Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

31 March 2018

A Harvard Debate On Bicycles

Students in universities like Harvard are known to probe for answers to all sorts of deep questions.

At least, in popular imagination, they are. 

(At this point, the Harvard graduates of my acquaintance might stop reading this post--or reading this blog altogether.  "There's no other university like Harvard!" they would protest.)

OK...So what sorts of questions might they ponder? Ones about the nature of the universe?  The meaning of life?

How about this:  Should the school's undergraduate council help to subsidize bicycle purchases at local shops for low-income students?  Or should the Council buy those bicycles and rent them on an annual basis?

(And here I thought Harvard didn't have low-income students.  Then again, to be fair, I should point out that Harvard's tuition is less than that of other Ivy League schools!)

However Council members discussed the subsidy-vs.-rental issue, they at least recognize that bicycles are important for students.  Some, of course, use them for transportation.  But Council representative Rainbow Yeung (With a name like that, she should be in Naropa University!) pointed out that bicycles can "definitely positively (Is that the Crimson way of saying "totally, absolutely"?) impact a lot of students' mental health."

A Harvard bicycle. Actually, it's a 1936 Rollfast "Harvard".  I know it has nothing, besides the name, to do with this article.  But I love the way it looks!


So she and the Council have good intentions, at least.  But those who oppose the subsidy idea believe that purchasing bikes and renting them out to students would "take away the upfront costs and make sure it stays within the community," in the words of representative Victor Agfabe.  On the other hand, proponents of the subsidy say that maintaining a fleet of bikes "makes it clear that, oh, here are the UC bikes for the students on financial aid," according to fellow representative Amanda Flores.

The two sides debated, as such folk are wont to do.  And, last week, they took a vote.  In the end, they went with the subsidies.  The Undergraduate Council decided to allocate $3000, of which any one qualifying student can receive $50.  

Students may also use their money to purchase a skateboard or scooter.  I have to wonder, though, how much skateboard, scooter or bicycle they can buy for $50:  they are all just about as expensive in the Boston area as they are here in New York!

30 March 2018

A Move To The Left Too Late?

Most streetside bike lanes I've seen on one-way streets are on the right side of the street and demarcated by painted lines and arrows.

The latter feature makes them only marginally, if at all, safer than the street itself for cyclists.  That is something those of us who cycle on a near-daily basis have long known and some planners are beginning to acknowledge.  On the other hand, the hazards of the other part of the equation--lane placement--haven't been as well-recognized.


The fact that the Spruce Street bike lane runs along the corridor's right side may have cost 24-year-old Emily Fredericks her life.  The pastry chef was pedaling to work in Philadelphia's Center City when a garbage truck moving in the same direction turned right from Spruce to 11th Street.


Ms. Fredericks discovered, the hard way, what makes crossing a busy intersection from a bike lane on the right side of the street so hazardous.  Too often, drivers--who, in the US (as in most of the world) are on the left side of their vehicles--have difficulty seeing cyclists or anyone else to the right of their vehicles.  That is especially true if the vehicle is large, like a garbage truck. 


Now Philadelphia city officials, who say they aren't merely reacting to Ms. Fredericks' death, are looking to "flip" bicycle and parking lanes:  the former would move to the left, and cars would be parked on the right.  According to Sarah Clark Stuart, president of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, such a change would allow drivers to "see the bicyclist better because the blind spot is going to be much narrower."  She also wants to see physical barriers constructed but the city's proposal doesn't call for that.  But, she says, her organization supports it because at least the new lane configuration would provide some safety benefits quickly while allowing additional protections later on.





That does indeed sound like a good idea, at least as far as it goes.  While a cyclist crossing an intersection or making a left turn from a left-hand lane wouldn't be in as much danger as a cyclist making the same moves from a right-hand lane,  painted lines aren't going to protect cyclists (or, for that matter, pedestrians) from a driver that swerves or veers out of the motor lane.  Also, I don't think "flipping" lanes negates the need for cyclists or pedestrians to cross intersections ahead of motorized traffic.  That is really the only way a motorist who is turning in the same direction as the location of the lane will see a cyclist (or pedestrian) who is crossing an intersection.


So, for now, it looks like the City of Brotherly Love is embracing cyclists--with one arm.

29 March 2018

A New Low In Bike Theft?

Adding insult to injury

Stealing from the grave


No honor among thieves


Any one of those dreary cliches applies, at least somewhat, to what I'm about to report.


In Fullerton, California a 65-year-old woman was walking her bicycle across Brookhurst Street, just south of Valencia Drive (one of the area's main corridors), the other morning.  A 2015 black Mazda sedan was traveling southbound on Brookhurst and had just crossed Valencia when it smacked into the woman.




To her credit, the driver--a 26-year-old woman--has cooperated with investigators.  She did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  And, in her defense, looking at a map and street view lead me to believe eyewitness and police accounts that say the woman with the bicycle wasn't in a crosswalk when she tried to get to the other side of Brookhurst from the Fullerton Armory.


Here is where the story gets considerably murkier:  When police and paramedics arrived, the bicycle was missing.  According to police Sergeant John Radus, it was stolen.  He says that his department wants it for evidence.


Of course, being the skeptical New Yorker that I am, I have to ask:  When, exactly, was it stolen?  Did the driver--who remained at the scene--see the theft or, more to the point, the thief?  


Since it seems unlikely, to say the least, that the bike simply vanished, I would believe that it was stolen by somebody.  


That woman with the bicycle was was crossing just after 6 am:  when residents of the Armory, which is a homeless shelter, are required to leave.  If that woman was homeless--as seems likely--she may not have had much else besides that bike.  


Could this be a new low in bike theft?







28 March 2018

Into Daylight--More Of It

How do you know it's Spring?

Well, the weather hasn't been in tune with the season, at least in these parts.  But I can see more daylight in each day--to the point that early morning commutes beginning in darkness pass through the sunrise and end in early morning light, all within the space of not much more than half an hour.



So, you ask, what am I doing on such early commutes?  Well, two days a week, I have 8 am classes and I like to arrive early to prepare my lessons, and myself.



The early morning ride certainly helps!

27 March 2018

In The Middle Of My Third Millenium...

Last week it was a brand-new "dream" bike.

This week....a milestone!



You are now looking at post #2500 on this blog.  If you're here now, thank you!  If you've been reading for a while now, more thanks.  And if you've read all 2500 of my posts...well, you deserve something.  What, I don't know.  ;-)



Anyway, it's been a lot of fun and that has kept me going.  I hope to have many more rides and learn more stuff that will give me material for many more blog posts.



Thanks for taking the ride with me!

26 March 2018

Mud To The Nutmeg State

Mud, mud, mud everywhere.



That's what I saw.  Or so it seemed.  Of course, if I were in England, the low countries, northern France--or parts of New England--I'd be thinking "cyclocross"!

Actually, I thought about that, but of course I would be a spectator:  My racing days are long past, and at my age, I don't want to risk injuries from climbing fences, jumping rocks and such.

I was happy, though, to take a ride to Connecticut the other day.  Although we've had below-average temperatures for this time of year (It hasn't reached 10C, or 50F), the sky was clear.  And it is spring, at least officially.

But it's  also still March--which means, of course, I had wind.  As it blew from the east and northeast, I pedaled into it nearly all the way up.  And, yes, they were March winds all right:  30-40 KPH (19-25MPH) much of the way.

Needless to say, it felt good to arrive--with the season,it seemed.  With the new season came some odd contrasts--along Greenwich Avenue, folks seemed to be in defiance of the season--as fashionably as they could--in bright colors, light jackets and, on some feet, flip-flops.  They seemed even odder, almost surreal, in walking past the Veterans' Memorial across from Town Hall.




Somehow it fits a commemoration of the dead from three wars. (The block in the photo is for Vietnam; the other parts of the memorial recall those who died in the Korean War and World War II.)  Some would say the flowers and buds that will soon adorn the trees and ground more fitting reminders--of, according to some, the sacrifices for generations that follow them.  Or perhaps they are a way to forget the pain.

In any event, I know it's the very, very beginning of spring because there was mud everywhere.  At least I had the wind at my back for most of my way home!

25 March 2018

It's All In The Details



I did!

When I was deciding on how to outfit Dee-Lilah, my new Mercian Vincitore Special, I thought about everything.

I was going to use a brown Brooks Team Pro saddle I have on hand.  But then I saw the same saddle in Maroon (sort of like a pair of cordovan/oxblood loafers I had) on Craigslist.  Brooks made a limited edition in that color a few years ago, so I knew I wasn't likely to see it again.

I figured that since Dee-Lilah is going to be unique, she should have a saddle in a color I chose just for her!

24 March 2018

Connecting The Lanes In Rubber City

One of my pet peeves about bike lanes is that, too often, they go to and from nowhere, or they begin or end without warning.  So they are essentially useless for urban cyclists who want to commute or do any sort of utility riding.  Bike lanes like those certainly won't make cycling a viable alternative to driving or even mass transportation, at least for most people.

Well, the folks at Copenhagenize design of Montreal (which actually has a coherent system of lanes) seem to understand.  Best of all, a city here in the good ol' U.S. of A. is hiring them to create a "cycling grid" that will allow cyclists to get to and from their homes, workplaces, schools and places where they shop and enjoy their recreations.

Granted, that city isn't as big as Montreal or Copenhagen--or my beloved Big Apple.  But I couldn't help but to feel good that the Copenhagenize consultants have been brought into the hometown of a favorite bike blogger of mine.




I am talking about Akron, Ohio, were resides one "Retrogrouch".  Mayor Dan Horrigan has announced that a $127,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will be used to hire the folks at Copenhagenize.  They have agreed to take on the task of connecting the city's existing 25 miles of bike paths and another 16 that are expected to go online soon. 

The biggest challenge, according to the consultants, will be to decide which of the Akron's streets should be conduits for cyclists traveling between the city's major bike trails.  The goal, according to the mayor, is not only tourism, recreation and exercise, but also to make viable routes for bicycle commuters.  

I haven't been to Akron.  But I can't help but to think Horrigan is looking to nearby Pittsburgh, which has made strides in recent years toward becoming a "bike-friendly" city.  Like many other cities, Pittsburgh simply can't build more streets and would be hard-pressed to construct more highways.  And it can hardly fit more vehicular traffic into its streets than it already has.   People in the mayor's office seem to have noticed as much, and how the erstwhile Steel City is becoming a center for higher education, medicine, high technology and other industries that employ educated professionals--in short, a smaller inland version of Boston.  And, also in short, a city full of people who see the practical as well as the psychological and physical benefits of cycling to work or school, or for fun.

Perhaps Mayor Horrigan is thinking about how Akron might transition from being the Rubber City to something else altogether.  Whatever it becomes, it should be welcoming and accomodating to cyclists, according to Horrigan.  "To truly become a bike-friendly city, Akron needs a core network of connected bike lanes that will link our neighborhoods to key destinations and business districts across the city," he said in a press release.  Those lanes need to be "safe and welcoming for all users, and designed with input from the residents and stakeholders they serve," he added.

23 March 2018

All About Dee-Lilah

I'm waiting for the snow and ice to clear so I can take Dee-Lilah, my new Mercian Vincitore Special, out for another ride.  I'd also like the chance to take newly-painted Tosca, my Mercian fixed-gear out for a spin.

Meantime, though, I'll tell you a bit about Dee-Lilah.




She's made of Reynolds 853 tubing.  The geometry is just slightly different from that of Arielle, my Mercian Audax.  Both frames have 55.5 cm seat tubes and 53.5 cm top tubes.  But while Arielle has a very traditional sport-touring design of parallel 73 degree angles at the head and seat tubes, Dee-Lilah has a slightly steeper seat angle, at 74 degrees, and a slightly shallower head tube angle of 72.  This allows for the response I like in the rear combined with a bit more comfort in front. Also, it will make for better handling when I start using a bag on the front rack. 


If Arielle felt like a magic carpet, Dee-Lilah feels like a cloud with jet propulsion. I know, I've only ridden Dee-Lilah twice for a total of just under 100 miles.  But I definitely feel differences, however subtle, between her and my other Mercians.  And they are subtle differences I wanted when I ordered the frame.

Anyway, here is how Dee-Lilah is kitted out:


Wheels:  
  • Phil Wood hubs, 36 hole rear, 32 hole front
  • Mavic Open Pro Rims, Velox rim tape
  • DT Competition Spokes, 14/15 ga.
  • Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tires, 700X28


Drivetrain:  

  •   Sugino Alpina Cranks, 110 BCD, 170mm length
  •  Specialties TA Syrius chaninrings, 48/36
  •  Phil Wood square-axle bottom bracket, 108 mm
  •  SRAM PC-991 chain
  •  Shimano Ultegra 9 speed cassette, 12-25
  •  Shimano Dura-Ace rear derailleur, w/sealed pulleys
  •  Shimano Dura-Ace front derailleur
  •  Shimano Dura-Ace downtube shift levers
  •  MKS Urban Platform pedals w/MKS "basket" toe clips and Velo Orange Grand Cru straps
Steering:
  • Nitto Mod. 177 "Noodle" handlebars, 42 cm 
  • Nitto NP (Pearl) stem, 11 cm
  • Chris King 2Nut headset
Braking:
  • Shimano R650 brakes w/Mathauser-Kool Stop salmon pads
  • Cane Creek SCR-5 levers
Seating:
  • Brooks Team Professional, Maroon (cordovan/oxblood)
  • Nitto 65 ("Crystal Fellow") seat post, 27.2

Other items:
  • Sugino chromed seat binder bolt
  • Newbaum's Eggplant purple cloth handlebar tape
  • Rustines handlebar plugs (like Velox)
  • Nitto M18 front rack
  • Andrew King "Iris" stainless steel water bottle cages
  • Crane bell on Velo Orange spacer


Dee-Lilah is designed so that, if I like, I can add fenders and/or a rear rack if I decide to, say, take her on a tour. But I had her built mainly with day trips in mind, and my first such ride with her has been a joy. 

In all, I have tried to combine my color preferences and my love of traditional bike aesthetics with what is practical for me.  So far, it all seems to have balanced out nicely!

Speaking of aesthetics:  Dee-Lilah's main color is Lilac (hence her name) Polychromatic (#17 on the Mercian colour chart) set off with a head tube and seat panel in Deep Plum Pearl (#56).


                           

22 March 2018

Slush On The Tracks

The sky I saw on my way to work the other day was exactly what I thought:  the harbinger of an early-spring snowstorm.

That, in and of itself, is not so unusual in this part of the world.  It closed schools--and the college in which I teach yesterday.  The brunt of the storm, though, bore down on us in the evening and through the night.


It was my least favorite kind of storm.  Instead of puffy mounds of white powder, we got piles of slush and sheets of ice.  The latter could make cycling to work hazardous, so I resorted to other forms of transport:






Oh well!





21 March 2018

A Cycle Of Karma?

One of the most depressing things that can happen to us is the theft of our bikes.

Just as dispiriting as the loss of something we love and depend on is the realization that we probably won't see it again and, it seems, nobody who isn't a cyclist cares.  We report our losses to the police and other authorities and they tell us that we're not likely to get our wheels back--which is another way of saying they have other fish to fry.

Perhaps the best most cyclists can hope for is what Amanda Needham experienced.

The Brooklyn resident's bike, which she rode to work, was stolen from the front of her house on 3 March. After finding empty space where her machine had been, she took some cardboard and yellow paint to make a sign she would post in that spot.




It begins, "To the person who stole my bike:  I hope you need it more than me."  She follows with a lament about how she depended on it and what it cost her.  "Next time, steal. Or not steal," is how her plea ends.

That sign stood for five days before she heard a knock at her door. She thought it was a delivery. Indeed, it was, but not one she was expecting:  a stranger bearing a used kid's bike with a flat tire.  

A few days later, she got another knock on her door.  This time, an older woman greeted her with a hug and told her if she found another bicycle, she'd bring it to her.  

Not surprisingly, Ms. Needham was touched. "These people were visibly poor and giving from what they had," she said.  But they didn't prepare her for what--or, more specifically, who--came by later.  Steven Powers, an antiques dealer, was riding by and saw her sign.  He posted a photo of it on Instagram and, just as he was thinking of offering to buy her sign--for $200, what she paid for the used bike-- another dealer in the UK offered to split the cost.  "That was the little push I needed," he said.

The sign, he said, is "graphically interesting."  But most important, he believed, is that her message "wasn't angry."

Needham used that $200 to buy another bike.  Before she did that, though, she took the kids' bike to Court Cycles, a local repair shop owned by mechanic Ms. JoAnne Nicolosi.  She offered to repair the bike for free, and Amanda offered to set up her shop on social media.  They now plan to raffle the machine, dubbed #karmacycle, for free later this month.

While she isn't glad she lost her bike, Ms. Needham is happy to have met the people she's met.  Most important, though, is not that she lost her wheels or "got a secondhand bike for someone else."  Rather, she says, she just wants people to "remember that those tiny acts can really go a long way."


20 March 2018

What The Season Will Spring On Us

Five hours before the vernal equinox, I was pedaling the Randall's Island Connector on my way to work.  As the season was almost-but-not-quite Spring (at least officially), it was almost-but-not-quite morning.



If those clouds look more wintry than spring-like, well,that's because they are.  According to the weather forecast, the a nor'easter is going to be sprung on us tonight--and leave a few inches, perhaps even a foot, of snow in its wake.

I'm so glad I took Dee-Lilah out the other day.  She's not seeing any action until the snow and slush clear:  I'm not going to muck up that nice, new paint job!

19 March 2018

Say Hello To Dee-Lilah

I suppose Bill still falls into the category of "new friend" and "new riding buddy".  After all, I've known him only since October.

Yesterday he met my latest friend.  Now you are going to meet her, too.

Here is Dee-Lilah:





Yes, she is the Mercian Vincitore Special I ordered back in May.  Actually, she arrived a week ago and Hal, at Bicycle Habitat, assembled her for me.  I rode her home that evening. But work, other commitments and lousy weather kept me from riding her again until yesterday.

Before meeting up with Bill, I took her for a spin of about 17 kilometers.  That whetted my appetite for more time with her.




Our ride took us through a variety of vistas: spires and windows that justify Brooklyn's nickname "The Borough of Churches", neat row houses in western Queens, the nearly suburban abodes to the east, opulent estates that look out onto the bay and ocean from the Five Towns and the more ramshackle places on the way to the boardwalk at Far Rockaway.

My ride with Bill spanned about 115 kilometers.  So, in all, Dee-Lilah's second ride took me for 130 kilometers, or about 75 miles, of pleasure.





Even with such varied visuals around me, I could hardly keep myself from looking at her.  I mean, I still can't help but to marvel at this bottom bracket:







or these lugs:






All right, I know it's a bit presumptuous to say how beautiful one's own bike is.  But, on my way to meet up with Bill, a couple of guys were wheeling two pricey mountain bikes with all the latest gadgets off a curb.  They stopped themselves, and asked me to stop so they could marvel at my bike.




And, I was about four blocks from my apartment when another guy was getting out of his car and stopped to express his admiration.




It was a bit difficult to stand the bike anywhere, as the day was windy. (It's March, after all!)  But I think Bill got some nice shots of the head tube and other features of the bike.




I'll devote another post to more technical details for the bike.  For now, I'll just say the bike is very aerodynamic.  It must be:  I felt like I was flying. 







Welcome, Dee-Lilah!



18 March 2018

A Tale Of The Tape

I forget who said, "The best lock is the human eye."  That person obviously had no stock in Citadel, Kryptonite, Abus or any other company that makes the things we use to fasten our bikes to lamp posts, parking meters, fences and other immobile objects.  That person would have known better:  Any security device created by humans can be foiled by humans.

(Now, about that wall...)

So..what are we to do if we have to leave our bikes on the street and want to find it when we return? 

Also:  How do we protect our beloved machines from the elements?

Well, it seems that someone has created a solution from that all-purpose material--duct tape


17 March 2018

The Ghost Of St. Patrick Bike

In New York and other cities around the world, one can find "ghost bikes".  They usually look something like this



and are dedicated to cyclists who were struck by motor vehicles at or near the spot where the "ghost" stands.

They are indeed solemn reminders of the dangers we face.  But why can't we have more monuments to show the joys of riding--or at least the spirit of cyclists

From Chrispins



especially Irish ones.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

16 March 2018

My Shimona

I'll never forget the guy who just couldn't wait to show me the "deal" he got--on Canal Street.  For ten dollars, he got himself the watch he always wanted--in gold, no less.  

That timepiece of his dreams was a "Roxel".


Was that name the fruit of a counterfeiter's creativity--or dyslexia?  I asked myself the same question when I saw this:





"Shimona" bike parts have been showing up on bikes purchased online--mainly under the "Aspen" brand.  The typeface on the disc in the photo is all but indistinguishable from that of Shimano.  I wonder how many people didn't catch the "typo."


Is the same person responsible for "Roxel" and "Shimona"?  Or was the person who came up with the latter name listening to song from a late-70s one-hit wonder.  I'm talking, of course, about "My Shimona":



15 March 2018

Stephen Hawking Gets A Bum's Rush From Limbaugh's Mind (Such As It Is)

Here is another reason to Beware the Ides of March.

All right, so this happened yesterday.  What am I talking about?


More to the point, what was he talking about?


Rush Limbaugh commemorated the death of Stephen Hawking as only he could have:  by casting doubt on one of the great physicist's main contributions to science.


To wit, the radio loudmouth asks whether we can really know that the Big Bang happened if nobody was there to see it:




I'll admit I'm just a college dropout radio guy, okay?  I'm not a professional physicist.  I'm not a professional scientist.  I do not own a lab coat, white or light blue.  So they tell me that the Big Bang is where everything began.  Hawking says it's the Big Bang and we're still expanding.


Now, I won't make any snarky comments about Rush Limbaugh using the word "expand."  But I will say that the man accomplished something few, if any, of us could have.  For one thing, he made Ken Ham seem like a rigorous thinker, if not an out-and-out intellectual.  And he managed to show us what it's like when The Smartest Person In The World has shade thrown on him by the Damndest Ass In America.


Oh, dear Stephen Hawking, you deserve so much better.  Rest In Peace.  



An Ides Of March Vehicle

Even though it's been the background commercial for countless car ads, I still love it.

Even though I now consider myself a feminist I can forgive lyrics like these:


   I'm a friendly stranger in a black sedan 

   Won't you hop inside my car 
   I got pictures, got candy
   I'm a lovable man 
   And I can take you to the nearest star

even if I would tell my kids (if I'd had any) not to go near any man who said anything like that--if for no other reason than their sheer cheesiness.


Then again, I never actually heard the lyrics until long after I first heard the song on the radio, when I was about 11 years old.  I mean, why would I, when they're accompanied by some of the best horn riffs in a popular song on this side of "Hold On, I'm Coming."


I'm talking about a song called "Vehicle", which made it all the way to #2 on the Billboard charts in May 1970.  




So why am I mentioning it today?  Well, the group who recorded it was known as The Ides of March.  One of its members, Jim Peterik, would later write "Eye of the Tiger" for the Rocky movies.


And his songs are published by Bicycle Music.  Pretty ironic, isn't it, for a song about a guy trying to use his car to pick up girls?

   

14 March 2018

A Tide? Or A Trail?

In another life, my daily commute will take me along a seacoast and the tides will roll in, leaving their garland of foam on a neck of sand, as I pedal by.

Or I might pass by pates of snow perched on bald shoulders of rock as vapor trails stream above me--or behind me! ;-)

Then again, in another life I might not commute:  All of my rides will be for the sake of riding.  Dream on!



This morning I contented myself with seeing white streaks drifting and dissipating in Hell Gate.  It's not a bad way to start the morning. Hey, at least I get to ride my bike to work.  Not everybody here in the US can do that!


13 March 2018

He Rode Into Town--And Liberated It

How was your ride today?

Oh, it was fine.  I liberated a town.

I've never had a conversation quite like that.  The fellow who did had every right to any honors and accolades he may have received--even if they made him blush.

Somehow, though, I don't think Angus Mitchell would have been one of the parties. At least, he probably wouldn't have uttered "I liberated a town", even though it was true.



The Scotsman took command of his squadron after its leader was killed in a scout car just 50 yards from where he stood.   Then he was shot at himself, but the bullet glanced off a bronze periscope, sending bits of metal toward his face and injuring him.

After a brief recovery, he returned to his unit and was ordered to advance to a railway line near the Maas River, just outside the Dutch town of Boxmeer.  There, he decided to ditch the squadron's armored vehicles in favor of bicycles so the Royal Air Force wouldn't mistakenly bomb him and his fellow soldiers.  

He entered the town on his bicycle--alone--and found the enemy had retreated to a small village just outside the town.  Then he called down an attack and defeated the remaining German soldiers, thus liberating the town and its surrounding area.



For his exploits, he would be decorated by three different countries:  the United Kingdom would reward him with its Military Cross, the Netherlands would make him a Ridder (Knight) in the Dutch Order of Oranje-Nassau and France would bestow its Legion d'Honneur medal upon him.

He says he played a "small part" in the war, but the citizens of Boxmeer were grateful for it--enough so that he was invited back some 50 years later.

Angus Mitchell outlived most of them:  A little more than two weeks ago, on 26 February, he passed away, at the age of 93.  To say that his life was a journey would be an understatement and a cliche at the same time:  He took one bike ride that no doubt saved lives and changed others--including, I'm sure, his own.



12 March 2018

I Am Such A Menace!

I guess I shouldn't be surprised to read another article that vilifies cyclists.

Most such drivel blames cyclists for traffic jams and all matter of quality-of-life issues in a city because, if they are to be believed, we all run red lights and run over someone's grandma who's carrying a puppy or a kitten she just took in from the shelter.

Well, there's a new twist on this theme today, in the Washington Post blog.  It starts like this:

  Scenes of Washington life include pedestrians on the streets with headphones, or cell phones or perhaps a purse.  The city's streets are also home to bicycles and bike riders.  And every now and then the pedestrians and the bicyclists do not mix well.

Its author, Martin Weil uses this opener as a Jaws-style setup:  Just as some unwitting swimmer has a cut or barely-concealed body part (a breast, perhaps) that causes the shark to smack its lips and think "LUNCH!", those poor, innocent pedestrians' head phones, cell phones and purses are bait for bad, bad people on bikes.

A real menace 2 society!


Yes, Mr. Weil writes about a string of purse- (and head- and cell-phone) snatchings committed by...a guy on a bike.  Specifically, a young guy or adolescent male on a bike.

Well, I guess I'll have to watch for that when I'm off my bike and crossing a street.  But at least it's good to know that, as a middle-aged woman, I don't fit the profile of the perps Mr. Weil describes.

Now I'm going to tell you a secret:  That's the reason I changed my gender.  I didn't want to seem like the sort of menacing young urban male who preys upon unsuspecting pedestrians at busy intersections! :-)  Heck, I don't even fit the profile of scofflaw cyclists who run red lights and run over old ladies with puppies and kittens.  After all, I really can't bring myself to harm someone when I look at someone and that person is a mirror.