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Tuesday, October 31st
Knicker Knews Knumber Knine
A milestone of sorts: I spent the day in the Garment District buying cloth, trim, and so forth.

i took the bus down, partly to break up my routine, partly because I didn't want to risk my presently one-and-only bike with a mere Kryptonite Evolution in an area where bicycles are currency. I shouldn't have worried, perhaps; downtown is crawling with bikes, with the sleek messenger squadrons of the Financial District blending into the beat-up delivery bikes of the Fashion, Jewelry, and Toy districts--lots of Wald Giant Baskets, lots of milk crates roped onto handlebars as well. And lots of rattletrap trashbikes being ridden by anyone and everyone, festooned with plastic grocery bags hanging from the bars.

Every street was crowded and busy and bright with the colors of rolls of cloth and finished suits and dresses. Salesmen stood on the sidewalks in front of their shops, dressed (of course) to the nines, and dim shabby walls leading deep into ancient towers housed every manner of textile and style of fashion imaginable, from natural wools to neon synthetics, from staid and traditional bankerwear to shake-yer-booty salsa shreds. A great deal of fun, even for a non-shopper like yer editor here.

And I snagged the gabardine! Though I couldn't get the price I wanted, I got close. The knickers may go up from the hoped-for $85 to around $95, which is still not bad for custom-designed 100% USA-made wool gabardine. I'll know when I add up all my costs.

And for you fans of black: there will be a limited number of black knickers available, as the wool merchant had only 80 yards of charcoal.

Fit samples will be ready Friday, if all goes well; I'll torture them over the weekend, have them cleaned to check for shrinkage, and then get back to the sewing contractor around Wednesday to have her start on the pre-production samples--a few of which I'll offer to certain chosen waists at my cost for further testing.

Stay tuned. (And if you're new to this thread, click here to see pics of the prototypes.)

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 31 Oct 2006 19:58:26 -0800 [link]  

Intentional Hit & Run on Cyclist in LA; Cops Don't Care, So Let's Make Them Care
LA cyclist Lars Lehtonen reports this intentional assault on his girlfriend, cycling activist Jen Diamond, Sunday morning in Los Angeles:
According to the statement of witnesses, a driver intentionally hit Jen Diamond, my girlfriend, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Los Angeles Police still haven't done anything about it. Jen is a former bike messenger, Bikesummer organizer, and AIDS-Ride participant.

Please repost. This isn't about raising some nebulous concept like "cycling awareness," this is about making government fulfill its obligations to citizens. We live in Los Angeles Council District 13, where the incident took place. Call Councilman Eric Garcetti's field office and ask why the police haven't done anything: (323) 957-4500. The office of LAPD Chief Bratton can be reached at (213) 485-3202. I can be reached by pager at (800) 310-4063, or email Case number 061125924.
For full information, photos, and a video, see Lars's blog entry.

Send it to LA council members and newspapers, post on coffeehouse bulletin boards, talk to neighbors, colleagues, strangers, anything. Otherwise it's open season on transportational cyclists here. Justice must be done.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 31 Oct 2006 17:46:25 -0800 [link]  

Monday, October 30th
More Hot Air on Hot Air
In an article this morning, the New York Times yapped on about a Global Warming symposium at which "1,800 entrepreneurs and experts watched a PowerPoint presentation of the most promising technologies for limiting global warming: solar power, wind, ethanol and other farmed fuels, energy-efficient buildings and fuel-sipping cars."

It went on and on about the truly regrettable state of affairs energy research funding is in ("Military research has increased 260 percent, and at more than $75 billion a year is 20 times the amount spent on energy research."), but ignored one of the most highly developed energy-saving technologies in the world, one that improves public health and social harmony as well: you guessed it, the bicycle.

Even "fuel-sipping cars" sip fuel--and they take up room, lots of room (aside from roads, every car in a city requires an average of eight parking spaces available for it if it is to be even marginally useful), causing sprawl, which requires more fuel-sipping cars sipping more fuel, which take up a lot of space, which requires more driving, ad infinitum.

And they make you fat, lazy, and suspicious of your neighbors, since everyone on earth is on the outside of your windshield, and doesn't listen to the same music you do....

Half of global warming emissions come from the "transport sector." Most sprawl--which disrupts community, reduces cities' tax income, and smears over productive land with dead asphalt--comes from accommodating cars.

Get with it, oh mighty policymakers! It's the cars! (And all those instant-on TVs).

You want electric vehicles: use trains; take up no room at all if they're underground. Make it easy for folks to ride their bikes to work or stores or subway stations, as they do in Japan. (Hell, even if you can't walk, it's easier to roll or shuffle onto a level-boarding train than to contort yourself into a car.)

Ride your bike. Then smell the air. And smile. At your neighbor.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 30 Oct 2006 06:37:43 -0800 [link]  

Friday, October 27th
Vivian the Plated Bicycle Will Ride Again

A few weeks ago I received an email from a reader, Gary P, who sent his sympathies, encouragement, and an interesting idea. (Let me add that I have received emails, both sympathetic and technically helpful, from readers from all over. Thanks, to each of you. You all rock.)

Gary wrote, "Ask Steve Thompson if he would turn for you two 17-4 alloy stainless steel rings that will be .002 in. smaller on the inside than the head tube lugs are in their outside diameter. To install them, heat them up and they will expand, then fit them in place on your frame over the top and bottom of your head tube. They will shrink when they cool and fit as tight as a drum."

Meanwhile, Steve Thompson called. He, too, had heard about Vivian's misfortune and insisted that we let him try to help. So we scheduled some time and I arrived with Vivian (the bicycle), Rick, Gary's good idea, and some hope.

At this point my determination to find the root cause, to point a finger at someone or something is completely gone. Answering a question is one thing, but playing the blame game is never productive.

For an hour we discussed Vivian's condition and reviewed our options. Several short, hairline cracks were evident at the head tube top, but to our surprise, they weren't all in the frame. At Steve's very close inspection he found that the inside of the tube was at least partially plated. This wasn't evident by merely peering into the dim tube. Un-burnished, the plating inside the dim pipe looked like clean metal. This means that some of these cracks were in the plating, not the frame. This also underscores my earlier advice to either mask the frame yourself, or review the masking needs with your plater. Every crack in the plating is another way for corrosion to get in.

Still, the question of what to do remained. Gary's idea agreed with Steve quite a bit, who deemed it "very good ." But it turned out that Vivian's head tube lugs had either flared, or were designed to flare, at the openings, making it impossible to fit rings small enough for a tight press. Welding the tube was also out of the question. The trouble of stripping, welding, grinding and re plating was just too arduous and costly with no guarantee of keeping any kind of esthetic integrity.

Since we couldn't strengthen the broken tube, we had to turn to the headset, and the source of the cracking: outward pressure on the tube. Steve decided to relieve some of the pressure by taking 1 to 2 thousands of an inch off the headset at the press fits, and using Loctite Bearing Retainer Fluid to improve the hold. The fit would be just tight enough to hold and no more. This will relieve the stress on the tube, preventing (somewhat) the cracks from getting worse. Though it meant that the headset would never be used on another bicycle, and that replacing it down the line would be difficult, we felt that the solution would extend Vivian's life to make it worthwhile. Not a perfect solution, but the best one under the circumstance. But, if everything went well, she could be built-up that evening.

Everything went smoothly, and two hours later we were back home with Vivian in the living room, looking out the window at a better future.

Gina Morey on Fri, 27 Oct 2006 21:09:07 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, October 26th
Knicker Knews Knumber 8
Left the office blissfully early and rode downtown to the garment district for a meeting with the owner of the little factory that will produce the first couple of runs of our Updated Classic Wool Knickers. I had been planning to hop on the subway with the bike, actually, to avoid getting all sweaty on the hills of Sunset Boulevard, but the air was so sweet and the light so golden I rode all the way in. After all, I don't have to take Sunset; it's just the scenic route. So I ran down Vermont to Wilshire and then into downtown that way.

I'm rarely there on a weekday, and it was fun to see bicycles everywhere, and at least half of them fixies, presumably from the downown messenger bunch. Once at the building, on Ninth off Broadway, I dragged poor Satchmo (my Fuji fix) into the elevator, retrieved the patterns from the Melanie the pattern-maker, and went across the hall to see Lanana, who owns a little sewing factory.

Everything went very well. Costs may be slightly higher than I'd hoped for the first few necessarily small production runs, but I still will be able to get very close to my $85.00 price point. Maybe even meet it, though I won't know for sure till I price the cloth itself. I will do that Tuesday, and, if all goes well, we'll have the test sample by Friday. Which means more pictures by Sunday, I hope.

Then will come some samples to send out to select members of the focus group. (Selected by waist size, actually.) And, with luck, production late next month?

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 26 Oct 2006 19:49:07 -0800 [link]  

Knicker Progress
Those of you who have been following the progress of our Updated Classic Wool Knicker Project will be interested to know that I'm leaving the office early today to head downtown and pick up the patterns--after which I have an appointment with a sample maker who might also be able to produce the first (necessarily small) batches of knickers. (And I love riding around downtown, let me tell you!)

So we're getting closer to the day when bicycle commuting becomes elegant as well as beneficial!

Keep checking in...and if you haven't seen our knickers yet, go to the preview page and check 'em out!

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 26 Oct 2006 11:52:21 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, October 24th
Good Company
Good ride home last night, and not just because the air was sweet and clear at the end of a warm autumn day...though it was great to be out on the bike, where I could seee the whole sky, the light declining from indigo overhead to a transparent flame color in the west, and smell the soft spice odors of chaparral blown down from the mountains on a mild Santa Ana wind....

It was particularly comforting to see lots of other bicyclists riding home at the same time. Some were sidewalk riders, some were obviously the working poor thatkeep America profitable, squeaking along on resurrected Huffies and the like, but many were people who would otherwise be driving. One fellow had a bike (I couldn't tell what kind) equipped with what looked like Gilles Berthoud fenders and leather mudflap, another (not very friendly fellow) was on a nice fixie; there was a good-looking road bike and a more sensible than usual ATB. Most people running lights, riding in traffic, as traffic. The way it ought to be.

Then, as I neared home, I passed a bunch of orthodox Jewish kids rowdily riding home from shul. I've noticed that a certain number of those kids keep riding long after they grown out their beards and become men according to Jewish law....

Encouraging sights, here in LA, at Ground Zero of Carmageddon. It's been getting better every year for the last half-decade or so. Slowly, but getting better....

Let's keep it up.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 24 Oct 2006 11:04:22 -0800 [link]  

Monday, October 23rd
About RSS
Yes, I know I don't have an RSS feed's coming. First, I want there to be more entries in the blog, and second, I have some technical problems to resolve. Patience, patience....

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 23 Oct 2006 21:47:58 -0800 [link]  

Let the Blither Begin!
Welcome to the official launch of the Bicycle Fixation weblog. (It's official in that you don't have to read the poorly-typed and scatological imbecilities I hammered out for test messages.)

This will be the spot for announcements, rants, news links, snippets of bicycling or sustainability info too small to constitute entire articles but too good to let dry up and blow away. Maybe pictures too if I don't get too lazy.

What it won't have is comments from my beloved readers. it's not that I discount your opinions--far from it; many of you are tired of hearing me beg for that article I strongarmed you into offering. No, it's just that I don't have time to weed out the phone card ads, stock tips, Viagra testimonials, porn-site link lists, and just plain sub-moronic dung-flinging attempts at shock-and-awe (more accurately, schlock and flaw) that some of our less-fortunate fellow netizens feel compelled to post to any open forum.

I went through enough of this when we had a bulletin board on our sister publication, The New Colonist, and I have even had some meticulous Australian pornographers tediously fill out BF's Comments and Submissions forms to send me mile-long lists of URLs to their nickelodeon blowjob teasers. (Listen, you pathetic roo-raping losers, if you can't keep your limp dicks away from your keyboards, at least waste each other's bandwidths, and not mine....)

But if you want to read about bicycling in the modern world, and into the future, and the convergence between the bicycle and the rest of the sustainability movement, you've come to the right place, mate! Hang around a while, eh?

Stitching the River Ride, Redux
A few weeks ago I posted an article about a ride I took one Sunday, riding all of downtown Los Angeles's bridges between Broadway and Olympic boulevards. Last Sunday I repeated it, this time with about twenty other riders along, including a few members of the L. A. Wheelmen, and the indomitable Chuck Schmidt of Velo-Retro, riding an immaculate black Waterford fixie. (But all of Chuck's bikes are immaculate.)

We wandered back and forth between the Eastside bluff and the warehouse district, past the San Antonio Winery and the Brewery lofts (one of the first factory-to-lofts conversions in LA, and still an artists' colony), over, around, and under a variety of delightful Art Deco bridges, between rows of loading docks, past busy alleys, past hilly parks complete with ponds and resident ducks, and through leafy neighborhoods cluttered with clapboard bungalows and gang graffiti. At one point we came to a bridge that had been closed for filming, but a friendly motorcycle cop escorted us across the bridge and through the set--where the grips dropped their work to take pictures of the parade of bicycles.

At the last stop, on the Olympic Boulvaqrd bridge just past the old Art Deco Sears, Roebuck, & Co. building, oen woman commented that she'd lived in LA all her life and had never seen so much of the city as she had that day! Not bad for a twenty-mile ride, and a testament to the power of the bicycle for revealing our world and our communities to us.

Glad to report that only a tiny minory of riders drove to the start of the ride. Most rode their bikes, and a last group of six of us headed west after some tasty Chinese pastries by the statue of Sun-Yat Sen, riding together to the Miracle Mile area, where we all finally parted ways.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 23 Oct 2006 20:55:13 -0800 [link]  

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