Saturday, December 29, 2007

Legislative attempts to require licensing of bicycles

I've emailed Paula Reeves, who was mentioned in the recent PI article on licensing bicycles, to ask which legislators have approached WSDOT to inquire about licensing.

No response yet.

But in the meantime, some casual Googling has turned up this nugget: House Bill 1975, which was introduced in the 2003-4 session, and apparently stalled. It would have required bicycles to be licensed in pretty much the same way as motor vehicles, and it would have limited the funding of state-sponsored bicycle improvement projects to the amount collected in licensing fees, less administrative costs.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Please comment: Should Bicyclists Be Licensed To Ride

Well, this sort of spoiled my holiday.

I'm worried about my blood pressure, so I haven't read the article yet, and God knows, I dread reading the Sound-Offs. But I have been lurking in the sewer that is PI's Sound-Offs for the past six months, trying to digest what the arguments are for anti-cycling policies. So I can pretty much guess what the article is about, and what the Sound-Offs will be.

But apart from the content of the article or the Sound-Offs, what strikes me is that there's a meanness in this world that makes people, when they are distressed, seek out and attack the weakest, rather than the cause of their distress. Our leaders did it when we invaded Iraq, and people in the Puget Sound area, chafing at growing traffic congestion, deteriorating infrastructure, and the taxes required to support it, are doing it when they turn on cyclists.

More after I read the article. But I encourage you all to respond, one way or another.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Fixie..

I think Ted might have me confused with someone else in that introduction, but I do indeed have a Peugeot PX10 fixie. It's actually a mid 80's Super Competition PX10, which has the odd combination of a french headset but standard BB.

I built it as a city bike that I could feel ok leaving locked up places. My mountain bike being far too glitzy and my road bike just feeling too.. well.. racy? I don't know, never been a fan of race bikes anyways, and I suppose the fixie itch had lingered too long without scratching.

I'm French. I grew up there as a kid, and my father was a full blooded, send the wine back it's crap, French man that shaped me despite his passing away when I was young. I remember in France we had a few Peugeots that we rode everywhere, and my father's was I'm fairly certain a white PX10. We actually moved those bikes to the states, but in my rebellious youth of mountain biking I didn't realize what I had and I think we ended up giving them away at a garage sale. Oh the folly of childhood.

Fast forward ten years and I spend a really rather obscene amount of money building this bike up from scratch. It pains me to say that in the end I poured about $600 into it. This was supposed to be the cheap city bike after all, but a few mistakes here and there (I didn't realize the BB was standard and ordered a Phil wood french BB at a pretty penny) and a general resistance towards having anything outright cheap on it made it pricey in the end.

Fixies are something else. At the same time insane and romantic. I remember soberly reading Sheldon Brown's page on the possible injuries that come from having no freewheel, the disasters of catching a shoelace, a pant leg, the loss of fingers while cleaning the chain.. Despite many many years on bikes doing crazy things I still give SuperVelo his proper respect. I still have a front brake, though challenge myself not to use it, I always roll up my pant leg, I stay in control on the hills.

Just before leaving for Costa Rica (where I am now, more on the bikes here in another post) I had the most tragic of accidents. I had ridden downtown to meet my girlfriend at Outdoor Research to gear up for the ski season. We then headed over in her car to Feathered Friends for their yearly fund raiser for the Avalanche Center and decided to just park at REI. Sadly, we both forgot about SuperVelo on the roof.

The damage was swift but non fatal. The bike was mounted standing up backwards so the seat stays took the damage. One took the brunt of it and bent a bit, but the bike still rides fine, I'm not even sure the wheel base is affected. It broke my heart, this bike more than any other was a real love of mine, it was as if my best friend just lost a leg, still my friend but not the same. My perfectionist side will always nag me to find a replacement frame, but I'll hold out for as long as I can.

There's something about vintage frames that is special, especially frames that in their day were some of the best. You can just imagine the lives they've lived, the races won and lost, smiles brought upon their owners. New bikes let you shape them into something new, but old bikes come with a character all their own.

Maybe SuperVelo just has a bit more of that now, a fuller life, a scar to show off to his buddies when he goes to the great bike yard in the sky.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My New Project (and a sobering personal aside)

I am fascinated by internal-geared rear hubs. I have been, ever since I took apart my best friend's brother's 3-speed rear hub when I was 11, and then couldn't put it back together. (Of course, the undersides of cars are very fascinating, too, so I didn't much mind having to dive for cover every time he came around. This was a survival skill in rough, scrapping West Albany.)

One of the things that saps my will to live in the winter is the amount of cleaning and maintenance required of conventional multigear drive trains -- what, with the exposed cassette and shifting mechanism, the coupled derailer and chain tensioner (a.k.a., "derailleur"), &c. And so I'm determined to get myself an internal-gear rear hub and build a bike around it. There are a few varieties, but Shimano makes a couple of 8-speed hubs, with drum and disc brake options.

One concern, however, is the range of gear ratios available. Although 8-speed hubs generally have around around 300% step-up in gear inches, it's still not quite as much as on a conventional multigear bike with a triple crank, and say, 12-26 cassette. And so I'm thinking of pairing the internal hub with a double crankset.

However, this leaves the question of how to take up the slack in the chain when it is on the smaller ring, which is the pretext for this thread I started in

Which brings me to the sobering personal aside. One of the respondents to the thread is Sheldon Brown. If you've searched for bike tech information on the web, you know that Sheldon is the bike mechanic in the U.S. He's tried virtually everything, and has documented it.

Anyway, in his responses, Sheldon mentions that he has multiple sclerosis, and it has progressed to the point that he can no longer ride a two-wheeler. I think that is unspeakably sad. And yet he carries on.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Got One

From Bicycle Northwest:
Evan Schmitt, a former member of Rad Racing NW youth racing program, parked the bike for a season in order to bring us a great film entitled One. The film was shot, produced, and narrated entirely by the sixteen year old over the course of the 2006 season.

The forty-minute video takes the viewer through a season of cycling focused on events in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the highlighted events are the Cascade Classic, Hood River Cycling Classic, Star Crossed Cyclocross, and the USGP of Cyclocross races. Schmitt also captures a few non-competitive events such as Freedom Sports Summer Camp for kids, held on Orcas Island, and some scenic singletrack riding outside of Roslyn, Washington.
(Read more...) .

I saw the trailer, and I was immediatley hooked. I bought the DVD. I'll pass it around when I get it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Welcome Nic Pottier

Please welcome Nic Pottier to our little blog. Nic is primarily a mountain biker -- pretty much a mountain anything. He rock-climbs, he back-country skis. He is also ex-Amazon, and a friggin' genius! And a photographer. And he's very tall.

Nic gave me my first (and so far only) opportunity to work on a Chris King hub, which is a thing of beauty, with special Chris King tools, which are also a thing of beauty. I am so fucking in love with Chris King that I want to marry them and have their baby.

Nic also built a beautiful fixie from a pristine 70's-vintage Peugot frame. (I bid against him for the frame on eBay. He won.) I hope he posts a picture of it. It's that classic Peugot metal-baby-blue that makes this more understandable.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bat For Lashes Bike Video

Just saw this on RockTheBike, reminding me how much I love this video. My favorite things -- bikes and dressing up like furry animals.

Interesting (To Me, At Least) Rear Derailleur Problem

My problem (well, one of my problems) is summarized here. Have any of youse guys run into this? No joy from bikeforums' regular crew of know-it-alls. Next step is to go to Emerald City and ask the Great Oz himself.