Monday, February 28

February and Cars Go Together

It's that time again...end of the month. Let's tally it up.

I rode 313 miles in February. That's pretty good considering I carpooled an entire week when I was sick, I had one holiday off and February is the shortest month of the year. I drove on the first of the month. The snow was piled high and the rest of my family had a snow day. I would say it just made sense, but I regretted it as soon as I turned the key.

But compared to February 2010's deplorable 46 miles this past month was worthy of a freakin' gold medal! Last year I drove a lot because of the weather.

Anyway, the past few days haven't inspired much rambling about cycling, other than to report Bean's new cycling status (two wheels good, four wheels bad).

My counter coverage changes in March. In theory my schedule will be 7:30 to 4:00 for the next two months. We'll see.

Saturday, February 26

Learning to Fly: Pink Princess Edition

The Bean rode on her own this afternoon. Her mom has the guts to let go without too much practice. I'm not sure if she has more faith in our kids or if she has a more sadistic maternal instinct than most. Regardless, her courage at their expense has gotten both of our kids on two wheels.

Bean is still a little ways away from taking off and stopping all on her own, and she rides only on the downhills, but she's taken the first big step.

Anti-Speed Friday

Without getting all "AA" on here I think I should explain a little bit about myself and how I truly feel about cold weather commuting (and briefly on commuting in general).

During the last semester of my undergraduate incarceration I was officially diagnosed with ADHD. Now, before you go jumping to the obvious conclusions, ADHD is sort of a sliding scale of symptoms that can be manifested in degrees. On one end there is "attention deficit" and on the other is "hyperactivity." I weigh in hard on the "attention deficit" side, if at all. I say that because there is also speculation on Team Pavement's Edge that a more accurate diagnosis would have been SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder, or for those more sticklery about it: Sensory Integration Dis-whatever).

I'm gonna throw out a fancy word and then completely fail to explain it. Co-morbid. Anyway, my exhibited behaviors seem to me (and to my in-house professional) to lean more toward sensory defensiveness and sensory cravings than actual attention deficit, but my official diagnosis (by a grad student) is ADHD not SPD. I could go into a long anecdotal history, but I'll spare you the anguish. What this means in the context of a cycling blog is not this: money.

What it does mean is that my desire to ride a bike goes beyond mere cognitive awareness of the health benefits associated with cycling, or a hipster need to feel all green and ecological and is in fact wrapped up in the more "primitive" parts of my brain.

Riding a bike is sensory therapy for me. What "Ramming Speed Friday" means to me is that I have put forth all of my physical effort into getting that bike going as fast as I possibly can to carve into turns, blast down grades and feel the earth moving around me. I need to feel gravity and inertia on a massive scale to wipe away a day and a week of sitting still, unmoving, staring at a computer screen and talking into a phone. I need to get my nervous system fired up to clean out the sensory pipes and put the whole affair behind me.

It's kind of unfortunate that my commute to work is uphill. It would be great for me if I could get the same effect before a day of work. I'm not saying my slow crawl up to Golden is without merit, but I think I get more out of pushing the bike to maximum warp.

That's one form of therapy. The other is cold. I have always preferred cold, or otherwise inclement weather. I enjoy being out in the rain, the wind, the cold and the adverse pounding conditions that can blow through in winter. I like the conditions of winter for the same reason I like to get the bike going on a headlong course toward destruction: sensory input.

I am fortunate to be a little heat engine anyway, so I can stave off the chill of cold air fairly well. What I get out of the exchange is total sensory stimulation: my skin, lungs, eyes, and wiggly piggies all reacting to the cold. It's not entirely uncomfortable now that I've started learning to dress more appropriately for winter commuting.

Because of all of this I find it terribly amusing when people look at me as I walk in from the cold, covered in snow, skin angry red and they shiver and call me crazy. I've never really explained to anyone why I actually enjoy the cold. I guess it wouldn't make them think me any less crazy. I will add that because of this lifelong predilection for adverse weather I am truly competent at getting out in the worst of it and surviving with the greatest margin of safety. I know what I'm doing.

Some of the happiest moments in my recreational life have been staring into the face of a howling winter storm with a happy grin on my face.



My prediction was correct. This evening was not another edition of "Ramming Speed Friday." While the roads and paths appeared free of snow they did appear damp and the temps were lacking in Fahrenheit. I held my speed in check, enjoying the cold.

Friday, February 25

Dodging...

...the ground unsuccessfully.

I think I'm going to go ahead and call it…no Ramming Speed Friday this afternoon. We've had a faux-snowpocalypse. At 6am this morning the local news channel (Weather Propaganda Experts) were showing "live" footage of snow falling. I looked out the window. No snow. I live 9 miles by bike from the TV station.

Anyway, I got ready and dressed for the alleged temps in the teens with single digit windchills. Of course I would be sweating like a hog being interrogated by the House Judiciary Committee (Have you ever been associated with the communist party?) by the time I reached work.

As I rolled the old Cannonball out the door there was a "dusting" of snow on the ground. And away we went.

The streets had that windblown look but didn’t seem too slick. My standard commuting uniform was keeping me comfortably warm. I was glad for my new glove liners for sure. When I reached the CCT I saw one set of tire tracks in the half inch of fresh snow. Within a hundred yards they veered off onto a neighborhood street and I was alone in the greenbelt accompanied only by the hiss of my slick commuter tires over the snow.

It was a most uneventful ride into Golden, except for the fact that the further west I rode the deeper the snow got and the heavier it fell. I never did start sweating like a communist hog.

The site of my failed attempt to fly (see Douglas Adams' exhaustive study of the subject in his seminal "trilogy" The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) was the 90° turn from the paved path onto the wooden bridge over Tucker Gulch just south of 10th Ave in Golden. I guess after riding for 45 minutes or so over the snow I had become complacent. As I coasted down the slight grade toward the turn I realized (too late) that I was going far too fast for the conditions. I probably completed that thought as I slid headfirst toward the bridge railing. Luckily the bridge has a rough wood surface with maximum friction. I slowed immediately and did not crash into the steel railing. Thankfully, because of the coating of snow and my bulky clothing I didn’t get any splinters either.

Y'know, when you're riding along at a good clip on a bike you're only connected to the earth by a small oh, so very small chunk of real estate. It does feel like you've slipped the surly bonds of earth. But once you start gliding across frozen water crystals you know what it truly feels like to fly.

I got up, did a quick mental diagnostic, realized I was still the quirky, goofy guy I've always been with no new bodily injuries and continued along toward my place of gainful employment. The hill on Illinoising was tricky. I was trying to maximize my weight over the rear wheel, and I could have used those five or so pounds I've lost recently. I made it okay and endured the stupidity that runs rampant on the higher education campus every time it snows.

So here I am. I won't rocket home tonight. No, I'll be taking it nice and easy so I can continue to torment you with my tales of mediocre cycling "adventure."

Thursday, February 24

Ex-Peds and Positive Externalities

I've been thinking lately about the example cyclists set for other cyclists and motorists alike. I've recently read a few articles (one in particular) that have made me think long and hard. One article suggested that chasing down a motorist who almost killed you would do little to educate that motorist or any others. I tend to agree, but it sure makes you feel good to righteously pound on a drivers' side window and give 'em both barrels.

And then the infamous Bike Snob (NYC) chimes in in his book:

"However, the enraged part of me feels that this person has no idea what they almost just did to me, and that they must be told - loudly, and with lots of obscenities. I want to drown them in the melted pepper jack cheese of my anger. And I do feel there's some validity to that. After all, if someone has no idea they almost killed a cyclist, how can they be expected to drive smarter and more carefully in the future?"


So on one hand we have the "turn the other cheek" approach and on the other hand we have the "burning righteous anger for the sake of educating drivers" approach. I like to use a combination of the two.

The other day as I dodged pedestrians on the CCT I made an oddly perceptive connection (for me):

Cyclists should take extra care to be polite and considerate of pedestrians because when pedestrians cease to be pedestrians they typically become motorists and not cyclists.

It's not beneficial to harass pedestrians, no matter how random or just plain dumb they act. I know, I know...sometimes they just step into your path. Sometimes they wander all over the MUP with no regard for the laws of physics. But you have to refrain from mowing them down because there is no guarantee that will wise them up.

A happy ex-ped/motorist will be more likely not to intentionally maim the next cyclist they see. A "buzzed" ex-ped/motorist may decide to return the favor to the next cyclist they see.

Put some positive energy into the system and make another cyclist's day better.

Wednesday, February 23

Where's the Xtracycle?



If you can give me minute and second count I'll post your name in BOLD on the blog.

Tuesday's Gone

With the wind...

It's not the day after a holiday anymore, but the full moon effects are lingering far into the week.

In my "Xtracycle vs. Ute" blather I forgot to mention one other possibility: the Radish. Xtracycle makes a bike not just the frame extensions. But having discussed it (briefly) with Mandy, she likes the Ute and will go with it as long as she can successfully tame the giant beast. I don’t think she'll have a problem once she actually takes one for a spin.

For me I would pick the Ute over the Radish without much thought for two reasons: 1) The Ute is black, the Radish is white or off white. 2) The Radish does not have disc brakes and the Ute does.

And then there is the Surly Big Dummy. I knew you'd bring it up, so let me go ahead and shoot your idea in the food my minions…er, Dear Readers. Even if I could afford the Big Dummy it goes against my philosophy that an excessively expensive bike, no matter the purpose or utility, will cause me unwanted stress-related weight gain and therefore I will not own a bike that costs more than $2,000 to replace. In fact, I'm thinking about $1,200 is my hard and fast ceiling and for my first longtail I'm trying to keep it under a grand because we're going to be getting one for me and one for Mandy.

THIS JUST IN: I'm not sure where I saw the $2,000+ price tag (I know I saw it somewhere), but the Big Dummy is listed for $1,849.00 on Xtracycle's website. That's still a lot more than I want to spend on a new bike in the Year of the Longtails, but $1,850 is a lot easier to swallow than whatever exorbitant price I saw elsewhere. Still, it puts the BD lower in the running for my first longtail cargo bike, but if I were to find one closer to a grand I might seriously consider it.

Anyway, so the options as I see them in order from least to most preferred are:

Xtracycle Radish $999
Surly Big Dummy $1,850
Kona Ute $900-ish
Cannonball X (my early '90s Cannondale M300 with a Classic Cargo Free Radical) $438 + $80-ish for front disc fork + $100 (estimate) disc brakes = $618 (and possibly build costs unless I do it myself)

As I mentioned previously, I think going with the Cannonball X I will have a more versatile and satisfying longtail. I will be able to tour in more comfort and with some quick changes (i.e. flat bars and MTB tires) I could take it off road as well.

From a general utility standpoint I think the other three are all comparable for commuting and riding around town. The Big Dummy looks best for off road applications, but would definitely cause suffering for hard core road touring. It might be easy enough to swap out bars for a big trip. It would be good to ride the Ute and the Big Dummy for comparison.

Questions, questions...

Tuesday, February 22

Enough With Tuesday Already!

Yeah, it's another three post day. I'm not like other bloggers who can just be satisfied with one post on multiple topics, or one who can just shut up and say enough is enough.

Today has not been the best day. Full moon lag effect, I predicted it! I said it first! I told a co-worker last Friday, "You know they'll come in here in droves on Tuesday because they can’t get to us during the actual full moon."

I was right. Crazies on the left of me and crazies on the right. I argued with one guy twice, and gladly went and got my supervisor at his request. I wasn't nice to him after his not-so-subtle slams and after he accused me of being on a power trip. For those of you that don’t know me beyond this blog, while I perceive you all as my minions I don’t really have any aspirations of power and I almost never use my position to elicit any kind of joy. I'm not going to say it never happens, but typically I really, really don’t care enough about the situation to act vindictively when someone is being cranky. Today was one of the rare occasions when I make exception.

Mr. Surly Mouth spent quite a bit of time in our lobby, or as some would call it "waiting" room. He made good use of his space while I did "research."

And there were others, all of whom have paled in memory after Mr. Surly Mouth.

How is this a Pavement's Edge issue? You could ask me that, Dear Reader, but I'm going to go with the flow today and clam up. I don’t have to justify my argument, I just have to beat you over the head with it.

Anyway, having a bad day makes me dream of getting on my bike, turning it toward the sunset and pedaling away. Away.

Summer can’t come soon enough. We are going to express our cycling freedom on the open roads. I have some schemes and plans. I am giddy of mind at the prospects of trammeling the light fantastic over prairie and foothill. I will climb many glorious feet into the bluebird skies to escape beyond treeline and the edge of civilization.

I look back on my life and I wish I had fully realized the opportunities I had when I was younger. I wasn't a "cyclist" in the strictest sense. I had a bike, I occasionally rode the bike, but I didn’t use it fully and completely in the best way I could have.

I keep myself sane by planning the Grand Adventure in my head, and in planning a series of Lesser Adventures along the way. One of these days…

On Any Given Tuesday

Okay, so I get that the day after a holiday our office would be busy. We basically do double duty on those days. I understand. What I'm not so sure about is why there were MORE cars on the road today than a regular Monday or Tuesday. Don’t the same number of people have to be at work on any given Tuesday, I mean, generally? So where did all the cars come from? And where did all the bikes go? I didn’t see a single other cyclist out today.

Oh, wait, maybe the cyclists drove today! Nah, couldn’t be that. The difference between additional cars today and the total number of cyclists on any given day is much greater and offers no explanation for the disparity.

It's a mystery to which I will offer no hypothesis. Instead, let me offer my views on the book The Party's Over by Richard Heinberg which I finished on my lunch today: read it.

If you aren’t scared to pieces and depressed beyond repair after reading it, you may have a chance in the coming calamity. It plays on my long standing post-apocalyptic fantasies. But it also helps me to better understand why I've always had this sense of dread about our modern socio-economic arrangements. I think the best message to take away from the book is this:

Our cultural obsession with good news, promises, and hope is humanly understandable, but there comes a time when the best thing to do is accept that a bad situation has developed and find intelligent ways to manage it.


Now is that time. Do you see what's happening in the Middle East? Gas prices might do more than "go up." Gas may become scarce. I was born at the end of the oil embargo of the '70s, and I'm a child of the build up that led to it. While I didn’t personally experience those times, I did watch that Cheech and Chong movie that portrayed the events of 1973-4 and I am certain if you light up a doobie in a gas soaked Thunderbird you will meet with much more dire results than did those Beaners. No seriously, rationing of gasoline may become a reality. $5.00++ prices could become the norm. Food prices will shoot up, consumption will go down, the economy could tank even further.

Regardless of whether there are five or fifty more years of petroleum supply still in the ground, the problems of supply lines, political access to oil and the extreme delicacy of our fossil fuel dependent infrastructure could lead us quickly into ruin.

Heinberg also states:

Human beings have always had problems: competition for scarce resources, natural disasters, diseases, accidents, and so on. It is the SCALE of the problem that besets us now that is unique.


The scale of our dependency is going to be the real crux of the matter. We haul too much (ourselves included) too far, too often.

I highly recommend reading The Party's Over. IN a sense it better summarizes the Peak Oil dilemma than other more focused pieces do. For me it would be a tossup between The Party's Over or The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler if I were going to recommend only one book on the subject.

Ride a bike!

Tuesday Propaganda

I say DOWN WITH PROCESSED FOOD!!!

Not too long ago, after watching a slew of "Dark Social Commentary" and "Fight the System" and "Recommended for Chris" movies on Netflix, we decided to completely go off processed food. And while I'll readily admit I fall off the wagon at the slightest bump my intake of processed food has dropped significantly. When I say significantly I mean from 100% consumption previously to less than 10% over the past few weeks.

So what does this mean? I could go back and list off the Grist articles I've read on food, I could post my "Recently Watched" list from Netflix, but suffice it to say that based on my "research" in recent weeks I've finally found the impetus to get myself on a healthier diet. Nothing in my past has enabled me to do that. Since my late 20s my health and energy have been on a steady decline. While I still consider myself healthier than average, I'm not the unstoppable force I used to feel that I was. The past few years this has bothered me, yet I've been unable to curb my ravenous intake of fast food, soda and junk food.

I've only been able to maintain my weight under 200 pounds because I've forced myself to be active even as my motivation and energy has waned. I worked at UPS for a few years toward the end of my undergraduate sentence. And for a time I worked at an online textbook warehouse hauling armloads of books around for eight hours a day after my four hour stint at UPS. I'm sure I was consuming thousands of calories more than I do now. I was also expending calories at a frightening rate. I knew the minute I quit both of those jobs my weight would...well, "spike" seems so inadequate to describe a round condition. My energy levels dropped off significantly as well.

I've struggled to avoid gaining weight beyond 200 pounds and I've ventured there only a couple of times and briefly then. But nothing- no fitness goals, no recreational goals, no desire to live longer, be healthier or have more energy -has helped me to kick the habit. What it took for me was understanding the modern "food chain" and being mad enough to chew nails (my own) that helped me find the motivation and the resolve to change my horrid eating habits.

Actually, I think the motivation came from realizing what effect all of the food industry monkey business will have on my children, and I decided for their sake we had to stop eating the Corporate Approved Diet.

Remember I stopped wearing the cycling costume and started wearing real clothes? Remember I stopped showering at work and have been showering before my commute in the mornings? Well, I used to weigh myself daily in the locker room. I stopped doing that when I started getting ready at home. I'm not sure why, maybe it was inconvenient to tap on the digital scale to get it to come on. I'm not sure.

After my recent cyclo-commuting hiatus while I was sick I stepped on the scale at home. I was 198. Groan. I'd been sick. I hadn’t been riding my bike. But 198?!

Yesterday morning I stepped on the scale after breakfast and with a full belly I was 191. A week of full on commuting every day and eating almost no processed food whatsoever had burned off the pounds amazingly fast. I had two sodas early in the week before reading Tom Philpott's article on Grist about what is really in diet (and otherwise) soda.

This morning with my gastrointestinal tract empty I weighed in at a mean 188. I don't remember how long its been since I've been less than 190 lbs. (I stood up to do a little dance after writing that)

No wait, I do. November-December 2005: I had a really bad bout of flu and lost 20 lbs. over a month. I'd lost my sense of taste with all the congestion and stopped eating compulsively until I got over the flu; then I put the weight right back on and then some. Immediately after recovering from the flu and just before I started to pack the pounds back on I went on a backpacking trip with my good friend Travis. It was a whirlwind trip to the Smokies in December and I ended up hiking 28 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain in postholes and over frozen snow in a 24 hour span. And that was including 9 hours of sleep...

I've not really increased my activity level this past week. We've only drastically changed our diet. I owe big kudos to my wife for having the mad June Cleaver skillz to make homemade bread, bagels, pasta and put together some amazing meals for us. She always makes good food, and has typically made healthy and more and more whole foods, but since this big decision came down she's stepped it up and has gone so far as to make crackers (Gromit) and has really made it all come together.

Our goal this summer is to start a garden. We're researching and planning. We're hippifying hourly.

And on to the other propaganda: you'll hear from moto-fascists that encouraging people to get out of their cars is akin to their own brand of fascism. How dare we challenge the freedom of tax paying American citizens to buy and drive Hummers?!

Well, let me tell you something, being a cyclo-commuter has given me freedom that I never knew possible. I'm free from traffic. I'm free from gas prices (and becoming more free). I'm free to choose my mode of transportation. I'm free to step outside of blind convention and walk (ride) a different path. I'm free to hang on to more of my hard earned money by not cramming it into the gas tank. By embracing the car-free (ALMOST) lifestyle I've started to learn to be satisfied with much, much less. Living simply allows you to take the truth path of least resistance, and not the perceived path which requires throwing money at all of your problems.

So yeah, I guess I would advocate taking away the "freedom" of being allowed to own a Hummer and I'd exchange it for true freedom and true liberation.

Get on that bike!

Monday, February 21

Gears

While I go on about the Year of the Longtails my kids have their own cycling dreams.

Last week I took the pedals and training wheels off of Bean's pink princess bike and put the Balance Buddy on it. She hasn't taken off like I expected her to, and I realized she can actually brake with the pedals, so I put them back on today. A couple of paces up and down the street with her has me convinced she'll be riding on her own by spring. She wanted to keep riding all afternoon. I finally convinced her to take a break for awhile.



On the other hand, Boone is ready for gears. After our Tour de Arvada on Saturday we've all realized he would be much happier if he could just gear down for the hills. And I'm certain that he can figure out shifting and using hand brakes pretty quickly. It's been hard for him to keep up with me and Mandy on our recent rides because he has a single speed 20" BMX bike.

What's funny is after we went to Assisted Cycling Tours' (ACT) open house and saw the Matters' tandem, Boone has been talking about us getting one. I had mentioned it to him once that a tandem would be fun for us because he could ride with me and we could go a lot of places. He seems to be all for it.

I've never really liked the idea of a tandem before, but as I've looked into the Xtracycle and other longtails and read up on the Vogel family's adventures I can see how a tandem would be a great addition to our fleet. I'm not saying we're in the market for a tandem, but I'm not saying I wouldn't happily take one if someone were to give it to us.

Going beyond the standard single rider bicycle and stepping into the world of utility and family bikes is exciting. We've always been open to the idea of using our bikes for more than just riding up and down the street and around the park. It's incredible how having access to the 800+ miles of paved trails, the hundreds of miles of bike lanes and good roads and the untold miles of off-road trails and paths within a day's ride will inspire you to jump on your pedals so much more often.

I look forward to a summer of two wheels for all four of us. The kids are little cycling fiends, and usually up for any adventure. We're going to test that theory this summer.

We'll conquer distance. We'll overcome weight and mass. We'll build endurance, confidence and strength. We'll do all this while propelling the most efficient means of transportation ever devised by man.

The plan is that the kids will go visit family in the East in a few months, yet we fear with building turmoil in the Middle East, with interruptions in oil production and political unrest that gas prices may jump pretty high and we won't be able to afford the trip. That's becoming a distinct possibility. If we can't afford to travel this summer then we'll be riding out from home a lot more often and we'll be exploring our limits and stretching out along the roads and byways.

There are as lot of destinations within striking distance of Arvada. I'm really good at pulling the logistics together for a fun adventure. Hope you'll come along.

Sunday, February 20

Xtracycle Vs. Kona Ute

Okay, here we go. After I took Mandy to Salvagetti to look at the Ute I've been thinking it might make sense for me to go with a Ute too instead of converting the Cannonball with an Xtracycle kit. Historically Mandy and I have had matching vehicles from the beginning. When we met we both had Chevy Celebrities. Then we moved to matching Honda Accords, and since then we've had Suburbarus.

Then when I bought my Giant OCR2 (R.I.P.) we went back a few days later and got her an OCR3 which she still has.

When it first came up in discussion I began thinking a Ute for me just made the most sense. But then I had a thought: I want a good touring bike, and the Ute just doesn't seem to fit the bill. However, my plans for the Cannonball would essentially make it into a touring longtail bike. It would still be a "fire road" bike if I slapped MTB tires on it or a good road touring bike with the commuter-type tires (or even skinnier) I have on it now.

So let's break it down with the current info.

First, handlebar configuration: The Ute has swept back cruiser/commuter type bars. That means limited hand positions. That's fine for a 10 mile commute or trips around town, not so good for all day riding. The Cannonball X will have drop bars for multiple hand positions. Hands down (pun intended) a plus toward touring.

Second, riding position: The Ute has an upright riding position, again good for around town or a commute, not so good when you're trying to cut through a headwind on an all day ride. The Cannonball will allow varied positions for any riding conditions.

Next, the Ute will be a brand new bike, all new components with associated warranties and a year of maintenance. The Cannonball will need new (disc) brakes, the frame is about 16 years old and eventually I'll need a dedicated set of wheels for it. I plan on sharing with the OBS at first.

And then the Ute doesn't seem to have appropriate gearing for touring (16 speed - 2X8). The Cannonball is set up with 27sp (3X9) already and is a proven climber, even better than the deceased Giant. I can climb a wall with that thing.

Lastly, the Ute will cost a little more but need no other work initially. The Cannonball X will need to be built and may need some tweaking in the first few weeks afterward. The Cannonball X will be longer and harder to store, but not by much.

One thing, I need to ride the Ute and see how it feels. But I think the decision is ultimately going to come down to the touring questions. I don't want to have to buy another bike if I get the opportunity to go on a multi-day tour. The OBS is a full on MTB and the Ute just doesn't seem like a long-haul bike.

The Cannonball X might just have to be that bike.

Thoughts?

Fuel

I watched the movie Fuel last night. I highly recommend that you watch it. It is produced by Josh Tickell, the man driving around the country in the "Veggie Van" since the late '90s. He's been promoting and educating about the use of biofuels as a replacement for gas and petro-diesel. The movie offers a lot of good information about our fuel consumption habits in this country.

He actually, briefly, mentions using bicycles near the end of the film. And I have seen the recurring theme recently, in the writings those Cassandras that are trying to get the word out about Peak Oil and the impending effects, that the bike is NOT touted frequently as the salvation of the material world.

And it occurred to me as I watched Fuel, the bicycle will never replace heavy transport, and the scale of our economy is such that to find a solution pre-collapse we need to find alternate ways to move goods over even short distances.

Therefore, the bike is the solution for individuals. It is the best choice for those that have a choice, or who can put themselves into the position to make the choice. For the shipping and trucking industries the solution would seem to be biofuels.

I've also seen the criticism about biofuels that the production takes up cropland and leads to starvation in other parts of the world. The film also addresses that issue and I think there are viable solutions if we just accept them and at least give them a try. It's not about black and white lines drawn: here are crops grown for fuel where crops for human consumption could be grown. I think we need to examine what resources in land and space we have and make a strong effort to allocate them wisely.

Bikes (and walking and public transportation) for people; biofuels for plains, trains, trucks and ships.

I know there are "conservatives" out there who would smack me down saying I'm a socialist or that I am promoting fascism, taking away the freedoms of God-fearing, hard-working, tax paying republicans. Well, yeah, maybe that's what I'm saying.

"Freedom" is a dubious concept in our country. Freedom originally meant freedom from oppression. Today many people conceptualize freedom as little more than watered down anarchy.

The "freedom" to drive a Hummer is basically the allowance of certain individuals to make choices which others ultimately pay for.

Remember: smart people ride bikes.

Oh, and for the record, I consider myself very "conservative." But when I say conservative I am cognizant of the root: conserve.

Saturday, February 19

Friday, February 18

Ramming Speed Friday: Three Day Weekend Edition

Do you think the sitting president gets gifts from his friends and family like a birthday or Father's Day on President's Day? I wonder.

I'm going to proclaim it a valid Ramming Speed Friday, but only because none of you were there with me to refute the claim. I should have left a trail of fire behind me, but for whatever reason I didn't feel like I would have been able to ram my way through a flock of Canadian geese, much less the usual suspects.

With three days of leisure and no permit review woes ahead of me I should have flown like their were wings on the Cannonball. Instead the Cannonball fell like a cannonball before rolling along the ground, to burst upon the front stoop.

I speculate that much like my tires I need to be at the proper PSI. I just feel flat.

I was welcomed into the house by the smell of homemade pizza and the sight of Ale-8s sent by our good climbing friend Di Clark back in Kentucky. For those of you not familiar, Ale-8 is a soft drink made in Winchester, Kentucky. It's sort of like ginger ale, but way better.

Anyway, the week is done, and thankfully so. My brain is tired and needs some relief from all this bicycle nonsense. I'm not saying we aren't going to ride tomorrow...because we are. How can we not? The weather is supposed to be sooo nice. Maybe we'll go up in the foothills. There's this place called Black Hawk...

Roads Still Open For Now

Riding home from Denver last night under a full moon I had time to reflect on the proceedings at the Capitol. For me it was a completely new experience. I can’t think of anyone in my immediate circle of trust who has ever testified before a governmental committee. At least I was not asked if I was now, or ever had been associated with communist party or anything like that. It was a much more inviting environment than you’d expect, even for a generally attention-shy person like myself.

I'm familiar with the workings of public hearings. I've sat in on a few related to my job so the format was familiar to me. The mechanics of state government were a bit fuzzy to me, but after grilling Rep. Kerr for a few minutes I started to understand a little better.

I had a good conversation with Chris Santriano who works with Midnight Sun, Inc. He came to testify as a cyclist and as a a bicycle industry representative.

Time passed as we sat outside the hearing room. The frantic ride east to get to the Capitol by 1:30 yesterday was wasted energy. I don’t know how many bills were before HB 1092 but we waited. We waited. We waited. Around six-ish we went into he hearing room.

As is customary, the opposition went first after Andy presented the bill. First up was Corey Hoffman, city attorney for Black Hawk. He made two points defending Black Hawk's ban: 1) There is a real world danger by putting bikes and other vehicles on the roads together in Black Hawk and 2) Legislation of the movement of vehicles on roads should be left to local municipalities. The he cited the narrowness of Black Hawk's roads. He stated that bicycles on the roads in Black Hawk are incompatible with the cars and motor coaches that travel through the city.

Hoffman went on to state that the city didn’t want to find out what would happen if bikes and cars continued to share the roads in Black Hawk (paraphrasing here) and that they didn’t need to do a traffic study. It was a common sense solution. He made the claim that the streets had been designed for horse and buggy and were narrow and curvy.


State Highway 279, Black Hawk

Then he cited other places where bikes are prohibited, including US 6 through Clear Creek Canyon, which is closed to bikes because of a series of tunnels. He also stated that it was impossible to find an alternate route for bikes through Black Hawk that they would literally have to "move mountains" which would be costly and not practical. Hoffman also pointed out that Black Hawk limits the time deliveries can be made within city limits and that there is a time restriction on semis passing through the city.



He concluded by asking if there would really be a controversy if the ban had been on skateboards instead of bikes.

The committee had a few questions for Hoffman. He basically reiterated the same rhetoric about safety and the narrowness of the roads.

My quick take on Hoffman's points: 1) there is more danger for cyclists to walk their bikes along Black Hawk's narrow roads than to ride them, a point Dan Grunig later articulated very well. 2) By leaving the decision to local municipalities you give one community the power to cut other communities off from through bicycle traffic. For that reason alone they should not be allowed so much power. 3) If the streets were designed for horse and buggy, then the modern vehicle best suited for the roads in Black Hawk would be the bicycle. The problem in Black Hawk is a car (and motor coach) problem, not a bike problem. 4) There are other places in Colorado and around the nation where bikes are prohibited for safety reasons such as US 6 through Clear Creek Canyon, but HB 1092 does not prohibit local governments from closing a road to bikes. It only mandates that they justify the decision to do so with a study and provide an alternate route. 5) By lumping bikes with skateboards Hoffman was attempting to move the perception away from bikes as vehicles and put them in a category with "toys". Given that he was speaking to a room full of…well, shall we say, all of a certain party, it was a sly tactic.

After Hoffman Peg Ackerman testified in record time that the County Sheriffs of Colorado opposed the bill and though the local authorities were best able to determine if a road is safe for bicycles thank you. While I agree on that point I also think they should justify the closure and provide an alternative.

Mark Radke of the Colorado Municipal League rounded out the opposition stating this was simply a local control issue and that the response to the ban was a gross overreaction. He concluded by saying the CML and its affiliates had been promoting cycling around the state.

Then the ball was in our court. Chris Satriano spoke first, and briefly and emphasized that the bill was a good common ground for the bike vs. car debate. Then it was my turn. I spoke briefly and somewhat nervously about being a bicycle commuter and relying the freedom to move through five municipalities between my house and my job. Andy wanted my focus on this aspect and we talked about a couple of other view points I could elaborate on, but of course under scrutiny my brain tends to vaporize and I got a little stuck.

It was okay though because Dan Grunig, the Executive Director of Bicycle Colorado batted us all in with his well delivered testimony and rapid fire and concise responses to the questioning that followed.

In the end I think it came down to an issue of local rule. One committee member in particular said even though she agreed with the bill to an extent, she still felt it was best left to the communities to decide.

The bill could be resurrected. At the very least it can make its rounds next session in another form. It's not looking good.

For me it was a good experience. If I am ever given the opportunity to testify on a bill in the future I'll know what to expect and I can prepare more effectively. I met a couple of good people in the bike industry and learned a bit about state government in the process.

I have ideas and schemes running through my head. I am more motivated to increase my knowledge base in advocacy, and oddly in state government, and I am starting to build up experience where I want it. We'll see where the white line takes me from here.

Thursday, February 17

Flopping Like a Fish

I'm going to do a more in depth write up later, but for now the bullet points:

There were three that testified for the bill, myself, Chris Satriano of Midnight Sun Inc. (makers of a bike safety light) and Dan Grunig Executive Director of Bicycle Colorado. Of course Andy (Kerr) was presenting the bill and he spoke as well.

HB 1092 (the Open Roads Act) was motioned to move back to the floor of the House with favorable recommendation and that vote failed, but a close vote.

Then it was motioned to move the bill to another committee. I forget exactly which one. That motion failed.

Then it was motioned to table the bill indefinitely. That motion failed.

The bill is in limbo. From what I understand the Chairman of the Committee can bring the bill back to vote again, but he voted against the bill initially. There was one committee member that was absent who was reported to support the bill and his vote would have made a difference. The likelihood of the bill coming back for another vote is slim, but still possible. It's kinda like a fish out of water. If someone throws it back in it can swim again, but otherwise it will eventually die.

More to come...

Wednesday, February 16

Black Hawk, Colorado: Welcome, But Leave the Bike at the Door

Black Hawk. Bike Ban.

They sort of go together these days. The Black Hawk ban of riding bicycles on public roads within city limits has spawned a lot of press, mostly negative, since its going into effect this past year.

Oddly, I have seriously failed to address the matter here on the Pavement's Edge. "What?!" You scream incredulously. It's true. I live a mere 27 miles and change from the well known casino town and I've just avoided chiming in on it because I have felt like the ban hasn't really affected me directly, though it most definitely affects one item on my cycling tick list: Ride the Peak-to-Peak Highway.

Before I get too far along in my rant to come, let me explain that I am anti-gambling. This traditional value I hold dear is most definitely going to bias my opinion about the entire matter.

Anyway, Black Hawk (pop. 118 in 2000) deemed it necessary to ban riding a bicycle within city limits on public roads for the welfare and safety of cyclists. Of course they failed to take a few things into consideration. First, walking a bike along a public highway pushing a bike is far more dangerous than riding the @#$%! bike. Second, let's just be frank, it's not about "protecting" cyclists. It's about the money. I'm sure some bigwig involved in Black Hawk's illustrious gambling industry got hung up behind a cyclist and stormed into Boss Hogg's office demanding the city ban all bikes from roads. Boss Hogg, being the fine upstanding crooked politician he is decides its best to keep the guy with deep pockets happy and screw those @#$%! cyclists. They’re just @#$%! liberal hippies from Boulder who are always pushing for tax reform.

But of course they can’t come out and say it that way. So Roscoe P. Coltrane comes up with this idea that the purpose of the ban can be to ensure the "safety of the cyclists on the dangerous narrow roads in town." Yeah, that'll work!

Of course what makes roads unsafe? Not bikes. CARS! @#$%! Cars!!! If only bikes were on the road there would be no such thing as a rollover crash, the jaws of life or flight for life. Plain and simple. So Black Hawk took a car problem and solved it by banning bicycles.

But of course this gets us back to the point that a person walking a bike along a road has a wider profile than a person riding a bike. They're going to be moving slower and have less control of the bike, so in effect, forcing cyclists to get off their bikes and walk is increasing the danger to cyclists.

Maybe the Black Hawks thought if they banned people riding bikes in town it would eventually dissuade cyclists from even coming within 20 miles of town. Well, not so much. Black Hawk is situated between the Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway and the Central City Parkway. CCP allows better access to the PTP from Idaho Springs as the southern terminus of the PTP kinda peters out into no-man's land. On one side you have Highway 6 (yeah, the same one) which is Clear Creek Canyon and already off limits to bikes (truly a safety concern with all the shuttle bus traffic full of gamblers) and the only other option is US 40 over Floyd Hill along I-70. If you've never seen Floyd Hill just imagine the worst climb in your state and times that by three. In a car.

So the best option for those wanting to ride the PTP and perhaps string it together with the nearby Mount Evans Scenic Byway is through Idaho Springs and over the Central City Pakrway. Of course cycling is prohibited on the CCP just outside of Central City proper. Seems like there is a pattern. And it's not three lemons. Or is it.

An interesting note about Gilpin County (where Black Hawk is located): when you peruse the handy dandy Trails Illustrated map for the area (Central City-Rollins Pass) you see a lot of little bike icons along the roads through the national forest to the north and west of Central City (county seat) and Black Hawk (partner in crime). So you decide you’re going to head up into the high foothills to do some mountain biking (or hiking, or skiing, or bird watching) and when you turn on Apex Road you see a bunch of signs that inform you that parking along county roads is prohibited. You drive further and see more signs. After you totally fail to find a trailhead you wonder where the access to the public land is. Yeah, they don’t want that either.

There is a small treasure of forested 10,000 foot peaks immediately east of the James Peak Wilderness Area. Unfortunately there is little to no access. But of course if you continue on up the rough and rocky road you eventually wind up in Elk Park. It is a nice little alpine meadow with amazing views of James Peak and the surrounding mountains along the Continental Divide and it provides a small amount of safe public access to the area. Wow, I love it up there!

I wonder how the residents truly feel about mountain bikers in the national forest near their land? I think I can guess.

What it all boils down to, as I stated recently in a post is: "You're inhibiting my God-given right to go anywhere I want as fast as I am comfortable going and I don't like it," and in the case of whomever got this ugly ball rolling in Black Hawk: "And I have the money, power and influence to get rid of you."

So it all boils down to a strong sense of selfish entitlement. My road. My rights. I pay taxes. Blah, blah, blah.

Dodging Minivans

I'm not playing games. When I go out on the road on my bike I am not playing games. I'm not there to intimidate anyone, to prove anything or to make any kind of statement. I use this blog to make my statements and to try and logically (Ha!) hash out the issues related to riding on the road. But when I strip it all down I am on the bike because I need to be on the bike going from point A to point C.

So when moto-fascists decide to play games I kinda get pissed off. When I'm abiding by the rules of the road and minding my own business, not inhibiting anyone from their travels, I expect the same treatment. I expect some common courtesy and a bit of consideration for the difference in my mass and the mass of the behemoth that the moto-fascists propel around with only the merest tap of their foot.

This morning I was stopped at Illinoising and 19th Street in Golden, on the south edge of Mines' campus, waiting for the light to change. In the past I've oriented myself over the left-most sensor to allow someone wanting to make a right turn on red to get past me. But after too many close calls from MFers (moto-facsists) turning too tightly left onto campus from east bound 19th I've decided its just not worth scuffing the paint on my bike, so recently I've moved to the center of the lane over the central sensor. This blocks anyone behind me from making a right on red, but I'm still within the bounds of the law and the close calls are not so close.

Today was a little different. I was situated just behind the white line and directly over the central sensor waiting patiently for the light to change. I saw the 19th signal turn yellow and I cocked a pedal up to get ready to take off. Then one guy tried to slip through. A Mines student in a minivan ran the red light not only cutting into the lane I was occupying, but cutting into it so far I could reach out and touch his van from where I stood astride the Cannonball. How do I know this? Because as he passed I reached out and smacked his back drivers' side window as hard as I could.

The light was already green, so with stinging hand I pedaled across 19th and continued slowly south on Illinoising. Why slowly? I was hoping in his self-righteous outrage he would drive by and call me on smacking his car. He didn't.

If I were childless and single I probably would have made a quick u-turn and chased him down to give him down the road. But y'know, it's just not worth it.

But like I said, I'm not playing games out there. If someone stepped on your foot on the sidewalk you'd yell "Hey!" Unfortunately when moto-fascists cut it too close or almost run you down there is typically little you can do in the way of calling them out publicly. I wanted that opportunity today and because Mr. Soccermom was apparently on his way to a fire I didn’t get it.

Maybe when I smacked his car he realized the error of his ways and immediately repented of his traffic sins. I'm not counting on it.

I know some would think what I did was not the smartest thing a person on a bike could do. What if he turned around and came back? What if he ran me down? What if someone saw me do it?

Well, to answer all three, what if next time he cut even closer and I just let it happen? What if I didn’t do anything to protect my personal space on the road? Would things get better? Or would moto-fascists take more liberties with my safety?

I know, I may have pissed that guy off. I may have caused him to hate cyclists and he may harass someone else. But I believe people need to be called out on their unsafe and inconsiderate behavior. We can’t tolerate rampant harassment on the roads. This is how we got to the point of "road rage" being a common phrase in our language.

Any suggestions on what I could have done better to call this guy out without inciting anti-cycling rage?

Tuesday, February 15

Deconstructing Common Anti-Cyclist Sentiments #1

Anti-cycling Sentiment #1

"They're always riding three abreast and blocking the lane. Its not safe to pass. If they rode single file blah, blah, blah."

The other day I was riding to work along the Clear Creek Trail, a multi-use path that strings together Denver, Wheat Ridge, Arvada and Golden. I rounded a bend in a wooded area and saw three elderly pedestrians walking abreast with their backs to me. I approached slowly, hoping they would notice so I wouldn’t have to decide on "On your left" or "On your right," but they didn't. I slowed to a crawl and called out "Excuse me". The middle walker stepped to the side, leaving a gap between the other two who slowed and meandered in confusion. The middle one said, with just a tinge of exasperation, "It's another cyclist."

Excuse me?! Sorry, no matter how much of the trail I decide to take up on my way to work, I'm still only taking up as much as any other single user. They were taking up the whole trail, oblivious to any other user.

I understand that once you’re older the prospect of being struck by a cyclist while out getting your morning exercise could be stressful. That's specifically why I didn’t blaze by on the edge of the trail in righteous anger. In courtesy I slowed down, called out and waited until they had time to make way. And I was greeted with disdain.

I have a feeling that Ms. Exasperation may also be of the ilk that would complain when cyclists ride side by side on the road, "prohibiting" her from passing safely. I'd love to check her wheel well and undercarriage for mangled body parts and bicycle components.

I myself become exasperated when cyclists ride side by side or three or more abreast especially when they could ride on the shoulder or when they're in no hurry to get on down the road. And when cyclists take up the whole MUP it's just as annoying for other cyclists as it is for pedestrians, equestrians and aviators.

But why does Ms. Exasperation feel as if it is okay for her and her cronies to take up the whole path, but for another user to come along and break up their party is detestable? I imagine it is a strong sense of selfish entitlement that breeds that attitude. And that is the underlying foundation of the sentiment that "it's so unsafe" to pass cyclists who are not riding single file. It's not so much that motorists are scared to death to pass in a curve or against the double yellow line; because any time it suits them to do so they go ahead and do it. I think it's more "You're inhibiting my God-given right to go anywhere I want as fast as I am comfortable going and I don't like it." Of course to express their thoughts that way would reduce their credibility, so they have to craft this argument that cyclists are creating a situation that endangers everyone involved. In fact, the car is the most dangerous element in the equation, with its gargantuan weight and potential for deadly speed. A bike really does not threaten anything. How can it?

The way most motorists pass a cyclist who is alone, or a group that's riding single file, is typically unsafe. Why do motorists so blatantly disregard the safety of cyclists (and other non-motorized users of the roads) and try to pin the blame on the other users? Why won’t they accept their commensurate level of responsibility? The answer: a strong sense of selfish entitlement. My road. My rights. I pay taxes. Blah, blah, blah.

It doesn't matter if cyclists ride single file. The moto-fascists just come up with some other responsibility-shifting argument about why no one else is entitled to the roads. If we ride single file the roads are too dangerous. If we ride in dedicated bike lanes or on segregated paths too much money has gone into developing that infrastructure. The only right answer for moto-fascists is "no bikes." Or at least nothing that costs motorists anything. Again, the want of something for nothing. I want to use the road, but on my terms alone.

Presence and Essence: Valor Over Discretion?

Prior to moving to Colorado the decision to ride my bike on the road was ultimately the decision between riding a bike and driving a car. Where we lived in Kentucky there were no off-street bicycle facilities and painfully few sidewalks even if I had been so craven as to ride on them. But even back then I realized that a greater presence of cyclists on the road meant better awareness and more safety for all.

Unfortunately back then, establishing a greater cycling presence just meant riding more myself. There were few who rode for other than court mandated reasons. The Denver area has a great cycling presence on the roads, but it obviously could be greater. We could convert scads to cycling and take over the streets. Of course, the catch 22 is that for more to ride, the streets would have to be safer for a greater cross section of riders. I understand that not everyone is comfortable riding in heavy traffic. I really don’t prefer it myself. I like my quiet rides through No-Man's Land.

And while riding through the empty and peaceful space between I-70 and the Coors industrial scab I have plenty of time to ponder the roads and whether I should be ashamed for denying them my cycling essence. For the benefit of my fellow cyclists should I be taking a higher profile route? Should I be out there, advocating with my presence and essence, on the more highly traveled roads? Should I be the example to motorists and cyclists alike? There IS safety in numbers, and I am diminishing the numbers by skulking along on the Clear Creek Trail; out of sight, out of mind.

So have I conceded the field to cars? Have I thrown in the towel and given up my space on the road so more SUVs can trammel cyclists at will?

Discretion is the better part of valor they say. And sometimes it is better to lay low and regroup. I had some bad experiences traveling Ridge Road and I decided for all involved it was best if I stayed away. I was not being the good example that I should have been. And the motorists were provoking me. That was apparent. It was not going to come to a happy conclusion in clover spackled fields with the sun shining and birds singing. We were approaching darkest post-apocalyptia on the roads. I was ready to start carrying items with which to defend myself against the impending confrontation.

But what of the rest of my road routes? They're typically lighter in traffic and I've experienced a fraction of the hostility that flies about on Ridge Road. I guess the biggest reason I've avoided Applewood and Denver West has been because the surface conditions have been painfully unforgiving the past few weeks. Applewood is all side streets (and thus irrelevant in this argument) and Denver West is the jurisdiction of Lakewood. Lakewood does not maintain the streets in Denver West satisfactorily and I refuse to ride on the horrid mess that it becomes.

I think I am exercising prudence these days. I wish I could say it didn’t matter, and that on principle alone I would return to the shortest and most expedient route to and from work. One iteration of commuting on Ridge Road was the result of me deciding I had as much right to ride on that road as the moto-fascist Mad Maxian fiends that tried to dominate it. But the final analysis is that no matter what my principles: when the eventual convergence of fender and flesh occurs I will lose and lose big.

Cyclists should be able to enjoy the same rights as motorists and travel on the roads that are most expedient for them. After all, all destinations in our universe are along roads and because of that incomprehensible simplicity the most expedient route between two points is typically going to be on roads, not MUPS, not single track trails, not the long way along the CCT and the Highway 6 Path. While these routes are peaceful, even serene and offer the traveler a lower heart rate and less stress-related weight gain, they are not the best choice every time. On those days I need to swing by the store on the way to work I have no choice, I must take to the roads. At least I'm comfortable doing so. Many are not. So I'll try to make a conscious effort to add my essence to the meager pool that exists on the Pavement's Edge in my community. I will, when prudent, make my presence and essence known.

Monday, February 14

Roll Out the Red Carpet: We'll Leave Tire Marks

Grammys. Let's hash it out. I attended the Grammys for the sole purpose of reporting back to my minions…er, Dear Readers. The Red Carpet was red, Mick Jagger is old, and Jewel is pregnant. Sob.

I really, really liked Cee Lo Green (Best Urban/Alternative Performance) and Gwyneth Paltrow's performance of the Song Also Known As "Forget You." I think Cee Lo's Elton John inspired costume might have been the single best visual element of the entire show. I love the song, especially the clean version. The vocals and the accompaniment are stellar. If I were younger and still single I would probably identify very well with the lyrics (both versions) as well. Gwyneth's Glee version is very good, so to hear both of them performing the song together was a special treat.

I could have lived my entire life without having saw Lady Gaga's (Biggest Loser) "Born This Way" debacle. This is progress? And I hope Madonna is ramping up the lawsuit against Gaga for stealing her image. It's one thing to pay homage to your heroes. It's another to blatantly steal their gimmick. I should know, I've resisted the urge to change my blog title to "Bike Snob DEN."

The highlight for me was Mumford & Sons followed by the Avett Brothers and then I left the room for Dylan's performance. Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge what the man has done for American music, I just happen to like covers of his songs better than the originals. Jimi Hendrix's rendidtion of All Along the Watchtower? Joan Baez's live version of Blowin' in the Wind? GNR's butchering of Knockin' on Heaven's Door? I just couldn't sit through a live Dylan performance. I'm probably not the newest Mumford & Sons fan, but I'm fairly green when it comes to their catalog. Gonna have to remedy that soon. On the other hand, I've been a HUGE Avett Brothers fan for at least the past year, and have been familiar with them for about four years. It was awesome to see them on the Grammys.

I'm not anti-Bieber (Prettiest Hair) in the strictest sense. I think the kid's got talent and I hope once his voice changes he will still be able to sing. I don’t relate well to the content of his songs, but I think as he grows up many more of us may learn to like him. Or not. Basically, I'm saying: Justin, if you’re going to keep getting popular, write some songs that people who aren’t twelve year old girls will like.

I'm not a fan of rap, so the yawns became oppressive during Eminem's performance and his Crazy Charles Manson-eyed acceptance speech (Best Rap Solo Performance, Best Rap Album, Most Righteous Anger). I don’t really like the guy. I can appreciate righteous outrage, but it seems to me that he should channel his rage into something constructive like blogging about cycling.

I was stoked to see Ray Lamontagne (the man's a GENIUS!) nominated for Song of the Year. Lady Antebellum's (Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Country Song, Best Country Album, Best in Show, Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, Best Gratuitous Use of the Word "Belgium" in a Feature Film, Best Latin Jazz Album, Best Use of the Word "Antebellum" in Conjunction with the Word "Lady") domination of all things Grammy snubbed that.

Truthfully, I think the Avett Brothers should have been the conquering hoard. They rock! I was glad to see them perform even though my wife is not as big a fan as I am. I vow that next time they play Red Rocks I'll be there even if I have to sell my plasma, the plasma of random strangers and a few organs. I don’t see why they couldn't have swept the field. They truly are the best at just about everything.

We were stoked Train's Hey Soul Sister won Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals. It's the Bean's favorite song. We sing it a lot, and at high volumes, despite low talent (Bean sings good).

And finally, who the HECK is Arcade Fire?! Well, at least they had the good sense to have bicycles on stage. They can't be all bad. I might have to queue up some Mumford & Sons and Arcade Fire on the MP3 player for a future commute.

And there you have it, my completely useless contribution to the amount of bandwidth dedicated to the Grammys today.

AND, one last award: CGinAKR wins the Movie Trivia Question from Friday's "Absolutely Nothing to Do With Cycling" Post

She guessed Mad Max which was as close as anybody else got. Anybody? The correct answer is The Road Warrior. The quote is from the opening sequence.

So here is your award:

CGinAKR

But seriously, thanks for playing. I always hate playing against myself.

Monday Propaganda

I opted to ride this morning when I went out to start my new Hummer and…well, I don’t actually have a new Hummer, so there was really only one option. For you, Dear Readers I any living a life of Hummer-deprivation. It's a good thing though, because there was enough ice lurking about that I may have crashed the ole Humm-dinger. The bike ride was nice, except for the Meteorological Propaganda Fiends inaccurate reporting of the weather. I mean, c'mon, Denver is not so far from Arvada!

"40°F" was displayed at the bottom of my TV screen this morning. I dressed for 40°F. It was a bit nippy on the front stoop as I prepared to push off with the Cannonball. I muscled through the worst of it until my heart rate got up to "Rabbit." On the way up from my resting heart rate to max capacity I looked down and noticed I had forgotten to put on my leg band. Remember all that hoopla about not wearing a cycling costume and wearing my regular work clothes on my commute? Yeah, I did. I realized my mistake just after my newly lubed chain (and I promise, well wiped down afterward!) had "marked" my pantleg. Just adds character, right?

After dodging ice for about fifteen minutes I had a brief visit with Mr. Steve Casey. He again explained why my mode of dress just didn't seem adequate and why there was ice on the ground with temps supposedly so far above freezing. Grrr! Down with the MPFs!!!

The rest of my ride was a bit uneventful. I snapped a few photos of Illinoising Street through CSM campus to share with my beloved readers.


Illinoising Street looking south toward Mines' campus


Top of the hill


Illinoising south of Mines

Sunday, February 13

Obstinate Accumulated Precipitation

I like snow when it is falling from the sky, drifted against the front door or piled up deep and fresh awaiting skis, snowshoes, or my stubborn post-holing-edness.

When I stop liking snow is when it starts to get transparent and you can see the grossy, muddy ground or grimy asphalt underneath. I stop liking it when there are huge patches of dry (or sodden) ground interspersed by lumpy, unconsolidated, slushy, icy hunks of thawing snow.

Monday is not looking good. Despite 50s and 60s yesterday and today the thawing just can't happen fast enough. It's going to be a messy ride for sure. Oh well.

I had a great idea for a post, and now I can't remember what it was. For now: remember that smart people ride bikes.

Saturday, February 12

Longtail Dreaming

I took my birthday girl to Salvagetti's today. I'd love to say that for her birthday I bought her the Kona Ute. I wanted her to see it up close and personal and I think it scared her.

We looked at the 18" and to her it seemed a bit overwhelming. Of course when the weather gets a bit better we'll go back and she can take a test ride. Scott assured her that if she didn't like the Ute they could come up with a donor bike and Xtracycle kit that would be comparable that she would be happy with for about the same price.

With our magical bag of tax loot we're going to get her a longtail and convert the Cannonball with an Xtracycle upgrade. As the days tick away I grow more and more excited about the prospects. We'll not put Gump out to pasture just yet, but having the utility bikes will make our lives interesting in so many ways. To paraphrase a recent twitter post I saw: "Having the longtails will make me want to find reasons to use them."

The kids seem to like the Ute too, and I think Mandy actually likes it, but the size of the thing scares her. I love all 5 feet and 2 inches of her, and I understand her apprehension, but I believe once she takes one for a spin she'll love it.

With birthday money I also picked up three different sock liners for commuting and I found some glove liners. I should have complete digital security next cold snap. Look for some comparative reviews sometime this winter. For you, dear readers, will I brave popsicle toes to get to the bottom of that age old question: which is better - silk, merino wool or polypro sock liners?

Friday, February 11

Ramming Speed Friday: Slushy Side Streets Edition

CGinAKR, I would kill for a blast from your eye-healing lazer! I hardly made it home tonight due to extreme drying of the contact lenses.

Yeah, I continue to have eyewear issues. I started out with the @#$%! motorcycle goggles. I should just throw them out. I stopped just outside of Golden to switch to my wraparound sunglasses because the @#$%! motorcycle goggles were fogged up, but the sun had set. Finally, just past the Wheat Ridge Rec Center my eyes were so dry I was having trouble seeing due to the glare from lights everywhere and the tint from the sunglasses. So I stopped and put on my ski goggles.

Why didn't I just start out with them, you might ask. Egad! I wasn't skiing! I would have looked like a moron. I know, I know...I left myself wide open on that one.

Anyway, I made it home in an hour, which considering the ice and slush lying in wait along my route was a pretty good time. When I ride the OBS on Ramming Speed Fridays I always have Powerman 5000 ringing in my brain. Y'know, it's the pounding music they play in Race Across the Sky 2010 when Levi Leipheimer is blasting across the flats of the Pipeline toward glorious, heroic victory.

Let me dream...

I bombed down Illinois this evening in hopes of seeing the Silver Whale again. I guess Mr. Merry Man had had enough of being inhibited by cycling traffic on the Mines campus. No show. And I was ready to joust with him.

Other than the side streets the conditions were slightly better than wretched. There was still a lot of ice and a lot of meltwater freezing even as I was gliding across it. The side streets were a mess of unreadable and alternately packed snow and slushy pitfalls. I had to laugh as I stopped cold in the middle of 46th and had to walk the bike onto more consolidated snowpack. Haha.

Hoping for better roads on Monday...

A Friday "Absolutely Nothing to Do With Cycling" Post

Name the movie:

"Without fuel, they were nothing. They built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear.

Men began to feed on men. On the roads it was a white line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice."


First with the correct answer gets their name posted on the blog in bold.

So does it bother you that people in Iraq are now demonstrating in the streets? Wait, didn’t we set up a democracy there? Democracy is the perfect form of government. What more do these people want? Oh…water, food and electricity. Those things aren't inherent in a democratic state.

So what exactly did we do while we were there? Why don’t the Iraqi citizens have adequate access to the basic needs of human survival? Why does a country so oil rich have problems affording enough food for its population?

Well, dear reader, I'm here to totally flub it up for you. I'm flying by the seat of my pants after all. I'm not a professional political analyst or even an amateur pundit. I just see what I see and make judgments based on the laws of nature that I've witnessed in my 37 years on the planet.

We spent how many years in Iraq? We're the most powerful economic, military and cultural entity on earth. What the blue blazes were we doing all that time? I mean, I understand we were getting blown up by IEDs and driving our humvees around a lot, but didn’t we have experts on hand to help those poor desert dwelling nomads put together some semblance of a civilization. For crying out loud! It’s the Fertile Crescent!

We're investing at least $18 billion in reconstruction in Iraq, and most likely we're well on our way to $100 billion. Some of those projects happen to be water treatment plants and such. And then we've obviously started to invest in OUR interests in Iraq. I mean, we do have interests in oil there, right? Who would argue that point? I can't find a decent breakdown of the dollars flowing there, and it may be because of my incompetent stirring of the interweb and not because those numbers aren’t there. He is a piece of flotsam that is interesting: http://investorshub.advfn.com/boards/read_msg.aspx?message_id=51965370

And then there are the parking lot vultures.

If the Iraqis aren't happy with all that we've done for them then maybe we should just take our stuff and leave. We don’t need friends like them anyway. What oil?! That was ours! We brought it with us! How dare you accuse us of stealing!

Anyway, the Middle East is a ready to blow. The US assumes they all want democracy so we'll continue to give them advice. Of course our advice is laced with subliminal messages saying "We need your oil. We need your oil. You WILL give us your oil" while we do the Jedi hand wave thing. Remember Watto? He was the Toydarian? Jedi Mind Tricks didn’t work on him. He was a desert dweller too. Jabba, he was a Hutt, a desert gangster. Jedi Mind Trick? Didn't work.

It might be time to get out of the sandbox and park the SUV for awhile.

Dodging Silver Backed Whales [Updated]

All is sunshine and rainbows, the OBS and I cruised in to work in record winter commuting time. I guess the "rest" was good for me. And despite the local news station's efforts to sweat me out, I made it.

I dressed for the reported 16°F but stopped 15 minutes into the ride to shed my sweater and fleece hat. Then as I passed out of Wheat Ridge (Thank Dawgs!) Mr. Steve Casey explained to me why I had been sweating under a sweater (do you see the irony?), a cotton tee and a long-sleeved polypro...27°F!

I grumbled a non-verbal curse under my breath toward meteorologists in general and slammed on the pedals as I moved into No Man's Land.

There was a lot of icy patches this morning. There was very little snow to plow over, but I definitely had to keep my speed in check as I wound between glassy humps. Who am I kidding...when I ride to Golden I poke along pretty slow. Its an elevation gain of about 700 feet. Tonight will be another edition of "Ramming Speed Fridays" as the joy of the impending weekend, the catastrophic loss of elevation and the reduced friction of the ice on the trail will allow me to ride home in about 30 seconds flat. Stay tuned.

But that's not my whole morning story Morning Glory. Oh no! There is more!

I opted to climb up to work via Illinois Street in lieu of the 13,000 ft Steep Climb Ahead that is The Six. I was pretty sure the ice would cause issues. So I took to the streets. Almost immediately I realized what complete imbeciles were using Illinois as a conduit for their stupidity this morning.

Was that too harsh? Tell me the truth. I can take it. I should tone it down a bit, huh?

So I took to the avenues. Almost immediately I realized what generous and thoughtful morons were using Illinois as a conduit for their homicidal stupidity this morning. I rode one block south from the CCT, and as I approached the stop sign I took the lane and slowed to a stop. And a Baby Boomer whale pulled up beside me in a silver sedan with Maryland plates.

I don’t know why coming from such a merry place he would think it okay to completely ignore traffic laws after he got East of the Mississippi, but he did. He was going to pull ahead and I gave him a Superbark. He stopped.

Then I proceeded to assert my dominance over inferior vehicular transportation by continuing on through the intersection as mandated by traffic code. But the Silver Backed Whale, being West of the Mississippi and out on the "Frontier" decided to mix it up and completely ignore all traffic laws and polite manners. What a rogue! What a dashing example of "Frontier" spirit! If he had been riding a horse it would have died from sheer depression. He gunned through the intersection and passed within millimeters of me on the snowy and icy road to continue up the steepness that is Illinois and onto the Mines campus. I hope he couldn't find a parking spot and had to walk. And was wearing dress shoes. And thin socks.

Good riddance!

Anyway, as I continued my crawl up Illinois my faith in higher education was restored as a Mines student gunned the engine in his SUV and barreled past me on the steepest part of the Illinois Ski Slope; again, within millimeters. He only reached the top of the hill about ten seconds ahead of me. I opted not to chase the guy down and give him a tongue lashing (with his own tongue of course).

The rest of the ride was pretty anticlimactic. Crawl, crawl, crawl, crawl. Open door, roll bike up to cube. Go back down to kiosk and get coffee. Sit down and compose new post as coffee cools.

BTW, how many more posts til I can go on a self-righteous rant again? We gotta be getting' close.

LATER

A recent Op-Ed in the Denver Business Journal proposed a startling alternative to the I-70 ski traffic cluster of problems. Neil Westergaard, the editor of the Journal, suggests restricting trucking traffic during peak recreational traffic times. What?!

He goes ahead and parries the obvious killing blow from the trucking lobbyists who would jab "Disrupting Commerce! Costing Consumers More! Profits down!" Westergaard points out that much of the cargo crawling toward the Divide isn't really time sensitive anyway. He prefaces that by explaining that much of the problem stems from trucks crawling up the long grades and having to continuously stop and start to put on and remove chains. Traffic just can't flow around the beached whales of commerce.

The solution sounds pretty viable. The peak times are Friday evenings, Saturday mornings and evenings and Sunday morning and evenings and the occasional Thursday or Monday thrown in on the random holiday weekend. As Westergaard states: its roughly 15 hours of the week, or about 9% of the time. I don’t think that's asking too much. It would give the truckers crossing the Divide more rest time, and we know they all need a little more shuteye. They could use that time to call and talk to loved ones so their hands are cell phone free while they navigate their behemoths through the mountains. The could resume their commerce driven treks east and west fully rested and all caught up on crucial communication.

The other options really aren’t viable. You can't cost-effectively widen I-70. If you've never driven west from Denver up to the Continental Divide let me explain it briefly. I-70 goes up a steep, deep, rocky gorge between 12-14,000 foot peaks. The weather varies drastically from that of the plains and once traffic snarls and/or the weather goes in the toilet there's nowhere to go. At one point in the canyon even bicycle traffic is relegated to the shoulder of the interstate (though reportedly there is a new paved bike path between the last exit east and Loveland).

Why not challenge the machine? Trucking is important, especially until we find a better solution than shipping stuff from everywhere to everywhere, but trucking shouldn't have top priority over all other uses. With careful, thoughtful and creative logistics we can keep the supply lines moving and no one will lose a single beach house in Maui.

The link for the article is found HERE, but you have to subscribe to read it online. Unfortunately to read the entire article for free you will have to find a copy of the most current Denver Business Journal laying around like I did.

Thursday, February 10

City Contrast

I just saw an awesome graphic entitled "city contrast"over at Walkable Dallas-Fort Worth and I had to share.

It describes the Lively City Vs. the Empty City. Think about big cities (or even small ones) you've visited and compare what you've seen.

Cities are inherently dense places, and dense places are not appropriate for low density (SOV) transportation. There is a reason cities experience traffic congestion: cars are everywhere! You can fit far more pedestrians within the CBD than you can fit (and park) automobiles.

But let's step outside the city for a moment. Does this make sense in a small town? In a town of say, 3,000 souls, does it make sense to incorporate transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to offset motor vehicle use?

Of course! In a town of 3,000 there should be no reason for a human being to get into a car for any reason other than to leave the town. Even in the lowest densities, 3,000 people won't occupy a huge amount of real estate. In fact, I'd wager a bunch of beans (literally) that any town in the US with a population in the neighborhood of 3,000 could be walked end to end in less than an hour.

But then I would also wager some beans that in many of them you'd be taking your life in your hands to do so because the other 2,999 people would be bombing past in their cars and the pedestrian infrastructure no longer exists as it did prior to WWII.

Think about movies that take place in small towns. What do the filmmakers typically portray? Pre-1950s architecture, sidewalks, street level shops with permeable walls facing the street, few parking lots, few cars, people walking, people interacting...a lively city.

Did you know that location scouts have a difficult time finding small towns in which to film?

Anyway, I wanted to share the graphic. Check out the original article if you have a chance.

I'm in Transportation Limbo

I'm scared.

Will I be able to do it? Will I need assistance? What will the trails be like? Will I fall? Will cars run me over? How will I stay warm?

I'm considering riding tomorrow. But it's been a week today since I commuted to work by bike. I've either carpooled or called in sick for five days. It seems like a long time...

The chain on the Cannonball has rusted. Sob.

So before I can ride I need to do some maintenance, both mechanical and mental. I need to step it back up. I am confident I can return to pre-illness levels within a fortnight. Gosh, I hope so!

Anyway, I haven’t decided about tomorrow yet. There's still a lot of snow on the ground and most certainly there will be ice in places. I've got plenty of time to get there in the morning and scout things out. The temps in the morning should be warmer. I'm riding.

There. Brain fixed. Got to apply some loving attention to the bike tonight. Tire pressure. Lube. Restock the survival pannier. Have Boone show me how to ride the bike again...

I need some two wheeled therapy. I've noticed as I've carpooled in warm cars all week that I've been grinning like an idiot as the landscape flashed by. But then again, I've not been driving. Speaking of which, the last time I rode with my family Mandy got behind the wheel. I asked if she wanted me to drive.

"Nah, I'd rather not listen to you go on about how bad everyone else is driving."

...

So I didn’t drive. On one of my rides in eons past I contemplated what would happen if I just "forgot" to renew my drivers license in 2013. Well, assuming the Mayan calendar is just a ruse. Other than writing the occasional check or getting on an airplane (snicker!) I really don't have a huge need for it. I could go to a state issued ID.

Nah, we're not there yet. But we're closer than most.

Wednesday, February 9

Gulp....Here I Go!

Big Paradigm Shift over at the Edge of the Pavement…I've just had enough. No, not on the blog itself but in my lifestyle.

Warning: since I've not been riding much lately this post will be less about cycling specifically, but as previously stated, I think it all relates. Also, this is going to be a long read and I promise at least five light-hearted posts to offset the effects of the doom-and-gloom to follow.

I've always been skeptical of the climate change chest thumpers. I remember hearing in science class how the Earth was moving toward another ice age twenty years ago. And up until recently I've still been harshly against the idea that humans can do enough to impact the climate of the planet. My views have slowly evolved from that to a new outlook which is more of an agnostic "I don't know if climate change is real, but let's pretend it is and err on the side of caution." Is junk food bad for you? Well, it doesn’t matter, carrots are better, so if you eat carrots you're going to be healthier regardless. More on food later.

This recent Grist article has kind of made me see it more along the lines of the Peak Oil issue and I see one thing very clearly: our climate change problems are going to go away when the oil runs out. It's that simple. We're not going to be able to sustain our levels of pollution when there aren't so many pollutants to fling into the skies and dump in the water.

Oh, we'll still have coal, we'll still have nuclear power plants and all the waste we've processed in the past century. We'll have increasingly leaky barrels of all kinds of good filth everywhere. But our ability to produce new poisons are going to be limited to soot from burned coal and wood, human and animal waste and diseased bodies. I hate to be that stark about it, but unless we seriously address our addiction things aren’t going to get better.

On a more positive note (bear with me) I have decided, and Mandy agreed (not a new idea for her) that we need to make a huge change in diet and lifestyle choices. We're stepping away from the processed food table and hopefully we can do it decisively and completely enough that we're not temped to go back anytime soon. I weighed myself yesterday and after my few short days of not being on the bike I weigh 198 pounds. At 5'9" that's just getting to be too much. I'm active. I ride my bike to work and back almost every day for crying out loud!

Hippocrates said: "Let Food Be Your Medicine and Medicine Be Your Food". When you look at what Corporate America has done to our food and our health care it is obvious that those who we have entrusted with our well-being violated that trust in the madness of greed. I, for one, am sick of it. And I know there are those who will start to argue in defense of our modern lifestyle and all its supposed benefits and to quell those arguments I say: Truth is one sided. I don’t need to hear the other side when I've seen overwhelming evidence in my life and documented so pervasively by those who would speak out against the corruption that is apparent that Big Business puts profit before health, safety and welfare. Our food and our medicine are poisons to us. They have caused us to be fat, stupid and lazy. And we defend the "American Way" wholeheartedly as we slurp soda and gobble burgers. I am chief sinner in this respect. I am tired of lending my strength to that which I wish to be free from. No more.

I used to be fit. I used to be active. I used to have energy and drive. I can feel the energy ebbing in me and I know it is not my age. I should have the physical power and stamina to attain my goals. My mind shouldn’t be as foggy as it is.

This revelation has come from recent months as I've read, viewed well regarded documentaries and as I've examined what I knew all along in my life but have been unable to verbalize and articulate in a meaningful way until recently. I've had so many "Ah-HA!" moments I've lost count. I've never really bought into the environmental movement, hippie-fied dogma or the leftwing liberal agenda. And I'm not giving in to all that now. I have always regarded myself as a realist. And it's funny because any time I've mentioned this to others I've been accused of being a pessimist. Could that be because from an optimistic point of view realism seems more negative? If you think the world is all sunshine and rainbows you probably don’t like it when people point to the storm clouds on the horizon.

Americans are dogged optimists in the face of impending doom. And on some levels that's admirable. But being a dogged optimist that refuses to admit that doom could be imminent is a bit blind and naïve. Just sayin'.

Conventional thinking goes like this:

You’re born into the best country on earth. You grow up with loving parents who want more for you than they had themselves as children. You are supposed to go to the "best" schools, get the "best" education. You should always be wearing nice clothes. You should have opportunities to be enriched as a child. You should have opportunity to go to museums, entertainment events, have access to the best digital devices, as much food and toys as you want. You should be safe from all physical harm to a fault. You should never be faced with tragedy or terror. And all of this should be within the context of you being a well-adjusted, attractive, talented child who makes mom and dad proud.

Let's stop there for a moment. Every statement I have made above is a piece of marketing that has been sold to us over the past few decades. Each item is believed to be TRUTH. And somehow we all can see the holes in all of those conventional beliefs, but we continue to believe them like some sort of demented religion.

Trials build character and prepare a child to face the world. We should not deprive our children of the opportunity to face real challenges, not some mockery of challenge out on the football field, but real challenges that make souls. Excessive comfort breeds complacency and apathy. There is nothing wrong with being cold in winter or having a grumbly tumbly between meals. Sometimes you get splinters in the real world and sometimes you fall down. Those experiences better prepare us to avoid more dangerous experiences in a real world. Grief is a natural part of life. When we buffer ourselves from hardship and hard work we rob us of our God given opportunities for health and well-being.

Conventional thinking continued:

You grow up presumably well adjusted. You've graduated with an acceptable GPA and test score. You go to an approved college. You accept the debt as part of your "American Dream" dues and you graduate in six (or seven, or eight) years and fail to get a good paying job. You struggle to pay the bills on your two cars and suburban house with a three car garage full of stuff that is not three cars. You participate in all kinds of requisite activities. Your kids all play sports, just like you did, you go to movies on date night, rent movies on Netflix, keep in touch with old friends and acquaintances on Facebook and you make an appearance at church every once in awhile. Or not.

You don't think too long or too hard about the big issues. Someone will find a solution to our energy problems. We're (The US) too big to fall. We've accomplished so much in such a short time. We're more advanced that ancient societies. We're more efficient. We've conquered most disease and hardship that our ancestors suffered through. Why worry about the future? It'll take car of itself. Right?

Why are we better? What proves that we've got it all figured out? All the great empires of antiquity failed. None persist. Some were amazingly advanced. Why can't we fail? What magic shield do we have that protects us from the same calamities of history. We have warning, in the media it seeps through. What would happen if SARS went airborne and global? What would happen if a few key economic pillars were to fail simultaneously? What if global warming is real?

Everything in America today is a mockery of something we have avoided in the natural environment. We drive miles to gyms for our health and we're still not healthy. We suck on entertainment for social sustenance and the society represented within popular entertainment is totally fictitious. We've crafted virtual social interaction because we've distanced ourselves geographically from each other. Our workplaces involve abstract ideas shifted around to appease those with no ability for abstract thought.

I said I wasn't a leftwing, extremist liberal. And neither am I an extremist rightwing "conservative." You can’t imagine how disgusted I am that the right calls itself "conservative." I don't go on these rants often, especially infringing on a small place in my life where I go to express my less serious side. But here it is. Its ALL related. My growing abhorrence of motorized vehicular transport is leading me down a path of clearer thinking. I've tried to keep my distance from the neo-hippie crowd for so long. And I imagine I will continue to do so from an political and religious standpoint. I can no longer in good conscious ignore the truth in much of the environmental movement. Our addiction to oil is clouding our judgment and decision making. Our abidance of Corporate lies and interests in our lives is destroying the dwindling inheritance and legacy we leave to our children. This is self evident.

I promise this blog won't turn into a nasty political soapbox, but I wanted to give a preface to where I'm coming from these days. I don't believe the evidence shows that we can continue business as usual indefinitely. But our policies, laws and cultural thinking support the notion that we can. I want my children to be healthy and to have a healthy respect for the world and not take for granted where we stand on this Earth.

Rant over. Don't think less of me if you disagree with my viewpoints. I promise I am not angry at you. I feel like no matter what the truth about all this is, that we've been enshrouded in such a cloud of uncertainty about the facts by so many who are only out for profit that the only way to weather all of this is to err on the side of caution. I'm going to ride my bike. I'm going to stop relying on fossil fuels for my food and my ability to provide for my family. It makes sense no matter what you believe about everything else.

Go ride your bike!