Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Touring Tuesday - Bike 101 Lakes

Participants at a previous edition of Bike 101 Lakes
Here's a bike ride that will be held in the northeast corner of Indiana: Bike 101 Lakes. The ride starts in Angola, which is the county seat for Steuben county. The county is one of the more scenic areas of Indiana, with a lot of woods and 101 natural lakes. It is home to Pokagon State Park, best known for its toboggan run, and Trine (formerly Tri-State) University. This is the eighth year of the ride, and there are five ride lengths (click on the ride length to see a map of the route):
The long route ventures up into Michigan and over into Ohio a bit. Cost for the ride is $35 ($10 age 13 and under), which also includes a t-shirt. There is also a $40 family option which covers 2 adults and 2 kids on the 2.8 route, with a t-shirt for each rider. There is no online registration, but you can download the form from the web and mail it in.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Demo Mountain Bikes

Jamis Dragonslayer Pro
We now have four demo mountain bikes which we can rent out to you for $50 per day. Should you decide to purchase one, your rental fees (up to $100) may be applied your purchase. Here are the bikes that are available:
  • Jamis Eden 26+, 16" frame size (list price $999.99)
  • Jamis Halo XC 650B, 14" frame size (list price $1299.99)
  • Jamis Dragonslayer Sport 26+, 17" frame size (list price 1399.99)
  • Jamis Dragonslayer Pro, 26+, 19" frame size (list price $2499.99)
All of these are hardtails - We hope to get a full suspension demo bike from Fuji soon. We're not far from Southwestway Park, which would be a good place to do a test ride.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Photo - 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps

The 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps at Minerva Terrace (photo courtesy of GearJunkie)
We're going back quite a ways for this week's photo - All the way back to 1896. At that time the bicycle, especially the modern design, was relatively new, and motorized cars and trucks didn't exist. Naturally, the United States Army wondered if this new bicycle could be useful to the military. In May of 1896, the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps was formed at Fort Missoula in Montana. It consisted of eight African-American soldiers led by a white officer, Lt. James Moss. Moss achieved his position by graduating last in his class at West Point, which meant he also got the last choice for Army assignments after graduation. Most West Point graduates at that time did not wish to serve in the West or to command black troops, so he got to do both.

The A.G. Spalding company provided bicycles to the corps at no charge. The men were taught to ride in formation with these bikes while carrying the supplies they would need (tent, bedroll, cooking utensils, etc.) in the field. They also had to carry a rifle and 50 rounds of ammunition. Initially each cyclist carried his rifle on his back. Later it was attached to the bicycle.

After a number of shorter rides, they went on a major trek in August of 1896. They traveled from Fort Missoula to Yellowstone National Park. The round trip totaled 800 miles. The photo above shows the cyclists at Minerva Terrace, part of the Mammoth Hot Springs area in the national park. By June of 1897, they started on an even longer journey: Fort Missoula to St. Louis. This trek would total 1900 miles. By this time the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps had increased to 20 enlisted men (all African-American), and had added another officer. Also accompanying the group was a 19 year old newspaper reporter named Eddie Boos. Unlike the military cyclists, he rode a Sterling bicycle. His reports went to Missoula, St. Louis and other newspapers around the country. After 41 challenging days, the cyclists entered St. Louis. According to a report filed by Lt. Moss:
"The bicycle, as a machine for military purposes, was most thoroughly tested under all possible conditions, except that of being under actual fire."
The feat is quite impressive when one takes into account the fact that roads in the era before the automobile were so bad the soldiers often had to dismount and push their bikes through mud.

Moss wanted to ride from St. Louis to Minneapolis to see how fast the corps could travel over better roads. Permission was denied and they returned to Ft. Missoula. In February of 1898 he requested permission to cycle from Ft. Missoula to San Francisco. A week later the battleship U.S.S. Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, and the U.S. Army became focused on the impending Spanish-American War. The trip to San Francisco was not approved and the unit was eventually disbanded.

James Moss deeply respected the black soldiers that served under his command. He later fought in both Cuba and the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, and in France during World War I. He was a colonel by the time of his retirement from the Army shortly after World War I. In 1941 he died in a New York City traffic accident not far from where John Lennon was later killed.

For more information on those tenacious souls who made the arduous journey from Ft. Missoula to St. Louis, please visit Riders of the Bicycle Corps.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday Video - Kenny Belaey's Balance

Kenny Belaey riding cable over 350 foot drop
I have seen videos of mountain bikers doing a lot of crazy stuff, but this one is incredible. Kenny starts out carrying his bike up a mountain through snow. He rides on some incredibly narrow ridges, and downhill through loose rock and snow. For the finale he rides on a single cable between two peaks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Weird Bike Wednesday - Unstealable Bicycle

Yerka Unstealable Bicycle
Here's another one of those weird but practical bicycles. It was designed by three cyclists from Chile and is now manufactured by Yerka. The image above has not been Photoshopped and it's not an optical illusion. The frame really does encircle the tree. This is done by the following steps. The top and bottom portions of the down tube pivot outward. The seat and seatpost are removed, then slid through a hole in the top section of the down tube. The end of the seatpost goes into the bottom section of the down tube where it is secured by a keyed lock. The process is best explained by looking at this video:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Touring Tuesday - The Cycling Doctor

Cycling through the Chile - Argentina border region (photo courtesy of Stephen Fabes via BBC)
Dr. Stephen Fabes of London spent six years (2010-2016) cycling 50,000 miles on six continents. Most days he rode between 25 and 60 mile, and lived on less than $10 per day (That's still more than $20,000 over six years). He put his medical training to use in several locations around the globe, including:
  • A floating medical clinic in Cambodia
  • A tuberculosis clinic on the Thailand - Myanmar border
  • A mobile clinic in Kathmandu, Nepal treating orphans addicted to glue-sniffing
Fabes traveled through Mongolia during mid-winter, which made it challenging to keep his water liquid. Daytime temperatures remained below freezing, so he had to keep his water next to his body. Also challenging were those days passing through featureless deserts or steppes that never seemed to change. His scariest moment occurred when he was sleeping in a remote region of Peru. A local resident poked a gun inside his tent and made him get out. He then marched him into his home. The man explained that he had been robbed not long before, and thought Dr. Fabes was connected with the thieves. After realizing he was harmless, the man made him some soup.

Stephen Fabes said the biggest thing he realized from his travels is the world is friendlier than he thought.
"I have had a very favorable impression of the planet and that bolsters my faith in humanity. When you are traveling by bicycle, the universe is on your side. You get lots of offers of hospitality."
While I was reading this quote, I noticed a couple of news items on the side of the BBC web page. One said the North Koreans were threatening more missile tests. The other said five states were searching for the "Facebook Killer."

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bridges, Bikes and Books Spring Blast in Carthage Indiana

Offutt Covered Bridge in Rush County
If you are a student of history, you may know Carthage as a  rival of early Rome. It was their general Hannibal who crossed the Alps with elephants to attack Rome. Not many folks know there is a town named Carthage in Indiana. It's a small town in Rush county, with slightly less than a thousand inhabitants. Despite its small size, it is an old town - It was platted back in 1834, less than twenty years after Indiana joined the Union.

It's no secret that things are tough for small towns these days. As more people choose to live in the larger cities, that leaves fewer people for places like Carthage. They have suffered some setbacks in the past few years. The CKS (Carthage - Knightstown - Shirley) railroad, a popular tourist attraction, shut down in 2013. The local elementary school closed in 2014. The local folks didn't throw in the towel though - In 2015 they founded Future of Carthage, a non-profit organization. Since I grew up in Acton Indiana, I'm a supporter of small towns. I decided to help them out a bit with some publicity for their bike ride.

On Saturday, May 6 Future of Carthage will hold a fundraiser for the town's Henry Henley Library. The event is called Bridges, Bikes and Books Spring Blast. As part of the festivities, they will have their Covered Bridge Bike Tour starting at 8:00 AM. Riders have a choice of 13 or 33 mile routes. For more information about the ride, please visit the Future of Carthage Facebook page.