Monkey off my back

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and possibly onto the bike.
Yup I finished and defended the big burrito yesterday and it feels just fine.


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More doping

Looks like there has been a series of police action in Belgium, raiding pro-cyclists houses and finding a new exciting untestable wonder drug, IGF-1.

From a cyclingnews news flash here:
Spectacular, undetectable and perilous' is how this product is described by experts. Since EPO is detectable, IGF-1 is the ideal doping product, according to Dr. Chris Goossens, doping expert for the Flemish Community. It strengthens the muscles, improves recuperation and above all, cannot be detected. The fact that the user might be taking serious risks with his life doesn't seem to matter much, as according to the public prosecutor's office of Turnhout, the insulin-like growth hormone was one of the products found during their raid.

Growth hormone, and more specifically IGF-1, triggers the production of growth hormone in the body. Growth hormone makes us grow, but not only in length - feet, hands and muscles too. Growth hormone itself still is used as a doping product but might be detectable in the near future, via blood tests. However, IGF-1 can't be.

There we go again, new undetectable drug found via police action, not the lab. Two or three Belgie riders have been implicated in the press, but no official confirmation yet.

Anyone still think athletes are clean because they are not testing positive?

This is where, again, the cycling folks are so far ahead of the baseball folks in understanding doping in their sports. The above is a quick lucid news account of doping in a major cycling website. The baseball press is still under the impression that there are a few truly evil apples like Barry Bonds, but everyone else is fine as no one tests positive for it.

My solution is for MLB, NBA, and NFL to join the WADA in force with good old capitalist dollars to help the drug testing catch up a bit. It is a sliding battle that the authorities will consistently lose, but one that the US major sports don't even know they are fighting. The fan base is getting increasingly disenchanted and will revolt at some point. The solution is not retroactive punishment of an athlete that no-one likes. It is designing a fair, comprehensive, well funded testing system that keeps the cheaters from multiplying. This will help the Olympics, cycling, running and US pro sports keep as clean as technology allows and restores faith in the sports.

Or just scrap the entire charade and let em run what they brung.

But don't sit there and fool yourself that Barry Bonds is the root of all evil and the other athletes are clean. Wait until elective Tommy John surgery becomes prevalent for aging pitchers looking to stay in the game, or effective 20/10 lasik comes into play. Woo hoo!

More rants on doping here and a bigun here


7 Stories above the Perch

I am sitting in a room in a new hotel here in Knoxie that, near as I can tell, is 7 stories above what once was a porch of an acquaintance where I once had a beer.

Spent the procrastinating part of the evening using dorknuts as spacers on a set of fenders on a brand new bike I don't have yet really. More on that on tuesday hopefully.

Why is it about to snow in knoxville?


Cat post

ha tricked you, also a bike post:

Yeah click for source.

Snow snow snow

Well it is official, I think it will/has snowed more tonight than it has the rest of the winter combined, we are at a few inches and counting, maybe 5-10 at the end of the night. Droughtwise we are hosed this year, with the dreaded super wet year followed by a super dry winter into the dry season making lots of tinder to go with. Unless april is like last year (lots and lots of snow) they will most likely close the state forests in NM in a month or two, which means almost all moutainbiking is off limits, which should make it a roadie year and will probably mortally wound all the bike/ski shops which are already reeling from selling no skiis over the winter as winter never came.

I should have known it would snow heavily tonight, as I need to go to the airport. There is no better predictor of bad weather in northern NM than me needing to drive to Abq in the morning. I have done it in 1' of unplowed snow to make a 8 am flight (leave Los alamos at 5am), torrential rains and all sorts of nasty ice. Feh. For the droughts and MTBing sake I hope I need to go to the airport alot between now and May.


Historic Family Bike Pics

My cousin Alison has been scanning family photographs and posting them on her flicker site. We got our grandmother a Ceiva photo receiver that has been really really well received and Alison has been adding the historic family photographs to the mix. It is a great way for my grandmother to get tons of photos from her far flung children and grandchildren. Anyway, a couple of the photos contain my mom as a young'n and her sister and their bikes. These are in the 1946-1950 range.

Click both for bigger images.

See the nice family stationwagon in the second upon clicking.

My mother's recollection is that really really wanted a bike as a little girl, but was unable to have one due to wartime metal restrictions. When the war ended she and her sister got refurbished bikes. She thinks the bikes pictured may have been in 1950 and may have been NEW bikes. I will try to get more info from my grandmother on this interesting family development.

My grandfather was a spectacularly inovative man and creative engineer, but he apparently never had really noticed that modern bikes had derailers until I rode my bike from my house in central jersey to his house in south jersey in the 1990's. I am guessing he only had experience riding cruisers and one speeds in his youth and the cruisers of his kids.


Monkey in China

Sort of. Todd from CleverChimp went to Beijing, China to get some parts made right for his motor assist for the Xtracyle. He has a few postings about it so far and a nice short movie taken from the seat of his Brompton. Pretty similar to my experience in ChengDu, I think. Also it is nice to see that his business contacts have seen the "Gay sheepherder movie".

Great now I will get even weirder hits on my site from google searchers, I have already gotten three iterations of "Girls Big Racks" link to my site from google due to previous posts on people in china riding their bikes with their girlfriends on the rack of their bike. Aw hell: girl big rack, girl big rack, girl big rack, any traffic is good traffic, right?

Uh, as I was saying, Movies are usually released in China on pretty damn good DVD bootlegs before they hit the theatres in the US, or at least concurrently. They run about 8-10 yuan, maybe a buck twenty five or so, maybe less...Even if you want to buy a legal DVD, the ones that are sold as legal are just fancily boxed bootlegs for 5 to 10 times the price.

Back to Todd, impressively he treats his brompton like a stroller/wheelchair and takes it through airport security and gate checks it. Nice! Now I have to get a brompton and try that...
Here is a still from his movie:

clicking will bring you to the source post...


Bonus Chinese Tiny Bike

Here is a nice photo of a really small bike in China:

Click for source.

Ok, apparently she is 2.36 meters (7'9") and it is a normal bike. Go figure.

Superficial Changes to Blog

Ok, I changed the annoying background color and annoying link colors and then went ahead and added a few more blogs to the list on the right: Sheila and Hurl's endevours. I think I monkeyed around with the widths of the posts so that the side bar is on the side in internet explorer AND firefox. Probably broke it for a safari, let me know if it looks OK in Safari someone. I put another block of ads as well, but reduced the size of them so they are less intrusive, but do show up when I link to a direct post. Probably will ditch the ads at some point, but I kind of like the social experiment for the time being...


1947 Bob Brown Road Race Berkeley, Ca

I got this great photo in the email through my old riding buddy Dick Digenarro from his friend and bike historian Andrew Ritchie.

Click the photo for a webpage I put together with a huge version of the picture and some background info. Andrew is interested in finding out more about the race and the participants. Story and big pic here. It really is a great photo, especially if you have lived in Berkeley, or are a fixed gear rider, or like bikes, or like racing or like cool old helmets, etc. etc. etc...


cartoon history

If you like good old cartoons, the ASIFA Holywood Animation Archive is a great source. They have an excellent blog with historical photos, drawings, pencil tests and shorts from all era's of animation. If you live near LA or you probably should go visit, it sounds like you can see all sorts of hard to find animated shorts, like the notorious (due to obscene to the point of parody racial stereotyping) Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarves. With a bike frame grab no less:

Click for source and full image

Check out this post for some nice popeye, betty boop and some terrytoon shorts for download and some background on the Archive.

if you really enjoy animation, the Looney Tunes Golden CollectionDVD's are really spectacular. All the Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Coyote and Roadrunner, etc. cartoons you remember in uncut form, lots rarely seen before. Really nice commentary and analysis by animators. Good special featurettes on each disk. Really good stuff. My only complaint is that I believe many of the shorts were originally not at TV's aspect ratio, thus there is some clipping at the edges. Some shorts are sort of letterboxed, but most are not. Otherwise a great thing to have for anyone who really enjoys Warner Brother animation.


No skate, no die


I got hit by a car while on my skateboard tonight. No major injuries, small hematoma happening on my calf (yeah, ma, I am fine, really), not too bad. I came up to a stop sign 4 way intersection, saw a kid in a car coming out of the HS parking lot across from me. I rolled straight through the intersection, she rolled left and hit me. She clearly never saw me coming or when she turned. I saw her and avoided getting pummeled. HS kid was crying and upset. I was OK with a sore calf. She goes home, I get a ticket. Lovely.

If this happened on my bike I would have been apoplectic. But for some reason I am not as mad, but she just as easily could have hit me while I was running or walking or biking. If I had stopped, I would have had the right of way, and she still would have cut me off/hit me. Ah well, excuses excuses, it was pretty dumb on my part.

I am calm about it though. I think this is should have been a both get tickets or no one gets tickets. She obviously rolled through the stop sign and did not see me at all. I slowed down and then rolled through the stop sign as it looked like she was going to yield, but I mistook eye contact for actually seeing me. Crap. I turned hard and got off the board and almost made it scott free, she caught me on my calf just below and behing my knee, flipped me up on the hood and then off on the ground.

Concerened citizen called police and EMT, two fire trucks and three police cars showed up. EMT guys checked me out, police talked to me and then gave me a ticket for running a stop sign on a skate board, I wish I could scan the ticket and put it next to the "bicycle parking ticket" I got in Emeryville when I was a messenger, however my copy of the ticket is almost completely illegible. Court date with no preset fine.

Bah. I am pretty sure I would not have gotten hit on my bike, but it probably would have been close stop or no.

Lesson learned: Stop at stop signs (you idiot), do not trust damn kids or anyone else in cars, watch out at intersections.

Stupidly I know all these lessons well from years and years of urban cycling, but dammit I forgot to my detriment tonight.

The ultimate irony is that I was riding earlier with my friend Sheila who just got a new longboard and I was "teaching" her how to ride safely and comfortably. Even worse is that sheila happened upon the exciting 5 emergency vehicles post crash scene learning the "do as I say, not as I do" lesson quite well.

Crap crap crap.

Nothing a millionth time encore of the incredibles plus a few organic stouts and some icing (the elevate, ice, rest kind) can't fix.

I still can't get over how good the incredible's soundtrackis.

Well, to quote edna mode, "Luck favors the prepared". Careful out there all you human poweredinos.

Inexorable Recovery

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Hopefully by the next time I visit my pals in San Diego, nature will have reclaimed the lawnmower too.


Final Day of Chinese Bike of the Day, Bling Bling

Ok, this is it for the daily bike of the day updates, I will still update the blog regularly, but perhaps not daily and not with exclusively chinese bikes...

I spent hours in ChengDu riding to every bike shop looking for real deal chinese bells. It took a few days but I ammassed 10 or so at a price of 6-10 yuan each (75cents to a buck 25). They are chrome, beautiful and loud. If you do not tighten the two halves against each other, they fall off while riding to hilarious effect. You usually can find these in the us for $5 to $10 bucks at Restoration Hardware and the like, but it was fun to get them at the source. If I remember correctly the "word" for bells in chinese was the onomatopoeic "durn-durn" or some such.

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Another fun souveneir, were these terrible reproductions of old chinese advertising. The cigarette ads with the very made up chinese cuties were the most common, but after tons of searching I found this little gem:

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Yes her shirt is nearly exploded open, no I never saw anyone dressed like that on a bike.

Ok, hope you enjoyed the series. I will try to dig up some photos from France, England, Egypt and Turkey over the next few months. Stay tuned.

I will probably be giving a travel talk slideshow on Chinese bikes, based on this Chinese bike of the day series, on August 5th, 2006 at the Travelbug in Santa Fe, NM. If anyone is in the area and would like to see it, let me know and I will give you details when they are firm. I would like to have a nice chinese bike with me at the show. If anyone has a Flying Pigeon, Forever, or other traditional chinese bike they would like to let me borrow/buy let me know as well...

Day 31 of chinese bikes, going downhill

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These are 2 of the 3 mountianbikes I saw in china. Not the cheap walmart looking MTB/commuters that are pervasive, but bikes that are off road capable.

This was in Lijiang. I am guessing that the two guys riding them where from Hong Kong and on vacation, but it was just a guess, I also guess these bikes never saw a lick of downhill action or any dirt, but there you are a pair of duallies riding around the old city of Lijang, slowly often with girlfriends on the bars.

I saw one other guy on a Kona hardtail rocketing through a side street in ChengDu, he had some pretty excellent bike handling skills, bunny hoppnig curbs, riding wheelies for blocks, etc. I think he was chinese. I almost fell over as he was by far the fastest rider I saw in all of China, and he was the only person other than me I saw go from street to sidewalk without dismounting and lifting the bike over the curb. Riding down stairs, up and down curbs and the like just did not happen in china.

I saw the Kona feller right near my favorite graffiti in china. "No skate no live". I think they meant "Skate or Die", but its the thought that counts. Rock on invisible skater brothers. I never saw anyone on a board.

Trek Soho Coffee Mug Review

I wrote a review of the bike specific coffee mug seen above here.


My Life Aquatic

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On this coldest day so far of 2006 with snow and blinding wind, I decided to shave my protective facial hair. Elena is still laughing 5 hours later.

Fish park

This dealy:

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has been making the blog rounds, found via velorution made by InOut designers. It is meant to take up a car parking space with one for 6 bikes. Nice idea. I think you probably could park 12 bikes or so in one car space if you had good racks, but still good stuff.

Reminds me of this:

Which I took at Rays, one of the waterside fish restaurant in seattle in the Ballard neighborhood.

30th day of bicycles and Big Red

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The big Mao feller in Chengdu. I am on a bike as the photo is taken and there is a pedicab in the background. The best part:

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Popeyes fried chicken sitting underneath the base of the statue.

Take that you capitalist pig dogs.


Forever day of 29th day of Chinese bike of the day

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Here is the bike that I rode around Chengdu for a couple of weeks. It was a relatively new "Forever" bike, one of the larger brands of traditional chinese bikes. Much to my dismay, I only saw one Flying Pigeon bike in Chengdu, I guess they are really regional bike specialists. I did see quite a few pheonix bikes and one other brand starting with a Y which I can't recall.

You can still get new traditional bikes in China, they were hard to find as most bike shops sold crappy Walmart type bikes almost exclusively now, but bigger department stores and some bike shops had them. They seemed to have 26" wheels rather than the 28" size. Although, if you look at Forever's Web site it looks like they offer a wealth of traditional styles still, of the new bikes, I really only saw the 26" type like mine.

It is nice to see that they offer a postman's bike. THe post men in chengdu I saw had beautiful green bikes with gold lettering and the really cool panneirs seen here:

I tried in vain to find some, although I found some cool army surplus shoulder bags, reflective vests and other neat things, no postal bags, or cool green bikes.

Anyhow, the new bikes while looking beautiful, were a bit crapperific compared to the older ones. The cranks, still cottered, looked thinner and more rough finished, almost like they were just cast instead of forged. The pedals looked cheaper, which prooved itself in how many times I had to replace mine in a couple of weeks. The stems wimpier, the headsets chintzier, etc. Still nice looking bikes, but perhaps they will not last a million years like their predecessors.

My bike had a terminally loose headset, either from crappy headset cups, or soft head tube or both, I think this was a common affliction among all chinese bikes, but it still was dissapointing.

I did add the basket, the rear integral lock and a bell. I think all that plus the three pedals cost me less than $20 US, pedals were about 5 yuan, maybe 60 cents or so.

Sam, who blogs at Shenzen Ren has a nice photo of a new bike loaded with all the bells and whistles from another manufacurer in Shenzen:

click for the source post at Shenzen Ren.

Whoo, OK long rambling post today. Should have 2 more ove the weekend and then Done done done and may take a break from daily blogging for a bit to finish a big project.


Some other things from about the net

As I resurfed the whole web today after missing it for a few days for illness, I found some things to share:

A nice history on the michelin man, probably pushing the bounds of fair use, but still nice... stolen but well illustrated by the consistantly excellent Bobke Strut

I love you the Onion, their take on the Barry Bonds steroids "scandal".

Chunk 666 chopper bike stalwarts and ambassadors have a blog. I love the latest post when he describes "ongoing urban interstitial exploration by the CHUNK 666 Corps of Discovery". Since reading a Lewis and Clark biography, I have secretely (until this moment, drat) been referring to MYSELF as a Corps of Discovery as I run, walk, ride and explore about here there and everywhere. Anyway, it always cracks me up, and if you can't crack yourself up, well hell...

If you like nice bikes and you somehow did not notice this happened yet, the North American Handbuilt Bikeshow went down in San Jose last weekend. Multitudes of photos linked to cleverly by Cyclofiend and Twisted Spokes.

Rode my bike today, ate arroz con pollo, rode home, did not vomit. Woo hoooooooooo!

28th day of Chinese bike of the day

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Another nice custom basketed bike on the Sichuan U campus in Chengdu.

Not too much going on here other than nice boxes. Anyone know what they say? Tomorrow? A Forever bike extravaganza.

Update, 3/09/06 3:45pm:
According to some what poetic anonymous commenter:
The blue baskets and green baskets contain milk bottles. So the words say
First Line: the name of the company: Southwest Milk Products
Second Line: the company slogan: We deliver milk to every home

Excellent! Reappropriation of milk crates is the cyclsts best friend. See:

from my raleigh twenty

Thanks anonymous commenter person! Anyone else can leave comments too, I know some people actually read the blog, so feel free to comment when it strikes you.

Welcome back to the day 27 of chinese bikes

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Sorry for the delay, back eating solid foods, thus back on the Chinese bikewagon.

Above is a nice typical mixtie bike. There were ralleighoid mixties, and the Ubike mixties seen on day 25 and 24, and then these middle ground bikeys, slightly newer style than the raleighoids, but a not as modern as the U bikes and the really crapperific new ones.

Yet still with the rusty chaincase, beat fenders, kickstands, obvious front end collision damage, rod brakes, inelegant lug attachments, baskets, lock etc. etc. etc.

So typical. For a comparison of a modern take, check out Kona's africa bike project. For essentially a north american take on the classic workhorse city bike:

click for bigger at source.

Looking at this bike, it is nominally the same idea as the chinese bike above. Chainguard, basket, one speed. It is missing fenders and the rear rack, but obviously has braze ons for such. I like this bike as it is made solid of probably not too heavy, but well sturdy enough cromoly tubing, has an american BB (one peice cranks) instead of the cottered cranks of the chinese bikes, and sports a coaster brake instead of rod brakes. Surf around the blog there and see some of the design parameters and look at the issues that these bikes are expected to face in africa. These are designed specifically for NGO's delivering aids drugs in rural africa.

Interesting project. These bikes, I think, have a good chance of being much more useful much longer than the legacy designed bikes churned out by the large factories in india and china, which have been more than adequate for years, but are getting produced crappier and crappier each year.

More on that tomorrow.

Ty ty makes gnar gnar in the crit crit

Uh, I mean look who is racing, a curly locked tyler:

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If you look here you will see that he still believes in tyler. Which is important I guess, because I am pretty sure no one else in that race does. But again, I think the pro guys in the race are pretty realistic about it and don't really care all that much, except possibly Scott Monninger who got dinged for two years on an allegedly tainted supplement case and probably has good reason to be a bit pissed about drug cheats. And lo and behold Monninger attacked repeatedly and won a pretty loaded parking lot crit. Whooo boy...

Well, welcome back on the road to clean racing Tyler. May you loose that tiny gut you are sporting and find a pro team ride and podium in a meaningless late season classic.

Anyone want to conjecture about whether the ever increasing set of people who believe Tyler intersects with the same people who believe Barry Bonds or would if any baseball fans actually knew who Tyler Hamilton was?

Once again, the well off pro athletes are so far ahead of the doping testers that it takes acts of reporting or police investigations to amass circumstantial evidence on them, they rarely fail tests.

See my last rant on this here.


Day skipper

Hmm, some unexpectedly serious yet temporary virus has laid me low. Thus no bloggie. Instead, please read something I wrote last time this happened to me, much more entertaining than getting 4 iv's of saline at the local hospital:

Blood guts and cash money in the high desert

More chinese bikes tommorrow.


Bike rack on the 26th day of chinese bikes

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Here are some attended bike parking near a park in downtown Chengdu. You pay the attendant something like 3.6 cents, get two wooden tags, hang one on your bike and keep the other. If you are smart, you lock your bike anyway and then you come back and trade tags, pick up your bike and away you go. See a tag hanging on a nice reflective grip on the ralleighoid mixtie below:

The parks were neat. Carp ponds and cheap fish food to feed them with, bonsaii trees, walking paths, music pavillions and lots of old men hangin around smoking, playing cards and drinking tea and other drinks. THe old men had good lives it seemed. They would walk to the park with their pet birds in cages and then hang the cages in the trees with the other old men's bird cages. The caged birds would socialize while the old guys talked. Seemed pretty fun.


25th day of chinese bikes of the days, U bike

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Green U bike. See the raleighoid fork? See the cable brakes, see that the back wheel is locked? See the nice chainguard? See the tiny bike wheel in the upper left corner of the picture? It is hard NOT to have a bike in the photo sometimes...

This bike has a really nice padded seat for the pal/sweetie. "girls" bikes are used ubiquitously by either sex. I am pretty sure that there was once a stigma against them, as there was a paucity of old rod braked raleighoid "girl" bikes, but almost all newer bikes have step through frames. Guys ride with girls on their racks, girls ride girls, but rarely do girls ride guys on their racks (mind out of gutters please). Girls giving guys a ride on the rack created cat-calls and jokes.

No one really wanted to give a 190 pound westerner a ride on their rack. Dammit.

Click here for a really big photo if you want to soak in the nuances of a pretty average bike in china.

Note the really crapperific rear brake cable routing. This is why I conjecture rod brakes have such longevity in places like china. The cable brakes pictured here likely barely work or perhaps not at all. If the cable breaks, it needs a bike specific replacement cable. In a rod brake, the corner bicycle repairman can just use a spoke, or other rod/wire thingy to make your broken brakw work.

I think that rod brakes, on average, work better throughout their lifetime than cable brakes in a low maintance situation like most bikes endure in china. Sure the braking is never great, but averaged across the life of the bike, they provide more stopping power. Cable brakes give you great stopping power for a while, and then none. Rod brakes offer crap throughout the life of the bike, but it is there on a daily basis. At less than 10 MPH average speed, you really don't need all that much stopping power.

Getting toward the end of my photo stash, might have another week in me. Maybe two. Anyone got any contributions to flesh out my waning collection of photos? Chinese bikes photos gladly taken, as well as asia, africa, etc. etc. etc. Email tas at tariksaleh dot com.

Anyone have a classic chinese bike (forever, pheonix, or flying pigeon or the like) bike here in the US? Want to let me borrow it for a bit, sell it to me cheap? Drop me an email. A rod braked raleigh might suffice. Especially if you are within a reasonable drive of Northern NM (colorado, arizona, Utah)...


Day 24 typical Chinese bikes

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Here are some typical "racks" of bikes on campus in Chengdu. There actually are no racks as all bikes have kickstands, but there are specific parking areas. The bikes up front in the photo are the semi-modern "U" frame bikes. They usually have cable brakes instead of the rod-linkage brakes, but still have chainguards, fenders, racks and kickstands.

All bikes have integral locks, usually on the chainstays and some people have cheap cable locks as well. Bike theft is a huge problem in the cities, the locks are not all that effective, except as a deterrent to the non-motivated theif.

I will post some more rack pics over the weekend and then into a couple typical riders next week.


Day 23 chinese bicycle vendor

click for big, yet still blurry.

No one wears helmets biking around china, but some people do wear helmets while riding their battery operated mopeds. These helmets remind me of the head fairing TT helmets that they used in the tour prior to UCI mandating useful head coverings. Of course the helmets are sold by bicycle, by a person not wearing a helmet.


Lots of the pictures, especially those taken from behind were photographed while I was riding as well. Pretty fun, although occasionally I was not up to getting the shot framed and focused before hitting the shutter, hence the blurry photos.


Day 22 the recycling chinese bikes

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This guy rode around Sichuan university recycling pretty much anything that was not obviously belonging to someone else. There was massive construction happening, tearing down old buildings, saving the bricks and building new ones. In the chaos, the pickings were good.

Hmm, can't find the other pictures, but there were guys on cargo trikes and regular bikes packed high with salvaged and found recycling goods all over chengdu. You can see another one in the streetscene here.