Archive for July, 2007

A Good Ol’ Fashioned Beatin’

Folks are always asking me why I don’t post more pictures of these amazing gravel roads that me and my friends are always riding around Iowa City. The answer is simple, if you try and take a picture you get dropped. Todays camera free gravel grinder began at the powerful yet unassuming Doc Tom’s house. After we had all enjoyed our iced americanos that he made with his SAECO espresso machine we rolled out to the NE looking for excitement and fitness. It was a group of four today and we rode at a steady tempo as we toured the Cedar Bluff area. Happenstance plus numerous right and left turns found us at the Sutliff Bridge with its regionally famous store and tavern where we enjoyed the champagne of beers and swapped stories of derailleurs and monster climbs and the like.

We rolled over the rickety bridge and into Solon. Until now our tempo had been such that not only could I have not shot photos but I had not even had time to eat. I have never been one to mix beer and ride food and even as hungry as I was when we left Sutliff I decided to wait until Solon to eat. WHY? I dunno. As we entered Solon and rode up the big hill on Hwy 1 I hit the wall. I ripped my chocolate chip Clif bar from its package and ate it barehanded with melty chocolate smearing all over my hand. Then I sucked down a GU and chased back on to our little group with chocolate all over my brake hood. We had one more good chunk of gravel to go and Dan Reasner seemed to know it, he hit the gas hard. We all tucked in behind and smiled our smiles of pain even though he could not see them and got our butts kicked. It hurt a lot. I was hopeful that when we reached pavement things would relax but Dan was not having it, he immediately got back to the front and finally rode away from us for a beautiful victory, his jersey zipped and arms thrown wide. Surely this was the end, I thought as I rolled past the Stop Ahead sign a few seconds later but no, Dan kept the pressure on all the way into town. It was 3 hours and a bit but it felt like more. Someday I hope to be faster…


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PDX here we come

Well, the computer woes continue. I am all for anarchy but it looks as if we are going to have to pony up for internet service of our own. Damned affluent and secure neighbors…

So we are off to Portland on Wednesday to hang with the one and only Ira Ryan and go to the big Zine Symplosion so Cody can binge. Or gorge, whatever she wants. The trip is looking good, the train trip will be long but hopefully relaxing and on time. We are not going to take bikes anymore as Ira said he and his rabid cycling housemates have like 15 bikes or something so we can borrow. This is nice as shipping our steeds would be spendy and for some bureaucratic reason we can not put our bikes on our train in beautiful Mt Pleasant, Iowa. We would have to get to Omaha or some such thing. I will hope to update the old weblog while away and I think we will have better internet access to make it happen.

We have been having some amazing summer weather and I have been riding much. Did the world famous Tri-County bridge ride the other day with John. We had a couple of beers in Riverside (mayhap at the same bar that will get Captain Kirk’s future folks in the mood) and rolled back to Iowa City sweaty and dirty and happy.

More to report of course, but it must wait.

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I’m A Juicer

It has been almost a week since my last entry. Our internet borrowing has been slower than usual and it is very frustrating to compute with flickering internet. This has left me with much time to participate in the great game of life. Do tell, you say? Right-o!

I did a pre RAGBRAI warm up ride with Jim last Thursday, it was great. We rode a Sugarbottom loop and had a couple of beers. Friday I worked and then Cody and I went to a memorial service for a man we knew who was hit by a drunk driver while motorcycling in Wisconsin. It was really sad. Roads are very dangerous places no matter how you use them and I feel they continue to get more and more dangerous, please be safe out there.

Saturday morning Cody and I met John at the Java House for delicate and refined beverages before riding about on our singlespeed townies looking for trouble. We found it at the Leflers where legendary RAGBRAI cycloteers THE CULT were gathering for donut holes, bacon, bananas and beer before riding off into the wild unknowns of Iowa for more of the same. We shared in the festivities before going to our jobs. I am not participating in a lick of the B this year and it makes me a bit sad, but I will be okay.

Yesterday I did a long ride with John on gravel. We went up Solon way and crossed the raging spillway into lands that have been forbidden to cyclists since the Treaty of Velo (1973) was signed at the American Legion Post 1834 in North Liberty. We walked our glorious steeds out of the danger zone before remounting in nuetral territory to continue the journey home. Trails were in great shape, thats for sure. Bike Library yesterday afternoon. Public Library then for some Oscar Peterson cds and a couple of books.

Cody and I busted out the tandem last night to ride back to the BL to rescue her Austro Daimler which is almost done! We made carrot ginger juice with our new juicer!

This marvelous machine came to us through the Houseworks pipeline for only $25.00! And check out the hot air popper in hot popping action


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Back To The Grind

I had a day off yesterday. So did Ritchie.

Is he not cute? I made a big list of things to get done yesterday and I got most of them done. Housecleaning and the like. I had a mid afternoon coffee break with my old friends and bosses of the ATLAS and then came home to get out for a ride. I did an hour before heading to the College Green ride. It had been a long while since I had done the ride and little has changed. A large group became small, I took my pulls for a while but then became tired and could only sit on the back. Its a bummer because it hurts.

I thought of dropping off numerous times but decided to stay and get drug into town as soon as possible. As we were flying up Sand Road I noticed a deer running parallel to us and called attention to it as I did not want us to intersect. We kept riding and the deer kept pace and we came to a farm and the deer started jumping livestock fences. He jumped one, two, three and four with grace and amazing agility. I imagine his legs were tired as he jumped the last fence, number five, because he did not make it. His rear legs clipped the top rung of the fence and he did a 360 in the air before crashing, hard, on his side in the farmers front yard. He was up in a flash and took off running again, this time away from us. I imagine he is pretty sore this morning, I hope he is going to be okay.

After the ride it was home for shower and then down to the Mill to say farewell to Bike Library volunteer Zach, who is leaving town and will be leaving on a really long bike tour October 1st. We talked about touring and racks and such and had a couple of beers. He will be sorely missed at the BL and I wish him well.

In other news, Cody and I made pancakes Monday night! We got a counter top griddle at Houseworks and it can crank out 4 cakes at a time with even heating. Assorted berries from the Co-Op and real maple syrup and good golly were they ever delicious!

Here is an out of focus picture of the last cakes on. I am back to work today, if the shop is open between now and July 30 I will be there. Come in for a visit if you like!

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Easy Rider

Good ride this morning with good people. We met at 8 for an Iowa City classic, the Frytown loop. A fine day to ride and we were happy to see lots of other riders out enjoying it as well. RAGBRAI is just a week off now and while I am okay with missing it this year it still tugs on the short and curlies of my soul to see folks getting ready to take a whole week to ride across Iowa. July is a fine month to ride all day in these parts. After the loop Ryan went home and Brian and I stopped at Joe Hetrick’s house to enjoy some of his fine home brewed beer. His garage is dreamy with bikes hanging from the ceiling and taking up half of the floor and a mass of kegs and taps at the back. I have known Joe for a long time and it is nice seeing his old bikes and broken stuff and the like. He has hubs he bought from Brian Choi! Cool stuff, and great beer!

It was almost like RAGBRAI as Brian and I found ourselves riding away at 11:30 am, drunk. Well, maybe not quite but Joe had served us some mighty alcoholic beer.

In other news, Cody procured us a hot air popcorn popper from Houseworks and I made some popped corn last night. It was great! We are on a mission to use our microwave less and less so this should help. Real melted butter was a treat, too. Who knows what they put in that bagged stuff?

Busy weeks ahead as we finish Pdx-pedition plans and work and ride and ride and ride.

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Book Report!

I finished reading The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.  It is wonderful.  I am a big Michael Chabon fan and had been eagerly anticipating the release of this book.  I had been whipped into a six year old kids xmas eve frenzy of want when Chabon himself came to the U of I and read from the long delayed book last fall.  I am loathe to purchase hardback books because they are soooo expensive (and big, too-we live in a little house) so I put in a hold at our amazing public library.  I was the 19th hold or something and was content to wait it out as another pathetic display of American mental fortitude when Cody came home with a super secret paperback edition she had gotten from a friend with ties to the industry.

Short story made long, the book is amazing.  I won’t give away the secrets as I know a few of my loyal readers are avid Chabon fans and I do not wish to ruin their experience.  I can say the copy we enjoyed was 411 pages and, being an advance copy, contained a few typos and inconsistencies.  Was the tidy feller wearing a penguin sweater or a reindeer sweater?  We are not sure.

The ending agreed with my world view nicely and furthered my strong desire to have a cup of coffee with Michael Chabon someday.  If you have never read Chabon, get with it!

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Bicycle Justice League

Monday morning Cody and I took a ride to Fae Ridge Farm which is out near West Branch. This is the farm that made Ira the man he is. It is a wonderful place with lots of animals running and waddling about and great coffee, too! It is also the proud and humble home of the only Ira Ryan bicycle in Iowa. The bike had seen better days and Cody and I were there to put things right. With a flash of the 15mm the tardy wheel was off! Seconds later the tire and tube were free of the rim and Cody’s expert vision detected the trouble. A hole in the tube! A fresh tube sprang from my jersey pocket and was inflated with great industry to hold its shape before being carefully nestled back in its tire and mounted to its new home. Once more our mighty pump did hiss until the wheel was good as new. A second flashing of the 15mm saw the bike made whole again and with faithful farm dog at her side Janette did ride ride ride away! All in a days work for the Bicycle Justice League, watch for us wherever sidewalls are threatened or chains lack proper lubrication!

Then we drank coffee and talked about Ira because he did not accept our calls on his birthday.

In other BJL news fresh off the Senators desk:

Bicycle programs catching on in major cities
International Herald Tribune
By Kimberly Conniff Taber
Published: May 31, 2007

PARIS: As cities across Europe experiment with ways to get people out of their cars and into more eco-friendly modes of transportation, Paris is becoming a massive laboratory for one of the most innovative attempts to make money and help save the environment at the same time.
This summer, it will put 10,000 bicycles on the streets at 1,000 stations throughout the city – more than 20,000 bikes will be available by the end of the year – in an experiment with the potential to alter the city’s urban transportation landscape.
“Our hope is that this will change the mentality of people getting around Paris, ” said Céline Lepault, who directs the program for the Paris mayor’s office.
And the city will not pay a cent.
In fact, it will be making money from the project, to the tune of €34 million, or $46 million, over 10 years. And users of the service, called Vélib, will pay next to nothing: after a nominal subscription fee of €29 a year, the first half-hour of each trip will be free, and each additional half hour will cost €1.
The project is being financed by J.C. Decaux, the advertising firm, which will receive exclusive control over 1,628 urban billboards in exchange. The company landed the Paris contract after introducing a similar program in Lyon two years ago that became a success: it now has 50,000 subscribers and has doubled the number of bicycles to 4,000 for a population of 445,500. Paris has 2.15 million residents, a more lucrative consumer base for the program, which allows a rider to use a bike for a short period, ride it to another station and leave it for the next user.
Decaux’s motives are not purely altruistic. It says it stands to earn €60 million a year in advertising revenue from the billboards. After the initial costs of setting up the bicycle system (about €80 million) and subsequent operating costs, plus a €3.4 million annual payment for the rights to the public space it will be occupying with its billboards, Decaux will take home the rest as profit.
The initiative will also turn the company into a leading player in the market for citywide bike rental programs, which are spreading fast across Europe and beyond, with programs in Brussels, Dublin, Marseille, Vienna and a smattering of smaller cities.
In a sign of how competitive the market is becoming, Decaux won the contract after a fierce bidding war with Clear Channel, a U.S. communications company that had initially won the contract with a proposal for 14,000 bicycles. But after a court battle, the French firm nearly tripled its initial offer of 7,500 bicycles and won the contract.
By the time Decaux’s full fleet of 20,600 bicycles is on the road in Paris at the end of the year, city officials will be counting on at least 100,000 users – including car-owner converts. “Today there are a lot of people who use their cars for short trips that aren’t really justified,” said Lepault. “We’re hoping they’ll use bicycles instead.”
That is what has happened in Lyon, where bicycle traffic has increased 30 percent in the last two years and automobile use is down 4 percent, reversing a trend of a 1 percent to 3 percent increase per year, according to Jean-Louis Touraine, the city’s deputy mayor in charge of transportation.
Many people are combining bicycle use with public transportation when they would have previously hopped in their cars. “It’s changed the image of the city,” he said.
As for reducing pollution, Lyon has calculated that 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been saved since the inception of the program. Paris officials expect that the impact on air quality will be even more impressive.
Other cities are watching Paris with considerable interest as it rolls out the world’s largest bike rental program. Lepault says that she has received requests for information from Sevilla, Spain, to Rio de Janeiro, and there are reports that London and Sydney are considering similar projects.
Touraine said that in Lyon, “we’re finding a city that is more humane, more convivial, less dangerous, less stressful and less polluted.”

Convivial! I love that word! I am off duty now so I will read my book and then sleep the sleep of a man who knows how to ski.

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