Wednesday, March 31, 2010

From VN's interview with Peter Stetina re: Descending

Years ago, after riding in Jim Ochowicz's car at the Giro, I realized (and wrote) that even if I could climb like Andy Hampsten and sprint like Tyler Farrar and roll like Ron Kiefel, I would not be able to hang with a pack of top Euro pros - because no way can I descend the way they do.

Peter Stetina, surely a future star and the son and nephew of stars, had the same experience:

VN: Everything is ahead of you now – what’s been the biggest surprise so far?

PS: The descents. The other day in training, I was just surfing this descent, leaning into the curves, just cruising along. Christian (Vande Velde) just comes blowing by me like a cannonball. I hopped on his wheel and I was half-chattering my wheel around some corners and was gritting my teeth to get down it.

At the bottom, I said, “dude, you flew down that thing!”

He said, “no man, I am not a good descender. I am one of the bad ones in the Tour.”

I said, whoa, I am screwed! It’s the downhills. I just have to get so good in the climbing that I don’t have to worry about the downhills (laughs). I thought I was pretty good on the descents. I hear stories, that Cancellara is unbelievable. Hopefully, I will get to witness that. You have to put that fear out of your mind, get on their wheel and maybe you will learn something.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

James Raia on Jim Ochowicz: From 7-Eleven to BMC

If you haven't subscribed to the Cycling Examiner, and you've just waited for me to post links to the juiciest of James Raia's posts, think about subscribing. You might read those juicy posts before I do!

This one is about one of cycling's good guys, 7-Eleven founder "Och" or Jim Ochowicz. He'll be back at the Tour this year as the BMC director sportive. Allez, Och! Four US teams at the '10 Tour! Allez, Yanks!

David Brooks in the NY Times: Would you take the Sandra Bullock deal?

A - She won the Academy Award; B - she found out in the most public way that her husband's a creep. Turns out, Brooks says, Oscar winners live four years longer than nominees who don't win, and make more money for years and years. Would you take that deal?

Fascinating column about love and money, I'd say.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cyclists' rights equal to motorists'? How 'bout now?

From the Chicago Sun-Times. A Chinese teenager, an orphan adopted at two years old by an American single mom, is killed by a nearly 90-year old driver who "veered across the center line and hit them head-on." Her two riding friends are badly injured. The old dude was cited for improper lane use - not a joke, not funny at all. No criminal charges have been filed.

I try not to post links to these horror stories, but based on the recent statements of our Transportation Czar, these slaps on the wrist send a sad message. Same as the old boss, right?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

1909 revisited via Maxwell

In 1909, a woman named Alice Ramsey drove a new Maxwell from Manhattan to San Francisco, the first woman to cross the nation in an automobile. One hundred years later....

Don't miss the slide show. Does this NY Times story have it all? Romance, craftsmanship, brave women, team effort.... Bravo!

James Raia on re: David Clinger

Read the piece and scroll down to watch the Deseret News video. Remarkably well done video about a compelling character. Allez David Clinger!

Friday, March 26, 2010

This NYT piece is about GM's tiny new concept car, but the comments....

The car is interesting, certainly, but the comments are more interesting. If we agree that many (or even most) Americans will never ride a bike for transportation, why do we cyclists insist that pedal bicycles are the answer to every transport problem? Click here and see what you think....

Jim Marshall, Rock 'n' Roll's star photographer, RIP

Here, from the NY Times, is a slide show of Marshall's work. Marshall's gone and so are many of the people he photographed (not Joan Baez and Bob Dylan shown above), but the photos are forever. Enjoy....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy 80th, Steve tells us that the King of Cool would have turned 80 years old yesterday. Above is his motorcycle racing license from the FIM. Eighty.... Imagine.

Entertaining Q and A with Bob Roll

Thanks to the folks at Road ID, and thanks to David S for forwarding the link, here's an eight minute chat session with Bob Roll, just as if you were sitting across the coffee table from him in his home.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why don't we see electric bicycles everywhere?

Here's a well presented piece (offending only with a misspelling of "Campy") about the forces acting AGAINST the electric bicycle, so often presented as the transport saviors of our cities. From Grist online, thanks to my buddy Donald in far-off Mexico City.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Danny McAskill again, this time in Chamonix

Here's that Scottish kid, Danny McAskill, trials riding genius, in a lovely short film. McAskill does impossible things so gracefully that (if we didn't know better) it would seem oh-so easy.... This is a must-see video, I'd say. I think it's performance art, but I'll have to check with Tamar to be sure.

Thanks again to David S, who appears to miss nothing, and makes it seem easy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A letter about bikes-as-traffic to the Baltimore Sun

Here's an accurate and succinct a description of what many cycling advocates think about riding in traffic. The party line, you could call it. Parts of it seem to make sense. Other parts make one wonder what universe these folks inhabit. See for yourself....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Forwarded by my old friends Jim and Irene

Jim and Irene talk about a guy I don't know, their old SF Bay Area friend Rich, a world class triathlete. Here's a note from Rich's wife, a photo of Rich and a quick description of the accident. Here's a link to a Marin (County) Independent Journal article about Rich.

This was Rich after spending two days at Marin General with a concussion, subdural hematoma, contusions and broken finger. He thinks he hit a low flying turkey vulture near Nick's Cove on Highway One in Marshall. His helmet saved him. He refused the helicopter and arrived in an ambulance in a neck and back brace. He can hardly wait to get back on the bike after his hand surgery. Your friend Barb

Saturday, March 20, 2010 interview with track sprinter Victoria Pendleton

Here's the last paragraph:

"I can be educated and successful as a sportsperson, and I can also wear a frock and high heels and feel like a lady. I can pose for FHM or borrow dresses from Paul Smith and all these wonderful things. There’s a feeling now that no-one puts limits on me, I think that’s the biggest thing, and I think that’s just maturity." Maturity, and the gold medals that prove her place within that masculine cycling world, with or without long hair and make-up.

And here's a link to the fine Lara Dunn interview with a levelheaded young woman world champion.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Godspeed Phil Wood

Sad news from, thanks to David S.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I just noticed this....

My high school reunion is coming up in June. The organizers are putting together a sort of annual for us aged grads to peek at through our bifocals. They've asked for photos. While searching for a suitable recent head shot I noticed these two photos, separated in time by a mere four decades: 1965 and 2005. Look like the same guy to you?

US Transportation Sec'y Ray LaHood says cyclists, well, are people too....

Here the Baltimore Sun reports on statements (radical statements to be sure) made by our US Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood. LaHood says in part that motor vehicles will not be given the overwhelming edge in federal transportation policy they've held these last 60 years.

Why, cyclists and walkers are part of the transport picture too!

All kidding aside, this is revolutionary stuff, incendiary stuff. We'll see if it's all just talk. I'm keeping my fingers crossed meanwhile.

This bike parking shed charges the batteries of electric bikes

Sorry if you have to wait while this site shows you an ad. The piece is short and interesting. I don't know if old-school cyclists love the idea of electric bikes, but they're the happenin' thing, huh?

Here's the piece - from

Brendan and Tony - in Alabama! Roll Tide!

Our friend Brendan and his buddy Tony are on their way across the Southern Tier (I believe that's the Adventure Cycling term) route - in their case from San Diego to Saint Augustine FL. They're in Alabama as we speak, experiencing a bit of mechanical bother and the congenial reaching-out of the locals.

If you ride from San Diego to Saint Augustine in February and March, you are limited to the southern half of this great land. And what a generous, civilized half it is! Check out this post - about yesterday's idyllic pedal across Dixie. Y'all come back now, y'hear. Roll Tide.

Monday, March 15, 2010

We worry about overpopulation. Should we be more worried about overconsumption?

Here, from Prospect, the "most intelligent current affairs and cultural debate magazine in Britain," is one author's take on myths about population vs unpleasant truths about consumption.

Katie made it! She rowed across the Atlantic - solo!

You may remember reading about Katie Spotz a few months ago, as she embarked on her trans-Atlantic solo journey by (high-tech, elaborate) rowboat. It wasn't easy but 70 days later she's done it - with a big grin for her father and the cameras. Here's the story, from today's NY Times.

Here's a fine article about bike/car coexistence. Cool, you think...until you read the comments

Here's the link. The piece was written by an ex Ann Arbor police detective, it says, and all is well, uh, until you read the comments. Damned arrogant Ann Arbor cyclists anyway, especially around the university, where they ride on the damn sidewalks....

I almost got hit by a cyclist on a Denver sidewalk day before yesterday. She came around a blind corner on a freaky narrow piece of sidewalk and almost fell down to avoid hitting me.

There's nothing legal, appropriate or cool about sidewalk cycling. Hard to blame the motoring masses for their upset, not that they don't offend in far more frequent, flagrant ways - carelessly putting their neighbors in harm's way. Not just carelessly - righteously.

It's "get out of my way," until Sunday morning. All that Sunday unselfishness lasts until the drive home, when sure enough some of them damn cyclists are riding side-by-side again this week. I'll show 'em....

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is this guy upset about something...?

Here, from SFGate, is Harmon Leon, who calls himself the Infiltrator, meaning I think a guy who tears the tips off cigarettes. He's been watching the new breed of urban cyclist, and he must be a critical kinda guy, 'cause he goes off on those dudes like a roman candle. Calls 'em jerks, no kidding.

Chill, Harmon, okay?

Added later: Don't miss Earle's comment (to my post) and the many comments by SFGate readers.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The clothing order.... SO funny!

Here's our make-it-yourself cartoonist again. This time the two dudes are talking about ordering team clothing for the coming season. If you've been in a bike club, you will recognize these guys. interview with a Google spokeperson abt Google Maps for cyclists

Here's Matt Pachocha's interview (with Google's Elaine Filadelpho) about the exciting new Google Maps service - especially for us!

From Forbes India: an interview with Eddy Merckx

Retired now, the Cannibal reflects on cycling past and present, what it takes to succeed in bike racing and business, and gives us a peek at his wonderful, unrivaled Eddyness.

Thanks once again David S!

It's a bonanza! Watch the video!

Here, again this morning from, is a cool, slickly produced UK TV ad promoting cycling safety. It's about what you notice and what you don't, reminding us of the dancing bear ad from a year ago.

As will suggest, you won't know the ad is about cycling safety until the last seconds. This is done as well as any motion picture, I'd say.

As we know, Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, is a regular rider. Maybe the governor of Colorado, just back to work after breaking several ribs in a paceline crash, will see this ad and get it shown on CO TV.

This Cannondale urban bike is single-sided - at both ends!

Here's a short report on a limited production Cannondale urban bike, called an onBike. It is spec'd with a Lefty one-legged fork and a motorcycle-style single-sided rear end with the chain running inside it. I'd never seen anything like this, but I'm often the last to know. From

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's a sweet old dog....

In this chilly, longplaying Denver winter, I started walking for exercise. I guess I've been doing it for maybe six weeks now, walking between 20 and 25 miles each week. I walk on city streets and on the Cherry Creek bike path, where bicycle traffic has been thin. I like walking.

I'm more easily spooked than I was before my August '08 crash, but walking never scares me. I watch my neighbors at their irresponsible, callous worst. I don't get impatient or outraged. What they do doesn't threaten me. Walking gives me that blessed bit of distance.

Ah, but this past week, I'm back on the bike. It's just like it always was, at least in this Brave New Century.

Today, an old guy released his dog to run across the bike path right in front of a cyclist. I watched from behind the rider and it seemed close to me. Scary close.

The cyclist kept going but I stopped. I asked the old guy if I should call the cops, report him for a leash law violation. I said, your dog just ran across in front of that cyclist.

The old guy told me how ancient the dog is. The dog really had to go to the bathroom, he said, so I let him off the leash. That's illegal, I said, and he told me again about his sweet elderly dog. You can't let your dog run free on the bike path, I said. He told me how much he loves the old dog.

I realized I was wasting my time. I rode on and caught the guy who'd almost hit the dog. I asked him if he'd been scared. Nah, he said, and told me that dogs have to have fun too. He was as "whatever" a kinda guy as you'd ever meet. Doesn't worry about dogs on the bike path.

Is it just me, I wondered. If it isn't just me, why is there a leash law?

And why does the dog owner violate it and feel perfectly justified? Does he not sense what could happen? Does the dude riding no-hands and weaving through bike path traffic not sense what could happen? Do the guys in training ride pacelines passing skaters and dog walkers and cell phoners and homeless folks with grocery carts sense what could happen?

I realized first that I'd been free from those thoughts for weeks; I'd been a guy who goes for walks.

I realized second that when we propel ourselves at speeds from which we cannot stop instantly, or cannot stop really fast without the risk of falling down, we are dependent on everyone, every driver, dog walker, skater or cyclist, for our safety.

When we drive, we count on others to obey the rules, to stop at stop signs and lights, to signal turns, to hear sirens, to pay attention to what's happening...on and on. If people don't follow the rules, it won't work. We're all moving at lethal speed in a huge, badly choreographed ballet. It's a wonder anyone survives...or anyone's sanity survives.

If we thought about what we do, and the countless possibilities for disaster, could we do it?

The people we must depend on are overwhelmingly undependable and utterly uncaring about our well-being. If we say we are bothered by that, they will ask us what our problem is. They will do what they want, and if it threatens or scares us, we just have to deal with it.

Hey, it's a sweet old dog.

On the whole, I like walking. I only depend on me.

Maybe, as I continue to ride, I'll learn again to absorb all this cultural abuse. Like small doses of poison, it won't kill me. It's still poison, as you'll realize, and probably cumulative in effect. As the years pass, as population density increases, the recession deepens and social relationships grow less and less important to Americans, the dosages grow larger.

I'm sure walking is good for me. I'm far less sure about cycling.

What do you suppose happens to off-duty cops who get tickets for 2 1/2 times the limit?

A 33 year-old local patrolman in Gahanna, OH, and his 35 year-old Highway Patrolman buddy get busted (on their motorcycles) on I-70 east of town for a mere 150mph - in a 65 zone. Will they go to jail? Will they pay huge fines? Will they lose their guns 'n' badges? Find out here.

Bicycle Dreams - a trailer for a film about RAAM

Thanks to the ever-vigilant David S, here's a dramatic, professionally shot trailer for what I believe to be an upcoming movie, Bicycle Dreams, about the Race Across America. Takes three minutes to watch it - time well spent.

Google Maps - for cyclists!

Let's say I want to ride to my High School reunion in June and I'm not sure of a bike-friendly route from Denver to Indianapolis. I can go to Google Maps (they know I live in Denver), click on Get Directions and type in Indianapolis as my destination. If I select Bicycling in the window below, elaborate step-by-step directions for pedaling from here to there will appear on my screen.

In the old days, we'd "ask a bikie" for a good local route to wherever it was. Now we can get a cross country map and detailed instructions in seconds from our friends at Google. Is this cool...or what?

Starbucks at 39 years old: a midlife crisis?

Super interesting piece about Fourbucks (Thanks, Larry!) from

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Slow Bicycle Society

Here, from their web site, is the manifesto of the SBS, an organization evidently well supplied with sense of humor. Please read the short intro, then scroll past the unreadable green (in color) section, and read the text below. It's fun - and each statement is backed by solid research...well, maybe.

I suppose the anti-Lycra bias is inevitable in these sorts of statements, but Lycra clothing is no longer a reliable predictor of cyclist haste and irresponsibility, cough cough. The final statement, about a Slow Children Playing sign, is priceless.

Thanks once again to Mark M, who steered us toward Chris Johnson and thence to the SBS, quite probably the only recumbent-focused web site I'll visit today. Hey, I don't need a recumbent; I can ride plenty slow on my wedgie, as I demonstrate nearly every time I roll out.

Added later: Here's a link to what appears to be another slow cycling site, the Slow Bicycle Movement, supplied as clarification of their intent by the remarkable Mark M.

A charming TX blog post

Here, posted by Chris Johnson of Sanger TX, is his sad description of his coffeeshopless rides in the countryside. Click on the link. It'll take you to the comments. Scroll up to the post. You'll enjoy it; trust me.

Fine photos, well written text - brought to our attention by my old New Orleans friend Mark M, who is stranded in Dallas....but surrounded by coffeeshops. Lucky man.

Mark says Sanger is north of Dallas. Chris Johnson evidently belongs to something called Slow Bicycle. I'm not familiar with the organization, but my bike and I are working on the process.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Link to my latest Bicycle Paper piece

I've been contributing to the Pacific Northwest free bicycle pub, the Bicycle Paper, for what must be 15 years, give or take. I've written about all sorts of things for the BP in that time. This piece, written last fall, is about a guy with a rich fantasy life...

The BP is circulated in OR, WA and ID...and read by industry heavies elsewhere. I've been proud to be associated. Oh, the drawing is part of a David Brinton VeloNews cartoon that accompanied a piece about my father and me.

If you click on Archives at the top of the page, you can access old BP editions. In each you will find 1,000 words of my deathless masterpiece prose, handbuilt as the saying goes today, each word as carefully crafted and positioned as a Toyota gas pedal.

Rider vs driver offenses - should fines be equal?

A year ago, I began to see cyclists chatting on cell phones as they pedaled. Now I see cyclists riding no-hands, staring down at smart phones as they pedal.

In CA, where cell phone use in motorized motion is illegal, should cyclists be ticketed and penalties be the same as those of drivers - when the destructive potentials of their vehicles are so unequal?

I never saw any of this coming, frankly. Who'd have imagined no-hands bike riders, fixated on their phones - in bikepath traffic, around peds and stroller-pushers and crowds of schoolkids. Okay, they are probably not going to hit a school bus and cause a fiery disaster, but....

What is it about cycling that makes so many practitioners feel exempt from traffic laws and rules of courtesy? What about cycling makes so many cyclists so uncaring about the safety of others?

I drive a car. I ride a motorcycle. I ride a bicycle. I walk. I'm the same guy in whichever circumstance. I'm not cooler when I pedal. I'm not suddenly a saint or the savior of urban mankind when I ride my bicycle.

What is it about all this that escapes me?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Brendan and Tony - in San Marcos TX - halfway there!

Brendan is between San Antonio and Austin on his way to Saint Augustine FL. Evidently something out there in Texas provoked him to reflect on his life then - and his life now. From passing-out drunk to pedaling across the country, this is a stellar short essay. If you haven't been following Brendan and his Iowa friend Tony, here's a sample of what you've been missing.

A terrific gallery of photos, many b/w, most abt cycling

Here, thanks to eagle-eyed David S, is Timm Kolln's photo gallery. It's a bit of effort scrolling up and down and back and forth to see all the photos, but any single section justifies the clicking and scrolling. The Winter Ride shots of Juan Antonio Flecha alone.... And the smoldering portrait of Alberto Contador.... Wonderful stuff! Thanks, David!