Everyone needs to do a solo century

bridge
Crossing the I-80 / Carquinez bridge.

The Century is often the benchmark for amateur and recreational cyclists. Often taking the form of fund-raising charity rides or hosted club-run rides, they often feature food, music and expo-like activities at the end. These full day events are, as they say, all about the bike. You are surrounded by fellow cyclists (or sympathetic family supporters of fellow cyclists) and the camaraderie is palpable.

However, there is a ton of benefit – both training and mental – in doing longer rides such as this on your own. For me personally riding with other cyclists definitely improves my performance. I find myself pushing myself just a tiny bit more when the guy in front of me starts to gap me, or when fellow riders are on my wheel. I have the opportunity to slip onto someone else’s wheel for a bit of respite while still maintaining pace.

When you’re out on the road on your own, however, those options don’t exist. It is you, your bike, and the thoughts in your head. Keep reading →

How many cyclists does it take to make toast?

There were a number of different thoughts that went through my head when I first saw this video. First – damn that dude’s thighs are huge. Second, the amazing fact that there are folks in the world that can sustain over 700w on a bike.

But then I thought about the message of the video. Clearly the video is trying to help people understand how much energy we consume as a society. I understand this problem. But I actually took away something a little more beautiful from this. Keep reading →

Route change for Seattle To Portland

This year’s Seattle to Portland bicycle ride – put on by Cascade Bicycle Club – is just around the corner. I’ve mentioned a couple of times how much I love this ride, and I’m really excited to be going back again. This year, however, will have a slightly different route this year.

They’ve just announced via email to registered riders that this years route will not take you through US Military property at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Keep reading →

Bay Area Bike Share Expanding

logo_white_green_cogThe wonderfully successful Bay Area Bike Share program, launched in September of 2013, has shown steady use since day one. Now, with just over a year and a half of operation, they have reported over 500,000 trips taken, with over 300,000 of those in San Francisco alone. Over 7,000 have opted for the $88 year membership, while almost 50,000 short term passes have been sold.

The fleet of 700 bikes are clearly tailored to the casual / commuter cyclist. Weighing in at 42.5 pounds, Keep reading →

Why I can no longer support my local bicycle coalition

This is the post I’ve struggled to write for the last year. It is the culmination of thoughts and impressions that have been coalescing  for many months. As a shop owner, it lead me to question my morals and values as I publicly lent my support to my local bike coalition. As I got more and more involved in local politics it became apparent to me that pretty much nothing “bike related” would get any traction without the local bike coalition’s approval. And that has lead me to where I am now.

I can not support this organization. I believe we have reached a point where they are now doing more harm than good. Keep reading →

Neil Hanson, Author of Pilgrim Wheels

Pilgrim Wheels - front cover

Cyclist and author Neil Hanson has just released a book titled Pilgrim Wheels: Reflections of a Cyclist Crossing America. The book describes the first half of a somewhat-impromptu journey across the United States by bicycle. Having something of an interest in folks taking off on long distance bike rides, I decided to share a few responses to questions posed to the author.

Note: You can also read a review of Pilgrim Wheels on VeloReviews.com: Pilgrim Wheels book review

What was the original inspiration for your bicycle trip across America?

I wanted to take a bike ride. A long bike ride. Hundreds of miles, just me and my bike. Why? No particular reason, it just sounded like a neat thing to add to the checklist of “fun and exciting things I’ve tried.” The idea became an adventure. An adventure to plan for and to move toward. A box to check off. Eventually, I was clipping into my pedals in Monterey, California, pointing south along the coast on a beautiful summer day, discovering America and me. Keep reading →

Are Brilliant Bicycles really Brilliant?

1932316_929536510407999_5379744506276974419_nBrilliant Bicycles web page is full of some video and imagery of folks doing the kinds of things I love – riding some beautiful looking bikes. While there is no text yet indicating the details of their products, they seem to be crafting beautifully adorned steel “city style” bikes – similar to San Francisco’s Public bicycles. Their twitter page lists them as from New York and Los Angeles (but don’t confuse them with the Brilliant Bikes out of the UK). They have all the standard social media offerings one would expect of what appears to be a brand new bike brand just launching. So I went searching for more information.

Their Facebook page is filled with eclectic and decidedly artsy cycling related posts, Keep reading →

Cycling through a midlife crisis

car-n-chick
Hey – you better not scratch the paint!

When I was a kid I actually looked forward to having a midlife crisis. I’d have a societally accepted excuse to buy a dangerously fast car and hook up with a young blond (of course at that time in my life ‘hook up’ loosely meant getting to second base.) Those of you that have followed this blog over the years may be surprised to know that I actually was quite a motorhead when I was younger. Classic American muscle cars were my thing. And I poured ridiculous amounts of money into making sure they would suck up as much gasoline as possible. All speed limit signs read “As fast as you can go and still keep it mostly in your lane.”

But I digress…

Somewhere between then and age 40 – which is when I’d always planned to have my midlife crisis – that passion for cars switched to a passion for bicycles. Well – first I bought a Prius in a lame attempt to somehow atone for all the carbon I’d dumped into the atmosphere drag racing on the streets of my home town through high school. That pretty much cured me of the fast car midlife crisis cliché. Instead, my first step in my midlife crisis was to open a bike shop. It failed. And being the silver-lining guy that I am, I’m kinda glad. In an effort to recover from the debt incurred running a failed, unprofitable bike shop I looked for expenses to cut. One of my larger monthly bills was my damned car payment.

So instead of buying that incredibly fast car, I did just the opposite and became car free.

Turns out I was right in line with what I was supposed to be doing. For me part of the point of a midlife crisis is to reset the clock and roll back to a mental attitude of half your age – hopefully taking along some of the good wisdom with you. It is the realization that, yea, I probably did waste my youth, but that doesn’t mean I need to be a boring old man. Many people lament “Gee, if only I could go back then knowing what I know now.” Well that is exactly what I planned to do.

And what does that have to do with being car free? Well, turns out the people that are chronologically half my age don’t much want to drive either. With improvements in health care and quality of life, more and more people are doing things in their 40’s that were previously reserved for those in their 20’s. Since 40 is my new 20, I’m off to do slightly reckless things in the pursuit of happiness, with just a slight tinge of older wisdom. In my case doing something new means, among other things, riding one of those funny bikes with knobby tires and squishy forks on dirt. And getting faster on the road. I ditched the car addiction, but not the addition to speed.

And the tempered with wisdom part? Well, that involves watching guys like this and realizing “That looks like a ton of fun – but you guys are fucking nuts…”

Are Police Electronic Device Laws Justified?

California, like many other states, has laws on the books to control the use of electronic devices while riding. As in most (all?) jurisdictions with such laws, there is an explicit exception for operators of emergency vehicles – which on the surface makes sense to most. While the intent of this exemption makes sense to me, a recent case has caused me to seriously reconsider the implications of an unrestricted exemption.

It started when former Napster COO Milton Everett Olin Jr. was struck and killed by a LA County Sheriff’s patrol car. Keep reading →

Hats Off to Cafe Roubaix

Shop DoorMost of you by now have probably heard tale of Specialized Bicycle’s play against a small, independent bike shop in Canada. While I’ve yet to hear anything from Specialized themselves on the matter, I like many found this story disgusting. The conflict arises over the use of the word ‘Roubaix’ – which of course adorns a line of Specialized bikes as well and is a registered trademark of Specialized.

Me being me I was all ready to rip Specialized (verbally) apart here.  But, given that the last time I went after someone here on JustAotherCyclist it went a little wrong (read the comments to this) I’ve actually decided on a different path.

I found a very reasonable, educated and balanced Open Letter to Mike Sinyard (Founder of Specialized Bikes) posted on the blog Riding Against the Grain. Here the author says, among other things:

If you choose to analyze things from a purely business perspective, look at what’s happening.  Even if there was some impact on your business (there isn’t), and even if you could quantify it (you can’t), it would be miniscule.  Compare that minuscule economic impact to the incredibly damaging effect that this news is having upon your company.  The core of people who are really dedicated bikers are seeing this news nonstop.  All of their friends are using social media to talk about it.  It’s everywhere–in the worst possible way.  The cost analysis on this particular intellectual property squabble weighs heavily against pursuing it.

An Open Letter to Mike Sinyard

Seriously – go read the blog post. There would be no value in me adding my particular brand of snark to this conversation.

If you decide you want to get involved and help Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio you can check out their company website, purchase products from their online store, or continue to let @iamspecialized know your thoughts on the matter. There is an indiegogo campaign that has been started purportedly to support the shop’s legal defense, but that campaign appears to be run by a person or group out of Australia and not the shops native Canada – so do your homework when donating.