Saturday, February 28, 2015

Indoor Trainer From 1896

Very little (that isn't digital, or made of carbon fiber) for bicycles is all that new.

Page with ad as printed.
RIDE ON THE STURGIS HOME TRAINER The most startling thing of its kind ever invented. You simply put your own wheel [bicycle] on, mount, and ride straight ahead, just as you would on path or track. No fastening or support of any kind. Very little noise. Rollers are connected, and power is transmitted by chain; steel bearings; rollers are adjustable to resistance.
It is interesting that this photograph, part of an ad for this new product, was taken outdoors when the product was intended for indoor use. Since this publication was not for cyclists but for the bicycle "trade," it emphasizes the possibility of bicycle sellers to use this device for teaching new riders how to ride a bicycle, but the "testimonial" in the ad also talks about the usefulness as a training method.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Back to Bicycle Commuting

Mount Vernon Trail bridge near National Airport - solid ice

Last week Monday was a holiday and the government (and my job) were closed due to weather. The remainder of the week I went to work by Metro. It was the first week when I worked the "full week" (or as much as was available to work) and didn't ride one single day to work on my bicycle. Ugh.

Today I took my heavy yellow monster and rode to work. The trails in Arlington and roads in DC were fine, but the Mount Vernon Trail was not great. In the morning some of it was slushy, which presents traction issues if you slow down. The temperature fell during the day and most of the way was frozen solid on the way home. I ended up riding more than I would ever do otherwise using the small ring on the front of this old mountain bike, spinning very slowly in the lowest possible gear.

This bike has 1.95 inch wide mountain tires that have studs - amazingly it is possible to ride along at a slow steady pace on conditions like this bridge without difficulty - frozen ruts are the biggest problem.

Since I stopped to take some pictures and stopped somewhere else to talk to a guy and generally was riding pretty slowly, it took me close to an hour and a half to do what should take 45 minutes at most in regular weather.

An odd trade off with tire pressure - I ran with the tires at 50 pounds per square inch, which is somewhat too soft for the miles where the roads or asphalt trails are bare but is certainly too hard for conditions like what is in the photograph. A compromise, but not a great one.

Somewhat embarrassingly I will take Metro again tomorrow, because it will be colder and I think I am up for this every other day but not every day.

Where is spring?!?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Online Bicycle Travel Magazine "Bunyan Velo"

Bunyan Velo Issue 5

"Bunyan Velo is a quarterly collection of photographs, essays, and stories celebrating the simple pleasures of traveling by bicycle." An example of the amazingly well executed publications that are available online for free. This particular irregularly published magazine features more articles that are longer with more photography than anything you would subscribe to published in print on a regular basis. My only quibble is that it is too much!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Presidents Day, Jimmy Carter, and Cycling

Whippet172 on Flickr has a ten year old photo of Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn with their pair of Rivendell bicycles. I should not embed the image in my blog without permission, which I don't have, but I can link to it).

President Carter was the first president for whom I cast a vote, while living in Leningrad USSR (where my father was working at the time) via absentee ballot. More recently I saw President Carter give a speech at American University in Cairo in 2008 while I was working there for some months. I strongly admire President Carter, both his time as president and his activities since leaving elected office.

Not the photo I was searching for!

I was looking for a photograph of President Carter riding a bicycle where the he and the bicycle are in motion, and in which he is not wearing a helmet. (The photograph occasionally appears with some remarks criticizing him for the lack of helmet.) Instead I found th rather different photograph (above) in which President Carter is also not wearing a helmet, but does have some headgear. And that isn't a Rivendell bicycle.

Flickr user Buster&Bubby has this information:
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter biking in Yangshuo. According to a tourist web site: "In 1987, The USA president Jimmy Carter visited Yangshuo, his wife and he insisted that went around Yangshuo countryside by bicycle. Since that time, Rent a bicycle go around Yangshuo countryside has become the first choice to the tourists." Photo from lobby of our hotel.

Aha, I found the famous (or perhaps not so famous) photograph I was looking for. What do you know, he is riding his Rivendell.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Riding with Horse-Drawn Traffic the Library of Congress A cyclist appears about 2/3 through this short film, riding in with the horse drawn carriages. Riding in traffic with carriages and horses almost makes riding with automobile traffic look relaxing.

Title - South Spring Street, Los Angeles, Cal.
Summary - From Edison films catalog: Various equipages pass, including a tally-ho and six white horses. A peculiar, open-end trolley car comes along; bicycle riders and pedestrians. 50 feet.

Advertised as part of the "Southern Pacific Company Series" (Edison films catalog): The Southern Pacific Company ("Sunset Route") offers special inducements to winter travelers, by reason of its southern route, thereby avoiding the extreme cold of the winter months. Its course lies through a section of the country that presents a variety of beautiful and picturesque natural scenery. It is also the direct route to the popular resorts of Southern California, thereby making it a favorable route for tourists. The following subjects were taken by our artist while traveling over the very extensive lines of the Southern Pacific Railroad Co., to whom we are indebted for many courtesies, and without whose co-operation we should not have been able to bring before the public these animated photographs of interesting and novel scenes (p. 43).

Created / Published - United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 1898.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

WMATA Bus Driver & the "Rule of Law"

I don't usually blog about my commute but I had a silly interaction with a Metro 22A bus on my way home and ended up writing this long complaint in WMATA's online complaint form and thought, having spent so much time typing it up, I would "reuse" it here.

View Larger Map

The above Google satellite view shows how Arlington Mill Dr deadends into Walter Reed. The two left lanes are controlled by a light and are for turning left. Shortly before the intersection, a new lane is added on the right that goes into a cutout for right turns. Between the right turn cutout lane and the two left turn lanes is an island for pedestrians or cyclists from the trail to cross either Walter Reed or Arlington Mill.

Both the 22A bus and I (on a bicycle, on the trail) were proceeding away from Shirlington towards Walter Reed. I wished to proceed in the crosswalk across the cutout and then across Walter Reed to the trail on the opposite side. The 22A bus wished to turn right. Although the operator saw me approaching the crosswalk on my bike, she proceeded into the crosswalk and only stopped when she realized I was right beside the right side of her bus and that if she continued she would run into me. After she stopped and I stopped, she then started inching forward, but I banged on the bus and went around in front of the bus and explained that in the crosswalk I had right of way. (Which I believe is true - in Virginia the law seems to be that motor vehicles must yield to persons in the crosswalk, which includes mounted cyclists.) The operator's response was that "I have the green light."

I believe the operator is wrong about that - I don't think the stoplight on the island is to control the right turning traffic in the cutout but rather the two left turn lanes, but it isn't obviously one way or the other. (The main reason I think this way is that the crosswalk I was in comes into the cutout at an angle and is not controlled by any pedestrian signal.)

However I am willing to concede the operator is correct, but I think it makes little difference. Safety is supposed to be a priority in public transit operations and an operator whose first thought is about the green light she missed and not the cyclist she almost killed is displaying lack of professionalism in the worst way.

I intend to talk to the Arlington Police about the intersection and the traffic control, but again I am primarily concerned with the poor and aggressive driving attitude of this operator. I would note by contrast that every work day during the school year, I approach this intersection from the opposite direction and there are always school buses waiting to turn right in the same way as your bus driver was. In every case the school bus driver yields to me as I come across Walter Reed and then cross that cutout in the crosswalk.

You should be embarrassed that the school bus people do it right (regardless of the applicable law) and your operator is so poorly trained.

I would appreciate a response that the operator has been spoken to. The operator will likely report that I seemed excited. Well, yeah. After tangling with a city bus, one's pulse rises 100 points.

Good day to you.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bike Mechanic: Tales from the Road and the Workshop (Book Review)

Bike Mechanic: Tales from the Road and the Workshop (Rouleur)Bike Mechanic: Tales from the Road and the Workshop by Rohan Dubash

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I saw a one-sentence description of this somewhere and thought it was a bike mechanic memoir, to complement the many "my days as a road cyclist" books available. "Bike Mechanic takes a look inside the daily life of the unsung heroes of the peloton, the bike techs who keep the stars riding." But in the book itself, one reads, "this book is a collection of stories with some tips and hits that we thought would be useful to amateur mechanics and road cycling enthusiasts alike. It certainly isn't comprehensive; there just wasn't space."

The book table of contents is as follows:

The Daily Grind
Bike Washing
Team Car
The Truck
Team Garage


Frame and Forks
Bottom Bracket
Contact Points
Cleaning and Lubrication

The "On the Road" section is the closest to describing what being a professional road race bike mechanic is like, but this is only about a quarter of the 272 pages; the remainder are a somewhat whimsically selected look at the tools, workshop, and use of these tools for caring for high end road bikes.

Although a paperback, this is a nicely produced book with good paper and well reproduced photographs.

The two authors convey stories or instructions on how to carry out a mechanical procedure with equal skill. They know their subject and their writing is interesting to read as well.

The photography is by Taz Darling - some of her racing photography is available online. The book includes both action oriented photography and the kind of photography appropriate to a "how to" book; both types are executed well.

If there is a drawback, it is that there is so much in it and I still am not sure of the best way to attack a book like this. I read the first third or so in a conventional start to finish way, but eventually started jumping around.

View my reviews of cycling books on Goodreads.