While searching for bicycle in Fort Lauderdale, Google turned up an odd search result: a photo of Evel Knievel in his caped suit, standing with his bicycle in front of his Fort Lauderdale house. (Who knew?) Was he preparing for a ride to the grocery store? Or a training ride on highway A1A? This picture is part of an entertaining article in Cozy Beehive from 2008 titled Celebrities Who Ride Their Bicycles. It features photos of everyone from Albert Einstein to Frank Zappa with their bikes.
I guess that cycling is chic. Here are more photos:
I believe in recycling. So does Jeff Torkelson, who’s a generous Fort Lauderdale cyclist who additionally believes in giving to his community — and he has acted on his beliefs. Jeff created the Recyclable Bicycle Exchange (“RBX”) in Fort Lauderdale to convert unwanted and/or unneeded bicycles into dreams come true for kids who otherwise couldn’t own bikes.
I first met Jeff in 2013 when he came to the Marino Campus to introduce the students to the Broward B-cycle bicycle sharing system. Jeff is its founder and manager. He gave away free bike helmets; I still use mine almost every day.
He decided he wanted to give back to the community after his father died of cancer five years ago. The idea for the exchange came about when Torkelson started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County.
“Here were children living lives where it was considered ordinary not to have a bike,” said Torkelson, 47. “I always thought every kid had a bike, that it was part of growing up.”
On the RBX website, Jeff defines the RBX mission:
To supply quality and safe bikes to the kids (big kids too) of South Florida, including the kids of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County (BBBS), as a means of introducing an entertaining activity that promotes an active lifestyle.
I’ve always been bothered by painful muscle cramps in my legs after strenuous exercise. They wake me at night after a hard day of hiking, biking, or swimming. Occasionally they’ll occur during a long hard bike ride or a hard swim workout. For decades I thought that I’d just have to tolerate the pain. Yes, some cyclists fill their water bottles with Gatorade, but it’s loaded with sugar. I thought that it was a useless gimmick. I’ve tried gorging on bananas to replace lost potassium, with no apparent effect.
Dave at Lauderdale Cyclery suggested that I try drinking a solution of Gu Brew and water (one tablet per water bottle) while cycling. I was skeptical, but was pleased to find that It actually works! No more cramps at night, and only occasional minimal hints of cramps when after a flip-turn, I push off the pool wall.
I drink this solution when swimming, cycling . . . any form of exercise. I wish that I’d discovered it earlier. The tablets are available in a variety of flavors. I don’t have a favorite flavor; I like them all.
Ralph Bueller, in an audio interview, claims that in Denmark, Holland, and Germany, more than 25% of trips by people over 60 years of age are done on bicycles. In the U.S., less than one percent of such trips are done on bicycles.
A friend points out that in most European cities, residences, shopping, and employment centers are clustered next to each other. Most American development follows the sprawl model: housing, shopping, and work centers are separated by dozens of miles of overloaded highways. The availability of affordable cars after WW2 encouraged sprawl. Now car-clogged sprawl is strangling us.
Bicycles offer many advantages over cars where commute distances are less than ten miles. It’s time for the United States to stop sprawling and return to a cohesive community model.
Jeff Bezos’ Amazon continues to disrupt traditional commerce models.
Recently I was in the market for a bright LED (light emitting diode) bicycle headlight. Top shelf LED headlights by Niterider and Baja Designs with outputs in the 2000 lumens range sell for $300 to $450. I searched Amazon and found a much cheaper alternative.
The headlight that I bought is made by China-based Securitying, a company that I’d never heard of. It claimed to produce 2800 lumens, its reviews were favorable, and Amazon sells it for a mere $40. It’s tiny, good and bright, but not perfect. It arrived with no instructions or o-ring mounts, and its low-medium-high-off pushbutton switch isn’t ideal for vehicles. Its output is probably closer to 1200 lumens — not the claimed 2800 lumens. Still, it’s very bright with a nice broad beam.
The interesting part of this is that the Chinese manufacturer seems to have no US-based presence. They’re using Amazon as their importer, American warehouse, distributor, and warranty claims center. I wonder how many other off-shore manufacturers are doing the same?
P.S. I’m so happy with this light that I bought two more: a second to use together with the first one, plus a spare.
I was thinking about biking and how much pleasure it’s been over the decades, from my first tricycle, through my 20-inch bike with training wheels, through a succession of bikes of all types.
One emotion runs through my memories of all of my bikes: freedom. The only bad memories involve headwinds. Hours and hours of headwinds.
In the 1960s I attended college in the middle of Kansas. I had no car, and saved my money for a new Schwinn Continental (a gorgeous but heavy 10-speed bike). I’d regularly ride that bike about 20 miles to Salina, KS. The roads were flat, but the never-ending wind was a killer. I’d not yet learned about the near-necessity of padded bicycle shorts or gloves. The rides would just beat me up, especially if I faced a headwind both northbound and southbound. (Yes, it happened sometimes — a front would come through and the wind would shift direction by 180 degrees. Result? Forty miles in first and second gear!)
Last month I was amused to find a Kansas bicycle podcast and the first thing that they mentioned was the difficulty of cycling into the wind. That persistent Kansas wind.
David Byrne (once the Talking Heads guitarist/singer, now world music producer) is an avid bicyclist. While on concert tour, he uses his folding bike to explore the local color. A few years ago he assembled his worldwide bike travel notes into a book titled Bicycle Diaries.
You can listen to him read a chapter from his book. David Byrne reads his Australia chapter from his 2009 book, Bicycle Diaries. I like his transportation philosophy: use a bicycle when it’s appropriate, such as in urban settings and for short to medium length rides. Use other transport modes when they make more sense.
I’ve been riding my bike more and now that the rainy season has arrived, staying dry is often a challenge. Wunderground.com is a fantastic resource: you can display moving real-time radar scans of your neighborhood. At least here in south Florida, these give me a good idea of where it’s raining, and the direction in which the rain is moving. Wunderground has a mobile adaptive interface, so it’s just the ticket to use on my smartphone while cycling! (Of course, I come to a safe stop first, well off the roadway.)
In my opinion, a well-designed product is one of which I grow fonder with each use. I believe in Mies’ credo, “Form follows function”.
Recently I’ve been caught in heavy rains while cycling and have appreciated having well-designed rain gear that works. My Giordana rain jacket does exactly what it’s supposed to do while not intruding. How? Every detail — the Velcro closure, elasticized cuffs, breathable mesh side panels, long-cut rear — is exactly what’s needed when cycling in rain. I have no idea how smart it looks on me, nor do I care. It functions beautifully.
Steve Jobs usually got design right. Most of his products are a pleasure to use. Sometimes, though, his aesthetics ran off the rails. His Next computer, for example, failed primarily because Steve insisted that it must be exactly one cubic foot in size: twelve inches on a side. No more, no less. There was no need for this shape and size; Steve just thought that it was a cool idea. The dimensions imposed design and manufacturing constraints that compromised performance and raised cost. It was a flop. Remember the iPhone 4’s antenna problem? It was caused by another dumb design when Steve allowed appearance to triumph over function.
Steve’s iPod, by contrast, felt and worked wonderfully. Its simple controls “fell to hand” and were intuitive. It also looked neat. It was a huge success. Form follows function.
Note that Apple designer Jony Ive must be credited with keeping Steve’s aesthetics on the rails.
My Android phone worked well as a bicycle navigator.
Yesterday I bicycled about ten miles to a new client, using the navigation software and GPS receiver in my Android phone. When I told Google Maps that I planned to ride a bicycle, it found an unusual route along back streets. I stuck in my earbuds, asked Google Maps for Navigation, and shoved off. A good-quality synthesized voice gave spoken instructions at each juncture. On one heavily trafficked road I must have missed an instruction to turn, which resulted in my pedaling an additional three miles or so.
Aside from that miscue, the phone worked well as a navigator. It chewed through the battery’s charge, though. Its distance resolution seems about as good as my TomTom GPS receiver. As usual, I found the user interface, especially the touchscreen keyboard, to be my biggest problem: it wasted many minutes as I tried to copy, paste, and enter destination data.