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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa - July 20-26, 2014

RAGBRAI, The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. Heading into its 42nd year, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world.
In the beginning, no one imagined that RAGBRAI would become the Iowa tradition it is now.  We at The Des Moines Register thank all the riders who have joined us over the years.  We especially wish to thank the thousands and thousands of volunteers in the towns we’ve visited along the way for their tireless work to show RAGBRAI riders the hospitality that has made our ride world famous.
We encourage you to follow the application procedures and come along only if you are accepted as a registered rider.  It is crucial that we keep our number of riders at the level suggested by the Iowa State Patrol and the Iowa Department of Transportation for the safety of all riders.  We thank you for your cooperation.
For those of you who have never ridden, this rolling celebration of Iowa attracts participants from all 50 states and many foreign countries.  It has covered thousands of miles through the years, and hundreds of thousands of riders have hopped in the saddle to pedal part of those miles.
RAGBRAI is a bicycle ride, not a race.  It started in 1973 as a six-day ride across the state of Iowa by two Des Moines Register columnists who invited a few friends along.  It is held the last full week in July.  RAGBRAI is planned and coordinated by The Des Moines Register, and riders who participate in RAGBRAI understand that they do so at their own risk.
The RAGBRAI route averages 468 miles and is not necessarily flat.  It begins somewhere along Iowa’s western border on the Missouri River and ends along the eastern border on the Mississippi River.  We change the route each year and announce the overnight towns in late January at the RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party, in The Des Moines Register and on our website.
Eight Iowa communities along the RAGBRAI route serve as “host” communities for overnight stays. RAGBRAI is a guest in these communities and we ask our riders to behave as such.
The people of Iowa truly make RAGBRAI the special event that it is by opening up their towns and communities to participants. We hope you can enjoy this Iowa hospitality and join us for a memorable trip across the state.
In the beginning, when a few friends got together for a casual bike ride across Iowa in 1973, no one imagined that a tradition would be born, let alone that it would become the longest, largest and oldest bicycle touring event in the world.

John Karras
John Karras
RAGBRAI’s Beginnings & The First Year
August 26-31, 1973
The Register’s bicycling tradition began with an idea (a kind of a challenge) between Des Moines Register feature writer/copy editor John Karras, an avid bicyclist, and Don Kaul, author of The Des Moines Register’s “Over The Coffee” column. Karras suggested to Kaul that he ride his bicycle across Iowa and write columns about what he saw from that perspective. Kaul, also an accomplished rider, lived in Washington, D.C., and wrote his column from The Register’s Washington Bureau.
Kaul liked the idea but issued the challenge that he would ride across Iowa if Karras rode with him. Karras agreed and the plan was approved by the managing editor. Coordination of the ride was assigned to Don Benson, public relations director, and the RAGBRAI trio was formed. Benson served as coordinator of the ride until his retirement in 1991, when Jim Green took over the duties.
Don Kaul
Don Kaul
Kaul and Karras then invited ‘a few friends’ (the public) to ride along. The route was laid out on maps and readers were told that the ride would start in Sioux City on August 26 and end on August 31 in Davenport. Overnight stops were scheduled in Storm Lake, Fort Dodge, Ames, Des Moines and Williamsburg. (Year One’s overnight towns had the largest average population of any RAGBRAI through RAGBRAI XXIV.) The ride was informally referred to as ‘ The Great Six-Day Bicycle Ride’ and was scheduled to tie in with a Register and Tribune circulation sales meeting in Des Moines.
Because the readers were only given six weeks notice before the late-August ride, response was light, which may have been fortunate since the route had not been driven prior to the ride and no camping arrangements had been made. Don Benson had made motel reservations for himself, Kaul and Karras, because, after all, it was their ride. Motel operators along the way and the Naval Reserve Center in Des Moines came to the rescue of the riders by letting them pitch tents on their lawns.
An estimated 300 people showed up for the start of the ride in Sioux City. By actual count, 114 riders made the entire distance that first year. The number swelled to 500 riders on the stretch of the route between Ames and Des Moines.
Among the many interesting people the ride attracted was Clarence Pickard of Indianola. This 83-year-old gentleman, who hadn’t ridden a bicycle much in recent years, showed up for that first ride with a used ladies Schwinn and rode all the way to Davenport, including the 100 degree plus day from Des Moines to Williamsburg, a 110-mile trek. Pickard’s attire for the ride was a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, woolen long underwear and a silver pith helmet.
Kaul’s and Karras’ articles and columns about Pickard, and points of interest along the way were, perhaps, responsible for the growth of the ride. After the ride, letters and calls poured in from people excited about the ride but upset because it was held the first week of school so students and teachers couldn’t go. Others were upset because the ride started on the final weekend of the Iowa State Fair. And still others wished more notice had been given so vacation arrangements could have been made.
Basically, the theme was the same “please offer another opportunity to participate in the ride! So the seven-day, Second Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa “SAGBRAI” was scheduled for August 4-10, 1974.

More RAGBRAI history
The 1970s | The 1980s | The 1990s | The 2000s | The 2010s | Facts and figures
History map: See which towns have hosted RAGBRAI the most and when

[ Read more at ]

This rogue bicycle pony express delivered mail in 1894 | Grist

If any of the cyclists who participated in the great bicycle messenger mail route were still alive to tell the tale, it would make the ultimate “when I was your age story.”
Picture this: San Francisco, 1894. The Pullman rail strike in Illinois cuts off all rail service west of Detroit, leaving California train-less and thus, mail-less. One “enterprising citizen” and bicycle salesman Arthur C. Banta decides to create a fixie chain gang relay along a 210-mile stretch from San Francisco to California’s Central Valley with eight primary riders. He charges $0.25 for stamps, 10 times the price of standard mail at the time.
I can just hear the conversation now:
Old-Timer Cyclist: When I was your age, we didn’t have no Amazon delivery service or fancy-schmancy computers. We wrote letters with pens and paper and put stamps on them. And when the mail system broke down because of a rail strike, we printed up our own stamps and rode our own fixed gear bicycles on unmarked dirt roads in the dark. And if we broke our ankles, we kept going because the darn mail had to be delivered.
Disinterested Youth: What is paper? [looks at phone] Have you seen the new Iggy Azalea video? It’s awesome.
[ Read the rest on ]

Colorado Brewers to Take On Sixth Annual Tour De BoulDurango | Brewbound

DURANGO, Colo. — On Monday, July 21st owners and representatives from six of Colorado’s leading craft breweries will depart on the ride of a lifetime…for the sixth year in a row. Commencing at Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, CO and culminating at Ska Brewing Co. in Durango, the annual Tour De BoulDurango is a five day, 426 mile road bike ride through some of Colorado’s steepest and most grueling road terrain. This year’s venture features riders from Avery, Ska, Boulder Beer, Left Hand, Oskar Blues, and Great Divide breweries.

Out of the gate the tour will call for a 109 mile ride through Golden and over Loveland Pass before descending onto Breckenridge Brewery. As day one concludes it is likely the riders will reflect on all of the pedaling still to come. “As busy as we all are, I think it’s good to get out in the Colorado hills with some of the state’s brewing pioneers and share a few ideas, as well as a few beers,” says Adam Avery of Avery Brewing Co. “Collectively, we have hundreds of years of brewing experience amongst us—good ideas are bound to take root at some point before delirium takes over toward the end of the week” Friday will mark the final stage of the ride from Ouray, over three mountain passes, and into Durango.

The cycling brewers are scheduled to arrive at Ska Brewing Co. at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 25th. The ride culminates with Finish Fest, a finish line celebration featuring beers from all of the participating brewers as well as the collaboration brew, Wheelsucker Wheat. “This year we are really trying to encourage interaction and community involvement statewide” says Dave Thibodeau, President and Co-Founder of Ska Brewing Company, “Whether that means joining the riders for a beer at the end-of-day watering holes or helping us rustle up some coin for Bicycle Colorado. We have some new toys this year that will make it easy for all the pedal heads and beer drinkers to join in.” The brewers will be using Insta-Mapper GPS tracking software making it possible for anyone, anywhere along the route to join the riders, cheer them on, or see when it’s time to head to the pub. Bicycle Colorado, an organization dedicated to building a bicycle friendly Colorado is the beneficiary of Tour De BoulDurango and is cited by the League of American Bicyclists as the model organization for the country’s forty nine other states.
The High Mountain Passes of the Route:
Loveland Pass – 11,992′ ~ Hoosier Pass – 11,542′ ~ Cottonwood Pass – 12,126’ ~ Cerro Pass 7,958
Red Mountain Pass – 11,008′ ~ Molas Pass – 10,910′ ~ Coal Bank Pass – 10,640′

[ Read more at ]

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to pack for off road Bike Packing

A Radar For Your Bike, So You Don't Have To Have Eyes In The Back Of Your Head | FastCompany

With the Backtracker, tailgating cars take notice.

How do you improve the bike light? We've seen a few new ideas recently: lights embedded in wheels or installed in helmets, lights that project an image on the road or even lights that let you see what the road surface is like.

Franz Struwig's Backtracker is another new take. His light idea is based around a radar. The back light alerts motorists to the cyclist's presence, flashing more frequently as cars get closer. Then a handlebar-mounted display gives a read-out to riders. Its red bars illuminate as cars come nearby.

Struwig, who is from Stellenbosch, South Africa, is raising money to fund the lights onDragon Innovation, a Kickstarter-like site specializing in hardware. See the campaign video here:

Struwig says the handlebar display isn't really a danger signal. It's more about giving riders extra intelligence. The back scanner, which detects cars that are 400 feet away, forces drivers to appreciate their proximity to the back wheel...
Continue reading at FastCompany

New York City’s Summer Streets | NYC.GOV

About Summer Streets

Summer Streets is an annual celebration of New York City’s most valuable public space—our streets. On three consecutive Saturdays in August, nearly seven miles of NYC's streets are opened for people to play, run, walk and bike. Summer Streets provides space for healthy recreation and encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation. In 2013, more than 300,000 people took advantage of the open streets.

Summer Streets is modeled on other events from around the world including CiclovĂ­a in Bogotá, Colombia and the Paris Plage in France. The event is part bike tour, part walking tour, part block party—a great time for exercise, people watching, or just enjoying summer mornings. Passersbys are welcome to participate in arts and crafts workshops, listen to musical performances, learn to salsa dance, eat healthy snacks, climb a 25' climbing wall, soar through the sky on a 160' zipline and explore a 179 years voice tunnel.

Held between 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, Summer Streets extends from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Avenue and connecting streets, with easy access from all points in New York City, allowing participants to plan a trip as long or short as they wish. All activities at Summer Streets are free of charge, and designed for people of all ages and ability levels to share the streets respectfully.

Summer Streets is a project of the New York City Department of Transportation.

[ Read more at ]

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mavic celebrates 125 years with custom bikes | VeloNews

THOUSAND OAKS, California (VN) — What do you get when you combine five creative custom frame builders and 125 years of French cycling history? A room full of fantastic bikes.
A fleet of five custom bikes from frame builders around the U.S. was commissioned as a tribute to Mavic’s 125th anniversary. Each builder had complete freedom over the build and art, but each bike was inspired by thelimited edition Ksyrium 125 wheelset.
In 1934, Mavic invented the first rim constructed from an alloy made of copper and aluminum. It weighed 750 grams, rather than the 1.2 kilograms that most rims in that era weighed. Ridden by Antonion Magne in the 1934 Tour de France, the Mavic rims were painted to look like wood, to remain secret, lest the peloton became suspicious of his new technology. Magne won the Tour de France that year.
The French component manufacturer has come a long way from its days of disguising new technology — nearly any Mavic product in recent history stands out with a blaze of yellow color.

As tensions rise among D.C. road users, many say police enforcement lags | Washington Post

A bicyclist rides along L Street Northwest in Washington. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
As an increasing number of Washington-area residents forgo their vehicles and choose to bike or walk to work, tensions between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have escalated, with reports of terrifying encounters: drivers intimidating cyclists, cyclists antagonizing drivers, pedestrians at the mercy of both bikers and drivers.
The one thing that all three agree on: D.C. police are not doing enough to enforce the rules for any of the groups.
“There hasn’t been much priority to enforce those laws,” said Joe Reiner, a member of the nonprofit organization All Walks DC, which promotes pedestrian safety. “Cars and bikes are speeding through pedestrian crosswalks ignoring that pedestrians have a right of way. This is an issue that we really need to have the police do better with.”

Why the U.S. Will Never Be Bicycle Friendly | Outside

Local laws give potential safer-cycling designs the red light.     Photo: Paul Krueger/Flickr
The United States has come a long way since the days of shoulderless roads and nonexistent crosswalks. Protected bike lanes have contributed to a 171 percent increase in cycling traffic in Chicago and a 126 percent increase in Rio Grande. When it comes to protective outlets, if you build it, they will bike.
That's where urban planner Nick Falbo and his protected intersection design plan come in. Based on designs used in Europe, he proposed intersections with small islands that wrap around each corner of cross streets, creating a more visible space in the middle of the street where cyclists can wait for a signal.
The design forces cars to turn corners before they can go forward, allowing cyclists to be seen crossing the road. With the design, cyclists even have their own signal phase at traffic lights. Brillliant, right? It would be if it could actually happen.

[Keep reading at Outside]

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Colnago CX zero

Bicyclists, motorists in Akron area still learning to share the road | Akron Beacon Journal

Morgan Loesch heads west on West Exchange Street on his daily 14-mile round trip commute from his Highland Square home to his job in Akron. (Michael Chritton/Akron Beacon Journal)

It’s a battle between two groups that has been waged since the early part of the 20th century.
If they were gangs they would be the Fearsome Fours vs. the Terrible Twos and their battleground is the streets of Akron and Summit County where the fight takes place every single day.
Cars may rule the roads, but bicycles are an increasingly common sight on the streets. Both clans seem to want the other to get out of their respective way, while Akron officials would like for everyone to just get along.
During the past decade or so, the city has worked with bicycle advocates and groups such as the University of Akron-sponsored How We Roll Akron to make Akron more accommodating to cyclists. According to the Akron Metropolitan Transportation Study, there are 13 miles of off-road trails in the city, nearly 10 miles of conventional bike lanes and nearly 13 miles of shared lanes. Despite the fact many motorists own bikes and many cyclists own cars, the groups often antagonize each other.


Washington, DC.
You can see big changes happening across America as communities from Fairbanks to St. Petersburg transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just cars and trucks.
"Over the past five years we're seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users — busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians and, of course, bike lanes," says David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. "More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this."
Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from rushing traffic with concrete curbs, plastic bollards or other means — and sometimes offer additional safety measures such as special bike traffic lights and painted crossing lanes at intersections. Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles. Streets work better when everyone has a clearly defined space.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Danny MacAskill Spoof Video: WeeSAB letter:I

The spoof video:

The original video he is spoofing:


I’ll admit it: I’m a map nerd. Sometimes I wish I could get by with a photocopied cue sheet taped to my top tube—but I know myself—I like to learn the terrain I travel through. I like to look at a map and analyze the topo lines, figure out the name of the surrounding buttes, notice an old cemetery up the hollow to my left, and then when I inevitably get lost trying to find it, locate an alternate route home.
Paper maps are great. The amount of detail and finesse put into good printed maps these days is a thing of beauty. Someday I’ll buy every quadrangle in Oregon and wallpaper my studio with them. But they have their drawbacks. They get wet, they get bulky on a big trip, you constantly have to refold them, and, well, they don’t tell you where you are.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Real American Locks Up Citi Bike For Personal Use | Gothamist

Oh OK. (John Marsh)
The notion of a bike share program is one of democracy—a nominal sum is exchanged for the ability to borrow a bicycle for a short period of time, eventually leaving the bicycle for use by someone else. All of the bikes are the same, and everyone—rich and poor, tall or small, Lindsay Lohan or petrified child, must equally suffer the burden of figuring out how to dock them.
Unless, of course, you're the brand of real American who doesn't quite grasp the concept ofsharing. Spawned from a long line of descendants, the first of which probably landed at Plymouth Rock, enjoyed a territorial piss along the sandy shoreline and announced that all of this is "ours" now, one Citi Bike user has similarly placed a U-Lock on one bicycle over which he or she has decided s/he has rightful ownership. Yes, you pay the same membership fee as everyone else, but this country was not built on fairness or decency, and no one ever gets ahead playing by the rules.

Minneapolis is a very nice city for biking but it is definitely no Portland |

bike rack lounge 540
A woman lounges on the bike-frame bike rack outside Modern Times, Minneapolis’s answer to the New Deal Cafe. “Can I take a photo?” I asked. “Hell yeah,” she said.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)
Now, don’t get me wrong: Minneapolis is a great place to ride a bicycle.
It has lots of things that Portland can and should learn from. And yes, those things they do in the November snow and the August sweat are seriously impressive. But is Minneapolis a better biking city than Portland?
Don’t be silly. It is not.

Ride like a girl - Medium

Inspired by a great chat with Andy Mangold.
Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be a woman? Go get your bike.
(I encourage you to grab a helmet, too, but there’s a surprising amount of debate about that one.)
All set? Great. Go ride to work. Ride everywhere.
[Keep reading at Medium]