Monday, October 31

October Monthly Mileage

2011 so far: 4,480
October final tally: 408
Monthly average for 2011: 448
Estimated 2011 total: 5,376
Estimated 2011 savings so far: $2-3,000

I need 520 miles over the next two months to hit 5,000 miles for the year.

The reality is I probably won't get close to 448 the next couple of months. November is a notoriously low mileage month because of multiple holidays and such. I don't get much time off around Christmas, but I probably won't be padding any miles as winter settles over the lan'. But if I can't get 260-ish miles each in November and December I've got something terribly wrong with me.

4,480 miles equates to $2,240 saved based on the common 50¢ per mile estimate. Using the 81¢ Ken Kifer figure (difference between 93¢ for cars and 12¢ for bikes) I've saved $3,629.

Regardless of which figure is more accurate, I continue to save money by riding my bike which makes my family more resilient.

Monday Morning Musings

I forgot how great biketopia can be. Its amazing having the roads all to yourself. Its amazing to ride a fast pace, not because you're keyed up due to the traffic, but because the empty quiet ahead draws you on. Alas, the post-carbon apocalypse didn't come over the weekend. I rode in earlier than usual.

I am on a monthly shift rotation. Some months I'm on an early shift beginning at 7:30 and some months I don't have to be in until 9:00am. It seems like I've been on the 9am shift for a year. I was dreading going back to 7:30. It wasn't so bad...getting up at 5:30am.

6:55am. That's what time I rolled through the door. I truly am a morning person. But if I can't get up and get going early I lag. So 9am is terrible for me. This morning I was up and ready before 6:00. I had hoped to get out the door before 6:15 and was pleasantly surprised to discover that at a quarter til I was basically ready to go. 6:05 I was on the road. The temps were slightly warmer than last week at a balmy 40ºF.

Instead of trying to sort out the showering issue at work I opted to shower at home and it worked out fairly well. We'll see how that plays out over the next five weeks as they remodel the locker room downstairs.

I doubt I saw half a dozen cars on my route before I got to South Golden Road. And even then I had less than three overtake me before cutting over to 10th. Quiet. Biketopia for a moment.

While I lost the option of plowing up the top of South Table before work for awhile I think the tradeoff of having more peaceful morning commutes will be worth it.


Nov 18, 2010

Sunday, October 30

Nothing Happened in Denver Tonight



No, that is not a bearded man in a girl scout uniform. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT buy cookies from this man.

A few days ago a Denver bike shop did not post on facebook:

This Saturday, we are not putting on a Cross Race out here by the store. We didn't do it last year either. Don't bring your bike, helmet or costume to the store at 6pm. No Lemans start. No free Beer. No prizes. Just no fun in general.

And these people did not participate in a crazy cross race:









I positively will not be participating next year.

Also, in other non-news, 20 people were not arrested when Denver police did not hit them with pepper spray while they were not protesting.

Friday, October 28

Ramming Speed Friday: Antisocial, Anarchism and Animosity

Today I hate cars.

Today I realize biketopia will never occur until all cars are gone from the road.

Today I long for the post-carbon apocalypse. Bring it.

THIS is how I would like to deal with educating Moto-fascists.

You cannot make up traffic laws to suit the situation. Contrary to moto-fascist "wisdom" a cyclist does not have to ride on the right side of the white line. Especially when there is no while line. Cyclists do not have to pull over to allow cars to pass. And cutting a cyclist off and passing within mere inches of them while piloting your two ton gas-powered wheel chair IS reckless and dangerous whether you think so or not.

These are some of the gems I've heard in the past few weeks.

Oh! And driving is highly subsidized, so the reality of who pays taxes and who does not is irrelevant in the "discussion." Bikes reduce wear and tear and maintenance costs on roads while cars drive those costs up. Being a property "owner" I pay local taxes and sales taxes which maintain our local roads. I do not ride my bike on the interstates which is where your federal gas tax typically goes, and I ride on very few state highways which also benefit from the gas taxes.

And (here's where I begin preaching TO the MFers again) because a bike is significantly less impactive to the roads than a car I am reducing the cost to maintain all of our roads for everyone else by riding my bike instead of driving a car. You are welcome moto-fascists. You are welcome. Oh, and you can thank me for improving the air quality. You can thank me for cutting down on rush hour congestion, because even though you had to wait three seconds to pass me on the back road where you overtook me, you were not stuck behind my car which you would not have been able to pass. You can thank me for making the world a cleaner and better place for YOUR children. You can thank me for preserving the roads, conserving the supplies of oil and for making the streets safer.

So I assume your reckless behavior is your way of thanking me. Go ahead, blow your horns, yell at me, cut as close as you possibly can without hitting me. Make up lies in your head to justify your juvenile and deplorable behavior. Demonize me for choosing my mode of transportation. Make all kinds of baseless assumptions and enforce those fictitious laws you concocted in your primitive brains with reckless driving.

And I will pray for the post-carbon apocalypse daily. I'm ready for it. Are you?

Can I get an amen?

Speaking of Ramming Speed Friday, my inlaws got into town today. They made amazing time cutting across middle America. Hopefully me and Tommy don't get into too much two-wheeled trouble this time.

Thursday, October 27

Killing Balrogs

That's right I did!

It was a mean 22 degrees when I pedaled down our street this morning. There was snow. There was ice. And I cranked on into the fray.



Okay, I was slow. It took me an hour and ten minutes to do my normally 50-55 minute commute. I was a bit timid. But I needed to get out on less than summer surfaces. And that I did.

I nailed my layers. I didn't get too hot and I wasn't freezing for the first couple of miles. Traffic was mild (thankfully) and all the roads and paths had been satisfactorily cleared. I did have to take the lane in a few places where the shoulder, or the edge of the pavement, was still crusty.



The bummer is that when the temps climb all of this snow is going to melt and make for slop-slop-sloppy riding conditions. Alas...

But for now it's worth it:

Wednesday, October 26

Policies and Procedures

While my day started out on somewhat of a down note because I chose to carpool instead of facing the balrogs, things turned around soon after I got to work and I've been in an uncharacteristically good mood since.

Our director sent out an email at the beginning of the week reminding us of the closure policies for the county. It put me in a foul mood because I have disagreed with the existing policy (in our department) that if the building closes midday due to declining weather conditions that "essential" staff must remain.

Policy has been that essential staff in P&Z was the admin on duty and the planner assigned to the latest shift of the day. Since the latest shift ends at 5:30, that meant if the planner happened to be a bicycle commuter (i.e. ME), then in the depths of winter when the days are shortest he/she would be leaving in the midst of rush hour and in darkness as the temperatures dropped. On a day when the building closes due to inclement weather conditions could be particularly hazardous for "essential" staff.

I approached my boss (the one who called me "chicken" for not riding in this morning) and with the caveat that I was not asking for special treatment inquired whether I would be stuck at work if the situation should arise where I would be deemed "essential." He replied that the director had stated that no P&Z employee is "essential," which I'm sure many developers would agree with, and that I would not be expected to stay at work if everyone else got to go home due to bad weather.

Happy dance!

Later this afternoon Facilities announced that the locker room where I shower before work will be closed for FIVE weeks beginning October 31st. After a quick email to the Facilities help desk I found out that there is also a locker room with showers across the road in another county building. The nice lady from the help desk was impressed that I will be riding my bike to work next month.

Happy dance!

I know there is snow on the ground and that it will still be there in the morning. I will be riding. Call me crazy if you like, but I will be riding.

October Snowmama Snowbama Snowpocalypse

My wife was wide awake at 6am this morning. Growling. No snow day for her today. I called the snow hotline for work. Growled. No snow day for me today either. Boone was sitting bleary-eyed on the couch watching "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That" and when I told him to get dressed he whined: "I thought I didn't have to go to school today!" No snow day for Boone, no snow day for Lily. Snowmama!



On my ride home last night I decided I would carpool today. Plowing through the cold rain puddles I realized as the temps dropped into the teens overnight that the water would all freeze, and then snow would fall on top of it making for a terribly treacherous combination.

Instantly I realized being in a car would not necessarily be any safer than being on my bike, especially considering the fact that I can stick to car-free bike paths for the most part. But I resolved to put my life in the hands of a motorist this morning.

On one hand I am disappointed in myself that I consciously avoided riding in weather that I know I can handle. But on the other hand, I'm just not ready to face it. Ice, snow, frigid temps...the combination of the three, especially considering the 84 degree temperature the day before yesterday...sheesh!

The temperature didn't get down as low as they predicted (meteorologic-fascists!) so there was no underpinning of ice below the heavy, wet snow this morning. I did carpool. And once we got to work all of my coworkers expressed their relief that I "wasn't crazy" this morning. So from now on I'm going to be crazy. Oh, except my boss called me "chicken" for not riding. Yeah, can't let that stand. Of course I'm calling him on the eve of the next snowpocalypse to plan our commute in together. I know he has a bike.

Speaking of crazy...the prezident came into town yesterday. Any connections with his arrival and the snowpocalypse? Some have been calling this weather event "snowbama."

I think studded bike tires are going to become a priority. Time to call up Arvada Bike.

Tuesday, October 25

BSO Update

Ah yes, the BSO...its still there. Its slow going. The best thing I can say about it right now is that it would make a halfway decent insulating layer under a balaclava. My goal is to be able to completely forgo the balaclava.

Stop laughing! I'm serious.

Anyway, at this rate I'll have a "full" beard by the end of the Mayan calendar. Did Mayans have BSOs?

Anyway...anyway.

This morning my wife said she's worried about me. Usually I am giddy about the prospect of nasty winter weather. And she's right. I'm in some sort of funk related to the impending meteorological annihilation we're facing tonight. Most times when a snowpocalypse looms I face it like Fëanor against the balrogs [you're welcome, Tolkien geeks]. This past winter I pedaled into blizzard-like conditions with no fear.



So what's up? I've known for some time that winter was going to be rough. My mind hasn't healed from my crash on the railroad tracks. It's that simple. I don't want to re-injure my shoulder, or injure myself in some new way. My brain is dreading my next crash like tax day.

I could have forgotten about it altogether, but the past couple of weeks the shoulder has been hurting again. I'm not sure if I did something to it, it was the weather...whatever, it has reminded me I am mortal and that like Fëanor I can be slain by balrogs.



Speaking of tax day, another funkness that's been preying on my mind: politics. I'm hating. My punctuated attention span won't let me keep up with the Occupy movement. It's gone on beyond my temporal limits. I need a short and sweet revolution, not a long drawn out, slow moving, boring change of paradigm. I need something with guillotines. Heads a rollin'.

So I've gone back to monitoring world events and in the past week or so I only give the Occupy movement a cursory glance each day. Greece has become important and I check up on its condition each day. Peak oil is popping up in the strangest places, and that is both reaffirming (I'm not a conspiracy theorist after all!) and disturbing.

I briefly considered facebook suicide after reading of a couple of different bloggers have committed it and how it was terribly liberating. And then I remembered my original purpose for getting on facebook (I resisted as long as I could) and that was to share photos and life events with family on the opposite side of the continent. So I cleaned house, took out a lot of useless (read: capitalist propaganda) stuff and am scaling back.

Well, you got more than a BSO update in this one. There's really not much to update in that venue.

Monday, October 24

Ready or Not...

The October Snowpocalypse is imminent. Tomorrow night the meterological terrorists have predicted cold will settle over the land and flaky precipitation will fall and coat the earth in its icy goodness.

I'm not ready. I do not have studded tires. I do not have a Talus Outdoor Technologies ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava (though I dreamed I did the other night). I'm not ready to start slip sliding away, skating on skinny tires, going down in the snow, dodging snowflakes, dodging black ice, etc, etc, etc. Mentally I'm not ready. From the standpoint of a chronic gearhead: I'm not ready!

Indian Summer is fading fast and it is distinctly possible that on Wednesday there will be enough snow on the ground to interfere with my pedal clearance. Today I hauled clothes and food for a week on the Cannonball and on Wednesday I will be able to saddle up the Durty Smurf, The One, and go forth dodging snowflakes, ice pellets and freezing rain as needed.

Other than this acute slap in the face I think I AM ready for winter. Let's get it over with! Okay? Winter can be miserable with dark to dark commuting days, huge temperature fluctuations through out the day, black ice ambushes, frozen eye wear, numb digits and crazed coffee-drinking, texting, distracted drivers.

But winter can be amazing as well. Cooler temps are just more comfortable for me, a person who is a heat engine, powered by sugar and running hot most of the time. The winter landscape can be stunningly beautiful, devoid of crowds on the paths and in the parks and peaceful in ways unimaginable in the depths of summer. And there is a smug satisfaction to be the only cyclist on the road or trail at times. And its heartening to see other cyclists.

I promise I will not do another painful and contrived "Winter Hardship Commuter Challenge." I solemnly swear. I brought down icy apocalyptic destruction on myself for that blasphemy. Won't let it happen again.

I'll do my best to minimize the whining. I'm in this for better or for worse. This will be my second full winter bicycle commuting season. I got through last winter without losing any body parts to frostbite. I think I can pull it off again.


Dec 30, 2010

Friday, October 21

Ramming Speed Friday: Short and Sweet

No close calls at 50th and McIntyre tonight. But I blazed home like I had a moto-fascist on my tail. I felt a bit sluggish but I pulled off an 18.5 mph average.I was going to take the long way home and do some bonus MTBing as the fam was up at school watching a volleyball skirmish, but there was a clunk in my stem and I didn't want to bang it up any more than it already was (just needed some tightening).

This morning I spun around the top of South Table Mountain a couple laps just to stick it to the man. I was a bit late to work. My excuse was "I got lost" on the way to work, took that wrong turn at Albuquerque. I didn't need to use it anyway.

I've been crawling through One Less Car and have discovered some amazing new ideas. I'd never heard the term "psychogeography" before, but I'm certain I've been a psychogeographer for some time now.

I'm at 4,370 miles for the year. October is lagging a bit at just under 300 miles, but I'm confident I can get over 5,000 for the year.

Book Review: Two Wheels North

The events portrayed in the book Two Wheels North could have been possible. A quick consult of any edition of a Rand McNally atlas reveals the cities and geographic features described by Evelyn McDaniel Gibb are arranged in the order in which they appear in the book. The tale seems somewhat novel, but by the end you believe it truly happened.

Browsing the local library I came across the title Two Wheels North – Bicycling the West Coast in 1909 and was terribly intrigued. I flipped the unit over and on the back saw a black and white photo of two young men standing behind laden bicycles. I didn't bother reading the back cover synopsis. I just checked the book out.

Written by Evelyn McDaniel Gibb, the daughter of one of those two teenagers in the photo, the book is a sort of fictionalized biography of the author's father. Vic McDaniel and his best friend Ray Francisco strike out from Santa Rosa, California late in 1909 heading north over uncertain roads in a quest to reach the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, Washington over 1,000 miles away.

The story is told from Vic's point of view as the boys pedal their wheels north toward small town notoriety and a $25 prize offered by the local news paper if they succeed in reaching the expo before a predetermined date. "Two wheels" is not a reference to the construction of the bicycle itself, but to the lost usage of the phrase. A "wheel" in those days referred to an entire bicycle.

They face wilderness, heartbreaking mechanical failures, saddle sores and rough characters along the way as they experience a coming of age adventure in a time when the conveniences modern bicycle adventurers take for granted were hard to come by on a moment's notice.

Mrs. Gibb retells the story of her father's journey in a poignant, honest and humble manner. Its an amazing tale that follows the boys through a world most of us alive today have never seen, a world sparse on cars and paved roads, lacking a continuous network of connections between cities and still rich with adventure and pristine beauty.

I'd never heard of the book before finding it at the library, but despite its obscurity in the typical cycling bibliography this is a great read. It inspires you to think about where you could go, far and wide, on your bike.


Oregon State University Press

Thursday, October 20

You Will Be Assimilated

The inspiration for the following post came from various sources. The ideas are not uniquely my own, but I have synthesized and summarized my thoughts on the topic.

Bill Strickland, in The Quotable Cyclist, wrote:

"...the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created:  Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon."

Its not the bicycle or the cyclist alone that make this efficient machine. It's the melding of the two. Since the 19th century cyborgs have roamed the landscape going upon two wheels.


Natalia Goncharova, the cyclist, 1913

You could extend the point and say that automobiles are an advancement of the combination of man and machine, but I would argue to the contrary. The bicycle was designed to conform to the human body and become an extension of it, the car was designed to conform to the roadway and the human body fits inside. Over time the automobile has become armor for the person inside, a shell and a barrier against the world outside.

Cyborg (n) -- a living being whose powers are enhanced by computer implants or mechanical body parts. (Collins English Dictionary)

A bike has been built with the human body in mind. A bicycle greatly magnifies the power of the human body. My 10 mile commute would take too long on foot and it requires too much energy with other mechanical forms of transportation. Only the bicycle prosthesis allows an efficient method of locomotion.

The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion.  Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well.  ~Ivan Illich, Energy and Equity, 1974

The bicycle moves at a human speed, though magnified. The automobile moves a counterfeit speed. The car has robbed nature of a wealth of stored energy to cover the same distance you could cover under your own power for a fraction of the thermodynamic cost and with the best form of renewable energy available to us: human energy.

At its disposal, the unholy man-car melding, has more power than is necessary for most of its needs. It destroys the peace of the neighborhood. It pollutes the air, violates public space, terrorizes the inhabitants of the street and warps the perception of the organic part of its psyche. It is a tank, a gas powered wheelchair, a rigid exoskeleton encasing a weakened host, a waldo for mobility. The auto-sapien is an energy glutton and a fearsome predator.

Stewart Parker speaks through his character Frank Stock and says:

"'Christ on a bicycle,' Frank reflects: 'You can see that. You can't see him driving a Jaguar. Or an Avenger. Or a Sting-ray. A car is just a hard shell of aggression, for the soft urban mollusc to secrete itself in. It's a form of disguise. All its parts are hidden. No wonder they're using them as bombs. It's a logical development. A bicycle hides nothing and threatens nothing. It is what it does, its form is its function. An automobile is a weapon of war.'"


The bicycle was conceived by the human mind, and once built became and extension of that consciousness. It is a perfect cyborg, in analogy and in reality. It is a sensor organ for the mind, feeling the details of the road and the land in ways that the body alone could not. Topography becomes sensory input. The body feels the bumps the feet could feel if not clad in shoes.

Hemingway said: "It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle."

As technology advances it evolves with the man and bicycle into a more connected entity. The Sportiiiis heads up display is only a step away from direct man-computer-bike interfaces. The only barrier to complete cybernetic cohesion is the lack of a direct human-computer interface existing at this time. Once we bridge that gap the cyclists will soon after become a true cyborg.

Imagine bikes built to better maximize human power and provide electric assist that through technology can become a part of the organic consciousness that powers them.


Umberto Boccioni, Dynamism of a Cyclist, 1913

John Howard said: "The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine." But the idea of CYCLIST goes beyond that simple, yet powerful, statement. The bicycle cannot function independent of the mind that conceived it, and nothing in the living body of man can equal the simple magnification of power possible with the bicycle.

I'm not a transhumanist, though I am intrigued by the idea of direct human-comupter interface.

Wednesday, October 19

Occupy the Aftermath

Worst case scenario: Occupy Wall Street results in a post-apocalyptic Mad-Maxian world where only those wearing leather chaps, riding motorcycles and sporting mohawks will prevail, and the weak and timid will be ground underfoot.

Best case scenario: utopia.

Reality: somewhere in between. But closer to one than the other most likely.

So what do we do after the revolution? If Occupy Wall Street is a rousing success and can help us into a new era of socio-politico-economic thinking, if the movement can oust the robber barons from their glass towers...what then?

When we go beating our proverbial swords into the plowshares of our future, what will we be plowing? What new form will, or should, our new world look like? I'm talking fundamental change that creates strength where there was weakness, resilience where there was dangerous rigidity, hope where there was uncertainty and truth where there were lies.

We instinctively move toward sustainability. Sustainable methods are not some left-wing conspiracy to keep everyone in the cities, or in the country, or on the dole. No, sustainability is an innate survival instinct in us all. It has only been eclipsed and suppressed for so long by advertising propaganda and the subliminal capitalistic terrorism that surrounds us each day that we doubt our own inner wisdom and the natural sense God has blessed us all with.

Sustainability is about scale. Humans need to live in a human-scaled world. Human development should have followed the natural course it began with, that of centering around geographic and geologic regions that support human life and society. Kate Hormel writes: "...supporting the farmers who live near us means living within the local, or at least regional, productive capacity of your area." Carrying capacity. It's a terribly simple concept to understand. And at the same time no one seems to acknowledge that we are far exceeding our local carrying capacities.

What this means is instead of focusing on national or global growth, we as citizens of planet earth should be focusing on building (not growing) locally strong communities. Growth will come. That's a given. We need to build communities that can handle new organic growth and maintain healthy local economic activity (not necessarily indefinite GROWTH).

So what can we do? How can we re-conceptualize our world in a meaningful way? The measuring stick should always be that of a human scale. Corporations can exist, but they should remain localized, non-global, delving only into the affairs of the local, or at most regional, business they preside over. They should cease to have the same rights as living beings. Their power should be decimated down to only the scope of the individual business which they control.

Businesses should be owned by citizens of the community, not faceless CEOs in some distant glass tower with no local interests, no ties to the community and no regard for the rampant negative externalities committed against community and nature.

Laws should protect workers as well as employers. Even the most minimum of wages should allow a person the purchasing power to live within the community where they work. A day's work should provide wealth enough for a day's needs within the community.

The market WILL police itself if it is kept at a local level or on a regional level where people are bargaining with people, not faceless money shops. So we need to localize: our food, water supplies, utilities and energy needs...these things need to be under the control and oversight of the citizens who directly benefit or are harmed by the practices related to them.

"Human scaled" does not mean "rugged individualism." Mad Max is the rugged individual. And he is totally fantastical. Human scaled is community. "Human scaled" is a community that does not overextend its resources but which has enough human capital to make civilization work.

In the aftermath of Occupy Wall Street I hope we can have a widely held vision that can move us toward reasonable expectations and plans for our world. This is not about Left or Right, but about humanity and civility.

Tuesday, October 18

Balaclava to Work Day

I saw at least one other balaclava on my ride in this morning. Yeah folks, its that time of year again!

This morning as I crawled up the northeast corner of the easternmost arm of South Table I took in the stunning views over Applewood of the autumnal landscape. The crispness in the air just added to the ambiance.

I looped around the east side of the mesa, spooking a couple of herds of mule deer, and thoroughly enjoying the otherwise relative solitude up on top in the apocalyptic prairie landscape.

I'm trying to take advantage of the last few days of bonus mountain/prairie biking I'm going to be able to do for awhile. In November my schedule will be different and I won't have time (or daylight) before work to do more than the shortest of rides and in the evening I'm going to be racing daylight home for a few days until I'm back into dark to dark commutes.

My plan, at least for Leadville training, is to start doing more general but more intensive conditioning off the bike throughout the winter. I'll be commuting still, however, I'm not going to be pushing myself hard on my slickery commutes. I've had enough crashing this year. I'm gonna get a good set of studded tires and keep the bike upright through the shorter and more frozen days.

Monday, October 17

Minimum Speed Tolerated: Speeding Away From Biketopia

It seems most of us regard the posted speed limits as the minimum speed we will tolerate, as opposed to the maximum speed allowed. Yes, I'll freely admit that when I drive I get frustrated with people driving the posted speed limit or less. Or at least I used to. I find that after more than a year of full time transportation cycling I drive much more slowly than I did before.

My vigilant observation has been that most people exceed the posted speed limits. The posted limits are NOT suggested speeds. They are NOT the minimum acceptable speeds. The number on the speed limit sign does not guarantee a minimum speed. You do not have a right to go at least the posted number on the sign. Yet most of us act as though that is exactly the information conveyed on speed limit signs.


NOT a suggestion

Of course it's "socially acceptable" to drive five miles an hour over the speed limit, to buzz cyclists and pedestrians and to talk (on cellphones) and text while driving. Ironically, while most motorists take these acts lightly, or at least not as seriously as they should, in most places there are specific laws limiting or prohibiting them. Unfortunately, laws that are broken that endanger, but do not explicitly harm, vulnerable users (of the roadways) are rarely enforced and the perpetrators get away with atrocious behavior until said behavior crosses the line and someone gets seriously hurt of killed.

The underlying problem is not the behavior, but the implicit approval of the behavior through our attitudes. If we were to demand better enforcement as a society, if we were to speak out against unruly motorists, even as fellow motorists, then we might eventually turn the tides and change perceptions.

My eight year old go onto me for yelling at a moving car from our lawn for going too fast on our street. He didn't think my efforts would be fruitful, but evidence supports that if a person is yelled at by enough of their neighbors they will begin to feel social pressure to change their behaviors. My verbal "SLOW DOWN" campaign may not do much initially, but I hope that it will catch on with people around me and eventually people will start taking back the roads from scofflaw motorists (and cyclists, I've started to yell at cyclists who blatantly break traffic laws) and begin reshaping our public perception of what is acceptable behavior behind the wheel.

And there are plenty of reasons to slow down while driving motor vehicles. You save money, the planet and your potential victims.

I'll leave you with this passage quoted in Zack Furness' One Less Car:

"Mass motoring effects an absolute triumph of bourgeois ideology on the level of everyday life. It gives and supports in everyone the illusion that each individual can seek his or her own benefit at the expense of everyone else. Take the cruel and aggressive selfishness of the driver who at any moment is figuratively killing the 'others,' who appear merely as physical obstacles to his or her own speed. This aggressive and competitive selfishness marks the arrival of the universally bourgeois behaviour, and has come into being since driving has become commonplace."

--André Gorz (pen name of Gerhard Hirsch, a social philosopher and political ecologist)

Sunday, October 16

Bean and Bikepacking Seasons

It was short (Bean Commuting Season), but it could have been much shorter. Now that the nights are cooling off significantly Bean will be riding to the babysitter with a friend. Its not a terribly complicated arrangement, but suffice it to say, since we have the option of letting her ride when its cold and/or nasty we're going to take advantage of it.

So I took off the seat and stoker bar, though the bar can be put back on in a few seconds. I'll be commuting solo until either a significant warmup or Spring.

I'll miss riding with my Bean. She usually sings as I crank away against the wind and continuous positive grade. She's good company on a bike ride. Anyway...



I'm going to fix up the Sears Free Spirit city bike. It'll be a good errand runner, and a bike that we won't have to worry too much about. I'll put the extra trailer hitch on it and we can sling a pannier on it as well. Plus, I think both Mandy and I will be able to ride it with little adjustment between us. The Ute we can share, as long as we change the seat height for each rider, but the Cannonball is just too big for her. It's almost too big for me.

Also, having the FS rideable will give us a spare bike if we have a visitor. And if I need to run an errand with the armageddon buggy I can take the FS instead of the Xtracycle, which with the trailer ends up being about half a mile long.


After a run to Echter's for straw

I need to find a replacement fork for the OBS so Mandy has a MTB to ride too. It would be nice to get at least one good Saturday trail ride in before winter settles upon the land.

Speaking of which, I'm sort of itching to get out to Buffalo Creek. The One has been plying the mesas like a dream, in a matrix like Buffalo Creek I think it would fill my bones with such bliss I may never leave. I'd just ride around in the shadows of Green Mountain, Buffalo Peak and the Tarryalls until I fade into legend.

I guess its getting too late in the year for a family bikepacking trip. I put it off too long, mostly out of laziness. With an 8 year old and 4 year old it is very onerous to go camping sometimes. Its enjoyable, it just takes a lot of energy. The downfall of living in the Denver metro are is that there are few close camping options for easy family bikepacking jaunts. Free camping either involves significant elevation gain (less than 20 miles away near Idaho Springs) or significant distance (75+ miles in any direction). I frequently explore for options I'm currently unaware of, but at this time I know of nothing closer or easier to get to.

But in the spring, oh yeah, we're gonna take some trips. Maybe short, maybe to a pay camping site, but hopefully by next fall we'll be seasoned enough to venture further or higher in pursuit of bikepacking nirvana.

Oh, also, today is 299 days left until Leadville.

Saturday, October 15

Occupy Denver UPDATE

Tension rises in downtown Denver. This afternoon, after a march on the Federal Reserve Building in downtown protester's decided to occupy Broadway, which is basically Main Street Denver. Police met them with riot gear and in force.

A few minutes ago, about 6pm, the police forcibly moved protesters off the street and onto the sidewalk. Protesters, for the most part, did not push back, though there was a few tense moments and a lot of yelling. CBS4's Stan Bush was right in the middle of the pushback and we got to see on live news television the events unfolding.

Occupying protesters had been evicted from their camp in the park between Broadway and Lincoln, at the foot of the state capitol steps and between the capitol and the Denver's City and County Building.

In the early morning hours of October 14 the camp was dismantled and protestors told Lincoln Park had been closed indefinitely.

What is confusing is that in the past few minutes (prior 6:44pm) the police allowed protesters back in the street, but have just now moved them back onto the sidewalk. Needless to say, people are angry.

There will be a curfew at 11pm, when the park is supposed to be cleared, and reporters are speculating that time as the event horizon. Denver is getting a lot of attention. Only the events in New York has had greater confrontations in this movement in the US.

I'll tweet updates afterward as things progress...or devolve.

8:50pm UPDATE

Just before 7pm the news stations signed off until 10pm. Just as they were going off the air for three hours cops moved into the food tent on the sidewalk. Live internet feeds were hard to find, at least feeds that showed anything.

Just before 9pm we're still in regular programming.

Twitter noise has been hard to follow. Apparently protesters (some at least) left Lincoln Park and moved toward the 16th Street Mall. The cops stayed at Lincoln Park, so apparently the goal is to enforce the curfew in the park.

Free mall shuttle buses have been stopped in the mall. Doesn't sound like there have been any more clashes as of this time.

Sunday morning UPDATE

The twitter noise seems to have quietened a bit overnight. After the protesters moved off to the 16th Street Mall, it would seem, that they faded into the landscape. The ten o'clock news reported things that had been, had occurred, had already passed. Nothing was still going on. Apparently the curfew inspired no new tensions. Alas, I am dependent on twitter and the local news outlets for my feed at the moment.

The consensus seems to be that 24 people were arrested late yesterday and one for sexual misconduct (he allegedly groped a TV reporter) though it is almost impossible to confirm anything. I've seen claims that there were as many as 5,000 people marching in downtown yesterday and estimates as low as 1,200. One news station estimated 1-2,000 and I think that is probably as accurate a count as we're going to get.

Temperatures are forecasted to get as low as freezing overnight this week, with highs mostly in the 60Fs, with one day only getting to 55F. Will the protesters around the country, and the world, stand resolute against the change of the seasons? Will sleeping outside in adverse weather become too much for them?

There is a lot of momentum going. Even if it seems to have stalled in Denver last night. I think things will pick back up and start rolling fast again. Though it does seem as if the powers that be are doing their best to quell the momentum.

It seemed like I remember seeing some organized event this morning, but I can't find it now. More to come.

Thursday, October 13

Transition to Biketopia

"Transition from oil dependency to local resilience."
-- In Transition 1.0


I could continue ranting about my daily traffic encounters. I could relate the myriad traffic sins of various moto-fascists. I could ramble on about asinine things. But I don't wanna.

As I have evolved over the years from a crush stalker on my BMX to a transportational cyclist on a borrowed 10 speed to an urban college cyclist on a cheap mountain bike, then to an urban college cyclist on the Cannonball, to a roadie, to a full blown utility cyclist/full time commuter...so shall I evolve from a ADHD addled cyclo-blogger focused on what's wrong with the world to a laser focused cyclo-blogger leading the world to Biketopia.

Modern utility cycling is fundamentally representative of the Transition Movement. As a planner and a wanna-be Peak Oil cassandra I think it is time I fully embraced the Transition Movement and use it as a vehicle to carry me to Biketopia.

But let's face it, most of us are already in the midst of Transition. After the economic distress of 2008 we've all found ways to maximize our resources. We've all cut corners, conserved energy and money, we've gotten more creative in making our ways through life. What is important is that we realize what's going on, where our world is headed, and that we educate and motivate ourselves to become resilient as the world changes.

Instead of waiting to see what will happen, why not begin preparing for more austere times NOW? And we all wish we had more time, less stress and a healthier lifestyle. We can have those things.

For me the path began on a stepping stone book called Your Money or Your Life (Dominguez & Robin). Between the covers the authors talked about taking back control of your financial life, but they also introduced a concept called "voluntary simplicity." As I read the book and looked at our lifestyle I realized that without trying we were already halfway to voluntary simplicity. I discovered the same thing about our lifestyle in the context of Transition when I first came across this concept.

Both ideas, voluntary simplicity and transition, are about rearranging the way you think and the way your life is organized. You don't have to sell your house. Transition isn't so much about drastic and expensive changes, but about making the right decision, sustainable decisions, when you make decisions both great and small.

Living by the principles of Transition wouldn't necessarily entail going out today and replacing everything in your house for more ecofriendly versions. Selling your Hummer to buy a Prius isn't going to take you to Transition Nirvana instantaneously. But making the decision that once the Hummer needs to be replaced, or the opportunity arrives where you can responsibly make the transition from Hummer to Prius, you make the right decision.

Transition isn't about living a pauper's life. Transition is about living a full life with less complications, less ecological impact and more resilience. And it doesn't necessarily happen overnight.

Resilience. Yes, it's like it sounds. Its being strengthened against the storms of life, having a strong foundation in long term survival skills, being ready for anything, both physically, mentally and emotionally. Resilience is understanding the status quo is a sham and being prepared for when the curtain is pulled aside.

Choosing the bike as my primary mode of transportation has made me more resilient. I already know how I will fare when gas prices get too high or the supplies are too scarce. I already know how I will get groceries and how my kids will get to school. And if/when dark times come I will happily pedal on. I won't grieve the loss of my car. I won't mourn the "erosion" of civilization. I'll embrace the opportunity to remake my community into something better than it was before.

When I graduated college with my crisp B.A. in Geography with a dual specialization in Urban & Regional Planning and GIS I didn't know it, but I wanted to work in the Transition Movement. I wanted to help make better places. I wanted to help people find utopia in their hometowns. For me, utopia is Biketopia. For others it may not be Biketopia, but Biketopia is a good place to start. One thing I know for sure, there are no SUVs in utopia. Sorry Mr. 259-LVL.

"Cycle tracks will abound in utopia." --H.G. Wells

Wednesday, October 12

The Psychology of the Recreational Commute

I've called it the "mountain bike commute" the "prairie bike commute" and the "recreational commute."

Home is Point A. Work is Point B. The recreational, mountain bike, or prairie bike commute does NOT take a direct line between the two points.

Now why, Dear Reader, would a cyclo-blogger not take the most direct line between home and work, work and home? Well, like I say so very often: "too much work, not enough commute," and "love my commute, wish it were my job," and as I often text my wife after I reach the office: "Made it. Unfortunately."

When the weather, daylight savings time and my schedule fall into perfect alignment I like to deviate from the norm and step outside the line between Point A and Point B.

You may have noticed that I vary my normal commutes as well. I have four variations on my "normal" commutes. Basically I have two routes that make a sort of figure 8.





South Table Mountain is within the larger loop to the southwest. So you can see why it is such a tempting diversion when perched on knobby tires.

Sometimes I vary my commute out of boredom, sometimes I choose a combination because of weather or traffic. Sometimes I take the shortest route because I'm running late.
This has been a normal occurence for me since I've been in Colorado. Back when I was training for the Triple Bypass I did a lot of long rides before work. Though many of those rides involved the car once I gave up the car (after the TBP) I looked for routes I could hit between home and work. One time I rode 50 miles before work.

When we lived in Denver I once rode from our apartment there to the summit of Genesee Mountain and then back to work. I used to ride through Bear Creek Lake Park when we lived in Lakewood. I also rode through Red Rocks and mountain biked over Green Mountain. I have ridden Lookout Mountain before work. And a couple of times I rode Lookout Mtn on my mountain bike and descended Chimney Gulch and Apex Gulch. And of course recently I've been grinding down the mesas, North and South Table Mountains.

There are practical limits to what you can pull off on a recreational commute. And I know some people would avoid doing it for fear of injuring themselves or being late. I don't do anything crazy on non-commute rides, so there's really nothing different about mountain bike commutes and just mountain bike rides. As far as being on time, sometimes I let my boss know I might be late and just work a little later to make up the hours, other times I leave extra-early and make sure I have enough time to get to work on time.

It's satisfying to roll into work, dusty, tired and my mind blasted clean of any extraneous baggage.

I blog of this now, Oh Readers, because the days of the pre- or post-work fun rides are fading fast. Daylight is becoming a scarce commodity. Last night I left work and the sun was only a few degrees above the foothills. By the time I got home the sun had set. Soon I will be riding in the dark.

That first all daylight commute of the year, way back in the spring, was like a holiday for me, the perpetual commuter. The all-daylight season is almost over. The Laser will be burning bright so very soon.

Occupy Transition Working

I've been stoked to see twitter updates by the Post Carbon Institute saying they were giving out copies of The End of Growth to 99%ers and 1%ers. Going back to my previous post OccupyTransition, I think this is a very productive and intelligent approach to trying to help the protestors educate themselves and refine their demands into points that will make a real change in the world.

@PostCarbon twitter feed over a few days:

postcarbon just gave The End of Growth to an economist and he said he Totally agreed!

postcarbon just gave The End of Growth to a student $100k in debt

postcarbon just gave The End of Growth to Yell, gal who was pepper sprayed on #youtube

postcarbon
just gave The End of Growth to a teacher who can't get a job

postcarbon
just gave The End of Growth to a fossil-energy-is-infinite kid

postcarbon just gave The End of Growth to a army vet; works with NASA

postcarbon just gave The End of Growth to homeless academic; smart dude!

postcarbon gave The End of Growth to a #cityrepair #portland permaculturalist

postcarbon gave The End of Growth to ANOTHER economist; says we're right on!
postcarbon Tried to give End of Growth to a guy who says he's "in the top 1%"; politely declined.

postcarbon Just gave @naomiklein an edition of The End of Growth. She's impressed by @occupywallstnyc as much as I am

postcarbon SEMINAR AT 1PM - peak oil/peak everything 4beginners, #occupywallstreet by the red cube across street @occupywallst @occupywallst Free Book!

I came across this article and it seems to be saying exactly what I want to say in this post. If you support the movement, but can't physically show support then you should tweet or blog or something. There are things you can do.

Tuesday, October 11

A Beautiful Limitation

"At that moment I saw the bike
as an offering of limitations, a tool
to re-humanize the pace of touring.
And, with my 60 pounds of gear
loaded onto a 40-pound cargo bike,
there were plenty of limitations."


www.bikeleague.org/members/pdfs/american_bicyclist_july_aug10.pdf

Musician Ben Sollee called the bicycle a "beautiful limitation". Ben, a fellow Kentuckian, has toured with his cello using an Xtracycle. In fact, while reading about Ben's "Ditch the Van" tour I first discovered/realized what an Xtracycle was.

It's interesting how music and bicycling go hand in hand. The founder of Xtracycle, Kipchoge Spencer, is also a musician.

Some days I don't feel very inspired while riding my bike. It doesn't feel like a beautiful pursuit. And it does feel like a limitation. Those days are very seldom, and almost every time coincide with a physical malady or lethargy. Most other days I just want to ride. I don't want to stop, sit in a cubicle and grow stale before my next bike ride.

I like Ben's idea that the bike is a beautiful limitation and I embrace that idea. I love knowing I can ride my bike from my house deep into the foothills in a day's time, even though I can't do it every day, I like knowing I can. And I like knowing that if I ride deep into the foothills with some camping gear and stay over night I can wake up the next day and ride a similar distance. And I can do it again and again and again. And if I do that long enough I can reach any destination I would ever want to go to. And if I were to head out on such a grand adventure when I reached my ultimate destination I would know that I did it under my own power.

Its inspiring to see what other people do with bicycles, as I hope my own exploits are inspiring. If given the opportunity I would definitely participate in a bike moving party, where people with cargo bikes get together and help someone move across town. I'm not a musician, but if I were I'd be following in the footsteps of Mr. Sollee and also the Ginger Ninjas. As an aspiring photographer I see the bike as a wonderful platform from which to do urban photography and also wildlife photography. I'm not a drinker, but the bike powered pubs are an amazing idea. I'd love to see someone translate that to a non-alcoholic use.

The bike is a limitation to many in our society because we have been programmed to want convenience in every facet of life. All it takes is to finally realize your frustrations with the pace of things, and the greater-than-human-scale of life and to consciously choose to step back, slow down and limit yourself in a beautiful way.

I was pondering the idea of bike as a beautiful limitation as I rode to the grocery store a few nights ago. The store is about a mile from my house and all downhill...to get there. If you can see the implications of that then you are probably living a car-lite lifestyle. Anyway, I rode down in the dark. I have a fantastic light. Darkness is no barrier to ride for me. I cruised easily into the parking lot, dodged a few cars and coasted up to the bike rack out front. Within a few seconds I had the light in my pocket, the u-lock around the frame and was nearly inside the store. I got my sundries, paid and was back out on the bike and pedaling home in less than five minutes.

The whole trip probably took me about fifteen minutes. If I had taken the car it would have probably taken me the same amount of time once you factor in parking, walking across the parking lot, loading the car with stuff and then fighting traffic to get back home.

On the bike I have my secret shortcuts that I cannot use while driving...legally.

My daily commute takes longer than it would if I were in a car but only if there are no accidents or rush hour traffic on the main roads. I can race by stalled traffic on I-70 with a grin on my face.

Embracing the car-lite lifestyle has introduced me to many new ideas, the hugest of which is that I don't need all the crap that most people acquire to meet the minimum requirements necessary to meet everyone else's expectations. Riding a bike for transportation, instead of relying on a couple of thousand pounds of steel and gas powered by an internal combustion engine, is frighteningly liberating. And it requires less money, less headache and much more satisfaction.

So it takes a little thought to figure out how you'll get the new couch home...do you really need a new couch? It takes longer to get where you need to go, but if you weren't keen on going there in the first place (work, grocery store, doctor's office) then you can enjoy the journey that much more. The bicycle limits you sometimes just long enough that you discover there was no limitation in the first place, that you would have been limited by an accumulation of STUFF in your life that you truly do not need.

Is freedom having a lot of stuff to tie you down or having so little you can take it with you wherever you go?

I want a radical lifestyle change. I want to drop off the grid and make my own way without conforming to society's expectations. I have finally seen that as a realistic possibility because of the bike. As a younger dude I fantasized about it, but couldn't map it out satisfactorily. Now I can.

My holdup is I don't yet have the courage to drag my family into such a massive experiment. Maybe my wife will skim over this part and not realize that my mind is scheming to get us into a cabin in the woods somewhere. Glory be! We'll be hippies!

Using a bike for your transportation and cargo needs is a very liberating endeavor. Once you begin to see the possibilities its hard not to see just how far you can take it. I am free from convention, which is often flawed. I'm finding freedom from material possessions, though its a laborious process fighting against the currents of habit and deeply ingrained mores.

This journey has so far been a beautiful endeavor. I hope for the day when I have the freedom (of time) to use the bike to go far beyond what seems possible today. Climbing trip to the Tetons by bike? I think so. I'm already to that point in my mind, I just need to free my lifestyle to go along with it.

Monday, October 10

Klean Kanteen

Not so long ago Klean Kanteen declared FREEBIE FRIDAY and asked (on Facebook) if people used their bikes to commute. Then they asked people to tell why, or why not and there was a bunch of swag they were giving away, including a 27 oz. Klean Kanteen Classic and bottle cage for your bike.

I won a bottle and cage.



Klean Kanteen is the original BPA free (pre-BPA free fad) personal water bottle. They are made from food grade stainless steel with no resin or plastic coating on the inside. They're stainless steel, not aluminum which is toxic. They offer single-walled and insulated bottles. The single-walled bottles come in narrow and wide mouth versions and the insulated bottles are wide-mouthed.

My bottle came with a sports top. They also come with a leak-proof lid and the insulated bottles also have a cafe top. I want to get them for my whole family, and I want an insulated bottle for myself to keep water or coffee in during my winter commutes.

The insides (and outsides) are rounded making it harder for germs and bacteria to hide. Having no lining makes for taste free water. I washed it with warm soapy water before drinking out of it and there was no soapy taste which is a huge plus for me. Another reason for me to get an insulated bottle for my coffee and such. I've never been able to find a thermos that was washable and leak proof.

The only con I can see is that they are made in China. They claim they are "responsibly" made in China, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, because most companies don't bother to make the claim. But the fact that they're made overseas is drastically offset by the durability and the fact that they will last almost forever and if you end up destroying one they're recyclable.

These guys are like the Xtracycle of water containers, and I love that they like bikes a lot too.



In fact, it's stellar that they make bike bottle cages to fit their bottles. Browsing their website I discovered that they offer adapters for backcountry water filters. I'll be able to use my Klean Kanteen with my MSR filter!

Not only are these things eco-friendly, fully functional, superior to other personal hydration objects in hygiene and design, but they just look cool too! I like the brushed stainless steel.

Can't say enough good about these bottles. I will suck smugtastically from mine as I pedal my Xtracycle down the road. And I will do it unapologetically.

OccupyRecliner

Sitting still. There's a lot to be said for just taking up space.

I took a floating holiday today because the rest of the Pavement's Edge family had the day off from school. I've taken a hiatus from riding the past tow days. Hold on! I didn't go driving 72 miles, just because. Saturday we stayed at home. It was rainy and cold. I did drive over to the library and picked up One Less Car by Zack Furness. I've been whittling away at it the rest of the weekend.

Yesterday we drove to church, but otherwise we stayed home and just took it easy. In fact, in a rare moment of abject lethargy, I took a three hour nap on the couch.

I don't feel too bad about the roughly 20 miles of driving we did over the weekend. I could have chosen to bike both trips. And maybe I should have. The library trip was definitely a luxury drive. I most definitely could have put off the trip for a couple of days or could have shelled up against the rain.

Otherwise I'm sitting in the midst of a hiatus induced bout of writer's block. Less cycling means less writing about cycling.

And for some reason I can't motivate myself to work on the Sears Free Spirit and get it road-worthy. The prospect of fixing up a new bike alone should motivate me, but I just can't seem to put wrench to bike. And I've got a few other things I could be doing. Regardless, I must put the BeanSeat back on the Cannonball and I want to swap out saddles (again).

I need to go for a ride.

Saturday, October 8

Tailwind

For those of you that follow the comic Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery I'm sure that you were as shocked as I was this morning to see a new strip pop up in my feed after an impromptu hiatus which cut off mid-storyline with Yehuda in a dark shipping container on his way to Interbike.

Of course I instantly clicked on it. Today's strip is brilliant. It bookends nicely with the very first strip.


1/22/08, ©Rick Smith/yehudamoon.com/comics@yehudamoon.com


10/8/11, ©Rick Smith/yehudamoon.com/comics@yehudamoon.com

Bookends.

Yehuda's creator, Rick Smith, finally explained the hiatus and the future of the strip in a comment below today's comic:

I loved drawing the comic. But I'm at an age when I need to be planning for the future of my daughters, and this means making money. So I began resenting that I had turned a labor of love into a burden.


On one hand I am slightly ashamed that I followed all this time without becoming a subscriber. I LOVE the comic. I feel for the guy that he couldn't make a living off doing something he loves. Unfortunately, and through no fault of his, internet content that can be viewed for free is not going to bring in much income. You've got to take care of your family, and sometimes that involves sacrificing what you love for what you need to be doing.

I hope Rick can bring Yehuda back over time. If he does get it going again I have resolved to become a subscriber. I wish Rick and Yehuda perpetual tailwinds in their future endeavors and hope to cross cycletracks with them again soon.

I know Yehuda has put a little tailwind in my days since I discovered the strip.

Friday, October 7

Relaxed Speed Friday: Take It Easy Edition

Autumn is here in full force. My ride home last night was chilly. I was better prepared tonight. Of course it was warmer tonight than last, and I just wore my work clothes (casual Friday edition) home.

I think that this morning may have been my first sub-40 degree commute of the season. I'm not 100% sure though...

Speaking of the weekend and colder weather...tomorrow the highs are only supposed to be in the 40s and we're gonna get some precip.

Regardless, the cooler temps are here to stay. Wolf Creek ski area has enough snow to open today. Evans, Longs and Pikes are all shrouded in snow.

The beard shaped object grows. It may OccupySomething soon. Eventually, once its detectable by modern photographic equipment, I may post photos of the BSO.

Not meaning to, I overheard a co-worker talking on the phone to her husband about car problems. It sounded like of their cars is gasping its last. She lives within 2.5 miles of work. Hmmm...I went over and apologized, not having meant to overhear, but I offered: "I have a bike that would be perfect for you to use. And a rack and panniers."

She kinda laughed, but then said she might end up taking me up on it. You gotta grab 'hold of these opportunities man! I left it at that. This weekend I'll be knocking around with the donated bikes we've gotten lately. Three free ones and a bike I'm working on for a friend. Got some work to do. Look for twitter updates as the weekend progresses. I'm taking Monday off as my floating holiday. No elections this year.

Well, as you can see from the post title, I did not manage a 17 mph average commute this eve. It was 15.9. Sorry to let you down, Dear Readers, but I needed an easy and enjoyable ride. This week was rough. I hadn't recovered from my 170+ mile week last week. Hopefully, after my short week next week I can conjure a record RSF for your enjoyment.

OccupyTransition

So as I've been following the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the OccupyTogether phenomenon that has blossomed as a result, I have noticed a lot of those that I thought would fully support this movement are standing at arm's length. James Howard Kunstler surprised me with his support on Monday. I had wondered all weekend what his bloggular reaction would be. But then I have been further surprised by Michael Ruppert's oddly off-putting remarks.

The ray of light in all of this is Richard Heinberg's MEMO TO THE #OCCCUPY MOVEMENT (A Post Growth Economy). Heinberg is one of the best thinkers in the peak oil, post carbon transition realm and his voice is solid and articulate.

The gist of his message is this:

But when our discussion turns to replacing the current system, we’ve got to embrace a bigger view of reality than the one held by stock traders and politicians. It's not just our wealth they want to control, it's our vision for what is both possible and necessary. We need a post-growth economy that works both for people (all of them) and for the rest of nature: a localized economy based on renewable resources harvested at nature’s rates of replenishment, not a fossil-fueled global economy driven by the imperative of ever-higher returns on investment.


And I think Heinberg has it right. This movement is gaining steam every hour. Young people (I say young because this movement is overwhelmingly powered by youth, but there are many of ALL generations involved) have reason and a right to be angry about the future. For years people have been saying: "We need to make these changes for our children" on both sides of the argument, both for and against growth. Well, these are our children.

Alas, I am old enough to have a twenty year old child. In fact, a few people I went to high school with do have twentysomethings running around the old homestead these days.

Anyway, these are the children of America. They're the ones we've been fighting for, either to build evergrowing wealth or make a sustainble world. And believe me, your on one side of that coin or the other. You can't truly be for both. And we've failed them, our heirs. And they know it. And the bill has finally come due.

So those in the Transistion Movement who are also criticizing these OWSers (to steal Kunstler's term, though I believe he is NOT criticizing them) for lacking focus, for not knowing why they're protesting...THEY NEED YOU! They need those with a clear focus and agenda who are fed up, who want to make a change. They WANT us all involved.

Do those who have had their human rights violated by evil regimes need to fully understand international law to know they've been oppressed? Do they need to be able to articulate their concerns to have a reason and right to fight back?

The Occupy movement is made up of many who understand the rules of the game and who want to change them. But I daresay the mass of them only know they have been treated unjustly and they want to change things. They may not understand why. They may not have the solutions (neither do our leaders!!!) but that does not negate their right to express outrage, frustration and dissent. They want solutions and I believe they will find them. And what better opportunity that the present moment to get the word out about Peak Oil and the coming post-carbon age? It's all tied up in a big messy bundle.

Our financial woes are fundamentally a part of our energy crisis. So many have said, I'VE said, we are not in an economic crisis, we're in an ENERGY crisis. I just said our leaders don't have solutions, but some actually do understand and do have viable solutions. They just can't implement them now because the system is against that kind of thinking. Growth is all that matters, and Growth is the cancer that's killing us.

I think most of the protestors would embrace Transition and its ideals. I think many of them are ready to make big changes in protest of the current system and in place of the current system. Many of them already are whether they understand Transition or not.

It would be a disservice to our children for those that understand the game best to stand back and watch them fail without stepping in and guiding the discussion toward the source of the problems we face today. I think Richard Heinberg has done this. Many, many more need to do so as well.

WE are the 99%

Thursday, October 6

Jobs Shortage

"A computer is the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with. It's a bicycle for our minds." - Steve Jobs (as tweeted by Lance Armstrong)

"The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve's success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented." - Pres. Obama

I'm not a huge Apple fan. I'm not a Steve Jobs disciple per se, but I recognize what Apple has meant to the world, and when I purchased my last computer if money had been no factor I would have bought a Macbook.

I only recently obtained an iPhone, and while I do enjoy my iPhone I have not looked at is a tool that has changed my life, though in subtle ways it has. But as I follow the Occupy Wall Street movement on twitter each day I use my iPhone much more often than a PC or my laptop. And I know that many of those involved are using iPhones or its non-Apple counterparts (which were obviously inspired by the iPhone) and Macbooks and laptops to communicate with the wide world. All of this personal technology, technology that I tried to imagine as a kid but utterly failed to foresee, has given a VOICE to the individual that can be heard worldwide.

Remember the Arab Spring? Remember how people in those places got information out using technology that wasn't available ten years ago? Remember how the world "listened" on that same technology? People have wanted a conversation about how the world is arranged for a long time, but we have only just gained the collective virtual space to have that conversation. People like Steve Jobs made that possible.

Innovation like the iPhone is rarely about making money, but about making your dreams and visions come alive and sharing the outcome with the world, not to gain, but to give.

Many who oppose or scorn the OWS movement are critical that the protestors are complaining about corporate greed, but are waving around their iPhones and such. But those phones, those computers, camera and other technological tools have finally made this revolution possible. Why not use the tools that we've been given? And what better tools to use, than tools given to the world by a man who did not seem bent on corporate power and greed, but on building a dream and giving it away. Of course we've had to pay for these things. It costs money to make them. But our society is built on such a complex line of supply and demand, needs and wants that there is truly no way to divorce ourselves from corporate corruption completely without living in abject poverty in the wilderness.

Its easy to call the protestors "spoiled brats" and "dirty hippies" or "leftist socialists" but from what I've seen there is a huge cross section of the population that are joining the protests. Its not just college kids who want and excuse to camp out in the park and smoke pot. I'm sure there are some of those, but they are not the majority. And I'm sure some of those who have valid concerns are also using the opportunity for other, less productive pursuits. That is human nature. My wish is that for the time being that everyone would get serious, maintain credibility and stay focused on what is important.

I saw thirtysomething parents at the protest in Denver. I saw middle aged women that looked like they were off to a garden party. I saw clean cut professional looking young men and women. I saw older hippies and older professionals. Many people were wearing belts with their shirts tucked in. And I also saw green mohawks and lots of facial piercings. I saw guys who looked like football or rugby jocks. I saw minorities. I saw teenagers. I saw rednecks. I saw a majority of people without green (or other colored) mohawks or facial piercings. I saw women in "mom jeans." I saw fanny packs. I saw articulate people. I saw not so articulate people. I saw men. I saw women. I saw kids. I saw cyclists. I saw motorists. I did not see anyone who was obviously a democrat or a republican. I did not see anyone who was not patriotic. I did not see anyone who was violent. I did not see or hear anyone who did not know why they were there. In fact, most people were very clear in why they were fed up, dissatisfied with the current state of affairs and why they wanted things to change. They were not whining. They were not trying to get out of paying their bills or out of working for a living. They're just tired of working so hard only to get beat down continually by a system that is designed to maximize profit. We don't want profit. We want to live. The American Dream isn't about being filthy rich for everyone. Some people are okay with living in a modest house on a quiet street and driving a five year old car. But I won't sacrifice my modest American Dream so someone else can be filthy rich.





Anyway, it seems as if Steve Jobs' passing is relevant to this movement, to many participating and to many spectating if for no other reason becuase his inventions have made it all possible.

I have noticed some glitches in my twitter feed the past couple of days. It's frustrating that something so significant in our history is going on and instead of seeing #OccupyWallStreet in the "Trends" we see #puttwowordstogethermakeaninsult and #AmandaKnox. Are the rumors true that JP Morgan has a lot of money invested in twitter so there is censorship of the hashtags related to Occupy Wall Street? Really, can more people be tweeting about the latest Cheeze Doodle promotion than a protest numbering in the thousands in New York City? With hundreds being arrested?

But twitter (thankfully) isn't the only outlet for news. Thank heavens we have the mass media. Of course they've been faithfully covering the movement since its earliest days. Wait, what? What do you mean they didn't pick it up until 700 protestors were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge? I don't believe you.

Corporations may be responsible for bringing us computers, food, energy and the other things we need to survive on this planet, but that doesn't mean we are not allowed to use our human energy and ingenuity and the tools we have at our disposal to fight back against corruption, greed and the erosion of our democratic powers.

Go ride your bike!

Wednesday, October 5

The One: Geospatial Ninja Seeks Clan

Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?
Morpheus: No, Neo. I'm trying to tell you that when you're ready, you won't have to.

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

When you are The One, you can dodge rain drops.

Speaking of the Spoon Boy/Neo exchange, I once had a phenomenal idea for a story called "Yuri Geller's Spoons" that was based on it. It was born, conceived and written in my mind in about 30 seconds. And at the time I couldn't jot the idea down and I completely lost it by the time I found a pencil and a piece of paper. I also wrote a one page premise for a story in 1989 that was basically the Matrix.

Anyway, back to the post.

When you are The One, you can dodge rain drops. Last night as I rammed my way home I dodged pedestrians, dogs, other cyclists and yes, rain drops. I was surprised by the heavy skies when I exited work. I could see sheets of rain north of Golden, so I jumped on the pedals in an attempt to make it home in a dry state. Of course I didn't need to rush, only to embrace my One-ness.

No rain drops struck me, but they fell all around as I hammered the pedals of the new MTB. New MTB...The One...hmmm.

The late William Nealy talked about "Paddle-Fu" in his essential whitewater manual: Kayak: The Animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique. Well, get ready for "Pedal-Fu" over the coming days, weeks, months and eons. Well, unless William Nealy covered it in his Mountain Bike!: A Manual of Beginning to Advanced Technique. I'll research it and get back to you. For now, practice dodging rain drops.

Anyway, there is something exciting going on behind the green curtain. I can't really say what exactly. Much like the spy can't tell his wife what he's been doing all day at the office. It could jeopardize his life. More to come, maybe.

Sluggish ride in this morning. I think my body is just telling me it needs a rest. Got a Bean commute tomorrow, and Ramming Speed Friday of course, but otherwise I think I'm going to take it really easy for a week or so. No prairie biking the rest of this week or next. Ah, who am I kidding? I'll break that rule right out of the gate. Some days I just can't control my speed or desire to play in the dirt.

Tuesday, October 4

I AM the 99%

cross posted from ascentionist.blogspot.com

NOTE: I was not going to post this here, as this blog is transportation and cycling related, but I think now is the time to express support for change. I can't avoid posting this here as I feel this place is my strongest voice.

I did not create this country. I have inherited it from my parents, who inherited it from their parents, who inherited it from their parents who inherited it from their parents who stole it from the natives. In my bloodline also flows native blood, though much diluted and long forgotten by the rest of the world. While I did not create the world I've come to inhabit, I will affect change when I can to make it a better place. While I cannot undo the injustices of the past, I can do my best to make up for them by creating positive externalities.

Back when I was racking up student loan debt pursuing a college degree I heard all about externalities in my Eco 120 class. There are positive and negative externalities. Negative externalities are things like pollution, fraud and robbery, while positive externalities are things that tend to build community and harmony with our fellow man.

While I see those in power creating a host of negative externalities I find myself increasingly apt to create positive externalities as I mature and as I grow as a citizen and good neighbor.

If I have time, energy and material resources I can give much back to my community, to those in need and I can feel good about it. But our current economic climate demands more of my resources, time and energy and leaves me with little left over, and hardly enough for my own needs.

I labored through college for seven years to obtain a piece of paper. That piece of paper cost me years of my life and somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 of debt. I'd love to return it at this point for a full refund. It did absolutely nothing for me. My time there was filled with attempts to indoctrinate me to leftist propaganda and useless banter about meaningless topics.

I needed the paper to get a job. But once I had the job I discovered that absolutely nothing I learned in those hallowed halls of knowledge translated to my chosen profession. Everything I learned about my job I learned...on the job. I didn't need the piece of paper, other than to show that I was part of the club of dupes that fell for the swindle.

I've gotten a much better education through my own efforts at the local library since I graduated than I ever could have in an institution.

So for a nifty pricetag of approximately $35k I wasted seven years of my life and all I have to show for it is this lousy college hoodie that I had to pay $50 for in the campus bookstore.

After I was a couple of years into my undergraduate sentence tuition went up. 23%. I had already invested too much time and money to quit in protest. My choices were that or continue in pursuit of the piece of paper. I chose...poorly. But I chose in the way I was expected to choose. And the next year tuition went up again. Double digits.

I was scammed. In all fairness, I chose to go to college. I mean, this is a free country. I could have chosen not to go to college and throw my money away. Right? Nobody made me rack up all that debt. Right?

Sure, and then my only career prospects involved greasy food stains and garbled drive-thru speakers. You can't raise a family on minimum wage, and you can't feel like a human being flipping burgers as a CAREER. In my hometown you can't even afford a cheap apartment on minimum wage. Wage slaves are dependent on the mercy of others for shelter and long term financial support.

I did make the choice not to go to college at first. In 1993, after a year of college, after seeing only a small amount of debt racking up I decided I'd be better off to drop out, save my money and just go to work. I didn't want to be rich after all. I just wanted to make enough money to satisfy my modest needs.

That didn't work out so well. A series of factory jobs schooled me in the fine art of wage slavery. My rights as a human being were taken away in exchange for the meagerest of paychecks. Now, when I was young I believed in hard work. I wanted to exhibit a fine work ethic, but after a few jobs of beating my head against a wall trying to increase my purchasing power that resolve was slowly worn away. No amount of hard work would change the fact that the American working class is at the mercy of their corporate masters. Those corporate masters do not value hard work and loyalty, only profit.

First I was fed up with the expense of education so escaped into the workforce, then I was fed up with the costs associated with the lack of education and escaped back into university. Both were bad choices.

About the time we were moving west my parents were losing everything. They (we) lost the outdoor recreation business we tried to build up as a family, but that faltered in the summer after 9/11 and declined each season after that. They were losing their house because they had an overwhelming amount of monthly debt. My mother sold cookware and my father had previously lost his job with the Federal Government (about ten years prior) and was unable to find a decent paying job that he was qualified for.

We couldn't sell the house we had bought from them a few years prior so we let them move in when they had to leave what they thought would be the last house they would ever live in. They went to debt counseling and started the long slog back to normality.

We tried to sell the house, in which we had $26,000 of equity in 2006 when we refinanced, but we were unable after the collapse of '08. I doubt we have any equity now. And I believe the equity we had then was just a mirage.

They've struggled for almost four years just to come up with the $400 we asked them for to cover the mortgage payment. Two years ago my mother fell down the basement steps. They had no health insurance at the time. I don't want to think about what would have happened to them if I had not been able to cover when they couldn't.

Our mortgage there has been held by at least four different lenders in seven years. The current lender, CitiMortgage, tried to force us to get floodplain insurance last year. The house is absolutely not in a floodplain. They told me I was going to have to hire a surveyor. Fortunately we had already had the property surveyed and I finally convinced them we didn't need the floodplain insurance. But by then they had already started paying for the insurance to "protect their investment." And they charged us for it. If my parents hadn't needed a place, if I hadn't been doing my best to care for them through these hard times I would have told Citi: "The keys are under the mat. Enjoy your waterfront property." But I didn't have that luxury.

I have two mortgages in my name totaling $210,000 in liabilities. We have one car we own outright. I have no retirement. I have at least $30,000 in student loan debt and my wife has slightly less. In ten years our oldest son will be ready to go off to college. My parents will be 67 and 65 and they have little to no retirement built up. In ten years I need to come up with a strategy to pay for two kids to go to college, my own retirement and come up with plan for taking care of my aging parents. I have one sister in a similar situation. Even between the two of us I'm not sure if we can do what must be done. It is a frightening and overwhelming prospect.

The saving grace is that my in-laws are in much better financial shape than my own parents, so at least the burden isn't doubled automatically. At least for now. Life happens.

These things have weighed on my mind for a few years now. I still don't have an answer or a strategy. So when my boss says "don't expect a raise before 2014" I get angry. I start looking for other jobs. Of course there are none. I can move neither upward or laterally to improve my situation. We've cut everything out of our lives we can without giving up simple comforts. We don't have basic cable. We don't go on vacations.

If I hadn't finished college and gotten the cubicle trap job I have now I would not have had the means to help my parents in their time of direst need. If I hadn't finished college against my better judgment at the time I wouldn't even have the hope of improving my situation to the point where I could save for my children's future.

I used to think my "failures" were due to poor choices on my part. I've come to realize that not only is the playing field unlevel, the rules are unclear and change frequently. Every time we make a hard decision based on what is best for our family, creating a small buffer to increase our ability to provide the things we need then something on the other end changes and we go back to having just enough to make it from paycheck to paycheck. While I tried to make the best decisions the game was rigged against me. And the rest of the 99%.

Here are MY demands:

1) I want the opportunity to earn a fair wage. I'm not lazy. I'm perfectly willing to work hard for my money. I want the opportunity to choose my profession and I want the chance to see the fruits of my labor.
2) I do not want to sink the majority of my earnings into health care, insurance, taxes or unfair fees or hidden costs associated with the use of my own money.
3) I AM the market and I'm tired of being told what I want and what I need. I will not accept goods that are second rate, unsustainable and detrimental to the public good any longer.
4) Take the profit out of health care. My health is not for sale. Privatization only benefits those who seek profit. Healthy people are not profitable to the health care industry or the drug companies.
5) Stop degrading my food with unsustainable agricultural practices. I should not have to fear that the food I eat is slowly killing me and my family and destroying the environment.
6) Do not take away my freedom to choose what is best for me and my family. I am a law abiding citizen, with no desire to defraud or harm my neighbors or the government.
7) STOP predatory lending forever. Don't give credit to those who are not qualified for it.


Do not weep for me. Do not assume I'm looking for sympathy. I am an intelligent and strong person. I have a wonderful family and I will do whatever I must to care for them. The past couple of years I've come to realize that I need to better prepare myself to transition to a different kind of life. I need to be more resilient. I need to stop assuming the system is designed to HELP me.

Trust in that system is gone. It will never be restored. And if a new system is put in its place I will be there to help craft it, to help mold it into something that will benefit my children and their children so this never happens again. But I will caution them not to trust too deeply in any new system either. Trust in God. Trust in your own abilities. Do not trust in the institutions of man. They're too easily corrupted. Watch them closely. Tear them down when they cease to benefit all.

Occupy Wall Street. We ARE the 99%