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Tuesday
Jan282014

The Story of a 1985 Criterium

The following piece used to be on my now defunct Prodigal Child website. Written by Russell Rollins, about a bike that I built, and he owns. A well written essay, which after re-reading I thought I would share it once again here, with pictures:

"It seemed a small moment in life. One of those passing coincidental events that would come and go then cataloged in the back of the mind. In the beginning I failed to see how much it would mean to me over the next few days.

He built a bicycle in 1985, I bought it in 1993. "He" was Dave Moulton. It's important for me to tell you that I am not a "cyclist", nor am I an athlete, nor am I a sportsman - I am not competitive. If there is a stereotype of the kind of person who would own a bike like this, I am the opposite.

It was during the mid-1970's that I bought a bike from Beach Bike in Galveston. I paid something around $200 for it, which was half my monthly income. The bike was a Motobecane Grand Record. The frame was black with red graphics and gold pin striping. I was drawn to the bike because of the lugs. The lugs were the pieces of metal that joined the tubes of the frame together.

Normally, these are round or flat edged and provide strength while holding the tubes in alignment. The Motobecane was different, the lugs were sculpted.

Carved scrolls of hand cut steel forming intricate lace at the ends of the tubes. It was art and the artist highlighted the shapes with gold pinstripes.

I held on to that modest bike until 1993 when it was stolen from my garage. It broke my heart to have lost that unique piece of craftsmanship. I immediately began searching for a replacement. The new hi-tech models of the early 90's were impressive. New materials and components were light-years ahead of my old bike.

But there was something missing, something that couldn't be found in mass produced frames and over the counter components. Campagnolo was nowhere to be found, replaced by Japanese manufacturers. These were just clones to me. They all looked alike, at least they did in my mind.

One day I was strolling through Daniel Boone Cycles talking to Joy Boone about my old bike and how much I loved its "art" over its technical appeal. Hanging on the wall at the back of the shop I saw the "lugs". Chrome, sculpted, brilliant, the light was startling. It appeared to bend and intensify as it reflected. The entire bike stood apart as a Lamborghini would in a showroom of Fords.

Moving closer toward the bike the white pearl paint sent out laser beams of color so subtle it was more of an experience than a physical presence. The cobalt blue "dave moulton" lettering was understated and elegant.

And the chrome, it was a flawless mirror finish that reflected and refracted light and image from every angle.

The components were not simply parts bolted to the frame, they were born to the frame.

On the brakes were small jewels, blue round semiprecious stones that captured light and threw it back in lightning bolts.

The frame reached out and held them, a mother and her children. Each piece carefully matched for form, function and of course beauty.  It was timeless.

This bike was not built, it was created. As God creates men, men imitate God by creating machines. The soul of a man's creation begins in his heart and passes through his hands.  If he is right, if he is passionate, the creation will bear his soul. If you don't believe me it is only because you haven't touched this creation.

I spent the next few years riding the bike and absorbing its charisma and personality. I didn't ride for competition, I didn't ride in "packs". The experience for me was more ethereal. I wanted to be alone, I wanted to be hypnotized by the cadence and constant rhythm.

It didn't matter if it was in the city or in the countryside, the release was the same. There is a harmonic balance to the ride. The gyroscopic motion of the wheels and the sonic music of the spokes singing in the wind travels from wheels to frame. The steel frame of the Dave Moulton has its own musical note, a tuning not found in other types of material. Composites and aluminum do not harmonize.

It is the blended steel frame that has a musical note, each bike having a unique sound depending on the size and metal. You won't "hear" it on other bikes, only those that are perfectly tuned like a musical instrument. The "note" enters the body of the rider and soothes the soul with music. It is an addiction.

                                                                                                                As I rode I would think about the bike and its creator. I knew little about him. He was a man I knew had sat across the table from champions. His bikes were bred as magnificently as a horse in the Kentucky Derby, and I'm riding one!

Over the years I began searching the internet for anything I could discover about Dave Moulton. At one point I found a website for Dave's shop in California. At Last! But the phone number was disconnected. Another dead end.

Then about a year ago I was able to gather some information from the Classic Rendezvous website. They had a short bio on Dave and some grainy photos of a figure hulking over a frame with a welding torch. It said something about his music career, but gave no contacts or forwarding information. It added to his mystique and elusiveness. I had more questions than answers.

Two weeks ago I came across Russ Denny's site and his mentorship with Dave. Russ and I emailed a few times and he posted the pictures of my bike on his site.

The following Monday morning my jaw dropped to my knees when I saw an email in my inbox - "From: Dave Moulton". It was an extra-terrestrial contact. He existed and he was alive and he was here... in my Inbox.

The following emails were short. He shared with me small details of his life past. I learned from his website that he quit frame building the year I bought the bike. Since then he pursued his creative energy through music and writing.

Today I am looking at the bike with the same wonderment I had that day in Boone Cycles. Before this chance encounter with Dave I was ready to let the bike go to someone else to be appreciated all over again. I wanted someone else to take up the search. Now I am certain it will stay with me forever.

The colors still dance in the light. It is still a chameleon that changes with the light and mood. It is a time machine, a timeless machine. Like art, time only enhances its beauty. Of all its qualities that I admire, it is its ability to create dreams that is most remarkable. After all, it's only a bike, a mere child's toy."

Russell Rollins. May 13, 2004

 

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Tuesday
Jan212014

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 start to 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. Is riding a bicycle on the highway is a prime example this?

I know to even suggest such a thing will cause outrage among a great many cyclists, but before we all get our anti-bacterial padded shorts in a twist, let’s think about this. 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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Saturday
Jan112014

Creativity and Child’s Play

People will sometimes say to me, “I wish I was creative.” We all start out creative; a child’s imagination is pure creativity. The problem is the creativity gets educated out of the child. 

A child will approach an adult with some fantastic story and the adult immediately shoots it down with, “Oh that’s not true, you made that up” when probably a better response would be, “Did you make that up, that’s really a cleaver story.” (Typo left in place, see comments below.) 

Children need to be taught the difference between fact and fantasy, but encouraged to be creative because what is writing a novel but making stuff up and writing it down. In other words child’s play. 

In the above video, (Which is not only informative, but also entertaining. ) Ken Robinson describes creativity simply as, “Having original thought that is of value.” He also talks about a need for change in schools, universities, and in industry, where creativity is discouraged. 

I also recently learned that cursive hand writing is no longer taught in schools. If nothing else a child needs to learn how to sign their own name in cursive script. I am hearing stories of teens and twenty year olds only able to print their name. A person cannot go through life without signing their name on documents, checks, etc. If schools won’t teach this it is up to parents and grand-parents.

The above video can also be viewed on Ted.com

 

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Friday
Jan032014

Winter Cycling Gloves

 

For die hard cyclists who train right through the winter, or maybe those who commute to work each day in all kinds of weather, a proper pair of winter cycling gloves, is a must.

I recently had the opportunity to try out two pairs of five finger winter gloves made by Castelli and Louis Garneau. 

The first pair I tried were the Castelli Diluvio Deluxe Gloves. (Picture left.)

Different than the usual approach to glove making, these are designed for keeping your hands warm, not only in cold conditions but cold, wet conditions, like winter rain or sleet. 

Made from neoprene, the same material wet suits are made from. The kind used by scuba divers and surfers.

The Castelli Diluvio Deluxe gloves are constructed from 3mm neoprene. The gloves insulate in order to keep out both wind and cold temperatures, but are thin enough that the wearer can feel the brake levers and gear controls.  

The design of these gloves is somewhat unique. Most gloves when not being worn lay flat with the fingers straight. These Castelli neoprene gloves when off the hand have the fingers pre shaped and curved.

When the gloves are put on the hand, the wearer’s fingers naturally take up the position they will form when wrapped around the handlebars or brake hoods. With the fingers pre curved in this way the neoprene material on the inside of the fingers has less of a tendency to bunch up.

A textured grip on the palm (See right.) makes sure the rider’s hold on the bars remains secure at all times, even in wet conditions. The glove has a long cuff that extends about four inches up the wrist, long enough to tuck into the sleeve of a jacket. This is very important because the blood flow to the hand needs to be kept warm in order for the hands to be warm. 

Because moisture can accumulate from sweat, is a good idea to turn the gloves inside out after a ride to allow them to dry, and disperse any smell that may accumulate. The gloves need to be hand washed and air dried.

These gloves are stylish and good looking. The company’s logo graphic is on the back of the hand, along with the Castelli name. A nose wipe strip on the back of the thumb, made from a soft fleecy fabric is a useful addition.

Although few materials excel at defeating the cold as well as neoprene, this material will keep out a light drizzle, it is not completely waterproof. However, like a wetsuit which is also worn next to the skin, the more water you encounter, the warmer that the gloves become. The Castelli Diluvio Deluxe Gloves come in the color Black and in the sizes Small/Medium, Large/X-Large, and XX-Large.

 

The second pair of gloves I tried were the Louis Garneau LG Shield Gloves. (Picture left.)

I am told that of Garneau's five-finger gloves, these are the warmest, and offer protection from wind, rain, sleet, and snow.

Unlike the Castelli neoprene gloves that are made from a single layer, the Garneau Shield Glove retains warmth by using layers of different materials.

This is accomplished by combining a 3M Drytex lining with varying thicknesses of Thinsulate interlining. There is more insulation layers around the fingers and less at the palm, which makes sense.

The exterior of the gloves is constructed of Garneau's Breathable Twillwave with a fully waterproof and breathable Hipora membrane.

There is a small ventilation panel in the middle of the palm (Pic. Right.) designed to allow sweat to evaporate.

A Faux Leather Amara palm, which fully extends inside all fingers and thumb, has strategically-placed foam padding at the base of the palm.

This glove has a soft nose wipe on the back of the thumb, and a Velcro tab to adjust the wrist closure for a snug fit. (See picture right.)

The gloves are warm and comfortable, and provide a good grip. Reflective piping on the back of the glove, (See above left.) provides some added visibility, when giving hand signals in the dark.

The Garneau LG Shield Gloves come in sizes Small through XX-Large and comes in a nice shade of black.

Both pairs of gloves are excelent quality, and performed well, although I did not get to try either in extreme wet conditions. Of the two I would slightly favor the Luis Garneau gloves, but for no reason other than they had a more familiar feel.

Note: After you click on the links to Evan’s Cycles at the beginning of each separate review, the glove prices can be set to your local currency at the top of each page.

 

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Thursday
Dec262013

Take a look at what is in your energy bars and sports drinks

Energy bars have become the standard and convenient way for cyclists to carry food when racing or training. Used by professional cyclists in events like the Tour de France most amateur cyclists and weekend warriors follow suit, not even stopping to look at what they might be consuming.

Protein shakes have become popular among body builders and other athletes as a way to lose fat and pack on lean muscle. A whole new Sports Nutrition industry has sprung up, and a lot of misinformation is being fed to athletes along with the food products.

Most meal replacement protein shakes and energy bars contain Soy Protein Isolate. (Read the ingredients label.)

"Soy protein isolate is a dry powder food ingredient that has been separated or isolated from the other components of the soybean, making it 90 to 95 percent protein and nearly carbohydrate and fat-free."

On the face of it that might seem okay, but like all highly processed foods, it has little or no nutritional value left. The same with “High Fructose Corn Syrup,” another ingredient in many energy bars. It is corn processed until all that remains is pure carbohydrate and again very little nutritional value.

Some energy bars have the ingredient “Organically Grown Brown Rice Syrup.” This sounds much better than “High Fructose Corn Syrup,” but again it has little or no nutritional value, and is just the sugar or carbohydrate isolated from rice instead of corn.

The problem also with brown rice based products is that many of these are grown in fields that were previously used to grow cotton, and were sprayed with arsenic as an insecticide. This arsenic stays in the soil for years, and is absorbed by the rice.

Arsenic also occurs naturally in some soil, the problem is that rice absorbs arsenic more readily than other plants. Even if it is not enough to kill a person, ask yourself, do you even want to consume even trace amounts of this poison?

Soy too can be highly toxic. What makes soy products even worse is that 90% to 95% of soy grown in the US is Genetically Modified. It is modified to withstand the herbicide “Roundup.” This means the fields can be sprayed with this widely used weed killer and it will not kill the soy plant.

The active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is called glyphosate, which is responsible for the disruption of the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle. "It's an endocrine buster," says UK pathologist Stanley Ewen, "that interferes with aromatase, which produces estrogen."

It is especially dangerous to females and unborn children. There can be miscarriages or birth defects. Men and young boys can experience Gynecomastia. (Breast enlargement, or man boobs.) Some men experience decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.

There is a lot of information on the subject of processed food on the Internet. I have provided a few links in this article, these in turn link to many more. Far be it for me to tell people what to eat, but I am finding it is not always a good thing to believe blindly what the food, and sports nutrition companies tell us.

I’ll agree that energy bars are convenient, but I have stopped using them altogether. I drink filtered tap water, and take electrolyte tablets to replace the lost salts and minerals. For the most part I have stopped consuming any highly processed food.

You might consider limiting energy bars to their use when racing only. If you are consuming them on a daily basis even when not riding, ask yourself what nutritional value are you getting? And worse are you slowly poisoning yourself?

When I started racing back in the 1950s and 1960s, there were no energy bars. My mother made me a solid rice pudding with raisins in it, sometimes a bread pudding. I would cut this into pieces and wrap in foil or grease proof paper.

Three ounces of deli roast beef has 24 grams of protein, a beef sandwich has as much protein as the average protein bar. On your next long ride, try taking some cold boiled potatoes. Small, bite size, boiled so they are soft enough to bite into, but not so soft they break or get squished in your pocket. Carried in a plastic bag they are easy to munch on as you ride.

Potatoes have a high glycemic index, which means they are quickly turned into energy. They are a nutrient rich source of potassium and vitamin C. Make sure you eat the skin because that’s where most of the nutrients are.

You can also make your own energy bars, that way you know what is in them. Some natural foods like bananas, potatoes, are not as compact as an energy bar, so I have gone back to what I did in the 1950s.

I carry a musette on my longer rides. (Left.) This can be folded up and put in my jersey pocket when empty. We used to call them a “Bonk Bag” for good reason, but thinking about it, it is more an “Anti-Bonk Bag.”

 

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