"The streets belong to the machines now. Thank you for granting us passage, metal majesty."
A friend passed this new TV series on to me...Adam Ruins Everything from TRUtv. Essentially the premise is the host, Adam, dismantles many of our preconceived notions about why things are the way they are. In this episode he takes on car culture, dealerships, transportation infrastructure, and where our love affair with the car really comes from. And while I was delighted that the statistics that were actually cited within the tv show were from many of the resources I have already read, (indeed some of these live on my book shelf) they are no less devastating. In fact, cramming them so entertainingly into 22 minutes may make this the best bang for your buck TV ever!
I'm sure many in Planning or those who can't break free from the idea that the car is the only way to get around will say that we live in 2015 so this is the world we have to build for. But that is a ridiculous argument when you understand that some of our greatest cities for walking and cycling and transit went down the car dominated road several decades ago and realized it was a dead end, quite literally. They turned away from a car dominated society and are now held up as the best examples of how city transportation should work. Better for quality of life, health, and society.
I decided to do a paring down of bikes and consolidate into one bike what seemed to be redundancies in various rides I'd accumulated over the years. My idea was to take my Gunnar Sport as the basic idea, with it's roadworthy ride characteristics as well as it's dirt abilities, and upgrade it, so to speak, with a locally made bike by Reno legend, Roland Della Santa. In the end this bike is to replace and consolidate several different in my stable with one bike that is even nicer.
I knew what I'd end up with would be nice, but after the first real ride out to the Verdi loop, I realized that I'd gotten even more than I'd bargained for. A road racing bike that takes a 35mm tire and still feels zippy. But more than that, I think I may now own the prettiest bike I've ever seen. And in my decades of bicycle obsession, I've seen a whole lot of amazingly beautiful bikes over the years. Forgive the many photos...I went a little crazy.
While waiting for my order at Laughing Planet the other day I snapped a few photos of their Greg LeMond and Roland Della Santa exhibit. I have to say I'm always intrigued by these less obvious color schemes and how classy they can look on a beautiful handmade bicycle frame. I never would have thought an olive green with yellow scheme would look so good but it works!
New Laundry Room Project
The main summer project from a few years ago at the Westfield villa is a new laundry room off of the dining room. Basically a partial conversion of part of the garage space. We ended up with a nice, sunny room, with a slider out to the garden which is in full bloom at this point.
It's not that person driven cars are completely going away in the near future. But even in smaller cities an educated guess would lead you to believe driverless cars, combined with car sharing, will dominate the roads by the end of the 2020s. That's a mere decade or so. So when urban "Master Plans" and the "Reimagining" of cities is occurring locally and around the country, who is considering this paradigm shift that is coming? And what do we do with the amazing amount of urban space that is earmarked for car parking right now?
It's been just over a year since I somewhat serendipitously picked up my first electric guitar. Who knew that a year of lockdowns would follow, distance and hybrid learning, and the need for ways to fruitfully spend time at home would become so pronounced? In that time, I've definitely been bitten by the guitar bug, most notably for the venerable Fender Telecaster model. There is just something special about this simple, but so so classically versatile, guitar. It just speaks to me. The fact that most of my favorite guitar "heroes" are known for Teles is probably one of the reasons why. But I'm also just plain thrilled with the noises you can get out of one of these. Particularly my purple road worn 50s tele which was a present from my wife, Karrie, for Valentine's Day. It was dialed right out of the box and just felt perfect. When a guitar makes even me sound better you know it's a good one. So while my skills are only slowly advancing, I'm thrilled to have this creative outlet to pursue at this point in my life and beyond. A whole world of fun stretches before me. Maybe one of these days I'll be bold enough to do a little video of myself demonstrating my meager skillset.
...and there's not a beard among them! But I guess none of them look old enough to grow a beard. The best thing about this series of photos is looking at the streetscapes behind them. That, and looking at the details of the machines they're riding. Some of the handlebars are amazing!
The morning commute in the winter can reward you with some gorgeous views of the Truckee River. Sadly, it also disturbs me with the growing homeless encampments along the route as well. Funny that people always ask me about how cold I get riding in (I don't because I have the gear for it). Especially ironic when it is someone who skis all of the time questioning me about exercising in winter.
It's not often that I take my day off to read a Masters Thesis but the subject matter was simply too compelling to pass up. After years of reading articles talking about he economic benefits of adding cycling infrastructure, even while taking away some of the on-street parking, it would be nice if this study done in Denver drove a stake through the heart of the ill-conceived notion that losing a parking space in front of a store will put you out of business. But my guess is certain business owners will clasp their hands over their ears even more firmly while chanting LALALALALALA because they can't get beyond the simplistic notion that a parking spot means more traffic through their door rather than understanding that creating a better overall safe and enjoyable place in a neighborhood will inspire far more traffic of all modes and make more people want to walk, bike, take the bus, and drive to shop and dine.
Choice Quotes from this study from the University of Denver Natural Science and Mathematics Department:
There are four broad conclusions within this research. First, Denver exhibits untapped potential for increasing the bicycle mode share, especially when bike trips are combined with transit trips. Second, bicycle facilities are correlated with statistically significant positive economic impacts for local businesses and do not have negative impacts. Third, PBLs improve overall safety for all users and encourage more “types” of bicyclists to use the facility. Lastly, PBLs increase overall bicycle traffic, while simultaneously decreasing the number of traffic violations and sidewalk riding counts. It represents a next step towards cultivating a method to provide an unbiased view of the direct economic impacts of cycling infrastructure improvements.
From the Conclusion of the Thesis:
This research revealed four central findings that contribute to the current transportation and bicycle literature and to future studies. First, Denver exhibits untapped potential for increasing the bicycle mode share, especially when bike trips are combined with transit trips. Many Denver residents live in close proximity to transit, which suggests that they can replace car trips with bike and transit trips. There is also considerable room to improve Denver’s on-street bicycle network to encourage people to ride bicycle for transport.
Second, bicycle facilities are correlated with statistically significant positive economic impacts for local businesses and do not have negative impacts. This research uncovers that new bicycle facilities do not hurt local businesses. In fact, the findings from the Larimer Street study area suggest that the new bicycle facilities significantly increased economic performance within the corridor, when compared to similar local streets. Modeling, time, and other constraints limited the ability to claim that the new bicycle facilities directly caused the economic increases. However, the analysis certainly suggests that the new bicycle facilities were a key component, and potentially the impetus, behind the improved economic performance. While this research was unable to claim direct causality, future studies can combine these methods with interviews or a more robust statistical model to assign causality.
Third, PBLs improve overall safety for all users and encourage more “types” of bicyclists to use the facility. The current lack of bicycle facilities represents the main barrier to increasing ridership levels. This research makes the case that new bicycle facilities can improve the overall safety and equity of the US’ bicycling transportation system. One cannot undervalue the importance of human safety, and this research highlights the key role of bicycle facilities in making US streets safer for all.
Lastly, PBLs increase overall bicycle traffic, while simultaneously decreasing the number of traffic violations and sidewalk riding counts. 15th Street experienced a 37% increase in bicycle traffic at the same time as a 33% decrease in traffic violations and a 54% decrease in sidewalk riding. The impressive increase in ridership, coupled with drastic decreases in sidewalk riding and traffic violation counts, point to new bicycle facilities as a win-win-win that attract more usurers to a space, while also encouraging many of the new users to obey the traffic laws at higher rates than before.
The preceding findings from this research highlight how the bicycle is an underutilized mobility tool with major room for growth in the current US transportation system. New bicycle facilities are tied to increased safety and use, and also appear to provide major economic benefits for the businesses located along the street improvement.
A mixed methods analysis of geographic sales tax, bicycle count, transit access, land use, and census data, paired with qualitative observational research, suggests how planners, policy makers, and other relevant stakeholders can build the best transportation network for Denver’s future.
The peak travel context informs this study on the economic and traffic impacts following the installation of new bicycle facilities. Emerging trends suggest that policymakers and transportation planners need to reconsider the belief that VMT levels will perpetually continue to increase. This study helps to address the need to understand how new bicycle facilities impact local neighborhoods, businesses, and the people who use them to get around the city. These findings speak to the logical reasons why Denver should build more bicycle facilities, but the intrinsic benefits of the bicycle as an inexpensive, efficient, cost-effective, healthy, low impact, local, sustainable, equitable, accessible, and enjoyable transportation mode, represent the true reasons why US cities must improve their bicycles networks and encourage more residents to have fun riding their bicycle for transportation (Rosen et al. 2007; Mapes 2009; Byrne 2010; Birk and Kurmaskie 2012; Pucher and Buehler 2012; Henderson 2013).
Mountain bike technology has come a long way. I've been riding bikes seriously for over two decades now and began with an unsuspended Specialized Rockhopper and graduated to another unsuspended Bridgestone MB-2 in the 90s. The handling on those bikes was precise and in particular, the Bstone was agile and as fun to ride as any bike I've ever owned. And pretty. It had a beautiful blood red paint job, and a biplane fork crown that was to die for.
Over the years I've fallen in and out of love with mountain biking depending on where I've lived. The midwest is a different animal in terms of mountain biking as opposed to riding in the rocky Sierras with our technical climbs and descents. I've now owned a full-suspension "26er", and now have a Jamis Dragon 29er. A 29er is a little big in feel for me at 5'6" but it rolls nicely over rocks and ruts with a front suspension fork. It also has hydraulic disc brakes which makes me extraordinarily more confident descending and makes riding with friends on the dirt more enjoyable.
But that gets to the point of this post. I went out riding on my refurbished Bridgestone MB-1 today and even though I was going slower in rocky descents, I enjoyed every minute of the agile and pinpoint steering of the unsuspended bike. This fact led me to the conclusion that should probably get out on this bike more often for my solo rides and leave the "modern" Jamis Dragon for my rides with friends or sub 24 hour camping trips where keeping together with friends might be the better choice.
With that I will just say...that no matter what you ride, new or old mountain bike, there is no denying the pure and beautiful aesthetics of a earlier mountain bike made from from a lugged steel. It beats the looks of a carbon labelled whatever made in Taiwan any day.
Owning a bike shop is a tough gig. Scratch that. Owning a successful bike shop is a tough gig. I was reminded of this when I swung by the new shop in town, Orange Pedal, on California Ave. I met the owners and like all bike people, they seem nice and I wished them all the best in the future. More bike shops is a good thing.
It was interesting to see that they are carrying the latest incarnations of the Bottechia bike company. I used to own an SLX lugged Bottechia with some beautiful chrome and a cool black and white paint scheme. It was my first "real" racing bike and I loved that it was Italian, has a full campy NR group on it, and sewups. I bought it as a hand me down frame from a racer in Lincoln, Nebraska, who worked at "my" bike shop, the venerable Deluxe Bicycles that no longer exists. The owner gave me the above mug as a gift. I think I bought 4 bikes from them when I was still in Nebraska.
The best thing about the shop was their knowledge and willingness to teach their clientele. It was that shop that gave me my first taste of the joys and frustrations of dealing with mounting, riding, and patching tubular tires. That skill is going to come in handy as I'm starting the process of refurbishing a 1979 Della Santa I acquired and the original equipment has sewups on it. I'll call it a good fall winter project and I'm looking forward to building up some new/old wheels. Pics to come...
And my new project bike!
I don't think I posted anything about the new/old configuration of my Rivendell Allrounder. One of my mainstay bikes since the late 90s, this bike still is eye-popping and looks close to new even though it has been ridden thousands of miles, including some pretty good loaded bike tours, over the years. The current configuration includes a switch out of the bars and pedals and generally making it more early era mountain bikey. The Deerhead shifter/derailleur setup is pretty blingy if not as crisp as the '93 XT setup I've been considering switching over to the bike. The bars are the main difference and they just happen to fit the feel of this bike perfectly.
The wonder of the bike has continued to be just how well it works as a jack of all trades, master of most, which I've written about before. Consider it the thoughtful ways that Grant Petersen of Rivendell thought about bikes before fatter tires in "road" frames, and bikes versatile enough to handle pavement well and dirt, became the new normal. Interestingly, I was recently pointed to an article on why we should be thankful for Petersen's input into the bike culture. The reasons are interesting enough, but don't emphasize quite how much he was a beacon for steel, leather, and sensible bike designs when Rivendell first emerged in the 90s as a counter to the carbon road racing bikes that cool handle a 25mm tire at best and were pretty useless for anything other than smooth tarmac. The article is here. If you haven't visited Jitensha Studios in Berkeley mentioned in the article (sporadically open it seems) it is worth it.
In the midst of all of the handwringing amongst the public, and particularly, cyclists, about self-driving cars, comes news that a company is developing robotic trikes to be used in bike lanes to make deliveries in our urban centers. As one who tends to think that getting humans out from behind the wheels of cars is a good thing, given that they are prone to texting and talking on their phones, applying make-up, changing clothes, etc. while driving, I'm actually thinking that small delivery vehicles with the appropriate AI technology, will actually be a good thing. Likely they would reduce delivery trucks that are driven by humans (though perhaps not for long). Reports I have read have indicated that the trucking industry with actual human drivers may be ending in the next couple of decades as robots take over.
So, can a robot trike safely coexist with cyclists in bike lanes? Certainly I'd take extra care around one if I was traveling along next to it but I can tell you that I'm far more nervous around cars crossing over a bike lane as they try to merge onto 395 or homeless people along the Truckee River path who often behave erratically when walking, or crossing the path. I think I'll put my trust that whatever algorithm some programmer comes up with for these robotic delivery trucks over irrational human behavior.
The article is here but her is an excerpt:
Refraction AI, a robotic delivery startup, plans a lightweight delivery robot for both bike lanes and roads.
The company is the brainchild of University of Michigan professors Matthew Johnson-Roberson and Ram Vasudevan. eLab Ventures and Trucks Venture Capital are backing the company.
Recration AI is pitching its REV-1 as a low-cost, lightweight autonomous delivery robot.
“We have created the Goldilocks of autonomous vehicles in terms of size and shape,” said Johnson-Roberson, chief executive of Refraction AI.
“Our platform is lightweight, nimble and fast enough to operate in the bike lane and on the roadway, and we are tackling regional inclement weather patterns that inhibit or slow down other AV solutions,” he said.
But the cycling community is likely to object to autonomous vehicles operating in bicycle lanes.
“It’s a bit presumptuous for Refraction to claim they can operate in bike lanes. They would face a pretty big debate and permit process if they tried to operate in Portland,” said Jonathan Maus, publisher of BikePortland.org.
But Maus doesn’t reject the idea out of hand.
“If this is a more efficient and city-friendly way of doing last-mile delivery, I’m all for figuring out how to make it work,” he said.
The REV-1 is about the size of an electric bicycle. It is a tricycle and stands 5 feet tall, 4.5 feet long and 30 inches wide. It weighs approximately 100 pounds and can reach a speed of up to 15 mph.
The company said that makes it fast enough to make timely deliveries. Yet is still has a stopping distance of just 5 feet, far shorter than a delivery car or truck.
No doubt you've noticed the green paint being used to highlight potential car/bike conflict points in the bike lanes in certain areas of Reno. A nice addition that is a visual reminder to drivers to be looking out for cyclists. Years ago when I sat on the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee for the RTC we knew of a stash of this green paint existing but it never got used. Originally we were talking about using it along California Ave. in the uphill stretch where Keystone Avenue merges into the street as a way of highlighting the pinched and unsafe loss of bike lanes as you approach Newlands.
Not surprisingly a local news story was done by the right wing Fox/NBC KRNV that included a "viewer poll" asking if the green paint would make roads safer. The story itself was innocuous enough but the poll was just click bait for anybody who doesn't like cyclists getting in the way of them driving. But research shows that these kinds of visual cues for road users are more effective safety tools than just another sign on the road that gets lost in a driver's field of vision that warns that there might be actual cyclists using a bike lane. I guess you can't cure stupid.
I don't know how uniquely in a position I am to review the differences in ride quality of Roland Della Santa's bike frames. Truth be told, I know numerous people who own more than one of the master framebuilder's bikes. That says something in and of itself that owners come back wanting more, or something slightly different in the range of the DS frames.
My Della Santas are fairly distinct but only two are strategically so. My first, the Molteniesque orange was purchased in part with some money I received from my inheritance when my Grandma died. The idea of honoring her, and my love of good craftsmanship, seemed like a good idea. Roland built me a classic racing bike that he even claimed was the lightest frame he'd every built. The bike is custom fit and feels perfectly attuned to my body.
The most recent DS I purchased took the same geometry as the above but stretched the tire capability to 35mm (just barely). It has that nimble road race feel with a bit more rubber to feel more secure on a typical day of riding in Reno for me, which tends to include mostly pavement with a few diversions onto dirt roads. It's still underbiking on trails but quite capable for some light dirt/gravel action.
Strangely, the Blue Della Santa, a 1979 frame, spaced to 120mm in the back, bridges the experience of the other two. It takes a wider tire than the Orange one, and has a tight racy compact cockpit. It's also a bike that pushes me towards the big ring more than the others. It's smooth 5 speed friction shifting has a tendency to keep me focused on my spinning, as opposed to constant fine tuning of gear ratios. It also happens to feel fast and incredibly smooth. I picked this up for rather cheap from someone unloading it and eventually it might turn into my L'Eroica ride.
Below is a gallery of pics of then bikes over the last couple of years in action. Throwing a leg over any of them brings me intense joy.
Westfield village is a small neighborhood in Reno, Nevada, where we live and love the benefits of high desert life. Apparently the first "track housing" in Reno, the houses are generally small and there seem to be only a handful of similar model designs. Built in 1946, our house has a spectacular view of the Sierras from the front south facing window. Westfield is considered one of the most soft after neighborhoods in Reno. It isn't as high priced as the "Shire", and not as self-proclaimed trendy as Midtown. The beauty of Westfield Village is that it is designed to not be a thruway to any place other area, reducing traffic, it's an easy shot by foot or bike to the prettiest parts of the downtown river area, walking distance to a couple of great parks, and zoned for some of the best public schools in Reno. It's also close to many shops but lacks the unsavory things that for some reason make Midtown trendy.
I should say, my last Della Santa. This beauty of a frame was on display at NAHBS a few times. Silver metallic, and gorgeous. That Roland guy sure knew how to build a bike. I was lucky enough to pick it up and it marks my 4th DS. All have quite different rides. Two are custom, one is from 1979 and decidedly of that era. This one is modern (built in 2016) but built with L'Eroica in mind with the tire clearances and such.
The parts spec is, shall we say, quirky? It's exactly what I wanted and built around what (mostly) Campagnolo parts I had hanging around.
Veloce 10 speed derailleurs
Campy Chorus Crank/Record BB
Ritchey Carbon seat post
Ene Ciclio Friction Downtube shifters (more on that later)
American Classic 350 wheelset
Cinelli Eubios Handlebar
28mm Conti Gatorskin tires (for now?)
A quick ride review...since I've been putting it through its paces. The first DS I bought was a modern racing geometry custom fit and it still fits like a glove. No doubt about it it is a traditional Roland racing geometry bike, with precise handling. He told me a few years after building it that it was the lightest frame he had ever built.
The next DS was a used 1979 bike that is very quick handling, more criterium feeling, but spritely and fun even if, as a non-custom build, it is not quite as comfortable.
My other custom DS was built shortly thereafter having seen Roland's apprentice, Jake Barrett's, racing DS with a biplane fork and with clearances for 35mm tires. It was a sweet spot I thought I wanted for more road/dirt riding. Slightly longer stays but the bike is built around the custom specs of the first DS.
This last DS is an off the shelf L'Eroica style model and it slots in, in terms of handling, more on the modern side of things with a longer top tube and clearances for maybe a 32mm tire though I haven't tried it yet. It's a comfortable stage race style of racing bike with a bit of room for a wider tire like a road bike should have.
Essentially this has been my experience when I have put the last Della Santa through its paces on several rides. When I started climbing and needed an easier gear, a quick flick and the chain dropped into place. When I needed to crank it up on the flats or downhill...ditto. Yes, there was a bit of trimming from the big ring to the little ring on the crankset, but no more than with my modern click shifting groups.
So in the end, I built up a steel lugged old school L'Eroica style bike frame built by the late grandmaster of frame building, Roland Della Santa, with a modern silver 10 speed Campagnolo group, super light racing American Classic wheelset, downtube friction shifters, Brooks saddle, threaded fork, clipless pedals, and a carbon seatpost. Makes total sense to me.
A gallery of photos:
Click to set custom HTML
Let me first say that the newly reconfigured intersection in the Booth/Keystone/California intersection is a greatly improved design, particularly for pedestrians. The wide sidewalks and "multi-use" path on the south side makes walking along that stretch a less harrowing experience. The fact that the bike lane along California Avenue heading east clearly enters the path with markings and green paint makes it an obvious spot for cyclists to continue up the little hill towards Newlands park and the Old Southwest, or "Shire."
After all, it wasn't that long ago that you would see something like this along this stretch of California Ave. Not exactly safe having a sidewalk that narrow and if you weren't fit enough to make it up the hill the only option was to do something like this.
So now the bike lane enters the widened path for pedestrians and cyclists going east. It's a safer option for cyclists for that stretch but unfortunately we now get to the....
As a cyclist continues up the hill as they reach the top and continue onto California and re-merge into the street and marked bike lane, there are no warnings or indications to drivers to expect to see cyclists exiting the widened sidewalk path. This is especially problematic if the cars are turning right onto Newlands Circle. My expectation is that most well-trained urban designers are going to know that one of the most dangerous conflict points for cyclists and automobiles is when cyclists ride on sidewalks and then enter the traffic lane. Given that this really is a widened and glorified sidewalk that cyclists are now expected to use, I expected that there would be some sort of indicator for drivers to mitigate this unsafe, and potentially deadly, conflict point.
The sequence of photos below illustrates this pretty clearly;
AND THE HEAD SCRATCHING....
As you enter this intersection from the north, along Booth Street and heading south, as a cyclist you have a clearly marked lane on the right. But here is the question...as a cyclist, if you want to head up the hill east on California, as a vehicle you should logically get in the left lane to make the turn onto California Ave. But then you are entering the auto traffic lane (which you are legally allowed to do even with the new multi-use path on the right). The problem is there is no access point as you make that left turn onto California Ave. to pop up onto the path. In order to access it you have to proceed straight across the east west lanes of traffic, backtrack a bit to the west, in order to find the green marked bicycle path entrance. The photos below, I think, highlight the conundrum.
The interesting thing about this is that as you approach the intersection traveling on Booth St., it is clear that the RTC expects cyclists on this stretch of road (hence the green marked bike lane). So why didn't they anticipate this rather odd situation to access the new bike infrastructure heading east. Many cyclists do actually use this intersection for just this purpose, me being one of them.
The above photo shows (if you look closely) the green access point for the path across California, on the south side of the street. But the left turn lane enters California on the far left side of the photo so a cyclist would have to ride diagonally across the intersection to make a pretty hard left turn from that angle, onto the bike path. Surely placing another ramp onto the path even 30 feet further east would make some sense in this situation.
As for now I will likely put in a query through Reno Direct to ask about this. But I believe it further illustrates the ways that the RTC or the City seems a bit impaired when it comes to making these kinds of pedestrian and bicycle improvements. Like the Midtown/Virginia Street redesign that so many pedestrians and cyclists pushed for something truly amazing and great and ended up with something better but rather "meh," this intersection at California is unquestionably better than what was there before. But it is obviously not completely thought out in terms of the way the urban space will likely (and legally) be used by cyclists even if a safer modification seems easily within reach.
Here's the PR blurb from the RTC relating to the intersection:
The California Avenue/Keystone Avenue intersection in Reno will reopen on Friday, August 9, at 7 a.m. with new, major improvements by the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County. The project improves safety and access for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians at this high-traffic intersection near Reno High School.
“These are significant, much-needed improvements the community identified in our Keystone Corridor Plan that will enhance the surrounding neighborhood,” said RTC Executive Director Lee Gibson. “These improvements provide better access, mobility and safety for all users.”
In addition to traffic-safety improvements and a new 10-foot multi-use pathway for bicyclists and pedestrians, the RTC widened sidewalks and added pedestrian ramps at the intersection to improve pedestrian safety and access for everyone in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The stairs connecting California Avenue to Foster Avenue were also reconstructed as part of the project."
I've been to a lot of art galleries over the years in many large and small cities and I've never been more impressed than when I walked into So-Oh Art Gallery in Lincoln, NE. Usually the 95%/5% rule applies especially in art galleries. Do you know this rule? Look at any collection of art, Top 100 Billboard albums this week, the top 100 films released in a given year, etc. 95% will be absolute crap, and 5% will have some merit. If you break that 5% barrier consider it a lucky break (which might be the case last year if you look at films--it's been a pretty good year).
Anyway, So-Oh Gallery breaks that ceiling handily. I'd guess that I'd be happy to have a third of the art hanging in my home. That's why I'm so pleased to have acquired this photo that has haunted me since the first time I saw it several years ago. Perfection by Barbara Abel is extraordinary but I'll leave this article to better describe the interesting history behind this series of mannequins. An excerpt:
You can see a good online gallery of the works at So-Oh here. Check out the Larry Welo and the Deborah Mae Broad.
What do you do when a bike you are going to review arrives and includes an out of favor wheel size, a parts spec from the dark ages, and a frame made of that heavy steel material with tubes joined together with a technology so out of date that no major manufacturers have used it in over a decade? You go into the ride carrying some serious baggage about the review. Everything about this bike seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom.
I opened the box which seemed strangely light and pulled out the frame and rigid(!) fork and noticed how strikingly different the powdercoat paint scheme looked compared to most Agro modern mountain bikes. Subtle even. The clear-coated decals over the âsea foamâ green were striking yet subtle. The only mention of the name of the bike was on the downtube and the gleaming brass headbadge, unlike most modern bikes where any bit of open real estate on the frame is an invitation to place yet another logo in case you might forget what kind of bike youâre riding. I had to begrudgingly admit that the overall aesthetic was tasteful and attractive.
The parts spec is going to be crap, though, I thought. There was an awful lot of silver on the components. Weird. Was that actual metal instead of plastic? The top mounted shifters looked so rudimentary. Push lever to extend cable, flick it back to pull cable. So simple. Looking at the parts specs I noticed that they were lighter than the top of the line shifters currently in favor. With so few moving parts I realized the shifter spec was simple, minimal and likely more reliable. Who was this company, âSuntourâ?
The rest of drive train included XCPro Derailleurs from Suntour as well as brakes from the company. The shiny Microlite Suntour hubs are attached to Ritchey hoops. The Ritchey Crankarms were striking as well. Elegant, Low Q, and a nice polish to them. Clearly the silver was growing on me as I noticed the way the sun popped off of the gleaming finish of the bike.
The bulk of the other parts were also from the Ritchey archive. The seatpost, stem, bar, headset, grips, tires, filled out the rest of the bike. On top of that seatpost sat a stately black Brooks Leather Imperial saddle. It was a nice touch as was the Bridgestone Bicycle bell attached to the bars to signal to other users on the trail.
Now, about those wheelsâ¦26 inch size must be a joke right? Everybody knows going bigger is better. My 29er rolls over things like a steamroller. And who rides a lugged frame anymore in spite of the claim that a âin a traditional lugged joint, the lug serves as external butting increasing the strength of the joint.â Surely the lugs with that Ritchey Logic Super Tubing by Tange, and the bike was going to be an anchor.
Total weight: 23.8 pounds
The Ride Report:
It was with a bit of trepidation that I put my leg over the bike and headed out to the closest trail to my house. The comfortable Brooks saddle flexed under me almost acting like a bit of rear suspension as I hit the first bumps on the trail.
Having that absolutely anorexic looking steel fork in front of me made me a bit worried but as I hit the singletrack I noticed immediately how precise the handling was on the bike. I looked at my best line and front wheel seemed drawn to it. A surprise rock on the trail as I rounded a bend and with a little flick I was around it. None of that steamroller effect from my modern suspension bike.
Soon I found that the bit of flex in the steel frame and the smaller wheels made the bike feel absolutely spritely when getting up to speed. When climbing the bikeâs 23+ pounds felt nimble and light with the smooth, simple shifting allowing me to feel secure in my gearing choices.
When descending, the precise handling helped when choosing a line and I was able to slide my weigh off the back of the saddle and rely on my legs as suspension and the Ritchey Zmax tires to dig in and securely carve turns and pop over any obstacles.
A couple of hours into the ride I stopped by the Truckee River to eat a snack and hydrate. As I sat there I gazed at the Resurrectio and enjoyed the play of light on the water, sparkling off the gleaming silver parts and shiny frame. I realized I had been won over by the beauty and simplicity of this elegant machine. Is it the bike for every trail I ride? Maybe not. But if the design and success of this design is any indication, we are going to see a new wave of big bike companies jumping on the bandwagon touting the smaller wheels and ânimble and simpleâ in the next few years as riders discover the joys of a light and fun riding bike with an elegant aesthetic and a bit of soul.
The bike review above is a bit of a tongue in cheek write up of my newly repainted 1992 Bridgestone MB-1. I borrowed liberally from the original 1992 Bridgestone catalog. The paint was done by GroodyBros out ofKansas City who did a spectacular job with the paint and with applying the decals that are available from Rivendell Bicycle Works. The headbadge was taken from a design from the original Rambler bicycle company that dominated the industry in the early years of the bicycle boom in the U.S. plus the name came from the earliest recorded bicycle club in the Reno area. Insigniaworks created the actual badge.
I listened to the sound of incoming emails from the school nurse...16, 17, 18...so far, students being excluded from my school. More emails from my Administration with more students switching to distance learning instead of the hybrid model we have been limping along with. At the moment I have 4 students in my class watching a movie. This isn't education, it's a debacle.
Don't we try to teach our kids to take responsibility for their actions? It seems no one in the state wants to step up and make the tough decision because they are too afraid of taking responsibility. First and foremost I point the finger at those people in the general population who are refusing to take the necessary precautions, wearing masks, washing hands, limiting contact with people, and socially distancing when that can't be avoided. If everybody did that, we would not be on the brink of having to go into lockdown 2.0, and our school system would be able to remain open for those students who so desperately need, not just academic support, but the social and emotional support of peers and colleagues. Frankly though, I'm most livid with the Washoe County School Board. In spite of all evidence pointing to how dire things are looking, they went ahead and ignored the advice of the Health District and Medical Professionals.
At this point most of my students are distance learners anyway but with a few straggler hybrid students waiting for some adult to take responsibility and do the right thing and shut down the school for all but Distance Learning. My high school is one of only 4 that remains open at this point. The writing is on the wall if you look at the daily numbers being reported in the community.
Somebody has to step up and take responsibility. I'm looking at you School Board. It's past time. Do the right thing and shut it down.
Got a chance to take the refurbished Bridgestone MB-1 up to Lake Tahoe to do a bit of riding around Sugar Pine for the 4th of July. Fun to see how this bike handled the trails (even if I was out of practice) compared to a more modern mountain bike design. The answer: admirably. That old mtb geometry is well suited for these types of trails and made for a fun excursion with the extended family.
Picked up this banner from ebay just because I couldn't resist the Wooster HS student, Greg LeMond, (and only legit American winner of the TdF) as well as the rad Della Santa jersey. Conveniently I was riding my 1979 DS to school they day I hung this. A nice piece of Reno history adorning my classroom wall.
For over 12 Years I wrote the Reno Rambler Blog covering everything from Bicycle Advocacy, Reno Politics, Popular Culture, and my experiences as a long-time cyclist.