Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grab Bag

  • Experienced a strange juxtaposition this morning in bike culture world. I headed on the Ute to Breadworks for coffee and breakfast . After my Euro experience, I'm feeling cavalier about helmet and bike clothes usage, so I was sans lid and sporting the flip-flops. As I was reading the paper with my a nice coffee, I saw a big group of club types clumping for the Sunday morning ride. After finishing my coffee, I waded through the lycra crowd- prolly 30 strong- to get my Ute from the bike rack. It was just a strange juxtaposition, me in regular clothes, no lid and flip-flops surrounded on all sides by lycra-clad warriors. One chap talked me up a bit about the Ute, but otherwise it was strange looks all round. Wonder how many of them do any real-world biking? I'm a bit close-minded about it all. If they really want people to see them as more than toy users, then they should use the bike for more than fitness equipment. But who am I to judge? Shut up and ride.
  • Gotta get out for more mileage but these damn World Cup games are crimping my style.
  • Taking 'Z' to Sunday school today, I ran across an interesting trio, two on interesting bikes.
Nicely chromed early-80's Schwinn Traveler, according to Justin (?). Added details include Brooks, front generator hub (I think newer 20"SON, front and rear dynolights), and nice metal fenders. It was an impressive package.

Vic's Heron in all its pimped-out Rivvy glory
  • There were 3 riders in this little grupetto, which I found to be the inaugural Sunday morning 9.00 ride of Vic's Classic Bikes. The story on Vic is that he has a personal collection of more than 1,000 bikes- or is it 100?- and he opened his first official shop just last year in a part of town near my school and Sunergos, God's answer to coffee. (in more ways than one). He didn't last too long there, so he's moved into the B'town corridor. The problem is that now the B'town corridor is more than replete with bike shops- Drew and Derek at OnYourLeftCycles, BardstownBike, Vic's, and Parkside, which is the fixie shop. I feel sorta bad for Drew and Derek because they run a solid little shop, but how do you keep economies of scale going to 4 shops in 2 miles? Instead of 1 or 2 shops keeping busy with maintenance, that business is spread among 4. Tough biz. More problematic, will each of the 4 have to "niche-i-fy" themselves even more, i.e. OYLC the bmx/'cross shop, Vic's the classic steel, Bardstown the mainstream and Parkside the fixie shop. What fun is that? Good for Vic, though, for sponsoring a slow-n-steady Sunday morning ride. And he's got LOTS of nice, classic steel.

New signs posted indicating that the coolest part of the Riverwalk, which happens to be the oft sunken part, is officially closed. They built a trail on a flood plain; it didn't work out.
  • Did a quickish 1.5hr yesterday afternoon post-soccer, pre-supper. Ughh! My wife told me she saw a registered 95F in the middle of the afternoon, and it certainly felt like it! With a finite amount of time, I decided to ride a little harder, and for some strange reason I took the Bleriot. I can't remember a "fast" ride on the Bleriot. I also decided to ride some hills in the Parks at a harder tempo than normal. I acquitted myself pretty well, at least for a little while. Going up hill#5 toward the top I thought my head had caught on fire. I slowed down a bit. #6 was sorta fun b/c I was in an easier gear. I fella passed me with some panache, but I drop down a gear and fought my way back up close to his wheel. 'course, I was wasted after that for a bit. After that, I still did 3 more hills, giving me 9 for the day. My avg speed ended up coming down about 1mph towards the end, but it felt good to ride some tempo for a change. This week needs a long ride if I'm to do the 85m to Lexington in a few weeks.
  • Isn't Blogger getting crafty with their design features? Makes me think they're going to start charging soon.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Whew! Hot-n-Slow

I wanted a bike ride instead of a "training session", so I dug out the dusty, cob-webby 'bent and went about roaming. Knowing that I needed some new patch kits, I first stopped by the bank for some 'cash money action' and then roamed around the flattest roads possible, on the 'bent you know. That led me through the parks and down the Beargrass Trail. I stopped by the Butchertown Green to tighten a cleat screw- yes, I was actually wearing cleated cycling shoes- and took in the non-activity at the new "cyclocross park", which doesn't show any activity to speak of. From there I looped through Butchertown and towards OnYourLeftCyles , where I picked up the patch kits and admired an especially dandy Raleigh SS Cross bike. Once there, it was a stop at OldTown for some game-time beverages and then home got one of the slowest 16m efforts on record. However slow, it was damn pleasant!

And we're down 0-1 after the first half. Bleh!

Friday, June 25, 2010

(;



Once I saw this I just had to. Stole it from Cornbread, one of my sources for bad-ass gravel grinding. Cornbread won the DirtyKanza 200 this year. What an impressive feat. I just like it b/c it's where I want to go. I think I'm starting to itch for a mixed-terrain ride, perhaps coming soon in July.

Oh, I put in another 22m this morning on the Quickbeam after not riding yesterday. Well, yesterday I rode 2m to the grocery and back with 'L', which is more fun than putting in a mega-ride.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cycling, S.Euro style

This is the last of my Euro posts; the others have been specific bikes that caught my eye (amidst thousands), but today's fun includes my observations about the physical bike facilities and how they're integrated in several of the cities I visited. Although they all are configured somewhat differently, the one observation I came away with is that they sure do use their bikes more than we. Why? The answers are somewhat obvious: space, cost, fuel cost, more concentrated city centers, "bike culture", weather (at least in the south). Another observation is that, wow, they do *not* use helmets; NOBODY was wearing a helmet, at least in Italy and Spain.

We started in Rome. I didn't get any pics from there because I was looking at the Vatican and the Colosseum, but suffice to say that I saw many a cyclist- sans helmet but in normal clothes- riding in the most horrendous traffic imaginable. Also in Rome I realized- anecdotally- that bikes were merely a feature of traffic, like cars, buses and motos. I'm sure they get honked at, but everybody gets honked at. I don't think they're seen as an impediment, but as traffic. Wednesday morning I was riding locally in the park. On my right was a jogger so I moved a bit to the left to not hit her, but remained well in my lane. To the back I noticed that a truck almost hit me. Why was he on my ass when I had the obvious right-a-way? As he passed I encouraged him to "be patient". He started blabbering some cockamamie rational. The same interaction might have happened in Rome, but with a completely different rationale. There they all share the road aggressively, yet all are equal partners. In the park, this guy wanted to run straight through the back of me b/c I was in his way, although I was well within my legal rights. It's a different mind-set, and one I can pessimistically never see changing. Rome was wild, but logically wild.

Florence/Firenze provided me some first views of bike-specific facilities. I didn't see that much of the city, but below are a few pics of what I did see in the city center.

This is along a major thoroughfare heading into the downtown area. Notice that an entire lane of traffic is dedicated to cycling lanes, alternately painted and provided with a buffer


This is one of many bike parking areas along that same street, or at least in the same general area. Based on this, do you think bikes are popular? Notice too, that the pedestrian area is separated with metal barriers, but that the barriers also act as bike racks? Excellent.

This is from a different part of the city, along the river. Again, it has the same red paint and demarcation from the street with buffers. There was a fair amount of walking traffic here too, so I'm sure "interactions" can be chaotic.

We also passed through Pisa, where I saw many more bikes. One instance is still etched in my mind, that of us on a rather busy 2-lane road, one with buses, trucks, cars, etc. Also on this same stretch we passed an elderly woman- sans helmet- on her old Euro bike. It was traffic that no sane person in the States would ride through. There, she just rode and the traffic went around her. No hard feelings.

We then headed into France, based specifically in Nice along the coast. Someone in our group informed us that Nice was rather grim last time they passed through, but I was really impressed with their center city area. The bike facilities were comically under-used, but not bike usage.


The major thoroughfare heading away from the coast is now a non-car street. In the middle are 2 light-rail lines. On either side are bike lanes and then sidewalks to the outside of that. What I saw was significant walking traffic in the bike lanes, and significant bike traffic in the light-rail lanes.


This is a better view of the bike lanes full of people.


Fixie folks in Nice. I thought it was sort of "cute" that French fixie folks also carry their u-bolts in their specially designed pockets, just like here.


Another aspect of Nice bike culture I only barely captured was that of more traditional roadies, which I saw in droves on Sunday morning as we left the city. The MedSea promenade had a marked bike path, which frankly would be insane on most days due to the variety of foot traffic, but people did. On Sunday, though I saw a variety of club types, both on that path and out in the road, as seen here. On this same Sunday morning I saw several small groups of roadies out in the country-side, just as you would have in virtually any States town.

We left Nice and headed for a stop in Arles, a small town with some Roman stuff and a cafe made famous by Van Gogh. Again, I saw numerous city bikes. Below is the remnants of a bike lane. I did see bikes locked to the barriers, so I assume people use it.


Again, a lane with barriers separating it from the car traffic, this one in Arles.

Our trip headed south to Barcelona, from which I have the most pics b/c, well, Barca offered the most bike-intensive facilities and culture. Barca's nationalistic, separatist inclination these days is hard to cope with as a Spanish- and not Catalan- teacher, but as a city it has to be among the best in the world. Cosmopolitan, clean, chic, progressive, it's a place to be in so many ways. And their futbol team is pretty good too, unfortunately. Concerning bikes, they really, really seem to have it going on.
Coming into the city on a major thoroughfare, I noticed the bike lane markings. This wouldn't be a very good training route, too many squiggles and turns. As a commuter/urban route, it was relatively effective.

As is often mentioned, though, bike lanes often become sidewalks and parking lots. This pic is of the same route as the previous pic. As you can see, it abruptly ends in construction.


Further along this same route, I began to see strange, urban/folder/cargo looking bikes, many of the same red paint job. There are 4 in this pic alone.


Superfluous bike lane markings along a large walking 'zona peatonal'.


2-way bike lanes up Montjuich Hill. This was the site of the 1992 Olympics and the 1973 World Championship Bike race won by Gimondi in sprint, with Merckx losing. Although I don't like the bike lane up the sidewalk, the hill is heavy with bus and car traffic and is probably a compromise to let bikes climb the hill instead of closure.


The many red bike lanes I saw in the center city.


This pic doesn't quite capture what bicing is, but her is what it is in a nutshell. The wiki link does a good job, so take a look there, but it's a commuter bicycle program that is integrated as part of public transpo. There are stations everywhere with these red bikes. You pay a yearly fee and use a card to release a bike and use it to ride from Point A to B. There are penalties for longer times of usage, thereby encouraging short, quick trips. It's amazing how many red bikes there were in use. I'm pretty sure there is something in place sort of like it in downtown 'Ville, but it's like saying the 'Ville has a waterfront just like Barca, ours the Ohio and theirs the Mediterranean.

My trip was mostly one of chaperoning students and seeing great history and art, so I have many more pics of museums than bikes, but I came away so impressed with their prevalence in these places. Notice that I don't have any pics from Madrid. Fact it I saw few bikes there; they haven't caught up yet. It was a great trip, though, and food for thought for cities, states and countries trying to be forward thinking. The U.S. might have cheap food and lots of entertainment, but it feels in some ways like we're so far behind in addressing modern problems, traffic and oil usage being big ones.

Euro bikes 3.0

Quick shot in Nimes. This was so typical in southern Europe, that of a very normal "mom" on a very normal bike, something you NEVER see in my neck of the woods.


At Pont du Gard in Provence. Notice that it is another "normal" woman, in this case on a bike slightly more set up for touring with the front lowrider rack. You can barely see it, but she had a B&M sidewall generator light.


In Firenze, but I could've taken 100 of these. Much like the Copenhagen site, it's what Euro ladies do. Marvelous!


Bianchi. Celeste Green. Coppi. Bugno. City Bike.


Rear rack. Front light. Rear light. Front-loader basket. Chaincase. Upright. Adequate locking parking. Check. Euro cycling at its most basic.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

#2

Second morning ride in a row, this one 19.3m. I'm surprised that my "saddle contact point" is bothering me as much as my legs. I kept a pretty good pace for a while until the heat sunk in. At one point, I took my helmet off while riding in the neighborhoods in St. Matthews. Tomorrow I'm setting the clock and getting in 2hr+ before the heat and before the good wife goes to work.

And as for Team U.S.A., what can you say? I think it's as exciting as sports gets. "Goal, Goal, Goal!!!!", somebody was screaming in our household.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Euro bikes 2.0

Classic Euro city bike locked in Arles. Love the bars.

Firenze, Italia. I saw many a chaincase.

Flashy city bike in Nimes. Extra flashy, in fact, but I'm sure well-used like so many others.

Obvious artistic statement in Firenze.

Flashy pink roadbike- 'Turbo' brand- in Barcelona. A little googling brought nothing save the possibility of being a mid-80s Centurian.

Run-of-the-mill Bianchi and Decathalon road bikes in Nimes. I bet I saw 15 city bikes for every standard road bike while in Italy, France and Spain.

And, BTW, I rode today-- 27m. It was the first ride over an hour since my epic with Michael in April, probably the most fallow riding period in the last 5 years. Back on the horse.

Yet again, is I/Grant right?

I found this blurb on Velonews, being at article about concerns this carbon steerer tubes. I/Grant has waxed poetic, scientific, and practically reactionary about the potential concerns with excessive use of carbon. Read the following links and consider....







Monday, June 21, 2010

Ampollas



This happens, with regularity.

Euro bikes 1.0



I'm finally downloading and sorting pics from Europe. I'll probably post some bike pics for fun and do more of a commentary of Euro bike facilities, some of which looked to be *very* popular.

This is a very typical mount from Italy, in this case in Pisa out in front of the leaning tower.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Regresado

I'm back after my near two week school Europe trip. On a very non-cycling note I had the good fortune to see some of the world's great works in great cities. As an aside, damn if it's not true that simple French cooking is amazing! On a cycling note, I took quite a few pics of cycling's impact in Roma, Firenze, Nice, Barcelona and Madrid and others and I'll have some thoughts on that soon.

Suffice to say I'm a bit tired and have feet laden with blisters. To the bike!!!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Mileage

None, well, almost none. Hearing about Dale's record month and reading Dave's and Michael's mileage progress for May is heartening for them, but rather dismal for me. Because of a computer crash I don't have very fresh records, but I think my 16m in May sets a record for the last several years of a complete cycling failure. In looking back, March and April '08 brought very little mileage, but that was the first glimpse of my heart stuff and I was coaching a state-championship tennis team that spring. There's been so little time that the bike isn't a part of my life right now, and that's a bummer. I did get 6m in today commuting from school to graduation and back, but still, it's all woefully inadequate. And early-to-mid June doesn't look promising either, but perhaps July will be the time.

By then everybody will have thousands of miles in the legs and I won't be able to keep up. Guess I'll be doing some solo distance to get up to speed.

And some of the lads are clamoring for a bikes-n-brews. That might come to fruition sometime in July...and August.
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