Friday, June 30, 2006

The Return of Wally Crankset

Wally threw off the pursuit somewhere in Mexico. Wanda Sue, his fourth or fifth ex-wife, and the former "Miss Bull’s-Eye" of Broken Elbow, Oklahoma, had lost his trail in the rugged mountains. Wally had some fresh scars from too-close encounters with her, and he'd developed the annoying habit of looking over his shoulder even when having a face-to-face conversation. He always sat with his back to the wall where he could see the door. Being nervous and edgy all the time gave him a tic over his right eye, looking exactly like he was winking. Other than that, he was fine.

He'd always been a schemer. Wally had a brand-new plan to "save America from the clutches of multi-national oil companies, wacko environmentalists, and 'furriners'". For Wally, 'furriners' included anyone north of Kansas and east of the Mississippi. Some people described him as quaintly provincial, but those of us who knew him well simply said he was barking mad.

The latest scheme would revolutionize travel and, by the happiest of coincidences, make Wally a very rich man indeed. He described it as a power-assisted bicycle that would be capable of interstate speeds.

"Wally", I said, "That's a motorcycle. We already have lots of them."

"This is BETTER!" he insisted. "Motorcycles are big and heavy by comparison, and they use too much fuel. My idea is something more like a bicycle, but with a specialized motor attached."

"That's a moped."

"No, no, no! It's NOT a moped. It's faster than a moped but it won't require a license like a motorcycle!"

I considered this with some trepidation. The last time Wally persuaded me that one of his schemes wouldn't require licensing, Broken Elbow was over-run by agents from the FCC and the FAA after one of his electronic devices re-routed air traffic over much of the central US. He claimed it was just a misunderstanding, but he rapidly decamped for Mexico anyway. This lead to further misunderstandings and some animosity because the device was sitting in MY garage.

He explained that this new idea involved a conventional gasoline engine that would drive the rear wheel via a belt or chain. "Just like a moped!", I exclaimed. He glared, but went on to illustrate the genius of his new idea, a second, smaller motor from a leaf blower that would put pressurized air into the main motor and provide additional cooling. The main motor would be under the 50cc limit, making it a motorized bicycle in the eyes of the law.

I allowed that it was nutty, but it might work.

"It might work?" he yelled. "It does work! I've already built it and it's in the back of my van. I've ridden it around the neighborhood a few times, but now I want to try it out on the open road, and I need your help."

We walked out to the van. I was anxious to see his creation, but in the pit of my stomach, something churned over and over. I'd felt this before when Wally presented one of his schemes, and although it seemed like butterflies of excitement, these butterflies had lead wings, crushing hangovers, and generally bad attitudes. Some of them carried knives. The rest smoked cigarettes and used my gut as an ashtray.

Wally's contraption was better than I'd imagined. He'd worked out a double cable mechanism to control both throttles from a single hand control. A nicely crafted sheet metal shroud encased the main drive motor, and I could see the stamping had a bulge for the intake. The shroud connected to what Wally referred to as the 'turbo' motor with a short piece of Plexiglas tubing. All this sat atop the rear wheel of an old racing bicycle. Wally had the sense to replace the racing tires with some stouter ones. They looked to be about 32mm, and the bike had good brakes with fresh brake pads. It was a single speed conversion and still retained the dropped handlebars.

Since he was determined to ride this thing at speed, I asked if he had a full-face helmet, preferably one lined with a thick layer of aluminum foil.

"Do you think it would help?" he asked earnestly. On second thought, maybe I needed a tin-foil hat, if only to avoid being sucked into another of his schemes.

"I want to take this out on the road and open her up!" Wally yelled as he primed the motors and pulled the starting cords. An ungodly wail split the air. Dogs howled all over the neighborhood. I could only squint, but closing my eyes didn't help to reduce the din. "Follow me in the van in case I break down!"

"But Wally...." It was too late. He'd already cracked the throttle, setting off another round of pitiful howls from the dogs. I started down the hill in the van. He was waiting at the four-lane, where he turned and headed toward the interstate! This was definitely not good.

Sure enough, Wally turned up the ramp onto the highway, opened the throttle, and rapidly pulled away from me. I could only think that the combination of two motors, a lightweight bike and an aero position aided considerably in attaining higher speeds. In fact, Wally shot out onto the road, passed several cars, and continued to accelerate! The bike was a rocket! I began to wonder about the speed rating of bicycle tires.

He topped out at around 85 mph after a mile or so. The bike ran smoothly and Wally didn't have any obvious control problems. Then just short of the 96th Street overpass, there were a couple little puffs of smoke. The engine coughed and caught fire! But it didn't slow down. Wally was twisting the throttle closed, obviously beginning to panic, but twisting the throttle had no effect.

The cops had a speed trap set up at 96th Street that day. I spotted the flashing lights closing rapidly in the rear view mirror. Naturally, I slowed down to let them by, then took the next off ramp. Wally continued on north toward Kansas, trailing a plume of fire and smoke, as well as several police cars with lights and sirens blaring.

I put Wally's van in the garage and threw a tarp over it. Then I turned out all the lights and sat in the darkened house, listening to the telephone ring now and then. I wouldn't answer it. The cops arrived on my doorstep, but found a dark house with no one to answer the doorbell. They went away. I figured Wally didn't make it to Mexico this time, and I'm NOT going down to the police station to bail him out!

TDF News: Basso & Ulrich out!

Ullrich and Basso out of Le Tour

Pre-race favourites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso are out of the Tour de France after both were named in an anti-doping investigation in Spain.

Ullrich, team-mate Oscar Sevilla and team manager Rudy Pevenage have all been suspended by the T-Mobile team.

Basso has now been excluded by organisers of the Tour, which starts in Strasbourg on Saturday.

All four denied any wrong-doing when allegations first began to emerge earlier this week.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Monday Morning Time Trial

I had an appointment at the eye doctor after work, so I had to go in early. This required getting up before dawn and being on the road a little before 6AM. Sunrise was at 6:08, so although I could see well, legally I should have had lights. I had breakfast and a quick cuppa, but when I looked up at the clock, I was astonished to see that it was almost 6 already! I had to rush. The Centurion has lights attached, but it's much slower than the Giant, and I was pressed for time.

I grabbed the Camelback with my work clothes and lunch, and hustled out the door. Partway down the hill from the house, I felt my jersey pocket to see if I had my all-important ID card that gets me through the security perimeter. It wasn't there! I started to panic, then remembered I'd clipped it to the Camelback so I wouldn't forget it. If I'd turned back to the house to retrieve it, I would have been late. Likewise, if I'd had to stop at security for a temporary badge, I would have been late. Big sigh of relief.

I hammered along in the big ring through a light crosswind, and then slowed for a left turn, dropping down to the small ring so I could accelerate quickly. I turned south, reved the bike up over 20mph, and then shifted back up to the big ring, and immediately threw the chain! A quick stop resulted in black, greasy fingers as I installed it back onto the chainring. I was off again, wiping my nasty, grimy fingers on my shorts.

Page 70 of this month's 'Bicycling' magazine has a full-page photo of gleaming white "Ralpha's African hair sheep leather Fixed riding gloves" at only $140. The name alone is worth at least $75 of that. It's so precious! Page 75 has white bib shorts: "Exte Ondo's Zuri" at $175 and "Nalini's Soroyo" at $110, though the copy notes that the Soroyo is available only in "shimmery black this season." Who ARE these people? Who in their right mind would wear white gloves and shorts?

Cycling shorts are black for a very good reason. Most of us don't carry pre-moistened towelettes, GO-JO, or a shop rag. We wipe our hands on our shorts. Black doesn't show the grease stains. We wipe our noses with our gloves too. (Never shake hands with a cyclist who's still wearing his gloves!) Our clothing accumulates snot, grease, dried sweat and Gatorade, food stains, and even dead bugs. Sometimes the bugs aren't dead, but that's a story for another time.

I thought about these things as I pounded down Mingo Road. It kept my mind off the complaints from my legs and lungs. And I arrived at work with 3 minutes to spare!

I didn't have to rush on the ride home - or so I thought. As I rolled down off the Bird Creek bridge, it felt like the back end of the bike was bouncing up and down. I was pulling about 100 revs, and I don't bounce until I hit about 115, so this seemed a little strange. The Camelback bounced up and down noticeably, pulling at the shoulder straps and thudding against my back. When I thought to look down at the back tire, it was definitely losing air. I pulled over.

The tire was leaking but it wasn't flat. I couldn't hear the leak anywhere, so I gambled that it would hold air long enough to get me home. I pumped it up quickly, then rode gingerly over the next 3 miles. I made it home, then had to rush for a shower before my eye doctor's appointment.

By the way, I was in for a glaucoma test. The eye drops didn't dilate my pupils enough, so the doc hit them with a second dose. It took a long time for my eyes to recover, and I did my best Mr. Magoo impression for awhile. But it's VERY cool to sit in a darkened room while wearing sunglasses!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tulsa Tough

Another excerpt from today's Tulsa World. The operative word would seem to be 'cool':

Readers Forum: Tulsa sports event won't be secret long

Sport is a wildly strange business most of the time and a significant passion for many people. There's the part about the money and the attendant bad choices often made for the sake of winning at any cost; the part about overcoming obstacles and personal tragedies to achieve success; the part about providing life lessons and character development for our youth; the part about hard work to make oneself better, not only on the field, but off of it.

Then there's the part about sport being healthy, fun and satisfying. I'm here to write about that -- a "healthy, fun and satisfying" sports event that some of you may have missed. But this won't be the case for long because there are more than a few people passionate about this event and sport.

Tulsa Tough Ride and Race was held June 2 and 4 in Tulsa, and that's important to emphasize. It may have set a new standard for sports events in our community. Here are what a few visitors and participants had to say, and took time to share, from California to Florida (over 20 states), Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand and why I feel optimistic about Tulsa and our opportunities to make an impact for the good of the community:

* "Extremely cool races, and a very cool city. I never gave much of a thought about Tulsa, Okla., but after this weekend, it's definitely one of the coolest cities around here."

* "I can assure you that I still have a vivid memory of that last hill on the outskirts of Tulsa. That was a first class ride and race and I hope you do it again in 2007!"

* "And I'd like to say that the city of Tulsa gave us all a very good impression. In a word, Tulsa Tough was a fantastic event. I have raced bikes for almost 20 years and I've never seen a first-time event done so well. Your event rivaled any in the country, be it The International Cycling Classic (Super week), The Redlands Bicycle Classic or Downers Grove (U.S. National Criterium Championship)."

* "Tulsa Tough's well-chosen venues were ringed with cool restaurants and bars and big crowds of spectators. And talk about accommodation, just for this race the city of Tulsa completely paved about eight blocks of streets. That's what you call service. From the prize list to the atmosphere, the Tulsa Tough organizers put a lot of thought and energy into what many race organizers ignore -- having a good time. And really giving me a great first impression of Tulsa!"

The Tulsa Sports Commission, now in its 13th year, has had a lead role in many sports events and championships as host. Tulsa is a better place with greater than $235 million in economic impact from such efforts. Yet, I have not seen a better and more satisfying sports event than Tulsa Tough Ride and Race and the promise that it holds for the community. It is an event that delivers "quality of life" in big doses.

...As a first time event, Tulsa Tough Ride and Race has the opportunity to grow to more than 10,000 participants and earn a date on the sport of cycling's national racing calendar.

...Tulsa Tough Ride and Race is a cycling competition for pro racers (criteria) and a recreational activity for riders with five challenging venues from downtown, the river and north and west through Tulsa County. It also includes a Kid's Rodeo, festival entertainment, exhibits and promotes local hotels, restaurants and merchants. It is free to the public, spectator and family friendly. The event showcased Tulsa's virtues, spirit, core values, downtown, the river and scenic outdoors.

...Mark your calendar for the 2007 Tulsa Tough Ride and Race now and experience this event and your city as these visitors and participants have described it -- "Cool!"

Mike Dodson is executive director of the Tulsa Sports Commission.


Excerpts from today's Tulsa World:

You can get there from here

By JANET PEARSON World Editorial Writer

Transportation plans evolve

With apologies to Andy Rooney, did you ever wonder where all those lines on these highway maps come from?

Most citizens probably don't give transportation planning much thought. Sometimes, they wish they had; just ask those folks living around the proposed Arkansas River Bridge site at South Yale Avenue.

Believe it or not, citizens can influence transportation planning, but the sooner they get involved, the better their chances.

Two stages of this area's transportation planning process are under way, one nearing the end and one just starting.

The mother of all transportation plans is the Regional Transportation Plan, which is about to undergo a regular five-year update. This update will be greatly different from previous planning efforts, explained INCOG transportation manager Tim Armer, because it will be joined with another huge planning process about to start soon: the overhaul of the city's Comprehensive Plan, a massive land-use and zoning document that guides development in Tulsa.

The more immediate activity is the finalizing of the next Transportation Improvement Program, which includes projects that have already gone through
the five-year planning process and for which funding has been identified. This TIP includes a work schedule for the years 2007 through 2010.

"The TIP is kind of the connection between the five-year plan and where the rubber hits the road, so to speak," said Armer.

Notable elements of this TIP include expansion of Interstate 44 to six lanes from Yale Avenue to 41st Street; reconstruction of the interchange of 193rd East Avenue, Oklahoma 66 and I-44; acquisition of right of way for I-44 improvements at Harvard Avenue; expansion of U.S. 169 northward from Interstate 244 to Oklahoma 266, and expansion of US 64 (Memorial Drive) from the Creek Turnpike south to 111th Street South.

The INCOG board is scheduled to take action on TIP on July 13. Area citizens can still offer input up until that date.

Comments can be sent by fax at (918) 583-7526, by phone at (918) 584-7526, by e-mail at, or by mail at 201 West Fifth St., Suite 600, Tulsa, 74103.

More specifics on the TIP can be obtained from the INCOG office and the entire TIP plan, including funding and scheduling details on all projects, is posted online on the INCOG Web site,

...citizens have a better chance at getting their ideas accepted if they join the process early. The Regional Transportation Plan update offers that opportunity.

This plan is the guiding transportation document for urban areas required by the federal government for all transportation projects that receive any federal funding, including airports, trails, railways and roads. The Federal Highway Administration provides an easily understood explanation of the whole process and how citizens can become involved in it on its Web site, .

The latest plan update has been dubbed Connections 2035, and follows the last five-year plan update which was known as Destination 2030, parts of which already are in construction and design phases.

More information on the new planning effort can be found on the INCOG Web site at

This effort will consider any transportation system improvements that might be needed by the year 2035. In the first phase, to end this December, surveying of area residents and organizations about their transportation habits and views will occur.

...One major aim is to learn how Tulsans want their city to look and feel years from now. Do they want more mixed-use developments where they can live, work and play? Do they want some limited light rail lines serving activity centers, or even a commuter rail line to the suburbs? Do they want more high-intensity development?

"We are on the cusp here in Tulsa of so many wonderful things," Armer said. "People are expressing more and more interest in different things, and we need to seize the opportunity with all those ideas out there and all the planning going on and marry all those efforts."

Janet Pearson 581-8328

From the FFY2007-2010TIP.pdf

Alternative Transportation – Projects that promote alternatives to Single Occupant
Vehicle (SOV) usage. Sample projects include, but are not limited to:

Transit capital, research, safety improvements, and/or
management systems costs
Carpool/vanpool projects
Sidewalk modifications and/or walkway projects
Bicycle transportation projects
Multimodal connections (park & ride lots)


pedaller said, "...just because cycling infrastructure gets built... there's no room for complacency, what gets built can just as easily be destroyed."

While I'm certainly not a fan of bike lanes, I can relate well to the idea of becoming complacent. When the city of Tulsa designed their on-road bicycle routes, there was a stipulation from Public Works that none of them be along arterials. So the routes are laid out along quiet, low-traffic neighborhood streets. And of course, someone complained about cyclists using 'their' streets. I could envision someone using environmental laws to delay the construction of just such a plan, and given the litigious nature of some Americans, it's probably only a matter of time. If lawyers make a big stink over an issue, regardless of its merits, there's a good chance a city will kill a project rather than go through an expensive court fight. Cyclists need to be aware of these possibilities, stay on top of planning issues, and be prepared to take the moral high gound when vocalopposition is necessary.

But here's another aspect to complacency that popped up last week. The story about Anna, Texas, prompted some local cyclists to comment that it's a Texas issue, not one for Oklahoma. The presumption is that it can't happen here. No one would seriously consider banning bicyclists from an area road, particularly with the transparently bogus agrument that it's being done for their own safety. (Would someone advocate banning motor vehicles from a particular intersection because there are lots of crashes there? From a safety standpoint it would be sensible.)

It can happen here. It can happen anywhere. Cyclists are banned from bridges and roadways all the time. All we have to do is piss off the right person: the mayor, an influential councilman, or a major campaign donor.

A few years ago, some Texas legislator introduced a bill to bar bicyclists from ALL farm-to-market roads - essentially every county road in state. And I've been reading Steven Robert's "Computing Across America: The bicycle Odyssey of a high-tech nomad" . He encountered bridges, tunnels, and entire communities that banned bicycle travel. Try crossing the Mississippi River when the only bridge for miles is closed to cyclists.

It can happen here. It can happen anywhere.

Most of the time, cyclists receive little more than benign neglect from local law enforcement. Motorists - themselves almost universally guilty of routine speeding on our roads - complain that cyclists threaten public safety by ignoring stop signs and other traffic devices. Yet the cops aren't interested in enforcing the laws that cyclists break (Except in Paul Tay's case, and even then, some of their reasons for stopping him are suspect).

The best way to avoid getting banned from our roadways, a draconian 'solution' to cycling safety, is to ride legally and responsibly. That would seem to indicate that cities with a CM ride could be expected to attempt to ban cyclists. Or some places that have large group rides may make a similar attempt. Yet, riding legally and responsibly seems to have had no influence on the city of Anna.

There is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution. But when cyclists act like complete, road-going idiots, flouting traffic law and generally becoming a pain in the ass, we make it easier for those bigoted, pro-motoring interests to legislate us off the roads.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

San Francisco

Ah, the irony of using environmental laws to block a plan intended to increase bicycle use, an environmentally friendly transportation mode! Welcome to America!

The cautionary note in this for the rest of us is that what happens in California usually spreads to the rest of the nation. If this challenge is effective, we can expect to see more 'environmental impact' studies of various bicycle facilities and projects.

As I've said before, we enjoy an enormous range of freedom in this country, unless we muck about with automobile traffic!

Judge puts city's bicycle plan on hold

Injunction imposed until project's review process examined

Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A San Francisco judge has let the air out of the city's ambitious bicycle plan, forbidding the striping of new bike lanes and preventing Muni from allowing riders to take their two-wheelers aboard trains.

Superior Court Judge James Warren issued a preliminary injunction this week at the request of two groups, Coalition for Adequate Review and 99 Percent, which are seeking greater public review of the bicycle plan. The plan, approved last year by the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Gavin Newsom, is designed to make the streets of San Francisco more bicycle-friendly by creating more dedicated bike lanes and places to securely stow bikes.

The injunction will stay in place until the court decides whether the bike plan has undergone adequate environmental review. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 13.

The groups' leaders say they are not anti-bicycle but in favor of due process. They sued the city in July 2005, arguing that San Francisco violated state environmental law by not properly assessing the plan's effects on the flow of automobile traffic and public transit, and on the availability of street parking.

...Rob Anderson, an activist who sued the city. "Just because we're progressives here in San Francisco doesn't mean we're above the law. They're eliminating parking and taking away lanes of traffic. What we want is a full (environmental impact report) so the public will know exactly how this plan affects them.''

He said the city has opted to cater to a small group of bicyclists to the detriment of motorists.

E-mail Rachel Gordon at

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

ANOTHER road ban in Texas

From the League of American Bicyclists:

June 19, 2006

Help Fight a Bicycle Ban in North Texas!

Last week, the League and the Texas Bicycle Coalition alerted cyclists to a possible bike ban on a critical east-west road, FM 455, in Anna, Texas. In response, more than 100 cyclists attended the City Council public hearing on June 13. Anna is located in Collin County, north of Dallas. Representatives from BikeDFW, the Plano Bicycle Association, the Texas Bicycle Coalition and two citizens from Anna spoke against the bike ban. Only one resident was in attendance to support the bike ban.

Despite the impressive turnout, the Anna City Council passed a motion to increase the fine for cycling on FM 455 to $200. The Council also chose to add the penalty of impounding the bicycles of offenders. The motion did remove a requirement that bicycles be registered with the City. The Council added the word 'temporary' to the bike ban ordinance with no explanation or discussion. The duration of temporary was not defined, but the Texas Bicycle Coalition has evidence to indicate that it will be a minimum of five years before the roadway in question can be widened. The citizens of Anna, Texas need your help!

Write respectful letters addressed to Anna Mayor Kenneth Pelham requesting the City of Anna repeal the bike ban ordinance on FM 455.He can be reached at The Honorable Kenneth L. Pelham; City of Anna; P.O. Box 776; Anna, Texas 75409. The League’s letter to Mayor Pelham can be found here:

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Before I forget...

Money can't buy happiness, but it can get you a damned good cup of coffee, and that's a start!

Dish Network Follow-up

This is the response from Dish Network:

Thank you for your email. We would like to apologize on behalf of the DISH Network for the way you were treated by our representative. Please understand that as a growing company, we are continuously training all of our employees and constantly re-evaluating our customer service.

We appreciate that you have brought this to our attention so that we may address this issue with the appropriate personnel/department. Once again, please accept our sincerest apologies and we thank you for your feedback.

We appreciate your email and we are always happy to be of service.

It seems to be a form letter. Granted, the incident was an isolated one, unlike the white Honda events, so it's very unlikely that I'll see that driver again. But it would be wonderful to get some companies with large fleets to include some cycling information in their safety literature. I work in aviation and safety is pounded into us with annual training. I'd suspect that any large fleet operation has something similar, if only because the lawyers insist.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Education and Enforcement: The Owasso Police Dept.

In writing about bicycling advocacy, three essential elements come up again and again. They are: education, enforcement, and engineering. Some say there’s a fourth element – encouragement – and often that’s something I write about in CycleDog.

But today’s theme is on enforcement and it has a good resolution. What follows are some e-mails sent to Chief Daniel Yancey of the Owasso PD. I had several incidents with the same teenagers and my frustration is readily apparent. The Owasso PD has been supportive and professional toward area cyclists. I fully expect that their officers would treat cyclists fairly. I also expect they wouldn’t hesitate to give me a ticket if I screwed up. That’s professionalism.

This is the first e-mail. Like I said, there’s some apparent frustration.

Chief Yancey,

Two teenage boys in a white Honda have thrown objects at me while I’ve been riding home from work on my bicycle. It’s happened 3 times, always near 86th and 129th at around 5PM, and I’ve reported it to your department twice. I’ve given the dispatcher a description of the vehicle and its tag number. As yet, nothing has been done.

Does someone have to be on the pavement bleeding before the department takes notice? Catching an object in the spokes can result in loss of control and a fall, something I’d rather avoid in traffic.

In Tulsa, Paul Tay was arrested and charged with a felony for throwing an object at a motor vehicle. In Owasso, two young men were throwing paint balls at cars and pedestrians. Someone noted the tag, and an officer showed up on the owner’s doorstep within a few minutes. As I write this, your officers are looking for some young men who threw eggs at a car. Are cyclists somehow less deserving of police attention?

Chief Yancey, I’ve always relied on the professionalism and integrity of the Owasso PD. I truly have a high regard for you and your officers. I’m asking you to look into this before it escalates. These kids will continue hassling cyclists because they haven’t experienced any consequences for doing so, and their harassment will escalate.

I could find them myself, and if need be, I will. But I would prefer that one of your officers have a talk with the driver.

Chief Yancey wrote back and asked for more detail. I won’t post his message here because I believe it’s rude to post someone else’s e-mail without their permission. I sent the following as a reply. Please note that the tag number has been expunged:

Chief Yancey,

The incidents have all occurred near the intersection of 86th and 129th at about 5PM. The first one was on April 12, and I called the PD at 1721. The second incident occurred a few weeks later, and I didn't report that one. The last one was on Wednesday, May 24. I called the dispatcher at 1712 according to my phone record.

The car is a white Honda, Oklahoma tag XXX_XXX occupied by two white males, possibly juveniles. They were southbound on 129 on two occasions, and turned west onto 86th to throw cups at me. On Wednesday, I was northbound on 129 as they passed going south, and again they threw something.

Chief, I know that this isn't a big issue for the PD. That's only realistic. But these kids haven't met with any consequences for their behavior, and if they see me as a convenient target, you can be sure they'll do the same to other cyclists. I certainly don't want to fall in traffic, and I'm sure other cyclists would prefer to avoid that too.

This morning, 15JUN2006, Lieutenant Driver called to confirm some information with me. I told him I was about 90% certain I’d gotten the tag right. He said it checked back to a Honda with an Owasso address. He said they had a report of a similar car being driven recklessly around a local apartment complex, but no one had the tag number. Lt. Driver planned to contact the parents sometime today or tomorrow.

At lunchtime, he called back. He had a conversation with the young man’s mother, who said she’d confront him. If he denied the incident, he’d have another meeting at the police department.

Now, some might say that law enforcement and education are opposite sides of the same coin, in that they’re both focused on changing an individual’s behavior. The major difference is the means employed in making that change. Education is the carrot. Behavioral change is encouraged as something that improves the individual and it comes from within. Enforcement is the stick. Change results from a fearful regard for the consequences and comes from external sources. Regardless of the method, the goal is the same – to promote a change in behavior.

One of the central ideas of the League Cycling Instructor program is that people learn in different ways. Most (like me) are visual learners. If we read something and write it down, we remember it. Some are ‘hands-on’ learners. My son is a hands-on kind of kid. A small percentage can listen and remember well enough to learn. But that relates mostly to classroom learning. In the real world, some have to learn through encounters with local law enforcement. This is known as the School of Hard Knocks, and I’m sorry to say I’ve been hard-headed enough to have to learn things that way. I accumulated too many speeding tickets on my motorcycle.

Obviously, I’d prefer that we influence driver’s behavior by teaching the basics of cycling in our schools, beginning in elementary grades with kids who ride to school, and even incorporating bicycling education into our driver’s ed classes at the secondary level. The Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition is making some headway on this issue, and I’ll write more about it as details emerge.

Finally, my thanks go out to Owasso Chief of Police Daniel Yancey, Lieutenant Doug Driver, and the officers of the Owasso Police Department. They truly make Owasso a better place for all of us.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 anniversary

Today is our twentieth wedding anniversary. I bought Mary a card and wrote the following inside:

Twenty years! It really doesn't seem that twenty years have slipped by since our wedding day. You were so worried about the rain that day, afraid that it would ruin your hair and all your plans. Do you remember the rain? I do. Every life has a litle bit of rain. We've weathered it well. I loved you then. I love you now. I'll love you to the end of my days.

She's keeping the card for evidence.

Tulsa Ozone Alert for Thursday, 15JUN2006

(I'll be on the bike again tomorrow, just like any other day!...Ed)

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has issued an Ozone Alert!
for the Tulsa Metro area for Thursday, 6-15-06.

Active children, adults and especially people with respiratory disease
such as asthma should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.


Ride the Bus... its only 50 cents on Ozone Alert! Days sponsored by Sunoco
Ride your bike to work.
Telecommute if possible.

Carpool-share a ride
Combine trips, cars pollute the most when they are first started.
Turn your vehicle's A/C off for the morning commute.
Refuel in the evening and avoid spilling gas.
Avoid long idle times.
Brown bag it for lunch rather than going out.

Avoid using gas-powered lawn mowers, weed trimmers, etc.
Turn up your thermostat a few degrees before leaving home.
Postpone permissible outdoor burning to a non-alert day.

Thank You for doing what you can.

For more tips see the Ozone Alert web page:

Dish Network

(I sent the following to the Dish Network contact earlier today. Their page
says I should receive a response within 48 hours....Ed)

As I rode my bicycle to work this morning, a Dish Network truck passed me on
86th Street North in Owasso, Oklahoma. The driver yelled out the window,
"Get off the road!" He turned right and sped off.

Every state recognizes bicycles and riders as legitimate road users, subject
to all the rights and all the responsibilities of any other road user. No
one has a superior right to the road. The concept of unencumbered access to
our streets is fundamental to our way of life. Americans have a right to
use our public roads, a right that is equal regardless of their chosen
transportation mode.

Your Dish Network driver wasn't threatening or abusive. He merely reflected
the common misperception that cyclists have no place on our roads. There's
a simple remedy to this misperception - bicycling education for both
cyclists and motorists.

I'm an instructor with the League of American Bicyclists. We teach
bicycling education courses that are analogous to the driver's ed courses
offered in most schools. The BikeEd program is for beginning and
experienced cyclists, motorists, and parents with children. No doubt many
of your employees use bicycles for transportation and recreation, and with
fuel prices expected to remain high, many more cyclists will be out on our
roads. I urge you to offer bicycling education for all your employees.
Course information can be found at:

Ed Wagner
League of American Bicyclists Instructor #1065
Owasso, Oklahoma

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Insurance ad

Liberty Mutual, an insurance company, is running a double page ad in USA
Today, with the tag line "Yes, there's an insurance company that's as
responsible as you are."

The first photo is a bicycle messenger with this text: "Doesn't believe
lunch hour means lunch hour and a half." The guy is dressed in messenger
grunge, and he's wearing a helmet and gloves. But if you look closely, he's
riding what is presumably a track bike sans brakes.

Riding without brakes in traffic is a hazardous practice and it's surprising
that an insurance company would run such a photo. I know, I know, there are
tons of people who do it, but with the trendy popularity of fixed gears just
now, it seems irresponsible to promote brakeless riding. I ride a fixed
gear regularly, using it to commute to work and back, and despite 30 years
of fixed gear experience, I still have occasion to use the brake a few times
each week. It may not be necessary to use it every time I have to stop, but
it's good to have it when I need it.

I ran into a guy on one of the Freewheel training rides in the early spring.
He's a bit older than me and he rides a vintage Schwinn Paramount track bike
without brakes. He does it 'old school' style, with a pair of heavy
welder's gloves that he uses to slow down. Like I said, I have a lot of
experience on a fixed gear, but I'd still hesitate to try this, particularly
on a twitchy track bike.

No, I'm not going to email the insurance company and point out the glaring
irony of that photo. It's likely someone will, though. Given my history
with insurance companies, it would only give them an excuse to raise my rates - again.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tulsa Ozone Alert for Monday, June 12

My son loves ozone alert days because he gets out of cutting the grass that day!

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has issued an Ozone Alert!
for the Tulsa Metro area for Monday, 6-12-06.

Active children, adults and especially people with respiratory disease
such as asthma should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.


Ride the Bus... its only 50 cents on Ozone Alert! Days sponsored by Sunoco
Ride your bike to work.
Telecommute if possible.

Carpool-share a ride
Combine trips, cars pollute the most when they are first started.
Turn your vehicle's A/C off for the morning commute.
Refuel in the evening and avoid spilling gas.
Avoid long idle times.
Brown bag it for lunch rather than going out.

Avoid using gas-powered lawn mowers, weed trimmers, etc.
Turn up your thermostat a few degrees before leaving home.
Postpone permissible outdoor burning to a non-alert day.

Thank You for doing what you can.

For more tips see the Ozone Alert web page.

Road Rage 'Disease'

Who wants to bet that some road-raging motorist will end up in court after killing or maiming someone, and claim that he's not really at fault because he has a disease? Maybe I could try to convince a judge that I was just cleaning my fingernails when my fist went off by accident, slamming into some fool's nose.

Excerpts from the Tulsa World:

Road rage isn't a disease, it's a state of mind

WASHINGTON -- "Road rage" is now an official disease -- Intermittent Explosive Disorder, the shrinks call it.

According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, something on the order of 16 million Americans suffer from IED. Inadequate production of the brain chemical serotonin leaves victims unable to regulate their moods properly -- and thus, their behavior on the nation's crowded highways.

But is IED really a malady? Or just the natural expression of a heavily overtaxed fight-or-flight mechanism that has been intrinsic to human nature since time immemorial?

...The chaos, the unremitting noise, the slow boil of constant pressure with no escape valve and the flood of stress hormones that rush into our bloodstream are natural responses a relentless stream of stressful situations.

...It's ugly and unpleasant -- but it's the reality. Being quiet and polite is not only increasingly difficult, it's apt to leave one holding the short end of the stick -- constantly abused by more aggressive motorists with a passion for self-preservation.

That's not a disease. It's an entirely predictable reaction to an unnatural situation.

Sitting in traffic for a couple of hours every day is madness.

...We don't need a pill. We need to recognize a dangerous and unhealthy situation for what it is -- and take steps to ameliorate it. That would include encouraging people to live closer to where they work and governments and businesses to expand telecommuting opportunities instead of herding workers into some distant suburbs through short-sighted land policies.

Failing that, subscribe to satellite radio, gets some books on tape -- whatever it takes to get your mind and your glands off the galling prospect of another daily grind. Your blood pressure will thank you. And you might just avoid a fender-bender, a fist-fight -- or worse.

American motorists don't need a pill or therapy on a psychiatrist's couch. If the federal experts really want to curb road rage they should put policies in place that address the underlying causes rather than label the victims sufferers so-called "Intermittent Explosive Disorder."

Disease-ifying the frustrations of drivers idling their lives away on clogged commuter roads will do nothing to solve the real problems.

Eric Peters is a columnist for The Army Times, The Navy Times and Readers may write to him at 721 Hummingbird Lane, Copper Hill, Va. 24079.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Chain lube

Cyclists are a contentious bunch. Just mention helmets in a newsgroup, for instance, and watch the sparks fly! Now, chain lube may not be as divisive an issue, but I'll state in advance that the following is my opinion, and your's may differ.

Paul Tay wrote:

...I am gonna try this kewl new idea for chain lube and cleaner: model airplane fuel. It turns out da said fuel is a highly flammable, well duh, mixture of probably kerosene and some kind of lubricant, probably parafin. Da said kerosene vapors off and leaves a film of some kinda protective slimy stuff, da parafin? ...Got any ideas on dat?

Back in the old days, before STI even, we used kerosene as a near-universal solvent in the shop. We kept it in an old pressure cooker and used the basket for soaking parts. It was cheap and it worked. But disposal was a problem. I usually mixed it with the used motor oil when I went to the recycling center.

Kerosene is far less volatile than gasoline, and I suspect that just like gasoline, the model airplane fuel could ignite very easily. Gas vapors are heavier than air, so they 'puddle' and flow downhill. I'd be very hesitant to use any form of gasoline as a solvent.

Kerosene removed all the grime and old lube from bearings and chains, but they still required lubrication. I tried plain old 10W motor oil for awhile. It's messy and attracts dirt. I tried 3-in-1 oil exactly once. It goes on nice and thin, but after the solvents evaporate, it leaves a thick layer of gunk behind. Motorcycle chain lube does the same thing. These products are better than nothing and since I rode a fixed gear through the winter and normally pitched the chain in the spring, this wasn't a big problem.

Replacing drivetrain parts on a multi-speed bike can get expensive, so I try to be more careful with maintenance. I started using Tri-Flow after a saleman gave me a sample can. In the late 70s, it was my high-tech lubricant of choice. The biggest drawback is that it goes on wet and stays wet. It stains clothing and does not come out - ever. But it's a fine lube and I stayed with it for years.

One of the shop mechanics talked me into trying a wax-based lubricant. I won't mention the name since I've taken to calling all of them 'boutique' lubes. It worked fine, but it had to be reapplied far too often. I found that it lasted only about a week in regular commuting use, and that's about 100 miles for me. If it rained, it had to be reapplied that much sooner. But the stuff was very clean.

A friend is an Amzoil dealer, and he told me about their Metal Protectant Heavy Duty (MPHD). This is a wax-based lubricant too, but it's more an industrial product. It will stain clothing somewhat, but not as bad as oil or Tri-Flow. It will develop a brownish build up on chainrings if the excess isn't wiped off promptly. But it lasts twice as long as the boutique lubes and per unit, it costs much less. The boutique stuff was $6 for 4 ounces. MPHD is about $8 for 16 ounces. The appearance isn't an issue for me because my commuter bikes aren't pristine anyway. I use them and use them hard, so I want them to work reliably. They don't have to be pretty.

I clean the chain with WD-40 and scrub it with a rag to try to remove as much dirt as possible. Then after the solvent evaporates, I apply the MPHD and wipe off the excess. I wipe the chainrings and crankarms, and anywhere that might have caught some overspray. Then I'm good for another 200 miles.

Tour de Owasso - Part 2

I hit the big time today!

A woman had her husband's old bicycle, a Giant RS950 road bike, for sale for $5! It's too small for me, but I simply couldn't pass it by. This is a chrome-moly frame, about 56cm center-to-top, with Shimano 105 downtube shifters and related parts. It has Biopace chainrings, which would probably put the manufacturing date as early to mid-80s. This is a steel frame with horizontal frame ends that would make the bike a good candidate for a fixed gear. The wheels are Shimano 105 6 speed with Wolber rims and dry rotted tires. This bike does not appear to have had heavy use. I'll know more after measuring the chain wear.

But it does have one of those funky, white Turbo saddles.

This one may go into the community cycling program as a donation, or if Jordan is interested, he may ride it for the summer. For that matter, I think it's Brian's size too, so he may be interested in a backup commuter bike.

The Giant originally came from Tom's Bicycles down in Tulsa, so I'll write to him about it too.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Our Tulsa World

Tulsa's own Man-Who-Would-Be-Mayor, Paul Tay, was the subject of the piece above. When he's not getting ticketed for failure to ride as far right as practicable, or defending himself for other heinous cycling acts, Paul pedals around town pulling a large trailer afixed with various signs.

He's the nemesis of some local radio chat shows, and he's the focus of several area law enforcement departments whenever he's out and about on the street. As I was leaving the BTW event last month, I overheard a TPD officer speaking into his microphone. "Paul Tay's down here somewhere!" he informed the dispatcher and every other officer in the downtown area. He's been an overnight 'guest' of police departments in Tulsa and OKC.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Tour de Owasso

It sounds better than "The Garage Sale Tour" or anything else I could think up! I rode to Panera for coffee early this morning, then wandered through town looking at yard sales. Normally, I watch for old textbooks, especially ones on writing, literature or history, Weeks ago, I found a history text from the mid-1950s with an interesting take on the development of nuclear power and the Cold War.

Since I'm on vacation, I've been out on the Centurion fixed gear almost every morning. I ride for coffee and a newspaper. We have several new coffee shops, so I've been sampling the goodies. I had some Italian roast at Nordaggio's that was wonderful but pricey. They have gelato too, so I'll have to take Mary up there, maybe this afternoon.

Today was different since most yard sales around here are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I found a Park PZT-1 pizza wheel! I have a good selection of Park tools, and although I've thought the pizza wheel would be nice, it's hardly an esential. When I saw this one for 50 cents, of course I couldn't pass it up. It was still in the box with an instruction sheet! When I got home, I showed Mary my prize, and told her it would look perfect up on the mantle. She rolled her eyes and I think she's suffering from what she calls "the vapors" now.

Oh, I do have an essential tool that stays in my pocket at all times, in addition to a small Victorinox 'Bijou' knife and a heavier Spyderco. It's a Schwinn centennial edition spoke wrench that's shaped like a Schwinn head tube badge and fits Japanese spokes. But it's essential function is that it doubles as a bottle opener. People who like beer should never be without a bottle opener.

Finding an old bicycle at a bargain price would be a bonus too. I have a fantasy of stumbling across a Masi or a Mercian in my size, but most are the big-box-store bicycle shaped objects. They're mostly suitable for pitching into a lake to make artificial reefs for bass habitat, but would that constitute cruel and unusual punishment for the fish?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


The hit counter down at the bottom of this page just turned over 30,000 today. There are more sophisticated ways to look at readership, but since I'm trying to remain a technological Luddite, I'll stick with that simple counter.

My thanks to all of you who read this regularly. I try to be informative and funny, but to be perfectly honest, the funny stuff can be alternately trying and fluid when it's being written. Sometimes it just flows from my fingertips into the keyboard. At other times it's like getting a root canal. Fritz of Cycle-licious sent a cartoon that perfectly illustrated the frustration of writing. Let's just say that coffee works as a brain solvent, sometimes with good results, and sometimes not.

Some of the political blogs see over 30,000 hits per month, so having that number here in CycleDog isn't especially earth-shaking, but I'm still tickled with it.

Again, my thanks to all of you.


The morning mailbag...

Here's something a little unusual, a story about cyclists going too fast downhill, and getting banned from those roads - for their own safety, of course. I guess hitting 50mph is unsafe if you're riding a BMX bike because they tend to become unstable at high speed. Still, would anyone dream of banning motorists from a stretch of roadway because they can go too fast? "We're sorry, but the turnpike has been closed to motor vehicles after the state police discovered the majority of motor vehicles were exceeding the speed limit, and police officials are afraid the excessive speed may contribute to more crashes." I'm not trying to be cold about this, but there's a certain responsibility in riding (or driving) that rests on the individual. If you don't have the skills, suitable equipment, or the temperament for riding at high speed, you shouldn't do it. It shouldn't be a matter for the authorities to ban all cyclists because some of them might get hurt.

Now, about those drivers and their responsibilities; the second piece is a predictable complaint about cyclists going too slow and 'clogging up the roads'. The writer asks who's responsible when a motorist has to cross the center line to pass those pesky slow-moving cyclists, apparently without realizing it's the motorist's responsibility to overtake and pass safely.

If gasoline reached world price levels of around $6/gallon, these complaints about bicycles would end, mainly because many of the whining motorists would have to park their vehicles and ride a bike instead. Despite the irony of the idea, seeing those drivers wobbling down the street wouldn't hold a great deal of joy, because we'd all be paying far higher prices for groceries and everything else that had to be delivered by truck. Fuel price increases spread like ripples on a pond.

Portland 'zoo bombing' ritual gets more risky

10:46 PM PDT on Tuesday, June 6, 2006


A daring Portland ritual sent one woman to the hospital earlier this week and brought attention to a fad often referred to as “zoo bombing.”

Zoo bombing is when cyclists barrel down a hill as fast as they can, like the hill below the Oregon Zoo, or -- even more risky -- the highway that runs from the zoo to the edge of downtown Portland.

...Authorities said the group was not only endangering lives, but breaking the law, too.

Posted signs clearly state that non-motorized vehicles are not allowed on Hwy. 26 and even the city’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance says that stretch of highway is no place for cyclists.

“Until those prohibitions are lifted, we don't support bicycling in those areas. They are off-limits for a reason,” said BTA leader Evan Manvel.

But risk-takers are doing it anyway. They even have a special name for their favorite zoo bombing highway – they call it “hell-way.”

Portland police officers said they haven’t cracked down on the zoo bombers because there have been very few complaints about them.

The cyclists usually gather on Sunday nights, often on child-sized bikes, and zoom down the hill together at speeds up to 50 miles an hour.


Readers write

June 7, 2006

Scary situation

Who is in charge of allowing hundreds of bicycle riders to clog and disrupt our roadways, creating havoc with the motorists? Not only who, but by what right does this person/persons have to make this decision? Last Sunday, every second there was a near head-on collision between drivers crossing over the double yellow line trying to avoid hitting a cyclist, who should have been on the bike path not the highway endangering motorists on that road. We spent millions of dollars putting in the bike path. The main reason being to keep cyclists safe from being run down by an automobile. Secondly, to keep motorists safe from accidentally colliding with an on-coming car while trying to miss a cyclist.

H.H. Hunter
Tahoe City


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

From The Independent (UK)

Here are some excerpts from a UK newspaper highlighting their increase in cycling. It's worth reading the whole thing. I was surprised at the average travel speed being only 10 mph, and that it's actually 2 mph slower than it was a century ago!......Ed Online Edition: Home

Revolution! Britain embraces the bicycle

By Cahal Milmo
Published: 07 June 2006

Britain is in the grip of a cycling revolution as clogged roads, concern at global warming caused by air pollution and the quest for improved fitness persuade millions to opt for pedal power.

After a decade of stagnation in the number of bicycle journeys, new figures show there has been a dramatic leap in commuters and leisure cyclists focused on Britain's cities and the burgeoning network of cycle routes. In London, trips by bike have increased by 50 per cent in five years to 450,000 per day while figures obtained by The Independent show use of the National Cycle Network, covering 10,000 miles of urban and rural pathways, rose last year by 15 per cent to 232 million journeys.
Experts said the boom was being driven by a mixture of factors, ranging from the "feel-good" influence of getting fit and reducing the impact on the environment to the practical reality that cycling is often a quicker, cheaper and more pleasant way to get around compared to private vehicles on jammed roads and overcrowded buses and trains. Traffic in London now travels at 10mph on average - 2mph slower than it did in 1906 - while satisfaction levels with public transport stand at 44 per cent for the Tube, 37 per cent for buses and 28 per cent for trains.

The growth has been led by London, where the July 7 bomb attacks generated a 20 per cent increase in cycling as commuters abandoned the Tube.

That "spike" has turned out to be a temporary blip, with most returning to public transport.
But amid burgeoning sales of bicycles and accessories (put at £500m per annum), campaigners insisted that the cycling revolution is far from comprehensive and is being starved of Government funding. Despite a pledge (quietly dropped in 2002) from Labour to quadruple the number of cyclists between 1996 and 2012, Britain spends just £1 per capita each year on cycling infrastructure and training. The European average is £5.
Adam Coffman, senior transport campaigner for CTC, the national cyclists' advocacy group, said: "Central government cannot take much credit for the growth in cycling because the money has not been put in. This has been a movement from the bottom up led from places like London. The growth is very encouraging but we still lack a cycling culture in Britain. There is a tendency to think you need to don special clothes and buy an expensive bike whereas cycling needs to be seen as part of normal activity - what you do to go to the shops, school or work."

Ed Lehmann, 58: 'You're safer than in a car'
Alex Crawford, 25: 'Freedom is big appeal'
Pauline Powlesland: 'I can get to the shops in minutes'

Monday, June 05, 2006

OT - a simple question...

With the arrests of 17 would-be Al Quaeda terrorists in Canada, I have to wonder how they were initially discovered by the authorities. Could it be that their emails were monitored by our own NSA who then turned the information over to the Canadians? Since we can expect our government to be snooping through our mail, we can expect they'd have even less scruples about snooping through foreign mail. I would bet that a lot of Canadian traffic goes through US servers.

Another thing - since we've never had a known instance of Al Quaeda terrorists infiltrating through the Mexican border, are the militia groups who've been monitoring the southern border going up north to build razor wire fences to keep the Canadians out too?

Oh wait. Canadians are mostly white folks. It's not gonna happen.

...and yes, I'm implying that the 'patriot' groups patrolling our southern border are nothing more than racially-motivated bigots, using an anti-immigration stance as justification for their hatred.