Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bike Friday Fixed

Bike Friday is offering a fixed gear! This may not be news to many of you, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it in the latest catalog when it arrived today. The webpage has photos of Walter's truly lovely ride. It looks simple, sleek, and very quick!

The Truth Is Way Out There...

Zombies in the streets!
This is a true story. It was suppressed by the government and the media. No one has had the courage to tell the truth about it. Until now.

It started innocently enough. People developed mild, flu-like symptoms that passed in a few days. Many didn't even miss work since all they had was a little coughing and a sore throat. Over-the-counter medicines helped enormously.

As usual, the elderly and infirm were most at risk and a few deaths were reported as those with pre-existing respiratory problems succumbed. But most healthy people shook off the mild illness in a few days - until it returned with a vengeance after a second incubation period.

Even now we don't know if it was a bacillus or a virus, but the effect was deadly. People developed deep, wracking coughs and high fever. Most died within a week. Most died. Not all. Hospitals were overwhelmed, and just like during the WW1 flu epidemic, bodies were literally piled up in the streets. For once, people were grateful for cold weather.

Those who survived were ravenous as they improved. Mexican restaurants and all-you-can-eat cafeterias were especially hard hit. We heard darker, gruesome stories about some survivors, but like all urban legends, they were disbelieved. People laughed nervously about those 'insatiables' who returned to the grocery stores and restaurants dozens of times because they were always hungry, their faces nearly white and their eyes sunken and hollow. They were easy to spot because the disease had some lasting effects on their coordination and motor skills. They walked with a stiff-legged gait, and their speech was halting and sometimes garbled. Kids called them zombies.

The horror started one sunny winter afternoon.

One of the insatiables pushed a grocery cart along an aisle, munching handfuls of caramel corn from an open bag. He'd piled the cart with a dizzying selection of junk food: popcorn, candy bars, doughnuts, ice cream, and cases of orange soda. A normal person's teeth would hurt just looking at it, but a dentist would be secretly thrilled.

The assistant manager saw him wolfing down the caramel corn and said, "Our new store policy forbids customers eating in the aisles. You'll have to pay for all that and leave, and you'll never be permitted to set foot inside this store again!"

The zombie looked puzzled for a moment, seeming to take some time to understand the manager's words, but as the import sunk in, his face contorted with rage. He lunged at the assistant manager, grabbing his shoulders and shaking him like a rag doll. Other shoppers turned to watch the scene unfold, and to their lasting horror, the zombie suddenly stopped shaking the assistant manager and plunged his teeth into the man's neck! Blood gushed over the zombie's face and onto the floor. The onlookers turned to flee, but the sight and scent of fresh blood acted as a trigger on other nearby zombies. They attacked shoppers and store employees. People ran from the store screaming, pursued by a slower-moving zombie pack.

A grocery cart bumped down the staircase to the lower parking lot, abandoned by a panicked shopper. Most of them reached the relative safety of their cars and roared away, driving over some zombies and a few of the slower shoppers. The hungry pack fell on the injured, devouring them while they still lived.

The next few weeks were a dark time in America. The zombies roamed the streets, and since they were American citizens, they still had civil rights. That didn't stop vigilantes from lynching some of them. Politicians loudly demanded that they be put into camps, then quietly killed any funding earmarked for building those same camps. Preachers proclaimed the end of days and prepared their flocks for Armageddon, and always passed the collection plate, never quite explaining the need for more cash as the world was about to end. Self-proclaimed 'real' Americans demanded the government erect fences on the borders to keep out any foreign zombies bent on over-running the country. And the Boy Scouts of America declared that zombies could not be scout leaders.

Out on the street, the zombies covered in blood had obviously committed some crimes, chiefly murder and cannibalism, but often when the police tried to apprehend them, the arresting officers were eaten. Eventually, the worst were rounded up and put behind bars. Oddly, the free zombies still went to work on time. They were hard working, if only to afford the vast quantities of food they consumed, and businesses were glad to have them, except for the meat packers. Zombies were regarded as potential safety hazards around all that meat.

A curious thing happened then, and despite all the analysis of so-called experts it's never been satisfactorily explained. The still free zombies began to coalesce into interest groups. They developed spokesmen who espoused zombie interests and even zombie 'rights'. But which political party best represented zombie interests? That was a tough call for the political elite. Zombies had little interest in foreign affairs, war and peace, immigration, or Social Security, but they did have a keen appreciation for farm subsidies and other agricultural issues. Both mainstream parties had small, vociferous factions opposed to zombie rights, but when they totaled up the balance sheet and realized the zombies were able and willing to provide enormous amounts of campaign cash, the small, noisy factions were hushed up and hidden away somewhere. Zombies couldn't reproduce, so without the burden of children, they had a great deal of disposable income. A nebulous PAC released an attack ad asking, "Would you let your daughter marry one?" and was soundly denounced from both the left and the right.

Advertisers were quick to realize the potentials of the zombie demographic. The airwaves and cable channels filled up with zombie entertainment. Oh sure, at first it was mostly zombie boxing and wrestling, but as they grew more powerful and became a sough-after demographic, television began to cater to the zombie audience, with ever-more game shows, reality shows, and soap operas. Jerry Springer's ratings went into the stratosphere. Sure, the zombies couldn't reproduce, but they still enjoyed a bit of fun, so specially formulated zombie Viagra became a best seller. We realized the zombies had arrived at mainstream America when Larry King conducted a satellite interview of Michael Jackson, the chief spokesman for zombie rights. Dr. Phil hadn't suffered any drop in popularity after becoming a zombie, though to be honest, it was hard to tell the difference. And when Jerry Falwell said that he was coming out of the closet to declare himself openly zombie, most people figured he was just pandering again.

Parents were dismayed by the appearance of zombie chic. Their kids walked and talked like zombies. MTV offered popular zombie music to the teenage wannabes, though it sounded like a tornado inside a machine shop.

But the worst aspect is that all those zombies are still in possession of valid driver's licenses. They have poor coordination, lousy judgment, and can't drive worth beans. And then there's the nasty prospect of being consumed by another driver after a minor fender-bender. Cyclists, in particular, have to be careful.

(Acknowledgements to George Romero and his "Night of the Living Dead" - which terrified me as a teenager. "Shawn of the Dead" for it's wickedly twisted humor. And Stephen King for "Cell" - a real page-turner in the zombie genre. Most of you thought these were works of fiction when in reality they’re clever disinformation campaigns conducted by our government and the media.)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Musette

Memorial Day

To all who have to work on a holiday – as I do – a salute! Granted, my job has little to do with a relaxed holiday afternoon at the beach or a park, but there are plenty of other folks who serve meals, pump gas, and tend the myriad businesses that make holidays possible for the rest of us.

But this particular holiday is unlike any other. Maybe ‘fun’ isn’t the best choice of a descriptive word since Memorial Day is hardly a concept filled with merriment. I think about my father’s generation, those men who fought WW2, now dying at a rate of 1100 per day. They’ve been described as the Greatest Generation, though to be fair, I think this quotation may be more exact:

There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet……Admiral William F. Halsey.

On this Memorial Day, think about those who’ve gone before us, giving their lives for our freedoms. Think about those who serve today on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. Step aside from the politics of the moment, and pray that those soldier, sailors, and airmen come home safely and soon.

Bike To Work

One pleasing aspect of working on a holiday is that the traffic is almost non-existent in the morning. I rode to work at 7AM and probably saw no more than a dozen cars in seven miles. It was eerily quiet. A raccoon stood in a small pond watching as I rode by, and a hawk burst out of a tree in the pecan grove. I have to find my bird book because I’ve never seen one like it. The hawk was almost all gray except for a lighter gray head. I saw some bluebirds, too. They may have been the bluebirds of happiness, but they flew off making rude noises.

Tour de Owasso

On Saturday, I rode around town doing some errands. There were books to return to the library, and I poked through the used books at the Goodwill store, looking for gems. I stopped at a couple of yard sales too, but ended up coming home empty handed. No goodies were found.

It’s fun to wander through the neighborhoods early in the morning. It’s still cool, for one thing, and the traffic is light. Sometimes when I do the ‘tour’ I stop for coffee in one of the shops. It’s very relaxing.

My kids are both teenagers. Their idea of an early start is the crack of noon. Mary’s a night owl too. She and Lyndsay stay up very late watching old movies and having girl-talk. So Saturday mornings are mine – all mine! I can do whatever I want!

Usually that means I drink too much coffee and overdose on caffeine and sugar. I’m SUCH a wild man!


I made bread in the machine yesterday afternoon. It’s turning into a regular Sunday ritual. And I’ve started tinkering with the recipe, this time by adding some honey to the mix. That made the dough a little more active than usual. Actually, it flew past active and went directly to feisty! The dough climbed out of the bread maker, and zipped out the patio door. It ate the neighbor’s cat, and then went to the grocery store where it consumed every bit of flour they had. When last I saw it, the doughball was about 50 feet across and growing. In the last hour, it climbed the Williams Center in downtown Tulsa, where it’s now fending off attacks by WW1 fighter planes.

Maybe something’s wrong with that yeast.

Don’t expect to read about this in the newspapers or see it on television. It’s the liberal media, you know.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Lanterne Rouge: Investment Opportunity

I get these Nigerian scam emails now and then, and most are deleted without ever being opened. But I was curious enough to read this one, and I was felling somewhat sarcastic that morning, so I wrote the following reply. I didn't send it, of course. NEVER reply to one of these. It only confirms that they've hit a valid email address.

This was first run in Red Dirt Pedalers "Wheel Issues".

Lanterne Rouge: Investment Opportunity

South Africa

I feel quite safe dealing with you in this important business. However, this correspondence is private, and it should be treated in strict confidence. This transaction is 100% risk and trouble free to both parties.

I must transfer USD 168,559,000.00 from our bank here in South Africa. The transfer is of clean origin. The owner of the fund is a foreigner, a program leader who was believed to acquire the fund through his secret Crude Oil deal with the Former IRAQI government. The deceased died with all the members of his family in an auto-accident in June 23, 1999 without a WILL.

I want to transfer this money into your account as the foreign beneficiary of the fund. I know that this letter will come to you as a surprise as we don't know ourselves before, BUT BE SURE THAT IT IS REAL AND A GENUINE BUSINESS. I CONTACT YOU BELIEVING THAT YOU WILL NOT LET ME DOWN ONCE THE FUND GOES INTO YOUR ACCOUNT.
Waiting to hear from and thanks for anticipated reply.
Regards, Dr. Mfana MXXXX


Gosh, Doc, what an honor! So I greatly regret having to turn you down. We're kind of flush with cash right now. In fact, so many similar offers have come in that I'm finding it difficult to store it all! There are boxes full of currency in every room of the house because the banks refuse to take anymore. I've been giving my kids bundles of hundreds to give away to their friends at school. I even thought of using the cash as paper towels because the rag content would make them fairly durable, but bills simply aren't big enough or absorbent enough.

The bags of gold coins are a little more useful in that we can melt them down for fishing sinkers, and they added some valuable weight for traction in the back of the pickup. But with spring coming we'll have to find another purpose for them. Perhaps we could get rid of them at a garage sale.

The sacks of diamonds are pretty, but we haven't found a good use for them yet. The kids like them as ammunition for their slingshots but they cause a lot of flat tires when the kids leave diamonds strewn all over our driveway.

On the other hand, if you were to convert the cash to kielbasa and sauerkraut futures, we could probably reach an agreement. Alternatively you could invest the money in the bicycle business with my assistance. Simply contact the office of my attorney—Whee, Cheatam, and Howe for further information. Of course, $168 million and change would be sufficient to purchase most of the bicycle teams on the planet, so if you're interested in pursuing that idea, consider investing most or all of the cash in our professionals here in Oklahoma—Team Bogus. I'll send you the contact information.

Monday, May 22, 2006

New Bicycle Laws in Oklahoma!

This is from Ron Doughterty, the Oklahoma Bicycle Coalition's legislative director:

Hello All!!

Governor Henry signed our new bicycle law on Friday!

For reference, simply stated the law:

1. Re-defines 'bicycle' for the purposes of our vehicle code, eliminating restricting wheel sizes and configurations
2. Eliminates confusing language as to where bicyclists should ride on the road
3. Eliminates the State mandate to ride on sidepaths/sidewalks
4. Eliminates the mandatory side light requirement for bicycles (not reflection)
5. Establishes a mini m um safe-passing distance of 3 feet and sets up fines (in addition to other citations and penalties) for injury or death if a motorist hits a cyclist

What a day for cyclists in Oklahoma! We are the second state in the US to impose these fines and the third to have a safe-passing law!!!

Happy and safe cycling to all...

Legislative Director

...and there's this from Sandra, with a link to the bill.

The full text can be found here:

BTW, near the end (section 9 - following a long section that doesn't deal with bicycles) there is the repeal of Section 78, Chapter 411, Section 705. That repeals the 2003 mandatory sidelight law:

§47-12-705. Lamp visible from both sides. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least one thousand (1,000) feet. This section shall not apply to a street or highway with a speed limit of twenty-five (25) miles per hour or less. Sandra Crisp, LCI #1069Wheelmen Advocacy Director

The Return of the Schwinn Madison!

Be still my heart!

I've wanted a Schwinn Madison since I first saw one. Just my luck - Schwinn is reintroducing the model next year. It even has a straight bladed fork! I'd have a very hard time deciding between a Madison or an all-chrome Bianchi Pista. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed may make that decison much easier, though. When I started getting a bit giddy over the idea, she started growling.

Anyway, besides the nuvo-retro appeal of a fixed gear bike made with butted steel tubing, there's the anti-tech aspect of having a simple bike that's easy to maintain. Sure, a 10 speed cluster, narrow chain, and compact gearing has it's own appeal, but when the time comes to repair any of the high-zoot stuff, it gets to be a real pain in the wallet.

From Cycling News:

Schwinn offers something old, something new

By James Huang

Ok, fine, well maybe they're both technically new, but one of them at least looks old. Schwinn takes a short ride on the retro bandwagon for its new '07 Madison fixed-gear/singlespeed rig. The intentionally simplistic and classically-styled bike features 'old school' butted chromoly frame tubing as well as a brazed chromoly fork with straight blades. High-flange flip-flop Formula hubs are equipped with both an ACS freewheel and a fixed cog for versatility, and a mix of parts from Schwalbe, Selle San Marco, Alex, and Tektro round out the parts mix. MSRP is said to be a very easy-to-swallow US$529.

More info:

Bike To Work - Tulsa

Friday was our Bike To Work day here in Tulsa. In celebration of the event, I took a vacation day. Go figure. In order to attend, I had to take time off from work. Nearly every day is a bike to work day for me, and although there was a certain irony in taking a vacation day, it felt good to have the day off!

I left the house just before sunup, and since I was technically riding at night, I'd attached lights to the Bianchi the night before. It was a pleasant morning with the promise of a hot day later, but I was glad to have a long sleeved jersey and arm warmers as I cross the Bird Creek valley. It's usually 10 degrees colder down there, and Friday was no exception.

I went through the northern end of Mohawk Park on the long-disused portion of Mohawk Drive. It's been closed to motor vehicles for years and it's very overgrown. It looks like a green, leafy tunnel. The pavement is buckled in places from the tree roots growing underneath.

I saw three deer, numerous small birds, and one turkey. Deer are common in the park. For that matter, turkeys are too, but they're much better at disappearing whenever a human comes blundering by. I don't see turkeys very often.

At the west end of the park, I spotted another cyclist topping the hill by the golf course. He turned west, and since I was going that way too, I had a bunny to chase! I didn't exactly turn on the power to reel him in, but I kept up a steady pace, slowing narrowing the distance. About 2 miles later, he saw me overtaking and sat up.

It was Kevin Shoemaker, another member of the local advocacy group. He'd ridden his bike from Claremore and he was going downtown for the BTW event too. We rode together along Mohawk Drive until it met the Osage Trail. We went south on the trail because it goes directly downtown within a few blocks of our destination. Kevin had never used it before. When it's completed, the trail will stretch from Tulsa to Birch Lake near Barnsdall, a distance of about 20 miles. It will be a gorgeous ride through the valley.

I'm not terribly familiar with downtown Tulsa, so Kevin led once we got there. And since it's composed of multiple one-way streets, we missed the right turn and had to backtrack.

The event was set up on William's Green, and about 75 cyclists attended. Tulsa Transit had a table set up to give out bus schedules and tout the new bicycle racks installed on all the city buses. OBC was there as well as INCOG (the event sponsor) and several businesses giving out information regarding their products. I hit the INCOG food table first, of course, and I stoked up for the ride home. Tulsa's new mayor, Kathy Taylor, addressed the crowd regarding the benefits to both individuals and the city of riding a bicycle for transportation.

Aaron Bell told me that he's leaving INCOG for a similar job in Columbia, SC. He has family in the Carolina's and I know very well how powerful that pull can be. Aaron will be missed.

I rode home with a nice tailwind, though the temperature was rising constantly. I didn’t drink enough and arrived at home dehydrated. But a shower and a nap were welcome indeed!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Cyclists: Threat or Menace?

Ah, sunny Texas! Full of God-fearing, gun-totin' folks who respect the idea of personal freedom and responsibility, unless that involves letting liberal, bicycle-riding heathens out on public roads. I mean, after all, freedom needs SOME limits! Next thing you know, people will start criticizing George Bush and his orchestra. We can't allow that! Freedom is important, but only for those of us who can handle it. Some people aren't capable of making the right decisions when given the freedom to do so. They ought to be rounded up and put into camps for re-education!

OK. I'm done. For the humor-challenged, the above is sarcasm.

Those wonderful folks in Texas have enacted yet another bicycling ban, for the cyclists own safety, of course. If their roads are so dangerous, why don't they ban the cars?

Excerpts follow:

Bicycle ban angers cyclists
Anna: Riders want access to popular route; city cites safety issues

07:41 AM CDT on Friday, May 19, 2006
By JENNIFER EMILY / The Dallas Morning News

FM455 in Anna is quite curvaceous but has no shoulders.

Such a combination could be deadly, say city officials, who have banned cycling along the road.

An ordinance prohibiting bikes on the road cites the "danger and peril" of sharp curves and hills, limited vision, lack of a shoulder and an expected traffic increase.

"We're going to have a tragedy because that guy or that woman driving that car isn't going to see them until they're right on them," said Anna city administrator Lee Lawrence.

But bike enthusiasts say they should be the ones who decide where to ride and whether it's safe. Collin County cyclists once frequently traveled the road.

If safety is indeed the issue, let cyclists make the decision themselves, said Robin Stallings, executive director of the Texas Bike Coalition.

"We live in Texas. It's pretty independent. Texans get to decide for themselves about their safety," Mr. Stallings said. "We believe they are more concerned about motorists' inconvenience. Sometimes, you gotta slow down for grandpa, and sometimes you have to slow down for a bicyclist."

...Rusty Nail of Melissa, who compiles the Plano Bicycle Association newsletter and runs the group's Web site, said the ban is useless because the city does not enforce it. He also serves on Melissa's parks and recreation board.

"It's a major road from Weston to Anna. We probably put the blinders on so much trying to protect ourselves that we give over our freedom to the government," said Mr. Nail. "When do we say enough is enough?"

Cyclists suggest lowering the speed limit or putting up "share the road" signs instead of promoting a cycling prohibition.

Mr. Lawrence said lowering the speed limit isn't feasible. The ban was created after two nearby fatalities on similar roads, he said. Discussions are under way to widen the road between U.S. Highway 75 and Highway 5. But that won't solve the problem.

"That road was built for a 55 mph speed. What is being asked with that request is that we inconvenience the vast majority of the users to accommodate a very small amount of the users," Mr. Lawrence said. "I don't think that's a fair request."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Yin Yang

The universe remains in balance.

Yesterday afternoon the wind was out of the northwest. I took the low route through Mohawk Park on the way home, because the trees and lower terrain help break up the wind.

When I reached the turn onto Mingo road, an almost solid line of traffic streamed north. This happens from time to time when the highway is blocked for construction or a traffic accident. I got through a break and rolled north along the wide shoulder. The bridge is a bottleneck and just north of the bridge the shoulder ends.

I could see cars and trucks lined up for half a mile, waiting to get through the T intersection at 76th Street. Traffic slowed and stopped, then crawled forward as the head of the line managed to get through the intersection.

Normally I wouldn't pass stopped traffic on the right if I were on a city street. There's nowhere to go when parked cars and curbs are present. But this is a 2-lane rural road through a pecan grove. There's nothing on the shoulder and there are no driveways, sidewalks, or curbs. I rode slowly along the fog line.

This has happened before so it wasn't a surprise. Some of those motorists who'd passed me further south were now stuck in the traffic jam. Since they were stuck, they apparently thought I should be stuck too. The first was a guy in a honkin' big diesel pickup, the kind with dualies in the back. I've often wondered if the dualies were an indicator of the type of driver inside. I mean, the truck has a fat ass, so would it be reasonable to assume the driver does too?

He was moving very slowly, probably at less than a walking pace, but he was edging over to the right in an attempt to prevent me from passing on the roadway. I was on the Centurion, and in a previous incarnation, it was my cyclocross bike. I've never hesitated to take it off-road, so I didn't hesitate. I wasn't going fast, just barely faster than the truck in fact, so I sidestepped over the edge of the road, down onto the gravel, and passed him.

Several other motorists tried the same trick. I passed them too.

That was last night. This morning, the universe retaliated.

I was on the way to work, riding along 86th Street. It's a 4-lane city street with numerous traffic lights. I was approaching the first one when a mini-van came up the lane behind me. The rest of the traffic had moved over into the left lane. This is fairly routine now that most of the drivers expect to find a cyclist on the road somewhere. My mini-van driver, on the other hand, wanted to pass all that traffic though the 'vacant' lane only to find a pesky cyclist occupying it. He dodged left into a hole between two other cars.

Would it be fair to say that experienced cyclists can read a motorist's 'body language'? His throttle position, braking, and lane change summed up as an impatient driver, unaccustomed to being around bicycles on the road. I can't really describe why I focused on this one. It was almost unconscious. But I could see that he'd be a problem.

The light changed before I reached the intersection. The next one is only a hundred yards or so further west. My mini-van man moved to the right hand edge of the lane, and then realized I was keeping pace with him. He couldn't merge right. We stopped for the next light and I rolled ahead to the pedestrian crossing. I moved to the center of the lane to allow a right-turning vehicle to get by.

When the light changed, I stayed in the center across the intersection, and then moved back over to the right hand tire track. I'd just cleared the intersection when the mini-van zoomed past inches away from my elbow! I was pissed. I considered sprinting after him because the next light is fairly close and it too was red. But my knee is hurting and until I'm thoroughly warmed up, I wouldn't want to try a sprint. Still, it was VERY tempting!

Oscar Wilde said the best way to overcome temptation is to yield to it, but it's just as well that I didn't. A cop sat in his car just up the street. I could see it now, me beating the crap out of some idiot's car while a cop watches the events unfold.

So I got a good break last night, and the balance of the universe was restored this morning. Still, I’m looking forward to a rematch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Daily Grind

Juancho wrote in BigRingCircus:

By juancho

I cannot tell if this is a rut or the good life. Everything seems OK. Nobody is throwing any rocks at me. The bills are paid, more or less. My bike is still relatively new. The A.C. works. No, I guess it is not a rut, it is a routine. Same thing, damn near every day. There is really no need to complain. I'm eating well. Reading good books. Cracking different versions of the same jokes with the same friends I've had for about 15 years. I still laugh most of the time.

Still, at the edge of my mind's eye I see something shifting, restless....

...The problem is that the routine was the goal. To get out of the melee and lead a somewhat more predictable life is nice, as anyone who has been blindsided one too many times can tell you.

You know, some groceries in the fridge. Sheets on the bed. Middle class stuff.

...I want something BIG to happen. Famous last words.

Should I tell him? Nothing in life remains static for long. Just when we think our lives are settled, dull, and boring, something comes along to unseat those feelings, and often that's a disturbing experience. When all is strife and turmoil, we long for placid and boring. We're human. We always seem to want what we don't have at the moment.

I'm at the opposite end of the cycle from Juancho. I long for a return to normality, a return to that boring veneer that overlies chaos, giving an illusion of predictability and control to events that are spinning out of my grasp.

My oldest child graduates from high school this week.

I really don't understand parents who breathe a sigh of relief when their children leave home. Maybe I'm an old codger, stuck in old ways of thinking, but I enjoy having my kids nearby. I like to think that I can protect them somehow, although in reality I know that's not always possible. Sure, it's annoying when the video game is blaring in one room, the television in another, and two competing audio systems send bass thumping through the floor. But when all's quiet, the house feels empty.

We don't have a big home or an impressive car in the driveway. We don't dress fashionably or eat in the latest trendy restaurants. We don't have those things that seem to be the outward definition of success. I have only one treasure, my family, and with Lyndsay graduating, I feel like I'm losing part of that treasure.

I know that eventually I'll adapt to the new reality. It's how life works, after all. I've been living comfortably with the routine of schoolwork and vacations for thirteen years. I'm accustomed to it. But very shortly, a page will turn and a new chapter will start.

This is an exciting time for Lyndsay. Truthfully, it's exciting for all of us. But I have a sense of sadness, too, a sense of loss as my little girl steps out into the world and begins her own life away from the family. She'll leave for college in the fall.

I'll treasure every moment this summer.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Avast, ye hearties!

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?”

I’m a sartorially challenged kind of guy. Stripes and plaids? No problem. Garish cycling clothes? Even better. But the epitome of my style-consciousness just has to be the Hawaiian shirts. My closet is full of them. I avoided the temptation to wear one with the tux at our wedding. If I hadn’t, the marriage wouldn’t have lasted through the day.

They make good work shirts because they’re often cheaper than real work shirts, and the synthetic fabrics tolerate getting rolled up and stuffed into a pannier. They come out nearly wrinkle free. But given that I prefer the truly LOUD ones, it would be hard to tell if they were wrinkled anyway. I’ve warned co-workers to keep a safe distance if they planned on having children sometime in the future because the kids might be a little weird. Ionizing geek radiation, you know.

“Absorbent and yellow and porous is he!”

As you may have guessed by now, I wore a Sponge Bob print shirt today. It’s yellow and loud.

A co-worker strolled by, stopped and eyed the shirt for a moment. “That’s so cool!” he said, “but you know that Sponge Bob is a symbol for the gays and lesbians.”

He was serious. Really.

Now, remember, this is Oklahoma where Attila the Hun would have been regarded as a raving liberal. Let’s be kind and just say that my co-worker tends toward the conservative side, and it’s the rabid wingnut end at that. He went on for a while about the connections between gays, lesbians, and Sponge Bob, and how, when you had that in mind, you could see all the propaganda laced so subtly into the cartoon.

My eyes must have glazed over sometime in there, because I tuned most of it out. It’s a survival trait that I’ve learned from being around so many wingnuts. If I hadn’t managed to learn it, I’d look like a cartoon character myself – with steam shooting from my ears.

When you keep any deeply-held principle in mind while observing some event, your perceptions are altered. It’s called projection. Someone with fervent religious convictions can find spiritual connections. Someone with strong political or sexual beliefs can find political or sexual content. Is there a hidden agenda? Are Sponge Bob, Barney, or the Tele-Tubbies part of a sinister plot to take over the world?

Who cares?

Here are a few examples:

The Victorians were so sex-obsessed they wouldn’t put books by male and female authors next to each other on a shelf, for fear that little pamphlets would pop up everywhere, I guess. The covered table legs with fabric, and couldn’t even call them ‘legs’. They were ‘limbs’. Those people were nuts.

It was “Dress Like A Pirate” day at my daughter’s school. It seems innocent enough, until you consider that pirates are a symbol dear to the Pastafarians who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Let’s hope the local Baptists don’t catch on until it’s too late.

Freud did a case study of “Little Hans” who witnessed a trolley horse fall in the streets of Vienna. Hans was a child at the time. The horse lay on the street kicking wildly until it was put down. Freud surmised the horse represented the father figure and had an enormous influence on the boy’s development. Psychotherapy revealed obscure and convoluted connections for Hans, who among other things, was terrified of horses. This made travel difficult, as horses were common on the streets. Freud persisted in focusing on his psychosexual development when there may have been a simpler underlying cause. “Perhaps he’s just afraid of being kicked by a thrashing horse,” posited a student.

I think even Freud realized this because he said that sometimes a cigar is merely a smoke.

Naturally there’s a cycling-related hook in here somewhere. I think.

Oh, yeah, now I remember! I wrote about some motorist calling me a “F****** LIBERAL!!!” in traffic one day. And awhile back, Kiril the Mad Macedonian did a piece about cyclists and their politics. I realize that people ride bikes for many different reasons. Some are environmentally conscious. Some ride as a way to oppose consumerism, or figuratively screw Big Oil. Some ride to deliberately annoy those motorists they despise. And some (like me) ride because it’s simply fun. There’s no hidden agenda, no politicking, no save-the-world-save-the-whales-here’s-your-Star-Trek-ears bullshit.

Sometimes a cyclist is just a guy riding home from work, no agenda, no politics, no hidden meaning. And if I smoked, I’d probably have that cigar now.

“If nautical nonsense be something you wish,”
“Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish!”

Thursday, May 11, 2006

INCOG Bicycling Subcommittee Meeting 9MAY2006

This is not intended as a substitute for the official minutes. It is provided as information for area cyclists.

Bike To Work

Tulsa’s Bike To Work event will be held from 7AM to 9AM at Williams Green Mayfest stage. This is located at Third and Boston. Starting at 7:30AM, Mayor Taylor, Bill Cartwright, Jim Norton, and Chris Zondofor will be the featured speakers. (If I misspelled any names – my apologies.) Tulsa Transit will have one of their new buses on hand for demonstrations of the bicycle racks on all city buses. There will be informational booths, demonstrations, prizes, food, and fun! (Cyclists are ALWAYS drawn to free food! Or maybe that’s just me.) All registrants are eligible for free bus passes from Tulsa Transit and a $250 gift certificate from Lee’s Bicycles. Register and learn more at or call 918.584.7526.

Trail Projects

Discussion of maps available on INCOG website for area trail users. (Existing trails and those in the near future) (Planned trails)

Osage Prairie Trail north of 51st Street is unfinished due to a drainage problem. A short section is out at present. Needs funding for section north of Hwy 20.

FEMA bridge at Haikey Creek (Mingo/BA South Loop Trail) is still waiting for formal approval. Construction expected in first quarter of 2007.

West Bank II (I-44 to 71st ST/Turkey Mountain) – Railroad signed off on project. Contract to be bid in 2006. Construction in 2007.

Midland Valley Extension (near Lee’s Elementary and Peoria/Hwy 75 N) – bid expected 2006. Construction in first quarter of 2007.

New proposal regarding bikeway along Darlington north of LaFortune Park rather than along Fulton. Signalized intersection at Fulton and 51st St.

Discussion of Mingo Trail alignment near 41st St and Hwy 169. Current proposal seems to indicate sidewalk utilized as contra-flow bikeways. Discussed routing trail westward toward Mingo Road, or diverging pedestrian and cyclist trails in that area.

Discussion of trail system signage similar to that adopted in the Chicago area. Signs would be simple posts with placards. Discussed appropriate signage for motorists on streets crossing trails.


INCOG staff is compiling an index of area bicycling laws from the municipalities within their service area.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Cyclist's Ten Commandments

(...with apologies to King James! This is one of my old Usenet pieces. How it ended up in my docs folder is a mystery.)

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's Litespeed.

Thou shalt not boast of thy time in the last time trial lest thy fellows produce the true results.

Honor the graybeards in the peleton for they may yet have a few tricks to teach unto you.

Forswear they fellows from riding Shimano for it is an abomination my mine eyes.

Take not your machine to a shop where the 'professional mechanic' cannot yet shave.

Never mayest thou half wheel they brethren lest they call thee rude names.

Give freely unto motorists all the courtesy and respect that thou receive, forgetting not the hand gestures.

Rememberst thou to spit to leeward.

Practice thy sprint lest a wayward dog rend thy flesh from thee, thy foot from thy leg, thy hand from thy arm, and thy lycra from thy ass.

Let not the word h*lm*t pass thy lips in newsgroups for fear the armies of night and darkness should swarm upon thee, saying thy mother and father were not married, thy children are off the mailman, and thou hast the IQ of a toad.

Beware of the time thou spend with thy machine and thy fellows lest thy spouse hire a lawyer and divorce thee, taking thee to the cleaners even unto thine socks.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Get Out The Vote!

This is from Fred Oswald. I've posted it because I agree with his choices regarding candidates for the LAB board.....Ed

If you live in LAB Region 1, 4 or 6 and you haven't sent in your director's ballot yet, please get it in the mail right away. We must have responsive directors to allow LAB to recover from the mismanagement of recent years.

In Region 1, John Allen is unopposed but a healthy vote will make his voice stronger.

In region 6, we have John Forester, creater of our education program. Need one say more?

In Region 4, please vote for Jim Sheehan.

Jim is an active LCI who runs BikeEd classes nearly every weekend from his Ohio City Bike Coop. Jim teaches kids both mechanics and good riding methods. Jim will improve the education program and strengthen the League as a defender of our rights.

Jim's opponent 's focus has been almost entirely on facilities, which often have serious safety compromises. They are also expensive and they reinforce the public impression that cyclists are inferior users of the road. Interestingly, although both candidates are from Ohio, Jim has the endorsement of the Ohio cycling advocates. His opponent's support is from out of state.

Please send in that vote today. Please also encourage other members you know to vote also.

Checkout for more information about the LAB leadership crisis and what must be done to save our League. Also, see the LAB Reform education pages on this site. We have material you can use in your classes.


Fred Oswald, LCI #947,
See cycling information at and
Help democratize LAB:

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bicycle Parking Information

This FHWA document is the best overview of bicycle parking requirements that I’ve found. It includes the design specifications for facilities as well as a model parking ordinance from Madison, WI.

The Santa Cruz Bicycle Parking Ordinance is similar to the Madison version but contains more detailed specifications.

The MassBike site has a wealth of bicycling information, including this comprehensive page regarding bicycle parking:

The MassBike page includes information on bicycle parking laws, bicycle parking facilities, parking device manufacturers and much, much more. It’s almost a one-stop guide to bicycle parking websites.

Finally, here are some websites that show how bicycle racks can be utilized as public art, advertising, and even store entrance security:

One requirement should be that any bicycle rack be both pedestrian-friendly and bicycle-friendly. That is, it should not present any hazards to pedestrian travel and should be free of sharp edges and corners. Likewise, it should not be capable of damaging a bicycle or it will go unused. Unfortunately, some of the public art/ bicycle racks do not meet these requirements.

Bicycle racks that form company logos or names are an interesting, novel approach and may be more attractive to businesses, but could introduce conflicts with signage ordinances.

The ubiquitous security bollards that protect building entrances from motor vehicles can be utilized as bicycle racks. These are the same devices installed just outside the main entrance at Target. They’re attractive, functional, and pedestrian friendly.

In today's Tulsa World

Give back the roads


The narrow, shoulderless roads around much of Tulsa are becoming increasingly more crowded with assorted cyclists, walkers and joggers, and thus endangering motorists who usually have to cross to the left lane to avoid colliding with them. Cyclists who hog the center of the lane are more
of a nuisance. Not only do they force motorists onto the left or to be stuck behind them, but they're also guilty of the offense of disrupting the flow of traffic.

Here in Tulsa we have a beautiful long stretch of wide, paved track snaking along beside the river. I suggest joggers, walkers and cyclists get off the roads and onto the track that was built for them and give the roads back to the motorists.

Catherine Le Breton, Tulsa

Ms. Le Breton makes the common mistake of presuming our public roads are for the sole use of motorists. They’re called public roads because they’re for the use of all of us regardless of our mode of transportation. And like so many other members of the motoring public, she has little knowledge of safe bicycle operation or any of the laws regarding their use. The idea that two hundred pounds of bicycle and rider can ‘endanger’ a motorist encased in a ton or more of steel and glass is laughably absurd!

When a lane is too narrow to safely share with a motor vehicle, a cyclist is legally entitled to the full width of the lane. Whether he rides in the right hand tire track or the center of the lane is irrelevant. It’s the overtaking driver’s responsibility to pass safely. Many cyclists have witnessed the ‘Darwin maneuver’ when a motorist overtakes and passes, crossing the centerline to do so while there’s still oncoming traffic. Again, it’s not the cyclist who’s at fault. It’s the impatient motorist.

Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as any other road user. Notice I said the SAME rights. No one has a superior right to our roads.

I strongly recommend that Ms. Le Breton read the Oklahoma Driver’s Manual section on proper bicycle operation and the proper behavior of motorists encountering cyclists on our roads. The latest manual is available at:

Tulsa’s drivers are overwhelmingly accommodating toward local cyclists, yet there are some few like Ms. Le Breton who would limit our right to use the public road by forcing us onto trails. While the trail system is expanding and improving every year and it’s very popular with recreational cyclists, it doesn’t serve every possible destination. Some of us ride bicycles as basic transportation, accessing work, schools, and businesses on two wheels. That requires sharing the road with motor vehicles.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I stumbled across this comic on Boing-Boing earlier today and followed the link to the original at Bee Comix. See Episodes 10 and 11 for some infuriating panels. At first, I thought this would be a comic aimed at treating cyclists as hapless road-going targets for adolescent 'pranks'. Fortunately, that wasn't the point, but it's still annoying when it's taken out of context. In the real world, cyclists are assaulted every day. It's not funny, and to his credit, cartoonist Jason Little doesn't treat the subject as humorous.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Bug Du Jour

The rain that I expected yesterday didn’t materialize. No chain lube. No solvents. No Baptists to run off. Sigh.

Something funny happened last night, though. My daughter, Lyndsay, had to take some papers over to her boyfriend's house at about 9:30. Mary decided to go along, but she was going to stay in the car. She didn't even wear her shoes. The two of them drove over to Corey's and Lyndsay gave him the papers. On the way home, Lyndsay suddenly felt an insect crawling up her leg inside her jeans! She was in a neighborhood at a stop sign and there's very little traffic late in the evening. She tried to crush the bug, but didn't succeed, so she kicked off her shoes and got out of the car. She stood in the road and peeled off her jeans! Of course, that's the precise moment a jogger turned the corner to discover a half-naked teenage girl standing in the middle of the street! Lyndsay jumped back in the car and roared off. The bug made a clean getaway too.

I was sitting in the living room watching the news when she walked in wearing only her panties and t-shirt. Somehow, I think I shouldn't let the two of them go off together. They're both blonde. But at the very least, I get some interesting stories.

I had a bug encounter too. I inhaled one on the way home. Every cyclist downs a few bugs and most of the time they’re harmless. This one was probably depressed and committed suicide by hurling himself down my throat. Whatever it was, my body didn’t like it. Tears were streaming down my cheeks. I coughed incessantly for about 10 minutes. At one point, my throat shut down, making breathing difficult. I gasped for breath, but I didn’t stop pedaling. Go figure. I could have passed out from lack of oxygen, but I wasn’t about to stop pedaling. I don’t know why, and I can’t claim it made any sense, but that’s what I did. When I got home, my voice was raspy. A cup of hot coffee took care of it.

I thought about that bug and the millions just like him while I rode to work this morning. I passed a freshly-killed raccoon and an opossum, as well as unrecognizable lumps of fur and feathers that would have gone unnoticed on the roadside except for the stench. Motor vehicles kill about 40,000 people and millions of animals each year. Cyclists kill a few bugs, but at least we get to eat them.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gettin’ lubricated!

Married couples start to act alike and even think alike if they’ve been together long enough. For instance, on Saturday, Mary wanted to go to the grocery store. I got in the car to take her there, and as we pulled away from the house she said, “Oh! I need to go to the Pet Cemetery too!” The weird thing is that I knew exactly where she wanted to go, and it wasn’t a pet cemetery. It was PetSmart. We were out of dog food. I live with blondes so I’m beginning to understand their thought processes. Pray for my sanity.

I made fun of her all the way there, and the people in the store were treated to the sight of a middle-aged woman punching her husband several times while he laughed. It could be worse. We could be those people who wear matching outfits, but I’d probably shoot myself first. Somehow, I suspect she’d want me to match her outfit, rather than match mine. After all, I’m one of those guys wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt with plaid Bermuda shorts. I look like a beach bum from hell.

I wrote about riding in the rain on Friday, but I didn’t mention that Mary had warned me about it when she saw the weather report Thursday evening. She wanted me to drive and avoid the rain. I was actually looking forward to it, but then again, I’m more than a little twisted. Regardless, when I arrived at home sopping wet, she had one of those glorious I-told-you-so moments that wives seem to relish. I give her ample opportunities.

Yesterday as I was tinkering with the car, my neighbors stopped to talk. Kim saw me coming home drenched on Friday. Chuck laughed and said he’s done the same thing. They ride a motorcycle, and they know that it’s impossible to stay dry but with enough layers you can stay warm. They’ve been married a long time too. They complete each other’s sentences.

After they left, I cleaned and lubricated both commuter bikes. The Bianchi had a flat, so I fixed it. Since I’m cheap, I try to get the most from those expensive drive train parts, and keeping them clean and lubed is key. My rule-of-thumb is to do this every 200 miles or after riding in the rain. I use WD-40 to clean the chain, spraying it onto the chain as I rotate the pedals. Then I scrub a few links at a time with a rag and let it sit for a few minutes so the propellant can evaporate. WD-40 is a good cleaner but not a good choice as a chain lube. It doesn’t stand up to the pressure generated in the links. After it’s evaporated, I use Amzoil’s MPHD. It’s a wax-based lubricant. Again, I’m cheap, so I don’t mind this leaving a brownish waxy build-up on the components, though I do try to wipe off the excess. I’ve tried the ‘boutique’ lubricants, but I’ve returned to the industrial stuff on the commuters. WD-40 is good at cleaning the crud from clipless pedals too. Just use an old toothbrush to scrub them.

This morning the Centurion was practically silent under me. The only sounds I heard were the birds, the wind, and an occasional creaking noise coming from either a shoe or my old knees. I rode the fixed gear with its fenders mainly because the weather report calls for more rain later today. Sure enough, the radar is showing a line forming off to the west and moving this way. I may get to do another quick clean and lube tonight.

Also, it’s Monday again, the night when bible-toting Baptist commandos try to infiltrate our neighborhood. I just may wear the beach bum clothes and sit on the front porch while reeking of solvents, drinking right from a bottle of whiskey. I have a bottle that’s almost empty. I’ll just fill it with decaffeinated iced tea. That way it won’t keep me up all night. I haven’t found any spray cans of Baptist-Be-Gone, so the whiskey bottle will have to do.