Learning how to ride safely due to a dead battery

I was leaving work – late – the other night in what seemed a normal manner. It was dry and clear, but dark as I’d stayed at work solving a problem (funny how you can be most productive in an office environment when 80% of the rest of the company has already left.) I grabbed my bike off the rack, flicked on the lights (they are nice and bright) and roll out the door.

About halfway home from the office I’ve got this strange feeling something isn’t right. I’m riding on lit streets, but on a whim I put my hand in front of the Planet Bike Blaze 1/2w Headlight mounted on my handlebars. It barely illuminates my palm at 4 inches.  Damn. Dead batteries. While I’m at it I stop and check the tail light. Completely dead. I try to turn it on. Dim light then nothing. Damn. More dead batteries.

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Line of Sight

16mm_lucas_taxiskitch_zenga_480I just got done watching “Line of Sight” – an alley cat racing film by Lucas Brunelle. Right off the bat I feel a bit conflicted writing about this movie. It is about alley cat races – which means a bunch of guys riding like jack asses; completely ignoring all traffic laws in a dense urban area. It is exactly what we DON’T want to encourage our children to do, and personifies each and every negative stereotype that uneducated motorists will hurl at us as we pedal on the run.

It is also one hell of a lot of fun to watch.

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My most well researched post to date

Lance who?

Amtrak Capitol Corridor To Run Bike Share Program?

While riding the Amtrak Capitol Corridor train again today I found a card advertising a survey (pictured at right). I’ve been riding the Capitol Corridor trains for years, and I had some time to kill on my one hour 50 minute trip, so I figured “why not.” I was a bit surprised, however, when I found out that the grand prize in a drawing of those that take the survey is a Brompton M3L folding bike. Seemed a little bit of an odd give-a-way item, and raised my interest even further.

Once I started taking the survey I found out why that bike was associated with this survey. Seems Amtrak is considering running a rental-bike program.
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Mainstream media and bicycle helmets

Photo Credit Ross Del Duca / VeloReviews Media. Used with permission.

Of all of the things I’ve written about here on JustAnotherCyclist, few subjects tend to spark as much disagreement – from both cyclists and non-cyclists alike – as my posts regarding bicycle helmets. Many seeing me roll up to work or wherever without my helmet on have referred to me as reckless, stupid, crazy, nuts, or even… well, you can probably imagine. I’ve been told I’m an irresponsible parent, setting a bad example for my children. I’ve been told I make drivers on the road nervous, thus increasing motorists/cyclist contention. I’ve even been told I “deserve to crack my skull open” because I opt to sometimes ride without a helmet.

I’ve never once encouraged anyone to ride without a helmet. Instead, I’ve spoke of my own opinions and ideas on the subject, encouraging others to find out the facts and make an educated, reasonable decision on their own.

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Will the real Greg LeMond Please Stand Up

Ahhh social media. Not only do you get provocative messages - you get provocative discussions about who the provocative messages actually came from.

Adding to the “intrigue” is the fact that the message was posted to the Greg LeMond timeline at least 13 separate times – the identical post – at the time of this writing. Speculation was already rampant that the posts didn’t in fact come from Greg himself.

Maybe, maybe not. But here’s the full text of the post in quesiton:

http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/10/news/kimmage-felt-rage-deflation-during-mcquaids-armstrong-press-conference_262474
Can anyone help me out? I know this sounds kind of lame but I am not well versed in social marketing. I would like to

send a message to everyone that really loves cycling. I do not use twitter and do not have an organized way of getting some of my own “rage” out. I want to tell the world of cycling to please join me in telling Pat McQuaid to f##k off and resign. I have never seen such an abuse of power in cycling’s history- resign Pat if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport.
Pat McQuaid, you know dam well what has been going on in cycling, and if you want to deny it, then even more reasons why those who love cycling need to demand that you resign.
I have a file with what I believe is well documented proof that will exonerate Paul.
Pat in my opinion you and Hein are the corrupt part of the sport. I do not want to include everyone at the UCI because I believe that there are many, maybe most that work at the UCI that are dedicated to cycling, they do it out of the love of the sport, but you and your buddy Hein have destroyed the sport.
Pat, I thought you loved cycling? At one time you did and if you did love cycling please dig deep inside and remember that part of your life- allow cycling to grow and flourish- please! It is time to walk away. Walk away if you love cycling.
As a reminder I just want to point out that you recently you accused me of being the cause of USADA’s investigation against Lance Armstrong. Why would you be inclined to go straight to me as the “cause”? Why shoot the messenger every time?
Every time you do this I get more and more entrenched. I was in your country over the last two weeks and I asked someone that knows you if you were someone that could be rehabilitated. His answer was very quick and it was not good for you. No was the answer, no, no , no!
The problem for sport is not drugs but corruption. You are the epitome of the word corruption.
You can read all about Webster’s definition of corruption. If you want I can re-post my attorney’s response to your letter where you threaten to sue me for calling the UCI corrupt. FYI I want to officially reiterate to you and Hien that in my opinion the two of your represent the essence of corruption.
I would encourage anyone that loves cycling to donate and support Paul in his fight against the Pat and Hein and the UCI. Skip lunch and donate the amount that you would have spent towards that Sunday buffet towards changing the sport of cycling.
I donated money for Paul’s defense, and I am willing to donate a lot more, but I would like to use it to lobby for dramatic change in cycling. The sport does not need Pat McQuaid or Hein Verbruggen- if this sport is going to change it is now. Not next year, not down the road, now! Now or never!
People that really care about cycling have the power to change cycling- change it now by voicing your thought and donating money towards Paul Kimmage’s defense, ( Paul, I want to encourage you to not spend the money that has been donated to your defense fund on defending yourself in Switzerland. In my case, a USA citizen, I could care less if I lost the UCI’s bogus lawsuit. Use the money to lobby for real change).
If people really want to clean the sport of cycling up all you have to do is put your money where your mouth is.
Don’t buy a USA Cycling license. Give up racing for a year, just long enough to put the UCI and USA cycling out of business. We can then start from scratch and let the real lovers in cycling direct where and how the sport of cycling will go.
Please make a difference.

I’ll let you be the judge.

 

I’ve got an idea – name the hole that now exists

Ugh. I know. I probably shouldn’t be writing about Lance Armstrong now. Enough is enough. What I was really thinking about is all those folks that are now going to have to go over the record books with erasers, Wite-Out® and heavy black markers obliterating all occurrences of the name Lance Armstrong from the official record of winners. I think the ancient egyptians were good at erasing fallen pharos from the record too, so maybe we can take some cues from them.

But in our digital age, getting rid of records is a little trickier because any joker with a keyboard (say, like me) can write an article. And those articles will have undoubtedly used the name Lance, Armstrong or, if you’re not into that whole brevity thing, Lance Armstrong. But it becomes really awkward to just schwack his name from all the records. I mean, sentences wouldn’t even make sense.

For example: “…the federal investigation into seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been closed with no charges filed…” just doesn’t work with his name redacted. “…the federal investigation into seven time Tour de France winner has been closed with no charges filed…”  See – that just doesn’t work, because, well, there now is no one that has ever won 7 Tour de France victories.

Or how about this: “Despite the evidence, Lance Armstrong continues to maintain that he never used performance enhancing drugs.” Take out his name and “Despite the evidence, continues to maintain that he never used performance enhancing drugs” just sounds like a court transcript where the court reporter got lazy.

So it occurred to me that we need some sort of a place holder we can use to replace his name, and fill the gramatical hole created by redacting his name from the record. Something to fill the gap – fill the space left by the absence of Armstrong’s name. Something to fill the hole left behind by Armstrong – the Armstrong hole. Hmmm… Something to fill the Armstrong hole.

Oh! The A-Hole!  That’s perfect!

So now, wherever we would have said “Seven time Tour de France Winner” or “Lance Armstrong” or “Lance” or “Armstrong,” we simply substitute “The A-Hole” and it all works:

“…the federal investigation into seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been closed with no charges filed…
becomes…
“…the federal investigation into The A-Hole has been closed with no charges filed…

Likewise, ”Despite the evidence, Lance Armstrong continues to maintain that he never used performance enhancing drugs.”
becomes…
“Despite the evidence, The A-Hole continues to maintain that he never used performance enhancing drugs.”

Nice thing is, this can become a handy twitter hash-tag too! In fact, I highly encourage anyone posting any tweet about The A-Hole to also include #theahole in the tweet, so that we can all easily find it without needing to type out the guys actual name.

Just a modest proposal.

How a cardboard bike saved my mood

I’ve been moping and whining about the fact that, after seven years of destroying the peloton, Lance Armstrong was able to do it one final time without even spinning a pedal. I couldn’t come up with anything worth mentioning on the case Neil Browne hadn’t already said. However it is such a huge story that I find myself, like the mainstream media I lament, feeling compelled to talk about nothing else.

Well, thanks to the constant stream of updates coming from VeloReviews.com and their Facebook page, I found a story right up my alley – just teed up for me to run with. And that story was about … cardboard.

I loved it because it immediately made me think of how Lance had become sort of a cardboard-cutout of his former self to many people. But this story was much better. Because unlike Lance, this was not a story about someone or something that was less than it appeared. Rather, it was the story of someone making much, much more out of something than was immediately obvious. It was a story about a fully functional cardboard bicycle.

Now some will undoubtedly take my analogy a step further, pointing out that through the use of chemical treatments the cardboard has actually been made stronger than its natural form. Sure, someone could say that the glue is the EPO, and the laquer is the transfusions that allow this cardboard to achieve super-cardboard feats of strength. To that I would respond: You think too much.

What I see here is a great opportunity to have what could amount to a disposable bike. Imagine the possibilities here when a bike is can be manufactured in a guy’s garage for $20? Now imagine how much that price could be reduced to on a higher production run. Now imagine those cheap bikes made from potentially post-consumer cardboard being deployed around cities as a means of public transportation. Imagine a vending machine at the airport that would allow you to purchase a fully functional bicycle for less than you’d likely pay for a cab? Imagine schools able to check out bicycles to students for the year for less than the price of a textbook.

Sure – this is just a prototype. And sure, the $20 number may not pan out. But you’ve got to love this guys innovation and vision to even try. Do I love my Fred-tastic carbon fiber bikes? Hell yes. But you better believe I’d ride on of these bikes too.

Funny thing is, the other “new bicycle design” that seems to be taking off around the internet isn’t new at all. I’m talking here about the Bicymple. Look – there is no denying it is a beautiful design (if you are into weird things) Fundamentally, however, this is essentially a fixed-gear wobble bike, slightly less articulated. Maybe it is my naiveté, but I really don’t see why two wheel steering is necessary on a bicycle. Even on cars – which you can’t pick up and move sideways to park – four wheel steering was never more than a novelty.

Ahhh – doesn’t it feel better to write (and read) about bikes instead of bio-chemistry and doping? Time to drop my digital copy of the “Reasoned Decision” into the virtual trash can on my computer.

Now every cycling fan is trying to be a lawyer

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play on one TV. But I nonetheless found myself spending a whole lot of time yesterday reading over legal documents. It would be cool if I were trying to gain understanding into my legal liabilities if I lead a ride and someone gets hurt. Or perhaps finding ways my auto insurance is legally required to cover myself and/or bicycle in the case of an accident in the saddle. Or how about the technicalities of home owners or renters insurance and a stolen bike.

Nope – as you probably guessed, I was all wrapped up in the USADA Reasoned Decision in the Lance Armstrong case. Across the internet, everyone seems to be writing that as “Reasoned Decision” – in quotation marks – as if it is a sarcastic remark.  Turns out that a reasoned decision is actually a specific type of document that the USADA was required to release. From the publication itself:
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Viva la Zealotry!

Nothing makes an article worth reading like prodigious use of the word “zealot.” And I’m in luck! Today’s round of randomly picked (by Google) bicycle related web happenings returned two different posts that were fortified with 200% of my daily allowance of claims of zealotry. Oh yea – and a couple of straw men thrown in for good measure.

The first of these two appeared on a blog titled Cal Watchdog, written by Katy Grimes. This piece, titled “Bicycle nuts driving local traffic issues,” caught my attention because I could relate to it in a very specific way. This OpEd piece is about the desire to get bike lanes on a specific stretch of road in Sacrament, CA. It just so happens that I used to live in one of the neighborhoods served by that road, and I’ve in fact ridden on the stretch in question. As with many OpEd type pieces, it was full of hyperbole (good thing I never do that in my articles. *cough* *cough*). But there are some rather specific statements from Ms. Grimes that just beg for rebuttal:

 The City of Sacramento, run by mostly arrogant liberals, has been trying to ram through approval of more bicycle lanes on very busy streets and major arteries of auto travel.

Here, Ms. Grimes is strategically framing her argument to be as polarizing as possible. Specifically, she’s maneuvering towards the all-to-often used tactic of making it an “us versus them” argument. The emotional reaction by many is to read “cyclists (the “them”) are specifically targeting busy streets to take away lanes for cars (the “us”). We’ll see more of this tactic later. What she refuses to acknowledge is that bicycles take up significantly less road surface compared to cars. What does this mean for the cars? Well, the more people that feel comfortable using bicycles as a means of transportation, the fewer actual cars on the road, and thus those “very busy streets” become not so busy – for everyone.

Moving on….

Freeport Blvd. is a heavily traveled street and frequently backs up in the downtown areas.

Well this is just factually inaccurate – and anyone that lives in Sacramento (as Ms. Grimes claims to) would know that. Freeport Blvd in fact ends at Broadway, no where near downtown. The normal course into downtown from Freeport Blvd would be to veer onto 21st, which is already a one-way street with existing bike lanes. Nothing being “taken away” from the motorists in the downtown region here. The only logical conclusion about her throwing in this obviously erroneous statement is an attempt to further persuade her readers into the “us vs. them” frame of thinking.


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The utopian bicyclists, who unabashadly state that there should not be autos on the roads, keep finding ways to keep this project alive.

This is my favorite part. I especially love the line “…who unabashadly state that there should not be autos on the roads…” Really? Who says that? More “us vs. them” – this time stopping just short of telling the poor, poor motorists that us cyclists will also steal children in the night. The “us vs. them” argument frankly just doesn’t hold water. The vast majority of cyclists also … wait for it … drive cars too! We’re not anti-car, but we may be a little anti-getting-killed-by-cars. We own vehicles, purchase gasoline, pay property taxes – all the things Ms. Grimes seems to be implying that cyclists are a threat to.

For those interested, the actual proposal can be found on the City of Sacramento Department of Transportation website.

But that wasn’t the end of the claims of zealotry for the day. In fact, I found a second article, this one entitled “Bicycle Zealots Run Over Common Sense with New Laws.” But wait! Check out that byline. Why, this article is also by none other than the prolific Ms. Grimes! Now, if I were to adopt her style, I’d immediately decry Ms. Grimes as an “Anti-Cyclist Zealot” with an agenda to “deprive me of safe riding conditions and continue to push for policies designed to endanger my life and well being.” But luckily, I’m not like that, so I won’t make such statements.

This second piece is an attack on recent legislation related to cycling:

The California Legislature just passed three bills allowing the state’s bicycling extremists the upper hand on streets designed for autos.

Sigh. “…bicycling extremists the upper hand…” Yet more “us vs. them” propaganda. One of the bills in question is SB 1464 - the so-called “3 Foot Passing Rule.” Not sure why she picked this one to complain about. This isn’t actually a new law, but rather clarification of a somewhat vague existing law that requires motorosts to pass cyclists at a “safe distance.” This law clearly defines “safe distance” as 3 feet. What’s wrong with removing ambiguity from laws? We updated our laws from “to drunk to drive a car safely” to “blood alcohol level equal to or above 0.08.” Was that a wasteful law too?

Ms. Grimes goes on to characterize the previously passed Complete Streets Act with this gem:

In 2008, the Legislature passed the California Complete Streets Act, which required roadways to be designed to accommodate all users: bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, disabled people, children, older people and motorists.

Obviously, no one talked with a physics professor before writing this legislation.

I’m actually not sure what relevance a physics professor would have in this discussion, given that the folks that were actually involved know how to make this a reality. How? Well, among them were planners and representitives from cities all over the world where roadways already exist that were designed to accomodate all users. Sorry Ms. Grimes, your attempt to question the intelligence of the legislation by implying that it is impossible to achieve falls apart when you can find existing examples of the goal already achieved in real life.

For me the real clincher was her closing remark though. Keep in mind that her article started out by claiming in the title “Bicycle Zealots Run Over Common Sense…” So she throws in this final thought:

I am hoping that legislators introduces a bill mandating bicyclists to follow traffic laws. If California is really going to become bicycle-friendly, it’s time for cyclists to follow all traffic laws; because when bike-auto collisions occur, often the bicyclist is part of the problem, and not always the victim.

So her “common sense” approach is to hope legislatures pass a law, that will mandate that cyclists follow the laws. Not only is that an absurd and ridiculous idea, it is a tired old argument that doesn’t hold up. I grow weary of the “cyclists never follow the laws argument.” Or worse “I’ll share the road when cyclists follow the rules of the road.” Implicit in that statement is the idea that motors actually follow the laws themselves. Every hear of the California Stop Ms. Grimes? An illegal maneuver so common it has a nick name in common parlance. Ever drive the speed limit on the freeway only to find that every other motors it changing lanes to pass you? And frankly the characterization that all cyclists are law breakers is yet more of the apparently standard Ms. Grimes attack strategy: “us vs. them.”

Oh… but wait! Let’s go back to the first article regarding the bike lanes in Sacramento where she writes this statement:

Bicycling on this street is not safe, and never will be. There are too many businesses and too many cars. When I am on my bike, because I have a stong sense of survival, I avoid riding on Freeport Blvd.

Huh. So on the one hand you claim to be a cyclist yourself, then on the other hand claim that cyclists are a danger that don’t follow the laws.

Sorry Ms. Grimes. I love a good, passionate opinion piece as much as the next gal. But I call B.S. on your drivel.