Jokes, love, bicycles

The following is an excerpt from a wonderful Wichita Falls Times Record News piece about Fred Mathes, 92, and his Schwinn Traveler, 56:

Diana Marcum/McClatchey Newspapers
Monday, June 9, 2008

MADERA RANCHOS, Calif. —Fred Mathes rides his bike to the post office (which in this neighborhood is inside the local video store), to the local diner, and out through the open fields.

“Did you hear about the centipede who fell in a ditch?” he asked. “He couldn’t get up. He was too exhausted trying to figure out what foot to put first. Same thing with a bike. Who needs 18 gears?”

In 2002, Mathes sent a photo of his bicycle to the Schwinn company.

“I told them, here’s a picture of my bike. It’s 50 years old and has maybe 35,000 miles on it. You can use it in your advertising no charge.

“They sent me back a pair of socks.”

In my estimation, Fred just about has it all figured out. I highly recommend reading the full story.

Read the Full Story >>

[via The Velvet Foghorn]

The Tortoise Beats the Hare

The Tortoise

I recently tracked my cycling mileage for the first time in a couple of years as part of the Sacramento Region May is Bike Month Program. Coincidentally, while closing down my Bike Journal account the other day (after not using it for a couple of years), I happened to take a look at my old mileage totals just for kicks; what I found was quite a surprise. If you asked me how my current utilitarian mileage stacks up against my old fitness/recreation mileage, I would have bet anything that I was logging more miles when I was a riding strictly for sport. Not so. To my astonishment, last month I logged nearly 50% more miles than my highest mileage month logged on Bike Journal. As it turns out, a whole bunch of short utilitarian trips can quickly add up to be more miles than a smaller number of longer recreational trips. That’s a pretty cool unintended consequence of reducing one’s car use.

The Hare

Pashley-Moulton TSR8 Impressions

Alex Moulton saw drawbacks in the traditional diamond frame bicycle and decided he could improve upon it. He started experimenting with new designs in the 1950s and after a number of years of development the first Moulton was released in 1962. It incorporated a number of radical innovations for its time including the use of small wheels, front and rear suspension, and a low step-over “unisex” frame layout. The original Moulton design was quite successful, but for various reasons (related mostly to poor business decisions and plain bad luck) the company has gone through a number of ups-and-downs over the years.

From 1992 to 2005, through a licensing deal with Moulton, Pashey manufactured an economical version of the prohibitively expensive Alex Moulton AM called the Pashley-Moulton APB (for all-purpose bicycle). The APB was a success, but in 2005, after a 14-year run, it was redesigned and updated to be lighter and more performance oriented, the result being the Pashley-Moulton TSR.

The TSR line includes four models: the TSR 30 based upon a 10-speed Campagnolo triple drivetrain; the TSR 27 based upon a SRAM DualDrive 3×9 drivetrain; the TSR 9 based upon a SRAM 9-speed derailleur drivetrain (with a single front chainring); and the TSR8 based upon an 8-speed Sturmey-Archer internal gear hub drivetrain. The different TSR models all share the same frame; the differences lie in the component details only. [Correction: There are two subtly different versions of the frame; one accepts caliper brakes, the other accepts linear-pull brakes. -ed.]

I am by no means an expert on Moultons, and I’ve only ridden a handful of small-wheeled bikes, so instead of attempting a full-fledged review I’ll simply provide a few impressions and observations.

Like all Moultons, the TSR is a visual treat with its space-frame design. The clean brazing and beautiful gloss blue powder-coat can be clearly seen in the zoomed photos. The overall workmanship is excellent.

The components are a mid-level mix from Sunrace/Sturmey-Archer, Alex, and Tektro. The standout is the SA 8-speed rear hub. It is smooth, quiet, and trouble-free. Like many internal gear hubs it shifts best when under little to no load, though it does shift reasonably well under a moderate load. With only a single chainring, the gearing is somewhat limited; I’d recommend one of the TSR derailleur models for touring. For commuting and around town riding the 8-speed gear range is sufficient, with the simplicity and cleanliness of the gear hub being a real plus in all-weather conditions.

The ride is amazingly smooth for a small wheeled bike with high-pressure Stelvio tires. When I first got on the TSR, I actually stopped twice to check the tire pressure; the ride was so silky smooth I thought I might have a flat tire. It is far more smooth and comfortable than my S-Series Brompton. The suspension does tend to bob just a bit when climbing out of the saddle, but it was something I became accustomed to in short order.

As my loaner TSR was set-up, the ride position was just a bit more cramped than a traditional diamond-frame bike. With some minor adjustments it could undoubtedly be made to fit like a standard road bike.

The steering is quick—typical for a small wheeled bike—but not as quick as some folding bikes with smaller 16″ wheels.

The TSR is NOT a folding bike and is more accurately classified as a “separable”. Breaking it in half requires disconnecting the rear brake and shifter cables, removing a kingpin bolt, and unthreading a locknut. With a little practice a person should be able to get through the procedure in less than two minutes. What you’re left with are two, fairly clumsy bike halves. This feature would be useful for someone wanting to carry the bike in an automobile trunk or box it for shipping, but don’t mistake the TSR for a folding bike for multi-modal commuting.

The TSR is a unique design that is beautifully executed. I see it as a replacement for a traditional club racer, but with the added bonus of breaking down for storage or transport inside a small vehicle. With the addition of racks it could be used as a commuter, but because it doesn’t break down small enough to take on a city bus and the wheels are too small to fit most transit bus racks, it’s limited to point-to-point commutes. It’s such a beautiful, delicate bike, I can’t imagine locking it up outside or dragging it through a bustling train station anyway.

More Information

Many thanks to Rick Steele of Gold Country Cyclery in Shingle Springs, CA for providing the Pashley-Moulton TSR8 used for this report.

A First Ride

My Mother-in-law (aka Nana) had both of her knees replaced last year. It’s been a slow road coming back, but she’s doing great and she’s in a far better place now than she was before her operation. In recent months she’s expressed an interest in increasing her exercise level, either through swimming or possibly a bike, so on her most recent birthday we surprised her with a new delta trike. Today was her first real outing on the trike. We wanted to make it a fun time, so we turned it into a picnic ride.

At around lunchtime we rode the bikes to the grocery store to pick up lunch, which included deli sandwiches, pasta salad, chips, drinks, and Australian licorice for dessert. From there we headed over to Nana’s to meet her for the short ride to our picnic park. The ride from her place to the park was only about 2/3 of a mile, but for someone that could barely walk a year ago and hasn’t been on a bike in decades, it was quite an accomplishment.

The park was beautiful, lunch was yummy, the weather was perfect, and we were blessed with a show of multi-colored dragonflies, hummingbirds, squirrels, quail, and hawks circling overhead. But the best part of the trip was seeing Nana’s face lit up, and hearing her talk about all the places she wants to ride her new trike. She’s already talking about doing her grocery shopping with the trike, and she’s trying to figure out how to get all of her senior friends on trikes too (they all came by the other night to ogle her trike).

As we left her this afternoon she was already planning another ride for this evening. We had to remind her to take it slow and not overdo it. It’s pretty amazing to see her so excited and we couldn’t be happier for her.

Fuel Economy

Photo © bikelovejones

This photo of bikelovejones’ Xtracycle just about says it all.

[via bikelovejones]

Strange Bikes

We humans are funny creatures. We can’t help but divide, then divide again, into ever smaller groups, pulling up the drawbridges and fortifying the ramparts after each successive cell division. This strange behavior seems to be hardwired into our psyche.

Cyclists, being the highly-evolved members of the human race that they are (ha!), take this behavior out to the edge of absurdity. First we have bikes; then we have road bikes and dirt bikes; then we branch off into the various subdivisions of single speeds, 3-speeds, cruisers, recumbents, roadsters, folders, tri-bikes, road racing bikes, BMX bikes, crit bikes, cyclocross bikes, commuters, cargo bikes, etc. Then finally, it gets crazy, with long-wheelbase recumbents versus short wheelbase recumbents, 16″ folders versus 20″ folders, 29ers versus downhillers, and on-and-on, ad infinitum.

So maybe we should try expanding the borders a bit, out to a place just this side of car culture.

Don’t get me wrong, I love diversity. Having such a plethora of bikes to choose from is incredible. But it’s pretty weird how we quickly gather into our little groups and defend our ground against the “others” on their strange bikes. And as much as it bugs me, mostly I’m as susceptible as the next guy to this odd form of bicycle induced xenophobia, though at least my position as a bicycle double-agent places me in a unique position to see the absurdity of it all.

See, I’m a bike defector; I crossed enemy lines from uprights (what recumbent riders call “wedgies” with a snicker) to recumbents (what upright riders call “lawn chair bikes” with a sneer), and now I’ve come full-circle back to uprights. Well, I shouldn’t really say “I’ve come full-circle”; it’s more like I drank the Kool-Aid and the Crystal Light. I still ride bents and uprights, as well as folders and roadsters and tandems and…

Somewhere along the way, after all this sleeping with the enemy, I figured out that all bicycles are really cool. Fixies, velomobiles, trikes, SUBs, Chinese roadsters, Dutch city bikes, bents, tandems, unicycles (really!), you name it; I think they’re all amazing. As I outlined in this rant from a couple of months ago, it would be very nice if mainstream dealers stocked a more balanced selection of bikes, but in actuality, we’re pretty damned lucky to have such a smorgasbord of bike goodness at our fingertips.

So maybe we should try expanding the borders a bit, out to a place just this side of car culture. Maybe we should attempt to be more inclusive and focus on all the good things we have in common, instead of getting lost in the minutiae of our differences. Maybe we should take a risk and take a ride on one of those strange bikes sometime, just to see how the other half lives. Who knows, we might be pleasantly surprised by what we find.

The Dangers of NOT Cycling

A Healthy Alternative

Given the general perception that cycling is dangerous, we may take comfort in the fact that bike commuting is actually very good for your health.

According to a 1996 study funded by the Australian Department of Transport, regular cycling reduces over four times as many heart attack fatalities as it increases in collision fatalities¹. By choosing not to ride to work, you’re substantially increasing your probability of dying prematurely, even when weighed against the risks associated with cycling in traffic.

A similar 2000 study, funded by the Danish Medical Research Council and the Danish Heart Foundation, found the dangers of cycling are far outweighed by the health benefits derived from the daily, moderate exercise that is typically associated with bike commuting. From the study: “Even after adjustment for other risk factors, including leisure time physical activity, those who did not cycle to work experienced a 39% higher mortality rate than those who did.”

Clearly, even when weighed against the increased risks associated with cycling in traffic, bike commuting is very good for your health and longevity. And when considered along with its other significant benefits such as reduced costs, reduced pollution, and reduced traffic congestion, travelling by bike makes a tremendous amount of sense.

Roberts, Owen, Lumb, MacDougall, 1996: Pedalling Health, p.64, Table 2

© 2011 EcoVelo™