Archive for the 'marginally related' Category

Local Trade School Reinvents Wheel


Yale University has gone off the rails.  First, they issue perhaps the campiest recruitment video in the entire world.  And now, they have literally reinvented the wheel.  This time, no spokes.

Want to ride my bottle opener?

Amazingly, the spokeless rear wheel is only half of the wonder this bike provides.  Personally, I’m more concerned about what Paul Bunyan is going to do when he realizes that the derailleur hanger is missing from his gigantic Diamondback.

Giant proto-hipster?

In conclusion, I’d suggest that the people of Yale continually look over their shoulders for a fast-approaching mythical giant riding a recently-converted Diamondback fixed gear.  I bet Harvard students don’t have that problem. Of course, as you will notice, they follow cycling conventions to the letter: both wheels are perfectly spoked.

Harvard education = don't bend the rules.

Although, I’d hazard a guess that this guy has something up his sleeve:

Don't trust him.

In (a second) conclusion, heed Mulder’s warnings and trust no one.  Wow.  This post is an incoherent rambling mess.  Is it Friday yet?


When it’s too cold to ride, you can always read.

Old-timey literature.

The kind folks at Yale University Press and the University of Toronto Press were generous enough to send me a couple of books about cycling.  Well, to be honest, they arrived via a third-party online book retailer, who was good enough to dispatch these venerable tomes only minutes after I provided my credit card information.  I suppose, therefore, that these are less “review” copies than they are “my legal possessions because I paid full price for them.” The shipping was free, though.  I swear.

The first book is Glen Norcliffe’s The Ride to Modernity: The Bicycle in Canada, 1869-1900. According to the book jacket (which is the literary equivalent of a movie trailer on Youtube), Norcliffe’s “aim is to examine how the bicycle fits into the larger picture of change and progress in a period of dramatic economic, social, and technological flux.”  What’s more, the author “argues that the bicycle led to a host of innovations affecting the development of technology, modern manufacturing, better roads, automobiles, and even airplanes.”  As someone frequently annoyed by cars and generally distrustful of flight, I can only assume this book will make me surrender all my bikes and increase the membership number in groups like this.

The second monograph is David V. Herlihy’s Bicycle: The History.  “In this, the definitive history of the bicycle,” the copy reads, “David Herlihy recounts the saga of this far-reaching invention and the passions it aroused.”  I’ve witnessed some of those passions on INTERNET.  Having only flipped through the book, I can assure you that the font is a nice size and that there are many excellent pictures.  This image, for example, features a woman on a rare left-side drive bicycle (with an early-model carbon drive belt?) attempting her first elephant trunk:

This could also be an advert for Rapha's upcoming Tweed ride.

Two books about the history of cycling.  Given that I’ve just gotten in from a ride and need to warm up, I’ll use them as coasters for my cups of tea while I watch re-runs of Seinfeld.

Pedal quickly to stay warm this weekend. Enjoy.

The Next Hip Thing: Bicycle Clubs

Old-timey fun.

The NYT Spokes section has published a nice history of New York bicycle clubs.  Wheelmen (and women) formed groups to promote cycling, make friends, and encourage social interaction (an especially important element for new immigrants).  Clubs were organized around regions, or ethnicity, or anything else.  They helped train racers, or simply organized leisurely sojourns.  Today, clubs retain many of these elements.

I’ve ridden with a club once.  I was living in Aix-en-Provence, and decided to head out with the local club for one of their weekly Sunday morning rides.  This was my first club run, and I had no idea what to expect.  When I showed up and saw everyone in spandex kits, I got worried.  I learned a lot that day: don’t bring a bag, don’t bring your U-lock, don’t wear cotton shirts, bring power bars.  The ride wasn’t painfully long (95km), but I was not used to riding as part of a team.  I sucked.  I hit the wall.  I dragged my ass back into town a good 45 minutes after everyone else.  I learned my lesson.

Or did I? Perhaps that club just wasn’t for me.  It was a traditional roadie club.  But now, new options are presenting themselves.  Here’s why I think Bike Clubs are the next big thing in urban cycling:

  • everyone loves hanging out with friends.  Add bikes and throw an element of exclusivity into the mix, and you can’t go wrong.
  • urban riders (fixed-gear or not) are slowly chipping away at the roadie domain.  Riding track bikes long distances is, apparently, film-worthy.  Full kit is acceptable, so long as it’s stylish.  However, I suspect that urban bike clubs will wear normal clothes and focus more on pub-crawls than centuries.
  • Clubs, if done right, are pretty much a party on wheels.  Nobody demonstrates this better than The Fucking Bike Club, and I propose all new clubs use the FBC as a template.
  • You can establish a club based on whatever criteria you’d like: gay, academic, indie rock, grrrl power, etc.  You can even start beefs with other clubs, which would be hilarious.
  • finally, Clubs require a witty name, a website, and some kind of uniform.  This demands the skills of an English major, web editor, graphic designer, and silkscreen specialist.  There, you just employed at least half of your club.

This is my prediction for 2010.  Clubs will be the new “thing” among urban riders.  They might be called “gangs,” because urban riders simply cannot use words un-ironically anymore.  See? I just wrote un-ironic instead of sincere. So, go find some friends and do something awesome.

Portland Schmortland: Random Website Thinks Montreal is Better!

Can we be smug now?

If you’re like me, each morning you open up your RSS reader and wait patiently to see what has to say.  Sure, it’s usually boring stock coverage or an article on RSPs, but once in a while the writers hit the nail on the head.  Today was one of those days.  MoneyControl (which is India’s #1 financial portal for a reason) had an article on the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities.  Montreal was listed at #5, which is respectable.  However, PORTLAND WAS #6!  This is a huge boost for Montreal’s quest to make Portland look like a second-rate Eugene, OR (which is itself a third-rate Copenhagen).

MoneyControl’s description of Montreal is quite flattering:

Two years ago, Montreal embarked on a $134 million plan to revamp the city’s bike trails and create a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere. The plan included incorporating bicycle-friendly lock points into standard parking meters. The city currently boasts 2,400 miles of trails with plans to expand. Montreal also has the first urban bike-share infrastructure in North America, the Bixi program.

Now, I’m the last person to be quibbling over details (especially with an online news site that features articles on how a solar eclipse will impact my finances), but 2400 miles — or 3862.425 kms — seems like a lot of trails.  And we’re expanding? No wonder we put Portland to shame.

Perhaps the city would have received a better return for its investment if part of the money that went into constructing our Montreal to Edmonton bike path (a mere 3764 km) was directed to advocacy groups like the WCA.  I’m not complaining, though; that trail makes my commute to the University of Alberta totally manageable.

Le Cyc: Graphic Novel Bicycle Opera

Oppressed much?

I’m bummed that I didn’t catch this earlier.  Le Cyc sounds like a really cool show.  It’s a multi-media graphic novel opera, staged by a group of musicians who got the idea during a cross-Canada bicycle trip. More specifically,

Le Cyc is the story of a surreal bike-powered world where themes of power imbalance and popular revolution collide with carnivalesque images of dictators whose smart-talking parrots perch on impossibly long mustaches. The hour long multimedia program combines dark humour and political satire in a compelling story that raises questions about how power is peddled in society.The project is a collaborative multimedia spectacle combining graphic novel style illustrations that are projected with a live musical narrative by an ecclectic and original 6-piece orchestra. Nearly 400 hand-painted images by visual artist David Willekes depict the gruesome and whimsical tale of Le Cyc. These images, in the somber tones of Willekes’ chosen media, weak coffee and day-old wine, artistically portray the emotive struggles of individuals who stand up against totalitarianism.

The show just got a great review in The Ontarion, but it looks like future shows will be few and far between. However, a limited run DVD release is planned for the Spring, 2010.

Sloan: Hit & Run (not just a catchy EP name)

Underwhelmed (but run over)

If you’re Canadian, you’ve probably heard about Sloan.  If you’re a Canadian and into indie rock, you probably loved Sloan’s album Smeared.  If you’re a Canadian, into indie rock, and a proud Haligonian, you probably begrudgingly enjoy Smeared, think the rest of Sloan’s discography is total shit, and actively argue that Chris Murphy is a giant douche.

Well, Sloan is releasing a new EP entitled Hit & Run, and it’s not just a clever name.  This past July, Chris Murphy was hit by a drunk driver while cycling around Toronto.  His bike was ruined, he was left unconscious, and he suffered a broken collar bone.  Things seem to have healed up and now Sloan is ready to hit the road.

In conclusion, Smeared is a classic, Sloan may (or may not) have sold out by moving to Toronto, but no one deserves to get hit on a bike.  I hope everything goes well on tour.

Enjoy the classic:

Pervert on the loose: Bicycle Groper

Not okay.

If you find yourself wandering around in Winnipeg, keep an eye out for a local pervert who seems to be riding around and groping women.  Apparently police are working on getting a sketch done, which should help.  It is known that the guy is on a mountain bike.  If it happens that he is in fact a professional cyclists, he should be easier to spot:

Don't blame the victim!

Seriously, though.  Don’t grope people.  Thanks.

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