Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More power, Scotty!

Bored? Try a Rocket Bike. Forget heavy batteries and slow electric bikes. Put some real power behind the saddle.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Reorganizing Climate

I used to say we had five seasons up here, spring, summer, fall, winter and none of the above. The fifth season was split. The first part began when the last leaf fell and ended when snowcover began. It resumed when the snow melted and we stared at bleak grayness until leaves broke out some time in May. So it was basically November and April.

Since the winter went soft on us I've decided we really only get three seasons anymore. They are summer, fall and NovApril. NovApril lasts from at least the first of November to the end of May. The globe may be warming on average, but our spring and summer are cooling up here in the Northeast. The winters are shot.

Today felt like April, but without the daylight. I got out of work early, so I dashed out to nab a fixed gear ride. Patches of snow are melting steadily. Streams and rivers are running high. It's April. But it's not.

No doubt we'll get a few rude slaps from winter's cold, wet paw before what passes for real warm weather arrives in four or five months, but I bet I'll get a lot of riding in as well. New England riders have to be ready to grab the chance when it comes and endure some gross mixed precipitation and cold winds in order to rack up saddle time, but we're used to it. Believe it or not, I feel better to have gone out in it than to have hidden away inside. It beats driving. Honest.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Stupid Winter

Timing is everything.

The weather has been unbelievably bad this winter. We have almost no snow, and what we do have is about to get poured on again by a torrential rain followed by a thaw, followed by more rain.

When winter does this to us, which seems to happen more often than not anymore, I just get the bike back out and start trudging around, building up saddle time. But the dinky storms we have gotten have hit just before my days off, coating the roads with treacherous glop. It would not just be uncomfortable. I defy discomfort. But this is unsafe. People have to drive on those roads. As much as I might like to cop a purist pose and insist that everyone ride bikes and give us the right of way, that's not at all realistic. When the roads are slick and narrowed by piles of accumulated crud, I can't justify getting out there in the way of traffic. Sharing the roads does go both ways.

When the roads are clear I will go out and take my place there, whether it's January or June. But for now I have to piece together what I can of rollers, weights, a ski here and there, just trying to keep some fitness until we get consistent conditions, wintry or not.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Progress Marches On

Niner Bikes, dedicated to promoting the 29-inch -wheel mountain bike, offers the YAWYD (you are what you drink) threadless headset top cap. It is machined to allow you to press the bottle cap of your choice onto it. "Fits twist off or crimped" according to the manufacturer's website,

In other news, remember how mountain bikes all had quick-release seat post clamps to allow riders to change height during a ride for different terrain? And then that was suddenly geeky and nerdy and every cool person had fixed seatpost binders? Well height adjustment is hip again, with a techie new twist.

Taking advantage of the trend toward oversize seatposts, 30.9, 31.6, Maverick Bikes now offers a post that looks a bit like a suspension post, but apparently works like the hydraulic lift in your office swivel chair or beloved Park Tool mechanic's stool. Pull the lever that extends forward under the nose of the saddle to release the post and adjust height. Groovy. Have your fixed binder and your height adjustment too.

It's the Little Things

It's not exactly hot news, but a Bicycle Retailer news brief in the January 1 issue reports that the Kentucky Supreme Court has affirmed bicyclists' right to be on the roads by reversing a lower court's decision that a woman cyclist was responsible for the accident in which a passing motorist hit her.

The League of American Bicyclists still has the item, from November 2005, on their homepage, a few items down from the top, with a link to the whole decision.

While we road riders are out on the front lines, critical decisions like this shape the world in which we ride. There's so much more to advocacy than getting lines painted on the pavement in certain places and yet another sign erected reminding motorists to share the road. That's all well and good, but what really matters are laws reinforcing and protecting bicyclists' right to be on the road at all and the repeated court decisions providing some kind of meaningful penalty for drivers who disregard them.

Eventually, if enough people see that it can be safe, it will be fun and it will be environmentally and economically fabulous, they will see that joining us is better than trying to beat us. There is no magic bullet or nuclear bomb. There are only the little things that are really big, repeated over and over as long as necessary.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006