Saturday, August 29, 2015
The best way to speed physical and mental recovery from an unpleasant event, as everyone knows, is retail therapy, better known as "buying stuff." Following my unpleasant event I went in full tilt, and I'm not done yet.
I started with bike cameras. Though having a camera on my bike would have in no way prevented my event from occuring, it might have been nice, assuming the camera wasn't stolen too, to have a video record of the whole sloppy mess. Plus, being as every automobile on the road is out to kill cyclists and it would be nice to have a record of those actions as well. To that end I recently purchased a Rideye front-facing camera designed for cycling and a rear-facing Fly 6 camera and tail light combo. Now I have still more stuff to keep charged, but I also have some powerful voodoo working for me. Actual reviews? Maybe next post. This is all about spending money.
My demo video is only 90 seconds or so, and even if you don't like the camera or the action, the music I added is pretty cool.
I also purchased this Team Sky kit through the Chinese web site AliExpress.com. It was shockingly inexpensive. I don't know this for a fact, but it seems highly unlikely they are really Rapha bib shorts, or that they pay Sky a license fee. It may be wrong to encourage this sort of thing, but I'm playing the injured guy card and asking forgiveness for my $40 potential ethical misstep. Surprisingly enough, the fabric quality seems high, and the pad in the bibs feels great. There are a couple of small missed details, but overall, not bad at at all. The sizing is defiantly Chinese. My medium is really tight, and I'm look better in it 10 pounds lighter. Still, what the heck. It's fun. Enough fun that I ordered another different pro kit, but in large this time. Photos when it arrives. Don't judge me.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Request a safety steps for cyclist and pedestrian along Delta de Anza trail.
NorCal Bikeforums.net in a "Slow Poke Ride" which was exactly what I needed. They were kind enough to ride even slower than slow so I could keep up. Thanks guys!
Saturday, August 15, 2015
pathlesspedaled.com would be the keynote speakers at the Lodi Bicycle Summit we knew we'd be going. We'd been reading their blog forever, and much like you think you know your favorite TV star, we felt like we knew them, even though they didn't know us.
But despite that, I hardly recognized them when I saw them because in every photo I've seen of them they're out doing bikeish things, and today they were all spiffed up. They clean up real nice, as grandma used to say.
The event was focused on cycling in Lodi, and even more about how cycling can help Lodi. Russ and Laura's presentation was about how much difference bicycle tourism can make for the economy of small towns. Their presentation was filled with interesting videos, clever explanatory animations and their own interesting stories. You can see some of their delightful work on their Bicycle Tourism 101 page. It's cool stuff even if you don't think you are interested. Trust me, check it out.
Tricia and I realized how much of what they were talking about was what getting businesses and communities to target people like us. We've vacationed in places specifically because of their bicycle friendliness, and as we did, left money behind for local businesses. Heck, almost every time we've been to Lodi was bicycle related, and we sure have purchased a lot of wine there. Even when we didn't ride there, we went because of something we discovered while biking. We've planned trips specifically so we could stay in places like the tiny town of Wallace Idaho and ride Trail of the Coeur d'Alene bike path and the Route of the Hiawaitha, places we'd never have gone if not for their cycling infrastructure. I hope more communities get this message and give me the opportunity to visit them and leave some money there.
I'm impressed Lodi has the vision to realize that bicycle infrastructure will be good not only for cyclists, but for local business and the community as a whole, and even for residents who never ride themselves.
Tricia took part in a short pre-conference ride that featured numerous interesting bikes and people. I saw different types of child carriers, dog carriers, fat bikes, kayak trailers, road bikes and on and on. I couldn't ride, so I chatted with Laura and Russ while they set up. It was hard not to kidnap and endlessly interrogate them about Bromptons, trailers, gearing, advocacy, touring gearing and all the zillions of other things they have experience with. I did manage to bother them enough to get some information that will help me in the future.
One of the many points they made is that cycling is mainstream and popular enough we see more and more cycling iconography used in media all around us. Surely enough, when we stopped at a winery on our way back there was a large cycle-oriented print for sale in an otherwise non-cycling environment.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Progress! My stitches were removed last night at Kaiser Hospital. And best of all, removed by a current Los Medanos College nursing student. I wish I could get her extra credit points. She did a wonderful job.
The front-line staff at Kaiser are wonderful, but dealing with their infrastructure when trying to get paperwork through their system is downright Kafkaesque. Left hand, meet right hand, you two are obviously strangers. Still, through the work of those front line people, it eventually all worked out. My papers are all in order.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Here's a surprise. I've been giving a lot of thought to cycling, and safety vs risk. In the past I've mostly worried about being run over, and it's still a concern. I'd also worried a tiny bit about dogs, but I'd never given thought to being attacked. But now that it's happened, I find something new for me to contemplate and deal with.
As usual, I have thoughts on both.
First the people-gone-wild side: If I ride the same trail twice a day for 10 years and get attacked once, what are the odds of that happening again? That depends on how much the situation has changed. Is it the same as it ever was, or is it more dangerous now? There's no way for me to know.
But I do know that not riding will make me gain weight, and be generally less healthy. There all endless studies about the physiological and physiological benefits of exercise. In the end, I'm not sure I'm willing to give up all that up. Of course, I haven't tried riding past my special spot on the trail yet.
My colleague and fellow cyclist Ken Alexander answered a comment on Facebook with what I thought was a pretty good reply:
I am naturally concerned, as Curtis' friend, colleague and fellow cyclist/commuter on that very pathway. Cycling is a choice that we and 1000s of others make every day. ARE we safer in cars? From random violence like this, probably yes. From accidents caused by stupid and aggressive drivers wrapped in air-conditioned, music-filled bubbles? Not so much.
As cyclist, we expose ourselves to these and even greater dangers, because in a confrontation with a car or truck, we lose. With dogs, we can sometimes outrun them. People? That's the wild card. Ironically, one morning after arriving at the College, I asked Curtis if he realized how vulnerable we were to some unhinged person on the trail, simply from a well-timed or spontaneous shove. I was not really thinking about being robbed, but clearly, that supplies a motivation for this method. He and I have talked about how to feel and what to do.
His injuries will heal... we've all left some flesh on the road, but we continue to ride, as I'm sure he will, probably sooner than his doctor advised. I feel the same regarding this "town" (Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley and Brentwood) but the practical matter of finding safety anywhere seems like a chimera to me. So, as we asked each other... do we continue to commute? Find another route? Always ride with a partner? Ride with greater caution (or paranoia) and turn around when we see anyone on the trail?
I have no answers for Curtis, but for me, the answer to the questions above is probably yes to most (riding with a partner is just too logistically difficult.) We have ridden that very trail, to and from the College, 4-5 times a week, in the day and night for 15 years. I'm no math whiz, I'm not particularly brave or foolhardy and not oblivious to my own sense of privilege and entitlement, but I'll probably cope, as I feel confident our friend will too.
— KenI recently read another piece about cycling that includes thoughts safety and cost that I like a lot. The author may be overstating his case just a little, but generally I think it's spot on.
In Bicycling: The safest form of transportation by Mr. Money Mustache he claims, and has statistics to back it up, that if you look at time spent on a bike vs. time spent in a car you are less likely to be killed on a bike. It's very interesting. He goes on to point out that if you factor in health, riding a bike is an amazing deal compared to driving an automobile. While it may be over the top, I love his sentence "It is not an exaggeration to say that a bicycle is a money-printing fountain of youth, probably the single most important and highest-yielding investment a human can possibly own."
It's an interesting read. Check it out.
In the end, after all the philosophizing and rationalizing, it sure looks like I'll be back in the saddle, both on the road and the trail, commuting, touring and riding just for fun, as soon as I possibly can. At least that's the plan today.
Saturday, August 08, 2015
|Pretend this is a tree or outer space. It's less gross that way.|
Friday, August 07, 2015
I've also had time to write letters and emails. I wrote one to the Antioch Police Department with some questions about my incident and crime in general. I'll include it at the end of this post. Much to my surprise I got a response in the form a phone call from a Police Department representative.
At least I have a book to read...
Dear Antioch Police Department
I was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint on Wednesday, July 29 as I bike commuted on the Delta De Anza Trail behind Turner School. The encounter left me injured and required a hospital visit. At this point I am still barely mobile. Antioch Police officer Amel Sahnic came to the scene and took the report, case number 15-7492 For the record, I suffered three fractured ribs, a large wound on my knee that required stitches, an odd shoe-sole cut on my head as well as other cuts and massive bruising. I hope to be able to return to teaching when the semester starts, but don’t know for sure.
As a “regular old citizen” of Antioch I have little understanding of police procedure or perspectives. I really don’t know how you approach your jobs, or even exactly what that job entails. I don’t have any complaints, but I have questions and I’m hoping you might have time to answer a few.
I’m not sure how to word this so it has the right tone, so please read this with an open mind.
How big of an event is this for the police and Antioch? I know it is for me, but have we reached a point where having a 61 year old college professor attacked, robbed at gunpoint and sent to the hospital is hardly news? That crimes like this are common enough that this one doesn’t even stand out? I have no expectations about what you should do, but would like to know if it’s now something unfortunate that happened in the past, or is this case a continuing concern.
I’d also like to know if I’m part of a trend. Have there been other robberies or attacks along the trail there? If there have been, does it appear to be the same people, or different perpetrators?
Has APD been able to make any efforts to increase safety along this trail? As a bike commuter, I hope to get back in the saddle as soon as I heal. The nearby roads aren’t bike friendly. I’m looking for information that will help me make decisions about my commute.
Does APD coordinate or share information about incidents like my attack with other agencies connected to the trail, like East Bay Regional Parks or Pittsburg PD?
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks in advance for any reply you’re able to make.
Just in case you’re interested in my details, reactions and comments, I blog on my Curtis in Bicycle Land blog
The story of my attack: http://tinyurl.com/onfftmh
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
In less interesting news, I visited Kaiser Hospital for follow a up on the injuries I suffered after being mugged on my bike commute. It turns out my cracked rib is actually three fractured ribs. Somehow having a larger number, and using the term "fracture" rather than "cracked" makes me feel better. It means that all this pain is real, and I'm not being a total wimp. It just sounds more serious. I recieved this information when I visited Kaiser's "Minor Injury Clinic." Minor Injury? Really? Why can't they call it the "OMG, That Must Really Hurt Clinic" or something a little more supportive. Think how cool that would look on their sign, or a business card.
I've been through enough that I deserve a treat, right? So, with my breakfast Peets coffee and New York Times I'm having a slice Jaime's peach pie. #breakfastofchampionsA photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Friday, July 31, 2015
How are you doing? You rode your bike away afterward, so not too bad, right?
I think shock must have helped me ride away. I sure couldn't come close to riding now. Standing up it a real challenge. Walking hurts.
I foolishly didn't take pain meds last night (I guess I want to be tough.) I couldn't get out of my chair. I am amazed how much I hurt. Here's a photo of my bloody knee (as link rather than embedded image so you can skip it.) My
We all know the definition of "minor injury" is an injury that happens to someone else. I'm sure legally I'm "minor." But it happened to me, so it sure doesn't feel minor. It's difficult to predict the future, but I'm worried about the start of the Los Medanos College semester in two weeks, and wondering how I'll negotiate all that entails.
How am I doing? I wouldn't call it "OK." But I could be a lot worse.
Why didn't you get a better description?
It was all so fast. I rode almost past the two people, seeing only their backs. I could feel, or see in my peripheral vision an explosive move toward me, then boom, I was on the ground, and hurting. All my memories from this point are disjointed and blurred, like an action sequence in a bad movie. I remember them yelling "Where's your wallet," waving a gun, and reaching into my jersey pocket to grab my phone. I have a flash of a shiny gun, and — this makes no sense — the other person holding, perhaps fumbling, with a hand full of bullets. The next thing I remember was them quickly moving away across the Turner School field, glancing over their shoulders.
I'm not military, nor do I have police training. My athletic-processor brain just isn't that quick (ask my tennis partners) and I wasn't expecting it. I just didn't see much, and I processed even less.
I did get a crime-stopper tip that I hope you'll never need: Note the shoes. People change shirts and jackets when running away, but not shoes. Alas, I remember no shoes.
Why didn't you track your phone?
I tried. As soon as I'd ridden to the hair salon where I called the police and Tricia, I used my laptop, their wi-fi and iCloud to "Find my iPhone." The bad guys had turned it off. It can't work with the phone off. I tried many times throughout the day, but never got a signal.
iCloud has a feature you can set that issues a command to wipe (delete all data) on the phone next time it connects to the internet, which pretty much means next time it's turned on. I used that feature. I also set it to display "Please return to Los Medanos College Police Services." In theory that's all it can do now. At around 1 A.M. I got an email informing me my phone was being erased. The date time on the message says 4:16. I'm not sure if that's PST or Eastern, or if it matters.
My phone also had a long password, so I'm reasonably sure my data isn't compromised.
Perhaps I should have used the "lost phone" feature that merely locks the phone and displays a message I could choose. It also would have reported the phone location to me. But I was still in a bit of shock, and was thinking it was more important I do what I could to not let any data fall into the wrong hands. And, really, are the police going to come screaming down upon some location I give them? I certainly wasn't going to go there and ask for my phone back.
My phone was insured, and a new one is on the way. I had a large deductible and need a new protective case, so I am out a bit of money.
I was surprised how smoothly dealing with Sprint, my cell carrier, was. The woman I spoke with was kind, sympathetic and made the process easy. The insurance part was a simple web page. Perhaps that's really all bad news in that so many phones are stolen they have the process down.
Are you going to keep riding your bike, and riding this trail?
I'm telling myself this isn't a good time to make decisions. Sure, I'll ride as soon as I can. How I'll commute, I just don't know. There really aren't any good alternate routes. And, ironically, in the last two weeks Los Medanos College installed a very nice paved connector between the trail and campus. I'd been advocating for his path for years. Can I really not use it? I don't know what I'll do. I'm postponing decision making.
Could you have prevented this? Can you be more safe?
I've asked myself this again and again. I don't know. Do I reverse course whenever I see two young men if I'm alone? Is that practical? How unsafe is this area? Am I riding through a truly dangerous area every day? I just do not know.
I know that if I'd had pepper spray, a baton or a Taser it wouldn't have helped. They'd likely have taken it away and used it on me. And heck, they had a gun. A GUN! That's option-limiting. I'm not a quick-draw artist. If I had a gun I'd have to ride with it in my hand to be ready. What could possibly go wrong? A gun just does not seem practical, or even a remotely good idea.
People have been so nice to me. And even though I'm a grumpy old guy, having my friends, relatives, and even people I don't know, reach out with a kind word, a short email, or a Facebook comment has made a me feel so much better. I really enjoyed the Editable Arrangement from Jaime and Ganesh. The fruit was good, and I used the helium to make my voice sound like a chipmunk. Tricia's taking good care of me, and even my kids Erin and Eddie came over to visit.
My questions about crime and life in general
Has Antioch come to the point where a 61 year old professor can be assaulted, injured, held up at gunpoint and it's just business as usual? I don't expect the PD to conduct a house to house search. Heck, I don't know what I'd like done. But the apparent fact that this is not a big deal at all makes me sad. That means it's not news. It's something that happens all the time. And that frightens me.
There's an old story that goes "How do you boil a frog?" The answer is that you start with cool water and then slowly turn up the heat. The frog doesn't notice until it's too late and can't get out. (Apparently this isn't really true, in reality the frogs just jump out.) But I'm wondering about Antioch and myself. I love my house, I love teaching at Los Medanos College. I love being able to ride my bike to work. But at what point is enough too much? When did some Jews realize things were going south in Germany and bail out? Is it silly to stay, or silly to plan to spend money I don't have to move to somewhere that's farther away from work and that would give me an unpleasant commute (in a car!)?
And what about my fellow man? Do I live in fear of young men? Of people with short hair? Of people about 5'6"? Of people with any of the surface attributes my attackers have? What's prudent? What's paranoid?
My good friend Trine is so positive about, well, everything. She points out that while Antioch has problems, there are also numerous kind and caring people here. I'm trying to channel her good attitude. But, I find myself asking not if there are good people here, but rather, have we've reached a critical mass of not-well-meaning people? What is the tipping point? Are we there or past it? As the Clash sang back in the 80s, should I stay or should I go?
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Anything that doesn't kill you can make a great story later department:
They took my iPhone 6 and demanded my wallet, which I was too befuddled to cough up. I'd fallen on my left side pannier, and it was perhaps hidden under my tennis bag, which was strapped to the top of the rack. They didn't take the pannier or my ratty tennis bag, and I still have the junk I was carrying in the pannier.
Oh. I left out the gun part. They had a gun. A GUN! I saw that alright, but it's amazing how little else I "saw." Just two slightly-built young men, maybe middle schoolers, short hair, and a shiny revolver. That's about it.
I climbed on my bike and rode to the place I get my hair cut to call the police and Tricia. She took me to Kaiser where I was treated (by a doctor who's a cyclist!) for a three fractured ribs and a knee that required stitches.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Not only did we see, and stop to nibble on, blackberries, we saw three river otters in Marsh Creek as well as another animal that we couldn't identify. Perhaps it was a beaver or a mink. And we finished our ride before the temperature hit the over 100 mark. Not bad!
Sunday, July 26, 2015
We started by riding 15 miles to BART. Tricia got more than a couple of comments on her cool Shelia Moon cycling dress (it even has pockets in the back!)
Tricia in her Sheila Moon cycling dress waiting for the impossibly slow BART elevator on our way to #pedalfestA photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
This guy not only carded me, he made me take my license out of its holder and carefully checked it. I feel 40 years younger #pedalfestA photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
We're getting this, but adding a mounted machine gun. Then we'll see if cars in Antioch can see us. #pedalfestA photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
I bought a Catlike Whisper helmet because my last helmet was getting old. OK, really I bought it because I am so cat like. Or because I miss eating Swiss cheese. Or because I wanted round sunburn spots instead of striped sunburn spots. Or maybe to hep me remember to set out water for the neighbor's cats. Or because I really like the mushroom head look. Or to compensate for not actually being fast I'm trying to look fast. #rationalization
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Tricia and I took our friend and relatively new cyclist Kellie out for a ride across the Benicia Martinez Bridge, the Carquinez Bridge and along the Martinez Scenic Drive Trail. She's stayed with us to watch the Saturday edition of le Tour and brought her bike with it's flat tires. She rides in Sacramento and had recently posted on social media about her many-flats day. I helped her with her flats and discovered lots of thorns hiding in her tires. I'm hoping she's learned to check them. I know I got a lot of practice patching tubes and digging our pointy objects.A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Our ride, though windy at the start, was pretty much perfect. Maybe it's the bridges, or the social pace, or the fact that we don't ride this loop a lot, but it feels longer than really is. Still, I highly recommend the Two Bridges loop. Great scenery, fun bridges. Go do it.
Kellie @kellie_elizabeth2004 and Tricia @4tcakes2 on the Martinez Marina pier at the end of the two-bridges tour.A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Monday, July 13, 2015
Tricia @4tcakes2 with Lance Oldstrong on her birthday ride. Ok, were a couple of days early, but still, happy birthday ride.A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
We kept it going on our Tahoe trip.
A photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Espresso and ice cream, lunch of fat cyclists world wide. But calories on vacation above 6000 feet elevation don't count anyway. #healthfoodA photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
When I ask regular citizens to make a photo of us they often miss, or put our heads exactly on the horizon with trees polking out. I do what I can to salvage an image, but sometimes it's impossible. No wonder selfie sticks are so popular. #laketahoe #birthdayride #randomstrangerphotographerA photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
The cobblestones on the #tourofantioch are merely pavers. But the glass and stickers or more deadly than anything on the #tdfA photo posted by curtis corlew (@cccorlew) on
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
My first effort, at Tricia's suggestion, was to make photograms of bike parts, much in the way Anna Atkins did with seaweed in the 1840s. I liked the results enough that I framed a set. I'm not sure how I'll move forward with this. It might be fun to try making them on fabric. Or maybe use nicer paper. But there will be more.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Tricia at the Sand Creek underpass in Brentwood. Someone painted it, and now it looks totally cool and is less scary and more cheerful.
If you haven't ridden the American River Bike Trail in Sacramento you're missing out. It isn't epic, but it is often very pretty.
I'm in a Facebook group about "Look at pictures of my bike leaning on stuff" so I leaned on this poster in Sacramento.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
We'd looked for perfectly matching ruby-shaded replacements, but I don't think they make them any more. Tricia, a woman with white bar tape and a white saddle, decided she'd give white shoes a chance. Sidi, of course. And they do indeed look marvelous.
It would be silly to get new shoes and not get new cleats, so she bought a pair of Shimano SPD-SL road cleats as well. I installed them to match the placement of her old cleats and figured we were good to go.
They wouldn't clip in to her Ultegra pedals. I thought at first maybe they were new and just stiff, so I tried it. No deal. After much frustration, fussing about and looking hard it turned out the problem was the interface between the shoe and cleat. The bottoms of these shoes are more curved than her old shoes. Enough that the cleat bent when I tightened it down, making it impossible to click in.
As far as I know there isn't a custom titanium shim for $189.00 to solve this, so I used a couple of old zinc washers I had, installing them under the front bolt. It took two for each shoe. But it worked well enough that Tricia was able to wear her new shiny white shoes today.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
I think I've hit almost every Tour of California. This year Tricia and I went to the opening day in Sacramento. It was a tough call; whether to try and catch the peloton crossing the Rio Vista bridge and hope for a great photo op, or go to the festivities in Sacramento and see the women's race too. Sacramento won.