An Open Letter to Cyclists Everywhere

Posted in Uncategorized on 1 October 2010 by The Mechanic

I am rather fed up with my fellow Badger cyclists.  Not a day goes by I don’t have to dodge an idiot running a stop sign at a busy intersection, watch some imbecile barrelling down a sidewalk full of pedestrians, or deal with someone pushing past me while I’m stopped at a red light.  So.

Dear Cyclists,

I’m writing this letter to inform you of some facts which may have eluded you up to this point.  These points will make you safer on the road and less of a trial to deal with.  So pay attention.

This is a stop sign.  Generally these are posted at intersections.  When you see one, you must stop.  It even has that handy text there, just in case you forget.  When you see this sign, it is an indicator that other vehicles may be moving through the intersection at high speeds.  If you don’t stop (like the sign says, see?), you may find yourself being scraped off the pavement.

This is a sidewalk.  Notice how it is a compound of two words – side, and walk.  It’s really a very apt name – it’s on the SIDE of the road, and you WALK on it.  Note how it doesn’t say anything about biking, cycling, riding, or otherwise.  Because you aren’t supposed to bike, cycle, or ride on it.  You are supposed to walk on it.  If you wish to ride a bike, you must ride in the road (it’s that other thing where all the cars are?  If you look, you’ll find it).  If you cannot handle riding in the road, then you must take the bus.  Or walk.  Or just HTFU.  Whatever you do, do not ride your bicycle on the sidewalk.  In the City of Madison, you can get ticketed, and this is the case in most other cities also. Studies have also shown that cars are less likely to see you if you are on the sidewalk, and that sidewalk riding is actually more (like twice as)  dangerous than riding on the road.  You are also more of a hazard to pedestrians.   Exception: if you are a child 12 or under, you can have a pass.  Wear a helmet, kids.

Finally…

This is a traffic light.  A red traffic light, as it happens.  This one is a little tougher than the stop sign, since it doesn’t have that nice, user-friendly word to help you out, but it actually means the same thing.  When you see one of these guys, you must stop.  Because these are generally present at BUSIER intersections.  Where you are more likely to get hit.  By cars.  You know, those big heavy steel death machines that are all out to kill you?  Yeah, those.  If you pedal on through one of these, there is a good chance you will not only find yourself being scraped off the pavement, you’ll probably find yourself scraped off the pavement several tens of yards from where you started.

So there you are, kids.  Just follow these three simple rules and maybe I won’t have to kick you all in the face with my ENERGY LEGS.

Another one bites the dust

Posted in Uncategorized on 2 August 2010 by The Mechanic

Not quite two weeks ago, the world lost a wonderful person.  I didn’t know her personally, but based on the fact that she was a fellow Bike and Builder and the fact that every Bike and Builder I’ve met thus far has been a wonderful person with the intention of doing good in the world, I can only assume Paige was the same.

On July 20, Paige Hicks was struck by a wide-load truck while stopped on the shoulder of Highway 18 in South Dakota.  The truck driver had swerved to avoid her and her riding partner, Brittany Maslowsky, but tragically did not do so quickly enough.  The extra width of the trailer struck Paige, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The entire Bike and Build community has been outstanding in the wake of this tragic event.  Kristian, one of the directors, flew out to provide support to the Providence to Seattle route, on which Paige was a leader.  The members of this route bussed down to St. Louis, MO for the memorial service before returning to the route.  Riders from other routes, past and present, have created tributes to Paige at every opportunity.

Rest in peace, Paige.  You will be missed.

Donation Magic!

Posted in Uncategorized on 8 July 2010 by The Mechanic

Nothing worthwhile is easy, nothing easy is worthwhile.  Wise words, but not always true – last summer, when I did Bike and Build, one of the first things we learned at orientation was that once we got on the road, we wouldn’t be able to swing a pedal wrench without hitting someone who loved what we were doing and wanted to help.  As a result, we would get donations of all sorts – cash, groceries, gas – once, I got us free (amazing!) sandwiches from a small sandwich shop in Mentor, Ohio.  I don’t recall the name of the shop, but the man who owned it was named Dan.  At any rate, it was an amazing gesture.  I have only one picture of this experience, if I recall correctly, the picture was taken right outside the shop, so if you can identify it, +1 internets for you:

Anyway, on July 18th, NUS2010 will be coming through Madison and I’ve volunteered to feed them and am trying to hook them up with grocery donations (and anything else!), but it turns out most larger corporate chains require a 4 to 8 week processing period.  Bummer!  I’m still trying, though, mostly with smaller places.  If anyone knows of an organization in the Madison area that would be willing to donate food of any sort (or anything else) to an awesome group of people trying to make the world a better place, please send me an email!

Harden the Fuck Up

Posted in Uncategorized on 2 July 2010 by The Mechanic

This is a very important aspect of cycling.  Watch and learn.

Pissed First Post

Posted in Uncategorized on 30 June 2010 by The Mechanic

And by pissed, I mean angry.

Madison, Wisconsin has always been a very bike-friendly city.  To my knowledge, we have at least 8 bike shops, and that’s counting Budget Bicycle Center as only one shop, AND not counting any of the shops in Middleton.  Nearly every major road has either a bike lane or a Multi-Use Pathway (MUP) that follows it.  Bicycling magazine ranked Madison the 7th most bike friendly city in the United States.  And, until this morning, I had not had a bike stolen in the almost 3 years I’ve been living here.  But now it’s happened.

I’m not going to divulge any details, only offer some advice.

  1. Use a solid, sturdy U-lock.  Cable locks are easily cut.
  2. ANY lock can be cut – store your bike indoors if at all possible.
  3. Write down your bike’s serial number in a safe place.  Take pictures of it (keep these updated!) and store them with the SN.  The SN can be found underneath the bottom bracket receiver (where your seat tube, chainstays, and downtube meet and the point around which the cranks rotate).