Saturday, May 26, 2012

Passo dello Stelvio

With today's crucial Giro stage finishing atop Europe's second highest mountain pass, I thought it appropriate to revisit an old post. The Stelvio. No gears. No brakes. No worries...

The Fat Cyclist just wrapped-up a series of posts on his version of hell, aptly titled Fatty's Inferno. It's funny. You should read it.

In it, Fatty talks about various roads of this cyclists' hell, each one dedicated to a different type of heinous cyclist, such as whiners and eternal attackers. He also has a section just for fixed-gear riders. Here's an extract:
Before me lay a pristine valley. Clean air. Pines and aspen. Tall grass, waving gently in the light breeze. Not a single building in sight. A single road dropped sharply down into this valley, at which point — with no flat to speak of — it immediately climbed steeply back up. The only riding to be had here would be hard climbing and steep descending.
“This is a beautiful place,” I told The Cyclist. “And this is an incredible road. How can you call this a level of hell?”
“No kidding,” agreed The Cyclist. “Actually, I vacation here. It’s one of my favorite places.”
And then I saw something far down at the bottom of the valley that perplexed me, deeply. Thousands — perhaps millions — of bikes laying down (drivetrain side down, of course), littering the valley floor.
Meanwhile, not a single rider was in sight anywhere. “Where is everyone?” I asked. “Why is nobody riding?”
“Take a closer look at the bikes,” replied The Cyclist.And then I got it. Every single one of them was a fixed gear bike, built without brakes, for showing off and for urban riding — and entirely useless in a place like this.
“But where are the riders?” I wondered.
“Oh, they’re here all right,” smiled my guide. “It’s just that I have made them invisible. You see, fixie care much more about being seen than about the ride itself. In the absence of an audience — not to mention coffee shops and thousands of pedestrians and exhaust from a road choked with cars –they quickly lose interest in riding.
I read this and I chuckled. Then I thought to myself, "I know of one rider who is going to have a great time in hell. Patrick Seabase."

Check him out climbing and descending the Stelvio on his fixie (if you don't know of the Stelvio, just understand that it's big and steep).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lock UP

These German nerds have really put the "up" in the term "I'm going to lock my bike up".

I don't know what they're saying but I'm sure it's nerdy. Good on 'em. I am full of respect for people who are willing to waste their time on complicated projects for the sole purpose of succeeding at making something complicated.

This is without doubt a very successful and complicated project.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Inflatable Helmet

If you're looking for a way to waste 3998 Swedish kroner (which is approximately $570.519548), I've got just the thing for you - the Hövding.

Stylish person not wearing a helmet...or is she?

Is it a scarf? Is it a helmet? Well, it's kind of both. And just like other inventions that claim to be able to fill two different roles (like hybrids), it doesn't do either well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bicycles, fear, helmets & whatnot

The steel horse fills a gap in modern life. It is an answer not only to its needs but also its aspirations. It's quite certainly here to stay.
As with most good quotes, the relevance of this one has stood the test of time. It could have been written yesterday or 50 years ago. In fact, it was penned in 1869.

Mikael Colville-Anderson is an "urban mobility expert" (read "bicycle transport promoter") and the man behind the excellent bicycle blog, In the TEDx talk below, he discusses the culture of fear that many believe is coming to rule our lives.

He touches on the emotive issue of helmets and their associated laws. He goes some way to explaining why certain people see the idea of helmet laws as abhorrent while others are equally appalled by the idea of not wearing a helmet.

While scientists are split on the benefits of helmets, there is no doubt that cycling, with or without a helmet, is good for your health. And while it's hard to quantify these health benefits, it's no surprise that people have gone and tried. Apparently, Denmark has seen a 30% drop in cycling levels since 1990. If those lost numbers still cycled, 1,500 lives would be saved each year. Why? Because the health benefits of cycling are twenty times greater than any risk involved.

Now, I'm always wary about these sorts of numbers. What does twenty times greater actually mean? Why would we save 1,500 lives per year and not 500 or 5,000? Where do these numbers come from? While they're certainly not arbitrary, I think it's safe to say that someone with a different agenda could present some very different figures.

Nonetheless, it's certain that cycling is good for one's health. And while I'm not a scientist, I would contend that the benefits of cycling do indeed outweigh the risks. I would be hesitant to put a number on it but it seems to be a view held by those who know better.

Anyhoo, check out Mikael's talk and make up your own mind.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Councillor Ken (wr)Ong on bicycle speed limit

Melbourne Councillor Ken Ong has declared that there should be a 20km/h speed limit for cyclists in the CBD. According to him, cyclists are the "silent killers" in the city. It seems Ken has been studying persuasive writing and particularly emotive language.

His logic goes like this; ''The other day when I walked out from town hall I nearly got run over from a cyclist who shot through a red light as I was crossing Little Collins Street right in front of town hall.''

I would contend that the problem here was not the speed of the cyclist but the fact that they shot through a red light. Therefore, cyclists should not be allowed to go through red lights. Which they're not. So that's sorted then.

I'm all for lower speed limits, but it should be a consistent speed limit for all vehicles. I think it's pretty obvious that cars are more dangerous than bikes so I can't see any reason why bikes should have to go slower than cars. Sure, bikes are silent but cars weigh a thousand kilograms and are two metres wide. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

A new day door-ning

Dooring's been in the news a bit lately. The ABC had a go covering it the other week (you can read about it here). And yesterday The Age published (quite a good) article on dooring with the catchy headline Cycling's door zone of death.

The article covered the main points - it's the door operator's responsibility to check for cars, cyclists can reduce their own risks by being careful, the leading cause of hospitalisation for cyclists is dooring, etc., etc.

But what piqued my interest was Dan's comment. I don't know Dan. I don't want to know Dan. Dan's from Sydney and here is his comment;
"And if a door is opened into a cyclist’s path, causing a collision, who is to blame? The law is unequivocal in this instance: people are obliged to open doors with care, and any resulting collision is the fault of the door opener." That is the stupidest thing I've ever read. ANY resulting collision? So if a cyclist (or another driver for that matter) is driving too close, not paying attention, drunk, asleep, then its still the door opener's fault?! If a car is parked on the side of the road and the driver opens the door to exit the car only to find a cyclist wrapped around the doorframe then I would assert that the cyclist hasn't allowed enough room between themselves and the car and are riding too close. As usual, cyclists trying to blame everyone but themselves for their poor judgement and perverted necessity to be as much of a nuisance and inconvenience to motorists as possible.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


A while ago, I wrote about Pit In, the ingenious invention that enables a cyclist to ride their bike into their desk and get straight to work.

Today I present to you another example of cyclo-furniture splicing, the We-Bike;

Similar to the Pit In concept except this one has the bike actually built in to the desk. The point? Well, when you pedal you'll be powering your electronic devices.

That's a hat-trick right there - saving the world by generating your own electricity; exercising; and working.

Monday, May 7, 2012


I just saw the (Warning: Rude word coming up) smug fucking ABC news anchors' comments on a report on car dooring. They responded with arrogant incredulity to the assertion by Bicycle Network Victoria's Garry Brennan that a car dooring accident is always the driver's fault.

The male anchor, who I will call Paul because he reminds me of Paul Robinson (and because I can't be bothered looking his name up), helpfully points out that "[he has] seen, and we have all seen our share of reckless cyclists".

I don't really think it's necessary to explain this, but I will just in case you're as dumb as Paul; yes, there are reckless cyclists who cause accidents. But if a person opens a car door into the path of a cyclist, it is always the fault of the person in the car. This is both the case legally and in the magical world of common sense.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Zip-gate Appendage

This is a follow-up to Zip-gate, Wednesday's post on Stephen Roche's comments that cyclists shouldn't be allowed to unzip their jerseys.

On my ride yesterday, I thought I'd take a photo of myself and tweet it Roche's way. Actually, the photo was taken at my usual sugarcane juice stop while I took a break from my ride. After taking several photos of the sky, my knee and the ground with my phone's camera, I finally got the money shot;

In my state of concentration, I failed to notice the sugarcane lady was observing all the action. When I finally looked up and noticed her, it was too late; in her eyes I was some kind of freak.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


The International Cycling Union (UCI) has some odd rules. One of my favourites is that “Socks (and shoe covers) used in competition must not exceed the mid-distance between the ankle and the knee”.

Victoria Pendleton - Not OK, OK?

Now Stephen Roche (who won many things a long time ago such as the Tour, the Giro and the Worlds) has come out and suggested that cyclists shouldn't be allowed to unzip their jerseys.
"You can see their Christmas present from their wives hanging round their neck, but nobody's getting any value out of it. If you don’t stop it now, they’ll have no jerseys on shortly. They talk about heat, about not being able to breathe. Bullshit. Footballers, every time they score a goal, pull their jersey off, but it was banned because it didn't look nice. Why do we tolerate it in cycling?"