Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Musette

Parking Lot Jungle

There's a four-way stop in the middle of our parking lot at work. I've joked with people, saying that getting across this parking lot is the most dangerous part of my morning commute. Sometimes that's even true as my co-workers seem to believe that if they can only go fast enough, they can reverse the flow of time and arrive at work early for a change.

The incident I'm about to describe happened a week ago.

I was going south, approaching that intersection on my bike along a 2 lane roadway. The cross traffic up ahead has 3 lanes, 1 inbound from my left and 2 outbound coming from the right. Three cars were in the inbound lane. Just before I reached the intersection, the first car stopped, and then went on. I stopped before the next one did, so my turn was next. (In OKlahoma, it's first in first out.)

The guy in the second car waited as I moved out from the stop sign, turning left onto the outbound lanes. The woman behind him, however, didn't see any real need to stop. She merely slowed, crossed the centerline into the oncoming lane, and nearly collided with an uppity cyclist who had the audacity to be where she intended to go. What nerve!

I yelled, "Hey!" My voice echoed back from the nearby warehouse. I can be VERY loud.

She stopped abruptly, apparently puzzled and annoyed that a pesky cyclist would confront her so rudely.

OK, no one was hurt. We didn't swap paint. It was just another example of a driver doing something out of habit. We all get habituated to ignoring stop signs when they're close together as they are in this parking lot. Habits can get us hurt or killed, regardless of whether they're our's or a motorist's. I'm certain that woman has driven into the oncoming lane many, many times.

And I can say this with authority because she did it again this morning. Some people evidently do not or cannot learn from their mistakes. I'm trying very hard to avoid pursuing and confronting motorists, but I may make an exception.

North 129th East Avenue

That infamous 2 lane section of North 129th East Avenue is being widened to 4 lanes from 76th Street all the way to 96th. The first half mile north of 76th is finished, but it's currently restricted to 2 lanes until the whole mile is complete. There's an S bend snaking around a construction area at mid-block.

I started up through there after the light changed. A semi-truck pulling a huge earth moving machine on a flat bed turned and followed me. His load was easily 12 feet wide and had the requisite 'wide load' placards front and back. The truck was heavy and going up that grade only a little bit faster than me.

Now, as regular readers of CycleDog know, I'm an assertive commuter. Not aggressive - assertive. I did the Train A vs Train B calculations in my head and found that he'd overtake at that S bend, more or less. As far as most other vehicles are concerned, I'd maintain my road postion. But I didn't want a driver with a large, heavy load behind me as the bend loomed up ahead. There are 2 cross streets also. Hmmm. Cyclist, huge truck, potentially distracted driver. That's not a good combination.

I moved over to the right to let him by, then accelerated again and tucked in behind a minivan as we went north at only 17 mph. The truck had a police car right behind, then the van followed. I was drafting it as another police car sat behind me. More cars were behind him.

All the drivers were VERY polite. No honking. No engines revving. No shouted comments. Imagine that.


At work, I'm known as the 'bike guy' - a source for information about our lycra-wrapped clan. One of our engineers, Matt, stopped by to ask some questions about bike commuting. He wants to leave the family car parked in the driveway, save some money, and get some exercise. I'm all in favor of it, although my ideas of providing exercise for engineers consists of over-sized hamster wheels and mild electric shocks. Of course, this rests on the as yet unproven assumption that engineers have learning curves.

Anyway, Matt wants to try bike commuting. He has a mountain bike and plans to use a backpack to haul his work clothes and lunch. I suggested fitting the bike with slicks rather than knobby tires, and told him it would make a perfectly acceptable commuter. Still, he's taking up bike commuting at mid-summer when daytime temperatures are routinely in the upper 90s. His first attempt will be tomorrow.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pssst! Hey, buddy, wanna buy a tire?

(All images from CycleDog on Flickr)

About 10 days ago, I went in to work early in the morning, leaving the house well before dawn and riding on almost deserted roads. It was pleasant, but I really don't like getting up at 3:30AM in order to avoid traffic. It will not be a regular practice.

Just north of the base, my back wheel started to make the thumping noise that usually indicates a low tire. I took the Cateye light off the handlebar while I was still moving, but the tire seemed to be properly inflated. I was only yards from the entry gate, so the light went back on the handlebar and I didn't think much more about it.

I meant to check the tire when I arrived at the bike rack. The time was only seconds before my clock-in, so I hustled inside, forgetting about the tire.

On the way home, in daylight this time, the characteristic thumping started again. Obviously, the tire wasn't going flat and I didn't see any bulges. It was weird. My mind speculated on hub and axle failures, and whether it would be worthwhile to rebuild the Bianchi's wheel yet again. I was about halfway home. I wondered if Lyndsay could come and get me if the hub disintegrated. I needn't have worried.

The noise continued. Thump, thump, thump, THUMP, THUMP, BANG! Thump, thump, thump. The tire was flat.

When I pulled it off, I found a cut about an inch long directly under the tread. These Serfas Seca blackwall tires in 700x28 have an interior casing with 3 rubber sections applied to the outside, one tread section, and the 2 side sections. The tube was bulging out through the casing, yet the thick, uncut tread section kept it from being readily apparent.

I'm not complaining about these tires. They've held up well in regular commuting, and unlike most of my tires, they've lasted a little longer than average. They've been on the Bianchi for 2 years. Others seldom last more than a year, particularly gum walls because the ultraviolet light breaks them down when the bike is parked outside every day.

Of course, I didn't have a tire boot out there on the road. It's one of those things I keep meaning to include in the seatbag but never get around to doing. You can make a boot from an old tire or a piece of duct tape. I settled on a five dollar bill from my wallet. The rag count in currency makes the paper very strong, provided it doesn't get wet.

Jon down at 360 Sports, our new local bike shop, didn't have any 28mm tires so I had to wait until they arrived. In the meantime, I rode the single speed Centurion to work. That was illuminating. Five days of daily commuting made my knee pain return. Sadly, the Centurion will be retired from regular commuter service until I change the gearing. I'm planning to build another rear wheel on a Sturmey Archer hub. The Bianchi will be an all-weather bike from now on, so I purchased some Planet Bike fenders, sexy ones with stainless steel hardware and stays. Way cool.

Last night, I fitted a new pair of Vittoria Zaffiros in 700x28. Again, they're blackwalls. Let's see how long they last.

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Common motorist rants...

I read this yesterday on Austin Cycling News and it links to the original post on Bike Forums. ChezJfrey covered each point, refuting them one by one. His Bike Forum post is quite long, so I didn't include it here. Believe me, it's worth reading and well worth keeping for those inevitable letters to the editor that crop up in the spring and summer.

I sent the link to our local advocacy list and Gary Parker responded. His piece follows the highlights from ChezJfrey.


Look at some of the “arguments” presented by motorists in these types of “discussions” about why cyclists die:

1. “…he [/she] was probably one of those jerks that ride in the street.” and “Highways and roads are for motorized vehicles only.” and “Cyclists block the road.”

2. “All I am saying is if you do something dangerous (jump out of an airplane, ride my bike in the road where big cars are) then you should accept the consequences.” and “You ride on the street, you risk your life, simple as that.”

3. “Motorists have paid for the roads through gas taxes, registration fees, and other taxes and fees. Cyclists in traffic are a danger and seem to feel they have a right. Let them start registering and paying for road permits so lanes can be built for them. Streets are for cars.”

4. “It is very simple, give them a license plate, and they will be forced to abide by the law, or face tickets and fines.” “Cyclists do not have the same accountability as drivers. If you drive a car like a complete moron people can call and report you, and it is possible you will pay the price later on, can the same be said for cyclists?”

5. “It is illegal for bicyclists to run stop signs and signals; it’s illegal for them to swerve in and out of traffic; but that doesn’t stop them from doing it.”

6. “Why is it necessary to ride on the busy streets downtown when you can go 2 blocks in either direction and ride on a smaller side street without all the cars?”

The matter really goes right back to the fact that the average, urban/suburban driver just doesn’t want ANYONE in their way when THEY are on the road. Any deviation from the “zoom, zoom” fantasy that requires an extra turn of the wheel or a push on the brake pedal before the trip is through aggravates and irritates the motorist. The stupidity lies in the fact that these motorists encounter thousands of other motorists clogging the streets and crushing their dreams every day and the occasional, skinny bicyclist is to blame for the entire mess and that goddamn cyclist has a death wish about to come true!

Stupid people don’t embrace education, so that approach is doomed to failure.

(I don't agree that education is futile because we know that other two legs of the advocacy triad, engineering and enforcement, are insufficient by themselves in changing individual behavior. But that's a subject for another time......Ed)

This is from Gary:

Bicycling and Taxes

With gas prices, temperatures and tempers rising, bikes and cars seem to be coming into greater conflict.

A common complaint by motorists is bikes aren't registered or taxed, and should have no right to the road.

Our friends at the Texas Bicycle Coalition figured out that bicyclists are actually subsidizing motorists.

Follow this:

- 95% of cycling adults own automobiles, and they pay registration and fuel taxes, for an average of $700 a year per car.

- It costs cities and counties over $1100 per vehicle per year to maintain streets and roads.

- The extra $400 comes from the government's general funds, which are sales, property and income taxes.

These taxes are paid by everyone, including the 5% of cyclists who don't own cars. Even renters indirectly pay property taxes.

Given that most of us drive our cars more miles per year than we ride our bikes, we're paying about 50 times more per mile traveled than a motorist.

In Oklahoma we pay about 35 cents a gallon in taxes on gasoline, a few cents less for diesel. That is not a sales tax. Even as the price of gas goes up, the tax remains the same. If road costs were truly reflected in the price of gas, we'd be paying over $6 a gallon for gas today.

So the next time you're confronted with the "taxes" issue as it relates to bicyclists on public roads, you've got the answer. They are taxpayers and even if they were not, they would still have access to public roads, because they are public roads.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

How to buy a used bike

(Image from Moosterbroek on Flickr)

(As usual, I may have missed some points. Feel free to add them in comments....Ed)

More people are turning to bicycles for basic transportation every day. New machines aren't necessary for commuting or utility transportation. A serviceable used bike will do nicely.

Today, I want to talk about buying a used bike. One topic I will not cover in this post is proper bike fit, but I'll say right up front that fit is a key aspect to long-term comfort. A bike that is too large or too small will cause pain and may be dangerous. I am not well qualified to assist with bike fitting, though there are websites that can help. Be aware that like so many other aspects of cycling, the subject of fit does not meet with universal agreement.

Another topic that I'll avoid in this post is the quandary faced by collectors versus users. Yes, some rare bikes turn up now and then at garage sales and flea markets, bikes that collectors would love to have. People like me, however, buy bikes to use and use hard.

Where to buy a used bike

A bike shop is an obvious choice when looking for a used bike. Most shops will take a bike in trade provided it's in good condition, and then re-sell it. They won't take abused, damaged, or high-mileage bikes because the costs of refurbishing them are too high. Bike shops will most likely have the highest prices for used bikes, but then again, the bikes will be serviceable and properly maintained.

Further down the food chain are used bikes available from yard sales or friends and neighbors. Yard sales can be good sources provided you know how to evaluate a used bike. Friends, neighbors, or relatives often will be happy to get rid of an old bike especially if they see that it will be put back into service.

Flea markets and pawn shops are more problematic. The bikes for sale will have had no maintenance. They may be stolen. Unless you are very knowledgeable, avoid them.

E-bay and Craigslist are popular bicycle sales venues, too. Again, be wary.

Finally there's that guy who has a deal that's just too good to be true – a carbon fiber bike with top end components at a bargain basement price. I'll say it again, slowly this time, S-T-O-L-E-N. Don't buy from bike thieves. It's bad karma because the bike you get will be more like a rental.

What are your mechanical skills?

This has some bearing on used bikes because a good mechanic with an overflowing junk box can get a bike rolling again with minimum expense. But if you have few mechanical skills and have to depend on a shop for maintenance and repairs, a used bike can quickly become a money pit. Even for an experienced mechanic, an old frame with extensive corrosion and a fully rusted chain and freewheel, bent wheels, and rotted tires is not going to be worth the time and money to repair.

What to look for?

What's your first impression of the bike? If it looks like it was left outside in the weather, with faded paint, rusty chrome, dry-rotted tires, and significant corrosion on the chain and cables, it may be too costly to return to serviceable condition. As a general rule, any used bike more than a few years old will need new tires right away. But if the bike appears more dusty than rusty, it may be worth further investigation.

The first thing to do is an ABC Quick check. A is for air. Are the tires pumped up or are they flat? If you add air, do they go flat again in seconds? Do they show any dry rot? B is for brakes. Test the brakes by squeezing the levers. You should be able to insert a finger between the brake lever and handle bar when the brakes are fully applied. If the lever hits the bar, the cable needs to be adjusted. Does the lever release fully or does it stick? If it sticks, the cables may be corroded or frayed. Is the chain installed on the chainrings? If it's not rusted, lift the bike and turn the crank gently. You may have to move the shift levers slightly to 'tune out' any noises. Does it run smoothly? Stop the back wheel and turn the crank backward – gently – and listen for any noises. See that the chain stays on the chainrings and doesn't bind in the rear derailleur. If it falls off, the chainring may be bent. Sight down along it as it turns to look for any wobbles. Likewise, if the chain binds in the rear derailleur, the derailleur hanger or the derailleur itself may be bent. This also reveals stiff links as they 'pop' when they go through the jockey wheels. If the bike is equipped with quick release wheels, see that the cam action on the quick release skewers actually works and that the levers haven't simply been turned to hold the wheel in place.

Allow me to give you a warning about compatibility and parts interchangeability on old bikes. Back in the 1970's bike boom, most bicycles were equipped with components from their country of origin. So French bikes had French parts. Italian bikes had Italian parts, etc. There was no extensive part interchangeability. They used different diameter handlebars, stems, and seat posts. Parts were not threaded the same, so for instance, Italian pedals could not go onto a French bike. I warn you about this because there are many of these old bikes still available, and parts availability for the old French bikes in particular can be difficult.

The expensive stuff.

Let's start with the heart of any bicycle, the frame and fork. Sight from the side. Do the fork blades line up with the head tube or do they look bent back? If they appear to be bent back, the bike was probably in a collision. Look under the top and down tubes. If you see small bulges just behind the head tube on the bottom of the top and down tubes, the bike was definitely in a collision. Are there any pinholes or bubbles under the paint around the bottom bracket or along the chainstays? They indicate internal corrosion. Are there any cracks around the bottom bracket shell or any of the lugs? They indicate imminent failure. Sight from the front. Does the fork appear to be bent to either side? Do the blades show any cracks? Look at the rear dropouts (frame ends). Do they show any cracks? Are they straight? Cracks or bulges anywhere on a frame are cause for concern. Do not buy a used bike if it has these defects.

Most bikes will be equipped with 700c, 27 inch, or 26 inch wheels and tires. Old bike boom machines may have 27 inch wheels, and while they can be perfectly serviceable, tire selection may be limited. Avoid any with steel rims because their braking action is inferior to an aluminum rim. Steel rims are still found on cheap discount store bikes. Be aware that if you replace 27 inch road wheels with the current standard 700c units, the brakes pads may not extend far enough to engage properly.

Spin the wheels. Look for any out-of-true condition. The wheel shouldn't move side-to-side or up-and-down. Likewise, the tire shouldn't have any bulges or cuts. With the wheel stationary and the bike sitting on the floor, try to move each wheel side to side, feeling for any looseness in the hub bearings. Squeeze the spokes two at a time, looking for any individual spokes that seem too loose or too tight.

The quickest way to evaluate the drivetrain condition is with a chain wear gauge. A worn chain rides up higher on the chainring and cog teeth, accelerating wear on them as well. Without a gauge, you can measure the distance between the centers of twelve links. A new chain will measure 12 inches exactly. A worn out one will measure 12 1/8 inches. Chain, chanrings, and cogs wear together, so problems may not be apparent until one of them is replaced. Often only one or two cogs will be worn on a cassette. When they're under pressure, as in climbing a hill, they may make clunking or snapping noises.

Other, hopefully cheaper components.

Shift the chain onto a center cog. Sight from behind to see that the derailleur cage is aligned with the cog. The pulleys should be in the same plane as the cog, not pushed in or twisted relative to it. See that the front derailleur moves freely through its range.

Look at the fasteners for any that are stripped or missing. Stripped Allen head bolts will be rounded rather than hexagonal.

Look at the cables. A new one is shiny and bright. An old one is dull gray. One that's been out in the weather is dark gray and may show some whitish corrosion from dissimilar metals or worn out lubricants. If a cable sticks in its housing, replace it.

With the bike on the floor, apply the front brake and try to move the bike fore-and-aft. Any looseness will come from the headset or a loose front brake. Test the rear brake the same way. Any looseness comes from the brake mounting bolt or the individual brake arms.

Grab one crank arm and try to move it side to side. Any looseness comes from the bottom bracket assembly. Rotate the cranks and watch for bent pedals. A bent one will seem to change its angle relative to the crank arm as it rotates.

Stand behind the bike and look carefully at the saddle and seat post. A cracked or sagging saddle may be evidence of a bad fall, especially if its rails are bent. Inspect the seatpost binder bolt carefully. It should not be bottomed out, that is, the slot in the frame should not be completely closed when the bolt is tightened. If it can't be fully tightened, the seat post may be a replacement of the wrong diameter. Try to move the saddle side to side to test this.

Stand in front of the bike and look carefully at the handlebar. It should not appear to sag on either side of the stem, and should appear to be level when the bike frame is vertical. A sag on either or both sides of the handlebar indicates a fall and a weakened bar. One that appears to be straight, but is canted relative to the frame indicates a twisted stem. Sometimes there may be internal damage to the steerer tube as well. Be prepared to replace these parts immediately as they can break without further warning.


Some used bikes will come with accessories like water bottle cages, frame pumps, racks, or even lights and fenders. See that their mounting screws are present and not stripped. Look for broken water bottle cages as they are fairly common. Before trusting a rack, see that the mounts are tight and nothing is bent or cracked. See that all this stuff works before you use it for commuting, because Murphy's Law is inescapable. What can break or fail will do so at the most inopportune time, and chances are it will be both dark and raining.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Road Lice (Updated)

Now, please remember that our anonymous author - let's call her Emily - is supposedly an overweight, middle-aged woman well past her prime, and she's writing for a website that gets more than a little breathless over the likes of Britney, Angelina, Amy, and the rest. This really strikes me as pathetic; envy and anger coming from the chubby, unattractive girl who wasn't invited to the party, yet shows up outside, nose pressed to the window glass. Cyclists are a traditional focus for free-floating hostility, so it's only natural that this bitter woman would unload on us.

(Update - the author of this screed is one Julie Burchill, a woman "renowned for her invective and often contentious prose" according to Wikipedia. The author of the original webpage, Miss Provocateur, has asked for an apology in the comments section. She will not receive one, and my explanation for that is in comments also.....Ed)

Excerpts follow


Way back in 1998, scientists reported that the more a man rode a bicycle, the greater his chance of becoming impotent...

Is this the reason cyclists often seem so vile-tempered? (The men, that is: the ladies tend to be more civilised, as per usual.) All that spitting and swearing and knocking down tots and oldsters alike with their determination to dominate both pavement and road. Doesn’t it rather smack of a monstrous regiment of Mr Softees seeking to impose their masculinity on the road in away they’ve failed to in bed?

Cyclists are hypocrites because they hate drivers - yet they are drivers! Albeit drivers with extreme prejudice. Two wheels good; four wheels bad...

...Cyclists, as they never tire of letting us know, are in so many ways superior to the rest of us. Indeed, they’re so very caring and responsible that we non-cyclists should be truly ashamed of ourselves for even existing.

I'll give Emily points for the 'road lice' bit. It's the first time I've come across this one.

And finally, there's this:

"Cyclists, as they never tire of letting us know, are in so many ways superior to the rest of us."

Yes, Emily, we are. And we're superior human beings in ways you cannot imagine. If the above was supposed to come across as hip and edgy, well, you kinda missed. If I'd written it, I wouldn't put my name on it either.

100 years of Ford

(Image from Mark Gerber. If you haven't read this, please do!)

File this under dubious celebrations:

From Samizdata

100 years of a car
Johnathan Pearce (London)

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Ford Model-T car, the vehicle that changed the face of the automobile business, helping to put the four-wheeled auto within reach of a vast swathe of the American population. Ford's mass-production techniques may not have been totally original, since one can argue that some of the features of mass production used had been employed in parts of the industrialised world before. But the factories that churned out these cars were probably the most famous forms of mass-production in their time, and encouraged a host of imitators.

Here's a nifty slide-show on the anniversary.

Henry Ford adapted his assembly line from the existing factories that turned out bicycles. And while it's true that he offered his workers a high wage, he was adamantly opposed to unions and not averse to using force to keep them out of his factories. The Wiki entry shows a man of contradictions.

I view this as a dubious celebration because the popularization of the private automobile lead to so many less-than-desirable changes in our way of life, our personal lives, and our cities. We work to afford a car in order to get to work. Don't misunderstand, I'm not an adocate who hates and fears cars and their drivers. I'm realistic enough to concede that there are some benefits to motorized travel, and also realistic enough to see that there are pitfalls as well.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


(Flickr image by psychofish)

George on Bike Riding Donut Guy wrote about You Look Nice Today, a “journal of emotional hygiene” that is subversively funny. I've been listening to the podcast for some time and it's become a favorite. But it's caused some problems at work. I had it loaded into my mp3 player and was listening with ear buds while I opened some boxes with a cheap Mexican switchblade. I was laughing uncontrollably at a funny bit, and turned around to find some management folks standing behind me warily eying the knife in my hand. I smiled and went back to hacking at cardboard.

George made a wonderful recommendation, so I want to return the favor.

Three of my current favorites are Escape Pod for science fiction, Pod Castle for fantasy, and Pseudopod for horror.

I grew up reading comic books from DC and Marvel, so Jeffrey R. DeRego's Union Dues series on Escape Pod was a natural. These stories are darker and far more complex than the squeaky clean superheros of my youth. The Union is an analog to the Justice League of America, but isn't entirely benevolent.

I have to preface the rest of this by telling you about my nightmares. Waves of zombies attack while I try to kill them with an endless supply of assault rifles, most of them loaded with blanks or incapable of firing at all. Surely there's something Freudian in this, but I'm not going to find out. Anyway, the dreams always end with me waking up, heart pounding, and unable to get back to sleep. Several times I've been combative, once going so far as to kick Mary in the butt. This does little to inspire marital harmony at 3AM, but that's another tale for another time. Zombies are a common thread in the following.

The first is a comedy by Patrick E. McLean, How to Succeed in Evil. Edwin Windsor lives in a weirder and much funnier universe where superheros are clownish buffoons, cops are corrupt, and super villains are hobbled by some serious oversights in their plans for global domination. Edwin is an evil efficiency consultant, assisting the super villains with their pension plans, investments, and all the other accouterments of modern business, until he goes off the rails himself.

One of these stories struck a chord with me. There's a brief bit of telephone conversation involving a call to a customer service number answered by zombies. The company downsized and cut costs, so the humans had to go. If you've made some of these calls, you may think that having a zombie answer the phone isn't much of a stretch, but I assure you it probably doesn't happen often in real life. Here's the download for Cheap Labor Part 2.

Then there's Mur Lafferty's Takeover, a story about a small company that's been acquired by a much larger one staffed, you guessed it, entirely by zombies. If you work in a big corporation, you already know the cast of characters, the management pep talks, the office romances, the HR policies intended to merge two wildly opposite cultures, and even the petty squabbles over coffee in the break room. I have to admit that the idea of an upper management staffed by zombies is darkly humorous. Good clean fun, with brains.

Tales of World War Z is the other end of the spectrum. The stories of the zombie apocalypse on this website are firmly in the horror category rather than comedy. There's a World War Z podcast available through iTunes and Audible also.

Between all the coffee and the walking dead, it's a wonder I get any sleep at all.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Six Myths about Bicycle Commuting

Please bear with me for a moment.

I've been reading a lot about writing. It's a self-help effort. Much has been contradictory. For instance, one site said if you want to write better, concentrate on writing. But if you want to read, simply read. Another site says that reading is essential to becoming a better writer. I tend to agree with the latter. As an example, Isaac Asimov wrote several books every year on a variety of subjects. He wrote through the morning, had lunch, and then went to the library for research every afternoon.

I don't have Azimov's work ethic, not about writing, anyway. But I think that reading is a means of igniting the imagination and spinning off new ideas. It happened with the following piece, a straightforward discussion of misconceptions about bicycle commuting. I was in the middle of responding when it struck me that there's a necessity for a related but more detailed post about buying a used bicycle. I like it when that happens.

I did my best to avoid all the nuts-and-bolts about writing when I was in school. Even now, I can't tell you what a sumerian presumptional disfirmative is, or how to use it properly. (One of our local bicycling advocates is an English instructor. I give him migraines.)

These are excerpts from Adam Voiland's article. Follow the link for the complete one. My comments are interspersed in italics. And if you're wondering why I'm reaching all the way back to May for this, let's just say that my drafts folder is bulging and I want to clear it out.

Six Myths About Commuting by Bicycle


May 15, 2008 05:11 PM ET | Adam Voiland

...Biking is a reliable, safe, fun, and cheap way to get around—and it happens to be good exercise, too. Still, myths about bicycle commuting persist. Here are six I’ve noticed over the years; feel free to add your own in the comments section.

1. It’s too dangerous. Yes, there’s real risk associated with bicycling. Bikers do crash and get hit by cars. But how dangerous is biking in comparison with other forms of transportation and with our perception of the risk? A lot less than you might think.

Consider the calculations of a company that performs safety and failure testing, previously called the Failure Group and now known as Exponent. The company looked at a variety of activities and determined that the number of fatalities per million hours of exposure was 0.26 for biking, 0.47 for driving, 1.53 for living (all causes of death), and 8.80 for motorcycling. In other words, they found that the risks of biking were about half that associated with driving and a sixth of that associated simply with being alive...

Yes, road cycling has some risks, but for the most part they're exaggerated. These risks are offset by the benefits that come from regular exercise: a healthier cardiovascular system, weight loss, and a more positive outlook. So while there are some dangers associated with riding on the street, we're probably at greater risk from that bowl of Cheetos on the arm of the couch. Sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition choices kill more Americans.

2. It’s too far. The ride might take too long or take too much out of you if you live more than, say, 10 miles from work. But consider ways to expand your potential range. Many commuters, for example, use folding bikes so they can go partway on a commuter train (Swissbike uses technology originally designed for paratroopers to make the Hummer of folding bikes). Within city limits, many municipalities are now allowing bikes on buses or subway cars, too...

A good rule-of-thumb for a new bicycle commuter is to assume a pace of six minutes per mile at first. So a five mile trip should take about 30 minutes. Obviously, a short trip of a mile or two can be completed almost as quickly on a bicycle as it could in a car. My own commute is seven miles by the shortest route, and that takes about 30 minutes give or take a little due to the wind direction. This morning, a mocking bird serenaded along the way, something I'd miss entirely in a car.

3. I'll need an expensive bike. Not true. You should be able to get a new or used bike suitable for basic commuting for less than $500. Find a good, local bike store with a knowledgeable staff (not, in other words, one of the big-box stores), explain the terrain and length of commute you’re considering, and they'll help you choose the appropriate frame and number of gears you’ll need. In fact, Eric Doyne of Shimano’s public relations team tells me that “lifestyle” bikes—designed for everyday, casual riders as opposed to the high-performance racing or mountain bikes designed for enthusiasts—are huge growth areas for the bike industry right now...

Bike shops are seeing a lot of dusty old bikes rolling in for repairs as gas prices increase. This is a sensible idea because bicycles are fairly durable and there are many usable old bikes tucked away in garages and attics. But if you simply must have a new bike, visit a reputable local shop rather than a big discount store. A good shop will see that a bike fits you properly – absolutely key to long term comfort – and they'll provide service after the sale. This too is important because many new bikes go out of adjustment in the first month or two of use. This is normal.

There's always the possibility of buying a used bicycle, saving a significant amount of money while acquiring an excellent bike, but unless you're a skilled mechanic or very experienced at evaluating the potential flaws in older, used machines, I would recommend avoiding this unless you buy from a local shop. Bike shops usually won't take abused machines in trade. It's just too expensive to refurbish them. You'll pay more at a shop than you would at a flea market or garage sale, but it's likely you'll get a perfectly serviceable bike.

The used market can be rewarding or disastrous, but now that I'm thinking about it, I'll probably have something on buying used bikes in the next day or so.

4. It's impossible to carry the stuff I need. If this is what you think, you’re toting way more than the average person to work or you don’t have the right bag or features on your bike. A good basket or touring panniers will mean you can easily carry a computer, change of clothes, lunch, a few books, a slew of folders, and whatever other gadgets you regularly carry. Take a look at this bike and this pannier bag set if you’re looking for inspiration...

There are many ways to haul essentials. Rucksacks, messenger bags, panniers, and baskets will all do the job. Some people drive to work once a week with their work clothes. Then they can ride on the other days unencumbered by baggage. My rule-of-thumb is to use the smallest bag possible, because any 'extra' space will be filled with some unnecessary item that adds weight and bulk.

5. There’s nowhere to shower. Jeff Peel of the League of American Bicyclists says that many people do worry about this, but that there are numerous alternatives beyond simply showing up at the office smelly and sweaty. First, check to make sure that your building doesn’t have a shower somewhere. Mine does. If it doesn’t, check nearby gyms or fitness clubs. Many offer shower-only memberships for bike or running commuters. If you’re still striking out, Peel says, it’s amazing how far you can get with a sponge bath in a regular bathroom. Baby wipes work like a charm...

I read an account by a would-be bicycle commuter who bewailed the fact that there was no shower facility waiting at the end of his two mile commute. I'll just put this baldly – Americans worry entirely too much about sweat and the resultant body odor. A short commute at a relaxed pace will not end with you arriving at work reeking, not if you bathe regularly, anyway. There may be one aspect of 'Copenhagen style' cycling that I find appealing, and that's the emphasis on bicycling as a 'fast walking.' Riding a bike simply saves time over walking the same distance, and it can be done in stylish, fashionable clothes. But with that one caveat, I'll return now to my usual loathing of Copenhagen style.

6. Biking will make me impotent. This is a charge that has circulated since the late 1990s, and there’s a kernel of truth to it. There is evidence that serious bike riders can experience temporary and even long-lasting erectile dysfunction if they log lots of hours on a racing seat that doesn’t fit properly. But there are now plenty of seats like this one with ergonomically designed cutaway grooves that take the pressure off the key arteries and nerves. And if you really want to play it safe, there are noseless saddles, too. As long as your saddle fits correctly and you don’t ride as much as somebody training for the Tour de France, biking is more apt to reduce your odds of erectile dysfunction than raise them, since the exercise will help keep cardiovascular disease—a major cause of erectile dysfunction—at bay...

By the age of 70, about 50% of men are impotent. The infamous study that supposedly linked bicycle saddles and erectile dysfunction was a statistical study of these elderly ED patients. A doctor noted that in almost all cases, these men had ridden bicycles in their youth. While interesting, the study suffers from the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Correlation is not causation, yet in another triumph of marketing over science, new saddles suddenly arrived on store shelves, saddles with holes. Can't have Mr. Happy going all saggy, you know. If you're the type who obsesses over these things, I have hundreds of emails offering generic Viagra in my spam folder. I can forward them to you.

Voiland included this:

"And, until more bike infrastructure is built (and it should be as it improves biker safety, too)..."

The advocacy groups who endorse ever increasing miles of bike lanes would have us believe those lanes enhance our safety. Yet studies like the one conducted in Copenhagen show that adding bike lanes to existing streets and eliminating parking merely moves collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles to the intersections. In other words, crashes decreased at mid-block but increased disproportionately at intersections. Bike lane proponents simply ignore this because it doesn't fit into their preconceived assumptions.

Infrastructure is not a substitute for an educated, experienced bicyclist, just as very safe interstate highways do not absolve a driver of responsibility for his own safety. That's another myth perpetuated by the facilities advocacy groups - that even inexperienced riders can safely use a bike lane.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm not against the idea of multi-use paths or trails, but I'm very much opposed to the fear mongering conducted by some of the advocacy groups. An engineer once told me, “Nothing will be foolproof until we run out of fools.” Sure, it was facetious, but there's a kernel of truth too. We know we cannot build facilities that are utterly foolproof. Instead, we should be focusing on building better cyclists, with the knowledge to use any roadway in safety regardless of the presence or absence of bike lanes. If we can do that, the whole bike lane issue becomes moot.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Velib problems

This is the first major problem I've heard of with the Velib system in Paris. I'm not aware of any similar problems with Tulsa's first-in-the-nation Tulsa Townies, or the new Rack & Roll system. Still, I have to wonder about the long-term viability of a plan that's lost over 25% of their bicycles. They want to expand the system into the suburbs, but if losses are this high, how can they afford replacements?

Thieves ride off with 3,000 of Paris's free bicycles

Thursday, 17 July 2008

The self-service, Parisian bike-for-hire – the vélib' – was intended mostly for short rides when it was introduced 12 months ago, reports The Independent.

More than 3,000 of the sturdy grey bicycles have gone missing since then. Some have turned up as far away as Romania and, according to one report, Australia. Another 3,000 have been deliberately destroyed or damaged. But the 16,000 bikes in circulation have proved extremely popular.


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Thursday, July 17, 2008


(Image from Technology Review)

Yes, I do remember that I was making fun of carbon fiber addiction not too long ago, but this article is simply too good to pass up.

Technology Review has a piece about graphene, the building block upon which nanotubes and Bucky balls are based. Graphene is simply the strongest material ever tested.

How strong? I'll let them describe it:

Jeffrey Kysar and James Hone, mechanical-engineering professors at Columbia University, tested graphene's strength at the atomic level by measuring the force that it took to break it. They carved one-micrometer-wide holes into a silicon wafer, placed a perfect sample of graphene over each hole, and then indented the graphene with a sharp probe made of diamond. Such measurements had never been taken before because they must be performed on perfect samples of graphene, with no tears or missing atoms, say Kysar and Hone.

Hone compares his test to stretching a piece of plastic wrap over the top of a coffee cup, and measuring the force that it takes to puncture it with a pencil. If he could get a large enough piece of the material to lay over the top of a coffee cup, he says, graphene would be strong enough to support the weight of a car balanced atop the pencil.

Regular CycleDog readers will know where I'm going with this. Graphene would be an ideal material for a bicycle frame if the manufacturing difficulties could be overcome. The article details the usual failure mode for this advanced material. It will break due to imperfections, tiny flaws caused by missing atoms. Still, there was a time when carbon fiber was unimaginably expensive. If we're lucky and we live long enough, maybe we'll see aerospace and cycling applications for graphene.

(Found via Gizmodo)


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Trail Etiquette: a primer

(Image copyright Spencer Hill. Used by permission.)

I was running along the trail and this cyclist came by really fast and close without any warning.

This is probably the most common complaint – fast riders in 'stealth' mode. Cyclists should use a bell or loudly announce “Passing on your left!” as they approach pedestrians. Unfortunately, if a cyclist yells “On your left!” some pedestrians will turn and step to their left to see what's behind them, moving directly into a cyclist's intended path. Be aware that pedestrians can change direction or stop in the space of a single step.

For pedestrians – walk on the right and be aware of overtaking cyclists.

I was walking my dog, Fluffy, on a 20 foot long leash. It one of those retractable ones so I can keep control of Fluffy, yet allow her to romp a bit. She was on the other side of the trail when some cyclists started swearing at me for letting her roam like that. They could slow down and wait until she's done.

Children and dogs are often unpredictable. Be especially cautious when approaching them. Be prepared to brake or dodge, if necessary. Think of it as an opportunity to hone your mad cyclocross skillz. And please resist the impulse to skewer wayward dogs or their owners with a frame pump, halberd, or samurai sword. It's just not very polite.

For dog-walkers – while Fluffy may be utterly adorable, a 20 foot leash stretched across a multi use path is not. If a cyclist hits it at speed, there's a very good chance that he will crash. There's also a good chance that Fluffy could be injured. Be responsible for your pet and show some consideration for other trail users by keeping your animal on a short leash while on the trail.

Some deaf and blind guy was walking along the trail using his white cane for guidance when a cyclist yelled at him. Didn't do any good, that I could see.

While this is an obvious exaggeration, there are some pedestrians who simply will not see or hear any cyclists around them. Never assume a walker has seen you or knows of your presence, even if you're approaching them from the front. With so many people listening to music via headphones, it's a near-certainty that you'll encounter someone completely oblivious to all those other people on the trail.

For cyclists – wearing headphones in traffic is dangerous and illegal. Being safe on the road entails using all your senses, and that's no less true on the trails. Do not wear headphones.

My wife and I were showing her mom and dad the lovely River Park trail. We walked side-by-side in order to talk to one another and we were in mid- conversation when some cyclist yelled, “On your left!” Well, we looked over to our left but there was nothing to see. He yelled again, then went off the trail into the grass to go around us. When he got back onto the pavement, he yelled something about getting your fat ass over. I don't know why he'd pick on my mother-in-law that way. Her ass isn't that fat.

On your left” is the standard way of announcing you're about to overtake and pass another cyclist. Unfortunately, some pedestrians hear this and will step to the left and turn around to see who or what is behind them. They step directly into the path of a cyclist. As noted above, say “Passing on your left” as a better way to make your intent known.

A better alternative is to yell, “Passing!” Most, though not all, peds understand what this means. Some cyclists use a bell as a warning device, but bells are no longer required by Tulsa ordinances.

For pedestrians – use the trail sensibly. If you're walking in a group, allow some space to the left for others to pass. Taking the full width of the trail is rude and irresponsible.

My friends and I were skating on the trail, just bopping along and listening to some tunes on our iPods, when a bunch of cyclists passed us really close. They never said a word – not that we could have heard them anyway.

Passing skaters on a narrow trail is difficult. Their zig-zag course can make it hard to predict when it's safe to pass. Just like children, the elderly, dogs, or people with diminished mental capacity, skaters are capable of suddenly moving into the path of a cyclist and causing a crash. Be wary when approaching them.

For skaters – turn down the tunes so you can hear others around you, and be prepared to coast for a moment while a cyclist passes. It's both courteous and safe – for both of you.

I have a suggestion that may improve relations between cyclists and pedestrians on crowded trails. We need bigger pedestrians so there's no mismatch in energy. Kinetic energy is equal to the product of mass and velocity squared, so if a 200 lb bicycle and rider moving at 10 mph were to collide with a 550 pound pedestrian moving at 6 mph, they'll have approximately the same KE. The only problem I can see is in finding a 550 pound pedestrian capable of moving at 6 mph. Maybe if we could get two 225 pound pedestrians to move in lockstep...

Ah,a phalanx of pedestrians moving as a unit. Give them some brass instruments, drums, and snappy uniforms, and we'd have a marching band. Better yet, give them kilts and bag pipes. Nobody messes with guys in skirts playing the pipes.

OK, much of the above is facetious, but there are some serious points. Let's consider them:

(Added by Gary)

1. The most important consideration is: "ALL TRAIL USERS STAY TO THE RIGHT" Yep, pedestrians, bicyclists, roller bladers, strollers, dog walkers, all trail users stay the right. Yes this is different than the street where pedestrians walk against traffic and bicyclists, since they are traffic on a vehicle, go with traffic.

2. Whenever approaching other trail users move to a single file line.

3. On a trail, walk dogs to the right. Yes, this is different than dog training, but that is because when you walk a dog on the streets since you are on the left the traffic is on the right and you don't want little Fluffy running in front of a car. On a trail you walk on the right. You walk Fluffy on the right as well. You don't want Fluffy to run in front of a cyclists or a roller blader. Besides the land is on the right of the trail and Fluffy loves running along the ground.


Riding on trails is the same as riding on a sidewalk and on sidewalks cyclists must yield to pedestrians. Tulsa's River Park trails have a suggested speed limit of 10 mph. Any reasonably fit cyclist can exceed this, of course, so be courteous and safety minded when overtaking peds. Please be courteous, and stay particularly alert if there are children or pets nearby.


For pedestrians - there's more to this than simply unplugging the iPod or turning off the cell phone. It's a basic safety issue whenever we're out in public. Be aware of your surroundings. Be alert for the unexpected. Be alert for suspicious people or objects. This isn't an attempt to make you paranoid, just wary. Criminals exploit people who aren't paying attention or are otherwise distracted. Likewise, in a traffic mix with people moving at different speeds, it pays to stay alert.

For cyclists – make others aware of your presence and intention of passing. Use a bell, or shout, “Passing on your left!” Just as pedestrians have to be aware of overtaking cyclists, cyclists themselves have to be aware of other bicyclists moving at higher speeds. Watch your six.


Trails are shared public spaces that belong to all of us. Please don't leave trash behind. Treat other trail users as you would wish to be treated.

And finally...

Since I'm not all-wise and all-knowing, I probably missed a few things. Please feel free to point out my deficiencies in comments!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Interesting reading

The Myth of the Scofflaw Cyclist


Whenever you read an article about cycling in the city, or a discussion of transportation involving cycling it is highly likely that you'll read a comment like this:

"I will 'share the road' when cyclists start 'obeying the traffic laws.'"

and this

"I always see bikers disobeying traffic signals. They always run red lights going across R Street and Connecticut Ave"

and this

Before encouraging people to cycle and spending millions of pounds of our money in the process, the Government should have down some groundwork to make roads safer for all of us. [WC: Sounds reasonable]

Making cyclists observe a few traffic laws - such as stopping at traffic lights and zebra crossings - would have been a welcome start.[WC: Really? You'd START with cyclists?]

In fact after Alice Swanson's death, many comments on the post, DCist and elsewhere mentioned that something like this was bound to happen because of the illegal manner in which most cyclists ride. Despite the fact that there seems to be no indication that she did anything illegal.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A CycleDog Interview...

(Macro photo of woven carbon fiber by denniswoo on Flickr)

In a pioneering study of carbon fiber addiction in cyclists, Dr. Walter Crankset of the University of Northeastern Oklahoma extension campus at Broken Elbow announced ground-breaking research in this hitherto unknown addictive process. The effected group includes both recreational and racing bicyclists, and seems to include men disproportionately. Dr. Crankset traveled extensively while doing the research behind this new study, including several trips to rural parts of Mexico and other Central American countries. He interviewed sportsmen in both clinical and less formal venues, primarily bars where fishermen congregate, in order to include their exposure levels and detailed analysis. He enlisted the aid of a large number of young women in developing his control group, assuming correctly that they would not be affected. Several of them have inquired about his present whereabouts, but as this interview was conducted some weeks ago, his current location is unknown.

Dr. Crankset is in the forefront of the effort to contain and eradicate the horror of carbon fiber addiction. All cyclists owe him our most sincere thanks in bringing the scourge of carbon addiction into the light of day.

CycleDog: Doctor Crankset, we've been using carbon fiber for a long time. Why this sudden insistence that it's addictive?

Dr. Crankset: Tell me if you've seen this in your group of cycling friends. It always starts innocently enough. A cyclist looks through catalog of sale items, or he stumbles across a really good deal at his local shop. Sometimes, a 'friend' introduces him to the habit with an old part that he claims he can't use anymore. It's just the thin end of the wedge that will separate the naive, unwary cyclist from his money, his family, his friends, and any semblance of a normal life. We're all well acquainted with performance enhancing drugs and the scandals surrounding them. But carbon addiction is another dark alley in our sport, an alley that some tread cautiously while others travel with reckless abandon, heedless of what may be lurking in those dim recesses.

CycleDog: How would we recognize that someone is becoming carbon-dependent?

Dr. Crankset: The subtle warning signs of carbon addiction are surprisingly like the usual wants and needs of any cyclist - at least they are at first. Joe Average might decide that a carbon handlebar would reduce vibration and make riding more comfortable. He purchases and installs one, but before long, he 'needs' a carbon seat post, or maybe even a saddle. Carbon fiber frames, shoes, brakes, wheels, and crank set follow in quick succession. His bike and his wallet get lighter, and he's on the road so much he can scarcely recognize his children let along remember their names. But he knows that a Campy Record short cage rear derailleur weighs 184 grams.

The craziness follows soon after. Some users develop bizarre ideation. A common delusion about diet is illustrative. A user may reason that while calcium is a nutritional requirement for strong bones and teeth, carbon may be a better substitute. He may begin ingesting small quantities of carbon in the form of charcoal throughout the day, gradually increasing the amount until he's developed a bag-a-day habit. The local grocery store clerks will all know his name and store security will watch him carefully.

Ultimately, he ends up hanging around aerospace symposiums trying to find the next big thing, the next exotic material for spacecraft or high performance jets, hoping against hope to score some of it for his habit. They're easy to spot in their cheap, ill-fitting suits with wild eyes and a grab bag full of spec sheets. Their hands and teeth are blackened from the charcoal habit, and they're often seen clutching ancient, dog-eared copies of Bicycle Guide. For some of these guys, carbon is just the entry drug.

CycleDog: Thank you, Doctor. This has been very informative. Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Dr. Crankset: Please help stamp out the scourge of carbon addiction. If someone you know has the carbon monkey on his back, don't be afraid to speak up. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Many former carbon addicts have kicked the habit and gone on to productive lives as pornographers, marijuana dealers, used car salesmen, or even Texas politicians.

Cycledog: Thanks again, Wally. I just turned the tape off. I hate trying to get this stuff out on a deadline.

Dr. Crankset: Glad to help. If the grant money comes through on this one, I can get the feds to buy me a full Campy Colnago C40 for 'research'. It'll take care of my bar tab down at Larry's too.


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Monday, July 07, 2008

Man shot in bikejacking attempt

From KTUL news:

NewsChannel 8 - Man Shot In Attempted Theft Of Bike In Tulsa

Tulsa police are looking for suspects in an early morning shooting that happened after an attempted bike theft.

Police say a 53-year-old man told officers he had been riding his bicycle near a gas station when four or five men approached him and demanded the bike. The man refused and says the other men pushed him off the bike.

The victim says he was able to get back on the bike and tried to run away when one of the men began shooting at him. Police say the man was hit in the left leg by one of the shots but was able to ride the bike to a nearby hotel to ask for help.

Police say the man's injuries are non-life-threatening.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

We almost made it...

It's another holiday, and as I've said before, the family tradition is that either someone is sick or we have a disaster. We almost made it though the day without incident.

About 2 hours ago, Mary yelled from the kitchen, "Lyndsay's cut herself!" She sounded scared.

I bolted. Sure enough, Lyndsay was running water over her thumb. She had been cutting up watermelon for a fruit salad. Drops of blood were everywhere on the counter and floor. She'd cut the thumb deeply, but fortunately the cut wasn't very long. I wrapped a paper towel around it and told her to keep pressure on the wound.

She sat down on the floor. That should have been a warning, but Mary and I were trying to get the blood cleaned up before it dried. We did that quickly, then I washed my hands before examining her cut. If she took the bandage away and stopped the pressure, it immediately began bleeding again, not spurting from an arterial cut, but a steady flow that would not be stopped without stitches.

Lyndsay's face went blank, no emotion, no focus. She said her vision was blurry. She was going into shock. We got some water for her to drink and kept her talking. In a few minutes, she was ready to go.

Hi Ho, we were off to the emergency room.

Like I said, that was 2 hours ago. I do not want to visit emergency rooms at any time and on the 4th of July, it's worse. We were lucky enough to be there before all the fireworks injuries show up later this evening, and fortunately there were no major medical emergencies for the staff to contend with ahead of a simple cut finger. It's probably the quickest ER trip I've ever made.

We still have 5 hours until the holiday is over.

Independence Day

(Image from They have red, white, and blue streamers, too!)

Every July 4th we celebrate our independence from colonial rule. An estimated 25,000 American troops died in the Revolutionary War, more than half of them from disease.

Then as now, the country was bitterly divided into factions. Make no mistake, we will be eternally grateful that the Revolutionaries won both militarily and politically. Every war is fought on those two fronts.

We are presently engaged in two wars that have again bitterly divided the American people. I'm not writing this to place blame or insist that this course or the other is the right one. There's a time and place for that, but not today.

Lenin is believed to have said, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” The figurative hangman's noose around our necks in 2008 is petroleum, or more specifically, our addiction to it. We cannot drill enough holes in the Earth to satisfy that addiction. Even if we did, we do not have the refinery capacity to feed our addiction. And the burgeoning economies of both India and China consume ever-increasing quantities, so it's unlikely that the world price for petroleum will decrease significantly, despite the popular fairy tale that blames speculators for the current price spike.

There's an on-going war about our belief systems because people act on them. If you truly believe that there's a limitless supply of petroleum just waiting to be tapped, you're unlikely to believe that we're facing a significant long-term crisis. On the other hand, if you believe that we've hit the peak of oil production, and that we cannot increase that production as rapidly as demand increases, you can believe we'll be in a continuing state of crisis for a long time. Only one of these ideas can be true.

Now, as you know, CycleDog is about our common cycling experience. And I've written previously about how our beliefs influence our actions in the much smaller sphere of road cycling. On this Independence Day, regardless of your beliefs about peak oil, I urge you to declare personal independence from petroleum addiction. It may be something as simple as walking or cycling to the grocery store a couple of times a week. It may involve commuting to work on a bicycle or by public transportation. The goal is to drive less. If you believe that our oil crisis is temporary, you'll save money over the short term. If you believe the oil situation will be a permanent fixture in our lives, you've taken the first step in adapting to it. Either way, you're shaking off the financial yoke imposed by high petroleum prices.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Patrick Fox leaving INCOG

(CycleDog Image)

Patrick Fox, Multi-Modal Transportation Coordinator at INCOG, is leaving the agency for another job. Among other things, Patrick is the head of the bicycling advisory group, a committee of local cyclists designed to provide expertise and leadership in bicycling transportation planning. The photo above was taken at a Road1 course he attended last year.

Patrick doesn't just "talk the talk." He commutes to work regularly on his bicycle, so he has a fine appreciation of the situations cyclists face daily here in Tulsa.

He will be missed.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ed's ego rides again...

A week ago, as I rolled along easily on my morning commute, I sensed something behind me just as I crested the first bridge at Bird Creek. A second later, someone said, "On your left!" and another bicycle commuter swept by at speed. I shouted, "Good morning!" and he was gone.

Now, the guy was probably 20 years younger than me, and he carried only a large hydration pack. He rode a hybrid, spinning in a relatively large gear. He turned west on 66th and headed toward Mohawk Park.

I kept grinding on south toward the airport.

This morning, as I was southbound on Main Street, I saw another cyclist going west on 76th. It was the same guy! My ego nudged the speed up a couple of notches. He was moving fast as 76th is usually busy with car traffic, but when he turned south onto Mingo, he let up a bit.

I was in the drops, head down, and pedaling at a higher pace than I'd normally try to sustain. I closed the gap from roughly a quarter of a mile down to about 100 yards by the time we reached the Bird Creek bridges. That's when he saw me.

His cadence increased and the gap slowly widened. I gave about 3 seconds thought to sprinting after him, but I knew too well that there would be nothing left when (or if) I caught him. I'd have been able to gasp a hello, and he would have simply ridden away.

I sat up and went back to spinning easily. Still, my legs were mostly big hunks of wood through the morning.

An ego can be a dangerous thing.