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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back on the truck, and thinking of getting a generator light for it anyway. I'd like to either make the Gazelle more cargo-friendly or make the Xtra less battery-dependent. Still contemplating the spokelights. Everybdoy I've shown them to has had the same response: COPS! I am fairly sure that's what inspired the odd chuckle from that pedestrian on my way in last Friday, too.
So... I think I simply might just have to do a sociological survey and ride with these puppies and see who notices what. Will the next football game be at night? Shall I direct traffic? Will I be able to find the other black glove to complete the outfit? Riding the black bike with the reflective black and yellow gear, I have already been mistaken for a police woman by a child once. With red and blue lights and the gear and the Gazelle... What are the possibilities?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

an endorphin day :)

Four of us for the saunter. I took the Xtra 'cause I just don't know the "Gazellephant" (Richard McCLary's term, and accurate considering her heft and color).

Borderline brutal winds, but we took the bike path out of town on Windsor which was somewhat sheltered. Turned North on Rising Road and then went one more brutal mile before turning back and sailing on home.

Just enough effort to feel CHARGED.

Meijer's is coming to the corner of Windsor and PHilo. Could be a golden opportunity for low-hanging fruit. More to come.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fend For Yourself: How to build fenders out of old campaign signs (kindly wait 'til after the election).

Rode in the rain, damp and thrilling; in the right clothes, not too chilling!
Not a childlike, abandoned exuberance; a mature, mellow joy of harmonious engineering and highly pleasant sloppiness kept in its place. I didn't have anything to wring out, though things are damp around the edges. Putting them near the computer should boost our humidity and dry 'em out :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Breathtaking Gazelle
Delicious engineering
elegant smooth ride

integrated love
deepest joy in pedalling
no need to attach

just to enjoy

(That's for all those blogs I found the other day with poems about their bicycles!)

I'm accustomed to seeing the debris from fender-crundhers in the intersections, but I have to say this is the first time I"ve seen a bicycle chain. I do hope it wasn't accident debris.

Bigsmallall gathering today at the assembly hall. Last time I was there was singing with Kenny Rogers - when one of our group fell off the stage ... and has, amazingly, fully recovered (4 cracked vertebrate, 78 years old... some people are truly unstoppable!!). Much less eventful day :) Lots of discussion of goals and objectives. Next step is trying to encourage implementation... welp, we'll see. Our facilitator at our table was great (very down-to-earth and receptive to what we were saying) and left knowing that it's bike routes, not paths :) :)

Leaving to get my gazelle within the hour... might ride it tomorrow, since it will be all kinds of rainy. Pictures will come...

Weather channel has a lovely autumn scene of a cyclist cruising down a path full of leaves.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I drove Sunday to the concert, because Cindy needed a ride. It's been a week and a half, after all.

It's chilly today but there were at least a dozen cycles on the way here. Guess they found their gear!! Keep on commuting!

Tomorrow is bigsmallall so I'm taking the day off. I'm also picking up the gazelle - more car miles :(

Link of the day: - I'm not sure how far this "sultry librarian" search engine goes into the PG-13 range but it *is* a real search engine. It's just got a librarian who has a fairly deep repertoire of comebacks. At one point she said "you give good search" and took out a riding crop... and there are responses to specific search terms, such as those that include "music" or "shop." Enjoy! (Or not... but you've been warned!)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

In for a tube, out with a gazelle

Looks like I will soon be the proud owner of a 2003 Gazelle. I went in to shoot the breeze and by a tube... and this fellow had come in for advice about selling his bike before he went back home... and the advice had been "it just needs to find the right person." I've drooled over Gazelles since somebody parked one outside the Bread Company one Friday night. I even went online to see if I could get one. Not likely.
It isn't a *really* good fit, though I can do a fair amount of adjusting. And maybe it will be the right bike for Pete, not me, though I think the step-through frame might not suit him. It weighs 50 pounds and it's just sweet :-)

Multi-use clash

The saunter crashed today on the last stretch of path in front of Meadowbrook Park - some fun-loving girls who were paying absolutely no attention to anything but whatever game they were playing that was using the path as a playground made it impossible to get by. I had approached and almost hit one who was running forward and weaving around while looking backwards at her friends, and had hollered at her to watch where she was going... but the adult in the group was not able to get their attention. THey did seem chastened... but I hope it was real, and these aren't a whole herd of future cell phone users. Grrrr.... I know, we should have been on the street :-)

I'd almost brought the group down with my calm, analytical automataci response to a gnat getting in my eye while driving near construction with traffic passing us... I said "stopping, I have dsomething in my eye," but it wasn't in anything *like* that voice I used on the girl on the path, so nobody heard it as such and almost ran me over...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Yellow is good!
I was going out of the college via Duncan, but remembered I had to go to the bank, and turned around. I upped my caution meter because I was going differently than I usually do - and backwards (tho' I suppose evening class people might have been going in; most people were leaving) and at the three-way stop I remember thinking "she's first... no, I was here first, I should go," and then realizing that she was going anyway, and giving her room before accelerating through as she waved to me... and I recognized her and thought, "I didn't think she was a bicycle disser!"
She met me in the parking lot this a.m. to apologize - seems her rear-view mirror created a blind spot about the size of a bicycle, and that only the yellow rendered me visible, which freaked her out.
I explained to her that it wasn't nearly as close as she thought because I could tell she hadn't seen me (it's interesting that my brain processed it as "she was there first, because she's driving that way"). And her caution meter has gone up five-fold. My caution meter has been notified that if I *think* somebody was first, I should prob'ly act as if they were, because I'm probably thinking that because they're going to go anyway. Or something like that.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Oh, and I have not been buried too deeply in anything not to have noticed the news. I reckon I don't have enough keywords for google to mark me as a terrorist, but just might. I figure the Powers that Be are going to permit some dis*senting blogs in the name of appearances of freedom... even this one with some really cute bumper stickers. Gotta love the upside down elephants1

Audio file of Ed Barsotti's hour on WILL:
(Go there! At least click on it... maybe WILL will realize how many cyclists are listeners when it gets a lot of hits ... or it'll make their "archives" list that they re-run on holidays) I'm about to go renew my membership...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Under the radar ...

Saturday after the concert I rode back home, through campus. It was 5:00 ish. Game time, 6:00. Not a ton of traffic... but lots of traffic regulation, and here I am heading to exactly that part of campus, and the road's blocked off. I'm wondering if I'll regret going through when I see there's a cop directing traffic, and sending the cars around... sending official folks through... and waving me straight through. Other traffic directing type folks seemed to think I should definitely have free passage directly towards the stadium. (heading away from it wasn't really an issue.)
I wonder if they would like to encourage cylcing traffic to games.

Last night, on the other hand, was extremely wet :-) In the am.mHad to put a big box on the back of the bike and get it to the post office, where I was accosted as I attempted to lock my bike to the parking meter. When the guy pointed to the bike racks that are about 50 yards away, I just said, "Oh, I'm just dense," and made to move over... and the guy with him made a point to ask about my bike and how the "xtra" rides.
Of course, that made me a little late, and then I realized I'd forgotten my clothes to change into ... so I zipped back (but it's an extra 1.2 miles for bj!!!) ... and I had a tailwind, so I managed to get here at 9:01 without being in a *total* lather (and since I had clothes to change into it didn't really matter).

I lied to the lady who offered me a ride because I really wanted to see if this would cross the comfort threshold. Nope. Warm and quite pleasant, if very, very, wet. I had to dodge that flooded section of Country Fair, so took Clark back and basically went slowly. but MacGyver would be proud of me. I dropped new batteries 'way down in my HokeySpokes (it's three batteries going straight down)... and the sproingy thing that makes them connect and light things up was blechified. How to reach???? Ah! There's this copper wire I refused to throw out from at least a year ago because when you really need a long skinny thing, you really need a long skinny thing... and it's right there! stretch it out... stick it down... rattle it around... The sproingers are sproinging again (instead of sploitching into the side of the hokeyspoke).
Alas, I have no ductape to put the newly batteried light on, so I'll have tos tick to the oldly batteried... but hmmm.... maybe that copper wire will wrap around and do the trick... Okay dampness, here I come!
Tonight there *was* a good turnout at the meeting, with several public speakers. Scot said stuff about the positives of cycling and I said afterwards we need to make sure that when we talk about cycling it's not always in terms of "safety" but inh terms of FUN. (I remember reading somewhere that people aren't always talking about "skiing safety" - but talke about dangerous!)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Finally somebody put the letter in that I was waiting for... the "cars are bigger than bikes. If you ride one and get hit, that's your problem." He also whined that nothing but a life sentence to jail would suffice to us.

I hope somebody replies (they only take one letter a month and I've done mine)...
A car doesn't have a chance against a tractor trailer, either. However, if a truck driver creams somebody, there will be consequences for the driver. We may even have consequences for the people who gave him his license...

The implication seems to be that there are these roaming wild vehicles that we need to dodge. Those vehicles are not self-propelled. THey have *drivers* in them who are supposed to be able to control them.

Nobody ever suggested anything like life in jail, so I guess he had to make that up so his argument would sound less absurd. It doesn't seem too farfetched, though, that if somebody proves rather convincingly (I'd say four tickets within two years which include killing somebody does this) that one is not ready for the responsibility of handling a car, that that privilege should be suspended. Not life in prison - but it would be rather fitting if the driver found herself, perhaps, riding a bicycle to get where she needs to go.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

31 degrees, 12 mph west wind and bright, bright sun
I did have words with a driver... I was cruising down a residential street and this chick in a pickup was coming out of her driveway, payng more attention to the car coming the other way than myself, especially given the parked pickup obscuring the view. I hollered a "Heelloooooo" but Sure enough, she just kept coming and would have plowed into me had I not anticipated it. When she saw me, she lifted a hand in a completely ambiguous acknowledgement gesture. I heard myself say "THank you for not killing me!" in my best "project your voice through the audience" voice... I'm grateful it was that and not something I wouldn't want children to hear, 'cause I'm sure people heard it.

Welp, I've done the same thing once or twice (actually, it's another reason I ride... I don't want to cream anybody), and it wasn't even really close, and I honestly think she'll be more careful tomorrow morning.
ONly saw two other cyclists on the ride in. I wish the chill hadn't come so suddenly; people might have been seduced into gradually riding in conditions a little more challenging.

And I gotta get out and finish that map stuff...

I DROVE yesterday for a mess of gastric and other reasons. It is very foreign feeling.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Another one doesn't bite the dust ... on an impulse I revisited the "bikeblogs" link. Seems it hasn't been updated since about the time I put mine in (and suggested a commuter subgroup). Like so many things online, it doesn't actually die, it just sits out there.

Letter got printed (but it's not online) in Sunday's News-Gazoo. People around here noticed (tho' they had to do a double take on my name 'cause it was Susan, not Sue). More people have written letters. Happily there's been only one from "the other side," and that was a general vent about cyclists who drive badly ... of course, that has nothing to do with the fatality in question. However, none of the stuff that trolls send to websites was there.

Speaking of trolls, the crazybikerchick had over a hundred comments in reply to her letter which I borrowed from for mine. Overwhelming majority of "amen!" responses, a few obvious trolls ("bikers suck, I'll mow you down"), and a few posts with the "roads were made for cars" reply. This site got enough airplay that I believe, if there *were* a consolidated "anti-bike" group, somebody would have posted it there to drive anti-cycle webtraffic there. NOt sure what that means, since an awful lot of thinking deleterious to cycling is just so ingrained it doesnt' *need* to be organized. Maybe it means if cyclists get a tiny bit organized we can chip away at that deleterious ("what are they doing out there anyway?") thinking.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Did I ever want to get out andride?

I was asked this at the bike club Friday dinner. The question was met with a bemused silence... (um, did I ever ride?????) and then he qualified “On a motorcycle. You used to, right?”

I answered that I didn't know with some curiosity and interest, mentioning that it always had been scary... and heard a little voice in my head muttering Christine Lavin's "good thing he can't read my mind."
Upon consideration...

Fact is, when I bought that Yamaha 250 in my early teaching career, it was because I wasn't brave enough to get a bicycle. I'd considered it, and the usual “shower, clothes, logistics” questions came to play. My daily commute was 3 miles, but I did like to cruise 33 to Mom's house many weekends, and was it about the same distance to the Birchmere?

That sense of freedom, of power between my legs, and camaraderie with fellow bikers – I came to love it. I've got it tenfold now. Granted, I do miss getting that solidarity wave/nod/smile that the motorbikers gave me, but there are some similar exchanges with the two-wheelers, especially if I'm on the Xtra, and I think they may be on the upswing. Maybe I need to invent a solidarity sign.

The power thrill is much sweeter when the power is from my legs, the freedom deeper and wider when I've covered 50 miles under my power, especially when it's 50 miles I needed to travel and would have done in the car. (Bloominton & back was delicious.)

Fact is, I can no longer experience untrammeled rejoicing in the cacophony of a fossil fuel driven vehicle, per Bicycling as a Lenten Practice. I know that if I hopped on a bike I could and would take the joy that moment provided, especially if it were in good company. Speed, however, has never been what thrilled me; the wind and the power and, to be honest, the smallness and relative simplicity are what warmed my heart. A motorcycle was a step in the right direction - but I'm further along the path now. Let's go, Big Red. Solidarity forever!

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Sometimes it's a little hard to park the limo!!

Took some pics of the other bikes ... find a way to get them to Rickey, so he can see that yea, people ride real bikes here :-)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Last night's meeting was encouraging, nested in between a lot of weirdness and a very squishy tire, and discovering I can't find my road morph. I'm afraid I've probably left it out on the bike someplace too public, so I've repaced it (now that I have my wallet and can!). If it reappears, one of 'em will actually get mounted on my fast bike's frame.
What we talked about last night was that idea of shifting public awareness and opinion, not just pushing for change. We listened to the ideas that worked for the Smoke-Free Alliance, who with a 3-4 year campaign have gotten an ordinance passed banning smoking in restaurants & bars, starting in January, in Urbana and CHampaign (tho' I'm not exactly sure I have all these details right; all I know is The Iron Post just mmiight get some of my business then, since I like the music). The importance of this struck home this morning as I walked through the college and overheard a discussion: "And who is *really* going to enforce the smoking ban? It's going to be the public..."
Not only does general-public-opinion rather strongly affect our odds of getting changes in, say, road and path construction, but in the longer term stuff after that, and of course our general necks and safety right now. The Smoke-Free folks worked hard to "tip" people who were curious and educable. THey found converts (the Applebee's fellow who was very surprised and did a turnaround when his restaurants in towns that went smoke free did *not* lose money).
Our speaker also talked about the idea of "changing normalcy."
When someone rides down Randolph wiht kids, people shout and are alarmed that those poor children are being endangered.
I guess they look at it as if the kids were walking down the street ... in a bad neighborhood. They're being endangered.
Why do we accept that our streets are "bad neighborhoods" to be on, dangerous places to broach? WOuldn't it be excellent - and worth aiming for - to have streets that everybody *knew* were so safe, and drivers so courteous that - oh, my heavens!! - a person could ride a bicycle down them... maybe even with kids ... and that people DID this, on a regular basis, because it was a nice, normal thing to do?
I"m not suggesting this for Springfield or University (dodge those ambulances, do!). Randolph, though... Main... Race... c'mon, let's dream!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Okay, on a more serious movement note: Today the News-Gazette wrote up the legalities of the "guilty pleas in traffic fatalities." Even factoring in the general News-Gazette reporting fallibilities, it's downright galling. Essentially, gosh, accidents happen, sorry you're dead. If a driver didn't intend to kill you, then it's not wilful disregard for your safety. Folks, there's a very serious reading comprehension issue here. "Disregard" means you are NOT REGARDING my safety. IT doesn't mean you want to kill me, it means you are doing whatever you want to, even though if you thought about it - regarded it - yhou would realize it was endangering others' lives. Downloading ringtones, applying makeup, dialing up that cell phone... folks, you KNOW that's dangerous and you do it anyway. *That's* when you're showing the wilful disregard.
The fact that a heck of a lot of drivers could get busted for it does NOT change that. People don't drink that fifth beer and go driving because they want to kill somebody... yet if they so much as weave enough to get pulled over, there are serious consequences. They don't have to actually hurt somebody. Let's have a tiny bit of consistency here.

Anyway, here's what will be my letter to the editor in the morning. I suspect the one I send to the S.A. will go a little over that 250 word max. for the paper.

To the editor:

States Attorney Julia Reitz was quoted in the News-Gazette : “ People drive negligently and cause accidents. Because accidents result in fatalities does not justify charging the driver with a felony.”

I beg to differ. Consciously deciding to distract oneself while driving fast enough to kill is wilfully disregarding the safety of others.

“People drive negligently and cause accidents.” Is the law not there to protect citizens from dangerous, deadly behavior by others? Shouldn't that include cyclists and pedestrians?

Why is it asking too much that people drive attentively? Yes, it may interfere with “personal freedoms.” I find it terrifying that Julia Reitz finds someone’s personal freedom to impair their driving more important than the more fundamental freedom to survive riding on the roadways. Unfortunately, our laws and roadways seem to be designed with this same mindset.

As a cyclist, I’m grateful every day to drivers who leave a safe distance passing me, who slow down a few extra yards to make that right turn behind me, who let me across to make a left hand turn. Leaving space always makes driving safer. When we work cooperatively on the roads instead of competing, we can all get where we are going, safely and with less stress. Thank you for respecting my freedom to ride my bicycle and for my life; I’ll gladly afford you the same consideration .

I can only pray * and vote * that the law comes to expect the same.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006


From Gary Cziko... I think it's time for a MOVEMENT here:

Here's the latest addition to my UIUC bike path photo collection at

I thought I had seen just about everything possible parked on campus bike
paths (trucks, cherry pickers, refuse containers, traffic barriers, etc.).
But here's a brand new way to get doored on a bike (the usual way is by
drivers exiting parked cars without checking for traffic, and it can be

It seems to me that potties opening into bicycle traffic should at least
have a (one-way?) window with rear-view mirror to allow users to check for
traffic before exiting.

More seriously, it's really hard for me to understand the decision making
that goes into something like this. I think portable potties are a great
idea and I am very happy to find one when needed. But I don't understand why
it is so hard for those involved in potty placement and other such
operations to understand that bicycle paths should be kept clear for


(October 2 that didn't get up here)

.. I was assaulted by acorns... good thing I had a helmet! Windy and warm, so those suckers were just flying off the trees...
and oh, that peer pressure factor! I pulled up to this intersection that has 18 seconds of Walk Only... 99 bikes out of 100 go through. I *usually* don't (especially if there are witnesses), being a Righteous Vehicular Cyclists.
So I'm just perched there as this other cyclist pulls up, and stops... and he's making a left turn, but stops just as I have and waits for the *entire* "walk only" cycle... and there's a truck which he does, indeed, dash off in front of as the light turns green for us. I almost left two seconds early (there's even a countdown on the walk button) just to give him "permission."
Vehicular cycling just maybe might be contagious...

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