Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"...Let Your Light Shine Before Teens, That They Be Not Splattered On Your Bicycle"

 So in followup to my Nov. 6th post, tonight I was riding home from work at a little before six (dark) o'clock on the Salsa La Cruz commuter. Upon cresting Conoco Hill (aka Shell Hill) I flipped my Nightrider Lumina 650 to high beam in anticipation of picking up speed on the downhill, as unlike the Nightrider 1200 on my heavy duty commuter, the 650 is a tad less powerful. The 650 throws a nice beam but stuff can still surprise you and at 30 mph, finding an obstruction in the bike lane the hard way ain't fun. Sure enough, after passing the golf course entrance on Diamond Drive and heading for the roundabout on the downhill right sweeper, I suddenly saw two teens looming out of the dark, walking down the middle of the bike lane towards me as I barreled onward at about 30 mph.

It startled me first and I let out a bit of a shriek as I veered hard to port to avoid splattering all three of us on the road. I think I scared the crap out of them. They did likewise to me.

The bottom line is that lights matter. So does situational awareness. I was thinking deer tonight but teens are just as much of a hazard. Don't leave your lights or awareness at home. I may upgrade the 650, which I previously thought was plenty of light. Tonight it was enough but barely.

Everyone should be thinking safety, but the bottom line is that Looking Out for No. 1 is best done by No. 1. Don't count on others to be thinking about your safety. Or their own. I did stop and call LAPD and told them someone should counsel those teens. I hope someone did so. Next bicyclist might be running a 100 Lumen Saturday Night Special.  That's the problem with bike lights--no standardization. Don't outrun your illumination.

Monday, November 6, 2017

"...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your bicycle..."

With apologies to St. Matthew and the Good Book (for those not familiar, I borrowed that title from Matthew 5:15-16).

Its back to Mountain Standard Time and short days. If you have not put lights on your commuter or evening-ride bike, its getting a little late. Safety is not someone else's problem. Its yours.

Note that active lighting, not just reflectors, is critical for safety. Reflectors only reflect light shined directly on them, so they do not tell a motorist at a cross street that you are approaching at right angles or a motorist making a left turn that you are in the far bike lane (until it is too late). Also, reflectors do not warn YOU of road hazards, unlit pedestrians, nor do they keep you safe in those vexing hours around dawn and dusk.

Here is the Long Haul Trucker in winter dress.

Reflective stuff on sides.
Fenders keep grunge off of rider and as importantly, off of lights and reflectors.

Helmet with front/back lighting which can also be used as strobes

Retroreflective tape and reflector, two rear flashing strobe reflectors in case one fails

Headlamp with 1200 lumen max, retroreflective tape
Oh, and "ding" bell to get attention of pedestrians who are not wearing headsets

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"All of that said, accidents and emergencies are going to happen." To Hell With That.

"...As horrific as the Las Vegas murders were, we need to keep in perspective that motor vehicles kill about twice as many people in one day on average, day in and day out. We've just become so desensitized to it that it's simply business as usual for many people."--Joe R., on Streetsblog

I was amused by the Santa Fe New Mexican editorial about the multihour logjam in traffic that occurred last Friday in Pojoaque after a teen (who has, according to the New Mexican, been cited six times for traffic infractions since 2014) lost control of his Chrysler, careened into oncoming traffic, and caused a multicar fatal wreck which the New Mexican conveniently called an "accident". The New Mexican editorial board apparently was more concerned with driver inconvenience and less concerned with driving habits that kill.

This is  the same newspaper that has recently printed every editorial it could find blasting our lack of ability to prevent gun violence. One can only assume that the editorial board of the New Mexican drives but does not shoot. How else could we explain such a flagrant double standard?

Certainly the recent Las Vegas carnage as well as most other gun violence is deliberate while the teen who tied up Northern NM traffic for hours did not intend to kill anyone. That may be a fine point lost on the dead and their loved ones. Not to mention, all those inconvenienced motorists. Such a hair-splitting rationale for flagrantly bad driving was lost on me when I was hit by a car a week before I was scheduled to defend my Ph.D. proposals. I regained consciousness, covered in my own blood, in time for the ambulance to arrive. That incident eventually took about a year out of my grad school progress. We make a lot of excuses, most revolving around convenience, for bad driving. I was one of the lucky ones and can push back against those excuses. The motorist killed last Friday is mute.

Fig. 1. Traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents. Image: International Transport Forum
Source, Streetsblog, Angie Schmitt
Fig 2. Traffic deaths and gun (including suicide) deaths in the U.S.
Graph: Violence Policy Center via Transport Providence
Source: Streetsblog, Angie Schmitt
The New Mexican would have us put up median barriers on US 84/285 to catch bad drivers careening out of control and thereby reduce the tedious delays when our fellow citizens flagrantly put others at risk. That might be an acceptable but expensive solution to prevent some high speed crashes on highways, but does nothing to keep New Mexico from jockeying for the national lead in killing pedestrians and bicyclists on our urban and suburban roads. To reduce that carnage means we must address bad driving habits as well as use Vision Zero concepts to reduce the lethality of those inevitable mistakes human nature ensures we make. Instead, we are asked to implement half measures to deal with what seems like an endless litany of inevitable and socially-tolerated misdeeds. After all, for a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist, wide urban arterials and high urban speeds coupled with sloppy, careless, or reckless driving results in catastrophic injury or death.

If the New Mexican editorial board treated gun violence like it does car violence, our solutions to shootings would be to all wear bulletproof vests rather than to reduce the number of shootings. So I don't have very high expectations for the media or my fellow citizens as there still seems to be little emphasis on serious efforts towards crash prevention (enforcement, education, and engineering) rather than more and more crash mitigation. I wish we would hold ourselves and each other accountable to higher standards regardless of what dangerous devices we wield in close proximity to our fellow citizens. Compared to similar high economic status nations, we have high gun as well as high traffic violence rates in the U.S. These problems don't have one size fits all solutions, but as long as we avoid meaningful solutions and pretend that all is acceptable as it is, the carnage will continue, whether at the business end of a firearm or a motor vehicle.

On a related topic, I have called SUVs "urban assault vehicles" in the past. Angie Schmitt made it official.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bike Review: 2003 Cannondale CAAD5 "Nashbar Special" After 14 Years

CAAD5 in 2017, on Tano del Norte Road, with Sangre de Cristos in the background

 Out of a bit of a miff that Patrick O'Grady is always reviewing new bikes, I decided that it was time to review the oldest bike in my fleet: the 2003 Cannondale CAAD5.

I bought the CAAD5 as a frameset in 2003 from New Mexico Bike N Sport (callout to Tony and the gang!) and transferred a Campy Chorus 8 speed setup to that bike from a previous Cannondale that I brought from Hawai'i. That Hawai'i bike, I think a Cannonball 2.8, did a lot of miles including my first Red River Century ride in the fall of 2002 shortly after we moved here from Paradise and I got over the shock of going from sea level to living at seven thousand feet. But I chafed for a new ride, especially after wrecking the beautiful eggplant color in a spaz attack with a rock wall in Hawai'i, and sprung for the CAAD5. Soon the CAAD5 was upgraded to a Chorus 10 speed setup in honor of the climbing here and having worn out the shifters. With a better CAAD tubeset and carbon fork (and Campy headset) the ride was greatly improved.

In 2005 I upgraded to a Six Thirteen, in part due to a lower back injury that resulted in me wanting a more compliant frame with a slightly bigger frameset; the Six-Thirteen is 52 cm instead of the CAAD5's 50.  The carbon tubes did the trick as well in their ability to damp down vibration. I swapped most of the Campy parts over from the CAAD5 to the carbon bike, leaving the CAAD5 temporarily sitting as a frameset. That did not last long.

Current drivetrain

The aluminum bike was soon rebuilt with the benefit of frequent visits to the clearance pages on the Bike Nashbar web site and after an email session with Lennard Zinn, who talked me into the virtue of compact cranksets. The FSA Energy 50-34 crank was purchased from Lennard, who, by the way, grew up in BombTown. The rest of the drivetrain is a mismash of Ultegra 9 Speed, the FSA crank, and a compact front derailleur from the Excel catalog. Wheelset shown above is Mavic Open Pro hoops laced 3x, 32 double butted DT spokes, to an Ultegra rear hub and believe it or not, a Shimano 600 front hub that I bought as part of a wheelset from a racing teammate in Hawaii back in the earely 1990's. I retired the sewups on the old wheels and kept that 600 front hub, lacing it to this wheelset. The rear cassette seen here is a 13-30 9 speed Sheldon Brown Century Special (holy shit, the price has sure gone up). A recent photo (below) shows the bike shod with a set of Shimano paired spoke wheels. Brakes are circa dozen year old 105's that stop the bike just fine. Brifting is courtesy of Dura Ace 9 speed brifters that were a Nashbar closeout. Tires on these hoops are 700-25 Vittoria Open Corsa CX while on the Shimano paired spoke examples are 700-23 Michelin Pro Service Corsa tires, servicable although ancient. Handlebars are Nashbar 44cm examples locked down with a Richey WCS stem. The bars look a little wide on such a squat bike but I have a wide set of shoulders in spite of being a runt. Blame my Sicilian ancestors.

CAAD5 with paired spoke wheels

Each generation of Cannondales rode better than the last and I have been riding them since the original Black Boneshaker of 1985. The CAAD5 suits me just fine, as does the Six Thirteen. The aluminum bike is what they call stiff yet compliant, largely defined in terms of wheel compliance. The Shimano paired spoke wheels give it a stiff and almost scary-nervous ride on twisty, chipseal descents while the traditional three cross Mavic wheels shown in the first photo give it a very compliant but efficient ride. With traditional rims the bike tracks excellently. I was distracted yesterday looking for where to take those pictures and suddenly noted I was about to ride into a sharp, steep downhill right turning curve. A quick shift of weight and flick on the bars and I recovered my line, avoiding the dreaded oncoming lane. My main problem with the deep profile Shimano rims is they tend to "rudder" the bike a bit and that can be annoying in crosswinds or high speed, sinuous descents.

I really like this bike and rode it a lot this year with the stem riser that I added back in 2005 after suffering a disk herniation. The added height on the handlebars came in handy this year after major shoulder surgery that left me uncomfortable on the deeper drop of the Six-Thirteen. The ride has not deteriorated over time. Maybe I just don't know what I am missing with the new stuff.

The bottom line is that bikes are not disposable or for that matter, easily made  obsolescent except for crappy companies that don't support their past parts lines. This bike is a dear friend and will likely last me a long time. It flies up and over the hills and mountains of Santa Fe and Los Alamos as well as I can manage given this old set of bones and descends like a rocket if I want to do that too. These old Cannonballs can still carry me as far as I want in a day. I know the bike companies want to sell me more stuff, but they had better come up with a better reason to get me to part with dead presidents or I will keep riding this old stuff. After all, I am old stuff too.

105 brakeset

Back when Cannondales were made in USA
No, you don't have to stand, damn it.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Comments Set to Moderation

An asshole (or asshole-bot) has been bombing this blog with spam. I have set comments to moderation and am trying to report the URL to Blogger. Until then, comments are on moderation so readers are not subjected to a steady stream of links to porn sites, fly by night huckster stuff, etc. Sorry.

Monday, September 25, 2017

First Fall Weekend

Continuing on the last post's topic, I almost got nailed twice by lousy drivers. In the morning, a young woman came careening down the street and didn't slow down as we crossed in a crosswalk with the dog, but instead sped around us missing by a few feet. For the lack of a baggie of dogshit...

Then a hiker almost turned left in front of me as I descended Camp May Road, stopping halfway as I maneuvered around his large car. People need to take safety seriously.

Otherwise, aside from a bit of wind on the first Sunday of fall, all was lovely.

Aspen starting to turn

To the top, with the "new" wheelset and a 12-28 cassette/compact crank