Archive for category observations

Berenstain bears ride bikes

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“Bears on Wheels” by Stan and Jan Berenstain

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How every bike lane should be.

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in the saddle…

I’ve set out in the rain and come home dry, or mostly dry.

I’ve sat comfortably behind big men, the ones that are as wide as Volkswagen Beetle.

I’ve dropped those same men.

I’ve been dropped by women.

And old men.

I’ve set out in the sunshine and come home wet.

I’ve stopped, not because I needed to rest but because I wanted a moment to take it in.

I’ve sat up when the gap was too big.

I’ve had road rash.

I’ve run red lights.

I’ve been defeated by headwinds.

And Coleman Valley Road.

I’ve stopped for wildlife.

I’ve been honked at.

And yelled at.

And waved at.

And smiled at.

I’ve slowed down to chat with strangers.

I’ve taken turns at the front.

I’ve been stopped by the police.

I’ve underdressed.

And overdressed.

I’ve suffered.

But mostly, I’ve had fun.

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you call that exercise?

From our spam:

riding a bike is not a wkuoort. Exercise?you call that exercise? You sit down then move your feet in a little circle.

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Counterpoint

We got a small amount of grief last night regarding Heather’s post I’m talking about you @SchwankyTown. So, I thought I’d expand on the comment I made in response to the post and pull it out here for all to read.

I’ve rolled through stop signs. Both on my bike and in a car. Intentionally and because I wasn’t paying appropriate attention while driving or riding. Same with stop lights. Also, I’ve been pulled over, both in a car and on a bike.

Of course, there are a few laws I think could be improved. I’m a big fan of the Idaho Stop Law and wish we could implement something similar here in California, and, with a few exceptions, red turn arrows have always seemed pointless to me (I won’t go into detail, let’s just say they only add value if there at an intersection with a blind approach). None of that gives me license to break the laws I disagree with and not expect consequences.

What I mean here is that I’m not trying to defend cyclists who break the law. They shouldn’t do it.

But, even if a driver sees ME blow through a red light, he doesn’t earn the right to knock me down with his car door (which, I’m sure, isn’t what Heather was saying) and he certainly doesn’t earn the right to knock some other cyclist down with his car door. That driver also doesn’t have the right pass closely, honk, drive in the bike lane, or yell at every cyclist he passes (again, not what Heather was saying).

Cyclists, too, need to get over it. Some Lycra clad roadies will run red lights and some skinny jean wearing hipsters will ride the wrong way down one-way streets. We should be encouraging not criticizing. So, scofflaw or not, get out and RIDE.

-Michael

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Since we’re being honest here

Sooooo I got pulled over the other day. Yes by a real cop. I was also *hangs head in shame* on my bicycle.  Now why would I rather be pulled over in my car than on my bicycle you ask? Well honestly I’d rather not be pulled over at all but my reasons for my detesting it more on my bike than in a car are should probably be left to another post entirely.  So back to my story…

The scene played out as follows: I was riding in a residential neighborhood, in the bike lane, down a slightly down-sloped road and I quit pedaling, coasted, took one hand off the handlebars & held my finger to one nostril, turned my head & blew my nose.  I noticed, at the very moment of ‘snot ejecting’ that I was flying right through a stop sign.  Oops!  Good thing there wasn’t anyone around (or so I thought).  I came to the next stop sign, slowed up, stood up on the pedals, came to a near track stand (the cyclist’s ‘stop’ at a stop sign) and seeing that there wasn’t anyone around, I let go of the breaks to continue on.  However, the second I let go of the breaks to roll through, I heard the oh-so familiar ‘woop woop’ of a police officer’s car siren.  Ah MAAAAAN.

The conversation went about as much as expected.  I did admit that I blew through the previous stop sign because I was blowing my nose (not an excuse, just a reason) but that I did come to a ‘stop’ at the next one! I was honest and I smiled but alas in the end, I did receive a ticket (which apparently doesn’t affect your car insurance or go on your record because you are in fact, not driving a car) but I will have to pay some kind of fine.  Fine.

Not long after that, I was at a restaurant bar for a quick dinner & to try their house-beer.  There was a couple there who were ‘bikers’. I feel I should now explain the that there is in fact a definitive difference between a ‘cyclist’ and a ‘biker’.  A cyclist is someone who rides a pedal bike wearing lycra.  A biker is someone who rides a motorized bike wearing leather.  At this point in the conversation they asked me what it is that I ‘do’.  I paused and then said ‘Well, I race a bike and I coach cyclists’.  ‘Really?!’ They proclaimed that they would never ride a bicycle but rather a motorcycle.  In order to keep myself on good terms, I exclaimed that I do in fact have my motorcycle license but that I don’t own a motorcycle.  Whew!  I was saved.  Oh but wait……

The couple and the bar tender proceeded to complain about cyclists.  Their general disgust for us ‘taking up’ the road, making them wait, causing them to have to drive around us etc was quite apparent.  Okay fine. But then….

They talked about how they heard someone drove up next to a whole group of cyclists (peloton) who were taking up the whole lane, opened their car door and took one of the cyclists out.  They then started laughing.

What?!?!

Okay this is where I couldn’t just sit there and listen anymore.  I looked quite seriously as them as said ‘You realize that’s assault with a deadly weapon don’t you?!’

The laughing and conversation quickly stopped.  However, it wasn’t 15 seconds later when one of them waved their hand dismissing the gravity of my accusation and practically yelled ‘Well cyclists don’t obey any of the laws! They don’t stop at stop signs and they don’t signal!’

They were right. There are way too many of us who do that. It only takes one of us to completely blow through a stop sign or change lanes in traffic without politely signalling to turn the general public against us and further our difficulty in gaining a voice in legislature or sponsorship dollars for the sport in general.  That doesn’t excuse their complete lack of humanity regarding an obviously life-threatening act. I still think I win. While I’ve always signaled my intent to turn or change lanes while riding my bike, I’ve also started ‘bike stopping’ at every stop sign.

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that’s not so bad…

One of the things that happens when you show up to the office in Lycra shorts everyday is that people, those who aren’t busy scoffing at or ignoring you, ask, “so, how far is your ride?”

I suspect this is, in part, a bit of posturing; an attempt to indicate that the person asking the question is, indeed, a hip, open minded individual who has no problem with any other person, even if that other person’s idea of a good time is riding around on a bicycle with very tight shorts.

Either that, or they’re just curious (but simple curiosity doesn’t fit into my current world view in which all people have strong opinions about cyclists and what they wear).

The question doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, and this may be surprising to hear, I very much enjoy talking cycling. So I tell them, as casually as possible, “oh, about 8 miles.” They sometimes follow-up with, “about how long does it take?” To which I respond, “a little less than an ½ hour.”

You’ll notice, I do not say “7.9 miles here and 8.05 home,” or, “on average 27, minutes. My PR, with fully packed bag, mind you, is around 25:42, that was going home. I find it a bit more difficult to warm up in the morning.” I don’t say all of that because I’m worried I might feed this person’s idea that all cyclists are elitist, self-absorbed snobs who will sacrifice life and limb to be ranked first on some random Strava segment.

We wouldn’t want any of that.

“About 8 miles.” I don’t even specify that’s each way, it’s a subtle message that I don’t care if they think my commute is half as long as it actually is. “A little less than half an hour.” Or, I don’t even care how long it takes.

In fact, I do care about those things which is why I don’t want to talk anymore when the response is, “oh, that’s not too bad.”

Indeed, it’s not too bad if you’re pro, semi-pro, weekend warrior, daily bike commuter or my daughter on her Skuut, but when you’re the dude who complains about having to park too far from the building, an 8 mile bike commute is, almost certainly, pretty damn far.

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Attention Children: Bikes are Dangerous

Hey, look, LEGO included a cyclist in the LEGO City Town Ambulance set:

Hey, look, the cyclist is being loaded into the ambulance because cycling is dangerous and always results in a trip to the emergency room:

Hat tip to @thekvr.

Also:

We added a key element to the Lego bike crash. Speeding car r... on Twitpic

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flip…

…because today we get a little more daylight than yesterday.

Update: (12/23/2011) Because I can’t read a calendar, in fact, today is the first day with more light. Start flipping.

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Are urban bicyclists just elite snobs?

I honestly think that if you live in a city, then you are morally obliged to read this piece:

Welcome to the new urban order: the Jag-driving New Yorker columnist is a philistine better suited to the suburbs of Wichita. Meanwhile, the city’s bicyclists are an entitled, imperial cabal cruising around on Trek Bellville three-speeds, an insidious locus of unchecked power and influence. How is this possible? As the blog Bike Snob NYC put it,someday in the future, “humanity will marvel that there was once an age in which a mode of transportation as inexpensive and accessible as the bicycle was considered ‘elitist.’”

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