This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and develops a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Admissions...Obsessions.

     This is just one of those things I have to get off my chest.  It comes under the area of confessions, but I'm not catholic so I can't hide in a little chamber and tell stories to somebody sleeping in the one next door.  It's not that important anyway.  It all started when another Kryptonite key broke in my U-Lock. Actually it was a -26F  windchill that day, and I had no business being out. Nearly anything metal turns brittle as glass at that temperature, but I'm still pissed off.
That's right, I said another key. 
                                    
 The first one broke right after I bought it and it wasn't even cold.  They sent me the"two key, guaranteed replacement deal" with no problem.  This time, the lock won't let go of the piece it bit off.  So, despite the fact that the lock will work with the broken key, it shouldn't, and I ain't gonna trust it.  I can just see me locking it up in a questionable part of Chicago (yes, they still have that) and not being able to get my bike loose without an angle grinder.  In which case the local professional craigslist recycle-rs would get it before me.  So I threw the lock away.


I have a better one, an Abus Bordo which I will use instead, but that's not the point.
       The act of discarding a lock created horrible emotional torture.  Well, one night anyway.   I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming that I had suffered bike theft.  Not just any bike theft,   It was my Hunqapillar.  Well, not exactly. I dreamt they stole the Bullmoose Bosco bars.  What does this have to do with a broken key in a U-Lock which was not intended to protect the handlebars?  I don't know, but I think the failure of that key has set in motion a condition of totally irrational paranoia which would make any trial lawyer salivate.  Like the one who is suing the estate of the child killed by his client.   This woman is claiming millions in reparations after a night of drinking at a local pub led to her killing an adolescent on a bike and injuring two others.  Try to ignore the fact that she was not given a sobriety test at the scene, and that her husband is a police officer. That is an obvious coincidence.  But, now she is claiming the children did not operate their brakes properly and she is losing sleep!  Hey! I woke up in a cold sweat and had to change my pillowcase, that should be worth a few mil.  I blame the public school system.   It has gotten too easy to get a law degree.   Seriously, there are too many hungry lawyers out there!  Put 'em on food stamps, maybe they won't be such a pain in the ass.
I'll have to take a ride on this to help calm me down and get to sleep.
     I do think it very important that somebody decided to use a bikeway to demonstrate the new solar collecting roadway panels.  It's a technology which can make a serious difference in the world.  Trying to recreate a Van Gogh seems a bit odd, but I'll take the token offer and attempt since it looks absolutely titillating and will set an example for the rest of the world.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Riding against the grain

It's finally winter here in the wonderland of it all, and the subject of my commuting keeps coming up.
Non-cyclists have this enormous fear and misunderstanding that we are out there elbow to elbow with buses and cars on icy city streets.  It gets hard to explain that I ride the streets that are off the main drag, or go the opposite direction of major commuting stream.  In the morning I ride right down the busiest street in the county.  It's the one that every town has, where you will find a couple shopping malls and every big box store and fast food franchise on the planet.  What people don't realize is that while I travel, those businesses are closed and their massive parking lots are well lit and deserted.  Even for the few blocks that I must use the streets, the majority of  traffic is going the opposite direction so I have the street to myself, and, if need be, I use the traffic signals to clear the streets for me.   I wait at a parking lot until the previous signal stops traffic
leaving me with all four lanes virtually to myself.
 In the afternoon the same street looks like this.  

The typical grand prix of consumerism,
with curb to curb frenetic racing to get from store to store to freeway exit.
That is when it is best to find a side street 
or an MUP a few blocks out of the way.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Last year, all over again!

The past year was a pretty good time for cycling. 
 I hit an all time record low, in auto mileage that is. 
 For the first time ever I was not stricken near bankruptcy by N+1 syndrome.
I just put a lot of mileage on the bikes themselves.
From the early spring without a leaf or blade of live grass to break up the wind, 
I did a four day trip to the lake and back.
I enjoyed the epic W Ave ride across Kalamazoo county.
A route so sublime that a Twizzler is used for a map
and nobody got lost.
At another vintage bike weekend in April, 
 I learned there is a hill in Chicago's west suburbs.
In the beginning of June I found a new annual destination
   I met my first Warmshowers guest, an intrepid cross country rider from South Korea.
       
The Old Dog Tavern continued it's tradition of Vintage Bike shows.
I bought a few new camping gadgets.
And found a couple new favorite spots.
Amtrak is trying to make it easier to travel with a bike.
The ride to the city of big shoulders was pleasant, but
more pleasant was finding I can avoid this type of neighborhood in Gary

and ride home on a pleasant network of trails like this from Chicago to Michigan City.

Somebody tell this girl to put a helmet on please!

The bigger trip of the year was going to Minneapolis
where I was able to test the full selection of Surly 29er's and Fat Bikes.
As well as enjoy a day around the river bottoms and another exploring

For a change we had a beautiful day for the Forest and Foliage in the Fall ride!
I captured a year in Haiku.
Revisited the Lakeshore with another Chi-town Vintage Pornfest.
The year desolved into a colorless and bleak,
although warm winter.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Gadgetime!

There's been this big thing going around where people are investing in expensive helmet cameras to film their epic cycling adventures.  Most of them go hand in hand with the overpriced toy bicycles being snapped up by would be athletes who can't afford a Maserati and were never the athletes they want to be.  In other words overpriced.  Now Go-Pro cameras and their infinitely pricey accessories are really good.  I don't question the quality of the product or the price they ask.  The judgement of the people who buy them to record their "epic" charity rides on their crabon crotch rockets is definitely questionable. I have never been that guy who could utilized one really, because I don't do aerial gymnastics on bicycles over cliffs, trails and canyons that would make Evil Knievel's gonads shrivel up and hide.  I do go places in traffic.  I don't want to bore the general public or my relatives with a record of that achievement, but I think it might be useful to have a video recording  running, just case something bad happened.  If it did, I would have a video of what happened proceeding and following the incident.  The lawyer of my heirs would probably find it convenient to gain justice and collect a big fee.  So the interweb came to the rescue and the infinitely intellectual advertising platform of Google actually produced.  
I got me one of these, a Minoura handlebar camera mount.  It is a quick release way to mount a camera on your handlebars.  It can be handy with a regular camera, while traveling and taking pictures, your handlebars can be used in place of a tripod for a stable shot, or action stills.
I also found this, the RetiCam holder for a cell phone meant to attach a cell phone to a tripod.
I ignored the fact that they can't spell "ready." 
 Don't  tell me it's a trademark issue, nobody owns the word "ready."
Put together the two look like this.  Ignore the inadvertant "F," it really is a scratch on the desk and means nothing.  They look a little goofy until you put a cell phone in there,

 then they look like, "Hurry up, what is the point?"

The point is they attach a cell phone conveniently to the handlebars so a video of a bike ride can be recorded. NBD,  No special anything, just another way to use a smart phone.  The video is not the quality I have seen on the proprietary cameras and camcorders, but in the past 40 years I haven't needed the reference, how great does it have to be?  I think the convenience of it might be worth something,  When I know I am riding in traffic, I'll use it, when I'm not I won't.  The $40 worth of mounts will each find other uses and probably more than a $100-$500 piece of professional quality equipment.  I expected the quality of the video to be worse than it was.  The handlebars have to create more vibration than a helmet mount, but it wasn't that bad.  Since it is a quick release utilitarian device, I was pretty happy with both the quality and convenience.

                                               
Don't bore yourself with much, it will give you an idea of the quality.
This was taken over packed ice/snow with a couple inches of loose snow on top.
I expected much more vibration than I saw.