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!