{ ride a bike… everyday, everywhere }

Belligerent Ignorance

What is up Louisville?

The other morning, when there was a fair amount of snow on the road, I was riding to work heading east on Winter as is one of my usual routes. Freezing my ass off, all bundled up I’m approaching my left turn onto Rubel Ave. Attentively I notice on-coming traffic, an instinctual mental calculation of trajectory and distance tells me I can make my turn safely before the cars get to the intersection. A quick glance over my shoulder as a reminder there being no cars behind me, I execute my pre-turn merge. In that quick glance however, I thought I saw something on the far side of the street—it wasn’t a car though. I continue in my merge and am just about to make the cross-traffic turn when what was on the far-side of the street became ever apparent. It was a cyclist, riding on the wrong side of the road! Had I continued my turn I would have struck him, and then the both of us probably would have been struck by the on-coming cars—I’ll remind you, the roads had a fair amount of snow and likely ice. I quickly stop my turn, and slow down enough to wait out the three cars passing through the intersection only to have the other cyclist cut them and me off in the middle. Shocked by his actions, I exclaimed to him, “That’s not a very safe place to ride man. You’re likely to get yourself or others killed.” He let’s out a loud “wahoo!” and “I don’t give a shit!” in reply. 

What would you call this? This attitude and apparent apathy? Never have I experienced so many other people on bikes with this ignorant attitude than I have here in Louisville, KY. At least once a day, if not more, I encounter somebody riding against traffic as if they belonged there. Now this isn’t the same “against traffic” riding one would do to sneak a turn mid-block or something—there is a difference. No, it’s riding block after block against traffic, through intersections. It’s also riding block after block, against bicycle traffic in the bike lanes. And no, after dark they don’t even have lights on. BAM! Out of nowhere, you’re not the only one riding a bike on the street, all of a sudden you’re dodging another. Darwinian ignorance.

It goes beyond cyclists too. Joggers. I’ve experienced near-violent protest at my presence in the bike lane they’re  running in, also against the normal flow of traffic. (This I’ve seen in other cities too though). This wouldn’t be a complete rant if I failed to mention the belligerently ignorant motorists in this town. I think if I kept a logbook I could compile a thorough tome on these folk. What’s a red light mean if it doesn’t need to be stopped at? Everyday I’ve lived here I have seen numerous cars/trucks/buses/tractor trailers blow through blatantly red lights. How is this? Where is the logic? Consideration? Enforcement? Not to mention safety? (If they do stop at the intersection they’ll usually fail to not block the crosswalk.) 

These are likely the same people who pay little attention to the speed limit on small neighborhood streets. These streets that sometimes consist of sharp turns, limited visibility, and crosswalks. “Nevermind that, I’ve got somewhere to get to! 35mph isn’t fast enough!” Their speed, I bet, eventually results in the slew of impaired cars I see busted and mangled in front of their houses—parked there as eyesores until they can afford repair. If somehow still operable, they’ll be driving around (usually at night when I “notice” them) lacking the majority of it’s headlights, turn signals, and often times front grills or quarter-panels. 

They act ignorant and are proud of it, question them and I’m sure it’ll start a conflict. Sometimes, I just don’t know….

This post is not to be meant to be one that is rife with complaints and negativity. I have an open mind to most everything—consider this merely observational.


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Sidewalk Guard Rails

3rd & Oak St at the 3rd Ave Cafe, evidently a semi-truck couldn’t make his turn

Perhaps Louisville should have put up ornamental guard rails instead of such nice trash cans to keep these menaces (i.e. motorists) on the road and not on our sidewalks. Don’t get me wrong, I like these trash cans, which are specific to neighborhood, they’re elegant in a way—I’m glad they’re there. But if they keep getting knocked down and damaged by motorists, what will be left to keep them from plowing down pedestrians on their sidewalks? Are they really enough to keep the cars on the road themselves?

Just a minor blow to this one, next accident will take it out for sure.

I’m pretty sure there used to be a can here in the foreground, but am certain there was an car crashed into the opposite corner’s sidewalk

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Louisville Polo

The two potential locations can be found here:

Breslin Park or Meyzeek Middle School.

Bring mallets if you’ve got them.

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This Town Already has Bike Boxes

When I’m riding around, casually or commuting, I envision possible solutions to the traffic issues we all face as cyclists, many of which seem abundant here in Louisville. Sometimes I like to envision intersections like this:

Frankfort Avenue

A lot of the intersections I’ve noticed in this town have a really nice space located between where the cars are supposed to stop at red lights and where the pedestrian’s crosswalk is. It’s presumed this area is a buffer zone provided to keep cars from stopping in the crosswalk. This area would make for a great “bike box”! And these “buffer zones” can be found at many of the city’s intersections; they’re just sitting there, ready for painting—I think blue might be nice.

Basically, it would b a place for cyclists to have a safe zone to wait for a green light at intersections; and to help prevent them from getting struck by right turning motorists. The one I’m seeing on Main Street and Brook is great because of the bike lane that leads into it. (Generally speaking, the bike lanes in Louisville are appreciated; they’d be more so—and used more perhaps—if they were safer and more respected; just a note).

Main St @ Brook

Bike boxes are a pretty nice street feature that I first encountered in Vancouver B.C., but really witnessed their implementation on the streets of Portland, OR (here and here) and Seattle, WA (here and here).

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Time Warp

I’ve been so preoccupied with work lately I’ve recently experienced a weird sensation of displacement.

We’ve been riding around Louisville a lot—everywhere we go actually. Some of our routes have become rather rote, in a way. But one day, as I’m heading out to the Kroger (or what I commonly, and incorrectly, call QFC) and cross under a freeway overpass, crossing the next intersection I look to my right, and then to my left and proceed through. When I checked to my left something caught my eye: the freeway entrance ramp stating “South I-65 Nashville”. Totally common around here, but it caught my eye nonetheless, making me remark to myself, “Where the hell am I that I’m close to Nashville?”

Louisville, dumbass! Not only was it a sensation of displacement, it also reminded me how “out of the loop” we are about cars and how “regular” people get around. These freeways with their entrance and exit ramps and directional signs, they’re so out of our realm that I hardly take notice of them. Kind of interesting I think how unimportant things like that become when you remove them from your life; things like pumping gas, searching for parking, and many others I’m sure.

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This oughta be cool. 

Considering the rain we’re getting today and expected tomorrow, the course should be nice and ready for them. Me, I’ll be merely spectating, hopefully on a dry Sunday.

Check back later for the photos I’ll be sure to take.


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Moving Again

Only this time online. Data is moving over here for a while. Not to say there’ll be much action, but that’s where any action will be if any action happens.

Yep, Keeping it simple.

Louisville, by the way, is still a great town. Glad to be here.

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As of Late

I’ve been working like a dog. It’s been good though. Bike Couriers is a good shop, I’m really glad to be there. I’m glad to be here in Louisville, the change for me personally was necessary, and this geographic change has been good.

Louisville is an interesting town. I’m not sure if it’s the town, the new settings, the new bike shop, the general inability to stay in front of a computer for more than an hour or so at a stretch, or what, but I just really haven’t been wanting to post to this site. I’ve taken a few photos here and there, but I just haven’t been in the mood to write exactly.

My time writing this blog may be coming to a close. Perhaps I’ll generate another elsewhere, or redo this one. I’m not sure whether or not I want this site to be a part of my identity any longer. Things have changed; we’ll see how they progress.

In the meantime, who is this guy?


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Post Arrival

We’ve made it to Louisville, Kentucky. It was a quick trip across, we’ve been here just over a week, and we’re just about settled. Old Louisville: cool, eclectic, part of town (loving this place, where I’m at right now). Bike Couriers: very cool bike shop, really Louisville’s only urban, inner-city shop (website updating soon); very Magna-rific at times.

I don’t have the internet at my leisure just yet, so this is an extremely brief post.

Bike racks here look like this:


sometimes like this:


and more commonly, like this:


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Time in a Bottle (Post RAO Re-cap)

This past weekend was the Race Across Oregon, an event that I’ve mentioned previously and have been anticipating for some time now. The one we all know and love, Daniel Featherhead was Seattle’s contender and while he didn’t finish the race, he rode outstandingly fast and hard. I myself am extremely proud of him, and am proud to have been on his support crew, regardless of the outcome. We all agree that we came away with great lessons learned.

After getting the support vehicle inspected the crew was educated in the course and what to do and not to do as a rookie. Somehow, while we were attempting to heed that advice, we managed to fulfill most everything advised not to do. One thing that seemed paramount in our problems was the lack of sleep that Daniel got—we in the crew certainly could have gotten a few half hours more sleep. As John stated, we were sandbagged from the start, maybe so.

But hey, we were excited, probably a little nervous too. Three o’clock in the morning comes quick. We were off, and soon enough Daniel was in the pack leaving the starting line. The crew’s first priority was getting fuel for the Mercedes-Benz 207D, I assume the “D” stands for diesel. Our attempt at getting fuel reserves for the many hundreds of potential miles with no fill-up stations were daunted by the one Portland station we stopped at only selling single gallon containers. This proved to be an “issue” later in the day.

The starting pack.

The first several hours of the race were great with excitement, getting a feeling of what it’s like to run support, how to do things, and how not to break rules (safety being priority number one for RAO organizers). We figured out the first day was when we were only allowed to leapfrog Daniel while he rode; van to rider hand-offs were not allowed during this time (this also meant reaching out to adjust derailleurs while hanging out the van window was prohibited), only able to get out and hand-off water and food to Daniel gave us the opportunity to stretch our legs frequently. The problem with this was all the other riders and their support crews were doing the same. This factor indicated to us an almost unrealistic and seemingly problematic dependence on cars (and fuel as we learned) in the RAO and likely other ultra marathon events like it. I’m not too sure what the alternative could be however—all in all it’s like an ironic co-dependence that’s always existed in bicycle racing.

Throughout the morning Dan’s progress and strength was high, impressive as usual. Especially with his care-free and can-do attitude beaming: at one point hearing his loud crew car approaching from behind he slung his spent banana at our windshield, just messing around, it produced peels of laughter in the van. Good ol’ Daniel, our nervousness for ourselves and for him diminished. This leapfrogging and attempts at communication via radio continued into the early afternoon, we couldn’t believe how early it was still, we couldn’t believe how much further this race entailed. 540 miles total—utterly ridiculous.

At one point the diesel situation became the Diesel Debacle, at Maupin we learned that the only pump in town didn’t offer diesel. We grew worried and spent the next half hour figuring out the logistics on having enough fuel for the long passage between fueling stations. Not only was their distance from each other an issue, their closing times were likewise a cumbersome detail to determine. There were many options, the best we determined left Daniel unsupported—with a loaded musette bag of course—for just under two hours and kept us on route (where we were able to get an idea where the leading three racers were). While the rig surprisingly got pretty good fuel efficiency, this Benzo was difficult to drive considering it’s lack of power steering and extremely short gears. Beware your choice of vehicles in next year’s RAO.

Extra—non-regulatory—containers of diesel

We retrieved Dan as he was ascending some pretty steep switchbacks on the way to Fossil. He looked tired and hot; mild feelings of guilt for abandoning him crept in. Once he reached the summit, we dashed those guilty thoughts as we witnessed him rocket down the other side. The leapfrogging proceeded the same way for the most part until we began to experiment with vehicle-to-rider hand-offs.

At some point in the later afternoon, Daniel decided to take a break from the bike. Much to our resistance, we let him bust a nap; his complaints of heat-exhaustion, breathing difficulty, and shuddering cold seemed evident. It was a difficult decision to make, but we let him sleep. In retrospect this may have been the time we should have bagged the race entirely, but he got up, ate some food, straddled the bike and rode on.

Daniel, about to devour a banana.

After darkness fell, the support vehicle was required to pace Dan with safety lights and such. His state seemed to progress further and further into exhaustion and delirium. At least that’s what it looked like through the windshield. At one point we broke out the binoculars to determine if he was riding in an appropriate gear—is there any delirium developing? is he aware of what he’s doing? It had the feeling of being one of those zookeepers observing and making notes about the caged gorillas. For the most part, it seemed good, but we had our concerns. We performed the hand-offs when needed and attempted to coddle him less; an attempt to keep him on his bike.

Some duration after Time Station 3 in Long Creek we were all growing weary, especially Daniel. I dozed in the passenger seat and was woke at 3:38 am while we were pulling over with Daniel; shortly after the decision to hang it up was made. After nearly a triple century in under twenty-four hours Daniel stepped foot into the van and took a very long nap, succumbing to his exhaustion, coldness, and at this point, likely delirium. It was a great weekend, ultra marathon style.

Check out some more photos here as well as a few updates from the weekend at Daniel’s site; donations can still be made for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America there as well. A big thanks to Daniel for letting me help on his team (I’ll fly out for future races!), thanks to the rest of the team (I think we rocked!), and thanks to the race organizers and other competitors (all very nice people).

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