Friday the 13th with the Freakbike Militia

choppernightfiftiescruiseThe Freakbike Militia’s 50’s Cruise from Flagler and Southern in West Palm Beach was supposed to leave in two waves: one at 5:30 sharp and the other at 6:30 sharp. I arrived a 5:20 to find myself all alone. I wasn’t sure if I was early or late.

That’s what happens when you’re dealing with anarchists

getting-readyI took off down some residential streets for a ride, figuring that miles is miles. When I circled back around 6 PM, I found a small group gathering a block west of the announced meeting place. This was either my group, or I had taken a time travel to the 50s.

It turned out that the normal start time is 7:30, so most riders aren’t used to showing up that early. The 5:30 wave was a wave-off since I was the only one to show.

We pushed off at 6:30 sharp with a group of about 50 riders, about half riding customized bikes or sporting what passed as mid-20th Century clothing. (One teenager was wearing a peace symbol T-Shirt. Right century, wrong decade, but points for getting close.)

If you LIVED through the 50s, you don’t have to dress that way again

Since I was wearing my normal glow-in-dark bike jersey and bike shorts, I had a few folks look at me sideways.

“Hey,” I justified, “I LIVED through the 50s. That makes me exempt from having to dress that way again.”Bicycle-adapted juke box
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Space Shuttle Launch Postponed, Darn It!

Foodie Friend Jan Norris asked if I’d like to head up to watch a night launch of the Space Shuttle.

Wife Lila, who went up to watch the John Glenn launch, said she’d go “only if she could feel the ground shake.” After having to endure several of Jan’s snide comments, she finally assured us that she had a viewing area where earth shaking could happen.

She recommended going to Robert Nicol Park due west of the launch site.

Want to see a picture of the earth-shaking launch?

no-shuttleYou can’t see anything? That’s ’cause it didn’t happen.

Eighty miles up the road, while we were engrossed in a mystery audiobook and looking forward to the gourmet sandwiches Jan had packed, Wife Lila’s cellphone rang. It was Son Matt, AKA Farmer Matt, with bad news: the launch had been delayed 24 hours.

Let’s see if we can resked the rooms

Jan called to see if we could cancel our room reservations. Nope. It was 5 P.M. and the deadline was 4 P.M. How about if we MOVE them to Thursday night? That’s OK.

We returned home

We planned to go back to West Palm Beach Wednesday night, drive back up Thursday for the launch, stay overnight and return early on Friday for baseball games, doctor’s appointments and the Freakbike Militia’s ride. Unfortunately, the AP wire story said the delay would be until Monday, Sunday at the earliest. Darn!

Looks like we’re going to blow it off and eat the rooms.

I’ve seen the Shuttle before

Son Matt and my mother and I got credentials for STS 6, which was the first launch of the Challenger, as I recall. We were closer than the general public, but not as close as the VIP area. Close enough, though, that we could “feel the ground shake.”

I gave Matt, who might have been 10 or 12 at the time, a camera and said “have at it.” I was amazed when I looked at his film. I figured a kid that young would be mesmerized by what he was seeing and forget all about taking pictures. That sucker managed to track it until it faded from sight. Not bad.

A shuttle comment I’d rather folks forget

Back in 1986, our afternoon paper, The Evening Times, was swallowed up by our morning paper, The Palm Beach Post. The Times’ education writer had gotten credentials to cover the launch of  school teacher Christa McAuliffe into space before the merger. Management decided not to let her go. “We’ll just send a photographer,” I was told.

I thought the reporter had gotten a raw deal after showing the initiative to get the clearances, so I told the editors, “If the story isn’t worth a writer, than I’m not going to send a photographer. [Here’s the part I hope gets forgotten:] Besides, these things have become so routine that we might as well run down to Palm Beach International and shoot Delta taking off twice a day.”

I guess we remember how THAT turned out, don’t we?

Nobody who was in Florida and looked up into the sky that day to see those twisted contrails will ever forget it. Like I wrote after watching the last night Shuttle clearing our neighbor’s roof, “I found myself holding my breath last night until  STS-126 got past the phrase, ‘Go at throttle up.’”

I think we’re going to pass on this launch. The timing is too iffy. I wish the crew success.

Freakbike Militia’s 50’s Cruise

Ralph Malph of the Freakbike Militia posted this invitation for a chopper ride in West Palm Beach Friday the 13th of March.  See details below.

Hey Greasers and Pin Up Chicks…….Mark your Calendars for Friday, March 13th. This Choppernite we are gonna Rock Round the Block!

choppernightfiftiescruiseThat’s right Guys and Gals, get out your Pomade and Poodle Skirts, Leather Jackets and Cateye Glasses it’s gonna be a Fifties Cruise! Cuff up those Jeans and get out that Plain White T-Shirt, we’re going back to the Fifties, and things are going to be a little different this time around….so read closely.

Fonzy told me that this is a Benefit ride for our friend “Jack the Bike Man“. Jack is the Man of the night from 6:00pm until 9:00pm at the Northwood Village Street Party. The Event takes place on Northwood Road between 23rd and 24th Street, just North of Clematis off Dixie (details on location at bottom).

Proceeds go to Jack the Bike Man

There will be local artists displaying work, wine tasting, music, food and beer, so bring some extra money, all proceeds from food and drinks go to Jack.
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Cut Your Bike’s Weight: Do You REALLY Need Two Kidneys?

Ron has a bike blog, The Cozy Beehive, with a different perspective. He’s a mechanical engineer who brings his profession to his cycling passion. I read him every day. He tells you the science behind the sport.

These guys should visit the Cozy Beehive

Matt Steinhoff's shaved legI have a brother and a son who are becoming weight wienies obsessed with removing as much weight as possible from themselves and their bikes. Son Matt just shaved his beard off and Jan Norris documented his shaved legs.

Bro Mark has been known to empty his water bottle before beginning a climb. Yep, both the internal AND external tanks.

Ron says they’re on the right track

The destination of the ideal weightweenie is not a quest for the philosopher’s stone, as some of our purist brothers and sisters will have us believe. To live and act the purposeful climber’s life, we must look to our inner selves. Literally. There are multiple avenues to buy power. We do not see. Look to your inner self, yes inner self.

Fat is our enemy, and duplicated body parts superfluous.

Here’s how they can do better

Look at this table he’s put together to show how much weight you could save if you got rid of that extra kidney and eye. Even teeth, hair and fingernails add weight that slows you down. They’ve got to go.

weightweenie-must-dosGo here to read the whole story

I Bought a Surly When I Could Have Had a PoleRider

polerider-in-actionJust about the time I was feeling really good about my Surly Long Haul Trucker, I discovered the PoleRider.

Jeff describes it as a bicycle rickshaw with a mobile stripper pole in the back. It’s the mullet of bicycles- business in the front, party in the back. The PoleRider was engineered and built by a team of three professional industrial designers to withstand immense leverage loads without failing. Yes mom, that’s what that expensive industrial engineering degree is going towards- keeping strippers balanced. I’m sorry, I mean “pole dancer”. The stripcycle makes the rounds in NYC and you can rent it out by the hour complete with pole-dancing hottie for $300 for the first, $200 each additional.

The PoleRider melds cycling and exotic dancing, giving a new meaning to the phrase exercise in bad taste.

Of course, I’m being too hard on the PoleRider folks, who  have a classy mission statement:

PoleRider is a new invention that unites two great things that are even better together: bicycles and pole dancers! Our mission is to raise awareness of the immense potential of pedal power and to bring pole dancing to the streets where dancing belongs. PoleRider was engineered and built by three professional industrial designers to withstand immense leverage loads without failing. Our dancers are trained professionals. Don’t try this at home!!! If you are driving, remember to look out for bicycles. One of them might be PoleRider!

For some reason, most pictures don’t emphasize the bike’s chassis

chassisBut, the site does have one shot of the guts of the PoleRider. That must be one heavy puppy.

There are lots of technical things to consider, based on this comment,

I’m thinking about rotating the bars forward a bit. The thing is so heavy that my climbing/riding position is a big priority. Raising the stage is out, but I will be experimenting with pole length for PoleRider2 since the Veloettes have asked for more pole. The leverage on the base of the pole increases tremendously with only minor increases in length so there is a limit. We are working with signals and choreography to overcome the problem.

Andrew Katzander notes that “I get kicked in the head a lot, but it’s worth it.”

They don’t need any more “pilots” AKA Flesh Pedalers

reindeerBut they are looking for more dancers who are described as professional athletes, acrobats, aerialists and dancers who perform with amazing strength, flexibility and showmanship. They are also bicycle racers, bike commuters and regular bike riders themselves.

For more “information” about PoleRiders

Visit the PoleRider website.

I couldn’t afford the accessories

I gave some thought about asking if the PoleRiders would take my Surly LHT in trade, but then I thought the better of it.

I might be able to afford the bike, but I’d never be able to afford the accessories.