The Real Windy City

Apologies to Chicago, but the windiest city in this country has got to be San Francisco. Sure, our famous blankets of fog get all the glory, but it’s the wind doing all the work. Try riding a bike in the afternoon here and you’ll soon be cursing the headwind.

So via Alice Feiring comes this awesome almost-real-time wind monitoring service.

Here’s a screen shot:

You may or may not think this is useful, but I’m looking forward to testing it out before another ride. Sort of like using the internet to check the surf or something … Good times for weather and map geeks!


Blogging Paradox: Fixed Gears on Spume

(Above: Fixed gear bikes like this one aren’t for everyone but they can sure be pretty)

So I’ve been randomly updating these pages since early December and, like many bloggers out there, I’ve become addicted to my stats counter. Not that I’ve ever done anything to market or promote this blog, but people seem to come to it from the most random places (I suspect this is true for other bloggers).

But since I mostly write about wine here, you would think, logically, that the most popular post would be something related to that subject. Except in this case you’d be wrong: By far the most popular post on Spume is this one. Maybe it’s the picture? I don’t know why, but it’s been viewed like a thousand times. Oh, Internet. How you confound!

So, for all of you arriving at Spume because of cycling (which I love) or fixed gear bikes (which I think are cool but a ridiculous trend), I wanted to post something fun from Craig’s List. Now, shortly after moving to San Francisco I could claim that I had my apartment, my bike, my relationship, my job and much of my furniture because of Craig’s List. Not so the case anymore, but that doesn’t mean the massive notice board isn’t a constant source of amusement and information. Some weekend trolling led me to the following post on fixed gear bicycles. Highly amusing!

Fixed Gear Death Trap

Date: 2008-03-16, 6:33PM PDT

I’m selling a complete fixed gear. It is totally ready to ride and will probably kill you.

I pushed it into a bike shop recently to have the rear wheel trued. At the bottom of my receipt it read, ‘My advice, get a new bike.’ So, I am. And maybe you are too! He was reserved enough not to use the words ‘death’ or ‘trap,’ but I’m not!

The frame is probably an old Raleigh that could have been worth something. It’s rattlecanned and chipping rapidly. The paint is almost completely gone where my car’s bike rack grips. There are, however, parts of the bike that are still entirely painted.

Looking a little deeper, the headset is completely fucked. Unless you can ride a unicycle, you can’t ride this bike with no hands. I’m expecting something terrible to happen in the headset in the next few rides that will pitch me onto the pavement. For the right price, this could be you!

Also, the pedals were never supposed to house toe cages. So, the cages are kind of ruined and inoperable. Sometimes when I’m skidding, my front foot will almost slip out and I’ll get all wobbly before righting myself. During these moments, my eyes are usually plate-wide with terror. This could be your terror!

There are still front and rear brakes installed, because it was always kind of a half-assed conversion. These could definitely be removed, though. The bike shop guy even tightened up the rear brakes for me. You could be the only fixie rider in SF with fully functional rear brakes.

But the brake cables are also completely shot, so I wouldn’t count on it.

The handlebar tape is falling off and one of the plugs is missing.

Also, I don’t remember what kind of cranks are on it but the pedals are super long. Every now and then when you’re riding they slam off the ground and get more ruined. Again, there’s some aspect of terror here.

The gear ratio is 52/20. The rear tire is flat and the Presta valve is broken off.

This bike is what my brother affectionately refers to as a ‘time bomb.’ Why? Because there’s no track hub or cog. Actually, there’s a freewheel with loctite in it. So far, I’ve been able to learn how to ride fixed on this setup without it falling apart. But someday it will. And when it does, someone is going to get fucking screwed.

I paid $80 for it 8 months ago in Buffalo. Considering we’re in San Francisco, the asking price is $350. I think that’s only fair.

PostingID: 608546617

One Less Car vs. One Less Bike

Bicycle hipsters in cities like San Francisco often sport “One Less Car” stickers on their rides (and I fully agree with that sentiment). More recently–and perhaps as a response to Critical Mass from disgruntled drivers–there’s been a wave of cars displaying “One Less Bike” stickers. Clever.

But my new favorite has to be the one pictured below, sent to me by my friend Rob (via SFist).


Fixed gear, or track-racing bikes, first became hot among bike messengers in major cities. They are notable for their lack of breaks, single gear and lack of a free spinning rear wheel; ie, pedal forward you go forward, pedal in reverse and the bike goes backwards. They’ve since spread to the wider hipster set, although common variations include single-speed non-fixed gear bicycles. Wannabee fixies, to put it bluntly. These often feature breaks and quite possibly a rider wearing tight jeans and a studded belt, or worse, a huge chain used to lock up the bike (popular in New York, although just plain stupid: fall on this and you risk shattering your hip).

I can understand the appeal of both bikes on one level, but in many places (like hilly San Francisco!) they don’t make much sense. Skid stops can be dangerous for obvious reasons, and those knees will only last so long, kids!

(Here’s a good article from the New York Times about fixed gear bikes and the culture that’s formed around them)

I’ll stick to my Bianchi Imola, thanks.

(NB: Post is sort of updated here)