This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

It's like the bureaucratic seas parting!

      One of the dubious benefits of being a legendary eccentric bicycling around a Midwestern town, is the opportunity to shape the future, or at least attend and witness other people do real things of substance.   Sometimes I wonder why anybody even shares these events with me, but they do.  One of the privileges for which I was volunteered is the Citizen's Advisory Committee to the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study (KATS).  (The longer the title the less meaningful the position)  The committee doesn't do a whole lot except comment on the work and proposals of KATS.
      This time around they have hit a home run or scored a bike polo goal or something.  They have finished several years of study and developed a non-motorized solution to our problems.  Found on their website,is an extensive document which outlines a detailed revision of the city streets including their best choices for non-motorized accommodations.  There are pages and pages of details but the most impressive part is the executive summary which explains the methodology and process by which they reached their conclusions.
The city map they produced demonstrates the pervasive extent of their research and designs.   Notable is the network of cycling facilities they propose.   What I find encouraging is the number of "bike boulevards"  compared to the limited number of "protected bike lanes" proposed.  I feel that "protected bike lanes" produce more problems than protection, at least the ones I have seen and used.
    It would be very simple to dismiss this whole project as a bureaucratic pie-in-the-sky meant to patronize the cycling community.  I have developed a truly cynical attitude towards most proposals I have seen, but this dog has real financial teeth.  KATS, the producer of the plan, is the gatekeeper for all the Federal funds which are siphoned into the community.  The State has adopted a "Complete Streets" policy which requires any jurisdiction to consider non-motorized needs when developing and funding any roadway project. With this document, the cities, county or townships will have an easy reference to improve non-motorized facilities and the need to follow those recommendations before applying for Federal funding which makes up 1/3 of the financing for transportation projects.
    I haven't seen or heard of a project like this in any other area and it certainly deserves a serious review by anybody interested in developing transportation.

Friday, November 10, 2017

What to do on rainy days.

      A recent post on Facebook asked for advice when riding in the rain.  It was quite a thread and elicited a lot of suggestions that are downright foreign to most American cyclists.   Throughout were warnings to shower and change clothes, get wet, carry a backpack and all sorts of variations on equipping yourself  while riding a bike.  Suggesting fenders came across as a big surprise and there was no response at all when I told them I'd never felt the need to change clothes or shower at work during 45 years of commuting in 7 different municipalities spread throughout the Midwest and south (So much for experience qualifying advice). One participant in the thread suggested a rack and panniers rather than a back pack! What? Use the machine to carry things!?!  
     One very experienced racer expressed surprise that there was special equipment for commuting and transportation.   So fenders and racks are "specialized" equipment, but Strava subscriptions and electronic shifters are standard when people don't race. 
    At the core of all this is a less specialized bike.  I think everybody should have a versatile useful bike.  After all they would ride more often, for more reasons, and enjoy it more, wouldn't they? They might have to compromise their Strava scores but who cares?  Happy is a nice goal.  I could be contorted atop a dangerously light bike for hours, if somebody paid me millions of Lire.  Hell, I'd take drugs for that, or stick somebody's poop up  my butt.
    It would be revolutionary to purchase a bike that is not only practical and durable, but one that is reasonably fast as well.
You might go over the top and expect it to be comfortable,
ditch the obligatory "drop bars" to discover a greater variety of positions,
find a bike that's nice to look at
and carries your stuff to work too.
That would totally confound the spandex hamsters.  
Oh, and when it rains, wear a jacket or poncho.  Whatever suits you.
Photos by Zolton Cohen

Monday, October 2, 2017

An event that rivals the advent of disc brakes.

Outside Magazine has produced a list of new products found at the Interbike show this year which, they promise, will comprise the FUTURE of cycling.  It was not even an interesting list of products and better represent the past than the future.
There is the Cento10 Air road bike.  Remarkable for having clearance for tires up to 32 mm wide, it is revolutionary to anyone who has been cycling less than 10 years.  It does have some sort of elastomer crap in the seat tube that is supposed to enhance "vertical compliance" by a few millimeters, whatever that means.
Smith Sunglasses now use magnets to attach to the interchangeable lenses. (WTF!!!)
Pivot Mach 5.5 will only be offered in one lot of 300 bikes and
 are unremarkable except for the paint job.
The 3T Strada will be revolutionary in offering a 1x11 drivetrain 
and clearance for wider tires, like all the new bikes.
The Focus Project Y will eliminate any pretense and include electric assist and battery pack built into the downtube.  No more game playing, mechanical doping is available right off the showroom floor.
The rest of the revolutionary 11 products comprising the "future of cycling" are;
Oakley has a new helmet,
Ortlieb makes a backpack,
Burley makes a trailer,
Thule "invented" a hydration pack,
there is a more expensive inner tube for the "tubeless" tires,
and a bike rack for your car, after all 
riding back to your car is the future of cycling.

I haven't been so excited since disc brakes were introduced.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sprinkling a grain of scientific salt on the process.

     Bicycle tires get a lot of analysis and over attention these days.  Conventional wisdom is that higher pressure and skinnier tires make riding faster, therefore easier.  But that has been challenged over the past few years.  As with everything the practical truth lies somewhere in the middle of all the techno race jargon.  Those who watch racing report that riders in the big time are getting into huge (25mm) tires they wouldn't have thought to use a few years ago.   I've been told that new road bikes are being offered with clearance for 35mm tires.  What!  A versatile road bike!?!?  
     The theory I have heard is that the wider, softer tires will absorb irregularities in the road surface without slowing.  The smaller harder tires bounce against tiny irregularities and cause more resistance which we feel as "road chatter" in our hands.  It makes some sense to me, I switched from 23mm to 25mm on my road bike years ago just to eliminate the vibration and my wrists are glad I did.  Now days, I'm riding my Hillborne with 32mm tires on charity and group rides and find myself scrubbing off speed on irregular surfaces to keep off another's wheel.  
      Of course we can't leave this alone and just go ride our bikes, there has to be more analysis and electronic gadgetry to go with this.  Along with the theory is a reconsideration of tire pressure.
Past practice among the elite of club riders is to pump up the tires has hard as you can.  That's why some still use sew ups, they simply won't blow off the rim!  The whole idea of optimal tire pressure has become codified.  Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly has written extensively on the subject.   It all revolves around the research of Frank Berto who suggests that tires roll most efficiently at 15% compression and, since the front and rear of the bike carry different weights, the front should require less pressure than the rear to achieve that optimum rolling resistance.  Is your head spinning yet?
        Don't worry, there's an app for that.  
     The Berto tire pressure app allows you to customize your tire pressure for each bike according to bike type, tire size, your body weight and any accessory weight on each wheel.  Sounds great, it assumes that 60% of the load will be on the seat and goes from there.  The numbers I came up with are downright scary.  On 25mm tires it says I should be using 130Psi on the rear and 95Psi on the front; 35 lbs difference?!?  As the tires increase in size the variation reduces considerably.   I suspect that, like all things bike, the proportions are probably based upon the great racers, not the average person.  We all know that spandex hamsters are beings without chests or shoulders and rely on tendrils for arms.  For those of us who possess the forbidden body parts, the ratio should be different.

       As if this whole thing isn't anal enough, I broke it down to 55/45 for my build, applied that to the original Berto chart and came up with 110/87 lbs. for a road bike.   That's a little less scary but still kinda weird.  Applying this to larger tires the variation is reduced to around a 10lb difference in PSI.  Less general pressure produces less variance between front and rear.
      All of this has conclusively proven that I have way too much time on my hands, but if this trend catches on I can see the future with everybody relying on the cell phone app to dictate their tire pressure, perhaps linked to a compression monitor (a lazer on the dropouts to measure the tires constantly) and spandex hamsters stopping by the roadside to feverishly adjust their tire pressure every ten miles or so.  

It can be coordinated through our Recon Jet glasses to constantly monitor optimal progress towards imaginary Strava prizes.  
     Or, we can swallow a bit of the Kool Aid, say screw it, run a little less pressure in your tires, a little less than that in front, and pedal merrily along in our golf shirts and dollar store glasses.