Saturday, January 30, 2010

If bikes are just toys....

My Salsa LaCruz (click on photo for larger image), festooned with fenders, rack, reflector, lights, disk brakes, and bombproof Delgado Cross based wheelset won't make it up the mountain as fast as the gossamer carbon fibre racing stuff. Nor is it as utilitarian as Geology Professor Gil Hanson's fully weatherized Gazelle, which Gil used as basic transportation in Muenster, Germany during a sabbatical. However, neither of these steeds are "toys" but rather are the basis for functional human powered transportation. Which led to this letter to Bicycling Magazine.

Loren Mooney, Editor, Bicycling Magazine

Dear Ms. Mooney.
Regarding your statement: "We adults have schedules that make it harder to find ride time, but in the end bikes are still toys, in a way."

I winced when I read that sentence in your editorial in the latest Bicycling. In the context of your editor's column, perhaps bicycles are ", in a way.." as the article is narrowly focused on play. My concern is that this is one particular sound byte that I do not wish to hear taken out of context by a critical politician or other critic of bicycling.

A quick perusal of the League of American Bicyclists "Trash Talk" page ( shows that there are more than enough people out there, some in influential places, who would be willing to agree: bicycles are toys ridden by adults we can't take seriously. The corollary is that they think bicyclists are not worthy of equal roadway rights or of bicycling-specific infrastructure support where needed. But we in the bicycling community also know our machines are compact, highly energy efficient, carbon and pollution-free, public health-building forms of transportation. Bicycles are ideal tools in our efforts to build a healthier, greener nation.

Of course a bicycle can be both a toy and serious transportation. Mine certainly are because my ride to and from work is more than a drudge commute. But lets not encourage anyone to quote one of our own out of context, dismissing bicycling as a legitimate part of our transportation mix.

Thanks for reading,

Khal Spencer

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Support your local ski club.

With three storms in a week, its tough to get a lot of riding in. But not too far away is some fabulous alpine cross-country skiing. But trails don't groom themselves, so if you are fond of using the groomed X-C trails up by Pajarito Mountain, or using them as a jumpoff point for skiing deeper into the woods as I did today while skiiing along the rim of the caldera on Guaje Canyon Trail, you might consider joining the Southwest Nordic Ski Club, as I did a few years ago.

From the sounds of their blog, times have been a little tough lately for the ski club, but with the help of a bank loan, an energetic Board, and pending establishment of the club as a 501c3, a new snowmobile/grooming mule has been purchased to replace the one that has been dying a slow death.

If you like to cross country ski, please chip in and help keep the club viable. As you can see from the pictures, its not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Check out the main SWNSC link for more info.