September 6, 2009

License to Ride


I had to renew my car's registration this past month.  And after a little deliberation I decided to drop some money on a "Share the Road" license plate.  I mainly did so because the extra cost would be a contribution to the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.  I struggled a little with the irony of using a license plate to promote bicycling.  However, when I'm on my bike and I see cars with such license plates two things come to mind:

1.  I figure the driver is somewhat of a cyclist themselves and, as such, will be courteous and drive safely near me.

2.  I also wonder if they are wishing, like I do when I'm driving and pass someone cycling, they were riding their bike at that moment rather than sitting behind the wheel of a car.

Neither one of these assumptions are probably true all the time but it's nice to believe that they are.

In other bike related matters, the other day I came across this article via the blogosphere.  While somewhat inflammatory and confrontational, he makes some good observations about how the tendency to create artificial rules and standards can actually make cycling less accessible to the general public.  Of course I wear a helmet (and insist my kids do too) and recently spent a bit of money on a new bike so I'm a lousy bicycle advocate.  In some respects I think the article feels like the ultimate chatroom/forum "shut up and ride" comment.

In other bike related matters, I'm excited about the upcoming, second annual Spokefest.  This is one of my favorite new Spokane events as it follows the tradition of cramming lots of people into downtown and Riverfront Park, as mentioned in Out There Monthly.  I am considering riding The Big Dummy with my five year old on the back.  I need to do some fine tuning of the shifting cable for the Rohloff and make sure the little guy is up for the 21 mile ride first.  I'd love to get my girls to pedal the long route as well but am not sure that is in the cards this year.  Maybe next year.

Finally, I wanted to share a couple videos.

This first video is from a blog I've started following recently.  It's maintained by a photographer who is on an extended bike tour of the U.S. with his girlfriend.  He is very talented and does a great job documenting their adventures by both stills and video.  This video caught my imagination last week, both because of the great scenery of the San Juan Islands (Orcaas Island here) and its nicely chosen soundtrack by Modest Mouse from nearby Issaquah. - Riding on Orcas Island from Russ Roca on Vimeo.

The only thing I would change would be to make it longer so I don't have to keep pressing play.

This second video was forwarded to me by my Dad who just got back from a year in China.  I know China is crowded, but 16 people on one bicycle?  This kind of steals the show from all the other artistic cycling videos that have been bouncing around the blogosphere.

But I'd have to say, the time and dedication artistic cycling requires really limits its accessibility for the general population.  They're skilled gymnasts, but terrible bicycle advocates:)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. It made me chuckle. And I think the author is right in many ways about how cycling has been made into something of a fashion model sport with designer gear that people are expected to have. I really like thinking about the old German ladies who every day of the year ride their 25-year old Gazelle bicycles with a well broken in Brooks saddle to the market and go shopping. Those are some tough old birds. 70 and 80 year old women ride in their skirts and wool sweaters, with no gloves at all--and no helmets--in the dead of winter. Even if the rest of their bodies had withered with age, they always had great calves. I don't think they worry much about having the best gear.
    The video of the artistic cyclists was astounding and strangely humorous. Talk about a great sound track, eh? For some reason, I kept picturing you as part of that act. You could be the one that is tossed in the air to land at the top of the pyramid, or the one that hops from one rider's shoulders to the other. I really think you missed your calling; it's too bad your dad didn't show you this video when you were 10. It might have changed your life.