Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dino Wino

These days along streets in any major city you see individuals squatting. Seems they have nothing better to do. Everything else cost money of which there's little in circulation after trillions were trickled up. Hasn't yet kept majority from motoring, but might mitigate a little gridlock. As it is it takes on average a half-hour to drive from Boston College to Harvard Yard, no faster than bicycling 7 miles there. Can't help believing squatters don't have bikes because they spent too much on their petroleum addiction. Now they bob, drop and flop like a dino wino incapable of imagining another way to get around or mustering enough energy for minimal labor or self propulsion after years of comfortably cruising.

As gasoline prices escalate, alternatives proliferate. Several manufacturers (BionX, eZee, Giant, et. al.) offer electric assisted or fully electric bikes priced for what 6 months of gasoline costs; any could easily make this 14 mile round trip on a single charge. Another interesting development is the NuVinci N360 continuously variable transmission (CVT) rear hub featured on such bikes as the Novara Gotham, which has a carbon belt drive, disk brakes, and integrated headlights run off a generator front hub. All this extra gear makes bike weigh in at a whopping 40 pounds, as much as a tandem or twice a roadie, but same as a vintage Schwinn and suitable for patrolling urban precincts. These transitions from automotive convenience cost more than typical bikes, although decent equipment tends to run over $700. You get what you pay for most of the time.

Having worn out a half dozen bikes, remind others to be smart about rebuilding versus rebuying. An advanced steel or TI roadie frame and fork can be repainted and repaired to accept a new gruppo for under 1 grand, yet equivalent replacement could be as much as 5. If bitten by greatest/latest bug, console yourself in knowledge that a car is 10 to 20 times as much as comparable cycling price points. A $99 box store one speed costs 1/20 a rust free used subcompact; a high end $10,000 road racer costs 1/20 a new Italian sports car. You can fill your garage with all cycling options above for expense of mandatory car maintenance over its usable life.

Kids learn to do things for themselves when they master eating utensils, going pottie, and pedaling tricycles. But true self reliance comes when they venture away from home to explore a bigger world, which begins long before a driver's license. Bicycles are an integral part of an adolescent passage to adulthood. Those who never ride don't seem to know how to evaluate risks, and therefore fear everything equally and inefficiently. Nothing good comes from staying put. If people want to get off dole, they've got to become mobile. Moving is essential to living. Cycling beats walking, while driving means a vehicle you can't park anywhere near places you want to be.

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