Dave Moulton

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Monday
Jul162018

The American Dream

There used to be something called the American Dream. I’m not sure if it still exists, but I participated in it back in 1983.

I had arrived in the US just four years earlier in 1979. Before leaving England I had turned over everything had to my former wife and my children.

I literally came here with the clothes on my back, the luggage I carried was mostly the tools I needed to build bike frames.

I had a job at Paris Sport in New Jersey, and the owners Vic and Mike Fraysee paid my air fare, and I lived in Vic Fraysee’s basement. They even bought me work boots, jeans and other work clothes, because I only had the clothes I was wearing.

A year and a half later I left Paris Sport and took a job with Masi in San Marcos, California. I was by now not quite as poor as I was on arrival in America, and I was able to furnish a modest apartment and buy a car.

I worked for Masi for a little over a year, when the economy took a down turn, and this coincided with Masi being overstocked with several hundred frames I had built. Masi laid me off, but prior to that had allowed me to build my own frames in my spare time. This had helped my income, and I had built a relationship with a few bicycle dealers.

I could have collected unemployment, but would not on principal. I had not traveled 6,000 miles from England to stand in an unemployment line. Instead I came to an arrangement with Ted Kirkbride, the owner of the frameshop, and after a lot of cold phone calls to bike dealers all over the US, I started to get orders.

I was able to take an order for a custom frame, and deliver it in as little as two weeks, which was unheard of at the time. The dealer was able to make a mark-up on the frame, plus the components and charge for assembly.

It just so happened there was a little strip mall across the street from the Masi shop, and in a tiny retail space, there was a bank. (Just starting up.) I initially banked there because it was convenient, I could walk across the street.

Because the bank was so small, the manager sat at a desk just inside the front door, and as I was depositing checks almost daily, he struck up a conversation, and asked me what I did. This is how the relationship started and he told me the bank was building a brand new building just down the street.

By 1983 this new bank had opened, and it became obvious if my business was to grow I needed my own shop. The cost would be $30,000. I had saved $7,000 so needed a loan of $23,000. Here was the tricky part. Because I had only been in the US for four years, I had no credit rating. I could not even get a credit card.

I had bought a new car two years earlier and was paying that off. The reason I had bought a new car was because it was easier to get a new car financed than a used one.

Because I had built a relationship with this young bank manager, he loaned me the $23,000 on my signature alone. No credit rating, no collateral. I seem to remember I paid it off in a couple of years.

The $30,000 it cost to open my frame shop in 1983, would probably be $100,000 in today’s money. Would I have been able to do that today, under the same circumstances? Somehow I doubt it. Which is why I doubt the American Dream exists anymore.

 

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Monday
Jul092018

Relevant

If I tell a non cycling friend or neighbor that I rode my bicycle 25 or 30 miles, (40 to 48 km.) they are amazed. When I started cycling in England in the 1950s, ordinary working people would ride that far on a bike to get where ever they needed to be. It was their only means of transport.

I remember talking to an old man back in the 1970s. He spoke of riding his bike in the 1930s. He was a craftsman who made furniture, and once a week he would ride his bike from Worcester, England, to Stratford upon Avon, a round trip of fifty miles.

He would buy his materials, the wood he needed to make his furniture, and ride the 25 miles home with the lumber strapped to his bike, and to his back.

He told of one time he had a sheet of plywood tied to his back, and on the way home the wind caught it and lifted him from his bike and dumped him in the hedgerow.

A friend of mine from Charleston, South Carolina, near where I live now, told me how his grandmother would speak of her father, my friend’s great grandfather.

He took part in the American Civil War (1861 – 1865.) on the side of the Confederate Army. He was taken prisoner by the Northern Forces and held somewhere in Upstate New York. After the war he was released but not transported back. He walked over 900 miles (1448 km.) back to Charleston.

People will do whatever it takes to get where they need to be. When I was 16 years old, I rode my bike from Luton, just north of London, 90 miles (145 km.) one way and back the same day just to visit a bike shop in Birmingham. I remember the shop had a sale on tubular tires, and it seemed like no great feat at the time.

If an ordinary working man could ride 50 miles on a heavy roadster bike, then surely a trained racing cyclist on a lightweight bike could easily do four times the distance? Plus I rode with two other fit young cyclists. We shared the work load.

The 180 mile trip took us 12 hours. We set out at 5:00 am. and were back home that evening. Neither my friends nor I owned a car so we simply did what we needed to do, to get where we wanted to be, and back home again.

It was relevant to that time and era.

 

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Monday
Jul022018

Widras Bike Cover

Most bike enthusiasts I know own more than one bike, and most have a favorite one to ride, and the rest often spend their days gathering dust. This might be the answer to your storage problems for a surprisingly small amount of money.

A young enterprising neighbor of mine, who has a company called Widras, has a Bike Cover that is large enough to cover a motor cycle, it is waterproof and tear resistant, strong enough for outdoor use. Wind and rain, and all that.

Not that the bicycle enthusiasts I know store their bikes outside, but at a price one would expect to pay for a cheap cotton dust cover, you can hardly pass this up.

The Widras cover is just $14.97, from Amazon or $19.99 from Wall-Mart. Yes less than twenty bucks and free shipping. Plus it comes with a nice combination cable lock that is approximately 46 Inches long, (116 cm.) included in the price.

As this cover is big enough for a motorcycle, I figured it would cover three bicycles, so I lined up three of my own bikes, and the cover fitted perfectly. (See all the pictures above.)

My bikes are on the small side, but most bicycles are about the same length, (Wheelbase.) within an inch or two. Larger frames will be taller of course. But the cover has elastic at the bottom, plus straps with quick-release buckles to keep the bottom edge in place.

(Above.) The cover has two large metal eyelets at the front. The idea being to park your motorcycle near a fence post. Slip the cover over, then use the cable lock to go through the eyelets, through the front wheel, and around the fence post. Thereby, not only locking the bike to the post, but securing the cover also.

Of course locking a bicycle this way is not all that secure as one can easily remove the front wheel and steal the rest of the bike, leaving the sorry owner with a cover and a front wheel.

So in the unlikely event you are storing your bicycles outside, some extra locks around the frame would be a good idea. This cover would be great for people touring with a tent, as one cover would serve for two or three bicycles.

Get a Widras cover from Wal-Mart, here. Or from Amazon. Or go to Widras own website here. Check out their other products including a cell phone handlebar mount that can be used on a bicycle or motorcycle.

 

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Monday
Jun252018

Froomey, take a leaf from Eddy’s book

Eddy Merckx (Above.) won the Tour de France in 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972. He opted not to enter the race in 1973, even though he would miss the opportunity to win the race five times in a row. The reason: Animosity from the French fans.

Instead the rode the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana and won them both that year. By doing that, he was able to show the world he was still the best rider, at the same time appease the French fans by giving someone else a chance. Merckx came back in 1974 to equal Frenchman Jacques Anquetil, in winning the TDF five times.

Anquetil did not win five in a row, he won in 1957, then four consecutively from 1961 to 1964. If Eddy Merckx had not opted out of the 1973 Tour, he no doubt would have won that year too, making it a record six wins all in a row. And that would have really pissed off the French fans.

Jacques AnquetilBy opting out of the Tour de France in 1973, Eddy Merckx still goes down in history as the “Greatest Rider Ever,” by the sheer number of races the won over the years. He chose to honor people’s feelings over his own ego.

What a shame that Chris Froome is not taking a leaf from Eddy’s book and opting voluntarily out of this year’s Tour de France. Why would anyone want to participate in an event when no one wants you there?

The Tour Organizers don’t want him there, the UCI doesn’t want him there, and many fans of the sport, including myself, don’t want him there. And the French fans most certainly don’t want him there.

Please Froomey, pack up your bicycle and stay home.

 

By insisting that he will ride the Tour because he legally can, is offering up a big “Fuck You,” to fans everywhere. I’ll be checking the result daily, but. I probably won’t be watching the race, I simply will not waste my time.

Froome will no doubt go down in history as a great rider, but will never be in the same class as Eddy Merckx. And to those who will say Eddy Merckx doped too, if you dismiss Merckx you dismiss every other great cyclist though history, including the likes of Fausto Coppi, and Gino Bartali, etc.

Jacques Anquetil never hid that he took drugs and in a debate with a government minister on French television said only a fool would imagine it was possible to ride Bordeaux–Paris on just water.

The pros took amphetamines, it was an open secret, and was accepted until British rider Tommy Simpson died of heat stroke during the 1967 TDF, by driving himself to exhaustion assisted by amphetamines.

It didn’t stop doping, it was just no longer an open secret, and was denied and not talked about. Amphetamines like all stimulants, give a boost of energy, but take too much and the result is counterproductive.

The doping issue today is a different matter with sophisticated medications like EPO. Now it is a case of those with the most money can buy the best scientists to administer the optimum amount of dope, bribe officials if caught, and hire the best lawyers to fight the case if it goes to trial.

Chris Froome and team Sky are abusing the Therapeutic Use Exemptions. (TUE) Salbutamol is allowed to treat Froome’s asthma, but there is a limit to how much can be used before it becomes a performance enhancer.

Froome went double the allowed amount, and is now throwing a ton of money into proving the test is flawed. Instead of just ‘fessing up and saying, “Oops, I didn’t mean to but I took too much…Sorry.” Show some class, like Edddy Merckx and sit this one out, while this whole mess gets sorted.

 

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Monday
Jun182018

Rights and Privileges

As cycling becomes more and more popular, more people choose to ride a bike to work each day rather than drive. We occasionally hear calls for cyclists to be licensed, or a tax imposed, in the same way automobile drivers are licensed and taxed.

The idea of licensing cyclists usually comes from city governments rather than on a state or national level. The argument is usually along the lines that bike lanes and other facilities cost money, and it only seems fair that cyclists should pay some of this cost.

However, in practical terms any attempt to tax or license cyclists in the past has always turned out to be a bureaucratic nightmare. It always costs more to implement such a plan than the income generated. Plus law enforcement and the court system has to then impose fines on those not having a license.

Sidewalks have been in place in cities everywhere since before the beginning of the last century, and no one has ever suggested that pedestrians should pay for sidewalks. Sidewalks make it safer to walk, bike lanes make it safer to ride a bicycle. And anyway revenues from drivers’ licenses or even road taxes do not pay for roads. So really that should be the end of that argument.      

When automobiles first appeared there were no laws or regulations, you could simply buy a car, jump in and drive it. Pretty much in the same way as we can buy a bicycle today and ride it anywhere.

Later because of wholesale carnage on the roads, laws were passed and licenses issued to drivers. As a result, driving is a privilege, one that can be taken away, whereas cycling like walking is a right. Although cyclists and pedestrians are still subject to the laws of the road. It appears no one can be prevented from walking or riding a bike, even if they break the law.

So what is a right? There are so called God given rights, but as people have the right to choose whether they believe in God or not, how does that work? If you don't believe in God, do you not have any God given rights? Are you obliged to respect other people's God given rights? As it is, the only God given right I can think of is our right to live.

If you look at The Bill of Rights there are very few actual rights. I don’t see a right to ride a bicycle mentioned. There is the right to bear arms, the right to practice a religion of your choice, etc.

After that it appears the function of government (In theory anyway.) is to leave us alone, and we are free to do as we please as long as we follow certain laws wherever they apply.

It appears to me that rights are rarely granted, they are simply taken for granted.

A goood example, in recent years cell phones have become available and some assume it is their right to own one and talk and send text messages whenever they please, including while driving. It turns out this is not such a good idea so in some places this practice is being outlawed. Have people lost a right, or was it just an assumed right in the first place? 

A few years ago, people had the right to smoke just about anywhere they pleased. However, that right infringed on everyone else’s right not to breathe secondhand smoke. So, now that right has gradually been taken away, and smokers are now privileged to smoke in fewer and fewer places.

Because riding a bicycle on public roads is for the most part not a danger to other road users, it is doubtful than anyone will stop us doing it. Cycling is a good idea. It cuts down on congestion in our cities, it is better for the environment, and it should be encouraged because it is good for the physical and mental well-being of the participant.

My question is, are there any true rights or privileges? Or is this just an ongoing daily debate among millions of people, on the streets, on the talk shows and in the courtrooms? We all have certain rights, and we get to keep them as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others. If they do we may lose those rights, it is happening all the time.

In which case there is little difference between rights and privileges, either can be taken away. We should all remember this and in particular those cyclists who blatantly and regularly flout the laws of the road.

 

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