Friday, September 29, 2006

Waay off topic

Waay off topic...

I'm wondering just who is on the US House of Representatives Energy &
Commerce Committee. News reports mention only two: Rep. John Dingell
(D-Mich) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore). The news articles I've read would
seem to indicate that our lawmakers find the situation at Hewlett-Packard as
deplorable as Watergate. You remember Watergate - if you're old enough,
that is - as a series of illegal acts involving domestic spying, breaking
and entering, lying under oath, and obstructing Congress. If H-P is
engaging in "arrogance, cover-up, and gross stupidity" and this is as
morally reprehensible as the Watergate scandal, how is it possible that our
present White House administration is any less reprehensible? If spying on
your employees and colleagues is repugnant, then spying on the American
people is no less repugnant.

So, who's on that committee, and how did they vote on our (acting)
president's policies? How do those votes compare to committee statements
regarding H-P?

Integrity means that an individual applies the same standards in differing
situations. If an act is morally unacceptable in one circumstance, it's not
acceptable in another and clearly doesn't depend on one's party affiliation.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thursday Musette

An Experiment

I read that piece by a loony Brit researcher, claiming that passing distance decreased if a cyclist wore a helmet. So I decided to take this idea one step further.

I thought about dressing in an evening gown, a clown outfit, or as an outer-space alien. We already have plenty of REAL aliens around Tulsa, but most of them are from Mexico. We have a guy in a Santa suit too, and I wouldn't want to be imitative. But I have to wonder if our Brit researcher thought about trying a Santa suit. Couldn't hurt.

Anyway, I found a nice, off-the-shoulder dress in my size at the Goodwill store. It's hard to find nice things that fit, especially in XXL sizes. I tried to replicate the Brit study by using a Dolly Parton lookalike wig, and in order to be authentic, I had to find a HUGE bra. But I'm still a guy, so there's no way I was gonna shave my legs, beard or mustache.

Then I was off down the road on my bike. The sun may have been in some driver's eyes as they drove off the road nearby. Others went by yelling "Pervert!" out the windows, so I can only assume they were trying to warn me of some local neer-do-well lurking in the area. Oklahomans are like that - always looking out for the other guy.

Without the fancy distance measuring equipment enployed by Dr. Walker, I can only provide anecdotal evidence regarding overtaking distances. In my estimation, drivers avoid large, hairy men wearing dresses and wigs by wide margins. Police officers, however, take an entirely different view, and I'll write more about that after the court appearance.


Carbon Fiber and Titanium

Prices for carbon fiber and titanium are expect to see huge increases over the next year or so, mainly because the Chinese are buying more of those materials for their aerospace industry, and our own military is consuming large quantities also. So bicycle frames are likely to be aluminum or even steel in some models. Imagine that - steel bicycles!

But I was wondering about something. Years ago, I worked in an electronics plant where all the manufacturing equipment was nickel plated steel. Plating prevented both corrosion and wear. Would it be suitable for a bicycle frame? Better still, industrial nickel has a dull, gray satin finish, exactly like titanium. Could there be a market for a faux Not-So-Litespeed?


Interbike in Las Vegas.

I'm so old I'd actually go there to look at the BIKES! (Or at least that's the argument I'd try with She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed!) Then there's the food, of course. Bikes and food could hold my attention for a considerably long time. The other attractions, like gambling, I could readily avoid. Let's just say that I learned that I'm not a gambler a long time ago. It was an expensive lesson.

Maybe I'll go someday, provided I get a mega-kitchen pass and I can take that much time away from the family. I'm really a homebody and I don't like to be away.


Shift change

I have a new supervisor who's decided that all of us worker bees have to be in the door earlier. That means I ride to work in the dark now. While it doesn't bother me to do that, I'd much prefer riding in daylight. I have the necessary equipment for night riding; 2 white lights for the front, two blinkies for the rear, and a red rear reflector as well. The legal requirement is a white front light, a red rear light, and a red rear refector. I subscribe to the principle of redundancy principle because I've had single lights go out at times, leaving me to improvise something. That once involved riding with a double-A flashlight clenched in my fist, and it was an experience I'd rather not repeat.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Oh, the horror!

Posted by Picasa

In one of his books, Kurt Vonnegut wrote about his brother, a research scientist. A safety inspector wandered into the brother's lab and was aghast at the myriad violations he found, some of them decidedly dangerous. He thought the place was a death trap, with hazards to life and limb within a step or two of the door.

The brother tapped a finger to the side of his head, and said, "You should see what it's like up here!"

That's my garage in the photo. We won't discuss my mental state.

And another thing...

I meant to post this days ago, but since my mind is - shall we say - porous, I simply forgot.

In that Road1 class a few weeks ago, several students asked about carrying a laptop on a bicycle. Now, my experience with a laptop on a bike is fairly limited. I've carried my old Compaq and the vibration made various connectors go flakey. The Compaq has rubberized multi-conductor strips that make contact when they're compressed between two modules. Vibration makes them go intermittent. The solution is to disassemble the modules, clean the contact areas with isopropyl alcohol, and reassemble it.

But that's the only laptop I'm familiar with, so I'm asking if any of you have found a particular solution to carrying a laptop, whether it's a bag, or some other method of minimizing vibration.

The Okie Blog Awards

Here's a link to the winner's list:

Though CycleDog was nominated, it was not a winner. Still, it was nice to have a nomination, and my thanks go out to whoever did it.

Also, my congratulations to those who did win. We have a surprisingly diverse group writing here in Oklahoma. It's clearly a pleasure to be part of it all!


Accident: n. 1. An unexpected and undesirable event. 2. Something that occurs unexpectedly or unintentionally. 3. A circumstance that is not essential to the nature of something. 4. Fortune or chance. (The American Heritage Dictionary)

In 2005, traffic deaths in the US reached a 15 year high. Over 43,000 people died on our roads, about 700 of them were cyclists, and about 4000 were pedestrians. The rest were motorists or their passengers.

That means that each month, we kill more people on our roads than the terrorists did on September 11th. We kill more each month than the number of service men and women lost to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If some foreign power killed 3,000 Americans every month, we'd carpet bomb that country around the clock until it ceased to exist.

Terrorists do not endanger us in our daily lives. We're more endangered by other Americans on our roads. If terrorists killed 3,000 per month, we'd be outraged. If airliners cost 3,000 lives per month, the airlines would be grounded. If a manufacturer marketed a product that killed 3,000 every month, he'd be out of business, and hopefully in jail. We'd applaud the government for doing it.

Here are some headlines collected over just a few days:

Cyclist tangles with car

Cyclist facing paralysis after van incident

A cyclist has been killed after she was involved in a collision with a lorry in Hackney.

Tractor-trailer strikes cyclist in Charlestown

Cyclist killed in collision with truck

The local man killed Tuesday night in a car-bicycle accident

Monroe man on bicycle struck, killed by auto on Telegraph Road

A man on a bicycle was struck and killed by a vehicle this morning on Old US 41 just north of Rosemary Drive in Bonita Springs.

Bicycle Rider Dies After Being Hit By Car

A Verona man is dead after the bike he was riding was hit by a car

Bicyclist dies Sunday morning after being struck by vehicle

Car kills bicycling tourist at coast

Bicyclist killed after being struck by car

Child Struck By Vehicle While Riding Bicycle

Ambulance hits cyclist

We accept these deaths as 'accidents', seemingly random occurrences that take lives all too frequently. I've stopped using 'accident' because it implies that there's little that can be done to prevent them. A meteorite plunging through the atmosphere and hitting someone on the head is an accident. A collision in an intersection when someone runs a red light is definitely NOT an accident. This is a preventable crash, and crash is the proper term. An accident is unavoidable, but a crash has an identifiable cause.

Look at these closely and you'll be startled by one thing - the headline format is almost universally "Cyclist killed by Name-That-Vehicle" when in reality it should read "Motorist Kills Cyclist". It's almost as if the motor vehicle developed a mind of its own and went off hunting for people to mow down. Cars don't kill people. Drivers kill people. By sticking with the cyclist-killed-by-vehicle format, newspapers downplay the human factor involved in so many crashes, and tacitly endorse the killing as a mere unavoidable factor in modern living.

Three thousand people each month. At that rate, my hometown in Pennsylvania would be wiped out in less than a week. You, your family, and every one of your friends probably wouldn't equal the daily carnage on our roads. Imagine that - everyone you know gone in one day. The scale of the carnage is unimaginable, too large for most of us to grasp unless we put it in more personal terms. And is there anything more personal, more painful than the death of someone near and dear? I don't think so.

We're willing, perhaps too willing to accept government intrusion into our communications and banking, but we regard stop light cameras as invasive? Great Britain cut their annual death rate in half by installing cameras at intersections and aggressively targeting speeding. Some bark loudly about the invasive nature of such cameras and claim they're a governmental intrusion into private behavior. But what expectation of privacy should anyone have on a public street? What should be private about running someone down in an intersection? Why accept the idea that such 'private' behavior should be beyond the scrutiny of law enforcement?

Hold your elected officials accountable. Hold their feet to the fire and demand that they act to reduce those numbers. Don't accept platitudes and unfunded initiatives that give them political cover. Raise hell.

As for the offenders, take their keys away permanently. Devise a database that forbids anyone convicted of a traffic-related death from ever having a driver's license again, and legally barred from owning any motor vehicle - ever - not even a riding lawn mower. Confiscate and sell every motor vehicle they presently own with the money going to a victim’s fund. If someone commits a crime with a gun in hand, we remove all the guns from his residence. That’s safe and sensible. Why should it be any different for vehicles? If someone harms another human being with a car, take his cars away. Install traffic cameras at intersections. Aggressively enforce speed limits and red light running - for ALL classes of vehicles.

Let's stop the killing. Drive your car as if the other guy on the road is your brother. Drive your bike as if your Mom was in that overtaking car. And if anyone tries to tell you that a crash "was just an accident", tell them that those 43,000 American citizens died needlessly, and they’re our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, in short, our extended family, and it’s a disgrace that we accept their deaths so lightly.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Old Dog


This is my commuter bike, an old Centurion LeMans 12 that probably dates from the late 70s or early 80s. I bought it at a garage sale and used it for commuting and cyclocross before converting it to a fixed gear. It's not the oldest bike in the garge, but it's close. The only ones older would be my ancient Pennine - also a fixed gear these days - and a couple of Raleigh DL1s.

If you look carefully, you'll notice that's a vintage Campy Nuovo Record crankset, complete with Campy bottom bracket. Those parts are probably worth more than the rest of the bike altogether. It has Mavic MA2 rims laced to Suntour sealed bearing hubs and Universal 68 brakes.

I rode the Centurion up to Panera Bread this morning. Wade and I had coffee, then he was off to have breakfast with a lady acquaintance. Single guys have all the fun! I wandered around town checking out garage sales and the Goodwill store. I found a snow globe for Lyndsay, a cat book for Mary, and a book of essays for me (The Conscious Reader, Ninth Edition, with material from a host of writers both classic and modern).

That's the exterior of my garge door behind the Centurion. I'll post a photo of the interior too. Let's be kind and say that it's cluttered. But the interior of my mind is much, much worse! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

MS150 Tragedy

A local teenager died on the MS150 bicycle tour over the weekend. According to this report and another in the Tulsa World, he was waved through the intersection by one of the volunteers. At this point, of course, the cause is undetermined as the police continue their investigation, so I'm not going to speculate as to whether the volunteer is to blame.

But for all of us traveling on two wheels there's an inescapable lesson. We must look after our own safety. We cannot depend on others to do so. On a group ride, if the leader yells, "Clear!" and rides through the intersection, every rider behind him is still responsible for his own safety. If a volunteer waves one of us through an intersection, we are still responsible for our safety. When a courtesy-minded motorist stops and motions for one of us to make a left turn across his path, we are still responsible.

Please don't let group think put you in danger. Don't put your brain on autopilot when safety volunteers line the course. Be alert. Be wary. And be safe.

I can't imagine the hell that family is going through right now. It's every parent's worst nightmare - losing a child. I think it would rock the foundations of sanity, and that is not an exaggeration.

Hug your kids tonight and tell them you love them.

Sister of accident victim blames safety volunteer

KTEN Local News

TULSA, Okla. The sister of a teenager who died during a charity bicycle event says a safety volunteer waved her brother into the path of a semi truck that struck and killed him.

Charlie Vogann died yesterday as he turned from a county road onto Oklahoma 16 about a mile south of Okay in Wagoner County. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports that the 15-year-old collided with the truck's rear axle, was thrown 164 feet from impact and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sabrina Aldrich also was participating in the 21st Annual M-S Bike Tour and was riding beside her brother when the two approached the intersection. Aldrich says a safety volunteer motioned for the two to go across, but Aldrich saw the oncoming truck and veered off to one side.

She alleges that the volunteers were negligent and should take responsibility for what happened.

Paula Cortner is president of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Cortner says there was a safety volunteer at the intersection and that she and other officials plan to investigate what happened.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

This just in...

CycleDog has been nominated for an OkieBlog award in the 'most unusual' category! Dunno what this means, except maybe they don't have a 'headache-inducing, dizzingly weird' one.

Actually, it's kinda flattering. If I win, will it make me look thinner?

Other News:
The family chariot, a 1996 Ford Coutour, decided to die again this weekend. The battery went tits-up this time. Normally I don't mind changing something as easy as a battery, but it was raining all morning. I stood in the rain and was thoroughly soaked in the short time it takes to pull a battery. Wade and I went to the auto parts store for a replacement, and I received another soaking while installing it. Moments later, the rain stopped and the sun came out!

Other, other news:
Jordan came home with ALL A'S AND B'S ON HIS PROGRESS REPORT!!!!! I asked, "Who are you and what have you done with my son?" I am very, very proud of this young man. He even has an A in French! He knows he has to keep his grades up to play football, and for once, I'm enthusiastic about school sports. Well, and in his case, with his attention divided between football and girls, it's hard to tell which one is more influential.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Importance of Wally Crankset

I rode east out of Broken Elbow, Oklahoma, along the fabled Doe Trail, named for the intrepid John Randolph Doe who first mapped the region. Some say he was an explorer, driven by a desire to see new horizons and discover fresh, unspoiled vistas, but others say he was merely a two-bit con man a step ahead of the law. The trail is one of the scenic wonders of our state, looping through tall-grass prairie, wetlands, and skirting Mount Monongahela. It was built mostly with federal transportation funds due to the diligent effort of our own Senator Doe, great-grandson of the explorer. During construction, it employed almost all his relatives, both living and dead. Many of the living are now serving time, including the senator. It's rumored that some of the non-living relatives, those who testified against the others, are buried somewhere under the trail right-of-way.

Far ahead, I caught an occasional glimpse of another rider. He wobbled back and forth across the trail, waving his arms and cursing a blue streak. The section through the wetlands is notorious for clouds of mosquitoes and midges. He was waving his arms trying to fend them off, and it was hard to tell which was more effective, the arm waving or the blue language.

As I got closer, I realized I knew the guy. It was Wally Crankset!

"Wally! Hey, Wally! On your left!" I yelled as the distance closed. I did this very early; because Wally had a tendency to lurch in whatever direction he turned his head. Sure enough, he swung to the left, directly into my path. If my wheel had overlapped his, I would have fallen.

"Whaaaaa?" he shouted as he recovered. "Who dat?"

Even at a safe distance, I could smell tequila. Wally was infamous for carrying booze in a water bottle. He was sensible enough to avoid riding on the road when he'd had a few drinks, but trails were another matter. He didn't have to worry much about encountering a cop, for one thing, and most local cyclists knew to avoid riding near him.

"Wally, do you have any water? I'm running low." It was a diplomatic way of asking what he had in those bottles.

"Water! Hell, no. I got tequila AND vodka! Got any limes? We could have a party!"

It was worse than I thought. Wally had been depressed off and on since Wanda Sue, his fourth or fifth ex-wife, had gone to trial and been incarcerated for her repeated attempts to kill him. Wally was alternately fascinated and terrified by her. He'd loved her without hesitation and with a passion that nearly consumed him, worshipping her as his personal goddess. But she was a vengeful, jealous goddess when the marriage ended. Besides, she was a good shot with a pistol. Wally had a couple of bullet holes and he'd been jumpy ever since.

"Uh, no, Wally. Do you want some of my water?"

"Water! Never touch the stuff. It's got floridiates or ditoxins or something or other. It's BAD for you!"

We slowed down to talk. This was a good idea because if one of his wobbles caused a crash, it wouldn't hurt as much. Wally was in the LOUD drunk stage that usually preceded falling asleep. A deer fly landed on his neck and bit him. He never noticed, and shortly the fly buzzed off in search of a detox center. I stayed upwind, thankful that the humidity prevented static electricity. A single spark would make Wally's bike go up like a bomb.

I thought it would be a good idea to keep him talking and keep him moving, because if he fell asleep near the swamp, the insects would suck him dry. They'd all die in the process, of course, so it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

"Wally, did you see that news article about wearing helmets? Some people think it's important."

"Important!" he shouted. "That's what that damned doctor said. He told me that if I keep riding this bike, I’d be important! What the hell does he know?"

"No, no. That was some doctor in Boston who said that bicycle saddles might make you impotent, not important."

"That's right! It's not important. That what I've been trying to tell you! And what's 'impotent' anyways? Why are you using all them fancy French words allatime?"

"Ah, no, Wally. Impotent means, well, your kickstand won't work."

"There's nothing wrong with my kickstand! I've had his same one here on this bike since I bought it!"

Wally didn't get it so I tried another tack. "What it means is that Little Wally won't stand at attention anymore."

He was aghast. "You been talking to my girlfriend, Sue Ellen, haven't you? Dammit! That woman never could keep her mouth shut!"

This was the first time I'd ever heard of Sue Ellen. Like most women Wally found attractive, there was almost certainly a sociopathic tendency in her personality. I'd do my best to avoid meeting her.

I changed the subject. "Wally, this isn't about saddles or Sue Ellen. Some psychology guy did a study that indicated if you wear a bicycle helmet, motorists pass closer than they do when you ride without one. It's been on the news. Did you see it?"

Wally would not be distracted, though he had enough alcohol in his system to cause some confusion. "Wearing a helmet will make me impotent?" he wailed. I could see this was going to be difficult. "I don't wanna be impotent! I don't want my kickstand to fall off!" He'd gone from happy drunk to crying drunk in a matter of seconds. Like most men, he and Little Wally were very close. He tore off his helmet and threw it far out into the swamp. A cloud of insects swarmed around it, dying by the thousands as an oily, foul looking slick spread across the water.

We were almost to the trailhead. "What do you say we stop up here and take a break, Wally? I could use a little time out of the saddle." I really didn't want him to ride on the road in his state. It was just too dangerous. To my surprise, he readily agreed.

As we turned the final corner, I saw a gleaming white Ford Taurus parked at the exit, with a stunningly attractive blonde woman standing alongside. She was looking for someone, and as we rounded the bend, that someone was evidently Wally. She smiled and waved.

"That's Sue Ellen! I forgot to tell you she was gonna meet me!" Wally beamed.

I looked carefully. Sue Ellen didn't show any visible tattoos, knife scars, or piercings. Her hair wasn't spiked or some neon color. She was dressed sensibly in cargo shorts and a t-shirt, and despite the pseudo-outback look that I’d usually find laughable, she was simply and radiantly gorgeous. I was smitten. Better yet, there were no obvious signs of mental derangement, edged weapons, firearms, or explosives. In fact, she looked absolutely normal. This was entirely unlike most women Wally dated or married, most of whom had extensive criminal histories.

"Sue Ellen! I'm glad you're here. I have a killer headache!" Wally didn't bother to introduce me, and besides, I'm not sure I would have been capable of intelligent speech. She was that stunning.

"Just get in the car, Wally. I'll take care of your bike." Sue Ellen bundled him into the car where he fell asleep in seconds.

We did introductions and I stammered my way through without making a complete fool of myself. I even helped her load the bike as we talked. It gave me something to do and helped keep me from staring.

"I didn't want Wally to ride on the street", I said. "He's had a bit too much tequila."

"Oh, that." Sue Ellen laughed. "I've been cutting all his booze with water. He pretends not to notice and pretends to be drunk. It's better for him health wise, but he'll never admit to it. He didn't get much sleep last night so he's a little out of it today."

I didn't want to speculate on why he didn't get much sleep.

"Gotta go", she said. "I have to work hard to keep up with him. Wally's gonna wear me out!"

In a moment, they were gone. As the car pulled out of the parking lot, I noticed that Wally had both eyes closed, but he also had a huge grin spread across his face.

"Importance', indeed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Death of a Coffee Pot

My prized 10-cup drip coffee maker finally died over the weekend. I've used this since the kids were little, so it's at least 12 years old, maybe more. But Saturday morning as I put water in the tank, it ran out underneath the unit almost as fast as it went in. I'm not a big fan of mixing water and electricity, so the coffee maker promptly went in the trash. Over its lifetime, it went through 3 carafes and 2 coffee baskets, so it was definitely well used. I liked this one because it had excellent temperature regulation, and that's key to making good coffee.

But don't worry. There are plenty of other coffee makers in the kitchen! The one that sees the most use is the ubiquitous Melitta one-cup drip unit. This is almost like a funnel that sits atop your coffee cup. It takes #2 paper filters and surprisingly enough, fits perfectly on top of a Nissan stainless steel water bottle. These are must-have items for a winter cyclist!

The other favorite coffee maker - for the stout stuff - is a Bialetti that goes on the stovetop. These are simple Italian coffee makers that produce a very strong brew. The unit has 3 parts, a lower and upper chamber, and a coffee hopper. Water is forced from the lower chamber, up through the coffee grounds, and collects in the upper chamber. This is not unlike an espresso machine, without all the steam apparatus. Watched carefully, and removed from the burner before it starts pushing steam through the grounds, it makes an intense flavored coffee that isn't bitter.

Coffee and cycling go hand-in-hand, at least at my house. There's nothing like a water bottle full of hot coffee on a cold winter morning. For that matter, it's good to arrive home after a cold afternoon ride and sit at the table with a cup of coffee warming my icy hands.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


 Posted by Picasa

I promised to post more about yesterday's Road1 class in Tulsa. The first part of this post is background information, followed by my thoughts on yesterday's course.

Last week, the Tulsa World ran an article about the Community Cycling Project and Road1. Part of it was misleading, but a careful reader would realize that the Tulsa Wheelmen's Community Cycling Project doesn't provide cycling goods worth $250 to every student. The project does provide a donated bicycle, instruction, and the necessary equipment to allow a student to use a bicycle as their primary form of transportation, and these recipients are referred through several social service agencies such as Salvation Army, Day Center for the Homeless, Exodus House, and others. Regardless, the article brought in more students, and for the first time, we reached the class limit of 15.

Here's the course description from the Tulsa Parks Department 2006 Fall Fun Guide:

Cycling: Transportation to Transform
(From page 19. The fee is incorrectly listed as $80 in the Fun Guide. The correct fee is $40.)

BikeEd, a League of American Bicyclist’s program, gives you the tips, tools, and techniques to safely and legally operate your bicycle anywhere you want to go. The Road I course (from 9 a.m. - 7p.m.) covers much needed information such as; traffic theory, equipment maintenance, operation and active practice. The special segment on Commuting (optional 7-9 p.m.) will include a night ride. Required equipment: bike, helmet, gloves, lunch money, and if staying for the special segment, lights on the front and back of your bike. Co-Sponsored by the Tulsa Wheelmen's Community Cycling Project. Ages 14 & older. Instructor: Brian Potter.
McClure, Sa, Sep. 9, 9 a.m.-8 p.m
McClure, Sa, Nov. 11, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

The Tulsa Parks 2006 Fall Fun Guide offers 3 different ways to enroll in any class. There's an online enrollment at:

Enroll by mail by sending the completed form from the Fun Guide with a check made out to “Park Revenue Fund” to the center where the class is being held. Center addresses are on page 5.

You can enroll in person at any Tulsa Parks Community Center. You may pay by check or cash.

Note that we have another class coming up in November. There's a tentative class for Tulsa Public Schools phys ed teachers coming up in October, too, but it's not open to the public.

Now, about yesterday's class. Lyndsay had to work from 7 to 9, though her manager wanted her to work until 10AM. She's still recovering from her illness and hospitalization. I went down to get her at 9, and it's just as well that I did. She was looking shaky and very pale. Coworkers were commenting about it, recommending that she go home early and rest.

Much as I like bike stuff, family ALWAYS comes first. I drove her home and saw that she was comfortable before leaving for the Road1 class. She said later that she fell asleep within a few minutes.

I arrived at 9:30 or so and class was already in session. I set up the repair stand and set to work, changing some shifters, installing reflectors, and swapping saddles between various bikes. It helps to have a few extra bikes because they often become parts donors for the ones we use.

Sandra said that I'd have to swap saddles between two bikes. I thought it would be a simple matter to just remove the seat posts and saddles as units, but the seat post diameters were different. So I disassembled the saddles from the posts, and started reassembling them, only to discover (after dropping parts all over the floor once or twice) that I'd reassembled the original saddles onto their original seat posts! Sandra watched all this in silent amusement. It must be one of those female things. She could have told me that I was being stupid, but noooooooo!

There were no major repairs to be done, but lots of little jobs. It's always that way when we work with donated bikes. We have to match up clients with suitable bicycles the morning of the class, and get everything set for their use by mid-day. To her credit, Sandra handles most of the basic repairs prior to the class and she does good work. My job is to adjust saddles and handlebars, install or remove toe clips and straps, adjust brakes, and the like.

It's minor work, but it all has to be done in a short time. That's one big advantage of having 4 instructors. Two of them are teaching while the other two set up bikes. For the Community Cycling Project, this is a workable format, and indeed it may be the only way to accomplish the task unless the class size was very small. I simply can't see how a lone instructor could do it. The Parks Department classes are limited to 15, and if all had shown yesterday, I may have been overwhelmed. As it is, 12 bikes provided plenty of work for me. Fortunately, the TPS classes don't have many mechanical issues since they're using new bikes rather than donated ones.

Sine I was out early, I didn't get a chance to do my spiel on flat tires, drive train maintenance, and locating problems. I truly hope Brian and Gary covered it. I was giving them a hard time about not allowing me to teach, when I know perfectly well that they've likely forgotten more about teaching than I've ever learned.

We did lose two students who were physically unable to complete the course. They were both social services referrals, so they get to keep their bicycles and equipment. Both had good attitudes and a willingness to learn, but their legs simply let them down. I hope we get to see them again in the future, and I really hope they develop into cyclists.

Finally, I heard from several students who've read CycleDog. In fact, one said she was persuaded to try bicycle commuting by some of these posts. I have mixed feelings about influencing people. Sure, there's ego-gratification, and that's a primary motivator for many writers. In the case of CycleDog, it truly isn't about the money! (I think the click-through ads have earned about $50 since this began.) The downside is that I worry about someone getting hurt as a result of something I've written. Much of my writing is meant to be light fun. I don't want to give the impression that riding a bicycle in traffic is a carefree, mindless activity. On the other hand, it's not a hair-raising, terror-filled, near-death experience either. That's one reason that I think bicycling education is so important, if only to dispel misinformation. Riding a bike should be fun, and learning about riding should be fun too.

Road1 Class, Tulsa, 9SEP2006


Here's a photo of a student performing the quick stop maneuver under the watchful eye of LCI Brian Potter - a photo first for CycleDog! - from yesterday's Road1 class in McClure Park. We had 12 students and 4 instructors. Gary Parker and Brian Potter handled the classroom instruction, while Sandra Crisp and I did support. That means I worked on bicycles most of the day, though to be honest, I couldn't stay for the whole class. I had to leave in late afternoon. We had to make a trip over to Sandra's for a replacement wheel when we discovered that one of the client's bikes had a bad one. The replacement needed to be trued, and since I left early, I dumped that on Sandra. And I really felt bad about havin to do that since she wasn't feeling 100%.

More on this later! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Osage Prairie Trail: A Sunday Morning Ramble

I didn’t know what to do this morning. I rattled around in the house for a couple of hours, drinking coffee and donking around on the computer. What I really needed was a ride.

Out in the garage, the Centurion sat on newly repaired tires. I had three flats coming home from work Friday night, running out of spare tubes and daylight at the same time. I had to call my daughter to ‘rescue’ me, and she’ll have fun with that for a week or so.

So I didn’t really want to ride the Centurion. Since I’m changing to an earlier shift and the bike is set up for night riding, I passed on using it today. I’ll spend so much time on it over the winter that I’ll be thoroughly bored with the thing before long.

But the old Pennine hadn’t been out for quite a while. It too is a fixed gear, a 47x18 if I recall right. There was a light NE wind this morning, so the Pennine was perfect!

I went west from Owasso along 106th Street North, crossed over US75, and turned north on the Osage Prairie Trail, a rail-to-trail project that will link Tulsa to Barnsdall when completed, a distance of about 30 miles. I traveled from 106th Street to the present terminus in Skiatook.

The trail is almost dead flat and perfectly straight. It’s in very good condition since it’s obviously new, but there are a few areas just north of 106th that have limestone chat strewn across the pavement. This isn’t a big problem and as soon as we get some good rainstorms, it will wash away. The chat was deposited on both sides probably for erosion and weed control. It also makes a better running surface than the asphalt.

Skiatook erected a nice picnic pavilion at the terminus. As I approached, two women were sitting in the shade, one of them struggling with a flat tire. Now, after Friday’s experience, I may be jinxed as far as tire repairs are concerned, but I shoved superstition aside and offered to help. She was having trouble rolling the bead over that last bit of rim. The tire was narrow, maybe a 23 or a 25 mm, and they’re often hard to mount. I sat down, grasped the tire on both sides, placing the balls of my palms just under the bead, and with a rolling motion from the wrists, forced it up and over the rim. Long ago, when I worked in a bike shop, I had calluses on my palms from doing this, but these days I try to wear gloves.

Shortly, they were rolling south on the trail. I went east on SH20 through downtown Skiatook. I made a mental note of an ice cream place, for further reference and study some hot summer afternoon, and then went out of town toward Collinsville.

State highway 20 isn’t one of my favorite roads. It’s a divided four-lane with a 65 mph speed limit, and a partial shoulder. That is, the shoulder begins and ends abruptly, though to be fair, it does help along the steepest part of the climb. And it’s a climb! The road goes uphill from Skiatook almost all the way to US75, about 5 miles. Most of it would be characterized as false flats, with only 2 steeper sections.

Traffic was light until I’d almost reached US75. I wouldn’t want to ride there at 5PM on a weekday because of the 65mph limit, but a quiet Sunday morning was different. Still, when traffic started to increase, some moron just had to blare his horn. I figured that church mush have just let out.

Just east of US75, I turned south and worked back toward Owasso riding south and east on county roads. The best pavement going south was Memorial Drive, and I’ve decided to use it rather than parallel north-south roads in the future.

In all, I rode about 30 miles on the fixed gear today.

I made lunch for Jordan and me just after getting home. We had beanies and weenies from leftovers, with a whopping dose of Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. Hey – it says right on the can - ”Great on Everything!” and we take that literally. As I write this, I’m drinking a BIG espresso, but despite that, I can feel a nap creeping in.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saddle Sore of the Month

Here's a new feature that will likely be a monthly item. It's an award for the most egregious act involving a cyclist in the last month. These stories were collected through August, so it's possible that the links have expired.

The winner, of course, has to receive some sort of prize. I think it's most appropriate to make that a tin of Bag Balm, so each and every winner will receive a brand-new can of the stuff, provided they're willing to pay shipping and handling! Cash only, no checks or credit cards. Bag Balm works really well on saddle sores. Trust me.

All decisions are final, though some may be capricious, arbitrary, and rude. The judge reserves the right to mete out sarcasm and disrespect.


Ottawa driver who hit cyclists gets house arrest
Last Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2006 | 8:48 AM ET
CBC News

A man who side-swiped a group of Ottawa cyclists in his pickup truck was handed a conditional sentence Wednesday.

Richard Martin, 41, will spend six months under house arrest followed by a six-month night curfew. He also loses his driver's licence for a year and must pay $6,000 to the cyclists.

Martin was found guilty in April of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and for failing to remain at the scene of an accident after the June 2004 incident.

A dozen members of the Ottawa Bicycle Club were cycling on Riverside Drive when Martin passed the group in his truck, slowed down and clipped the lead rider.

The lead rider suffered serious injuries including a dislocated shoulder. Four others were injured in the resulting pileup.

During the trial, court heard that Martin, whose son was with him at the time, laughed about the incident.

Before the sentence was delivered, Martin apologized to his family for the humiliation he's caused but not to any of the cyclists.

First Runner Up

Man claims epileptic seizure led to cyclist's death

August 15, 2006

Good Morning Tennessee Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) -- During his first court appearance, the man police charged with killing a bicyclist on Highway 321 last week said his epilepsy is to blame.

Police say 46-year-old Taylor Carroll was trying to pass a tractor trailer on the shoulder of the highway when he hit and killed 48-year-old Jeffrey Roth.

Carroll's attorney says his client apparently had a seizure that day. "Mr. Carroll was terribly distraught when he hit Mr. Roth and he does not remember the chain of events leading up to the crash."

Carroll says he was taken from the scene to Blount County Memorial by ambulance minutes after Roth was hit.

He also told his attorney he has a long history of epileptic seizures and a letter from his doctor that clears him to drive a car.

Carroll is out of jail on a $75,000 bond.

His next court appearance is scheduled for September 27.

Yeah, right. He was having a seizure that allowed him to attempt passing a tractor-trailer by going around it on the right hand shoulder. He was driving well enough to stay on the road and not hit the truck. That seems to be a very convenient 'seizure'.

This month's Saddle Sore Winner!

A drum roll, please, maestro!

August 15, 2006

How Stiff Should Penalty Be In Cyclist's Death?

By Anita Kissee
and Web Staff

BEAVERTON, Ore. - How much is one life worth? That is what some people are asking after a recent accident in Beaverton that left a well-known cyclist dead and the driver with a $242 ticket.

Mike Wilberding, an Intel engineer, died August 1 at Southwest Fifth Street in Beaverton while riding his bike home from work.

The driver of the car that hit him, Aaron Hessel, said he did not see the cyclist in the bike lane when he turned left because he was blinded by the sun.

"I don't really find that a believable excuse," said cycling advocate Susan Otcenas. "Even if you believe him, if you believe that was what actually happened and the sun was truly in his eyes, then your next logical conclusion is that he was being negligent in piloting his vehicle someplace where he couldn't see where he was going."

Otcenas is working with other cyclists to convince the Washington County District Attorney to charge the driver with homicide and stiffen punishments for any driver who kills a cyclist or pedestrian.

"A human life is worth more than a $242 traffic ticket," said Otcenas.

Hessel's $242 ticket has been thrown out and the District Attorney will be reviewing the case and deciding whether to charge Hessel with Negligent Homicide.

I looked through the local court report and discovered that here in Oklahoma, you pay a larger fine for possession of marijuana than Mr. Hessel did for taking a life. In fact, it costs the same for Mr. Hessel to kill someone as compared to driving without a license here. That’ll show ‘em!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday Musette

Life imitates art?

A few days ago, I wrote about cyclists attempting to take over the planet in 'Pinky and the Brain' style. Apparently, there's a city councilman in Toronto who believes that to be true. Maybe he reads CycleDog and relies on it for up-to-the-minute, cutting edge information regarding the international cycling conspiracy to dominate the civilized world. Still, it's a little unnerving to think that one of my goofy paranoid fantasies would actually be repeated in reality.

Now, I'm not a fan of bike lanes because they're an attempt to solve an almost non-existent problem - getting hit from behind by a motor vehicle. I won't list their deficiencies here. That ground has been well covered in previous posts. But Councilor Ootes shows typical bias in favor of automobiles by saying that cyclists are forcing motorists onto quiet residential streets. Try to remember the last time that 200 pounds of bicycle and rider forced a motorist wrapped in a ton of steel and glass to do ANYTHING! He wants to poll the residents on whether to keep the bike lanes. I wonder if removing something that reduces speed and the number of vehicles on that street is in the best interest of residents? Given a choice, would you prefer heavy, high-speed traffic in front of your home or would you rather have less traffic and lower speeds? It's all too apparent that Councilor Ootes prefers more traffic and higher speeds even if they're detrimental to cyclists and pedestrians.

There's some of the usual 'bike lanes make the roads safer for children and stupid people' rhetoric from Councilor Fletcher. Contrarily, Councilor Ootes wants the bike lanes removed because residential streets - with all their intersections, parked cars, and driveways - are 'safer' than bike lanes. Cyclists make themselves safe by operating as vehicles. Facilities, wishful thinking, and the wild-assed guesses of politicians have far less effect.

Average travel times along these traffic calmed streets increased by almost a minute, from 4.5 minutes to 5.5 minutes. So there must be some terribly important people driving along that street if it's necessary to save nearly a whole minute. Cyclists, pedestrians, and residents be damned.

Oh, wait a minute. They VOTE too, don't they? How many of those commuting motorists are also voters in Councilor Ootes' district as opposed to cyclists, pedestrians, and homeowners?

Originally found via Planet Cycling

Bikes slow down cars, forcing traffic on side streets, says report

August 29, 2006 by

The Town Crier

C.I.C.L.E.: Bikes slow down cars, forcing traffic on side streets, says report

Published August 29, 2006 by The Town Crier
By Kris Scheuer

Canada - Cyclists using the bike lanes on Cosburn Ave. may soon have to find a new route if one local councillor has his way.

The bike lanes have been in place since late 2004, now Toronto-Danforth Councillor Case Ootes wants to poll residents in the area around Broadview and Coxwell Aves to see if they are in favour of keeping the bike lanes or not.

...Eventually, Ootes said he would like the bike lanes removed.

"There's no need for bike lanes on Cosburn. It's safer to cycle on residential streets," said Ootes. "The point I am trying to make is as far as East York is concerned there are lots of east-west bike routes including Sammon Avenue and Plains Road."

The councillor in the adjacent ward said these lanes are part of the city's overall bike plan to help people commute safely and promote cycling.

Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher said, "It's safer for pedestrians, kids and people on bikes."

She said that bike lanes force cars to slow down, which makes it safer for everyone including students from Cosburn Middle School crossing the road.

But it is the slowing down of traffic that Ootes has a problem with.

"This is an attempt by left wing councillors to slow down traffic and force people out of cars," he said.

"People won't get out of their cars. It doesn't happen. This isn't that kind of city," he said.

Sidewalk riders

I was driving to Wade's on Saturday morning. We have coffee every weekend as a way to catch up on family news. As I neared his house, an elderly gent on a mountain bike rode along the sidewalk up ahead. Just before I turned left at the next corner, he turned left on the intersecting sidewalk. As I pulled away from the stop sign, he swerved onto the roadway, riding along on the left side of the street. The sudden move freaked me out! I didn't know if he was coming further to the right into my lane or if he'd continue riding the wrong way. At the next curb cut he rode up into a parking lot. If that had been his destination all along, he could have stayed on the sidewalk.

This was not a cyclist. It was a guy-on-a-bike. A pedestrian on wheels.

Mortise joints

I was riding to work one morning along 86th Street, a route I've followed for years and probably hundreds of rides. I intended to turn left onto the frontage road, so I merged across two lanes of traffic into the dedicated left turn lane. Again, I've done this hundreds of times. But that morning, I managed to put my front tire into a mortise joint between two pavement sections. These joints are sometimes filled with tar or some other material that allows the slabs to expand and contract. They're often the perfect width to catch a wheel.

One advantage of daily commuting is the development of an intimate knowledge of the pavement along the way. I know every ripple and pothole, every spot that collects water, and the smoothest lines. Dropping the front tire into that joint came as a big surprise.

Since I was moving left, the bike immediately started falling to the left as its momentum carried it along. But with the front tire trapped between two concrete slabs, my only recourse was to jerk the handlebars to the left, popping the tire out. Luckily, it wasn't damaged. I've cut sidewalls in similar situations.

It's yet another example of complacency. Like I said, I've ridden there hundreds of times, but this was the very first time I've encountered that joint.

Crisp fall air!

The fall weather pattern seems to be setting in! We've had a few brisk days of crisp, clear autumn weather. That means the daytime high is only in the 80s, rather than 100 or more as it was only a few days ago. Trust me, when you've endured day after day of very high temperatures, 85F seems almost cool.