Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bike Thief...

Merry Christmas and a Happy Fist to the Face.

Santa's got a black belt
Okay... alright. Breathe. Let me get the nice bit out of the way so I can get one check mark on Santa's good list before I set that on fire too. (Just kidding! Or am I? Only Santa will know...)

This bicycle thief is a pro. Pier 39 is a busy place. The thief had to have a focused plan and execute it flawlessly- that plan was to steal my locked up bike. Lovely. Truly. This thief had to have self restraint and determination, a focused intention- the other bikes next to mine were untouched: lights and even helmets and other accessories were left for someone else's heist. Go figure. Take the locked up bike. Nice. So, well done bike thief. I take my helmet off to you. Good work, @$$hole. I hope a car finds you in the best possible way.

I think I started burning the nice note a little prematurely there. But anyway, that counts for the year's nice points. I gave a genuine, heartfelt compliment to the jerk for his work. Sure, I burned said compliment and threw it out in front of oncoming traffic... but you can't escape the fact that it was a good job. The thief got the bike... and hopefully a car door, too.

I'd be a little less jostled if the bike wasn't a primary mode of transportation. Elevating this situation to the next level, I'd argue that the thief stole my life. Granted, I still have my two feet... which I made sure to murder outright by running across Costa Rica.... so I'm a bit handicapped at the moment. I've been thinking of alternative modes of transportation like utilizing the very limited bus system, but the weekend schedule is more crippled than my feet. I went so far as to consider roller-blades. Yeah. That's right. Roller-blades. The thought just screams desperate. I need to figure out where to go from here and how I'll get there. It's going to be a painful journey in every possible way. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time... and bike thief's beware, the wheels are turning.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bye-bye Big Blue

Big Blue was stolen today. She was a good bike. Now she's someone else's good bike. Whoever and wherever the bike bandit is, I just want to say: Well done! And wear a helmet- preferably not the one you stole with the bike because it's already been through a couple crashes... Oh, and you might want to have her tuned up- she's nearly 7 yrs old now. Obviously, you should purchase a new lock, too.


Goodbye, Big Blue. My bum will miss your cushy seat and fat tires.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ThinkBike San Francisco Rolls Out Ideas

The two day ThinkBike summit in San Francisco was an inspiring bi-national endeavor focusing on methods to improve conditions for biking in the city. Local leaders, transportation planners, and community members coordinated with the Netherlands Consul General and Dutch transit specialists addressed key topics in bicycle safety, utilization, and functionality in their survey of three study areas:Central Market,Polk Street, and "The Wiggle".

Central Market
This specific portion of Market Street is part of SF Route 30 (map) but lacks designated bike lanes. While traffic volume is relatively low on Market Street itself, the cross streets are heavily utilized connecting commercial centers to highways. Intersections are dubious at best for even the most cautious and experienced bicyclist.

Polk Street
The northern section of Polk Street consists of one lane of traffic in each direction with parking on both sides of the street. It is considered a commercial corridor, running parallel to Van Ness Avenue (US Route 101). Particular attention will focus on determining if a separated bicycle facility would be possible without being blocked by double-parked vehicles or impeding current traffic flow.

The Wiggle
The WiggleThis mile-long route, aptly named The Wiggle, winds through residential and commercial neighborhoods to minimize hilly inclines for bicyclists. It offers westbound riders an attractive alternative to mashing up Haight Street hills by "wiggling" up much more manageable inclines.

"Since the purpose of the wiggle is to even out/avoid the steep incline getting into the upper haight, on the way back you can just as well sail down Haight St — check your brakes, or your fixie skid marks or what ever." (San Francisco Wiki, 09/21/2011)


Bicycle safety in the city is a major concern and deterrent for would be bicyclists. However, with the installation of dedicated bicycle facilities and the rising number of bicyclists on the road. Riding a bicycle in the city is an incredible safe method of transportation. Bicyclists can improve their own safety by following road rules and wearing safety gear. However, drivers can greatly improve bicycle safety by being aware and considerate of bicycle traffic providing 3 feet clearance when passing riders on the road. San Francisco is improving and expanding dedicated bicycle facilities and general bicycle awareness and tolerance is quite good in the city.

Utilization goes hand in hand with functionality. Simply building a bike lane does not guarantee its use. Efficient corridors must be identified and then improved upon for optimal bike usage. Bicycling should be a more viable mode of transportation in the city than driving. Functional, efficient routes which can be utilized by bicyclists from 8-80 years old are pivotal in this movement. Hills can be daunting, traffic can be frightening, but with improvements in infrastructure coupled with an informed and enthusiastic community, San Francisco is truly one of the best bicycle cities in America.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Waves to Wine 2011

It was a wonderful weekend riding my bicycle beside the 2000 other cyclists during the annual Bike MS: Waves to Wine Ride. Now in its 28th year, the two day event is famous for its picturesque routes with various mileage options, appealing to both new and experienced riders alike. Saturday's 100 and 75 mile route took riders on a breathtaking tour from San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge, over Mount Tamalpais and up the California coastline on scenic Highway 1. A 40 mile option weaved around Northern California's wine country, merging with the 100 and 75 mile routes for the finish in Rohnert Park. On Sunday, riders rolled out on a beautiful 75 or 50 route through classic vineyards and golden rolling hills.

Armed with tools, a spare tube, an emergency number, and a cue sheet, I was a Ride Marshal for the weekend, acting as both a good will and safety ambassador for the National MS Society and Bike MS while on the road. Over the course of the event, I helped fix a flat, examined a squeaky pedal, enforced safe riding procedures, and made sure that people along the route were well taken care of while enjoying the ride. It was a nice change of pace to have the extra responsibility while on the road and to share the experience with my Ride Marshal buddy since I've grown accustomed to riding solo. Needless to say, I was worn out after the two days of marshaling, but I couldn't have had a more worthwhile weekend on my bicycle.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hubs n' Wheels

Today was day 2 at the United Bicycle Institute in Portland, OR where I am attending their bicycle repair and overhaul mechanic certification course. Yesterday we focused on the assembly and disassembly of hubs and discussed the finer details of their purpose and function; while today was dedicated to building a wheelset using our assembled hubs.
Hub day was pretty straight forward. Introductions and book keeping took up the first hour of class, but we quickly dove into a discussion on the importance of accurrate measurement and the development of current bicycle hubs.
In front of every individual was a front and rear hub which we were tasked to disassemble, clean, and inspect at our workbenches. After a quick overview of proper hub assembly, we put the pieces back together, more or less the way they were at the beginning of the day- maybe with a few extra pounds of grease.
Class was dismissed early, just before 5, and a few of us from the Friendly Bike Guest House joined Dave, a recently found Portlander, for food and drinks at Amnesia, a local low-key brewpub with an excellent IPA and tofurkey. We warmed ourselves up at a table and enjoyed the drinks, food, and company. Even though we were out of class, our conversation cycled 'round bicycles. After Eric and myself expressed some grief at not having wheels here in Portland, Dave offered to lend us bikes during our stay. Awe struck by his generosity, we meandered through NE Portland after dinner and picked up our new wheels. Eric got a sleek steel roadbike with pink camo handlebar tape while I received a blue cruiser with coaster breaks- it's the sweetest ride since ever.
Wheel day was today. With introductions out of the way, we got straight into building our symetrical 32 spoke 3-cross wheelset. The first half of the day we prepared our hubs by loading spokes into hubs and lacing our wheels. After lunch we added tension to the spokes and then trued and dished our wheels to ensure optimum roundess and a quality build. For better or worse, much of my time was spent trying to true wheel with a cracked rim... why does every bicycle around me crack? Of course, once our wheels were inspected our task was to disassemble them. The wheel build is one of the more time consuming and sometimes frustrating aspects of this class, but most everyone pushed through and had a wheelset by the day's end.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Greetings from Portland, Oregon!

Today was a flurry of activity as it was my first day in one of America's most bike friendly and "up-and-coming" cities. The weather was unexpectedly sunny but the sunshine was deceptive as it was bitter cold. Even so, I trekked about the Mississippi, Rose, and Pearl districts, traversing my way on foot while musing over the abundance of bike lanes and cyclists that used them. While discovering Portland's neighborhoods I happened upon a number of venues and local hotspots that I hope I can devote some quality time to in the future.

I'm staying at the Friendly Bike Guest House for the next two weeks. The guest house is one of the nicest places I've stayed while traveling- it's spacious, clean, and it has a basement with a home bike mechanic setup. Not only that, it's just a stone's throw away from the United Bicycle Institute where I'll be attending a Bicycle Repair and Shop Operation two week intensive class. With such a nice place to stay, I wish I had made a vacation of this trip!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Best I Ever Had

Ah, freak out!

I never will forget the day we met
Girl I’m gonna miss you

I hope you were mildly entertained by the music videos above- at least more so than when the LBS confirmed that the crack on Tank!'s top tube was more than just a paint chip- or when I discovered the horizontal crack on the side of the TT just below the one in the picture. Lovely.

So there I was... riding a compromised frame and since carbon fiber deteriorates from the inside out, it was difficult to gauge just how insane I was while riding Tank!. Though, after a few days to letting the idea of my bike snapping in half marinate in my mind, I finally decided to let the bike rest and went on the search for a replacement frame or bicycle- whichever was more financially feasible.

I wandered the west coast (not so far and wide from San Francisco). Combing the local bike shops, I retold my sob story. I received some empathy, a few sales pitches, and advice on where to get a Giant frame, though in the end I settled on a replacement bicycle- a wicked closeout deal on a 2010 Specialized Ruby Comp (above).
She's pretty... and blue... and not cracked; the last 2010 Specialized Ruby Comp in the company and in the smallest frame size- perfecto!

I knew the bike would be a good fit since a salesperson had me ride around on a 2011 Ruby just for kicks and giggles- we both knew I wasn't dropping a few grand on a bicycle right then and there. But we both didn't know I'd find a closeout on last year's model in the exact same frame size!!! It's ridiculous. It's phenomenal and I'm pumped to have a bicycle that won't break in half while I'm riding. She's no Tank! but she'll do.


This blue angel is en route to my LBS and should be ready for pickup on Friday. I'll use Tank!'s pedals and my scuffed up shoes from Bike & Build for the ride home. I just hope the shop doesn't judge me too much when I roll out. New pedals and shoes are an investment that has taken the back burner what with having to replace Tank! and all... I'm just looking forward to getting back on the road