Tag Archive for Schwinn

Morning Links: Tuskegee Airman — and bike rider — Robert Friend dies at 99; and minding a Duarte bike shop at 101

Let’s start with the passing of a real American hero.

LA’s own Robert Friend, one of the last surviving members of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, died on Friday, just months away from his 100th birthday.

The 99-year old Lt. Colonel flew 142 missions over Europe and North Africa during World War II as a fighter pilot in the all-black squadron, before going on to serve in Korea and Vietnam. He was later attached to NASA as an Air Force liaison, working on the Titan, Atlas and Delta rockets and the Space Shuttle program.

Not to mention overseeing the infamous Project Blue Book for five years, as the once top secret program investigated over 12,000 reports of flying saucers and other mysterious airborne objects.

Here’s what the Washington Post had to say about his flying career.

Although Col. Friend occasionally discussed Project Blue Book in interviews, he was far better known for his record as a Tuskegee Airman, notably for a two-week stretch when he twice averted disaster.

Striking an oil barge in Germany on Dec. 14, 1944, he unleashed a barrage of 50-caliber bullets that triggered an enormous, mushroom-shaped explosion, nearly taking down his aircraft. “The flame completely engulfed the diving ship,” the Pittsburgh Courier reported at the time. “Friend said it was sort of like being in hell. He managed to pull his ship out at the last moment.”

Days later, he faced bad weather and mechanical difficulties while flying over Italy. Disoriented in the darkness, praying to avoid crashing into a mountain or ejecting over the water, he took his chances and bailed out — and recalled in a 2006 lecture that he found himself parachuting toward a mountain.

“I hit the side of the mountain, slid down to the ground and saw a woman running to me with a knife in her hand,” he said, according to a Washington Post report. An alarmed Col. Friend soon found that she was no Nazi sympathizer. In an act of wartime desperation, he said, she simply “wanted the silk from my parachute.”

Robert Friend was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism, as well as the Congressional Gold Medal given to the entire unit.

The Tuskegee Airmen had to battle racism and discrimination, both in the military and in the Jim Crow South surrounding their Alabama base, before being allowed to face the Nazis.

Yet they quickly earned a reputation as some of the finest fliers on either side, their success in the air eventually leading to the full-integration of the US military.

And eventually, the United States itself.

If that’s not enough, Friend was also one of us, a supporter of Ride 2 Recovery well into his 90s, riding with wounded vets on the seven-day, 465-mile UnitedHealhcare Ride 2 Recovery California Challenge from San Francisco to Los Angeles when he was 94.

Robert Friend will be buried with full military honors over the fourth of July weekend.

He leaves this world a little poorer and smaller than it was just a few days ago.

And so is the Southern California bicycling community.

Photo shows Robert Friend as a young officer, from the CAF Red Tail Squadron website

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Somehow, we missed this one earlier this month.

Duarte’s Loyd’s Custom Bicycle Shop is back in business, nine months after 101-year old owner Gordon Loyd Gibbons left to have cataract surgery.

The shop, which specializes in restoring classic Schwinn bicycles, has been in business for 50 years. And Gibbons says he’ll keep running it “until the good Lord takes me.”

Speaking of Schwinn, reading that story led me down a rabbit hole to the discovery of my first bike, a hand-me-down, hand-me-down, hand-me-down that passed through all three of my siblings before it got to me.

And had been repainted so many times there wasn’t a hint of its original ID beyond the Schwinn badge.

So I had no idea just what it was until recognizing it in a 1960s Schwinn catalog.

Although if I ever make it out to Lloyd’s shop, I may look for that classic 10 peed Schwinn Varsity I’ve always wanted, instead.

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CyclingSavvy instructor Gary Cziko sets out to ride his bike on each of the streets in LA’s Vision Zero High Injury Network at rush hour, recording the results on a nausea-inducing 360° bike cam — starting with Lincoln Blvd in Venice.

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Breathe LA is teaming with SCAG — the Southern California Association of Governments — to host a panel discussion of key mobility and transportation issues facing the greater Los Angeles community in DTLA this evening.

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No bias here.

In yet another example of biking while black, a black bike rider was stopped and handcuffed by police in Michigan for the crime of not having a light on his bike as he rode to his second job in the next town over — even though he was holding a flashlight to fulfill the requirement for a light.

And was incorrectly told he had to have an ID just to ride a bicycle.

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This is who we share the roads with.

Seven motorcyclists were killed, and three injured, when a pickup driver pulling a flatbed trailer slammed head-on into a motorcycle club comprised of active duty and veteran marines.

Witnesses reported the truck was swerving uncontrollably across the roadway prior to the crash.

Thanks to J. Patrick Lynch for the tip, who also notes the prevalence of reporting without an apparent driver involved, or anyone else who might be responsible, other than the victims.

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Local

Yes, there are more bike riders and pedestrians on LA freeways.

A group of bike riders led by UCLA climate scientist Alex Hall are riding from Oakland to Los Angeles on the 550-mile California Climate Expedition to witness the effects of climate change firsthand, while raising funds for the UCLA Center for Climate Science.

E-scooters haven’t made their way to many economically challenged parts of the San Fernando Valley yet — if they ever do.

Some residents of the San Fernando Valley say don’t expand the LA River bike path when some segments are littered with trash and needles. Not to mention throwaway people who have nowhere else to go, right?

A bighearted real estate agent donated 50 bicycles to Pasadena’s Elizabeth House, for the kids of pregnant women who’ve suffered from homelessness and abuse. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the link.

You could win the new Stranger Things BMX bike at next weekend’s popup event to promote the show at the Santa Monica pier.

About damn time. Santa Monica will spend $3 million to improve the beachfront Marvin Braude bike trail north of the Santa Monica pier, including widening the path to create separate walking and biking paths. Now we just have to get Los Angeles on board for their section, as well.

 

State

A San Diego teenager suffered a broken leg when he crashed into the side of a pickup whose driver cut him off while he was riding lightless.

Two San Diego boys who disappeared while on a 1993 bike ride were honored with a new plaque on an existing memorial in the San Diego South Bay National Wildlife Refuge, 26 years after they were found murdered in a riverbed.

The Coachella Valley will add another 15 miles to the planned 50-mile CV Link bike and pedestrian path encircling the Valley. Thanks to Richard Fox, who was interviewed extensively for the story, for the heads-up.

A Ventura letter writer complains about the newly installed bollards along a protected bike lane on Telephone Road, calling on the city to get rid of the ugly “white plastic picket fence posts.”

An 82-year old San Luis Obispo man is suing the local airport after a gust of jet blast knocked him off his bicycle. Seriously, who could possibly have foreseen jet blast at an airport?

A bike-riding Fremont man was charged with a hate crime for throwing rocks at several Muslim men and threatening them with a large stick; he already has a lengthy criminal record for violent behavior.

Sad news, as a survivor of the Paradise Fire, and the town’s unofficial ambassador, has died of a heart attack suffered during a 39-mile bike ride through Mendocino County.

 

National

A Eugene OR letter writer says bicyclists need to be licensed, insured and pay for their own bike lanes. And stay the hell off major roads when there’s a parallel bike route. Because apparently, the taxes bike riders already pay just aren’t good enough. And people on bikes never, ever need to take the most direct route to where they’re going, unlike motorists.

A pair of Denver bike advocates relate the lessons they learned on a conference junket visiting Copenhagen, one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities.

Boise, Idaho has opened a new state-of-the-art bicycle parking facility with room for 42 bikes in an existing parking garage. Even if it does look more like they’re preparing for a steel cage death match.

Four Houston teenagers are under arrest for allegedly testing out their laser gunsight on an apparently random bike rider in a drive-by shooting; the victim saw the green dot on himself just before they shot him in the arm.

A Dallas pastor is trying to bring America together by riding a bike across the country and striking up conversations with strangers about life and spiritual matters.

Apparently, Arkansas horse and mule riders don’t need to stop for stop signs anymore, either.

Chicago residents have embraced the new 606 bike and pedestrian trail, even as it has contributed to gentrification in the former low-income and industrial neighborhoods it passes through.

Even the Twin Cities has a gender gap, with twice as many men riding to work as women.

Once again, a dangerous motorist is able to stay on the roads until it’s too late, this time in Ohio, where a 15-year old bike rider was killed by a speeding motorcyclist riding with a suspended license and two outstanding traffic warrants.

A Nashville columnist says this scooter madness must end, because it’s not the micromobility revolution we need. Meanwhile, an e-scooter rider who was killed in a collision shortly after the devices were introduced to the city, sparking calls for a scooter ban, was riding at twice the legal alcohol limit at the time of the crash.

No bias here, either. A new study shows that nearly 25% of New York bike riders fail to stop for red lights — which means that 75% do. Half of all riders came to a full stop, while another 25% stopped, then proceeded when they thought it was safe.

An injured bikeshare rider says the NYPD ignore reckless driver behavior that victimizes bike riders.

Kindhearted New York Yankees players dug into their own pockets to buy a new adaptive bicycle for a 14-year old boy with a rare seizure disorder. I’ve never been a Yankees fan, but I may cut them a break after this.

The Wall Street Journal asks if you should trade in your car for an ebike. Short answer, yes. Even if most of the story is hidden behind a paywall.

Three Florida police officers were honored for saving the life of a 41-year old man after he went into cardiac arrest while riding his bicycle.

A Florida man has undergone over 60 hours of surgery, and run up countless medical bills, after a hit-and-run driver dragged him over half a mile under his pickup as he fled. A crowdfunding page has raised nearly $7,500 of the modest $10,000 goal after eight days.

 

International

The CBC wonders if it’s rude to blast Bon Jovi from the speakers on your bike. It should at least be a Canadian artist like Bryan Adams or Alanis Morissette, let alone someone from this century. 

Nice move. A Canadian bikeshare adds an adult tricycle, enabling people with disabilities to ride, as well.

Royal-in-law James Middleton, younger brother of Kate, says his five therapy dogs are devastated after someone stole the bakfiets he uses to cart them through the streets of London. Though someone should tell People that the “unique bike” “with a cart upfront” is just an everyday cargo bike. 

The parents of a 21-year old woman who was killed in the London Bridge terrorist attack have founded a London to Paris fundraising bike ride.

A British cyclist who hold the record for the London to Paris crossing now sets his sights on a new record for crossing China’s Desert of Death. Call me crazy, but I’d assume they call it the Desert of Death for a reason.

Brit bicyclists have set up a crowdfunding campaign to help pay expenses for the bike rider who was ordered to pay up to £100,000 — the equivalent of over $127,000 — in damages after colliding with a distracted pedestrian who stepped off a curb in front of him, even though he had the green light, had honked his horn to warn her, and had swerved to try to avoid her. The page has already raised well over 100% more than the original £21,300 goal in just three days. 

I want to be like her when I grow up. An 81-year old Scottish grandmother has set a new record as the oldest person to ride the full length of the Great Britain.

Evidently, Copenhagen hasn’t always been bike friendly. After former INXS frontman Michael Hutchence suffered a serious head injury when he was the victim of a road raging cab driver in the Danish city, it changed his personality and set him on the path to his eventual suicide in an Australian hotel room.

Thailand’s new king is one of us, as he goes for an incognito bike ride with his wife and massive entourage in Lucerne, Switzerland. Although his fashion choices leave something to be desired.

Madrid’s pollution-fighting ban on motor vehicles could be in jeopardy as a new conservative government moves in.

A Bangladeshi midwife in her 70s still rides a bicycle around the countryside delivering medications.

Tres shock! Aussie drivers are stunned and appalled to learn that bicyclists not only are allowed to ride two abreast, but actually encouraged to do so. Which says a lot less about people on bikes than it does about drivers who don’t know the law.

Thousands of Malaysian children will get recycled bicycles after a Mandalay entrepreneur bought up 10,000 bikeshare bikes that were abandoned when the companies pulled out of Singapore and Malaysia.

 

Competitive Cycling

Geraint Thomas explains what it’s like to experience a high speed bike crash — without actually having to go through all the pain and stuff.

Cyclist questions why so many pro teams are failing to make the podium.

Don’t look for American Tejay Van Garderen to challenge for the podium in next month’s Tour de France, after he was assigned to ride in support of team leader Rigoberto Uran.

Annapolis, Maryland welcomed the finishers of this year’s RAAM, aka the Race Across America, including six-time champ Christoph Strasser.

Must be in the genes. Milwaukee’s Nick Reistad spent five years as a pro cyclist, including stints with the US National and Jelly Belly teams; now his six-year old daughter is about ride in her first race.

A British ultracyclist learns the hard way that you can’t set a new 24-hour record if you don’t stay on your bike. And you can’t do that if you spill water on the track.

Apparently, women’s cycling has the same problems the men do with massive crushes of fans crowding the peloton.

 

Finally…

Nothing says 2019 like a bikeshare-by shooting. Who needs an ebike when you’ve got an electric unicycle?

And when you’re carrying over a pound of weed, maybe try not to call attention to yourself by stealing a bicycle.

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Thanks to David Erickson for his generous donation to help support this site. Your support to help keep SoCal’s best bike news coming your way every day is always appreciated. 

Like a bike shop in a surf riot, Helmets on Heads on the Eastside, and what I did this weekend

Just a few quick notes after being tied up inside all weekend.

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Somehow, bikes always seem to end up on the losing end.

Even in the middle of a surf riot.

Last night proved that problems with “unruly crowds” aren’t confined to urban areas, as a crowd got out of control leaving the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach.

And of course, immediately attacked the first bike shop they saw. Evidently, they couldn’t find a surf shop to trash in Surf City.

Earlier reports indicated the shop was looted, but it looks like just one bike was stolen from the window of the Easyrider bike & skate shop after someone threw, yes, a stop sign through it.

We’ll pause for a moment to consider the irony.

Apparently, a second bike was saved by employees playing tug-of-war with looter wannabes, using a bike instead of rope.

Our anonymous OC/Southbay source happened to be riding through in the immediate aftermath.

So a few hours ago, I pull up at a controlled intersection (controlled by five cruisers with lights & uniformed officers) and chat up a bored officer who’s just standing’ around keepin’ an eye on out, and he says right now they’re really cracking down and nailing people for every little thing. So I point out that I don’t have my bike light on. He says that’s too minor to deal with. “People just don’t bring bikes to riots.”

Well, Hunny PD. They should know.

ATTENTION, HOOLIGANS: IN HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA, YOU CAN CONFIDENTLY FLEE RIOTS IF YOU STEAL A BIKE.

People are sweeping the shattered glass off the curbs and only catching most of it before it hits the gutter. Main Street’ll be safe enough to ride by morning, though. And the officer said there’s a street sweeper coming in a few hours to clear PCH.

Thank god the Open’s over.

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If you find yourself on the Eastside Wednesday, you might take a few minutes to meet BMX star Steve McCann and watch Schwinn do a good thing.

Helmets on Heads and Schwinn Bikes Provide Free Bike Helmets to kids from Variety Sports Club, July 31

BMX star Steve McCann to speak to kids about the importance of helmet safety

What:

Helmets on Heads, a comprehensive national education campaign from Schwinn Bikes, in association with the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation, is visiting Variety Boys and Girls Club in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 31st. More than 250 members of the Variety Boys and Girls Club will receive a new bicycle helmet courtesy of Schwinn.

Educators from ThinkFirst Los Angeles County Chapter will discuss the importance of protecting the brain and fit each kid with a new Schwinn helmet. BMX star Steve McCann will be on hand to assist with helmet fitting, as well as to encourage the kids on safe and fun bike riding, along with helmet safety.

Helmets on Heads is committed to educating one million kids about bike helmet safety over the next 10 years. The organization offers tools and opportunities for educators, local communities and families to get involved and take action in protecting themselves and those around them.

For more information on Helmets on Heads please visit www.helmetsonheads.org.

One quick caveat, though. All the helmets are already spoken for, and none will be available to anyone other than the kids from the Boys and Girls Club.

Correction: I just got word that this event is not open to the public after all, so I’ve removed the time and location. 

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STM_165x248_1Let me give a belated shout out to my friends at Clif Bar, who sent me their latest flavor to check out. There may not be a lot of perks to this job, but getting free food ranks pretty high on the list.

Note to brewers: I’m more than happy to sample your wares, as well.

I’m just saying.

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Finally, about this last weekend.

I spent both days at a retreat for the Board of Directors for the LACBC (Saturday) and an LACBC Board/Staff workshop (Sunday).

I don’t often talk about my role with the LACBC here, since I want it to be clear that I’m speaking for myself, rather than than the LACBC or any organization I may be associated with, when I speak to the media or write on this site.

But allow me a moment to say I’m very proud to play a small part with such an outstanding organization. The people who work or volunteer for the LACBC are among the finest I have ever had the pleasure of being associated with. And dedicated to making to making the 88 cities and unincorporated areas that make up LA County better, safer and more inviting places to ride a bike — and helping make those communities healthier and more livable for everyone, whether they ride or not.

If you aren’t already a member, you owe it to yourself and your community to become one.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Even if you never ride a bike, you owe it to yourself to support a group working to improve commutes and make our streets safer for everyone on them.

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