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.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Cyclist Safety - Is it Really that Hard to Understand??

I found this on the Internet, from the govt of the state of Georgia.


Abstract: An accurate understanding of the expected effectiveness of bicycle and pedestrian safety countermeasures is needed to support decisions about how to best allocate limited public resources to increase safety for non-motorized users. However, the kind of data necessary for developing Highway Safety Manual (HSM)–style safety performance functions for bicycle and pedestrian treatments are not currently available. Limited research has been done to date about the impact of bicycle and pedestrian treatments, and most studies are not robust enough to draw broad conclusions. Most agencies surveyed valued safety as a key component of their decision to implement infrastructure, but most did not collect enough exposure and crash data to adequately assess the safety impacts. The two major challenges in using crash records for bicycle safety research are that crashes in general and cyclist crashes specifically are underreported, and pedestrian and bicycle crashes are rare events. Therefore, GDOT should pursue case-control approaches in the immediate and build toward more robust data collection, including new sources for bicycle and pedestrian crash data, counts for exposure data, and site-specific before-and-after treatment data collection.

As I read this, bicycle and pedestrian accidents are sufficiently rare and/or not reported that their approach will be to wait until there are more reported accidents and then study the subject. But in the meanwhile . . . after all, those resources that you might allocate are limited. Etc.

Also, the pseudo-military phrasing, "expected effectiveness of bicycle and pedestrian safety countermeasures," sounds like it concerned with measures to oppose rather than support safety, but who knows. And why do they refer to "bicycle and pedestrian safety" and not "cyclist and pedestrian safety?"


Saturday, October 6, 2018

When Is an eBike No Longer a Bike?

This Gazelle (from the Netherlands) appeared on the bike rack in the garage where I work.

eBike example at work

I am amused (or something) by the seat on the bike rack, which I guess is intended for a child too large for a conventional kid's bike seat. It would put a fair amount of weight relatively high up.

The entire bike is quite heavy. Out of curiosity I tried lifting it by the back rack and I would guess the whole thing is at least 60 pounds. So a certain amount of what the electric motor is doing is assuring all the bike's own weight gets down the road, before it starts in with the rider. Or riders, in this case.

Given the weight, I would expect hydraulic disk brakes, but it has conventional rim brakes. Perhaps you aren't expected to go that fast, but with this much weight and rim brakes, you would have less stopping power than you might want and go through brake pads at a pretty good clip. You would probably go through (expensive) wheel rims much more often than most people expect (which I think is typically never - people don't expect to wear through wheel rims with rim braking).

The Gazelle USA site suggests this kind of eBike costs somewhere upward of $2,500 - many of their models are around $3,500.

I guess because of the cost (value?), the owner of this thing has a chain that he uses to lock it to the rack. Most people do lock their bikes to the rack in this garage, but I don't see the point - there is no public access to this garage. I prefer to keep the time I don't spend messing around with bike locks. And certainly I don't carry a massive chain with me! Or any chain, actually. I use the strap on helmet through part of the frame to assure the bike doesn't fall down during the day - this is the worst sort of bike rack for that.

One realizes how things change looking at this - the Dutch Gazelle bike aesthetic (or something like that) for me was always a simple, mostly steel bike - utilitarian and simple. Ageless. This thing has heaps of plastic (that will most certainly age poorly) and I don't think "simple" is a word that comes to mind, although I guess it is utilitarian.

P8070917_2 Gazelle Toer Populair
"A Timeless Classic" from user MacFred64 on Flickr (CC license)

This probably pigeonholes me as an aging cyclist frump of some kind. Oh well.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

New Video (from 1965) "Magic of the Bicycle" (from Schwinn)

Part of the Library of Congress National Screening Room.

Summary: From MacDonald inventory: Historical profile of the development of the first bicycles beginning in the 1800s--various bicycle models shown; high-wheeler, bike without peddles, etc.--first bicycle w/ sprocket and chain gear--newspaper boys delivering paper on bicycles--new bicycle lanes open-up--bikes used in industry and businesses; bikes used to delivery tools to business--bicycle used for adventure trips--couple enjoys romantic time bicycling in the wild--housewife and mother uses bicycle w/ shopping basket to go grocery shopping, "She will save money on gas!"--film promotes bicycling as a good family bonding activity and good for health--bicycle race around track--Jackie Hines, Olympian bike rider and others shown--bike safety features of new model shown--interview w/ Dr. White on the importance of bicycling for good health.

One wonders what the audience was for this promotional video, or where they would have seen it, but clearly Schwinn spent very little on having it created. The doctor who speaks on the health benefits of cycling at the end appears at about 17 minutes into it and takes up about five minutes - he might get 45 seconds today.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Commuting Choices (Mine)

1995 Trek SingleTrack 930 as commuter
1995 Trek SingleTrack with right set up makes a good commuter

I have a shoulder problem that has meant I had to cut back on bicycling. For a while I wasn't riding at all, which wasn't much fun. Thanks to a cortisone shot, I am riding some now, commuting to and from work most days, which is about 19 miles round trip.

Initially I didn't want to carry my stuff in a backpack or messenger bag as I usually have for more than five (?) years, so I put a rack and fenders on my Trek SingleTrack. This is a good commuter, and the fact that I paid only $65 for it amuses me. Because I started using Metro here and wanted to get the transit subsidy, my agency's transit subsidy person told me I couldn't keep a bicycle parking permit for our garage. This turned out to be wrong, but for a while I was locking up my bike outside during work and I wasn't willing to park a bike that would be sad to have stolen.

Bridgestone Sirius with (cheap) fenders
1982 Bridgestone Sirius appeals to me more

Fortunately I was able to work out the business with the parking garage and have decided I can use a backpack, so I riding this bike again, which is zippier than the Trek and somehow more fun. Don't get me wrong, the Trek would be an outstanding "I can only have one bike" bike, but since I seem to insist on having 4-6 ridable bikes, the one I want to ride to work on most days is the old Bridgestone.