Friday, April 30, 2010

Quotable links...

Have not really done my homework this week, and therefore only have two to pass along:

"Part of our commitment now should be to create alternatives to congestion." So far the U.S. Transportation Secretary has said much in support of human powered transport as viable and necessary means of mobility. If only more local officials were as far-seeing, something good might be accomplished.

and then, easily one of the best blogs around. Great writing style, actually just great style period,
"In the evening the wind was up to no good..."

Just came upon one more... "finally, no charges yet in the death of Bahati Foundation cyclist Jorge Alvarado..." Honestly? Alvarado was killed April 8 by a driver who was street racing (illegal, yes) and still no charges after this much time.

Alright then, one more, and then I go and ride, thats the whole point of taking a day off from the work grind. If you have not discovered this blog yet, it is a pleasure and will brighten your darkest days with a myriad of colors. "Let's have some fun this beat is sic. Let's go."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Claremont Folk Music Festival...

This Saturday, May 1st, Sycamore Elementary School in the Claremont Village will be the site of the 29th Claremont Folk Music Festival. There will be stages for musical performances, classes and workshops, activities for the kids, food, dance and handmade arts and crafts. It will be a perfect way to spend an easy day in the heart of Claremont. Why not take the opportunity to make it a truly memorable experience and arrive by bike. Go ahead and sling that guitar, ukelele, fiddle, or even that didgeridoo you painted at the Festival a few years ago, across your back and pedal on over to the Village. I will, my wife and son will as well. It will be fun, exhilarating, healthy. It would be awesome to see a parade of folks on all manner of bikes (sort of like an early 4th of July parade) heading to the Festival from various points around the city; it is a benefit of living in a small, close-knit community where everything is only a matter of minutes away.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the Glare...

At some point during a ride it is sure to happen, usually as I pull up to a stop at a traffic signal, I will turn my head to the left and unleash the glare, eyes focused on each vehicle passing through the intersection in front of me. Admittedly they are usually all a blur, though I do attempt to give each driver individual attention. I focus on the eyes of the drivers; some are looking straight ahead, which I suppose is a good thing, though less effective from the standpoint of the glare. Maybe they feel the glare through some sixth sense, if they do not actually see it. Others glance to their right and notice me, and the glare, and I try to interpret their looks - the most prevalent interpretation (I imagine) is a look of shame, that they could easily be running their myriad errands by bike too, but have sold their souls to convenience. 

The next most common interpretation is the "look of knowing". These are all other cyclists, and the look is one of "damn, I wish I were doing that right now." The third look is the "nice, look at the hot, fit dude on the bike" look, and is always given by attractive women (ha, ha, just keep repeating imagination is more important than knowledge...) Sorry, my mind tends to wander as I wait. Most, actually and unfortunately, are just looks, devoid of any recognition or spirit; I think cars tend to be a lot like vampires in this regard, sucking the life out of their owners.  I am also an equal opportunity provider when it comes to dispensing with the glare; sorry ma, but you would receive it too (that is until realizing it was you who just passed by).

I do realize that this is harsh, that the people withering under the effects of the glare are folks mostly just like me, just trying to accomplish some daily task, and doing it by the means they know best. I also know that the glare, as an expression of loathing, is a poison to my soul - that I am fortunate to be able to get around by means that I actually enjoy, and that what all these people passing by should be seeing is not the glare, but the vibrancy, the aliveness, the freedom of riding. And so I make the effort to banish the glare, which disappears soon anyway, as the light turn green and I pedal on my way.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New ride...

Over the weekend just past, I took the plunge and bought that Origin 8 (run together and pronounce 'originate' Uno) fixed-gear bike which had been hanging out at The Velo. Sealing the deal was finding out that I would not have to buy a new rear wheel to convert it to a single-speed, non-fixed gear. Ain't innovation (in the form of the flip-flop hub) wonderful. I made the 10 mile trek to work on it today, as well as the 12 mile return, and let me tell you it is a different demon entirely with just one gear, 46-16 in this case.  I have never been one to do a lot of shifting anyway, but it became a bit of a task to maintain speed on the run in to work (slightly downhill). Not much difference on the evening return home, but then the prevailing headwind pounds me no matter what I ride. I can certainly see why riding a single-speed bike will make you stronger. Now I do not see this new bike replacing the ol' yellow Basso as top road dog in the garage, but it does present a new challenge, and I do like a good challenge.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday morning slow...

Sunday's are always nice days to slow down, ride into the Village for breakfast, coffee, pick up a few things at the farmer's market, visit with neighbors, and watch the riders come and go.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cycling Claremont: Infrastructure...

New bike racks have sprouted up around town, new features of Claremont's Bike Priority Zone (BPZ) development. I spotted them yesterday, funny how something new like this just grabs your attention, and had to ride back down to the Village today to take some photos. Other parts of the BPZ set to be implemented soon and completed this summer include sharrows, bicycle wayfinding signs, loop detection at traffic signals, and design of a city bicycle logo. As for the racks, there are three new ones; the first outside city hall, the second outside the depot/Metrolink station, and the third near the Packing House in the West Village area. They were installed just this week and are already being used. Small steps, but I like the way things are developing.

The rack at City Hall, painted green to symbolize sustainability.

The new rack at the Depot, color chosen to match the tile roof.

Rack near the Packing House, with colors reflecting the historic citrus industry and the tile mural in the background at the top of the stairs.

The hawk and the snake...

Today in the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park

the hawk, an everyday sight and...

the snake. first of the season, and very shy, he slithered off into the grass as soon
as i got off my bike to take his picture.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Never posted this photo when I got all dressed up for our little tweed ride back in February, since it was taken after the fact. Not a lot of tweed, and that grey in the fu-man-chu is making me feel old. Better late than never?

Support Your Local Bike Shop...

Whenever I have moved into a new neighborhood I have made it one of my first orders of business to seek out the local bike shop (LBS). Heck, even on vacation in a town I will likely never pass through again this is true. There are many practical reasons for doing so. The most commonly cited reasons are service and product. Service is rather self-explanatory - a big box retailer selling less expensive, lower quality bikes does not provide service when the inevitable problem occurs. You must make the repairs yourself (horray for self-sufficiency) or, visit your LBS. There are two aspects that I have found to be important with regard to product - quality and selection. Most bike shops, unless they are exclussive dealers of a single manufacturer, sell multiple brands of bikes enabling you to compare; and the same holds true for components. My favorite shops tend to be those with many display cases filled with stuff that I can see and hold before I buy. There have been numerous occasions over the years when I have been unsure about compatibility between components; a quick ride to the LBS and the kindly folk can clarify your options.

There are also other intangible reasons to discover your LBS, and to get to know the people who work there. Many shops sponsor racing teams and recreational clubs; you can join these for the enjoyment of riding with a group, as well as the discounts that shops will give to team/club members. Shops often organize their own group rides. For years I did a ride from a shop near where I lived - it allowed me to get a good competitive ride in, socialize a bit, and then head off to work; the timing was perfect. Shops frequently hold special events which you will not find at the big box or through online purchasing. Things like customer appreciation night, factory demos, special sales, speakers and fundraisers, are some of the special events at local shops I have attended.

My personal favorite LBS story happened after I had been hit while riding through an intersection on my way to work one morning. My rear wheel was a write-off, but easily replaced. Less easy to manage was the frame damage- that bridge between the seat stays, the piece of tube that the rear brake attaches to, was wrenched clean off. I took the frame into my LBS for their opinion where the manager, who I had come to know from the shop ride and team, and who dabbled in welding, made the necessary repair free of charge. How is that for service!

Most of us who live in an urban area have multiple shops within a short distance of home or work from which to choose. Each may have different strengths and weaknesses. The benefits of just stopping in to look at the goodies, or say hello whenever the opportunity arises become more and more apparent with each visit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Sometimes I do not know whether to laugh out loud or shake my fists in anger over some of the comic and outrageous ploys used by advertisers to promote auto sales. From blatant illegal speeding, to dangerously sketchy maneuvers, to the preposterous image of a luxury SUV perched atop an isolated mountaintop. One currently run commercial falls into this latter category when a voice proclaims that "your car takes care of you..." Not coincidentally perhaps, this is the same company which numerous years ago began marketing, through commercials and toys, those cute little cars that talk, have big smiles, lively eyes and clever names. I even bought into those at one point as my son's once sizable collection could attest. Of course automobiles are not the only things to get the treatment - in the distant past I remember fast food caricatures with eyes and mouths, while more recently we have scrubbing bubbles and walking, talking geckos.

This started me thinking about why we humanize inanimate objects, why we give these things human characteristics and attributes. Obviously, advertisers do it as a marketing device to sell products, resulting in financial benefit for a client. So, I guess a more relevant question would be, as a marketing strategy why does humanizing objects work?

I think as some level it makes these objects seem more important, and thus tied to, or an integral part of, our daily lives; the phrase "an extension of our selves" springs to mind. Consider how many people still consider an automobile to be a necessity almost, it would seem, on a par with food, water and air. Humanizing an object makes it more friendly and hence more appealing. After all, who would willingly associate themselves with something that takes tens of thousands of human lives each year in the U.S. alone, is loud, smells, continually takes money from your wallet, is cold and isolating, regularly increases its owner's stress level, all while doing nothing to foster improved health, etc. ad nauseum. 

Humanizing an object or tool, like a car, makes it easier to look beyond the negatives; how can anything so cute be bad, dangerous, harmful, or at the least unpleasant (why else are street in those commercials usually devoid  of traffic). This type of advertisement unfortunately fosters the perception that a car is a toy, a much more fun and glamorous depiction than the truth, that cars are simply a tool, a means of getting from one place to another. Similarly, they distract our attention from the true costs associated with purchase and ownership. So how about it bicycle manufacturers - lets see a commercial showing the true cost of car ownership vs. bike ownership. I won't even mind if the bike has eyes and a big smile.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rain coming?

Clouds from the incoming storm already hugging the mountain tops. Might get wet on the ride home this evening. It's cool though, whenever I am caught out in the rain, I just imagine I am riding Paris-Roubaix; some of the streets are bad enough to be cobbled sections.

Monday, April 19, 2010

P.E.T. update...

The final section of the Pacific Electric Trail in Rancho Cucamonga is nearing completion. This is the portion on the border with the city of Upland, and connects with the P.E.T. through that city. The firm I work for has done the design of the various sections through Rancho, so it is doubly cool to see the trail nearing completion. The P.E.T. is a multi-use trail, mostly serving a recreational purpose. I will occasionally use it on my commute (mostly I use the streets though, they are quicker) and other riders use it for that purpose, especially in the morning.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Yesterday was a perfect day for a ride to the beach, and I apparently was not the only one with that thought in mind; the San Gabriel River Trail (SGRT) was as busy as I have ever seen it. Racers on speed machines, local surfers hauling their boards to the coast, families and couples spending quality time together, you could see it all yesterday. At the end of the SGRT is a little cafe, the River's End Cafe, to which we have been going for years, great fish tacos, burgers, omlettes. They used to be slow as molasses, but worth the wait; yesterday the service was quick, but the food was not it's usual high quality. Bummer, I hope it was just a one day hic-up and not a longer term change.

Riders on the SGRT

Seaside entertainment

We three

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday feedzone and Quotable links...

"Yes, over 37,000 people - not just statistics, but real human beings with hopes and dreams, families and friends - killed by motor vehicles in a single year is an improvement."

"Walking every day will do more for you health-wise than the entire pharmacy at Walgreens."

"Cities need to be cool to succeed and it is hard to be cool when you're completely surrounded by the detritus of car culture..."

"...An equally impressive feat in his final Hell...16 starts with 16 finishes."

"the air, in my hair."

"Lets just say I felt everything that I wouldn't feel when I'm stuck in the car."

And on that note, have a great weekend. It's better on two wheels. 

To fixie, or not to fixie...

I have had my eyes on this one for a while now. It is a beauty. Just do not know if I could get used to that whole fixed gear/never being able to stop pedaling thing. Anyone have experience adjusting to a lack of a freewheel, when they are all you have ever known?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Noridan is a Korean group composed of musicians and performance artists who make these imaginative pedal-powered devices and instuments out of recycled materials, even the large one, which they call "Sproket" is entirely human powered. They were flown in by the Claremont Graduate University for a couple days of performances. I caught them out of the corner of my eye yesterday while riding home from work; it was pretty amazing, the rythmic music, swirling colors and swinging (literally) musicians. That performance was apparently part of a workshop they held for the school district. Today they were down in the Village, but I was unfortunately unable to make it there on time and could only snap a few photos after the fact. They have a website with performance schedule, but it was not working when I tried. However, the video on the website is pretty good and you can see them in action there.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lost in Translation...

"Cycling should be dull..." said the headline . What? To me, cycling is invigorating and inspiring. If I am up in the hills and canyons, or even a new area on the road, a sense of adventure is almost requisite. The adventure is one of the constant answers to the question "why do you ride?" Even the same route to work comes with daily differences and new thoughts to ponder. Now don't get me wrong, I do understand the point of the article. For cycling to expand into the ranks of the unknowing masses, it needs to become more commonplace. Even so, I hope cycling never  becomes dull, a chore to be endured (I have a car for that). What are you going to do with the English language?

Monday, April 12, 2010

From the Library...

I stumbled upon this book at a local used bookstore one day. Not a book I would buy for the story, it never-the-less has a bike on the cover, so it fits in the collection. Speedy is neither big, nor fast, but he is special all the same. Even though the book was written in the 90's, it reads like it came out of the 50's, maybe that is the author's background. It comes close to being too moralistic for my taste, but that is the type of book it is; it is one of that genre of children's books with a lesson to teach, and it does that well. "The next morning Johnny came out of the house with a new, red, racing bike and rode away. Speedy knew this would happen one day and felt there would be some changes ahead for him. Where would he go now that Johnny did not need him?"

Osourne, Thelma L. The Adventures of Speedy, Winston-Derek Publishers, Inc., 1992

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Renaissance Pleasure Farie for the next seven weekends. That doesn't mean there won't be any cycling, of course. Just saying.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

International Festival / Bike Polo...

I really felt the need to get more than a few miles in so I spun along Baseline to San Dimas and back. Not especially long, but it was somewhat satisfying. With the routine done, the rest of the day was freed up for more interesting things. The three of us rode down to the colleges for the International Festival. A lot of different types of food, music and dance. Put together by students at the colleges, the Fest pulls in a lot of people from the community as well.

Many flowers - in the hair...or on the hats.

Arrive like this group; no parking aggravation.


From there is was time to check into some more bike polo at the Inland Empire beginners tourney. This was the real deal, unlike the practice I watched a week ago. It can get pretty intense at times, but mostly everyone was having fun. Riding, crashing, whacking the ball. For those who do not know the rules, you can not put a foot down; if you do you are out of play for as long as it takes to ride over and touch a post or designated area, depending on how the court is set up. So yes, there is a lot of balancing involved. Dale, at The Velo is ready to form a local team; I might just have to give it a try. Though I will need a proper polo bike. More photos here (slideshow).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday feedzone and Quotable links...

"In LA, with so little open space, we live our lives in the streets. They ought to be liveable places...humanizing our streets ought to be imperative for us...

"San Francisco, early 1930s...a group of young teenagers called themselves the Blister Butt Bicycle Boys..."

"...some people genuinely seem to think getting wet is a state of emergency."

"See, not all bikes are for commuting or training you can mind your business, meet with your peeps, and see stuff around town..."

Enjoy the weekend. For anyone around this area there is a big bike polo tournament at the Colleges all weekend long, and a really good International Festival there on Saturday.

Ghost bike...

8 April, Jorge Alvarado 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bicycle Culture...

The question as to what constitutes bike culture has popped up in a couple different places recently. Being at least a marginal anthropologist (BA '87) the question has captured my interest. I was taught, those many long years ago, that culture refers to the collection of learned and shared beliefs and experiences held in common by a group of people. Strictly speaking, one might think it would be difficult to describe bike culture using this definition. However, there are many, perhaps even most core, experiences that we as cyclists share no matter what type of riding we do; we ride for many of the same reasons, and our expectations are much the same.

The freedom, it keeps me feeling young, I feel energized when I get to the office, it's good for the earth, it is a good way to meet people in your community, the comaraderie, the challenge and adventure, are all typical of reasons for riding. Likewise, our expectations are also mostly shared - to be able to ride safely, to receive the same respect as any other road user, that we will experience the benefits of a healthy, physical lifestyle, etc. These shared experiences, concerns, and expectations define what it is to be a bicyclist and in turn, when taken as a collection, help to define bicycle culture.

Then there is a second aspect of the word culture, which relates to the arts and intelectual  achievements of a society. As a result, when Paul Newman and Katherine Ross ride across the screen to the accompaniment of "Raindrops Keep Falling", or when Moe, Larry and Curly enter a scene astride a bicycle built for three, these are examples of bike culture as well. Or, we can view a painting of a piazza in a small Italian town where, leaning against a wall to the side, the artist has painted a bicycle; another example of bike culture. We can relate to these images with a certain degree of mutual familiarity, itself enabled by common experience.

Images such as those mentioned above and others such as the song "My White Bicycle", or a ghost bike sitting forlornly at a street corner are a part of bike culture less for themselves as physical objects, than for what they represent - their greater meaning to the group of people listening, or viewing them, and the resulting shared experiences that such visual or auditory manifestations represent. 

So, how do these two different definitions tie together? Through shared experiences. An image on a piece of canvas would be simply that if not for the added meaning imbued in them by our shared experiences as bicyclists. Alright, enough for now, but I like the topic and will no doubt return.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cycling art to help cure autism...

So yesterday evening, on my way home from the office, I made a short detour off my regular route in order to visit Boomer's Coffee House in downtown Upland. You see, they have a great little exhibit in there right now - cycling art - paintings and photographs. There is even one signed by the great cycling photographer, Graham Watson. What makes this exhibition even more worthwhile is that it is also a  silent auction, proceeds to benefit the Talk About Curing Autism foundation. Alas the coffee house was all closed up when I rolled on up to the building. 

Oh well, it does give me one more destination for the weekend. Check it out if you are in the area. Boomer's is located next to the Upland Metrolink station at 220 East A Street. Thanks to psyclerider on the STR forum; I "borrowed" the image from him.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cycling Claremont: Infrastructure...

The helpful traffic button specifically designed for cyclists pictured here is on Eighth Street crossing Indian Hill Blvd. Diagonally across Indian Hill lies Memorial Park, the city's primary civic space (site of summer concerts, 4th of July, Easter and the like). On many streets this might lead to right hook conflicts, if after pressing the button a cyclist were to remain against the curb. But Eighth Street is a low traffic street and a cyclist will have little trouble moving back left, into the lane, in anticipation of the signal change. What would work especially well with this type of crossing device would be a green box on the street adjacent to it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Tamera's Bianchi with pink tire, and Rhapheolepis in bloom. Short and sweet.

Friday feedzone and Quotable links...

Welcome to this recap of some of the interesting stories from the week, a day late (last evening was a little busy). Coast to coast, issues with simple respect, whether it be respect for the law, or respect from our fellow human were, unfortunately brought to the fore. From San Francisco, to New York, individuals in positions of authority overstep their bounds. The city of Burbank shows it does know how to design a road for all users. I like how much I have been reading about cycling in my old stomping grounds of NELA lately, and now bike corrals too. I have long considered driving to be the most boring and mind numbing of the chores that I would have to do, Streetsblog looks at the true cost of that miserable car commute.

Friday, April 2, 2010

An afternoon of bikes...

Riding bikes, watching bikes, talking bikes. One of the best things about Claremont is it's plethora of opportunities for those of us who like to ride. While the Basso took a day of rest, I brought out the big wheels for a spin through the local canyons and across the hillsides of Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. Green grasses rippling across the slopes with the ebb and flow of the breeze. Hypnotic, if you stare too long. Hawk takes flight from a nearby perch to break the trance. Wildflowers adding splashes of color on the fringes. It was mostly a slow ride back down canyon; many families out enjoying the sun and blue sky.

I love old dead trees like this; the kind you see in spooky movies

Cloud patterns

Looks like the Easter Bunny passed this way.

Leg shot, with dirt

Monkey flower

So after my journey to the country, I visited the town. I needed to drop some bills off at the post office, so I cut through the colleges. While doing so I spotted some bike poloists practicing before their evening match. Very cool, and though I have known about the sport for a while, this was the first time to actually see them going at it. I declined an invitation to join them; can't imagine how many times I would fall over if I tried that. You really need some extra special bike handling skills.

Finally, to cap things off, I paid a visit to the Velo; looked at the new stock, talked about this and that. People came and went after minor fixes to their bikes; a new white saddle to match white wheels on a fixie, raise a saddle a smidge on an old French road bike. And now maybe I'll go watch some more bike polo.

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