Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Our rules may not apply

Just wanted to add some thoughts on Kao's last post.

We who are obsessive enough about bikes to have a blog dedicated to the subject may think about all things related to bicycling endlessly, but most other people in the world who ride bikes probably don't dwell on these things at all. They just go about daily life and riding a bike is just one part of it.

Kao was recently in the old Shitamachi part of Tokyo and had a bit of free time to take a few photos of people on bicycles there. It is an area with a lot of elderly people and so, most of the people on bicycles were the elderly as well.

In this photo you see a very tiny old lady on her tricycle.
Her saddle position is so low that her knees come up really high while she pedals. We might think of things like that when we see this picture, and we might even think of how to better her riding position on her bike, but does it really matter?

It seems the majority of people on bikes in Japan have saddles very low on their bikes and I used to think that they ought to raise them and have a more efficient riding position, but most of them ride very slow and not very far so that it doesn't really matter. What matters is that they ride bikes and it's an integral part of their lives. It may not be the way we envision cycling, but this too is cycling.

It seems tricycles are very popular there. It makes sense. They are stable and can carry a lot of stuff in their front and rear baskets. Even if they ride so slow that they are not much faster than walking, I'm sure they make life much easier for these old ladies. Kao said that this particular street is for bikes and pedestrians only and car traffic was prohibited. I haven't seen many such streets in Tokyo myself, but it makes sense to do that with a lot of elderly people traveling on bicycles. If they could have more streets like this in Tokyo, cycling in Tokyo would be so much better.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Scenery with the bicycle

Elderly persons' bicycles in Tokyo "Shitamachi".

The tricycle is popular in Kameari. It is very cute.

In Shitamachi (old neighborhoods of Tokyo), covers on baskets are very popular! hand covers and saddle covers are also very very popular!!!


in Shibamata Tokyo

in Kameari Tokyo

This is not a cover. Zabuton(Japanese cushion)is dried.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

BikeCraft & last day of Pedalpalooza

BikeCraft @ Multnomah Bike Fair

Yesterday's BikeCraft event at the Multnomah County Bike Fair went well.
Come to think of it, I don't think we've ever displayed the bike figures in public before. Sold a few of them, but I think more importantly got lots of people to see them in person. I don't think most of the people at the fair were there to buy anything, but I think it was good for people to see these things exist. As far as I know, I'm the only one making this kind of figures in paper mache. I had a few unpainted (Paint It Yourself) bike figures there and they went pretty quickly. I don't have any more of them on hand to offer them on Etsy, but I will make more of them soon. It had been a while since I had done one of these sale events in public. I think the last one I did might have been at the WFMU record fair in NYC many years ago when I was making an entirely different kind of stuff. I think the next BikeCraft event is November. I'm not certain, I will be there, but if I do, I'll definitely be more prepared.

So yesterday was the last day of this year's Pedalpalooza. I had fun at the few events I attended, but I wonder how it seemed to the non-enthusiast public. Was it just self indulgence by a select group of people? I enjoy riding my bike and many things bicycle related, but I'm still not sure that I fully identify with all of the so called Portland Bike Culture.

At the fair yesterday, I had to watch over my table all day, so I didn't get to see what was going on at other parts of the event. The only thing I saw was the track stand contest which was going on right in front of my table.

Track stand @ Multnomah Bike Fair

You had to be balanced on your bike without putting your feet on the ground while people threw water balloons and if you made it longer than 60 seconds, you won a prize.

Sprockette track stand @ Multnomah Bike Fair

A sprockette got in on the action too!

cool dudes @ Multnomah Bike Fair

I got to see a lot of people yesterday too and I thought it would be fun to chronicle the cycling style that's all Portland. It's definitely different than Copenhagen or London. I am not sure I will purposely stake out to take pictures of people, but if I happen to take interesting pictures, I will report.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Paper Bicycles Saturday

As I said in the last post, I will be taking part in the Multnomah County Bike Fair's Bike Craft event this Saturday. I have been in mass production mode of the paper mache bike figures the last few days.

paper mache bicycles

So, these in the above picture, along with others will be there on sale.

During the day of the sale, I will be taking the bike figures off from our Etsy shop temporarily. I haven't sold these figures in public before and I don't know how well they will sell, but if you've been eyeing any particular figure, I can't guarantee they will still be available after the sale. Even if they all sell out, I will be making more but no figure are exactly the same as they are all hand made.

If you are in Portland, come check out the Multnomah County Bike Fair!

Col. Summers Park, SE 20th Ave and Belmont St.
2:00pm - 7:00pm

MCBF is the catastrophic culmination of 2+ weeks of Pedalpalooza bike fun.
Local bikey artisan craft bazaar care of bikeportland.org
"Biking around large vehicles" clinic by TriMet's Dan Christensen.
Affordable lights and helmets from Protect Your World.
Local food carts including bike-based Soupcycle!
Root beer garden for the kiddos.
As always, live music and crazy competitions.
Bring your friend. Bring your bike. Bring your sunscreen. Bring your camera. Bring your best game. Bring your bandages. Bring your bike fun.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

more Pedalpalooza and Sprockettes fun

The last post from Kao included pictures she took while visiting her parents in Kashima, Ibaraki. Ibaraki is the prefecture North East of Tokyo. Her English may not be grammatically perfect, but I think it's charming in its own way. I think her way of posting a few pictures and just a few words is maybe more eloquent than my incoherent ramblings and reminds me a bit of Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

Pedalpalooza is still going in here in Portland though it's coming to the end this weekend. I still haven't been able to check out much of it. If my hand was all healed, I might have partaken in the ride to the Columbia River Gorge. I've yet to really get out of the city on long rides, but maybe I'll try and do that by myself this Summer.

I did manage check out a couple of events though.

Sunday Parkways

On Sunday, there was this event called Sunday parkways happening in North Portland close to where I live. They close a 7.5 mile loop of streets connecting public parks off from automobile traffic, so people on foot and bicycles can run or ride freely without worrying about cars. North Portland is very residential and family oriented, so the event didn't quite feel Pedalpalooza to me, but it was fun as there were no cars to worry about and it sort felt like a very loosely organized group ride.


The other event I saw was THE SPROCKETTES' HAWT DAMN HOTPINK POTLUCK BBQ. I think the Sprockettes is the image I have of Pedalpalooza, and they were performing close to my place, so I went and checked it out. I missed the POTLUCK BBQ part though, so I was unprepared and just ended up sitting around staring at all the people mingling and eating while I waited for the Sprockettes performance.


I had to wait a while, but it was worth the wait. What's not to like about 8 girls in pink and black dancing with bikes? I definitely like them a lot more than Hikaru Genji (late 80's - early 90's Japanese boy band with roller skates)

(Hikaru Genji)

Anyway, it was fun watching them. I feel I've finally experienced a bit of Pedalpalooza. I shot a bit of video, so you can watch for yourself.

They are doing a mid west tour soon(Chicago and Minneapolis), so if you're in luck if you live over there. They mentioned the bus they were going to use for a part of the trip fell through and they are looking for one. They are looking for something that's not a major rental car, but something that is local & more community oriented. If you know of anything, let them know.

They are performing again this Saturday at the MULTNOMAH COUNTY BIKE FAIR(which is supposedly the catastrophic culmination of 2+ weeks of Pedalpalooza bike fun). I will be there at the Bike Craft portion of the event selling the bike figures, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to see them, but that should be a fun event, so all you Portlanders come and check it out.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rusty bicycles

This bike is for decorations. An atmosphere will appear when rusted.

This bike(mama-chari) is not for decorations. My father's bike.

Lovely Bicycle?

Did everyone get what is going on in Kao's last post?
I didn't really get it until Kao asked me if I saw it. I won't say what it is, but the title may give you a clue.

"My" new bike

I mentioned before that I was planning to convert Kao's bike into more of a city bike. To do this, I had ordered some parts from Velo Orange. They finally arrived on Saturday.

parts from Velo Orange
I ordered the Milano bar, Cork grips, and Tektro FL730 levers

After about an hour of tinkering, this is how it turned out.

Kao's bike v2.0

Well, I'm not sure if it works visually or not. The cork grips seems to throw off the balance from what was mostly a red and black bike, but functionally speaking, it's a lot closer to a city bike than before. I emailed Velo Orange before making the order to ask what kind of a bar they recommended and the answer was the Milano bar. It is apparently designed to be used with a road frame like this and it gives you a more upright position. What I noticed immediately is that it really changes your whole mentality while riding. On the road bike, I think my main concern is to ride and focus on the physical experience of riding, but with this new set up, the physical activity was more secondary and I found myself looking around a lot and enjoying being able to do that with ease. Most importantly, this new set up is much easier on my left arm and hand. (FYI, I had a fall a couple of weeks ago and riding my road bike had been difficult) It's not completely pain free as little bumps on the road still can be felt with pain, but with the new set up, I can move my hand to minimize the shock with much more ease than before. It's not like I was constantly worrying about my hand, but I noticed that I felt much less pain over all, so that I actually felt like riding further than I needed to. Since I had that little accident, I'd only been riding to the store to get the necessities and I didn't feel like riding any more than that which was kind of bumming me out. I'd also been feeling a slightly unhealthy which I don't feel at all usually as I get enough exercise just riding around. So while I'm not quite sure about the new looks, the conversion was a success in that I am eager to be riding again.

Kao's bike v2.0

The all important question though is, is this a Lovely bicycle? I'd been following and enjoying the Lovely Bicycle blog and I am now looking at their Criteria for a Lovely Bicycle as I write this and I am sad to see that the bike does not meet the criteria. I guess it's maybe not possible to convert a road bike into a Lovely bicycle, but the intention was not only to make it more comfortable, but to make it "Lovelier" as well.

I think I might keep on tinkering with it still. The Milano bar is definitely more comfortable than a drop bar, but I'm thinking an even more swept back bar like the VO Tourist Bar might make it even more comfortable. Ultimately though, I think using a road frame as a base has its limits. I don't know about the the engineering behind frame designs, but I think a road bike frame is designed for the rider to put some weight on the front while a city bike with an upright position puts all of the rider's weight on the back end, so riding the road bike frame with an upright position seems to make the handling feel a bit strange. I think getting wider tires may make it handle better and keep the rear tire from bottoming out under load, but really to make a good city bike, it's best to start with a city bike frame. So, maybe pursuing this further is futile, but I actually enjoy thinking about these kinds of things. I don't know if I'll invest any more into the bike as this is Kao's bike after all, but if I do, I'll most likely tell you all about it here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

How can you ride backwards?







Thursday, June 18, 2009

after After the rain

Thought I should write a few notes about Kao's last post.

In the first picture, you see what looks like abandoned bicycles parked in a peculiar way. I don't know why they are parked like that, but in Japan it's not rare to see bicycles that look fairly new abandoned like this. Kao told me that there was a new law passed recently that made certain kinds of bikes illegal or something. I don't have any more details on that, but rather than fixing them to make them legal, a lot of people seem to have just bought new ones and abandoned their old ones as proper disposal of bikes can be costly. We haven't witnessed people actually abandoning their bikes, so this is more speculation though. The reason why people seem to treat bikes as if they are disposal is because they are so cheap. I don't know how they do it (I'm not sure I'd want to find out), but a regular mamachari with a basket, rear rack, kickstand and front light can be bought for under $100. In fact we've bought 2 of them in about 2 years and they were both less than $100, but worked just fine for most regular duties. You would have to pay a few times more in the US to buy a new bike which would offer the same quality.

mamachari cycling
(Kao on a mamachari)

It's good that these bikes are so accessible and cheap enough to be affordable by majority of people, but at the same time it's too bad that people don't treat them with love. It's true they are not like the gorgeous Pashleys or Azors that are so lovable, but I think with most bikes, affection grows as you spend time with it and maintain it well.

That's just a little beef I have with the way people treat these perfectly good bicycles. I guess it wasn't so much a note about Kao's post though.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

After the rain

Photo diary this morning.





Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stuck on the front

Just a quick note about the last post which was Kao's first contribution to this blog. As you can tell if you read (or saw) all the way down to the end of the post, the title "I'm sticking with you" is a reference to the Velvet Underground song of the same title. The video she picked is a version by VU's Moe Tucker and Jonathan Richman. Though I think I prefer this original version featuring Lou Reed.

I'm sticking with you from ali demirel on Vimeo.

As I mentioned before, Kao thinks her English is not good enough to write any text here with, so instead her contributions are more visually oriented. Her post features pictures she took of me over the years while we were riding our bikes together. Not all the pictures she took were from the behind, but to go with the theme, she picked these ones. First picture was taken in 2005 before we were married while visiting her parents home in Kashima. The following pictures are from when I still lived in NYC. I'm riding my old Rockhopper (stolen last year) there. It wasn't a fast bike, but very solid and can go over any bumps on the road without worry. My road bike is faster, but feels a bit fragile in comparison. In Japan, I'm either riding a Mamachari (I think I will do a post about the Mamachari sometime) or my Dahon folding bike. Neither are fast or comfortable enough to go on long rides with, but the bikes we rented when we went to Kyoto this new year were really excellent as far as rental bikes go. The ride was pretty solid and almost as good as my old Rockhopper and they even had disc brakes. Towards the end of the post, I'm riding my road bike here in Portland.

Kyoto cycling
(the rental bike we rode in Kyoto)

It's not like I prefer riding in the front all the time, but I am better with directions and also because I have been riding much longer than Kao, so I tend to ride a bit faster, and it always seem to work out with me in the front. But I'm sure you are tired (as I am) of seeing pictures of me, so here's a photo of Kao I took while riding behind her on our trip to Kyoto.

Kyoto cycling

She's definitely the more photogenic member of Mumbreeze.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm sticking with you...

cause I'm made out of glue.

2005, Kashima Japan, My first sticking Cycling!

A high-speed husband
2006, NY

2006, NY

2006, NY, Central Park

2006, NY

2007, Kashima Japan

2007, Portland

2008, Tamagawa Kawasaki Japan

2008, Tamagawa Kawasaki Japan

2008, Kawasaki Japan

2009, Kyoto Japan

2009, Portland

2009, Portland

2009, Portland

Recommended music!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cirque du Cycling

So, today is the 3rd day of Pedalpalooza. I didn't get around to see any of it the first two days. That mostly has to do with the fact that my left arm and hand is still not completely healed yet and since most of the Pedalpalooza events are rides of some kind or other, I didn't quite feel up to it. However today, I was able to see the Cirque du Cycling event. It was easy. All I had to do was go out the door and I was already there. Cirque du Cycling was taking place right where I live.

Cirque du Cycling
(Team Beer folks waiting for the Art bike parade to begin)

I mostly saw two things there. One was the Art bike parade. Actually, what I saw was mostly people waiting around to begin the parade. It was fun though. All kinds of people on various different bikes were gathered there. It was entertaining just sitting there people watching.

Cirque du Cycling

The other thing I saw was the bike race. Criterium race to be exact. A criterium race is a race where the racers go around a short loop of city streets. It's the most popular kind of racing in the US and is maybe more entertaining for the spectators than a point to point race, but it wasn't the kind of racing I liked to do myself when I was a racer. Well, it's kind of fun going fast around city streets in front of a crowd, but I preferred longer road races with some climbing involved. This race didn't seem to be a very high profile race. Last year, I saw a part of the Mt. Hood Classic, which featured some top domestic Professional teams, but this one was comprised mostly of local amateurs. It was fun to see though. It had been like a year since I saw a bike race in person. (I like to follow Pro cycling on the internet and Kao is patient with me when I watch the Giro d'Italia or the Tour.) It is hard to replicate that kind of speed outside of a race, so it seems shocking to see especially because you're used to the speed of regular cycling in the city.

Cirque du Cycling

I don't have the desire to go back into racing. I think even if I did, I may not be physically capable of keeping up with the other racers. What I envy more is just to be able to ride freely on the streets without having to worry about cars or stopping. Portland is more bike friendly compared with other North American cities, but I think it still needs more improvement compared with more bike friendly cities of Europe.

other things I saw:

Civia bikes
Cirque du Cycling

I had read on their blog that they would be coming to this event, so I was hoping I could test ride one, but they just had a total of 3 bikes on display. I stared at the bikes and flipped through the catalog for a while, but the two guys that were there either didn't notice me or just plain ignored me. It's too bad. I like Civia bikes. They are well designed and seem perfect for everyday riding.

Naked Bike Ride

(World Naked Bike Ride London 2008)

During the Art bike parade, a big group of naked people on bikes suddenly turned up. I think it was maybe part of the World Naked Bike Ride. It was totally unexpected, but it didn't seem in anyway sexual or indecent to me. I'm used to seeing a bunch of naked people (only men though) in public baths in Japan, so it was kind of like that only everyone was outside and riding bikes. It must be quite strange to be naked in public. Once in a while, I have dreams where I am naked in public and can't seem to find any clothes to wear. Taking part in this might be sort of living out a dream in that case. Good thing they are on bikes, so as soon as people see you, you are gone in a swish, so there is no time for any awkwardness. I don't have any interest in taking part in it, but it's fine with me if other people do it.

The thing that gets me down though about seeing all these people on bikes today, is that because of my left arm, I can't enjoy riding my bike as much. Especially on my road bike, I find that the road bike riding position puts quite a stress on your arm and hand. I mentioned in the last post that I am converting Kao's bike. I put in an order for some parts from Velo Orange yesterday. I can't wait for them to get here. Then I will have a bike that should be easier on my arm than the road bike.