quatro de mayo blagh--Lon Haldeman, Ghanese women, bike history, tandems, extending fenders, eBikes, fish tins, Jimmy Kimmel

Posted on May 04 2017

Today Lon Haldeman


came by, out here for a birthday party. and in a followup email he sent me these pictures of Ghana-ese women riding and racing bikes:

Smooth riders and good balance. They're road racers, but not here. Here:

You probably automatically noticed the shoes. I'd say..she's not at a deficit for not having click-ins, not if she has the right pedals for sneakers.

I have a complicated visceral response to the banana-balancer and the racer. I see the spandex on the banana riders and am slightly bummed because I want it purer Africa traditional garb than that. It's kind of like 25 years ago when I saw a Nat'l Geographic story on modern Native Americans, and there was a super unhealthy looking chief of some tribe with a full headdress on, smoking a long white cigarette and drinking a Schlitz. If the Europeans hadn't invaded, all this would be different, and I'd sacrifice my existence if it made the difference.

Then I see the racer below and I like the sneakers, because I don't associate $260 clicky bike shoes with Ghana bike riding.

There's help, there's influence that's not help or harm, and there's harm. None of this is any of that. I'm in no position. If I knew where or to whom to send a Clem Smith Jr. in Ghana or South Sudan, I'd do it, if I was assured it wouldn't make a mess of things. I KIND OF have a South Sudanese contact, but...does it even make sense? A 650B 52 or a 700c 59 or a 26" 45? I can't  imagine bicycles ever causing harm, but that's how I'd expect me to feel.


In 3 weeks we're having an event here. David Herlihy lives in Boston-area and is a top bike historian and...he's out here visiting his mom, and he's speaking here on May 20, 3pm. If you're local and want to see and hear him for free, click here and follow the sign-up instructiones. Room for 50 and we're half full already:



KCW sent me this:


Are you supposed to know who KCW is? No. He's a guy I worked with in the late '70s and early '80s at REI in Berkeley, and we stay in touch. He was one of the few African-American backpackers back then, as a matter of statistical fact. It is not my intention to have a theme here, or to keep it going. Pure coincidence.


This has made the rounds. It's "the Jimmy Kimmel baby thing," and if you haven't seen it, it's worth a look. Warning: It's a bit political at the end, and yes, it's lefty. Wait...there's actually nothing "lefty" about it. It's right down the middle. wide swath, straight freeway shot as wide as the ocean.



The fish cans are trickling in. Here are a few...

John Milgram, Shaker Hts. OH sent us this short-stemmed Union Crackajack.

Vaughn Dice is a rider-birder-'tographer and sent us these. The bird on the left is unknown. Maybe you can enlarge it. A yellow-breasted chat...is what one customer guessed; and I'm guessing you don't just come up with "yellow-breasted chat" out of your ear, so he may be right. It's on reeds in Colorado.





The HHH tandems arrived today--a huge deal around here. I think we're doing one more run sometime in the next year. Tandems are a hassle, but they are good tandems, and they will always be good, fun, easy, versatile allaround tandems. Some pix:

Sorting. We were all there. This is Cory and Roman.

It clears a 650 x 2.4. That's enough. It's hard to get a pic like this that doesn't suggest the tire rubbing. It's a good old-fashioned optical illusion.

It's a HubbuHubbuH.

This is the first one. Local retired D.A. with a Hunqapillar got it. Mark's putting it together now...we need more headset spacers and a couple of other small parts, but it's going together like an Ochs und Junior watch.


The magnetic strip that holds tools is the main thing.

Here's the stoker stem, an ultra non-stock item. One run, that's all, and we got just 68 of them. First orders get first rights of refusal, and there are other stoker stems out there. No, they don't look anything like this, but they're fine.

The SILVER tandem cranks are totally great. All stokers get 170 arms. Small frames get 170 captain arms, MED get 173, L get 178. Drive chainrings are 44 x 34 x 24, and timing rings are 38T and have ring-guards. The eccentric is the BUSHNELL--the Ochs und Junior of tandem eccentrics.

I don't own an Ochs und Junior, by the way, but a friend in another tax bracket does. Still--if you-out-there are into that kind of thing, it's a kind worth considering, and they don't advertise at all. A HubbuHubbuH costs way less than an Ochs und Junior.


Sometimes you need to extend the FRONT of the fender, and here's a good way to do it. If you  have a basket, the basket will cover it...if that's what you're worried about. Basically--it's good to get comfortable with milk jugs, zip ties, and awls in pocket knives. We don't sell it anymore---it felt like it took too much enthusiasm to do that--but the ultimate bike rider's Swiss Army knife is the Victorinox Pioneer, shown. Everthing on it is useful, and awl...hooboy...don't get me started, or whatever:

All u-need. Shoot--I forgot the zip-tie. Maybe it's in the jug.

 After this step you can throw out the Sharpie.


Almost there!


Ream the holes in both. Just four. Must be an even number, seriously.

What to do now? —

This. Taken from above, so it looks shorter. The idea is to make it long, like, about 9-inches... That's it!--The Ochs und Junior of fender extensions.

------------------That's about it for now--------lots of stuff happening here.














  • Mike: May 25, 2017

    Anyone know Lon Haldeman’s take on using fenders? Does he not use them because of safety concerns, or weight? Just wondering.
    I wonder how he dealt with long rainy days in a soaked saddle? I figure he’s the guy to ask as he has ridden more than most folks.

  • Joe Bernard: May 08, 2017

    DDD: I believe you are trolling. Everybody understands the nostalgic longing in this modern globalized world to see pics of a traditional society different from our own. That was Grant’s point, as any damn fool knows.

  • DDD: May 08, 2017

    In general Grant’s pooing pooing of things non-rivish can be grating. I give people enough credit to know what clothing is right for them. Plenty of ways to skin a cat, I don’t need to criticize other people’s way of doing things to justify the way I do it. I guess this line rubbed me the wrong way too. “because I want it purer Africa traditional garb than that”

  • Joe Bernard: May 07, 2017

    Mike, the photo captions mention that the banana riders are also road racers. I’m sure the racing side informs what kind of gear they ride in on the banana side.

  • Mike: May 07, 2017

    Things are getting pretty homogenized worldwide. Travel anywhere and you will see. Unless you go to isolated peoples areas, you are going to see Western World garb on most of the people, western world style structures, etc. Good or bad? Your choice. The exploitive history has been definitely been bad, and unfortunately, that is how humans of just about all cultures (that I have heard of), behave towards each other. Perhaps the lycra on the banana riders is just because she agrees with me that padded cycling shorts are the most comfortable thing to wear on a bike!

  • Joe Bernard: May 06, 2017

    I seem to be the ebike believer around here, so of course I’ll chime in. I found it interesting that Gary Fisher is a supporter of the idea..I didn’t expect that. I own a Class 1 Haibike and agree this should be the limit for trail riding. There’s no throttle, the mid-drive motor uses a torque-sensing system which adds power based on how hard you’re pushing the pedals. As the author states, it feels like a normal cycling experience, just boosted a bit. I actually get a pretty good workout because the motor requires constant involvement from the rider, and rewards hard effort with more power. The result is that the bike kind of eggs you on to buckle down and spin spin spin..it’s great fun.

    All that said, this is still a dicey proposition. I think the long-travel full suspension bikes blowing past hardtail riders ran some of them out of the sport, and eMTBs may exacerbate the problem if too many riders invade with uncorked 40mph “bicycles”. I hope the Class 1 standard is adopted and respected on the trails.

  • Mark R: May 06, 2017

    By the way, May Fourth is Star Wars Day. May the Fourth be with you.

  • Mark R: May 06, 2017

    DDD: I know, I’m sorry, too. That’s just one of the many downsides of “globalization”—the over-homogenization of every thing and everyone and every place, the loss of traditions like local clothing. Unless of course you were implying that you think the sentiment reflects a colonialist attitude, and that you sit on a higher perch. I would think vice-versa. In any case, the writer is known for not being fond of lycra on anyone—African, American, Armenian, what have you. Hard to tread the PC waters these days, the currents run deep. Remember, it was Archie Bunker who was always saying Stifle Yourself.

  • DDD: May 06, 2017

    Sorry the Africans are wearing clothing that disappoint you.

  • Ian Strader: May 05, 2017

    As for helping, I’d think identifying an aspiring bike builder in Ghana/Congo/West Virginia who you could train up and gift with enough PP&E and raw materials for their first year or 2 would be the way to go. I’d certainly be interested in contributing toward such an effort.

  • Chuck: May 05, 2017

    Too bad about the suspension forks on the banana bikes. Road doesn’t look that bad. Clems for all of Africa!!!

  • superfreak: May 04, 2017

    another idea is to zip tie some milk jug or coroplast to the bottom of the basket to keep front fender spray out. might also work for long front racks as well!!
    thx superfreak

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