Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 Annual Bilenky Junkyard Cyclocross

Looking to take a break from all of the Christmas festivities, then come to the 2011 Annual Bilenky Junkyard Cyclocross on Sunday, December 18, 2011 from 10am to 4pm.

First started as a fun race, it has evolved into friendly competition. Held in a junkyard the course offers a range of surface conditions from paved to dirt single track so the course is a challenge for Cyclocross and Mountain Bikes. Along with some equally challenging barricades: ramps, tunnels, bridges, hurdles, running sections, and a seesaw. Weather is also a factor; the surface could be muddy, frozen, or covered in snow. What makes this a truly unique experience is that it’s held in a junkyard creating some rather unique course markers and adding the chance of flat tires due to debris.

Over the years the number of racers has increased and this year to improve safety and increase speed Bilenky Cycle Works is holding smaller heats to avoid bottlenecks at the obstacles. Which means a full day of racing for racers and spectators alike.

Make sure to bring plenty of cash; Chewy's Food Truck will be on site throughout the day providing breakfast and lunch. And of course there will be beer.

To find out more use this link to go to the Bilenky Cyclocross Facebook event page, you can also register as a racer here. At a cost of $10, if register in advance, this will be the most fun you can have on two wheels.

Want to get sense about what to expect, watch this video

Friday, November 18, 2011

Philly Cranksgiving - Sunday, November 20

Looking for a charity bicycle ride that doesn't involve pestering your friends, family, and coworkers for a donation or requires months of training. Then check out the 2011 Philly Cranksgiving, on Sunday November 20 at 11:30am. All you need to bring is a bicycle, a lock, a backpack or messenger bag, and $15.00 to make your purchases. Plus your knowledge of the streets of Philadelphia or a map. No entry fee required and all items will be donated to Philabundace.

Cranksgiving was first held in New York City in 1999. Each year it is held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving urban cyclists to socialize, compete, and enjoy themselves while also raising food for local soup kitchens or food pantries in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Since its beginnings it has been adopted by organizers in numerous cities in one form or another where all types of cyclists participate to have fun while benefiting a local charity.

Philly Cranksgiving requires you to navigate from Love Park to Tattooed Mom's on South St. You will be supplied with a manifest (shopping list) and purchase these items from check points (predesignated supermarkets), make sure to save the receipts as proof that you followed the route. The organizers have made a point that this is a ride and not a race, but there will be a reasonable time you must complete the course by.

Come and bring a friend, its a great ride and great test of your navigational skills.

Lock your bicycle - Winning

It seems the only way to get the local media to report on the issue of bicycle theft is when it happens to one of their own, 6ABC reporter Brian Taff, we get an in depth report.

After watching this video I can understand why Brian's lock got cut, it was never intended to be a primary lock in a city environment. It's the type of lock that could be cut with the scissors they used to give us in kindergarten. While its effective to lock a rim or a seat, I would never use it as a primary lock for any bicycle.

The error is compounded by the advice given by Lee Rogers, owner of Bicycle Therapy. Given the cost of replacing a rear wheel, a minimum of $140.00, I would never lock a rear wheel with any cable. All it takes it some bolt cutters, a little bit of muscle, and you have a set of rims.

But instead of pontificating, I would rather bring in an expert of my own, Hal Ruzal, founding partner of Bicycle Habitat. In 2003 Hal did a video where he walked the streets of Manhattan with a camera crew rating how well people had locked their bicycles.

This lead to to two more videos, the third leads off with Hal showing you how he locks his bicycle before he goes on a tour of the streets.

So what grade would you give yourself on how you lock your bicycle?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fourth Annual Philadelphia Tweed Ride

Just like Sarah Palin's mythological Paul Revere I would love to ride through the streets of Philadelphia ringing church bells and shooting guns to alert everyone about the Fourth Annual Philadelphia Tweed Ride on Saturday, November 19 at 12:00. I'll just have to settle for writing about it in this blog.

What is a Tweed ride? Contrary to what you may be thinking the Philadelphia Tweed Ride is not a bunch of hipsters. Participants are a wide range of ages and backgrounds. A tweed ride is a return to a bygone era in England when families would dress in their best clothing, assemble a picnic lunch, get on the train with their bicycles and go out to the countryside. Riding their bicycles home.

What should I wear? Ideally your looking for Edwardian or Victorian era look. You don't have to dress in vintage clothing, with a little bit of creativity you can use modern clothing to create a vintage look. If your looking for inspiration use this link and scroll down to the Third Annual Tweed Ride and you'll find links to photo galleries of last years riders.

What kind of bike should I ride? Every bicycle and cyclist is welcome, of course if you have something that looks vintage, like a three speed or an British bicycle like a Brompton all the better. This is not Critical Mass and the ride organizers make it clear at the start that they expect everyone to obey the traffic laws. With the normal stop and go traffic in Philadelphia and the large number of cyclists that participate you'll never get lost. But be prepared to have people wave at you, because they do think it's some sort of parade.

Will there be other activities? In the course of the ride there is one stop at a local park. Where pipes are smoked, hip flasks are sipped, and don't be surprised if a croquet game starts.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lets annoy Stu Bykofsky

As many of you are aware we have a local news pundit, Stu Bykofsky, he makes his living as a commentator for the Philadelphia Daily News. Back in 2009 Stu made bicycles, bicycle infrastructure, and cyclists his personal crusade.

And like Don Quixote, Stu has his imaginary world where bicyclists are the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and bicycle lanes are the road they travel upon. In his columns cyclists are “bikeheads” and “pedalphiles” and every cyclist is a lawbreaker. Running red and stop signs, riding on the sidewalk, and weaving in and out of traffic. Bicycle lanes and cyclists slow down traffic and create congestion. Since Stu is just writing commentary he doesn't have to back up his claims with facts.

There is one thing, that try as he might Stu has not been able to counter, the bi-annual bicycle count held by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia which the City of Philadelphia government uses as part of traffic engineering. Stu claims the numbers can't be trusted because of the partisan nature of the BCGP and looks for loopholes in the instructions such as “don't count bicycles on rainy days”. Which is the equivalent of counting cars during a blizzard. But for all of the whining and kvetching Stu does he is unwilling to provide a bike count of his own. After all how difficult would it be to send some interns from the Daily News to the same street corners that the BCGP uses?

So now you can help to annoy Stu Bykofsky by participating in the BCGP Fall bicycle count by volunteering 90 minutes of your time during the morning or afternoon rush hour. For more information click here. Remember your not just helping to improve infrastructure for cyclists throughout Philadelphia, you're also annoying Stu Bykofsky.