Sunday, August 10, 2008

First Post for August

Hello, Ann, Klaus, Isabelle and all my two-wheel, three-wheel and other bike-riding friends around the planet! Here is my first attempt at a blogging, which isn't my style at all. But I thought I should give it a try. So here, and an update for May through July, and a third of August. You’ll have to wait until September for the next episode, but it will be better then. Nah, that's not likely, I am bloggeriffically challenged.


First off : We were in France for a while the latter part of May nad early June. We saw the French open at Roland Garros in the Bois du Bulogne Velo week in Paris was just such a great time, particularly because of the wonderful French (and Armenian) people. Isabelle got us all set up, and we rented bikes from Gepetto & Velos:

in the St. Michel district. Very helpful and knowledgeable. They were the ones to turn us on to Velo week, along with “Paris Rando Velo”

The “Rando Velo” is like a cross between the SF Bike Coalition and Critical Mass. They have a night ride every Friday that meets at 2130 at the Hotel de Ville and goes until about 2 in the morning. We tried it. Very well organized and no incidents, but the French motorists are polite and nowhere near as rude as American drivers. There are outsiders that help keep the group bunched and moving, but you do cover some ground. You can find their site at: there may be some way to view it in English. I don’t speak any French, but I read the language just enough to get almost lost. I mean, I wasn't really lost, just confused for about 5 hours.

Velo week had a great exhibition with a lot of cool bikes and self-wheeled transport. Those Chistiania Bikes (DK) were the best. Hooray for Danmark -- best designs, best Vikings! Best
ǾL and PǾlser as well!

And then Isabelle came with us for the Velo Week ride (3 cheers for Isabelle!). Wow. Police escorts and a motorcade. Free phlorescent riding vests. They stopped side street traffic and had a rear guard to keep away the autos. We rode at sunset through the Eiffel Tower, Champ du Mars, Invalides, across all the bridges (but not Lloyd Bridges; he picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue). And even that tour didn’t start until 8 pm and it was still going strong when we stopped for beers at 2230.

Paris has great bike lanes and are adding a lot more. Some are really wicked. Bikes and busses get to go the wrong way down one-way streets. That’s a pisser! And the roundabouts are a challenge but once you get the hang of it you can get pretty aggressive (Look kids, Big Ben! Parlament! Oh, wrong city, right movie)

We stayed in friends’ apartment in the 20th Arrondissment, between Belville (les triplettes?) and Cimetière du Père Lachaise, where Chopin is buried. We have to put in a plug for our favorite Polish guy.

A very cool neighborhood, and very bike friendly. All over Paris there are “Velib” stands.

You pay by the minute via your credit card for the bike, then return it to any one of at least a thousand stands. Or you can use your ‘Navig” metro pass. Here’s a photo of the bikes and the check out stations for Velib: But Gepetto had better bikes and rates, if you want the convenience of your own wheels.

Numero Dos: Bike to work day in May has become for me “Bike to Work EVERY DAY”. And I am really trying. If I don’t feel like riding my bike to work, then I just don’t go to work at all. Actually, it’s really easy to ride to work. It’s coming back home that gets sweaty. It’s 10 minutes downhill to the Courthouse, 20 minutes home. I have tried it on the road and through the trees. It’s longer, but faster both ways on the road. But if Champ

wants to come with me, then it’s through the forest. He’s a good dog, and we don’t want to lose him to an errant motorist, or to a country music idiot like Toby Keith, who killed our last dog. Bastard. But I never bought his CD’s anyway.

Riding to work has a few drawbacks such as having to wear shorts, but I’m getting a front fender for the mountain bike. And I have fenders on my commuter/road bike (see below!) It’s good for health and wallet and better for the planet. And there is always something to see. Last week Champ jumped a couple of mulie bucks in the lower meadow, one of them was a good, 4 points a side.

Batting Third it was time to say “Adios, amoeba” to our tall bike. I think it has a good home. We rode it to GG Park in San Francisco for the Tour-de-Fat.

A fellow fell in love with it. I let him take her for a ride, and after a few mishaps (nothing too bloody) he handled her well. He promised to give her a good home and he’s taking her to Burning Man, so Shawn will have to keep his weather eye skinned. IF you have never seen the tall bike, there is still a video of it on the web:

Batting Third: Thanks to the excellent folks at New Belgium Brewing Company of Ft. Collins, Colorado, USA,

we have one less car.

That's right, I traded the old AMC Jeep Cherokee for a new bike. The New Belgium people are really copacetic and they get it. Besides making some awfully good beers (or ǾL, for you Viking-Gypsies) like Fat Tire Ale, Skinny Dip, etc, they understand all things bicycle. It was at the Tour de Fat several years ago that we decided to join the SFBike Coalition. And as a result of a 3 way trade, I got a new bike (Itraded the Ranger to Meg, she traded the Taurus to Max, Max gave me back the Jeep and I swapped that for the coolest commuter bike ever. But I'm no journalist, here's what the Tahoe Newspaper said:

Sierra Sun Newspaper

Trading in fossil fuel for pedal power

Man trades car for bike at Truckee Tour de Fat event

By Karen McIntyre
July 30, 2008

On Saturday, 55-year-old R G drove his 1988 Jeep Cherokee from his home in Stateline, Nev., to the New Belgium Brewing Company’s Tour de Fat festival in Truckee. There, he handed over his car keys in exchange for a bike and pedaled it home — the first of many future rides on his new bike.

“It’s about rediscovering the cultural thrill of public transportation,” the Tour de Fat Web site said. “It’s about weaning yourself off the petroleum teat.”

RG, the third of this year’s 11 Tour de Fat car/bike swap winners, said he is glad he finally met some people who are as passionate about bike riding as he and his wife are.“We just love bicycles,” he said as he finished his peanut butter, banana and raisin sandwich on rye bread during lunch Tuesday.The South Tahoe judge said he sent New Belgium a YouTube video and essay once he heard about the car/bike trade, which challenges people to ditch their cars for bikes and supports bicycle and environmental charities.

“It’s good, certainly for the planet,” he said. “And it’s good for the people now riding a bike.” The brewery later notified RG to tell him he was chosen to receive the new bike in an excessive ceremony at the Tour de Fat.

“They embarrassed the heck out of me,” he said.

RG said it was easy to get rid of his car. The once-grey Jeep was mostly chipped of its paint and had driven a quarter million miles. It belonged to his son's grandfather, and had been well used for his son's high-school and college commuting at the University of Washington in Seattle. But it had fallen on hard times: the driver’s door didn’t open, and RG said he had to crawl through the window or enter from the passenger side.

“It was cancerous, that car,” he said.

His family was ready to donate the Jeep to charity and had given some parts away on Craigslist, so RG was happy to trade what was left of it for a New Belgium, fully-loaded, hand-crafted, Fort Collins-built commuter bike from Black Sheep Bikes.

“It’s a tremendous bike. It has 27 gears. This thing is a work of art,” he said. “That bicycle is worth 10 times what that car was worth. I can't wait to take it off some sweet jumps.”

RG said he is definitely going to buy a heavy-duty bike lock. In the 50-plus years he has been an avid bike rider, five of his bikes have been stolen.

“Bicycles are the most efficient method of moving humans,” he said. Bikes are faster than walking and sometimes driving, he said. They’re fun, healthy, don’t require insurance and can be fixed by the rider.

RG and his wife have ridden bikes around in Southeast Asia and parts of Europe, and he has been bicycle communting 2.5 miles to work since May.

New Belgium challenges the car/bike trade winners to ride their new bikes twice a week. RG said he is going to exceed the brewery’s expectations.

“My goal is to bicycle every day for 365 days — someway, somehow,” he said. When the snow gets too deep to bike, RG said he will snowshoe or cross-country ski to work and ride a stationary bike at home.

“It’s gonna be a pleasure. It’s not gonna be a challenge,” he said. “It’s a blessing to me, and it’s a blessing to our planet.”

Ok, now Max and I are off to Seattle to go catch a mess of Salmon (Chinook and Coho) and some tasty Halibut with Tyler and Alan Yee. Alanido Yee is a great guy and an excellent fishermanist.

OK, now check back later to see what I do with the new Bike:



  1. Got to think of a way to re-mount the saddle bags so that my Side-Show Bob sized feet don’t keep slapping them on the uptake. Maybe a longer rack to move the bags back?
  2. Maybe change out the handle bars to something straighter, then add climbing sticks? It's a little hilly here

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