Bicycle Diaries: April 2008

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Davis Bike Church

G-d is in
the dérailleurs

The University of California - Davis has a bike church complete with its own ministers. It's part of the Sustainable Research Area on campus. The purpose is to promote various forms of human-powered transportation including biking.

It offers new and used bikes, parts, and accessories as well as tools and advice on how to fix bikes. The non-profit is operated by volunteers. All donations go to providing the community with more tools and a better workspace.

If you have a bike, bike parts or tools you are no longer using, please consider donating them to The Bike Church: bikeministry at ucdavis dot edu.

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Yup ... Epcot

& I wore
the kilt!

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Common books

on quotations

Nothing was more characteristic . . . in the thirties than the little notebooks with black covers which he always carried with him in which he tirelessly entered in the form of quotations what daily living and reading netted him in the way of “pearls” and “coral.” On occasion he read them aloud, showed them around like items from a choice and precious collection.

Hannah Arendt

Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the
words of another.

Ambrose Bierce

What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.

Mark Twain

Everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not discover it.

Alfred North Whitehead

When a thing has been said and well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.

Anatole France

What's the use of a good quotation if you can't change it?

Doctor Who

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.

Marlene Dietrich

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A biking composer

Sir Edward's fixie

Bike hipsters certainly aren't the first folks to celebrate their fixy obsession with alternative music. Back in 1900, Sir Edward Elgar, the English composer, bought a bought a Royal Sunbeam fixed wheel model with hand polished black enamel finish for £21. He toured regularly until he moved to London in 1910 writing in his journal that his biking experiences had inspired many of his compositions.

So famous was this late blooming love for biking that Worcester City and Malvern Hills District Councils have established The Elgar Trail. It's a 40-mile circular route through two counties taking in over 40 places of interest associated with his life and music.

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Earth Day fatality

and one less
Wrightwood neighbor

Tyler Fabeck
1985 - 2008

The Chicago Tribune reports on 21 April:
The bicyclist killed Sunday when, according to police, he turned in front of an oncoming car loved the sport.

Tyler Fabeck, 22, participated in the Chicago Critical Mass bike rides every month.

"He knew everything about road biking and fixing up your bike," his brother, Jason, 25, said Monday. "I miss him a whole lot."

Tyler Fabeck was riding west on Logan Boulevard and turning south onto Western Avenue when the collision occurred about 1:15 a.m. Sunday, authorities said.
And WBBM 780 reports the stern warning by Chicago's Finest:
The driver of the vehicle was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, but police stressed the importance of cyclists following traffic signals and wearing proper safety gear. Fabeck was not wearing a helmet when he was struck. Head injuries are believed to be the cause of his death, police said. An autopsy is under way.

The captain said this was their first cycling fatality of the season. Officers are being urged to stop cyclists who are violating traffic laws.

"I told roll call, 'If you see a bicyclist violating a law, stop them,'" he said, "It can save their life."

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The earth rolls today

New Madrid Fault

I'm getting ready to fly down to Orlando for a global youth summit. So I'm checking my email and the apartment begins to shake. No big deal, I think, I live along a truck route. Then WBEZ, our local NPR affiliate, announced that the authorities here The Windy City and as far south as Springfield got hundreds of calls reporting an earthquake.

And now the USGS reports it had a magnitude of 5.4! Oddly enough, it's the 102nd Anniversary of the devastating San Francisco Earthquake...

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9 million bicycles

that's a fact

Georgian-born guitarist, Katie Melua, was the UK's best selling female artist in 2004 and 2005. Her music combines London Jazz and Motown in the style of Norah Jones and Nick Drake. Her tone is as sweet and angelic as Kate Bush with a bit Ella Fitzgerald. She has the incredible range of Sinead O'Conner and storyteller cum poet quality of Bob Dylan - a potent elixir that so far, crowds can't get enough of. When not performing, she is The Goodwill Ambassador for Save The Children. One of my favorite songs is Nine Million Bicycles:
There are nine million bicycles in Beijing
That's a fact
It's a thing we can't deny
Like the fact that I will love you till I die

We are twelve billion light years from the edge
That's a guess
No-one can ever say it's true
But I know that I will always be with you

I'm warmed by the fire of your love everyday
So don't call me a liar
Just believe everything that I say

There are six billion people in the world
More or less
And it makes me feel quite small
But you're the one I love the most of all

We're high on the wire
With the world in our sight
And I'll never tire
Of the love that you give me every night

There are nine million bicycles in Beijing
That's a fact
It's a thing we can't deny
Like the fact that I will love you till I die

And there are nine million bicycles in Beijing
And you know that I will love you till I die

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Why the bike riders?

think Yiddish,
roll British

A story told amongst many post-WWI Talmud students:
In 1936 an elderly Jew was walking down a lonely street in Berlin. Suddenly he was accosted by three burly Nazi ruffians, who taunted him. One demanded angrily: "Isn't it true, old man, that the Jews are the cause of all the problems we now have in Germany?" The old man, no fool, replied, "Actually, it's the Jews and the bike riders."

The irate hooligan looked puzzled and asked "Why the bike riders?"
The old man replied:

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Spring is here!


And one month to go
for the Lake Pepin 3speed Tour!

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Kill your TV

& read a book,
damn it!

I just found a great, albeit conservative article, on learning to love books by Byron Borger at Comment. It inspired me to modify his five habits of the passionate book-lover. My additions are in orange. I hope he won't take offense especially since I included this jpeg of what is obviously a VERYpassionate book-lover. And I hope you, my readers, won't take offense either. I am feeling rather mischievous today%)
  • Make a schedule. Don't postpone your reading to the end of the day when you are most tired. Serious reading takes some serious commitments. Use the library or another favorite, quiet spot. Of course, they don't let you drink or smoke in libraries. And there's no opportunity to stop reading for awhile to talk with the regulars.
  • Carry a book with you almost all the time. You can dip in during 'down time' or during unexpected free time. You needn't be anti-social or a show-off about your bookwormish habits. Still, you'd be surprised how much reading you can do on the run. All true except that a good number of folks who see you reading will interupt you to ask what the book is about. If your reading is ecclectic be prepared to get a blank look in response to your answer, "20th Century Eskimo Dictators."

  • Talk to people you trust about what they most enjoy and what they are reading. Talk about books with people you admire. Find a book-buying mentor and a bookseller who cares about you and your literacy and intellectual development. Read book reviews from a variety of sources. The New York Review of Books is a good start since they cover everything imaginable with articles that are so much more than mere reviews. And avoid book clubs like the plague. I've found that the members have rarely read the book they're discussing. They'd prefer to gossip about the other members who missed the meeting or bitch about the great unwashed who just don't get the life of the mind.

  • Read in an interdisciplinary way. Wisely chosen novels can obviously enhance your non-fiction course work in pleasurable ways. Some good books come through serendipity and whim, but it may be helpful to have a plan, at least a list. Egads, don't you have to make enough lists for work? Just read a damn book and when you're done, read another damn book.

  • Stretch yourself occasionally by reading the more serious books. Perhaps, explore a new and unexpected topic for a year, reading several similar books or books by the same author. But don't read exclusively arcane and heavy stuff. Light fare and sweets can enhance any diet. Seriously, I don't give a damn what you read. I read Da Vinci Code: hated it. I read Harry Potter: loved it. I do give a damn about people who bitch about the poor reading tastes of everyone else. For g-d's sake, don't become a book snob.
  • 6. All you really need to do to prove your passion is

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    Foldy bikes

    form beyond

    I've been thinking about getting a foldy since I started using METRA to get out to the suburbs for work projects. Although its Bikes on Trains Program permits regular bikes, there are a number of restrictions:
    [It] is designed to enable cyclists to bring their standard-form bicycles on board trains during weekday off-peak hours and on weekends. Three bicycles are allowed in the priority seating area in each accessible diesel rail car; two in each electric railcar.
    Also, whether bikes are allowed on or not is up to the discretion of each conductor despite the program. So it would be easier to have a foldy in a bag that is simply considered baggage.

    My research has turned up two elegant, lightweight models. The more traditional of the two, The A Bike, is the creation of Daka Design in Hong Kong.
    [It] breaks new ground in the areas of weight, folded size and design. Weighing in at just 5.5 kg, this ultra-portable folding bicycle is the lightest in its class. By utilizing quick release clamps, fold and unfold only takes 10 seconds...

    It can be easily carried on public transportation network, and its compact size allows for easy storage. The A-bike can attain normal speeds without having to pedal any faster than with an average large wheel bike...

    The second, by Thomas J. Owen in the UK, is The One. It's
    a comfortable stylish bicycle that not only offers all the benefits of cycling (like cheap travel and exercise) but with its revolutionary power assist system the user can cruise around with ease. When folded, ‘One’ turns into a smooth, light and compact case free of all dirty and protruding parts.

    ‘One’ can be easily carried, stowed and stored. ‘One’ is truly a bike for eco and money minded individuals alike. Its stylish design strips it from the folding bike stigma and makes it a bike for the 21st century.

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    Celebrity roll

    for show

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    Hilter's torch

    China's shame

    An editorial in The LA Times notes, The Olympic torch relay was invented by the Nazis:
    According to historians, Adolf Hitler wanted to promote his belief in an Aryan master race by symbolically linking the 1936 Berlin Games to the ancient Greek gods and rituals, hence the carrying of the flame from Olympia to Germany. The first relay was chronicled on film by Hitler’s propagandist, Leni Riefenstahl.
    And this from a former college student of mine who is working in Tibet:
    Hi All,

    An update on the situation here and to remind you that if you're so inclined and able to, please attend a rally this Monday (or at anytime!) to support Tibetans in their fight for greater freedom. There are vigils at lunch and i think in the evenings in many places, and if not please offer a minute of silence for them.

    News from here is limited unfortunately. We foreigners are under lock down and surveillance and i've only been able to briefly meet and talk with friends. Some perhaps i won't be able to see again. One is now missing, probably arrested, and another is on the run - staying in the mountains and on the move. Many have had to face several interrogations - and these aren't people necessarily involved in protests but perhaps they are young, male and relatively well-educated. To make matters more frightening, now they are tracking phones to find those on the run, tapping many people's lines, and have also, by dint of having so many people in and around lhasa, effectively blocked off the most well-known escape route to india. And it's still very cold and windy here most days.

    In the key areas of unrest its apparently worse. They've arrested all men aged between 15-60. They've closed the schools and most businesses have also shut. Last i heard the trucks were doing laps around the main streets and people said you couldn't move for the numbers of soldiers. Residents have been told that the army will be there until after the olympics. Every monastery has had at least several monks arrested - some where no protests have been known to have happened. (Possibly just a good time to get rid of a few recognised leaders or to escalate the fear already present?)

    Minorities universities are keeping their professors at work on the weekend, everyone involved with anything regarding tibetan culture - monks, teachers, social scientists, students, doctors, etc - are having to attend lengthy patriotic lessons. NGOs are being forced to stop activities in these areas until after the olympics and are subjected to daily visits by the PSB. Some of them have had 70% of their planned activities cancelled.

    Despite this there are on-going protests, most of which are small, go unreported and are immediately shut down. Most universities are having vigils and sit-ins, monks are continuing to protest peacefully - although inside monasteries as they are surrounded by soldiers and not allowed to leave. People say that they are not watching the olympics on their television and some people say that this rift will not heal, that this will be a long battle. While the government may have brought about a stability, it is because of suppressive tactics. If people felt that they wouldn't be arrested for protesting i think you'd see thousands protesting every day. Every night there is Tibetan dancing in our local square. Maybe 300 people come and form circles, dancing for about 4 hours, and the young men particularly are so active, dancing off tension and aggression, kicking and turning in a flurry of arms and legs, as if they are chasing a devil away.

    What will become of this region (1/3 of china) if for six months it is under such fear and tight restriction?

    Economically it will be devastated. No men to care for the animals and earn off farm income, not enough people to farm the land at this critical time of sowing, no additional assistance for the women and children, no movement to better pastures for the nomadic families, and it will miss out any tourists, particularly the thousands who will come to the olympics. Of course this has huge social and environmental impacts as well. Possibly no school, especially for all the thousands of teenagers now in custody. No recognition of the Tibetan views, no public discourse, so many people missing, no contact between the thousands of prisoners and their families. And no spring and summer cultural events - if they are held it will be under the most severest restrictions as it will be a very big match from which new protests may strike. And the ethnic divide is growing larger - tibetans are not eating at muslim restaurants and the normally at least cordial relations between Han and Tibetans has been changed to one of suspicion and antagonism. And this division is being fueled by the state media and on-line chat rooms. China said it has found a cache of arms at a monastery today! People who have only been told one version of their history cannot find any compassion for Tibetans, indeed find them incredibly ungrateful and are calling for death penalties for the rioters. And there is increasing rumours among Tibetans of Chinese agents dressed as Tibetans, possibly even as monks, and inciting greater rioting. Of course, there are intellectuals and people who do see both views, but their voices are also silenced.

    Now Buddhist for centuries, Tibetans have lost much of their warrior culture but i think also that the young men are very tired of the current system and its preference for all things Han. Depending on how severe the fall-out is, this latest repression will only harden their feelings and heighten their desperation. As the touchstone for Tibetan religion and culture it is vital that the Big D and the Chinese government find a way forward that is both peaceful and sustainable. And only one side is refusing to talk. If the change doesn't come now it will come at a greater cost later. Tibet needs more autonomy and real equality for its people. In order to hold the Chinese state together the government needs to address the underlying issues. Only dialogue can address the needs of both sides.

    Given this state's totalitarian nature it is absolutely vital that the international community and other nations put pressure on China to accept this dialogue.

    China's support for tactics of large scale repression, secrecy and stoking blind nationalism are not part of its global commitment nor do they share anything in common with the olympic ideals. Its government must be held accountable for its actions both internally in places like Tibet and Xinjiang and externally in Burma and Sudan. China will only grow stronger and richer in the years to come and it will grow even less concerned with international opinion. This is an opportunity that neither China nor the world can fail to grasp. We cannot let this moment slip through our hands without giving our all to bring greater peace to the world.

    Anyway, a bit of a long letter but thanks for reading! Please do what you can. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

    I probably won't write again for a few weeks at least as i'm off to the east. Please let me know if you want more information. Please forward this to others but take off my email address. Thanks and all the best...

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    When it rains...

    it pours

    It's been a crappy, cold, rainy, rainy April so far. And I haven't had much opportunity for rolling. It's not because I'm afraid of getting wet. Rather, the last few weeks have been taken up with international visitors; the latest of whom is my Belgian friend, Timothé. That's him in between me and Beaterbike Dave.

    This is Timothé's first visit to the States. He annd I met when we were working on a UNESCO project in the Basque Region of Spain two years ago. While I've been working, he's been taking in the sites. Needless to say, he gets around. Like he met Richard M. at yesterday's celebration of a new US postage stamp commemorating Chicago baseball. Geez, he gets around, don't he???

    And he's a fine photographer as well. These are from Strasbourg where he's studying political science:

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    Not just about bikes

    there are hedgehogs
    & foxes too

    What does any of this have to do with Sir Isaiah Berlin? A large proportion of my 1000+ books deals with the very issues Berlin raised in his long career in the UK as the 20th Century's greatest liberal philosopher. Borrowing from the Greek poet, Archilochus, he divided his fellow philosophers into two groups: the foxes who know many things and the hedgehogs who know one big thing.

    Most of us who love to think about the world around us struggle over whether we're one or the other ... or perhaps both from time to time. And that's why I have this blog: I'm a fox who wishes that he were a hedgehog. Besides, putting Berlin's ideas together with books and bikes is something your typical fox would do.

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    Bikers 2 - cagers 0

    testing that 3 foot rule

    Usually in the bike vs car wars, the guy on the bike loses; here are two cases where the result was different. From Treehugger:

    A woman was driving her Buick (illegally) through Nankai University in China, and bumped into a cyclist, which scratched her car. She got out and demanded an apology and payment for damages, while students gathered... The police came. The driver's mother and brother came. Campus security came. Teachers came. And more -- a lot more -- students came.

    After the driver's brother assaulted a student who tried to further scratch the Buick, that's when things got, as they say, 'blown out of proportion.' The amassed students had their way with the car, and a 10-inch scratch turned into something more like a writeoff...
    In Toronto, a slightly less violent event happened and was caught on video. We quote City TV:
    It happened around 3:45pm, when a motorist tried to make an illegal turn that almost knocked a rider off his bike. The angry cyclist refused to let the driver get away with it, constantly preventing him from making the prohibited turn, and taunting him with remarks about 'playing the game.'
    Every time the driver attempted to escape, the biker would simply get in front of him, daring him to hit him. He didn't, and the cat-and-mouse traffic incident went on for a few minutes until passersby intervened and calmed the two-wheeler down. When they did, the driver finally made his turn and tried to get away from the area. But even then he didn't get far. He was immediately stopped by police and handed a ticket for the illegal turn. And just to add insult to injury, the cops weren't in a cruiser - they were also riding bikes.'

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    I ride...

    therefore I am

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    The Queen of Scots

    my early spring

    I got this '53 Lady's Rudge through eBay back in January. She sat in my basement until this weekend. The weather was warm enough to get to work on restoring her and with the Jane Train out of town I actually had the time. I've christened her The Queen of Scots.

    I've always wanted a Rudge with the funky hand on the chainwheel. Not surprisingly, I jumped at the chance even though it's a lady's bike. And I'm going to ride her at the upcoming 3speed Tour. But how does one dress for a lady's ride?

    In a kilt! I figure at least some indomitable Highlanders rolled about the heath. Why wouldn't they then display their clan's pride as well as their mechanical prowess? Also, I did my undergrad degree at America's premier Presbyterian school where our mascot is The Fighting Scot.

    Unfortunately, I find my alma mater's tartan; from the Clan McCleod, rather off-putting. So I chose this sport tartan based on the Clan Muir. Besides, I am The Accidental Environmentalist. Why not wear the tartan of John Muir's clan?

    But why Queen of Scots? Well ... Mary, on the right, travels nearly everywhere with my überboss 300+ days a year. Though a Scot, she's not Catholic. But this Wee Free makes everything happen for her and the rest of us. So I think, all in all, it's a fitting name.

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