“The good , bad the ugly…and the future”

The good is I am working on my 300th ANT bicycle. This is Mike G’s Rohloff 26″ wheel uber bike. Sorry I do not have any pictures of it for the post as I am still working on it. I am also working on #299 [Charley S] that is also a Rohloff 26″ wheel super bike! Pictures coming soon:) I am happy to have made it to 300 and look forward to making more bikes. When I was at Fat City we made about 1600 to 1850 frames a year and at Indy Fab we made about 700 to 1000 a year; however it is much more satisfying to build complete bicycles all the way through…not to mention making bikes for commuting.

The weather has been so unseasonably cold. It was 45F the last two mornings and I have been wearing pants, fleece and a vest. I still see road cyclist in the morning in shorts and a SS jersey…so I guess I still have some Texan in me, even though I have lived here for 19 years. The last two Sundays Betsy and I have gone on 50 mile road rides searching out as many back roads we can find. We are on the hunt for rides from our house that are fun and traffic free…well I mean less traffic. We found some great roads and bumped into one of my customers Steve M. [he was on a nice looking old Eddy Merckx] I may change up the ride for the next Open House on  Oct 18th.

 

The Bad. I have been thinking of writing to the reporters that did the NPR story on bicycle commuting. Even though the press was great, as far as numbers go [most hits ever] however I feel that I always have to grit my teeth and smile, just to get tossed a bone of national exposure. Any press is good…even bad press, but everytime I get some non-cycling media person the story is always portrayed as negative….expensive, painful, just not feasable etc…Take a look at this article in the Globe I find it interesting that both this writer and the one for NPR finished by saying that they will not commute by bicycle, because they work at home! Now there are some good stories out there too like this one also in the Globe 

The Ugly. Speed kills. I am really getting worked up about the speed of the drivers I deal with, the lack of consideration, the ugliness of it all. It just gets faster and faster. I see cars and trucks getting out of control many times a day. The roads I ride on are skinny, winding and no shoulders…while it would be nice to have at least one foot of a shoulder or having the brush cut out of the way…I could settle for just drivers driving the speed limit. The speeds are posted at 20, 25, 30…35, but most go about 40 to 55mph. Even with the tight roads there really is enough room for two cars to pass at the same time as overtaking a cyclist [I would prefer that they wait it out for 3 seconds]. It is just the speed that they drive that is the problem, swerving way out of the way at full speed and then swerving back into their lane…if they have a head on collision…it of course is the cyclist fault for being there.

Now I am not giving up by any means, however I find that I do not want my kids riding on the road. We have and do ride on the road, but we often seek out the safest route, ride on sidewalks [which we are not supposed to do]…and drive to rail trails. For myself I have become very cautious. I ride with my ears, I let traffic go by in the tight spots, I use my lights during the day, I use a helmet mirror [really useful] and sometimes I wear one of those safety vest. The funny thing is it was safer in the city [I am in a semi rural/car commuter area now].

Lastly I would like to ask everyone to support your local and national bicycle advocacy groups.

MASSBIKE [or what ever state or city you are in], LAB Rails to trails, I am sure there are many others, but I do not have the time today to look for them. I may in the near future to begin a drive for this type of support for our own cause….Cycling for Transportation! So often I am asked to give money to non-cycling efforts that use the bicycle as a reason to lend support [disease rides etc…]. This one  kills me….using the generosity of the cycling community to raise money for kids in Boston proper that do not have computers? All of these disease rides and such are all good causes and need all the help they can get, but what about using the bicycle to raise money for…the bicycle!

About antbikemike

Bicycle frame builder
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8 Responses to “The good , bad the ugly…and the future”

  1. antbikemike says:

    Right after I posted this I received my annual email from Hub on Wheels urging me to take part! Every year they also send me about 3 or 4 info packets [seperate mailings] along with cardboard holders [as if I were retail business]. This tells me that they do not control there spending very well and have no idea of their waste. I should write to the organizer and let them know about this.

  2. Dario D. says:

    Congratulations, Mike, on no. 300 and to Mike G, too!

    I think that you’re spot on, Mike, with your various observations. I’m a cyclist and a motorcyclist (Ducati 748) who lives and rides in Hartford and surroundings and I have never been too afraid to go most anyplace. Perhaps it is age, but also certainly the perception that many car drivers are more reckless than ever, that I’m motorcycling a lot less and I find myself seeking alternate (bi)cycling routes on neighborhood roads in the city rather than using the quicker, shorter, main arteries to get from point A to B. And, yes, a friend and I drove to the “rails to trails” greenway in Farmington, CT. on Sunday and had a great ride.

    About the NPR piece and press for commuting (especially ANT bikes), the best press is the product itself. Several people on Sunday asked me about my ANT bike and I was delighted to tell them to go to your website.

    Best to all,

    dario

  3. Ken says:

    I hear you Mike. Even your average new Toyota or Honda accelerates and corners much quicker than cars ever did when we were kids.

    Where I live in the southeast, my pet peeve is pickup trucks. Everyone has to have one it seems. These beasts have horsepower to spare (to carry heavy loads) but people feel compelled to use all of it on the road while carrying nothing but themselves. All this speeding makes it hard to react to a cyclist on the road, and that scares me. Maybe I too am getting old, or just have a better sense of my mortality than I did at 20 years old.

    I always love to see the pics of what you’ve built, and admire the philosophy and sense of design behind your bikes.

  4. bob phillips says:

    yeah mike, i was out last sunday in your neck of the woods and it’s beautiful ridin’ out there (a great stretch o pavement with almost no trafic is stow road between harvard and stow–windy, good surface, scenic, and barely any traffic on sundays), but boston’s safer weirdly enough! weird but true. cars are coffins. i want gas prices to go back up. way back up. this morning i got bitched at by a girl in a prius. i always think that’s funny when a prius driver gets mad at bikes. but then again, a prius is a car.

    congratulation on 300 ants!!

  5. bob phillips says:

    just read your link to the globe article. i try and not be negative, but sometimes folks get me down with their laziness and defeatist attitudes. even if i felt that way, i’d never say. the guy sounded like a pussy. thing about bikes and cyclin’ for me is, i think i’d do it even if it polluted. i feel for folks who don’t know how fun and healthy it is. and plus, you can eat and drink all the beer ya want and not get fat if you ride everyday!!

  6. antbikemike says:

    After making this post I deciced to wear my reflective vest on my commute home [yes I ride home in the dark even in the summer]. I had a women pull up to me and thank me for having it on, she said it really helps her see me. Usually when some one pulls up with their window down I turn away, because I have been hit before, so it was a suprise to get a heads up..I told her thanks! made my night.

  7. Steven M. says:

    Just to be clear, when Mike says I “was on a nice looking old Eddy Merckx”, he meant a bicycle, not Fast Eddy himself. Eddy and I are just good friends, I tell you …

  8. Rik A. says:

    Hi Mike, Love your blog, adore your bicycles (saving up for one, in fact). The NPR thing was good, and I can understand how the silly comments made on the NPR web site would be disheartening. Bikes just aren’t used much for transportation here, so people don’t get it. They are thought of as either kids toys or exercise machines, so the idea of riding to work is so crazy foreign. Speaking of foreign — I was in Finland a couple of weeks ago and I was gobsmacked by the amazing grade-separated bike paths they have alongside their highways… for bikes! They have their own signage and signals and everything, and are completely separate from the roads. Wish I’d taken some pics. Anyway, congrats on #300!

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