Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Some Speed Chain

Blogs don't have to be useful compendiums of knowledge, especially bike blogs, since you learn all you need to know by simply riding or keep on suffering, whichever you prefer. Nobody really explains how to drive automobiles better or safer. That's probably why car accidents are a key scourge, kill more people than gun violence, infectious diseases, or international wars. Scofflaw motorists should be severely sanctioned. The fastest way to increase safety would be deny, revoke and suspend more licenses. But automotive greed, carnage profits, and lazy habits won't ever allow. It's the American Way to promote stupidity.

Known for spending tens of thousands of hours astride a steel steed, Labann gets asked how to bike better. A glib reply, "Read the book!" Mostly, though, they mean, "How can I to go faster?" Honest answer, "Lose weight!” Any decent roadie is already two thirds lighter than a cheap Flying Pigeon or 1970's Schwinn ten-speed. But all are within 30 pounds of each other. You yourself must jettison ballast. Every extra 5 lbs of flab acts as if you’ve tossed a grocery bag of sugar in a knapsack, maybe a couple of 2 liter bottles of soda, to lug around. Condition yourself to mount latrine before you embark. Simplify diet. Eat no more each meal than what you can fit in your closed fists plus all the undressed salad and veggies you can stomach. Yeah, a drizzle of dressing has far more calories than a pile of greens. Fill up on fruits for dessert. Hydrate religiously; it takes a gallon of water to metabolize a pound of fat, and water lubricates muscles. Body mass will disappear faster than you can shop for new clothes.

However, consider this: Anything faster than 12 mph means you're forced to focus on road and miss scenery. Velocity is no blessing. Haste causes waste. A quick pace does mean more ground covered, possibly rivals durations of automotive trips, and suggests fewer gym visits. But attaining 35 mph or more can be life threatening and nerve-racking. At 65, most bikes vibrate so badly they seem almost liquid, like a Dali watch or overcooked spaghetti. Adopt a steady pace. Get used to quadrupling distance in miles to derive your ETA in minutes. All bicyclists collectively average only 12 mph. Twice that wins world class races. Not many watts separate ordinary from remarkable output.

Beyond dragging weight, other WET blankets to scorching include, in order of severity: 1) Wind in your kisser, 2) Equipment insufficiencies and ergonomic issues with bike fit, and 3) Terrain problems such as poor surfaces, steep hills, and unfriendly roads.

In a tempest drafting in echelon or paceline works, but only in a group. Alone, you could choose routes protected by buildings or trees. Climbing a hill may shield you from gale that prevails. Reasonably fit cyclists can climb a routine slope at double digit speed but slow to single digits on open flats into steady wind. Sometimes it almost feels like you're pedaling in place. Gripping handlebars drops sets you in a low, more streamlined, position. Racers further straddle top tube to optimize downhill speed. Oiled chains, shaved legs, and smooth hubs probably only psychologically hasten.

Racers and weekend warriors all know how to charge hills; they ramp up right before a climb to build momentum that carries them up. This shaves seconds off time to finish. Shifting into the right gear to maintain highest crank cadence does prove faster than slowly grinding. Muscle tone and personal anatomy determine whether you can exploit longer crank arms or triple crank arrays. Professionals among several sports speak of repetitive speed chains as performance enhancers. Turns out, latest research reported in the New York Times proves interval training best increases endurance. Extended sessions and regular effort will earn you the right to outdistance any bike path challenger whose self esteem depends upon passing whomever they see ahead. Preparing to surpass you, some spent entire winter in spin classes where nobody moves relative to another. Maddening, but does mimic peloton, after all. It’s cruel to let them think they are winning their unannounced races only to leave them in your dust. The old saying holds true, “It never gets any easier, you just go farther faster.”

Dozens of things regarding how bike doesn't suit its rider might decrease efficiency. Fat, low pressure tires increase rolling resistance. Frame could be too small to harness rider's strengths. Not wearing stiff cleats clipped into pedals sacrifices leverage. Saddle could be too far back or low to maximize thrust. Pays in time saved to have an expert fitting in the apparel and cleats you'd actually wear. When properly set, knees don't flail outward but thighs push down directly and efficiently on pedals. What you wear also matters; clingy spandex frees moving body parts and wicks way sweat; padded shorts reduce discomfort that distracts from diligent effort. If you leave your bike unlocked, you might spend an inordinate amount of time chasing, replacing, or walking.

Surfaces and terrains can be chosen, but you must deal with whatever you find. Plan routes to take advantage of easy grades and light traffic. Racers sprint toward hills to train on, because best climbers and sprinters are those who repeatedly stand atop podiums. Steer around gravel, holes and sand. Bumps hurt butt less when you stand. Smooth surfaces are always preferable. You might notice an ideal line where wheels of cars and trucks have worn a smooth groove. Then again, at intersections shoulders may be smoother than travel lanes buckled from braking trucks.

Traffic planners seldom realize that bicyclists exist. Detours due to planner neglect could amount to hours. Sometimes you may have to cut through a parking lot or take a sidewalk to traverse a street one-way against you. Consequently, signs on roads are mostly to control motorists, not you. Bicyclists might as well treat red lights as if they were yield signs, or take advantage of lulls between changes to cross in pedestrian lanes. If you ride a bike as if it’s a motor vehicle, you’re just as prone as a motorist to getting plowed into, and likely spoil fun. If shoulder space allows, you can charge a red light far ahead, which may turn green before you get to it; if already green, better slow down, because you’ll have to unclip and put down a foot, which takes more time than continually hovering and slowly rolling.

Only when you combine all these tips do you significantly reduce overall time. Ironically, the more you get around using an apparently slow conveyance the more time you ultimately save. Just don't expect to be winning stages of a major tour without years of practice handling bike and everything else you'll encounter. Ignore what everyone else expects. Be comfortable with how you perform. Every trip by bike celebrates your continued vitality.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Brutish Exotain

Pondering similarities among chain rhyming words, noticed how In each of these cases things go or stay, much like populations do today:
Abstainers forego pleasures, not only during advent or lent.
Complainers waste their time and yours, since neither they nor you listen, only vent.
Containers have covers and sides and keep things from escaping.
Detainers arrest, hold or imprison others from going freely.
Entertainers rivet audiences through stimulations both brainy and feely.
Explainers hope to clarify topics and move listeners, but usually fail.
Infotainers advertise dicey products for sale, anger audiences by airtime squandering.
Maintainers avoid change and resist decrepitude.
Obtainers exploit trust to get fat on rich food and wealth accrued.
Restrainers are metal chains or paper edicts that deter your unwanted actions.
Retainers snare lawyers and others who agree to serve obtainers.
Trainers indoctrinate new hires to prevent workplace revolutions.

Language ought to have a term for anyone who turns citizens into refugees from countries they once defended, loved and supported. Exodus has become a dire international issue. No nation wants to welcome undesirables run off by despots and dictators, who have long realized that dislodging residents from their homes is the best way to keep them vulnerable and weak. Land owners can hypothetically exploit own resources, fend for themselves, grow food, and ignore government until taxed prohibitively. Brexiters abandoned European brethren. Coined the term “Exotainer” only to learn that it already exists for biodegradable beverage and food containers that can be composted, a veritable no-brainer, since nation’s landfills are nearly full, and you should agree that land could serve better uses than repositories of filth or sources of tax revenue, which ruin them irrevocably. So, considering Disdainer, Expeller, Villain and virulent Iniquity to be Loathed, can only picture some DEVIL as dreaded as Lovecraft’s Cthulhu or related monstrosities from Azathoth The Blind Idiot God to Y’golonac the Defiler full of perversions and sinister impulses, though none possess a strawberry combover or very small hands fidgeting on a nuclear trigger.

Humanity faces two gargantuan evils: Resource depletion and wealth disparity. Unless planet's 8 billion begin practicing alternative transportation, cooperative enterprise, social justice, thoughtful stewardship, zero carbon footprint, and zero population growth, each and every earthling is in for a rude awakening. Study those 6 phrases; they drip of new enterprises and potential profits. Yet leaders busy themselves with dismantling global treaties because they represent short term inconveniences and shift power from bullies and criminals to inventors and thinkers.

Waste management alone could be worth hundreds of billions, yesteryear’s landfills tomorrow’s mines, if diseases and toxins can be managed. Gasification could fuel electrical generation. Few realize that nationwide 90% of all electrical plants started since 1990 are gas fired. Fracking may be injurious to communities, but vast gas reserves exist in, for example, Siberia, while crude oil dwindles. So atmospheric carbon will abate as fossil fuels are exhausted, though renewable methane will remain a threat as long as humans rely on beef, chickens and pork as dietary mainstays. Beef is the worst among them, since flatulence cows emit and fuel for transport account for an estimated 20% of all greenhouse gases, not to mention saturated fats they contribute to an epidemic of cardiovascular diseases, still the heavy weight champion among killers claiming millions annually. How many cremations and vehicle corteges blacken skies in this endless holocaust? Smart approaches attack root causes, but undermine too many vested interests.

A battle is waged daily between humans and nature. Retailers install giant signs to attract patrons but instead collect small birds. They add nails and wires so they don't nest, but birds counter with lot litter, straw and twigs. Could provide somewhere else to nest, or rethink sign design, but thinking proactively takes intelligence. Deer lurk in tree lines. Any fauna bold enough to enter roadway dodges massive machines driven without regard for life. Death dealt lies within aptly named gore areas and gutters, simply another hazard for bicyclists to evade while worrying about likewise succumbing to relentless flow. Towns leave roadkill, except human corpses or traffic impediments, where it falls. You can watch its slow decay from day to day until months later it's gone away. Even though future costs might be enormous, whatever generates revenue today bypasses accountability and holds sway.

Why can’t so-called leaders cherish diversity that truly makes a country great? Uncaring capitalists unilaterally besiege those who actually care about others and do everything necessary for society’s survival, who only have to stop paying taxes and performing jobs to push out bosses, who endlessly concoct new scams beyond banks, politics and religions to dupe enough into thinking obedience preserves self and votes answer prayers.

What of one’s responsibly to provide worthwhile copy? As Time magazine asserts, Truth is not only dead, but would represent tyranny’s greatest threat if allowed to spread. Conservative fake news diced its last shred decades ago, goes on doing so. What if election and subsequent denouncement of Trump was simply a ploy to get voters to buy GOP agenda of greed? It's like bad cop, worse cop, big race to the bottom, not top. Great again? Happens when? Stockholm syndrome setting in? Did you see 10 Cloverfield Lane? Who can you trust when the unthinkable occurs?

Capitulating to human foibles and frailties yet inspiring self betterment has to be more effective than cudgeling compliance, enforcing draconian rules, and trying to make one solution fit all, what tyrants repeatedly try, unsuccessfully, with great loss of life. When you examine their motivations, it’s all about consolidating power and wealth. Basically clueless, they boomerang resentment and build barriers against mutual goals. Personal choices influenced by government policies divides and weakens nation. Some behaviors you must abide if you expect cooperation. Others are intolerable on a two-way street. Imagine having to foot the bill for alcohol and drug self abuse in mandatory insurance premiums and taxes. Medicare could handle all health care costs and oust insurance involvement. There’s no worse terrorism than threatening to eliminate affordable care, real estate ownership, social security, wages from jobs, and welfare. Conservative Congress vows to eliminate all of these hard earned entitlements, some paid over lifetimes. Their threats tell you they are the terrorists, can’t enslave without pushing anxiety buttons, don’t care about your wellbeing, and rather oppress than promote cooperation.

A century ago prohibition was as much an undeniable failure as drug interdiction is today. Seminal jazz artist Leon Bismarck “Bix" Beiderbecke was known for how he conducted his short tragic life and played his cornet according to his succinct philosophy, “Don’t shove, push politely,” Despite his bike related name, Bix never fooled with a bicycle pump, though Paul Whiteman Orchestra bandmate Wilbur Hall did a comedy bit that explored biological tones that a pump can make. Bix was too soused to stray from inventing a unique style based on physical limitation, then prematurely dying from his chosen addiction. Self anesthetizing and medicating was about all anyone had or has to dull pains and terrors of daily life. Now, aspects of health care that address, like psychiatric counseling, are what GOP wants to deny.

Well into an age of outrage with truth its main causality, society tries to get back in touch by watching contrived reality. Never more popular, some programs do catch essence of what happens. However, it can be argued that totally fictional films have done more to instruct how to conduct yourself in relationships, including ethics but particularly lovemaking. Technique among amateurs has greatly improved with internet porn to emulate. But hearing and seeing athletic adults engaged in coitus doesn't penetrate realities of attraction, abandonment, danger, disappointment, enslavement, frustration, recriminations, smell, sociopathy, taste and touch. Maybe metafiction seeks a midpoint between fact and fantasy. To get there you have to plumb depths of both. Appeals to self destructive acts only bolster profits for bankers, brokers, casino owners, drug dealers, and other parasites intent on absorbing everything people earned, invested in, and saved, and banishing losers to some internment camp out of guilt and sight. You’d think there would be laws and policies protecting citizens against this. But that’s exactly the kind of written effort no lawmaker wants to undertake.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bled Duquesne

As a bike commuter, forced to follow the same streets day after day; they are not boringly familiar, since changes of season and research into history still present things to see. However, for decades made it a mission to visit new environs on weekend spins. Covered every back lane and road in a 75 mile radius, even drove to other states for loops up to 100 miles. Extraordinary only means you’ve never encountered it. Popularity only means it suits an unsophisticated throng. Recommendations don’t require your response.

Does paying attention buy endorsements, entertainment, or practical facts? Must say no, since that's not always the case. Would be nice if authors and critics could help readers divert a deluge of details, reject worthless drivel, select best and most relevant. No doubt, some try. Generalities just seem like truths, but never survive analysis. Mentors tell you what you want to hear. News anchors read scripts masking motives. Teachers stick to curricula. Writers mostly regurgitate tales deemed repeatable based on brainwashing. Your cell text is increasingly encrypted. Only barrier to B&C is a bit of poetry. In an enormous world where everything is somehow interconnected and everyone has personal agendas, you almost have to find your own way, ignore pundits, rely on own experiences, yet seek unique perspectives that free your mind and serve you in good stead.

Deplore lists that pump titles for payola; discredit selection bias that generates rest. Still feel obliged to point out bicycling books that occupy space and steal time. Life may be too short to explore endless imaginative nonsense stuffed between covers, mummified remnants of what once was vital, or overlong digressions from commonplace knowledge that informs sensible choices. Yet future historians might form entirely wrong impressions of what was happening now based on conservative broadcasts and consistent advertising that throttled the life out of truth so thoroughly practically nobody has any clue how to filter fabrications from facts. Compared to huge monthly bills for cable and connectivity, basic needs now that commerce and governance have placed everything online, where should such an annoyance rate on your grievance meter? Unless masses cherish logic and reason, and voters refuse to be duped by rhetoric, atrocities will ensue, cruelty resume, and mankind confront doom, something no one wants to hear about ever again.

Society steadily steers toward an oligarchy who would oppress everyone they can, not any destination you'd want to reach. In garage attending winter chores and reflecting upon life, sense how unchecked up-flow will eventually resemble monarchies and serfdoms. History shows that kings waged war among themselves and used subjects as pawns and proxies in battles. Next, robber barons subjugated industrial minions with long hours and small wages, and supplanted self professed birthrights. Duquesne Steel Plant, now a closed hulk in Iron City, Pittsburgh, PA, and National Tube works across the river, were once the epicenter of raw material for bicycles and “welfare capitalism” intended to block rise of labor unions. There Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan battled for steel dominance and bled workers of life force by bobbing token benefits as bait. China, having stockpiled untold acre-feet of nation’s ferrous disposables, now produce most of the steel world needs, but at such an environmental cost people can hardly breathe and must buy oxygen peddled on street corners. It’s still exploitation only a century later in a different place under forced servitude. So much for the myth of communism delivering labor rights.

Teddy Roosevelt reviled monopolies and split up these monetary trusts. Roosevelt’s ancestors engaged in opium and slave trade, which positioned them among nation’s wealthiest families. Behind every billionaire lies a wake of broken promises and human ruin. Trump's casinos exploited gamblers and sex addicts. Whoever enthralls sinners invests profitably. Ethics have been slaughtered by politics. The loudest, most confident argument prevails, not the most commendable or decent. Somebody must pay for unearned privileges, usually anonymous, marginalized, middle class wage slaves, who never seem to learn from history that isolation weakens and organization strengthens.

Why can’t majority comprehend that unfair practices are reprehensible? It happens so often - kids disrespecting parents, motorists forcing others off road, public heaping abuse on civil servants, spouses forcing each other to do things they rather not - Republican, self serving, unconstitutional rules escape repeal. How does the elephant in room - GOP villainy - always go unnoticed? Free speech is a beginning, but it's far from freedom from tyranny and want. Answer lies in how distracted 75% of Americans are. If it’s not swilling beer and watching football, it’s being duped, doing chores, fighting desperation, meeting obligations, tweeting pointlessly, or working overtime. What ever happened to equality, fraternity and liberty for all men and women? Bled dry is why. You never have to care, or loyalty swear, simply track elsewhere by armchair book or real backpack.

Don Petterson, Old Man on a Bicycle: A Ride Across America and How to Realize a More Enjoyable Old Age (Outskirts Press, 2014, 236 pp.) visits this foreign service septuagenarian and New Hampshire native as he hits the road to San Francisco and records his impressions.

Jim Malusa, Into Thick Air: Biking to the Bellybutton of Six Continents (Counterpoint, 2008, 336 pp.): With nothing but sleeping bag and sundry supplies, this author/botanist bicycled solo to the lowest point on every continent but Antarctica, including Caspian Sea, Dead Sea, Death Valley, Djibouti in Horn of Africa, Lake Eyre outback, and Patagonia, and lived to log his observations on local culture and ecology.

Joe Boyd, White Bicycles (Serpent's Tail, 2007, 282 pp.) is both a book on Amazon and podcast from 2007. Title metaphor tells how flower power, exemplified by Amsterdam’s Provo who supplied free white bicycles to everyone and selfless brotherhood, morphed into selfish hedonism fueled by plentiful cocaine, which quickly supplanted marijuana and mind expanding hallucinogens, some say by government officals.

Boyd, remarkable for always being at the right place at right time, was an impresario and record producer for Electra label who got to know all the most notable counterculture acts during 60's and early '70's, including Jimi Hendrix and Tomorrow frontman Steve Howe, who later formed chartbuster group Yes. He notes how band Tomorrow's performance at London's UFO club after a street demonstration concluded club’s reign as an underground icon when news media they were protesting in retaliation denounced club as a drug hangout; this brought police heat and destroyed its outlaw appeal. Boyd complained that rock and roll was sanitized by silencing DJs, who had been delivering revolutionary messages.

Mike Howerton, The Ride of Your Life: What I Learned about God, Love, and Adventure by Teaching My Son to Ride a Bike (Baker Books, 2014, 194 pp.) compares how lessons used to master this particular skill can be applied to every challenge in life, and gives a video synopsis on Youtube. Readers find Howerton’s homilies absolutely credible and stirringly inspirational. Nothing new, am reminded of Baptist Pastor Harold Habecker’s Modern Parable of Bicycling podcast (2008), which was mentioned in B&C at the time. Some see spirituality in every act; some pray a painful ride will soon end, or they’ll make it to wherever they're going.

S. Ehmann, R. Klanten editors, Velo—2nd Gear: Bicycle Culture and Style (Gestalten, 2013, 256 pp.): “I bike, therefore I am.” Coffee table book proposes with photographic evidence that choices flag attitudes - certain bikes peg owners into particular demographic groups - and submits for your consideration coveted and unusual bicycles and those who ride them.

Wheeler’s Disciples, Epic Bike Rides of the World (Lonely Planet, 2016, 320 pp.): Crack team of travel writers describing 200 once-in-a-lifetime spins in far flung corners. Maureen and Tony Wheeler founded Lonely Planet when they composed a travelog following an impecunious drive from London, England to Sydney, Australia. It became an empire with broadcast series Lonely Planet and excellence award winning spinoff Globe Trekker entering its 19th season.

Dylan Thomas, Me and My Bike (McGraw-Hill, 1965, 53 pp.), illustrated by Leonora Box, is the famous poet’s unfinished screenplay. His stanza, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” has been cited wrongly and misinterpreted for decades. It’s about his dying father, who’s going blind. Such is the nature of words floating dissociated from context, taken to mean whatever by whoever stumbles across them. Freedom Medal recipient and Nobel Laureate songwriter Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman) adopted his name in homage to their mutual conflict with those to whom they spoke; occurred around 1959 when Bob gave up interest in rock-n-roll for more serious folk music. Both were originals not easily accepted by mainstream Americans.

The web features all sorts of poetry devoted to bicycling’s joys and sorrows.