REVOLUTIONS- biking in NJ
Wednesday, 11 January 2006
1-11-05: A recent picture on the cover of the New York Sun highlighted the "ghost ride" to memorialize cyclists killed while riding. Another article in the Village Voice highlighted the issue. While the Voice is normally an atrocious liberal rag, I find it's coverage of the cycling issues to be much better than most of the mainstream media, on par with that of the Sun, which fairly told both sides of the "cops seizing parked bikes" issue during a recent crackdown.
However, this being another eleventh -- Januaery 11, to be exact -- I think of other memorials, like those for the victims of Sept. 11 terror. What was the purpose of those memorials? To honor those who died, true, but beyond that memorials -- even those for the dead of centuries past -- are a cal to action. The ancient Greek sagas of heroism in war call across the ages, making the reader's soul stir to bravery. More recent death's such as the Sept. 11 victims make hte purpose of memeorials clear -- they provide an emotional grounidng for the action needed to ensure that the deaths never occur again in a similar fashion. They provide a reason -- and justification -- saying, in effect, "this is why we do what we do now". And they spur us to do it.
Any memorial that does not stir the spectator into a participant in some way is a failure. Any memorial that just says, "here person X died", is a bland excuse in a noble tradition's clothing.
Memeorials, then, are only useful -- in emotional, philosophical, and practical terms, if they spur action. Therefore the ride -- a small ride of only a hundred and fifty or so -- is noteworthy for getting it's picture in the NY Sun and other papers. But if it results not in any action, by those who see the pictures, or witness the ride, and it's memorials, it was as if it had never been.
So what needs to be done?
While I don't often agree with the Voice -- as stated -- it's coverage of cycling issues is exemplary. Same goes for the Sun's article on seizure of bikes which I have commented on earlier. The news media as a whole could take a cue and get a clue, about the life and death issues involved.
I have been hit by cars several times, and have been injured from a large pothole that was surely exaserbated by the large volume of truck / SUV traffic here in NJ so I sympathize with the NYC riders. I have one leg a half inch shorter than the other, and a shoulder that will never be quite as good as new.
Drivers need to be held accountable for what they do. The media can help -- oftne a media call to action preceeds a political response. This is usually a bad thing -- rushing headlong into political choices soles to placate the papers -- but it can be used for good. If the people lead, as the saying goes....
Our society takes people who could never ever pass the bakcground check for a gun and sets them loose on the streets in 4-wheeled bullets ready to hurt others.
Drivers also need to be better educated and trained. As drivers, they are trained from the moment they get their license to look for other cars; often they look right past bikes or pedestrians and do not see them.
Drivers also find bike speed harder to estimate than that of cars. Drivers therefore need to be taught that bikes are there, and that they are not stationary fixtures of the landscape; bikesa can get up to like 60 mph, but realistically, a geared road biker will usually get up to 30 mph on an open road and a fixed gear such as I ride in the winter can easily get up to 20 mph sprinting in traffic. Cruising speed varies; some average 17mph on road bikes. If drivers were aware of this they might realize the follow of trying to get in front of that "slow moving" bicycle, especially on a crowded street where the car's average speed might work out to about the same!
"Just the other day" -- and this could be any day, 'round here -- I was almost hit by a car. I been hit several times. One of my coworkers got hit by a car that stopped short on a 40mph street right in front of him with no turn signal. Okay, technically he hit the car, but whose fault was it? No turn signal, dead in the water in the middle of a street? These drivers need to be careful. The cyclists are already careful, but we aren't mind readers!
If drivers ed (do they still teach that?) was updated with a section on bikes and new drivers started out right, while old ones are reminded -- and punished when they kill or maim someone -- it would be a start. If that doesn't work we can always start breaking the fingers of drivers who don't use turn signals...
Thursday, 5 January 2006
A new (old) ride!!!!
Topic: RIDE REPORT
1-05-06: Starting the new year off right with a new bike!
My black Schwinn Tempo roadbike is now a fixed gear roadbike... I removed the shifters, big chainring, and a length of chain. I cleaned it and then outlined the lugs using brown car touch up paint -- it came out a metalic tan, just perfect! Currently it's running 42x18 with both brakes.
Monday, 19 December 2005
Guns and Cars -- Only Slight OT
After riding my FujiFix yesterday (I gotta get soem 'cross tires for it -- winter IS here) I was tired. Went to sleep and dreamed good dreams cause I read some old detective thriller. In my dreams I was Mike Hammer chasing down gangsters.
Woke up to reality and had to go to work! As I ate my breakfast some slob on NBC's morning show was talking 'bout the need for new gun laws after a recent series of shootings. Some crooks took shots at cops. I won't repeat the details as it was in alla da papers. Well here's this guy on the tube saying they need to regulate guns like they do cars...
...Wonderful, that's all we need. Anyone who rides a bike'd know the idiocy of that idea. After seeing the lunatics, morons and careless fools who drive the streets -- and ona bicycle you see loads of 'em -- I you bet yer gramma's pushup bra you won't want guns regulated like cars.
Every idiot and his brother would own a gun then. They wouldn't need a license to buy own, someone else could buy it and transfer it to another person's name, no one would need a license to operate one on their own property...
I would much prefer that cars be regulated like guns, not the other way around. Require background checks just to buy them. No more parents buying cars for their kids. Strict limits on the type of vehicles or their capacity (the equivolent of those silly assault gun bans), fingerprint car buyers... it'd make the streets safer.
Our society takes idiots who could never pass the already strict regulations for guns and sets them loose on the streets in dangerous cars. Take back the streets. Regulate cars like guns. It'd be no skin off their @ss for honest drivers, but illegal aliens, stolen car punks, and illegal street racers would think twice, as would geriatric geezers who are just not physically fit enough any longer to control their cars. Yesterday i was almost hit by this old guy driving 20 mph in a 45 zone, in both lanes! You wouldn't let someone legally blind get a shooting license -- why let them drive?
The idiot on the tube finished his spiel by saying he wanted people to brign their guns in for registration like you would a car.
Fine. Great. I'd love to see it happen. You think gangsters and hoodlums are going to tote their nines down to the police stationhouse to renew their nonexistant registration? Criminals by definition break laws! In the meantime we have a boatload of people driving around in unregistered cars, most of them without licenses. Like 10 or 11 million estimated (get a kick outa that phrase -- what'd they, take a poll?) illegal aliens who drive illegally.
Regulate cars like guns. If you can get people to obey the driving laws, maybe then you'll actually be able to convince people you can make the shooting laws stick. But I doubt it.
Wednesday, 14 December 2005
12-14-05: Busy thinking.... see Thoughts on Dec05
... It's been a wierd year in a wierder world.
Monday, 12 December 2005
Snow riding in Jersey
Once the snows off the main roads I been riding my Trek XO1 cross bike a lot. The overal setup helps with the slick wet slush that remains.
However, for riding IN snowstorms I built a "snowbike". A 24" wheel frame fitted with a 2' rear wheel, fixed (borrowed from my Dahon fix) and a road fork with a 700c up front. Short cranks tho with the lift of the front wheel I could probably fit 170's. Front brake and drop bars with griptape only on the tops. Rides okay but my next project is to make a studded rear tire for it. I experimented with making a studded 26" (MTB) tire but the screws I used were too long and it hit the 'stays while spinning. Winter sux but with a little ingenuity it can be made bearable. For what it's worth everything - even the BB -- on the snow bike came from the rubbish - except the 16t rear cog.
The rear wheel/fixed cog is going back on my folding fix, but I am keeping the Snowbike.... will rebuild it as soon as I come by another cheap and solid BMX wheel and cog....
It makes blizzards fun! ;)
Sunday, 20 November 2005
Over the mountain
Topic: fixed gearing
11-20-05: After my mundane morning ride, I latched onto a fellow cyclist riding a hybrid at a decent road clip. He was headed for the Rez.
I've ridden the Watchung Reservation several time, but not on a fixed gear, and my last trip was a fun, memorable jaunt on an old geared roadbike. So, I was not aware of the ease with which I would make it up the hills on my fix.
Conversing with my fellow cyclist about general bike stuff, I wasn't aware he didn't know I didn't have gears. Somewhere right before one of the bike climbs, it came up. "You have no gears? You must be some kind of maniac!"
I have heard of people on fixed gears arousing this sort of reaction from geared cyclists but never really heard it myself. Now I have.
Climbing was a cakewalk until the last few dozen yards, when my lungs had a mite of difficulty keeping up with my legs. But I made it with no complaining. The pain in my legs turned into a nice warm fuzzy buzz. I was high on something. What? Sun streamed through the leaveless branches and I realized what. Life.
The view was great -- falling leaves covered the woods but also cleared the trees, leaving a wide view on each side of the road through their claw-like naked branches. I turned around right outside of mountainside and then headed down the mountain, watching my speed on the winding curves but totally enjoying myself. It was peaceful, and refreshing, and awesome. It was Bicycling!
So, does 44x18 make for good hill climbing? I won't ride anything else in those winding ascents and fun downhills. With the cantis up front to control speed, the fuji fix handled admirably, even if I didn't -- several times while rounding curves I took a hand off the bars, and I am probably very lucky to be alive. I only saw two cars, but one was leaning over the center line and she was on a cellular phone.
With a smile I got home, the "immortal" themesong from highlander playing in my head as I unclipped my helmet and enjoyed a toasted tuna sandwich. What a way to start yer morning!
Friday, 18 November 2005
New old seat -- the joys of fall
11-18-05: Working on my fujifix I decided, on a whim, to modify a Wright leather bike seat. IT was intended for a road bike but ended up going on my fixed gear.
The result is mad cool; pics are coming.
Wednesday, 9 November 2005
The Trackbike Cometh -- one gear for all streets?
11-09-05: Temporarily borrowed the rear wheel from my fujifixed to get my Orero? track bike operational. 42x18 gearing for easy resistance braking, platform pedals (for now -- may add clips/straps) and nitto alu stem with steel bars and original cloth tape on the top half.
First time riding brakeless in a while and I end up gettign stopped by a cop. I'm thinking, crud, he's g0nna gimme a ticket for not having brakes. Turns out he just wanted to say "cool bike"(!). Who would've thunk it, a cop who likes bikes!
In the meantime, gonna clearcoat the frame to prevent rust ont he chrome lugs, etc. and tiny paint chips, as it's impossible to find matching touchup paint...
Wednesday, 2 November 2005
A tale of two bikes - fix vs. fix
1-2-05: This afternoon finished putting my Fujifix back together; after using the 16t cog for the Foldingfix, I took the 18'er off and put it on the fuji's wheel. However... The 18 with the 42 gearing was a bit spinny. So I swapped out the Fuji's 42 steel ring for a 43t aluminum one -- a ring that in a cool aesthetic touch I had driled out a while ago. Then finding this still not quite up there, I swapped it for a 44t Salsa chainring.
So far so good, but now the question remains: When I want to ride a fixed gear, which fix do I ride? The foldingfix admittenly is a perfect bad weather bike if one takes care to clean it and prevent rust around the joint; it had fenders, a more upright riding position, and the wheels are small so even w/out the fenders road spray is further away. On the other hand, the fuji's cantis make it a good all around bike... and the 2.444 is easier than the 2.625 of the 42x16. But the bigger front ring feels smoother...
But for now, both bikes are good to go...
Tuesday, 1 November 2005
Strangebike (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the fix)
11/01/05 - Modified my fixedgear Dahon folder some more yesrerday. Removed the half link from the chain and swapped out the 18t cog for a 16t, to give it 53x16 gearing. That's a 3.312 gear ratio which would be insanely hard on a normal bike but, with the reduction effect of the tiny 20" wheels it works out perfect aven for short steep hills.
Two days ago some folks at my work felt compelled to test ride the 'fix around the parking lot. "I like this bike" one guy said afterwards.
Today, stopping for my morning coffee, the guy behind the counter came outside and tried the bike.
Meanwhile, motorists still give me dirty looks. The other day on the way to work I was behind a truck at the light. After turning left at the traffic light, the truck got bogged down behind people making left hand turns into stores. I passed the line of stopped cars and zoomed over to where I get my coffee. The guy with the truck pulled in about the time I was walking thru the door. I got my coffee and paid as he was almost to the counter. Moral? The bike *is* faster, at least in traffic. And guess what the motorists don't always like that. They feel slighted. The fact that my folding bike looks particularly odd, causes many of them to shout remarks or beep horns. Like the guy in the truck who said "@sshole" under his breath as he walked past me into the store.
This sort of thing used to bother me. So did the odd looks from other cyclists riding full size bikes. I don't "need" to ride the folder any longer as I no longer take the train daily, but it handles nice due to the tiny wheels, and it has fenders. It's a practical bike for around town -- more so than ever now that it's fixed.
Then it dawned on me -- this morning -- when I was pulling around a turn getting as close to drafting as you can get to a dump truck in the process of jackknifing a turn -- this bike is fun! Who cares what folks think?
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