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Thursday
May082014

Sawmill Bike Path, closure at Bacons Bridge Road.

This post is for the benefit of my local area cyclists. The popular Sawmill Branch Walk and Bike Path in Summerville, South Carolina, is closed at the bridge that takes the path under Bacons Bridge Road (165.) due to road widening and bridge work. I am sure it will be closed for the rest of 2014 and may run into next year.

There is a fairly easy diversion but it is not official and consequently is not marked. If traveling east, turn left on the paved path just past the Pump house, about a quarter mile before Bacons Bridge. The path joins residential streets, turn right, and right again on Holly Street.

Holly Street emerges on Bacons Bridge just above an entrance to the bike path on the opposite side. Bacons Bridge is a busy main road, but experienced cyclists should not have a problem crossing. I am sure this diversion will not be officially marked because of the problem of crossing Bacons Bridge. I would not recommend it for the inexperienced or feint hearted.

The good thing is, in either direction you make a right onto Bacons Bridge Road, so you wait for a gap in traffic, then turn right. Oncoming traffic on the opposite side is clearly visable. Take the lane, and wait for a gap in the opposing traffic, and complete the next left turn. Make sure you use a hand signal so everyone knows what you are doing. The road works on the bridge does tend to work in our favor, as it slows traffic.

If traveling west towards Down Town Summerville, take the right fork where the trail splits, and emerge on Bacons Bridge. Turn right, and left in about 50 yards into Holly Street. In about a quarter of a mile turn left (It’s a dual entrance, with a sign that says "Arbor Oaks.") after turning go straight, and after a right hand curve, look for the path entrance on the left, to rejoin the Sawmill Trail.

The Sawmill Branch Trail Is used as a safe route to get from one end of Summerville to the other. Many cyclists on weekend rides on local rural roads use the Sawmill Trail as a means to get there. I intend to keep using the trail during these road works, I hope others will find this diversion useful. Please, stay safe and use extra care while using this alternate route.

 

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Monday
May052014

Art, and the Artist’s Ego

I had an interesting discussion the other day. I stated that without the artist’s ego, there would be no art, and who would create anything if they thought no one would look at it?

There was immediate disagreement and counter argument that the joy is in creating itself. And if the artist creates what others like rather that what he likes then is it really art? I don’t entirely disagree with either of these statements.

I am very much aware of artists who go “commercial,” and create what is popular with the masses. I see that every day in crap TV programs, movies and music. I appreciate when artists create what they believe in. Without a pioneer spirit nothing new would be created.

However, the original statement was concerned with the artist’s ego and one has to look closely at the word “Ego.” We are often taught that to have an ego is a bad thing, but I look at the dictionary definition and it means “Self-esteem,” a person’s sense of worth.

On the other hand there is the word “Egotist,” which means “Self Centered,” is definitely not a good thing. Initially, artists create for their own gratification, the joy of looking at what they have done.

Does this joy not come from the boost to their self-esteem or ego? Who does not step back and look at their work and say to themselves, “Look at what I have done here, I am a pretty cleaver fellow.”

There comes a point however, where one must move on from this self-gratification and seek validation from others. This validation may not be immediately forthcoming, and this is where it is important for the artist to continue with what he truly believes in.

This is not always easy for the performing artist, musician, singer/songwriter, actor or comedian. By nature of their art, they must have an audience, validation from others. And ultimately so must every other artist, be they painter, sculptor, or writer. What would be to point in my writing here, if no one read it?

The artist always treads a fine line between pleasing themselves and pleasing others. Sometimes originality is so original that no one but the artist understands. They can carry on, hoping their audience will eventually “Get it.” Or they can tweak their art so others do understand and see value in it, without completely “Selling out.”  

There are many people who create for no other reason than their own relaxation. They draw or paint, or write in private journals with no intention of sharing. No one is obligated to share what they create.

However, just as the old question, does a tree falling in a forest make a sound if there is no one there to hear it? If an artist creates something and no one else sees it, is it really art?

And is it not the validation of an artist’s work by others, and especially input from his peers that enables an artist to grow, and create even better things?

What are your views?

 

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Thursday
Apr242014

Marketing

Marketing is always a tough nut for the artist. All he wants to do is create, but then there comes a point where he must market what he creates in order to survive and continue creating.

It is tough when you have a product that you know is superior, but lose sales because some large corporation has more marketing clout.

This happened many times with me in the 1980s when customers would be on the brink of buying one of my bikes, then at the last moment opt for a Japanese Nishiki, on Centurion. Both good bicycles of that era, but could never compare to a hand built frame made by an individual craftsman.

The only reason they did this was marketing. These large manufacturers could place full page color ads in Bicycling Magazine. But at $10,000 a pop for a such an ad there was no way I could compete.

I had to rely on bicycle dealers to sell to a small group of hard core cyclists who could appreciate the difference between a limited production hand built frame, and a factory mass produced item.

Today the Internet levels the playing field somewhat but only slightly. It still takes time and effort for an individual to build a following with social media, websites, etc. Does the individual artist have the time or inclination to do that?

I also feel it is a big mistake to be too pushy. I don’t know about you, but it turns me off when the only message people have is buy, buy, buy, whatever it is that I’m selling. I am a strong believer that it is better to give than receive, and if a person keeps writing stuff that people want to read, his needs will always be met. Of course marketing professionals will cringe at this.

I remember back in the 1980s having a conversation with neighboring business owner about the way all our manufacturing jobs were starting to go overseas. He stated, “We will eventually become a nation of people selling insurance to each other.”

I remember his prophesy because it is fast becoming true, we are becoming a nation of marketers. Look at the ads on TV, Big Pharma and Insurance Companies. The only hope insurance companies have of getting new customers, is to steal them from another company. The cost of all this advertising is eventually passed on to the consumer.

With no one is creating or manufacturing anything. (At least not here.) We have an awful lot of people at this moment selling ideas on how we should all market ourselves. We have all manner of consultants, life coaches, and investment coaches. It is like a homeless man on the street begging for change, and being told, “Give me ten dollars and I’ll show you how to monetize your homelessness.”

The old cliché of “The rat race,” is never as true as it is now in these tough economic times, as people scramble over each other to get ahead. A certain amount of marketing is necessary to sell a product, but it saddens me to see worthless brands and ideas that serve no other purpose but to take people’s money. Don’t push your fellow man down to get ahead, help him over the obstacle first, and he in turn will help you over.

 

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Monday
Apr142014

The good, the bad and the clueless

Whenever I write an article about cyclists running stop signs and red lights it brings many comments for and against.

According to some, it seems you can be on either side and still see yourself as a good safe cyclist, it is not black and white for everyone, it is a matter of opinion.

Those who ride through red lights, say they do so for their own safety, and though the letter of the law says a bicycle is a vehicle and as such should stop and wait like every other vehicle. The red light runners say it is a stupid law.

There are many stupid laws, and not just traffic laws, but as a society can we pick and choose which ones to follow? Or just break certain ones we can get away with because they are not adequately enforced.

Take the speed limit for example, a good law most will agree. Without it there would be even more carnage on our roads. Most people drive at five miles per hour over the speed limit, they feel there is a good possibility they can get away with that.

Some years ago I realized it was ludicrous to drive at 5 mph over the speed limit, just because everyone else does. So now I drive at the speed limit everywhere. I save on gas, I save on wear and tear on my vehicle, and I am never going to get a speeding ticket.

Traffic often backs up behind me, and people get annoyed and will come flying past me at the first chance they get, and I wonder why they are putting themselves through all that stress. I get to my destination just the same as they do.

I am following the letter of the law, if others want to go faster than the limit, why should I be forced to do the same and allow myself to be intimidated by some monster truck that is tailgating me.

The same thing when I ride my bike, I will stop for a red light. If I am first in line I will stop in the middle of the lane leaving enough room for any car who might want to turn on red.

When the light changes I stay in the center of the lane until I clear the intersection, then I move as far to the right as is practical. Like driving my car at the speed limit, I am following the letter of the law.

If I am not first in line at a light I will wait in the line of traffic, and stay out in the lane momentarily, long enough to make sure everyone knows I am there and I am not going to get “Right hooked,” then I will move over to the right and let the traffic flow by.

Anyone can change their driving habits or their bike riding habits. All it takes is the will to do it, but if a person can see no fault in the way they drive or ride a bike it is not going to happen. 

As for the clueless, they are the ones who it seems, don’t know any better, and are ignorant of any laws or rules that apply. They are the people on bikes who ride on the sidewalk in the wrong direction and suddenly appear in front of a car making a right or left turn. They are the ones who ride on the wrong side of the road at night without lights.

These people behave like pedestrians on bikes. Pedestrians cross against red lights all the time, therefore some feel it is okay to do it on a bike. If I choose to ride a bike, I am no longer a pedestrian, I am a vehicle and I behave as one. No one can say I am a bad cyclist if I follow the rules, any more than they can say I am a bad driver because I drive my car at the speed limit.

My feelings are, if in doubt it is always a good idea to follow the law. It at least makes sure everyone knows what the other person is doing. Throw people into the mix who make up their own rules as they go along, and you have a somewhat chaotic situation. 

Footnote:

I left the UK in 1979 to move to the US. At that time I had never seen a cyclist ride through a red light, I had never seen one ride on the sidewalk, (Pavement in the UK.) or ride towards traffic. I am not just talking about cycling enthusiasts, but any person on a bike, period. Up until that time the Highway Code was taught in schools, so we all knew the rules from an early age. Plus the local Bobby rode a bike so he would enforce the laws.

It was somewhat of a culture shock for me when I moved to the US and saw the “Ride anywhere, do as you please” attitude practiced by anyone on a bike. Judging by the above video, this same attitude now prevails in Britain. Caused no doubt by new generations that were never taught the Highway Code, and probably never rode bikes on the road as children.

 

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Thursday
Apr032014

Ridiculous

I have seen some crazy bike set-ups in my time, but this one I think beats all.

Looking at the amount of seat post showing it must be above its limit with barely half an inch in the frame. This 52cm. First Generation Fuso was obviously too small for its owner, and WTF is that handlebar stem extension?

Luckily it has been bought by a collector who already owns a custom ‘dave moulton’ and a Recherché, and I am sure will restore this to some measure of sanity.

It is okay to dress your own children funny, but please, not mine.

 

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