Mike Kueber's Blog

June 11, 2015

Bicyclists and stop signs

Filed under: Fitness — Mike Kueber @ 5:36 pm
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A popular poster circulating on Facebook reports, “Cops pull over and ticket 26 bicyclists at once for running a stop sign.”  Readers are encouraged to share if they agree with the cops.  I responded:

  • “I think we should all put bicyclists on a pedestal and appreciate them. We should treat them just like a deer because they are a pleasant and enjoyable sight that we want to encourage more of.”

Doing some additional research, I learned the following from the Prairie Village (KS) post:

  • “Police pulled over a total of 26 bicyclists Thursday around 7:30 p.m. after the group rode through the intersection of 69th Street and Oxford Road without stopping at a stop sign.  Thursdays are a popular evening for group bike rides in northeast Johnson County, with the ‘Prairie Village Yacht Club’ having met each week in the parking lot outside the Blue Moose Bar & Grill for years. Police Captain Wes Lovett said the department had received a prior complaint about riders’ behavior in the area, which appears to be the motivation behind last night’s intervention.”

I suspect the police in Prairie Village have nothing better to do.

July 10, 2010

Bicycling potpourri

Filed under: Fitness,Investing,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 4:05 am
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My mind has been on cycling lately.  The Tour de France probably has something to do with that.  Plus, spending an hour a day in the saddle is probably conducive to that, too.  My dad probably felt the same way when he was in the saddle on a horse when he was young and later when he spent his days on a tractor.  Among my biking thoughts are the following three: 

Flat stages in the Tour de France.  As a biking aficionado, I have enjoyed watching the Tour de France every morning for the past week.  But the event could be significantly improved if the organizers did something to make the flat stages less predictable.  Flat stages comprise about half of the 21 stages in the Tour, and they play almost no role in determining the winner of the Tour.  Instead flat stages are the days when the serious contenders usually coast anonymously in the peloton while a few undistinguished riders are allowed to breakaway from the peloton only to be caught shortly before the finish so that a few sprinters can sprint to the finish.  The only uncertainty in a flat stage is wondering whether the breakaway riders will be caught (I believe they are is caught more than 80% of the time) and which of the sprinters will win. 

In my opinion, there is no reason that all of the sprinters should be around at the finish.  In other racing events, the non-sprinters would try to push the peloton so hard that the sprinters would be left behind.  Inexplicably, this doesn’t happen in the Tour.  The peloton doesn’t allow the breakaway group to breakaway if it contains any serious contenders.  So why doesn’t a contender join the breakaway and force the peloton to follow him.  That would drain the energy from the sprinters and cause a real race by the contenders in each stage instead of giving them a bunch of days off while they rest up for the mountainous stages.

Harnessing the power of gyms.  This past winter, I would ride a stationary bike at Lifetime Fitness for an hour each day.  Although this was not as boring as you might think (I had a choice of an MP3 player or a TV with a dozen channels to distract me), my mind would sometimes wander.  One day my mind wandered into wondering whether anyone had tried to harness the energy that I was spending each day spinning that stationary wheel.  After a bit of cogitating I concluded that harnessing that energy would be much less cost-efficient than harvesting wind energy, which itself was only marginally feasible. 

Turns out that my cogitating was pretty accurate.  There was an article in the Texas Tribune today that reported on a pilot program at two Texas colleges (and about a dozen out-of-state colleges) to harness the energy expended by students in a gym on some elliptical machines.  See http://www.texastribune.org/texas-energy/energy/texas-universities-harness-human-power/.  According to the article, preliminary results indicate that the power-cost savings may not justify the cost to retrofit the gym equipment, but the sponsors are rationalizing that the program does teach students to be greener – “They think it’s neat, cool and progressive.”

The business sponsor of the project is a Florida company called ReRev, and its website (http://rerev.com/default.html) indicates that a 30-minute workout produces 50 watt-hours of electricity.  That amount of energy could power a CFL bulb for about two and a half hours, a laptop for about one hour, or a desktop computer for 30 minutes.  That’s not a lot of power, but perhaps future improvements will make this process (just like wind energy) a feasible energy source. 

Although I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of ReRev, I question whether its partners should have been for-profit gyms instead of not-for-profit public universities.         

Dying to cycle.  I am fortunate to have a 20-mile bike route beginning and ending at my apartment doorsteps.  Although the route provides an excellent training ride in a relatively rural, hilly area, I am continually passed by vehicles traveling only a few feet from me.  A few months ago, a couple were killed on my route by a distracted motorist who drove over them on the road’s shoulder.  That is a risk that I have to accept if I want to ride.  I have an exercising-fanatic friend at my apartment complex who would love to ride a bike, but he doesn’t because he thinks it is too dangerous.  That’s too bad. 

Unfortunately, I can’t imagine a time when San Antonio will be able to afford separate roads for bikes and cars, but I can dream.