Good Reads : Week of 3 January 2016

Bicycling Magazine Public Service Article

Just because you woke up hungover doesn’t mean you should skip your ride. In fact, a ride might be just what the doctor—specifically, sports medicine expert Dr. Michael Ross—ordered. To head out the door without feeling completely awful, follow these tips.

Go Simple and Complex… Carb-Wise

While we tend to consider greasy breakfast sandwiches and tons of coffee ‘hangover food,’ the best option is actually a combination of complex and simple carbohydrates. Think meals like oatmeal with a bit of maple syrup and berries, suggests Ross. Alcohol increases insulin secretion, which causes low blood sugar—meaning that even if you’re skipping the sugary drinks for shots of tequila, booze will still mess with your system. The food won’t help you ‘soak up the alcohol,’ but it will help your blood sugar get back to normal, pre-alcohol levels.

Easy Pace, High Cadence

Ross explains that drinking also causes lactic acid buildup, which gives you that post-century concrete-legs feeling before you’ve gotten out the door. To combat this, he suggests keeping your pace easy but your cadence high, which flushes the lactic acid out of your legs. After a few minutes, you should start to feel more like your old self.

RELATED: How Does Alcohol Affect Your Ride?

Skip Your Intervals

One thing you should skip: intervals. Ross doesn’t recommend doing any hard training efforts as you work through the head- and stomachache that come from being hungover. Your body is already working hard to recover, and you could compromise your immune system even more by pushing yourself through those VO2 max intervals. If you hate to skip a workout, consider doing a super-easy ride in the morning to help your body regain equilibrium, and save the hard efforts for later in the day, once you’ve eaten, rehydrated, and recovered.

Hydrate Smart

Speaking of hydration, starting the day with plenty of water (and electrolytes) can work wonders to get you back to status quo. “My advice would be to get out there and work out,” says Cycle-Smart coach Shawn Adams. But before you head out the door, start your ride with a full water bottle (or two). “Make sure that you get back to rehydrated before the training and drink extra—with electrolytes—on the ride,” he says.

Relieve Pain

Ross recommends ibuprofen or naproxen if you’re feeling truly crappy when you wake up. Take a normal dose, but give it time to go into effect before you head out the door. And hydrate plenty—if you skip water while riding on painkillers, you run the risk of overworking your kidneys. For stomach trouble, taking antacids is also fine, Ross adds. But he stresses that using painkillers before rides should never become habit: Overuse can impair kidney function, and it can also hide the ache from other recurring issues, eventually exacerbating them.

RELATED: Does Happy Hour Hurt Performance?

Just Pedal

While feeling a little under the weather after a night of partying can make you feel like lying on the couch while binge-watching TV, you’ll feel a lot better if you go for a ride. The fresh air and sunshine can snap you back to being a normal, pleasant human being. “My vast experience with this is that the first 30 minutes or so are rough, then you usually feel better,” Adams says. But he adds one caveat: If you’re still intoxicated when you wake up, stay off the bike until you’ve sobered up.

Wear Sunglasses

A hangover can make direct sunlight feel like your skull is burning, so take this ride as a chance to rock a stylish cycling cap and the darkest lenses you have.

So the question is would you want the pilot of your airliner to adhere to this sort of regimen to deal with his hangover. Should the cops on whose beat your home is situated be allowed to deal with their hangovers while on duty? And how about those brain surgeons or heart transplant specialists who will operate on your parent or child. Do they get to follow these kinds of rules? Or do you think they should abstain?

Finally, is this kind of advice good for automobile drivers to follow? And think about whether you want to be on the road with a sobering driver right behind. Now ask yourself why a bicycling magazine ever bothered to publish something like this?

Do the cyclists killed by a driver who religiously follows these kinds of rules get a pass when it comes to erecting a ghost bike on the site of his latest victim? Why are we so very hard on others who drink and drive and then we give ourselves this kind of advice?

As we exit another season of goodwill and enter the even shorter season of “resolutions”—weight loss, organizing our pads and saving money—there is also a sense that we can and should do more to make Chicago, the place we call home, a better place for all to live.

After all, we see almost daily headlines about crisis, people in need in our city, the historic racial and socioeconomic drivers that have gotten us to this place, and we wonder, “Is there a solution?” and “What can I do about it?”

So instead of looking at reports and data—the ones we’ve already read about—we did some soul-searching and reached out to fellow Chicagoans to get their take on making the city we live in a better place to live, work and play.

The wheel power to change

“Chicago and really the world at large would be a much better place if people rode bikes to get around. I think if you have a bicycle you can be part of that,” said Alex Wilson, 45, founder and executive director of West Town Bikes, a nonprofit focused on promoting cycling.

His organization offers free bike programs to more than 1,000 youth [per year on bike maintenance and repair, safe cycling, health and wellness, and environmental and social responsibility. For example, the organization started an after-school program with six schools near The 606 path to introduce them to biking in the neighborhood and to help instill a sense of ownership of the trail.

Wilson uses bikes as a tool to help build community and teach a lesson on how to accomplish goals by taking simple steps. If children are taught to fix and ride bikes, they can ride to school or have a job opportunity, he said. They go on field trips riding to colleges and universities, exposing students to different campuses that are accessible.

Cyclists can discover the city in ways they wouldn’t otherwise if driving a car, he said. They might choose a more comfortable route than the fastest and shortest way.

“If I’m on a bike, I’m more likely, more prone to get off the beaten path and go more deeply into Chicago neighborhoods,” Wilson said.

Listen up

“Go out, start a conversation with someone who you think is completely different from you and, most importantly, listen,” said Bear Bellinger, an actor and bartender who calls Logan Square home.

Chicago “prides itself on being a city of neighborhoods” and a place where we can “find our niche,” he said.

“The drawback is that it sometimes makes us forget how to interact and empathize with those whose lives don’t match up neatly with our own. We can insulate ourselves with like-minded people,” he said. “You’re a pharma-bro from Wrigley? Ask the Latina grandma if she needs help getting her groceries inside and how long she’s lived in the city. … You’re a Logan Square hipster? Boystown all-star? Strike up a conversation with the annoying dude on the ‘L’ playing his music for everyone to hear. What’s he listening to? What does he like about it? Why does he want everyone to hear it? Get to know the different people around you who we all overlook on a daily basis.”

Truck it

Restaurateur and beer brewer Greg Shuff thinks Chicago could be better with less restrictive food truck laws, allowing small businesses to flourish.

“I’m very much a free market kind of guy, and I hate to see restriction put in the way of potential innovation,” said Shuff, 28, of Lakeview and owner of the newly opened Corridor, a farmhouse ales focused brewpub. He doesn’t buy into the argument that food trucks have advantages that could threaten brick-and-mortar establishments. “I think if a food truck can put me out of business, I was about to go out of business anyway. It’s a cool avenue to deliver food to people, especially the folks who work in the downtown areas.”

He also bikes quite a bit and thinks the city should have a more fluid process for adding bicycle parking. “Car parking is always going to be a challenge, so there’s a lot of conversation about [biking more]. We should not restrict resources to accommodate that.”

Brew kindness

Gabriel Magliaro, co-founder of Half Acre Beer Company, has been serving Chicago on the beer front since 2006. He says giving back to the community is important to him, and earlier this year he collaborated with his alma mater, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, on a 150th anniversary beer.

The 37-year-old Ravenswood Gardens resident has simple advice about how we can make Chicago a better place to live: “Take it easy, be decent to each other, don’t get lost in your own bullshit and a little buzz is a real good thing.”

Think green

“Medical marijuana in all forms, but especially edibles, is like the new Robitussin or Advil,” pastry chef and HotChocolate owner Mindy Segal said.

Though sweet treats are a good start to boosting spirits, the James Beard Award winner and author of “Cookie Love,” published earlier this year, announced this month that she’s agreed to create a cannabis-infused edibles line for medical marijuana patients for Cresco Labs.

“We can make Chicago better by providing a really great, consistent product for people that are sick and need to feel better through medical marijuana edibles,” Segal said. “But how we really can make Chicago better is by legalizing marijuana and using the tax money to get the city and the state out of debt.” Preach, sister.

The Chicago skyline seen from Diversey Harbor as the sun rises (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

Pie In The Sky Thinking

I read the article with a great deal of anticipation that I would read and learn something new. What I found disappointing was that there is still a very honest and genuine heart in Liberalism that lacks the imagination to understand that teaching someone to fish is far more important than giving them a fish.

Anyone who thinks that the Bloomingdale 606 Trail is a great idea should consider what that $100M could have done to spur business ownership in the neighborhoods-of-color.

Of what lasting value is teaching a person to bike on the 606 Trail when they are not empowered? Sometimes we act as thought being kind to ‘poor folks‘ is enough. It is absolutely is not.

What will indeed make the city a place for ‘all of us‘ is having a way to empower those who have no power. And the quickest way to make that happen is to help them gain the skills to build businesses.

Right now in most major cities the most concrete and valuable business training is coming from membership in street gangs. Why is that?

Since When Did An American Become The ‘Father Of Bike Lanes’?

For our December interview with Gabe Klein, the former District transportation chief who oversaw the creation of Capital Bikeshare, we photographed him sitting on one of the program’s signature red bikes. The published image was as controversial as anything Klein said about ridding apartment buildings of parking spaces or how to fix Metro.

Reader Peter Everett e-mailed us about “the glaring lack of any helmet worn by Gabe Klein while jauntily sitting on a bike.” Everett, a personal-injury lawyer in Fairfax, reminded us that helmets “are critical in preventing and ameliorating the impacts of head injuries from bicycle accidents” and—perhaps noting that Klein cuts a rather hip figure for a transit official—added: “I’d hope this public-health imperative would trump fashion.”

Since when did we begin the ‘religious practice‘ of declaring Gabe Klein as ‘Father‘ of ‘bike lanes‘? I guess you have to be a Fundamentalist in the Church of Urban Cycling to understand how this transpired.

So does this mean that the arrogance of groups like the Active Transportation Alliance will give way to this proclamation that helmets are not inspired of God? Will their fundraising rides of 2016 be helmet-less?

And as others have observed it seems that salmoning is falling by the wayside as a ‘no-no‘ when the Father of Bike Lanes can do it too. Heck, it must be time for the FBL to pronounce that stopping for the STOP sign and RED LIGHT are no longer blessed events on his calendar. So we are perhaps free to ‘do our own thing‘?

I need a drink!

Teaching Drunk ‘Driving’ Skills

Earlier last week the people from Bicycling Magazine took on the timely topic of learning to bike while suffering from a hangover.

Scroll to the top of this blog entry to read more.

This sort of thing happens whenever people who should know better decide that their personal motto should be:

Beer Is Still The Answer

I know of at least one bicycle club that is headed by an individual for whom this is a heartfelt belief. In many ways committed drinkers are a bit like those who support the right to bear arms:

But as we all know allowing something is often made troublesome when humans ‘overreach‘. We sometimes regret that having a gun in our homes means that we should have had the weapon under lock and key to avoid having a child in that home do damage to themselves and perhaps others out of ignorance of how deadly a gun can be.

Alcohol is no different. You can drink until you are fall down drunk and then have the bright idea to go home and ‘sleep it off‘. Or as our young friends in the canoe in Wisconsin we feel invincible and dare to try and paddle around in the darkness in water which is so cold that hypothermia would kill us if we could capsized the canoe and were submerged up to our necks in it for a few minutes.

We Need To ‘Arm’ Drunk Drivers With Valuable Skills

I have made the mistake in the recent past of trying to discourage alcohol use in social settings where the participants have to get out on the roadways of America in a ‘buzzed‘ state or worse.

But the reality is that the entire Urban Cycling Movement and its suburban counterparts are pretty avid drinkers. And like most humans what happens when one segment of the transportation landscape drinks to excess is thought to be unlikely to happen to us. So we drink and then frown when we learn that drivers of automobiles over-imbibed and got into a collision.

But we are not going to be able to get people to avoid drinking and getting back on the road. That we know is a waste of time. So the next level of defense against deadly crashes on the streets of our cities is to teach people how to operate a vehicle of any sort while ‘blind drunk‘.

The problem with drinking is that you cannot trust the drinker to know when they have had enough. Nobody really understands just how inebriated they really are because the tool we use for measurement purposes (the brain) is compromised by the use of alcohol. So we need to find a way to train people whose brains are compromised to the worst degree, how to get home safely under those conditions.

I am suggesting that unless we have training in how to operate our bikes and cars while impaired more deaths and injuries are going to continue to occur. We know that many of the skills that one needs to know when doing any off-road driving or bicycling differ from those needed to ply streets. So perhaps we need to enlist teachers who help train off-road drivers and bikers how to anticipate the difficulties they are going to encounter in off-road conditions, how to drink and drive.

Our national bicycle community (League of American Bicyclists) should probably ‘lead the charge‘ for the cycling community. Why not turn those fundraising dine and drink gatherings into an opportunity to drink to wild excess and then run obstacle courses which simulate how easily the participants will be able to either bike their way home or better yet drive their cars.

Maybe would could agree to make the month of April the ‘Learn to Drink and Drive‘ month. Since beer and wine seem to be the drinks of choice for most bicyclists and their motoring counterparts, the brewers and vineyard owners of America should help sponsor these events. We could help these entrepreneurs sell their product in support of a very good cause.

What do you think? All we need now are skilled teachers who can help us get drunk and then teach us to operate our vehicles while trying to get home or better yet to the next pub in the crawl.

Transforming Club Meetings and Group Rides

Sometimes bicycle clubs have a great deal of difficulty in getting people to turn out for meetings during the winter months. Or for that matter during the warmer ones as well. Why not have people arrive with beer and wine ‘in hand‘ and get thoroughly blotto before beginning their rides/drives home? While they are getting souses you could run movie videos on the skills needed to get home safely.

Quite often clubs invite speakers to regale their membership. Why not have there folks develop information that can be shared at a drunken club meeting and let folks practice these ‘tips and tricks‘ while getting home.

In fact it seems to me that there should be different levels of awards given for the various mileage badges that people earn during a year. Why not have awards for these same distances done while legally drunk? This would separate those with mere skills as sober cyclists from the more gifted drunken cyclists.

To help inspire people who might not understand the necessity of developing bicycle operating skills while drunk you could always invite those who may have lost a limb during a crash while biking home drunk. Let those in the club see how easily they can avoid this loss of limb by simply practicing those skills learned while sober.

LaidBack Bike Report

How Can Bike-Related Businesses Be Failing In A Reported Bicycle Boom?

The Bike Commuter, a neighborhood bike shop that has served the Sellwood area since 2010, is closing its doors.

The Bike Commuter was a family-friendly, neighborhood bike shop owned by Eric and Naihma Deady. When it opened in January 2010, the shop was located at SE 13th and Umatilla on the main bikeway that took people from the Springwater on the Willamette to the Springwater Corridor.

10 months after opening, the shop moved a few doors down. Then in the summer of 2014, they made a major move into a much larger space at SE Clatsop and 17th. Along with more space the Deady’s aimed to make the store a “cycle lounge” with beer, music and community events.

Eric Deady posted news about the closing to the shop’s Facebook page on January 2nd. Reached via email, Deady told me he’s simply ready for a new adventure. “I’m closing mostly because I just have itchy feet,” he wrote. “I don’t want to stagnate, or get too settled in my career. I’m ready to see what else is out there for me. I’ll miss the people, and ‘my sanctuary’, but I’m ready for a change!”

Deady plans to take a few months off and see where he ends up, which might — or might not — be in the bike industry.

But before then, there’s a sale to be had. The Bike Commuter will be open for another month or so until all remaining inventory is gone. Everything in the store is 50 percent off, and pints of local beers are $3 “until the kegs are gone!”.

The closing of The Bike Commuter leaves Sellwood Cycle Repair (7953 SE 13th) as the only remaining shop in the area.

The Bike Commuter at SE 17th and Clatsop.

Let’s face it. Something smells fishy to me. Here in Chicago we have bicycle businesses that are failing as well. Now this owner of this business is probably trying to convince himself that his lack of enthusiasm for that particular business was the cause of his ‘walking away‘.

But given the major effort that has to be made to get a new business up on its feet, it seems difficult to take him seriously. You really don’t have the strength or energy to walk away from one business to start another, unless of course you made so much money from the first that you want to take some time to think over what sorts of new challenges you could tackle.

The reflection is not of failure on the part of any of these bike shop owners. It is instead a reflection of failure on the part of the bicycling community. They are simply too cheap to bother to keep their bikes tuned and properly maintained. And while they often cry ‘poor mouth‘ there never seems to be a shortage of money for booze and weed.

So how on earth did this guy’s business not succeed? My guess is that the Urban Cycling Community is experiencing what my generation did when the Hippie Culture grew passé and the leadership/membership began to age.

The European Bicycling Style Is Much Easier To Maintain

The Dutch and Danes have it right. You ride slowly enough that you really cannot sweat and you use a clunky bike that can withstand lots of ‘wear and tear‘. But it is not certain that bike shops in either country do better (financially) than their automobile servicing/sales counterparts.

Peninsula Park. (Photo by James Rohl)

With age comes the inability to put up with cold blustery winters without having to resort ‘artificial‘ means of maintaining enthusiasm. When it comes to ‘rallying the troops‘ media reports nothing works as well as a photo-op wrapped in an article. Nothing speaks absurdity like using a bike to pull a sled. Come on guys!

More Proud Moments For Chicago

Bike Lane Maintenance Issues

In general, protected bike lanes are great for encouraging “interested-but-concerned” folks to try urban cycling. However, as I discussed last week, when the lanes aren’t maintained well during the winter, they can actually make cycling more difficult. And when snow- or ice-filled PBLs force bike riders to share narrow travel lanes with motorists, that decreases safety.

Even when the Chicago Department of Transportation does a good job of plowing the protected lanes, there’s often a problem with snow later being pushed off sidewalks in front of businesses, into the curbside bike lanes. Last fall the city passed an ordinance that makes it clear it’s illegal to do this, as well as raises fines for property owners who don’t shovel their sidewalks, but CDOT officials said there were no plans to increase enforcement.

It’s great when merchants are conscientious about clearing their sidewalks for pedestrians. However, many business owners, or at least the people they hire to shovel, seem oblivious to the fact that plenty of Chicagoans use the protected lanes year-round, and that it’s illegal to dump snow in them.

The good new is that once people are made aware of these facts, they may change their behavior. After a cyclist contacted Unity Manufacturing, 1260 North Clybourn, and asked them to stop pushing snow off their sidewalk into one of the Clybourn curb-protected lanes, the business had a path cleared for bike riders.

The protected lanes on the short segment of Broadway between Wilson and Montrose, one of the few stretches of PBLs in Chicago along a retail strip, are especially prone to being filled with shoveled snow. Last winter, I took matters into my own hands and shoveled out a section of the bike lanes myself.

Several days after last week’s snowstorms, the buffered lanes on Broadway north of Wilson are completely clear. However, the curbside protected lanes are completely impassible. It appears that after CDOT plowed them, merchants shoveled snow into them, which partially melted over the weekend and then froze again. As you can see from the photo below, I’d need an ice pick to clear out those suckers.

So what’s the solution? Since the city isn’t planning to step up enforcement of the shoveling ordinance, perhaps education is the answer. It would be great if CDOT staffers, local ward representatives, or transportation advocates such as the Active Transportation Alliance were to do outreach, wherever there’s an issue with snow being dumped in protected lanes.

By mailing fliers or going door-to-door, they could inform business owners that people really do use the bike lanes all year, and that merchants can theoretically be ticketed for blocking them with shoveled snow. They could ask that the snow instead be left at the edge of the curb, on the sidewalk, or that a path be cleared in the bike lanes for cyclists. I’m guessing some gentle persuasion would go a long way towards solving the problem.

“Ice Ice Baby.” Another location on Broadway, photographed today. Photo: John Greenfield

The problem with the maintenance of bike lanes is their positioning. They are shoved all the way to the right of each street. Short of using giant snow blowers or front end loaders you can only clear streets economically with plows. They work rapidly and allow a crowded and congested city (like Chicago) to clear snow in a reasonably inexpensive manner.

Good plow technique requires that the snow plow itself be ‘angled away‘ from the crown of the roadway. So plows typically work from the center of the street to the edges on both sides. The plow blades themselves are angled so as to shove snow towards the right side the street.

Eventually the snow (when cleared by the plow) will have landed on the sidewalk alongside the roadway.

Suburbs vs. City Sidewalks

In suburbs you are often faced with this problem of where to put snow that has been ‘thrown‘ over the curb onto the sidewalk. As a homeowner who routinely uses a snow blower I angle the chute of the blower towards my home. It dumps snow onto the lawn where if I am lucky the quantity of salt imbedded in that snow will not kill my lawn outright.

But in crowded and congested urban areas things are a lot different. You are more often dealing with buildings which have no front lawns. That lack of grass in front of and behind many buildings is what helps create the ‘bad air quality‘ issues with which most cities deal.

But our very smart transportation gurus at the StreetsBlog site are quite certain that they have all the answers. But here is the problem. No business owner or apartment owner of home owner for that matter really has time to deal with snow removal that comes from the streets onto their sidewalks.

In an ideal world everyone who ‘moves‘ snow would not create work for the person ‘to the right‘ of him. But really smart guys like the Father of Bike Lanes (Gabe Klein) keep insisting that bike lanes always be to the right of each street. Ideally they would be on either side of the crown of the road. If that were indeed done, plowing would clear snow and debris from the bike lane first and should it land on the sidewalk (and be shoveled again back into the street from whence it came) cyclists would not have to resort to ‘hissy fits‘.

But keep in mind that the same people who are so very sure that they know how to design and install bike infrastructure are just stupid enough to keep making the same placement mistake with every new lane installed.

Kinda makes me wonder if these guys really have any clue as to how stupid they seem. And how on Earth do the rest of the planet’s inhabitants entrust them with anything sharper than a dull butter knife.

Good grief, Charlie Brown!

Buffered Bike Lanes Are Maintenance-Friendly

Buffered Bike Lane in Seattle, WA

Why are urban cyclists such ‘candyasses‘? They are feeling pampered and react accordingly. From a practical standpoint bike lanes need to reflect ‘real-world‘ needs. Bikes are inferior to three and four wheeled vehicles when faced with snow and ice. So keeping a lane cleared is very important.

Your average city is too congested and dense to tolerate any sort of clearing that is not quick and easy. The longer a snowfall the more iterations required. PBLs are positively stupid if they require anything other than plows. BBLs are tailor-made for cities.

Plows can clear them, easily. And sidewalk snow shoveled back onto the roadway lands under the parking lane and not under the bikes.

Red Wine Drinking Exposed

Red wine is bad for your health, experts reveal in a new report.

In a u-turn, Government experts have dismissed the supposed health benefits of wine and are set to rewrite the rule book on the nation’s alcohol consumption, according to reports.

A landmark report by Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies due to be published on Friday will destroy the long-held belief that red wine can cut the risk of cancer, heart disease and memory loss when drunk in moderation, the Sun reported.

In the first overhaul of alcohol guidelines for two decades, doctors will reportedly warn that there is no “safe” level of alcohol consumption and drinking just a small amount may in fact increase the risk of some cancers.

A source said: “The report will send a clear signal that the dangers of drinking are far more than previously thought.”

The review was launched in 2012 and its findings are expected to reflect the latest research that links even occasional alcohol consumption to health problems in later life.

The Government currently advises men do not drink more than three to four units per day – up to 21 units or less per week – while women should drink no more than two to three units a day, or 14 units per week.

Under the new guidelines the gender difference will be thrown out and drinkers will be to keep off the booze for at least two days a week in order to allow their livers to recover.

A recent study by University College London found patients who gave up for four weeks saw benefits for their liver function, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and were also at lower risk of developing diabetes and liver disease.

And a report by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) advised middle-aged people there is “no safe level of alcohol consumption“.

It says the same health benefits can be more easily achieved with exercise and healthy eating.

Experts have now u-turned on the health benefits of red wine Photo: Getty Images