Aug 22

Writing around pictures just takes up space

I pass this on my bike commute. It’s an important bit of work, and it could ruin a bike ride. I only ever notice it going the one direction, though, which only seems problematic in retrospect.

Also, this is quality workmanship. Quality workmanship that is apparently never going to be completed on the “multi use trail.”

You can imagine the supervisor, thinking about all the rest of the jobs on his clipboard for the week, taking a quick glance and thinking “They can just move over, if they notice at all.”

The new guy said, “But, boss, what about the satisfaction of a job well do — ”

The rock shoveler cuts him off. “Not on sidewalks, dude. Or roads, right fellas?”

The guy holding the sign chuckles.

“But — ” says the new guy.

“It’s lunch,” say the three guys standing there watching, in unison.

“And the guy writing this is just writing around his pictures, anyway,” the supervisor said.

And so we have a gravel pit.

I do not think, not for one second, that I could go into that little five foot gravel strip and keep my bicycle upright.

Speaking of work crews. The guys pulling the Poplars Building didn’t do that today.

Construction guys must have some nice Work From Home arrangement. Good deal, if you can get it.

I’m beginning to think that my phone is getting up there in age. The photos are getting a bit blurry. For example, I knew these deer would be in this yard. So I coasted by this evening, ready for the shot, found three of them reclining in the grass, ready for the weekend.

My phone, though, is having a bit of a Monday.

But then, later, at the house, I got a decent, natural, depth of field effect without any editing.

So who knows. Of course, my phone is now going on six years old.

This hat, however …

This hat is old enough to vote.

Aug 22

Where are we now? One thousand words of hints

Let’s drag this mystery out a bit more. Last night we drove late into the evening, before checking into a hotel, our base of operations for the weekend. But where is this?

Here’s a hint. This is a tree I stood under to avoid the midday sun.

The peeling bark, characteristic of the species, and the brilliant contrast of green leaves and a blue sky aren’t giving it away? They are good clues. Not a clue: my standing under a tree, seeking shade. My skin is so fair it will turn red anywhere. So while that’s no help at all, the bark might tell you something. Give it another look.

No? Need more? OK then.

I saw this on a wall in a hotel near ours.

Let’s have a closer look at that plaque.

I know this story, perhaps you do, too. I hadn’t put it together that we’d be so close to this moment of American history. This would have been on that trip, at the train station, but not the actual moment.

There are plenty of photos of Roosevelt’s trip — he was a former president and campaigning for the office again after all — including one taken just before he was wounded.

It was October; there was a chill in the air. Roosevelt was moving from the Gilpatrick Hotel to a nearby auditorium, where he was to give an evening speech. It’s dark, there’s a crowd, and among them is a man named John Schrank. He’s a bartender, a lay Constitutional scholar, a bad poet, a New Yorker. A short man with red hair, round cheeks and thin lips, he blends into the crowd, and manages to work his way right up to the car where Roosevelt is waving to a crowd.

Schrank has been waiting for this moment for a month. He’s been trying to get this opportunity in any of the eight states and big cities Roosevelt has visited in the last few weeks. He’s been waiting in this town all day. He’s been waiting here, specifically, for hours. He’s not going to fail now. He got to within six feet of the former president, fingering the revolver hidden in his vest. In a surging moment of adrenaline, amidst the noise of the crowd, he squeezes off a round.

The place looks like this today.

It did not look like that in 1912.

Before he could fire again Elbert Martin, a man who grew up about four hours away from here, threw his body at the shooter. Martin was a high school football player, and in every photograph he looks the part. He’s a stenographer, has a law degree, and is also Roosevelt’s security.

Others leap in to help, wrestling the attacker to the ground. They’re holding him by his throat. The gun has skittered away. Roosevelt staggered back, catching himself on the car, and sees his shooter.

Roosevelt says, “He doesn’t know what he is doing. Don’t strike the poor creature. Bring him here. Bring him to me.”

They’re now face-to-face. Martin puts the gun in Roosevelt’s hand. The crowd didn’t realize the former president had been shot. He didn’t know it either. Some people thought the round went wide, but there are immediately chants to string the man up, but police take him safely away. Roosevelt gets in the car and taken to the auditorium where he’s supposed to speak. An aide notices the hole in his coat. Reaching under his overcoat, Roosevelt feels blood, but says it is a minor wound.

At the auditorium his personal physician gives Roosevelt a closer look. The round from that .38 went through Roosevelt’s coat, and through the doubled-up 50-page speech, and his metal eyeglass case, before piercing his chest. Roosevelt refused his doctor’s plea to call off the speech. “This may be my last talk,” he said. He was intent on delivering it.

The man who introduced the president told the crowd he’d been shot. There were gasps in the auditorium, but at least one man shouted “Fake! Fake!”

So that’s been around a while.

Roosevelt came to the stage, unbuttoned his coat and the people could see his bloodstained shirt. He spoke, wavered, spoke some more. Along the way he delivered the immortal line, “It takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose!” The crowd ate it up. He asked his very worried physician how long he’d been talking, and the doctor said 45 minutes. The former president said he’d speak for a few minutes more. The crowd laughed again.

Later he did go to the hospital, and they sent him to another one, to see a renowned specialist. Roosevelt, who had first come to the presidency when William McKinley was assassinated, was cheerful, and walked into that second hospital, smiling, cracking jokes, waving. He had X-rays at the second hospital — not available for his predecessor. Roosevelt’s doctors decided he was lucky. The bullet did not go into his rib, did not hit anything vital, and the man was in good shape. They didn’t operate.

He would, of course, go on to give many more speeches. He lost his campaign for a third term in office, but continue to build the legend of Roosevelt, the great man, until his death seven years later, in 1919. He carried the bullet in his pectoral muscle the rest of his life.

Schrank pleaded guilty. He said he was afraid Theodore Roosevelt was trying to establish a monarchy by running for that third term. Schrank died in custody in 1943, at 67. Over the years he talked with more reporters than you’d imagine possible today for a would-be assassin. Those interviews make for curious reading. He had apologized to the city — figured this out yet? — and was later pronounced a model patient at the ward where he spent the rest of his days. His body was donated to a medical school.

We drove by it last night.

So where are we?

Jul 22

Play the Open the Road video

I’ve got nothing, but I’ve got this.

Episode Two of the Open the Road series explores the inevitability of change as it relates to the past, present, and future of women’s cycling. The Women’s Tour de France returns after 33 years of absence. While the men’s side of the sport has grown seeing teams spend more money and use more resources than ever before in the pursuit of performance and winning the women’s side of the sport has not kept pace. With the addition of the women’s World Tour, the women’s Paris Roubaix, and now the return of the women’s Tour de France the momentum appears to be in favor and the demand for women’s racing is at an all-time high. Change and progress are inevitable. Whether it be the changing of the seasons or technological advances that push humanity forward “change is meaningless unless we see it through.” It is the responsibility of each rider, race organizer, and the fans to see the change through, to play their part in the progress and growth of the sport we are all passionate about.

This weekend we’ll wrap up a month of amazing bike racing from France. There are two stages, in the mountains, to go for the Tour de France Femmes this weekend, and they’ll be historic and historic.

No idea what we’ll do with ourselves next week.

The first episode in that web series is here, if you are so inclined.

Jul 22

Big bicycle ads

We’ve come to this, filling slow July Fridays with newspaper copy of old. And advertisements! Don’t forget the advertisements! The real wonder and whimsy of newsprint are in the ads. And for the old ones, that means clip art. Clip art gets dismissed, but clip art should be celebrated. For this effort I’ve searched the word “bicycling” in the digitized newspapers of three states — Alabama, Connecticut and Indiana — for the year 1922. These are the 10 best returns from the bunch. Some of them are wonderful.

“Bicycling is the ideal exercise for women and young girls.”

This ad was in the August 3, 1922 edition of the Montgomery Times. That paper is hard to pin down. There was more than one publication with that name over the course of 150 years or so, and the peculiar way mergers are observed in the news business are always tricky, too.

Similarly, Rambler and America Bicycles would merge before going defunct. Rambler, though, was started by Thomas Jeffery, an Englishman who emigrated to Chicago. He was one of the inventors of the clincher tire/rim (still stopping strong!) and sold out to … make cars.

Klein, the national brand anyway, was in the marketplace until the 1960s, at least.

Meanwhile, in April of 1922, this ad was published in The Huntsville Times, which is still publishing, sorta, today. The magic tonic, this ad says.

Dayton bikes were manufactured by Huffman, which sounds familiar in the bike world. That story goes back to the 1880s, when George Huffman bought a sewing machine company and then moved it from New York to Dayton, Ohio. The first Dayton bike dates to 1892. George’s son, Horace M. Huffman, Sr., later founded Huffman Manufacturing Company and they made Daytons until 1949. They made high-end bikes, invented training wheels and, later launched the popular Huffy brand in the 1950s.

There’s nothing at that address now, assuming the roads and numbering systems are the same a century on, but there is a spin shop nearby today.

Back down to Montgomery, then, where the Montgomery Advertiser (today the largest daily in the state) published this great clip art in the state capital in October of 1922. Obviously, Klein was a big believer in print advertising. (That’s an Oswald joke.)

Have just as much or more fun! Try it and prove it.

This clip art was used a few times that year for Klein ads around the country. I’ve cleaned it up a bit, but a dirty newsprint and a hasty scan make it look like this little trio is escaping a devastating fire behind them.

Mostly I’m excited to see the cartoon women in the advertisements. Bikes were a big equalizer, socially speaking, and you see it in the retail spots.

Let’s go to Connecticut, and visit the New Britain Herald, and check out this Christmas ad from 1922. The Herald was opened in 1880, and is still in operation today.

Make my Christmas gift an Indiana bicycle! (They were works of art, Dad!)

Hadfield Swenson made planes and motors, dating back to at least 1916. They closed earlier in 1922, which is why Charles E. Hadfield lists himself as the successor. He’d previously tried his hand at car accessories. There’s a bank at that location today.

There seem to be a lot of Hadfields in that area still, but the web doesn’t know a lot about what came next for Charles E.

Look at this beautiful, happy woman. “I will miss you while I am off having fun on my bicycle!”

The power of bikes:

As it became safer and less expensive to own, the bicycle became the mainstream transportation tool for everyday use. For women, it also gave them newfound freedom of movement.

The previous generation of Victorian women were culturally expected to stay at home. Idealized for virtues such as domesticity and motherhood, the Victorian woman’s role kept her away from public life. The bicycle afforded women an accepted way to be outside as part of society including when it came to business and politics. Through simple mobility, the bicycle also helped to accelerate many women’s rights.

The departure coaster brake was the one many of us experienced as a kid. Need to stop? Pedal backward. This was in an April 1922 edition of The Hartford Courant — started as a weekly in 1764, a daily since 1837 and, today the largest in Connecticut. The ad was the centerpiece of one side of a double-truck spread marking national bicycle week, in the Sunday edition.

Opposite that advertisement in The Hartford Courant is this amazing graphic.

Ride a bicycle!

I think I will, tomorrow morning!

Other brilliant art from this special will be saved for a later date.

This bit of copy is from the Evansville Press, in Indiana, in May of 1922. I’m all but certain that it is a delightful bit of fiction.

That’s old-fashioned!

This, you see, was about 15 or 25 years after the first real cycling craze in the United States. And a lot of the writing about bikes around this time in the early 1920s was devoted to pointing out that bike sellers were moving more frames now than they were in recent years. It isn’t just for kids anymore, seems to be part of the selling point.

But that pretend city editor definitely needs a tandem.

Also from the Evansville paper, where they were still thinking about the flu, I guess. Why squeeze in with the germs?

Koch is still a big name in Evansville, of course. They stayed at that Third and Pennsylvania location until 1962.

Still in Evansville, the home of H.H. Shaffer.

There’s an apartment complex there now, if I have the correct street. He’d been advertising in the paper for several years. In 1929 he died at home at 46 years of age. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of the Rayo bicycles. brand, but yet I’m hardly an expert in this area. (Or any area, really.) I can use an inflation calculator, however. The $30 quoted in that ad would apparently be equivalent to about $529.13 today (modern inflation notwithstanding).

And we’ll wrap this up in Muncie, Indiana, because what could top Muncie? This bit of copy is from the Muncie Evening Press, which started in about 1880, and was part of a two-paper daily town until 1996. This was the end of a copy-and-paste piece slugged “Bicycles are coming back.”

We’ve ridden bikes, as the piece notes, “a legitimate aid to health and sport,” in Muncie. We might do it again one day. I just discovered, after all, the Cardinal Greenway which goes right through the town.

And now, having expected this to be a brief Friday space filler, but somehow having written a thousand-plus words around 10 zealously selected graphics we’ll wrap it up, thusly:

Ride a bicycle!

Jul 22

Down the painful memory lane

Oh, why not? TL;DR: Wear your helmet, kids.

Ten years ago, tomorrow.

Because, 10 years ago, earlier this week.

That’s my left collarbone, in several pieces. Bike crash. Hit something I didn’t see and went over at about 18 miles per hour, landing directly on the point of my shoulder and head.

I’m told this could come out at any time, but I still wear this.

I stayed off the bike, except for the trainer, until January of 2013. Everything hurt too bad and I was foggy, besides. Almost a year later, to the day, I noticed, for the first time, that my shoulder and collarbone weren’t hurting. It was fleeting, but wonderful. I was snorkeling in Bermuda. Guess who was the last person back on the boat that day? As soon as I pulled myself out of the water, though …

I saw a second set of specialists six months after I crashed, because everyone agreed I shouldn’t still be complaining about these things. That doctor was concerned about my neck. He ruled out any damage with an X-ray, but I could have told him that in his exam room. I willed my neck to be fine because, and I was quite adamant about this, there was no way I’d walked around with a broken neck for six months.

A third surgical consult the next year, in August 2013, helped get me sorted out. Things I wrote down about that initial visit:

“Tell me everything. Start at the beginning.”

So we talked about the last year. He tested for nerve damage and said there was none. He tested for rotator cuff problems and said there were none. He touched my hardware and I decided I’m going to pinch, hard, the next person that does that.

He looked at my X-ray and said things look good there.


Also, this doctor, who is apparently nationally renowned for shoulder surgeries, says I should have been in a sling for six to eight weeks. Had him repeat that.

My surgeon had me out of my immobilizer in a week. (I had to ask. I couldn’t remember. I don’t remember a lot.)

I told the third ortho that if he had a magic wand, but it could only fix one of my problems, I’d ask him to address my shoulder. So after he verified the problems weren’t skeletal he sent me for another long round of specific physical therapy, at a different facility from the first place, and that magic wand worked pretty well.

All told, it took about 18 months, I think.

Ultimately the conclusion was that the surgery was good, but the initial recovery was poorly managed. Now my shoulder rarely bothers me, but my collarbone usually offers me a dull reminder.

This is the helmet I was wearing the day I crashed.

This is the back of the helmet, as seen from above. You’d be wearing this and facing the top of the frame. Note the chunk that the road sheared off, part of that is resting beside the helmet.


I wonder why I picked up that little piece from the road after I crashed.

Again the back, from straight on. See how the upper left and center of the back was ground away? Note the small cracking at the base of the helmet’s back and that crack on the left side.


Here’s that left-side damage. Hardly a hairline crack.


This is a little farther up the side, but still on the left. As you’re wearing the helmet this crack would be directly over the left ear. The fracturing only stops at the air vent. From these pictures we surmise that, without the helmet, the crown of my head over to my ear would have been heavily damaged.


Finally, looking up into the helmet. That’s one-piece, molded crash foam. Look how much it separated.


This is probably why there are patches of 2012 that I don’t recall all that well.

Update: Went on a long ride on Saturday. Didn’t think about any of this.