Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Message from the Distant Future: on Bicycle Equipment Regulations and the Founding of the Glorious Nation of Cascadia!

At the time of this post, the end of 2015, some American cyclists are frustrated with bicycle equipment and behavior regulations that differ by locality. Targets of frustration include King County's all-ages helmet law, Oregon's mandatory-sidepath law, bike path “hours of operation” that apply wherever bike paths fall under park-department jurisdiction, and various suburbs' single-file riding laws. I write from the future to tell you all that these are no idle frustrations or concerns. Similar questions have, indeed, shaped nations.

Sometimes the world, after all, turns on the results of low-turnout elections. Back in 2027 King County elected to its council a Dadaist Alternative After-Party majority. This group could not agree on repealing the all-ages helmet law, but managed to pass, in protest of it, a measure requiring all motorists to wear full-face auto racing helmets. As it applied, drivers on I-5 had to take their eyes off Twitter for a few seconds to don their headgear as they approached the Ballinger Way exit! Thousands of RTs and ★s were lost!

Twitter was (at the time) a California company (it would later be purchased by a NoVa military research concern), so a Washington county's interference in its business naturally ran afoul of Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution. The resulting constitutional crisis could only lead to one thing: THE FOUNDING OF THE GLORIOUS NATION OF CASCADIA!

Of course, due to the particulars of its founding, Cascadia had no Article I, Section 8 in its constitution. Indeed, quite the opposite. In Wallingford it was deemed illegal for cyclists to use tires narrower than 40mm, due to the danger of getting tires caught in streetcar tracks. On Capitol Hill, where there actually were streetcar tracks, freewheeling was deemed a "bourgeois freedom" and restricted to the elderly (those over 30); tires wider than 28mm were banned entirely as a crime against aesthetics. A narrow sort of aesthetics, to be sure, but PR Capitol Hill was a narrow jurisdiction, particularly after its territorial losses to the downtown retail core and the various colonies, buffer nations, and puppet states of Broadmoor Country Club.

Cycling equipment rules were soon rendered moot, though. A voting bloc of UW freshmen and out-of-town Seahawks attendees (yes, visitors can vote in Cascadia, we have this thing called hospitality) pushed through strict laws first against unannounced passes, then against interrupting conversations to announce a pass, so we effectively couldn't ride on MUPs. Drivers literally owned the roads in Cascadia but refused to pay for their maintenance, so they banned bikes on all roads out of spite after conditions degraded. By 2040 the only bikes to be seen were on advertisements for $6,000/mo studio apartments. Oh, right, and there was that guy with a routine that biked down the shoulder of I-5 near SLU once a year or so, jumping off just in time to dodge the cops; that kept on until the freeway collapsed.

We finally broke the stalemate on transportation when a bunch of laid-off techies and airplane manufacturers, squatting in an abandoned Boeing plant, invented the first affordable jetpack. One declared herself Queen of the Sky, to be succeeded by anyone that could kill her in her dominion. She then proceeded to fall off her jetpack from a thousand feet up before enacting any laws. Because it was the ground that killed her no succession or lawmaking was possible, leaving Cascadia's skies in permanent anarchy, the perfect legal environment for personal jetpack transport. What's the carbon footprint and death toll of the resulting transportation system? It turns out to be illegal to keep count, according to a ruling reached by the Supreme Court of Jesters in the halftime show of a 2046 Sounders-Timbers game. When you're up in a jetpack you can't put your head in the sand, exactly, put there's plenty of room to put it up your own...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What 3 Words II: Silence Heart Nest

Silence Heart Nest's W3W address is, sadly, not silence.heart.nest (which is, sadly, not an address at all). It is truly.hope.visit. I truly do.

Just nearby, the Center of the Universe is located at the edge of a median island in the busy intersection of Fremont Avenue and Fremont Place, which even confuses locals sometimes (Douglas Adams, are you there?). It's at prefer.admiral.herds. I truly do.

When you walk out the door of Cult of Smalltrain you step from home.shack.exit (it was a fine brick building, perhaps shotgun-shaped but not a shack) to picked.poems.cotton (something about the dandelions in Illinois). It doesn't make much sense the other direction, but then you always can go in through the back. IIRC. YMMV. HAND. I truly do.

Like the troll I am, I was married under a bridge at stamp.pose.that. I truly do.

I just won a race!

This is only the second time I've ever won a race, excluding those with extremely limited entry criteria (i.e. I don't count things like office-wide races, but I do count small open-entry races, as most of the races I run are pretty small). The first was the North Park River Run, a rather small two-mile race held by Chicago's North Park University. This one was the Santa Runs Tacoma half-marathon, which would have to be considered quite small for a half-marathon (700 runners). Winning or not, I'm very happy with a time of 1:15:00. It was a PR by over 7 minutes. My previous half-marathon best was on a much harder course almost 10 years ago, and had been my last remaining PR set in my 20s. Knowing what I do about my recent running improvement, I guess this qualifies as old age and treachery beating youth and exuberance. Age, treachery, and magic hip-flexor stretches.

The course was a significant net-downhill, enough that it's not eligible for records per USATF (max 1m/km drop), which nonetheless certifies its distance. The drop of 36m was essentially all in the first mile, which I cruised through in 5:13; after that the course was a mostly flat out-and-back, with a couple overpass "rollers" in the early and late miles. The big first-mile drop was actually a nice feature, both to be able to throw out my first mile split, and to be assured that I'd be ahead of my goal pace early. On a "fair" course I'd probably have been 30 seconds slower. The day was cool and the ground was wet, but no real raindrops until late in the race; there was a very slight breeze with us on the way out and against on the way back. Overall, about the best conditions you can hope for in December in the northwest. I was a bit slower on the way back than out, probably due to the slight breeze, plus general fatigue and tightness. In the last three miles I couldn't stretch out my stride much but was able to pick up my turnover and keep a reasonable pace. I brought some food along but didn't use it. I hadn't really thought of this, but on an out-and-back course, if you're near the front, using water stations on the way back is really against the grain. So I didn't take any water, either, because by the time I really wanted it (mile 9 or so) I couldn't have got through effectively.

I rode down from Seattle with Rhea, Toffer, and Susan; Rhea and Susan finished first and second among women. So we were the fast van!