Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Biking through Disaster

Bowers Beach - DE - Source  Latimes.com
Every time we experience disaster or at least during the last 200 years, there is a constant that keeps showing up as a prevailing survivor, and perhaps more as a survivor's companion. A tool to emerge from debris and despair.  It's our two wheel hero, the bicycle.
As you can see in our  May 17, Biking the Way out of Disaster post, the bicycle is the one companion that prevails, that is not dependent on electricity, not restricted by satellite connectivity. The bicycle is blackout proof. Not constrained by fuel shortages and for that matter not affected by any of the other casualties and consequences of a disaster. 
In the aftermath of the Japan Earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown, all the shortages that followed could not stop this metal steed because the bicycle only requires you and your willingness to survive either by escaping or by staying to recover and rebound.

East River, NY - Hurricane Irene
Yet after you have used it and abused it and taken yourself to safety, you can leave your bike outside in the rain, in the wind, in the snow and whenever you decide to come back to it, it sure will be in the same place waiting for you.  What an unconditional friend. Only a dog would do that for you. The problem though is that your dog might need to be rescued also.  It's only fair. The bike however, is made for one thing and that is to take you places without requiring much from you.

Bay Shore NY  - Source -  NY Times

We have seen time and again during Hurricane Katrina, Irene, Sandy, Pedro, Maria, etc.  The one element that survives with the survivors along the damage is the bike. I have selected a few pictures that exemplify precisely that.   Having said that, I will also say that not always is a good idea to face nature with simply a bike.  Hurricane Sandy and most tropical storms will bring torrencial rains with high velocity winds.  Remember that a bicycle, as heroic as I might make it seem, only has the lineal support of two wheels.  As opossed to a car, which stands on a four-point support plus it has an iron cabin. Of course cars seem to be the first victims  of hurricanes.  If all else fails... RUUUUUNNNN!!!

Crawford, NJ - Source - Sternassociates.com
   Thanks to: The New York Times
                 Keith Bedford - Reuters
                 Karl Merton
                 The dailybeast.com

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cycling While Pregnant

Since my wife is now pregnant I have stated to wonder if she could still bike with and what would be the potential risks, so here are the results of my modest research.

Bike riding can help maintain your well-being during pregnancy. Is it safe to ride a bike with a baby in your belly? Cycling education guru and mother Nicola Dunnicliff-Wells investigates. It's widely accepted that regular physical activity is highly beneficial for mums-to-be.
According to Active & pregnant, a guide produced by VICFIT and the Royal Women's Hospital, a sensible pattern of exercise can help maintain wellbeing during the pregnancy, help prepare the body for labour and help in recovery from the birth. Glenys Janssen, midwife at the Royal Women's Hospital Childbirth Education and Training Department, encourages exercise, citing multiple benefits. "It also helps you feel good about yourself, and it might help control weight." The rate of diabetes in pregnancy is increasing dramatically, she says, largely because more women are overweight."You're much less likely to get diabetes, and you're more able to control it if you're exercising regularly."
Glenys says that while some people worry that exercise could cause a miscarriage or damage to the baby, no studies have shown any negative effects of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in a normal, healthy pregnancy.
"If you have complications, such as a multiple birth, or high blood pressure, you wouldn't do exercise," she says. "Or you would only to do it in consultation with a doctor and physiotherapist."
For women with normal pregnancies, moderate-intensity is key. Fiona Cooper, health educator and former midwife recommends cycling to help women build up their endurance for labour, but cautions against riding too strenuously. Staying cool and maintaining the body's water balance is important. "It's the same as the SunSmart message - take a water bottle and ride at times where you're not out in the heat," Fiona says.
Glenys Janssen says that nausea can be quite debilitating. "If you're feeling tired or you don't feel like exercising on a particular day, give it a rest. It's very physically demanding being pregnant."

The Active & pregnant guide stresses that every pregnancy is different: "The pattern of exercise which works well for someone you know may not be the right one for you. Choose exercise to suit your own level of fitness [and] your lifestyle. If you decide not to exercise, this is a perfectly reasonable decision. Give yourself permission to slow down or not to exercise at any time."
Photo: Simplybikeblog.com

Precautions during pregnancy
  • Avoid getting too hot 
  • Drink more water than usual 
  • Don't push yourself (pulse shouldn't exceed 140 bpm) 
  • Don't get fatigued 
  • Avoid falls 
  • Don't exercise if you feel ill 
  • Stop if you get dizzy, pain, headaches or short of breath. 
After the birth of her son Lucas, Kathy Brunning decided she wanted to be fitter. "I wasn't particularly fit the first time around, and I wanted to get myself really fit for baby number two." When Lucas was two, she took on the challenge of riding Around the Bay in a Day.  Some time afterwards, she became pregnant with Callum. This time, she says, she felt much fitter and kept riding until the last few weeks of the pregnancy. Riding felt good, and helped to relieve the queasiness in her tummy and, later in the pregnancy, helped her aching legs.  Kathy Brunning also believes her recovery was much quicker because she was fitter. "I was also smaller [the second time] because I didn't put on excess weight."

Deb Chambers rode competitively before she became pregnant, typically riding 400km a week. During pregnancy she eased back on the intensity. "I used a heart rate monitor to make sure I didn't go above 140 beats per minute. "I stopped going up hills, or I just took it slowly."  At six months, Deb rode shorter distances, and raised the handlebars to ride in a more upright position. "At the end it was easier to ride than walk, because the bike supports your weight," she says. "But the best thing was I think it really helped my labour and recovery."
Not everyone has such an easy time. Megan McDonald, who was very active before pregnancy, had bad nausea. "I rode to work for the first few weeks, but when the nausea started, I'd be doubled over dry retching in the sink when I arrived. I don't know if riding actually made it worse, but it was one more thing to worry about, so I stopped." Megan believes it's important not to have big expectations. "You might plan to keep riding right through pregnancy," she says, "but things don't always go to plan. You have to listen to your body and do what's right for you."

Bike the way out of disaster

I thought about writing my views about the novelty of the bicycle. Once I heard or read that the bicycle was noblest invention and even though I knew that it was quite an understatement, I had not stopped to think of the reasons for it. I suppose you can come up with them the more you use a bike and study the subject. This next post and the pictures that you will see will show you what I am talking about.
The novelty of the bicycle comes from: 
  • The inexpensive way in which it can take you places
  • being the most personal vehicle
  • the fact that, like a book, only takes you as far as you want to go
  • its environmental impact or respect for it
  • its efficiency - energy per mile yield
  • last but not least: it is one of the only vehicles that when it cannot longer carry you, will  allow you to return the favor.
  • it will always wait for you
  • its comparative extremely low need for maintenance
  • the fact that you are its fuel
All these images of the Tsunami in Japan are clear examples of what I just described.   When all else fails, a bicycle will deliver. It will deliver you and your cargo, but if it takes you to a place where its access is denied, then you can carry it  across and keep going. 
Very few times has it been said that the success of a bicycle lays on the the fact that its only fabricated with the most minimum  components needed to take you from point A to point B. No windows, no motor, no extras. Only you and a few tubes and cables. That's all it takes for a bike to carry a person.
No matter how many bicycles you ride or if the entire population of this planet decides to ride a bike each. You will not be able to count a single CO2 molecule in the air from its emissions.

 Of course, it can be argued that to produce all those bikes it will take electricity and gas and coal and whatever else you use to power the machines that weld and shape the bike. I say though that it does not matter. With that minimal energy used you are producing a vehicle that does not suffer the cultural effects of age.
A bike is always a bike. You could have given Michael J Fox a bike to go back to the future and he would have had less problems for the bike would have fit right in. That gives you an idea of the agelessness (if that's a word) of the bicycle.  An instrument unaffected by radiation, immune to gas shortages, and invisible to ambiguity. No other country better than Japan can attest to the disaster and radiation combined effort to bring a country to a halt. Yet after every one of Japan's disaster aftermaths such as the atomic bomb and the Fukushima tragedies, the bicycle remains to provide unconditional support.

Photo by Reuters

Photo by Associated Press

Photo by Associated Pres
Photo by Reuters
Photo by AFP
Photo by Christian Science Monitor
Thanks to: Associated Press - Japan, The Chicago Tribune, AFP, Corbis, Reuters, The Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Folding Bike :)

And if bikes could talk, the number of stories they would tell us.
My bike , for example would tell of all the people that stop by to look at its internal gears, all the people that stop by to drop off other people, how little I use it, etc.  What I like the most about this short film is the simplicity of its cast, including the bike.  A simple old folding white bike :0        GENIOUS!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Izhar cardboard bike project from Giora Kariv on Vimeo.

You all probably saw it on Yahoo and other content agregators. The big news for us entusiasts of the bicycle is that there is someone out there working on a light and  inexpensive bicycle that breaks all the parameters.
Lets see if it goes into mass production one of these days.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why do Women Ride a Bike?

Why do women ride a bike is a question along the lines of our first question: How to get more people to walk/bike?

This short video gives us some answers from a group of young girls in Britain. I decided to share it with you. Enjoy :)