Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Brief History of the Runwell Cycle Company of Birmingham

Note: There is no official history of the company, and no collection of company records, with the exception of a few scrapbooks at the University of Warwick (UK). Since the author of this article did not have access to these scrapbooks, much of this information has been gathered through Internet research. If you believe any of this information is inaccurate, or if you would like to add something, please feel free to submit corrections or contributions.

For most Britishers, the name Runwell today connotes a mental hospital and community of that name east of London. However, between 1904 and the 1960s, it was also a small bicycle manufacturing firm located in Birmingham. The Runwell Cycle Company produced bicycles of several makes to meet the high domestic and export demand for bicycles in the first half of the twentieth century. By the post-World War II period, the ascendance of major manufacturers like Raleigh, and the declining popularity of bicycling, had forced many smaller companies like Runwell out of existence.

The Runwell Cycle Company was founded by William Henry Jennings (born 1873 in Derby, England). When Jennings was twenty, he moved to Leeds, where he was listed as a “clothier’s traveler.” By 1904, he had moved to Birmingham, where he founded the Runwell Cycle Company on Lawson Street.

Jennings’s granddaughter remembers her grandfather as a kind, generous, and good-hearted man:

My earliest vivid memory of my grandfather is of my grandfather’s 60th birhday party in London before the war. Grandpa was a member of the Magic Circle and entertained all his small children (grown-ups, too!) with conjuring tricks, to their great delight. During the war, he stayed in London (14 Great Eastern Street) and I visited him there when the war ended.

In 1945 my father had settled in the country in Warwickshire and it was then that grandpa gave me and my brothers a Runwell cycle each, which gave us the much appreciated freedom of being able to roam the countryside during our teen years. Grandpa wrote to us, too, and also gave us very generous birthday presents. I always remember him as being kind and generous and I believe his staff thought this too.

The Runwell Cycle Company started small, but “through sheer hard work and business acumen,” Jennings expanded the business until he had depots and branches in most of Britain’s large towns, and an overseas depot in Java.

One of Jennings’s daughters recalls that:

Father knew all of his workforce by name and never employed anyone who belonged to a Union. There was always a happy atmosphere and we enjoyed going round the factory talking to the people and watching them tune the spokes in the wheels. He used to leave us on the a.m. train and came home twelve hours later and brought work to do on the weekends.

The Runwell company relied on the strength of its bicycle frames and the quality of their construction to sell bicycles, rather than their brand name alone. In their advertising, they advocated quality workmanship and affordability as virtues of a good bicycle. Runwell originally manufactured only bicycles, but by the late 1920s seems to have also begun manufacturing toys and sundries, and by the 1950s had also begun manufacturing parts and accessories for the auto industry. While still focused on building quality bicycles, their earlier advertising claim that, “we concentrate our energies on bicycles alone” fell by the wayside. By the 1960s, the firm was known primarily as a parts and accessories supplier, and no images or examples of advertising could be located after 1961.

The Runwell bicycle in the author’s collection features a distinctive design element of the Runwell brand that was most likely in production in the 1930s: an unusual “rigid safety frame” design that includes an extra angled support connecting the head tube and top tube. Other features of the author’s late 1920s or 1930s model are provided here for reference purposes: rod brake on front wheel, Perry single-speed coaster brake hub on rear wheel, Westwood rims front and back, bottom bracket oiler, hub oilers, 32-spoke front wheel, 40-spoke rear wheel.

I have gathered a gallery of images of Runwell bicycles and advertising here. Hopefully it will grow over time.

*All quotations from original correspondence with Julia Jennings, 28 October 2008.

Say It Loud: "I Ride and I'm Proud"

I've made no secret of the fact that I am a strong believer in full fenders (or "wheelbrows") for everyday, non-competitive cycling--so much so that I even produced a PSA. The truth is, while some may scoff, a set of wheelbrows can keep you significantly drier in wet conditions and is far more effective than a clip-on "filth prophylactic." I've also occasionally employed actor Peter Gallagher's lush eyebrows in order to issue advisories when weather conditions calling for wheelbrows are imminent--even though, to my knowledge, Peter Gallagher is not particularly interested in cycling. Well, you can imagine my pleasure when Peter Gallagher, his eyebrows, and cycling finally came together in the season premiere of the Showtime series "Californication" this past Sunday. That's right--Peter Gallagher was riding a bike.

Unfortunately, like a teenager in a crowded house with only one bathroom, my pleasure was short-lived. Not only was Peter Gallagher's bike depressingly bereft of wheelbrows, but Gallagher himself was also dressed like a complete doofus, complete with pointy time trial helmet:

Actually, I'm not sure this is Peter Gallagher at all--it could be a stunt rider. At least one commenter has observed that Cadel Evans looks a bit like Gallagher, so at first I thought maybe it was the newly-rainbowed World Champion:

However, it seemed more likely to me that they'd pick an American rider, so my next guess was George "Bad Luck" Hincapie (click here for the Hincapie theme song):

But while it was tempting to imagine that Hincapie is picking up a little off-season bakshish (which is not to be confused with a little Wednesday hashish) by doing stunt work in Hollywood, it really doesn't look like him, so I ultimately decided that, if this is indeed a stunt rider, then it's Grant Petersen. (I based this decision solely on the rider's upright position.)

If you're unfamiliar with "Californication," it's about a lascivious, hedonistic writer with a heart of gold who's played by David Duchovny. He also drives a beat-up Porsche, which symbolizes his downfall from literary wunderkind to washed-up cad. In any case, Duchovny is in a hurry to get to the next scene, so he starts honking impatiently at Gallagher, or Evans, or Hincapie, or Petersen, or whoever is actually riding the bike:

Predictably, an argument ensues and obscenities are exchanged:

(At this point it's definitely Gallagher, though he might be using stunt eyebrows.)

As the argument escalates, Duchovny exclaims, "Live Strong, asshole," and flicks his cigarette right into Gallagher's face:

Presumably, this causes Gallagher's trademark bushy eyebrows to burst into flames, and he (well, the stunt double) winds up crashing headlong into somebody's flower box:

("Do not put anything in my flower box"--including Peter Gallagher's stunt double.)

Of course, it turns out the dinner party to which Duchovny is headed (unbeknownst to him) is actually at Gallagher's house, which I believe they call either "situational irony" or "hackneyed plotting." Here's Gallagher a little while later in his non-cycling attire, having fortunately survived his journey into the flower box:

If you want to actually watch this for yourself, you can do so for free at, though be aware it is heavily censored--especially the weird "mangina" scene:

Anyway, after watching this scene, I felt torn. (I mean the driver/cyclist encounter scene, not the mangina scene.) On one hand, here is the "mainstream" media once again making cyclists look foolish. On the other hand, it is only a TV show, and Duchovny's character is supposed to be an asshole. Also, while we don't really know Peter Gallagher's character very well yet, I'm sure he's supposed to be the sort of Fredly person who would ride around slowly in a time trial helmet. So really, it's foolish to get offended by art (or at least entertainment). Plus, in real life David Duchovny is actually a triathlete, as you can see from this video which I have edited slightly to conform to the Mavic R-Sys testway:

Even so, one can't help finding these sorts of portrayals somewhat vexing. In a way, Duchovny ridiculing a dorky cyclist when he is actually a dorky cyclist himself is reminiscent of a time when actors had to change their names in order to hide their cultural backgrounds. (Fortunately, those days are well behind us, which is why the host of "The Daily Show," Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, proudly uses his given name.) One wonders what other "celebrities" are also cyclists. Sure, we know about Carson Daly, and Jake Gyllenhaal, and even Conan Vinokourov. But that's just the tip of the Fredberg. The guy who coined the phrase "weird style diktats" recently forwarded me this photo of Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts, and as you can see Schreiber is not only "palping" a set of celebrity-approved aero extensions, but he's also coming in for a textbook sidewalk "schluff:"

That notwithstanding, it pleases me to see two people enjoying themselves on bikes. The fact is, Hollywood's relationship with cycling is an uneasy one--like homosexuality, it seems like something they're reluctant to embrace even though many of them are doing it. Similarly, the relationship between the media and the fixed-gear trend is equally strained, and a reader has informed me that one outlet is boldly announcing its death:

Intrigued, I read the Washington Post article referenced in the post, and it certainly was one of the most refined fixed-gear form articles I've read in quite some time. It contained all the necessary elements. There was the dubious explanation of how a fixed-gear works:

The "fixie bliss" testimonial:
And a reference to the brake debate:

Nothing says "street cred" like "brakeless" and "high school math teacher."

Really, the only way to date a fixed-gear form article is by the bicycle models it references. This one is clearly more current since it references the Globe Roll:

In case you're wondering, "late adopters" is the polite industry term for the people who decided to buy fixed-gears after the "culture" closed, and who are more colloquially referred to as "n00bs." These people are in contrast to "pioneers" like Garrett Chow, who have been riding fixed-gears since waaay back in 2003. In the world of fixed-gear marketing, it's very important to read the subtext. When Chow says, "This is a lifestyle tool," he really means, "This is a lifestyle, tool." Clearly the reporter did not pick up on his inflection. It's a polite way of saying, "All you 'n00bs' suck my product."

The truth is, the simple act of cycling can be a source of tremendous embarrassment and guilt. Between the closeted celebrities and self-conscious "late adopters" it can seem like nobody's comfortable simply getting on a bike. And when cycling is combined with white gentrification, the embarrassment and guilt can be, well, palpable:

Sorry I spat at you this morning - w4m - 29 (Clinton Hill)
Date: 2009-09-29, 9:49PM EDT
Reply To This Post

I'm a white woman who was riding my bike to work this morning, and you were a young Black adolescent boy (either really young or really short). As I rode past you, you suddenly lunged at me and barked really loudly and scared the shit out of me, which was your intention. So I spit at you, out of rage, without thinking, and I rode away. You shouldn't do things like that because they are dangerous and can cause accidents. But I really shouldn't have spit at you, and I'm sorry. I think that automatic, but rather weak glob of saliva that I dropped in your direction was fueled by years of bike commutes full of pedestrians, motorists, and even other cyclists doing and saying really fucked up things to me that I always ignored, but the hostility built up. And years of feeling frustrated and angry and guilty when groups of young Black men in my neighborhood would periodically decide to chase me and threaten me and say sexually disgusting things to me and just generally make me feel unsafe in my gender because of resentment and tension around the fact that I'm a gentrifier. But my spitting at you just adds to whatever it was that made you feel like you should try and scare me, which is not at all what I want to do. You acted obnoxiously, but you did not deserve to be spit at. Not at all. I'm sorry we had that interaction, and I'm sorry we represented to each other what we did, and I hope that if we ever run into each other again, we can just recognize each other as two people who have a lot going on in their lives and who just want to go to where they're going on peace.

Flicking a cigarette at a Fred is bad enough, but spitting on a child is something else entirely. Whether it's bikes or people, sometimes it seems like "gentrifiers" are far too preoccupied with colorway.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Sepeda-Sepeda Sana-Sini       Di situs ini, kami akan memperkenalkan sepeda-sepeda yang saat ini menjadi koleksi keluarga. Meskipun bukan sepeda "high-end", tetapi merupakan kebanggaan kami, karena nyaris semuanya dirakit di rumah sendiri. Upaya yang dimulai dari mengumpulkan alat-alat (tools) spesifik sepeda sampai perlengkapan untuk pemeliharaannya.  Aktivitas tersendiri dalam merakit dan memelihara yang menghabiskan banyak waktu selain kegiatan bersepeda sendiri.
       Yogyakarta, kota dimana kami tinggal, dulunya dikenal sebagai "kota sepeda". Setidaknya sudah 3 generasi di keluarga kami akrab dengan sepeda. Tidak hanya untuk ke tempat kerja atau sekolah, tetapi juga sebagai sarana rekreasi. Saat ini memang kegiatan "cross-country" adalah yang paling mendominasi kegiatan bersepeda keluarga.
       Sebuah kesinambungan sejak era tahun 1970an, hobby bersepeda dilakukan dengan menjelajah alam dan desa melalui jalan tanah setapak yang waktu itu dilakukan dengan sepeda klasik. Tidak heran kalau mayoritas koleksi sepeda kami adalah mountain-bike khususnya dengan spesifikasi cross-country.

Pic of the Week

(Klik gambar untuk arsip "Picture of the Week" yang lalu)

       This site contains everything about bicycles owned by our family. Although, they do not classified as high-end bikes, but we proudly collect them. Almost all parts of those bicycles were house-assembled. The effort begins with buying specific tools for bike and any other goods and equipments for maintenance. Assemble and maintenance bicycles takes a lot of time others than cycling activities.
       We live in a town named Yogyakarta, which formerly well known as a "bike city". At least three generations in our family have become bike friendly. Not only brought us to work or school, but also for recreational purposes. Nowadays, the family biking activities dominated by cross-country outdoor events.
       We do it continuously since ca. 1970 using "classical" bikes for crossing bushes, village tracks, and rice field step ways. It’s an understandable thing that mostly our collections are cross-country specific bikes.

        Ce site contient tout ce qui a la relation avec les bicyclettes. Bien que ce ne soit pas celles de qualité suprème, mais pour nous c'est vraiment une fierté de les collectionner. Presque toutes les parties de ces bicyclettes sont assemblées à la maison. On commence par acheter des appareils pour bicyclette et d'autres objets et équipements pour les maintenir. L'assemblage et le maintien prennent autant de temps que l'activité du cyclisme.
        On habite une ville qui s'appelle Yogyakarta, qui était auparavant connue comme "la ville des vélos". Ça fait trois générations dans notre famille qu'on est très familier avec le vélo. On le prend non seulement pour aller au travail ou à l'école, mais c'est aussi un moyen de récréation. A présent le "cross country" domine l'activité du cyclisme de la famille.
        C'est une habitude qui se déroule depuis l'année 1970, utilisant des vélos 'classiques' pour traverser des buissons, la campagne, les sentiers des rizières. C'est la raison pourquoi on préfère avoir des vélos du type 'cross-country' comme collection.

         Auf dieser Seite wollen wir die Fahrraeder vorstellen die zur Zeit unserer Familie gehoeren.Obwohl diese Raeder keine "high-end" Geraete sind, sind wir recht stolz auf sie, haben wir sie doch alle selbst hier im Hause zusammengebaut. Der Aufwand begann mit der Zusammenstellung der speziellen Fahrrad Werkzeuge bis hin zur Vervollstaendigung der "tools" die zur Instandhaltung noetig sind. Ganz zu schweigen vom betraechtlichen Zeitaufwand fuer die Bikes. Einerseits fuer den Zusammenbau und die Instandhaltung andrerseits die Zeit fuer die eigentlichen Radfahr -Aktivitaeten.
        Yogyakarta, die Stadt in der wir leben, war frueher bekannt als "Radler-Stadt".In unserer Familie werden Raeder schon seit mehr als 3 Generationen verwendet. Nicht nur um zur Arbeit zu fahren oder in die Schule, aber auch als echtes Freizeitvergnuegen. Zur Zeit ist "Cross-Country" unser beliebtester Familiensport.
         Diese Ausfluege wurden seit 1970 mehr und mehr zum Hobby. Mit "klassischen" Bikes geht es durch die Landschaft, zu entlegenen Doerfern, an Reisfeldern vorbei, durch Baeche und Fluesse... Verstaendlich dass wir deswegen hauptsaechlich "Cross-Country" Raeder in unserem Radstall haben !

More Carbon More Problems: Save Your Money, Keep Your Integrity

As I mentioned yesterday, at least one cycling website feels that a $1,000 power meter was the most exciting thing at Interbike, due largely to the fact that in the strange and anal retentive world of quantifying your own inadequacy $1,000 is considered cheap for a power meter. Well, part of the reason I was less than impressed is that I don't read Interbike coverage to see "cheap" stuff; I read it to see stuff that's so stupendously expensive that only the most delusional person would even consider paying half the full retail price. Fortunately, Reynolds has come to my rescue with a wheelset that costs $6,000, and if you don't believe a wheelset could possibly be worth $6,000 then perhaps the fact that Reynolds has actually purchased the URL "" will convince you otherwise:

So what else are you paying for besides a website? Well, one thing you're paying for is carbon spokes, and unlike the spokes on the wheel you're probably "palping" these are under no tension. As Reynolds puts it, "No tension. No problem." That's certainly catchy, though I did have trouble wrapping my mind around their explanation:

Reynolds says their spokes are " the hub and the rim with no tension." Then it says, "This is important because, while carbon spokes perform well in tension, they are less reliable in compression." So if carbon spokes perform well in tension then why don't they use it? I don't know. Perhaps if I were smarter I would understand. Furthermore, I'd also understand why these wheels are worth $6,000. As it is, I guess it's my own ignorance that is preventing me from fully understanding and appreciating them. Sometimes it pays to be stupid.

But while I don't understand Reynolds's seemingly contradictory marketing copy, I certainly do understand why they're selling a wheelset with carbon spokes. Considering Mavic's explosive success with the R-Sys, how could they not? Furthermore, companies are clearly still experimenting with ways to make a reliable carbon spoke, and how could roadies and triathletes possibly resist spending thousands of dollars to be the Rhesus Monkeys in these experiments? Plus, Mavic may very well have found a solution to their self-destructing carbon spoke problem. No, they haven't actually fixed the wheel; rather, they've come up with a reassuring slogan:

I encountered this while reading Competitive Cyclist's Interbike report, which included some bold Mavic testing videos meant to reassure an understandably skeptical public. Here's one where they smash both a Ksyrium and an R-Sys:

"The wheel keeps its integrity" is clearly French for "All you haters suck my balls." However, I remain unconvinced. If you watch the way the Ksyrium wheel breaks, the spokes bend for awhile--actually, I'm not sure they even break at all. On the other hand, the spokes of the R-Sys snap immediately upon impact like pieces of Men's Pocky. As for the other videos, I'll concede that if your typical ride involves "intrusion tests" and simulated potholes then the R-Sys could very well be the wheel for you.

But while wheel manufacturers continue trying to crack the carbon spoke problem by figuring out how to make a carbon spoke that won't crack, the fixed-gear "culture" (which, of course, is now closed) still does its best to remain elusive and inscrutable to those unfortunate enough not to have gained access during the "open enrollment period" (which was roughly 2003 to 2009). For example, until recently it seemed fairly obvious that the correct way to lock a fixed-gear bicycle was the "Hipster High-Lock:"

However, this morning I happened to pass the very same bicycle in the very same place, only to find it locked at ground level:

Clearly, the fixed-gear culture realizes that outsiders are not only aware of the Hipster High-Lock, but are even employing it on geared bikes. As such, they're quite literally "taking it back to the streets" by dispensing the technique altogether. Either that, or it could be that the height at which fixed-gear riders lock their bikes is determined in the same way as the height at which government institutions fly their flags. Ordinarily, fixed-gear riders may fly their bikes high by locking them atop fences, trees, and lampposts. However, when a hipster tragedy takes place, perhaps they choose to fly them at half mast. I'm not sure what the reason would be for today's display, though it could have something to do with Roman Polanski's arrest.

It could also simply be that fixed-gear culture is mourning its own death. Some of you may recall a Craigslist conversion factory called 718 Cyclery, "curators" of such classics as the Bumblebee Bike. Well, I guess even Republic/Urban Outfitters cannot meet the demands of the masses the fixed-gear "culture" left behind, because judging from this Craigslist post it seems as though 718 Cyclery is thriving:

718 Cyclery Fixie Fixed Gear Bicycle Conversion Restoration Shop
Date: 2009-09-27, 7:51PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

I own and operate an independent shop that converts new and vintage (i.e. "older") road frames from the 60's, 70's and 80's into modern bikes (commuters, fixies, 3 speed, etc), complete with all new components and a professional powder-coated finish. In addition to building my own projects, about half of what I do is build collaboratively with people who want to learn how to build. The atmosphere at my shop is free from arrogance and attitude. My bikes have been featured in Bust Magazine ( and I have great reviews on yelp when yelp decides to show all of my reviews (

We have a custom wheel building shop, and also have an exclusive relationship with The Mission Bicycle Company to use their frame in our builds

To book a free consultation/appointment/shop tour, go to my website and click the "Book Now" button on the right to access my online calendar.

Check out my website at (, to see whats for sale, whats in progress, how our collaborative build program works and what we're all about.

I did visit 718 Cyclery's website to see what they're all about, and I feel like I've got a pretty good idea. However, I'm still not sure what part wood screws play in bicycle assembly or why you would align your truing stand's indicators with your spoke nipples:

Still, I was impressed to learn that 718 Cyclery's work has been featured in Bust magazine:

Of course, Bust published in its prestigious "One-Handed Read" series the now-classic fixed-gear flat-fix sex story, which features one of the most famous opening sentences in American letters:

And, as the Craigslist ad promises, 718 Cyclery are indeed reviewed on Yelp. In fact, they've got five stars:

I should add though that this rating is based on a single review:

"This joint, and, in particular, its owner Joe, has provided me with countless minutes of entertainment."

If Bumblebee Bikes, One-Handed Reads, and backhanded compliments are not enough to convince you to see 718 Cyclery for your next conversion, maybe it's because you're from "nonhipster Williamsburg:"

I was recently reading a New York Times article having nothing to do with cycling when I noticed the above qualification, and I find it amusing that Williamsburg has become so trendy that simply entering it is now a threat to one's "street cred." Personally, I think this sort of thing is unnecessary, and I'm sure most people understand that not all of Williamsburg has been hipsterified. Furthermore, simply entering Williamsburg does not necessarily mean one is a hipster or is conducting hipster business, just like simply entering a bathroom does not necessarily mean one has to urinate. Sure, if you entered Williamsburg on a 718 Cyclery fixed-gear conversion then the evidence is damning, but it's equally possible you entered it on a distinctly unhip shopping cart bike conversion:

I only hope this one has been properly tested:

All you haters suck my integrity.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Power Struggle: Sucking, and Sucking it Up

While bicycles and motor vehicles can often run afoul of each other with disastrous consequences, the issue of bicycles and pedestrians can be no less contentious. This is especially true in big cities like New York, where cyclists and pedestrians often follow their own interpretations of street signs and laws. In fact, this past weekend, the New York Times published an op-ed piece by Robert Sullivan about the problem of cyclist-pedestrian intermingling on the Brooklyn Bridge:

As you may be aware, there is a genteel, non-competitive cycling conspiracy (GNCCC) afoot (or awheel) in New York City, and to a certain extent Robert Sullivan is its literary voice, giving it ready access to media outlets such as the Times. Furthermore, David Byrne is the conspiracy's celebrity spokesperson because his rock star status appeals to the youth (in the context of the GNCCC, the "youth" means people 55 and under), and the Dutch city bike is its de facto symbol and totem. While ostensibly the GNCCC is pro-cycling and works in our favor, there runs beneath it a sinister undercurrent of elitism, strange helmets, and pro-Dutch propaganda.

Robert Sullivan is also the father of "schluffing" (or "dorklocross") which is a means of propelling your bicycle demurely on the sidewalk:

In any case, it's true that the Brooklyn Bridge is full of tourists who often step into the bike lane and in front of cyclists, which can lead to tragic Giuseppe Guerini scenarios. This is extremely frustrating for everybody involved. As such, I read Sullivan's op-ed with interest. Fortunately, he did not advocate "schluffing" across the bridge, though he did take the opportunity to admonish faster cyclists:

On the other side of the line are two kinds of bicyclists, most pedaling peacefully, a few confusing bike commuting with driving rocket cars on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

While we've all encountered the overzealous commuter, this sort of finger-wagging (which is not to be confused with fingerbanging) is also typical of members of the GNCCC, to whom a reckless cyclist is anybody who rides faster than 10mph, or whose bars are not higher than his saddle, or who has the temerity to cycle without essential safety gear such as flat pedals, a tweed blazer, or a baguette. Also, I'm not sure why Sullivan finds himself beset by rocket cars, unless he keeps encountering faired recumbents.

Despite this, I found myself agreeing with the essential point of Sullivan's piece:

Thus, I present the following condition. Yes, ban bicycles on the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, but allow them on the roadways, where they are now not permitted, by creating physically protected bike lanes.

This makes good sense to me. The Brooklyn Bridge is a major tourist attraction, and as such it must be readily accessible to tourists. Furthermore, an essential component of being a tourist is wandering about oblivious and agog, like a teenager in a strip club. This sort of behavior is just not conducive to sharing space with cyclists, who for the most part are simply concerned with getting someplace. So by all means, give the pretty part of the bridge with the view to the tourists, and give a portion of the roadway to cyclists, so that each can use the bridge for their preferred purpose unmolested.

Unfortunately, shortly after this, like an overeager fingerbanger who attempts to employ an additional digit Sullivan goes too far:

If we bicyclists cede the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, then it might be a step toward winning the public’s respect. Then, just maybe, pedestrians would call a truce and recognize that their real enemy is the car, that bikers are like pedestrians in that they are just trying to get to work without the use of a gurney.

Cycling's enemy is not the car; it is the idiot. And idiots travel by foot, car, and bicycle. If anything, the bicycle has more in common with the car than it does with the pedestrian, since the bicycle is a vehicle too. Really, the problem is that too many people don't consider bicycles vehicles (which is why they tell us to "Get on the sidewalk!"), coupled with the fact that too many cyclists don't ride like they're operating vehicles in the first place. Also, try telling a pedestrian who's been hit by a cyclist that his real enemy is the car. If we start equating cycling with pedestrianism instead of vehicle use then before you know it we'll all be "schluffing." Anyway, everybody knows the enemy of the cyclist and the pedestrian is not the car; it's the Rollerblader:

When it comes to sharing our roadways, the most important thing is to retain our humanity by respecting our fellow humans. And you are a human, whether you're using a vehicle or you're on foot. However, I believe that the Rollerblader is exempt from this, since the very act of Rollerblading is a denial of humanity. Rollerblades are not vehicles; they are attempts to actually transform the body into something else. This is acceptable and necessary when you must venture into other environments that are inhospitable to human life. If you need to go underwater, you use flippers and a scuba tank. If you need to go into space, you wear a spacesuit. However, simply moving about outside does not require putting on shoes with wheels. When you do this, you're not a vehicle user, nor are you a pedestrian. Instead, you simply combine the most irritating elements of both and become a menace. Consider the act of Rollerblading:

The green arrows represent the Rollerblader's wingspan, which is considerable and far exceeds the width of even New York City's ample new bike lanes. Furthermore, the blue arrows represent the sweeping arc of the foot, and if you somehow manage to avoid being slapped in the face you still have to contend with a wayward skate. Meanwhile, while the black line represents the ostensible direction of the skater, the red arrows depict the skater's actual motion as he propels himself forward. Of course, "Rollerblade" is actually a brand, and what many of us call "Rollerblading" is actually inline skating. (Just like cycling is not "Schwinning.") However, while the wheels on the skates may be in line, there's little that's linear about the actual skater, who extends along all axes like a windmilling kindergardener or the frills of a Giant Koosh Ball of Death. In short, modifying the human body in this manner is only acceptable when it's essential for human survival. Otherwise, it's simply a selfish waste of public space.

Still, for the most part I did find myself agreeing with much of what Sullivan had to say in his op-ed, and I found that surprising--almost as surprising as Cadel Evans's World Championship win:

Despite my surprise, as a cycling fan I was very pleased to see Cadel finally go from whining to winning. Moreover, he didn't just win--he won in a decisive and impressive fashion. I only hope he manages to avoid the dreaded "curse of the rainbow jersey," and that those stripes don't complicate his life in the same way the Ring complicated things for his cousin Frodo.

Meanwhile, Interbike is finally over, and it turns out that the reason I didn't find any of the stuff I saw online exciting is that I don't have a proper appreciation for power meters:

While a power meter is certainly an important tool for a professional cyclist, the bulk of them are of course sold to amateurs who misinterpret their amateur status and poor results as signs that they need to spend a huge amount of money on a power meter when in fact their amateur status and poor results are actually the very reasons they don't need a power meter. If you're an amateur, buying a power meter to train is like hiring an accountant to tell you how broke you are or like buying an iPhone just to check your Cannondale stock. Yet amateurs not only buy power meters, but they think $1,000 for a power meter is actually cheap. Clearly then, I will make a fortune when I introduce my own power meter at next year's Interbike, since it will be the cheapest and most accurate one ever. Yes, for $5 you'll get an LCD display which constantly flashes the message, "You suck."

If that's not enough data for you and you crave downloadable information, simply plug your own license number into the USA Cycling website and analyze away.

Friday, 25 September 2009

BSNYC Friduciary Fung Quiz!

If you're a cyclist, you've almost certainly been hit or almost hit at some point by a driver who's either oblivious or actively stupid. This is especially irritating since many of us are also motor vehicle owners or at least occasional drivers. Yet somehow when we're riding we find ourselves demoted to the status of squirrels, in that most drivers simply leave all the evasive action up to us. Survival is our problem. But as stupid as some drivers are, it would appear that they're not entirely to blame--it's also their driving instructors who train them to behave stupidly. Take for instance this vehicle I encountered yesterday:

As it passed me, I noticed that the driver--who, one would assume, was the student--was talking on a cellphone. Moreover, the passenger--who, one would assume, was the instructor--was actually holding the cellphone to the driver's ear for her. Now, it's illegal to use a hand-held cellphone while driving in New York State. However, in this case we enter a nebulous "grey area," since it is legal to talk on a cellphone while driving if you use a hands-free device. So, in this case, does the driving instructor himself constitute a hands-free device? Moreover, ITTET, are people now renting themselves out as human Bluetooths? And, perhaps most importantly, when someone gets run over by a driver who's talking on a phone someone else is holding for him, is the victim less likely to be injured or killed than they are by a driver who's holding the phone himself?

Of course, we can at least take comfort in the fact that drivers don't always run into cyclists because they didn't see them or because they actively hate them. Sometimes, they actually do it because they're overwhelmed by feelings of lust for them:

Cute bearded boy on bike peddling down 6th Avenue (South Slope - 6th Ave & 15th Street)
Date: 2009-09-24, 8:26PM EDT

Just a few seconds more of my looking and I may very well have crashed into something. That street is tight. You were biking, bearded and with nice hair and all, in the opposite direction. All I needed was a few seconds to see you were super cute....I think you looked back :) at least I hope you were looking at me and not just at my tank of a car, as to avoid me not hitting you

Yes, next time someone driving a "tank of a car" almost plows into you, just comfort yourself with the knowledge that they may actually be fantasizing about gaining access to your "viscous comfort zone." Then again, it could just be that they're distracted by olfactory hallucinations which cause them to smell bagels even when there are none around:

I asked if you smelled Bagels - m4w (21st and 1st ave. 8.45 am)
Date: 2009-09-24, 10:01AM EDT

You were wearing a nice dress and rode a blue bike. I asked you, a bit randomly, if you caught the intense smell of Bagels at that corner. It was an excuse to talk to you, of course, but it also is a legitimate question -- I catch that smell lots of mornings and, well, there's never anyone around to mention it to. So thanks for being there.
Also, you are totally beautiful.

I guess it's better than smelling burnt toast.

In any case, it gives me pleasure to present you with a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right you'll know, and if you're wrong you see Fixed Gear Steven doing a bunch of elephant trunk skids in a parking lot.

As always, thanks for reading, ride safe, and if you smell bagels see a doctor.


1) In which city can you find this vestigial parking meter?

2) "It's spreading!" The "Hipster High-Lock" bicycle parking technique (employed here on a geared bike) has migrated to:

--Birmingham, AL
--Louisville, KY

3) In fixed-gear circles, it is acceptable when "palping" drop bars to employ the "Hipster Handhold."

4) According to Honda, what will this new Segway-esque rolling stool thing do?

5) According to a recent New York Times article, how much "give" does a thread from the golden orb spider of Madagascar have?

This dog can focus! The lovers have unlocked now, and the others pass by one after another and smell the sad gal's pussy, but they make no attempt to mount her. The two lovers now lick their privates...possibly to ease the pain of being stuck together.

6) The above is an excerpt from which book?

I remember my first time. My resident expert reminded me of the mantra as I rolled away, "You just can't stop pedaling." From the second I slid my feet into the baskets (there to keep your feet from flaking out on the eternal task at hand) and gave them a push, I could feel the connection fix devotees describe. Push harder and you're empowered with this instant sense of control and command. The bike moves with you. It responds without any hesitation or hiccup in its cadence from the clicks and delayed catch of a chain to a different gear.

7) Which is the latest media outlet to publish a fixed-gear form article?

***Special "You're Not Worthy" Bonus Question***

One other thing: We'd like to make a formal request to the pricing police to spare us any slings and arrows of criticism about the cost of these wheels. The time involved in procuring the rims alone should make them cost twice as much. These rims are rare icons of PRO cycling as performed in its most intense and romantic circumstances. If you're lacking in the appropriate cultural sensitivity we won't hold it against you. But, likewise, this fact deprives you of standing to bitch about the cost.

Which company includes the above admonishment in the copy for its $1,275 32-hole box section rim wheelset?

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