Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Perfect Bicycle Christmas Gift

The NYTimes had a economics-related blog post, An Economist Goes Christmas Shopping that I found myself considering as I contemplated several different bicycle-related presents I received this Christmas. One argument (not that of the blog post) is that many if not most presents are not good expenditures since the person buying the present hardly can do as well as the recipient what the recipient would really want - "why should you shop for me, when I certainly know what I want better than you do?" The comeback logic is, "to try to buy something that the recipient didn’t know he or she wanted" which is possible when the person giving the gift knows the recipient well.

A Pearl-Izumi "Barrier" cap

By this standard, my wife gave me the perfect Christmas gift since I didn't know I wanted this cycling cap until I received it. In rainy weather I have either worn just a baseball cap under my helmet or when it is cooler, a hat that covers my ears pulled over the baseball cap and then tried to cram on a helmet over both of them. The results aren't particularly comfortable although the main goal, keeping rain from running down my face, is well accomplished.

This cap with its smaller bill should do fine for keeping water off my fact but also will fit under my helmet much better, even if I decide to wear it under another hat. I like it.
Pearl Izumi's barrier cycling cap combines the functionality of a cycling cap with the cold-weather protection of P.R.O. thermal fabric. It keeps your head warm and the sun out of your eyes, all while stylishly fitting under your helmet. Plus, this stellar headpiece boasts a ponytail cut-out and reflective accents.
I am afraid I have not had a ponytail for ten years or so. Also, I find it amusing when the company logo is done in some reflective material and this is termed a "reflective accent" as if it improves the rider's visibility. Hmmm.

Chrome Industries mystery cycling (t-)shirt

My brother-in-law Robert's family gave me a pretty good present too - a close second. In the three or four years I have acquired several Merino wool cycling jerseys plus a Merino wool long-sleeve "base layer" (not specifically intended for cycling).

What they gave me was a Merino v-neck t-shirt that the company Chrome Industries calls a cycling jersey - but one that doesn't look like a cycling jersey. Which is certainly true; it looks like a well made t-shirt and has no pockets at all (unlike most cycling jerseys). The shirt has 10 percent nylon and 90 percent wool, which I don't think is noticeable - it is somewhat heavier than the "base layer" garment. Very comfortable - it just feels good.

It appears that Chrome Industries discontinued trying to sell these shirts because they aren't on their site. Perhaps it was because of the cost, which according to what seems to be a web developer site (accidentally indexed by Google) the price was $70. I am thinking my relatives purchased a closeout version. Which would make sense!!

Long sleeve cycling shirt (with Australian URL)

My brother-in-law Paul did a good job, too - he was the person who first bought me a Merino cycling jersey several years ago adn this year he gave me this long sleeve jersey (not wool . . . ) with the amusing "evolution" graphic on the back. Apparently 1791 is considered (by some) to be the year that bicycles were invented. This will be great to wear on rides in the spring. Again, this is not something I would think to buy but I am glad to have it.

NiteRider 250 lumen light
NiteRider 250 lumen light

On the other hand, I have a different example. I had ordered a jacket for one of my sons and since I was going to get free shipping and had some "points" that would reduce the cost, I (finally) ordered a new front bike light. I have been using the same 100 lumen NiteRider unit for three or four years - it has a separate battery with a short cable that is supposed to be attached to the stem, behind the handlebars. It isn't a great arrangement. I did have a problem with it and got good service from NiteRider so I bought another NiteRider light, a Lumina Micro 250, that is a little brighter. It is very nice.
Big things come in small packages and the Lumina Micro 250 is the proof. Smaller and more compact than the original Lumina series, the Lumina Micro 250 delivers a powerful punch with 250 lumens of light output.
I then handed this off to one of my sons and said he could give it to me for Christmas - apparently at that moment I was buying into the logic that only I know what I need (or want~).

I think it more to do with categories - with cycling clothes, it is simpler for others to think of something that I will enjoy and use than it is for a basic bit of hardware like a light.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Steel Bike or Carbon Bike-Which More Pleasing?

Retro Bike Or Modern Bike? How Have Bikes Changed? from Global Cycling Network (YouTube channel)

I found the above video on VeloNews - I found it interesting because in some respects it reflects many of the differences between the two different bikes I use for commuting to and from work. I have a 1982 Bridgestone road bike and a 2006 Scattante CFR. The difference in the age of the two bikes I have and the bikes discussed in the video is roughly the same, but obviously a 2014 road bike has some technical advantages over my 2006.

1982 Bridgestone Sirius road bike frame and fork

This is not a "period correct" 1982 road bike - the frame and the fork are original 1982 Japanese steel but the rest of it varies by period. The stem and handlebars are from around 1982 but the drive train and brakes are from the late 1980s - I wanted something more advanced, particularly for the brakes. The wheels, seat post, and saddle are new. I added fenders to make it a good bike to ride in rainy weather.

(I have blogged about this bike before - anyway, I find it pleasing because I bought the frame for less than 100 dollars on eBay and it has a number of rather amazing features, including the Tange headset, fork and crown, and Tange lugs. The doublebutted tubes are from Bridgestone. But this Bridgestone precedes Grant Petersen's association with Bridgestone road bike design, alas.)

2006 Scattante CFR road bike (from Performance)

There is nothing special about this frame as such except that at the time I bought it, it was the entry level all carbon fiber frame from Performance Bike - the bike came with mostly Ultegra or other reasonably good components and no Performance house brand junk.

My carbon fiber bike with pedals weighs around 20 pounds while the Bridgestone weighs about 25-26. (On the video they also talk about a five pound or two kilo difference, but I think they are talking about 15-16 pounds for the carbon fiber bike and around 20-21 for the steel bike.) I sense that the weight matters mostly when trying to climb hills, but that isn't generally a problem with the rides I do around here. The video describes the introduction of integrated brake lever-shifters as of almost as much significance as the introduction of derailleurs, but that seems a little crazy. If you ride bikes with downtube shifters (like the older one has) regularly enough it isn't that big a deal - the downtube shifters are located right along an arc that your hand travels down in that direction so I never have to look. Even when braking, mostly one is braking with the left hand and shifting down with the right hand - no problem. And I find the maintenance for a road bike that is used for commuting is much less with the downtube shifters than with the brifters, which can be annoying to maintain and expensive to replace (and generally not easily repaired) if something goes wrong inside of one.

I think it is interesting that he the guy on the older bike says that the leather soled shoes give up "80 watts every revolution" but that the clip-in pedals otherwise are not better than using toe-straps. It isn't even that clear that having your feet secured to the pedals (however it is done) increases overall efficiency in pedaling.

I am certain that I am able to average a higher speed when riding the carbon fiber bike, but I think it is largely because it has an 11-25 set of ten rings in back while the steel road bike has only 7 rings, running from 28 to 11. My optimum cadence is apparently narrow because it isn't that unusual that I find on the steel bike that I am not challenged by a particular gear but am uncomfortable with the next one up - this is rarely a problem with the bike with 10 rings.

There are likely a variety of small inefficient aspects to the steel bike compared to the carbon fiber bike that also add up, favoring the carbon fiber one. For example, the steel bike has a very basic inexpensive square taper bottom bracket that I bought to replace the original one that came with it (that froze up after about three months of riding). The carbon fiber bike has some Ultegra grade modern (for 2006) bottom bracket that surely must be better. And the fenders on the steel bike clearly capture a fair amount of air on windy days - not so much head on, but coming from angles from the front.

Some of the modern differences don't affect their relative performance as far as I can see. I understand that the modern threadless headset is intrinsically stronger than the threaded headset in the steel bike (that is original, from 1982) but it isn't obvious to me that it matters in every day riding. One comment the rider on the older bike in the video makes is that the small steel tubing looks less strong to him compared to the oversized carbon fiber tubing - this is amazing to me since I get my sense of the strength of the materials from pinging the tubes with a finger - the carbon fiber feels like nothing, while the steel tubing feels like (duh) steel!

At some point the fellow on the steel bike comments on the smoothness of the ride, apparently attributing that to the steel frame. I guess I am somewhat doubtful - I understand that aluminum frames transmitted road roughness a lot, but my impression is that my carbon fiber and my steel bike are mostly differentiated in how they smooth the road by how much air I put in the tires, and the size of the tires. I have 25 mm tires on the steel bike - if I take them up over 100 pounds per square inch, the ride is pretty stiff and picks up everything. The 23 mm tires on the carbon fiber bike can go much higher, but anywhere over 110 pounds per square inch and the ride just picks up too much road noise to be pleasant. Apparently frame stiffness is a fairly complicated issue but I think both my steel bike and carbon fiber bike flex enough. But not too much.

This relatively new 2008 steel bike annoyingly combines the worst of several worlds

I don't have the desire right now to complain about this bike that I also own (but it now in an unusable state), which I am suspicious suffers from an overly stiff tube design. And is too complicated in a number of ways. Ugh.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Christmas Bicycle - Washington DC Example

Christmas of 1930. Norma Horydczak on bicycle in front of Christmas tree, wide view

This photograph comes from the The Horydczak Collection at the Library of Congress and is of the photographer's daughter at collection - few of the photographs digitized are personal ones as this is. Most of his photographs do not feature bicycles, but there are nine that do.

A DC scene with bicycles from Horydczak, exact year unknown

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Kids & Bikes in 1917 DC News Photo

Dewey funeral photo, from the Bain News Collection (Library of Congress)

Admiral George Dewey's funeral procession - Saturday January 20, 1917. Looks like a street such as East Capitol, on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.

Detail from photo shows two boys with their bicycles

While children's bicycles were certainly produced during this period, like many photographs one sees of children with bikes, these boys have bicycles intended for adults that are by the usual sizing guidance much too large. Apparently once one was ten years old or so, an adult bike was considered close enough in size to work.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Will Bradley Poster - Three Women on Bicycles

This is a digitized version of a color slide reproducing the original item

Title: Victor bicycles, Overman Wheel Company, Boston, New York, ... / [by] Will H. Bradley
Date Created/Published: 1895.
Medium: 1 print (poster) : color.
Summary: Three women on bicycles.
Reproduction Number: LC-USZC2-1760 (color film copy slide) LC-USZ62-14990 (b&w film copy neg.) LC-USZ62-28424 (b&w film copy neg.)
Rights Advisory: Rights status not evaluated. For general information see "Copyright and Other Restrictions..." (http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/print/195_copr.html).
Call Number: POS - US .B732, no. 25 (B size) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
* Lithograph printed by Harper & Brothers, New York.
* Reverse: cover by M. Parrish for Harper's Weekly, Christmas, 1895 [can't see since encapsulated with backing sheet].
* Promotional goal: US. D41. 1895; US. K22. 1895.
* This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.
Collections: Posters: Artist Posters
Bookmark This Record: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002721219/

For some reason this item has not been "evaluated" for its "right status" so the higher resolution images are not generally available for download off site. However obviously 1895 is before 1923.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Columbia Bicycle Posters of 1896

Exhibition of Columbia bicycle art poster designs (1896) - published in support of an exhibition at which hundreds of posters were displayed, some from leading artists of the time.


Our aim is to hold Columbia Bicycle advertising, like Columbia Bicycles themselves, in the foremost position. To this end we have uniformly employed leading artists and designers in the preparation of our advertising matter.

For the coming year we need posters, the better to bring to the attention of the people the delight of riding Columbia Bicycles, and therefore invite designs for these, offering prizes of such value as to stimulate best effort.

The prizes are as follows:

* First prize: One Columbia Bicycle ($100) and $250 in cash
* Second prize: One Columbia Bicycle ($100) and $100 in cash
* Third prize: One Columbia Bicycle ($100) and $50 in cash
* Fourth prize: One Columbia Bicycle ($100)
Maxfield Parrish won first prize - he won 250 dollars "in cash" and he got a free Columbia bicycle (valued at another 100 dollars).

Maxfield Parrish's first prize winning poster

"The result is surprising." — Boston Transcript.

"The finest display of posters that has ever been exhibited." — Boston Journal.

"The finest exhibition from an artistic standpoint. It is a beautiful exhibit, and one that in the study by itself of cycling costumes for women will well repay careful examination." — Boston Globe.

Second prize winner

Honorable mention ~

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More 1921 Free Bikes for DC Youth

I did a blog post the other day on this subject - the District of Columbia newspaper The Washington Times in 1921-1922 gave children bicycles if they sold a certain number of newspaper subscriptions. As far as I can tell, they sold the subscriptions but did not then deliver the papers. The Library of Congress later received these glass plate negatives as a gift collection. The Washington Times would occasionally publish photographs of subjects like this with captions to encourage others to emulate their sales efforts.

Another digitized photo of a young woman who received such a bike

Although targeted at children, some of those who received such bikes were a bit older.

This photograph as published in the Washington Times of July 18 1921

This digitized photo shows a rather younger boy - he looks a little doubtful for some reason

I have not found this particular one in the online version of the Washington Times in chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Washington Times - Bikes for Subscription Sales

A "Times Girl" with her new bicycle in 1921

The newspaper The Washington Times in 1921-1922 gave children bicycles if they sold a certain number of newspaper subscriptions. As far as I can tell, they sold the subscriptions but did not then deliver the papers. The Library of Congress later received these glass plate negatives as part of a gift collection.

The Washington Times would occasionally publish photographs of subjects like this with captions to encourage others to emulate their sales efforts. I have not found this particular one in the online version of the Washington Times in chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.

This bike seems a little large for her but she looks very determined. I have cropped the image as presented on the LC website to provide more detail.

For a bicycle earned by selling newspaper subscriptions, this looks like a reasonably nice bike - it has a battery powered headlight and what seems like a horn (?) on the front handlebars. Since this is a ladies model, it has some screening (or what look like more spokes) to keep skirts out of the rear wheel as well as a full chain guard. I think there is a tire pump running up the left side of the seat tube, too.

A "Times Boy" (and friend, or brother) and new bike, also in 1921

Certain aspects of this photograph as presented on the LC website as a medium size JPEG caused me to think there was some artifacting (degradation of the image) in the conversion from the high resolution TIFF image produced from the glass plate negative. I downloaded the TIFF and produced my own JPEG and it has the same issues but the bicycle itself is shown better. I also cropped the photograph in somewhat to emphasize the bicycle.

Quite the handlebars! A "Ranger" - apparently that was the manufacturer and not the model.

Full page ad for this promotion in 1922
Your youngsters are longing for a bicycle now, and they can get one free, the very finest kind that money can buy. The Times is offering your boy or girl a wonderful opportunity to earn a $55 Ranger Bicycle at no cost. They collect no money, pay no money. No Red Tape, bicycle delivered promptly by The Hecht Co., Washington representatives, promptly when 15 new 6 months' subscriptions to The Washington Times are secured and verified.
The Washington Times newspaper was published until the late 1930s and has absolutely no connection with the present-day Washington Times. The bicycles were provided by The Hecht Company, a local department store chain that was acquired by whatever chain owns Macy's - the last stores carrying the Hecht Co. name disappeared in the last ten years.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A "Sociable Bicycle" from 1892 in 1922

Human interest photo from Washington Times issue, April 21 1922

This sort of bicycle was introduced in the 1890s as a way of resolving various issues likely perceived with men and women sharing conventional tandems - basically, shouldn't the woman ride in front? One attempt to deal with this was to rig up handlebars for the rider in back that also controlled the steering. Anyway, the Punnett "companion side-seated bicycle" was an attempt to solve the problem by putting the riders on a single two-wheel frame bicycle next to each other.

This bicycle never caught on, of course, presumably because of the manufacturing cost combined with the dexterity to ride it (or perhaps just the appearance that dexterity would be required?) and the relative simplicity of a more standard tandem, despite the "who sits in front" issue.

Thus in the 1920s this bicycle would be featured as a human interest item - although I think the Washington Times got the date wrong; I think these bicycles were introduced only in 1896, not 1892.

Ad for side-by-side Punnett tandem shown from 1896

Despite ads in publications and articles written about this clever bicycle, it never caught on.

One comment - the age of the bike isn't that big a deal, at least not for a well-maintained bicycle.

Thirty year-old bicycle that I ride much of the time to and from work

Saturday, November 1, 2014

1922 Department of Agriculture Police Officer Rides a Bike

The 82 year old cycling policeman - it keeps him young?

The Washington Evening Star., August 13, 1922 has a human interest photo item about a police officer with the Department of Agriculture who rides a bike at work. And not only that, he is 82 years old and has worked for 59 years, under eight different secretaries of Agriculture.

At this distance in time, it is hard to know which of the various elements mentioned would have been considered the most unusual. That he rides a bike at 82? Or that he has worked for almost 60 years, and at that as a policeman? Or perhaps it is all of together.

The Library of Congress has the digitized negative from which the newspaper photograph was made!

In an earlier blog post I discovered a news story photograph from a DC newspaper issue from 1922 that I then serendipitously located the original of in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. With no particular hope of success, I searched for "Richard Cook" and I immediately found the same photo of him on his bicycle! Amazing! I was intrigued to see that unlike the previous example that was a Copyright deposit at the time (roughly) the photograph was taken, this was from a photographic collection that came to the Library in the 1940s as a gift. Well, whatever builds the collections - it's all good.

Title: Richard H. Cook, 7/29/22
Date Created/Published: [19]22 July 29.
Medium: 1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-npcc-23223 (digital file from original)
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: LC-F81- 19996 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
* Title from unverified data provided by the National Photo Company on the negative or negative sleeve.
* Gift; Herbert A. French; 1947.
* This glass negative might show streaks and other blemishes resulting from a natural deterioration in the original coatings.
[Or it might, in this case, show a big fingerprint from poor handling, but presumably (really) not by anyone at LC . . . ]
* Temp. note: Batch five.
[A "temp"orary note that will be in this record for the remaining time this record is online, however long that might be.]

One small complaint-like comment is that there is no subject heading-like or other mention in the PPOC record of "bicycle." That is, the simplest keyword search for bicycle will not include this photo in the results. I guess that makes finding it that much more delicious.

Detailed view of the photo

I produced the above JPEG by cropping in the downloadable TIFF image - there is a lot of detail available; if you zoom in further you can almost make out details of his police badge. You can see that there is a ring on the front wheel, presumably that has teeth, that connects with a cable that goes up to a handlebars - presumably this was at least provided an odometer function and likely also a speedometer, although there would be no obvious reason for him to track his speed! But it could have been that he was obligated to cover a certain distance on each work shift and this was a way of tracking that. It is a little overbuilt for that function since even in the 1890s odometers were available of a much simpler (and smaller) design - but this would have the information much more readily available while riding.

I was a bit puzzled by where this might be. At first I thought it was near the Smithsonian Castle on Independence Avenue, but I think it is up next to the Botanic Garden (also on Independence) and the smokestack behind is the Capitol Heating Plant.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

1922 DC News Photo - Cyclist Listening to Radio on Bicycle

Fifteen year old DC cyclist has radio mounted on his bike

This comes from the Washington Times for September 4, 1922 - a page titled "Times picture page of live views and news." ("Live" is a relative term, it seems.) The page has a variety of human interest photographs with short explanatory captions.

The quality of the photo reflects that this image was digitized from microfilm that was never expected to serve as the source material for high resolution examination in this way. (Gee, I sound sorta like Nicholson Baker, God help us.)

Anyway, upon thoughtful examination of the image above (or you can zoom in with the PDF version) you can make out that young Murray has a radio fitted in the front triangle of the frame of the bicycle and a set of headphones connected to it by a long-ish cable. Just looking at the photo, the idea of someone riding a bicycle and listening to a radio in 1922 seems advanced but it appears that is not was going on - the caption notes that he "has a fully equipped radio outfit on his two-wheeler and wherever he parks he can cut in on the music." So he was only using this set up when stopped. (Considering that a radio at this time would have had glass tubes, the quality of the streets may have been better in those days.)

According to Wikipedia, radios were not commercially available for cars until the 1930s although hobbyists much like Murray with his bicycle were installing them in cars long before that. But this would have made the idea of a radio for a bicycle - even a parked bicycle - a human interest news item of local DC interest in 1922.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Surprising DC 1922 News Photo of Everyday Bike Commuter

Surprise find, photo of a Washington DC bicycle commuter in 1922

The Washington Herald., October 01, 1922, Sunday Edition, Page 7

"Miss M. Kearns, an employe of the Interior Department, has ridden her bicycle to the office daily for the past twenty years."

And later I find, by chance . . .

Same photograph, deposited by photographer Underwood & Underwood at the Library of Congress and online

Title: Woman rides bicycle for 25 years
Date Created/Published: c1922 Sept. 16.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Summary: Miss M. Kearns with bicycle.
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-68742 (b&w film copy neg.)
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: SSF - Bicycles and tricycles [item] [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
* Photo copyrighted by Underwood & Underwood.
* This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.
* Caption card tracings: Photog. I.; BI; Bicycles...; Shelf.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Internet Archive Captures of This Blog

At work I have some involvement with web archiving. Our program is selective in certain subjects as compared to the work done by the Internet Archive, which seems to try to take in as much of what is on the Internet as it can. (There doesn't appear to be a better way of defining the scope of the Internet Archives efforts, but it is clear that they don't harvest everything. For one thing, they respect robots.txt so if a site uses that to prevent indexing or crawling of the site, then IA won't harvest it.

This blog has existed since July 2010 and now has over 500 posts. It isn't clear to me if IA now attempts to harvest all of the blogs in Blogger or has some mechanism for choosing (such as size, or frequency of posting, or popularity, or ?? - whatever it is, IA has been archiving this blog since January 27 2012 a few times a year.

Calendar of captures (harvests) of my blog by the Internet Archive

Each year for which there are captures has a calendar of the months with dates circled when the site was harvested. In 2012 a harvest was made of the blog as it was on January 27 2012, the not again until September 22 (which resulted in the capture shown below). After that it was harvested more frequently but not on what looks like a regular schedule.

IA capture of this blog from September 22, 2012

Looking at the archived version of my site reveals that I haven't changed its formatting since 2012. The only obvious different in fact between now and then is that the ranking of "popular posts" has changed - in September 2012, a post about a Soviet time trial bike was the most read, but now it is a post about the book "Bicycling for Ladies" - this is the result of some outside sites linking to the "Bicycling for Ladies" post, I think. It seems clear that for this not-that-much-read blog, the "popular posts" remain at the top by virtue of readers seeing them there and clicking on them, for the most part.

If one looks at a (far) more famous bicycle blog, Bike Snob NYC as captured by the Internet Archive, it is clear that they have been capturing some Blogger blogs for a long time - the captures for Bike Snob go back to July 7, 2007 for a blog that had only started in June 2007! Perhaps it was the frequency of posting that caused this. In this case, the comparison of the then-blog and the today-blog is more revealing - Bike Snob has zero advertising in July 2007. And the subtitle for the blog was "Finally--a catty, gossipy, nasty, and critical blog for bicycles!" rather than the present "Systematically and mercilessly disassembling, flushing, greasing, and re-packing the cycling culture." (At some point during the next year Bike Snob changed the subtitle to what it is now, according to the versions in the Internet Archive.)

What is the significance of this? Particularly in terms of cycling? Probably none. Except that even pretty obscure stuff that may disappear from the Internet, including stuff about bicycles and cycling, may be stored away in the Internet Archive.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

1973 Raleigh Sports Bicycle & a 1973 Bike Repair Book

Someone who I know who is in a retirement home decided he wasn't going to be using his bike and offered it up on a listserv, with more information than that it was a "used bike in rideable condition" - when I learned it was a Raleigh, I decided to take it.

Raleigh Sports from 1973 - seen from above

In the 1960s when I lived overseas, my parents bought me a bike much like this one, with the three speed hub shift and full painted fenders. This is a somewhat later model but much the same thing - a 1973 "Sports" model. Despite the name, the bike was a utilitarian transportation vehicle-bicycle and not particularly sporty. However I remember it was great fun to run when I was in fourth and fifth grade. (Unfortunately later my parents decided we should get rid of it, which probably made sense since it would have been too small - but still, a little sad now.)

The Sports model is described by Sheldon Brown - including this paragraph:
Most modern bicycles are designed with the primary intent to catch your eye on the sales floor, and persuade you to buy. That is not what a Raleigh Sports was about...these were designed to provide solid, dependable transportation for the British public, at a time when only the upper classes had motorcars. These bikes were built to last 100 years, with reasonable care.

The condition, given that the bike is more than 40 years old, seems very good to me. It shows signs of even use and OK routine maintenance. The paint is chipped in many places and the handle bars and other chromed components have rust spots. On the other hand, the brakes work OK and the three speed shift works well, although it required some adjusting. The pedals spin better than all the pedals on my newer, nominally better bikes (which is food for thought ~). Unfortunately at some point someone removed and replaced the Brooks leather saddle with a very crummy modern foam thing, which is extremely ugly. For now I am just riding this bike to and from Shirlington nearby and it is fine for that.

Drive train works flawlessly

The chips in the pain are visible, but don't affect the way the bike works - and it does work

The fellow who gave me the bike more or less insisted I take a helmet and this book, published in 1973, which gave me the first clue as to what year the bike was purchased (although the hub is dated clearly, so that was an easy determination). This seems to be the first edition of "Glenn's Complete Bicycle Manual" - at that time it wasn't unreasonable to publish a book with that title that has reasonably complete coverage of issues one might encounter on most quality bicycles.

Cover of "Glenn's Complete Bicycle Manual" that may yet turn out to be useful

Sample pages showing photographs to provide guidance on how to make bicycle repairs correctly

Note hot pants-wearing model demonstrating a bike with the saddle at the correct height

Page with one of about a dozen photos of young woman on bicycle in then-in-vogue so-called hot pants. In one photo, Glenn is shown measuring her with his tape measure. It is a somewhat wacky aspect to this otherwise straightforward and serious book.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pro Cycling on $10 a Day by Phil Gaimon (Book Review)

Road Rash and Ramen Noodles: True Tales of Pro Cycling on $10 Dollars a DayRoad Rash and Ramen Noodles: True Tales of Pro Cycling on $10 Dollars a Day by Phil Gaimon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first odd thing about this is that the print edition I read had the title that the Kindle edition carries, Pro Cycling on $10 a Day: From Fat Kid to Euro Pro. Both editions are from Velo Press. This seems . . . odd.

Gaimon blogs for VeloPress, for example this blog post. Having read a few of these, I was hoping for an enjoyable reading experience and I was a little let down by what I found, thus three stars.

I am a long time bike commuter and I have the usual too-many-bikes and even blog about cycling history myself but I realize that my interest in professional bicycle racing these days is pretty low. I was more interested a few years ago, but unlike those who were turned off by doping, I am turned off by the adoption of new bicycle technology and parts that are clearly I will never adopt, I suppose largely because of the cost but also because the marginal gains are so small. And yet I still look at VeloNews many days of the week and read a few stories and vaguely follow some of the big stage races. So one question is why I even read a book like this - I guess because bicycle racers are the most noticed practitioners of cycling in our society and because I have read a number of such books and enjoyed some of them in the past.

Phil Gaimon is now a rider for Garmon-Sharp. The book (memoir?) in an autobiographical account of what it took to get to that point, including a longer-than-usual amount of time in what amounts to the minor leagues of cycling before arriving in the big leagues.

Right at the start, Gaimon announces he is clean and that in this his book is different than the Tyler Hamilton etc body of work that has been published by former dopers. OK fine; the attempt at humor he used to announce this at the start of the book alerted me to a problem I would have throughout, which is that Gaimon has one sense of humor and I have a different one and most of what is recounted as humorous didn't seem very funny to me. He also boasts that "these words are mine" (that no ghostwriter helped) which is fine, but one wonders about the editing - the writing could have been better.

Aside from not being written by a doper, a major plus this book has over recent cyclist memoirs by Tyler Hamilton types is that it skips details on his upbringing and proceeds quickly to what most readers are interested in. So that is a plus.

The book has a "confession," a preface, and introduction, then eight chapters and an epilogue. The chapters are entirely chronological. Fine - but (I guess) because he is someone who has published lots of blog-length writing, each chapter is subdivided with headings in bold, like "stop and smell the ham sandwich" or "speeding gets you there faster." Since the book flows chronologically in its telling, there is no particular reason for this approach except to simplify transitions, or so it seems to me. Perhaps this is more about how I read than a valid criticism, but I feel the book would be a more pleasing read without this choppy approach. (A Dog in Hat, also published by VeloPress, demonstrates this is possible - it is a much more flowing read.)

VeloPress is a niche publisher of cycling books, but I got mine from a public library. Presumably the audience is expected to be people who know a fair amount of bicycle racing, particularly in the United States, because there was little background information provided if the reader didn't already know these things. (There is a silly glossary at the book that in several pages tells you more about Gaimon's sense of humor than anything else.) What I'm getting at is that readers who don't know something about professional bicycle racing and races in the U.S. may lack the context to understand some of this.

I pay far more attention to my local professional baseball team than I do to professional cycling and I have the strong impression that the baseball players often have rather juvenile ways of acting out to amuse themselves and others. I think Gaimon went further than necessary to provide examples of such behavior among his fellow cyclists.

Gaimon criticizes a few people quite directly by name; since most of these names didn't mean much to me this provided mild entertainment but I assume some of these people are pretty annoyed. He has a particular problem with Francisco Mancebo, to the extent that he ends up something like the villain - he is still muttering about him in the last pages of the book.

The highlight moments of the book are when he retells some of his race experiences in detail, when his unusual choice of words works in combination with his efforts to convey what is like for him in the moment. There are a lot of good moments like that in the book.

I hoped for more than I got, but it is good. You have to give Gaimon credit for trying.

View all my reviews of cycling books on Goodreads.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Health Benefits of Cycling (1890s)

From "Plain home talk about the human system--the habits of men and women--the cause and prevention of disease--our sexual relations and social natures" (1896)

Cycling is recommended for exercise to improve health:

Among popular modes of exercise, outing, and "sport," bicycle riding is the fin-de-siecle craze of the nineteenth century, and has, without doubt, tempted more people of all classes to healthful effort than any other form of exercise. It has been taken up by men, women, and children, of all ages from three to eighty, and is even being recommended as a new "cure-all" for a large variety of common complaints. Many physicians have not only experimented with its effects upon themselves, but also made a close study of the effects upon the people in general. Veteran riders have been subjected to inspection, to discover if any impairment of physique or function has been occasioned by it, but the tests thus far reported are very favorable to riding ,; the wheel." The lung capacity is markedly increased (about half an inch), and the heart (itself mainly a bundle of muscles) is somewhat increased in size and power — an effect which may in some cases be carried too far. In short, the whole muscular system shows development, for the muscles of the back, chest and arms are largely called into action, as well as those of the legs. Even in the men who ride "hump-backed" it has not been possible to discover any permanent physical deformity : but taking a spin, those who carry bicycling to excess, especially when not originally extra robust, are likely to suffer from nervous exhaustion, or by over-strain of the heart and arteries; and many sudden deaths, some from apoplexy, have followed speedy or long "runs."

Woman depicted riding a bike in an ad in The official directory of the World's Columbian exposition, May 1st to October 30th, 1893.

Text of the ad:

IF YOU ARE A BUSINESS MAN, to clear your brain, to smooth off the rough edges of business cares. The Rambler Bicycle affords a medium/air excellence for "comfortable exercise."

IF IN POOR HEALTH s you can regain good health through the judicious use of the Bicycle — the Rambler Spring Frame reduces excessive vibration and makes exercise safe.

IF IN GOOD HEALTH,, Bicycle Riding will keep you so. In your children the Bicycle lays the foundation of a healthful and useful life. A good intellect reaches its highest excellence only in a healthy body.

IF YOU ARE A WOMAN, the Bicycle affords a most pleasant means of obtaining exercise, which you, of all others, most need. Riding any Bicycle is exercise — riding Rambler Bicycles is "comfortable and luxurious exercise."

IF YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, Bicycle Riding will preserve your beauty. Exercise means health. There is no real Beauty without Good Health.

IF YOU ARE NOT A BEAUTY, you may at least make yourself more attractive. The Bicycle brightens the eye, puts a flush of health on the cheek, takes you out to nature, to the pure fresh air. They are yours ; enjoy them — do it "luxuriously" on a Rambler Bicycle.

Today any number of health and exercise benefits are claimed for bicycling - just Google "health exercise bicycling."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Innovative Bicycle Design Not Appreciated (1893, today)

Image from page 89 of "The Wheel and cycling trade review" (1888)
Caption: First annual run of the International Crank Inventors Cycling Club

This is something a cartoon in the March 3 1893 issue of the "Wheeling and Cycling Trade Review". At this point inventors were constantly developing, patenting, and trying to sell innovative new bicycle designs of all sorts. For the bicycle trade generally this was likely a little tiresome, thus the attempt at something like humor.

A Kickstarter for an innovative bicycle design that is a little too innovative, apparently, judging by its lack of success.

It probably would have surprised the cyclists and bicycle sellers of the 1890s to learn that people are still trying to overhaul the basic design of the bicycle today.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Life is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America (Book Review)

Life is a Wheel: A Passage Across America by BicycleLife is a Wheel: A Passage Across America by Bicycle by Bruce Weber

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A few years ago when I read the NYTimes more regularly, I saw an article by this fellow describing part of a bike trip he was making solo coast to coast across the US. I read it but for some reason I found it less than compelling and didn't bother to try to find other articles in the series.

More recently while trawling in an online catalog for new-ish books about cycling, I found a record for this book, which he created by reworking and expanding on the articles published in the Times. Somewhat oddly, the sub-title as reported in GoodReads isn't the same as what is on the book itself, which is "Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America" (and not "A Passage Across America by Bicycle").

Keeping in mind that the GoodReads "my rating" reflects _my_ impression of the book and is not a more general (or generic) assessment of the book as others might find it, I gave it one star because I simply lost interest (as in completely - I stopped reading it at page 83). People have been writing books describing their long distance trips by bike since bikes were first invented (a particular favorite of mine is "Around the United States by Bicycle" published in 1906 - the authors managed to ride at least a bit in each of the states in the continental U.S.) and there is a kind of continuum from "more about the _bike_ trip" to "more about the _author_."

Around the United States by Bicycle (1906) - route map

When on page 83 of the print edition he starts in on "background" about one of his past girlfriends (not his current girlfriend at the time of the trip), that was the end for me. I felt like this was too much memoir about this fellow who had drawn me in with a promise to describe a bike trip that only appeared in the narrative from time to time and was not sufficient to hold my interest.

View all my reviews of cycling books in Goodreads.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

More Images of Cycling History to be Found Online

"Millions of historic images posted to Flickr" explains how the Internet Archive is harvesting millions of images from books digitized and online into a new Flickr account for Internet Archive Book Images.

At this point, having put "only" 2.6 million images online taken from books, it is not clear exactly which books were harvested from, but a simple search on "bicycle" produces interesting results.

A very early bike carrier for an automobile in use

The above image was found simply by browsing results of a search for the single keyword "bicycle" - the search looks at the title of the book but also (most usefully) text that is captured that appears before and after the image. This can be a somewhat "noisy" search but for bicycles it seems, mostly on point. The above image is amusing since the bicycle is being carried on the automobile as backup transportation, not to take the bicycle to some location to ride.
Speedway is a believer in the motor vehicle as the conveyance of the future, but in the present, that he may always feel safe from having to walk home, he has his motor car equipped in above fashion.

An early bike rack, from 1896

There are some problems, but not too serious. The two examples above were pulled from the trade journal, "The Wheel and cycling trade review," which Flickr identifies as being from 1888, but that is when the magazine started - these images are from 1896, which can be determined by looking at the links to the pages where the images appear in the digitized publications like this one.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Etape: The Untold Stories of the Tour de France's Defining Stages (Book Review)

EtapeEtape by Richard Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read Moore's "Slaying the Badger" about the competition between Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault (known as the Badger) - it was a compelling read about the Tour de France towards the end of the "pre-EPO" era.

Moore is a good writer, and this is a well thought out selection of stages. The use of EPO is not ignored but doesn't overwhelm the stories, either.

I didn't realize it before starting in, but the author did interviews with most of the key participants in the stages he described to prepare this book - this contributes considerably to the quality of the book.

View all my reviews of cycling books in Goodreads.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Videos on Cycling in the Netherlands

Other than the first and last ones, I have included these in previous blog posts.

Utrecht summer cycling 2014

Slow paced review of the kinds of riders one typically sees in a Dutch city.

Cycling in Amsterdam 1950

"More than three million two-wheelers in Holland" - usual U.S. newsreel voice over of the time.

Dutch cyclists talk helmets and bicycles

The discussion of helmet use reflects considerable difference from the reaction of most people here, but then the Dutch are riding in a very different environment.

Are there really too many bikes in Amsterdam? from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Video response to a silly NYTimes article claiming that there are "too many bicycles" in Amsterdam.

Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective

A short documentary-like presentation.

Infamous (more than a million views) compressed rush hour in Ultrecht - 2 minutes

Rush hour in Ultrecht in real time (not sped up)

Timelapse Weesperzijde / Nieuwe Amstelbrug Amsterdam from Bernard Wittgen on Vimeo.

Parke Davis' employees leave work, many on bicycles

We have video of a significant percentage of employees leaving a U.S. workplace on bicycle, but unfortunately it dates to 1899. Between then and now, things changed.

YouTube channel "Bicycle Dutch - All about Cycling in the Netherlands" is a good place to find more video of cycling in the Netherlands.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Loop-the-Loop Images - Finding Them

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Blog has a blog post that includes a digitized photograph of a cyclist performing a loop-the-loop on a bicycle in 1905. I had a blog post of my own describing the same thing, looking at images from Chronicling America (digitized newspapers) from 1902. I thought if these images were online I would have seen them, but apparently not.

Title: [Diavolo performing his bicycle daredevil act before a large audience]
Creator(s): Mathiessen, G. Fred, photographer
Date Created/Published: c1905.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Summary: Photograph shows a large crowd watching a man riding a bicycle upside down doing a loop and topsy turvy somersault.

Title: The Loop
Date Created/Published: c1903.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Summary: Man riding bicycle around loop, at circus.
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-58887 (b&w film copy neg.)
Library of Congress

Title: Looping the Loop
Date Created/Published: c1903.
Medium: 1 photographic print.
Summary: Person going around large upright loop on bicycle.
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-89003 (b&w film copy neg.)
Library of Congress

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bicycling Essential Road Bike Maintenance Handbook

Bicycling Essential Road Bike Maintenance HandbookBicycling Essential Road Bike Maintenance Handbook by Brian Fiske

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

So this is mostly a rant and not a review, I suppose - and not really justified (much) since I didn't waste my own money on buying it but looked over a copy from the public library (that however used my tax dollars to buy it . . . )

As noted in the Goodreads summary, this is an abbreviated version of a much longer reference book on road bike maintenance - this is supposed to be a version you can take with you.

Really?? (As they say ~) Is there someone who does that, carrying a how-to-repair-my-bike-book with them? I am doubtful. I think this is more an attempt to repurpose content already created for one container that Rodale sells into another one that costs little to create.

If you are going to spend money on a how-to-repair-a-bike book, you might as well get a good one - for me that would be the Park Tool Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair. It provides enough detail to avoid getting into too much trouble and one might even get some useful things done correctly.

Perhaps part of the problem is that I take a bike with a title like this to include "the essentials" but it is somewhat amazing how much obscure stuff is in this tiny book. 15 pages (of 166) on Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS V2! When your book includes this much information on these, your audience is clearly people who don't know when to stop spending money.

And there are just random oddities - the photographs and line drawings are downsized versions, but for a how-to book, they then lose their usefulness in many cases. Dang.

Perhaps the most useful part of the book are the "seven rules of bike repair" on a page at the beginning of the book. The first rule is, "think safety first" that includes the advice to wear rubber gloves (to protect against solvents, as far as safety is concerned) but in all the (little) photographs, the hands are bare. "Do as I say, not as I do." Fantastic.

View my cycling book reviews on Goodreads.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bicycle History Program at Library of Congress August 8

Staff at the Library of Congress have organized a display of items from the collections related to bicycle history, which is described in a blog post and a press release.

From the blog post: The Library’s curators and specialists are gearing up and pounding the pedals for an exciting tour of the Library’s collections related to the history of cycling for visiting historians of the International Cycling History Conference. On Friday August 8, 2014 from 1:30-3:00 p.m. the Mumford Room, in the Library’s Madison Building, will be the hub for a special display of “Pedaling Through History: A Look at Cycling Collections Across the Library of Congress.” This special display is open to the public and will feature over 20 tables of show-and-tell items in all formats on the art, history, and science of wheelmanship (aka cycling).

From the press release: The display will draw from collections throughout the Library. There will be photographs, magazines, newspapers, comic books, maps and atlases, film footage, catalogs, sheet music, advertising posters and more. These materials will highlight an array of topics, including general bicycle history, European bicycles, bicycle races (including races from the early 1900s), bicycles in the military, trick riding, safety films and fashion.

The following divisions of the Library are contributing to the display: Science, Technology and Business; Prints and Photographs; Geography and Map; Manuscript; Rare Books and Special Collections; Serials and Government Publications; Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound; European; Music; and Humanities and Social Sciences.

Déesse 16, rue Halévy, Paris - a poster of the sort to be on display

Sunday, July 27, 2014

1902 Bicycle Demonstration Centrifugal Force

How a Thrilling Circus Feat Teaches a Scientific Law

From the Anadarko [Oklahoma] Daily Democrat, May 29, 1902.

This article, reprinted from the Chicago American, describes the effect of centrifugal force, (which I thought was centrifical force but that's apparently not the better term) on a cyclist in a high speed loop. I should admit, I'm not sure if the 1902 physics is correct or not. The same article appeared in the North Platte [Nebraska] Tribune, May 16, 1902 and the [Louisiana] Jennings Daily Record, May 26, 1902 - it was fairly common for human or general interest articles to be reprinted in this way across the country.
The bicycle "loop" presents a most interesting demonstration of a great scientific principle, which plays its part in preventing the earth from dropping into the sun, and the moon from being precipitated upon the earth, no less than in keeping the rider and his wheel from falling to the ground when he hangs, head downward, In midair, at the top of the loop.

A different article about a particular example of such a loop-de-loop was published that same year around the same time in the Cook County Herald, May 17, 1902 (Grand Marais, Minnesota). The second article is more interesting for a cyclist since it describes the particulars of his bicycle.

A group of circus men, newspapermen and photographers last week saw a dare-devil bicycle rider loop the loop at Coney island. With no other aid than the velocity accumulated by a rush down a steep incline the man rode up the concave surface until he hung head downward and continued on down out of the loop to dismount, cool and collected, 100 feet away. The bicyclist was Robert B. Vandervoort, an electrician, who has gone over the loop-the-loop railroad known to almost every visitor to Coney Is­land until he has come to look upon centrifugal force as a real, tangible thing.

Vandervoort's wheel is one especi­ally constructed for the daring ride. It weighs about sixty-five pounds, has pneumatic tires on broad rims of steel, no pedals, no chain or gearing and no brake. There is no way for the rider to stop himself once mounted and in motion, except to fall off, and there is no mechanism to allow of the rider's attaining motion. It has two footholds for the rider's feet, where the crank shaft os a bicycle usually is.

The same idea, but running rather than riding a bike ~

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cycling and Drones

In a blog post a few days ago, I discussed a video of a mass cycling event in June in Moscow. I didn't think much about it at first, but the aerial shots were not done by a helicopter but by a drone (or drones).

At 1:31 there is a drone visible in the upper left of the frame

This was surprising to me since one wonders about the permissions required to fly a drone for an event in Moscow - I have yet to see any drones hovering around the National Mall here in Washington. Perhaps in Moscow such things are easier?

Of course people are still thinking up things to do with drones - thanks to Amazon, the notion of having drones as delivery vehicles is out there, even if it may turn out to be impractical. As a kind of hip joke (but to get the students to ask questions about library services) the University of Virginia claims to be developing a drone-driven Air Freight Delivery Service for library materials. (I am aware that there is no connection to bicycles directly in this, but I'm a librarian. So humor me.)

Apparently the idea of delivery by drone is more real than delivery by bicycle messenger

I suppose that in the future many bicycle races could be filmed by drones - it isn't quite as spectacular as the real time coverage by helicopters as in the Tour de France.

As I said, people are still trying to come up with ideas for drones - in January a design company suggested the "cyclodrone" that would "be configured to fly ahead of and behind a [solo] bicycle rider on roads to improve visibility and reduce the chances of being struck by a vehicle." Somehow this seems . . . very unlikely. Even more unlikely than delivering library books by drone.

However preventing accidents involving bicycles and cyclists is clearly good. I just read this news item with video about a Russian teenager who was "run over by a truck" and survived, apparently without serious injury.

Caught on camera: [Russian] Teenage cyclist gets run over by 20 tonne truck - and SURVIVES [from the land of the dashboard camera]

The article states: "In the UK, heavy vehicles are disproportionately represented in crashes resulting in deaths and serious injury of cyclists. In London they make up just 5 percent of traffic, but are involved in 50 percent of cyclist fatalities."

Perhaps we did need escort drones.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Moscow & Washington - Cyclists & Infrastructure

Whatever else may be clear, Washington supports bicyclists more than Moscow - of course, Moscow's climate isn't particularly bicycle-friendly much of the year. (I do have plenty of people who don't think Washington's summer weather and humidity are very bike friendly either, but the problem isn't to be compared with riding in Moscow's snowy roads treated with huge quantities salt and chemicals.)

Nevertheless there is some advocacy in Moscow for cycling - for "bicycle culture" (velocul'tura) and seeking more cycling infrastructure, present on the Internet via this site and this site and a few others. (No, I don't know why the one Russian organization has a name, "Let's bike it" that is in English, not Russian.) The online map of cycling infrastructure in Moscow mostly references bicycle parking and rental, not bicycle lanes or trails, which are apparently pretty limited.

Recently the Moscow city transportation department and a number of informal and commercial organizations organized the third annual "Bike Parade" on June 29th in downtown Moscow, attracting thousands of riders for a 16 kilometer (around ten miles) ride on a closed course, much like Bike DC that the Washington Area Bicyclist Association used to organize as a fundraiser (although I guess they had some permit problems this past year). There was a fairly good video produced and available on YouTube of the 2014 Moscow "Veloparad." (I am not sure that having a car company, Opel, as a sponsor of a bicycle event would happen in most places other than Moscow ~)

Московский Велопарад 2014 - the 2014 Moscow bicycle parade

As I said above, I think of Washington as being ahead of Moscow in "velo-culture" but this past week a Washington Post columnist set things back somewhat by writing a column in which he suggested that DC area cyclists are "terrorists" and that perhaps a 500 dollar fine for hitting one with one's car isn't too high a price to pay (entitled "Bicyclist bullies try to rule the road in D.C."). Charming. (I only learned about this second hand; I don't pay for the online or paper Washington Post because it is so much worse than the newspaper I grew up with and giving them any of my mind might signify approval of their present editorial views and approach to journalism - also, it turned out to be quite easy to live without it.) The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has a response to the cyclist=terrorist column and others organized a lunch-time ride to the Washington Post to protest.

The 1986 Washington Times published regular full pages of news and information for cyclists, wanting their readership-imagine that!

Unfortunately since I don't subscribe to the Washington Post, I can't cancel my subscription in a huff. Oh well.

To circle back to cycling in Moscow, the comments at the end of the video (embedded above in this post) are what you would expect about how much the ride was enjoyed, but two of the comments say that the riders were sorry the ride was not longer, which I think is surprising since ten miles for something like this in a city like Moscow seems pretty good. (Oddly I could not find a map showing the route and only found in one place mention that the length of the ride was 16 km.) They were certainly lucky with the weather and it looked like great fun.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fast Commute to Work

My route from south Arlington to Capitol Hill

According to the GPS driven app on my phone, the distance from my front door to work is 9.25 miles using my usual bike route. Today, thanks to some wind from the south (which is unusual in the morning), it took only 34 minutes and 18 seconds and my average speed was 16.2 mph.

Just to be clear, I'm not someone who obsesses about the speed of my bicycle riding efforts, but someone was asking about how far my occasional lunchtime jog is and I now have a so-called smartphone and found an appropriate app, so I was curious mostly to know what it would report as the distance of my commute. Years ago I estimated using Google maps that it was around 9.6 miles, so apparently I was a little high since it is almost exactly 9 1/3 miles. Oh well. I was amused today when I used the app riding in when I realized that the wind was coming from the south and that I would be a "fast" time (fast for me) because that wind pushing me up the river makes a difference. I don't think there are too many days where my commute is under 35 minutes. (Again - not that I'm paying much attention.)

Fanciful sail-bikes from 1894

One of those ideas from the 1890s that didn't catch on.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July Fourth Bicycle Race, 1902

From the the New York Tribune, July 5, 1902, an article about a bicycle track race on July 4, 1902. (I on the other hand went to Nationals baseball game today.)



The largest attendance of the year — fully eight thousand people — witnessed the bicycle races at the Vailsburg track, near Newark, yesterday. While no records were broken, the sport was excellent throughout, and the onlookers watched the finishes of the races with the closest attention. The weather was a little too warm for the spectators, but was of the ideal sort for the racing men, who do their best work when the sun scorches the pine ooze out of the board track.

Vailsburg is a merrymaking sort of a place. The enthusiasts who went to the track yesterday carried their pockets full of firecrackers and pistols. When a finish was to their liking the men and boys arose to their feet and let off noise and din, giving full play to their patriotism and satisfaction at the same time. When Kramer defeated Lawson, just returned from abroad, there was a fusillade of fireworks which made the rafters of the grandstand tremble.
And how did [Eddie] Bald win "in clever fashion?"
Bald, who had a lead of 100 yards, was in in good position from the start. Entering the homestretch Bald was in front riding with all of his oldtime fire and spirit, with nearly a dozen riders in a close bunch behind. One hundred yards from the wire one of the riders In the front rank went down with a bang bringing down five others with him. This left Bald with a clear field before him. He won by nearly twenty yards. None of the riders who fell were severely injured,

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tour de France in the American Press - 100 Years Ago

I'm confident that there was more reporting in the U.S. press 100 years ago than I found, but there certainly wasn't much in Chronicling America. In fact, I just found the one story from 1913 (not 1914).

From the New York Sun for July 28, 1913. This would seem to be all the coverage for that publication for the entire race.


Winner Covers Distance In 197 Hours 54 Minutes

Special Cable Dispatch to The Sun.

Paris, July 27. The bicycle race round France, which began on June 29 with 140 competitors, wound up to-day, The total distance of the race was 3,387 miles and It was run in fifteen stages.

Twenty-five survivors started in the last stage of the race this morning from Dunkirk to Paris, a distance of 212 1/2 miles. All of these arrived here within twelve to fourteen and a half hours. The two leaders made the same time for this leg of the race, 12 hours 5 minutes.

Theiss [actually, Phillipe Thijs, of Belgium] won the first prize of $1,000, besides other prizes for different wins at various stages. He made the total distance in 197 hours and 54 minutes. Garrigou, who finished second, went over the entire route in 198 hours. The first and second men averaged more than seventeen miles an hour for the 3,367 miles.

The race was run again in 1913 but then World War I intervened so that the next running after that was in 1919. Note that in this article, the phrase "Tour de France" does not appear; it is "the bicycle race around France."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Four Mile Run Detour Re-Opens

This past Monday the detour for the Four Mile Run trail near the south end of National Airport was removed. The section of the trail that was under the bridge that was removed (see above) was widened somewhat and is edged on the inner side with some raised concrete. Work was being completed yesterday but the fences that enforced the detour were completely removed, so I am fairly sure it is OK to say the detour is done. It was open again this morning on the way to work.

The photo above shows the trail east of where the detour started - you can see that the bushes have taken over some of the trail while the work has been going on. Presumably Alexandria (I think this part of the trail is theirs) will send someone along to trim things up.

I was stopped to take this photo and blocking about 1/3 of the trail. The fellow in the photo came upon me and said, "excuse me" in a cranky tone which I took to be his way of complaining that I was blocking his speedy transit of this area. I don't know why people don't communicate more directly. What he clearly meant was, "you are in my f---ing way." Oh well. Mostly other cyclists seemed extremely pleased that the detour was over. I agree.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

31.5 Pounds of Fun

Pink Electra Townie - 31.5 pounds

This bike belongs to my wife but I ride it to and from a shopping area that is about a mile away on the weekends sometimes. The three-speed hub shift reminds me of riding a bike-share bike except it has a coaster brake, which takes some getting used to - it also has a rim brake for the front wheel, which does most of the real work of stopping.

The odd geometry that makes it possible to put one's foot on the ground easily while sitting on the seat works for me OK but I sort of feel like I'm hanging on the handlebars somehow.

I guess some components are heavy - given that the frame is aluminum tubing, 31.5 pounds seems a lot. But then the kickstand probably ways several pounds . . .

Sunday, June 22, 2014

How Bicycles Are Built (in 1896)

How Bicycles are Built. (article)
Author: Monroe Sonneschein
Publisher: [Chicago : : R. Sonneschein], June 1896.
Journal title: American Jewess : Vol 2 : Issue 9.; Page(s) 457-465.

This article provides a surprising type and amount of information compared to others I have seen from this period, particularly since it was intended as a tutorial for women readers assumed to know little about bicycles who would use this information to inform purchase of a bicycle. (While I think it is a interesting article, I'm not so sure that much of what is covered would be useful for a successful bicycle purchase, however.) I think it is worth looking at the entire article - here are some highlights:

HOW BICYCLES ARE BUILT. This article is written with a view of enlightening the purchaser of a wheel, who, as a rule, knows nothing about the construction and mechanical advantages of one bicycle over another.

Scientific men who have made bicycle-building their study all agree that the construction of a modern safety is one of the most delicate and intricate problems in mechanics, easily taking rank with locomotive or bridge-building. In most high-grade wheels there are about one hundred separate and distinct parts. Including duplicates, there are some seven hundred and fifty pieces in all. The puzzles and conundrums propounded by the wise men would seem easy of solution in comparison with the task of assembling the parts of a bicycle into one compact, rigid and smoothly-running machine. It is an undertaking requiring the highest degree of mechanical intelligence.

In a gun,"the factor of safety," as it is termed by engineers, is never lower than 12, which means that it is designed to be 12 times stronger than the strain it is calculated to withstand. In general machinery, the "factor of safety" is from 4 to 5; but in a bicycle it is but 1 1/4, in order that the machine may be as light as possible. It can therefore be readily understood that the greatest care must be exercised in its manufacture.
Guns are designed to be safer than bicycles?? Apparently.

Image from the book "A Wheel Within a Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Ricycle. . . " by Frances E. Willard, 1895. This book is available here - hdl.handle.net/2027/wu.89098879422

More from "How Bicycles Are Built:"
A bicycle frame must be designed to withstand all manner of strains, such as longitudinal, tortional and vibrational, and their many combinations. It must stand up well in collision and the shock consequent to a fall at high speed. And right here let me state that too much rigidity in a frame is almost as faulty as not enough of it.

The bearings of a bicycle are perhaps its most interesting feature. The wear upon these parts is almost constant, and the material used should be of the finest steel tempered in oil all the way through, and not only case-hardened, because casehardening is merely hardening the outside of the metal. When such a temper is used, the hardened surface soon wears through; and the balls, reaching the softer metal of the inside, in a very short time eat away the bearing.

After the frame, the putting together of a bicycle wheel is the most important step in cycle-building. Each spoke is tested to support a hanging weight of not less than 1,000 pounds. The hub-the foundation of the wheel-is turned from a solid bar of steel. A hole for the axle is bored lengthwise through its center, as well as many smaller holes in the flanges around the outside of its ends, to hold the spokes.

In the wooden rim there is, of course, a hole for each spoke. These holes are "countersunk," and "washers" are introduced to prevent the spokes from pulling through the rims; for it is an interesting fact that, while the weight in a wooden wheel stands on the spokes, in a bicycle wheel it hangs on the spokes, the spokes above the hub supporting most of the weight. Were it otherwise, the wheel would quickly collapse; for while the tiny wires are capable of bearing an enormous lengthwise strain, they would immediately bend under a trifling compressional one.
Wheels with rims made from wood were still common at this point.
There is no device known to mechanics which minimizes friction to so great an extent as the ball-bearing. Running parts equipped with it may truly be said to possess the poetry of motion; yet how few among the thousands of wheelmen understand its magical workings!
The complete articlehas additional details about bicycle manufacturing practices of the 1890s.