Crash’s Kitchen: Peddlefamilia Granola Cyclin’ Bars

Forget the high-priced, store-bought stuff: whip it up and take it on two wheels!

Forget the high-priced, store-bought stuff: whip it up and take it on two wheels!

The family that peddles together, stays together.  While you’re at it, make and take your own granola for the trip!

Total Time: 4 hr 5 min
Prep: 25 min
Inactive: 3 hr
Cook: 40 min
Yield:12 to 16 bars
Level: Too easy!

Ingredients
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Crash

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Cycling: Mazda Bicycle and Sofa

Zoom-zoom!

Zoom-zoom!

Mazda has taken the wraps off Mazda-designed artworks, including “Bike by KODO concept”on the eve of opening the event “Mazda Design: The Car as Art,” in the Italian city of Milan from April 14, 2015.

For many years Mazda has maintained a consistent focus on the representation of dynamic motion in its vehicle designs. Under the KODO—Soul of Motion design theme, Mazda’s new-generation vehicles express a powerful motion full of life, such as that displayed by animals in the wild.

With Mazda Design: The Car as Art, Mazda is aiming to further the evolution of the expression of motion by attempting the expression of two key sensibilities rooted in Japanese aesthetics; RIN, a sense of self-restrained dignity, and EN, an alluring sensuality that speaks directly to the senses.

What, no wheels?

What, no wheels?

“Bike by KODO concept” is a track racer that seeks to express the innate beauty of the bicycle. Its minimalist structure is composed of the least possible number of parts. The frame was painstakingly formed by hammering a single sheet of steel and the black leather saddle is hand-stitched, featuring the same red thread and stitch design as the all-new Mazda MX-5. The bicycle’s mixture of dynamism and allure is evocative of the Mazda MX-5’s styling.

Also on display at the event are a number of works by traditional Japanese craftsmen inspired by Mazda’s KODO—Soul of Motion design philosophy. KODOKI is a tsuiki copperware wine cooler hammered from a single sheet of copper in Japan’s famous Gyokusendo metal-working studio. SHIRAITO is a traditional lacquered box created by Kinjo-Ikkokusai which expresses the richness of natural phenomena using multiple layers of lacquer and finely-broken eggshell.

Pretty wild, I’d say.

Crash

Sunday Travel and Food: Lima, Peru

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The iconic Baroque Cathedral of Lima at dusk – soon to be featured in an upcoming edition of Sacred Sunday.

If you see Lima as some backwater, South American jungle with nothing but poor iterate farmers, guess again: the Peruvian capital is now the epicenter of South American haute cuisine.

To be quite honest, after cycling nearly 900 miles this week, I’m here for the food – SERIOUS food! And Lima is the throbbing epicenter of Peruvian cuisine, the new global culinary superstar, the unofficial Next Big Thing. At its helm, chefs of gleaming, international repute, gilded with giddy praise: Gastón Acurio, Rafael Osterling and Virgilio Martínez. Their words and recipes are slurped down by swooning acolytes from glossy monthlies and hastily edited blogs alike.

However, few take this time to enjoy succulent dishes the way I do. I savior each bite. If enjoying food were a military maneuver in battle, I’d get the Congressional Medal with beef tip clusters.

Plancha Paracas, grilled scallops and clams with butter, chiles and coriander, at La Mar.
The food in Lima is world-class, from Virgilio Martinez’s high-concept, casual fine dining to Gastón Acurio’s new interpretations of Peru’s famous ceviche, made the freshest seafood you can imagine.

It’s impossible to escape the ravenous rabble, the honeyed hyperbole, the intoxicating prose about ceviches and tiraditos and 1,000 varieties of potato and Amazonian mega-plants that have no name, let alone a known culinary use. To the cynical observer, it seems as if this cuisine has sprung, perfectly cooked, from the sous vide a mere decade back. Surely no place could deserve this tsunami of praise.

“Nature has been generous to Peru,” writes Copeland Marks, with some understatement, in The Exotic Kitchens of Peru. Gastón Acurio, culinary trailblazer and true Peruvian hero, is quick to agree. We meet in his Barranco offices, and despite the opening this evening of his immense new restaurant and project, Astrid & Gastón Casa Moreyra (Av. Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro; 51-1/442-2775), he’s remarkably calm.

A snack, called Dead Amazon, of chips made from achiote 
and served with a butter made from the fruit of an ungurahui (a type of palm) tree, offered at Central.

A snack, called Dead Amazon, of chips made from achiote 
and served with a butter made from the fruit of an ungurahui (a type of palm) tree, offered at Central.

“What makes Peruvian food so interesting?” he asks, rhetorically. “Our biodiversity, our 28 different climates out of the world’s 32, for a start.” He waves his hand. “The coast, the Andes, the Amazon….14,000 years of cooking. Peruvians developed and domesticated almost 60 percent of what the world eats. Potatoes, corn, tomatoes, chiles.” He pauses. “After 500 years, our nation has finally been reconnected with our heritage. And I suppose that our chefs are the messengers to the world.” He smiles. “It’s about the pride and honor that every Peruvian has for his food. Every Peruvian is an ambassador for his country.”

But back, for a moment, to the capital. Lima is not exactly a “pretty city.” It squats under a sullen, nicotine-yellow fog, its arteries clogged and furred with the fumes and fury of a million clapped-out cars. Modern, dust-smudged concrete blocks, some already pockmarked with disdain, are scattered across the vista like architectural afterthoughts. Off-white, utilitarian skyscrapers jostle and skirmish to sully the view.

Sure, Lima’s handsome in parts, with its faded, crumbling colonial baroque. And wrought-iron balconies, now rusted with regret. This was once the all-conquering heart of the Spanish Empire. The palaces, monuments to money, and God, still stand, albeit now isolated islands of an intricately constructed past.

The immense Baroque Cathedral of Lima, first 
built in 1538, dominates 
the Plaza Mayor all lit up at night.

But I’m not a fan of most pretty cities. Too smug, and prim and blandly supercilious. Give me Naples and Vienna over Savannah, Georgia, Milan and Charleston over Singapore. Barely ordered chaos, and unfettered urban sprawl, means spirit and vim and vigor, a society unconcerned with shallow social niceties and the correct way to take tea. Lima’s also a city filled with the incongruous and unexpected. The white-hot, ever-hip cevicherias hidden among the auto-parts and office-equipment stores of Miraflores; the lush, watered greens of the Lima Golf Club and colonial elegance of the Country Club Lima Hotel (Calle Los Eucaliptos 590, San Isidro; 51-1/611-9000) dotted amid the bus-choked highways of upmarket San Isidro; world-class restaurants lurking behind peeling suburban doors.

And Barranco, once a fishing village and summer escape for the city’s rich. Now the home of Hotel B (Av. San Martín 301, Barranco; 51-1/206-0800), a superb boutique hotel, and Mario Testino’s MATE museum (Pedro de Osma 409, Barranco), showcasing the fashion photographer’s immense body of work and also that of local artists.

Leche de Tigre from La Mar
Tiradito Gastón, pejerrey 
fish, leche de tigre and ají peppers, from La Mar.

Testino is also one of his country’s great ambassadors. We’re sitting outside, drinking cold white wine at his beautiful house in Barranco after a long bicycle ride through his city. It’s late evening and just the right side of balmy. He’s tall, lean and laughs a lot. “The food of Peru is about history. Don’t forget the ancient Incan culture. Plus the Spanish influence, both in its culture and in its food.” He takes another sip of wine. “Then came the Africans, Japanese and Chinese. Most ended up in Lima, so their impact on the food and cultures is greatly felt. And Europeans, too, with the Italians leading the way.”

Peruvian cuisine is a generous, open-minded one. It embraces outside influences, revels in their bounty—the new ingredients, the novel techniques. As you’d expect, Spain’s culinary footprint is deep. Empanadas, escabeche, bacalao and chorizo are deep within the national fabric. But there are Peruvian-Italian dishes, too, the likes of tallarín con pollo, in which pasta slips into traditional Peruvian dishes. And “chifa,” or Peruvian/Chinese feasts. Pollo tipakay (chicken with sweet and sour sauce),sopa wantan (a Peruvian wonton soup) and tallarín saltado (again, a Peruvian take on chow mein) are as much a part of real Peruvian food as anticuchos (beef-heart skewers) and ceviche.

Spicy cuy (guinea pig) at Rinconcito Huaracino.

Spicy cuy (guinea pig) at Rinconcito Huaracino.

Ah, ceviche. Traditionally the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last point for any Lima eater. Spanking-fresh fish, “cooked” in citrus juice. Served with onion, ají pepper, salt and corn. Of course, before the Spaniards invaded, there were no limes. So passion fruit was used instead. I’ve eaten ceviche all over the world, but the Peruvians are right: Lima is the ceviche capital of the world. Here it’s not a dish but an art form and a religion, all in one bowl. Perhaps Peru’s greatest culinary contribution to world gastronomy. Nobody does it better. Nobody.

I thought I’d found ceviche heaven at La Mar (Av. La Mar 770, Miraflores; 51-1/421-3365) for lunch on my first day. It’s one of Gastón Acurio’s restaurants, large, bamboo-roofed and laid-back, sitting among the mechanics and tire shops in Miraflores. (Probably the country’s greatest ambassador, Acurio has introduced typical Peruvian food to 15 cities, from New York to Miami to Bogotá, via 44 restaurants.)

Here, with my first taste of real Peruvian ceviche, my taste buds shiver and moan with excitement. Classic leche de tigre (tiger’s milk, named after the cold broth) comes with a fat scallop and plump prawns and chunks of white fish and shards of pert red onion and nuggets of soft corn, all in a flood of lime and ají-spiked broth. It flies into my mouth, tap-dances across my tongue and hurls itself down my throat with a gleeful roar. The freshness, the zing, the sheer edible joy. I wonder how this could ever get any better.

But it does, the next day, at El Mercado (Hipólito Unanue 203, Miraflores; 51-1/221-1322), a few blocks from La Mar. At Rafael Osterling’s place, I devour raw scallops three ways (ceviche-style, in a Bloody Mary dressing and “Chalaquita”- style with creole onion relish), sweeter than a spring dawn; flounder ceviche; and sole tiradito with sea-urchin sauce, dark and lusty. It’s so good I pinch myself to check I’m not still sleeping.

“Ceviche is not eaten all the time, and can be very expensive or very cheap,” says Andres Morales, the uncle of Martin Morales, the restaurateur who, with his much-lauded Ceviche and Andina, brought Peruvian food to London. Martin’s another ambassador. “Lima is like a flower opening up,” he tells me. “I left Lima when it was in a really bad state. Now it’s flourishing.” Andres is the owner of a thriving export company and a very serious eater indeed. He bubbles with energy and passion, grabbing one’s arm with a viselike grip to make a point. There is no better guide.

A coffee and caco star cookie with an emulsion of egg yolk and achiote from Central.

A coffee and caco star cookie with an emulsion of egg yolk and achiote from Central.

We’re on our way to Chez Wong (Calle Enrique León García 114, La Victoria; 51-1/470-6217). “Javier Wong got his start about 40 years ago, in a little store in gritty La Victoria, selling shampoo,” Andres says. “But he also used to make incredible ceviches. About 15 years ago he added a couple of tables.” We’re stuck in traffic. Again. It moves more slowly than treacle. And provides the true soundtrack of the city. The shrill, incessant, indignant beep of horns. A constant, never-ending cacophony. Along with the ubiquitous car alarms, electronic crescendos that punctuate one’s every moment, asleep and awake. “Ceviche was eaten no later than lunch in the days of no refrigeration,” Andres says, as he swerves to avoid a car that suddenly pulls out. “It used to be pretty dangerous around here. But it’s getting better.” We pull up to a nondescript door in an area filled with warehouses. It’s like finding Le Bernardin in a Bronx backstreet.

We’re the first, and once past the doorman, we go into little more than a sitting room with a few tables thrown in. The walls are covered with various awards and accolades. There are only two dishes here, ceviche and stir-fry. That’s it. No menus, or price lists, or wine cards. Nothing save Wong, a small, brusque Chinese-Peruvian man, and his chopping board, wok and knife.

The selection might be sparse, but his sole and octopus ceviche is anything but. The fish spends no more than a minute or two in the lime juice. Every ingredient bows down to the sheer magnificence of the fish. It’s a purist ceviche.

“It’s good,” nods Andres, a true ceviche pro. “So plain, so fresh. Maybe the best. Maybe.” He sits back, sighs and thanks God. He’s known Wong for years. They josh and rib each other. A bill here can be massive, even by London standards. Wong adjusts our final check, and I thank the Lord I’m with a local. We escape for $45 a head; cash very well spent.

The lobby at Country Club Lima Hotel.

The lobby at Country Club Lima Hotel.

Just like the money spent on dinner at Maido (Calle San Martin 399, Miraflores; 
51-1/446-2512), a Nikkei, or Peruvian influenced by Japanese, spot that has to be one of the finest restaurants I’ve ever visited. Okay, so it was Nobu Matsuhisa, with Nobu, who introduced this thrilling fusion onto the international stage. But it’s at Maido that it reaches its stunning pinnacle. The chef-proprietor is Mitsuharu “Micha” Tsumura, charming in every way. “Lima is a sponge,” he says as I sit down to eat ceviche with dashi and ginger and shoyu. “And instead of rejecting outside influences, it embraces them.” I skip through course after course of obscenely fresh sashimi (sea urchin, fatty tuna and bass), tiraditos (a more subtle form of ceviche, in which the fish, without onion, is sliced rather than hewn into chunks) and much, much more. Each one is breathtakingly exciting, as if I were tasting all these flavors for the first time.

That’s the thing about Lima. It never ceases to surprise and delight. I’d usually run a mile from 25-course tasting menus and dishes that take longer to explain than they do to actually eat. But at Virgilio Martínez’s Central (Calle Santa Isabel 376, Miraflores; 51-1/242-8515), recently voted the best restaurant in S.Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America, I could stay forever. Martínez is young (37), good-looking and laid-back. He grows his own herbs on the roof, filters his own water. Dishes on the 17-course tasting menu have names like Dry Andes (a sweet, rich, edible “clay”), Coastal Proximity (octopus in an intense, chile-spiked broth) and Altiplano and Lakes (lamb with wild mustards and quinoa) and are based around the various altitudes of Peru’s geography. Sounds pretentious, tastes divine. He not only introduces all manner of new flavors (tree tomato, Bahuaja nut, coca leaf) but plays with texture, too. For this particular food inhaler, it’s like seeing food through new eyes. Astounding.

The dining room at Rafael.

The dining room at Rafael.

But eating in the city is not all about the high-end. Andres wants to show me “not the posh La Mar and Central, but real stuff,” he says. Our day’s first meal, as promised, is way off the tourist trail. First, chicharrón de cerdo, pig fried in lard, as fine as you’d expect, huge plates of the stuff at Jacinto’s (Av. Universitaria 1954, Los Olivos; 51-1/531-8204), an old-fashioned breakfast spot near the airport. Then soup, shambar, at Andres’s favorite place in all of Lima, his love, a taste of 
his Andean youth: “I eat here three times a week.” We pull up to another nondescript door. “This takes me back to the Highlands, where I was born,” he says. We’re a long way from the gringo trail here. “This is El Rincon de Santiago (Av. Metropolitana 791, Comas), owned by my friend Wilson Paredes Aguilar.”

Aguilar appears, smiles, then gets back to stoking the fire necessary for cooking the Andean soup with beans and wheat and pigskin and chiles. It’s soothing and rich and filling, with a whisper of pig and a great shout of warming comfort. “Soup of the gods,” cries Andres, and we’re off again, this time for cuy, or guinea pig, at a small place across town. My belly protests. I carry on regardless.

An hour or so stranded in that traffic before we eventually reach 
Rinconcito Huaracino (1 Av. Héroes del Cenepa Mz. F Lte. 6, Comas; 51-1/536-6840). “Cuy is expensive, especially when it’s home-reared, as it is here,” Andres says. We drink chicha, a mildly alcoholic fermented corn drink, tart and a little fetid. A car is parked next to our table. Indoors. I’m not entirely sure why. The guinea pig has wonderful, burnished crisp skin. And delicate, soft meat. “Good, eh?” laughs Andres. I nod.

Parihuela, or seafood 
stew similar to bouillabaisse, with crab, prawns 
and chiles, from El Verídico de Fidel.

Parihuela, or seafood 
stew similar to bouillabaisse, with crab, prawns 
and chiles, from El Verídico de Fidel.

On my final day, I talk Lima with Diego Velasco of Coltur Peru, an expert in high-end tourism. Everyone comes through him. And he’s busier than ever. “It’s all changing, for the better,” 
he says over leche de tigre and black scallops at El Verídico de Fidel (Calle Colon 246, Miraflores; 51-1/445-9297). “Twenty years ago 
there were one or two fancy restaurants. Today there are a bunch, and Lima has become a destination in its own right, rather than merely a stop-off to Machu Picchu,” he says.

Adds Testino, “You have to remember the years of terrorist problems we had in the Andes. All these people came down to escape, bringing in the chicha culture. They helped create the birth of a true middle class, which has made the city full of opportunities and growth. Its cultural influences, for me, have been the key to making Lima such a thrilling, interesting city. The magic is in the mix—and the chaos it brings.”

I think back to Gastón Acurio’s parting words: “In the 1990s Lima was not free. Now, though, we are. I once spoke about the future, about a time of true freedom. I was dreaming, but now it’s reality.” Not just one of the finest-tasting realities in the world, but a city to revel in and adore.

Lima might not be the most pulchritudinous of cities, but appearances are merely skin-deep. Because when it comes to heart, soul, culture, pleasure and, yes, some of the most drop-dead, balls-out brilliant cooking you’ll find on this earth, Lima has it all. So rub that smog from your eyes and dig in. A mighty city awaits.

Crash

Crash’s Kitchen: Celebrate National Banana Bread Day with Crash’s Cycling B-Bread

Happy National Banana Bread Day!

Happy National Banana Bread Day!

Making your own at home is the ideal way to control ingredients for a healthy, delicious bread you can enjoy daily and whole-grain banana bread is a source of essential vitamins and minerals.

Bananas are a source of carbohydrates, an essential nutrient used as fuel for mental and physical processes. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Megan Ware notes on “Medical News Today” that bananas may aid in decreasing the risk of cancers, lowering blood pressure and improving digestive health. This is due to its vitamins, including vitamins A and C; minerals, including potassium; and dietary fiber.

Although banana bread tends to be high in carbs, it can be a source of protein with the right ingredients. Protein is an essential nutrient needed for the growth, repair and recovery of muscle. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, satisfying a hungry appetite to prevent you from eating the full loaf of bread. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one 60-gram slice of banana bread can have around 3 grams of protein.

Total Time: 2 hr 20 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive: 1 hr
Cook: 1 hr
Yield: 1 loaf
Level: Easy breezy!

Ingredients
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing pan
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 soft, very ripe, darkly speckled medium bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, pecans, granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, brown sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl; stir in the mashed bananas. Fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined (it’s OK if there are some lumps).

Pour the batter into the buttered pan and lightly tap the pan on the counter to evenly distribute the batter. Bake until browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out completely clean, about 1 hour. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

To make this banana bread nut-free, just leave out the pecans and follow the rest of the recipe as written.

Enjoy!

Crash

Crash’s Kitchen: Summer Cycling Cherry BBQ Drumsticks

BBQ drums

Cherries may seem like an unlikely ingredient to pair with drumsticks, but the cherry barbecue sauce brings out all of the chicken’s hidden sweet flavor in the most-perfect way.

Total Time: 2 hr 25 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive: 1 hr
Cook: 1 hr 10 min
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Level: Too Easy

Ingredients
3 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 chicken drumsticks (about 3 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup ketchup
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen pitted cherries, thawed
1/2 cup water
Olive oil, for greasing grates
Fresh cherries, for serving

Directions
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons chile powder, smoked paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Season the chicken drumsticks and carefully loosen the skin to season the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Meanwhile, add oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, and garlic, and saute until onion is soft and translucent. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, and tomato paste and toast for 1 minute. Add orange juice, lemon juice, ketchup, cherries, water, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Puree with a hand blender until smooth. Reserve 1 cup sauce for grilling and hold the rest for serving.

Preheat a grill to medium heat. Oil the grill grate with olive oil to keep the chicken from sticking.

Grill chicken, turning frequently, until cooked through and skin is crisp, about 25 minutes. Brush with reserved barbecue sauce and grill 5 minutes more.

Serve the chicken with fresh cherries and a side of sauce.

Bon(e) appétit

Crash

Cycling Maintenance Essentials

bm1

Do these 12 simple things, and your bicycle will run much smoother

Avoid Overdoing It

Overinflated tires are as much to blame for flats as underinflated ones. Know your psi. An overtightened bolt can cause small parts to break under pressure and bigger ones to form stress risers. Get a torque wrench. Overlubing gunks up your drivetrain and attracts dirt and dust. Wipe off excess with a clean, dry rag.

bm2

Work on Your Bike in This Order

Wash, rinse, dry, lube, adjust, wax. “You can’t properly adjust a bicycle that is dirty and not lubricated,” says Karl Frisch, chief mechanic for Team Tibco/To The Top.
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Stop Paying Someone to Turn a Tiny Wrench

Recognize a wheel that’s out of true, then fix it yourself. Learn how at wikiHOW.
bm4

Watch for Signs of Wear

Whether it’s a cracked saddle or smoothed brake pads, replace worn-out gear before it breaks or fails mid-ride.
bm5

Make This Easy Upgrade

Treat your bar to new tape for a better grip and a showroom look. Tip: If your hands roll to the outside in the drops, wrap in that direction (that’s clockwise on the right, counterclockwise on the left). Always wrap the flat section toward the saddle.
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Avoid Checking Bolts Before Every Ride

Every time you do, you tighten them slightly. By year’s end you could end up turning a bolt one full rotation. Torque them right the first time.
bm7

Get Down to the Nitty-Gritty

Like gravel on a skinned knee, grit will infect your bike. Here’s where it hides: in brake pads, between tubes and tires, in cleats and pedals.
bm8

Really Silence Your Drivetrain

Each time you lube your chain (no more than once a week, or immediately after a rainy ride), drip a little into the hubs of your derailleur pulley wheels. Wipe everything dry.
bm9

Rip Off the Band-Aid

That duct tape you used last year—to secure the sole of your shoe to the upper, as a makeshift rim strip during a century-ride spoke fiasco, or to fasten your loose bottle cage to your frame—needs to go. Say good-bye to your ghetto ride.
bm10

Learn a New Trick

Here’s one: Always cap off the ends of a freshly cut cable. For a nickel per cap, you eliminate the risk of shredding a fingertip.
bm11

Get Your Shop in Order

Organize your tools so you can grab your 5mm blindfolded; keep surfaces free of clutter so you don’t roll on a screwdriver and impale yourself; and get a decent workstand so you’re using your hands to make repairs, not to hold the bike upright.
bm12

Never Put Away a Dirty Bike

You wouldn’t put away soiled laundry, would you?
Treat your bike with respect. Take care of it and it’ll take care of you!
Crash

Essay: The How’s and Why’s of Cycling Deaths in the USA

bi1

new report details the where, how, and why of the hundreds of bicycle deaths that occur across the United States.

While the government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collects annual data, it’s not very detailed — it details the number of cyclist fatalities over time, but not a whole lot else.

In response, the League of American Bicyclists has spent the past few years creating its own data set, manually collecting details about the circumstances of each death from newspaper and TV reports. Their data isn’t as comprehensive as the governments’ (for 2012, they catalogued 552 deaths, about 76 percent of the government’s total of 726) —but it’s much more detailed.

Here are a few of the trends they found among the 628 fatalities catalogued between February 2011 and February 2013:

Rear-end collisions cause a huge number of cyclist deaths

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There wasn’t a specific type of collision reported for every fatality in the database, but there was for most of them — and it’s striking how many were caused by a rear-end collision.

For many accidents, it can be tricky to assign blame on either drivers or bikers. In most rear-end accidents, though, legal liability lies with the driver.

WHAT MAKES THIS NOTABLE IS REAR ENDINGS ARE A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL COLLISIONS

What makes this especially notable is that rear-endings don’t constitute a very large percentage of bicycle collisions. But as this data makes clear, they can be the most dangerous ones, especially when cars are moving at high speeds and drivers don’t see cyclists.

For cyclists, bicyclesafe.com has an excellent and detailed guide at avoiding getting rear ended (along with minimizing the chance of all sorts of collisions).

Driver error contributes to way more deaths than cyclist error

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The database also catalogued any secondary factors that also played a role in the fatalities, as described in the newspaper articles. Most of the deaths didn’t involve these sorts of factors — but for those that did, driver errors weighed heavily.

It’s certainly possible that a bicycling organization might show some bias in interpreting newspaper articles (their standard for careless driving was “drivers were reported to be operating their vehicle in a careless or inattentive manner”), but the discrepancy is still pretty striking. Unsafe driving seemed to lead to way more deaths than unsafe biking.

UNSAFE DRIVING SEEMS TO LEAD TO WAY MORE DEATHS THAN UNSAFE BIKING

Relatedly, the dataset also included some information on the use of helmets — a contentious issue, since some (myself included) argue that the potential safety benefits of helmets have been overstated. For most fatalities, there was no reporting on whether the bicyclist had been wearing a helmet, but for those that did, here’s the split:

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With just this raw data, there’s not really anything we can say about the effectiveness of helmets — we’d need to know the overall percentage of cyclists that use helmets, along with confounding factors (such as helmet-users taking safer routes, or things like that).

But one thing to note is that this rate of helmet use among bicyclists who were killed is way higher than the government data indicates: for 2012, it was just 17 percent. The government data has previously been criticized for deeply underreporting helmet use among fatalities.

Most cyclist deaths occur on high-traffic urban roads

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The dataset also looked at where fatalities occurred — whether in rural or urban settings (suburbs were generally put into the latter category), and whether on arterialcollector, or local roads.

TO PREVENT BIKE FATALITIES, WE NEED TO BEGIN COLLECTING MUCH BETTER DATA

The number of deaths in the urban-arterial category is pretty striking, although it should be cautioned that these are raw numbers, not rates of fatalities per cyclist. We can’t calculate the rate, because we don’t know the total number of miles biked in rural areas versus urban ones.

So what’s the League of American Bicyclists’ takeaway from all this data?

That in order to prevent bicycle fatalities, we need to begin collecting much better systematic data on them. A few states collect the type of data on bicycling accidents and fatalities that is collected for auto accidents nationwide, but they’re a distinct minority.

Bicyclist fatalities per 10,000 biking commuters (worst 5)
1) Fort Worth
2) Detroit
3) Memphis
4) Jacksonville
5) Oklahoma City

On the Web:

Using government data, Susannah Locke has analyzed which US cities are deadliest for both cyclists and pedestrians.

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Cycling: Decision on UCI Rule 1.2.019 delayed until 2015

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After discussing rule 1.2.019 at the management committee meeting last week, the UCI has decided to suspend enforcement of the rule for the remainder of the 2014 season. 

“In the meantime, we are pleased that enforcement of the rule will be suspended for another year”

– USA Cycling President & CEO Steve Johnson

Colorado Springs, Colo. (Feb. 6, 2014) — At their meeting last week in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, the UCI Management Committee discussed the issues surrounding Rule 1.2.019 and agreed to suspend enforcement of the rule for the remainder of the 2014 season.

“Although we would have liked to see a concrete resolution regarding Rule 1.2.019, we are nonetheless encouraged that there will be continuing dialogue regarding the worldwide ramifications of the rule in the coming year,” said USA Cycling President & CEO Steve Johnson. “In the meantime, we are pleased that enforcement of the rule will be suspended for another year.”

UCI general regulations include a section called “Forbidden Races.” Within it, Rule 1.2.019 states, “No license holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognized by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI.” Related rules 1.2.020 and 1.2.021 provide additional details, including specifying punishment via fine or suspension for all UCI license holders who violate the rule.

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The Hobby Horse-Style Bike

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For many, this unique bike will be a trip down memory lane.

It’s environmentally friendly, definitely won’t make you saddle-sore – and also resembles a hobby horse bike. But it might take a bit more than that to convince people to invest in a Fliz bike, which replaces pedals and saddle with a harness.

THE BIRTH OF THE BICYCLE

In 1817 a ‘walking machine’ was invented by Baron von Drais, who wanted to tour stately gardens faster.

He constructed a wooden machine, with two same-size in-line wheels, the front one steerable, mounted in a frame that the rider straddled and then pushed with their feet, so they ‘glided along’.

The machine became known as the Draisienne or hobby horse and was briefly popular – but its impractical function and inability to manage rough terrain meant it’s appeal quickly faded.

The frame works like a suspension whereas the belt replaces the saddle and adjusts your position. This design reduces pressure on the body and distribute weight while running.

The frame works like a suspension whereas the belt replaces the saddle and adjusts your position. This design reduces pressure on the body and distribute weight while running.

The 19th century hobby horse offered people a new way of getting around- allowing them to steer and use wheels to speed up their journey.

The 19th century hobby horse offered people a new way of getting around- allowing them to steer and use wheels to speed up their journey.

It’s unique frame resembles the old style of hobby horse bike, which lacked pedals and dates back to the early 19th century. Unlike the hobby horse, it curves over the spine, whereas the older model had a rigid, flat, frame with a seat on it.

To operate the Fliz, the user has to build up speed by running and then lifting their legs to settle on foot rests at the hub of the rear wheel. Momentum then sends the rider and bike on their way, a little like cartoon stone age man Fred Flintstone’s car.

The bike, created by German designers Tom Hambrock and Juri Spetter, is fixed to the rider with a belt system suspended from the machine’s frame under which the rider is fixed into pace.

The unique bike was entered into the annual James Dyson Award for technology, innovation and design open to international students and founded by the Dyson vacuum cleaner inventor. FLIZ comes from the German word ‘flitzen’ and means speeding – but with your feet.

The concept is to provide healthy, ecological mobility in overcrowded urban spaces.

The frame has a five point belt which is said, despite appearances, to provide a comfortable, ergonomic ride between running and biking.

The frame has a five point belt which is said, despite appearances, to provide a comfortable, ergonomic ride between running and biking.

The inspiration was the world's first personal transport device , a two-wheeled frame which resembled a modern day cycle but without pedals.

The inspiration was the world’s first personal transport device , a two-wheeled frame which resembled a modern day cycle but without pedals.

Strap yourself in! The unusual-looking bike could be the future of cycling - as long as riders know how to balance.

Strap yourself in! The unusual-looking bike could be the future of cycling – as long as riders know how to balance.

The frame has a five point belt which, despite appearances, provides a comfortable, ergonomic ride between running and biking. The belt replaces the saddle and adjusts your position.

The inspiration was the world’s first personal transport device; a two-wheeled frame which resembled a modern day cycle but without pedals. It was built by German inventor Karl Drais and unveiled in 1817.

A wheel-y good idea: The 19th century hobby horses were the forerunner of the bicycles.

A wheel-y good idea: The 19th century hobby horses were the forerunner of the bicycles.

The Dandy Horse and Gompertz's velocipede were only popular for a short period of time - but spawned a love of cycling.

The Dandy Horse and Gompertz’s velocipede were only popular for a short period of time – but spawned a love of cycling.

The velocipede appeared in 1865, and had pedals applied to the front wheels. It was popularly known as the 'Bone Shaker', as the combination of wood and metal tyres and cobblestoned streets made for a very uncomfortable ride.

The velocipede appeared in 1865, and had pedals applied to the front wheels. It was popularly known as the ‘Bone Shaker’, as the combination of wood and metal tyres and cobblestoned streets made for a very uncomfortable ride.

Known as a velocipede, the student team behind the FLIZ wanted to revive that principle but making it more modern with additional benefits. The team even tested a replica of the Drais machine to pinpoint it’s failings such as the unsafe steering and over large seat. The FLIZ prototype which was made of wood and tension belts has been tested and proved to offer a comfortable ride.

The designers said: ‘The frame integrates the rider and due to its construction it works both like a suspension and like a top carrier whereas the belt replaces the saddle and adjusts your position.’ The bicycle’s website boasts about how the bike will revolutionize cycling.

The Fliz may be reminiscent of the prehistoric past, but in actuality it is a new concept bike of the future.  It is currently still in the prototype phase but it is scheduled for immediate mass-production.

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Wine and Cycling: the French Loire Valley

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Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to know French (or bring your bike) to cycle the French valleys this fall (but neither would hurt)

There’s something in the water (or should I say, wine) in the Loire Valley. Carved by the longest river in France, this fertile region is so pretty it inspired the Renaissance monarchs to go on a building spree. Competitive construction projects resulted in chateaux so grandiose (Chambord) that the Venetian ambassador in 1577 was said to depart “open mouthed” in wonder. Rising from the vineyards, these architectural monuments helped clinch the Loire Valley’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2000.

Not far from the Atlantic Ocean, the Loire Valley has a long wine-making tradition. Vines were first planted under the Roman Empire, then coaxed into greatness by monks in the Middle Ages. From the full-bodied red wines of Saumur-Champigny, made with Cabernet Franc grapes, to the sweet whites aged in troglodyte cellars at Montlouis-sur-Loire, the Loire Valley comprises 69 different appellations and is France’s leading producer of white wines. On a guided wine tour, visitors can discover why the Loire Valley was a hedonist’s playground for François I. His motto? Car tel est notre bon plaisir. (“Because such is our pleasure.”)

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Loire Valley Bike Tour, DuVine Adventures

First started by Andy Levine in 1996 with, as he says, “a bottle of wine, a bike and a dream,” DuVine Adventures has become one of the top tour operators in France. The Loire Valley is paradise for cyclists because of its hundreds of miles of trails traversing flat terrain. On an adventure with DuVine, fitness enthusiasts can indulge, guilt-free, in wining and dining across the Loire Valley. On the menu? Gourmet picnics, copious wine tastings, and terroir-inspired cuisine prepared by Michelin-starred chefs.

What’s more, DuVine’s Loire Valley Bike Tour provides an authentic experience, as cyclists are intimately connected with the landscape and interact with locals along the way. For example, you ride through Chenin Blanc vineyards before meeting thevigneron who harvests the grapes to craft Vouvray wines. In the evening aperitif hour, you might be privy to a blind tasting to “quiz” your newly-acquired wine knowledge.

You also get a dose of history, stopping along the way at chateaux such as Cheverny and Chenonceau. Guides have extensive regional knowledge. Thomas Kevill-Davies, known as the “Hungry Cyclist,” wrote a book about biking from New York to Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro, and eating his way through the Americas. Precisely the ethos of the Loire Valley Bike Tour. Another popular guide, Vincent Reboul is passionate about wine, and he comes by it honestly; his great-great-grandfather was Charles Heidsieck, the famous 19th century Champagne merchant.

6 day/5 night tour from $4295 per person. The maximum group size is 14, and the average is 8-10. Tel: 888-396-5383. duvine.com

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Wine Tasting Boat Ride, Château du Petit Thouars

What better way to appreciate the Loire scenery than to cruise along the river in a traditional flat-bottomed wood boat? The Château du Petit Thouars, a wine-producing domaine that’s been in the same family since 1634, has teamed up with a local boat-maker, Bruno Perdriau, to offer wine tasting excursions onboard L’Harassay. Perdriau is one of only four carpenters in France with the skills and savoir-faire to make these magnificent vessels.

During the two-hour cruise, Sébastien du Petit Thouars — who runs the family vineyard — provides the commentary. He points out the passing landscapes and picturesque villages, while also pouring the libations. The tasting includes a selection of Château du Petit Thouars wines, accompanied by regional snacks like rillettes(cooked, shredded meat preserved in fat) and saucisson à l’ail (garlic sausage).

Starting at a dock in the chateau’s village of St Germain sur Vienne, L’Harassay can navigate three different possible itineraries: round-trip along the Vienne River to where it meets the Loire at Montsoreau; continuing along the Loire to the stately town of Saumur; or the other direction up the Vienne to Chinon, if the water level is high enough. Not to miss: The former fishing port of Candes Saint Martin, perched at the confluence of the Loire and Vienne rivers, and classified “one of the most beautiful villages in France.”

The chateau itself makes a lovely spot for picnics overlooking the vines, and the tasting room welcomes visitors with open arms. Available for purchase in select U.S. states (Pennsylvania and Colorado among them), Château du Petit Thouars wines have won distinctions at the International Wine Challenge and the Decanter Magazine World Wine Awards.

30 euros (about $40 US) per person, maximum of eight allowed on the boat.chateaudupetitthouars.wordpress.com

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Mini-Bus Excursion in the Vineyards of Nantes, Muscadet Loire Océan, VLO Oenotourisme

From the happening port city of Nantes, a local agency called VLO (Vignoble Loisirs Organisation) arranges guided tours through the Muscadet vineyards. Nantes itself is an under-the-radar destination ripe with attractions, including a large-scale art project called Machines de l’île, inspired by the city’s industrial history. (Imagine riding on a 40-foot mechanical elephant, which can carry 50 passengers on its back as it “walks” through the streets and sprays water out of its sycamore-and-steel trunk.)

VLO’s English-speaking guides are trained in oenotourism and have impressive knowledge of the vineyards surrounding Nantes. Muscadet comprises the biggest production in the Loire Valley, and as a dry white wine with a fruity and floral aroma, is perfect paired with shellfish and the fresh fish of the day served in Nantes’ bistros. VLO has a vast network of wine-makers who welcome visitors. The four-hour tour includes a stop for a degustation in the vineyards, and also at one of the winemakers whose cellars are labeled cave touristique, which ensures the quality of the experience.

A bountiful picnic, priced at 15 euros, can be enjoyed in the vineyards, on the banks of the river, or at a winery. Each basket is prepared to order, but examples of dishes include a terrine made from Loire fish; seasonal raw vegetables; local charcuterie; cheese from St. Lumine de Clisson; fresh fruit; and Muscadet or red Anjou wine. Note that VLO also offers separate tours of the Saumur and Anjou vineyards.

52 euros (about $70 US) per person for three-eight people, 78 euros (about $104 US) per person for two people, oenotourisme-muscadet.fr

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The Loire from East to West by Coach, Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours

Britain-based Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours Ltd has been operating guided wine tours to France for 26 years. In the process, they’ve racked up the awards and a rolodex of insider addresses. This six-night tour traverses the leading appellations of the Loire Valley, including Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Vouvray, Chinon, Saumur and Côteaux du Layon. Traveling by coach, participants have plenty of space to stock up on interesting wines at great prices straight from the producers.

Guides like Lys Hall are wine specialists who communicate their love of wine with joie de vivre. In addition to their scheduled Loire Valley tour, Arblaster & Clarke arranges bespoke itineraries for wine clubs and groups.

£1,799 (about $2811 US) per person, including six nights in three-star hotels and seven meals with wines, with one Michelin star dinner, winetours.co.uk

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