Mainstream media and bicycle helmets

Photo Credit Ross Del Duca / VeloReviews Media. Used with permission.

Of all of the things I’ve written about here on JustAnotherCyclist, few subjects tend to spark as much disagreement – from both cyclists and non-cyclists alike – as my posts regarding bicycle helmets. Many seeing me roll up to work or wherever without my helmet on have referred to me as reckless, stupid, crazy, nuts, or even… well, you can probably imagine. I’ve been told I’m an irresponsible parent, setting a bad example for my children. I’ve been told I make drivers on the road nervous, thus increasing motorists/cyclist contention. I’ve even been told I “deserve to crack my skull open” because I opt to sometimes ride without a helmet.

I’ve never once encouraged anyone to ride without a helmet. Instead, I’ve spoke of my own opinions and ideas on the subject, encouraging others to find out the facts and make an educated, reasonable decision on their own.

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Will the real Greg LeMond Please Stand Up

Ahhh social media. Not only do you get provocative messages – you get provocative discussions about who the provocative messages actually came from.

Adding to the “intrigue” is the fact that the message was posted to the Greg LeMond timeline at least 13 separate times – the identical post – at the time of this writing. Speculation was already rampant that the posts didn’t in fact come from Greg himself.

Maybe, maybe not. But here’s the full text of the post in quesiton:
Can anyone help me out? I know this sounds kind of lame but I am not well versed in social marketing. I would like to

send a message to everyone that really loves cycling. I do not use twitter and do not have an organized way of getting some of my own “rage” out. I want to tell the world of cycling to please join me in telling Pat McQuaid to f##k off and resign. I have never seen such an abuse of power in cycling’s history- resign Pat if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport.
Pat McQuaid, you know dam well what has been going on in cycling, and if you want to deny it, then even more reasons why those who love cycling need to demand that you resign.
I have a file with what I believe is well documented proof that will exonerate Paul.
Pat in my opinion you and Hein are the corrupt part of the sport. I do not want to include everyone at the UCI because I believe that there are many, maybe most that work at the UCI that are dedicated to cycling, they do it out of the love of the sport, but you and your buddy Hein have destroyed the sport.
Pat, I thought you loved cycling? At one time you did and if you did love cycling please dig deep inside and remember that part of your life- allow cycling to grow and flourish- please! It is time to walk away. Walk away if you love cycling.
As a reminder I just want to point out that you recently you accused me of being the cause of USADA’s investigation against Lance Armstrong. Why would you be inclined to go straight to me as the “cause”? Why shoot the messenger every time?
Every time you do this I get more and more entrenched. I was in your country over the last two weeks and I asked someone that knows you if you were someone that could be rehabilitated. His answer was very quick and it was not good for you. No was the answer, no, no , no!
The problem for sport is not drugs but corruption. You are the epitome of the word corruption.
You can read all about Webster’s definition of corruption. If you want I can re-post my attorney’s response to your letter where you threaten to sue me for calling the UCI corrupt. FYI I want to officially reiterate to you and Hien that in my opinion the two of your represent the essence of corruption.
I would encourage anyone that loves cycling to donate and support Paul in his fight against the Pat and Hein and the UCI. Skip lunch and donate the amount that you would have spent towards that Sunday buffet towards changing the sport of cycling.
I donated money for Paul’s defense, and I am willing to donate a lot more, but I would like to use it to lobby for dramatic change in cycling. The sport does not need Pat McQuaid or Hein Verbruggen- if this sport is going to change it is now. Not next year, not down the road, now! Now or never!
People that really care about cycling have the power to change cycling- change it now by voicing your thought and donating money towards Paul Kimmage’s defense, ( Paul, I want to encourage you to not spend the money that has been donated to your defense fund on defending yourself in Switzerland. In my case, a USA citizen, I could care less if I lost the UCI’s bogus lawsuit. Use the money to lobby for real change).
If people really want to clean the sport of cycling up all you have to do is put your money where your mouth is.
Don’t buy a USA Cycling license. Give up racing for a year, just long enough to put the UCI and USA cycling out of business. We can then start from scratch and let the real lovers in cycling direct where and how the sport of cycling will go.
Please make a difference.

I’ll let you be the judge.


I’ve got an idea – name the hole that now exists

Ugh. I know. I probably shouldn’t be writing about Lance Armstrong now. Enough is enough. What I was really thinking about is all those folks that are now going to have to go over the record books with erasers, Wite-Out® and heavy black markers obliterating all occurrences of the name Lance Armstrong from the official record of winners. I think the ancient egyptians were good at erasing fallen pharos from the record too, so maybe we can take some cues from them.

But in our digital age, getting rid of records is a little trickier because any joker with a keyboard (say, like me) can write an article. And those articles will have undoubtedly used the name Lance, Armstrong or, if you’re not into that whole brevity thing, Lance Armstrong. But it becomes really awkward to just schwack his name from all the records. I mean, sentences wouldn’t even make sense.

For example: “…the federal investigation into seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been closed with no charges filed…” just doesn’t work with his name redacted. “…the federal investigation into seven time Tour de France winner has been closed with no charges filed…”  See – that just doesn’t work, because, well, there now is no one that has ever won 7 Tour de France victories.

Or how about this: “Despite the evidence, Lance Armstrong continues to maintain that he never used performance enhancing drugs.” Take out his name and “Despite the evidence, continues to maintain that he never used performance enhancing drugs” just sounds like a court transcript where the court reporter got lazy.

So it occurred to me that we need some sort of a place holder we can use to replace his name, and fill the gramatical hole created by redacting his name from the record. Something to fill the gap – fill the space left by the absence of Armstrong’s name. Something to fill the hole left behind by Armstrong – the Armstrong hole. Hmmm… Something to fill the Armstrong hole.

Oh! The A-Hole!  That’s perfect!

So now, wherever we would have said “Seven time Tour de France Winner” or “Lance Armstrong” or “Lance” or “Armstrong,” we simply substitute “The A-Hole” and it all works:

“…the federal investigation into seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been closed with no charges filed…
“…the federal investigation into The A-Hole has been closed with no charges filed…

Likewise, “Despite the evidence, Lance Armstrong continues to maintain that he never used performance enhancing drugs.”
“Despite the evidence, The A-Hole continues to maintain that he never used performance enhancing drugs.”

Nice thing is, this can become a handy twitter hash-tag too! In fact, I highly encourage anyone posting any tweet about The A-Hole to also include #theahole in the tweet, so that we can all easily find it without needing to type out the guys actual name.

Just a modest proposal.

How a cardboard bike saved my mood

I’ve been moping and whining about the fact that, after seven years of destroying the peloton, Lance Armstrong was able to do it one final time without even spinning a pedal. I couldn’t come up with anything worth mentioning on the case Neil Browne hadn’t already said. However it is such a huge story that I find myself, like the mainstream media I lament, feeling compelled to talk about nothing else.

Well, thanks to the constant stream of updates coming from and their Facebook page, I found a story right up my alley – just teed up for me to run with. And that story was about … cardboard.

I loved it because it immediately made me think of how Lance had become sort of a cardboard-cutout of his former self to many people. But this story was much better. Because unlike Lance, this was not a story about someone or something that was less than it appeared. Rather, it was the story of someone making much, much more out of something than was immediately obvious. It was a story about a fully functional cardboard bicycle.

Now some will undoubtedly take my analogy a step further, pointing out that through the use of chemical treatments the cardboard has actually been made stronger than its natural form. Sure, someone could say that the glue is the EPO, and the laquer is the transfusions that allow this cardboard to achieve super-cardboard feats of strength. To that I would respond: You think too much.

What I see here is a great opportunity to have what could amount to a disposable bike. Imagine the possibilities here when a bike is can be manufactured in a guy’s garage for $20? Now imagine how much that price could be reduced to on a higher production run. Now imagine those cheap bikes made from potentially post-consumer cardboard being deployed around cities as a means of public transportation. Imagine a vending machine at the airport that would allow you to purchase a fully functional bicycle for less than you’d likely pay for a cab? Imagine schools able to check out bicycles to students for the year for less than the price of a textbook.

Sure – this is just a prototype. And sure, the $20 number may not pan out. But you’ve got to love this guys innovation and vision to even try. Do I love my Fred-tastic carbon fiber bikes? Hell yes. But you better believe I’d ride on of these bikes too.

Funny thing is, the other “new bicycle design” that seems to be taking off around the internet isn’t new at all. I’m talking here about the Bicymple. Look – there is no denying it is a beautiful design (if you are into weird things) Fundamentally, however, this is essentially a fixed-gear wobble bike, slightly less articulated. Maybe it is my naiveté, but I really don’t see why two wheel steering is necessary on a bicycle. Even on cars – which you can’t pick up and move sideways to park – four wheel steering was never more than a novelty.

Ahhh – doesn’t it feel better to write (and read) about bikes instead of bio-chemistry and doping? Time to drop my digital copy of the “Reasoned Decision” into the virtual trash can on my computer.

Now every cycling fan is trying to be a lawyer

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play on one TV. But I nonetheless found myself spending a whole lot of time yesterday reading over legal documents. It would be cool if I were trying to gain understanding into my legal liabilities if I lead a ride and someone gets hurt. Or perhaps finding ways my auto insurance is legally required to cover myself and/or bicycle in the case of an accident in the saddle. Or how about the technicalities of home owners or renters insurance and a stolen bike.

Nope – as you probably guessed, I was all wrapped up in the USADA Reasoned Decision in the Lance Armstrong case. Across the internet, everyone seems to be writing that as “Reasoned Decision” – in quotation marks – as if it is a sarcastic remark.  Turns out that a reasoned decision is actually a specific type of document that the USADA was required to release. From the publication itself:
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Viva la Zealotry!

Nothing makes an article worth reading like prodigious use of the word “zealot.” And I’m in luck! Today’s round of randomly picked (by Google) bicycle related web happenings returned two different posts that were fortified with 200% of my daily allowance of claims of zealotry. Oh yea – and a couple of straw men thrown in for good measure.

The first of these two appeared on a blog titled Cal Watchdog, written by Katy Grimes. This piece, titled “Bicycle nuts driving local traffic issues,” caught my attention because I could relate to it in a very specific way. This OpEd piece is about the desire to get bike lanes on a specific stretch of road in Sacrament, CA. It just so happens that I used to live in one of the neighborhoods served by that road, and I’ve in fact ridden on the stretch in question. As with many OpEd type pieces, it was full of hyperbole (good thing I never do that in my articles. *cough* *cough*). But there are some rather specific statements from Ms. Grimes that just beg for rebuttal:

 The City of Sacramento, run by mostly arrogant liberals, has been trying to ram through approval of more bicycle lanes on very busy streets and major arteries of auto travel.

Here, Ms. Grimes is strategically framing her argument to be as polarizing as possible. Specifically, she’s maneuvering towards the all-to-often used tactic of making it an “us versus them” argument. The emotional reaction by many is to read “cyclists (the “them”) are specifically targeting busy streets to take away lanes for cars (the “us”). We’ll see more of this tactic later. What she refuses to acknowledge is that bicycles take up significantly less road surface compared to cars. What does this mean for the cars? Well, the more people that feel comfortable using bicycles as a means of transportation, the fewer actual cars on the road, and thus those “very busy streets” become not so busy – for everyone.

Moving on….

Freeport Blvd. is a heavily traveled street and frequently backs up in the downtown areas.

Well this is just factually inaccurate – and anyone that lives in Sacramento (as Ms. Grimes claims to) would know that. Freeport Blvd in fact ends at Broadway, no where near downtown. The normal course into downtown from Freeport Blvd would be to veer onto 21st, which is already a one-way street with existing bike lanes. Nothing being “taken away” from the motorists in the downtown region here. The only logical conclusion about her throwing in this obviously erroneous statement is an attempt to further persuade her readers into the “us vs. them” frame of thinking.

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The utopian bicyclists, who unabashadly state that there should not be autos on the roads, keep finding ways to keep this project alive.

This is my favorite part. I especially love the line “…who unabashadly state that there should not be autos on the roads…” Really? Who says that? More “us vs. them” – this time stopping just short of telling the poor, poor motorists that us cyclists will also steal children in the night. The “us vs. them” argument frankly just doesn’t hold water. The vast majority of cyclists also … wait for it … drive cars too! We’re not anti-car, but we may be a little anti-getting-killed-by-cars. We own vehicles, purchase gasoline, pay property taxes – all the things Ms. Grimes seems to be implying that cyclists are a threat to.

For those interested, the actual proposal can be found on the City of Sacramento Department of Transportation website.

But that wasn’t the end of the claims of zealotry for the day. In fact, I found a second article, this one entitled “Bicycle Zealots Run Over Common Sense with New Laws.” But wait! Check out that byline. Why, this article is also by none other than the prolific Ms. Grimes! Now, if I were to adopt her style, I’d immediately decry Ms. Grimes as an “Anti-Cyclist Zealot” with an agenda to “deprive me of safe riding conditions and continue to push for policies designed to endanger my life and well being.” But luckily, I’m not like that, so I won’t make such statements.

This second piece is an attack on recent legislation related to cycling:

The California Legislature just passed three bills allowing the state’s bicycling extremists the upper hand on streets designed for autos.

Sigh. “…bicycling extremists the upper hand…” Yet more “us vs. them” propaganda. One of the bills in question is SB 1464 – the so-called “3 Foot Passing Rule.” Not sure why she picked this one to complain about. This isn’t actually a new law, but rather clarification of a somewhat vague existing law that requires motorosts to pass cyclists at a “safe distance.” This law clearly defines “safe distance” as 3 feet. What’s wrong with removing ambiguity from laws? We updated our laws from “to drunk to drive a car safely” to “blood alcohol level equal to or above 0.08.” Was that a wasteful law too?

Ms. Grimes goes on to characterize the previously passed Complete Streets Act with this gem:

In 2008, the Legislature passed the California Complete Streets Act, which required roadways to be designed to accommodate all users: bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, disabled people, children, older people and motorists.

Obviously, no one talked with a physics professor before writing this legislation.

I’m actually not sure what relevance a physics professor would have in this discussion, given that the folks that were actually involved know how to make this a reality. How? Well, among them were planners and representitives from cities all over the world where roadways already exist that were designed to accomodate all users. Sorry Ms. Grimes, your attempt to question the intelligence of the legislation by implying that it is impossible to achieve falls apart when you can find existing examples of the goal already achieved in real life.

For me the real clincher was her closing remark though. Keep in mind that her article started out by claiming in the title “Bicycle Zealots Run Over Common Sense…” So she throws in this final thought:

I am hoping that legislators introduces a bill mandating bicyclists to follow traffic laws. If California is really going to become bicycle-friendly, it’s time for cyclists to follow all traffic laws; because when bike-auto collisions occur, often the bicyclist is part of the problem, and not always the victim.

So her “common sense” approach is to hope legislatures pass a law, that will mandate that cyclists follow the laws. Not only is that an absurd and ridiculous idea, it is a tired old argument that doesn’t hold up. I grow weary of the “cyclists never follow the laws argument.” Or worse “I’ll share the road when cyclists follow the rules of the road.” Implicit in that statement is the idea that motors actually follow the laws themselves. Every hear of the California Stop Ms. Grimes? An illegal maneuver so common it has a nick name in common parlance. Ever drive the speed limit on the freeway only to find that every other motors it changing lanes to pass you? And frankly the characterization that all cyclists are law breakers is yet more of the apparently standard Ms. Grimes attack strategy: “us vs. them.”

Oh… but wait! Let’s go back to the first article regarding the bike lanes in Sacramento where she writes this statement:

Bicycling on this street is not safe, and never will be. There are too many businesses and too many cars. When I am on my bike, because I have a stong sense of survival, I avoid riding on Freeport Blvd.

Huh. So on the one hand you claim to be a cyclist yourself, then on the other hand claim that cyclists are a danger that don’t follow the laws.

Sorry Ms. Grimes. I love a good, passionate opinion piece as much as the next gal. But I call B.S. on your drivel.

How to properly handle a traffic altercation

It is far too easy to write nasty articles about “those damned motorists” and how they endanger all of us cyclists on the road. Because it is so easy, there are probably far too many of them. This inadvertently presents the image of cycling on the road as an inherently dangerous, hostile experience to be undertaken only by the most seasoned of cyclists. In truth the overwhelming majority to trips I make by bike are completely uneventful. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve exchanged words with a driver from the saddle (and I can tend to be a little hot tempered too.)

That being said, there are going to be times when something will go amiss. Someone won’t see you, or will assume you are going to move in a direction different from your plans, or whatever. This risk exists no matter what your vehicle of choice is – car, SUV, bicycle or favorite pair of Pumas. These situations are stressful by nature, but the person that stays calm almost always comes out on top.

So, I submit for your approval the following video. Consider it a training video. A demonstration of precisely how to act when you do end up in a conversation regarding a traffic incident.

I’m glad Lance isn’t fighting

I’m quite frankly sick to death of hearing about Lance and his apparently inexhaustible ability to be targeted by, and just missed by, doping investigations. More importantly, I’m tired of it being the only story the main stream american media seems able to cover related to cycling.  Well, that and a cyclist killing a pedestrian. For americans this was an amazing year in bike racing, but you barely heard anything about in on the talking picture box. Two major pro level stage races in the United States. An American team battling it out in the olympics. American cyclist Chris Horner apparently inheriting the reigns of Cycling Media Ambassador for the american Audiences. These are exciting times for those of us in the states that are paying attention. For the rest of the population, apparently cycling is only about allegations of cheating from over a decade ago.

With all of this hoopla, you think that the Armstrong events were absolutely critical to the sport of cycling. But what impact with the USADA / Lance debacle actually have?  Well, only one of two.

Scenario One: The (still) immortal Lance

There will be continued bickering, lawyering-up and public statementifications (read that carefully) until ultimately, some obscure court that no one has ever heard of will completely side-step the doping allegations, In this scenario, the Court of Arbitration for Sport will decide that the USADA has no authority to strip medals and wins. If this happens, historians will need to rewrite the name “Armstrong, L. United States” across the white out they just recently placed across his name.

Scenarion Two: Lance only had 9 lives (and already used up 8)

Alternatively, the ruling may stand. Lance may be stripped of his wins for all posterity. The sport will be cleansed of the evil dopers – oui? No. In fact, almost all of the 2nd place finishers that would be promoted to first if Armstrong is stripped of his titles are themselves accused and/or convicted dopers. That’s progress, right?

Lance’s characterization of these allegations as a “witch hunt” may be true. However, unlike the madness in Salem of oh-so-many years ago, this time around thar be real witches in the woods.

If May was bike month, what is June?

May is bike month. We all know it, and many of us go on about it. We get bike to school day, bike to work day, and in addition a whole bike to work week! Local coffee shops, bike shops and assorted business get the excuse opportunity to set up tables along popular bike routes and paths giving away free swag and looking very bike-friendly. This should be a month for me to rejoice – to share enthusiasm and passions with the greater cycling community. A time for us to pat ourselves on our collective back and take stock in how far advocacy efforts have come. And May is action packed with a lot more than just advocacy and riding to work. On the racing front, we had not only the grand american race Tour of California, but also the Giro d’Italia.  The Tour of Cali was especially engaging for me this year, as I watched one of my personal favorites – and fellow old guy – Chris Horner appear to struggle through the Time Trial with an anchor on his bike. The setback would have crushed the spirits of other folks. But the drama unfolded in the final significant climbs of the race as Horner, Jens Voigt (another personal favorite and fellow old guy) and others took a flyer off the front. Slowly riders from the break away dropped one by one, until Chris Horner had actually made back all the time lost in the TT and then some.  He climbed his way into first place on paper – as Phil Liggett likes to say – and had me on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately the herculean effort was not enough and he was eventually caught. But what a way to highlight what bike month is supposed to be about – enjoying all aspects of bicycles. Rolling the cruiser, commuting to work, or ripping the peloton apart.

Unfortunately, this time around all Bike Month managed to do for me was remind me that the other 11 months are not bike month.  June came this year to punch me in the gut and drive the point home. June has brought us the apparent implosion (again) of what should have been the best team in the peloton – RadioShack Nissan Trek. Andy Schleck has been plagued by … something … all season. There are already rumors of the Schleck boys leaving the squad. When the team announced their Tour de France lineup, Chris Horner was not on the list. This lead to all kinds of speculation and drama as to why that happened. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the presumed Tour de France GC contender Andy Schleck was not going to make it due to injury. Ahh, but poor Bruyneel wasn’t done with bad news yet. Just when we thought it was over, Bruyneel and Mr Armstrong find themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Yup – doping allegations again. What is a cycling enthusiast to do.

But hold on a second…

I once again started my commute on a bicycle this morning in beautiful San Francisco. I passed numerous folks doing the same thing. I continue to ride my bike and enjoy it. And despite the fact that folks are predicting a guilty finding for Armstrong would “destroy cycling” my bike will still pedal and roll regardless of a USADA decision regarding Armstrong.

So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll let June suck for Bruyneel and Armstrong. Come July, I’ll be keeping track of the Tour de France and enjoying it. Bike Month is irrelevant to me, honestly. I don’t have a bike month, or even a bike year. I have a bike life, and plan to until I can’t turn my pedals any more.

Top 7 best bike music videos

There is a rather large and growing collection of humours, self-deprecating, but often true songs and music videos that folks have made regarding cycling.  Usually these poke fun at some of the more eccentric aspects and stereotypes of the cycling culture.  I thought it was about time someone put together a list of the best of them. Of course, this is just my opinion, and is therefore fact…



Number 7: Bike-Friendly City (funny song about bike safety in Toronto)

Obstensibly a bicycle saftey piece, but we all know that no one listens if we talk about bike safety seriously.  So lets try it with a little humor:

Number 6: SRSLY

Just try and make it past the Cliff Shot slurping scene in the beginning…

Number 5: Le Velo

The first entry from Robin Moore – the only guy to make my list not once, but three times.  This video probably would have ranked higher if he had chosen a better wine.

Number 4: Get Dirty

After poking fun at the euro crowd, Robin Moore goes after the MTB set.  Truth be told though, you may want to hold off on watching this one until you’ve watched the rest of the list.  There are references in this video to the number one video on our list.


Number 3: All You Haters ( Suck …censored… )

Something about making fun of anger is hysterically funny to me – and a heck of a lot better than actually being angry.  Warning – if you would be offended on a Juniur High School camups by the language, you should skip this video…


Number 2: Motherf<censored>ing Bike

Yes.  They swear.  A lot. But again, making fun of anger is just too enjoyable. Yes – this is the genesis of that famous “Tour de F*** You.”  Nearly every stereotype of urban cycling culture is in here.  In truth it was a very hard decision to decide the actual order of the top two.  Ultimately it came down to seniority alone.

Ooooh – and it is in HD!


Numero Uno: Performance

For me this is the first and still best bicycle music video.  The third entry from Robin Moore.  If you do nothing else in your cycling life, get this stuck in your head on your next ride.  Eminently quotable – ‘Cause its all about performance…



And speaking of quotable, one final thought: