31 August 2021

How Many?

 An unfortunate fact of our lives is that we don’t have to wait very long or look very far to hear or read about a cyclist injured or killed by a motorist.

An online article from the Tampa Bay Times, however, grabbed my attention because its headline began with these two words: “Impaired Driver.”  

Brian Thomas was driving a 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander southbound along Seminole Drive.  Around 11:3O pm on Saturday, Nole Karcher was walking his bicycle across the Drive. 

Shortly afterwards, Karcher was declared dead at the scene and Thomas was in custody. 

Though there was no evidence of alcohol, Thomas failed some sobriety exercises and refused to take others, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.  That led to deputies searching and finding several pills including clonezpam, a tranquilizer used to treat anxiety and seizures.  

Clonezpam is a controlled substance and Thomas did not produce a prescription.  So, in addition to a charge of causing death while driving under the influence, he is facing charges of illegal possession.  Oh, and according to the Sheriff’s Office, speed was also “a factor” in the crash.

While reading the account, I started to wonder:  In how many incidents of motorists running down cyclists is driver impairments the, or a, major factor? I suspect the number, or at least the percentage, is high.  

30 August 2021

Remnants And Aspirations

Yesterday I played chicken with rain that never came.  The skies were laden with rainclouds (or what looked like rainclouds) that, according to forecasts, would unload on us.

On my way back from the Canarsie Pier, I passed through a still-rundown area of Brownsville, Brooklyn, where a riot of color burst through the sea of gray.

This building houses the East Brooklyn Community High School.  Its stated goals include helping students "get back on track" toward their high school diplomas and GEDs.  To that end, it offers not only the kind of academic attention and counseling such students need, but also access to services.

I would argue that the murals on the building are also vital.  I mean, what does someone who's spent his or her life in a neighborhood rife with poverty and other ills need more than hope?  And what can offer hope--or at least a welcoming environment--better than an expression of creative aspiration?

It's good to see a reflection of the vitality to be found even in what has long been one of Brooklyn's--and New York's--poorest communities, especially where one can see so many remnants of what was.

I don't know how long ago the Chinese restaurant went out of business, or moved away. I wonder whether the name is meant to evoke Americans' ideas of what is Chinese, or perhaps cuisine from the Wuhan region was served there. In either event, if that restaurant were still in that building, it might've wanted to change its name, given Wuhan's connotation with the origins of COVID-19.  

29 August 2021


“I was turning a corner,” when “the wheel bent.”

If you have ever worked in a bike shop, you probably have heard equally-strange and improbable explanations from customers of what brought them, and their bikes, to you.

But you probably haven’t heard this one:

28 August 2021

Communication Minister Delivers Meals

Photo by Hannibal Hanschke, for Reuters

 For the second time in a week, I’ll mention an early post, “What I Carried In The Original Messenger Bag.” Why?  This post will tell a man’s story that, in at least one way, parallels mine.

Some family members and others who knew me were bewildered or furious (or both) when I started dodging cabs and trucks to deliver papers, pizza and more mysterious packets in Manhattan and, occasionally, beyond.  After all, I had a degree from a respected university, did a couple of things that made use of it and lived abroad.  

But I’d had other, less salubrious, experiences.  And I was bearing what a doctor I saw years later would describe as “persistent’ depression and PTSD—as a result of some of those experiences, including trying to deal, or not deal, with my gender identity.

I don’t know anyoabout Sayed Sadaat’s personal history beyond what I read in an article. It’s not hard to imagine that he has some manifestation of PTSD—after all, he is an Afghani who left his country.

Also, he had lived outside of his native country before his current sojourn as a refugee. In fact, he holds dual Afghan-British citizenship and could have chosen to stay there.  But the 49-year-old moved to Germany late last year, just before Brexit “closed the door.”  He chose Germany, he said, because he expects it to be a leader in the IT and telecom sectors, areas in which he holds university degrees.

Oh, and when he left Afghanistan in 2018, he was the government’s communications minister.

Germany was taking in many Afghan refugees before the current Taliban takeover.  It seems that with his education, skills and experience, he would stand out among his fellow immigrants—and even natives of his current home country.  But there was one problem:  He arrived not knowing a word of German.

He concedes that “the language is the most important part” of making a new life for himself and the family he hopes to bring over. So, every day, he spends four hours at a language school before starting a six- hour shift on his bicycle, delivering meals for Lieferando in the eastern city of Liepzig.

One difference between his story and mine, though, is that he is about twice as old as I was when I was a messenger. Another, more important one is, of course, language.  However, once he gains a functional command of German, he should have other employment options.  I had them, too, but in my emotional state, I couldn’t have done anything else.

That leads me to wonder whether another part of our stories will continue to mirror each other:  I didn’t stop cycling.  Will he?

27 August 2021

A Ride. A Premonition And A Message

This summer, it seems that the weather has ping-ponged between rain and heat.  For the past few days we’ve had the former; tomorrow’s forecast calls for the latter.

So I went for another morning ride along the North Shore, to Fort Totten.  Just before I arrived, I had a premonition.  

After I snapped this photo, I pulled out the phone.  There was a voice message from my brother:  My uncle (and godfather) is in the hospital, in really bad shape.  My brother got the news in a text message from my cousin, just as he was thinking about the upcoming anniversary of our mother’s passing, I’d thought about it, too, while I was riding—just before I had my premonition.

I must say, I felt quite fortunate to be riding again!

26 August 2021

Do They Know What We’re Carrying?

One of my early posts, “What I Carried In The Original Messenger Bag”, detailed some of the baggage, if you will, I was hauling with my deliveries as I sluiced the Manhattan canyons of concrete, glass and steel. My traumas, fears and grievances were, of course, among the reasons why I spent a year as a bike messenger.

Perhaps I still  carry some of those psychological wounds. Perhaps I always will. These days, though, the load is lighter. So, today, I am going to mention the physical objects I take with me on just about any ride.  Perhaps you take some of them—or similar items with you.

My kit includes a spare inner tube, tire levers, a Park MT-1 tool and  Victorinox Spartan knife.

Andrew  a snack or two.  Sometimes I think animals know that.

“Oh  look, one of those funny creatures with big round feet—and something to eat!”

25 August 2021

A Lowe-Case Letter And A Crossing

 What do you do when wake up and can’t get back to sleep?  Take a bike ride, of course.

I hopped on Tosca, my Mercian fixed-gear, for a spin.

Into the sun

rising over the World’s Fair Marina

I know it’s not Antibes or Nice, but I thought it was pretty nice nonetheless.  From there, I spun along the North Shore to Bayside and a couple of blocks into a Nassau County before descending through Flushing Meadow-Corona Park (and the (Unisphere) before heading back to my apartment. 

Along the way, I was treated to the cutest pedestrian crossing I’ve seen in a long time.  When I stopped for the red light at 83rd Street and 34th Avenue, the hands of a young Asian (Korean, I think) woman danced together as she bowed her head with a coquettish smile. A female driver stopped at the same light gave both of us a thumbs-up.

I really enjoyed my bagel and yogurt when I got home! 

24 August 2021

After Henri

 Although Henri dumped rain on us for almost three days straight, things weren’t as as predicted.  For one thing, we barely felt any wind, which is one reason why relatively few people lost their electricity. For another, although a lot of rain fell, few spots flooded, probably because the rain was relatively steady—and everyone seemed well-prepared. 

The rain stopped early enough  that I rode for about an hour before sunset. Now I’ve pedaled to Point Lookout, where there’s barely any trace of Henri’s passing.

23 August 2021

Pacing Or Trailing Henri

On Thursday I took my “ride ahead of Fred.”  While he wreaked havoc in other places, he behaved more like, well, a Fred by the time he wheezed by us.

But news of a bigger storm—Henri— followed.  We just missed a direct hit, but points east on Long Island and New England weren’t so lucky.  Still, it’s been raining almost nonstop since late Saturday.  At least I managed to take a ride into the heady of Brooklyn that morning, and to Point Lookout on Friday.

If the rain lightens, I might take a short ride on one of my fendered bikes. If I do, will I be pacing or trailing Henri? 

Pacing or trailing Henri—does that sound like something a domestique  might’ve done in a Tour de France?

22 August 2021

Going With The Flow?

 I wonder who named this street

and what they were thinking when they named it.

I wonder whether or not that name is a disincentive to buy any of the properties that line it.

21 August 2021

Riding In The Body Positive

I don't have the body I had when I was 22.

At that age, my gender affirmation surgery was nearly three decades in my future.  (I didn't know I had a future!)  But that's not the only way in which my form has shifted over the years.

Of course, everybody's body changes over the years.  Some people mourn that:  They wish for the "ideal" body they had when they were young--whether or not they ever fit such an image.

While some segments of society are beginning to recognize that few, if any, of us remain at size four (I'm talking dress, not jersey, sizes!) in our fourth, fifth or sixth decades, acknowledgement has come that some people never mirrored the images presented to us in fashion magazines--or bike ads--even in their youth, through no fault of their own, has  been slower in coming.

The notion that cyclists, dancers and other athletes and performing artists have to conform to a particular body types discourages some from performing such activities.  It also triggers eating disorders and other mental health issues in some participants.

That is something Olivia Ray is trying to address.  The 22-year-old professional cyclist from New Zealand has volunteered to be part of a discussion of mental health awareness hosted by Rally Health, a sponsor of her team (Rally Cycling). "I think we get stuck on an ideal image, the holy grail of a particular body type," she says.  "Finding what makes us happy and what makes us feel most empowered by what we look like is, I think, the biggest thing," she explains.

From ages 3 to 16, she was enrolled in ballet, tap and jazz dance programs.  So she has experienced, in several venues, the pressure to conform to a particular body type.  While she concedes that in some instances, such as riding up a hill, it makes sense to carry less weight, "there is a fine line between what's beneficial to performance and harming yourself."  Obsession with weight can also cause reproductive health problems and other health issues for women, she points out.

One solution, she believes, would be to focus more on nutrition.  "If you're not giving yourself enough energy" during the ride or "enough fuel post-ride," she explains, "you will feel bad, you will feel like crap, and you won't want to keep riding"--no matter how well you fit the image of cyclists perpetrated in popular media.


20 August 2021

Get Your Kicks On (Bicycle) Route 66

Get your kicks on Route 66.

Now you can follow the "advice" of Bobby Troup and the Nat King Cole Trio on your bike.

Well, sort of. The legendary highway--often cited as the inspiration for the American "road trip"--took drivers from Chicago to Santa Monica, California.  Established in 1926, it was largely replaced by the Interstate system and was officially removed from the US Highway system in 1985.

Photo by Frederic J. Brown, from Getty Images

Now a bicycle trail that mostly follows the last part of the system--from the California-Arizona border to Santa Monica--has opened.  It's one of 18 new routes that have been added to the US Bicycle Route System.  You can now get your "kicks" on 2903 miles of this system, with more under development. The goal is to link the bicycle routes in a system spanning the nation.

Hopefully, we'll be able to get our "kicks" on bike routes all over the country soon!

19 August 2021

Sneaking Ahead Of Fred


I will try to sneak in another ride this morning, as I did yesterday.

Although I knew a storm was coming, that wasn’t the reason why I limited yesterday’s ride to Fort Totten and the North Shore of Queens (with a yogurt stop at Kesso’s).  I had an appointment with my opthamologist in the afternoon, and I knew he was going to dilate my pupils. So, my vision would be blurred for a while and I’d be very tired.  Marlee took advantage of the latter and curled up on me after I fell asleep!

The first wave of the storm struck some time after midnight.  The sky is overcast and the air thick with humidity, but the wind and rain have stopped, for a while anyway.  I don’t mind riding in the rain, especially on a day as warm as today (two of my bikes have fenders, after all) but I draw the line at torrential downpours!

The storm pushing its way through this neighborhood is called Fred. That should be food for thought for anyone who’s derisively used that name in reference to someone who isn’t twiddling $400 pedals on a $12,000 carbon bike while clad in Lycra kit.  

Fred will pass, and Freds will pass them!

18 August 2021

Shepherding His Father To The Statue Of Liberty

 What did you convince your parents to do when you were 9 years old?

Whatever it was, it probably can't hold a candle to what Shepherd Colver got his dad to do--with him. (With a name like "Shepherd," what do you expect from such a kid?)  The Washington State native managed to influence his father, James, to go on a bike ride with him.

But it wasn't just a ride around the park.  You see, Shepherd and James have just completed a tour that culminated with a trip to the Statue of Liberty. 

Visiting the Lady of New York Harbor was Shepherd's overriding dream.  When they finally arrived--after pedaling 3300 over 18 weeks--in New York City and took the ferry to the island, Shepherd offered this assessment:  "It was definitely worth it,"  he declared.  "It's pretty cool."

Shepherd Colver (r) and his father James look toward the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park, New York City (Photo from CBS News)

A CBS reporter asked whether his legs hurt at the end of a ride.  "Not as bad as my dad's do when were done," he said, laughing. James described the trip as "a wonderful bonding experience" and believes "I invested my time as a dad really well here."

That investment didn't include only this year's ride.  Two years ago, they started their journey but had to bail when Shepherd, then 7 years old, kept on getting headaches.  He was diagnosed with diabetes.  This year, though, neither he nor his father would allow it, or anything else to deter them.

James and Shepherd Colver.  Family handout.

Now he's reunited with his mother, who now has a son who's done something not many other kids his age can claim.  That just might be enough to convince her to increase his allowance!

17 August 2021

Just Another Bike Rider

Darling, my face is my passport.”

Whether or not Vivien Leigh so replied to a jaded customs officer’s demand for documentation, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could have failed to recognize the visage of one of the stage and screen’s brightest stars.

A cyclist out for a trining ride last week could’ve identified with her. Authorities stopped him from proceeding along a road near Saint Raphael, along the French Mediterranean coast.

Millions of people witnessed the incident during a live news broadcast on France 2. The road had just been closed due to the risk of forest fires that have engulfed other Mediterranean locales.

What the presenter, veteran journalist Johan Rouquet, didn’t realize  was that “ce randonneur à velo” wasn’t just any old bike tripper.  Rather, the fellow who’d just been turned back was none other than four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

Sometimes you just can’t be famous enough!

16 August 2021

Accessible, But Not Affordable

 Yesterday I followed the shorelines of Queens as closely as I could.  Close to home, I chanced upon a vista that encapsulates some of the waterfront’s visual variety.

I remember when the southern part of Hunters Point, in Long Island City, consisted of industrial waiting rooms and necropolis—and when the Twin Towers stood where the Liberty Tower now looms. Back then, much of the waterfront, and its views, were inaccessible.

Now there are pedestrian and bike lanes, food trucks, cafes and some rather nice gardens—alongside “affordable” apartments for people making $125,000 a year.

14 August 2021


I have never been a parent--unless, of course, you count Katerina, Charlie I, Candace, Charlie II, Max and Marlee.  So, I suppose, there are some things I'll never understand about "parenting."

They include a parent saying "I'm disappointed" when a child makes some mistake or  commits some misdeed for the umpteenth time.  I guess it means the parent had hope that the child would change his or her choices or behavior.  Or that the parent had hopes that the child would not repeat the mistakes or misdeeds of an older sibling, or some other kid.

The latter, perhaps, explains why Trek Brand Manager Eric Bjorling said he and his company were "disappointed" by the news of Katie Compton testing positive for an anabolic agent following an out-of-competition event last year.  The test resulted in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspending the longtime Trek-sponsored rider for four years, beginning on 16 September 2020, the date of the event.  

I won't comment on Ms. Compton's guilt or innocence, or the USADA's penalty.  But I have to wonder about Bjorling's or Trek's "disappointment."  After all, they were partial sponsors of--and supplied bikes to--a guy named Lance Armstrong.

13 August 2021

No More Passes For Bikes On Trains

 When you get to a certain age, you realize that you have things you’ll never use again.

The one I’m about to mention is small and its obsolescence, about which I have mixed feelings, but won’t pose any inconvenience for me.  As of 7 September, the Long Island Rail Road (The LIRR still spells it as two words!) and Metro- North Railroad will no longer require a pass to bring a bicycle on one of their trains.  The lines, part of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s suburban New York system, will offer a one-day “grace period” on 22 August (a week from Sunday) before the new policy takes effect.

Metro-North President Christine Rinaldi described the new policy as an “effort to welcome back as many bicyclists as possible.”  I am willing to believe her, as train ridership plummeted early in the pandemic and is now approaching pre-pandemic levels.  Also, suburban enclaves are, like New York City, trying to get people out of their cars.  Making it easier and more convenient for people to combine bicycling with commuting by train would help to achieve this goal.

For a few cyclists, the abolition of the pass, and its $5 cost, might entice them to ride to the train. That fee, however, is a one-time fee:  I still have the same passes I  bought about a dozen years ago—to replace my old passes, which I had for about fifteen years, after I changed my name.

I think the real reason the pass and its fee will be eliminated is that administering it and enforcing its use was too difficult and costly.  More precisely, it wasn’t enforced: I can recall only one instance in which a conductor asked to see my pass. 

Also, all of the other policies regarding bicycles, which are more consistently enforced, will remain in place.  They include a limit of four bicycles per train on weekdays and eight on weekends, except on specially-marked weekend “bicycle trains,” which will allow more.  Also, the LIRR and Metro-North will continue to prohibit bicycles on trains during rush hours, on major holidays and on certain holiday weekends.

12 August 2021

Mad Dogs, Englishmen And Lucky

 Last week the weather was more like May or June than August.  Now we’re experiencing a heat wave that’s baking the rest of the world. Or so it seems.

So, today, I went for an early ride—or, at least, early enough that when I got home, only mad dogs and Englishmen remained outside.

Oh, and “Lucky”:

11 August 2021

Things Not OK For This Share Program

Four years ago, while in Rome, I learned that the city’s bike share program ended after most of its bikes were stolen.  Many were disassembled and ended up in dumps, “chop shops” or the Tiber.

Similar fates befell bikes of Velib, the first iteration of Paris’ share program.  While some machines were tossed into the Seine or Canal Saint Martin, others turned up in Eastern Europe and North America.  The new iteration of the service includes improved security features.

Here in New York, I sometimes see Citibikes, which are easy to recognize because of their shape, painted flat black or other colors that aren’t Citibike blue.

Other cities have likewise discovered that their bike share programs’ biggest problems are not breakdowns or cost.  Rather, they are theft and vandalism.

That is what Oklahoma City is now experiencing. Ride OKC, the city’s share program, announced that it recently a third of its fleet in a short period of time.

I’ve never been to Oklahoma City.  From what I understand, it’s as auto-centric as many other places in Southern and Western US, though it’s mayor is trying to change that.  I hope the loss of those bikes doesn’t derail his efforts.

10 August 2021

Resigned To Haze?

Last week’s weather resembled that of May or June, which I didn’t mind.  Today, it seems, August has returned.  So has the haze from distant wildfires.

Some time during today’s ride, Governor Cuomo resigned.  It’s not related to my ride or the weather. At least, I don’t think it is.

Whatever I can or can’t affect, I don’t feel resigned to anything when I ride.

09 August 2021

What They Really Mean By "Suspension"

I've been called "crazy" and worse for crossing city, county, state and national boundaries--and mountain ranges--on my bike.  And for working as a bike messenger in Manhattan. And riding on a velodrome.

But I admit there are some things I haven't tried, and don't plan to.  I don't know whether I fear heights more than other people, but what these women are doing is above my pay grade.

They weren't doing a "one off" stunt.  Rather, the contraption they're pedaling almost 1000 feet above Wansheng Ordovician Theme Park in China is an attraction open to the public. 

07 August 2021

La-Vande Is Here

 Last week, I did four rides on four different bikes--all of them mine.

If you've been following this blog, you've seen three of them:  Dee-Lilah, my Mercian Vincitore Special; Tosca, my Mercian fixed gear and Negrosa, my vintage Mercian Olympic.  But I didn't mention what I rode to Point Lookout that Friday.

La-Vande, a Mercian King of Mercia, rose from the wreck of Arielle, the Mercian Audax I crashed last June.  One of the few good things that came from that mishap--save for the support you, dear readers, showed--was a settlement to cover another bike.

I intended La-Vande to be the "winter" and "rainy day" version of Dee-Lilah, my Mercian Vincitore Special.  So, I specified the same geometry but a slightly heavier tubing--Reynolds 725.  And I'd asked for a different color scheme because I'm not trying to build a "Stepford" fleet.  

Well, the frame was built with the same Reynolds 853 tubing as Dee-Lilah.  And it was painted in the same colors, though La-Vande's lilac paint is slightly lighter.  Grant at Mercian said it was probably a result of a "different batch" of paint.  He apologized, but I wasn't upset, really.  What La-Vande is, essentially, Dee-Lilah with less fancy (though still lovely) lug work--and some slightly less expensive components, most of which came from my parts bin.  

Anyway, I pleased with the bike.  It's a "younger sister" to Dee-Lilah.  I figure that since she has a geometry and build I like, it doesn't hurt to have another bike like her.  

Here is a list of La-Vande's specs.

Frame:  Mercian King of Mercia, Reynolds 853 tubing.

Headset:  Tange sealed bearing.

Wheels:  Phil Wood hubs.

              Mavic Open Pro 36 hole rims.

              DT Competition spokes.

Tires:     Continental Gator Skin folding 700 X28 

Brakes:   Shimano BR-R451 

              Tektro RL 340 levers 

              Mathauser Kool-Stop salmon pads

Crankset:  Stronglight Impact, 170 mm, 48-34 chainrings

Bottom Bracket:  Shimano UN-72, 68x107mm

Derailleurs: Shimano Ultegra 6500 rear 

                  Shimano Dura Ace 7400

                  Dura Ace downtube levers

Cassette:    Shimano 105 9 speed, 12-25 

Chain:         SRAM PC-971 

Pedals:        MKS Urban Platform with "basket" toe clips and Velo Orange toe straps

Handlebars:   Nitto 177 "Noodle" 42 cm, wrapped  with Newbaum's Eggplant-colored cloth  tape

Stem:             Nitto NP 110 mm

Seatpost:        Nitto 65

Saddle:           Brooks Professional

Accessories:    Nitto M18 front rack, Zefal HPX pump, King "Iris" water bottle cages

In another post, I'll tell you about the bags on this bike--which I've also been using on some of my other bikes.

06 August 2021

Safe Passing In The Garden State

During the past few years, a number of jurisdictions have passed laws with the ostensible purpose of promoting cycling safety.  Some, like the “Idaho Stop” and its variants, make all kinds of sense. Others don’t. Still others are well-intentioned and could work.

In that latter category is a law New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed yesterday.  It, and others like it, are commonly called “safe passing” laws. 

The Garden State version is more detailed than most.  It not only stipulates that, when passing, drivers move over one lane if a lane is available.  If it’s not, drivers must give a four-foot berth.  If that’s not possible, drivers must slow down to 25 MPH.

Moreover, those mandates apply when motorists are passing, not only cyclists, but also pedestrians, scooters and wheelchairs.

Patrick Conklin, President of Jersey City nonprofit advocacy group Bike JC, says that a “great benefit” of the law is that it “not only tells drivers how and when they should pass” but also “when they shouldn’t.”  Another result is that it “carves out a space for cycling as transportation,” even on “roads with high car traffic, which are often the most direct routes.”

Conlon is pointing to one of the barriers, for many people, to cycling for transportation:  a safe and direct way to pedal to work.

That is not only a problem for urban millennials:  In rural areas (Yes, New Jersey has them:  I know;
I’ve cycled them!), the direct route is sometimes the only route.  Also, many rural and even suburban roads don’t have sidewalks, let alone bike lanes. People are therefore forced to ride their bikes—or walk—or navigate their motorized wheelchairs—on the road.

I think the new New Jersey law is a good step towards promoting human-powered transportation.  My hope, naive as it may be, is that drivers’ consciousness keeps pace and doesn’t lead to hostility, as the construction of bike lanes has here in New York, the Garden State’s neighbor.

05 August 2021

No Rain, Wind Or Tides

 I’m not cycling to Connecticut today.  Instead, I’m on another familiar ride: to Point Lookout.

Another thing is familiar: the weather.  While it’s a couple of degrees warmer than it was yesterday, today feels more like early June than early August.  I don’t mind that, or even the veil of blue-gray clouds that conceal the sun but pose no threat of rain. Those clouds even rein in the wind and tides, or so it seems.

I will not complain:  It’s been a while since riding has felt as good as it has during the past few days!

04 August 2021

Three Times, Better

 I have done what just might be the strangest sequence of cycling I’ve done in a while.  What makes it so odd is its familiarity:  I have done the same ride three times in five days: today, Monday and Saturday.

Why did I do that?  Well, I took Negrosa, my vintage Mercian Olympic, to Greenwich, Connecticut on Saturday.  That has become a frequent weekend day ride for me.  I took that same ride on Monday because I wanted to start the week right.  And today I hopped on Dee-Lilah, my Mercian Vincitore Special.  The weather—overcast, with no threat of rain and temperatures that maxed out at 24C (75F)—was ideal and I just wanted to ride and ride. Somehow I ended up taking that 140 kilometer round trip again.

Perhaps an unconscious, or at least unacknowledged, wish guided to today’s ride.  Whether it had to do with Dee-Lilah, the weather or me, today I felt better riding today than at any time since last June, when a crash led to a weekend stay in Westchester Medical Center.

If I can say “this is the best I’ve felt” at my age, I guess things are pretty good.

03 August 2021

What NJS Could Have Prevented

 Tosca, my Mercian fixed-gear bike, has some NJS-approved parts on it.  I have never made any effort, however, to make it or any other bike I’ve owned NJS-compliant.

Parts and bikes with the designation are approved for use in keirin, a form of track racing in Japan.  As I understand, NJS standards were created so that no racer is at an unfair advantage or disadvantage because of his equipment.  That is why NJS- approved equipment perpetuates standards from the 1970’s and ‘80’s: Frames are steel and wheels have 36 spokes.

Because bets are placed on riders, officials also want to ensure that a race isn’t decided by broken equipment. Thus, NJS standards emphasize strength and reliability.

A consequence of NJS standards is that they don’t make for putting together the lightest possible bikes.  That is why, for example, Olympic track racers don’t ride NJS equipment.

Those racers include Australian Alex Porter. He and his fellow Team Pursuit teammates were seen as possible gold medal winners in Tokyo.  That is, until he came crashing down on the track and sliding across the boards. That ended Australia’s qualifying run after a minute. The team was able to make a second attempt, in which they finished fifth.  Now they have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to contend for even a bronze medal.

What sent Porter, and his team’s hopes, crashing down?  A broken handlebar

He was riding an Argon 18 bike. Argon VP Martin Faubert said, “While Argon 18 has designed a handlebar for the bike, and provided that bar to the team, it was not our bar in use during the incident.”

Somehow I think NJS standards also preclude statements like that from executives of Sugino, MKS and other companies that make equipment for Kerin.

02 August 2021

He Delivers In Indonesia

 Lockdowns and other restrictions induced by COVID-19 have left people dependent on deliveries for everything from pharmaceutical s to pizza.

Here in New York, as in much of the developed world, Amazon trucks and electric bicycles with delivery boxes have become ubiquitous.  A shrinking but still significant number of restaurant and store delivery workers, however, still use bicycles that have only the riders’ legs as their power source.

It seems that the less-developed and poorer parts of the world depend to an even greater degree on regular pedal bicycle.  Those are also areas that, because they have fewer resources, have been even more devastated by the pandemic. They also tend to have tighter restrictions on people’s movements and on businesses because their hospitals are even more overburdened than those in wealthier areas.

Just about everything I’ve mentioned in my previous paragraph could be used to describe the situation in Semarang.  This city of three million (roughly the same as Chicago) is one of the worst-hit areas of Indonesia , which has become Asia’s epicenter of the epidemic.

Such places also tend to rely to a greater degree on volunteers. They include 35-year-old Arrahman Surya Atmaja, who delivers food, prescriptions and other items to isolated residents as part of the volunteer delivery service he started in April.

Arrahman Surya Abakan, left, with another volunteer .Phoro by Budi Purvanto, for Reuters.

He says his most common deliveries include medicines or vitamins he picks up via WhatsApp or Instagram.  He and other volunteers have had to lift their bikes over barricades blocking off “red zones” with high rates of infection.  “Maybe because we are helping the community, it will somehow boost our immunity,” he joked.

While most of his runs are to residences, he unwittingly went to an ICU ward.  “I got scared, but my feelings went away when I remembered I only want to help.” He added that he and other cyclists try to make contactless deliveries.