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