Welcome to the City Bikes clearance bin for all the overstock thoughts, rants, news items, and other idea fragments that we need to turn over. Check back often, as stock is refreshed frequently

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why Bike to Work #2 -- Cheap and Easy Parking

Gah, they're here.Peak season. And if you had the damn-fool notion to drive to the tidal basin, parking is tougher than ever. Ditto at the new ballpark. And Metro? Say hello to the Nats fans for me. Might there be a third option for getting around the city?
And parking? Years ago, I dropped $55 on this gadget that lets me park my Moots hassle-free, cost-free, for years to come. Or, how about this, let WABA mind your bike.

But for all our sakes, let's all pinky-swear to cede the sidewalks to the blossom zombies. Some knucklehead will still go sprinting through the walking traffic, screaming "I'm a local!!" and waving his/her dog-eared copy of Title 18 Chap 12 Prov 1201.9 of the DC Code of Municipal Regulations (safely ridden right-of-way yielding bikes are allowed on sidewalks). But discretion (and common sense) is the better part of valor, let the tourists meander freely.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sinister Signs of Spring

Cherry blossoms are on the way (peak week starts today). Tourists, and their attendant tour buses and spot-seeking cars, are so numerous this time of year that I skip my normal 14th St Bridge crossing for a couple of weeks, and divert up to the Memorial Bridge.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Coach Tip #1: Goal Setting as an Effective Training Tool

Spring – the beginning of a new cycling season. If you haven’t done it already, it’s time to start thinking about getting back on your bike! But before you do, have you thought about what you would like to achieve this year? Whether you be a recreational rider or a racer (or something in-between), effectively setting goals for this year’s cycling season can not only inspire motivation, but it can also increase personal satisfaction and confidence.

 To define a primary goal for this year, think about what you would like to achieve – something that stretches you but still realistic and within reach. Examples of goals may be any of the following: ride a half-century (50 miles) without injury, lose 10 pounds, upgrade to the next racing category, or increase 2 minute sprint power 15%. Whatever you choose, remember to set clear goals that are measurable, under your control, and positive.

 After identifying your primary goal, break it down in simpler steps and develop a training plan. For example, riding a half-century must first start with becoming comfortable with a 20 mile ride. Write these steps down! Not only will these manageable goals give you a clear path to the final outcome, but they will also allow you to evaluate your progress periodically throughout the season. Whatever you set as your 2008 goal(s), remember cycling should be fun! That’s why you bought your bike, right?

 Daniel is a sales associate at the Chevy Chase store, licensed USA Cycling coach, and member of the Artemis Racing team (sponsored by City Bikes). Questions or comments may be directed to dan@citybikes.com.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Why Bike to Work #1 -- Side Trips

Time to kick off a recurring feature, in the run-up to Bike to Work Day (registration is open, BTW). We're going to reel off some reasons to bike to work. And we'll try to keep the self-righteousness ("you're loving the earth!") and obviousness ("it's better exercise!") to a minimum.

Anyway, while serving my five year sentence on the Red Line, I very rarely deviated from my well-worn route to stop by the Tidal Basin or Asylum or wherever. But on a bike, it's so easy to find great reasons to wander, and so easy to act.

For convenient example, I was on my way in today, and decided to head east on the E St. bikelane in search of a cup of coffee. I got to 6th St. NW, and the intersection was blocked off by police.

Normally, this is either just a motorcade or a suspicious package, but today, a crowd was gathered around (crowds are normally disinterested in motorcades, and not encouraged to hang around Homeland Security gigs). I asked a nearby kid, who looked up from his hot dog, and barely containing his contempt for my ignorance, scoffed, "The circus elephants, duh." Duh indeed. What?Yeah, apparently Ringling Bros Blah & Blah Blah Circus is at the Verizon Provides My Home Internet That Still Doesn't Work But Continues to Bill Me Center this weekend. And they block off the roads to parade the elephants into the arena. You know what? Forget the bike thing. Imagine the streets flowing with the clean locomotion of elephant transport. Oh wait....... forget the 'clean' bit. They had a street sweeper (fossil fuel powered) following the elephants. Us bike clowns had the right idea all along. Patches needs a helmet, though.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

You... A Coach?

It's a rare moment indeed, but I've been thinking...coherently. What if I took all of my cycling and physiology know-how and put it to good use? After months and months of procrastination, I finally sat down to take the USA Cycling certification exam and become a coach. 'Lo and behold, I passed! And I received a nifty license, too.

All of my friends are now asking me, "So what are you going to do with it?" Hmmmm. Good question. For starters, I'll be writing a monthly column in the City Bikes newsletter. Look for it! And of course, if you have a specific question about cycling or exercise physiology, feel free to drop by the Chevy Chase store or send an email (dan@citybikes.com). Most importantly, get out and ride!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The City Bikes Canyonero

In response to my post from a coupla days back, Joe was kind enough to Photoshop the low hanging fruit.Thanks to the City Paper and Joe for giving and stretching (respectively) this lame-o topic.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Diesel is $4.20 a gallon in DC

Why? This guy, in part. According to the City Paper story, it belongs to the campaign manager for Ward 7 councilwoman Yvette Alexander. Anyway, I loved the blurb for this particular 'pickup'.
The International® CXT™
It doesn't just command attention; it demands it.

Crowds gather and camera's flash. Children look up in awe at the 9-foot high cab. With your logo plastered across the cab, the International® CXT™ becomes a self-promoting billboard everywhere you park it. Using vehicles to advertise your brand is nothing new, but towering over everything else on the street is. When your message demands to be shouted, it needs to be on a CXT™.

Well, I suppose Councilwoman Alexander's message (squint hard at the magnetic placemat -- "Yvette Alexander -- Making Ward 7 One") needed to be shouted. Last year, her message was that we need better security at gas stations. When your 'self-promoting billboard' weighs 14,500 lbs., that's a primary concern.

So anyway, we are in the process of decommissioning our beastly 1979 Chevy panel van...
...in part because of fuel prices, but mostly because it's an unreliable wreck. We'll be moving most stuff between stores in a used Nissan Quest minivan. I suppose if we had $120K+ to spend on a truck, like a local political advisor, we might be tempted to splurge on such a shouting towering attention-demanding billboard to advertise our brand. Or not.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Did you know that Pope Benedict XVI was coming to town Thursday, April 17th? Me neither.

Did you immediately conclude that the visit is going to snarl traffic around the new Nationals stadium? Me too. The Washington Post, in it's blog devoted to the visit, agrees.

If you were clutching one of the golden tickets, could you ride your bike to the stadium, and safely lock it up? Maybe.

If you could find a bike rack, and you had $250,000US (plus shipping!), could you ride a replica of the gold-plated Colnago given to Pope John Paul II in 1979 to the stadium? Yes, you could.

Darren's Moots

Last seen under my offseason arse in gwadzilla's place, here's my Moots.It's the Psychlo-X with S&S couplers and braze-ons for fenders and racks, and I sold my Volkswagen to pay for it. I wanted a decent bike for cross racing, but without a car, getting to cross races was pretty tough. So I have never raced this bike. Plus, look back at that gwadzilla pic, I'm no Michael Rasmussen. So, this bike spends most of it's time saddled with the equipment and grime of commuting. A few people have expressed surprise that I commute on an expensive titanium bike. It's a bike, and a stout one at that, not a Faberge egg. Why commute on a beater and allow this bike to just sit and look pretty? Here's the SRAM crank...

...and you can see the downtube coupler in the shot. I wanted the couplers for my then-frequent trips to Nova Scotia, where my parents lived until several weeks after I purchased this bike. Anyway, the SRAM crank plays nicely with Campy mongrel Centaur/Record shifters........and the Shimano 9-speed drivetrain. Here's a pic of how to route the derailleur cable to make the combo work, and the link to where I learned this.
Here's the very busy steerer tube. That black collar thing is the Easton bear-trap headset tension doohickey, intended to replace the star-nut and topcap assembly. Does it work? No.The obligatory Moots money-shot of the welds.More evidence that I (glass half full) ride this bike hard, or (glass half empty) abuse this bike with my unclean ways.
Due to JetBlue's butcher job on my wheels, I'm bouncing around DC with a Campy track wheel on the front. Very pretty. But it desperately needs a rebuild, which Paul the mechanic nags me about every time I see him. And I'm terrified that this will happen on 18th St.But I'm a daredevil. Elliott Spitzer calls me reckless. Mike Tyson won't make eye contact with me. Need proof?I rode for 15 years on saddles without a "no slip system." I slipped. Oh yeah, I slipped. But I'm getting older now, so it's time for "no slip." But that slipping kid inside me will never die.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

i have a valid excuse for this outfit

i finally blundered into gwadzilla's viewfinder.

Check it out!


Hidden treasure -- revealed!

Remember "The Swan," that agonizing reality show where plain-looking ladies with horrible self esteem underwent multiple invasive cosmetic procedures, and some "counseling" too? This is kind of like that, only in reverse.

The other day, I fawned over the beautiful polished Alfine internal gear hub like it was a guest on the "Chris Farley Show." And now, the dramatic reveal of the bicycle it resides on:
Huh. This is the Jamis Commuter 4, and it's, um.... got a great personality? When I first saw a pic, i thought it looked a bit like a llama [am I allowed to say that about stuff we sell?]But let's look past this swan's feathers. For under $900, it's got the Alfine hub (in the very pretty polished silver, not the me-too black), disc brakes, aluminum frame and steel fork, and fenders. It's also got an adjustable quill stem, which is odd, but allows for a lot of adjustability. That big poofy saddle, perched on a suspension seatpost, it's a great deal more comfortable than the tractor seat it closely resembles. And a step-through (what used to be dubbed "women's") frame version is also available:You may note the presence of vertical dropouts, a chain tensioner, and double front chainrings. Unusual, for sure, but the vertical dropouts will certainly ease tire changes, and the double chainrings (48/34 i think) gives you a huge gear range to play with.

Everybody is all hot for this first wave of Alfine bikes. But this particular one just isn't getting any buzz. It's a shame, because it's a great value, and a fundamentally good and useful bike. We have a size run in stock at our Chevy Chase store, pop on by and have a look.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

hypnotic BMX

I stumbled on this at the Old Spokes Home blog, all credit to them, i must drop in if i'm ever in Vermont again.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hidden treasure

Nice looking hub, eh? If you disagree, the rest of this post may be even more unbearable than usual. But most of us in the shop (and the late Sheldon Brown) think this hub is the bee's knees. It's the Shimano Alfine (Shimano says it's all fine if you pronounce it all-FEE-nay), and it shares innards with the Nexus 8 internal hub, but adds the disc brake and that hot polished finish.

Shimano got the buzz machine bump-started on this in 2006, when they got a bunch of small framebuilders to make show specials built around the all-FEE-nay, and showed them at industry fashion week Interbike, see a few samples below.This one is from ANT in Massachusetts.
Here's a pic of the show winner from Old Man Mountain (pinched from the Bicycledesign blog).And my personal favorite, from Rock Lobster. Cool bikes, all of them.

Anyway, Shimano then ran the buzz-machine across a jersey wall and into a brick wall by announcing that so sorry, Alfine would be for Europe only. Oh. But swayed by who-knows-what, they relented, and this year saw the first offerings of bikes specced with Alfine. Like the $2K Civia Hyland I mentioned from Frostbike; and the nice-looking, upcoming Breezer Finesse, pic below, price not much less.So what's the point of all this? A $2K bike looks nice? Post more pics of those hot-looking store signs!

The point is that we are stocking a bike that is flying entirely under the radar. Unknown, unheralded, unblogged. Googling didn't even pop this bike up on the manufacturer's site. But it is for real -- one of our vendors managed to spec a practical, useful, and wonderfully offbeat bike, with the Alfine hub, for under $900. Yes, $900 in US dollars. Tomorrow, I'll uncover this mystery machine.

How's that for buzz?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Slow news day, we're talking signage.

Long planned and long delayed, we finally got in some new in-store signs. And I might the only one who likes them. Squint at that nice S-works Tricross frame 'module' in the background if you're really bored.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Two DC bike blogs I like

I'm supposed to be working right now, but I just stumbled on two blogs I enjoyed:

MyBikeLane DC -- A forum to post pics of folks who park in the bike line. This hasn't really latched on, but maybe if we can mobilize the formidable City Bikes marketing machine, we can get the network effects working against the doubleparkers.

Bikes for the Rest of Us -- No frills, he just posts up sensible bikes mostly in the sub-$1K range, and solicits feedback. We're geeks, but this qualifies as bike porn at City Bikes.

Back to the exciting task of processing payroll.

[Edit -- i misspelled "BikeLane" in the original post. I should be fired.]

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cannondale makes bikes, too

Cannondale has been thrashing around like an agitated Jack Russell lately, having only recently been pulled from private-equity purgatory by Canadian bikeglomerate Dorel Industries (same folks who snatched up GT and Schwinn, remember them?). They're now fighting off pervasive rumors of a Performance (yes, that Performance) linkup. Maybe I'll post some thoughts on that corporate intrigue later, but for now, why not toss them a bone and mention this bike?
A while back, I mentioned this bike, but now comes news that, "Cannondale has committed to bringing the ON concept bike into production in the near future." The closing advice to, "Start saving!" is a bit troubling, though. We've done a good business with the Bad Boy over the years, and this bike is a logical progression of the line. The one-sided fork and stays are really aesthetically pleasing, while the folding frame, internal hub, and hidden drivetrain make it a very practical bike for the city dweller. The eternal question remains.... How much?

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Bike Summit Visitor's Ride Guide

Apologies to District folks, I promised a couple of people who are in town for the Bike Summit that I would post up some items of interest for them to check out while in town, beyond the usual Mall-museum-meeting-meal-motel circuit one does at a DC conference. Chime in with other suggestions:

Sampling DC Bike Infrastructure -- For the big guns of advocacy who are in town, perhaps you'd like to see how our nation's capital stacks up. From the conference venue, head north on 15th St, hang a left on Pennsylvania Ave, and enjoy the best two blocks of no-car roadway in the country. Watch out for distracted administration officials, war protesters, Segway renters, and tourists squinting into viewfinders. Then, head north (right) on 17th St., through the chaos of the K St. intersection, brave Connecticut Ave (watch out for i-podded jaywalkers, u-turning cabbies, and driver-side doors), and bear right on 18th St.

Channel your inner Belgian on the horrible pavement on 18th, up the steep hill at Florida Ave., past all the restaurants and bars, and hang a right on Columbia Ave. Go 1 block, and you'll see a pretty cool bike shop. Please stop in and say hello. Keep on truckin down Columbia, straight over 16th St., where it turns into Harvard St., until you get to 14th St. Hang a right, and head down 14th. If you're pinched for time, or reluctant to venture into a slightly sketchy patch of town, just bomb straight down the intermittent bike lane on 14th, careful to take the right spoke at Thomas Circle, and you'll end up right near the conference venue.

Otherwise, go down to Q St. There's another shop at the intersection of 14th and Q, I won't invite you to visit on their behalf, but I'm sure they would love to say hello. Head left on Q St., avoid doors and double-parked construction vans on Q, and then zigzag your way over to 9th St, hang a right. Head down 9th, past our gleaming NOS condition Convention Center. Behold the bizarre 9th St combo bus/bike lane, and dodge all the cars that ignore that bus/bike restriction. Venture over to 7th St (to the left) if you want to ride it's similarly well-intentioned but largely useless northbound twin. Gawk and scoff like a jaded local at all the tourists, this is where they gather to eat. Otherwise, hang a right onto E St., and ride a nice traditional bike lane on back to your home base. Google says 6 miles in all, here's a map:

View Larger Map

This route basically gives you a good cross-section of what we've got inside the city. Some OK bike lanes, some bike lanes that just randomly start/stop, some odd good-intentions, and some major routes with no provision for bikes.

Training, Tidal Basin, and Monuments -- Maybe you'd like some exercise. Head south, to DC's closest thing to a velodrome, Haines Point. Head down 15th St, being especially careful of drivers itching to get onto the highway once you get onto Maine Ave. While trying not to hold up traffic, glance to your right, see the Tidal Basin, imagine it teeming with cherry blossom blooms and tourists. Try to negotiate a left onto Ohio Ave., which is long, flat, and hopefully your biggest danger here will be the triathletes learning to use their aerobars and ironically yelling at you to hold your line. At the turnaround, we used to have a cool statue called the Awakening, that most of us never really appreciated until it was bought, extricated, and reinstalled in a suburban fauxborfront retail complex. If being outdoors on a bicycle has you missing your rollers/trainer, use Buckeye Dr. to loop back around, and just keep doing laps of Haines Point. Similar experience.

Anyway, keep going under the 14th St. Bridge, and you'll end up on the other side of the Tidal Basin. Work your way around the Tidal Basin, and you are right in the midst of all the big National Mall attractions -- WWII memorial, Reflecting Pool, Lincoln Memorial, etc. I've plotted a route back to the Reagan building that includes Constitution Ave, which is a bit of a dragstrip. Plot an alternate route, or take to the wide sidewalks, if you're a bit leery of mixing it up with fast traffic. Again, consult the map.

Mixed-use Trails -- Finally, we've got a decent enough set of mixed use trails. I won't try to describe all of them, bikewashington.org does a much better job at that. Your best entrance onto the biggest trails is to follow the same route as described above, but don't turn onto Ohio Dr. Keep going straight, and then bear right onto Basin Dr. DON'T follow all the cars onto the bridge -- the sidewalk across the bridge is fenced off, and can't be accessed from the road. Zoom in on the map, i've tried to sketch out the proper way to go. And don't take 14th St. down to the bridge -- while it is called the 14th St Bridge, a bike can't access the bridge from 14th St. Crazy.

Anyway, once you cross the bridge, you'll loop around, and find yourself facing back toward the city (beautiful view, BTW). Go right, and you can take the Mt. Vernon Trail about 15 miles down to Mt. Vernon, going through Old Town Alexandria. Go left, proceed a few miles to the Key Bridge, cross back over into DC, and you're in Georgetown. Get a cup of coffee, gawk at how many people fearlessly pilot $80K cars in city traffic, pop into two other bike shops on M St., or head down to Water/K St., and you're at the head of the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) and the C&O Canal towpath. To get to Water St from the Key Bridge, hang a right immediately after the bridge into a little park, go down and across the C&O canal, and then either go down a nearby staircase to Water St (then hang a right), or just go right on the gravel towpath, with intersects with the CCT after a mile or so.

The CCT 7 miles of wonderful, slightly uphill trail all the way to downtown Bethesda. It gets really crowded on nice days with joggers and baby strollers on nice days, though, so bring a bell and leave your need for speed back on Haines Point. Keep going through Bethesda, onto the Georgetown Branch Trail, where the surface becomes gravel, proceed another 1.5 miles across Connecticut Ave., and you'll arrive at our Chevy Chase location. Please stop in and say hello.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Aden-Francis forwarded me this petition to get Google to add a bike route function to their mapping tool. I just went in to Google maps to plot out a couple of riding routes for folks visiting for the League of American Bicyclists' Bike Summit next week, and, well, i'm convinced. Please join me in signing the petition.

In the meantime, here's a link to DDOT's bike map.

Jim Sebastian at DDOT, who oversees bicycle programs, wrote that the Union Station Bikestation project is back underway, after funding was secured to cover the higher-than-anticipated bid prices. Look how cool this place will look when completed...

And the SmartBike DC bike sharing program is now targeted to start in April.