Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bob's Bike Shop

Note: the following is an award-losing bit of fiction I wrote for Dirt Rag's literature contest. If you want to read a better story than the one that follows, pick up a copy of Dirt Rag #145 and read the one written by Kevin MacGregor Scott. That fellow can really tell a good tale.

Here, for free, you can read my effort. I'm releasing the story under Creative Commons (see the license at the end) so feel free to pass it around. The story is totally free but if you want to toss some money my way, I won't argue. Any money I get from the story goes into my 2010 Tour Divide Race Fund. The little button at the bottom will let you send any amount to my Paypal account at kentsbike@fastmail.fm

Bob's Bike Shop

by Kent Peterson

Steve rolls up, five minutes before closing time with a seriously tweaked wheel and a sob story about a race tomorrow. I try to put him off, but when he offers to buy us all burritos, Tess and the boys out-vote me. Tess takes Steve's cash and the evening's bank deposit, promising to return with burritos for all. I pop Steve's wheel into the truing stand and the boys each keep working on the bikes in their respective stands.

As I turn my attention to the wheel, Steve asks an innocent question, "So, how did you ever get into the bike business, anyway?"

My younger son lets out a groan and his older brother turns to Steve and says "Oh man, why did you have to ask that?"

"What?" Steve says.

"Pay them no mind," I say, "they've heard this story a few times..."

"More like a few dozen times," the one with the smart mouth interrupts.

"Maybe a hundred times," the one with the even smarter mouth adds. "But now you've done it. Did you know Dad used to have a car?"

"Strange, but true." I say to Steve, "I used to have a car. Back when I was your age," I add, addressing my son, "I wasn't that bright..."


It took all winter and the first part of the spring, but by April I'd saved up enough snow-shoveling and lawn-mowing money to buy Tex's brother's old MG. The car was my British racing green ticket to freedom and in my dreams I'd give Cathy rides home after school, her blond hair flowing in the wind, her laughter like music as she chuckled at my latest observation of the human condition.

The car was great, with real dials and an honest-to-god rag-top but it had its quirks. The car had an unhealthy thirst for oil and it spewed smoke like Q had rigged a smoke screen that would let 007 leave any villains coughing in confusion. The electrical system would've been more at home in Dr. Frankenstein's lab than under a car hood. Excuse me, bonnet. When you own an MG, even if you've lived in Wisconsin your entire life, you start dropping British-isms into your speech and you wear one of those tweed driving hats. At least that's what I did.

I drove the car back and forth to school and I got a job where I learned to smile as I asked "You want fries with that?" My paychecks all seemed to go into gas, oil, big checks to an insurance company and fixing the latest and most drastic of the MG's quirks. The only times I got to see Cathy outside of the couple of classes we shared would be when she and big dumb Todd would stop by at Gordy's and I'd ask if they wanted fries with their order. I'd hear her laughter like music as Todd made some obvious observation of the human condition. God, how I hated Todd.

I was on my way to work when the MG broke down.


This time, some hose cracked and something leaked and a ton of smoke poured out of pretty much everywhere. I coasted to a stop in front of Bob's shop. Of course, I didn't know then that it was Bob's shop. I didn't know Bob and I'd never had any reason to go into his shop. Bob's place was a bike shop and what would I need a bike for? I had a car. Bikes were for kids.

I was still swearing at the car when Bob came out to ask if I need any help or a fire extinguisher or anything.

"A phone," I said. "Can I borrow your phone? I gotta call work and tell 'em I'll be late."

"Sure, sure," said Bob, and I followed him into his store.

The place was packed with bikes and smelled like old tires. There was stuff everywhere. Tires hung on pegs above the rows of bikes and there were baskets and bells and brightly colored shirts and a board with a bunch of gears hanging on it. Wrenches hung, each on their own hook, next to tools I didn't recognize above a workbench containing a vice and some gadget with a wheel clamped in its jaws. Posters advertising brands I didn't know flanked pictures of skinny guys I didn't recognize sprinting across some finish-line somewhere in Europe.

"What's a Molteni?" I asked, pointing to the picture of some dark-haired guy with big legs. I'd read the word off the front of his shirt.

"Molteni?!?" Bob paused, then followed my gaze to the poster. "Oh," he laughed, "some Italian company, I think they make sausage or something."

"Who's the dude?" I asked.

Bob shot me the look you get when you ask a really dumb question and then smiled broadly and said "Merckx. His name's Eddy Merckx. Don't you have to make a call?"

"Oh yeah," I said, as Bob pointed me to the phone. "I'm not looking forward to this. Gordy was so pissed the last time I was late."

"Gordy?" Bob asked. "You work at Gordy's? The burger joint?"

"Yeah, " I said. "I know you... Double Cheeseburger, no mayo, right?"

"Yep." Bob laughed. "I guess it's true, you are what you eat."

"I'm supposed to be at work in twenty minutes. I betcha Gordy fires me this time."

"Ride there," Bob said.

"What?" I said.

"Ride there," Bob repeated. "I'll loan you a bike."

"But - but it's too far," I protest. "And it's up a big hill."

"Geez!" Bob exploded, "Hand me the phone and I'll call Gordy myself and tell him to fire you! It's two miles at most!" Then he paused for a second and added, in a quieter tone, "Look, I ride there darn near every day and I'm an old man. You can certainly do it. You know, bikes have gears these days."

"I dunno." I paused, still holding the phone.

"Look," Bob said firmly. "You're burning time debating this. You can take my burger bike. It'll take you ten min..." he paused for a second, looked at me and quickly amended, "You can make it. At Fourth Avenue cut over to Maple and take it up the hill instead of Pine. It's a block out of your way, but it's not as steep."

"OK," I said, kind of relieved not to have to make the call. "But I've got a dumb question. How do I work the gears on this thing?"

Bob gave a half-roll of his eyes as if to say "Kids these days!" and then patiently explained the two levers that work the gears. "The lever on the left controls the front der... chain shifting thing. Moving the chain over to the smaller ring up front makes things easier. The right lever controls the rear derailleur, we call the shifting things derailleurs, and the back is the opposite of the front. In the back, the smaller gears are harder and the bigger one is easier. Oh, and you shift while pedaling."

"Where's the clutch?" I asked.

"No clutch," Bob replied. "Bikes don't have clutches. But they don't like to shift under load, so downshift before you need to. You'll catch on, it's easy. It's like riding a bike."

We agreed that I'd bring the bike back after I'd finished my shift at Gordy's.

"I'll leave my car as collateral," I said.

"I'd rather have something of value," Bob grumbled in response. "Bring me a burger and we're square."

I made it to work with three minutes to spare.

Riding back to the shop was easier than riding to work. The wind blew through my hair and for a few minutes at least I out-rolled the smell of french fries that clung to my work clothes.

The shop was closed by the time I get there, but I saw Bob inside. I knocked on the glass and held up the greasy burger bag. Bob opened the door and let me in.

He went back to working on a wheel that was clamped in what I'd later learn is called a truing stand. "You're working late," I said.

"I've got a lot to do," Bob said. "It's my busy time of year. So, how are you going to get that car out of my parking space?"

"Oh - I, uhmm..." I hadn't really thought this through.

"It's got a blown head gasket," Bob explained, "I checked it out after you left. You're not driving it anywhere for a while. You got money for a tow?"


"That's what I thought. OK, I'll help you push it around back. I've got some space back there and you won't get ticketed. When is your next paycheck?"

"Friday, no, a week from Friday. Crap."

"You're burger-based career plan seems to have gone slightly awry, my friend. How are you getting to work between now and next Friday?"

"Maybe I could bike there?" I ventured.

"My generosity has its limits, kid," Bob grumbled, but then he went on. "Look, you need wheels and I can use some help, so here's what we do. You keep the burger bike for the next couple of weeks, but you come here before and after your shifts at Gordy's. You don't seem that bright but you can probably get the hang of sweeping up and putting away parts and things..."

And so I rode for the next couple of weeks. I swept and shelved and Bob decided that maybe I could learn a few more things so he showed me the differences between brake and derailleur cables, how to adjust brakes so they don't squeal, how to lube chains and true wheels. I listened as he debated the merits of drilling out brake levers and derailleurs with various customers.

"How much is Gordy paying you?" Bob asked one day and when I answered he followed up with "Heh, I guess the burger business is every bit as lucrative as the bicycle business. If you want, you can keep working here and I'll match what Gordy's paying you. Your hands will still get greasy, but at least you won't smell like fries."

"But - but," I protested, "Cathy never comes here."

"Cathy?" Bob asked and I told him all about the goddess with the golden hair and the lilting laughter and that someday she'd see that she would be much better off with me than with big dumb Todd.

Bob nodded sagely and said "Let me see if I have this straight: you're working at a job you don't like, to pay for a car you can't afford, to impress a girl with an established track record of liking big, dumb guys. Right?"

I admitted that it sounded kind of stupid when he put it that way.

"Oh no," Bob countered. "The plan will work. You've got the dumb part down and you just have to shoot up another six inches and she'll fall for you like a ton of bricks." He dropped the sarcasm from his voice, shifted gears with just the slightest pause and went on, "Look, kid, I'm sure she's a looker and hell, maybe she's the one for you. And when I was your age I was probably twice as stupid as you are now. But there are lots of gals out there, some that are pretty and some that are smart and a lot that are both. I'm sure you don't believe me, but it's not worth settling for a woman who will settle for dumb. And you know," he added, "some cute gals come into bike shops, too."

I gave notice at Gordy's the next day. When school got out for the summer, I started working full time at Bob's.

I learned a lot that summer and some of it was about bikes. Bob helped me replace the head gasket in the MG and then I sold it to Todd's little brother. I used the money I got out of the car to buy an old Peugeot PX-10. "Oh God," Bob said, "going from a British car to a French bike. You must be one of those guys whose not happy unless he's got something to tinker with."

Bob taught me how to tinker with a lot of stuff. Sometimes in the busy season we'd stay late, after we'd closed up the shop just to catch up on repairs. At night the skip off the ionosphere would let the shop radio pull in the blues station from Chicago and we'd listen to B.B. King and John Lee Hooker and Billie Holiday.

One night after work Bob popped a tape in the VCR and we watched a documentary about Eddy Merckx. The guy came in second in some race and we watched as his shoulders dropped and he looked sadder than any blues song I'd ever heard. He wasn't pissed, he was just sad. And then he went and rode. In the rain and on rollers next to his washing machine. And he rode and he rode and he rode. And he won. "See that?" Bob said. "You keep going."

And Bob kept going. He was twice my age and twice as fast on a bike. As I got to know Bob, I learned his story. He talked about his wife a lot, even though she'd died a few years before, a victim of a hit-and-run. I thought maybe that was why Bob hated cars, but that turned out to be one of those simple and wrong conclusions that kids jump to some times. Bob kept talking about Martha because he still loved her and he didn't stop loving her just because she was gone. He told me that she was pretty and smart and that she'd been worth waiting for. And he didn't work all those hours in the bike shop because he hated cars, he did it because he loved bicycles. You find someone or something to love and you stick with it. Bob didn't hate cars, he really seemed to enjoy himself when we were working on the MG, but he never loved cars the way he loved bikes. I think Bob was one of those guys who was happiest when he had something to tinker with.

"You should go make something of yourself," he told me. "It's a big world, check it out." On Saturday mornings, before the shop would open, we'd go down to the long, flat Sawmill Road with bikes and a stopwatch and we'd time-trial. Thursday nights after work, we'd do laps out by the Airport. And at least a couple days a week, I'd do burger runs up to Gordy's. I no longer needed to go a block out of my way and go up Maple. I'd punch it straight up Pine, just like Eddy Merckx.


A knock at the window puts an end to my story. I slide the deadbolt and give my wife a big kiss as she rolls her bike through the door.

"Finally!" says Eddy. "We're starving here."

Tess shakes her short brown hair free of her helmet, her laughter filling the shop like music. "It's up a big hill!" she says, repeating one of our oldest family jokes. "Actually," she adds, "I've never seen the taco truck that busy. I guess the word has gotten out." She hands Steve's change to him along with the first burrito and passes a second one on to Eddy. Turning to grab his supper, Eddy notices for the first time that his older brother is getting red in the face while pushing on a big wrench.

"Hey, College Boy," he says "you'll never get it out that way. It's Italian. Right-hand thread on both sides."

My eldest son gets that "Doh!" look on his face and Tess and I exchange a half-roll of our eyes as if to say "Kids these days!"

My lovely wife hands me a burrito. "Miss me?"

"Every time you go," I say, "but you're worth waiting for." Turning to our son I add, "Take a break, Bob. It's burrito time."

Creative Commons License
Bob's Bike Shop by Kent Peterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Travels With Tools

I'm one of those guys who travels with tools. I basically have tools with me all the time, on my person and on my bike and since I actually do get asked about the stuff I lug around, I figured I'd detail it here. This is by no means an optimal kit, it's got quite a bit of belt plus suspenders redundancy. I also can't say it's complete. Tomorrow I may find some gadget that triggers my "ooh that would be handy!" reflex and I'll add it. Or I might go the other way and say "man, I'm lugging too much!" and purge something out. But as of right now, here's the kit.

First up, the stuff that I carry on my person pretty much all the time.

The little carabiner clips to my belt loop and holds my Swiss Army Knife and the two little Topeak wrenches. The wrenches came from a Topeak Survival Gear Box. Many of my tools have been picked from various kits over the years and my big tool box at home has many of the bits that I'm not currently using. Also, I tend to give away bits of kit I'm not using, which makes me feel OK with getting even more tools. And the cycle continues to this day. The knife is a Victorinox Deluxe Tinker and I probably use it at least twenty time a day. The thing on the right is a Topeak Hexus Bicycle Tool and even though I have a shop full of tools at work, a big toolbox at home and a bunch of tools in a bag on my bike, this is the thing that gets used at least as much as the Swiss Army Knife. When it's not in my hand, it's in my pocket. For me, the Hexus hits the sweet spot in terms of weight, function and ease of use.

Moving on to what I have on the bike, as I've mentioned previously, I use and like Topeak Morph pumps. The pump that I keep strapped on my Monocog Flight is the exact same pump I carried with my on my 2005 Great Divide Ride and it's still going strong.

The rest of my tool kit is contained in this bag which fits in the main triangle of the bike along with one water bottle.

Inside this bag, is this stuff.

That's two spare inner tubes, two plastic tire levers, a small bottle of chain lube, a patch kit and a little nylon bag with more tools and stuff inside. Yes, my kit has kind of a Russian nested doll quality. And yes, the Hexus contains tire levers so the levers in the on-bike kit are redundant. One might say that having spare tubes plus a patch kit plus True Goo tubes in my tires is redundant, but you have to remember that I GET FLAT TIRES ALL THE TIME. Remember that you read it here. When I do flat, WHICH HAPPENS ALL THE TIME, I typically swap in a new tube on the road side and patch the holey tube later under more favorable conditions with a handy, tasty beverage close at hand.

My patch kit contains lots of patches as well as sandpaper, glue and a spare battery for my cycle computer.

Inside the black nylon bag is this stuff.

A bunch of the little bits go inside a plastic film canister that has a layer of duct tape wrapped around it. In this picture you can see spare batteries for my lights, the film canister, a bit of chain and a SRAM PowerLink, some weird my multi-wrench that I freed from some random tool kit years ago. The neat thing about it is that the opening on the end is 15 millimeters, so it works for removing or tightening pedals or bolt-on wheels. The Park MT-1 Wrench, perhaps the most elegant multi-tool every made, can fit into one of the hex-shaped holes in the other wrench to form a handle for more leverage. Next to the Park wrench are 4, 5, and 6 mm Allen keys on a keyring (these can fit in some places the Park tool can't and can work in opposition to another tool in cases where that is needed). Below the Allen keys are some handy nylon zip-ties, a Topeak Chain Tool Head (yeah, it's redundant since the Hexus but I like being covered in case I lose the Hexus somewhere), a FiberFix Spoke, miscellaneous bolts, a spare Torx adapter, two sets of brake pads with brake springs and a brake cable.

Wow, that seems like a lot of stuff. And it is. But the whole kit is pretty compact and it's gotten me home every time I've needed it. If I know I'm going to be riding support on some event, I may add some Good Samaritan items like a derailleur cable and some different size tubes to the kit. Kits on my other bikes but often smaller, since they don't have quite the level of paranoia that I reserve for my Great Divide Kit. It's one thing when you break down a few miles from home in the city, it's a different matter when you may be hundreds of miles from the nearest bike shop.

By the time I go on the Tour Divide next year, I'll have posted a complete list of my stuff. I detailed the camp gear here and details of food, clothes, maps and electronics will be described in future posts.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kinetic Sculpture

This must be the week for odd human-powered vehicles to cross my path. I spotted this machine on my commute home along Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle. I'm thinking it'll probably be up at Port Townsend in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

You Don't See One of These Every Day

(OK this post is pretty dang commercial, but you have to admit this is a cool bike. And the shop proceeds go to the children. For gosh sakes, someone has to think of the children!)

One of the many great things about working at Bike Works is that you never know what will roll in the door. Today, my friend Dave's daughter Wendy and son-in-law Matt donated this. At first, I thought it was a Counterpoint Opus Tandem, but Matt tells me he built it and later found out about the Counterpoint.

Whatever the case, it's a cool machine. We (Bike Works) are selling it for $500 and the proceeds will go to our youth programs. Christine and I have figured out that we aren't tandem people, so I think I'm immune to the lure of this beast, but a a couple of random thoughts did pop into my head besides using this as a tandem.

It would make an awesome cargo bike. Remove the timing chain, seat and front cranks and replace it with a platform. The bike is already set up to handle the weight of a person up front, that's a heck of a lot of groceries.

It would also make a really cool art bike. Keep it as is, but strap a full size skeleton to the seat and strap the skeleton's feet to the pedals, The front crank spins with the the rear crank, so you'd have a perfect ghost stoker. Just the thing for Burning Man or the Death Ride.

Anyhow, like I said, we're selling it for $500. If you've priced tandems or cargo bikes lately, I think you'll see that's a pretty sweet deal. I'm betting it's not going to stick around the shop too long.

Kent Peterson, Shop Manager

Bike Works

3709 S. Ferdinand Street
Seattle WA 98118

(206) 725-9408, ext. 3

Tuesday thru Friday -- Noon to 6:00 PM

Saturday -- 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Sunday -- 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
The shop is closed on Mondays.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trip to Lost Lake

Weekends are the busy days at the bike shop, so my virtual weekend is Monday and Tuesday. Since my days off don't mesh with the days most folks have for adventuring, I often take off on solo trips. But my pal Mark Vande Kamp managed to shake all of Monday and much of Tuesday free, so we plotted out our trip. As is our custom, we had a general, not a detailed plan and we were headed someplace neither of us had been.

In this case, it's Lost Lake. There are probably dozens of Lost Lakes in Washington, this particular one is south of Snoqualmie Pass, 3,000 feet up in the Cascades and just west of Tinkham Peak. Mark and I leave from my place in Issaquah at 8:20 AM and we ride a mix of trails, small roads, a bit of freeway shoulder and then Tinkham and Denny Creek roads to Snoqualmie Summit. We've both managed to pack enough riding into this summer that the climbing doesn't really slow our conversation which ranges from books to philosophy to economics to science. While I'd read the report from the Cyclos Montagnards ride, it's far better to get Mark's straight matter-of-fact recounting. "You know, at the end you wouldn't have bet I'd be the one in the ER. Sure I was throwing up in a trash can, but Ryan was the one on the ground twitching uncontrollably." Damn shame I missed that ride!

After a quick stop at the summit, we follow the frontage road toward Hyak. Mark turns right one turn before I usually do to connect with the John Wayne Trail but I say something stupid like, "This'll be fine, it has to intersect the trail." The little road goes west and up and gets smaller. Consulting the map, we figure out that we crossed over too close to the summit and we had in fact crossed the trail but it was the portion of the trail encased in the closed Snoqualmie tunnel. But this road will get us where we are going.

While the John Wayne Trail overlays the flat old rail bed along the western shore of Keechelus Lake, the tiny road we're on climbs the ridge and follows the power line. One of the things Mark and I had been talking about was the blog cliché of ride reports that have the "I was doing this thing and then this random song came up on my iPod and it fit perfectly!" and how that's more a function of the human brain finding patterns than anything else. Neither of us ride with an iPod but as the road gets higher and less like a road and more like a trail, I can't help but recall the line from the Dar Williams song The Easy Way that says "I never took the easy way, so why don't you take it a little easy on me now?"

Eventually the tiny road tops out with a spectacular view of Keechelus Lake and a look back at what Mark calls "just how stupid we were." Fortunately, the descent that connects us to Forest Road 5480 is mostly rideable and the climb up 5480 seems positively civilized.

At Lost Lake I comment that if a place is called "Lost Lake" it really shouldn't have a sign and porta-potties but this Lost Lake has both. It's an odd bit of federal land with no formal camp sites or fee boxes but not the pure back country experience either. From the looks of things it seems that the folks who bring guns and beer out into the woods aren't big on practicing no-trace camping. Mark and I find a pretty place on the northwest shore of the lake, a place that I think would be prettier without the beer cans and empty rifle cartridges, but the little cartridge Stonehenge is kind of interesting.

We have enough of the afternoon to do a hike around the lake, something that is just possible because the water level is low enough to expose a mostly clear perimeter. In the course of our orbit we encounter a bunch of neat rocks and drift wood, a fraternity of beer cans, one decidedly non-chatty fisherman, a family camping with loud, friendly curious dog, four unpaired socks, and a small raft of loons.

Back at camp Mark cooks up dinner on his beverage-can stove. Part of my Divide practice includes going faster and lighter in the gear department, so my dinner includes Fritos, bean dip and Spam on an English muffin. As I've often noted, I am not a nutritional role model.

Mark's latest bit of gear is what may be the niftiest sleeping bag ever, an Exped Wallcreeper. This compact sleeping bag can become kind of a long coat, letting Mark poke his arms and legs out. "I can get up and pee in the middle of the night without getting cold!" Mark explains gleefully. Damn clever. Mark's ultralight pillow is also clever, a recycled bladder from a box of wine.

In the morning, Mark makes oatmeal without needing to get out of his sleeping bag. I'm perfectly comfortable munching granola bars and wearing my puffy jacket, so I don't think I'll be buying an Exped anytime soon, but if I was building up a camping kit from scratch, I'd sure give the Exped serious consideration.

We're rolling at 7:30 AM, taking the faster roads and trails home. After stopping for a quick coffee at Snoqualmie Summit, we wind our way down Denny Creek Road, follow the freeway to Edgewick and then small roads and trails home. We're back in Issaquah by 12:30 PM.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

David Byrne is a smart, funny, artistic sort of fellow whose talents, inclination and curiosity have led him all over the world. A few decades back, David discovered folding bicycles and since then he's ridden his bicycle along the side and back roads of many cities, riding, thinking, chatting, living life and seeing how it's lived in a wide range of places. His view of the world seen from a bicycle saddle gives him "glimpses into the mind of my fellow man, as expressed in the cities he lives in." Now, his meditations on people, places and the various ways we get along and get around are collected in his new book, Bicycle Diaries.

Bicycle Diaries is the best kind of art, a work that brings the reader along on the artist's journey. Bicycle Diaries is a physically beautiful book, hardcover with no dust-jacket, yellow embossed letters cheerfully identify the title and author while a black silhouette of a rider draws the reader forward. An observant reader will notice a tiny bicycle peeking out from the spine at the bottom of page 11 and on each odd page thereafter the bicycle has makes more progress. Fanning forward through the pages sets the tiny typeset bicycle free, racing across the pages in the oldest style animation, persistent vision holding tight to the bike while the pages blur past. Ever the artist, be it in music, lyric, print, or type, David remembers that a book can be more than just a file on a Kindle.

The tiny animation is just one example of the playful digressiveness of this book. While he casts a loving and critical look at the world, David is always conversational. He ponders, rants, muses and marvels. He reflects on how our cities reflect our minds. We build what we value, but our shaped world shapes those values. In an age where it seems that every celebrity has a publicist and a book that screams "look at me", David is instead riding his bike down interesting streets and pausing now and then to say "Hey, look at that!" He profiles interesting buildings, streets, people, cities and artists. He's structured the book as a series of chapters each concentrating on a city such as Berlin, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Sydney or New York, but the book is not a mere travelogue. In Manila, he uses the life story of Imelda Marcos as a springboard for contemplation of the way we each build the mythic stories of our lives. In Buenos Aires he considers geography, faith, death, music, art, unemployment, sex, the pack behavior of dogs, politics, football, gentrification, nightlife, and worker ownership. In every place he rides, he finds the unique and the common and connects the local with the global.

Bicycle Diaries is an intensely human and humane book, a book that echoes in print the sense of "My God, how did I get here?" that David expressed years ago in the Talking Heads. To an interesting person like David, all places are interesting and he consistently reminds us just how interesting humans are. We are the ones building the human world -- we don't just travel the world, we make it. David's work takes him out in the world, a world he shapes with songs and images. As he's ridden more, in more places, he's become more of a cycle activist, using his talents to shape the world to be friendlier to humans and bicycles. He's designed and installed bike racks in New York City, he thinks about helmet design and he works with transportation planners. And most importantly, he's written a wonderful book, a book that reveals the simple delight of riding a bike through an amazing world.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Best Jersey Ever!

Even though I usually favor wool jerseys, when I saw a picture of Dave Nice sporting a totally rocking jersey from Over The Edge Sports in Hurricane Utah, I knew I had to have one. I mean, I am the Mountain Turtle, after all!

Huge thanks to Dave for hooking me up with the jersey, socks and stickers. Dave, you totally rock. And stick to drip from now on! I owe you big time and one of these days we'll manage to be on the same trail at the same time.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

$1.18 Dahon Carrying Case

The Internet had told me that the big blue shopping bags sold at IKEA would work as a Dahon carrying case, so last night after work instead of heading straight home I piloted my fun little red bike south to the Renton IKEA. On this Saturday night the store is packed with people, many of whom look like college students getting entire dorm rooms worth of furnishings. My mission should be a quick in & out to get a couple of the fifty-nine cent bags but even though the bags are right by the entrance, I have to weave my way through the giant money-shaking rat maze of a warehouse store. It's easy to resist things too big to lug on my bike, but gadgets that pack flat and have terse umlaut-laden names beckon at every turn. I mostly stick to my original, frugal plan of attack, waylaid only by the füd at the in-store restaurant. I'm a sucker for those $4.99 meatballs and 99-cent choklad nöt bars.

Eventually, I break free from the this florescent shrine to global capitalism, buy my bags and head back out into the night. It's a lovely night and by shifting a block or so off the main roads, the roads clogged with all the folks seeking the fastest way home, I meander in the moonlit night. My headlamp picks out a raccoon couple who I'm sure know far more than I ever will about what can only be seen clearly in the dark.

These pictures attest to the success of my trip. Two fifty-nine cent IKEA bags make an excellent case for a Dahon Curve D3. The second bag upside-down forms the cover to keep the bike safe from prying eyes. It's not a bike, it's just a bag of stuff. Nothing to see here, move along. Perfect for the Jedi Mind Trick of getting my bike into all kinds of places.

Keep 'em rolling,


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Trail Work Is So Rewarding

We all know it's fun to ride on mountain bike trails, but those trails don't just happen. I belong to a great club, made up of great folks, who, among other things, make trails. This afternoon I was part of an Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance work party doing trail construction up at Duthie Hill. When Bob lifted up a log, he found this little guy staring up at him. After I took these pictures, Bob relocated the little fella to a damper, safer place off the trail and we got back to work.

It sure is fun to zip down the trails, but in the slow work of building something you get to come face to face with this wonderful world.

Keep 'em rolling,