Happy October; I hope you’re enjoying the cooler weather! You have all kinds of outdoor opportunities this week in the South Bay and Santa Cruz areas.
San Jose Bike Train rolls Wednesday morning 8 AM from Diridon Station, with a quick stop at Bel Bacio Cafe in Little Italy. There’s apparently a misunderstanding about the cafe stop that I only became aware of recently. We swing through there only to pick people up who are already at the cafe. If you want coffee, go to Bel Bacio by 8, order your caffeinated beverage and wait for Bike Train to swing past. We’re generally out of there by about 8:10 or 8:15 unless the ride conductor knows to wait for you.
Santa Cruz County Fall Bike to Work / School Day takes place Thursday, October 8 2015. Find free breakfast stations countwide at these locations:
Downtown Santa Cruz: Pacific Ave is closed between Water and Locust Streets for a mini bike-fair.
Westside: Free vittles from New Leaf and other vendors at 1101 Fair Street.
Boardwalk: The Picnic Basket on Beach Street, just east of the traffic circle.
Midtown: Whole Foods Market on Soquel Ave, and People’s Coffee at 1200 17th.
Scotts Valley: Mollie’s Cafe on Mt Hermon Road directly across from Scotts Valley Cycle Sport. Mollie’s serves up a delicious, fresh cooked egg sandwich plate FREE to cyclists on Bike To Work Day.
Capitola: Whole Foods Capitola on 41st.
Soquel: Ugly Mug on Soquel Drive at Porter Street.
UCSC: Breakfast and bike tuneup at the campus Main Entrance on Bay at High. Find free breakfast also at the top of the bike path.
Cabrillo College: free breakfast, coffee and bike tuneup by the bookstore on Soquel Drive.
Watsonville: Second Street Cafe at 28 2nd Street. I think you’ll be able to meet the mayor there.
Santa Cruz Bike Party ¡Tropicalismo! Ride on Friday night, beginning at the Bike Church at 7 PM. Event info here.
Week 2 of the Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge continues this Saturday and Sunday. What is the Coffeeneuring Challenge? Read here to learn the details.
Sunday: Closed streets galore!
You have your choice of several road closures to enjoy your bike on Sunday, October 11. Among them:
Caltrans will close a portion of Highway 84 for the Niles Canyon Stroll and Roll. I’ve biked up this road to Sunol and back exactly twice in my life. It’s exceedingly picturesque, but the traffic! Stroll and Roll is an amazing opportunity to experience this road in car-free glory. I know Fremont is technically the East Bay, but this is close enough for South Bay cyclists to check out. Be aware that Niles Canyon has significant elevation gain; this is fun for crazy people like me who enjoy hills. It may not quite as fun if you don’t do hills, but you can also enjoy the lower elevation portion or spend the day walking up and back.
Six miles of city streets between downtown San Jose and the East Side will be closed to cars and open to people for Viva CalleSJ. Somebody asked me what you do at an open streets event. The answer: Whatever you want. You can bike, walk, run, dance, skate, play, read, snack, hang with friends, or whatever. It’s open to your imagination. Details here.
West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz will be closed to motor traffic and open to people for a Pop Up Park between Lighthouse Field and Natural Bridges. Click here for details.
Speaking of closed streets: Many people have enjoyed the portion of Highway 9 that was closed for construction all summer between Felton and Santa Cruz. It became a de fact bike-and-hike park and provided easy access for people biking to Santa Cruz from the San Lorenzo Valley on the weekends. The construction is now mostly complete and Caltrans re-opened this portion of Highway 9 a couple of weeks ago.
If you're familiar with the New Yorker, you know that they like to do these articles where they round up a bunch of books on a similar theme, and then the writer bloviates, pontificates, and otherwise waggles his dick over them. In this particular case the books were about cities, and one in particular--"The Cycling City: Bicycles and Urban America in the 1890s"--is about bikes, as one might infer from its title.
Here's what Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker has to say about it:
The grid, useful as an accelerant for pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles, ended up being unintentionally well-adapted to the imperialism of the car; a short ride in a London cab can take forever, while taxi- and Uber-drivers race up and down the midnight Manhattan avenues at hyper-speeds. Evan Friss’s forthcoming “The Cycling City: Bicycles and Urban America in the 1890s” (Chicago) wants, in turn, to show us a forgotten parenthesis when the city had not yet yielded to the car. But he ends up showing mainly how terrific research and a feeling for detail can be undermined by the pieties of the contemporary social sciences. Common sense wins, barely, but not without the author taking many frightened-looking glances over his shoulder to see if the consensus of the discipline is gaining on him.
I didn't understand any of that.
Fortunately, he clarifies it all in the next paragraph:
The consensus of the discipline takes a dim view of common-sense considerations (say, that people rode bikes because they were the best way to get places before cars). More sinister Foucauldian épistèmes must be shown to govern social life: any social explanation that can’t be expressed as a conspiracy theory involving bourgeois society stamping out Difference is inadequate to the phenomenon, even if the phenomenon is on two wheels with gears and going many different places at once.
Sorry, no he doesn't.
What the hell is he talking about?
And what the fuck is a "Foucauldian épistème?!?"
Don't tell me to look it up, either, because I plugged the term into a popular search engine and all that came up was a picture of Eustace Tilley masturbating:
Sorry, my censor's aim totally sucks.
(As for Tilley's aim, his chums from The Ivy Club don't call him "Ol' Deadeye" for nothing.)
The book itself sounds legitimately interesting though:
Still, Friss has a good story to tell. In the late nineteenth century, bicycles were not just a sweet means of romantic transport—“Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do,” and all that—but a technological triumph creating fanatical followers and interest groups. The bicycle was more like a personal computer than like a love seat. There were “dozens of exclusive bicycle clubs dotting America’s leading cities. . . . Libraries, card rooms, and billiard tables kept members busy while dumbwaiters shuttled food from kitchen hands to hungry cyclists.” Women considered them “an almost utopian instrument,” Friss says, and quotes a contemporary source: “Now and again a complaint arises of the narrowness of woman’s sphere. For such disorder of the soul the sufferer can do no better than to flatten her sphere to a circle, mount it, and take to the road.”
Sadly, Gopnik appears to be doing his best to discourage us from reading it by flinging fistfuls of inscrutable prose into our faces:
Yet one feels impatient as he torturously tries to track academic concepts of class and mentalité onto what are, clearly, the inevitable inner squabbles of fan clubs and interest groups. Friss illustrates, without quite articulating, the central Trollopean social insight: like-minded people with similar passions typically end up fighting among themselves far more than they do with their class or intellectual opponents.
Foucauldian épistèmes, Trollopean social insights...this is some truly Herculean wankery.
Our joint campaign with the street safety advocates at Transportation Alternatives is about language, but it isn’t an academic exercise in scolding people about word choice. Our objective is actually to challenge the assumptions behind those words—assumptions that lead to policy decisions that allow the carnage on our streets to continue, with no driver accountability. How could a DMV judge throw out the tickets for the SUV driver who killed my daughter? I believe that the use of the word “accident”—by DMV officials, the media, and general public—is a big part of the problem. When we say “accident,” we are basically throwing up our hands and saying that the deaths of children like Allison are inevitable, something no one is responsible for, like bad weather.
Sources tell the Post that two men were crossing the street at Gates when the driver made the U-turn and almost struck them. They got into a shouting match, and one of the pedestrians then pulled a gun and fired, striking the driver in his thigh and lower leg.
I'm not a fan of the guns, yet at the same time I'm perfectly okay with this.
Meanwhile, people still think the idea of running people down is HILARIOUS, like the owner of this car I spotted over the weekend:
I asked him, Why do this to yourself? Why leave a lucrative position at Wiggle to take over a sport constantly dinged by doping cases, including a recent one involving Tom Danielson, a top American rider who testified in the Armstrong doping investigation? In August, before the Tour of Utah, Danielson’s initial urine sample tested positive for a steroid. Bouchard-Hall answered, “I love the sport that much.” He added that he couldn’t bear to watch cycling flounder, post-Armstrong.
Trying to save this sport is like trying to reuse bar tape.
The city of Cannes in the French Riviera normally receives 70 mm (2.7 inches) of rain for the entire month of October. A record 107 mm (4.2 in) fell in a single hour, smashing through the previous 70 mm one hour record. Several locations throughout the French Riviera in the southeast of France reported 200 mm (8 in) and more of rain over this last weekend, flooding streets and washing cars into the sea. News agencies report the 17 who perished in the floods include elderly who drowned in their homes, and numerous individuals who were trapped in their cars in tunnels and underground parking garages when flash floods swept over them.
Emergency responders and state officials urge residents to stay home and stay off of the roads. Cars can be swept away even in seemingly shallow flowing water. The same applies for people on foot or on bikes. I know from personal experience that even SUVs can stall out if you’re stupid and try to drive fast through several inches of water.
If you need to venture out on your bike for bread and milk, remember the warning about flowing water. Standing water can also hide submerged hazards such as potholes and rocks, forcing you to flip over when you hit them with your front wheel. Public health officials warn that flood waters are generally contaminated with disease causing pathogens. Venomous snakes are also a hazard during flooding.
This photo from last summer shows some flooding on the Cherry Creek Trail in Denver, Colorado last June. I may consider something like this when my primary commute route along the Guadalupe River Trail in San Jose, CA inevitably floods during winter rainstorms. The Guadalupe River is about a Class II run in heavy rain, but the numerous strainers give me significant pause.
I was invited to participate in a day of fashion at Freshfields Village, which is the upscale shopping center for Kiawah (the super fancy island/golf resort near Charleston). So, I put on something fashion-y and got a ride out there. I’ve been writing about food for the past 2.5 years, so my fashion game is weak (caftans are more appropriate for me), but this was a fun tour.
I know the photographer Kip Bulwinkle, so I was like, “These ladies are pros, shoot them, not me.” Seriously, all these local fashion bloggers were awesome. The shops were fun too. I think Roberta Rabbit was my fave. I might go back for a purse I saw.
I got some great shopping tips from the other bloggers and am now obsessed with Dannon’s hair.
It’s flooded here in Charleston. This is a video from the Battery. I love that one guy is taking a selfie and someone else brought out their tandem bicycle. Charleston: it’s a party, even in natural disasters. The whole video is here.
Shoulder To Shoulder is the Horton Collection’s latest coffee table pictorial showing European road racing in the 1960s, when the sport of cycling transitioned from the post-year period featuring grim hard men like Fausto Coppi to smiling camera-friendly stars like Jacques Anquetil.
If your shipping address is in the USA, I’ll ship you a copy of this book when it’s released at the end of October. If you are outside of the USA, I’ll email an Amazon.com gift card in the amount of $15. Must be above age 18 and over the enter, void where prohibited, and you need to provide a way for me to email you (and respond to the email) for you to win the prize. I won’t sell your contact information. I won’t annoy you with spam, but I may use it in the future to contact you for incidental reasons (e.g. “I’m visiting Norway next month, you’re in Norway; can we meet for coffee?”)
The Trivia Question
The League of American Bicyclists released their Where We Ride report earlier this week, in which they look at US Census data to find trends in bicycling to work.
Click through to the PDF report and answer this question: Tell me how many photos in the report were shot by Yours Truly (i.e. “Richard Masoner”), and tell me what pages all of these photos appear on. Valid answers must be complete and accurate — i.e. if you miss one, the answer doesn’t count; or if you give the page number for all photos — including those not shot by me — your answer isn’t valid. Page number is determined in the page footer, not by whatever page your PDF reader says you’re on.
It's Friday, which means the weekend is coming, which means you're going to ride your bike, which means if you're the sort of idiot who rides around with your skewers open you'll want to make sure your bike isn't included in the massive quick release recall:
So don't forget to do the "#2 pencil test," by opening your quick release and making sure you can fit a pencil between the handle and the rotor:
"If the pencil fits between the handle and the disc, you're fine."
Uh, no, you're not fine, you're RIDING WITH THE SKEWER OPEN.
I find it disturbing that we've reached the point where riding with your quick release open is just assumed, and that the bike companies are obligated to adjust their safety standards accordingly.
If it were up to me I'd just let them all crash.
Then again I am a truly miserable and unforgiving person. I realized this during my last trip to the Philly Bike Expo, which Stevil of All Hail The Black Market attended with me. After the show we went to get cheese steaks, and on the way to whichever grease-slinging tourist trap we eventually chose we passed a parked bicycle that had its skewers done up all wrong. (The owner had clearly twirled them shut like wingnuts instead of levering them closed, which I would guess like 70% of the population does.)
I just scoffed and muttered "friggin' idiot" to myself like I usually do, but get this: Stevil stops walking, kneels right there on the filthy Philadelphia sidewalk (in the cheese steak district no less), and fixes the skewers.
For a stranger.
It was then I realized there are genuinely kind and thoughtful people out there, and that I am definitely not one of them.
However, far from feeling ashamed, it only reaffirmed my thoughtlessness, because as long as there are suckers like Stevil out there helping people for me then why should I even bother?
And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right then WOW!!!, and if you're wrong you'll see someone go from aero to airborne.
Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and careful where you stick that pencil.
--Wildcat Rock Machine
1) According to some guy from the Wall Street Journal, New York isn't a bike city because:
The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) released their third annual “Where We Ride” report yesterday in which they crunch the numbers from the 2014 US Census American Community Survey.
As LAB report notes, “There are at least two limitations to the data: 1) it only measures how someone usually gets to work in the last week before the question was asked, and 2) it only captures the mode used for the most distance. These limitations mean that occasional bike commuters and multimodal commuters who use bikes are unlikely to be captured by ACS data.”
In San Francisco, for example, the ACS data comes nowhere close to counting all of the people who ride bikes to work. Thousands of people either bike in from neighboring counties, or they bring their bikes onboard transit services from those other counties.
The other weakness is the ACS data does not capture all bike trips. If you bike to school, to the cafe, to the store, or for recreation, your trip is not captured in this survey. You have to find this other travel information at either the National Household Travel Survey, which captures travel with multiple modes for all reasons at the national level, or the California Household Travel Survey for California. Both of these are large, occasional surveys; California, for example, collects statewide travel data once a decade. Perhaps a clever data scientist has found a way to predict actual bike usage from the ACS data by finding correlations with the travel survey data and the handful of city traffic counts that now include biking information.
With all of those disclaimers out of the way, I think the data is useful to capture large trends. You can read the report here.
To encourage you to read the report, I’ll have a trivia quiz with a GIVEAWAY tomorrow. I’ll have one simple question that I will post Friday late morning (California time); the first to answer it correctly wins a copy of the brand new Horton Collection book Shoulder to Shoulder: Bicycle Racing in the Age of Anquetil or an Amazon gift card if you live outside of the USA.
It's hard work being a semi-professional bike blogger, father of seventeen (18) children, and mother of six (six) more:
("Calgon" was 1980s slang for "Valium.")
That's why I feel it's important to treat myself to some mid-week recreational bicycle-cycling from time to time. In particular, it had been awhile since I'd ridden a rugged all-terrain-style bicycle--so long in fact that the shin scabs from the last time I'd done so had already fallen off. So this morning I resolved to remedy the situation.
Normally I ride from my mansion to the mountain bicycling trails, but these days I'm on borrowed time, and the interest rates are usurious. Therefore, after some deliberation, I decided "Fuck It" and used THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK.
("I'm not even gonna open my mouth, my eyes say it all.")
Hey, it's just shy of an hour to ride there but it's only like a ten minute drive, so when you do the math it's like the car is a time machine I'm actually gaining time by driving to the trail.
Plus, I will always be "bridge and tunnel" at heart, so even though I spend much of my time on a smug-cycle and blogging about how much motorists suck, every so often I'm overcome by an overwhelming urge to drive around in a car while listening to Howard Stern.
So I threw some clothes in a bag, tossed a bike onto the roof rack, and drove responsibly to the trailhead:
As I pulled up I really hoped nobody was there. The truth is that over the past few years I've become unbearably smug about riding to the trailhead, and when I do I enjoy nothing more than passing all the mountain Freds in the parking lot milling about their SUVs in various states of undress, messing with their shocks and fretting over their tire pressure. Generally what I do is ride around in circles for awhile until someone notices that I arrived on a singlespeed and without a car. Then, when they ask where I rode from I just say "city"--which is true only in the most literal sense in that I do technically live in New York City. However, for the purposes of regional colloquial speech and casual parking lot conversation it's an out-and-out lie.
Then I scamper into the woods with the speed and agility of a cottontail and do my best to wait until I'm out of view before succumbing to the inevitable crash.
Sadly, this time someone would see me get out of a car, because to my surprise I encountered this:
(Note tire tracks, I assume morons come here at night and do donuts.)
It turns out Giant Bicycles were setting up for some sort of dealer demo day, which meant I'd better make this ride a quick one before the Shop Freds showed up. Nevertheless, as I rolled by I did take some spy shots of the Liv bikes:
I briefly considered revealing myself as the greatest semi-professional bike blogger this side of the Spuyten Duyvil and asking if I could try some of that sweet, sweet crabon myself. However, I decided not to, because if experience is any guide it means either they'd have no idea who I am, or else they'd want to punch me in the mouth--or, most likely, both.
Apparently though the unwashed masses can demo the bikes here on Sunday, and you can find more information on that here and here.
So if you're in the New York City area maybe you can find the Fred Sled or Bouncy Mountain Chariot of your dreams.
Another reason I had been hoping nobody would be there was because, in my haste, I had assembled sort of a strange outfit which I tied together with these woolen retro-style Brooks half-shorts:
(No, I'm not peeing in this picture...you should tell yourself if it makes you feel better.)
The shorts were a last-second choice because I hadn't worn them since L'Eroica one year ago, and when I realized the ride was this weekend I immediately became nostalgic because it remains possibly the most fun ride I've ever done. So I dug them out of the ol' bike clothes drawer, figuring maybe they'd help allay my sadness over missing this year's event. And while I happen to think the shorts are pretty cool, the problem is they're a bit small on me, which meant I'd have to take great care to hide my posterior:
Heaven knows I didn't want all the Shop Freds to see my "coin slot," and so I stopped from time to time for a "butt selfie" to make sure I remained modest:
(No, I don't have a "tramp stamp" of the Brooks logo...you should tell yourself if it makes you feel better.)
Anyway, fall is now in the air, and there's no better time to ride a mountain-style bicycle:
Mostly because the goddamn bugs that like to hover around your face while you ride in the summer are mostly gone:
As for the bike, I rode my Engin, which I still congratulate myself for having purchased:
A bespoke custom-curated artisanal rigid singlespeed may seem a bit over-indulgent at first glance, and of course it is, but to me it makes sense because no matter how much or little you spend on a bouncy bike with gears and shocks it's going to be obsolete in short order, whereas a rigid bike with one speed is a rigid bike with one speed.
Really, the only thing that's going to become obsolete is me, and I suppose there will come a time when I can no longer handle the thing, but so far the enjoyment I get from riding it is undiminished, even by age and lack of fitness.
Of course I've also added some pretentious artisanal touches, such as the hand-chamfered leather saddle:
And the custom-etched WiseCracker I've probably used once, because I don't lead one of those awesome lifestyles that involves hanging out for hours drinking beer after the ride:
Oh, it even says "BSNYC" on the other side if you look closely:
I do keep it humble however by using 36-spoke wheels I built entirely from cheap mail order parts:
I do have a fancier pair of tubeless wheels, but because I don't lead one of those awesome lifestyles that involves hanging out and drinking beer for hours after rides, I also haven't had time to mount new tires and reseal them. Instead, I've just been using these--and despite being made from budget stuff they work great, go figure.
I did splurge on the name-brand front hub though:
By the way, speaking of front wheels and dick breaks, have you heard about the recall?
A group of bicycle companies, in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA), is engaged in a safety recall involving quick-release devices which, when improperly adjusted or left open while riding, may potentially come in contact with the front disc brake rotor. Watch this video to see if your bicycle is affected.
No shit, that's why you do this:
Anyway, things were going wonderfully until my rear wheel broke loose on some rocks and I fell over, creating some new scabs and taking a shot to the knee, which is always worrisome since every blow to the kneecap takes you that much closer to not being able to ride one-speed bicycles anymore:
I'd like to blame the cheap, worn tires, but the truth is that I suck.
So I took this as a sign I should wind the ride down, and finished off with a little loop on the easy terrain:
Happy Hump Day, all! I took my bike into a refreshing drizzle in the Santa Cruz Mountains this morning. The National Weather Service says we can expect under quarter inch at the very very most between this morning through Friday, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.
Find ICYMI bike news below the photo of my pals on the path.
Hit-and-run alert for California: California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 8 — the Hit-and-Run Yellow Alert Bill — into law. This law establishes a “yellow alert” system, similar to the existing “Amber Alert” system, to quickly notify the public when a hit-and-run crash occurs that results in death or serious bodily injury. In California, the victims of felony hit-and-run are often those on foot and on bike. A similar system in Colorado resulted in a dramatic increase in hit-and-run arrests.
Speaking of hit-and-run, this one in San Francisco was captured on camera when the driver of a red Cadillac apparently ran directly into a cyclist on purpose.
Complete Streets in California Highway Funding? Governor Brown called the California legislature into a special session to “enact permanent and sustainable funding to maintain and repair the state’s transportation and critical infrastructure, improve the state’s key trade corridors and complement local infrastructure efforts.” Senator Jim Beall’s contribution to this effort is his highway funding bill SBX 1-1. Among the provisions in this bill is a requirement to require either Class 1 (bike path) or Class IV (protected bike lanes) for most roads with average daily traffic (ADT) greater than 20,000 and a speed limit over 25 MPH when using certain state funds for the construction. The California Bicycle Coalition has an online petition for this, as well as for ABX 1-23, which doubles funding for the California Active Transportation Program.
Now is as good as time as any to remind you of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute “Whose Roads” white paper, which was updated in 2013 and discusses the realities of road funding in North America. Spoiler alert: cyclists generally overpay for the facilities we use.
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