Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review of the Ultra Motor A2B Metro

The good folks at Commute by Bike sent an Ultra Motor A2B Metro e-bike down the hill from Flagstaff so I could ride it and review how it works for winter commuting in Phoenix.

You can check out my initial impression of the A2B here: A2B Metro Goes South for the Winter

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sleeping Beauty Redux

Okay, so I'm asking ya, clearly I do NOT know how to get my grandkids as excited about bicycling as I am:

Anybody got some tips for me?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Grandpa's Sweetheart Passengers

Took my two granddaughters for their first ride together in the Schwinn bike trailer. Keira is 2-years-old, Isabelle is 1-year-old.

They could hardly stand the excitement:

Maybe I should go faster than 8 miles per hour, eh?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pedaling Fast & Furious

Over on Commute by Bike, an online buddy of mine who runs the site, Ted Johnson, wrote a piece about a soon-to-be-released movie: Action Heroes on Bikes.

Now, Ted isn't sure he likes the premise of the movie; where the "hero" is one of those infuriating, scofflaw NY bike messengers who give urban bicyclists a bad name.

But I'm thinking this may be just what us avid bike commuters need: an ANTIHERO! Think of the Fast and Furious movie franchise. The "heroes" of those movies destroy hundreds of thousands of dollars in automobiles and transportation infrastructure, not to mention probably injuring or killing many innocent bystanders (although they don't show THAT in the flicks).

But every release of a new Fast and Furious movie results in a significant uptick in street racing, accidents and sales of high performance auto parts: Increased accident rates: Fast and Furious.

And people, especially young males, LIKE that!

So maybe we NEED a lawless bike hero for the movies! It'll make bicycles COOL. It may increase the urge to "live on the edge" for some folks. It'll increase the sales of bikes and accessories!

But we need a "better antihero" than a universally hated bike messenger, so here's MY idea.


It's a quiet, weekday morning in a middle-sized town in America. Say some place like Flagstaff, Arizona (where Ted is based). With the sun just peaking up behind the mountains to the east, two pretty gals meet up to bike commute to work. It's summer, so they're wearing light, translucent, strapless summer dresses and heels, sorta like this:

As they ride, the fitful winds around their bicycles cause their dresses to float up, revealing their shapely, toned legs. All smiles and light conversation, they do not notice the black SUV parked in the dark alleyway they pass.

The two girls are just a block away when the driver of the SUV starts the engine, switches on the headlights and pulls onto the road behind them. The truck catches up to the bikes, but instead of passing them it slows and follows. Every few seconds, the driver of the sinister truck stomps the accelerator, spinning the rear tires and lurching up to within inches of the rear wheels of the bikes. Each time the truck surges forward, it gets closer and closer to the now frightened women.

The SUV backs off for a final time, the two gals are sure it will run them down with the very next lunge, and out of nowhere a blue blur appears from a cross street on the left. As it passes between the truck and the bikes, the villains can see that the blue object is a sleek, recumbent bicycle ridden by a fellow of retirement age. With a primal cry, the impudent old geezer heaves a baseball sized rock into the truck's windshield, creating a star burst crack almost a foot in diameter.

The truck driver loses all interest in the women, squealing around to the right to pursue the blue 'bent as it rolls away. Even though it is a steep downhill road, and the low slung bicycle is speeding along at almost forty miles per hour, the powerful V8 of the SUV is allowing it to gain on the bike.

But the road curves quickly to left, and to the dismay of the villains they see that even though they will make the turn there is no way they can stop before they reach the end of the curve: the clever bicyclist has led them down a street which becomes a multi-use path. With the sharp, sickening sound of two metal garbage cans banging together, the SUV strikes the sturdy concrete posts which block motor vehicles from continuing; concrete posts which the recumbent bike has easily zoomed between just seconds before the truck.

Moments later, all three bicyclists rush up to the now quiet, smoking vehicle. Our mature hero wrenches open the driver's side door and the identities of the baddies are revealed:

Why, it's that dastardly pair --- the authors of that anti-bike, anti-pedestrian manifesto Out of Gas --- Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn!

The pretty female bicyclists fall upon our grizzled hero, knocking him down and raining kisses all over his prostrate form in appreciation of his brave deeds.

--- THE END ---

Okay, so Cote de Pablo --- one of the stars of television's NCIS and the gal in the picture above --- is perfect for one of our damsels in distress. Who should play the other girl?

Oh yeah, and who should play Our Hero? Hmmm. Gotta ride a blue 'bent, and be in his sixties, and be dashingly handsome. Dang. That's tough.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sky Harbor Police Cruisers

My wife and I took our oldest granddaughter to Sky Harbor, the airport in Phoenix. It's a fun, unique outing we enjoy every once in a while.

As many times as we've been there, this was the first time I've seen the unusual Police Cruisers they have:

Pretty neat.

I am so tempted to ride Bluetiful over there one day and and boom down the walkway on the passenger level. Do you think they have sirens on those machines, and will pursue me?

"You there! On the blue recumbent! PULL OVER!"

Saturday, May 28, 2011

In a Park Today

Took a break today, in a park we sometimes take the granddaughters to play. They have truly deluxe playground equipment. A feature on one of the sets of monkey bars consists of large plastic cylinders stacked on top of one another, with a pole running through a hole the middle of each of them. The cylinders spin very easily; on one side is a picture of a dinosaur, on the other side is the scientific name of the beast and the English name.

This one caught my eye:

And on the other side:


Ankylosaurus - The Bent Lizard.

Isn't that a great name for a recumbent? 'Course, I could never name one of my bikes that, I can hardly say it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Journalistic Ineptitude

My gosh, we had another bicyclist killed yesterday afternoon:

Hit-and-run kills bicyclist in Avondale

Avondale is a town of about 85,000 just west of Phoenix. Quote from this news item:

"Avondale police received calls at about 1 p.m. after a man driving a green Ford Taurus on Van Buren Street near 107th Avenue struck a man on a bike and continued driving..."

Yeah, it figures, after all, it was only a bicyclist.

"The bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene ... A witness followed the Taurus as it continued driving westbound on 107th Avenue ... Officers attempted to stop the auto near Van Buren and 123rd Avenue, but the man refused to yield, driving westbound into eastbound traffic on Van Buren and driving up onto curbs and sidewalks ... The car, apparently significantly damaged, began slowing, and two officers stopped the man by blocking his path with their patrol cars."

Uh oh, I bet I know WHY this guy tried to rabbit. Wait a minute, "Westbound on 107th Avenue"?? 107th Avenue goes north and south!

"The driver was taken to a hospital for injuries sustained during the incident and will be taken into custody upon his release ..."

So, anything else besides resisting arrest? Like maybe "defying the laws of physics by driving westbound on a road that goes north and south"?

"Police believe the man may have been impaired ..."

YEAH!? REALLY?!? "may have been impaired"? YA THINK???

Well, at least they didn't make me snort in anger by mentioning whether the bicyclist was wearing a helmet or not. Maybe that was because I think it's pretty obvious who's at fault here.

I'm wondering at the lack of interest of the writer of this article. Or maybe it is plain incompetence (sorta like not knowing which direction avenues go in the Phoenix metro area). I immediately thought of a few additional questions which could have been asked:

"When this driver is taken into custody, besides 'leaving the scene of a fatal accident,' are there any other charges which will be considered?"

"Did the driver say anything? Or offer any explanation?"

"Have there been any other bicycling fatalities in the area where this one occurred?"

I guess there are so many hot news items in Avondale that the death of a bicyclist just doesn't rate more than a few paragraphs.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

People for Bikes Video

My first post today was pretty much a downer; talking about the latest bicycle fatality in Phoenix.

How about something more uplifting and positive about bicycling?

Here's the latest video from People for Bikes:

Better, eh?

Bicyclist Causes Own Death

Saw a news article on AZ Central about a bicyclist who was killed last night:

Phoenix bicyclist struck by cars, dies

It has been a while since I've seen a news report on a bicyclist killed in an accident.

"The bicyclist, 58, whose name was not released, was riding his mountain bike about 7:15 p.m. in a northeast direction across 7th Street from Purdue when he was struck by a 1991 Nissan Pathfinder driven by a 46-year-old woman, whose name was not released. The Nissan was headed north."

For those unfamiliar with Phoenix, 7th Street runs north and south, and Purdue Avenue comes from the west and T's into 7th Street. The bike rider was riding at an angle, in a northeast direction, crossing 7th Street and was hit from behind by the Nissan headed north in one of the three northbound lanes; or maybe the driver was coming up in the center, left-turn only lane.

"The victim landed in front of a 2005 Ford Escape, also traveling north, driven by a 33-year-old man, whose name was not released.

The bicyclist was dragged under the Ford until the driver stopped. The victim received fatal injuries."

Yeow, so I envision the bicyclist struck from behind, and because his wheels are headed northeast he is boosted, rolling, into the next lane over where he is run over and dragged.

"Police said neither driver was impaired and no citations were issued."

Huh. So neither driver was impaired, and they weren't doing anything wrong because neither of them were cited. And the cops didn't cite the dead bicyclist, either!

I wonder what caused this accident? (Scratching my head)

AHA! There it is! In the last sentence of the article! The REASON this bicyclist was killed:

"The bicycle rider was not wearing a helmet."

There you have it, Kids! Wear your helmet and YOU may be able to survive a pair of SUV's tag-teaming you on a busy street!

( Author's disclaimer: BluesCat is a BIG fan of bicycle helmets, for practical reasons --- he has rearview mirrors on all of his --- as well as safety reasons. He is NOT a big fan of "journalists" who include such information in their articles because he feels it redirects attention from the REAL issues of bicycle safety. )

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Commute Route: Through Hong Kong

Okay, okay, so it isn't through Hong Kong, but by Hong Kong ... the New Hong Kong restaurant, that is:

(giggle) I crack myself up ... Actually, I'm easily amused by myself. (That sounds somehow just wrong, don't it?)

No, all seriousness aside, I like this new route because it combines the crossing of two major arterial streets into one intersection.

Although I have nothing to back it up except for anecdotal incidents, it seems to me that the vast majority of my hair-raising exchanges with motor vehicles have taken place when we are meeting at the confluence of a major arterial and a collector street or a local road.

If I am the one on the arterial, and the motorist is the one turning right in front of me from a local road, more often than not I am the victim of the Invisible Two-Wheeled Vehicle Syndrome. They will pull out as if I'm not even there.

If I am the one making a right onto an arterial from a local road, the second he sees my blinking taillight, the motorist coming up behind me takes it as a signal to floor his gas pedal.

And motorists seem to have fewer qualms about blowing through a yellow light (or even a RED light) if the traffic signal is on a mere collector street crossing their MUCH more important path on a major road.

At the meeting of two major streets, even motorists seem to be paying more attention, and actually driving more cautiously, than anywhere else. Maybe it is the presence of all of the other big vehicles which can ruin their day if they collide with them. Or maybe it is all the pedestrians and city buses which are causing them to be more attentive.

Anybody else think that these intersections are safer for cyclists? Or am I all wet?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fashion Square Bicycles

Last Saturday, I went over to Scottsdale Fashion Square to look for a Mother's Day present for Mrs. Cat. For those unfamiliar with Fashion Square, it is a very tony shopping mall near downtown Scottsdale, Arizona.

I don't remember ever seeing anything which has to do with bicycles in Fashion Square. Maybe, because of the price of oil or because of Bike to Work Month, we've finally hit some kind of tipping point for the well-heeled. I saw two bicycles on display there. One was probably the most exotic commuter-type bike I have ever seen:

The other was part of the display for a tourism company:

Granted, they were displays, but at least there were BICYCLES in the Land of Mercedes and BMW, and you could actually BUY that green bike!

It was a woman's shop, and it was filled with women, and I was in a hurry to get Momma Cat's present, so I didn't stop in to get any details.

Anybody know what kind of bike that is?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The New Speedzone

Some of you will remember that after my old wireless Specialized Speedzone computer fell off Bluetiful --- and got run over by her rear wheel --- that I "upgraded" to a Trek Incite 9i.

You will also recall, from that blog post, that I really wasn't all that impressed with the Trek, for a lot of reasons. Well, I am now even less impressed with the Trek, because less than a year from when I purchased it, it has given up the ghost.

I visited my favorite LBS, and saw that Specialized has redesigned the Speedzone:

The nifty stem mount is no longer available, but the computer slides sideways into mount:

Some of you may remember that the old Speedzone slid into the handlebar clip from the bottom, and that was why it was knocked out of its mount and was destroyed: RIP, Speedzone.

The new Speedzone mounted quickly. The only issue is that the ape-hanger handlebars on Bluetiful provide a very narrow mounting space next to the stem, so in order to slide the computer out of the clip I need to rotate the mount slightly towards the rear of the bike in order for it to clear the pinch bolt on the stem as it slides to the right.

Setup was a breeze, thanks to the excellent manual provided by Specialized. (The Trek manual was absolutely horrible, in addition to being incorrect!)

In addition to having a new design, and a new type of mount, the new wireless Speedzone also has an autoactivation feature when the wheel starts turning, which means no more getting halfway through a ride and discovering the computer hasn't turned on!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm Baaaack!

I know, I've been AWOL since the middle of December.

The reasons are many; from illness, to injury, to a spike in work duties...

But most of it is behind me now and I will soon be back at full throttle and posting again very regularly!

Stand by!