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Thursday, January 31st
Thomas Hardy T-Shirt
Thomas Hardy has long been one of my favorite authors (and Jude the Obscure one of my favorite books) for decades now. So I was tickled to learn, while reading a biography of the man a few weeks ago, that Hardy became an ardent cyclist in his fifties!

His first wife, Emma, had introduced him to the sport, and, after a shaky start (as you can imagine), he not only bought himself an expensive Rover Cobb bicycle, but built a bicycle room onto his house.

He continued to tool around Dorchester on his "byke," as he called it in letters, till well into his eighties.

So of course I couldn't help making this old portrait of Hardy and his "byke" into a T-shirt for all you literary-minded riders out there!

Click on the portrait to go to our T-Shirt Page, and scroll down a bit to see it.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 31 Jan 2008 14:28:49 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, January 30th
Elliott Bay Bicycles to Carry Our Knickers
Bicycle Fixation has just picked up another dealer, this time the highly-respected Elliott Bay Bicycles in Seattle.

Seattle has been a very good market for us, and now you Seattleites who are ready to buy knickers can try them on and purchase them instantly right there--no waiting for the mail!

Visit them at:

Elliott Bay Bicycles
2116 Western Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 441-8144

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 30 Jan 2008 02:33:22 -0800 [link]  

Monday, January 28th
Flapping....
Well, with the monsoons we've been having here in LA this week, I've been learning the true value of mudflaps. My kit of fenders, rain cape, helmet cover, and a baseball cap for keeping drops off my glasses works very well--except when going through the four-inch-deep running streams that rush across every intersection during and after a hard squall. So my toes got wet, because the mudflaps on the Planet Bike fenders are, I assure you, purely decorative.

I could buy the same company's Cascadia fenders, which come with real mudflaps, but I will probably just buy some plastic stair tread material at a hardware store and make my own mudflaps for five bucks as so many others have done.

Or, most likely, I will procrastinate until the rainy season is over, then put off the task for another few months. And get my toes wet in the meantime.

But if you live in a place with more normal rainfall patterns, by all means put real mudflaps on your fenders.

One of these days I'll pay attention to myself and do it too.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 28 Jan 2008 18:48:00 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, January 23rd
My Turn
My turn to get hit by a car, that is, though I was only sideswiped from behind by a moron in a dark green Toyota.

I first noticed it when the side of the car pressed against me, followed by the mirror whacking my arm. Following the old road racer's dictum, I leaned into the car as it passed to avoid being flung into the parked cars at the curb, then pulled away once I'd established better control over the bike.

The asshole made gestural excuses through the tightly closed window when I caught up to her at the next light, then looked indignant when I suggested that she could at least apologize. I remonstrated with her in two languages (gotta cover all the bases), then took down her license number in case of unnoticed or unfelt damage.

So far nothing but a few minor aches. Will check for bruises later, as I have had work to take care of almost continuously since then--was on the way from a meeting with Chuck Schmidt to a meeting with my sewing factory boss to a buying session at the wool merchant's (where I ran into colleagues & competitors Swrve), and then home to take care of finances.

Anyway, only one unpleasant adventure in an otherwise pretty, rainy day & about forty miles on bike.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 23 Jan 2008 15:08:32 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, January 20th
The Old Is New Again....
In one of the forums I infest on the internet, a discussion developed between the folks who feel that one ought to buy new bikes, to support the economy of cycling (in this case, of custom builders), and other folks who prefer to buy and refurbish used bikes. While I'd like to get a custom some day, just to collect all the features I've liked on various bikes over the decades into one nice, sturdy bike, I am firmly in the buy-them-used-and-keep-them-rolling camp (my Bottecchia commuter fixie is over forty years old), and for reasons that go far beyond dollars and cents.

Bikes in use result in what could be called a net gain in the energy budget, since it takes fewer calories to ride somewhere than to walk there (and both require about the same extent of road surface).

However, like all metal or plastic objects, bikes have a certain embedded energy, which is the energy it takes to mine the ore or drill for the oil, refine it and transport it to factories, form it into basic shapes such as tubes, then build and assemble it into a bike and transport it to a salesroom.

In the case of cars, the embedded energy is equal to half the fuel energy the car will incur in a typical ten year lifespan.

In the case of bikes, the embedded energy is all it will incur, besides more embedded energy in expendables such as tires and chains.

So, in the bigger picture, it's better to use a bike as much as possible until it wears completely out, and it's better--better for the earth and our cultures upon it--to buy used bikes and ride them instead of letting them sit in some garage while a younger, prettier bike gets all the use.

In the sustainability world, the mantra is "reduce, re-use, recycle," in that order. It takes energy to recycle, it saves energy to re- use, manufactured objects.

And bikes are so efficient as transportation that it should almost be a crime to leave one unridden! (Before you light up the flamethrowers, please note that I am speaking poetically here and not proposing any draconian ride-or-die laws. Though given the effects of obesity on Americans, one could say that such a law already exists as a natural law....)

Folks will still buy new bikes when they need to. But the truth is that you don't need to very often.

The best argument for a custom bike is that you are more likely to ride it farther and ride it longer if it fits your body and your riding style. But if a used bike fits you well, and you ride it happily, frequently, and far, you are being kinder to the earth, and thus to all of us, than if you buy a new one, even a custom.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 20 Jan 2008 22:56:35 -0800 [link]  

Monday, January 14th
A New Cap Campaign...or Is That Campaign Cap?
After the most ridiculous concatenation of contretemps we've encountered since dipping into design of biking clothes, we've finally released our limited-quantity little fun hat, the Calot de Campagne.

We took a Bundeswehr-surplus garrison cap, ordered up some Bicycle Fixation logo patches, ripped out the original insignia, and had our faithful sewing factory stitch (and heat seal as well) our wheel-and-lotus symbol in its place.

Just the logo, folks, no URL, no company name, no viral marketing angle; like the separate patches, these are here just to express the joy and harmony of cycling. And to cover your head and look cool too.

We've got only about seventy of these, and when they're gone they're gone, and they're not a bit expensive, so get ahold of one and put it on your head!

The Bicycle Fixation Calot de Campagne. It's even aero...!

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 14 Jan 2008 03:17:40 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, January 12th
Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe II
mark_brook (94k image)Unfortunately, I had only a very low quality cellphone camera with me today, but I did not want to pass up a chance to photograph Mark, Brook, and their kids in case I never had contact with them again.

I was riding down the Ballona Creek bike path to the Playa del Rey bridge, where I often ride on Sundays to lean back on the balustrade, between the Pacific and the continent, to watch sailboats, bicyclists, joggers, dog walkers, fisherfolk, and sometimes just the birds and the clouds drift by. Lucky for me I went a day early today, for I met the extraordinary (and extraordinarily gratifying) sight of this carfree family coming back from the Santa Monica farmer's market with a couple of trailer loads of vegetables!

Papa Mark is pulling a Bikes at Work trailer with four or five bins on it, mama Brook is pulling a Burley with two very young kids inside, and the oldest daughter is pulling her own cargo trailer (contents unspecified), and looks to be only seven years old or so!

I talked with them a bit and asked them to contact me, so if I didn't scare them too bad we might have an article for you soon.

Each of the grownup bikes had front and rear panniers as well. The kid bike had chopped risers for an aero position, and let me tell you, the crew wasn't just lumbering along when I met up with them!

I chanced upon my friend Bill Mendell at the bridge a little later, and he said he's seen them before, "riding," quoth he, "like they had serious business to attend to."

Indeed: the serious business of living a real life.

Mark, Brook, and brood: if I never hear from you again, know you have my undying admiration and respect!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 12 Jan 2008 21:48:14 -0800 [link]  

Friday, January 11th
Real Cycling Cities
The following quote from an article in Britain's City Cycling magazine was as joyful to me as it was flabbergasting:
In many respects Assen is just an average town. In fact, the council apparently considers it to be below average in cycling terms as "only" 37% of journeys are by bike. Millions are being invested in major roadworks - including such expensive stunts as moving a canal sideways - and making huge improvements in the quality of cycling routes into town in order to improve conditions. Assen isn't considered to be a "cycling city" yet. The council says that in the future it might be one after considerable effort and expense.
The well-written story goes on to expostulate just how normal cycling is in Dutch cities, and what the Dutch do to make it even more integral to their urban worlds.

Read the entire article at City Cycling, and enjoy!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 11 Jan 2008 23:17:36 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, January 10th
Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe
Saw two charmingly nondescript bikes parked in front of stores while I was out walking from chore to local chore yesterday. Since evidence of people using their bikes for actual transportation, even with the temperature in the forties (F), which is cold for La La Land, I snapped their pictures even though all I had was a fairly crappy cell phone camera.

Here they are for you anyway:

delivery_pp (83k image)

cruiser_pp (85k image)

The first one's a delivery bike for Back Door Café, which is a cute little local bistro on the alley side of a commercial building.

I don't know who owns the cruiser, but more power to them!

Ride on, brothers and sisters, ride on....

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 10 Jan 2008 17:17:21 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, January 9th
New Retail Dealer in Los Angeles
Those of you on the west side of LA might like to check out our newest dealer, Los Angeles Brakeless Bicycles, over near Motor and National:

Los Angeles Brakeless
3314 Motor Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 294-9051
[Map]

They've been open only a month or two, and already have a reputation as one of the friendliest shops on the West Side--and no, they won't turn their noses up at geared bikes with brakes, either; they love bicycling.

Right now they're carrying only knickers, but hats will arrive there in a week or two--and of course they have bikes, frames, components, a service bay, and some T-shirts as well.

Drop by and say Hello, enjoy yourself, buy a part or two. The West Side's just gotten a little bit better for all cyclists.

Cheers!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 09 Jan 2008 21:34:07 -0800 [link]  

Logo Patches Available
We have a limited number of Bicycle Fixation logo patches available in our web store now. These are our wheel & lotus symbol, with no company name or URL attached: a pure expression of the harmony cycling can bring to us, as individuals or collectively. They are heat-seal patches, so you can iron them on, or you can sew them on, or, if you're really worried, you can do both! Gina has been testing one by putting it onto the heel of her favorite pair of cycling sneakers!

Great for jackets, vests, caps, bags, etc.

We're selling three for $5.00; shipping to US addresses will be an additional $5.00, and to non-US addresses it will be an additional $12.50.

So they're actually three for ten bucks if you're in the USA. It's just the way the PayPal shopping cart works easiest.

Check them out today.

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 09 Jan 2008 15:45:37 -0800 [link]  

Monday, January 7th
Rainy Day and Stylin' Fixistas
bambina_rain2 (100k image)Feeling a little weary after a week of bad sleep, I took the trains over the pasadena to go on Chuck Schmidt's Rose Bowl Vintage Ride. It was a day of lowering skies, dark, tumbling clouds, and on and off rain, and, true to Chuck's prediction, only four people showed up for the ride. We waited an extra fifteen minutes, then took off through a light, pattering rain for a very sweet ride indeed. I was all knickered and sweatered and was comfortable the whole way, and of course the bike had fenders, but even the roadie types were having a happy if somewhat bespattered time.

The route traverses neighborhoods heavy with stately old trees, and there's little traffic; the hot chocolate at Beantown was perfect, and the rain stopped for a while as we set out homeward.

I peeled off in Pasadena and headed back through Highland Park to East Hollywood, about 19 miles under skies that any painter would love. It gladdened me to see that bikes were everywhere today, though the temperature stayed in the upper forties (F) and the rain continued to spatter down irregularly. And I don't mean fanatical club riders who will train come what may, nor the poor who have no other vehicle: I mean plenty of mainstreamers riding clunky old upright hybrids, which were all over the roads and sidewalks and locked up in front of stores and restaurants practically all long my route. These are the folks who will save the world, and I was happy to see them out on their bikes on a cold wet day.

O20_rain_lafixed (96k image)On the way back home I stopped in at Orange 20 to say hello to the gang, and bumped into the LA Fixed ride; a small but doughty horde of twenty- and thirtysomethings riding brakeless fixies from Venice Beach to East Hollywood under brooding skies. Their bikes were the sort that sets the denizens of the various bike forums I afflict spluttering with indignation--yes, one fellow was trying out top tube pads!--but they were out on the road, putting on decent miles. I didn't see any of my fellow listmembers, many of whom I ride with regularly, out in the English sunshine today, but the fixie punx were there (including almost the whole gang from soon-to-be Bicycle Fixation dealer LA Brakeless).

We all had ice cream from the incomparable Scoops across the street from O20, then I headed home.

A good day all around. All the better because it tramples the cliche of the LA fashionista rider.

They ride. I ride. We ride. You ride. Thus we conjugate a better future. The top tube pads don't bother me a bit.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 07 Jan 2008 00:13:44 -0800 [link]  

Friday, January 4th
Bakfietsen to the Future!
Friend and fellow Los Angeles bicycle advocate, and all-around good guy, Josef Bray-Ali, finding himself in the crosshairs of a fast-approaching fatherhood, took a step forward towards a better life by buying a Dutch cargo bike for child-porting duties!

Read the article here: Bakfietsen to the Future!.

I rode the machine yesterday, and it is much lighter on its feet than you'd expect.

This is possibly only the second such machine in Los Angeles. But not, one hopes, the last, by any means!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 04 Jan 2008 20:53:32 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, January 1st
Adams on Mobility
Superb piece on hypermobility, democracy, daily life, and our future together by geographer John Adams of London's University College. A snippet here:
A constraint on behaviour which technology cannot remove is the number of hours in a day. As we spread ourselves ever wider, we must spread ourselves thinner. If we spend more time interacting with people at a distance, we must spend less time with those closer to home. If we have contact with more people, we must devote less attention to each one. In small-scale pedestrian societies hypomobile societies everyone knows everyone. In hypermobile societies, old-fashioned geographical communities are replaced by aspatial communities of interest we spend more time, physically, among strangers. The advantages of mobility are heavily advertised; the disadvantages of hypermobility receive much less attention. Many of the unwelcome characteristics of the hypermobile society can readily be imagined by extrapolating existing trends.
To read the entire article, go to Hypermobility at Carfreeworld.net.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 01 Jan 2008 01:15:11 -0800 [link]  

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