February 24, 2009

Cyclist to Blizzard: Screw You!

Out of Winnipeg comes this interesting tale by Jonathan Dyck:

Everyone in Winnipeg seems to understand the difficulty of commuting to work on days when the snow comes down thick and the wind won't let up. Whether you frequent public transit, walk or take your own vehicle, a blizzard will find some way to disrupt your morning routine.

What everyone doesn't seem to understand on days like these is why twentysomethings like me stubbornly take up vehicle lanes on our bicycles, especially when visibility is poor at best.

He can't really explain just why he, and many others do it, but his story is as funny as it is serious in its discussion of the subject.

At every intersection I could feel motorists glaring at me, imagining the collision or wipeout I was fated to have. Those images run through my mind, too. But I don't have airbags. Nor do I have tinted windows to hide behind. The only thing that keeps me warm is moving my legs up and down. My safety rests upon the layers of wool sweaters and old scarves I've accumulated over the years. Enough to make me look like a thrift-store spectacle.

I wear a heavy winter coat, a scarf, a tuque and mittens - no helmet. Not because of the way it looks. When I'm cycling downtown, it's obvious my appearance isn't that important to me. My reason for riding without a helmet is simply because it doesn't fit with my tuque on, and I'd rather have warm ears than protect myself from a fall that might never happen. I'll wear it again when things warm up a bit in March. Each season brings its own hazards, but winter is far and away the most gruelling.

Among the things he discusses is the cammeraderie among cyclists who ride in these condition, and how there seems to be nothing similar among motorists, or users of other modes of transportation, regardless of the weather.

Read the full piece in The Toronto Globe and Mail:

Hello, blizzard. My bike shall defeat you: Winnipeg's blowing snow, monstrous potholes and glaring motorists won't keep me from my daily thrill.


February 24, 2009 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 15, 2008

Is the Toughest Athlete in the World a Female Cyclist?

Sports Illustrated is convinced  the toughest is Tiger Woods.

I like Tiger, but I think the brave gal I read about this morning deserves consideration.

No, not Jill Homer... she only did the short route of The Iditarod Trail invitational, last month. ;-D

The long route is billed as “The World’s Longest Human Powered Winter Race,” and covers an area of over 1,100 miles in length.

Kathi Hirzinger-Merchant became the first woman to complete the longer race last month.

Hardly anyone in the Mainstream Media noticed. ;-D

As Craig Medred, of the Anchorage Daily News writes:

Iditarod and Yukon Quest champ Lance Mackey -- SI's No. 2 pick -- can certainly make a better claim to true, physical, tough-athlete status than Tiger, though there's no doubt that in any kind of human aerobic competition, Hirzinger-Merchant would hand Mackey his lunch.

Lance had his dogs to help him. Hirzinger-Merchant had only hubby, Bill, who, though he biked north with her, wasn't necessarily all that much help.

According to Craig the Event Website had this to say:

On their approach to Nome, Bill and Kathi faced "immense winds and cold temperatures. At one point, when they were protected from the constant wind, Kathi looked at the temperature and saw minus 30 degrees ... Bill described pushing the bikes at a 45 degree angle to prevent the wind from blowing the bikes away.

A 25 1/2 day journey... amazing!

The full article: Think mushing to Nome is tough? Try pedaling it.

A Tip of the Hat to Alaska Cyclist, and Journalist, Charles Bingham, who also sends word that the effort by the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Cyclists, has moved to the next step in March.

First came a proclamation by the City and Borough of Sitka that says that "Sitka is Bicycle Friendly", and committed the city to "an ongoing process of improvement upon the existing standards of cycling transportation infrastructure, education, encouragement, and enforcement."

According to the website the application has been turned in and they should learn its fate sometime this month. ;-D

PDF's of both the proclamation and the application, can be read here.

April 15, 2008 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jill Homer's Tips for Cycling in the Snow

Jill Homer of Juneau, Alaska, raced in the 350 mile human-powered Iditarod.

The Iditarod Trail Invitational, in February, followed the same route used by the famous dog sled teams. ;-D

In one of a series of articles for NPR, in December, she shared her "Top 10 Tips for Biking in Snow".

1. Think surface area.

2. Fat is the new skinny.

3. There is no shame in walking.

4. When in doubt, let air out.

5. Learn your snow types.

6. Don't be disappointed when you fail to set a land-speed record.

7. All brakes are not created equal.

8. Re-lubricate and be free.

9. Stay away from moose tracks.

10. Stay away from dogs.

She writes interesting, and informative, paragraphs on each of these tips.

Jill wrote a Blog for NPR, from November thru March, about cycling in Alaska, and preparing for, and riding in, the race in February.

She also has a Blog, called Up in Alaska.

Oh, and here's a story about the woman to took a historic ride on the longer, 1100 mile, route. ;-D

A Tip of the Hat to Alaska Cyclist, and Journalist, Charles Bingham. ;-D

April 15, 2008 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2007

Bicycling Myanmar Offers Views of Beauty and Challenges

Joe Robinson wrote a story, recently, for the Los Angeles Times Travel Section, about Touring this country ( AKA Burma ), including on a bicycle, and witnessing the beauty, and challenges of this country.

He visited Bagan, exploring the temples on a rented girl’s bicycle with a leopard-print seat:

My body was already a waterfall, and it was only 10:15 a.m. in the oven of Bagan, former imperial capital of Myanmar. Standing on the pedals of my rented one-speed girl's bike with a leopard-print seat, I dripped up an incline, passed a couple of bullocks on death's door pulling an ancient wooden cart and then swerved off the asphalt into sand as an air-conditioned bus filled with grinning foreign tourists blew by.

The backdraft stirred up a storm of dry-season dust, and as it settled, I could make out a surreal spectacle from the top of the rise: a sea of otherworldly steeples dancing in the heat waves—some conical, others topped with doughnut-shaped rings, some with glinting golden umbrellas, some sculpted into immense bells. Despite the heat, it was not a mirage. The sci-fi skyline is the legacy of a mysterious building boom that turned this central Burmese savanna astride the Irrawaddy River into one of Asia’s most sprawling but least-known extravaganzas of religious architecture.

The full article: All that glitters is not gold in Myanmar's political landscape -Aug. 7th.

A Tip of the Hat to World Hum!

August 15, 2007 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2007

You with your Bike, and the Road, are Lovers

The things you learn while perusing the internet, I swear! ;-D

There may be a day while you are riding your bike. A motorist passes you, and calls out, "Get off the fucking road!" You may be puzzled. What do these words mean?

The key to understanding this motorist's cry is to realize that the road does not copulate with itself. Rather, it is you who is partnered with the road.

Are you scratching your head, and mumbling... What the ??? ;-D

Read the full essay: Get off the Fucking Road.

If you liked this one then check out others at Bicycle Meditations.

May 4, 2007 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 28, 2006

Do You Wave, or Say Hi to Other Cyclists?

SoCalCycling.com has a survey going on on its front page:

I recently read an article in Road Magazine that was about how cyclists rarely wave at other cyclists while riding. Having waved at many a cyclist in my day, only to be ignored, I could totally relate to this.

Olympic Gold Medalist, Steve Hegg, once told me how he used to turn around and chase riders down PCH that didn’t wave to him!

Last evening, in an effort to cram in a 2 hour ride before dark with some climbing I headed due north toward the Claremont Wilderness Park then up Baldy Road.

I must of ran into 20 recreational road and mountain bikers that I didn’t know, but still thought I’d give them a friendly “what’s up” wave. One by one, they just looked at me with an uptight expression.

After getting denied several times in a row, it became a game to me to see if they would wave.

I did have one friendly guy pass me right before the climb. I watched him do the paper boy up the steep section and narrowly miss weaving into the cars hauling up Baldy Road before I passed him back. He couldn’t ride a straight line to save himself, but at least he was friendly and seemed to be enjoying himself!

On your next ride, why not give a little wave if you see a fellow cyclist!

You never know, it could be Hegg!

The Survey Results as of 1pm PST?

Yes = 332

Sometimes = 68

No, I blow them off = 21

I'm proud to say I wave a alot, and even had a horn once that I honked instead.

I need to get another horn! ;-D

September 28, 2006 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 10, 2006

A Solo Journey from Argentina to Alaska

Santiago Yanez is a brave, and hearty, soul.

He's also a cyclist. ;-D

One day, when I lived in Argentina, I decided to go for a bike ride. I ended up in Alaska, almost two years later. What it started as a fun thing to do and a physical challenge ended up changing me and my world view forever. On my 16-month long solo bicycle trip, I crossed fourteen countries and covered 23,000 kilometers (almost 15 thousand miles). I scaled the biggest summits in The Andes, biked through unknown parts of South America, became a godfather to a new-born boy in Peru, climbed beautiful but very active volcanoes in Ecuador, was almost taken hostage by Colombian guerrillas, and ran out of water in the US desert, among many other things. Here's what I learned and lived during my journey.

I am not Che Guevara’s reincarnation, but some people I met during my 18-month solo bicycle trip from South America to Alaska insisted on calling me “Che.” It might be because I am Argentinean, an adventurer by nature and a dreamer at heart. It can also be because this trip changed my life and my worldview forever.

Sit back, relax, and spend some quality time reading this long, and remarkable, story:

I BIKED FROM MENDOZA TO ALASKA: The Story of My 15 Thousand Mile Solo Trip.

From this website: ORATO: True Stories from Real People.

A special Thanks to Cecilia, an Assistant Editor at Orato, for the heads-up! :-D

August 10, 2006 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2006

LA Times does piece on cycling resources

However, it appears the reporters search for info did not turn up yours truly. ;-D

I'm willing to forgive since the purpose of the excellent 3 page piece was a focus only on Los Angeles County, while I have links to all of California, and beyond.. ;-D

However, I do have to wonder when the last recommended website in the piece is described this way:

A left-leaning collection of all things cycling with a Los Angeles emphasis.

It is no secret that 2 of the other sites recommended, have Far Left leaning, and the LA Times ain't exactly Conservative. ;-D

LOS ANGELES ( 5/22 ): Tips and resources to get you into gear by Stephen Krcmar.

Technorati Tags: Cycling Los Angeles

July 20, 2006 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2006

127 years of Bicycling in Rochester, New York

127 years ago the Bicycling Craze came to a small city in New York:

They had practiced all that winter of 1879-80, these Rochester Bicycle Club members, learning to ride their new contraptions. Late in April, "nine hardy men emerged and rode boldly through the streets," Rochester historian Blake McKelvey wrote.

It was a small beginning, to be sure. And yet by 1897 there would be an estimated 40,000 bicycles on the streets of Rochester. What happened in the intervening years was nothing short of extraordinary.

"It was a crazy time that swept across the nation with a fervor rarely matched in history," Edwin Sayers wrote in an August 1985 article for Upstate Magazine. "Like kids around a Christmas tree, America reveled in its new toy. For the first time ever a person could go a reasonably long distance under one's own power and still get home by nightfall without collapsing from exhaustion. It was transportation on the cheap, a highly personal way of conquering distances that seemed close to miraculous."

In 1881, for example, in its "Bicycle Briefs" column, the Democrat and Chronicle noted that in a single day W.H. Leonard and W.W. Reid "took in Henrietta, Scottsville, Caledonia, LeRoy, Bergen, Chili and Churchville ... on their wheels. The roads were good and when home again their cyclometer showed the distance gone over to be fifty-six miles."

Read the full piece:

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle ( 5/22 ): Bicycling craze swept city in 19th century by Bob Marcotte.

July 9, 2006 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

Cyclists present challenge to to Auto-Dependent Lifestyle

Press Action posted an interesting interview with Ken Coughlin, of Transportation Alternatives, last month.

Here’s a sentence you don’t expect to read on the CNN website: “As gas prices climb to record highs, more Americans seem to be abandoning their cars and biking to work to save money at the pump.” Thus, in the same way Mad Cow fears spurred new interest in vegetarianism, the current gas crisis may inadvertently deliver something else the planet really needs: less cars, more bikes. But bikers beware: this is an uphill battle.

Ken Coughlin, a board member of Transportation Alternatives (TA), a 5,500-member NYC-area non-profit citizens group working for “better bicycling, walking and public transit, and fewer cars,” says: “New York’s streets and most streets elsewhere in the country are ruled by the automobile, and bikes are at best an afterthought. Everyone knows this—drivers, cyclists, pedestrians.”

Seems the organization has its sights on Central Park in New York:

Coughlin and TA are part of a growing movement that is challenging the auto-dependent lifestyle. One example is their high profile effort to create a “car-free Central Park,” which has mobilized a broad coalition in the Big Apple. Coughlin calls that campaign, “the most perfect symbol of our society’s totally skewed transportation policies.”

Read the whole thing here ( Just ignore the whining about the cops picking on Critical Mass. ).

June 26, 2006 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack