When dogs attack...

Yesterday while on a "training" ride with Zack (we're not actually training for anything), we had two separate incidents with dogs, mere moments apart. I'm not going to go into my rant about ignorant dog owners (in both cases they were watching idly as their dogs attacked us), but what I found interesting about the whole experience was the vast differences in techniques for ridding ones self of the attackers. When the first dog started chasing me I just yelled and jammed. The theory behind this method being that most dogs can't maintain 32mph for as long as I can. It works when you have a jump on the dog. When the second dog attacked, it did so from the front. I was watching behind me for the previous attacker and all of a sudden I heard a bark up ahead. This time I jumped off my bike and used it as a shield between me and the angry dog. This was effective because I could keep backing away from the dog until it lost interest. Fortunately for me Zack rode by seconds later and the dog took off after him. His reaction was to kick limply at the dog with his toe while struggling with his water-bottle. He later explained that he was going to throw the water bottle and hope the dog would chase it. In any case the owner, realizing that neither of us were going without a fight eventually called his dog, allowing us to roll on unscathed. I think it was a good thing for Zack because I'm not so sure the dog wasn't about to lose patience with Zack and bite his foot off. We finished our ride with all of our digits intact, but I was wondering what we could have done differently. Any suggestions?

More Interbike 2007 commuter bike porn

There's too much good stuff coming out of interbike to keep track of, but in case you're trying: Here's a rad 3-seed made by Sun Bicycles called the Cayne Cykel. If you're in the market for an $8,000 titanium commuter, Seven Cycles has this one for you. Bilenky is showing one of their cargo-bikes, and there appear to be plenty of folders and minibikes at the show as well.


Wired Magazine loves city bikes

Here's a story in Wired Magazine about city bikes:

Some people believe that, right now, a quiet revolution is taking place. In cities like London, San Francisco, Boston and New York, the ranks of bicycle riders are swelling with the rise of a new breed: the urban biker.

Traffic snarls, soaring gas prices and worries about global warming have prompted a big boost in cycling, affecting even places like Los Angeles -- America's freeway capital -- that have traditionally given bicycles the cold shoulder.

"What's really happened in the past year is a cultural shift...."

More Interbike 2007 photos

Fritz from cyclelicio.us has a great Interbike 2007 flickr set which is growing by the hour. Some great shots of new commuters by Topeak, Masi, Breezer, Batavus, Elektra, Seven and more. Here's Sycip's beautiful Townie.


Some highlights from Interbike 2007 demo day

These photos are from bikehugger's 2007 Interbike flickr photo pool:
2008 Kona Ute

2008 Felt Curbside

2008 Surly Big Dummy

2008 Raleigh Sojourn

2008 Masi Special


Loma Rica loop

Yesterday I rode to Zack's house at around noon and we rode together up to Amanda's house. The scenery in Loma Rica is beautiful, I always enjoy riding up there. The route we took to her house was 30 miles and involved a few pretty intense hills, so we were thoroughly pooped by the time we got there. Fortunately there was a chevy truck full of red-necks buzzing us with the truck every few miles so we had no choice but to stay alert. Amanda rewarded us with fresh baked cookies and then we hit the road for the return trip. The cookies were delicious, but we needed some health food so we stopped at Gold Eagle Market in Loma Rica for fried chicken and jojo fries. We each got a chicken breast and a few jojos, Zack got a flavored water and I had a V-8, for a grand total of $6. I could feel the vitamins and protein surge through my body. After devouring the food in mere seconds we hopped back on the steeds and headed down the hill. Now this ride is awesome for a few reasons. The first couple I've already mentioned (cookies, scenery, cookies, duh), but it's also great because the ride home is mostly downhill. With a stomach full of chicken and jojos, a perfect 70 degree day and a downhill return trip we flew back to Zack's house making the trip in about half the time it took us to get up there. Back at his house we made sure we were in no danger of losing any fat by drinking a couple beers and eating some pot roast and veggies. If there's a better day of cycling to be had, I've never seen it. You have any good rides lately? Know of any good rides in my neck of the woods?


Greens Keepers - Lotion

Warning: weird content, foul language, catchy tune


Iro Cycles Sale

Iro Cycles is having a sale. You can receive 20% off of any 2007 products which means you can get a steal on a complete bike. I've heard nothing but good things about Tony and his bikes, so if you're in the market for anything of the fixed or single variety, check out his online store.


A camping trip without rain is like a hot dog without hair on it.

We had a freak rainstorm here today, complete with lightning, thunder and hail. It caught us completely by surprise; we were playing tennis in the sun and all of a sudden the wind picked up and a monster crowd of purple clouds blew over the top of us and started dumping. It reminded me of a camping trip Brian and I attempted a few years ago.
It was a beautiful day out, and my Brian suggested that we head up into the foothills and find a camping spot. I was fighting a cold, and Amanda and a few others had to work, so it ended up just being Brian and I who were available, but I did so want to go camping so we picked up a few necessities, like hot-dogs and beer, and hit the open road. We drove up towards Lake Tahoe, top down on the convertible (P.O.S.'91 VW Cabriolet) checking out sites on the way.
Eventually we found one we liked complete with nearby bubbling brook and no immediate neighbors to distract us from the great outdoors. We set up the tent, made a fire, cracked a couple beers and threw some dogs on. After having a dog, Brian decided to try and catch us some fish from the stream. He wandered away with his pole in hand and I reclined on the picnic table and stared at the sky. "Hmm", I thought, "might rain".
While I was pondering that ponderable, the camp host pulled up on an electric golf cart. He was a short, skinny 60-something with a grey, military issue flat-top."Howdy" he said.
"Howdy" I replied, smiling.
"Good spot!" he said, pausing and returning the smile.
"It's $40 a night, how long you boys staying?"
"Uh, probably just tonight." I looked around for Brian.
"Okay, well then it's fordee bucks"
"Okay, well, the other guy is paying, so I'll have him head over there when he gets back." He looked around for a minute, then left without saying anything. Brian and I had agreed that he'd pay for the site, as I'd spent a bunch on supplies. Brian appeared from the trees a moment later. He was smoking a cigarette and as he approached he dropped it on the ground and put his fishing pole where I'd been laying.
"No luck" he said, and opened another beer.
"The host guy was here, you need to pay him $40" I said, sipping my beer. He stared thoughtfully at the fire.
"I don't have any cash, we'll pay tomorrow" he concluded. The host pulled up again from where he'd been schmoozing with an older couple down the way. Brian explained the situation.
"Nope, you have to pay tonight." He must have decided we were a flight risk. Brian stared at the fire more while the host and I watched in growing discomfort.
"Okay, we'll go get money. Where's the nearest ATM?" The host told him where it was, ten miles up the hill and then sped away. We stood in silence for a moment, during which it started sprinkling.
"Let's just go home" he said.
"I just spent $80 on all this" I replied, pointing around at the new cooler, food scattered around the site, camp-tableware and booze. "Plus we're already set up."
"Well I don't have $40." Brian had recently inherited a bunch of money from a dead relative, in addition to a bunch of stocks he already had from another inheritance. He had five cars, two boats, a scooter and rented a nice house with a garage big enough to keep them all. He was also a notorious cheapskate and a liar. I'm pretty sure he'd intended on ditching in the morning before the host made his rounds to collect.
"Um... yes you do @#$% head!" I replied calmly.
"I haven't cashed out any stocks and I lost my bank card." The rain got heavier. "Let's go." he finished, then he began packing things up. Pissed but defeated, I followed suit, rolling up sleeping bags, taking down the tent, etc., all the while cursing under my breath between coughs (the cold). It started hailing. We managed to get everything packed into the car in about six minutes. We settled into the car silently. Brian sped out of the campground, passed the confused host, and onto the highway. The worn top on the convertible was flapping wildly, and I was being misted with rainwater that was seeping through it. I coughed and hugged myself.
About 10 minutes into the hour and a half long drive home, the top ripped completely off the car. We were being pelted by torrential rain and hail at 75 miles per hour. "I have to get that" he said, pulling over. I pulled my arms into the torso of my sweatshirt and cursed. It was freezing, and we still had 80 minutes to go. Brian wrestled the decrepit top down into the back seat with our stuff and we took off. Occasionally something would fly out behind us, but I was too cold and pissed to care. I kept thinking the rain would stop when we got lower down, but it continued pissing on us all the way home. By the time we got into town, we were soaked to the bone and shivering violently. I was coughing every couple seconds and felt as sick as a dog. He dropped me off at my house and I got out without a word and walked inside to take a hot shower. He never apologized and he still has my cooler.

Any good camping/rain stories?

Student tasered at Kerry speech.

Amnesty international exposes widespread taser misuse...

Max is a photog.

My brother Max (who is 12) has a flickr account now and uploads lots of pictures of flowers and pumpkins and the like. Check it out and leave him some feedback so that he might become the next Ansell Adams.


Sorry anti-bike bigots, you're wrong.

A common argument of the anti-bike set is that drivers pay for the roads via gas and car taxes, so cyclists are free-loaders. As it turns out, it's quite the opposite! Cyclists are subsidizing their road-use. They also like to state that America spends a disproportionate amount of taxes on bicycle and walking trails, but the Thunderhead Alliance Report of 2007 found that only 1.54% of Federal Transportation dollars are spent on bike and pedestrian projects (p.52), even though 9.6% of all trips made in the US are by bike or foot (p.100). What does all this mean? It means the bike haters don't have a leg to stand on.


My new favorite food.

I've had dry muesli a bunch of times, and I've always sort of considered it granola's ugly cousin. I never knew that the dry muesli we're served here in the states is merely a poor knock-off of a staple food eaten all over Europe for a hundred years. The original recipe as used by Maximilian Bercher-Benner, a Swiss doctor credited with popularizing Meusli around 1900 consists of:
1 tablespoon rolled oats, soaked in 2–3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cream
200 grams apple (about one large, preferably a sour variety), finely grated
optionally top with 1 tablespoon ground hazelnuts or almonds.

Since I'm a fat American, my version is usually more like this:
3 tbs. rolled oats soaked in milk, water or apple juice until plump
1 1/2 tbs. plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 small apples, finely grated
1 tbs. dried cranberries
1 tbs. sliced almonds or walnuts
+ whatever fresh fruit is around
Mix it all together, grab a big cup of dark black coffee and enjoy.

Some people get it.

I came out for exercise, gentle exercise, and to notice the scenery and to botanise. And no sooner do I get on that accursed machine than off I go hammer and tongs; I never look to right or left, never notice a flower, never see a view - get hot, juicy, red - like a grilled chop. Get me on that machine and I have to go. I go scorching along the road, and cursing aloud at myself for doing it. ~H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. ~Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills


Keepon dancing to Spoon's

Amanda and I played with Keepon the robot at the Spoon show. He was in the lobby rocking out the whole time. The inventors were standing next to us in the auditorium.


Back from LA

Just returned from LA where Amanda and I visited with my brother and saw a Spoon show. We flew down on friday and spent the day wandering Venice Beach where he lives (well okay, he lives 2 minutes away from the beach by bike). We met Gabe and his roommate Halina at his house around 6pm and then drove into Hollywood to have dinner at La Poubelle, the restaurant where his girlfriend Melinda works. We had an unremarkable dinner (though the crab ceviche was good) and then had a few drinks with some of Gabe's LA friends at the bar. Someone mentioned a pool party at another friend's house so we loaded into the Prius and met the others at the house. It was a nifty house. As it turned out the house's owner is in a band that you are likely familiar with, and as a result his house was located in the Hills above Hollywood and featured a lovely view of the city. We mingled and swam, drank and laughed, and had a jolly time and when we'd had our fill we headed back down the hill and across the city to Gabe's house where we slept.
In the morning Amanda and I had breakfast at Noah's Bagels (weak coffee) and then walked to the pier where we watched surfers fight for waves. When that got old we walked Venice Beach again, checked out a bookstore, drank a lemonade and then walked over to famous Abbot Kinney road. We had a coffee and then met Gabe back at the house where we read some magazines and shot the breeze before walking over to Mao's Kitchen for dinner. It's a hip, cozy, and surprisingly affordable Chinese restaurant with Chinese Revolutionary posters on the walls and tasty, creative food on the menu. We shared a few entrees and talked about Gabe's job (in advertising). At one point CJ from Top Chef walked by with a gal and a dog. Top Chef is the only TV show I watch and CJ is the person Amanda and I are rooting for to win, so the fact that he walked by was fun. We joked about running after him but let him go. This time. After din we walked back down the beach in the dark where I accurately predicted someone would ask us for our leftovers. So we gave them to a couple dudes who were sleeping under some bleachers and finished the walk home via the canals. The houses on the canals are rad.
Yesterday we woke up early and had breakfast at Joni's. It's a coffee roasting operation with good food and damned good coffee. They roast the beans daily and brew it by the cup. It's strong, dark, sweet, and delicious; no sugar needed. I highly recommend it. Then we met up with some of Amanda's friends from high school who now live in Hermosa and walked all over Venice with them. Afterwards we met Gabe back at his house where we chatted and read for a couple hours before heading out for the Spoon show. We picked up Melinda at her house and drove to the show at Henry Fonda theatre in Hollywood. We waited patiently through the end of an openning set by DJ Dr. Octogon (or something). I still don't understand why they had a rapper opening for Spoon, but whatevs. We took the opportunity to purchase a $7 beer from the bar upstairs. The Spoon show was awesome. Best I've seen. The band was energetic, they played well, and the production value was the best we've seen: lots of colorful lights, good sound mixing, etc. Afterwards we drove down the way to Canter's, a historic Jewish deli with the world's best corned beef and pastrami sandwiches. They serve up 4,900 pounds of pastrami a month and 4,000 knishes a week. There were a couple familiar faces in there too, but I was too busy with my Reuben to care. When we were stuffed to the gills, we walked back to the car, handing over two half-sandwiches to pan-handlers on the way.
This morning Gabe took us to the French Market Cafe. They have a limited but fresh and tasty menu consisting mostly of eggs and fresh-baked breads. Our meals came with green salads and blueberry jam for the bread. Good food and coffee served up by authentically snotty French people, worth checking out. When Gabe asked if he could substitute one bread for another, she basically told him to piss off, but he ended up with the bread he asked for and a funny story to tell. After breakfast we drove to the airport, said our goodbyes and flew home.
What did I accomplish with this trip? Ate lots of good food, walked about a million miles, saw a good show, caught up with old friend and made some new ones. What did I learn? I dunno. Not all LA people are dicks, but plenty are. They're all really lousy drivers. Most of Venice is walkable. I still don't want to live in LA again. That's all.


Attempted murder is okay if you use a car.

Sometimes there's no amount of caution that will keep you from being hit while on your bike. In Des Moines this morning, a driver deliberately hit a cyclist that was riding on the sidewalk. The driver was heading in the opposite direction and flipped an illegal U-turn, drove up onto the sidewalk and ran over the cyclist. He is only being charged with willful injury. I must be missing something. If I was walking down the street, saw someone I dissaproved of, went out of my way to get behind him and stabbed him in the neck, I think I would be charged with attempted murder at least. And of course there are people writing in to the newspaper to talk about what losers cyclists are, and how they deserve what they get. Here's a diagram of the crime scene. And a picture of Robert Brett Kleiber, the murderous, poster-child for birth-control that perpetrated the crime.


The Kona Ute in the US

It is with great pleasure that I announce that indeed, the Kona Ute - which I'd previously reported on - will be sold stateside in '08. It will be sold in one size and color, seen here, for $799. The bike will feature a custom chromoly frame and fork, Deore derailers and disc brakes. I am stoked about this bike. Other neat bikes to look forward to are the Smoke 2-9 with fenders and rack mounts for only $369 and a really sexy cruiser called the 88.


Cyclists: quit dying.

I've already read three news reports of cyclists being hit by cars today in the US. This is nothing new, people get hit by cars while riding every day. And every time it happens, people argue back and forth regarding who's to blame. They hurl insults and spout stereotypes; cyclists run red lights! woman drivers apply make-up while driving! etc. The fact of the matter is that there are people that make poor decisions in the car and on the bike, and the results can be devastating. I've seen accidents caused by bad drivers and those caused by bad cycling - wrong side of the road, no blinkie-light, or whatever. We can all sit around and blame the other side until the cows come home, but unless we act like adults and take responsibility for our own actions, people are going to die tragically and unnecessarily at an alarming rate. So drivers - pay attention when you drive. Cyclists, it's YOUR LIFE at stake. Put some freaking lights on your bike. Wear a helmet. Ride on the right side of the road, and if you're in front of a big truck and it honks at you, suck it up and get out of the way. You might feel like you're losing some dignity if you don't flip them off but would you rather have your dignity intact or your spine.

Mackinaw Bike Porteurs

Utility cycling and bike commuting are the things I try to focus on with this blog, in case it's not obvious. In any case, here is an awesome photostory about the Mackinaw Island Dock Porteur-cyclists and the sweet rigs that allow them to carry 250-500lb loads on the FRONT of their bikes. It boggles the mind. Also check out cyclofiend's working bike photos.

New and Improved Folding Bikes.

Back in March I wrote about some of Dahon's great folding bikes. I have a Dahon S1 that doesn't fit me very well, but it's not nearly as cool as these ones, seen at Eurobike. I think the 2008 Cadenza looks like a big improvement over last year's. via cyclelicio.us


A ride around the Buttes.

Zack and I rode around the Sutter Buttes. All the way around the entire mountain range. It sounds pretty cool unless you know that it's the smallest mountain range in the world, so our whole trip was 41 miles. Not terribly long but it was 110 degrees Fahrenheit when we started and 105 when we finished. The heat sucked, but we also forgot to eat anything substantial before the ride and we both got too little sleep the night before, so all in all, it was good but could have been better. At least we stayed hydrated. I've concluded that my saddle is completely worthless; I think a lava rock would make a preferable perch. After the ride and subsequent recovery period we went to Mountain Mike's Pizza in Marysville for a pizza and pints. The pizza was good but the place was too wierd: glaring supermarket style lights overhead, big-screen TV playing death-metal music videos the whole time, a hundred little kids running around screaming and punching the vending machines and employees who clearly hated their jobs. We ended up boxing up the pizza and going to Casa to meet up with Amanda. She was still working so we ate flan and drank coffee until she was off. Then we all went our separate ways and I went to sleep feeling good and tired; in that order.