Instead of a helmet law for adults…

why not enforce the laws that lead to cyclists getting hurt? Every day I see cars blow through red lights, speed out of driveways, NOT stop while turning right on red. The cops can’t even successfully enforce the hands-free cell phone law in this state.

So make the roads safer for everyone. Enforce the existing laws on the operators of these 1 and 2 ton vehicles and we all might experience a safer commute. But it won’t happen. Almost everyone drives so they feel sorry for the inconvenienced drivers. Even red light and speed cameras are somehow seen as a violation of the rights of drivers to get where they want unencumbered by basic safety requirements.

Please make it stop. Enforce the laws.

Things I like about robot cars

google self-driving car

There has been a lot of press about self-driving cars, and as they come closer to public availability I find that people generally fall into 2 camps; either they are enthusiastic and think they will be a great time (and even money) saver or they are skeptical and can’t imagine an autonomous vehicle being as safe as a human-driven car. There is a small third group that likes driving, doesn’t like to give up control, and imagines they won’t get to places as fast as the law-abiding robots. That’s hard to imagine in many of our traffic-choked cities where commute speeds average something like 12 mph, but I digress.

With approximately 1 death per hour in California due to cars, it’s hard to fathom just how computers could do worse, especially considering that so many deaths and injuries are due to inattention, distraction and DUI’s – failings which computers generally aren’t vulnerable to.

Having been around machine control and automation all my working life, I understand the challenges but also know that the control systems and sensor technology are more than capable of providing greater levels of convenience and safety than we expect today. And particularly, the greatest beneficiaries will be the pedestrians, cyclists and other road users who aren’t protected by the cocoon of a modern car with airbags, crumple zones and the like. This video from Google shows some of the strides they have made to operate safely around pedestrians and cyclists – check this out Self-driving cars on city streets.

So I look forward to the day we see these vehicles on the road and following are some of my primary reasons. Please let me know if you have others to add to this list.

Why I like robot cars:

  • Unlike humans, they CAN multi-task
  • Kids won’t have to run in fear when my Mom goes out
  • They WILL come to a full stop at stop signs, probably even for right turn on red
  • They will always use their turn signals
  • My Dad won’t have to yell ‘SLOW DOWN’ when they go down our street
  • They won’t get DUI’s but you can still ride in one when you’re wasted
  • They won’t participate in Sideshows
  • When I’m biking I’ll be safer than with human drivers
  • I can have one come pick me up at work if I’m too lazy to ride my bike home.
  • No more arguments with my wife about who has to drive
  • We can both sleep on those long drives

Definitions for Cyclists

Lycra: Material used for bike clothing that let’s everyone know how your training program is progressing.

Bike Lane: Shoulder of the road usually demarcated by a white line where you will find glass, sand, leaves, garbage cans, parked cars, dumpsters, road work signs, abandoned shopping carts, delivery trucks, taxis and more. Sometimes there is room for a bike.

Stop light: traffic signals that are placed at regular intervals on the road to allow drivers to pause and complete the email they started at 40 mph.

Bike lock: a security device that prevents theft only for bikes nobody wants anyway.

Helmet: A safety device intended to make drivers more comfortable when they cut you off in traffic.

Race: An opportunity to pay for a ride you wouldn’t do for free while riding with people you shouldn’t pay to ride with.

Century ride: See ‘Race’ then add many more people and food stops every 15 miles.

Standard: A specification for components on a bicycle that allows interchangeability amongst manufacturers. Often updated, improved and obsoleted all in the same year rendering much of your gear useless. The only ‘standard’ that remains in common use 40+ years after I started playing with bikes is the pedal thread.

Bike path: A path separated from car traffic where runners, skaters, child walkers, dog walkers, jogglers and the like can complain that bikes go too fast.

Cycle apparel: Take regular clothing and multiply the price by 2X. 3X for brands with vaguely European-sounding names.

Ibis 928 Wheelset Review

Picture from:

I was lucky enough to pick up a ‘gently used’ Ibis 928 carbon wheelset a few weeks ago from a friend upgrading to the 941 with the wider rim. So I thought it was time for a review.
I’ve been a 29er rider for over 7 years now and, like others, realized that wheel quality has a much bigger impact on 29″ bikes than the 26″ bike I came from. With more rotating weight there is a trade-off between stiffness and weight that is critical to 29er riding bliss. I’ve literally gone from ‘hate it’ to ‘love it’ on a 29er because of rim choice.

Early 29ers had wheels that were just too heavy. Fortunately, Stan’s came out with good tubeless-capable aluminum rims that got the right balance between weight and stiffness. The 355 rim and, with even better lateral stiffness, the Arch rim were key to my early 29er enjoyment.

Like a lot of riders I didn’t really appreciate what ‘stiffness’ meant until I was able to compare different products. My first significant experience with this was trading off between a high-end Aluminum full suspension bike and a Carbon frame bike. The carbon frame bike simply went where I pointed it. The lack or lateral flex meant that front and rear wheels tracked more in a line and I only steered with the front wheel and not the frame.

Sold on Carbon for frames, I jumped when I had the chance to buy the Ibis wheelset for $650 where it would be $1300 new. When you’re paying more for wheels than most people pay for a bike you really don’t want them to disappoint and they didn’t. In fact they were actually better than I imagined.

If your looking for just weight savings the wheels are not all that impressive. I went from the stock Stan’s Arch wheelset to the stock Ibis wheelset and knocked just 170 grams off the bike weight which amounted to an equal front/rear split. Basically the weight reduction for each wheel amounted to an 85 gram savings at the rim exactly as the Stan’s and Ibis specs indicated. Of course rotating weight savings are the holy grail of weight reduction so saving weight at the rim is a big deal.

Where I was even more excited was the ride performance. My first ride was a race-paced 30 mile loop at Fort Ord where most of the trails are fast and flowy with the occasional deeply rutted section – perfect terrain for my Flash29 hardtail. Just a few yards into the ride the bike felt lively and responsive and I felt great pushing it hard and leaving my buddy behind on the first moderate climb. I knew my speed at this point was more about my excitement with the new wheels and I backed off a bit so I could do the full ride. We hit the first twisty descents and I could feel the bike holding it’s line through the turns and when I hit my first deep ruts in the turns I noticed that I didn’t have to fight the front wheel as much to keep things pointed the right way. All-in-all the wheels made me more confident at speed and I was stoked I could actually feel the improvement.

I hope to try the wider 41mm rims sometime soon to see if the promised extra traction is as advertised. I expect that will be the case since Ibis delivered on the promises of the 928’s

Annual Performance Review Time

credit office space

I just got my performance review. I’m still trying to figure out if I did OK or if I need to find a new job. Here is the summary section – tell me what I should do.

Jim needs to get out of his silo and work on some cross-functional synergies so we have alignment on the world-class operating rhythm around the white space opportunities that out disruptive technology allows. That is – if you accept the key learnings from out recent buzz session about our architectural entitlement that we benchmarked vis-a-vis the voice of the customer analysis that should give us a significant force multiplier if we can connect the dots and get to the end state we see in the adjacent markets. If Jim can focus on his core competence and particularly on projects in his wheelhouse he will likely achieve escape velocity in his career as I believe he has demonstrated full-spectrum leadership abilities.