The Mellow Jihadi, a journal of experiences biking in NYC

Often blogs are just news gathering sites where events and articles are reposted. (like this one) It’s nice to occasional stumble across ones that are more of live journals where people share their thoughts and experiences with more of a literary flare. Eric, a former NYC messenger and Arabic linguist for the Navy, sent me a link to his blog, “the Mellow Jihadi,” where he writes about biking in the big city and what he calls, “Confessions of a New York City Bike Messenger.”

Here is an excerpt from his posting: Fashion Models and a New York City Bike Messenger

I brake and my derailler clicks twice. The same snare. Click click. I pull up to a bent no-parking sign and flip my chain-lock off my handlebars. Just ahead, hunched over a blue newspaper rack, another cyclist struggles with his bike.

I throw my chin at him. In greeting. Mostly because I want to stare at his track bike. Or whatever they call those one-geared dealios some guys roll. This dude is not a messenger, but he is a dude. A hipster. The kind with new facial hair not invented yet. All retro and futuristic at the same time. His shirt says something ironic, sarcasm lost on me. I snap my lock shut and dig into my bag for my deliveries.

Outside, two girls stand smoking. The models have the same shape as their skinny mini cigarillos. As in none. You’ve come a long way, baby.

I hate to break this to you, but some models are not models. Not for beauty anyway. Not up close. Nervous stringy things they are. Maybe they know how to work the camera, but as I pass them, they look like egrets, all swept hair and bob-necked. Sorry girls, I have no egrets in saying it. . .

I walk through the lobby and pass a modely type who frowns at me. I see myself in a mirror, behind the front desk, and I frown at me too.

Read more here:

Congratulations to the winner of SUGOI twitter contest

Just wanted to give a shout out to David Patrick (@dpatrick1a) for winning the SUGOI twitter contest. Like a Mark Cavendish sprint, David responded to the last question in just 21 seconds after I posted it on Friday and won himself a new jersey courtesy of SUGOI apparel.

This was a lot of fun to do and I hope to have more giveaways through twitter soon.

Flip apartments and bicycle handles

What may be the latest selling point in your new NYC apartment? Bike storage. Here is recent article in the NY Times real estate section about buildings making room for the bicycle.

In N.Y. Apartment Buildings, Bicycles Muscle In
By: Elizabeth A. Harris
August, 26th 2011

20110829-040107.jpg(photo by: Ty Cacek)

Brian Whiteley oves his bicycle, a black fixed-gear Schwinn that he rides around New York City almost every day. His landlord, however, does not share this affection, fearing scuffed floors and chipped paint. And that has become a problem.

Brian Whiteley keeps his bike outside his building in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. He and his wife are seeking a place with indoor bike storage.
Mr. Whiteley, an artist, and his wife, Mar Granados, an architect, are not permitted to take their bikes inside the Carroll Gardens brownstone where they live. So they lock them to a railing outside, battling rust with a plastic tarp and regular applications of WD-40. In the year and a half since the couple moved in, they have spent close to $1,000 replacing stolen parts, and once, an entire bicycle.

Read more: here.

This made me think of this new product:

A new innovation for bicycles that may help with tight storage situations. The Fliphandle.

Here is a bit about them:

Once installed on a bike, the Flipphandle enables handlebars to be turned and locked at 90 degrees with the push of a button (see picture), vastly increasing the sardine-packing possibilities of your average bike room.


They have a kickstarter page for potential investors which you can find out more about: here.

Helmet guide on the Bird Wheel

Nona over at the Bird Wheel has some answers to some basic concerns about bike helmets:


1. Helmet Hair. Sorry, there’s no science available on earth that has solved this riddle.
2. Looks. You know ugly when you see it and 90% of the time it’s all your bike shop carries.
3.Comfort. Who wants to be safe & miserable? Big head? Little head?
4. Price. You’re supposed to replace helmets when dropped or used for their intended purpose. When that happens they’re a bargain at any price but when you start going through a new helmet every year or every other year as recommended, it’s a drain.

Check out her helmet guide: The Beautiful and the Damned.

The latest on PPW bike lane

The latest from the battle of a 0.9 stretch of roadway in Brooklyn, the Prospect Park West bike lane. High power lawyer Jim Walden is representing a couple of groups of angry neighbors who just happen to include former D.O.T. commissioner, Iris Weinshall, who lives on Prospect Park West and is somehow outraged their is infrastructure for bicycles in her front yard. Recently a Brooklyn judge threw out their court case and has sent the angry neighbors searching for new tactics. Their latest move has been to write a scathing demands letter to the D.O.T. with threats of another lawsuit.

More from the Brooklyn Paper:

Lane pains! Foes of Prospect Park West cycle path threaten new suit
By Natalie O’Neill
August 17th, 2011

Opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane — whose case against the world’s most controversial cycle path was thrown out last week — are now demanding that the city remove the bike route entirely or face another lawsuit.

On Friday, lane foes issued the ultimatum to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan because Supreme Court Judge Bert Bunyan’s ruling required the group to “exhaust administrative remedies” before it may file a new lawsuit against the city.

To Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes — the group that has been fighting the lane ever since its installation last year — that means that the city must remove the cycle path entirely or else a second suit will be filed.

A new case can only go ahead if lane foes can prove that the city never intended the bike lane to be a permanent alteration because suits against such permenant changes must be filed within four months.

Read the entire article: here.

the bike lawyers by J.David Goodman/NY Times.

David Rankin and Mark Taylor have been sticking it to the Man in the name of cyclists since the days the cops declared war on critical mass back in the mid 90’s. Active cyclists both as commuters and socially were sick and tired of seeing their biker friends get harassed by the NYPD which lead them to form their own law firm Rankin and Taylor, specifically to fight for the civil rights of cyclists. They handle everything from personal injury cases to one of their current projects, bringing a class action lawsuit to the city for handing out false summons during the largely bogus, “operation safecycle,” of 2011.

The firm has recently been joined by Steve Vaccaro, who has been highly active on the legal front against much of the nonsense of the Prospect Park West bike lane.

J. David Goodman has just published an article about this powerhouse law firm in this Sunday’s New York Times, park of his on going Spokes Column.

A New Breed of Lawyers Focuses on Bicyclists’ Rights

Photo Caption: ON THE JOB Steve Vaccaro, a lawyer at Rankin & Taylor, biking from his office on Broadway to Midtown to meet with a community organization that has taken a stand against cyclists. Photo by: Christian Hansen for The New York Times

Published: August 19, 2011

AT the law firm Rankin & Taylor, everybody’s a cyclist. One recent day, the lawyers there parsed bike-law issues, like “dooring zones” and when is it legally acceptable to ride outside a designated lane, while downstairs, each of their bikes were expertly locked to a scaffold along Broadway in TriBeCa.

The small firm is preparing to bring a class-action suit against New York City on behalf of cyclists over summons handed out for what it contends are phantom violations — bike behavior that it says is not illegal in the city. It is another sign that New York’s bike fights are moving from the streets to the courtroom.

When it comes to bike law, it seems, the wheels of justice no longer grind slowly. Since a ticketing blitz early this year, cyclists in New York have faced stepped-up police enforcement of red-light and other, less-obvious rules, like having adequate lights or not riding with earphones in both ears.

Read more here.

SUGOI/twitter giveaway

SUGOI is a Japanese term for Incredible, which pretty much describes the level of active apparel they’ve been creating for decades. Founded in 1987, the company has been making high quality performance wear for biking, running, swimming and working out. They also make custom team apparel for pro sport athletes. In their words: “At SUGOI, we dedicate ourselves to SUGOI’s “personal best” work ethic to create incredible sports apparel. We know you strive for personal bests, and so do we, producing incredible products every time. For example, here is their Versa cycling jacket which has detachable sleeves, held together with magnets.

Now why am I telling you this? SUGOI and I are teaming up to giveaway one of their 2011 Evolution Jerseys. Men’s or Woman’s depending on who wins.

Here are some specs on the Jersey:
•Contrast raglan sleeve
•Smart Seams to increase movement and reduce abrasion
•Zone Construction: mesh inserts for added ventilation
•Full separating zip
•3 elastic back pockets slanted at the sides for easy entry
•Engineered collar detailed with shaped back neck
•Hem features signature grip elastic at the back with a flat front finish

The whole contest will take place through twitter, starting tomorrow. 8/22/11.
Here’s how it works.

Monday (8/22/11)-Wednesday (8/24/11) and Friday (8/26/11) I will tweet a question with the hastag #SUGOIgiveaway. Don’t worry, the answer to these questions will be a one word answer, with all you need to know written somewhere in this blog posting. The contest will only take place on twitter.

The first person to tweet all three words, wins the jersey. You must be a follower of both @bikeblognyc and @SUGOI_apparel before Friday. Yes, this means you will also need to have a twitter account.

For example, sometime on Monday (tomorrow) I’m going to tweet something like this: #SUGOIgiveaway, Question: Last name of Brooklyn Borough President who hates bikes?

Your answer would be Markowitz, which you record in a safe place until Friday. Then Wednesday I do the same thing. When Friday rolls around I ask another question and the first person to reply to that last tweet…wins.

You would hit the replay button on the bottom of the tweet with something like this: #SUGOIgiveaway Markowitz, blowhard, obese @bikeblognyc @SUGOI_apparel.
Please include both my handle and SUGOI’s

Good Luck.

Specialized preview from Nona at the Bird Wheel.

Last week I was invited to a sneak peak of the new line-up from Specialized. I was unable to attend but my good friend and blogger Nona Varnado from the Bird Wheel, went in my absence and posted this amazing report about what she saw coming out in both bikes and accessories.

Nona wrote:

Here’s what I’m excited about: the Ladies Jett mountain bike (I know totally out of character – but it’s awesome!), the mid-level Men’s Sirrus (I have lots of male friends who ask me about what bike is going to be the best for them) and some of the accessories – such as the WireTap full finger riding gloves (for men & women) that let you use a touch screen without taking the glove off. I haven’t tried it – but it sure looks like early Winter/Spring riding just got 35% more comfortable right there. The ladies matching accessories look like they’re headed to a good place. For now it’s really the cute mini pumps and triangle waterproof mini-bags that I think are quite something.”

Looks like Specialized is really keeping up with the upward trends of Urban cycling with sleek designs, just right for commuters. Speaking of-
She also did a preview of the urban cycling line Globe.

Read more:

Also, we couldn’t help ourselves…right next door was the preview of the ASICS Onitsuka Tiger shoes, (Men’s Collection shown here) one of my personal favorites for riding toe clips…especially the green ones.

Bikes 1, PPW bike lane haters 0

In the age of the SEC shredding evidence of corporate wrongdoing and big telecoms demanding pension cuts (Verizon) while recording record profits…here in NYC it’s win one for the little guy.

Yes, the big story this week is a Brooklyn judge denied the lawsuit of a small group of rich angry neighbors who were somehow so distraught over a .9 mile stretch of bike infrastructure.



Here’s more from the New York Times:

Judge Rejects Groups’ Effort to Remove Bike Lane
By: Michael M. Grynbaum
August 16, 2011

“A judge on Tuesday dismissed an effort by Brooklyn residents to remove a hotly contested bicycle lane installed by the city on Prospect Park West, in one of the most closely watched controversies over a signature policy of the Bloomberg administration.

Two groups sought removal of the bike lane that was installed in 2010 along Prospect Park West in Brooklyn.

The decision represented a significant victory for the city and its transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, whose campaign to create streets more oriented to pedestrians and bicyclists has divided New Yorkers and prompted a fierce political debate.

Read more: here.

Two Coney Island Rides Friday (8/19)

Quick clarification:

There are two Coney Island/Fireworks rides on Friday.

One hosted by the 5 Borough Bike Club and the other Time’s Up.

Go figure.

First the 5bbc ride:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day Ride
6:45 PM sharp, Union Square North (17th St & Park Ave South), or 7:30 PM, Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge (South 5th Pl & South 5th St), or 8:00 PM, 11th St & Prospect Park West, Brooklyn. 15 miles, easy pace.

More info visit:

And Time’s Up

Coney Island Cyclone Ride Fri, Aug 19th, 7:00 pm, Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge (SW corner of Chambers and Centre St/Park Row) OR 7:25 in Brooklyn at the Carroll St Drawbridge (btw Nevins and Bond) OR 7:50 at the 69th St Pier in Brooklyn at the Shore Pkwy bike path entrance (take 68th St)

More info: