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Holy Wow

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.


Tooting my own horn

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!


Flash Flags: Now you see them!

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!

UPDATE: 2007-03-17

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.

UPDATE: 2007-05-15

Thanks to Steven Sharf of 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.

UPDATE: 2014-03-28

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!


The Real Reason You're Broke!

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.


The Flash Flags have landed...

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.


Flash Flags are almost here!

The Flash Flags I ordered are almost here. I've been checking daily on their status via the UPS site and they are slowly making their way from Canada to my doorstep in Novato. These are a nifty little item that bolts on to your bike and increases your visibility to drivers of the vehicular variety. You can see them on here, but I'll have better pictures up as soon as I get them. They should be about $9 plus shipping. Drop me a comment if you're interested. I'll have 16 of them to sell and depending on how fast they go, I may get more.