Sunday, January 31, 2010

Electric Bicycles - there's more going on than you think....

Here's a piece from the NY Times Global Business section about the worldwide boom in electric bike sales and use. Electric bike use is green, maybe, but there are problems, as you'll read. We may be sharing our bike lanes and paths with silent two-wheelers capable of cruising at 30mph....

One more J.D. Salinger post

I read this piece from the Rutland VT Herald a couple of days ago and found it charming. It inspired an appreciation for our neighbors that often needs to be re-inspired. I also noted that every time we saw an article or post about Salinger's passing, it was accompanied by the same ancient head-and-shoulders photo. Even relative recluses like Cormac McCarthy appear in public occasionally. Only Howard Hughes comes to mind as equally hermit-like.

Many of the obits say that Salinger felt the sting of literary criticism so bitterly that he withdrew into anonymity, told his publishers to remove his photo from his book covers, and (if he wrote at all) kept his work from sight - with one minor exception - for the rest of his life. He only surfaced via lawyers to protect his work and privacy.

I think you'll enjoy reading about J.D. Salinger in Cornish, NH...and the endless parade of English Majors. Thanks, David S!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Link to the newest Rivendell Reader

Thanks to my friend Tim, here's a link to the Winter 2010 Rivendell Reader. Lots of stuff to read and enjoy in this long-anticipated issue. It's got two of my pieces in it - right at the end. The story about the guy at the REI Starbucks is true as I could tell it. I hope you like it.

Cycling in the winter - in Winnipeg?

Is year-'round cycle-commuting in harsh-winter, northern communities safe? Or crazy? This writer-to-the-editor thinks it's foolish or crazy, and his letter was chosen as letter of the week!

Bad day: Zinn and Salinger

This week we lost Howard Zinn and J.D. Salinger, two guys who were giants in many of our lives. Here are two links from the NY Times, one about each man. If you hated Howard Zinn and couldn't read his stuff, skip the link. No one's trying to convert anyone here.

The Oatmeal

Here's a link to The Oatmeal, a guy who provides images and captions that will make you laugh out loud. I have only read the one about cats (what you should know about them), the one about semicolons and the one about computer printers, but I intend to read them all. This Oatmeal is funny; he's been paying attention.

I can't wait to read Why I'd Rather Be Punched in the Testicles than Call Customer Service.

Thanks, Tamar! Thanks, Hillary!

PS Some Oatmeal cartoons are Rated R for hilarious adult content and threats of violence.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I'd like to call your attention once again to....

My buddy Brendan's trip blog, Just Another Bike Ride Across America. In his latest post, Brendan tells us about the hundred-dollar bicycle he's going to ride from San Diego to St Augustine. You may not covet Brendan's old Raleigh, but you will enjoy reading this post. Dude can really write.

Oh, and remember: You can follow Brendan's journey (with his friend Tony) if you bookmark the site. They leave from San Diego on February 4th!

Restricting cell phone use hasn't cut accidents...

Fair's fair. I posted cell phones equal chaos pieces ad nauseum. Here's a NY Times "Wheels" piece that claims that maybe they aren't the devil's work after that surprised the researchers as much as it surprises us.

Bicycling and walking save lives. Well, we knew that....

Here's a Bicycle Retail and Industry News (the bike biz journal) piece about a new survey of walking and cycling habits, the health benefits and levels of relative safety - around the country.

Here is a second link to a piece about the same survey - with a different take on the statistics. Would you believe that the state with the highest percentage of commuting pedestrians is.... well, read the piece.

If they (the states) make it safe to walk or pedal, if they spend money commensurate with the benefits to the citizenry in so many regards, people will ped and people will pedal.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who's that in the lycra shorts?

Here, from, is a photo of two generations of motorcycle road racing champions - racing their bicycles in the off-season. The lighthearted captioning is typical Superbikeplanet. Click on the photo to enlarge it (Is the word "enlarge" ruined forever?).

Because you may have missed this....

This link will take you to a "photo" on the NY Times front page. It's a panorama of the president's State of the Union address in the House Chamber last night. It's made of of what must've been many, many still photos. You can watch the room rotate very slowly around the camera, or you can manipulate your cursor anywhere on the photo and move your focus around the room.

I'd never seen anything quite like this. If you have and it's boring, forgive me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just another bike ride across America

Here's a link to my friend Brendan Leonard's trip site. He and a high school friend from Iowa are leaving San Diego Feb 4th to ride to Saint Augustine, Florida. He's posting regularly to the site as he prepares for the trip and worries about what may happen en route.

Brendan is a great guy and a super writer. I am sure that you'll enjoy his pre-trip posts and want to follow his journey across this great land. By the way, Brendan has ridden Ragbrai and used his bike for urban transportation. He has done ambitious day rides. He's a rock climber and camper. But, like most of us, he's never done a ride of this scale.

Bookmark the site and you can do it with him.

Monday, January 25, 2010

We'd druther they'd clean up their act....

A group of American Nazis have "adopted" a section of highway near Denver. I'm not lying: It's on the news. You figured nothing would surprise you today, right?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When you send the email as requested, and no one responds....

Here's a great piece, a revenge piece you could call it, about folks who don't bother with the few key-strokes it'd take to acknowledge your existence and return your courtesy. The E-Snub, from the NY Times' Complaint Box, written by Neal Hirschfeld.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How to be a tech support motor driver

As many of you will know, I've worked at major bicycle races all over the US as a neutral support motorcycle pilot - or tech motor driver as we'd say at the races. I did it a lot, more probably than anyone else here between maybe 1995 and 2005.

I worked for Mavic, Pedro's, Bontrager and Shimano. I worked seven Trumps and du Ponts, many nat'l championship events, Idaho Women's Challenges and Philly Pro Championships, lots of Cascade Classic and Tour of the Gila stage races, etc.

A year or so ago, I wrote a brief set of instructions for a guy who was going to work the women's event at the Tour of the Gila. He was a fine motorcyclist and a bike rider, but he'd never been inside a bicycle race.

As I read over the instructions, I thought: No reason only one guy should read these. I'll send them to the Cycling Federation. They can pass them along to future new tech motor drivers. I didn't know the specific right person at the federation to whom to send the instructions. I asked a couple of race official friends and followed their directions, sent off the copy. No one at the federation ever responded.

So - you are reading these instructions merely to satisfy your curiosity. No one who needed to read them (except the one dude who worked last year's Tour of the Gila) has ever seen them, thanks to USA Cycling. If any of the terms are unclear, add a comment and I'll try to explain. Here's the link.

UPDATE - My old friend Jim Stanfill, Operations Manager at USA Cycling, has posted a link on the Federation's site specifically for race mechanics. All's well know.

Back in Louisville KY with our car-free blogger

A (republican) Kentucky state rep has proposed a ban on carrying passengers on bicycles. Here's our outraged Louisville blogger's take on what's harmful and what's FUN! I've read a few of his earlier posts and stuck one up here on my own page not long ago. I like this guy's style....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ballplayer Doug Glanville on Mark McGwire

If there are pro road cyclists who don't dope, here's how they must feel. From the NY Times.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This fine piece is rated Sad

Charles Pelkey, one of my old VeloNews editors and soon to be a lawyer, is The Explainer in VN this last couple of years. He does a great job; I've posted links to several of his pieces here on my blog page.

This piece is about the guy (and the folks left behind by the guy) who was hit and killed by the Nat'l Guard recruiter in Virginia.

It's a great piece but it will for sure make you sad. Here's the link. Click carefully.

From Slate: Help! I bought a small car but it sucks!

Here's Matthew DeBord, posting to his blog, Shifting Gears, in Slate's The Big Money section. What DeBord has to say will surprise few of us, but it seldom gets said this clearly. Here's what he says, and what he doesn't say.

Most Americans don't want Priuses, nay: We want big, safe comfortable cars and big trucks. Mustangs are compacts. Minis and SmartCars are sh*tbox targets, third cars for limousine liberals.

Hey, we work hard (if we have jobs). We pay our taxes. We often recycle. We can afford fuel for our vehicles. If we want motorscooters or bicycles we know where to buy them. What we want is real cars and trucks, and real homes with real yards in neighborhoods full of nice folks like us.

We want a president who was born here and believes in our form of government. We don't like the way things are going. All this talk about hybrids is coastal bullcrap. We don't care what Brad Pitt drives. We want big cars.

We've always driven big cars and our daddies drove big cars. It's a big country. We got big houses and big shopping lists at Costco and Lowes. SmartCars won't cut it.

Are the senators and representatives in DC driving Priuses? Hell no. We can pay for health care and we can pay for premium fuel. It's our money. This sh*t has gone far enough.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do helmet laws discourage cycling?

From a blog (Freakonomics) featured regularly in the NY Times, this post suggests that helmet laws, while saving lives and reducing injury, keep some people off bicycles. Helmets are expensive, helmets are a nuisance...and seeing helmets on so many riders' heads makes cycling seem scary.

Meet Pete - from Louisville KY

This piece warmed my heart. Granted, Pete rides illegally on the sidewalk, but that's not entirely his fault. If Louisville provided safe cycling in the streets and perhaps some education about how to deal with traffic, Pete would change his ways. Sidewalks or no sidewalks, GO Pete!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Still another cell phone distraction piece from the NY Times - it's peds this time

The accident count among pedestrians who walk into parked cars and light poles while talking on their phones doubles each year. It isn't just drivers....

Friday, January 15, 2010

Letters to the NY Times about driver-distracting gadgets

Great letters, I'd say, except perhaps for the one guy's letter expressing his concern about rising insurance rates.... Probably not a rider, huh?

Matt Damon stokes a tandem with his brother as captain....

Here, thanks to old friend Donald in Mexico City, is Matt Damon's brother Kyle's tale of riding a tandem in a huge cycling event in Africa - in horrific conditions! From Bicycling Magazine.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Photos from the Dakar Rally in South America - epic action, terrific shots!

Here's the link, thanks for the umpteenth time to Big Jim in the Springs. There are 37 photos, I believe, but they are gorgeous images of tough men and women racing in improbable terrain.

From VN's reader photos: Aaron Santry's shot of Miller's Meadow, Wichita KS, 12/30/09

Here's a link to the gallery of reader photos, some atmospheric and wintry like this one, some fun and festive. Worth a look....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

If you love motorcycling and bicycling, here's a rare crossover point

This is an update note to fans of super motorcycle racing site from Ben Spies, current World Superbike Champion and now a new Yamaha rider at the highest level, in MotoGP. What's he doing in the off-season? Take a look!

Veteran cyclist, VN editor AND law school grad Charles Pelkey's take on car wars

Well, Dr Thompson is going to jail. Are we better off? Here's my old friend and editor Charles Pelkey's take.

Today's VeloNews reader letters

Here's a link to the latest letters in VN. All but two are about Dr. Thompson's conviction in SoCal and his status as a physician, sworn to help - not hurt. The first letter is about the drug EPO and stroke risk; surely none of my blog readers is an EPO user.

The last letter is about computer manipulation and may (or may not) interest you. But the ones in between? Take a look....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bamboo bikes, hemp bikes....

From Spiegel Online, a short, fun to read piece about truly green bicycles.

From What I learned by not getting into a car for a year....

British-born San Franciscan forsakes door-slammers around the calendar. Fun to read...and then you get to read the comments!

Sweet article abt cycling - from Indiana!

Here's a well written personal memoir of a life awheel from a retired Purdue University prof (I think) published in the Lafayette IN paper. As many of you will know, I'm from Indianapolis so cycling news from the Hoosier State interests me. And the writer of this piece, Mark Levinthal, went to college in Waltham, MA, where Tamar went to undergraduate school.

No doubt Levinthal is preaching to the cycling choir through my blog page. We've heard the sermon before; it nonetheless serves to lift the soul in these sodden gray months.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A robot passenger for your tandem

Thanks to Bay Area friends Tena and Larry, here's Joules, a robot tandem partner who does all the work for you! Why, it's like having Chris Horner back there....

Answers from a Bicycle Mechanic, pts 1, 2 and 3 - from the NY Times!

Here's the link. I like this guy's style and his suggestions seem right-on. Let me know if you think he's fulla somethin' smelly. When you get to the bottom of Part One, you can click on links to Parts Two and (no kidding) Three.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dr. Thompson sentenced. Fine VeloNews overview

As most of us know, Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson was sentenced to five years in jail for his felony acts of hostility toward cyclists on Mandeville Canyon Road in southern California. Here is a really well done description of the day Thompson got the bad news.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Really, that's the honest-to-God title

Here's an online magazine piece offering instructions on How to Become a Bicycle Badass. Because I know that you've yearned for years to morph into just such a Badass, here's the link. I'd write a more extensive description of the article's contents but it'd just make me sad.

You don't like me.... You really don't like me.

Here, from, is a report on a wildly popular Facebook page for bicycle haters. Interesting comments. That's all I want to write about this thoroughly objectionable subject.

Ticket us, please, say Fort Collins cyclists

"We know we've been bad, or many among us (but not with us) have been bad. Add a surcharge to our tickets, just as you've done with motorists. Your job is to protect and to serve, and it'll serve us right!"

As ye blow the stop sign, so shall ye reap the surcharge....

William Pedals On, a new blog worthy of your notice

Here's a link to Austinite (nowadays) William Hudson's new blog. You'll enjoy all of it, I think. I have only looked at the first three posts - the first, about William's 'great grandfather Greevz, is great. That's Greevz in the ancient newspaper article above.

But the third post is about racing trikes, no kidding. I haven't seen one in years and hardly seen a photo. How did William know? All those great photos....

I look forward to many visits to Williampedalson online, and many visits with William in real time....

Just as an aside, I am jealous that William knows anything at all about his great-grandfather in "the old country." I knew my grandparents when I was a kid, but could never speak with them because they spoke no English. I know a little about my parents' lives before I was born, probably only what they felt it was instructive for me to know, but that's the limit of my family history.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stanley Fish in the NY Times re: Revenge Movies

Not cycling, not motorcycling. Fish talks about a film genre called revenge movies, most recently "Taken," with Liam Neeson. At the end of the piece is Fish's list of his ten favorite revenge flicks. Maybe seven of them are my all-time favorite movies - of any kind.

Honestly, I had never realized how predictable my taste is. I'd be embarrassed to admit how many times I've seen Point Blank (Lee Marvin), Get Carter (Michael Caine) and Valdez is Coming (Burt Lancaster). Oh, and The Princess Bride....for balance.

Please read the comments, many of which suggest alternatives to those films on Fish's top ten list. I'd add another Lee Marvin movie, Prime Cut, and Rolling Thunder, with William Devane and Tommy Lee Jones. Feel free to mention your own faves.

Terrific John Wilcockson VeloNews piece - US Cycling is On a Roll!

Here, in sage comments and ecstatic statistics, is the development of US riders in international bike racing since the '70s. This is history that many of us have witnessed, summed up delightfully by John Wilcockson, who knows whereof he speaks - for damnsure.

From the front page of todays NY Times

Cell phone chatting at the wheel. Texting at the wheel. Then some backlash from the safety-minded. And now:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A little story from Jim T in Mt View

Good morning, Maynard

Began night classes @ Foothill and discovered that riding a bicycle to campus saves me at least $2 a night AND parking is within 100 feet of the classroom. Of course it gets a bit chilly on the return trek but at least it's 100 percent downhill.

Thank goodness for REALLY bright lights. Reviewing the Explorer MaxxD and am very impressed, so far. Is it a Lupine? Nope but it's about 1/3 the price.

The best part is the itty bitty tail light that throws out 80 lumens and will fry your evil brain. Combined with the DiNotte 140 set on flash it's enough to scare almost anyone. Now if I could just get one in blue . . . . . . .

Yesterday, riding to downtown Los Altos, as I moved left into the "go straight" lane on Cuesta (which crosses San Antonio and becomes 1st street) I got a vicious honking from behind and lights flashing. I pulled over and waited. The car just STOPPED about 100 feet back . . . so after about 20 seconds I continued into my spot in light (behind two cars waiting for the green).

A little gold Honda Civic pulled up next to me, window down and a very, very angry driver (male, about 60 years of age, more or less) starts chastising me for changing lanes without signaling. Now this car was never within 100 yards of me when I did change lanes and Cuesta is only about 2.5 lanes wide . . . total . . . at that point. Residential neighborhood. 25 mph. I was probably going between 15 and 18 mph.

"Hey Buddy, you were weaving all over the road and changing lanes without signaling. Are you insane?"

I stared at him meekly. "Sorry Sir," I responded.

"It's dangerous out here. You need to follow the basic rules of the road!" he continued.

"Man, I have GOT to stop drinking," I muttered, looking down at the ground like a beaten dog.

"Yeah, lay off the booze buddy," he snapped, rolling up his window and driving up to light, slowing and making a right turn WITHOUT signaling OR stopping.

I thought about that for awhile and thought that perhaps I should have enjoyed a quart of whiskey before leaving home.

Of course, I probably couldn't have found Peet's :-0

ciao and best


PS: Do Fixies and Drinking make a good combination? Perhaps!

Lance will win the Tour, says Forbes Magazine.... Hey, and they should know.

Here's James Raia of the National Cycling Examiner, reporting that Forbes Magazine (a business journal) is predicting a Lance Armstrong victory in the '10 Tour. Read their reasoning in another worth-your-while Raia report.

Raia's Cycling Examiner rates higher than any other endurance sports Examiner. I subscribed a year or so ago and have enjoyed it consistently. And I've never been better informed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cycling on film - a new golden age

From the NY Times, a short history and update on bikes in the movies. What's happening? Lotsa fixies, very few brakes....

Monday, January 4, 2010

As if things weren't bad enough....

Buell is defunct. MV Agusta is on the block. And now, an eight thousand pound statue of an old-time motorcycle racer mounted on a vintage Harley has been stolen from a Utah Harley-Davidson shop. Just vanished. Not stuffed inside someone's black leather jacket, we presume....

The article is from VisorDown, a cool newish UK motorcycle magazine. Don't miss the veddy British comments.

Cycling safety - from Fort Collins, just up the road

It appears that the Fort Collins Coloradoan has just published the first in a series of articles about bicycle safety - by Rick Price, Ph.D., a League of American Bicyclists certified instructor.

Here's the link.

We don't hear as much about Fort Collins as we do about bike-crazy Boulder, but most of us clustered up and down the I-25 corridor like the town. It's home to Colorado State University.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Post-research UK bicycle safety article - with an amazing comment!

Here it is, from

Please read the comments, especially the one citing an excerpt from a book written in 1947!

In Long Beach, CA, "bicycle boxes" at intersections

From the Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram, here's a description of the city's new bicycle boxes, safe areas for cyclists waiting for a traffic light to change. Forbidden to cars - like pedestrian crosswalks - these havens were patterned after those in Portland and Albuquerque.

I can imagine these as effective in California - where crosswalks are sacred, but in the last couple of places Tamar and I have lived, striped pedestrian paths are nothing like protected. If you feel safe in a crosswalk or you imagine that the driver stopped there, waiting to turn right, sees you as you step off the curb, you have a trusting nature.

Paint stripes here - and perhaps where you are - are ignored by drivers and slippery when wet.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

From BikeRadar: a Euro cycle-tour....with DOGS

This is fun, super well written, and the photos? Lovely!

Road Orlando

Packs of 80 training on local roads anger motorists who insist they're "not anti-bike"....

From today's NY Times: Lawmakers looking harder at texting

...and cell-phoning while driving too. Here's the link.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A link to an amazing, really cool blog....

Thanks to friend Tena in the Bay Area, here's a link to Peter Hoffman's blog - in which he describes railbiking in Patagonia, no really, on what looks like a Bike Friday folder with an outrigger. The link will take you to his introduction. I feel sure you can find your own way around his blog from there.

Happy New Year everyone! Enjoy (old bike racer) Peter's travel stories/films/photos and have a super 2010! Maybe, like Peter, you can railbike Patagonia!