Well here it is, the Matchless. I've been meaning to write something for and about my dad for months now, but I guess I'll start with this and let the stream of consciousness flow from there.
As long as I can remember, my dad talked about the Matchless he owned before I was born. In all my years, I never saw one. Not on TV, not in a book, not on the Internet. I came to think they were like the Pegasus: a mythical creature. Add in a touch of wistful longing in his eyes and voice every time he talked about his bike, and you've got an instant legend. It probably explains my love of motorcycles to this day (well, DUH!).
The day after my dad died, I was coming out of Woodlands Market and crossing the parking lot when I spied this immaculate Matchless. I was… thunderstruck. I stopped dead in the middle of the lane when I realized what I was looking at. All the hairs on my body were standing at attention and my nerves started jangling so hard I had a dull roar in my ears. (No, it wasn't the Matchless; he hadn't started the engine yet.) My spine felt all… fuzzy. I somehow managed to get my feet moving towards the bike and stammer something to the rider. For the life of me, I can't remember exactly what I said. I know there was a compliment, a mention of my dad riding one, a question of year, and possible something about a unicorn or pegasus… it's all a bit muddled now, like the echo of a dream. I don't remember the riders name, but he had a huge and very bright white smile against his dark skin. I don't remember his face, but his smile I'll never forget. He let me take a picture (damn cheap shit cameraphone!) and he told me it was a '68 (or did he say '69? Ah yes… jangled nerves speaking…)
I watched him for a few minutes as he suited up, started the bike and rode it away. A profound sadness crept up behind me and ripped something out of my gut as he disappeared down the road. The taste of red wine drunk with a penny under the tongue was lingering in my throat and I had to swallow hard to push down the lump of grief that was threatening to choke me. Unbidden, tears stained my cheeks and for some reason, I let them stay there, as my face suddenly felt like I'd been standing in front of a blast furnace with the door open. It was one of the few times I've ever let the tears just chill there: it felt like a silent salute to Steve. I would never again talk to him about motorcycles, the adventures he'd had on his Lambretta while riding around Europe in the 60's, never more hear the stories of the Sunday Morning Ride, never hear the stories of his adventures with Crazy Mac. It HURT and that was new. It was real pain I felt in my chest… I was more raw and more alive than I'd ever remembered feeling before.
Just then a crow alighted on top of the Woodlands Market sign. Now, crows are not an uncommon sight in Marin. They are everywhere, but they are rarely alone, at least in my observations. This was a lone crow, It was just above my line of sight and it's timing was uncanny. Crows (and Ravens) are often associated with death. They are carrion eaters AND they're all black. That's enough for most people. Crows to me though are fascinating birds, and they are evidently connected spiritually with my family. Without going into a pedantic level of detail, suffice to say that my late uncle Jimmy had the crow as his spirit animal, and he's visited his children, myself and my brother in crow form since his death in 2006. The arrival of the crow was like the point below the exclamation. Unlikely as it seems, another layer of gooseflesh rose up under the first: I was starting to feel like a frightened porcupine. I got in my truck and wept for a few minutes and after that… after that I really don't remember much of the rest of that day. I made it home without further incident, and life went on.
I've yet to see another Matchless since that day, or even the same one. Was it a ghost? Are shitty low res cameraphones capable of picking up ghosts? Maybe…
Steven English Hopper, RIP
9.20.1942 - 8.06.2007 (64 yrs, 10 mo, 17 days)
Gone, but never forgotten.
Well here it is, the Matchless. I've been meaning to write something for and about my dad for months now, but I guess I'll start with this and let the stream of consciousness flow from there.
After watching "The Story of Stuff", I've been thinking a lot about it. Some synaptic bridge suddenly connected in my brain the other day, and I remembered reading about the former owner of Esprit moving to Chile, buying up 700,000 acres of rainforest land and turning it into a sanctuary. While I was trying to find the article on-line (please do read it, it's well written and will make you want to go there!), I stumbled on THIS article about the hidden dangers of electronic-recycling. As the Story of Stuff mentions, consumerism is creating the problem. If manufacturers designed their products to be upgraded (think about computers, cell phones, ipods to start) instead of being tossed out or recycled, it would start to attack the problem. Then make them responsible for properly dealing with the e-waste on the back end, and you can be sure they'd be designing products that were far more robust and durable (not to mention a lot "greener"). The "hidden cost" of our consumerist behavior is not being transmitted to us in those insanely cheap prices we're used to a the register, and it fosters an environment where the impulse buy is king. In the meantime, writing to the companies themselves and asking for the change is a good idea. Apple, IBM, Intel, Dell, HP would be good places to start. I have been guilty of wanting the "new thing", which is currently the iPhone. I've managed to retain my 3rd Gen iPod and I've already changed out the battery on it myself. It would be great to have the same software that the newest generation iPods have, but that's not an option that Apple made possible: poor thinking IMO. I'm kind of disgusted by the fact that I'm always confronted by the "new thing" and that I somehow unconsciously developed a predication towards viewing the "old thing" as inferior; according to the Story of Stuff, that's exactly the mindset that the consumer chain wants me to have. I have to actively fight that mindset, and I'm getting better at it, but it's still a daily struggle.
Ok.. so this entry is slightly random, but I'm just freaking out, because it's something that's new to me, but not to the scientific community. Where the hell have I been?
Electroechanical Batteries have been in development at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories for over 20 years. According to THIS paper, they hold amazing potential for energy storage. The thing I think they're missing is the potential for vehicles that are much lighter than a car. Anyone who reads this blog knows what's coming next: electric bicycle power. If you could build a electromechanical battery using something like this Halbach array (or maybe something a little smaller) and keep the weight of the other components to a minimum, you could smash the weight/power problem that I have on my human electric hybrid SuperVato. Consider this: my current battery weighs about 26 lbs including the enclosure. The Gaussboys Halbach array weighs 32 oz. Two of em spinning in opposite directions would cancel the gyroscopic effect of the bike, and assuming they were mounted on limited excursion gimbals they could resist the braking and acceleration forces created by the bicycle. I'm guessing you could build a high capacity system for less than 10 pounds. I'm planning on going back to school in the fall for engineering, and now I think I know why: I want to build a Human/Electromechanical Battery Powered Bicycle. Maybe I've just figured out my dissertation thesis… wouldn't that be convenient?
Critics mock the electric bicycle because the products are often poorly made and poorly thought out. Electrical storage has been the Achilles heel of the electrical bicycle, but the Electromechanical Battery would have huge advantages over even the newest Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer batteries because of the longevity and capacity. The weight differential between Electromechanical & Lithium Ion/Polymer appears to be fairly close. Electromechanical batteries would obviously cost more in the prototype phase, but because they appear to be pretty simple, I think the costs could come down significantly if production could be increased. I'd like to see a product like this made as "greenly" and equitably as possible, i.e living wages for the production crew, non toxic assembly techniques performed in energy efficient production facilities.
I can't be the first person to think of this…can I??? The designers and engineers want to make money from this by putting it in hybrid cars and in municipal systems. Most of the money for the project at Lawrence Livermore has come from corporate sponsors, so that's no surprise. That's nice for the car manufacturers, but cars still don't make a lot of sense a lot of the time, even if they DID use less fossil fuel. I'm all for putting this in municipal systems. It can't be any more dangerous than Nuclear power right?
CURRENT MUSIC: Revolting Cocks, Cocked and Loaded
I'm an idiot. Officially. Up until today I had the words "electromechanical" and "electromagnetic" used interchangeably in this article. Not ok, since they are completely different ideas! My apologies: publishing blog entries after you've been up late writing them isn't always a good idea. ESPECIALLY when you have proofread them at least twice. *Forehead Slap*
My friends Nikki & Merritt are putting on another Prepare For the Playa event, this time in celebration of the holidays. I told them I'd flog their event on my blog, so take a minute to check it out. If you're a bay area resident and are so inclined, check out the event this Sunday (TOMORROW!) in SF. Here's the spiel…
Prepare for the Playa -
Don't get distracted by the sugar plums dancing in your head - The holidays are upon us and the quest for creative and unusual gifts has begun!
Need a special gift for that friend, campmate or significant other? Is a watch, sweater or set of encyclopedias just too boring, normal and mundane for your Burner friends?
Looking for an unusual, creative and furry gifts for those folks on your holiday shopping list???
Then look no further! Prepare for the Playa returns for the Holi-Daze with an eclectic mix of vendors with unique gift items that are sure to please every character on your holiday shopping list!
Live Music, Free Entrance and Free Parking!
ALL AGES WELCOME!
(same location as BM Decompression 2007)
650 Indiana Street, San Francisco
Lots of FREE parking and we never charge an entrance fee!
Sunday - December 16th, 2007
Buy Local this Holiday season!
God dammit. I just watched The Story of Stuff and I started crying. I had to stifle my sobs actually, because my son is sleeping, and it would suck to have to put him back to sleep all the while trying to explain to a toddler that my generation and the several preceding it have done a horrendously bad job of taking care of our planet and our country. Do I weep for what is lost to everyone or just what *I* might never experience? Selfish or Selfless? Maybe a little of both. As a revelatory slap-in-the-face, The Story of Stuff made me feel pretty bad about the world my son has to inherit at the moment. I hope to be able say someday that I played some small part in making some changes for the better. Rationally, I know I didn't cause the problem by myself, but I know I've been a part of the problem more than once. This little 20 minute video is kind of like taking the red pill, if you'll excuse the pop-culture reference.
"What does that mean?" "It means fasten your seat belt Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye."
The Wachowski Brothers
Please please please, if you click on only ONE link from my site, let it be to the THE STORY OF STUFF. Wait, have I said that before? I think I might have. It gets hard to recall all your entries when you start approaching 200 blog entries.
I found another link that was moving to me as well this evening: The Road Witch project is very cool, and I think very effective. I believe some of their inspiration came from the folks at Creative Communities, and in particular, I was rather inspired by the 7 Principles upon which a Positive Social Virus is propagated. I hope to propagate some of the traffic calming techniques in my own neighborhood.
Today's post was written by a friend of a friend. His name is Alex Sebastian and he wrote this little gem a number of years ago when he was bicycle commuting every day. Alas, his job as a building contractor largely precludes riding a bicycle to work, but the bicycle is still in his heart. He graciously allowed me to post this: Thanks Alex! For many of us who commute to a fixed location for employment, riding a bicycle IS possible, so please consider it. You children (if you have them) will thank you someday for your forethought, and if you don't have any, I'll make sure mine thank you someday! :)
The Bicycle Manifesto
by the everyday cyclist
When was the last time you…
…went a week without honking or swearing?
…greeted with a smile, wave or "hello" your fellow citizens on the sidewalk?
…felt freedom from gas stations and car garages?
…arrived to your destination refreshed, alert and with a clear head?
…were never concerned with parking?
…arrived to your destination by a trail, alley, sidewalk or path?
…found a cure for car sickness?
…remembered the first thing you learned to steer?
…opened your window at home and heard silence?
…felt like you were in shape?
…didn't experience the inconvenience of losing keys or locking yourself out of your mode of transportation?
…thought you were flying?
…had 15% more income because you didn't spend it on your mode of transportation?
…sat in a town square?
…by-passed grid-lock traffic like it didn't exist?
…felt the wind through your hair?
…you were never late because your mode of transportation never broke down?
…felt self-sufficient because you maintained your own mode of transportation?
…asked yourself what the real reasons - not the reasons the newspapers and television claim as truth - are that Critical Mass attracts so many riders?
…noticed which streets are lined with trees?
…took your family on a journey through the city?
…lived in a neighborhood that had everything you needed within a half mile?
…inhaled a deep breath of fresh, unpolluted air?
…remembered that which you've always been told you'd never forget how to ride?
If it has been a while since any of these things have happened to you,
then when was the last time you asked yourself…why?
I couldn't have said it better, so I won't even try. READ IT, believe it, make it happen.
Write to your senators , representatives and the president as well. Tell them you want immediate and complete withdrawal from Iraq. No fucking excuses. This it OUR country, OUR money, and our elected officials are DUTY bound to uphold the will of the people. Let them know how you feel! Keep ratcheting up the pressure folks, that's the only way to get through.
You might include a sentence to the effect of "I will not be voting for you, no matter what other issues upon which we are in agreement if you vote to continue the occupation of Iraq & Afghanistan". Of course, there are those of you out there (though more likely than not, most of my readership is NOT in support of the current occupation) who may think we should continue occupying Iraq & Afghanistan. My answer to you? STICK A FORK IN ME, BECAUSE I'M PRETTY SURE I'M DONE PAYING FOR IT!
BTW, some of you may feel I've been a bit vehement in my protestations lately. I guess I'm just feeling a bit raw on these issues: I'm fed up with the bullshit and I'm tired of mincing words. I have a young son, and I see the world around us deteriorating and I can't stand still and watch it without a fight. Whether the rants on my blog make any difference is dubious, but I know I reach a wider audience here, and I know that while I'm just one of many voices calling for change, every voice counts. If you care, lend your voice. Regret sucks and feeling like you didn't make an effort to change something that you could have is one of the worst feelings of all.
This morning, I was listening to KQED's Forum and hearing a republican presidential candidate by the name of Alan Keyes talk about why he was a good guy for the job. I don't agree with him on most of the issues, but he is extremely articulate and seems to be highly knowledgeable about constitutional law. Many of the people calling up resorted to derisive epithets, while Keyes managed his usual logical cold composure. In addition, callers and e-mailers volunteered no direct rebuttals to Alan's points. Too much passion, not enough logic; not a good way to counterpoint someone like Alan Keyes. Score one for Alan. I won't be voting for him, (and neither will the Republican party as far as I can ascertain), but he's far more tolerable than the shrub; he's not a bumbling oaf. More importantly, he brings a degree of sophistication and tact to the table that the next Republican I shall discuss lacks almost entirely.
Tonight, I'm reading through some comments on Flickr of one of my contacts and I click through to a blog link for Bike Satan. I started reading his blog a little, and then I came to THIS article. Ugh. It proves to me once again that most republicans aren't conservative AT ALL in the "conserve" sense of the word. They're radical and ultra-non-conservative. Their argument on the energy bill is that riding a bicycle instead of driving a car was a naive way to reduce our need for oil; What's naive about it? Is it naive to think that American's are unwilling to sacrifice their ridiculous amount of personal car fuel consumption for any reason? Maybe it's naive because the neo-con agenda of dumbing down and underfunding education has created dumber and more apathetic children, children who will grow up to be undereducated adults who are incapable of recognizing self-defeating legislation when they see it? Naive in thinking that Americans aren't willing to sacrifice a damn thing for the good of their own country and the planet on which they reside? Are the Republicans being divisive? You bet. Check. After all, divide & conquer is one of the oldest tricks in the book and old tricks are one of the few things that politicians do well. .
If you look at Patrick McHenry's stance on Gas Prices & Energy Policy , you'll see that he thinks we should drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Ok, Strike 2. Then when you read through his site, you see that he makes NO mention of reducing usage by JUST USING LESS. No, he pursues mining the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, replacing oil with *sigh* "Clean Coal" or Nuclear Power plants. There's a telling formula here (though Congressman McHenry is hardly alone, so don't think I'm picking on him alone): each of the solutions that he's proposing benefit a small group of very rich people: mainly those who are heavily tied to the oil/coal industry or companies like Haliburton (who would likely get another no-bid contract awarded to them if the U.S approved building a Nuclear Power Plant). Here's a tip little sycophant; over 40% of all trips taken in the U.S are under 2 miles. If you encouraged your constituency to do what you so superciliously mock (Ride a Bike), then you could reduce the number of car trips, traffic congestion, childhood and adult obesity and insurance costs for your district by a significant amount… then perhaps you would actually be LEADING instead of DIVIDING! I think it's telling that this guy has been a lackey of the George W. Bush campaign juggernaut, well known to be old school puppets for the Oil Industry (both in the U.S and in the Middle East), The Industrial Military Complex (think Haliburton et al.) , and allegedly, even the Nazis.
Do you KNOW how little 1 million dollars is when it comes to the federal budget? These idiots are desperate if they're clutching at this kind of small peanuts as reason's not to participate in legislation that is supposed to help people become less dependent on foreign oil, and oil altogether. Why the nitpicking? Because most of them are in the pocket of Big Oil. How much money HAS Congressman McHenry received from Big Oil? Anyone? Bueller?
The fact of the matter is, Congress gives HUNDREDS of times more in tax-payer "subsidies" to the oil companies to pay for "oil exploration", at the same time they're turning in RECORD profits. So OUR TAX DOLLARS ARE LINING THE POCKETS OF THE ALREADY UBER RICH OIL COMPANIES; DOES THAT MAKE YOU MAD? IT MAKES ME FUCKING FURIOUS! AUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!! *head explodes briefly*
Riding a bicycle instead of driving your car is honestly one of the most "CONSERVative" things you can do. The only thing better is to move close to your work and recreation so you don't have to drive at all, but with Bay Area housing costs, this is impossible for a lot of people. There are other things you can do to reduce your dependence on foreign oil: buying local produce, using a locally owned grocery store, walking, riding a bike, using public transportation, carpooling, car-sharing… you know, things we USED to do all the time in this country before we "realized" that everything had to center around the INSTANT gratification of our ability to be able to drive and go anywhere at any time. The seemingly simple act of driving your car or SUV 3 miles to the grocery store to buy a bag of groceries illustrates the fact that we are completely disconnected from what a gallon of fuel represents. The amount of energy required to move a 1500 lb vehicle (and that's about the weight of an older Honda Civic) in order to obtain a 15lb bag of groceries is magnitudes of order higher when compared to a bicycle. With traffic and parking issues, the time argument is often a wash on short trips, but even if the bike is slower, you are getting exercise while doing your errands, and that cuts down on your insurance costs (increased health), stress levels (assuming you don't have to ride on the HIGHWAY to get to the grocery store) and the time you need to spend at the "gym" in order to stay in shape. In fact, the bike (if considered in the total time schedule) often times ends up being faster, but don't take my word for it, ask the Dutch! As far as energy expenditure, here's a basic computation of human vs. car, though there's a lot of variables that are assumed. As they say, YMMV.
Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I'm often frustrated at the frenetic pace we continue to live our lives at. It's EXPECTED that everything has to get done, right now, right away. Yesterday even. We're decreasingly patient with any delay what-so-ever. Bicycling to me is a good compromise between speed and efficiency, and it's far more pleasant, interactive and healthy than driving a car. Try it and you'll see what I mean. Even when the weather isn't that nice, every time I take the bike, I never regret it. Oh, and don't even TRY to play the safety card with me: bicycling is statistically one of the safest forms of transportation known to man, and evidently, it's even safer than walking!
Anyone notice that in the "war on terror", our elected officials have not asked Americans to sacrifice anything personal (like driving everywhere) but asked us to surrender our freedom, our civil rights and our constitutional rights? In WWI and WWII, Americans were asked to ration, to conserve, to sacrifice. Now the politicians have taken our freedom via the (Patriot Act I & II), our money (who the hell do you think is paying for this war anyway?) and our future (um, what's the world outlook right now? How do we fit in? We continue to make enemies and drive away our former allies…), they've given us "tax cuts" and told us everything is better… but anyone paying any attention at all knows that we're further in debt than we've ever been, our dependence on foreign oil has never been greater and the world situation is less stable than when we started... but that "million" dollars spent on increasing the number of American citizens riding bikes instead of cars is a waste of money. What a crock of shit. I think I'll go for a bicycle ride…
CURRENT MUSIC: Black Sabbath, The Mob Rules, Voodoo
This is a just a short entry to alert my scarce readership of a humorous (but illustrative) list.
18 Ways To Know That You Have Bicycle Culture is a little funny article (firmly tongue in cheek) over at Cycleliciousness that was linked to by Todd at Clever Cycles. Although he's joking, you'd likely experience many of the things on the list if you live lived in Amsterdam, Copenhagen or several other cities in Europe. Sadly, we're nowhere close to this anywhere in Cali, though SF and Davis are fairly bicycle friendly cities, by American standards at least. I look forward to the day when Novato and Marin County at large has been been given the "Copenhagen Treatment".
Until then, I'll wear my dorky reflectorized helmet, my reflective gear and my flash flags. I don't wear "cycle gear" anymore, and I have my Azor Oma to thank for that!
CURRENT MUSIC: Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, Walk Away
I had a absolutely wonderful evening last night, start to finish. It's not that I don't normally have nice evenings, this one was just a standout for the sequence of enjoyable experiences and moments.
My former sister-in-law, Charity (of Hollywood in Heels fame) was in town so I met her for preprandial aperitifs at her new inamorato's dwelling. A gorgeous place, very classy and with a great view of SF (how can you not when you're on top of Potrero Hill?). The conversation was lively and spirited, and the L.A folks held none of the characteristic snobbery that I've come to associate with "L.A People". All very genuine, nice people, people I'd be glad to hang with again. See, my wife is a fan of celebrity news, (though I am not) and I get a lot of the gossip by proxy, like it or not. If the gossip rags and websites are all you read, you get the impression that everyone in Hollywood is a prima donna or a self-important prick. Charity and her cadre of friends are slowly changing my mind, but I should have known they would: Charity doesn't waste her time with the other kind of ilk.
When the party was assembled, we headed off to Oakland to dine at À Côté. My brother and his lovely fiancee joined us there and we made a cozy party of ten. The food at À Côté IS all that it's cracked up to be. The clams in particular got a lot of attention from me, and they really are ALL THAT. If you like clams and you go to À Côté, be sure to get them. There were several notables in attendance from Charity's blog: The Man in Black and Strawberry Kisses. It was nice to finally put faces to a fictional names. While still in SF, we had been introduced with real names, and I didn't make the connection until dinner. Oh well, it's not the last time I'll call myself a simpleton. My only complaint (and it's a minor one) was that the large tables at À Côté are linear, meaning if you're sitting at one end (I was), having a conversation with anyone more than 2 seats away is near impossible. Round tables work better, not only for conversation but for sharing food as well. There was no lack of conversation at our end of the table, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. A shout out to my brother: thanks for keeping me laughing most of the night! You were at the top of your comedic game saturday night…
I had intended to leave dinner early to head to see Fishbone, but I stayed until it was over, as I was having so much fun and it seemed lame to leave such good food and good conversation/people. The DJ Smoke/Wisdom/Fishbone show was supposed to start at 9:00, so I figured that I'd skip the opening band and arrive at 10-10:15 and be there in time to see Fishbone. Our food at À Côté didn't even start arriving until ~9:45 so there was no way I was going to make the (imagined) 10:30 Fishbone start time. I'd let go of my expectation of punctilious arrival sometime around when the food arrived (I was starving at this point, as my last meal had been about 10 hours previous). When we finally rolled out (everyone else was headed to see The Lovemakers at the Uptown), I figured I'd catch what was left of the set. To my great surprise and ecstatic glee, my 11:40 arrival time had me 20 minutes ahead of Fishbone's start time. Jubilant glee ensued, and I NEARLY did the yippy skippy in honor of Charity. Somehow, I managed to contain that energy for the show.
Shattuck Down Low reminds me of the cousin who lives in his parents basement, only waaaaay bigger and with a bar on either side. There's tons of couches and seating, and the atmosphere is far more relaxed that it is at most Marin bars/clubs. I grabbed 2 drinks at the bar (almost no wait: bonus points!) and headed for the stage. When Fishbone came on, the cloud of uber pungent herb smoke that erupted from the crowd was enormous, and more than sufficient to put a permagrin on my face. The set was awesome! Angelo did at least 4 crowd surf sessions, but Dre Gripson kicked it off by doing the first one. In all the years I've been going to concerts (yes, I missed the legendary first Lolapalooza tour), I've never experienced the BAND crowd surfing, though I'd seen it done by fans. It's a different beast all together when the band does it, because though they may get close, they almost never crash to the ground. Angelo even managed to walk on the LOW ceiling several times. The energy in the crowd was electric and contagious and I rode the energy wave the whole night. I neglected to write down a set-list, but hopefully someone will put one up at fishbonelive.org. They played a lot of the hits (Bonin in the Boneyard, Party at Ground Zero, Ma & Pa, Everyday Sunshine, Lyin' Ass Bitch) and a bunch from the new album (Date Rape, Behind Closed Doors, Party With Saddam, Skank 'N Go Nuts, Let Dem Ho's Fight, Jack Ass Brigade). Bottom line: if you like Fishbone even a LITTLE bit from their albums, go see them live and you'll be sure to walk away with a permagrin: I know I did. One final note: bring your earplugs, it's loud (that's how Rock n Roll's supposed to be done!).
I feel sick, I might have to take a shower. One of england's greatest rock bands has had it's music defiled by a clothing retailer. While mowing my lawn & listening to marin county's trendiest radio station Alice 97.3 (one of the only ones that comes in clear on my radio earmuffs) , I heard an ad for a Mervin's after-thanksgiving sale and something was nagging at me (and no, it wasn't christmas shopping). Realization dawned on me in horror: they were using a dumbed down elevator version of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen. Freddie is likely rolling over in his grave everytime this ad gets played. The very essence of this track is total anathema to the consumerist agenda being persued in the ad: it makes me ill. I'm not a regular customer of Mervins, but you can be SURE that I won't shop there now: no company with the desire to defile quality music into a cheap commodity deserves my ( or your) business. Fuck you Mervins, you now have an official place in the newly named Houbliette (the Hopper Oubliette). The idea for my own personal Oubliette started years ago, but it took this distasteful incident for me to finally create it. Go to your hole and stay there Mervins!
OMG… this could possibly be the funniest butt related story I've ever read, and it makes it even better that it's on a bicycling forum. My cousin in England passed this on to me via FaceBook (thanks Magnus!) and I had to share it. You're looking for the entries by Blu-tone
This really makes me want to start eating lots and lots more fiber: Endoscopy sounds like tons-o-fun, but I'm hoping to delay it as long as possible. I'm 32... how long does that give me?
Wow.. a plethora of new entries!
The Two Mile Challenge is something I found linked through Kent Peterson's Blog and I think it's just so damn cool to get people out of their cars for that 40% (40% of trips by automobile in the US are 2 miles or under from our homes). I realized most of my trips by bicycle are beyond this 2 mile range, but then again, the walkability factor of my neighborhood isn't rated all that high.
Get crackin! If you don't have a bike, check your local Craigslist to find lots of deals. Don't buy a BSO if you can avoid it! Reuse reuse reuse! If you live in Marin County, you can visit The Recyclery and your $$$'s will help Trips for Kids. It's all good!
I hadn't checked in on one of my favorite bloggers in some time, but I've been a fan of his blog now for several years. His daughter had some choice observations that he shared with us in his Cars, Cocks & Hair Replacement… entry. It got me thinking: when was the last time YOU saw a bicycle ad on TV? I honestly can't remember when it was, and that frankly bothers me. I see bicycles all the time b/c I look at them on the internet, I ride one daily and I look for other cyclists on the street, but I know that I'm somewhat of an anomaly in terms of the general US population. Other than the occasional token comment by our elected officials about riding bikes, the push to get out of our cars as a solution to foreign oil dependence is non-existant. Most folks don't even consider the bicycle as a viable alternative to the car. It IS, but in order to make this realization, you have to take a cold hard look at the whole picture.
So... I invite your comments: when was the last time YOU saw a bicycle ad on TV? Have you EVER seen one?
So I will finally break the silence... it's been several months since I've posted, and I know it's likely I've lost my entire readership.. all 4 of you.
It's been a crazy few months, and though I haven't been writing, I've been doing a lot of thinking, analyzing and processing. A short recap: My father died on August 8th, and I have a pretty long blog entry coming up about that. I went to Burning Man, but not by bike, and that will take up another entry. Just this last week I went to Seattle & Portland and picked up a bicycle AND a vehicle. Today's entry will center around an experience I had while out riding my new bike... away we go.
I rode my son to school on the new Azor Oma this morning, a whole new bicycling experience. The Dutch make smart, comfortable and highly sociable bicycles. The sociable part will come in to play in just a minute. I noticed quite a few double takes from people driving in cars and from a from pedestrians as well. The Azor Oma is a beautiful bike and reminds most baby-boomers of bicycles they grew up riding. I bought one because I wanted a simple, durable, comfortable, LOW-maintenance bicycle that I could do nearly everything on. For the things it CAN'T do, I still have SuperVato, but I've spent a LOT of money trying to turn SuperVato into what the Oma does right out the gate. Ok.. back to the story. Upon leaving my son's preschool, I took a "shortcut", otherwise known as a multi-use pathway the bisects the neighborhood where my son goes to preschool. Unfortunately, the city of Novato has neglected to care for one particular section of this path. On either side of the concrete is a NASTY infestation of Goatheads, aka. PunctureVine or Tribulus terrestris L. However you refer to them, they are a tire killer. There is no direct shot at the path via an ADA curb drop, so when I hopped up the curb, I veered ever so slightly off the paved path and RIGHT through the oh-so-dry and thorny thorn drifts that cling to the edge of the path. My front and rear tires were immediately FILLED with goatheads. I got off almost immediately, but the damage was done almost immediately. I started pulling them out of the front tire, managing not to snap off many of the thorns in the rubber, but upon removal of the final goathead thorn in the front wheel, the familiar rush of air indicated that one had made it through. Just then 3 people on foot passed me, and the male of the group felt motivated to remark that I shouldn't pull the goatheads out as it would just flat the tire and that I was going to need a new tire likely. Great... thanks for the help buddy. I stood up and debated what to do. Obviously, riding home was out of the question: it was nearly 5 miles home and I had no pump, no patch kit, no spare tubes. Mind you, I normally travel with a full tool kit, but the downside to the Oma is that servicing the tubes/tires is a lengthy process and it usually requires tools (of which I had none on me, not yet having had time to put together a good tool kit for this bike). Normally one doesn't need to patch the tubes very often, as the stock tires are very nice Schwalbe Marathons and they have a decent amount of puncture resistance while being pretty low on the rolling resistance. They are NOT however the Marathon Plus tires and I will likely be putting one of those (along with some slime filled tubes) on the rear of the bike to ensure I never have this problem again.
While staring at the rear tire and musing over how I was going to get home, a woman and her dog came by. She stopped to talk to me as it appeared that my child payload had disappeared. It turns out she had seem me riding with my son on the back and had been charmed by the sight of a man on a "woman's" dutch city bike hauling his kid to school (daycare). We ended up talking about what had just happened, and she offered to give me a ride home. I was frankly stunned: in my experience, people are rarely that helpful to strangers. The only place I've experienced regular random kindness is at Burning Man.
She told me she'd be right back but it didn't occur to me to ask what kind of vehicle she had until she had been gone for nearly 2 minutes: DUH! So I waited around, and she came back in a Ford Expedition. She offered to put the bike in the back, but I declined, as I didn't want to mess up her seats, and the neighborhood is pretty safe. I locked the bike to a streetlight pole and hopped in her car. It turns our she's a dental assistant for a local dental surgeon who had been recommended to me when I had my wisdom teeth removed, but I had ended up using another surgeon. We chatted about being parents, bicycles vs. cars and climate change, as well as being Novato-ites. I had introduced myself right after she offered to give me a ride home, but I'm terrible at remembering names, so I promptly forgot. If I remembered her name, I would have mentioned it, but alas, I'll have to go by the dentists office and thank her again.
Mind you, I'm supposed to be picking up my cousin at the Oakland train station this particular morning, so I'm insanely late now.
After retrieving my pickup truck from my house, I headed back, picked up the bike and headed straight for Oakland. Finally found my cousin (she was sleeping in the train station), got her back to Mill Valley and headed home to pick up my son.
Before picking him up, the saga of tracking down the city department responsible for maintaining the right of way that caused me so much trouble began. I started at the fire dept, as one of the only ways of destroying puncturevine thorn pods is fire (well, you can remove them, but it's hard: you have to scrape up all the dirt with them too, or you'll miss a bunch). They pointed me to the public works building next door. Talked to a nice woman there who was sympathetic but she pointed me to the public works work yard. Then off to pick up my son and then back to the corp yard to talk to the clerk. She took down a report (she seemed rather harried) but suggested that I contact the supervisor by phone, as he wasn't available then. I left him a message when I got home, but I still haven't heard back from him. Hopefully Novato will clean up this easement: it's a minefield.
Later that night when I sat down to fix the tires/tubes it took several HOURS to get all the thorns out of the tires, patch the tubes (I simply replaced the rear one so there was no question as to whether there were any problems with it) and put the bike back together. The process of removing the rear wheel was very laborious: not something that I want to do on a regular basis. Remove brake bolts, partially remove chaincase, disconnect shifter cable, remove wheel, repair tire/tube, then put it all back. Putting it all back proved trickier than I had thought: PITA for sure.
I don't post a lot about Burning Man: there is a plethora of stuff out there on the web, not the least being the Burning Man site itself. I've posted a couple of times about my experiences in BRC and some of you who know me have received personal missives about my experiences there. Truth be told, Burning Man sunk it's hooks into me in 1999 and hasn't given an inch of ground since.
Today I was checking out the new city map and noticed THIS on the front page. It's very nicely written, and nearly inspired me to tears. Check it out.
My brothers (both genetically and fictively) and I went to see the Giants get slaughtered by the Dodgers on Friday night. Several rows in front of us was a female dodgers fan that was holding a sign that said "Lose Seal" and had a Lou Seal stuffed seal toy in a Dodgers jersey. The REAL Lou Seal spotted it and retaliated. WATCH the video that my friend Merritt got. When Lou Seal came back for a second round, another very drunken and beligerent Dodgers fan tried to intervene and pushed Lou Seal over the seats, and got himself ejected from the park. The whole thing was pretty damn funny. Take a look!
Now they've done it. I was writing an email in the kitchen and my son was in the other room watching Nick Jr. I heard the familiar strains of Parliament's "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)". Something registered in my brain weird: what the hell was Parliament doing on Nick Jr.? I ran into the room to see the end of a Honda ad… for their minivan the Odyssey. The horror! I guess everyone's got their price. I don't know who retained creative control of Parliament's library of tunes, but if it was the media savvy George Clinton, he no doubt sold the rights to use the song to Honda... but kee-rist, did they HAVE to use it for a Minivan? Couldn't they have used it for a slick fast little sportscar (not that it's much better really)? I'm cringing just thinking about it. They were trying to dress this cookie-cutter symbol of suburban sprawl and car culture with psychadelic colors surrounding the car and suggestive shrooms growing all around it, but the fact of the matter is that most people buying this car don't do shrooms, don't listen to psychadelica and don't pimp their minivans out as 70's style mobile love nests. What is Honda thinking? They ruined a perfectly awesome example of funk for a gas-guzzling shitbox. It's a crying shame and the world is a duller place for it. Sorry for the negativity, but this just made me die a little inside.
CURRENT MUSIC: Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle, Who Am I (What's My Name?)
I know there's a few of you out there who read my blog because there's a little meter that tells me so. Some of you might even enjoy riding a bike. Unless this is the first entry you've ever read here, you know that I have a love affair with bicycles. Well, I don't handle a candle to the guys who are currently riding the Great Divide Race (known in Endurance Racing circles as the GDR). This group of guys (the field is all male this year) has been winnowed down throughout the race due to equipment failure, physical injury and pure fatigue. The goal for most of the racers is finishing, with winning being a far second. I was rooting very hard for Dave Nice, but his race is now over, mostly due to a painful foot injury that wouldn't heal. Jay Petervary. is the current leader and he's absolutely flying. Apparently, He's currently in 1st place though he's being chased by 3rd time GDR Rider Matthew Lee (who also won the last 2 GDR's). When you start looking the pictures, it becomes obvious that these guys are doing the ride of a lifetime. I'm green with envy and at the same time I wouldn't trade places with any of these guys for all the tea in china.
Here's a chart of who is where: TopoFusion GDR Coverage
Podcasts from MTBCast.com
And the discussion at MTBR...
I'm hoping this event doesn't blow up, despite the fact that I'm flogging it here; in spirit it's a small unorganized informal race. While tt IS a big deal to the people riding it and those who appreciate it for what it is, it's not for those who would turn it into a TDF (Tour De France). They can all ride off a cliff...
This is going to be brief, but it made me laugh and I haven't posted in weeks (DOH!).
According to the Dictionary over at Luciferous Logolepsy, a Rantallion is:
n. - one whose scrotum is longer than his penis
Wow. The english language is truly colorful: there's a whole DICTIONARY of Vulgar Terms. It was compiled in 1811, and that was when "swearing like a sailor" actually meant something. I'm always glad to add another word to my arsenal, especially in the Veiled Insult category.
How did I find this word you ask? Well… I was looking for another word, one that means "out of touch", though the reverse dictionary at OneLook didn't help me this time. I think it starts with an "R", but I can't… quite… remember… what it is. I love having the perfect word, so I spend a lot of time looking at dictionaries, and the online ones are so much faster to use.
Well, I had my first real equipment breakage on SuperVato on 6/7/07. It was partly user error, partly bad luck. I'm not going to be able to report some of the data I had hoped to report for a while until I get the problem fixed. Here's the skinny:
YT ("yours truly" for those of you who HAVEN'T read Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash) was wearing earphones and listening to my riding mix. Normally I only do this when climbing on a MTB, but I've started doing it on the road as well: I figure "Hey, I can listen to music in a car, why can't I do it on a bike?". Well, for the most part I can, but there's one teeny problem: you don't always catch on to those little ticking sounds that indicate a problem with the bike. [ominous foreshadowing: check]
I felt more than heard the thwacking sound coming from the front wheel... I look down...DOH! The spoke that was holding the magnet for the Protege 9 sensor had snapped and the magnet was banging on the other spokes, the disc brake caliper housing... you get the picture. I came to an immediate and abrupt stop, cursing aloud. Now mind you, I'm had just shortly before picked up about 20-30lbs of Cliff Bars from the Bay Area Bike Coalition to deliver to the Marin County Bike Coalition, so I've got a loaded bike. The route is here. I noticed the spoke around mile 8.8 and stopped in front of the school. I ended up having a nice conversation with a woman named Janet about her electric scooter: it turns out she got it from the folks at Thunderstruck Motors, who were featured in THIS article in the IJ. Careful observers will note that my name comes up in the same article... about SuperVato (although it's not named as such in the article). Serendipity strikes... twice in one conversation. It turns out that Janet is a budding interior designer and is always looking for woodworkers who can build custom pieces... so I give her my Zomadic card and tell her a little about what we do. Maybe we can help each other in the future: either way the whole thing tripped me out b/c, I mean really, what are the chances? The only reason I noticed her at all in my slightly panicked/bummed state was that her scooter made ZERO engine noise… that and she stopped to talk to a fellow parent (her daughter goes to school that I stopped in front of) right in front of me, but I could have stopped 50ft earlier and never have noticed her.
After making several bail-out phone calls and realizing that no one really could help me without a big hassle to themselves, I decided (after unthreading the broken spoke from the nipple and pulling the hub side free) that I could make it home if I rode slowly. I made it home without further mishap, and the wheel is out of true, but not hitting the forks (yet). My brother has been coaxing me to do it, but now that the original wheel is temporarily out of comission, It's a good excuse to perform a wheel swap with my Heckler. I'm considering a bottle dynamo for SuperVato so I don't have to worry about batteries anymore (especially for the Burning Man trip). THIS page shows the 12v sidewall generator I'm thinking of, but at $300, it's pretty damn steep. I could go with one a SON28SB but then I would have to build a whole new wheel and I wouldn't be able to use the wheel(s) from the Heckler... penny wise, pound foolish? Hard to say here.. I really like the SON, but the bottle generator seems like an easier less intrusive solution... any one wanna chime in with opinions?
Polar F6 Data:
Exe Time this week: 6:43:12
Exe Count: 9
Calories this week: 3701
Miles Ridden: not sure…
Current Weight: 188.5 lbs
I realized that there's a "share your route" feature at Bikely, and following is a map of my proposed back route in to Burning Man this year. I'd really really rather not ride on 447 between Fernley and Black Rock City (Burning Man) and after hearing that a fellow Burner who I mentioned in an earlier post (Mike) had ridden a back-route, I decided to post this and see what kind of comments I might get from the blogosphere. Anyone out there ridden or driven this route? It appears to be a train track access road, so I would assume (not always a good thing to do!) that it's somewhat maintained considering that the tracks are used regularly and have to be maintained from time to time. All comments and info are welcome and encouraged!
Well, some of my favorite bloggers feature stats on their riding, and I've started feeling left out, so I'm starting now with a daily stat update. Yeah, it's kind of boring, but I'll try and write interesting stuff too. Maybe it should be weekly... I dunno. I have an older etrek vista GPS on the handlebars of the Heckler but just a regular old Planet Bike 9.0 cyclometer on SuperVato (well, it's got the drainbrain unit on there too and I could share THAT data as well...). On the frankenbike I've created from a Merlin Ti MTB (which belongs to my wife), there's no computer at all, so I have to guestimate and use the Google Pedometer. I've been putting a fair amount of miles on the Merlin lately and it's fun to ride such a light, fast and comfortable bike.
My fatcyclist.com jersey came today in the mail: I immediately put it on and was very pleased with the fit: I'm not officially a Clydesdale, but I'm close, and I didn't feel like a sausage in the jersey: the black and orange also matches my bike nicely. Bonus! Now if Elden would just send along the Ergon's grips I won in the "Be Nice to Dave Nice" raffle, I'll be happier than a pig in $hî† . I wore the jersey on my ride and I have no complaints: it's comfotable AND stylish! Sweet...
Eventually it'll be cool to look back and see how far I've come (or not...)
Today's Mileage: 10.2
Month to Date: unknown
Year to Date: unknown
Moving Time: 1:22
Total Ascent: 2454
Average Moving Speed: 7.4mph
Max Speed: 42.3 mph
Polar F6 Data:
Calories Burned: 1251
% Fat: 35
Heart Rate Max: 177
Heart Rate Avg: 147
Exe Time in Zone (113-188): 1:27:20
Exe Time this week: 4:02:09
Exe Count: 5
Calories this week: 2839
Current Weight: 190lbs
As some of you may know, I've been going to Burning Man for a long time. Actually, this will be year 9 for me (9 in a row to be specific). This year I will be riding my bicycle to the event. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm riding my bicycle TO the event. From Novato. This has been in planning for several months now, but I realized that I hadn't disclosed it to the greater blogosphere… so now the seceret is out. Whoops... just realized I mentioned the ride at the bottom of the Pink Lemonade entry, but some probably didn't catch that little bombshell *smirk*
I'll be riding the Adventure Cycling Association's Western Express from Vallejo to Carson City, following Ridgetop's Route from Carson City to Pyramid Lake and then making my way from the north end of Pyramid Lake to Gerlach on the local dirt roads.
The final leg is still in question: I'm plotting maps on Bikely and will be posting them for review as I haven't had a chance to travel the back roads from Pyramid Lake northbound, and don't know much about them except what I can see on bikely/google. There are several likely routes, but I only know one person who's passed this way before, and I happened to meet him on my birthday outside Cafe Gratitude in San Rafael. It was trippy. My wife and I rolled up (in her car... *grimace*) and got out and started to go inside. Outside is an bike w/ an older Xtracycle FreeRadical on it and there's this dude putting something in his Freeloaders. I of course roll up to him and strike up a conversation, excitement clearly in my voice. We ended up mentioning that I'm riding mine to Burning Man this year and his face lights up: he did it 2 years ago from Auburn, CA. We ended up talking for another 30 minutes or so, we exchanged cards and I told him I'd be contacting him. Evidently he returned from the event on the local dirt roads and didn't see another vehicle the whole time: that sounds GREAT to me! His name is Mike, and man did he make my birthday a cool one. Some believe in Synchronicity, some think it's nothing other than Abductive Reasoning or simple coincidence (or merely magical thinking), but fü©-q people, I BELIEVE! >8P±
WARNING: Shameless plug for my friends/campmates to follow. *blush*
Several of my campmates have put together 3 part series of events called Prepare For The Playa to bring together Burners Who Have Businesses to sell to Burners. DOH... that's a mouthful. Basically, the playa selects what works and doesn't work. All the vendors at this event are playa vets and most of the things they sell are highly "playable". Some may offer a "Burner Discount" on the wares. There's going to be music, performance artists, a bar (sweet!), a raffle for a Burning Man ticket (BONUS!) and some How-To clinics and demonstrations. It promises to be pretty cool. I'll be there... I might be teaching a "How-To", but I'm not sure yet. If you're at all interested, check out the Prepare For The Playa site.
Bicycle Lift. It's a 9 MB file: for those of you on dialup, here's the smaller 1 MB version.
This is too damn cool... if America's so "innovative", why the hell did Europe come up with this first? Where the fü©k's all that American ingenuity? Hey, you could even run it off solar power in certain places (what a concept!)
If Marin county REALLY wanted to get more people out of their cars, they could install a few of these (since the Alto Tunnel and Cal Park Hill Tunnels may never get rebuilt). My vote? Going from Corte Madera to Mill Valley on Casa Buena Drive (the steepest parts) and headed up the steep sections of Merrydale road to where it meets Los Ranchitos Rd. These two hills are the sweatiest ones for me, but I think they're a big deterrent for a lot of people. I have a feeling that installing these isn't that cheap, but it's likely cheaper (and easier) than rebuilding the tunnels... just an idea.
BTW, I realized that Compact Fluorescent's aka CFL's are full of Hg aka Mercury.. which is super toxic and bad for the environment (and YOU!) in this form. Hmmm... LED's are a better option: they last longer, are solid state and don't have lead in them. I don't know about their manufacturing, so if someone knows if the manufacturing of LED's requires mercury, speak UP!
CCrane is a good source for Household LED Bulbs. Read the data at the bottom of the page: the numbers are a bit staggering. Savings of over $300 over the lifetime of the bulb... pretty impressive. Even more impressive is the power plant reduction stat. Wow. No more CFL's for us... Solar on the roof and now the upgrade to LED's... like they said in "What About Bob?"; "Baby steps bob, baby steps". Take some baby steps with me, will ya?
While over reading the latest entry at Todd's Blog, I found my way to this link about Car-Head. I've suffered from Car-head for many many many years, even when I was biking the most. It's funny; you take the way things ARE for granted: it's the "normal" way, the way it's always been done... but it's none of those things. My wife and I struggled this evening with her desire to trade in her current car for a newer one and my dogged taurean resistance to putting more money into car society. There's this war going on in my head, and it all started when I bought an Xtracycle FreeRadical Conversion Kit. My aversion to cars has been growing as my eyes have been further and further opened to the damage we've done and are continuing to inflict upon our little blue ball. While I try and remain hopeful, the recent car acquisition is causing me considerable angst. I guess you can call it growing pains, but man is it a bitch. What I can take from this experience is a stronger commitment to drive less. My hat's off to folks who are car-free: it's not easy given the pervasive and ubiquitous nature or Car-Head mentality.
I wish I could say I found THIS one myself, but I found it at Kent Peterson's Blog. It's about a life well lived, and the danger of turning left. Like Kent said, it's not about bikes specifically, but it makes a good point that any cyclist can take to heart.
This evening, for the second time in several days, I started crying. The first time was May 3rd. May 3rd was my uncle's birthday. He died in October 2006 from Pulmonary Fibrosis. He was not a man of many words, but he had a heart of gold and he was a wonderful listener. I spent about 4 days with him back in 2000 when my wife and I took a road trip through the southwest and for me, it was one of the highlights of the trip. I'm very thankful that I got to know him, even if it was just a little bit. My cousin's email is what set me off. She wrote a very beautiful thing about her dad on his birthday and sent it to me, and I was sobbing by the time I finished it. Somehow I wasn't surprised, because she and I simultaneously fell apart at the funeral and ended up sobbing in each others arms for several minutes. It didn't seem strange that we hadn't seen each other in at least 20 years.
Tonight I got caught up with Fatty's Blog, and the ordeal that he and his wife are going through is excruciating to read. In particular, the reaction of his 11 year old son put me in tears for the second time in 5 days; DAMN! I can only imagine the pain that Susan is going through, but to see your children in that kind of fear and pain is intolerable. The folks at Twin Six approached Fatty about making a limited edition pink version of his totally awesome jersey in a show of solidarity for his wife. If you can do it, please go to the Pink Lemonade entry and vote for the size that you would want. Most of the funds go to support breast cancer research and little goes to Susan. Twin Six won't be making a dime, and I think that's pretty damn cool of them. If they do indeed make the jersey and I can get one, I'll wear it with pride as I suffer over Carson Pass on my trip to Burning Man by bicycle. In fact, I'm dedicating my suffering first ascent of Carson Pass to Susan Nelson.
Charity is my... well, I don't know how we're really related anymore. Technically we're not, but it doesn't matter.
She lives in LaLa land (aka Los Angeles) and works in the entertainment industry. She's also writing a book. Her writing is very good.. I'm very impressed. My writing feels awkward when I read her blog… DOH!
Check out her article about the Insanity of Vanity.
CURRENT MUSIC: Rush, Exit... Stage Left, Tom Sawyer
The Archdruid Report: Faustus and the Monkey Trap
I found the link over at Mauricio's Blog. Mauricio is a fellow Xtracyclist, and a regular poster over at Todd Fahrner's Blog. It's a great article and at the risk of repeating this point, for the third time, it points out that Biofuels are not the answer to our energy problems. Look, I'm all for using WVO (waste vegetable oil) to create biodiesel: this is giving it a second life. Cultivating crops for fuel only? Stupid stupid stupid. A line from Rush's "Territories" (released in 1987 on the Hold Your Fire album) song rings particularly true here;
The whole wide world
An endless universe
Yet we keep looking through
The eyeglass in reverse
Don't feed the people
But we feed the machines
Can't really feel
What international means
In different circles, we keep holding our ground
In different circles, we keep spinning round and round
Hard to believe that I used to quote Rush on a daily basis.. back in highschool. I can still do it once in a while. I'll be seeing them in Concord in August; already got my tickets.
Yeah, this post is all over the map... just like me.
Oh.. and a teaser: the Stokemonkey is completed. I fired it up for the first time today and it runs. There's some other details to finish (battery box placement to accomodate PeaPod, front derailer hookup, shellacing of the new cork grips, readjusting the handlebar accountrements, cable tying off loose ends), but after 8 long months of procrastination and excuses, the end is nigh. Just in time: I did my first ride to the shop in many months on my wife's bike and I was pining the whole time for SuperVato. It didn't help that the seat on her bike is NO substitue for my B17, the handlebar position on her bike (for me at least) is several inches below the seat and I was carrying a 30+ pound pack on my back. It all added up to a less than comfortable ride. None-the-less it was a beautiful day, perfect temperatures and the ride was glorius. I kept thinking to myself "why haven't I been doing this all then time?". It finally lit another fire under my ass and I finished the Stokemonkey install and started on the other finishing details. I'm waiting for the shellac to dry so I can sand and put on another coat tomorrow evening. Monday morning may find me riding to the citay.. though as Todd said, I should really take it easy on the battery the first few rides. Oh... and I weighed the entire rig (w/ battery). Sit down if you're standing (wait who stands to read this blog anyways?).. a whopping 95 lbs! I was thinking all along that somehow I was going to come out around 80 lbs, but ... no. Then add me (currently around 190), my son (I'm guessing, but probably around 35lbs) and a load of groceries (20-60 pounds) and I'm up between 320-380lbs. Does that exceed the rating of the FreeRadical? It's rather unclear. I'm guessing that I'm nearing capacity, but it's probably more about my wheels than anything else.
One of the general axioms of riding a motorcycle is "it's not of matter of if, it's a matter of when you crash your bike". I've heard this for years and dutifully repeated it, though without much conviction. Until today.
I've been riding motorcycles for nearly 13 years and I've never crashed a bike. I've dropped 2 different bikes a combined total of 3 times, but I wasn't REALLY riding when it happened. The first time was on my 1990/1992 (don't ask) Suzuki GSXR 1100. I was out at Rodeo Beach (aka Fort Kronkite) and being as the bike was still fairly new (to me) and feeling paranoid of thieves, I decided to put my new disc lock on while I walked the beach. On returning to the bike, I mounted up, fired the engine and attempted to back out of my parking spot… only to come to a jarring halt when the lock hit the forks. I was not ready for this and the bike tilted to the left and my left foot slipped while I was trying to get it down.. needless to say, the next few minutes found me feeling rather stupid and abashedly struggling to set the rubber side down again. I had not learned yet THIS technique, so I picked the bike up using my arms and back muscles... the wrong way. I didn't notice right away because of the adrenaline, but later that afternoon my back was very sore. This little mistake cost me a sizeable chunk of pride and a set of bent rotors that a resurfacing job didn't fix. A constant pulse in the front brake whenever applied was a constant reminder to think about the bike lock. I ended up getting a coiled cable that ran from the lock to the handlebar as a reminder so that it wouldn't happen again, but not before...
... the second dropped bike. After I sold my GSXR, I purchased a used 1995 BMW R1100 GS. It was (and is) a tall bike; even with the seat in the lowest position, I could never get more than the balls of my feet on the ground. This made stopping on any crowned or sloping road a real challenge. I always had to slide my hips over when coming to stop so I could get more of my foot on the ground. I got used to it but it was dicey in the beginning. One day while in SF I stopped at my favorite Mission St. Taqueria, El Farolitos at 24th & Misson. Seeing as I was in the heart of SF's Mission Distrct, I put my disc lock on. I parked with the ass end of the bike in to the curb between 2 cars. I was in a hurry when I got back to the bike as I was running late (at this point I don't remember where I had to be) and I forgot to remove the disc lock. I was turning right out of my spot heading north on Mission when the lock hit the forks and I overbalanced on the right side. As the bike went down and I hopped off and managed to slow the bike's pavement bound topple, but I was unable to halt it. The physical damange was limited to minor scratching and a slightly scratched cylinder head guard, but there was massive damage to my ego as there were tons of people (nothing unusual for Mission St. in the middle of the day) walking down the sidewalk. Somehow adrenaline pumping through my veins managed to get the bike back up on it's wheels, but I lifted the bike the wrong way again and I was panting by the time I got the kickstand down and the lock off. I took off as fast as I could, with my proverbial tail between my legs. It was shortly after this incident that I got the "reminder" cable for the lock.
The third time I dropped the bike and the second time I dropped the beamer was in Mendocino on a gravel road. I had been visiting my brother-in-law; At the time he was living way up a mountainside on a gravel road with a deep gravel driveway. You can guess where this is going. A little too much throttle combined with some sloppy clutch work kicked the rear wheel out to the right as I was departing and the bike ended up on it's left side with me standing next to it saying "wow, that sucks". Actually what I said was a lot worse than that, but let's leave it at that. I was a much better rider by this point, but I had zero experience riding a motorcycle in gravel and I didn't realize how unforgiving it can be. Minor scratching to the cylinder guards and none to me and thankfully this time no one witnessed my ineptitude. I had learned another valuable lesson.
So that covers my previous experience with dropping motorcycles. Speed was always less than 3 mph and it was always from a stop that I dropped the bike... until today.
I was heading home from work after a rather frustrating day at work. My ride was going well with several nicely connected green lights that usually don't link up. Riding usually makes me feel better when other things aren't going well. The way I become one with the bike and the way my mind clears and I focus completely on the here and now is a wonderful way to put your troubles aside. This focus was the reason that today's wreck didn't badly damage my bike and I escaped physically unscathed.
I was headed westbound down Fulton Street. Somewhere between 11th & 12th St. I got into the right hand lane in anticipation for turning right on Park Presidio. There was a green Toyota Corolla or Camry in front of me with a bunch of bumper stickers on it. As we approached Park Presidio the traffic stacked up right to Funston in the right lane. The corolla/camry was braking in a straight line, no right hand signal, all indication were that they were going straight past Park Presidio and heading for points further west. I began to move right into the curb lane/right hand turn lane that directs you onto Park Presidio. Map HERE. At this point the corolla/camry driver is nearly past the northbound lane of Funston as I begin to enter the widening turn lane. I've slowed to maybe 15-20mph. Can you guess what happened next? Yeah.. this asshat decides he doesn't want to wait for the cars at the light and decides he wants to shortcut them by going down Funston, so without signal or any indication he turns right onto Funston right in front of me. I locked up the brakes and managed to turn the bars enough to miss creaming his passenger door... I rode it to the end pulling my leg free as the bike dumped over on the right side. I realized afterward that I was howling in anger the whole time the panic braking was happening and I was standing in the entrance to Funston in the northbound lane double arm flipping the bird and screaming obscenities before the driver was even halfway down the block. He never even slowed down. I don't know if he even saw or heard me. A nice irishman by the name of Carl helped me pick up the bike and chatted with me for a few minutes. He told me about how his brother rides a motorcycle over in Ireland and also about another bad motorcycle accident he'd seen a few weeks ago. Somehow I managed to get over the whole thing and regain my composure within a couple of minutes. This is HIGHLY unusual for me and in retrospect I've come to realize that it was Carl's smile, unflappable positivity and his helping hand that turned a potential week long funk into something I was able to basically brush off like a bothersome mosquito. Somehow I was just happy to be unhurt and my bike damage to be relatively minor. Thanks again Carl, wherever you are out there.
Damage Assesment: Slightly scratched mirror casing, slightly bent front brake lever, dislodged right front turn signal and some ugly scratching on my right givi hardbag. The front turn signal still works even and the plastic didn't even break. I was amazed. I tried picking up the bike the way described in the video above, but I'm sure I was doing it wrong as I tried it twice and couldn't get a good grip. I ended up picking it up the wrong way. I don't seem to have hurt my back, but then again I did have some help from Carl. The rest of the ride home was mostly uneventful with the exception of a marin soccer mom in a white Range Rover Defender veering into my lane heading down the waldo grade; I was far enough back that I slowed down AND gave her the horn which sent her cell-phone-to-the-ear ass swerving back into her own lane. I gunned it past after that and didn't see her again.
WHAT I LEARNED (again):
- Always assume they don't see or hear you
- When you really need the horn, you won't have time to use it
- Watch out for last second non-signaling turners
- Don't get into a place where you can get "Right Hooked"
I can now say "It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when" with conviction. Thankfully I don't have to do it from a hospital bed.
Keep your wits about you out there; watch out for asshats, and as always, keep the rubber side down.
BTW: Happy 420 folks! I didn't partake today but I did try to get drunk when I got home. Emphasis on the "try". The adrenaline left floating round my system must be supressing the alcohol.
CURRENT MUSIC: Jimi Hendrix, Band of Gypsies, Changes
THIS just cracked me up. I found it at FatCyclist and it gave me a good laugh. Can you imagine? I wonder what possessed this horse to do this? I don't ride (horses) but I've known a fair number and I've never seen behavior anything like this. Maybe it was a race horse?
Most thoroughbreds are freaked by bicycles/bicyclists, but this one seems to fit right in...
Gosh, THIS really tells it like it is. Funny, yet painful and scary.. because it's true. Man, I can't WAIT till his bungling neo fascist regime is through with their turn. Let's just hope the Dems don't mess it up worse.
Arrrrgghhh.... Avast ye scum ridden bug pluggers! Black Sam Rackham's gonna keel haul ye and stow ye in davey jones' locker if yer not savvy!!!
THIS article that I found through Oil Is For Sissies summed up the fuel efficient car thing pretty well. In fact, it put down in writing the thoughts that had been running round my head when I vetoed buying a hybrid. See, Hybrids aren't cheap. There are cheaper cars whose milage isn't that much lower. Wait, I'll just shut up now, because I'm just going to confuse you; go read the article. You'll see what I mean.
Oh, and you can safely exclude the bicycle or human/electric hybrid from this equation. It's on a whole different level.
If you haven't heard of Dave Nice and his misfortune on the Great Divide Race in 2006, then read Fatty's entry here.
I was incensed when I learned of Dave's misfortune in the 2006 GDR, so much so that I immediately went on the offensive and contacted everyone I knew in Montana and told them to be on the lookout for Dave's bike. It didn't help Dave get back in the race or get his bike back, but I felt like I'd done... something. Then after reading fatty's entry above, I really could do something to help Dave, so I dropped $100 on Fatty's raffle for Dave. I'm stoked that Dave will be able to race the GDR this year: losing one's whole rig like that has got to be bone-crushingly devastating. I know I would be tempted to enter a bad spiral of depression if I were him.
The selfish part of me was stoked to win a prize in the raffle, but I would have put in that money even if there wasn't a chance of winning anything. See, I used to enter every damn raffle that I came across, and I never won a thing. I'd enter to win raffles for things I could give a shit about. I never won. This was for something momentous. The GDR is an amazing race. Forget those asshats on "the amazing race". This is the real deal.
I dropped more than I should have, but I think Dave deserved another chance at the GDR, and I'm honored to help make it happen. The selfish part of me feverently hoped to win something cool and bike related. Fatty emailed me and informed me of my win.. WHEE. Ergon grips. I checked them out on his site (they're a sponser) and have been intrigued.
I found this travelogue tonight while reading a thread about touring/long distance bicycling on bikeforums.. A great great story and laugh-out-loud funny at several parts. If you've ever felt like getting some exercise, but didn't feel like getting off the couch, this is the way to do it for sure. You Burners out there will appreciate the applications of the vehicle design towards the 2007 "Green Man" theme... no polluting generators here!
So I ended up going to the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show after all. I didn't think I was going to be able to go, as the wife was out of town visiting her brother and I had the boy, and as much as I would like to hope that he would do fine at the show, I knew that it wouldn't be much fun for me, and I would have no chance of having any kind of conversations with any of the builders about custom longtails, nor would I get to drool over particularly beautiful lugged bikes, plus if there was anyone in need of custom CNC Woodwork, there was little chance I could peddle OUR services. Some close friends of ours came to the resuce & agreed to hold down the fort with the boy for a few hours so after dropping him off, I pulled a high speed burn down to San Jose (78 miles in 67 minutes... you do the math) to arrive at 2:05pm. It was just barely enough time; I could have spent 2-3 more hours there checking out bikes and talking to builders and staffers, but the show ended at 5:00, and it was enough.
I took some photos, but no doubt if you look around the web, you'll find better photos than mine. Really, mine were all snapshots; nothing was composed particularly well. I'll post them anyways for fun. Like an idiot, there were several builders and people I talked to extensively that I go no pictures of their stuff (Vanilla, Fraser and Old Man Mountain in particular). DOH!
I'm particularly torn between Vanilla & Fraser. They both make BEAUTIFUL longtails and are EXCEPTIONALLY nice people. At this point I can't justify another bicycle, so I'll have to sell a bunch of bikes before I can buy a custom longtail, but if you're ready for one now, I highly highly recommend Vanilla Cycles (Portland, OR), Fraser Cycles (So Cal), Sycip (Santa Rosa, CA) and Inglis Bikes (Napa, CA). Speaking of Inglis: I tried several times to talk to Curtis at the show, but he was always swamped so I never got the chance. He comes highly recommended by another Stokemonkey user Dave who has pictures of his Inglis made Xtrabike HERE. If the show is around here again next year, I'll definitely be going, as it's a blast and the bikes are just so heartbreakingly beautiful. One final note: A Rohloff hubbed mountain bike is being made by the guys @ Old Man Mountain, and if I had my drothers, I'd sell the Heckler and buy one in a heartbeat. Anyone want to buy a 2000 Santa Cruz Heckler (Medium) in Orange with a Polished Swingarm?
I started reading the Fat Cyclist Blog this evening, and there's a lot of great articles there. The one that pinged the tuning fork in me though is this one. Holy wow. Very sobering, and very heavy as the final thing I read before I go to sleep. I'd say "Enjoy", but that doesn't fit. Epic ordeal indeed, this one is heavy, but definitely worth the read.
An argument with my wife this evening over a money issue weighs heavily on my mind as I read this, and my over-reaction seems so very stupid now. Time is short folks; enjoy your small joys and triumphs. Crippling disability or illness can strike us at anytime and take away our ability to do the things that bring us joy. This article will make you want to hug the people you love, and if you're a bicyclist, it'll put the riding jones on you somethin' fierce. You've been warned.
A few months back a guy named Rick Polito got a hold of me (in a roundabout way). He's a reporter from the Marin IJ (Independant Journal), and he was doing an article about electric vehicles, and he had heard about my X/SM bike from either Todd at Cleverchimp or Bill Manewal, I'm still not quite sure... wait... yeah, it was Todd. ANYWAYS... where was I? Oh yes... so we play phone tag a couple of times, and then we finally have a long conversation, roughly an hour and he interviews me about bicycling, commuting, EV's, being a dad, etc. etc. He was going to try and get a pic of me riding with my son on the bike with the Stokemonkey in action, but I didn't get it done in time (there's this chain drag issue that I still haven't resolved.) Anyways, it's a nice article, and though I can't speak for the other people that he interviewed, he pretty much quoted me word for word, which I found to be refreshing and restored my faith in reporters a little bit. See, for the most part I know that many many things are taken out of context when they're reported in the news. I know that much is left out. I've known at least 3 people who've been interviewed for different newspapers, and in every instance they were either misquoted or there was information wrong.
Rick also happens to be a bicycle commuter (one of the only ones at the IJ by his own admission), so I applaud him for his commitment to health AND accuracy in reporting.
Kipchoge suggested months ago in his Pleasant Revolution Blog (Kipchoge is one of the two guys who started Xtracycle) that all the Xtracyclists call and/or write their newspapers to get them talking about our Xtracycle exploits and how we're contributing to the solution of obesity/global warming/traffic congestion relief/road rage, etc. So I guess this means I've had my 15 minutes...
Speaking of xtracycles... last week I saw another Xtracycle; YEAH! I was hauling some sheets of plywood to SF to my shop (sorry guys, hauling multiple sheets of 4 x 8 x 3/4" plywood and the finished products made from them over 70 miles is a job better done by a truck, one of the few things I think IS better done in a truck) and I was driving past San Quentin towards 101 south when I saw an Xtracyclist headed the other direction. My first reaction was one of joy at seeing another xtracyclist, and I had to forcibly resist the urge to slam on the brakes, swerve to the side of the road, get out, run across and hug the other biker. This no doubt would have freaked them out to no end as they would have had no idea why a strange person was running up to them trying to hug them. Thankfully, I resisted my first inclination.
My second reaction was that of guilt... why wasn't I riding mine? Well, there was the plywood thing... and the fact that the Stokemonkey conversion still isn't finished... DOH!
Originally uploaded by Nollij.
Ok.. so as promised, Here are some photos of the Flash Flags. Come back to the Flickr set soon and I'll have some photos of them attached to bicycles (even better!). I have 15 of them to sell, and they're $9 plus a couple of bucks for shipping (inside the continental U.S). 2007-11-02 NOTE: Shipping is a flat $5 via USPS Priority Mail , unless you want more than 2 of them with the modification. My quantity on hand varies so check with me at the email address at the bottom of this entry.
I put one on the Bike E RX and went for a ride on Saturday. I did about 18 miles between Novato and Kentfield. It wags around in the breeze and generally draws lots of attention to itself, which is good. I bumped it on a few things (pylons, bushes and myself) and it sustained no damage (which is what it's supposed to do). I'm a little disappointed with how small the stock clamp is, but an easy solution was at hand: I ran the closure screw through a metal hose clamp and attached that to one of the seat verticals on the RX. I tried the clamp out on 2 of my other bikes. It was too small to be able to close around the seat stays on the Marin Novato and of course it was too small for the big tubes on the RX. It did fit on my Burning Man Bike (Steel Univega circa mid 1980's) near the bottom of the seat stays, near the dropouts, but if I were to mount one on that bike, I would want it mounted closer to the brake bosses, in which case I might have to use a small hose clamp. It's not a big deal, but I'm a little disappointed that the stock clamp won't accommodate anything other than super skinny tubes. Which I guess means that I should give folks the option of having me add one for them. So add $3 if you want me to add a hose clamp for you. if you have a steel touring frame you're probably set with the stock clamp.
Oh yeah, I have no idea what the black plastic hook is supposed to do. If you figure it out, let me know!
Yes, the American Flag comes with it, and yes, the white stripes in it are retroreflective too. Whether you like the flag or not is beyond my control: throw it away if you don't like it. 2007-11-02 NOTE: The American Flag stickers didn't come with my second batch, so don't be surprised when you don't see them!
Well, I figured out what the hook is for. Depending on placement of the flag, you can use the hook to keep the flag tucked in to the bike. It's useful for when you're walking the bike and don't want to get hit by the flag or when trying to maneuver through small spaces and not touch the items around you (like parking it in a bike rack next to a 7k Litespeed). Someone commented on it today, and I figured it out several hours before reading the comment. Figures.
Thanks to Steven Sharf of bicyclelighting.com for linking to me after I startled him by tracking down his phone number. His site is brilliant (pun intended) and my favorite point of reference when building home brew lighting systems. His site is awesome, and you should peruse it thoroughly. He's not trying to sell you anything, he's just sharing information and personal experience. Many bike shops don't want you to know that there's an alternative to their expensive rechargeable systems, but the best ones will admit it.
I've gotten a number of emails over the last couple of years asking if I'm still selling Flash Flags: I am NOT. It doesn't make sense to: the manufacturer now sells them directly. You can order them by clicking HERE! Stay safe out there!
Kent Peterson posted THIS LINK on his blog, and I just can't say it any better, so I'll shut up. Well, one last thing... I have been known once in a while to get holier-than-thou about unlit cyclists at night, but only when they manage to almost kill me. Shutting up to commence... NOW.
They are here! I will post good pictures soon (as well as in the bag, I'll have some mounted photos as well). If you want one, they're $9. Shipping to most places (standard, not express) should be about $1-@2, but I'll have to put on in a package and weigh it to know for sure.
They look a little different than they used to.. they now have reflective striping across the flags, and they should be equally visible at night as well as day. What's funny is, I recently bought a flag and mast for my Bike E RX, and I did the EXACT same thing to my flag with some reflective tape I bought at the hardware store. I had no idea that they'd changed the design on the Flash Flags to do this as well... but I guess bike minds think alike. If I can figure out some way to mount it, I'll put a flash flag on my 'bent (but the seatstays (as far as they can be called this) won't accomodate it, so I'll either mount it to the seat, or drill and tap a hole in the body near the tail. Pictures to come as projects get completed.
Speaking of which, NO the stokemonkey isn't done. I'm waiting on a part I need to fabricate (custom chain guide) in order to run the bike safely, otherwise the chain will rub on the frame AND new Val Kleiss centerstand. Fortunately, the design phase is nearly finished, preliminary .dxf files have been created and the bearings are the only things holding up the chain roller process now.
The rubbing issue is due in large to the swapout of the cranks and rings(previously a Truvativ 5D 48,38,28, Now a Sugino X3 44, 34, 22) and BB (went to a UNB-53 from the Truvativ Splined Power cartidge), all in all lowering my high gear ratio from 103 to 94.4 and my low end from 27.7 to 21.8. The next upgrade I do to this bike in the transmission (and only once this one wears out) will be to go to fewer gears, either 7 or 8 cog cassette (if I can find a new one!) or the Deore XT 9 speed CS-M760.