Friday, August 29, 2008

Drive Less, Ride More...Seriously this time.

Bike advocacy is a lot of things. There are many different groups of cyclists doing a lot of different things, and some of that action has created some positive change. Currently here are many different initiatives going on throughout the United States to get more people to ride bikes more and drive less... Despite this many of those initiatives are stalled thanks to morons, or simply not enough to get the general public turning the pedals. Some are chugging along fine, and some are a perfect example of how things should be. Ripon College has started what could be the most progressive pro-bike initiative this country has seen. Basically, if you're an incoming freshman at Ripon, you can leave your car at home and get a bike, for free. Don't believe me? check it out here. That's right, leave your car at home and you get a bike, helmet and lock for free. Ripon College's "Velorution" is all about easing congestion on campus and easing off the already tapped out parking infrastructure. The Velorution isn't only about getting people to ride bikes, they've also taken initiatives to make driving and parking on campus less convenient, so when choosing between driving and riding the choice will be a resounding "I think I'll ride, or just not drive"

This is great. I'd like to see more metropolitan areas take such an aggressive stand like this, in fact, I'd like to see more of anyone anywhere taking a stand like this. Maybe giving bikes isn't exactly the option that would work the best but giving some kind of incentive to get folks out of the car would be great. Maybe we should talk to these guys and have them help us figure it out.
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Throwdown: First Impressions... Torelli's Montefalco Frame/Fork

I spent my lunch hour at Torelli's World Wide Headquarters in North Hollywood yesterday while I was dropping some product off to the product manager. While I was milling around I happened across a frame/fork that was half wrapped in foam wrap and sticking out of the box. "Is that what I think it is?" it was...

Yes. This was the Montefalco, not the prototype that has been seen around L.A. harassing Mini-Cooper Drivers and lounging by the pool in Studio City, nay... this was the yet to be released production model that will be introduced at Interbike this September. I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but you can see the spy shot I posted earlier this summer by clicking here. Now it's just a frame/fork combo (With FSA integrated headset) so I can't tell you about ride quality, but I can say that is was very light to hold and it seemed to be very stiff. The stays are beefy and utilize a split wishbone configuration. The downtube and bb assembly look as though they would give a lot of the lateral stiffness that's needed to transfer power efficiently and the steer tube is a 1.25-1.5" taper. The bike is angular and modern, a stark contrast to Torelli's well known traditional steel frames.

I've always liked Torelli for their steadfast adherence to traditional framebuilding in the Italian fashion, but as technology moves forward it's important to offer something for the modern crowd. There doesn't seem to be anything traditional about this bike, but it's a welcome change.
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

To Harass and Annoy

I thought a long time before writing this for fear of offending friends of mine who are in law enforcement, but then I decided, "hey, it's not those guys who did this" so here you go. I mean, I love law enforcement. Every interaction I've ever had with the police has been completely fair and awesome, and quite frankly this last one was right on par...

The General Service Officers in Griffith Park suck. I've now had 3 run-in's with these guys. This last one was awesome. We were riding up this Griffith Park dr. from the travel town side and a General Services Officer nearly clips me and one other rider in our group. Now, in his defense were were passing a walker, and we were on bikes, riding and there was a completely clear and open road ahead of him... The other two times were basically the same. There has been pretty constant construction in the bike lanes through out the park. twice I was making my way around traffic cones when there was General Services Officers behind me HONK SIRENS "Get back in the bike lane"... Thanks. So if there are any General Service Officers reading this... Well, so far you guys kind of suck.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

You're taking this guy seriously?

San Francisco, with it's staunch progressive attitudes and generally left of the fence politics has decided that literally everyone's opinion should be considered... Literally EVERYONE apparently. So instead of doing what is the right thing to do and implementing a broad reaching bicycle integration plan the city of San Francisco has tabled the project because This Guy seems to think that building better bike access will somehow induce MORE pollution....

You heard that right, more bikes and less cars equal more pollution... according to Rob Anderson it does and you should listen to him because he's an expert, with, uh credentials and... wait what does he do right now? Oh, the The Wall Street Journal looked into it:

"Mr. Anderson, who mostly lives off a small government stipend he receives for caring for his 92-year-old mother, also started a blog, digging into local politics with gusto"

OK, so he's a blogger like me, who lives off the government, not like me. Well obviously he has a great deal of past experience rendering him an expert? Ok, from his own website:
"I first lived in SF in 1961 as a 19-year-old barely a year out of high school...I’ve lived in San Francisco a number of times since then, but I spent most of the 1980’s and 1990’s elsewhere-- Mendocino County, Marin County, Portland, San Diego."

And again from The Wall Street Journal
"He later penned pieces for the Anderson Valley Advertiser, a muckraking Northern California weekly owned by his brother that's known for its savage prose and pranks."

"In 1995, Mr. Anderson moved to San Francisco. Working odd jobs, he twice ran for a seat on the city's Board of Supervisors".

Ok, So, This guy who has no education in Environmental Sciences, or experience in any jobs or careers that would give him any exposure to Environmental Impact studies or the like simply says: "Wiz Bang! Bikes lanes are bad for the environment" and San Francisco perks up and says: " Oh, you know, we better look into that"

Are you F*&%ing kidding me?

Since when did curmudgeony bloggers who've only held freelance writing jobs given to them by their brothers become industry experts? And why then haven't my "No Car Friday" e-mails to city hall been replied to?
I decided to do a little more reading in the Wall Street Journal article to see if they could have gleaned any insight as to what might be the motivation of this obviously underrated and probably marginalized white male.
"Having not owned a car in 20 years, he says he has had several near misses with bikers roaring through crosswalks and red lights, and sees bicycles as dangerous and impractical for car-centric American cities. Mr. Anderson was also bugged by what he describes as the holier-than-thou attitude typified by Critical Mass, a monthly gathering of bikers who coast through the city, snarling traffic for hours. "The behavior of the bike people on city streets is always annoying," he says. "This 'Get out of my way, I'm not burning fossil fuels.' "

Ah. So Mr. Anderson has had several near misses with cyclists, and he doesn't like what Critical Mass does.
Well I hate to tell you this Mr. Anderson, but the only people who like what Critical Mass does is Critical Mass and even I've had brushes with cyclists. I know it's easier to stereotype women, blacks, gays and cyclists into single groups like you seem do so much on your blog and I totally understand your white libertarian view that lacks any sort of historical reference but again, not all cyclists are the few who you had a brush with, or the ones who you saw run some red lights. Nay; just like all your white male friends, women, blacks, gays and even cyclists are individuals with the God given ability to make decisions on their own.

I wonder if Mr. Anderson has had any brushes with Cars. I have, and I think because of that we should halt the development of all new roadways throughout California since this means that all cars and their drivers are dangerous and thoughtless. Get on it L.A. Work up study and halt all progress! Read more!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ok, Ok, Here's the Coolbreeze Report (CoolBreeze 08 Ride Report)

I'll start by apologizing to my rampant fans, who's numbers are in the millions, for not posting the last couple weeks. I will say that I didn't feel like writing I have a few good excuses and that I promise it won't happen again. Moving on... This weekend was the Coolbreeze Century, a favorite among century riders for it's tree shaded climbs and winding descents through some of the central coasts most beautiful areas....

Most of the time when I do a century I leave L.A. the morning of the ride before the crack of dawn, get to the event, do the ride and then drive home. The only two rides I've done this year so far where this hasn't been the case was The Stagecoach Century which was over 200 miles away, and the Death Ride which was almost 500 miles away. But for Coolbreeze this year I decided to do something different. I've been in a celebratory mood lately so I decided to get a hotel room and make a weekend out of this event. I also decided to invite a few good friends up to enjoy the weekend with me.

My weekend stay was at the Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard Ca. I was a little bummed that at first that I wasn't able to get a room at the Marriott in Ventura, but once I realized that the Residence Inn rooms are like little apartments I was stoked. Then when I got there I saw that my room was right next to the pool... score. I ordered a Pizza, hopped in the shower, and got ready for Saturdays ride.

The best thing about staying at a hotel before a ride is the wake up call. I need three alarms to get up in the morning, so between my alarm, my friends alarm and the wake up call I managed to get up about 30 minutes late. I still made it to the event on time, so no harm done. I met up with a few guys from the club, Parker, Greg and another gentleman who's name I don't remember. We rolled out at 6:40 and set a moderate pace up the coast. The Route starts on a bike path, hops onto city streets for a minute, gets back on another bike path and then dumps you onto Highway 1, right on the Coast. So for the first part of your day you're riding up the coast, watching the breakers of the pacific ocean. Not a bad way to start your day. The fun begins though when you cross under the 101, and then hop up on it. That's right, for a portion of the ride you're on the 101 freeway, riding along side traffic that's easily going 80 mph. Parker wasn't so happy about it, but I love riding on the freeway.

Once off the freeway the fun really begins. There's a short climb up Bates road, then over to highway 192. This section of road takes you through the economic heart of the central coast, the fruit farm. The roads through here are lined with avocado and citrus groves. We made our way though the farm land and up into Montecito. Montecito is a section 8 slum haven where actors and T.V. Icon's make their home. The roads point up through Montecito for a while, as the roads go up they become increasingly narrow and winding. There is one section through here that I always remember due to the dry creek bed crossing. Once you hit that you go up for a bit, then it's winding descents and easy rollers through some of the most beautiful tree lined roads in Southern California. You cross over rock lined bridges and wind around hair pin turns that offer up views of the ocean and surrounding hillsides. Then you get up to Goleta.

This is about where the lunch stop is. As we were coming out of Montecito I was passed by a group with a tandem, who happened to be piloted by a couple that I have ridden with often. I caught up with them at the lunch stop, and I left my group and rolled out with them. We made our way though Goleta, to Hope Ranch, through Santa Barbara and then back to SAG 4. As we were coming up San Ysidro road I misunderstood what Tom on the Tandem was saying about stopping and I lost my Tandem group. I've said this once and I'll say it again. If you're fortunate enough to get into a group with a tandem on a century, stick with them, no matter what. I lost my tandem, and my ride turned into a 25 mile time trial, only one that was preceded by a 70 mile road ride. It kind of sucked. I was out by myself for this time, passing groups that were going to slow, but never getting caught by faster riders or catching up to riders that were going even reasonably fast. So let this be a lesson kids... the tandem always dictates when and where you stop.

By the time I got back to Highway 1 I was toast. I rode in with a guy named Greg who owns a bike shop in Simi Valley. He had the best socks on ever, pink "dopers suck" socks that were mid calf... Awesome. When I rolled into the park I had the best thing ever happen. My friends who came up with me drove up from the hotel to see me in. It was great to see this group of friends in particular, since they're not really "cyclists" although they each do a fair amount of riding. I got my patch, said hi to some friends and rolled back to the hotel. It was yet again, a great ride.

In Carpenteria, there is this little bike shop with this sign. Totally appropriate.
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mandeville Canyon Attacker Pled Not Guilty...Everyone Totally Suprised

Christopher Thomas Thompson, the now infamous Mandeville Canyon motorist who intentionally tried to maim and possibly kill cyclists on July 4th was arraigned August 1st at the Airport Branch of the County Courthouse, and to everyone's surprise Mr. Thompson put in a plea of not guilty, essentially saying it wasn't an intentional act of violence...What? Yea I was totally shocked that he wasn't just like, "And I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you pesky kids"... Mr. Thompson understandably had very little to say at to the press but his lawyer Peter Swarth who I could find almost no information on other than right here, did have some words. Now, I'm not going to say anything disparaging about Peter since he wasn't the one driving the car. I will say that he did give a public statement asking that people "Calm down and Lower the Heat" as his client has been receiving death threats via phone and through the internet. Huh..."People need to calm down"...what's that called, uh...oh yea, irony

I say that it's ironic that Mr. Swarth is making a request for calm as it's a very blatant lack of calm that has led to this whole explosion of uncalmness. If his client wasn't such a hot head in the middle of a massive adult temper tantrum this feeding frenzy wouldn't be happening. If anything Mr. Thompson should expect threats, by the thousands. Here's a guy who intentionally tried to maim two human beings. He made threatening remarks, attacked them and is now trying to get away with it. Interestingly enough it's not the first time either, as there was another report from March saying a similar car with the same license plate attacked two other cyclists. If I know anything about crime and criminals is this: if they get caught, it's probably not their first time.

Although I don't agree with making threats of any kind, especially empty ones, I do understand our community's frustration. Despite my beliefs I'm also not going to tell anyone to not make threats as verbal threats are a minor inconvenience that Mr. Thompson should have to deal with considering the very major threat he made and subsequent action that followed. I personally would have more than a few choice words for Mr. Thompson but I've learned in my old age that some folks never change.

I think in this guys case it's best to lock him up and throw away the key. And to that, I don't think they're charging this guy with enough. "Reckless Driving and Battery"? Seriously??? That's it??!? Well, at least he's being charged. And apparently the Feds are trying to get his licenses taken away as well. I'd hope so. You can read the full story here.
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Friday, August 1, 2008

KTLA News in LA Does it Right.

I've been watching KTLA 5 news in the morning for a few years now. They're alright to watch. I've noticed in the past that they've always been pretty bike friendly with some of the reporting that they do and at times many of them have shown up to participate in various bike events. So I wasn't totally surprised when I received this little gem courtesy of Internet Research Goddess CorinaSonia. I pride myself on finding interesting nuggets of info on the web, but she clearly puts me to shame. This link is for you loyal reader; click here to see Frank Buckley ride his bike to work. KTLA does our community right!

Here's the Youtube Video:
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Throwdown: Super Secret Sexy S... Uh Wheels (UPDATE!)

UPDATE!!! Picture now included!!! The prototype wheels are pictured below, along with a completely unauthorized spy shot of the prototype Torelli Montefalco frame/fork combo for release later this year.

Growing up I didn’t ever listen to my parents. My parents were totally square, practical people who didn’t get loose that often or seem to enjoy the finer things. At least that’s what I thought when I was younger since my parents didn’t seem to have a lot of the fancy stuff that other parents had. What I learned later in life, was that there was actually plenty of fancy stuff, but it was moderately practical fancy stuff that was a lot of fancy for the money. After one really big, stupid impulse buy I figured out kind of what my parents were doing. Now I’m all about getting the most possible bang for my buck... almost to the point of obsession...

I’m a classic cheap skate, but I’m a practical one, I like to get MORE than my moneys worth as money comes to me in short, small and all too infrequent spurts. I’m not swayed by trends, and I don’t get all geeked about the new cool wheels that you saw at interbike. What I do get geeked about is something I know I could fix if tragedy struck. I’m sure you’re totally in love with your Rolf Prima wheels, but what happens if you’re just riding along and BANG you break a spoke? Have fun walking home. AND Have fun riding something else for 6 months while your wheel makes its way to and from the factory. I like wheels that any crotchety old bike mechanic in the central valley could fix in an emergency.

For the Death Ride a highly classified prototype wheelset from Torelli made its way onto my bike through my secret industry contact who’s identity must remain forever shrouded in cloak-and-dagger-esque mystery. Although this wheelset appears very similar to their current Bormio Wheelset there are some significant technical differences. First of all there has been substantial weight shaved from the Bormio Wheelset which weighs in around 1530 grams for the pair. The prototype set weighed in at 1380 thanks in part to the 380 gram rim. Attached to these rims were Pillar Aero-Blade spokes, which resembled a traditional bladed spoke, only with a narrower width. The front wheel was a 20 spoke radial laced wheel with Alloy nipples while the rear wheel was a 24 spoke, radial non-drive side with alloy nipples and 2 cross drive side with brass nipples. Hidden inside the hubs were 6 sets of Ceramic Hybrid Bearings with ABEC 5 steal races, Grade 5 ceramic balls, and kluber lube. Any educated bearing buyer knows that ceramic bearings are all about the lube, and if you know your lube you know that Kluber, like the Shamwow, is made in Germany, and you know the Germans make good stuff.

What’s great about these wheels, is they’re dripping in practical frugality. If you light your cigars with c-notes and drink Chopin vodka over Grey Goose simply because it’s twice as expensive these wheels probably aren’t for you. Nay, these wheels are for the savvy rider. These are for the rider who knows his or her stuff, the rider who appreciates the finer things but doesn’t want to spend 1500 dollars to potentially dump it down the drain on a Saturday training ride. My 5 or so regular readers know how much I love to trade in Rumor and Innuendo, but for this I’ve been asked not to and I’ll gladly oblige. I won’t comment on what has been discussed for pricing on these wheels but I’ll tell you this... it will be very, very reasonable. The most important feature for me aside from potential pricing is the fact that these wheels run relatively standard spokes and nipples and can be repaired by any half qualified bike mechanic or DIY bike owner with even the most basic spoke wrench. If you break a spoke you’ll spend a minimal amount replacing it, and you’ll be able to find that spoke at just about any bike shop. The practical magic doesn’t end there, but that’s really where it matters the most.

I did two rides on these wheels. One, short quick out and back with about 700 ft of climbing that lasted about an hour, and The Death Ride. From the first few feet on these wheels I could tell a significant difference from my current wheels which are American Classic CR-420’s. There was almost no drag what so ever and the wheels actually seemed to be pushing me forward. The little bit of climbing I did was completely effortless. The morning of The Death Ride I gave the wheels a quick once over, topped off the tires and rolled out. The first test for me was going to be the steep section of Monitor. Usually I can get my rear wheel to flex and wiggle when I stand up and peddle out of the saddle. When I got to a section of 12% grade on Monitor I stood up and fired it up. Surprisingly, did the wheel not flex, it seemed to ride stiffer than it did when I was in the saddle while maintaining a respectable level of responsiveness. I was riding with a couple guys who I’ve ridden with before who consistently ride away from me at other events, and on monitor the tables were finally turned. Half of the Death Ride is climbing, so essentially 67 miles is going up. In this time I always felt like the wheels were very stiff and quick to respond to any change in gear, cadence or power output. Descending on these wheels was very comforting. They didn’t have a lot of give and transferred a lot of the road up and through the frame but they were stiffer than my mom’s vodka tonics in the turns at 35-40 miles an hour, and quite frankly that’s the way it should be. I’m not much for descending at anything over 45 mph but I was pushing close to 50 mph on these and I felt completely in control. The braking surface seemed to interact with my brakes in a friendly but assertive way, giving me even greater confidence in the bends. Through out the whole ride I felt incredibly liberated, like a weight had been lifted.

Disappointingly I did have to give the wheels back, and since then I’m back on my American Classics. Frankly every time I ride now I feel like I’m pulling a sled full of boulders. Despite my constant phone calls and letters Torelli has refused to loan me the wheels again, a decision they will pay dearly for... for keeping me away from my precious.

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