Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cyclist 'Sub-Species'

The University of Southern Oklahoma extension campus in downtown Broken Elbow, has released some startling information from a study of bicyclist characteristics. The Sociology Department studied various group bicycle rides to investigate the interpersonal dynamics that effect large groups. While the study itself is quite long, the summary details the fascinating personality types or, as the researchers dubbed them, 'sub-species' they identified. Like any pack or herd of animals, each type has a role to play in pack behavior, and if further funding can be secured, the university plans to do additional research next summer.

I've interspersed a few comments in italics.

Some highlights follow:

Gazellopes: Skinny wiry guys who make climbing hills, sprinting, and fast pack riding look so easy any idiot can do it. I hate them. On the other hand, female gazellopes are fascinating to watch, though their indulgent smile and superior attitude is somewhat irritating as they ride away from me up a hill. Come to think of it, I hate them too.

Thesaurosaur: A boring, talkative old fart who goes on and on about how things were so much better in his youth - unless it's ME going on and on about interesting, informative topics from MY youth. Thesaurosaurs are often spit out the back of a pack of Gazellopes, where they regale all and sundry with tales of how much better they used to be.

Rolling Thunderer: A large guy on a bike who ate something disagreeable for lunch. Always be aware of the wind direction when near a Rolling Thunderer.

Lone Horseman of the Apocalypse: Here's the guy who's ready for anything - especially if that turns out to be a post-nuclear wasteland inhabited by cannibalistic zombies. He's equipped to fix a flat tire or nearly anything else too. He carries every important bicycle tool ever invented by man, and a few he's invented himself. He clanks when he walks. Conversation revolves around gloom or doom, unless he's depressed, then it's gloom AND doom. He expects the worst and is mildly disappointed when doomsday is postponed yet again. Inside every dark, ominous cloud, the Lone Horseman finds a darker, more ominous one.

The Duke of Hurl: The guy who will toss his cookies in every time trial he enters, usually on an uphill section, and always right in front of you. Sometimes this leads to sympathetic hurling. Just like the rolling Thunderer, it's important to know the wind direction when passing the Duke.

Flesh-Eating Bambi: A sweet, innocent-appearing young woman with an inner tiger looking for a rich husband or a quick meal. Make no mistake, the Flesh-Eating Bambi is an uber-predator, luring its prey in close before killing it.

Euro-Suave: Known as both predator and prey of Flesh-Eating Bambis, the Euro-Suave sports the latest high-tech bike equipped with the latest high-tech gadgets. He wears this year's kit from a top ranked European racing team. He spends more on cologne than the rest of us spend on beer. Despite all that, Euro-Suaves are often found torn and bleeding on the roadside after an encounter with a Flesh-Eating Bambi, unless he happens to be a doctor or someone else with money. In that case, he'll be found on the roadside in a few years, torn and bleeding from his bank account.

Clueless Bumblerbees: Wandering from side to side, Clueless Bumblerbees have the attention span of a gnat. They're completely unaware of other cyclists, motor vehicles, potholes, or any other potential hazard. Instead, their attention is given to roadside flowers, birds, or cows, and they'll wander all over the road while other cyclists dodge their meandering path. Clueless Bumblerbees live in simpler, less stressful world, and I sometimes envy them for that. I do not envy their frequent crashes or the odd ambulance ride.

Pseudo-Cops: Remaining at the back of the pack, Pseudo-Cops will yell, "Car back! Car back! Car back!" with each shout becoming louder and more shrill, until only dogs can hear them. Their expectation is that the rest of the group will form a single file riding on the fog line. Simply ignoring Pseudo-Cops ruins their day - not that I'd do that, of course.

Chicken Little Hans: Sigmund Freud did a case study of a patient he called "Little Hans". Hans was afraid of many things, but was especially disturbed by horses. In the same vein, Chicken Little Hans is afraid of nearly everything to do with riding a bicycle and insists that the roads are far too dangerous in their present state to permit safe bicycle travel. "The cars are coming! The cars are coming!" is a constant Chicken Little Hans refrain. He will not feel safe until he's given an entirely separate bicycle path system free of the motorists he hates and fears. Then Chicken Little Hans will be free to terrorize pedestrians in the same manner as motorists have terrorized him.

Mister Clean: With an absolutely pristine bicycle, Mr. Clean finds little time to actually ride. In order to keep his machine spotless, he will not ride in the rain, or when it's threatening to rain sometime in the near future. He will not ride on damp streets, and recoils in horror at the idea of riding along a dirt road or even on one that's rough and pebbly. Pebbles can chip paint, you know.

Re-Tars: Not to be confused with the epithet 'retards', re-tars are those who use the same tires and tubes that came with their bike way back in the Pleistocene, or maybe the 1980s. They are polar opposites of Mister Clean. Their tires are lumpy with patches, so lumpy that any cyclist with a sense of self-preservation will not ride near them. The bikes squeak and squeal due to rusty chains, mis-aligned brakes, and cables that remain attached by a few stalwart threads. Re-Tars are often found in the company of the Lone Horseman of the Apocalypse to their mutual benefit.

Infectious Recumberent: Possibly a sub-species of the Thesaurosaurus, the Infectious Recumberent is known to talk endlessly about the advantages of his outlandish machine. He will spend an equally endless time talking about the international conspiracy to suppress recumberents. If you are in close proximity to Infectious Recumberents on a regular basis, it's strongly advised to get an innoculation of anti-Recumberent DNA in order to keep your sanity, if desired.

George Leroy Tirebiter: More commonly known as 'wheelsuckers', but university researchers felt the term was a mild epithet, and the substitute term - George etc. - was more neutral in tone. Cyclists dogged by a persistent wheelsucker who will not take a turn at the front have no hesitation in using more colorful and far less neutral terms to describe them.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

VIN numbers for bicycles

In Oklahoma, it's illegal to sell a bicycle without a serial number or with a serial number that's been altered. Collectors may welcome a standardized VIN - sometime in the future, at least - because it may help separate real products from counterfeits. As for the possibilities of licensing or registering bicycles via the VIN, I won't get too excited. It's entirely possible to trace bicycles now, provided the original owner recorded the number. If the bike is stolen and the serial number goes into the NCIC database, it can be traced to the owner in a few minutes.

But the easiest way to make a bike traceable is to engrave your driver's license number (assuming you have one, of course) somewhere on the frame. That number is traceable within seconds. Just follow the format: OK DL 10000XXXX, but use you own state!

Social Security numbers are traceable too, but only during business hours Monday through Friday.

New Standard Vehicle Identity Numbers for Bicycles

The Full Story:

Denver, Colorado: ASTM Subcommittee F08.10 on Bicycles has developed standard vehicle identity numbers (VIN) for bicycles. Manufacturers who identify bicycles according to new ASTM F 2268, Standard Specification for Bicycle Serial Numbers, will provide consumers with bicycles that will be easier to track if stolen. ASTM will release the standard in July.

An ASTM task group of manufacturers, engineers, lawyers, and municipal planners developed Standard F 2268. Task group chairman Patrick Logan, P.E., Product Development manager, Burley Design, Eugene, Ore., says the task group collaborated on a universally acceptable VIN system. "The size of the number, method of application, and the location on the bike frame were the biggest hurdles," says Logan. "The result is that we now have a fixed number format and a location which provides some degree of flexibility to manufacturers. At some point we expect the standard will be adopted into law."

James Mackay, P.E., Bicycle planner, City of Denver, Colo., says reported bike loss from theft annually exceeds $1 million in Denver. Police return a mere seven percent of stolen bicycles to owners because manufacturers' numbering systems aren't easily tracked to the point of sale, he says, adding "Many recovered bikes are sold at city auction as a result of the police having no idea who the owners are." Mackay initiated the development of the VIN, calling for "a standardized location to provide a flat, tamper-resistant bicycle identification number unique to that bicycle allowing for enhanced registration, identification, and recovery of stolen bicycles."

In addition, Mackay notes, "the serial number may help to determine the identity of bicyclists injured or killed while riding their bikes."

As well as aiding in theft recovery and establishing uniform identify marking, the ASTM standard can prevent time-consuming mistakes in bicycle theft reporting. "Some manufacturers put both a model number and a serial number on their bikes," Mackay says. "This can result in the model number being used in a theft report—all other bikes from that production run can be determined as 'stolen.' "

Logan describes long-term benefits of applying the ASTM standard. "Will there be a license plate for bikes in the future, now that they have a unique VIN like cars?," he offers. "That may be possible with this standard. Large cities like Denver, and even small ones like Eugene, Ore., have evolved bike paths as a means to improve human mobility and enhancement of economic growth. Theft and maintenance of these vehicles are threats to the freedom people expect in moving about their communities. The more means and ease people have to move about their cities results in more commerce—it is that simple. Bikes fill a mobility gap between the automobile and the pedestrian.

"The serial number provides a means for law enforcement to return bikes to owners, lost or stolen, and a means for consumers to locate information from Web- based sources," he continues. "An owner could ideally locate the safety maintenance information and product recall for their particular bike on the Web, as well as locate accessories that will fit that product. The serial number is a benefit to all parties— government, industry, and consumers."

ASTM standards are available from Customer Service (phone: 610/832-9585; or

For further technical information, contact Patrick Logan, Burley Design, Eugene, Ore. (phone: 541/687-1644; The subcommittee is part of Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities, which meets in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 19-22. For membership or meeting details, contact Jim Olshefsky, director, Committee Services, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9714;

Publish Date: 11/21/2006

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Flying Pigeons and Talkin' Turkey

The January/February issue of Bicycling magazine has an article on China's Flying Pigeon bicycles. Despite being produced in greater numbers than any other bicycle on the planet, the Flying Pigeon is declining. Modern Chinese want automobiles, not bikes. China has the dubious distinction of having the most dangerous roads on earth, with "250,000 traffic deaths annually - a rate 20 times higher than in the United States...Beijing officials tallied 30,000 accidents involving car and cyclists in 2004, with 10,000 injuries and 1,000 deaths. "

"The traditional Flying Pigeon (the PA-02) weighs about 50 pounds, comes only in black, has one speed and is barely stoppable with it push rod brake." These bikes travel on 28 inch wheels, with fenders, a rack, and a completely enclosed chaincase. What’s not to love? A new PA-02 costs about $30. A hot one from a street dealer costs about $5. In a country with 500 million bicycles, bike theft is a big business.

There's much to admire about the Spartan utility of Flying Pigeons. But this is still America, and despite our admiration for these simple workhorse bicycles, we just can't resist the truly outrageous.

If you're willing to part with the equivalent of 16 Flying Pigeons or $500, you can get a pair of Pearl Izumi Vertex MP3 bibs ( These bib shorts have a plug-in for an MP3 player with controls located in a soft panel on the thigh. Earbud cords are tucked under the fabric and they even have Bluetooth capability for the always-important cell phone call. The mic is located in a shoulder strap.

Now, I ask you, given the stark contrast between the Flying Pigeon - an honest workingman's bike - and the frivolous and hideously expensive shorts, is it any wonder the rest of the world thinks Americans are nuts?

But despite all that, I'm kind of fascinated at the comic possibilities of having a tinny voice crooning "I'm in the mood for love" somewhere in my shorts!

A lazy post...

Arrgh! A blog post about stuff from OTHER blogs! Am I lazy or what?

Can you say 'irony'? It seems that LAB doles out the Bicycle Friendly Commnity status based on the facilities available, not the capabilities of local cyclists. The League's BikeEd program appears to be the organization's red-headed stepchild. Note, however, that area cyclists are getting a FIVE-COUNT 'EM- FIVE kilometer loop that presumably links nowhere with nowhere, all at a cost of $3.4 million! It sounds like a perfect facility for toy bike riders. Those who actually USE their bikes for transportation are screwed, again.

Safety issues cancel Celebration of Life Bike Ride

by Gene Bisbee at 10:18AM (PST) on November 25, 2006

The organizer of the annual Celebration of Life bicycle ride in Virginia Beach says he's cancelling the event next year because the city's streets are getting too congested for the 1,000-or so participants.

What's ironic is that Virginia Beach received an "honorable mention" on the list of Bicycle Friendly communities by the League of American Bicyclists.

While the "honorable mention" doesn't put it in the league with Davis, Boulder, Portland or the 55 other platinum, gold, silver or bronze members, it does show the city is heading in the right direction.

No so, says bike ride organizer Tom Coghill. The city doesn't have enough wide, paved shoulders for cyclists to safely ride the options of 25 to 75 miles. What's more, a $20 million bike trail improvement plan approved years ago has never been funded.

A city official said a bike and pedestrian trail advisory committee supports spending scant funds to patch and connect sidewalks. Plans to improve shoulders will be accomplished when roads are widened. That may take some time, due to a lack of state money.

Meanwhile, the city has set aside $230,000 to design a 5-kilometer bike loop, which is estimated to cost $3.4 million, according to the Virginia Beach Pilot.

Here's a bit of fun - a list of 35 items that indicate if you're a REAL cyclist! I've sorted out some of my favorites, but in all honesty, I've only done half of these thing. No, I won't tell you which ones!

Blog Entry Are you a cyclist? Nov 23, '06 8:48 PM

You have more water bottles than you have drinking glasses.
You have more cycling jerseys than work shirts.
The nicest pair of shoes you own have cleats in the soles.
You get withdrawal symptoms if off the bike for more than a day.
You point at pot holes, but you are driving in your car alone.
You dream of winning the lottery and the first thing you think of is how
many/which bikes can I buy


Yet another irony alert! There's a photo that shows the appalling air pollution that affects so many Chinese cities, and you'll notice the streets are thronged with automobiles!

Cycling Banned!

Guangzhou, Capital of Guangdong in Southern China has banned use of the electric bicycle, in favour of cars which are growing in number by 150,000 per year.

* Riders caught using an electric bicycle, are to be fined and bike confiscated.

* Authorities cite untrained riders and disposal of the battery as the reason for the ban.

* Ahem, don't cars have batteries too? What a lame argument!

* If the riders are so bad - then train them!

* Powerful car lobby, exerting its wishes.

Seems like this emerging stupor-power is dazed by economic growth, just oblivious to the irresponsible policy decisions being made.

Just when you thought it was safe to get back on a bicycle again, guys, a story like this comes along and makes you think twice about urging your significant other to take up riding. I mean, without being crass about it, I'd prefer that women be highly sensitive. After all, fun is fun.

But there was a time that cycling for women was definitely NOT recommended because the seat could cause some, uh, strange urges. This was about the time the Gibson Girls took up cycling and did so by giving up their voluminous skirts in preference for scandalous bloomers. Oh yeah! Men may have caught a glimpse of their ankles! Utter hedonists. In the 1890s, women were discouraged from doing something as un-ladylike as riding a bicycle. Besides, a young couple could ride off alone and unchaperoned. Oh, the horror!

Times change, but anti-cycling prejudice doesn't. Expect some hysterical stories over the next month or so, just like the 'saddles cause impotence' scare and the 'helmets make you less safe' fallacy.

Biking Can Make Women's Genitals Less Sensitive
By LiveScience Staff

posted: 22 November 2006
02:33 pm ET

Women who bicycle frequently run the risk of decreased sensitivity in their genitals as well as pain, a new study suggests.

Researchers compared 48 women competitive cyclists to 22 women runners. The bicyclists consistently rode at least 10 miles per week, and the runners logged at least five miles a week. The runners were used as a control group of active women not exposed to the direct pressure in the perineal region.

"We found that competitive women cyclists have a decrease in genital sensation," said lead author Dr. Marsha Guess, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine. "However, there were no negative effects on sexual function and quality of life in our young, healthy pre-menopausal study participants."

About 13 million American women bicycle regularly, the researchers say.

While health benefits of bicycling are many, the activity has also been linked to neck and back pain, injuries from chafing, and other ailments that affect both sexes. Past studies, including one authored by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health co-investigator Steve Schrader, have found an association between bicycling and erectile dysfunction and genital numbness in men.

"This is the first study to evaluate the effects of prolonged or frequent bicycling on neurological and sexual function in women," Guess said. "While seated on a bicycle, the external genital nerve and artery are directly compressed. It is possible that chronic compression of the female genital area may lead to compromised blood flow and nerve injury due to disruption of the blood-nerve barrier."

The study is detailed in the current issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

From the RBR Newsletter...

The RBR newsletter is published every week and it's full of good, useful information. This week's newsletter contains the following piece about winter cycling. I've included it here because it added a couple of points I missed in my own winter cycling pieces. It's not just winter cycling, however. This newsletter offers much more.

Here's the index:

1. Weekly Dispatch

2. Best of Coach Fred: How Can I Defeat Winter Despair?

3. Uncle Al: Carbon Forks

4. Scott's Spin: Single Minded

5. RBR eBookstore

6. Views You Can Use: Improve Your Cycling Efficiency

7. Try This on Your Next Ride: Use This Winter Cycling Checklist

8. Commercial Classifieds (3 new)

9. Roadie Classifieds

This index doesn't give a true idea of the depth of the coverage. The Weekly Dispatch alone contains 11 short articles! I can relate to the 'winter despair' piece too. I usually get depressed as the days shorten. This is sometimes called seasonal affective disorder, if I recall right. It seems to be related to the shorter periods of daylight until the winter solstice.

You can subscribe to the newsletter at: Newsletter

Issue No. 271 - 11/22/06: Winter Cycling Checklist

Please forward this issue to cyclists who may not know about RBR. They, too, can sign up and receive a complimentary copy of our eBook, 29 Pro Cycling Secrets for Roadies, at

You can read this issue online at

7. Try This on Your Next Ride

Think through this winter cycling checklist.

It's late November. Those of us in the northern hemisphere are facing several months of cold and windy rides if we want to stay on the bike. And who doesn't? Riding outside in winter is fun and invigorating -- if you're smart about it.

Here's a baker's dozen of tips we've collected while riding through many winters in Pennsylvania, Vermont and Colorado. This certainly isn't a complete list, so if your favorite winter cycling advice isn't listed, tell us at and we'll share it in an upcoming newsletter.

---Ride with a friend or group. Chatting and drafting helps the miles go by more enjoyably. But don't let group rides become hammerfests. Avoid hard, fast riding when the temperature is below 50F degrees (10C). Instead, stay steady and bank base miles.

---Don't overdress. You should feel chilly for the first few minutes before pedaling warms you up. If you start off toasty you'll soon overheat, sweat and become uncomfortable in damp clothes.

---Wear liner gloves and socks. Thin liners made of polypropylene help protect sensitive hands and feet surprisingly well in freezing temperatures. They wick moisture from the skin while adding an insulating layer, improving the function of any kind of winter gloves and socks.

---Beware of tight shoes. Wearing thick socks can make your cycling shoes too tight. Feet freeze fast when circulation is reduced. If this is a problem, buy a larger pair of shoes for winter rides. Roomy booties are a good idea too.

---Ventilate. Your jacket should have a front zipper with a large tab that's easy to find and grip while wearing long-finger gloves. Zip down when climbing or riding with the wind, and anytime you sense body heat building up. The drier you stay, the longer you can ride without a chill setting in.

---Wear bright colors. They help motorists see you.

---Use insulated bottles. Polar is one brand that can lengthen the time it takes drinks to become slushy, especially if you heat the liquid. Insulated bottle covers are also available but don't seem as effective.

---Install a taillight. And carry a pair of reflective ankle bands. The sun sets with a thud in winter so you might get caught by dusk several miles from home.

---Carry two tubes. When your fingers are freezing it's easier to install tubes than it is to patch them.

---Make stops brief. The longer you're off the bike, the chillier it feels when you start riding again.

---Beware of shade on roads. It can hide icy spots.

---Watch the clock. If it's below freezing and you've dressed correctly, you can stay pretty comfortable for about 90 minutes. After that, comfort can decrease quickly, particularly if your base layer has become damp.

---Start into the wind. This is probably the oldest trick in the book for cold-weather rides. Do the hard work when you're fresh, then let the tailwind blow you home when your energy is waning and you're damp inside. You won't feel nearly as chilly with the wind at your back.

For more advice, check these pages on the RBR website:

Tips for Toasty Toes

Gloves for Cold Rain

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Are you gonna eat that?

It's the start of the annual feasting season! I've already gained 3 pounds. This is not good.

My co-workers brought in all kinds of goodies today. We had cookies, pie, nachos with queso, barbecue, breads, cakes, pecans, summer sausage, crackers, veggie and fruit trays, pepperoni, cheeses, and a host of other things. I got hungry just looking at all of it.

One major reason I began bicycle commuting was to lose weight. I'd reached 245 pounds and had a size 40 waistline. The 40s were getting snug so I looked at some 42s. Honestly, when I held them up, the waist looked to be yards wide! Those things should have had clearance lights! I decided right there that I was NOT going to wear 'fat boy' pants, and riding to work started shortly thereafter.

That was twelve years ago. I still struggle with my weight, but it's more manageable now. I hover around 210 and I'd like to get under 200.

Through the holidays, the temptation to over-eat is always present. I wish I could say that there's a magic incantation that wards off temptation, or that there was a simple, easy way to avoid all that food. If I found a miracle diet plan that was painless and didn't involve sacrifice or hard choices, I'd be a rich man.

I've learned that the sight or smell of food triggers hunger pangs. If I can avoid being near the goodies, I have much better self-control. But there are times that's not possible, and when that happens my strategy is to 'strafe and nibble'. I cruise by the food-laden tables in the break area, select a target of opportunity, seize it, and buzz off to my work area to nibble at it. I don't hang around the table because the sight of all that food merely gets me to eat more.

My other strategy is to drink a lot. No, not beer, wine, or anything with alcohol - not that it's possible at work anyway. The flying public, our own management, and the FAA do not condone mechanics having a beer or three at work. I drink a lot of coffee and water - no sodas. Sipping at a drink helps avoid the temptation to nibble. The current favorite is Millstone French roast coffee with a bit of brown sugar for sweetening. There's a very good chance I'll be over-caffeinated by day's end.

Although I knew there would be tons of tempting food in the shop today, I didn't ride my bike to work. Yesterday's tailwind ride took a lot out of my legs. The temperature was unseasonably warm at the mid-60s, and a strong tailwind encouraged me to spin rapidly all the way home. It felt wonderful, but my legs cramped last night. I'll take it easy today.

The other reason to drive was to haul some clothes into the shop and bring along the pecans I bought for our snack pile. There's a pecan grove just north of the airport. I bought 5 pounds of papershells last night. Not all of them are for the shop because Mary likes to use them for baking. She won't let me shell them because I have a definite weakness for fresh pecans. Too many of them try to escape and have to be eaten.

Come to think of it, writing about food is almost as bad as standing at the table next to it! Time for another strafing run.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

About the OBC...

Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition Annual Meeting

OBC currently has about 160 members, comprised of individuals, clubs, and corporate sponsors, but the core group is composed of only a handful. This is fairly common in any small group activity, but there’s always a danger of having that core group burn out. Right now, it appears OBC is at a low ebb.

Appearances can be deceiving. While attendance at meetings is low, the group still has ambitious goals. And as our current president Tina Birch puts it, we still have momentum. There are several initiatives in the works. One involves getting bicycling education into the public school system statewide. Another revolves around legislation that impacts bicyclists. These efforts are important to Oklahoma cyclists though to be honest, they seem to ‘fly under the radar’ most of the time. The unsung heroes in the legislative effort are Pete Cramer and Brian Potter.

Ultimately, education and advocacy efforts have to be local rather than regional, or at least that’s how it appears to be at this stage of development. We need to grow our grassroots, and we’ll do that by supporting local bicycling education with Road1 classes, curricula aimed toward elementary and secondary schools, and simply our presence on the roads as safe, responsible cyclists.

But there’s no mistaking that we need to recruit more members, not simply because of dues and finances, but to expand that local advocacy effort. For instance, we need to develop a summary of local bicycle laws. Now, at first you’d think this would be a simple effort, but in Oklahoma local governments are free to make more restrictive laws than the state version. So it’s entirely possible to have local regulations that restrict or even ban bicycle travel. My town, for instance, has a mandatory sidepath law that requires cyclists to use a bike lane or bike path adjacent to the roadway – despite the fact that no such facilities exist here. Some towns require bicycle licensing. Some require bells. You’d think the bell requirement was silly, unless you were stopped by the local equivalent of Barney Fife and you were slapped with a ticket and court costs for not having one.

Incidents like that are unlikely, to be honest. But it’s all too common to encounter anti-cycling prejudice in some law enforcement officers, and it’s even more prevalent in the general public. Before the meeting yesterday, I talked with a part-time security guard who is a full-time Tulsa police officer. He said that the law required cyclists to ride “as far to the right as possible” and thought that cyclists impeded motor vehicle traffic by their mere presence. But the very first thing he said was a question. “Is Paul Tay part of the group meeting here?”

As it turned out, Paul did show up in full Santa regalia. But the officer said that while Paul rode legally, he tied up traffic by taking up a full lane when pulling his trailer. Somehow, in the officer’s mind, a cyclist who used the full width of a lane just had to be breaking a law. He said that he was concerned for Paul’s safety, but I had the impression that tying up traffic and pissing off motorists was a greater concern.

I don’t agree with Paul’s in-your-face kind of advocacy, but as I’ve said before, I can’t condone police efforts to get him off the road simply because they don’t like what he’s doing. If he hasn’t broken the law, they don’t have a beef. That’s the same standard that should be applied to all of us on the road. If you break the law, expect a ticket.

It’s another matter when the law is ‘selectively enforced’. Another term for that is harassment. If I rode though West Podunk, Oklahoma, and Barney Fife stopped me for not having a bell, I’d be pissed off especially if the enforcement effort was intended to get those pesky cyclists off the streets. So developing a database of local regulations is an important part of the OBC focus. Ultimately, we want uniform state and local laws, and in pursuing that goal, we need to know the present local laws. Anyone can help with this simply be going to the local library and photocopying the local regulations. In Owasso’s case, that amounted to three pages. If you can do that, contact me and I’ll give you a mailing address.

There were other subjects too. Webmaster Jim Beach asked that we all go to the new OBC website ( , hit every link, and get back to him with our likes and dislikes. He really wants the feedback. I looked around on the site briefly yesterday. In my not-at-all-experienced-with-HTML opinion, it looks fine. When it comes to web design and eye-pleasing layout, Jim has attained uber-geek status as far as I’m concerned. (That’s a good thing, Jim!) In case you’re wondering, I changed the link in the sidebar to reflect the new address.

One of the other tools we have is the Oklahoma Bicycle Education Fund. It’s designed to provide some financial underpinnings for our education effort, but in fact, it’s gone largely unused except for some support to the Tulsa Community Cycling Program. I’d like to see this money used for a good cause, and the recommendations for its use should come from the membership. Ideas are always welcome.

In that vein, I’ll repeat something that’s been said before. We have more good ideas than we have hands. We need people who can help with some of the programs and initiatives. It would be nice to have a big budget to play with too, but I won’t hold my breath. OBC really does need some people to help with local efforts.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Grant seeking

I attended the grant seeking basics for non-profits seminar at the Martin Regional Library on Thursday. I was pleasantly surprised – no - make that astounded to discover how many foundations are out there and how much money is available. Robbie Sittel, Foundation Center Coordinator at the Tulsa City County Library led the class.

TCCL has a foundation directory on-line at the Central Library downtown. It permits searches for grant money based on city, state, foundation name, keywords, and more. It also searches IRS form 990, used by foundations to report disbursed monies, and that’s a powerful tool for finding possible grants. (A caveat would go well at this point. I am not a financial guy. Frankly, I do not understand much of the 990 form, but I know people who do. This may be an essential for mining this information for possible grants and donors.)

Ms. Sittel took us on a tour of the Foundation Center website and gave us voluminous information about using this site and others to ferret out grant opportunities. The Center has a bulletin that highlights new grants and it’s possible to subscribe to receive notices via e-mail. I’m wondering if it would be possible to subscribe to the page via Bloglines or some other service.

The Foundation Center is only one such resource, of course. There are many others, including:
A searchable database of government grants.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
Information on government sponsored grant programs including formula and project grants, direct loans, and others.


US Dept of Education


In addition, there are books and periodicals.

Some of the government grant applications are very stringent. Everything must be submitted just as the agencies request otherwise it will be rejected. Some programs, like the Community Development Block Grants, are very competitive and have a complicated, difficult application process.

For research assistance, the Tulsa City County Library has a government documents librarian who can be very helpful when trying to locate information on a given community. The librarian can sort out information from the US census, for instance.

I’ve said this before, I know, but it bears repeating. TCCL is a wonderful library system, one of the best I’ve ever used. And the staff is outstanding. If you need to find something, not just a book but perhaps some obscure information, ask a librarian. It’s their JOB to find things and they’re very good at it.

Finally, there’s this: When I first agreed to try writing a grant proposal, I felt like I was walking through a minefield while blindfolded. Had I submitted something it probably would have been rejected simply because I didn’t know what I was doing or how to do it right. This short course has made me more aware and more confident of success. I can’t thank Ms. Sittel and the Tulsa City County Library enough for providing this information. This isn’t the only class offered, of course. Many others are available. They can be found at:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Some Quick Notes

First, as one of my crew chiefs pointed out, "No one is as smart as all of us together!" It's true of aviation and it's equally true of cyclists. I can't claim to know absolutely everything about bicycling, but I'm willing to share what I've learned. Even better, some of you add your comments and correct me on those rare occasions when I'm wrong! I warned you the 'humble' phase wouldn't last!

Second, I attended that grant research workshop today. There's an amazing amount of money that goes to all manner of projects! I'll write more on that later. But know this - I'm really excited about the idea of going for funding for some of our local and regional projects.

With that in mind, I'll probably attend the OBC annual membership meeting on Saturday.

Winter Cycling - Conclusion

Equipment and Maintenance

Winter tires should have more aggressive tread because it's more likely they'll be used on wet roads. Also, it's a good idea to run larger tires, partly because they're a little more resistant to flats and because they have a larger contact patch when they're run at lower pressures. The front tire should be the better of the two. The contact patch under it is roughly the size of a thumbprint (for a road bike), and it provides nearly all your steering and braking. I'm assuming you know how to brake hard and can do a quick stop maneuver on dry pavement.

Inspect your tires carefully before every ride. This cannot be emphasized enough. Having a flat is annoying but when it’s cold and wet, a flat tire can be a real pain-in-the-ass. Fixing one with numbed fingers is difficult. So check your tires!

We teach the “ABC Quick Check” in Road1. A is for air. See that your tires are properly inflated. Before a winter ride, give them a spin to look for worn spots, bulges, or anything else that could force you to walk home. B is for brakes. See that there’s at least a thumb’s width of clearance between the lever and the handlebar. C is for cranks and chains. Check to see that your pedals are threaded all the way into the crankarm, and that the crank itself doesn’t exhibit any looseness. See that the chain is on the cogs and chainring. Finally, ‘Quick’ means to check that your quick releases are properly closed.

Carry a plastic bag to cover your saddle if it's exposed to the weather. There's nothing that compares to the discomfort of sitting on a cold, wet saddle at the end of the day, especially when the body parts that come in contact with it aren't really accustomed to being cold and wet.

Fenders keep the grunge factor down and really improve riding on wet pavement. You still get wet, but at least you don't get filthy too. Without fenders, your own tires throw up quite a lot of road grime.

Be aware that exposed cables can allow grit to enter the cable housing. It's almost impossible to stop without going to fully-enclosed cable runs, like on a cyclocross bike. You'll probably have to remove and lubricate your cables in the spring, but then again, it's a good practice to replace them regularly too. Take that as an opportunity.

My normal commuter bikes have steel frames, and as we all know, steel will rust. Worse, it will rust from the inside out. Rain and condensation can get inside a frame and destroy it. So if you ride steel bikes, consider applying a rust proofing material like Frame Saver, Amzoil MPHD, or even used motor oil to the inside of your frame. Additionally, I've drilled small weep holes at the low point of the bottom bracket, allowing condensation to escape.

Having a second or ‘beater’ bike for winter riding is a good practice. If it’s ridden in bad weather, it will still require regular maintenance just like any other bike. The difference is that a beater bike can be less expensive to maintain. My ‘good’ bike has top-quality components that will last a long time, especially if I avoid subjecting them to winter road grime. My beater bike has a cheap coaster bike chain that I’ll throw away in the spring. In fact, most of the components like brake pads, cables, and tires are expendable. I don’t expect them to last more than a year.

Keep your chain, cassette, and chainrings clean and lubricated. I won’t go into a long, boring discussion of chain lubricants. Suffice it to say that keeping it clean and lubed will make it last far longer, as well as make for rides free of annoying squeaks. Clean and lube after the bike has been ridden in the rain, or after a good cleaning. There have been times my beater bike is so grungy I’ve taken it to the car wash for cleaning. That requires immediate chain maintenance afterward.


Just like summer riding, winter cycling is an activity that requires some time for your body to adapt. If you’ve never tried it, limit your first rides to short distances so if you have a problem with equipment or weather, you won’t be caught somewhere in the boonies.

One cold winter morning, I arrived at work and two co-workers asked about cold weather commuting. They thought I was slightly crazed for riding in the cold, but minutes later they were discussing their upcoming ski trip to Colorado. To my way of thinking, both skiing and winter cycling are enjoyable cold weather activities, but the big difference is that I don’t have to stand in lift lines. And ANY kind of outside activity is better than sitting on the couch watching sports on television.

So get out there! Have some fun, and be a stronger, faster, more confident cyclist when spring arrives.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Winter Cycling - Part 2

Winter Cycling Attitude

I’ll be honest. The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s almost inevitable that you'll be cold sometimes. You'll get wet now and then, too. Ideally, if you can't stay dry, try to stay warm. My rule-of-thumb is to add an extra layer if it's raining. But sometimes you'll get wet and cold. That's when determination sets in, knowing that you have to ride through it in order to get home or to whatever destination you have in mind. After getting caught out in bad weather or changing weather conditions, you'll find that while it may not be enjoyable or entirely pleasant, you can ride.

Sometimes there's a perverse joy that comes from riding in really sloppy conditions. If you've ever ridden a cyclocross race in the mud, you'll understand. I was once thoroughly covered in gray mud from limestone dust that was thrown up by passing trucks. The reaction of others on the road was comical, but I wouldn’t want to make rides like that a regular occurrence. Likewise, I once caught a bug to go for a ride on slush-covered roads just to spin through a local park, with those knobby cyclocross tires throwing up rooster tails. It wasn’t a long ride but it was fun! But again, I don’t want to do that very often.

Riding in cold, wet weather doesn’t imply that you have to suffer. No one wants to do that - with the possible exception of an elderly aunt I know who regales us with a very long list of her aches and pains. Just be aware that the weather can change abruptly, and despite your best preparation, sometimes you'll be caught out. There's a kind of grim determination that sets in when you're part way to your destination and the cold front blows in earlier than expected. Even if it starts raining, a ride can be enjoyable. Just realize that you may not stay dry, but perhaps you can stay warm by adding another layer, even if that layer is the morning newspaper stuffed under your jersey.

Riding in bad weather will give you versatility. You'll learn to adapt quickly and a few impromptu 'lessons' from rapidly changing weather conditions will force you to plan ahead. For instance, even if the weather is supposed to be nice on a fall or winter day, I'll have gloves, a skullcap, leg warmers, and a windbreaker handy. There are times the forecasts are way off!

Skill Development and Technique

I've spent some time sitting on the pavement wondering. One moment I was riding along just fine, and in the next second I was sliding along an icy road on my butt. What happened?

I rode through the winter in Pittsburgh, PA, partly in desperation from cabin fever, and partly as a result of the guilt I felt from all that holiday over-eating. I rode in rain, wet and dry snow, slush, ice, and sleet. Pittsburgh had a lot of trolley tracks and Belgian block streets (think of them as biggie-sized cobblestones) all of them treacherous even when dry. Wet conditions were worse and ice was almost unmanageable.

My regular commute followed arterial streets because they were direct and fast. But I had another route for really foul weather that meandered through side streets and alleys. It worked well, until we had an ice storm overnight and I tried to ride the Belgian blocks. Their rounded tops made traction an iffy thing. That morning I rode out onto them and fell immediately. I tried to stand up and my feet shot out from under me! Down on the street again, I heard a woman behind me laughing at my predicament. Then she stepped off the sidewalk onto the cobbles, and she went down too! We ended up crawling off the street. It was the only way to go.

Wet snow and slush offer about as much traction as wet pavement, but they tend to accumulate on the frame and derailleurs, eventually freezing the mechanisms. Fenders help some, but they too can clog with ice. I kept cheap derailleurs for winter conditions and swapped them for my good ones when spring arrived. A liberal application of WD-40 helps to prevent ice build up, but it isn't a cure all. Eventually, I started riding a fixed gear that required little maintenance, and I'm thinking about building an internally geared wheel for a commuter.

Deep snow is much like riding in sand. It's hard going because the tires sink. The front tire tends to slip sideways when turning. The tire compresses a layer of snow as it travels forward, then slides down and to the side as it turns left or right. This is disconcerting even at low speed. I never tried it going fast.

My favorite is dry, hard-packed snow. It gives almost as much traction as dry pavement, but you still have to be careful at intersections because the heat from car engines and exhaust can melt the surface slightly, causing a glassy, wet ice that is very slick. Still, there's something magical about riding a bicycle on a sunny day when the high temperature might soar to 20 or so. The air is crisp and it seems that sounds carry a long way.

Curiously, motorists seem more courteous toward cyclists brave enough to face truly harsh conditions, even when they're traveling in the only available space - a tire track through the snow and slush. Maybe drivers think that anyone riding a bike in that kind of weather has to be a little crazed in the first place. But in Oklahoma I hesitate to ride in traffic on snow covered or icy roads. Motorists here have too little experience of such conditions, and they make too many mistakes.

In winter, you're more likely to encounter loose surfaces including sand and gravel as well as snow and ice. Tires grip better on wet pavement if you let a little air out of them. I usually drop mine from 100psi down to about 80; just enough that they have a little 'give' under finger pressure. There's an article I read recently compared wide vs. narrow tires. It says for a given tire pressure, the contact patch will be identical. That contact patch under your front tire is all your control and almost all your braking. You can make it larger simply by letting some air out of the tire, but I probably wouldn't go less than about 80psi in a 700x28 - my standard tire choice for commuting.

Brakes don't work well when the pads and rims are wet, so allow more distance for slowing and stopping. Likewise, the metal road furniture like manhole covers, railroad tracks, and the steel plates used in construction areas are extremely slippery when wet. Some 'painted' lines, directional arrows, and sharrows are actually decals applied to the road surface. They're made from a plastic material that is extremely slippery when wet. Exercise caution.

Wind is another force to reckon with through the winter. In addition to the problem of staying warm, it can greatly affect control. Gusting crosswinds are especially difficult. There's a tendency to grab the handlebars in a 'death grip' that results in tight, cold muscles, sore hands, and even more difficulty staying in control of the bike as crosswinds slam into it. A better approach is to stay 'loose' atop the bike, allowing it to move sideways under your body, while you travel in a straight line. It's almost like doing rock dodges. Your body tracks straight but the bike moves side-to-side. This is also a good technique to use when passing traffic momentarily blocks a crosswind. Large trucks will have a push-pull-push effect that can be very disconcerting. Try to anticipate it, don’t panic, and stay loose on the bike.

Fixed gear riders have a small advantage in winter. With the right gear choice, a fixie rider will spin almost effortlessly. The constant motion keeps the rider warmer than he'd be on a multi-geared bike.

You won't go as fast when it's cold. I don't know why this happens, but it's true. It has some benefits though. Wind resistance is lessened, so it's easy to wear a loose windbreaker roomy enough for a sweater underneath. But try to remember to be kind to your knees. Gear down and spin. When spring arrives, you'll be ready for the longer tours, rather than working the winter kinks out of your legs.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Winter Cycling - Part 1

Most of this was first published in the Red Dirt Pedaler's newsletter, Wheel Issues, where I write a column titled Lanterne Rouge and it was first posted here in CycleDog in 2005. Since then, I've added material and done some editing.

I'll ride through the winter, but realize that in northeast Oklahoma, our average low temperature in January is 22F. If you need advice and information regarding more extreme winter temperatures, I suggest the Icebike site.

One thing that was emphasized in the League of American Bicyclists instructor’s class was that it’s not necessary for an LCI candidate to know absolutely everything about cycling, as if that were possible. Instead, the instructors were looking for the ability to teach the subject at hand, not necessarily an all-encompassing knowledge of it. So in saying that, I’m admitting that I cannot possibly know all there is to know about winter cycling, but I’m certainly willing to share what I’ve learned. In fact, that would be a good caveat for all of the material in CycleDog. (And yes, I’m feeling humble today. Don’t worry. It won’t last long!)

Winter cycling clothes

Winter riding helps us to maintain some hard-won fitness. It’s preferable to being forced to re-build it in the spring. It's not terribly expensive and it's certainly more fun than being in the gym. You probably have most of the necessary clothing, but a couple of additional items make the difference between a chilly ride and a comfortable one.

Layers, layers, layers.

The key to winter cycling comfort is layers. Multiple thin layers are better than a single thick one because they offer versatility and allow you to deal with changing conditions. Have a bag for extra clothing or a long strap on a seat bag if you need to shed a layer.

The first layer against your skin should be a synthetic with good wicking capabilities. Polypropylene, silk, or wool are all good choices. Discount stores sell some poly stuff that's inexpensive in the $10-12 range, if I remember right. Even cotton longs will help, provided you don't get wet from rain or perspiration. Cotton doesn't insulate when wet. (As an aside: there's a website for the single-bag traveler that recommends packing long underwear as a viable alternative to a thick sweater or heavy coat. It makes sense. Your body doesn't care how thick that layer of warm, dry air is. It just wants that layer next to the skin.)

The mid-layer provides most of the insulation, and in general it should be a synthetic too. Vests, synthetic sweaters, and even cotton sweatshirts (within limitations) will work here. My wife gave me a wind blocking fleece jacket for Christmas a few years ago, and it's one of my best pieces of winter cycling gear. Synthetics will keep you warm even if they're wet, and given the extremely changeable weather here in Oklahoma, it's a good idea to be prepared.

The outer layer provides wind and rain protection. Gore-tex is nice, but it's pricey and frankly I've never used it. I stick with simple windbreakers. I always think about the possibility of taking a fall, and if I'm going to rip up a jacket, I'd prefer to destroy a cheap one. A bargain-bin anorak that costs ten bucks is almost a throw away item. These cheap jackets are not waterproof, so I carry a rain jacket too.

The humble cotton bandana is a useful item to have along on any winter ride. You can tie one as a doo-rag to give another layer under a helmet. It can be used around the neck to block cold air between your neck and collar, trapping more warm air under a jacket. You can clean your hands after changing a tire. And in a pinch, they work as bandages. You could probably even blow your nose on one, but why anyone would do that is beyond me. Shooting snot rockets is infinitely more fun!

Kit suggestions

OK, here's my kit at temperatures in the 60s: Shorts, jersey, long-sleeved poly shirt, arm warmers, and the ever-present doo-rag. It offers some versatility. If there's a strong headwind, the arm warmers stay on. If there's a strong tail wind, they come off and the long sleeves get rolled up. Think of the arms as your radiators, 'cause I'll be coming back to this. Socks are almost always CoolMax cheapies. I tend to destroy socks.

With a 10-degree temperature drop, I'll add tights, full gloves and a windbreaker. Again, windbreaker and gloves are optional depending on the wind. Also, I'm partial to the double-fronted, bib type tights. They're more expensive, but they last a long time, and they provide more warmth. The tights are the only expensive items I have for winter rides.

In the 40s, I add a skullcap under my helmet and a vest or light sweater, and sometimes a neck gator, depending on the wind.

Below 40, I substitute a wind-blocking balaclava for the skullcap, substitute a heavier sweater for the vest, and wear ski gloves rather than thin cycling gloves or work gloves. And I switch to thick wool socks. Last winter, I started wearing goggles rather than glasses. They’re more comfortable, but they tend to fog when I stop at intersections.

Cycling shoes can be a problem in winter. If you ride in the wet, stuff them with newspaper after your ride to help dry them quickly. You may need to change the newspaper once or twice to speed things up. Be certain that your shoes are large enough! Tight shoes can be painfully cold because they restrict circulation. I’ve never tried shoe covers, but I know some people who swear by them. A cheap alternative is to wear thin overshoes over your cycling shoes, with cutouts for your cleats.

My temperature limit is a little below freezing, though I've ridden to work when it was in the teens. The cold is hard on my knees. But remember, I commute to work before dawn, and it seems so much colder when it's dark outside!

There's an old climber's adage that it's easier to stay warm than it is to get warm. Think of your torso as the furnace, and your limbs and head as the radiators. If you keep your torso warm, your body responds by moving more blood to the extremities, keeping your hands and feet warmer. Likewise, since so much of your blood supply circulates through your head, keeping it warm with a skullcap or balaclava will force more blood and heat out to the other extremities. Maybe Mom was right to make us wear hats in the winter. It seems counter-intuitive, but if your hands and feet are cold, wear a hat.

It takes some experience and judgment to figure out just what you'll need on a cold day. My kit choices are not definitive. In fact, I have a friend who routinely rides in the 40s with only shorts, t-shirt, and a cotton sweatshirt. He's tougher than me. But one rule of thumb is that if you leave the garage feeling warm and toasty, you're probably over-dressed. The trick is to figure out what you'll need after you've warmed up. I usually err on the warm side though, so I take along a seat bag that can hold some of the extra clothing if I get too warm.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cycles Valhalla Coming Slowly On Line

Forbes is importing some heavy-duty bikes from India, including some leather saddles. His website features one that appears to be a reproducton of an old Raleigh. I've looked at some of the Indian bikes too, and with two old Raleigh Tourists sitting in the garage, I could use some parts!

In, "Forbes Bagatelle-Black" wrote:

My bicycle company, Cycles Valhalla, is about to become a quasi-reality. I am supposed to get in my first sample tomorrow, via air freight from India:

Life is full of surprises. I got the bike yesterday. It's a single speed! I just assumed it would be a three speed, but that was entirely my fault. I went back and looked at all the info on the bike, and, sure enough, it was a single speed. Just goes to show that one's hard-wired expectations can override the data in front of one's eyes.

In any case, the bike looks very cool so far. Funky-cool and way, way sturdy. I chatted with the company rep last night. They can make the bikes three speeds, but with "fixie-fever" sweeping the nation, I think my first order will be for single speeds.

I'll build it up this weekend. More pics to follow.

OT: Cameras and Old Photos

Fritz asked:

What kind of cameras?

I love the old photos.

I can go on about cameras almost as much as I do about bikes!

My current 35mm kit is based on 2 Pentax MX SLRs with an assortment of lenses, flash units, filters, and a solitary motor drive. The lenses range from a 28mm wide angle through a 500mm mirror lens, with fixed aperture zooms in between. I use fixed apertures because the MX is an all-manual camera. It doesn't automatically compensate for a changing aperture as a lens zooms. The MX and LX were the Pentax 'system' cameras. They had a wide variety of backs, motor drives, view screens, and other accessories.

My old 'spy' camera was a Kodak Retina IIa, a 1950s German-made Kodak with a Schneider lens, if I recall right. It was a folding camera that fit nicely in my pocket. Since it had a leaf shutter, it operated almost silently - great for taking unobtrusive photos.

My 'new' spy camera is a Voightlander Bessa medium format folder. It's only slightly larger than the old Retina, but it takes better photos. Or it did until the shutter jammed. I'm afraid that if I take it to a camera repair shop, it will be uneconomical to fix.

I'm using 2 medium format Rolleicord IVs too. They're the amateur camera from Rolleiflex, absent the crank winder and coupled shutter mechanism of the Rolleiflex, but with very good lenses. They aren't coated, so flare is a problem with some light sources. They're both about 50 years old, so I can't complain about flare.

The digital still camera is a Kodak DX6490 with a Schneider 38-380mm lens in a non-removable mount. It takes a 55mm filter and the close-up lenses simply screw on over the filter. I like digital cameras for taking snapshots and tinkering - like with those close-up lenses. This is the camera I used to copy those photos. It was handheld, with the photos on our kitchen table, lit indirectly with window light.

There are more cameras in storage. I collected most of them from yard sales, garage sales, and flea markets. In fact, I came across a Leica manual printed in Germany during the 1930s. It was in English, but included all those Nazi photo montages that became notorious during and after the war. I traded it to a collector for a Yashica 12, the precursor to the 124d. It was Yashica's copy of a Rolleiflex. The camera was so rugged I said you could beat someone to death with it, then photograph the corpse. I gave it to my sister Susan when she expressed an interest in learning photography.

None of this stuff is collectable or rare. Most are 'user' cameras and show some dings and scratches.

Now, as for the old photos - I'll post more of them here from time to time. (What that REALLY means is that I'll post them once I FIND them!)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Old Photos

In case anyone's wondering, I discovered that the old close-up lenses from my 35mm equipment work just fine on the digital camera. I have 3 lenses that allow much shorter working distances. Now I can be REALLY boring with photos of old stuff!

This is the Detroit portable track set up in Cleveland, Ohio sometime in the early 1980's. The track had 47 degree banking, and since it was constructed of plywood, really emphasized track racing as "thunder on the boards".

Michael Schermer (left) one of the original Race Across America contestants. Greg Kurkjian (right), and a good guy to have as a friend. Taken at the NY Bicycle Show in the early 80s.

Somewhere, I have a picture of The Cannibal too, taken at the same show.

Masis - Lots of Masis. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

News, and a plea for help.

Posted by Paul Tay to CycleDog at 11/08/2006 12:04:02 PM

Maybe you should take in donations and provide the classes free to kids, 4th and 5th graders. There's a lot to be said for teaching kids bike ed, a precursor to driver ed in high skool.

Actually, there are a couple of interesting developments along those lines.  First, there's a program in California that offers bicycling instruction to city residents free of charge.  I don't know how they fund the program, but I'll find out.

Next, one of our instructors was contacted by the Chicago Bike Federation regarding the Tulsa Community Cycling Project.  We run this on a shoestring with a small grant from INCOG, a tiny budget from the Tulsa Wheelmen, and a lot of donated equipment.  The bikes and instruction go to social services clients from several local agencies, including the Salvation Army, Exodus House, Day Center for the Homeless, and others.  Chicago will have a similar program soon, but they also received a grant for $75,000.  They'll be purchasing new bikes rather than relying on donated ones.

Tom Brown and I talked about this over the weekend.  He has a nice commuter bike in the shop, complete with heavy duty wheels, fenders, and even a rack if I recall right.  All it needs are lights for day and night use.  It would be so nice to provide a quality bike to the clients.  But of course, we don't have the budget for that.


Next week, the Tulsa City-County Library is offering a class on grant writing and research.  I'm going.  If it's at all possible, I'll try to get some grant money for our projects. 

Finally, there's this - the Tulsa Community Cycling Project is out of space.  We have bikes stored in several garages, including my own, and there simply isn't enough space.  Worse, one of our instructors will be moving soon, and we'll lose that garage space.

So we need some help.  Collecting and repairing the bicycles is a big part of the service we provide to clients.  If a church group were interested in helping with this, I'm willing to teach the basics of bicycle repair over a couple of weekends.  Hey, if I can do it, it's far from rocket science!  This could be a good project for a teen group.  Anyone with an interest is urged to contact me.

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Ivan Bassso signs with Discovery!

Italian cyclist Basso signs with U.S.-based Discovery Channel team
Updated 11/8/2006 3:18 PM ET

By Sal Ruibal, USA TODAY

Italian cycling star Ivan Basso has signed a two-year deal with the U.S.-based Discovery Channel pro team.

Basso's signing is a strong indication that the Spanish doping investigation that kept Basso and other top riders from competing in the 2006 Tour de France is fizzling out.

"We are excited about Ivan joining the team," Discovery director Johan Bruyneel said Wednesday. "We're looking forward to having him at Discovery Channel's training camp in Austin on December 3."

Road1 Canceled

This Saturday's Road1 class has been canceled because there were insufficent sign-ups. The next class will be scheduled on the Tulsa Parks website, and of course I'll announce it here too.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

This just in...(OT)

I just got back from voting. While I waited for Mary to finish, I talked with one of the poll workers.

"How's the turnout been?" I asked.

"Normally we get about 250 people all day", she said. "But we had 75 waiting in line when we opened at 7 this morning. There has been someone voting in here all day." She looked over at the tally machine. "It's showing 850 right now."

This was at about 4:30 local time, shortly before the evening rush hour.

Now, what was that about voter apathy?

I may not agree with the results, but there's no denying that people take a keen interest in their government. It feels good to be a voter.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Driver Education Ineffective?

Dr. Clapton believes that improved technology (safer roadways and cars) is largely responsible for the reduction in death rates from motor vehicle crashes, not driver education. If I recall right, Great Britain cut traffic deaths in half, mostly through installation of traffic monitoring cameras throughout the country. So while Dr. Clapton's assertion would seem to be substantiated by that reduction in deaths, wide spread opposition to such a effort would be expected here in the US. Still, we lost over 42,000 people in traffic crashes last year.

Bicycling advocates point out that we rely on three things that make our roads safer: education, engineering, and enforcement. Some add encouragement as a means of getting more people out from behind the wheel of a car and onto their bikes. Regardless, it’s an article of faith that bicycling education makes the learning process shorter and makes both beginning and experienced cyclists safer and more confident.

In John Forester’s Effective Cycling (6th edition, page 271, table 28.7) there’s a table that says self-taught cyclists take 50,000 miles and 10 years of road experience to become safe, confident cyclists in nearly all road conditions. Club cyclists reach the same level in 5,000 miles and about 2 years of riding. Those who learn from books take 2,500 miles and a year of riding. But cyclists who take Effective Cycling instruction take only 800 miles and 3 months of riding. (Effective Cycling was offered by the League of American Bicyclists, and has been superceded by Road1.)

Forester also charted the crash rates among children, college associated adults and club cyclists. Not surprisingly, children have the highest crash rate at 1,500 miles per accident. College associated adults average 2,000 miles per crash. And club cyclists average 10,00 miles per crash. (Effective Cycling, page 261.) Education, whether it’s classroom and formalized, or the more informal school of hard knocks, would seem to indicate that education and experience really do serve to reduce risk.

“There are other bicycle accident statistics that astonish most people…Cyclists who often ride under difficult conditions (in heavy traffic, in mountainous terrain, at night, and in the rain) have a lower accident rate than flatland, fair-weather recreational cyclists…Riding to work, done largely on main arterial streets at rush hour, is the safest of all known cycling activities….(C)ycling skill is the most important ingredient in reducing cycling accidents…The most important problem in the American cycling system is the incompetence of cyclists.” Effective Cycling, John Forester, page 262.

Here’s my admittedly snarky take on safety enhancement. Look at it from the standpoint of physics. Kinetic energy = mass x velocity squared. In order to reduce the energy that has to be dissipated in a crash, we can reduce mass, velocity, or both. So in my fantasy land, no passenger vehicle can weigh more than 2500 pounds nor have an engine more powerful than, say, 35 horsepower - approximately the power available in my 1971 Super Beetle when it had a fresh tune-up. And since Dr. Clapton seems to think that we take greater risks when we feel safer behind airbags, remove them. Remove the seatbelts and 4-wheel disk brakes too. Let's go back to drum brakes and bias ply tires. Let's scare the hell out of drivers by putting them in machines that they know will result in their deaths in the event of a crash. That'll teach 'em.

Found via the Treadly and Me blog:

Excerpts follow:

Dr Rick Clapton reckons that driver training efforts are wasted.

UBC Home Page
Teaching people to be better drivers is not improving traffic safety, but better technology may do the trick, say researcher Rick Clapton

UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 11 | Nov. 2, 2006

Driver Education Not Enough
For safer roads we must turn to technology, says researcher

By Bud Mortenson

Rick Clapton once believed driver training helped improve safety for motorists, but those views have taken a sharp U-turn.

Now teaching history at UBC Okanagan, the former long-haul truck driver and licensed driving instructor recently examined the changing traffic death reduction policies of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States over the past two centuries. His conclusion: traffic death reductions in these countries are a result of safer roadways and cars — not improved driving practices.

“I now think all the resources put into driver education have failed,” he says. “It’s not working. Actually, a number of studies show that drivers with driver education have higher crash records than those drivers who don’t have driver training.”

…Although traffic death rates have fallen since the late 1960s, crash and injury rates have remained constant in the countries he studied. Clapton says it’s an indication that, despite greater emphasis on training, driving behaviour hasn’t changed much in recent decades.

“The reduction in traffic deaths has been a direct result of improved roads, vehicles, safety restraints and medical practices, rather than encouraging safer driving practices,” he says.

…Something as simple as disabling cell phones in cars could do wonders for driving safety, he suggests.

…He cautions that even technical advancements aren’t always solutions. Take, for example, back-up alarms that sound when a vehicle is in danger of striking an object behind it. Clapton says drivers can become reliant on this kind of device, over time losing their ability to function safely without them.

“We can’t always predict how technology will affect driver behaviour,” he says. “A significant majority of people derive a sense of power from driving, and people with air bags and other safety devices almost always drive more aggressively because they feel safer.”

Call it human nature. People don’t want to believe how dangerous driving can be, Clapton says.

…A phenomenon called “optimism bias” places blinders on drivers, too. “It’s the ‘this won’t happen to me’ phenomenon,” he says. “Trained drivers have confidence that they’re safe, when they are actually just as vulnerable as any other motorist.”