Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lucky Town

Sometimes I go rather far afield for my job, like this past July when I rode all around the state. Today, I got to stick close to home, representing the Bicycle Alliance at the official opening of the Issaquah-High Point Regional Trail connector. You have to come up with something to say at these things, so I got up early and jotted a few notes. I knew I'd be talking after the mayor and the council people and the various transportation folks had said their pieces and pretty much thanked everyone. I wanted to keep things brief but still say something. This is what I said.


A couple of weeks ago I was at the opening of the new REI here in town, chatting with a fellow. Most of the time he's working at one of the REI stores in the southwest but he'd come to Issaquah to help open the new store. "You're lucky to live here," he said to me and when he found out I'd lived here for the past 14 years he added, "I bet it's changed a lot."

And I found myself telling this fellow how the space where the REI and the Safeway and the Target store are now had all been an open meadow and how old-timers remember back to when the 12th Avenue Cafe was on 12th Avenue and how there used to be cows grazing right across the street from my kid's elementary school. But mostly I told him how we still have salmon in the creek, and while some of the old farms are becoming condos, others are becoming parks. I told him how Rainier Boulevard was changed to better manage run-off, how abandoned rail lines have been turned into trails, how folks are working to clean up litter on the roadsides.

And I told him about the trail to High Point and the path under the freeway and along the shores of Lake Sammamish. How folks can walk and bike to places instead of driving and how the pieces link together in a greenway. How folks who never set foot or wheel on these paths still get value from them, for when you or I are hiking or walking on these paths, we're not sitting in a car stuck in traffic on Front Street. How every bike trip that's not a car trip helps keep the air just a bit cleaner.

We all make choices. How we vote, how we spend our money, how we spend our time, all these things really do matter. Ultimately, as Gandhi said, "actions express priorities." These trails and the bits of green we all share and enjoy and depend on are here because good people have put in a lot of work to make sure these things are not only here today, but here for our grand-kids and for the salmon, the heron, the frogs and all the rest of the world.

A lot of non-glamorous work goes into making a livable town. Lots of boring meetings, a lot of argument, a lot of compromise. To actually do things takes money, time and lots of good old-fashioned heavy lifting. It's really amazing that anything ever gets done.

But things like the Highpoint connector do get done and we owe a huge debt of thanks to the people who have put in all the work to make this happen. And now is when we roll up our sleeves and pitch in somewhere. Issaquah is a great place to live, but there still is plenty of work to do.

We are lucky to live here but it's the kind of luck Bruce Springsteen wrote about and I'm going to take the liberty to paraphrase the Boss just a little bit:
"When it comes to luck, we make our own
we've got dirt on our hands, but we're building a home."

Randy Cohen on Transportation Ethics

As my friend Michael said, "You have nine minutes. Go watch it." This Youtube movie is nine minutes long and it's just two guys talking. But it's a really good nine minutes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Werewolf Principle

I just finished reading Clifford Simak's small science fiction novel The Werewolf Principle and even though it has nothing to do with bicycling, I have one of those minds that relates everything to bicycling. I think this particular trait of mine baffles some people. I know it baffles my mother, who said to me once, "you can write so well, why do you always write about bicycles?" I found myself giving the same response Stephen King did when he was asked why he writes horror, "what makes you think I have a choice?"

In Simak's novel humans can travel to the stars and the big questions of the day involve interactions with aliens and alien landscapes. Do we as humans change the worlds we encounter to better suit ourselves, or do we change ourselves to live in alien worlds? And if we change, are we still human?

Simak is an optimist, arguing ultimately that the essence of humanity is that we do both, we shape our encounters and we are shaped by them. We are never perfectly content to stay what we are or where we are. We change our worlds and we change ourselves.

Which brings me back to bicycling, and back to my friends. And back to the werewolf principle. The werewolf principle states that we can, and often are, changed by our encounters. Even if those encounters are initially brief and sometimes frightening.

As a child I saw other kids riding bikes and I knew that somehow they could balance and roll and if they could learn then I could learn. And I did.

Later I learned that some people rode farther, even a hundred miles in a day, on rides they called "centuries." And I learned about bikes called ten-speeds and I learned about shifters. And I met people who knew about things like lactic acid and interval training and sprints and sport nutrition and all kinds of other stuff.

I learned that I could change myself and that yes there were limits, but they were not what I'd thought they were. I met people who rode centuries and I became a person who rode centuries. I met bike racers and I became a bike racer. And I also found the limits to the werewolf principle when I met Greg Lemond.

I did not become Greg Lemond.

I also did not become a marathon runner when I shared an apartment in my college years with a marathon runner named Ed. Ed taught me that marathons are easy. Well easy for Ed. Ed had a passion for running, but somehow I lacked that. But that was OK. "Why do you run marathons, Ed?" "What makes you think I have a choice?"

Somehow we are given certain abilities and susceptibilities. I was mostly immune to Greg Lemond, I knew I could train forever and not be him. And I knew it was OK not to be him. And I didn't catch the running bug from Ed, but I learned a lot about what I wanted to do and how to manage to do it.

We tend to call people freaks when they are farther out than we are. Outside Magazine profiled John Stamstad in a piece called, That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stranger, and I'm sure many folks read that and thought "what a monster!" and "I could never do that!" I read that article and thought, "I should learn some of what he knows." A few years later I heard John speak at REI and I got to talk with him a bit. We talked about food.

I have friends who are out running or riding right now, while I'm sitting here typing. My friend Tammy has morphed from a couch potato to a triathlete and coach. My pal Scott is half the man he used to be. And I know dozens, hell make that hundreds, of other werewolves who have undergone similar transformations. And those folks are not just transforming themselves, they are inspiring (maybe infecting?) others.

We may not be able to choose our passions but if we are lucky we cross paths with those whose passions we share. And we don't see them as monsters but as inspirations of something that we can become.

As David West noted, the movies have it all backwards.

The Unhappy Association of Werewolves
Makes a Statement to the Terror Industry

At night, we do our hunting.
Home is everywhere we've pissed.
Our name is fang, and who we love
is not your business. Then we sleep.

We dream we're in an office -- it's man eat
dog out there. Our hides are worth money
and traps are cheap. We are required
to be undyingly civil on the phone.

We dream our fangs are not there when
we need them. You can tell we're losing
when we start to look bored, when anger
learns patience, and we wake up.

We face the mirror and see horror
as familiar as a razor. We're losing fur
our fangs retract -- then we're naked
at the mercy of rush hour. We're not

good humans turned into wolves by a curse;
the movies have it all backward. At night
you call it howling but we sing because
we're free. By day we get paid to be dogs.

Note the above poem is copyright (c) 1989 by David Westerhold, All Rights Reserved and comes from the collection EVIL SPIRITS AND THEIR SECRETARIES by David West. You can order it for $5.95 (quite the bargain!) here:
And no, I don't get any kickback from David or Zeitgeist, I'd just love to see David make a bit of money from his work and maybe crank out another book or two. And if you do want to give me a kickback, follow a link from my site to and buy anything they have for sale. It doesn't cost you anything extra but it tosses a few percent of your purchase amount my way. I, of course, squander the money on bike stuff.

Enough typing now, I have to head out for the woods. I hear something howling out there and somehow I have to follow it. What makes you think I have a choice?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Moolock Mountain Ramble

"Moolock? Isn't that the degenerate half of the future human race as envisioned by H.G. Wells?" "No," Mark Vande Kamp corrects me, "the Moolocks are the degenerate half of the future race of cows as envisioned by Gary Larson." Actually it turns out that Moolock is the name of a tiny lake in the Cascade mountains that's about 30 miles northeast and 3800 feet above my Issaquah home. A quick Google search reveals that Moolock is also a Chinook word meaning elk.

Mark and I quickly determine that a bike trip to Lake Moolock might be just the kind of the thing we need to burn off the Thanksgiving turkey. Getting from my place to the lake involves some real roads, some logging roads and some things that on the map look suspiciously like moolock trails. My wife, who is the wisest person in my household, points out that snow in the high country may thwart our plans. I mumble something about the journey being the reward. She mutters something about me freezing my ass off.

Brad Hawkins, Matt Newlin and Jan Heine all decide that this Moolock adventure is something worth doing so we form a plan to meet at my place at 8:00 AM on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

It's 28 degrees (Fahrenheit) when Mark, Matt, Brad and I all meet up at 8:00. The day is cold, but clear. Mark assures us that Jan is riding over from Seattle but must be running late. We wait for a while and then leave a note for Jan before heading out. Jan is speedy (he was the first American finisher in Paris-Brest-Paris this year) and we figure he'll catch up.

We ride the trail out of Issaquah and up to Highpoint. There is frost on the bridges and the shoulders of the road. At my suggestion we stop at the coffee shop in Preston, a clever maneuver that nets me a hot beverage and gives the speedy Mr. Heine opportunity to catch up with the group. The plan works on both counts and the five of us roll down the Preston Trail toward Fall City.

Just past Fall City we connect with the Snoqualmie Valley Trail where we climb up to the Tokul area and then follow the logging roads onto Weyerhaeuser land. Many of these gravel roads are huge, designed for big logging trucks but as we work our way further into the back country and higher into the mountains, the roads get smaller and rougher.

Mark is our navigator and he does an admirable job in a difficult situation. At best, the map is an approximation; old roads have become abandoned and overgrown, new roads have been added and in some cases the land itself has been reshaped by bulldozers. We make only one obvious wrong turn that we correct with a bit of bushwhacking and even that slight miscalculation leads us to a nice spot for lunch.

Brad has to be back in civilization earlier than the rest of us, so he turns back near Lake Hancock at noon. The rest of us climb for another hour, on roads where we debate the grade. Everyone seems to feel it's at least 15%, the debate is mostly about how much steeper it is. All I know is that I'm extremely glad that I brought my light bike with the 22*28 low gear. Jan, Matt and I all experiment to see if walking is any slower than pedaling on some of the sections and don't really come to any firm conclusion. Walking does work some different muscles and on some of the slick sections, it seems preferable.

We climb into the snow. It is not deep snow but it is enough to make us all think carefully about what it will be like when we are descending quickly instead of climbing slowly. With the sun and the climbing, we're warm but in the shady patches, it's cold.

After our hour of climbing, Mark explains where he thinks we are. He shows us a depressingly small number of contour lines in our wake, and a depressingly large number of contour lines between us and Lake Moolock. He points up a steep, snowy, rocky ridge. "I think," he says, "Lake Moolock is on the other side of that."

We start talking about June. Lake Moolock is probably lovely in June. We'll save it for June. For now, we'll take this other fork, still snowy, but not so up.

The other fork leads to a clear-cut, what the timber folks call a temporary meadow. We scramble over fallen logs, take our bearings and take some pictures and then head for home. We stop for a bit at Lake Hancock, where Mark impresses the rest of us with his rock-skipping ability. Lake Hancock is nice, but it actually has one cabin on it, so it's still a bit too civilized.

But a lake called Moolock? That's probably really something.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

26 x 1-1/2 Does Not Equal 26 x 1.5

There are some things in the bicycle world that are just plain weird. The various ways bike tire sizes are designated is quite bewildering but, as is the case with many things bike related, Sheldon Brown has an article that explains things pretty clearly. That article can be found here:

Now I have read Sheldon's article and I have worked in bike shops and I've explained the weirdness of tire sizing to various folks over the years, so you'd think this would be ingrained in me. And mostly it is. I know what size tires fit the rims of my various bikes and I know to look for ISO/E.T.R.T.O. number to resolve any doubt.

Most of the time I remember that.

Sunday I am riding up in Redmond on my new-to-me "fast" bike. Note that "fast" is in quotes. In this context it only means that this bike is probably faster than the other bikes I currently have in rideable condition. In the larger universe, the universe that includes such things as carbon Parlees and Mario Cippolini, my bike is not fast. But still, the bike seems fast and in my head I sometimes hear Phil Liggett's voice telling me I'm a "spirited little climber" so I get to wondering how fast my fast bike really is.

This is how impulse purchases happen. I'm wondering something like how fast I'm actually going and then I realize that I'm right by the Redmond REI and maybe I'll just see what they have in terms of cycle computers. And they have a nifty Cateye Strada which is kind of small and pretty much has all the features I want and it even has mount that can go on the stem or the bars and by the way I have a bit of extra cash because a bunch of my blog readers bought NO WAR FOR CHAIN LUBE shirts and I just deposited the check from Cafe Press. And maybe I could blog about the cycle computer (this is the "blog fodder" excuse and it can be used to justify darn near any cycling related purchase or adventure). And didn't our president tell us that if we don't shop then the terrorists have won?

So I do my duty as a good American and then I'm at the bike rack at the REI, installing my new Cateye Strada. Another cyclist locking up his bike gives me the "computer, eh? I gave up on those years ago..." speech. I grunt in an ambiguous manner, not bothering to tell him that I've given the speech he's giving me a few times myself and besides I've quit bike computers more times than my uncle Buck gave up smoking.

So maybe I'm a little distracted. And the instructions are printed in a dozen different languages (no exaggeration, a dozen, I just checked) and so the instruction sheet, including the computer calibration table, is printed in some pretty tiny type. Anyway, I get the computer installed and mostly figured out and I punch in the number from the calibration chart and roll away.

This red bike is fast. This makes sense, Mario Cippolini will tell you that red bikes are faster than other bikes, everything else being equal and Mario being on the red bike. And even this red bike with me on it not only seems fast, it is fast. Maybe not Super Mario fast, but fast for me. Faster than I thought.

The warning sign comes when I get back to Issaquah and see that my new computer not only tells me that I'm faster than I should be, but also that it is a bit farther from Redmond to Issaquah than I remembered. That doesn't seem right.

Monday, I get the confirmation. I am faster than I should be on my 19 mile commute to work. Except my 19 mile commute is actually just a bit over 18 miles. I know that for certain. My computer is wrong.

I look again at the chart. The number I'd punched in, the wrong number, was 2100 mm. That's the number for a 26 x 1-1/2 tire. But I don't have a 26 x 1-1/2 tire, I have a 26 x 1.5 tire. I am an idiot. I'm also a little slower than I thought I was. My red bike is still my fastest bike, but it's not quite as fast as I thought.

With my computer properly calibrated with a setting of 2010, my commute numbers match up with Google Earth and the real earth. I won't be challenging Mario to any sprints any time soon.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Tao of Kent's Bikes

I know folks who can clearly picture their dream bike. They know what the geometry will be, what the frame will be made of and what color the paint will be. They have decided what saddle will be on the bike, what hubs, spokes, cables, brake pads, derailleurs, handlebars, stem and every other bit of the bicycle. They have calculated the exact placement of every accessory mount and know the threading of every bolt. They may have taken this vision to some talented constructeur and made this image into an actual, rideable, real world work of art.

I'm not one of those folks. Over the years I've owned lots of bikes, but most of my bikes have come to me via a combination of scavenging and circumstance. Even the times when I've gotten a "new" bike, it quickly diverges from the original factory specifications. I certainly have ideals and ideas, but I also tend to learn something from every ride, so what I ride is seldom static. As Buckminster Fuller would say "I seem to be a verb."

I have far more ex-bikes than bikes, something that my wife will tell you is a small consolation. The other night she asked me about the red Stump Jumper M2 that was casually leaning against the dishwasher in our kitchen. "Is that another bike?" I confessed that it was. She rolled her eyes in an expression I know well, "We need to get you a shed."

The Stump Jumper is here because, well, I'm not really sure why it's here. Perhaps it's here because the Green Gary Fisher became the perfect beast: the bike that can haul damn near anything, with nearly indestructible tires and relentless practicality. So maybe I've learned most of what I need to learn from the Green Bike.

But what if I went off in a little different direction? Start with a lighter frame and don't put racks on it. Maybe some lighter tires. Heck, Planet Bike makes a set of low cost fenders, why don't I give those a try? And I could use that LX derailleur I have kicking around in the parts pile and that sweet set of Suntour Power Ratchet shifters. Oh, if I match that 42/32/22 crankset with the 28-11 cassette this thing won't just be a Stump Jumper, it'll be a Stump Puller...

I don't have a clear idea, I have lots of ideas. I don't have a perfect bike, I have various bikes that approximate perfection.

A Zen Master would have just one bike (fixed gear, naturally) or perhaps he'd be beyond bicycles all together. But an Issaquah Taoist, who lives at the foot of Tiger Mountain and often sees only dimly through the mist? All I know is that I do not know. And I have this red Stump Puller.

Perhaps I need to get a shed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

You Otter Be In Pictures

There is no heron in the picture above but there is an otter. The heron was what made me stop and fumble out the camera. By the time the camera powered up, the bird was gone. When I shut off the camera, I saw the otter. As I snapped the camera back on, the otter slid under the water.

There is an otter in the picture above, but there are quite a few gallons of Issaquah Creek on top of the slippery beast so you'll have to take my word that there is an otter there.

I can tell you that otters like playing hide and seek. Until this morning I didn't know that there were otters living around here, but this otter seemed to enjoy tempting me to follow.

The otter drew me downstream, silent and slick, popping its head up from the water just often enough to keep me following, never long enough for the camera to catch up.

A second otter joined the first, right before they both slipped into a tiny gap in the blackberry thicket on the opposite side of the creek.

I lingered by the creek, exploring on foot and wheel. I saw ducks feeding on the rotten carcasses of salmon, felt the November damp brush up against my legs, heard the water rhythmically pull and release a branch that had fallen in the swift current.

I thought about what Gary Thorp had written in his lovely book, Caught in Fading Light. Gary quotes Paul Theroux who once wrote, "It is my good fortune that I've never owned a camera." Gary goes on to write:

Many times in my own experience I'd missed a good look at a hawk or squandered a coyote sighting by reaching for binoculars when I didn't need them. It was purely a reflex action, and now I didn't want to spoil my chances of seeing a mountain lion by fumbling with a camera case. If I saw a cougar, I would always have the memory, and I wanted to prolong the experience as much as I could, without interruption.

One can develop the art of looking just as certainly as one can master the art of playing the violin. Theroux compared the freedom of traveling without a camera to the adroitness of riding a bicycle without using one's hands. And even after all these years, it still seemed like good advice.

While I see the point that both Gary and Paul are trying to make, which is basically another reminder of the Zen precept to "be here now". I also have to note that I, as a human being, relate to and move through the world with tools. As a near-sighted person, I almost always see the world through lenses. I stopped by the creek today because I was on my bicycle and because I had a camera. I go farther awheel than I do afoot, but I seem to see more the slower I go. This is definitely one reason I prefer the bicycle to the automobile.

The camera is often a good excuse for stopping. Even if the heron has flown off or the otter is completely camera shy, I can't complain.

I can ride a bicycle without using my hands, but I still have handlebars on my bike.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bikes to Ghana

On Saturday November 10th, 2007 my friend Matt Newlin and I rode our bikes over to a Total Reclaim warehouse in Seattle to help load a shipping container with bicycles to go to Ghana. Total Reclaim provides warehouse space to the Village Bicycle Project and Bike Works who gather up various donated and abandoned bikes. Several times a year VBP ships a container load of bikes to Africa and Saturday was one of the loading days.

After Matt and I carefully locked up our bikes (we wanted to make certain our own means of transport didn't accidentally get loaded in the container!) we pitched in with the work. Some of the bikes we were loading were bikes that had sat for months in the Metro and Sound Transit lost and found, some had been donated by various individuals and organizations. Quite a few folks were helping out and the folks who'd done this before, people like VBP volunteer Meg Watson , Craig Lorch of Total Reclaim, and Melanie Lyons of Bike Works, provided clear direction and guidance to those of us who were new to the process. They also made sure we had both breakfast and lunch, which was good because even with a dozen or so volunteers, it took a full day to get the container loaded.

The bikes were made as small as possible by lowering the seat, removing the pedals, taking off any extra bits and turning the handlebars. Bikes with serious problems were stripped of useful parts and the parts filled every extra bit of usable space in the container. We rolled bikes, stripped bikes, moved bikes and packed bikes. A fellow named Ben Haney had a real skill when it came to figuring out what bike or piece would fit where in the container. I suspect Ben might have played a lot of Tetris at some point in his life.

The most surprising part of the day was also surprisingly hard. I'd expected to see what we saw the most of: Huffys, Magnas and other low-end bikes. There were also some very nice and serviceable old Treks, Giants, Peugeots, Bridgestones and things like that. But there were a few bikes, a full Xtracycle, a custom 531 Rodriguez and an unlabeled Campy Record equipped road bike that Matt and I argued would do more good at Bike Works. "Keep the bikes here, sell them at Bike Works, and send the money to Africa" was our basic pitch. Meg Watson agreed with our logic, but that those bikes had been donated to go to Africa. Meg was right and we have to respect the wishes of the donors. We loaded the bikes into the container. It was really hard.

At the end of a long day we got 487 whole bikes, who knows how many tires, brakes, wheels, derailleurs, saddles, handlebars and other assorted bike bits packed into that shipping container. On the ride home Matt and I speculated that maybe years from now we'll see some African rider racing in the Olympics or the Tour de France. The interviewer will say, "how did you get into bicycle racing?" and the rider will reply, "it was the darnedest thing, some big container full of bikes from America had this one Campy-equipped racing bike tucked in with all this other stuff..."

Maybe it won't go that way.

But I want to load the next container bound for Ghana and I want to get more involved in collecting the bikes to go to good causes. And if someone wants to donate a high-buck bike I'll still try to talk them into turning that bike into money and using the money to pay for shipping or training Africans in bike repair or buying tools to keep the bikes going.

The website at:

has great stories of how bikes and bike know-how change lives in Africa. If you've got a bike that you're not using folks like Bike Works, VPB or your local equivalent can repurpose it and do some real good, maybe in your neighborhood or maybe on the other side of the world. And if you've got a little bit of skill with a wrench, that can do a world of good.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Peter McKay, Latest News and the Reward Fund

I haven't been posting much to the blog because I've been slam-damn busy doing a whole bunch of bikey advocate type things and I haven't had time to write much about all that's going on. As I wrote last week, my friend Peter was shot while riding his bike. Members of two groups I'm proud to be a part of, the Seattle International Randonneurs and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, set up a reward fund through Crimestoppers. Gene Bisbee over at Biking Bis summed things up nicely so I'll save time here by using the text he wrote on his site:


Some concerned Seattle area bicyclists have set up a reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the nitbrains who shot bike commuter Peter McKay last week.

Peter, a member of Seattle International Randonneurs, was riding home to West Seattle after work on Thursday when someone shot him from a passing car.

Amazingly, he completed his ride home after the incident, although he felt pain with every breath. He found blood on his clothes and two small bumps when he arrived home. Doctors at the hospital found one BB pellet had penetrated his left lung, releasing air into his chest cavity. The other just missed his aorta and spinal cord.

Blog article

The 46-year-old calmly wrote about his experiences in his Peter McKay blog from his hospital bed at Harborview Medical Center --"Not a Typical Commute Home."

He was released from the hospital Friday evening and returned to commuting on his bicycle on Monday. In "A Few More Thoughts," Peter talks about the spectacular ride over the I-90 bridge, adding "We live in a very beautiful place."

I don't know if I could be that positive if I'd been through the same ordeal.

Reward fund

John's Ramblings blog reports that the Seattle International Randonneurs and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington have already collected $5,000 toward a reward fund. It will go to Seattle area Crimestoppers posters and public service announcements seeking information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

In addition to bringing the perps to justice, publicity about the reward will show the public that the local cycling community is very serious about stopping this type of crime.

(See more about the reward fund at Tripieper Tales & Travels.)

Anyone can donate by mailing a check directly to the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, P.O. Box 2904, Seattle, WA, 98111 with the notation Crimestoppers -- Cyclist Shooting Reward.


Donations also can be made through PayPal (, payable to Again note that it's going to Crimestopppers -- Cyclist Shooting Reward.


Peter McKay sent this note to the SIR mailing list. It shows Peter's spirit is bullet-proof and so is the spirit of all those who've responded:

Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2007 00:53:52 -0800
From: Peter McKay
Subject: [SIR] Thank you!!!

Dear Tim, Shan and the countless other supporters,

I never dreamed that my shooting would attract so much attention. It all overwhelms me. I apologize that I have responded directly to only a handful you. To all of you, thank you for your kind words and wishes for a speedy recovery.

I am passionate about riding my bicycle. Through the experiences during the last week, I learned that there are a great number of other individuals who share this passion. While Harborview cared for me, many individuals approached to share that they also ride their bicycles to work, similar to many of you. The tremendous outpouring of support from each of you reinforces the greatness of our bicycling community.

As my injuries do not prevent me from riding my bicycle, I continued my commuting on Monday. My physical healing continues. Any involuntary reaction, such as a sneeze or a burp reminds me that my tissue is still healing.

Thank you for all your support. I am honored to be a member of the bicycling community because we all care about the community in which we live and commute.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Get Lit Ride Lights The Night

They say it's better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness and on Monday night, November 5th 2007, volunteers gathered not with candles but with LED lights, bicycles and reflective gear. The mission was to celebrate and promote safe night-time cycling.

Thanks to funds provided by Seattle cycling attorney John Duggan, proceeds from the "Share the Road" license plate program, various individual donors and support from the bicycle component company Planet Bike, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington provides bicycle lights to low-income cyclists through a program called "Get Lit". Riders gathered at the Seattle Bike Station and delivered lights to Goodwill Industries, Union Gospel Mission and Plymouth Housing Group for distribution. Other light recipients include Bike Works in Columbia City, the Salvation Army, Spokane's Pedals-2-People and various homeless and low-income individuals.

It was a beautiful night for a ride and various drivers and pedestrians had great questions and comments for the well-lit, highly visible and enthusiastic group of riders. The ride concluded at the Seattle Bike Station with hot cider, a comparison of various riders lights and gear and reflective stickers for all.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Evil Will Not Win

Peter McKay is one of the most relentlessly cheerful people I know. I first met Peter years ago on one of the Seattle International Randonneur rides and in the dozens (maybe hundreds!) of times since then when we've crossed paths or ridden together I can't recall a single time that I haven't seen him smiling. Peter is not just one of those guys who sees that glass as being half full, he'll point out that the glass is half full, that it's a beautiful glass, that it's a wonderful day, how great it is that we are here enjoying the glass, and so on. You'd think that would get on the nerves of a cynical guy like me but Peter lives his life with so much joy that when he repeats his favorite phrase, "It's a beautiful day and we're on our bicycles" I can't help but smile and agree. (I think perhaps it was my grumpy old pal Mark Thomas originated that sentence but it has become Peter's motto.)

While riding home from work Thursday night, my friend Peter McKay was shot. Peter is going to be OK and in fact, knowing Peter, I'll say he's going to be better than OK. You can read about it here:

My immediate reaction was "you bastards!" and to think about a vigilante biker gang delivering some u-lock based education to the obviously thick skull of the shooter and the equally moronic driver. I figure it's pretty hard to shoot and drive at the same time so Peter's assault was the work of at least two sons-of-bitches.

In the face of such obvious evil and hostility, it's tempting to give in to anger or despair. This week another friend of mine, a tough fellow who has been car-free for years, has been taking the bus. Too many close calls with too many aggressive drivers have worn him down. "I just can't take it," he told me. (And no, this isn't me and this isn't one of those "I have this friend..." stories.) But I know my friend will be back on his bike. I know that because I know him and I think I finally know what to say to him.

My friend Peter gave me the answer. Read Peter's post. Especially the last sentence: "I still really love riding my bicycle." Sure anger passed through him and I'm sure despair did as well. But anger and despair aren't what Peter McKay is all about. Peter is a man who sees the beauty of the day and chooses to ride his bicycle.

I certainly hope the bastards who shot my friend are found and brought to justice. We will never rid the world of the evil and the idiotic, but we will certainly never defeat them with their own tools, anger and despair. We win by keeping on, choosing what is sometimes the harder road because in our hearts we know it is the better road.

It's a beautiful day. I'm going riding on my bicycle.

Get well Peter. I'm looking forward to seeing you on the road.