Filed under: General
It’s springtime, it’s not springtime.
A few days of 35+ degree temperatures got me outside for long hours in the past three days. After two and a half hours solo on Saturday, a chance encounter with a local buddy (detailed here) offered another hour or so of riding, and he showed me some new-to-me roads through the mountains that, in accordance with his description, made me practically whoop for joy. Swooping, arcing, rolling, descending. There’s nothing like it in New York City. I was happy for the company. We parted ways and I limped home another fifteen miles into a headwind, thinking fondly of food.
On Sunday, I went for a recovery ride, and instead, found myself tackling 1400 feet of elevation gain in about 8 miles. For the descent, of course. And today, truly on a recovery ride, I kept it in the 23 spinning up hills while my riding partner put me in the gutter on crosswinds and dropped me on highway overpasses.
Spring is coming. Sure, we’ll have more frost, and maybe another dump of snow in early April, or a March filled with cold rain. But spring is coming. I’m gluing up my race tubulars and ordering some more embrocation for those happy days when I can shed my legwarmers.
With the Tour Down Under providing fodder for early-season speculation (not to mention fashion criticism), us warmsick Northerners (under home arrest due to 12F temperatures) are starting to have enough reason to get excited for the coming race season. Personal, professional – it doesn’t matter. Whether you like your racing on the television (and internet) or in a colorful peloton all around you, knowing that it’s just a month and a half until Things Start Happening is bound to get your heart rate up.
Podium Cafe‘s interview with George Hincapie managed to get me excited for spring classics a full two and a half months before they roll around. On the sobering end of things, Tom Zirbel announced that his B sample tested positive for DHEA. Those with too much time on their hands scrambled to their preferred message board, trotting out either brickheaded condemnations or tenuous scientific claims. Things don’t quite add up for an out-and-out condemnation, and to Zirbel’s credit, he is forthcoming and doesn’t limit his media exposure to PR-friendly soundbites swearing his innocence.
While we’re forced to make do by bundling up and braving the temperatures – or just sitting at our computers – those lucky dogs actually got to ride and race bikes in Australia, where Andre Greipel (who looks like a skeleton robot when he wins) proved dominant despite the fizzling of HTC-Columbia’s leadout train. Early season speculation in full effect, I wonder if Hincapie’s departure from HTC-Columbia will ruin their train (and Cavendish’s dominance of Tour de France sprint stages). I wonder if Greipel will take a run at Cav’s job, or leave HTC altogether for a shot at the Tour de France.
It’s too early for such things, though – though a glance at the calendar is a reminder that fitness must be deep and the racing season is approaching. The cold weather must be braved. And truth to tell, even at this time of the year, I’d rather brave the cold weather than the toxic menace of messageboards populated by shiftless idiots, babbling incoherent vehemence in their cabin fever.
For all of the bike-nerd talking about materials, butted tubings, carbon weaves, integrated headsets, and aerodynamic wheels you’d think that this stuff was actually important in some way. Indeed, some people really think that bikes are a revolution of sorts, and the potential is there. While retrofitting American cities to be more conducive to automobile travel – in order to mitigate the inefficiencies and toxic effects of automobile reliance – is no doubt a way to bring this country into the 21st century, a very real, very immediate way that the presence of a bicycle can change a society can be seen in the Africa Bike project by BicyclingMagazing and Kona. Bicycles, as simple, reliable transportation in areas that are struggling to maintain and develop, can vastly increase the ability of health care providers to provide health care.
And while every classics season or Grand Tour I’ll eagerly click through whatever cycling-news venue is carrying the coolest pictures of pro rides sporting the latest industry developments, the really cool area of technological development of bicycles is in bamboo (interestingly enough, also present in pro racing). What’s the point of nonsense like this? Well, Bamboo bikes can have a significant impact on the developing world, and the mobility they afford can provide owners with 27 times the economic opportunity that they previously had.
The reason that all of this is compelling is the fact that bamboo, unlike steel, aluminum, or carbon fiber, is a frame material that can be locally grown. This drastically reduces the production overhead necessary to produce bicycles, enabling their production in developing societies. It’s the classic teach-a-person-how-to-fish scenario. Bamboo can bring bicycles, economic opportunity, and health care to the parts of the world where they’ll make the most difference.
Where bicycles actually are a revolution, not just a hobby or a way to feel ‘green.’ Kudos to the Bamboo Bike Project, to Calfee, to Bicycling Mag, and to Kona for their work.
When I first started discovering New York City’s myriad nooks and crannies as an adult, one of the first things that captured my attention was the mural of Joe Strummer on the corner of Avenue A and 8th St. I had heard the stories of the neighborhood – the squats, the riots – and saw the punks still hanging out with their packs of dogs in Tompkin’s Square Park, saw the food handouts and the line of folks in need.
This photo, by Fred Askew, grabs the attention and the imagination all over again.
Sidewalk bike repairmen are all over those neighborhoods. They remind me that “bike culture” isn’t made up exclusively of things that bloggers rant about. Across the city, country, and world, people use bikes as tools and as toys, without the same level of competition, consumption, and festering need to improve or upgrade.
The Velosopher and I recently talked about the importance of smiling while riding your bike, to remind yourself that it’s fun, to break through the ice and scowls that can too-easily accidentally result from a number of things on the bike – those small, anonymous competitions, or the isolating nature of riding alone.
That picture made me smile, and I had to share it. It was taken by one off the heads behind Continuum Cycles, a fine small shop in New York City. Thanks, Fritz.
Filed under: General
All righty, I’ve moved the content from the No One Line @ Blogspot location to this one. I think it looks better! All the old content is now here; please accept my apologies if some of the formatting is a little bit mangled due to the transition.
Filed under: General
This is a placeholder for the cycling blog No One Line. For current content, click the link. Everything will be moved on over here when I am good and ready.