Sunday, January 30, 2011

Some days are just, well, special....

Here's a comment to an older post, the one about the prizefighter hit and killed by a van while cycling in London:

henry has left a new comment on your post "Buncha pansy ballet dancers....":

"Talking of pansy ballet dancers, you should go re-read your own hissy whine regarding your inability to guilt Duane into reworking your /5 BMW. Your panties were too tight then, and old age has not worked them any looser. Sad little man."

henry, thanks for writing. Happy New Year to you and yours, whoever and wherever you are.

For clarification, I didn't ask Duane to rework my BMW; I asked him to fix it and charge me. It threw me in the freeway at high speed as many of them did. Duane, a professional BMW mechanic, was the only guy anyone knew of who claimed to know how to fix them. I didn't try to guilt him into doing his job; I asked him to do it for pay, as he advertised he would. He refused.

I can't imagine what that story has to do with cyclists being called pansy ballet dancers. I think it has more to do with some grudge you've been holding against me for pointing an accusing finger at one of your heroes.

I did point that finger, and I put my name on the story. I'm never anonymously critical. Unlike, dear henry, your worthy self.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Car pooling and the buffalo....

Here, from the NY Times, a piece about the decline of car sharing. In reading this, particularly the figures about the increase in the number of cars - it outstrips the increase in population - it's hard to deny that we're getting what we deserve. Maybe it's the same worldwide, but I don't know that. I do know that we're spoiled beyond redemption.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Peter Yates, RIP

Englishman Peter Yates, director of Bullitt, Breaking Away and The Friends of Eddie Coyle, has died.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Martin Erzinger, the Vail hitter/runner, bobs and weaves

A bullet Mr. Erzinger richly deserves. Here's Al Lewis in the Denver Post, on Erzinger's "Pattern of running from responsibility...."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Buncha pansy ballet dancers....

Well, except for this guy maybe. My first link to Here's further coverage from

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hi David! Hi Corey! Part One

This two-part column from the January 2011 CityBike (motorcycle magazine) is a record of an online conversation among my buddies David, Corey and me. Part Two will appear next month. Part One begins with a note from me to David and Corey:

Hi guys!
As I talk with friends here, I realize that, unlike them, I interpret peoples' acts as purposeful. We were talking about people who continue driving at the speed limit in the lane that ends in 100 yards, ignoring the Lane Ends signs as if they did not see them. Then they cut-in back into the continuing lane at the last moment, getting ahead of six or eight cars by doing so.

Or people who stop their cars across the pedestrian crosswalk as you step into the street. Quiet street, one car, one pedestrian. As those drivers watch for an opportunity to enter the intersection, they pretend they don't see you, your progress blocked by their vehicle.

It's my conviction that those drivers know exactly what they're doing, though most would deny it. They know they're pushy and self-important. They don't care. They feel anonymous in their cars. They wouldn't do it in a movie line or at the bank where they can be confronted about their impatience and audacity.

My friends say that those people are oblivious, only thinking about getting to work. They're not jerks. Oh, maybe they're the least bit selfish or Type-A. They're just drivers, my friends insist, who figure everyone would do the same given the same pressures, real or imagined. If we told those drivers that people see them as taking advantage, the drivers would say that couldn't be true. Take advantage? Me? No way.

If we believe that people are often oblivious, those drivers are off the hook. They didn't realize. Seemed okay to them, what they did. They were just driving to work. By extension, if they blow through an intersection just after the yellow and something happens, or if they turn left across someone's path and something happens, those occasions are called accidents.

No one's fault, really. Just driving to work. Mistakes are made. Doesn't make me a bad person or bad driver.

I'm not going for it. I don't believe people just go through the motions in life, on autopilot, just mindlessly driving to work. I believe they know what they're doing and make serial decisions about what to do next. I think that's what separates us from the animals. When I see someone riding a bicycle the wrong way on the wrong side of a busy urban one-way street, I assume that person chose to do that very thing.

I don't believe he or she lacked education or "just didn't know any better." Everyone knows better. The arrows point the opposite way.

It's easy to plead inattention afterward. It's easy to say, oh I didn't realize or I didn't see him or her, but those are cheap excuses, my dog ate my homework kinda excuses. Unlike teachers who've heard it too many times, we let people lie to us and cut them endless slack. We make it easy for them to make those excuses, to tell us convenient, glib lies.

They tell untruths or omit the truth - and insult us by expecting us to believe them. We say, oh, man, your dog ate your term paper. Sucks, dude.

I think the contrast between how my friends feel and how I feel reveals a basic philosophical difference about how we think about other people. Maybe it's driver thinking versus pedestrian/cyclist/motorcyclist thinking. Help me understand this....

your friend                 Maynard

From David:
I appreciate your example of someone trying to get a few car-lengths advantage. I see it frequently. It's everyday driver behavior. Of course it's conscious, deliberate behavior. As you say, "people know what they're doing and make serial decisions about what to do next. I think that's what separates us from the animals." Those serial decisions are how we put one foot in front of the other.

Another thing separating us from the animals is our ability to come up with reasons for just about anything we do and actually believe those reasons. Your friends seem to believe that obliviousness is a reason. Because you can say that doesn't make it true. It's nonsense to say, "People are oblivious and are only thinking about getting to work." 

Humans aren't oblivious. Humans are selfish, greedy, inconsiderate. Obliviousness is the result not the reason. Maynard, I'm sure your friends are nice folks and good friends so please forgive me if I'm coming across harshly.
your friend          David

From Corey:
Thanks for sending those notes. I've read them a few times and I'm not sure how to respond. They point out to me how differently people view the world. Or maybe not so much view the world, as relate to the world. You and David are discussing the intentions and motivations of complete strangers. Without communicating with them, how can you really know? You can only make assumptions and projections.

My view is: What difference does it make what their motivations or intentions are? Their actions may have an impact on me, but my response doesn't really depend on their motivation.

If they cut me off in an oblivious or impolite way, I can assume that they saw me and that it was intentional. If that's the case, I do what? Flip them off? Confront them? Politely ask them to be more careful next time? I don't think any of those options will change their behavior.

If I assume they did not see me, then evidently they are just poor drivers, distracted or not paying attention. Do I yell at them and tell them to get smarter? I wish such drivers were not on the road, but they are.

I assume they're all rude, preoccupied or oblivious. I ride as if I were invisible. I expect drivers to do the most dangerous, bone-headed thing they can possibly do under the circumstances and I prepare myself. That way, I'm pleasantly surprised when they don't screw up - or ready when they do.

To me, they're just like buoys torn loose from their moorings, navigational hazards which can kill me, regardless of their motivation or mindset. I try not to see their souls or understand their urges, I just give them wide berth. It keeps my blood pressure lower if I treat them as objects rather than individuals.

Having said that, as I think about it, sometimes when I see some cretin trying to jump the line, I intentionally close the gap on him to show him that not ALL the other drivers are saps. Sometimes his little ploy won't work. Hey, I try to be above it all, but nobody's perfect.

your friend                Corey

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

From the Guardian in the UK; How we think of our cycling....

This piece is ostensibly about cycle training for kids but it goes all over the map - and then there are the terrific comments! The gist: Kids think of bikes as fun, platforms for skids 'n' wheelies. We boring adults think of health and safety.

Thanks, Donald!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hey! Whereya been?

Okay, I know...I've not stuck a new post on here since Christmastime. And I certainly haven't ridden my bike since well before Christmas, maybe not in the month of December. Not that it's been pleasant bicycle weather here in Denver. But still.

As a few of you know, I've been struggling a bit with cycling. My riding is solo, predictable and unsatisfying. My writing about cycling has been bitchy, curmudgeonly. I'm not convinced that I've become bitchy and curmudgeonly in a global sense; my motorcycle writing is healthy. I find joy in motorcycling.

I seldom find joy in my bicycling.

I remember too well what cycling was like back when, when we rode in communities of riders. When saying you were a bike rider said a lot about who you were. When you couldn't imagine you wouldn't be a rider for life.

When I moved away from the Bay Area in 1997, I lost that community. I have worked to find it again and failed. I've been riding my bike most days since then, and occasionally, I have done delightful rides. Not very damned often.

On my undelightful rides these days, I sit and pedal and watch what happens on the bike paths; almost none of it pleases me. I go home and write sad tales, the ravings of an embittered old man.

Because this blog has focused on the bicycling side of my life rather than the motorcycling side, I have felt reluctant to post my thoughts, reluctant to share the shadow that has fallen over my cycling. Long ago I began providing links to articles I found interesting rather than disappoint my readers with my own somber thoughts.

I believe I'm passing through some phase, a senior crisis for chrissakes maybe. I can still get excited about doing some epic ride months from now, but I can't force myself to take my bike down off the hooks and ride it today, though I've been doing just that for 35 years. And never imagined I'd quit.

Tamar and I have been talking about this. Maybe I have to break old habits and drive our car to remote areas and ride there. Maybe I can find some of the old feeling. Or make some new cycling friends. Maybe maybe.

I'll try to post more faithfully and more personally than I have for a year or so. If you live in the Pacific NW, I'll surely write about my plight in the Bicycle Paper. If you don't, look for a link to my BP pieces here.

Thanks for reading, as sad Tyler Hamilton used to say at the end of his reports. If you sometimes or always feel the same way I do, please don't hesitate to comment on this page. Remember, your comments are blind: your email address is not supplied to me. Mine is