Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Incipient Tire Failure

Tire failure!

I bought more tires at some point than I needed and switched mostly to 25 mm wide tires, so I ended up having this 23 mm tire probably longer after it was manufactured than I realized. Then I wasn't able to ride much of the winter and the tire developed these odd red . . . things. What are they? But they didn't seem to weaken the tire. I rode it a few times, then noticed the grey stripe material was giving way. Yikes!

In 2007 when I purchased a carbon fiber road bike in a fit of self-indulgence, I assumed I would ride it with 700x23 tires forevermore. But then I got a steel frame road bike and it came with 700x25. This of course was hardly a fat tire, but it was more forgiving in certain ways than the narrow tires, and eventually I became convinced it had little influence on how fast I could ride (which was hardly a huge concern anyway).

Unfortunately right before I became convinced of the superiority of the slightly wider tires, I purchased several Michelin tires that were on sale. Eventually I decided I would use up these on the front tire of my carbon figure bike. What we see above is the last one. I realize I have no idea how many years old it is . . . as it happens, I had some surgery so I was not riding this bike for something like six months. I was surprised to see that over the winter, these crazy red dots had appeared, but the tire seemed sound. I rode it a few times, then Sunday looked at it again and discovered it was coming apart at an accelerated rate, to say the least.

This is a Michelin Krylion Carbon Road Bicycle Tire (700 x 23) - Black/Grey. Michelin no longer makes this tire, which was somehow related to the ProRace tire Michelin was selling at the time. Typically described as a "training tire" rather than a "racing clincher." This particular one came with a grey sidewall stripe, which is not something I was looking for it often seemed like tires on sale had some odd color (and I'm cheap, I guess).

It is somewhat dramatic to me how the tire rubber is giving way now - you can clearly see the casing under the rubber. So bike tires do age, if you don't wear them out otherwise, it appears. Yikes!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Bicycle Girl (1895)

The Bicycle Girl (sheet music cover, 1895)
Sheet music from 1895 with cover photograph of woman riding bike

Title-The bicycle girl
Contributor Names
Meacham, F. W., composer.
Oddfellow, Avery, lyricist.
Schwalbach, Alex, dedicatee.
Created / Published-Brooklyn, N.Y. : Published by Hedenberg and Oakin, [1895] ©1897
Subject Headings
- Popular music--United States--To 1901
- Feminist music--United States
- Bicycles--Songs and music
Genre-Songs, Scores
- For voice and piano.
- Includes a photograph of a woman riding a bicycle.
- "Respectfully dedicated to Alex Schwalbach, Manager, Wilson Myers Company."
Medium-1 score (5 pages) : photograph ; 36 cm
Call Number/Physical Location-M1622 .M
Digital Id
Library of Congress Control Number-2017562127
Online Format-image
Description- For voice and piano. Includes a photograph of a woman riding a bicycle. "Respectfully dedicated to Alex Schwalbach, Manager, Wilson Myers Company."
LCCN Permalink

The Bicycle Girl (sheet music cover detail, 1895)
Detail - just the photograph (click through to Flickr to see more detail)

The suffragette connection to cycling is made in this sheet music collection:

In 1896 Susan B. Anthony declared, "Let me tell what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world." The Music Division's sheet music collections feature countless titles referencing and depicting the "new woman" or the "coming woman," frequently wearing bloomers and/or riding a bicycle. And Anthony was not the only suffragist to sing the bicycle's praises; in Elizabeth Cady Stanton's own words: "The bicycle will inspire women with more courage, self-respect, and self-reliance and will make the next generation more vigorous of mind and body; for feeble mothers do not produce great statesmen, scientists and scholars." To read more about the significance of the bicycle to the suffrage movement, see Sue Macy's book, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom.


As with much photography of this period, this was shot in a studio, posed. One presumes (or at least hopes) that this young woman was in fact a cyclist and further that her pins are some kinds of awards for cycling, but it isn't certain (to me, at least).

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Toe Overlap Mars Perfection - Perhaps

Bridgestone after snowy commute
The perfect commuter bike?

In 2011 I purchased the frame, including fork, of this 1982 Bridgestone Sirius road bike. At the time it was the "top of the line" road bike sold by Bridgestone in the U.S. I bought it used on eBay for a little over $100 including the shipping, which was a good price. The frame appeared never to have had components attached to it or to have been used - it was, in effect, a 30 year old unused bike. I attached a mix of components (many not "period correct" alas) and commenced using this as my main commuter to and from work, about 19 miles round trip.

Serious toe overlap with front wheel/fender
Winter cycling shoe (boot) cleated in to pedal and amount of overlap with front wheel and fender

I would suggest that any bike used for commuting represents a series of compromises, starting with how much money you are willing to spend versus your desire for certain features. (The perhaps trite phrase for bicycle choice generally is, "strong, light, cheap - pick two.") This Bridgestone is relatively light given that even after I bought components and assembled it all, it was only around $500. I chose to stick with wheels and tires that are relatively narrow compared to what is popular now. Most people are not crazy about downtube shifters but they are extremely low maintenance. I also like the dual pivot brakes which are more modern than what the bike would have had when originally sold in 1982 but not as good at stopping as the disk brakes I had on the bike I used before this - but I got tired of the maintenance associated with disk brakes. The dual pivot rim brakes are predictable for both maintenance an performance.

One problem however that I simply live with is the toe overlap. I fitted the bike with fenders, which makes the wheel extend back towards the pedals that much further, but in winter the problem is more with the bike boots I wear and where I have the cleats fitted on the bottom of them, which means that the front ends of the shoes are well in the travel path of the front wheel when steering. The crank arms are relatively short at 170 mm.

As it turns out in practice, awareness of this problem is the main thing - I haven't had a problem with this in years. And as it happens, as a practical matter, I hardly ever steer hard enough left or right that it matters, which may seem surprising but seems to be how it is. I ride up Capitol Hill on the Capitol grounds on a roadway where I zig-zag my way up (to decrease how steep it is for the ride) and even that at a relatively slow speed doesn't require a particularly tight turn, or enough that this overlap matters.

So if this is all that keeps this from being the perfect bike, I can live with it.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Arlington VA Winter Bike to Work Day->Friday Feb. 8 (2019)

Snow and Bike on Gravelly Pt
A winterized (more or less) commuter bike at Gravelly Point, near National Airport

EventBrite registration for the event Friday February 8, 7 to 9 am.

World Winter Bike to Work Day Twitter page.

Arlington County organized a Winter Bike to Work Day last year, but it was in Rosslyn, which isn't on my way to work. This one will be at Gravelly Point along the Mount Vernon Trail, right where I will be going. Yay!

1972 jet "roars" over Gravelly Point
1972 National Park Service photo of Gravelly Point (not in winter) and bicycles, from the Library of Congress (via Flickr).

Saturday, January 19, 2019

This is my Road - book by Yoshizo Shimano (2008) Book Review

This Is My Road: The Shimano StoryThis Is My Road: The Shimano Story by Yoshizo Shimano

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because of my interest in cycling, and in particular, Japanese bicycles and bicycle components.

This book was apparently produced from some Japanese language articles that were published, re-purposed and translated into English to produce this memoir and personal history of the Shimano bicycle (and fishing tackle, but not much about that) company.

Apparently because the book was taken from some serially-published articles, the 30 chapters are all short and all about the same length. Some themes continue from chapter to chapter and get a little more in depth treatment eventually, but there isn't much depth here. On the other hand, there is a certain amount of refreshing honesty, I would say, as Mr. Shimano looks back.

Given that I was mostly interested in the cycling history aspects going in, I didn't get that much - but I found it interesting in other ways, as it turns out, as he talked about his family relationships and the company. The discussion of Shimano's development of different products and leadership is presented only very briefly.

It is somewhat curious that the translation is not that good. No credit is given to a translator; sole authorship credit is given to Yoshizo Shimano. He lived in the U.S. for decades; perhaps he did it himself? It would certainly be in character.

An interesting example of seeking out a book to read for one reason and coming away satisfied with the experience mostly for other reasons.

View my book reviews about cycling books.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

14th Street Bridge Approach Still Not Perfect

Of course, what is perfect. Not much.

I have not been commuting by bike since early October (2018) when I had some surgery. At the time, work had started at the DC end of the 14th St Bridge across the Potomac for the pedestrian/cyclist access. There was a relatively narrow strip of asphalt that followed the contour of the hill towards the Jefferson Memorial - this was widened.

14th street bridge addition 2018
Looking towards Virginia

Above you can see the main enhancements, such as they are - before there was just some poorly applied asphalt to the right of the two poles in the photograph. They added and redid the asphalt so there is more of it for cyclists and pedestrians inbound and outbound can maneuver better at the approach to the bridge. Not visible, reflect panels were added to the far pole so that cyclists on the bridge riding in the dark won't plow into the pole. I am disappointed that they didn't add a railing - if you made a mistake and went over the wood edge material you would be seriously injured going down the hill.

14th street bridge addition 2018
Looking in to DC

14th street bridge addition 2018
Not very friendly supports for road railing

If a cyclist makes a mistake where the asphalt curves in and falls, a cyclist could easily fall onto the ends of the girders that support the road railing. This was true before, of course, but this was project was supposed to be a comprehensive improvement.

Monday, December 31, 2018

American Pro: The True Story of Bike Racing in America (Book Review)

American Pro: The True Story of Bike Racing in AmericaAmerican Pro: The True Story of Bike Racing in America by Jamie Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third book by Jamie Smith about American bicycle racing, the American bicycle racing scene (as perhaps one can still say). I read his first book, published ten years about (also by VeloPress) -
. He has a more recent book, Reading the Race, written with Chris Horner is (apparently) intended as an instructional book for road bike racer-beginners - I have some interest in reading it but haven't got around to it yet.

VeloPress has some further background information on Mr. Smith.

The first book, Roadie, was intended to be somewhat humorous but this third book is more of a narrative where the humor that appears is part of what the narrative describes. The author's goal is to clarify what much of professional cycling racing at the levels below the World Tour (ie, Tour de France type events) is like in the U.S. today. He describes five seasons (2012-2016) of racing by a particular team that competed both in road events and criteriums.

You don't have to know that much about bicycle racing to enjoy the book. He doesn't focus a lot of attention on the bicycles themselves and their technology. Most of the narrative is more about the people involved and the challenges of this kind of semi-professional sport. The approach is mostly chronological covering the five separate seasons but there are some separate chapters, such as one on how families often host bicycle racers. Any book on bicycle racing has to have some blow-by-blow descriptions of interesting races and Smith is good at those.

Very nice.

View my other book reviews.