Friday, April 28, 2006

Law-breaking cyclists should be ticketed

Or that's what I hear. But then I see this story, in which a "crash kills driver, engulfs Castro block in fire;at least 8 vehicles burned." A Buick heading south on Castro Street in San Francisco ran a red light at Market Street, swerved into the northbound lane and slammed into a BMW that was turning right to go into a parking lot for the Castro Theater at 6:38 p.m.

Both cars burst into flames and the BMW was knocked into a parked car while the Buick careened into at least three more cars. The fire spread quickly down the line of unoccupied vehicles and several motorcycles. The BMW driver died at the scene. The Buick driver is in the hospital. Read more here.

I'll be bold enough to write that the damage from this one Buick driver was more than the cumalative damage caused by every U.S. cyclist in a year. What do you think?

Oregon Bicycle Blog

For Oregon cycling information, visit the Oregon Bike Blog. Go to OR Bike for the most comprehensive bike events calendar in the state.

9 x 3 x 3 = 81 speed recumbent

Here's news about a trike with 81 speeds. A 9 speed derailer combined with two triple chainrings results in a gear range from 12.3 inches to 123 inches.

Twelve point three gear inches. Wow.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Alternative uses for parking places

alternative use for parking spots
Drivers pay rent to occupy a parking spot, so what about using them for purposes other than storing a car? Michael Rakowitz proposes the use of car-shaped tents for camping in urban parking.

Michael also points to this Treehugger article about a large ride in Toronto in memory of Hubert Van Tol, a cyclist who was killed when he was right-hooked by a dump truck. This is the cyclist Tanya mentioned in several posts at her blog.

Bicycle news and blogs

Kori told me I'm getting too cranky -- maybe I should stop reading about stoopid people. At least Ed hasn't encountered any losers shooting guns at cyclists (yet).

Truth be told, riding in California is absolutely wonderful. The traffic is heavy but most of the drivers are amazingly courteous. There are the occasional idiots but then I'd encounter them whatever transportation mode I use. I was the idiot today also -- I was cycling down University in Palo Alto during lunch paying more attention to the traffic than the signals. I ran a red light and very nearly plowed into a young mom walking with her two small children. Bad bad bad on me.

To the west of me in Santa Cruz, gasoline prices are credited with increasing transit use and bike shop visits. On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, a UK Lord proposes that "cyclists should display on their clothing a personal registration number that is clearly readable." Another Lord notes that "we do have to keep the problem of law-breaking cyclists in perspective. On the whole, problems with road accidents lie elsewhere, not too much with cyclists."

Confidential to Jennifer: Seven Cycles rock! And I'd say that even without the bribe. Thank you thank you thank you thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

Bikes are traffic

A Velonews reader in Minnesota asks "What exactly constitutes "impeding the normal and reasonable flow of traffic?" Cycling attorney Bob Mionske answers here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Year and make of my primary vehicle

When I visited the BRaIN today, a box popped up with a survey for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. A question came up about whether I own or lease my "primary vehicle." My primary vehicle is a 1986 Centurion. The followup question then asked details about my car from the previous question. You'd think the folks designing a survey for a bicycling magazine would know that not all road vehicles are automobiles.

Seven and Audi sittin' in a tree...

Seven Cycle
Speaking of cars and bikes, Seven Cycles has partnered with Audi of America for the product launch of the Auddi Q7. Seven will provide bikes in Audi's Streets of Tomorrow "Experience" showcasing technology that demonstrates "the latest innovations to enhance the customer’s everyday experiences.”

Chinese bicycle manufacturers report shortages in carbon fiber. “We were ... close to just shutting down completely,” said Eric Koh, assistant general manager of Martec, one of the world’s top manufacturers of carbon fiber frames.

More Bicycle News

This is excellent: Sports Illustrated says bike racing is still worth watching even in this post-Lance era.

Citizen rider relates a tale of a freakish bike accident.

OLN is changing its name to Versus. Hmmmm.

Hit a cyclist with your truck and drive off, and "the incident seems less deliberate and more accidental." Unless the cyclist you hit happens to be a cop.

Missoula Montana mayor moves around without the car.

NIMBY: Bike trail will be a funnel for criminals. Or not.

Western Massachusetts has a new bike map.

Random Recall

This is off-topic for this blog but the picture in my mind is too funny. A couple of brands of gasoline-powered backpack leaf blowers are being recalled "due to fire hazard." According to the CPSC, "Hot exhaust gases can escape from the muffler and could melt the fuel tank or ignite grease, oil or debris around the fuel tank, posing a fire hazard." I'd hate to have this flaming backpack on my back. Fwhooom!

Colorado State Patrol lifts event cap

During a news conference at State Patrol Headquarters, Chief Trostel confirmed that the cap on bicycling events "will not be implemented now or in the foreseeable future." Bicycle Colorado Director Dan Grunig commended the State Patrol and Colorado Department of Transportation for their leadership.

In place of the cap, State Patrol is adopting recommendations from a working group consisting of the State Patrol, Bicycle Colorado, and the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Bicyclists are pleased to have the State Patrol collaborating closely on bicycle safety. Here are some of the key outcomes designed to create better events for bicyclists:

* A revised guidebook identifying best practices to promote good planning and safety during bicycling events
* The State Patrol's *CSP cell phone hotline may be used by bicyclists who observe motorists driving in a threatening or unsafe manner
* Many event directors are taking additional steps to promote bicycle safety education, including new training classes and roadside signs with safety tips and reminders
* Improved communication to work with law enforcement to proactively keep roads safe
* New support for developing complete streets that are designed to be safe for all road users

The tremendous interest generated by the proposed event cap displayed how important bicycle events are to Colorado and this announcement will ensure they continue.

Bicycling events attract tourists to Colorado from all over the world, pumping millions into the state's economy, boosting tax revenues, and raising critical funding for local charities.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New Bicycle Friendy Communities

The League of American Bicyclists announced the selection of several new Bicycle Friendly Communities, including two cities receiving their inaugural award at the Gold Level.

Gold cities are Madison, WI and San Francisco, CA.
Bellingham, WA received the Silver designation.
Receiving Bronze for the first time are Flagstaff, AZ; Milwaukee, WI; Sunnyvale, CA and South Sioux City, NE.

Eight communities also successfully renewed their Bicycle Friendly Community designations, including my old residence of Longmont, Colorado. We were working for a Silver designation but didn't quite make it; perhaps next time!

“We salute these communities for their tremendous commitment to improving conditions for bicyclists,” said Andy Clarke, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “They are making the streets safer for bicycling, educating bicyclists and motorists to share the road, promoting a wide range of bicycling activities and even stepping up the enforcement of traffic laws to protect bicyclists.”

President suspends clean air rules

In response to growing criticism from the electorate that politicians should do something, President Bush suspended clean air rules for gasoline this morning. Bush also stopped deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and asked Congress to suspend tax breaks for oil companies in his speech to the Renewable Fuels Association.

The White House sent letters today to state attorneys general urging them to vigorously enforce state law "against any anticompetitive, anticonsumer conduct in the petroleum industry." Uh huh.

Other politicians responded with a news conference, trying to blame high gas prices on purely political reasons rather than consumer behavior, and proposing a suspension of the gasoline tax. The 2006 November election should be pretty exciting to watch.

The Big Oil tax breaks were for the purpose of encouraging oil exploration, but I think there's sufficient price pressure to encourage exploration right now. I spent the weekend riding Amtrak from Colorado to California -- I saw probably hundreds of wells being drilled along the Colorado Front Range and on the Western Slope around Rifle, CO. Most of these are for natural gas, but oil price increases are mirroring the explosive gas price gains that occurred last year. Eliminating the tax breaks is a good idea. The folks at The Oil Drum are smarter than me and have a lot to say about the issue today.

I don't know about the windfall profit tax proposals that are floating around. Doug makes the point that we're all to blame for the high prices and high profits by our participation in the system; if you drive a car or truck, you're paying the salaries. Furthermore, many of us own a retirement plan of some kind which are now heavily invested in the energy industry. Finally, the high profits are the reward for gambling in a very high risk industry. How many of you are willing to invest billions into an overseas project, only to have it nationalized by a populist politician?

Fort Collins velodrome?

A Ft. Collins businessman and cyclist wants a velodrome in his northern Colorado city.

A previous recent effort to build another velodrome in Colorado includes an attempt to build a velodrome along with a health and fitness center in Boulder, but that plan was shot down by the Boulder County Commissioners.

More recently, some people tried to get Lyons to donate land for a velodrome in a city park. Lyons residents said 'Nay' to that idea.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bicycle Commuter Act

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Bicycle Commuters Benefit Act of 2006. This bill would provide employees the same benefit for commuting by bicycle that other employees get for taking mass transit. This bill matches HR 807 introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) last spring. The Senate bill is also supported by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

Saturday, April 22, 2006

President pedals for planet Earth

Mike Vandeman will disagree of course, but President Bush rode Mountain Bike One for Earth Day.

Williamette Valley Stage Race

The Williamette Valley Classic is a four stage bicycle race around Eugene, Oregon. It started Friday, it's over on Sunday. Helmet tip to Bike Friday Walter for this info; the fault is all mine for getting this out so late.


Crazy Bike Chick wants to eliminate blind spots on large trucks. Is this feasible? There's a reason trucks have signs with "PASSING SIDE / SUICIDE." I was following a truck in East Palo Alto; the truck was going painfully slow down a residential street -- 10 mph and less. I was a little bit tempted to pass this big rig, but I knew that passing on either side could mean death for little ol' me. I just waited until the driver got to his destination.

Happy Birthday to Blue Collar MTB. They're now in the terrible twos! wins a prize.

Velochimp sez "High gas prices mean you should ride more."

French Transport Minister appoints national cycling promotion chair."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Lance Armstrong marathon man

Lance Armstrong says he will run the New York Marathon this November. I'm impressed; I turned to cycling because running hurts too much.

Last year, retired pro cyclists Laurent Jalabert and Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel ran the NYC Marathon and finished with very good times after little training.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Crime and punishment

Here are a couple of news items I think you'll like.
And here's some disconcerting news: Boulder mountain biker Nick spotted a mountain lion Wednesday. This is three days after a mountain lion attacked a seven-year-old boy in Boulder.

Exxon Mobil boycott

I have a friend who dutifully forwards glurge to me every day. A week or two ago she sent me the ExxonMobil boycott chain mail in which recipients are asked to stop buying gas from Exxon Mobil gas stations and to instead patronize competing stations. The idea is that these stations will reduce their prices; we consumers then use the cheaper gas at XOM and boycott another set of gas stations. We game the "system" for our financial benefit.

I hit "Reply-All" and kindly explained why this scheme does not work. Tim Habb at the Environmental Economics blog does a better job than I at explaining why the boycott is pointless.

With oil and gasoline prices making the news again, politicians are grandstanding and demanding investigations. If you have a million gallons of gasoline on hand but Americans want to buy 1.2 million gallons, the price will rise until demand drops to one million gallons. Sure, oil companies are making record profits, but the only thing artificial price controls will do is artificially increase the demand. Because supply is not flexible, the increased demand will lead to shortages, gas lines and pain.

Which brings us back to a boycott. Not just of Exxon Mobil, but for all gas stations. Practicing restraint and getting by with less will result in reduced gasoline prices. Ride a bike to work and school the shopping, combine trips, use public transit, save energy in the home -- these are the patriotic actions that will truly work to help preserve our way of life.

Tim Habb article via The Oil Drum. Tags: peak+oil, gasoline, boycott, xom, economy, exxon

Confidential to Mike Morgan

Your email address didn't work. Write to richardm @ for an autoresponse with my real email address.

Bay Area Bike To Work Day 2006

Ever day is Bike To Work Day for Cyclelicious, but May 18th has been set aside as a special Bike to Work Day promotion across the San Francisco Bay Area to encourage more people to use their bikes for transportation. Here are local resources with information about How To, help with transit, and "Energizer Stations."
Bay Area Bike To Work Day artwork
Here is Bike To Work Day info from 511. Register, participate, and win prizes.

Bike To Work Day info for Santa Clara County sponsored by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition presents local information for City residents and commuters, including information about their Bike Buddy program.

More local Bike To Work Day info:

Strock & Kaiter appear in court

Six years ago, former U.S. junior cyclists Greg Strock and Erich Kaiter alleged that their junior national team coach, Rene Wenzel, administered performance-enhancing drugs to them without their knowledge or consent. Yesterday, they had their day in court as they testified in Denver.

Strock and Kaiter charged several years ago that Wenzel, team soigneur Angus Fraser and an unnamed U.S. team coach had on several occasions injected riders with cortisone, treated them with other steroids and provided them with amphetamines and other drugs during the 1990 season. That other U.S. coach remains unnamed in the suit, but former U.S. national team coach Chris Carmichael reportedly settled out-of-court with plaintiffs in the case in late 2000 or early 2001

Read more at VeloNews or listen on NPR.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tour de Georgia poll and win a prize

The contest is the last item below.

Who's gonna win? Pick your favorite over here. Velochip comments about the lack of buzz. Me, I've been busy selling a house, celebrating Easter, and snow skiing with my family. Now that the bicycle race season is in full swing, bike race blogs such as TDF Blog are starting to post again.

Citizen Rider expresses his frustration with the bike industry.

LAB Memebers: You should have received your ballots for board member elections. If you live in a region with an election, don't forget to vote. John Forester is running for the board in California -- it should be interesting.

Rock climbing cam product recall, because "devices can fail, causing climbers to fall." I'd say that could ruin anyone's day.


And while I'm going off-topic, here's the Google Zeitgeist from last week. Have fun creating link bait with some of these. $10 Amazon Gift Certificate to the blogger who creates the best post (in my judgement) in which you link bicycles or bicycling to one or more of these Zeitgeist items. The usual small print applies: I must be able to contact you via email; if I don't see your post it's not my fault; past winners may not win; etc. Creativity counts. Make me laugh and you're a finalist. I'll select a winnner on Friday morning.

1. debra lafave | google search | google news search | technorati search

2. scarlett johansson | google search | google news search | technorati search

3. danica patrick | google search | google news search | technorati search

4. chicken little | google search | google news search | technorati search

5. paul dana | google search | google news search | technorati search

6. buck owens | google search | google news search | technorati search

7. daylight savings time | google search | google news search | technorati search

8. george mason | google search | google news search | technorati search

9. shakira | google search | google news search | technorati search

10. rocio durcal | google search | google news search | technorati search

11. stay alive | google search | google news search | technorati search

12. inside man | google search | google news search | technorati search

13. super adventure club | google search | google news search | technorati search

14. sasha cohen | google search | google news search | technorati search

15. tiger woods | google search | google news search | technorati search

Downtown Denver bicycle facility

The lane is right-turn only because the street turns into a one-way street at the next intersection. Between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. during the work week this street becomes bidirectional for buses, bikes, and HOV.
Photo info: Downtown Denver by richardmasoner.

Bicycle + car road rally

Roadmate 2006 in San Francisco bills itself as a "meet the other half" car and bike celebration. A road rally will run from Pacifica to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Each team consists of a car (with driver) and a bicyclist. The motorist and cyclist work together to complete tasks and travel the assigned routes, meeting up at checkpoints along the way. Proceeds from Roadmate 2006 will go to the Paul David Clark Bike Safety Fund.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Participating in the conversation

I'm dialoguing with a motorist who believes all cyclists should get off of the road.

100% of surveyed businesses ready for big quake

April is Earthquake Preparedness Month, and April 18 is the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Many emergency response plans call for the use of bicycle messengers to dispatch instructions if electronic communications are disrupted, and disaster preparation guides suggest keeping a bicycle handy to help you get around after roads are destroyed.

Immediately after the 1995 Kobe Earthquake in Japan, my father led one of the first rescue teams to make it into Kobe. He and his crew took the train as far as possible from Tokyo with portable cellular base stations, food, and water jugs. They then paid cash for bicycles from people off of the street and biked 50 miles the rest of the way in, carrying all of these supplies with them.

As a public service, Cyclelicious staffers called businesses in the Bay Area to quiz them on their readiness for a major quake. We specifically asked them if they have bicycles on hand. Here's a sample of the answers we received:

Chain Reaction Bicycles, Los Altos, CA: "We carry Trek."

Performance Bicycle, Redwood City, CA: "Come by and take a look." (After pressing for a real Yes or No answer) "Yes, we have all kinds of bikes."

Mike's Bikes, Palo Alto, CA: "Yes, we're a bike shop. We have bikes."

Bike Connection, Menlo Park, CA: "Si. Un momento por favor..."

Palo Alto Bicycles, Palo Alto, CA: "Ha ha. Yeah, we might have a bike or two around."

REI, San Jose, CA: "One moment, let me transfer you to bikes..."

An astounding 100% of Bay Area businesses in our survey have bicycles available! In the event of a major quake, it looks like we'll be fine as far as getting a set of wheels is concerned. For your personal quake preparation, be sure to keep extra tubes, patch kits, and a pump ready and available.

CHP writes ticket for bicycling "pedestrian" on San Tomas Expressway

Bicyclists are permitted on the shoulder of the San Tomas Expressway in Santa Clara, California. Pedestrians, however, are not permitted on this expressway.

Akos was bicycling on the expressway when he stopped to take this photo of a stopped car on the shoulder. The California Highway Patrol officer pulled over to give Akos a ticket. The violation: breaking the "No Pedestrians" rule!

More here.
Photo info: CHP writes ticket for bicycling "pedestrian" on San Tomas Expressway by richardmasoner.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Seattle: Sad News

This weekend brought very sad news for the community as cyclist, Brad Lewis, passed away during the Boat Street Crit in Seattle, Washington.

Once a messenger and later a racer, he was loved by all who knew him. May there be many beautiful bikes in heaven.

Information regarding how to make donations that will help his wife and family can be found at Bike Cafe.

San Francisco: New Bike Forum

I recently created SF Bike Love.

My hope is that it will be a place for us here in San Francisco to talk about bikes and plan rides, and out of town visitors to find out about rides and bikes to use while in town.

Innovative Bike Storage

This spaceship looking device safely stores bikes and is solar powered.

How does this work?

Are there any x86 programming geeks that now how this down() function works? A colleague and I were puzzling over the "jmp 1b" code below (bolded). How does this function ever break out of this? This is from the file include/asm-i386/semaphore.h in the Linux kernel source.

static inline void down(struct semaphore * sem)
__asm__ __volatile__(
"# atomic down operation\n\t"
LOCK "decl %0\n\t" /* --sem->count */
"js 2f\n"
"2:\tlea %0,%%eax\n\t"
"call __down_failed\n\t"
"jmp 1b\n"
:"=m" (sem->count)

2006 Sea Otter Classic video recap

Watch a 10 minute video recap of the 2006 Sea Otter Classic Pro Circuit Race consisting of pre-race rider introductions, race video and photos from around the course, finish line photos and post-race interviews with Levi Leipheimer and race-winner Matty Rice.

Trek/VW racer Nick Martin from Boulder blogged about his time at the Sea Otter Classic. He wrote about his trip west on I-80 ("Slots, Beer, Tobacco, and Fireworks"). On the first day of Sea Otter, Nick wrote "A field of over 110 pros, half of which had funny accents and stylish shoes, managed to totally destroy their brand new team bikes and flashy lycra super hero suits within a matter of 60 minutes" in the mud at Monterey. On the last day he describes the distractions.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bicycle Caltrain courtesy

When 30 people are huddled under the shelter at the Mountain View Caltrain station to stay out of the cold rain, DO NOT rudely push your bike in amongst the people under the shelter. You rode your bike to the station; five more minutes out in the rain isn't going to kill it. This, of course, is in no way directed to the pie-biter in red pants with the junky commuter bike who did that this morning.

Also, when the pedestrian tunnel is jam packed with people at the Palo Alto station and there are "WALK BIKE" signs posted everywhere, DO NOT ride your bike and try to weave your way amongst the walkers. Even if you're wearing red pants and riding a junky commuter bike.

Oh, and while I'm griping, do not lean your bike against the ticket vending machine. *doh*

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bike chasing coyote shot dead by police

That's the headline in the Calgary Sun.

Other bike blog news

IMBA is seeking board nominations. Don't nominate Fritz -- I know next to nothing about mountain biking. Then again, maybe the IMBA will give me free trips to Boulder for board meetings. Did you know that EVERY TIME I go skiing at Eldora (ski area near Boulder), I see an IMBA car in the Eldora parking lot? If I'm selected as a board member, I would see to it that the IMBA continues this excellent policy of allowing staff use of the company car to go skiing every day of the ski season. Since somebody just asked: International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Rogue Mechanic does some math: The entire sporting goods industry uses about same carbon fiber as that used to build three Airbus A380 jumbo airliners. And Airbus has about 150 of the planes on order.

Sea Otter Classic Video is at the Grassy Knoll Project. Watch the fun in Monterey.

SRAM made the leap but everybody forgot to notice. So much for anticipation and making us wait.

12 pound folding bike

Sinclair Research will reportedly unveil a 12 pound (5 kg) folding bike for commuter use this July. The "A-Bike" -- so called because it looks like the letter A when unfolded -- is made with fiberglass-reinforced nylon and features six inch wheels and a single gear. The selling price will be UK£200 (about US$350).

This is the same Sinclair that sold the tiny Sinclair ZX80 computer in the early 80s.

Also mentioned at BikeBiz.

Medicinal hot pepper nasal sprays

That's really what it says. According to Sinus Buster, hot chili pepper oil up your nose is good for sinus congestion, colds, allergies, cluster & migraine headaches, weight loss, and smoking cessation. I wonder what the stuff will do for hemmeroids and saddle sores.

Gaansari Gary interview

By Richard Masoner

Another quality bicycle shop bites the dust: Cycles Gaansari will close their Springboro, OH shop on April 29. Gaansari owner Gary and his family will then move to the San Francisco Bay Area in California in May, where Gary plans to continue with his previous life as a marketing/public relations consultant in the cycling industry.

I'm just a computer nerd with a blog; Gary Boulanger has a journalism degree. Gary has spent most of his working life interviewing big wigs in the cycling industry, writing copy for bicycling magazines and bicycle catalogs, and doing public relations and marketing for bicycle companies.

I asked Gary how he got into the bike retail business. His was an interesting trip.

"When I was in college I wanted to be in the music business," says Gary. "I was doing something like four internships at a time, learning more as an intern than in my college classes."

What did Gary do with his journalism degree?

"Work was very tough to find in the early 90s. I was really into soccer and I went to work for a Foot Locker store for a while, but I didn't like that kind routine. I went to work for a Schwinn dealer, Allis Bike & Fitness in Milwaukee. When they were selected by Bicycle Dealer Showcase to be one of the Top 100 bicycle retailers in the US, I contacted an editor at Bicycle Dealer Showcase to ask what that was about so I could write up a press release for the local media. We talked for a while and hit it off, and I started writing a column. I was the man in the street for them, so to speak, the guy working at the local bike shop doing product reviews, calling up people in the bike industry and doing interviews."

"I was hired by a company that made titanium bikes called Airborne to do PR for them. When Huffy bought them out they moved the whole operation to Dayton and that's how I ended up here."

"I didn't like working for a publically traded company, so I quit Huffy and started Cycles Gaansari in Dayton."

Gary has decided to shelve the Gaansari and Fisso brands for now.

All the best to Gary and his family!

Photo tour of the shop.

Fixedgear heard the news several weeks ago.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Bicycle to Sausalito

I biked across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco to Sausalito today. Sausalito is such a lovely little tourist trap. The weather couldn't be more gorgeous, white sailboats dotted the bay, and cyclists of all types were everywhere.

Fixed and fearless

It was standing room only on Caltrain today as Giants fans packed the trains to watch them lose to the Atlanta Braves. SBC/AT&T Stadium is only a couple of blocks from the San Francisco Caltrain station; riding the bike through this game-day traffic was a blast.

The pedestrian/bicycle approach to the the Golden Gate Bridge is oh-my-God steep -- certainly the steepest hills I've taken my fixed gear bike on. I probably took five years off of my knees today. The tourists on their rental bikes spun slowly up the hills; the roadies on their fitness rides tended to mash, with one or two matching my slow cadence and speed.

Carfree tourism

A while back on the CarFree Yahoo group there was discussion about destinations for a car free vacation. After riding all through the city today, I think San Francisco makes for a good place to play carfree tourist. You can take Caltrain or BART into the City. From the Caltrain Station and many BART stations you can then ride the SF Municipal Railway ("Muni") to tourist spots all along the Embarcadero such as Fisherman's Wharf; Golden Gate National Recreation Area; and ferries and tourboats to Alcatraz, Sausalito, Angel Island and other locations in the Bay. You can rent bicycles (including tandems, trailer bikes, and child trailers) from businesses near Pier 39 and ride them all over. I saw probably hundreds of tourists on these rental bikes, many of them gamely tackling the steep hills to and from Golden Gate Bridge. There's certainly plenty to see all through the area.

If you visit San Francisco, expect to share the road with thousands of cars; and share the sidewalks with thousands of walkers, joggers, skaters, dogs, buskers, bystanders, vendors, and sidewalk cyclists. If you like crowds, this is a great place to be. If you like strangers, it's a great place to meet them. All in all, San Francisco is a great place to have a great time.

Photo info: San Francisco (01/06) by hustler of culture.

Win a Park Tool pizza cutter

Park Tool has established an international Distinguished Service Award. Send a letter to Park Tool and let them know what a hero your Local Bike Shop is to you. A winner is selected quarterly, and the customer who sends in the winning letter receives the ultra-cool Park Tool pizza cutter. Details here. Hat tip to Donna.
I'm typing this on a borrowed PC which is absolutely infested with AdWare. What a pain in the neck.

Friday, April 7, 2006

I found les pelotons

The other day I commented that I didn't see all that many road cyclists out and about in the south Bay Area. Well, after discovering Foothills Expressway, I found them.

The Long Story: My plan has been to ride to the Mountain View Caltrain station, take the train to Menlo Park and then bike the rest of the way to work. A suicide at the Mountain View station yesterday morning stoppped northbound service for a couple of hours, so I meandered by bike to Palo Alto until I found a road I recognized -- Middlefield Road -- and took that into work.

Short: I intended to take the train for the commute home, but I ended up exploring and found Foothills Expressway near Page Mill Road. It's here I found the group rides out in force.

So on and so forth: The cyclists I talked with on the road were all friendly enough, giving good tips about where to go for rides. They were all in full kit while I was in my commuter getup: pants with reflective ankle straps, cheap cotton shirt, mirror on my cheap shades, and of course I'm on my 20-year-old steel fixie conversion bike with duct tape covering the handlebars. I was able to keep up just fine on the flats, but they lost me on the hills -- both uphill and downhill.

Colorado & California compare and contrast

It seems easier to strike up a conversation with cyclists here in California. California cyclists -- even casual "folk" cyclists and temp workers on Walgoose bikes -- are fastidious about obeying stop signs and red lights, though I still see a fair number of wrong-way and sidewalk cyclists.

It's not unusual here to see commuters on heavy clunker bikes wearing normal street clothes and wearing earphones to be on the expressways; in Colorado, only recreational fitness cyclists venture onto the busy, fast highways.

The miles-long "bike boulevards" are simply wonderful These are low-traffic residential collectors with traffic calming measures to discourage through-traffic, but the engineering is done in such a way to not impede cycling, and the stop signs are few and far between.

I haven't found a street yet that I'm uncomfortable riding on. El Camino Real has very heavy traffic but the outside lane is typically wide. Middlefield Road is very busy and narrow, but the traffic is low speed.

Weekend plans

I planned to spend Saturday riding from Cupertino into San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge and on to Sausalito, about a 100 mile round trip. The forecast now, however, calls for rain into the afternoon in the city and Marin County. I may head south instead, where the forecast says the rain will stop in the morning. I'll follow the Coyote Creek Trail to where it ends in Morgan Hill and then perhaps make my way to Gilroy. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Critical Mass congests our streets

The Western Wheelers Bicycle Club April newsletter is a hoot! The editor travels back in time to 1906 to report on cycling issues of the day. In the headline article about a Critical Mass of cars, motorists come "together on the final Friday of each month ... and driving ... around the city to no apparent purpose but to impede the legitimate traffic of cyclists, streetcars, and buggies, not to mention the peril to which they submit the lowly pedestrian. Motorists elbow their way in onto our roads, muscling aside the original users with taunts of 'We're traffic too!'"

"To ride in [a car] you need a special costume of duster, goggles, and hat, or else you will alight at your destination in no condition for polite company."

The April 1906 issue is worth a read [PDF].

Bay Area bicycle commute

I started work Monday. I found a place to live temporarily, more-or-less moved in, and turned in the rental car last night. Today was my first day of bicycle commuting.

I ran into an old friend that I last saw and heard from eight years ago. I was visiting a church in San Jose and Jerry actually recognized me! He has an RV behind his house in Cupertino that I'm now staying in.

From his home, I biked six miles (in the rain) to the Mountain View Caltrain station by going up Stevens Creek to Foothill Boulevard and made my way to Miramonte then Shoreline.

I got off the train at Menlo Park and biked up Ravenswood, hooked over to Wilbur, negotiated my way past all the merging traffic by Highway 101 and went straight into the Sun campus near the Dumbarton Bridge. That was about three miles.

The rain makes things messy and I hope my lights hold out with all the moisture, but all in all it was a nice commute. The motorists I encountered were courteous and the lanes are wide. I nearly killed myself on the metal stairs off the train with my metal-cleated shoes, but other than that I had no problems.

Even with the rain I saw a large number of bicycle commuters all around. I don't know yet whether I should be amazed or not -- are the number of cyclists at about the same percentage I see in Colorado? Even so, it was nifty to see the volume of cyclists on the roads and on the train.

I'm glad I brought my fixed gear bike because of the rain, but there's a stretch of Stevens Creek I rode that is very steep. I definitely felt the burn there and I wouldn't have been able to do the hill if I was at Colorado altitude. I'll either get very strong or very tired doing this hill every morning.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Last day in Colorado

My last day in Colorado was yesterday (Saturday, April 1). I'm typing this from San Jose, CA, where I'm starting new work and looking for a home for my family.

Before I flew out last night I got in one last ride into the Rockies, riding my bike up to Pinewood Springs (about halfway to Estes Park), where I had to turn around because I still had to fix some things at the house AND pack for my trip. It was a good day of riding and I saw probably hundreds of road cyclists out by Lyons, Colorado.

I only saw a handful of cyclists on US36 going to Estes Park. Road conditions and the shoulders are mostly clear to Pinewood Springs, though there are some spots where there's still sand on the shoulders.

I brought my bike to California, though today I've done about 200 miles of driving looking for a place to live. I saw several cyclists out here in California; instead of pelotons 50 strong in matching team kit I tended to see small groups of three or four riders all wearing bright yellow rain jackets.

I'm looking forward to getting some good riding in the Bay Area and meeting a whole new pile of friends. I was planning to ride this afternoon but I'm exhausted after my late travel and a full day of house hunting. I turn the rental car in Tuesday evening so I definitely won't have an excuse not to ride after that!