SF Bay Area bike events Spring 2017

Riding through plum blossoms with San Jose Bike Train.  San Jose trails users: city crews are now clearing mud from under Hwy 101 on the Guadalupe River Trail so please slow down and follow their instructions.   #commutebybike #bikecommute #commute #cycli

Many bikey opportunities are coming up for you over the next couple of months in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

For more NorCal cycling, don’t miss “The Calendar” over at Cycle! California Magazine.

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Baby You’re Much Too Fast: NAHBS 2017 Recap

A toddler riding a custom Triton Push Bike

A toddler riding a custom Triton balance bike.

Now in its thirteenth iteration, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) is an annual convention showcasing the bicycle industry, prioritizing those who choose to construct bicycles specifically designed to the owner’s personal specifications.

Unlike its larger counterpart, Interbike, NAHBS is open to the public, with a specific focus on handmade bicycles; an art first pioneered by Ignaz Schwinn of Schwinn Cycles. While the majority of modern-day bicycles are mass-produced and imported from overseas, there is still a strong following of artisans that continue to push the envelope of bicycle construction locally on the North American continent. These frame builders utilize not only a variety of assembly techniques, but unorthodox material choices and graphic designs as well. While there was no shortage of innovation to behold, three artisans in particular took precedent over all others.

Emily Kachorek, Squid Bikes:

“It started because bikes were boring in general.” Emily Kachorek on the inception of Squid Bikes.

“It started because bikes were boring in general.” Emily Kachorek on the inception of Squid Bikes.

Handmade and spray painted in Sacramento, CA, Squid Bikes is creating bicycles as unique as the people who ride them. Spearheaded by Emily Kachorek, Squid Bikes is leading the rattle-can spray-painted bicycle movement.

IMG_4133

Squid Bike’s custom build for the TRP booth. This particular finish was accomplished via layering with painters tape and spray paint.

Instead of providing stock finishing options for their clients, Squid Bikes instead sells their frames raw, and encourages new owners to take up a DIY approach through the use of masking tape and spray paint. From memories of pizzas past, to dreams of clouds and orange creamsicles, the creativity of Squid Bikes and their clients speak for themselves.

David Folch, DirtySixer:

The only bike designed for tall people, by tall people.

The only bicycle designed for tall people, by tall people.

At 6’6″, the standard 27″(700c) wheel size does not make for an ideal bike fit for David Folch. Led by a passion of cycling and inspired by a crash on a custom bicycle sporting 27″ wheels, Folch took it upon himself to design the ideal frame for men of greater stature; the DirtySixer. Rohloff hubs, custom dropouts, disc brakes, 36″(!) rims, oversized tubing, and extended crank lengths all come standard; every part specifically tailored to the task of serving a larger-than-average rider.

Lauren(5'7'') leg presented for comparison.

Lauren(5’7”) leg presented for comparison.

Folch has two Kickstarters to propel his business; a 32’’ wheel based design for those measuring over 6ft, as well as a corresponding 36’ variation for those who live larger than life. Check out both campaigns by clicking here and here.

As an added bonus, be sure to check out his DirtySixer in action in this American Express commercial featuring a very familiar basketball player…

Erik Noren, Peacock Groove

Eric Noren, posing with his award-winning build, Purple Reign.

Erik Noren, posing with his award-winning build, Purple Reign.

Erik Noren is a man who needs no introduction. Well known throughout frame building culture for his unapologetic mannerisms, when it comes to designing and creating bicycles, Noren has no peer. This could not be made any more clear than in his Magnum Opus, Purple Reign.

Commissioned by famed bicycle designer Anna Schwinn, Purple Reign is an homage to the late fellow Milwaukee native, Prince. An avid fan himself, Noren integrated homages to some of the artist’s most famous lyrics within Purple Reign. These references include, but are not limited to, Little Red Corvette, Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, Sexy MF, Seven, as well as a gratuitous use of Prince’s beloved Love Symbol. Purple Reign took home not only Best Theme Bike, but also Best In Show for NAHBS 2017.

“This is a sort of mania.”, Don Walker, Frame Builder and NAHBS President/Founder discussing Norton’s Purple Reign.

“This is a sort of mania.”, Don Walker, Frame Builder and NAHBS President/Founder discussing Norton’s Purple Reign.

For a closer look into the builders and bikes present, check out the slideshow by clicking here.


Cain Ramirez is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cowgirl Bike Courier. He has been designated by Richard Masoner as part of the less-than-one percent of transportation cyclists that identify as “Strong & Fearless”.

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Thank you to trail volunteers, road reports, & rain next week?

20 people showed up last Saturday to clear the Guadalupe River Trail under Montague Expressway. Thank you so much for your efforts. Thanks to your help, the Mid-March San Jose Bike Train can roll Wednesday morning from Bel Bacio Cafe at 8:15 A.M.

Guadalupe River Trail cleanup March 11 2017

Volunteers clear the Guadalupe River Trail under Montague Expressway.

I and hundreds of other people can now enjoy the trail for their commutes and recreational riding, walking, skating and running.

Guadalupe River Trail cleanup March 11 2017

Here’s how the trail looked a few weeks ago, when flooding damaged miles of U.S., state and local roads, and dozens of people lost their homes in San Jose.

Guadalupe River Trail - flooding March 2017

Here’s a view from this same location this morning.

Guadalupe River Trail - flooding March 2017

Flooding also damaged several homes; I have a couple of friends who lost nearly everything. I encourage you to contribute to the Red Cross to help with flood relief, and be sure to take advantage of whatever corporate matching is available through your employer.

City of San Jose workers cleared the trail across downtown (from Woz Way thru Santa Clara Street) on Monday, and they’re continuing north to 880 for the remainder of this week.


Roads in the South Bay, Santa Cruz and beyond

Santa Clara County reports $22 million in storm damage to county roads, many of which remain closed. Cyclists report various degrees of success and failure in hucking through some of these areas, but the county asks cyclists to please avoid riding through active work zones.

Orbit Road - closed and impassable. Photo courtesy Chris Davies

West Old La Honda Road in San Mateo County remains closed. Regular riders report the slide area is passable by bike, but the county says the road is still hazardous, with a chance that the entire roadway could slip out at any time. The “alternate route” (Highway 84) is not that great for cycling: you can expose yourself to fast traffic on a narrow highway with no shoulder, or you can expose yourself to possibly sliding down a ravine. Mike of Chain Reaction describes the situation and asks riders to contact the county about their priorities here.

Numerous roads throughout Santa Cruz County also remain closed with tens of millions of dollars in damage. Some of these roads, such as Soquel San Jose Road or Glenwood Drive, have a temporary footpath where you can walk your bike across to bypass the damaged road. Work crews have allowed cyclists to pass through on some sections, but I also know of at least one guy who tried to pass through on a state highway, was stopped by security, detoured through a route that added miles, hundreds of feet of elevation, and a couple of hours. This rider bonked badly near Skyline Road after dark and with no lights. He made it home safely but it wasn’t a fun experience.

Finally, Highway 1 south of Monterey into Big Sur re-opens this afternooon. The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge remains closed. A footpath under construction by California Conservation Corps and local volunteers to bypass the condemned bridge should be complete around the mid-April.

Rain returns (maybe)

Finally, the Climate Prediction Center long range forecast for the coast shows wet weather may return next week, so hold on to your rain gear and fenders for the time being.

“Road Closed” at Orbit Road photo courtesy of Chris Davies, who reports this road is impassable by bike.

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This Just In: Snö Dā Today!

As you may or may not be aware, New York City is in the grip of SnowPocaGeddon 2017, the Killer Blizz-Tastic Nor'Easter from Hell:


Though now the blizzard warning has been cancelled:
And yet there are currently cotton ball-sized snowflakes falling steadily outside my window, so go figure.

Either way, the schools are closed, and as of my most recent contract renegotiation I reserve the right to shirk my curatorial responsibilities in such cases so that I can tend to my seventeen (17) children.  In other words, blogging service is suspended for today, and will resume tomorrow:


("Woosie.")

Deal with it.

Thanks for your understanding, annoyance, relief, or indifference as the case may be, and I'll see you back here tomorrow.  (And yes, I can see you, thanks to my CIA-level surveillance capabilities.)

Jörs Trüli,


--Wildcat Rock Machine


(I see all.)


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Trend Watch: People Now Riding Bikes With Large Tires

Not sure if you've heard, but apparently there are these things called "fat bikes" in quotes:


PORTLAND, Me. — Gone are the days when cyclists had to put their bikes away for the winter. These days, hard-core riders are staying outdoors year round thanks to “fat bikes” that allow them to conquer winter's worst instead of staying indoors on a stationary bike.

Yes, according to the Associated Press Style Book, "fat bikes" must be rendered in quotes until the 10,000th article is published about them:


This is why the knuckle tattoo trend no longer has to be rendered in quotes, but the "air quote tattoo" trend does--though strictly speaking it should be rendered "'air quote' tattoo," which will surely be the undoing of many a copy editor.

It's even more complicated if you want to add "irony punctuation," in which case it's "'"air quote"' tattoo"...I think.

Or we could all just accept the fact we're living in a post-grammatical society and surrender to emojis:


I'm old enough that the first thing I think of when I see this is blotter acid.

Anyway, if you want to know what makes a "fat bike" a "'fat bike'" it's the "comically large tires:"

The bikes, with comically large tires, have come into the mainstream in the past couple of years, after having been introduced about a decade ago.

It's certainly true that "fat bike" tires do look cartoonish, but if you adjust for brainwashing it's really the rest of America that's riding around on "comically large tires" thanks to our obsession with SUVs:

A largely aesthetic consideration that tends to create more problems than it solves:


See, in America we like motor vehicles that can cross rocky stream beds (at least in advertisements) but can't make it through a tiny city without wreaking havoc.

The article then quotes a "fat bike" enthusiast:

John Grondin, 48, of Scarborough, Me., got his fat bike to kick the winter blues.

“I wanted to get outside and ride in the winter,” he said. “I like to ride, period. I'll ride a road bike. I'll ride a mountain bike. I just want to ride.”"

I'm getting the sense he likes to ride.

By the way, another good way to kick the winter blues is to not live in Maine.

The article then goes on to make the stupendous claim that "fat bikes" are the first major cycling trend since the 1980s:

Fat bikes represent the first major bicycle trend in several decades, after BMX bikes in the 1970s and conventional mountain bikes in the 1980s, said Jay Townley, partner in Gluskin-Townley Group, a Pennsylvania consultant and market research company focusing on the bicycle business.

Um, what am I, chopped liver???


Jay Townley clearly slept through the fixie craze of the early 21st century (not to mention the Lance Amstrong-driven road bike boom that preceded it), and for that I envy him.

Nevertheless, these "fat bikes" are now big business:

The NPD Group, which tracks retail sales of bikes in the United States, reports that fat-tire bike sales have grown eightfold in the past three years, to $74.7 million in 2016.

If we assume the average "fat bike" costs $1,000 that means there are currently 74,700 "fat bikes" out there rolling around on comically large tires.  And since every one of those bikes will need two (2) new comically large (and therefore comically expensive) tires eventually then it seems to me that's the business you want to be in--which is why I'm pleased to announce my new online retail venture:


Alas, if only I'd planned ahead, I could have debuted this at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, which took place in Salt Lake City, Utah:


(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Debra Banks, a hand crafted saddle manufacturer for Rivet Cycle Works, left, checks out a one of a kind "Big Bamboo Bike" made by Craig Calfee of Calfee Designs out of Santa Cruz, CA. at the 2017 North American Handmade Bicycle Show at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday. This model is an electric bike made of a bamboo including the wheel spokes. The battery is inside the large tube. He makes several more coventional design custom bicycles using bamboo frames. It's the largest and oldest handbuilt bicycle show in the world where ideas and innovation come together to promote custom bicycles and the companies that support the market. It is the show's first time in Utah. The event runs through Sunday.

Presumably the sustainable and environmentally-friendly bamboo is meant to offset the electric drivetrain, which requires lithium mining, as well as the leather saddle, which requires resource-intensive cattle whose flatulence contributes to global warming--sort of like how I ride to the big-box store on a bicycle to pick up my planet-destroying disposable diapers and paper towels:


I'm thinking that maybe if I add some bamboo veneer to the WorkCycles I can also get a pass on sorting my refuse when I eat at Whole Foods.

Anyway, obviously I didn't go to NAHBS this year, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it was exactly like every other NAHBS except there were more disc brakes:


Wake me up when someone shows a rim brake fat bike made from bamboo.

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I was going to administer a quiz today, but then I didn’t.

They say you haven't truly made it until you're featured in a Manhattan window display:


They also say you're officially a cultural icon if that display rotates:


Done, and done.

Anyway, after standing in the snow and crying tears of joy for 20 minutes I made straight for the nearest bicycle:


And as I wiped off the saddle with the sleeve of my custom-tailored Inspector Gadget jacket I decided that Brooks and I should collaborate on some kind of signature premium bike share kit that includes a special foul-weather saddle-wiping cloth and of course a pair of leather sheepskin-lined bicycling gauntlets with matching cap and goggles:



Just imagine what a dashing figure I'd cut as I threaded my way through the streets of Manhattan, my silk scarf trailing behind me until it got caught in the rear-view mirror of a passing truck and strangled me to death.

This is a very real possibility too.  See, the way it works is you're riding in the bike lane, only to encounter a Barone Sanitation truck in the bike lane:


And just when you're making your way around it is when the fuel truck comes roaring up from behind:


Beer trucks are a little different:


What happens there is when you make your move you invariably find yourself on a collision course with the hand truck guy:


Then there's what I call the "Hand-Truck District," which is the stretch of Sixth Avenue just below 34th Street:


On this day in particular I would say hand trucks outnumbered bicycles at least two to one:


Still, even giant trucks in the bike is somehow less frustrating than one asshole's car:


And while I used to find salmon irritating I now just think they should make all the bike lanes two-way and be done with it:


After awhile you realize it's futile to fight with human nature, and instead of creating policy that fights human nature why not simply accommodate it instead?  People are going to salmon, so instead of ticketing we should just make the bike lanes two-way.  People are going to drive like assholes, so instead of this whole "Vision Zero" thing we should just shoot them.  And so forth.

Meanwhile the snow fell in big chunky flakes as I rode:


It fell on the lions in front of the library:


Where there's currently a Lou Reed exhibition:


And where, as I took that picture, an express bus from Staten Island pulled up behind me bearing this decidedly more prosiac advertisement:


I suppose these two banners represent the two opposite ends of the opioid addiction spectrum.

Speaking of snowy climes, bikes now outnumber cars in Copenhagen:
Actually bikes probably outnumber cars in a lot of places, it's just that people aren't riding them.

In any case, apparently t'was not always thus in Copenhagen:

When Copenhagen first began manually counting cars and bikes in 1970, there were 351,133 cars and 100,071 bikes on the roads—a ratio of about 3.5 to 1. That's important, because it means not only are more people riding—about 150 percent more over 46 years—but also, fewer people are driving.

“Cycling went from being a normal part of daily life to a core identity for the city,” Klaus Bondam, former technical and environmental mayor of Copenhagen, explains to the Guardian. 

And they insist that if they can do it anybody can:

“[Bike commuting] is not something that’s in Copenhagen’s genes," Kabell told NPR back in 2014. “We’re [not] weirder or stranger than any other people on earth. Every city can do this.”

It's a nice thought, and there are certainly some encouraging signs in New York City.  Here are the Citi Bike stats for January 2017:


Which is quite an increase from January 2016:

On the other hand, Seattle's bike share program will shut down completely at the end of this month:


Officials had planned to roll out a new system with electric bikes to replace Pronto, the city’s troubled bike-share system.

But Mayor Ed Murray on Friday said millions of dollars allocated for the new system will be spent instead on bike- and pedestrian-safety projects. And the city no longer will pursue an agreement with Quebec-based Bewegen to put electric bikes on Seattle’s streets, said Benton Strong, a Murray spokesman.

Pronto is scheduled to shut down at the end of March, so the announcement means the city will soon have no public system at all.

Yes, Copenhagen's no "weirder or stranger" than any other city--nor is New York, or for that matter Seattle.  But the one thing Seattle has that Copenhagen and New York don't is a helmet law.

So there you go.

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Okay, let’s do this.

I realize that yesterday I said I wasn't going to cover pro cycling, but I'll make an exception for component failure porn of this caliber any day:
Supposedly the collapse came after an encounter with a pothole, and Shimano is going to get to the bottom of it:

In the full statement from Shimano, whose component wing of the business, PRO, produced the three spoke Textreme tubular wheel, Shimano said that the wheels had passed rigorous testing and emphasised its “flawless record”.

“PRO is continuing its investigation into the issue we saw with Team Sky at the team time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico. We are continuing to look closely into all factors that could cause the incident,” the statement read.

I can only hope the investigator's first question will be #whatpressureyourunning, and I'm sure it will conveniently turn out to be either just under or just over what Shimano says the wheel is rated for.

In any case, we haven't had a wheel failure investigation this exciting since the Mavic R-Sys debacle of aught-nine, which of course gave rise to the Diminutive Frenchman Unit (or DFU) as a universally-accepted unit of measurement:


I may be indifferent towards bike helmets but there's no way I'd bend a crabon spoke without first putting on safety glasses.

But hey, the joke's on me apparently, since the R-Sys is not only still available but Freds are still paying stupid amounts of money for them:

Of course I understand the temptation to spend lots of money on fancy wheels.  Indeed, back in 1999, in the heady days of my being a total Fred, I bought the first incarnation of the Mavic Ksyrium wheelset.  (I'd include an image of the original Kysriums but I can't even find one, such is the short shelf-life of high-end cycling components.)  Those wheels are positively quaint by today's standards, but I can assure you that to a young fin de siècle Fred those silver decals, fat bladed aluminum spokes, and internally threaded rims were the epitome of speed and technology and represented exactly what I'd need to make leap to big-time Category 3 bike racing.

Anyway, I seem to recall paying $700 for these wheels.  As a born-again retrogrouch that strikes me as a lot of money for wheels even today, but back then it was a fucking fortune, especially when you consider I was pretty young and had yet to become a world-famous cycling personality and media mogul.  And while the wheels certainly did look cool on my race bike they were no more round than the wheels I'd had before.  Furthermore, the affair was short-lived, for one day while riding in Manhattan a kid ran out into the street and kicked my rear wheel for no apparent reason.  This knocked the wheel out of true and it was never the same again.  So eventually I sold them at a considerable loss.

Meanwhile, if instead of buying those Ksyriums back in 1999 I had bought $700 worth of stock in, oh, I dunno, General Mills I'd have received about 35 shares.  Today that investment would be worth $2,100...which is almost enough to buy a pair of R-Sys wheels, so there you go.

Worst of all I can't even say I learned anything from this lesson, since I still spend money on all sorts of crap I'll wish I hadn't in 20 years--which I suppose is the difference between me and people like Old Man Buffet, who I mentioned yesterday:


(Disclaimer: I have not authenticated any of these quotes.)

Hey, he may be one of the wealthiest people on the planet, but is he truly happy?

Almost certainly yes.

Speaking of happiness, traditional wheelsets, and materialism, yesterday I enjoyed a ride on my road bike, which I've been thinking of retiring:


Why am I thinking of retiring it?  Because for a parent of various human children who lives in a New York City apartment building I have a lot of bikes.  Here are my bikes currently in service as well as their use:

Ironic Orange Julius Bike: Intercity travel, locking up outside in high-theft areas
Travel Bike: Travel, all-terrain rambling
Ritte Rust-Bucket (above): Fred rides, all-terrain rambling
Milwaukee: Fred rides, all-terrain rambling, winter road rides (bike is fendered in winter)
Ol' Piney: Mountain-Fred rides, all-terrain rambling, snow rides
Engin Artisanal Custom-Curated Singlespeed Mountain Bike: Mountain-Fred rides, all-terrain ramblings, races and ironic singlespeeding events
Brompton*: Bromptoneering
WorkCycles: Child-schlepping, family outings, neighborhood errand-running with an emphasis on diaper runs

*[Theoretically this still belongs to Brompton]

That's eight bikes in regular service.  The downside is they take up space and psychic energy.  The upside is that it's not like I'm putting in 10,000 miles a year these days, so wear and tear is spread fairly evenly across eight bikes, which means I'm replacing wear items pretty infrequently.

Nevertheless, in the interest of hoarding, I have retired the following bikes he last few years:

Scattante: Redundant due to Ironic Orange Julius Bike (donated)
Hardtail mountain bike: More or less redundant due to Ol' Piney (still have, just disassembled and stored)
Big Dummy: More or less redundant due to WorkCycles (re-homed)
Cyclocross Bike: More or less redundant due to overlap among my other drop-bar bikes, plus I haven't raced cyclocross in like six years (re-homed)

Anyway, I had finally decided to retire the Ritte Rust-Bucket in the interest of space and psychic energy conservation, but I really enjoyed riding it and have rationalized not doing so by deciding I need one bike with actual road pedals.

So much for that.

Lastly, I'm sorry to report a cyclist has struck and seriously injured a pedestrian:


The woman had just stepped out from between two parked cars mid-block near Sixth Avenue about 7 p.m. when the cyclist, 23, hit her with his aluminum road bike as he headed west in the right lane, police said.

Interesting that they specified the material of the bike.  Perhaps it makes the cyclist seem less evil than if they'd been riding a carbon bike.  In any case, I hit a pedestrian once while cycling many years ago.  She ran out into the street to hail a cab and I didn't have time to stop or swerve.  She went down pretty hard, but I was very fortunate that she was young and resilient and was able to spring back up and duck into the cab after giving me a withering look.  I forgave myself almost immediately, since it was technically her "fault," but as time goes on I realize that as the party on wheels there's always a little more you can do, and that you've always got to be prepared for people emerging into traffic, because it's a busy city and that's what people do.  That's not to blame either the cyclist or the pedestrian here, but that's just the way it is.

Ride safe out there.

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Well would you look at that, it’s Wednesday already!

Let's delve into the mail bag, shall we?


First of all, further to yesterday's post:

ubercurmudgeon said...

Vaccines are not like helmets. Vaccines are like the cycle safety training you get at school (or used to, depending on where you live.) It is training for your immune system to be able to cope with diseases, just like training kids to cope with motorists or adverse conditions. And if nearly everyone gets it then the human species as a whole (or the roads in this analogy) becomes safer for all. Helmets are like prophylactics - wise to use in some conditions, but not 100% (in fact a lot less in the case of helmets), and unnecessary with your long-term partner (or on the same two-mile ride to school you do ten times a week for years.)

March 8, 2017 at 3:33 AM

Well, if nothing else I feel I should point out the following:

1) If used correctly, condoms are indeed close to 100% effective:

Sadly, once the Trump administration destroys Planned Parenthood once and for all nobody will know how to use a condom anymore because there will be nobody around to show them, but that's a separate issue;

2) Not only are helmets far less effective than condoms, but only some bicycle crashes involve the head, whereas 100% of accidental pregnancies involve the genitals.*  So really, wearing a bicycle helmet is more like wearing a condom on your finger**: sure, it might come into play under the right set of circumstances, but for the most part for all the good it'll do it probably doesn't make a meaningful difference;

3) The most important difference between helmets and condoms is that when a helmet breaks people think it saved their lives, but when it condom breaks people understand their lives may very well be ruined.

*[Oh sure, you can still manage to swap STDs while using condoms, but I'm not going to get into a whole dental dam/knee pad analogy since this is still purportedly a cycling blog.]

**[Once the Trump administration destroys Planned Parenthood and everyone forgets how to use condoms people probably will start wearing them on their fingers.]

Please send any remaining thoughts or insights regarding helmets directly into the void.

Thank you.

Secondly, Anonymous asks:

Anonymous said...

Are you gonna talk about the Spring Classics this year? You are my only source for racing info.

March 8, 2017 at 3:28 AM

No.

I'm officially done with pro cycling.  See, I've always loved bikes but hated sports, and while it took me awhile to realize this it turns out that pro cycling is just like any other sport and the bikes are merely incidental.  Shocking, I know.  Oh sure, the Classics were kind of cool because they rode bikes with skinny tires on bumpy roads, but now we have gravel-grinding right here in Canada's gular pouch so who the hell needs it?  Plus, pro road cycling is a sport almost devoid of personalities.  "Oooh, but what about Peter Sagan?  He scarfed a bag of Haribo and gave a rude interview!"  Please.  Peter Sagan is a phenomenal bike rider and a kooky character, but he's also a total bro-bag, and the fact that roadies get so excited about Haribo and watching other people eat it is merely proof of what a joyless existence they lead.  Really, the stuff hangs on hooks in delis, what's the big deal?

So do yourself a favor and expunge the pro cycling weenie train from your consciousness forevermore.

I will, however, continue to enjoy all the bickering about disc brakes and the implosion of Team Sky:


Doubts over Froome’s support for Brailsford surfaced in January, shortly after the boss had claimed the package contained the legal decongestant fluimucil – a claim that no one has yet been able to substantiate. At a press gathering in Monaco, Froome was repeatedly asked if he still had faith in Brailsford's ability to champion the team’s credibility, to which he replied “That’s not really for me to say” before switching the focus to his own personal credibility.

Seems to me that as the team's star rider it's exactly for him to say, but what do I know?

Speaking of gravel, I'm taking all my money out of Chris King headsets and putting it into gravel bikes, because as America's infrastructure deteriorates they're poised to become more popular than ever:


Yes, apparently instead of repaving the streets in Omaha the city has decided "fuck it" and gone back to gravel:

Then repair costs escalated, and potholes started going unfilled. On particularly troubled blocks, the city converted the asphalt surface into a gravelly dirt, a peculiar sight in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods in the center of a city. Only a small fraction of them, less than 10 miles, have been reclaimed.

“I can’t even open my windows on that side of the house,” said Sharon Thonen, a retiree who lives on what is now a dirt road a block from a busy Starbucks. Children stopped riding their bikes on her street after the asphalt was ripped out, Ms. Thonen said. “During the summer, it’s just a dust bowl.”

Wait, the kids stopped riding their bikes?  But what about those sweet gravel skids???  These kids today [grumblegrumble].  And what's Sharon Thonen complaining about?  People in suburbs north of New York City pay a heft premium to live on dusty gravel roads:


This is why, at the private school by my home, the city kids get picked up in gleaming chauffeur-driven Suburbans, whereas the suburban kids get picked up in Range Rovers with a layer of white dust.

In fact, I'd say the people of Omaha have got it made, and they should hope Old Man Buffett doesn't decide to pave them himself.

Then again, while it's tempting to imagine gravel roads slowing the spread of motordom, all it really means is that people buy bigger and dumber cars.  If they're already buying massive all-terrain SUVs just to drive around on paved roads just imagine what they'll buy when they actually do have to drive on gravel:



We're so screwed.
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San Jose Trails report, and a South Bay creek trail cleanup this weekend

Many of our creekside trails have been underwater for several weeks after this season’s epic winter storms. The rivers are finally subsiding, exposing a mess of mud and debris. Maybe you can’t donate $5 million in flood relief like self-made billionaire Kieu Hoang did last week, but you can spare ten bucks for a shovel, or $80 for a chainsaw, or even an hour or two of your time this weekend.

Guadalupe River Trail Trimble Road mud

TL;DR summary: Guadalupe River Trail cleanup under Montague Expressway, 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. Saturday, March 11, 2017. Bring water, good shoes or boots, shovel, handsaw, or chainsaw. Park at Qorvo, 3099 Orchard Drive, San Jose, CA and walk up to the trail. Other instructions in the final section below.

Guadalupe River Trail Report

You can continue to monitor trail flooding for the Guadalupe River Trail and other South Bay trails at this trail flooding status page, but mud and debris does confound the status a bit. Here’s the portion of the Guadalupe Trail in San Jose that I know as of the morning of Tuesday, March 7, 2017. I anticipate Hwy 101 and Trimble will be completely open sometime on Wednesday.

  • The trail across downtown San Jose remains a mess. I know of no plans to clean this up anytime soon (though please tell me if you know otherwise).
  • Julian Street to Airport Parkway is open and mostly clear, though might need to choose between upper vs lower trail to avoid deep mud. The deep mud is mostly on the upper trail; I shoveled a path clear on the upper trail between Hedding and 880 but the lower trail is the better option now.
  • Airport Parkway underpass has some deep mud that I haven’t touched yet. I might dig that out Wednesday morning (but after Bike Pool)
  • Highway 101 underpass still has water on it as of right now. It’s just barely passable now by bike, with the water just below bottom bracket level. There’s a curb to walk on if you want to keep your feet dry. I predict this will be passable Wednesday morning. The mud here is a sandy silt. Photo from this morning at https://www.instagram.com/p/BRWCa0DABju/
  • Trimble Road underpass has about two to three inches of water, which means you can pedal across without damaging your bottom bracket or getting your feet wet. The mud under the water is very slimy so be careful. I shoveled a path to the water line on both approaches. Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRWFoiogC3Q/ and https://www.instagram.com/p/BRWLhaxgpnZ/.
  • Montague Expressway is still very deep with large limbs and piles of debris blocking the trail. I think a pile of mud is keeping water on the trail from draining into the river. Saws, strong backs, and multiple shovels will be needed to open this. I’ve played Frogger crossing Montague the past couple of days but it’s a pretty hazardous location to play this game. Wednesday update: Water at Montague is below bottom bracket level, but a large limb still blocks the path. During Lupe Bike Pool this morning Ihui, Kate and I chopped a few smaller branches away at the river side of the path, so the trail is just passable if you walk on the curb (far left side of the trail if you’re headed north towards the Bay).

    Guadalupe River Trail under Montague Expressway after floods  March 2017

Creek cleanup with the South Bay Clean Creek Coalition

The South Bay Clean Creek Coalition do good work with trash cleanup, and they’ve organized post-flood cleanups this Saturday, March 11, 2017 for the Los Gatos Creek at Auzerais; the Guadalupe River at Willow Street & Highway 87 near Tamien Station; and Coyote Creek at Williams Street near Olinder Elementary School. This is more of a trash pickup event than clearing mud from what I understand. Cleanup organizers provide tools and other supplies. You provide your own water bottle, heavy soled shoes, gloves, sunscreen, hat and long pants. Please read these instructions and then RSVP so organizers know how to many to plan for.

My own ad-hoc Guadalupe River cleanup at Montague

I’ve collected a lot of the low-hanging fruit by scooping mud from the Guadalupe River trail at several locations between downtown San Jose and Montague Expressway, such as the approach to Trimble Road show above. I need tools and muscle that I don’t have available to clear the mess under Montague Expressway. At a minimum, somebody needs to show up with a chainsaw, a pruning saw, or maybe even a good set of pruning shears to lop off bits of branches. A couple of strong backs and additional shovels would be nice to have as well. You’ll want good shoes or boots, gloves, sunscreen, eye protection and water. Anything you wear will get filthy.

I’ll be at the trail under Montague at about 10:45 A.M. this Saturday, March 11, 2017 and I plan to work until 1 P.M. Qorvo has kindly given us permission to park in their back lot next to the trail at 3099 Orchard Drive in San Jose. Please let me know if you think you can make it. I and other trail users will thank you.

True story: Two women on bikes told me “You’re a rock star!” as they enthusiastically expressed their gratitude to me just last night just north of Hedding Street, and I was covered head-to-toe in muck. Your mileage may vary but I assure your efforts will be appreciated.

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The Appearance of Safety

I suppose the moment I realized I'd given up on life was when I found myself watching Dutch bicycle rush hour porn:


The above clip--a particularly perverse example of the genre in which throngs of cyclists somehow manage to coexist with both pedestrians and each-other despite a flagrant lack of both traffic controls and helmets--holds particular significance for me.  See, when I visited Amsterdam back in 2011 I regularly disembarked from this very spot, for we were staying in Amsterdam-Noord and relied on the ferry to get to and from the city proper:


Indeed, it was on one of those ferries that I spotted the rare and elusive Polnago:


Of course I wrote about my travels in my third book, "Bike Snob: A Broad," and to this day I remain nostalgic for my time in a city where it is perfectly normal to spirit your offspring about town in a in a waterproof germ bubble:


Alas, here in America we have a more complicated relationship with both children and bicycles, and for that matter with safety in general:


(The image of the kid in the plastic hat with a skinned knee really says it all.)

While I agree with the underlying theme of this story (accidents happen even when you take precautions so don't beat yourself up over it), I'm deeply unsettled by the comparison of bike helmets and vaccines:

Of course, the surfaces of playgrounds were rock-hard, there were no seatbelts in the back seat and no one had ever heard of bike helmets.

I’m not in any way nostalgic for unbridled bullying, any more than I am for bicycle-related head trauma, motor vehicle deaths or, for that matter, measles, whooping cough and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Making the world safer for children is a great and good thing. And it’s wonderful if you can fit the school to the child and make the playground more pleasant — as well as safer — for everyone.

Wait, bike helmets ended head trauma?

But even when you put down soft mats under the swings and get everyone buckled into their bike helmets, life doesn’t always go smoothly and we end up with regrets. And heaven knows, children who have managed to evade all the safety measures still come into the emergency room, and their parents have to hug them and take them home and keep going.

It's scary enough that there are people who are against vaccines, which are right up there with literacy and access to clean drinking water as the essential components for a decent quality of life.  Unfortunately, comparing helmets and vaccines in turn invites comparisons between people who don't put helmets on their children and people who don't vaccinate their children.  This is dangerous, not to mention stupid.

See, vaccines work.  Helmets, on the other hand (or head), are more like echinacea, in that people like to think they work but whether they actually do or not is debatable.  In fact, I'd argue that when it comes to children, helmets make cycling more dangerous.  Firstly, they're almost always fitted poorly.  (Putting shoes on a child is hard enough; do you think the average parent has the wherewithal to fuss with helmet straps?)  Secondly, a typical child's bike has such a tiny gear that unless the kid's going hillbombing he or she won't even reach running speed.  Thirdly, look at the size of these things relative to their precious little heads:


What happens is the kid falls of the bike and then their giant helmets hit the pavement, forcing their chins right into it, whereas if they didn't have a bib bulbous dome strapped to their heads it's entirely possible they wouldn't have hit their head at all.

Granted, I don't have the mean streak in me to push my child off his bike repeatedly with and without a helmet so I don't have hard data here, but I've been watching these little fuckers fall while riding, running, and even just standing still for years now and the mechanics have become fairly predictable.

So to recap:

Vaccines:

Effective, administered by a doctor.

Helmets:

Decorative, administered by a parent who just wants to get out of the fucking house already.

And no, I'll never stop blathering on about bicycle helmets, because they are the foamy non-biodegradable embodiment of our completely idiotic relationship with safety--the same relationship that gave us travel bans, and calls for border walls, and guns in schools to protect kids from bears.  It's why we're an obese nation that drives everywhere, and why the bicycle is merely a tool for smuggling guns:


Ah yes, if only this country had proper respect for the Second Amendment decent folk wouldn't have to resort to such trickery and we'd be rid of bicycles (and safe from bears) forevermore.

Though this does raise an interesting question:


(#whatcaliberyourunning)

Why didn't the smuggler use a fat bike???

He could have carried a lot more firepower that way.


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