I could come up with a title for this post, but then it would be even later.

The 1970s:

(I like how at the end she just drops the bike like, "Fuck this.")

Besides voluminous hair and wobbly rides over covered bridges, this decade also gave us the musical stylings of Kiss, and while it may have taken over 40 years now you can finally own the Kiss-branded crabon time trial bike and matching wheelset of your dreams:

The carbon-fiber KISS road bike allows the purchaser to have a KISS 88MM wheel set with the black and white KISS logo, a KISS limited edition carbon-fibre rear disc wheel featuring the four KISS faces from the Rock and Roll Over cover and a limited edition carbon-fibre tri-spoke front wheel that is also black and white with the KISS logo and symbols of the band members. See each of the items below. Those interested in learning more about the KISS bike options can check in at the Sciacallo Bikes website.

I'm going to assume the bike is wind tunnel-tested:

By which I mean they pointed a fan at it for 20 minutes to make sure the Kiss decals didn't fall off.

And clearly it's a shot across the cockpit of another time trial bike that also bears the name of someone world-famous for lechery:

Sadly no word on complete bike pricing, but if the non-Kiss "chassis" is just over $3,000 you can assume the full-douche version will cost you quite a bit more:

That's a lot to pay for some irony, and frankly I'd go with the waffle maker instead:

Though I suppose if you have your heart set on something bike-specific you could always settle for the Kiss wheelset, which is a bargain at only $1,199.99:

Both T-800 Carbon Rims are Dressed To Kill with oversized icons of The Star Child, The Demon, The Catman and The Spaceman.  As with all other KISS® wheel sets, they come with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by legendary rockers Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.  These wheels are Officially Licensed and Limited in production so order before they are gone.

The designers could have de-emphasized the SS Bolt motif in the Kiss logo, but instead they repeated it in keeping with the current zeitgeist:


Of course, the first thing you'll want to do when taking delivery of your Kiss bike is upgrade it with a cutting-edge lighting system like the Speednite:

This is the integrated smart stem/headlight system you never knew you wanted because indeed you didn't and don't want it, and here's the creator explaining his inspiration:

"I love cycling at night because it gives me more freedom and happiness.  But I always feel not enough visibility."

Have you tried adding some color to your wardrobe?

Of course not.  Why do that when instead you can invent a light that moves with your head?

"It can be controlled by tracking your head motion."

If you want a light that can be controlled by your head motion wouldn't it be easier to simply put the light on your helmet?  And why do you even want your light integrated into your stem?  What if you want to put it on a different bike?

I dunno, but it does have a "laser indicator:"

"It also has a side laser indicator which can be controlled by tracking your left and right head motion to make other road users aware of your direction choice."

I don't see how a diagonal red laser communicates to other road users what direction you intend to turn, unless that road user happens to be a cat:

In fact, now that nobody listens to CDs anymore I'm pretty sure the only thing lasers are still used for is cat entertainment.

Of course the Speednite also has an integrated display to let you know when you've attained metric Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo! speed:

And it's even got a crash notification system complete with "SOS light:"

If you crash on your Kiss bike there's an explosion of sparks, the stem plays "Detroit Rock City," and the Speednite flashes in time with the music.

Or, you could just get a folding electric fat bike instead:

This will be every bike at Walmart in 10 years.

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

BSNYC No Quiz Only Tardiness!

Well yesterday's mixed-terrain ramble was so rewarding (for me) that today I decided to treat myself to another one:

Because I deserve it:

It's chilling to think that in many households during that era the only thing preventing murder-suicide was a bar of soap.

Anyway, in keeping with my current ethos I once again rode a cheap bike while wearing street clothes, only this time instead of the Surly travel bike I opted for Ol' Piney:

And instead of yesterday's relatively docile terrain I headed for the forbidding Trails Behind The Mall:

Thus affording myself the opportunity to marvel at typical examples of suburban car-centric "couldn't-give-a-fuckedness" like this one:

You've got to appreciate the fact that when deciding where to place this sign someone most likely said, "Just put it on the sidewalk where it won't be in anyone's way."

And yes, people do actually walk on this sidewalk.  I know because I ride on it--and yes, I have no problem riding on the sidewalk in the suburbs when I deem it necessary, as it is on this particular stretch of road, which is for all intents and purposes unrideable.

In any event it was good to be back on the portly bike, which I hadn't ridden since the last snowstorm:

When I took my life in my hands in using tires that were only rated for "summer fatbiking:"

And while it's still not summer they were much better suited to the current conditions:

Speaking of living life on the edge, do you know the Marin Pine Mountain 1 would be illegal in Australia?  Yes, that's right, apparently bars wider than 700mm and and single-ring drivetrains do not meet Australian safety standards:

In an email to BikeRadar, Darren Rutherford the General Manager of Giant Bicycles Australia explained, "In Australia, the mandatory standard for pedal bicycles requires that certain types of bikes must not have handlebars that exceed a particular width (namely 700mm)."

However, bicycles intended for "competition" are excluded:

“Bicycles which are designed, promoted, and supplied primarily for use in competition are excluded from this standard, and the bicycles that Giant have recalled appear not to fit under that exclusion,” Bourke said.

Though obviously the bike industry and media would not consider the Pine Mountain a competition bicycle because it's not expensive enough and there's no crabon.

Oh, and the single-ring drivetrain isn't kosher because in Australia front derailleurs count as chainguards for some reason:

“The other aspect of the recall relates proliferation of 1x drivetrains,” he continued. “Previously the front derailleur was technically considered ‘chain protection’ and with 1x it’s no longer there.”

So I think it's safe to say that if I took the Pine Mountain to Australia and rode it helmetless I'd be executed.

Incredibly despite my unsafe equipment I survived, but as I was heading home on the bike path I encountered this ominously-placed "Hazmat/Spill Response" vehicle:

And through the trees I could just make out a cleanup crew at work in Tibbetts Brook:

Presumably Team Trump is wasting no time in contaminating those waterways.

Tibbetts Brook, in case you're wondering, which you almost certainly weren't, flows in to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx where it creates Van Cortlandt Lake as a result of having been dammed by Old Man Van Cortlandt some centuries ago:

Then from there it heads underground into the sewer system, flowing under Tibbett Avenue:

And eventually winds up in the Harlem River.

So there you go.

After my thrilling brush with contamination I officially escaped the suburbs and attained the safety of Van Cortlandt Park and New York City:

There are barriers to keep the ATV-riding riff-raff out:

But the riff-raff just go around them:

And so it goes.

You may now begin your weekend.

Tell your boss I said it was OK.

Ride safe,

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Comments Off

Guadalupe River Trail mud clearing day

Update: The Guadalupe River Trial under Highway 101 is (more or less) passable. The real problem spot now is the trail under Montague Expressway. We’ll work there this Saturday, March 11, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This chart from the United States Geological Survey shows the level of the Guadalupe River underneath Highway 101 just north of San Jose International Airport. The trail floods here at any level over seven feet deep.

Guadalupe River Stream Guage

Over the past few days the river level has dropped by about an inch per day. At this pace, the trail should be above the water in about ten days, but the trail will still remain covered in mud and debris.

City of San Jose and Valley Water District crews are still incredibly busy cleaning up and repairing significant flood damage elsewhere in the area, so we’re on our own for the time being cleaning up the trail. Because Hwy 101 is the most significant barrier to bike travel, I’d like to start with that underpass. If the water level drops enough, I tentatively plan to bring a shovel here the morning of Saturday, March 11. Many hands make light work, so I invite you to come along to help.

Bobcat loader rental runs about $200 / day. If somebody wants to rent one and trailer it to this location I’ll pitch in for the cost. Let me know immediately if you can do that so I can contact the city, the airport, and the water district about whatever permits we might need to get this done.

I’ll bike here, but if you drive remember that airport parking costs money ($15/day at the Economy Lot, located right next to the trail). Nearest free parking is street parking on Airport Parkway about a one mile walk away, but those spots are usually filled up with sleeping uber and Lyft drivers.

Let me know if you think you can participate. I’ll bring water and snacks, maybe figure out a way to get pizza delivery here. Bring your own shovel and rubber boots. And if it turns out city and water district crews get a chance to clean this up for us, I’ll cancel this volunteer effort.

Categories: san jose | Comments Off

Sorry I’m Late, I Thought It Was Still Wednesday

Remember Ann Pfoser Darby, the community board member in Queens who said that we won't need any more bike lanes once Trump deports all the illegal aliens?

Well you should, because I just mentioned her yesterday.

Either way, you'll be pleased to know she's retracted her comments and apologized.

Just kidding!

Nah, she totally doubled down:

Pfoser Darby doubled down on the comments when reached by phone Wednesday, saying she was sharing her observations with the community over bike lanes already installed on Queens Boulevard.

"I see who goes by and who doesn't, and there was a lot of people going by to work early in the morning and like about 90 percent of them are gone," she said — adding that she took it as a sign that these people have been "picked up by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement.]"

"It looks like they were illegal aliens, I don't know, I didn't speak to them," she added.

When asked how she could tell someone's immigration status from afar, she said it's "observation and logic."

"You can kind of tell, especially sometimes the way they dress," she said, adding later that it's obvious if "someone speaks only Chinese."

90 percent of the people using the bike lane have suddenly disappeared, really?  Has she checked her cataracts?  Because she sounds pretty addled, even for someone born in the early days of the Roosevelt administration.  (Frankie, not Teddy.)  Anyway, it would be easy to dismiss all of this as the harmless ranting of an old racist still waiting to get discovered by Norman Lear, except that she's a member of a fucking community board that makes life and death decisions.  Why should someone so out of touch have any input at all on whether there's a bike lane on 111th Street, or on anything that affects public safety?  When this woman was a kid here's what 111th Street in Corona, Queens looked like:

I'm sure she'd like to turn back time to the heady days of rolling hoops and throwing rocks at immigrants, but sadly those days are gone.

I wonder #whatpressureyourunning was appropriate when gravel-grinding on 111th Street in Corona back in 1938.

Speaking of #whatpressureyourunning, while riding north of the city this morning I decided "screw it," hopped a guardrail, and scampered into the woods:

My bike was over-geared and under-tired and wearing street clothes, but it was an enjoyable detour nevertheless:

Actually, it was probably an enjoyable detour because of all those things, since I'm finally learning that the less "prepared" you are for a ride the more enjoyable it's likely to be.

Oh sure, there's now a bike and a drivetrain and a tire tread pattern for every conceivable type of terrain, but that doesn't mean you need any of it.  If you run out of gears and your rear wheel starts slipping you get off the bike and walk, it's really not a big deal.

I realize this may seem like common sense to you, but for me as a recovering Fred it's been a long and technical climb to spontaneity--though one that's been aided by my relocation to the Bronx, since it puts me within easy striking distance of this sort of thing, whereas from Brooklyn you've got to ride for two hours in any direction just to escape the sprawl:

Still, as bucolic as this particular spot may seem it's still the suburbs, and there appeared to be some sort of local ordinance requiring every resident to own at least two dogs.  Indeed, at one point I was set upon by a pack of hounds and terriers who, fresh from frolicking in a stream, all decided to paw at my crotch:

Funny how that sort of thing never happens when you want it to.

Anyway, I continued to ramble:

And enjoyed the handiwork of the local trail builders:

Which today's high winds had effectively air-dried after yesterday's heavy rains.

Then I took to the gravel, despite the fact that I was not riding an industry-approved gravel bike:

Really I don't think anybody would approve of my travel bike with its ungainly spacer stack, but for whatever reason it's been the bike I've been gravitating towards lately:

It may be time to start curating the route for the 2017 Grand Fondon't.

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

Bike Lanes Are Only For [Insert Group You Don’t Like Here]

A few months ago I mentioned the XShifter, a wholly unnecessary yet oddly compelling device which allows you to convert your mechanical drivetrain to an electronic one:

Of course the idea of taking your perfectly serviceable mechanical drivetrain and incorporating finite battery life into it is, on many levels, patently absurd.  Nevertheless, a true bike dork always appreciates a good kludge (even if "good kludge" is something of an oxymoron), and it seems to me that a wireless shifter that works with a multitude of mechanical derailleurs opens a veritable Pandora's box (or, if you prefer, Sheldon's toolbox) of kludge-tastic possibilities.  

Take this bike, for example, which won a coveted Kludgie award back in 2007:

What bike dork worth his* SPD sandals wouldn't want to see this beauty outfitted with some Xshifters in the tenth anniversary year of that auspicious occasion?

*(Yes, his.  Compulsive kludgery is a condition that disproportionately affects males.)

Anyway, for this reason alone I was ready to welcome the XShifter (and so apparently was the rest of bike-dorkdom because they raised a lot of money on Kickstarter), but now it seems that more such devices are on their way.  And while Xshifter's presentation did have a certain DIY sensibility, it's like watching an Apple keynote compared to this one:

At this rate, electronic bicycle shifting conversion kits are going to be hanging in little packages at Target right next to the sports ball inflator pins.

Still, this most recent one probably works better than the Modolo Morphos, which was the analog solution to drivetrain cross-compatibility:

Though to be honest I have no idea whether or not the Modolo Morphos actually works since I was always too afraid to try them.  Not only do they appear to have the ergonomics of a shelf bracket, but they also look like something a doctor might use in the process of performing a colonoscopy:

(On closeout at Nashbar, enter discount code BUTTSCOPE at checkout.)

Meanwhile, if you were waiting for the worlds of Trumpism and bike lane bashing to collide, your wait is finally at an end:

Ann Pfoser Darby, a long-time member of Queens Community Board 4, argued last night that 111th Street by Flushing Meadows Corona Park doesn’t need a protected bike lane because Donald Trump will deport “all the illegals.” City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland is now calling for Borough President Melinda Katz to remove Darby from the board.

Transportation Alternatives Queens organizer Juan Restrepo reports that at an update on the 111th Street project last night, Darby said, “Once Trump removes all the illegals from Corona, there won’t be anybody to ride bike lanes.”


A few things:

Firstly, if you're unfamiliar with how New York City works, what happens is the DOT identifies a street that needs safety improvements.  You know, because people are getting maimed and killed by cars.  Once they do, they draw up a plan, which they present to something called a "community board."  Often made up of longtime residents whose self-interests have grown so bloated and heavy over the years that they've collapsed on themselves and gone supernova, these xenophobes do all they can to preserve their free street parking and fight anything that might make their neighborhood safer or more attractive to anybody who's not a misanthropic shut-in.  And incredibly, instead of telling a bunch of people who don't know the first thing about street design to shut up, the DOT will keep changing the design and coming back to them like Maria Carey's interior decorator with a bunch of fabric samples.

Secondly, in this particular case, 111th Street runs along Flushing Meadows Park, which is the fourth-largest park in New York City.  It's home to the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Zoo (which is way better than you'd think), and the Unisphere, among other landmarks.  Frankly, the idea that a park of this size shouldn't have a bike lane near it is fucking obscene.  Indeed it's a gross failing of this city that most large parks are surrounded by busy streets and that people basically have to run for their lives to get into and out of them.  Every park should be surrounded by protected bike lanes, and it's crazy that they aren't.

Thirdly, people in New York City who hate bike lanes should decide once and for all which despicable group is using them: the soulless gentrifiers who are pricing out all those decent hardworking car owners, or the illegal immigrants who are stealing all those cushy high-paying food delivery jobs and thus don't deserve to ride in safety?  It's vexingly inconsistent, especially to those of us who don't really fit into either category yet still find ourselves in bike lanes and are laboring under the delusion that maybe they actually benefit most people.

Finally, perhaps Ann Pfoser Darby, long-time member of Queens Community Board 4, should go to work for the Trump administration.  Then instead of a wall she can try to convince him to build a one-way bike lane between 111th Street and Mexico.

What a freaking pfoser.  The DOT should tell them to go pfuck themselves and build that bike lane already.

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

More is better.

Why does everybody love this Peter Sagan interview so much?

Apparently I'm the only bike dork in the world who watched it and then spent the rest of the day sick in bed with the douche-chills.

Phil Gaimon even called it "refreshing:"
Yeah, that was about as refreshing as a glass of warm milk.

I'm sure I talked to my parents and teachers like that when I was a teenager, and if I could travel back in time and punch myself in the face for cultivating an infuriating air of "couldn't-be-bothered"-ness I certainly would:

Indeed, I'm reminded of my own painfully laconic post-jet ski interview back in 1986:

I used to do my best to keep my hair limp and greasy-looking but I was powerless against the potent combination of wind and salt water which caused the whole mess to go POOF! in an instant.  This is why I generally used to avoid the beach at all costs.  (Now it's a non-issue as I'm rapidly running out of hair, so instead I avoid the beach because my many moles threaten to boil over into melanoma.)

Alas, even the surliest teen cannot resist the siren song of a whiny personal watercraft, and so I briefly sacrificed my carefully-curated image during that fateful family trip to Florida--but you can be sure I tamed the mane and resumed my desultory skateboarding in the shopping center parking lot that very afternoon.

You now know every single thing about me.

Thank the Benevolent Lobster on High I finally grew into a dignified adult:

(Blogger publishes book, thinks he accomplished something.)

If I went back in time to punch my teenage self I'd also stop to knee this guy in the "pants yabbies" on the return trip to 2017.

Speaking of youth, do you remember learning how to ride a bicycle?  Maybe not if you're Dutch or something, in which case you emerged from the womb astride a bike.  (Ouch.)

However, if you're an American born in the last century you no doubt learned how to ride using training wheels--or "stabilisers" as the British call them because: 1) they need to have a different word for everything; and B) they're deathly afraid of using the letter "z" (so they call it "zed" to rob it of its power).  Anyway, I mean these things:

Of course, training wheels are now hopelessly out of style, and the sort of progressive parents who ride cargo bikes to food co-ops would sooner smoke cigarettes around their children then place them on such a contraption.  Instead, now the politically correct learning apparatus is the balance bike, because it has a minimalist design and the idea comes from Europe--plus, now Yuba will sell you a cargo balance bike:

One can only imagine cities full of smug little imps in wool caps pushing themselves along on these things while shod in baby Birkenstocks and sucking on organic food packets.

All it needs is a "One Less Big Wheel" sticker.

Anyway, as the parent of human children I've employed both the balance bike and the training wheels as learning tools.  (Basically I order them to ride the balance bike, and if they refuse or do it poorly I beat them with the training wheels.)  Both have their uses, since the balance bike teaches, well, balance, while the training wheels allow them to focus on the mechanics of pedaling.  And in the end it really doesn't matter which you choose, because just like reading or using the toilet eventually they figure out how to do it no matter what method you use.  (Current POTUS excluded, I don't think he can do either.)

Nevertheless, would-be entrepreneurs persist in their efforts to refine the learning-to-ride experience, and the latest attempt is the Dually Bike:

The incredible Dually Bikes dual wheel design was created by a retired tinkerer with the goal of teaching his grandson how to ride a bike without the aid of training wheels.  "Training wheels are useless," he said, "they don't teach a kid how to balance."

Okay, fine, but what's disturbing about this is that apparently these kids will continue riding Dually bikes into adulthood:

Even more disturbing is that the bicycle industry is going to love this idea.  Thanks to the popularity of fat bikes they can now charge you $130 for a single knobby tire that weighs as much as a Volkswagen.  Traction sells!  Now with the Dually they can sell you even more traction, and best of all you'll have to buy two rear tires for every one you used to have to buy for your now hopelessly outmoded fat bike!

Then once you're locked into the Dually system obviously they'll double the front wheel two for even more stability.

Pure genius.

Categories: cycling | Comments Off

San Mateo County asks cyclists to avoid OLH

Old La Honda Road west OLH

I know a few people biked this portion of Old La Honda, and you know that sometimes I see “road closed” signs as an invitation to bike or walk the road if it’s not too obviously impassable, but San Mateo County Public works says the western Portion of Old La Honda Road between Skyline and Highway 84 isn’t safe. Per SMC Public Works:

The road is officially closed where it is failing to all modes of traffic. The hillside that supports the road is actively failing and we do not consider it safe for any users. The closure to all was effective last Friday, so while folks may have biked through the area this past weekend, they should not have done so. Thanks for checking.

SMC Public Works doesn’t normally post information online about road closures, but apparently this is enough of an issue that they reached out.

H/T Emma at the the Bike Coalition.

Categories: News | Comments Off

The end of road racing.

Thank you for indulging my absence during the Winter Reese's:

(Explanation: focus groups did not like "Chrismas Turd" so packaging was changed.)

As you may know we're experiencing an unseasonably warm February this year, so over the past week I was able to indulge in some family-style cycling:

Some solo mixed-terrain #whatpressuryourunning cycling:

And even some Category 6 Citi-Biking:

That's the new sumptuous two-way bicycle lane on Chrystie Street, and the green thing being projected onto it is the new Blaze light with which the oncoming Citi Bike is equipped:

Citi Bike + Blaze from Citi Bike on Vimeo.

If I'd fallen asleep back in the year 2000 and woken up today like some kind of Fred Van Winkle...

...the sight of a public bank-branded laser-firing futuristic space bike traveling along a two-way bike lane would completely blow my mind.  Then when I learned who the president was I'd probably beat myself back into a state of long-term unconsciousness, waking up 20 years hence only to discover that the planets in the Trappist-1 system are not only inhabited by humans but linked by bridges and ruined by Teslas:

Speaking of the future, the future is now, which is why some of the pro roadies are using disc brakes.  However, they're still not without controversy, and one rider complains a disc rotor almost severed his foot recently during an interview he conducted while wearing nothing but a towel:

In fact, he was so frightened he apparently wet himself while discussing it:

Subsequent to this, the cycling media and Fred-dom at large seem to taken umbrage at this claim, and have gone to great lengths to discredit it.  There's been Zapruder film-like analysis:

Based on this video, it appears that Doull caused the crash, pinched against the left-side barriers. Kittel is on the Brit’s right shoulder, and is taken out shortly thereafter. You can see the German’s disc brake-equipped Specialized S-Works Venge Vias flying through the air while he slides face-first on his stomach. The disc bike lands some distance ahead of both Kittel and Doull.

There is a brief moment in which foot-on-rotor contact would have been possible. As Doull falls left, the inside of his left foot, which is where he was cut, would have needed to go under his own bike and hit the left side of Kittel’s bike, where the disc rotors are located. That doesn’t look likely based on the footage (Kittel appears to be launched forward when Doull’s own bike slides under Kittel’s bike), but stranger things have happened in high-speed crashes.

As well as half-assed testing:

The reason for this skepticism is obvious: the entire Fred economy depends on a wholesale shift to road bikes with disc brakes.  If, however, the professional Freds refuse to accept this shift, then the whole crabon gravy train grinds to a halt like a low spoke-count wheelset with a broken spoke in a rim brake frame.  Why?  Because amateur Freds are completely unable to think for themselves and must ride whatever the pros do period full stop the end etc.  Even if Freds objectively like disc brakes better, they won't use them if the pros don't, because someone might see them and figure out that they're not pros too.  (Though the fact that they completely suck is usually enough of a giveaway.)

Therefore, the Fred Media must dismiss any criticism of discs on the part of the pro peloton as the Fredly equivalent of "fake news," or else the amateur Freds won't buy new disc brake bikes.

This is too bad.

Indeed, while I'm perfectly content with my primitive rim brake bikes, I've begun to realize that, with the advent of discs, American Fred-dom is now on the cusp of a great opportunity:

To finally divorce itself from the influence of stupid Euro UCI road racing once and for all.

Really, it's enough already.  Why in 2017 after innumerable scandals is any amateur cyclist still taking cues from this idiotic sport in any way?  It's time to say adieu!  After all, even Freds are able to get rid of their stupid hang-ups eventually.  Remember criteriums?

A cliterium (or "clit" for short) was a particularly boring form of bike racing in which a bunch of Freds rode up and down the main street of some hick town, and the last person without a broken collarbone was eventually declared the winner and given a free inner tube and a $10 gift certificate to the local hardware store.  Crazy as it may seem, this was once a popular form of Fred-dom.  But eventually people wised up, and realized that when it comes to racing around in circles, cyclocross (Americanized cyclocross, you know, with irony and stuff) is not only safer but a lot more fun:

(Incredibly, despite my poor remounting technique, I still managed to reproduce.)

And criteriums are way more entertaining when you hold them in cool cities and force people to ride fixies:

Now I think we're finally at the same point of realization with Euro-style road racing, since we've got a replacement all ready to go in the form of this whole "gravel" thing:

(It's "Handjob," but the "b" is silent.)

Oh, sure, the gravel thing is certainly silly.  Basically the bike industry sat around and said: "Let's take a Rivendell or a Surly Cross Check, swap the serviceable components for proprietary ones, make it out of plastic, and market it to Freds."  Even so, at least it's based on riding bikes in a fun way, whereas the best anybody could do with the whole traditional Euro-style road thing was Rapha's whole "exquisite suffering" take, which is already dated and over:

In case you're just joining bikes, this was actually cool for a few years.  I know it's hard to believe now that Rapha has become the default attire for people on brand new Treks with the pie plate still on, but I can assure you it was the case.

Anyway, all of this is to say that we've finally built ourselves a sound foundation, and have a whole range of weenie-ism to indulge in: cyclocross, fixed-gear criteriums, plus-sized mountain biking, bikepacking, gravel grinding...  It's time for the media and the consumers to say goodbye to UCI road racing once and for all and let it ride off into obscurity into the middle east, where a bunch of depilated Euros riding around in circles make perfect playthings for oil-rich royal families but generate nothing but boredom interspersed with periods of scandal for everyone else.

Because come on: if you still need to be that big a weenie in 2017, there's always triathlon.
Categories: cycling | Comments Off

New Earth

This is kind of sci-fi book review and kind of a stream-of-concisouness current events commentary, but first of all, obligatory bike content: Calmar Bicycles in Santa Clara, California begins their business liquidation sale on Monday. They’re a long time presence in South Bay cycling, long time supporters of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, regular participants in the city BPAC, and they even helped me get San Jose Bike Train running with zero benefit to them.

Besides the usual bugaboo of the challenges of e-commerce, Calmar owner James Lucas says two factors drove the nail into his retail coffin: the difficult labor market, and rising rents. Colleagues at my office tell me that sky-high property prices in Silicon Valley are incentives to get an education and work harder. They completely fail to understand that even our high-tech knowledge economy needs people to stock grocery shelves, fix roads, teach our children, empty bedpans, collect garbage, repair homes, install plumbing, and even sell and service our bicycles. If they can’t afford to live in the Bay Area because our wonderful NIMBY neighbors refuse to allow more housing, they can’t afford to commute a hundred miles from the Central Valley to work here.

Obligatory Bike Content, Part 2: San Jose Bike Trains runs next Wednesday, March 1, 2017, departing Bel Bacio in San Jose’s Little Italy 8:15. Media may be on hand to shoot video of the ride start.

Ben Bova New Earth book cover

Personal thoughts on Trappist-1

This week’s announcement of seven known “earth sized” planets around the Trappist-1 system 39 light years from our own Solar System reminds me two things:

  • The Firefly ‘Verse, with dozens of planets and hundreds of moons, each one terraformed to support human life, to be New Earths.
  • Ben Bova’s novel New Earth, in which Humankind sends an expedition to an earth-like planet in the Sirius system just 8.6 light years away.

I enjoyed Bova’s writing when I was about 12 years old. I picked up New Earth more recently on a lark and was disappointed at the wooden characterizations and un-compelling storyline before realizing Bova wrote of his own romantic relationship with a much younger woman whom he married the year this book was published. It’s not really central to the plot, but the 50-year-old expedition leader in New Earth falls head-over-heels in love with the 30-year-old alien hottie, and never mind about mission objections. Can you say “male gaze” with me, boys and girls? I knew you could.

Besides the mid-life crisis of their wish-washy, angst-ridden leader, the team wonders: how can they have a fully functional ecology with an oxygen atmosphere on a planet around a star that’s less than 500 million years old? Per current evolutionary theory (the context Bova operates in), it took nearly that long for single-cellular life to appear on our Old Earth. It took another two billion years before the first major extinction event with the Oxygen Catastrophe. Multicellular life begins over a billion years after that, and they’re mostly slug-like blobs until very very recently.

Besides that, the Sirius stars are very hot, spitting out all kinds of high energy nastiness that destroy DNA.

So I wonder about all the excitement about Trappist-1, estimated to be around 500 million years old, which means little chance of any kind of widespread chemical process that resembles life, and little chance of a breathable atmosphere. The planets, which all orbit very close to their primary, are almost certainly tidally locked. Like the same face of the moon always appears to earth, these planets probably have the same side always facing their sun. The star likely generates some significant electromagnetic activity which will strip away the atmospheres of these closely orbiting planets.

Still, hope springs eternal, so maybe we’ll eventually send colonizers on a one-way trip. Because the planets are so young, they’ll be virgin territory for terraforming — any environmental review will discover no artifacts or life, so we can go in and bulldoze these planets to our hearts’ content with a Star Trek Genesis Device, and eventually create the Alliance ruled by an interplanetary parliament as a beacon of civilization as the savage outer planets refuse Alliance control and fight a devastating war and create brand new compelling stories.

New Earth, incidentally, is the first of a trilogy, which itself is part of Bova’s much larger “Grand Tour” series. It’s pretty bad and I can’t recommend it, but click here if you’re tempted so you can read other reader reviews. The cover art on the novel shown above, incidentally, has absolutely nothing at all to do with the story. It’s just random sci-fi looking space art. Does that seem right to you?

Categories: book | Comments Off

Caltrans bike & ped plan San Jose workshop: Online only due to flooding

Update: Bike coalition San Jose team meeting also cancelled due to flooding. Details below.

Caption me!

Due to flooding near downtown San Jose, California, Thursday’s scheduled workshop to discuss the California Bicycle / Pedestrian Plan is now an online forum only. The planned in-person meeting at the MLK Library has been cancelled.

To dial into the meeting from 10 A.M. to noon on Thursday, February 23, 2017, call 888-921-7813, and use conference code 2664478. Video will also be available via join.me/CABikeandPed (which is blocked by my office firewall, grrr…).

You can review the draft plan and provide comments online here. Learn more and keep up to date at CABikePedPlan.org.


The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Team Meeting scheduled for tonight has also been cancelled due to flooding. The meeting organizers and several participants live in he impacted area and are directly affected.

Coyote Creek through the city of San Jose flooded overnight, impacting people in 50,000 homes, and causing a few traffic headaches during the morning commute when Caltrans closed US Highway 101 due to flooding.


What was the top-selling bicycle book last week from Amazon? find out here. I’m not sure I believe that a Japanese bicycle magazine is number nine on the list. [ This is an ad ]

Categories: california | Comments Off