Day 12: #30daysofbiking


What central Illinois lacks in hills, it makes up for in wind, especially in the spring when the weather is rushing around, trying to make up the mind it doesn’t have.

Spring? Winter? Combo plate of meteorological nonsense?

Today it was spring, with a sturdy breeze straight out of the south.

And this was the scene at the turnaround point, before pancakes and coffee.

Love the high-quality aluminum and stainless steel supports of the Arkel Big Bar Bag. In addition to making it easy to install and remove the bag, the aluminum of the supports pulls off the difficult trick of looking good even when the bag is off the tandem.

Ritchey makes a nice adjustable stem that lets me raise the bars without ruining the speedy lines of the bike.

And I thought I’d capture the stem-mounted Electra bell before I replace it with one from a Kickstarter project.

Another fine day in April.

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Thinking about a Bike Friday Haul-a-Day. And, cargo bikes from Texas

bystandersChoices are rarely black and white when it comes to bicycles. Say you want a cargo bike. Do you want a short wheelbase for maneuverability? Are you willing to give up a bit of carrying capacity to get it? Or do you want a long, low loading platform? If so, where are you going to park it?

That’s what makes cargo bikes so interesting–they come in wide variety of sizes and missions.

Click the link at the end of the next paragraph for pictures of one of Bike Friday’s newest designs, the Haul-a-Day, a cargo bike with 20-inch wheels front and back. The author already has a full-size Yuba Mundo, but is intrigued by the idea of a multimodal cargo bike, a bike that can be combined with train travel.

What would you do? Buy the Haul-a-Day or not? And if you buy it, do you keep the Mundo or sell it? (Tiny Helmets Big Bikes)

I’m used to reading about cargo bikes in the Pacific Northwest and the Netherlands. They’re scarce in the Peoria area. But I didn’t expect to hear anything about cargo bikes from Dallas. If you’re on a tight budget, and one-piece cranks work for you, you may find something of interest here. (Oak Cliff Cargo Bicycles)

Texas looks ready to encourage people to ride all kinds of bicycles–and not just in Austin, which I’ve come to think of as the Portland of the South. “Houston approved more than $100 million in bonds for bike trails. San Antonio plans to triple bikeable streets by 2020. Dallas unveiled plans to lay out a new network of 1,100 miles of bike lanes over the next decade. All of this is rooted in a very Texas kind of reason: City leaders realize bike lanes are good for business.” (NPR)

Closer to home, Chicago plans to add five miles of protected bike lanes and 15 miles of buffer-protected bike lanes this summer and another 30 miles of bicycle projects between the end of the year and 2015. (Chicago Tribune)


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Day 6: #30daysofbiking


Continuing the Twitter-promoted goal of riding every day in April. Today: First day in shorts and second day riding with a friend.

Could this be the highest handlebar bag ever? My apologies to the randonneurs in the audience.

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Day 3: #30daysofbiking


It’s a Twitter thing. Ride every day in April. Doesn’t matter how far or for what. And today, it wasn’t far. Still, it was nice to have a flock of geese for an audience.

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Rolling without roll with Paul Fournel

photo (2)Need for the Bike
by Paul Fournel
translated by Allen Stoekl
Bison Books, copyright 2003, 150 pgs., $15

When I worked as a bicycle mechanic in Champaign, Illinois, I had a pleasant commute over well-connected residential streets. I was in decent shape, though I no longer thought of myself as a racer.

It was the opposite of a training loop. It was a direct route, punctuated on those mornings I had money by a stop for a bottomless cup of coffee and one hefty cinnamon roll. There was always a Chicago Tribune at the restaurant, and there was always something to read.

When I moved back to Peoria, I gave up the cinnamon roll. But the damage had already been done. And I began to reach for the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, the Tribune having begun its decline with a change in ownership and the loss of staff members, page width and confidence.

Today, thanks to the Internet, I plan ahead for reading material from the physical world–pick up a paper at Starbucks for the weekend’s breakfast rides or set aside Wooden Boat or Midwest Living magazine for the same purpose.

Yes, I still ride to read. And this year, should I be without newspaper or magazine, I plan to pull a small, over-square book out of my handlebar bag: Need for the Bike. Even though it’s a book about bicycling, which is not my favorite topic when engaged in the same practice and even though I’ve already read it.

Twice. In one evening.

Why this book? Because this is as close as I’ll come to riding with the author. An author who writes delightful half-coffee-cup chapters: two to three to four pages on whatever the next subject happens to be.

Read a few pages, get a warm-up on the java and plunge right back in. The author may have a competitive streak on the road, but he is an author nonetheless. As you drink your coffee and consider how nice it would be to have just one forbidden cinnamon roll, he rides in circles inside his book, patiently waiting for you to reappear and continue the conversation.

And it is a conversation. I used to race—used to think racing was important and that people who raced were the best riders there were. This book reminds me of long-ago exchanges before, during and after our training rides. I miss the stop-sign sprints, but I miss the words more.

On the other hand, who starts a book with chapters on crashes, doorings, doctors and stabbing oneself in the thigh with one’s shift lever? Who starts a book with this paragraph?

“I remember the dog very well. It was a yellow dog, a boxer. I remember I was the last to see him alive because I was the one who hit him.”

Paul Fournel, that’s who. And if you don’t care for the first few chapters—remember, they are very short—hang around. Fournel has other stories. This is a book of the sounds of riding a bicycle, of smells, of an old velodrome that the author summons out of nothing and returns to nothing within two-and-a-half pages.

This is also a book translated from French. Though if I knew French, I still don’t think I’d understand his shortest chapter, Maniac:

 “A little while ago I noticed that for thirty years I had been happily mounting my bike by raising my right leg and passing it over the saddle.

 “Since then I do it with the right leg over, then the left.”

 Or what he meant when he wrote “my son isn’t a cyclist, but he rides a bike very well.”

Maybe it’s the translation, maybe I’m not paying enough attention to the text. Maybe I need to open the book again on the next breakfast ride. Whatever. If there is the occasional mystery, there are many more rewards to be found from the man who’d “like to grow old as a cyclist.”

“Already I don’t go as fast as before, but since I threw my speed to the four winds and never transformed it into bouquets or checks, it still lurks in the air of the mountains, and I breathe it in like an old perfume.”

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Katy, Rock Island, Greenway trails unaffected by Supreme Court rails-to-trails ruling

Knoxville overpass will link Pioneer Park area with Peoria Heights and points south.

Knoxville overpass will link Pioneer Park area with Peoria Heights and points south.

Yesterday, I mentioned the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States and how it could affect a good portion of the rails-to-trails movement, especially out West.

The obvious question, then, is how does that affect the trail near you?

According to a post by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, “Existing rail-trails or trail projects ARE NOT affected by this decision if ANY of the following conditions are met:

  1. The rail corridor is ‘railbanked.’
  2. The rail corridor was originally acquired by the railroad by a federally granted right-of-way (FGROW) through federal lands before 1875.
  3. The railroad originally acquired the corridor from a private land owner.
  4. The trail manager owns the land adjacent to the rail corridor.
  5. The trail manager owns full title (fee simple) to the corridor.
  6. The railroad corridor falls within the original 13 colonies.”

You’ll want to read the entire article, here.

I was interested in three multipurpose paths: the Katy Trail that spans the state of Missouri; the Rock Island Trail that runs from northern Peoria to Wyoming, Illinois; and the Peoria Park District Rock Island Greenway, which, when complete, will link the older Rock Island Trail through Peoria to the Bob Michel Bridge, the gateway to East Peoria and Morton for people on foot and bicycles.

I contacted Trail Development and TrailLink Coordinator Eli Griffen of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy about the status of these trails. Here’s the reply I received.

“The bulk of the Katy Trail was railbanked in 1987, with additional portions railbanked more recently. Full title for the Rock Island Trail was acquired by Peoria’s Forest Park Foundation in 1965 and later transferred to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“Because the Supreme Court ruling neither affects railbanked trails nor trails where the trail manager has acquired full title, both of these popular trails are protected from this ruling.”

As far as the Greenway is concerned, Eli said, “I am not too familiar with the details of the project, but I don’t think the status is any different. It appears that the City of Peoria acquired full title to the corridor in 1984.”

So far, so good, at least if your purview is limited to central Illinois. To check the status of your local rail to trail, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy suggests contacting the manager of the trail or emailing the Conservancy itself at

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That’s it, no more calling Justice Stephen Breyer a bicyclist, Atlantic Cities

20131108-165837.jpgThe U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States that could affect a good portion of the rails-to-trails movement.

Given that dissenting opinions have historically been as interesting the majority opinions, here’s what lone dissenter Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote about the decision: “The court undermines the legality of thousands of miles of former rights of way that the public now enjoys as means of transportation and recreation. And lawsuits challenging the conversion of former rails to recreational trails alone may well cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.” (Atlantic Cities)

The court’s decision isn’t all bad news (though, say, outside of the Cato Institute it’s pretty awful). An official statement from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy says, “Those rail-trails that have been built on rail-banked corridors or fee simple land purchases will remain safe.” However, the decision does threaten “existing rail-trails, mainly in the West, that utilize federally granted rights-of-way and are not railbanked.” (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy)

Indianapolis looks ready to build on the success of its downtown Cultural Trail, and it’s getting some help. “The PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project has selected six new U.S. cities to join its intensive two-year program to build better bike lanes. Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, Denver, CO, Indianapolis, IN, Pittsburgh, PA and Seattle, WA will receive financial, strategic and technical assistance to create low-stress streets and increase vitality in urban centers through the installation of protected bike lanes.” (PeopleForBikes)

Protected bicycle lanes—lanes separated from motorized traffic—aren’t anything new. Here’s an article on the “forgotten U.S. protected bike lane boom of 1905.” Have to say, that image of Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway in 1894 is really appealing. (PeopleForBikes)

old ivw logo

Mike Honnold just took the wraps off an online collection of Peoria-area Illinois Valley Wheelm’n newsletters that goes back to the 1970s. He’s still working on links for the 2000s and 2010s, but says “it is an awesome historical record of our club and goes to show that while many things have changed through the years, a lot has stayed the same.”
(IVW Newsletter Archive)

Interesting article on how Buenos Aires reimagined Avenida 9 de Julio, its “monument to cars.” Cutting the number of travel lanes and adding dedicated bus lanes reduced travel times for all street users. The article also mentions that the city has added 130km of bike lanes, somewhere. (Atlantic Cities)

It’s a Brompton and a recumbent. It’s the Neuss-B, a “not completely ideal but an interesting bike.” (Seven League Boots)

Nice little gear calculator for the Brompton. Select your chainring, rear sprocket, tire and hub, and it spits out your choice of gear inches, development in meters, or speed at 70 crank revolutions per minute in both miles and kilometers per hour. (Brompton Gear Calculator)

The bicycle from the movie “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” just sold for $36,000. (The previous owner paid $10,000.) I know, I know—you could buy some really nice bikes for that kind of money. That’s what everybody says. But you could also buy 4,235 copies of the DVD, and if you’re an Amazon Prime customer, enjoy free shipping. What say you about that? (USA Today)

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