Operation Feed the Homeless:Mobile Bicycle Repair Unit

Once a month my family will volunteer in Santa Ana, Ca. to help with Operation Feed the Homeless(OFTH). Typically my wife and kids will help by serving food to some of the homeless as well as play with some of the little kids who are also there. This Sunday was no different from our typical time of serving. But the last few times we’ve been out, I had taken some donations that Planet Bike graciously sent me to pass out to the homeless who needed bicycle safety products such as lights, locks and bells. Another time that I went out, I was joined by my friend James Thomas of Serfas. He passed out a suitcase full of lights to those who needed them.

While my family was serving, I busted out my mobile bicycle repair unit. This consisted of a push cart, work stand, grease, lube, tools and truing stand. It may sound funny, but I do feel that God has blessed me with the ability to work with my hands and he’s allowed me to be very good at it. This was my way of giving back to those who are less fortunate. Not only was I able to help people, but I’m working on bikes and that’s one of my favorite things to do.

operation feed the homeless

I serviced all types of bikes that had a variety of problems. Some needed truing, others needed brake and derailleur adjustments while one of the bikes needed a nut to keep the suspension pivot from falling apart.

Here you can see my red cart full of stuff.

One of the bikes I worked on was this lowrider beach cruiser that had a 100+spoke wheel. The owner complained that his front wheel was wobbly. After getting it on the stand, I quickly saw that his axle nuts were extremely loose. I quickly fixed that problem for him and he was very grateful for my services.

For each bike that came to me, I made sure I lubed their chain and checked their brakes. I wish I had a picture of it, but one bike’s drive train was completely rusted out and he complained that it was hard for him to pedal and that his bike was squeaky. After applying some lube, he was a happy man!

I love working on bicycles and its especially rewarding when I can do it for folks who can’t take of their bikes because they either don’t know how or don’t have the money to take it to a shop. I plan on going back next month and some of the folks I did meet are already looking forward to my return. If you are in the Orange County, Ca. area next month and would like to join me in providing this service to the community, feel free to leave a comment and we can set up a time and date to do so.

Transportation Secretary LaHood out; Charlotte’s Foxx to replace him?

Things have been buzzing in transportation circles the past few days…U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced he would be stepping down from his post, and the Obama Administration will nominate Charlotte, North Carolina’s mayor Anthony Foxx to replace him:

Anthony Foxx, the fast-rising young mayor of Charlotte, N.C., will fill one of the last remaining slots in President Barack Obama’s second-term Cabinet when the president taps him to replace Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, an administration official confirmed to POLITICO on Sunday.

Obama will announce Foxx’s nomination on Monday, a day before the mayor’s 42nd birthday, the official said. The news followed months of rumors that the mayor would win out over potential rivals including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Debbie Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Read more by visiting the following page: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/anthony-foxx-transportation-secretary-90722.html#ixzz2RoZmRjMo

Despite some early criticism and skepticism, Ray LaHood did pretty well as Transportation Secretary — all in all, he was quite friendly to the pro-bike movement here and recently headlined a Bicycle Summit in Tampa, Florida, with another summit scheduled for Minneapolis tomorrow, the day of the announcement of Foxx’s nomination to the Cabinet post.

Charlotte has made a good bit of progress as a bike-friendly city, making the League of American Bicyclists’ “bronze” rating in 2012 under Foxx’s stewardship. Let’s hope he continues his work on a national level!

Book Review: “Half Man, Half Bike” by William Fotheringham

The Spring Classics are over, and we’re getting close to the Grand Tour season in pro cycling…in this era of “specialists” who train for particular races, what better time than to present a review of a book about a man who could (and just about DID) win everything he entered — stage races, track events, one-day classics, kermises?

As many of you know, I’m a fan of the professional racing scene…and have been since the early 80s, when I dabbled in some racing of my own. Anyone who knows anything about professional cycling knows the name Eddy Merckx — a true legend in pro circles. Merckx’s many records may never be eclipsed and the utter dominance he displayed in his racing career is the stuff of dreams for most other pros.

When our friend Jen at the Independent Publishers Group offered to send me a copy of William Fotheringham’s Half Man, Half Bike: The Life of Eddy Merckx, Cycling’s Greatest Champion (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2012), I eagerly accepted! This is the second Fotheringham book we’ve reviewed, the first being Cyclopedia: It’s All About the Bike, and the third of his books I’ve read (his biography of Fausto Coppi is fantastic).


Let me just get this out of the way right up front: Fotheringham delivers once again! It is fair to say that he is my favorite cycling author…his combination of painstaking research and his ability to capture some very intimate human elements of his subjects makes his books a joy to read. As you might imagine, there are many dozens of books written about Merckx’s exploits during his racing career. Fotheringham thoughtfully distills much of this information into an easy-to-read and gripping tale.

As much as I love the post-war exploits of Coppi, Bartali and others, Merckx’s years in the peloton are my favorite “golden age” — when he and Van Springel, Anquetil, Gimondi, Godefroot, Ocana, Fuentes, de Vlaeminck, Sercu, Van Looy and many other notables duked it out on the roads and circuits throughout Europe.

Half Man, Half Bike begins as World War II is winding down and as Edouard Merckx is born in war-ravaged Kiezegem, Belgium. The author illustrates the difficult childhood Eddy had — including a stern, somewhat tyrannical father and a gentle mother who didn’t initially appreciate her son’s interest in racing. Merckx began his junior career in 1961, and found success quickly; his mother reluctantly agreeing to let him race rather than finishing his schooling. After winning the Belgian junior champion’s jersey in 1962, it wasn’t long before he made the jump to the pro ranks. And the rest, as they say, is history — with nearly 500 wins as a professional, including five wins each of the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, dozens of spring classics, and three World Roadracing Championships, his career was unparalled.

Fotheringham paints a vivid picture of Merckx’s quick rise to glory. He describes many of Merckx’s innermost thoughts about why he raced the way he did…the catalysts that drove him to dominate his rivals. The entire book is riveting — while I’ve heard many of the stories of Merckx’s wins on fabled Tour stages, the details Fotheringham presents truly capture the essence of the tactics, mindset and spirit of this champion. The author caught up with Merckx in the 90s and describes his post-racing business ventures and activities, but points out that:

What Merckx has given the sport can be seen in the way bike racing on the road has been perceived since his retirement. La course en tête as Merckx forged it remains the benchmark for the entire sport. The way he raced is the gold standard to which all professional cyclists and all their victories are compared.

If you like racing even half as much as I do, I cannot recommend this book enough. You’ll have a hard time putting it down. It’s readily available on the major online book retailers…so what are you waiting for?


I missed a chance to meet Eddy Merckx at Interbike 2010. I got wrapped up talking to one of our advertisers and missed the “window of opportunity”. Luckily, my pal Moe had me covered — braving a long line to get me an autograph (being signed in the photo below):


High school science students, Obama, and a bike-powered invention

Here’s a cool news article that one of our readers pointed out to us. A group of Florida high-school students developed a bicycle-powered water purification system, entered it into the White House Science Fair, and got President Barack Obama to give it a spin:

What started out as a science assignment turned into a political science lesson on Monday, as two Northeast High students got President Barack Obama to try out their bicycle-powered invention.

Obama “test drove” the project, created by about 30 students at the Oakland Park school to help provide clean water to developing nations after a natural disaster. It was one of 30 projects on display at the White House Science Fair.

Senior Kionna Elliot, 18, and junior Payton Kaar, 16, showed off the contraption to scientists, journalists and White House officials. A photo of Obama on the bicycle was picked up by media nationwide and has become one of the most popular images from the science fair.

Read the full article by visiting its page on the Orlando Sentinel website, and take a look at this video:

I LOVE bicycle-powered inventions, and I love high school science fairs (having helped judge a couple in a previous career). These kids not only came up with something useful and smart, but they will also cherish their interaction with the President for years to come.

Any inventors among our readers? We’d love to hear of some bikey-powered schemes you’ve come up with!

New Bicycle-Friendly Businesses, courtesy of the LAB

This showed up in our mailbox yesterday…just in time for Earth Day:

Elizabeth Murphy
Communications Manager
League of American Bicyclists

Businesses Ring in Earth Day with Bicycle Friendly Awards

Texas Instruments joins the more than 500 Bicycle Friendly Businesses

Washington, D.C. – April 22, 2013 — As businesses race to retrofit their buildings, streamline waste policies, and purchase more and more recycling bins, some companies have already targeted a free and easy way to be more environmentally conscious: bicycling.

On this Earth Day, the League of American Bicyclists announced 63 new Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFB) from across the country that are leading America toward a greener future.

The BFB program has now expanded to 44 states and Washington, D.C., and these new awardees join a visionary group of more than 500 local businesses, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies across the United States that are transforming the American workplace.

Click here for the full list of BFB awardees.

“More and more business leaders are realizing that bicycling is a simple and cost-effective way to move toward a more productive company,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “Promoting healthy transportation is increasingly attractive to employers and prospective employees – and it’s moving America toward a more sustainable future.”

Bicycle-friendly businesses encourage a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere for employees and customers alike. Through cost-effective investments, BFBs attract, reward and retain staff that are not only healthier and happier, but more productive, driven and passionate about the work they do and the communities they live in.

Award winners in this round include:

Texas Instruments Inc. (Bronze)
Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Neenah, Wis. (Moved from Silver to Gold)
The World Bank Group (Moved from Bronze to Silver)
Peace Corps, Seattle and Chicago offices (Bronze)

Texas Instruments, a new Bronze-level BFB, worked with its local government to secure funding to build a 35-mile trail that will enable employees to bike to work safely, in addition to widening transportation options for those living in the community. TI also has employee representation on the City of Dallas Bicycle Advisory Committee as it updates the Dallas Bike Plan.

“Texas Instruments sees great value in supporting alternative commuting solutions for employees. We’ve invested resources to build bike paths that connect to local trails, added bike racks, repair stations and onsite showers, and created social networks that support TI bike commuters,” said David Thomas, Vice President of Worldwide Facilities at TI. “We want to make it easy for our existing bike commuters to get to work safely and to encourage more employees to try biking to work. We continually seek new ways to educate, encourage and engage employees in safe bike commuting.”

To apply or learn more about the free BFB program, visit the League online at bikeleague.org/businesses

About the Bicycle Friendly America Program: The Bicycle Friendly America program provides incentives, hands-on assistance, and award recognition for communities, universities and businesses that actively support bicycling, and ranks states annually based on their level of bike-friendliness. Learn more.

About the League: The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of America’s 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. Learn more.

And here is a complete list of the 2013 winners:

2013 Winners:

University of
California, Davis

Catalyst Partners
Mad Dog Cycles
SERA Architects, Inc.

AllEarth Renewables, Inc.
City of Shawnee
Go Bike Buffalo
Greenline Wheels, L3C
Intercity Transit
L.L. Bean Boat Bike Ski
Nelson Nygaard
Consulting Associates –
Nice Ride Minnesota
Nicollet Bike
Patagonia – St. Paul

Animal Bikes
Beaumont Hospital – Royal
Oak Campus
Bike America
Capital Brewery
Central District Health
Champaign Cycle Co.
City of Fort Worth
City of Riverside City
Connecticut Mental Health
CTA Architects Engineers
Dokken Engineering
Equinox Brewing Co.
FFKR Architects
Gear Up Cyclery
Griessmeyer Law
Indiana University Health,
Methodist Hospital
International Relief and
Kaiser Permanente San
KCF Technologies, Inc.
Kimberly-Clark Corp.,
Conway, Ark., site
Memorial Hospital and
Health System
Nelson Nygaard
Consulting Associates:
Boston, New York, San
Francisco and Seattle
Neumann Monson
New Horizon Bikes
PDC Inc. Engineers
Peace Corps, Chicago and
Seattle offices
REI Santa Monica
Reston Association
Riley Hospital, IU Health
Ringdahl Ambulance
Sixteen Street Community
Health Centers
Skagit Valley Food Co-op
Squire Sanders LLP –
St. Luke’s Health System
Steelcase, Inc.
Texas Instruments, Inc.
The Broken Spoke
Treasure Valley Family
YMCA – Boise
Unico Properties
University Hospital, IU
Urban Engineers
YMCA of Greenville