Sunday, February 24, 2008

Short Attention Span News: A Wally Crankset Tale

(Image from - funny Canadians - who knew?)

The annoying squeal of ancient Mafac brakes pierced the quiet and announced Wally's arrival. I set my book aside and waited.

The front door flew open. Wally marched into my living room and snapped on the television set. “You gotta see this!” he exclaimed.

Do you ever knock?” I asked. He ignored the question.

In short attention span news tonight, a tragic story as a cyclist was...Motorist Oswald MacKenzie said...Police said he would not be charged.”

The station was broadcasting what looked like an ultra low-budget local news show in heavy rotation on our cable net. “...In sports...a couple of boxers beat the hell out of each other, and a couple of hockey players beat the hell out of each other with sticks. NASCAR went round and round. Baseball commissioners denied that any players were abusing steroids. The average baseball player now weighs 325 pounds.”

We have breaking news. This just in – Britney Spears is driving somewhere in her car. We'll have video coverage from our helicopter....”

Tomorrow's weather forecast – it might rain, but then again it might not.”

News flash – Britney has just made a right turn. I repeat. Britney has just made a right turn. We're going to our resident Britney expert for analysis of this astounding development......and while it's probably not indicative of her political views, you have to remember that historically, she's turned more often to the right than the left...”

That's fascinating, Doctor Fine, but now I'm being told India and Pakistan have massed troops on the border and are exchanging artillery barrages. Do you think that will have an effect on Britney's driving and even perhaps her ultimate destination?"

Whoa! She just hit another one! Doctor Howard, we have a list of cyclists and pedestrians who've been mowed down by celebrities. Why do these people do that? Are they somehow thinking that by hurling themselves in front of a star's vehicle, they'll gain celebrity status themselves? Should cyclists share the road with celebrities in the first place? Is it all merely attention-seeking or are there darker motives? Doctor Howard's comments will be revealing and we'll discuss them right after this.”

The station went to a commercial. I hit the power button on the remote. Merciful silence.

Wasn't that great!” Wally bubbled.

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed walked into the living room and discovered our visitor. She did an immediate U-turn and went back to the bedroom. The door slammed. At least she didn't go to the kitchen. That's where the knives are.

With great difficulty, I refrained from asking if he was out of his mind – again. “Wally, that should be labeled as Faux News for Nitwits. Their target audience is people with the attention span of gnats and it didn't tell us anything useful. It didn't tell us anything we didn't already know.”

But that's the joy of it,” he replied. “They mentioned cyclists for the first time! We're getting noticed by the nitwits who watch this, people who are indifferent or utterly unaware of cyclist rights to the road.”

I dunno, Wally, I'm not sure it's a good idea.”

He went right on. “Sure it's a good idea. We're talking about people who never read the driver's manual and think that being able to balance is the acme of bicycling skill. They know absolutely nothing about the three feet passing law or the rationale of lane positioning. We have to reduce it to simpler terms, like 'good dog' or 'bad dog' accompanied by a rolled up newspaper or a cookie.”

He had a point, though I hated to admit it. I switched the set on and settled back into my chair, hoping I wouldn't lose too many brain cells.


Amgen Tour of California

I've been following the coverage of ATOC via, an excellent source of up-to-the-minute information. Their live report runs about 15 minutes ahead of the television coverage, so it's easy to keep up with the action. But there's another story that caught my eye this morning. It's under the First Edition Cycling News for Sunday, February 24:

Female inspector watches Quick Step riders shower

Kevin Hulsmans (Quick Step) was selected for a doping test at the Tour of California on Friday after the time trial, so a doping controller was sent to get him out of the team camper in San Luis Obispo. The controller entered the camper just as all eight of the Quick Step riders were showering, so the controller observed all of them until Hulsmans was ready to leave.

But the controller was a female, upsetting Hulsmans. "I don't think it is normal that a woman is indicated for that job," Hulsmans complained to "We politely asked her to leave, but she refused. What were they thinking? That I would try to escape through the roof?"

He further wondered what would happen if the situations were reversed. "Would they send a man to look at eight naked female athletes?" he asked.

It's an interesting question. And I have my own modest proposal as an answer. If the anti-doping authorities insisted on having male inspectors observe as women showered, I suspect the agencies would be vastly more popular. There really should be equality and fairness, after all. And in that spirit, I think it would be a genuine step toward better cooperation if the authorities hired female swim suit models, trained them as anti-doping inspectors, and sent them in to observe. The only fair way to do that, of course, would be if they were naked and soapy too.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A bit o' fun...

(Image from Kitsune Noir)

Multi-use path zombies....

...from Professional

It's so true! But he misses the easiest way to avoid the zombies. Just don't ride on a MUP that's congested with them. Ride on the road where you belong.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Admit it! You've been tempted to try this...

Scandinavian Indians? Whodda thunk it? Here's a wonderfully goofy idea, one that would no doubt get you arrested here in car-obsessed America. Protest the environmental impact of ginormous SUVs by deflating their tires. Presumably, this would deflate the owner's ego as well as his, um, manliness. There's no denying that ownership of a hulking, over-powered, over-weight beast of a machine has a huge impact on manliness, unless it's lying there all limp and useless. The car, that is.

I love this last bit:
"The police are looking into the case as vandalism, although there is some dispute among legal experts as to whether the temporary inconvenience of having one's tyres deflated actually consitutes wilful damage of property."

There's a remote possibility that the Finnish Indians will make peace with the SUV-drivin' infidels. They could offer a gift of feathers, beads, and lutefisk. On second thought, this could be a long, bitter fight.

Excerpts follow, but the link will take you to the full article.


(Image from Militant Angeleno, August 2007)

Environmental activist group “Asphalt Indians” deflate tyres of SUVs

A campaign of emptying the tyres of sports utility vehicles in the name of protecting the climate, carried out by a group calling themselves "Indians of the Asphalt Jungle", is believed to have spread to Finland.

In the South-western city of Turku, after the weekend, the air has been let out of the tyres of at least three parked vehicles on Sirkkalankatu and in the Ylioppilaskylä student village.

A note was left on the windscreen of each of the targeted SUVs, saying "Your city SUV kills".
In the same note the target of the act of vandalism was consoled: "Do not take this personally, it is only your car that we do not like".

...Det. Sgt. Harri Savolainen of the criminal police says that "all four tyres of each of the vehicles have been emptied, but the tyres have not been slashed. That is not how they operate."
Savolainen believes that more similar attacks may still well be reported to the police through the Internet during the course of the week.

...The police are looking into the case as vandalism, although there is some dispute among legal experts as to whether the temporary inconvenience of having one's tyres deflated actually consitutes wilful damage of property. In any event, there may be claims for compensation in prospect against the perpetrators, for instance for the vehicle-owners' taxi and towtruck costs.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day (OT)

There's not a shred of cycling information in this post. I just want to tell you about Valentine's Day here in the Rancho CycleDog.

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered chocolate covered strawberries from D's Sweet Designs here in Owasso. (There's a review of the shop coming up soon.) Mary wanted some champagne too, but I've been married to her long enough to realize that what she really wants is spumante. It's a sweeter Italian sparkling white wine. We had it at our wedding and it's now a Valentine's Day staple.

Meanwhile, one of the cats decided to hurl its dinner atop an old hardback copy of Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Tom Kitten", a book Mary's dad had given to her as a child. When I was looking for another copy in Borders, I told the clerk the story and she said, "The Tale of Tom Kitten ruined by a cat - how ironic!" Indeed.

I wrote this in the book:

Your Dad gave you a copy of this book, and I'm certain he did so with overwhelming love in his heart. Love is always best when it's given freely and gladly, so it's my hope that someday you'll give this book to another small child, one that you love with the same depth and joy as your father loved you.

Lyndsay said that I'm good at writing romantic nonsense, but I never say it. I ordered a box of chocolate covered strawberries for her too.

She gave her brother a pink polo shirt. He looked a little dubious until I said, "A guy has to be secure in his masculinity to wear a pink shirt. Of course, it's a chick magnet."

The kid doesn't lack for self-confidence. He said, "I'm already a chick magnet, Dad. This will only add to it." He gets that from me.

Oddly enough, we had to make a second trip back to D's Sweet Designs. Mary had ordered something too! When we got home, she presented me with a big box of lemon squares. Lyndsay gave me a bag of coffee beans from Guatemala. Hmmmm....sugar AND caffeine?

They're out in the kitchen now, making steaks for dinner. And in an hour or so, son and daughter are leaving for the movies. Hmmmm....big dinner, coffee, lemon squares, and no kids? That can mean only one thing.

I'll fall asleep on the couch by 8 o'clock.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Incident on Osage Prairie Trail

This came in email a few days ago. For those of you outside the Tulsa area, the Osage Prairie Trail starts near downtown and runs north along an old railroad right of way. This isn't the first incident along a local trail and it won't be the last. I was ambivalent about posting it because it portrays our area in a bad light, but on the other hand, there's an obligation to inform local cyclists in order to increase their awareness and (hopefully) make riding around Tulsa a safer, more enjoyable experience. I've done some light editing.

Yesterday, Sat., Feb. 9th, Brenda and I rode out to Sperry on the Osage Trail. We saw several people on our way, a few cyclists but mostly kids and young people. On our way back we turned into the neighborhood that you have to go through while the trail is closed for the Gilcrease construction.

There were 4 black teenage boys walking in the middle of the street and they must have heard us because they stepped apart (2 on each side) for us to ride through and just as we passed them the tallest one ran up to the back of Brenda's bike and kicked her tire trying to knock her down. Fortunately, she was able to maintain control and stay upright. I thought he'd thrown something at us and then I heard him running behind me and when I turned around to look I saw him reaching out to try and either catch me or kick me. Then he said, "Hey white bitch, I'm gonna slap your face!"

We were riding faster by then but he was running as fast as he could and I could hear his feet slapping the pavement as he chased us. I didn't think I was going to be able to out ride him but finally he stopped and we got away. It was a terrifying experience.

We didn't call the police but I think I will call tomorrow and report the incident (does anyone know the name of that street through the neighborhood?).

Also we noticed that there was glass numerous places along the trail that hadn't been there when we rode out. It's unfortunate to have a trail that nice and then have it trashed and/or be terrorized by hoodlums.

This is to warn everyone to be very careful if you choose to ride that route. Brenda and I will never ride on that trail again. It is too dangerous. It's chilling when I recall it and think about what could have happened had he knocked Brenda off her bike or caught me...Eve

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From the "Why didn't I think of that?" file...

Here's an astoundingly simple idea....kinetic powered pedals with LEDs. No batteries, ever, and they run for 5 minutes after you've stopped. Granted, they don't have a lot of power, but the human eye is very sensitive to motion at low light levels, so they should provide good visibility.

Still, with the dollar tanking, the asking price of 35 pounds may be a bit steep.


Pedalites are the latest cycling phenomenon and are, to put it bluntly, uber cool. These kinetic energy powered (no batteries, ever!) 360 degree light-up pedals simply replace your boring old pedals, and light your feet up like a Christmas tree. As well as standard reflectors, the pedals have three integral bright LEDs, one facing forwards, one backwards, and one sidewards - or rather sideways. As you pedal, kinetic energy powers up the LED’s which flash brightly away, and the great thing about these is that this energy is stored in the pedals, so even as you free wheel or stop at a crossing (of course you do…) the pedals continue to flash for up to five minutes!

I’d definitely feel safer having a pair of these on my bicycle. What’s £34.99 when it comes to preventing an accident?


Monday, February 11, 2008

What we carry...

(CycleDog images)

Fritz has a post on Cycle-licious about his messenger bag and what he carries in it. Now, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, he should consider this a mild attempt. He got me thinking about what I carry, and maybe more to the point, got me wondering just what lurked in the bottom of MY bag. I carry two messenger bags – not at the same time – one for big loads and another for more modest ones. The big bag can hold three gallons of milk or juice along with more groceries piled on top. A gallon of milk weighs about eight pounds, so it's a good thing the grocery store is fairly close to the house, though it's uphill all the way. Jordan accompanied me one day and laughed as he easily rode away from me going home. This bag is like a garage with a shoulder strap attached.

The other bag actually started out as a replacement for a diaper bag when the kids were small. I think the first diaper bag was a gift and it fell apart in 6 or 8 months. That's not too surprising because it went everywhere. But it say loads about the Jansport bag that replaced it. This one went everywhere too, and nearly 20 years later it's still perfectly usable, despite being carried on a bike for years. (Hint: If you know a cyclist with a new baby or one on the way, give a good quality messenger bag as a baby gift! They'll appreciate it long after the baby is out of diapers.) The small bag is good in the summer because I don't have to carry as much. Normally, it would have my laptop, lunch, and some work clothes. There isn't room for much else.

There's one thing I've never understood about shoulder bags, though, and that's the invisible cinder block. Both messenger bags have one, and my camera bag may have two of them. I've dumped everything out, but I can never find that cinder block. That's one of the drawbacks of a larger bag. Since I have more space, I carry more stuff.

You'll notice there's very little bike stuff in these bags. Most of that stays on the bike in a seat bag or pannier. And as of now, I'm still not riding because of this knee. I'll be kind to it until the weather breaks in a few more weeks. Right now it's still hovering around freezing most mornings and I know the knee doesn't like the cold. Once it hits 40 in the morning, I'll try to get back into regular commuting. We've had freezing rain (again) this morning, and my back and shoulder are aching as a result.

Huge Jansport bag

Scarf, long enough to double as a head covering.


Laptop case, protects against dust, rain, and vibration.

DVD backups

Bicycling magazine


2 red goodie bags, one holds lunch, the other small electronics

Rescue knife

Hand lotion

Saline/alkalol solution



Skull cap

Thermal undershirt – almost as warm as a sweater but without the bulk.

Spare glasses



Various cords and connectors

SD card reader

mp3 player and earbuds

Invisible cinder block (not shown)

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Truthiness about bike lanes...

CycleDog has been too relentlessly serious lately. It's time for a brief diversion. And now for something completely different....

(Image from AlaskaBikeBlog with a funny post well worth reading!)

What sparked this was a letter to the editor in an Oklahoma newspaper in which the writer appealed for the installation of bike lanes in order to prevent teen drinking. Honest! Bike lanes can keep teenagers from getting hammered because they'll realize they have to pedal their drunken monkey butts all the way home. So they won't drink in the first place.

Anyone who can remember their teen years or spends any time in close proximity to a teenager knows the above to be utterly and ridiculously untrue. Their attention span might extend as long as a music video, provided they aren't interrupted by a text message, IM, email, or those oddly quaint telephone calls. So expecting a teen to pass up a rousing game of beer pong because he'll have to ride his bike home in an hour or two is about as realistic as expecting him to mow the lawn without being told.....eight or ten times. They have the attention span of gnats, except for annoying music, vapid video games, and the opposite sex.

But if the magical properties of bike lanes can prevent teen drinking, what else can they do? I (ahem) developed a small list:

Bike lanes can:

Prevent mid-air collisions.

Cure Plantar's warts, flat tires, acne, saddle sores, erectile dysfunction, flatulence, broken hearts, athlete's foot, myopia and some other diseases so disgusting that their names cannot be said on television, nor will they be printed here.

Increase SAT and ACT scores.

Heal the sick.

Raise the dead.

Make the little girls talk outta their heads.

Deter so-called reality-based thinking.

Lead to hot sex.

Repel the deadly chupacabra and the venomous Oklahoma snow snake.

Replace the Mud Shark in local mythology.

Reduce poverty.

Eliminate hopelessness, despair, and an overwhelming sense of fear in those who ride through intersections with impunity but little sense.

Offer the protection of the Flying Spaghetti Monster's invisible noodly appendages.

Cause tall, Viking women in stylish footwear to tear off their clothes and....

Okay, okay, so a couple of them are just a little bit far-fetched. But I'm sure I can find some statistics to support those arguments, or, if that doesn't pan out, I'll just make some up on the spot. After all, since 85% of all head injuries caused by meteorite impacts can be prevented by wearing a helmet, and 85% of middle-aged male cyclists experience some form of erectile dysfunction, and 85% of people who bought Enzyte had an IQ or 85 or less, there simply HAS to be some as-yet-undiscovered connection! I just know it.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Build it and....they don't come anyway...

The Miami Herald ran a story about the growing network of bicycle lanes that remain unused. Naturally, this is viewed as a monumental waste of money. Local cyclists avoid the worst of them. But the remarks from Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, are particularly enlightening. She says it takes 10 years to build a cycling community that will regularly utilize those lanes. Ten years. If politicians or planners suggested that we build highways, water pipelines, or sewers based on the assumption that they'd be used ten years in the future, well, those good people would likely be looking for new jobs long before those years passed by.

If this argument were true, the ever-increasing amounts of public monies spent on bicycling facilities since 1990 should have produced a cycling utopia by now. Without going back over the statistics, I recall that the amount has increased by more than ten times, yet the number of cyclists remains relatively flat.

Somebody is making a boatload of money from these projects, but it surely isn't the bike industry or the local shops, and cyclists themselves seem to benefit the least.

Excerpts follow.

Mandated bicycle lanes are getting little use

Posted on Sun, Feb. 03, 2008


A lone cyclist pedals east on one of the newly added bike lanes along Pines Boulevard between Hiatus Road and 108th Avenue in Pembroke Pines during an evening rush hour.

The morning commute on Pines Boulevard is a little less hectic for motorists these days.

Rush hour traffic often flows smoothly on the highway thanks to a fourth eastbound lane added during the past two years in the congested stretch between 136th Avenue and Douglas Road.

But the new bike lanes added during the same project are a different story: Mostly, they're empty.

...And although experts say bike lanes are the safest place for cyclists, Key Biscayne, North Miami and Hallandale Beach have all questioned whether cyclists will really ride next to speeding cars.

...''How do we view that area? Like the plague. We avoid that area at all costs,'' said Craig Sloan of the cycling group South Broward Wheelers.

...But while colored bike lanes and striped separators may make cyclists comfortable, they do little to stop accidents, said Dwight Kingsbury, assistant pedestrian and bicycle coordinator for the Florida DOT.

...Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor William Julian said from his experience, cities are better off saving their money than placing bike lanes on busy streets.

When Hallandale Beach added bike lanes to North Federal Highway in 2003, many said it was pointless, Julian included. His opinion hasn't changed.

But safety often comes in numbers and numbers come in time, said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

San Francisco is widely recognized as a cycling-friendly community and was called one of the top 10 cycling cities by Bicycling Magazine last year. But Shahum said cycling took nearly a decade of consistent advocacy and bike lane construction to really catch on.

That's why it is so important to build bike lanes now, even when no one seems to use them, Kingsbury said.

''If you build the roadway without the bike lane, you've locked yourself in,'' he said.

And eventually, as in San Francisco, bike lanes will catch on when traffic becomes unbearable and widening roads becomes impossible, Shahum said.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Texting while driving...

Monday he was arrested, on Tuesday he was tried
The jury found him guilty and the judge said “Ninety-nine”
Delia's gone, one more round and Delia's gone.

Delia” performed by Koerner, Ray, and Glover
MP3 file available

I stumbled over this earlier tonight while looking for something else.


Category: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Along with the ability to send text messages while driving comes the likelihood of more traffic accidents. Psychologists at the University of Utah say that texting behind the wheel is 50 percent more dangerous than talking on a cell phone while driving.

...There was a story reported on Wednesday on The Early Show relaying the clear message that the practice of texting while driving can cost lives - seems obvious enough. There are some horrible stories out there for example "On the day before Thanksgiving last year, high school senior Patrick Sims was driving less than a mile from his Denver home and texting a friend, when his girlfriend suddenly screamed. When Sims looked up, he was just inches from a cyclist in the bike lane." It was too late. Sims killed the 63-year-old grandfather and at the same time changed his life forever.

...As for Sims, he now talks to teens about his crash while texting and the life he took. He no longer has his license or cell phone. He is on probation and has served 10 days in jail.


Now let's be clear. Sims killed a man and he'll have to live with that forever. But his 'punishment' is 10 whole days in jail and probation. Could we expect a similar punishment if he'd run into another car and perhaps killed a child? Are cyclist's lives so little valued that a killer can apologize by saying "My bad!" and walk away?

If I ever have to kill somebody, I'll be sure to do it in Denver.

Now Curly's looking high, and Curly's looking low.
He shot poor Delia down, good people, with a big bore forty four.
She's all I've got, is gone.

Curly says to the judge, what may be my fine?
The judge says "Poor boy, you've got ninety nine."
She's all I've got, is gone.

You can call out your rubber tired taxis, your double-seated hacks.
They took poor Delia to the graveyard, people, and they failed to
bring her back.
She's all I've got, is gone.

Based on a version sung by David Bromberg.


Sheldon Brown, RIP

(Image from

Sheldon Brown died of a massive heart attack last night, according to his spouse, Harriet. We've had occasional correspondence, and I've always appreciated Sheldon's good humor, wit, and vast knowledge of nearly all things related to cycling. We've lost one of the greats.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

I'm not crazy - honest!

(Image from

Yes, I know that George over on Bike Riding Donut Guy said "I'd like to see Bluetooth earpieces outlawed unless your are driving. Let's face it, folks that use them and walk around talking to no one in particular look like assholes." Follow his link. It's hysterical!

But you know what? I got one of these as a Christmas gift, and while it's surely handy while driving, I have to admit that it's kinda fun to walk around in, oh, say the local WalMart talking to myself. Ten or twelve years ago, people felt conspicuous while talking in public on a cellular phone. It's much the same with the Bluetooth devices today. WalMart, of course, is chock-full of crazy people and extraterrestrials anyway, so I fit right in.

Now, I once worked in a psychiatric hospital where a lot of people walked around talking to themselves and this was long before the advent of cellular phones. They talked to everyone, the living and the dead, God, Klingons, and a host of others. Trust me, there's something peculiarly liberating about walking around in public talking to the air especially if you tend to talk with your hands a lot like I do! If it weren't for the Bluetooth device, the guys in the white coats would be coming for me.

I have to wonder if using this on a bike is a good idea, though, because besides the distraction it represents, if I get deeply engaged in a conversation, I'm likely to take my hands off the handlebars in order to make a point. As Phil Liggett would say, I'd probably wind up on the floor.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy Groundhog Day!

(Image from About.Com:Pittsburgh)

Don't be confused. Pittsburgh is far from Punxsutawney, at least 100 miles. I've been to Punxsey. It's a lovely small town on the edge of the mountains. I think it even has a trout stream through the middle of town, and believe me, at this time of year, thoughts of the opening day of trout season can be all that sustain you through the end of winter. Well, that and the anticipation of those first rides once the weather breaks.

According to my mother-in-law, it's cold and icy there today. Here in Oklahoma, we've seen winter at the beginning of the week when the overnight temperature dropped to 15F. This afternoon, it's 70. The wild swings can be hard to take sometimes, but I'm very happy with a warm day in February.

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning - a difficult feat when you're surrounded by a crowd that spent most of the night in various taverns - so we have to face 6 more weeks of winter.

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