Monday, May 22, 2017

World Champion Nicky Hayden: 07/30/1981 - 05/22/2017. Raced Motorcycles For A Living, Killed By A Car While Riding His Bicycle.

American racer Nicky Hayden passed away today from injuries suffered in a bicycle crash last week in Italy.

A statement released by the hospital confirmed the news. Hayden never regained consciousness after the impact of the crash between his bicycle and a car. He had been kept on life support for nearly a week while his family sought solutions to his very dire diagnosis.

Read the rest over at Superbike Planet.

Oddly, the whole story was basically ignored by the Bicycling Media. Yes, Hayden was an alien to bicyclists, being he was a Motorcyclist, first. However, people would be amazed at the huge cross-over between Cyclist/Motorcyclists and Motorcyclist/Bicyclists. They are not mutually exclusive as many people believe. Specialized, for one, sponsors a whole lot of Professional Motorcyclists, and they understand the benefits of bicycling to a racers overall fitness.

I, myself, have seen the benefits of combining bicycling with my motorcycling life, and I have been doing both for years now. And, I am not alone in this philosophy among motorcyclists.

To sum it all up, you'd think the Bicycling Media would get it, too. Nah, they don't. They're part of the whole Bicycle Racer/Snob mentality that pervades the sport. In short, the Bicycling Media sucks!

Godspeed, Nicky.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

From The "This Crap Needs To Stop" File: Former MotoGP World Champion, And Current World Superbike Rider, Nicky Hayden, In Critical Condition After Being Struck By Car In Italy While On A Bicycle Training Ride.

American World Superbike racer and former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden was hospitalized after being hit by a car while training on his bicycle on public roads today in Italy.

A translation of a report appearing in Italian at said Hayden was riding with a group of cyclists at around 2:00 p.m. local time when he was struck by a car and suffered severe head and chest trauma. Photos posted with the article show a car with significant impact damage to its windshield and roof.

Read the rest here at Roadracing World.

Footnote: Imagine that; You race your whole career on motorcycles, upwards of 200 MPH, and it is an inattentive driver that finally takes you out - While on your friggin' bicycle!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Riding Wisdom: Why It Always Pays To Pay Attention.

Take a good look at this photo, and in particular, the road sign before the railroad tracks.

It reminded me of an incident a few years ago, whist riding with a club of hotheads.  The “Racers” were out front (as usual) dropping everyone in sight (though all of that clubs’ rides were billed as “No Drop”), and it was then that I arrived on the scene of a most curious event related to the photo.

Picking themselves up, assessing their bikes, and bodily damage, were three of the riders who were out front, all trying to out-hammer each other.  Not only did they miss the clearly posted warning sign, but they also missed the fact the railroad tracks were at an extremely dangerous angle to the road.  The tracks (now an overpass) crossed the road at about a ten-degree angle, thus the railroad was wise enough to post a sign clearly stating, “All cyclists dismount and use sidewalk.”

Of course, warnings are only useful if people actually pay attention to them.

Ride safely, my friends.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Equal, But Separate – Why Road Diets Suck. Part II

A question for Road Diet Fetishists; Since when was taking away traffic lanes a useful endeavor?  Consider the reverse to see how foolish the will of the “Equal, But Separate” crowd would be if more and more bikes lanes, and sidewalks, were taken away to expand the number of motor vehicle lanes on a given roadway.  The Fit would hit the proverbial Shan!

Sometime ago there was an article over at Argonaut Online regarding commuting by bicycle.  The premise of the article was basically “Are the roads ready” for the commuters expected to take on the endeavor.  I see it a different way.  The roads are indeed ready; it is just the condition of the road surfaces which are dubious, and more importantly, the mindset of the people whom are to share said roads whom are “Not Ready.”  If Airline Pilots, and Doctors, were let loose with the minimal training, and complete incompetence, of the average road user (i.e. Motorist, Cyclist, and yes, even the Pedestrian), the cries for someone to “Do Something!” would be deafening.

Consider the following;

Try expanding your minds, and taking Air Traffic, Marine Traffic, and Railroad Traffic, as examples of how training (and workable infrastructure) affects the whole.  In each discipline are vehicles of various sizes, with varying, but legal levels of competency of the users, all utilizing the same, and finite, three-dimensional space.  Yet, all function without daily catastrophes requiring the implementation of Air Route Diets, Waterway Diets, and Rail Diets.  Conversely, for reasons which are not perfectly rational, there are incessant cries for harmful, unfair, elitist vehicular Road Diets.  First, and central to their motives (as previously mentioned in Part I), the advocates of road diets are only looking out for themselves.  Don’t anyone ever forget that. 

The logical course of action for the anti-motorist faction (oddly, masquerading as share-the-road groups) would not be to remove vehicular capacity, and infrastructure, but to work with all relevant agencies to see that those vehicle operators, and infrastructure, are the absolute best in the world.  Right now, the opposite is true.  Vehicles are looked upon as enemies by the faux “share-the-road” peeps (‘cause without a scapegoat they have no evil boogeyman), vehicle operators are Satan, and since the road infrastructure is so bad, let’s just do away with the whole thing and make lots, and lots of bike lanes.  Thus, the stage is set, and the players are ready for the curtain to go up - Bicyclists blame the motorists, motorists blame the bicyclists, pedestrians blame everybody, and Officials sit on their bureaucratic backsides, ignoring the dangers, and lack of a logically constructed infrastructure, all the while collecting paychecks and pensions - On the taxpayers’ dime, of course!

Let’s look again at the aforementioned examples of Aviation and Boating.  While motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and bureaucrats can’t seem to agree on any level of on-road civility, a Cessna 152 can co-exist with a Boeing 747 on both air and ground, and an aircraft carrier can co-exist on the waterways with a sailboat.  The thing aviation and boating have going for them are operational training, workable infrastructure, and self-preserving professionalism on a level not shared by users of our highways.  In short, it is the human being which requires improvement, and training, to raise the level of skill, and safety, upon the roads.

Another claim of the Share-The-Road advocates is “We need to be more like Europe.”  Uh, no, we don’t.  Comparing American culture, and roads, to Europe is like comparing Apples to Dump Trucks.  And, remember, in Europe, the concept of sharing the road really does not exist.  Case in point: All of the so-called “Cycling Utopia’s” over there are a true, zero-sum game.  Bicycles won because motor vehicles lost, and Pedestrians won because everyone else lost.  Toss in cities, towns, and a road structure which in many cases are only able to simultaneously fit a Fiat, a Baguette, and an iPhone side-by-side, and one sees the reasoning of the current state of European transportation methodology.  Here in the Good’Ol US of A, we budgeted quite a bit more room for everyone to move around, so road sharing makes complete sense over here.  That is why road-diets, protected lanes, etc. are seen as an attack on motorists (they are), and any resistance from said motorists are seen as an attack on cyclists (they’re not).  Basically, every locality is unique, while people, and cultures, are not all the same, and the insatiable urge by many to exclaim “We must be more like…” needs to stop.  In my part of the world, Southern California, it is indeed auto-centric.  That is fact, and it should be, so deal with it.  We are not Amsterdam, we are not Portland, and we are not New York City, so if you want that, do us all a favor, and move there.

Cycling Advocates hate cars.  We get that.  However, who made you activists king over all of our lives and how we choose to live it, whether in a car, on a bike, skateboard, or walking?  And, keep in mind, for every argument made for the elimination of motor vehicles, roads, and lanes, a counter-argument exists for why they should not only remain, but must be expanded to sensible capacity.  Additionally, do not think for one second that unregulated, wholesale illegal immigration (along with interstate migration) has not had an impact on the amount of traffic on the roads – It most certainly has!  Last we checked it was physically impossible to squeeze 10-gallons of water into a five-gallon container without spilling a whole bunch.  The overflowing container is completely analogous to our overflowing traffic, yet the Great Benevolent Bicycle Advocate thinks it is just peachy, safe, and above-all, morally justified, to make that container even smaller, still!   

And, herein lays another problem: Not all cyclists are activists.  Now that the word “Activist” has actually become synonymous with Bully (yes, it has), it needs to be stressed to the general public that not all cyclists hate motorists.  There was a time all Motorcyclists were thought to be Outlaw Bikers, and so too, now all cyclists are seen as Activists.  This is why we now receive a lot of the outright nastiness from the public.  And from personal experience I can tell you this is not a lie.  I went through the time of persecution of “There’s one of those bikers” when I commuted on a motorcycle, and now I am getting it again, only now I am now one of those stop sign-running, anti-car “Cycling Advocates.”  Only this time, instead of being accused tearing up the town and violating women, I am now accused of taking away road capacity in the name of the Church of Environmentalism.   

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Great Moments In Training.

We all have some form of favorite training regimen. One of mine was a former training hill in my old neighborhood.  It was close to home, convenient, and it was a fun challenge, to boot.

The sucker was about 710-feet of agony at 18% the whole way. This was a training aid which could not be done sitting down. Oh no, this was standing all-the-way, stomp the pedals, or you're going to fall over kind of affair.

There were many days I just did not feel like doing that hill, however, since moving to the extremely flat Coast, I kinda' miss that slab of incline.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Equal, But Separate – Why Road Diets Suck. Part I

A solid component of man’s quest for knowledge used to be the pursuit of Truth (and Fact).  The major barrier to this endeavor, sadly, is people don’t care much for either of them.  However, to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in the movie Jurassic Park - Truth breaks free; it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but Truth… finds a way. 

And, when I refer to the Truth, I am referring to societal customs of universally held beliefs, aka, Dogma.  In short, is something really true, or do we all just hope it is, and plow on with our lives, regardless?  One relevant example of these societal myths is the phrase “Sharing the Road.”  In truth, it is a complete fantasy.  It is something we like to think is benevolently so, but Zeitgeist tells us otherwise.

Humans do not really interact all that well, together.  In any collection of people, someone always thinks they are better, faster, smarter, a leader, or worst yet, “Deserving.”  The realties of human interaction are actually quite a bit darker than we care to admit when humanity is viewed along its historical record.  We have to be taught to be nice.  It is not innate.  Fish can swim in a school, and birds can fly in massive flocks, all the while not colliding into each other with disastrous results.  They work together and behave beyond the individual.  Humans cannot even walk together without bumping into one-another, and forget about driving (or riding) in large groups – Disaster!

Where am I going with this?  I really don’t like to get into the politics of everyday life on this blog, however, when decisions are being made for me (and others), it is time to take note and speak up.  What I am directly referring to is the term “Bicycle Advocate” (whatever that means?).  There is more than enough evidence to argue that those who propose to speak for me, and all cyclists, are really not looking out for everyone’s best interests but are only looking out for their own, narrowly-focused interests. 

Here is a perfect example of the phenomenon, and with all due respects to comedian Henny Youngman, take the subject of Road Diets.  Please!

The Road Diet - It is an innocuous, pretty sounding, name for militantly screwing over your fellow human beings for the sheer reason they do not ride a bicycle, nor happen to commute via one.  In concise terms, if someone else does not do what you do, attack and demonize them – Wash, rinse, repeat.  This has been a popular tactic of activists since Adam taught his kids how to walk.   It is blatant discrimination at its best, and terrorism via Public Policy at worst.  Someone does not do as you do, so you seek to limit, and in some cases, outright ban their legal, chosen mode of conveyance.  Don’t scoff.  It is happening all over the World, right now.

See, while some people live by the bicycle, not all of us do.  The bike is a component of our lives, however, it is not the entire reason for our existence.  Sorry!  This explanation will get you into a fight with a “Cycling Advocate” faster than you can say, “Road Diets Suck!"  That is why I have no faith in, nor have time for, any so-called Bicycle “Advocate “ or “Coalition.”  For a group of citizens claiming to be “Community Based,” these folks certainly are pretty dang discriminatory, and mean, to boot.  These peeps are actually motor vehicle loathing anarchists.

Another weapon used to support the cause of the Anti-Vehicular Jihadist is the self-imposed, miraculous, sacrosanct Truth by Personal Observation (TPO).  This is a case where facts are completely irrelevant, and “What I saw” is deemed as true because it is, well, “How I see things!”  Meanwhile, the wicked step-child of this advocate sophistry is, “It’s what I feel!”  This process of madness is utilized to justify less capacity for motor vehicles.  And, we have all heard (and read) it, too.  “I sat at a corner, and I saw only two cars, but I saw twenty bikes.  We need more personal space for bicycles, since there are hardly any cars, anyway.”   Oh really?  Where were you standing, what time of day was it, what day of the week was it, what road was it, and how many trucks, buses, motorcycles and pedestrians did you see???   

Consider this quote lifted from a Southern California blog:

“Car-centric planning has been an abysmal failure for Los Angeles on every level (safety, property values, travel times, you name it.) It’s time motorists start sharing, instead of acting like entitled children anytime the issue of complete streets comes up. We pay taxes for the streets just the same as you.” 

And, truth be told, that author was absolutely correct – About the infrastructure.  Transportation infrastructure has been an abysmal failure, because it was IMCOMPENTELY PLANNED, POORLY CONSTRUCTED, AND IS INCOMPENTENTLY MANAGED!  With the logic of Comrade Blog Writer, should the Wright Brothers have stayed on the ground after the first failure of their new invention?  Since the first wheel did not roll, should the idea have just dropped, right there?  Bunk!  Good ideas evolve, thrive, and live on, while bad ideas rightfully die, unless it is a Public Policy ploy, whereby untold amounts of tax dollars are funneled into it to keep the bad idea alive (and bureaucrats employed) – Our transportation infrastructure in a nutshell. 

This leads me to another affliction of the so-called “Activist.” When it is in THEIR best interest, a concept must be tried, and tried, and tried until it “Succeeds,” even if it is a horrible, unworkable, and expensive idea (by the way, it’s never their own  money being spent).  However, when it comes to the needs of Motorists, it is “Oh well.  We tried the road building thing once, now it is time to move on.”  The latter is the “Abysmal Failure” aforementioned Comrade Blog Writer was referring to.  Thus, upon further investigation, it is interesting that the loudest advocates for “Share the Road,” in reality, do not really want to.  Theses people want to OWN the road.  It is classic Bourgeois-Proletariat philosophy: “We are all equal users of the road.  However, some of us are more equal than others.”

Bottom line, I am not in favor of anything which takes away capacity, PERIOD!  People seem to think Road Diets are harmless, but they are truly a Zero Sum Gain, i.e., someone must lose, so someone else can gain.  And, the device to advance that zero-sum gain is to first demonize a segment of the population, i.e. Motorists, to gain sympathetic support for the cycling advocates ideas.  And, like the proverbial moth to a flame, the useless idiots (their army of zombies) follow in lock-step. 

For those who claim more vehicle lanes will bring increased traffic, well, wake up – The traffic of tomorrow is already here, TODAY!  We need more, and better, infrastructure, not less of it.  The ire of the “Activist” in the State of California (and everywhere), for instance, is the Motorist, but their sights should be purely upon that bastion of Expensive Bureaucratic Incompetence, the California Department of Transportation, aka, Caltrans.  And, in regards to Caltrans, to paraphrase the great Sir Winston Churchill: Never before has an agency done so little, for so many, for such an exorbitant cost.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Is The Traditional Riding Club Obsolete?

The Traditional Riding Club.  Usually a place of friendship, support, and good times. However, recently, it seems the Traditional Riding Club (TRC) has morphed into something far less appealing.  Wrought with petty-politics, harsh commitments, ever-rising dues, constant hammering on rides, dropped souls, and dwindling memberships, things appear to not be as rosy as they once were.  Has the TRC possibly met its end?  Maybe so, however, there is always hope for Humanity when it chooses to mingle in packs.

Overall, I have met more people in my travels who share a general negative reaction to TRC’s, and I admit some of their bitter thoughts have merit while some do not. The overall telling tale is that most negative concerns are actually founded in truth.  From Leadership that cares nothing about the Membership’s well-being, to high dues, ridiculous “Rules,” boring rides, and internal politics, a lot of riders just don’t seem too keen on the structured regimen of a club, anymore.  

While riding with friends, and loose associations of like-minded riders, morphed into Clubs, it appears to be heading back in the other direction, as riding with friends, and loose associations of like-minded riders, are shunning TRC’s.  And, this is not just my opinion, as I have asked, and heard from, a great number of riders on the subject – Especially new riders.

Case in point;

I previously wrote about my experiences in TRC’s (Cycling Dynamics, 10-09-2012). I mentioned how they rise, how they can thrive, and unfortunately, how some will eventually fail – Unless they put the membership first.  Well, I was unfortunately correct in one particular club’s case, because it is basically dead now.  Killed by its own internal arrogance, it is a name which now elicits a negative reaction from cyclists in that part of the world.  And, the fall was as predictable as it was inevitable. 

First, that club’s internal clique chased away all of the kind, helpful, empathetic, people-minded folks.  They were also rude to new riders, dropping them, without a care for their well-being, or whereabouts, on rides. Gee, how inclusive! Then, after all of those aforementioned people were gone, they finally turned on each other.  And, as always happens in arrogant, authoritarian organizations, after the wreck of this once reputable club was a pile of smoldering ruins, the guilty offenders drifted off into oblivion, leaving the once great organization on life support. It was all too sad to watch what had once been one of the gold-standards of the cycling community completely destroyed. Sadder still, the biggest of the assholes went on to wreak havoc on other unsuspecting clubs.

Another negative aspect of the TRC is the dreaded “Liability” thing (don’t get me started on Tort Reform!).  The whole “Dues” thing gains traction from club talking heads as they claim lawyers cost money (go figure), so in order for the club to not be sued for anyone being injured on a ride (Club’s fault, or not), money must be forked over.  Lots of it.  Throw in the still additional cost of a website (most suck), plus riding kit (again, most suck) and the dues can soon become a drain on peoples resources and patience.  The Red Tape was not why we got into cycling to begin with, and that is why Meetup, and informal non-club-clubs, are now thriving. Hey, people really do still enjoy unencumbered free-association with like-minded happy cyclists.

One, nice alternative to the TRC: The “Non-Club Club.”

I personally have ridden with some of those (I call them) non-club-clubs, and the experience was quite liberating.  They had basic safety rules, such as mandatory helmet use, hydration, and spare tubes, published routes for all skill levels, a set meet point, multiple, reasonable start times (not everyone wants to ride at 0700!), and if you showed up great, and, if not, that was great, too.  It was a ride at your own risk affair, and you were responsible for you own safety.  It was the most mature approach to organized riding I had encountered to date, with exercise, and fun, being the name of the game.  No pressure, no dropping, do dues, no politics, and no bullshit.  The way organized riding ought to be – The way God intended it! 

So, while informal riding groups are gaining in popularity, from casual friends, to word of mouth, to Meetup, the TRC is far from dead, and rightfully so.  I am not anti-club in anyway, as I have ridden with some fine organizations, though, unfortunately, fine riding clubs are in the minority. 

The difference being those, fine TRC’s actually put their membership first, and the club officers were in the role of Servants, not Masters over the Serfs. Those TRC’s will always thrive, and live on, while the previously mentioned authoritarian-type club will always die - And, rightfully so.