Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Now that I think about it …

I once read that the average man thinks about sex every seven seconds. Then I found out the numbers were bullshit, which was a relief. I was afraid I wasn’t keeping up, despite my best efforts.

Turns out, the Kinsey Institute says the majority of men “think about sex every day or several times a day.” Although I haven't been keeping track, I'd probably qualify as an average guy on the Kinsey scale.

But I'm pretty damned sure I think about riding bikes more than “several times” a day. Could this mean that I think about riding bikes more than I think about sex?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Necessarily.

I’m just saying.

(Thanks to Bicycle Diaries for today's picture.)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wayward wankers

Damn, I love it when a wicked idea pays off. Thanks to my hot chicks post a few weeks ago, I’m still getting hits from desperate wankers looking for durty pitchers o’ naughty gurls. The poor schmo who did this Google search arrived here by looking for pictures of Lindsay Lohan in the bathtub.

Sorry, sucker. There's only one hottie on this site, and she doesn't have freckles.

It’s time to point out some new stuff for people who haven’t checked my links pile for a while. Race czar Carlos recently turned me on to the Captain’s Log, which is a treat for anyone who remembers Capt. Dondo’s old columns in Mountain Bike Magazine.

I’ve also been reading Facility Bike Club from time to time, and occasionally checking out Linda Morgi’s bike blog from Switzerland.

I’ve added Chico Gino back to the list after losing his link at some point when the Blogger site went batshit crazy and destroyed part of my template. Hey, it happens, ya know?

And BikePortland.org is always interesting, even for those of us who aren’t abandoning Alaska and moving to Oregon, like Sue.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Don't try this at home

Derailleur cables should not
be installed during
the consumption of beer.

(Note to impressionable minors: I wasn't
really drunk. I'm just a moron.
Or maybe I was drunk. I can't remember.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sue rides away

After 13 years in Alaska, Sue is running away to join the circus. The Lower 48 circus.

Sue is my longtime riding partner and the only rider I've ever seen use a mountain bike to assault a small mammal.

When she wasn't turning Stuart Little into a paraplegic, we shared several multiday rides and endured washboard gravel roads, mosquitoes, rain and the pistol-packin' weirdos that one tends to meet while riding from end to end on the Denali Highway, touring Prince of Wales Island or pedaling from Chitina to McCarthy and back.

Now she's trading the back roads of Alaska for big-city bike lanes and a life of dodging car doors and taxicabs.

Instead of eating greasy food in a dilapidated trailer in Coffman Cove, or sleeping among bears in the Wrangell mountains, she'll be pedaling to Ikea and then stopping at Starbucks for complicated coffee.

So long, Sue. I'll miss you.

Go easy on Portland's rodents.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Monkey Wash, Donkey Rinse

Yesterday I was reading the blog of a guy named Tuco, where I found this picture of a boy washing his bike in Afghanistan. It’s the kind of bike picture I enjoy posting.

It also reminded me of when I was a kid and my family would often travel to the Ozarks in southern Missouri, where my parents owned land in a rural area. During summers, we would occasionally see locals drive their pickups into the Meramec River, where they would park and wash them.

This was often done by women who would splash around and get their t-shirts very wet. Tragically, none of them looked like Elly May Clampett. Hell, you needed two or three of them just to have as many teeth as Elly May.

Their white t-shirts were usually size XXL and worn over enormous black bras that looked like something stolen from the clothesline of a very large and very old woman in Moscow. And not a yard of fabric was wasted—there was a lot of flesh to cover.

My point?

I have no idea. This is just how my mind works.

Picture of a bike ... rainwater ... boy ... pickups in river ... large female hillbillies.

I don’t always read the map. Sometimes, I just take the ride.

And you get to come along.

But that's a really cool picture of a kid washing his bike.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bikes with jobs

Abandoned bikes, downtown Juneau
April 2006

I ogle shiny new bikes on a regular basis, but I also pay attention to the less-glamorous—and equally interesting—characteristics of bikes that see a lot of hard use.

I try to keep my bikes looking at least somewhat “cool.” So I’m always impressed by the lack of pretension when someone buys a $4,000 mountain bike and then slaps 40 bucks worth of plastic fenders on it, or mounts a battered old pump to the frame with the same ancient, nylon straps he used on three previous bikes.

Function over style. It’s something to respect.

That’s why I also love what I like to call "bikes with jobs”— the utilitarian machines that regularly carry people to school, work and on errands. They’re the most noble bikes in existence and are usually the most interesting to stare at for long periods of time.

They can be entry-level rides or titanium racers retired to duty as workhorses, but they all share the scars: chipped paint, dented tubes, torn stickers. And when you look closely, you can recognize the ones that are valued and respected. They bear the scars of hard use, but not neglect. The cables are fresh. The brake pads aren’t worn out. The drivetrain is clean. The tires are properly inflated and still have plenty of tread.

When you see something that looks like a clunker from across the street, then you get closer and see that it has a new name-brand headset, you know something about the priorities of the person who rides it.

And you know the bike is more than just a plaything.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Can I get that in writing?

The Man With The Van rides Steve's Loop
outside Fruita, Colo., last year.

I was talking with my wife Wednesday night when she asked why I had just used a few vacation days and stayed at home catching up on chores. She was surprised I hadn't called my brother and arranged to meet somewhere for a week of mountain biking.

I pointed out that he and I met in Fruita last year, so I hadn't thought I should try to do another trip this fall.

"What, you went last year so you can't go this year?" she replied. She pointed toward our neighbor's house across the street and said, "Neal goes to Florida with his buddies to play golf for a week every year."

Hmm. A bike trip every year?

At this point I thought of that old episode of "Cheers" in which Lilith Sternin-Crane makes a reference to sex in the morning and her husband, Frasier, quickly raises his head in surprise and says, "We can have sex in the morning?"

Don't get me wrong. My non-cycling wife is quite tolerant of my bike addiction so it's not as if I fear raising the idea of an occasional bike trip. But with busy work schedules, a middle-school daughter and a high-school son, and two bathrooms long overdue for remodeling, yeah, I'm usually cautious about suggesting suggest that I should hop on a plane headed in the general direction of Moab.

Fortunately, I accumulate a fair amount of frequent-flier miles. As long as the flights are free and I wait until her workload lightens after teaching fall clinicals, my wife said, why not go log a few days of cycletherapy?

Suddenly, it seemed to be one of those days when bits of information arrive in a way that seems a little too good to be true.

Mere hours before the conversation with my wife, I had received an e-mail from my brother saying he just put down a deposit on a brand-new Lopes 55 that will be ready in early 2007.

Can you say "road trip?"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Rider

It's Poetry Day
at Bicycles & Icicles.

There once was a man
from Nantucket ...

Naaah. I was
just kiddin'.

Monday, October 16, 2006

David Byrne on a bike

Martino's Bike Lane Diary recently posted this Transportation Alternatives interview with David Byrne on riding in New York. When the man behind the Talking Heads speaks, ya just gotta listen. I didn't even know he was a bike rider:

Since I've ridden a bike in NY for almost 20 years now as a means of transport I've learned some lessons.

1. New Jersey drivers have rarely seen pedestrians before. Bikes they've seen even less. They cannot see you, so if you see Jersey plates, be careful.

2. Limos and town cars think they rule the road. The only time I've ever gotten hit was by a limo.

3. Food delivery guys have been instructed by some malicious deity to always drive facing traffic, and to force other cyclists heading towards them into unseen traffic coming up from behind. It's unfair to judge immigrants based on their bicycle behavior, but ... since the Yuan is now no longer tied to the dollar I suspect things will be heating up in the near future.

4. No one has yet designed a helmet that is safe, light, aerodynamic,ventilated and most important of all—attractive. (admittedly this is subjective). A lady on 25th st was selling raccoon tails out of a shopping cart once (cheap too!)—so I tried tying one of those on to my helmet. But it didn't really help.

5. I'm thinking those masochistic looking skinny seats might be more comfortable in the long run than the big soft cushy ones.

6. The landlord and the city building code people let me install a shower in my office because I ride a bike to work. Really.

7. I can gallery hop or hit the clubs at night or in the afternoon cheaply and efficiently. It beats cabbing, and the subway is sporadic at night.

8. There's a man near me who usually dresses in white and pink and rides a teeny pink child's bike—decorated with aluminum streamers.

9. I once got a ticket for running a red light on my bike. Fair enough. I hope that if I obey the traffic rules then I will in turn be given the space and rights any other vehicle would receive. I decided to contest the ticket downtown, and got another ticket for the exact same thing on theway to court. I usually stop at red lights, like cyclists do in Europe, though sometimes I do feel ridiculous stopping for nothing.

10. Avoid bombs, package searches, fear of public transport, or claustrophobia—ride a bike.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Senior moment

A couple of guys from my office went to one of those after-hours networking things a few days ago. While there, they started chatting with a guy I probably shouldn’t identify here, but his name sounded a lot like Rob German.

Anyway, my co-workers came back and told me how they and this guy who even looked a lot like Rob German discovered, during the course of conversation, that this friendly stranger knows me. He has ridden with me. As a matter of fact, he has raced with me, just like Rob German.

And being a friendly stranger, he told my co-workers that, “Tim’s a pretty good rider for a guy his age.”

For a guy his age. Man, if I ever run into that dude I’m gonna hit him with a cane.

And I can do it.

I own a cane.

Damn whippersnapper.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Listen up

I try to start most days by reading Frazz. Even when it has nothing to do with bicycles, it’s one of the most entertaining and clever comic strips around. This one was one of my recent favorites.

To listen to music, or not listen to music while on the bike. It’s a question that ensures—no matter what your answer is—you’re gonna piss somebody off.

Personally, I think anyone who gets bored bicycling without music is probably in the wrong sport. Besides, stuffing earbuds in your head and then climbing on a bike is a dangerous thing to do unless you happen to be fighting sleep deprivation during an endurance race in the middle of nowhere and have no chance of encountering traffic. Why compromise one of the senses that can keep you alive?

Hell, you might as well smear globs of Vaseline over your sunglasses, too. Go ahead, order the big plate of glaucoma with a side order of deafness. That way, you won’t be distracted by the sight of the ground rushing toward you as you wonder what that hot, roaring, metallic thing is that just attached itself to your ass.

Cyclists who ride with headphones or earbuds remind me of people who decorate their cars and pickups with little money-wasters like brake light covers. I mean, think about it: Do you really think the words “brake light” and “cover” should ever be combined? They’re brake lights, dammit. Visibility is the whole point. If I’m about to rear-end your pickup in the foggy darkness of winter, I’m not going to be comforted by the soft glow of a Dodge Ram logo in the final microsecond before impact.

When I ride, I’ll tune in to the Inhale and Exhale show. And I'll listen to all that other good stuff—like my tires humming on the ground, the wind in the trees, the gurgling creek, the birds singing, and that mud-splattered pickup that's rolling up behind me with a table dancer-silhouette sticker in the rear window and a half-dozen Budweiser cans rolling around in the floorboard.

My iPod will be waiting at home.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

And the point is ...

I was riding home from work a couple of weeks ago when I caught up to a young guy who had been delayed by a red light. He rolled through the green just as I edged up behind him, so he didn't know I was 10 feet off his wheel.

He was riding a couple of miles an hour slower than my pace, but with only a block to go before my next left turn, there was no point in passing. I settled in behind him and watched him catch a little air at curb cuts as he put a little twist on each jump.

After a short distance, he looked over his shoulder and saw me. Maybe it was the gray beard or my ugly face, but he clearly didn't want me hanging.

He accelerated like somebody had shoved a bottle rocket up his ass. And everyone who has been in such a situation knows what he did next.

Yeah. He started looking back to make sure he was dropping me.

"Sorry, kid," I thought to myself, "but I've only had a mile-and-a-half warm-up from my office, and I'm in a middle-ring mood. I'm lettin' you go."

Besides, Dimond Boulevard at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday is a lousy place for a testosterone-fueled bike race. I really don't need to get hip-checked in front of a Cadillac driven by some blue-hair who's struggling to see over the steering wheel while a psychotic Chihuaha bounces on her lap.

I don't know if I'm gettin' wiser, or just older. I looked at the guy's jeans, day pack and too-low saddle and figured all I'd have to do is wait for a block or two, then pull ahead as he gasped for air after his pointless sprint.

But that seemed like way more trouble that it was worth.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Back from the edge of Earth

Steam rises from Shishaldin Volcano
at sunset Friday.

After several days on a ship in the wet,
windy Aleutians, I still feel
the floor moving, even though it's not.

I'm stealing glances at my bikes
while catching up on chores. Laundry, bills,
errands and unpacking
are a lot less fun than riding.

On the bright side, we docked in Dutch Harbor
on time yesterday and I boarded a plane
that slipped out of town during a tiny window
of less-shitty-than-it-could-have-been weather,
so a couple of people in my office are sure
to have lost bets on how long
I'd be trapped out there.

Don't forget to stop at the ATM, Luke.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

And then there were nine

I'm splittin' town. Packing my seasickness medication, jumpin' on the Trusty Tusty and runnin' off to the Aleutian Islands for a few days. At least, I hope it's only for a few days. That'll be up to Mother Nature.

I leave you with a photo that I wish were real, and the final installment of the Whole Crapload of Ways to Know You're Addicted to Cycling:

41. You can tell your spouse, with a straight face, that it's too hot to mow the lawn and then bike off for a century.

42. You regard intergender discussion of genital pain as normal.

43. You know your cadence, but you have no idea what your speed is.

44. When driving your car you lean over the steering wheel, just like an aerobar.

45. Your car sits outside your garage because your garage is full of bikes and cycling gear.

46. You tailgate a semi-trailer to get the drafting effect.

47. You know your Bike Nashbar customer number by heart.

48. You hear someone had a crash and your first question is "How's the bike?"

49. You smile at your evening date, and she politely points out that you seem to have bugs in your teeth.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Back in the day, I used to ride to work in Phoenix. It was a strange and hostile place to be a bike commuter. Motorists sometimes tried to run me off the road. During summer, the pavement was hot enough to cause third-degree burns, so my biggest fear wasn’t being hit by a car, it was being too badly injured to get up.

And the company where I worked wasn’t in the greatest part of town. A couple of times, I looked down in time to see discarded syringes—with needles still attached—in time to hop over or steer around them. Some neighborhoods along my route were covered with gang-related graffiti. I couldn’t fully decipher it, but the general message seemed to be, “This is our block, esse. Keep moving or we’ll fuck you up.”

The place had a hard, unfriendly edge that I actually managed to enjoy, in a strange way. For a while, at least. When the time came to move somewhere else, I was happy to go.

I was thinking about that experience this week when I came across this sign that was recently posted on a tree along the bike path I ride on my way to work. This is the same path where I watch salmon run upstream every summer and where I’ve locked up my brakes to avoid slamming into large moose.

At first, I was annoyed to see a bright yellow-and-orange sign nailed to a tree. Then I recognized it as a reminder of what a nice ride I enjoy every day I pedal to my office.

How many people live in their state's largest city, and still have the option of fishing for rainbows on their way to work?