The fourth annual Bench Minor tournament was held in Los Angeles this past weekend, where the stage was set for some phenomenal bike polo matches, showcasing some of the most talented athletes in the sport. Just 48 players from a list of nearly 300 were drafted by the six general managers tapped to cultivate and lead their teams in the battle for polo supremacy.
“It’s the most physically intense and highly skilled tournament that’s out there,” said organizer Alex Dash, who also played for the Los Punishers team. “The base of bike polo is pickup where you play in your city; the teams get mixed up and you play with random teams 90 percent of the time, but when you go to a tournament you pick your team and you play other set teams and you only play that grouping, so it’s sort of the opposite of pickup—then when you look at this tournament you’re kind of blending the two, and then that blend gets turned up, so what polo is based on is multiplied into a much higher thing compared to a regular tournament, where it’s sort of inverted.”
Each team had in on its roster a few players who played together regularly, but all were largely composed of players who had never played a game together before the weekend came—including the winning team, Global United, whose lineup, shaped by heavy hitter Eric Kremin, brought players from Japan and the UK into the fold.
Since 1924 ABUS has staked their reputation on making the best locks possible, pioneering and perfecting many of the designs now ubiquitous in bike shops and hardware stores. ABUS makes all manner of locks, from simple padlocks to window and door locks, and onto a number of locks for securing boats, motorcycles, and of course bikes. If it can be broken into or stolen, ABUS likely has a way to lock it down. One may not guess it from the size of the operation, but to this day ABUS remains a family owned company based in the small town of Wetter, Germany. The stereotype of German manufacturing holds true with spotless facilities and precision machinery throughout, a mix of state of the art computer controlled production and ancient factory machinery humming along. ABUS creates much of its own tooling, maintains tight control of the metal alloys used throughout, and keeps a well stocked test facility to ensure their locks live up to their own standards, and the various metrics set forth by countries throughout Europe and around the world.
Beyond the ABUS Lock test lab we featured in Urban Velo #36, I got an inside look at the entire manufacturing facility. It’s an impressive place employing a couple of hundred people creating all manner of locks for a worldwide market.
Click through for a gallery of 50+ images of the factory operations.
Contents Include: I Love Riding in the City, Racing Red Hook Crit, Stoopidtall, Penrose Velodrome, A Bike Shop for the Whole World, Gallery: Red Bull Ride + Style, Product Reviews: Raleigh, Swobo, Timbuk2, Hold Fast, Knog and more, Anti-Seize Compound, Gear Inches, Battle for the Midwest
My previous headlight died in its prime, of complications from a fall. Coming back to my bike on a wintery night with thick gloves on, I misaligned the slot on the handlebar mount when attempting to slide it into the bar mount and dropped it on the sidewalk, at just the right angle to snap one of the dainty plastic tabs that hold the bits of the light together. It’s safe to say that such things would never happen with the Gotham Defender, which my wife got me as a replacement, for two reasons. First, it’s designed to be as theft-resistant as the bike is, and doesn’t need to be taken along when the bike gets locked up. Second, even if you did take it off the bike, it’s hard to imagine a mere 3 foot drop injuring it; you could probably drive a nail with it if you had to.
The light clamps onto your 22 – 32 mm bars (or other protruding horizontal part of the bike) with a pentalobe nut, which makes it impossible to remove without the included mutated hex wrench tool; a hidden and recessed screw locks the battery compartment closed. While it’s still possible that a thief could have the necessary wrench in their gear, and also possible that they could bypass the clamp entirely by stealing the bars, the law of the jungle is such that your gear doesn’t need to be completely theft-proof, just more so that the other possible targets. This also makes it tricky for the rightful owner to adjust or open, though, unless you’re willing to tempt fate by bringing the tools with you or are methodical enough to replace the batteries before they run dry.
The build quality on the $60 Defender is impressive. Unlike most battery powered lights, it’s made of solid aluminum and has the 230 g of weight to match. It claims to be waterproof to 1 ft, and while that has not been verified by me, it certainly does fine with thunderstorms and heavy snowfall. Despite its size, it doesn’t rely on reflectors to amplify its light — the optics, such as they are, are six LEDs which protrude slightly above the face of the light. The downside to this indestructibility is that this is more a light for being seen than seeing by; the throw from the light, when adjusted to oncoming-car height, casts barely enough light on the street to identify potholes and hazards in a city. When tilted down, the Defender provides decent vision when street lights are absent, but makes visibility to cars that much less. Probably not the thing for country roads, but fine for city use, and the beam will reassuringly reflect in street signs a couple of blocks away.
Some may prefer a light that’s smaller or more efficient, but being able to leave your headlight on your bike without worrying about theft or abuse, especially during the cold and dark wintery months, is worth the price of admission for me. The weight penalty, as it usually is, is largely psychological, and considering its ostensible indestructibility, it is priced fairly. Sure, it would be great it if the light quality was better, but if the so-so light quality is necessary to make it smash-proof, I can live with that. If anything, I’ve found myself desiring a similar tail light, which is coincidentally being developed by Gotham and is planned for release later this year. See more at www.bikegotham.com
Review written by Dan Goldberg, Urban Velo riding buddy and sometimes tech consultant. Read other reviews by Dan.
An estimated 150,000 people came out the first CicLAvia of the year, on April 21, to enjoy the extended route, which spanned 15 miles from downtown L.A. to Venice. Advisory notices across town helped to build up anticipation in the days preceding the event, promising the increasingly coveted street closures. With a 150 percent increase in attendance, many people were there to experience the open streets event for the first time. While many chose to enjoy to route by foot, skateboard and on rollerskates, bicycles were still the preferred mode of exploring the route; bike shops throughout the city saw a rush of people who wanted to fix up the rusty, dusty bikes they hadn’t touched in years in preparation for the weekend.
“It was a very ambitious route, fifty percent larger than any route we’ve ever done” said Chris Barnes, who is part of the CicLAvia’s team of organizers. “We had a lot more people than we’d anticipated. It seemed like there were a lot more families, a lot more kids.”
On hand to kick off the fun was outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was greeted at Olvera Street—the eastern edge of the route—by hundreds of eager Angelenos, anxious to play in the streets, without the traffic. Citing an accelerated pace of bicycle and public transportation infrastructure development in Los Angeles, Villaraigosa expressed his vision to create a new civic identity.
“Let’s make sure L.A.’s as famous for it’s bikes as it is for its addiction to the single-passenger automobile,” he said. “Because the bike network is growing so fast and Ciclavia is becoming so popular, we’re also making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Our public transit system is finally beginning to connect the dots.
“L.A. is quite literally becoming a car-free destination,” he declared before announcing the launch of a car-free initiative from the board of tourism. The initiative entails more than a dozen car-free itineraries for exploring the city, with a broad range of themes from film landmarks, sites with presidential connections, architecture, beaches, LGBT landmarks, and even a “Geek’s Guide to LA,” all available at discoverlosangeles.com/carfreela.
Villaraigosa said that he hopes CicLAvia grows to happen 12 times a year, with varying routes that explore different parts of the city each month.
“I’m really excited that he wants to make it a more permanent change,” said Barnes.
Since beginning in 2010, CicLAvia has drawn not only L.A. residents, but visitors from neighboring counties and states as well. Shattering the myth that a car is needed to get around L.A. has inspired city officials and community organizers throughout the southwest to establish their own open streets events.
“More than a dozen cities have contacted us,” Villaraigosa said. One of the cities modelling their own events after CicLAvia is San Diego, which will host its first CicloSDias on August 11.
The day brought out a diverse mix of people and organizations to the 15-mile block party, including Daniel Busby’s 8-person banquet table, “A Moveable Feast,” and dozens of freakbikes, including Richie Trimble on his 14.5-foot “StoopidTall,” which turned out to the be the star of the day’s event. Dubbed the “King of CicLAvia” by local media, Trimble and his (stoopid) tall bike had onlookers along the route gasping and smiling as he rode by, flanked by a protective circle of Angelopes helping him navigate his way through the crowded streets.
Because the event requires no registration or admission fee, it is difficult to gauge exactly how many people participated; perhaps the best evidence of growth was that parts of the route were still heavily congested, despite the five added miles. With 30 crossing points to allow for intersecting car traffic, parts of the route came to a standstill at times.
“One thing that I’ve been trying to ask for is modifying the signals so that the cyclists get two cycles,” said Barnes. “It seems like it would be a lot more effective in keeping everyone together.”
Despite the congestion, there was plenty to do and friends to be found the whole way across town–reminding us all to just take the day to enjoy the sun and good company. Two more CicLAvia events are planned for 2013. The next will take a historic route down “Iconic Wilshire Boulevard” on June 23 and highlight the cities varied architecture as part of the Pacific Standard Time Los Angeles art initiative.
See more excellent images of Richie’s Stoopidtall bike at Hal Bergman’s photo site.