Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tattoo who?

When I was growing up tattoo's were on crusty sailors and ne'er do wells. You saw a tattoo you crossed the street with some pep in your step.

Today the younger ones get them to rebel or to make a personal statement or from peer pressure. A close observer would conclude that they simply want to look like a bunch of tools. I've read that many consider it a side of them that people don't know. This could very well be.

On the other hand it's quite possible this is a side people don't want to know:

Then again, maybe they do:

Still, one wonders if the other side couldn't be displayed on a custom made t-shirt.

A friend of mine recently went off to an island with his wife and returned with a tattoo. Nothing major, just a small shape - no animal, vegetable or mineral - on his lower left calf.

I don't know if the idea of it surged new life into his aging soul - as if suddenly the spring would return to the step and the autumn years would be filled with warm breezes and bright sunshine - or it was an alternative to the comb over or perhaps a replacement for washing that gray right out of your hair. No matter, I felt that I could have stepped in had I known that such a daffy idea was brewing beneath that frosty top. But I had no inkling he was about to go off and behave like an idiot.

I was concerned. Concern is something that old people become quite familiar with as we get... uh ... old. Not the least of these is the loss of marbles. Losing marbles is as high on the list as it gets. Well, wearing Depends is up there too. And death. Ok, marble loss should be third on the list. But if you lose enough marbles then the other two are no longer a concern, right? It's all very confusing. Anyway, it seemed that my good friend had misplaced a marble or two and I wasn't at all certain he had put in a good search for them. He seemed pleased with his new look.

Even though the adorned calf had jolted me I was not to rain on my friends parade. I kindly told him it was pretty "cool". I asked about it, how did he decide on the design, did it hurt, what did it cost...

I've even found the perfect gift for him to go along with his calf tattoo:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Win a bike

Public bikes is having a contest where you can win a bike.

"What you need to do to enter: Tell us in ~200 words or less where you would take us and what we would do on a 90 minute bicycle trip in your hometown."

First thing I want to know is how long are they staying and how many are coming? Will I need to freshen the linens? Is a continental breakfast expected?

I suppose that folks back in my hometown in Ohio are out of luck, unless 3 times around the town looking at the same 3 landmarks is the kind of 90 minutes that folks from the west coast dream of.

Still, it's a fine looking bike and I'm sure they're all good people.

So, write up a little volume and send it off if you're looking for a new bike with friends attached.  

New York City. Seems they've got a bit of a bicycle problem. 

They just agreed to pay out a cool million for the way that some of their men in blue treated a mass of riders. Now they're going to crack down on scofflaw bikers because there's in increase in pedestrian/cyclist confrontations

Seems like a perfect time for a bit of that distance and heart and fondness thing. Cooler heads and such. Hard to imagine the men in blue are going to be all warm and fuzzy to some scofflaw toodling along on the sidewalk after dishing out a cool mil to some of their brethren.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


The nifty thing about Europe (besides the Civilized riding) is the variety of bikes you can find there. The bike builders don't wait for someone to ask what kind of bike they'd like, they just go off and build the thing. One of my favorite sites/mags is Velo Vision because you get to see some of these things you otherwise wouldn't know existed. Here's a few I'd like to ride:

Shopping basket (Feetz bikes Netherlands)
The front leans into turns

Katz Switzerland (cool chain thingy)

Homemade England

I want one of these for winter riding!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Deer me

I like nature. I like animals. I don't eat them and figure they've as much right to their place on the planet as any of us. On my commute I've seen a lot of deer, rabbits and the occasional fox. When I drop down to the canal and take it the last 5 miles home I can see cranes and turtles and sometimes very large birds of prey - owls and buzzards (the big kind).

That's not to say that you'll find me in some small village gathering moss and watching nature do her thing.   I like my city life too. And that's the great thing about where I live, I'm a few miles from either.

The unfortunate part is of course that we have to intermingle and too often the poor creatures meet with one of the dreaded cars and we know who wins that engagement.  This morning one of the poor creatures came close to engaging a bicycle and I'm not at all certain who would have won that one.

I had just peaked a bridge over the beltway and was on the down side, going at a good clip. I had just checked my mirror for the dreaded cars and when looking back at the road saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was big and brown and coming straight at me from the right.

A deer had jumped the railing to cross the road and was midair and about to take the stuffing right out of me. Well. I like my stuffing and was fairly certain the deer liked its stuffing just as much. I soon was fist full of brakes and rear wheel sliding out into the road. I came to a very wobbly stop and the poor creature had landed a few feet in front of me and seemed quite startled as well as it's legs were flailing in all directions. We exchanged a brief glance. It recovered it's balance and bolted back over the railing and disappeared to from where it came.

I guess we were both too busy looking out for the dreaded car and didn't notice each other.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


More of the new fashion trend for bikes I saw on Urban Velo.

I suppose when one has to have the last word then one dons one of these things. I've made it clear that I am not qualified to pass any judgement on current fashion. My personal taste in dressing hasn't changed much in decades. That does not mean that in any given year I'm not in fashion. Fashion is cyclical. If you saw me now you could well be viewing the cover of the fall 2013 catalog.

This is surely a sign that there are more people biking. These good folks aren't making this stuff for the status quo. I doubt that the spandex clad warrior will be donning a black Callison with red edging on his/her next outing.

As I make my way around the city and surroundings I keep a sharp eye out for the interesting and unusual and can report that I have yet to see any interesting and unusual dressings.  I see the spandex clad warriors, the mountain bikers, the weekend riders on the comfort bikes but none of them have caused me to pull up and declare "Now that's stylin'!". For that matter I've yet to see any of the new designer bags and panniers. The one new thing I encounter are tools doing their bizarre fish tail brake dance on their fixies. 

The people I do see that are stylin' are older people, mostly women, on decades old bicycles with baskets in the front while sporting a nice garden wear sundress and well worn clogs. 

Maybe this is a European thing. But with a name like Casqu'En Ville it won't be long before it reaches the shores and is the next cool and hip thing. At least until 2013 when my stylin' makes a comeback.

Speaking of fixies, these good folk will sell you one for $299, speeding you on your way to angelic choirs singing hallelujah. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Dutch and the Americans

Recently a bunch of American city officials went off to the Netherlands to learn about how they got to where they are in terms of city biking.

There is some interesting information in the article but the big one is ignored. What they have ignored is the type of biking being done in these cities and towns: Civilized.

My neighbor has 3 girls and decided to encourage them to bike more. We are but a mile from the Capital Crescent Trail and from there it's up to Bethesda or down to Georgetown. He rounded them up and off they went with a plan to lunch in either or then make a leisurely return trip, happy in mind that all would enjoy the days outing of feast and fun.

Of course the poor man had to come to terms with the cloudiness that invades the minds of parents the world over. The very idea that he could take 3 girls on a short bicycle trip on a public path and all would be peaches and cream is the very definition of the clouded mind.

Apparently the littlest one is prone to a bit of the wobbly and a lack of concentration. I suppose this is to be expected from a 6 year old. The other two are prone to chatting and giggling and a lack of concentration. I suppose this is to be expected from 10 and 13 year olds. What the father failed to grasp was what was to be expected from the other bikers on the path.

The problem lies in the manner of biking we here in the US engage in. "Civilized" gives way to a more get out of my way attitude.

The parent, only out to spend some time and a nice lunch with the offspring, is not prepared for the mentality of the US biker. Leisurely is not part of the vocabulary.

The father complained to me about this approach and wonders how anyone can enjoy biking on these paths. Which brings us to the survey. In the article they say that 60% of people surveyed in the US would like to bike more but feel it's unsafe. They are referring to roads with cars. The Dutch are addressing this by going with more separate bike roads. The Americans see this as the way to go.

They are ignoring the one thing that will keep most of those 60% in their cars regardless of how many separate bike paths they manage to create: the US biker.