Monday, February 4, 2008

Sad News in the Bicycle World

The bicycling community has lost a wonderful member... none other than Sheldon Brown, whose website I referenced on my blog only last night. Apparently, he suffered a heart attack Sunday night and passed away. He will be sorely missed.

There's a brief notice on his website, at:

I never got a chance to meet him, but he was a tremendous help to all of us, through his website, through his participation in the cycling community, both online and in the physical realm, and from all I've heard, a good man.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

It's fun to have a stable of bikes!

It's true, I enjoy owning a stable of bikes. Or maybe it's a squadron.. or a fleet? How many
does it take before it's a fleet? Well, a squadron of aircraft is generally between a dozen and sixteen, so I guess I have a squadron.

Anyway, one reason it's so fun to own a bunch of bikes is that you can take turns riding them. How do I decide which bike to ride on a given day? Well, part of the decision is which ones are in good riding shape at the moment, of course. Beyond that, if it might rain, I pick one with fenders (more on fenders in the future), if I'm pretty darned sure it will stay dry, I pick one without. If it's snow and ice, it comes down to the Miyata with studded tires. If I know I'll be riding in the dark for a significant time, I might pick one with the dynamo hub front wheel. And then it boils down to mood... which one do I FEEL like riding?

Sometimes I'll go quite awhile without riding one particular bike, for some combination of the above reasons. Which then leads to a period of "rediscovery" with that bike when I do ride it again. That happened just recently with my 1993 Bridgestone XO-2, shown above. I hadn't ridden it in a few months, and just the other day pulled it out to ride to work. I was reminded of how it differs from my other bikes, and what I like about those differences. The single most striking difference is that while the frame is based on road bike geometry and tubing, it has 26" "mountain bike" size tires, rather than the more typical 700C size of road bike tires. This results in a really interesting ride. A smaller diameter wheel will accelerate and decelerate more quickly than a larger diameter wheel, all else being equal. Now, most mountain bikes use pretty big, chunky tires. My XO, on the other hand, has lighter, narrower tires (currently 1.75" Paselas, but I've often ridden it with 1.4" Tom Slicks) than a mountain bike, so they accelerate pretty quickly. Basically, I find that compared to my Miyata 1000, which has 700x37 touring tires (about as wide as the XO tires), the XO-2 accelerates more quickly, yet is just as comfortable on rough surfaces. Compared to my Trek 414, with 700x32 slicks, I'd say acceleration is nearly the same, but the XO absorbs bumps better.

All of that aside, it just feels different from any other bike I own, and I like it. I wouldn't go so far as to agree with the Bridgestone ads of its era, claiming the XO design could take the place of all your bikes, but it's a pretty great bike.

Now, for those of you that don't know, Bridgestone was and is a very big Japanese bike company. They left the US market after the 1994 model year, due to currency issues, according to Grant Peterson, who was their product manager and is now the head of Rivendell Bicycle Works ( worth a visit). They tended to "go their own way" on design in the late 80s/early 90s, and the XO series is the prime example. More or less the Bridgestone interpretation of a "hybrid" bike, they were markedly different from most other company's hybrids. For example, while most hybrids were designed around "mountain" geometry with "road" sized wheels, the XOs were mostly road geometry on mountain wheels... and used a variety of handlebar designs that were variously loved and loathed by those who tried them. Me, I'm a fan of the basic design as well as the bars.

If you want to know more about the XO-2 in general, check out:

And while you're there, look at the rest of that part of Sheldon Brown's website... you'll find scans of a bunch of Bridgestone catalogs and ads and such. Fun stuff. And Sheldon's whole site is absolutely amazing.

Friday, February 1, 2008

"Hello, kettle? This is pot..."

So, yes, tonight it was I who did a dumb, knee-jerk thing. I was just about home, nearing an intersection where I had no stop sign and cross traffic had a stop sign. I have a pretty darned bright generator powered front light on the bike, along with a bright LED light on my helmet... yet a car on the cross street pulled out in front of me. My reaction? Well, acting out of anger and frustration, I gave the familiar one finger salute... just as the guy raised his hand to wave, in what I recognized a split second later was a "dang, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have pulled out in front of you" gesture.

Just a reminder that we can all let our frustrations get the better of us, and do things that really aren't helpful in the cyclist/motorist relations world. Must remember to take a deep breath and let it go next time.

Now, in my defense, I will say this... When motorists yell or otherwise take issue with me, they are usually reacting to my mere presence on the road, and the fact that I might add a few seconds to their travel time. When I respond as I did tonight, it's because a motorist has just done something that could have gotten me injured or killed if I hadn't been more alert or if the timing had been a hair different.

Still, responding as I did tonight, I'm sure I didn't win a friend. Gotta work on that.

Rude people in cars

Why do they do it? Why is it some motorists and their passengers think it's funny or justified to verbally or physically assault bicyclists?

Tonight on my way from work to a yoga class, riding through my residential neighborhood, a passenger in a SUV felt the need to shout an obscenity out the window at me. Why? I have no idea. It was about 30 degrees out, so what drove this guy to roll down the window in a moving car just to be obnoxious to a cyclist?

And it's not the only time something like this has happened to me. I don't really keep track, but I'd guess that a couple times a month someone takes issue with me being on the road, or whatever it is that drives them to shout things. Very often it's something like "get on the sidewalk" or "get out of the road"... which, while annoying, I can chalk up to ignorance and frayed nerves from the traffic around here, along with the perception that I'm in the way. Tonight it was a simple shouted obscenity... you know the one often followed by "". And it wasn't the driver... it was the passenger? What's up with that?

Well, maybe it's just that weird mentality that views harassing others as fun. In the 30+ years I've been riding more or less seriously (well, seriously isn't the right word... I smile a lot), I've had a number of folk shout at me, a few throw trash out of their cars at me (including at least one beer bottle), and once even had a passenger lean way out to slap me with both hands on my back! And I just don't understand it. Anyone out there have an explanation?