Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday Musette 3FEB2006

Birthday Grrl

My daughter just turned eighteen this week. She's a senior in high school, and it appears that her busy social schedule will continue through the end of the school year. But that's the long-term forecast. In the short term, she's having a birthday party tomorrow. We'll have fifteen teenagers in our house - eight of them teenage boys. It may be a good evening for cleaning guns and sharpening knives, but somehow I suspect She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and her eighteen-year-old understudy will forbid it.

Pray for my sanity.

Thunderhead Alliance

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) has a piece about Bike Planet donating $100,000 to Thunderhead Alliance. So I went to Bike Planet's advocacy webpage. There's a list of sponsors for the latest TA retreat, and it looks like a Who's Who of the bicycle industry. This brings an inevitable question. Who does Thunderhead Alliance represent, bicyclists or bicycle businesses? Make no mistake about this - it's very hard to run a large organization on the income from individual memberships. For that matter, it's hard to run even a small one. So there's a natural tendency to look for the big-buck sponsorships that can come only from industry. In an advocacy group, the questions must be asked - how much influence comes with big donations, and is that influence necessarily aligned with the goals of the members?

Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship

Here's an IMBA story about the Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship getting sued over a loose board on a bridge. A rider claims he was injured after hitting that loose board on a trail bridge maintained by OEF in a public park. Naturally, this could have a chilling effect on volunteers maintaining any facilities on public land. Still, this is far from settled, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Fixed Gear Donation

I have a very nice fixed-gear conversion on the repair stand right now. Rod Harwood donated it to the Tulsa Community Cycling Project. But I wouldn't want to put a novice cyclist on a fixed-gear, and I don't think it would be appropriate for one of the social services clients, so it will likely be put up for sale after I finish overhauling it. That's one thing I really like about a fixie - very low maintenance. This one has a Sanshin front hub (Sunshine, in the old days) with sealed bearings. The rear one is an older Campy road hub, and the wheel has been re-dished for fixed use. The crank is a Shimano and I don't know about the bottom bracket. I haven't gotten that far into it yet.

Sure, this bike is a hodge-podge of parts, but it's a nicer hodge-podge than my fixed gear commuter! The only bad points (so far) are the absence of a seat post, saddle, and binder bolt, and the old, dry rotted tires. I found a proper binder bolt in my junk box, and I'm sure if I look around long enough, I may have a seat post and saddle for it too.

With all those teenagers in the house tomorrow, I just may try to hide out in the garage.

Road Bike Rider Newsletter

This is an excerpt from the latest Road Bike Rider newsletter. It arrives via e-mail every Thursday - mostly - and it always has something good to read. This week, there's a bit about the negative effects of caffeine. Those of you who've read CycleDog regularly know that I'm definitely addicted to the bean, and I'm not likely to stop or even cut back on my coffee!

Here's a link to the on-line edition. From there you can subscribe if you want to:

Could Caffeine Be Ineffective (or Worse)?
Who you gonna believe? For decades, caffeine has been touted as a legal performance enhancer and used by countless athletes.

Now comes a study that says caffeine may impair peak heart function.

As reported in the Jan. 17 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 18 young, healthy volunteers were tested on stationary bikes after taking the caffeine equivalent (200 mg) of two cups of coffee.

Result: The caffeine dose did not affect blood flow within the heart while the participants were at rest. However, blood-flow measurements taken immediately after exercise were 22% lower. And they were 39% lower in participants that were tested in a chamber that simulated high altitude.

Explained Philipp A. Kaufmann, MD, one of the researchers, "Whenever we do a physical exercise, myocardial blood flow has to increase in order to match the increased need of oxygen. We found that caffeine may adversely affect this mechanism. It partly blunts the needed increase in flow."

He noted that the study was not designed to measure athletic performance, but the findings indicate that caffeine may be ineffective or even counterproductive for that purpose.

"We now have good evidence that, at the level of myocardial blood flow, caffeine is not a useful stimulant," Dr. Kaufmann said. "It may be a stimulant at the cerebral level in terms of being more awake and alert, which may subjectively give the feeling of having better physical performance. But I now would not recommend that any athlete drink caffeine before sports. It may not be a physical stimulant, and may even adversely affect physical performance."

Dr. Kaufmann added that the study raises special concerns for people with heart disease. "Any advice would be based on results of healthy volunteers and would be a bit speculative. Nevertheless, my advice [for those with coronary artery disease] would be: Do not drink coffee before doing physical activities."


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