Archive for November, 2006

For future reference

The switch from a 110mm stem to a 90mm stem has had no noticeable effect on my steering. But that may just be because the steering with the rack had become so insensitive that the effect the stem length has is negligible in comparison.

Also, to my utter embarrassment, it was only today that I discovered that the reason I had so much trouble centering my brake was because my wheel was not centered. It’s slightly off to the left. Looking at the spacers on either side of it it’s not obvious why it should be so, but I’ll flip it before the next ride to see if it’s better. And then I’ll have to recenter the bloody brake again.


November 2006 Critical Mass

Tonight’s Critical Mass coincided with the mayor’s lighting of the giant Christmas tree at Daley Plaza. While the initial plan was still to meet at Daley Plaza, bumbling tourists and all, that proved impossible due to nearly every inch of the plaza being occupied by a portion of bumbling tourist. After walking my bike one round around the periphery of the plaza I spotted some cyclists on the southwest corner of the plaza. One of them came up to me and said they were gathering at Federal Plaza instead. And indeed they were.

Very strange route this time round. The whole intent seemed to be to loop back to where we started. Headed north along State St, but not too long later and after zigzagging through various streets in the general vicinity of Michigan Ave, we were heading south down State St. Then followed an excursion through the South Loop and the general vicinity of Pilsen. Then we looped back again. I assumed we were supposed to head back to the starting point, i.e. either Daley Plaza or Federal Plaza, but the mass drastically decreased in size as we were heading north on a long stretch of straight road, and when we hit the intersection with Division it became clear that no one who was left in the Mass knew what the planned route was. I didn’t want to go any further north anyway so I peeled away, and 25 tiring minutes of hurtling through the Loop later, I was on the lakefront path arguing with myself over whether to exert myself now so I could get home faster and save my shoulders some pain, or whether a few minutes more pain was really nothing considering I’d already had a few hours of it.

I forgot to bring my camera this time but my nighttime photos are awful anyway.

Someone recognised my IRO and asked if it was a Mark V or Angus. I thought I’d defaced it enough with tube protectors and reflective tape and whatnot that it no longer exuded the clean elegant frame geometry it did right out of the box, but he claimed to like it anyway.

Smearing our country’s image

This story of a foreign female cyclist standing up to a driver in Beijing who was driving in a bike lane has made the rounds of the bike forums and mailing lists. I was, however, more disgusted than cheered by the story. The woman’s actions are, of course, laudable. But I find it abhorrent that the driver had his identity hounded down by angry “netizens”, and that their rationale for hounding him down was “we must get him to realize that his behaviour is smearing the country’s image and the face of Beijing”. Unsurprisingly, given this completely “pragmatic” attitude towards what clearly was a moral slight on the part of the driver, the driver himself was sorry because “the incident had hurt him and his family greatly”. As for this:

“The incident shows two things,” says one of the blog articles. “It shows the Chinese are self-reflecting people and readily accept positive criticism. It also shows the terrifying power of the Internet, its power to mobilize people and bare secrets.”

Am I just reading too much into it, or does that sound like nationalistic feel-good propaganda, reminiscent of those red slogans one sees painted on village walls? You probably have not accepted positive criticism if the only reason you react to it is because you want to preserve your country’s public image.