Tuesday, November 30, 2010

U-lock carrying: Well Hello, MOLLE!

Waist pack Modular Deployment Bag w/ U-lock

I prefer to carry my U-lock, and everything else that needs to be carried on a bicycle for that matter, on my rear rack. A backpack just gets too sweaty and uncomfortable, and anyway, once you try a rack, you'll never want to carry stuff on your person again. 

But, let's say that you have one bike with a rack, and then other bikes without racks, bikes that will probably never get racks, and you still need to carry a U-lock. OK, use the mounting bracket that came with the lock on one of the bikes. Assuming it doesn't break, which they all seem to do sooner than the locks themselves, which is twisted, you still have other bikes without racks or U-lock mounts on them. Also, I don't feel like buying more U-locks since I only need one at a time.

In addition, let's say that either that you like waist packs (like me), or would at least be willing to try them. I realize many people have tried them, and dislike them, so this approach would not be for them.  Or, for whatever reason, you don't like racks or brackets, and just want to carry the U-lock on your person, because that's how you roll. Then this may work.

I picked up this waist pack, which is a modular deployment bag in military surplus-speak, for less than $20. I was attracted to it because it appeared to be well-built, is just a little larger than the waist pack I currently use, and because it looked like it had multiple places for mounting a blinky light firmly, which is one of my pet peeves with my current pack, and for that matter, every other bicycle-related carrying bag or pack I own: many of them have what appears to be a place to clip or mount a blinky light, but which in practice ends up pointing it down toward the pavement, or up into the air. But this pack looked different.

Like most current military bags used to carry stuff, this one includes the PALS webbing from the MOLLE system. "MOLLE" stands for MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, and PALS stands for Pouch Attachment Ladder System. The PALS webbing works by weaving strips of webbing between the ladders on two things you want to hook together. When woven tightly, it's super-strong. I have a non-military backpack with shoulder straps hooked to the main bag with a woven webbing ladder, and you would think they were sewn on. When I saw this waist pack, I figured that it would be nice to be able to hook stuff onto it.

Anyway, I was just staring at the webbing, wondering what those PALS might be good for, and thought, hey, wait a minute! I grabbed a U-lock, and voila, those outside webbing loops are just the right width for a U-lock. It fits snugly. It's not totally clear in the photo, but the webbing is sewn down in sections (the ladder), so that the U-lock shackle just slides through, but not side to side. For additional securing (not that it needs any), it's possible to snap the carrying handle straps over the lock. Personally I would just leave them routed under the lock, which is where they were in the first place, but I wanted to show the super-secured configuration, too. The last thought is, a mini U-lock might work just a bit better, and is really all I need anyway.

There's PALS webbing on the backside of this modular deployment bag, too, which could be used to weave it onto a larger bag, or to bungie it to a rear rack, once you got tired of carrying a U-lock around on a waist pack. There's even webbing on the side, er, energy bar pouches, which could also mount side-facing blinkies, if I wanted. But, heck, I would just be happy if the main blinky points backwards, and in a fairly effective direction. It looks like there's a spot for that on the ladder. I'll let you know. Get up. Go ride.

That's one securely mounted U-lock

Monday, November 29, 2010

Twenty Doesn't Feel Like Zero

Gusty headwind making waves on the Arizona Canal

If you ride ten miles into a 20 mph headwind, then turn around and ride back the other way, does the advantage gained on the way back cancel out the extra effort going out? Going west into the wind was a work out. I almost just gave up and turned around a couple of times. But I set my goal on the usual end point, put my head down, and rode on.

Rusty steel symbols for gusty winds (AZ Canal and Central Ave, Phoenix)
a.k.a. rusty steel canal bridge decorations by Barbara Grygutis

In terms of effort expended, I don't think we can say twenty is zero just because of the wind, since I didn't feel full of energy and ready to turn around and do it again. In fact, just the opposite. But, I can also say that riding with the wind at your back allows you to practice spinning your feet around pretty fast when you feel like it, and that it's much easier on the knees than riding into the wind. Not cold enough on Sunday to require the Ninja Sniper gloves yet. Probably will be on Monday, though. Get up. Go ride. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ninja Sniper Gloves

They looked good for cycling, so I got them

Ninja sniper gloves. They're black, they convert from gloves to mittens by unhooking and flipping over the mitten-top, they have windstopper fleece, they have handy loops to hook your fingers through to remove them, and cords to tighten around the base. I do need gloves once in a while for winter commutes in Phoenix, and these looked like they would work. And when I searched for "ninja sniper gloves" no hits were returned, so I felt compelled to go with that title. Even though I am not claiming to possess any of the characteristics of either a ninja or a sniper while riding my bicycle to/from work. Except for toasty fingers. Oh, and the ability to balance for hours on end on thin pieces of rubber approximately 23mm wide while moving silently at high speed in almost any weather, day or night. Under my own power. For long distances. Get up. Go ride.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

We Stop for School Buses

Full stop required, track stand is optional

There's no question in my mind that cyclists should come to a complete stop in this situation, until the bus driver pulls in the placards, and indicates it's safe to proceed. These three all agreed. And threw in a little track stand demonstration. Check rider #2's position between the first and second pictures. Like a rock. 

She crossed, and said something about getting an artful shot.
No mam', I'm just inspired by civility and law-abiding cylists.
And stopping without putting your feet down.

And we're off

It's great when everyone just knows what to do, and it all works smoothly. There were no problems, no dangers, no surprises, no raised voices, no gestures of anger. No follow-up blog posts cursing particular machines or their operators. Just another moment of harmonious sharing of the streets. Get up. Go ride.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving, Arizona

Mid-60s, shorts, a light shirt, a warm breeze and an open path for contemplating my gratitude inventory

This American holiday has always been family time for us. So, we took a short ride to get some last-minute grocery items. A small thing, normal, quiet, unexciting. I'm infinitely thankful for it, though. Got to go. My wife has a spoon with fresh-whipped mash potatoes on it, and the kids are running toward the kitchen to get there first. Thanks, life, for this. Get up. Go ride.

We cross

Family bikes

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Something Beautiful

Something of the air tonight: stillness, early dusk quiet, cold and warm, freshness of about-to-rain. Woodsmoke. 

It's just a commute on a bicycle. I tell myself that. And yet. I get into my rhythm, hit the right cadence, find a perfect rapid circle to spin, and that mere ride home can feel like something beautiful. Ten minutes in and I feel like going faster. Fifteen and faster. But I don't shift gears, the smooth spinning and the sounds of the chain, the cogs, the chainring, it all sounds like music, and I am into it exactly as it is. I want to take a photo of something beautiful to post along with text describing this being-in-the-moment. One speed: go.

It's just a commute on a bicycle. I remind myself. Yet, the words are sounding in my head like some mantra being enunciated by a cross between Sir Laurence Olivier and Ozzie Osborn: FIND SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL, it is saying to me. I'm spinning and I can't hear anything else. It's getting dark. I'm into it exactly as it is. FIND SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL.

I scan the g00g1e map in my brain: what is beautiful around here that I haven't taken photos of yet? That mountain over there? Take a right, push hard, make it to the turnaround up top for a sunset shot before the dying of the light? Good idea, good idea, but not enough time. FIND SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL. The park. The clouds. That family skating together. The older woman on the bike waving at me. The guy behind her who also waved. What. Take a photo.

You zoned out spinning freak evaporating to happy nirvana nothing dust inside your head, FIND SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL. Look around. Listen. It's just a commute.

I hit a stretch of street with no cars around. Grabbed my brakes. Breathe. Breathe. Listen to the close world around you. Close eyes. Open eyes. What do you see? A cactus you ride past every day. Snap. A rock with a car blurring by in the dying light. Snap. FOUND SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL. Now can we complete this commute on a bicycle in peace?

Yes. Now just spin. A few miles till home might zero or a hundred. Just go. Just ride. I'm into it exactly as it is. It's all around.

Found it. Get up. Go ride


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Push Button Horse Crossing for Chill Beasts

Neigh, neigh, winny, snort, neigh (push button and wait for walk signal)

That button mounted high up on the pole is for people on horseback who wish to activate the signal to cross Scottsdale Road. Or, kids up on dad's shoulders getting horseyback rides. I'm not sure that it's a requirement to have a rider--a smart horse, or a pack horse accustomed to walking the same trail every day, could probably nudge it with his muzzle, or pole.  Perhaps one carrying organic produce from local sustainable city gardens to supply the Food Court at the mall. Neigh.

Tall people could also press it. Or bicyclists. OTOH a bicyclist signal would be in between those two in height, I think. If your corner crosswalk button count reaches three (3), you may want to consider crosswalk button anti-proliferation treaties, and go with a PED VIVDS, satellite based crosswalk detection. Drones. Blimps. Crossing guards. Neigh.

It's just about the right height for a magic carpet pilot. There used to be a store just down the street from here rumored to sell those.

It's a busy intersection, lots of traffic, a mall right across the street, lots of pedestrians. I guess it would take a particularly calm, well-mannered animal to cross here with the signal. That would have to be one chill beast. That's not a phrase I get to use often. But think about it: all that power, the quivering muscle, the pent-up speed, waiting for the walk signal. Neigh. Winny. Scuff of hoof on brick.

Not only chill, but optimistic. By any stretch, this would be near the end of a horse's mosey down the Sun Circle Trail. The next crossing is the Goldwater Tunnel, and it's closed again for some reason. Unless they are Sun Circling early on a Sunday morning, which is a pleasant time to mosey through these parts, it's all mid-street, non-marked, traffic-heavy crossings to the west of here for several miles. Neigh. Neigh.

I always dismount my bicycle when I meet a horse. Always. What an odd gesture that would be if the encounter happened on this corner, though, with traffic roaring by. What confusion amongst the automobile drivers. What a disconcerting glimpse of the world 50 years from now when the last drops of oil dribble down the pipeline from Athabasca.

There are mounted police in Scottsdale. Perhaps I will see a pair of them crossing here one day. Since the first time I saw a mounted policeman in New York, I've had a sense of awe and respect for them. Which is supposed to be, I guess. I always dismount for them, too. Neigh.

I'm sure the politics behind installing a horse crossing at Scottsdale Road and Camelback was labyrinthine, complex, and lengthy. Still, I wish to focus on the net result: horses also welcome here. Chill beasts crossing. Neigh. Winny. Scuff of hoof on brick.

Get up. Go ride.

Neigh? Winny? Snort? WTF?


Monday, November 22, 2010

Chugging from the Fountain of Bicycle Knowledge

How do I work this thing?

I have purchased various bicycle repair manuals over time in an effort to improve my skills and efficiency when it comes to working on my bikes. Stuff on bicycles works best a certain way, often that certain way is not obvious, and for me figuring out that way and adding that knowledge to my mental tool bag is a kick. From a summary perspective, to gain high-level techniques and some orientation to the world of bicycle wrenching, I rank "The Bicycling Guide to Complete Maintenance and Repair" at number 2, and the Park Tool "Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair 2nd Edition" at number 1. I think both of these are good at what they are meant for.

Yet, they leave me wanting more. What they have in completeness they lack in detail. What they have in broad appeal they lack in more complex techniques and explanations. I want more information!

While messing around with the rear derailleur on Yasuko to try to smooth out some of the shifts, I realized what a total rube I am about derailleurs. How do they really work? They look relatively simple, until I started to ponder the motions of a dual-pivoting dual-geared parallelogram that interacts with the physical monstrosity that is a bicycle chain, and my head started swimming. I wanted more information.

This search lead me to "Barnett's Manual DX (7th Edition)" from the Barnett Bicycle Institute. Let me say at the outset, this is not an inexpensive reference, mainly targeted at professionals and people who have completed the various courses and certifications offered by the Institute. I had heard of it before, but thought it would be too detailed (and expensive) for my home wrenching purposes. Then came my derailleur curiosity, which changed that view.

Exploring the page linked in the previous paragraph, I discovered a sample chapter on derailleurs. I downloaded it and started reading. It is, in short, the clearest written, most comprehensive, best organized, more accurate, and most helpful text related to bicycle mechanical function that I have ever read. That chapter alone will cause me to buy that manual. While it is electronic in PDF format with a rather clunky graphical design (usually three strikes in my book), the contents flowed into my brain like sweet waters from the fountain of bicycle knowledge. 

The actual manual is cross referenced and links out to other helpful information not included in the sample chapters, so I wasn't even able to experience it in all its informative glory. But if you are curious about the details of bicycle mechanical functioning and sometimes find yourself scratching your head when intuition and summary books fail, this is probably the solution. Not that burning an entire weekend afternoon twisting the various adjustments and tensions on a rear derailleur without a good result isn't fun. It's just that life is too short for too much fun like that. And now Yasuko's derailleur does what it should. Get up. Go read.

Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation or free stuff for writing this. I don't even own the Barnett's Manual DX 7th Edition yet. I based this on the sample chapter provided free on the web site linked above. Any friends or loved ones reading this review may take it as a hint of what would make me very happy for Xmas, in addition to the White Industries ENO 16t freewheel already on the list.      

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bar Endian Notation: Time for a Change

Old setup: straight bar, Oury grips, bar ends, Gumby illustrating precariousness

Way back when it was still crazy hot in Phoenix, I wrote about looking for relief for sore wrists that felt worse riding on my commuter bicycle, and ended up trying some bar ends wrapped in bar tape. They helped. The alternate hand positions did give some relief. But, there were still issues. Foremost, while those bar ends stayed put 400 times that I pulled or pushed on them, one time when I needed some extra power to get across a street with more speed than I initially thought I would need, one of them pivoted on me, and I could never trust them again after that. Also, I never really liked the way that adjustable stem looked, although I guess it worked OK. The grips were kind forced into this service and weren't exactly glued in the right place to begin with. Finally, the bar ends really only offered a small added range of hand positions. 

Several knowledgeable responders pointed me toward alternative handlebars. Recently, I again had to power across a street when an oncoming car showed up that I hadn't seen, and again I pulled up on the bar end. It held, that time, but I was really anticipating that it would pivot up again and send me sprawling in front of traffic, and that feeling pushed me to a decision: time to listen to those suggestions and try some new bars.

New setup: trekking bars, new stem from the swap meet, more room for lights and accessories

I took the bike for a spin after installing them and doing the initial adjustments, and so far I like them a lot. I had some misgivings about how the brakes and shifters would feel, not even sure where to put them on these things, but I found that riding in the dark my hands knew right where to go. The front hand positions put me in a little more aero position than the bar ends ever could, and the side positions, in conjunction with that beefy stem, gave a great feeling of security when I pulled up on them or stood on the pedals. I'll let you know how they work after commuting for a few weeks. My thanks to cycler, Steve, Emma J, Big Oak, Rat Trap Press, and Bluescat for your good suggestions to ways to ease wrist pain--I do pay attention when smart people give me good ideas, sometimes it just takes a while for them to bounce around inside my ahead and come back out as action. My wrists will thank you, and Gumby just looks more confident standing up there on bars that don't pivot out of position under normal use. Get up. Go ride.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Man That's a Lot of Stuff

Man That's a Lot of Stuff

Man that's a lot of stuff.

Friday, November 19, 2010

For a Good Cause, Near the Happy Path

He dressed up to direct traffic for the 2010 Phoenix Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure

1500 people walking 60 miles to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research

A tiny pink rubber duck. It would be a violation of federal law to put it into the canal.

I had no idea. I was just riding along a quiet canal, when suddenly I was engulfed by a thousand people wearing pink, some dressed up with fairy wings and whatnot, one man wearing a large bra with polka-dots. A guy on a purple bike taking pictures caused several of them to ham it up a bit. Seemed like some good photos for a Friday. WEEKEND. Yeay. Need one. Get up. Go ride.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Milagro on 31st Ave

The Milagro Pole

Another pole in the series (not so milagroso though) (how poignant if this is leftover from the streetcar era)

In the previous post, I rode down 31st Ave from the Phoenix Water Treatment plant up by the Arizona Canal. The changes and transitions I passed through from the plant down to Camelback Road are too numerous to summarize thoroughly in one post. Just before I arrived at the Little Canyon Path, though, I noticed that odd looking pole at the top of this post. Had to be art. No idea at the time what it was though: "official" art project? Neighborhood project? Those darned kids at it again? I didn't see a sign or plaque, so I snapped a couple of pics and continued on down the street to my primary destination.

Once I got back home, I found out with my "I feel lucky" search precision, first search, first result,  that my guesses about the pole were all correct! It's actually part of something called the "Cordova Gardens Median Enhancement Project," which was spearheaded by artists Michael Dollin and Trude Parkinson, who worked with people from the neighborhood, as well as kids from Cordova Elementary School, from 1991-98 I think. Trude has a pdf on her site which describes the project in detail. (Trude's listed accomplishments include a documentary on the project, although it doesn't seem that is available online. It would be interesting to watch, I imagine).

I believe the median is actually the paved-over canal lateral (ditch, basically) that eventually becomes Little Canyon, so there is a direct connection here. If only there was some way for the ancient Hohokam powers that sizzle up and down this old drainage channel to pull some of this art-city-neighborhood creative cooperation coalition juice back upstream to that butt-ugly youth-despiriting wall across from the school on W. Dunlap Ave. It's a Water Treatment Plant! Hang some planters on that wall and grow extravagant imagination-firing constellations of flowers! Gabion! Rust! Globemallows! Yuccas and aloes! Do it! Take a look at the Scottsdale Chaparral Water Treatment Plant (very near a high school, by the way) and hang your heads in temporary but very undoable shame, Phoenix Water Treatment Plant designers/builders! 

I probably need to get back there to 31st Ave. and take some pics of the rest of the median. Like I said, I didn't really realize what I was looking at when I was there the first time. "Milagro" is Spanish for "miracle," and according to the document I linked above on Trude's site, the metal doodads stuck onto the Milagro Pole are reminiscent of the small, metal healing charms from Mexico called "milagros". 

To me, the glittery hunks of metal are reminiscent of The Borg ship from Star Trek. I suppose the interpretation of art has a lot to do with the predilections of the beholder. Some people probably see a bicycle up there. Get up. Go ride.

Evidence of a Borg Presence on Earth

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Superman Never Made Any Money

Little Canyon is Grand

Back in 1993, my wife and I used to carpool to work together. We worked in different, distant parts of the Phoenix metro area, so she would pick me up after driving about 30 miles from her office. I don't think we got cell phones until a few years after this, so our communication relied on landlines, and our carpool coordination relied on predicting how long a delay the freeway traffic between her office and mine would cause. We got pretty good at it, but of course the results were variable and unpredictable. I ended up sitting around waiting quite a while sometimes. Sometimes this resulted in disagreements.

On our way into work in the morning, at least we were able to find a radio station we could agree on: the morning show with Mary McCann "the Bone Mama" and Ted Simons on KZON. They played decent music for drive-time, adult album oriented rock it might have been called. Ted and Mary seemed to lean toward the folk side a bit. I'm listening to "KZON Collectibles Vol.1 from that year right now. It included The Boomers "Art of Living", Cruel Shoes "Where are the Angels", Crash Test Dummies "Superman's Song", Leo Kottke "Pepe Hush", and a bunch of other good stuff. We bought those collectible CDs every year, I think. We own volumes 1 thru 7. I guess we did collect them.

Anyway, one night I waited and waited. I think it was toward the end of summer, and I started to feel that something must have gone wrong with my wife's drive. It happened once in a while, with large backups and even detours, so I wasn't panic red-alert alarmed yet, but when it got dark and she still hadn't arrived, I could see red-alert off in the distance. Just as I was formulating my Plan B (OK it was about the fourth Plan B of the evening), she pulled up. Our vehicle, an SUV, looked pretty jacked up, but I was only worried about her at first, so I jumped in and asked her what had happened.

She was shaking. I could tell that she had been holding it in to make the drive to my office, and that she really needed to let it out. So I held onto her, which opened the floodgates. A car had plowed into her back-end on the freeway when she slammed on the brakes in reaction to the cars stopping in front of her. She stopped in time, but the small car behind her did not. She said the small car was totaled--front end all smashed in, smoke and steam hissing out, fluids dripping onto the asphalt, although the driver seemed OK, saved by a very good air bag, apparently.

After I listened to what had happened, and reassured her that I wasn't mad about someone else smashing into the back of our somewhat new vehicle, we just sat there a few minutes in the parking lot. I think I told her I was actually a little happy, since one of the main reasons I had pushed for a bigger car with a good safety rating was that I knew she would be driving many freeway miles every day, and I wanted her to be safe. This accident that she drove away from, caused by a driver following too close to stop in time (citation issued), seemed to prove my point. Plus, she had stopped in time to avoid running into the car in front of her. That made her feel a little better, but still, I felt that she wasn't quite ready to hit the road again for the drive back to our apartment, so I turned on the radio, still tuned to KZON, just to listen to music for a bit, until she was ready.

Ted was on. Maybe because the evening DJ didn't show up, maybe for some other reason, maybe my memory is faulty. Sometimes they played snippets of the morning show later in the day. As I remember it, though, I turned on the radio, and "Superman's Song" was playing. We sat there listening to Brad Roberts' beautiful, deep voice singing a requiem for a superhero. I'm sure I sang along. At the end, Ted's voice announced that it was by Crash Test Dummies, and we had a good laugh, one that we needed.

Thanks, JRA, but what's that 1993 drive down memory lane with tortured sheet metal got to do with art/bicycles/OSG? Well, backin 2010, Ted Simons has moved on in his career to television and other gigs, including awards show announcer. He's good at it, but still, when I see him, I think back to the KZON days, our commute by car, and sometimes to the night of the Crash (Test Dummies). So, recently, when I was flipping through channels and saw what looked like Ted announcing an awards ceremony for public art, or landscape designs, on the public City of Phoenix cable channel, I stopped to watch. It turned out to be more entertaining that I imagined.

It wasn't actually an awards show. It was, in fact, the mayor and members of the city council viewing highlights of an awards show. Which some of them had attended in the first place. Except, in the interest of time, I guess, all the parts between the award announcements had been edited out, save for one or two short montages to show the art getting the award. So, it was just a string of Ted Simons announcing award winners. It got surreal fast, because a few of the designs won more than one award, but since all the middle parts were cut out, it just sounded like Ted had a weird forgetful streak, since he announced the same design, with just slightly different color commentary, but with exactly equal enthusiasm, and with a little extra speed to try to fit them all into the allotted time, which no longer seemed like an issue with all the fluff cut out. Add in the double-audience factor, since the mayor and city council could be heard reacting to the audience reactions on the original awards ceremony, and it was unintentionally hilarious. To me, anyway. Pepe, hush: don't make so much noise.

One of the double award-winners that caught my attention was a path prettification project called "Little Canyon" (artist: Laurie Lundquist, landscape architect: Sherman Group). Since I was not familiar with the short stretch of people-friendly pavement, I learned something from the show, and resolved to ride over there to have a look.

Transition, connection: bike path, street, path. Come stroll down the Little Canyon

"Families found multiple ways to live off the land..." I love that part.

I was never a big comic book fan, but the altruistic, selfless portrait of Superman in the Crash Test Dummies song always moved me. I was whistling it, singing it, humming it, all the way there. "And sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him." In other words, a man who will resist the call to go join crude, uncultured Tarzan out in the jungle.

The circular monuments repeat in the middle, and at each end

South end, at the end of an bleak cul-de-sac, next to a self-storage facility

I want to have a seat here, and have a talk with Superman, or a cup of coffee with Ted Simons.

This little path is both functional and attractive. I saw several people walking down it, some kids riding bikes, and so on. It seems like a useful link between neighborhoods and Camelback Road. Apparently there was a dedication ceremony last month. Just missed it.

To get here, I road along my beloved Arizona Canal, then headed south at the Water Treatment Plant. I mention the route because it was my first bike ride along Dunlap Ave in front of the Water Treatment Plant, and I have to say: WOW THAT IS ONE UGLY STREET. I mean, monumentally, soul-sucking, heart-wrenching, people-you-are-nothing, the automobile-rules-this-world, abandon-all-hope type of ugly. The plant itself presents a security wall to a broad stretch of pavement which is surrounded by gravel and more cement, across from a steel barrier fence in front of the school. It is grim, gruesome, visually disgusting. Here's a small taste, and this looks like a black and white photo, until you see the red, and realize it actually looks like this.


I wouldn't make a big deal about it, except that this wall, and the monumental visual disaster it abuts, is directly across from Cortez High School. Yes, that's correct, the same principles that ran amok at Metrocenter (please see my post for my criticism of that place) have worked to present this vision to our kids as they enter and leave their place of learning. Have a 360 at this:

View Larger Map

"Superman never made any money
Saving the world from Solomon Grundy
And sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him..."

A young imagination fed a visual diet of W. Dunlap Avenue is starving. It requires a strong dose of the altruism and selflessness of Superman, along with a booster of Little Canyon with a side of locally raised milk and cream, some self-sufficient pecans, some vegetables, canned peaches, plums, and apricots watered with its flowing waters. 

Yikes. I need to take my kids on a picnic, to a green place, with laughter, books, and fresh pecan pie. Get up. Go ride.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Her Eyes Glow Red in the Night

Older daughter and I went out for a ride Sunday afternoon. We came across this bear carved from a palm tree stump. I've seen her before. I explained to my daughter that it seemed to me that someone with a chainsaw saw something in that palm column that no one else did, and felt inspired to bring it into reality. Like Michelangelo with his marble when he carved David, this artist used his saw to cut away the palm wood that did not resemble a grizzly bear with arms raised menacingly, perhaps enraged at the bald eagle that is pooping on his head, while a chipmunk that she has mistaken for her cub cowers between her feet, until this is what remained. 

The eyes do glow read at night. Either with little red light bulbs, or else powered by the enraged soul of a palm mama grizzly. She guards a bike lane, by the way. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. Get up. Go ride.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tucson GABA Bike Swap Fall 2010: Swaponomic Stimulus Package

Frame the frame, truing frame, the cycle of art, the art of cycling

A deal on wheels, plus tires tires tires

Park Tool Stool, inside the coffee van

A large crowd, sharing the common goal of swapping cash for bargain bike hardware

The Sonoran Hot Dog: I Have Seen the Promised Land, and It Tasted Delicious

Bike Basket

I wanted one of these bad in 1999. Good thing he didn't take plastic today. I will lose sleep tonight over this.

Another Bontrager. More sleep loss.

A small portion of today's booty.

Je t'adore toujours dans mon coeur

We drove down to Tucson from Phoenix at O-dark-30 for the fall GABA bike swap. I cycled past the cash machine last night on my ride home from work, and extracted as much cash from the machine as seemed prudent to spend at the swap. I spent every last dollar today. There were too many bargains today to list them all (let alone buy them all), but some of the best included a pair of Serfas Drifter tires (new) for $10 each (now mounted on Bip, ready for canal-o-cross), a Niterider taillight that shares the battery with a headlight I already own and is incredibly bright, an XTR rear derailleur, a Race Face System stem, a new Bontrager Race Lite front road wheel, a new 105 10sp chain, a new set of chain rings, and many other treasures. Some of which seemed to just fall into my hands.

For example, on Friday, I mentioned to someone that I was interested in trying out a helmet mirror for commuting. Poof, a nice helmet mirror showed up at the swap, and is now mine. I mentioned that I was looking for a derailleur, and was handed a cardboard box full of new ones to sort through.

I was also fortunate to meet Big Clyde from The Clydesdale Project blog for a cup of coffee at the Peddler on the Path van (see van photo, above). This marked the first time that either of us had met up with someone in person due to inter-blog communications, and it was very cool. He currently does not bear much resemblance to his profile avatar, at least in my opinion. We chatted about cycling, including his plans to ride in the upcoming Tour de Tucson. Good luck, Clyde, I really would like to ride it with you next year!

Dear 1999 Bontrager with SID fork: you will be in my dreams tonight, bombing down an endless singletrack desert trail, carving turns, and bringing joy. With the weather turning perfect in Arizona, I will head out to the trails soon on your older, less fork-blessed sibling, my own Bontrager, and think of what could have been SID heaven. Perhaps I shall take a packet of cash to the fall swap marked "BONTRAGER ONLY" just in case you are still there...and on the bright side, there were no 58cm Poprads there to make me collapse into a quivering mass of bike lust.

I had an awesome swap. I went with no specific list this time, and feel like I came away with a bunch of useful stuff to maintain or improve my bikes. If any of it turns out to be interesting to install or use (I bought some purple Odyssey Straddle Rods for cantilever brakes, for example), you know where to look in the near future for photos and text. And thank you, Tucson and your bicycle-friendly vibe. Your swaponomic stimulus package will help this blog go to the next level. Or at least the next GABA swap. Get up. Go ride.