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Bike Blogger of the week: Dan Pugatch-Boston

Here is my bike blogger profile of the week.

Today we go to Boston, which will be hosting the North American Cycle Courier Championships also known as the NACCC.

Dan Pugatch is not your typical bike messenger in Beantown. Find out why in this Q and A.

dan1

Name, Age, where you live?

Dan Pugatch, 28 and I reside in Scummerville Massachusetts which is one city over from Cambridge (although MapQuest misspells it as Somerville). For you New Yorkers out there think of it like a Borough of Boston, not part of the city Proper, but we still get subway and bus service and I can be downtown in ten minutes on two wheels.

What bikes do you own?

My race bike is a 1988 Paramount custom built b Waterford Precision cycles in Wisconsin (back then they only had two frame builders and both were ladies.) The original owner had it built as a triathlon bike, it’s obnoxious, 58cm frame with 650c wheels in the front and rear. All Ultegra components except DuraAce brake levers and headset. I paid $400 after shipping for it on eBay from Bob’s Kayak shop in Ohio and made off like a bandit (it’s worth over $1000 in its used state) did I mention it’s paint job? Highlighter yellow, oh I so love the 80s!

My commuter bike is a 3 Speed Conversion, I got my hands on a 1985 Bridgestone R450 frame in like new condition glitter blue paint job and built it up to be an urban warrior. I laced a 3 Speed Sturmey Archer hub to an Open Pro Rim, a Shimano Generator Dynmo Hub to an Open Pro rim, so I’ll never need batteries again for my lights. Rocking the mustache handlebars which are home to my Cetma front frack, Bee Brand bell which sounds like an old phone ringing, and Brass Moby Dick “hood ornament” a coworker made for me last Christmas that I put on the stem. I mixed my past of urban fixed gear culture with this build and have a Nitto Stem, All City Track Crankset, and MKS track pedals and toe clips. The rear of the bike has a Jannd Expedition rack which turns this beast into the Cadillac of bicycles and my Ortilieb panniers gets me home from the grocery store, to work, out into the suburbs to visit family, and around town.

Until this winter I was riding only my track bike, but an accident in October followed by a winter of physical therapy 3x a week after an 6-8 hour day of working as a bike messenger, my knee is better but it hurts too much to ride fixed so I sold off all the parts and frame cheap to my fellow riders in Boston. Sometimes I miss that bike, but I love riding my 3 Speed and can’t imagine riding anything else.

Whats the biking scene like in Boston? Alleycats? Events? Critical Mass?

The biking scene in Boston is interesting, it seems to come and go, it always peaks in the summer when people want to go out and ride every night. There’s the Boston Fixed Forum which is how I got into our scene after moving up here. I remember back in the summer of 2006 I was looking for a shop that has track parts to upgrade some components n my bike and I was told to go to Cambridge Bicycle (they have a team, sponsor alleycats, and the largest track selection this side of the internet) and it was the employees there who got me into Alleycat racing. At the alleycats I met up with different people who pointed me to the forum and it just kinda exploded from there. We definitely have a bunch of alleycats, most of them are organized by Jacobs, a local messenger living in China Town and the president of the Boston Bicycle Messenger Association. My first race was one of his, the ScumBag cup. I got initiated into this city pretty fast that weekend whether it was being hit by a minivan in front of Forest Hills station, two flat tires at the same time infront of South Station, or the heat exhaustion afterward that had me sleep 16 hours straight missing both the after party and Sam Black Church/Mad Ball show. My grandparents came out to support me that day, photographing everyone in the race, I think they got more scene points than me that day hah!

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We also do a series of indoor racing called BoldSprints, its from Fall to Spring and at after parties of alleycats. Our motto? Drink, Race, Don’t Puke. It can be tougher than one thinks, I remember my first sprint was very hard, and I felt I was in great shape and a fast rider. The magnetic resistance got harder the faster you pedaled, those 50 something seconds felt like hours. I came in 12th for the
entire evening that night. Months later I tried it again, only drank one beer instead of half a dozen before the race, and kept my greasy
Chinese food intake minimal as well. I was able to beat a friend whose been trash talking me for a year about how much faster he is being a
messenger (my defense is you ride slower when with ladies, they won’t want to ride with you if you leave them blocks behind), I came in
fourth for the evening!

This year I am leading the MassBike Spin Series the last Saturday of every month, I wanted to create a slow pace family friendly ride around Boston nothing too crazy, so I created one! Our first ride will be the last Saturday in May and about 8 miles. We are riding to a parkfor picnic lunch, then to JP Licks for ice cream, and back to the bike shop where I work (where the ride starts.) June’s ride will be longer
and go into Jamaica Plain to visit Bikes Not Bombs and check them out. In July I want to take them out to a local farm, in August to the
famous Walden Pond where Thoreau did his writing, and September’s ride is location to be determined.

Since I mentioned MassBike I should probably talk about them quickly, they are our state’s bicycle advocacy group and sponsor many events,
fight for bike lanes and bike trails, and are in charge of the upcoming Bike Week. Bike Week is great, more people learn its safe
and easy to ride to work every year. There’s free breakfast for bike commuters every morning for a week, at every bridge going into Boston
there’s people giving away Cliff Bars, water bottles, reflective ankle bands, coupons for free coffee, raffles for t-shirts, etc etc. This year Bike Week starts on the 11th, the day after Mother’s Day, so go buy your mom a bike this year! For more information check out
Massbike.org

Another great group is Liveable Streets which fights for more bike
lanes and wins, along with working with engineers with development and planning, they have open to the public group
discussions with guest speakers once a month and free beer!

There is Critical Mass in Boston, I’ve never been. From what I’ve been told its chaos, not as good as Critical Mass in other states, and that
too many people who attend give bikers a bad name whether from their riding style, what they yell to people, and general behavior.
Critical Mass is not for drunken cyclists to threaten to u lock drivers, it’s supposed to be a celebration not an ugly disaster. I
therefore, avoid Critical Mass.

There are also many groups of road riders who do many miles in spandex on the weekends leaving from various bike shops across the area. Since
I work in a bike shop my days off are almost never on a weekend and I do my spandex clad long rides at 5am on weekdays usually solo before
going to work.

Boston is trying really hard to go from one of the worst cities to bike in, into one of the best. We have pedicabs now, and more bike
lanes, and more places to lock up, and fun events. We even close Memorial Drive on Sundays (in Cambridge) so people can bike, walk,
jog, and skate along the river. Hopefully more people will get involved and make this a better biking city. Boston is small, there’s
no need to own a car, and you can always take the train/bus out to the suburbs to visit family if need be.

What is this NACCC people keep talking about?

The NACCC is the North American Cycling Courier Championships, the Olympics if have you for bike messengers. We compete in sprints, long races, trick contests, drinking contests, and races which simulate work, where we are constantly zig zagging all over the city making deliveries. This year it will be in Boston, and I am very excited for this. Registration is open on the website: http://naccc09boston.com and let it be known I plan on taking home the Gold in the Tetris Competition! I plan to ride in the sprints and the main race but that’s it. Most messengers only ride track bikes for work and most of the events are track bike (no brakes) specific. I plan on helping out as much as possible whether it be judging, setting up, cleaning up, being an urban pack mule pedaling beer from event to event. I wish there were more cargo messengers out there like me so we could have a cargo event. Everyone would get their butts kicked, I can sprint up BunkerHill on a 250lb cargo trike with 600lbs of farm food and not take my butt off the saddle, that’s Vegan Power baby!

dan2

Why are you “Not Your Average Bicycle Messenger?”

I am Not Your Average Bicycle Messenger because I stop at red lights and wear a helmet. The previous sentence is true, but what sets me aside from others is that I ride this crazy cargo trike from England, whereas most messengers ride fixed gear or single speed bikes which have great acceleration rates but max out in top speed quicker. Their deliveries tend to be documents, whereas mine are boxes of food bigger than recycling bins. Most messengers just work downtown, my work takes me all over Boston, Cambridge, Somerville. I deliver to offices, businesses, restaurants, and people’s homes. I don’t know of any other messenger companies that have keys to make deliveries right to your kitchen! My current gig since I’m back full time in the bike shop for the season, is getting up at 5am to deliver baked goods to cafes all over the city, I have to be done by 7am no exceptions, and my goal is not to have any broken scones or muffins. I watch the city arise in the morning, people waiting for the first bus of the day, parents taking children to school, and I’m done for the day before most messengers even wake up. Over the winter I was working all day, many saw me trucking along slow and steady at 9mph through the wind and snow. That might sound like a nice leisurely pace, but it’s not, it feels like you are always going up hill, can you pedal 1000 lbs for 6-8 hours in a snowstorm? Oh yeah, I also stop at red lights and wear a helmet. I also try to keep active in the other parts of bike culture, I write for Urban Velo magazine every now and again, I ride for OrganicAthlete’s Boston Chapter Vegan Cycling team, and I really want to build a chopper and ride with SCUL this year. Over the winter this college student followed me around for the day to do a photo essay, and my quote for the day was, “This is what you do with a degree in Journalism.” I may have spent years in college thinking I’d be the next music critic, but I make my paychecks by pedaling. We are all a big family, and there’s a lot of respect for each other, I’m just the awkward one of the bunch.

Whats that like in the Boston area? What is the Average Bicycle Messenger vibe like?

People like to treat us like a lower class of citizen. “Don’t go in those doors, use the loading dock. Don’t go in that elevator, walk up to the 40th floor in the stairwell.” I find that doormen, concierges, and security are generally on power trips and very rude! They have even threatened to get my trike towed away because they didn’t like where I locked it up (on a public sidewalk.) I have found though, like in any aspect of life, people treat you based on how you treat them. When I started asking which door or elevator they want me to use, saying “have a good day” as I left, smiled often, all of a sudden everyone was super nice to me and those doors and elevators I wasn’t allowed to use a month ago I’m being told to use. I have found this works well with law enforcement as well. One state trooper told me when we were side by side at a red light in a snow storm, that I am the definition of perseverance.

As a messenger in Boston, and even a cyclist in general you have to watch out for the three main dangers: 1) Pedestrians (90% college
students 10% tourists) who can’t walk unless a cell phone is glued to their face and only cross when the orange hand says don’t cross. 2)
Drivers who forgot what a turn signal is, even when taking a left hand turn. 3) Potholes, there were days when I got more than one flat a
day, it was just brutal.

Unfortunately with this failing economy, the need for bike messengers is going down, just about everyone I know is making at least 100 if
not more less a week, companies that had work cant’ take on new people. Hopefully more people and companies will realize that delivery
by bike is faster, cheaper, and better for the environment. I read an article in the paper written by Taza Chocolate about why they have us deliver for them, and it was because UPS shipped everything from Boston to Providence just so it can come back to Boston a few days later to be delivered. We can deliver same day! So support your local bike messenger, tip him on those bad weather days so he can get a coffee or sandwich, be nice to him, he probably just bounced off a car’s hood on the way to get your delivery on time, and he’s only
doing this job because of a love for bikes and the environment, not for the pay, I’m pretty sure McDonald’s pays better.

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What’s Metro Pedal Power all about?

Metro Pedal Power is the courier company I work for, run by this awesome lady Wenzday Jane. We used to be called New Amsterdam Project until she bought the company back in the Fall. We have a fleet of five electric assist trikes and working on getting Pedi Cabs and who knows what else in the future. Why electric assist? Well because these cargo trikes which are the size of a Smart Car if not bigger, weigh 250 empty, can hold 600-800 lbs (including rider), and are slow but steady. Before people say, “Hey electric assist is cheating!” Let me fill you in on how it works, you HAVE to pedal while using the assist. Without using it average speed it 9mph, with using electric assist its 3mph. It’s one of those things you only want to use when you have to. It makes going up hills really easy, just spinning like on a road bike in the easiest gear, and helped a lot when getting stuck in the slush and snow this winter. Also, the battery doesn’t always last an entire days work, and often I’ve had to ride 5+ miles at 3mph in the easiest gear to get home in bad weather this winter.

So what do we deliver? Anything! Currently we are working with local farms and their CSA programs delivering farm shares to people. We are also working with Harvard University Book Store, Taza Chocolates, The COOP Grocery Store, Greenward (Eco-Friendly) Retail Store, and Petsi Pies. In the past we have worked with Staples, Boston Organics, and other businesses. People have even hired us to help them move, and that’s how I plan to move at the end of the summer. We also share space with Open Bicycle, whom is making quite the name for themselves as an independent shop/artists.

Whats up with the Organic Athlete’s Boston Chapter Go Vegan, Road Cycling team?

OrganicAthlete (one word) is a nonprofit I found out about at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival last October. I met up with Matt Miller who had a table, and basically you join this group which promotes healthy lifestyles (eating organic, eating raw, being vegan) and if you want to compete that is even better. The Boston Chapter has more runners than cyclists actually. Matt does cyclecross and is going to do road racing, I will be doing road racing this year for the first time in my life, and another guy does mountain biking. We enter events as individuals (until we have enough members to have a solid core team) and rock the Go Vegan! kit while competing. Matt made the news when he made it in 3rd place at Batten Kill a few weeks ago. We also get together once a month for a dinner on a Sunday night to talk about upcoming events, trade recipes, and geek out on bike stuff.

Why is there so much independent bicycle manufacturing in the Boston area?

Boston has a long history of bicycle culture, don’t forget Major Taylor lived in the suburbs not too far away! Back in the 80s Merlin Cycles was a big hand built Mountain Bike company, Metro Pedal Power is actually in their old warehouse space! When Merlin split up, Independent Fabrications and Seven Cycles were formed both which make great bikes. Independent is located in Somerville (North of Boston by two cities and Seven Cycles is located in Watertown (West of Boston by two cities,) These big name companies make some pretty sweet bikes, some set you back as much as a new car. Up North, but still in Massachusetts is ANT Bicycles, which has the old school feel of 3 Speeds, Cargo Bikes, and British Touring, I hope to one day own an ANT Bike, and newest to the trade my buddy Marty is behind Geekhouse Bikes which started out with BMX then moved to Mountain Bikes, and is now the choice of local track and cyclecross bike riders. I think it’s something in our tap water, it just makes everyone good at welding. Probably, the real reason is MIT has many welding talented students and faculty who will show you the ropes if you ask nicely.

What muppet best represents you? (a question which came up from Steve Kenivil at How to Avoid the Bummer Life)

I would have to be Fozzie the Bear, because I’m a hairy mofo and I always tell jokes no one else gets, yet I think they are hilarious.

Whats up with this Boston Bike Blogger? Does every Boston Biker have a blog?

Boston Biker is run by Shane from Mass Bike, he started his own blog about Boston cycling, and as it got bigger more and more people wanted blogs and he started hosting them LiveJournal or BlogSpot style. Its free, its fun. I have one, why don’t you? I subscribe to his blog to keep up to date on everything bike related going on in the city.

What was it like being a bicycle Mechanic in Cambridge?

Was like? I still am a mechanic! It’s just seasonal in Boston, so my days wrenching are April-Thanksgiving then I work as a messenger full time in the winter (part time the rest of the year.) It really depends on what shop you work for, I work for the tree hugging hippie shop that is run by a collective, we are probably the smallest shop in the area and cater to commuters. We don’t sell road bikes or children’s bikes, or mountain bikes. Just hybrids, a few single speeds, and the Surly Cross Check. What also sets us apart from other shops in the area is we offer mechanics classes and rent out a stand and our tools so you can work on your own bike while we are open. Plus we are a fun bunch of people. What other bike shop has moustache contests? Carrot Cake Bake Offs, Art Gallery Openings, Pride Day, and free treats for dogs? I have to say, it doesn’t feel like work, more like going to summer camp.

Any funny stories about delivering organic food with MPP?

Since I get a lot of stares, comments and questions riding this crazy trike, I’d have to say the best comment I ever got from someone was in ChinaTown when this old man asked me, “Are you Chinese?” I replied “No” and then he said, “You are now, you are one of us!” This one time I was hauling butt through Cambridge trying to find this office building, going in circles and I passed a roadie who got a blow to their ego, it was on a downhill, not a drastic one but with all my weight I got my trike up to 26mph and they tried to pass me but couldn’t, it made my day.

Are there other ways the bicycle is evolving the “Greening” of the Boston area?

Definitely more people are realizing how easy it is to get around by bike, more and more people keep telling me they use their car less or sell their cars. That’s when I tell them how I saved over 6000 last year between insurance and gas by selling my car. Since the Mayor is on a bicycle kick the past few years there has been more newspaper articles and tv broadcasts about the benefits to our environment by people commuting by bike. I feel the failing economy is helping, unfortunately people don’t bike to save the Earth, they do it to save money. But hey, at least they are riding! In a less general sense, my fiance bikes to work everyday, and her boss saw her greeness which led to recycling at work, and soon to be installed solar panels to power the entire bakery!

What are your future Cycling goals for work? for play?

I hope to get together with people and resurrect the defunct Boston Cycling Zine, Boston Reflector. I also want to be more active volunteering my time with Mass Bike and Bikes Not Bombs. I had an idea over the winter after spending lunch with an officer of the Boston Police Bike Patrol, they need to learn bike mechanics, they don’t have the training and definitely don’t have the proper tools. I want to create a basic class and teach it to them. I want to ride across country in the next few years, a lot of friends and customers have done it in the past year or are going to this summer. I just have to do it, its been on my to do list since elementary school.

Anything else I didn’t mention?

Heather (my fiance) and I just won the Boston Green Wedding Give Away for being so green! We are getting married in November and getting the hookup with a vegan cake, recycle metal rings, recycled paper invitations, local flowers that get donated to nursing homes, hybrid limo, organic dress, etc. I can’t help it, I’ve been OCD about recycling since before those bins existed on trash day, haven’t worn deodorant in years, and been bicycle obsessed since I could pedal.

Further expliots of Dan can be found on his blog:
notyouraveragebicyclemessenger.bostonbiker.org

New Bike concept alert.

Your bike lock is your bike.
freelock_011

design by Bong Hokuen & Ko Yoenjung (ha ha, he said Bong)

Read more at www.yankodesign.com
also posted at Gizmodo.com

sent to me by my tech guru…Dan Katz.

Time’s Up is going to the Dogs!

Who let the dogs…out and on bikes?
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(picture from last years Doggie Pedal Parade-Time’s Up photo)

Time’s Up is rounding out Bike Month with a bunch of great events:

“This Saturday is the SECOND ANNUAL DOGGIE PEDAL PARADE!
Pooches & People for Pedal & Planet
Sunday, May 31st at 2 p.m.
Meet at the Tompkins Square Park Dog Run (near Avenue A and 9th Street)

Bring your dog and bicycle to the Second Annual Doggie Pedal Parade. We will use baskets and trailers, listen to doggie tunes playing on the soundbike, and end the parade at Washington Square Park for a doggie celebration complete with donated tofu hot dogs, dog shaped vegan cookies, other snacks, drinks, and playtime for all.
This ride will highlight bicycles adapted to transport pets as well as the benefits of adopting homeless animals. Cyclists without dogs are encouraged to ride dressed as their favorite animal or join the Safety Pooch Patrol to help escort the ride.

For more information on the ride and the 5/28 Pup Your Ride Workshop to get your bike ready for the parade go to:
http://times-up.org/index.php?page=doggie-pedal-parade and

http://times-up.org/index.php?page=doggie-pedal-parade-faq.

Click here for PICTURES from last year’s Doggie Pedal Parade flickr set
See the VIDEO from last year’s Doggie Pedal Parade!

More Time’s Up events:
4. CRITICAL MASS: MANHATTAN
Friday, May 29th, 7 p.m.
Union Square, North Side
******************
5. BIKE PUNK CRITICAL MASS AFTER PARTY
Friday, May 29th, 9 p.m.
Angel’s Lounge, 990 Broadway, Brooklyn (JMZ to Myrtle Ave)
******************
6. GRAFITTI RIDE
Saturday, May 30th, 2:30 p.m.
Time’s Up! Brooklyn at 99 South 6th Street, off Bedford Avenue
******************
7. RIVERSIDE RIDE
Saturday, May 30th, 10 p.m.
Columbus Circle (SW corner of Central Park, at the intersection of Broadway, Central Park South 59th Street, and Central Park West)
******************
8. SECOND ANNUAL DOGGIE PEDAL PARADE
Saturday, May 31st, 2 p.m.
Tompkins Square Park Dog Run
******************
9. FRANKENBIKE BEGINNER’S WELDING WORKSHOP
Sunday, May 31st, 2:30 p.m.
XUP Brooklyn, 99 South 6th Street, off Bedford Avenue
******************
10. MAILING PARTY AND VOLUNTEER MEETING
Monday, June 1st, 7:30 p.m.
156 Rivington Street between Suffolk & Clinton Streets

Prisoner Tour?

Lance Armstrong sent out this to Twitter.

What could possibly go wrong?

NANTES, France (Reuters) – Close to 200 prisoners will cycle around France next month, watched by scores of guards on bicycles, in the first penal version of the Tour de France, authorities said Monday.

The 196 prisoners will cycle in a pack and breakaway sprints will not be allowed. They will be accompanied by 124 guards and prison sports instructors. There will be no ranking, the idea being to foster values like teamwork and effort.

read rest of the article here.

Switzerland gets a fixed Blog

Welcome to:
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www.fixedgearswitzerland.com

Poleriders…Now that’s a pedicab.

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(photo from this year’s SantaCon NYC)

If you see what appears to be a pedicab, rolling through Time’s Square with some erotic dancers on the back, lit up, sliding down a pole…you haven’t had one too many at the Hawaiian Tropic Club.

Nope its Andrew Katzander and his poleriders!

Here is my Q and A with Andrew…creator of this marvelous contraption.

Name, Age, where you live.

Andrew Katzander age 44, live in Manhattan

(question I ask everyone) What bikes do you own?

2008 OM Flyer has been my main ride for the last year. I also
have a Bianchi SASS, A 1958 chrome Schwinn Olympic Track Bike,
and a One-Off mt Bike by Mike Augspurger. (all for sale except the OM)
My son age 6 rides a 16″ DK General Lee and for distance we have a
Burly Tag-Along.

Tell us about your Pole Rider bike in detail…How was it constructed?
Who made it?

PoleRider is built on the chassis of a 2008 Cycles Maximus Work
Trike. ThePlatform is integrated into the cargo bed and the Pole mounts
securely to a flange. The prototype used until Dec. 2008 was built by me
and a 2 friendsthat are also industrial designers. The new version, on the
street now was built by methis winter. Construction is in steel and
plywood.

What were some of the challenges it took to make this bike?

The biggest physical challenge was probably getting it back and
forth over the bridge to and from the studio/shop in Brooklyn where I
was working on it. It weighs over 500 lbs. because of the ballast needed
to prevent tipping. Keeping it safe and stable was the biggest design
challenge.

Were you a pedicab driver before? What lead to the pole rider bike?

Yes, I rode a pedicab for a while and but I prefer PoleRiding.

What inspired you to do this?

I was riding along the west side bike path along the river past the Hustler
Club. I looked up and the just Idea hit me. It was a 1+1=10/ Reese’s Peanut
Butter Cup moment that I didn’t have to write down to remember in the
morning. I told a couple of friends who also love bikes (and women) and we
knew it had to be done.

How does the pole rider bike light up?

Light and sound run off of a series of 12 volt deep cycle marine batteries
which double as ballast. I can go for an entire weekend without recharging.
The speakers are marine equipment in case of rain.

Who has performed on your bike?

I have a team of dancers that I work with, Some more often than
others. Paris Hilton has not been on yet. The PoleRiders are professional
athletes, acrobats, aerialist and dancers who perform with amazing
strength,flexibility and showmanship. They are also bicycle racers,
bike commuters and regular bike riders themselves.

–Marlo has performed on MTV and VH1 with artists Diddy, Pharell, Nelly,
Fabulous, and on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, 30 Rock and The
Unusuals. She is a fitness model, contortionist and trainer who has
appeared in Shape, Fitness, Runner’s World, AM New York, The Daily
News and Nike promotions. Marlo has a nationally available Pilates
workout video series and she teaches pole dancing classes at
Shokra Studio 212-696-9642

–Ariel is a go-go dancer, model and licensed esthetician who is quickly
making a name for herself among the worlds top fetish photographers.
When she isn’t PoleRiding, Ariel can be found dancing regularly at parties
and clubs around New York City and Philly.

–Nathalia says Poleriding is one of the few things that burns off all of her
excess energy and satisfies her desire to be moving. She finds it be
incredibly sexy and an amazing workout. It’s a form of art and very
amusing at the same time.

–Amaris Sky also of Groove Hoops is the latest addition who joined
at the Dance Parade and saved the day when another dancer couldn’t
make it.

What was the inaugural ride like?

The first ride was with a dancer named Playjoy who I met
through an ad on craigs, looking for a pole dancer for the Halloween
Parade. We rolled through Alphabet City and it quickly became apparent
that this was going to be a hit, We stopped by the club where she was
dancing that night and she changed into an outfit. That’s when things
got crazy. There was a pack of drooling boys on BMX bikes following
us around and people started running out of bars to watch us go by.
Later, after dropping her off, I just rode around for the rest of the night
picking up dancers along the way. At one point two drunk girls were
fighting for a turn. It was a very surreal experience and without a doubt,
the most amazing bike ride of my life. The official launch was the Halloween
Parade. By then I met Marlo and she brought along some friends and students
from her pole class to join. All I can say is, that was a crazy night…

Whats a typical night like for the pole rider bike?

Actually we have only been out a few times. After converting
PoleRider to a rolling version of the North Pole and Santas sled for
SantaCon it was too cold for PoleRiding. We did the Dance Parade
last weekend and A shoot for German/Euro TV this week. Other
than that, its been mostly just practice runs. There is really no typical
night but lots of cheering and Cameras flashing have become a regular
thing. A lot of women ask to jump on for a quick spin or a photo op.

poleriders

What kind of press have you gotten about this bike?

The coverage has been really amazing. My first ride with Marlo was caught on
video and posted on YouTube. Within 4 days it was posted on the very
radical Skateopia website out of Ohio.
It made the rounds of cycle blogs around the world as far
as Hong Kong (HKFixed) Then
Thrillist
and Gizmodo
posted it and it was another exponential explosion which led to an article in
the Post and countless magazines as far away as China. Then I did some live radio interviews
in the US, Australia and Columbia. All this was last year. This season we are
making a documentary and we shot a story for German Euro TV. We
just also did a shoot for Intersection Magazine. HBO is shooting us next month.

Describe people’s reactions to this thing coming down the road?

Usually their mouths drop open and I see them mouth the words WTF. Then they
smile and cheer. Other times they start frantically pulling out their cameras and cell phones
to get a picture. People sometimes run outside of restaurants, bars and buildings and watch
us til we are out of site. We get people shouting from windows and fire escapes. Thursday
afternoon we had a construction crew cheering and wistling from scaffoding on the side of a
building.

How do you find performers for the bike?

First, and ad in Craigs, Then word of mouth. I have a PoleRiders Facebook
group and a lot of dancers all over the world are now fans and are waiting
for Poleriders to expand to their country. I am still looking to add to the
NYC team since this is still a part time gig and plans sometimes happen last
minute. I like to go on a test ride out of traffic so the dancers can get
used to the ride and see if they like it. So far everyone loves the feeling.

You must have a million, but is there one good story you could share about
the bike?

I think the funniest thing is when we roll by a tourist bus and the dancer
is doing a trick right at the level of the bus windows. Also Rolling in
front of big trucks is fun when they start honking their horns.

Can anyone pole ride on a bike?

Join the team or ask me for a ride. Don’t just jump on. That really freaks
me out. I like working with experienced dancers that can do tricks.

2009 plans for the polerider bike?

I am setting up in London and would like to expand to other cities around
the world especially Vegas, Miami and Amsterdam. I would like to do a
reality TV show with a novice dancer who learns tricks as the season
progresses and we go on the road. Polerider can be converted to a tent
shelter in a few minutes so I can go cross country. I would like to go to
Burning Man.

Future plans for the polerider bike?

I want to start racing them. I have a vision of bringing bike racing back to
Madison Square Garden with PoleRiders. There would be points awarded for
style as well as speed so striking a balance between reducing weight for
speed and having enough ballast for stability will be a key issue for the
teams. This will be a great opportunity for sponsors.

Anything you wish I’d asked you?

If you want to mention that we are sponsored by Bern Helmets.
They make asuperior product and I would not say it if I didn’t really believe it.

picture-26
I chose their product for the team. We are also Sponsored by R-Pole, Pole
Passion in the UK, and the international Miss Pole Dance competitions.
PoleRiders are available for advertising, events, parties, promotions,
parades group rides, film and video. We have sponsorship packages available
and can do a full branding setup. Picture the RedBull cars. We can even
place a product model high on top of the pole.

Kids: “Dont try this at home” We worked out a lot of potential hazzards

If you think you have what it takes and want to be part of the PoleRider
team please contact PoleRiders clubhouse today at 917 232 3448 to set up an
audition. We are not accepting any more applications for pilots at this
time.

I hope that PoleRiders inspires more people to ride bikes and we promote
safe cycling. Contact us at info@poleriders.net and check out the site
(under Construction but in the last round of edits and going live soon)
www.poleriders.net and the blog poleriders.blogspot.com

My response to the Kyle Smith at the NY Post.

nypost-edit
Kyle Smith from the NY Post had this to say about cyclists in NYC:

“Imagine if cab drivers behaved like bicyclists – with total disregard for red lights, the direction of traffic, and the presence of 8.3 million other people.”

ahhhh…no need to imagine Kyle…if you ride a bike in this town…you live that cab behavior every day.

Here is something that is about as thoughtful as Kyle Smith’s diatribe on errant cyclists:

I offer some nice hands:
www.misternicehands.com

Thanks Hunter College for your Useless study on cycling in NYC…

With all the positive moves in NYC for cycling I really don’t have a lot of time to focus on the negative, especially when its the same ol victim blaming game. Then Hunter college sociology students came out with this study to monitor the behavior of cyclists in the City. Oh great. It isn’t hard enough to take environmental matters into your own hands and brave the hyper aggressive streets of NYC or just plain ride your bike. Nope. Some brain surgeons over at Hunter decided to take a tiny cross section of the cycling community and realize what most people in this town are already keenly aware of. Cyclists don’t stop at red lights and don’t wear helmets. GASP? WHAT? That’s preposterous? I suppose your going to tell me next that pedestrians never jaywalk either and drivers never disobey parking laws? Well the pecking order from walkers to drivers, can have a field day and now refer to this study to backup their hatred for cyclists in NYC and instead of trying to figure out the benefits of cycling, they can rest assured and feel safety in the wonderful passive blame game. Pity we don’t spend more time trying to do research studies on the health benefits and sociological attributes of having cleaner air, less car traffic and a healthier society. I guess Hunter college doesn’t have a Public Health department. Maybe they should put that time and energy into figuring out what to do about the Governor’s tuition hike plan, and why New Yorkers aren’t going to be able to afford to go to school…let alone how they are going to get there by bike.

If you have about an hour of time to waste, you can read the study Here. or read this article by J. David Goodman in the NY Times blog, spokes department.

I would like to give a personal thank you to William Milczarski, professor of urban planning, at Hunter College, who concocted this rather useless observation study. Now we cyclists can spend further wasted time trying to do positive PR and justify why we ride in NYC (and you should too) to %*#holes like this guy from the fair and balanced NYPOST.

Wow, what a shocking suprise, just a few days after last week’s study came out…the NY Post had an editorial. Weird.

Kyle Smith had this editorial. This is what I am talking about. Studies come out, which Kyle refers to to justify his hatred for cyclists, because he got knocked down on the Westside Highway bike path. Well Kyle, that’s unfortunate. But aren’t you a bit over reacting with an editorial with the headline: “DANGEROUS BIKE RIDERS RUN WILD WITH IMPUNITY IN NYC!” hmmmm. Yes people, another thing FOX news wants you to be afraid of like that sadistic swine flu that’s going around killing millions of New Yorkers…ok actually just two so far. Well Kyle, you live in NYC and Kurtis Blow said it best…”These are the breaks.” Maybe you were equally pissed off when 56 year old Doctor Carl Nacht was killed on the west side highway by a Tow Truck…or when 22 year old Eric Ng was killed by a drunk driver on the same “safe” bike path that you enjoy running on. Funny I didn’t see any angry 2 page editorials from the NY Post saying, “DANGEROUS DRIVERS KILL CYCLISTS TWICE ON BIKE PATH.” I’m sure you were very traumatized by that “bike rider gone wild,” and I’m glad you get to play the victim blame game. I mean, I’m sure that Eric and Dr. Carl deserved to die on their bikes…after all, they weren’t wearing helmets.

Kyle’s editorial was quite funny however because he introduced us to new categories of cyclists:

* Messengers of Mayhem. These are young, aggressively fit men, often clad in futuristic outfits complete with face-obscuring visors that make them look like Boba Fett. They’re professional bike messengers who primarily operate in Midtown during business hours. They won’t stop or even slow down for red lights or for pedestrian-heavy intersections, so to warn you they’re coming they’ve developed terrifying bird call-like whistles that make them the pterodactyls in the prehistoric fight for survival that is life in Manhattan. When you hear the whistle, though, you don’t know if you’re supposed to stop or keep going on a predictable trajectory. Cops watch them barrel through red lights while discussing the relative merits of French roast vs. house blend.

(Yeah, those lazy cops…they should be body checking cyclists)

* Szechuan Psychos. Working for tips and of questionable immigration status, they serve in the mechanized infantry of General Tso’s army. Rusted rides and dumpling physiques generally prevent these wonton warriors from building up much speed – but they prowl residential neighborhoods at night. You’ll never see the one that gets you. Nor will you be able to sue him for all he’s worth, unless you don’t mind being paid in moo shu pork.

* Lance-a-Louts. You can tell by their high-performance bikes, their high-performance yellow-spandex racing jerseys, the high-performance dorkiness of their wee caps with precious little upturned visors: These weekenders think they’re l’il Lance Armstrongs as they pedal furiously down your street on the way to the park.

Corey the Courier answered back with this great comment and some categories of his own for pedestrians:

“I will not deny the presence of the three types of scofflaw cyclists. Nor will I try to refute the study of some random urologist, eager to emasculate male cyclists by his findings from a severely limited population sample.

I cannot condemn the wish for a more civilized use of the roadway by cyclists. I am thankful for the work of organizations like Transportation Alternatives who diligently work with the government to implement greener ways for the 8.3 million residents of the city to go to and fro.

But there are two sides to every coin…

Jaywalking pedestrians who get hit are usually unaware of their surroundings. Their presence in heavy numbers prevents the reasonable flow of motorists and cyclists from continuing onward to their destinations. I’ll describe three types of jaywalkers who, by their inappropriate place in the roadway, are usually the first victims to your triumvirate of mechanical menace:

The Dorothy’s: Just like the Wizard of Oz they abide in the green of the bike lane or the red of the bus lane despite a perfectly acceptable sidewalk nearby.

The Prairie Dogs: These are the people who spontaneously appear from behind parked vehicles into the path of oncoming traffic. They wander out mindlessly, then jump back when they see man-and-metal barreling toward them.

The Topeka Kansas High School Marching Band: These are the worst and make life hell for anyone with a desire to reach their destination in a timely fashion. These are the ones who see Prairie Dogs, Dorothys or just basic jaywalkers, following them into the street without a single glance to check for danger. The light could be red, traffic may be careening toward them, but they eagerly join other members of the band creating a mini parade. They stifle traffic flow and create road rage.

If jaywalking in New York became illegal or equally scorned public behavior as the kamikaze cyclists, maybe the police could actually catch these derelicts that trouble you so.

Corey Hilliard
Messenger of Mayhem Member”

Today…Lower East Side Bike Tour

Sustainable L.E.S. Community Bike Tour
& Garden Party
UNION SQUARE SOUTH
Sat, May 23 2:00 pm

Join members and friends of the 4th Street Food Co-Op for a leisurely,
two-wheeled tour of sustainable community in the Lower East Side.
Ending (at around 4:00) at the 4th Street food Co-op and on to
Children’s Magical Garden (corner of Norfolk and Stanton) for
refreshments with the kids!

In the years of the City’s neglect of the Lower East Side, local
residents, activists and homesteaders reclaimed abandoned buildings
and lots to create a vibrant community of environmental and social
responsibility. Despite the continuing struggles against
gentrification and development, many of these places continue to
thrive and actively contribute to the community. This tour will visit
gardens, community centers, compost drop off sites, and various other
co-operative grassroots endeavors which are now lost, saved or still
struggling for survival. The ride will start at Union Square South,
last about 2-3 hours, cover around 3 miles.

4thstreetfoodcoop.org

Twitter Round Up

Here’s a little experiment I’m playing with.

A round up of postings I’ve found from my twitter feed from around the world of bike related material.

Bike Rater sent out this video:

The US Open of Mountain biking. More at:
Pinkbike.com

Sydney Cyclist linked me to the Slow bicycle movement from Copenhagen.
theslowbicycle.blogspot.com

Slow Bicycle Race – Copenhagenize vs Amsterdamize from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.

ride of silence which happened May 20th. Different cities around the world had a ride to honor those cyclists killed.

Who’s on Twitter:
Cog Magazine
Fixed Gear Republic
Carlos Sastre Pro bicycle racer.