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Friday, August 31, 2007

Preparing For A Bicycle Ride

by Larry Lagarde

Yesterday, the Concord Monitor published a story by Tim Jones titled "Support your bike adventures"; it's about being prepared for a blowout when on a bicycle ride.

For most cyclists, it can be months if not years before a flat happens on a bike ride but it will. The question is, what will you do when it happens. Some call home for a ride or simply trudge back home pushing their disabled bike; however, if you have everything you need, many problems that crop up while bicycling can be fixed pretty quickly on the road side.

Tim's suggestion is to be prepared with an emergency kit that includes tire wrenches to get the tire off the rim, a spare tube, a pump or CO2 cartridge inflator and perhaps a folding tool kit for other repairs or adjustments. Provided that you know what you're doing, these are all great suggestions but do you really need them?

Before Hurricane Katrina when I was riding 20 miles/day on a pristine, paved bike trail, the only preparation I made was switching out my front tire to an Air Free version, placing a Mr. Tuffy insert between the rear tire and tube, and carrying a cell phone. I rode for a year without a flat. When it finally happened, I was just 3 miles from home; it took an hour to walk back but I didn't mind. It was after work and I had nothing pressing to do that evening.

Since Hurricane Katrina, daily rides gave way to riding twice per week - if that. During the 9 months that we were displaced in Memphis, I rode with a tool kit, mini pump and patch kit. The streets were full of debris and I regularly trailered my younger step son behind me for rides of 5-10 miles. How many flats did I get? None.

When we returned from Memphis to New Orleans, everywhere I rode, there was debris... glass, nails, branches, splintered wood, shredded metal... In fact, one item regularly in the news was the frequency with which motorists were getting flats. Not a single motorist in New Orleans in 2006 that I knew drove without getting at least 1 flat. One time when I brought my wife's Saturn in for an oil change, the mechanic was kind enough to check the tires; 3 out of 4 tires had nails in them... So how many flats do you think I've had over the last year and a half bicycling over potholes & crazy storm debris? Just one.

During the 30+ years I've been bicycling, my rate of catching a flat while riding has averaged once every 2-3 years. I do ride normally with tire inserts and check my tire pressures prior to each ride; however, it's typically when I'm doing a long distance tour out of town that I ride with a spare tube or repair kit, tire tools, pump, bike multi-tool set, spoke wrench, etc. Then of course, I'm always riding a folding bike so it's no sweat to throw the bike in the trunk or back seat of a taxi if I'm in a bind here in the city.

There are other preparations that I find essential for a great bike ride. I ALWAYS ride with...
... a helmet.
... eye protection.
... a cell phone.
... identification.
... money for a snack.
... gloves.
... pants/shorts that will not get caught on the bike frame.

In addition, normally I ride with...
... sunscreen.
... a small first aid kit.
... water.
... an air horn.
... bike lighting.
... a mirror.
... a bike computer.
... a carry rack.
... a bungee to strap items to the rack.

When I'm commuting by bike, I do take the bike pump, patch kit and tire irons but for most recreational rides or just zipping a few miles to the store, I leave repair gear at home.

How do you prepare for a bike ride?
To share your wisdom on this subject, click on the "Post Your Comment" link below and type away!

To read the story "Support your bike adventures", visit...


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

For Sale - Yellow Hummer Folding Bike

Now that I have 3, full size, folding mountain bikes (a flat black SwissBike LX, a cammy green Paratrooper and a canary yellow Hummer), I have way more full size folding bikes than I need. I've decided to offer one of the folding mountain bikes for someone else to enjoy - the yellow Montague Hummer TX. (See the slideshow below; click on any slide to enlarge the photo.)

The Montague Hummer TX folding bike is in great shape and has low mileage (300 miles max). Though it sold last year for $800, this bike can be yours for just $450. I'd consider that quite a bargain.

Following are the Hummer's specs...

- Color: HUMMER Yellow
- Frame: Patented military paratrooper folding frame.
- Frame Construction: Custom drawn 7005 Series aircraft grade aluminum tubing. Oversize moncoque top tube. Double butted rear triangle. Welded by hand.
- Drive Train: 24-Speed Simano.
- Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore LX. Lightweight alloy, long lasting and quietrunning, equipped with fluorine coated bushings to reduce friction for lighter and more precise shifting action.
- Front Derailleur: Shimano top swing design with compact low-friction linkage to reduce shifting effort.
- Front Suspension: HUMMER suspension fork with 2.5" of travel, coil spring system. Disc brake mount.
- Brakes: Front disc with self centering micro adjust. Rear, alloy linear pull V-Style with alloy levers.
- Rims And Spokes: Double wall with reinforced eyelets, CNC machined braking surface and “Aqua-No” channel for improved braking in wet and/or muddy conditions. Stainless steel spokes.
- Saddle: VELO mountain double density with comfort grip surface.
- Pedals: Military spec. Extra wide, double cage bear trap.
- Tires: 26” x 1.95” front and rear specific off-road knobby
- Sizes: 18"
- Folding Size: 36" x 28" x 12"

Other than some small scratches, the Hummer is in excellent condition. Following are more specifics.

There are 2 small scratches (1 front, 1 rear) & a scuff on the top tube, some paint has rubbed off of the alloy bear trap pedals, alloy crank arms and inner portion of the rear fork (where debris from riding hit - or this might just be dirt...). All of these scratches are minor. In fact, showing them in the photos was virtually impossible.

There is also a small tear on the side of the saddle where the upholstery meets the edge of the saddle frame. The tear is about half an inch and that is visible in one of the photos.

The original factory shipping carton is in great shape so I can pack the bike up in that and send it to you.

Larry Lagarde
Ph: 504-324-2492
Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kent Ultralite Shipments On Hold Until After Holiday

Kent notified me this morning that they are taking advantage of the Labor Day holiday weekend to transfer the Ultralite folding bikes across the continent to their primary distribution warehouse in New Jersey. Effective immediately, all orders that have not made it out the door are on hold until the inventory transfer is complete.

My Kent rep apologized for the inconvenience but the transfer should result in faster shipping times. The Labor Day holiday was deemed the best time to make the inventory transfer because the shipping department is closed longer than over a typical weekend.



Monday, August 27, 2007

Mobiky Airliner Rolling Softcase

by Larry Lagarde

For a limited time, buy a Mobiky Genius folding bike and get this great case for free! Now, you can transport your Mobiky folder as checked baggage when you fly.

I love the Mobiky - the style, the ride, the quick 'n easy folding and the fact that it rolls when folded. My one big pet peeve has been that there was no case available for transporting the bike when I travel. Sure, the Mobiky folding bike comes with a carry bag and you can purchase a heavily padded soft bag to carry it over your shoulder; however, my preference is to store or transport the Mobiky in a rolling suitcase with a telescoping handle. Now I can and so can you.

These are photos of a case I discovered that's ideal for the Mobiky. Simply unbolt the Mobiky's front wheel and it slides right into the case. Made of ballistic nylon, the case is reinforced with a light, hard, plastic liner; it has small, skateboard type rolling wheels and a telescopic handle that slides out with the push of a button and a soft tug.

Although not shown in the photos, you'll want to place packing material around the bike to protect it against scratches or damage. If you have them, I suggest using the packing materials that come with the bicycle. I also find that packing clothing around the bike (in plastic bags to keep the clothing clean) is an excellent choice when traveling. Three sides of the case zip open so it is very easy to insert the bike and surround it with packing.

Once you arrive at your destination, pull the bike from the case, bolt on the front wheel and ride away. That's a lot easier than pulling a Bike Friday out of it's suitcase... :-)

Get your Mobiky Folding Bike & FREE soft travel case today.


Friday, August 24, 2007

To Mexico & Back On A Folding Bike

Here's a true story I received from one of my customers that took their magnesium alloy folding bike across the border into Mexico.

After unpacking the bike and finally figuring out how to get air into the tires (I can't find any small air pumps that make a good connection on the valve), I took it out for a ride in the middle of the night. Wanted to test it on a nearby hill without traffic before I had to use it for real the following day for a trip into Mexico. Well, I cut through a school parking lot and a police car stopped me! I thought it was public property, but just being on school grounds at that hour made the officer suspicious. He acted tough but let me continue after I explained what I was doing and he did complement me on the nice bike.

About two weeks later, on a trip back from Mexico, I discovered I had left my car keys behind and I had to bike all the way back to the border AND across the city of San Luis R.C., Mexico (6 miles one way?). Only problems I encountered were an obnoxious dog and a sandy road for the last two blocks that the thin tires had trouble plowing through (many streets there are not paved). I'm sure glad I didn't have to hoof it on foot...don't know if I had money for a taxi.

So, the bottom line is that for the price, I'm very pleased in the bike's ability to be transported in my car and to carry me to my destination. One accessory that I'm looking for is a way to widen the carrier rack in back so I can carry a box or other bulky items with relative stability. I improvise using a clipboard and an assortment of bungee cords.

By the way, Mexican streets are treacherous at night! Pot holes, drain grills with slots parallel to line of travel, speed bumps, etc.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Photos - Cherry 1 Spd Ultralite Folding Bike

by Larry Lagarde

The Hip, Retro, Single Speed Ultralite Folding Bike

Back in the day, cycling wasn't about hurtling down a mountain goat path or the Tour d'France; it was about leisurely neighborhood rides with friends, bicycling to the park or beach, riding to the movie theater, grocery, post office or campground general store. With the Ultralite 1 speed folding bike, not only have those days returned; they're better. Here's why.

It's Comfortable
A unique feature of the Ultralite's diecast magnesium-aluminum frame is that it dampens road shock far better than unsuspended steel or aluminum bicycles. The Ultralite's upright riding position prevents your upper body from tiring because you're not forced to lean forward to grab the handlebars. Lastly, the seat's pillow like padding let's you keep riding when cyclists on other bikes are saddle sore.

It's Low Maintenance
One speed means no shifter, shifter cable, derailleur or gears to maintain. The Ultralite folding bike is highly resistant to rust; only the ball bearings and some other small parts are made from steel. With coaster brakes providing the stopping power, there are no brake pads to adjust or replace. Without brake pads, there are no unsightly brake levers or cables to wear out. Braking will no longer thin out or discolor your wheel rims either.

It's Light Yet Strong
At just 23 lbs, the Ultralite folding bike weighs less than most folding bikes, making it easier to pedal. Picking up the bike to place it in your trunk or carrying it up the stairs won't wear you out either. The sturdy, diecast magnesium-aluminum alloy frame allows the Ultralite folding bike to carry more than other folders too.

It's Practical
The Ultralite folding bike has quick releases on the seat post and handlebar tubes, allowing the bike to adjust to the size of the rider. The durable rear carry rack is great for shopping. The folding pedals let you walk beside the bike without bruising your leg; they also make the bike fold up tighter. Fenders prevent dirt from staining your clothes. The tires have raised center treads for riding with ease on the road as well as knobby outer treads for traction when riding off pavement.

It's Fun
Available only in cherry red color, the single speed Ultralite's carbon black tires and fenders are contrasted by gleaming alloy handlebars, seat post and crank arms. Combining this 60's era color scheme with the bike's pleasant, easy going style results in an eye catching ride that makes everyone smile - including you.

It's Affordable
The Ultralite 1 speed costs just $169 including shipping and handling (within the USA lower 48 states).

Simpler times have returned. Order a single speed Ultralite today.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Photos - Mango Ultralite Nexus Folding Bike

I finally had a moment to shoot these photos of the new, Mango colored Ultralite folding bike with the great Shimano Nexus 3 speed internal hub. The slideshow offers detailed text about the features displayed in each photo.

The diecast, magnesium-aluminum frame of this bike is made via high tech, German machinery and is x-rayed for quality. The result is a sturdy folding bike that weighs 23.5 lbs including the Nexus gear hub, carry rack & kickstand. Additionally, virtually all components of this bike are made of corrosion resistant alloys, making this a great folding bike for use in marine environments too.

Cost of this bike is just $209 including shipping (within the USA lower 48).

More about the Nexus 3 equipped Ultralite Folding Bike


Packing the Ultralite Folding Bike for Travel

by Larry Lagarde

This afternoon, a customer asked for advice regarding how to pack the 23 lb Kent Ultralite folding bike into a suitcase that meets the 62" dimension airline standard for checked baggage.

I use no name suitcases that are readily available from stores like Big Lots for anywhere from $30-75. I prefer plain, roller type suitcases with the pull out handles. My philosophy is: if it doesn't scream expensive, it's less likely to be pilfered (remember, TSA no longer allows locks on suitcases). I pack the bike with pipe insulation and zip ties that are readily available from any hardware store, Walmart, etc. Sometimes, a little cardboard comes in handy too.

The best way to size up a piece of luggage as a candidate for transporting your folding bike is to bring the bike to the luggage store. Tell the manager that you're looking for a suitcase that your bike will fit in and ask if it's okay to bring the folded bike in the store to find an appropriate suitcase. Since they're looking to make a sale, chances are that they'll say yes. If not, a reasonable alternative would be to fold your bike, set it on a piece of cardboard, trace the bike's outline, cut out the outline and take that into the store.

Depending on the suitcase you select, you may have to remove the front wheel (by unbolting 2 nuts) and/or one of the folding pedals. I also open the quick releases on the seat/seatpost tube & the handlebars and remove them, packing them with insulation too.

By the way, if transporting a bike on an airline, don't forget to check your tools, pocket knife, etc. I had mine in my carry on and the TSA agents confiscated them. :-(


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mobiky Folding Bike - Is it worth $699

by Larry Lagarde

I'm regularly asked (once or twice a week) whether the Mobiky Genius folding bike is worth plunking down $699. Since this is obviously on the minds of many considering a folder, here are some thoughts on the subject.

The Mobiky is a serious head turner. It looks like nothing else and it folds/unfolds with incredible speed. It's not as light as some other folders but it rolls when folded and rides well. You'll also be able to wheel it into most stores/businesses without getting hassled by management.

Ultimately, there are a variety of factors that will determine whether the Mobiky is right for you. If you plan on using it everyday, the bike can handle it but it doesn't have a carry rack (you'll need a backpack or to purchase an aftermarket carry rack or bike trailer that mounts to the seat post). You won't break any speed records on the Genius folder but it will get you where you need to go and can easily be carried aboard a bus or subway car. The Mobiky's 3 speed Sturmey Archer internal hub is quiet, sensibly geared and has a good performance record too.

The Mobiky comes with a soft carry case, rust free fenders a bike bell and a kickstand that holds the bike upright whether or not the bike is folded. It's easy to shrug off these features as minor; however, they all come in handy and demonstrate that the bike has been well thought out. You can also purchase a heavier weight, padded soft case but there has been no suitcase to use to transport the bike on a commercial flight - until now.

I've just identified a suitcase that will accommodate the Mobiky. It does require removing the front wheel but that's a minor inconvenience. I'll be writing about this and an aftermarket carry rack solution in coming weeks (Topeak's aluminum alloy, seat post mount carry racks accept far more weight than their rating suggests - look for more about this rack as I investigate further).

Mobiky has invested millions in the development of their folding bike. They're currently reviewing options to make the Genius even more user friendly (like offering internal hubs with more gears), demonstrating their on going commitment in the process.

Given what I know, the Mobiky is worth $699. Would I buy one? Yes.

More about the Mobiky | Mobiky folding bike YouTube video


Saturday, August 18, 2007

My Journey to TrailLink 2007

by Larry Lagarde

On Thursday, I returned from TrailLink 2007 to a pile of work. Now that I've made headway catching up, I wanted to take a breather and share some details about the trip [Photo below: panaroma of Portland, Oregon (click pic to enlarge)].

Portland Panaroma - click to enlarge (courtesy of Wikipedia user Cacaphony)
The conference was in Portland, Oregon but I flew into SeaTac (the big airport between Seattle & Tacoma). Montague's national distribution warehouse for their full size folding mountain bikes (like the Paratrooper and the new SwissBike line) is just 20 minutes from the airport so I made arrangements to pick up a bike to use on the journey.

Montague Paratrooper: the army recon folding bikeTo simplify things, my Montague rep had a Paratrooper folding bike delivered to a bike shop just 10 minutes south of the airport (Angle Lake Cyclery). As it turned out, the bike shop was catacorner from my hotel (the Best Western Airport Executel). To get the Paratrooper, I simply walked across the street (Pacific Hwy. South a.k.a. International Blvd).

While picking up the folding bike, I also bought Mr. Tuffy tire inserts and an alloy carry rack (QR Beam Rack MTX). I went next door to NAPA Auto Parts for some bright orange tie downs to use later to carry my luggage on the bike then returned to the hotel.

Best Western Executel's airport shuttle (hotel is behind the van)The newly renovated Best Western Executel (recommended) offered complimentary continental breakfast, Internet access & a computer room for guests. After eating, I checked the Amtrak Cascades schedule, mapped the train station's location, checked out & caught a ride on the hotel shuttle. The driver couldn't go all the way to the Amtrak depot but he helped me negotiate a $10 fare there.

Routemap - Amtrak CascadesThe "depot" was simply an open air platform. I didn't have a ticket so I called Amtrak & made a reservation. Although the schedule noted that the train had bike hooks, the reservations agent explained that the Cascade's special Talgo tilting passenger trains were temporarily offline and that no accommodations were available for standard size bicycles.

Paratrooper full size folding mountain bike in bag aboard AmtrakThank goodness I had the folding bike. I packed the Paratrooper into a Montague carry bag and boarded the train without trouble. The helpful conductor even carried my bagged folding bike into the passenger car.

Amtrak route along Puget SoundAlthough the train had been assembled the day before from old passenger cars sitting in Amtrak's L.A. boneyard, they were fine. The 3.5 hour journey was enjoyable (especially the section south from Tacoma alongside the shore of Puget Sound) and the train arrived ontime in Portland.

Paratrooper folding bike w/suitcase on rear carry rackI disembarked, walked through the impressive, beautifully restored train station's lobby and across the street to a pocket park where I entertained a family by unfolding & assembling the Paratrooper. Carefully, I lashed my suitcase onto the carry rack and biked across town, following the paved bike trail along the Willamette River almost the entire way to my hotel (the University Place) [Photo right: Paratrooper folding bike in front of the Amtrak station in Portland, Oregon].

Main entrance - University Place Hotel (Portland, Oregon)I checked into the University Place, rode my bike around to a rear entrance, walked the suitcase laden Paratrooper into the elevator (just barely fitting), pressed the button for the 3rd floor, walked to my room, leaned the bike just inside the door and settled in for the next several days.

Coming Next - The TrailLink Conference


Friday, August 17, 2007

Longleaf Trace Bike Trail - A History (Part 3)

By Herlon Pierce

From an Abandoned Railroad Line to a National Recreation Trail

Editor's Note: This is the third segment in a 3 part series on the history and development of the trail.

Longleaf Trace Bike TrailSince the trail's beginning, in addition to the extension to the University of Southern Mississippi, the district has added sixteen rest/rain nature stops along the length of the trail. A group primitive camping area, that includes a family/group picnic pavilion is now available adjacent to the trail in the community of Carson. An old beaver pond and the properties adjacent thereto, have been purchased for the eventual conversion to a recreational/educational center.

The old beaver pond was recently named the Denbury Beaver Pond in recognition of the financial support provided by Denbury Resources Inc, and their challenge to other corporate/business interests that has raised more than $30,000 for its impoundment and development. The center will include family picnic areas, camping, a horse corral, and most importantly, and outdoor classroom amphitheater type facility to be used for outdoor and nature educational programs in connection with the local schools and youth clubs.

Longleaf Trace Photo - Jefferson CountyThe Leaders of a New Century, Class of 2004, through their efforts, created funding support for the lighting of the Longleaf Trace from the Gateway at Southern Miss, west to the 7th Street/38th Ave, tunnel, a distance of 3/4 of a mile. This lighted portion of the trail will provide for an extended time for local trail users who might otherwise not have the opportunity to use the trail.

Recent and continuing improvements to the 22.5 mile equestrian trail will allow the addition of horse-drawn wagons. The first improved section is four miles in length and runs between Epley and Sumrall.

It is the intent of the district to improve the entire existing 22/12 mile equestrian mile to accommodate horse-drawn wagons and eventually extend the equestrian trail from Epley, east to the Denbury Beaver Pond. The Jerry Ryan Outdoor Complex, which will be an addition to the Gateway facility, located adjacent to the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, will provide a much needed group activity pavilion, an exercise warm-up area, and a small children's playground.

It is expected, after several delays, that the facility, which will be a memorial to Mr. Jerry Ryan, a local business owner, biking advocate, and untiring and original supporter of the Longleaf Trace, will be under construction during the next few months. This facility is made possible through memorial donations made by friends of Jerry, and a grant through the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

A group activity pavilion is planned for the Gateway at Prentiss and construction will be completed this year. This critically needed facility was made possible by a $10,000 donation from the Prentiss Lions Club, as a result of the untiring efforts of a few volunteers who promote two major annual events in the Town of Prentiss, the "Run for the Roses" and the "Birthday Challenge".

Longleaf Trace Photo - Trail Etiquette SignLoops of interest along the Longleaf Trace continue to be a discussion. These loops will be extensions into historic areas and other points of interest along the Longleaf Trace. The first loop of interest could be a loop interconnecting the Longleaf Trace and the Jeff Davis County Lake, near Prentiss, a loop of approximately 4 miles in length that will provide an additional destination point for out of area users as well as an additional recreational opportunity for the users of the Jeff Davis Lake.

The extension of the Longleaf Trace from its gateway at the University of Southern Mississippi to Bouie Street in downtown Hattiesburg is in the early design stages, as the right of way has now been purchased and environmental concerns are being addressed. It is expected this addition will include not only a biking/hiking/blading trail, but will provide an area for trolley buses for access to and from the University of Southern Mississippi and downtown Hattiesburg.

The Longleaf Trace is a work in progress and with the continued support of our many local individual/business/corporate sponsors, the trace will maintain its status as one of the best in the United States, and will continue to provide an improved quality of life for our local users and provide growing economic benefits to our communities.

Herlon Pierce is the Executive Director/Trail Manager of the Pearl & Leaf Rivers Rails-to-Trails Recreational District. Mr Pierce can be reached at (601) 450-BIKE (2453). For more information on the Longleaf Trace, visit LongLeafTrace.org.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reasons For Funding Bike Trails

by Larry Lagarde

US DOT Secretary Mary PetersWhile President Bush may be an avid bicyclist, the Bush administration takes a dim view on federal funding for bike trails. For a recent example, just listen to DOT Secretary Mary Peter's attack on bike trails this week on the PBS NewsHour with Jim Leher.

Responding to questions from NewsHour reporter Gwen Ifill, Peters labeled bike trail funding as an example of wasteful spending by Congress and a reason why gas taxes should not be increased. Following are some additional, highly suspect comments by Mary Peters:

... Roadway congestion is increasing because "we're not putting money in the right places."
... Most of the 6000 earmarks included in SAFETEA-LU (the federal highway bill passed in 2005) were for "museums, bike paths, trails, repairing lighthouses," not highway infrastructure.
... 10-20% of transportation funding is inappropriate.
... Funding bike trails is not directly related to transportation and is thus an inappropriate use of federal funding.

Though it will probably mean very little to an '06 Bush Cabinet appointee like Mary Peters, I could not let her comments go in good conscience. I wrote this short note and sent it to her through an email form available from the League of American Bicyclists. Here's what I wrote:

I am a listener to the PBS NewsHour with Jim Leher. I heard your interview and was disappointed and surprised by your characterization of bike path funding as part of the highway infrastructure funding problem.

In your interview this week with Gwen Ifill, you stated that roadway congestion is increasing because "we're not putting money in the right places." Although congestion is a very real problem, the reasons for congestion are ballooning usage and inadequate funding. From 1970 to 2003, vehicle travel on America's highways increased by 161%; yet, new road mileage grew by only 6%.

With 36% of America's urban roads congested, 34% in poor condition and 27% of our bridges structurally deficient, throwing $200-300 billion annually at roadway transportation will not fix the problem. Urban partnerships are a good start but we must fund infrastructure that encourages more Americans to embrace transportation alternatives like mass transit, carpooling and multi-modal solutions including biking and walking.

As to bike paths, contrary to your comments, funding for facilities such as bike paths is related to transportation and does decrease congestion. In cities such as Portland, OR, Minneapolis, MN or Davis, CA, urban bike facility networks have resulted in record use of bicycles for commuting (20-27%).

Safe & smart bikeway networks have been found to decrease traffic congestion, reduce crime, spur urban renewal, improve health and boost household disposable income. I encourage you to rethink your stance on facilities like bike trails; they are an appropriate use of gas tax funding.

Larry Lagarde
Vice President
Friends of the Lafitte Corridor
URL: folc-nola.org
Ph: 504-324-2492
For the complete PBS interview, an mp3 file of the interview is available at PBS.org. To send DOT Secretary Peters an email, visit the form at the League of American Bicyclists.


Back From TrailLink 2007

Just wanted everyone to know that I've returned safely from TrailLink 2007.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of catching up to do regarding shipping orders, corresponding, returning voicemails, etc. Additionally, I have product reviews and photos to post from the trip so it's going to take a few days to catch up. I do want to share this though; the conference was amazing.

I learned about existing and coming bicycling projects from across the nation as well as studies and facts about bicycle usage. Clearly, cycling is emerging as a true transportation alternative in the USA. There is a long way to go; however, with the rising economic and environmental costs of burning fossil fuels, communities that encourage active transportation by making it easier to walk, bike & use mass transit (like Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City or Portland, Oregon) will thrive while others stagnate.



Longleaf Trace Bike Trail - A History (Part 2)

By Herlon Pierce

From an Abandoned Railroad Line to a National Recreation Trail

Editor's Note: This is the second segment in a 3 part series on the history and development of the trail.

Long Leaf Trace Rail TrailThrough the efforts of Mr. James Moore, and a team of dedicated local supporters, the much needed support of the corporate/business community was solicited, and was met with great success. More than $150,000 was quickly raised from sponsorships, donations, and etc. for the early needed funding support for the purchase of the right of way and the eventual construction of the multi-purpose recreational trail, to be known as the Longleaf Trace.

By 1994, the rights of way of the old line had been purchased from west Hattiesburg to Prentiss, a distance of some 39 miles, the Mississippi State Legislature had passed a bill authorizing the creation of local recreational districts and the Pearl & Leaf Rivers Rails-to-Trails Recreational District was created. The legislation creating the district provided for a one-quarter (.25) mill tax levy on all taxable property in the counties and municipalities who could, by joint resolution, become members of the district.

The one-quarter (.25) mill was provided for the development, support, and maintenance of the district and its facilities. The counties of Forrest, Jefferson Davis, and Lamar, along with the city of Hattiesburg and the towns of Bassfield, Prentiss, and Sumrall became a part of the district through a joint resolution.

A master plan for the development of the Longleaf Trace and the design of the first phase was completed in 1999. A grant from the Federal Highway Administration administered through the Mississippi Department of Transportation, totaling approximately 2.8 million dollars was secured and construction was begun in February 1999 on the first 39 mile stretch. To the satisfaction of the founders, community leaders, and local advocates and supporters who so willingly gave their time, effort, and money, the Longleaf Trace was finally completed, dedicated and opened for use in September 2000.

Longleaf Trace Trail Gateway - Southern Miss UniversityThe Longleaf Trace was an instant success as it joined approximately 1000 other rails to trails conversions throughout the United States. In 2003, a two + mile extension of the trail was made extending the trail east to near US Highway 49 and adjacent to the University of Southern Miss campus. The extension included the development of the Gateway facility adjacent to the University that houses the district's administrative offices, board of director's meeting room, bicycle rental/souvenir shop, and a group/business meeting room.

Since its opening, approximately 400,000 users have enjoyed a trip along the Longleaf Trace and through its natural pristine setting, while enjoying the splendor of South Mississippi's outdoors. Users have come from every state in the United States as well as from a number of foreign countries. In only its third year, in June of 2004, the Longleaf Trace was awarded the prestigious National Recreational Trail designation. In fact, the Longleaf Trace was awarded this designation more quickly than any other known national recreational trail that is not federally owned and operated, and is listed along with the numerous and prestigious national recreational parks in the United States.

Longleaf Trace Bike Trail - A History (Part 3)

Herlon Pierce is the Executive Director/Trail Manager of the Pearl & Leaf Rivers Rails-to-Trails Recreational District. Mr Pierce can be reached at (601) 450-BIKE (2453). For more information on the Longleaf Trace, visit LongLeafTrace.org.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Longleaf Trace Bike Trail - A History

By Herlon Pierce

From an Abandoned Railroad Line to a National Recreation Trail

Editor's Note: This is the first segment in a 3 part series on the history and development of the trail.

Longleaf Trace Bike TrailIn 1991, the Canadian National Railroad, who had gained ownership of the old Illinois Central Gulf Railroad from Hattiesburg (Mississippi), west to Prentiss and beyond, issued an abandonment notice for that portion of the line from west Hattiesburg to the town of Bassfield. This announcement came after a decade of non-use, and during that period, the old line had rapidly deteriorated to a state of disrepair, and the line was no longer usable.

The old trestles and railroad cross ties had begun to rot away and the right of way was becoming more and more overgrown with vegetative growth to include trees. Along with the deterioration came abuse, that included the theft of portions of the slag base, removal and theft of cross-ties, and in some cases, the old railroad tracks themselves. In many cases, the former railroad became a favorite dumping site for unwanted trash and garbage that included old building materials, abandoned vehicles, old tires, and household garbage.

In spite of these conditions, local community leaders and elected officials immediately mobilized an aggressive effort to fight the abandonment, as it was their continuing belief that at some point in the future, the old line would again play an important part in the economy of their communities. They quickly learned that their effort would be futile, and turned their attention to developing an economically feasible alternative use of the old line, and the eventual procurement of the old railroad line between Hattiesburg and Prentiss.

Longleaf Trace Trail MapTo their joy, it was discovered that funding was available to the United States Department of Transportation through the Interstate Transportation Enhancement Act (ITEA) that could be used for the conversion of old and abandoned railroad lines to greenways and multipurpose recreational trails. Thus, the beginning of the Longleaf Trace was conceived.
(Image right: Longleaf Trail Map - click to enlarge)

Through the quick and determined efforts of those who since have been recognized as founders, namely Mr. Lynn Cartlidge, then President of Forrest County Board of Supervisors; Attorney Stone Barefield, former state legislator and retired attorney for Forrest County; Mr. Bobby J. Garraway, a railroad enthusiast, local attorney and attorney for the Town of Bassfield; Mr. Ronnie Shows, former state legislator and then Mississippi Highway Commissioner of the Southern District; and Mr. James Moore, local bicycle shop owner and advocate, the conversion was begun.

Longleaf Trace Bike Trail - A History (Part 2)

Herlon Pierce is the Executive Director/Trail Manager of the Pearl & Leaf Rivers Rails-to-Trails Recreational District. Mr Pierce can be reached at (601) 450-BIKE (2453). For more information on the Longleaf Trace, visit LongLeafTrace.org.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Ultralite Folding Bike Availability Update

Thanks everyone for your interest in the new Ultralite folding bike models shown in yesterday's video. I've been testing the prototypes in the video for over a month and they are awesome.

The first shipment of these folding bikes has arrived; however, due to a delivery snafu, I do not foresee shipping bikes to customers until the week of August 20th. Since quantities are limited and there is strong interest, I will be accepting deposits for the bikes until they arrive in New Jersey and have been checked into inventory. The deposit is $40/bike and must be paid via the website.

Once the bikes are in inventory, everyone that has submitted a deposit will receive an invoice for the balance. When your balance due has been settled, your bike will ship.

I've never requested a deposit before but demand is strong and I expect the bikes to sell briskly. Frankly, it's more work on my end; however, I need to identify bonafide orders yet refuse to accept full payment until the bikes are ready for delivery to you.

To place your deposit, go to the main folding bike page on RideTHISbike.com and click on the link for the Kent Ultralite folding bike that you want. The order pages for all 3 bikes go live tomorrow.


Mississippi's Long Leaf Trace Bike Trail

by Larry Lagarde

Several months ago, I interviewed Herlon Pierce, the executive director and trail manager of the Long Leaf Trace (LLT). Along with several other outstanding rail trails & bikeways (such as the Chief Ladiga, Silver Comet and more), a trailhead for the LLT begins near a stop on the Crescent, (the Amtrak train that runs from New Orleans to New York City), making it possible to pedal a series of rail trails in one vacation - all via the Crescent.

With word that new construction would finally make the Chief Ladiga & Silver Comet into 1 seemless, paved, interstate bike trail, I was ready to book my travel on the Crescent and do some trail riding. Unfortunately, delays and detours (such as a new Georgia DOT bridge project over the Silver Comet) have pushed back to early in 2008 the ceremony and group ride marking the connection of the Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet trails. Rather than wait until then to do all the rides, I've decided to bike the Long Leaf Trace as soon as temperatures here in the Deep South become a little cooler.

Considering my upcoming ride on the Long Leaf Trace and participation this week at the TrailLink 2007 bike trail conference, I could think of no better time to share an account of the development of the LLT from the man that has shepherded the trail from early on - Herlon Pierce. The story will appear as a multi-part series with publication of the first segment tomorrow. I hope you enjoy it.

Longleaf Trace Bike Trail - A History by Herlon Pierce


Sunday, August 05, 2007

New 2007 Ultralite Folding Bike Models

Visible below is a video I shot this evening of the 3 new 2007 folding bike models from Kent International. Two of the models in the video are a RideTHISbike.com exclusive. Coming soon: additional videos of these folding bikes in action.


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Saturday, August 04, 2007

America's Roads & Bridges - Key Facts

by Larry Lagarde

2001 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Graph -  Consumer ExpendituresTravel by motor vehicle is causing a growing crisis in the USA. Traffic congestion and poor road conditions continue to persist despite record spending on highways. In the process, transportation spending is dramatically & unfairly consuming the budgets of America's poor.

According to TRIP, a nonprofit organization that promotes the construction of roadways and bridges, the following roadway statistics were assembled from data compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Texas Transportation Institute. Many of the facts listed below were used by Congress as talking points to pass SAFETEA-LU.

Key Facts About America's Road & Bridge Conditions

* Poor roadway conditions cost U.S. motorists $54 billion/year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs - $275/motorist.

* Traffic congestion costs American motorists over $63 billion/year in time lost and fuel costs.

* Americans spend over 3.5 billion hours/year stuck in traffic.

* Motor vehicle crashes cost U.S. citizens $230 billion/year for medical expenses, lost productivity, travel delays, workplace costs, insurance costs and legal costs - $819/citizen.

* 34% of America's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

* 27% of America's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

* 36% of America's major urban roads are congested.

* 88% of all person miles of travel comes from private motor vehicles (just 8% comes from air travel & 1% from mass transit).

* Vehicle travel on America's highways increased 161% from 1970 to 2003 (while US population grew by 43% & new road mileage grew 6%).

Bar Graph - American household costsAn Unsustainable Model
Suburban sprawl is sapping America's strength. In 2001, it was estimated that roughly 20% of average American household spending was going to transportation. Since then, increases in the cost of fuel have significantly increased American transportation costs, further pinching the ability of the poor to meet their daily needs.

Somehow, more funding must be dedicated to improving maintenance of existing roadways, improving alternative transportation options and rebuilding urban America. Otherwise, future man-made catastrophes such as the I-35W bridge collapse are bound to be repeated.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

I-35W Bridge Collapse & Katrina

by Larry Lagarde

I-35W Bridge Collapse & Katrina: Signs of a Superpower's Weakness?

New Orleans and Minneapolis are two major American cities connected by the Mississippi River. Sadly, that connection is now even greater with the collapse Wednesday evening of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.

Just as authorities have long been aware that the Interstate 35 West bridge over the Mississippi had structural problems, so too had authorities known of shoddy construction of the hurricane protection levees surrounding New Orleans. Both of these man-made catastrophes resulted in the death of American citizens.

Be it a hurricane protection levee or interstate bridge, when American taxpayers/voters authorize a federal building project, we expect that project to be built and maintained properly. According to a story published today in the Washington Post (Collapse Spotlights Weaknesses in U.S. Infrastructure), that's not happening.

President Bush's French Quarter Hurricane Katrina SpeechAt a time when every state department of transportation is attempting to meet a federal mandate to slash transportation projects, it is inappropriate for U.S. transportation secretary Mary Peters to urge every state to inspect all steel arch truss bridges immediately without providing dollars to pay for the work. Nor is it appropriate for President Bush to fly down to New Orleans 2 weeks after Hurricane Katrina, stand in front of St. Louis Cathedral and pledge ...
we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives
and ...
Federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems. Our goal is to get the work done quickly
and ...
When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm.
... yet veto key programs and hamstring funds that would do so.

Ultimately, spending on most public works projects in the USA comes from politicians. New projects are equated with progress (the results are also easier for voters to see) so it's easier for politicians to support building something new rather than maintaining something already in place.

The United States is the world's great superpower. Until we as a nation pressure our leaders to be proactive with our public infrastructure and dedicate substantial resources to planning for future needs, Americans will continue to suffer needlessly from major, man-made catastrophes like these.

Tomorrow: America's Roads & Bridges - Key Facts


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Paratrooper To Pull A Nomad

When most people fly somewhere within the USA, they rent a car to get around. Well, when I attend TrailLink 2007 next week in Portland, Oregon, I'll have some new wheels too; however, mine won't guzzle fossil fuel for propulsion. Instead, I'll be pushing the pedals of a modern bicycle designed to transport Marines and Special Ops personnel safely and quietly across hostile enemy terrain - the Montague Paratrooper full size folding mountain bike.

With it's beefy aluminum frame and quality components, city streets are no match for the Paratrooper. In fact, this is a mountain bike that begs to be let loose on single track.

Hopefully, I'll find some nice, long bike trails to explore with the Paratrooper. And when I do, I'll have my own lodging in tow - a brand new Nomad bicycle RV tent n' trailer combo courtesy of Tony Hoar at Tony's Trailers.

Tony and I have been talking and corresponding about the Nomad since Hurricane Katrina. At the time, Tony was working on a trailer that could house homeless persons at night and provide a means for them to haul or contain their possessions during the day.

Katrina caused tremendous homelessness in the New Orleans region (a problem that persists to this day) so I contacted Tony about his homeless trailer. Sadly, the value of a pop-up bike trailer as a short term, post-catastrophe emergency shelter didn't register with the suits. On the other hand, long distance touring cyclists loved the concept; hence, the Nomad.

Naturally, I'll be reviewing the Nomad, shooting photos & video for your viewing pleasure. I'll share what it's like to sleep in this bicycle RV and pull it down the road too. It will be interesting to see what sparks more conversations: my "Be a FOLC Hero" t-shirt or the tent on wheels hooked up to a bicycle...

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

New Folding Bikes

New Single Speed 16", Nexus 3 Spd, 20" & Prototypes Coming

Surging folding bike sales this year have been exhausting supplies faster than manufacturers can make more but that the situation is improving.

Aerlite & Ultralites
Although Aerlites are now on long term back order (no sooner than Spring 2007), we'll soon have a large number of the economical, diecast magnesium-aluminum alloy folding bikes from Kent. Better yet, the Kent folders will now come in 3 models - a red single speed, the gray 6 spd w/derailleur & a mango 3 speed with the quiet, smooth & efficient Shimano Nexus internal hub.

Starlite & Prototypes
Also, we're introducing a new aluminum folding bike from Belize Bicycle - the PortaBike Starlite (a 25.5 lb folder that comes in either blue or red). All these developments are coming as I prepare to join 250 other cycling advocates from across the nation, Canada & Australia at TrailLink 2007 (an annual conference promoting the development of bike trails, paths & routes) and as two sub-20 lb, prototype, micro folding bikes are coming down the pike for me to review. Whew!

As you can imagine, taking in all these new developments and managing everything else (including kids starting school soon) is making my head spin so please be patient as I add info online about the new models. For the moment, at least you can find basic info about them on the main folding bike page.



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