Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

27 June 2017

Does The Driver Hate Cops--Or Cyclists?

Someone wasn't feeling the love in the City of Brotherly Love.

Around 2:30 yesterday morning, three Philadelphia police officers on bicycle arrived at the intersection of I Street and Erie Avenue to help with the arrest of a carjacker.

Suddenly, a black sedan--possibly a Nissan Altima--with tinted windows bore down, at high speed, a group of Philadelphia police officers on bicycle patrol.



Fortunately for the men in blue, they hopped off their bikes before the sedan tangled them into a mess of twisted spokes and sped off.

According to a Philly.com report, "Police said the driver's actions appeared to have been deliberate."  No! Really?  What I'd like to know is whether the driver of the sedan knew the carjacker, or simply had a grudge against cops--or cyclists.

26 June 2017

Receding Waves And Raising Imagination

Another beautiful early summer day means...a ride, of course.  This one took me to Point Lookout.  I pedaled against the wind most of the way out and with it most of the way back.  

When I got back, I talked to my mother and told her I "looked like a tomato."  She asked whether I'd used sunscreen; which, of course, I had.  In fact, both of my stops were for the purpose of applying "beach grease".



What was most striking about the ride, though, was that the tide at the Point had receded further than I'd ever seen before.  I can't recall the sandbars stretching as far and wide as the ones that were exposed yesterday.



Speaking of exposure:  I could just barely see that couple on the sandbar.  It didn't look like they were wearing a whole lot, though it looked like they were doing quite a bit.  One of the things they were doing, of course, was leaving something to the imagnation!

What else might we lose if and when sea levels rise?


24 June 2017

Bike Share In "Dutch" Country

Yesterday, I wrote about two bike-share programs that went bust.

One of them, Pronto, was based in Seattle.  Its demise came as a surprise to some, including yours truly, because Seattle has long had a reputation for all of the things one associates with cities that develop successful share programs.  For one thing, it had an active, vibrant cycling community long before Portland or other cities developed their reputations as two-wheeled utopiae.  For another, it also has a large population of young, educated and creative people:  the very sorts of people who are most likely to be bike riders in urban areas. 



In other words, it seemed to have a lot in common with other cities in Europe and North America where share programs have succeeded.  Some blamed the failure of Pronto on Seattle's climate, which may have been somewhat of a factor, although other places where share programs are popular get as much rain (or as little sunshine, depending on your point of view) as the Emerald City.

When we think of the cities where bike share programs have succeeded, we think first of the US coastal cities and European capitals.  But they have also worked well in "second" cities like Lyon, France (whose "Velo'v" is often cited as a model) and  Hamilton, Ontario.  Even a town like Chattanoga, Tennessee has managed to support a thriving program.

But most people, I think, wouldn't expect to find the ingredients of vibrant cycling communities or successful bike share programs--let alone attempts to develop other kinds of cycling infrastructure--in declining industrial cities like Reading, Pennsylvania (which I mentioned in an earlier post). Or nearby Lancaster.

I have to confess that when I think of Lancaster, I think of the Pennsylvania Amish Country or "Dutch Country".  My family took a trip there every summer, where we would visit farms and the so-called "Dutch Wonderland".  In those days mega-theme parks like Six Flags were either new or in development, the Dutch Wonderland and Hershey Park still could capture a kid's short attention span.

We would simply pass through the city itself which, even then, seemed to consist mainly of factories and old buildings that didn't seem to be used for anything but no one had gotten around to declaring as historic landmarks.  I liked the train station--which served the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads, and now is an Amtrak stop--mainly because I liked trains and the Reading still had some of the old steam locomotives.

But Lancaster, like Reading, has witnessed the loss of its old industries and a population that has grown poorer, darker and older--though, to be fair, not to the same degree as Reading.  Interestingly, Lancaster has earned a new nickname: The City of Refugees.  It's believed that refugees make up a higher percentage of the population in Lancaster than in any other US city.

This is not what one normally associates with cycling:  Indeed, even today, when I ride through blue-collar and immigrant neighborhoods and suburbs of New York, I see no other cyclists. But, when you think about it, such places--like Lancaster and Reading--are exactly where cycling should thrive.  After all, generations of working-class people all over Europe, Asia and other parts of the world were, until recently, the vast majority of the world's cyclists.



So, in a way, we shouldn't be surprised that Lancaster is launching a bike share program.  What surprised me, in reading about it, is the degree to which the city is trying to develop a cycling infrastructure.  While I am not always enthusiastic about bike lanes, it seems that planners are at least trying to make them practical:  They lead to places like the train station and there seems to be some notion that a bike lane isn't just a few lines painted on asphalt or concrete.

Almost nobody believes that Donald Trump can actually deliver on his pledges to revive moribund industries.  After all, even if some company decided to build a steel mill or open a coal mine in Pennsylvania or West Virginia, it would be more automated than the ones that closed.  Thus, fewer workers would be employed--and few, if any, of them would be those men in their 50s and 60s who got laid off during the last economic downturn.  Instead, almost anybody who's not a direct adviser to Trump says that such workers should be retrained in the new technologies of the "green" or "greener" industries.  

It's not as much of a stretch as one might think:  People in industrial and rural areas tend to have more mechanical, and other practical, skills than MBAs or lawyers.  If we think of bicycles as part of the "green" economy, it's not hard to imagine employing workers from a variety of other industries--or simply folks who don't have the aptitude or desire for university--in them.  

One might say that nearby Reading--which I described in an earlier post--is attempting to do that, if on a small scale, with its efforts to make cycling more accessible for the working-class, poor and unemployed of that city.  Such efforts almost inevitably involve employing, directly or indirectly, the very people such programs try to put on bikes.  Perhaps something similar will happen in Lancaster.  If nothing else, as in Reading, Lancaster's new bike share program and infrastructure could make cycling affordable and practical for people who could benefit from it.

23 June 2017

A Lump Of Coal In The Emerald City And The Land Of Jade

A couple of years ago, bike-share programs seemed like "can't-miss" propositions. 

Most municipalities with programs--whether they're funded by cities or corporations, or are not-for-profit organizations, have reported great success.  Share programs have expanded steadily in just about every place they've been introduced, and other cites--some of which you might not connect with cycling--are clamoring to start their own share programs.


Bikes from Pronto, Seattle's late bike-sharing program


One rare exception has been Pronto, Seattle's bike-share program.  It closed on 31 March, citing low ridership.  Several reasons have been cited for the program's failure.  One is that the Emerald City has a mandatory helmet law.  Cyclists who ride without head armor can be fined $102.  More important, getting on a share bike is, as often as not, a spur-of-the-moment decision, and few people carry helmets with them when they're not on bikes.  Many bike-share users are tourists; even those who are active cyclists at home aren't likely to bring helmets with them because, especially if they don't normally wear them.

Three other cities with share programs also have mandatory-helmet laws:  Vancouver and the Australian metropoli of Melbourne and Brisbane.  Share programs in the latter two cities  struggled until they followed Vancouver's lead in including helmets and disposable liners with the bikes.  In 2015, Seattle installed helmet dispensers by the Pronto kiosks, but potential users seemed to find it an inconvenience.

Other factors cited in the Seattle program's failure are the city's terrain and climate.  Now, I can understand why people wouldn't want to pedal a heavy share bike up a hill.  I can even understand why someone wouldn't want to ride in the rain.  But long before Portland became the iconic "bike friendly" city, Seattle had a vibrant cycling community.  In fact, it once boasted more bike shops, per capita, than any other major US city.  The weather didn't seem to put a damper (pun intended) on cycling then, or now.

Then again, I can also understand why a tourist might not want to ride in the rain--especially if he or she is accustomed to more sunshine at home.  If you're used to, say, Florida, and you're only going to be in Seattle for a few days, you might decide to simply wait until you get home to start riding again.

While the causes of the Seattle share program's failures might be debatable, Lei Houyi knows exactly why his bike-share company is closing shop.


These bikes belong to Oko, one of the apps-based Chinese ride-sharing systems.


In contrast with its western counterparts, many Chinese bike-share programs can best be described as "Uber for bikes":  Riders can pick up, or leave, bikes on the streets, without having to look for a port or dock.  Wukong Bikes, based in Chongqin, also followed this model.  But they didn't follow a practice common to other Chinese share companies:  It didn't install GPS devices on their bikes.

The result was all too predictable:  Most of Wukong's 1200 bikes were lost or stolen.  By the time the company realized it needed tracking devices, Houyi said, it was too late:  The bikes were gone and the money had run out.


But, he says, even before his bikes started to disappear, the company was struggling because the bikes were of inferior quality to, and more easily damaged than, those of Ofo and Mobike, the leading Chinese bike-share companies.  The services of those companies are completely app-based.  So, while bikes left in remote locations can still be difficult for customers to locate, they are rarely lost, and when they are damaged, they can be fixed relatively quickly.

So, while I think bike share programs will continue to grow in popularity, they are not "sure-fire bets", even in the most seemingly "bike-friendly" environments, unless technological as well as cultural and legal factors are considered.

22 June 2017

Into The Hole--On A Sugar Rush And Killer Bread!

After the torrential downpours (I could barely see past my window!) on Monday, we've had two days of glorious, sunny weather.  It was warm, but not overly humid, with little wind--except in one part of today's ride:




I saw this same puddle/pond/wetland back in February:



Now, it wasn't my destination.  I just hopped on Tosca, my Mercian fixed-gear, and zigzagged through some side streets between my apartment and Howard Beach.  One of them dead-ended on top of a hill or mound, from which I had a view of the turbid body of water:



It looks to be the same size, shape and depth I saw four months ago.  A group of people--I assumed them to be a family because they were a man, a woman and two young children--were breaking up some concrete and dirt in front of a battered house.  They surprised me with their "hello's"; soon after, a man driving an old BMW eyed me suspiciously.  

But another man, seemed to study me from the trailer colony across the pond, decided (correctly) that I'm not any sort of official and gave me a smile.



The last time I saw this place, I could've sworn a wind blew that I didn't feel before I arrived or after I left.  Today, I had the same sensation.  In fact, I was even more sure of that wind, as it flickered my hair and braced against my bare arms and legs.  The last time I rode down that way, my arms and legs were covered.

Hmm...Could it be that The Hole has its own microclimate?



If what I saw in The Hole was an incongruity or a riddle, something else I saw along the way was a joke:




I looked for the driver of this truck.  I really wanted to ask whether Dave's Killer Organic Bread--which I had never heard of until I saw that truck--was actually being delivered in the same vehicle as Tastykakes.



Perhaps one day I'll try Dave's Killer Bread and, if I survive the experience, tell you about it!  It's organic, so I suppose I'll live through it.  On the other hand, KandyKakes--especially a version they made with chocolate cake and peanut butter--was one of my favorite sugar rushes when I was a little kid.  I liked those butterscotch crimpets, too. 



 Later, when I was riding with a bunch of guys who pedaled hard and treated themselves with, um, non-prescription painkillers, I became an aficionado of Tastykake fruit pies.  I loved their cherry and blueberry pies; I probably would like them today, too, as those are my favorite pies (along with strawberry rhubarb--but, as far as I know, Tastykake has never made that!).  But my favorite--again, for its sugar rush, was their Glazed French Apple.

Of course, Tastykake Glazed French Apple pie is about as French as that bottled bright orange salad dressing sold in big-box stores.  The French aren't shy about sweet flavors, but I don't think they could come up with a sugarbomb like Tastykake Glazed French Apple Pie even if they wanted to.

Although I haven't eaten it in years, I'm still getting a sugar rush from thinking about it.  The apple filling, sugary to begin with, was further sweetened by raisins and I-don't-know-what-else.  And it was topped by a thick strip of that white icing that makes Twinkie fillings seem like grapefruit.

It looks like Tastykake's current French Apple Pie isn't glazed.  Still, I'm sure it would provide quite the sugar rush--maybe almost as intense as a glazed Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tart!

Maybe those Pop Tarts are delivered in the same trucks as Laughing Giraffe Cherry Ginger Granola. (With a name like that, I simply must try it!)

21 June 2017

They Weren't Planning To Have A Funeral For Him

When you raise a kid, you don't plan on having a funeral for him when he's 20.

I remember hearing that when I was about ten years old.   The person who uttered it was a relative of a classmate--who was the younger sister of the 20-year-old in question.

That relative was, of course, trying to deal with the grief he and his family were feeling just after a memorial mass.  Even though he, and others, knew the dangers the 20-year-old faced as a soldier in Vietnam, they were shocked to learn of his death.

I hadn't thought about that episode in a long, long time.  What brought it back for me today was a news story that came my way.  In it, Stephanie Groh Doersam says, "People don't plan to have to do a funeral for a 20-year-old."

She is a friend of Aaron Michael Laciny and his family.  Yes, Laciny is the 20-year-old to whom she is referring.  But what struck him down wasn't mortar fire.  Rather, it was automotive bumpers.  Yes, bumpers in the plural.

Around 10:30 Monday night, he was riding south on Charles Street, near the intersection with Charlesbrooke Road, in Balitmore.   There, a car struck him and drove away from the scene.  

Then a second vehicle struck him.  The driver of that one, at least, stopped and called the police.  But it was too late for Laciny:  He was taken to nearby Greater Baltimore Medical Center, where he died.

According to police, he was wearing a helmet but his bike didn't have lights or reflectors.  They are looking for the first vehicle that struck him, which "may have front-end damage to its bumper."  They are also reviewing private security video footage from the area.

Aaron Michael Laciny


Aaron Michael Laciny had just recently graduated from Baltimore City Community College and was interning at the Johns Hopkins Nano Energy Laboratory, where he was working to design and build new materials for inexpensive solar cells.  Questdrion Threat, a friend and classmate, said that Laciny--who friends jokingly referred to as "Bill Nye", in reference to the television science personality--wanted to "do research that would make the world a better place."

Neither Threat nor Groh Doersam--nor, for that matter, any of Laciny's other friends or family--expected to plan on having a funeral for him.  Or for any other 20-year-old doing nothing more perilous than riding a bike on a Baltimore street at night.

20 June 2017

If It's On Ebay, It May Not Actually Be Legendary

Many of us have gone to eBay in search of some long-out-of-production bike part or accessory--or in the hope of scoring a great deal on something current.  Or, perhaps, we are just looking for something no one else has.

I mean, think of the bragging rights you could have had with a corn flake shaped like the state of Illinois. Nine years ago, the owner of a trivia website bought it--for $1350.  

$1350 for one corn flake! Just think:  For that price, you could've gotten pancakes--yes, pancakes--at the Opus One Restaurant in the Radisson Blu Hotel of Manchester, England.  Of course, they weren't any old pancakes: They were layered with lobster, caviar and truffles, and finished with a Dom Perignon Rose hollandaise sauce.  

But it's not shaped like the state of Illinois, you protest.  All right, then, you probably wouldn't have been interested in some of the other unique items sold on eBay--like a Casey Anthony mask.  Or a hockey team.  

Here's my favorite:  The Meaning Of Life.  That went for a winning bid of $3.26.

Now, since this is a blog about cycling, I'm supposed to stick to the weird bicycle-related stuff, right?  Well, I didn't find anything like Hugo Koblet's comb--or the, um, chronographs used by the Festina team in the 1998 Tour.

But I did find a velodrome.  Well, sort of.  

Here is your one in a lifetime chance to own the one and only legendary* Bomberdome.

At the end of the listing, the asterisk is explained thusly:  may not actually be legendary.  

The "Bomberdome" is based on the so-called Wall of Death, which is billed as a velodrome but really looks (to me, anyway) more like an oval boardwalk built at a 45-degree angle to the ground.  Apparently, the original was built as a circus attraction during the 1930s.  



Five years ago, a UK group that calls itself the Ministry of Bicycles built the "Bomberdome" and showcased it at events all over the country.  Although it can be disassembled, it can't be transported in your SUV or van.  No, it needs its own trailer, included in the sale.  Although the MoB describes that trailer as "VERY dubious", they are quick to add that it "as yet has never let us down".

As I write, there have been 30 bids on the dome and the price is up to 285 GBP.  There are still 4 hours and 21 days left in the auction.  Still, you might get it cheaply enough that you can afford a backyard big enough for it.  You might even find it---where else?--on eBay!

If you want to ride the Bomberdome, you might want to fuel up.  Pancakes?  Corn flakes?


19 June 2017

Two Different Views Of A Good Day

You know it's summer--or close to it--in this part of the world by the fulsome, verdant foliage:



Those trees stand next to the Veterans' Memorial in Greenwich, Connecticut.  Yes, I took a ride there.  Once the rain stopped, around ten o'clock yesterday morning, the sun appeared as if it were in the next frame of a film.  And, while it brightened the day, it also turned the air soupy in short order.

Still, it was a good day for a ride.  Arielle, my Mercian Audax, was ready for anything:





On the other hand, Marlee and Max were ready for only one thing:



I had a great time.  I'm sure they did, too!

18 June 2017

Happy Father's Day!

Some parents talk about their failures in raising their children.  Of course, "failure" can be defined in any number of ways:  Perhaps the child didn't follow the career path the parents wanted.  Or he or she married the "wrong" person or didn't get married at all--or didn't have kids.  Or end up with the lifestyle the parents envisioned.

I have to say, I am guilty on all counts. My career and lifestyle are nothing like what my parents--especially my father--wanted from and for me.  And, yes, I married the "wrong" person--and never married again after that.  But none of that is either of my parents' fault--really.

I will, however, admit there is one area in which I've failed miserably in the making of my parents.  You see, I tried to turn both of them into cyclists--even to the point of giving them bicycles as gifts for some occasion or another.  I don't think my mother ever rode hers (If I recall, it was sold when my parents moved from New Jersey to Florida.) and my father may have ridden a couple of times with me.  Though his bike survived the move, it, too was eventually sold.

So...I can't say that my father (or mother) and I bonded over bike riding.  For that matter, if I recall correctly, I didn't learn how to ride from either of them:  I got those lessons from my grandfather (who died before I turned eight) and an uncle.  

I failed, but I think my parents have forgiven me by now.  A lot has been forgiven, or simply written off as vodka under the bridge, as Alexandr Revva might say. 

(Why did I choose him?  I confess:  He's one of the few Russians whose name I can spell!)

Anyway, in the spirit of father-child relationships, I offer this, from one of my favorite comic-strip series:



Happy Father's Day!

17 June 2017

It's Done--I Think!

My "winter" project is more or less complete.

Back in December, I found a 1981.5 Trek 412 at an estate sale.  It was looking for a good home.  I thought I'd finish it during my January recess from school and ride it during the winter.




Well, as with almost any project, not everything went exactly as planned.  Some parts I'd intended to use didn't fit or work with other parts, and, well, I changed my mind about a couple of things along the way.

I finally got it into rideable (for my purposes, anyway) condition by Spring recess, in April.  And, as I mentioned a few days ago, gearing wasn't quite to my liking--and the crankset (which had been sitting in my parts box for I-don't-know-how-long) stripped when I tried to remove it.  So I had to "destroy it in order to save it", to paraphrase one of the more unfortunate commands of all time.

But now I think the only thing I might change is the bars--to drops. (Actually, I might make this bike "bi" and switch between drops and Porteurs as need, and whim, dictate!)




In putting the bike together, I didn't try to do an "original" or even a "period" restoration.  Instead, I tried to rebuild the bike in the spirit of the original (Yes, I know, that's an extremely elastic term!) while suiting my needs and tastes as a rider.  So, I decided not to refinish the frame (also, in part, because I didn't want to spend the time or expense) and when I didn't use parts that came with the bike, I installed components and accessories from within a few years of when the bike was made--or that at least don't look out of place on a bike of its time.




What that means is that the bike now consists of the following:

Frame and fork-- Trek 412, of Ishiwata 022 tubing.

Headset--  Stronglight A9 roller bearing (came with frame)

Wheels--   Rear:  Specialized sealed bearing hub (made by                                       Sansin) sealed bearing 
                          Sun CR 18 Rim, 700C
                          36 DT spokes, 2.0 straight gauge, 3 cross
                
                  Front:  Suzue sealed bearing hub
                           Sun CR 18 rim, 700 C
                           36 Wheelsmith spokes, 2.0 straight gauge,                                3 cross

                  Continental Gatorskin Hardshell tires, 700 X 32

Crankset--   Shimano A 124 triple (1986 model), triple
                            46/42/28 rings

Derailleurs-- Rear:  SunTour VxS with sealed pulleys
                    Front:  SunTour Spirt (top-normal)
                    Shifters:  SunTour PD-M (racheted)

Freewheel--  SunTour Winner Pro five-speed, 13-26

Chain--         SRAM PC-830

Pedals--        MKS GR-10 Platform (like Lyotard Berthet)
                    MKS "Basket" toe clips
                    Generic leather toe straps

Brakes--        Weinmann Carrera (first version)
                       with Mathauser "Kool Stop" pads
                  
                    Tektro 4.1 inverse levers 

Handlebar--    Velo Orange Porteur 

Stem--           Specialized 9mm, made in Japan (Nitto?)

Seat post--     SR Laprade alloy (came with frame)

Saddle--         Brooks B17

Fenders--       Velo Orange Hammered, 45mm, with flap                              from RuthWorks SF

Rear Rack--     Blackburn Expedition stainless steel

Front Rack--    Nitto M18.

Bottle Cages--  Twofish

Pump--            Zefal Competition, converted

I plan to put a decaleur made by Mark Guglielmana on the stem.  I've been using it on Vera (my Mercian mixte) and like it a lot.  The reason I want to shift it to the Trek is that there isn't enough room under the headset nut for a decaleur (or anything besides a headset spacer).  The Stronglight A9 that came with this bike isn't the original:  Apparently, the original (probably Japanese) had a smaller stack height.  Moving the decaleur will allow me to use my RuthWorks Randonneur bag on this bike.

Rebuilding this bike has been an interesting--and so far worthwhile--experience!


16 June 2017

What It's Really About

We've all seen the "On This Day In History" columns.  I like to look at them:  Sometimes I learn about people and events I never knew before.

For example, I didn't know that on this date in 1903, Ford Motor Company was incorporated, and in 1961, ballet star Rudolf Nureyev defected from his native Soviet Union.

I have long known, however, that quite possibly the most-commemorated events of this date never actually happened.  Yet they will be remembered long after most of the others are forgotten.

I am not talking about the fact that, one year ofter Henry Ford's motor company came to be, one of the most famous writers in history got married.  And he married the most unlikely of people:  someone who had no interest in literature and, when asked by a journalist what she thought of Andre Gide--on the occasion of his winning the Nobel Prize for literature, no less--said, "When you've been married to the greatest writer in the world, you tend to forget the little guys."

The literary spouse in question is Nora Joyce.  And, of course, she was defending the reputation of her beloved Jimmy.

And he wrote a book containing the people and events that are being commemorated today--far more than the founding of FoMoCo or the defection of a ballet dancer.  The events happened on this date in 1904 and, like the people involved in them, were creations of the man who set them down on paper.

Now, you all know no one ever called him "Jimmy".  (At least, I don't think anyone did!)  James Joyce wrote a book that did exactly what he said it would:  It's kept generations of professors, critics and scholars busy arguing over what it's "about".


The truth is (drumroll), his Ulysses is the Seinfeld of modern literature:  It's not about anything at all. At least, not really.  Sure, there are parallels between his characters and those of Greek mythology.  But the stories about the gods and demigods, like all tales embedded in systems of belief, are explicit attempts to explain the meaning and purpose of, if not life itself, then the world around us.  

I can find no such attempt in Joyce's book. When I say that, I don't mean it as a condemnation:  One could (and I have) argued that some of the great works of literature--including no less than Shakespeare's Hamlet-- really aren't "about" anything, except perhaps the foibles of the characters themselves.  

Now, of course, even with all of my erudition (ha!), you shouldn't take only my word.  I am even willing to consider (though not without a fight) that I could be wrong.  You see, the esteemed author of the "Cycling In The South Bay"--whose credentials are impeccable--claims that Ulysses is really a book about bicycling.

On what is this claim based?  CITSB's author offers the following evidence--13 mentions of bicycle or bicycling in the 782-page tome:

  1. “They passed from behind Mr Bloom along the curbstone. Beard and bicycle. Young woman.”
  2. “His eyes followed the high figure in homespun, beard and bicycle, a listening woman at his side.”
  3. “Gerty MacDowell loves the boy that has the bicycle.”
  4. “As per usual somebody’s nose was out of joint about the boy that had the bicycle off the London bridge road always riding up and down in front of her window.”
  5. “W. E. Wylie who was racing in the bicycle races in Trinity college university.”
  6. “But he was undeniably handsome with an exquisite nose and he was what he looked, every inch a gentleman, the shape of his head too at the back without his cap on that she would know anywhere something off the common and the way he turned the bicycle at the lamp with his hands off the bars and also the nice perfume of those good cigarettes and besides they were both of a size too he and she and that was why Edy Boardman thought she was so frightfully clever because he didn’t go and ride up and down in front of her bit of a garden.”
  7. “His right hand holds a bicycle pump.”
  8. “He smites with his bicycle pump the crayfish in his left hand.”
  9. “Love on hackney jaunt Blazes blind coddoubled bicyclers Dilly with snowcake no fancy clothes.”
  10. “He had sometimes propelled her on warm summer evenings, an infirm widow of independent, if limited, means, in her convalescent bathchair with slow revolutions of its wheels as far as the corner of the North Circular road opposite Mr Gavin Low’s place of business where she had remained for a certain time scanning through his onelensed binocular fieldglasses unrecognisable citizens on tramcars, roadster bicycles equipped with inflated pneumatic tyres, hackney carriages, tandems, private and hired landaus, dogcarts, ponytraps and brakes passing from the city to the Phoenix Park and vice versa.”
  11. “of course hes mad on the subject of drawers thats plain to be seen always skeezing at those brazenfaced things on the bicycles with their skirts blowing up to their navels even when Milly and I were out with him at the open air fete”
  12. “pretending to read out the Hebrew on them I wanted to fire his pistol he said he hadnt one he didnt know what to make of me with his peak cap on that he always wore crooked as often as I settled it straight H M S Calypso swinging my hat that old Bishop that spoke off the altar his long preach about womans higher functions about girls now riding the bicycle and wearing peak caps and the new woman bloomers God send him sense and me more money”
  13. “can Milly come out please shes in great demand to pick what they can out of her round in Nelson street riding Harry Devans bicycle at night”
QED

Actually, I am rather willing (Is there such a thing?) to accept that writer's claim, especially after stumbling over this:



Jim Joyce, eh?  Well, even if he'd used a less-obvious pseudonym, all of those critics and professors and commentators he wanted to keep busy would have found him out sooner or later, don't you think?  ;-)

15 June 2017

Ring Around With Bikesphere

When you're in the big city, it's all about being seen.

I'm not talking about the paparazzi spotting you in a trendy Meatpacking District bar or along a Paris boulevard--although I could be.  Rather, I am referring to cycling along a city's streets and byways, especially at night.


These days, most of us are using "blinkies" attached to our helmets, bags or bikes.  On most urban thoroughfares, brighter is better, as you want to stand out among the streetlights, neon signs and other sources of ambient urban light.  Many of us have also taken to wearing reflective vests over our clothing.  There are also all sorts of other accessories made of reflective materials we can use.


Now Michelin--yes, that Michelin--has come up with a new and possibly better way of making us more visible to drivers and others.  





Its new "Bikesphere" is a "smart" device that attaches to the handlebars.  It has light and proximity sensors that analyze what's going on around the cyclist.  If a car approaches, it laser-projects a red ring of light around the cyclist.  As the car draws closer, the projection intensifies and is more visible to both the cyclist and motorist.





This beacon is meant to show a "safe" distance between the motorist and cyclist.  According to Michelin, more than t 20 percent of drivers don't honor this distance--usually because they don't realize how close they actually are to a cyclist--and cause more than 5000 avoidable crashes every year.


In daylight, and in good-visibility conditions, Bikesphere saves its batteries and activates only its shining "position lights".


Bikesphere is the first product to come out of Michelin's Trendy Drivers movement, which crowdsources ideas and provides funding for them.  Currently, Bikesphere is not available for sale, and Michelin has not yet given as to when it might be.




14 June 2017

I Am A Robber And A Loser. But Do I Deserve This?

I'm all for trying to reform and rehabilitate offenders--until, of course, the offense is against me.  Then I want to throw the book at the offender!

All right, that's an exaggeration--but only somewhat.  Even the most fervent advocate of capital punishment does not believe it should be used against, say, thieves.  (At least I hope and assume that's the case!)  But, hey, when someone steals from us, especially something we love and depend on--our bikes,  that person becomes Jack The Ripper, John Dillinger and Willie Sutton all rolled up into one.  And we want to see that person punished--and get our bikes back.

Now, of course, we have different ideas as to what constitutes appropriate punishment for a bike thief.  A relative of mine believes that "we should do like they do in Saudi Arabia" and cut off the hands of thieves.  

(By the way, that practice, as barbaric as it is, actually isn't as common as my relative and others seem to think it is.)

Of course, I don't advocate anything like that.  At least, I haven't favored it since I calmed down from the last bike theft I suffered.  And there are some punishments that I think are too extreme even for bike thieves:




Now, I don't read Portuguese, but I understand enough French, Spanish and Italian to figure out that the 17-year-old boy's forehead tatoo reads something like, "I am a robber and a loser."  The AP translated it as "thief and loser", but the tatoo artist fancied himself as a bit of a poet:  "ladrao" rhymes with "vacilao", which is why I chose "robber".

The "branding" was indeed done by a 27-year-old tatoo artist, one Maycon Wesley Carvalho dos Reis. (Say that three times fast!) His friend, 29-year-old bricklayer Ronildo Moreira de Araujo, caught the boy trying to steal a bike in a city near Sao Paolo, Brazil.  When de Araujo and dos Reis were arrested, they said they were trying to teach the boy, and all thieves, a lesson.

The boy has been unnamed because Brazilian law prohibits the press from identifying minors.  Jurisprudence in the land of Ordem e Progresso also defines torture--the charge against de Araujo and dos Reis-- as a "heinous" crime, meaning its perpetrators cannot be released on bail. 

They were caught thanks to someone who captured them on a cellphone video when they apprehended the teenaged would-be thief.  As for that boy:  Volunteers have set up an internet funding page to raise money for his tatoo removal.

Now, I think what those men did was just a bit much.  Just a bit.  And I suspect that I'll feel that way--at least, as long as I don't lose another bike of mine to some thief! ;-) 

13 June 2017

A Trek Through The Heat Wave

The weather has been so strange this year.   February was warmer than April (or so it seemed), and after a spell of summer-like heat and sun in the middle of last month, skies turned gray and the air as chilly as that of early spring.  Now we are experiencing a heat wave:  For the third day in a row, the temperature topped 90F (32C).  

So I packed a mini-picnic lunch and rode to the most logical place:  the water--to the ocean, to be more exact.  I took a familiar route down to Rockaway Beach and along the south shore of Queens and Brooklyn to Coney Island, and along the Verrazano Narrows and East River back to my place.  In all, I did about 85 kilometers of riding.



And I took my winter-project Trek for the ride.  I've made a couple of changes on it, both of which turned out for the better.

For one thing, I converted the double chainring setup to a triple.  Actually, the crank is made for triples, but I had originally used  "Gran Fondo" 46/30 gearing on it, with a 46 in the middle position and a BBG bashguard/chainguard replacing the outer chainring.  



After a couple of rides, I remember why we used to ride half-step gearing.   If you ride, say, a 12-25 or even a 12-27 nine-speed cassette, the differences between the gears aren't nearly as great as they are on almost any five-speed freewheel, except for the "corncob"  (a.k.a. "straight block) ratio--which, at my age and given the fact that I'm long past racing, I will never use.



As it happens, I've been riding a 12-25 nine-speed on Arielle, my Mercian Audax.  On the other hand, the Trek now has a 13-26 five-speed freewheel, with between-gear gaps nearly twice as wide as those on the nine-speed cassette.  So, the 46 tooth chainring gives a 3.54 ratio (or, a 95.5 gear), while the next cog--15 tooth--provides a ratio of 3.06 (82.8).  I find ratios in the 3.2 to 3.4 range very useful--at least, that's what I often ride on Arielle (48 tooth chainring with 15- or 14-tooth cog).  



Now, I know the Trek is inherently a heavier bike with somewhat more relaxed geometery, and that I've added racks and fenders to it.  Still, I missed having gears in the 3.2 to 3.4 range.  So, I added a third chainring to the front:  a 42 tooth in the middle, with the 46 tooth in the outer position.  



Now it will just be a matter of re-acclimating myself to more frequent front shifts than I've become accustomed to making.  On Arielle, and even on Vera, my Mercian mixte (which has a 46-30 setup), I almost always ride the larger chainring.  



The other change I've made to the Trek is the brakes.  The Weinmann 605s, especially with the Mathauser Kool-Stop pads, were fine.  But I got a good buy on a lightly-used set of Weinmann Carreras.  I noticed the difference (also with Mathauser Kool-Stop pads) immediately:  The Carreras have a firmer, more positive, feel.  I think it's mainly a result of their beefier arms.  Next to the 605s, they're a bit clunky. But the Carreras have a nice finish, which looks especially good next to the hammered fenders, I think.



I may make one more change to this Trek.  I like the way they look with the Velo Orange Porteur bars, but I get the feeling the bike is really made for dropped bars.  And, now that Helene is gone, I've thought about returning the Porteur bars to Vera.  While Vera's been fine--not surprisingly, a bit more aggressive--with dropped bars, I liked her ride with the Porteurs.  And I liked the way she looked with them, too!

Then I have to name the Trek.