Monday, December 24, 2012

Big Red Bicycle Christmas

Nora and One Left have a really fun album filled with very catchy songs that would make a great stocking stuffer for the cyclist in your life. Nora's dad Larry might be her biggest fan. He made sure I knew about her album just in time for Christmas. I've embedded the video above for your enjoyment. Christine literally squealed with delight on seeing the video.

For those of you who are not quite done with your Christmas shopping (or anyone who loves songs about bicycles) you can go to:

listen to other tracks and buy the whole digital album for nine bucks. A nice deal on a very nice album.

Have a very Merry Christmas. I hope you all get what you want for Christmas and have a very Happy New Year.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ride 2 Blog Tour -- 3 Questions

Keith Snyder, the man behind the story collections RIDE: Short fiction about bicycles and RIDE 2: More short fiction about bicycles is a fellow who likes getting folks to tell stories about bikes. His latest plan, which may incidentally help sell a few more copies RIDE and RIDE 2, is to have the various authors in RIDE 2 ask each other questions. If the author has a blog, the questions and answers will be posted to their blog and all the questions and answers will be posted to Keith's blog at:

This is going to be spread out over the course of a few weeks and the order of the blog tour works like this:

Start: Rozan asks Peterson 3 questions.
12/23/12:  Peterson posts answers, asks Neuenfeldt
12/30/12: Neuenfeldt posts answers, asks Goffman
1/6/13: Goffman posts answers, asks Snyder
1/13/12: Snyder posts answers, asks Billman
1/20/13: Billman posts answers, asks Maher
1/27/13: Maher posts answers, asks Hope
2/3/13: Hope posts answers, asks Greene
2/10/13: Greene posts answers, asks Lempert
2/17/13: Lempert posts answers, asks Rozan
2/24/13: Rozan posts answers.

The writers get to pick the questions and the story order in RIDE 2 determined above schedule. S. J. Rozan wrote the first story in RIDE 2, so here are Rozan's questions and my answers:


1. When did you get your first bike and how did you feel about it?

Not counting my trike, which I got when I was three and used to try and escape and follow my older sister to school, my first bike was blue hand-me-down that used to be my sister's. I got it when she got a new bike. It was a kind of bike you don't see anymore, with a top tube that could bolt in lower position to make it a step-thru or a higher position to make it a "boy's" bike. I still thought it was girly and avoided it until I was about six years old. My dad won me over to the bike by adding these super cool Tiger hand grips to it. Esso was using those to promote their "Tiger in your Tank" slogan. I thought they were "Gr-r-reat!" 'cause they looked just like Tony the Tiger.

2. What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you on a ride?

This is a toss-up, so I'm going to list two things. The first was in 1982 when I was biking from Minnesota to California. I had a series of flats, which turned out to be caused by slightly long spokes and a flimsy rim strip. On my final flat (it had to be my final flat, I was out of patches), in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, I figured out the problem. And as I looked down at the side of the road, there was a nearly used up roll of duct tape. There were no towns for miles, no reason for that duct tape to be there, but there it was. There was just enough tape for me to make a thick rim strip and ride the many miles to the next town where I bought a new patch kit.

The second weird thing happened in 2003 when I was racing from San Francisco to Portland in the Raid Californie-Oregon. I was riding at dusk, in northern California among the redwoods. It was just getting dark and the bugs were coming out and bats were swooping after them. It was astoundingly beautiful and just as I was thinking how amazing it is that the bats don't smash into anything, a bat, intent on dive bombing a bug, slams into my left hand and brake lever. I felt the bat convulse and die right on my hand.

3. What's your indoor sport?

When Christine, my wife, read this question she said "You don't have an indoor sport." "Yeah," I replied, "the only answer I can come up with for this one is Twitter." So that's what I'm going with.


My three questions for Eric Neuenfeldt are as follows:

1) You've got a day to show someone around your part of the world by bicycle. Where do you go riding and what do you show them?

2) You can add one more bike to whatever fleet of bikes you have now. What do you get?

3) Pick a movie or a book and explain how it would be so much better when you rework the plot to include bicycles.

You can follow the blog tour at Keith's site at:

Finally, thanks to those of you have bought RIDE and/or RIDE 2. Links from my site take you to Amazon where you can buy the Kindle versions of these books, but Keith's site at:

has currently has links to Nook, iBooks and Kobo versions. Sometime in January, the print version will be available.

Finally, if you have read RIDE or RIDE 2, please leave a review on Amazon, iBooks or whatever. Reviews, good or bad, help others in choosing books and reviews also help sell books.

I've got some more blog posts and stories in the works. Thanks for staying tuned to the blog and if you've bought any of my books, thanks for that as well.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dear Santa

This note has been making the rounds on Twitter. I hope you get that good cool bike you want for Christmas.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Safety Solution or Noise Pollution?

While I think we all can agree that there are no guarantees in life other than the basic certainty that something, at some point, will kill you and I think most of us also agree that taking reasonable precautions and trying to behave in safe manner is a good and prudent thing. But one person's reasonable precaution is another person's over-reaction. We, as individuals, can only see the world through our own eyes and, as Steely Dan noted, "the things you think are precious I can't understand." There is also the problem that we are much better at detecting and reacting to threats of the moment than we are at seeing long term consequences that result in increased threats to our safety. This, in large part, is why many people think sitting on their couch is safe while riding a bicycle is dangerous, when in fact our comforts are more likely to kill us.

Our individual actions take place within society and in sum alter society and those alterations are not always the desired outcomes. Take, for example, the car alarm. The original idea is that of a device that goes off when someone messes with your car, scaring them off and alerting you and your neighbors to a theft in progress. Now, it seems like darn near every car has a car alarm. I've heard dozens, heck hundreds of them go off. Because of people fumbling with their keys, or a big truck rolling by, or because of a bunch of things other than a crime in progress. I don't think "Oh my, a crime is in progress, I will leap into action to thwart the criminal!" No, I think, and you may as well, "Jeez, some idiot's alarm is going off. Again!"

It is thoughts like these that came to mind when I saw the Kickstarter for Loud Bicycle: Car horn for your bike. I understand the sentiment behind the device and I think the man behind the project, Jonathan Lansey is an earnest, well-meaning guy. I know some cyclists who are enthusiastically backing the project and, of course, BikeSnobNYC gave the project great press by mocking it mercilessly. My own thoughts are more mixed. I think it's too big and too loud and I'm not that confident of it succeeding. But a part of me fears that it will succeed and thus add to the cacophony of our city soundscape. Giving a bicycle the arrogant voice of the automobile isn't the answer I choose.

Christine and I use bells, specifically the classic Crane Bell. It's small, brass, loud and attention grabbing without being obnoxious and it never needs batteries. It's like a little gong.

There are times, however, when I can see the need or desire for something with a more piercing tone and another Kickstarter seems more in tune with my thoughts on warning devices. This device, called an Orp, is a small dual decibel bike horn & warning light. It looks like this:

I like the two levels of noise the Orp has and the attention grabbing light is nice addition as well. I'm not sure I'll be getting one, but I'm thinking about it.

I don't know what the marketplace and the street will decide is the right kind of warning device for a bicycle. What's your solution? Do you ding, beep, whistle or yell? Feel free to sound off in the comments.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Velo Orange Sabot Pedals

For the past month Christine has been riding the Velo Orange Gran Cru Sabot Pedals. The folks at Velo Orange were kind enough to send me a set of these pedals to evaluate and as soon as I saw them I knew they should go on Christine's Allant. These pedals are nice. Classy. Like my wife. Like her bike.

Now Christine had never complained about the stock nylon pedals on her bike and in truth those pedals have held up fine on her commutes and adventures. But the Sabots gleam like jewels. After her first few rides with the Sabots Christine noted how smooth the bearings are in the new pedals (Actually she proclaimed them very "spinny"). Each pedal actually has two sets of inboard sealed bearings and an outboard sealed bearing making them very solid, smooth turning and low-maintenance. If the pedals ever do need to be serviced, the sealed bearings can be replaced.

The pedals have a big, flat (actually slightly concave surface) with replaceable grippy pins. They work great with the footwear Christine and I favor, Keen Sandals, but the Sabots would work well with pretty much any shoe. As you can see in the photo below, the Sabots are big pedals, with a bigger platform than the stock pedals they replaced. The additional surface area together with the pins makes for a real solid shoe pedal connection even in wet weather. (Unfortunately, bike commuting in Issaquah in November has given Christine lots of opportunities to verify the truth of this.)

The Sabots are a very nice, high quality flat pedals. Christine likes them a lot and so do I. Russ Roca also has been putting some miles on a set of Sabots and you can read his review here. BTW, Russ takes  much better pictures than I do!

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Sunday, December 09, 2012

RIDE 2: More short fiction about bicycles

Just about a year ago, a story I wrote was published in a book called RIDE: Short fiction about bicycles. If you're a regular reader of this blog you probably know this because I wrote about the book when it came out and I've shamelessly had a link to the book on the right side of this blog ever since. While the book hasn't sold in numbers to keep Stephen King awake at night (which hardly seems fair since Stephen King books have managed to keep me up late on several occasions), the sales of the book have bought me a few cups of coffee which in turn have kept me awake. Since I'm up, I might as well write something.

This is how blog posts happen. This is also how stories happen and another one of my stories made it into another book. This book is called RIDE 2: More short fiction about bicycles and like Ride, it is edited by Keith Snyder. Keith is a damn good editor but he's not exactly original when it comes to picking titles. So it goes. BTW, a friend of mine on Twitter noted that when men get gushy and rave about something the word "damn" shows up a lot. Damn right. My own story, Made with Extra Love, which you may have read in an earlier version on this blog last spring, wound up being a lot stronger and tighter thanks to Keith's editing. I'm sure if I'd given Keith a crack at this paragraph, there would be fewer "damns" in it and it'd be a damn sight better. He's that damn good.

Any collection of stories by different authors is going to have various voices, tones and tales. Not every character is admirable, not every story is a beacon of hope. But the tales run true, which is the ultimate test of fiction. You can tell in the reading that Eric Neuenfeldt knows urban bike shops and bike polo, Jan Maher and Barb Goffman understand the dynamics of families and S.J. Rozan knows love and loss. And Keith Snyder's entry, which I was wary of since it is both poetry and "Part 1", shows that yes, the man knows how to make words behave on a page. Don't let the poetry and Part 1 scare you. And by the way, Jon Billman knows a hell of a lot about the dirt roads of Oklahoma, the line between this world and the next and the importance of a good breakfast.

The common thread in these tales, besides humanity, is bicycles. The machine is more than tubes and tires and chain. In each of these tales, it is the bicycle that takes the character and the reader on a worthwhile journey.

Yes, I'm totally biased but I'm also extremely proud to be sharing the pages of Ride 2 with the other authors whose tales fill this book. I hope Keith keeps this series running for a good long time.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Favorite Bicycle-related Magazines

On Twitter I asked folks this question:

"What is your favorite bicycle-related magazine and why?"

Now this is in no way a scientific survey, vast swaths of people aren't on Twitter and only a tiny fraction of the millions of Twitter users bother themselves with following the 140 character texts from some bike mechanic in Issaquah. By the same token, most of the users of the internet never cross paths with this blog. Given those limitations, however, I found the results to be an interesting look at the kind of folks who actually do read my stuff.

The most-mentioned magazine was Jan Heine's excellent Bicycle Quarterly.  Bicycle Quarterly got raves for its technical articles, real world tests, historical perspective and as one person noted "Jan Heine knows more about bicycles and cycling than I ever will. The ads are cool, too."

The next most oft-mentioned magazines were Momentum and Bicycle Times. As my friend Barb listed these two magazines as a tie for her pick of a favorite citing "reviews of bikes/gear I might actually buy and non-racers profiled." Scott enjoys Bicycle Times' back page "How We Roll" feature and his wife calls it her "get-your-stoke-on" magazine. Momentum got various positive comments for featuring good articles with basic info, lots of images and content for and about women.

Another magazine getting multiple mentions was Dirt Rag. Cited for its nice graphics and punkish attitude, it was also noted that the magazine is "fun to read." I'd add that Dirt Rag also has better depth to its reviews than many of the glossier mags and I love its annual literature contest.

Before I mention my personal favorite magazine, I'd like to call attention to some other excellent, but perhaps less well-known magazines that were mentioned by Twitter folks. Although they are zines and not really magazines (no ads, no gloss, no BS) several people made sure to mention the works of Elly Blue. Elly's zines are little books on a given theme are always nicely done with that indy, DIY, you can do it vibe to them. Go to and check out her stuff.

Grant Petersen's Rivendell Reader can be had in electronic form and some back print issues can be found at: Again, interesting stuff for folks interested in the non-racing aspects of bicycles.

By the way, there is certainly nothing wrong with racing bikes but my own interests and those of most folks answering my question tended more towards other aspects of cycling. Of the zippier magazines, Peloton, Switchback, and Pavedmag were cited as having a "not just racing" approach. Rouleur was also called "glorious" and since it features the writing of Paul Fournel, I would have to agree. The racing classic Velonews is still loved as the go to source for racing coverage.

My friend Davey recommends two magazines called Boneshaker, one from the US and one from the UK citing their "beauty in bicycling" and "thrill of words." I tend to trust Davey's judgement in these matters. For those of you looking for a more urban bike vibe, check out Urban Velo, the product of a couple of good ex-DirtRag dudes. Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, COG is another nice city-focused magazine.

But my personal favorite magazine, the one that Christine and I both devour as soon as it comes in the door, is one you won't find at your local newstand. It's Adventure Cyclist and you get it as one of the many benefits of membership in the Adventure Cycling Association. This magazine is not about bicycles, it's about traveling by bicycle and nobody combines great writing, wonderful pictures, solid information quite as well as these folks. This is the magazine that will inspire you to see the world from the seat of a bicycle. If you are not a member of Adventure Cycling, you're missing out on some of the best travel tales available.

OK, I'm sure there are other great magazines out there. If you know of something great that shouldn't be missed, please add a comment.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA