Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mark of Cain

In 2013 box office blockbuster World War Z, virus expert Brad Pitt, after visiting ground zero of contagion to seek some cure, reconsiders next place to touch down to evade zombies, who are attracted by slightest of noises, as are sharks from afar to frolicking seals. He and team pick bicycles to quietly sneak back onto plane. Felt similar terror on December roads among frenzied holiday shoppers. WWZ's undead move as fast as highway traffic, unlike television's slow walking dead. Original Voodoo versions, upon which they based these necrophobic nightmares, were nearly paralyzed by poisons.

Screen treatments gained popularity with John Caradine's Revenge of the Zombies (1943), when they embodied an actual diaspora of needy WWII refugees roaming menacingly across 5 continents. In 1968 George Romero revived fetish with The Night of the Living Dead. IMDB lists 263 films and show episodes devoted to this creepy premise where strange biological entities are wantonly exterminated as if insects in nuclear fear films. Hate? Really? Genre has come to symbolize any mindless horde perpetrating evil, whereas worn out westerns, which number in the thousands, are mostly about equals with guns killing each other. God fearing folk were once expected to repress their savagery, but ever more often meek minion unwittingly engage in heinous acts and rights debacles for the sake of nationalism, racism or xenophobia. You're equally guilty by commission or omission; ignoring duty to society is no option facing next atrocity. You don't satisfy requirement by begrudgingly remitting taxes and pretentiously expecting government to take care of it. They don't do enough to help developing countries feed hungry bellies.

Icugutu: Rwanda's handmade wooden bicycles
dangerously devoid of brakes.

Tim Lewis' balanced book Land of Second Chances (Velopress, 2013) examines the horror you've come to expect from the heart of darkness and the improbable rise of Rwanda's Olympic cyclists. Rolls in behind T. C. Johnstone's documentary on same topic Rising from Ashes narrated by Forest Whitaker. Lewis starts with a riveting account of “the rubber terror” over Dunlop’s raw materials and slave plantations in neighboring Congo. Pneumatic tires did make bicycling practical but at a terrible unseen cost. These days, tantalum mining for computers and cell phones commandeers unpaid labor and rationalizes deals in mass death. Often painful to read, book's facts implicate creed and greed, as usual.

Central Africa should be a place of potential, particularly Rwanda where millions share same economic status. Nine out of ten are subsistence farmers who push once banned icugutu ladened with produce. Hope Cycles now increasingly bring coffee to market on time and represent hope, as incongruent an idea as honesty if you live with uncertainty and make no plans. Yet foreigners fear grim reminders of the sudden massacre of nearly a million souls maliciously meted out with machetes by senseless mobs. Survivors bear fearsome scars, mental and physical, neither forgetting nor permitting themselves to be defined by genocide. Unification has become a national obsession. Cyclists there braved far more than their hilly terrain, which is bound to strengthen. Every racer knows the winner will be whoever climbs fastest.

One day with nurture loss-averse Rwandans may ride their amagare (modern bikes) past pelaton to European victories. One never knows. Took until 1986 for an American to win Tour de France. Glory in sports is fleeting at best and should never be sole opportunity among the poor. Only fair trade in agribusiness, manufacturing and mining raise a nation's standard of living. Rwanda may rate among the poorest countries in World, but they hold Umuganda on the last Saturday of every month when everyone participates in community projects and professionals provide services for free. Brush gets cleared but holiday gifts aren't swapped; rather, whoever has anything is asked to share.

Continually dealing with ignorance and impatience can be depressing. Everyday androids attack entrances and exits of expressways, human mimicking golem, modern zombies leaving behind common sense, compassion, and controlled pulse for speed's trivial thrill. Unlike motoring, cycling appeases your intense, Kerouac-esque appetite to experience everything on the road. Sure, if you go, got to open your gourd and orbs. Goodwill goads you to know you don't live in a vacuum, rather a supportive network that enables feeling whatever way you want, including apathetic, depressed, oblivious or vindictive. Malcontents can be blue and still stomach complaints. Comforts alienate. Being but obliquely aware of issues, you have only a dim impression of what abominations ignorance and want are capable. You blink at what's happening right now in Africa.

Cyclists bond in a brotherhood of pain. Conversation lifts one's spirits, even when it's only grousing or grumbling. People commiserate, what they do best, (literally) wretched together. But Cain asked, and those who bear his brand repeat, "Am I my brother's keeper?" A caring, cooperative world that doesn't tolerate iniquity has an uphill climb with church and state setting contradictory examples. Wholesale slaughter should never amuse, neither alien insects or nearby zombies. One rides amidst memories of the dead, but tries to merit redemption through charity, kindness, and patience.

"You must remember always to give... foolishly even... to all who come into your life. Then nothing and no one shall have power to cheat you... if you give to a thief, he cannot steal from you, and he himself is then no longer a thief.... Nothing good ever ends. If it did, there would be... no life at all, anywhere." - William Saroyan, The Human Comedy

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Chimeric Twain

"People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing... Give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin... Sitting here Watching the Wheels go round... just had to let it go."—John Lennon, final, posthumously published, song on Double Fantasy album
Why switch back to bicycle from car? Nobody wants to be told how they must go. Motor on days of rain or snow. Why not? Market runs are easier by truck when one can find a parking spot. Bicycling is a healthy choice and mood boost whenever it suits you, or an imposed drudgery for suckers clearing way for tetchy fuel hogs then narrowly surviving falls into trenches. Unfair to call bicycling a gateway drug to driving, but it is all about, "How can we go faster?" without any doubt over consequences.

Wish you owned winged Pegasus: Lives forever, never eats, prances blithely over car crawl and snarl.

Though a pain to care for, horses are at least biological, logical, and sustainable and don't need roads, only hay. Neither does a mountain bike, but it won't run off leaving you surrounded by snakes and wolves.

The cheapest (riskiest) form of real transportation might be a 250 cc scooter, which can provide daily 137 mile highway roundtrips at 50+ mph/mpg, 50,000 miles annually, for only 1,000 gallons, maintenance, and oil. A scooter can be used in all weather and costs no more than a decent bicycle, whereas you might have 2 or 3 bikes for changeable conditions but only ride them 10% as far. Some cyclists only use roadies, but half also own either single speeds or winter beaters. During '60's routinely put 2 full bags of groceries, enough for a couple's weekly consumption, into milk rack on back of a waspish Vespa. By bicycle you could carry as much, but not as conveniently in one trip. Frame mounted panniers and racks will set you back hundreds, then you'll need for each bike. Versus fuel, dozens of cassette/chain combos and sets of tires won't match a scooter's range. A luxurious Hermes hipster at $11k costs as much as a low end new car; has some of the features of a Novara Gotham, which sells for 90% less.

None of this takes into account the trillions spent to date on road construction and upkeep. Depreciation is constant. Neil Young twanged, "Rust Never Sleeps." But you can postpone ruin by biking, making pavement and vehicles last longer, running car as least once a week; otherwise, gaskets fail, metal degrades, and seals leak. Bikes similarly suffer unattended: Cables kink, chains seize, tires crack, tubes ooze, though you can remedy yourself with simple tools, no computer diagnostics required. Boats, busses and trains only get you part way to destinations. All have a place in any transportation solution even though underfunded and unevenly valued.

If you hear of a bicyclist killed it’s when run down by a motorist acting negligently. Insurance has become an enabler of bad behaviors. Coverage and lax enforcement encourage motorists to drive obliviously. In a system out of control, assassinations of innocents are inevitable. Policies don’t protect drivers against criminal charges, only property damages. Yet courts ignore survivor civil suits after traffic tribunals give a $75 wrist slap (maximum penalty for taking a life in some states). Every year the burnt offering for finite automotive profits remains tens of thousands of self replicating lives. In an unexamined dynamic, cycling hastens tragedy, and the dual fantasy is a) Doing right by bike will be rewarded, and b) Labor saving technologies won't kill you. Hazards abound in what you choose to ignore.

Why must everyone stay on the move? Against your will, you're forced from home to earn and spend. Helena Norberg-Hodge discussed devastating effect of drone economies. Investment in global rather than local industry leads directly to an erosion of ethics and resurgence of slavery where still allowed. Why isn't hers an indictment of banking practices under Reaganomic deregulation? Farm coops work because produce is perishable. But what of durable goods that easily endure sea voyages and warehouse storage? Manufacturing at point of sale would certainly save on shipping, but billionaires and exporters suppress such thinking. Dr. Stacy Wood points to a hedonic treadmill: One purchase triggers the next in a mindless acquisition chain. Pleasure seeking humans must roam to reproduce with someone other than cousins and siblings. Perhaps mobility over generations has finally smartened them. A third as many 16-year-olds are now applying for drivers' licenses, satisfied with bikes instead. Teens more often communicate and play video games on-line anyway. Anything else desired may arrive mail order, including brides but not blue chimeras except My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cred Regain

Official statisticians used to say more bikes were sold in 1971 America than ever, 17.3 million, at the height of nation's bike boom. Well, a new record was quietly set in 2000 with 20.9 million. Thought they'd never top with borrowing, rebuilding and renting so popular, yet noticed 15 to 20 million units sold every year since, a stable $6 billion industry. Curious to see tabulated results for 2013. Don't think Big Auto & Oil want these facts broadcast.

They claim bicycles now outsell cars in every European industrialized country, likely true in developing countries, too, where stats aren't as easy to come by. Shouldn't surprise anyone that during a global recession folks will choose a cheaper alternative. But don't kid yourself that ridden miles significantly supplant driven. Motorists report increasingly longer waits at roadnet pinch points, often several red light changes. In fact, private car production worldwide since 1999 has doubled to 60.3 million/year. Last year 82.1 million motor vehicles of all types were assembled; a quarter of them were sold in China. Oil profits have never been greater. Percentage of Americans commuting by bike remains negligible. Only 47 million bikes were built, although their production is expected to exceed cars by 2019.

In this burgeoning bikescape, prestigious blogs and newswires repeatedly ask how safe cycling is. Why spread fear? Sure, ability and savvy peak between years 15 and 60 bracketed by adolescent inexperience and aged infirmity when bicycling becomes less practical. Yet you risk more doing nothing and going nowhere. Huggers must remain mobile to gather, hunt and shop. Restless, you could simply jog or walk, but it takes too long.

Traffic will always be a dangerous dance, though cyclists hug edges, and most roads are empty 20 hours of every day. Still, incompetents may step on toes or stumble; cycling mishaps in America, guesstimated below 200,000 annually, are underreported because they are seldom as baleful or tragic as nation's 4,000,000 motoring collisions. It's why they insure and license operators and pilots and not cyclists, still unnecessary despite regained credibility. Hawaii is the only state with bike registration; Georgia just killed bill in committee endorsed by Republicans but opposed by majority.

One flustered scofflaw snapped back that bike lanes cause accidents based on same argument as guns cause murders: Illogical. As much as they'd like to accuse inanimate objects and loathe assuming responsibility, abusing users are 100% to blame. Laws mandate bike-ped infrastructure because it relieves snarl and smoothes interaction. Motorists, spoiled by freeway speeds, must nevertheless adapt to seasonal frosted windows, solar glare, and variable density on secondary streets rushed at dawn and dusk. Cyclists can't always work around motorists failing to do so.

A bicycling renaissance, if not already occurring, seems on a cusp with avant garde art, film and theater devoted to it and resurgence in urban pacesetters London, New York, and Paris. Bike America, a 2013 play staged in Hell's Kitchen, NYC, tries to elevate cycling into a panacea for emotional emptiness. Europeans just see a bike as a way to get around villages that weren't designed around grids bred to milk motorists. Nilo Cruz's 1999 play A Bicycle Country, about economic sanctions that turned many Cubans into begrudging cyclists, was performed at Miami's Roxy Center last year; Cruz was the first Latino to win a Pulitzer Prize. Follows central London's 2009 staging of Pedal Pusher with plot around Armstrong and Pantani vying for Tour de France glory. Heather McDonald's 1994 play Faulkner's Bicycle imagined the famous author as a cranky cycling neighbor once his writing days were over.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blue Vervain

Seasons shift, spins tempt less, writing wanes. Not supposed to care about landscapes traversed, but do anyway. Grand expanses of green beneath glorious dawns and orange foliage crank brain like an antique Victrola, but falling leaves bring inevitable fears and invisible tears, since ice soon appears. For days out of the saddle consider media as a consolation to the ages of man caught in the cycle of life.

Tire of bixliographies that don't list Bike&Chain and the misbegotten but popular practice of decorating lawns with Tom Waits' rusty bicycle leaned against a tree, planted with annual flowers, gladioli, and mood improving vervain, as if some kid fled parent's nest and left it behind for college. Might symbolize a slew of songs that commemorate lost passions of youth or rediscover simple joys once thought unsophisticated. Nevertheless, find many references to bicycling culture not revealed by titles alone.

Alan Bradley's new novel, Speaking from Among the Bones, has a bike upended on its cover. It's from a mystery series about a ferocious 11-year-old girl, Flavia de Luce, a sleuth who rides a Gladys bicycle, what Fanny Willard learned to ride.

Adolescents soon become bored teens who imagine intrigues in well produced video Vélo Volé (Stolen Bike). French singer Thomas Fersen pines away in his own La chapelle de la joie. Hey Ocean bemoans disappointment in Bicycle.

Kiki Lambert would beat ennui by spinning small wheels of her Brompton folding bike, as she sang in Les p'tites roues (sur l'air du Poinçonneur des Lilas). White rap trio Da Gryptions strut to attract Montreal's mademoiselles in The Bixi Anthem. Deadeye Dick is infatuated with vegan love interest New Age Girl (Mary Moon).

Matthew Good Band wonders about a new hookup in As Long as You're Mine, a new link for a song discussed in Appendix. "Love is just like riding a bicycle, and riding a bicycle is just another way to get thrown." Liaisons definitely can go terribly wrong with intolerable consequences. Both men and women come from Mars or Venus. Sheryl Crow's backlash at being dumped by Lance Armstrong somehow disclosed his doping involvement, as described in Albergotti's and O'Connell's new tell-all Wheelmen. What of Les Wampas' homage Rimini to Italian campione de ciclismo Marco "Il Pirati" Pantani, who died untimely, some say, of depression over EPO abuse accustions? Note stylish skull guitar.

Milwaukee singer/songwriter Peter Mulvey documents his 50 mile ride with Ralston Bowles on trikes to another concert engagement. He's traveled entire East Coast by bike to perform, as well as loops up to 500 miles on recumbents. Pete considers a self propelled musical tour a "Better Way to Go", but will ladies think him a "dork"? Adults can still select their own ways to trek, and Some People go by bicycle or out way too soon.

Sangria Gratuite serenades with anti-car, mariachi tune El Velo Solex. MIght as well have Pierre Péribois chime in with his happy accordion march Nous on Fait du Vélo from Vive les pompiers as dirge rather than When The Saints Go Marching In.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dyke Unchain

Following famous titles from the late 19th Century, notably A Wheel Within a Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle (1893, 104 pp.) by WCTU’s LGBT leader Fanny Willard, one might be led to believe books on bicycling for girls are few and slim. Prejudice against suffragism persisted into the 20th, characterized by that wicked witch on a bike in The Wizard of Oz, whirled disparagingly from Halloween and Sapphic themes. Often hear it deemed evident that female interest has renewed in the 21st. Probably has to do with same old issues: Limited opportunities, stifling paternalism, transportation hardships. Would never imply women need a “what to wear” guide or whatnot. Generic books about bikes could suffice for every gender and orientation, but shrewd to pander to distaff half who buy more books and won't be denied.

UK's Guardian newspaper ran an on-line article asking for comments on cycling in children's books only to conclude there aren't many, although that's not al all true with hundreds on everything from safety concerns to youth motocross. Since juvenile titles are even slimmer, only listed books from the last decade with a Lexile measure above 800.

Cathy Bussey, The Girl's Guide to Life on Two Wheels (Ryland Peters & Small, 2013, 128 pp.)

Beverley Brenna, The White Bicycle (Red Deer Press, 2012, 198 pp.); 3rd novel in her Wild Orchid series about a child with Asperger's Syndrome won Printz Honor this year.

Katie Dailey, Heels on Wheels. A Lady's Guide to Owning and Riding a Bike (Hardie Grant Books, 2012, 96 pp.)

Sue Macy, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) (National Geographic Children's Books, 2011, 96 pp.); nominated for and won several awards.

Previously mentioned books by Claire Morissette and Elly Blue.

Margie Melvin, A Woman Without a Man Is Like a Fish Without a Bicycle, (AuthorHouse, 2009, 68 pp.)

Selene Yeager, Every Woman's Guide to Cycling: Everything You Need to Know, From Buying Your First Bike to Winning Your First Race (NAL Trade, 2008, 320 pp.); substantial volume probably still shy of pretensions.

Carolyn Keene, A Race Against Time (Simon & Schuster, 2004, 160 pp.); a Nancy Drew Detective Mystery.

Jane Kurtz, Bicycle Madness (Macmillan, 2003, 122 pp.); fictional account of youth befriending Frances Willard.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hijack McClane

Men argue unfounded opinions more heatedly than scientific certainties. It's how they roll into battle, perhaps because they've hijacked role models. Since last century that usually signifies antiheroes and individuals beset with impossible tasks not of their own choosing. Sorry to have overlooked scene in Die Hard with a Vengeance (1998) where NYC Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) and Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) commandeer bikes from Bowery boys because some bad guy Simon says, not their finest hour. The pair worked together earlier in Pulp Fiction (1994), only then Willis rode off on dead Zedd's chopper.

More recently Argo (2012) had Ben Affleck attempting to rescue six American Embassy workers hiding in Iran after Shah's fall. One rejected exodus scenario was to have them all ride bicycles to the Iraqi border 400 miles away. They were supposed to fit in with locals frequently seen riding in this multi-award, Oscar winning film. Can't blame them for jetting out moments ahead of capture.

Self sacrifice falls under the profound phoniness of capitalist expectations for everyone except superhero businessmen on white fixies. Why unilaterally assume risks? You can hardly expect cyclists not to ask themselves this before braving streets devoid of decency where wage earners race thoughtlessly to mundane posts assumed to serve deceit and inhumanity. Welcome to the jungle. When fear rules every transaction becomes a slugfest.

From the previous century, women role models like Annie Londonderry helped half of the population gain human rights with none of the aforementioned bluster and machismo. So salute ladies on wheels without objectifying them. Be grateful they reverse the relentless stress of testosterone.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Great Chained Dane

Whatever you notice by bike will lead down a twisty road. Begin with an observation about a real dog, you might end with a revelation about dogma. Riveted this ferocious beast’s attention by merely rounding a corner then silently riding by minding own business. This jackass sized canine strained at a flimsy chain tenuously stretched behind. Its intent was as obvious as it was vicious, a tragedy worthy of Hamlet waiting to happen in that hamlet. Don't know why people breed and keep pets so huge, except, of course, to intimidate intruders, pony up a fortune for chow and fences, and shoulder responsibility of white man's burden to impose order over unknown anxieties.

Momentary terror pushed aside whatever was being mulled, which is what riders do, pray or puzzle over everything through which they ever lived. There's little else to do while pedaling because listening with headphones is illegal and reading impractical. Prior train of thought had something to do with how cycling obsession resembles proselytizing religion. Not exactly what people think of as doctrine, pedaling does have a spiritual core. Modern credos command control, guilt, manipulation, mass hysteria, and validation of wrongdoing; they demand unquestioning belief in an evolving scheme that involves denying oneself now for a ticket to paradise supposedly redeemable once dead, if the trauma of transition doesn't make you forget to present it. Fear of nature, beastly and inhumane, constrains. They'll instigate crusades against infidels and discontent against secularism, same as cyclists only with motorists and motoring. Either way, organizations exist to chisel from you; outsiders falsely assume adherents behave and think alike; penitents congregate on Sundays; songs designed to instill humility are badly sung; tithing occurs at church or local bike shop. Parishioners celebrate mass en mass, whereas cyclists devotedly mash alone even when convened in groups. Ushers pass plates for cash and coins, whereas cyclists leave coins in gutter and notice tar spots that shine like coins but are as phony as most who boast of belief. Riding can be performed ritually and worshipfully, kowtowing like an acolyte over handlebars among pelaton or posse in communion queues. However, in contrast, bicycling goes back to roots of all beliefs in agape, chaste fellowship, the prototype taught by prophets. What few rewards it offers in camaraderie, education and health are immediately realized while still alive. Going by bike is a loving, nontoxic, nonviolent alternative unlikely to cause harm to anyone other than cyclist who choses to do so. It's self sacrifice for the sake of community. It makes real jobs, not simply stuffs ministers' pockets.

Neither blog nor book tries to replace old wives' tales with newly concocted but similarly wrong substitutes. Adages remain undisputed, apothegms startle, and epigrams ring true, but every one is outdated, situationally dependent, and unworthy of your consideration. "Where there's smoke, there's fire," has been used to accuse more innocents than perpetrators by implying guilt by association. People repeat all sorts of things. Men concocted dogma to consolidate power. Wrongdoers cite maxims to justify crimes. How can you expect decent folks to help those down on their luck? You've got to do your own research if you expect to go forth in safety with authority. Neighborhoods you bike through change over years, usually for the worse. Better there was no literature than readymade sayings that stand in for erudition.

Blaming women for troubles is like accusing religion for causing wars. Implicated? Surely, but not the root cause. Frustration produces aggression. Once unleashed, nobody’s safe. Abused children become abusers themselves, or worse, sociopaths who kill without remorse. If one child is forsaken, some wretch will rise to take out rage on unsuspecting citizens. Kindness in schools identifies and neutralizes threat, yet they cut spending for social programs without considering consequences already manifested in mass shootings. Terrorists abound; mustn't foster means and opportunities though neglect. Religions align with this ignorance. Clerics never speak freely or wisely, hold lies and spin above truth. Yet without good inherent in doctrine, greed and tyranny go unchecked.

Anything you question will alienate a thoughtful audience, all 10 of them. Majority can’t grasp advanced concepts. Often cyclists are not dog lovers. Labann abhors breeders, who for profit foist millions of pets onto a populace that can’t afford to feed itself never mind hungry snouts which wouldn’t otherwise exist. So what if this perspective perturbs PETA? Owners fall for relentless advertising and maneuvering. Aimless arm themselves with ammo and animals. Pets are neither farm livestock nor fauna that contributes to ecosystem diversity. Glad to glance deer poking out of trees at dawn and turkeys settling into suburban spots. Acceptance and forbearance are considered weak positions that invite vengeance. As in the Terry Nation film And Soon the Darkness (previously mentioned but now available), you're more secure if you pair up and stay together. Metaphysics never concerns itself with your survival. Making reliable friends is up to you.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Texas Train

Who brought up Texas and trains? Bikes and trains don't comfortably coexist, never did. Before cars and highways were conceived, trains ruthlessly ran across country and through property. To this day, cyclists can't get around monolithic rail impediments; remaining bridges are left to disrepair. Posterity always considered little people expendable. Unions didn't agree, but they were nearly leveled by Reagan.

Coal magnates and iron tyrants were targeted by strikes as long as they tightened their grip. Then cars supplanted, highways consumed trillions of taxpayer dollars, and railroads, despite efficiency, were deselected. But you know they'll be back, because coal is still plentiful and wood renewable. Those who think of artificial bicycles as a cure to motoring should probably instead invest study and time into biological horses. Once oil disappears and oil tarred roads crumble, ponies will be the way to ride between home and station.

What are those trying to dispel myth of robber barons going to do when they inevitably resurface? They never really disappeared, just hid. Columnist Paul Krugman did caution New York Times editorial readers of their invisible, vicious influence.

Who believes Texas came into the fold? Figure Monitor to depict undue optimism in a petroleum producing state. Cost of car ownership stays about $7500/year, also the average one-time amount for a funeral. Boards of Directors, the only ones who share in record stock profits, will milk situation until impossible. Forget communist reform. It's even harder cycling in Moscow than NYC. But since 1990 Cubans have embraced cycling in a big way.

Sinks Contain

Used to be a faster cyclist; then again, was once dreadfully slow after resuming riding from years of jockeying a desk. Now fall between these extremes of speed; gained balance. Still aggravate motorists who race pass only to be overtaken at next traffic jam or light. This leapfrog action evokes emotion as it exposes drawbacks of automotive devotion.

Books foment exactly the same effect for authors, who argue who said what first as if any of that matters. Bike&Chain, composed in the decade between 1995 and 2005, only succumbed to distribution in 2008. Some of its observations appeared elsewhere before and since. Desire to rehash and unsolved issues persist; unwashed dishes in a kitchen sink sit and stink. Known tomes were acknowledged, even quoted, but others only get mentioned in appendix, remained unread, or were never identified. In penance for sins of omission, for 5 years Labann's blogs have documented this burgeoning culture. Interest will always be a reader's prerogative. Without critical filters, it would take a lifetime to read all this cycling malarky, churned out it seems to compete for attention without editorial restraint, which now rivals baseball in quantity of dedicated pages. But baseball isn't also a practical transportation modality. Public ought to be grateful so many writers have addressed this necessity even if they cover same ground during excessive hours of self imposed isolation.

Came across an excellent essay in UK journal Radical Philosophy, (168, July 2011) by Martin Ryle, "Vélorutionary?", which motivated this renewed literary search. Cited by Ryle, may have completely overlooked Zach Furness' One Less Car (Temple University Press, 2010, 360 pp), but that's probably because title didn't plainly convey cycling. So far in 2013 this smattering of new titles arrived among undoubtedly many others:

Joshua Mohr, Fight Song (Soft Skull Press, Berkeley, CA, 2013, 250 pp.) - milquetoast cyclist who designs video games for a living crashes his bike and rises no longer a small man but steely risk taker. Lively novel comments on contemporary foibles and illogical chaos of society today in an anarchic way. Cycling, however, is nearly overlooked otherwise.

Pete Jordan, In the City of Bikes (Harper Collins, New York, 2013, 438 pp.) - cultural tourism in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Labann appreciates Jordan's inclusion of numerous bibliographic sources, which show author has done research and paid attention. Yet don't know if he saw Bella Bathhurst's The Bicycling Book (HarperCollins, 2011, 356 pages) covering same territory.

Peter Cossins, Isabel Best, Chris Sidwells, Clare Griffith, Tour de France 100, (Cassell Illustrated, London, 2013, 288 pp., oversized) is a fascinating and well produced overview of realities surrounding sport's biggest spectacle and those who made it meaningful. Armstrong is still rightly credited with contributing drama and importance despite presumptuous officials determined to erase all memory of him. Doping for races occurred long before this event originated in 1903, and is rife in other sports, particularly football. Not even ancient Pharaohs, self made gods on earth, could totally obliterate all presence of predecessors and rivals.

Giovanni Flores, The Devil and My Bicycle (46 pp.) is a magic realism novella about a smitten youth who chases with obsession and won't give up when she says, "Bye bye."

Greg Borzo, RAGBRAI: America's Favorite Bicycle Ride (The History Press, 168 pp.) is a sincere followup to originator Karras' 1999 book on same topic and slim competitor to Brian Bruns' humorous Rumble Yell (World Waters, 274 pp.).

Emerging noted but not reviewed:
Donato Cinicolo, Me and My Bike (Constable, Fall of 2013, 208 pages); coffee table photo compilation.

Joe Kurmaskie, Guide to Falling Down (Breakaway Books, Fall of 2013); more adventures from author famous for Metal Cowboy.

Elly Blue, Bikenomics (Microcosm Publishing, Winter, 2014, 192 pp.); previously mentioned as a reporter of the cycling underground.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Court Elaine

This Lady of Shallot should have married name rhymed Gawain. Instead she pined unto death for unrequited love of Lancelot. Brit mayhem never ends. Elaine dies again, this time on her first anniversary, mowed down with impunity by a nonagenarian driver. Labann mourns her loss with inconsolable sadness.

Over a century ago girls flocked to bikes as a means of emancipation; got them out of the house, let them meet more suitors than cousins and dull locals, and probably expanded inbred gene pool in a healthy way. Today they hide in or loiter for motor vehicles. As Labann often remarks in passing to anyone waiting for busses, “If you had a bike you’d be there already!” With additional risk of pregnancy and double standards that trap them in situations, women must endure more risks than men to get anywhere. Despite CitiBike and other cycling promotions bumps and scrapes result. But such issues tend to get reported, rather than informing public of the much worse hazards of motoring.

A gender gap has become obvious. Men hesitate to recommend this simpler alternative to ladies, but it's not up to them to court involvement or grant permission. A persistent lack of infrastructure remains a huge deterrent, especially in cities but also in suburbs. Even lightly travelled country roads present safety issues. You can't reassure your frightened daughter when dogs roam loose, medical examiners report bodies found are usually females, and most incidents described occur because society doesn’t seem to give a damn about cyclists and pedestrians regardless of gender. As in all human endeavors, some still find the necessary courage to aim high and compete effectively.

Salute newly established Women’s Cycling Association. Old boss from 1994 to 2004 sponsored an all-girl racing team, so never reckoned that women’s cycling lacked support. Now that it's mentioned, always imagined that misses might have a harder time braving wackos, weather, and worrisome details. With distaff Olympic gold, girl teams garnered sponsors, yet roles remain subservient in premier events. Labann arrowed, designed, instigated and sagged rides to raise awareness and funding for breast and other feminine cancers. But sister participants were typically few. Boys will ride for challenges alone, middle age men out of stubbornness, but damsels are mostly deterred by fear and vanity despite fact that they will never be more alluring while blushing from mild pedaling.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Biz Quatrain

For road riding cyclists, not just grates, manhole covers, and standpipes stuck in it, pavement itself might be a drag. Appian way pave, bumps, cracks, exposed substrate, hard pack, roughness, ruts, tar blotches and washboard woefully impede progress. Edges of patches can be pathetically unnerving, and expanse within wavy. Refilled with too little or much leave unintentional potholes and speed bumps. Why are there so many?

A street isn’t just its visible surface at ground level but a sandwich layer between crust and sky. Underneath, a whole network of sewer and water supply pipes run dangerously close and inaccessibly deep but not without frequent dug interventions. Manholes at least allow access to buried electrical and phone cables, which arise at intervals, cross above, and drape alongside in unsightly tangles. Streets are rights of way for all sorts of purposes, many of which you’d rather know nothing about.
Sticking to smooth isn’t always possible in marginalizing traffic. Cities stink with bone jarring lumps of distorted asphalt at truck pounded intersections. Sometimes it takes every bit of cycling skill just to survive. A steel bike is pliant and strong; its pneumatic tires and spokes absorb some of the many shocks. You’ll have to stand at such times if you can’t stomach a kick in your crotch. The rougher the ride, the slower. None of this has deterred London residents; lately 25% of commuters there are riding bikes. How fast do you want to go? A 32/16 crank/cassette combination at 80 rpm can propel you at 18 to 20 mph on flat. If you spin for cadence you seldom need to shift. It can relieve and rival creeping automotive gridlock that plagues most cities.

Drivers are driven berserk by roads that don’t do what they are supposed to. You can’t earn a living without them. In African nations with few resources, villagers get together and pack earth by hand for the sole purpose of connecting to outside cash flow. Roads used to mean rails, but even trains were too limiting and linear, since farmers and merchants still had to move wares to stations. Did discuss rail trails and train renaissance in Bike&Chain rather prophetically. In a recent tragic rail fail, 80 pilgrims are dead after crash in Northwest Spain. That line had a perfect track record, but anything can be made life threatening by pushing it to the limit. Any attempt to speed things along claims victims. But, with sad refrain and typical lack of concern for fellow man, business rules and shows must go on.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Burst Membrane

Every now and then present new bike stuff neither neatly contained nor overlooked but too insignificant to merit individual elaboration. Saw a handtowel with Babar the Elephant riding a bike, instances of bikes in commercial and films, landscape bikes planted with flowers and vines, some ghost bike memorials, and totes with images of bikes representing "green" of reusable versus disposable bags; am pretty fed up with ubiquitous plastic bag litter. References can be obliquely offhanded. Led Zeppelin's 1973 concert video "The Song Remains the Same" begins with a bike messenger riding a long country road to deliver a list of tour dates to a vacationing band member. PBS serial production of "Call The Midwife" set in 1950's England has title characters routinely delivering babies by utility bicycles replete with Brooks saddles and chain guards.

Bleeding hearts at Canadian Tire ran a wonderful ad in 1989 that defies you to suppress a tear and won several awards.
They followed up in 2013 with a clever suburban dream spot.

Two songs previously mentioned are repeated with links.
Ashley Theberge, "Bicycles", from Ba Doo Day.
Liane Smith, "Bicycle", from Two Sides of a River

Skylar Grey features famous rapper Eminem in newly released fun single "C'mon Let Me Ride".

In realm of incomprehensible, Ukrainian grandmothers sing "My Bicycle, a bicycle". Would beat riding a bus.

Recent concert by NYC band Vampire Weekend included "Obvious Bicycle" from their 3rd album Modern Vampires of the City.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bring On Cheese

Wiebe E. Bijker (must be the name) provided an academic and constructivist thesis, Inside Technology: "Of Bicycle, Bakelites, and Bulbs, Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change" (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995), that delves into development of the safety bicycle and how it changed society by empowering females, as well as other sociological effects of bakelite plastic and florescent bulbs.

Way less convoluted and a few years later, Arnie Baker's The Essential Cyclist (Lyons Press, 1998, 148 pp) is a scant, tight compendium, nearly a glossary, of cycling facts and good advice by a board certified doctor and coach to the pelaton. Other titles by Baker include:
Bicycling Medicine (1998)
Psychling Psychology (2004)
Smart Cycling (1997)

Alon Raab takes you on a 20 minute tour of cycling related literature from blogs to classics. Labann thanks Raab for his shoutout in essay "Wheels of Fire: Writers on Bicycles".

Cycle Sport Online compiled their version of the Top 50 Cycling Books historically, but each one chases the pelaton or licks loser's wounds. Yet they ignored landmark works in the public domain. Sense beyond bicycling there's a hidden connotation in cycling, that is propelling self solo like a billion others versus racing obsessively in a miniscule subset who in every group spin instigates another hammerfest.

Goodreads Listopia outdid them with 88 for which they'll accept your votes. Neither mentions Bike&Chain, only books for sale, since almost all lists are motivated by cheesy advertising needs.

Alex Baca has begun collecting essays periodically in The Bicycle Reader (#1: Summer 2012). Any chapter of Bike&Chain would fit nicely and never repeat ground covered by majority.

If you're a Cheesy Bike Nerd, too bad you missed last month's annual Tour de Fromage of San Francisco's best spots for this stinky delicacy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Bloodstain

Memorial Day recalls those who sacrificed themselves. More than soldiers who've died mercifully young on front lines, those who deserve as much honor are those who give up their well being daily as domestic technicians or dungeon workers at companies that don't care whether they die or live. Caregivers and parents painfully and slowly lose their sanity and vitality so someone else can survive or thrive, someone who generally doesn't know how fortunate they are, particularly pampered artists and spoiled children. Someone nurses wounded soldiers, too. Warmongers profit from all equally, but revel over foolish cannon fodder upon which empires are founded, you'll forever find.

Funny how Memorial Day is bracketed by Father's and Mother's Days on calendar. Once organized blog entries around these holiday revelations. With a memetic buildup of buzz and commercials goading spending, one ought to organize some balance against agendas, but why bother when message is blurred by conformity and greed?

Viewed feature film, Le Gamin au Vélo (A Kid with a Bike) directed and written by Jean-Pierre Dardenne (2011, French with subtitles). Schoolboy Cyril gets abandoned by single parent father and suffers consequences of neglect. Driven to regain his missing bike and resume relationship with financially strapped dad, he runs from orphanage straight into trouble. Recovered bike enables his futile quest, gets stolen, and results in escalating confrontations. A hairdresser steps in to change his life despite his churlish behaviors. None of the above holidays hold much meaning in this bleak scenario. All credit goes to an unsung stranger who freely sacrifices and forgives unconditionally. The stain is in the name of his own blood. Social justice keeps families together and lets adults act responsibly. Society can never forget that unless unrelated individuals intervene soon enough, crime ensues.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Headcount Train

Should companies back bike programs? Apple does. Apparently they make no fanfare about theirs. You don’t have to be a World Class market leader. Companies who do usually feel it’s worth it for healthy lifestyle, improved concentration, and mood boost. This translates into reductions in HMO premiums and unproductive days. Nationwide, commutes average only 11 miles, so majority are quite bikeable. Every year vehicles collisions and repairs cause appreciable attendance disruptions.

Marathon Terminus as seen from Green Monster, 2004.
Corporate commitments run from free (merely reassessing policies) to major (revising infrastructure and supplying appliances).
1. Encourage participation: Allow riders to carry bikes to and store in their cubicles. Apple has a bike garage, presumably with surveillance cameras. Leaving bikes unguarded for 8 hours would give most cyclists separation anxiety.
2. Permit flextime: Reduces fear of arriving late in bad weather or when issues arise, like flats.
3. Hold learning sessions during work hours: Invite speakers, organize info sharing either in person or over intranet, and post an experienced staff cyclist as part time liaison. Hold lunchtime rides for beginners in parking lot.
4. Arrange for changing rooms, lockers, laundry facilities, showers and vending machines: Probably won’t become a profit center, since you’ll have to hire a someone to oversee, police, repair, and restock machines with sample sized detergent, deodorant, shampoo, and shower gel. Might break even if appropriately scaled. Manufacturing facilities often already have a janitorial staff and showers for treating those upon whom chemicals have spilled.
5. Buy a fleet of bikes to share: You could start your own VeLib that does generate revenue by charging a small fee to the many employees who’d ride a couple times a week. You could have a repairman, sag wagon, and stock of parts and tools. Unless thousands get involved, this is more likely to lose money or require subsidies. However, commonality among bikes would control costs. Like any fleet, bikes can be insured against damage or loss.

As a practical matter, bike sharing only gets capable people reacquainted with pedaling. Real cyclists rather use own equipment tailored to suit them personally without hygiene worries. A fleet would have to be regularly cleaned and maintained. Advise a limited 2-year startup that gets scaled upon response. People who want to cyclo-commute will generally buy own $300 hybrid, then graduate to a $1500 roadie. Diehards invest in $5000 speedsters. Accordingly, buy several hybrids with gel saddles, metal baskets or plastic panniers plus some 1-speeds with rugged helmets for novices to borrow and train. Extra wheelsets, even those no longer serviceable, can be used to explain flat repairs. Tire levers are something that local bike shops might be interested in donating as advertising. Count yourself lucky if management cares enough to offer any of the above, because, apart from Apple and a few forward thinking companies, most don't. Some days, though, you're grateful to survive terrorists nearby because your nose was to the grindstone.

Monday, March 18, 2013

If Leaks Pertain

Ah, Spring, only days away. Anticipating longer rides and trading back up to better road bike from snow beater. Finally fixed flats recently mentioned. Don't mind divulging that reinstalling rubber is a satisfying pastime best done at home or shop rather than in field. New tires and tubes smell curiously acrid and tactilely please, whereas old are musty and worn smooth. The more care you take, the more confidence you have you'll not have to bother again soon. Although the more often one must the more proficient one gets, prefer each year to repeat just once preseason.

Potential failure modes abound, so diagnosing flats is more than just assuming a puncture. Experienced everything from side wall blowouts to valve failures. It's helpful to have a big bucket of water to locate puncture from bubbles, but indoors you can pump up tire and pass it close to your face, then likely feel air leak. Pay special attention to where puncture occurred, because there you might find glass, metal or wire still embedded, which will cause another flat. If reusing, rub entire tire through your thumbs, because you might discover multiple offenders. It's a jungle out there. Always remember, as Murphy said, if it can go wrong it probably will.

When rims are bare, it's convenient to assess rim tape, which doesn't last forever but less than several seasons. If frayed or punctured, replace with new. Also swipe all rim surfaces for grit or nicks, which can be smoothed with a bit of emery cloth. Use only the best materials for tape, tire and tube; the small difference in price is well worth it in issues prevented.

Tubes can be squirrelly and willful. Some people advocate inflating tube a bit before installing, since this makes easier to handle. Manufacturers routinely warn against doing so, since it weakens walls when not confined by rim and tire. Put one side of tire on first, and pull bead into center well of rim. Inspect and wipe tubes before installing; they are not necessarily grit free or perfect, and sometimes you run into a porous batch that hardly hold air long enough for you to go flat far from ride finish. Remove valve cap and, if presta, outside knurled nut. Pinch down tire at rim valve hole, slide in tube valve, then work tube around tire making sure it doesn't get twisted anywhere in periphery. Then lever on other tire bead. Avoid pinching tube between rim and tire or rough handling. Tubes must be completely happy tucked into that confined space.

Before inflating, inspect by pinching tire side walls and watching for bits of tube caught underneath tire bead; go entirely around, especially at valve stem. Pressing down on stem, where tube tends to hang up, pushes tube deeper into tire. Screw on presta's knurled nut about half way; it's only there to stabilize pump nozzle, not secure anything. As you inflate a bit at a time, check bead seat all around; let out air if beads don't seat evenly. More of valve stem will show, so you can screw nut down more but never tighten.

Carefully reattach wheels to fork and frame. The quick release nut should only be flush, then pivot lever back to latch tightly. Cyclists debate lever's proper position, say it should face backwards to avoid the unlikely chance that something could snag on it, dump you, or loosen wheel. Prefer to lock it astride fork or frame member, so lever is less affected by carrying bike on a rack.

Now comes the fun part: Go for a short spin to make sure your repairs can be trusted. Wear a helmet.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lock Combination

An odd activity of an overwrought brain is to combine or deconstruct words and redefine meanings. Crack open or flip over anything familiar and you find unappreciated dimensions. To a cyclist pedaling through disrespect demonstrated daily by angry motorists and unforgiving roads, combination might resemble "combine nation", e pluribus unum, or what America is supposed to be, your land of opportunity for all who harbor no ill will. That doesn't routinely happen. Witness anti-immigrant, poverty prejudiced sentiments versus tax breaks for wealthiest. Should offer tax deductions for demonstrable service to community, not just sheltered foundation grants that never reach needy and victims. Cash flow and power control are locked through corporate privileges. Freedoms should belong to those who serve, but limits and thresholds are impossible to regulate. Coming together need not mean sacrificing freedoms, rather sanctifying principles that extend majority survival.

Any survey of bike books recently published must mention 3 that pertain to this topic. English cyclist Dave Barter compiled 30 articles he wrote over 10 years of challenges and events in which he participated into Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder (Phased Publications, 2012, 218 pp.). Granted, all but the initiated must think whoever takes on cycling's repetitive boredom and torment might have some masochistic personality disorder. Then again, most cyclists are not racers, more likely people who can't afford motor vehicles or even to lose bikes to theft, so carry combination locks.

Speaking to that point domestically, Sue Knaup's Defying Poverty with Bicycles (One Street Press, 2012, 205 pp,) is a self help guide that promotes social change through bicycling organizations, mainly providing builds, parts and repairs to the disadvantaged. Knaup wrote it from 4 decades of personal experience in for-profit services and not-for-profit ventures.

Addressing even graver issues internationally, Eric G. Bing and Marc J. Epstein collaborated on Pharmacy on a Bicycle: Innovative Solutions to Global Health and Poverty (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013, 240 pp.). It lays out how to use bicycles to improve medical services to remote villages where dollar doses of vaccines could save millions of lives. Although models exist, mechanisms sell hard where there's no will to implement.

Before her untimely death to breast cancer, Montreal's velorutionary Claire Morissette was able to collect tens of thousands of used bikes and ship them to Africa, no questions asked. Link is mostly in French with some English, just like Montreal. Some serve to unlock hearts.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stuck de-Nemo-in'

If a statistician is someone who focuses on facts of status, that is, how things are, then there should also be a sadistician, someone who perversely tortures others with trivial details, like nonstop weather forecasts. Yet who can deny that a magnificent obsession becomes a living art form, a performance art of monologues available upon demand and slight nudge? The obsessed possess a refined sense of paradoxes and truths about narrow topics, so are dismissed as autistics, savants or trainspotters. Conversely, when you think about it, what's wrong with majority with their limited knowledge of what they are sold and told? Statistics are derived mostly about buying preferences; to know what consumers will buy before they do increases profit.

Constitutional freedoms allow individuals to believe/go/think whatever/whenever/wherever they want. Mobility is a freedom used irresponsibly during a blizzard. Morons hop into 4-wheel SUVs and roam side streets to glare at homeowners shoveling themselves out. It's a deviant live entertainment akin to reality television, and so prevalent it's deemed a conditional misdemeanor since it impedes cities and towns from plowing and sanding. Besides, it's dangerous; every year someone trying to stay warm in a vehicle dies of carbon monoxide poisoning. And who can you call when even rescue squads can't get through?

Nemo rates among New England's 5 worst snow events, but its brutal cold, hurricane gusts, and up to 30 inches of snow don't come close to describing suffering of thousands of households stuck without power. Too many people take electricity and fuel for granted. Being prepared never occurs to them; they trust corporations and institutions to provide everything they need and reprove self-reliance. But only masochists will submit to deprivation for billionaires' sake. Never berate last minute buyers of bread, milk, power generators, snowblowers, or snow tires for mountain bikes, the way to go when you can't drive your car on hard packed snow.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Likely Birdbrain

Should be as intimate with streets as you are with food. Every season they pepper streets with debris, but in Winter alone they salt. After a thin film of snow evaporates, notice how white they remain dry, almost frosted. Not at all wholesome, this saline mix kills vegetation, saps surrounding life, and spreads pollutants downstream. Why abide this tasteless culture of destruction?

Googled phrase, Bicycling Culture. Did find, as follows, several interesting sites hitherto unnoticed, but didn't find Bike&Chain among first 200 or so references, even though it's been devoted to bicycling culture since before turn of millennium, the occasion which it commemorates. Nobody should deem it scholarly to dredge up ephemeral internet links, but can't the same now be said about books and periodicals? Booksellers, newspapers and publishers are either going bankrupt or merging miserably, although some say society has entered a golden age of written word. Media did build to a crescendo of credibility, but all that's already past or at risk. A longer perspective realizes newspapers evolved from gossip and were once nothing more than disreputable entertainment. Television has taken over despite bogus reality programming. Funny this pendulum swing, tick, tock, whence it came, especially since more people can read than ever. You must provide something life altering and worthy of their time, otherwise they act more like birds pecking at crumbs and roosting in huge flocks on electric wires with no leaves to hide behind come February.

When not drooling over bike porn, Bike-In-Review also does book reviews, recently Amy Walker's On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life. Sounds like a great read if someone lends a copy. Listing seems a weak approach that smacks of internet sifting, but never so judgmental as Top 50 or 100 based on sales and uninformed popularity. Still, with endless differences between bicycling and motoring as choices of motility, be suspicious of any effort that stops at only 50.

On Affinities Journal, Chris Carlson's seminal "'Outlaw' Bicycling" homed in on car counterculture in a post-petroleum Portland, OR. With a half decade since gone by, efforts may have been premature. Bear witness to a growing awareness that cyclists do belong in traffic, though motorists don't quite get the fact that cyclists aren't subject as they to laws, which are mostly designed not to enforce safe practices but to pick their pockets. Little wonder motorists resent birds, free grazers, riders, whoever gets in their way. Kinship among cyclists, other than small cliques, is more a myth; advocates argue among themselves, and group rides become either beer or hammer sessions. No bicycling demographic exists, rather a rainbow spectrum from conservative racers on space age materials to poor indigents on beater steel from decades past. "At times a traveling party" is overstated, but "reputation as unhip" is not, despite linkage of hipsters with self-built fixies.

Laying bare bicycling's loser image, Bicycle In Popular Culture Blogspot tracks myriad odd references from pop culture, which range from books to commercials to films. Recent films include Bicycle Movies and Reveal the Path among others Bike&Chain has already either mentioned or reviewed. Should have noticed Verizon's Big Romantic Gesture commercial, in which a lothario uses a bike and GPS to draw a map in a heart shaped loop of San Francisco to send by cell phone.

During a Columbus, OH gathering, Jessie Matthews does her allotted 20 minutes on 20 slides about women in cycling with great observations on their lack of current participation in America but not history or world. Unlike top-down TED talks, anyone can speak at bottom-up Pecha Kucha nights, but aren't arbitrary time limits for those without much to speak of? Food for thought.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Drank Henbane

Ignorant masses gladly sacrifice whoever doesn't accept their yoke of duty. Heard of Socrates? Yet they don't really want to do anything, either. Ever notice how idiots expect a livelihood? It's unreal. Surviving may be a human right, but it's still hard earned. Giving up getting and spending could be a form of suicide akin to drinking a henbane cocktail. Humans are supposed to be smart enough to employ themselves in profitable enterprises of their own design.

Are endocrine disruptors responsible for a shortfall of healthy and intelligent individuals? Cyclists are positively hypochondriacal about toxins that might detract from performance; they choose BPA-free water bottles based on rumors. Scientists observe, "If you don't have BPA in your body, you're not living in the modern world." No evidence yet links Biphenol A with abnormal physiology except a concern for male fetuses, who might later develop prostate problems. Pedaling makes cyclists too healthy and horny to ignore reproductive issues, such as erectile dysfunction falsely attributed to ill fitting saddles and rightly a consequence of aging and rampant diabetes.

Never mind water bottles, suspect foods. Delmonte "Bursting with Life" ad cans cyclists along with green beans but neglects to mention Biphenol A. Clean your plate then take a spin. Consumer Reports wrote, "Canned Del Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans Blue Lake had BPA levels ranging from 35.9 ppb to 191 ppb, the highest amount for a single sample in our test." Little wonder why they tie consumption with robust lifestyles; deflects criticism.

If you stick to baked or boiled grains, fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables, well washed with a vinegar/water rinse, and pass up fatty meats, fried foods, pastry, and stuff on recall lists, you might live into your 80's. Unfortunately, you'll spend most your extra time hunting down wholesome and won't have time to perform tasks demanded by others.

Probably the most unhealthy lifestyle is driving a motor vehicle every day in polluted traffic to a sedentary occupation, loading hourly on caloric snacks, returning home through worse traffic, then watching television. Couldn't you include some aerobic exercise in that routine? Bike commutes on back roads nicely suffice. Yet these days you can't escape juggling coupons, mitigating taxes, wheeling deals, working daily, and worrying, which might actually be more stressful and ultimately worse than synthetic toxins themselves. Buying loyalty for 10 cents off a gallon on your next thirsty tankful of gasoline seems less inducement than insult.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Below Deign

Who's delusional? Most people believe in angels guiding actions, demons stealing salvation, and such unproven otherworldly nonsense when all evil done by men can be blamed directly upon their own fears, hormones and ignorance. Despite awareness of these needless reactions, ill will nevertheless persists. Those who don't get it radicalize those who once did. Individuals alone generally don't know much, and when they do they're dismissed as weirdos, hunted down as heretics, or otherwise ostracized. Even a work as scholarly as Bike&Chain has been falsely attributed to crack habit, like so many songs by recent artists who expressed emotions exacerbated by downers, psychedelics, and uppers, as if those sensations were not authentic human experiences. A book slowly written over decades does appear randomly compressed presented all at once, as would crap through a compactor. When you look inside your own mind, one outcome of monotonously pedaling, you might find an undiscovered universe. Most people don't want to hear about it, prefer you keep it to yourself, and rather spend time being entertained or stashing cash. Amusement and survival do seem intertwined at certain stages of life.

History's revered authors all created worlds unto themselves then found hooks to involve readers in their fantasies; how is this not complete manipulation? These include all the prophets upon whom religions were based, although they left writing to followers. They assuredly provided an ethical foundation upon which to build civilization, when it never occurred to majority that caring and sharing are simply more practical, although less efficient, than pillaging and raping. Yet religion remains the foremost excuse for carrying evil forward, forcing bizarre opinions upon others, and getting ahead at their expense. Preaching propaganda beats abiding blisters while digging ditches. Books almost write themselves, but motivations remain recondite. Desire for admiration or love, need to feed ego, urge to exert control over chaos seem just as compelling as your search for an elusive revenue stream, the only impulse that most people consider honorable. Writing to feed your kids rates higher in social acceptability than doing nothing, maintaining virginity, and pursuing zero population growth, which is how monks and nuns conduct their entire puzzling lives. Even though evangelists didn't work for pay, these days if you deign to write for any other reason it's deemed as beneath your dignity and viewed suspiciously.

Wonder whether that's why artists are so wretched. They perform actions, produce objects, or realize installations directly from ideas arising from their inner universe, something utterly spiritual, yet seldom garner credit. Mostly they toil alone struggling to be unique then wind up dead from overdoses and suicides before fame finds them. Bikes, frames and wheels have sometimes been used as raw material, or cycling itself inspires. Easier to catalog songs than write paragraphs on other art forms, yet you can't purport to survey culture unless you cover all genres.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

PES Chilblain

In wake of Oprah's interrogation of Lance, gums are flapping over insignificance of professional cycling. Tour de France doesn't match NASCAR or NFL, although it does equally share characteristics of both. Car racing is sponsored by manufacturers as a way to test new technologies under grueling conditions. Long bike races have lightened bikes with advanced geometries and materials, which likewise expanded choices and sales. NFL is allegedly promoting fitness, where rampant doping spills into every other sport. Maybe a better analogy would be runway models, who strut latest fashions costing thousands, which filter down to what everyone eventually wears off racks. Comedians joke about baseball home run leaders having only 11 midseason, when that was a typical weekend for steroid shooter Sammy. But do you have to bear indignation of sports writers who condemn Performance Enhancing Substances from contemporary medicine? Good diet helps, too, so why isn't food banned? Athletes today wear technical materials that keep body and extremities dry and warm; in original Olympics, they wrestled naked. Abusing substances is so much a typical behavior that you wouldn't recognize life without it. Beloved Hall of Fame honoree "The Mick" was an admitted drunkard off and on field. Perhaps fans pay to see the pumped and stoned soaring and stumbling.

After cyclists endure bonking exhaustion, pavement rash, pes chilblains (painful bumps on a frozen foot), saddle sores, and suffering for spectacle's sake in contests contrived to challenge and threaten, public seems to prefer the psychological tortures of witch hunts. Little wonder why identified dopers deny it. Who'd obediently relinquish titles hard fought over an equally doped field? Such are the consequences of cycling. You will never win at anything without undergoing a microscopic examination of your character, finances, or health. Consider yourself fortunate if this inquisition against you is so limited. Pleading ignorance can be a useful dodge. Peddling lies is what leaders do. Signing no contracts might get you cut, but, then again, who cares when you don't officially win? Only you. You can go forth faster than a famous Texan when nobody notices.

The same holds true with self published literature. With a publisher's imprimatur, contents are supposedly vetted, and readers assured of accuracy and honesty, neither of which are usually true, conversely sanctioned opinions serving agendas. Unpublished books can be full of real angst and unrequited longing worthy of your time. These days "independently produced" often becomes a prerequisite for attention by discriminating audiences. You'd think obtuse obscurity would be a turnoff, yet masses seem content with navigating cell phone plans designed to extract ever more fees from nuance and splinters that ought to be rolled into overall monthly charge.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sick Suzerain

Rethink, recycle, reuse, reinvest in what's sustainable. Eventually, you scrub not only the dirt away but surface, too, and what's beneath. Nothing lasts forever. Been seeking Zero Carbon Footprint for a decade: darned difficult and negligibly effective. Must target enormous populations and processes to influence global issues. Yet must quit relationships with things once they outlived their purpose, too. A car is not a pal, pet, or protege carrying on your legacy. Cars are comfortable, masculine, but temporary vehicles struggling through liquid air and solid traffic, period. Cars are too complex to last; simple methods persist. Alternatives already exist that don't burn petroleum, but comedians are already ridiculing electric plug-ins as effeminate.

Biggest budget busters are fuel, insurances, taxes and transportation. To afford, Americans collectively fritter away enormous effort, resources, and time: 300 billion work hours plus 50 billion driven hours. Maintaining roads costs upward of $100 billion every year and increasingly marginalize cyclists. Protecting nation against enemies created by evil corporations or foreign jealousies costs $900 billion/year. Smoking is a net loss (after profits) of $150 billion a year. Thousands, both traffickers and users, die annually because narcotics are illegal. Cardiovascular diseases from overeating and using lazy ways, both mere choices, kill more people than anything else. After cancer, the third biggest killer is car accidents. More have died in collisions in the last century than in wars. Motoring is war on multiple fronts with enough collateral damage to infect society with insanity.

Earth is so vast that human vermin teeming along ocean shores seem an insignificant irritation easily neutralized by hurricanes and tsunamis. Yet they're reporting Greenland's permafrost melting this winter and record high temperatures down under this summer. Is there another reason? Ozone depletion? Sun irregularity? You might drill down to root causes, but what do you ever make of evidence? Bike&Chain instead skips self serving conclusions and sticks with is-ness. Freedoms do increase proportionally with responsibilities assumed. But you don't need some fussy suzerain ruling from afar or sick writer waxing moralistic who knows nothing of your customs or desires telling you what to do. Embracing technological convenience will always cost more; just makes sense. But "more" could mean mammals become extinct. Inevitably, insects and simple microbes will inherit earth, but sooner if mankind lets them.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Frozen Migraine

You only get one chance to make a good impression. Oops! Too late! What if you just don't care? When you're not selling anything, not trying to attract admirers, you can express whatever you want, even lay down a zero lie zone where bullshit is intolerable. But clearly nobody but a forensic investigator cares about truth; unless easy profit or satisfied hormones are unequivocally dangled, forget about holding anyone's attention. Anyway, as soon as you chronicle current events, deviate from fiction, or name real names, you suddenly find yourself amidst denial and prevarication. Everyone runs away from authenticity, won't even admit to the guilty pleasure of puzzling over paradoxes.

Books on bikes aren't needed. Pedaling itself is too dull to recount, as is an intractable issue with a soft rear tire. Anyway, after last snowstorm which left and inch of ice across streets have weeks to mount winter wheelset before next round of rides.

Bookblog was intended as a rambling nonfiction compendium that rejected typical fiction and nonfiction narrative, and so shares something in common with the Whole Earth Catalog rather than your usual encyclopedia. It defied every bit of advice from Aristotle to present on how books ought to go together. There is no rule that mandates one form over another except salability; never imagined it could be sold, so made it open source. Landmark historic works of science that changed all lives on earth were more like lab notes than novels. What you focus on is what first presents itself, but what dreams motivate existence? The urge to collect every related item is so 18th Century, but you can never derive facts without considering exceptions. Truths occur to writers in intuitive flashes and never so often as when bored by bicycling. Some say you can’t be effective unless you are guided by principles, but you can easily waste a lifetime pursuing wrong principles, like Ahab chasing a certain white whale or Titanic barring blacks and racing whites across Atlantic irresponsibly in a vain attempt to be best. Begrudging, burning vengeance is not necessarily a good principle to follow, but what of a sincere desire to imagine something new?

Nobody wants to do same thing all the time. Specialization is important to efficiency, but only well rounded individuals live well. Human flexibility works better than inhumane rigidity. Principles are points of departure. Those who understand how things are supposed to work are better off than those who know nothing or only know rules. How and why are still important. Dyed-in-the-wool and iron-clad are stuck in past without options. Integrity might as well be shorthand for value-based decision making mired in corrupt practices that don’t include majority. Reactionaries usually demand integrity, by which they mean loyalty or prejudice. Complex personalities frighten. One dimensional people are easier to exploit. What do you do with someone unique? Leave them alone? Unique can serve as a defense mechanism as long as no threat is perceived. Keeping it apolitical, crazy, light and personal makes writing easy to dismiss. This is anything but, and so crawls within, takes up residence, and wears out its welcome.

The principle, the proper study of mankind is man, leads to studying behaviors first hand. Sex? Big motivator? Some believe it equally demotivates, especially when it doesn't seem forthcoming. Coy teases surpass carnal knowledge, but both will get you fired. Reality often disappoints. Promises are what they package instead of fulfillment. Among most people abstract ideals somehow exceed physical sensations. Yet whence ideals? Hopes are exploitable. Those you get to know closely will infect to you. Illness is bad business, but not completely without merit. You will certainly appreciate relatively good health all the more after being sick. You abide physicality and sports because you can; whenever you can’t, life seems ghastly and unsatisfying.

Dark are these dreams of late, but will nevertheless stay the course. Winter’s grip on icy streets and long nights will slowly relent. Done are days with entire commute in darkness. Every day is 1 minute longer, so as weeks pass commutes will again be fully sunlit. Neither is the darkest hour just before dawn; it’s darkest around midnight on a moonless night, and sky brightens considerably before sunrise. Dawn and dusk are good times to ride as long as ice and snow don’t impede and traffic doesn’t impose.