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Rock The Bike

Fourth or Fifth Annual Superbowl AlternaRide

Posted by fossilfool
02/03/2008 – 09:30

Music man Mike's photo from a previous alternaride

I must preface this by saying that I’m from Boston, and I learned from my mother recently that the Patriots were having a record-setting perfect season, and I still have just about zero desire to sit in front of a TV for 4 hours on Superbowl Sunday. If you’re with me on this, then join us for the Superbowl AlternaRide.

This is not a cruise. We’ll be riding hard, on and off-road, from San Francisco’s Civic Center to the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach, Marin County, and back. Rain or Shine.

For the last three or four years (can’t remember) we’ve led the Superbowl Alternaride and have never actually made it to the Pelican. But think about it. Pitchers of cold beer in an English Pub setting, the perfect reward for a hard day’s pedaling. And then we ride back. And so each year we start earlier. And this time, we’re getting serious. We’re starting at 9:30 AM on a Sunday. This is the only way we can possibly get to the Pelican and back and be off the highway 1 climb out of Muir Beach before dark. There will be multiple turn-back options for people who aren’t feeling up to it on the day of the ride. Total mileage will be under 40, but a third of it will be off-road.

Meeting point: Mama Toby’s cafe (On Laguna at Fell) in the Civic Center area.

Bring the gear, food, and water you need to stay warm and happy. I’ll bring some DaBombucha to share.


Planned Obselescence

After seeing The Story of Stuff on a couple of my friends’ gmail status messages, I saw the 20-minute online movie and got motivated to take myself out of the loop of planned obselescence.

Then a week later I made the mistake of putting my iPod in my pocket next to a magnetic toy. The iPod hard drive was dead instantly. The toy was fine.

I thought about replacing the iPod with one of the newer ones. But I’ve had it for almost three years, and it’s never had a problem before that couldn’t be fixed by resetting it. So I decided instead of spending $300 on a new one I’d buy a replacement hard drive for $70 on eBay, and a screen protector.

I followed the excellent video instructions on and fixed the iPod in about 15 minutes. I didn’t have a non-marring pry tool handy so I used a small electronics screwdriver. It left a very small mark on the one side from prying. Then I applied the screen protector, basically a clear sticker, to the ipod screen. I bought it thinking that it would prevent further scratches to the iPod screen — that my screen wouldn’t get any worse than it was. But when I applied the screen protector, the screen instantly took on it’s original glossy look.

None of the scratches accumulated during 3 years of ownership were visible any longer. I have a suspicion that a lot of people throw away electronics simply because they look old. If more people knew about screen protectors, maybe they could save their money for other things, or spend less time working and more time having fun riding bikes.


New Years 2008 Cruising Mix

Download link:


My goal was to take some the music that hit me hardest in 2007 and mix it seemlessly into an hour long cruising mix. The tempo and mood starts kind of chill and cruisy, then gets a bit more headnoddy, and progresses to set-down-your-bikes-and-dance level.

It features a lot of musicians I met or hung out with in 2007:

So play it in Hermosa, play it in Boulder, play it on the Pleasant Revolution, play it in Austin, play it in Rochester, play it in Carrboro, and whereever you are, bike people. Please let me know what you think. Please join or login to post your comments.

Here’s a track listing:

  • Hernan Battiato, track 2, from Viajista
  • DJ Krush, 3rd Eye, from Meiso
  • Sahaja Uprockers, Hear This, from “From The Beginning”
  • Kid Beyond, Wandering Star, from “Amplivate”
  • Roy Ayers, Liquid Love, from “Virgin Ubiquity II”
  • Buju Banton, Wanna Be Loved, Til Shiloh
  • Nightmares on Wax, Date with Destiny, Mind Elevation, Disc 1
  • Dzihan & Kamien, Ocean Air, Freaks & Icons
  • Isaac James and Borinna Mapaka, Track 16, from “Isaac James and Borinna Mapaka”, recorded in Paris
  • Nightmares on Wax, Thinking of Omara, from “Mind Elevation Disc 1.”
  • Next Impressions, thanks DJ Toast
  • Edie Brickell, What I am, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars
  • Black Star, Definition, from “Black Star”
  • Fossil Fool, Fossil Fool Mix Tape, set to Headhunters, Chameleon.
  • Talib Kwali, Reflection Eternal, The Blast
  • Nightmares on Wax, Playtime, A Word of Science
  • Mafiosa Felice, Wayaya, produced by Fossil Fool
  • Hall and Oates, I Can’t Go For That, from “Looking Back”
  • Arrested Development, Give A Man A Fish, from 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life
  • Crown Heights Affair, Dancin’
  • Aretha Frankln, Jump To It, from “Jump To It”
  • Saint Etienne, Kiss and Make Up, from Foxbase Alpha
  • DJ Sergio mashup of Love Sensation by Loletta Holloway
  • Saint Etienne, She’s The One, from Foxbase Alpha
  • New Order, World, from Republic
  • Bob Sinclair, World Hold On, from Western Dreams
  • Eagles, I Can’t Tell You Why
  • Madan Exotic Disco, Cafe Mundo Electro Word Experience
  • JSTARS, Tripping the Light Fantastic, Put Me on a Planet
  • Chicane, Saltwater, from Behind the Sun
  • Isaac James and Borinna Mapaka, Track 8.

If you ride more than 1 mile in a rain shower, your Down Low Glow is likely to dim.

What’s up bike people, I had a great ride home tonight from my friend Leila’s house. I had three tubes of Hot Pants Pink Down Low Glow on my Xtracycle and it was really laying down a beautiful cloud of light on the wet streets. The rain had just started when I turned on the lights. They turned on fast, and stayed superbright till I turned onto York St. a mile later.

That’s when I looked down and saw that the front tube in my dual-tube system was noticeably dimmer than the rear tube, and the single tube system I use on the rear of my xtracycle was about half-bright also. It wasn’t the first time I’d noticed the way rain affects the DLG, but it was the most precise I’ve been able to measure it, and I’m not the only one who’s noticed either.

Eugen from Denmark writes:

“Hej! My name is Eugen and I bought the down low glow a few mounths ago and I have a question. At the beginning both tubes worked fine but now the tube which is placed on the back of the bike doesn´t glow as strong as the big tube. I was wonderring that maybe it had something to do with the temperature or the humidity because the wether in Denmark is rainy. I took the lights off and now both tubes work fine but I was wondering if this problem appears again what I should do??”

So there you have it. I hate to disappoint the hardcore commuters out there, but facts are facts. Your Down Low Glow may not stay superbright after miles and miles of riding on a rainy night. In fact, it will probably fade to about half it’s regular brightness.”

Now that we’re aware of the problem, we’re working on finding a solution. I’ll keep you posted. If you’ve figured out tricks for using the DLG through sustained rain, let me know. Fortunately, the seals on the tubes are doing pretty well these days. We’re having far fewer returns due to condensation than last year, and our sales are higher. So the good news is that your DLG are less likely than ever before to have any lasting damage from the rain. But that doesn’t solve the problem of them not shining as brightly when wet.

One immediate tip I’d recommend to DLG owners is to keep your bike in a dry place whenever possible when you’re not on it. (Or bring the DLG inside with you if you know your bike will get rained on.)

Have welder, will travel: Mike Cobb’s mobile welding rig

ike Cobb came up with a trailer-based mobile welding setup that allows him to bike anywhere in the Portland area, and repair anything from a bicycle frame to, well, a broken spatula.

Mike's mobile welding setup

The setup includes a thick wool sweater, welding hood,  lightweight inverter-based welder, angle grinder, and various other tools. Alas it requires plugging into AC current, but at least it doesn’t require 220-volt current.

He’s learned to weld without a workbench, which requires modifying his technique to use his right elbow to work the amperage contol pedal. He also rolls with a padded cordura nylon ground mat and kneepads.

The welder is protected against rain by a stretch rain cover that hugs the rails of the Blue Sky Cycle Cart. The folding Bike Friday can be packed into the trailer, and hoisted onto an AMTRAK train without a surcharge.

Check out the full web album or contact Mike through Rock the Bike.

Nice performances Fossil Fool & Mafi!

I was entertained at the Revolution Cafe in San Francisco at Bike Culture night by Mafi and Fossil Fool while visiting the bay area for the holidays. The place was jumpin’ with Mafi playin’ the Quatro(spelled right?)and then when Fossil Fool took the Choprical Fish outside to the sidewalk where spontaneous dancing erupted, as well as some mixed drinks from the Bike Blender.

Thanks Fossil!Pics and videos to be posted soon.

Karaoke and Bonfire – One Year Anniversary Ride with the Southbay Cruisers

Posted by Wild Johnny
01/18/2008 – 18:45

Come ready to sing, dance, drum, and bicycle your way through the Southbay. We will meet in our usual place in front of:

The Lighthouse Cafe
30 Pier Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

at Hermosa Pier.

Meet at 6:45PM/Ride at 7:15PM SHARP!

We will be hosting a bonfire/karaoke/drum circle – after the ride at Valley Park In Hermosa Beach. We are in the process of getting a permit to use the park for the night. There is a small fee for us to get a permit to use this park. Therefore we are asking that those attending donate $5 or whatever they can afford to come to this event. If you can’t afford to make a donation you are still welcome to come. This will be our 1st Anniversary Celebration ride-bring acoustic instruments and drums, food to barbecue, ipods for karaoke. Skaters you are welcome to come back and join us too.

See for details.


What are key roles in a pedal powered event?

The following people make a Pedal Powered event possible:


Roadies on the way to Bicycle Music Festival 2010

Roadies are the experienced bikers who know how to secure heavy loads to the cargo bikes and trailers in your fleet. Roadies show up early and go home late. Roadies would never throw a bad innertube away after fixing a flat — they’d save it in the straps drawer for use as a tie-down. Roadies also have experience fixing bikes and can help with breakdowns en route. Roadies make it possible to get to gigs without burning Fossil Fuels. A loose rule of thumb: you’ll need almost as many roadies to get to your event as there are pedalers at the event.

Sound Guy:

The Sound Guy or gal is essential to getting the most out of Pedal Powered Stage gear. Sound guys needs to be social and effective — they’re the ones who interact with the bands to know what their needs are. Two mics and a DI for the bass? Comin’ right up. Sound guys need experience running a mixing board, connecting inputs to a snake, troubleshooting issues with sound. Quick setup times are often essential for a Pedal Powered event and the Sound Guy needs to work quickly and effectively on their own.

Pedal Power Coaches:

The Pedal Power coach goes out into the crowd, and uses their charm and outgoing personality to pull in fresh pedalers. “Come on, it’s easy! Try a song or two.” The Pedal Power Coach pays close attention to the Pedalometer, knowing that Pedalers can get lost in the music. When Pedal Power is in danger of running out, the coach encourages the pedalers to crank out more watts. The Pedal Power coach will raise and lower the saddle of the bike so that the pedaler gets a satisfying, efficient position. When a pedaler begins to wane, the coach thanks them and recruits a new one.


Mic skills come naturally for this crewmember, who is there to focus the energies of the pedalers and performers and turn all the good teamwork into a shared musical moment. The MC remembers names, makes people feel at home, and helps speakers relax if they’re not as experienced using a microphone.

Electrical Wizard:

When you buy Pedal Powered Stage gear from Rock The Bike, most of the technical problems are solved for you. We design our systems so that connectors can only be plugged in the right way. Still, the components have a lifespan, and can be damaged by trips if not properly tied down. The Electrical Wizard has the knack to troubleshoot and isolate unusual behavior, repair problems either in the workshop or in the context of a busy event. If you’re building your own Pedal Powered Stage gear, this role is all the more important.

Photo + Video:

Great for sharing your event with the bike community in other cities. The Photo wing takes it all in and filters, looking for the key images from an event.


Trailer-based bike sound systems

Many people use bike trailers to bring the beat at large group rides like Critical Mass. Trailers make it easy to get started, since you can use a simple box rather than having to engineer a cabinet that surrounds your rear wheel.

But trailer-based systems put the beat much further from your ears, meaning that you have to turn up the volume much louder to feel like you are ‘in the music’. This means you’ll end up using much more powerful amps and speakers, and larger, heavier batteries. All this means that you are much less likely to use a trailer-based party bike for impromptu cruises (with 5-10 friends) and more likely to save it for larger, planned rides.

I love the bike culture touches this fabricator put on his system – the bike wheel and sprockets used as speaker grills. But there’s no escaping the fact that this system, and all trailer systems, look like a bike towing a box.

In my opinion an integrated long-wheelbase party bike, a Soul Cycle, is a much much easier way to create a cosmic ‘craft’.

This was the sound system at the mc3 performance ride

A closer look at Jay Broemmel’s Dragon Bike

Jay Broemmel's Dragon Bike

Jay’s Dragon Bike was a big hit at last night’s Bike Culture Night and will be on tonight’s New Year’s Cruise. Unfortunately Jay was out of town at a race last night, but was cool enough to let me borrow the Dragon. On the way to the event, walking down Valencia with the Dragon, all the eyes were following us from various restaurants and cafes. It made it easy to hand out flyers for the event.

On our way to return the Dragon Bike to Jay’s garage after the event, Mafi and I headed down Lexington St., where this time of year, they have beautiful lights and decorations. We stopped under the disco ball to show off some of the sweet details of Jay’s new Dragon Bike .

Recorded “I am a Fossil Fool” again

I recorded “I am a Fossil Fool” again last night. Only Rock the Bike members can download it — look for the “attachments” link below after you register or log in. My throat was pretty scratchy from the flu, so I’ll have to redo the vocals again soon . But I wanted to get something out on Rock the Bike so you all can play it at your New Year’s Eve rides and parties. I’ll be performing this one live tomorrow at Bike Culture Night. Hope you can make it if you’re local.

Attic music studio

I spent most of the winter break learning Ableton Live and making music in the attic studio. With the flu and the weather recently, I didn’t mind sitting at home with my reference manual on my lap, clicking the mouse a few thousand times while I finally wrapped my head around this amazing software.

Jay Broemmel takes director’s seat for bike culture remake of Road Warrior.

In Choad Warrior, post-apocalyptic leather clad warriors ride bicycles and fight for their precious fuel, beer.

I was an extra in the movie, and the main character even uses the microphone of the Choprical Fish in one scene. Here are some of the better shots from the day I participated.

Fresh off the heels of his fabulous Dragon Bike, Jay turns his talents to the screen. If you’re in the Bay Area, Jay’s hosting a James Brown themed Christmas Eve event at the Uptown.

Also check out “Art Bikes are Meant to Be Ridden.”