Sunday, July 31, 2011

DIYBIKING.COM Presents Folding Bike Week!



Welcome to Folding Bike Week; a seven day collection of all things having to do with sharks.

Wait. That's Shark Week.

Okay, Folding Bike Week does in fact fall on Shark Week, a seven day collection of shark-related content that is on the Discovery Channel that premiers tonight. In fact, that's an easy way to remember when FBW is scheduled. Like sharks, folding bikes are powerful, mysterious, have been around a long time and can bite if you don't respect them. Like Shark Week, Folding Bike Week is something everyone looks forward to every summer. Or, will look forward to every summer, since this is the first one.

As any regular reader knows, I believe in finding ways to integrate cycling more into day to day life, and folding bikes have been a way to do that. Some can fit under a desk at work. Some can fit in a suitcase and fly to distant lands. Some can fit in the hold of a boat or in a small hall closet. Some just...are.

One thing I've noticed in some countries I've visited is folding bikes are more a part of how people get around. I saw several when I was riding around Lisbon and getting lost on day one and day two of my Portugal trip (part III will be posted after Folding Bike Week) and midway through day one, I saw this:

At that moment, I thought to myself: this is a country that understands what folding bikes can do for the everyday commuter. You don't have to drive all the way to work, you can skip some parts you don't like with a folding bike.

You can too.

If you visit a local bike store, chances are excellent they may have at least one folding bike for you to take a look at. For instance, Tony's Bikes on 108 Broad Street in Milford, Connecticut, is currently carrying this Raleigh: simple, small, an internal hub for gears and less than $600. Think of the wear and tear on the car you can save and the gentle exercise you can have with a bike like this:

If you live near Milford, I urge you to visit Tony's Bikes and tell them that DIYBIKING.COM's Folding Bike Week brought you to the store and made you want to look at folding bikes. In fact, do that at any local bike store. Ask questions. Get answers. Have a discussion. Walk out with an understanding of these special bikes (or, failing that, a new bike and one more bike shop employee who knows about this special seven day period). 

Choose to be touched by Folding Bike Week.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Biking Nations: The Portugal Trip, Part II



Day two of Lisbon looked as though it would be just as beautiful as day one. It was going to be a short biking day as my wife and I planned to make a mad dash by train to Cascais during her early afternoon break at the Urban Sketchers Symposium.

Early in the morning, we raced each other (she in a taxi and I on my bike) from the Sheraton Lisboa to A Brasileira so we could have breakfast together before her class. Thanks to the address debacle of the night before, I now knew that area well and easily beat the cab.



When I locked the bike up I couldn't help once again noticing how beautiful Lisbon is and why I didn't mind the hills: you can actually see interesting things.

After some good coffee and a ham sandwich, we separated so she could go to class and I could try out a a second date with Lisbon. I first had to descend the hills into Baixa. Thankfully, the guy at Bike Iberia did an excellent job tuning the brakes.



Within minutes, I was in the heart of Baixa with all the shops and cafés. Off in the distance I could see Arco da Rua Augusta, which translated into English roughly means: 'you can't miss it.'



I didn't stay too long: I only had the morning and I was determined to use it effectively. My goal was to cross Baixa and check out St. Jorge's Castle, which is positioned on a large hill in Alfama. This meant looking at maps and biking uphill at the same time. I did pretty well with the second part as I made it up to the cathedral.

 
I climbed further, pausing at the most interesting tree I had ever seen.



I stopped to take some pictures of the river while I gained altitude and felt like another cup of coffee and a pastry. So I found both, which was not hard to do.



I continued on and soon found that my second date with Lisbon was just as fun - and awkward - as my first. I didn't make it up to the castle and had once again become lost. So lost in fact, I had to use the little 'breadcrumb trail' feature on the bike GPS to find my way back to roads I recognized. Still, it was a beautiful ride.



Once I found my hotel I had only an hour before I'd have to change clothes and meet my wife, so I decided to ride as far as I could for a half hour before turning around and heading back. Since the bike path the day before took me east, I decided to ride west. First, I headed back through Baixa and past Pr. Do Comercio, which is on the other side of Arco da Rua Augusta that I saw earlier that morning.



Along Avenida Infante D. Henrique (roughly translated: 'busy road by the river') I got to build up some speed on the level ground as I headed west. Eventually, at the thirty minute mark, I arrived here and had to turn back.



I realized that I had traveled in a pattern resembling the letter “C” so remembering that the quickest distance between two points was a direct line, I decided to cut across.

As it turned out, there were two problems with this strategy. First, I was in Lisbon so many of the streets weren't in a 'direct line' and second, there was a lot of climbing involved.



After making numerous twists and turns I eventually made it back to my hotel - an hour and ten minutes after I set off on the one-hour run - which brought the morning's trip to 16 miles. I had to quickly shower, change clothes, then take a reasonably priced taxi back to A Brasileira, where I sat outside with a cappuccino and another pastry as I waited for my wife to arrive. It was another great day of biking, but I still wanted to get to the bottom of the mixed signals Lisbon was sending me. There isn't a lot to like about cobblestones, steep hills and narrow streets by themselves, but for whatever reason they all work in Lisbon and combine into a fun cycling experience. But I was still having trouble finding my way around easily.

My third and final day of riding was one sunset away. Would Lisbon stand me up on the third date? Would I even show up for the date because I had gotten lost?

I didn't have much time to answer either question, because my wife arrived and after a quick lunch we set off for the train station that would take us on the 35 minute trip to Cascais. Upon arrival, we literally had less than an hour to sightsee, so we took another reasonably priced cab up to Boca do Inferno to look at the coast.



I noticed a bike path nearby that stretched along the road and snaked off into the distance. As we took the cab back to the station I realized that for my third and final date cycling in Portugal I should do something ambitious and create a plan I'd have to adhere to: I would ride through Lisbon in the morning, take a train from Rossio station to Sintra, ride from Sintra to Cabo da Roca (the most western point of mainland Europe), ride to Cascais, and take the train to Algés station, which would put me right next to the end of the bike path in Belem where I could easily ride back to Lisbon...where I'd return to the hotel (without getting lost), change clothes, and then ride casually but triumphantly back to Bike Iberia (without getting lost) to return my bicycle before the 7:30 closing time. I had no idea how many riding miles it would be but I was sure it would be more than thirty.

It was an ambitious plan, but I was determined to impress myself and ensure Lisbon wouldn't give me a “let's just be friends” talk at the end of the next date.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Biking Nations: The Portugal Trip, Part I


Several months ago my wife said she wanted to go to the Urban Sketching Symposium in Lisbon, Portugal. I knew what I wanted to do but figuring out how to do it was complicated. It was cost prohibitive to airline check one of my bikes ($400 round trip. Seriously?) and my trusted Dahon Matrix would never fold small enough to fit in a baggage claim-friendly case. This meant renting a bike, and in the weeks before the trip I got it done. Barely. What I didn't do was plan my rides in a country I had never been to before and couldn't speak or read the language.

More on that in a minute.

My wife warned me about my desire to spend three days riding around Lisbon. The words hilly and cobblestones came up frequently. But this was a vacation. Since I bike when I am on vacation, I wasn't going to let a little thing like terrain get in the way. When I left her at the university where the event was taking place, I took a good look at the city as I strolled a few blocks to where I was renting the bike.

Following a map I got at the Sheraton, I made it to Bike Iberia. The large number of bikes that were being placed on the sidewalk in the minutes before the 9:30am start time made it easy to find.

Two weeks before I had been exchanging emails with Ana, an employee there, to figure out what bikes they had available and what the rates were. I wanted to rent a bike for the three days of my wife's conference and stash it in my hotel room at the Sheraton. Relieved to find that Ana was just as friendly and helpful in person as she had been over email, she showed me to my bike.


For 73 Euros, this Scott touring bike was going to be mine for three days: it was well used but perfectly tuned with a comfortable riding position, a rear rack and gel saddle. For about 20 Euros less one could rent a bike that did not have a front suspension fork but I was sure I'd appreciate whatever suspension I could get on the roads of Lisbon. Of course, when I arrived at Bike Iberia I was carrying a few things I wanted to use to make the bike a little more...me.




Try as I might, I couldn't get the better bike box in my suitcase so I brought a Cannondale trunk bag, a tiny frame bag that I attached to the top tube to put my digital camera in, a map pocket and my Garmin Bike GPS. Even though Bike Iberia provides helmets (though the country doesn't require users to wear them) I brought my own as I did not want to be without my helmet mounted rearview mirror.

Ana noticed my trunk bag and wasn't surprised when I declined the use of saddlebags or a handlebar bag to put the store-provided cable lock in. What I accepted though was a map of Lisbon that was better detailed than the one the hotel and provided as well as Ana's help pointing out places I could ride. She showed me the bike path along the river (about 8 km) that would lead to Belém and a place where I could buy some of Portugal's famous pastries.

She also said I could take a train to Sintra (a beautiful town northwest of Lisbon famous for its castles that my wife and I visited via train and bus the day before) and ride to the seaside town of Cascais along the coast before taking the train from Cascais back to Lisbon. It sounded intriguing, but I thought the first day would best be spent on as uncomplicated a ride as possible. All I needed to do was meet my wife at 7:30 at the symposium - which meant I needed to be done riding for the day no later than 6:30 so I could shower and change before heading out to meet her.

After thanking Ana for the generous amount of time she gave me, I slathered on some sunscreen from the wipes I had brought and immediately set off for the bike path and rode toward the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge.


It is a beautiful path; one just needs to pay attention to the changes in how it is marked as it snakes along the river.

The thing that had surprised me the most about the trail, and of Lisbon from what I had seen of it so far, was that there were not many cyclists. I've been to cities like London, Frankfurt and Cambridge and you can just see how bikes are just stitched into the landscape. On the cab ride from the hotel I could count the number of cyclists I saw on one hand and didn't see much in the way of bike racks. But I remembered it was a Thursday. Maybe more riders would show up by the weekend.

Eventually I came to Padráo Dos Descobrimentos, a monument honoring exploration that is far easier to look at than to spell.


Shortly after I passed Torre De Belèm, which meant the trail was coming to an end and I'd have to turn around.

I decided to follow Ana's advice and leave the trail at Belèm so I could visit a famous shop to pick up one of Portugal's signature pastries, which can best be described as a cross between a common tart and a really good Boston Cream donut.

I completely lucked out with my timing: I easily made it into the shop and even chatted with the person behind the counter who was admiring my helmet rearview mirror before getting a pastry for just under one Euro. Just as I was leaving a huge tour group entered and they all waited in line to get their hands on the same thing. I briefly thought about selling my pastry to the person at the back of the line for five Euros, but I thought better of it.

Now, I left the pastry shop and the bike path behind entirely and did what I wanted to do: ride around Lisbon and do some sightseeing. That meant riding on the streets and being wary of trolley car tracks.

To my pleasant surprise, I found the drivers of Lisbon to be a mostly pleasant bunch who usually gave me plenty of room when passing and didn't ignore me when I'd merge into one of the city's many traffic circles. I was thankful for my rearview mirror so I could see them coming, but I still felt safe on a bike and didn't feel like an enemy in occupied territory. The other nice thing is that in Portugal, the cars drive on the right side of the road so there was no need to relearn how to watch for traffic.

It was good that I felt safe, because I got lost. Several times. Yes, the cyclist who brought a map pocket and his own GPS got lost frequently. I don't have the best sense of direction and found the frequent elevation changes that came with the short, steep hills disorienting at times (it was also slightly euphoric to be 'off the grid' for a few days). I quickly discovered that being lost in Lisbon is a very pleasant kind of lost, because I found that when I was looking for something, like a specific street or a landmark, I'd come to another, like the Aquaduto das Águas Livres, or, roughly translated, “a really cool aqueduct built in the 18th century.”

After checking out the aqueduct, I meandered around Parque Florestal De Monsanto for a while and ended up pumping the pedals up a hill to get a rather grand view of the city.

Soon I got rather hungry and decided to leave the park and stop somewhere for lunch. I got lost leaving the park and ended up in a nice residential neighborhood and had to ride a little while before finding a little café.

Here I was presented with a small problem: I couldn't speak Portuguese, the menu wasn't in English and the waitress couldn't speak English (okay, three small problems). However, I did have an ace up my sleeve: I can eat anything.

Since it was late in the afternoon and I didn't want to eat too much I picked the least expensive item on the menu. Six Euros, I thought, would be the right price for a sandwich, right?

I waited at a table and admired the un-understandable and heated discussion going on among a group of men who were watching the Tour de France on the wall mounted TV. Within minutes, my order, which was not a sandwich, arrived.

Now, it was my own fault for not bringing a Portuguese phrasebook. But on the flipside: if you eat anything and are planning a trip to Portugal you are going to love it. I never intentionally order whole fish, but I saw the humor in my situation (I even ate an eyeball for fun) and the meal itself was amazingly good. Two fishes, a salad and some potatoes for six Euros is value.

After lunch, I spent some more time getting lost in Lisbon, eventually finding my way back to Eleven, a very nice restaurant my wife and I ate at the night before.


By the time I decided to stop, I had gone 21 miles. I was having a lot of fun riding around and getting lost, but I couldn't put my finger on my relationship with Lisbon. The city was fun but it didn't seem interested in allowing me to find my way around easily. It's a little like an attractive woman you want to date who only wants to be friends.

Eager to try and take my relationship with Lisbon the next level, I decided to walk from the Sheraton to the symposium to meet my wife at 7:30. I of course took a map and set off at 6:30 to give myself plenty of time to get there.

Unfortunately, I neglected to bring the piece of paper that had the symposium address. Panic officially set in at 7:25 as I couldn't ask most people where the symposium was because I didn't have an address. I also couldn't call my wife because I didn't have a cell phone, and I knew that if I didn't arrive by 7:35 she would automatically assume I had been killed and was tangled up in a trolley's undercarriage.

I arrived at the symposium at 7:42, covered in sweat from running. My wife hadn't yet used her phone to call the hotel but she had, of course, been worried. We laughed about the experience over dinner.

When we got back to our hotel (which didn't object when I wheeled the bike into the lobby earlier that day - thank you Sheraton Lisboa) I studied the city maps, determined that I would be able to lean in for a kiss by the end of my date with Lisbon. Whether the city would kiss me back was another matter. 



Friday, July 15, 2011

Thinking Like a Wily Bike Thief (or not)

While pedaling on Shippan Avenue the other day I spotted a woman on a mountain bike stapling tag sale signs to utility poles. I struck up a conversation with her easily (the recumbent is a great ice-breaker) as we rode to the sale together. By the time we passed Ocean Drive East I had told her about DIYBIKING.COM and said I hoped to find a bike at her tag sale I could use for my 'Saved from the Scrapheap' series.

I must have been unusually charming that day: by the time we got to the sale, she said she'd give me an old bike that had belonged to her mother for free. All I had to do was follow her to her home to get it (I picked it up in the car later).

However.


I accepted the bike sight unseen and she confessed the blue Raleigh had been locked to another bike's wheel for some time and she didn't have the key. When I get free bikes, I'm used to seeing them in rough shape, but this was another animal altogether. But she was eager to give it to me and I was interested in another challenge so I accepted (I thank you profusely).

Getting it into the car was tough. Getting out of the car was tougher. Getting it down the basement steps was relatively dangerous. But I got it done and now I knew exactly what I needed to do: open the lock.

But how?

All I've ever known about U-locks is the bigger the better. The recumbent carries a Kryptonite New York Lock that I've had ever since I got the bike. It's filthy and worn but as far as I know no thieves have tried to penetrate it. For the Dahon Matrix I went a bit weirder with the Masterlock Street Cuff. For going to the grocery store or the like I just chain it to the frame, but if I'm in New York City I fold the bike, lock one end to the front wheel, thread the chain through the rear wheel and triangle, and lock the other end to something.

I don't think anyone has tried to open that, either. But now I had to open this one.


I decided that in order to open a bike lock, I needed to play the part of a wily bike thief. I had to pretend the lock was attached to a much nicer bike, but this was, after all, a fantasy.  Determined to open the lock as fast and as noiselessly as possible, I decided to see how quickly I could open the lock. I started at precisely 7:00pm.

The first thing I did was look at the lock. I couldn't tell who made it or when, and even if could that information wouldn't do me much good anyway.


But I remembered that there was a brand of lock that could be picked using the back of a Bic pen. Was this the brand? There was only one way to find out. I rummaged for a Bic pen but only came up with a tan and maroon one that came from a Marriott. I pried the end off and jammed it in the lock. Nothing. I wiggled it around for several minutes. Still nothing. I pushed it in further and only managed to put a streak of black ink on my forearm. This was ridiculous. I headed into the welding room and brought out a tool to show the lock I meant business.


Yes, the Ryobi ONE+ reciprocating saw. It would be a lot noisier than the pen, sure, but I was positive this tool wouldn't let me down. Plus it was cordless, so it was plausible a cunning criminal would be able to carry it with him. I held onto the lock to keep it still and pulled the trigger.

I wish I could tell you the saw cut through the lock like hot butter, but no such thing happened. Instead, the air was filled with a shrieking sound, the blade was dulled and there was barely any indication on the lock that anything had happened. There was so much noise I was sure that if I were a real criminal I would have been caught, arrested, and let off by Casey Anthony's attorneys.

7:08.

I wondered if I could use a pipe cutter on the lock somehow, but there was no way it would work with the other front wheel in the way. Since there was still a little bit of bite left on the reciprocating saw blade, I did the obvious.


Even when I tossed the wheel aside and put the pipe cutter back on, I knew the lock would resist. All I was able to do was cut the rubber tubing encasing the lock and dull the pipe cutter (which I used to cut the old Diamondback in half to create the DiamondSchwinn). I quickly abandoned the pipe cutter, but the clock was already at 7:11.

Finally, I picked up my 15+ year old Dremel rotary tool and attached a cut-off wheel. I plugged it in, put on goggles and ear protection and set to work.


 BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ....BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ....

Eight minutes later...



BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ....BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...

I was making progress.I had to hold the tool and the lock steady and keep the sparks from burning the hair off my arm. It was working. I was now over 3/4 of the way through...but I didn't feel like using the Dremel any more. So I grabbed my small sledgehammer and gave the lock a good whack.

Then I gave it a better whack. Then one more. Finally:


The lock opened. The time: 7:22. I had opened the lock in 22 minutes.

I don't know any bike thieves I can compare and contrast times or techniques with. At any rate I doubt many of them carry a generator and a Dremel with them to open up locks. Given that it took me about ten minutes to cut open the lock with the corded Dremel, I doubt the little battery powered one would be faster.

So the lesson here is if you want to defeat a lock (that's yours, of course), skip the reciprocating saw and other tools and go straight for the Dremel. Actually, just don't forget your combination and never lose your key.

SPECIAL NOTE:

Folding Bike Week begins on July 31st. Be sure to remember it, make a note, and tell your friends. An easy way to remember Folding Bike Week is that it is the same time as Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. After all, sharks and folding bikes have several things in common: they've been around a very long time, can bite you if you don't respect them, are  misunderstood, and deserve a week in the spotlight. Be sure to spread the word and tune in!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Top Banana: A Very Special Episode of 'Saved from the Scrapheap'

It's summertime, so I want everyone to keep a sharp eye out for kids on their bikes. And grown-ups too. And not just during the summer, but in all seasons in the year.

Summer is always a special time for biking for the same reason family vacations are always special: it's a time to relax, have fun, and reconnect. And what better way to reconnect with everything that made summer biking fun than with this:


This is the bike you rode when you were a kid. In fact, it is so old it may actually be the bike you rode when you were a kid.

For less than the price of a DVD I picked this up at an estate sale in Stamford. It may not have moved an inch in more than 30 years, but you can feel the summer magic just by looking at this one-speed Iverson with a banana seat. The logo itself is absolutely priceless: as you can see, it is a riderless bike careening out of control on a curvy road. Probably because the young rider fell off and landed in a ditch.


But the thing that makes this bike special is the banana seat. It meant you could grow with the bike and possibly carry a friend along with you/use the seat in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. I had a bike very much like this one when I was growing up that I always used during summer vacations. When I started to outgrow it, I attached it to two pontoons, replaced the front tire with a wooden rudder, and made the rear tire into a paddle so I could ride it on the water. But that's another post for another day - and I hope my parents dig up the old pictures.

Now this bike, as you can see, wasn't in the best shape when I picked it up. But I was convinced that it had some more summer fun left in it. So I set to work repairing it.

However, I quickly found that I was out of my league with the front wheel. I inflated the tire to the proper PSI and about ten minutes later....BOOM!


The tube exploded right through the sidewall. I immediately thought of Will Smith's character in 'I am Legend': It's three years after the end of the world, he's living alone in New York City surrounded by zombies and he continually says: 'I can still fix this.'

Thinking positively, I continued cleaning up the bike and making sure the rest of it was in decent working order. I then removed the wheel (which could barely turn around anyway) and went rummaging through my bin 'o parts. Before long, I came up with a solution.


The front wheel, while smaller than the people at Iverson had in mind when they built the thing, was true and solid. Even though it did not explode when I inflated it I was careful when inflating both it and the rear tire...which wasn't in good shape.


Still, I remained confident it would stay together long enough for a good summer ride. Sort of.

When we were all kids and rode bikes like this one, wearing a helmet never occurred to us. But to remain safe and stay true to 21st century overprotectiveness, I not only put on a helmet, but I wore the hard plastic elbow guards I wear when I go mountain biking.


Also, to make sure I wouldn't get lost, the banana seat bike would be equipped with my trusty Garmin bike GPS. When I was a kid it didn't occur to me I'd one day ride a bike that used satellites circling the earth to keep track of where I was going, but no matter.



As you know from other posts, I do like to promote the DIYBIKING.COM brand when I'm out and about. But this bike didn't have a rear rack on which I could attach the better bike box. I decided not to let that stop me.


As I mentioned, a great thing about the banana seat is that you could grow with the bike and change your riding position as you got taller. I'm sure there's a fine line between a 12-year-old getting on a bike owned by his 10-year-old brother and a 5'11" 36-year-old man with a helmet and elbow guards mounting a bike that should have mounted a Dumpster years ago, but no matter.

I planned a series of summer activities to do with the bike for a short ride. The first thing I wanted to do was to ride exactly one mile and record my thoughts about the experience, much like I did with the Coffee Cup Challenge.

I activated the GPS and set off. Immediately I was thankful for the comfortable seat on my recumbent and the Thudbuster seatpost I use on my grown-up bikes. I must have had a better tolerance level for the seat when I was eleven, but at 36, I was feeling every crack in the road...and well aware the rear wheel was badly out of true.

I was enjoying myself but remained thankful I was wearing the helmet and elbow gaurds. Like I said, the bike may not be built for a 36-year-old rider because the handling was rather twitchy. I soon got used to it...and I realized that since I had the GPS I could (why not?) figure out the bike's top speed.

Remembering the glorious summers of the early 1980s, I pedaled as hard as I could on the road leading up to West Beach, keeping an eye on the spedometer. The bike vibrated uncomfortably and my legs were a blur, but I kept the Iverson under control...and hit a top speed of 20.4 miles an hour. The last time I rode a bike like this I vaguely remember telling friends (or them telling me) that I was going '1,000 miles an hour!' but I guess it was more of a feeling than a reality.

I allowed the bike to coast to a crawl before taking a quick but triumphant picture.


Wrapping up the mile, I took the bike onto the dirt near the boat launch ramp and stopped next to some spent (and probably illegal) fireworks.


It was time for the next summer activity: put a baseball card in the spokes so the bike would sound like a motorcycle.

I do not own baseball cards. What I do have a lot of though are business cards, so I decided to see if one would work and produce the sound that I remember from our youth.


With the card secured, I set off. Immediately I was met with that sound...but it wasn't quite as glorious as I remembered. The sputtering sound wasn't consistent and nice, but rather jagged, which told me that the spokes of the wheel were a lot more bent than I thought. So the bike sounded like the kind of motorcycle it would be: missing on a cylinder and about ready to fall apart.

Still, it had some of that summer magic and I think the look the old guy on the park bench who was (and I do mean, was) enjoying a quiet summer morning at the beach gave me was that of wonder. Or maybe it was confusion. With the elbow gaurds, the better bike box and the noisy sputtering sound, I may have looked and sounded like Mad Max as a ten-year-old than a guy trying to write a serious blog post. No matter. I was having fun.


Now it was time for the final summer activity: laying a skid. Bikes today, even bikes for kids, normally have caliper brakes and both the front and back wheel. This bike? A coaster brake. This meant you could pedal like mad and throw your legs in reverse and skid. I only wish there were others there with me so I could have a contest on who could make the longest black mark in the road.

Instead, I decided to do best out of three...if the bike would stay together long enough for me to make that many marks. As I tried to remember how much the deductable was on my health insurance, I got the bike up to speed and slammed on the brake.

Once again, I was met with a sensation I do not recall from youth: instead of making a SPSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! noise and leaving a consistent black mark, the Iverson shook violently and hopped up and down while skidding; almost as if the bike was choking on the road it was trying to eat.

Still, I did have a result and didn't crash. So I did it two more times and ended up with this: a skid four parking spaces long. I'm pretty sure I did even better when I was eleven, but my 11-year-old self wasn't around to challenge me.


I would have kept it up and gone for a fourth skid, but I wasn't sure the dodgy rear tire was going to hold up much longer. So I did not engage in a fourth summer activity (which would have been taking the bike off a sweet jump) and instead took it home. As I pushed it up the front steps, the better bike box fell off, which told me that after 2.07 miles and an average speed (including all stops, mind you) of 7.1 miles an hour, it was time to retire the Iverson.

Even though I will probably never ride a bike like this again and you may not either, it is important to remain connected to the fun and excitement biking brought you as a kid by whatever means necessary. Including, but not limited to, putting a business card in the spokes of your Trek Madone. So enjoy riding with friends this summer, wear a helmet, and be home before it gets dark.