Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Feedbag: Bejeweled

From the most sleek of racing steeds, to the daily ride into the office, to the most humble of campus beaters, we pamper our bikes, provide them with the acknowledgment they are due in the service of carrying us around. The ways in which we do this are the ways of individual taste, creativity and means. For some, those ways are as simple and functional as keeping them running at optimal performance. For others it means adorning them with shiny jewels, arrangements of glimmering gems along tubes and stays.

I bet this person, the owner of this bike, had streamers flowing from handlebar ends of their first two wheeler, and that they were the treasured accessory. I bet she (I am going to go ahead and assign a gender at this point because it is easier) took great pleasure from watching those streamers wave behind, at sister or brother, or maybe mom or dad, as she raced away one day at great speed. I think this person, the owner of this bike, is into jewelry. I bet the owner of this bike has never been concerned with fitting in, or going along with the crowd. There are all kinds of assumptions we can make about a bike like this. You may have made some too, as soon as you saw the photo.

When I rode upon this bike the other day, it made me realize that of the the bikes I own now, or have owned in the past, none of them were truly unique, they could have belonged to any one of a thousand people. Sure I built them up as I believed they should be, as I believed would best serve my purposes. But none of them said this bike belongs to me in quite the same way the bike shown above says this bike belongs to me of someone else.

So, the question this Friday: Have you ever owned a bike like this, one that truly says this bike belongs to me? If so, what distinguished it as your own?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Upcoming: 54th Nevada City Classic

Thats right, fifty-four years. That is older than me and means that they have earned that "Classic" part in their name. It is definitely one to carve a weekend out of your schedule to watch from the street-side, or maybe someone's front yard. If many years in the future, you can tell a tale about how you actually did the race one year, well, so much the better.

To add to the race's significance this year, the NCC is the second half of a two race omnium - the Classic will be run on Sunday 15 June (Fathers Day), while down the mountain, the Folsom Historic Criterium will be run the day before. With a combined purse of $23,000 I think we can expect a collection of NorCal's best to be there. Anyone from the southern part of the state planning to challenge?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This Bud's For You, 28 May

When the bunch is spread out across the road you can bet that a drag race to the line is approaching, just hombre y hombre, no motors getting in the way of this competition. If Kayle Leo Grande is on the ride you can bet that he will be amongst those leading the charge. If Leo Grande gets a clear shot up the lane lane you can be he will make the most of the opportunity. The Predator/Incycle rider made a game of it for a while, but at the end of the race, this weeks Bud's Ride crown goes to Kayle Leo Grande.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

No Bicycling Allowed

What crosses your mind when you see a sign like this? If you are a skateboarder, you are probably used to it. If there is any active transportation group more persecuted than bicyclists, it has got to be skateboarders. What if you are a cyclist? Does it not just make you want to ride back and forth along the street all day long? Who the hell comes up with things like this? If you are a resident in this community and you decide to head out on a bike ride, maybe to run an errand, to get to work or school, or maybe just for the fun of it, do you walk from the garage to the city maintained street before mounting up? When you are returning home, do you dismount at the border of this, clearly unenlightened, country. Then, of course, there is the whole question of where you are supposed to walk; there is no sidewalk, so you walk in the street. For some reason, which I can't make out, it is okay for that but not the others? There is much bizarre thinking incorporated in that one sign, and in the minds that formulated it.

I am sure this was devised by the community home owners association (HOA), and they probably couch their "rule" in some sort of language touting safety. Can you make out the speed limit sign in the background? It says the maximum speed shall be fifteen miles per hour. If ever there was a place made for bicycles, skateboards, and roller skates it is the place were the speed limit is fifteen miles per hour. Because the streets through this community are not city maintained, the HOA has the "right" to make such backward thinking rules, even when those rules are a disservice to the residents.

Some day, some year in the future, signs like this will only be found in museums. People of the future will be shocked by them, wondering how there could ever have been such a point in human history when a person being mobile under his or her own power was frowned upon, a time when humans allowed themselves to become so soft and lazy that they actually made rules outlawing activity. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Blues: OTB @ Aliso Viejo, Memorial Day 1994

This weeks' Blues comes direct from the pages of the log, twenty years ago, an off the back experience during a race at Aliso Viejo.

"This Memorial Day race was not as hot as some past ones I remember nor yesterdays 100º weather. The circuit at Aliso Viejo is one where attrition plays the biggest factor. Start is part way up a 125 foot climb. Pace was quite high from the gun although the field stayed pretty much together. After that disintegration ensued with the leaders extending their gaps on the climb each successive lap until finally the chasers were not able to make contact on the descent. I found myself in the second chase group of anywhere from four to six [racers] and fluctuating as we caught stragglers. Finally, on the last few laps there were just the four of us, including Tom. T seemed to think there were maybe twelve to fifteen riders who finished ahead of us. Who knows, with 52+ starters, and stragglers being lapped it was kind of hard to tell. Rough race."

In recognition of all who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of freedom, liberty, and human right, celebrate this Memorial Day in their memory.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

2014 Seasons in the Sun Sponsorship

Time to get things started. Well, technically that began with the first race in January. What it is time to do is begin searching out sponsors for the 2014 edition. The 2014 volume will be bigger and better, there will be a wider selection of races - if you follow the blog you may have realized there are already a wider selection of races. By the end of the year, by the time it goes to print, there will be two to three times as many races covered - road, mountain, track, cyclocross.

Anyway, just as I did with last years edition, I am seeking sponsors to help keep the cost down so that it can be more widely distributed. If you own a company, work for a company, if you are a company or just an individual philanthropist, who would like to support the project, let me know by sending me an email. If you provide me with a graphic I will put it in a sponsor section at the back of the book for all to see. Best yet, I am going to lower the price of sponsorship this year - the lowest level sponsorship will start at $50.00 for a quarter page advertisement. While any amount is welcome, anyone contributing at the basic level, or more, will receive a free copy of the book. Two hundred dollars will garner you a full page ad.

The 2014 Seasons in the Sun is a yearbook type publication, with photos and essays, from each of the races across Southern California that I have covered for the blog over the course of the year. Why? Because I am a cycling nut and glutton for punishment. I love the racing scene, the intensity, the camaraderie, the grit, the grime, the glory of it all. Even all the stuff that happens before, after and in between the races is good.

Southern California may have the longest racing season of any place in the world. Some would say it never ends, but blurs from one season to another, a continuous cycle from discipline to discipline where the racers stay the same, only the bikes change. The Seasons in the Sun keepsake is my small way of documenting all the action over the entirety of a year.

And if you have not picked up a copy of the 2013 edition, there is still time for that too.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekending C & V: Masi 3V

This does not qualify as a twin to the Masi which Dave Stoller broke away on. I am not even sure you can call it a sibling, but it is as close to a kissing cousin as you can get. Saw it in Pasadena last Saturday during the Amgen Tour of California.

This could be a 1984 model, but I am not sure. Another I have seen, and supposedly from that first production year, did not have the pump peg that this one does. The 3V refers to the oversized tubing used for this model beginning in 1984, a design component they called 'Volumetrica'. This made for a more rigid frame, often noted as the most rigid in its time. Anyway, it is certainly classic steel. The Campy headset and the chromed fork crown are nice touches of classicism too. Given that, plus its orange tone, I wonder if Masi designed it as a nod of recognition to Dave's orange ride.

Friday Query: L & R

Remember when you began wrenching your own bike? I use the singular because it was the beginning, was it not? Before 'N+1' became the dominant formula driving the cycling side of your life, and you had to learn the different ways of mountain and road, and maybe track as well. There were some mechanical consistencies between the disciplines, there always have been. I bet one of the first you learned was 'L' and 'R'. Am I right? Most of the time left and right designated components are pretty obvious - the one just will not work on the other. Though I am sure there are people who have tried, you don't put a left brake lever on the right bend of the handlebar. 

Perhaps even more significantly for us, are the 'L' and 'R' designations on our pedals. If not for reverse threading we would quickly find ourselves footloose, at least on the left side.

Moving on. I am old enough to remember those big old, headbanger floor speakers that all us kids of the 60s and 70s would have hooked up to our stereo systems. Those speakers, as well as their smaller shelf-top descendants, all had 'L' and 'R' designations. Their wires were hooked into corresponding 'L' and 'R' ports at the backs of the stereos. There was a reason for this, and it had to do with balance control. 

Moving on. Todays earbuds still have those l little markings for left and right. The Friday Query is, why? For a long time I made sure to check that the 'R' was only going into the right ear and, unsurprisingly, that the 'L' was only going into the left ear. It was a task born of habit. Lately things have switched, and just to rebel, I give the 'L' bud to the right ear. I have not noticed any difference. The left and right wires go into a common jack, and though that jack has the ability to separate them, the iPod it goes into does not have balance control. If you were wondering, yes these are the original earbuds that came with the iPod years ago. Maybe there are devices with left and right balance control I could plug into, or are the markings there simply because that is how it has always been done?

Ah, well. I am perhaps more a creature of habit than I would like to admit, and I suppose I will continue to take a quick glance before I put the earbuds in their proper place, whether it is necessary or not. At work, not on the bike.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

This Bud's For You, 21 May

As it did last Wednesday, this weeks Bud's Ride crown goes to Patrick Caro.

What seemed to be most noteworthy as talk swirled through the bunch on the slow ride back to town, was not so much that Mr. Caro won two consecutive weeks, but that he did it this time while pulling a small Fiat behind him. He also, apparently, soloed up the Via Verde climb one-legged, switching from left then right so that both would still get their work for the evening. This last part was mostly speculation since by then Pat was so far ahead that no one could really see for sure what he was doing. Besides, that Fiat was blocking the view. Anyway, what I do know for sure is that Caro, and the two opportunist escapists who were pulled along in his wake, were nearly across the finish line before the bunch came into view around the distant bend in the road. Sounds like the stuff of legend, and certainly does not need any further embellishment by me which, anyway, would just make it sound unreal.

In the photo above, ignore the two on the far left, they are NAP (not a part). Meanwhile Caro is motoring at the front too strong to even prompt a sprint attempt from either of the other two. As you can see he had the wherewithal to ditch the Fiat for the finish; of course the two riders being pulled along probably weighed more than it anyway. Squint really hard and you might be able to make out the bunch in the distance through gaps in the trees.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Grim Reapers of the ATOC

Who would have thought the Grim Reapers had individual names? Curse me for not breaking out my pen and paper right there, but I believe one is named Bruce Campbell, while the other may very well be named Chuck Bramwell. It is not everyday you get to meet cloaked Death, and survive to tell the mortal world about it.

Who would have known this pair of Reapers hailed from Southern California's very own City of Irvine? If you ever needed a reason to not visit that city, the fact that they reside there may be it. If you made the now-clearly-unfortunate decision to move there, I'm sorry, you are that much closer to your doom.

Who would have thought the Grim Reapers needed help getting dressed? It is just a cloak and cowl after all.

Who would have thought the Grim Reapers are not always all bones and shadows? In their human guise there is actually skin and flesh on those bones. Kind of scary really, they could be the person in the cubicle next to your own.

One thing I did know is that the Grim duo slipped on running shoes in order to take care of business - if you are going to give chase to someone on a bike, someone not yet ready to give up the ghost, even when going uphill, you have got to be fast on your feet.

Over the years the Grim Reaper, or Reapers when they work in tandem, have become a familiar sight along the verges during the Tour of California's toughest stages. Right up there with antler guy and the Pope. I don't know that the Reapers have ever been spotted along the various downtown circuits of the Tour. After all it is on those highest, steepest pitched slopes where mouths gape the widest in futile attempts to suck in enough oxygen, where the legs come closest to synthesize into the rubbery compound we all have been familiar with at one time or another, where the body comes closest to physical collapse, and where the mind shuts down all but the most essential thought processes. In other words, where the Grim Reapers' services are most likely to be required.

While these particular Grim Reapers owe their existence to the race (Reapers have also been known to stalk the annual Breathless Agony ride) they don't limit their attentions, nor intentions, to the racers. Average Joe's riding up to watch the pros will avert their eyes and cover their faces. Women will take a wide path around, nervously smiling and warily watching from the corner of their eyes. Though the Reapers mostly avoid the youngest children, those of toddling age, should the youngsters catch a glimpse they quickly hide behind their fathers, tears welling in their eyes. Truth be known it is only the older kids who are apparently immune to the powers of the Reapers. 

Should you happen to meet the Grim Reapers your best defense (other than a bag of peanut brittle) would seem to be confidence; above all, never show fear, or weaken in resolve. If you ride up on a Reaper alongside the road, sit up a little more straight, pedal with smooth confidence, and most definitely never waiver from your line; a rider with a wavering line is a sure sign to a Reaper. If a spectator looks to be under duress while shuffling up the mountainside, the Reapers will take notice. Rarely will a hunched over pedestrian, sweat streaming down their face, breathes coming in rattling gasps, escape the sunken eyes (or shaded ones should they be all hip with their sunglasses on) of the Reapers. Be forewarned.

if you're a Facebook friend then you already know the story here. for everyone else, well, i will repeat it: what she is holding in her right hand and pointing to with the left is a bag of peanut brittle. when the reapers said her time had come, she was able to buy they off with the brittle candy

Grim Reapers will pose when the cameras come out

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Blues: Rapha Special Edition ATOC Stage Six Cycling Cap

In case you missed it Rapha had special, and limited, edition cycling caps made up for each stage of this years Amgen Tour of California (ATOC). The front panel is graced with the stage number, in this case six. The sides have the stage start and end points - Santa Clarita and Mountain High. The back says Tour of California 2014 with the House (House Industries) logo and, if you flip up the brim it says Rapha. In fact, if you go to the House Industries website, a slideshow at the top shows the collection of caps from each stage.

Anyway, I was standing at Michelob Lite table drinking a Coke, with my Hamms Beer cycling cap perched on my head, when I noticed a guy riding around with a plastic bag of, what looked like, cycling caps inside. He rolled over to another table where there was a guy with an old wool Maglia Rosa jersey on with an equally vivid Giro cap. They talked for a couple minutes, about caps I imagine, during which time I tried to look all nonchalant, but keeping a watch out the corner of my eye. I like to think I owe it to the Hamms cap that he next rolled over to my table, stopped, and placed one of those prizes before me. We exchanged comments of admiration for one anothers' caps before he moved on to a group of Golden Saddle riders hanging out at the Ten Speed Coffee trailer to divest the rest of his goods. 

Nothing blue but the color for this week's Monday Blues.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Upcoming: Inland Empire Ride of Silence

The Ride of Silence has become a worldwide annual ride, taking place the third Wednesday of May, in recognition of our friends, family and community members who have lost their lives while riding their bikes. Numerous of them take place around Southern California, from Pasadena, to Irvine, to Rancho Cucamonga, places in between and far afield. I have already noted the Pasadena ride in the Upcoming Events listing and now have some more specifics for the Inland Empire ride: Wednesday 21 May at the usual meeting spot, 7325 Day Creek Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga. Meet at 5:45, roll out at 6:00. In past years this ride has had a police escort - yes it can get quite large (as it should), but I have not heard anything about this year's ride. You can join the ride through the Cycling Connection Meet Up event page, and get more information, but it is not necessary. In fact I would say most people hear about it word of mouth and just show up. This is a slow paced parade ride intended for reflection; leave the ego's at home.

2014 ATOC, Stage Seven: Come On Lars

Yesterday I got so caught up in catching up with a couple old buds - Tom and Devon, that  I really did not get a good spot for race photos. It is great how these big events draw people out, people you maybe have not seen in far too long. Maybe not so great is how time flies, and how some of those old buds (and myself) are on the cusp of becoming a part of the old timers group, people who have been associated with the sport for, shall we just say more than a couple decades, and leave it at that.

Once the big screens came on, all eyes turned its way. when we (the family and I) found out Lars Boom was in a break we hoped against hope that it should hold. Lars signed a big foam #1 finger for the boy a few years back and has been a favorite ever since.

Go Lars! it was not to be though, as the break was absorbed about the time they entered the city.

first through the streets of Pasadena - Ben King (17) and Greg Van Avermaet

Bradley Wiggins still in Yellow

Once Lars was out, and Cavendish was not in contention, i was kind of hoping for a win by the mighty Thor Hushovd. Instead it was the man in green, always a crowd favorite, the only racer to have a big cut-out head, Mr. Peter Sagan.

Also caught up with some buds of a more recent variety, a group of Psycho-lists who made their way out to Pasadena as part of the Incycle ride.

Okay. Racing done. Time to go. And I have to get out the door. There is a ride going up GMR this morning, and I don't want to be late.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

2014 ATOC, Stage Six: Rest of the Story

That last couple miles or kilometers up to the finish from the Highway 2 junction was surprisingly steep. Twelve and thirteen percent stuff, maybe more, I only had the heart to check once and I don't think it was on the steepest pitch. Quite frankly I am surprised Mark Cavendish and the rest of the boys in the bus, got up there as soon after the leaders as they did. And those long minutes were nothing like soon. People had started heading back down to the cars and I had to tell them it was not all over yet - "wait for the broom wagon, only then is the party over".

But that was near the end of the day. At the beginning there was arrival. The plan was to get there early and we, the wife and I, did just that. We parked down at the lower Mountain High and rode up to the finish where the festival was taking place. We checked that out until there was nothing left to check out - took a photo with the California Bear, showed off the wife's steel Bianchi at the Bianchi booth, got some freebies, got a free limited edition cap (more on that Monday), sold a copy of 2013 Seasons in the Sun, and then headed back down a bit to stake out a good spot on the climb.

get back up on that flag, you

my salesperson earned a raise by selling a copy to the guy at the Bianchi booth

chatted with this New Yorker for a while after spotting his cap - very similar to my own from back in the day

Beside being a Triple Crown Winner, this guy moonlights on the side, and I would run into him in his other guise later. Those scythes are your clue.

keeping a wary eye on the grim reapers while walking the center line

After finding a nice shady patch of verge we were soon joined by a couple gents and their friend. Carrying scythes I suspected there might be more to them than their outward appearance. Soon enough they were transformed into a pair of grim reapers. Little kids ran behind their fathers, women shied away with nervous looks, riders slowly making their way up quickened their pace and hid their faces. No matter how many times they repeated the words "don't fear the reaper" folks kept their distance. The reapers will get their own post another day, but now things were definitely getting interesting, all part of the pre-race. Next up came a cousin of Tom Zirbel. Not that he announced that, but he did say he had a cousin racing, but had to pull out on stage three. When he began to describe him - races for Optum, big guy, 6'-3" or so, I knew right away - "oh, your cousin must be Tom Zirbel." Sure enough. Eventually he left to continue hoofing it up to the top.

While the reapers were busy chasing little kids, and scaring passers by, a quartet joined us in our shade. They declared they were bound and determined to keep the Belgian tradition alive - bringing beer and whatever was in that flask (I never did find out), to the party on this mountainside. The Tour de France has both a Dutch Corner and an Irish Corner, seems the Tour de Cali is overdue for something similar.

It really wasn't much longer before the helicopter came into view, and several minutes later the stage winner, Esteban Chaves smooth pedaling his way up slope. The remainder of the racers came up singly, as pairs or small groups. Race leader Bradley Wiggins was in one of those small groups not far behind. A couple larger groups made their way past before the groupetto which counted Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan among its members. 

The crowd had been thinning out up above and slowly making its way down the road past me for a little while. Once the broom wagon inched by the flood gates opened and the masses came down enmass, mostly keeping to the sides of the road so that the pros could fly down to their waiting buses. Time to pack up and join the throng.

In addition to the photos here, there are a select group of ninety-eight in this Flickr album.

David de la Cruz from Mexico (NetApp-Endura) was chasing Esteban Chaves hard from thirteen seconds back, too far, and would settle for second

here comes race leader, Bradley Wiggins, dogged by a rogue Smurf

Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish, their lieutenants, and some hanger's on make their way up to the finish

these dudes caught and skinned themselves a bear during the wait

Friday, May 16, 2014

2014 ATOC: Stage Six Champion

The slopes of Mountain High, high above the little berg of Wrightwood, are apparently one of the few places in California not burning right now, but were none-the-less smoking when the race came by.

Today belonged to Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-Green Edge) - CLR Effect photo

More to come...

2014 ATOC: Audentes fortuna adiuvat

The 2014 Amgen Tour of California has been blessed with some terrific stage finishes this year (I guess there is nothing unusual about that), finishes in which Fortune indeed did favor the bold, or the brave, as the case may be. First came the late race charge of Rohan Dennis atop Mt. Diablo at the end of stage three. Will Routley's win at Cambria on stage four, was not quite in the same bold move category, but it is not every day the Polka Dot Jersey wearer wins a flat out sprint. As good as those were, the best thus far must be Taylor Phinney's very bold move at the end of yesterday's fifth stage into Santa Barbara. Phinney, while descending San Marcos Pass, had twenty kilometers still to race when he went on the attack,  and was able to hold off the charge from the field. What a great escape, and certainly reminiscent of some of the moves of a certain Jens Voigt.

Best of all, when it came time for the post win interview, and podium appearance, Phinney donned, not a baseball-style cap, but a cycling cap. Chapeau, indeed. How to wear a cycling cap: Taylor Phinney.

this photo, and others, from the Santa Barbara Independent

I haven't really been into the whole UCI race scene this year, but these three stage finishes at the ATOC have me looking forward to the weekend's final three stages. I hope to be at Mountain High today, or somewhere along the final climb through Big Pine Canyon, a climb which may lead to another one of those bold finishes.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hakkalugi Rebuild: Stem and Bars

Stem: Felt 6061 Superlite
Bars: Bianchi Reparto Corse

I have some specific components in mind for this rebuild - the headset and fork, for instance, were intentional picks. Others will probably be of the "whatever I see first" variety - like the stem and bars, for instance. Bar width is pretty standard for me using the old shoulder measurement test (hold them up to your shoulders and if the bars are the same width as you are, they are good to buy), but I was told bars with a more shallow drop is best for CX, so these bars have drops that measure up a bit on the shallow side. Cantilever brakes are probably next up; I was originally thinking Avid, but assuming I go Campy for the levers (not to mention cranks and derailleurs), it might make sense to go Campy cantis. Anyone out there have CX experience with them?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

This Bud's For You, 14 May

In the charge to the line, two riders pull free, everyone else dropping behind like excess baggage. The front rider has a two bike gap but the challenger, low over the bars, has the advantage of eyes on the prey right in front of him and is closing the gap. It is 6:30pm on a 100ºF day, but even the 2:00 high could not have been any more scorching than this sprint. In the end, with their elongated shadows foretelling the end of contest, the Incycle rider, Pat Caro, held on for the weekly Bud's crown.

Upcoming: LACBC, PVBC, and GMR/GRR

The upcoming Sunday is the final day of the Amgen Tour of California - normally this is not something I would want to miss. However, since I am hoping to be at both preceding stages, I might be ready for an alternative, a chance to ride rather than just watch other people ride. If you want an alternative, consider the Jon Riddle led, LACBC hosted (and this time co-hosted by the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition) monthly ride. For the May ride, the group will meet in Claremont, at the Depot, ride over to, and climb Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road, descend to Baldy Village, and then on down Mt. Baldy Road back to Claremont. Hopefully GMR will be reopened by then (currently it is Red Flagged due to extreme heat and wind). It is no slouch of a ride, and if you are thinking of doing it, come prepared. Read all the important info here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

From the Library: Walkable City

Very little in Walkable City is specific to the bicycle. I bet you could have guessed that with a quick glance at the title. However, since making cities more walkable carries implications for bicycling as well, it should not be a surprise that bicycling is closely twined with what is being said here about the ways our urban areas have been, are being and, perhaps, should be designed. 

This is the kind of book you would expect to be filled with numbers and statistics - things like "the study concluded that an hour spent driving triples your risk of heart attack in the hours that follow (pg 48)." While there are plenty of those to support your position during debates, the author travels well beyond them, delving into cause and effect with each succeeding chapter. There is little question that our cities have evolved around an automotive hegemony. Just look around. We don't need another book to tell us that one. Walkable City offers ways in which that hegemony may be broken, but does so in a non-sugarcoated way, admitting that there are areas of cities that are unlikely to ever be attractive to walking. 

Many aspects of urban design are touched upon in the chapters including revitalization, sustainability, economic and societal benefits. Even if not directly noted, many of these are tied to the design of our cities, both good and bad. The focus is on the greater density areas, almost to the exclusion of the suburbs which, the author at this point in time, largely writes off and explains why.

One of the things I have noted recently is the possibility of strengthening community relations afforded to bicycling due to spontaneous contact. These are possible because there are no doors or windows around us, limiting opportunity. The author notes that the same holds true for walking: "Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city's wealth of public life may grow." 

If you have ever committed a portion of you daily thought output to how cities can be transformed, what has been shown to work and what has not, Walkable City is one of several written in the past few years worth the read.

Speck, Jeff   Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time   New York: North Point Press, 2012

Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Blues: Mourn Not

Mourn not this decaying carcass, the dried out husk. Its casual discarding may be insult to a life of service, true, but think instead upon more fresh and supple times. Remember miles of warm and sunny days, jostling with friends along ragged trails, sharing laughs and joking repartee. Epics are told in its peeling skin and frayed tendons. Everyday events might be told in its wear, adventure embedded in its sun-hardened dermis. Archaeologists can recreate a life, a culture from a painted shard, a carved bone, so too can we, adherents of the spoked wheel, recreate stories from discarded remains. We can do so because we have been there, on similarly worn tires. Bouncing from stone to stone, slithering where sand fills gaps between firm surfaces, maybe leaving terra firma completely even if for but a second or two. Miles long, and miles short, each ride an individual memory, each also contributing to a cumulative whole. Small things, so easily discarded and replaced share in the making of memories rote, and memories bold. Mourn not this small thing lying in the dirt, instead let us wake its memories while refreshing our own.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Effing, Effing, and Effing

He was walking from his car twirling, what at the time I was sure was a stethoscope. The impression was of someone having a great morning. It was the way my morning had started off. His visible good mood seemed like an affront and I took it personally, letting it draw my anger up and out. I don't use the 'F'-word very often, believing that its casual overuse has diluted its significance, but now I used it multiple times. Something about keeping his "effing eyes on the effing road", something about being an "effing idiot", and... I am sure you get the point.

A minute earlier I had been spinning along Bonita Avenue (Citrus Regional Bikeway) between Towne and Garey. Forced onto my single speed pseudo-cross bike for the day I was spun out at 23 mph. It does not take much for me to reach that point anyway and with only a 38 chainring I was there. A triathlon was taking place at Bonelli Park, a short distance away and just right for the s.s. I had been hopping for a long ride, so last night I considered this last minute change of plans to be "making the best of the situation." By the morning, however, the disappointment had become "ideal." I have never shot a triathlon before and was looking forward to it.

The reverie I was in the midst of as I rolled along the bike lane was broken by the sound of wheels suddenly swerving behind me. There was no time to react in any way before a grey car screamed by twelve inches from my left elbow, right wheels in the bike lane. The first "effing" came out right then. I  believe it was quickly followed by "a-hole" and a lot of throwing my right arm around through the air. My glare tracked his progress along the street until he made a right turn. As luck would have it right into the parking lot for Casa Colina. 

"Ha, I got you, you S.O.B." Winding up the cranks for all they were worth, I sped up the driveway, bunny hopped a couple speed bumps, passed an empty guard shack, and then there he was, the "effing" idiot, looking like he was on top of the world, twirling that stethoscope, oblivious to the mayhem he had nearly caused. It was too much, and I let him know. He just stood there. Dumbstruck. Was he surprised that I would following him in? I wonder now if he even knew I was there in the bike lane. On my bike. Where he should not have been. In his car. Watching the road. Not whatever "effing" thing he was preoccupied with.

Thank goodness for the competition at Bonelli. The energy of the racers and support of the spectators settled my nerves, got the day back on track. It was quite a morning, an inverted bell curve of emotions - two highs sandwiching a low. Dog, I hate people who don't take their responsibility behind the wheel seriously.

Quite often timing is everything - a thought bubble for tomorrow


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