Friday, December 8, 2017

Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While)Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream by Phil Gaimon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I have read Gaimon's two previous books and liked them reasonably well, so when I saw that he had another book coming out I was eager to read it. It focuses on his most successful year as a WorldTour rider with Garmin-Sharp in 2014, then his "remedial" year as a Continental level rider with Optum, followed by a less successful year with Cannondale (which was a successor WorldTour team to Garmin-Sharp).

The books successfully combines an interesting narrative presentation of what it is like to be on a WorldTour team with contemplation of several "what is the point of this?" type questions or considerations. At least for me, neither of these threads got in the way of the other.

Gaimon has a brisk style that I find easy and pleasant to read - I got through this in only a few days, which for me these days is highly unusual. (That alone is why it must be a five star read.) Gaimon's humor can veer into the juvenile, but my impression is that there is less of that in this book than the previous two books. One senses it was part of his identity as a professional bicycle racer, so it belongs.

One aspect of modern bicycle road racing is that we are in the post-Lance Armstong era - doping reached something like a pinnacle of technical success, then came crashing down. Gaimon, who has a tattoo that reads "clean" on his arm, was a professional road racer who established his career just when many sponsors were withdrawing support in reaction to the doping scandals. Most of the best known riders for some time however were all former dopers and one of the questions this book raises (but does not answer) is what the appropriate position is for a clean rider towards these former dopers. He does, however, describe many interactions between the two kinds of riders.

Gaimon occasionally makes comments about individuals that are not, let's say, particularly positive. That is, some of these people are almost certainly unhappy with him. The range of these comments varies considerably in tone and approach. For example, it becomes clear he has no use for the Schleck brothers, who are both (apparently) assumed to have enjoyed success largely through doping, mostly be descriptions of exchanges with them where other riders told them in one or another way to get lost. He is far more direct in his criticism of his former tour director, Jonathan Vaughters, and a few others.

One subject that surprised me in its absence is that while Gaimon had the difficulties of the contraction of support for professional cycling to contend with in the post-doping era, he says nothing about being an American professional bicycle racer in Europe as such. By the time he arrives to WorldTour cycling that mostly plays out in Europe that previously would have been mostly European riders, the challenge of success presented simply be being an American has been overcome, it seems.

One interesting aspect is that Gaimon's success with social media and skills at public relations ended up being perhaps his strongest contribution to a WorldTour team - which he realized was not what really what he was in it for. Now, however, as a "retired" racer, social media is fine and he is all about public relations, mostly it would appear on behalf of himself. http://philthethrill.net/ is the starting point for current information about "PhilTheThrill."

What will he write about next??

View my other book reviews.

Overman Wheel Co. Victor Bicycle Lithograph

Victor bicycles, Overman Wheel Company, Boston, New York, ...
Three women on bicycles

Will H Bradley was the American illustrator who did this, which was to be included in an issue of Harper's Magazine. Published in 1895, this is just before the height of the "bicycle craze" of the 1890s.

This is an for the Overman Wheel Company and their Victor bicycles.

www.loc.gov/item/2002721219/

Title-Victor bicycles, Overman Wheel Company, Boston, New York, ... / Will H. Bradley
Summary-Three women on bicycles.
Created / Published-1895.
Notes
- Lithograph printed by Harper & Brothers, New York.
- Reverse: cover by M. Parrish for Harper's Weekly, Christmas, 1895 [can't see since encapsulated with backing sheet].
- Promotional goal: US. D41. 1895; US. K22. 1895.
- This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.
Medium-1 print (poster) : color.
Call Number/Physical Location-POS - US .B732, no. 25 (B size) [P&P]
Repository-Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA>
Digital Id-cph 3b49660 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b49660; cph 3a17246 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a17246; cph 3a29202 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a29202
Library of Congress Control Number-2002721219
Online Format-image
Description-1 print (poster) : color. | Three women on bicycles.
LCCN Permalink-lccn.loc.gov/2002721219

Victor Bicycles Poster,1896
This poster, also be Bradley for Overman, is probably better known.
Title: Victor Bicycles Overman Wheel Co. / / Bradley.
Creator(s): Bradley, Will, 1868-1962, artist
Date Created/Published: Boston : Forbes Co., [1896]
Medium: 1 print (poster) : lithograph, color.
Summary: Poster advertisement for Overman Wheel Company's Victor bicycles, showing a woman watching another woman riding a bicycle. Includes art nouveau style flowers.

OOPS! I eventually realized that I blogged separately about these two different items some years ago. Here, however I consolidated the information. And expanded it, slightly. Oh well!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Eiffel (Tower) Tandem Bike

Eiffel Tower Bike
Eiffel Tower tandem bicycle of 1896

New York Journal, December 20, 1896 - human interest article (of a sort) in the New York Journal newspaper during the "bicycle craze" of the 1890s.
RECONNOITRING TANDEM
The Newest Thing in Cycles Is Twenty Feet from Mother Earth.

Probably the most grotesque production in the cycling line is the Eiffel tower tandem. Der Stein der Weiser shows an illustration of this curiosity. It is a strongly constructed bicycle, supporting a pyramid shaped frame of hollow tubing twenty feet high. On top of this frame is a saddle with handle bars and treadles, the motion of which is transmitted by chains to the corresponding lower parts of the bicycle.

The chief difficulty with which the riders have to contend is to keep the machine balanced, as will be easily understood from a glance at the illustration, but it must also be very difficult for the upper rider to reach his seat, which cannot be a very safe one.
The illustration has "Sci.Am.NY" below it, which is probably giving credit to Scientific American where an article with this illustration may have appeared, although the text mentions a German publication (but seems to misspell the title?). The New York Journal newspaper of the 1890s was a relatively large newspaper in terms of pages and they filled it up with a wide variety of stories on various topics taken from other sources, the then-equivalent of click-bait. How (or if) these other publications were compensated for this re-use is not clear.

Riding high . . .
The do-it-yourself somewhat lesser modern version of this sort of thing

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving and Bicycle Repairs (1897)

1897 Thanksgiving-Bicycle Comment
New York journal and advertiser, November 21, 1897

This is at the end of the 1890s "bicycle craze" in the United States and offers a sense that bicycles required paid upkeep. This appeared on a page of what were apparently intended to be humorous Thanksgiving anecdotes.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Urban Cycling (Book Review)

Urban CyclingUrban Cycling by Laurent Belando

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The sub-title is "From the BMX to the Fixie" - it is something of a historical review of what could be called hipster or urban cycling.

There is some text but it is mostly the photography that draws you in. I got a used copy (from Powells online) for nine dollars and for that this is fun to have to page through occasionally. This is from a British publisher with some U.S. distribution, but it isn't the sort of thing a public library will have and anyway, I like to have a certain number of books heavy on photographs around the house, that I own. The book was originally published in France (in French) by a different publisher in 2015; this version was published in 2016. Most of the book is organized into "bike types" and "bike disciplines" (activities) with some "how to" type information at the end. They could have left the "how to" stuff out, which is mostly too brief to be useful.

View my other cycling book reviews.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Generic Bikes of 1942

Pocatello, Idaho. Bicycle racks (1942)
Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information photo of women and bicycles in 1942

Title-Pocatello, Idaho. Bicycle racks
Contributor Names-Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer
Created / Published-1942 July.
Subject Headings
- United States--Idaho--Bannock County--Pocatello.
- Idaho--Bannock County--Pocatello
Format Headings-Nitrate negatives.
Notes
- Title and other information from caption card.
- Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944.
- More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.fsaowi
- Film copy on SIS roll 16, frame 296.
Medium-1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller.
Call Number/Physical Location-LC-USF34- 073822-E [P&P]
Source Collection-Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
Repository-Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Digital Id-fsa 8c32556 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8c32556
Control Number-fsa2000050764/PP
Reproduction Number-LC-USF34-073822-E (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-DIG-fsa-8c32556 (digital file from original neg.)
Rights Advisory-No known restrictions. For information, see U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black & White Photographs http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/071_fsab.html
Online Format-image
Description-1 negative : nitrate ; 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches or smaller.

This comes from a large collection of materials best known for the "Migrant Mother" photograph by Dorothea Lange, taken in 1936. Here is general information about this collection. There are about 100 other depression-era and World War II era photographs in this collection.

In most of these photos from the 30s and 40s, the bikes are not particularly interesting, reflecting I think the poor status of bicycles as a means of transportation at the time. In most of these photos the bicycles are being ridden by adults for whom a bicycle was a poor second to motorized transportation (that is, a car). The main focus of bicycle marketing at the time, such as it was, was on children, although during WWII that was not active to save on the materials required.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Wildlife on Urban Cycling Travels

Hawk (?) or Falcon on Four Mile Run
Falcon - or Hawk? - on trail along Four Mile Run in Arlington VA

Saw this today - remarkable how much wildlife I see along streams on trails around here. This was no more than 100 yards (meters) from the 395 interstate highway going into Washington DC. And I saw a rather large fox while walking our dog this morning!