I’m Not Near Portland Anymore…

which is sort of lame for a number of reasons, but the biggest of all is that I won’t be able to easily get to Filmed by Bike. I won’t be able to go at all.

This will be the first year in three that I’ll be missing it. Last year was totally kick ass. Same with the year before that. And honestly, the ’06 show was pretty eff’ing rock ‘n’ roll too. Filmed by Bike has a good formula.

From what the dispatches have been saying, the ’09 show (taking place this weekend coming up) isn’t going to disappoint. In fact, it sounds like it’s going to be fantastically awesome—maybe more so than any year previous.

Wish I could be there. Maybe I’ll just have to settle for a t-shirt this year…. Get yours too!

Rock on Ayleen et al, good luck this weekend!

Thunder & Bikes

So far as I can tell, this weekend should be crazy busy here in Louisville. This event called Thunder is supposedly taking over the town. I’m relatively new here, so it’s all Greek to me, but from what I understand the only way to get around town easily will be by bicycle. That’s something I can support—it’s the only way I know how to get around. But, from what I also know, in order to witness the cacophony and celebration that is Thunder (the kick-off to Derby) it’s best to ride your bike down to the river, where to your benefit is a valet bicycle parking service put on by Bicycling for Louisville. These folks rock, and they need more volunteers at the valet station. Read more about it, in this message from Barry at Bicycling for Louisville:

Fellow Louisville-area Cyclists:

Thunder Over Louisville will take place this Saturday! Once again, Bicycling for Louisville will provide free valet bicycle parking with support from Louisville Metro government’s Bike Louisville program. With much better weather predicted this Saturday than last year for Thunder, we hope that several hundred people will take advantage of the valet bicycle parking service, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution while adding a bicycle ride to their enjoyment of the day.

If you would like to volunteer to help with valet bicycle parking, please contact our volunteer coordinator Jennifer Clark off-list at activelouisville@gmail.com or 819-7881. Volunteers should be at least 18 years old. Volunteers working at least 2 hours will receive:

  •  a $10 gift card from Scheller’s Fitness and Cycling
  • a shady place to sit and cold water or soft drinks
  • an uncrowded place to watch the air show & fireworks
  • the company of fellow bicyclists
  • a warm feeling from helping to make bicycling more convenient and popular in Louisville
  • the undying gratitude of Bicycling for Louisville (your charitable community service organization working to make bicycling in our community safer, more enjoyable, and more popular)

We need volunteers in 2-hour shifts from 9 AM (set-up) to 11 PM. We need LOTS of volunteers from 10-11 PM when everybody comes to retrieve their bicycles. If you can work more than one 2-hour shift, we will be all the more grateful.

To volunteer or to get more information, contact volunteer coordinator Jennifer Clark off-list at activelouisville@gmail.com or 819-7881.

Thanks in advance,

Barry Zalph
Executive Director
Bicycling for Louisville
425 S. 2nd St., LL-102
Louisville, KY 40202-1430
(502) 582-1814

Radishes in Louisville

The flowers are sprouting here in Louisville, and at the bike shop I’m at we’ve got radishes:

Spring daffodils & Radishes!








The Radish, as seen above, is the S.U.B. put out by the folks from XtracycleS.U.B. is of course Sport Utility Bike. Read more about these bikes and their associated health providing Free Radicals at xtracycle.com, or come on up to Bike Couriers Bike Shop on Frankfort Ave and take a ride yourself on our Radish and find out what these long-tail bikes are all about. 

They’re not only fun to ride, but exciting to look at and think about—the concept that is, primarily having the ability to be wholly self-sufficient and easily car-free; the Radish (or the conversion of an existing bike to a long-tail) enables you to haul hundreds of pounds of cargo or simply a week’s worth of groceries without having to fight traffic gridlock, fill up a gas tank, or search for parking. These are all benefits that really equate to having a good time!

Radish—image courtesy of Xtracycle.com

Indianapolis’ Handbuilt Bicycles

Well, actually we all know the bikes weren’t specifically from Indianapolis, but rather all across the continent… no, wait. De Rosa was there, I know because I got a hat from their booth. That’s an Italian company, right? Beautiful bikes no doubt, but last I checked Italy was a part of the European Union, across the Atlantic, i.e. not a part of North America. No matter, I’m just a wrench in Louisville, Kentucky. Who, if for lack of any other reason to be glad of where I now live, am very happy to have been geographically close enough to visit NAHBS again. Last year in Portland was rad, this year in Indy was even more so!

I’m posting this nearly a full twenty-four hours since I was in Indiana, but I’ve been celebrating my birthday all day, so I’ve been “preoccupied”. The show was really a good time. I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to, but that wasn’t Don Walker’s fault or anyone else’s but my own. My own and all the other lunatics for bicycle polo that is. Our polo escapade was daunted a few times before we could actually take mallet to ball and as such, much show gawking was interrupted. Before the polo though, I certainly got much ogling in, a decently filled bag o’ schwag, and a really lousy lunch consumed. All was super good though!

I’m not sure what my favorite bike was, out of sympathy it was probably the one caging the cute bunny, with this Peacock Groove bike a good second—although I’m not sure it will last long enough. On the whole, I was surprised to see a smaller cargo contingent this year as compared to last. There were not was many sherpa-embarrassing cargo bikes as I was expecting. That being said, there were seemingly at least two porteur racks and potentially a rear rack in everyone’s booth though.

Cambio Corsa dropouts sans derailleur

Super Record 11-speed

The one thing that I noticed I kept being drawn to were the components. The fact that there existed such a polarity of components in the same room was really exciting! I was eager to lay eyes on the 11-speed Campy and was right in my assumption that the new Dura-Ace Di2 electric group would be available for fondling. And fondle I did, it was a pretty awesome stationary test ride—very cool, but in my opinion, very unnecessary, playing polo on the first-of-its-kind production polo bike was far cooler. Not to get distracted though, it was also really cool seeing a component manufacturer that I was wholly unfamiliar with: Sampson, keeping up with the 10-speed Jones’s, on a very nice looking Sadilah. I obviously have an appreciation for the old gear still though, and seeing the beautiful Naked bike with a vintage accent like it did was doubly valued.

Time to get Naked—nice branding, and nice Campy lock-out lever.

I like NAHBS because of its near intimacy with the craftsmanship and artisanship of the bicycle. This is only my second year, and I enjoyed it because again, it felt almost like a local community center event. I hope it never grows so big and disconnected that it no longer feels intimate.

Ending the night watching the Macaframa video was like icing on the cake. Cool people all around, watching some crazy bastards bombing brakeless hills and some intense technical tricks on the screen was a good way to end a trip up to Indianapolis.

The Macaframa banner at the Big Car Studio


Waterford’s The Joust. Cool polo bike—first of it’s kind from what I heard told, and I got to ride it for it’s virgin match. Pure awesomeness. Better awesomeness would have been able to play indoors next to the convention but we got kicked out. Tucker’s connections didn’t work too well with the shortsighted convention management that sent security on us. So out into the cold it was.


Back to the awesomeness. The Joust. To be fair, the dude Corey had dibs on it, but he was a southpaw and abandoned the Joust after a quick ten seconds, so I offered him my fixie and swapped him for the virginal ride. I scored a goal with it and everything.

Sweet looking bike. Nice high bottom bracket, comfy wheelbase, and stiff Zipp carbon stem which overshadowed the minor wheel misalignment. The immediate thing everyone seemed to agree on was the bar width—a good six inches too wide on each side I’d say. The Cane Creek brakes skidded nicely. And the cranks with one-piece chainring/bashguard looked hot and rode stiff, nice choice on the Odyssey pedals, it was nice to finally try those out.

It’s fixed wheel prototype was present and was a bit zippier in it’s handling. 650c wheels I think I overheard it equipped with. This Joust rode with Velocity CliffHanger 26ers. Evidently the Joust is currently available for sale as polo bikes.


I’ll write more about NAHBS perhaps tomorrow and probably upload more photos then too, for now, I just needed to get the Joust’s excitement off my chest. A big thanks to Tucker for letting us get to ride this bike, and getting people together for polo action in Indy.

More Bike Advocacy in Louisville

There’s a meeting happening next week here in Louisville. It’s not going to be in exact response to the Louisville Bike Summit, but hopefully will address some of the issues that remain in some of our minds from the Summit. Hopefully we’ll be talking about some alternative ideas about bicycle safety and advocacy here in Louisville. Feel free to attend, and throw out some ideas!

Click Image for Larger Version

We are traffic, don’t forget that.

Louisville Bike Summit II

The Louisville Bike Summit redux was better than I was expecting. This isn’t to say that I have a totally changed attitude towards the progress this city is making in becoming bicycle friendly. There is a lot of work to be done.

The beginning and most of the morning was occupied with hand clapping and back slapping in a way that reminded me of listening to some big politician speak in front of Congress. The infinitely interrupting applause. No, it wasn’t that bad of course, but what was bad was the topic warranting the applause. A lot of discussing what has been done, how far it’s come along, and where it’s going. So what is IT? Basically, recreational bicycling. Too much talk about the Louisville Loop, too much talk about trails through parks, too much talk about parking lots. I even heard mention of facilities for horseback riding and in-line skaters. This recreational talk is far too distracting for what I came there to hear and speak: bicycle safety on the streets. Where are the priorities?

The emphasis on the Loop and the many recreational attributes it brings to the city reeks to me of fluff and status recognition with the League of American Bicyclists, who I’m sure would be just as willing to elevate Louisville from Bronze to Silver status if we were to institute more safety measures rather than recreational measures. Towards the end of this leisure chatter, the audience was asked if we had any questions. Mostly crickets were heard in the gymnasium, until a petite older lady one table over stood up and asked the quite poignant question as to the alternative transportation needs that this city wants and it’s citizens desire in order to establish a smaller carbon footprint (in so many words). Happy to hear this controversial query I joined her in the minority by letting out an audible “whoop”. “Here here!” I couldn’t agree more, let’s prioritize alternative transportation.

I believe the next dude to get up and congratulate himself was from some park development company. More banter about parks and paths. At one point I hear him mention something about getting his canoe in the river after driving for forty minutes is a good thing. Then something about a Park drive, where motorists would have a scenic route. Isn’t this the Louisville Bike Summit? II? Evidently Louisville’s bicycle conversation, while I’m happy [the conversation] exists at all, is far from the reduction of internal combustion driving as transportation. Too much talk of biking on surfaces other than the street and roads. Too much path and trail talk. Accessibility to these parks is more often than not by car, accessing via bike or foot seems secondarily mentioned.

Interesting they kept the number of attendees limited to 270 with all this unused space. I guess the limiting factor might probably be managing more people in the break-out groups—but still.

One other thing that irked me a bit was the attitude of some of the folks with the microphones. I’m not an entirely serious guy myself, I have many a sarcastic bone in my body, but I don’t for some reason take it in good fun the lack of seriousness in a subject that others may be taking very seriously. Immediately at the beginning of the morning the man with the mic was thanking people who ride their bikes (I think specifically from data taken from an online poll) and blithely mentioned that those who ride year round “don’t count” referring to some local bike club called the Mad Dogs. Blah, I know, minor insult/inside joke at best. But the point is, some people do take pride in riding year round, and to have the president of the Louisville Bicycle Club say that they don’t count, even in a joking manner struck me as having an attitude that the entire event was unimportant. I ride year round, and I took the day off of work to attend this summit, maybe I take this subject too seriously.

The other point I thought was in mildly bad form was the description of cities like Portland, Davis, or Boulder being unrealistic cities. Compared to Louisville, which “is a REAL city”. I get it. Louisville is down and dirty, it has varied elements that make bike infrastructure difficult, but I didn’t like the fact that achieving a bike infrastructure similar to what Portland has was derided as being unrealistic. This is the mindset that holds progress back in my opinion, and if that mindset is at the top of the management, then I don’t have a lot of hope for any real progress.

Mayor Jerry I think was next. His talk was a bit more of the same although with a little more appreciated enthusiasm. The planting seeds and preparing for future developments once the economy straightens out, sounded to me like obvious delays and potential procrastination. But it was good to hear his opinion on some of the recent accidents we’ve had in Louisville, how some accidents have been malicious and states that the numbers of injuries are unacceptable. This seemed promising in its awareness.

The break out sessions were somewhat constructive “feeling” whether or not our suggestions are considered or followed is another matter. During one of them I pointed out the fact that there were virtually zero low-income people in attendance at this summit (beyond myself of course)—surely these road users should have a say in this discussion. For that matter, how many strict motorists were in attendance—those that don’t drive but might be affected by decisions made in this process. I also mentioned a number of potential engineering solutions that I’ve witnessed in other cities that seemed to work—namely Portland. After two of these break out sessions, I had to break out myself, a half day’s wage was calling my name.

Long and short of it, the whole process seems a bit over complicated. As if we’re adding complexity to it to enable people to make money off the system. Too much “business” when, in my opinion, paint and signs might just go a long way. I can’t complain too much though, like I’ve said before, it’s an open discussion, bicycles are being talked about at high city government levels, the mayor rides a bike and talks about improvements, and for that, I’m thankful to be here in Louisville and involved in the process to make it more bicycle “friendly”.

Fuel Saver

I just got a letter in the mail. Needless to say, before I describe it, this “letter” is junk mail. It’s from some insurance company, and because it had a little “personal access card” glued to the letter, I opened the folded sheet to see if there was any magnetic strip on the card. Now opened, I began to read the letter:

As a responsible driver, we think you may qualify for a reduction in your 2009 auto insurance rates. 

This is funny. Why you ask? I haven’t driven nor owned a car for nearly nine years. Looks like I get yet another benefit from being carless.

But this reminds me of another benefit that came up recently. A lot of grocery stores I’m familiar with give a credit to you if you bring your own bags. Well, my brief time in Louisville has shown me that the Krogers here were giving us a 5¢ credit for every cloth bag we brought. How nice! Largely insubstantial, but nice indeed. That was until last weekend when I noticed the cashier’s ringing in our “credits” were not indicating the 5¢ return. Curious about this discrepancy, I asked.

Evidently, this benefit will only apply to those who not only bring their own cloth bags, but also buy gasoline from Kroger. The credit doesn’t go towards your grocery bill, but towards any gas you intend on buying from Kroger. This begs the question as to Kroger’s original intention of offering the credit. Whatever greenwash they plugged with the original bag credit is ruined by the benefit only going to motorists now. Bring your own bags instead of using ours not to reduce consumption but to increase the incentive to drive. Where are the Kroger gas pumps anyway?

Bah! It’s really just mildly disappointing.