Rants on Cycling and on Life


In one of the COMMENTS to one of my rants I managed to anger an efriend and fellow blogger by calling Roadies Pansies. (mark is a skater turned mountainbiker turned road biker)
The in another comment from another friend I got a response that quoted David Chappelle. (rocco is a flat bar roadie)

Seems that I may need to be start sending out some packets of M&Ms, after all, M&Ms make friends.

It is true...Road Bikers and Mountainbiker are BROTHERS! But so were Cain and Able!


Okay, it may be true that I have enough pet peevs to open a pet store, but the ones pertaining to cycling are close to my heart as many of them effect my health and my future...

Each day after work I take a ride around the city to "lose my day." Most often I get away from the traffic and point to any number of the bike paths that surround Washington DC. It may be the Capital Crescent Trail, The Mt Vernon Trail, or Rock Creek Park. On each day I am forced to contend with the same sets of annoying variables and dangers. But one of the dangers that frustrates me the most is the PACE LINE (when a group of cyclist ride single file, the first rider blocking the wind so that the following riders can maintain the same speed with less work.) Pace Lines bother me primarily because they are dangerous, they often are too fast for the trail, and more so because the riders are more concerned with the invigorating race-like feel rather than the obstacles ahead. Only the first rider can see what is happening ahead, and the following riders are forced to trust their decisions. FIRST AND FOREMOST! This is a bike path, which is more similiar to a road than a race track...with that logic a pace line is not drafting, but rather tailgating (there are two different types of drafting that are distictly different, that latter being more dangerous) People can draft off their friends and training partners or they will latch onto a stranger's back wheel. OOOHHHHHHHH, that pisses me off! Drafting should be left for the road and for the races, and certainly never off the wheel of a stranger.

let this rant move to a story....
I am not proud of it, but it did happen, and I will tell you before hand I am happy that no one got hurt and will never repeat this action

One morning I was going for a prework spin. I was on the Mount Vernon Trail on a mountainbike with 2.1 knobby tires. I passed a cyclist on a roadbike. Soon after passing them I could sense him on my back wheel. I turned back and asked him not to draft, he smiled a geeky grin. I asked again that he did not draft off me, I picked up the pace, made no effort to drop him, but faster just the same. This to him was some sort of "cat and mouse" game, but to me it was a fly swarming around my face game, just wanted to swat him and have him be gone already. After the third request the rider informed me that he was in control, knew what he was doing, and was following with safe following distance. We each turned onto the 14th Street Bridge crossing from Virginia into DC. I am not sure what came over me, but I got tired of this parasite on my rearwheel so I slammed on my brakes. Clearly the rider behind me was not in control and did not have safe following distance, cause he rear ended me and fell over. I never took my feet out of the clips, stayed upright, said..."Ooooops, thought there was a snake in the trail." Took another look to confirm that he was okay and finished my ride back into the city and into to work. Upon arrival to work I rethought my actions, I regretted my behavior. My actions were not going to help things, nothing positive could become of all of this, sure it was a tad funny, but all in all it was the wrong way to handle things. Like a black cloud these actions loomed over me for days, I went out of my way to take the same route to try and find this guy again and make amends. Sure enough a week or two later I ran into him, made my apology and he accepted. It was a funny exchange, he had no idea that he had contribute to the situation. I am sure that he is still drafting off other riders on the trail. But that is the ediqutte of the trail weenie. We both laughed that I was an asshole, I made no effort to debate or discuss as this encounter was to apologise. We each had a laugh and went our separate ways.

After this encounter I moved to the single speed for the bicycle paths, the smaller gearing had a lower maximum speed and did not allow me to get involved in the insecure male competion for the crown of KING OF THE TRAIL or TRAIL KING OF THE DAY. That is not to say that I do not get on the trail and exceed the 15MPH Trail Speed limit, cause I do. But I try to do this courteously. I always give an audible warning, which tends to be offered on the actual pass more as a hello than a get out of my way (and it gets a thank you almost everytime, people deserve the basic respect) I slow for unpredictable trail users, such as dogs and children, and I stop for anyone in need; cyclist with mechanicals, old men having heart attacks, tourists needing directions, and Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in need of massage.

need to get back to work
do some work and leave early
if I leave early I may be able to go for a quick bike ride
maybe I can be KING OF THE TRAIL today?

Title IX Sports:
Women's sports has been fighting for an equal playing ground for years. In some cases they are fighting for just a playing field or some decent equipment, all of this is understandable. But, the rules are such that implementing such rules has created some pretty bizarre results.

Check out this article in the NY Times on Women's Rowing Scholarships.

I am all for women's sports, but I think that they are going a little overboard with demanding equality. In the case of professional sport we need to realize that this is all about entertainment. The top athletes don't get paid the most because they are the best, they get paid the most because they draw the biggest crowd (and winning/going to the finals, all that brings in more money.) It is all about money. If the viewers do not want to see the women's pro basketball league, women's boxing, or women's soccer, well then money is the final word. It is not about being fair and equal, it is about entertainment. Anna Kornakova?

Now on the college level it is a tad different, but not really, these schools are also businesses....and they want to draw attention to their schools and make whatever money they can. This is a topic that I could drag on about for a while but I do not want to deviate from the original topic of women's sports, but I might as well finish my point. Okay Now, Compare and Contrast Georgetown University and its academic record and its sports programs with University of Notre Dame and it academic record and sports amongst yourselves and get back to me.
Okay, where I am going with this?
Now where....
Just ranting along...

(no, not Videodrome!)

To continue on the cycling tangent of VELODROMES I have done a couple of quick GOOGLE SEARCHES. It is all at your finger tips with GOOGLE!
This is what I came up with...
List of Velodromes in the US
from that list I went a took an electronic tour of some of those locations on the East Coast, as it turns out the NY Velodrome in Queens has recently been revamped! Check out the Kissena Queens Velodrome here! While the site for the Velodrome near Allentown PA in Trexlertown has a very informative site, Lehigh Valley Velodrome.

That is more than enough links to Velodrome information than you really need to wet you whistle. After all, you can do your own GOOGLE if you really want to.

As for me, don't be fooled I am still a mountainbiker. To me there is nothing more pure than riding a bicycle on a wooded trail. Sure I spend a fair amount of time on the road, logging in a few miles on pavement. But, as fun as that is, the time on the road pales in comparison to the pleasures of the dirt. The road miles are building blocks to being faster and stronger on dirt. The stronger my legs and lungs, the more fun I can have just steering my bike through the woods. That is the greatest feeling, when mountainbiking becomes more like downhill skiing (I actually have never skied, snowboarded for years, but accept the metaphor just the same...skiing in more similar to road riding, and snowboarding is closer to mountainbiking....the cultures overlap, but that is due to what draws the individual to each sport) It is a glorious sensation, not unlike the one I experienced at the 12 Hours of Lodi Farms, when everything is working at its highest level. The mind is taking in all the variables and sending out all of the commands, the conscious mind at the surface is almost a witness to the actions before it. It is completely ZEN.
The flow is phenomenal!


Cycling; a strange mixture of Solidarity and Competition
As a mountainbiker I am more Yak than Gazzelle, but that is not to say that I can not appreciate the graceful stride of that thin wirey (sometimes frail) creature. There are many aspects of the Roadie culture that intrigue me. Some so much that I dabble in them myself, Cyclocross has become part of my fall routine and I have always been curious about the Velodrome.

The HOUR RECORD in the velodrome has always been an aspect of road cycling that has struck me with great fascination. Eddy Merckx held that record for 12 years, his record was set in a different world on different terms. The equipment had not hit its high tech aerodynamic heights, training had not hit the same scientific heights, and doping was not such a prevelant part of the sport.

The VELODROMS are still out there. Track bikes are not just the tools of the courier trade and the fashion of the college coffee drinking culture, they were designed to be the efficient machines raced on the track (hence the name.) Pursuit is an aspect of the cycling racing culture that goes on with little recognition.

In track cycling Track cycling is a form of bicycle racing usually held on specially-built banked tracks or velodromes (but many events are held at older velodromes where the track banking is relatively shallow).
Track racing is also done on grass tracks marked out on flat sportsfields. Such events are particularly common during the summer in Scotland at Highland Games gatherings, but there are also regular summer events in England.
..... Click the link for more information. , the individual pursuit is an event where two cyclists begin their race from a stationary position (held by gates) on opposite sides of the track. If one cyclist manages to catch the other, the successful persuer is declared the winner, otherwise, the first one to complete the required distance (usually eight laps of the 500-metre track) is declared the winner.

Competitions are decided on a knockout format, with the competitors with the best recent results seeded so that they do not meet each other until later rounds. preview not available. Click the link for more information.

time for me to do some work before I have to start looking for another job!


take a moment and look at the set of images from this book CHASING RICKSHAWS. Part bicycle courier, part taxi cab, part trackbike, all human powered bicycle; that is the RICKSHAW (or Bechak as they are called in Indonesia)
The bicycle is a work of art. In Denmark this company, Biomega, views the bicycle as art and presents it this way. Here is a beautifully simple custom bike company, Ant Bikes.

and of course some must visit sites for any cyclist who likes to geek out about their bikes....

Sheldon Brown
Sheldon Brown's Daughter Then & Sheldon Brown's Daughter Now

okay....the Tova stuff is headed in a different direction

Here are some good ideas from Keith Bontrager
Here is some history, Gary Fisher

Although I am a mountainbiker and I view much of the roadies as a bunch of pansies, but here is some stuff on LANCE

and of course....Eddy Merckx
please check out EDDY!
the cycling films of his racing are EPIC
pure beauty, almost enough for me to lift the pansy label off the roadies
but I can not do that

More strange conversations in this weird EWorld!
For me reading emails or reading BLOGS is not entirely dissimilar to talking to someone. As the words are read I hear a voice, an image is created, and a relationship is born. Sometimes friendships are made, and just as often enemies are found. The written words can cause pleasure or pain with the same ease as the spoken word. Last night as I scanned some of the links on VELORUTION I stumbled on Ken Kifer's Page. I read some of this and some of that, some thoughts grabbed me others I just left behind. I was drawn in deeper, as I got deeper and closer I thought that I would drop an email Ken's way. When the contact page loaded I read that Ken was dead, not only had he died, but he had died in a bicycle related accident. Poetic injustice. His killer was a drunk driver, who had been given a DUI and was allowed to drive home just hours later. This tragic tale moved me and even scared me. Life is so precious, yet we all take it for granted. We all assume that we will be here tomorrow to raise our kids and to chase our dreams, but clearly that is not always so.

With that said....

Those of us on our bikes may want to look over our shoulder twice, consider slowing down as we encounter unsure variables, and never assume that we can fully anticipate the actions of the car drivers around us.

And for those of us in our cars....
(although I commute to work on bike and seldom drive my car, I do drive, especially when my family is involved)
When in cars we need to watch our speed. Pass pedestrians and cyclists with care, caution, and courtesy. When driving through neighborhoods anticipate that there is a child around each bend. Drive down each road as you would want people to drive down your road. Go around cyclists and pedestrians with the same respect that you want car drivers to grant you.

Enough with this.
It is all so obvious. We all know these things. But sometimes we forget. Let us slow down a moment and think of Ken, Judy, and may others who many have lost their lives due to the recklessness inconsiderate behaviors of others.

Both Ken and Judy may not live today, but their lives were important enough that their visions live on. Judy's daughter created a documentary of her life. And Ken's site is active and maintained by a close friend of his. It is vital that these stories are shared and told so that such incidents are prevented in the future and so that we can appreciate life while we have it.


City Bikes (former) Team Captain Brian Kemler's Homepage

GUEST BLOG: or more specifically the posting of some emails from some friends whole just got back from a documentary film project in Afghanistan pertaining to the topic of LANDMINES

to keep it cycling relevant here is a link to that topic; Afghan Amputee Bicyclists

the emails were sent to me from my multitalented friend Rob Myers
Rob was my design mentor as he ran his own businesses; Ion Media and PXL Studios
he also played sitar at my wedding; when not working the wedding circuit Rob makes music with Thunderball, Thievery Corp, and Fort Knox Five

along with his artistic and musical pursuits Rob is also a civic minded individual who loves to travel the world and experience life
it would seem that his work on this landmine project is offering both

on with the emails....
Rob is not the author, another friend Mary is the author and leading the project in Afghanistan
I will cut and paste here...

Greetings from Kabul,

We arrived in Afghanistan a few days ago and have been busy filming the activities of the Afghan Campaign to Ban Landmines (ACBL), as it hosts an annual regional meeting of ban campaigners. The ACBL, established 1995, is made up of demining organizations, as well as other civil society groups.

We filmed the opening of the campaign meeting and a subsequent press conference, which saw government representatives speaking about landmines, as well as me on behalf of the international campaign. In the afternoon, we filmed a visit to the OMAR landmines museum, an amazing collection of mines and unexploded ordnance cleared throughout the country. We also visited the Mine Detection Dog Centre (MDC), where we filmed various teams from the country's demining organizations that had set up sample sites for the visiting campaigners. This was a great opportunity to make contacts for the filming we plan to do here on demining.

Yesterday, we filmed the campaigners as they met with the Afghan king, or "Father of the Nation" in his heavily-guarded palace. Earlier, we filmed a rally by hundreds of deminers, mine survivors and campaigners as they walked from a park in the center of Kabul past a row of embassies and ministries.

At the conclusion of the rally the ACBL Chairperson, Sohrab Hakimi of MDC, delivered a petition to the to the United Nations mine action center for them to pass on to the governments that continue to manufacture mines.

The campaign meeting concludes this afternoon with a bicycle race at the national stadium by mine survivors and other Afghans with disabilities. I will be leaving in a couple of days, but the film crew will stay on until 13 April: Brian Liu on camera, Luc Vanheel on audio, and Rob Myers, field producer.



Afghanistan #2

We are continuing our filming in Kabul for the landmines documentary, covering some interesting events this week...

The crew spent Monday morning (29 March) filming stockpiled landmines in the process of being destroyed at a Kabul factory. We had arrived in Kabul thinking we had missed this filming opportunity, but they found some more mines to destroy. The process involved melting a thousand metallic casings of the Soviet-made POMZ antipersonnel mine (the stake or "pineapple" mine) in an ancient-looking furnace. The factory workers, none of whom wore any significant protective gear, poured the molten iron into molds for manhole covers. They then covered the molds with sand to cool down overnight and placed a kettle on one to boil some tea. The process was fascinating and beautiful. With sparks flying everywhere, we were glad the camera, zeppelin, and crew made it out safely!

We then visited the Kabul rehabilitation clinic run by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to interview an engaging Italian, Dr. Alberto Cairo, who has directed the clinic for the past 15 years. Almost all of the clinic's workers are former patients now employed to make artificial limbs and braces for mine victims and others. We were very lucky to get to Cairo before he left for a month of travel. He introduced the crew to a woman patient wearing a burka who agreed to an emotional interview about the mine incident that took her leg.

Finally, in the afternoon we filmed a bicycle race by disabled Afghan men and boys (including mine victims) organized to coincide with the campaign meeting. Girls and women did not compete, but the organizers hope it will soon be possible to include bicycling in their skills training program which has a 4 year waitlist. Competition was fierce for the main prizes of new bicycles and hot water thermoses. We filmed a series of races by competitors entered in various groups such as below-knee (BK) amputee, above-knee (AK) amputee, wheelchair, and youth. The event took place in the national stadium, scene of public executions and other atrocities during the Taliban period.

I'm not sure what footage we got. It was chaotic, but fun to film and definitely an experience to remember. On several occasions I was asked to let people know of their desire to have proper racing bikes and helmets, especially for the athletes entered in the upcoming Paralympic Games that follow directly after the Olympics in Athens this summer.

The next day, we did the rounds of the major demining organizations (HALO, MCPA, MDC, United Nations) interviewing and setting up a schedule to film their various clearance activities in the field. The conference and campaign connections seemed to have helped a lot as all the agencies seem to be keen for us to film their programs; it is difficult to decide which!

On Wednesday morning I left Kabul and the crew (Brian, Luc, and Rob) to travel home to New Zealand for two weeks vacation turned into work. They have a packed schedule to complete by 13 April. I'm quite sad to be missing the experience. Afghanistan is slowly coming back to life. Despite the poverty and daunting challenges, Afghans are keen to reconstruct the country and rebuild their lives. Landmines account for just part of their many problems, but the way in which they have tackled this issue over the past decade is remarkable and rather awe-inspiring. I hope do it justice in the film.


Ms. Mary Wareham
Executive Producer, Fulfilling the Promise

Next Step Productions, Inc.
2407 15th St NW, #411
Washington, DC 20009, USA
Tel. +1 (202) 352-2968


I have never made a documentary film...there are great ideas that flow through my brain...but they keep on going, going, going, gone. I feel that oral history/the spoke word is something that needs to be taken advantage of before it is dead and gone. There are a number of individuals that are a huge part of the DC subculture of a DC past, I feel that they need to be remembered and recognized. Someone needs to do it, it is unlikely that I will ever get my shit together to ever approach such a project.

Who is COOL DISCO DAN? One of the most visible/prominant 'tags' to ever grace the walls of DC and the surrounding area....
Who is Cool Disco Dan? and where is he now?
what was he thinking then? and what is he thinking now?

then there is also a local hero Blelvis...
not sure if the powers of the internet or even the City Paper can dredge him up....brb (be right back) let me see what the internet brings up. NOTHING!
more on that to sleep now...
Blelvis or Black Elvis was a street performer...okay he was a panhandler who harassed and annoyed drunk club goers in Adams Morgan Washington DC as they went from club to club, bar to bar, car to club, or bar to car...etc...
He has a wonderful mastery of Elvis' movies and music. His trivia is mind boggling. He can not be stumped. For a buck he will sing any one of his hits. And he has a good time doing such. But where did it take him. Did it make or break his life. Where did it take him? Where is he now?

I have seen him around...always give him a shout and a wave...
traveling via bicycle does have its advantages...
meeting and greeting being one of them

I knew him. Shit, everyone knew him. Never knew him well. Always looked up to him, always questioned why. It seemed like he was taking a risky shortcut. He had the cards to play the straight game and play it well. But he opted to run his business out of the trunk of a car, in a back alley, with a cell phone and a beeper. He was out in the open. He was visible, super visible. I am sure that high school kids all over the suburbs said to each other...if you need a bag head to Dupont Circle and look for the guy on a bicycle with an orange cycling helmet with a a large feather on top.
What was a prop for a New Year's Eve party became his signature.
What was a few dollars on the side became his main gig.
What was his future became his end....or so it seemed.
Last I heard he had MS.
I wish him well. Hope that he alive, healthy and living the life he chooses.
The image of him arriving at a Mount Pleasant group house party with his old school oakley shades and his roller blades is fresh in my eyes. It is hard to see that anything could slow this guy down or tear the smile from his face. Not the law...not MS.....I pray that nothing can break his spirit. For some reason I feel that he is alive and well on a beach somewhere dipping into a secret next egg that no one could find.
Sometimes I feel guilty for how good my life is...other times I take it all for granted.

Mt Pleasant and Featherhead

I knew him from house parties and working on the bike

the internet is a weird place
it is like a strange party where people say something and it echos forever
there is all this strange out dated shit that is still floating around there

here is an article about bicycle commuting

Who is Scrooge?
In the courier world there are a cast of characters who are lifers. Many of them have identities and personalities that I have created in my own mind. For years I have seen these guys pounding the streets. Riding different bikes, wearing different fashions. Existing in different styles. There is one old school lifer that I have never shared so much as a nod or a wave with but I still have great respect for. He goes by the name Scrooge. Now I am not sure if that is his name or a nickname. He has been out there on the streets for one year short of forever. It always surprises me when I see him doing something positive. The first time I saw him volunteer for Bike DC I was a tad shocked. As he had never given me a nod or a wave and after all he does go by Scrooge, then why did he offer his time for free. In recent years I have seen Scrooge and his cargo bike head out to Rock Creek Park. He and a gaggle of his friends meet up there, cook on the grill and run some sort of informal hill climb training or races. It is all pretty cool. He is enjoying like. Living it on a bike and doing it on his own terms. Scrooge's Bike.

then again....
why should he give me a wave? I am just a short range commuter. A desk jockey with a few moments on the bike. I am not part of his tribe. I am wearing a clean pressed shirt and my shoes at work don't make any strange noises when they tough concrete or a tile floor.

jack and coke on ice
keyboard restin in my lap
nothing to do
nothing to say
maybe another jack and coke will give me the gift of gab
there has to be a story in there somewhere

hello...anybody in there?

An article in the WASHINGTON POST about two cyclists being attacked by a runner while they rode their bikes in Rock Creek Park. Yes, it is illegal for them to ride their bikes in Rock Creek Park, but to assault someone with Pepper Spray unprovoked is perhaps more illegal? Well, if something can not be MORE ILLEGAL, than perhaps it is a greater violation.

Check it out!

this author John Briley has written other cycling related articles including on a folding bike that seemed objective and true.

it was an amusing story
glad that he got it out there
and also glad to see that the Park Police did not slap the cuffs on him for riding his bike in the woods of Rock Creek Park!


no dah?
no doy?
dah hicky!

the other night I was checking out a link on timmyP's BLOG page
funny, he recommended this film and I checked out the basics, guess I was all into the images and blanked out the words (don't read much, hurts my brain)
the images immediately made me think of this artist, Andy Goldsworthy
I did some searches, found was I was looking for, tried to post a comment onto his site
and forgot all about it
then was back there tonight
and what did I notice?
the title of the post was ANDY GOLDSWORTHY

no doy....dah hickie!


these are strange times, very very very strange times
it seems that plastic surgery is the hair dye of the modern age
and not unlike hair does not always help and sometimes it goes wrong
flipping through the channels tonight and I pause on some show on BRAVO
the basic premise is the history of television
Barbra Eden looked like a monster (Bewitched was always hotter)
but more curious...what about the people who look good, but what looks good because of surgery
wouldn't it be sad to have your best feature not be yours
to get compliments all the time about such things
to have someone fall in love with you because of such things
it becomse more and more common that I look at an older peer and marvel at how good they look, maybe even see a photo of them from 20 years prior and think that it is great that they look better now than they ever did
then someone leans in and mentions "the knife"
it makes me sort of sad, for some reason I feel sorry for them

with this all said
in 20 years someone stop me the day I schedule for a pull and tuck

no biggy
my site changed its name on its own
wonder if it will ever change itself back

technology and its little quirks

this site was previously at the address WWW.GWADZILLA.BLOGSPOT.COM
but for some reason it has moved to GWADZILLA.BLOGSPOT.COM
one would figure that if you are here reading this that you figured it out
if you are here for the first time may need to dig deeper to find the meat of the message
the meat here is in the marrow

The eWorld is a funny one
This morning as I reviewed my BLOG to see if anyone had commented on any of my rants I found a comment submission from SPYDER's MOM I reviewed her images on her homepage
The images were effective to help me draw a mental picture of her as I read random selection from her TALES section. The tales were not "tails" of her dog Spyder but rather of her late in life discovery of mountainbiking and mountainbike racing, through her various posts there was a recurring theme of humility in her achievement and satisfaction from her efforts and her attempts.

While reading through her posts I could not help but think of another female athlete who discovered sports and competition late in life, Judy Flannery.
I grew up knowing Judy Flannery as Mrs. Flannery, or Dennis' mom (the star of my select soccer team), and more specifically my soccer coach's wife, but to many people in this area and to women athletes all over the country (and maybe the world) she was known as a world class triathlete. It is a the start of a wonderful story that took a tragic twist. Several years ago she was out on a training ride and was run over and killed by an oncoming car that intentionally swerved into her lane and hit her head on. The specifics of that incident do not qualify for the word accident. Judy's eldest child Erin wrote and produced an award winning documentary on her mother's life. "Judy's Time" is a film that I have yet to see but look forward to seeing it when I get a chance. I hope the theater is dark as I am sure that it will effect me deeply, just thinking of her death upsets me greatly.

back to work
would like to expand on this
but would also like to keep my job

Bush and Kerry....

looks like things have evened out a bit

Bush Falls