Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Community Activism

I went to the follow up to the Mayor's safety summit tonight,  and I will try to do a full post on it later.
It was a good meeting,  attended by about 50 people,  most of whom looked pretty familiar from bike events and other community meetings I've been to.
 One of the guys who is at most of these things, stood up and said 1) There has been a real sea change in how public institutions think about bikes in Boston, and 2) We, the bike community need to keep the pressure up and keep creating political pressure to get the infrastructure improvements and cultural changes we need to make the streets safer and more pleasant.

And I agree.  While I still don't feel that have visionary leadership (other than Nichole Friedman) in Mass Dot and the other transpo organizations,  at least they aren't actively hostile to bikes anymore.

And while it's great that there are 50 people who make it a priority to spend their Wednesday nights at meetings like this, we need to have 500.     So please, if you bike in Boston, and want better infrastructure,  mark your calendars,  next Wednesday night, October 6th from 6:30 to 8:30,  a public meeting about the Longfellow bridge reconstruction at MGH:  Information here.   This is a vital link between Boston and Cambridge/ Somerville,  and they're unlike to redesign it again in our lifetimes.   There's a viable proposal to remove a traffic lane to create good sidewalks and good bike paths in both directions,  it just needs support.

Come out to tell the planners and engineers, that we, the public, the taxpayers, are bikers and pedestrians, not just drivers, and we deserve consideration and safer facilities!

Pie Plate problems

As I mentioned earlier, I spent most of Sunday, taking Gilbert's chaincase off.
I love the simplicity of the IGH, and the dependability of the roller brake,  and the protection of the chain case, but boy does that make it a PITA to remove the rear wheel.

I have gotten reasonably good at removing the brake cable (made complicated by the fact that I'm missing the proprietary nut that the brake uses, and have a funky multiple washers plus banjo bolt setup).  Removing the gear cable is also reasonably simple now.  But to remove the chaincase itself, I had to take off the cottered crank.  Even though I have the fancy tool from Bikesmith, it's still really tough.  I bent over the cotter trying to press it out,  and then I had to hacksaw the bent end off, drill a hole down into it,  put a punch into the hole and drive it out with a hammer.
Not fun.  But I did take off the chaincase, and enlarged the rear hole that I think was causing resistance at the back.  I also shifted it back 5/16" of an inch, so that it would be more centered on the crank instead of shifted forward.  I'd like to add a couple of tiny brackets to hold it to the brackets brazed onto the frame, but it was not to happen this weekend.

But at the end of Sunday it was all relubed, reassembled and ready to go, except for the pieplate.
This is not the kind of plastic disk that goes behind the sprockets on a 70's road bike, but rather the center piece that covers the chainring on the chaincase.  I left it off, partly intentionally, partly because I forgot until I already had too much of things re-assembled.  But now that winter is coming, I felt it would be better protection for the chain if I had it on.   So I put it into place- and couldn't get it to snap in!.
I tried and tried, but it was like putting a tire with a really stiff bead on a rim.  I'd get it seated all the way around, and as I pulled the final bit into position: snap, it would come out on the other side.

Finally I got almost every clamp I owned and clamped that sucker down, so that it couldn't pop out.

I think it's in,  I'm nervous about riding it in, in case something comes loose or isn't adjusted properly,  so I'll take a lot more tools in this morning than I normaly would.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lovely day for a ride

The Scientist drove to a retreat/ conference last weekend, so I went everywhere by bike.
I started the morning meeting a friend whose husband was at the same conference at the ICA for "family day"( Free admission)  I wonder if her husband will care that his daughter had two mommies today :)?

I picked up some medicine at the vet first, and so came into the Kendall area via Inman Hampshire,  which I don't normally do.  There were tons of bikes out-  especially for a weekend morning, enjoying the bike lane down Hampshire.  It was a bit odd to ride into the city along my normal route in the low traffic of a Saturday morning.  The traffic has a completely different rhythm- moves faster, but in smaller less frequent groups of cars.  Lots of tourists in downtown, including this couple touring by tandem.

Still, more relaxing than normal, and it's always fun to go over the wooden bridge to Fan Pier
Unfortunately there were NO bicycle racks.  I asked the security guard why not, as they're required on new construction.  He said that they had moved them out of the way for a charity walk this morning.  I'm skeptical, but didn't feel like making more of a fuss.  The building is always fun, but the art was a bit beyond the 2 1/2 year old.  She kept asking "Why?"  and the answers were a bit too complicated.

So we headed off to Haymarket where I bought some figs and some limes and some tuna.  The tuna was only $3 a pound which is kind of crazy. I wouldn't eat it as tartare, but for preserving I think it will be ideal. I bought 2 1/2 pounds and canned it in olive oil.  I did a bit of this last year, and it was sure tasty.  I also bought 12 pints of figs,  which cooked down over time to 6 pints of fig preserves.  Fig preserves being the Scientist's favorite for PB&J's,  I have taken to preserving it in Pints instead of half-pint jelly jars, and may have to buy another flat of figs while the figs are cheap (12 pints for $12)
Tuna on the right, fig jam on the left.

I rode along the river home, and there were tons of people out enjoying summer's last hurrah
I dropped the goods  off at home,  and took a couple of knives that needed to be sharpened off to Stoddards in Newton (almost all the way out to Harris).  I dropped my favorite knife into the sink, and it needs the best professional attention to fix the bent tip.

I've been re-re-reading the Baroque trilogy (for which I blame Rose read) and there's lots in there about steel and forging weapons, so it was interesting to wander around their shop while I waited for someone to take my knives into custody.

On the way back, I was feeling the urge to thrift, but needed to pick up some essentials,  so I cut across Watertown,  hit up Target and headed across Cambridge to Rasperry Beret.
I LOVE my rack straps, which I can detach to loop through things- like this container of bleach.
Passing through my old stomping grounds of Huron Village, I stopped at the bank, and noticed this lovely dark blue Raleigh.  I don't think I've ever seen a Raleigh in this color before, and I was messing with the rear wheel trying to determine the age, when it's owner walked up.  

I was a bit sheepish, when she said she didn't think I looked like a bike thief,  and I explained about SA hubs and bike dating.  She said that she thought it was late 70's,  and I was too embarrassed to ask more, but told her I thought it was lovely (and it was, with its gumwalls and fantastic chainguard).  
She hopped on (in a bubble skirt and gladiator sandals) and rode off.
Sadly I didn't find anything at the vintage shop,  and headed home after a long day of travelling, to work further on lacing up Minerva's new wheel.  But more on that later.
All in all, a lovely day spent in the saddle.

busy busy busy

Sorry I haven't posted much-  Rode all over everywhere on Saturday and then spent most of Sunday taking apart and re-assembling Gilbert's drivetrain. Whew- just thinking about it makes me crabby.

I have mostly finished the wheel build for Minerva- needs another evening of fine-tuning the truing, but otherwise pretty much done.  Of course I still have to figure out how to attach the brake hub  to the rod brake mechanism which is going to require some fabrication.

Work has been super nutty too, so I'm not finding a lot of extra time to blog.  Will try to rectify that soon- sorry!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pigeon Sighting

Flying Pigeon USA has gotten some press lately for importing roadsters made for the Chinese market.
These bikes, modeled on british Roadsters like my DL-1 were the bike of the proletariat for much of the 20th century.  They're currently falling from favor in China, where the growing consumer market equates cars with material success,  but they've found some market here.
There are two Flying Pigeon retailers here, one in NYC and one in LA, and I hadn't actually seen a real live one in Boston until this weekend.  I was racing home on Sunday, but had to stop and check it out.

The verdict:  Looks a lot like  DL-1 Roadster.  I'm not sure I would make the choice to buy a new bike with rod brakes, myself, even though I love the old bikes I have.    Every time I stop Gilbert in the rain, I'm glad for advances in braking technology.  I wonder if the Chinese could better retain their transportation bicycle culture if they had comfortable elegant bikes with better technology?
I like the chrome rack a lot, and wonder if they'd sell me one- I had emailed them once looking for a rack for Minerva, without luck.

 I'm not sure what the attachment at the front is for.  It seems like a basket support, but it has this odd loop on one side.

A lot of the parts of the bike look a bit cheap (the tires, the paint, the saddle)  but I do like the headbadge.  I'm sure part of it is the humor of a different cultural view of pigeons, but I also think it's cheerful and dynamic.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Magic Carpet Saddle

It's definitely eye catching- not sure that it's functional/comfortable/durable.
After I'd moved on, I wondered if it was meant to be a rain cover/ removed when you ride.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


This spring, after a tragic bike accident, there was a "bike Safety Summit"  and lots of big high muckity mucks came and listened to the bike community's concerns.  It was nice, but I didn't expect anything to really come of it.
However, I just got this in the email:


Thank you for attending Mayor Menino’s Bike Safety Summit in August.  We hope you will attend our follow-up safety summit. Details are as follows:

Wednesday September 29th, 6-8 PM,
BRA Board Room, 1 City Hall Plaza, 9th Floor, Boston , MA . 

Please join the City of Boston Transportation Department, Police, EMS as well as the Boston Public Health Commission, MassDOT and the MBTA to follow-up on safety issues discussed in our August summit.  Each department will present on changes made since the last summit followed by a question and answer session.

Due to space issues, RSVP is required by Monday September 27, 2010 at 5 PM

Contact: Nicole Freedman, 617 918

I'm impressed that there will be follow up, and I'm interested in hearing what the departments have to say.
 If you are too- RSVp using the link above and we'll see you next Wednesday night.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Inflammatory headline

"Bicyclist arrested after allegedly threatening woman at Braintree Mall"

I would have been content with either "Bicyclist arrested after allegedly threatening Driver at ..."
or "Man arrested after allegedly threatening woman at.."

Sounds like the guy was a bit of a nutcase (why was he carrying a big knife to begin with?)  but either the means of transportation was relevant (did she cut him off and was there was reckless driving involved)  or it's not (and he was just unbalanced in a way unrelated to his mode of transport.  Having it in the headline just serves to signify that bicyclists are "other",  different, theatening and just not like "us".

I didn't even look at the comments, I knew they would be full of vitriol,  and I don't need that this early in the morning.  In this case, the headline writer might be responsible for some of the hate.

Fair and balanced...

Worse before it gets better...

There's been an unfortunate development on my commute.

They've been jackhammering up what passes for a sidewalk on the last 100 feet of  the boston bound, boston end of the Longfellow bridge. While they work, they have closed the bike lane and one lane of  car traffic.   They did some work on the Cambridge bound side a couple of weeks ago, and closed the bike lane during that time.    I had some communication with the DOT about needing signage about bike facilities even on short duration projects,  like that one, and it was heeded on this project, as they put up a "Bikes may use full lane " sign.

  It's still pretty grim, and I just merge into traffic and wait as patiently as I can while we inch along.  I have seen a lot of bikers lane splitting (betweeen two lanes of traffic)  and doing dangerous filtering (between big trucks and a jersey barrier).
I mean- come on- would you try to squeeze through that spot?

I think we as bikers need to realize that part of being a vehicle on the road means that sometimes, you just have to be stuck in traffic too.

The "sidewalk" that they're replacing is a really lousy excuse for a walkway- about 18" wide- and it gets a TON of foot traffic from people trying to cross the river.   Unfortunately it looks like they're going to widen it at expense of the bike lane, at least for now.  It's unfortunate when human powered traffic is forced to fight over the crumbs of space left over by car traffic.

 I know that with a historic bridge  structure, they can't easily widen the main span sidewalk,  but  the part that's so awful is actually a modern addition or replacement,  and I think that it could be adjusted to allow a better sidewalk AND a bike lane.
looking back- the historic section starts back at that tower

 There is going to be a lot of work on this bridge,  and it's going to get worse (as it is at the moment) before it really gets better.  Still, I am hopeful that the long term plan and the end result will be a big improvement over the alternatives.  In the mean time, if this construction goes on for a while, I'm going to have to consider other options, probably crossing on the Mass Ave bridge and cutting through Back Bay.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Double Wide

I had packed my lunch and other essentials*  in my normal bag and was almost out the door, when I remembered that it was CSA day.  Instead of transferring everything into my big pannier, I decided, at risk of looking like a bike geek, to put the big pannier on the other side.  And then,-to make it an extra wide load I piled on a tube of leather that I need to mail back to where I got it because it's the wrong color.

And I was sure glad that I brought both, because I filled the big pannier to overflowing, and had to put the tomatoes in the small one, AND leave my jacket at work.
This was what the CSA haul looked like this week:

A Giant cauliflower (my favorite fall veggie), two winter squash, 4 tomatoes, baby bok choi, a cabbage,   salad mix, purple basil, 5 poblano peppers, onions, eggs and  a gaggle of small sweet yellow peppers.

The chaos in the fridge is reaching epidemic proportions, so last night we had Pizza night, AKA clean out the fridge night.  My pizza featured olive oil, garlic, halved grapes, a bit of chorizo, a bit of bacon and a couple of types of blue cheese ends.  YUM!  The best thing about pizza night is that it uses up the tasty bits that otherwise aren't enough to do something with, but are perfect as a minor player in a pizza.  Also it allows me and the Scientist to go in completely different directions with the same base ingredients.

Continuing the "clear the decks" mentality, we had yet another summer pasta tonight
1 red pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper, 3 cobs worth of corn kernels, 2 tomatoes, chopped, 1 tbs butter, 2 cloves garlic,  a handful of frozen shrimp, and a couple of threads of saffron.  Served over WW pasta with a generous garnish of chopped parsley and basil. Late summer on a plate.
No picture because we gobbled it down before I could think of recording it, but worth remembering.

* everyday essentials include:   a multi-tool,  a linen hankie, zipties, 5mm nuts,  tinted lip balm, phone, wallet and keys.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Don't mess with my lights!

One of the few downsides of generator powered lights with standlights, is that I get a lot of comments from helpful bystanders telling me that "You left your lights on!"

I choose to take this as a teaching moment, telling people about how there's a capacitor that stores the energy generated through the wheel and it will turn itself off in a couple of minutes.  Or the executive summary "generator- no batteries!"

I saw this bike parked downtown (I actually see it a lot- it's hard to miss and is generally parked in the same place). But it was parked in a new place, that I walk by instead of biking by, so I stopped to investigate.

This person must have had some incidents with people trying to "turn off" his (why do I assume it's a "he"?)  generator powered lights, because he took action!
Both front and back lights are labeled with a sign saying 'Light has auto off" 

Funny- this bike started life as a Phillips light roadster.  It's hardly recognizable as anything except a hard- core commuter now.  Someone over time has made this into a uniquely personalized vehicle.  It doesn't meet my definition of lovely,  but I can definitely recognize that it's perfectly adapted to its owner's needs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Time for Tights

It was lovely this morning- the radio proclaimed 61 while I was getting dressed. After a trip and a couple of bouts with insomnia, I finally slept well in my own bed- it  was perfect "sleeping weather" with the windows flung open- just cool enough to be tucked in under a light blanket.

I decided to break out a pair of harlequin tights that I bought what seems like months ago, and which have been waiting for it to be cool enough.  The nice thing about opaque tights is that it no longer matters how high your skirt hitches up, you're still covered!   Tights of various weights are a real fall and winter staple for for me, because they still breathe when I get warm, but  are just enough warmer than bare legs when I venture out into the chill of the morning.

Yes, they're a bit wild,  but paired with a simple black dress (and probably better with a pair of non- T strap shoes)  they were the perfect shot of color to catapult me through one of those busy post-vacation day days.  I got lots of comments on them, ranging from "rawr" from the office manager to "nice stockings" from another rider.

Made by You and US

Sorry for the brief hiatus, was on a non-cycling quick trip to visit my Mom who had some minor surgery.
Am back in Boston and hopefully back to posting more regularly!  For the moment some bike love:

I've seen the Republic bikes online,  and there's been lots of discussion about the putative quality based on a couple of photos.
I finally saw one "in the wild"  and although I don't know that it was the colors I would choose, it looked like a pretty decent option.

My (non-biking) friend who stopped while I took pictures, commented on how she liked the front and rear racks, and how it was cool you could pick the colors.

And it is nice to have a loop frame option, even if the welds are unlovely.
Finally this one doesn't seem to fit the owner well, or the owner isn't very comfortable biking, as the saddle looks smushed down to the lowest possible setting.  Hopefully it's the latter, and as their confidence grows, they can "grow into" the frame.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Almost right

The Daily Beast had an article about the new urban cycling wave.  Unlike most articles about tranportational cycling, which you have to read with a "glass half full" attitude, I thought this one was absolutely great until the next to last paragraph.  The words "cycle Chic" do not appear anywhere in the article,  and there's a lot of focus on the improvements in infrastructure in cities like Chicago and NYC.  (no mention of Boston)

It was so good, I just wish the author (the owner of Public cycles in SF) had left out this one sentence
"Women are more concerned with style than speed."  Some women perhaps.  Others are more concerned with practicality than speed,  safety than speed, convenience than speed.  And of course there are some women who are speed demons and don't give a flip for style.  Not to go into the issue of men who are interested in style (practicality, convenience, safety)

I appreciate that he appreciates how women are embracing bicycles as part of a healthy balanced life, and that women feel able to disregard the bicycle commuter stereotype in favor of riding their bikes wherever they happen to be going, in the clothes they happen to be wearing.   I'll choose to ignore the implication that bikes are a trend, like Yoga.

And I agree with his last sentence:
 "one thing is certain: everybody looks and feels better on a bicycle."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Not a bad start

Despite a groggy morning (stayed up too late reading over the weekend and managed to shift my internal clock), it was a pretty good day for the first day after a holiday weekend.

I had good defined goals for the morning,  and a simple, relatively brainless drafting task to occupy the afternoon.  And then the fun started.

I had an interesting conversation with my co-worker P- about the differences in fitting your bike when you wear shoes with different thickness soles.  I know some people have a lot of problems with this,  I don't know if I'm just more loosey goosey than most, but this has never really been a problem for me.  I seem to be able to segue from platform espradilles to thin soled leather with hardly a hiccup.  I do however really notice awkwardness when I cycle in my (very comfortable for walking) Dansko clogs, and other flat-ish shoes.  I find that I drive my foot "home" more often in these shoes, and end up with the pedal under the arch of my foot instead of the heel.
Then on my way home, a random woman in the crosswalk complimented my (leopard print) shoes WITHOUT making a comment about how I happened to be riding a bike in them.

Finally, I met a very nice gentleman P__who was riding almost exactly the same route as I was.  He was a bit of a shadow most of the way down Cambridge, glimpsed out of the corner of my eye.  I finally turned and realized he was riding a lovely mint condition Phillips, which I complimented.  After we ended up tracking together all the way over the Longfellow, and onto the bike path, we rode together to Trader Joe's.

P__  works down the street from me, and just moved to Mid-Cambridge from Back Bay, so he bought a bike for his longer commute. He bought his 1955 Phillips from Cambridge Used Bicycle (instead of getting a generic BSO somewhere).  He is T-averse, so I encouraged him that it's completely possible to bike through most of the winter.    His bike is in fantastic condition, really lovely.

 It has something that I've never seen before, a rear dynamo hub!  He doesn't know if it works or not, and plans to go to Quad bikes to try to buy a light for it tomorrow.  He says that he's been exploring Cambridge by taking a different turn off the river every night.  He has just discovered the cycle track on Vassar, and was excited when I told him that there was potentially going to be another all along Western Ave.

I'm happy to see someone starting cycling with all the right pieces in place.  Given how dark it was when I was leaving TJ's, I hope he gets some lights tomorrow,  and hopefully we'll see each other at a biking or  Livable Streets event or just on the bike path in the future!

Very interesting article (updated)

I enjoy Felix Salmon, even though I don't always agree with him.
He wrote an interesting post about biking, which while somewhat specific to NYC (where salmon are truly an epidemic, instead of the occasional nuisance they are here), is a worthwhile read
While many of the commentators (and I as well) disagree with him about lane splitting-AKA filtering,  the thing that is interesting to me is the idea of bikes using a pedestrian mindset, and therefore drivers not being able to process bikes as a third category.

After a day to think about it, and leisure to re-read it more thoroughly, I agree with the entire article until it gets to the "update" and the comments.  Although the comments are much more intelligent than your average bike story,  I think that Felix is wrong about insisting that bikes must keep to the far right and not "impede traffic".  NY State law as quoted in the comments is actually quite progressive in that is specifically addresses a lane too narrow to safely share as a reason not to ride to the far right, but still he asserts that it's the duty of the cyclist to stay right.
If you're a regular here, you know how I feel about "filtering",  but I have to say based on my very brief Manhattan cycling experience- lanes on the big avenues are wider than in Boston, so it's safer to filter, and it's safer to "lanesplit" and allow cars to pass in the same lane, so it might be a context sensitive debate.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sounds of the city

Although there are a lot of sounds of the city I could probably live without (garbage trucks at 6:30AM, drunken students at 2AM), sometimes living close to your neighbors has its rewards.
A couple of houses down there's a guy who sits in his backyard and plays the accordion.
It feels so civilized to sit on the porch and listen to him play tonight, after a long day laboring painting the fence.


I know that having a hub with one drilling and a rim with another is the classic newbie wheelbuilder mistake, so I just brought Minerva's front wheel in to Harris with me when I went to pick up the hub.  I specifically asked if the new hub had 32 holes, and they said yes,  so I didn't bother to count them myself.
Until of course, I had cut all the old spokes  and the hub out, and laced up 7 of the new spokes, and it didn't add up.... grrrr.

After a bit of research online, it seems this hub only comes in 36, so I can't just exchange it.
Will have to talk to Yellow Jersey about one of their 36 hole 28" rims...
I guess the moral of the story is that you need to count the holes yourself before destroying a perfectly good old wheel.  And they only sold me 32 spokes, so I'll need to get four more.

So much for getting all the lacing done this weekend..

One initial thought is that wheel lacing is a lot like knitting.  You have a set of configurations, and you vary them in a regular pattern, counting the spaces between them.  The tensioning thing at the end makes me a little nervous, but we'll see when we get there.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bikes in Spaaaaaace

Ok, just on the wall:

After much research, and two trips to the Container Store, I found a wall mounted rack to hang the Lady's Tourist and the Dawn Tourist in a semi- used corner of the basement.   A bike on the ground takes up so much space, that I kept stumbling over the bikes when trying to re-organize all the stuff that's been outside under a tarp during the basement renno.

So, after an hour of drilling holes, there they are.  I lined up the bottoms of the bikes about 6" off the floor, you can see how much longer (almost 1') the Lady's Tourist is than the Dawn.

I also had a mild attack of Shipwright's disease, and decided the change the front brake shoes on the 1938 Lady's Tourist, hereforto known as Agnes (I've been playing with names, and somehow this is the only one that's stuck).  I bought Fibrax pads at Harris, and have spent a fair bit of time messing with Minerva's  pads, so I thought it would be straightforward.

And it was, although not at all like Minerva.  Minerva has a set of stays that clamp onto the fork with a post sticking out.  The brake shoe itself bolts into a carrier, which slides up and down on that post as it's pulled up and down by the stirrup. The post is angled such that when you stop pulling the stirrup, the brakes slide down and away from the rim.
  Agnes has a completely different, and to my eyes, better system.

She has a spring and lever arm that fit onto studs brazed onto the inner face of the fork. The spring and the lever arm are kept concentric with a funny little "bung" or interior washer.  The springs pull the pads away from the rim when you release pressure on the brakes.  I don't know how they compare in effectiveness, but they're a lot easier to deal with when adjusting and replacing the pads.

I think that I've discovered that a 9mm wrench fits these Whitworth bolts well enough to not round them.  Unfortunately I only have a 9mm socket, not a box wrench, so I'm a bit nervous about really cranking on it, without being able to see if I'm rounding it.  I think I need to buy a 9mm wrench (easier than buying a whitworth set -which I've considered, now that I have three rod brake bikes!!)  Fortunately the replacement Fibrax pads are 8mm, so the only thing that is a real problem is the bolt on the rod itself.

Once I had the new pads in, I adjusted them by pushing them hard against the rim with the rod connection loosened, and then tightened the rod connection so that the shoes are "just" clear of the rim when the brakes aren't engaged.  I didn't have time to take it for a test ride, but I noticed that they may be too tight, as when wheeling it across the room, it catches a bit.  Wheel must not be radially true.  But that's a project for another day...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Black Beauty

This somewhat sad looking black bike made me think of the story of Black Beauty.

For those unfamiliar, a horse (the primary transportation of the era) begins life in the stables of a wealthy family, where he is loved and well cared for,  then through a series of accidents and reversals of fortune becomes the property of "lesser" people and is treated more and more poorly, until he collapses, bound for the glue factory.
Being a Victorian melodrama, there's lots of moralizing about the evils of drink, and presumptions about class and status and moral character, and of course a happy ending, where the horse in his darkest hour is rescued by the child of his first owner, and lives out the rest of his days in luxury.

Someone brought this shiny new Triumph home from the store,  and affixed the license plate which now hangs forlornly.  Was it a birthday present?  Someone's first "grown up bike"?  Did it ride a paper route, or go to the beach? What kind of adventures has it been through and carried its owners on?

Now the paint is getting rusty, and I think, based on seeing it several times, that it's locked to that post 24/7, which doesn't bode well for its future survival.

Sentimentally, Iwish I could take all these poor old bikes and restore them to their former glory, or at least find clean dry places for them to live out the rest of their years, allowing them to be steady safe transportation for another generation of owners in the future.  Boston is blessed with so many vintage transportation bikes, but I wish there were more people who valued and cared for them instead of wearing them into the ground and then discarding them.

starry bike

What first caught my eye was a sparkle from the stick on jewel stars

And then when I moved around to the side, you can see (faintly) a whole constellation on the frame

It looks like it has a front hub brake-? That seems unusual for a cruiser bike, but I don't know much about cruisers.  It also has this unusual rear spoke decoration, that I think is supposed to be a lightning bug and light up (with batteries?)

No riding for me today, as we're due to get nasty weather this evening!  Don't want to end up like Elmira Gulch flying up into the air!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fueled by a Fast Feminine Force

At the hardware store in Central:
This triangle decoration pretty much speaks for itself.

The other side. 

 It's painted on canvas and ziptied to the frame- someone spent some quality time making this.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

wheeling and chatting

Saw this group of young ladies walking down the street- half with bikes, half without, chatting and enjoying the lovely evening.  I bet they were headed to Berry Line with half the rest of the square.

I have no idea if they're students or not,  but a comment from Somervillan made me think about how all the students coming back seems like a big teaching moment on how to use the streets.  I wonder if the city bike committee does anything to try to raise awareness of how to bike safely that is specifically targeted to students.  They could have pamphlets at bike shops,  booths at student activities days etc.
I don't think it would be amiss to have a few targeted "enforcement actions"  to at least hand out warnings about red light running, salmoning, and ninja biking.

Every time I've been in Target the last couple of weeks it seems like I've seen someone wheeling a bike as part of their back to school shopping.  On one hand, I think this is a good sign that bikes are "back"  but on the other, I wish they were buying "real" bikes.  I just hope that the BSO's they buy are a gateway to the wide world of bicycling, and not a turnoff due to poor sizing, construction etc.

Fruit basket upset

Boston being a college town,  over time, something like 80% of the leases in the city turn on September first.  It's like a giant game of fruit basket upset,  and you can't get a Uhaul for love nor money (you can only rent a Uhaul for 4 hours today, not an all day thing).  There are huge piles of trash outside apartment buildings, and the scavengers have been picking up old tables abandonded IKEA furniture and all kinds of cookware.

It's traditional that someone today (usually a student) takes a Uhaul on Memorial drive, forgets that they're in a truck, and neglects the overheight vehicle warning signs and hits a bridge.   When I came back from the library last night, the pedestrian signal that had been on the corner of Putnam and Mt Auburn when I set out was  lying on the ground in pieces and there was a sheepish looking guy standing next to a Uhaul talking to a policeman. There's also crazy double parking, especially in Brookline and Allston.

Bottom line-  lots of people in big unfamiliar vehicles with blindspots driving in unfamiliar places.   Watch out- be extra careful,  take the time to let them go, and give them lots of space, expect them to pull stupid stuff- be safe out there!