Monday, April 30, 2007

Bike to Work (Forwarded from TulsaNow)

From Patrick Fox, Pedestrian and Bicycle Planner at the Indian Nations Council of Governments:

Hello there my fine TulsaNow friends,

This forum has long provided a great sounding board for a lot of ideas on how to make Tulsa a better, more attractive place to live. It has also prompted a few of you to say "Let's stop talking, and do something about it." Well, now is your chance: The 2007 Bike to Work season is upon us.

Why? There are so many reasons. It's healthy. It's one less car on the road. It's gallons of gas not bought and burned. It's less smog in our air. And, in this persons opinion, among the many elements that make up a "great" city, being a great place to ride a bike is one of them. Bottomline, Tulsa needs to be a bicycle friendly community.

You can do your part! I won't pretend to speak for you.... Maybe you don't give a flip about bicycling, or you just don't have any of those super-attractive tight outfits those hardcore riders are always sporting, or your bike is so old that you still have coaster brakes and playing cards in your spokes. Not to worry! There is no dress code for Bike to Work day, and in case you didn't know, that old Sting-Ray is back in style. And if you don't care about bicycling yourself, that's ok too. More bikes on the road just means more room on the road for your Hummer. I digress.

SO....lube up that chain, hop on, and ride to work with us to our kickoff event on Wednesday, May 16th. We are meeting down at the Blue Dome Diner from 7:00 am to 8:30 am. And breakfast is on us. Well, at least those delicious, homemade breakfast sandwiches they make at the Blue Dome are on us.

Let's make a statement! Everyone who can, ride and join us in solidarity. Should Tulsa be a more Bike Friendly place? You bet it should. How is that going to happen? We have to be a loud voice for change. We have to organize. Mostly, we have to ride our bikes. The more riders we have, the more visibility we have, and the more likely it is that those who can make the changes will notice.

I hope we can make this the largest Bike to Work event in the State. OKC is having their event on that Friday, as is Norman. So help us make sure that we remain the biking capital of Oklahoma on Wednesday May 16th.

More info at

P.S. For those who plan to ride with us all season long (May through Sept 15th) the Bike to Work Tracker is back in business. Track your bike to work miles weekly and be entered to win monthly prizes. All participants will receive a report showing how many miles you have peddled.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Oklahoma Bicycle Crash Survey

Forwarded from Pete Kramer:

The 2006 OBC Bicycling Accident Surveys are still open.

So far we've had reports from about 30 bicyclists. That's about half the number from 2005.

If you suffered a bicycling accident during 2006 we'd like to know about it.

This year there are two surveys: one for road bicyclists, one for trail/mountain bicyclists. The links below will take you to the appropriate survey. Some of us many need to use both!

Mountain Bike Accident Survey:

Road Bike Accident Survey:

As we learned from last year's 2005 survey, bicycle accidents are under reported because if the police aren't called, no statistics are sent to DPS. Since many communities are now planning improvements to bicycling facilities this information can help them learn what causes bicycle accidents and hopefully correct problems before they are built.

All responses are anonymous. The survey will be open for 30 more days, and will close on May 31, 2007.

If you know someone who had a bicycling accident in 2006 please point them to the proper link.

Thanks for your help.

- - - -
Visit the New OBC website at!

"We are four dimensional beings in three dimensional bodies, looking out two-dimensional windshields." -- Cowboy Neal at the Wheel


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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ban Comic Sans MS?

I heard about this earlier in the week when Boing Boing carried a brief post about it. Please don't think that I'm some sort of anti-Comic-sans-ms bigot. Far from it, in fact. I believe that we should be inclusive towards all fonts, regardless of both their merits and shortcomings. It's a path toward a happier, saner world where all typefaces co-exist free and unhindered. This bright vision of a shiny new society, free from the shackles of anti-Comic-sans-ms bigotry, should be the common goal of all true progressives.

...and now, having written all that mealy-mouthed, feel-good stuff up above, I may just have to clean this keyboard with Lysol.


By Martin Skivington

Posted Sunday, 25 Mar 2007 03:42:23 GMT


Somewhere in the murky underworld of graphic design there is a band of renegade activists who answer to no-one, and are willing to fight against anyone using the Comic Sans font.

You know the font-- it's goofy-looking and a bit cheese. You will have seen it used everywhere, from movie posters and powerpoint presentations, to corporate logos and car park signs. So what's the problem?

Folks behind the 'Ban Comic Sans' campaign say it's disrespectful to the old art of typography. It's use implies naivety and silliness, and should be confined to pink lettering on little girls' bikes-- and not on serious media forms.

But what of the campaigners-- a shadowy bunch, they use quasi-religious terms like "the sanctity of typography" in their propaganda, while appealing to the "working man" to join their campaign erradicating a simple computer font.

So are they a dangerous militia? Or just some peeved designers armed with little more than stickers and an artistic temperament. I spoke to the movement's head-- who I'll refer to only as "Dave" --to find out if it's all about art, or all a bit fart.

Earz: I assume that you lot at 'Ban Comic Sans' are designers?

Yes, that's correct. My wife Holly and I are both graphic designers, and when we realized that we shared a common disgust for inappropriate Comic Sans usage we decided that rather than just complain about it we should take action.

Earz: Why, according to your manifesto, should comic sans be banned?

In short, it's just not safe for unregulated public use. It should be handled like controlled substances or firearms, and should be used only by licensed professionals in very specific settings. Since we can't have it that way, I'm afraid it should be banned altogether.

...Using comic sans in serious literature is akin to wearing pink to a funeral, and should be avoided at all costs by persons with a brain. For more information, stickers and propaganda on the ban comic sans campaign, check the link below.


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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Broken Elbow Critical Mass

For Wes Ernest, who introduced me to that cathedral in the woods.

Wally caught some bug that insisted Broken Elbow needed a Critical Mass ride. Since I'm his partner in crime for most of his exploits, I couldn't help but back him up on this one too. With bird dogs, it's called “honoring” the other dog's point. Wally and I are nothing if we're not dogs, him especially. He'd posted signs all over town, advertising the ride for the last Friday of the month, as is traditional for CM rides the world over.

So we were fairly conspicuous standing there on the corner of Main Street next to Larry's Cafe while we waited for the expected mass of riders. Police Chief Fred rolled up in his patrol car. He expected to corral a bunch of law-breakin' anarchists on bicycles, probably the biggest mass arrest Broken Elbow had ever seen. But it was just me and Wally on the corner. We're the usual suspects whenever something untoward happens anyway, so Fred decided to interrogate us immediately.

Are you guys planning some kinda protest demonstration?” Fred was a little brusque, but at heart he's a nice guy. “Did you put them posters up?”

We tried to explain about Critical Mass, but Fred didn't want to hear it.

I ain't gonna tolerate any anti-Catholic protests in this town,” Fred stated flatly. He pronounced it cath-a-lick. He used ath-a-leet too, but Fred was basically a good guy and we didn't try to correct him. Wally and I liked Fred. It would be rude to make him look foolish. While Fred may have been raised as a Baptist, he wasn't going to let anyone rile one of Broken Elbow's most respected men, Father Wisniewski. They were fishing buddies, worshipers at the altar of the almighty brook trout. It's a faith that cuts across all political, religious, and economic lines. Wally and I are true believers too.

Huh? An anti-Catholic demonstration?” I said. “Fred, you of all people ought to know we wouldn't do that!”

Father Wisniewski, also called The Wiz though never while he was within earshot, caught Wally and me trying to poach some trout on a cold spring morning long ago. We were flogging the water into a froth with our spin-cast rods, and our inept fishing method made him madder than the out-of-season poaching. The good father gave us both barrels of his ire, then sat down on a wet, mossy stone to tell us the right way to fish. He talked of monstrous trout, fragile tackle, and the stealth a true fisherman needs to be successful. We learned of the art of enticing wary trout to take a dry fly. Somehow, our fumbling efforts to catch some fish seemed to be unworthy and crude. Father Wisniewski talked for an hour as we stood transfixed while slowly succumbing to the cold and the lure of his ideas. He was a scientific angler and a member of Trout Unlimited. His knowledge of both insects and trout was staggering. The university even invited him to teach entomology. He spent cold winter evenings tying dry flies and nymphs, dreaming of the glorious spring to come.

Every man needs a passion, and Father Wisniewski's was trout fishing. He didn't proselytize the unbelievers, however. No, the Wiz was canny enough to keep quiet about the joy of fishing, because if it became too popular, his favorite streams would be over run with converts. He needn't have worried, though, because most people in Broken Elbow preferred to get their fish from the supermarket in conveniently frozen square chunks. His favorite, secret fishing spot was called the cathedral in the woods. It's not on any map, just the one he kept in his head. It's a tiny stream that you'd cross without really noticing. But it has gorgeous holes that hold brookies and rainbows. Beams of light slant down through the trees, making both the stream and the woods dark and forbidding in places. But the contrast with the sunlight sparkling off the water is so intense it made our eyes hurt.

Father was a big, tough guy, with huge square hands calloused through long hours spent in his garden. If he hadn't been a priest, I figured he would have been a farmer, a miner, or one of the hard men in the professional peleton. He was accustomed to being outside in all sorts of weather, and his face showed the effects of days spent in the sun and wind. The parish provided him with a car, but he preferred getting around town on an old Raleigh Tourist that looked like it had seen both World Wars. The bike suited him, an upright, respectable bike for a similarly upright and respectable man.

He came into Larry's Cafe now and then, though he was far from a regular. We'd sit in the back telling outrageous lies of fish landed and lost. Father told tales of unvarnished truth, a highly unusual characteristic in a fisherman. I guess it's kind of hard to tell whoppers when you work directly for the Big Guy. What's more, he immediately forgave us for some of our more blatant transgressions. After a couple of drinks he'd start telling us puns in Latin, and that indicated it was time to call a cab for the Wiz.

Father Wisniewski rolled up alongside Fred's patrol car. “I thought if you boys were going to ride out toward the old North Road, I'd go with you as far as the creek.” He rode his Raleigh with a graphite fly rod was stuck on the rack. It was an oddly jarring, modern note on an otherwise timeless bike. “I took some temperature readings in the water out there earlier today, and there should be a mayfly hatch in an hour or so. The fishing will be very, very good!” His eyes danced in anticipation and a gentle, knowing smile lit his face.

A hatch?” Wally and I said it together, all thoughts of Critical Mass forgotten.

Fred's eyes suddenly had that slightly-crazed look of a skier about to plunge over a precipice. “Would you mind some company, Father?” he asked. We were scrupulously courteous and polite when it came to spending time in that cathedral in the woods.

The Wiz said he'd be delighted with some company. Fred did a quick u-turn to fetch his gear. Wally and I jetted off for home to get our fly rods. We knew we'd catch up with Father long before he reached the creek.

The Wiz had gathered his flock, and we were going fishing!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thumpata, thumpata, thumpata...

It's an answer to a question that no one - not even the ubiquitous Dr. Walter Crankset - has asked. Now, I can sorta see the gadget potential in using your cellular phone as a bike computer by using Bluetooth as a pickup device, but is it really necessary to add motorcycle sound effects? Some of us ride simply to enjoy the relative silence of traveling on a bicycle. Making my Bianchi sound like a Harley would, frankly, be rather embarrassing, sorta like wearing my old Triumph t-shirt while riding a Yamaha. (Though, for those of you who've seen Jack Nicholson's "Five Easy Pieces", there's huge significance in that t-shirt!)

If I feel a need to generate loud, rude noises while riding, I sing. Really. Releases a Bicycle Computer Powered by a Mobile Phone with a Sound Bite

The's bicycle computer runs on a mobile device with Bluetooth for wireless connectivity to a uniquely designed sensor attached to a bicycle's wheel. One distinct safety feature of the device is a sound simulator. Cars and pedestrians often collide with cyclists because they can't hear them. Imagine, if your bicycle could sound like a Harley?

Vancouver, BC (PRWEB) April 23, 2007 --, a division of Bass Object Technologies Inc., has just released a beta version of a cycle computer application for mobile phones. The application runs on any Java enabled mobile phone with Bluetooth for wireless connectivity to a specially designed sensor attached to a bicycle's wheel.

The beta program will allow early adopters to download application from to their mobile phones and test it with a wheel sensor simulator. The first 100 users to test it on each new mobile phone will receive a wireless sensor for their bicycles as a gift.

Hybrid cars are notoriously known to tangle with pedestrians and cyclists because of their silent electrical engines. As a hybrid driver, I constantly notice people crossing the street right in front of my car without realizing that car is moving.
Bicycling is becoming a more attractive way to commute in cities when gas prices are soaring, traffic jams are inevitable, pollution and obesity is out of control. Most cyclists carry their cell phone as a dead weight. With our technology they can turn their phones into an advanced cycle computer.

The unique Bluetooth wireless sensor is designed to detect micro-motion which is not possible with traditional spoke-attached sensors. This calculates speed, acceleration and distance traveled more accurately than traditional cycle computers. The data could also be stored and uploaded to a computer for training analysis.The mobile phone is positioned on a handle bar with a specially designed mounting base. It could also be connected to a dynamo, charging your phone while riding.

One distinct safety feature of the device is a sound simulator. Cars and pedestrians often collide with cyclists on busy streets because they just can't hear an approaching bicycle. Imagine, if your bicycle could sound like a Harley? You would definitely get their attention. On average, 750 bicycling fatalities and 50,000 injuries happen in US yearly, mainly during the daytime.

The sound simulation technology allows MP3 enabled phones to play various sound themes through a mini-amplifier, attached to the phone mounting base, according to the cyclist's speed and acceleration. Current sound themes simulate motorcycle, horse and steam train. Like ringtones, users could also compose their own sound themes, expressing their creativity with a sound of motion. Riders could easily control the sound volume without taking their hands off the handle bar.

The sound simulation patent-pending technology was inspired by the founder, Vladimir Savchenko, originally for hybrid cars. "Hybrid cars are notoriously known to tangle with pedestrians and cyclists because of their silent electrical engines. As a hybrid driver, I constantly notice people crossing the street right in front of my car without realizing that car is moving." After testing our sound simulation technology on bicycles we could see it also adopted by hybrid drivers.

The final product for bicycles is scheduled to be on the market this summer.



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Saddles and Loss...

A happy cyclist
Smiling as he spins along
The grin masks his pain

Earlier this week, noted researcher Dr. Walter Crankset of the University of Southern Oklahoma extension campus in Broken Elbow announced the preliminary results of his study of the long-term effects of bicycle saddles on both men and women. He studied a diverse group of male and female subjects who had ridden bicycles extensively in their youth. Dr. Crankset was startled to discover that almost the entire group had suffered adverse effects.

Among the men, one hundred percent had ridden a bicycle at least once. Dr. Crankset found that of those men 70 and older, a high percentage had experienced loss of hearing, loss of hair, loss of attention, and had lost interest in their spouses. Many complained bitterly about the losing their television's remote control or the morning newspaper. In fact, this was a more significant problem than the loss of sexual interest in their wives.

Youthful bicycle riding was also universal among the women studied. Similarly to the men, most had lost interest in their spouses. But that was the only similarity. A high percentage had also lost their car keys or lost their husbands in a shopping mall. Unlike the men who'd lost remote controls, the women were surprisingly nonplussed about losing a husband. One said, “Well, the dog got lost for a few days but he eventually wandered home. I expect Herb can do the same!”

Dr. Crankset theorized that the bicycle saddle was responsible for all these ill effects. “It cuts off blood flow to the important parts of the human anatomy! People get so self-absorbed by the effect that they simply forget how to do other tasks like regular breathing, eating a balanced diet, or getting rid of tell-tale lipstick marks after a night out playing cards with the guys! The saddles don't cause direct, observable damage, but they produce secondary, indirect effects that can have devastating results!” Unfortunately, there's little hope of relieving the symptoms suffered by the elderly test subjects.

Dr. Crankset is developing a prototype bicycle saddle that does not cut off blood flow, thereby mitigating the danger. The saddle is expected to be available sometime early in 2008, provided it can pass rigorous safety standards proposed by the Whee, Cheatum, and Howe legal firm of Lagos, Nigeria. Meanwhile Dr. Crankset and his attorneys are looking for suitable volunteer testers willing to invest a small amount of money in an effort to make bicycle riding safer for all of us. The testers will each receive a prototype saddle – codenamed “The Big Willy” by the legal staff – along with a detailed spreadsheet to track their experiences with the new saddle design. Those interested in both pursuing this exciting line of research and investing in a product with such enormous potential are urged to contact Dr. Crankset or his attorneys in their offices in the former imperial palace in Nigeria. They accept all major credit cards, or alternatively they can work out payment plans via bank debits thanks to the generous support of a wealthy member of the royal family now engaged in international banking.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday Musette

Tulsa Little 100

OK, so this is technically Sunday, but most of the following is about yesterday. First, there's this bit from the Tulsa World about the Little 100:

By Staff Reports

Sts. Peter and Paul Middle School student John Yuan (left), 13, swaps bikes with teammate William Berntson, 12, during the Little 100 Relay Race at Webster High School on Saturday. Students who participate in the event get a chance to win free bicycles. The bike giveaway is sponsored by the Warren Foundation and St. Francis Children's Hospital.

Adam Vanderberg, owner of Lee's Bicycles, and an army of volunteers deserve a huge thank-you as recognition for their efforts on this event.

Tom's Bicycles

Also, I talked with Tom Brown yesterday. He's opening a new shop at 15th and Rockford (Cherry Street to some of you) across from Subway. Tom is very excited about it! For that matter, so am I 'cause it's tons closer to my house. I'll write more on this as it develops. The shop should be open this summer.

An Observation...

As Jordan and I drove through town on the way to Tom's, we spotted numerous people riding bicycles, probably 12 to 15 in all. And of all those folks, only ONE was riding on the road. Though to be fair, he was most likely riding on the road because he didn't have a choice. There wasn't a sidewalk. Also, he was riding one-handed because he held the handle of a push mower in the other one. I wish I had a photo of the guy towing his power mower along Mingo Road.

All the other people on bicycles were riding on the sidewalk. One of them crossed Memorial Drive in a pedestrian crossing while traffic swirled around him. Jordan watched it all in astonishment. So did I.

The city of Tulsa wants to gain bicycle friendly status. We have a long ways to go just in educating cyclists, let alone the motoring public.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007


It's springtime here in Oklahoma, and our local Wednesday night ride is spooling up for the season. Right at the outset, I have to be fair and admit that this ride has had problems with traffic congestion and other complaints, chiefly of riders being more than two abreast and the near-universal complaint that they do not stop at signals and stop signs.

A reader I'll call "Bob" emailed the following, knowing that I'm hardly a fan of the Tulsa County Sheriff's office and their dubious approach to dealing with us pesky cyclists. Of all the area law enforcement agencies I've experienced, TCSO has the least professionalism. Trust me, I'm putting that as politely as possible. Maybe I've just encountered an unrepresentative sample of their officers, because it would be reasonable to assume that a police department has roughly the same percentage of dicks as the general population. Maybe that's an unrealistic assumption.

Bob is new to road cycling. He got lost somewhere on the Wednesday night ride, found the Katy Trail, and rode back into Tulsa. He needed to get across the downtown area and back over the river to his car.

I went south of the Jail and realized that I was going to have to find my own way back to River Parks West to my car. I spotted a bicycle route sign and headed south on Guthrie Ave. There was a stoplight at the on-ramp to the IDL and I noticed that the other direction had turned yellow so I started through the intersection a little early. It turned green as I was pedaling through at 5 mph or so. While driving on Heavy Traffic Way towards the SW BLVD bridge I noticed a car inching up alongside me. I look and it is a Tulsa County Sheriff. Uh-Oh.

"Is there a problem officer?" I politely asked.

"Did you see that stop sign back there or that red light that you ran?"

"I did see the stoplight and I apologize but not a stop sign, sorry about that."

"Why didn't you stop?"

"Well, I'm trying to find my way back to the River West parking lot and I wasn't paying enough attention, sorry sir, this is my first time out on this ride and I'm lost."

"Yeah, I get that a lot. I guess they don't have stop signs or stop lights where you live." Then he really got mad... "Do you know that you are considered a vehicle and I could write you $500-$600 worth of tickets for running a stop sign, three illegal lane changes and running a red light? Did you know that your insurance will drop you, it will look just as bad as if you had a DUI on your record? I suppose if you can afford to spend thousands of dollars on a bicycle you can afford to pay $700 in traffic fines."

His face was starting to turn red as he continued to lecture me ...

"Do you know what the people who live around here call you guys? Two Wheeled Terrorists! People are afraid to let their kids play on the streets because of the danger that you guys pose when you scream along at 35 mph in packs of 40 or 50 ignoring traffic laws..."

"I'm sorry sir, I apologize, I will try to be much more mindful of all traffic laws from now on." I was being sincere, I've never been one to talk back to an officer.

"Well, you just better think about it next time before you ride on the street."

I really wanted to ask if it would be better to ride on the sidewalk but I thought better of it.

Finally I was able to continue back to my car. Wow, what an introduction to cycling on the road! I'm still not sure how my meandering along at 5mph looking for a safe route was equated to dangers packs of renegade riders. It was all I could do to keep from laughing when he told me that families near downtown are scared of cyclists rather than the drugs, violence, gangs, homicides, etc. that seem to be dominating the news in the area.

In Oklahoma, cyclists have all the rights and all the responsibilities of any other road user, regardless of their transportation mode. Bob screwed up and admitted to it, yet the deputy decided to unload on him.

"Two-wheeled terrorists", indeed. I couldn't make up this stuff! Maybe I should tell Bob that all cyclists have secret Arab names, sort of like your Indian name back in Boy Scouts. My troop had Squats-To-Pee, Running Nose, and Screams-Like-A-Girl. These were the nice ones. And no, I won't tell you what mine was.

Cyclists have names like Sheik Yer Booti (with apologies to the late Frank Zappa) or Abdul Ali Ali Oxenfree. If the sheriff's deputies realized this, it would make enforcement actions against cyclists so much easier since pig-headed bigotry against Arabs or supposed Arabs is so much more fashionable these days. Next thing you know, black helicopters will be hovering over our houses and all the phones will be bugged. Cops can go quite a ways playing the 'terrorist' card.

If cyclists are 'terrorizing' the neighborhoods, why is this the first time I've heard of it? You'd think it would be a common topic on our local email lists, yet nothing has come up that I'm aware of. People would be writing letters to the editor and complaining on the forums. They'd call the local cops, too. It could simply be hyperbole coming from an exasperated sheriff's deputy (whose Indian name may have been Turds-Of-Truth). It's not reasonable for a cop to unload on a lone cyclist for the actions of a group, but then again, how many times have we been told that the actions of an individual reflect on the rest of us? How often have we heard that cyclists shouldn't expect equal rights to use the public way until all of them stop running red lights and act like responsible citizens? This is just as sensible as saying that motorists shouldn't expect to use the roads because some of them exceed the speed limit or ignore stop signs. Which is saying that it's not sensible at all.

Regardless, if there are 'packs of 40 or 50 cyclists screaming along at 35mph' through neighborhoods, the deputy is clearly expected to do his job and put an end to such lawless activity. But again, I haven't heard of any packs of riders doing this. It sounds as if our good deputy was dumping on Bob because he was a convenient target. We get enough of that from the some of the ignorant louts in the motoring public. It's completely unprofessional coming from a member of law enforcement.

I won't indulge in the tired 'why don't they catch REAL criminals' argument, because it's only a diversion. And I won't point out motorist's careless disregard of traffic law. It's merely another diversion. No, I'd prefer that all our local law enforcement professionals and even TCSO simply enforce the law. First, of course, they have to LEARN the traffic code that pertains to bicycles, rather than attempt to use their guns and badges to 'enforce' ignorance and prejudice. Surely there's a comic book version around for some of the sheriff's deputies.

But like I said, this is just the beginning of the season. I'm wondering if we can look forward to more encounters with our semi-pro TCSO deputies.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tulsa Tough Bicycle Giveaway....

It was lunchtime. I'd just put a peanut butter cracker in my mouth when my cellphone rang.

Helloph?” I mumbled around the cracker.

Sandra was on the line. “Hello? Ed?”

I swallowed hard, dry cracker dust and peanut butter coating my throat and making my voice raspy. “Yeah, it's me.”

Sandra had just taken a call from Malcolm McCollam. Malcolm has a hundred surplus single speed bikes with coaster brakes that were donated for the Little 100. He wanted to know if we could do a kids class and give the bikes away to those kids who attended it and the kickoff for the Tulsa Tough. To receive a bike, a kid would have to attend both the class and the Tulsa Tough kickoff.

Currently, the plan is to offer two "Tulsa Tough BikeEd" classes on the last two Saturdays of May from 9:30AM to 2PM. At this time, it will most likely be held at the West Festival Park.

The Tulsa Tough will be held the weekend of June 2nd and 3rd. The Tulsa Tough is both a tour and a race, with the race being the premier event of the 2007 season. The kickoff will be a ride down Riverside Drive behind a police escort at the start on Saturday. The kid's ride will loop back to the start area.

We will need experienced cyclists willing to volunteer their time assisting with the BikeEd course. Ideally, we'd like a ratio of 5 kids to each volunteer.

League of American Bicyclists instructors will be leading this program.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Swap meets...

We need one.

There's a post on the Tulsa Craigslist right now about a swap meet this weekend. The author is looking for old bikes, and he's planning to attend a car swap over west of Sapulpa at the Creek County Fairgrounds on the 20th. I may go after work Friday.

Remember - this is a CAR swap meet. I've been to some motorcycle swaps that had a few bicycle too, but they were very unwelcome.

We need a BICYCLE swap meet on a regular basis somewhere around Tulsa.

Any ideas? Post them in comments.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Coasting is a pernicious habit...

...with apologies to Sheldon Brown who coined the phrase first.

I didn't ride all last week because of knee problems, and I thought it would be beneficial to avoid the fixed gear when I started up again. So yesterday afternoon, I worked on the Bianchi to get it ready for the morning commute. It needed new dérailleur cables and a replacement saddle. The ancient Sella San Marco Strada was falling apart. I toyed with the idea of putting a Brooks Pro on it, but the two I have are both in use on the fixed gear bikes. So I dug out an equally ancient Concour that had seen little use. It's comfortable on short hauls, but I'll reserve judgment on it's suitability for longer rides.

The morning found me frazzled and disorganized. Usually I set out my things the night before, so it's a no-brainer in the pre-dawn darkness. And I did some of that last night. But the brain was coffee deprived and it missed some things. I go through a checklist. Lights? Water bottle? Work ID? Pannier? The problem this morning was that I seldom carry a messenger bag, but I'd brought my laptop home on Friday and I needed to transport it back to work. I was almost a mile from home before I realized the error.

Fortunately, I had plenty of time. I went back to the house – to the delight of the cats, who thought they'd get a second breakfast – grabbed the messenger bag and took off again. Coasting down the hill felt odd. It was cold, for one thing, because I was riding faster than I normally do, and the speed was high enough to over-reach my little headlight. But I know where the potholes are, so it wasn't too dangerous.

The Bianchi felt odd, though. It's been out of service since September of last year. I installed a new headset over the winter and did some minor repairs. The old headset was brindled, making the steering very notchy. But after riding the Centurion fixed gear all winter, the position and handling of the Bianchi seemed foreign. This is a little bit strange since I've always thought of that bike almost as a comfortable old chair.

And it coasts!

Coasting feels weird too. The first time I did it, my legs responded with, “What are you doing!” I almost expected that sudden kick as the pedals kept trying to turn. Coasting is very strange after riding a fixed gear for six months.

I tend to mash big gears when I'm on the Bianchi, but with the recent knee problems as a reminder, I stayed in a smallish gear in order to spin easily. It felt like a slow trip to work. I didn't reset the bike computer, so I can't put any numbers to it. My main concern was avoiding further injury. I even wore a neoprene Ace bandage over my tights. It was black-on-black so I didn't commit an unforgivable fashion faux pas. Despite temperatures in the low 40s, I arrived at work with a sweaty, damp knee. Those neoprene bandages are meant to retain heat and increase circulation, so it performed as advertised. Imagine what a thin neoprene vest would do.

That left knee worked OK on the morning commute. I avoided pushing hard, as I said up above. The ride home is longer and includes nearly a mile of climbing, so I intend to take it easy. Who knows, maybe I'll even use the granny gear.

(And I did need that granny gear!)

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saturday Musette...


A couple of weeks ago as I rode along a 4-lane boulevard, there was a guy on a bike riding along the sidewalk up ahead. Now, I say 'guy on a bike' because I hesitate to call him a cyclist. His saddle was far too low, so he pedaled with his legs sticking out to the sides. I could easily hear the chain squeaking from about 50 feet away. He rode sans helmet, of course, but he did have the requisite cigarette dangling from his lip.

Maybe an un-lubricated chain on a ***Mart bike is a safety item. Whenever this guy rides along a sidewalk at night, we'll hear him coming. We won't see him because except for the glowing cigarette, he won't have any lights.

Tour de Owasso...

The weather is warming up, though it's raining here on Friday morning as I write this. Naturally, as it gets warmer the neighborhood garage sales go into action. I've watched the ads in our newspaper as the column grew. There was a lull last weekend because of Easter, but this weekend looks promising. So it's time to start up the Saturday morning 'Tour de Owasso'!

Spring is always the best time to go to the garage sales. People are cleaning out their accumulated junk, so us bargain hunters can cart it all home to add to that junk pile in our own garages. My strategy is to ride around town on my bike so I can't haul anything big. I usually go looking for old books, old tools, or old bikes. Maybe I'll find a squeaker.

Big Dog...

My neighbor has a male pit bull named Lucky. Another neighbor has a female dog in heat. Lucky squeezed out under the fence last night, crooning the canine version of “I'm In The Mood for Love”. He's a large, strong dog and he seemed completely unaffected by the lacerations inflicted from the chain link fencing. When he discovered that the female was safely out of reach, he came to our house looking for a snack.

He's an over-grown puppy at heart. His tail wags furiously at the mere sight of Mary because he knows the source of all that food. I went outside and clipped a lead onto his collar, then tried to walk him back across the street. Lucky wasn't having any of it. He wanted to be with Mary. This dog is so strong I could only hang onto the lead. I couldn't budge him. Finally, Mary walked with us to the fence. Lucky went along willingly. She opened the gate while I controlled Lucky as best I could. We got him back inside, but minutes later he was out again.

That's when Jordan noticed someone walking another dog along the street. I grabbed Lucky's collar with both hands and sat down on the driveway. I don't know how he'd react to a strange dog, and I really didn't want to find out. I was afraid that he could pull me off balance and get away if I tried to hold him by the lead. Jordan warned the dog walker off and Lucky discovered I was down on his level. He climbed onto my lap! He has very bad breath.

My biggest concern is that this dog could hurt someone simply by jumping up on them. He's big and heavy. He almost knocked Mary down in his exuberance, and he could certainly bowl a child over. Lucky isn't aggressive or mean. He's just BIG.

There's no way I could out-run a dog like Lucky if I were on my fixed gear. He's just too fast. But I have a new appreciation for the sheer power of these dogs. Lucky has dense musculature and his huge, square head is equipped with jaws that could easily break an arm or a leg.

Mary phoned earlier this morning to tell me that someone was working on the fence in an effort to keep Lucky contained. I hope it works.

Good Knee/Bad Knee...

I took the car to work all this week. I know, I know, it's a bad example for someone who's a bicycling advocate. But there's a good reason or two for it.

I tried to sprint the Centurion across traffic last week, aiming for a hole in the stream of cars. My left knee seemed to snap with a sharp stabbing pain near the kneecap. I made the turn, but when I tried to climb the hill to our house, the pain was just too great. I got off and walked.

Since I was diagnosed with pseudo-gout some years ago, I've had chronic problems with my right knee. Gout and pseudo-gout have symptoms similar to arthritis. My right knee can be swollen and painful at times, but the left one has been a rock until now. This week, the right knee was my good knee.

I've been taking ibuprofen for inflammation and I've been sleeping in sweat pants to keep my legs warm and promote circulation. I've stayed hydrated too, meaning I've been up several times during the night. Yesterday, I stopped at the pharmacy for an Ace bandage. It seems to help, because the knee is feeling better.

I think that as I get older, this body will increasingly be held together with tape, bailing wire, and wishful thinking.

And finally...

If no one bought anything...I ever did, I'd still be writing. It's beyond a compulsion.” Tennessee Williams

Boy howdy – can I relate to that! CycleDog clearly doesn't pay any of the bills, yet I don't ever want to stop writing. It truly is a form of compulsion. I think that we all yearn for some type of intellectual pursuit, a life of the mind so to speak, and writing fulfills that need for some of us.

My day-to-day life is a simple routine. I'm sure some would find it humdrum and dull. I make the rounds between work and family life, with little in the way of challenge or excitement. That's not implying that my life is unrewarding. I feel contented and serene – most of the time. CycleDog merely adds to that.


I was reading about the blogger's code of conduct earlier today in Ellen Goodman's syndicated column.

...internet gurus Tom O-reilly and Jimmy Wales proposed a Blogger Code of Conduct to encourage bloggers to voluntarily ban anonymous and abusive postings. They also introduced a second rule that might well be adopted as the Golden Rule of Civility” We won't say anything on-line that we wouldn't say in person.”

I believe that negative emotions are socially and personally destructive. A hateful person shortens his own life and disturbs the lives of those around him, the negative energy spreading like ripples on a pond. Hate and it's lesser cousins incivility and rudeness, are the antithesis of serenity. So it seemed absurd to write about that Golden Rule of Civility in conjunction with CycleDog. I write because I want to, and I attempt to influence how you think about bicycling. If your thinking changes, your behavior will change also. But I'm not going to influence many people if I'm writing hateful diatribes.

So...I'm saying here that I truly believe in being civil and reasonable when it comes to writing CycleDog. It's a two-way street. I get to retain as much contentment and serenity as I can, and you get to read columns free of personal attacks, hateful diatribes, and the other detritus.

But even more to the point, I expect that if I cross that line by posting something hateful, I fully expect that those of you reading this will call me on it.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A bit of fun...

My thanks to Kate at jeremyandkate for this! I'm a sucker for psych tests. But I suspect this one is designed primarily to lure folks into buying Mind Media products. It says only nice things, and leaves out all those voices I hear and some of the odder things I see, like UFOs and chupacabras.

The test can be found at Scroll about halfway down the page. There are 20 questions. Here's what they had to say about 'Eduardo'.

Eduardo, you possess an interesting balance of hemispheric and sensory characteristics, with a slight right-brain dominance and a slight preference for visual processing.

Since neither of these is completely centered, you lack the indecision and second-guessing associated with other patterns. You have a distinct preference for creativity and intuition with seemingly sufficient verbal skills to be able to translate in any meaningful way to yourself and others.

You tend to see things in "wholes" without surrendering the ability to attend to details. You can give them sufficient notice to be able to utitlize and incorporate them as part of an overall pattern.

In the same way, while you are active and process information simultaneously, you demonstrate a capacity for sequencing as well as reflection which allows for some "inner dialogue."

All in all, you are likely to be quite content with yourself and your style although at times it will not necessarily be appreciated by others. You have sufficient confidence to not second-guess yourself, but rather to use your critical faculties in a way that enhances, rather than limits, your creativity.

You can learn in either mode although far more efficiently within the visual mode. It is likely that in listening to conversations or lecture materials you simultaneously translate into pictures which enhance and elaborate on the meaning.

It is most likely that you will gravitate towards those endeavors which are predominantly visual but include some logic or structuring. You may either work particularly hard at cultivating your auditory skills or risk "missing out" on being able to efficiently process what you learn. Your own intuitive skills will at times interfere with your capacity to listen to others, which is something else you may need to take into account.

Monday, April 09, 2007

So there I was...

So there I was in the middle of nowhere, standing at a crossroad at midnight waiting for Old Nick to arrive. Fortunately, the middle of nowhere is conveniently close to town here in Oklahoma, and it's a pleasant bicycle ride. A local blues front man said that if I sold my soul to the devil, he'd grant my heart's desire. Now, unlike some of those guitar wailers, I didn't want to be a a talented, faultless musician capable of making a guitar cry or sing. No, I wanted to be an outstanding all-round cyclist, one who could sprint, climb, and endure suffering that would have lesser men whimpering for their mothers.

The breeze carried a whiff of sulfur. The air felt electric, almost like a thunderstorm was lurking just over the horizon. I blinked once, and he suddenly appeared in front of me. Or more correctly, his car was parked almost on my toes. It was a black, mid-size American sedan. The engine ticked quietly as it cooled. The driver's door opened.

Nothing happened for a few seconds. No one got out. The door was open, but I couldn't see anything inside that utterly dark interior. Moonlight didn't penetrate. It looked like a completely blank wall. I heard muttering and the movement of someone sliding off the seat. In the next instant, he stood before me.

I looked down at the bald spot on the top of his head. This was impossible not to notice because he was deep in conversation on his cellphone. His eyes were locked somewhere around my feet.

I don't care if he wants to make a comeback! That wasn't part of the bargain.” He noticed me standing there and held up one finger to indicate he'd only be moment longer. “Tell him he can't be Speaker again. He had his shot and Nancy's got the job now. And there's nothing he can do to sweeten the deal. I gotta go.”

Most of us think that the devil should look imposing or malevolent. This guy looked like a short, pudgy, real estate agent I'd once met, a Pillsbury dough-boy in a nice suit with a greedy, grasping heart. He had the same shiny car, the same shiny suit, and the same sign-on-the-dotted-line-and-gimme-my-money attitude. The phone rang immediately. He glanced at the caller ID and said, “Sorry. Gotta take this.”

The conversation on his end consisted of little more than “yes, sir”, “uh-huh”, and “sure” while his head bobbed up and down vigorously.

I know a yes-man when I see one. This guy was middle-management at best. I was not meeting Mr. Big.

As soon as he was off the phone, I asked, “So who are you? Why am I dealing with a minion? Isn't my soul worth more than that?”

He sighed heavily, obviously exasperated that I wasn't impressed. “You remember that congress switched sides in the fall election? There's a whole new class of congress critters and their staff to process. Then toss in all the former congressmen turned lobbyists. The presidential campaigns are ramping up too, and that's doubled our workload. We're very, very busy right now. There are so many politicians standing at crossroads in Iowa that they have to take numbers and wait in line. So what can I do for ya?”

I started to explain about being able to sprint like Cippolini, climb like Pantani, and...

He stopped me right there. “You wanna be a great cyclist?” His tone indicated complete disbelief. “You wanna ride a bicycle on the road, in traffic, and you want me to help you do that? Are you outta your mind? You could be wealthy or famous. I can get you a shot at American Idol. But no, you wanna be a great cyclist!”

He paused for an instant and gave me a hard look.

Wait a minute. I know you. You're that guy who writes CycleDog! You're one of them commuter bicyclists that gets in my way all the time.”

I tried to explain, but he cut me off.

You guys are just a bunch of troublemakers! I was on my way to a political fund raiser in San Francisco last month and a couple of you cyclists delayed me. I fell behind quota because of you!”

I didn't want to know which party was holding the fund raiser, though I had my suspicions.

He was getting more worked up by the second. “I don't know where you get off being so damned arrogant, keeping good, honest working guys like me from doing their jobs. We don't like your kind, and there's no way I'll let a troublemaker like you into Hell. We have a better class of people!”

With that, he turned toward the car and climbed in. The door closed by itself. The engine revved and in the blink of an eye, the car was gone.

He'd left me on small 'gift', however. Both my tires were flat. It was a long walk home.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Blogging - Threat or Menace?

Wow! Here I thought that I was just giving my opinion on matters related to bicycling, but all this time I've really had a secret agenda - persuading all of you that everything you read here in CycleDog is the absolute truth. I'm so relieved at finally admitting that I really have been chased by chupacabras, venomous Oklahoma snow snakes, and those blood-sucking monkeys from West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. Would I lie? Of course not!

Here's a scoop. Dick Cheney is really Ann Coulter in a fat-guy suit! It's all done with lighting and makeup. Remember, you read it here first. I never lie and I'm always right.

And by the way, the First Amendment still applies to blogging. I'm free to express my opinion, just as you're free to express your own. But just like the newspapers and electronic media, we cannot spew lies. While I'm a firm believer in "lawyers, guns, and money" all I have are the guns.

One other thing - the piece below makes the assumption that the cherished 18-49 demographic is just too damn stupid to pick out the rumors, innuendo, half-truths, and outright lies they find in various blogs. I give my readers more credit than that, but I'll stand by the Ann-Coulter-in-a-Cheney-suit story.

Our View - Reader beware of the truthfulness in blogs
Missouri Valley Times-News Editorial 07/25/2005

Blogs definitely should come with the caveat, "Let the buyer beware." In this case, the reader should beware - of anything a blogger states as fact.

Every so often someone asks us why we didn't have a story on such-and-such. "It was all over town, and so-and-so said it was true. He heard it from that other guy, who got it from his aunt, who heard it at coffee in the cafe. Councilman Doe is having an affair with that waitress!"

...They don't make the page because we don't print rumors, innuendoes, or out-and-out lies as a matter of course. That is the problem today for our mainstream media. We're now expected to practice tabloid journalism, having no respect for facts or utilizing any of the formerly normal checks and balances to avoid libel and slander. Why? In a word: blogging.

Blogging is relatively new phenomenon of the World Wide Web, a mixture of "news," personal journaling, and just plain blather, often with no regard for the truth. Blogs definitely should come with the caveat, "Let the buyer beware." In this case, the reader should beware-of anything a blogger states as fact.

...While we work within the First Amendment rights to a free press, our feet are held to the fire by libel laws and the lawyers who rightly apply them to our work. Bloggers-so far-seem to be unfettered by such considerations.

The trouble is, among the Internet crowd, i.e. the demographic we mainstreamers have the most trouble reaching (18 to 49), blogs are accepted at face value, widely read and the so-called information they spew spread as fact, whether fact, indeed, really exists.


It's a guy thing...

From Danger Room - an exploding Easter bunny! The Danger Room photo is spectacular, but the original website shows how it was done.

Fun with electricity. Oh, the joy! I have to show this to some of the tinkers at work! We're professional electronics geeks, you know, and we could build this stuff.

Here's a link to the Tesla Down Under site:

Remember that not long ago I wrote about an EMP generator that could disable most motor vehicles? These guys may be working along similar lines.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Bear with me a moment....

What follows is pretty much a grab-bag of ideas. If you get the impression that I'm conflicted regarding the San Francisco Critical Mass incident last Friday, you're absolutely right.

Phil's story...

This begins a few weeks ago, when another local bicycle commuter caught up with me on the way home. Phil is stronger and faster than me, so if I'm out ahead of him, I get to be the bunny. We work slightly different hours and it's always a matter of chance if we meet.

He had a story. It seems that some teenagers in an easily identified older pickup harassed him in town. As he described it, I realized I'd seen that truck around town too. They drove directly behind him for blocks, within a few feet of his back wheel. They stayed there as he turned and even doubled back. Phil was pissed off and stopped by the police department to make a complaint. He had the tag number and a good description of the kids. The dispatcher wrote it all down and referred the matter to an officer.

This had happened a day or two before I bumped into Phil. He wanted to stop at the PD for a follow-up, so I accompanied him. The dispatcher said she didn't have a record of the incident, and that the officer who'd handled it wouldn't be back on duty until the weekend. Phil said he'd call back.

I ran into Phil again last night and asked him how the matter was resolved. As it turned out, there wasn't any contact. The officer claimed the tag number Phil had given him was incorrect, so they were unable to find the teenagers. Nothing further was done.

Phil saw the truck again, and verified he'd had the right tag number the first time. It really appears our local officer simply wasn't interested in following up. No one was hurt or killed and there wasn't any property damage. Therefore, no crime. Probably more important matters called for his attention, like maybe a shoplifter at Wal-Mart, a lost dog, or one of those nefarious library users with a pile of overdue book charges.

Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles, and that includes being treated as any motorist would be with a similar complaint.

And in a very circuitous way, that brings me around to last week's Critical Mass ride in San Francisco. I'm in no position to assign blame, but as I understand from various reports, a woman in a minivan tried to get through a CM group and knocked down one rider. She then drove off, only to be surrounded by a mob. Some accounts say that her van sustained between $3000 and $5000 in damages. As yet, I haven't read if the cyclist she knocked down was injured or if his machine was damaged.

Without numerous, detailed eye witness reports – and eye witness reports are notoriously unreliable – I can say just one thing in defense of the driver. It's difficult and dangerous to attempt to drive through any crowd, even if you're a careful, conscientious motorist. You have to have 360 degree awareness in that situation, and it's all too easy to focus your attention in the wrong place. In other words, it's very possible she was looking in one direction while a cyclist approached from another. I'm not saying this did happen. I'm saying it could happen even to a good driver. (I read an account this morning saying that the cyclist impacted the side or back of the van, not the front. Mini-vans cannot jump sideways.)

On the other hand...

It sounds as if the CM ride turned into a mob, if the accounts of the damage to her vehicle are true. There's no excuse for destroying someone's property. If she tried to drive away – as some hit-and-run motorists undoubtedly do – she should be held accountable, just as those vigilantes who smashed up her car and terrorized her children should be. But as I pointed out up above, she could have been unaware of impacting a cyclist, making the attack on her vehicle especially vicious. Attacking a car with children inside is inexcusable.

In Oklahoma, we have a solution to that problem. It's called the 45ACP semi-automatic pistol. If I believe you are threatening my wife or kids, I will shoot you. This has nothing to do with my politics or my mode of transportation. It has nothing to do with whether you're a cyclist or not. It's a bright line that civilized, moral people do not cross.

Robert Heinlein said that an armed society is a polite society. There's a lot of truth in that, but it's a story for another time.

And on the other hand...

Is it any wonder police don't take cyclist complaints seriously? If our image in SF is that of troublemakers, law breakers, and anarchists, why would the cops care if a cyclist were injured? Why bother even taking a report, let alone following up on it. It's the same thing in a microcosm when dealing with our local cops and Phil's story. I suspect the underlying message is that he wouldn't have these problems if he'd just drive a car. Conform, Phil. Be part of the herd.

This is, of course, the time-tested method of dealing with pesky cyclists. Blame the victim.

And on the other, other hand...

If a cyclist retaliates against a bully who uses a vehicle as a weapon, suddenly ALL cyclists are violent psychopaths bent on destruction. This particular logical fallacy is highly cherished by those who hate seeing cyclists on the road, and they're nauseatingly fond of saying that ALL cyclists blow through red lights, ignore stop sign, and generally abhor traffic law. It's the basic operating principle of the Big Lie. Tell a lie long enough, and some will decide it's believable. There's no point in arguing this one, because a closed mind will never hear it.

And finally...

I offered Phil the email address for our chief of police, based on the well-known corporate theory that shit rolls downhill. I've had mostly positive results in contacting the chief of police in some local municipalities. The county sheriff, however, is a notable failure. And I've had good results by emphasizing that we prefer proactive efforts rather than reactive ones. It's easier to deal with problem cyclists and problem motorists while their infractions are fairly minor.

As I've said before, it bothers me that we just accept 42,000 traffic deaths per year without much comment. It's the equivalent of another 9/11 attack every month. We should be outraged. The problems of one cyclist being harassed by a motorist, or a lone motorist being attacked by a mob of cyclists are minuscule when compared to that large number of deaths. Yet if we're going to make a commitment to reducing that number, we have to do it one life at a time. That means respecting the rights and responsibilities of EVERY road user, none of them superior to another, and making a determined effort to get the butt heads and bozos off our roads. Being pro-bicycling is not the same as being anti-motoring. It's a critical difference.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wednesday Musette

Learn to Ride?

A few days ago, one of my co-workers stopped by to say that his wife bought a new bicycle over the weekend. From his description, I realized it was a hybrid. She's happy with the fit and the bike is comfortable, he said.

So I told him about the upcoming Road1 course in July. He wanted to know what the course involved. “We teach people to ride safely on the road,” I said, “and the course includes both classroom work and practical instruction in parking lots and on the road.” I described the instant turn and the emergency braking maneuvers.

He seemed mildly interested, sort of. “But she already knows how to ride a bike”, he replied. “Here comes a car! Get out of the way!” He went on to tell me that in any collision between a cyclist and motor vehicle, the cyclist loses. So it's 'common sense' to be afraid of riding in traffic. Somehow, I doubt his wife will appear in one of our classes.

Now, this is a guy who gets livid at any proposal that would limit his right to keep and bear arms. He'd be outraged if I suggested he's too stupid to be permitted to vote. Yet he'll readily give up his right to use that public space that belongs to all of us. Isn't that odd?

Who said that we need to take our rights out and exercise them now and then, because otherwise we lose them?

Fred Cast

My thanks to David Bernstein for mentioning CycleDog in Fred Cast 66! I'd call and thank him but I'm afraid that my gravelly, ultra-macho voice would cause too many listeners to swoon. (Mary always rolls her eyes when I write things like this. I guess it's just her way of swooning.)

Trust me, I'll probably never do any video blogs or pod casts. Like Garrison Keillor said, “I have a face that's made for radio!” In my case, though, the same can be said of my voice. I sound much better in print.

New Computer!

I purchased a new, bottom-of-the-line Compaq laptop recently. The upgrades included a larger hard drive and the Windows Vista Deluxe Home edition. Believe me, this machine is blindingly fast when compared to my old Compaq. I generally don't do much more than word processing and spreadsheets, so a basic machine fits my needs. The trouble is, once I've been exposed to all the new toys, tools, bells and whistles, I'll discover other things I may want to try. Multimedia was nearly impossible on the old computer, but it offers tantalizing possibilities on this one.

Our IT guy, Yoda, said there's a photo editing program called The Gimp, and it does many of the same things as Photoshop. Even better, it's free! So I just have to try that!

One benefit of this new machine is blindingly obvious. The speed makes finding things in documents much, much easier. For instance, I have one technical manual in a 30 megabyte pdf file. Finding a part number or a signal name can take quite a while if I leaf through the paper manual. It takes just seconds on the computer. Vista can search for both file names and text at the same time, so this will make my work easier, too.

Ah, food! Glorious food!

I read once that babies will eat a balanced diet if they're given a choice of foods. They may gorge on carrots one day, potatoes the next, and scrambled eggs the day after that. But overall they'll consume what their body needs simply by satisfying their cravings. I don't know how much validity is in this idea, but it sounds interesting.

I write about eating because I've had a constant struggle with my weight for the last 20 years. When I hit 245, it was time to take up bicycle commuting full time.

I'm wondering how food cravings relate to an adult diet. Now, it's easy to resist the truly bad ones like a rack of ribs, but the smaller ones are harder. How much is learned (habitual) and how much comes from the cellular level – presumably just those things our bodies really need? I can avoid that rack of barbecued ribs, but the little serving of ice cream is almost irresistible. The best defense at present is portion control. I have ice cream in a coffee cup rather than a bowl. It holds less. I'm having water with my meals rather than soda. Little things. Baby steps.

Mary made broccoli for dinner last night. Oddly, I've been craving veggies for the last couple of days. I've wanted a big bowl of stir-fried vegetables and rice, but broccoli is one of my favorites. It disappeared quickly.

I eat when I'm bored. I usually gain weight in the winter. I've had a life-long habit of having a snack before bed, a habit that is particularly bad and very difficult to break. Like most people, I could lose some pounds, but I don't want to suffer while doing it.

My goal is to get under 200 pounds later this year. But I won't do that with the single-minded determination that Mike Magnuson wrote about in his “Heft on Wheels”. His focus and dedication were admirable, but he admitted that he went too far, losing too much weight too fast, and jeopardized his health in the process. I did that just once and I will not repeat the experience.

It would be easy to blame all my struggles on Mary and the kids. It's so much easier to resist the siren song of a half-gallon of ice cream if there isn't any ice cream in the freezer. But with kids in the house, cookies and ice cream seem to be staples. No, my problem stems from will power, or more accurately, my lack of will power.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

High speed/low drag

Aerodynamic drag is the big limiting factor on bicycle speed. Humans can produce a limited amount of power whether they're operating aerobically or anerobically. So at a given power output, drag pretty much determines the speed. And it increases geometrically with speed, so if you double the speed, you have to quadruple the power. Obviously, drag reduction is beneficial even at relatively low speeds typical of recreational cyclists.

Drag was on my mind as I read a newspaper article about the actors in "The 300" and the workout routine they used to get that 'ripped' look. (USAToday, Monday, 2APR2007) I'm not concerned about being ripped. All those little muscle indentations cause more drag for a cyclist, so I'm concentrating on a smoother, more aerodynamic physique. Face it, a six-pack ab does next to nothing, but a slightly rounded midsection make the rider infinitessimially faster. And I'll take whatever advantage I can get even if it is infinitessimal.

Here's the 300 workout. I get sore just reading it.
25 pullups
50 deadlifts (135 pounds)
50 pushups
50 jumps (on a 24 inch box)
50 floor wipers (lying flat, the person holds a 135-pound barbell overhead, keeps legs straight and lifts them side-to-side so that feet touch each weight plate)
50 clean-and-presses (36 pound kettle bell)
25 pullups (again)

'Trainer Mike Twight says the workout was done under close supervision, and he does not recommend it for the public."

Yep, there ain't no doubt about it. I'm tons more aero than these buff guys. I think I have a big bowl of chocolate chip-cookie dough ice cream to celebrate.

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Obscure tools...

Here's my column from the Red Dirt Pedaler's newsletter "Wheel Issues".

There are many obscure tools for bicycles. For instance, I've used a Kingsbridge tool to remove stubborn bottom bracket cups once or twice. It's a brute force tool that can damage a weakened frame, but if you can't get the cup out, the frame is worthless anyway. When I've been really frustrated, I've been tempted to use the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. It can reduce the house to rubble, so I use it sparingly.

Hole water is indispensable, too. Don't confuse this with holy water. It's one of the best ways to remove seat posts, stems, or any component frozen in place by time and corrosion. It gets its name from the phrase, "What ***hole tightened this thing in the first place?" Liberal application of hole water once helped me and another mechanic remove an over-tightened stem that had bulged out the steerer tube.

Get a language converter mask. It changes the nasty blue language we use after smacking our thumbs with a hammer. Minor cursing converts to sports talk. "How's about them Cowboys?" for example, while major curses become political statements. "My fellow Americans!" is routinely heard in my own garage, and once, I even had the converter singing hymns. It burned out while we tried to remove that stem up above.

Anyone with a teenage son should have an attitude adjustment wrench. My favorite is a Campy 'peanut butter' wrench because it has a wide, flat handle. I use this most frequently for routine adjustments on my sixteen-year-old. Merely hold the wrench by the business end with the handle extending from your fist, and apply the flat side to the buttocks with a loud whack. This works wonders at adjusting the attitude of an unmotivated teenager, and often assists in getting that pesky lawnmower started.

Recently, I installed an "I brake for animals" bumper, complete with bumper sticker. This cleverly disguised device is the most effective dog-repelling gadget I've found. It's an aluminum 'bumper' that attaches to the back of a bicycle. The whole thing is insulated from the bicycle frame, and it uses a simple pickup from a van DeGraff generator to apply a huge static charge to the metal plate! When an errant dog tries to run up behind the bicycle, he encounters a startling arc of electricity! In the right atmospheric conditions, the range can be several feet. Please, do not use one of these while riding in a group.

A garage time tool - while not bicycle-specific - can provide more time in the garage. It's a virtual tool not unlike those software tools for your computer. Simply use your cellular phone and call your spouse. When she answers, ask her to bring you a beer. If you need extra garage time, call her by some other woman's name.

Gray-haired, experienced riders consult their Precision Approximation Instrument (PAI) whenever a newbie asks, "How long is this hill?" or "How far is the next rest stop?" The PAI inspects the newbie's apparent fitness, level of exhaustion, and gullibility index, and gives the experienced rider a precise estimate of the remaining distance. If the newbie is about to blow up on a long hill, the PAI will say that the summit is just around the next bend, when in fact it's so much farther he'll need oxygen before he reaches the top. A rest stop may be in the next time zone, but the PAI will tell him it's only a mile or two. I use my own PAI whenever possible, and I love the company motto: Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill!

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