Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tulsa Tough and more...

I just tossed these photos in here. We have the first Tulsa Tough touring event going today, and I was invited over to Gary Parker's house which is atop the first big climb of the day. We clapped and cheered as the riders went by, aided ourselves by a tasty concoction of fruit juice and wine. It's kind of nice to be a little bit boozy in the morning!

The other shots are from a Teabagger event held here in Owasso later in the morning. They're protesting the city taking on $6.3 million in debt to build sewer and water lines out to an addition which is planned to have about 450 homes in the $200K and up range. The rally attracted the usual anti-tax crowd and it was held in a park built with, um, tax money. The participants arrived in cars and trucks that traveled over roads built with ... more tax money. And several speakers are political office holders who are paid money.

It made me a little bit nauseous.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dumpster diving...

Fritz has a nice Jamis his wife and son found in a dumpster, a 47cm frame with a bent fork.


It looks good, and if the frame doesn't show any deformation or cracks right behind the head tube, it's probably good to go after replacing the fork. He says the hub is rough. It may simply need to be overhauled, or he may need a new wheel. Regardless, it's a lovely find.

I have a dumpster story too. When I lived in Pittsburgh, the city would pick up anything left on the cubside during one designated week. People cleaned out their basements and garages, putting all manner of things out for the trash pick up. Naturally, some of us cruised the neighborhoods looking for goodies.

I found an older English 3-speed, a Hercules or a Triumph. I'm not sure which it was because this happened more than 30 years ago. The bike needed a little chain lube and air in the tires. That's all. I rode it to work for awhile.

Back at the apartment, I stored my 'good' bikes, a racer and a track bike, in the hallway next to my bedroom. The little 3-speed went into one of the storage rooms in the basement, along with my motorcycle, spare wheels, and some odds and ends.

The apartment building was on the decline. There were several burglaries in the area. I started to notice used syringes in the laundry room. My car was vandalized. And eventually, someone broke into the storage rooms. My motorcycle,the little 3-speed, and everything else was gone.

A week or two later, I was leaving the building when I spotted a bike leaned up against the side of a house across the street. It wasn't my bike, but it had my wheels. They were a pair I'd built for commuting. I'd placed pieces of reflective tape between the spokes, a practice I still do today. And I'd had the forethought to inscribe my driver's license number on the rim, hiding it under that tape.

I went back inside, called the police and waited until they showed up. The officer looked at my license and when I peeled off the tape to show him the identical number on the wheel, he said, "Take the bike. It's your's." I simply removed the wheels instead.

He was sitting in his car in front of the house when I left. Later, I found out he'd called for a warrant. When they searched that house, they found over a hundred bikes in the basement! I'd been living across the street from the most active bike thieves in the city, and I never knew.

Shortly afterward, I got the hell out of there.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Something nice about Fritz...

Fritz of Cycle-licious fame, whose name in Klingon sounds like "cough-cough-spit-gargle", sent me a gift card for a book on Amazon. I used it to purchase a copy of Bob Mionske's "Bicycling and the Law." Come to think of it, his name sounds like "cough-cough-spit-gargle" too, which may indicate that Klingon is not a versatile language.

But I'm not here to discuss the intricacies of a made-up language today. No, I'm here to talk about Fritz and generosity. He knows that besides bicycles, I really like books and old cameras.

I've wanted to read Mionske's book for some time, and I looked in the Tulsa City-County Library for it. I'm a big fan of public libraries. TCCL spans the county, bringing a wealth of information into smaller communities that couldn't afford such an enormous undertaking on their own.

The library didn't have a copy of Mionske's book, however, so I planned to get one through a bookstore in Tulsa. Like many of my plans, other events intervened. Anyone with a family knows how this works. Dad's projects take a back seat to ones with higher priority, like grocery shopping, kid counseling, and in our recent experience, replacing the family sled after the Ford went to the Great Parking Lot In The Sky.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I knew of Andrew Carnegie, one of the barons of the Gilded Age, who established the Carnegie Library system as a philanthropic effort. Millions have benefited from his largess. Both his fortune and his generosity were on an almost incomprehensibly large scale. Millions of books. Millions of people.

But this is supposed to be about Fritz. I believe he has that same generous heart as Carnegie and it's every bit as big. His fortune, however, is not. So he does what he can just like the rest of us, and I happen to be the recipient of his largess.

Long ago, I had a roomie from Steelton who said, "What goes around, comes around." It's a kind of Steel Valley karma. "Mess with me and I'll mess with you", spoken softly but carrying a fistful of menace. There's a good side to karma too, when one thoughtful deed spawns others. They all carom off in a cascade of generosity heading toward points unknown.

What have I done to continue that line of good karma? That brings us back around to the Ford.

We donated the car to a charity, partly on the advice of my insurance agent. He said that local wrecking yards wouldn't take it unless the gas tank was drained and removed. I wasn't about to do that myself and it wasn't cost-effective to pay a garage to do it. The charity will remove the parts that can be readily sold, like the tires and battery, and the rest of the car will go to the wreckers. According to their rep, they don't make much doing this and, due to the present economic down turn, they're making even less these days. So they were happy to get the car. I'm happy to be relieved of the constant maintenance headaches, but Mary misses that little blue Ford. "It took us all across the country," she said. "It deserves more." When the kids were little, about a quarter of the car's annual mileage came from vacation trips between Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Georgia. She insisted on saying goodbye to our old car.

My wife is kind-hearted and she's an example for the rest of the family. We don't have a lot of money, but she shows us that we can be equally generous with our time and attention. Now, if we were enormously wealthy, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed would insist that we feed all of you and your pets. Although when I think about it, she may feed the pets first.

So, Fritz, do you see what's you've done? A simple gift, a book, begins as a ripple spreading across the surface of a pond. But unlike a ripple, it gains strength as it travels, growing as it travels though each person it encounters. I will prize this book. It will go on my reference shelf next to Barnett's Manual, John Forester's "Effective Cycling", a first edition of Eugene Sloane's "Complete Book of Bicycling", and all those Victoria's Secret catalogs.

And finally, did you know that "cough-cough-spit-gargle" rhymes with the Klingon word for 'attention whore'? I didn't. (It's a private joke.)

Holy crap!

I was being facetious when I said that the kitten photos were a cynical ploy to drive up traffic. Then I looked at the statistics. Normally, CycleDog gets 100-150 hits per day. On Friday, there were 432! You can see for yourself by scrolling all the way to the bottom. Hit the "view my stats" link.

Wow. Maybe I should do some cute puppy photos too.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ten cubed

Welcome to post number 1000!
Yee Haw!

Here's today's gratuitous kitten photo.

I have a new post over on the Examiner. It's a review of the Spokesmen Episode 39, LAB's BFC program, Tulsa's bronze status, PM Summer's 'Cycle*Dallas' blog, John Schubert's critique, cat juggling, and semi-clad dancing girls. OK, well maybe not those last two. I'll have to leave that to Dr. Crankset since he has more expertise in those areas.

Also, I'll be moving from the OKC Examiner page to a newly minted Tulsa Examiner in the next couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to the change because it's a little bit confusing to be associated with OKC when I'm over a hundred miles from there.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009


Today's gratuitous kitten photo.

I was working on a '999' post earlier, but it just didn't come together. Maybe tomorrow. But there's great significance in that number.

This is the 999th post on CycleDog! I'm told that with my one thousandth post, I get an electric blue leisure suit with contrasting stitching, a white belt and shoes, and some gold neck chains that are set off nicely when displayed with one's chest hair. I suppose I can find a chest wig somewhere, or shave one of these cats and use a hot glue gun. That shouldn't be difficult.

On the other hand, I could spend the evening playing Whack-A-Kitty.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Let's make a deal!

CycleDog photo. Today's gratuitous kitten.

The email link brings an interesting offer.


My name is Kevin, we are interested in teaming up with your blog in promoting our newly developed bicycle shape keychain opener . We are further interested in having our banner regarding the bicycle keychain bottle opener placed on your blog. In turn we shall give you an opportunity of making up to 8% on each sales leads from the blog, which will be up to $40 - $60 per sales.

As we all known that there are several events of race coming in nearly everyday, hence, this shall be a product which will be used by everyone organizing such events, hence, ensuring you of making up to $150 - $200 per day.

We shall be pleased to provide you with further details and information in case you are interested.

Product Link: DELETED


Hi Kevin,

Kevin, you're selling a trinket. It costs a couple of dollars at most. For argument's sake, let's price it at 5 bucks. That means if I'm going to make $150 per day, over 180 people would have to click on your ad. That's far more than CycleDog gets in hits per day, so either you're entirely unacquainted with basic math or you think I am. Either way, it's stupid. And Kevin, it's really hard to put a price on stupid.

We're Americans, Kevin. We have twist-off caps on beer bottles, pull-tabs on aluminum cans, and wine in cardboard boxes. Not good wine, but I'm making a point about convenience rather than quality. So a bottle opener is not the necessity it once was. These days, only premium beer comes in bottles that require an opener. In fact, ours is used so little that I really had to search diligently for it in the kitchen the last time I needed it. Hence, it is seldom necessary. Hence, you won't sell many.

But allow me to assist you in a small way, Kevin. I'm sure that like many businesses, you're always looking for ways to expand into other product lines and other markets. So I have an exciting deal for you. I've made the acquaintance of the son of a deceased Nigerian general who may be persuaded to invest in your business once he transfers some funds out of the country. For a small one-time fee of $5000 (US), I can introduce you. Please contact me as soon as possible about this outstanding opportunity. For a slightly larger fee, I can connect you with opportunities for penis enlargement and even some teenage nymphomaniacs. If I were you, I'd go for the Trifecta: money, a bigger penis, and those randy cheerleaders. But please act quickly as I'm leaving on a university field trip to study the migratory patterns and mating rituals of the Oklahoma Bar Fly. I will not be available after June 1st.

Best regards
Dr. Walter Crankset
Professor Emeritus Haus Publicus
University of Southern Oklahoma, Broken Elbow Extension Campus


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


CycleDog photo. Fritz claims it's kitty porn.

Why I'm not on Twitter

I read a blog on blogging, of all things, that recommended bloggers join and use social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin. It's a means of building traffic and a brand. If I were doing this for money it would clearly make sense. And I can fully understand that others use those sites for that purpose.

Here's an example of my typical day.

4:55AM Wake up. One of the dubious benefits of middle age is waking before the alarm goes off. Sometimes I drift off to sleep again and it scares the snot out of me!

5:00AM Alarm clock goes off. Visit bathroom. Feed cats in kitchen. Load laptop with news. Drink OJ and take meds.

5:45AM Leave for work.

5:50AM Stop for newspaper (if it's my turn this week).

6:10AM Arrive at work, if I drive. When I ride, arrival is half an hour later.

6:15AM Make coffee. Check overnight maintenance records and update paperwork. Soak face in coffee. Check load center for incoming units and their mod status. Turn on test equipment and begin work. Open a text editor page to toss in ideas through the day.

7:45AM Morning crew meeting on operating rhythm.

8:30AM Second breakfast.

11:00AM Lunch.

2:45PM Go home. Check e-mail. Check forum. Read news. Write something, if possible. Run errands as family chauffeur (Mary doesn't drive, and with Lyndsay working full-time, chauffeur duty had devolved to me once again.)

Late afternoon - Yard work. Mow grass. Cut brush and prune as necessary.

Sundown. Take shower. Eat dinner. Check e-mail and (just maybe) write something.

9:30PM to 10:30PM Fall asleep, often with the lights and television still on.

So with all that riveting stuff going on, why am I not on Twitter?



Monday, May 18, 2009

Shameless link bait

They were born on Easter Sunday under Mary's sewing machine. And if they were the same size as me, I'd be on the menu.

Yes, I'm shameless. I told Fritz once that if we really wanted to drive up the number of hits, we could just post pictures of adorable kittens. So, in order to test that theory, I'm planning to do just that this week. Cute kittens, all the time.

There will be bike stuff too, probably interspersed with pictures of adorable kittens. I may be nauseous before this is over.

Gotta go waltz the mower.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Claremore installs new bike racks

Coffee and bikes - perfect companions! It's time for another cuppa.

You just never know who you'll run into! This is Dale Peterson, a retired avionics QA inspector from my shop, and the first guy who trained me when I hired in over 20 years ago.

We were in Clarmore very briefly this afternoon. Traffic was snarled due to the Lilac Festival. Will Rogers Boulevard was closed for a car show and a music stage. Naturally, that was where Mary and Lyndsay wanted to go.

As they browsed through a book store, I wandered outside to get some quick photos. That's when I ran into Dale.

Here's an alternative use for some infrastructure intended for alternative transportation!

Look at the chalk lines. They indicate where the rack was to be installed. With all the rain we've had, the lines wouldn't last more than a day or two, so these must have been installed late this week.

A Clarmore patrolman who's hoping to get instructor certification from the IPMBA. I regret that I didn't get his name.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Tulsa, bicycle friendly, and Ozzie someone...

I saw this story early this morning before I left for work at 5:30. At the time, there were no comments. That changed over the day, and as any bicycling story found in the local newspaper, it drew assorted dimbulb comments. Names have been removed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and the real mouth breathers. The level of intellectual discourse is ever-so-slightly above that of a group of school children.

The article highlights Jason Kearney and Gary Parker. A reporter accompanied Jason on his commute to work. Now if only we could get a reporter into a Smart Cycling class. Hint, hint.

First, a brief excerpt from the article:

Tulsa being peddled as 'bicycle friendly'
It's the first city in the state to gain a bronze ranking.

By SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2009 2:20 AM

Tulsa has become the first city in Oklahoma to receive a bronze ranking from the League of American Bicyclists, designating it as a "bicycle friendly community."

That pleases area cyclists and bike club members who have already found cycling to be a healthy, economical and pollution-free way to get to work.

They also find that there are plenty of cycling events, including Friday's Bike-to-Work Day, in which cyclists descend on Williams Green at Third Street and Boston Avenue from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m.


Now, the comments:

If Tulsa didn't have the River Parks bike path, I would not ride my bicycle. Our streets are too narrow, and since Tulsans are not used to sharing the road with a bicyclist, I'd likely end up maimed or dead.

I'd like them to explain "bicycle Friendly" to my husband who has had glass bottles thrown at him numerous times and who was actually hit from behind.

If you can show me a way to SAFELY bicycle from my neighborhood in BA at 91st & 145th to my job on in Tulsa South 46th Street between Memorial and Mingo without getting run over then I'll put my fat hiney on a bike every day. Maybe my hiney wouldn't be so fat if I rode a bike that far every day

Bikes should have to have lights and a license tag if they are traveling on streets and highways,they should also have insurance coverage,and should be required to follow all traffic laws,like not peddling thru red lights and crosswalks.

bicyclists are rude and ride their bikes illegally. they ride in groups that think they own the road. they don't ride single file. they run stop signs and they hender traffic by riding slow. they are not even street legal.

As for those who ride through red lights & signs, HIT EM', that'll teach em' and if you see someone riding with headphones on, go out of your way to teach them a lesson about stupidity....

You may have a guilty conscience later but you'll know in your heart you were right and your bumper may someday become a badge of honor for you....

Share the road with bicyclists, please. You can't be in so much of a hurry that you can't take a few seconds to encourage people who are doing a good thing. A lot of nice people get behind the wheel of a car and turn into jerks. Don't be one of them.

Hard to imagine riding a bicycle on Tulsa streets. It's dangerous being a pedestrian.

Automobile drivers are rude and ride their cars illegally. they ride in groups that think they own the road. they don't ride single file. they run stop signs and they hender (hinder) traffic by riding slow. they are not even street legal.

Tulsa is not bicycle friendly. On of the biggest problems is the bikers themselves. they seem to think they own the road and can get away with anything. The other problem is that bicyclist is Tulsa seem to think that everyone needs to watch out for them, its the other way around. I am not the one with 360 degree viewing range. Here are some of the problems..

No bikes paths on main roads
Roads to narrow
Idiot drivers in Tulsa
Idiot bikers in Tulsa
Bicyclist slow down traffic
They are dangerous on one lane dead man turn roads
Bicyclist can not go 35

Most of the pedestrian and biker deaths in Tulsa have been because of their own stupidity.

and if you see someone riding with headphones on, go out of your way to teach them a lesson about stupidity....

So there you have it. The bike friendly article was fairly standard boilerplate about the award, area cycling conditions, etc. But the comments are sheer lunacy! You know, I've written a couple of zombie apocalypse stories about the walking dead, and while they're the stuff of nightmares, they're still kind of fun to write. Little did I know that they're already among us, but instead of shambling around in the streets shedding body parts as they rot off, they're sitting at home in their shabby pajamas, stabbing grubby fingers into keyboards.

Maybe we should contact the teachers who had these folks as students, and ask them to adopt the line from Shelly's “Ozymandias” as a motto - “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

While that's meant as sarcasm, it holds an underlying truth. These people are terrified of riding a bicycle in traffic. They can't imagine anyone doing so without becoming a hood ornament on an SUV. They're hopelessly wrong in a multitude of ways, but there really is an antidote to the fear and ignorance so stunningly displayed. That antidote is bicycling education. Not bike lanes. Not multi-use paths. Not cycletracks. People can learn to ride safely and comfortably on area streets. It's not rocket science. It's called vehicular cycling and it's motto is: “Cyclists fare best when they act, and are treated, as drivers of vehicles.”


Thursday, May 14, 2009

OBC offers tuition assistance for LCI candidates

Normally I wouldn't include my Examiner posts here on CycleDog, but this deserves to be widely disseminated.

The following is from Peter Cramer at the Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition:

The OBC has established a Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for graduates of Road One/Traffic Skills 101 who desire to become a certified League Cycling Instructor (LCI). Interested bicyclists should download the TAP application (pdf) and familiarize themselves with the League of American Bicyclists LCI requirements.

The League of American Bicyclists is the premiere organization working to assert cyclist's rights. Bicycling education is a major part of that effort. Traffic Skills 101 (formerly Road1) is the mainstay of the education program, and is analogous to the widely accepted Driver's Ed training for new motorists. However, Traffic Skills training is beneficial to both new and experienced cyclists as it incorporates practical 'skills and drills' intended to make us safer, more aware road users. Just like motorcyclists who have to know the same rules of the road as any motorist, buy also need an additional skill set to operate safely on two wheels, cyclists need a similar 'tool set'. LAB Traffic Skills helps them to develop those skills.

The League Cycling Instructor training builds on the foundation of Road1 or Traffic Skills 101. LCIs aren't meant to know everything about cycling, however. They're trained to teach the elements of Road1. The emphasis is on clear communication rather than wide-ranging knowledge. Instructors fill many advocacy roles with a primary responsibility for teaching, of course, though many of us have extensive contacts within the local cycling community.

Believe me, there's nothing like the thrill of seeing a student's eyes light up when he suddenly 'gets it' and the realization dawns that cycling on the road can be a comfortable and highly enjoyable experience.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A response for Slapped Enough

Slapped Enough (which as Dave Barry would say, sounds like a good name for a rock band) said the equivalent of STFU. Sorry, ain't gonna happen anytime soon. In a comment on "A quick note, and a serious one" he said:

You are WRONG. Stick to what you know best.

Anyone who reads CycleDog regularly knows that I prefer writing comedy, if only because I'm inherently lazy. It doesn't require research and it's definitely more fun to have a few laughs.

But on the other hand, I have a perfectly usable brain that doesn't shut down until I fall asleep, and sometimes not even then. I read a wealth of material, not all of it about cycling, and I love the last truly barbaric blood sport in our modern world - politics. It's essential to approach it with equal parts skepticism, moral clarity, and a good feel for irony as politicians and their spokesmen try to influence our opinions and our votes. And sometimes, just sometimes, I despair for the future of our democracy. Why? We seemed doomed to repeat the same mistakes of the past because we cannot or will not learn from our history. We see the re-emergence of McCarthy-ism, anti-American witch hunts, and a reincarnation of the Know Nothing Party. We see an ugly mosaic of hate groups claiming to be patriots. We see the Republican Party, until recently firm in the belief they had a permanent majority, reeling from a decisive repudiation delivered by the American electorate.

This tsunami of change is daunting and frightening to some. Denial is preferable to admitting defeat and accepting change. The Republicans have seen themselves as masters of the universe for such a long time, it must be overwhelming to become the minority party. Again, denial kicks in to insist that the election was stolen, or that President Obama is not really a citizen, or any other reason that can be used to justify the continuation of the obstructive course they've chosen. Like a petulant child in the throes of a temper tantrum, the Republican party cannot be reasoned with just now, and while it's certainly tempting to put a boot in their ribs while they writhe on the floor, good manners and a strong sense of fairness forbids it. It's disturbing to see the party of Lincoln, a party which fought to preserve the Union and bring freedom to all the people in the United States, reach the point of defending the indefensible: torturers, profiteers, war-mongers, and the like.

It's wrong. It does not serve the American people, nor does it serve the long-term interests of the Republicans. Much as I loathe the sanctimonious hypocrisy they display all too frequently, I'm realistic enough to know that as the pendulum swings both ways, they'll someday return to power. When that time comes, I hope they can govern with the same graciousness and good will that the Democrats have displayed. But I won't count on it.

Patriots don't talk secession. Patriots don't put party ideology above the well-being of their nation and fellow countrymen. But that assumes we act for the benefit of our fellows. Jefferson thought otherwise. He believed that we all act in self interest, so checks and balances are built into our government. We've seen what happens when one party simply ignores those checks. We've skirted uncomfortably close to an imperial presidency unencumbered by the rule of law or any adherence to the constitutional processes. And the American people decided they didn't like what they saw.

At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, protesters chanted, "The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!" Ordinary people challenged our nation's power elite and were assaulted and jailed for their effrontery. Make no mistake - the whole world is watching right now to see if we're a nation of laws or a nation of lawless men.


Monday, May 04, 2009

A quick note, and a serious one

Today is the 39th anniversary of the Kent State massacre in which armed National Guardsmen on the university campus shot and killed four unarmed protesters. I was a freshman in college at the time, and this was a world-changing event for me. Where I had previously been supportive of the war and generally had a conservative world view, Kent State catalyzed a sea change in my thinking. Our government was willing to kill unarmed American citizens simply because they held different views. That was repugnant and morally incomprehensible. That Governor Rhodes went to his grave defending the Guardsmen and their actions that day must have earned him a special place in the hereafter.

And the truly frightening part is the parallel to today's bitter political fighting. For the first time in my life, people are talking seriously about secession. The casual racism and hatred directed toward our new president is something I've never seen before. And the rising militancy of the more paranoid members of the right wing makes me think it's only a matter of time until we hear of death squads akin to some banana republic.

Let's hope I'm wrong.

Have you ever...

Have you ever tried to watch a movie, only to be interrupted at some critical juncture? I mean, you're sitting there just as a devious, terribly important plot device is about to be revealed, say, the evil villain is about to cut off someone's finger, or there's a intricately choreographed series of pyrotechnics where the hero won't even get his hair mussed, when your significant other walks in to "have a talk."

This happens to me all the time. She-Who-etc wants to have a heart-to-heart just when there's gratuitous violence commanding my attention. If I were to do this to her, she'd say, "Shhhhh! Wait until the commercial. My story is on!" It's hopeless.

In one form or another, this has been going on for years. Back in the early years of our marriage, we seldom watched a movie all the way through as, well, one thing lead to another. One of the 'nother things was children. Once they arrived, my chances of reading a newspaper article in one sitting was nearly impossible. And movies - don't make me laugh! There are movies I watched in pieces scattered over 3 or 4 years.

So I was reminded of this again over the weekend. She who etc insisted on a chat right before the end of a movie I'd planned to watch maybe 4 years ago. I missed most of the ending, but to add insult to injury, just as Mary left and I thought I could catch the last 5 minutes in peace, the network squeezed the picture down to a narrow band across the bottom of the screen, and covered up the audio with a commercial! Arrgh!

OK, so that was yesterday. Things have to improve, right? Not in my house.

Before getting to that, however, we need to rewind to Saturday. I was running errands that morning when the ancient and venerable Ford decided it was time to go to the big parking lot in the sky. It stopped dead in the water. I've had a multitude of problems with it, but this time it's not going to the garage. It's going away on the hook of a wrecker.

We are down to one vehicle, Lyndsay's Blazer. She needed it for work today, so that meant I would be forced to ride my bike, sore toe be damned. I got my things together last night, knowing that I'm not well focused in the morning. I set out my work clothes and the cycling stuff I'd need, making sure that I found my helmet this time before needing it in the morning. The work clothes went into my pannier, and I switched the laptop over to the small messenger bag because it's so much lighter. A big bag with more space just seems to attract more 'stuff' and it gets heavy very quickly.

The alarm clicked on and I did my best to lunge across the room before it woke Mary. I went through the morning rituals, loaded the bike, and started to roll it out of the garage. That's when I discovered the flat tire on the front wheel. No time to fix it, so I borrowed a wheel out from the Centurion, and this time I checked that the brake actually worked before setting off. ABC Quick check, right?

About a mile from home, I thought, "Gee, this sure feels nice without the big messenger bag!" Duh. I'd left the small messenger bag laying on the floor in the garage!

A quick glance downward confirmed that, yes, I was wearing a pair of shorts. Sometimes it's good to be certain.


Dear Dr. Wally

Dear Dr. Wally

I still have a Schwinn Varsity that I bought in 1972 for $125. The bike hasn't been on the road for a while, so I'm thinking about putting new tires on it, and maybe aluminum rims and a cotterless crank to make it lighter. My local dealer says it's not worth doing, but he'll give me $50 for the bike in trade. Is he trying to rip me off?

Tightwad in Tahlequah

Dear Tightie,

Take the fifty bucks and thank that dealer from the bottom of your heart! If he were trying to rip you off, he'd agree to make your Varsity lighter. That Schwinn tips the scales at 45 pounds and the fork alone weighs more than some modern frames. It's the Norway rat of bicycles.

If we ever have an apocalypse, the survivors will be riding Schwinn Varsitys while they battle giant mutant cockroaches. So in one sense, it may be a bike you want to keep for a winter beater because it's so durable. Or you can give to someone you dislike intently, like an ex-wife or that annoying kid down the street, and hope they bust a gut trying to ride it uphill.

Next month: Vittoria beetles - threat or menace?

Doctor Walter Crankset teaches at the University of Northeastern Oklahoma extension campus at Broken Elbow. He is a life-long cyclist with extensive maintenance experience. Doctor Wally is presently investigating a 20-million-year-old Schwinn Varsity unearthed with some apocalypse survival gear in Guzikkashistan.


Sunday, May 03, 2009


I just posted a bit of satire on the Examiner, mainly to see if the editor sends a nastygram about it. I figure if they accept rants like that one from the guy in NYC, a bit of snark should be acceptable too.

We spent the afternoon looking at cars both here in Owasso and down in Tulsa. My Ford died yesterday morning while I was running errands. It's stranded in a parking lot at present, and it's likely that it will go away on the hook of a wrecker. Fixing the transmission would be more than the car is worth.

So we looked at cars. Lots of cars. I found a Toyota Yaris, a Nissan Sentra, and a Nissan Altima that I liked. The Altima is at the top of my range, though it's a very nice car. Jordan had a melt-down when I mentioned it. Dad - that old fud of a father - couldn't possibly be looking at cool cars.

All the walking around trashed my foot. It hurts. And tomorrow morning, I have no choice but to ride the bike to work. We're down to one motor vehicle, and Lyndsay needs it.

Friday, May 01, 2009

This just in...

Broken Elbow Meteor News

May 2, 2009

By Preston Thermopolus

In a press release on Friday, Dr. Walter Crankset announced that the City of Broken Elbow received the coveted 'tin' award from the League of Armenian Bicyclists. Dr. Crankset said that the award was largely due to the efforts of Chester Neibelung, the city bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, who was instrumental in the planning and installation of bike lanes throughout the city.

Mr. Neibelung has taken time away from his used car lot and graciously volunteered to spearhead the bike lane effort in Broken Elbow. His bold plan includes bike lanes in alleys, along low-traffic residential streets, and even resulted in the construction of a wide, smooth sidewalk along the street in front of his house, replacing the old one which was cracked in places. By a happy coincidence, Chester's brother, Armand, runs the construction company that did all the work for the city. Other public officials called it an outstanding example of public/private cooperation.

The Broken Elbow Public Works department had a dedication ceremony for the new bike lane along residential Elm Street connecting Second Avenue to Third Avenue. City officials wanted to point to the new facility with pride, but unfortunately it was entirely blocked by the parked cars of those same city officials, their staff members, local media, and several police cars. The three-feet wide lane with it's painted stripe could be seen between the bumpers of the cars, however.

Dr. Crankset praised the new Elm Street bike lane, noting that it connects two popular destinations for cyclists: the Broken Elbow Municipal Garage, and a large cow pasture. He also remarked that it will serve to keep cyclists more alert of road conditions as the lane varies from several inches to three feet in width. It also crosses numerous storm drains, driveway ramps, and large potholes.

In keeping with the new bicycle friendly spirit, the Broken Elbow City Council passed an ordinance requiring bicyclists to use the new lanes whenever one is adjacent to the roadway.

I read the newspaper over Wally's shoulder. "I don't think he picked up on the sarcasm, Wally. How'd you get him to run the story?"

"It was easy," Wally replied. "He was on deadline and desperate. I bought him a couple of drinks down at Larry's, told him a tale, and he took off with the rest."

"Neibelung is going to come looking for you. Just be careful his brother doesn't end up pouring a cement slab over your body."

"Fester?" We'd called him that since high school due to his remarkable resemblance to Uncle Fester on the Addam's Family. "He's so dumb he'll think I'm being nice to him for once. When he was a kid, his tricycle had training wheels. He can't even ride a bike but he's the bicycle coordinator!" Wally huffed.

Outside, a thunderstorm rumbled across town. "I have a bad feeling about this," I said as rain pelted the windows.


Tulsa receives bronze award as bicycling friendly city

Tulsa gets bronze BFC status!