Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Hootenany

Christmas is here! The children at Rigid are full of sugarplums and the Christmas tree is fantastically bedazzled, looking like an alien spacecraft ready to blast off from our 1950s era fallout shelter. I have been getting in a few rides here and there, but with low temperatures and lots of rain most trails have been too wet to ride.

How about a little update on the PTAG annual volunteer appreciation day that took place on December 10th? I would like to be able to say that over that weekend hundreds of folks got together to laud the accomplishments and celebrate the long list of trails that have been improved or maintained by PTAG over the course of the past year. There definitely was a quick mention of that. But mostly we just did what I end up doing every other weekend. Which is a lot of this:

Although there was some fun freeze-thaw mountain bike feats of skill like this:

Well that basically wraps it up on this end for 2011. Rigid Bicycles will be taking some time off from regular posting and will return with updates on January 6th.

Have a great holiday everyone. In the meantime enjoy some video of Johnny T in the 1990 Cross Country World Championships from Durango.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Weak-kneed Weekend

Another week has slipped through the cracks.

Sometimes time slows down and a week can go by in a crawl, as if it were a slow slog up a long gravely fire road.

Other weeks go by a lot faster. This one feels like it's just getting started and it's already Friday. Have a great weekend.

Tomorrow, Saturday December 10th, the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group will host their annual Volunteer Appreciation Day event, with mountain bicycle rides, hikes, and trail runs in beautiful North Park. Get in if you can fit in.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Clever Title Referencing Someone Getting 'Punk'd'

As announced last week, the folks at Dirt Rag magazine hosted the annual Punk Bike Enduro for the twenty-second time; and here at Rigid, after a weekend of unseasonably warm temperatures, we're still trying to pick up the pieces. Saturday was a longish jaunt on the cross bikes which I thought might have prepared me for the lots of standing around and the 12 bicycle stages of the Punk. It didn't.

Sunday morning rolled around, lots of people gathered at the spot,and world class athletes from around the nation checked tire pressures and put on their ultra fast racing suits.

First off was the foot-down rodeo, which, because of the large attendance took a long time and finally ended when The Beer Monkey started grabbing onto (other riders') handlebars.

Then came a lot of other stuff that involved bikes and mud.

Thanks to the entire staff at Dirt Rag magazine. Now it's time to go back to work.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Kicking off December: Off Season But Not Off the Mark

Here is a last ditch reminder about this weekend's Dirt Rag Punk Bike Enduro. I was wrong about the posters: they do exist and will be awarded to the riders with the highest blood alcohol content most Punk points at the end of the day.

If you happen to be anywhere near the western Pennyslvania part of the globe this weekend, then jump on it. This event reminds us that off road cyclists like to do weird things in the off season like drink beer and ride their bicycles in inclement weather. Roadies, on the other hand, are up for far more creative ways of spinning the two wheels. Johnny Hoogerland gives us an example. You will remember Hoogerland was made famous this year for getting knocked around and severely lacerated after he was hit by a car in the Tour de France, which, if you are unclear, is in fact, a bicycle race

(In the future we will be able to put videos in parentheses)

Well now the Dutch Hoogerland, aka the "Bull of Beveland," is getting even more famous for his off season antics because he recently competed in a horse racing harness race, as a cyclist.
Guess what? He won.

Harness racing with infield bicycle competitions is the next cyclocross.

Have a great weekend and welcome to December.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Be Thankful: Good Policy to Live By

Give thanks for crazy bike events because here in Pittsburgh we have two of them coming up.

First up is the Dirty Dozen. This is a road race on the Saturday after Thanksgiving connecting 13 steep and unforgiving climbs in and around Pittsburgh. There are no posters or advertisements, the roads are all surging with hostile drivers, the weather is miserable, but it is well attended and all the information can be found on Danny Chew's website.

The Punk Bike Enduro is put on by the fine folks at Dirt Rag magazine, and is a long standing and very well run drinking contest off road bicycle race. Probably the most fun you might have on a bicycle during the month of December. Again, no one makes posters for underground races, so check out the folks at Pittsburgh Alleycats for the details.

If you live in the US then have a happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Rigid! If you live outside the U.S. then carry on knowing that we'll all be over eating, watching TV, and misunderstanding American history. Cheers!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pass the Bugles and Peanut Butter: It's Time to Get Lifted

This video has nothing at all to do with bicycles, but signals, for me, the moment when humans prove that there is nothing left to explore on Earth. Time lapse photography from the International Space Station has been compiled and enhanced into visually stunning internet-consumable chunks. I can't stop watching this.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Music for your Monday

Well, after all the preaching last week, here's one to blow out the pipes. Haha, you knew it was coming; bikes are everywhere. Sorry for the advertising if you're seeing that (this is why I rarely use youtube).

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Day for Veterans

Well today is the US national holiday reserved for honoring those men and women who have served in our armed forces. Although I have little respect for the policies and decision making that have led America into so many (unsuccessful) foreign conflicts, I do have tremendous respect for those individuals who end up on the front lines. I admire soldiers. I admire especially those soldiers who have been misled, those who have been cajoled into service by the promise of education or financial stability; I know their families have a huge challenge in recreating some type of normal home life. Most importantly, I am humbled by the amount of lives that have been lost from all these wars. Political and religious leaders are not the ones whose sons and daughters are doing all the dying.

Speaking of unnecessary loss of life, the state of Pennsylvania this week joined about 35 other states in passing legislation that bans texting while driving, only hours before a local teenage driver was killed while sending a text. Every single day that I ride my bicycle on the street I see people using their "smart phone" computers while driving. Some of them are at stop signs or red lights, but many are actively driving while using their devices. In fact, I would say that hostile drivers can pretty much be categorized into two groups: a small number of people who are deliberately rude and angry about cyclists on the roads; and a much larger percentage who drive too close, turn without signaling, and pass in dangerous situations all because they are distracted. This second group is largely unaware that they are endangering me while I ride. They don't even realize how close they just came to killing me at that last intersection.

To that first group of obstinate angry drivers, I don't have much to say; I've grown immune to insults, shouts, and middle fingers. But to that much larger second group, I believe we need some public safety messages that accompany the texting bans.

How about this?

It's OK
if you need to send a text.
Just pull over first.

Seriously man, just find a driveway, or a parking lot, or an alley, or a safe road shoulder and pull over for a few minutes.  That extra five minutes could save a life.

Sorry for all the shouting everyone, I promise to head back to stories of falling down in the mud as soon as possible. Catch you next week.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

War! What is it good for?

Like many folks out there, I imagine that the sense of purpose, the thrill of a steep hill, and the bristle of wind noise, like a stiff brush, scrubbing ever louder as your speed increases can all help to create a perfect moment, even a thoughtless few minutes, while cycling to work on these blustery Fall days. I love this feeling. Not just on Fall days, but at all times of the year, these serene moments of quite, glimpses of water shimmering, or smiles from passing pedestrians keep me motivated to jump on my bicycle everyday. And then there are other days however, when you feel like you're under attack: literally dodging salvos of speeding vehicles and deflecting insults from harried drivers. It's as if there is a war going on, and it's cyclists defending themselves from every other possible form of transportation; slow moving city busses, buzzing motorcyclists, and irate car commuters all have a taste for blood (even the rollerbladers have taken sides, I imagine; they have sharpened blades, easily retrieved from their fanny packs, like a prison shiv, ready for a quick kidney puncture on the bike path like two inmates passing in a crowded hallway). The only thing left is for the rear windows of right-hooking minivans to be painted with outstretched arms and a flashing neon font that says "Come at me, Bro".

So who started this war? How can we negotiate a lasting peace, you might be asking yourself?

Let's start by considering that all transportation is multimodal. After even the most resolute driver parks his car downtown, he has to walk into the office building, right? Those committed buss riders? they have to walk to get to and from the bus stops. People drive to get to the light rail stations, people bicycle to get to the rideshare lots, people carpool to get to the football games, people skateboard to get to the subway, people take a bus to get to the airport, and on and on and on. We use many forms of transportation; let's get over that. Now, let's build a transportation network that incorporates equally many different types of transportation and lets encourage people to use those forms that use less energy and create less pollution. Let's create an integrated transportation system. Why is this so hard?

Here is a concept video that shows how something like this might work. Take a look and try to ignore the smugness and the funny sounding voices.

mo - mobility for tomorrow from LUNAR Europe on Vimeo.

My biggest criticism of this is how heavily it relies on the so-called "smart phone" computers. Afterall, a large part of the bus riding demographic are the poor people who can't afford a car and I am here to testify that not everyone has a smart phone, or even a cell phone (or even a government ID for that matter--since it is election day). But otherwise I am really excited about this type of thinking. Also, I do recognize that the video is very Your-o-pee-'in. I know the chances of an actual US soccer mom tossing her kids, and a bag of groceries, into a pedal powered wheel barrow are nonexistent. But maybe if we somehow got some of the Budweiser clydesdales', or the Coca-Cola polar bears' kind of marketing money into changing commuters' behavior, don't you think people might respond?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's a 2009 Throwback

Finding time to squeeze in bicycle rides is difficult with the annoying daily requirements from jobs and families and school and other things like indentured servitude. Everyone is busy. I completely understand that. So, since I couldn't fit onto the social agenda of Z-the-12-pound kid, (and I didn't really call anyone else) I headed out for a quick solo off-road mission this week. It was rainy, muddy, lots of wet leaves covered the trails, and I was riding an 80s touring bike with racks, fenders, and 32mm commuter tires. Perfect. Bad conditions beckon fewer outdoorsy folks out of doors so I encountered very few people; I stopped for water without holding anyone up, and to keep things interesting, I rode trails in in the opposite direction of the norm with little fear of a head-on collision. Keeping things fresh is what it's all about. I had a blast, put in some really fun mid-week miles, and only managed to nearly kill myself once. Like the metal maniac web logger Stevil said about a week ago, I too feel like I am a pretty good bicycle rider and a pretty crappy bicycle racer; however, to that I would like to add that I am a also phenomenal bicycle crasher. One certain thing about going all-out on a bicycle (let me be the first to admit that my "all out" is a lot of dudes' recovery pace) is that you are going to crash. And one good thing about crashing a lot over the years, is that I can now do it pretty dramatically and not really get too hurt. I knew I had no business heading toward that log-over with the speed I was carrying and because of it I am now completely willing to admit that I can bunny hop on my commuter even less well than I can on my mountain bike. If a guy on a bicycle falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear, does it still make a sound? Most certainly. Everyone has seen the video of the guy getting hit by an antelope; well, I was making the same sound. Anyway, no matter how crappy the weather is, it always makes sense to get outside and embarrass yourself.

Speaking of things that are hardly worth speaking of, I cannot not include a little recap of last week's big cycling news: the world famous Bike Snob linked Pittsburgh's own celebrity bicycle racer, Steevo three un-ironic times! For anyone interested, the Snobbish One referenced Steevo's now famous 2009 hipster cyclocross video for the second time; Steevo shot off this tweet:

For anyone who has attended a cyclocross race in the past two years and hasn't seen this video, do yourself a favor and take a mental trip in the Doctor Who telephone booth to a time before 100+ Cat 4 fields.

Just because there hasn't been much content to sink your teeth into this post so far, I think I'll go ahead and include the 2009 video I was inspired to make after seeing Steevo's handiwork.

Local Government Rules!
by: darkwing

Just some office drones interacting in local government.

So whether you are turning yourself inside out in a cross race this weekend, getting rad on a bike that is completely inappropriate for the riding conditions, overclocking in an office cube, or just hanging around in your underpants, please remember to hold your head up because someone, somewhere is ringing a 6ft. cowbell.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bicycle Motocross is Not a Bunch of Rebrobates

OK, the bmx side of cycular riding has been really taking up a lot of time here at Rigid. Here in PA, but on the eastern side of the state, there is a set of bmx dirt jumps that is pretty famous. The Borough, the guys that maintain the trails, and the landowner (an airport), all came together to create a system that makes it legal, and just in case anyone gets hurt and has a lawyer for a dad, they now have insurance . Rad.

Catty Woods Labor Day Jam 2011 from Bryan Close on Vimeo.

There are lots of other things out there that are rad, but since we already started with bmx, then let's keep it rolling. Last year FBM released a full length documentary about their company, about bmx, about riding bikes and generally misbehaving. These guys started a company called Fat Bald Men because all the shop owners and company bigwigs they saw at the time fit that description. Be forewarned, there are bad words, there are images of law breaking. I can imagine that to many mainstream-type people, this video only confirms the prejudices about bmx riders being dirty, reckless, reprobates. But the underlying story is that FBM is an American manufacturing company, making their way in an industry in which nearly every company uses overseas manufacturing. They created a business that has grown every year and are now considered one of the veterans. FBM was one of the first rider-owned companies to prove that great products come from the minds of the people who are out there abusing the products daily. Rad.

I Love My Bicycle: The Story of FBM (Full Movie) from Joe Stakun on Vimeo.

Lastly, for those folks who might be in the Pittsburgh region, local trails advocacy group, PTAG, is hosting volunteer trail building days on both Saturday (North Park) and Sunday (Highland Park), so if you can lift a rake, then you can come out and help out.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Short and Sweet

Well, let's get the weekend started in the proper fashion. First off the bat, the Pittsburgh region is lucky to have a long running mountain bike and cyclocross race series called the Month of Mud. The races are all about an hour long and take place on Sundays. The second race in the series (and only cross race this season) goes down this Sunday, so if you happen to be in the area, check it out.

While most locales, including this one, are deep into cyclocross at this time of year, I have been thinking about bmx. I have been a fan of Ruben Alcantara since the first time I saw him in a video. With lots of speed he bunnyhopped and rode up a handrail. That was about 10 years ago, and I still think it's pretty amazing trick. Here is a video of Ruben that is a few years old, showing that street bmx can be beautiful.

Train Trip from joe rich on Vimeo.

And while we are on the topic of things that are a few years old but still beautiful, take a look at the badass hombre in the photo below because the most important part of today's post is a heartfelt Happy Birthday greeting to my father. Here he is pictured with his 1968 Triumph Tiger. My father has always been a hero to me and he has always been there for me no matter what. I love you Daddio, Happy Birthday! 

Thanks for tuning in again everyone. Have a safe weekend on whatever type of two-wheeled contraption you ride and we'll catch up again next week.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Crosses and Crutches

Things have been a little slow here at Rigid HQ, so the dispatches have been a bit infrequent but like Flavor said, that's the way the ball bounces, G.

The cyclocross season is pretty much here and in full swing, so if you are into that sort of thing, then this is no news to you at all, and if you aren't, then you should know that the sport of cyclocross presents a great opportunity for women to get into bike racing in a relaxed environment; for men to dress in tight clothes; for kids to play in mud; for learning new curses, insults, and heckling methods; and for some spectacular and comical bicycle crashes.

Image from Ciclirati

For those folks in CA or those willing to travel there, the registration for the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships has been up for about a week, so get in while you can still fit in.

Speaking of Champions of the World, I believe I made mention on here of the MTB World Championships that were held recently in Champery Switzerland. If you haven't yet seen the winning run from the downhill event, then have a look, because Danny Hart rode the rain-drenched downhill track slog faster than I could ever imagine riding on a gorgeous day in pristine conditions.

The month of September is when hundreds of products that you never knew you needed are introduced to the world during the crazy go nuts season of cycling trade shows. Eurobike was two weeks ago, Canada's Expocycle was last week, and America's Interbike is happening right now in Vegas. Now I have never been to any of these events, and I hope to never have to go to one, but there are lots of folks who look forward to September with the same glee,and animus, that a state beauty queen who was one fat and unpopular looks forward to attending her high school reunion. If you are already in Vegas god help you, but if you want to check out lots of shiny pictures then take a look at Urban Velo's Interbike Coverage. You are guaranteed to find something that you want to spend money on.

That wraps it up for this week, so stay safe on the streets until we meet up again.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Around the World with the Bicycles and Such

This week is the largest mountain bike race in the world. The UCI World Championships, taking place in Champery, Switzerland. As is the custom now, they have lots of different disciplines all rolled into one week-long orgy of wooded bicylce wonderment: cross country, trials, team relay, four cross, and downhill, so tune in to the Swiss cable channel of your choice and check it out. I already feel a little faster knowing that both of the junior XC competitors representing America, Howard Grotts and AliciaRose Pastore, are from Durango; the same dirt that they train in is still sloughing off clothing and parts from our recent trip out there. The early reports from the event are not great though, USA cycling has just posted that the American team finished 21 out of 22 teams in the team relay. Ouch. Good luck to all involved.

I will be cutting the cord on this dispatch fairly early this week in order to accommodate some weekend traveling, but I do want to share an advertisement for Charge bikes who are taking their version of urban cycling culture all over the Globe. Yard style to the world!

Charge Plug in Jamaica from Georgi Banks-Davies on Vimeo.

Now how about another video designed to make you buy something -- since I have now clearly established how far I will take this particular online forum through the back alleys of advertising pandering and even into the wrong-side-of-the-tracks squalor of obsequious marketing posing as actual content.

Puma Faaslab - Featuring Usain Bolt from One Eyed Robot on Vimeo.

Thanks for checking out the advertising, now back to the regularly scheduled tedium.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Back in the High Life Again

Pagina Bonita shreds.

I had the great fortune of visiting southern Colorado last week and, as promised, would like to share a few of the details. My sweet sister Evil-E and her family were gracious hosts, warmly welcoming my family of twelve into their home. Amazingly she was able to rally enough bikes for all of us for the entire duration of the trip; counting town rides and trips with the kids to the BMX track, I rode bicycles everyday of the trip. There were so many shared smiles, high-fives, good vibes, emptied bottles, and rehashed jokes that it was incredibly difficult to return to the daily grind of making ends meet here in the Steel City. With so many people and children and family all in one house I expected that a screaming match or two would be part of the game; however,as a testament to the amount of merriment dispensed, over the course of the week, the most virulent hostility was just a few under-the-breath comments about how long to boil corn. For the visually oriented of you out there, the Rigid Bicycles art department created the following infographic:

I was at the gracious mercy of Evil-E for my bicycle conveyance during the week, and although i usually ride on a rigid single speed, she set me up with variety of suspended cycles for the week. I had a blast on these bikes and the Scott actually made me rethink my addiction to the rigid ways; that bike goes fast, and it's really fun to ride. My sincerest thanks goes to Chris, John, and Steve for lending me bicycles during the trip.

This Scott Genius 20, full carbon, and full squishy--with simultaneous front and rear lockout though--was a blast to ride.

This O.G. Santa Cruz Bullit was like a 6inch-travel tank, pretty fun too.

I won't bore you with all the details of the trip, and, considering the number of consumed Pacificos , there is no way I could remember it all anyway, but my favorite day ended with a quick out-and-back on the Colorado Trail.

Evil-E and I sneak away from the legions of children at the house and pedal out into the August heat. The trail starts out up Junction Creek road in Durango and sidewinds besides the creek for the first mile; a breeze carries the gurgling sounds of the creek through the branches. The temperatures are cool through the valley even though the trail is dusty, a little sandy, twisting on its way up the valley floor. Hunkering granite boulders lunge between the pines like threatening criminals out of dark alleys.

Evil-E's legs are moving like a sewing machine. The climb is fairly steady, with some rocky, technical parts mixed in, but she never leaves the saddle. She's like a goat; she just throws it in the small chainring and churns up the trail. Behind her, I dabble and weave, mashing a bigger gear because I cant remember how to shift quickly and efficiently. I would be walking these steep sections on my single speed. We cross the creek on a nice wooden bridge with handrails and the trail turns up the opposite side of the valley, snaking its way through high altitude ferns, scrub oak, and pine trees. The switchbacks are dicey, but Evil-E puts her head down and spins right up. I squeeze the wrong paddle on the trigger shifters, all momentum stops, and I keel over with a grunt. Evil-E pins it. Just as the heat of the climb's exposure starts to bake into my back, the clouds rush in and little drops of rain make their way through the trees. If you don't like the weather in Colorado wait ten minutes they say. The rain threatens to turn into a downpour; we debate turning back while craning our necks for a better look at the sky. Evil-E says we should push on, it doesn't look like a storm to her. After more climbing, we take pictures at Gudys Rest, drink water, and eat peanuts. I think we should push out over the flat toward the Hoffheins connection; Evil-E reminds me of the twelve kids at home waiting for dinner like baby birds in the nest.

The descent back down is fast. I'm smiling so much my jaw hurts a little. No more dust. The rain is still sputtering, but the dirt isn't greasy yet; the only slick parts are the waterbars angling across the trail. It has been a long time since I've ridden a full suspension bike and this is way better than I remember. I don't have to choose my line carefully or brace for the little rock drops; instead, I just send it. I could get used to riding this kind of bicycle I think to myself, then I remember that the thing costs about as much as my car.

If you are curious about why I did not take any pictures of people on our trip it's because I have deep psychological religio-animistic representation issues. Anyway, thanks to all the friends and family that helped make the Colorado trip happen, it was a joy to see parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, colleagues, friends, and midgets all getting along and all spreading the love.

Finally for today, if we move away from the mountain type cycles, but still stay in Colorado, we'll probably end up looking at the Coors Classic Reboot. If you haven't had the chance to tune in and check out the coverage, you can check it all out for the next two days at the USA Pro Cyling Challenge tour tracker. This high altitude race is one of the few examples in cycling where Americans are highly competetive, so if you are one of the face painting and U-S-A- shouting types then here is your chance to go buckwild.

Have a great weekend, catch everyone next week. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Music for your Mondays

The crew here at Rigid is still recovering from our trip to southern Colorado. Expect a half-baked recap and a few out of focus photos in the coming days. In the meantime, this video is pretty funny. Future Fambo and Sean Paul had me laughing out loud. Yard style to the world!

MATRIMONEY MOVIE [HD] Music Video from ReggaemerchTV on Vimeo.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Of News and Heroes

I've been getting in the dirt a fair amount lately which has inspired me to reflect on my abilities and motivation  as a rider of the mountainish cylces and my reflections can be summed up succinctly: I am pretty slow. I love exploring new trails, hammering through the woods, slicing down twisty descents, and even occasionally feel some satisfaction from grinding up painful climbs. But there are men and women out there doing all of this same stuff  much, much faster than I am doing it.

I have always had a tremendous admiration for people who, in order to achieve greatness, work incredibly hard, train incessantly, and dedicate their whole life to one specialized component of what makes them human. World class athletes generally provide great examples of this. With the completion of the Tour de France last month, there was a lot of talk about how cyclists are the greatest athletes on the planet. I don't consider myself a sports fan, although I do enjoy doing sports, but trying to say which sport is the most demanding is idiotic, and filled with personal bias, like trying to decide which is the tastiest berry (straw-, blue-, huckle-, ras-, whatevs-) or trying to decide who was the greatest American president (Van Buren, Pierce, Cleveland, etc.).

Every single sport has examples of true professionalism, amazing stories of overcoming adversity, awe-inspiring cases of physicality, even bowling, yes, I'm saying it, even marbles, yeah, that too. Except golf, those guys suck. So whatever sport you're into, there is someone out there doing it on a level that is nearly unreal, so check out that person, and get inspired; unless, you are that nearly-unreal person who is slaying all comers at the top of your game--but let's not joke here, if that is you, then there is no way you're wasting your time reading this gibberish.

Wait a second. I totally take it back. Even golf too.

Manuel de los Santos is one of sport's most inspirational figures. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, he played baseball from a young age and by 2003 was planning to turn professional. But a motorcycle accident changed his life forever when he lost his left leg above the knee.

Manuel de los Santos from Peter Montgomery on Vimeo.

Golf rules.
Anyway, that last paragraph was a long-winded way of introducing one of my heroes, a world class athlete whom too few people have ever heard of. This guy is now 50 years old and at the top of his game, an ace at several disciplines of cycling, David "Tinker" Juarez. I could write a lot about Tinker and his humble demeanor, his incomparable presence in mountain biking, his crackerjack performances in cross country, bmx, and long distance road rides, but let me just sum it up with this: Tinker won the Iron Horse Classic MTB race in Durango, CO in 1989 and also won the Butte 100 one-day hundred mile MTB race (with over 16,000 ft. of elevation) two weeks ago in July 2011. I have never done a hundred mile race but I am told that the Butte 100 is one of the hardest in that particular form of cycling. Counting his days as one of the first professional bmx riders ever, Tinker has been winning bicycle races for over 30 years. Tinker is modest, soft spoken, and one of the greatest cyclists ever; if ever, buy some remote chance, he were to read these words, his passion for the sport has made a positive difference in my life and his ability to compete, and win, races inspires me to this day.

Well after that little love letter, to Mr. Juarez, how about we check in with the cycle goings-on here in Pittsburgh. The fine folks at Bike Pittsburgh have got lots of fun cycleish events planned for next week. The party starts tonight for their annual fundraiser so if you're in the area, then make it happen. Check out the schedule and turn up the heat.

Finally, in an effort to tie in all the ideas that are swarming in my cramped (numb)skull--Tour de France, athleticism, longevity, personal heroes, porn--I thought I might present to you a short glimpse into the world of big money bike company Specialized. The McLaren Venge was a big deal when it came out this year for several reasons, not least of which because it costs like $90,000.

Most people who know me by now understand that I find a particular satisfaction in the longevity of certain bicycle parts made from steel and that I am particularly slow to adapt to new changes in bicycle technology. Tinker keeps on winning after 30 years in the business and I guess I sort of think that there should be some effort devoted, on the part of bicycle manufacturers, toward making products that last a long time. I guess some folks prefer to go with a different approach. "Innovate or die" indeed.

That wraps it up from this corner of the playroom. Next week I will be out in Durango, Colorado trying to get just a tiny little slice of the rad. I hope you all find a way to do the same.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jump Around

There are lots of different ways to crash on a bicycle and, although the riders of the 98th Tour de France demonstrated many of them (including getting run over by a car just like any other Schmo on his way to work), the riders in the explosively popular "freeride" style of cycle riding are doing their best to invent some more. The Kokanee Crankworx wrapped up last week in Canada and now the kids are re-creating the whole thing all over again in Winter Park, Colorado. Check it out. For the CO folks out there, this event is taking place this weekend, it's free to watch, it's pretty much the biggest freeride type event in the US, and it gives you a chance to head into Fraser and enjoy the family friendly atmosphere at the Crooked Creek Saloon. Here's a video from the first slopestyle practice day. The kids are doing stuff in practice that I can't even imagine attempting in the heat of a finals-round competition, under the threat of death.

I am fascinated to hear the perspective of the course designer because it makes a great contrast to the amount of thought that goes into building jumps for the Rigid Bikes team. By building jumps I really mean leaning half sheets of plywood onto stacks of concrete blocks in the alley. I will admit though that the main reason I included this video is the opportunity to hear this guy say the words "hooter-booter".

Some people might remember my excitement about the upcoming Coors Classic reboot, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Well I am even more excited now that, according to this article in Velonews, the race will feature the Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans. Both female cycling enthusiasts and men who shave their legs will no doubt be following the upcoming announcements concerning which racers will be coming to the US for the Pro Cycling Challenge and which ones will be competing in the the Vuelta de Espana which takes place at same time. If you stay tuned, I promise to do a lackluster and poorly informed job of keeping you updated.

Have a good weekend everyone; here's a video of what it takes to win one of these contests. I'll be using this material for inspiration when jumping off curbs this weekend.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Music for your Mondays (tues ver.)

Wow. Lots of cycling stuff going on these days. Cadel Evans won the Tour de France. Crankworx went down in Canada. Something like 2,000 dirt jump contests happened.

Here is a video from TV On The Radio. Check out Tunde Adebimpe rocking a bmx bike in his best Purple Rain impression. This band has been through some challenges this year and still maintains a fantastic sense of humor. I respect that.

TV On The Radio - You from B CLAY on Vimeo.

Friday, July 15, 2011

1984 all over again

The first thing to deal with on this wonderful Friday morning is this weekend's Pittsburgh Mountain Bike Fest. If you happen to be anywhere near Western PA, then by all means, find a ride that fits your schedule and make it happen.

Further afield, there is a race taking place in France this month, and I guess it's basically impossible to avoid making mention of it here. As I have mentioned before, its hard to relate to the athletic demands and the spectacle that is the Tour de France. I would have a very difficult time just riding my bicycle for 150 miles; I simply cannot imagine the strength necessary to race that distance, everyday, more or less, for three weeks straight. If you can strip away the politics, the drugs, the drama of team personality clashes, the dominion of sponsor hegemony, and the Euro haircuts,  the major tour races really are absolutely amazing on a very basic level. Anyway, concerning the 2011 version of the tour, if you are a fan of the crash reels included in most full length action sport videos, or youtube clips that include the word "fail" in the title, then you owe it to yourself to check out some video of the tour this year. There have been so many spectacular crashes that its hard to focus on the achievement of 18 stage wins.  Using just one example, Johnny Hoogerland careened off road after a horrible car-on-bike crash, flipped, knocked over a fence post, and was severely lacerated by barbed wire. Then he got back up, got a different bike and new shorts and rode another 40km to the finish. Unbelievable.

Because I was unable to reconcile my French travel plans with the frantic demands of my work load at Rigid Bicycles this summer I will not be personally attending any of the 2011 Tour de France.  However, I am still motivated to expose my sons to the very best in cycling athleticism, so, this past weekend, I took them to see a BMX race. We had a great time spectating and followed it up with some pretty sweet singletrack mountain biking nearby. For those who have never attended a big BMX race, the racing was thrilling to watch, the event was well attended, there were recreational vehicles scattered everywhere (big street legal movable houses--not little four wheelers, or dirtbikes), there were tents aligned in a mysterious grid that resembled a redneck refugee camp for outcast 1980s metal video extras; there were corndogs, and there were hundreds of children, boys and girls, darting through parked BMX bicycles whose individual values were likely well over that of my automobile. It was a blast.  One word of caution, however: if you were not aware by now, the bright neon color schemes from the 1980s are now furiously back in style again. The NBL BMX Nationals is a nationwide series and if you happen to be within easy driving distance of an upcoming event, I seriously recommend checking it out.

The race inspired me to check out some bmx magazines from my childhood days, to search around on the intertubes a little, and to get just a bit nostalgic for the days of matching pad sets, mouthguards, and the band Ratt.

So for your entertainment, here is a video of the the 1984 version of one of these events. Although this video is seriously exciting to me, I realize I will lose most readers with this one because the video is about thirty minutes long, which is the online equivalent of a five hour double-header at the drive-in.

NBL BMX Grand Nationals 1984 from Union Street on Vimeo.

If you made it through that I congratulate you. There were nearly as many crashes in that film as this week's stage 9. Finally, in a further effort to regain my lost youth, I will be getting into some mountain type bicycle riding this weekend for the PTAG mtb fest; if you live close and want to link up, then you know what to do. If you live far and still want to make contact then keep the mailbombs to yourself.
Ride safe.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wanna do a couple lanes?

In a March posting I mentioned that I would like to see some scholarly economic research put into the cost/benefit of improving bicycling infrastructure. This week Nancy Folbre, writing for a NY Times blog titled Economix, endorsed the economic benefits of cycle infrastructure in a post titled The Bicycle Dividend. She made good points and linked to several great sources, including a 2007 paper that explores the concept more fully. I am not an economist; in fact, I still get confused when I buy something and the cashier counts back up to the amount I paid with, while he places my change in my hand. But I have firm intuition about the economic benefits of cycling. Replacing even a small number of automobile trips with a mode of transport like cycling--one that requires no fuel, very little space on the roads, requires less parking space, and actually promotes healthy levels of exercise--is a net benefit to society even after having controlled for the costs of that infrastructure. Support funding for cycling infrastructure and the world will be a better place.

Right here in Pittsburgh, there are several cycling groups doing good work to encourage folks to get into the saddle. One of those groups is the Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group, who will be kicking off a new skills area in North Park on Sunday. If you have even a passing interest in mountain biking, this will be a great way to check out what the locals are doing in our area's parks.

As for me, I have been getting in some rides on the mountain bike and logging my usual commuting miles. Riding back and forth to the workplace can grow tiresome however, and even I can not maintain Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure grin every time throw a leg over my bicycle on my way to work. Sometimes it takes switching things up a bit to get a quick jolt of motivation. Following this logic, I ususally change something around about twice a year on my daily ride. Often its the stem/handlebar combination that I switch up, but sometimes, I'll put on a different saddle, or pedals, or rack, you get the idea. Anyway, this week I put on a bullmoose bar. Now I can imagine that there might only be one other person out there who is genuinely interested in the component swapping of a 30 year old handlebar onto a 25 year old bicycle, so for the other three people reading, I do apologize. The thing is is that I love this setup for commuting. I've tried several drop bars, anatomic drops, flat bars, riser bars, mustache bars, old man Albatross bars, and maybe even one or two that I am forgetting now, but I can say with certainty that after putting the bullmoose bars on this week, I have smiled a lot more when heading to work in the morning. In the rare event that you happen to be interested in putting some of these bars on your bicycle, I believe you can get a brand new, shiny version of the original straight from Mr. Peterson at Rivendell.   

Please ignore the condition of my living room in these photos (yes, my family and I permanently reside in a 1950s era fallout shelter).

Some time ago, I asked for visual examples of the single track in your area, and then recently Pedro got in touch with an email and some images that had absolutely nothing to do with my request. Anyway, that dude is a real gunslinger with a camera so I'm going to include some of his handiwork here:

Looks like fun. Pics from his correspondence might be used for the advertising efforts of the companies WTB, Bicycle Coffee, and Mikes Bikes, so keep those places in mind, next time you need to buy some new crap.

Well, from narrow dirt threads through nature's playground all the way to wide asphalt cycling paths through the urban jungle, there seems to be plenty of reasons to get fired up about bikes these days. Find one reason and put a smile on your face this weekend. Peace.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Music for your Mondays

For this Monday, let's check in with some of the heavyweights of conscious reggae. Check Jah Cure's part at about 3:00 minutes to see the Ras on a bicycle. Yard style to the world!

Wayne Marshall, Tarrus Riley, Sizzla Kalonji, Jah Cure, and Pressure on the Captain riddim. Posted by reggaemerchtv on Vimeo

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bike Parks Revealed (#3)

Many people are aware that state and local governments are suffering some serious financial troubles right about now. Here in Pittsburgh, cuts in the state education budget forced the school district of Pittsburgh to eliminate 220 jobs in one day this week. That is a lot of folks who thought they had a job yesterday who don't have a job today. In the middle of these cuts to public spending--austerity measures, if you're from Euroland--it surprises me that some local governments are actually managing to provide more services for their residents.

Valmont Bikepark Grand Opening from Jesper Kristensen on Vimeo.

The city of Boulder, Colorado opened the Valmont bike park about two weeks ago. This is probably the coolest public space for cycling in the world, no hyperbole. It's over 40 acres of dedicated trails and adventure features for cyclists in an urban setting. As a public park, this outdoor, open-space is free to use and open to absolutely everyone. This is a fantastic resources for cyclists. Although I fully support spending on public playfields for sports like baseball or football and soccer, I think this is a brilliant way to allocate a portion of the public recreation resources. This is awesome for those young people who are athletically inclined but who never quite find the right fit with organized team sports. I concede that Boulder is not a typical American city. I'm not going to actually research and present any actual numbers here, but I think we can safely assume that compared to other similarly sized MSA's Boulder has lower unemployment, higher percentages of bicycle commuting, higher property values(more tax revenue), higher percentage of college educated residents and greater civic participation. There is a reason for the "Republic of Boulder" bumper stickers. An urban bike park may not be the right fit for every city. But can we maybe use Boulder as an optimistic example of the possibility of creating wonderful, public, open spaces for cycling in other cities? I am hopeful.

Valmont Bike Park from on Vimeo.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Music for Your Mondays

Let's start off with a new feature at Rigid Bicycles, Monday morning music videos. It seems to me as though most of the gentleman writing about bicycles on the intertubes seem to be firmly rooted in the heavy metal, Motörhead/Slayer predilection, so we're gonna take it in a different direction here at Rigid. This first video features some bicycle riding in the background but also an artist who openly advocates skin bleaching (picture Michael Jackson's face) as a fashion style. No joke.

Yard style to the world!

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm Barely Treading Water Here

Well, a good friend of mine, Z The-12lb-Kid, told me that the key to maintaining a blog is keeping up with it consistently, and I seem to have strayed from his advice. It's been a full two weeks since Rigid Bikes has issued any updates, and all we have to show for it are some bags under the eyes, and some bulging bags of recyclables. Anyway, let's get straight into the bicycle relations and talk a little about teaching the little ones how to ride. By this time I suspect most folks have seen this:

Jackson Run Bike to kindergarten. on

Now, clearly this little sharp shooter has spent some serious time on the kick bike; but I want to use this as an example of how much easier it is to teach children to ride using a bicycle with no pedals. Balance and steering are the most necessary and useful skills when learning to ride a bicycle. Finding a method of teaching balance but minimizing the chances of crashing can be difficult. One method is to use training wheels. The thing about training wheels is that they are only marginally successful toward developing balance and they actually help to develop skills that are not useful on a bicycle at all: leaning all the way over to initiate a turn, and the ability to ride extremely slowly (or not move at all). The kick bikes, on the other hand, help to develop the exact skills that are useful for riding bicycles and, if you are willing to invest just a little time, they can be inexpensive as well. Here is a picture of one of rides I've set up for children in the 2-4 age group. I have preformed this operation for four 12" bicycles and each of those have been passed on to other children and they have all worked out pretty well. Also anytime the "wee one" starts asking about pedals, after having mastered the balance thing, it is easy to just re-install the chainwheel and one piece crank to make a fully operational bi-cycle. 

Step one is to acquire a 12" wheel children's bicycle. This is fairly easy if you live in a largish city, because practically all largish cities have some type of recycled-bicycle co-op type of operation. The one in PGH is called Freeride, it's run by volunteers, and there is a link in the sidebar because they deserve applause for what they do. For those who do not live in a big city, maybe you can put it on the to-do list for your next city visit, or, you know, just move. Step two is to remove the entire drive train, and then file or cut off any odd bits that look like they might scrape the tender-skinned little rugrats who will be riding it. The rear sprocket on a coaster brake hub is not all that easy to remove, so I just take a section of chain and wrap around the sprocket completely so that there are no sharp teeth that might snag shoelaces or licorice whips or whatever. Now, place the child on the bicycle and let her figure it out.  She will be racing around, on any flat ground, paddling her feet and looking like Fred Flintstone within a day's time. Seriously.

Do you enjoy poorly framed and out of focus photos of bicycles? Then you're gonna love what's coming next. Every once in a great while I break out a rag and a hose and wash off my cyclely styled conveyances. I have been asked to be a bit more personal on the Rigid Bicycles blog, and because the general discourse of this particular online bathroom stall wall is dedicated to bicycles, then perhaps I should post some photos of my own.
First up is the daily driver, my only geared cycle at the moment, an old Trek touring rig. With freezing rain and slush, and heavy applications of road salt, the winters in Pennsylvania can be destructive to things made from steel; amazingly, this thing takes barrel full of abuse and never complains.
Next up is my mountainish cycle, which is my favorite ride, my old Specialized frame paired with a 25 year old O.G. Bontrager Switchblade fork. I don't have any other mountain bike, so this thing is what takes me on all of my off road adventures. I love it.  
An old Schwinn fixed wheel convert:
This Voodoo cross bike is a lot like the movie Beastmaster, although not for the reasons that you might be thinking, like that maybe it can tame wild animals; but because the component stars of this cycle, the XTR cantilevers and cranks, remind one of Marc Singer and Tanya Roberts because they were all very pretty and somewhat in-style back in the 80's.  

I am still hanging on to the old school XTR cantilevers, even though though my ace hermano Pedro graciously gifted me some new-fangled, generic, TRP knock offs.  For the 13 other people out there who might be interested in cantilever setup and technology maybe I will put together a post dedicated to the canti-life style, but it the meantime, know this: salmon colored Kool Stops are the "cat's ass" (which I'm pretty sure is a good thing).

What about BMX types of bicycles you ask? Well we got those type of conveyances too.
Here is the Rigid Bikes Director of Security, hanging out with the BMX family rides, looking fairly blasé:

So, whether you are kicking off to kindergarten or kicking off the start of the weekend, I hope this gibberish finds you in good health with a cooler full of cold ones.

Friday, June 3, 2011

High Times on the High Horizon

There are lots of bicycle goings on taking place these days. The pajama-jammy-jam, soon-to-be-rebranded "single speed nationals" a.k.a  Single Speed USA is taking place this weekend in Boulder, CO; if you haven't registered yet, just show up at the bar on TONIGHT and drunkenly demand a number plate.

Also, way back in May, after racing their bicycles for over 2,000 miles, the riders in the Giro d'Italia finally called it day and gave Alberto Contador the win. 21 stages is a lot of damn stages.

Also, some guy jumped off a ramp on his bicycle and did three backflips and then landed. Things are really moving forward in the bike world.

But then again, things get recycled pretty quickly too.
image from Velonews Amgen TOC coverage
This photo above shows a race bike from the Tour of California, with an extremely expensive SRM power meter and DuraAce Di2 electronic shifting, both of which are fairly commonplace on pro cylclists' bikes. But check out the elliptical chainrings. I know this concept has been around since the early days of bicycles, but it seems to re-emerge every 15 years or so. I guess this way, all the folks out there who are still spinning a Biopace setup can actually gloat, laugh, and shout "told you so!"
check out Hugh's site for bicycle restorations
Biopace for life, suckers! Well, that's gonna take care of the bicycle themed nonsense that I have for you this week. If you are in Colorado, head to Boulder tonight and hang out with all the pretty people; if you aren't, then do whatever you normally do, like cruise around on a bicycle with egg shaped chainrings and chainstay roller cam brakes. Liberation!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Stork Brought Us Something (hint: it's not stork food)

First off let me apologize for the delay in communications on our end. The staff at Rigid Bicycles has been very busy lately; the engineering team was lending a helping hand with the latest (and next-to-last) space shuttle launch, the marketing team was trying to brainstorm ways to spin Lance Armstrong's upcoming doping defense, and the CEO took a few days off for the baby.
Mother nature is amazing: I look with awe on the movement of the ocean's currents, the methodical creep of glacial progress, the first sprouts of spring's flowers, and the birth of a baby. I am thrilled that all is well, the mother and the baby are healthy and recovering comfortably. We have a brand new baby girl to be thankful for; so add that to the list of things like mexican food and peanut butter.

Before this space becomes a forum devoted to peanut butter, why don't I move back toward other items of bicycle (dis)interest that are neither as fascinating nor as life changing as new additions to the family,

or even just New Edition for that matter. I was able to eek out a couple rides over the past couple weeks and thought you might like just a little documentation. Are you like me? Do you like the singletrack? and the mountainish style bicycles? That twisty thread of dirt in front of me is what keeps me grounded these days.

Pretty fun stuff. Since the last time I digitally scribbled on these pages a few notable things have gone down in the bike world.  The Tour of California wrapped up so let me offer a hearty congrats to the participants. Also, the Trek corporation announced a bicycle styled cycle collaboration with visual artist dynamo, Shepard Fairey
I am not sure how I feel about this, although it reminds me of the "game-ified" branding techniques like those contests that marketing teams create to see how many product labels children can collect (cereal), or contests to see who can frequent a business place as many times as possible (mobile phone app "foursquare"), or prizes that are hidden, but pictured, inside the actual product (cracker-jacks).  Maybe by cross pollinating the design and marketing seedbeds of the bicycle industry with the those of the street-art industry there may arise a new thirst for bicycles and bike lanes and outdoor recreation facilities and race coverage; but I pretty much feel like all it's going to really do is create a contest, measured in part by new triathalon entries, to see how many power broker business types will let the golf clubs sit in the closet for a bit and put in some miles on their new $10,000 bicycle.  Oh well, we'll see.  And by the way, if this is actually interesting to anyone, I think I remember reading a more artfully crafted commentary about bicycle "collabos" written by the Bike Snob a few years ago. Oh yeah, here it is.

Well, thanks for reading about babies, bikes and boy bands. That's it for another week at Rigid, hope all is well on your end, and feel free to send in some evidence of the single track from your corner of the planet: I'll post it up right here for all of us to share.  Ahhhhh, sharing feels good.