Sunday, September 30, 2007

The two mile challenge...

The folks at Clif Bar have come up with an interesting, novel idea, a challenge for all of us to use our bikes for all trips under two miles. The main page notes that 40% of all urban trips are two miles or less. Think of it this way, a two mile trip is roughly 8-10 minutes on a bicycle. A car isn't substantially faster over such a short distance in an urban area.

Simply enter your address (or a nearby one if you're averse to handing out information) and it displays various locations within a 2 mile radius. Pretty slick! But I noticed it didn't include some of our more recent retail shops. Nitpicking, I know.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Can an intelligent lock outwit a dumb thief?

This is an interesting idea, but I have to wonder if there will be a problem with false triggering in a crowded bicycle parking area. Still, it's a novel idea that would have applications in other areas. A motorcyclist acquaintance thought it would work better for his Harley rather than a bicycle, and I have to agree.

Intelligent lock focuses CCTV on bicycle thieves

Story link: Intelligent lock focuses CCTV on bicycle thieves by Jan Harris

The University of Portsmouth and Winchester-based security company, SOS Response, have developed an innovative bicycle security system.

The £6,000 system was invested by Hampshire police officer Dave Fairbrother. A bicycle is locked up at a special rack, and the owner then sends a text message to a security office.

If an unauthorised person tries to steal the bicyle, a silent alarm is emitted by a motion sensor in the lock. This activates a CCTV camera which zooms in the bicycle’s location.

Security staff are alerted of the incident via an alarm, and can remotely view footage from the CCTV camera and take appropriate action. Live images from the camera will also flash up on monitors in the security office.

A three-week trial of the product has been carried out at Portsmouth University and the system is ready to go live.

Students starting Portsmouth University will be given the lock for free, in an effort to reduce bicycle thefts.

The system is expected to be adopted by educational establishments, public sector organisations and businesses.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Il Vecchio

Italian food and cycling? Pasta and Bianchi? They're natural partners!

I never had Italian food in a restaurant until I was in my twenties. Mom made her own spaghetti sauce, and while it was good, it wasn't the same as going into some hole-in-the-wall Italian place with all the usual cliches – checkered table cloths, a candle stub in an empty chianti bottle, and a hand painted map of Italy on the wall. The main focus was the food, and I loved it immediately.

Owasso has the usual assortment of pizza places. We have a couple of franchised Italian restaurants too. But there's only one of mom-and-pop variety, and that's Il Vecchio.

The menu offers various salads, spaghetti, lasagna, and several variations of panini. That may not seem to be extensive, but there are half a dozen types of lasagna, with comparable variety in the other menu categories. Trust me, you'll find something you like. We've eaten there several times. Given my weakness for Italian food, we'll eat there often. They make their own pasta and sauces. Everything is fresh.

For lunch this afternoon, Lyndsay had a grilled chicken panini and I had bruschetta with an artichoke and spinach dip. This is actually listed as an appetizer, but I made a meal of it. Lyndsay's panini was too much for her to finish, so she brought half of it home. Honestly, you could split a panini between two people with this appetizer and have a sumptuous lunch. I'll keep that in mind for the next time, although Lyndsay sampled the dip, made a face, and said, “Ugh! Spinach!” She still eats like a kid.

Since CycleDog is primarily about cycling, I have to point out that if you're contemplating a ride through Owasso with a stop at Il Vecchio for lunch, there are no convenient places to lock a bicycle outside as you can see from the photo above. But if you like Italian food, give it a try.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Re: Tulsa's Bicycle Friendly City Application...

From Patrick Fox, Multimodal Transportation Planner at INCOG:
Good Morning Bicycl(ist) Friendly Committee,

I spoke with Bill Nesper, coordinator for the Bike Friendly Program. Unfortunately, Tulsa was not selected in this round to receive a Bicycle Friendly Community Award. While this is obviously disappointing, it is uncommon for first time applicants to be selected.

They will be providing us with formal feedback within 6 weeks on why we were not selected, but he did give me some quick notes, which I'd like to pass along to you all now. Let me say this first: There were many positives with our application, mainly that we have "cornered the market in Oklahoma" on trying to be a progressive, bike friendly community. He said there is no other city even close in the State, or the region, for that matter. So we have to be proud of that. Additionally, he was
quick to point out that the league recognizes all of the progress we've made over the years, with our trails and programs, however the criteria for this program is fairly rigid, and we were deficient in a few areas.

That being said, here, briefly, is why we were not selected:

1) Lack of On-Street Accommodations for Cyclists. Translation: Shortage of properly designed, striped and marked Bike Lanes or Wide Shoulders.

Our policy here in Tulsa has revolved around expanding our Multi-Use trails, which is good, but those trails have to be complemented by a good, safe on-street system. We do have designated "Bike Routes", about 35 miles of them, BUT this is much, much different than an actual physical "accommodation". An "accommodation" is a physically separated extra place on the street for cyclists, delineated by a stripe, marking, or widened shoulder. A "Bike Route" is simply a normal street with signage that identifies it as a bike route. In the eyes of the Bike Friendly Committee, and of the national league, "accommodations" are preferred.

2) Lack of an adopted "Complete Streets" Policy. This is a new name for a policy directive that many cities are adopting, including places like Louisville, Seattle and Chicago. The short of this is: "Complete Streets" is an adopted, guiding principle to design, operate and maintain streets to promote safe and convenient access and travel for all users; pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and disabled users, as well as cars and trucks. This can be accomplished by -

A. Designing, operating and maintaining the transportation network to improve travel conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit and freight, in a manner consistent with and supportive of the surrounding community;

B. Providing where practical an array of facilities and amenities that are recognized as contributing to "Complete Streets", including: street and sidewalk lighting; pedestrian (sidewalks/crossings) and bicycle safety improvements; access
improvements for freight; access improvements in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; public transit facilities accommodation, including but not limited to pedestrian access improvement to transit stops and stations; street trees and landscaping; and street amenities; and

C. Implementing policies and procedures with the construction, reconstruction or other changes of transportation facilities on arterial streets to support the creation of "Complete Streets" including capital improvements and major maintenance, recognizing that all streets are different and in each case user needs must be balanced.

3) Lack of parking ordinance or parking facilities for bikes. Most Bike Friendly Communities have a Bike Parking Ordinance. We have parking requirements for cars, but no ordinance that requires bike parking in our development process. It's pretty simple. All public facilities should have accommodations for bikes, and a bike parking requirement can be included as part of all new commercial or mixed use development.

4) Expand Motorist and Cycling Education. This is really a statewide issue. If we could push for "sharing the road" and questions about cycling laws to be included as part of the driver licensing process, this would go a long way. Additionally, if our police officers better understood the laws that protect cyclists, and there was a designated bike liaison from the TPD, this would be good. I have spoken with
several officers that told me that very little if anything was taught to them about cycling during regular training or the academy.

5) There was some information that I was just unable to provide that might have been helpful, such as what percentage of our streets and bridges have widened shoulders that would potentially accommodate cyclists. Basically, there are about 8,800 miles of arterial roads in our community, and I couldn't get an accurate number of miles of those that have wider shoulders versus those that didn't. This is a bit of a daunting task, but I will work to figure this out.

I am looking forward to working with you all to fill the gaps listed above, and to continue to promote cycling in our community. As we get more formal feedback, I will distribute it to you all.


Patrick M. Fox
Multimodal Transportation Planner,
201 West 5th Street, Suite 600
Tulsa, OK 74103-4236

Labels: ,

A brief diversion...

(Photo Link)

One of my co-workers crashed on the MS150 ride this weekend when his front wheel dropped into an expansion joint on the road. His helmet shattered and he broke two ribs. An ambulance arrived to transport him to the local hospital, and while they loaded him aboard, another cyclist crashed in the same spot.

This type of fall, where the front wheel gets trapped or suddenly thrown to one side, is commonly called a diversion fall. Anything that causes the front tire to lose adhesion can bring about an unexpected, very sudden crash. The contact patch under the tire is roughly the size of a thumb print. It does about 2/3 of the braking and provides all directional control.

Besides the obvious hazards of wheel-trapping drain grates, we have to be wary of railroad tracks, streetcar tracks, pavement cracks or expansion joints parallel to our direction of travel, patches of oil or diesel fuel, sand, gravel, leaves, and manhole covers. Rain increases the hazard because it reduces traction.

I wish I could tell you there's a technique to recover from an incipient diversion fall, but the best recommendation is to be attentive and avoid getting your wheel trapped in the first place. Yeah, that sounds good. It's not a universal solution, and even for those of us commuting on the same roads day after day, it doesn't always work. And when we're riding a new, strange road, paying attention is even more critical.

It's certainly true we can be too complacent. I'm thinking about a near-tumble a few months ago. In the pre-dawn darkness, I was maneuvering left across two lanes of traffic onto a dedicated left turn lane. I'd done this hundreds of times, but that morning as I went from the left-most travel lane into the dedicated turn lane, my front tire dropped into a deep expansion joint. It stuck for only an instant, but in that instant my heart rate went way, way up! I was very fortunate not to crash as there was motor vehicle traffic to my right. I stopped under a street light to inspect the sidewalls for damage because a crevice or expansion joint can cut the side of the tire.

But as I said, I'd been through there hundreds of times without any problems. I assumed that the road surface was the same every day and that I rode on the same space every day. Big mistake.

Likewise, when I turn south onto Mingo Road from 76th Street, I've learned to expect something unusual. There's a streetlight on the north side of 76th, but it doesn't illuminate the downhill turn onto Mingo very well. Sometimes there's debris strewn across the lane and I can't see it. I hear it crunching under my wheels. The best way to avoid a fall there is to be sure I'm not turning when I hit a patch of sand or gravel. Turn, straighten up across the sand, then turn again.

So let's be careful out there. Pay attention to the road surface in front of you, especially if you're riding somewhere new and different, and don't fall into the trap of complacency on the routes you know like your own living room.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sue Knaup given the boot!

(Not a recent photo)

Sue Knaup Leaving Thunderhead

PRESCOTT, AZ (BRAIN)-Thunderhead Alliance's board of directors has decided to part ways with executive director Sue Knaup.

"The board informed me on August 31 that they plan to take Thunderhead in a new direction that does not include me," Knaup said. "In spite of all my efforts, the board is set on their new plan and direction."

She added, "In a strange way I am uplifted as I look ahead to my next role for bicycling and walking, transit and social equity. I plan to launch a new international
organization that will hold at its core the principle of respect and kindness for leaders of advocacy organizations and carry on the capacity building efforts I held so dear at Thunderhead."

Sue Knaup called me an "enemy of cycling." And yes, I took it personally. But here's hoping she can find a new job...that is...if there's anyone willing to hire her. I received neither 'respect nor kindness' from her and some of her sycophants, so I have no sympathy for her ignominious sacking. Getting kicked to the curb was too kind.

Also, let's hope that Thunderhead's new direction includes something other than the 'build it and they will come' variety of paint-and-pave they've espoused up to now. Some diverse viewpoints would be welcome too, but I won't hold my breath.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A comment on an older post...

(Image from David Byrne)

In a response to - Is Tulsa Bicycle Friendly? - which appeared here on May 15th, Natalie wrote the following:

Bikes belong on the road... Pedestrians have the right of way, but unfortunately, bikers forget that fact. Hence, kick them the hell off of the paths where they don't belong anyway. My kids are terrified of bikes because of the way the "racers" force everyone to move out of their way on the paths. New ordinance: No bikes on paths... PERIOD! Pedestrians are tired of being harassed!

(Image from Fyxomatosis)

Bikes belong on the road. I couldn't agree more. But as for prohibiting them from using paths, I have to disagree. Far too many cyclists are terrified of riding on the road. They prefer the presumed safety of a separated side path, and in some municipalities, they are legally obligated to use such a sidepath when it is adjacent to the road. Tulsa did away with this restriction some time ago. Good riddance.

Sidepaths provide the illusion of safety, but as pedestrians and cyclists mix, the probability of a crash increases. That's why anyone with an interest in going fast, training at high speed,or riding in a pack, will avoid riding on a multi-use path. One of the most popular in Tulsa is the River Park trail system which isn't really suitable for speed due to its many curves and elevation changes. It's difficult to judge which side of the trail an oncoming cyclist or pedestrian is on, and the gravel running track on one side makes that judgment even more problematic. Furthermore, the present trail is actually too narrow by current design standards.

That will change soon when the River Park Authority constructs a new trail parallel to the existing one. Users will be segregated - cyclists on one trail and pedestrians on the other. Will this eliminate conflicts? No, because the clueless will be with us always. Peds will walk on the bike trail and cyclists will ride on the pedestrian one. Unless we can find a means of performing some fundamental change on human nature, the conflicts will continue.

I attended a meeting with the River Park folks some years ago. The biggest area of conflict was near the Full Moon Cafe, because it had the greatest usage. Their temporary solution was to paint lines on the trail and put up some speed limit signs.

Even my son, who was about thirteen at the time, noted that the River Trail isn't a place to go fast. And this from a kid who had only two speeds - stopped and full speed ahead. Why is it difficult for an adult to comprehend?

I get very nervous when overtaking pedestrians, especially children. They can change speed or direction in a single step. Skaters, with their side-to-side motion, can be difficult to pass too. And I think there should be a special place in Hell reserved for those people walking their dogs on 25-foot retractable leashes. The dogs get a pass. The owners, no.

Now, I may get all maudlin for a moment. Natalie would gladly prohibit cyclists from pedestrian trails. Motorists would gladly prohibit us from the public roads. Hmm...I'm feeling distinctly unwanted. If I weren't such a steely-eyed macho kinda guy, I may shed a tear or two and get all weepy. I hate that. So let's re-visit that first statement - bikes belong on the road.

Bicyclists really do belong on the road. We have just as much right as anyone else on the public way. Note that I said just as much, as in equal, not more and not less. For that matter, since a sidepath is also a public way, we have an equal right to use it, provided we share it safely with other trail users.

Labels: ,

Assault in Milwaukee

(Image from Gun Graphics)

Fritz wrote to me about this incident in Milwaukee in which a cyclist shot three times at a motorist, hitting him once.

I saw this story yesterday, and I thought about doing a post on it. But there are too many unanswered questions. The motorist comes across as an unsuspecting victim, just a guy driving along who may have innocently knocked a cyclist down. When he got out to check on the guy, the downed cyclist pulled a gun and started shooting.

In an alternate scenario - entirely imaginary on my part - the motorist blares his horn at the pesky cyclist slowing him down. They shout at each other. The cyclist is Hispanic, so there's a possibility of some racial overtones. The motorist decides to 'teach him a lesson' by passing very close, but miscalculates and knocks the cyclist down. The cyclist sees the guy get out of the car, presumably to continue the assault, pulls a pistol and defends himself. Having had previous dealings with the police and knowing of their perceived bias against both cyclists and Hispanics, he decides to avoid further legal entanglements, knowing that if they don't show up on his doorstep in a day or two, he's home free.

Any of us can imagine that scenario. It's depressingly common for cyclists to be harassed by motorists, and it's just as common to have our complaints dismissed by the police. After all, if an officer didn't actually witness the incident, it never really happened. It's equally common to encounter drunk or drugged people on our streets, some of them motorists, some pedestrians, and some cyclists.

When you carry a legal concealed handgun, as I did for some years back in Pennsylvania, it weighs much more than 30 ounces of steel. As my shooting instructor said, "All the Rambo bull shit goes away." It's a huge responsibility and it's not taken lightly. Someone who has never confronted that reality said that if he were carrying, "Wait in line? Hell no! I've got a gun!" The bluster and bravado evaporates when you have that weight in your pocket.

That doesn't explain or excuse the cyclist in Milwaukee, of course, because there are other possibilities. He could be an ordinary guy with a case of road rage. If you search the news, you find numerous instances every day. It's far too common. Another possibility involves drugs or alcohol and the lowered inhibitions that accompany them. Guns and booze are always a dangerous combination.

It will be interesting to see how this story resolves. Like I said, unless the police have a suspect within a few days, chances are the incident will be pushed aside by more pressing ones.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Egad! They're EVERYWHERE!

I wouldn't dream of using the seal above without the Bike Snob's permission. Nor would I steal his thunder regarding various misshapen fixed gear bikes and the hipsters who ride them. Honestly, he does it far better than me!

It grieves me to encounter nice old bikes that have been neglected so badly they're no longer usable. It annoys me when someone asks a high price for some old bike, maybe thinking that simply because it's old, it's valuable. A perfect example was the rusty old Schwinn Varsity that someone at work wanted to palm off on an unsuspecting co-worker. He had the nerve to ask $10 less than the bike sold for in 1976! And this one 'only' needed new tires. a new drivetrain, a new saddle, and a complete overhaul to make it rideable again.

So when I stumbled across this listing, I just had to do something with it. Names and email addresses have been redacted to protect the innocent. The owner says the bike has been 'happily camped out for a few years' and that may be true if your idea of camping is someplace like Camp Lejeune.

I have for sale a very nice Centurion Elite 10 speed bike. 27" tires.
IT NEEDS NEW TIRES ! It has been happily camped out in the garage for a few years.. I cleaned it off but not thoroughly.
Gears, Derailers, Chain, Brakes, etc are all in great shape. Rims are not bent. it has the skinny racing tires on it and the rubber is SHOT.. I was given the bike with those tires and have intended to replace them.. seat is good.. Frame is good, its Blue.. Decal has a few spots that have come off..
this is to be a Cash only, local sale..
call, leave a message...

new Tires and Tubes will be around $50.


Friday, September 21, 2007

My thoughts on the Landis case...

OK, everyone knows the Landis decision has been released. According to the panel, he was guilty of doping during the 2006 Tour de France. I wrote some time ago that I believed they'd find him guilty. This is not an I-told-you-so because I was hoping to be proved wrong. The lab committed grave errors and the panel recognized that. But I won't cover the same ground Radio Freddy did in Belgium Knee Warmers. Please read his post.

Anyone who's seen a police procedural like 'Law and Order' or 'CSI' knows that the standards of evidence in a criminal prosecution are quite strict. In the Landis case, the standards were much less stringent. In fact, had he been tried in a court of law, the case would most likely have been dismissed.

And, that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I'm proposing. The testing standards and chain of custody should be as strict as those in any court of law, if only to protect the integrity of the testing process, the defendant's rights, and our wavering faith in the anti-doping process. And to enforce that high standard, any athlete should have recourse to the court system in any doping controversy. If the anti-doping agencies have the power to ruin an athlete's reputation and destroy him financially, that athlete should have the right to bring charges against the agency, in effect, forcing them to act within the law. WADA has quasi-legal authority now because in order to participate in his sport, a professional athlete must submit to their testing regimen. The balance of power is too heavily weighted to the prosecution side.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This just in...


Tour de France - Landis verdict expected in days

Eurosport - Mon, 17 Sep 15:04:00 2007

Floyd Landis' doping verdict will be handed down within seven days after the panel judging the embattled 2006 Tour de France winner finished deliberating last week.

CYCLING 2007 Landis - 0

"The arbitration panel ended its deliberations three days ago. They have 10 days to announce it so the decision will be known by next Monday at the latest," said Kelly Power, a representative for Landis' legal team.

Landis, who claimed a come-from-behind victory in last year's Grand Boucle thanks to a stunning solo stage win in the Alps, tested positive for excessive levels of testosterone during his stage 17 triumph.

Tour de France organisers have already disavowed him as champion, but if the US arbitration panel concludes that he is guilty the American would face a possible two-year suspension and would likely become the first winner to be stripped of his yellow jersey.

The September 23 deadline for the panel to air its ruling comes after it officially closed the hearing record on Thursday, nearly four months after the three-member panel heard evidence in a nine-day hearing.

Landis, who testified in the May hearing, has claimed that his test samples were mislabelled by the Châtenay-Mal French laboratory.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which is seeking the guilty verdict, has never lost a case on appeal.

Whichever side loses the case is likely to offer a further appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


Some good reading...

There are two blogs of note with some cycling content you should be read. The first is Orcinus, a left-of-center site that offers some good reading. Today, there's a post about cycling and while it's straightforward, the comments are more interesting.

I love this quote:
"Well, at least we've debunked one tired liberal nostrum: turns out that education doesn't work -- at least, not for the anti-bicycle crowd posting here today."

Orcinus links to this Seattle Post-Intelligencer comment site, and to

Now, I know that some of you over toward the Republican end of the political spectrum, like Fritz and Kiril, won't find much to your liking on these sites. But go ahead and read the comments! It should give us writing fodder for weeks!

Meanwhile, I'm mining the Thunderhead Alliance Benchmark report for good information and statistics, if only as a way to refute some of this tiresome 'cyclists don't pay their fair share' bullshit.

Now get out of there! Go read this stuff!


We ride by night...

Mary and I were in Claremore, Oklahoma for a junior varsity football game last night. Owasso won the 7 to 6 game. We watched as Claremore's center, who outweighed our linebacker son by 40 pounds or more, repeatedly stuffed him into the ground. Momma's heart was in her throat every time. Jordan finally managed to spin the center around and slam him onto the grass. He was pleased about that.

But CycleDog isn't about football, of course, so there has to be some kind of cycling tie in.

We saw some cyclists as we drove west going home. The first one was along Lynn Riggs Boulevard in Claremore, a four lane arterial with businesses on both sides. An eastbound cyclist was on the sidewalk. It was just after dark and I immediately noticed the white flashing light on the front of his bike. After I passed, I could see his red tail light flashing too. All in all, he was well lit and very conspicuous. But he was on the sidewalk crossing all those curb cuts – a dangerous situation.

The second rider was going east on SH20 approaching a notoriously bad intersection. He was a 'stealth' rider – no lights or reflectors, and he wore dark clothing. I only noticed him due to the lights from a parking lot along the road. The intersection he was approaching has a tight bend where SH20 turns north. Traffic enters from a side street on the bend too. Sight lines aren't very good. The intersection has numerous crashes. For an unlit cyclist in the dark, it would be extremely hazardous.

Finally, as we continued west toward home on a county road, I spotted a pair of pedal reflectors going up and down. This was another stealth cyclist, riding along on a dark rural road with only pedal reflectors for safety. He too was going the other way. Honestly, I didn't see the cyclist until we were almost alongside him, and just like the one on SH20, he wore dark clothing.

Wow!” I said to Mary, “Did you see that guy?”

What guy?” she asked. She really hadn't seen him.

I know more people are turning to bicycles for exercise, recreation, and basic transportation, and quite frankly I was surprised to see three cyclists in one evening. Normally, weeks can go by before I see a cyclist on the road in daylight so encountering one at night is extremely rare. Yet I saw three, and all of them were doing something that just about made my hair stand on end.

If you're going to ride at night, equip your bicycle with lights and reflectors according to the vehicle code in your area. The minimum standard seems to be a white front light and a red rear reflector. Oklahoma requires a red rear light in addition to the reflector. Also, only emergency vehicles can legally use flashing lights here, but I've never heard of anyone being stopped and ticketed for violating that law. I normally use the flashing mode for my tail light, and one flashing and one steady up front. Yes, I'm a belt AND suspenders kinda guy. Also, it's a good idea to equip your bike with a DOT specification amber rear reflector as well as a red one. Amber is much more conspicuous in rain or fog, and the DOT reflectors are much brighter than the CPSC specified ones that came with your bike.

One last word about the humble pedal reflector. The up and down motion instantly identifies a cyclist on the road. But most clipless pedals can't be fitted with pedal reflectors, so use some reflective tape on the crank arms instead. It's not as bright as a reflector, but it helps. Some cycling shoes have reflective panels in the heels and some have a hard plastic heel where you can attach a strip of reflective tape. It doesn't have to be big because our eyes are more sensitive to movement at night. Helmets are good spots for reflective tape too, because as we move our heads from side to side, the movement is very apparent to an overtaking motorist.

Even if you're not planning to ride at night, put some sort of reflector on the rear of your bike and toss a small headlight in your seatbag or wherever you keep a spare tube. You may set out for a ride and have a flat or some other mechanical problem that will delay your return until after sunset. Any light, even a small one, will make you much more conspicuous and less likely to have a crash. A small AAA Maglite and a thick rubber band makes a good improvised headlight and it doesn't weigh much or take up too much space. Remember to do the old backpacker's trick of reversing one of the batteries. Then if the switch is turned on accidentally, the batteries won't discharge.


Labels: ,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Kids, don't do this at home!

(Image from Boing Boing)
We all know that recumbent riders tend to bit different. And of course, I can understand the appeal of riding a bicycle while wearing Bermuda shorts with those cooling breezes drifting up the legs and....well...never mind.

However, I would draw the line at riding around in blue long johns and a codpiece! A man has to maintain some standards, even if he routinely leaves the house in cycling shorts and a jersey.

These examples are from Europe, where apparently they were available in size Medium only. If they caught on as fashion accessories in modern times, we'd need much larger ones.

While it may be possible to ride a recumbent while wearing something outlandish, is it really a good idea? Tomorrow, daytime high temperatures here in Oklahoma are supposed to go into the 90s again, and a suit like that above, even in stylish white, would be little more than an oven.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Local News: The River Tax (OT)

Tulsa county voters are being asked to fund a major renovation along the Arkansas River, a project that will give the city of Tulsa a truly jewel-like river park. The proposal will cost $280 million and taxpayers will vote on raising the county-wide sales tax to 8.917% from 8.517%. We pay sales tax on every purchase, including food.

Locally, Owasso taxpayers are being asked to vote an increase in the millage rate (real estate tax) to raise $45 million for a new elementary school.

Given the choice, which is a better use of my tax money? Let's more tax monies to benefit the community I live in, or pay more tax monies to benefit a narrow corridor in Tulsa? That's an easy one.

Honestly, I do think the River Parks can be developed further into a world-class park facility. But since the benefits accrue to Tulsa businesses and property owners, they should pay for it themselves. Building a wonderful park system 15 or 20 miles away from Owasso will not have any positive impact for outlying taxpayers. Tulsa gets the benefits and we get to pay for them.

Would Tulsa taxpayers consider paying for parks here in Owasso? Or Collinsville or Broken Arrow? Of course not!

Some of the arguments in favor of the proposition have been downright silly. The latest was in today's newspaper, arguing that building a new park will attract droves of young people to area businesses, and these new folks will contribute so much money to the economy that the city will be able to rebuild our crumbling roads and road infrastructure. These people must have attended that same voodoo economic course as the Reagan administration.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm not opposed to paying taxes when the money goes to something that provides real, tangible benefits. But when faced with a stark choice - a local school or a distant park - the right choice is very clear.

Labels: , ,

Saddle Sore of the Month...

Yes, I know I haven't done a saddle sore post for quite awhile. But this one just about jumped out at me. You can't make up stuff like this! If you follow the link and read the comments, you'll discover that coaches get a pass when it comes to injuring someone, especially if they have an important dinner waiting. Maybe there should be a sliding scale of justice. Coaches and star players are exempt from charges. Mid-level players receive a painful slap on the wrist that will leave a nasty bruise. JV players are happily fed to the wolves.

By World's Editorial Writers

Muskogee football coach doesn't get it

The head football coach at Muskogee High School doesn't seem to understand why so many people are so upset simply because he collided with a 7-year-old bicycle rider and then went to a football dinner.

Well, coach, here are a few reasons:

  • Leaving the scene of an injury accident;

  • Failing to call 911 for assistance;

  • Moving an injured child without expert medical help.

There are other reasons, but those will do for now.

Coach Matt Hennesy reportedly was leaving Indian Bowl Stadium in Muskogee where his team plays, when the boy, Chase Thornton, evidently rode his bike between two cars and into the path of Hennesy's vehicle.

It was an accident that could happen to anyone. The difference, however, is most people would have called for emergency help and waited until help and the police arrived.

Hennesy said that he called the boy's father and had one of his players carry the child to a nearby training room. The boy was left with an athletic trainer and another adult.

Then, Hennesy went on to a team
dinner. Well, we certainly wouldn't want the injuries of a 7-year-old to get in the way of a team dinner.

Police were finally notified when the boy arrived at Muskogee Regional Medical Center where it was discovered that he had a broken collarbone, a knot on his head and road rash on a leg and shoulder.

The coach later told the Muskogee Phoenix newspaper: "I ought to be dealing with tomorrow night's game not this crap. I was leaving the stadium when this kid ran into the front of my car."

Hennesy said that he wasn't required to call police or file a report. "I'm not going to file a report against a little kid, even though my car was damaged," he said. "It was the kid's fault."

The only people we feel sorry for in this mess are the players on the Muskogee team, the students, teachers and administrators of Muskogee High, all of the decent, caring coaches in the state and, of course, young Chase and his family.

Poor Coach Hennesy, having to deal with such "crap" on the week of a big football game. What in the world was this guy thinking?

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just don't call me Stumpy...

(Image from

The wind swung around to the north and daytime temperatures dropped nearly 20 degrees. Welcome to fall in Oklahoma.

Our lawn is growing again due to the weekend rain. Before I could mow, I needed to rake up the pine needles otherwise they'd just clog the mower. In another month, the maple tree will shed its leaves too, so I'll be out in the yard raking every week. The oak leaves won't drop until spring, giving our winter bird population a nicely protected roost through the winter. I almost like raking up pine needles and leaves on a cool fall day. It offers some quiet time for contemplation and the cooler temperatures make the work seem easier. Perhaps it's not surprising that I enjoy cycling in cooler weather too. Besides, the dogs like a pile of fresh pine needles as bedding in their dog house once it gets cold. The tree gives us an ample supply. This works out well for all of us. They get bedding. I get exercise and some time to think.

Every time I do this, I run into another 'while you're at it' job, and last night was no exception. Once the pine needles were finished, I went to the back yard to collect a fallen branch from a neighbor's willow tree. One of our shrubs dropped a branch too. I needed the pole saw to cut them. And I remembered that the last time I mowed, I had to duck under some of the willow's branches, so I used the pole saw to remove them. I dragged the branches to the front yard, and then set to work cutting them small enough to fit in the lawn waste can. The city collects the lawn waste for composting and mulching, saving on landfill space.

Loppers cut through the small branches easily, but the bigger stuff required a chainsaw. I have a great deal of respect for chainsaws or any other tool capable of removing an arm or a leg in a moment of inattention. Mary makes fun of me, saying that I'm halfway afraid of it. She's right. I am. Chainsaws do not discriminate between tree limbs and our limbs. And while she makes fun of me, she's still careful to stay well away when I'm using it.

All that bending, lifting, and dragging made me hurt. All too quickly I was dog tired, even though it wasn't all that much work. I'd been at it for only an hour but it was time to quit. The mowing could wait.

I went inside and had a glass of water, two ibuprofen, and a shower. Then we went to the grocery for dinner supplies and we collected Jordan from football practice. From long experience, I had the foresight to stop at the liquor store on the way home. A shot or two of vodka is nature's own muscle relaxant. The bottle went directly into the freezer when we got home.

I read for a while as my legs slowly stiffened. By bedtime I was getting up and down with some difficulty. My shoulder and neck were painful, so I had that shot of vodka and rubbed on a generous layer of Icy Hot. Mary says it's a good indicator that I'm hurting when she opens the bedroom door and walks into an all-but-solid cloud of menthol fumes. By morning, I had wooden legs. The alarm went off and I hobbled across the room like an elderly version of Frankenstein's monster. My knees and back would not straighten out, so I shuffled along stiff-legged while being bent over like a little old man.

The question was – could I ride to work? Did I even want to try?

I postponed answering that one until after breakfast. The cats clamored for their's first, as usual. I checked the overnight email, read the news, and got a weather report. For the first hour in the morning, I'm on autopilot, so it wasn't too surprising when I found myself changing into cycling clothes. Yep, looked like I was gonna ride!

The commute was uneventful with calm winds and a temperature in the high 50s. Sure, I was stiff at first, but a few miles of gentle spinning helped sort out the kinks. By mid-day, some aches and pains had crept back into my muscles, but overall I felt good. A bicycle as therapy? Who would have thought?

Tonight I'll mow the lawn. That'll be easy compared to last night. However, I may have to invent a few sore muscles in order to have some of that vodka again.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nominated for an Okie Blog Award!

2007 Okie Blog Awards Voting Now Open

The Okie Blog Awards celebrates its third year in recognizing and honoring the excellence of diversity by bloggers within Oklahoma through popular nominating and voting. The awards were established by, and are decided by and for, Oklahoma bloggers exclusively.

CycleDog has been nominated for Best Culture Blog. But I'll freely admit I know almost nothin' about culture, except for the kind that grows on stuff left in the refrigerator too long.

Seriously, though, I'm honored to merely be nominated. My thanks to whoever is responsible, 'cause I certainly don't know who did it.

Locally, we're discussing improving bicycle culture here in the Tulsa area. But those talks are on-going and more properly should be in another, longer post sometime soon.

Now, I just got in from my afternoon commute. Mother and daughter are wrinkling their noses whenever I'm nearby. I'll take the hint and go get a shower.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 10, 2007

Review: Prodigal Child by E. David Moulton

(For Dave, I offer my apologies at taking so long to get this out. The hardest part was organizing the piece into something coherent. When you consider that I have a mind full of useless mush, you'll understand my usual state of chaos.)

Prodigal Child

E. David Moulton



ISBN 0-9726693-4-5

prodigal adj. 1. Recklessly wasteful, extravagant. 2. Profuse in giving, exceedingly abundant. 3. Profuse, lavish....The American Heritage Dictionary

I think we can all claim to have been prodigal children once or twice. We learn that decisions have consequences and that bad decisions almost inevitably have bad consequences. Marry in haste, repent at leisure, paraphrasing William Congreve.

Dave Moulton's “Prodigal Child” is a tale of cycles, from bust to boom to bust once again. Perhaps it should be expected that a cyclist like Moulton would think in such terms, with life going from low point to high point and back to low point again. Or perhaps it's the same as the birth-growth-death-rebirth cycle so prominent in religious thought, where death can be literal or figurative. Regardless, we all go through similar changes, if not on the epic scale of his protagonist, Eddie Connor.

Eddie Connor's story starts in the middle of the Second World War. He was a boy in a working class family when his father went away to fight. His brother joined the RAF and disappeared over the Channel. We refer to those men as the Greatest Generation now, but for little Eddie, his father was more a nightmarish figure than a hero. Still the war shaped his childhood. His abusive father shaped his psyche. Like Eddie, we all try to overcome our childhood, and if we're very lucky, we learn to forgive our parent's mistakes and weaknesses. Eddie had much to overcome, and like many children, he inadvertently began to follow the same dysfunctional path as his father before him. He found that bad decisions bring bad consequences in their wake. But he learned from his past rather than allow himself to be a prisoner of it, and made a conscious decision to break away into a new life. He found purpose and direction in art.

When I was painting I was lost; I had no thoughts...I drew from something deep inside and the brush in my hand followed. Sometimes I would start painting with no clear idea of where I was going and after several hours a picture and an idea would emerge. Some of my best work was created this way”

When the creative process was flowing the time would just fly by and I would often look at the clock to find it was ten or eleven o'clock at night, sometimes midnight.”

Like many creative people, Eddie was happiest when he did the worked with his hands, whether it was a guitar, a paintbrush, or a sculpture. That same creativity flowed through it all, springing from one source deep inside him. He described music as having structure and form, while sculpture had rhythm and melody. Ultimately, the cycles of boom and bust, joy and sorrow, lead him to the great metaphysical questions of human life. Why are we here? Does life have a purpose? The resolution was vaguely unsatisfying, because Eddie revealed he hadn't really learned from it. Instead, he seemed to plunge back into the same endless repetition. Perhaps this is the point – we cannot fully break with the past and we're doomed to repeat it one way or another. In Eddie's case, it seems the cycles diminish as time passes, becoming ever fainter echoes.

Finally, I need to point out that I found a dead gnat squashed inside the front cover. I've named him Herbert. It's unlikely he experienced anything similar to Eddie's angst, since the cycle for an insect consists of birth, feeding, procreation, and then death. There's much to be said for leading a simple life, of course, but not necessarily one that simple.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Current reading list...

I see a lot of blogs that have a header announcing what music the writer is currently listening to, and I gave a few seconds thought to including something similar here. But most of the time I'm listening to blues or jazz over the local cable net, rather than something specific. I like the diversity.

So, I thought it might be fun to include an occasional reading list. Books take far longer to read, giving the list a longer life span.

Here's the current stack:

Prodigal Child by E. David Moulton. Yes, that David Moulton! I'll have a post about this soon, because although I've finished reading the book, I need to go through it again before finishing the piece. And as is all too common, I've been procrastinating.

Aftermath - The Remnants of War by Donovan Webster. I've been reading about WW1 and listening to various history-related podcasts revolving around the Great War. Webster's book details some of the areas that are still cordoned off due to the enormous amounts of live ammunition littering the ground. The war that ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1919 is still killing people in France.

Invasion of the Party Snatchers by Victor Gold. "How the holy-rollers and neo-cons destroyed the GOP." For those of us left-of-center politically, this one is full of wonderful quotes.

Armed and Dangerous: The hunt for one of America's most wanted criminals by William Queen and Douglas Century. When one author's name is in larger print than the other, if fairly screams 'ghostwriter'. I haven't started this one yet.

Atlas of World Military History edited by William Brooks. Naturally, this isn't a book to read cover to cover. I'm using it for reference to events before, during, and after WW1. Fascinating stuff and wonderful illustrations.

Oh, there was a mystery that I breezed through in a couple of evenings. And there was a sci-fi book in the stack too, until I read the bit about how the long war had rid Earth of aliens with tentacles growing from their heads, leaving it to only true humans. Of course, they discovered that disguised aliens were living among them, leading to heavy-handed searches for them, while those 'assimilated' aliens knew the real danger was posed by aliens without tentacles. At that point, I decided the whole thing was just too damned silly.

Regardless, it's still a better use of my time than that glowing idiot box over in the corner.


What to do with cyclists...

Here's another of those "I ride a bicycle too, but...." posts. The assumption behind this one is that we're out on the roads strictly for exercise and recreation. It not as if we actually have to go somewhere like work or school or something as 'important' as any motorist's destination. Nope, we're clogging the roads and slowing traffic because we're arrogant and rude. We're fetishists who break every traffic rule and every fashion rule. Who knew? Well, I didn't but then again, I didn't know that fashion had rules - and I wouldn't care anyway. Plaids with stripes? No problem!


So the 'solution' is to get all of us onto indoor trainers, pedaling furiously like a bunch of hamsters in Lycra. Then the roads will be uncongested. Motorists will be released from their cyclist imposed bondage and be free to travel unimpeded at sub-orbital velocities. All will be well and good with the Earth, and a veritable motoring utopia will descend upon us. Well...except for all those other motorists clogging up the roads. Maybe they can be persuaded or dragooned into sitting in front of a television playing Gran Turismo over and over. Then driving will be nirvana. Except for all those buses and large trucks. Maybe we can restrict them to only operating at night, say, between midnight and 5AM. Yeah, that would do it! But then there's all those pedestrians to consider too. Hell, just round them up and put them in camps.

See, there is an amicable solution to every problem, provided you're the one doing the solving.

What to do with cyclists

Finally, here’s a way to get cyclists off our roads:

With the Ergo Bike Premium 8i from Germany’s Daum Electronics, riders from around the world compete against each other over virtual versions of some of the sport’s storied race courses.

Let them race in cyberspace! Brilliant. Now why didn’t I think of that?

Before I get flamed or threatened or hacked, I should point out that I come from a cycling country. I own a bicycle, and I grew up cycling everywhere. I agree that cyclists aren’t adequately catered for on our roads, and motorists aren’t sufficiently attentive to cyclists. The likelihood of Johannesburg getting decent cycling infrastructure any time soon is remote, which is a shame.

That said, I once dared to complain about the arrogance with which cyclists take over our roads and shut down our cities for their own amusement. My rant was sarcastically caustic, and some idiot thought it would be a good idea to forward the e-mail to every cycling forum in the country.

...Now, finally, technology offers a way in which cyclists can indulge their fetish in the privacy of their own homes or gardens. They won’t have to put their lives at risk and spew filth at motorists for every tragic accident. They won’t have to break half the traffic laws and every fashion rule in the book. They won’t have to trample the rights of tax-paying citizens of the cities whose roads they hijack for their own amusement. They get to cycle wherever and whenever they want. And the rest of us will be spared their testosterone-fuelled aggression and sanctimonious condescension.

See? There’s an amicable solution to every problem.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My new sexual orientation...

It's common knowledge that every cyclist is a sexual tyrannosaurus. Or at least in my house that's true. It's also true that the tyrannosaurus hasn't been out and about for quite some time, so maybe it's not a good idea to link one's sex life with an extinct reptile. While I don't get out much, either, I'm still alive and kicking.

Here's a near universal secret about men – we lie about sex. It's true! This probably comes as a great shock to some of you, so go get a drink while you get over that case of the vapors. I myself have been know to lie about various and sundry things including sex, except for that bit about being stalked by super models. Fortunately, they have difficulty running fast in heels and a slinky dress, so I've been able to evade them so far. Mary doesn't believe any of this and just rolls her eyes when I talk about it. I've warned her that they could kidnap me, fly me off to Rio de Janiero, and force-feed me Italian food and glass after glass of good red wine on a beach somewhere. They'd take their time, but eventually they'd have their way with me. Mary just looks over the top of her glasses when I say this and mumbles something about marriage.

At the dinner table one night, a place where family conversation roars off on wild tangents all too often, we were talking about celebrity sex tapes. Lyndsay asked, “Why do they do that? What is it that compels them to make a tape and put it on the Internet?”

Some do it for the money”, Mary said. “And others do it for notoriety.”

A little light went on in my head, and my mouth started speaking before the brain had fully engaged – another common occurrence. “Hey! I could make a sex tape and sell it on line!”

Lyndsay lurched forward with Pepsi coming out of her nose. That's gotta hurt.

The mouth went on while the brain frantically tried to catch up. “Cyclists have granite thighs and bulging calf muscles. And I have this one big ab rather than a bunch of little ones. One of my female co-workers says that a man of a certain age really should have some meat on his bones, and in my case it's meat with a fine marbling of fat. I hope I never end up in some cannibal's cook pot! Maybe this should be one of those negative response deals. I could send out mailers telling people that unless they send me money, I'll send them my sex tape!”

By this time Lyndsay had recovered. “Dad, no one would be bothered by your sex tape. From what Mom says, it would consist of shots of you sleeping on your left side, sleeping on your right side, or snoring on both.”

Those mother-daughter chats have gone too far. I resolved to speak with She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed about it....later. Meanwhile, the best defense was a good offense, so I said, “What! Who do you believe, your mother or me? I'll have you know that women throw themselves at me! I can't walk out that front door without....”

Mary interrupted. “Oh, what do you know about women!” she said in that exasperated tone women develop when confronted with a particularly obtuse spouse. “In all the years I've known you, some have trolled by trying to get your interest, and you never even noticed!” She named a few while the kids listened intently, storing up ammunition for future family 'discussions'. “You're just plain dumb when it comes to women.”

The hell of it is – she's right. I am dumb about women. I simply do not understand why they act as they do. Maybe it's some new psychological malady, a behavior disorder we can call dumbo-sexuality. And if it's a disease, there must be a cure. If, like me, you're a victim of the heart-rending scourge of dumbo-sexuality, please send $19.95 for my new DVD, “Dumbo-Sexuals: Overcoming Cluelessness”. Please include $4.95 for shipping and handling.

I'm not that dumbo.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A heartfelt thank you... all of you who read this! I just received my very first check from Google for the targeted advertising that appears here in CycleDog. I'm clearly not going to get rich writing about cycling, but this check is going to take the family out for dinner a time or two. Now, I'm not going to calculate the numbers. I'm not going to try to figure out how much I've made per post or per month. That could get depressing and I'm done with depression this week.

We went out to a new Italian restaurant here in Owasso, a mom-and-pop place where I talked with the owner. I'm planning to go back for more, um, extensive research. Why is it that cycling and Italian food seem to go hand in glove? More on this later.

Thanks again, all of you. I truly hope you get a laugh out of this, because for the most part, I enjoy writing it.