Monday, November 30, 2009

We need great equipment because...

I always thought that riding tools help create great rides the way writing tools help produce great writing. Other aspects of the ride or the writing seem far more important.

Here, from today's NY Times, is proof, if you want to think about it that way. Because I have no wish to sneak this up on you, I'll tell you that it's about Cormac McCarthy's typewriter. He bought it for $50 in Knoxville TN in the early '60s, but I tell you what - it's been a good ol' typewriter....

Brad Pitt, trying to Make It Right, almost gets it right

From slimy Las Vegas, we travel to sublime New Orleans, where actor Brad Pitt (yeah, that one) is having homes built for returning locals and perhaps others. The homes are cool and innovative, but they may not be what the folks had in mind...sigh.

Doncha hate it when you're trying to do something right and you get it wrong...? Hooray for Brad Pitt in any case. According to many locals, the article says, he's done more for the city's recovery than any gov't agency.

Still more from Philly: This time, it's an attempt to ban brakeless fixies

Here, from the online Philadelphia Inquirer's, is a piece about new regulations to try to control those lovable but anarchical bike messengers, who feel put-upon and singled out for blame.

"Just enforce the existing laws," say the messengers, "and all will be well."

The messengers will demonstrate en mass this afternoon, perhaps disrupting traffic, to protest being confused with all those other scofflaw poser a--h--es with fixies and large, over-shoulder bags.

"We're the real Robin Hoods," they insist. "Those other guys just wear green."

Read it and...wonder.

From the Monroe, LA, online News Star, here's a truly mystifying op-ed piece. You can read it in a minute, then try to figure out what it's about

As I read it again, I see that it's a letter contributed by a News Star reader. That's an explanation, sort-of. Still mystifying, I'd say.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Problems? Right here in Interbike City?

I'll admit in front that I'm not a big fan of Las Vegas. But I've never ridden a bike there and only walked from hotel to hotel on or near the strip. Vegas's pedestrian/cycling problems aren't new, as you'll read in this Las Vegas Sun piece, and they aren't getting much better as our national consciousness (arguably) rises.

As bad as Vegas is for non-drivers, the annual biggest-in-the-world bike show remains there. I'm sure it's convenient for travel in and out and for lodging and convention facilities. Or if you want to lose your rent money or meet a hooker.

Otherwise, what has Sin City got to do with bicycling? Single-space your list and use both sides of the paper as necessary.

Added half an hour later: As suggested by my old friend Khal, here's a link to a Patrick O'Grady piece about visiting Vegas - for Interbike. It's an O'Grady piece; it's dependably terrific.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Evenhanded Examiner piece about cycling and road safety

Here's an piece (written by Meredith Sladek) about a series of similar bike/car accidents on Long Island in NY State. Avoiding outrage, Sladek,'s NY bicycle transportation contributor, tells the story in a balanced manner. She finds no stones ready-to-hand and convenient for throwing - as I no-doubt would've. Not a happy piece but a well presented one.

A traveler's tale from the Times

From Maira Kalman in today's NY Times, a little story in cartoons, photos and handwritten text about our eating habits in the Land of the Free. I didn't read the comments (just got up) but I will.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bike paths....or mixing it up with the cars? In Dallas, that is the question

This is a long but always interesting article from the Dallas Observer. Dallas has been the most cycling-unfriendly city in the US but is trying to lift itself up. But how?

Just as an observation, has anyone polarized US cyclists more than John Forester? And has anyone reading this (or anyone known to anyone reading this) ever ridden a mile with the man?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Winter, that other cycling season - from Maynard, Mass

This is a charming piece with a sad afterword. It's especially charming to me, your easily charmed blogger, because of its repeated mentions (hey, it's the first word in the article!) of my name. Well, the town's name....

By the way, and this is NO reflection on the linked article, do you think of a bicycle losing traction sideways as "skidding?" Did you always refer to falling off your bike as "crashing?" Do you call front suspension units "shocks?" Is the unit comprising hub, spokes, rim and tire called a "rim?" Can a bicycle's stopping mechanism be called a "break" or a "brake?"

Jus' curious....

More from Philly: Letters to Bykofsky

Here's the link. It seems that Bykofsky, Moulton and your blogger are not the only ones watching cyclists behaving outrageously and shaking their heads in disbelief. But one writer, Susan Shulman, rises above the spitting match and yearns for justice. We only want what's fair, she says....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tim Neenan's (he's the framebuilder) new Lighthouse fixie....

Note to recent converts to cycling: This bike is not tig-welded; it's fillet-brazed. That's why the frame joins are so smooth. Check out especially the bottom bracket area shot. Lovely, huh? Wanna see more about my old friend Tim's Lighthouse bikes?

From Dave Moulton's blog: He's pissed too

Here's the link. Better expressed than my own rant about scofflaw cyclists, it's from Dave Moulton, author, frame-builder and clear-eyed observer of cycling's big picture.

Let's "stop handing them the stick" that they beat us with, he suggests.

Why do we fuel the fire of bike hatred? I'm going to publish this post and log off before I'm driven to abuse italics again. Hey, I can quit anytime....

Danny MacAskill - watch with delighted amazement

Maybe everyone's seen this but me. It's Danny MacAskill, from Scotland, I believe, riding his bike in urban surroundings. I'm informed that it gets two and a half million hits a day. I believe it....

Monday, November 23, 2009

As we watch, it goes from bad to worse in Philly

Here's a Stu Bykofsky editorial. If it isn't YOU who's upsetting guys like Bykofsky, and it isn't ME who's upsetting guys like Bykofsky, who is it? If it's the New Urban Cyclist, and I understand that the NUC fad is fading at long last, how many years will their scofflaw memory linger?

Many of us have ridden for years, decades. We never provoked a column like Bykofsky's.

Leave no trace? Uh-uh. Leave a slime trail, that's the program. Poison the well. And for what?

Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk or running red lights or riding-to-provoke and attract notice is no different from riding an illegally loud motorcycle or doing a 100mph wheelie down the interstate. It's anti-social behavior - to no good purpose. It's tin-horn, cheap, adolescent theatrics.

"Green" defenses of obnoxious urban cyclists don't hold up to scrutiny any better than "loud pipes save lives" arguments. Both behaviors are about attention and attitude. They're all about me. Look at me, get mad at me, hate me....but don't you dare ignore me. I'm what's happening.

Note to readers: Evidently, when I get upset I resort to italics. No more italics today, I promise.

A NY Times editorial: NY State makes DUI far less attractive

Here's the link. As you'll read, NY State has stopped fooling around with drunk drivers. The hope is that other states will follow in the Empire State's footsteps.

Why have these laws taken so long to get on the books? Aren't lawmakers afraid of what could happen to their own families? There must be something about this drunk-driving thing that I just don't understand....

Well, I can serve my country in Iraq....or I can ride my bike in LA

Here's an LA Times piece focusing on how cyclists can keep themselves "safe" as they ride in Los Angeles traffic. It's full of good advice, no doubt. But does anything about its message make you want to ride your bike? Wouldn't you rather stroll through a market square in scenic Afghanistan?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cool wooden Atlantic City?

Here's the link from Press of Atlantic The article and photos feature new innovations in bicycles, some of which are familiar, but Max Samuelson's wooden bikes are fun to look at, doncha think? Check out the photos....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Pine Library was closed, but...

It was after two Saturday afternoon, a dark and stormy afternoon, in tiny but scenic Pine, Colorado. The Pine Public Library, though closed after two, has three unlocked cabinets outside like the one you see me peering into.

The cabinets are full of books, paperbacks and hardbacks. If you see a book you've always wanted, you can put 50 cents (paperbacks) or a dollar bill (hardbound books) in a box outside the building.

It's a cute town and a cute library. Tamar, who's working on a Masters in Library Science, is doing a paper on CO libraries. She shot several photos, none more exciting than this one, featuring....sound of

To see an old post with two of Tamar's photos of Pine, merely click here.

Trust me - you won't believe your eyes....

Received this morning from my friend Corey:

Check out this listing on amazon. Especially look at the customer-provided images and the comments from buyers. Pretty funny...

Corey, San Antonio TX

Friday, November 20, 2009

Who'd have known? Dennis Hopper's photos resurface

Here's a NY Times piece about a new expensive book of photos made by a young, crazed Dennis Hopper almost 50 years ago. The photos are cool, I'd say, and the people in them are fascinating. Take a look....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A snapshot: Cycling in its infinite variety - at Stanford

Worth reading, I'd say. It's from today's NY Times. Click here.

Check it out!

As you will notice, I got a comment from Steevo, who made the Hipsters Discussing Cyclocross video. I think Steevo attached the comment to the wrong post on my blog page, but I'm sure we can forgive him for that.

Steevo, thanks a ton for the comment and the kind words. I'm just as pleased to hear from you as you were to learn that I thought your cartoon was great! By the way, Steevo, David S sent me the link to your cartoon. He says he got it from Lennard Zinn!

Readers, if you have not watched Steevo's short video, it's two posts down on this page - and it's big fun!

License plates? On bikes?

I read this article (from Tamar's hometown) and had the same thoughts you'll have, I expect.

One, how can they register all those bikes? One point five, will compelling cyclists to register their bikes really cut down ridership? Two, how can they enforce this? And three, how else can they police the anonymous thousands of scofflaw cyclists on city streets 'n' sidewalks?

I wonder too how long folks thought they could get away with wholesale pissing-off of the public without a slap on the wrist or a traffic citation.

Will bare-bones urban bicycles now have plates but no brakes? Will riders protest by climbing off their bikes - as bikers did when helmet laws went into effect?

Note the comment about Minneapolis....

Coupla hipsters talking about cyclocross....

Here's a link to a cute cartoon. It's two faithfully portrayed hipsters discussing this strange and perhaps cool form of bicycle racing called 'cross.... Tamar and I think it's funny. See for yourself.... Thanks once again to David S for the link. Smoke 'em if you've got 'em.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rapha vs the SUV: two sides, same coin?

I got this comment from Anonymous to my "biking pants" post:

Better a few folks riding to work in $200+ "biking pants" than using hulking SUV's that burn up $200 worth of hydrocarbons in a week!

My first thought was, Is it the riding pants that got them on those bikes? Is the Rapha buying impulse the same impulse that spirited them to the car store to buy the SUV they've parked, at least temporarily?

Do extraordinarily expensive, stunningly dorky trousers make it hip 'n' happenin' to ride - unlike Lycra or denim?

We remember, many of us, when cycling clothing was dorkier than green service-station attendant jackets with a name patch over one pocket.... We didn't buy that stuff because it was dorky. We bought it despite its utter lack of style.

I'm pleased that these garments are covering the cadaverous white nakedness of these folks as they ride their retro-style velocipedes, but I have to wonder.... Would I like any of them? No, not the velocipides or the garments; I don't care about either. I mean the folks. Do you know any?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Two hundred and ten dollars.... Really?

From the NY Times, all the news about bicycling pants that's fit to print. Do not look for thriftstore Levi's in this article. These are commuting pants; that's why they're not $14.95. Any of my readers own any Rapha? Just curious....

We need help...but The Equalizer is gone.... Updated!

Edward Woodward, the busy actor who played the middle-aged but effective Equalizer on TV for several enjoyable seasons, has died. Here's a link to an AP obituary.

And here (added later) is a link to a YouTube video of the pilot Equalizer episode. It's 10 minutes long and you'll wish it were full length, but it gives you the feeling of the show....and of Edward Woodward's presence. Thanks, Schnitz!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

From bustling Harrisburg, South Dakota

A guy from the Harrisburg SD area got hit and killed by a van while riding in Iowa. A sympathetic SD legislator has proposed a law mandating a three-foot clearance between motor vehicle and bike while passing. The hue and cry has gone up over this outrage. Read the piece and the comments.

And correct me if I'm wrong. Are the commenters saying, "Those sons-of-bitches make ME slow down! What nerve! They deserve what they get."

We're talking about good South Dakota citizens here, readers. Not those frenzied New Yorkers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Passo Gavia 1988: Eric, Andy....and Bob Roll, not at his best

This is epic footage, shot on the descent from the Gavia, the finish of the famous stage that won the Giro for Andy Hampsten. Bundle up before you watch it. It's cold out there....

Thanks, David!

From Motorist/columnist meets Brit round-the-world cyclist

This piece was published today, meaning the cyclist is on his way to Moab and then Denver as I type. Snow or rain is predicted today and my buddy in Moab said yesterday that the wind was blowing strongly there. I hope this guy gets safely to Moab and does not persist in riding over the Rockies in crummy weather...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More from London's mayor

Boris Johnson, mayor of London, seems to be a genuine bike rider. He also seems to be at the center of a gaggle of finger-pointers, incensed because Boris has the nerve to admit that he's angry at irresponsible urban cyclists. In the UK, pavements are sidewalks. Why would you need to know that? Hey, I don't know.... It's illegal to ride on sidewalks, right?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Minimalist urban bike? I guess so...

Here, from GreenMuse, is funny looking bicycle. I wonder if this thing works....

London mayor, avid cyclist, saves damsel in distress! No kidding....

Here's the link. I suspect that no comment from me is going to add anything.

Well, maybe: Go, Boris!

Another move by bike, this time a cafe in Columbia, MO

Thanks to Amy, here's a link to another move-by-bike. Cafe Berlin moves with a little help from its friends....after a pancake breakfast!

Thanks, John!

Hiya John!

I read the review and found the movie company web site, then went to Netflix where there is no sign of "Cafe Society" the movie. But I'll be looking for it for sure. I think it'd be perfect for a wintertime evening showing at our local Triumph and Euro motorcycle shop. Thanks a ton for the heads-up!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fort Collins (CO) man moves into his new house - by bike!

Why, he even towed his Toyota 4-Runner from his old place to his new one (six downtown Fort Collins blocks away)! Fun to read, cool to imagine, here's the link - from the Coloradoan Online.

Lotta vowels in Coloradoan, huh?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Greg and Kathy and Lance and Kristin and Trek

From the NY Daily, here's a kinda long but quite interesting article about Greg's finger-pointing at Lance, Trek's shutting down LeMond Cycles, lawyers and depositions and court appearances.... All the dirt.

There's a nice photo of Greg, and one of Greg and Kathy. Hasn't always been easy to be Kathy LeMond, but she's held up well, doncha think? And she's standin' by her man even now.

Greg'll be 50 before we know it, and his life has not been smooth sailing, huh? Still, he looks pretty good, I'd say. I know both those guys a little, Lance and Greg, and I've always trusted Greg. I hope he's wrong about Lance. I don't want Greg to be wrong - but I desperately want Lance to be clean.

Friday, November 6, 2009 a helluva video

My friend Big Jim sent me this link from Manchester in the UK, where as the US Team mechanic, he's working the Track Worlds. It's a British video, 13 minutes long. It's about,'s about the journey of Odysseus and the preparation of a team pursuit athlete for the Olympic Games.

It'll remind old-timers of the '70s (that's correct, isn't it?) film The Incredible Hour, but it's 100 times better than that unwatchable flick. Maybe 100 is a low estimate. Your money back if not delighted....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just coincidentally....

Weekend before last, Tamar and I went to San Francisco, where her brother Ronnen married his sweetheart Robin. The wedding ceremony was outdoors, on patio on the fifth floor of the Hotel Vitale - at the foot of Mission Street just a few steps from the Embarcadero.

That's Tamar & I on the right in the photo with our friends Ray & Carrie.

During the lovely ceremony, written in part by the wedding couple, the rabbi's voice was made impossible to hear by the many Harley-Davidson motorcycles passing by on the Embarcado just below us.

I was inspired by the gross inconsiderateness of those riders (not only for the wedding, of which they were not aware, but for anyone or anything they may encounter) to write a column for CityBike and Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, the two motorcycle magazines that run my stuff.

I sent the article off last week. Just today, I learned about a recent South Park episode focusing on Harley riders and their amazing lack of consideration. It's a funny and accurate skewering of those callous promoters of hearing damage. Here's the link. Enjoy. Sorry about the ads....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Even if you don't care about bicycle racing...

A high-profile court trial has just ended in southern California. A perhaps-retired emergency room doctor, Christopher Thomas Thompson, was charged with multiple counts of several serious acts. They were hostile, violent acts, done on different days in his car on the same road near his home - against cyclists.

The coverage in VeloNews has been evenhanded and readable; the letters in reaction have been well written and expressive. Makes you proud to be a bike rider. Afraid but proud.

If you want to follow the trial as VN has, click around at the site where it's all archived. I'd do it that way (watch it as it unfolded) and experience it as did those of us who followed it all along. Riveting, I'd say.

Here's a link to VN, but please....start at the beginning. Some of the descriptions and photos will scare you, but no worse than evening television.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A terrific piece about Greg LeMond....well, it's sortof about Greg

Here is a great New Journalism-style piece (I think) about Greg LeMond. The writer does not try to stay out of the story - at all. The piece is good and fun to read. The amazing aspect of it is where it ran - in Bicycling Magazine! Provocative, honest, recommended....

It's 10 short pages - betcha you read every one!

My friend Larry's take on Jim T's comment


Your pal makes some interesting points. Italians seem to have more than one cell phone per person and they yak on them all the time, even while driving (though it's illegal unless a hands-free setup is used) but don't seem to run over many cyclists.

I don't think super-harsh penalties for distracted driving are enough to protect cyclists. I believe what keeps Europeans from running us over is the popularity of the sport and the much greater use of bicycles in general, combined with the view that roads belong to everyone.

In Italy the automobile or motorist is not king, even if he or she is piloting a Ferrari. Sure, they have the right to use the roads but only the auto and super strada roads are exclusively for them, everywhere else people ride bicycles or motor scooters and even walk in the road.

We see folks walking in the road all the time when there's no sidewalk, even pushing baby strollers along! There's none of the "get off MY road!" attitude there, unlike so many places in the US.

Add in that lots of folks ride bicycles, including the local pro and amateur cycling teams along with most everyone's mother (who uses a bike to pop down to the bakery or butcher shop every day). You end up with motorists who generally pay more attention to other road users and give them respect.

Think about it. Who would want to be the motorist who ran over the local pro? Or their best friend's mother? More often you see the motorist waving to the local pro or friend's mother as they go by.

I doubt this will ever be the case in the US until traffic-calming devices are put into more cities and bicycles get used for more purposes by more people. Taxes on motor fuels could help but I don't see the political will to impose them on a society where we can't even get a decent health care reform bill passed over the special-interest group objections.

My answer is, as you know, to MOVE as soon as we can figure out a way to do it.

Best Regards, Larry

Cell phones and texting - the wider view

Many of us, I believe, look at cell phone use and texting as annoying and perhaps dangerous acts, because that's how those practices touch our lives. Here's David Brooks in the NY Times talking about how those new-fangled modes of communication have touched and changed society.

I would have no idea about these changes had not Brooks brought them to my attention. See if he doesn't open your eyes too....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Letter to me from Jim T: "How do we deal with texting, Jim?"

How will we deal with texting? The same way we SHOULD have dealt with drunk drivers, but never did.

Take a note from the Europeans -- I've NEVER seen anyone on a cell phone (or, heaven forbid, texting) in France or Germany. The only on-site phones are used by taxi drivers and they're hands-free. Otherwise, people actually DRIVE.

Personally I think that for a first offense the driver will face a 30 day AUTOMATIC suspension and a $500 fine.

Second offense, LOSE the car (seriously) and a one year suspension.

Third offense . . . hmmmm, do you smell prison?

As for drunks, I've had my attitude about drunks ever since taking a dead child out of a car, hit by a drunk driver, who was so drunk he didn't even know he had been in an accident. I got pretty good at catching drunks after that . . . but my feeling is that:

a) First Offense -- six weeks in a Marine Corps operated Boot Camp (located, naturally, in South Texas) - three year suspension (if you're caught driving on a license suspended due to DUI you spend the remainder of the three years in a State Prison) and loss of the car.

b) Second Offense -- permanent suspension of license (forever and ever, thank you very much) and three years imprisonment (mandatory).

It would be pretty brutal for the first few months and then NOBODY would do it, TOO risky.

more later.... your friend, Jim

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tough penalties in the UK for texting/driving

Here's the link. It's a NY Times piece. The photo of the victim's wrecked car is small but you can enlarge it - I did, and I don't recommend that you do. Bright yellow car on the road shoulder, flashers on. Should have been visible for 300 yards. "I never saw it," said the defendant....