Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Monday Musette

Way Off-Topic...

Gosh. The Iraqis had a rare daylight curfew over the weekend in order to prevent sectarian violence and possibly head off civil war. Or so we're told. If this story is accurate, 1300 Iraqis died in the last week. My guess is that the civil war is well underway and has been for some time.

You almost feel sorry for Scott McClelland and the other wingnut
spin-meisters when they have to put the best face on it. Almost.

Hey guys, it already IS a civil war. It has been for some time. Denying it
will not make it go away.

From the Washington Post:

Toll in Iraq's Deadly Surge: 1,300
BAGHDAD, Feb. 27 -- Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue.

Finally! The Winter Olympics are OVER!

NBC lost their butt on this one as it was the least-watched winter Olympics since 1988. Still, you have to wonder how they could screw it up so badly...

(Just back from commercial)

"And we're here for the start of the men's final in the 30 kilometer ski
whatchamacallit. The favorites are some guys from Sweden and Norway that no one ever heard of...oh, wait! There's the starting gun! They're off - charging through the snow for thirty kilometers! We'll be right back with live coverage after this."

(Fifteen commercials later)

"We're at the mid-point of the men's 30 kilometer whatchacallit, and Wxxx Wxxx, the lone American in the field is nowhere in sight. Here with more of his poignant story is Marv."

"I'm here in Wxx's home town where he grew up as a boy, overcoming an acute nearly life-threatening bout of acne in his teenage years. We'll be back with more of his poignant story after this."

(Seventeen commercials later)

"We seem to have missed the finish, but you'll be able to catch it later on tape. Here with the heart breaking story of the tape-delay technicians bout with nearly terminal foot fungus, is our intrepid reporter Marv."

I can't imagine why no one watched.

Friday, February 24, 2006

INCOG Bicycle Advisory Group Meeting Summary

February 21, 2006

This is a brief summary of the most recent meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Group. It is not meant as a substitute for the official minutes. The summary is provided as an informal account of the committee's work, in order to keep local cyclists, cycling clubs, and other interested persons up to date on the proceedings. If anyone has a question regarding specifics, I'll try to address them.

Trail Projects. See the INCOG trail map for details and updates: http://www.incog.org/Transportation/Documents/TulsaTrails_2006.pdf

Trail bridge at Haikey Creek (Mingo/ BS South Loop) - construction expected to begin late summer 2006 and will take about 6 months.

Mingo Trail - 11th St to 41st St complete; Funded: 11th to Mingo Rd, 41st to 81st St.; Creek Turnpike to 81st complete. Trail will close 2-4 weeks for sound wall construction. Proposed Pedestrian Bridge at 71st St is funded, but design is in preliminary planning phase.

Owasso/Mohawk Park - conceptual design complete, anticipate construction 2007.

Fry Ditch Creek (Bixby) - Conceptual design complete, funding application pending.

Crow Creek Trail - Conceptual design underway.

Jenks/Bixby Rail Trail - Conceptual design anticipated completion Fall 2006.

River Parks East Bank Trail Extension - Conceptual design anticipated completion Fall 2006.

Liberty Trail - Phase 1 complete. Phase 2&3: begin construction Spring 2006.

Cherry Creek Trail - Negotiating easements. Anticipate awarding contract by 3rd qtr 2006.

West Bank II Trail - Negotiating easements with RR. Anticipate construction late 2006.

Midland Valley Trail Extension - Anticipate construction in 2006, still waiting for ODOT response re: ROW--could delay project to 2007.

Osage Prairie Trail - Construction underway from Tulsa to Skiatook. Skiatook to Barnsdall unfunded. Protected crossing at Pine St.

Joe Creek Trail - Preliminary work and conceptual design complete. Scheduled public meeting March 14, 2006, Zarrow Campus.

River Park Trail and Creek Nation Casino - Still in negotiation with Creek Nation. Tentative trail plans call for the trail to be relocated west of new casino after new casino building is constructed. There are temporary buildings on route at present. No funding as yet.

Signage: Staff will investigate possible signage for the certain trails. Signage requires both uniformity and funding. Will be an agenda item in next meeting.

Bike2Work Rally - Kickoff celebration-Friday, May 19, 2006. Need as many cyclists to participate as possible in order to make this event a success. INCOG would like to use this event to promote cycling in the region, so cyclist participation is very important! Expecting around 200 people to attend, with booths and information. Event will be held at the Williams Company Green area (downtown Tulsa). Will have more information next month.

Discussion of Bicycle-Friendly Community Designation. "Bicycle friendly" is
a quality of life issue that can attract new people and businesses to the

Possible Yellow Bike program using smart racks (per Adam V.)

Discussion of Mingo Valley trailhead near 41st and Hyw169.

Future agenda topics:
Public Information (websites/maps/etc)
Legislation update - local ordinances

Next meeting: Tuesday, May 9, 2006

This week's moronic comment award winner...

As I approached an intersection, a car in the on-coming lane stopped to make a left turn. I paid careful attention to see that it didn't do a left hook. When I got closer, I could see that the driver was an almost terrified teenage girl with her similarly terrified mother in the passenger seat. It wasn't that long ago that I taught my daughter to drive. I could smell the fear.

To her credit, the young woman waited patiently while I approached. In fact, she could have made the turn, but she was being cautious. Traffic stacked up behind as she waited.

I smiled and rode on by.

Further up the line of traffic, a woman had rolled down her window and yelled, "There's CARS behind you!"

Well, yes, there were cars behind me. So what? I suppose if I could perfect my invisibility, they could pass through harmlessly, but until that happens they have to wait to pass, just like anyone else.

A brief update on my attempts at invisibility: The project has met with mixed results. Personal invisibility is best achieved by wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt with plaid Bermuda shorts, black socks and docksiders. Large, black-framed 'birth control' glasses, such as those that are standard issue in the military and most amateur radio clubs, add to the effect. I've become invisible for long periods when my wife and kids are around, unless they need money. Somehow, the need for money negates personal invisibility, but as yet I haven't discovered how it works.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


I haven’t been on my bike since Thursday of last week. First, I was the lazy mon on Friday. The weather moved in over the weekend, and despite toying with the idea of a fixed gear ride in the snow, I didn’t go anywhere. Tuesday, I had a meeting downtown that required more driving.

But the kicker was Tuesday evening when I got home to discover that I was to drive Number One Son around the neighborhood, delivering meat from the FFA fundraiser. I hadn’t eaten. My stomach was rumbling, and there was half-a-ton of bacon and sausage assailing my nose. I was HUNGRY! And the tantalizing smell of smoked bacon only made me more cranky and miserable.

This morning I loaded the last of the boxes into my messenger bag. I had a few packages to deliver to co-workers. This messenger bag resembles a garage with a shoulder strap. It’s huge! But with all that space, there’s a tendency to overfill it to the point that it’s very heavy. This morning, I estimated it weighed about 25-30 pounds. I chose the Bianchi over the fixed gear. I really wanted lower gears!

The usual bike set-up includes an ancient Cannondale rack bag that I’ve had for at least 25 years. (Note to the Cannondale people: You made a good, durable product – perhaps TOO durable! This thing has seen so much weather; it’s faded from black to almost light gray, and it’s lasted longer than some of my bikes.) The bag carries my spare tubes, pump, small tools, rain jacket, and extra pair of gloves, as well as providing a good mount for another reflector and a blinkie.

Remember, this bag is old and one of the left side straps tends to come loose these days. So in order to keep it secure on the rack, I’ve started putting a small bungee cord across it. This morning I couldn’t find the bungee. So with only 3 straps in place, I set off for work.

One problem occurred immediately. The messenger bag was so full I couldn’t fasten the waist strap, so I let it dangle too.

Long habit had me do an ABC-Quick check at the top of the driveway. I’d checked the air before leaving the garage. The brakes both worked and the chain and crank set were fine. The quick releases were closed. I pushed off.

At a stop light about a mile from home, a guy in a pickup pulled up behind me in the left turn lane, rolled down his window, and yelled, “Hey! You’ve got a strap hanging down!”

I yelled back, “Yeah, I know! Thanks!” Sure enough, the strap from the rack bag was hanging down on the left side.

“No! The OTHER side!” he yelled.

That’s where the messenger bag strap was hanging. “Thanks!” I yelled back and waved.

The light changed and we turned left. I waved again as he passed.

Another two miles down the road, I looked down as I shifted and noticed something moving near my rear derailleur. Imagine my surprise at finding the ‘lost’ bungee hanging from the right side of the rack, dangling perilously close to the derailleur and rear spokes! Duh! That pickup driver must have thought I was an idjit! He’d be right.

Note to self: Do the ABC Quick check and look at BOTH sides of the bike! And do try to have at least one cuppa coffee before leaving in the morning. I’m really stupid before I’ve had a cup or two.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Safety" and the Cyclist

Here's another one crawling out of the woodwork. Just wait untill the weather warms up in the spring, and there'll be a million of 'em. Sorta like my old apartment that was declared a National Cockroach Preserve.

Awwww, somebody needs a hug! This is what happens when you buy tighty whities two or three sizes too small. I feel your pain! Well, actually, I don't.

"Cyclists have absolutely no regard for traffic laws" blah blah blah "cyclists blowing through red lights and weaving through traffic on the sidewalks and in the streets as if both were created solely for their enjoyment" blah blah blah "Cyclists should instead be required to have some type of air horn on their bike" blah blah blah "Forcing cyclists to meet certain requirements will encourage safer riders and establish accountability" blah blah licensing and insurance blah blah "If all of the new requirements stop or discourage certain people from riding, so be it" blah blah blah "...the city can funnel some of the money gained from registration fees and the like associated bicycle ownership towards creating more bike paths, bike lanes, greater public awareness, etc." blah blah FAT CHANCE blah blah "...the above mentioned cyclist regulations may be legally forced down their collective throat by the city government, which may just decide that if it can't win in court with the current laws that some new ones specifically tailored against cyclists will be in order" yadda yadda yadda.

Here's another writer who believes that riding a bicycle should be subject to the same onerous restrictions as driving a car. Let's see...ther are a lot of uninsured, unlicensed motorists out on our roads and the police don't have the manpower to go after them. So how much impetus would they have to go after those pesky unlicensed cyclists? Besides, if you use legislation to make people into outlaws, they'll have absolutely no incentive to behave other than as outlaws.

Lots of towns, my own included, have bicycle licensing laws that are almost universally ignored. The exception seems to be college towns that use the laws as another means of squeezing students. But in most cases, they're more trouble than they're worth. Given that this writer is in NYC, there's likely a bike licensing law there already. Shhhh! Don't tell him, or he'll REALLY get his panties all in a wad!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sunday News...

Last week, I wrote that the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is a newspaper suitable for lining birdcages, if you're heartless enough to subject a defenseless parakeet to the abuse. Apparently KQV radio had a poll regarding road taxes, and the following was one response that was printed in the newspaper. The poll results are not available on the KQV website yet, so there's no way of knowing if this responder was typical. (And in case anyone is wondering about the odd call sign - KQV is one of the oldest licensed radio stations in the US, dating back to the early 20s, if I recall right.) I don't know if the radio station and the Tribune-Review are joined at the hip, though KQV is listed as a partner on newspaper's website, but I'm not surprised that the paper didn't print any pro-PennDOT letters. It takes the same "fair and balanced" approach as Faux News.

Those of us in bicycling advocacy hear this same argument again and again. "Fuel taxes should go to support roads and bridges." The corollary argument is that since bicycles don't use fuel, cyclists are freeloaders, and as such, deserve lesser rights on the road than motorized vehicles. It's an entirely bogus argument, of course, since most road funding comes from sales taxes, real estate taxes, and income taxes. As far as I know, cyclists aren't exempt from them.

It’s tiresome to hear that lament – (INSERT STATE HERE) has the worst roads and bridges in the nation. Does any state boast that it has the best?

As John points out in the second piece from Philadelphia Bicycle News, multi-use trails comprise only 0.3% of the PENNDOT budget. "Almost all of the multi-use path money comes from the federal government which has transportation enhancements funds set aside, coupled with a 20% required local match from the county or municipality. You cannot build roads with the money. If PENNDOT were to forego spending that money it would simply go another state." Keep this in mind. Most MUPs are built with federal funds that cannot be spent on roads.

And our intrepid tax-cutting populist would go a step further, eliminating any support for public transportation, thereby seeing that the poor couldn't get around at all. Of course, they could buy cars...if they weren't poor. And they wouldn't be poor if they could get better jobs, but without public transportation to get them there.......well, you get the idea. This is nothing more than another example of class warfare – taking from the poor and giving to the rich – but it’s not unexpected from the people who gave us the Orwellian phrase “compassionate conservatives”.

Investigate PennDOT

Friday, February 17, 2006

I was so annoyed when I read the Feb. 13 KQV Poll question: "Would you support toll roads and bridges as an alternative to higher gasoline taxes?"

In the first place, they didn't give us enough choices. I do not support either toll roads and bridges or higher gasoline taxes.

…Pennsylvania has one of the highest state gasoline taxes in the nation, if not the highest. Yet we also have some of the worst roads in the nation, and our bridges are becoming a serious danger.

Where is PennDOT spending our money? From blips in the paper we read that 25 percent goes for public transportation -- probably to bail out Pittsburgh's and Philadelphia's failed systems.

…Another questionable expenditure are the bicycle trails. Bicycle trails may be nice, but at the present time they are a luxury for a few people when the roads and bridges should be taken care of first.

If the governor cares about the poor and the elderly, reduce the gasoline tax and spend the PennDOT money only on the roads and bridges.

LaVerne Sober

Philadelphia Bicycle News

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Populist Rallying Cry - Death to Gas Taxes! ... but fix those damn roads.

…Can you point to the line item in PENNDOT's budget that says "bike trails"? About 0.3% of the total PENNDOT budget goes to multi use paths. It would be like taking away your kids ice cream money to pay the mortgage.

Almost all of the multi-use path money comes from the federal government which has transportation enhancements funds set aside, coupled with a 20% required local match from the county or municipality. You cannot build roads with the money. If PENNDOT were to forego spending that money it would simply go another state.

"If the governor cares about the poor and the elderly, reduce the gasoline tax and spend the PennDOT money only on the roads and bridges"

Yes if the governor cared about the people who cannot drive he would cut the public transportation and spend it on roads and bridges. Again the writer is preaching inequality.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Saturday Musette

First, it’s COLD here in Oklahoma! The high is expected to be about 22F (-5.5C) with strong north winds. I had a snow drift across my front door and the driveway. This is unusual weather for us, and it’s exactly the kind of weather I gladly left behind in Pennsylvania. And it’s cold here at my desk even with the gas log nearby. I keep getting up and walking around to keep my feet warm.

I’ve ridden when it’s like this, mostly up north, but here the drivers are totally unaccustomed to being on snow and ice. Towing companies will do a brisk business today.

Still, I’m tempted to do a short ride on the fixed gear today, if only to convince my neighbors that I’m completely crazed.


Since I knew it would be cold this weekend, I stopped at the library yesterday to get some books. One of the librarians lives along my commute route and her dog comes out to bark at me when the mood strikes her. The dog is getting older so she doesn’t put a lot of effort into it, just enough to drive off the two-wheeled ‘intruder’.

We talked a little bit about bike commuting, in what Gary calls a ‘teachable moment’. I touched on the idea that riding a bicycle in traffic is actually fairly safe and that most drivers are accommodating toward cyclists. “The fools will still be fools whether you’re on two wheels or four!”

It’s good to know your local librarian, especially if you’re still in school or you have kids in school. They’re expert at finding information. When the time arrives to write that important paper, a librarian can save you tons of work. Before we had the Internet, before we had Google, we had librarians. Remember that.

And in case anyone is wondering what books I picked up, they’re “Midnight Plague” by Gregg Keizer, a WW2 novel, and Baxter Black’s “Hey, Cowgirl, Need a Ride?” I’ve heard Baxter Black on the radio, but this is the first novel of his I’ve read. Besides, if you’re going to write comedy, it’s helps to read comedy and see how it should be done!

Powerball Fantasies

I’m in a Powerball pool at work. Naturally, with the jackpot upwards of 300 million dollars, there’s been some discussion of what we’d do if we won. Most people would buy new houses, cars, boats, and even some airplanes. I said I’d probably buy some new bikes – an all-Campy road racer, for one.

“But wouldn’t you rather have a car?” one guy asked.

“If I had that much money, I wouldn’t need one.”

They all think I’m crazy too. Actually, Mary and the kids would all get cars and I’d still get around on my bike. Come to think of it, since things wouldn’t change much, I probably don’t need that money anyway.

Design a Bike

Tim the Masi Guy has a piece from back on February 6th about designing a cyclocross bike.

By Tim Jackson- Masi Guy

Ok, so suppose you were a brand manager of a bike company and were developing a cyclocross bike. You'd have lots of things to consider in the process; frame material, component spec, fork choice, types of braze-ons, etc... it gets a little dizzying.

So dizzying, in fact, that you turn to your loyal blog readers and ask them for help in the process so you can go to sleep and get rid of the thumping headache you haven't been able to shake for 3 days. That's what you would do...

Here is your chance to be an active participant and make your vote count (again);

Price not being the issue (to some extent anyway for this process), would you rather have A) a 'cross bike with an all-aluminum frame and disc brake mounts (with fork with disc mounts too) or B) an aluminum frame with carbon seat stay and no disc mount compatibility?

Disc brake adaptability or not?

The clock is ticking in this development cycle, so vote now!


For what it’s worth, I’ll add my two cents. Cyclocross (CX) was an off-season sport once upon a time, a way to maintain some fitness at the end of the road season, and fill the time before the winter indoor track events. Now it’s a whole discipline in itself, with lots of specialized gear. As always, specialized equates to expensive.

To my way of thinking, an entry-level cyclocross bike should be cheap and rugged. Someone said that you can get bicycles that are cheap, rugged, or light – choose any two. So I’d guess I’m saying that an entry-level bike would be relatively heavy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In order to keep the price down, I suggest that it be a single-speed. This has the advantage of requiring less maintenance, and allows the rider to focus on skills (or in my case, LACK of skills!)

The person who’s looking at a cyclocross bike probably already owns one or more bikes for competition. An entry-level cyclocross bike should be capable of filling some other niches besides racing. It would be a good training bike and an outstanding commuter.

I like the idea of the Van Dessel Country Road Bob. A single-speed aficionado or a fixed gear fanatic wouldn’t blink an eye at the price, but I think it’s too steep to consider as an entry level. Besides, at about the same price, you can get a Redline Conquest, and that bike has been under some national champions.

My thought was to offer an entry-level bike at about the 500 to 600 dollar price point. Could it be done? Frankly, I don’t know. But when you think about it, Bianchi and Specialized offer single speeds and even a track bike at that price.

Another idea was the ‘kit bike’ concept. This is hardly new. You’d choose a frame, maybe with a selection of different forks, and a component group to install. The components could vary according to your planned use, say, a fixed gear for commuting or a single speed for CX. This isn’t a new idea, as I said, but with today’s computerized ordering and inventory management, it may be a workable idea.


The Fat Cyclist had a piece on February 9th about CarBoom.


Back in November, I wrote a review of the energy gels I have tried. The short version of that story was: gels are a necessary evil. Except the necessary part, maybe.

Then, toward the bottom, I said:

There are a lot of brands out there I haven’t mentioned. Carb-Boom, for example. If they’d like to send me a batch, I’ll try it and even write about it.

To my surprise, I shortly afterward got an email from Mike of Carb-Boom, asking for my address. Turns out he took my offer at face value.

Now, if he can get some energy gels simply by writing about them, what would happen if I decided to write about a new Porsche? There’s plenty of space in the driveway if someone wants me to test drive one. Even a Mercedes or BMW would fit right in.

Just a thought!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Goddess of the Winds

Somewhere in the Twilight Zone, Rod Serling was laughing his ass off.

I had this idea to categorize headwinds and I wrote about it yesterday. Here are the categories:

Light: Just enough wind to feel the extra strain in the legs, but not quite enough to feel that it’s slowing you down. Leaves swirl in the wind.

Moderate: The wind is noticeably harder to ride into, yet it’s not taxing. Leaves fly along in a straight line.

Stiff: Like riding up a long, steep hill, without the side benefit of going down the far side. The leaves, well, who watches leaves when they’re breathing this hard?

Ferocious: Vicious, nasty wind that feels like riding into clear Jell-O. Strong enough to lean on in cross wind situations. Stay alert for flying lawn furniture.

And, like I said, I was toying with the idea of doing a piece on the Goddess of All the Headwinds since headwinds are often arbitrary, capricious, and entirely irrational. Let’s just say that my morning has been more than a little bit weird.

I left early, before dawn, and rode through the pecan grove in complete darkness. There was enough cloud cover to block even the moonlight. It’s dark in that valley, and the trees towering over the road make it seem much darker. My little battery-powered headlight didn’t do much to overcome the gloom.

I could have sworn I heard a giggle off in the woods. A sudden wind gust hit and I swerved directly into a pothole. I smacked the pavement hard and saw stars as my helmet contacted the concrete.

When I opened my eyes, I found myself in a strange room. Light seemed to come from everywhere but there was no discernable source. There was no furniture, no windows or doors, not even any walls that I could see, just light coming from everywhere and a gentle breeze as if a nearby window was open.

Someone giggled softly. I turned around and there stood a woman dressed in an evening gown, her hair a shoulder length tangle of curls. “I am Mariah” she said, “Goddess of the Winds! I brought you here because you made light of my powers.”

“Uh, goddess”, I played for time, “it was only a joke, a bit of fun. No disrespect was intended.” This works, sometimes, with my wife and it’s a good opening gambit.

“I don’t believe you”, she said with a slight edge in her voice. Something odd was happening as she spoke. Her visage kept changing with her thoughts and mood. Her hair shifted from a sunny blonde to an ominous black. “You don’t take me seriously. No one does anymore. I try and try to please people and all I get in return are jokes from men like you!”

I heard distant thunder. The wind was picking up and the light was fading. This was not a good sign.

“Goddess, I’m thankful for those lovely days when I get a tailwind. It lifts my spirits and makes riding a bicycle a real joy. But I simply didn’t know to thank you for it. Believe me, I’m truly grateful for your help.” I laid it on with as much sincerity as I could. The wind was reaching gale force with raindrops stinging my face.

And just like that, the wind was gone. The light re-appeared and the rain dried almost instantly.

When annoyed, she looked exactly like one of my ex-girlfriends – the one who, until a few years ago, sent a letter bomb at Christmas.! This was going to be tricky. It’s one thing to deal with mood swings. It’s quite another to deal with mood swings AND a force of nature!

“Oh, that’s better”, she said. It was sunny again. “But are you thankful for the headwinds too?”

She changed again, looking slightly wary. The light muted to a soft glow, just like the light that reflects from a thunderhead in the distance. The wind went still. Though it was calm and sunny, there was an underlying menace in the question.

I tried to tap dance out of the minefield. “Well, goddess, I know that headwinds make me stronger both physically and mentally, I much prefer tailwinds. That might be a personal failing or a weakness on my part, but it’s the truth.”

The room darkened again. I’d chosen the wrong answer. “Fool!” she growled. “The winds are a metaphor for life. Everyone has both ups and down, headwinds and tailwinds. Such is the fate of all humans, but you would have only the good. Do you not see that without the obstacles and downturns you would not appreciate the good in your life?”

The winds swirled and shifted, sometimes soft breezes and at others a gale force slap in the face.

Thoughtlessly, I said, “This could carry me all the way to Kansas!”

“You deserve to be in the benighted depths of Kansas!” An Arctic wind howled. Ice crystals stung my face, cutting deeply.

“I’m not afraid of Kansas”, I yelled into the gale, “The Flying Spaghetti Monster would protect me! He’s a big fan of Kansas.”

“Him!” The wind suddenly stopped, leaving an eerie stillness in its wake. “Him?” she repeated softly. “You’ve been touched by His Noodly Appendage?” There was a wistful look in her eyes, and for the moment, she looked like a teenaged girl, wandering in a shopping mall without a credit card to her name.

“Well, some people claim I’m touched.”

She hadn’t heard me. Her eyes were focused on something far off as she remembered. “He never calls me anymore. I thought we had something special, so special.” Her voice trailed off and tears rolled down her cheek.

So of course it started raining where I stood. I hesitated to change her mood again, but screwed up my courage and spoke. “Um, goddess, can I help?”

“Oh, you’re still here”, she said, though it was apparent she was distracted. “Be gone from here and be more careful in the future. I’ll be watching.”

I fell through swirling blackness, but then I felt grass under my back.

I opened my eyes. I was lying on the roadside with a couple of cars idling nearby. Ambulance lights flashed. Standing above me was a paramedic, Maria H. according to her badge, and she looked just like the goddess!

“You really ought to be more careful in the future”, she said.

Somewhere in the Twilight Zone, Rod Serling was laughing his ass off.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Never insult a goddess...

I was thinking about titling this “God of All the Headwinds” but on reflection decided that since headwinds are often arbitrary, capricious, and entirely irrational, “Goddess” was probably more accurate. Not that I’m personally familiar with any ‘arbitrary, capricious, or irrational’ women, but it’s better to stay on the safe side. I only LOOK dumb.

It was 70 degrees when I got up this morning. I left for work at first light, riding into a stiff headwind. The temperature is expected to drop all day and the wind will swing around to the north. That means I get headwinds BOTH ways. Oh joy.

Welcome to Oklahoma.

The temperature will continue to drop tonight, with the forecast calling for 24 degrees by tomorrow morning, and maybe snow over the weekend. This is one reason it’s hard to stay healthy here. Well, that and all the dust in the air. This has to be the allergy and respiratory infection capitol of the country.

But I was toying with an idea while riding into that wind. Any line of thought will do to take my mind off the chore. Fortunately, I had enough foresight to get the Bianchi out rather than ride the fixed gear. I think a fixed gear, even a low one like my commuter, would have nearly killed me this morning.

The idea I had was to categorize headwinds. Sure, it’s not a GREAT idea, but like I said, sometimes any idea will do.

Headwind Categories:

Light: Just enough wind to feel the extra strain in the legs, but not quite enough to feel that it’s slowing you down. Leaves swirl in the wind.

Moderate: The wind is noticeably harder to ride into, yet it’s not taxing. Leaves fly along in a straight line.

Stiff: Like riding up a long, steep hill, without the side benefit of going down the far side. The leaves, well, who watches leaves when they’re breathing this hard?

Ferocious: Vicious, nasty wind that feels like riding into clear Jell-O. Strong enough to lean on in cross wind situations. Stay alert for flying lawn furniture.

Today’s headwind was on the borderline between stiff and ferocious. The National Weather Service said that it was 20-30 mile per hour, but I’m certain there were some higher gusts. Three times I was hit hard enough to move the bike a couple of feet sideways.

I wish I could say that there’s a technique to make riding into the wind an easier task. Really, I wish I could. But in reality, riding into the wind is difficult and exhausting. The best solution is to gear down and spin as easily as possible. This morning, for instance, I averaged only 11 miles per hour. It’s best to ignore that nagging voice from the ego that says you’re just twiddling along in a tiny gear. Spin and save your knees.

And as I said before, I try not to dwell on the long, hard slog. I think of other things, sing, or try to come up with good ideas for CycleDog. There’s a reason I sing on the bike. My singing voice is so bad my own mother wouldn’t sit next to me in church! That is not an exaggeration. And I was thinking about that “Goddess of All the Headwinds” bit, though I’ll probably save it for another time.

Sometimes there’s a song in my head that goes along with the pedaling cadence. That happened today too, but I have to provide the background information.

Fritz from Cycle-licious wrote in an e-mail about his upcoming interview with Google about a job writing code for Linux kernels. I had to ask what that actually entailed because I’m basically a troglodyte armed with a stone axe when it comes to high-tech stuff. He wrote back to say that he writes the code that makes the networks go.

My over-caffeinated brain immediately thought of Barry Manilow singing, “I write the code that makes the networks go! I write the code that makes the whole world glow!…”

Guess what went round and round in my brain while fighting that headwind this morning?

Sometimes, I think it would be more merciful to just get out my pocketknife and open a vein.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday Musette

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma State University basketball coach Eddie Sutton was charged with DUI Saturday night, after driving his SUV erratically across several lanes of traffic, hitting another vehicle in the rear, and finally crashing into a tree. Our local television station has THREE, yes, THREE news teams covering the story. They just reported that everyone they've spoken with is sympathetic toward the coach and hope he can return next season. Coach Suton has taken the rest of the season off due to medical reasons.

Sympathetic? This place is nuts! The guy endangered himself and anyone else on the road that night. If he were Joe Sixpack from Ponca City, his sorry butt would be in jail. Honestly, sport is king in Oklahoma. This place IS nuts.

Do you ever just wanna scream?

"I Don't Like Mondays"

"The silicon chip inside her head
gets switched to overload
and nobody's gonna go to school today
she's gonna make them stay at home
And Daddy doesn't understand it
He always said she was good as gold
And he can see no reason
Cos there are no reasons
What reasons do you need to be shown

Tell me why
I don't like Mondays
I want to shoot
The whole day down"
..............Boomtown Rats

Today's electronic troubleshooting lesson
(or what NOT to do!)

This is actually fairly simple:
1. Use the schematic for the actual circuit you're working on, not one that's just similar. For instance, when one is labeled "Discretes" and the other "Program Pins" pay attention to the labels, otherwise you'll spend a lot of time attempting to troubleshoot perfectly good circuits.
2. When replacing a bad component, be sure to replace the bad component, not the one next to it. This causes problems when attempting to troubleshoot components further along the input.
3. When a too-smiley co-worker inquires, "Is that the same one you were working on Friday?” do not threaten to kill him, his family, and everyone he knows. This is bad form and it's like blood in the water. Other sharks will arrive shortly.

I don't like Mondays.

But on the other hand...

After a nasty day of hard toil over a hot soldering iron, with hands cramped from long hours of grasping an oscilloscope probe and a mild headache from the eyestrain induced by binocular magnifiers, it's absolutely wonderful to walk outside to the bike rack, and discover wonderfully mild temperatures, brilliant sunshine, and the added bonus of a tailwind on the ride home!

Life is good.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I didn't copy this piece from San Francisco in its entirety, so if you really want to read the whole, sordid, whiny mess, follow the link. At least he's not foaming at the mouth like this columnist in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. That guy's a real loon, incapable of a civil conversation. I know, 'cause I tried. I've heard from friends that the paper is suitable for lining birdcages, though it may not be humane to subject a bird to that kind of abuse.

Saturday, February 11, 2006
No Right Turn: An Exchange

Of course this no-right-turn issue can be resolved sensibly. It defies common sense to not allow people to make a right turn from Market St. onto the new freeway ramp. But the larger issue is this: How do we achieve a sensible balance between cyclists and motorized traffic in the city? How far should the city go to accommodate a tiny minority of cyclists, since, according to the DMV, we now have more than 464,000 registered motorized vehicles in SF, not counting buses? ... Cyclists are taking up way too much room on the streets of the city on behalf of a transportation "mode" that will never be a serious option for an overwhelming majority of city residents. ...The end result will only be to snarl traffic in a relatively small city to provide questionable gains in safety for cyclists.

Voting to make the Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan with no debate and no environmental study is another example of the arrogance and the excessive influence of the bike people in SF.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Way off topic

Unless you've been under a rock for the last month or two, you're undoubtedly already aware of this story. So pardon me for adding my own perspective. I'm tired of all the bleating about how this is an insult to Islam, or an issue of free speech. It all sounds so very pious and so very much like bullshit.

On a lovely fall morning, Islamic fanatics killed 3000 people in the name of religion. It's really hard to get worked up over an insult to their prophet when so many of his followers have blood on their hands.

And I'm certainly not going to get worked up over a cartoon.....Ed

Iran: U.S., Europe Should Pay for Drawings

Saturday February 11, 2006 8:46 PM


Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's hard-line president on Saturday accused the United States and Europe of being ``hostages of Zionism'' and said they should pay a heavy price for the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that have triggered worldwide protests.

Denmark - where the drawings were first published four months ago - warned Danes to leave Indonesia, saying they faced a ``significant and imminent danger'' from an extremist group and announced it had withdrawn embassy staff from Jakarta, Iran and Syria.

Saudi Arabia's top cleric said in a Friday sermon that it was too late for apologies and those responsible for the drawings should be put on trial and punished.

...The drawings - including one that depicts the prophet with a turban shaped like a bomb with a burning fuse - were first published in a Danish newspaper in September and recently reprinted in other European publications that said it was an issue of freedom of speech.

Islam widely holds that representations of the prophet are banned for fear they could lead to idolatry.

Iran, a predominantly Shiite Muslim country, has seized on the caricatures as a means of rallying its people behind a government that is increasingly under fire from the West over its nuclear program that Tehran says is peaceful but the U.S. and others say is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

Shiite Muslims do not impose a blanket ban on representations of the prophet and some in Iran's provincial towns and villages even carry drawings said to be of Muhammad. But Tehran said the newspaper caricatures were insulting to all Muslims.

...Denmark, which has been stunned by the wave of protests over the caricatures that first appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September, urged its citizens on Saturday to leave Indonesia as soon as possible, saying they were facing ``a significant and imminent danger'' from an unnamed extremist group.

The warning came hours after the ministry said it withdrew all Danish staff from Indonesia and Iran after they had received threats. It said diplomats also were pulled from Syria because they were not getting enough protection from authorities.

The Danish ambassador to Lebanon left last week after the embassy building in Beirut was burned by protesters.

Fascinatin' Fasteners...

I had to work on my soldering station yesterday. I reached over and switched it on, only to be greeted with a loud BANG as something blew up inside the case. Very often this means a blown electrolytic capacitor in a power supply. These capacitors are two conductive sheets separated by an insulator. In the case of an electrolytic cap, the insulating material will eventually fail. Current starts flowing through the unit, heating it considerably. It explodes. Electrolytic capacitors are polarized, so if you accidentally install one backwards, it explodes immediately. Most technicians only do this once. Once is quite enough.

But before looking at the circuit board, I had to get the case apart. Some black-hearted engineer specified tamper resistant fasteners on this unit. There are a lot of different types of tamper resistant fasteners. These happened to be Torx. They look like a normal Torx head, but there's a pin sticking up in the center that prevents a regular Torx driver from engaging the fastener. There are square drives and Allen heads that are similar.

I spent most of the morning trying to find a TR-15 Torx bit. Finally, as I was about to give up, a guy from Facilities Maintenance said he had a set in his toolbox. "I've had these things for years and never used them!" he said. There's always a first time.

I put the bit in a driver handle, and that's when I discovered the recesses for the screws were too narrow to accommodate the driver. The recesses are about 0.375" and the driver is about 0.440". I took the driver to our machine shop and started grinding it down by hand. It was ticklish, finicky work, because the bit is ¼”, and I had to reduce the driver to under 0.375" (or 3/8"). The wall was going to be very thin. I worked slowly and got the driver down to a size that would fit, and then polished it to remove the grinder marks.

Sure enough, once the case was apart, I found a blown capacitor and a fried voltage regulator chip. I'll order the parts Monday.

But this is supposed to be about bicycles, isn't it? You didn't think I was going to give a lecture about electronics, did you?

It's annoying and time consuming to have to find special tools in order to complete a job, and for those of you too young to remember, I'm going to talk a little bit about non-standard bike stuff.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and disco ruled the airwaves, most bikes were equipped with components that came from the same country as the bicycle. Italian bikes came with Italian parts. French bikes had French parts. And British bikes came with whatever parts the factory could buy that year. Much of this stuff was non-interchangeable, particularly the French stuff. Manufacturers used different diameters, different pitch (threads per inch, for instance), and sometimes even different angles on the threads themselves. So where one component might thread into another, the parts couldn't be torqued as tightly for fear of stripping the threads. A copy of Sutherlands Manual, pitch gauges, and a good metric dial caliper were essential shop equipment.

I worked in a shop that sold a lot of French bikes. The handlebars, stems, bottom brackets, and pedals were not interchangeable with any other parts. They were different diameters. But even then, the French would do something squirrelly. I had a Paris Sport track bike with all French components, except for the rear hub. It had a pair of 5/8' nuts on a solid axle. Now, track bikes are normally set up with bolt-on wheels, and most of them are 15mm. With a Campy 'peanut butter' wrench, you could tighten both crank arms and wheels, so why did the French go to 5/8"? It made no sense whatsoever.

But they weren't the only ones.

The Brits, thankfully, used the same standards as the Italians for seat posts, stems, and handlebars (for the most part.) There were some exceptions. One Italian stem used a 6.5mm binder bolt. Try to find a 6.5mm Allen key. Snap-On has them, but bring a thick wallet. They used some odd metric pitches, as well. And the British had to do something eccentric too. They used a British Standard (or was it Whitworth?) binder bolt on some seat posts. We had just one wrench for that purpose hanging on the tool board. I mentioned this to a friend who had a 60's Triumph Bonneville, and he became somewhat excited about the whole thing. Actually, 'excited' probably isn't the right word. He used language he didn't want his kids to learn! He'd bought the complete tool kit for that motorcycle!

Shimano was the worst, in my opinion. They made small changes in their components every year, so the parts weren't interchangeable. If you damaged, say, a derailleur cage by hitting something, you wouldn't simply order a replacement cage. You could, but after the price of the part and shipping, you were nearly at the price of a new derailleur anyway. And I was very hacked off when they introduced the 600 series, and required a bunch of special tools to work on the group. I remember the oddly fluted headset wrenches, in particular. The headset was aluminum, and in order to prevent damage, the tools and components were cut almost like huge Torx fasteners. In reality, this is a very good idea, but it's a PITA to have to get special tools to do just one job.

Things are better these days, mostly. Oh, there are still too many different seat post diameters, for instance, but most parts are readily interchangeable.

This originally started off because I was thinking about tamper resistant fasteners and the security they can offer. Some cyclists fill the cavities in stem bolts and seat binder bolts with RTV or hot glue, in order to foil would-be thieves. I'm sure the larger tamper-resistant fasteners could do the same job.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fashion Sense (lack of)

I wandered through that famous French store, Target, over the weekend. That's pronounced Tar-jay. They had some coffee I hadn't seen before, so I had to try it.

But in the course of my wanderings, I came across a rack of men's workout clothes that had some reasonably priced black tights. I have 2 pair of expensive bib tights, and I like them very much, but the Tar-jay price was very attractive. I may buy some to see me though the end of the winter.

When I first started riding a lot back in Pennsylvania, the catalogs had 'winter' cycling clothes that were a source of tremendous amusement. At the time, a winter jersey merely had long sleeves. Tights were available in one fabric weight. Take it or leave it. Most of the so-called winter clothes were sufficient to induce hypothermia or frostbite. I think the manufacturers and marketing people believed that only those living in southern California or Florida actually rode through the winter months.

I wore a windbreaker, heavy sweater, balaclava or watch cap, and mittens. I had one pair of medium weight tights, usually with long johns underneath, and knicker socks up over my lower legs. Most of the stuff was wool, so that should give you an idea of how long ago it was. When weather conditions were right, I had tendrils of steam rising from my wool sweater and cap.

So, it's been a pleasant to find more clothing and more variety these days, particularly in a big box store. I haven't seen genuine cycling shorts and jerseys there, but I'm very hopeful.

Another thing that's a welcome change is seeing more women's cycling clothing. Back in the day, this was impossible. The serious female riders had to make do with smaller men's sizes, buy from an expensive customhouse, or sew the clothes themselves.

I'm hardly an expert on women's clothes, but I know from experience that when things fit properly, they make riding much more pleasant. And in reality, the only specialized knowledge I have is (or was) how to unclasp a bra with one hand. I won't discuss the specifics. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed would not be amused.

Actually, She-Who-etc. said that I'm dumb when it comes to women.

"Oh, you're calling me DUMB!" I whined.

"No", she patiently explained, "I'm saying you're dumb about women."

"What! You're calling me dumb! You'd be furious if I said something like that about you!"

She started to develop that exasperated look that I see all too often. That's my cue to go do something else, preferably outside or in the garage. Remember "Duck and Cover" that civil defense movie from the 1950s? I'm an expert at duck and cover.

Still, what I don't know about women's clothing would fill volumes. Not that I'm dumb, mind you. I'm simply uninformed. When my daughter wants to torment me, she starts talking about her underwear. I cover my ears and chant, "Neener, neener, neener!" until she goes away.

Once, she and Mary were up in Pennsylvania visiting relatives. She called and asked that I send her a specific dress and a strapless bra to go with it. I found the dress quickly, but couldn't find anything that looked like a bra. I called her back and she talked me through finding it. The girl knows precisely where everything is in her room, almost to the millimeter. As it turned out, the 'bra' in question resembled nothing more than a tapered sweatband. If I had found it in my drawer, I'd have worn it outside while I mowed the grass. I told her this, and she almost dropped the phone from laughing. Then she had to tell every female relative within earshot about it.

It's been a few years, but they bring it up now and then. "Hey! Remember that time Dad had to find a 'sweatband'..." They giggle.

I should wear that to a ride this summer. When I remove my helmet, the women will be aghast and I'll bet the guys won't even notice. And I'll make a special point of inviting my daughter along to ride the tandem! Dumb, indeed.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ask Crankset (Final)

Holy Cow! This was in the Broken Elbow Ledger - Sunday edition.....Ed

Broken Elbow, OK (BogusNews Service)

Local Pastafarian Shot

Popular advice columnist, Wally Crankset, was shot and wounded on Friday evening as he left the Broken Elbow Giant Spaghetti Monster Tabernacle after services. Mr. Crankset, a devout Pastafarian, was admitted to New Oklahoma Mercy Hospital, where he is in fair condition, according to N.O. Mercy spokesman, Randall Zyhowski.

The shooter was apprehended almost immediately. Police identified her as Wanda Sue Neidermeier, the former "Miss Bullseye" of Broken Elbow and the divorced wife of Mr. Crankset. After the shooting, she tried to drive away, but crashed it into a parked police car less than a block from the scene. She was led away screaming, "Yes, I shot that son-of-a-bitch, and I'll do it again! I'll shoot his damned noodly appendage too!" Ms. Neidermeier refused a breathalyzer test, assaulted two police officers, and was charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest, mopery, and assault and battery, as well as the firearms charges.

The police are investigating this as a possible hate crime.

Mr. Crankset issued a statement from his hospital bed, saying that he may retire from his popular advice column in order to pursue missionary work in the Pastafarian ministry under an assumed name. "It's unfair to trade on my celebrity status as an advice columnist in the ministry", he said, "and it's not like I'm trying to hide out or anything."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ask Crankset! (Part 3)

Ask Crankset! is an advice column written by an experienced cyclist, Wally Crankset, who answers all your cycling-related questions!

Dear Mr. Crankset,
That oh-so-nice guy with shaved legs just dumped me. He ate my food, slept in my bed, and I thought we were made for each other. But he telephoned to say that he wouldn't see me again, because he "needed his own space". I'm so depressed. Why is it that every man who enters my life turns out to be a cad? I really need someone to talk to, someone who understands me, and values me as a person, not as a cook or a bedmate.
'Giddy' in Grove City

Dear Giddy,
I'm sorry for what you've gone through. In a way, I feel somewhat responsible for it. But due to a fortuitous set of circumstances, I'll be attending an author's symposium in Grove City in the near future. Perhaps we could meet for coffee or drinks.

Dear Mr. Crankset,
My fiance decided against becoming a chat show host, pornographer, or anchorman. Instead, he wants to try to write a book. Fortunately, we don't have to rely on a job for income - for either of us - and writing may offer the challenge he needs. Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer?
Vexed in Volant

Dear Vexed,
I'm flattered that you'd ask ME for advice on writing. There are other, far more experienced writers who could offer so much more. But I've learned three things about writing well. First, you have to learn to listen. Ideas often come from other people, who can sometimes serve up unintentionally good ideas. So listen carefully. Second, stay alert. If that means drinking too much coffee and eating too much chocolate, so be it. Writers must be prepared to make sacrifices. Finally, keep your body well supplied with energy, that is, eat the right foods, exercise, and get enough rest so that your body can withstand the rigors of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer screen for hour after hour. Remember, pasta is the perfect fuel for a writer!

Crankset, you rat!
I read that bit about meeting Giddy in Grove City! That's exactly how you met ME, you mangy dog! I was broken-hearted and you took advantage of it, just as you'll do to her. I won't stand for it! You're a rat, a low-down dirty rat, without morals or a conscience. It ain't happenin' again, buster, 'cause I'll stop you this time!
Wanda Sue Neidermeier

Dear Wanda,
I didn't know you still cared. Guess what? I don't. Now, put down your drink and step away from the keyboard until you sober up.

Dear Mr. Crankset,
My girlfriend and I have started training together. We each have strengths and weaknesses, but by riding together we can work out those differences, just as we're working out our differences in the kitchen, too. And we BOTH love pasta! Who'd have thunk it? There may be a tandem, and possibly a marriage, in our future. Thanks, Mr. Crankset!
The (former) Intimidator

Dear (former) Intimidator,
Good luck, and if you come across any really good recipes, please send me a copy!

Justice? What's justice?

If you want news on the Lance And Sheryl show, go somewhere else. I ain’t gonna write about it!

But I am going to write about something that raised that too-familiar, spiky anger. The first is an account of the sentencing of Elizabeth DeSeelhorst, guilty of running down a cyclist. She was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to 180 days of home confinement. One hundred and eighty days. Well, and she has to pay $22,730. That’s what a cyclist’s life is worth in Utah, $22,730, and a hundred and eighty days of sitting on the couch, reading, watching television, and chatting with friends and family.

I was curious about the negligent homicide sentence, so I went cruising on Google News looking for other, similar stories.

The second piece concerns Casey Ottinger, also charged with negligent homicide in the death of a cyclist. Mr. Ottinger was driving under suspension when he ran a stop sign, crossed two lanes of traffic, and killed David M. Larabee. Ottinger, if convicted, faces two to eight years in prison.

Apparently, negligent homicide brings wild disparities in sentencing. That’s OK. I think the sentence really should be tailored to the crime, rather than a one-size-fits-all arrangement.

But it’s this last piece that really hacked me off.

A judge in Georgia sentenced 17 human rights advocates to between one and six months in prison and thirteen of them were fined between $500 and $1,000.

Jail time for protesting when killers get home confinement? Like I said, I can understand some disparity, but this is unbelievable! If this happened in some third world country, we’d blast their treatment of political prisoners. But this is America, dammit! We’re supposed to be better than that.

Saturday, February 04, 2006
Wife of resort owner sentenced for bicycle fatality

The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- The wife of Solitude Ski Resort's owner was sentenced Friday to home confinement and probation on her conviction of negligent homicide in the SUV death of a bicyclist who was hit while riding in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Elizabeth DeSeelhorst, 67, will spend 180 days confined to her home with an ankle monitor. She was also sentenced to three years' probation, with conditions that include payment of fines, no driving and 320 hours of community service -- performed with bicycle safety and education if possible. Third District Judge Royal Hansen also ordered DeSeelhorst to pay $4,625 in fines and $18,105 to the family of Josie Johnson. On Sept. 18, 2004, Johnson, was wearing a helmet and brightly colored clothing as she rode up the canyon on the side of the road. DeSeelhorst hit Johnson, 25, from behind with her Jeep Cherokee. In an account written at the scene, DeSeelhorst said she was steering around the bicyclist when Johnson swerved in front of her vehicle. But during trial she testified she didn't notice Johnson until the bicyclist was flung onto her windshield. A neurologist testified DeSeelhorst has had a history of strokes and may have suffered a mini-seizure just before accident. The charge of negligent homicide is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. DeSeelhorst apologized to the Johnson family in court, state courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer. The case rallied friends and cyclists to call for more consideration from drivers and a law that requires drivers to keep three feet from bicyclists while passing them on roads. This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page D3.

Plea agreement withdrawn in bicyclist's death

A Monclova Township man, convicted last month of aggravated vehicular homicide for an accident that killed a bicyclist last year, yesterday withdrew from the plea agreement. Casey Ottinger, 27, of 8481 Maumee-Western Rd. was to be sentenced by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Doneghy for the Sept. 2 accident that resulted in the death of David M. Larabee, who was a popular teacher at Ottawa Hills High School. Instead, Mr. Ottinger told Judge Doneghy he wanted to withdraw the no-contest plea he entered Jan. 4 and let a jury decide whether he was guilty or innocent of the charge. Judge Doneghy agreed to the defendant's request and set a trial date for May 15. Mr. Larabee, 41, was killed when he was hit by the defendant's van at Dorr Street and Crissey Road in Springfield Township. Authorities said Mr. Ottinger was driving north on Dorr about 2:45 p.m. and failed to yield for a stop sign at Crissey, hitting the victim, who was riding west on Dorr. Mr. Larabee was thrown from his bicycle into the windshield of the van. At the time of the accident, Mr. Ottinger didn't have a valid driver's license. An avid bicyclist, Mr. Larabee often rode his bicycle from his home in Monclova Township back and forth to the school, where he taught physics and calculus for 15 years. Later, outside the courtroom, the victim's father and stepmother, Richard and Kathleen Larabee, said they were disappointed and blind-sided with the plea change. "We want him taught a lesson to make sure that he never does this again and to assure that another family will not have to suffer like our family has suffered," Mr. Larabee said. A sentencing hearing had been set last Monday for Mr. Ottinger, and the victim's family and life partner were in the courtroom, expecting him to receive a mandatory sentence of two to eight years in prison. After the hearing was continued, the Larabees and Roy Williamson, the victim's partner, held an emotional meeting with the defendant and his family outside the courtroom. "He expressed his remorse very clearly and very tearfully," Mrs. Larabee said. She said her family decided that they would be satisfied with whatever punishment Judge Doneghy ordered. "The judge has let David down. He has let our family down. This has reopened all the wounds again," she said. Robert Clark, an assistant county prosecutor, said a jury will decide whether Mr. Ottinger's conduct in causing the accident was negligent or reckless. Mr. Clark said he believed the indictment that charged the defendant with recklessness was appropriate, in part, because he ran a stop sign and crossed two lanes of traffic before colliding with the victim. Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

Burlington activist fined, given jail time for Fort Benning arrest

COLUMUBS, GA — A federal judge Tuesday sentenced Burlington resident Robin Lloyd, to three months in federal prison and a $500 fine after she was found guilty of trespassing onto Fort Benning military base in November.

Lloyd, 67, is among 32 defendants, ranging in age from 19 to 81, who were charged with in protest of the controversial Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), which was once known as the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA).

“This trial was challenging, but I was glad to have the opportunity to talk on the stand about international law and the necessity defense,” said Lloyd after her conviction. “I only wish the court had lived up to the quote by Jimmy Carter on its wall, that the laws of humanity are upheld in that place.”

Judge G. Mallon Faircloth sentenced 17 human rights advocates, including Robin Lloyd, a member of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, to between one and six months in prison; 13 of those individuals were also fined between $500 and $1,000. Trials are expected to continue for at least one more day. Each person faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Since protests against the SOA/ WHINSEC began more than a decade ago, 183 people have served a total of over 81 years in prison for engaging in nonviolent resistance in a broad-based campaign to close the school, according to SOA Watch, a non-profit group.

Lloyd and the 40 arrested were among 19,000 who gathered at Ft. Benning to protest U.S. foreign policy and call for the closure of the school.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday Musette 3FEB2006

Birthday Grrl

My daughter just turned eighteen this week. She's a senior in high school, and it appears that her busy social schedule will continue through the end of the school year. But that's the long-term forecast. In the short term, she's having a birthday party tomorrow. We'll have fifteen teenagers in our house - eight of them teenage boys. It may be a good evening for cleaning guns and sharpening knives, but somehow I suspect She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and her eighteen-year-old understudy will forbid it.

Pray for my sanity.

Thunderhead Alliance

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) has a piece about Bike Planet donating $100,000 to Thunderhead Alliance. So I went to Bike Planet's advocacy webpage. There's a list of sponsors for the latest TA retreat, and it looks like a Who's Who of the bicycle industry. This brings an inevitable question. Who does Thunderhead Alliance represent, bicyclists or bicycle businesses? Make no mistake about this - it's very hard to run a large organization on the income from individual memberships. For that matter, it's hard to run even a small one. So there's a natural tendency to look for the big-buck sponsorships that can come only from industry. In an advocacy group, the questions must be asked - how much influence comes with big donations, and is that influence necessarily aligned with the goals of the members?

Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship

Here's an IMBA story about the Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship getting sued over a loose board on a bridge. A rider claims he was injured after hitting that loose board on a trail bridge maintained by OEF in a public park. Naturally, this could have a chilling effect on volunteers maintaining any facilities on public land. Still, this is far from settled, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Fixed Gear Donation

I have a very nice fixed-gear conversion on the repair stand right now. Rod Harwood donated it to the Tulsa Community Cycling Project. But I wouldn't want to put a novice cyclist on a fixed-gear, and I don't think it would be appropriate for one of the social services clients, so it will likely be put up for sale after I finish overhauling it. That's one thing I really like about a fixie - very low maintenance. This one has a Sanshin front hub (Sunshine, in the old days) with sealed bearings. The rear one is an older Campy road hub, and the wheel has been re-dished for fixed use. The crank is a Shimano and I don't know about the bottom bracket. I haven't gotten that far into it yet.

Sure, this bike is a hodge-podge of parts, but it's a nicer hodge-podge than my fixed gear commuter! The only bad points (so far) are the absence of a seat post, saddle, and binder bolt, and the old, dry rotted tires. I found a proper binder bolt in my junk box, and I'm sure if I look around long enough, I may have a seat post and saddle for it too.

With all those teenagers in the house tomorrow, I just may try to hide out in the garage.

Road Bike Rider Newsletter

This is an excerpt from the latest Road Bike Rider newsletter. It arrives via e-mail every Thursday - mostly - and it always has something good to read. This week, there's a bit about the negative effects of caffeine. Those of you who've read CycleDog regularly know that I'm definitely addicted to the bean, and I'm not likely to stop or even cut back on my coffee!

Here's a link to the on-line edition. From there you can subscribe if you want to:

Could Caffeine Be Ineffective (or Worse)?
Who you gonna believe? For decades, caffeine has been touted as a legal performance enhancer and used by countless athletes.

Now comes a study that says caffeine may impair peak heart function.

As reported in the Jan. 17 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 18 young, healthy volunteers were tested on stationary bikes after taking the caffeine equivalent (200 mg) of two cups of coffee.

Result: The caffeine dose did not affect blood flow within the heart while the participants were at rest. However, blood-flow measurements taken immediately after exercise were 22% lower. And they were 39% lower in participants that were tested in a chamber that simulated high altitude.

Explained Philipp A. Kaufmann, MD, one of the researchers, "Whenever we do a physical exercise, myocardial blood flow has to increase in order to match the increased need of oxygen. We found that caffeine may adversely affect this mechanism. It partly blunts the needed increase in flow."

He noted that the study was not designed to measure athletic performance, but the findings indicate that caffeine may be ineffective or even counterproductive for that purpose.

"We now have good evidence that, at the level of myocardial blood flow, caffeine is not a useful stimulant," Dr. Kaufmann said. "It may be a stimulant at the cerebral level in terms of being more awake and alert, which may subjectively give the feeling of having better physical performance. But I now would not recommend that any athlete drink caffeine before sports. It may not be a physical stimulant, and may even adversely affect physical performance."

Dr. Kaufmann added that the study raises special concerns for people with heart disease. "Any advice would be based on results of healthy volunteers and would be a bit speculative. Nevertheless, my advice [for those with coronary artery disease] would be: Do not drink coffee before doing physical activities."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ask Crankset! (Part 2)

Ask Crankset! is an advice column written by an experienced cyclist, Wally Crankset, who answers all your cycling-related questions!

Dear Mr. Crankset,
I followed your advice and invited that guy with the shaved legs over to my place for dinner. And as you suggested, I made a big pasta salad with lots of cherry tomatoes and olives. He loved it! Even better, he brought a bottle of very good wine and some flowers! Where I was formerly "Uncertain", I'm now:
Giddy in Grove City

Dear Giddy,
Good for you! It's like my mama used to say, "Pasta will soothe the savage beast!"

Dear Mr. Crankset,
I tried to talk my fiance out of a career in politics by following your advice. He's thinking about it, but he's not certain that he has the artistic skill to be a pornographer, but he thought that being a chat show host or television anchorman would be appealing. Do you have any recommendations?
Vexed in Volant

Dear Vexed,
It's difficult to break into the televison business either as a chat show host or an anchorman. Suggest that your significant other sleep in one of those high-altitude tents that simulates altitude by reducing the oxygen he breathes. If his brain is deprived of enough oxygen, he could indeed become an anchorman or television reporter. But be careful. If he loses too much brain capacity, he'll wind up as just another right-wing AM radio talk show host.

Mr. Crankset
I can't believe you'd say something like that! It's not MY fault my husband is an uncaring, unrepentant slob, and you sound exactly like him! Men like you have no concept of how much we women do for you. You're insensitive, obtuse, ignorant, and you deserve to go through life alone. How can you live with yourself?
Mrs. (soon to be Ms.) Clean

Dear Mrs. Ms. (whatever),
Tell me the truth. Are you masquerading behind that name, and are you really one of my ex-wives? You sound just like Wanda Sue Neidermeier, my fourth (or was it fifth?) ex-wife. She left me to "find herself" and sure enough, she did. She found herself married to some poor loser whose highest ambition was to graduate from welding school. Wanda was a looker, though! She'd been "Miss Bullseye" in her hometown, Broken Elbow, Oklahoma, and that girl was a dead shot with a pistol - when she wasn't drinkin'. Is that you, Wanda Sue?

Dear Mr. Crankset,
I took my girlfriend out on a training ride and tried to crush her on the first hill, just as you suggested. To my surprise, she motored away from me, laughing all the way to the top. I spent the next hour trying to catch up. The girl may be a time-trialing wonder! She's a natural, for sure. I never had a chance to tell her to go home and fix me that nice dinner. Now what should I do?
The (former) Intimidator

Dear Intimidator,
Learn to cook, and fix HER a nice pasta dinner.