Friday, October 5, 2007

Utility Bikes

Just a random sweep of what I've been reading today-

First off, there's an awesome little magazine out of Bozeman, Montana (of all places) by the name of The Practical Pedal. They bill themselves as "The Journal of Practical Bicycling." And fittingly they had advertising for bakfiets, those awesome Dutch utility bikes ("the minivan of bicycles.") Not only can you download the PDF of the latest issue for free, but subscription is free, too!

I guess I know I've passed into middle age when not only is my hairline receding, but the exotic European models I lust after are...utility bikes. Bakfiets are just darn cool, and they're coming to this side of the pond! I'm hoping I might get my hands on one for a test ride...

And then there's this little gem of a blog:
Copenhagen Girls on Bikes.
Oh...Oh, yeah...
There's just something about a thigh-high, stilleto-heeled boot braced onthe pedal of a be-fendered city bike.

Finally, Issue 131 of Dirt Rag is now on the newsstands, and is, as always, worth reading from cover to cover.

Shenandoah 100? Try the Shenandoah 1200!

This just out! The DC Randonneurs Bike Club has announced their first 1,200 kilometer brevet, the Shenandoah 1200! It's an early season 1200, starting on June 5, 2008.

For those not up on brevets, here's the gist of it- entrants must complete a series of preliminary brevets- 200, 300, 400 & 600 kilometers. While brevets are not races, there are checkpoints which riders must pass within a specified time. Riders may only receive assistance at designated checkpoints (no support vehicles en route). Randonneuring is about self-sufficiency and pacing, not team support and racing.

So here's an awesome opportunity for an epic adventure right here in Virginia. The official course hasn't been announced yet, but it'll probably include a bunch of hills, valleys and mountains through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Which means...Sheetz!!! Yes, nothing makes a ride better than a quick snack from a chain of family-owned convenience stores. Remember, It's not Fast Food, It's Better Food Fast.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bike Movie Reviews

Ya gotta love Netflix...When you plumb the depths, you can find some rather obscure stuff. But not everything lying in the rough is a diamond. Read on for some quick reviews of a few recent bike-related films we've watched from Netflix...

The Flying Scotsman
The Flying Scotsman is a fun little film that will keep the cyclist in the house cheering Graeme Obree in his record-breaking rides. The struggles between Graeme and the UCI were explained well enough that I didn't need to pause the movie and fill in the details for my wife. While it's no "Rocky," it certainly ranks amongst the ten best feature-length bike films, although I'm not sure if there are 10 feature-length bike films out there...For bike geeks, the most satisfying scene of the film has got to be Graeme ripping apart his wife's washing machine for the bearings. It's worth Three and a Half Sprockets out of Four.

On the other extreme, we've got...

2 Secondes
2 Secondes could've been a great film, but like the lead character, a female downhill mountain bike racer who returns to her native Montreal, it falters at the gate and doesn't deliver. I don't speak French, but given that the English dialogue was rather stilted and poorly-delivered, I probably didn't miss anything. The bike scenes are decently photographed, but nothing special. At best, this film is a piece of soft-core bike porn: if you're like me, you'll be fast-forwarding through the dialogue to get to the good bits. I give it One Sprocket out of Four.

Then there's...


Now when a film wins at Cannes, you know it's got to be good. However cycling is only a peripheral subject in this revealing portrait of contemporary Vietnam through the eyes of a pedicab driver who turns to the local mob when his bike is stolen. While the movie draws upon the classic Italian film, "The Bicycle Thief," the emphasis in "Cyclo" is on the thief, not the bicycle. Or rather, a den of thieves. Be forewarned- this film is not for the faint of heart- there are some rather bloody scenes. Still worth Four Sprockets out of Four, though.

For an even longer list of bike-related films, check out

Critical Norfolk

So we had over twenty people show up last Friday for Critical Mass, our first in Norfolk in some years. How many years, no one is exactly sure. I remember seeing signs for a Critical Mass when I was first married back in the 20th Century. And there's been a Critical Sass ride occasionally in Ghent. But this was the first Critical Mass ride in a while.

I slapped a couple of cameras on the bike & trailer, so enjoy the show! We'll be taking back the streets again on Friday, October 26th. Wear a costume and celebrate Halloween! We'll meet at 6 pm across from Starbuck's on Colley Avenue.