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The Mob Mentality

Whenever I am engaged in conversation with people who are not cyclists, on learning of my background in the bike business, and my continued interest in riding, they will invariably ask me,

“Why do large groups of cyclists take up the whole damn road? If you give even a friendly toot on the horn to let them know you are passing, you will more often than not get the finger. Why are they so hostile and so rude?”

This is how I try to explain it:

First of all in any random group of people you have a cross-section of society. Some are nice people, and some are assholes. It is the assholes in the group that will give you the finger. Rarely would you get the whole group giving the one finger salute in unison. Just as there are assholes who drive cars, there are assholes who ride bikes.

The other thing is the mob mentality. This is a common human trait that we see in any group of people not just cyclists. When people get together in a group they are less considerate of others outside the group.

Your neighbor is having a party, and as the guests leave late at night, they laugh and talk loudly, slam car doors, and disrupt the sleep of people living several houses away. Usually these people are good neighbors, why would they have such inconsiderate friends we ask ourselves?

How many people have been in a restaurant where there is a large group of say ten or more people? I guarantee that party will be extremely loud, often obnoxious, and will have little regard for anyone else who is unfortunate enough to be seated nearby.  

However, this is what we have come to expect in certain bars and restaurants. There will always be large groups made up of co-workers, family members, celebrating someone’s birthday or something.

Also an important factor, these are just people you can’t stereotype them.

But get a bunch of cyclists on the road, enjoying each other’s company, and are being no more, or no less considerate of others around them than the party in the restaurant.

The big difference is, now you can stereotype them, they are cyclists. Whenever you see a bunch of cyclist together they seem to be behaving badly, therefore all cyclists are lumped together as being bad.

The larger the group the worse the behavior. Take sports fans assembled in their thousands and the mob mentality really takes over. The mob could be angry over their team’s loss, or celebrating their victory, the outcome is the same. Store windows are broken, parked cars are overturned, and even set on fire. Most people would not behave that way individually, or even in a smaller group.

This is how I try to explain why some cyclists behave badly. I don’t condone it. It is one of the reasons I no longer ride with large groups, even though it can be fun. So I ask that people don’t condemn me for riding a bike, just because a few cyclists behave badly.

What is needed is a little more tolerance and understanding on both sides. Cyclists need to be a little more considerate of other road users. Remember Lycra is the different color skin we put on, so we will be stereotyped and others like us will be judged by our behavior.

And the general public needs to realize that these are just a group of friends enjoying each other’s company, and getting some fresh air and exercise while doing so.  And if it is a Sunday, where are you going in such a big fucking hurry anyway?

What are your views, and how do you handle the conversation with non-cyclists?


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How Fast Eddie got his bike back

Last November I had the pleasure of meeting “Fast Eddie” Williams when I made a brief visit to New York. (Picture above.) Eddie is something of a legend as a bike messenger in New York City.

Eddie has been a bike messenger since 1983. It was a handful of New York bike messengers, the likes of Fast Eddie that started the whole fixed wheel craze that has spread worldwide.

Eddie’s bike was a ‘dave moulton’ custom track frame that I had built in 1983. He bought it in 1998 from the original owner who had raced the bike on the velodrome at Trexlertown, Pennsylvania.

That evening in November when I met Eddie and some of his friends, in Brooklyn where he lives. He proudly showed me his bike, and I realized this was a different kind of relationship between a bike and its owner.

All bike enthusiasts are passionate about their machines, but for Eddie this bright red bike was an extension of the man himself.

This was his working bike, his means to make a living.

Still with the original paint that I personally applied in 1983, now chipped and battered from its hard working life.

But that was fine with me, the bike had character, like the man who rode it.

Then right after Christmas last year, I got the news Eddie’s bike had been stolen. Eddie was devastated. He had left it un-attended for a brief moment and it was gone.

This was almost akin to someone stealing Willie Nelson’s guitar. He had lost his means to make a living.

On my bike registry next to the listing of Eddie’s bike #2833,  I put the words “Stolen, contact Dave.” In red type. I thought the bike might be found quite quickly as it was such a unique bicycle and a very large frame that few could ride.

But it wasn’t found, and the weeks, then months rolled by.

Then out of the blue last Saturday, May 9th. I got an email from a Joe Jameson.

He had seen this red ‘dave moulton’ frame with a $200 price tag in his local bike shop in Queens, NY.

He noted the serial number and went online to my bike registry to check on it.

He saw the “Stolen” tag, and immediately contacted me.

I contacted Eddie and on Sunday he went to the bike shop armed with a copy of the police report that had the serial number on it. I spoke with Eddie Sunday evening, and he was one happy man, he had got the frame back. It had been stripped and the parts gone. However, Eddie had parts and had already built the bike back up again.

I asked him if he found out who stole it, and all he would say is “Some young kids took it.” I didn’t push the issue, all I cared about is that the bike, or at least the frame was back where it belonged. I am glad it was found before some other innocent person shelled out money for it.

I’m glad the “Stolen” tag on my bike registry had worked, thanks to Joe Jameson. Most of all I’m just pleased that Eddie got his bike back.


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Compression Sleek Sleeves

Elastic support hose or stockings have been prescribed in the medical profession for years as a remedy for poor circulation in the legs.

My mother suffered from Phlebitis and Varicose Veins as long as I can remember.

Back in the 1940s she would bind her legs with crepe bandages. Later elastic support stockings became available.

It appears that binding the legs or wearing stretchy sleeves or stockings actually improves circulation.

And if blood circulation is improved, would this not be of benefit to athletic performance and/or recovery? In recent times runners have been using compression sleeves, as a means to avoid shin splints, which are often caused by the jarring effect of the heel striking the hard pavement.

Shin splints are not usually an issue for cyclists, unless they are pushing some exceptionally large gear, but I do know there is a UCI regulation that stipulates the length of socks used when racing. The thinking behind this is, they don’t want racing cyclists wearing knee high support hose that may or may not improve performance.

Some cyclists are using compression leg sleeves and tights, before and after races. When the makers of Compression Sleek sleeves offered the send me a pair to try out, I was interested. The reason being this time of year when the weather improves, my bike rides tend to get longer.

After a long hard ride, (Especially early season when I am not used to it.) I tend to get night cramps in my calf muscles. I’ll wake from a deep sleep with a large painful knot in my calf, I’ll invariably reach down to massage it, and bending my leg to do so, end up with an even bigger knot in my thigh. There is nothing I could do but get up and walk it off.

Last Sunday I did a longish ride, and sure enough that night I started to feel a cramp coming on in my left calf muscle. I got up and slipped on just the left sleeve and went back to bed. It worked, no more cramps that night.

Not just long bike rides will cause these cramps, but every autumn, cleaning leaves from my gutters, and standing on a ladder for long periods, will cause the same cramps.

Also attending an event like a bike show where I am standing on a concrete floor for hours. You can bet in the future on these occasions I will be wearing these sleeves as a precautionary measure.

I have worn them on a couple of early morning rides when the temps were chilly. They doubled as lower leg warmers, when I wore them with my black over the knee bib knickers.

Wearing them while riding I didn’t notice any obvious benefit, but they were no hindrance either. I would not wear them with shorts, any more than I would wear knee length socks, because of the “Fred” factor. But that's just me. 

These Compression Sleek Sleeves are available on Amazon for $21.99 for a pair. Some compression sleeves appear cheaper but are sold singly, so watch out for that one. You can also pay a lot more, but I am not sure what the added benefit would be.

Made of 85% Lycra and 15% Nylon, I just throw them in the cold wash with the rest of my kit, but I let them air dry rather than put them in the dryer. I figure they may last longer that way. 

Measure your calf before you buy. These fit from 12 inch to 15 inch calf circumference. My calf measures 14 inches, so they are tight, but as I said, not uncomfortable to wear, even while riding. 


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Exercising to lose weight

Back in September 2007 I wrote an article called Running vs. Cycling: Calories Burned. This one article is by far my most successful in terms of daily hits from search engines. It gets hundreds of hits every single day, from Google and others. It is obviously sought after information by people looking to burn calories by exercising in order to lose weight.

My attention was drawn to the article yesterday when a friend emailed me that he burned 650 calories in one hour on his stationary bike and asked how many miles he had traveled. I’m not sure if he was “Yanking my Chain,” or “Pulling my Plonker,” as we Brits sometimes say, but I told him he had traveled Zero miles as it was a stationary bike.

Returning to the article, it states that running burns 110 calories per mile at any speed. The reason being it is distance covered, not time taken to complete the distance. One man runs a mile in 6 minutes and he burns 110 calories in 6 minutes. Another takes 12 minutes to run the same mile and burns 55 calories in the first 6 minutes and another 55 calories in the second 6 minutes. Both runners burn the same 110 calories for the same distance.

It was agreed upon in the discussion that followed the article that 110 calories burned was for someone around 150lbs. anyone heavier would burn more calories, someone lighter would burn less. I have seen this figure of 110 calories quoted in articles over and over again, and even seen it stated that walking burns the same 110 calories per mile.

At first glance this seems logical. You are hauling the same 150 lb. body over the same mile, it just takes longer. Twenty minutes walking, burning 5.5 calories per minute, equals the same 110 calories for the mile. Or does it?

I recently read this article in Runners World, and I feel it contains information that is far more reliable. The article explains that any exercise burns 5 calories per Liter of Oxygen consumed. Obviously a person consumes far more oxygen when running than walking.  

The reason being, with each stride, the runner actually jumps into the air, overcoming gravity as well as driving himself forward. Then there is the impact of hitting the ground again with each stride, using energy to absorb the shock.

The average calorie burn (Per mile.) given in this article is 124 for a man running, and 88 calories walking. For a woman, because of the lighter weight, the average is 105 calories burned running, 74 walking.

However, the article makes a very important point when it states that when looking at exercise as a means to lose weight, one must take into account the Net Calories Burned (NCB) and not the above figures which are Total Calories Burned (TCB)

It is a little like a person saying he makes $50.000 or $100,000 per year as an income. This is his Total Income, his Net Income after taxes is less.

The “Tax” when it comes to burning calories, is a little thing called Resting Metabolic Rate. (RMR) This is the calories burned every single day if you do absolutely nothing, even if you lay in bed or sit on the sofa.

Some people talk of Basil Metabolic Rate, (BMR) which is a more accurate reading. Both are calculated, and RMR is close enough for most people. Here is a calculator.

Let’s say a person has a RMR of 1,500 calories. That means this person burns 1,500 calories every day doing absolutely nothing. Divide this by 24 hours. 1,500 divide by 24 equals 62.5 calories burned per hour. So if this same person walks 3 miles in one hour he burns 88 x 3 = 264 TCB. However, he must deduct the 62.5 calories he would have burned if he had stayed home and watched TV. His NCB is now 201.5.

Another man could run 6 miles in one hour and burn 124 x 6 = 774 TCB. Take away 62.5 for a total of 681.5 NCB. The runner has covered twice the distance and burned well over three times the calories in the same hour, over the man who walked. The more intense the exercise the more calories burned for the same amount of time.

This same principal applies to cycling, and explains why some cyclists who ride a lot of miles still carry extra weight.

Cycling does have an added bonus, in that the faster you ride the more calories you burn, because wind resistance comes into play.

The chart that was in my original article is as good as anything if come across since. (See above left)

Let’s say our same subject with the 1,500 RMR, rides his bike 100 miles at a leisurely 10mph. He burns 26 calories a mile for a TCB of 2,600. Minus 625 calories he would have burned if he had stayed home for the 10 hours. (62.5 x 10.) His NCB is 1,975.

Now let’s say the same man rides 60miles at 20mph, an intense 3 hour ride. His TCB is 2,280 (60m. x 38 calories per mile.) Minus 3hr. x 62.5 calories, for a NCB of 2,092.5. So the intense 60 mile ride burned more calories than the leisurely century.

As you search the Internet you will find calorie charts and metabolic calculators that vary immensely. However, used as comparison tools they will serve to determine which form of exercise will work best to lose weight. It is quite simple really, shorter, intense workouts and eat less.


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Patti Kissinger 1953 - 2015

Patti Kissinger was an artist, she created beautiful pieces of art in glass. Glass blown and formed while hot and in a semi-molten state. She also made stained glass windows, and lamp shades.

Patti was also a songwriter, played guitar and was a working musician. That is how I met her briefly in 2013. She had just moved to Charleston, South Carolina and showed up one night at a Songwriters’ Open Mic that I attend regularly.

As I usually do when I meet someone new at one of these events, I gave Patti a copy of my novel, Prodigal Child.

She was only in the Charleston area for a month or so, and she moved on to North Carolina.

Patti was trying to re-start her glass blowing business, and had to move where ever that was going to be feasible.

She emailed a few times, asked me questions about a road bike, as she thought she might get one, but she never did because soon after she got sick.

Around Christmas 2013 Patti was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I sent her a card with some cash inside. I wanted to help out in a practical way.

Working musicians don’t make much money as it is, when they get seriously ill they have even less.

Patti had a double mastectomy, and an intense round of radiation treatment.

She gradually got better, and she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she re-started her glass business.

Then a few months ago the cancer came back, and it took Patti Kissinger all too soon on March 26th.

Yesterday a package arrived in the mail, it was a small piece of Patti’s glass work. (Picture left.)

I only met Patti, two, maybe three times face to face. We emailed each other a few more times. I regret I never had the opportunity to know her even better.

Maybe she remembered that I once gave her a book, or that I sent a Christmas card with a few dollars in it. Maybe it was because Patti was a multi-talented artist and she could relate to work I had done.

Whatever the reason, when Patti found out she was dying, she had included my name on a list of people she wanted to have a piece of her art, and that touched me deeply.

I will always remember you Patti Kissinger, and I will treasure this little vase that was sent on your behalf. You will live on in the memories of those who knew and loved you, and you will also live on in the wonderful body of work you left behind.

Above: In the FBI Building in Denver, Colorado.









More pictures of Patti Kisinger's Glass can be seen here:


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