Sunday, May 25, 2014

My Workshop Is Better Than Your Workshop

If you are a loyal reader of this blog, then you are either my Mom, or one of the two others who regularly return for the amazing content.  And, if so, you may have noticed that I didn't post an entry on Thursday this week. 

I was busy on Thursday constructing the magnificent workspace you see above.

You see, when you have an armada of bicycles, you need the space to work on them.  And I am an Admiral of the bicycle fleet. 

So, last week, I set out to build an area in my garage to work on bikes and to store bike-related accessories. I started out online, searching for plans.  Then I went to my garage to do sketches, measurements, and gauge the materials needed.  However, I soon realized that this was way complicated, so I said "fuck it" and just headed to the hardware store with a ful heart and an empty mind. 

I bought a bunch of wood and screws.  Would it be enough?  Maybe.  How should I know?  I already told you I didn't have a plan.


I built the workbench first, then hung the pegboard.

Then I built some shelves.

I also wanted to set up my pegboard with the proper tools in the proper order.  Or, at least with the tools I already have in the proper order.  But how to hang a bent screwdriver and a rusty pair of channel-locks? 

Luckily, the internet is full of experts.  Within minutes, my eyes were glazed over from all the "Pegboard Porn" available on the internets. Like this:

From Nine Little Tubes Blog
And this:
From Two Wheel Transit Bike Shop
And this:

After spending an hour or so perusing other peoples' instructions on how to set up a workbench and pegboard, I ultimately adopted my own approach.  "Fuck it, I'm hanging my tools on pegboard until I run out of hooks."  It worked pretty well and I ran out of hooks.  My only problem was hanging all my cable ends and housing ferrules.  Took me a while to hang each one.   

In the end, my workshop is good.  Probably better than yours.  And I have been working in it all week.

The other good thing I found out this week?  Both of our cars can fit on the car pad next to the garage.

That's good, because I need the entirety of the two car garage for bikes.  Stupid cars.  Always getting in the way of my bikes.

Your beer pairing:
Unita Summer Ale
Because my friend Mark just brought some over and it is delicious. 

Also, the swimming pool opened today.  BBQ.  Beautiful weather. 

Go be brave!  Just do it outside.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

They Know Where You Are

Please put on your tin foil hats before reading this post
At the Columbus Commons after the bike to work ride on Friday, Mayor Coleman announced a seemingly benign plan.  But I'm on to them.

The Mayor is somewhere in this picture.
The program is called "Bug Your Bike."  The ideas is that the City will give you a free RFID chip that will be permanently affixed to your bike and by which the City can track your bike if it is ever stolen or turns up as abandoned property or in the evidence room.  See, the chip can be used to locate your bike at all times. 

All of this was explained to me by an eager-looking man with a clipboard and a stack of registration forms.  "We can sign you up right now!" he explained.  In response, I chuckled and told the guy that he didn't have enough forms on hand for my armada* of bikes and, even if he did, I'd eventually need to go to work at some point during the day, so I wouldn't have enough time.  He looked back at me a little confused, but seemed grateful that I was going away.

* What's bigger, an armada or a flotilla?

On a side note, never trust a man with a clipboard.  (No offense to the eager City employee intended).  I have said it a million times - if you want to get in somewhere you're not supposed to be, wear a polo, khakis, a lanyard with some sort of ID badge, and carry a clipboard.  No one will question your right to be there.  And you can freely question anyone in your line of sight about whatever you like.

"Excuse me sir, I need to ask a couple questions about your bowel movements."  "well, since you've got a clipboard, go ahead - shoot."

Either this is the start of a porno or he's really happy to have a clipboard
 Of course this is an effective ruse.  That's why the cable companies equip their minimum-wage employees with polos and clipboards when they send them door-to-door to try and get people to switch cable companies. 

But, I digress.  Back to the bike bugging.  "What a great idea!" you may be thinking.  But don't fall for it!  Don't give the City the ability to "tag" you and track your location in real time!  They know where you are!  Do you really want someone in City hall snickering when you make the 3 am run for condoms and toothpaste?

This is, at best, an a clever ruse to allow the City to track cyclists so that, on the given day, they can gather us up all at once and put us on a boat to Portland. 

Scarier still, it is run by the City's License Section. If you can think of an entity more sinister, I'd like to hear it.

They also license "Massage and Bath Establishments," Alarm System Dealers," and "Parades."  Just saying, you are often judged by the company you keep.

But maybe you don't mind people tracking your movements.  Indeed, there are probably many of you out there who have downloaded special apps made specifically for that purpose.  Like Strava, for instance.  (Although the truly hardcore racers won't use Strava because the competition can follow their training regime.)

And Strava wants to sell that information anyway.  See, Strava has a "data envy" complex - it wants to be like the "Big Data" companies, but can't.  But it's trying: Strava is selling data to Portland to help with city planning.  It's a small step from going for that Thursday night ride to the government having your Thursday night whereabouts recorded.  Get out the tin foil.

Every website you visit can see where you live too.  When you ask a server to deliver a website to you, they need the "address" to send the data - your IP address.  This address can be used to determine the exact location of your computer on the earth.  

Ever wonder why you get ads to meet "hot singles in Columbus"?

Why does the internet think I'm old?  Shit, I might be old.
And don't get me started on big data.  Did you know most of the major big data companies have agreements with the NSA to share your email, text messages, and the like?  Seriously, the program is called "PRISM".  They're even tracking your phone calls. Take a minute and look it up.  I'll wait.  

 Creeped out yet?  Or maybe you're not creeped out.  Apparently, Americans are okay with this.

Image from
Why, do you have something to hide?  Do you want the terrorists to win? 

In light of all of this, RFID looks more like "Drunk Uncle" than "Big Brother."  And after all, for most people, the tracking data would look something like a red dot in their garage.   Still, my commuter is not with the trouble of filling out a form.  And if it is stolen, I get to buy a new bike! 

Go be brave.  Just remember to put on your tin foil hats first.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Storm Before the Calm

Anybody who has been in a bike wreck can identify the above photograph.  Hint: the tire is not supposed to touch the down tube.  That's a telltale indicator of  a front end wreck.  The fork is bent backwards and, in this case, the impact was strong enough to bend the down tube and top tube as the impact on the fork squished the head tube.  

The result was, as I have previously alluded to, unpleasant.

I woke up in an ambulance with my neck in a brace and my head strapped to a board.  It was somewhat disconcerting.  But I'm fine and I keep riding.  I'm so brave.

Some cyclists haven't been as lucky as me recently.  Our city's newspaper's bike blogger has gone through months of treatment and therapy to recover from his encounter with a driver.  He may never ride again.  It's not just physical, he's (understandably) scared.  Travis Freeman was hit in my neighborhood in March.  He's still in recovery too.

And we faced tragedy this year.  Local lawyer Joe Giampapa was killed by a 78 year old driver while riding his bike on a straight, flat road on a clear day.  An experienced cyclist riding on a clear day on a flat, straight road.  It's still "under investigation." 

In another case, a drunk driver hit a cyclist and left him "seriously injured."    The driver will face 15 days in jail and 400 hours of community service.  Seem a little light to you for getting behind the wheel drunk and seriously injuring someone (on a bike or otherwise)?  Me too. 

More heartbreaking, high school teacher Bob Lennon was killed by a hit-and-run driver who suffered from blurred vision and double vision.  Her defense?  "I forgot my glasses." 
Mr. Magoo wasn't funny.  Mr. Magoo is an asshole.
The sentence for killing someone while piloting a 2,000 pound vehicle on city streets while legally blind and then fleeing the scene?   Four and a half years.  This sentence was lower than the maximum of six years charged.

I have been trying to think of an analogy, but can't come up with one.  Hunting while blindfolded?  No, I suspect that would be less dangerous.    

Bob's sister said, “I think the state of Ohio just told cyclists to stay off the road because they’re not safe here.”

I didn't know Bob, but by all accounts, he was good people.  He didn't deserve what he got.

It could be worse.  A Canadian driver is suing the families of the teen cyclists that she killed with her car for her "emotional distress." 

All of this is disheartening.  It can feel like motorists are being excused for hurting or killing cyclists because, come on, what are they doing riding bikes on the road anyway?  Ugh.

Let it go.  Hurt and anger don't help.  I have this blog to help me let go.  Like Dilated People said "My lyrics take care of me, they therapy, get shit off my chest."  

So what can we do?  Well, come out for the Ride of Silence on May 21 at the Ohio statehouse.

I'll be there with my family.  You can throw things at me (silently).

Thing is, don't come out mad.  This isn't a protest.  And it's not a memorial.  We aren't there to treat those who were hurt or injured this year as martyrs.  Because they're not.  They are just ordinary people who happened to be riding bikes. And they deserved better than they got.

So, we will ride in silence to get noticed and respected.  I hope my boys are noticed and respected when they ride their bikes to school.  You'll come out and ride with us too, right?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Take Your Bike to Work Day - I'm Taking the Bus

May 16 is Take Your Bike to Work Day
So May 16 is Take Your Bike to Work Day in Columbus.  It's a good thing to do, and I'm glad the City is supporting it.  But me, I'm taking the bus.

It's partly because I'm a contrarian.  If I am offered the choice between pepperoni or veggie pizza, I choose a hamburger.  And whenever I see large groups of people all doing the same thing, I tend to walk in the other direction.  Can't help it; it's how I'm wired.

Cat memes are the highest and best use of the internet
But there's more to it than that.  As someone who rides his bike to work everyday, everyday is bike to work day for me, but without the party. 

Bike to work day - now with snotcicles!
Even on the worst days, all I'm doing is riding a bike.  It is, essentially, an act that can be performed by trained animals.

It ain't brain surgery or rocket repair.  It's just riding a bike.

That's why I call it "take your bike to work day."  Not "bike to work day."  I call it that, because it's like "take your child to work day."  The similarities are striking.

First of all, it's a once-a-year event.  On that one special day a year, your entire day will be centered around this one unusual act.

And like take-your-kid day, no work will get done on that day.  Instead, you will walk around your office all day introducing people to your bike and talking about your bike with them.  And, as with your kids, most people couldn't be less interested.  There may even be special activities scheduled around your special visitor.  And, at the end of the day, you will head home, feeling smug that you have done your duty as a responsible member of society, but happy that it only happens once a year.

In this regard, it's kind of like how you only tell your spouse that you love her once a year on Valentine's day.  Or like how gym memberships spike around January because of the New Year's resolutions, but attendance is back to normal by February.  

But that's not why I'm riding the bus.

I'm taking the bus because I'm selfish.

You see, most of the "take your bike to work" traffic will happen along my path to work.  I live in Clintonville and I work downtown.

See the black line?  That's roughly my commute to work.  It will also be the most heavily-used route on bike to work day.

How bad can that be, you may be wondering.  Well, imagine if the City sponsored a "get out and drive day," encouraging people who don't ordinarily drive to take to the roads during rush hour.  They could send mailers to seniors' centers and work-at-home folks, asking them to "try driving."  Now, imagine that you live on the heaviest traffic corridor and you drive to work. Fun!  

On my commute, folks will be slapping on crooked helmets, lacing up white sneakers, and saddling up on bikes with adjustable stems, riser bars, and bar ends, looking for all the world like the antlers of a 20-point buck.  Upon encountering other riders in similar form, they will toodle down the path, happily chatting side-by-side, while picking their way unsteadily through the dog walkers and headphoned joggers.

A fine example.  For an amazing collection of bike "cockpits" check out BikeSnobNYC
Others, who are used to road riding for exercise or racing will butter up their backsides and slide into some lycra "kits" to timetrial the 5 miles to work on the bikepath. Along the way they will dart in and out of their lane and pass on blind turns, with nary an "on your left."

"Dude, I just made it to work in 3 minutes."  "Nice!"  Photo by Limarie Cabrera
Ugh.  I'll take the bus.

I know what you're thinking: "Dan, you're a giant douchebag."  I don't disagree.  But, hear me out.  I actually love Take Your Bike to Work Day.

See, I once was the guy with the crooked helmet and the barends and riser bars.  Biking saved my life - literally.  I was on the path to heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity.  Biking has made me happier and healthier.  And it saves me money.  And I don't emit many gasses when commuting, so I guess that's good for the environment.

And I know that Take Your Bike to Work Day is in my best interests.  The more people that ride bikes, the better for me.  More cyclists means more bike infrastructure, safer roads, and a cleaner, happier community.

At work, I will be genuinely happy to talk to all the people who come to see me to describe their ride to work.  We can swap stories about dogs, geese, and close calls with cars.

Do me a favor though.  Go ride your bike to work alone one day this week.  It will be beautiful weather.  Or better yet, ride by yourself when it's rainy or cold.  Or rainy and cold.  Because even when it's rainy and cold and you're alone, it's still a day on the bike, which always beats sitting in a big metal box staring at the brake lights in front of you.  Give me a shout and we'll ride together. 

Crap.  I think I just talked myself into it.  Okay, fine.  Maybe I'll Take My Bike to Work too.  And maybe I'll meet up at the Columbus Commons for breakfast after.  Just don't tell anyone.  I don't want people thinking I'm part of a group.

Go be brave.

Your beer pairing:
Arrogant Bastard Ale.  Because, well, you know.

Stone brews great beers.  This one is a not-too-hoppy strong ale.  And, I love the ethos.  From the company's website:

At Stone Brewing, we believe that pandering to the lowest common denominator represents the height of tyranny - a virtual form of keeping the consumer barefoot and stupid. Brought forth upon an unsuspecting public in 1997, Arrogant Bastard Ale openly challenged the tyrannical overlords who were brazenly attempting to keep Americans chained in the shackles of poor taste.