Well, my bike finally let me down.  For the first time since I've been commuting by bike, I had a failure that I couldn't fix on the road.  I broke a spoke on my front wheel and it just wasn't ridable.  Fortunately, my parents were in town and my Dad was kind enough to swing out with a car and rescue me, otherwise it would have been a walk to catch the bus.  This is the first spoke I've ever broken on a road bike, all the rest have been off-road, resulting from very obvious causes.

National Bike Summit

I've been listening to a cycling podcast, called The Fred Cast , for a while now.  Its a convenient way to get some cycling news while traveling up and down the bike trail to and from work.  Recently, David, the host, attended the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit and provided his thoughts and a couple recordings of the speeches made at the event. 

The first was a talk given by Mayor Jerry Abramson, from Louisville, KY.  It was great to hear a mayor who has been transformed by cycling and in a position where he can make real changes.  You can read about his Bike Lousiville Project or listen to the talk he gave at the bike summit.  Mayor Abramson was transformed after a visit to Colorado, hopefully, other people will be transformed after they see how far Louisville has come.

The second recorded talk was given by John Burke from Trek.  For those that don't know, Trek has recently become a leader in the bicycle industry, trying to promote advocacy by bicycle companies.  You can see a copy of the sides he used during the talk and listen to his talk.

Neither of these talks are Earth shattering, but they are both extremely encouraging.

All These Years…

I'm continually amazed by how much I have to learn about bicycle care.  After all these years, I would have thought I knew how to clean a chain, but obviously I had it completely wrong.  Check out this definitive guide to chain cleaning offered by  Sheldon Brown.

John McCain Learns a Hard Lesson

Politicians are trying to woo the younger generation of voters by trying to cultivate an online presence.  Most of the potential presidential front runners have  setup MySpace profiles in an attempt to appear open and available to these younger voters.  I couldn't help but chuckle to myself when I read about some recent fumblings of McCain's IT staff.  You can read about the entire series of events, but the bottom line was a third party was able to play a little prank on McCain's MySpace entry and make him appear to support gay marriage and lesbian relationships.  I wonder how many people saw this, before his IT staff could correct the mistake, believed it to be true and were shocked by McCain's sudden change of heart.

It’s a Cup of Expresso!

There was a recent discussion in our department about the expectation that users of the espresso machine clean up after themselves.  The discussion went on way to long and culminated with this:

"But let us think about this for a moment, in a scientific way: If n people each brew m cups of coffee a day and the machine needs to be cleaned every k cups (where we assume that it so happens that water needs to be refilled whenever the dump box needs to be emptied), then the machine needs to be cleaned nm/k times a day; or dnm/k times over a period of d days. Furthermore, as d increases, each of those n people asymptotically has to clean the machine (dnm/k)/(nm) = d/k times a day. Interestingly we observe, that each person has to clean the machine d/k times a day, whether she/he walks away without cleaning it or cleans it another time when she/he wants to brew another coffee. Of course this assumes everybody always cleans the machine either after or before usage and that somebody who finds the machine uncleaned does actually clean it if her/his intent was to brew a coffee.

You are proposing to clean the machine after usage because everybody likes to have a clean espresso. However, then we need to rely on people actually cleaning it after usage. Here I propose a more robust solution: If everybody cleans the machine before usage (if required), then everybody is forced to clean the machine if she/he wants a cup of coffee. If somebody is not willing to clean it, she/he is inherently "punished" by not getting a coffee."

The danger of letting computer scientists discuss cleanliness.

Air Powered Car

There is an article about an air powered car that is on the verge of being mass produced in India.  It has a range of 200 – 300 km per fill up and is estimated to cost about $3 per fill up.  Of course, they don't cover the underlying issue of how you get air compressed without using fossil fuels, but that steals all the fun from this article.  The oil, one liter of vegetable oil, needs to be changed every 50,000 km.  Is this yet another stake in the heart of the American car makers?

Tire Recommendation

I've started using Panaracer Pasela and Pasela TG tires on my commuter bike.  It's the first tire I've ever recommend other people try.  They are reasonably priced, cheap compared to some of the other flat resistant tires, and wear very nicely.  My most recent tire, a 700x26c Pasela TG, lasted more than 3,800 miles on the rear.  Before these tires, I used Continental Gator Skins and Specialized Armadillos, neither of these tires made it much past the 2,000 mile mark.

Bike Commuter Act

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) are joining cycling advocates to introduce the Bike Commuter Act in Congress this week. The bill amends a section of the IRS code to include "bicycles" in the definition of transportation covered by fringe benefits. It provides incentives for employees to ride to work, recognizing that more than 50% of people commute five miles or less to their jobs and could easily do it on a bicycle, particularly if there's money to be made. With financial incentives presently offered for various types of commuting, Blumenauer and Wyden figure it's time to include cyclists in the Transportation Fringe Benefit. Unfortunately, the news release didn't say what the incentive would be. Perhaps that's part of the debate.  Excerpted from

Every year as I file my taxes and come across the exemption for  hybrid vehicles.  I've often wondered why they didn't encourage people to ride a bus, bikes, or walk.  Perhaps it will finally become a reality.


I thought I spent a lot of time on a bike and amassed a large number of days ridden each year.  A recent post on the RBR newsletter showed me I have a long way to go: 


Great Scott!

At the end of each December, we've updated you on the streak owned by
RBR contributor Jim Langley. He's now in his 14th year of riding
(indoors or out) at least one hour every day.

Imagine riding 4,797 days in a row. That's Jim's total today.

We've said that his streak may be a world record because none of us
had heard of anyone claiming a longer string of consecutive days.

Well, it turns out that Jim, 53, has a ways to go.

We've learned that Scott Dickson, a 57-year-old former college
professor in Newark, Delaware, has a steak that will reach 24 years in
May. He's approaching 8,700 consecutive rides — and counting.

All of Scott's rides have been outside despite living where winter is
harsh in Iowa, Kansas and Ohio. (Jim is in Northern California.) Even
Delaware is no day at the beach in February, as those of us living in
the East were reminded last week by a crippling winter storm.

From 1988 to 1998 Scott's minimum daily ride was 20 miles (32.2 km).
It's been 3 miles (4.8 km) since then, meaning Scott could keep his
streak alive on just 21 miles (33.8 km) a week and little more than an
hour of effort. Jim, meanwhile, would total at least 7 hours of
pedaling during the same period.

Do not, however, even begin to think that Scott would take the easy
road. Get a load of his astounding career stats (as of late January):

—710,000+ lifetime miles (1,143,100 km) since January of 1973.

—549,000 miles (883,890 km), 1,472 centuries, and 381 race victories
since his last day off the bike.

—23,200 average annual miles (37,352 km) for 25 years.

—27,513 miles (44,296 km) in biggest year, 1987.

—21,397 miles (43,449 km) in smallest year, 2001.

—1,826 century days (days with 100+ miles, 161+ km).

—At least one century per month for 301 consecutive months.

—Feb. 28 & 29 and Dec. 5 & 13 are the only calendar dates on which
he hasn't ridden a century.

—442 race victories since 1965, including three first-place finishes
in Paris-Brest-Paris and three U.S. masters championships.

Scott says the idea of riding every day was born in 1973 when he read
a news bit in a bike racing magazine. The clipping has been in his
cycling log ever since: "Merckx's other golden rule is never to let a
day go by without riding the bike, no matter what the weather."

We hooked up Scott and Jim, figuring that if any two roadies had
something in common it's these guys.

Scott was pleased to make contact, and told RBR, "All these years I
pretty much kept the streaks to myself thinking that nobody else would
ever be into this, let alone understand."

Spring Cycling Phenomenon

It's that time of year again.  Spring is around the corner and people who spent much of the winter inside hiding, riding trainers, or rollers are starting to emerge.  A fridn on an email list recently summed up this strange cycling phenomenon by saying…

The first big group ride of the year… there are four types of riders there…

One group – hibernators… Generally not around long are the ones who get dropped early because they haven't been riding the bike all winter

Second group – trainer rats… Their bike is locked into place for the entire winter, so they often have power and fitness but can't hold a line to save their life and are horrible to draft off, i.e. squirelly…

Third group – roller folks.  They are just as fast or faster than the trainer folk, can ride on the white line for miles and never touch the black top, they offer the best draft and have smooth accelerations and great pedaling form.  Typically, they prefer to spend as much time in the wind leading the pack as it takes less energy than trying to draft behind group number two and thus wind up stronger and fitter than the trainer rats.

Fourth Group – The tough ones… The ones who have been riding outside all year despite the cold.  Theya re the ones who show up tot he first group ride in shorts and maybe a long sleeves when the rest of the riders have thermal windfront tights, base layers under long sleeve jerseys, balaclavas, lobster gloves, and a warsaw type winter jacket.  This fourth group is not to be messed with.  A winter of riding on sketchy roads loaded with salt and sand gives them the edge, never follow them down hill at speed if you are in groups one or two – third groups only hope is to fall back on the roller skills and stick in the wheel marks.

To sum it up: Not Riding = really bad, Trainer = bad, Rollers = Good, Riding Outside = Best