Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Eddy Merckx bike on display in Los Altos bike shop

February 29, 2016

A bike owned and ridden by Eddy Merckx is on display at the Bicycle Outfitter.

A bike owned and ridden by Eddy Merckx is on display at the Bicycle Outfitter.

Imagine my surprise when I was shown a genuine Eddy Merckx bike on display in Bicycle Outfitter.

It was given to owner Bud Hoffacker in exchange for some print/catalog work requested by Eddy back in 1970.

I don’t know if it was raced on. About half of the equipment is vintage and the frame is Swiss, by Allegro.

Eddy won the Tour de France in 1970.

Tantau Avenue bike trauma continues…

February 21, 2016

Heed this warning. They're not kidding.

Heed this warning. They’re not kidding.

Today I noticed some signs on Tantau Avenue alerting cyclists to the inherent danger of riding here when the road is wet.

Gary Richards, Roadshow columnist, adds two victims to the growing list (6) in his Monday column, Feb. 22.

While a different street sweeper that will fix the problem is supposed to be in use, I saw lots of dust. I’m not convinced.

Avoid Tantau Avenue between Homestead Road and Stevens Creek Boulevard at all times during construction hours, and don’t even think about taking it when the road is wet, at any hour.

It’s going to take a long time before all the dust is washed out of the pavement.

Another cycling accident on Tantau

February 15, 2016

Two more cyclists crashed on Tantau from mud slurry. Avoid this road until Apple HQ is finished.

Two more cyclists crashed on Tantau from mud slurry. Avoid this road until Apple HQ is finished.

As I predicted would happen, more cyclists have crashed on Tantau between Homestead and Pruneridge. You can read about in the Mercury News Roadshow column.

Two cyclists hit the mud slurry I described, both crashing, one woman breaking her collarbone.

That makes four in the past year.

Shotgun Bend claims another victim

February 14, 2016

Be aware of this nasty rut at Shotgun Bend, Page Mill Road.

Be aware of this nasty rut at Shotgun Bend, Page Mill Road.

As we all know, Shotgun Bend on Page Mill Road can be a tricky right-hand corner when descending. It has a shallow bank, so cyclists tend to take it wide.

Shotgun Bend is the last turn before the really steep descending, 14 percent at least.

It doesn’t help matters that there’s a nasty seam in the pavement in the middle of the double-yellow striping. It’s easily missed.

My friend broke his collarbone here recently. A veteran rider who knows his stuff, there’s no doubt in my mind his wheel caught the seam.

Should the seam be repaired by Santa Clara County? I think so, but it’s one of those road repairs that will probably go unnoticed until a lot more cyclists crash here.

(P.S. Does anyone know why there’s a ghost bike on Page Mill Road, 100 yards down from Skyline Boulevard?)

A nightmare come to life — classic Nishiki stolen

February 11, 2016

Be on the lookout for a stolen Nishiki, vintage 1980. (Sourav Das photos)

Be on the lookout for a stolen Nishiki, vintage 1980. (Sourav Das photos)

Sourav Das had his 1980 Nishiki International, Serial #KJ 05449,stolen a few days ago in north San Jose and while it’s unlikely he will recover his bike, he’s doing all the right things to try to get it back.

Most bike thieves are opportunists, but in Sourav’s case, I’m not so sure. Sourav worked late, rolling up to his house, located on a quiet residential street, around midnight.

He walked it through the side gate and leaned it against the entry door to his garage, then walked back around the front of the house to enter. Unfortunately, he got a phone call and an hour passed before he thought to put his bike in the garage. Gone! (Not the first time I’ve heard this story)

There’s nothing more depressing than looking where you put your bike and seeing it gone. Happened to me, twice.

Here’s what Sourav is doing to try to retrieve his bike. That Nishiki is a unique, quality bike, so there’s a better chance it might be recovered. Nishiki made some nice bikes in Japan, importing through West Coast Cycles (WCC) distributor. The Cohen family, which owned WCC, had its pulse on the bike industry for decades.

Dia-Compe brakes. They rivaled Campy, almost.

Dia-Compe brakes. They rivaled Campy, almost.

1. File a police report. The San Jose police are completely overwhelmed, so go online and fill out the form. At least there’s a record. If your bike is stolen, don’t bother calling the SJPD police. They won’t respond, unless you have the thief in a half-nelson.

Sourav’s bike probably qualifies for grand theft ($950 value), but while that sounds impressive, it doesn’t mean much these days.

2. Alert bike shops. Sourav did that, even providing photos.

3. Check Craigslist. I’ve read of many accounts where thieves list stolen merchandise on Craigslist and get nabbed.

4. Tell your friends. Especially if they have a blog. 🙂 Now there’s four of us who know about it.

5. Return to the scene of the crime. In Sourav’s case, that wouldn’t work, but that’s how I got my Ritchey back. I went back a few hours later. The thief lived in Alviso and was tooling around town. He’s behind bars now (for another offense).

All that’s left now are the nightmares. I can’t say I’ve gotten used to those.

If you see this stolen bike, contact Sourav Das

If you see this stolen bike, contact Sourav Das

Airport frontage road closed for Super Bowl

February 2, 2016

Airport frontage road is closed until Feb. 10.

Airport frontage road is closed until Feb. 10. (Google Maps)

Holy roadblock Batman! Ewert Road is closed starting Wednesday, Feb. 3, through the 10th, no doubt for the Super Bowl. In case you had never heard of that road, it’s what we all know as the frontage road around Mineta San Jose International Airport.

I noticed the sign on my Monday ride, after I checked out the Super Bowl 50 venue via San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail. Needless to say, I was being watched the entire time as two helicopters chopped the air overhead.

Don’t even think about going near the stadium the rest of this week. Only way to get a bike through is if you’re an undercover FBI agent. All routes are blocked. I used Lafayette to reach Alviso.

I remember riding through Palo Alto during Super Bowl XIX back in 1985. It was a nice day, high of 59. The game didn’t start until late in the day, so I had no issues with traffic to speak of. How times have changed.

So you think riding a bike is easy?

January 27, 2016

Here’s an interesting experiment that demonstrates learning how to ride a bike is not trivial.

The author was challenged to ride a bike with reverse steering, built by a machinist. He had to re-learn how to ride. It took him eight months; the author’s young son re-learned in six weeks.

The implications of this experiment extend well beyond the bicycle.

Here's how the machinist changed the steering.

Here’s how the machinist changed the steering.

When to replace a helmet?

December 30, 2015

There are reasons to replace your helmet, but simple age is not one of them. That’s according to an independent helmet testing agency.

Extensive testing of used (but not crashed) bicycle helmets shows that the foam liners retain their performance over many years. MEA Forensic announced at a May ASTM F08.53 technical meeting the results of their testing of 675 bicycle helmets, some as old as 26 years.

“There is no justification for two to ten year replacement recommendations based on impact performance,” said MEA’s Alyssa DeMarco.

Taken from

Slippery paint lines can cause a fall

December 21, 2015

Time for a new helmet after this one served its purpose.

Time for a new helmet after this one served its purpose.

While we all know rain, painted lines and bicycles don’t mix, I found out the hard way on Sunday during a ride.

I’m not the most aware person, as Jobst Brandt once showed me on a ride up Page Mill Road. He said, “Watch out for the black ice.” Two seconds later I was down.

Jobst never let me forget that. So I probably had it coming when I fell on the paint lines on Tantau Avenue in Cupertino next to the fabulous new Apple headquarters under construction.

It was the perfect mix of wetness and bad luck as I moved left to enter a left turn lane at Pruneridge. Both wheels must have been on the bike lane as I looked back.

The bike went out from under me in an instant. Then I got a ride to the same hospital where Jobst once stayed after his fateful accident in 2011.

I won’t say the helmet saved my life, but you won’t see me riding without one. I’ve had too many incidents — broken cranks, slippery roads.

After checking the paint lines, I think they’re old enough to have been put down before better paint-grit combinations came along.

As for the green paint swathes, I think they’re safer when wet because they have grit in them, or they conform better to the pavement. They’re an issue in Australia though.

The slippery white lines were a problem in Portland, Oregon, and had to be re-striped.

Finally, if you’re seriously hurt by a white paint line, there’s always someone willing to represent you in court.

Follow-up: After talking with the eyewitness and carefully reviewing the scene of the accident, here’s what happened. I was riding southbound on Tantau in the bike lane prior to moving left to turn onto Pruneridge. At the location I was observed falling there are patches of green paint designating a bike lane. These have become worn from constant sweeping by a street sweeper assigned to keep dust down where the Apple campus is being built. The combination of light rain, dust and finely polished green paint made this surface an extreme hazard.

I reported the accident to the city of Cupertino via email and letter.

After this incident, I believe the green paint swathes constitute a hazard once they become worn. Not good.

Follow-up 2: I took my wheel and some water to test my theory about the slippery green paint. After testing, I found the issue to most likely be one of a slurry of mud accumulating on a white paint line, not green.

The green paint is a lot like sandpaper in consistency. Although it loses some traction when worn, it didn’t seem any worse than regular pavement.

However, the white lines definitely had less traction when wet, especially with a slurry of mud, which you can see below. A thin layer of mud is deadly for bike wheels. Because this street is in a construction area, there’s a lot of dust being generated. Sweeping helps, but there’s still a layer of fine dust.

I also tested some concrete next to the curb. Surprisingly, even when wet it seemed to have better traction compared to the white paint line. It may be that sweeper does a better job of removing dust from concrete compared to the white paint.

My front wheel went out from under me on a white “paint” section, not green, although I can’t say for sure since I don’t know the precise location.

Wet mud on this white arrow can cause a fall .

Wet mud on this white arrow can cause a fall .

Bikes vs. Cars plays on emotions

December 15, 2015

Bikes vs. Cars is available on Vimeo.

Bikes vs. Cars is available on Vimeo.

During the hour and a half you’ll spend watching Bikes vs. Cars you’ll be given a tour of big cities where transportation has become a daily struggle, and you’ll see how a handful of cyclists like Aline Cavalcante in Sao Paulo are fighting for their cause. It can be watched on Vimeo for $10.

You can’t help but feel sympathy for these mostly disenfranchised cyclists, especially when one of them loses an arm while riding and the offending driver speeds away, arm still in the car, then throws it into a nearby creek. True story.

It’s a well done film by Director Fredrik Gertten, who specializes in documentaries, typically standing up for the little guy who has no voice against big, heartless companies. He’s very good at what he does, knows how to set a mood and develop characters, turn dry facts into an emotional rollercoaster.

All of that works in Bikes vs. Cars, but I was left wishing for something more: the solution to the transportation dilemma. Gertten’s film clearly shows us that staying with the car is the road to ruin, but he doesn’t convince me that the bike is remotely the solution. It comes across as more of a sideshow, which is what the bicycle has always been even when it was the dominant form of mechanized transportation versus horses.

The exception, where Gertten’s camera takes us, is Copenhagen, a European city where four out of five residents own a bike and, I would wager, about that many use them for riding to work and around the city on a daily basis. Instead of delving into its transportation infrastructure, the camera turns on a hapless cab driver who expresses frustration about driving around with so many bikes.

An advocacy documentary like Bikes vs. Cars is supposed to motivate us to take some action. I Bought a Rain Forest (Gertten Executive Producer), a well-done documentary about a Swede’s quest to find out where his grade school’s donations to a rain forest fund wound up, did that for me. I donated money to a rain forest conservancy in Costa Rica.

With Bikes vs. Cars I felt no motivation to do much of anything. I rode my bike to work for 45 years daily, but I still own a car, drive to the store to buy groceries, for long trips, etc.

Something more needs to be done about our transportation system than making way for bikes. It’s coming soon to an Uber franchise near you — autonomous cars. But that’s another documentary and one that maybe Gertten should consider filming. One of the ironies about autonomous cars is that they’ll do more to make cycling safer than any safety law, bike lane or piece of equipment could ever hope to achieve.

All that aside, you should watch the movie. It’s entertaining and you’ll be moved by the people who are highlighted by the director.