my bike in Tucson. I was straining at the leash to get out of that town. Rivendell Reader readers, 50 of them, wrote me with comments and suggestions. One of them, Don Weinshenker, wrote glowing reports about cycling in Minneapolis.

Now I hear from Don (in a comment) that he has moved here to Denver this year. Don, if you read this, send me a note at mhershon@gmail.com and let me know where you're living and when we can get together for a Welcome to Denver coffee. Thanks!

More mysteriously... In the early-mid '60s, I lived in Bloomington IN and worked in the motorcycle business for Fox's Cycle Sales, offering at that time BSA, Yamaha and BMW.

I'll waste a sentence to remind you that 1964 was a long time ago. Someone who has discovered my blog (and was a motorcyclist in Bloomington in those primitive days) has posted two comments, both provocative and revealing insider knowledge, both posted anonymously.

Please, Mr or Ms Anonymous, write me at the above email address and reveal your identity. Almost no one in my life now except my old boss Boyd Fox remembers those days. Be great to hear from you...

It's cold here in the Mile-High City. I have to wear tights and long sleeves when I ride the trainer out on our patio, even with no forward motion, no breeze.

You know, I feel that I appreciate my friends as much as most people do...maybe more than some. Get hurt, become not-so-mobile, and you rely on your friends more than you ever imagined you would.

A certain amount of helplessness repositions us in relation to your world. Might be good for us once in a great while.

I've given some thought to my levels of happiness and sadness during my hospitalization and recuperation. On balance, I don't think my average relative state of happiness has changed much. I don't know that I'd have believed that about myself. Remarkable, huh?

We're far more resiliant that we know, I'm delighted to say...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Not that you'll notice a difference...

I have cast off the chains of a slow, cranky computer. This is my first post written on my new, much faster PC. Tamar urged me to step up for a Mac, but certain aspects of making the change did not appeal.

And, I have a friend/computer tech who lives a block away; he sets up programs on your computer so he can clean it up and keep it healthy from his own desk. Great guy.

He helped me choose a new CPU and transfer my files to it. So far, so very good.

David Garbs is his name, and GruntPC is the company name: www.gruntpc.com

Those of you who read this because you like me (and generally agree with me) will be pleased to hear that I am making steady if unspectacular progress. I can walk around the house with ONE crutch! I no longer have to take an anti-coagulation pill each day; I'm mobile enough now so that blood will not pool in my legs and form clots, which may then rise to my lungs and hurt me.

I have acquired a Blackburn fluid trainer and installed my Rivendell bicycle on it. I'm riding it every day. I can't tell you how satisfying it is simply to pedal again. To reach out and grab the bars and drop your back down closer to the top tube. To begin to sweat in the sun that warms our patio, nine floors from the street.

I don't yet dream of riding down there, actually on that street, but the movements, the action of riding... wonderful.

My friend Brian and I have been following the comeback to road racing of 44 year-old Raul Alcala of Mexico, a star on the old 7-Eleven team. Sadly, Alcala fell yesterday on a descent and finished the stage (and his race) in a team car. Keep trying, Raul!

Back briefly to my recovery: My left middle finger, dislocated in the crash, is still swollen and not the lovely graceful digit it was. Sigh. I have now seen a hand surgeon, who told me that it is not damaged, only swollen and stiff, and it should respond to therapy. I'm seeing an occupational therapist who has given me a daily regimen of exercises.

I can grab a handlebar easily, but substitute a pencil and I cannot close my fist tightly enough to hold it.

I'll try to write further posts soon...on my whiz-bang new computer! Wheeeeee....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A note from my friend Donald

Here's the note:

Hi Maynard
You've probably already seen this, if not go here and click on the upper left box marked "Austin, Tx".  Don't close it when the credits start to roll, wait till the video stops.

Thursday morning


I heard from my doctor yesterday that I am able now to put 50-75% of my weight on my hurt leg. I still have to use crutches - for another four weeks - but I am able to walk much more normally between those crutches. I cannot dream of auditioning for the can-can line, not yet, but I am walking better. 

I am not riding but I am thinking about riding. I am acquiring a stationary trainer, a magnetic one, I believe, and will put a bike on it on our patio. I'm sure that pedaling will hasten my healing. I hope it will take down the remaining swelling in my leg: my left foot is still fat. I've only worn one pair of shoes this last seven weeks - my loosest pair.

I also put the battery back in my motorcycle after two weeks of trickle charging. I plan to haul a gauge and bicycle tire pump down to the garage to check the tires - a largely ceremonial act.

My x-rays looked good, the two doctors told me. I could see the two long screws holding my upper femur together and the single shorter screw anchoring the titanium rod not far above my knee. I can SEE them but not feel them. Still, SEEing them is a bit creepy.

I'm sorry that my thoughts do not seem to range widely. I don't get far away from our place and my cycling and motorcycling lives are on the shelf for the moment. Forgive me. I appreciate your continued support of my blog despite the narrow focus. 

More soon, I promise                                      Maynard

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday morning

Well... My computer is still ill, but once it's awake and has stretched and scratched and climbed out of bed, it works. It's working now, as you can see by the blog post I have successfully composed.

This morning, with no wide-eyed spectators present, I hoisted my own left leg over the side of our bath tub no-hands - from my position seated on a plastic stool. I heard the sound of distant trumpets heralding my triumph, but no one else heard or saw a thing. Lance won seven; Valentino just regained the World's Championship and broke lots of records, and I have lifted my leg over the side of our tub. Proud men all.

In a couple of days, I'll see my surgeon. He'll tell me if I can simply walk, or walk with a cane or walk with one crutch. If I can put some weight on my left leg, I believe I'll put my Bike Friday (because I can step through the frame to get on and off) on a stationary trainer and pedal low gears for a half hour or so each day. Pedal my way to health and vitality, I will...

Thanks to my physical therapist and the exercises she suggested, I can bend my leg and lift it from the floor. I can get around okay on my crutches. I feel sure that pedaling will help reduce the swelling in my left ankle and foot by promoting blood flow. That's the plan anyway.

If I had to fall off my bike and break my leg, I'm thankful that it happened when it did - in the first half of August, and not later. My daily walks have preserved my sanity. Had I crashed in the fall and been rehabilitated enough to get out on crutches just as the snow fell, I'd have been out of luck.

I'll write again after I've seen my doc. Thanks for reading these probably sleep-inducing reports; they seem like epic tales of One Man's Heroism and Humanity from where I sit. Hey, I got my leg over the side of the tub no-hands - this morning!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

From The Economist (UK): an unforgettable obit for an unstoppable cyclist

Here, thanks to my old Tucson friend Jay, is a wonderfully written obituary of the most traveled cyclist ever, Ian Hibell. Nothing I might say would add to what you'll read...

Be sure to click on View All Comments at the end of the piece.

The 24 Hours of LeMons - not a misprint

Here, from today's NY Times, is a fun piece about real car racing in real cars. Even if you don't much care for cars, I believe this'll charm you...and may make you look at old Fieros in a new way...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gmail; a lament

I'm sorry for the gap in posts. I've been struggling with my computer. Gmail crashes in seconds, taking (first) Firefox with it and now Internet Explorer. I have wasted hours in running anti-bug programs and scans, uninstalling one protection-racket program and downloading another. All to no avail. My email will be shunted to Comcast Webmail, which has not yet crashed. But I cannot export/import my address book, so emailing out is problematical.

But my leg! My leg is getting better! Why, the swelling is down so much that I have a visible ankle - a bony area separating my lower leg from my foot. No kidding! I'm walking a good bit every day on my crutches in lovely early fall Denver weather; I'm doing my physical therapy exercises....and getting better.

I see my surgeon on October 1st. It is my hope that he will allow me to begin to put some weight on my left leg - so that I can ride a bicycle on a trainer (in low gears) and walk with a cane instead of my crutches. The crutches have been helpful but they are not lovable. I am thankful for them, but they are as unlovable as your anti-virus programs. Almost.

I'm glad that the crash happened in August and not a couple of months later. Had I fallen in October, in December I'd be wanting to get outside for walks but the sidewalks would be icy. I don't know what I'd do. Get a ride to an indoor mall and walk around it?

I have been thinking about riding my motorcycle once I'm better but I have not been imagining riding my bicycle. I think about cycling, if I'm explaining myself accurately, but not much about my own riding.

The costs of that crash is hard to calculate in terms I can communicate to you. In terms of pain and inconvenience and time lost and strain on Tamar's and my relationship... In fearfulness and self-absorption.

I'm confident that I'll get past all this; Tamar and I will remember this as a nightmare that will fade in time. Perhaps we will forget the price we paid for my not seeing that goddamn sand.

I am happy to see the return to top-level cycling of Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso and Lance Armstrong. Racing will be more entertaining with those guys around. Wishing that they could just blend back into the peleton is silly, but Lance's return (to Astana) will certainly muddy the waters there.

If you were Johan Bruneel, would you rather have a superstar fan- and sponsor-magnet whose further Tour-winning abilities are unproven - or an ordinary winner of three grand tours who is merely a wonderful bike racer? Merely a winner?

Friday, September 19, 2008

From today's VeloNews online - reader letters re road rage

Here you'll find a number of letters from cyclists across the US in response to Bob Mionske's articles focusing on legal and motivational aspects of road rage. All the letters are interesting; a few are profound. See for yourself...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Indy, the MotoGP, the journey, the scene....

Here's a terrific piece from SuperbikePlanet.com, my favorite motorcycle racing site. As you'll recall, Tamar and I and our friend Corey were there - in the weather, in the amazing Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in the crowds of genuine fans of top-level motorcycle racing.

Tamar and I aren't big Dan Hicks fans, but everything else in this piece rings solid true...

Indy Recap--Deer Don't Like Dan's Hot Licks
by jim mcdermott
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Heading home thru Virginia, dinosaurs first combusting then puffing thru the twin exhausts of my bike, it was easy to let my mind wander back to a great weekend in Indianapolis. I had the cruise set to 75, it was late and used up stormheads were backlit by a huge moon. Obscured light shimmered behind the clouds, a black mother-of-pearl glow that lit the prehistorically dark hills shouldering the highway. Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks crooned "Waiting For The 103" over the stereo, a newfound musical discovery (for me) whose eclectic sound always elicits a strong response from first time listeners, either love or hate.

Like most people, I didn't really know what to expect from the first MotoGP held at Indy; the setting was never going to be as picturesque as Laguna Seca; no crashing waves, wet seals or dry lakebed. And of course, no Corkscrew. I always watched the Indy 500 when I was a kid, on ABC's tan-sportscoated Wide World Of Sports, when the race was huge and AJ Foyt owned it. Other than a few dim 70's memories of teeming grandstands on Memorial Day, Indianapolis Motor Speedway was just a name to me.

I arrived in time for first practice on Saturday. Unlike most racing circuits which are set back from main roads to help contain noise and provide parking, Indy is literally right on the street. On Georgetown Road, a hulking gray line of grandstands hang over the curb, like WWII aircraft carriers sitting in dry dock. Across the street, residents offer parking on the lawns of their small cottages, $10 on Friday, $20 on Saturday, $50 on Sunday. Some provided camping for the wet dogs who rode their bikes to the races. From gaudy trailer stands, carnies hawk hot nuts, knockoff event shirts, and send fresh marks scavenging for left-handed screwdrivers. A traffic cop thrusts a hand out to oncoming traffic, wiggles his fingers and hustles you towards the Speedway entrance. You descend just underneath the track to get inside the circuit; during practice, the MotoGP bikes roar onto the front straight, directly overhead.

Once inside, you notice the high wire fences, which jut out over the tarmac in front of the grandstands. In a high speed shunt, they'd stop a car from flying into the crowd, preventing the kind of tragedy that killed 80 spectators at the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hour race. The arms which hold the wires have been discolored by rusty decades, in fact oxidation is evident on many of the metal surfaces at the track. This is not to say that Indy is falling apart; more that it is aging majestically, like an original, unrestored Iver Johnson motorcycle. There is history in every beam here, every rivet, a presence which no other American racing facility possesses. I've felt this at Monza in Italy......Imola too. It is imbued into such places thru epic victories, heartbreaking loss and profound tragedy. If you take care to listen, the echoes of the countless millions who cheered in these seats over 100 years can still be heard, on the edge of the wind, once the motors are quiet. The wonderful Speedway museum features Indy racers from 1911 thru today, and a trove of racing ephemera, including legendary Mercedes F1 driver Rudi Caracciola's entire trophy collection.

The stuttering report of MotoGP bikes, idling down pitlane on their speed limiters, snapped me back to 2008. The track was soaked, but riders still shot down the narrow front straight at close to 200 miles an hour thru the spray. The weather made for drama all weekend, rumors of an early race, a delayed start, a cancelled event, but Sunday afternoon came around and they rolled onto the grid. The wind picked up and made the rain hurt your face. I rolled up my jean cuffs, put on a ten dollar Indy rain parka/trash-bag with logos, and headed to the Turn 9 Grandstands for the start. Within a couple of laps, it was clear that Hayden and Rossi must have had a bigger bowl of Wheaties that morning, as neither, especially Hayden, were displaying any real concern for the awful track conditions. The rest of the field seemed quite spooked, and most looked as though they were running a tiptoe pace in comparison. Of course, Hayden's riding style is the most visually dramatic in MotoGP, sliding the RC212V thru the corners, getting out of shape and catching it without backing off. It will be a treat to see him manhandle the Ducati next year. As the laps counted down, almost inevitably, Rossi caught Hayden and won it, riding the Yamaha with finesse, control and visible genius. These two guys were in a different race than everybody else out there.

Ben Spies certainly impressed with his 6th place finish, besting many experienced riders on equal or better machinery. Earlier in the year, I thought Spies' next stop should be World Superbike, but I was very wrong. He seems to have more fire in his belly than half the guys riding in MotoGP. He didn't boast or make predictions, he kept it on two wheels and wasn't satisfied to row around in 16th place. It will be a real drag if Ben doesn't end up in the Blue Riband class for 2009.

Downtown, the place to be on Friday and Saturday was South Meridian Street, the streets closed off for bike-only parking. The crowd was similar in size to Monterey's Cannery Row during the Laguna Seca race weekend, but there were a lot more cruisers, less European bikes, even chunky girls in sweatpants riding stretched Hayabusas. And it was much rowdier - despite a road sign which flashed "Ride Proud, Not LOUD", open-piped machines rorted up and down the streets, mere feet away from the local constabulary, who didn't seem to be that bothered by the ruckus. Speaking of the streets, they were renamed after riders for the weekend, so you'd look up and see Freddie Spencer or James Toseland's name on a signpost above you. Banners advertising the GP were ubiquitous, posters in every restaurant, even the menus had the Red Bull/Indy MotoGP logo imprinted on them. This is the way races are promoted in Italy and Spain, not America....I've attended four MotoGP races at Laguna, and while they do a superb job making the event visible, this was at an altogether higher level. I stayed at The Hampton Inn, which gave each guest a laser engraved paperweight commemorating the inaugural race. Thankfully, they didn't pay for it by quadrupling their room rates.

So would I go again next year? Absolutely. Indianapolis has a totally different vibe, blues bars and ribs versus Monterey's karaoke and crab legs. Wives and girlfriends will of course prefer California, Indy being perhaps more of a man's man, pure motorhead event. The weekend was damned good fun, with nonstop weather drama- I gave BBC commentator Charlie Cox a frantic, windswept ride to the airport on the back of the Harley. Balancing a pillion on wet streets was a bit nerve wracking (must NOT dump the frakking broadcaster), but Coxie made his flight just in time. I left Indy Monday morning with a 600 mile ride in front of me, praying for dry weather. I got my wish, but I still has some drama to get thru.

Eastbound at midnight on I-64, Virginia is a deer's world, and I was just riding in it. Singing along with the CD player, no vehicles near me for miles, I almost didn't see the animal as it took tentative steps onto the highway. My headlight caught a quick glint of nocturnal eyes and I got on the brakes, hard. The bike sat down on it's suspension, slowing fast, but still headed towards the flank of the deer, as the front tire howled loudly over the music. Startled, the doe did a quick double take, then bounced back into the woods. I passed by at a walking speed, heart pounding, awfully glad for the rubber squeal which frightened the animal out of my path.

On second thought, it was probably the Dan Hicks tune that scared her off. I'm pretty sure the deer was a first time listener.


A letter from Beth...

Here in its entirety is a letter I received from my friend Beth Hamon in Portland. The letter is well worth reading, the thoughts are bright and valid and her sites are fun and unusual.

Two years ago, as Tamar and I were preparing to escape Tucson, someone broke into my tool shed and took my toolbox - and its 15- or 20-year accumulation of tools. Broke my heart.

I whined about the incident in my column in The Bicycle Paper, the Pacific NW free cycling monthly. Beth read the piece and sent me an assortment of bicycle tools, extras she'd accumulated in her years as a bike mechanic and cyclist. Beth Hamon is the real thing.

Here's the note:

Dear friends -- I almost NEVER send out public service announcements like this one. In fact, I think this may be a first, or only a second, I dunno.

If you drive to work, your gasoline and a significant portion of the costs of maintaining the roads are subsidized by the government and/or the automotive and petroleum industries. If Americans paid the true cost of owning and driving a car every day, most would end up broke and/or unable to afford to drive.

If, like me, you ride to work, you bear ALL of the costs of purchasing, maintaining and storing your bicycle. On top of that you may also get grief from co-workers and employers who frown on your sweaty arrival at work each day, and who sneer at your requests for more secure bicycle parking.

But I digress.

A tax credit for those who cycle to work daily wouldn't amount to very much money, especially when compared to the zillions in subsidies that car drivers currently experience; and because adults who ride bikes for basic transportation are still greatly outnumbered by folks who drive cars every day.

Earl Blumenauer (D - Oregon) would like to see bicycle commuters get a "thank you" for helping out the planet by getting a little tax relief. If you want to find out more, read here:


...and if you think you'd like to get behind this (by contacting your elected officials), read here for more info:


(End of my public service announcement. I promise there won't be another for at least a year or more. If getting this really bothers you tell me and I will not include you in future PSA's.)



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thanks, Jay! Robotic bicycle parking in Tokyo

Thanks to my old Tucson friend Jay, here's a link to a video (preceded by a watchable ad, can you believe it?) about convenient, automated bike parking in Tokyo. Less than $20/month, and....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From BikeRadar.com - safety in numbers

Here's a link to an article in BikeRadar.com, a fine multi-focused cycling site. According to this piece, research in New South Wales (Australia) indicates that more pedalers on the streets means each pedaler is safer.

Tamar and I are back from a four-day trip to Indianapolis to visit my family and to spectate at motorcycle races on Saturday night and Sunday.

If you have never passed through an airport or the gigantic Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a handicapped person, I can assure you it is an eye-opening experience. There are dozens of people in the airports whose job it is to assist folks who need help.

And at the Speedway? If you've wondered what it's like for the Stones to arrive via limo to an arena show... That's what it was like.

All in stark contrast to trying to negotiate your neighborhood sidewalks in your wheelchair. Those sidewalks are an obstacle course - often nearly impossible to use. But in the airports? And at the Brickyard? Wonderful.

Terrific as it was, I would not suggest breaking a bone to experience that luxury. Just take my word for it.

I'll try to post a photo or two of the race on Sunday, held in awful, hostile weather. And maybe one of Tamar and me with my family, huddled under an awning during the lapse between the shortened 125cc GP race, the cancelled 250cc GP race and the shortened MotoGP.

Monday, September 8, 2008

From today's NY Times: Why are we building 100mph cars in a 30mph nation?

In some states, alcohol and speeding are nearly equal in their disastrous results on the streets and highways. In other states, speeding is seemingly "not a problem." But as we know, speeding is a problem; not much is done about it.

This piece, No Need for Speed, suggests that building 300hp cars, trucks and SUVs for roads limited to 75mph may be (uh...) counterproductive.

More progress: imagine the excitement

Last night, after a month of sleeping on my back, I discovered that I am again able to roll onto my sides, either side, without serious discomfort.

Soon, said the blooger as he knocked on the compressed sawdust of his $40 American Furniture Warehouse desk, I'll be able to sleep as I always have. Tamar will be able to return to what we call "our" bed.

Think of it. Well, don't, but imagine me thinking of it.

I walked with the crutches again yesterday, maybe almost a half-mile. The rubber pads at the tops of the crutches chafe my rib cage on both sides, just below my armpits. I'm sharing this intimate detail with you because I know you care. You do care, right?

My hands get tired from the crutch handles, which as I did not know, support your weight as you move from place to place at dizzying speeds. While I am speeding down the sidewalks and across the ped-Xings, I am afraid of everything: passersby, dogs, traffic, uneven sidewalk slabs, sandy patches...

Every short walk is an adventure.

My left leg is still swollen but you can see a knee there. My left foot is fat, fat. My physical therapist says the swelling will remain until I can walk on the leg. It's the last to go, she says.

Thanks to a phone alert from my friend Aaron in Boulder, I watched the last miles of the US Pro Cycling Championships from Greenville, SC, yesterday. Tyler Hamilton won. I like and admire Tyler, who has probably strayed from what we'll call the Straight and Narrow and paid the price. He's back, entitled to race, and he's still the prince-of-a-guy he's always been. Bravo, Tyler!

During that race, one of the guys in the break crashed suddenly for no apparent reason. Perhaps he rolled a glued-on tubular tire off his rim. I couldn't watch the result. Too real. Too close.

I also watched the Superbike races (motorcycle road races) from Donington in England. The track was drenched by heavy rains all through practice and qualifying; many riders fell, one guy (a great rider) six times.

During the event, a racer's engine blew. The exhaust spewed oil mist all the way around the track. Lots of guys fell off on that oil. I had to look away from the screen.

I've never liked watching crashes but I just can't do it now. When I fell, I wasn't going 28mph like the poor guy who fell at the Pro Championships - or 80mph like the guys who fell at Donington. I hope the cyclist jumped right back up, sore but uninjured. The Superbike riders wear armor and leather; the slickness of the track and its design mitigate against serious injury.

You don't have to look deep between the lines here to realize that I'm good-'n'-spooked. When I ride in a car in city traffic I feel I'm in Hyperspace with Han and Chewbaca.

Just human nature, right? I'll get over it soon enough, right? If you have been in this fearful state of mind, please contribute a comment or send me an email. Your blogger, never brave, hates to feel he's the scared-iest cat ever...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Progress: the miracle of crutches

A few days ago, my buddy Denny and Tamar got me a pair of crutches. The first pair did not fit (too long) so Denny exchanged hem for shorter ones. I've been trying to learn how to get around on them. I guess I never thought much technique was involved but I was wrong. Takes a few tries to feel comfortable on the things.

But I'm doing better now, having figured out how far apart to plant the tips and how far in front of me to swing them and...some other stuff that's equally or even more boring if you aren't hurt.

This morning, Tamar and I walked the five short blocks (Denver city blocks are indeed short, not nearly a tenth of a mile) to a coffee place. The day was perfect and I didn't even nearly fall down, not on the way there or on the way back.

That little walk gave me a glimpse of the legendary light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. I can imagine that eventually, weeks from now but not forever from now, I'm going to be okay.

My left middle finger will need some help, perhaps a small surgery to correct cartilage damage it sustained when I rudely dislocated it. But I can walk about half as fast as I can normally. It feels fast to me. It is way faster than I could go behind the walker.

I've heard via email and phone from friends, many of whom have related accident stories of their own or about their own friends. Maybe it's true: Maybe a bit of misery loves a bit of company.

As I walk now with my crutches, guys walking with canes, guys in wheelchairs and guys on their own crutches always say hi and often pass along a few encouraging words. There's an invisible fraternity of hurt folks that's been invisible to me. I see it now.

My time in the trauma hospital and in convalescing has been eye-opening indeed. Much of it has been nothing at all like real life. If you know someone who's been hurt and had to depend on the kindness of white- and green-clad strangers, ask them if it wasn't a series of small but poignant epiphanies.

I would not re-break a femur to re-experience the epiphanies, but maybe they're the silver lining that reputedly lurks behind even the darkest cloud.

Oh, Steve Braun of Tucson AZ: Comments to posts on my blog are blind. They cannot be responded to. Your email address has changed as I discovered when the fine note I sent you was returned. Write me at mhershon@gmail.com so I can re-send it. Hope you're doing great, Steve!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A boring report of slow progress - and a really exciting link

First, I get a tiny bit better each day. I can take a shower unassisted, meaning I can get my hurt leg over the side of the tub and slide my bottom over onto a plastic chair in the tub, then use a hand-held, Euro-style shower head and get clean. It's a thrill - to me.

I'm getting range-of-motion back in my knee and my hand, but it's slow. My therapists do a house call or two a week. I do my exercises and watch more CNN than is good for me. I'm Wolf'd half to death.

As this is written, the Republican Nat'l Convention is happening in the Twin Cities. My nephew Nick lives there but sent me this marvelous link to the web site of a Denver-based bicycle racing team, Garmin-Chipotle. I live here but I'd have missed this. Thanks, Nick!

Last week as you'll recall, the Democratic Nat'l Convention brought those shady tax-'n'-spend lefties to Denver. Jonathan Vaughters, prime mover of the Garmin-Chipotle team, our American team based here in the Mile-High City, had a chance to ride with one of the Democrat heavies.

He's 65, he fits into racer-cut medium jersey and shorts, he can ride a bike set up for a pro, and I'm proud to say I voted for him. Maybe he really won in '04. Both presidential candidates ride bikes. Maybe they should have sprinted it out, one on one, after 50 rolling miles...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cycle commuting around the world

Sent to me by my friend Donald in Mexico City, this Washington Post piece looks at where in the world people ride and why. Turns out that a few not-so expensive bikeway improvements can get people out of their cars...but not everywhere....

Please watch this slide show

Here, in a presentation from today's NY Times, you see a slide show and hear a guy who has seen it all describing a thing he cannot believe he's seen: a long stretch of Park Avenue closed to motor traffic just one day a year - Park Avenue teeming with equally delighted cyclists, peds, wheelchairs, folks walking their pets, guys on stilts...

It'll warm your heart; I guarantee it. Tamar found this. She's tired from working and taking care of me. I'm tired from the effort involved in most any action. We both felt re-energized after watching this slide show.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bob Mionske's VN road rage overview

Here's a link to a well researched, well presented piece in today's VeloNews Online. Bob Mionske, VN's legal columnist, talks about motorists and other road users, about our perceptions of one another and the roots of road rage.

We all recognize this phenomenon and have vaguely shaped hunches about it. I believe that reading Mionske's piece will enlighten us and go some distance to explaining why....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Weds morning at home

No appointments today: no physical therapist visit, no trip to a hospital for a blood draw or a followup doctor exam. Even if the appointment only takes an hour, door to door, it sucks up my energy and I fail to post a report on my blog.

Each day, I get a tiny bit better. Now by myself I can get my left leg down from our high bed so that my foot is on the floor. I can get my leg into and back out of the bathtub much more easily.

Small victories.

I have leg exercises and hand exercises. I do them as directed and sometimes I can sense that my fingers and leg are gaining strength and range of movement. Yesterday, I took the wheelchair down the elevator to the lobby to get Tamar's and my mail. I'd never noticed how quickly the elevator doors want to close as you try to get on.

Since I began putting these updates on my blog site, I've received comments from many of you that have cheered me and even sent thrills down my spine.

Over the years, as you'd imagine, I've met dozens or hundreds of cyclists and motorcyclists. I never feel that I am the guy (in person) that my readers would like me to be - that I fail somehow through preoccupation with myself or inability to get into the minute so I can listen to others with full focus, with all my attention.

At the computer, it's easier to be the guy you want to be, the even-handed, thoughtful friend.

When I get wonderful, supportive comments as I have this last week, I am encouraged. I think: Maybe you weren't such a disappointment after all - or not always. Thank you.

I figure that most of my (blog) readers also read Dave Moulton's posts. Since I became aware of his site, I have read him faithfully. As you surely know, Dave insists that he's pulling the plug: He's done posting to his blog. I hope Dave is not as set in this as he sounds.

I can get to my computer more easily now via walker and wheelchair. But if when I get there there are no new Dave Moulton comments to read and ponder... Come back, Dave... Come back.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bad dudes; cute puppies and kitties

Here, from today's NY Times, is a piece about a buncha badass guys you would not invite to dinner - and their organized soft-heartedness toward at-risk pets. Please watch the slide show.

I'm walking behind the walker, doing laps of our floor here in the building. I'm doing the exercises suggested by my physical therapist. I get a tiny bit more mobile each day. Thanks as always for your kind thoughts.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

At the hospital

The super-nice EMTs put me on a sling and then onto a gurney. They carried me up the ramp off the bike path to the road. One of the guys told me they'd take my bike to Firehouse 22. I tried to commit the number to memory but I didn't care much about seeing the bike again anytime soon.

When I did see it again, maybe Thursday of the following week, it looked fine. I think the EMTs, several of whom were riders, knocked an STI lever back into place. Otherwise, I took the punishment, not my bike.

Repair to the bike: $10 for handlebar tape. Repair to me: As yet untold thousands. Thank God for Medicare and the Veteran's Administration.

The EMT put an IV in me and cut off my socks, shorts and jersey. I got my helmet and Oakleys off. Everything went in a bag for safekeeping at the hospital. Maybe at that point they started giving me painkillers. I don't remember our arrival at the ER...or not clearly.

Tamar called while I was in the ambulance. She had not listened to my voice mail message so when I said, "I'm in an ambulance; I've broken my leg," that was the first she'd heard. She said she'd see me at the hospital.

I passed through the ER, the pre-op room, the operating room and the post-op room before being deposited in my own room, my home for the next eight days. From that day, I remember the ER and perhaps the pre-op room. That's all.

In the ambulance, fearing that the pain in my leg was so severe that I would not notice pain around my head or neck, the EMT put a collar around my neck. He also put an oxygen mask on my face. Wearing the two devices, I could not turn my head much. Flat on the gurney, I could only see ceilings, a square of stainless steel in the ambulance or acoustic tile in the hospital.

In the ER, maybe a dozen or 15 people worked on me. I could see no one's face. All that activity, and I wouldn't recognize more than one or two individuals today. On the way from one room to the next, perhaps to the operating room, as I rode on the gurney the walls of what seemed to be round hallways rolled around me.

When given the choice, Tamar and I opted for the complete anesthetic. I could have stayed somewhat conscious for the surgery, but we decided against it, I'm happy to say.

The drugs make you accepting and warm. Hey, whatever. As the days passed in the hospital, I tried to minimize my use of the painkillers. I was stupid. I quickly got afraid of the pain that I was making sure I'd feel. Gosh, I was hurt badly. The pain and my fear of it slowed my healing, I'm sure. If I had it to do over again...

More soon. Thanks for walking along next to my gurney....

Friday, August 22, 2008

The first day...

I'd ridden out the Cherry Creek path and around the Cherry Creek Reservoir or Lake or Park or whatever it's called. Nice ride. I was more than halfway back to central Denver. If I haven't told you, I was approaching the overpass at Quebec Street where it crosses the bike trail.

We'd had a powerful rainstorm a few days previously. The rain had washed rocks and gravel onto the streets and bike paths, and it had left patches of pretty deep sand on the low-lying paths, which run alongside creeks and the South Platte River. I've seen city employees scraping the paths now and then, but no one had scraped since the storm.

I hit the sand. I'd had a flat front tire and pumped up the new tube as well as I could with my mini pump. I have to say, dear reader, I regret depending on a mini pump. Maybe I got 50psi into my 100psi tire, surely not much more.

I don't know what made the bike go out of control. The soft, broad tire? The small diameter of my folding-bike's wheel? Some control input of my own? I'm not being coy; I've thought about it and thought about it, and I don't know why the hell I crashed.

I swerved toward the opposite, on-coming side of the path. I saw to my horror that on the shoulder, someone had cemented in place large decorative rocks, low near the path and more prominent further up the mild slope. I thought, oh lord, don't let me fall on those rocks.

But I did fall on the lowest tier of rocks. On my left side. I knew I was hurt but I didn't immediately have bigtime pain. I could see that my left middle finger was ugly dislocated or broken, and that my left leg was lying strangely, unnaturally in front of me.

I had a good right arm and hand. I found my cell phone in my center jersey pocket and called 9-1-1. While I spoke with the 9-1-1 operator, I realized that I did not know the name of the overpassing street. A pair of cyclists asked me if I needed help; I asked the guy to see if he could see a street sign at the other end of the overpass. It's Quebec, he yelled back, and that's what I told the operator.

Within three minutes, I saw a group of uniformed EMTs walking under Quebec Street down the bike path toward me. I want you to try to imagine how I felt, broken and sad and helpless there on the rocks, as I saw the guys coming - like the cavalry in the old westerns that saves the little frontier community. It's 12 days now, I guess, and I still feel the same sense of gratitude and warmth and relief.

More in the next post. I'm getting tired.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Home again

As a few of you may know, I feel off my bicycle a week ago yesterday and broke my left femur, the big bone in one's thigh. I'm typing slowly because I also dislocated my left middle finger. I'm glad to be home after eight days in Denver Health, a super good trauma hospital only a mile from our place.

I tire really easily at this point after some major surgery and trying to relearn how to do most everything. I'll write a series of posts about the crash and the subsequent EMT and ambulance experience, the ER, pre-op and hospital room, and my thoughts on getting hurt so badly in a single vehicle, bike path, not especially fast or demanding riding situation.

I didn't get run over. I didn't get hit by a bike path trainer-terrorist. I did it all myself.

This is no-doubt the worst injury I've sustained in a lifetime of moderate risk. My left leg is non-weight bearing for seven more weeks. I get around behind a walker or in a wheelchair.

Look for further posts as the energy and focus come to me. I had lots of visitors in the hospital and Tamar stayed in email contact with many of you. Thank you for thinking of me in what was most definitely my hour of need...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another car wars piece, this time from the NY Times

This is a fair-handed article about the strife in the streets of our cities and suburbs. It's three well written pages of commentary, quoting cyclists, peds and drivers. Everyone's angry, it seems...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A certain kinda guy...

Well into adulthood, I became aware that there's a kind of guy, not rare by any means, who is convinced that without his input, the world is a poorer place indeed. He hates silence and wants desperately to fill moments of quiet with his knowledge, opinions and feelings.

He doesn't want to be Joe Dude. He wants to be an authority, the last-word-dispensing, go-to guy in every area of life. Give him an opportunity; he'll prove it to you.

He hasn't bothered to acquire accurate knowledge, enlightened opinions or informed feelings. Impressing people with his inexhaustible storehouse of information is more important than the validity thereof or how welcome it is to the recipients.

The expressing is the thing, not what's expressed. He often seems to be saying things simply to be talking - loving the sound of his own voice. That's precisely what he is doing.

He'd rather be wrong than be silent. Silence never impressed anyone, right?

Women know all about these guys. Some women even marry them, knowing all along that their husband is all-too-often speaking without knowing whereof he speaks. Maybe they think all men are like that. Too damn many are.

Which brings me to my subject: internet forums - havens for the very sort of guy we're talking about here. Thousands of anonymous, ill-informed "experts" and a few genuinely smart guys.

What better place to bestow upon the world the gift of your ideas? If they are half-baked and riddled with inaccuracy, well, they're your ideas and should be as respected as the next poster's. And typically they are, because the next poster is a moron too.

No doubt one can find good information on internet owners forums. Well, I don't want to say that there's no doubt. There's doubt. Buy something that you don't know everything about or research a purchase you're about to make. Check out the owners forum - where the savvy guys are. Browse. Weigh the evidence.

Or ask the guy behind the counter at the Union 76 for directions to a place twelve miles away. He can't tell you where he is now, he's never been to the place you're going and he may never have heard of it. He's not much of a traveler. Nevertheless, he'll give you precise directions that will have you lost, frustrated and fantasizing about exploding 76 stations.

He has never driven and is petrified as a passenger on an interstate. He sees blinking lights on the fronts and rears of cars but doesn't know how they are operated.

He's a regular poster on the Porsche Owners Forum, known for his old-school attitude and his conviction that those Germans made 'em to drive, not coddle, by God.

NY Times Book Review of "Traffic;" it could be subtitled "Idiots"

Here's a link to a review in the NY Times of Traffic, a book about why the roads are as unpleasant as they are, and why they have always been that way, even in ancient times. Great review of what would have to be a terrific read.

Friday, August 8, 2008

From the latest Newsweek...

Tamar brought home the latest Newsweek from the library where she works. Newsweek lists the most commented-upon articles on Newsweek Online. The article cited (and linked) in my last post - about Portland's cycling-related strife, Pedal vs Metal, is Number One.

Road rage and cyclist rage in Portland

Here's a link to a Newsweek piece about problems in one of the bike-friendliest cities in the US. I found the link in a Bob Mionske piece in VeloNews. Mionske's articles about the legal aspects of cycling are always well presented - but they are too often sobering. I'd suggest you read them each week as they are presented on VN Online, but you should consider the sad truth - the news is often bad.

The question posed by the writer at the end of the Newsweek article is provocative: If Portland is such a safe city for cyclists, if the number of injured cyclists has not increased despite major increases in the numbers of riders, why all the problems?

I'm sorry I've neglected my blog. I wrote a couple of pieces for publication and was otherwise preoccupied. Thanks as always for reading...