Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wednesday Musette

The cops!

Stephen wrote:

Good move, but I would have gotten her license plate number and let the county sheriff take care of her later.

I've had Tulsa PD talk to one a**h*le who pulled up beside me while I was on the Third Street Bike Route and started cussing me and wanting to fight. I won't put up with that kind of behavior.

I've had wildly varying success in dealing with local law enforcement agencies. Most of the time, individual cops & their supervisors have been reasonable & open minded enough to realize they often are not up-to-date on relevant cycling laws.

Sadly, both Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz and TCSO deputy Mark Stephens (sp?) do not know the law, nor are they interested in learning about it. This is the deputy who stopped me last summer for 'impeding' traffic. He tried to harass and intimidate me in an effort to get me off 129th Street. I didn't play.

Another cyclist, a law enforcement officer, said he was once forced off the road by a TCSO vehicle on the Wednesday night ride.

So I don't have much regard for TCSO.

On the other hand, I've had good contacts with police departments in Glenpool, Tulsa, and Owasso. In a few instances, individual officers tried to enforce non-existent laws; mandatory side paths and single-file riding, for example. And in one incident, a local cycling advocate was told he had to ride in the gutter. But these are rare. More importantly, the chiefs of police have been genuinely helpful at getting up-to-date information to their officers. This kind of educational approach takes time (and tact - something I could do better!) but it pays off better than an angry, confrontational one.

Cycling clothes

The Old Bag wrote:

Left-clippers of the cycloworld, unite! You and me, baby.

And I chose to experience a week in the Canadian Rockies using a long-sleeved cotton T-shirt...rainclearrainclearrain which finally convinced me that jerseys actually have a pretty functional purpose. Sometimes one has to experience it before becoming a convert.

I think I bought a pair of gloves for my first cycling-specific clothing. In those days, I rode in cut-offs and t-shirts. Now, if I
wore cut-offs to ride, I'd be very sore, very quickly. I must have been a hard-ass in my youth!

I avoid cotton because I sweat buckets. My daughter told me that dancers glow, ladies perspire, and I just smell bad. Honestly, though I've used the 'thermally efficient' line once or twice already, it really is true. Big guys sweat buckets. Even when it's below freezing, I arrive at work just a little damp. This makes me a prime target for hypothermia if I break down, of course, but I'm rarely far from shelter.

Cycling clothing has several functions. First, it makes riding much more comfortable. Shorts reduce chafing. Gloves absorb vibration, let you brush debris from moving tires, protect the hands in a fall, and sometimes give you a place to wipe your nose. (Wash them regularly, please!) Cycling shoes with their stiff midsoles allow you to push much harder on a climb or in a sprint, without bending your foot around a pedal. Sprinting in sneakers can result in interesting levels of pain and maybe a letter from the Department of Funny Walks!

I haven't mentioned jerseys because they're often the last article we buy - or at least that was true for me. They're expensive, but once you start using one, you can't imagine going without it. One other thing - when you have 2 jerseys and you hang them in a dark closet, they breed like rabbits and produce offspring in an eye-searing variety of colors! Remember this when your spouse or significant other asks where they came from.

Finally, a word about helmets. I really hesitate to do this because I'm not trying to provoke the anti-helmet zealots. Helmets are a good thing to have AFTER something bad has happened. In other words, they're meant to protect you in a crash, but as I always point out to students, it's far better to avoid crashing in the first place. Sometimes you can't, of course, but one of the justifications for bicycling education is to turn out safer, more experienced cyclists who are less likely to become a statistic.

Anyway. Back to helmets. For commuters, they offer another surface for reflective tape. They protect against some types of falls but not all. They have no magic properties (that I'm aware of, anyway.) And helmets cost far less than a CAT scan or a set of x-rays. (Been there!) And if a helmet has a visor, it can keep some of the rain off of your glasses.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Karl wrote:

I just stumbled across this at PWC's online store and remembered reading this post yesterday. Enjoy:

That’s FUNNY!

I’ve probably mentioned that I work for an airline. We had the FAA on the base for an inspection last week. They do this periodically and we always try to present the best front we can, so the techs spent a day cleaning up, throwing out old junk, and making sure our paperwork was up-to-date and in order. Actually, we probably spent most of our time cleaning, because the FAA can drop in at any time. They can check our test equipment and go through our toolboxes and our workbenches. Everything has to be labeled.

You may find this hard to believe, but for some strange reason, I was overcome by a crazy idea. I labeled one of my bench drawers with “Weapons of Mass Destruction (and Tools)” figuring that since these guys are from the federal government, there was absolutely no chance that they’d look in that drawer.

And they didn’t!


Blogger Coelecanth said...

I hit my head in last summer, the first time in around 20 years of bike commuting. As I lay on the ground making sure my wiggly bits still wiggled and my non-wiggly bits didn't, I added up all the money I'd spent on helmets in that time. The $800 or so was worth every penny. An impression confirmed when I saw the three gravel dents on the side of the helmet that could have been in my skull. Mind you, your point about avoiding crashes being the best way to avoid a concussion is a very good one.

There's a saying in mountaineering circles: "Cotton kills." It really is the worst choice for next to skin applications when exercising in the cold.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Fritz said...


Fossil-fish, you hit your head while wearing a helmet, but how do you know the helmet actually prevented any damage (other than, perhaps some abrasion to the scalp)?

I'm not a anti-helmet zealot -- I in fact wear one regularly while cycling and tell my children to wear a helmet -- but the fact that you hit your head and didn't get damaged while wearing your helmet provides absolutely zero evidence that the helmet was in any way effective in preventing any damage.

Cotton vs plastic

The drawback with plastic -- even modern polyester fabrics -- is that they retain stink. But yeah, I usually wear plastic clothes even for my short 6 mile commute.

Gloves and tire wiping

Whoa, somebody who still wipes tires! You realize you're going against the edict of Pope Jobst Brandt, don't you?

5:16 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I've destroyed 2 helmets in crashed, one of them bad enough to give me a concussion and some seizures. Like I said, they aren't magic, and they cannot protect against every type of fall, but they do offer some protection. When summertime temperatures here exceed 100F, I'm very tempted to ride without one.

As for brushing debris from my tires - I'm a RETROGROUCH! We do things like that because we CAN!

Actually, I try to ride in the right hand tire track most of the time because car tires brush it clean. I don't get many flats.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Coelecanth said...

Fritz: There's some evidence (the scientific kind) to suggest that helmets don't do much to protect against concussion, fair enough. Indeed, in this crash I saw a bright white flash and was woozy for a couple of days, definite signs of brain shloshing. That said, there was also three distinct depressions on the side of the helmet that weren't there before the crash. They weren't caused by abrasion because I didn't slide.* If my naked skull had struck the objects that caused those depressions I would have been injured. Seriously? I have no idea, but they're deep enough to make me very grateful for that helmet.

I'm aware that anecdotal evidence is not proof, especially to a third party. I'm also aware that helmets aren't magic, my policy is to always wear one and ride like I'm not.

This whole discussion has got me curious, what scientific edvidence for and against bike helmets is there? The only helmet study I've read was on rugby players and dealt solely with concussion.

*I didn't go into details because it's embarrasing, but for the sake of my arugement here it is:

I was going downhill, the cyclometer said I'd peaked at 40something km/hr. I needed to make a right angle turn into an ally. I was braking hard and didn't release before throwing the bike into the turn. (That's the embarassing part, a real rookie mistake.) The result was a conversion of all of my forward momentum into sideways; I flopped over like a poleaxed wildebeast. I had bruising on shoulder and hip but had no road rash at all, I simply hit and stuck.

Not that it's relevant, but I did obey The Third Law of Dumbass Crashes. There was indeed an attractive member of the opposite sex there to witness my stupidity. :)

Oh, and syntetics stink, no question. Secretly I kinda enjoy it as tangible proof I was working hard.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I like the Third Law of Dumbass Crashes! I'll have to write womthing about that.

Now, as to synthetics stinkin'. You probably won't be surprised to find that I'm as interested in the obscure, gross-out parts of the human body. In fact, I have the brain of a twelve-year-old. I keep it in a jar under my desk. (With apologies to Ray Bradbury, who thought of it first!)

There's a multitude of flora and fauna on on in the human body, and our relationship with them is fascinating. But the cause of the stink on synthetic fibers is a fungus tat thrives on the warmth and moisture near our skin. Washing doesn't remove it. When we wear a freshly laundered pile sweater, the fungi grow rapidly.

But there's a solution. Wash the garments in a detergent that contains borax. It won't remove the fungi entirely, but it does retard their growth, allowing you to wear the garment longer before developing that funky smell. (Unless you really LIKE that smell, of course!)

7:01 PM  
Blogger Coelecanth said...

And the comment string continues! Good advice on the borax, didn't know that.

A word of warning though, if you add borax seperately in powder form you should dissove it first in a cup of warm water. We were adding it to our wash straight out of the box and it clogged up the washer's filter system.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Fritz said...

I'll have to remember that about Borax. Can you still buy straight borax?

Coelo: Did the crash witness render appropriate comfort and aid for your injuries?

2:17 PM  

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