Archive for the ‘BIKING CULTURE’ Category
I really like Bay Area Bikes.
And did I mention they are a Brompton dealer.
The staff is friendly and they have a good selection of practical gear like this assortment of metal racks and wicker baskets.
I’ve been coveting a Bern commuting helmet for some time. It wasn’t to be, however. Not this time at least.
I recently tagged along with a friend on a visit to Bay Area Bikes in Oakland so she could make some adjustments to her Brompton.
This time, with the introduction of NYC’s bicycle share program, the storied literary magazine has a genuinely newsworthy reason to feature bicycles on their cover.
There was also this cover from back in February.
Can you count all the hipster tropes?
- thick-framed eyewear
- food truck
- body ink
- knit cap
- duffle coat w/ toggles
- discriminating (if not condescending) gaze
- Brooklyn residence
Did I miss anything?
The 4th annual Pt. Reyes Birding and Nature Festival is going on this weekend.
As a novice birder, I settled on a beginner’s 3-hour bird walk through the meadows and forests near the Pt. Reyes visitor center off of Bear Valley Road. Rich Cimino, with 45-years of birding experience, lead the walk. (Rich also runs a company, Yellowbilled Birding, specializing in small group, birding trips, in the western US.)
The most exciting sightings for me were the Purple Finch and Winter Wren. The latter has one of the most complex songs of any bird (listen on this page). The Winter Wren can be quite elusive and difficult to spot. Rich said it takes some California birders many years before they see one!
Here’s my list of the birds I spotted:
- California Quail
- Turkey Vulture
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Acorn Woodpecker
- Nuttall’s Woodpecker
- Great Horned Owl (heard, not seen)
- Stellar’s Jay
- Western Scrub Jay
- American Crow
- Common Raven
- Violet-green Swallow
- Winter Wren
- American Robin
- Wilson’s Warbler (heard, not seen)
- Purple Finch
The previous day’s schedule had a workshop called Birding by Bike at Bolinas. Here’s an excerpt from the on-line class description.
Whether you are a beginning birder or have been at it for decades, bicycling adds a whole new dimension to the pursuit and study of birds…Bolinas has a rich diversity of habitats and there is no better way to experience those qualities than by bicycle. As we move through the landscape we will be birding by ear, listening for the voices of returning migrant breeding and resident species alike…With so many habitats all mashed together, participants will take advantage of the opportunity to visit at least seven distinct habitat types and learn a bit about the plant communities therein. Being the height of spring, bird birdsong and bird detectability will be at their peak. As it happens, bird diversity is also at its spring peak during this period. The group will make frequent stops on our “migration” to search out as many species as possible.
I’m not completely on-board with mixing these two activities. I feel the same about SUP yoga — each one (yoga and stand-up paddle-boarding) already seems whole and complete on its own. Combining the two risks lessening the other, don’t you think?
I didn’t have my bicycle with me on Friday, but I was walking down Market St. toward the Embarcadero as bunches of cyclists began flocking to Justin Herman Plaza.
The Huffington Post and the SF Chronicle both have photos from the occasion. I particular like this aerial view by photographer Jason Henry. (You can see more of Jason’s photographs on his website. He’s a great, young photographer. Check him out)
This past Friday, SF’s Critical Mass rolled out from Justin Herman Plaza in the Embarcadero as it has for the last two decades. In fact, September marks the ride’s 20th anniversary. Here is artist, Mona Caron‘s poster marking the milestone.
Below, is the poster she created for the 10-year anniversary.
The NAHBS was held in Sacramento a couple weeks ago. The bicycle below which was exhibited at the show caught my eye.
The builder is Mitch Pryor of MAP Bicycles in Portland. Below is another example of his work.
Two video parodies — that I’m assuming were made by bicycling enthusiasts — which mock the unfortunate pretentiousness so often demonstrated by certain classes of cyclists.
The first video is from the lycra-clad Euro-racer’s perspective. There’s some hysterical satire in here. The first thirty seconds are quite rich and there’s another sequence from about the 1:30 to 2:00 minute mark that had me rolling on the floor (“Le Pelotan!”).
By the way, this was clearly filmed on Panoramic Highway or Ridgecrest Blvd. overlooking the Pacific Ocean. If you’re interested, I’ve posted many images of this gorgeous stretch of road on this blog.
The second video is presented from the righteous, urban cyclist’s perspective. Mind you the video is what is called — NSFW — not safe for work — due to the rather crude, in your face language.
But if you’re interested, check it out on YouTube, where some people seem to think the video is celebrating bad behavior rather than calling these kind of cyclists out.
Winter in southern Arizona this is not.
This is Copenhagen, Denmark. A city where bicycling is just another way for everyone — young and old; fashionable and unfashionable; working class and upper-class — to get from here to there whatever the weather is like outside.
The photo is from an article at Copenhagenzine.com reflecting on the foolishness of overly specialized bicycling subcultures (in this case, enthusiasts proclaiming the imperative for high-tech winter cycling gear). It reads, in part:
“When sub-cultural groups start trying to indoctrinate and convert the public, it rarely ever succeeds. For the better part of a century, people all over the planet rode bicycles because they were quick, easy, convenient and enjoyable. In hilly cities. In hot cities. In snowy cities.
After the bicycle largely disappeared from the urban landscape because urban planning started revolving around the car and the automobile industry began their dreadfully effective marketing after the Second World War, many regions in the world have been left suffering in a bicycle vacuum.
The result is that an entire generation has been given the impression that cycling is something that a few people do for sport or recreation and not much else…”
The point is if you live in a cold climate, you probably already have all the clothes you need (in your normal wardrobe) to bicycle in cold weather.
Does the same principle apply to our hot (very hot!) AZ summers?
A couple months ago, I mentioned Michael Embacher’s new book Cyclepedia. Well, the publisher has produced a stunning iPad version.
Sometimes I almost convince myself I need an iPad.
Then, I take a deep breath and remind myself once again about the unlimited nature of desire (and the Buddha’s second noble truth).
For that small segment of folks that occupy the space at the intersection of design and velo-fandom, I present samples of Guilherme Henrique’s “eight illustrations representing the adrenaline of riding fixed-gear bikes in the city and on the velodrome.”
Here’s a short summary from Prolly is Not Probably:
Guilherme Henrique is a graphic designer and as far as I can tell, Ville Vs. Velodrome is a case study on the scale of the city, the bike rider, the velodrome, racers and their bikes. Each of the templates have detailed descriptions as to what is the quantifying or qualifying characteristics of the scale stepping.
If I work in a big city again — San Francisco, for instance — I see myself adopting this kind of look.
The photo is from the website, Nerd Boyfriend, which uses pictures (usually retro) of pop cultural figures and then links to places to purchase the clothes. This is Wesley Snipes a minor, recurring character in the TV show, 30 Rock.
UPDATE: Well, was I ever wrong about Archival Clothing! Lesli Larson one of the company’s principals is a bicyclist extraordinaire. She has a really cool Vanilla bicycle (check out the pictures from the blog) and she completed the storied PBP this year (a 1200km round trip brevet from Paris to Brest and back). Archival Clothing actually seems to have quite an obsession with bicycle culture and bicycling. I stand corrected.
The Adventures of Tintin (by Herge) have been adapted into a film by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson set for release in the US later this month. Some Tintinologists don’t care for the movie; but, I’m keeping an open mind and hoping for the best.
Michael Embacher is a passionate bicycle enthusiast and collector. He has a very slick website that showcases his collection. He also has a new book, Cyclepedia: a century of iconic bicycle design. Here’s a blurb from the publisher, Chronicle Books:
An homage to the beauty of the bike, Cyclepedia showcases the innovations and legacies of bicycle design over the past century. Join longtime bike enthusiast and avid collector Michael Embacher for a tour of 100 bicycles, from the finest racing bikes and high-tech hybrids to the bizarrely specific (such as a bike designed to cycle on ice). Captivating photographs, detailed component lists, and anecdotal information illuminate the details that make each bicycle unique.
A brilliant concept: a bicycle disguised to look like a Vespa! This was produced by a French toy manufacturer (to capture the attention of children no doubt, but I’d buy one). See more details at the Embacher Collection.
A few more pictures courtesy of my Sr. bicycling and beer correspondent. This one is of a smart looking lady astride a very rare Pedersen bicycle.
I don’t know what the heck this contraption is, but you can bet that plenty of micro brews (I’m guessing oatmeal stouts) were consumed in preparation for the voyage!
Since I was unavailable to attend, The Friday Cyclotouriste sent its Sr. bicycle and beer correspondent to last week-end’s Biketoberfest — a biking and brewing hootenanny in my hometown of Fairfax (here’s a link to my coverage of the event from 2010).
My intrepid correspondent (seen here) does have other interests besides bicycles and beer. He can often be found at MIXTAPES and Hurqalya when he’s not teaching middle school religion classes in Marin County.
From the Rivendell stall at Biketoberfest. This is the unorthodox Sam Hilborne frameset with the double top tube.
I love the bakfiet design. If I had kids or had lots of stuff to routinely lug around this would be the design I’d chose.
Even if style and fashion don’t hold much interest for you, the quality of The Sartorialist‘s spontaneous portrait photography is consistently excellent.
Plus, the site’s creator, Scott Schuman, seems to be on the lookout for interesting people — mostly street chic woman — using bicycles for their everyday transportation. For that reason alone its worth a look.
(Note: I believe Copanhagen Cycle Chic was the first to popularize the-girl-riding-a-bike genre. UPDATE: a couple more interesting sites along the same line have been pointed out to me– Bike Fancy and bikes + babes)
Finally, a beach cruiser bicycle used for what it’s intended for: cruising the beach!
- The original post can be found here.
This is not a model, just a regular New Yorker spotted by The Sartorialist.
The bicycle, however, doesn’t seem appropriate for the task at hand (where’s the basket to hold those groceries and there’s water in the street, but no fenders to stay dry?).
- The original post can be found here.
Trying to lock-up your bike without getting your semi-transparent skirt dirty…I’ve been there, haven’t we all, lol?
- The original post can be found here.
This posting (and my next one) highlight blogs/websites that — while not focusing on bicycling per se — post intriguing images relating to bicycles every now and then.
A favorite, and one I’ve mentioned before, is Tokyo Green Space.
The author, Jarad Braiterman, is a design anthropologist (what a cool job!). He documents all the bits of biodiversity emerging from the sidewalk cracks, street medians, balconies, and store fronts around Tokyo.
His larger project is to investigate how our urban areas can evolve into richer, healthier places for humans and the rest of nature.
If it hasn’t already done so, the site will hopefully spawn imitators in other cities: New York Green Space, San Francisco Green Space. Heck, I’m inspired to start a Tucson Green Space.
There’s something utilitarian and magnificent about this row of hundreds of commuter bikes lined up outside JR Tokyo’s Ryogoku station on a hot summer afternoon. The sun bakes in this concrete canyon, and even the salary men are wearing short sleeves. — original posting: tokyogreenspace.com
Umbrellas on parked bicycles during rainy season. — original posting: tokyogreenspace.com
Landscape deadzone in posh Omotesando: Why is this major intersection so ugly? Pedestrians deserve better. — original posting: tokyogreenspace.com
Artist: Ian Huebert
“The Golden Spoke: Fog” and “The Golden Spoke: To Market”
Art on Market Street Poster Series
Courtesy of the San Francisco Arts Commission.
Re-posted from Copanhagenize
I discovered this project at the modern industrial design site, Yanko Design.
I can’t speak to the practicality of doing away with the downtube — as far as riding stability and structural integrity are concerned — but this is a pretty cool concept.
The designer is Paulus Maringka, Auckland Institute of Technology. Read his academic abstract and/or download his entire 372 page trans-disciplinary design thesis or visit the Yanko Design site to see more pictures of the Greencycle.
I attached my camera (and a big fisheye lens) to my new handlebar mount and made a short trip down the block to test the system.
Below is the video, with a Soloman Burke music bed added in Apple’s iMovie to make it a little more interesting!
Solomon Burke (March 21, 1940 – October 10, 2010) was an American singer-songwriter, entrepreneur, mortician, and an archbishop of the United House of Prayer For All People. Burke was known as “King Solomon”, the “King of Rock ‘n’ Soul”, and as the “Bishop of Soul”, and described as “the Muhammad Ali of soul”, and as “the most unfairly overlooked singer of soul’s golden age”…
Burke was “a singer whose smooth, powerful articulation and mingling of sacred and profane themes helped define soul music in the early 1960s”…Described as both “Rabelaisian” and also as a “spiritual enigma”, “Perhaps more than any other artist, the ample figure of Solomon Burke symbolized the ways that spirituality and commerce, ecstasy and entertainment, sex and salvation, individualism and brotherhood, could blend in the world of 1960s soul music.”
A Smart Car and a Brompton together; I just can’t resist. And because of this video’s Chaplinesque qualities I have an excuse to post two of my favorite clips from the genius himself (see below).
These are the silent actor’s first words (beginning around the 1:00 mark) on screen — in the form of a song from Modern Times:
And finally, the ending speech from The Great Dictator, still relevant today some would argue.
My dear friends (and one-time housemates) Forest and Ingrid sent me this photo from Romania.
Here’s what Forest wrote in his email to me:
Exploring the back roads near the Carpathian mountains in Transylvania.
Ingrid is riding her Giant Jubilee t-6 and mine is a Miyata Road Gentleman.
Both bikes purchased in Holland.
Besides being intrepid travelers, Forest and Ingrid are both talented musicians in the midst of setting up a European satellite for their Painted Sun record label.
- Have a listen to Forest Sun’s song Be Kind to You:
- You can also preview Ingrid’s latest single, Grandma’s House on iTunes.
I made these two photos last summer (in the Marin County countryside). The image on the left is the album cover for Ingrid’s Grandma’s House project.
They’ll be touring the US this fall, including stops in Washington, California, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona!
See the tour calendar for details.
This place absolutely oozed San Francisco-hipster bike culture: a designer, bike clothing shop with an espresso bar and gallery attached; the machine the barista was pulling shots on: a La Marzocco — of course.
I loved it…but deep down I began to wonder, Is this all a bit excessive?
Is the bicycle’s renaissance (see my Golden Age of Bicycling post for more background) entering a kind of Dionysian-type decline, whereby the luxurious aspects of this utilitarian machine are fetishized to an unhealthy degree?
Are these kind of commercial ventures simply utopian celebrations of modern bicycle culture’s still-to-come zenith?
Featured Comment by Hassan-I-Sabbah: “As I understand, Dionysus is associated with the chaotic beginnings of creativity not the eventual decadence and hedonism (for which I would ascribe the great god Pan).”
He’s been doing this for nearly a half-century (with 28 bikes stolen) while living a monk-like existence in what is, essentially, a closet above Carnegie Hall with no kitchen and no bathroom.
He has no apparent interest in the superficial aspects of haute couture. The famous people who court him hold no power over him (he won’t even accept a glass of water from the hosts when shooting a high society gala event). Despite this simple, down-to-earth demeanor, Cunningham is a complex character and his deeper philosophy is suggested by what is perhaps the most famous quote of his from the film:
The wider world perceives fashion as a frivolity that should be done away with. The point is fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you can do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.
And when honored with the Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in Paris he tearfully reminds us that: “He who seeks beauty shall find it.” At that moment we, the audience, are aware that this is the larger purpose to which Cunningham has dedicated his life.
I enjoyed the film because of its depiction of this individual’s extraordinary humanity and because it was great fun to see him trundle around NYC taking photographs on his bicycle.
I’m not particularly interested in fashion, but I thought this was a spectacular film about a true artist.
In honor of Day 1 — a few videos:
The second video gives an idea of what this race looked like in the early days (the death defying descent at the 11 second mark is remarkable).
A bicycling quote from the famous, socialist, pacifist, and sci-fi writer, H.G. Wells:
“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
A Ken Burns-style mockumentary, which hits pretty close to home.
There’s an interesting article in the British Medical Journal on bicycle weight and commuting time. In summary, it was found that riding a much heavier bike, over a regular, 27-mile commute, did NOT affect overall commuting time. (The article abstract is reprinted below.)
While the Dutch seem to have discovered this on their own my impression is that Americans still tend to commute on lightweight racing-style bikes. This causes us to pedal with great exertion and wear funny shoes and clothes, with little choice but to shower and change at the office.
That is, the USA is still a country where bicycling is viewed mostly as recreation or exercise — not transportation.
Objective To determine whether the author’s 20.9 lb (9.5 kg) carbon frame bicycle reduced commuting time compared with his 29.75 lb (13.5 kg) steel frame bicycle.
Design Randomised trial.
Setting Sheffield and Chesterfield, United Kingdom, between mid-January 2010 and mid-July 2010.
Participants One consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care.
Main outcome measure Total time to complete the 27 mile (43.5 kilometre) journey from Sheffield to Chesterfield Royal Hospital and back.
Results The total distance travelled on the steel frame bicycle during the study period was 809 miles (1302 km) and on the carbon frame bicycle was 711 miles (1144 km). The difference in the mean journey time between the steel and carbon bicycles was 00:00:32 (hr:min:sec; 95% CI –00:03:34 to 00:02:30; P=0.72).
Conclusions A lighter bicycle did not lead to a detectable difference in commuting time. Cyclists may find it more cost effective to reduce their own weight rather than to purchase a lighter bicycle. [Emphasis added]
I’ve extolled the virtues of bicycling as an ideal form of locomotion on these pages before, for example:
“The bike is a wonderful machine: it lets you explore more terrain than you can on foot on a given day, yet it is still a humane technology connecting your body and senses to nature in ways not really possible with an automobile (from Velosophy).”
“…for me riding a bike is good mindfulness practice: It helps me to regain peace of mind after a hard day and helps me to observe my everyday world with a somewhat greater sense of clarity (from this post).”
However, this passage from a book I just finished, Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt, makes a very strong case for walking:
Walking is the pace that we were born to. It is the pace at which our eyes focus, our thoughts can keep up, and our bodies can feel evolved and grounded and whole. Walking we are on an axis about which we can turn to look, or bend to see, or squat to pick up. Walking, we feel knowing and self-reliant, inhabitants of our own bodies, and in cahoots with the bodies of others.
She also uses excerpts from Thoreau’s Walking to bolster her argument.
Thoreau is hard to argue with and I’ll admit walking has its charms.
In fact, one of my favorite tools is Walk Score — which ranks places to live on a scale of 1 to 100 in terms of how walkable they are (e.g. proximity to grocery stores, libraries, post offices, cafes, etc.).
His images remind me of the quirky Camper Bike.
I also posted my own contribution to this genre a while back.
Here are some notes about the Totem series as only a French Photography Historian could write them (the full test is available on Alain Delormes’s website):
“The vertiginous height of the piles echoes the incessant expansion of the city itself. By updating the proposition of the Becher, Alain Delorme seems to create a parallel between these manufactured totems and the buildings in the background, which have become themselves contemporary sculptures. The urban space is permanently under construction, developing relentlessly. The skyscrapers invade the city and rise always higher, such as new totems, always more remarkable, always more impressing. Stratum by stratum, traditional China rubs shoulders with the contemporary industrial superpower. The race here is not only the one of the men in the city, but also the one of the city towards its future.”
I said, in Part I of this post, that I’d share my general approach for practicing photography while out rambling around by bike. Here’s an example from a recent ride:
Something on the side of the road catches my eye. A prominent fern; some pine needles…
…I lay my bike down…
…and I make some quick images, but I’m not too thrilled with the result (see below).
But now I’m off the bicycle, in a landscape I might never stumble upon otherwise, and I notice one of my favorite trees — a Madrone. I make this close-up image of its bark, which really pleases me.
Ride. Look around. Stop. Shoot. Look around. Ride some more. That’s about it, but here are a few specific suggestions:
1. Don’t aim for perfection: If a subject interests you take numerous shots from different angles and focal lengths — explore the scene with the camera. Working this way, I think less, get into a more creative zone, and avoid the pressure of having to make one perfect image. (Despite this advice, I’m often struck by how often my first composition is the most pleasing.)
2. Be willing to stop and follow your senses: I can’t prove it, but I believe that sense perceptions are much higher when traveling by bicycle then when traveling by foot or by automobile (everything else being equal).
But if you intend to make a photograph (and blog about it) you need to stop and get off the bike. Stopping can be a hassle — you lose your rhythm and momentum, you delay getting to your destination (if you have one), and there are safety issues to consider.
It’s easy just to keep riding — but when you stop and look around all kinds of happy accidents take place.
3. Occasionally, leave the camera at home.
4. Ride with (or without) a purpose. There are three possibilities on any given ride:
- Set-off for a destination and commit to it — unwavering in your goal;
- Set-off for a destination — but be open to changes as you go;
- Set-off with no destination.
I tend to err on the side of spontaneity and the rewards it creates.
Made a quick ride over to my polling station (the Woman’s Club in Fairfax) to vote. Some of the ballot highlights:
- Nostalgia candidates — Jerry Brown (governor) and Frank Egger (water district) .
- Prop 19 — a statewide initiative to regulate and tax marijuana.
- Measure B — a county transportation initiative.
- Measure S and Measure T — a competing (and confusing) set of local measures over how, when, and if, Marin can begin to study and build a water desalinization plant.
Part II in an on-going series of posts demonstrating The New Yorker’s fondness for bicycle cover art (see also Part I).
Note: all covers going back to 1925 are archived on the magazine’s website.
Bicycles + Beer + Birthplace of the mountain bike = Biketoberfest this past Saturday, 10/16/10.
Sycip, a local Sonoma County builder.
Bamboo-framed bikes including the Bamboosero.
LUCE goods = hand-made cycling clothes.
Not pictured is the delicious Spanish paella I had for lunch courtesy of Venga Paella (Thanks Eduardo!) or the Lagunitas Brewing Co.’s PILS that I washed it down with. The PILS wasn’t bad, but it could not compare to my favorite pilsner brewed fresh in nearby Berkeley.
Is European-style bike sharing coming to the Bay Area?
The company I’ve been working with Alta Planning + Design has spun-off a new company (Alta Bike Share) that helps cities design and operate these systems. Together with Bixi, we installed an on-street demo for a bike-savvy San Francisco audience at last week’s Sunday Streets.
Closing down streets to auto traffic began with Bogota’s Ciclovia. Here’s some of the history from SF Sunday Street’s website:
Ciclovía, literally “bike path” in Spanish, is a ground-breaking event that started in Bogotá, Colombia. This weekly event draws more than 1.5 million people to walk, bike, skate and enjoy more than 70 miles of streets opened to people – and closed to automobile traffic – every week.
Nearly 20% of this city’s population turns out every Sunday and holiday to participate in the 7 am to 2 pm event, which includes unparalleled free recreation and social opportunities, including dance and yoga lessons in the city’s streets and local parks.
“A quality city is not one that has great roads but one where a child can safely go anywhere on a bicycle.” Enrique Peñalosa, Former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.
John (navy-blue uniform and shades) is the Bixi installation wizard from Montreal. Brodie (light green shirt on the right) manages operations for Alta Bike Share. Sylvia (cap and light green shirt) was, like me, helping out for the day with public information and outreach.
The bikes themselves have lots of useful features: built-in generator hubs to power front and rear lights; internal frame-routed cables; height adjustable seats (yet non-removeable, and thus theft-proof); chain and skirt guards; three-speed internal gear-hubs; and, a front basket-like purse/brief case carrier with bungee cord.
Initially, I told him I was a little embarrassed by the distinction. The cycling community is full of so many riders that are accomplishing amazing physical feats or doing other extraordinary things with bicycles. I felt a little inadequate in this regard. But I’ll continue to do my part, whatever that may be. Thanks Jack!
And this reminds me. I’ve been remiss in acknowledging other blogging friends and supporters of The Friday Cyclotouriste to whom I am most grateful. They include:
- Myles at Rat Trap Press;
- Eddie at The Everyday Cyclist;
- Esteban at velo-flaneur;
- Alan and Michael at EcoVelo;
- Meli at Bikes and the City; and,
- Dave at Yurtville.
All are amazing blogs. I encourage you to visit.
(P.S. The above picture, which I sent to Jack, was made with the camera on the ground using the 10-second timer on a recent Thursday evening ride up the hill near Alpine Lake).