Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Photo - Cyclists Encounter Storm Trooper

Luke! There's a storm trooper on the other side of the road! (photo courtesy of CyclingTips)
There's just no telling what you are going to see out on the road while riding your bike. In 2012 racers in Australia's Tour Down Under came across a storm trooper. We was walking across Australia to raise money for Starlight Children's Foundation. Those guys around the storm trooper are telling him "These aren't the cyclists you're looking for."

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Weird Bike Wednesday - LFN Bicycle

The LFN bicycle (photo courtesy of New Atlas)
Here's a weird bike that was on Kickstarter in 2016. Instead of using a circular pedaling motion, it employs a vertical stepping motion. They bill it as "The only bike that makes you climb a mountain without the mountain." That doesn't really inspire me to buy one. It is also an e-bike. Apparently it didn't do too well on Kickstarter. They were looking to get $100,000 but only got $1,500 from 9 backers, so the project was cancelled. Here's the video from Kickstarter.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Touring Tuesday - Cycling on Nantucket Island

Montague folding bike parked in front of house on Nantucket Island
It's a little late in the season now, but you might want to take a look at cycling on Nantucket Island during the summer of 2018. The island is about 100 square miles in size, and roughly 30 miles south of Cape Cod. It's a popular summer vacation spot, and a good spot for casual, family riding. The high point is only 109 feet high, so there won't be any major climbs. You can take a 46 mile ride around the island. Be sure to allow time for sightseeing. There are three lighthouses and a whaling museum to visit. Among the artifacts at the museum is a 46 foot sperm whale skeleton.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Photo - Milk Cans on Bicycles

Indian cyclists with milk cans on their bikes (Photo courtesy of Sarawakiana@2)
Here's a couple cyclists in Indiana carrying something I haven't seen in a while - old style steel milk cans. My aunt and uncle used these when they milked cows. I don't know if these cans are full or not. Empty, a milk can weighs about 20 pounds, so they would each be carrying about 40 pounds. The cans hold 10 gallons, and whole milk weighs 8.6 pounds per gallon, so that's 86 pounds per can for the milk. If they are full, each cyclist would be hauling 212 pounds.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday Video - Hidden Motor Demonstration with Greg LeMond

Femke Van den Driessche prior to being busted for mechanical doping
Allegations of "mechanical doping," or the use of hidden electric motors in professional cycling have been around since 2010. It wasn't until 2016 that there was a confirmed case of this type of cheating. Femke Van den Driessche was competing in the women's under 23 competition at the Cyclocross World Championship when officials noticed wires coming out of her bike. For this she earned a six year ban from professional cycling.

In this short (under a minute) video, three time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond shows a bicycle with a hidden motor. I had always wondered if these motors were powerful enough to actually make much difference. As you will see, the motor makes the rear wheel spin at a pretty good clip. LeMond says it can deliver 250 watts for a half hour. That's pretty significant. While Mark Cavendish might generate over 1500 watts in a sprint, a typical pro cyclist will max out around 400 watts over a one hour time period.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Weird Bike Wednesday - Dutch Bicycle Bus

Pedal powered Dutch bicycle bus (photo courtesy of treehugger)
This Dutch school bus is designed to hold one adult bus driver and up to 11 kids age twelve or younger. It also has an electric motor for those times when the pedal power just isn't enough. These buses are manufactured by a Dutch company called Tolkamp Metaalspecials. In a 2012 interview, the company said they had sold a little over 20 in Europe, and ha inquiries from around the world.

At around $15,000 these pedal powered buses aren't cheap. They also leave the kids exposed to the weather. One of the bus options is a waterproof storage box for the kids' backpacks. They don't offer any kind of shelter for the kids themselves in case of inclement weather.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Touring Tuesday - Bike with Panniers

Arkel bags are great for touring
I found this photo out on Pinterest, and thought I would comment on it since it looks pretty similar to my touring arrangement. The panniers are all from Arkel. These are top of the line panniers. They aren't cheap, but they are made in North America of top quality materials and have a lifetime guarantee. The front panniers are the GT-18 model. There is also a GT-18BP, which looks the same, but can convert to a backpack. The mesh pockets on the outside are places where you can put items that need to dry out while you are riding. When doing an overnight ride, I put a change of clothes, shampoo and other items I need when taking a shower in the front right pannier. Then when I get into the campground, I just take the one pannier with me to the showers.

The rear panniers are Arkel GT-54 models. The first thing you notice about them is the left and right panniers are not identical. The right pannier has a long tube at the rear. This is for long items like tent poles or Thermarest pads. It's detachable, so you can remove it if you don't need it. There are plenty of pockets on these. I always used the lower outer pocket on the left rear pannier for my lock, keys and wallet. That way I can quickly lock the bike and get my wallet whenever I stopped somewhere.

If you have bulky items that don't fit into the panniers, you can use bungee cords to secure them to the top if the rear rack.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Indy's Brian Payne to be Keynote Speaker at Interbike

Brian Payne standing beside the Cultural Trail
Interbike, the bicycle industry's national trade show, will open on Wednesday. Brian Payne will be the keynote speaker. Brian is President and CEO of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, and was also the driving force behind Indy's Cultural Trail. Here's what Tim Blumenthal of People for Bikes said:

The success of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is indisputable, as the bike business, general local business and property values have all increased since it was completed. We need retailers to attend this session to not just learn about what Brian and the city of Indianapolis did, but to come away with ideas on how similar trails or projects can be created across the country to boost local businesses and get more people on bikes.

The problem with having your project becoming a big hit like the Cultural Trail is "What do you do for an encore?" To find out what what he's looking at next, check out this article in Indianapolis Monthly.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Photo - Alligator Bicycle Seat Cover

An alligator seat cover for your bicycle
Are you looking to make your bike stand out from the others? This alligator seat cover should do the trick. It is made from 100% acrylic yarn and can be found on Etsy. If you are a fan of the Florida Gators, you will have to get one of these. On the Etsy site it says these are sold out, but I bet if you asked Kalleen (the artist) she would be glad to make one for you.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thursday Video - Mackinac Island Bike Ride

Riding downtown on Mackinac Island
This week's video shows some of the cycling on Mackinac Island, located in Lake Huron. Since no cars are allowed on the island, people get around by horses, bicycles and walking. The most popular cycling route is M-185, which goes around the perimeter of the island. It's 8.2 miles long and offers views of Lake Huron on one side, and the island on the other. Most of the island is part of Mackinac Island State Park. Along the way you can see geological sites like Arch Rock, Devil's Kitchen and Skull Cave. The route also takes you past a historical site known as British Landing. When the War of 1812 broke out, British forces in Canada took advantage of Fort Mackinac's isolation. They landed at the north end of the island and stealthily moved towards the fort on the south end. Before the American defenders even knew there was a war going on, the British had surrounded the fort and demanded their surrender. The British took the fort without firing a shot.

There are a lot of bicycle rental places on the island, but I would recommend taking your own. At busy times your choice of bikes might be pretty limited. They also rent Burley trailers and Trail-A-Bikes for kids. Here's the video:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Weird Bike Wednesday - Flatbed Truck Bicycle

Perfect for hauling bulky items
Here's the flatbed truck bicycle. It's an odd looking bicycle designed to transport bulky loads. It has a flat bed with a recumbent seat in the front left corner. There are four wheels underneath, and the crank and pedals are out in front. It was made by an Australian company called Trisled. They say they use it to transport bulky items around their factory and to their contractors. In 2010 it was apparently for sale to the public. Currently, it is not on their website. Instead they offer their maxi flatty, which appears to have a much smaller flat bed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Touring Tuesday - On Hannibal's Trail

Crossing the Trebbia River with bicycles instead of elephants
The Wood brothers from Australia, came up with the idea of following Hannibal's route from Spain through the Alps into Italy while making a documentary. The documentary would simultaneously tell the story of Hannibal's march and their bicycle ride. Two years later they started filming for the BBC.

Hannibal's father fought in the First Punic War. His attack would start the Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome. To get into Italy, Hannibal had to cross the Alps with an army that consisted of thousands of infantry and cavalry, and 37 war elephants. Despite having a smaller army, he inflicted three major defeats on the Romans in the first three years of the war. The third one, the Battle of Cannae, is considered his masterpiece. Using his superiority in cavalry, he surrounded and annihilated a much larger Roman army.

During their tour, the Wood brothers visit the battlefields, along with other relevant sites. At the starting point of their journey (Cartagena, Spain) they visit the Punic Wall Museum, which shows the ancient fortifications around the city. It should be noted that there is no agreement by scholars on Hannibal's exact route. This topic was discussed in a recent issue of National Geographic. Here's a short video about the Wood brothers' documentary:

Monday, September 11, 2017

Alberto Contador Goes Out in Style with Stage 20 Win at Vuelta a Espana

Alberto Contador celebrates his stage victory
Alberto Contador announced that he would retire from professional cycling at the conclusion of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana. Since the race is one of cycling's three grand tours, and in his home country of Spain, fans were cheering him on during the entire race. Contador is one of only six cyclists to win all three grand tours (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana). 2017 had been a tough year for Alberto, with no stage wins and a ninth place finish in the Tour de France.

Things didn't start off well at the Vuelta, and Contador lost several minutes in the first week of the three week race. He seemed to get stronger in weeks two and three, launching numerous attacks. Chris Froome, the leader and eventual winner, was able to match most of these, but on stage 17, Contador gained some time on the other contenders with a second place stage finish. He attacked again on stage 18, but was caught by Froome and others before reaching the finish line.

Stage 20 was the toughest of this year's Vuelta. After two category 1 climbs, it culminated with an out of category climb up Alto de L'Angliru. Considered by some the toughest climb in professional cycling, Contador took off early on the final climb, eventually passing all of those who were part of an earlier breakaway. The climb is nearly eight miles long, with an average gradient of 10%. Portions of it are over 20% grade, maxing out at 23.6% on the steepest section. Chris Froome had over three minutes on Contador, so he was cautious, not wanting to risk cracking and losing the overall victory. At one time Contador held a one minute 20 second lead over Froome and the other contenders. As they got closer to the summit, Froome and his Team Sky teammate Wout Poels mounted a charge, but Alberto managed to hang on and win the stage by 17 seconds. After finishing, Froome, who had just clinched his first Vuelta overall win, congratulated Contador.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday Photo - Atomic Bicycle Rack

I'm not a fan of nuclear energy, but I like this bike rack
Here's an interesting bike rack out in front of the Milton J. Rubinstein Museum of Science & Technology in Syracuse, New York. It depicts an atom with electrons flying around. There are three electrons flying around, so this must be a lithium atom.

I know this will offend some cyclists, but I find most bicycle racks to be eyesores. I think anyone installing a bike rack should invest more money and come up with something that is more attractive than the basic bicycle rack. Check out the Dero Bicycle Rack page for ideas. They have one shaped like a bicycle, you can spell out words in letters, add your custom logo to a rack, or come up with your own personal design.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thursday Video - Copenhagen Bike Paths: An Example to All Cities

Copenhagen uses bicycle counters to record the number of cyclists passing by a given point
Here is a 2010 video about cycling in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark. The metropolitan area has a population of over two million, making it a little larger than Indianapolis. The technology they deploy for cycling is impressive. They have:
  • Automatic counters to measure the amount of bicycle traffic
  • For over 3 miles into the city center, stoplights are synchronized for cyclists. If you maintain a steady 12 miles per hour, you should not have to stop at all.
  •  At some stoplights, bicycles get a green light a few seconds before the cars. This allows the cyclists to get moving by the time the cars are starting to move.
  •  To reduce accidents at intersections where a car turns right and hits a bicycle going straight, there are flashing LED lights to warn drivers there is a cyclist comping up behind them in the bike lane.
  •  They have locked, on street parking for cargo bikes, which are linger than standard bicycles.
37% of commuters to work or school use bicycles. Some of their bike lanes are double, so faster cyclists can pass slower ones without moving into the automobile lanes. One of the streets shown in the video is considered to be the busiest cycling street in the western world.

The narrator for this video is Mikael Colville-Anderson, who was born in Canada. He is listed as Denmark's Bicycle Ambassador, but that is not a formal government post. He is an expert on urban design and mobility.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Weird Bike Wednesday - Volkswagen Think Blue Electric Bike

Volkswagen's Think Blue Electric Bike at the 2010 Auto China Show
This week's weird bike is a folding electric bicycle from the automaker Volkswagen. It was shown at a Chinese car show in 2010. The the video below you can see Volkswagen's Chief of Research & Development riding it around. It folds up pretty easily to about the size of a spare tire. In this video, a guy unfolds one and gets it ready in about 45 seconds. The only bad thing about it is there are no pedals. It only runs off  a battery.

I have not been able to find any recent information about the Think Blue Electric Bike, although Volkswagen has continued the Think Clue program. Anyway, here's the video:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Touring Tuesday - Bed and Breakfasts Near the Cardinal Greenway.

Cyclists outside the McDowell-Nearing House Bed and Breakfast in Muncie
Looking for a short cycling vacation not too far away? Consider this idea. The Cardinal Greenway is Indiana's longest bike trail. Why not stay at a bed and breakfast near the Cardinal Greenway, and spend a couple days biking and a few local attractions. The Greenway runs from Richmond through Muncie and on to Marion. Here are some bed and breakfasts along the way:


Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Photo - Cyclists with the World's Largest Aardvark

Cyclists in front of the world's largest aardvark
This week's photo features cyclists in front of the world's largest aardvark. This photo comes from the website This photo was taken on a bicycle trip from Victoria Falls to Cape Town. The aaradvark is made of concrete and is apparently used to mark the entrance to Planet Baobab in Botswana. Planet Baobab offers luxury accommodations and safaris (according to their website).