Tuesday, September 27, 2005

George Bush Encourages Car pooling?!

What? Perhaps the first shock I received on my trip to Las Vegas was seeing the front page headline of the Financial Times indicating the President Bush was encouraging energy conservation and car pooling. A similar headline appeared on the front page of the Boston Globe's Business section. What a minute. Didn't he just work hard to pass an energy bill that continues to subsidize oil and coal and work on increasing supply instead of reducing demand? What's going on here? Did the bankruptcy filings of two more airlines and the crippling of gasoline production in the gulf coast cause this? What gives? Is this for real?

The story made The Guardian as well

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Interbike Preparation Continues


We are having great September weather here in New England. For the most part I have been enjoying the indoors. Between injury recovery and starting a new job, the rising time has diminished a bit of late. We are making the last dash of preparation for Interbike next week and there is much to accomplish. It is exciting as well as a bit stressful, but I am sure that is part of the equation. We are working hard to bring information to the show that will be of the most interest and use for the retailers we will meet.

I did take the time to go out on an Elium SG yesterday morning for about an hour and 15 minutes. The picture's a little fuzzy as I am still learning how to use the camera feature of the Palm Zire I just bought. The old M505 finally gave up the ghost. I figured taking some time in the morning to burn off some energy would keep me sane as I spent the remainder of the day in the office shuffling through paper and maintaining an adequate caffeine level in my bloodstream. Considering my lack of riding since mid August, I felt pretty good. I even managed to use the SLR saddle on the bike without much ado or pain for that matter.

I did take a few minutes yesterday checking out the The Buscycle. Seems that some local creative types are putting together a 10 person pedal powered "bus" to wander the streets of Boston. I believe it's built on the chassis of a Ford F-150, because it was free. Now that's a good use of a truck frame.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Doored

One of my co-workers was doored today. I have never been doored, but I have read about it and heard some horror stories from friends and acquaintances, nor have I been with someone who was recently doored. The fear was etched on her face as she described the circumstances of the event; hearing and sensing the truck coming up on the left to pass her, and watching the person open the door of the parked car even as they were looking in the side view mirror directly at her as she approached. She had a choice; veer into the path of the approaching vehicle or level her shoulder at the car and attempt to take a glancing blow. She chose the latter, and did not go down, but in some way swiped the car and remained upright. As she described this, her eyes were wide and her voice shaky. She said she felt like she was going to be sick. I felt terrible for her. It reminded me of how tenuous my own riding can be. The times I've let me attention wander as I enjoy my ride to or from work, enjoying the cool air of the morning or the evening. The few times I have let my guard down I have had some close calls, and they scared the hell out of me.

If we are to continue riding in our semi urban environment, we must be attentive, and work to make others aware of cyclists right to the road.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

AltWheels 2005 a Success!

Inaugural Fleet Day links industry professionals interested in alternative fueled vehicles to suppliers













It is Tuesday evening and the dust has settled (for me anyway!) from the Third Annual AltWheels Alternative Transportation Festival. Close to 4000 people passed through the gates of the event this year, with the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation providing the perfect backdrop for sustainable innovations in human conveyance. I am happy to see the success of this event, the passionate outgrowth of Alison Sander's vision for a transportation network that does not pollute our planet. With Elln Hagney's expert event management assistance, and the team of Janice Halpern and Marty Bauman at Classic Communications getting the word out, I think all the core volunteers made it out alive.

There were nearly 80 exhibitors ranging from grease cars to biodiesel machines to human powered devices (we like to call them bicycles) and hybrids. I did not have as much time to peruse the aisles as I had in the past, and quite frankly felt a bit jaded about the slowly developing market for alternative fueled vehicles. Maybe I need to lighten up?

My time was spent preparing for the panel discussion I moderated Sunday afternoon. The panelists, Craig Della Penna of Northeast Greenway Solutions and co-owner of the Sugar Maple Trailside Inn, Lauren Hefferon of Ciclismo Classico, Jeff Rosenblum of The Livable Streets Alliance, and David Loutzenheiser of Massbike did an outstanding job. Craig's depth of knowledge about rail corridors available for development, Lauren's understanding of cycling's ability to connect people to places, Jeff's passion for connecting cycling transit networks, and Dave's commitment to helping make Massachusetts' streets accessible and safe for cyclists was all appreciated by myself and the people in the audience.

Thank you to all the volunteers, exhibitors, spectators, panelists, and passers-by. Participating in something that so many people dedicated time and effort to for the sake of changing some minds is enough to charge my batteries.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Cyclocross Approacheth

From the speculation of Lance Armstrong's 1999 doping to the regular folk like me that want to go out and have some fun. The Gran Prix of Cyclocross comes again. http://www.velonews.com/pr/prn/articles/8885.0.html

I built up my cross bike, the orange and black Halloween modeled ANT, and now hope I can squeeze some training in before Interbike and make a go at a decent showing in Gloucester at the end of October. My right leg seems to be over whatever it was that afflicted it. It may have been some rare Maine Bar harbor spider bite, or the fact that I climbed Cadillac Mountain twice in the same weekend after having done practically zero climbing all season. OK, it's not the Alps or the Pyrenees, or even the Berkshires, but give me a break. Am I getting older? I will proceed cautiously with it for fear of aggravating it and falling into an injury induced depression the likes of which we have not seen since...

The first thing I need to do is lay off the beer. I have been consuming far too much of it for no good reason.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Funny thing Happened...Lance on drugs and a


Midnight Crit

Check out this article and let me know what you think.

Tour de Farce

Drug use in many sports is the elephant in the room. How about those financial ties between owners, sponsors, patrons, etc.? C'mon! NASCAR? Football? Baseball? Let's be real, just because I ride and race (occasionally) and love getting my ass kicked on hard group rides (though the last one I did was last year) does not mean "my" sport is any different than anyone else's. OK, maybe a bike race burns WAY less fuel and emits fewer pollutants than NASCAR, or even the 50,000 slobbering Patriots fans driving in whatever they drive in to the stadium, but we all still had to log the 2 1/2 hours of windshield time just to get spanked.

I digress, and my analysis is weak... I have been unable to ride hard for the past four weeks and my mind is paying the price.

How can I not have a link for this?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

AltWheels Transportation Festival Sept. 17-19, 2005


Americans are feeling the pinch in the wallet from soaring gas prices, in part due to the devastation unleashed by Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast. I expect the renewed urgency toward energy issues will help drive attendance to this weekend's AltWheels Alternative Transportation Festival at The Museum of Transportation in Larz Anderson Park in Brookline, Massachusetts.

This is my third year helping organize the event, though I have not been as involved this year due to the job search that led to my new position here at Seven Cycles. I will be moderating a panel discussion entitled, Greenways, Bikeways, and Rails-to-Trails: Simple, Sensible, Improvements for Traditional Landscapes. This will be the final panel of the weekend, a weekend filled with information on alternative fuels, land use and real estate development, and sustainable landscapes.

Over the weekend I received the Summer 2005 edition of my alma mater's magazine WPI Transformations. Lo and behold what appears on the cover but the headline "Sustainable Energy; Current Choices, Future Technologies". It's about time. Not only is this an area attracting the attention of the masses, but there are research funding decisions to be made. What technical institution can not overlook something technology based that provides an opportunity for government funding? I was reassured as a wide-eyed prospective student that WPI was not a research driven college, that professors were paid to teach and not publish. That may be true, but I am sure the college receives grant money for curriculum development and facility construction,and some research.

Articles in this issue address transportation, wind power, solar energy, and sustainable manufacturing. The major article, The Coming Energy Crisis? highlights a WPI graduate from 1968 and his career in energy and environmental technologies. What's the point? We need to invest in energy efficiency NOW and work on the clean technologies that will power the future.

The venerable New York Times also jumped on the post hurricane fervor over gasoline prices with this article, The New Prize: Alternative Fuels The author spent a good amount of time on ethanol (beware the trade propaganda!), a fuel derived from corn, to the delight of constituents in the Midwest, and already available in limited distribution around the country. This is a follow on to the article that appeared in the August 21 edition of the Times, The Breaking Point. If you want to read it, you will have to pay.

Before I go, I wanted to point out another problem with our transportation infrastructure, one that there may not be an answer for. If there is, it is not an easy one. I read the following passage in the NYTimes (I know, I need some more sources) over the weekend. The article was on the aftermath of Katrina and the failings in our Nation's response.
But the city's plan says that about 100,000 residents "do not have means of personal transportation" to evacuate, and there are few details on how they would be sheltered.
This reminds me that despite the fact that I'm paying close to $40.00 to fill the gas tank in my 1997 Toyota Camry, I can still do it. There are many people that can not.

Friday, September 09, 2005

End of Week Four at Seven Cycles

One month under my belt and many more to go. It has been an exciting transition. I am back in the bike business, a place I should have never left. I joined a small and growing company, where there will be opportunity for learning and growth. I am surrounded by people passionate about their work, and by the objects of so many people's desire. What could be better?

There was some anxiety when entering my new job. Will I like it? Will the people I met during the interview process be as accommodating and pleasant as they were in the interviews? Will I like the physical space? Will I fit? The answers are yes, yes, still adjusting, and starting to. My decision to join Seven Cycles was a good one. The thorough interview process provided me the opportunity to conduct my due diligence, coming to the conclusion that I would like to work there. It just so happens that they felt the same way.

It is another job transition, something that I gloss over as insignificant and easy. In truth, it can be difficult and challenging. There are many factors to manage and embrace, or at least come to terms with. There is a new daily schedule, logistical considerations, company cultural change, individual personalities, systems changes (how do I mail something?), food storage, personal space & time allocations, answering the phone, managing e-mail, notifying business & personal associates of the change, learning a new product line, and on and on. Notice that none of these things include what the duties of the job actually are. What are my performance expectations? What is my role within the company and how do I manage relationships within the company to fulfill my responsibilities? What about our customers and the industry I am switching to?

I am fortunate in that I spent three years in bicycle retail, time that allowed me to familiarize myself with the industry and make some connections. I am not starting from scratch, nor am I a veteran. When I take a step back to think about this transition in these terms, it is somewhat daunting, especially joining a small and well-respected growing company with aggressive goals in the challenging and somewhat chaotic trade show season. Interbike, the marquee industry event for the United States' bicycle industry is just around the corner, and there is much to be done in preparation for it.

In preparation for 2006, we successfully introduced at Eurobike. Our new Diamas was well received. We believe the response at Interbike will be positive as well.

The fact that I have been unable to log some serious bicycle mileage over the past three weeks has not helped my mental state. I have been unable to join my new co-workers on group rides, my solo rides to burn off excess energy are on hold, and my cyclocross training is in limbo. It's all a bit depressing. I should be thankful that I have the opportunity to gripe about this. I am not on the Gulf Coast.

We shall see how I feel in late October.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Paralysis by Analysis

I nearly forgot a dinner appointment with a friend this evening. I am off to it now. Thank god (non-denominational "god") he called before our meeting to ask where we were planning to meet, otherwise I would have been persona non grata. For all my blather about "sustainable this" and "locally produced that", we are meeting at a local chain called Not Your Average Joe's. Guess what? It's average.

I am glad we were able to get together and "rage to each other". I would not say rage in anger, but rage defined as passion. The conversation went as expected. We talked about resource scarcity, energy dependence, third world squalor, and inefficient land use patterns. Upon solving those world problems, we branched off into discussion about people's perception of energy costs, and how his business, Solar-Works, has received a fourfold increase in phone calls inquiring about alternative energy. Granted, the people calling would probably not install photovoltaics on their home, but the fact that they were calling is interesting. We rambled over to biking, and the outdoor industry employees sometimes blissful commitment to the outdoors through the use of equipment and transportation that is in and of itself less than stellar for the planet. I commute on a carbon fiber bike..at least I commute by bike. Ah, the hypocrisy of it all. There was some brief discussion about "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", and the search for Quality, The Good, Virtue, you know, all those concepts that have no absolute answer, though we wish they did. Not much time was spent here as the spiral could have easily deepened into insanity.

Paralysis by analysis anyone?

I found myself a bit emotional as he arrived. I was finishing up a phone call with my grandmother. It was her birthday. As I spoke with her, I began appreciating the value family brings to our lives. I grew up with my grandmother nearby, and once I moved away to the Boston area in 1995, I was further away from family than I had ever been. I am only two hours away by car, but for some people two hours is an insurmountable distance. My wife is in a similar situation, with some family in the mid-west and some here in the northeast. One of my concerns is that as fuel prices increase, the mobility we have enjoyed and taken so easily for granted, will slowly disappear. Families that spread themselves around the country, and in some cases around the world, will struggle to maintain the contact they need. Perhaps there will be a movement back to close knit families, where generations live within walking distance. We shall see.

Transportation costs lead to the inability for families to see each other as they have spread throughout the latter half of the 20th century. I had a conversation with a small business owner in Watertown about the rise in food costs. He was concerned that the rise in petroleum prices would have a serious effect on the way we live in general, not just to his business. If people pay more for energy, they have less to spend on other things. The woman working behind the counter chimed in with her concerns about global warming and environmental degradation. I have to admit, I was quite surprised at their thoughts.