31 March 2012

Bikeyface on the summer dress effect

Summer Dress Days:

"While it’s nice to feel that everyone is looking out for me for a change, it makes me realize how little people pay attention the rest of the time. Nobody can wear summer dresses every day."

In related news, I wonder what will happen to the Cycle Chic movement once they reach the threshold at which beautiful people on beautiful bikes are commonplace enough to be invisible, just like the rest of us.

30 March 2012

All You Haters Unfold My Dahon

So, I've reached the milestone at which I'm supposed to be figuring out whether or not I'm going to be able to carry on normally with this injury, but of course, "normal" for me includes what everyone else refers to as "avid cycling." A year from now is not the ideal time to learn that would have needed surgery after all.

So yesterday evening I walked Scooty-Puff the Spunky Folding Bike over to TATI to join His Snobbiness for the ride up to Lincoln Square, with the mistaken impression that it was going to be a "social" ride. Silly me, it was actually the other kind of social ride, in which roadies wear Normal Clothes but still act like roadies. I was dropped like a Beautiful Godzilla on 20-inch wheels, because that's exactly what I am now.

So I got off the Lakefront Trail at Roosevelt, dismounted, and walked to the L, because that's what you're supposed to do with a folding bike anyway, and also because there's no way in hell I'm riding in traffic by myself for a long, long time. I'm just going to have to wait until the next Tweed Ride or whatever.

I miss my Cross-Check. I miss the person I used to be when I was on it.

24 March 2012

Metra: Straight from the horse's mouth

The March 2012 issue of On the Bi-Level features "A Brief History of Metra System," including a line-by-line breakdown of ownership and operation. You're welcome.

23 March 2012

Science to do

I'm going to a scientific conference! I'm even presenting a poster! The last time I presented a poster it was literally made of posterboard; since then, I've earned a wacky liberal arts degree and become a professional grammar Nazi. The conference itinerary also includes such discomforting words as "banquet," "social," and "gala," yet it falls upon me to go and present the research. For science!

I'm sore tempted to bring my folding bike with me (especially since seeing this), although what with all the official banqueting and socializing and galavanting after the science is done, I don't know that I'll have any time for bike sightseeing.

By the way

"A Brief History of Cycling in Westeros" is a Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire spoof. I mistakenly thought more people would get it.

Effective Cycling by John Forester was a seminal work that laid out the principles of so-called vehicular cycling, wherein you ride your bike in traffic to increase visibility and reduce the number of conflict points. Vehicular cycling is widely criticized by proponents of separated bike facilities (eg, off-street bike paths, on-street cycletracks), which are common throughout Europe, who argue that the speed difference between motorized and nonmotorized vehicles is too great for them to operate safely in the same space. Sterotypically, vehicular cyclists are crotchety old men, while infrastructure cyclists are clueless young men working on behalf of helpless old ladies. Everything else bike-related should be pretty straightforward.

As for Westeros, I'm working mainly off the HBO viewer's guide, but there are no doubt many things you'd never understand without slogging through all the books.

Instructions for walking

God help us all.

At least this one doesn't tell you to wear high-vis clothing and walk only in designated areas away from traffic. Many of them do.

22 March 2012

An excerpt

When I first lived in Arizona, the White Mountain was a horseman's world. Except along a few main routes, it was too rough for wagons. There were no cars. It was too big for foot travel; even sheepherders rode. Thus be elimination, the country-sized plateau known as 'on top' was the exclusive domain of the mounted man: mounted cowman, mounted sheepman, mounted forest officer, mounted trapper, and those unclassified mounted men of unknown origin and uncertain destination always found on frontiers. It is difficult for this generation to understand this aristocracy of space based upon transport.

No such thing existed in the railroad town two days to the north, where you had your choice of travel by shoe leather, burro, cowhorse, buckboard, freight wagon, caboose, or Pullman. Each of these modes of movement corresponded to a social caste, the members of which spoke a distinctive vernacular, wore distinctive clothes, ate distinctive food, and patronized different saloons. Their only common denominator was a democracy of debt to the general store, and a communal wealth of Arizona dust and Arizona sunshine.

As one proceeded southward across the plains and mesas toward the White Mountain, these castes dropped out one by one as their respective modes of travel became impossible, until finally, 'on top,' the horseman ruled the world.

Henry Ford's revolution has of course abolished all this. Today the plane has given even the sky to Tom, Dick, and Harry.


-Aldo Leopold, A Sand county Almanac, 1948

A Brief History of Bicycling in Westeros: Part 2A

Beyond the Wall: The Land of Always Bike Winter
To protect against future invasion by the White Riders, Brandon the Framebuilder commissioned construction of the Wall along his kingdom's northern border and established the Night's Watch to protect the realms of men. He then equipped the men of the Night's Watch with custom bicycles capable of withstanding the harsh terrain and even harsher climate in the wilds beyond the Wall. The Land of Always Bike Winter in the far north remains uncharted and, supposedly, inhospitable, but fantastic tales of giants and correspondingly giant bicycles in the icy wasteland continually make their way down to the Wall. As the Long Night has faded into legend, the Night's Watch has dwindled and their purpose has altered; their primary duty now is to protect the inhabitants of the North from wildling bike thieves from beyond the Wall.

Team Lannister and the Tour de Westerlands
House Lannister, the wealthiest house in the Seven Kingdoms, has long sponsored Team Lannister, the most elite racing team in the Seven Kingdoms and the Nine Free Cities. The official motto of House Lannister is "Hear Me Roar!" but the popular saying, "a Lannister always pays his debts," is more often heard. What is not often heard is that this is actually a play on the official Team Lannister motto, "A Lannister Always Trains His Best." The world-famous Tour de Westerlands is held every year in the Lannisters' dominion; Lann Armstrong is a well-known winner of this race.

As "High" as Honor: Bikes and Counterculture in the Vale
The strict code of honor and tradition among the noble houses of the Vale of Arryn, combined with frequent, violent armed conflicts between them and the hostile mountain clans, has bred a movement among young smallfolk in the Vale to reject the traditional values held by the nobility. However, the only characteristics of this countercultural identity that are well-known outside the Vale are recreational drug use and alternative transportation. It is not known why this is the case.

Cyclotouring in the Reach
The Andal king Garth Greenhand was an early proponent of bicycling as an eco-friendly mode of transportation and oversaw construction of a network of off-road bike trails throughout his kingdom. These trails, along with the warm climate and beautiful scenery of the Reach, make it a popular destination for bike tourists. The Mander River Trail takes cyclists right through some of the fairest gardens of Highgarden, and the Wine Trail on the Arbor offers many opportunities for tastings. Each year, thousands of cyclists participate in HAGBRAR, the Highgarden Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across the Reach. Lord Hightower once famously boasted his intention to make Oldtown the most bicycle-friendly city in the Seven Kingdoms, but it has so far earned only a Silver ranking from the League of Westerosi Cyclists. Nevertheless, the presence of the Citadel has helped to maintain a healthy bike culture in Oldtown, as bicycling has always been popular among the students and maesters there.

21 March 2012

A Brief History of Bicycling in Westeros: Part 1

The Children of the Forester
This legendary race of mystical beings are thought to have been the first inhabitants of the continent of Westeros. They lived in peaceful harmony with their environment, worshiping the Old Gods of nature and riding bicycles fashioned from weirwood.

The First Men and Age of Effective Cycling
The First Men brought motor vehicles to Westeros when they drove over a land bridge from the larger continent of Essos. Their attempts to tame the wilderness through establishment of a car culture spurred centuries of conflict with the Children of the Forester. Representatives of the two peoples finally met on the Isle of Faces to forge a truce and establish the rules of vehicular cycling. Thereafter the Children and the First Men traveled in peaceful coexistence side by side on the roads of Westeros. The time came to be known as the Age of Effective Cycling; legends of heroic bike tours and valiant deeds of bike advocacy are often set in this period.

The Long Night and the White Riders
Little is now known for certain about the Long Night except that it was an unusually long winter of bitter cold, exceptionally heavy snowfall, and poor visibility all across the continent. The supernatural White Riders are said to have descended from the north on their ghost bikes to terrorize the people of Westeros. The Children of the Forester and the First Men are believed to have rallied against the White Riders, but after this period the Children fade from history.

House Stark and the Kings in the North
Brandon the Framebuilder is best known for construction of the Wall, but he also established the Handmade Bicycle Show in the North, which is still held every year at Winterfell. The Starks, as most other houses in the North, are descended from the First Men and as such still worship the Old Gods and adhere to the rules of vehicular cycling. Many Northerners view separated bike facilities with suspicion, doubt, and even scorn; they are proud of their cycling skills in motor vehicle traffic and insist upon their rights to the road.

The Andal Invasion and the Seven Speeds
The Andals invaded Westeros from Essos and brought with them new gods, the Seven, and new technology, the 7-speed cassette. The Andals established kingdoms and bike trails throughout the south of Westeros.

House Targaryen and Valyrian-Style Cycling
House Targaryen was the only noble family of Valyria to survive the catastrophe known as the Doom. Soon afterward, they launched an invasion of the continent to the west from their stronghold on the island of Dragonstone. The Targaryens brought Valyrian-style cycling to Westeros, along with their three dragons. Bicycling in old Valyria was characterized by an extensive network of dedicated infrastructure and a culture that perceived the bicycle as just another completely ordinary mode of transportation. Aegon the Conqueror established a bike share program in the new capitol of King's Landing and built many leagues of dedicated bike lanes throughout the cities of Oldtown and Lannisport. Maegor the Cruel is often said to have executed the builders of the Red Keep to protect its secrets, but in truth they were all executed for negligent vehicular homicide after an unfortunate incident involving a cement truck and the king's favorite fool.

The Greenblood Orphans: Triathletes of Dorne
Queen Nymeria of the Royne landed with her 10,000 ships, then burned them all and married Mors of House Martell, who proceeded to conquer all of Dorne. What is not so well known is that the Roynish were the ones who brought the art of carbon fiber frame construction to Westeros. The desert climate and sparse population of Dorne are not conducive to a bike culture, but the Roynish "orphans" who live their lives in semi-exile along the Greenblood are notable triathletes and continue to refine carbon technology. Dornish time trial bikes are considered the best in the Seven Kingdoms.

Mountain Biking and Controversy in the Dornish Marches
The Dornish Marches have been a point of conflict between Dorne and the Reach ever since a group of so-called stony Dornishmen invented the sport of mountain biking. The Dornish mountain bikers claim access rights to the singletrack trails that crisscross throughout the Marches, but lords sworn to Highgarden consider them a dangerous nuisance to the lives and livelihoods of the smallfolk in the area. Noblemen of the Reach who trace their lineages back to Garth Greenhand are also known to argue that mountain biking, as a purely recreational activity, contributes to unnecessary destruction of the delicate ecosystem of the Marches.

The Dothraki Riders
The Dothraki are a nomadic, competitive, and prideful people who roam across the vast continent of Esssos in huge, warlike hoards. They live off of spoils plundered from the cities of more civilized cultures, which they invade in savage alleycat races to steal rich prizes. However, they can often be bought off with lucrative advertising contracts for energy drinks and designer messenger bags. In their homeland, known as the Dothraki Sea, they compete with each other in daring, sometimes fatal contests of fixed-gear bike riding.

Coming in Part 2:
Beyond the Wall: The Land of Always Bike Winter
Team Lannister and the Tour de Westerlands
As "High" as Honor: Bikes and Counterculture in the Vale
Cyclotouring in the Reach
The Stormlands: Extreme All-Weather Bike Commuting
Robert's Anti-Car Rebellion
The Iron Islands and Balon's BMX Rebellion
Infrastructure Decay Along the Royne
The Bravvosi Invent Cyclocross

20 March 2012

You're in good hands, as long as you act like a mouse in a cheese maze and dress like a vision test

Actual excerpt from Allstate Blog:

While you can't control for inattentive drivers, as a pedestrian, you can make smart choices. Following basic walking safety tips can reduce the likelihood of an accident.

Always use sidewalks or walking paths; if there is no sidewalk, walk FACING traffic and as far to the left of the road as possible.

Cross only at corners using traffic signals and crosswalks; never cross in the middle of the street.

Before crossing the street, make eye contact with a stopped driver; this lets him know you are crossing and lets you know that he's paying attention.

If walking at night, wear reflective gear so drivers can see you.

18 March 2012

Still injured

Still unseasonably warm. I don't think that WTF March snowstorm that always takes so many people by surprise is going to happen this year. Spring has arrived hard, fast, and early. I wish I could enjoy it.

My bicycle print Loop Pannier arrived from Po Campo; maybe carrying that around will make me feel better.

17 March 2012

Tainted bike love

Sun-Times: Rival: City’s bike-sharing program ‘tainted’

Tell me again why we need a glorified bike rental program? Surely anyone who actually wanted to ride a bike in this city would already have means of procuring one.

16 March 2012

This warm spring weather is mockingly cruel

It's irritating. I don't think anyone really understands how irritated I am. I have been told at least a dozen times now "Well, you could still walk, right?" Why yes, how silly of me, I could have been walking up and down the lakefront at 25 mph in the middle of the night this whole time, and saved hundreds of dollars while I was at it. When did simple walking become such a paragon of physical activity? Was it when bike advocacy turned into bike/ped advocacy?

I can't run. First, I think it's boring. Second, running jostles my shoulder joint too painfully at present. Third, I'm too fat. Fourth, evidently my feet are so badly deformed that it's a wonder I can even walk without special insoles. I was an inline skater in high school. Well, it was the 90s, so pretty much everyone in high school was an inline skater, but the movement also felt more fluid and natural to me. I could never run anywhere without feeling like my skeleton was going to fall apart. I ran only as much as was required for the sports I played, and just as badly. Then I was a cyclist. Now I'm someone who has to walk for exercise.

I'm so frustrated I could cry. I'm just not used to being sedentary. I can't believe most average Americans actually live like this. I have two legs, two hands, and my dominant arm, but I all I can do is friggin walk.

15 March 2012

Bike! The! Drive!

Sunday, May 27!

Register! Volunteer!

14 March 2012

Hit by a car and then dumped

For a lesbian. With a baby. Because he found out it was his. Actually I have no idea why I was dumped this time, but until I hear otherwise, I'm considering myself free to conjecture whatever I want about the situation. Anyway, at times like this, I used to be able to say "well, at least I still have my bike," except now I don't. It left me the same weekend he did. Just after Valentine's Day. And now I don't know what I have anymore. An apartment I hate, a part-time job that was supposed to be temporary, a reactivated Netflix account, a permanent shoulder injury, a blog. Is that it?

13 March 2012

I'm scared and great at sex.

12 March 2012

Bald eagles in Chicago

In the city! It's true!

11 March 2012

Tom Skilling's Tornado and Severe Weather Seminar 2012

Saturday, April 14 at Fermilab! Noon and 6pm.

09 March 2012

All You Haters Separate My Shoulder

Could somebody please please please please pedalcab or cargopassenger me on Bike Snob's BRA ride from TATI on the 29th?

What the hell am I talking about?

07 March 2012

Shit fuck damn

The driver of a large SUV allegedly guns the engine before mowing down four young correctional officers out on a training run in the grass, and all the stupid-ass commentors want to know is whether or not they were wearing lights and reflective clothing, how far into the street they were jogging, and why they weren't jogging against traffic.

05 March 2012

Happy Casimir Pulaski Day



And because I missed St. David's Day last Wednesday: