Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What's yours is mine, until I return from this errand

Here is a link to a recent Plain Dealer Article by Jim Nichols about the heavy use of bicycles in Oberlin, Ohio and the city's problem of having dozens of bikes abandoned by students at the end of the semester. I also enjoy the part about the students who will "borrow" a stranger's bike for a quick trip, then return it.

I'm down with the whole communal property thing and all, but please don't think about "borrowing" my Cervelo race bike. That could be a problem.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tour of Perry County

I ventured to Somerset, Ohio on Saturday to do the Tour of Perry County Road Race. I was already going to be in the area, so the 2.5+ hour drive wasn't a big deal. Two laps on a 17 mile loop, which happens to be one of the hardest loops I've ever raced. There were about 30 riders total, so the promoter raced us all together and scored us separately based on categories. Dave T. from SBR was also there.

I managed to make the winning break on the first major hill of the first lap. Our group swelled to seven at one point, then fell to five riders after going through town at the start of lap two. The five of us stayed together for almost the entire last lap until someone attacked one of the many hills in the last few miles. I couldn't respond, but still maintained fifth overall, and third in the 3/4 field.

Dave T. raced really well, finishing 4th in the 4/5 field and in the top half of riders overall.

So far, all of the Team Columbus races I've done this year have been well run, safe, well-marshaled, and have featured great courses.

The roll out.


The break goes through town at the beginning of lap 2.




Dave T. near the finish.




Here is a video of the three leaders finishing. Note that the finishing hill did not even feel like a hill compared to the rest of the course. The finish is after the turn.

Friday, April 25, 2008


While recently looking through some old pictures, I found a photo of myself from the 2003 Chippewa Creek (Brecksville) road race. At the time, I was a very recreational cyclist who dabbled in the occasional Citizen's race. And I was about 45 pounds heavier than I am now. Ouch, does that hill look hard with all of that junk.

I think I need to keep that photo next to the pantry where I keep the cheezy poofs, as a reminder.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

We have a winner

Congrats to Thom D., who knew the answer to yesterday's contest question. The name of the song was Broken Bicycles by Tom Waits. Although Thom failed to read the fine print of the contest rules and e-mailed me his answer instead of posting it as a comment to the blog, I will cut him some slack and still declare him the winner.

I conducted a post-contest e-mail interview with our lucky winner Thom. Here is the text of the interview with answers in italics:

1. who is your favorite spice girl?
cardamom spice

2. have you ever romanced or attempted to romance someone while listening to tom waits?
yes, certainly. even mr. waits himself...

3. shimano or campy or sram?
ShRAMpy. (ok, campy)

4. do you consider yourself?
a) a tom waits fan
b) ambivalent about tom waits
c) someone who dislikes tom waits
d) someone who only knows about tom waits because you look cool as hell at parties when people start talking about him and you can hold your own in the conversation
answer: a

5. who has better hair, quick step's tom boonen or csc's fabian cancellara?
boonen's euro-mullet trumps all, even from history.

6. do you ever sing tom waits songs in the shower? if so, which ones?
Any I can remember. One can only imitate his voice while gargling steamy water.

7. how has winning this contest changed your life?
It has increased my daily email activity by a full 3 percent.

(end of interview)

Here is a video of Mr. Waits performing Broken Bicycles at the Montreal Jazz Fest in 1981. Look at the angle of that tipped hat!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A contest!!

The first person to leave a comment to this post identifying the artist and name of the song with the following lyrics will win wild praise from this blog, a prize not to be underestimated. And no, you're not allowed to cheat and use the internet to find the answer.

Broken bicycles, old busted chains
With rusted handle bars, out in the rain
Somebody must have an orphanage for
All these things that nobody wants any more
September's reminding July
It's time to be saying goodbye
Summer is gone, but our love will remain
Like old broken bicycles out in the rain
Broken bicycles, don't tell my folks
There's all those playing cards pinned to the spokes
Laid down like skeletons out on the lawn
The wheels won't turn when the other has gone
The seasons can turn on a dime
Somehow I forget every time
For all the things that you've given me will always stay
Broken, but I'll never throw them away

Monday, April 21, 2008

Everyone and their mother...

...showed up for this past weekend's Race at the Lake in Munroe Falls, OH. They also all blogged about it after the race. My own mother, however, did not race. She recently had a total knee replacement. She also didn't blog about the race, because she still has a dial-up internet connection and rarely uses her computer. Neither would I if I had to wait five minutes every time I wanted to view a new page.

Anyways, the Elite Cat 1-2-3 field was full of studs (the author of this post not being one of them, to state the obvious). After it started, I was actually having a decent time. That is rare for me at a crit. Then it got fast, and the obviously unseasoned racer on whose wheel I was riding decided to quit by slowing down and pulling out of the race. This person was from a team you would not expect that behavior from, which is why I was on his wheel to begin with. I'll leave it at that.

The problem was that there were several people (including me) on his wheel when he slowed down and made his hard right turn to exit the race. At the time, I was maxed out and frustrated. I closed the gap to the next guy, who then also blew. At that point, it was game over for me. I spent the rest of the race relaxing in the team car (my Element) and spectating as the dwindling field sprinted past the parking lot every lap.

SBR's Tom K. rode very well and hung in there with the main field until the end.

Like usual, the race was run extremely well by the Summit Freewheelers. Props to them for all of their hard work.

Watch the Tour of Georgia live for free

Go here:


Now the workplace productivity of American cyclists/bike racers this week will take a bit of a hit. Oh well. Most of us don't take smoke breaks though, so this is payback.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

125 reasons to commute by bike/bus/train

A $125 ticket while driving downtown Tuesday morning. For several reasons, I couldn't ride there. But I could have taken the rapid.


Monday, April 14, 2008

A showing of gratitude

Many of you may not realize that Benjamin (the namesake of this blog) provides much inspiration for the hard working writing staff here at benjacat: a blog of the bicycle obsessed.

I think he should be rewarded in some way for his services. But in a way that will allow him to continue to inspire the talented group of journalists who spend their days toiling away at their computers in an effort to bring you one of the most mediocre blogs around that boasts an average readership of, well, not that many.

I think I've just found the solution:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Want a commuting buddy?

Check out this recent story by Sarah Hollander from cleveland.com, which ran on 4/11/08:

Rideshare seeks to link bicycle commuters

Bicycle commuters can now search for fellow riders through OhioRideshare, a program heretofore focused on matching carpoolers.

By creating an account at
www.OhioBikeBuddies.com, cyclists can see if anyone is traveling at similar times and to similar destinations. Users can indicate whether they prefer a male or female companion and would communicate directly through email.

Because this is a new feature it might take a while before the database grows and matches are available. The program's organizers encourage users to revisit the site frequently.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Aggressive Driver Database, aka, Mr. "19 TS" Volkswagon Golf, you are a very small man

I have an idea. I'm sure I'm not the first to think about this, but here goes.

Today, a group of us were riding west on Dines Rd., single file, somewhere around South Russell, Ohio. I was the last person in the line of six. A mid to late middle aged male driver with a late model silver Volkswagon Golf approached us from behind, pulled next to me, purposely endangered my life by coming within inches of my left handlebar, then glared at me. He stayed there for about 5 seconds. He then passed us, making sure that he came dangerously close to the rest of the riders in the group as well. His (vanity) license plate was , from what I recall, "19 TS." I came really close to contacting the police right there, but didn't.

Let's make a local aggressive driver database. It should be on the internet, easily accessible, user friendly, and 100% user generated. Like Craigslist, but for bicyclists who want to report dangerous and/or illegal behavior of motorists.

If something like this existed in the Cleveland area, I would go there right now and enter this guy's info, the date of the incident, and a description of what happened. Then, if he does this to someone else, they would know he has done this before. The next victim could even contact me and then I (and hopefully victim #2) would be more prone to report the incidents to the police.

The database could also serve as a warning to cyclists about repeat offenders so they know to exercise caution around a certain drivers who have several reported "incidents" reported on the database.

If anyone else thinks this is a good idea, let me know. It probably wouldn't be that hard to put together. Maybe we can use an already existing site. Maybe start our own...www.reportbikecrimes.com??

It's also very possible that I'm just all riled up right now and, come tomorrow, will think this a silly idea. We'll see.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The top 3 shall now pee....into a cup

According to this article on cleveland.com:

The 2008 NPC Natural Ohio Drug Tested Bodybuilding and Figure Championships were held at Lakewood Civic Auditorium Saturday, April 5, 2008. There were 158 competitors in the various men’s and women’s categories. The top three competitors in each class underwent a strict and expensive urine drug test.

I'm pretty sure these people are amateurs. And this is a local/regional event. Does that mean that there actually is a sport more tested than cycling? That's it...from now on, I want doping control at the Tuesday night Westlake crit series. Those bodybuilders aren't going to show us up on drug testing, are they?

Bodybuilding and Figure Championships

Monday, April 07, 2008

I thought I was hardcore

Until I thought about it. This weekend, I rode 80 miles on Saturday and 75 on Sunday, which amounts to about 155 miles, or 249.4 km. That is about 15 km less than the pros did Sunday alone in the Tour of Flanders, through windswept fields and 17 (mostly cobbled) climbs, all in the rain and snow. At an average over 25 mph. Sick.

photo courtesy of Graham Watson as it appeared on velonews.com on 4/7/08

Friday, April 04, 2008

Well said

The following article was written by Megan McArdle and published in TheAtlantic.com on October 19, 2007:

An economic analysis of the bike commute

In which we consider the costs, as well as the benefits, of riding our bike to work.

Riding our bike to work means that we may occasionally be attacked by marauding curbstones. On the benefit side, we are not being mugged by auto-mechanics, or unpleasant dictatorships with thoroughly undeserved good luck in geography. Overall, the bike is still a clear winner.

(If you click on the link to the article, you can see a photo of one of the "costs" of bike commuting)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Best recovery meal

Dewey's Pizza in Cleveland Heights (and soon to be Lakewood). Great pizza, ridiculously good calzones, and good salads. Good selection of draft beers also. Incredibly friendly and helpful staff.

After being dragged around like a dead dog for 54 miles this evening by Thom D. and Ray H., Chris B. and I indulged in some Dewey's. It's also the standard stop after the east side Thursday night rides.

I claim to look forward to the riding season because I like to ride. The real reason is the increase in post-ride Dewey's visits.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Knob

Back in January, I talked about the resurrection of area mountain bike course Vulture's Knob.

Here's a video of the Knob from it's new website:

Broken Record

Gary at CycloneCross recently linked to this interesting post on Dave Moulton's Bike Blog where he discusses treating road cycling as a human rights issue and treating incidents of road rage or illegal acts towards cyclists as hate crimes.

Although I may not agree with all of his ideas, I like where he goes with the article. He also brings up some interesting points. What he omits, though, is the "how."

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a cyclist propose cyclist-friendly changes to the law (or changes in the way the current laws are enforced), I could buy myself a Pinarello Prince road bike, with cash. If I had a dollar for every time one of these same people took any action whatsoever on their idea, I'd be able to buy a few Clif Bars.

Sometimes I sound like a cliche broken record, but cyclists need to take action if they want change. It is not enough to leave it to the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), or the Ohio Bicycle Federation (OBF), or the other advocacy groups. If you want change, contact your local government officials. Call or e-mail your state representatives or U.S. Congressional representatives. Tell them how you feel about cycling issues. Remind them that you vote. Join LAB or OBF. Do something. Preaching to the choir doesn't count.

If cycling isn't important enough to you that you can't take a few minutes each month to be an advocate, then don't complain. At least to me.