Thursday, November 8, 2012

Make Room For More Cargo By Losing The Smugness


I beheld this wonder on my ride to the office this morning.   Portland may be the nexus of the xtracycle world, but here in Salt Lake City we haul our cargo by bicycle too.   I would have liked to ask the owner a few questions about this thing but he was 'sleeping' under a nearby tree and I was afraid to disturb him.   I did get close enough to see that it's held together entierly by bailing wire and zip ties.   This man is taking cargo bikes where no man has gone before.   Who says Utahns have lost that
pioneering spirit? 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gettin' Lucky

Lucky ryan

My buddy Ryan is a lucky man.   He got hit by a car this summer.  Not once, but twice.   That makes it three times he’s been hit in
his bicycle commuting “career”—four if you count the time he almost killed an
overly friendly bull mastiff
.  The first two
incidents involving cars were hit-and-runs, so he didn’t get to cash in.   The third time he got hit, last month, the
driver actually stopped to make sure Ryan wasn’t dead, but he was uninsured so
Ryan once again didn’t hit the jackpot. 

I suppose that doesn’t sound very lucky, really, but I will
say it again:  Ryan is a lucky man, and
not in the sense that “if it wasn’t for bad luck he’d have no luck at all”
either.   Every time Ryan got hit he was able
to walk away relatively unscathed. 
Although he looks pretty scathed in the picture above if you ask
me.   The thing that makes him so lucky is that his
wife still lets him commute on his bicycle.  

BaconSee, Ryan is a father, breadwinner (that’s an old fashioned
way of saying he brings home the bacon) and NPR donor.  There are people who depend on him, public
radio freeloaders like myself included, and he can’t really win bread if he’s
laid up in traction after a careless driver fails to see him—and fails to hear
him crash into her car two thirds of the time. 

On a recent ride Ryan and I were talking about ways to avoid
the kind of luck he’s been having.  In
general, we decided are two approaches to lowering the probability of getting
hit:  1) Make yourself easy to see, and
2) reduce your exposure to traffic.  

I know Ryan is pretty good about making himself easy to
see.  He’s uses lots of flashing lights
and wears a dork jacket (Dork Jacket pictured here), and he says he’s planning to look like a rolling
Christmas tree when he commutes this winter.   
Reducing your exposure to traffic can be a little more difficult.   Part of that is living close enough to your
place of employment that you’re not out on the roads as long every day.    Another part is choosing a commuting route
that avoids the arterial roads and winds through residential streets instead.   Not only is this safer but the people
watching in some of these neighborhoods is much better.  

Ryan thought of another way of reducing exposure that I have
been doing, somewhat subconsciously, for some time.  He said he is going to avoid commuting at
rush hour.   It’s so simple that most
people never think about it, but I’ve noticed it myself.  If I arrive at my office at 8:00 in the
morning the traffic is much thicker and the drivers are far dumber than if I arrive
at 7:45 or 8:15.   I like the idea so
much that last week I told my boss I was going to shift my work schedule to
where I would start my day 20 minutes after the hour and end it 10 minutes after
the hour—not the same hour dummy, I’ve got to put in a full day like everybody
else—and the difference is very real. 
Less traffic and more courteous drivers. 

So what other ways do you use to avoid getting lucky like
Ryan when you’re bicycle commuting?  I
read recently that cyclists should be just a little erratic when riding in traffic.  Throw in a little swerve here and there,
etc.  to keep drivers on their toes and
make them aware we’re out there.   I don’t
know how I feel about that technique, since I think rider unpredictability is
one of the leading causes of motorist/cyclist disharmony, but if it makes
cyclists safer it might not be a bad idea.  
But what else have I missed?  How
can we make Ryan’s wife more comfortable with his bicycle commuting? 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Manhood Restored

I like to thumb through old newspapers—doesn’t everybody? –and
recently came across this ad in the June 29, 1900 edition of the Salt Lake

Red Devil

I marveled at the thought that Salt Lake City once was the
nexus of bicycle racing in America, and at how the Salt Palace, now just a
dingy old convention center, was home to the best velodrome in the
country.   For only 10 cents I could see a
five mile professional race, the terrific Australian Pursuit and other grand amateur events.  Then to top off an
already perfect evening, they’ll throw in two Vaudeville performances after the
racing.   That’s what I call a dependable

Then I noticed the ad immediately below the Salt Palace ad and
can’t help but wonder if the Terrible Swede and the Red Devil weren’t the
target market. 

Manhood Restored

This great Vegetable Vitalizer, the prescription of a famous French
physician, will quickly cure you of all Pains in the Back, Seminal Emissions,
Nervous Debility, Pimples, Unfitness to Marry, Exhausting Drains, Varicocele
and Constipation.  It stops all losses by
day or night.  Prevents quickness of
discharge, which if not checked leads to Spermatorrhoea and all the horrors of
impotency.  CUPIDENE cleanses the liver,
the kidneys and the urinary organs of all impurities.  CUPIDENE strengthens and restores small weak

I had to look up spermatorrhoea and varicocele.  They sound worse than "all the horrors of impotency". 

But even more horrifying is the juxtaposition of these two ads.  Is it just an unfortunate coincidence
or is the myth that cycling causes impotence over a century old?   If it’s the latter, why is there always a
French Doctor involved when cyclists turn to drugs to enhance their performance?  Either way, after a race
season like the one I just finished my manhood needs restoring.  I wanna try some of that CUPIDENE!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

No Luck of the Irish For Me

Stage 3 Finish

I raced in the Mountain Bike Challenge Lough Derg Stage Race in Killaloe, Ireland last week.   I had a real shot at making the podium but some bad luck in the form of a dropped chain (made worse by my comical attempts of untangling it under hypoxic conditions) in Stage 1 and a flat 'tyre' in Stage 3 pushed me down to 13th overall.   I wrote a story about it over at, which you can read here

Below is my favorite photo from the race, according to the guy in the hi-vis vest I was the only racer to ride this climb.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

90k to Go

Last spring I wrote about how my cyclocross bike was approaching 10,000 miles.   I didn't ride it much over the summer so I didn't hit that milestone until I mounted my fenders on it for wintertime commuting.   Since turning an odometer over to all zeros is kind of a noteworthy occasion, I figured I would video the moment.   Imagine my surprise when that fifth digit showed up on the left side of the screen.  Now I have to ride 90,000 more miles to turn it over.


Even though I didn't turn it over to all zeros, 10,000 miles on one bike is quite a milestone.   I think I'll celebrate with another pilgrimage, this time with a Gaelic twist. Check back soon.