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Friday, October 30th
Ron Leach's Do-It-Yourself Porteur Rack
Pal Ron Leach just sent me an email about his DIY porteur rack, and I liked it so much I asked him if I could publish his description and photos on the Bicycle Fixation blog. He said, "Yes," so here it is!
I just finished quick project I thought you might find interesting: A homemade "porteur rack" for my Bridgestone MB2 errand bike using about $35 worth of supplies available at any hardware store and an extra Park Tool Handlebar Holder I had lying around (you know, the $17 thing you slip over your top tube and the handlebars to keep them from turning while your bike is on the repair stand). Parts included some 1/2" x 1/8" steel strips for the supports, two 14" x 6" x 1/8"oak strips for the top, 1" x 1/8" aluminum strips to support the wood, and a few p-clamps and nuts and bolts to hold it together. Oh, and a can of black Rustoleum spray paint.

I used a re-bent curtain rod bracket to attach the rack to the fork crown hole for added stability. The hooks on the front of the Park Handlebar Holder provide an easy way to attach a bungee cord or net to your cargo and the loop at the other end keeps your cargo from sliding into your brakes. The finished rack is surprisingly strong, rigid and rattle-free. It was just luck that the Park thing is the same color as my bike. I wish I knew how to weld!

So far I've only put about 15 pounds on the rack, but I'm sure it can handle more. And the funny thing is the rack actually improved the front-end stability of the bike; I can now ride hands-free at slow speed without any wheel flop. Maybe that's to be expected, but I was worried that the contrary would be the case.
Ron, by the way, also owns the Meral randonneuse we feature on our Flickr site, and he sold us the Eisentraut Limited for which I'm slowly gathering parts, so he knows fine bikes as well as homebrew beaters.

Nicely done!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 30 Oct 2009 18:54:18 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, October 28th
"That's Just the Way I Ride My Bike...."
Eighty-four-year-old Lan Yin Tsai just rode New Jersey's City to Shore MS benefit ride--all 150 miles of it--in a dress and high heels...and she's been doing it for 26 years!
"In Taiwan, riding a bike is very common," explains Tsai's grandson, Alan Sim, who also participates in City to Shore -- 2009 was his sixth year. "So she grabbed her little one-speed bike and was doing the ride."

And why the nice dress and high heels? Tsai says that's just her normal biking outfit.

"I went to church, so I always dressed up and would ride my bicycle," she says. "So that's why I do it that way--I do it that way naturally. That's the way I ride my bike."
To read the entire article, go to

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 28 Oct 2009 17:29:04 -0800 [link]  

Monday, October 26th
Jazz Carols Album to Benefit World Bicycle Relief
If you have a taste for jazz standards and are sentimental about Christmas, then you might like vocalist Alexis Cole's new album--especially knowing that part of the proceeds go to World Bicycle Relief, which provides transportation and cargo bikes to persons in Third World countries, for whom they can make the difference between sustenance and abject poverty.

Click here to go directly to the album page, or here for her homepage. (Unfortunately Cole's site is built in frames.) Style seems to vary eclectically from lounge bebop/soul hybrid, with intriguing detours along the way.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 26 Oct 2009 14:30:07 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, October 25th
What, They Noticed...?
Yes, some of the mainstream media, large and small, wrote up the events that took place yesterday to draw attention to Global Warming. (Consensus is that 350ppm of CO2 is all the world can take before hitting the "tipping point.") A small sampling:

Los Angeles Times
New York Times
The Examiner
Phillippine Daily Inquirer
The Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin

Now, it's fine to know, but what to do about it?

Well, many of you are already doing one big thing: riding your bikes! In the US, transportation accounts for at least 20% of Global Warming Gases emissions--and that probably doesn't count the emissions caused while building 4,000-pound cars to carry 170-pound people around in, nor all the asphalt and concrete required to drive and park them. (One ton of concrete causes one ton of CO2 emission by the time it's in place.)

But a 25-pound bike can take you there, month in and month out, even in winter. And requires less energy to move you than even walking does!

So keep riding, friends, keep riding!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 25 Oct 2009 19:10:53 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, October 24th's "International Day of Climate Action"
Maybe not so much "action" as "education" but we need all of that we can get. ("Action" to me is getting rid of your car and using your bike and Metro pass, double sealing your windows, painting your roof white, voting out that corporate panderer, etc., but meetings and getting to know your neighbors are damned good too!) is organizing a day of simultaneous educational or demonstrative events today, October 24th, all over the world. In their words:
We're calling on people around the world to organize an action on October 24 incorporating the number 350 at an iconic place in their community, and then upload a photo of their event to website.
To find an event near you, go to their website for a description and a button to the event finder; or you can go directly to the event finder here.

So if you find an event in your community, grab that Metro pass or that bicycle and make your presence known!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 24 Oct 2009 06:43:43 -0800 [link]  

Friday, October 23rd
Bikes, Transit, Money, & "Polictical Will"
Found a good short article this morning from the blog "Travelin' Local," about bikes, transit, and funding in Los Angeles. Almost all the observations apply to any city in the US, so I recommend you ead it. A sample quote:
Unfortunately, too much money is going to road/parking projects and not enough to bike/mass transit projects. Here are some examples:

Never realized - 1996-2002 LA citywide bicycle master plan: $60 Million
Repaving 3 Miles of the 710 Freeway: $75 Million
Average annual costs of Los Angeles auto accidents: $10.5 billion
Construction of a single car parking space in a multilevel garage: $7,000+
Per bicycle parking space on a typical U-wave rack: $50+
(The examples, by the way are from another blog.)

A nice roundup of the values as well as virtues of supporting bicycle infrastructure. Read it at Travelin' Local.

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 23 Oct 2009 07:18:22 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, October 21st
Announcing the "24 Hours of Fixed Gear Gallery" Benefit Contest
This is a simple benefit contest offered every year by Dennis Bean-Laren's beloved Fixed Gear Gallery. The 2009 contest will be a benefit for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and all monies raised will go directly to this organization. You simply make a modest donation of $20 or more through the page linked to below, then at noon on Friday, October 23rd, you start taking pictures or whatever you might be doing that you want to share, until noon the next day. Five or ten shots is plenty!

Fixed Gear Gallery will publish them on October 27th.

There will also be a drawing from among all entrants for the following schwag:So click on the link to enter the Twenty-Four Hours of Fixed Gear Gallery now!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 21 Oct 2009 13:14:02 -0800 [link]  

Stitching the River ride, 4th Edition
This Sunday, October 25th, 2009, Bicycle Fixation will be repeating our "Stitching the River" Ride over the Art Deco bridges of Downtown Los Angeles. This is always the best attended of our rides, and some of the sights will surprise even downtown regulars!

We'll gather in Chinatown at 10:30 by the statue of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen in the Central Plaza and then ride over the Broadway, 6th Street, Mission, and other classic LA bridges, returning to Chinatown for snacks afterwards.

The ride is a little over twenty miles and mostly flat, but there are some short, steep climbs over some of the bridges and up to the bluffs on the east side of the river. Also, this is a heavy industrial area, so don't bring your most delicate tires!

The Plaza is just around the corner from the Metro Gold Line's Chinatown station, and there are parking structures scattered around chinatown for those that must drive.

Meet at 10:30, ride at 11:00! This is a social ride on city streets among motorized traffic, and we will follow all California Vehicle Code regulations.

Here's a map.

Use our comments page if you have any questions--or comments, of course!

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:55:22 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, October 20th
New Bicycle Fixation T-shirt
It took us a while, but we finally found an image we liked enough to add to our T-shirt collection! It's a faux-cross-processed photo that Gina took of Portland's Steel Bridge, which carries thousands of cyclists across the Willamette River daily up there in the Bicycling Capital of the US. She'd been to the Steel Bridge as part of the rolling party that followed the fashion show earlier this month (which fashion show featured some Bicycle Fixation product as well...).

Click on over to our T-shirt page and scroll down about halfway to see it.

Maybe we'll build up a collection of city-themed shirts, who knows....

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 20 Oct 2009 19:39:34 -0800 [link]  

Multi-Modal Travel Across the Centuries
...Well, across the Twentieth and Twenty-First centuries, at least. Saw this ancient "Royal Prince" bicycle parked at the Mission St. Gold Lien station in South Pasadena this morning. The headbadge said it had been made in Birmingham, England. A quick Internet search suggests that the parent company was hercules, in later years absorbed by Raleigh. Probably a '40s or '50s model, with an incongruous seatpost-mounted rack on it, and the sleek Italian train zipping past behind it. Crappy Cellphone Picture, of course:

Royal Prince at the Gold  Line station

A few weeks ago I met a fellow at the Bridge who was riding a 1927 "President" bicycle--and had been riding it every day for fifteen years.

No need to recycle bicycles, when you can just keep riding them!

My Bottecchia is a relative baby at only forty years old....

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 20 Oct 2009 14:19:36 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, October 18th
Fixies, Fenders, and Food
Having settled on Hermosa Beach as my turnaround for this morning's ride, last night I Tweeted it, and mentioned it to the iBOB list as well. Figured I could get a little company along for the ride--and sure enough, while I waited the stated half-hour at Massimo's around the corner from home, in rode John V. and Brian C., up uncharcteristically early for a Sunday, and very welcome faces indeed!

A couple of espressos later, we wandered out to saddle up--and I had to laugh.

John had ridden his new-to-him Tanguy, Brian had brought the Quickbeam, and I of course was riding the Bottecchia.

All three were fixed-wheels. All three sported fenders. And all three had Carradices hanging from the saddles. (Okay, Brian's was a Carradice-inspired bag, but almost identical.)

And off we went!

Hazy day, not too hot but still sunny most of the time, a great, quick ride--Miracle Mile to Hermosa Beach in about an hour, and we faced plenty of traffic lights, since I dragged us through Culver City, down to the Ballona Wetlands, up through the gap in the Westchester Bluffs to cut in front of the runways at LAX, and through the narrow streets of busy little beach towns till we got to the foot of the Hermosa pier. I like it there because:
  1. It hosts Café Bonaparte, run by a real Frenchman and serving spectacular pastries (unfortunately they were out of the Paris-Brest artery-cloggers), and
  2. It is the only real (although probably accidental) town square I know of in the LA area, full of people on bike and on foot and (mostly) on chairs and benches enjoying food, drink, and each other.
We chose the beachside bike path for the return, taking it slowish between the shorreside cliffs and the crashing Pacific, enjoying the people enjoying the day.

A stop at the Bridge--my "church"--where we parted ways.

A very nice day, great riding, happy people, and the sea and the sky. And fixies!

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 18 Oct 2009 15:42:42 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, October 15th
Four Season Jerseys Coming Soon!
Well, despite tight money, skimpy credit, and an economy that's still a bit jelly-legged, we've taken the plunge and ordered some more merino wool from our supplier in New Zealand. And that means that the Four Season Jersey/Ninja Road Warrior Hoodie will be back in larger sizes in just a few weeks!

So keep an eye on this blog or our Twitter feed for news. Remember, these sold out almost instantly in sizes M, L, and XL last time we made them!

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 15 Oct 2009 21:30:28 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, October 13th
First Rain
The unseasonable storm that has been slouching towards Los Angeles seems to have weakened, which may mean few if any landslides in the burns left by the recent conflagrations, and maybe even a chance for shoots and sprouts to establish themselves and firm up the hillsides a bit before the next storm comes.

It also means I can feel less guilty about enjoying the first wet weather in many months. I love the low, rich-textured skies in their many shades of gray, and I love the rain itself, and especially the scents the desert plants exhale in rainy weather.

Today being Tuesday, I rode the fortyish miles to South Pasadena and back to have coffee with the Mighty Chuck Schmidt and pick up some t-shirts he had pressed for Bicycle Fixation.

The temperature was perfect, and the rain was on-again-off-again as vague squalls passed through. I put on the rain cape for only six of those miles; the rest of the time I let the drizzle or light rain fall on my wool knickers and jersey, knowing that the mute wisdom of sheep hair would keep me warm even if I did occasionally feel the damp, and would dry out within a mile or two after I passed out of the rain. (The cape was definitely necessary for the six miles I wore it, though!)

Perhaps most exhilarating, in a social rather than a sensual way, was seeing plenty of other cyclists out in the rain--cyclists whose rigs and outfits indicated that they were voluntary riders, and who were out there anyway. And not looking at all bothered by the weather. (The news has been harping about the oncoming storm for well over a week, so no one was caught in it unawares.)

In northern cities this may be no big deal, but here it means that Los Angeles is showing just a few more signs of growing up at last!

The rain is stronger now, but still steady and not harsh. If it stays that way, maybe some of the water will stay with us as well, in our aquifers. We've been a long, long time without the rain....

We'll see what morning brings.

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 13 Oct 2009 16:54:09 -0800 [link]  

Fathers and Sons
My son called last night, full of enthusiasm because his mail-order fixie had just arrived; and, he said, "You are cordially invited to come over and help me put it together."

That was an invitation I was most happy to accept! With gina up in Portland visiting family and taking care of a little Bicycle Fixation business, the evenings are pretty quiet here, and I was just getting ready to go out for a walk in the neighborhood. It's a great neighborhood for walking (it's rated a "Walker' sparadise" in Walkscore), but it was better yet to get on the bike and ride east under a rich, gray night and hang out with the kid.

Even better was his desire to do as much of the work himself, with me as a consultant, as it were.

We got the "Mercier" Kilo TT together quickly--not bad, though the wheels were out of true a little--and then he test rode it by riding along part of my way home. Practicing skids as he went.... Ah, fashion.

But he's riding, he's riding more and more each month, and his friends, who grew up with more conventional upbringings than he did, are also riding more and more each month. His mom reports he's even talking about the advantages of not having to drag a car along to lots of places! (With luck his friends will infect their parents with the bug...!)

And he's been doing the intermodal boogie with the Metro trains, which he was way too hip for a few years back.

Hope for the future, hope for the future, my friends. And fun for the present! I think we'll be able to take some longer rides together soon.

Of course, they'll have to start in the afternoon....

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 13 Oct 2009 08:10:27 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, October 10th
Tale of One City
whwdracks (55k image)A short course in rack placement, all on one street in one small enclave in LA.

The upper Crappy Cellphone Picture picture shows a good rack gone bad: the otherwise excellent "theta" design is so close to the wall that it's difficult to lock one bike to it, and impossible to lock two. I did secure my Bottecchia to it, so I could go into the adjacent hardware store, but it required a bit of contortion. This is in West Hollywood, and I mentioned this particular rack to Mayor Abbe Land when I consulted with her on bicycle issues a few weeks ago.

I took the lower Crappy Cellphone Picture a few blocks farther up Santa Monica Boulevard, still in West Hollywood at the West Hollywood Gateway; this is also a sidewalk placement, but perfectly done, with plenty of room beyond and between the racks for actual bicycles to use them. All the sidewalk racks are well-placed at the Gateway, and I use them on the rare occasions I need to go there.

There are also more racks as well as bicycle lockers in the parking structure under the mall.

I've also noticed racks by markets and bistros all over West Hollywood, so for a tiny (and quite oddly-shaped) city with an equally tiny budget, they're doing quite well. Mayor Land's interest in the economics of bicycle infrastructure, which we discussed at our meeting, bodes well for the future of rational transportation in that town.

They have added fairly good bike lanes to Santa Monica Boulevard as well--West Hollywood's first--and there is a comprehensive "Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Plan," which looks pretty good at a casual glance.

Not bad for a city that only came into official existence in 1984.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 10 Oct 2009 18:49:17 -0800 [link]  

Friday, October 9th
Bike Fashion in Portland
If you're in Portland tomorrow and visiting any of the Oregon Manifest events, you might want to check out Momentum's "Ready to Roll" fashion show. It's supposed to include a couple of Bicycle Fixation products, so here's your chance to see them in action if you haven't seen them around town!

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 09 Oct 2009 20:31:18 -0800 [link]  

Wednesday, October 7th
Hoodies on the Horizon...?
Looks like there's a chance we'll be able to offer the Four Season Jersey/Ninja Road Warrior Hoodie again this winter, if things work out.

We had been trying to get in touch with our merino wool broker for weeks without luck. finally we reached him--but it turned out that the mill in New Zealand was no longer employing him or any other agent in the US. The former agent gave us the direct email address, and it looks like they have both charcoal and burnt orange in stock, though not in great quantities.

We have asked for a quote, and if business, which is just now creeping up from the recessionary depths of last quarter, keeps up, we may have the jerseys in the sizes you have all been emailing us about!

So get ready to thumb your noses at winter, and at dull winter styles, because, with a little luck, we'll have the hoodies back this year!

PS: We do have Small and Extra Small still in stock right now....

Richard Risemberg on Wed, 07 Oct 2009 20:14:57 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, October 3rd
When Worlds Converge
Perhaps inevitably, my son, now twenty-three, went through a phase once common in the US when he was too cool to ride a bicycle. He preferred, as they often do, to storm about noisily in a car--though he was careful to keep his bikes well cared for in the garage, at least: even his first ever, a tiny red Schwinn that he long ago vowed to keep for his own children.

And he did not forget my promise to give him my old Bridgestone XO-2 when he became large enough to ride it: he called in the promise when he was around 19, though he rode only a few times a year.

Now, suddenly--thanks in great part to fixie punk culture, Midnight Ridazz, C.R.A.N.K. Mob, and the like--he is riding again.

LA's new bike youth culture works out well for him: unlike his early-bird dad, he is a night owl, and he's been scorching about town in the wee hours with crowds of other twentysomethings, partying in vacant lots till 4AM, then pedaling home. Yes, the boy who didn't like to break a sweat outside the gym is riding from his door to Echo Park, Downtown, and East LA on the swift little Fuji road bike I gave him a couple of years ago, when he wanted something "faster than that XO-2." (Not that he will agree to give the XO-2 back....)

And now he's speaking of a fixie, which would be nice for "tooling around the neighborhood."

As he put it himself a few months ago, "for better or worse, it looks like our worlds are converging."

Or just opening their eyes to one another.

Let the curmudgeons mock the fixie punks and their party culture all they want: it has been good for cycling, and so for the city and our worlds. Party on!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 03 Oct 2009 07:45:03 -0800 [link]  

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