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04/11/13
Streetfilms: Streetfacts - Americans Driving Less
Filed under: general, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 3:57 pm

StreetFilms continues its Streetfacts series by looking at the data
on driving in the U.S. Beginning in 2005, per-capita driving has
declined every year. As curious as that may strike you, data suggests it is now an 8-year trend.

These are all good things, as more folks realize that walkable, rideable, “human-sized” environments are the right choice, it is important that we follow through with city planners and show up at the boring meetings where these things tend to be discussed.

comments (0)
01/28/13
From the Bleachers
Filed under: general, brevets, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:54 am

All sorts of big and small cycling things occurred this past weekend, and I missed every one of them.  Alas.  Sometimes the best laid plans and all that….

The big-ticket event was the San Francisco Randonneurs’ Lighthouse 200K - a magnificent and reasonably challenging route which kicks off the brevet season each year (yep, January!) The weather is always the big question on everyone’s mind - it can be gloriously clear and sunny or intensely nasty.  Winds can certainly be a factor, but the common direction is a WNW direction, which mostly blows you home.  I’ve completed the ride three times, but didn’t really have the mileage base to consider it this season. 

A number of ride buddies and internet cycling denizens shared their images - Estaban (up from San Diego), Manny (who broke a shifter and finished the ride short a few gears), D Yu G, Campy Only Guy, and One Happy Cog all have photos to enjoy.  PlattyJo has a ride report here.  Franklyn has his here

There was also a Populaire along a portion of the same course.  This is a lower mileage (114 km) “intro to randonneurring” designed to introduce newcomers to the conventions and quirks of brevet style rides.  Briefly thought about engaging in this, but after a ride the previous weekend which covered ~40 miles, decided that adding the White’s Hill climb in addition to the mileage was also not in the cards.

What was looking good was the potential Bay Area arrival of David “Cyclotourist” - who had similar goals and realizations to me regarding the 200K and the Populaire.  Still was part of a rideshare, he had plans to ramble up Mt. Tam in mixed-terrain mode.  BikeTinker Philip had planned on connecting, and I threw my iron in the fire to join up.  Alas, Friday’s stomach cramps made it pretty clear that the bug which bit my wife had gotten some talons into me as well.  So, I sat at the computer and napped my way through the weekend.   Gino managed to connect with them, and they managed an excellent day in the windy sunshine, capped off with one of Avatar’s punjabi Burritos.


photo courtesy of Cyclotourist

I rode and enjoyed vicariously.  Ahh well… next time gentlemen!

Two news items also cropped up in the local cycling news - one is the continued hashing out of the proposed Corte Madera Creek overpass project.  It’s a potentially massive project on one of the remaining confusing bits of Highway 101 in marin county.  The full project involves fixes and corrections from the Paradise Drive exit to north of the Sir Francis Drake exit. 

There have been a succession of minor changes and tweaks, most of which seem only to confuse things more.  The suggestions ranged broadly, dating back to some public meetings in probably 2007 or so which I attended.  At the time, it was clear that the various forces of homeowners, city managers and developers were going to hash things out for some time , so it was hard to react to anything directly. 

Since that time, they’ve more or less focused on the solution that is now being presented.  One outcome is the demolition and elimination of the Hwy 101 pedestrian overcrossing structure which has been around since I was in high school (used to ride over it to get to crew practice, in fact).  It’s a nasty, generally glass-strewn structure with a ridiculously dated “round about” approach (I thought I’d snapped a photo of it at some point in my Commute Bits set, but cannot find it…though here I do make reference to it as “The World’s Stupidest Overcrossing”).  Ah - here:

aerial view via the MCBC website

And yes, that is a full 2 1/2 times around on the entrance/egress, with no line of sight to speak of.

Now, I certainly get that it is desirable to provide direct access.  I’m an absolute proponent of that.  But, it seems to make more sense to develop a viable bicycle route using the Wornum undercrossing.  Right now, it’s OK, but lacks night time lighting and the section which runs in front of the Cost Plus shopping center is generally pretty hairball.     But, in terms of battles for the MCBC to pick, I have to hope this is only a initial position so they can regroup to a stronger focus on developing a more sensible connector from the Redwood Hwy frontage road to Wornum Undercrossing to connect to the High Street Bridge path (the one which uses the old railroad right of way to connect to Corte Madera / Magnolia Ave.) 

That whole discussion is going on here:
http://www.marinij.com/larkspurcortemadera/ci_22453621/residents-draw-battle-lines-over-143-million-greenbrae

The one which surprised me was the nascent beginning of a Marin County Bike Share program. 

http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_22451169/push-get-bike-share-program-rolling-marin

If you will permit me a moment of snark, I’d say that there are a whole bunch of “Team Postal” Treks, neglected Lightspeeds and forgotten Serottas hanging in carports and garages throughout the county.  I say “FREE THE BIKES, MAN!”  Collect those things and distribute them around the county or to county-based employers who can assist their workforce in riding.

ahem…. sorrry about that.  I watched a bit of Portlandia last night…

But, you have to admit, a whole rack of “need a ride?” steeds like that might actually induce some folks to give up their car.  Yeah, I know, they’d end up chopped and stripped and sold, but it would be a glorious day and a half.

The one error the article makes though is the idea that marin is “hilly”, precluding most people from riding.  There is a great deal left to improve, but the MCBC projects have helped a great deal already.  With the Cal Park Hill tunnel project, you can ride from Larkspur to downtown San Rafael without significant elevation change, for example.  The new connection between Ignacio and Novato has dramatically changed the nasty climb which used to be required. The routes are there.  They just continually need to be cited and explained.

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03/01/12
Utilitaire 12, Ride #2
Filed under: general, record keeping, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 5:58 pm

Awoke to the tailings of rain today and had to dig out the Grundens for the morning dog walk.  But, by midday, sunlight seriously poked its way through and the ground had mostly dried.  So, I chanced it and rolled out on the only non-mtb bike that I own which is currently rigged fenderless, the A. Homer Hilsen, to claim the second Utilitaire 12 Controlle Stamp of this week.

Within a mile of home, I was seriously doubting my choice - a couple heavy clouds loomed over the hills and the wind was picking up in a way that foretold more rain. But, the Zeus has some invisible foreign object stuck in the front tire and had come up lame, and it felt good to utilize the invention which allowed me to cease pedaling when I felt like it.  The other two options - the Dawes which I’d used for the first Controlle Stamp, and the Quickbeam - are both fixed.

Of course as I turned on the first leg of the route, it became clear that the whole “coastable” thing was going to be largely unused. The winds continued to pick up and any attempt to stop pedaling seemed to result in a seriously sharp decline in speed. The good news being that the darkish clouds were quickly dissipating.  By the time I got to the Post Office, it was clear that my only issue would be winds. The winds did sharpen further, but it also scrubbed the sky of clouds.  It did seem a wee brisk, but one thing you don’t really get to do in California is complain about the cold.

Now, the sharp-eyed among you probably have noticed that “Post Office” is not on the Utilitaire 12 Control Card.  In fact, I was angling for Controlle #6 - “Any Store That Is Not The Grocery Store” (I mean, since “drop in on your cool guitar-making woodworker friend and catch up a bit” is also not on the Control Card…).  14 cheap miles on the route.

Of course, up until now, I have complied with the rules of the Utilitaire 12.  In order to maintain the Spirit of the Utilitaire 12, however, there may be some deviation ahead… we shall see.

Today’s lesson is the observation of how much my cycling aesthetic has changed.  It was briefly ponder-inducing that I was riding a bicycle with no fenders.  Seemed odd and wrong.

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02/29/12
Late to the Utilitaire Party
Filed under: general, record keeping, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 8:31 am

About a month ago, MG over at ChasingMailboxes outlined a fun early season challenge - the Utilitaire 12.  Unfortunately, that was in the final days of my all-encompassing work project, and the energy/time for reading anything outside of the immediate scope of “need-to’s” was nonexistent. 

As I’ve slowly righted myself and trimmed the sails this month, the hash tag #Utilitaire kept popping up, and I finally got around to catching up on the excellent writing which MG shares on her blog. If you work the math and follow the instructions, you’ll realize that I have about two weeks to do 12 rides at the rate of 2 per week. I’ll admit, I was not a math major, but I’m pretty sure that’s a tough trick to pull off using standard numbers.

Which means the gang is well up the road and I’m just rolling away from the start. Nothing to do but smile and wave, smell the flowers, lean into the headwind and see what comes of it.

Anyway, here’s my first official Utilitaire 12 Controlle Stop:
(every time I’ve tried to place my faux-html command here, it has disappeared…so, please forgive the incorrect syntax)

Number Five
“The Market”

Controlle #5 / Dawes / Market
According to the rules of the Utilitaire 12, I need to document the ride with a photograph (above) and confirm with an informational/observational insight:


“9. To show evidence of your ride, you must take one photo during your
utilitaire and submit at least one thing you learned or observed during
your trip.”

What I learned (other than the fact that it is impossible to resist Girl Scout Cookie Sales Tables) is that after years of toting them around, my awareness of precisely how much can fit into my various messenger bags is well honed. At the checkout, the helpful bagger kept asking if I needed a bag, eyeing my pile of purchases with doubtful glances.  Everything nestled into my bag (the original Timbuk2 from yeeeeearrs ago…) with just enough room left over for the aforementioned GS cookies.

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02/07/11
SF Cyclists - Accident Report Site
Filed under: general, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:40 am

Mirroring this post from the good folks over at Box Dog Bikes -

“A friend of
mine that works for the Bay Citizen came by the shop yesterday.  He said
they’re putting together a map that shows where all the bike accidents
are happening in San Francisco.  It will have a ton of data like what
are the causes, and what kinds of vehicles were involved when it
happened.  Unfortunately its based mostly on police reports, which
probably don’t reflect how many crashes there are in the city.  They are
launching this application on Monday and are trying to get some people
to submit their unreported accidents before then.  Please follow the link below to report yours.”

From the Bay Citizen:

“The Bay Citizen is asking bikers in San Francisco to submit
data about bike collisions they’ve experienced in the past in the Bay
Area. We’re building a new data application that displays collision
data in San Francisco on an in-depth interactive map, to help people
understand what’s happening on the streets and where more safety
measures are needed. We’re using data from SFPD, but we know many
accidents are never reported to the police. If you were in an accident
but never reported it, please take a couple minutes to fill out
this short form
and let us know where, when and how it happened. We will add your data
to this project, and we really appreciate your contribution!


comments (0)
12/01/10
November Mileage
Filed under: mileage, record keeping, bike commuting, fixed gear
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:48 am

Decent mileage finally.  Nothing wow-inducing, certainly.  Just a nice solid month with regular rides.  The thing I was most happy with was notching 319 with minimal longer rides.  The longest loop was around 45 miles mid-month.  On the downside, that means that I haven’t ridden “long” in a while - hmmm…. quite a while… - but it means that I ended up riding 21 days out of 30.  Consistency is a good thing.

It hurt a bit, too.  A little stiffer here and there and a few muscle aches. Regular riding puts a bit different stress on the system, and I’m still screaming home on the commute at a pretty good clip most nights. (That whole shorter ride/higher effort thing.) I’m feeling better when I do have to go for more throttle.  But, then one weekend of marginal weather, I just couldn’t raise the gumption to go a-ridin’.  Had to honor that, too.  Yoga still keeping things loose and restored.

Also wore my last Pasela down to the threads - which I only realized by flatting while on a lunchtime errand.  Danged fenders tend to obscure the visual check.  But, I do like wearing stuff out.

Bikey Miles in 2010 so far: 3768

comments (0)
10/21/10
Inevitable Progression
Filed under: general, rides, photos, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 12:39 pm

Ran an errand after leaving work, which positioned me nicely for looping home in an indirect manner. Heading eastward against a slight headwind, the true intent of the season became clear.  It’s fall.  Sure, it’s SF Bay Area fall and we’re not exactly knocking frost off the pumpkins, but it felt like this would be the last commute of the season with uncovered knees, and two thin layers of wool under a wind vest were just keeping me warm enough if I didn’t stop.

Folks stuck in cars began to turn their headlights on. Even if the sun wasn’t precisely below the horizon, it had at least dipped beneath the western clouds enough that the last rays only caught the highest hills. I’d replaced the batteries in my running lights the night before, and had some more serious illumination mounted and ready to roll. Even with leaving work a bit earlier than normal, safety demanded a quick pressing of the fore and aft buttons, and I became significantly easier to see.  But, it was still in that wonderful period of early dusk, with colors growing gray and a glow from the sky.

Pedaled and stretched away the drumming cadence of a kind of crazy day. Began to pick up more of a tailwind and stretched out to a couple of ticks above 20 mph, starting to feel easy and a bit smooth.  Even with the exertion, the cooling evening pushed through my sleeves a bit.

Up the hill and into the curves.  The breeze buffeted a bit, swirling in that way it does as seasons change, when it hasn’t yet settled into storm or calm mode.  A young two point buck appeared in the road before me, then trotted dead center in the oncoming lane as a car followed at an appropriate distance. As I looked back over my shoulder, the deer spotted a path and leapt up the hill. 

On the bay below me, it was low tide and as I looked back, the beauty of the rising moon just stopped me.

I slowed and pulled off the road to enjoy it for a bit.  Out of the winds, and with no breeze pushing past my ears, it suddenly was silent. It didn’t seem that even the crickets had kicked into gear yet.  I could hear my own slowing breath and watched a few birds working the edge of the mudflats.

One of those timeless moments.

The chill pressed in again and spurred me back onto the bike. But, that moment now traveled along with me.  Another of the reasons I ride.

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05/14/10
Lies, Damned Lies and Web Polls…
Filed under: general, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:25 am

Oh crikey… I KNOW more than 27 people rode their bike to work on Thursday (Bike to Work DAY) this week (Bike to Work WEEK)!

Go here:
http://www.marinij.com/index.html

and vote in the poll.

Gorgeous weather, happy attitude and a short post, cuz I’m actually working…

comments (0)
05/12/10
Bike Pledge
Filed under: general, interwebbishness, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 8:21 am

This filtered in off the mojo wire in the past week, and there’s still time to do something.  Unlike the insta-groups on Facebook, you can actually follow up your quest to create a million people by donating to the cause.

The goal of this group - People for Bikes - is pretty simple:

“The goal of peopleforbikes.org is to gather a million names of support,
to speak with one powerful voice—to let policy makers, the media and the
public know that bicycling is important and should be promoted.”

Check it out.  Add your name to the pledge.  As of this morning, it looked like they were in the low 20K range, so there’s a fair amount of ground to cover.  But, sign the pledge and share it with like-minded folks.

You might just win a bike…

comments (0)
04/07/10
Knives, Bikes, Politics
Filed under: general, video, people, rivendelica, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:33 am

Over on the RBW newsfeed, Grant had posted this link to a video with Tim Wright, a knifemaker who does not own a car -


I found it to be nicely thought-provoking and inspiring.  Makes me want to support Tim.  It’s encouraging to find the kind of quiet commitment that he demonstrates. 

He also demonstrates a beautiful spin in a couple of side view shots. You don’t just hop on a bike one morning and move like that.  It comes from years and miles of honing, gaining efficiency, finding the right balance. Just beautiful.

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11/30/09
Loose Threads and Weird Interwebbishness
Filed under: general, interwebbishness, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 5:53 pm

There have been a few things going on the past couple weeks, and as I mentioned in this post, I’ve been working on a longish-and-ever-lengthening post on cranks. (Well, cranks, bottom brackets and interface woes. You have been warned…)  However, there’s been a bit of an issue in getting these things posted. It’s turned out to be odd enough that I’ve got to share it.  Sorry for the clipped prose, but I’m having to do this at work, between phone calls and dealing with reports.

Last time I tried to log onto my blog at home, the page kept timing out, rendering the notice that the server was taking too long to respond. Same for the blog itself. Ok. Tippity-tap and I start a trouble ticket with my friends at hostway.com.  They get back to me within an hour, saying they can’t see anything wrong, and it renders, pings and traceroutes just fine for them. I try the same and it doesn’t, doesn’t and won’t.  Hmmm….  I share this back to them and they quickly make some suggestions, and using a non-cached web relay, get the thing to work.

This all points back to my ISP at home, who I contact via their real-time chat.  The funniest moment was when the first person said that they couldn’t see the page either.  I took this to mean that it was doing the same thing, giving me hope (well, terror, actually…) that it was an ISP issue. So, I asked for specifics of traceroutes, what error messages she was seeing, etc. Instead, she finally admitted that she couldn’t actually check the website, as she was prevented from doing so at her job. That would be “surfing”…. Uh. OK.

Got kicked up the chain 5 times (this was the day before Thanksgiving, so I really didn’t think there would be anyone actually working who might be able to diagnose the problem.)  The last two people pointed me to a form on their company site which would request that a site be unblocked.  At this point, it had taken too long and I needed to move onto other things. I thanked them and moved on. Did the unblocking thing.

Got an auto-responder email by the Thanksgiving morning, explaining that that IP address was not blocked and that email should be getting to me if sent from them.

OK, what we have here, is a failure to communicate…

But, the pointer kept swinging back to my end, and something being weird. Finally after chatting via email with JimG, I realized that I had dumbly never tried bypassing my router.  Did that and  - BAM - spicy internet log in web page…

Rerigged the stuff and then dug into the router - a Netgear wired 614v4 model.  Reset, reset again, set up and dug through every permutation of menus and pass-throughs and everything I could think of, all for naught.  Finally, sometime later on Thanksgiving night, I found my way to the Netgear help bbs and found out that this was a feature* of this series.  In other words, for no apparent reason, my router will not allow this one website to communicate with my computer. Of course, this worked fine a week or two ago.  Seems they get senile and/or decide they just don’t wanna play any more.

Suggested fixes seemed to involve a router from a different company. Which I just wasn’t going to do on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  So, it’s still languishing and I’m not posting regularly.

*First Rule of Computer Manuals - A bug can be defined as a feature by documenting it.


But, if I was posting, one of my thoughts during a recent ride to work was as follows:

California has one helluva budget problem right now. Based on my informal, entirely non-scientific, visual survey on the way to work today, I think they could go a long way toward fixing that if they enforced the “hands-free” wireless telephone use regulation

“The first law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (California Vehicle Code [VC] §23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a “hands-free device.” The second law prohibits all
drivers from texting while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23123.5). The
third law prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a wireless
telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC
§23124).”

A coworker got popped for this infraction earlier in the year, and it cost him more than $200, with added penalties.  I think I could have raised about $1800 on the way to work today, without even trying….

1 comment
11/05/09
Big City News, Little County News
Filed under: general, bike tech, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 2:07 pm

The LA Times has been publishing a number of  interesting articles on bicycle-specific topics of late. It’s nice to see the tone of the articles dealing with bicycles and cyclists as real, adult issues rather than the all-too-common ranty article describing a  caricature/stereotype “lycra-clad Lance/Lemond wanna-be…”.

Imagine: LA Bicyclists in the Driver’s Seat, One Day a Week

Bikes and cars: Can we share the road?

which generated some online comments here.

Physician accused of deliberately injuring two bicyclists is convicted

When Ford rejects you, make a bicycle

Read ‘em and if you have the interest, comment favorably to the editors.  Let them know that you are a cyclist and appreciate higher quality writing on these issues. One of the bylines to keep an eye on is Jerry Hirsch, who, in addition to having bicycle #100 in the Current Classics Gallery, is also a fine writer.  When I read his stuff (and most of what gets published in the LA Times), I am reminded again about the dearth of quality newspaper writing in the SF Bay Area.

However, the papers here do manage to occasionally surround a story.  The Marin IJ recently ran an article on an issue which has been a little out of public awareness - broader trail access in Marin County.  For those of you who haven’t studied mountain bike catechism, the mountain bike was invented in Marin County* and then uniformally banned from all trails but the widest vehicle access  roads (called “fire roads”).  There were significant public battles played out, and folks with the strongest opinions dug in across from one another reminiscent of World War One trench warefare in the Somme.   As the profoundly anti-bicycle-access-in-any-form folks created noise and cited disproven studies, two curious anomolies popped up - China Camp State Park allowed bicycles on singletrack trails (indeed, created a network of singletrack trails) and Tamarancho Boy Scout Camp created a pay-for-access system of even more singletrack goodness.

In the ensuing time period, most people realized that bikes weren’t the issue as much as continued development and proper trail design (combined with regular trail maintenence efforts, which the cyclists seem much more predisposed to engage in).  Bicycle riders learned how not to spook horses or hikers, and everyone seemed to get a helluva lot more reasonable.

In short, it’s come down to behavior.  If you blow past trail users of any type (or run into them like a doofus), your behavior is inappropriate for the conditions.  (And if ride trails and have never seen the IMBA Rules of the Trail, take a moment and read/refresh your memory.) 

The interesting thing is that in the comments section of this article -
Supervisors tackle Marin trail conflicts
there are a whole host of very familiar names to anyone who has followed Marin County trail politics.  Same old folks peering over the edge of the trench.

The encouraging thing is that the poll on the page was running roughly 70% - 30% in favor of more trail access for bicycles. It certainly is time to have a reasonable conversation about these things, address real issues like behavior of the trail users - everyone from littering hikers to folks who let their dogs chase wildlife to brain-dead cyclists and insensitive equestrians needs to realize the effect of their actions.

My personal belief is that a competent rider on a ~30 pound bicycle with working brakes has a lot more control over their momentum than a rider on a 900 - 1100 animal which has a separate and differently responding brain. (And yes, I do ride horses now and again also.)

One of the scariest moments I ever had on a trail was nearly being trampled by two riders galloping their horses where they shouldn’t have been doing so. But, the conclusion I drew from that was the riders were exhibiting antisocial and dangerous behavior.  Maybe they didn’t have a nickel’s worth of brains between them.  Maybe they were playing out some equestrian fantasy.  Maybe they just didn’t think I had as much right to hike the trail as they did to ride it. Whatever.

I don’t draw any further conclusion from that interaction than most - some people are self-centered jerks oblivous to what effects their actions are having.   That type of behavior wasn’t appropriate, but it doesn’t mean that most of the trail users aren’t respectful and safe. It’s the simple and easy interactions which get forgotten.

*this is the catechism - I realize that there are other reasonable theories as well…


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10/30/09
On the Road Again
Filed under: general, bike tech, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:05 am

Through a quirk of the calendar, 4 months to the day after someone popped their truck door open at
precisely the wrong time, the Quickbeam headed onto the
roadway again. After a frame check to make sure that nothing structural got bent or damaged, followed by attaching new handlebars, brake levers and stem (all replaced out of pocket because I’m still waiting for the other driver’s insurance to
settle up…), and another saddle swapped over, the bicycle seemed ready for duty.

Yes, I did set the brake cables using an underwrap of hemp twine, shellacked with, uh, shellac. (An intervention may be necessary, as I’ve observed before.)  Left the barends open, so they can take a core sample of anything that impales itself upon them. (I thought I had a set of Velox bar plugs - hell I know I do - but couldn’t find them before the ticking clock of “gottagetgoing” chimed…) Don’t think I’ll need to tweak the setup too much, but didn’t want to jinx it by wrapping everything into place. Commuted and did a short
errand after work, reminding myself again why I like this bicycle so
darned much.

Specifically -
It was great not to coast again.
It was great not to have to shift.
I really, really like the Jack Brown (Green) tires.  Had them set at 65/75 psi and they felt like velvet.
Having a front bag (the L’il Loafer) that fits exactly on the rack (Nitto Mini Front) makes my heart sing.

It was funny, the bike I rode most recently before this was the Zeus, which is nothing if not an acquired taste.  The frame is smallish - in the way we all downsized frames back in the last century - and between the lightish, standard gauge tubing and the significant leverage provided by the moustache bars, the bicycle flexes without hesitation under load.  With the 650B (584 bcd) tire conversion, it has the low stance of a badger, and the head angle and fork rake combine to give it a unique trail. The first mile or so on the Zeus are a lesson of correction, finding the combination of position and input to let the bike move the way it wants to.   Since I was using that more frequently, the idiosyncrasies became normal.

So, getting back on the Quickbeam took a little adjustment again - mostly to get used to a bike that acted entirely differently, but much, much more trustworthy.   Four months without riding this bicycle has been a travesty, and it felt wonderful to enjoy the cool sunshine of late October, pedaling, pedaling, pedaling the whole time.

Coasting is a Pernicious Habit

3 comments
07/03/09
Impact Update/Rehash
Filed under: general, unfortunate events, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:13 am

First, I wanted to thank everyone who commented here, over on Flickr or directly via email. Your thoughts are much appreciated.

Attended my yoga class last night for some extremely light movement. Though my range of motion was comically limited, my arm and shoulder feel a little better today.  The joints are really tender still, my left shoulder continues to have some issues and my neck is not exceptionally happy, but it seemed to relax the muscle tissue a bit. Which helped me to sleep better.

That yoga is powerful stuff. I’m really glad I started it when I did.  It has given me some useful strength in the upper body, which feels like it must have prevented further damage to my upper body when I hit the road.

Plus, as my wife reminds me, I fall really well.

Which isn’t really a joke attempt.  You see some folks hit the ground like a sack of cement or a big sheet of  plywood.  All that force goes right into them.  You wanna roll.  Stick nothing out and roll.

Not that you have any ability to think about it in any way.  As the saying goes, this thing happened so fast, I didn’t have time to react.  (And, as fodder for another bit of writing, I kind of always thought I would have that time…)  One second I’m heading home on a bit of familiar road and the next there’s a flash of white and serious pain in my right hand.  I could hear myself vocalizing, can recall the feeling of my helmet contacting the ground (though it wasn’t the first point of contact) and a sense of pretty good impact - but in a very general way.  (Based on what hurts the most, my right paw must have been pinned briefly between my brake lever and the truck door, and I hit first on the left side of my arm and shoulder.  Must’ve rolled too, as I ended up lying on my right side in the roadway.)

I don’t recall going out, but the timeline is all screwed up.  I could hear people yelling to dial 911, but it seemed like there were a lot of people around me all of a sudden.  Someone was telling me to stay down.

The first thing I did, and this cracks me up, was run my tongue around my teeth to make sure they were all there. The doc later said it was a reflex action. 

So, there I was. The road felt really hot, but I didn’t feel like moving. My neck and back just felt wicked wrenched, and my hand really hurt. Someone appeared with a wet towel and put it on my fingers.  We all hung out in the street until the cops got there, which was danged fast. EMT’s pretty quickly afterwards.

Once they heard “back & neck pain”, they wouldn’t let me move either. Plus, the people who saw said I had gone out.  The best I could do was say I didn’t think I had.  At least I had “4 by 4″ movement.

Here’s the indicator:  It was only about this time when I asked about my bike.

I actually think that’s pretty funny.

Anyway, the police and emt’s were great. The ambulance ride was really disorienting, because when you are strapped down looking up feeling your weight move right and left, it’s hard to figure out where you are. The lights go over your head in the hospital pretty much like in the movies and shows.  The ER crew were pretty sharp, too.

The coolest thing in the ER were the spotlights.  They hold this Star-Trekky device right were they need the light and then press a button.  Something spins on the top of the handheld unit and these two high-intensity spotlights adjust themselves from the ceiling.

About halfway through the sewing, I thought the doctor was done.  I guess that I didn’t really get a good look at things back in the street. It seems like he did pretty good work - you can check it out if you really want to:


(Yeah, you’ll have to click through to see the real image.)

It’s looking a bit better now, still pretty swollen, but not quite so meaty.  I just have to remember to stop bending the damned thing.  Anyway, this typing is catching up with my hands, so that’s the report for today.

2 comments
06/30/09
Hands are Important, Too
Filed under: general, rides, unfortunate events, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:05 am

Didn’t mean for this to become an appendage-focused theme or anything, but I spent last evening getting my neck, shoulder and hand x-rayed and finger sewn up.

Seems it’s never a good idea to let someone suddenly open up their truck door into you and try to use your finger as the padding.  Especially when you are underway in your lane, heading for home at the end of day.  Go figure.

As I mentioned on the Flickr page,
you do get a nifty bracelet. And tie-job.

Other salient facts:
About a dozen stitches to sew up a pretty good laceration. Caught it
all on the paw and then tumbled. Got to ride in an ambulance on a back board with
neck brace until the xray’s convinced ‘em no bone breakage. Shoulder,
neck and hand were concern. The police have the quickbeam so I won’t
know until I pick it up today. Feel like I’m typing with mittons. Pretty stiff and sore today.

More later, got some errands to do, obviously.

15 comments
06/26/09
SF Bike Plan Moves Forward
Filed under: general, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:56 am

Just a quick squib off of the mojo wire this morning -



S.F. planning board moves bike plan forward

Friday, June 26, 2009

(06-25) 21:47 PDT SAN FRANCISCO

As expected, the San Francisco Planning Commission certified the
Environmental Impact Report for the city’s far-reaching bike plan.

Thursday
night’s unanimous vote was needed to move the plan forward. The
proposal now goes before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation
Agency governing board for consideration Friday.

Implementation of the San Francisco Bicycle Plan, which calls for
striping an additional 34 miles of bike lanes on city streets and
making other improvements intended to make the city safer and more
convenient for cyclists, has been held up by court order. A Superior
Court judge issued an injunction three years ago to halt the plan until
a thorough environmental review was conducted.

Critics of the plan said they intend to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors.


The only thing that baffles me is exactly who would be a critic of said plan…


comments (0)
05/11/09
Monday, Monday
Filed under: general, photos, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:53 pm

Haven’t been taking too many photos on recent rides. Focus has been necessarily elsewhere of late, which means that I’ve had to sneak in miles a bit here and there.  I think I got my battery sets mixed up, so when I did pull the pencam out, it made a warbling beep and frizzled out.

But on the way in this  morning, there was a grand alignment of light, image and power sources, so when the feeling of efficiency and smoothness hit this morning, I remembered to take a few shots.

Nothing special.  I mean nothing really in the Big Picture sense.  Just a nice bit of road and smooth pedal stroke to start the day.

comments (0)
03/02/09
Tunnelling
Filed under: general, photos, bike commuting
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:02 am

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition had sent out these two photos a few weeks ago, to remind us that actual work had begun on the 1100 foot long Cal Park Hill Tunnel between San Rafael and Larkspur.  The project broke ground back in September, after a final meeting green-lighted it in - what ?- February 2007.  (Project info

The only truly aggravating aspect is that the fine folks in Larkspur pushed for limited access.  Currently, the plan is to have the tunnel open from 5 am until 11 pm for the first 6 months, and then re-evaluate that.  Of course, this means they need to create a lockable exterior, pay for someone to go open it and then close it (at both ends) each day. When the Larkspur City Council members asked in the meetings for safety statistics for tunnels which were closed versus thosse which were opened, they found that no major tunnels on either commute or recreational routes ever closed.  The Cal Park tunnel would be the first.  Which means that if you were to roll up to the Larkspur end at 11:05 or so, you would find yourself at a dead end, with little visibilty from anywhere. Seems to me to be a much more dangerous situation than anything which can occur with an open tunnel, on a commute route between two cities.

I guess it’s one small step at a time. I’m resisting (well, I guess I’m not) the comment that the folks in Larkspur don’t want certain elements of San Rafael to have easy night time access to their protected area of the county.  Anyway.  That’s not helpful.

The point I was going to make is that things are progressing. There’s actually a video from ABC-7 News which was taken about the same time (early February).  Some decent historical footage regarding the extensive inter-urban electric train system which networked Marin County once upon a time.  (And I just found that an MCBC member has been posting more images on this project to Flickr.)

Anyway - these two images were forwarded in a recent MCBC email update -

This photo shows the removal of the old, wooden arches and crossmembers, in preparation for new steel arches and shotcreting.

In the photo below, you can see how much progress has been made.

Newly repaired section of Cal Park Tunnel

All of which is wonderful, but it’s still only the first of the many lost-but-not-forgotten tunnels in the county.  This Wednesday, in Mill Valley, there’s a meeting on the Alto Tunnel.  This runs underneath Camino Alto and could connect Mill Valley with Corte Madera. (And no, you don’t have to use the tunnel if they built it - you can still go over the hill if you want to…)  There is more significant opposition to the study and the potential reuse of this connector.  So, it would be good meeting to attend.

Mill Valley to Corte Madera Bike and Pedestrian Corridor Study Public Workshop

Wednesday, March 4th, 6:30 PM
Edna Maguire School: 80 Lomita, Mill Valley

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition encourages you to attend this very important public meeting hosted by the County of Marin, which will focus on existing conditions and the upcoming evaluation of potential bicycle/pedestrian routes between Mill Valley and Corte Madera.

Included in this study will be an evaluation of opening the Alto Tunnel. The Alto Tunnel has long been considered an ideal route for connecting Mill Valley and Corte Madera, creating a safe, fast, and flat route for bicycle commuters, recreational riders, and pedestrians. This route would help get people out of their cars, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the local business districts of both Mill Valley and Corte Madera. Also being studied are the routes over Camino Alto and Horse Hill.

The link between Mill Valley and Corte Madera is the biggest gap in the North-South Greenway (a pathway separated from cars) being built between Sausalito and Sonoma County. Please attend this meeting to indicate your support for the safest and best design alternatives. We’ve been waiting 8 years for this study to begin – now is the time to get involved!

If you can attend, please RSVP to Andy Peri: Andy@marinbike.org or call 415-457-0802

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