Friday, March 27, 2009

OK, got to go now.

I'm done.

I've banged out my message.

And my message to you is this - one gear conquers all, which is another way of saying faith in equipment replaces faith in oneself.

Thanks everyone for reading KISL.

Ride bikes - climb mountains - skate the big hills - surf the oceans.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Know When to Hold, Know When to Fold

"Enthusiasm is the great hill-climber." - Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

Gelato is geared relatively low (44 x 18, 66"), which is light on the knees, fast on the hills.

When I go riding with my geared buddies, I know I can't attack on the flats, 66" is not a big gear.

So I wait for the hills and then I attack.

Single speeds are faster for sure on the hills as compared to geared bikes (most of the time). This is where I gain time on my buddies.

Of course, they all catch me on the downhill, but that's life on a single speed my friends.

You take what the road gives you, no more, no less.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Can't Drive 55

A lot of times, I ride Gelato in the freewheel mode (i.e., single speed), especially if I am going after the big hills.

That means that I'm just riding with one brake, and that would be the front brake.

But that's not really a problem you see.

Fixed gear riding is all about control - speed up or slow down by applying pressure to the pedals.

Single speed is more about momentum - keep your speed up so that you can make it over the next big hill.

So when Gelato and I are freewheeling it, I really don't use the brake except in heavy traffic because braking just slows you down anyways.

Make momentum your friend and ease up on the brake(s).

Monday, March 16, 2009

LoVe for SaLe

I searched 6 long months for her.

We were perfect together, her & I.

Sadly she passed away in 2007 of a broken frame.

The replacement frame & fork never felt quite right to me.

I don't love the "new" her anymore. In fact, I haven't loved her for the last 2 years.

I'm not sure if I could ever love again, but a new road bike may mend a broken heart.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Prison Break

I wrote a little piece called "Freedom" way back in August 2007. I said fitness is freedom.

Well, due to school, work and being really sick, my fitness is nowhere to be found.

I'm in prison.

But that's OK. I'll do my time, put in the miles and pay my dues to society. I'll suffer thru the painful process of rebuilding oneself.

But when the warden sets me free for good behavior, I'll rip it up for sure.

Monday, March 02, 2009

be happy, don't worry

When I was riding Gelato the other day, I suddenly realized why I love one-gear bikes.

It's because I'm content and happy with a single gear. Let me explain further - riding a single speed places certain limits on you.

Based on what gearing you select, you are only going to go so fast, the hills will always be a struggle and you'll spin out on the downhills for sure.

With a multi-gear bike, there is always this need to push oneself faster by shifting up to the next cog and so forth. It's like you have this constant mental pressure on yourself.

Don't get me wrong, I love speed and I can hold my own with the best of them while riding Gelato, but once I reach my cruising speed, I tend to sit back and enjoy the ride.

It's like when you visit some tropical island, after a few days of relaxing, you're on "island time".

Riding a 1-gear bike is a lot like being on "island time", which is not a bad place to be.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Travels with Roman Holiday (or 3 and half days on one jar of peanut butter)

Airline travel is so common these days, it's like taking the bus. It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when people used to travel across country on the DOG (aka the Greyhound bus).

Here's my story about the DOG.

Roman Holiday boarded the DOG in upstate NY with my climbing gear and a jar of peanut butter, headed West via Rt. 80. About 3.5 days later, I was sleeping next to a river in Yosemite Valley with a nearly empty jar that same peanut butter.

Was it worth the 3.5 days sitting on my butt?

Heck yeah, I saw the land scape of the USA. I ate at truck stops. I met funky people along the way. I took showers in restroom sinks.

It was my own personal "Travels with Charlie".

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crash & Burn (bouldering crashpads)

Crashpad: an expensive piece of form that a climber hopefully lands on if they blow a boulder problem.

Go ahead & grab a beer, & let me take you back to the days before crashpads. First of all, you had to learn how to fall without breaking an ankle. You also had to known how to down climb if you ran into a dead end [editor's note: down climbing is a lost art these days].

In a nutshell, bouldering was a bit more dangerous & you had to be a bit more committed to the boulder problem at hand.

But I guess one could make the argument that with a crashpad, one can do higher problems. And I guess I agree with that to a certain extent, but in my mind, crashpads have soften the sport of bouldering.

Bouldering is the most pure form of rock climbing; it should stay uncluttered.

And yes, I don't own a crashpad.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Should I Stay or Should I Ride my Bike

(Or should I strap that 12-pack to my bike rack?)

Yeah sure, it's great to go for training rides and do some races here and there, but for me, I like to combine a little adventure with the bike.

Case in point -> Fall 1985: two poor college kids buy tickets to see The Clash. We throw a 12-pack on my bike rack & my buddy, who is missing brakes for his bike, pedal 25 miles to a ferry, cross Lake Champlain to Burlington, VT and watch The Clash in fine form.

Next morning, dragging a bit, we pedal home just in time to miss Calculus class.

The point is: adventure can be had with a bike, a little bit of money and a good outlook on life. You don't need all that fancy stuff to have fun.

And the kicker is, I still have my ticket stub from that concert and that buddy is still a close friend of mine. Priceless.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bridge Over Troubled Water

I've ridden my mt. bike over this foot bridge so many times that it isn't funny.
But during an early morning ride one summer day, I rode right off the bridge and landed in the small creek below on my right hip. It was painful.
Now I tend to walk my mt. bike over most small bridges.
I can't overcome that fear of falling again.
It's funny how certain things mess up your head for life.
"Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind."
S & G

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On a Shoestring Budget (or 3 screws)

Ice climbing gear is expensive. In 86', I was a poor graduate student. I could only afford to buy 3 ice climbing screws.
So, up I went.
Each belay station only had 1 screw for an anchor. That left me with a single screw for my running protection.
Even though Shoestring Gully is a moderate climb, it was my 1st ice climb that I lead from top to bottom (in full winter conditions), so having a few extra screws would have been nice.
But I learned on that cold, windy day that "faith in equipment replaces faith in oneself".
That mindset has always stuck with me in everything that I do, even to this day.
And the thing is, I still have all of my original ice screws and I still use them because I trust myself more than I trust my equipment.
Shoestring Gully
Mt. Webster, NH

Monday, December 08, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom (or how I got sucker punched in Philly)

I was hatched in NYC & I love riding my bike in the Big Apple. I also spent some time in Philly.

It took me a while to figure out the traffic flow in the City of Brotherly Love, but once I found my groove, I did enjoy riding my bike on the same streets that our Founding Fathers once rode on.

On the downside though, while I was doing a trackstand at an intersection, waiting for the light to change, some dude just punched me in the chest for no particular reason.

Where's the love bro?

Anyways, there's lots to do in Philly with the bike, so check it out if you got the time.

Just be careful of that sucker punch.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Don't do the climb, if you Can't do the time

Don't go to bed, with no price on your head

No, no, don't do it.

Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time

Yeah, don't do it.

And keep your eye on the sparrow.

When the going gets narrow.

Don't do it, don't do it.

Where can I go where the cold winds don't blow,

Now. Well, well, well.
Climbing is an unique sport in the sense that you can't take a break from it and then get right back into it.
To do the climb, you need to put in the time. In other words, to be good and more importantly, to be safe, you need to climb lots.
You need to be out there at least 2 - 3 days per week.
You see, climbing is really just a head game.
Sure, you need the muscles. But what you really need is confidence. And confidence only comes by spending time on the rocks. There is really no other way to get it.
With a strong head, you can get up just about anything.
So if climbing is your bag of tricks, invest your time on the rocks and you'll be a better climber without a doubt.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I lived in NH at one time and most winter weekends found me on Mt Washington. It's always cold and windy up there.
What do I remember most about Mt Washington?
It's the afterglow.
After a long, cold day on the mountain with the wind blowing, we would hike down at full speed and then burst into the warmth of Pinkham Notch.
Within seconds, our faces would burn red, our ears would buzz, our eyes would tear up and our fingers/toes would swell.
That's the afterglow.
It's a hard thing to describe, but if you're a winter person, you know what I mean for sure.
That's what I miss most about Mt Washington.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


the need


roman holiday

i have the need
for the single speed.

it's simple; it's fast
and most important, it's a blast.

so forget about all that bling
just hop on the single speed and make it sing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


An old buddy of 26 years was in NYC for business last week. So I rode my bike (Roman Holiday) to meet him at the train station.

Something popped in my mind.

You see, Roman Holiday is the same exact bike I had in college 26 years ago. Back then, my nightly routine consisted of: study in the library until about 11 pm and then a few "buckets" of beer at the college pub, which was located below the library.

Then around midnight or so, I would hop on Roman Holiday for a quick 5-minute ride home. Unlocking my bike and riding home, while hitting all of the green lights, was the best part of my day.

Back to present.

I get my buddy back on a NYC-bound train and then I unlock my bike. With a few pints in my belly, I saddled up on Roman Holiday and blow through town. I'm home in no time.

As I'm flying through town, I am instantly transported back to my 1980's college days.

Bikes remind you of the past and move you forward at the same time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Well I don't care about history
Rock, rock, rock'n'roll high school
'Cause that's not where I wanna be
Rock, rock, rock'n'roll high school
I just wanna have some kicks
I just wanna get some chicks
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock'n'roll high school - THE RAMONES

The 2 sports that I love, mountaineering & cycling, both have long track records. My house is filled with climbing and bike books.

Knowing your place in history is important.

Without knowing who came before you, it's hard to move forward.

And plus, it keeps you from thinking that you're hot stuff. Lets say you just did a rad first ascent, you may be surprised to find out that your "first ascent" was done 40 years ago using crappy gear.

History keeps you honest.

So read your books & enjoy your sports knowing that you might be making history someday yourself.

The Cut

i pedal so fast
but i know i can't last.

i'm not sure how long i can hang on
pretty soon they will be gone.

please don't leave me behind
that won't be very kind.

road racing is not fair
but who really cares.

i didn't make the cut
so now i go home and spend time with my mutt.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sounds of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend

I've come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping

Left its seeds while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence

Simon & Garfunkel
School is a drag, but Gelato (aka pista) & I managed to slip in an early morning road ride on Sunday.
The sun was coming up & there were no cars on the road.
As I put Gelato through her paces on familiar roads, I heard nothing except my bike moving forward & the wind whipping up the leaves - no shifting, no thinking.
It was my own "private Idaho".
I returned home with my head cleared & ready to hit the books once again.

Mixed or Fixed

another poem
roman holiday
should i go mixed [climbing]
or should i ride my fixed [gear]?
the summits are far
or should i just stick to the tar?
the cold wind is blowin'
i'm flying down a hill and i'm not slowin'.
hey, you're "on belay" mate
man i wish i had some brakes.
have i cold feet and hands
hey check out that track stand.
should i climb mixed or ride my fixed?
i need to call in a day of sick.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall Day

a poem
roman holiday
should i ride my bike,
or should i go for a hike.
should i climb some rocks,
or should i skate down the block.
snow will be here,
and i'll be there,
facing the fall line,
and i'll be fine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Skateboarding Through the Ages

I was there almost from the beginning. My 1st board had clay wheels with loose ball bearings.

I've seen skateboarding go from surf-style to pools/ramps to street. And it's all good. But last week I was reading the Transworld Skateboarding magazine in my local library and I noticed that it was focused 99% on street skating.

This is a shame.

Skating means different things to different people and it would be great if all flavors of skating were represented in this way too glossy magazine.

I also noticed (which was hard to miss) that most of the magazine was filled with one polished advertisement after another selling clothes and shoes (lots of shoes). I thought folks just skated in Puma's, Van's or Chuck Taylor's.

When did skateboarding get so fashionable? Did I forget to buy a ticket for that bus?

Street skating is "in" these days, but everything always comes full circle (i.e., back to their roots). You can sort of see this with more & more longboards out there.

Enjoy it all.