Day 16: #30daysofbiking


I don’t know how the bike didn’t fall over when I backed up to take the picture. It was so windy I could see the trunk of the tree moving–just above the saddle.

One more day of the Twitter-promoted #30daysofbiking. First day of the year for the 2300–and I’ve been experimenting.

Last year I ran Profile Stoker 26 bars using a threadless stem on a riser, but the bars were low. So I bought a Nitto Dirt Drop stem with 100mm of reach. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the Dirt Drop (which doesn’t have a removable faceplate) around the bend of the Stoker.

Battling the impulse to order a Nitto Albatross handlebar like the one on the Schwinn Sports Tourer, I turned to the parts bin.

Hey, a pair of Cinelli Giro bars. Use a steel tire iron to open up the Dirt Drop a bit, and they slide right in.

What to use for levers? Well, not those mismatched large and small Shimano 105s. That would be goofy. But I do have a pair of Campys to go with the seatpost. Super.

Or Nuovo.

A zip tie around both brake housings, high above the stem, keeps the rear cable from flopping to the left before it enters the top tube. Finish the bars with a pair of Velox plugs, and I’m good to go.

One speed will do it. If the 2300 was a high wheeler, the front wheel would be 64 inches in diameter, 14 inches more than the wheel I rode when I owned the Kennedy ordinary. Last year I ran the bike as a fixed gear (no coasting); this year I installed a freewheel on the other side of the White Industries Eno Eccentric hub.

No need for a computer to calculate speed today. With bars this high, I might just have been faster had I headed out on foot, leaning into the breeze. But when I turned for home, I enjoyed more than a tailwind.

Let’s call it what it was: a Sailwind®.



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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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