Urban Velo

The Comedown Human Powered Rollercoaster in Glasgow

Photo by Stephen Murray

Photo by Stephen Murray

“Scary the first time,” reports builder Stephen Murray. The artist, sculptor and cyclist behind The Comedown figure-eight track in Glasgow, Scotland just took the first ride on the track this morning after months of planning, design and fabrication work.

The Comedown is reminiscent of the late ’90s Human Powered Rollercoaster that made an appearance at the 1995 Toronto Cycle Messenger World Championships (edited, org text had wrong date), though at a smaller scale. Where the earlier HPR was large enough for two-up racing (video, images) The Comedown is single-file affair.

The idea for The Comedown came from the building of the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome for the recent Commonwealth Games. “We started riding on the velodrome once it was built and chatting about how it was made etc. Then the Red Bull Mini Velodrome, came to Glasgow and my mate John Silvera who is a joiner and cyclist and all round good man raced on it (and folded his wheel and went flying off the side).” Murray said. It wouldn’t be available to the public for the length of the games, and funding was announced from Creative Scotland to fund 20, £14,000 commissions for art projects related to the Games, leading to a quick proposal to make a minidrome for the public during the games. Murray continued, “A week later I was in the pub with John and Brian from Rig Bike Shop which is where all the couriers work from in Glasgow. Anyway Brian told me it was a shit idea to build a minidrome as the Red Bull one already exists etc. But he had ridden the Dunhill one in Canada back in the day and what I should do is make an eight. Which I had never heard of.”

“We were all pretty pissed but I totally latched on to it.”

The funding ended up being approved, and the project kept under the radar until a suitable venue was found. It was originally slated for a warehouse during the Games in June but it fell through last minute, and then the current The Briggait / Wasps location was secured for a narrow window in October. It was scaled to fit the space and budget, and production began. “In my workshop I manufactured all the structural elements as a giant kit, then me and four good mates, John, Rob, Jason and Dom moved it all onsite last Monday. Tuesday we got a 165 sheets of plywood delivered. Since then we’ve assembled the frames and been bespoke fitting every sheet and building laminations up to take the curves,” Murray continued.

STEVE MURRAY POSTER 10“Basically we’re at a point now if someone wanted to step in and back us financily we could go rework the design and build a demountable, raceble, transportable, figure-eight velodrome. We’ve got the whole thing down. We would adjust a lot of things as this has been a massive learning curve and the difference between working in CAD and physically having the opportunity make a 30 m x 12 m x 3.6 m sculptural velodrome is massive. But we’ve fucking done it.”

“Materials is coming in at about £6-7000, rest of budget has gone on paying the right people at the right time to design and to do skilled onsite assembly and bespoking.”

The pictures and Facebook video have left me stunned. It’s a dream I’ve heard many bring up over the years, of seeing the HPR in service again. For a short period in Glasgow at least, The Comedown exists. There is an opening party on October 18th, with the installation in place through November 1st.

Parkour Ride

Click photo for image gallery at www.theguardian.com

Click photo for image gallery at www.theguardian.com

Just about everyone has ripped down a parking garage at some point or another on their bike and thought, “This would be rad to race.” Parkour Ride takes parking garage alleycats and late night shred sessions to the next level, pitting road, track, BMX and mountain bikes against one another on a course going throughout a garage. The first event kicked off in London on October 4th, with The Guardian posting a gallery of images. Awesome looking event, wish I could have been there. Liam Phillips, World BMX Champion, took home the title at Venue 1 after a series of head to head races. Look out for more info on Venue 2 soon at www.parkourride.com

Green Guru The Hauler Convertible Saddle/Shoulder Bag

Large saddle bags are all the rage for bikepacking, and they almost make as much sense for in-town commuting, if only they could be easily carried off-bike. The Hauler from Green Guru is an interesting take on the saddle bag — unlike many bikepacking focused bags, the bag holds it’s shape off the bike, and has a pair of eyelets and a removable shoulder strap for portage. Easy on, easy off, pretty good looking design that should fit most bikes out there with enough seatpost showing. Like everything else Green Guru, the Hauler is made from recycled and repurposed fabric and tubes. Check out their Kickstarter for more info and to pre-order at $100.

Richard Sachs Framebuilding Kits

sachstubes

Richard Sachs needs no introduction, he’s one of the humble legends of the domestic framebuilder genre and has long offered signature lugs and tubesets for both professional and hobbyist builders. He first designed lugs for a supplier back in 1981, with the first Sachs branded lugs reaching the market in the early 2000s. In order to streamline ordering of the latest oversized Sachs frame bits, tubesets and lugs are now available packaed into kits — enough to make a full frame or fork, just add braze and a lot of hard work. PegoRichie frame kits are available for $280-300, fork kits for $130-150 with a few lug and tubing options each. You may not want to wait the years it takes to get a Sachs frame, but you can get a set of tubes right away if you’ve got the skills to put it together yourself. Check all the details of the kits and individual bits at www.richardsachs.com.

The Stolen Bike Buffet

bike-stealing_lwmmltThe Seattle Met published a good piece on the typical pathways a stolen bicycle will take, from broken lock to Craigslist, and all the hassles of effectively getting it back into your hands. Speaking from personal experience, hunting down a bike yourself is far better than going to the police, as this story also alludes.

When an SPD cruiser finally showed up “a couple cigarettes later,” police informed the dispirited blogger that the alley where he’d almost gotten screwed was technically outside city limits, in White Center. So Fucoloro called the King County Sheriff, then set up another buy using a different cellphone.

As is to be expected though, there is little recourse we have in preventing bike theft in the first place, short of purchasing the incoming technologies involving GPS tracking…which is a welcomed development.

For most though, a bicycle becomes a sunk cost the moment it goes missing. If you love your bike, write down the serial number, take some photos, register online, and buy a lock commensurate with its value.

Chrome X Cinelli

chromeChrome and Cinelli have teamed up to create a slick line of products including a standard roll top, hat, utility bag and T-shirt. I’m digging the vibrant color scheme and simplistic angular aesthetic. Launched at Interbike, you can see a full line of product photos here.

Cyclist Collides with Pedestrian

jill-tarlovA New York cyclist, Jason Marshall, struck a pedestrian while riding in Central Park on September 19th. The cyclist was allegedly riding in the bike lane when he swerved to miss a group of pedestrians, ultimately colliding with another pedestrian, Jill Tarlov. It is reported Tarlov later died from her injuries, and Marshall is not to be charged at this time.

There is much to be said about our responsibilities as road users, both being vulnerable and dangerous at the same time, but I’ll leave that discussion alone for the time being. However, it’s hard to ignore this article by the NY Daily News, which is both painfully thorough and skewed with opinion, considering how cyclists are normally portrayed when the collision involves a vehicle.

More about the collision via Animal NY.

Feel My Legs 2014

FMLThe 9th annual Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer hill climb event in Los Angeles has officially been scheduled for November 9th. Matt Ruscigno of True Love Health has been organizing this popular event since it’s inception, sending riders up the steepest of hills in the LA area, some for points and some just for the experience. Check this blog post for past write-ups and specifics for the event.

More details will be supplied on the Facebook event page.

Chrome WARM

chrome_warm-1 Chrome has gone into clothing hard over the past few years, making some really great product along the way. The latest Chrome WARM line looks like more good stuff – workwear looks with polyfill insulation, ripstop nylon construction and a reversible high visibility design for night time safety. Just in time for the changing seasons.

4 Year Bike Commuting Growth Rates

growth 2009-2013Bicycle advocacy organization, People for Bikes, just released U.S. Census findings related to bicycle commuting, showing which cities increased ridership in the past four years. On top are Washington, New York City, and Tucson, citing almost a doubling of bike commutes, attributed in part to more extensive painted lanes and protected bike lanes.

Powered by one of the country’s most successful bike sharing systems, a growing painted lane network, a handful of protected lanes and a burgeoning bicycle culture, Washington DC vaulted to 4.5 percent of commutes by bicycle in 2013, up from 2.2 percent in 2009. Among major U.S. cities, that estimate would place DC second only to Portland, Oregon as a bike commuting hub.

Showing a small decline in ridership is Minneapolis. What happened there friends…a string of tough winters we assume?

City Reports