Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Photo - Bicycling Musician

The Bicycling Musician (Ben Weaver) and his bike
Searching the Internet I found a article about Ben Weaver, a musician who travels from one show to another by bicycle. As you can see from the photo, he carries his guitar and banjo in special panniers on the back. The writer of the article (Jonathon Miles) rode with him from St. Paul, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana. Along the way an elderly gentleman at a filling station talked to them a bit. When told what they were doing, he said "My mama told me never to talk to crazy people." Their tour featured 24 days of riding and 12 shows, covering 1,500 miles of travel. You can visit Ben's website and sign up for his newsletter if you want to stay up to date on his travels & music.

Here's a video for Ben's song "White Snow"


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday Video - Fleet Farming

Fleet Farming volunteers at one of their farmlettes
I'm on the fundraising committee for Bicycle Indiana. If you have any suggestions, please send them to me at I was doing some research when I ran across this group out of Orlando, Florida called Fleet Farming. They find homeowners who are willing to donate space (they call these farmlettes), which they use to grow salad greens. When the produce is ready to be harvested, it is picked and transported by bicycle to a couple local farmers' markets. The group has what they call "swarm rides" every couple of weeks. They ride to 3-5 farmlettes and do whatever work is necessary.

An owner of a local market came up with the idea in late 2013. By early 2014 the program was launched. It started with a borrowed bike trailer, 15 volunteers and 5 farmlettes comprising 2,500 square feet (about 1/16th of an acre). Not only have they grown in the Orlando area, but they have also added another local chapter on the other side of the country in Oakland, California. Their aim is to reduce the use of fossil fuels and agricultural chemicals. Their motto is:

Grow Food, Not Lawns!
Here is a video about the program:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Weird Bike Wednesday - Knot Bicycle

What went wrong with the top tube?
Now here's a unique bicycle frame. It's like a conventional frame except for the top tube, which has a big knot in it. This is the creation of a company in Milano, Italy called Otto Milano. There are three versions of this bike. Two are fixies without brakes, one with drop handlebars, and one with straight handlebars (shown above).  The other is a more standard bike with disk brakes.

I wasn't able to find any information about these bikes after 2015, so I don't think they were successful commercially. I wonder if they had problems with cracking in the top tube. That knot in there has to be a major stress riser.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Touring Tuesday - Cycling Lake Erie Islands

Bicycles on Kelleys Island in Lake Erie (photo courtesy of A Dangerous Business Travel Blog)
Have you been dreaming of getting away from everything by going cycling on a remote island? Well, there are some islands in the Great Lakes that really aren't all that far away from central Indiana. The best known ones are Isle Royale in Lake Superior and Mackinac Island in Lake Huron, but all five lakes have islands. Here's a 2014 article about biking South Bass Island and Kelleys Island in Lake Erie.

The harbor area on South Bass Island is known as Put-In-Bay. It was the American base on Lake Erie during the War of 1812. From there, Oliver Hazard Perry led the American forces to victory at the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. Today there is a 350 foot monument towering over the harbor, which is dedicated to Perry's victory and the peace that has existed between Great Britain, Canada and the United States since the War of 1812.

Kelleys Island is home to Kelleys Island State Park, which is located on the north side of the island. There are a couple mountain biking trails in the park. The North Shore / Alvar Loop Trail is a two mile intermediate level trail, while the East Quarry Trail is a beginner / intermediate trail that is five miles long. One sight that you will want to visit is the Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve. These grooves were carved out during the Ice Age.

To get to the islands you will need to take a ferry. There are several options:
Here is a short video about cycling on the Lake Erie islands:

Monday, July 17, 2017

2107 Tour de France Gets Intereesting

Fabio Aru in the Yellow Jersey after stage 12
After losing a couple star sprinters in the first week, the Tour de France got quite interesting in its second week. Chris Froome had looked unbeatable until the final climb on stage 12. Fabio Aru of Italy launched an attack and gained enough time to take the Yellow Jersey. He held it until stage 14, when he lost time in the short but steep climb to the finish line. Froome is back in the Yellow Jersey, but the standings are quite tight:
  1. Chris Froome (UK)
  2. Aru Fabio (Italy) 18 seconds back
  3. Bardet Romain (France) 23 seconds back
  4. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia) 29 seconds
Never in the history of the Tour have the top 4 riders been so close this late in the race. Froome has only a small lead, but he is the best time trial rider among the contenders. Since stage 20 on Saturday is a 14 mile time trial, he is expected to gain additional time against his rivals there. That means the challengers will have to take back considerable time before then. Their best chance to do that is on Thursday's Stage 18, which ends with an out of category climb up Col de Vars. The final climb is nearly 6 miles long with an average grade of 7.5%

In the sprints, Marcel Kittel of Germany has been dominant. With 5 stage wins, he has a chance to tie the record of 8 stage wins in one Tour de France. It has been done 4 times before:
  • Charles Pelissier (1930)
  • Eddy Merckx (1970 & 1974)
  • Freddy Maertens (1976)
Naturally, Kittel has a sizable lead in the Green Jersey standings. Michael Matthews of Australia is in second place with 294 points to Kittel's 373. Matthews may be able to pick up some points in the intermediate sprints of the mountain stages, but it will be very difficult for him to take the Green Jersey from Kittel.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Photo - Dockless Bike Share

Abandoned bike share bicycles in China (photo courtesy of Streets Blog NYC)
Here in Indy, the bicycle sharing program uses fixed docking stations to rent and drop off bicycles. In China, private companies are using dockless bike sharing instead. The technology is quite impressive. To locate where the bikes are, they are equipped with GPS and you can locate them with your smartphone. After you pay (also with smartphone), the bike unlocks, which allows the front wheel to turn. When you are done using the bike, you don't have to return it to a docking station. Instead you just park it in an appropriate place. Some of the bikes used in China are quite cheaply made, which leads to piles like the ones shown in the photo. There have been some start-up companies formed in the U.S. that also plan to implement the dockless bike share model. In April of this year, the National Association of City Transportation Officials issued a statement entitled "Rogue Bike Share Providers Raise Concerns For Cities." Here is the first paragraph:

In recent weeks, “rogue” bike share companies have launched, uninvited, in U.S. cities with flimsy equipment and limited or no public notification, posing significant safety risks to the public, and fully divorced from larger transportation planning and municipal needs. Photos from cities in China, where rogue systems are already in place, show junk heaps of broken bikes. People who have used the bikes in the U.S. report that they are of poor quality and often unsafe.
Obviously, these officials are trying avoid the piles of abandoned bikes that have become eyesores in China.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday Video - Rattlesnake Encounter While Mountain Biking

Mountain biker's shadow as he flies over the handlebars
Now you would think that a rattlesnake stretched completely across a mountain bike trail would be easy to spot. In this video you'll see that isn't always the case. The snake looks remarkably like the shadows from bare tree branches. The cyclist hits his brakes really hard and flies over his handlebars. Fortunately, he didn't seem to have any serious injuries. Afterwards he had to wait while the rattler slithered through his back wheel before retrieving his mountain bike.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Weird Bike Wednesday - Bicycmple

The Bicymple - A Simplified Bike
The bicymple bills itself as "The bicycle simplified." It takes a minimalist design approach, doing away with the chain entirely. The frame is quite small compared to a standard bike, and there is a disk brake only on the front wheel. The crank does not drive the rear wheel directly, since this would make it to slow (That's why the highwheeler came about - Gearing later made the safety bicycle possible). The bicycmple has a speed similar to a fixed gear bicycle. With the optional rear wheel steering, it can turn in an exceptionally tight radius.

The bicymple was successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2013. The goal was $20,000 but over twice that much funding was raised. Exactly where this project stands now is unclear. According to their website they are taking pre-orders, but I didn't see anything saying when the bikes will be shipped. Here's a video about the bicymple:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Touring Tuesday - Springfield, Illinois

Darren Alff outside the Lincoln home in Springfield (photo courtesy of Bicycle Touring Pro)
If you want to take a cycling trip mixed in with some American history, consider Springfield Illinois. It's where Abraham Lincoln spent most of his adult life prior to becoming President. Among the sights you can visit are:
  • Lincoln Home Historic Site
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
  • Lincoln-Herndon Law Office
  • Lincoln Tomb
While Springfield is the capital of Illinois, it is significantly smaller than Indianapolis, approximately the size of Evansville or Terre Haute. There are four trails available to cyclists:
  • Interurban Trail (8.4 miles)
  • Sangamon Valley Trail (5.7 miles)
  • Lost Bridge Trail (5.6 miles)
  • Wabash Trail (2.1 miles)
Here's a map of the trails.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tour de France Update

Stage 7 finish - Who won?
So far the 2017 Tour de France has been disappointing. When it started, I was hoping to see:
  • Mark Cavendish chasing Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage wins (Cavendish has 30)
  • Peter Sagan going for his sixth straight green jersey
  • Someone to come along & at least challenge Chris Froome for the overall title & make it interesting
On the Stage 4 sprint to the finish line Sagan & Cavendish collided, and Cavendish crashed, breaking his shoulder blade. Race officials disqualified Sagan, a  move which has been debated by many pro cyclists and cycling fans. In one instant, the Tour de France lost two of its biggest stars.

With those two out, Marcel Kittel of Germany looks like the favorite to win the sprinters' green jersey. He already has two stage wins, including the unbelievably close stage 7. In the photo above, it looks like a dead heat between Kittel (bottom) and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (top). The judges have access to a camera that takes 10,000 photos per second down the finish line. It showed that Kittel won by 0.2 inches.

So far, no one looks like a threat to Chris Froome, who is currently wearing the yellow jersey. Many thought that Richie Porte had the best chance to beat him. Unfortunately, Porte crashed while descending at 45 miles per hour, breaking his pelvis and collar bone on stage 9. Another contender, Nairo Quintana, is over two minutes behind Froome. Two time former champion Alberto Contador is more than five minutes back. Italian Fabio Aru is currently in second place, 18 seconds behind Froome. Perhaps he can make it interesting over the next two weeks.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Photo - Cyclist Chased by Piglets

Found this photo on the Internet, but couldn't find any information about it. I guess the piglets just came out on the road to check him out. He's in no danger - Unless their mother comes looking for her little ones.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Thursday Video - Backflip from Swing onto BMX Bicycle

Preparing to backflip onto his bicycle
Check out this guy in the video below. It's a short video, under one minute. He builds up some height on the swing, then launches himself into the air. He does one backflip and nails the landing (10 out of 10). As soon as his feet hit the pedals, he starts riding away.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Weird Bike Wednesday - Bicycle with a Swing

This two story bicycle has a swing
Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York recently held its 13th annual Bicycle Fetish Day.The event brings out a lot  of crazy bicycles. It's hard to imagine anything crazier than the bike shown above. It has four pedalers (two low, two high) and one swinger.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Touring Tuesday - Mountain Biking in Morrocco

Mountain biking in the Atlas Mountains
Let's say you do not like the color green. Perhaps you dislike the Boston Celtics or Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Why not try mountain biking in Morocco? The photo above brings to mind Buzz Aldrin's classic comment about the lunar surface - "Magnificent Desolation." The highest peak in the Atlas Mountains tops well over 13,000 feet.

There are a number of companies offering mountain biking tours in Morocco, including:

Here's some footage of mountain biking in the Atlas Mountains:

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Indy Criterium is this Saturday

Action at last year's Indy Crit (photo courtesy of Velerie DeWeese)
Saturday, July 8 will be an action packed day of cycling in Indianapolis. First up is the Indy Criterium. It kicks off with a CIBA ride at 9:00 AM, featuring 14, 32 & 52 mile options. There is also a 4.5 mile family ride starting at 9:30 AM. A 25 minute BMX stunt show will be performed several times during the day. Of course, there will be racing throughout the day, starting at 10:00 AM. There will be races for boys and girls, men and women, VIPs, and even one between two Handlebar bikes. At 6:00 PM there will be a bicycle parade, followed by the main attraction featuring the elite riders.

After the racing is done, it's time to get ready for the NITE (Navigate Indy This Evening) ride. The ride starts at 11:00 PM, and the twenty mile route passes through Butler University, Crown Hill Cemetery, and IUPUI. There will be an after party from 12:30 to 2:00 PM.