Archive for the 'Funny stuff' Category


Jun 13, 2008

WADA works on new test for performance-enhancing drug


In May, Cyclingnews.com reported that pro racing cyclists have started to experiment with a new drug, Sildenafil. This is not currently on the World Anti-doping Agency’s prohibited substances list. It was developed to improve blood circulation but was later found to have performance-enhancement uses.

A 2006 study published by the Journal of Applied Physiology (JoAP) and reported in Science Daily claimed that the drug can significantly enhance performance at altitude in some cyclists. However, WADA is not thought to be in favour of banning Sildenafil.

The JoAP study tested 69 trained cyclists at sea level and in an altitude chamber stimulating 12,700 feet (3870 m) above sea level. No benefit was gained at sea level, but the Sildenafil group improved its performance over a six kilometre time trial at altitude by 15 percent over the group given a placebo.

WADA’s spokesman Frédéric Donzé confirmed that the drug is not banned in competition, but said that the agency is looking into the matter.

“WADA is aware of the high altitude study presented in Science Daily. WADA monitors this substance, as it does with many other substances, and is currently funding a research project on the performance-enhancing potential of Sildenafil at various altitudes.”

Should a ban be forthcoming, which commentators say is likely, WADA is working on a non-invasive testing technique. After races, the first three finishers would be lined up for a ‘visual’ test. Sildenafil’s commercial name is Viagra and WADA scientists believe it will be simple to see which cyclists have taken the drug.

polskawillies

Thanks to doctors Young and Smith for additional reporting on this story.



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Apr 25, 2008

Yehuda Moon will be an e-book soon


yehudabook

Fans of Yehuda Moon rejoice, the US bike strip will soon be available in book form. Moon creator Rick Smith, a web developer at an insurance company, is going to publish two books a year, allowing cyclists to have an offline repository of the goings on at the warm and quirky Kickstand Cyclery.

“I will have the first six months worth of strips published using a print-on-demand service in July, and then every six months after that,” Rick told me.

“The proofs I’ve received look great.”

yehudarick

Just so you don’t miss any episode in the run-up to July, send your RSS aggregator over to the Yehuda Moon feed. And think about becoming a patron via PayPal. Kudos is great, but cash is more concrete. Dixon Ticonderoga pencils ain’t free, you know.

Rick agreed to answer some questions (I didn’t push him on the beard).

Why ‘Yehuda’ as a name?
Yehuda Moon was a name I never attached to a character, though I came up with the name back in 1990 or so. In high school and college I did a comic strip where one of the characters had the last name of Moon… but Yehuda Moon just waited quietly until the time was right. Yehuda is a Jewish name and Moon is a Korean name… there’s no logic here. It rolls off the tongue and there are no vowels, so no confusion when telling others about the comic or the character.

You ever worked in a bike shop?
I haven’t, but I’m a lurker. I’ve been in many shops, listening. I’ve visited the local shops often enough to see customers, get a feel for how the mechanics work and what customer service is like. I like to see how easy it is to pick up the bicycles on the floor and sit on them. I like to see what the ebb and flow of foot traffic is - on a weekly basis and on a seasonal basis. When I get my bike serviced, I walk behind the counter and watch and learn. Most mechanics are willing to let this happen. The bike shops I have visited are largely friendly, warm places.

What kind of cycling do you do?
I commute 24 miles round trip to work daily, just about every day of the year. I skipped a few days this winter when it was icy and below 10 degrees. I have an idea that I’d like to get a single speed and go on speedy jaunts around town on the weekends but I find that I’m too busy. I like to go bike camping as well.

Carbon or steel?
Steel. And lugs. I rode an aluminum frame for six months and couldn’t take it. Each bump in the road made the frame feel anemic and feeble. Carbon frames feel like a paper clip to me. Steel is solid (though heavy), and it absorbs the potholes Cleveland throws at me on each ride. It feels silky when you ride it. I haven’t tried titanium.

Do you wear a helmet or a cap?
Just a cap. I stopped wearing a helmet over a year ago. The scare tactics just stopped working and the idea that a piece of styrofoam was going to protect me in a fall didn’t fly anymore. All I saw was emotional anecdotal evidence. It feels great. I’m more careful, more balanced when riding, and it doesn’t sound like a leaf blower is blowing in my ear on descents.

Who are you, Yehuda or Joe, or neither?
Yehuda, though I hope I’m not as boldly zealous in my efforts to encourage others to ride for transportation. Yehuda comes on strong, but he can because he’s a comic character, and he has Joe to keep him in check.

Where do the ideas stem from?
A colleague and I would have spirited conversations about our differing views on bicycles, bicycling, equipment, accessories, helmets, and more at work after we both commuted in. The strips aren’t taken directly from these conversations, but the spirit of the relationship between Joe and Yehuda comes from these worldly interactions.

Why did you start such a strip?
There were so many things happening to me on the ride each day. Or things that I imagined could happen on the ride each day. Combined with the conversations between Joe and Yehuda in the shop, I figured that there was enough material to constitute a comic. I waited until I had finished 30 or 40 strips before showing anyone, since I thought maybe the interest would peter out or I’d run out of things to say. It didn’t happen so I kept drawing.


Was the strip born in January 2008 or did Yehuda have a life prior to that?

The first strip was published January 26, 2008 online; it was the January 22, 2008 strip (I posted the first five comics at the same time).

Is there something about bike shops that make a better strip than, say, a hi-fi shop?
Small businesses that cater to niche audiences often seem similar. The obscure knowledge, the infighting between cliques, the laser-like focus on accoutrements - all contribute to the stereotype of the cult-like small business serving a specialized need. A comics colleague wrote saying that although he had never stepped foot in a bike shop, the shop scenes reminded him of the comic book shops he’d been in and that he could relate to what was going on in the panels.

What other strips have you done in the past?
I drew Shuck the Sulfurstar from 2001 - 2006. There were six self-published comic books and Top Shelf Productions put out the collected graphic novel for me in 2004. Then I drew a graphic travelogue of my trip to Morocco in 2000. After that I worked with Damon Hurd on a book called ‘Temporary’. Damon describes it best: “Every day Envy St. Claire is someone else - sitting at someone else’s desk, drinking someone else’s coffee, talking to someone else’s friends, doing someone else’s job, living someone else’s life. But only for a day. Everything in Envy’s life is temporary, and that’s just how she likes it.”

That was a fun project and it had some traction in Hollywood for awhile, which was a good learning experience.

How much of a culture of cycling is there in Cleveland, Ohio?
I’m not sure. From what I understand there’s a strong co-op downtown. I see a lot more cyclists on the roads now that it’s warmer (and more than I did last year as well). There are club rides that pass me or that I see across the boulevard on my way into work. A bunch of Bike Forum folks seem to herald from these parts. I ride alone, mostly (but always wave).

Have you ever painted lines on a road to make a cycle lane?
No, but I really, really want to on the two roads in my town mentioned in the strip. These roads are one and a half lanes wide and the cars always try to make two lanes out of them, thus pushing bikers off the road. Adding a bike lane would clear everything up for everyone - and save these roads from becoming the thoroughfares drivers have turned most roads into (just the line between points A and B).

Think it would work?
Yes, so long as they were painted straight and all necessary precautions were taken into consideration (where to end them, etc.) This is what does Yehuda in. He runs out of the paint midway into the project, doesn’t paint them straight, and really - doesn’t prepare anyone for their arrival. I’m going to return to this story and have him attempt to go about doing it the right way (with city planners, getting petition signatures). However, I wrote the following to a reader:

“Yehuda’s a misguided advocate, though his heart is in the right place when he wants to carve out a piece of the asphalt for cyclists. He sees a time in the not-so-distant future when automobiles own the road (completely), and travel on them at speeds above 35mph regularly. This will leave no room on the roads for cyclists, thus relegating them to the ghetto that is the bike path - that recreational disaster that meanders and never transports its commuters to their destination in a timely fashion. Painting the bike lanes just staves off the inevitable for a bit longer.”

yehudamoondotcom3

Yehuda seems to cycle in all weathers. That common?
It’s not. From November to April, I see almost no other bicyclists on the road.

Yehuda is a utility cyclist on a utility bike. Normal for America?
Not in Cleveland. You’ll see recreational bicyclists on ‘hybrids’ cruising along bike paths at 6mph. Or you’ll see bibbed roadies cracking the sound barrier on country roads where they’ve driven their bikes so they won’t have to interact with the cars. Bikes for transportation? Nope.

Are there more Yehuda’s being made every day? ie utility cyclists.
I’ve seen more cyclists on the road this year. But whether they’re biking to work or school or the grocery store… not sure. I don’t see racks or bags and certainly don’t see lights or fenders. But I think that’s because they’re not for sale where the average consumer shops. They’d buy them if they could and were told to.

What bikes does Kickstand Cyclery stock?
The shop sells a city bike: the Van Sweringen; a randonneuse: the Coventry; and a line of road and racing bikes called the Rapid. They are built by a reclusive, resurgent group of Shakers.

Ever had your bike stolen (and wished you could hit the thief with a u-lock?)
When I was ten, a 20 year old picked me and my bike up, shook me off and rode off. Never saw it again. I lost a beach cruiser for about four hours when I was 20. It had been swiped from the back deck and the police picked up a 10 year old riding it on the street. They thought it looked odd for someone that small riding a 61cm frame.

How you coming along with the patrons?
Fine. The patrons are amazing people and I am so glad they believe in my endeavor and enjoy the comic. Their contributions have made it much easier to consume ink and paper at the rate that I do.

What’s coming up for Yehuda and Joe?
There will be a segment on bike camping. There will be more commuting high-jinks. There will be more customer interactions at the Kickstand. Look for the ‘Bike Whisperer’, ‘New Old Parts’, more ‘Carbon Copy’, and ‘Dateline Mom’, and others.

How do you do the strips? Hand draw and then colour on the computer? PC or Mac?
I draw the strips with a Dixon Ticonderoga pencil on 2-ply bristol board after sketching out a plot and then working on dialogue. Then I ink the panels with a Pentel brush pen and erase the pencil lines that are left over. I scan the strip into the computer, then color it using Photoshop. After, I save out as a web image and publish to the web site. Later, I make a copy for use in the printed book. All this on a PC.

The Lauterbrunnental Leaflet looks kinda familiar…
I bought every issue of the Rivendell Reader from a seller on eBay. The Reader changed me as a bicyclist. There are so many others who should read the Reader. The Lauterbrunnental Leaflet was a gentle jab at the wonder that comes with each issue, as well as some of the obsessiveness of Riv members.

yehudamoondotcom2

If you don’t mind me saying so you (and Yehuda) ride an odd bike. Was it a stock item in the bike shop or special order?
The Dutch Azor Mechanic’s Series 108 model seemed perfect. It was lugged steel (for comfort and strength), had sturdy and weather-resistance components (for Cleveland weather), fenders, lights and rack installed, an internal hub (for ease of maintenance), and I liked the look of it (with little to no seat-post showing). It’s heavy, but it has yet to fail me… and Cleveland winters are rough. I used Rivendell’s method for measuring what frame is appropriate for your height, ordered the bike online and crossed my fingers. And it worked!

yehudamoondotcom

Do you have a favourite strip? Mine are ‘And Miss This?‘ And ‘Told you Bicycles are Dangerous‘ and ‘Biking, Driving Everywhere‘.
Not really. Tomorrow’s, maybe?



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Apr 14, 2008

Bell on bikes




Kinnell. Dunno a blind werd ‘e sez, but once you’ve got yer ‘ead round his Scouse dialect, you’ll find Tony Bell’s 2004 after dinner speech to a Welsh cycling club to be the gear. Rude, mind.

Use this Scouser dictionary to understand the former columnist for Cycling Weekly. Forgive the camera shakes, the videographer was probably on the scoop.

You learn something every day. For instance, I’ve learned that crogger is Scouse dialect for bagging a backie, ie cadging a lift on your mate’s bike saddle.



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Apr 01, 2008

GM-Specialized spoof fools some, not others




In cahoots with three other bike bloggers I posted a story to BikeBiz.com last night, a couple of minutes into April 1st.

The piece was headlined ‘GM takes Specialized back into all-American ownership.’

Some may have smelled a rat but their doubts might have been squashed by the brilliant hijacking of the San Jose Business Journal by Fritz. A lot of blogs posted the ‘news’, some were incredulous, others fell for it hook, line and sinker.

The piece was forwarded to lots of industry types. I sent out a BikeBiz newsflash at 12.05am and, almost immediately, started getting ‘wow, this is big news’ emails from industry bigwigs.


Bicycleretailer.com wasn’t fooled but, deliciously, Bike Europe was. Their story has now been taken down but I can see from Google (which itself had an April 1st prank) that for a wee while it read:

Bike Europe - News: Car Maker Buys Specialized Bicycles

With Specialized General Motors intends to create: New transportation choices … Car Maker Buys Specialized Bicycles. DETROIT, USA - The world’s largest …

This spoof was cooked up by Fritz, Tim, Arleigh and myself. [UPDATE: SGB Update swallowed the bait also!]

The BBC ran the penguin spoof at the top of the site (it’s funny and must have taken a lot of CGI work) and MotorTrader of the UK tried its hand at a bicycle-related spoof (all about a new MG Rover bicycle made in China), but let itself down with the spokesperson’s name, April Furst. Puh-lease! Not that our Flora Lopi was much better.

Want to wrap your alu frame in carbon-fibre? It loses weight in the process, spoofs Bikeradar.com.

Sadly, there can be no more spoofs from Sheldon Brown but here’s one of his best, The RealMan Saddle.



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Mar 26, 2008

Cut up by a car? Carve your name on the side


Not on a lovely metal car, of course, one of these wooden ones:



Udo Haase, a wood carver from Kiel in Germany, created a 1:1 replica of a Mercedes 300 SL last year and then went and trumped it by later making a Ferrari 250 GTO.

Unlike the beasties with engines, these two benign vehicles can’t go very fast. But, should making cars out of wood catch on, at least we could punish any bad driving by using an Olympic-style parabolic mirror to let the driver know he’s upset us.

Mind you, that could inflame, ahem, the war between cyclists and motorists. There are now so many wooden bikes, a special splintering-and-burning clause would have to be placed in Bike Snob NYC’s proposed peace treaty between cyclists and motorists.



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Mar 25, 2008

Save the planet: cycle into the sun




Now, if only US eco-retailer Gaiam could scale up this solar reflector and attach it to a real bike…

“Swivel the adjustable solar panel on this unique lamp toward any direct light source and watch as its artful bike rider instantly starts pedaling toward a sun-powered future.Whether you turn on its conventional lamp to provide illumination or simply place it in a sunny spot as a fascinating mechanical object d’art, it puts the promise of solar power on creative display.”

Mind you, as it stands, this is a cute, planet-friendly gizmo for your windowsill. A snip at only 49 bucks!



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Mar 25, 2008

Clarkson lover fries his undercrackers


As video virals go, the one below is a belter. It’s laugh-out-loud funny.

The anti-hero is a fat, sexist, conservation-hating, energy-wasting SUV driver who shouts at cyclists (“check this out, loser!”), pollutes for fun and wears a t-shirt that says ‘Polar bears, who cares?’



And it’s all to promote Energy Wasting Day. Fantastic bit of reverse psychology. Literally: Mr Dan Power drives backwards into a recycling container.

Another of Mr Power’s t-shirts reads ‘Polar bears are gay’. He reckons anybody who doesn’t drive a ‘chick magnet’ SUV is a “woman or a child.”

The viral was produced for the Climate Group, an eco-charity.

The Climate Group has some big-budget backers, such as M&S, Tescos, Sky TV and More Than.

Naturally, they’re all plugging their ‘eco-friendly’ not-so-conspicious-consumption products such as online car mileage monitors, planet-friendly kettles and other such green-tinged goodies. Sadly, there are no bikes on display. Corporations like to do their bit for the planet but truly encouraging customers out of their cars is not something that’ll catch on. Until the oil runs out, that is.



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Mar 07, 2008

‘Steal cable’: security product or invitation?


The Daily Reveille, a student newspaper produced for Louisiana State University, reports on a spate of bike thefts on campus, confirming that bike crime in uni towns is endemic.


“A thick, metal chain looped around Jarrad Rolon’s bicycle three times. The lock wrapped around the bike’s frame and wheels, tightly securing his bike to the stairwell near his third-floor residence in East Campus Apartments.

But the key lock was not enough to stop thieves from swiping the mechanical engineering sophomore’s bike.”

However, article author Nicholas Persac has made a juicy spelling mistake:

“Dakre Simmons, manager of The Bicycle Shop on Highland Road near campus, said there are two main types of bicycles locks - steal cables and u-locks.”

He ought to steel himself for a riposte from his editor. Boom-boom.




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Mar 03, 2008

“How long have you been playing bike, Frank?”


The motoring media has been lovingly reporting on the Car Music Project, a band that plays music on instruments made from car parts. Composer Bill Milbrodt’s musical instruments can now be seen on TV ads for Ford. Milbrodt has been likened to the late great Frank Zappa.



But where Milbrodt plays car, Zappa played bike.

Zappa was way ahead of his time. His first TV appearance - sans his famous facial hair - was in 1963 on the iconic US chatshow The Steve Allen Show. Zappa was given 20 minutes of primetime to play two bicycles, much to the amusement of Allen and the studio audience.





ZAPPA: I believe that a lot of people have actually played bicycles from time to time. When they’re young they take a piece of cardboard and a clothes pin, attach it to the rear wheel and when it goes around it makes that noise and you’re playing a bicycle.

ALLEN: How long have you been playing bike, Frank?

ZAPPA: About two weeks.

ZAPPA: It’s similar to the effect of the uh, cardboard and the clothespin.

ALLEN: Like the uh, steel drums of Jamaica and uh, Trinidad . . .

ZAPPA: And you can also bang on the frame, and if you’re lucky enough to have a bicycle that has a squeaking seat, you can squeak the seat.



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Feb 25, 2008

Cycling in swimming pools and other crimes




I’ve just been updating the CYCLING AND THE LAW section of Bikeforall.net.

Check out the definitions of footway, footpath and cycle track. Confused? You will be. And how about the legislation covering the crime of “riding furiously”? You can’t be nicked for speeding, but smash into somebody when doing so and you’re in trouble.

Bikeforall.net readers also wanted clarification on the laws of whether you can get drunk and ride a bike. You sort of can, but it’s not to be recommended. Beer-goggles and bicycles do not mix. However, the clarity of the following might be improved after a swift half:


“In the UK, you can be fined for riding a bicycle whilst drunk (Road Traffic Act), but if you are found to be drunk whist pushing a bicycle you can be sent to prison for one month (Licencing & Planning Act).”

The last bit is true but as that arcane law also forbids public intoxication of any sort and says being drunk in charge of a horse, cow or steam engine incurs a £200 fine and possibly jail for up to 51 weeks, it’s clearly never enforced today. So, it can go in the long list of bicycle- and car-related dumb laws across the world. Such as?


NO DIVE-BOMBING…NO BICYCLING
It is illegal to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool in California.


BLINDFOLD
In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle.


LONE SPEED
In California, no vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour.


WET
In Cathedral City, Ca., persons may not ride their bicycles through the ‘Fountain of Life’
.

TAXI!
It is illegal to flag down a taxi in London if you have the plague.
If you haven’t got the plague, and you flag down a taxi, make sure it has a bale of hay in it. And a sack of oats. Hackney carriages - once pulled by horses, not driven by bicycle-hating buffoons - are also supposed to be tethered when at taxi ranks, and councils have to provide water troughs at taxi stands.

PISH POSH
Want to relieve yourself in public and not be touched by the long arm of the law? Wee up against the wheel of a Hackney carriage. But, by gads, make sure it’s the back wheel closest to the pavement!

BMXers BEWARE
In Wisconsin, don’t do any look-no-hands stuff. Or any sort of “fancy riding”:
“Persons may not ride a bicycle with their hands off the handlebars. No bicycle shall be allowed to proceed in any street in the city by inertia or momentum with the feet of the rider removed from the bicycle pedals. No rider of a bicycle shall remove both hands from the handlebars or practice any trick or fancy riding in any street in the city…”

NO JAZZ
But it’s OK to ride with at least one hand in New Orleans.
“Sec. 154-1414. One-handed steering. Every rider of a bicycle, tricycle or other vehicle propelled by hand or foot must keep at least one hand on the handlebars of his machine when riding it.”

TRIP HAZARD
When in the dead centre of town, don’t leave your bike leaning against a tree in Destin, Florida.
“No person shall ride a bicycle on the grounds or property of any city cemetery. A bicyclist shall be permitted to park a bicycle outside the fenced area of any city cemetery in order for the bicyclist to attend a funeral service, visit a grave site, or attend any other ceremony or service. However, no bicyclist shall leave a bicycle lying on the ground or paving, or set against trees, or in any place or position where other persons may trip over or be injured by it.”

According to this report, there are more than 4,000 Public and General Acts, 11,000 Local Acts and 13,000 Private Acts dated before 1801 which are still on the British statute books.



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