no one line

Bareknuckle Sprints
February 9, 2010, 2:03 pm
Filed under: accidents, crash, sprints, t-town, track bikes, track racing, velodromes

For your viewing pleasure, a compilation of out-and-out bareknuckle match sprints:

2000 World Championship Match Sprints, Gane versus Chiappa. No love lost between these two, apparently.

In the 1994 World Championship Match Sprint tournament the sprinter’s lane seems to be a mere suggestion. Semifinals: in Darryn Hill v Jens Fiedler, Fiedler forces Hill to the blue band so Hill forces Fiedler well out of the sprint lane. Coming up over that line that far is a special type of sharp elbows. Following that, in the same video, Nothstein employs the same tactic against Michael “The Big German” Hubner.

Maybe there was something particularly slippery about that track’s Turn Four. The finals of this tournament are here, part 1 and part 2; and to round out the tournament, Hubner and Fiedler duke it out for the bronze.

There’s also the famous match between Gordon Singleton and Koichi Nakano from the 1982 World Championships: round 1, round 2, round 3. Much nailbiting sprints can be found at this youtube channel: “See all 167 videos” … good luck getting anything done at work today.

In the realm of full body contact is the 2009 collision between countrymen Kevin Sirreau and Gregory Bauge: a recovery slick enough for trickster fixed gear videos.

Of course, any mention of bareknuckle sprinting would be incomplete without the famous ‘keirin carnage’ incident at the Trexlertown Velodrome, and among classic Keirin dumpfests is this football match. As a parting note – since I got on the subject of keirin – I can’t do it justice unless I link to this stunning performance by Theo Bos, who’s currently hacking it out as a road sprinter with a sullied reputation.

Have any more? Feel free to link for me and our readers in the comments.

Philadelphia and Fixed Gears
November 25, 2009, 5:55 pm
Filed under: accidents, fixed gears, politics

Warning: this post required that I lead with a picture that I found bu Google Image Searching “hipster fixed gear.” So I did. You’re forewarned.

Philadelphia is, apparently, seeking to fine people riding brakeless fixed gears. This article reads like a list of things I hate about journalists writing about fixed gears. It writes and perpetuates just about every fixed gear stereotype available to somebody who logged on to for the first time. Are there riders who are not good at riding or stopping their bike? Yes. Are all of them fixed gear riders? No.

Furthermore, this notion that out-of-control fixed-gear riders are a public menace is absurd considering the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed every year by automobiles and their drivers. In New York City, killing somebody with your car is the best way to get away with murder – it’s assumed to be the cyclist’s or pedestrian’s fault. Despite the law, cars have the right of way.

I’m not going to step up and defend fixed gears or the riders thereof. I just don’t care that much, despite the fact that one of my main rides is a track bike. Mostly, I hate the lazy, simple categorization (a shining example of expedient stupidity), demonstrated perfectly by author of the piece linked above. I hate the seasoned idiots who shake their heads at a broad class of newbies. And I hate the focus on it. I’m willing to step away from anticar rant to acknowledge that there are myriad bad bikers out there, and if anybody wants to correlate poor cycling with use of a brakeless fixed gear, well then, let me see some data, not anecdotal crap, backing it up.

And, for any driver that’s reading this and thinking I knew those cyclists were all bad bikers, please remember a few things: you speed, on streets and on highways. You know that light wasn’t still yellow. You know you cut off that person. You know you don’t use your blinker every time. Few people have a high horse in this argument, myself included. I consider myself a safe cyclist albeit one who runs red lights and does other scofflaw behavior. I will say this, though: the bike infrastructure improvements in New York City have made me a much, much more law-abiding cyclist. Go figure.

A far more level-headed approach to the whole debate/debacle was written in the Guardian’s Bike Blog a few weeks ago. It offers a perspective shift just in the title: “Antisocial Cycling Is Annoying, But Not Harmful.”

Annoying, not harmful.

Something to keep in mind, Philadelphia.

Bring Gabe Home: A Raffle and Fundraiser
November 9, 2009, 3:54 pm
Filed under: accidents, crash, teamwork, the cycling world

Gabe is a big, tall, smiling bundle of friendliness and subtle, simmering humor. Since a collision with a car while he was on vacation in San Francisco in August, he’s been working his way out of a coma, recovering from some fairly serious brain damage. Medical updates have been posted on Get Better Gabe by loving family members and his incredibly supportive and strong girlfriend, and they report so much progress.

I was incredibly proud to be a part of a benefit party in August that raised money to send to them, to help support them while they subletted, staying in a city far away from home to care for him. I posted some information on this blog and on twitter, and some of my readers, several of whom I’ve never met, had contributed to this get-well-soon, we’re-thinking-of-you, we’d-like-to-help-somehow fund. That generosity touched me.

A crucial next step is getting Gabe home, and an Air Ambulance is incredibly expensive. There is a raffle to raise money to bring him home where he can continue his recovery. The top prize? An all-expenses-paid custom frame from Maietta Cycles, built by Tony Maietta, a childhood friend of Gabe’s. I met Tony this past weekend at the Cycle-Smart Invitational, complimented him on his frames, admired his support of Gabe’s recovery, and drooled over the ‘cross bike that he was racing.

If you don’t know Gabe, and don’t know Maietta’s bikes, take it from me: you want Gabe back home, and you want a Maietta.

The full sized flier for the raffle is here, and there is plenty of information at Get Better Gabe and Tony’s blog. A ticket is $20, which is a small price to pay for either getting Gabe back east, or a shot at riding a Maietta. I’ve bought my ticket. Have you?

Rider Down. Help Needed.
August 17, 2009, 3:54 pm
Filed under: accidents, crash

I’ve seen bike people do some amazing things. No, I’m not talking about sweet wheelies, I’m talking about helping each other out. Last year, a bunch of friends were injured; people just up and gave money. “You’re in a hard place, your bike is wrecked, here’s a few bucks.” Add it up from a few dozen friends and it gets to be a sum that’s helpful in a rough spot. Maybe it won’t buy a new bike, but it will help – if only in making the small day-to-day stuff easier. With some extra cash you can order food instead of trying to shop for yourself while injured. Later in the summer, one local rider was almost crushed by a truck, severely injured, and in the course of about a week, enough parts were donated to build her a bike. Let me rephrase that: everyone chipped in and gave her a bike. A shop offered an extra frame, and everybody else chimed in, offering an extra this or that, lying unused in the parts bin, and in a few days she went from having a beautiful but crushed bike to having a new one, from friends.

Wow, right?

We’re doing it again. In times of trouble, when folks are in need, it’s the community’s responsibility to help shoulder the burden. When many shoulder it, it’s hardly a weight at all.

Hell, we can even do it with a party.

Gabe – an all-around great guy, regular out at the Kissena Velodrome – has been laid up in the trauma ward in a San Francisco hospital since a run-in with a car on Thursday.

Friday night at the Wreck Room, from 7 to 11 PM, there will be bands, DJs, dancing, beer, auctions, raffles, dates, and other sweet things. Money collected from this will be sent to Gabe’s parents and to his girlfriend, to help defray some of the expenses of keeping their vigil at his bedside. Housing, food, some ancillary medical expenses.

Those of you readers who are inclined to donate a few dollars to help out a stranger can do so by clicking here. Yes, it says “Gabe’s Vegan Cupcake Fund.” Don’t be confused.

Maybe we can raise a thousand bucks. Maybe more. It’s just money. But sometimes money can also be dozens or hundreds of people, from three thousand miles away, saying, “We’re thinking about you and we came together because of you.”

We’re all pulling for you, Gabe.

The Deer
August 11, 2009, 11:37 pm
Filed under: accidents, fun

This summer, me and the boys have spent some time in the farm country north of New York City, in the hills and valleys outside of Poughkeepsie, where there’s a farm house that needs scraping and painting and strong, undermployed young folks to pay to do so, and lots of sweeping country roads for evening rides.

Tired from working and tired of training, we went out one evening for a fun ride. No spandex, no helmets, no big ring, just fun. “Can you do a 180 degree skid?” Sure! I wound up destroying my race tire. Oops.

We got into a fierce debate about aerodynamics and descending skills (aided by the post-work, pre-ride beer), so we set about articulating the rules of a contest:

1. We start from a stop atop a crest, in the same gear, and allow ourselves a single pedal stroke to clip in and gain a roughly equal momentum.
2. Drafting is allowed.
3. The winner is the person who goes the farthest.

We line up and push off and clip in and enter our best aero tucks, rolling along at seven or eight miles an hour and slowly gaining speed down down the road. We’re wobbling with the low speed of it all but we pick it up until we’re descending, still at unimpressive speeds, but crouching as low as we can and casting fierce looks at each other.

Three of the four of us are not satisfied with the results competition so we continue to pedal and shittalk until we come to the next part of the road that provide a good starting line, and, rolling at the same speed, begin the competition.

This time, we get up to some more speed and are flying down the road, grimacing with the effort of holding the smallest, tighest aero tucks we can conjure up.

Suddenly, Al cries out from behind me, “Dear up!” and in front of me, William yells out, “Gear up? WE SAID NO SHIFTING OR PEDALING!” but before he completes his sentence, a deer runs out from the woods next to the road, across our line, practically brushing William’s nose.

If his tuck was a hair more aerodynamic he’d have run smack into its flank, into the fury of its lanky legs and sharp hooves. Instead it clattered off to the road and disappeared into the underbrush on the far side of the road as we, wide eyed, sat up on our bikes.

A sphincter-clenching moment, to be sure.

August 6, 2009, 1:44 pm
Filed under: accidents, bikes, the cycling world

Squarebuilt bicycles are among the nicest handmade bikes coming out of New York City (with a nod to Johnny Coast, who’s been doing it a bit longer). I’ve had my hands a few of the frames made in this little shop, and they sure are lovely.

Apparently, a few of them are more than a little bit cursed. Messenger bikes are footsoldiers in a very odd war, and Joey Krillz’s bike (before and after) is the latest fatality. Fortunately he’s fine – the bike was smashed by a truck while locked up, which is kind of like surviving the sinking of the Titanic only to die of pneumonia on the Carpathia. Regretably, it’s not the first. Krillz’s colleague Drew has had some ill tides wash over his Squarebuilt (before and after), and said, “Squarebuilt bicycles are the kamikaze pilots of the custom frame world. They burn bright, make their masters proud and die young in horrifying, senseless collisions.”

What to do after a collision?
June 2, 2009, 6:53 pm
Filed under: accidents, crash, the cycling world

This morning, on my way to work, I happened upon a collision scene. A schoolbus with a very mangled bicycle underneath it, and a scraped and bloody rider. The driver had, apparently, failed to check his mirrors before turning, and the rider got hooked. Fortunately she fell off before the bike got sucked under the bus’s wheels. She was scraped up but wasn’t majorly injured. I called 911 anyway, to get the police to come so that she could file an accident report. Well, because of either standard protocol or not hearing “no major injuries,” they dispatched an FDNY fire truck and ambulance, out of which tumbled six or eight people who proceeded to immobilize her spine.

Her bike is locked up on the SW corner of Bedford and S.10th street in Brooklyn, and if you see it, take it as a reminder to stay safe and smart out on the streets.

If you get hit, even if it’s minor, call the police and file a police report. It serves as an official documentation of the collision (I avoid using the word “accident”), which you absolutely need if you want to follow up with the driver’s insurance company. That is, if you want them to pay your medical bills or replace your bike. You never know what will hurt after the adrenaline wears off, and you never know what’s broken that you won’t see on the first pass over the bike. Maybe your frame is cracked. Maybe you’ve got a minor concussion. In New York, the car driver’s insurance company has the responsibility for covering those things. File a police report and then submit a No Fault Claim with the insurance company.

There’s lots more information floating around. I’d start by checking out the Know Your Rights manual, which is aimed at messengers. Also, Transportation Alternatives provides a list of cyclist-friendly lawyers, should you need one.

If you’re going to be on the street a lot, you entertain the possibility that you’ll get hit by a car. Know what to do so that you’re not left in the cold, with a broken body and a broken bike. Knowledge is power.

Route 9W
November 19, 2008, 8:48 pm
Filed under: accidents, the cycling world

Those of us in New York City who feel the frustration of dealing with red lights every tenth of a mile and a world-class levels of automobile congestion, there is always Rt 9W, and Nyack.

It’s easy to get to. Ride up Manhattan in a leisurely warm-up pace via the West Side Bike Path or Central Park, and cross the George Washington Bridge. If you’re sentimental, take a moment to appreciate the feeling of being hundreds of feet over a mile-wide river.

There, in New Jersey, is the ride for area cyclists. Oh, there are other rides and other routes of course, but Nyack is the quick and easy choice. It’s as close as you can get. The road is well-paved with a generous shoulder. There are lengthy flats, a few rolling hills with short climbs and quick descents that make for enjoyable terrain.

When out there you will see other cyclists. Hordes of them. Impromptu pacelines may form amongst strangers – we exchange a few words of greeting and rely on our common language: a flick of an elbow, a sweep of the hand. If you flat, whether or not you’re alone, somebody will slow and ask if you’ve got everything you need.

And I’m quite certain that car drivers are used to seeing so many cyclists, in groups, gaily dressed in our tight, colorful finery, that it’s generally safer to ride there – even while cars fly by at 55+ mph – than it is in many other places.

So it comes with discomfort to hear the news of a terrible crash a few days ago, that left a cyclist being treated while in a medically-induced coma. Details are scarce; several days ago I had heard the rider’s description in an effort to identify him.

Best wishes to Camille Savoy, and to everybody else on the road. And a reminder – carry identification and emergency contact numbers. And, among the thrill of 29 mph pacelines and 50mph descents, ride with a healthy sense of self-preservation. The fewer ghost bikes that are installed, the better.

And it should go without saying that those of you who are bi-curious in your transportation choices: when you get behind the wheel of a car, take care. Your sense of safety is dulled by your steel armor and the ease with which pressure on the pedal translates to acceleration. The people on the outside – in our neighborhoods, on our streets – are at risk.