Friday, April 30, 2010

From Slate: handdrawn maps

Here's a charming Slate piece about maps from your grandmother and general frustration with online maps. Are online maps useful? Will the blower on the wall in a public restroom dry your hands?

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Here, from todays NY Times, is Timothy Egan's take on the goings-on in the Grand Canyon State.

Even now, after seven months of winter, as Tamar and I gaze at the snow falling outside our window in latest April, we would not move back to Arizona. Bisbee, charming, old hippie town Bisbee, well maybe. Big city Arizona.... No way. There's a there there, and it sucks.

Naomi Klein's No Logo is 10 years old....

...and has just been republished with a new introduction by the author. Here's a piece about the ripples from Klein's throwing of No Logo into the corporate waters. She made us all aware of "branding." Did it do any good?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What is "Bike Culture?" After the conference, we'll know.

Again, from the NY Times City Room (March 30th): A May 5th conference of experts of one stripe or another will try to answer cycling's big questions. Might be fun to be there. Might be deadly boring. Be fun to read about though, I'd say.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Troop Therapy - a young life in the Boy Scouts

I guess this is a book review, written by the famous Paul Theroux, but it's really a tale of his formative years in the Scouts. And his suggestion that if the Boy Scouts are for all boys, there's room for gays and "out" atheists too.

Not typical fare here on my blog page, but a delightful piece by a great writer. I'm proud to suggest such a terrific article. Enjoy.

After all, how many bicycle advocacy pieces can I link to here anyway before my blog becomes a sure cure for insomnia?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cycling in NYC: "a mainstream mode of travel"

Here, from the NY Times City Room, is statistical proof that more people are commuting in NY City, more than 200,000 people daily, up substantially even from last year. Encouraging stuff. More bike lanes, some say, have done the trick.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Denver B-cycle - from up close

This morning, my friends Tom and Amy and I used Denver's new B-cycle bikeshare bikes to do a little ride in the city. To use a bike, you join the program online. A year's membership is about $60, shorter ones are less. You sign up with a credit card or depending on the length of your membership, you are mailed a B-cycle card.

You swipe the card in the kiosk (35 presently in Denver, 15 more to come) and slide a bike out of the rack. If you ride it for 30 minutes or less, there's no charge. If you ride it longer, B-cycle will charge your card per hour or full day.

There are 500 identical red bikes. They're three-speeds with a grip-style shifter on the right grip. They have internal (hub) brakes, unfazed by rain; generator hubs; bells and big baskets (20lb capacity) in front with cable locks in them.

Supposedly, if you clip the end of the cable in the slot provided, the coiled cable will hold your coffee cup!

The seatposts are long and easy to adjust for height. They're marked - so you can set yours correctly in an instant after the first time you borrow a bike.

The handlebars are covered as is most of the chain, and there's a skirt-guard for heavensakes. The kickstand is two-legged and stable like a motorcycle centerstand. It's easy to put the bike up on it.

The B-cycles just glide along, silent and smooth. The three ratios seem ideally chosen, unlike old three-speeds of my experience. These bikes appear to be perfectly suited for their purpose - nothing about using them is scary or less then perfectly intuitive. They're cool.

Amy took the above photo of the dashingly handsome blogger.

As Tom says, these B-cycles aren't for those of us who have bikes or always want to ride our Cervelos. They're for folks who hadn't even imagined themselves on bikes. And for whom the experience of riding may be fun, empowering...and enlightening. Let's hope so anyway....

Added later: Here's a link to a James Huang article on Denver's new bikesharing program. It'll reflect a few of the comments I made but Huang will tell you about B-cycle in much greater depth. Worth reading!

From the Prescott AZ Daily Courier - a plea for civility

This is a guest column from Lisa Barnes, an alternative transportation activist in Prescott. Many consider that community a kind of paradise but it's evidently bicycle-unfriendly. What a surprise. Barnes tells a few sad and sour stories about motorists who just don't get it, and seems to doubt that they ever will....

Not alone in that pessimistic viewpoint, is she?

Oh, maybe you're not pessimistic. You missed the comments appended to Barnes' piece.

Oprah: Don't text and drive....

Here, from today's NY Times Op-Ed section, is Oprah Winfrey on cell phone driver distraction.

Those of us who walk and ride bicycles and motorcycles, vulnerable as we are to motorists who aren't paying attention, will be pleased that Oprah has weighed-in against this craziness. The article, as you'll see, is written for drivers who may be tempted to distract themselves from the task at hand - driving.

And we'd never do that. We've got our priorities straight behind the wheel. Right?

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Mullin Automotive Museum, from the NY Times

Here's a short article about the Oxnard, CA, museum celebrating French Art Deco automobiles - and a breathtaking slide show of some of the exhibits. Feast your eyes.... I can't even pick a favorite.

The Simple Life, an essay....

Here, from In Character online, is a charming essay about the Simplicity Movement. It sounds like a fine trend...if you can afford it. Charlotte Allen wrote it. I think you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are there really no hipsters in China?

From Slate, thanks to Addison W, here's a fun and well written answer to that question.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

And on the other foot, something useful from the NY Times

From the Times' Frugal Traveler, 1,000 bits of information on sourcing a bike - when you need one.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We'll feature any-damn-thing!

Here, from, a site I check out nearly every day, is a short blurb about a pair of....wait for it....fixed gear shoes - "for when you need to look sharp." No price is listed for these flat-soled fixed gear shoes, suitable for use with toe clips, BikeRadar reports. No price...but they're probably not cheap. Whattaya think?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bike-sharing in Denver on the grand scale!

The article says the new citywide bike-sharing scheme, called B-Cycle, here in Denver is the grandest in the US. We're seeing B-Cycle stations dotting the cityscape now. I'm not sure if the system is operating at this time, but it's easy enough to find out. I'll check and let you know.

Well, I've been to the site and I'm still not sure. Maybe some of the stations are operating. Fees seem reasonable, the bikes are Trek urban models with front baskets and generator hubs. Jeez, team, I hope this works!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ah, America....

Is it an ad? Or a report? Or maybe a press release?

In the magazine business, we used to count pages of paid advertising vs pages of text to see if a publication was healthy.

Now, if we go to our favorite cycling web sites and count the news stories, they are mostly reports on some new item or service WE CAN BUY, or tests among multiple items WE CAN BUY.

All those reports and tests, 95% raves, are favors for manufacturers or marketers who advertise on the site. They repeat the claims the sellers make about their products.

In print media days, regurgitating press releases was lame and would be flagged by the editor so the reader was sure to know that he wasn't reading a staffer's opinion or conclusion, he was reading what the maker or marketer had to say about his own product.

Like kids in Lake Wobegon, if you ask the folks behind the scenes at the brand, all their products are above average....

Maybe readers are skeptical and cynical today. Maybe they expect this hype masquerading as legitimate journalism. Once a month publication dates are history, huh? Gotta find content somewhere....

Dutch dude with Parkinson's can't walk - rides his bike!

From BikeRadar, a remarkable heartwarming story. Maybe it IS all about the bike....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bicycling Magazine's awards: bikes and shorts

Let's make lots of categories so we can award lots of plaques, you can hear the editors saying. Let's make categories where none existed, even in the minds of thoroughgoing geeks.

Let's have a category for "Best Plush (racing) Bike!" Let's have enough categories so we don't leave out a single major advertiser! Think of a new category and we'll give YOU an award!

I felt bad about this post, falling as it does just after the Old Farts Ride post - close to my heart, that one. But life goes on, and the awards just keep on comin'. Why just last week, it was the Best Cycling Cities in America!

Who wins in this business? Plaque-makers, I'd say. Having said that, I note belatedly that Trek is missing from the awards. Eleven categories of bicycles and no mention of Trek.

Isn't that special?

Friday, April 16, 2010

The NorCal Old Farts Ride - photos new and old

Three unidentified guys at the Stockton (CA) Time Trial in 1969. Maybe they're George Lucas, Harrison Ford and Ron Howard! American Grafitti cycling-style.... Oh, before you ask, I have never seen a roof rack like that one.

Here, presented thanks to Vance Vaughn in a way we had never experienced, are hundreds of photos of '60s and '70s northern California bike racers and races - all in one place. The old shots are identified by the event and year; the new ones are of the annual Old Farts Ride reunions, held at the homes of genuine bike racing Old Farts.

I have been included in this bunch for decades although I was a relative latecomer to bike racing, riding my first races in 1976, I think. In the '60s I was busy riding motorcycles. Bicycles were those pesky wobbling things always in my way in the apexes of crucial turns on scenic routes.

When you look at the new shots, the reunion shots, you will see old dudes and women, many in their old wool cycling clothing. They will look past-it, as the Brits say, ancient wrinkled veterans of silly wars on back roads that are now commute routes for smart-phoners making their own marks in the world.

When you look at those old dudes and women, you are looking at cycling's elite of the era - state and national road, time trial and track champions, Olympic team riders, cycling authors and journalists and columnists and historians. You're looking at wonderful framebuilders and Tour and Paris-Roubaix mechanics.

Many of the people in these old photos were and are my heroes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

From the Guardian: At the Crown Plaza in Copenhagen.... can pedal a stationary bicycle, generating electricity to run the hotel. If you generate a certain amount of juice, you are rewarded with a free meal! Is this cool or what....

Ray LaHood, suggesting that cyclists and peds should have a voice in transportation matters: What nerve!

From the Associated Press, here's a report on the backlash from LaHood's speaking up for you and me. Evidently, as the old saying goes, we have the best government money can buy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Slowly Fading Cult of the Bike Messenger?

Well, I guess it had to happen. Here, from the NY Times, is the sad news. Oh, I'm known as Maynard on street corners and in skateboard parks all over Denver.

Probably ya gotta walk the walk, huh?

From the NY Daily She says she wants us out of our cars, but she arrives at our meetings in a limo! What kind of zealot is that?

The Tour de France "devil" a Thriller

Here, from James Raia's Cycling Examiner, is the latest escapade of the famous Tour "devil," the German gentleman who suits up like the devil and waves his pitchfork at Tour riders and fans.

You'll never believe what he's up to this year....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Anonymous comments online?

"...anonymity has made comment streams “havens for a level of crudity, bigotry, meanness and plain nastiness that shocks the tattered remnants of our propriety.”

Here's the link. It's a NY Times piece: News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Saxo Bank team experiencing the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix

Here's a shot, nicely shot video of the Saxo Bank professional cycling team taking a from-the-saddle look at the pave, or cobbled roads, that they'll be racing on this weekend in the Paris-Roubaix Classic.

Thanks, David S!

Thursday, April 8, 2010 in Qatar, following the money with the Fiat-Yamaha team

Here's David Emmett of super motorcycle racing web site, traveling with the Fiat-Yamaha MotoGP racing team in Qatar. This post is almost entirely about Qatar, big money sports and major team sponsorship. And the Fiat 500....

You don't have to know anything about motorcycle racing except that two of MotoGP's biggest stars, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, ride for Fiat-Yamaha. Rossi is one of the worlds most prominent sports personalities.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Veterinary prof hit in No. Colorado: A warning....

This piece talks about a professor from Colorado State University who was hit by a driver as she turned onto the road he was riding.

Here's my take: Because lane discipline is as dead as Elvis, drivers start their left turns early, steer across the oncoming lane and into the intersecting road ON THE WRONG SIDE. If you happen to be coming to a stop in that intersecting road, they will take you out.

That's how my neighbor took me out in Tucson, a half block from Tamar's and my house. The crash totaled my lovely Kawasaki. She was in a hurry, she said.

Had I hugged the curb, the left side of her car would have missed me, but I was in the middle of my lane. If I'd been on my bicycle, I feel sure she'd have hit me and knocked me down just the same.

I sense that this post needs a moral or a conclusion, but I'm fresh out. Let's be careful out there.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Another step in the right direction - toward what THIS American wants.

David S, ever watchful for provocative post material, forwards this - from the Seattle Police Blotter of all places. The Seattle cops state unequivocally that they will not tolerate aggressive driving. No way, no how. Zero tolerance. Aw right.

The Transportation Secretary on What Americans Want.

Here's a NY Times interview with Ray LaHood, our national transportation secretary, on why he spoke up in favor of more support for walking and cycling, and why the reaction has been so severe.

LaHood and the Obama administration are taking America, critics say, in the wrong direction.

This is probably one of the most important interviews cyclists will read this year.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why don't more women ride? from Seattle's Publicola

I feel terrible that writer Josh Cohen has sold his fixie, but I read the piece anyway. Interesting article, fascinating comments. Worthwhile, I'd say....

Friday, April 2, 2010

From the NY Times Freakonomics: Life and Death in the Fast Lane

Here's a quote from the first paragraph:

"Which has received more media coverage: 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined; or the repeal of the nationwide 55 mph speed limit? You probably guessed the former. But there’s a good case to be made that the answer should be the speed limit. Why?"

How much faster do we really go when the limit is raised? How many more of us are killed in accidents because of higher road speeds? What happens to fuel mileage...?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

YouTube video: Pre Tour of Flanders excitement

There's no bike racing in this video. It's an ad for the Tour of Flanders by the sponsoring newspaper. But it captures the excitement in Belgium as the time approaches....

Thanks once again to David S, who apparently sees all. Oh, I watched this with the sound off (Tamar's doing schoolwork) so I missed that aspect. It was great as a silent film.

Timothy Egan in the Times re: Playing at Tragedy

Tim Egan and David Brooks are my favorite (male) NY Times opinion columnists. I've read two of Egan's books, one (The Worst Hard Time) about the Dust Bowl, the other (The Big Burn) about the great Rocky Mountain fires in the early 20th Century.

This is Egan talking about his friend John Rudolf, old enough one would suppose to ease up a bit, but bent on climbing yet another mountain, this time Everest. In the article, Egan describes his friend's cycling life. David S, do you know this guy?

VeloNews reader alert!

Bear in mind, as you read the news stories in VN this morning, that it is April 1st, observed for years in that fine print and online publication as April Fools Day. Contador is probably not suffering from an overuse injury in his "shooting" hand, and Patrick O'Grady will probably not edit a VN satellite touring magazine.

On the other hand, this blog has no opinion about the item in today's Cycling Examiner suggesting that Lance Armstrong may purchase a home in Nevada City CA, home of the NC Classic and start city for this year's Tour of California. And a pretty cool town, in this blogger's view.