Bike Mechanic: Tales From the Road and the Workshop

Bike Mechanic: Tales From the Road and the Workshop covers the history and the work for bicycle mechanics who work the professional pro peloton.

Bike Mechanic: Tales from the road and the workshop.   This book is interesting in a way I did not expect .

Written and photographed by the road cycling loving nerds behind Roleur Magazine, this 272 page book includes about 150 pages of workshop and tool porn. Author Guy Andrews devotes two pages to the humble quick release lever, and a full ten pages to tubular tires.

6 full pages of photos about tubular tires in the book _Bike Mechanic_ published by VeloPress

While this book is not strictly a how-to guide, Guy covers the essential tools of bike maintenance. Everything from tire repair to the most beautifully illustrated guide to cutting steerer tubes that I’ve seen are covered in the repair basics.

We learn the history of neutral support (accidentally invented by Manufacture d’Articles Vélocipédiques Idoux et Chanel — Mavic — when a team director’s car broke down before a race); we see the workshops used by pro teams; we learn how to drive support cars amongst a bunched crowd at racing speeds; and exhortations to “Don’t try this at home, kids; we’re professionals with years of experience and training.”

But we’re enthusiasts, too, so you know we’re gonna try.

Bike Mechanic published by VELO Press will be available November 1, 2014. Look for it at your local bike shop, or pre-order now from Amazon, Powells, or from Bookshop Santa Cruz.\

For those of you thinking of gift ideas for Christmas, this one makes a reasonably priced present for the bike addict in your life.

Disclosure: VELO Press routinely sends me new books in exchange for consideration. The ones I really like get a full page workup. I have a backlog of other books to review if somebody would like to give it a shot – find me at SF Bike Expo on November 22 if you’d like to talk shop.

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As the years go by I think more and more about my own mortality.  The subject of my inevitable demise is tremendously important to everybody in the world, because I'm a solipsist and when I cease to exist so do you.  In any case, this morning the following article caught my eye, and I'm not reproducing the accompanying images because they're fucking creepy:

I didn't have the patience to actually read it carefully because life's too damn short to attempt to understand science stuff, but basically what I gleaned from it is that if you surround yourself with stuff from your heyday you can retard [*snorfle*] the aging process or something.  Specifically, they herded up a bunch of doddering old people and had them spend a few days in an environment that replicated their heyday, and when they emerged again they were all spry and stuff:

At the end of their stay, the men were tested again. On several measures, they outperformed a control group that came earlier to the monastery but didn’t imagine themselves back into the skin of their younger selves, though they were encouraged to reminisce. They were suppler, showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller — just as Langer had guessed. Perhaps most improbable, their sight improved. Independent judges said they looked younger. The experimental subjects, Langer told me, had “put their mind in an earlier time,” and their bodies went along for the ride.

That's some "Cocoon" shit right there:

"So what does this have to do with cycling?," the slow-witted among you may be asking.  Oh, only that crabon will kill you and being a retrogrouch may be the key to immortality, that's all.  It's science!

Here's a little experiment: take Cyclist A and Cyclist B.  At around the time he hit middle age, Cyclist A said in an old-timey accent, "Index shifting, plastic saddles, and non-ferrous bicycle frames is for 'da boids."  Well guess what?  Cyclist A is 99 years old now and he's jamming up those hills on his Dick Power like a man one-quarter his age.   Don't believe me?  I seen it for meself, I tells ya!  Check him out, he's the guy in red:

He was 89 years old when he did his first L'Eroica in 2004, and now look at him!

Now let's take a look at Cyclist B.  On paper, he's the same age as Cyclist A.  However, instead of forsaking useless technological bicycle "innovation," he tried to keep up and remain on the cutting-edge--crabon frames, electronic shifting, Strava, you name it.  Here he is today:

A cautionary tale if there ever was one.

So disembark from the Upgrade Express before it's too late.  (Though in the above Fred's case I'm sure all those drugs didn't help.  And yes he took drugs.)

Speaking of aging Freds, this weekend George Hincapie is hosting the most heavily-rationalized Gran Fondo of all time:

This is a big deal because, as everybody knows, cycling is totally clean now.  So what happens when the squeaky-clean kiddies mingle with the dirty old men?  Will they be corrupted?  Well, obviously the answer is "They already have been," since the dirty old men run the teams now and the riders continue to take drugs.  Nevertheless, the media has to pretend this is a big deal by making everybody explain themselves:

VeloNews reached out to several of those pros, past and present, who are participating, for comment.

Most, including Armstrong and Hincapie, addressed their involvement with event, either via email, phone, or in person, while a few — Vande Velde and Livingston — did not.

Some addressed the inherent awkwardness of the reunion, others did not.

Their replies follow below.

Suffice to say the rest reads like a bunch of dieters explaining to you at great length why they're going to treat themselves to that slice of birthday cake.

Meanwhile, the Tour de France route for 2015 has been unveiled, and--SURPRISE!--they're riding through France again:

The above map is actually the Tour de France route from like two years ago, but honestly what's the difference?  You know the deal: mountains, sprint stages, a finish in Paris, yadda yadda.  Even the riders are sleepwalking through the whole thing at this point.  For example, Cadel Evans was at the presentation, having completely lost track of the fact that he's retiring in February:

("I feel like I'm forgetting something...")

Soon though he shook the nagging sensation he didn't need to be there and was back to his old tricks:

Being a semi-professional bike blogger, I launched my Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking app to find out what they were looking at:

Unsurprisingly, Mark Cavendish was nonplussed:

And it would be hours before Vincenzo Nibali realized that Jean-Christophe Péraud had superglued his finger to his face:

So yeah, the whole gang is off to France again, where the mountains are mountainous, the Freds are Frédérics, and the meat is tainted.

Oh, here's some news for you: Remember DU/ER, the action pants for restless metrosexual d-bags who lie in wait in a squatting position so they can go doody on other men's heads?

Well, not only have they received lots of press coverage:

But they also sent this smug email:

I thought you would be interested to know that we are in the final 6 days of our DU/ER Performance Denim Kickstarter campaign. Having raised 25,000 in just 5 days, we now have exceeded to $42,000! Some key elements of DU/ER performance denim is the quick dry, temperature control and is 30% lighter and stronger than traditional denim and proven to have 5 times the strength then the Levi's commuter jean. We would love for you to be able to experience our denim for yourself. Please contact us to experience DU/ER denim. You can also check out our Kickstarter campaign by following this link:

If you have any questions please feel to contact me at your earliest convenience. 

No thanks.  I don't want to experience DU/ER denim.  My fear is that if I experience the denim then copies of "Details" magazine will start appearing in my mailbox and I'll have to start shopping for a Range Rover.

Lastly, further to yesterday's post about bridges, a reader tells me that officials are considering charging pedestrians and cyclists to cross the Golden Gate Bridge:

On Friday, Highway and Transportation District directors said they are considering charging a toll for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

The sidewalk tolls would be part of a plan to eliminate $32.9 million over the next five years and would start charging in July 2017.

If this toll were to go into effect it would set a dangerous precedent, for it wouldn't be long before the idea of a "Fred Tax" would sweep the nation--and if they charge by the axle we'll all have to ride unicycles.

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The Holy Week of Cyclocross

holy_week_cx_2014_rothmeyer31Cyclocross for many of us is a religion, a devotion to mud, dust, rain and rutted corners is the reason we get out of a bed in the morning. We travel far and wide to practice our faith with growing numbers of others that have fully converted to the ‘cross. Our church is anywhere that open space and plastic course tape meet to create a gauntlet of turf, stairs and wooden planks testing both skill and endurance to find the proper balance between suffering and speed. Our Mecca in North America is New England, and for a 10 day period known as Holy Week thousands travel from all around to participate in what has easily become the biggest series of races in the country.

The Holy Week of Cyclocross consists of seven races over the course of a week and a half. Beginning in Lancaster, MA with the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross and ending some 10 days later in Providence, RI. To fill the space in between the kickoff and finale is arguably the biggest race of the year in Gloucester, MA and possibly the most fun you can have at race while getting lapped by Barry Wicks in Shrewsbury, MA at the Night Weasel Cometh. Holy Week attracts the faithful from all over the globe to compete and congregate in what is a grand celebration of all things cyclocross. It’s easy to be overwhelmed on your first visit to the Motherland by the shear number of competitors, by the size of the beer garden and what the perfect ale is to compliment your sweet potato taco, by the guy with “Good Will Hunting” accent trying to smash you through the tape on lap one and by the fact that you are taking a warm up lap behind Katie Freakhin Compton! But it is also all of those things that draws us to these events, the sights and sounds of 150 people on course at once is something you can only experience at the biggest of races, and at races like Gloucester and Providence you get to experience it over and over throughout the day. Holy Week is kind of like a cyclocross stage race, with so many racing days in close proximity to one another your body starts crave more food and more rest but when the whistle blows to start the next race it easily accepts the punishment it’s about to endure.

Under the lights on muddy ski slopes or on the cool rocky shores of the Atlantic it’s easy to lose yourself in the moment of the race, the pain that your legs and lungs are experiencing lessens as you enter tunnels of sound encouraging you to go “haahda dyude!” It’s through these experiences that makes it easy for one to fully believe in cyclocross. So if you are one of the believers and you spend your summers smelling mastik one and praying to a shrine of Erik De Vlaemink you owe it to yourself and to the gods of cyclocross to make the pilgrimage to New England for Holy Week.

Words and images submitted by Brett Rothmeyer. Contact us at to submit your image galleries, videos or local news reports.


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Driver Hits Cyclist, Sues for Damages

modelAnd in the news of the extremely arrogant and entitled, Gothamist reports a driver hit cyclist, John Roemer, this past May and is now taking him to small claims court for damages to her car. As you can see in the photo, apparently her car was completely destroyed and it only makes sense to sue, no? Mind you, this is after Roemer ended up in the ICU for days, and even though the driver’s insurance admitted fault. But you know, SOMEONE has to pay for damages to her car and why would it ever be the negligent driver?

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I Love Riding in the City – Marni Duffy and Dena Driscoll

momsNAME: Marni Duffy and Dena Driscoll
OCCUPATION: moms + Kidical Mass Organizers, Dena: non-profit, Marni: small business owner

Where do you live and what’s it like riding in your city?
We live in Philadelphia. We bike daily with (and without) our kids for transportation. We find many things about Philadelphia’s infrastructure very frustrating. There is one protected bike lane (or cycle track). It is 1/4 mile long and connects a casino to a busy intersection, with numerous driveways interrupting it where cars have the right-of-way. Our bike lanes are just dooring lanes, perfectly placed between parked cars and whizzing traffic. Our two main buffered bike lanes are just free parking spots for construction workers, property owners, church goers, and the Philadelphia Parking Authority (sometimes even the Philadelphia Police, though they prefer regular bike lanes).
Dena started ‘Give Mom a Bike Lane’ (@bikelaneMOM) so that we can let our snarkiness fly on why protected bike lanes are important if we want people ages 8-80 to ride their bikes for transportation and pleasure. Philadelphia is not prioritizing safe streets for pedestrians and cyclists and is continuing to prioritize parking and driving lanes.
We also organize monthly family bike rides, called Kidical Mass Philadelphia ( We want to help as many families get out on bikes as possible.

What was your favorite city to ride in, and why?
Dena: Philadelphia because I know it so well.

Marni: Midland, Michigan, where I lived from ages 1-6. My mom pulled my younger brother and I in a trailer all through town. It is how I got to school, the grocery store, the playground, and friends’ houses. I loved the fresh air. My brother would nap and my mom would be so happy to be outdoors getting some exercise.

Why do you love riding in the city?
We love riding in the city because we think it’s a great way to get around town. It’s just fun! To breath the air, interact with people, talk to our children about what they see, hear, smell, and feel, and to push ourselves past what we thought we could handle. Getting our blood pumping is a great way to stay happy and healthy. We love being able to bike to the grocery store, the post office, preschool, work, the laundromat, the bike shop, museums and parks, meetings, the waterfront, and the library.

Check out

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Portraits of cyclists : Learning to cycle at 12 is considered as “very late”

“I from Copenhagen. I bike to work almost every day. Actually, it can depend on the weather. I...

For the full photographic glory and the rest of the text, you know where to go. The Original Cycle Chic awaits.
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Golden Gate Bridge considers sidewalk toll for walkers, cyclists

Golden Gate Bridge District staff float a proposal to charge a toll for walkers, skater and cyclists who cross the iconic span between Sausalito and San Francisco.

Pedestrians on the bike path

From the Marin Independent-Journal:

On Monday the [Golden Gate Bridge] district released a 45-point plan to keep the agency solvent in the next five to 10 years as it grapples with a five-year, $33 million deficit.

Among the initiatives: “Evaluate sidewalk access fees” for bikes and pedestrians, which could be implemented in 2017.

“It is by no means set in stone. It’s just a concept right now,” says district spokeswoman Priya Clemens.

An estimated 6,000 cyclists and 10,000 pedestrians cross the the Golden Gate every day. When the Golden Gate Bridge district last considered a sidewalk toll ten years ago, they estimated an annual take of $500,000 to $1.5 million. The Marin Bicycle Coalition say they vehemently oppose such a toll, even for tourists and other occasional users.

110,000 vehicles crossed the bridge daily in fiscal 2013. Vehicle tolls currently generate a little over $100 million annually for the bridge district, with another $30 million from transit fares, $15 million from operating assistance grants, and $20 million in “other” revenue such as advertising and investment income. The bridge district began charging $20 per month for parking at their Larkspur ferry terminal earlier this year.

The district will spend $115 million to operate their transit service this year, $23 million on transit capital, $70 million for their bridge operating expenses, and $45 million on bridge capital expenses.

Read the full story at the Marin IJ: Golden Gate Bridge renews talk of sidewalk tolls.

See also the the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition “Say No” petition.

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No time for titles, let’s get moving!!!

So how was your bike commute today?  Was it raining?  Did some douchebag in an SUV honk at you?  Well, save it, because unless a dick on a BMX kicked your front wheel out from under you, you probably don't have too much to complain about:

Raphael Carrondo was pushed into the side of the vehicle by a BMX rider.

Just moments before, the 32-year-old was forced to slam on his brakes as the unknown rider tried undertaking him as the pair were passing a parked bus.

Then, about 100 yards up the road as Raphael was overtaking a coach just as it began pulling out, the cyclist rode past his right side and kicked his front wheel.

Here is the very moment at which the rogue BMXer launched his lifestyle sneaker at the cyclist:

The assailant remains at large, though police suspect he was enraged by the victim's CamelBak:

The BMXer was last seen being a virgin and wearing a flat-brim cap and a "Red Bull Gives You Road Rage" t-shirt, so keep your eyes open for him.

In other news, yesterday I kvetched and bloviated about cycling in and around New York City--which, now that I think about it, is pretty much what I do every day.  (Well that's depressing.)  Specifically, I scoffed at "Bicycling" magazine's suggesting Oceanside as a cycling destination, mostly because Oceanside is so incredibly lame that even people in East Rockaway derisively refer to it as "Rockville Centre's soiled underpants."

Well, if bike advocates have their way, you'll be able to add a whole new list of questionable destinations to your New York City cycling bucket list, because a bike lane on the Verrazano Bridge would mean you'd finally be able to access exotic locales like Staten Island and (be still my heart, I can hardly even type the name without swooning) Bayonne:

The activists are campaigning for what they call the Harbor Ring, a roughly 50-mile route that circumnavigates the waterfronts of three boroughs and New Jersey. Starting in Staten Island, it crosses the Bayonne Bridge, heads up the New Jersey Gold Coast to Weehawken, onto a ferry to West 39th Street in Manhattan, down the Hudson River Greenway and the Battery, over the Manhattan Bridge, and finishes on the waterfront in Brooklyn from Red Hook to Bay Ridge.

With booming bike use on both sides of both rivers, the only missing link is the Verrazano.

All kidding aside, a bike lane on the Verrazano Bridge is long overdue, and if anything the utter lack of cycling facilities on three of New York City's mightiest suspension bridges (the Verrazano, the Whitestone, and the Throgs Neck) is yet another reason I scoff--scoff, I tell you!--at the idea that we're America's Number One Bike City:

This latest push for a bike lane on the Verrazano has received a fair amount of local media attention recently, and I strongly suggest you refrain from reading the comments on any of the articles about it, because they usually run along these lines:

--Morons insisting the cyclists should have to pay the same toll as the drivers because drivers pay for the roads (Staten Islanders are very resentful of tolls, because apparently they didn't realize they were moving onto an island until they tried to leave it);

--Morons saying they don't want bikes coming to Staten Island because then they'll get invaded by Brooklyn hipsters;

--Morons saying the bridge is "too windy" for bikes.

That last one's my favorite.  Every time the Verrazano bike lane thing comes up someone weighs in and says the bridge is too windy, which is funny because the Five Boro Bike Tour goes across the bridge every year and I have no recollection of thousands of dorks in pinnies being blown off the bridge and swept out to sea:

Though if they did I suppose they'd be easy to find.  Not only would they be highly visible in their pinnies, but they'd also be highly buoyant in their giant Bell helmets from 1989.  (This is standard issue headgear for the typical Five Boro Bike Tour rider, and a medium-sized adult could use one as a dinghy without much difficulty.)

Speaking of the Five Boro Bike Tour, I was perusing Kickstarter when I stumbled upon the ideal charity ride slayer:

Or, if you prefer, the ultimate sidewalk-riding bike:

You know the story by now.  Designer and engineer can't find a bike that meets his incredibly high standards, blah blah blah:

"Because as I looked around most commuter bicyclist are either riding converted mountain bikes or they're riding converted road bikes."


Well, as far as he's concerned the answer is yes, so he invented "the first carbon commuter bike on the market:"

Which is emphatically not the first crabon bike on the market, and he'd better be careful because Specialized is liable to sue him for making that claim:

Nevertheless, he maintains that his bike is "revolutionary:

"What's revolutionary about the Rogue is the bike itself weighs 20 and a half pounds, which is unheard of for a commuter bike."

This is emphatically not unheard of for a commuter bike--or for a flat bar "cyclecross" bike (or what we used to call a "hybrid" back in the '90s), which is basically what this is:

Also, it's made of you-know-what:

"It's made out of carbon.  Carbon compared to alloys is approximately seven and a half times stronger, but is usually somewhere in the region of about 50 or 60 percent lighter."

Which alloys exactly?  There are many.  This is like saying "apples are approximately five times more delicious than melons."

But it's not just the crabon and the low weight that make this bike revolutionary.  It's also got something else:

"Most bikes on the market right now are using a technology that's over 100 years old, which is a chain."

Yeah, you know what's coming.  Come on, it's Rule #1 in the "Reinventing the Hybrid" handbook!  Let's all say it at the same time:

("Carbon!  Belt!  Drive!")

Which is also the "same apparatus that's used on motorcycles and some of the heavier industry type vehicles like combine harvesters..."

Yeah, that's right.  Combine harvesters:

That's exactly like a bicycle.

Also, the bicycle chain may be well over 100 years old, but technically so is the belt drive bicycle, which was first patented in 1890:

Instead of using sprocket-wheels upon the driving-axle and rear axle, as has heretofore been the almost universal custom in Safety bicycles, I use pulleys having V -shaped grooves upon both of said axles and transmit Fig. 4, 6251- 'iCO 1 edges-inclined toward each other to correspond with the V-shaped grooves in the driving and driven pulleys,the engagement of the belt with the pulleys being wholly with its edges.

I'm just saying, that's all.

And that's not all, either.  Where would you be (literally) without GPS?

"The first GPS system is an application that you download on your phone.  That basically gives you things like speed, cadence, elevation, and it shows you the map of your area so you can pretty much track your rides and you can share them with various people..."

So, basically, Strava.

And it's also got the theft-tracking device you've now come to expect from Kickstarter:

"The second part of the GPS is more for safety.  So if you park your bike or lock it and it gets stolen, you can basically go back onto your phone, send your bike an SMS asking where it is, it'll send back location..."

In other words, you send a message to your bike:

And you get a reply:


Also the bike has built-in lights, yada yada yada, but most importantly it has Futuristic Space Fenders:

I like how the rear one provides 100% protection to the rider behind you, while simultaneously offering 0% protection to your own ass.
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Tuesday Bike News:

redhead in sheer skirt rides a bicycle

Good morning from California.

Carlton Reid reminds us that it’s our own stupid fault the motor car became so popular. We cyclists insisted on hard surface roads. We wanted road rules to keep pedestrians out of the way. Because cycling as a hobby belonged mostly to deranged, sport-minded young men with a bent for innovation, we attached motors to our bikes, and, later to four wheeled contraptions. The rest is history.

More bike news below the redhead riding a bike at sunset.

Katie Archibald and Laura Trott take gold in the European Elite Track Championships.

This 3 foot law webinar looks interesting: and CHP Golden Gate Division have launched an innovative partnership that allows cyclists to report, track, and discuss 3 Foot Law violation incidents. Our process also allows cyclists to share their incidents with other cyclists to identify and predict repeat offenders. We believe this might be a model for other law enforcement agencies. Please join us to add your voice as we discuss our process in detail.

Learn more at this webinar on Friday, October 24 2014 from 12:05 PM – 1:05 PM PDT. Registration required. H/T Bicycle Monterey.

Forbes: Chinese bike share boom (with 650,000 public bikes available for use nationwide) means billions for bike investors. Some might recall that Shanghai Forever Co nearly went out of business about 15 years ago when China began its big push to automotive prosperity. HL Corp (formerly Hsin Lung) sells aftermarket bike components in the USA under the “Zoom” brand.

Potential for occasional death and mayhem on a New Jersey bridge leads to long term bridge closure.

Skinny bars in a track race?


Myth Busted: Elite track racers prove that you don't need super wide handlebars to help you sprint or "open up" your lungs. #cycling

View on Instagram

The unstealable bicycle?

Design insights at BMC bikes.

Is anything happening yet with John Van Velde’s World Cycling League yet? I haven’t seen any updates since about July.

Cancer claimed the life of Santa Cruz District Attorney Bob Lee last weekend. In sharp contrast to his neighbors in Santa Clara and San Francisco counties, Lee’s office pursued criminal cases against motorists who killed and injured cyclists and pedestrians on Santa Cruz County roads.

“Why I don’t drive.”

No city where cycling is widespread has improved safety with a mandatory helmet law.

Philadelphia Bike Expo on November 8.

SF Bike Expo is coming up on November 22.

Carlton Reid’s Roads Were Not Built for Cars was published just a couple of weeks ago. Buy the Kindle version here. This is an exhaustively researched and enjoyable text on the history of road transportation in Britain and America. Carlton tells me the iPad version is much better, but I don’t do iTunes so you’re on your own for a link to that.

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Women’s Bike Mechanic Scholarship


Bike shops need more female mechanics and employees, and more women than ever are looking to make a career out of bikes. SRAM, Liv, QBP, United Bicycle Institute, Pedro’s and Park Tool have joined together to offer ten scholarships for women bike mechanics to attend UBI in an effort to grow the number of women in the bike industry, and the number of women riders in general.

The scholarship covers the 2-week Professional Shop Repair and Operations class and lodging (but not transportation to Ashland OR), with applications accepted through November 15th at Recipients notified by December 19th, with classes in February, March or April.

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