Monday, June 30, 2008

New addition to the family


Or, new addition to the fambly, as Pa from the Grapes of Wrath would say.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Raccoon Rally

We traveled.

We hiked.

Reuben did not find any Raccoons.

And, despite this wonderfully staged photo, I bailed on the Sunday Mountain Bike race after heavy rains on Saturday made the course unenjoyable for a fairweather mtb person like myself.

The good news is that the road race was pretty epic with driving rain and 4 members of SBR cracking the top 10 of the 40 rider 3/4 field, with 2 others in the top 15. Tom K. grabbed 2nd (for the 3rd year in a row), and Matt O rode like a man possessed. Gary has the elevation profile on his blog.

Video of the race is forthcoming.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shreve Challenge, Saturday 7-12-08

The Shreve Challenge is on again. This is a road race held on a 9-mile rolling to hilly loop near Wooster in Shreve, Ohio. The course is fantastic, and the race (at least last year) was run very smoothly by the promoter.

The event flier found here speaks of special features such as:

King of the hill contest, who climbs the fastest. (see web page for details) and for Cat 5 , beat the promoter. Can you beat the fat, old Dr.??Get a bonus if you do.

I will just be thrilled to win the "not get dropped by the fast guys up the big hill" contest. We shall see.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Get out of the bike lane, jerk!

Back in April, I was intentionally buzzed by a motorist on a country road. I blogged about it and discussed how it would be nice to have a user-generated database for people to post details of aggressive driver incidents, including license plate numbers.

Today I found a similar type of site dedicated to posting photos of cars illegally blocking bike lanes. It's pretty funny. Here is the Washington D.C. page of the site. Check out the caption next to the photo of the Mercedes, about halfway down the page, that says:

When I took this picture, the guy came out of the car and rushed me, saying "I'm going to smash you in the face." I started biking away and he smashed me in the back with his fist. I am pressing assault charges.


Personally, I would also like it if there was a website dedicated to photos of cyclists doing stupid things. Maybe we would then think twice before doing something about which we would be embarrassed if it was on display for our peers to see.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

About that Plain Dealer Article

I thought it would be disrespectful to include a diatribe in the same post as the one sending condolences to the Patrick Hickey family, so I have started a new post about the Plain Dealer article reporting the accident. In a nutshell, it sucks, as do the "comments" of Lt. Thomas Stacho. Here is the article in its entirety:

A 20-year-old Parma Heights man was killed in a crash Friday.

Patrick Hickey was riding his bicycle to work and crashed into a beer truck at Oakpark Avenue and West 25th Street, a coroner's spokesman said.

He was pronounced dead at 6:55 p.m. at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Police said the accident happened at 3:40 p.m., when Hickey was riding north on the east side sidewalk along West 25th. The truck was also going north.

The truck turned east on Oakpark Avenue and the bike collided with it. Hickey was thrown to the pavement.

Lt. Thomas Stacho said Hickey was riding a bike that didn't have brakes. He was not wearing a helmet. And he was wearing headphones, listening to an I-Pod.

The truck driver was not cited and voluntarily submitted to drug and alcohol testing.

As I read this, Hickey was heading north on the sidewalk and the truck was also heading north. Then truck then turned right (east) onto a side street that Hickey was crossing at the same time, still heading north.

It seems to me like Hickey had the right of way here, doesn't it?

I obviously don't know what happened, and I am not trying to vilify the driver here. Two days ago I failed to see a cyclist on the sidewalk while pulling out of a side street I regularly use. He fortunately stopped, and I let him go, but it made me realize how fast something like that could happen. It's very scary.

Going back to the article though, the part about the i-pod, the "no brakes," and the helmet is very disturbing. Was the i-pod a factor? Was it being played excessively loud? Does a person give up his/her rights as a cyclist if they are using an ipod?

Same for the helmet. Would it have saved him? Where were his injuries? It is very possible that his failure to use a helmet had zero effect on the outcome of this tragedy.

Although I cannot verify this, the "no brakes" comment is a lie. I spoke with someone today who said that Hickey was a bike messenger at some point, which of course means that his "no brakes" bike was most likely a fixed gear with adequate stopping power.

Overall, the article represents the "bikers are guilty" attitude that permeates the media and law enforcement. Including the bits about the i-pod and the no helmet without facts to verify whether these things even made a difference in the accident is very suggestive and unfair. The "no brakes" sentence is also unacceptable (assuming it was a fixed gear with braking power). Stories like these only serve to rile up readers and add to an already disturbing anti-bike sentiment. Just read some of the "comments" after the article to see what I mean.

So, after reading the article today, I called Donna J. Miller, its author. She answered the phone and we discussed the accident. She assured me several times that the driver had the right of way. She was actually quite militant about it. When I pressed her as to why this was the case, she said that the cross street where the accident happened was a "big" intersection and the truck surely had the right of way. I then got her to pretty much admit that she had no idea how big the intersection was and that she had lied to me. I later checked mapquest and verified that the street onto which the truck turned was in a fact a side street, not a "big" intersection. (not that it would really matter in terms of whether a cyclist traveling parallel with a vehicle has the right of way). After I caught her lying to me, I told her that she engaged in "bullshit journalism that fosters a biased attitude towards bikes." She didn't like that too much. We talked a bit more, and when I asked her if she had inquired into whether the driver was listening to his car stereo when the accident happened (a valid question since she included in the article the fact that Hickey was listening to his i-pod), she hung up on me.

After reading the article, speaking to Ms. Miller, and thinking way too much about this tragedy today, I have come to one conclusion: Patrick Hickey was guilty of being a cyclist in Cleveland. Who will be next?


20 year-old Patrick Hickey of Parma Heights was killed on Friday riding his bike to work. The tragic story ran on yesterday. Send your thoughts, prayers, vibes, etc. to his family and friends, who must be devastated. Also keep in mind the person driving the truck involved in the accident. I cannot imagine how that person must feel as well.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Freedom Machines.

Federal, State, and Local Spending on Surface Transportation Infrastructure, by Type, 1956 to 2004, in billions of dollars

I would call a bike a freedom machine. Others call cars freedom machines, including Terence P. Jeffrey. He is a columnist at whose writings are sometimes published in major newspapers. He recently wrote an article decrying recent threats to the car, and it begins as follows:

Recent evidence that automobile use is declining in America and that some Americans are making significant -- and in some cases not readily reversible -- changes in their lives because of escalating gas prices should be worrisome signs for those who love liberty.

No device is more in keeping with the American spirit than the automobile. Privately owned cars and trucks allow us to go where we want, when want. They are freedom machines.

Still, some liberals would like to use government to force Americans out of their cars.

They believe in socialized transportation, not free-market transportation.

In a free-market transportation system, a person purchases his own vehicle with his own money, buys his own gas with his own money and can drive his vehicle anywhere there is a road -- and, if he has the right kind of vehicle, some places where there are no roads.

Admittedly, the roads generally are constructed by government, albeit with funds extracted from the earnings and gasoline purchases of drivers.

In a socialist transportation system, the government takes the taxpayers' money and purchases vehicles -- often buses or trains -- for itself or a government-funded agency. Where and when these vehicles go is determined by the government.

In a free-market transportation system, a person travels solely in the company of people with whom he has freely chosen to travel. In a socialist transportation system, a person may be compelled to travel in the company of people he does not know and who could even be a danger to him.

Whoa! Regardless of your view on the merits of driving a car (I happen to drive one myself....much more than I'd care to admit), this guy is a clown.

He calls driving cars "free market transportation." That is a lie.

According to the Deputy Director of the Congressional Budget Office in October 2007:

Spending on surface transportation infrastructure by all levels of government in 2004 was $191 billion (in 2006 dollars), or 1.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The federal government provided about one-quarter of those funds, and states and localities provided the rest. Those funds were split about equally between spending for capital projects and operation and maintenance. Most of that spending was for roads.

The graph at the top (from the same source) shows that, in 2004, government spent about $130 billion on roads. Of the total $191 billion spent on surface transportation, the federal government (aka gas tax funds) covered approximately 1/4, or $48 billion of that cost. I am sure that Mr. Jeffrey would like all of that federal money to have gone to road infrastructure, not public transport. So let's assume that all federal money did go to roads (which it did not) That still means that, in 2004, state and local governments spent $82 billion on roads that was not covered by the federal gas tax ($130 - $48 = $82).

Travel by car is not a "free market" mode of transportation when you consider the $82 billion dollar tax subsidy for road infrastructure that is not covered by the federal gas tax.

This guy is a total fraud. If you love your car, then drive it. Great. Wonderful. Have fun. Just don't lie to me and tell me how I (and every other taxpayer who may or may not own a car) am not subsidizing this endeavor.

Here's another money quote from the article:

Hopefully, the 8 percent who have taken to socialized transportation represents a trend that can be reversed.

Wow again. This guy actually wants those who take public transportation to stop it because it offends his sensibilities.

His main point in the article is that America should start drilling its own oil. The funny thing is that he sabotages his argument and shreds his own credibility by needlessly lying, resorting to silly propaganda ("changes in their lives because of escalating gas prices should be worrisome signs for those who love liberty;" cars are "freedom machines;" etc.); and breeding fear through classism and racism: "In a socialist transportation system, a person may be compelled to travel in the company of people he does not know and who could even be a danger to him."

That's a really good point. The RTA rapids during rush hour are very dangerous and filled with the dregs of society. No one is safe there. Once, I even got hit in the head by a businessman's briefcase who wasn't paying attention while he was walking down the aisle and talking on his cellphone. I was so traumatized by the event that I needed to take the day off and go for a "free market" drive on our glorious roads.

Thanks to BikePortland for the heads up on this topic.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Racing in circles, then drag racing

Tuesday evening's pleasantly moderate temperature made for a pretty enjoyable Westlake race. The only problem was that things get a bit boring when you miss the break with over 10 laps/20 miles left in the race and there is no way the field is going to bring it back.

Last night, Ray, Pate S., and I also drove to Granger, Ohio to do the Team Lake Effect Time Trial. After getting lost trying to find the place, we were able to arrive on time and sufficiently flog ourselves in the sub 10 mile race. I did the time trial last year with my regular road bike and no aero equipment, which was pretty much like bringing a knife to a gunfight. This year, my Soloist road bike is pretty aero, and I managed to borrow Ray's TT bars and his FlashPoint deep dish front wheel.

The downside, of course, of having aero gear for a time trial is that it leaves you less excuses for doing poorly. Did I say that out loud?

They are putting this event on next Thursday (6-19) as well and, like usual, it is a first class event.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


A few weeks ago, Katie and I met up with Greg D. at the Beachland Tavern to see Firewater.

The band is the brainchild of singer/guitarist/bassist Tod A, who always tours with a very talented group of multicultural/multinational musicians to back up his songs, which are a mix of rock/punk/klezmer/middle eastern/eastern european/gypsy/cabaret. Greg D. took some great photos at the Cleveland show, including the one above. Below are two live songs recently recorded in Chicago during their current tour.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mill Creek Park

Today was the Mill Creek Park race. Most people would call this race a crit, but some would argue otherwise. Whatever.

It was hot. Really hot. The 2/3 race started at 11:45 with 25-30 racers. After a couple of breaks stayed away for a bit and were eventually caught, the winning move started with six, then dwindled to four riders. Ray H. (Team Columbus) and Thom D. (Spin) were both in that winning move. The rest of the field battled for the last two paying spots over the next 15 laps/miles after the winning breakaway rode off. I felt like poop most of the race and managed to finish with the main field, which had shrunk significantly over the course of 25 laps. Props to SBR's Chris B. for racing smart and aggressively today.

In the 4/5 race, SBR had Pete S., Gary B., Rick A., Dave T., Matt O., and John V. Gary took 3rd, Pete 6th, and the rest of the boys finished in the field.

Another good race put on by Team MVC.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

One of "those guys"


When I first started doing group rides, I used to think that riders who had "race only" wheelsets were total weenies. I still think that, but have now also become one of them.

The progression took some years, but the point is that it happened. I used to think that it was dumb not to use the best gear I had for daily riding since it feels the best and, after all, I am riding for fun. Plus I wanted any advantage I could get in the crazy sketchy town line sprint on County Line road or in the race up whatever hill(s) on which we chose to beat each other to a pulp.

Then, as I amassed more gear, my best wheels were reserved for only the "good" or "fast" group rides that carried a zero chance of rain.

Today I realized that I have officially become one of those weenies whose stance on race wheels I used to mock mercilessly. I can't even remember the last time I rode my race wheels on a day where they didn't see the start line of a race.

I must admit that my "race" wheels are only marginally better and lighter than my regular wheels, and they pale in comparison to the high bling hoops seen on the machines of most local racers. But that is beside the point and does not detract from the fact that I am now one of "those guys."

I could write more on this pressing topic, but I now must go prepare my bike for tomorrow's Mill Creek Park race in Youngstown. And put on my race wheels.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Liquid Gold

I have no idea about the source of the information in this graph, but if it's even close to accurate, it's hilarious. I would suppose that, with oil nearly reaching $140 a barrel today, it may be close to overtaking Red Bull.

Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape

British writer Paul Howard recently wrote a biography about cycling great Jacques Anquetil, who won about a million races and several European Grand Tours in the 1950's and 60's. The book is called Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape, and was recently reviewed on

The review includes a passage from the book where Anquetil discusses his preferred way to spend a night before a race. It sounds eerily similar to my pre-race routine:

"Here's the routine I'd advise for the evening before a race: a pheasant with chestnuts, a bottle of champagne and a woman."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cheesy downhill mtb video game


Go here for full version with instructions and without annoying blogger format that cuts off right 20% of screen. Does anyone know how to fix that little problem I seem to have with the layout of this site?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The word "patriotism" is commonly used today. Some use it as a tool to inspire and unite this country to do great things. Others use it as a weapon to tear down and create divisions.

A person demonstrates true patriotism through his or her meaningful actions. Patriotism should not be measured by one's stated stance on issues at the dinner table or on a call-in talk show. Nor should it be measured by whether a person wears a U.S. flag lapel pin or not. And no, it was not patriotic to spend money we didn't have shopping in the wake of 9/11, regardless of what the President said.

So why don't bicycle advocates use the "patriotism card" to promote our cause? A person on a bike is either riding for (1) exercise/recreation; (2) transportation; or (3) both.

Riding for reason number 1 fosters a healthy lifestyle, reduces stress, and undoubtedly reduces overall health care costs, the majority of which are paid by the taxpayers through Medicare, Medicaid, bad hospital debt tax write offs, and taxpayer funded health insurance premiums for federal, state, and local government employees and their families, as well as the military and their families.

Riding for reason number 2 decreases our dependence on foreign oil, decreases the demand for oil (which in turn will cause prices to fall, in theory), greatly helps the environment, and reduces the stress on our nation's road and highway infrastructure.

Riding for reason number 3 is, of course, a no brainer and the best of both worlds.

Given the benefits of riding to our "national security" and the state of our national health (all of which you knew already anyway), I would argue that riding a bicycle is one of the easiest things a person can do to be patriotic. If people are going to exploit this word to further political agendas, the least we can do is use it to promote something meaningful, healthy and productive.

So, if anyone from the League of American Bicyclists or Congress is reading this, go ahead and use my idea. For free. I hope to see "bicycling is patriotic" billboards by the time gas hits $6 a gallon. Just give me the credit, and maybe a few flag lapel pins.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bike shortage = wicked

This recent article from the New York Sun talks about the high demand for bikes these days and how retailers, especially those in New York City, are quickly selling out of utilitarian commuters. I particularly loved the quote from the owner of Dixon's bike shop, who sold 25 Jamis hybrids over Memorial Day Weekend: "They're all gone. It's wicked."

The real question is whether these people will continue to use bikes as transportation when/if gas prices ever go down.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Race for Alex

Today was the Race for Alex, a circuit race held in Columbiana County Ohio.

Chris B., Gary B., Mike L., Pete S., and myself lined up for SBR at the master's 30-39 race. Did I mention that I am a bit troubled about being old enough to race masters? Anyways, I managed to join the winning break on lap 1, and then it was off to the races with two other riders from the Pittsburgh area. Another teammate of one of my breakaway companions managed to bridge to us a few laps later (what a beast!), and the four of us were never caught. I was worked over on the last lap and took 4th, the first non-paying place. Still a good race, and a good time.

Chris B., Tom K., and I also did the 2/3 race, which felt pretty comfortable until lap 3, when gaps formed all over the place. The three of us were dropped around the same time. Oh well, doing a masters race before the 2/3 race is a recipe for disaster (at least for us).

SBR also had Pete S., Gary B, Mike N., Mike L., and David T. in the 4/5 field. Pete grabbed 5th, and Gary finished in the front group. David T. finished in the field, Mike L. crashed out, and Mike N. quit to assist Mike L. after the crash. No worries though, everyone was ok. Not sure about everyone's bikes though.

Tom K. also did the masters 40-49 race and finished in the field.

I was also very pleased with the attendance at this race. Over 50 in the 4/5 field and about 44 in the 2/3 field. Like usual, it was well run, had good payouts (not that I would know personally), and raised money for Alex C., a recovering spinal cord injury victim.