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Saturday, February 28th
Just for Fun
Yesterday having been Yer Editor's birthday, today he is meeting up with some friends for a celebratory wheelabout under an unseasonably spring-like sky. We're meeting at bike-friendly coffeehouse Massimo's Mudspot around eleven and heading over to Hermosa Beach, where Café Bonaparte offers the ridiculously calorific Paris-Brest pastry.

After ceremonious indulgence, we'll head back towards LA along the beachside bike path under shining blue skies, so if you see a bunch of knicker-clad riders and fender-clad bikes, give us a wave!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 28 Feb 2009 08:27:53 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, February 24th
Shorts Notice
We'll be starting production on the city/country shorts next week, so be ready for the best above-the-knee riding shorts you'll be likely ever to find! There's going to be a lot to like in these, including:We'll also try to include more small sizes for our women customers, as the pants look great on either sex.

They'll be available around the end of March, if all goes well. (BTW, click on the thumbnail to see a bigger picture.)

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 24 Feb 2009 07:14:20 -0800 [link]  

Friday, February 20th
What, Pictures of Bicycles Online?
Hard to believe, isn't it?

Anyway, Yer Editor finally bit the $25 bullet and upgraded his Flickr account, changed it to "Bicycle Fixation," and got most of the morass of bike photos organized at last. So if you want to get a look at the bikes Gina and I and some of our friends ride, and where we ride them, and follow the process of turning vintage frames into elegant city bikes, go to the mighty Bicycle Fixation Flickr Account and take a look.

Includes:And a few other things.


Richard Risemberg on Fri, 20 Feb 2009 07:18:23 -0800 [link]  

Monday, February 16th
Rain He Stop
In South Pacific pidgin, "rain he stop" means not that the rain has ended, but that it is continuing; the "stop" refers to "stopping to visit," as the British are wont to say.

Today, the "rain he stop" here in Los Angeles, as a rich gray sky drops steady rain onto...well, I wish I could say "onto our parched soil," but since 70% of the city's surface area is covered with buildings or paved over, the rain he won't stop, but will flow away into our mysterious and elaborate storm drain system and sent away to sweeten the ocean.

Now that the morning squalls have passed, the wind is not so boisterous, and I'd normally be preparing to throw on my Carradice Pro Route rain cape and bicycle out on my Monday chores---but I have a miserable cold, and so I too will "stop" for a while, and enjoy the view of the rain from our second-story window, which nearly fills the west wall of the living room of our little Art Deco apartment. (I've had this damn cold since Thursday night, so rode out on my Monday chores yesterday, when it was clear.)

I love rain, the sight, sound, and smell of it, and the view from the window is soothing till I think too much. Then I see precious water rushing down the gutters towards the drains, and remember the statistic I read about years ago: that in one good three-day February storm here, enough water runs to the sea to supply every house in the county for a year.

The fault for that falls squarely on the sprawl that LA in fact pioneered: the widely-separated houses, one story each, making room by growing wide rather than tall, and the wide roads separating them and leading to them, the total and uncompromising accommodation of the private car as the only fully-supported means of travel here.

Forty to fifty percent of our land area is paved. Yet the car is a supremely inefficient way to travel: in most places, it is more highly subsidized than much-maligned mass transit (often accused of being "socialist" by the Knuckledragger-American community), as even the Texas DOT has to admit. And, as I often point out, roads, ramps, freeways, etc., don't generate property taxes, but do depress property values around them, eating into the budgets of cities, counties, and states from two directions.

The grim aerial photos that accompany my article on cycling in LA in are good if inadequate illustrations of why the rain he don't stop here.

Bicycles, besides being energy-efficient (more so than walking, in fact), requires very little in the way of paving for travel or for parking, and can integrate well with rail or road transit with just modest technical and operational changes. and of course it contributes nothing to global warming, since even though bikes must be made, using heat, over the fifty-year use life of a bike you reduce the calorie requirements of travel so much that I suspect you more than make up for its embedded energy.

In other words, bikes could do more to end our drought than any increase in our ever-wasted rain could manage.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 16 Feb 2009 07:35:16 -0800 [link]  

Friday, February 13th
LA Readers Note: Expo Line Meetings Coming Up
If you live anywhere in central or western Los Angeles, try to attend one of the meetings mentioned in the link below:
Phase Two Overview

Metro is seeking input on various aspects of the Line's final shape. Meetings will occur on February 18th, 23rd, and 25th, and you can also submit comments online.

According to the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, Metro is cutting out the bike path slated to be built along the ROW to save money; it won't save much, and the bike path would be extremely useful to the central area communities, so keep that in mind as you read and prepare your comments.

LACBC says:
A new light rail line, called the Expo Line, will eventually extend from downtown to Santa Monica. The project is divided into two phases. Phase I is under construction and will end at Robertson & Venice in Culver City. Phase II will extend the line from there to Santa Monica. Phase II is still in planning phases, and a draft environmental impact report was released last week.

One of the things that has been promised for the Expo Line is a bikeway adjacent to the train line. This would create a continuous bikeway from Santa Monica to downtown if it were built!

Recently, the Expo Construction Authority decided NOT to include the bikeway in the environmental review for Expo Phase 2, to avoid the burden of doing a federal environmental impact statement. Thus, the bikeway segment of the plan will not be considered by Expo Construction Authority even though it has federal funding.

This has created serious uncertainties about how, when or if an Expo Bikeway will ever be built.
Again, for meeting schedules or to comment directly, go to: Phase Two Overview.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 13 Feb 2009 12:01:29 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, February 11th
Mudguard Mania
Sometimes I find it amusing that all four of the family bikes have fenders--go-fast bikes and putzmobiles alike. I know there's a lot of people, certainly in LA, who find this incomprehensible. Don't fenders make your bike slower?

If that were true, they'd still be worth it--even when it's not raining, there's lots of water on the ground from thoughtless fools who can't be bothered to line up their lawn sprinklers properly, and in many parts of town there's lots worse than water flowing on the road! (I remember recently watching a local commuter who is way too hip for fenders, though not so hip he can't ride on the sidewalk, zipping briskly through a flow of fresh piss from the local bum who had just gotten up in his doorway manor....)

bambina_013009_01 (252k image)
Click on image for larger version
But my Bottecchia weighs only 19 pounds with its fenders (of course, it's fixed, which lightens it a bit), and in fact racing rules prohibit fenders, as they provide an aerodynamic advantage!

Be that as it may, fenders make a bike faster in other ways: for example, I don't need to slow way down for puddles, as the tires can't spray my back and ruin my clothes. Since I wear elegant bike clothing out of my own inventory, I don't want to ruin them, and I don't want to walk around with a wet stripe on my ass no matter what I'm wearing.

That said, I will build the old Eisentraut Limited frame I foolishly bought off a friend last month sans fenders--but just to keep its classic race-bike look intact. (And because it doesn't have braze-ons!) But that will be a twice-a-month play bike. For serious riding, for getting down to the nitty-gritty, I'll take a fendered bike every day. And I do!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 11 Feb 2009 18:14:50 -0800 [link]  

Friday, February 6th
Signs of the Coming Times
dutchbikesO20 (83k image)Stopped by Orange 20 Bikes today, and saw that they're carrying more European style classic city bikes, a good sign for LA. I mean the real classics, not some vapid high-bar hybrid...they may not be too visible in the cellphone camera picture, but the lineup just in that corner of the store includes a Pashley Sovereign, two Batavus cruisers, and a Batavus cargo bike, plus some others I didn't get a close look at. It's also the only place I've seen a Pashley Guv'nor in the metal. This, plus an entire wall of urban fixies, countered by another wall of road and 'cross bikes, and spiced with a smattering of BMX, mountain, and kids' bikes, makes the 20 a real paradise for us lovers of the velocipede, indeed!

Add Scoops for artisanal ice cream across the street, and Pure Luck for hearty vegan fare next door, and...well, I can hardly tear myself away once I arrive.

Cheers to the lads and ladies of the 20! Keep it up! "The revolution will not be motorized...."

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 06 Feb 2009 14:56:53 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, February 5th
Recession Special: Hemp Ninja Hoodie Closeout
Just in time for yet another economic downturn, we are cutting the price on the hemp & organic cotton version of our Four Season Jersey, AKA the Ninja Road Warrior Jersey. This is our versatile hooded jersey with integrated balaclava for really cold weather. The hemp/cotton version is a soft black, almost a charcoal, and very comfortable, though with a more restricted temperature range than the light and luxurious merino wool version. Still a wonderful garment; I've worn hemp & cotton nearly every day in California this winter.

So no need to be chilled while you're chillin'! Check out our Four Season Jersey page, and try our hemp & organic cotton version for only $99.00. (And if you feel brave, we still have some merino versions left....) The picture showing the back of the jersey shows the hemp/cotton fabric as well.

Hemp in sizes XS, S, and M; merino in XS and S only.

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 05 Feb 2009 10:16:04 -0800 [link]  

Another Busy Week....
Another busy week, with more appointments away from home than usual...of course, that just means more excuses to ride!

A gratifying side effect of all this was people asking about my rides and expressing interest in trying bike transit themselves. And, of course, seeing lots of other riders out on the roads--not Spandex Superhero types, but folks in ordinary clothes riding bikes to get somewhere. There's hope for this old world yet....

Speaking of the more extraordinary of ordinary clothes, we'll soon be ordering material for our summer shorts, a brand-new product that I've been testing extensively in these unseasonably warm January days here in SoCal. These will be made of a blend of hemp and a thread made from recycled plastic beverage bottles. It''s tough and comfortable and looks pretty good. People who see them keep asking when they'll be out...the answer is, in about six weeks. That's them in the picture, of on it to see a bigger version.

The little pocket will have some sort of faster, probably Velcro.

We've put lots and lots of miles on wearing these. We don't even like shorts as a general rule, but we end up wearing them all the time, on and off the bike, except when we have to look dressier, when our City or Classic knickers are the only choices!

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 05 Feb 2009 06:41:35 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, February 1st
Mythical Fixster Footers Spotted in Wild
So finally, for the first time ever, despite my immersion in fixed gear hipster culture in Los Angeles, I finally spotted what I had thought to be a mythical creature, the Fixie-Pushing Hipster!

There they were, three of them, on Silver Lake Boulevard, pushing immaculate paradigmatical fixies towards the ever-hip environs of Sunset Boulevard in the Silverlake district. In fact it appears that they had brought their fixies there in their cars!

Considering that I was on the homeward leg of a hilly 65-mile fixed-gear ride (which subsumed Chuck Schmidt's wonderful Rose Bowl Ride), I should have been more dismayed than I was.

However, these were the first three I'd ever seen engaged in this supposedly widespread activity. And we did pass several fixsters actually riding their bikes afterwards.

So they exist. But they aren't the majority.

Rather silly to push a bike when it's so much pleasure to ride one!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 01 Feb 2009 17:13:59 -0800 [link]  

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