You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2009.

What the hell is going on in Maryland this summer?  An Elkridge teen was killed this weekend by a drunk driver who was in possession of heroine and who had a previous drug charge.  This is very sad.  Our thoughts go out to this young man’s family.

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I never posted much from Washington with everything that happened in August (tragedy, pregnancy news, being sick, etc.).
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On a Friday, we were catching the Metro to Dupont Circle to visit a bookstore we really like (Second Story Books), and we walked past the IRS building.  On a bike rack, this orange beauty jumped out at us. A Yuba Mundo.
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Not knowing we are pregnant, we admired it in a sort of abstract way.  But I’ve been thinking of cargo bikes lately, for a possible purchase in the next year or so.  And this bike has been hacked nicely!

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If you read Timbuk2’s blog, you probably saw this very cool bag a few months ago.  Lots of people asked them to make/sell it.  And now they are.  Display your pride/support of everyone’s right to share their life with who they want to. Available here (only in Small size).  They are also working on panniers.  They said this a year ago, but now they have pictures of them being tested!

Nate Evans on the planning of bike routes around safe streets and crime at The Baltimore Sun.

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As what I suppose is the first mention of it here (unless you read my blog), one of our NBBB-type folks is pregnant! ElRo (my lovely wife) is pregnant, and we’re hitting the first official OB appointment today. As you can guess, her stomach is doing bizarre things, and some of the things she used to like aren’t jiving (Nutella, I hardly knew ya….). Likewise, hunger pangs rarely follow meal times. So I concocted what we’re calling Mommy Mix — trail mix you can eat whenever and wherever the hell you want to.

When I go hiking and camping, there is a limit to how much “modern” or “high-tech” gear and methods I have the patience for. “Leave No Trace” is awesome. Waterproof gear not made of thin nylon packcloth is awesome. Stormshield tents are awesome. LED flashlights are awesome. Teva sandals are awesome.  Dr. Bronner’s soap rocks my world (even at home.)

However, there are some things that I cannot abide, like dehydrated food, energy gels and energy bars, etc. (No offense meant of you like them. That’s cool. I’m saying what I like. Go ahead and start a blog about what you like if you think this stuff is the best thing ever. I’ll promise to read it.) I was an Army Brat, and I grew up eating all kinds of dehydrated food for fun.  I’m totally over it now.  If I’m burning enough calories to need an energy bar/gel, I’m probably hungry, too. So I’d rather, you know, eat some good food. I guess the problem comes in when you eat any old food like greasy/salty chips and sugary sodas. I’d rather get the nutrients I need to keep going from somewhat normal food than something bizarrely engineered (which is often unfriendly to vegetarians like myself anyway).
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So when I hike, camp and cycle, I try to think of what I eat rather than supplementing it with other stuff. And if I’m doing something that requires stamina, I like me some trail mix. Last time I went for a long hike, I made my own with:

Various salty nuts (!)
M&Ms (dark!)
Vanilla yogurt covered raisins
Something cheesy I can’t remember (mini somethings with cheddar)
Maybe a tiny bit of good pretzels (but not used for cheap filler like the crap you get at the store)

I also made a batch for my father because he was hiking with our group, and he would have made me some if I were still a little guy. It was coveted by all. I mean, here were folks with pretzel-laden junk mix that they probably spent more money on, and my trail mix had only the stuff I like in it, in the proportions that I like.  I was the envy of my peers.  Luckily for my peers, I like to share and did so.

Dan and I usually score coffee and chocolate when we cycle. Riding in Chucks/Tevas with fenders, racks and cargo shorts, we’d look pretty silly gulping down energy gels while our stomachs growled (see above parenthetical statement if you’re a fan — I ain’t looking for no fight, hon). Dan brought some very delicious chili pepper chocolate to Moonlight Madness, and here I am a month later still thinking about that yummy stuff. We enjoy goodies when we ride.  I think I might start concocting cycling mix as the weather winds down to something cooler. Something that goes equally well with coffee, water and beer.

What would be in your perfect mix of cycling/trail mix?

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And I am not kidding.  I replaced a spoke today, did a little truing, and it’s very very tempting to go ride in the storm.  But I think I’ll walk to the grocery store and play in puddles on foot instead today.
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At Baltimore Spokes.  Is it me, or does this email from the police sound almost hostile or, at least, annoyed?

Edit:

The Baltimore Sun reports that the cyclist was officially at fault, despite conflicting accounts of whether and when BCPD found the truck and also a statement that the investigation is not over?

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I love to travel.  I haven’t gotten into traveling by bicycle yet because most of the traveling I’ve been able to do in recent years is light and last-minute and short.  I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like, but I’ll bet there are few people who wouldn’t say the same thing.  I’d love to get into bike touring once my dissertation is defended and my second AmeriCorps year is over and my life gets a little more stable.

In DC a few weeks ago, we saw stands for the bike sharing program in Washington called Smartbike DC.  One was even pretty close to our hotel.  If we had more time, it would have been lovely to ride around, even to the Tori Amos concert we were in town to see (my early 30th birthday present).  But we weren’t there long enough, and, well, it didn’t work out this time.
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But, dang.  Washington is flat!  At least, compared to Baltimore it is.  And those bikes look fun to ride.  Next time.  Next time!

More Tori and cycling fans!

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Who’s up for a short (10-20 miles) ride Sunday morning? At least Dan and I are meeting at the Watertower a little before 10:00am, to roll out at maybe at 10:00am sharp. Bring a Thermos of your favorite morning beverage, or — knowing us — we’ll stop somewhere for coffee/tea/juice anyway!

[I know: "wake-up" ride at that time? I'm working on my late-sleeping habits.]

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I was going to post this while down the beach but given the recent events I decided to hold off until now. So here it is…

My original plan was to ride from 139th to the OC inlet at the end of the board walk but, after careful consideration, recommendation of a local and a reader of this blog, I decided to ride North instead. I, liking to beat myself up, decided to begin my ride around one p.m. on the hottest day we where down there. You know 90 some degrees with 100 heat index. Whatever, it’s flat on the shore, right? Anyway my first stop was of this watch tower.

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For anyone who doesn’t know, these towers are haunting reminders of how close German subs came to our coasts in WW II. I’ve always been fascinated with these concrete sentries. I think they’re creepy in a neat sorta way. Moving on, I next rolled into the town of Bethany. In my opinion this is what a beach town should look like.  Quiet, sandy and lived in. I pasted the Bethany bike shop. I don’t think I have to explain why I took a picture of this.

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I wasn’t ready to turn back towards home so I continued North on 50. Before I knew it I was looking 2 miles down the road at the inlet bridge. I road down alone side the bridge where there is a parking lot for folks wanting to fish, go to the beach or out on a boat. There I took a water break and a few more pictures.
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After hydrating a bit I jumped on my ride and headed home for the day. The ride took me about 2 hours to go up and back, with a few breaks of course. Over all total mileage was just under 25 miles. It was a very relaxing ride. I highly recommend it. The only draw backs are no shade and you are riding on 50 where vehicles pass you are doing, well, 50 or so. That was the most surprising part of my ride is that I did not feel unsafe on 50 at all. Delaware really has it together when it comes to bike lanes and markings for them. The lanes where very clearly marked and there was signage everywhere saying “Look out for bicycles” which, is much more to the point than “Share the road”.

Maybe next time I’m “danny oshin” I’ll ride South. I think that with be in the off season.

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Zack and Dan and I had coffee tonight with Zack’s four month old son.  Then Dan and I took a long walk around Hampden, Rolden and Roland Park, sipping root beers, talking about the direction this blog has been heading lately.  When we started this website and our tongue-in-cheek bike “club”, we had nothing in mind but fun.  Why blog?  To spread the fun.  Environmental issues aren’t going to get as many people to ride bikes as posting pictures and paragraphs about having a fun ride will.  Maybe I’m just hedonistic?

I fully realize that I am largely to blame for the recent negativity.  Perhaps some of my recent posts would have been better on my personal blog (five years and going strong!).  In my defense, seeing a fallen cyclist in the road does tend to breed negative thoughts and feelings, and reading hateful comments on The Sun doesn’t help.  But we have to work to get past what happened and to get moving toward remembering why we cycle in the first place: it’s fun.  Yes, it’s good for the planet, good for your body.  But the best reason to ride is that it’s the most enjoyable way to get anywhere.  If we could hear Mr. Yates, he’d be telling us to get out and spread the cycling message through example and a smile, not through angry words.

We promised ourselves we would not use this blog only to complain about cars, about any segments of the cycling community (roadies, hipsters, Freds, etc.), about politics.  While we’ve done (I think) a good job of not being divisive about cyclists, we’ve gone and slipped into some us/them mind-set lately.  Cars/bikes.  Drivers/cyclists.  That’s just stupid.  I only know two cyclists who don’t have cars, and I’m one of them.  Hell, you could argue that it’s good for cyclists to have cars because each of them is one more driver who looks out for other people.  That’s an example we could all use on the road.  Everywhere.

And certainly lumping all drivers together because of people like The Sun‘s commenters and the people who yell at us is as bad as the folks who lump us all together because they see cyclists running redlights and nearly running over pedestrians.

Something gnawing at me says, “Mr. Yates just died last week!  We can’t act happy when the police haven’t even found the truck yet!”  But ask yourself this, as I have: What would you tell us if you were Mr. Yates?  I‘d say to keep riding.  To have fun and let everyone know it.  I‘d say that focusing only on danger and tragedy forever isn’t going to get butts on saddles.

So, in the spirit of lightening up, I give you Roxy, who looks like she ran into a wall.
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[Roxy photo by ElRo. Evil Crack Monkey drawing and photo by Johnny.]

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During the developments of the cycling tragedy in Baltimore last week, I found myself needing something else to think about.  I had been sick (cold and fever) and home and technically on vacation, so I decided after finishing what work I had to do from home (that I missed earlier that week) to see how well I really trued my wheels last week.  With it being so late and my being so tired, I wondered if I really did a good job.

The sound that I thought was my rim hitting my brake pads before I trued them was still present.  I took off the tire and tube and put everything on my truing stand.  Noise was still there.  It was almost like a scraping sound.  Quick fix: might be the dork disc (Zack had this problem last year).  Took off the cassette and dork disc, and the sound was still there.  I thought it might be my hubs or axle.  I opened everything up, re-adjusted the hubs, got extremely messy.  Noise was still there.  I didn’t feel like overhauling my hub and even less so when I realized the front hub was making the same sound.  These are new wheels, and I haven’t gotten to ride in any serious weather yet.  So I trued the wheel again (not leaving well enough alone) and put everything back together.

Then that night, it hit me.  It was the rubber seals rubbing the hub body.  Had to be.  So I took Mr. Wheel off again and removed the cassette and both rubber seals.  The noise was gone.  I even asked the ever patient Eleanor R/Frankie to lend her ears.  She agreed.  I put the seals back on, and the noise was back.  BINGO!  Specifically, it was the seal that went into the body of the freehub.  I wasted two and half hours during a nice summer afternoon, when I could have been watching a movie or reading or taking a walk on my vacation.

So, if your hubs are making a noise, rule out the rubber seals (if you have them) before you tear everything apart like I did.  Unless you like tearing things apart.  Which I do, so I guess that day last week wasn’t exactly a waste at all.

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So says Jack Conahan in The Baltimore Sun:

Our self-righteous pedallers will argue that they are reducing emissions by having one less car on the street. They neglect that the hundreds of motor vehicles they impede burn far more fuel following them in first or second gear than they would in fourth or fifth gear if the bikes were absent. Let them ride public transportation, which would certainly benefit from more fares.

Read the rest (and leave a comment pointing out the multitude of complete BS in this article).

Hmmm, cars don’t actually burn more gas in low gear when they are moving slowly.  In fact, if cyclists make cars drift, that saves gas.  But even that’s a smoke screen.  You know who’s responsible for the planet-killing effects of your car?  YOU ARE! If you’re so damned worried about pollution, why are you driving?!  And if you can get your car into fifth gear in city traffic, you’re driving too fast.

I am very, sincerely, utterly sorry if I am the cause of you not being able to drive up Charles Street at 45mph.  Really I am.  You’re right.  I concede.  You pay to register YOUR car and to put gas in YOUR car to pollute MY lungs.  You’re out more money than I am, and I have MUCH more fun on my bike than you have on your way to work in your car.  So.  Okay.  You can have Charles Street on your way home.  We’ll all get out of your way because you have to pay for your own car.  I know — who would have thought you should have to pay for your own license and registration and insurance?  What?

Oh, yeah.  You pay for your license and registration because you are paying for the right to drive your car around other people.  You’re not paying for the road.  That’s paid for by taxes we all pay.  That’s right.  I don’t drive a car, and I have to  pay for the road you ruin with your car through my taxes.  I don’t pay for highways, but I don’t use them either, not personally.  And anyone that delivers me something via highway pays it themselves.

And you pay for insurance because of all the other people (because I’m sure YOU are a safe driver) who run their huge metal boxes into other people and their boxes and ruin their metal boxes and hurt and kill people, even people walking or cycling without big metal boxes.  In short, you’re paying insurance because cars are dangerous, not because it’s some toll giving you sole access to the road.  All the money you pay is because you ruin the road, because you pollute the air, because you hurt people.  You pay these things because of the nature of cars, which is to trample the road, people, other cars and the environment.  These are not your ticket to claim everything paved.

The fact is that most cyclists own cars (not all; I don’t), which entitles them to the road under your criterion anyway, i.e., that they pay for it.  And guess what?  The rest of us pay for it, too.  They are called taxes.  Do your research into how they’re spent before venting your anti-cyclist issues a week after one of YOURS killed one of OURS.

If you think licensing and insuring bikes will lead to better bike life in Baltimore, that’s just naive.  Even with bike lanes and sharrows, drivers like  you act like they/you own the road.  What we’ll have is licensed bikes getting hit by cars, rather than unlicensed bikes.  Car drivers/owners pay for licenses, insurance, everything you want us to pay for already.  Do YOU have great infrastructure?  Hell no.  “Your” roads are crumbling, and it’s not from bikes.

The problem is one of attitude.  And your post illustrates this attitude (this problem), not some solution you think you’ve found in paperwork, fees and bike-sized license plates.

One can boil down 2/3 of the comments on The Sun to some weirdly Rush Limbaugh-esque assumption that being contrary is the same thing as being intelligent.  Well, hell, I’ll play along.  I’m being contrary about your contrariness, so I must be much, much, much smarter than you are.  Bow before my towering, contrary intellect!

Seriously, though.  How can the only “official” news agency to show up for the memorial ride go ahead and print this shameless, low-brow nonsense all the time?

mayor_1_0809Dear Mayor Dixon,

I am writing as a native of Baltimore City, a resident of Baltimore City, as a huge fan of your administration and as a cyclist.

Please let Baltimore keep its first (and hopefully only) Ghost Bike.  As a cyclist, I’m sure you know what we’ve all been feeling in a city where some people think that it’s an acceptable course of action to go onto The Baltimore Sun’s website and leave hateful comments in the wake of a real person losing his life in a violent manner.  After getting yelling at, dodging potholes and bracing ourselves as cabs ride too fast and too close, we’d like to keep this symbol of the vitality of the Baltimore cycling community and this reminder of a very good life cut needlessly short.

I believe that a certain news station jumped the gun in telling its viewers that our Ghost Bike would be removed, maybe because their footage of it was a day late and fifty participants short of the event that only The Baltimore Sun showed up for Sunday night. Given all the good that you have personally done for cycling in Baltimore — and for making Baltimore a better city to live in generally speaking — I am confident that our Ghost Bike isn’t going anywhere. It’s your Ghost Bike, too, as a member of our cycling community. And, more than the press might be giving anyone credit for right now, you certainly know what this memorial means to cycling and to Baltimore.

Thank you for myriad things, not the least of which, keeping this memorial where it is.

(This idea was totally stolen from Harry. Or, rather, it is Harry’s challenge met. Will you complain when the Ghost Bike is gone, or will you email Mayor Dixon, too?  Do it!  And post your message here as a comment!)

mayor@baltimorecity.gov

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May he Ride In Peace.

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