Monthly Archives: March 2013

QB Consumer Report installment 1999: QB Visits Box Dog Bikes and asks ‘What is up with all these fixies?’

QB is constantly challenging itself with Imagineering what makes our intrepic folks (Ed: QB speak for reader) tick and what will they be saving their tax return money to purchase next. As QB already has paid Google to find out everything about our folks we know that you all already own an average of 3.5 randonneuses, 2.3 mountain bikes, 4.1 triathlon bikes, but only 0.005 fixies. The rest of the information supplied by Google is pretty creepy and QB tries to not think about it too much.

To assist with folks need to purchase product intrepid QB reporters ventured off to the epicenter of fixie heaven, The Mission of San Francisco, to visit all the best fixie shops and report back.

Push Bike, 21st Street: Sign on door said ‘back in 5 minutes, on delivery run’. Waited 10 minutes, asked nice person with dreadlocks about fixies, got punched in face.

Mission Bikes, Valencia Street: Intrepid QB reporters were too old to be waited on.

FreeWheel, Valencia Street: Intrepid QB reporters were distracted by used book store on corner.

Box Dog Bikes, 14th & Guerrero: Intrepid QB reporters completely distracted by the large case of Randonneuring equipment that was full of saddles, decaleurs, racks, fenders, generator hubs, lights, bags and tools. A little dog peed on one of the intrepid QB reporters but was so cute and friendly. Intrepid QB reporter asked some bald dude (who looked like he worked there but claimed to be a customer) ‘What is up with all these fixies?’ and the bald dude said ‘Whaaat?’.  Intrepid QB reporter was distracted by a customer’s 650A Alps randonneuse and forgot to ask the same question of someone who worked there.

Conclusion: QB still can’t tell folks what is up with all these fixies, but can highly recommend Box Dog Bikes for all of their Randonneuring needs, including hi-vis clothing, wool gloves and armwarmers.

Disclaimer: Intrepid QB reporters have not received any compensation beyond the 10% discount offered to San Francisco Randonneur members, but would not mind being offered a Nitto Campee Front Rack for product testing and stuff.


QB Asks – What are your goals for this Randonneuring Cycle?

With every new cycle of the Randonneuring calendar comes new goals that we set for ourselves. The QB editorial staff assembled in the QB atelier studio at Rue 28 Bo-fax has compiled a lofty set of goals for our reading folks to become inspired with and perhaps emulate as well. Please share your own goals in the comments section.

Goal #1: Ensure the snack selection at each control includes four flavours of ruffles and two of Doritos, and is not leftovers from last year’s randonnee.

Goal #2: Try that shrimp flavoured cup of noodles at the finish control.

Goal #3: Not mix up the dirty pile of cycling clothes with the clean pile (subgoal – devise a reliable test for separating clean from dirty clothes that does not involve the sniff test)

Goal #4: Try those extra supple tires we keep reading about.

Goal #5: Remember to bring our a. water bottles, b. gps, c. gps batteries, d. reflective gear, e. rain jacket, f. helmet, g. wallet, h. pump, i. spare tube, j. patch kit, k. blinky light, l. cycle shoes, m. inspirational photo instead of cue sheet, n. cue sheet, o. home breathalyzer kit, p. All of the above.

Goal #6: Devise a scientifically reliable test to assess if what we happen to be doing at that moment qualifies as doing ‘stupid stuff’.

Goal #7: Stop asking our riding buddies a. what time is it, b. how far to the next control, c. how much climbing is in this randonnee?, d. are you going to eat that?, e. All of the above.

Goal #8: Complete an SR series on a Schwinn Suburban (a green one), while wearing a tweed outfit and smoking a pipe, and blog about it.

Goal #9: Develop an optimal gear chart for each randonnee and compare it to actual gear usage, develop a spread sheet comparing cog wear to chain wear and use it to develop an eyephone app to tell you when you need to change your chain, and further develop a live weather feed to tell you when you need to lube a chain because nobody has time to check their chain wear or lube that squeaky chain because, we are, like, blogging and stuff.

Alfonsina e la bici

In honor of International Women’s Day, QB takes a look back at Alfonsina Morini Strada, one of the pioneers of women’s cycling. We wrap up with a review of Alfonsina e la bici, a song and music video dedicated to her memory.


Alfonsina’s Story
There are people who mark important stages in history without realizing it, breaking the barriers of prejudice. In the history of women’s cycling one of these people was Alfonsina Morini Strada, the only woman ever to have raced in the Giro d’Italia.

Alfonsina was corrageous; she had the courage necessary to face being born into a life of poverty in 1891 near Modena. Alfonsina was tough; she did not care about being called crazy or “the devil in a dress”.  Alfonsina was stubborn; no one could push her away from her beloved bike, especially not her family who thought that her passion was unseemly for a girl. (When Alfonsina was 10, her father came home with an old bicycle that he had received in trade for a few chickens). Alfonsina’s family considered her passion nothing more than a fantasy that would certainly pass once she was married and confined to the role of wife such as it was at the beginning of the twentieth century.  No doubt that would have been her fate if she did not have the good fortune to meet Luigi Strada, her first husband. Intelligent and unprejudiced, he approved of her passion for cycling, and gave her a shiny new racing bike on the day of their wedding.

Giro d’Italia
It was 1924, the year big names of Italian cycling boycotted the Giro d’Italia over a disagreement about compensation. Just three days before the tour was to start, organizer Emilio Colombo, director of the Gazzetta dello Sport, decided to open the race to all who wished to participate. Alfonsina entered using the ambiguously abbreviated name STRADA, Alfonsin. and was assigned number 72.  A person named “Alfonsino Strada” was listed in the roster published in pre-race newspaper articles. Among the ninety participants in the first stage her presence was almost unnoticed but stage by stage Alfonsina became increasingly popular, winning admiration and acclaim.

After having successfully completed the initial stages and coming in front of many of her competitors, there was the disastrous stage from L’Aquila to Perugia. Typically bad road conditions worsened in a heavy rain storm. The wind gusted violently. The road turned into a muddy mess. Alfonsina fell and wounded herself a few times, and each time got up and continued riding. She also broke her handlebars, and wasted a lot of time wandering around looking for a replacement. Finally a housewife gave her a broomstick, which she broke in half and used in place of the handlebars. By the end of the day her knee was so wounded that she finished outside the time limit for the stage.  Much to the dismay of some judges and many supporters she was ousted from the official race, but organizer Colombo had realized how much interest there was around the story of the first woman admitted to the Giro d’Italia. Colombo decided to allow her to continue to ride, but no longer as an official participant. The same exception was granted to some of the men. So, Alfonsina continued to ride in the tour, observing the same limits and same rules of the competition.  Out of the ninety starters, only thirty reached the finish line in Milan, plus three that arrived out of time, including Alfonsina. She had covered 3,613 kilometers in twelve stages.

Alfonsina was no stranger to adversity. Her first husband Luigi suffered a mental breakdown and was institutionalized in Milan. Alfonsina used the 50,000 lire in prize money from the Giro to pay for his care.  Luigi died in 1948. She remarried three years later to a former pro cyclist and they operated a bicycle shop together in Milan. When her second husband passed away, she continued running the shop. Late in her life, when bicycling for transportation became too physically demanding, she purchased a motorcycle. It allowed some semblance of the freedom previously known to her on the bicycle. She died in obscurity in 1959.


Women’s World record for the 1 hour, 1938:
32.58 km, held for 26 years.
Women’s speed record, 1911:
37 km per hour. This was achieved on a heavy single speed bike.
Tour of Lombardy, 1917:
Last of 32 finishers, out of 74 entrants. Not a bad showing for an amateur’s first big race.
36 career victories against male competitors

Alfonsina was truly a pioneer.

Remembering Alfonsina
Alfonsina is gone but not forgotten. A biography written by Paolo Facchinetti, Gli anni ruggenti di Alfonsina Strada (The Roaring Years of Alfonsina Strada) was published in 2004. A Dutch version Het roerige leven van Alfonsina Strada, was published in 2010. A play about Alfonsina has appeared on stages in Italy and London.

Today we share the music video called “Alfonsina e la bici” dedicated to her memory by the band Têtes de Bois. Enjoy!
Theme by Andrea Satta and Agostino Ferrente. Directed by Agostino Ferrente. Photography by Paolo Scarfo. Special guest appearance by Militant A from the old school rap band Assalti Frontali. In this particular music video Alfonsina is played by Margherita Hack, an internationally renowned astrophysicist and a great lover of the bike herself.

QB gives Alfonsina e la bici an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Here’s the breakdown on the QB scale of 0 out of 10:
Production quality: 9
Costume design: 9
Pop song quality: 7
Theme and execution: 8
Lyrics: 7
Historical accuracy: 7
Safety: 5

QB fashion makeover – helping the RUSA logo get some

Clinical Cyclologist Nina Burkhardt received late last year a note of desperation from the RUSA logo bitterly complaining about negative treatment from other logos in general, lamenting the fact that it had not been laid since that sweet, sweet August in France, 1999. The logo also wrote of having long endured pointing and whispering by others and being the butt end of jokes at all public appearances. Nina perceptive and sensitive as ever suggested that the RUSA logo undergo a glamour makeover under the auspices of the award winning world class folks and fashion arbiters here at QB.

Our crack team of designers, lead by fashion consultant The Artist Formerly Known as Un Dookay (who is a real pain to work with but the results speak for themselves) broke out the head lamps, reflective gear and the ensure plus working round the clock to bring happiness and a high level of self esteem to the RUSA logo.

RUSA logo before and after – Note: Image of glamour makeover of RUSA logo used without permission from Un Dookay (check is in the mail Un Dookay, swear!)

RUSA logo before and after – Note: Image of glamour makeover of RUSA logo used without permission from Un Dookay (check is in the mail Un Dookay, swear!)

Stay tuned for updates on the dating status of the RUSA logo and a chronicle of its intrepid exploits at the local bars near closing time via QB twitter, facebook and linkedin!

Breaking News! Velocio Toppled in St. Etienne

Word has reached QB headquarters that Les Restaurateurs Audax Avant (LRAA, audax restoration popular front) rumoured to be supported by Auvergne expatriates in the US have seized the School of St. Etienne, vandalized the Shrine of Velocio, and have taken several cyclotourists hostage.

QB drone footage still of the heartbreaking destruction of the shrine to Velocio

QB drone footage still image of the heartbreaking destruction of the shrine to Velocio

A garbled and disturbing demand for the release of the stranglehold of allure libre the ACP imposes on all randonnees they homologate by persons claiming to be members of the LRAA will not be reprinted here.

Stay tuned stay informed – subscribe to the QB twitter, facebook and instagram feeds.

Ask Nina

20130304pier angeli_50s-cycologist

Here at lovely Quarterly Bicycle we are proud to introduce Dr. Nina Burkhardt and her new advice column, “Ask Nina” in which she will provide answers to questions submitted by our readers.

Dr. Burkhardt was born in Glendale, CA in 1932, oldest of three sisters. She is a practicing clinical cycologist, licensed in California. While her parents always put a strong emphasis on education, it was the Randonneurs USA Members’ Handbook that inspired her interest in psychology.

20130304RUSA Handbook-RUSA

Co-founder of the Mellow-Vélo Institute, home of Postmodern Cycle-Therapy (PCT) and a prolific author, Nina’s recent books include Collaborative Cyclo-Therapy: Relationships and Conversations with Bicycles (co-editor Dr. Deborah Chang); Innovations in the Reflecting Process: The Inspiration of Jack Holmgren;  and Interpreting Hallucinations: A Definitive Guide for the Super Randonneur (co-editors Diego Garcia and Guillaume Apollinaire).

Kindly submit questions to “Dear Nina” c/o lovely Quarterly Bicycle

Dispatch from London – amended

Once again Rupert Smedley our detail orientated reader and correspondent from the UK has come through with valuable information essential for intrepid US randonneurs and folks hoping to challenge themselves with the successful importation of proper randonneuse for the completion of the hallowed LEL.

“Every punter in the commonwealth is familiar with the ban on low trail randonneuse implemented in 1955 to protect the Jack Taylor factory and the thousands of employees working there from cheap French imports of Herse and Singer cycles and the diseases they carry. Unfortunately the rider information packet for LEL for intrepid randonneurs and folks from outside the Commonwealth does not provide guidance for individuals desiring to bring their personal low-trail cycle to the UK with the consequence of their confiscation, the fines, and ultimately the humiliation and forced use of a Moulton to complete the randonnee. I myself witnessed several individuals and folks forced to ride Moulton F frame cycles. Not only do the riders suffer from the effects of being pelted with refuse by the locals when riding such a contraption but also the peculiar walking gait that is caused by riding one of those things for more than 15 minutes takes years of yoga and acupuncture to correct.”

What is even less known is the VAT on cycles with ornate lugs. What is almost as debilitating as riding a Moulton for any distance is having all of your food money taken by the dole (get them out of my National Health Care!) to cover the import VAT that was implemented in 1923 to protect Ephgrave, Holdsworth and Claude Butler from cheap Rivendells from the US.

The heart break and aftereffects of an individual forced to subsist on beans and pints of whiskey (the equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal in the UK) while negotiating the heath of Yorkshire is something this intrepid correspondent neither wishes to record nor witness.

Stay tuned, stay informed, and subscribe to the Quarterly Bicycle LEL twitter, facebook and instagram feeds now.

Note: the Friendster and myspace versions of Quarterly Bicycle are shameless lampoons of our serious journalistic efforts and should not be taken seriously. Our protests and requests for removal of such websites have been ignored.