Thursday, December 31, 2009
2009 Resolution #1 - No more wimping out on the commutes!
- I was pretty consistent with my commuting this year, when the schedule allowed. I didn't whine about the roads and I even used my insulated vest that Kristen got me when it got cold enough. However, the schedule was a problem, repeatedly. See, I was part of a mass reorganization of the bike planning regional groups, which meant about 10 meetings, and Kristen is leading the charge to update the city's Comprehensive Plan which meant about 20 meetings, so between that (and tubes in the kid's ears and a million appointments related to that) and the usual delays for Florida weather, opportunity didn't exist to actually do more commuting. I'm going to call this one a Push.
2009 Resolution #2 - Hate them during and love them after!
- This was a road training motivational resolution. For the first part of the year, It worked out well, but then I was witness to a pretty horrific crash (right in front of me), one of those crashes that reminds you that not all riders in a shop-organized training ride know what they are doing, and instead, most don't, and from then on I strangely found other things to do on ride days. The house got a lot of attention this last year, as did the VW, and my closest riding buddy went through a personal upheaval of sorts, and that didn't help me organize myself to participate in events like the MS150 like I'd planned. 6 months of success and 6 months of fail. Call it another Push.
2009 Resolution #3 - Personal Weight Goals 185-190
- After leaving the holidays last year at 200 pounds, I was able to drop back down a bit, but my 190 never materialized. After the holidays this year I weigh 210. I have work to do. Fail.
2009 Resolution #4 - No Beer, No Soda No Fast Food.
- Fail. I brew beer and my kid is addicted to burgers.
2009 Resolution #5 - Be More Optimistic
- Fail. I am the same old grump I was when the year started. Blame the job. My friends though, always tell me how much more mellow I am now that I'm married with a family. I must have been a raging Ass before my wedding day.
The Professional Resolutions - Welding Classes, Cycling Industry Activity, LSAT
Uh...FAIL - Although I DID buy a few GRE books. Hey, my dad didn't learn to weld until he retired from USF! Jacksonville is NOT the place where I want to start any business, so that is more on hold than Fail, and I've ruled out the LSAT. That ship has sailed.
So there it is. Much like everyone else in the USA, I've not achieved the things that I thought would be important this year. Instead, I took three bike trips with my closest friends, one to the other side of the country, invested lots of time in my house and family, tinkered with my bikes and cars and learned to brew my own beer. On paper that may look like a Fail, but all things considered, I wouldn't trade the year for anything.
And that's the biggest measure of a man's time, isn't it?
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
XTR 910 front hub, sans skewer (these never have skewers...people must eat XTR skewers like crack rock sprinkled on their Captain Crunch.) 910 hubs are easily the prettiest things to ever strut the XTR moniker. Hmmm 910 hubs. Pretty. I'm a whore for the 910 hubs.
S2000 SDG saddle in black, full kevlar. Hmmm...SDG Kevlar. Pretty. I'm a whore for the Kevlar.
A Damn sight sexier than Heifer International!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Well recently I had to drive up to Nassau County for a Bike/Ped Advocacy group meeting, and I'll be damned, the monkey cage is still there!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
There is no number one for me, just a list of 10. You may assign numbers as you wish.
Cunningham - The first of the 'modern' functional. Still looks good today.
Klein Adroit - THE race hardtail and the top of the breed.
MC San Andreas - FS replicated for ages by almost everyone. 20 years later we're still seeing the evidence from the hydroformed-monocoque, disc brake revolution.
AMP B2 and other Horst-Link Mac-Strut variations - first no sacrifice cross country full suspension race frame.
Fat Chance Yo - THE east coast race hardtail. These guys, along with Klein, were the builders that sparked a generation of CNC part-buying madmen like me, with their wild colors and inventive graphics and funky bike names. Would Cook Bros or Grafton or Ringle' be what they are today, reputation wise, if seemingly every Fat built wasn't hung to the nines with gaudy blue and purple bits? Monster good, Wicked better, Shaver in a pinch, but the primo was Yo.
Bridgestone MB-0 and MB-1 - Modern simplicity and the seed for the above mentioned Yo. Grant Peterson had it right, we just didn't know it until it was gone. Now people want the catalogs almost as much as the frames!
Grove Hard Core - East coast meats mean, and inspires many, including my beloved EWRs
Brodie Romax - With Canadian efficiency Paul Brodie sparks a steel frame slope-tube revolution. Feel free to substitute your favorite Rocky or TBG frame, or another Brodie for that matter. Keep your DeKerfs to yourself please.
Cannondale SM and the later Beast of the East - Light, fast and aggressive. An east coast favorite, and with 24 inch wheels out back on the early models and always with high bottom brackets and short wheelbases, very different from offerings from any other major manufacturer.
Pace - And to throw a bone to the boys overseas, The many square tubed variants from Pace. Here in the states, we knew early on that there were mountain bikes in Europe and that you guys were having fun too, and the bikes that made a splash back then were these babies. Reversed forks put them over the top.-
(OK, there's 11 on this list, so shoot me)
Ventana - Sherwood Gibson made welding aluminum an art form, and he did it by hand. Ventanas were (and are) designed very well, and they were durable, and functional. Ericksen and Moots did the same for Ti.
Top Drawer Components Award - WTB - Once upon a time they didn't have that new partner yet who was the 'business mind' of the company, and before that point, their developments, brakes and Grease Guard, were the stuff of legends. Honorable mention to Syncros and to IRD, both a little left field but neither ever dangerous. Good solid stuff only available in silver and black. We still sport IRD 2-bolt style seat posts today! Along with WTB, these guys were the standard bearers for dependability back in the day (with maybe Control Tech, bringing up the rear, say if you were low on cash and needed a single part to get you rolling.)
The Shame List.
1 - Cannondale Super V and Raven - Ugly fragile crap that attracted Cannondale into motorcycle production and nearly sent the brand into the shitter. Biggest failure - that the ugly POS's stayed around as long as they did.
2 - Trek Y bikes - Coming from the boing-boing company was a sus frame that nearly was as bad as Trek's earlier doughnut failure. If it weren't for the fact that it looked like a hair-band guitar, nobody would have wanted one.
3- Klein Mantra - Yeah Gary, I'd have sold that company too! The picture of crappy design. Only a company on the auction block could make a full suspension frame look like a Dahon folding bicycle. Honorable mention for the Dahon Folding Bike Shame Award goes to Sling-Shot.
4 - Nishiki Alien - Richard Cunningham really didn't design much that worked right or didn't break. Seriously, lets admit it. The closest to perfect RC ever got was the Pro-Floater, and one of the more common adjectives assigned to that baby back in the day was 'fragile'. The Alien though, brought all those design missteps to the masses, even featuring dropouts too shallow to properly hold a quick release. By the way, Zapata ran the rag better too.
5 McMahon - MRC - Everything this guy got involved with seemed like it became a lawsuit, and yet he kept going, and going, and going. Brittle frames hung with crap forks and weird brakes. If you don't like your teeth, just ride a Shaka fork.
BONUS! Crap Components Award Kooka - Not a bike company, obviously, but they need a mention on any crap list. More than anyone else, Kooka represented the whole "Machine it pretty and they will buy it even if it doesn't work at all" ethos. Garbage. Honorable mention to Ringle'. Were it not for sponsor deals and promotions with the likes of Yeti and Greg Herbold and GT and just about everybody else on the pro circuit back in the day, Ringle' would be derided for its crap-ness. We love Ringle' because the pros loved Ringle', and not because Ringle' deserved any love.
And I'm spent!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
32 hole XTR M900 rear hub, sans skewer. Used.
Ritchey Logic cantilever brake levers, made by Dia Compe in Japan.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Anyway. About 4 years ago I was part of a crew here in town that got a $50,000 grant and installed 148 bicycle racks in the urban core of my fair city. They are nifty little pole racks, with a little lariat loop for your bike, and a little gold bicycle emblem at the top to promote their visibility and overall bicycle use downtown. Still...I see this ALL the time?
Sunday, December 13, 2009
All I want is a nice dry day with normal humidity so I can paint the damn Yokota. Until then, she waits...
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
This is important people. We are being screwed. Not that the Chinese can't make shoes, or shouldn't make shoes for other companies...I'm not that ethnocentric. But where we get screwed is, those Clark's shoes didn't get any cheaper when manufacturing left the UK and went abroad. Clark's still sells them for top dollar (and as "Clark's of England" no less! The audacity!), and no local manufacturing or employment benefits. You pay out the nose, Clark's management and stock holders show a bloated bottom line fat with profit from selling their made-with-cheap-labor product at full price, some poor Chinese dude loses a finger working an 18 hour shift sewing up your shoes, and your neighbor loses his job at the shoe factory. Over time, the Clark's brand degrades (see Soliman Boots, Bass, Dexter, Nunn Bush, etc for examples of great shoe companies with reputations going down the pooper) until even the name means nothing, and then whamo! Timberland Boots!!...nothing left but overpriced garbage., and another cautionary tale of brand mismanagement. Everyone loses in the end.
Remember when business models were based on staying in the black? Not running at a loss? No red ink? When did we switch over to a global perception toward the business model as being like a dishrag, where you wring it out for all its worth until there's nothing left but a mangled worthless mess? Do all companies really need to dominate the world market? Couldn't Clark's just exist to make funky comfortable shoes in reasonable numbers and turn a small profit? Who decided to take Clark's "Global"? Who''s next? Birkenstocks made in Singapore, still selling at $200 a pair?
We are being exploited here, people...and we are being cultivated to believe that these companies that choose to shutter their manufacturing operations in developed countries, will only stay in business if they can make crap overseas with cheap labor. Garbage Deal all around, I say. We need to collectively make sure that companies know that they strike these greed driven cheapo manufacturing deals at their peril. Choose with your wallets. Check your labels. Buy locally when you can, first and foremost, for the job you save, indirectly maybe, may be your own. Then look for and only consider those name brand products still produced in developed countries, where folks make a fair living wage. Finally, yeah, we need to buy some stuff from China and India and Viet Nam. We are in a global economy. I get it, I really do. Some things are ONLY made in these and other labor-cheap countries, but remember that those products should be priced accordingly. Expect that the stuff in Family Dollar will have a made in China sticker on it. That's OK. Cheap to make, means cheap to sell. I don't want it, but I understand why people do. BUT... Levi's, for 75 bucks a pair, should still be made in San Fran and not Panama. That $4k Specialized carbon fiber mountain bike? From China?! Who gets the cash for THAT little manipulation!? Spend your $4k on an American made bicycle, or one made in Spain, or Italy, or Germany or France. You have that choice and that choice has power.
If you pick up a hemp green and Cheetos orange sweater and the tag says Made in Pakistan, then the price tag needs to say $10. If it says , say...$100?...then put the sweater back and keep walking. Some fat cat at a desk somewhere is hoping you buy that bloated-price sweater, and you need to make sure he FEELS your understanding of the economics of his product, and that you won't support his rampant and calculated greed any longer. Make him feel it. Make him feel it hard.
Well, that's the guy running my Clark's shoe company into the toilet, and he's the only one profiting from it.
Yeah, I gave you that Transformers link to tempt you to put a drill bit in your throat...or maybe this little buzz-saw in your pants.
So if you've got a tweaked rodent you'd like to promote, then send me a picture and I'll stick 'em up on the bloggo.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Yup...Fixie Culture is dead.
Don't let any skinny-jean wearing black-haired heroine waifs on rattle can pink Schwinn Varsities tell you any different. When old farts in Palatka start advertising on Craigs List offering bicycle painting services, and their example photos are of your typical nonfunctional fixie crap, you KNOW it's over. Fixie culture in Palatka?!? Sorry Hipsters...time to find a new groove.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I always wonder about these studies when I see them, as in my experience as an Urban Planner and Bike/Ped Coordinator, they seem to be nearly always manipulated to reveal a predetermined and flawed result.
1 - A study done here in the states determined that Louisville Kentucky and Jacksonville Florida (where I am) were the two least walkable communities in the continental US. Results were based on a simple ratio of total city municipal land area to total sum of sidewalks in miles. One problem though... both Louisville and Jacksonville are organized as consolidated governments with their respective counties, (a much larger and more rural boundary than the urbanized city centers.) In other words, Jacksonville and Louisville were punished in the walkability ratings for not having sidewalks on hundreds of miles of rural roads, where other cities without consolidated city/county governments were not held accountable for the lack of sidewalks on roads within their surrounding rural county lands, and therefor fared much much better for no reason other than bad assumptions and misguided methodology.
2 - A local University completed a study of traffic/pedestrian accidents in the coastal community of Jacksonville Beach. All intersection based pedestrian accidents with injuries or fatalities reported were included in the study. Intersections with the highest number of incidents of injury or death were targeted as needing infrastructure improvements. One problem though... There was no baseline data for total number of pedestrians using the intersections to consider the accident data against, so an intersection with, say 20 incidents of injury or death was targeted as being the most dangerous, even though it was arguably the most busy intersection for pedestrian traffic in the town, with thousands of pedestrian trips a day, whereas a much less busy intersection with an injury/death incident count in the single digits, was deemed less dangerous. There was no consideration of the total number of users of the facility in evaluating the odds of an accident, rather the number of accidents was the only factor considered in recommending the improvements. Luckily, the University only intended the study to be an undergraduate research experiment in GIS technology and mapping, but I still sent them, and their substandard project, packing anyway!
3 - Final example I promise! There was a recent walkability safety study done by a national fitness lobbying group here in the states, that determined that the top 4 most dangerous cities in the US for walking to work are all in Florida...Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Jacksonville. The indicator here that something was wrong to me was that the cities are also the 4 biggest cities in Florida...so right away I'm tipped off that there's probably another example of bad baseline data in the analysis. Well, it was worse than I'd imagined, and for reasons not at all related to size. In researching the methodology of the project, we discovered that the study collected ALL pedestrian fatality data and compared it to ONLY the sum total of persons who by survey claim to walk to work. ALL pedestrian fatality data...not just fatality data for persons killed while walking to work. One problem though... Here in Florida...where the humidity is almost always 80% or higher, and it rains 200 days a year, and the temperature, especially in Tampa and Miami, is 90 degrees F or more from April to November... very few people WALK to work. Plus, Florida is packed with retirees, who walk all over the place, are at a higher risk for pedestrian accidents because of their reduced mobility, and of course, as retirees...NEVER walk to work! LOTS of people in the state of Florida walk...but they walk for things that aren't schedule-dependent like getting to work on time. Rather, a higher than normal number of people in Florida walk to get exercise, and for recreation and for other reasons where trip arrival and departure times are not a factor. So if you take a state where many people do walk, but not to get to work...and you compare the total number of incidents of death for ALL those walking trips and compare that number to a subset of the walking community, work based trips, then you're most certainly going to unfairly categorize Florida cities as being more dangerous on the whole than others in the US.
Anyway...more long winded than I'd like, but there you go. Long story short, whenever you see these types of safety or statistical evaluations, it's important to look very closely at the hows and whys of the study, because many times these studies and their 'results' are completely full of poo.
Exiting soap box, stage left...
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Viva La Vintage!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
We decided that I'd grill the turkey this year, which turned out wonderfully. Very little to clean up after, and cleaning up the broiler is the nastiest part of doing the turkey in the oven, as far as I'm concerned, that and trying to find the hip-joint with the knife blade when carving up the poor beast. I'm not much for carving. Eating I'll do without complaint, but carving?...not so much.
Anyway, the turkey and trimmings were wonderful, and of course, we all ate until we were bloated and unconscious.
See below for example of bloated and unconscious...
Hope you all had a great holiday!...
...and to Jakub in Copenhagen, your Saint front hub is on the way!