Showing posts with label bicycles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bicycles. Show all posts

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bicycle outing in Chile

Not only is the bicycle a pleasant, healthy and non-polluting way of moving around. It also enables you to travel quite rapidly from one place to another, often along unexpected pathways, as demonstrated by this video of a brief bicycle outing in Valparaiso, Chile.



Certain viewers might complain that such a cyclist has to pay so much attention to the road that he doesn't really have ample opportunities of admiring the scenery. You can't have everything...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Amazing bicycle artist

The Scotsman Danny MacAskill looks like any ordinary cyclist... but, in fact, he's a quite extraordinary man on a bike.

He succeeds in riding his bike along unexpected trails that were surely never intended for cycling.



Sorry, kids, if your parents have just watched this video, and they now refuse to buy you a bike for your forthcoming holiday in Scotland.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Future bikes

Back in the distant past when I used to ride my red racing bike to Brittany in summer, I would cover the distance of some 500 kilometers in two days. This meant that I would average about 25 km/hour, and simply stay on the bike for a total of ten hours a day. I would stay overnight in a hotel. I carried almost nothing with me on the bike, apart from a bit of food. So, this excursion was only possible when I could join up with Christine in Brittany, where I could wash my sweaty clothes and find replacement clothes for wandering around the Rufflet property for a few days before heading back to Paris.

The only danger, in the context of this excursion, would have been rain… but I don't recall ever encountering this problem. In those days, there was a set of pleasant country roads between Paris and St-Brieuc… but they seem to have disappeared mysteriously since then. I don't have the facts on hand, and I don't claim to understand what exactly has happened, but the roads between Paris and Brittany appear to have become packed with speeding automobiles, which would make such an excursion unthinkable today.

I remember that the most difficult part of the excursion was getting back onto the bike on the second morning. It's amazing that such a machine can bring about a sore bum in such a stealthy but total fashion. You don't feel the soreness creeping up on you during the first day. It's a binary phenomenon, which simply switches on overnight. And the funny thing is that, on the second morning, the soreness quickly disappears. I don't know whether researchers have written doctoral theses on this subject, but it's really quite intriguing.

These memories reoccurred to me when I came upon this photo of a so-called recumbent bicycle, designed in Japan:

[Click the photo to see other images.]

Maybe this is the ultimate solution to the sore-bum problem that besets casual cyclists. But I can't help wondering what the rider's abdominal region would feel like after a day on such a machine. Is there a risk of falling asleep when gliding freely down the slopes? Besides, I have a gut feeling (no pun intended) that a cyclist can only use his legs efficiently if he's in a seated position on his bicycle. But I'm prepared to agree that this feeling could well be false.

Unfortunately, since the beginning of my rural life at Gamone, I've never really got involved in cycling. The basic problem, here, is that there are simply too many slopes.

ADDENDUM: I've just come upon an intriguing article entitled Apple Patents the iBike [display], suggesting that "our favorite Cupertino company could be getting into the bike business — the smart bike business".

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bicycle thieves

This weekend, I'm looking forward to discovering the celebrated Vélib phenomenon: the free bikes of Paris. It's funny to think that I used to belong to the audacious minority who rode bikes through the dangerous streets of Paris back in the '70s.

Paris has always abounded in bicycle thieves, and the police have a hard job tracking them down and apprehending them.

I've just heard that, during the time since the Vélib system was set up, in July 2007, some 700 bikes have been stolen, and that many offenders have been blacklisted.

In France, a prestigious organization called the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés [CNIL: National Committee for Computing and Liberty] makes sure constantly that the rights of French citizens are not being attacked or eroded, maybe surreptitiously, through the use of computers. The existence of this committee reflects an excellent French republican idea, and it appears to be effectively operational. For example, I was rather excited about the idea of seeing my name in the Journal Officiel, last month, when I was naturalized. But a polite note appeared on my computer screen stating that the CNIL did not authorize the explicit display of the identity of new citizens. Great stuff, I won't complain about that.

On the other hand, the CNIL has authorized Parisian authorities, not surprisingly, to computerize its blacklist of bicycle thieves, so that the police will find it easier to track them down. Once again, great stuff!

In his tongue-in-cheek Plaidoyer pour un génocide [Plea for a Genocide], my writer friend Jean Sendy [who died back in 1978] surprised us with the following affirmations:

Tout logicien sait qu'un crime parfait est très difficile à réussir, très long à préparer ; un criminel assez intelligent pour ne pas se faire prendre ne met donc pas la société en péril : au pire, il ne recommencera pas de sitôt ; au mieux il sera assez intelligent pour comprendre que ce n'est pas rentable et ne jamais recommencer. En bonne logique, les petits voleurs, les voleurs de bicyclette, doivent au contraire être éliminés aussitôt le délit établi : la médiocrité de leur entreprise les contraint à récidiver sans cesse, et prouve qu'ils sont trop bêtes pour être utiles à la société ; au mieux, on ne peut que les empêcher de nuire, en leur assurant vivre et couvert dans des prisons ruineuses pour le budget. Le seul défaut de ce raisonnement est son indifférence à la morale.

For readers whose French does not allow them to understand Jean Sendy: He says that great criminals don't really hurt society, whereas mediocre bicycle thieves, who annoy us constantly, should maybe be executed immediately... were it not for our moral qualms. Sendy was both a brilliant thinker and a good writer. A great friend, too. I think of him constantly, like Pierre Schaeffer and Albert Richard. Those three men, my cultural forebears, made me wish to become French.