Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sensibility In The Iowa Senate?

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes.

The distinguished chuckleheads in the Iowa House decided that only adolescents kill people when they drive distracted, so they passed a no-texting-while-driving law that only applies to teens. Yeah, because that makes sense... why shouldn't an adult be allowed to thumb-type and knee-drive while sipping from a scalding venti no-whip mocha pinched between his elbows?

Thankfully, the Iowa Senate slapped that silliness down. 

Of course, this probably means that they'll butt heads until the end of the session, let the bill die, and it will be another year of dodging twits-on-Twitter before the thing comes up again.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fenders To The Front, Fellas!

I went for a spin in the slop on Sunday and learned -- quite by accident -- that some local riders just don't understand how fenders work.

To whit: A group of riders caught up to me as I walked over an icy path on the trail. We all worked back up to speed together, and I noticed that only one out of six had full fenders... and he was riding at the back of their little peloton.

Guys, a tip: The one with the fenders? He's the only one not spitting a nasty rooster tail off his back wheel. That's the back wheel you want to be on. I couldn't help but feel like the crusty (excuse me, "colorful") old guy in the Redford/Newman classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid trying to explain to Butch/Sundance that they aren't going to get robbed when they aren't carrying any money: "Morons. I've got morons on my team."

I sat up and let them go. Even though nobody was fighting me for the one dry wheel in the bunch, there were enough fender-free folks weaving in and out that I kept catching spray anyway. Kinda defeats the purpose of having my own fenders if I'm getting grimed by someone less prepared for the weather.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

House: Warmed

Had a little shin-dig yesterday to show off The Cycle World Headquarters 2.0 -- only four months (to the day!) after moving in. What can I say? We're slow... er, "methodical."

Wanted to send a HUGE virtual thanks to all the friends who ate our snacks (although we still have a ton of food), drank our adult beverages (ditto), complimented our (sometimes questionable) taste, voted on paint colors, and generally made the place feel officially homey.

This little gathering may also have been the largest real-world collection of The Cycle readers ever assembled under one roof... I think at one point we had too many to count on one hand! I didn't know I even had that many readers. Hope my brain doesn't vapor-lock now that I know this thing is looked at by real humans instead of just spam-bots.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Groundhog Day, Bike-Style

Sorry, local bike bretheren and sisteren. When the next winter storm hits, it's going to be my fault. I took off my studded tires this week.

Everyone knows that when Nunemaker's Nokians see their shadow and crawl back into a dark corner of the garage, that guarantees six more weeks of winter. Plus, in an even more brazen attempt to flip off the Snow Spirits, I de-studded my bike during the first of our two state basketball tournaments. As every good Des Moinser is all too aware, the state tourneys are traditionally the harbinger of freakish winter storms, making it even harder for out-of-towners to navigate those wacky one-way streets between the really tall buildings. (They also marvel at our escalators and revolving doors once they make it into the small-towner confusion that is the downtown Skywalk system.)

In my defense, Nokians ain't cheap, so I hate wearing them down on bare asphalt. And let's be honest... when you're dragging winter weight on your own bod, the extra weight of rotating carbide gets old fast. Plus, they aren't the plushest-riding things in the world, and we're looking at a bumper crop of potholes this year.

I tried some absolutely massive (700x47!) pneumatic donuts for a couple days. How? Well, let's just say that Bruce Gordon knew how to make a 29er long before that silly marketing term ever existed. My '93 BG ate those 47s like a snake dislocating its jaw around an egg. However, my fenders were just a skosh too narrow (oh, did I mention the bike took those tires WITH FENDERS? yeah, it's got some crazy clearance), so a lot of snowmelt spit out the sides onto my pants and shoes. Uncool. I figured it was either "buy wider fenders" or "go back to your trusty 700x32s." Being cheap, I went with the latter.

Temps have been over freezing all week, slowly wearing down our snowpiles, and we're supposed to see 50 by Sunday. Groundhog Day or not, I'm going to taunt winter one more time and declare that the off-season ends now. Who's with me?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Old Man

My dad would have turned 65 today. That means he's been gone for... wow, almost ten years. Time really does fly.

I'm not sure what I believe in when it comes to where he is now (or if he's anywhere, for that mattter), but in my memory, he's coasting downhill on his old white mountain bike with his favorite baggy purple t-shirt flapping in the breeze. And he's laughing.

Tailwinds to you, Dad.

Monday, March 1, 2010

RAGBRAI Makes Us Look Stupid... Again

The Iowa legislature is working on a bicycle safety bill this session. I've said in the past that I'm kind of lukewarm on the whole deal -- I'd much rather see them push through the no-texting-while-driving law instead. After all, a twit who's too busy firing off a tweet probably won't know that he's invaded the Magic Safety Bubble that the bike safety legislation is supposed to afford me.

"But Jason, you grumpy old geezer," I can hear you saying, "what does any of this have to do with RAGBRAI?" I'll tell you. One of our august legislators has been pushing an amendment to the bike safety bill that would require cyclists to wear blaze orange or school bus yellow jerseys. Again, I'm lukewarm on this. After all, my uniform (in life and on the bike) is pretty much a gray t-shirt. Safer or not, I'd rather not be legislated into looking like a fat tennis ball.

"But Jason, you digressing weasel," I can hear you saying, "this still has nothing to do with RAGBRAI." Okay, okay, I'll get there. The person who was interviewed last week as a cycling advocate on Iowa Public Radio (I wish I could link it, but the story didn't get archived on their site) spoke out against this "bright shirt" amendment because -- warning, fuzzy memory paraphrase coming -- "many RAGBRAI riders don't wear shirts, or much clothing at all."

Seriously? That's our advocate? That's the best counterargument we have? Are we honestly saying that being forced to wear a shirt during Amateur Week is the worst indignity a bicyclist can suffer here?

Good grief.