Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dave’s Bike Blog has moved

I have out grown this space here and so have moved over to Square Space, my new address is:

I am still “Dave’s Bike Blog” but at Squarespace instead of Blogspot.

Squarespace and Blogspot sounds like a couple of cartoon characters.

Please come over and check out the new Blog Site, it has many nice features, with more to be added later.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A restored 1977 English built frame

I recently received a email with pictures from Rod Taylor, who lives in England. Rod is the original owner of a frame I built for him in 1977. In his message he wrote:

“Out of all my bikes, road, track, audax, touring, roadster, cyclo-cross, hybrid, mountain, my 1960 Dave Davey and 1977 Dave Moulton stand out as my favorites.

Last year I gave the frames to Dave Yates for renovation, the Dave Davey as a track bike was simpler to restore, but I took the decision to equip the Dave Moulton with the newer Campag gear.

The rear ends were increased to 130mm and new gear brazings fitted. Although I was using the latest components to rebuild it, I didn't choose carbon parts as I believed Campagnolo Mirage alloy would be more in keeping.

The finishing touches were added by employing a company in Cambridge to copy the transfers / decals, and the original orange Unica saddle has been retained. I am extremely pleased with the results of both machines, I love steel frames”

Thirty-one years old, in dog years that would be 217. I’m not sure what the ratio is for old bicycle frames. Maybe 2-1, sixty-two would be a reasonable guess.

I whole-heartedly approve of Rod’s decision to build this bike up with modern equipment and keep riding it. Rather than keep it as a museum piece.

The interesting thing I notice is that the bike does not look odd, with the old frame and modern components. I have seen several Fuso bikes re-built this way.

I think the reason is, by the mid 1970s I had established my own frame design, which at the time was out of sync with what other builders were doing.

However, I stuck with what I believed in, and this would become the standard design I would use on my American built frames of the 1980s. (John Howard, Fuso, and Recherché.)

An interesting footnote. Rod still has the original brochure from 1977 when he ordered the frame, he sent me a photocopy.

Click on the picture to view a larger image. Look at item 2: Shot-in seatstays. This is what is referred to in the US as “Fast Back” seatstays. Of course, they are no faster; it is just another way to attach seatstays.

The Dave Davy track frame (Mentioned above.) that Rod had restored along with the ‘dave moulton,’ can be viewed here. Scroll down the page to see pictures of this frame in white, along with photos of Rod Taylor riding the same bike in 1966 time-trials.

This is on the Classic Lightweights UK site; an interesting source for pictures and info on vintage British lightweights.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Please don’t make the bicycle a political issue

When Dan Schleifer sent me a link to a site called Tree Hugger, running a story called “Why do Republicans Hate Bicycles,” my first reaction was, “I am not going to touch this with a ten foot pole.”

I am not a citizen of this country, therefore I cannot vote, and I usually stay as far away from politics as I can. My feeling is, I am a guest in the US, and as such it is not proper for me to voice an opinion on American politics.

However, I will say this much. I hate extreme politics on both sides, and here you have the two extremes. On the one side, a site called “Tree Hugger” with the subtitle, “Unchecked Environmentalism.” (The very epitome of Liberalism.)

On the other side, a video of a republican politician going off on an anti-bicycle rant, simply because the bicycle is seen as something “green” and left wing, and therefore is open to ridicule.

The two extremes cancel each other out; people on opposite ends of the political spectrum reading the article and viewing the video are not going to move an inch towards each other’s point of view. In fact, stuff like this drives the two sides further apart.

I hate that the bicycle is made out to be something political. I have stated here before, if automobiles ran on pixie dust and had zero carbon emissions, I would still ride a bicycle. I am a cyclist, and riding a bicycle is a love and a passion.

Forget the burning of fossil fuel for a moment, even if we overcome that issue; the bicycle is still a more civilized form of transport. It eases congestion; one person on a bike is taking far less space on the road than one person in a car who is taking up the space of four to six people.

It is less dangerous to other road users, and more bicycles on the road, with the resulting less cars would make it safer for everyone. It is a wonderful form of exercise, and it is fun. When is driving a car fun?

These are the real benefits of cycling. Riding a bicycle to ease the dependency on foreign oil is not what the majority of Americans want to hear. If we think, everyone in the US is going to dump their cars overnight and start riding a bike, either to save the planet or save America, think again. It is not going to happen.

Sell the idea that cycling is fun, and it is good for you, not keep cramming the green, environmentally friendly idea down people’s throats. All that does is it makes people feel guilty, and that makes them angry and sends them off on an anti-cycling rant like Representative Patrick McHenry.

I am sure all republicans don’t hate bicycles; even George Bush rides one. But if the Democrats make cycling a political issue, then naturally the Republicans are going to oppose and ridicule the idea, because that is what politicians do.

In the long run, is this going to help the cause of cycling?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tagged once more

I’ve been tagged again, this time by Ron over at Cozy Beehive. The idea is to write six random, unknown things about me. Then tag six other people to do the same.

Here is my six:

1.) As a child during the 1940s I lived in a house in England with no electricity and no water piped into the house. Water was brought in by bucket from a communal well outside. Lighting was by oil lamp and candles. My mother cooked with a coal fired range and baked wonderful pies and cakes. She did so without a thermometer on the oven.

She ironed with a flat iron also heated on the stovetop. She would spit on the iron to test the temperature; the spit would boil and run off immediately if it was hot enough. She had a pair of flat irons; one would be heating while she ironed with the other for a minute or so before it cooled.

2.) As an eighteen year old in the mid 1950s, an older drunk man, probably in his forties, picked a fight with me. I hit him and he fell backward through the plate glass window of a television shop. It was the early hours of Sunday morning and the noise was deafening. The last I saw of the drunk, he was lying on his back amongst the TV sets, with his legs in the air.

I took off running, and was chased by two American Military Police, in a Jeep. They pulled along side me, and when they saw I was not an American Serviceman, they stopped and gave up the chase. I made it home without further incident. Later the local newspaper told the story of a broken store window mystery, and that nothing was stolen. There was no mention of the drunk guy; I guess he was not seriously hurt, and had left the scene.

There was a large American Air Force Base, near where I lived and the Military Police would patrol the streets, but had no jurisdiction over the civilian populous. We called them "Snow Drops" because they wore white helmets, reminding us of a British wild flower that has white bell shaped petals and is called a Snow Drop.

3.) When I built frames in Worcester, England, in the 1970s; I shared the business premises with a car body repair man named Roger Brown. Roger had lost an arm (Above the elbow.) as a child after falling from a tree.

He would replace his prosthetic arm with a hook when he worked and there was not much that he couldn't do while working on cars, in spite of his handicap. However, he couldn't do some simple tasks, and would come to me, to roll up his shirt sleeve on his good arm, or to tie his shoe lace. We take for granted the simple every-day tasks that require two hands.

4.) In 1980 while working for Paris Sport in New Jersey I had a job interview with Trek; they flew me out to their factory in Wisconsin. I didn't get the job, which turned out okay because later that same year I landed a job with Masi, in Southern California. I have nothing against Wisconsin, but I dislike very cold winters, and later when I started my own business, one of the reasons it was successful was because of my location in So. Cal.

5.) In the late 1980s I was approached by Fila, the sports clothing company. They where interested in a line of bicycles with the Fila name on them. Two people from the company came to my shop to look at my operation, and we talked about my building these frames. They must have dropped the idea, I never heard back, and I don't recall anyone else making a Fila bike.

6.) When I left the bike business in 1993 I took a job with a company that made bowling equipment. I designed metal furniture for bowling centers, also ball racks, and a ball return machine. I oversaw the manufacture of these and other equipment.

There’s my six. It was extremely tough for me to come up with six stories that I had not previously written about. I was first tagged in December of 2006 and then again just a year ago in July of 2007. In addition, I have written about many of my life’s experiences elsewhere in this blog. Still others became part of my novel Prodigal Child.

If I am tagged again I may have no choice but to decline, as much as I would hate to do that. I am simply running out of stories. I am going to tag six people who have been kind enough to link to my blog and are listed on the side bar here.

Biking Brit
Cycling Addict
Movit Fred
Something Maybe
Ultra Rob

Monday, July 07, 2008

Is there a connection between technology and rudeness?

I own a cell phone with a cheap pre-paid plan.

The phone stays turned off, until the rare occasion when I need to use it. I carry it for emergencies when I drive my car, or ride my bike.

I have no desire to be in instant contact with everyone else on this planet; I have managed to come this far in my life without that option.

On the other hand, I embrace the Internet; anyone can find me fairly easily and contact me by email, and many do.

It keeps me extremely busy trying to respond them all, and I sometimes fail in the attempt. Which is one of the reasons I do not need the rest of my waking hours, to be spent with a cell phone in my ear.

This is not just another "Old Man’s Lament" post about how things were better in my day. Things were not necessarily better in the old days; it is just that some of us, having lived a little longer, saw the changes take place and because of that can see both the positive and negative aspects resulting from change.

Do cell phones and the Internet make us more sociable? I think the reverse is true. It enables us to be in contact with an ever-increasing number of long distance relationships, at the expense of those closer to us.

It used to be a person would walk into a bar, order a drink, and then socialize with the bartender or others seated at the bar. Today a person walks into a bar, orders a drink, and immediately flips open a cell phone.

They become oblivious to everyone around them as they hold a long distance conversation with someone maybe sitting alone in some other bar. The person will often finish their drink, and their conversation, then leave the bar having made no verbal or even eye contact with anyone there.

Even in situations where there is an opportunity for chance encounters, they no longer happen. Two people in a Laundromat for example; in pre-cell phone times they would at least exchange a smile and a few words.

Today, chances are at least one or even both are talking on cell phones. They are too busy socializing long distance, and totally ignore each other. Completely missing the opportunity to socialize face-to-face right where they are.

Even though the Internet is my favoured medium; I am dismayed at the rudeness shown on Internet forums. If a person is rude to a stranger online simply because they can remain anonymous, is there a chance that rudeness will spill over into their every day lives? I can't see where being rude online helps a person with their social skills in interacting with others in day to day situations.

The cyclist, who posts an angry comment on an Internet forum, is just as likely to get on his bike and flip a finger at the first motorist they perceived had made a wrong move. Both the cyclist and motorist do not see a fellow human being, but some anonymous figure; much like the one on the Internet.

Much of the carnage on our roads today is caused by rude, angry people behind the steering wheel. Rude, angry cyclists are mostly a danger only to themselves. How did these people become so consumed by anger? It does seem to be a growing trend.

When I started cycling, I was fortunate that I was able to join a cycling club. There were other members of the club, older and more experienced, who taught me all I needed to know about the bicycle and the skills required to ride it.

Today, there are still such local clubs, but it seems most would prefer to go on Internet forums as their source of knowledge. The problem is the experienced people with knowledge to share do not go there because they are often treated with contempt and rudeness.

There is now a whole generation for whom there has always been an Internet, and cell phones, and there has always been rudeness. Rudeness is accepted as the norm. One time when I protested the online rudeness, I was told, “It’s an Internet forum, what do you expect?” Actually, I expected politeness, how naive of me.

Rudeness has no beneficiaries, either those dishing out the rudeness or the recipient. It makes people angry; the person being rude is angry because they see themselves as right in a situation and the other person is an idiot. And of course the recipient of the rudeness is also angry.

Just as the person on their cell phone ignores the person standing next to them, there are some who will stumble on one article I have written here, and then shoot off some angry comment dismissing the article as “BS by an arrogant SOB.” This happened just last week on Bike Forums.

If only the person, instead of responding in anger because they disagreed with my view, had taken a moment to peruse my profile, and learn a little more about me. Maybe if they had read a few more articles here, they may have actually learned something about bicycles.

By being angry and rude, they missed an opportunity to improve their knowledge, simply because they did not take the time to get to know me.

The Internet is a wonderful thing; however, it is an entity with very few rules and relies on human decency to operate smoothly. Human decency breaks down when people become detached from each other.

Could the cause of this breakdown be over use of the Internet, and other technology like cell phones? Those of us online, find the thread that attaches us is extremely fragile to begin with. People are naturally social beings, and need that personal contact.

Rudeness drives people apart; it isolates the person being rude. Are we in danger of becoming a race of rude, angry, and lonely people, with few social skills?

Hang up the phone and look at the person standing next to you. Look at the author of what you are reading on your computer screen. It is entirely possible that he is not just some “Wanker” trying to push your buttons; he may actually have something worthwhile to say.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Helmet Poll Result

After 15 days of voting, here are the results.

Those who read this blog at least, wear a helmet all or most of the time; 13% don't

In retrospect, I probably should have left the “saves lives” option out, because it split the vote. If you add the top two together, most feel that a helmet gives considerable protection.

Clearly, although many get passionate over the helmet issue, only a relative few want to make them mandatory. The majority feel it should be a personal choice.

My thanks to all who participated, and commented.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Cardboard Cycle, and a Bobby’s Bike Ban

Two stories to emerge from England over the last few days:

Phil Bridge, a 21 year old design student from Manchester, England, has designed the ultimate “Cheap” bike, made of cardboard.

A cycle made from re-cycled material; you can’t get any greener than that. Phil hopes his bike will sell for around fifteen British Pounds. ($30.)

The plan is that the bike will be so cheap, no one will steal it. Don’t count it, have you ever noticed that hotel coat-hangers are made without hooks, because people steal ’em. And if thieves don’t steal it, vandals might set fire to it.

No doubt, the honeycomb construction will ensure a sweet ride. I am wondering, will it come in a box, and will the box cost more than the frame? Here’s an idea, the box could be the frame. Now that’s thinking outside the box.

My apologies Phil for having fun with your project. As long as your business doesn’t fold, you’ll probably end up making a packet and retiring early.

All joking aside, I congratulate Phil Bridge. Whether or not this project turns into a practical application, anytime someone brings the concept of the bicycle to the forefront of the daily news, this is a good thing.

In addition, Phil has captured the media’s attention, and obtained worldwide publicity which, in of itself is a huge achievement.

Read the story in the Telegraph

The second story could be straight out of a British police comedy movie.

It is a news item about a British Bobby banned from riding his bike. The reason, he hasn’t passed the cycling proficiency test; even though Officer Nick Barker (Right.) has ridden a bike without incident since he was a kid.

It gets worse; it appears there are not enough police cars to go round, so Nick must ride the bus to patrol the three hamlets (Very small villages.) of Halstead, Knockholt and Badgers Mount, in Kent, in the South East corner of England.

If Nick happens to be in Knockholt and an incident takes place in Badgers Mount, he is at the mercy of the local bus schedule.

Let’s hope the crime rate is pretty low in this neck of the woods; never-the-less let Nick take his cycling proficiency course, and get him back on his bike pronto, before the local villains get hold of a bus time-table, and have a field day.

This story in the Daily Mail

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Fun: Limericks

I composed some limericks for your amusement, with a cycling flavor of course.

A professional golfer from Spain
Decided cycling would be his new game
He had a good year
'Til he slipped a gear
And dimpled his balls on the frame.

A roadie pedaling hard as he could
Was passed by a "Fred;" that’s not good
Legs, hairy and pale
With a flapping shirt tail
And a dirty sweat shirt with a hood.

Riding my bike, who would guess?
That I would come off second best
Got into a fight
With a girl at a light
Turned out, was a bloke* in a dress.

*bloke = man

This last one tells a story in four verses.

A weight weenie said with a grin
My bike is the lightest it’s been
I’ve got ceramic balls
That weigh nothing at all
Then his bike blew away in the wind.

It sailed ’cross the sky like a kite
Gave airline pilots a fright
Made the six o’clock news
And Larry King too
Spoke of a runaway satellite.

Landed in some Middle East Nation
They asked the US for explanation
But even Dick Cheney
Couldn’t explain the
Mysterious flying sensation.

The CIA probed the mystery
And George Bush had to go on TV
Let this be a lesson
A weight weenie’s obsession
Could’ve started World War III.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dear Penny

I came across this rant from someone in England, and decided to post my response. Here is the original piece and my reply:

“Dear Mr. Cyclist,

Please learn how to ride your bike on the roads.

Good for you being out riding your bike at 7.45am, Yay for the environment and Yay for your health and fitness, but there is no Yay for me being late to work, because I can’t drive around you. You are not doing the speed limit, you have space to ride your bike quite happily over to the left WHERE YOUR MEANT TO BE!

This is England, we have little roads that sometimes means it is impossible to get past you bikers when there is constant traffic on the other side of the road and when you are so far out that we have to actually drive on the other side to get past.

Kind Regards!

The Red Micra crawling behind you this fine morning.”

Dear Penny in your red Micra,

You just don’t get it do you. It is precisely because I do know how to ride my bike that I am riding out here a short distance from the edge of the road.

Oh I could ride on the extreme edge of the road, amongst all the broken glass and other crap people throw from their cars. Then you could speed on by at 60 mph. as if I didn’t exist.

But what if at the precise moment you pass, I come across a large pothole, a storm grate, or a fallen limb from a tree. Where do I go? Do I swerve into your path; do I hit the obstruction and risk falling under your wheels? Will you be able to stop at 60 mph, I doubt it.

I am not riding out here just to piss you off; I am riding out here because on this particular piece or road it is unsafe to pass me, unless you do it carefully. That means slowing down, waiting for a small gap in opposing traffic, and simply driving around me.

And no, you don’t have to go into the opposing lane to pass. If you include the short distance I am from the edge of the road, I am about four or five feet wide, and seven feet long, and traveling at 20 mph. It is not like passing a London Transport Bus; you will be past me lickidy-split and on your merry way.

Count how many times you are delayed and it is not a cyclist. On the Motorway (Freeway.) for instance; no cyclists there. How often do you have to sit behind someone waiting to turn? Do you get your knickers in a twist, and curse at the driver for being so inconsiderate as to stop in front of you while he waits to turn into his own driveway.

I will be always be considerate to you as long as doing so doesn’t endanger my life, that’s where I draw the line. If I am passing a row of parked cars for example, I am not going to ride within five feet of them. Drivers have been known to open their doors, knocking the cyclist in front of your red Micra speeding by.

So if I am in the middle of the lane at that point, I am sorry it is such an inconvenience for you to slow, signal, and move over to the other lane.

You would do well to remember I am a fellow human being, cut me I bleed; run over me and I squish and my bones break. I am someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s husband. These people would miss me terribly.

Oh, and if I should make you late for work. I am sorry, but I am not responsible for poor planning on your part. Try leaving home a few minutes earlier. You may get delayed by a traffic accident, road repairs, any number of reasons. It is all part of driving on the roads today.

Get used to it, and get over yourself, just because you are in a motorized vehicle and mine is pedal-powered. Does that make you more important that me, or my life any less valuable.


Dave Moulton

(Unofficial spokesman for cyclists.)

Footnote: Within minutes of posting my comment Penny deleted her post, and posted an apology here. See the first comment.

Thank you Penny.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bike lanes may disappear on Coleman Blvd.

The people of my home town of Charleston, South Carolina, are proud of the new Cooper River Bridge. (Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.) Opened in 2005, it is a beautiful structure, and connects the Charleston Peninsula with Mount Pleasant on the east side.

The new bridge replaced two older bridges (Since demolished.) built in 1929 and 1966. The old bridges were narrow and with no provision for pedestrians or bicycles.

Cyclists on the Charleston side, wishing to ride in the Mount Pleasant area, would have to transport their bikes across by car, and vice-versa. Commuting by bicycle or even walking the four miles across was not an option.

In the initial planning stages, the new bridge was also to be for motorized traffic only. However, local cycling advocacy groups, along with pedestrian and running groups successfully petitioned for a separate bicycle/pedestrian path to be added.

This is a tremendous triumph for these advocacy groups, because since it opened the path is used by hundreds of pedestrians, runners, and cyclists, every weekend.

Walking or riding the bridge is now one of the “must do” things for visitors to Charleston. The only way to really appreciate the view of the harbor and the old city of Charleston, is on foot or by bicycle.

The picture at the top shows the bridge from Charleston Harbor side, looking inland. The pedestrian/bike path can be seen on the near side. There is a cement barrier between the path and the motorized traffic, which is four lanes in either direction.

Recently the City of Charleston, built a bike/pedestrian path on Bay Street, leading onto the bridge path entrance.

On the Mount Pleasant side the path emerges on Coleman Blvd. This is a wide road, with a bike lane, two lanes of traffic each direction, and a center turn lane. Coleman Blvd. is the direct route to the beach communities of Sullivan’s Island, and The Isle of Palms.

Some disturbing news has just come from the City of Mount Pleasant. Together with the South Carolina Department or Transport, they are planning to remove part of the bike lane from Coleman Blvd. and reroute cyclists onto side streets.

The reason; to allow parallel parking of cars on Coleman Blvd. Once again, making provision for automobiles is more important than people. Pushing cyclists off onto side streets will only reinforce the average motorists view, that cyclists don’t belong on Coleman Blvd.

I rode Coleman Blvd. on Sunday, and I fail to see why they need to park cars on this particular road. It is a normal business district that you would see in any American city, and every business has its own ample parking lot.

Local bicycle advocacy groups are asking that they keep the bike lanes along side the parked cars. My personal view is that this is a bad idea. I must emphasize this is my view and not that of any other group.

This would not be a problem but for a certain number of drivers who can’t seem to exit a vehicle without flinging the door open with complete disregard for the passing cyclist in the bike lane.

This negligent action usually results in the death of the cyclist as he is knocked from his bicycle into the adjacent traffic lane and under the wheels of a passing vehicle. Two such deaths have occurred this month in Chicago, and in Moorestown, New Jersey.

The City of Chicago, which is trying very hard to encourage bicycle riding, has taken criticism for bike lanes next to parked cars. On their own city website, they have posted a safety tip urging cyclists to use the outside edge of the bike lane, leaving at least a four feet door zone. (Left.)

The Charleston area has precious few bike lanes as it is, we cannot afford to loose what we have. Mount Pleasant’s plans are a huge step backwards. We have this beautiful bridge with a bike path, encouraging people to ride over to Mount Pleasant. Cyclists need to be accommodated when they get there.

Here is an idea for the city planners. If you must park cars on Coleman Blvd. put a four foot “Door Zone” next to the parked cars. (Clearly marked “Door Zone.”) If necessary make the bike lane only eighteen inches or two feet wide at the point.

I feel this makes more sense than making a five-foot bike lane, then advising cyclists (On some obscure website.) to only use the outside one foot of the lane. Coleman Blvd. is a wide road; if necessary make the traffic lanes narrower and lower the speed limit.

It is my understanding that this whole parking cars issue is because of plans to make Mount Pleasant a new and vibrant town center. Lowering the speed limit and enforcing it, would ensure that motorist do not simply speed through on their way to the beach. And in doing so completely miss your new and vibrant town center.

More on the Coleman Blvd. plans here.

Footnote: In the top picture you can just see the two old bridges behind the new; as mentioned in the article, these have been demolished.