Bicycle Diaries: November 2007

Recent Posts



and auto-erotic

Talk about obsessions. In recent weeks the blogosphere has been following the trial & tribulation of one horny Scotsman, Robert Stewart. It seems he enjoys getting off with his favorite means of alternative transportation: a bike.

In court last month, he pleaded guilty for breach of the peace. He was caught having sex with his bike by two maids who had come into his Ayr hotel room to change the sheets. Although he won't be serving any jail time, his name has been added to the UK's Violent and Sex Offender Register. Not that I'm a fan of bike fetishes but isn't this a travesty? When did it become illegal in the UK to have sex with inanimate objects in the privacy of your hotel room?

Meanwhile in Canada, Sandy Wong has been convicted of repeated acts of public indecency. It seems he enjoys jerking off on expensive, new cars ... in public. Over the last year, he's been arrested three separate times for skinning the monkey on the hoods of a Mini Cooper and a $50,000 BMW sedan, which was on display at an auto show. According to a psychiatrist, Wong claims to be especially attracted to the roof tops of BMWs because they're curved like a woman's body; the sex appeal - it felt good.

The Smoking Gun
reports that Wong also gets aroused by such classic models as the 1967 Camaro, 1955 Chevy Bel Air and the 1991 Buick Century. Wong has been sentenced to two years probation and 90 days in jail (which he has previously served). He's also been ordered to follow a strict curfew for the length of his probation.

No word yet on whether the BMW or the Mini will file for restraining orders.

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Snowflake Alleycat

on the south side!

This Sunday, 2 December 2007, Chicago's Southsiders will be hosting an alley cat race starting in Hyde Park. Then it will head through Kenwood and Woodlawn. A top-secret bonfire at the point will hopefully follow. Proceeds from the $10 registration per team will go toward building a bike fleet for the Civic Knowledge Project at the U of C. Donations are also welcome.

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No snow yet

but Steve Lane is ready!

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Why I hate some cagers


Plus ça change...

plus c'est la même chose

Nine countries could kill many people on a moment’s notice by launching missiles carrying nuclear warheads. A 10th, Iran, may be weaponizing uranium. The U.S., Russia and China can bomb virtually any country with long-range ballistic missiles and, along with France and the U.K., could do the same using submarines. The effects of even one bomb could far exceed the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Nuclear Threat, Scientific American, November 2007

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At the top of my voice

Владимир Маяковский
(Vladimir Mayakovsky)

Russia's original bad-boy poet and avid biker, Mayakovsky would deliver his manuscripts to the publishers by bike. It's not that he was a starving artist who couldn't afford a car. Far from it: his poetry was the toast of the 1920s hipster scene in Moscow. Along with Burliuk, Kruchenykh, and Khlebnikov, he founded The Russian Futurists. They were fascinated by dynamism, speed, and the restlessness of modern urban life. Nothing was more representative of the power of the modern than the bike.

Cars were more powerful. Trains were faster. Planes touched the clouds. But the bike was the cutting edge of the modern world coming to revolutionary Russia. Every man, woman, and child could be totally in control of their own personal means of mass-produced, mechanized freedom. Although Mayakovsky started out with the Anarchists, he threw his creativity into the Bolshevik movement. He committed suicide in Moscow on 14 April 1930. In his suicide note Mayakovsky wrote:
Mother, sisters, friends, forgive me - this is not the way (I do not recommend it to others), but there is no other way out for me.
Lily - love me.
Here's my favorite bike poem he wrote.
My most respected
... Professor,
take off your bicycle glasses!
I myself will tell

about my time
........and about myself.

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Madonna del Ghisallo

the Patron Saint of Bikers

She's also known as Our Lady of Ghisallo and the Madonna of Ghisallo. Medieval legend says that Count Ghisallo was traveling near the village of Magréglio. There he was attacked by highway bandits. Spotting a image of the Virgin Mary in a roadside shrine, he broke away from his attackers and ran to it. There he took refuge, or perhaps hid behind it, pled for Our Lady's protection. He was miraculously saved from the robbers. As the story spread, the Madonna del Ghisallo became known as patroness of local travelers.

From the late 19th century onward, bikers would often stop to rest and pray at the chapel. It's also at the top of a really steep hill. The Passo del Ghisallo is situated in Lombardy. Starting from Bellagio, the Passo del Ghisallo is 10,6 km long. Over this distance, you climb 552 height meters. The average percentage is thus 5.2 %.

After WW II, Father Ermelindo Vigano, pastor at the shrine, proposed Ghisallo as the site of an Italian biker shrine. On 13 October 1949, Pope Pius XII proclaimed her the patroness of bikers. The chapel is now equal part religious shrine, part biking museum, with artifacts and photos. It has grown in importance over the years and is now a fixture on the route of many races, gran fondos, and rides.

There is an eternal flame that burns there in memory of the cyclists of are no longer with us, and services each Christmas Eve and the Feast of All Souls commemorate them.

This huge bronze sculpture commemorates the fallen cyclist, and the other reaching for the heavens.

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True gentlemen

the Cyclists Touring Club Chorus

I like to jump upon a bike and pedal around the countryside
I like to jump upon a bike along the open road I ride;
I was crazy over Hiking, but now I’m happier when I’m biking
I like to jump upon a bike and pedal along, singing a song, over the countryside.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
North Cotswold Cycling Club

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Wheels of a clown...

when the
whole world's

Late in 2004, Alvaro Neil decided to leave his job in Spain and spend his time giving smiles around the world ... by bike. He calls his project MOSAW, or Miles Of Smiles Around The World. What he does is perform as a clown wherever he ends up.

He first crossed 10 countries in South America, then returned to Spain and published his book Kilometres of Smiles. After that, he crossed the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa. After 415 days of travel, passing through 19 countries along some 19,000 km of bike unfriendly roads, he made it to South Africa in January 06. Along the way he performed for 100s and 100s of kids; in Tanzania, for example, he put on his act for over 3,000 refugees.

Neil is now in Cairo. He'll perform at the Alwan Wa Awtar Organisation in Muqattam as well as the St. Joseph College. He'll also give workshops for local clown wannabes. You can read his bicycle diaries at his website, Biciclown.

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1 World, 2 Wheels

the Trek commitment

Over on its corporate website, Trek has announced this new initiative based on the premise the bicycle is a simple solution to some of the world's most complicated problems. It's aim is to build a community of people who go by bike. The key goal of One World, Two Wheels is to increase US trips taken by bicycle to 5% from the current 1% by 2017. With nearly 40% of car trips taken being under two miles, it's an achievable goal. So, The solution to some of the world's biggest problems is in your garage, states website.

Trek is committing $1.6 million over the next three years to support the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Community Campaign and to fund trail development with IMBA, The International Mountain Bicycling Association. It is also challenging its retail dealers network to strengthen bike advocacy efforts in their communities. To aid them, Trek is supplying how-to materials and has hired a full time advocacy director.

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La bicyclette de vol

the flying bicycle
100 years on...

Most bike geeks know that Henry Ford built his first automobile, the Quadricycle, largely out of bike parts. Fewer, I think, realize that he wasn't alone in advancing transportation technology using bits & pieces of the humble bike. One hundred years ago this month; 13 November to be precise, a French bike builder and mechanic, Paul Cornu, launched the first ever flying bicycle.

Starting the engine on the strange twin-rotor machine, La bicyclette de vol, Cornu lifted off the ground, and fluttered above the grass in Lisieux, France for a few moments. The world's first helicopter was born.

Unfortunately, the 24-horsepower engine lacked the lift to get off ground for much longer. It also had no effective means of control and so was abandoned after a few flights. However, Cornu became the first, and perhaps only, bike-maker to achieve vertical flight with with his odd assortment of bike parts.

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Ride earth

1145 days on the road
15200km cycled
112 countries visited
10 punctures sustained
11 bout of food poisoning endured
14 nights’ accommodation paid for
141 nights’ accommodation freely found in homes, garages, gardens, fields, boats, boatyards, caravans, barns, cowsheds, quaysides, beaches…

On the 17th of June 2007, Tom Allen and Andrew Welch set out from their homes in England, in an attempt to bike round the world. The entire planet? Why?

Their aim is to have and inspire others to have a great adventure, promote mountain biking as a lifestyle and mode of sustainable transport, and provide coverage for their charities whose work aims to help create a sustainable and environmentally-stable future for the planet and the human race.

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The 2 Mile Challenge

from Clif Bar

Launched in September, the campaign is asking Americans to ride your bike to fight global warming. Although we have the highest per capita bike ownership, we're at the bottom of the list for using them. Clif Bar founder Gary Erickson explains,
Forty percent of urban trips in the United States are two miles or less, but people use their cars nearly ninety percent of the time for those short jaunts. If we rode bikes for those two-mile trips, we’d get in shape, unclog our roads and spare the planet from millions of tons of car-belching carbon emissions.

The 2-Mile Challenge website has a Google interactive map that lets you enter your zip code, to see what kind of destinations are within 2 miles of your home. These destinations include bike shops, grocery stores, bars and restaurants, parks, banks, and public transportation. So if one million people replaced a two-mile car trip, once a week, with a bike ride, CO2 emissions would be reduced by 50,000 tons per year.

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Copenhagen traffic taming

with the Grøn Bølge

A system of linked traffic lights, translated as The Green Wave, literally gives bikers a green light on a 2 km route in the heart of the city ... if they roll along at 20 km per hour. Although most folks don't have speedometers they can adjust their speed using their experience, without electronic interference, and enjoy an uninterrupted ride to and from work.

The Green Wave was initially introduced in Odense, a suburb outside Copenhagen. Project manager Troels Andersen believed bikers' commutes were improved greatly:
The light signals are usually put up for the sake of cars. Therefore many cyclists have to stop a lot of times. If a cyclist adjusts the speed to the green wave, the ride will be more comfortable.

This video clip from Cycling Scotland shows the 12 traffic lights along the route in and out of the city. Before noon, the green wave applies to traffic entering the city; after noon, to bikers leaving. Most of the stretches featuring the Green Wave have 15,000 - 30,000 bikes per day.

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Voyage on a bike

Rotoscope animation of the hyperactive transient mind of the heroic traveler, by Natalie McKeever, a video student at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

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Guantánamo - 6 years on

a denim jacket
for your time

Number of “high-value detainees” now at Guantánamo:

Approximate percentage of detainees found to have committed “hostile acts” against the United States or coalition forces before detention:

Approximate number of countries of which detainees are citizens:

Most represented countries at Guantánamo:
Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen

Cost of building Guantánamo high-security detention facilities:
about $54 million

Estimated annual cost of operating Guantánamo:
$90 million to $118 million

Cost of “expeditionary legal complex” for the military commission (under construction):
$10 million to $12 million

Number of books in the Guantánamo detention library:

Number of Korans issued to detainees from January 2002 to June 2005:
more than 1,600

Number of daily calories per detainee:
Up to 4,200, including halal meat

Average weight gain per detainee:
20 pounds

Number of pills dispensed per day:
1,000, to 200-300 detainees

Number of apparent suicides:

Number of apparent suicide attempts:
41, by 25 detainees
(as of May 2006)

Number of detainee assaults on guards using “bodily fluids”:
more than 400

Date of first visit to Guantánamo by the International Committee of the Red Cross:
Jan. 18, 2002

Approximate number of visits by lawyers to Guantánamo detainees so far this year:

Month of first habeas corpus petition filed to challenge detention at Guantánamo:
January 2002

Number of habeas corpus petitions filed in federal courts on behalf of detainees:
roughly 300

Number of detainees designated by the president as “eligible” for trial by military commission:

Number actually charged with crimes (for example, murder and material support for terrorism):

Number of pending cases:

Number of convictions:
(an Australian who pleaded guilty to material support of terrorism and was sentenced to nine months of confinement in his home country)

Estimated number of detainees who may be charged in the future:

Month of first release of a detainee:
May 2002
(one detainee repatriated to Afghanistan because of an “emotional breakdown”)

Approximate number of detainees released:

Approximate number of current detainees found eligible for transfer or release:

Countries to which Guantánamo detainees have been transferred:
Albania, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, Yemen

Most recent announced transfer of detainees from Guantánamo:
Nov. 4
(eight to Afghanistan, three to Jordan)

Personal items provided to detainees upon departure:
a Koran, a denim jacket, a white T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, high-top sneakers, a gym bag of toiletries and a pillow and blanket for the flight home

Number of detainees said by Pentagon to have resumed hostile activities against the United States after release:
at least 30

Number of United States senators who voted in favor of a nonbinding resolution that Guantánamo detainees “should not be released into American society, nor should they be transferred stateside into facilities in American communities and neighborhoods”:

Number of bills in Congress calling for the closing of Guantánamo:

Number of members of the House of Representatives who signed a letter to President Bush in June 2007 urging him to close Guantánamo and move the detainees to military prisons in the United States:

Number of Republicans who signed the letter:

Democratic presidential candidates who are on record supporting closing Guantánamo:

Republican presidential candidates who are:
(John McCain and Ron Paul)

Closest American allies that have called for Guantánamo’s closing:
Britain, France, Germany

Next scheduled legal test of the Guantánamo system:
Boumediene v. Bush, a challenge to the denial of habeas corpus, set for argument before the Supreme Court on Dec. 5

From Guantánamo by the Numbers, by David Bowker and David Kaye, NYTimes, 10 November 2007.

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Münster traffic taming

from Germany's
bike capital

This poster, recently published by the City of Münster Planning Office, shows the street space taken up by the same number of passengers using cars, buses or bikes. Hardly surprising; Münster is known as Die Fahrradstadt, or The Bike Capital, of Germany. Bikes or Leezen, as they are known locally, are the most common means of transportation in the city.

Each day over 100,000 Münster residents ride their bikes. In fact, with around 500,000 bikes in Münster, the number of cycles is nearly double the number of residents. And more than 60% of the population travels by train, bus, bicycle or just walks.

Münster has one of the country's most extensive bike paths’ networks. The city's Promenade with its special bike lanes is unique in Europe. A complete network of wide bike paths and roads open exclusively to cyclists can be found throughout Münster. Many of the city's one-way streets can be used by bikes travelling both directions.

A special underground bike park at Münster's main train station, the largest in Germany, has secure space for over 3,000 bikes along with a rental service. As a result, Münster has become the international leader in alternative transportation: more than 30% of all those who travel locally now use bikes.

That's the equivalent of 900,000 bikes on the streets of Chicago!

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Dear cagers-

some helpful info
about us
from IDOT

for two eternal questions:
Why do we bike?

Why can't we all
just get along?

why we hate doors

and the dreaded
The Squeeze Play

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On the 11th hour...

of the 11th day
of the 11th month,
89 years ago,
World War I or

the Great War or
the '14-'18 War;
the War to
End All Wars,

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae
12 November UPDATE

Paul Tibbets
1915 - 2007
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from the dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Randall Jarrell

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The Sadie Hawkins Day Race/Style Ride

tonight at 6pm
at Humboldt Park!

It's a on-street, in-traffic, point-to-point bike adventure for couples or pairs. At registration you're given a list of places to pick things up and where to drop them off, and you get to ride around the city doing cool stuff. The ride is less than 20 miles long if you do the whole thing, but if you'd like a shorter ride, that's ok, just skip some stuff. If you skip, you'll still qualify for the style and best dressed prizes, but not the fast people prizes.

There are prizes for the fastest couple, fastest tandem team, fastest out of towners, best dressed, and more. (Tandems are optional but highly encouraged!)

After the ride, we finish at a party with great jams and supercheap beer ($1 for the first beer, $.25 for every one after that.) We're also raffling off a bike paint job ($1 per ticket).

The whole event's a fundraiser for the Chicago Women's Health Center.

Because we're on the street, we strongly encourage riders to wear helmets and have visible lights on their bikes. Bring a pen and something to lock your bike with. Dress it up, have some fun, see ya there!

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