Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bike Picture of the Day

Here is a great image of a front wheel drive wooden frame recumbent bike. I had an opportunity to test ride these a few years ago and they rode great! Just goes to prove that bikes in any platform can be elegant no matter what material they are made of!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why Portland Rules #476

Portland Tweed Ride
On the way home from delivering a recumbent bike for a tune up today to Coventry Cycle Works we came across a group ride. I had not heard of this ride before - too bad too because it looked like an awesome amount of fun! It was a group attending the 1st annual Portland Tweed Ride Cool rides like this are yet another reason why Portland is a great place to live for cycling of ALL styles!

Ride on!!

You Are A Bike Addict.......

Here are some common ways to know if you are addicted to bikes!

You know that you area bike addict if:

When a woman's measurements are mentioned it only reminds you of the new gear ratio you were considering.

You no longer require a hankie to blow your nose.

Instead of using milk on your cereal you use HEED.

Instead add electrolytes to your coffee.

Power Bars become part of your main course for all three meals.

You empathize with roadkill.

You wear your heart monitor to bed.

You experience bar end envy when spotting extenders longer than yours.

You're too tired for sex on Friday night but then pump out a five-hour century on Saturday AM.

Biker chick means black spandex, not skimpy leather and a Harley.

You hear that someone had a crash and your first question is "How's his/her bike?"

You crash and when someone stops to help you your first question is "How's my bike?"

You have more bikes than shoes.

You have more bike shoes than regular shoes.

Every time you pee you take note of your urine color to check your hydration.

Your investment in bike clothes is far more than in the rest of your wardrobe.

The "four cheeseburgers and four large French Fries" is for you.

You eat 10 times the daily recommended allowance of bananas, peanut butter, and bagel pieces.

You see a fit Lycra-clad hottie ride by, and the first thing you check out is her bike.

Despite all that winter weight you put on, you skim weight by buying titanium components.

You yell "On Your Left!" when passing another car.

Your bike has more miles then your car.

Your bike is worth more than your car.

You buy a mini-van and immediately remove the rear seats to allow your bike(s) to fit.

Your car has bike racks on it's roof all year no matter the weather.

When you move the first thing you ask is "where is a bike shop?"

When you have company over you serve small cups of raisins, crackers, vanilla wafers, bananas, and electrolyte drink for appetizers.

You have more bike jerseys than dress shirts.

You have occasionally on accident mistaken your Assos cream for your hair gel.

You know what "Assos" cream is.

You take your bike along when you shop for a car - just to make sure the bike will fit inside.

You clean your bike(s) more then your car.

You oil your bike chain more than you change your car oil.

When it's to hot to mow the lawn you decide to ride for a century.

You know your cadence, but you have no idea what your speed is.

Your cars are outside of the garage because it's full of bikes and cycling gear.

You had to sell your dining room table to make room for the new bike.

Common Cycling Expressions Translated:

"It's not that hilly"

Translation: This climb lasts longer than and is as agonizing as extended childbirth. Be careful on the steep sections or you'll fall over backwards. You don't have a 24 tooth granny gear? Hope you have a good knee surgeon.

"You're doing great, honey"

Translation: Hurry the F- up this is taking way too long!

"Nobody will get dropped on this ride"

Translation: See you at the finish whenever you get there you slow-ass.

"It's not that far"

Translation: It's really really far.

"The last part of the climb is just around the next switchback."

Translation: There are only 12 more switchbacks and extended straight climbs until the false summit. After that there are another 10 switchbacks until the wall before the top.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cycle Oregon Route Party - Experience Like None Other

2006 was an interesting year for me cycling wise. It was just before then I bought my first recumbent and started to venture out on the roads again on a bike sine high school. It was my first year committing to getting and staying fit through cycling. And it was the first year that I had the full Cycle Oregon experience - starting with the route announcement party.
My shiny new recumbent from the year before had some decent miles on it, but nothing like Cycle Oregon miles. I had not even ridden a full century at the time. I was told about this little shin-dig called “Cycle Oregon” by my cousin. I did not live in Oregon at the time, but came down to attend the route announcement party with him. He had heard about it from someone else. We were true Cycle Oregon newbies. I had not even looked it up on the internet. We really had no idea what to expect.
Attending the CO announcement party as a newbie was great experience, and the feeling from being there was electric. It was clear when arriving that many people in attendance had been on this trip before, as people seemed to be re-acquainting themselves and talking of prior CO adventures. I found this particularly fascinating and it only added to my desire to be a part of this familial group. After milling about and talking to several people, I found that yes indeed - many of these people have been here before - some on ten or more trips! All of them, once learning that I was new to the Cycle Oregon Experience, got a bit of look in their eye, as if to say, “Oh to be able to go back and experience it the first time...”
The route announcement - each day of the trip being revealed one by one - came with plenty of “ooos” and “ahhhs.” Most from those who had been on previous Cycle Oregon trips. It was ominous to me seeing each day’s routes pop up. The elevation profiles on some days looked like bold outlines of a daunting Mount Everest. The steeper the outline the louder and longer the “ooos.” At the same time, it was quite exciting to see the amazing pictures - thrown up onto the screen like so many teasers - being shown from the route.
After the presentation was over, my cousin and I looked over to the registration tables, which all had steadily growing lines. I think some people had started filling out their paperwork - during or possibly before the presentation! I can remember an instant feeling of “you either decide now or get left behind.” A little bit of panic settled in. What to do? Could I do this? My cousin and I looked at each other and decided to dive in. Filling out that registration form and committing myself to what clearly would be the biggest physical challenge to me in my life made my heart race.
On February 4, 2010 I will again be at the route announcement - I could not attend the 2007 or 2008 announcements - even though I attended those rides. Being at the announcement adds to the complete experience. I hope to relive a bit of that exciting feeling I had in 2006. Knowing that the 2009 trip sold out in 12 days makes me even more excited to be there - to hopefully be one of the first to commit to this incredible event before it sells out.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beauty and the Bike

Check out this great video I came across. Excellent! Count me in. If you know some urban and transportation planners spread this around!

Found via Girl on Bike

"New Look" for Fixie Dudes?

I think I have seen it all now. Cycling fashion run amok. I thought full-kit type stuff could look ridiculous. Check this out:

What the hell? If this does not get the "most impractical cycle outfit of the century award" I do not know what will. Yikes. MC Hammer much? How much Assos cream does it take to butter up the pad in those big 'ol pants? Is that where you store your helmet? How long into your fixie ride until your pants like that get all wrapped up into the seat causing you to tumble over onto your salon-style hair?

I'm just sayin'...

Taking the Bold First Turn of the Pedals

A common thing for new people to inquire about on cycling forums or to ask other cyclists revolves around riding “in traffic” and “out there” in general. As in - “You ride your bike on the roads versus a dedicated and separate MUP?” It seems that society has become a bit fearful of the unknown - when really there is not that much to fear once you get out there on some rides, gain some experience, and ride safely.

I won’t refute the fact that riding a bike in traffic or on roads with vehicles can be dangerous business. There are ass-hats all over driving cars. There are also cyclists riding like ass-hats on the roads. There will always be accidents and that is just part of life. As a cyclist - or someone who wants to experience the thrill of cycling - you just have to ask yourself, “do I want to live life in fear of the unknown? Or do I get out there and take the bold first crank of the pedals?” In the infamous words: “Just Do It!”

Sometimes when meeting people - and the conversation turns to my recumbent cycling hobby - they become wide eyed musing, “You ride that on the roads?” Yes indeedy. Some people would never dream of doing this. Maybe they are watching too much TV and have acquired a sort of “George Gerbner” syndrome, where the “CSI” media saturated masses start to believe that the world outside their front door is full of nothing more than criminals, muggers, stabbers, drug dealers, and everyone is out to get you. Well, I am here to report that “out there” is not all that bad, the world is not a CSI TV show criminal filled wasteland, and people are pretty much good-natured. People who think otherwise and choose to stay home all the time are really missing out.

I will admit that my first “real” venture riding far from the safety of a familiar place was pretty scary. It was a wobbly venture full of worry. At the same time there was an awesome sense of wonder and discovery. I had driven some of the roads, but they were now completely new. I saw so many things that I had not noticed before, aside from the wind in the face and all that stuff. As I got bolder and ventured further, and signed up for longer organized rides, the sense of accomplishment and discovery grew. When riding, there is a connection to the surroundings that just does not exist when you whiz past in the “safety” of a fossil-fuel (or any fuel) cage. Places become “real” from the vantage of a bike and you look at them differently. The world becomes less-scary and you realize its not all a Gerbner style self-fulfilling prophecy of media-land horrors.

For people wanting to really experience the world, I cannot think of a better way than by a bike. In my last five years of local solo rides I have been to more remote places and had more sensory experiences of the real world than in all the years of my life before cycling. On organized group rides I have seen and experienced places that I will never in my life visit by a car. I mean, I got to ride up to and then around Crater Lake. Ride around and experience Crater Lake... via a bike. On a recumbent no less. It stands as maybe the best (and hardest) cycling experience ever for me to date. If I can do it, everyone can. 

Quite frankly, after being to these many places on my bike, going there by car would seem boring and the experience would pale in comparison. 

So, take that first step and ride “out there” wether it be commuting or signing up for an organized event ride. You will experience places like never before - from your own neighborhood to places far far away - and be getting healthier by the minute as an extra bonus.

Writer and “Talking Heads” band fame David Byrne, who commutes and rides bikes pretty much everywhere he goes, wrote in his book “Bicycle Diaries” this:

“...getting around in a way that doesn’t feel completely divorced from the life that occurs on the streets is a pure pleasure.”

Indeed it is.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ride Report - Trike Goodness!

Well, finally. Finally had time to get out for a ride on a beautiful day. Just decided to do several loops thought he neighborhood and hit some steep climbs to give the legs and lungs a few shocks to get them going again.

Getting to climb a few good hills meant I got to take a few cool downloads too - always a bonus! The weather was perfect and the total time was just over 1 hour. Lots of hills. Lots more hills to climb before I am Cycle Oregon ready again. No sweat - it will come with time! No weirdness with traffic today - it was really very quiet. Ahhhh...

I will note somehting here - my “Trike Tip of the Day” for you all. Some trikers use a flag. I do on occasion if I am going to be in a lot of traffic riding solo. I decided to use my new flag today - the flag’s first venture out in the open. Now for the tip - make sure you use the little clip that came with  the flag to attach your flag to the seat. Otherwise you may be a bit suprised on one of your loops to dismount your tike after a long slog up a steep hill to take a photo only to be stunned to see this:

Aaaaack! The flag is GONE! Like "whoosh!" just flew off! I imagine it simply flew up the pole and took off on a screaming downhill. That had to look great to the drivers who witnessed it. Looked like a tool I guess. Oh well. The happy news is that I followed my same loop for a 2nd time around and I came across the flag unscathed. I scooped it up as I coasted past. 


Sweet MTB footage from Oakridge Oregon

A good friend of mine sent me a link to her brothers youtube channel. He sports a helmet camera and hase a lot of awesome footage! Check out his video here of a great MTB run! This guy has some sweet footage of paragliding too.

Oakridge, Oregon MTB Helmet Cam

A few sample images from the video:

Teen Guilty of Killing Cyclist

Yet another case of "Uh... I didn't see him." Please everyone - remember to BE AWARE. Cyclists - ride with a mirror and be ready to BAIL if you see some horny teen "on her way to pick up her boyfriend." She just might kill you dead.

"Maj Rhys-Evans was knocked off his Kinetic-One bike and catapulted over the roof of Hart's Ford Ka, ending up in the fast lane of the dual carriageway. He survived the initial impact – a fellow competitor described hearing him screaming and crying – but his injuries proved fatal and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hart, of Little Paxton, near St Neots, Cambridgeshire, admitted causing death by careless driving but the Crown Prosecution Service decided she should be tried for the more serious offence of dangerous driving.

On the day of the accident, visibility was good and the weather was dry. Hart, who was on her way to pick up her boyfriend, passed within a foot of another competitor in the race before hitting 37-year-old Maj Rhys-Evans. She told paramedics "he came out of nowhere", according to WalesOnline.

Maj Rhys-Evans, originally of Llandovery, Dyfed, Wales, was based at Rheindahlen military base in Germany and had flown back to the UK to compete with the Army Cycling Union.

The married father-of-two commanded 12 Military Intelligence Company, part of 1 Military Intelligence Battalion. He joined the Army aged 25 in 1996, and served with the Royal Artillery before transferring to intelligence."

Full Article

The Economy Flippin’ Blows

Well, if you didn’t already believe it, the economy and the spew coming from the talking old white men in Washington just gets more retarded by the day. Once again Tim (I’ll call him “timmy - with a little “t”) Geithner testified that giving unheard of sums of money to huge institutions like AIG that already hand out billions in “bonus” money was necessary as their “failure directly threatened the savings of millions of Americans.” Later he says, “Many life insurance products are effectively a form of long-term savings.”

Hey, thanks asshole. Message to Geithner - you are an ass-hat. It’s great to have savings for when you are dead, I guess. Oh wait - likely you all will pillage those eventually as well. In the meantime we have given up everything else in the form of bailouts for people who already have gold-dipped testicles and enough money and large homes and yachts to house an entire third world country of starving fellow human beings and feed them several times over. Oh, forgive me... people like Geithner and his fellow banking ilk are not human... my bad. 

In the meantime AIG seems to have taken their “gold parachutes” and simply handed that cash around to their top Conscious Exempt Organisms (CEO’s ) and then buried the documentation for what happened to the taxpayers money. Wow - are WE smart for giving it to them!

“Hey man, “you say. “Why the rant? What does this have to do with cycling?” Well, it has everything to do with cycling. All these things are connected in The End. I am not sure about you, but when I go out for a ride I like to encounter folks who are in good moods and are happy to lend a wave to their fellow brethren. In the midst of a society and world that is slowly (or rapidly) crumbling at its very foundation economically - this will become more difficult. Especially as peoples feelings towards the situation go from “man its bad” to “fuck it” to “I’ve lost everything and now I am going to go insane on someone’s ass.” I just really don’t feel like having my future rides on the local bike trails with my family resembling a scene from “The Road” - where the bikes could be taken by those-about-to-run-out-of-gas-yet-cannot-afford-bikes-of-their-own.

"Hey, boy - those sure be some fancy bikes you got there..."

Lately, the “Emotional Health Index, (or EHI - har har har - humans sure do love their fancy acronyms) is at an all time LOW. A recent Gallup Poll shows 21% of Americans struggling to pay medical and pharmaceutical bills. This is not a “U.S. only” problem either, as moods tighten across the globe over the possibilities of a grim future. When people cannot afford their next cancer treatment, food, gas, and crayons for the kids yet they see white collar criminals - responsible for the collapse of the wold economy - get rewarded with millions MORE in bonus money - they get cranky and are more likely to take anger out (sadly) on others. That includes taking it out on cyclists who already get enough flak as it is.

So keep on spewing rhetoric nonsense all you CEO’s, government stooges, and well-to-do windbags, things are not good and likely to get worse. I wonder who they will rape when they are done with all of us “regular” people.  In the meantime we can hope that the Richard Freeman guy who threatens to run over cyclists with his Hummer (maybe because he can no longer afford gas for said Hummer?) will just take a deep breath - and maybe just get on a bike himself rather than running them down.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yeah, But They Just Aren't Good On Hills..."

Well, I figured I should add a follow up the “Is that thing fast?” post to be fair and all. “Yeah, but they aren't good on hills.” Often after answering the speed question, a recumbent rider is then barraged with the inevitable climbing question. I will say, however, when most folks see that recumbent grin boasting the awesome speeds you can sustain, the climbing question is often just formatted as a statement.

"Just doesn't climb at all."
"Yeah, but they aren't good on hills"
“Well, those things can’t climb.”

Whaa? I always wonder why it is often put that way. “Can’t climb?” Why state it as fact? It’s beyond me, especially since I have been met with that statement at a rest area on an organized ride - a rest area at the top of a major climb. Can’t climb, eh? Well, I am here talking to you - and I am not dying for a lack of breath - so I must have made the climb just fine. It's simply hilarious to receive this comment when standing at the top of the mountain.

Lets be honest here - the “recumbents can’t climb - nanny nanny boo boo!” line is a last resort argument against recumbents and it’s just not true. Yes, recumbents have some disadvantage on the climbs. For instance, on my recumbents I cannot stand on the pedals, temporarily relieving a chaffed, creamy buttered bum from the torture of the wedgie seat. I can’t repeatedly pump my arms like doing sweaty pushups to throw my upper body weight around fighting for a bit more watts. Though from my reclined position those things are not missed at all anymore.

There are a few techniques a recumbent rider CAN do - like sitting up a bit in a crunch or arching the back, which has a similar effect as standing on the pedals on a DF. But really you can just spin to the top. It’s most comfortable no matter how long you are going to be doing it. On the recumbent platform - climbing is like having an easy chair with the world as your theater. When climbing via a recumbent, you put it into a gear that gets you the right cadence and spin. Just keep spinning. Relax. Enjoy.

Sometimes a spinning climb will be fast and sometimes slow. I have noticed many times while spinning up a mountain at 6 MPH getting passed by other riders who are going in the 8 - 10 MPH range. Many times they are much more winded than I am as they do the stand sit stand sit stand sit cycle. Many times as I continue my steady 6 MPH spin I round a corner and the same guys who passed me are stopped taking a breather or resting their nether regions, and I pass them forging on. Ten minutes later - repeat that process - and on and on it goes until we all reach the top within a relative handful of minutes and are all eating ‘lil cups full of vanilla wafers and bananas together. Rolling up to the top of a climb in the reclined comfort of a ‘bent is an awesome feeling, plain and simple and the difference in most climb speeds is not that great.

So, it is not that recumbents cannot climb. I am not saying that climbing on a recumbent is always a breeze. Far from it. Some of my first sustained climbs on 'bents I feared the grim reaper would leap from the trees and take my ass away. But it was not because the “recumbent can’t climb.” It was because "I had not climbed on a recumbent." The best way to get good at climbing is to do it - no matter the bike - and it takes a while to build the muscle. Nobody tries to tackle a steep hike and then yells “these hiking boots can’t climb!” Insanity.

When you get your recumbent legs you learn to enjoy the spin. The journey of the climb changes your paradigm - it becomes a relaxing experience. Now, some recumbent riders can climb as fast or faster than a typical road bike - it all depends on the riders abilities, their goal, and the bike. Yet even with a slower climb - when you even it out over the course of a long ride - those slower climb speeds are more than balanced out with the blazing downhills and higher than average speeds on the flats and rollers.

Anyone who has been on a larger organized ride knows that one guy - the “tortoise” guy - the one rider who you seem to pass over and over, but is always there in the ride no matter what. You wonder if that rider has even gotten off his bike to drink or pee or eat. He is just everywhere it seems. He is going and going and going and going. He looks happy all the time. Is he even working hard? He might even be wearing “ordinary” clothing. Crazy! Did that guy SAG half the ride? You remember passing that rider before the break at the top - he seemed slow and not very winded - but now you are passing him again? Huh? What? At the beer garden at the end of the ride you spy with your little eye that SAME plain clothes guy - he is already there with a beer in hand and smile on. What the heck? Did he ever need to stop? Are you in the Twilight Zone? Is Rod Serling hosting this ride?

I think not. That guy was probably on a recumbent.

Recumbent Ka-chow!

Came across one of my favorite pictures today while writing an upcoming post about my first Cycle Oregon trip. No photo tricks here that's how it was captured.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hey Is That Thing Fast?

“Is that thing fast?”

This is a question that you will get quite often when you are riding a recumbent. Usually the people who are inquiring are smiling youth or inquisitive roadies. The short answer is, “you bet it is.” If you are off the bike, like at a rest stop on an organized ride, you grin widely when asked this question. If you are on the rollers or flats, you grin widely and then upshift to the big ring - and rapidly disappear into the horizon. Awesome. Here is a few picture of my speedo on a slight downslope. 

That is a solid 40.2 MPH at a medium cruise with a 109 cadence. If the terrain has ideal rollers it is possible to maintain the mid 20’s pretty easily over the distance on a recumbent as you can carry incredible amounts of speed over the tops of the climbs. The result is a fast roller coaster cruise in the open air. 

Here is another of my own favorite personal images, on a not-so-steep decline - passing a 35 MPH speed limit sign - at a solid (but a bit blurry) 47 MPH.

Oops, looks like we are speeding there, I think. Oh well, it comes with the territory when on a recumbent. Here is a cut of video I took where the rider in the image above in front of me blows past on the same section of road. Note that I am already going 44 MPH when he dusts me and he is still cranking it up.

F A S T. It is important to note that this footage was taken at speed while holding the camera. Recumbents are not only fast but incredibly stable bikes at speed. I would not feel nearly as comfortable - likely I would feel very uncomfortable - riding a typical road bike one handed in the mid to upper 40 MPH range - never mind taking video or pictures. I don’t ride that way often on my recumbents, but when I want to grab the camera off my lap pack and click a few shots its second nature to do so at about any speed. 

The laid back position of a recumbent cuts through any wind that is attempting to get in your way. Your body is not a sail. Since you are already at maximum aerodynamic position, there is no areo-tuck, aero-bars, or other Twister-esque contortions needed where you cannot see straight to get and stay aero. This means easily sustained high average cruising speed for even occasional riders and very high speeds for stronger riders. 

Downhills are as fast as you want - from tame... to as fast as your gear inches allow... to gravity stricken insanity. Hitting sustained downhill speeds of 50 MPH on a recumbent is the closest thing I would imagine to the feeling of piloting a fighter jet at low altitude. Pure thrill. As a bonus - the entire time you have zero pressure on the arms, hands, fingers, neck, ass, shoulders, crotch, etc. At the bottom of the thrill ride you only want to do it again.

Now, before all the non-’bent riders cry foul and yell “yeah but the hills..!” I concede that point - recumbents are not always as fast on the UP-hills. That’s really OK though, and really it depends on the rider anyway. I know many a recumbent rider who can hang with the fast guys on diamond frames - even on the climbs. The right bike and engine combination is everything and can be a lethal combo on a ‘bent for sure. Also, many recumbent riders pull fast speeds and long distances throughout an entire ride with no benefit of a paceline to take multiple draft breaks. 

Climbing on a recumbent - once you have the right leg muscles in line - can actually be a relaxing zen like experience if the climb is not ridiculous steep.  (for those you have a trike) Just relax, gear properly, spin, and shift your paradigm. Savor those climbs because the reward is coming on the downhills. Also on the flats. Oh, and the rollers too.

Recumbent Racing = Awesome!

Enjoy this short video of the IHPVA criterium race of recumbent bikes and velomobiles. Simply great on-board footage and these guys are really flying down this narrow track. Talk about a crowded field for the corners!  These guys fly and are likely hitting some very high speeds. Make sure you wait for the wreck at the end. Crazy!

Don't Honk Drivers - The Cyclist Might be a Cop

Mark this find down as one of the "laughing my ass off" finds of the day. When filming some footage for a Law Enforcement Toolkit for a florida police department, some douche decides to lay on his horn at the cyclists. Sad for him that until its too late does he realize he has laid on his horn at an officer on a bike and that he is now been captured on camera being a dip shit.

Pure classic.

As noted from the source article, "The video doesn’t show it, but he was shaking like a schoolboy. I’m guessing his bravado was a cover for having peed in his pants." 

I'll bet. Awesome. The best part is all the cars that pass the cyclists wind up getting caught at the light anyway. I love it.

Cyclist Intimidation or "Oops Didn't See You There?"

Check out this video of a velomobile commuter.

Seems all good until the driver behind starts to roll forward. Is this another case of an SUV driver just being angry about being behind anything other than another guzzling overpowered SUV? Maybe the driver was jacking around with the bluetooth? Mad because gas to fill that beast cost more than groceries? All of the above?

Multi Use Paths - Benefit or Detriment?

If you ask cyclists their thoughts about multi use pathways (MUP’s) you will get all sorts of reaction - ranging from pure happiness to strained disdain on the verge of witnessing bleeding temples. These segregated pathways, intended to provide recreation and safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists, are controversial. At least for some cyclists they are. For others they offer a safe haven, and in my opinion a place for new cyclists to become comfortable with their rides.

Some MUP’s are quite beautiful and can take you to areas you could not reach by car. This is a good thing. Since they are disconnected from the roads they offer a respite from ass-hat drivers, honking cars, and choking exhaust. Often they meander through parks and settings that the poor saps stuck in their cages will never see if they don’t get out and ride or use the path. Some cyclists will complain though that they merely serve to demean cyclists and reinforce the “get off the road!” paradigm that many drivers have. Other cyclists will complain that money spent of MUP’s means money taken away from other cycling infrastructure such as dedicated bike lanes, signage, etc.

It’s true that if you are looking for destination rides a cycle commuter, the MUP is probably out of the way and not going to take you to the store or other regular business. The roads do that job. MUP’s serve different purposes however. Part of the problem comes when the fast hardcore cyclists try to use the MUP as a personal freeway. In such a case these riders are no better than the speeding drivers on the roads who believe the street ROW is their own private autobahn. You simply cannot ride many MUP’s at full paceline speed and then complain about the lady walking her dog who does not respond to “on your left” as you approach at 18 MPH.

The greatest benefit of MUP’s is for beginning and youth cyclists. Not many - save the very hardcore - are likely to take their family brood and youngins out on the same dangerous roads that they brave on their bikes or tikes. While they are learning to ride and to ride responsibly, MUP’s are a perfect place for those lessons. When the time comes, and new riders gain the confidence and desire to actually get somewhere other than scenic beauty, they can start to venture out into the Mad World of auto traffic. 

As such, MUP’s are an ideal bridge to encourage more people to get out on their bikes and ride. A person who starts to use the MUP for weekend recreation rides could very likely be the same person who decides to try bike commuting one day per week once he/she is comfortable on their steed. Maybe they will sign up for a group ride. Ideally they become regular cyclists. Everyone starts somewhere and even the hardcore had a 1st day venturing out on their bikes where they were unsure and a bit shaky. This is all good for cycling in general. People on bikes, no matter where they are riding as long as it is responsible, is a good thing for society. The more riders that eventually get on the roads - after gaining skill and confidence - the more drivers come to accept it. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Assault on Cyclists = 5 Years Prison

Doctor sentenced to 5 years in prison - not enough says I...

A small bit of justice was served when driver Christopher T. Thompson, 60, was sentenced to 5 years in prison for slamming on his brakes and causing a group of cyclists to collide with his car in Los Angeles, CA. That is a small consolation for the number of cyclists that put up with abuse on the roads as they simply try to commute to work or ride for the benefit to their health.

This man caused one rider to slam through the rear window of his car, severely damaging the riders face - practically tearing his nose off. Another rider crashed to the road and sustained serious injuries. Mr. Thompson had told investigators that he slammed on the brakes to “teach them a lesson.” The sickest thing about the entire incident is that the driver in question had multiple incidents trying to “teach cyclists a lesson.” 

Now, let this be a lesson: When hostilities rise nothing good can come out of it. If the cyclists were riding all over the road impeding traffic, while not very courteous, does not excuse assault with a vehicle against another human being. A warning to would-be ass-hat drivers: you also run the risk of encountering some cyclist packing a gun.

Christopher here obviously had just “had it” with the cyclists taking up “his road” no doubt. Anyone who has ridden a bike of any sort on the PUBLIC roadways knows that there are some drivers out there who feel that such surfaces are their private property. But sorry they are not. Bikers are also most likely drivers as well - and thus help PAY for the roads they use like everyone else.

I throw out kudos to the prosecutors and officers in this situation. Cyclists are typically blamed first and drivers often times get away with near murder. 5 years is not much for this man, but its better than nothing.

Everyone, drivers AND cyclists, need to realize that we are all just trying to do the same thing: get somewhere safely. We are all on this rotting titanic of planet Earth together, so we should do what our mommas always asked and play nice with one another. 

If you are a rude cyclist you may be asking for an incident that you can never win. If you are a rude motorist you only empower the rude cyclists to try harder to be more rude to you. Just stop. Ride nice and drive nice - and we will all get there safely.

Sunday Funny

I love this missing bike poster. Classic.

Someone please tell me where I can ride this trail:

Vehicle of the Future - TRIKES!

This I believe - the bike of the future is a TRIKE!

The other day I came across this image of a “vehicle of the future” that was pretty cool:

I thought it was interesting, as it looks a lot like a recumbent trike! Cool I already own a vehicle of the future - it’s just a human powered version! There is no denying that recumbent bikes are here to stay, and that trikes are gaining in popularity. I would make the argument that trikes will become a large force to be reckoned with in cycling - more even than two-wheeled recumbents - and that demographics will be a driving reason for the surge in trike popularity.

First, to be fair - I will disclose that I am a two-wheeled recumbent cyclist who also rides a trike. I am pre-disposed to trikes as I have been “smitten” by them. I am “only” 37 years old yet I will not “go back” to “regular bikes” even though this often perplexes cyclists my age. I have a hard time determining if I like three or two recumbent wheels better now after owning a trike. If you don’t know what it is like to experience the relaxed comfort on a climb or the exhilaration of G-forces in a downhill corner that comes with riding a recumbent - especially a trike - then you are really missing out on pure awesome.

It is true that when you pull up to an organized ride on a trike you get all sorts of weird reactions. Lots of funny smiles and glances. Sometimes some head-shakes. I admit that my first organized ride where I took my trike I felt like the guy walking through the store who suddenly realizes he did not have any pants or underwear on. Yes it’s a weird feeling to be different. BUT - all it took was one organized ride on the trike and the weirdness of “everyone seems to be looking at me” went away. My next organized ride where I showed up trike in tow I was proud to be swingin’ three wheels.

Now, I mentioned before that demographics and the trends of aging will be key to the surge of trikedom, and I believe it. Demographics are real and the numbers cannot be refuted. The Baby Boomer generation is about four times as large as the generation that preceded it, and it is a lot larger than Gen-X. Boomers are also hitting retirement age right about now and will be over the next decade or so. One can assume that ratio of Boomers in the general population to the ratio of Boomer cyclists to younger cyclists is similar. Boomers are the largest group of cyclists, and also the group with the time for cycling.

Interestingly, when on group rides where people see I am on a recumbent, I get asked lots of questions - as recumbent riders typically do. I have found that the questions can be broken into categories based on the age of the person asking, and pretty much lumped as such:

Younger cyclists roughly my generation: “Why are you riding that thing?” This question assumes I must ride a recumbent and not a typical road bike due to some physical or mental deformity on my part. Sigh.

Baby Boomer cyclists: “You really like that recumbent? This question is often followed by an admittance to just not being comfortable on their road bike anymore or over long distances usually with an admission like, “Well, I have been thinking about trying one of those someday...”

It’s often the Baby Boomer cyclists who seem like they are starting the process of “looking over the fence” to the “dark side” (really the light side) of recumbents. When I am on my trike the interest of the Boomer cyclists is even greater. On several occasions I have had these folks take a seat on the trike and give it a pedal around. They always return with the “trike grin” like they had just been transported from the magic land of childhood. It is true: if you really do not want a trike in your stable then you should never test ride one - list trikes as one of the most addictive items known to man. Trike riders offering a test ride are like crack pushers. Heh heh...

With so many Boomer cyclists hitting the golden age so rapidly over the coming decade is a surge of recumbent converts just hitting the precipice? If so, will trikes be the human powered vehicle of choice in the future? Certainly they come with advantages:

No balance required
Relaxed on the uphills
Killer awesome on the downhills
Can be geared to climb a wall
Awesome handling
You can’t wait for the concept trike vehicle at the top of the post

Faced with being uncomfortable on their bikes (tolerable for the young, unbearable otherwise) will many Baby Boomer cyclists refuse to taste the recumbent bike or trike kool-aid and give up more and more on cycling? Given the options and the experience they deliver, trikes may be a wise investment moving forward. Come on over, its comfortable here.