Dave Moulton

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Are Socks the New Necktie?

It used to be men wore suits and neckties, the tie was the way a man expressed his individuality, often his personality. Men had large collections of ties and would choose a different one each day, often his choice would reflect his mood that day.

If there was an important business meeting, job interview, or promotion in the offing, the choice of tie for that day was extremely important. Men would seek tie choice advice from wives, friends and colleagues.

Today, apart from certain businesses and formal wear, men wear suits less often. Some men don’t even own a suit.

If you see a man in a suit at McDonalds’ or riding a bus, he is probably on his way to court.

It used to be if a man wore a brown suit, it would be worn with brown shoes and socks.

The whole ensemble would match and blend in. Today it's okay to wear brown shoes with a dark blue or grey suit.

On occasions it seems men will wear a formal suit and tie and wear a pair if bright multi-color socks.

One doesn’t see the socks until the wearer sits down. They are a surprise item. 

I always think, ‘Wow, that man has balls. He is either the boss, very good at what he does, and therefore indispensable, or he’s a celebrity.’

With more and more people abandoning the suit and tie altogether, and opting for casual wear, it occurred to me that without the necktie to express individuality, a person can do so by his choice of socks.

This thought came to me when I was contacted by Ozone Socks who asked if I would review their socks on my blog.

They offered to send me a free pair, and although it is nice to get free stuff, I opted to buy a pair of my own choice. If I am to wear socks that express my personality, then I need to choose them.

The socks I chose are mid-calf, I was impressed that they stay up but are not at all tight, they were light and extremely comfortable.

Check out the large selection of men’s and women’s socks at Ozone, the art of socks.

By the way, I took a selfie of my own socks, (See top picture.) not easy without a selfie stick. Just goes to show for an old guy, I’m still pretty flexible.


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Cyclists Misbehaving

“There is nothing wrong with the world except for people misbehaving.”

Think about it. If people behaved themselves, there would be no crime, no wars. No need for armies or police.

There would be no need to lock our doors, and we could leave our car or bike anywhere unlocked.

Utopia of course, a fantasy world that will never happen.

Here is a comment on the bikes vs. cars situation in New York City from a Jack Brown, a former bike store owner no less.

I think his words sum up the situation probably as good as any I have read.

"Cyclists can be anywhere, at any time: on the sidewalk, riding the wrong way down the street, and you have no peace. The anarchy that has been allowed to prevail is astonishing.

According to butterfly theory, according to chaos theory, I am sure that the level of emotional and psychological damage wrought by the bicycle far exceeds the damage done by cars. The cumulative effect is equivalent to what happened on 9/11."

I think the comparison to 9/11 is a little strong, however, he is talking about “Emotional and Psychological” damage, not actual physical harm being done. The fact that cars have far more potential to do physical harm than bikes is not the issue here.

Pedestrians are not being mowed down in large numbers and killed or seriously injured by cyclists, but the fear that it could happen causes emotional stress, In the same way that living in a high crime area causes stress.

Like living in the constant fear that you could catch a stray bullet at any time, it the fear that is real, not the odds in your favor that you will never actually be shot.

The problem is being caused by a minority of cyclists, just as a minority of people misbehaving can turn a community into a high crime area. No one notices the dozens of cyclists riding in an orderly and proper manner along a street or bike lane.

It is the cyclist brushing past you on the sidewalk at 15 or 20 mph that you notice, or the one who blows through a red light and you don’t even see until he flashes past the hood of your car. It is not the fact that either encounter was not even that close, it is the emotional stress caused by the shock, the surprise.

The stress causes fear, a fear of what could have happened. Fear is then transformed into anger, it is the natural human way of coping. Pretty soon just the sight of a cyclist makes a person angry, and there is a loss of sympathy for the cyclist’s vulnerability. An attitude of, “If these maniacs don’t care for their own safety, why should I care?”

I don’t feel by writing here I can change the situation, anymore that I can stop wars or crime, all I can do is speak to those who do care. Half the battle is understanding the other person’s point of view and trying to understand why some pedestrians and motorists are angry with all of us.

Know that the fear and resulting stress caused by this anarchistic minority is all too real. Fear breeds anger, and anger breeds hate.

I refuse to live my life in fear, I will not ride my bike in fear. By not riding in fear, I am not riding in anger. Knowing that the motorist’s anger towards me is basically born out of a fear that he/she might hit me, is in a small way comforting.

And by riding in a responsible and courteous manner I am soothing the fear, thereby calming the anger. It is one of the few things a responsible cyclist can do.


Footnote: I wrote this piece in 2011. My question is, has the situation in New York City improved in the last eight years, or has everyone accepted this as normal behavior that is not going to change?

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Flat Tires: More or Less?

Last week's post about three times Tour de France winner, Louison Bobet, brought up a question about the atrocious condition of the roads back then, and did it lead to more punctures? From my own experience and my memory of it, I would say, no.

Back in the 1950s and prior top that, the Tour de France went over the same mountains as they do today, but many of these same roads were unpaved dirt, or at best, tar and gravel. Many of the minor country roads in England were periodically sprayed with hot, wet tar. Fine gravel was then spread over the tar and a steam roller would press the gravel into the soft tar.
Passing cars would tend to sweep the loose top gravel to the side of the road where people rode bikes, and much of this fine gravel consisted of very sharp flints. In spite of this, I remember going long periods without getting a flat tire, often as long as a year. I rode exclusively on tubular tires, (Sew-ups in America.) as did all racing cyclists, amateur and pro. There is a reason professional cyclists still ride on tubulars to this day. The ride is superior. I also believe, a good quality tubular tire is less prone to puncture. 
You never get a pinch flat for a start. For those who don't know a pinch flat is when a tire is low in pressure and the wheel hits an object like a rock, or the edge of a pothole. The bead of the tire is forced away from the rim and the inner tube then blows out though this gap in the form of a bubble. The bead of the tire then snaps back to the rim, pinching or trapping the inner tube between the two. A pinch flat is sometimes called a "Snake bite" as the result is two small cuts in the tube, one caused by the rim and one by the edge of the tire.
Also, on a clincher tire wheel, spoke nipples and the countersunk holes for the nipples, have sharp edges. They are usually covered by a rim tape to protect the inner tube from these sharp edges. But if the rim tape moves over time the inner tube can be chaffed and worn through, or cut on a sharp edge. 
Both the situations are not possible with a tubular tire. the inner tube is sewn inside the tire itself, and there is nothing to chafe of cut the tube from the inside. It can only puncture if it is penetrated from the outside. A tubular tire can even be ridden flat for at least a few miles. With a clincher you would destroy the tire and possibly the rim too.
Back in the 1950s and possibly even today, high quality tubulars were made with pure rubber. We would buy our tires ahead of time, and store them in a cool, dark place, like a closet for six months or more. This would allow the rubber to "Mature" and it would become tougher with age.
Modern tires are made from synthetic rubber, and aging them probably has no affect. I do remember, if I was forced to use a new tubular, because it was all I had at the time, it would seem to puncture in a very short time. 
Great strides have been made in the manufacture of clincher tires over the last twenty or more years. For the leisure cyclist and even for all but the pros and top amateur ranks, tubular tires are not worth the expense and hassle of maintaining them. But the original question was, did we get more flats back in the day, and my answer was "No," in spite of worse road conditions. Good quality tubulars were probably part of the reason why.
There was a time when the rules of the Tour de France were that riders had to carry and change their own tubular tire. Later they were allowed to receive help from others, (See top picture of 1951 Tour winner. Swiss rider Hugo Koblet.)
I have punctured on occasions during a road race in the 1950s and 1960s. It is possible to change a tire and be on your way in a minute and a half or two minutes, if all goes well it is possible in a little over a minute. We did have Co2 pumps that inflate a tire in seconds. (Koblet has one behind his seat tube in the above picture.)
Road racing in the UK was on the open roads with normal traffic. There was a lead car in front of the race with a large sign saying "Bicycle Race Approaching.(It was rather like a fast moving "Wide Load Approaching.") There was always a long line of traffic held up behind the race, and therefore moving at the same speed as the race. If you could change your tire quick enough, and you made a big effort, you could catch up to the end of this line of cars.
Cars back then had door handles on the outside that were convenient to hold onto and take a rest. Then it was a matter of ride hard and move up a few cars. Grab a door handle, rest and repeat the process. Door handle, rest, sprint, door handle, rest, sprint, and in a very short time you were back in the race. 
All very illegal of course, but effective, and without the complication and expense of team support.
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Louison Bobet: First three time TDF winner

When French cyclist Louison Bobet won the Tour de France in 1953, 1954, and 1955 he became the first rider to win the event three consecutive times. His victories came through sheer hard work and determination.

For example, his first Tour de France was in 1947 at the tender age of 22 he was forced to quit when the race reached the mountain stages. He found the going too tough, and it was a lesson the young Bobet would not forget. He trained even harder and became one of the greatest climbers of his era.

The following year 1948 he was the darling of the French press when he took the Yellow Jersey early in the race. However, that was the year when Italian Gino Bartali was unstoppable and came out a clear winner. (Picture below: Bobet leads Bartali.)

Bobet failed to finish the Tour in 1949, but in 1950 had his best showing to date, finishing 3rd. overall, and taking the King of the Mountains Trophy. However, this showing was somewhat tainted because the entire Italian team quit due to hostility and interference from French spectators. This was when Italian rider Fiorenzo Magni was leading the race. Swiss rider Ferdi Kubler won that year.

Naturally the French Nation expected great things of Louison Bobet the following year 1951. His year began well, Bobet won the Mountains Jersey in the Giro d’Italia. He also won two of the Classic races that year, the Milan – San Remo, and the Tour of Lombardy.

However, his showing in the Tour de France was disappointing when he placed 20th. The French press were writing him off as being a good single day rider, but not having the right stuff to win the Tour. Bobet would miss the 1952 Tour due to injury.

In 1953 TDF Louison Bobet finally silenced his critics, and for the years that followed he became the favorite of the French Nation. 1947 winner Jean Robic took an early lead, but a crash and an all out attack by the French National Team put Robic out of the race. Louison Bobet, took the yellow jersey on the famed stage over the Izoard Pass and kept it.

In the 1954 Tour, the Swiss team led by Ferdi Kubler, Hugo Koblet and Fritz Schaer kept up constant pressure. However, as in 1953, Bobet slaughtered his rivals on the Izoard climb and cemented his second consecutive Tour victory.

For some the famed Izoard climb is synonymous with Louison Bobet. The mythic Alpine climb was crucial to his first two Tour victories. So convincing was he in 1954, he left his Swiss rival Ferdi Kubler trailing by twelve minutes.

In 1955, suffering from a saddle sore, many were pessimistic about the chances of Louison Bobet winning his third consecutive Tour de France. Young Luxembourg climber Charly Gaul (Pictured above with Bobet.) grabbed plenty of headlines by winning Bobet's sacred stage to Briançon. But Bobet bounced back by destroying his competition on the feared Mount Ventoux after a long solo victory. It proved to be the key to his third Tour victory.

Bobet's victory on the Mount Ventoux was of the stuff that becomes legendary in Tour history. At the start of the stage, Bobet is still more than 11 minutes down to the unheralded Antonin Rolland. At the foot of the 21-kilometer climb, the Swiss champ attacked with Raphäel Geminiani and no one could follow. (Bobet and Geminiani picture below.)

However, the Swiss misjudged the difficulty of the climb and faded badly. Bobet, who understood the true menace of the famed mountain, bided his time. In the final six kilometers, above the tree line in under the blazing sun, Bobet caught and passed the leaders. No one could match his driving pace. At the summit Kubler was already 20 minutes down and by the finish in Avignon, Bobet was alone.

By his own admission Bobet was never the same after the 1955 Tour. However, he did win the Paris-Roubaix Classic in 1956. He had placed 3rd in 1955, and had previously placed 2nd in 1951. Louison Bobet won the World Championship Road Race in 1954, was 2nd in 1957 and 1958. 

Bobet’s career was effectively ended in December 1961 when his car skidded off the road and hit a boulder. Bobet broke his femur and his recovery was long and difficult. He eventually raced again, but retired the next year at the end of 1962.

Born 1925, Louison Bobet died of cancer in 1983 at the young age of 58. After his death, there was speculation that the saddle sore that had plagued him in his last Tour win, was much more than a simple boil, and may have been cancer. In the 1950s cancer was a taboo subject and no one talked of it. If that was the case, his win showed the sheer guts and determination of the man.

Bobet’s Tour victories came between Fausto Coppi (Above leading Bobet.) and Jacques Anquetil, both men spoke highly of him. Coppi once said of Bobet. “He knows like nobody else how to suffer and his powers of recovery are unmatched. The bike means everything to him. It is truly his life blood and his application to his chosen way of life is an example to every aspiring champion.”

Anquetil (Above 3rd from left, with Bobet leading.) stated “In Bobet’s eyes there were no little races or unimportant victories. Every race mattered and he wanted to give his everything to his public. Bobet knew only one way of racing and that was to race to win, whatever the sacrifices demanded.”

These quotes reflect the respect and admiration of fellow riders and the public. He was certainly one of the heroes of my youth.


First posted March 2009 

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Little snippets from a past life as a framebuilder 

1.) In the early 1960s I worked as a milkman. I would arrive at the dairy at 6:00 a.m. and load up my battery powered electric milk truck. It had a top speed of about 15 mph. 

After driving to the start of my round, I would park the truck and carry the bottles of milk by hand to nearby houses, before moving the truck down the road and repeating the process.

The great thing about this job, I was paid for an eight-hour day, but was encouraged to finish earlier. I would memorize the milk order for every house so I didn’t need to look at my order book, and I ran the entire round which covered about ten miles.

I would be finished each day by 10:00 a.m. This gave me the rest of the day to ride my bike, and build the occasional bike frame. The only day I worked later was Friday when I had to collect the money and take orders for the following week. 

I bought rubber sole “Doc Martin” work boots that were guaranteed for six months, and would wear them out in three, take them back and get a free pair.

2.) When I had my framebuilding business in Worcester, England in the 1970s, a young boy from the neighborhood, aged about eight or nine years old would often stop by on his way home from school, and watch me build frames.

One day he brought his older brother, aged about fourteen, to look at my frames. After studying some finished frames, I had hanging in the shop, the older boy remarked, “They are very good, as good as the ones you can buy at the bike store.

3.) While working in the 
Masi shop in California, in the early 1980s I was doing a frame repair. I was replacing the right chainstay on a Masi frame. I had removed the damaged stay and was preparing the frame to receive the new one.

I stabbed my arm on the sharp point on the bottom bracket shell, and hit a main artery. Blood spurted out in a two-foot jet, pulsating to the rhythm of my heartbeat.

I stuck my thumb over the wound and applied pressure, while I was driven to the hospital. On arrival, I was placed in a wheelchair and taken to the emergency room. 

I sat there, waited, and waited my thumb still pressed tightly against my arm, afraid to let go, or I would surely bleed to death.

When I finally did see a doctor, I took my thumb away, there was no blood, and I could barely see a puncture wound. The doctor stuck a band-aid on it and charged me fifty bucks. A lot of money back then.

4.) In 1983 I opened my own frameshop in San Marcos, California. It was all work back then trying to get the business off the ground. 

The bane of my life was people soliciting and selling all manner of stuff I didn’t need. It got so bad that I would lock the door to the front office.

One day a guy walked in selling Kermit the Frog glove puppets. He had a puppet on each hand, with little red tongues that shot in and out, and immediately when into his sales pitch.

I shouted, “Who the fuck left the front door unlocked.” I walked towards the guy to show him the way out and lock the door behind him.

He must have thought I was about to attack him and he turned to run. The problem was the door had closed behind him, and he couldn’t turn the door knob because he had a Kermit the Frog puppet on each hand.

As I got closer, and closer, he kept glancing back over his shoulder with a look of sheer terror like an animal in the slaughter house. 

Just as I reached him, he got the door open and was through the front office and out the front door in a flash. I locked the door behind him and went back to work.

I wonder about this guy. Did he realize he was not really cut out to be a Kermit the Frog puppet salesman, and get a real job? 

Maybe after this incident he at least left one hand free to open the door for a quick getaway.

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