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Incredibly Stupid And Extremely Close

Written by Boston Biker on May 04

Super fatal, the slightest fuck up and you are road pizza…but who hasn’t wanted to go 50mph while drafting a big truck…or as Ron who submitted this said “drafting like a boss”


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Posted in video | 3 Comments »

How To Make Poor Decisions: Race An Alley Cat

Written by Boston Biker on May 28

People don’t always choose to do things that are rational. That doesn’t mean that irrational (ok lets be honest, stupid) decisions can’t be a hell of a lot of fun. This is going to be a story about doing stupid things, stupid fun things. I don’t recommend anyone take this as an endorsement of doing stupid things, in fact if you read it carefully you will see that its actually a warning against said actions.

Before we get started perhaps you should know something about me. I am a bit of a speed addict. Nothing makes me happier than jumping on a bike and accelerating it to the highest speed I am capable of. Speed isn’t enough though, if it was just speed this post would be about track racing. No for me I need more than just fast bikes and fresh legs, I need a living city to get the thrills I need. I need traffic, pedestrians, pot holes, a million sensory inputs that all must be digested and processed at the speed of light.

I have the kind of brain that is hard to shut down. It keeps me up at night, it storms with ideas all day long. If you know me, you know I don’t sleep much, not because I am not tired, but because my brain has other plans. There are only a couple of ways I know to shut it down, to placate it with enough sensory input that it burns bright and hot and chugs calmly along. One of those ways is racing alley cats.

99% of the time I am a conscientious cyclist. I stop at every red light, I yield to pedestrians, I travel at reasonable speeds, hell I even signal my turns. I wear a helmet, my bike has lights. If you were to look at me you might never guess that I have a secret addiction to throwing myself head long as fast as I can into raging city traffic.

An alley cat is a bicycle race where a bunch of idiots race their bikes in city traffic at high speeds. They are based on the daily life of a messenger, most often you are given a manifest which has a series of check points spread out all over town. Your job is to get to each check point, get your manifest signed, and get to the finish line. You do this as fast as you can. There are no rules, no regulations, get from point A to point B as fast as humanly possible. You have to plan your own route, and you are not given the route ahead of time.

For anyone who has ridden in a large city this might sound like a recipe for disaster. You might be saying “holy shit that sounds stupid!” And you would be right. It is stupid, and its dangerous, and you can get hurt, or get killed. But damn if it isn’t a lot of fun too.

Going fast is easy. You go find a nice desert piece of country road and you hammer down on the pedals till you got nothing left. Going fast while riding in a swirling city environment, while you are trying to plan your route, while competing against other riders, that’s an entirely different game.

If you want to be good at alley cat racing you have to be a strong rider. You have to know the city like the back of your hand. And most importantly you have to understand how to ride inside a living city. You have to understand traffic, you have to understand pedestrians, road conditions, route planning, you have to be able to process a million things all at once and craft it into a flowing line.

You have to look in front, back, and side to side, take in everything, figure out where everything moving will be in ten seconds, find that bike shaped hole and throw yourself into it as fast as you can. It lights up every part of your mind, and exhausts your body. I never sleep better than after a race.

I remember the last race I did. Myself and several of my co-racers were approaching a stopped line of traffic. Two lanes of stopped traffic waiting at a red light. We all made the same decision, split the two right lanes and go down the middle of the two rows. I said “after you!” to the rider on my left, to which he replied “no, no, after you!”

A crazy grin formed on my face as I stood up on the pedals throwing more speed into my attack, leaning forward to get that extra little bit. Behind me the insane whoops of my co-racers echoed in my ears as they dropped in behind me. We had committed fully, and we could all feel the excitement.

Passing the cars at high speed produced a staccato whirring drum beat in my ears. The whir whir whir of their engines as I passed at high speed made the sound of helicopter blades. I reached back with my elbow to position my bag into the center of my back, then quickly shifted my hands to the center of my bars and tucked in my shoulders. I had no desire to smash into the rows of mirrors on each side of me, potentially knocking me off by bike, and royally pissing off the car owners and the racers behind me who would almost certainly plow right into me.

I approached the end of the row of traffic, look left, look right, look left again. Two cars approaching from the left, one turning, one going too slow to matter, one to the right moving fast. Brake for a half a second, turn sharply to the right, then hammer the pedals going back left, turn hard right again. Through two lanes of cross traffic like it didn’t exist. I am a drop of water passing through a cracked rock. Nothing can stop me if I just move fast enough.

Accelerating hard so I could grab the open rear right window of the cab in front of me, which proceeded to floor it. Cabbies always know when you are skitching. They spend so much time in their cars that they have a sixth sense of what is going on around them. In this case I was happy he tried to shake me by accelerating to 30+ miles per hour. It was a welcome rest, my legs felt wobbly and my heart was trying to dig an escape hatch out of my chest.

I let him drag me along at eye watering speeds until I saw my turn approaching, I let go with a nod into his side mirror to show my thanks and shot around the turn, banking hard to compensate for the momentum. As you approach what you think is a check point you often call out “CHECK POINT!” hoping beyond measure to see a group of people shoot up their hands. You charge forward, skid to a stop, whip out your increasing crinkled and destroyed manifest shove it into their hands and get your check mark. Before you even have a moment to enjoy the mercy of standing still you are back on your bike pumping speed into the pedals shooting off to your next destination.

These races often last about an hour, and often the entire hour is spend in a mad dash through the heaviest traffic, craziest pedestrian mess, and worst road conditions in Boston. They are usually about 20 miles long, and often take you to places you have never been, down roads you have never used.

The competition is friendly and people often help each other navigate, while at the same time calling out helpful information about intersections “Clear left! Car right!, Ped UP!” can be heard between the panting. The good racers work as a team slowing cars by charging at them opening holes for the people behind them. We all want to win, but we also want everyone to finish in one piece.

The finish lines are a pile of bikes and coughing racers, their lungs shredded from turning themselves inside out for an hour. Everyone checks to make sure everyone made it safely back. People often show up bleeding from the legs and hands, crashing is common. You pant, you sweat, you sit in a heap and cough, some people smoke cigarettes (its hilarious). Its unlike any other sporting event I have ever been to.

Usually After the race there is a huge party. People get drunk and dance and celebrate that they are alive. You see a lot of short shorts, big calves, and even bigger messenger bags. Its like a party full of drunken tatted up turtles with t-rex legs. Sweat perfumes the air, and everyone has a good time.

When the adrenaline wears off and you can take a breath without coughing up a bloody mist, when the party has burned itself out, you ride home in the cool night air. Your legs are tired, and satisfied. You remind yourself that you have returned to a world in which red means stop, where you don’t scream at every person in the street to “Make a hole!” Life slows down again. You get home and have just enough energy left to shower before you fall into a deep peaceful sleep.

Racing an alley cat is stupid. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that has a great aversion to breaking bones, to getting hurt, or to breaking the law. But it is fun, dangerous stupid fun.


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Posted in fun | 8 Comments »

Dear Cycling Community…

Written by Boston Biker on Jul 19

cranky-early-morning-1

Dear Cycling Community,

Riding your bicycle over into the cross walk to run a red light doesn’t make it less illegal. In fact it puts you in conflict with pedestrians, makes it more likely you will be struck by turning cars, is still illegal, and also takes longer. So long in fact that I often find myself passing you as you try to merge back into traffic after the light has turned green and you are stuck in the cross walk like some kind of confused drunkard.

Please for the love of all things holy, if you simply must run a red light follow these simple tips.

1. Come to a complete stop (If stopping violated your rules of red running at least slow down enough that you can complete step 2)
2. Look both ways
3. Cross quickly IN A STRAIGHT LINE!

If you simply must break the law, because that extra 10 seconds are vital to maintaining your time, or because your 100 year old rust bucket of a bicycle will seize up if you stop grinding, or because you have a power meter, or because you are simply ignorant of the laws of this fine state, then please do us all a favor and do so in a straight line, as safely as you can, and do it as fast as possible.

I am really getting tired of having to ride way out over to one side to allow you to merge back into to traffic, I am sick of watching you almost hit pedestrians, and I can no longer take the shock to my heart as I watch you nearly get plastered by turning cars. If you are pissing me off this badly I can only imagine what the motorists and pedestrians are thinking.

To put it bluntly, if you are going to break the law, do it with some class.

Yours In Cycling
Boston Biker

PS. A much finer solution would be to stop at the red light with me, we could have a chat, it would be fun.

PPS. If you are going to go into the cross walk get off your bike and run across, it might be good practice for Cross season.

PPPS. Running red lights doesn’t make you faster, being faster does.


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Posted in advocacy, bostonbiker | 29 Comments »

My Least Favorite Excuse

Written by Boston Biker on Jan 11

So here is a little something for everyone who drives a car to think about. Driving your car is not a right, George Washington didn’t suffer the indignity of wooden teeth so you can ply your SUV through the streets of Boston. God didn’t send Jebus down to die for your right to be uppity in your Prius. And It sure as hell doesn’t say anywhere in any of our founding documents that you get the right to life liberty and the pursuit of a Honda.

complete_moron

It’s a privilege, one you need to EARN. You have to pass a test, have to get a license, mostly because cars are big, heavy, and dangerous. It is pretty damn easy to hurt yourself or someone else with one. If at some point you fail to live up to the fairly simple set of rules set forth by the powers that be, you shouldn’t be allowed to continue to operate said vehicle.

So that is why, when the plain clothes Cambridge police officer, pulled across two lanes (and the bike lane) in Harvard square nearly hitting me and two of my friends, I was very disappointed to hear my least favorite excuse come out of his face when I confronted him about it.

“I didn’t see you.”

No shit d-bag, I mean I gave you enough credit to assume that you wouldn’t have tried to run three people over if you had seen me, that’s not the point. The point is ITS YOUR JOB TO SEE ME. If you can’t be bothered to look before changing TWO lanes (and a bike lane) perhaps you are not up to the task of driving. There could have been a puppy in that lane, or a bus load of nuns, or a child, or hell even another car. Your a cop for Pete’s sake, I expect more from you than the average person.

From this point forward, the phrase,

“I didn’t see you”

shall be replaced by

“I am a moron and I no longer deserve the right to operate my multi-toned vehicle, please punch me in the face, because I am an idiot.”

If you are not looking, you shouldn’t be driving. You are going to get yourself or someone else killed.


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Posted in bostonbiker | 6 Comments »

Action Alert: Funding For Biking Under Attack!

Written by Boston Biker on Sep 15

Got the following from MassBike, Seems the republicans are not happy enough ruining health care and environmental legislation they also need to attack biking…jerks.

—–

ACTION ALERT
Funding for Biking and Walking Under Attack!

Transportation Enhancements (TE) is the primary source of federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects, and it is under attack again. We expect Senator Coburn (R-OK) to offer two amendments to strike funding to TE in the transportation appropriations bill being debated on the Senate floor TOMORROW (9/16/09). The two Coburn amendments are S. Amendment 2370 and S. Amendment 2371.

The Transportation Enhancements program has provided between one-half and three-quarters of all Federal funding invested in bicycling and walking improvements in the last 20 years. More than $250 million is at stake in fiscal year 2010 – if Coburn’s amendments are successful it will affect hundreds of trail projects, sidewalks, bicyclist education programs, bike rack on bus programs, and roadway improvements for bicyclists.

S. Amendment 2370 will prohibit funding for Transportation Enhancements if the Highway Trust Fund does not contain amounts sufficient to cover unfunded highway authorizations (and the Fund is bankrupt).

S. Amendment 2371 will allow states to opt out of the 10% set aside rule that require states to spend at least 10% of their surface transportation funding on Transportation Enhancements.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: We expect the amendments to be offered and voted on during Senate floor debate tomorrow, Wednesday, September 16. Please call Senator Kerry’s office immediately at (202) 224-2742 and urge him to vote NO on S. Amendment 2370 and S. Amendment 2371 to the FY10 transportation appropriations bill.

Click here for more information, including specific talking points.


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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Do You Want Protected Bike Lanes On The Longfellow? April 13, 2018
      TweetFrom Cambridge Bike Safety: The Longfellow Bridge, a critical bike connector to Boston, is going to be restriped and reopened in May. You may be surprised to learn that in the final design, the inbound bike lane will be similar … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 7 April 7, 2018
      TweetThis is better! A sunny, somewhat cool spring day. Me on my bike, my daughter on a trail-a-bike, and my son on his bike. We rode down the Southwest Corridor, stopped at Ula Cafe for lunch, rode over by Jamaica … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • Riding Lexington Street, Waltham, July 4, 2015 April 7, 2018
      TweetIt should be noted that bike lanes have been installed on much of the stretch of Lexington Street shown in the videos. Videos showing the new conditions are in preparation. Two videos, for now: A demonstration of lane control in … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Riding Lexington Street, Waltham, July 4, 2015 April 7, 2018
      TweetIt shoudl be noted that bike lanes have been installed on much of the stretch of Lexington Street shown in the videos. Videos showing the new conditions are in preparation. Two videos, for now: A demonstration of lane control in … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • #30DaysofBiking Days 3,4,5, and 6 April 6, 2018
      TweetIt’s been cold, rainy, windy, and I’m not sleeping well. These days of biking are short rides on Hubway to get from here to there, head down, and shivering. This is not the joyous Days of Biking I signed up … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 2 April 3, 2018
      Tweet Easter Monday.  The first work day of April.  Today is the day I’m going to start riding my bike to work again! Or not.  Because it’s snowing.  And I’m tired and lazy. But every bit of biking counts no … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 1 April 2, 2018
      TweetI didn’t think I was going to go for a bike ride on Easter Sunday.  As tends to be my habit, I ride less and less in the winter time and then find it hard to get back into the … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • Police Seek Driver Who Struck Cyclist In Hit And Run March 23, 2018
      Tweet Cambridge police are asking for the public’s help in finding a driver who allegedly struck a 14-year-old boy on the morning of March 15 and fled the scene. A silver Toyota Prius struck the boy around 7:22 a.m. that … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Pewter Cast “Gem” Earrings March 9, 2018
      Carved, cast and made these pewter (lead free) “gem” earrings.  They have a lovely faceted surface that catches the light and has a lot of depth and interesting texture.  My first real effort at making my own beads.  If you lik... Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Silver “Rock” Earrings March 9, 2018
        I carved and cast these silver “rock” earrings for my partner. The hardest part was getting those little jump rings soldered to the top of the “rock” without melting them or the rock…but I did it and she loved them. Continue reading →
      Boston Biker