Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reminder: Winter SOM/Bike Ride This Sunday & Bike To Work Week Meeting on Tuesday

It looks like, even with the dire weather predicted over the next couple of days, by Sunday, we will be able to ride. We'll do the five mile route provided by the mapping committee, starting at the Baird Center at noon, and ending up for a coffee afterward at Eden Gourmet.

Please try to come to the Bike To Work Week Meeting at the Baird Center, Tuesday at 730 PM. Lots of updates and we need your help.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Lisbon Bike Path Hosts A Poem

from Jeremy Osner:

Biking along the Tagus

The river of my village does not make one think of anything.
Whoever is on its banks is only on its banks.
My dad sent along a link to a cool new bike path in Lisbon, painted with the words of Fernando Pessoa/Alberto Caeiro's ode to the Tagus. You can follow Vimeo user Abilio Vieira as he pedals the length of the poem. Here is Richard Zenith's translation:
The Tagus is more beautiful than the river that flows through my village,
But the Tagus is not more beautiful than the river that flows through my village
Because the Tagus is not the river that flows through my village.

The Tagus has enormous ships,
And for those who see in everything that which isn't there
Its waters are still sailed
By the memory of the carracks.
By the m

The Tagus descends from Spain
And crosses Portugal to pour into the sea.
Everyone knows this.
But few know what the river of my village is called
And where it goes to
And where it comes from.
And so, because it belongs to fewer people,
The river of my village is freer and larger.

The Tagus leads to the world.
Beyond the Tagus there is America
And the fortune of those who find it.
No one ever thought about what's beyond
The river of my village.

The river of my village doesn't make one think of anything.
Whoever is next to it is simply next to it.

I'm a little bit puzzled by one thing: The direction Mr. Vieira is riding is obviously the intended direction for reading the poem; if you were going the other way the words would be backwards and it would be difficult to read. But traveling in this direction, one sees the stanzas of the poem in reverse order, (sort of) as if one were reading up from the bottom of the page -- the order of lines within stanzas is preserved. I wonder what the thinking behind this was. Also, why the mirror-image "s" in "O Tejo desce de Espanha"? Just carelessness?

Update: Mr. Vieira has a blog entry about the bike path. it is the ciclovia do Tejo, running 7 km from Belém to Cais do Sodré along the northern bank of the Tagus.

...I'm finding myself fascinated by this coincidence: The Portuguese which Mr. Zenith translates as "Whoever is next to it is simply next to it" is "Quem está ao pé dele está só ao pé dele" -- the repeated pédele pédele seems just like the perfect text for a bike path...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

my tips addressed to a women's triathlon group

Word got out that I fix and sell used bikes, and some women who are preparing for the Danskin triathlon this fall. I joined their mailing list and told them where I stand and how I can help. Below is the message I sent.

Hi, folks. Susan invited me to join here. I love to give advice on bicycles and cycling. I give it freely, because I'm a huge cycling advocate.

I do have a lot of bikes for sale. It started out as a hobby. Enough people pleaded with me to accept money for bikes, and who am I to say no, right? But advice is free.

Old bikes are fine! A bike does not become obsolete except for the most demanding cyclist. And bikes don't wear out the way cars do. A car can't be expected to run well after ten years. A well maintained bike can last a lifetime. I have five bikes I call my own, and my two favorites are 39 and 28 years old!

Often, all you need is some tweaks, tuneups, or a few small equipment upgrades. The most important feature of a bike is the tires. Good tires transfer your pedaling energy into forward motion efficiently. They also absorb shock well to make the ride comfortable.

Fit is essential. A lot of people take up cycling and give it up soon, and it's because of poor fit on their bikes. The problems of fit are often subtle enough that the cyclist is unaware that fit is the problem. Fit problems are generally worse for women than men. There are two reasons for this. One is that many bikes are designed for men. Men have a larger torso-to-overall-height ratio. The result is that when a woman rides a man's bike, she is leaning too far forward. The other problem is the saddle. Saddles designed specifically for women support the weight of the pelvis properly. Often, a generic saddle is too narrow and long for women. The relative positions of the sit bones and pubic bones of a woman's pelvis are different than on men's.

I can help get you fitted on an existing or new bike. I can do this for free, because I love to do this. I can also ride with you and give you tips on efficiency and comfort. The more efficient and comfortable you are, the more you will want to ride. The more you ride, the better your condition will improve, not to mention your enjoyment.

I've become an advocate of cycling. Along with Ellen Kahaner and some other local folks, I formed the South Orange/Maplewood Bicycle Coalition. Our website is at We are creating maps of recommended routes. We are encouraging people to cycle, not just for exercise and fun but also for commuting and errands (what I call utility cycling). We are working with the local governments to improve cycling facilities, including lane markings and roadside signs. We host a monthly ride on the last weekend of the month. The next one will be Feb 28 at noon. We will be giving a course this summer in negotiating traffic and bicycle repair, offered through the Adult School.

Please feel free to shoot me any questions.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bikes on NJ Transit Trains

So, the good news is that "standard frame bikes" are allowed on NJ Transit trains all day Saturday and Sunday - though you have to pick times that will not be crowded, or it sounds like you might run into the discretion of a NJ transit employee.

I've had my eye on riding the new paths that connect lower Manhattan to upper Manhattan along the Hudson River, and I think a weekend morning this Spring is the time to do it. Want to join me?

Here are the rules (posted on

Bicycles on NJ TRANSIT Trains
Collapsible bicycles are allowed on all NJ TRANSIT trains at all times.Standard frame bicycles may be carried on-board during off-peak hours (weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.), and all day Saturday and Sunday.

Standard frame bicycles are only permitted on outbound trains, originating from Newark, New York or Hoboken, during peak travel periods between 5:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.

Standard frame bicycles are only permitted on inbound trains, going to Newark, New York, or Hoboken, between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Bicycles will not be accepted on-board trains on the following holidays:
New Year's Day
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Fridays prior to all major holidays
the Friday after Thanksgiving
eves prior to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
If the bicycle is considered by an NJ TRANSIT employee to pose a hazard to the safety of other passengers due to overcrowded trains or other operating conditions, the employee may prohibit the bicycle from entering the train car.There are no additional charges for bicycles. Bicycles are transported at the owner's risk. NJ TRANSIT is not responsible for bicycles that are lost, stolen or damaged while on board any NJ TRANSIT vehicle or at any NJ TRANSIT facility.
For more information, please contact NJ TRANSIT's
Customer Service Department.

Wear Your Heart On Your Bike Wheel...

Happy Valentines Day!
"Two Wheels Plus Two Seats = Love", about the power of love when riding a tandem, from yesterday's NY Times:'tandem%20bike%22&st=cse

Friday, February 5, 2010

Recent errands I've run

Before the winter began, I resolved to myself that I would push myself harder through the bad weather. I tend to avoid getting on the bike when the weather looks foreboding. Not only that, I have little excuses for not riding. For example, I'm not wearing the ideal clothes, or my seat needs adjustment. Or it will take too long to get there, compared with driving. I push myself through these excuses and ride anyway. Not all the time, but sometimes.

I've gone out in some pretty cold weather this winter. Each time I do it, I ask myself if I'm cold. If I am, I ask myself where I'm cold, i.e. what part of my body. This lets me refine my clothing choices.

I've found that some ordinary carpenter's safety goggles do a fine job at keeping the cold wind out of my eyes. My eyes tear very easily from cold wind, which nearly blinds me when I'm riding fast.

Now that I have my clothing choices worked out well, there isn't much that can stop me from a short ride. It's gotten to the point where rides range from "not bad at all" to "downright pleasant."

Recently, I rode to Trader Joe's, which is about 1.5 miles from my home. I towed a kiddie trailer and hauled perhaps 60 pounds of groceries. It wasn't hard at all. I live near the top of the eastern hill of Maplewood, near Summit Ave. To make the climb easier, I rode up Millburn Ave and then Springfield Ave. It added miles but reduced the steepness of the climb.

Earlier this week, I delivered two bikes that I had tuned up for someone. I made an adventure out of the delivery by delivering them by bike! My client lives on the South Orange/West Orange border. This was hard. I lashed the bikes to the trailer. I had a few technical difficulties along the way, the worst of which was that the weight wasn't properly distributed. The whole ride there, the trailer was alternately pulling back and pushing forward on the bike, in an oscillating fashion. On the way, I got lost in Orange, forgot my client's address, had my chain fall off a few times, had the bike lifted up by the trailer falling backwards, and a few other mishaps. I knew it would be an adventure, so I had a sense of humor about it. Going home was a breeze, by comparison.

I also rode that night this week when it snowed. I had to pick up some groceries for my daughter, who had a bad cold. I could have driven to Pathmark, but another goal of mine is to think of cycling first and ask why drive, rather than the opposite. My wife Carol was surprised I was riding, but what the heck. Everything went just fine. No problems.

We're due for some snow tonight. I might brave it this weekend. I may have to put some knobby tires on one of my bikes.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Welcome to!

This is a test post to see how this is going to work.

The information from the old site: