Saturday, December 31, 2011

Strong Finish

Got in a 20-plus mile ride today (December 31) ... in shorts! (If I had a do-over, I'd choose long pants. It was in the upper 30s and I knew I was pushin' it.)

For the month - 496 miles. For the year - 6606 miles. My second-best-ever year for cumulative miles, and my 9th year with more than 6000.

If only success were measured solely by bike-miles, huh?

A year ago, as I contemplated the topic of new years' resolutions, I "publically" resolved "to be a transportation cyclist in 2011." I guess I did allright... I showed up at work 228 times in '11, all of 'em on the bike.

In 2012? Um, I'll try to be a transportation cyclist. And... 150K miles* is just over 6000 miles distant. I'll shoot for that.

(Cumulative miles, since I started "transportation cycling" and keeping track, in 1986)

If you're reading this, I hope you got in some quality saddle time this year... and that you do even better next year! Be safe. May the wind be at your back. May the goatheads be scarce.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Big - and illegal - bike load

I hope a trailer was involved...

Dude gets stopped by the cops (in Pasadena), riding at night without the required headlight and rear reflector. (It's nice to see the police doing their job and enforcing bicycle laws, huh? Not enough of that!)

During the traffic stop, dude is busted for having 23 pounds of Narcotic Cannabis in a cooler. (Story Here.) Bummer, maaannnnnn!

I'm no expert, but I'm thinkin':
1) That's too much reefer for the guy to claim it was just his personal stash, and
2) That much reefer would be like a bale! It must've been one of those big Igloo football-team-size coolers. And I hope the guy wasn't packin' it under one arm as he rode or something.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ever bike?

"Ever bike? Now that's something that makes life worth living! ... Oh, to just grip your handlebars and lay down to it, and go ripping and tearing through streets and road, over railroad tracks and bridges, threading crowds, avoiding collisions, at twenty miles or more an hour, and wondering all the time when you're going to smash up. Well, now, that's something! And then go home again after three hours of it ... and then to think that tomorrow I can do it all over again!"

― Jack London

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pain at the Pump '11

According to a CNBC Story, "the typical American household will have spent $4,155 filling up this year, a record. That is 8.4 percent of what a median family takes in, the highest since 1981."

The Missus fills up the Family Truckster every 3 weeks or so... she probably poured $2000 worth of gas into the tank in '11.

I spent maybe $500 on gas this year, and 90-plus percent of that was for two motorcycle adventures - to the California Redwoods, and to eastern Washington.

That's bad! A story last spring said the Energy Department estimated the cost would be $3235 for the year - up 28 percent from the previous year. Turns out that estimate was way low. Mamma mia!

$4155 - that's a big hit on the budget of us "99 percenters," no? I think of the stuff we would've gone without, if we'd spent that much on gas. That thought helps motivate me to get pedalin' on some of these cold winter mornings.

And speaking of cold winter mornings... like everybody else, I'm growing a bit concerned that I'm not seeing any snow up on those nearby mountains. December has been as dry as dust! But on the bright side, I sure love riding my bicycle on dry, traction-sand-free roads. That is a luxury this time of year.

From the story: "Next year isn't likely to bring relief." But taking up bicycle transportation could bring a huge amount of relief! Plus, if a few million people did it, it would modify the supply/demand equation in a meaningful way... maybe gas would drop by $1/gallon. (Of course, if that put everybody back in their cars, the price would go back up. Like most businesses, the oil companies will charge for their product what the market will bear.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

We need a bike-riding president!

Yeah, I'm a special-interest group. A one-issue voting bloc.

Can our president ride a bike? Competently?

George W. Bush attracted plenty of detractors and criticism, but he set the bar for bike-riding presidents. His Secret Service guys were frequently huffin' and puffin' to keep up. He even flew out to Idaho and rode at the Tamarack Resort. (Sadly, because of security issues, it's unlikely we'll ever have a bike-commuting president.)

President Obama has proven that he can at least keep his bike upright. He has been seen occasionally riding a "comfort bike," most often with his family. Nothin' wrong with that.

How about the others who are vying for president?

Ron Paul (my favorite candidate in many respects... but I digress) recently had his photo - riding a bike - on the Drudge Report. So he, too, can at least keep the bike upright (while riding with one hand!), but his quadriceps don't give the impression he's "king of the mountain."

I found a photo of Mitt Romney riding a bike - many years ago in a previous life as a Mormon missionary. And once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget... right?

(That's Mitt on the right... the one with the awesome hair!)

Regrettably, I can't find a photo of Michele Bachmann on a bike. And not too surprisingly, no photos of the Newtster on a bike, either. (haha!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The cyclists' Christmas carol

Isaac Watts must've been a cyclist.

Watts wrote "Joy to the World."


No more let sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground...
(Verse 3)

Santa on a Bicycle - Germany

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Riding in the Canal

Once farming season is over in these parts, they turn off the water in the canals.

Years ago, my daughter Hollie and I enjoyed a ride up the channel of the Ridenbaugh Canal, from Protest Avenue eastward. On Saturday I invited Miss Mackie to give it a try, and she was game.

The temperature was in the upper 30s, but not warm enough to melt the ice. We rode carefully over the shorter patches, and walked across the longer ones. We rode under Broadway Avenue, which was an adventure all to itself.





I can't in good conscience recommend this ride. The concrete is rarely sidewalk-smooth, and three of our four tires came back with goatheads. And there are a lot of rocks, dirt piles, weeds, patches of water or ice, and other obstacles.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The first "mountain bikers"?

The modern "safety bicycle" came into being in the late 1800s, and was embraced by the public at the time... and is largely responsible for starting the evolution toward paved roads. The hoardes of cyclists demanded better-quality roads than the muddy thoroughfares that crossed the Fruited Plain up 'til that time. (That would be a hard pill to swallow, for many in our car-centric society nowadays.)

(For anybody interested in bicycle history, I recommend the book Bicycle: The History, by David V. Herlihy. It's comprehensive... and has lots of good photos and illustrations.)

Normally we think of the "mountain bike" as originating in the Bay Area, in the late-70s, early-80s. And indeed, that is when cycling enthusiasts first had the vision of a recreational bicycle ideally suited for trails and dirt-road travel.

However, it could be argued that "mountain biking" was already 80 years old by then. A couple weeks back, I was watching a show on PBS about Yellowstone National Park, and an old photo caught my eye - of a group of cyclists posed on the geologic features at Mammoth Hot Springs.

I did a bit of digging, and discovered The 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps.

They were organized in 1896. According to the Fort Missoula Museum website, "The Corps, consisting of eight black enlisted men, soon was riding in formation, drilling, scaling fences up to nine-feet high, fording streams, and pedaling 40 miles a day. Each bicycle carried a knapsack, blanket roll, and a shelter half strapped to the handlebar. A hard leather frame case fit into the diamond of each bicycle and a drinking cup was kept in a cloth sack under the seat. Each rider carried a rifle (first slung over the back, later strapped to the horizontal bar) and 50 rounds of ammunition."

As for the bikes... they had steel rims, tandem spokes, heavy-duty frame components, and weighed 32 pounds.

In 1897, they rode, essentially cross-country, from Missoula to St. Louis, a distance of 1900 miles, in 34 days. Provisions were dropped along the way at intervals, but they rode - or pushed, in the really gnarly stretches - the whole distance. It wasn't easy. They were "greeted triumphantly" at every whistle-stop along the way.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that bicycles never caught on in certain situations, for military transportation. Probably too cheap.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cycling at the southern axis

Dacre, the son of my friend Crystal, is working/adventuring in Antarctica. And he's discovered Antarctic cycling! (Some nice photos there...)

Suddenly I feel like a wuss for getting all dressed-down when it goes below 20 degrees. (Of course, it is summertime down Antarctica way... or at least late spring.) I doubt Dacre bike-commutes to work, but I'm happy he's able to saddle-up. Also, looks like there aren't quite as many trees as back home in Colorado.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Elite Snobs?

Elite (Merriam-Webster): The choice part.

Writer Will Doig asks, "Are urban bicyclists just elite snobs?" in an very interesting column at

It looks like thousands have commented; I just read the first page of (predictable) comments. Doig: "Railing against bikes, in fact, [is] a great way to sell papers. A hundred years ago, newspapers ginned up scare stories about the threat that hapless women on bicycles posed to pedestrians. Today, old-school tabloids like the New York Post have found that the bicyclists-versus-everyone narrative still resonates."

Never discuss politics, religion, guns, or bicycles at the family holiday party! haha

Doig believes that cyclists need to turn the attitude down a few notches, because they're often unintentionally rubbin' people the wrong way. "Jeff Mapes, author of 'Pedaling Revolution,' thinks the smugness factor is almost accidental: 'I know a lot of cyclists who say their commute is the best part of their day' — not exactly the kind of thing that the co-worker who just spent an hour in gridlock wants to hear at the water cooler."

He writes from the big-city (Manhattan) perspective... feels that drivers feel threatened as their infrastructure is shrunk to make way for bicycle infrastructure. I know we have some of that resentment in less-populated Boise, but it's not felt as acutely, I'm sure.

Do I feel "elite" because I ride a bicycle? Heck yes! That makes me totally superior to those losers in their cars! But if I wear it on my sleeve, maybe I'm doing more harm than good. Besides, I'm not sure I'm part of the "elite snob" demographic, which Doig portrays as "young people and newcomers," encroaching on the establishment. Heck - I was cycling before most of those "trendy hipster" cyclists were even born, and I've been here for the duration. (My contemporaries are the ones who are complaining about those whippersnappers on their velocipedes.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Be in court on 12/15!

From the Citizens for an Open Greenbelt Facebook presence:

Mark you calendar for December 15th. For those who can attend, a reminder that our hearing before Judge Cheri Copsey is on Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 3:30pm at the Ada County Courthouse. Our attorneys would like as many of you to be there as possible to demonstrate to the judge that this is an important issue in the Treasure Valley for those who believe that our Greenbelt should be truly open. The judge will be hearing COG's Motion for Summary Judgement and Garden City's Request for Dismissal.

I hope to be there.

If you're a cyclist, but wouldn't often have occasion to use that stretch of the Greenbelt... why does it matter?

Here's why I'm involved:
1) The Greenbelt is envisioned, by those who first envisioned it and by many Greenbelt users ever since, as a contiguous bicycle path that will eventually go all the way from Lucky Peak Dam to Eagle Island... and perhaps points beyond.
2) It's the principle of the thing. I'm offended by a 2-bit provincial mayor - John Evans - whose power has evidently gone to his head. All Idaho citizens should be offended, since it was us who gifted that stretch of Greenbelt to Garden City, with the stipulation that it be maintained as a bike path. Yep - that's the wording in the agreement. Garden City's citizens should be offended that the mayor has spent $15,962 of their dollars (as of October) to fight those who are trying to get it reopened.

I expect Judge Copsey to do the right thing for THE PEOPLE. And I hope to be there, to watch her do the right thing.