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Sunday
Mar182007

100 Blogs

This is the 100th. Blog I have written since I started in November 2005; it is fitting that it should be on a happy note.

Today I went for a modest ten-mile ride on my re-assembled bike, just 93 days after my accident last December. I might have gone a little further but it was extremely windy and I didn’t want to over-do it on my first ride.

There was one set back during re-assembly; I switched handlebar stems from 11 cm. to a 9 cm. In doing so, I noticed my handlebars were bent from the accident; I had failed to notice it before. As you can see from the picture, (Left) the right side, nearest the camera, is pushed back and the bottom of the drops are no longer parallel.

It was no wonder that my right hand was so badly bruised in the accident. My hand was on the brake hood at the time I hit the side of the SUV. The impact through my hand was enough to twist the handlebars.

I realized finding a replacement handlebar would delay the re-build for at least a week, even two. Initially this was a huge disappointment, then I decided to go ahead and as a purely temporary measure make do with the damaged bar. My first few rides are going to be very gentle, close to home, and I won’t be putting a lot of stress on the handlebars.

In the mean time I am now on the look out for a pair of Cinelli “Giro de Italia” 24 - 40 or similar. 26.4 ferrule.

This frame being a centimeter smaller than my previous one, my stem is a centimeter lower, but I now have 2 cm. shorter reach due to switching to a shorter stem. The position felt comfortable this morning when I rode, I had felt a little stretched on my other bike.

I had previously set the bike up the same as I had it since the 1970s. I have come to realize that I have to make concessions for a body that is not as young and supple as it once was.

Wednesday
Mar142007

Got my Replacement Frame

My replacement frame arrived on Monday. It was shipped from San Francisco via US Postal Service on Friday. I tracked it online that evening and it was still in the Bay Area; it showed up at my door in Charleston, South Carolina Monday afternoon. Pretty fast service I would say for coming clear across the country.

The frame is a 51cm. Fuso that I built around 1985. It has been repainted in a red powder-coat finish. Yesterday I stripped my damaged bike down with the exception of the bottom bracket and crank set. I don’t have the tools at this time to do that myself, so I took both frames over to Charleston Bicycle Company, my LBS on Savannah Hwy. to have them complete the switch.

The frame came with a new Campagnolo Record headset, so there was no need to change that over. I will be finishing the re-build this coming weekend, and I’ll be back on the road. I am ready and looking forward to it immensely. Watch this spot for more pictures later.

Monday
Mar122007

The Haunted Fish Tank


Scientists tell us a goldfish has a memory that lasts only three seconds; how they figured that one out, I don’t know. Did they sit and talk to a goldfish, ask it questions, while holding a stopwatch?

I am beginning to wonder if some Internet users have the attention span of a goldfish.

I have a little thing on this blog called Statcounter. It gives me useful information on people visiting this blog.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t tell me who you are, where you live, or what you had for dinner last night. However, it does tell me how you arrived here, search keywords used and how long you stayed once you got here.

Many people arrive here via a Google search, and what I find frustrating as hell strange is when people ask a specific question, arrive on the page that has the exact answer, and stay less than three seconds.

For example, one recent visitor got here by using these keywords “replacing tube lugged bike.” Which led him to this page. There on the screen before his very eyes, step by step instructions on how to replace a tube in a lugged frame. Length of visit: 0 seconds. Anything under three seconds registers as zero.

“What bike frame size for my height?” is a question that gets Googled many times, and will land you on this page. You would think the words “Frame Sizing” in the title would be a clue to a person that maybe they had landed on a page that might have some answers for them. Length of visit: 0 seconds.

I could go on and on, but I’ll just do one more. “Centering side pull brakes” will land you here. Simple instructions, 107 words and 2 photographs. The only way it could be any easier would be if I came round to your house and showed you how to do it. Length of visit: 0 seconds.

In my native England, we sometimes refer to the television as “The haunted fish tank.” I think that name would be more apt for the PC. The only difference is the fish are on the outside, looking in. Maybe some people really do have the attention span of a goldfish, and by the time they click from Google to here, they have forgotten the question.

The Internet is supposed to make us smarter, sometimes I wonder. The information is there, but until scientists come up with a USB cable that plugs directly into our brain, it requires that we read the information to benefit from it.

In writing this piece, I came to realize this strange aspect of human behavior is really a metaphor for life. The answer to any question, any problem we may have in life is right there within ourselves. The Universal Intelligence, which is our intelligence, knows the answer.

We search for answers, but then we try too hard to find the solution. Instead of slowing down and allowing ourselves to see what is often before our very eyes, we click away and continue searching elsewhere.

Friday
Mar092007

Lessons in defensive riding, learned the hard way

Statistics show that the most common bicycle/vehicle accident is caused by drivers turning left in front of an oncoming bicycle. (In the UK this would be a driver turning right.) This is exactly what happened in my accident.

When you think about it and analyze the situation there is a reason why this type of accident is common. The driver is sitting waiting for a gap in oncoming traffic so they can make the turn. When that gap appears they are going to move very quickly, it may only be a very small gap.

They don’t see the oncoming cyclist because he/she is hidden behind other traffic, especially if the last vehicle before the gap is a large commercial van or truck. The driver is watching that vehicle and the next one some distance down the road, not thinking there might be a cyclist between the two.

Once the driver has started the turn they are no longer looking down the road for other traffic, but rather are looking in the direction they are headed.

If they do see the cyclist at the last moment, slamming on the brakes will only place a stationary vehicle in the path of the cyclist instead of a moving one. The fact they don’t see the cyclist is no excuse, there could also be a pedestrian or a child riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. “Look twice, save a life” is a motor cyclist safety slogan, that applies equally to the bicycle rider.

Here are some defensive riding practices I will be using in the future:

1. I will be on the lookout for drivers waiting to make a left turn.

2. I will make a mental note of where they are and when I reach that spot, if I can’t see them, they probably can’t see me.

3. Depending on circumstances like speed and density of traffic, I may make the decision to move out into the traffic lane to a position where I can see them and they can see me.

4. If I hear a vehicle directly behind me, it is reasonably safe to say there is no gap in traffic and they will not turn.

5. If there is no traffic immediately behind me, and traffic is slow moving, I may speed up to stay close the vehicle ahead of me.

6. If 3, 4, and 5 don’t apply, I will assume the vehicle is going to turn and I will be prepared to stop. I will be watching the vehicle’s front wheels for any sign of movement.

This being the most common bicycle mishap, if you can avoid this one, you greatly reduce the odds of your being involved in an accident. In addition, this is a good one to avoid as it has the potential for serious injury.

Before my accident, I never paid much attention to this issue. I am hoping what happened to me will cause others to think about this serious problem, and avoid going through what I had to.

Should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident Kent's Bike Blog has some good advice.

It’s a jungle out there, ride safe.

Wednesday
Mar072007

A stranger is a friend we haven’t met

I am amazed, somewhat overwhelmed, and at the same time deeply touched by words and actions of the bicycle riding community.

First, right after my accident there was an outpouring of well wishes in the form of comments on my blog and personal emails. Next came offers of practical help. Alex Flinn from San Diego offered to loan me his 53 cm. Fuso. Lorin Youde, who owns a John Howard, and a Recherche that I built, placed an ad on Craigslist, looking for a 52 cm. frame for me.

Just last week, Dana placed a comment on my blog offering me a bike with a damaged frame at no cost. I declined only because I have no tools or equipment to repair it. However, I was deeply touched by the offer from a complete stranger.

Yesterday, another complete stranger, I will refer to him as Ron only because I get the impression he is a very private person. Ron offered me a 51 cm. Fuso frame, free of charge, and even refused my offer to pay the shipping cost.

My own damaged frame, I have been told by cycling attorney Gary Brustin who is handling my case, should not be repaired at this time. It is evidence that may be needed in the future.

This of course left me without a ride, and I am anxious to get back on the bike again as I feel the exercise will speed my recovery. Physically I am fine, but I still have double vision from a damaged nerve in my right eye.

However, on the advice of my doctor, I am able to blank out part of my glasses, which cuts out the double vision and at the same time allows me to see either side without a blind spot that a complete eye patch would cause.

My damaged frame is a 52 cm (C to T) but the 51 cm. will work fine, I can ride either. My profound thanks go out to all those who have offered well wishes and help. I am also not forgetting Bob Gong who sold me the first frame, in near pristine condition for an extremely low price.

In addition, my very good friend Steve Farner who sent me enough components to build the complete bike. While I’m giving out thanks, I have noticed a recent upsurge in sales of my book on Amazon. It can only be from readers of this blog, so thank you to all who have bought the book.

I am deeply touched that there are so many good people in this world. I don’t think it is a coincidence that these same people happen to be bike riders.