Thursday, August 31, 2006


Forget Copenhagen. Let's move to Qatar. Cycling paths kept nice and cool with cold water misting. Check it out. We might want to modify things to suit our particular needs. Winnipeg does not get quite as hot as Doha, so cool mist is arguably unnecessary. But heated bike paths would be a nice touch for winter.

I have successfully probed the Ass. Forest. It looks better than I had feared it might. There's actually a decent amount of singletrack in there. What is lacking in hills is more than made up for in kidney-jarring rows of logs. Between logs and the holes left behind by the horses, there will be some bumpy sections to keep things interesting.

Also, it looks like the CMU Bike Co-op is officially a go. We've got a place to hang out and some cash to hire a student. Now I need to go order some tools.

into the Ass. Forest

Rode the XTC into work today so that I can delve into the Ass. Forest over lunch to scout out potential courses for the CMU Homecoming Bike Race (which happens on Sept. 23, 11am). I'll be leaving around 12 noon. Anyone who wants to help is welcome. And if you can supply a front end loader to help create some hills that would be nice too. Looks like it'll be a rather flat course, but we'll see what we can do.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

busy day on the blog

pictures of last friday's bonfire and wasp killing event at dr. h's. pictures are of wasp killers examining the death spray; dr. applying said spray from the roof on his house; dr. h impersonation of a cat on a roof; and the said bonfire (burning of last year's christmas tree).

life is good

Arrived at work this morning to stumble upon this sublime scene. If you can make it here (North Campus) by around 10:15 this morning, I'd be happy to share. Otherwise I'll have to eat them all by myself, and take the long way home.

the next project

make your own helmet cam

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

jersey fitting party

the sizing kit has arrived. a full complement of club cut jerseys from size s to xxl. maybe your size is in there somewhere.

meet at dr.h's at 9:00pm on Monday. then we might ride a bit and end out at the clubhouse. thought it might be better to be modest on the sizing effort. ie. baring our buffed uppers for sizing might be better left to a private residence. some sorry people need to start working again on the next day so it likely won't be late...

what's known re pricing is that there will be a price for fgbc regulars to purchase one jersey which will reflect some of our hard work on sponsorship, but friends of fgbc and regulars who want more than one jersey will be welcome to add to our order as well, at a price somewhat related to cost.

Monday night ride report

Sweet ride tonight. Johnny N, Jonny G, Unger, Juan Eppstein, and myself put in a very casual 40 km this evening in and around our fine city. For some reason we ended up in NK. Don't know why that happened. We even rode down Irving Dr. Perhaps we were unconsciously sensing the absence of the President and the Secretary. Also hit up the Belgian Club in honor of Hal, and payed our respects by visiting the more tortured rendition of Louis Riel behind CUSB. Met up with some fellow cycling enthusiasts at the F&H on what was otherwise one of the deadest nights ever at the clubhouse. Some dude at the urinal assured me that I was doing a good thing by riding my bike. That's always nice to hear. The dark was just right. This allowed us to move on to more pressing issues like assessing the relative merits of the tube tv vs. HDTV vs. computer projection units. Not sure we reached a consensus on the matter other than to agree that it is likely best not to drop your old tv.

Not sure whether a Labour Day edition of the MNR will take place next week or not. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Jealous anyone

So Johnny S. and I were at a frisbee party the other night and some how ended up with a pair of FGD glasses.

Quick hands buddy....quick hands.

I am in for a ride tonight. What is the style of ride?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Monday night rides

This might just be one of the best times of the year. Ultimate is done for another eight months (for most of us). The Living Legends, as has come to be expected, closed out the season with a win. And Hummelt hockey is still 5 or 6 weeks away (for some of us). That means that for the next little while there's an extra day each week for bike riding. This won't happen again until April. Seems like we should stick with Mondays for now, since Jonny G still practices on Tuesday. We'll try to throw in a couple of races yet--another alleycat, perhaps an inner-city xc race--but we'll start with something a little more relaxed.

So if you want to ride, meet at my place at 8pm. Not sure where we'll go, exept that we'll eventually end up at the F&H.

FGBC friends Paddy and Tomek (the pusher) and others showed em how it's done in Saskatchewan this weekend. See full report here. Nice work fellas. Then again, it can't be too surprising that some folks from MB beat out a bunch of SK hillbillies. It can't be too easy riding a bike with a banjo. Bring on the Riders. Go Bombers!

The jerseys sure look sweet. Can't wait to see how much faster they make me ride. I think I'm going to go crack a dark to celebrate the completion of the proof process.

jersey - designing is done

so, this is the final design on the jersey. now we wait for the sizing kit to come... this should work out to be everyone's fav Christmas gift... if we're lucky.

Friday, August 25, 2006

spring ride 2006 - the movie

ok, it's not going to win any awards, but after taking a bit of sass (from the Duke, no less) at Jonny S's on Saturday, I thought I better throw something down. so, here you go, 5.5 minutes of memories.

It's actually on our website... so my $35/yr is worth it...

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Not the kind that comes in a tin. Though that reminds me of my good friend Pete.

Pete goes through about a tin of Copenhagen every day or two. Some of you met him at the F & H a while back. Pete's father is Ethiopian, his mother's from Lancaster County--Floyd Landis country. The Lancaster connection goes some way to explaining the fact that he's as redneck as they come--cowboy boots, Willie Nelson, pickup truck, and the aforementioned smokeless tobacco, even though . . . well let's just say he doesn't exactly fit the stereotype. Growing up in Lancaster can be harmful for your health, or at least your lips. Pete claims that there are all kinds of old Mennonite churches in the area with spitters for your dip.

In any case, I'm referring to Copenhagen the city--the city of cyclists. Check out this documentary on Copenhagen's efforts to accomodate cyclists, courtesy of the bike advocacy dept. Kind of makes me think Winnipeg is a lost cause, unless something miraculous happens in the civic elections this fall. But I suppose we can always dream. While we're dreaming, some of that architecture would be nice too.

My ribs are still hurting pretty good from ultimate on Monday. Makes it hard to accelerate on the bike. So it's nothing but cruising for the next little while. Hope my rickety old body is good enough to go for the ultimate champeenships on Saturday. Here's to peaking at the right time: Go Legends!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

rider down

LeAnn had a close encounter of the vehicular kind this afternoon. Some dude talking on his cell while driving down Main St. decided to turn across two lanes and ran her off the road. Luckily she is okay and the bike looks to be fine too, but the dude's car got all scratched up. That's nice to hear, actually, as these sorts of encounters usually turn out the other way around.

Ride carefully boys and girls. It's a jungle out there.

erotic cycling

Yes, you read right. Perhaps we should try to get this exhibit over here for an FGBC fundraising event. Read more here.

must be the Belgian beer

More Belgian fun. Check out the crazy finish at the Benelux Tour today.

From VeloNews:

The Eneco Benelux Tour ended bitterly for George Hincapie (in the red jersey) on Wednesday after arch-rival Stefan Schumacher (in yellow) hooked him in the final 50 meters, sending the Discovery Channel leader sprawling to the ground and causing him to lose the race on time bonuses. Schumacher started the 201km seventh and final stage three seconds behind race leader Hincapie, but the German rider bounded ahead to finish third behind winner Philippe Gilbert (Fran├žaise des Jeux) and runner-up Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir) to earn a four-second bonus that nudges him into overall victory in the eight-day Benelux tour by one second.
Read the full of the story here.

And Hal thought he was taken advantage of at the race on Sunday. Either Hincapie was robbed or he's a whiner and should just shutup. It certainly hasn't been a banner year for him. Snapped bars at Paris-Roubaix, a lacklustre performance at the Tour, and now this.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


jon friesen making the road gap in lethbridge. see the rest of his pics at pink bike

Monday, August 21, 2006

dude, where's my bike?

Hey man, sweet bike! I can deal with a curse that makes me speak a bit foo-nee so long as that frame helps me ride faster as well. So far so good. I heart singie speeds.

keep yer dang feet out of my spokes!

This is why I don't like racing criteriums. On the other hand, this is why they're popular in the US. It's like NASCAR without the noise. One little bump and it's all over. This took place in the Women's race at the U.S. National Criterium Championships this weekend. The good news is that she wasn't seriously hurt. Cyclists may be smaller than average, but they're tough as nails. Pics courtesy of

Sunday, August 20, 2006

race report

#9 - #9 - #9

wasn't my day. felt great at the start of day - the preride was good (except for one pitch over the handlebars). any ways, when our group went off i was feeling pretty confident, after all i had ridden well against all the guys in our group (the same ususal suspects). well 5 minutes in on the up hill lead in, i was being dropped. what the hell. for the next 20 minutes guys kept passing me (this was starting to get on my nerves) finally during a run up section i discovered that my back wheel had shifted and was rubbing against my brake - baddly. so out come the tools and i start to fix the problem - more guys pass me. as i am working on my bike this guy wearing a woodcock jersey pulls up beside me and says "can i have a drink of water, i dropped my water bottle." before I can answer the dude picks up my camel back and starts to drink from it. i can't believe what i am seeing. i tell him, "i have enough water for my race," he says okay and continues on. shit. not only is that bad form, it is illegal - i can't believe he did that. finally, i get my wheel issue straightened out and start to get back into race. slowly i start to reel some guys in, thinking all i have to do is to stay smooth, keep the pedals turning, and i might be alright. well no - how about a flat. f*#k, so now i get to fix a freaking flat. well i have a C02 inflater which i've never used and manage to discharge half of it on to my hand as i am inflating the tire - at least my hand was cool now. so i managed to finish the race with about 20lb of pressure in the back tire - but i finished ninth overall. not stellar, but still a day of racing in grand beach which is always fun.


Friday, August 18, 2006

maah daah hey

Check out the article on the MDH in the NYT. Will have to get back there some time.

Bummed to have missed the good times at the Belgian Club last night. No doubt it would have been more fun than digging up my driveway.

A ride sandwiched between two bbq's. Does it get any better than that? I hope I can make it. Depends on how the driveway goes today. Might even have the xtc ready for her maiden ride.

friday fun file

more fixie mayhem. the fixie skid and simultaneous lighting of the cigarette is kinda cool

belgian report: no waffles (beer stew, fries and mayo), some beers = good

word is there is a bbq at tinker around noon, followed by a ride. looks like coordination with altona fest is possible.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

beer and waffles

folklorama - working at the cyclocross display at the belgian pavillion tonight. drop by for some great belgian beer and waffles.

race report

the president and i both raced last night. while my front tire managed to stay inflated enough to get me through to the end of the race, the president was not so lucky - dnf city (when i got home i pulled a 1" nail out of my tire - it was at such an angle as to only slightly puncture the tube, causing a slow leak. remember kids, always check the tire before putting in a new tube).

weekend ride coordination - talked to james last night and he was talking about a saturday afternoon ride at tinker/trans. i'll be going to tinker thad day (rides anyone?). someone from altona have a cell? we should get in touch so we can meet up.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

feeding the habit

They say that when you're addicted, you should try to avoid seedy places that will tempt your resolve. But they don't tell you how hard that is. I'm so weak. Goddamn the pusher man, or so the song goes. On the other hand, thanks Tomek. Still a work in progress, but coming soon.

l'il stevie

some of you may have known steve harjul from olympia cycle. steve has moved to north carolina to complete a masters in fine arts. i received an email from him yesterday; here are a few excerpts:

"My plans totally hit the fan once I landed in TO. My sister screwed up
the application for her VISA, which offset the whole schedule. Thats
the last time I make a plan. Everything is by the seat of my pants from
now on. Just like a Russian cosmonaut. The Russian space crafts are
purposefully designed ultra low tech so that the pilots can feel
everything that is happening to the space ship and in the case of an
emergency fix a problem. Its like mechanical disks vs hydraulics. My
life is a rocket ship from now on, no more overly complicated space

"Next thing you know, I packed up the car, and we were at the US border. Flew across it and booted it down to NC. After a couple days I found an apartment but it dosn't open up till sept1. Till then Im living under a bridge with this 3 toques
type guy."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

this and that

James and Johnny are back from their transrockies adventure. Sounds like they had a blast. Check out their latest report. One of these days, we'll have to pull together a team or two.

Asked the guys who live across the street if any of them was Don. They said no. But they want us to let them know about the next alleycat anyway.

Obligatory Floyd reference of the day. A 2005 article on Floyd concluded with this quote: "The way I was raised there's no value in having something if you didn't get it honestly and through hard work. There's no reason to be proud of something you have if you didn't earn it." Read the full story here.

All of this has the philosophy professor in me thinking that this would make a fascinating case study in what is known as virtue ethics--according to which character is somehow taken to be morally basic. Might an appeal to character trump the so-called facts of the matter, or whatever it is that the tests can be said to reveal? I have to say I think it can, though of course it's important to bear in mind that media sound-bytes do not constitite a sufficiently rich account of anyone's character. At any rate, it complicates the question of what counts as admissable evidence in these discussions.

To follow up a meandering conversation that took place at VJ's around 1:30 am last night: average house prices in Portland are around $330,000. Evidently, good city planning comes at a price.

final jersey proof?

well, i'm thinking this is it... if we give them permission to move, they'll start creating the stuff they need, and have it ready to go for when we send our order. this is your last chance to register any major concerns.

math is hard

but this story is cool

minutes august 14

re this weekend in Altona:
ride, ride, barbeque, ride

i hope jonny s understood more.

Monday, August 14, 2006

don't steal the fixie!!!

why you may think twice before you try and steal a fixie

Haben Sie sich heute schon gedopt?

Or "How to Piss Off the Peloton." Maybe the secretary can get one of his kids to translate this for us.

from the bike advocacy dept

This article was in today's Free Press. Lindsay is the shit. People may actually listen to him. They'd be stupid not to.

Positive cyclists group plans law-abiding rally
Say approach of Critical Mass is misguided

Mon Aug 14 2006

By Carol Sanders

ORGANIZERS of a mass bike ride this September say there will be no confrontations, violations or outlandish costumes -- just a bunch of helmeted cyclists out to show their support for better bicycling routes in the city.
"Our goal is trying to open communication in a positive way between cyclists and people on the streets," said Scot Miller, owner of Olympia Cycle and Ski.

"Tensions are high in this city," said the avid cyclist. "Our roads aren't widening and cycling's growing," said Miller. "We've got to figure something out, or it's only a matter of time before people start to get injured."

The Sept. 6 event is being organized by Miller and Lindsay Gauld, a bicycle courier in his late 50s and Olympic cyclist who competed in Munich in 1972.

He and Gauld are critical of Critical Mass, a movement that's held mass bike rallies in Winnipeg to promote cycling and demand respect for their right to be on the road.

"A lot of cyclists have concerns about a lack of bike lanes, but they're not being represented by Critical Mass," said Gauld. "I just think it's a little too confrontational to suit my ideas for how to accomplish anything," he said.

Participants in past Critical Mass rides have had run-ins with the police, complaining of police brutality. Law enforcement officials have complained some riders flagrantly flouted the law. Deliberately slowing down rush-hour traffic and generating negative publicity threatens to set cycling back in a city that needs more safe cycling routes, said Miller. The leaderless -- and therefore unaccountable -- Critical Mass movement has created an even bigger divide between cyclists and the public, he said.

"Their main focus is to take back the street," Miller said. "That small statement suggests a struggle, and it can't be that. You're on a 25-pound craft. You're always going to be eliminated," said the avid cyclist.

"We really feel it's the infrastructure -- as far as cyclists and motorists go -- that is the culprit here."

To improve the infrastructure, you need political will, said Gauld.

"I want to get the mayor on side," said the bike courier. "Maybe we'll finish (the ride) at the Goldeyes' stadium," Gauld said, referring to Mayor Sam Katz's connection to Winnipeg's baseball team. "I want to get some politicians involved," said Gauld.

"I've ridden my bike all over the world, and this city is not very good in terms of bike lanes or bike routes," Gauld said while oh his bike after stopping on Portage Avenue. "We've got lots of space -- there's no reason we can't do better and leave three and a half-feet for bikes."

The details of the ride aren't set yet -- like what to call it. Gauld suggests SPIN, an acronym for Strength and Power in Numbers. The ride will be held Wednesday, Sept. 6 around suppertime, said Miller. They're considering a route from Assiniboine Park to Wellington Crescent to downtown, and will apply for a permit from the city. All riders are welcome as long as they wear helmets and abide by the rules of the road, Miller said.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

when is a journalist not a journalist?

I'm tired of reading about Floyd too. But this article is actually pretty intelligent. Not only because it is refreshingly undogmatic, nuanced, and informed, but because it uses the whole fiasco as a means to examine the larger question of what it means to be a journalist.

johnny g vs. johnny law

Not real, apparently, but part of an ad campaign for Specialized bikes. Clever, and worth watching: click here.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

spoke too soon

hmmm, maybe crash is not dead yet (and other pics from birch)


Found this note in my porch last night, along with a beaten up spoke card from the race on Monday:

Open or closed? Fair question. Not sure I want to answer it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Muddy Waters; TC at TR

The annual Muddy Waters ride takes place this Sunday. Big ass road ride through Lockport, BHP, etc. 60k, 100k, and 160k options. Something for everybody. I'm planning to do 160 and will likely ride to the start and back home as well. Would be nice to see some other FGBC folks there. Hal, are you up for riding it fixed? Registration between 7:00 and 7:30 am. More information available here.

James and Johnny Friesen (aka Tinker Creek Farm Team) are doing the Trans Rockies race this week. After the 4th of 7 stages, they sit in 50th out of 76 teams left in the competitive open men's division (90 teams started), 12 hours back of the leaders. Not even a hopped up Floyd Landis could take back that amount of time. But hopefully they can rise up a few places over the final 3 stages. The race for the overall lead is tighter than ever this year, with only 8 seconds separating 1st and 2nd and another team only 3:15 back.

Check out their report on how things have gone so far. I think a few numbers got inflated somewhere along the line (e.g., 20,000 m of climbing and descending over 109km??), but it gives you a good sense of the race. Clearly not an event for Johnny G, since it's possible to get lost and ride extra miles. Follow their progress through the rest of the race here.

Finally, be sure to take a look at this narrated slideshow of the Tour. Reminds me why I love this sport.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

alleycat results

excellent turn out for a mid summer event; 8 riders in total. final results are:

chris 59:40 + 10:00 minute penatly (1:06:40)
vic 1:16:00
juan 1:17:00
elizabeth and cheryl 1:26:00
jon g 1:19:00 + 10:00 minute penalty (1:29:00)
john n 1:38:00

the riders enjoyed the course, which included the following:


Start and Finish: 206 Home Street

1) Legislative Building - Thomas Douglas is the ??? Earl of Selkirk (don't look for his name first). Answer - 5th

2) The Zoo - who plays on August 19th? Answer - Todd Kerns

3) The Belgium Club - What is the Belgian Club's Belgian Vetran's Association number? Answer - 107

4) Velo Artisan Bread (293 Carpathia) - Go to the front door. Riders had to pick up a water-filled ballon and deliver it the finish without breaking the ballon. Sadly, no one's water broke.

5) Main / Norwood Bridge - What is the official opening date and who is the artist? Answer - 10//19/99 and Catherine Widgery (Jon and Chris forgot the artist)

6) Garbage Hill - how many fence posts surround the tree at the top of the road? Answer - 18

7) Augustine Presbytrian Church (the village) - what date was it completed? Answer - 1903

8) The West End Cultural Centre - Danny Micheal plays on what date? Answer - Sept. 14

9) The Walker (should not be called the Burton until he is dead) - what four acts will be playing there? Answer - Yellowcard, Geroger Canyon, Weakerthans, WSO

10) Red River CC Downtown (south atrium entrance) - fill in the blanks: __ __ __ NXA, __ __ __ NUS, __ __ __ HAA (look for white numbers and letters). Answer - 208, 427, 398.


1st - Bottle of wine to Chris (thanks for sharing)
Last - 1/2 loaf of banana bread to John N
Draw - other 1/2 of banana bread to Vic

All riders received a shot of fine homemade Slovenijian grappa upon completion of their ride.

Post ride activies included a ride to VJ's for dogs, burgers and fries and visit to the skate park - excellent.

Look for more events in the near future.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

you want a war?

Fucking French. Not that I want to make this a question of patriotism, since I have little use for that. But this is not just about Floyd anymore. It appears that war has been declared. L'Equipe, the infamously trashy rag with ties to the lab that is trying to bring down Floyd, had this to say in a recent editorial: "The parents of Floyd Landis today probably regret that the wheel was ever invented. Welcome to the 21st century, Mennonites!" To which I say: Screw you! If you're so in love with the 21st century, why are you still interested in bikes? That's more Amish than anything. Or at any rate more along the lines of the 19th century than the 21st. We here at the FGBC may not be cutting edge hipsters. But at least we're smart enough not to have to rely on inane retorts like that. So bring it on. We're ready. Just don't expect us to come at you in ways you might expect. If the 21st century is anything, it's predictable, scripted, and essentially boring. Not to mention stupid. Take a look around you. This is the 21st century. And the list of shitholes that soil our world is not limited to Buffalo, New Jersey, Hollywood, any North American suburb, Baghdad, Israel/Lebanon. As far as I understand, things haven't been so rosy in Paris recently either. So spare us the self-righteous bullshit.

Another rider down: Big Jonny of drunkcyclist fame was run over this past weekend. Be careful out there boys and girls.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Floyd's anger

By now you no doubt know that Floyd failed his B test on Saturday, has been fired by his team, etc. Apparently the whole world knows about this. And that is part of the problem. His TdF victory got some modest coverage, but the media, at least in North America, are evidently more interested in covering scandals than actual sporting events. This is particularly disappointing for sports networks. Despite their eagerness, however, the media coverage is often misleading, if not downright false. Floyd has tried to clear up some of the misconceptions in a letter posted on his website. More recently, he's just plain angry, blasting the UCI, the media, and others in a recent interview published in USA Today. That won't help him win the PR war that gets fought on the airwaves. But I don't think he cares. That's Lance's game and he plays it as well as anyone.

I really want to believe Floyd and confess that I continue to hold onto a glimmer of hope that he will eventiually be able to clear his name. All I know is that there's something about all of this that doesn't make sense. Hopefully it will get sorted out at some point.

Selfish as it no doubt is, I must admit to feeling a tad bittersweet when Floyd won the Tour. He used to be our little secret. Outside the FGBC, he was virtually anonymous. But now everyone was going to be talking about Floyd. But that's a distant memory by now. The way things are going, he will eventually forgotten, banished from our fickle imaginations as yet another failed hero, and we can have him to ourselves again. Maybe we should order up another FGBC jersey, because nobody else will want to ride with him. But that's not exactly how we'd want this to turn out either.

Can't wait for the alleycat tonight.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

North Shore Jonny

Too muddy to ride the new trans canada section by Tinker yesterday. So Jonny went home and built his own place to ride instead. A few ladders to start with. First laying flat on the ground. Then higher, and even higher. Lots of fun. Look for a new bike park in Altona sometime soon. Yes we know we're dorks.

Also scouted a site for a future FGBC event: Stonehenge. Would be perfect for a 12 or 24 hour race.

Don't forget the Alleycat tomorrow. 8pm at 206 Home St.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Thursday, August 03, 2006

re: brake no brakes

great response/observation from "a flower called nowhere" (one of my favourite blogs). if you did not read all of the post from dr. h's posting on the brakes thing - do, because it makes a whole bunch of sense.

the post made me think a bit about this whole fixie thing. sometimes i catch myself thinking "bike snob" thoughts ('nice canadian tire 80lb bike you're riding') and being a bit of bike messenger wannabe/poseur ('look at me - i ride a fixie'). try and catch myself when this happens and remind myself: one, if you ride a bike your cool - no matter if it is $150 cdn tire special or a $2500 race bike that someone put a mirror and rack on for commuting; and two, i am librarian, not a bike messenger. having said all that - fixies are fun and a challenge, but they are still only bikes; ride what you want to ride, as long as you ride.

winning made easy

From the cheap thrills department comes this video of Japan's best kept secret--kierin racing.

when is a brake a brake?

Used to be that we only had to worry about whether or not we were cheap posers. Now, in addition to integrity issues, it appears we might be haunted by the spectre of the law. Or is it hunted? Since Winnipeg cops have a penchant for bandwagon jumping (witness their attempt to mimic NYC cops in their approach to Crticial Mass), let's hope they don't come across this news. Then again, maybe it's just pathetic self-rationalization that we suffer from.

Check out the latest obstacle for fixed-gear fans, courtesy of cars-r-coffins:
Illegal Fixies?
Rant: Dang! Out of Portland comes this crazy nooze...

Judge finds fault with fixies
Posted by Jonathan Maus on July 28th, 2006

Yesterday at the Multnomah County Courthouse the law came down against fixed gear bicycles.

On June 1, 2006 Portland bike messenger Ayla Holland was given a ticket for allegedly violating Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 815.280(2)(a) which states,

A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. strong enough to skid tire.

At issue was whether Holland’s fixed gear bicycle met this requirement. She and her lawyer Mark Ginsberg thought it did, but Officer Barnum of the Portland Police Bureau thought otherwise so they brought the matter in front of a traffic court Judge.

According to Officer Barnum, he stopped Holland at SW First and Jefferson and told her that she was in violation of the law and that she must put a front brake on her fixie to avoid a ticket. Holland disagreed. She and Ginsberg claim that Oregon statute does not clearly define what a brake is and that as long as a bicycle can perform a “skid on dry, level clean pavement” it does not need to have a separate, traditional braking device.

At the start of the trial it was clear that neither the Judge nor the Officer understood just what a fixed-gear bicycle was. To help them visualize, Ginsberg likened a fixie to a child’s Big Wheel. Once everyone was clear and the cop was finished with his opening testimony, Ginsberg began his cross-examination:

Ginsberg (to Officer Barnum):

“When you approached the rider did she stop?”

Officer Barnum:



“How’d she stop the bike?”

Officer Barnum:

“I don’t know.”


“The gear itself stopped the bike.”

Officer Barnum:

“But the gear is not a brake.”

From the outset, the judge seemed to agree with the cop and it was up to Ginsberg to change his mind. The trial began to hinge on the definition of brake. Ginsberg continued to ask questions of the cop.


“What is a brake?”

Officer Barnum:

“A lever, a caliper or a coaster brake hub.”


“Can you show the court where in the vehicle code a brake is defined as such?”

Officer Barnum:



“Did you at any time during the traffic stop ask my client if she could skid (thus meeting the performance requirement of the statute)?”

Officer Barnum:


At this point the judge seemed increasingly exasperated with Ginsberg’s direction and pointed out that “brake” was a commonly accepted term. To end this line of questioning, Ginsberg offered to demonstrate to the court that Holland could easily bring her fixed-gear bike to a skid on dry, level pavement. The judge declined his offer.

Now it was time for Officer Barnum to ask questions. He asked Holland,

“What would you do if your chain broke?”


“I would use my feet.”

Officer Barnum:

“What if your leg muscles had a spasm?”


“I’m not sure…these are emergency situations.”

Ginsberg interjected with a question for Holland:

“Did any of these situations happen on the day you were stopped?”



Now it was time for Officer Barnum to submit his closing testimony. He continued to argue that nowhere in the statute does it say gears can be utilized as brakes (it doesn’t say they can’t either). He also said that “motorists and the public deserve to have these bikes be properly equipped,” and that a “skid is not as good or safe as a stop.” “The requirement,” he said, “has not been met.”

Now it was Ginsberg’s turn. He said,

“The state is overreaching in seeking to define a brake as a lever and a caliper. The question remains; is the fixed gear the brake? The statutes are clear that the answer is yes.”

To solidify his point, he took out a huge Webster’s dictionary and opened it to the word “brake.” The definition stated that a brake is a “device to arrest the motion of a vehicle.” It did not stipulate anything about a distinct lever or caliper. In his last few comments he proclaimed that the current statute is not well-written and that it is “frightening to require only a front brake.”

With both sides at rest, it was time for the Judge’s final opinion. His contention was that the main source of braking power on a fixed gear are the muscles of the rider, not the gear itself. To this end, he questioned how messengers—whom he’s seen riding “much too fast”—could stop safely.

In the Judge’s opinion, gearing itself and/or leg muscles are not a sufficient source of braking power. He said,

“The brake must be a device separate from the musclulature of the rider. Take me for instance. I don’t have leg muscles as strong as a messenger…how would I stop safely?”

He then turned directly to Ginsberg and said,

“If your client had a stick she could rub against her tire, you’d have a case. I don’t believe the defense has convinced me to broaden the definition of a brake. I find the defendant guilty.”

So now Holland has 30 days to either attach a hand brake to her bike and pay a $73 fine, or appeal the decision. In talking with her outside the courtroom it seemed like she did not think the Judge’s opinion was fair and I wouldn’t be surprised if she and Ginsberg decide to continue the fight.

This decision by the Judge raises some concerns and questions. Will the cops now feel emboldened to go out and ticket everyone on a fixed-gear? Are fixed-gears now essentially illegal? Are fixed-gears truly a public safety hazard?

Fixed gears have become a huge trend across the country and with hundreds if not thousands of them in Portland, I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this issue.
Still reading? Now read the (entirely appropriate) retort by aflowercallednowhere:
broke break baroque

There is a lot of talk around bike blogs and newsgroups about whether the law should require brakes on fixies and even what constitutes "brakes". I feel there are more important things the law needs to focus on, and that the decision to have brakes or no brakes is up to the rider, but I also feel that legislating common sense can't be done because people are inherently stupid and subject to the whims of fashion and herd mentality.

Some of the things that the "brakeless faction" are missing out on or rationalizing away are 1) chains snap, and no chain on a fixie means out of control. Only the people who have never had a chain snap while stomping hard on the pedals actually believe that they will be able to make an emergency stop on their bike as fast as they could without a chain. I've had 2 chains snap in my life, and both times they were absolutely catastrophic split-second rides off the seat and up onto the bars. To think I could have stopped the bike on a dime right after it happened is just stupidity. 2) Most of the braking power on a bike is on the front wheel. You know that and I know that. Explain to me how, in an emergency situation, it can possibly be anywhere near as fast to stop by doing the fixie skid as opposed to backpressure on the pedals and clamping down on the front brake. 3) Most people I know who race track don't ride track bikes on the street. Most people I know who ride brakeless track bikes on the street are following fixie/messenger fashion trends and ride maybe a couple miles to work or to the bar where they park their bike so all their fixie friends can see them. 4) I would venture to guess that a good portion of fixie riders, just like a good portion of any people that do anything, aren't exceptionally skilled at what they do. There is a world of difference in abilities between the average fixie scenester and the experienced bike messenger or experienced racer. All people are not equal in all things, to think they are is stupidity. Most people arguing that skid-stops are superior probably could not get it together enough to even begin a skid-stop in the split-second the old lady opens her door in front of you, while they may have had a chance of stopping if their fingers were on their brake levers (as they should always be in heavy traffic and dangerous circumstances).

I ride a fixie solely because it's lighter and easier on my long flat commute on bike paths and a few blocks of city streets, and also to some extent because it never breaks down or needs adjustments. The novelty and uniqueness of riding a fixie is pretty much gone for me after these thousands of miles and from riding it almost an hour and a half (20 miles, with grocery stops) every day, the quirks internalized. If the commute were easier on a unicycle, well, then I'd ride the unicycle. I could care less about the coolness factor because I'm not trying to look cool or get laid. If it were easier to ride a geared-bike to work I would ride a geared bike. Fixies, by their very nature, are extremely limiting. They only do one thing well. Turning on a dime and by body language is a function of frame geometry, not whether it is a fixie or not. Riding a fixie doesn't mean you are a better rider or a cooler person. Coolness is all inside, and if you're a loser then the coolest fixie in the world won't fix that. if you have to rely on a fixie to define social life and to get laid, then you maybe should think about your life a little bit.

The mythical fixie zen is all fine and good. Being a slave to fashion with your bars a foot lower than your seat and no brakes on a bike that never has been near a track is all fine and good. It's a free country, be whatever you want to be. Just don't be so stupid and obviously rationalizing (out of insecurity?) that going brakeless is "safer", because it's not. Accept the fact that if you ride brakeless you are tempting fate, especially if the chain snaps, and be proud of the fact. Play it up like you're hardcore and tempting death. Use it to boost your macho ego or to solve your penis envy or to get college chicks, whatever, just don't claim it's "safer" anywhere except on a closed track or risk looking like a real idiot to the majority of people who don't think being an urban bike messenger is cool and rad. Have insurance for reconstructive surgery when the chain snaps in traffic, and accept it when you are responsible for your bike accident, and not the person in the car you are trying to blame it on.

If you still aren't convinced then ask yourself if you know more about bikes and are as respected a rider/fountain of knowledge as Sheldon Brown. Didn't think so. Then Kent Peterson? Didn't think so.

"Some fixed-gear riders ride on the road without brakes. This is a bad idea. I know, I've tried it. If you do it, and have any sense of self-preservation at all, it will cause you to go much slower than you otherwise could, everytime you go through an intersection, or pass a driveway. The need for constant extra vigilance takes a great deal of the fun out of cycling. You really should have a front brake. A front brake, all by itself, will stop a bicycle as fast as it is possible to stop. This is true because when you are applying the front brake to the maximum, there is no weight on the rear wheel, so it has no traction." --Sheldon "Captain Bike" Brown

"Some young, strong and idealistic riders ride fixies with no brakes other than the fixed wheel and slow only with the strength of their legs. Most folks with a respect for physics and a desire to live opt for at least a front brake. Old, un-cool people like me have both front and rear brakes on their machines." --Kent Peterson

Like I said, ride with brakes or without, just don't try to rationalize a decision that's not based on logic and common sense. Ride brakeless all you want, it's still (kind of) a free country. Just don't believe your own bullshit, and don't blame anyone except yourself if you're unlucky enough to have something go terribly wrong. Taking possession and ownership of your decisions, and the responsibility of the results both good and bad, is power. Falling victim to your own rationalizing is weakness.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I must admit I find all the speculation and soul searching about Floyd just a little bit amusing. I'm even amused at myself for getting caught up in it. We seem driven by a need to believe and to disbelieve all at the same time. And so all this ongoing talk is just a way to keep alive the paradoxes that somehow define us.

In any case, here are two more perspectives on the matter, in case you haven't heard enough already:

#1 Drugs can't ruin a good story
So then Landis goes and tests positive ... I don't feel betrayed or let down, because I now know enough about testosterone to know that Landis didn't decimate the competition on the road into Morzine by using a drug. If it had been EPO or some sort of blood doping, that would be different. But testosterone doesn't enhance performance in that fashion. I think the sadness I feel (in addition to being a little appalled at how quickly he's been crucified, and the fact that self-serving individuals and organizations are using him to further their own agendas -- I'm talking to you Dick Pound and Greg Lemond, and even, to a lesser extent, Bill Plaschke), is an almost childlike sense of innocence lost.

#2 Wash your bottles
Now the news about Mr Landis, and my initial reaction was crushing. Against my better judgement I'd been rooting for the guy, hoping that somehow this Tour would be better, that things were on the upswing. But they are not. After about 24hr I had become resigned to it. But then the scientist kicked in. One of the dirty little secrets of antibody-based testing is that the test is only as good as the specificity of the antibody, and that is sometimes not as good as we would like. The T/E test would be done by ELISA, an antibody-binding based test. Mr Landis's team need to make sure that what has been detected as testosterone is actually testosterone and not something else that cross-reacts with the Anti-T in the ELISA. They need to insist on a second method used in parallel that will give a more authentic identification of the testosterone, as well as an independent measure of the level. I would recommend Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS) or High-Performance Liquid Chromatograpy-MS if there is enough sample. The chief suspect for cross-reactivity in my opinion would be plasticisers (probably phthalate esters) and the most likely source would be those 70 bottles. I'm sure the team mechanics didn't carefully soak and wash them before use, the phthalate esters can be absorbed through the skin as well as through the gut, and I've personal experience of these compounds interfering with steroid assays (although it wasn't an ELISA test). Only when the high testosterone value is confirmed should there be a search for the reason for it, and Mr Landis may be doing himself a disservice with all this public speculation (now there's Jack Daniels as well as the beer?!)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

proof update?

well, it doesn't really feel like much of a step forward, although they got the lettering on the collar right... the collar was the original colour they gave for the sides, then I asked them to get it closer to the logo... I guess someone's colour-blind.

Not as bad as the person who doesn't speak English or ride bikes doing the lettering on Hal's hat. The original said "singiespeed"... maybe we should have just left it.

bike club lives on monday nights

okay, the pictures are a little blurry, but here is the evidence the bike club lives; a sweet ride to vj's following the living legends game on monday.

the decision is made - no pizza -VJ's

bikes take up way less space than cars

burgers, dogs and fries at 11:00


Some sort of explanation would seem to be in order for this latest twist in the plot. Don't know why this wasn't made known earlier. Courtesy of
The New York Times edition of Tuesday, August 1 has published information which substantiates previous reports in French L'Equipe newspaper, according to which exogenous, synthetic testosterone was found in Floyd Landis' A sample of July 20. A source "within the UCI anti-doping department, with knowledge of the result" Landis' probe returned, said in an interview that some of the testosterone in his body had come from an external source and was not produced by his system.

The Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry test (IRMS), which differentiates between natural and synthetic testosterone, was done after Landis' ratio of testosterone/epitestosterone was found to be more than twice what is allowed under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, the person said.

Landis' personal doctor, Dr. Brent Kay of Temecula, California, told the New York Times he hoped that the results of the test and of the initial T/E test were false positives. He did, however, confirm rumours that the initial test found a ratio of 11/1 in Landis's system. He and Landis are seeking an explanation for that high level.

The result of Landis' B sample is expected to be known before the week-end.