In Iowa City I could lock my bike with this chain:

Or, with these chains:

But in Brooklyn, I was told that I had better get something along these lines:

Wait. I am getting ahead of myself.

Where have I been? Why am I mentioning Brooklyn? What have I been doing?

Ohhh, nothing much….just getting a full time job with benefits and moving to New York City!

But so what, right? New York is, like, whatev…Readers want to know this: been riding?


Been skiing?


Been reading?

Yes: apartment listings in the BK (BK stands for Brooklyn. I am using this lingo because now I am so tight with my nabe).

Is that poor showing in all three areas gonna change?


Can do…just give me a few days. Right now I have to figure out how to sort the recycling in Brooklyn. Also, I just got told to move my bike from the stoop. It was more like bikes. None of my neighbors could climb over my heap of properly locked bikes.

Stay tuned for more Brooklyn adventures.


The Bicycle: Crime Destroyer or Freedom Machine?

A NYC bicyle policeman seizing a runaway horse, from "Collier's Weekly," 23 April 1896.

From this angle, it looks like he’s riding a Fuji, or maybe a Univega. But that would be impossible, no? Why am I interested in bikes and culture? Because I think that the bicycle ushered in the modern, technical, industrial age.

Two anecdotes.

David V. Herlihy reports in his excellent Bicycle: The History (Yale UP, 2004) that “perhaps the most important specialized use of the bicycle (during the turn of the century) was for police work. In 1896, New York City assigned bicycles to five officers who patrolled Central Park. The experiment proved so successful that the squad was soon expanded, and other cities, including Chicago and Buffalo, followed suit. Theodore Roosevelt, then a New York police commissionner, recalled the ‘extraordinary proficiency’ of the cyclist officers who reigned in runaway horses and chased down speed demons known as ‘scorchers.’ One officer even managed to catch up with a carriage as it fled a crime scene. To the great surprise of its occupant, the policeman vaulted from his bicycle into the vehicle and promptly made an arrest.”

Now it would be fair to say two things in regard to this wonderful paragraph. First, the police officer must have been insane, bored, or loaded–or all three. Second, the gear ratio must have been crushingly huge…I mean they had no derailleurs, so he must have been on a honking big chainring.

Nevertheless, it seems obvious that in this case, the bicycle was a means of maintaining peace and order: it was used to help THE MAN.

But check this out.

Herlihy also says that the bicycle gave speed to youths and to women. It gave to ordinary citizens freedom, utility, and pleasure. All these things sound a bit suspect to moi. Not only did it offer exercise and adventure, it offered escape for adolescents to meet in clandestine locations out of the range of parents. Herlihy says folks could “flee the commotion of the city and take refuge in the countryside.” Yeah right! It was a way for kids to flee parental supervision and neck. Bicycles = heavy petting! It was the beginning of the destruction of civilized order. In sum, the bike was against THE MAN.

You decide.



FEELING LITERARY: William Gibson and the future of bikes

Is this a bike book or a sci fi book with bikes in it?

FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE, I give you a glimpse into the future of bikes and messengering:

“Sometimes, when she rode hard, when she could really proj, Chevette got free of everything: the city, her body, even time. That was the messenger’s high, she knew, and though it felt like freedom, it was really the melding-with, the clicking-in, that did it. The bike between her legs was like some hyper-evolved alien tail she’d somehow extruded, as though over patient centuries; a sweet and intricate bone-machine, grown Lexan-armored tires, near-frictionless bearings, and gas-filled shocks. She was entirely part of the city, then, one wild-ass little dot of energy and matter, and she made her thousand choices, instant to instant, according to how th traffic flowed, how rain glinted on the street-car cracks, how a secretary’s mahogany hair fell like grace itself, exhausted, to the shoulders of her loden coat.

And she was starting to get that now, in spite of everything; if she just let go, quit thinking, let her mind sink down into the machinery of bone and gear-ring and carbon-wound Japanese paper

But Sammy Sal swerved in beside her, bass pumping from his bike’s bone-construction beatbox. She had to bunny the curb to keep from going over on a BART grate. her tires left black streaks as the particle-brakes caught, Sammy Sal braking in tandem, his Fluoro-Rimz strobing, fading.”

from Virtual Light by William Gibson (New York: Bantam, 1993).

Let’s analyze this.

• near frictionless bearings = √

• gas-filled shocks = √

But, where are these things?

• Fluoro-Rimz (with strobe lights!)

• speakers built into the material of the frame

• carbon-wound Japanese paper frames

• Lexan-armored tires

• particle brakes

OH, sweet future, sweet technological bliss, please come to me now!


Birkie/Korte 2010: What Went Wrong?


Scraps Near the Korte Finish Line.

First, let me hang my head in sadness. I did not win the Korte.

Second, let me add that I never promised to win.

Third, ’twas a beautiful day:

Just after the 1st Wave has left.

Fourth, I was harassed by three teenage 7th Wavers for 20 of my 23 kilometers. I got hung up in traffic on a hill, and could not catch them again. They beat me by about a minute….or so.

Fifth, without the wonderful company of these youngsters, without their camaraderie, without their cajoling, I would never have ripped it like I did. Thanks guys!

Sixth, I love the 7th Wave! Passing people is an art and an obligation. Proper technique and etiquette must be observed.

Seventh, I love Hayward and Cable, but most of all, I love Spooner!

Eighth, the flats were fast, but the hills were sugar and mashed potatoes and day-old rice. Pick your carbo analogy!

Ninth, you still don’t know how I did, do you?

Tenth, I clocked 1:22:40. That’s good for 12th out of 57 in my age group (40-44).  You can check the Iowa results here. Or, you can check the results here. So, that means that I crushed my goal of placing in the top half of my age category. And that means that you, my dear readers, must buy me that rib trophy that I mentioned a week ago. Huzzah! Did I mention 3:36 per km? Ker-pow!

Eleventh, back down on earth for a sec… the race was not an unmitigated success. I could have gone faster. I spent so much energy passing people, weaving in and out, stopping for falling skiers, that I really believe that I skied an extra 4 kilometers.

Twelfth, I have to thank my sponsors: Dot, Clara, Katie, Geoff’s Bike and Ski, the waxers. Then there’s my travel partner Brian–who kicked it live in the Birkie Classic: from 8th Wave to 2nd Wave–double Huzzah! Thanks to my training crew: Wayne, Hodge, Brett, Rock, Steve, Finn, Grant, Jason, and all the other Ski Punks at Ashton.

Thirteenth, I want to think Angler’s for being such a ski-friendly place:

Miss Birkie and Crew Operate the Shotski at Angler's

Fourteenth, don’t forget to put on the storage wax.

Fifteenth, how do I ride this thing in my garage with two skinny tires? What is it called again?

Sixteenth, forget the bike! I’m gonna get some v2 rollerskis and start training this weekend for next year.

Peace and Wisconsin Cheese,



A Picturesque Shack next to Telemark Lodge in Cable, Wisconsin. I recommend Telemark highly.

Hot and Fast at Telemark Lodge in Cable, Wisconsin.

The snow was a bit warm: 25 F.

The trail was very firm: you can use your tiny baskets.

The crowd was amped: and who wouldn’t be?

Brian and I took a 5 km spin to check wax.

And the results were confidence-building. In a word: DIALED!


But let’s talk competition:


It is hard my friends… my readers.

But you must drive toward the thing that makes you anxious. You must do so in order to conquer it. Mastering that which seeks to crush is the way to heaven…or to the finish line. I am not fast, I cannot sprint, I barely know how to V2, and I don’t know how to start with that churning mix of V1 and whatever. But I did it anyway. I was not trying to win. I was trying to put the hurt on mine enemy: anxiety.

And I made the podium: Third out of a field of three.

The roar of the crowd was deafening.

Bouuuyah! Did I spell that right?

I love skiing.

See you skater fakers. See you tomorrow Korte pretenders. I love you and I will crush you… in a kind and loving way.



Birkie Time!

Well folks, it is now time for the Birkie.

Or, in my case, the Korte.

If I can’t win–and I can’t–then I will try to score style points this weekend. I might go for Tord’s low-rider-skier look:

Maybe this look helped Tord come in 28th place in the pursuit

Or, I might just go for the low-rider-slider look:

What kind of wax do I use?

Or, if you really want to meld Biker to Skier…and yet take athleticism completely out of the picture….then you might consider this soon-to-be-an-Olympic sport: Motorsnowcling:

Motorsnowclists always recycle their oil and wax

I hope to have fresh stories and pics and vids soon.

Pax and Super Flouro Ski Wax!


Raw Rib Report #5: A Skier’s Lyric, Plus Some Press-Citizen OPINION Page Love

A Cross-Country Skier’s Lyric

My ribs took a beating at Ashton last night,

And now they really ain’t right

So, give me buckets of ice and beer: ah, true delight.

My back is broken and bruised, but don’t worry about me,

Lookie here, I have some white pills you see.

Some for you, some for me,  just don’t tell the IOC!

Olympic Action:

Forget ski cross and snowboard cross. The nordic sprints ARE the original CROSS!

My Recovery:

I did not take part in the Iowa City Ski Race Series Tuesday night, but I did ski on the same near-Olympic quality course. Four painful laps on perfectly groomed snow. Each lap more painful than the previous. 48 minutes of wincing pain. Well, wincing pain is not really that bad on the painometer.

Speaking of pain. Check out Petra Majdic, who, like me, bruised her back during a fall in the classic sprints on Wednesday and had to fight through the pain.

Petra Goes Way Off Piste

Of course there are some differences between her fall and mine. First, I fell while walking to my car. Second, I fell on my computer. Third, my pain was my own pain, not hers. But there key similarities: we were both going to work. I was about to get into my car and drive to Kirkwood Community College, and Petra was going to work on her skis–which is her job.

Tonight I will try for 5 laps. This should be a serious test. I hope to ski a consistent 4 minuter per km. pace. Fat chance!

I’M FAMOUS!…. in a small town sort of way.

Why? I got an opinion piece on skiing printed in the local paper, the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

Watch our Krugman, Friedman, Krauthammer, Dowd, et. al.

On the cultural front:

My sister lives in Brooklyn and sends me information on the world of kick-assedness. She turned me on to a Brooklyn artist called Santigold. She is marvelous. She rocks, She raps, she definitely deserves to be called a “Street Theorist”:

Santigold's Newest Release

Santigold is so good, so unavoidably cool, that I am almost willing to give you, my readers, a money back guarantee. Almost.

Later Skater,