Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The difference a week makes

This is last week December 22. Snow everywhere, we were basically snowed in.

Here is today's winter ride.

As you can see there is much less snow after the 40 degree weather returned and we got a bit of rain. But we still have a lot of snow and the ponds are still frozen as the temperatures are only above freezing for short periods of time. On the other hand it was nice to go for a bike ride again. Kiley (the corsa) treated me very well and even with the snow I didn't do badly for speed. My cough got ugly near the latter half of the ride as it got darker and colder. The ride was about 12 miles so it was just a short little thing but it made me feel good.

Monday, December 29, 2008

More about Gaza

It is better to follow this link and read it there then to listen to my outrage. Really it is utterly unjustifiable for Israel to commit the war crimes it has been doing against the Palestinians in Gaza. This is horrific stuff and deplorable for Israel to be doing this considering their history.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Over one BILLION gallons of coal waste dumped in Tennessee

One billion gallons of coal ash and toxins have been released in Roane County, Tennessee. This is a horrible tragedy though predictable. This ash dump is filled with the kind of toxins that cause cancer, cause genetic mutations and generally turn an area unlivable, for how long we don't know, but I suspect this area will be toxic for decades. Follow the link and you will see that the TVA who is responsible for this has been trying to downplay the story and underestimate the effects. Additionally it is obvious they are criminally negligent. Hopefully we will see criminal charges and massive fines levied but the environmental and human damage is done. My heart goes out to the Tennesseans affected by this tragedy.

Israel attacks Gaza

Insanity and violence rule Israel now as Israel attacks the Gaza strip ending a six month ceasefire in bloody violence. The attack was done at mid-morning when schools and other civilian buildings were full. The attack was directed at Hamas which Israel brands a terrorist organization but Hamas are the elected leaders in Gaza. Israel has blockaded Gaza for the last six months reducing the people in Gaza to eating grass to survive.

I worked for Israelis for 6 years, I have been to Israel more than a dozen times in the '90s. My sympathies are normally for the Israelis but this is insane. My heart goes out to the Palestinians in Gaza and all the victims of this conflict. Hopefully the international response to this will re-instate the ceasefire and we can send aid into Gaza. Please let that be the case.

Dave rips McCain - redux

This is definitely my favorite video from the 2008 presidential coverage. McCain canceled his appearance on David Letterman and "canceled" his campaign, then he shows up on Katie Couric's show on CBS while Dave is taping his show. The result is some of the best video from 2008 period. David is on fire and the result was pretty damning for McCain.

2009 Goals

So the fateful January first is approaching. It is time to consider New Years resolutions and goals. Now normally I am not one for resolutions but this is a big year. I turn 40 on April 3rd and have been considering how I want to live the rest of my life. In September of this year I was 240 pounds and playing way too many computer games, I was on track to die early of heart problems. My blood pressure was high, yada, yada, yada. Since September 24th I have been commuting to work by bike and changed my eating habits. I also stopped playing all computer games and MMOs. Now I am 220 pounds, much lower blood pressure and my resting heart rate is down as well. My doctor is happy as well.

Given my improved state I want to think about what my goals for 2009 are. I worked on a list earlier in the year but I think I need to reassess and think about what I can and cannot do.
  1. First thing is to get down to 180 pounds in 2009. My eventual goal is 160 but 180 is doable for 2009 and will be 80 pounds down from my peak. Diet and exercise are the name of the game here but with the focus on exercise.
  2. I want to do the STP (Seattle-to-Portland) ride in 2009. I have lived in this area for 9 years and still have yet to do this amazing ride. 2009 is the year I will do it. I will do the 2 day version since I am riding with co-workers this year.
  3. Randonneuring, I want to do my first Brevet. I have joined RUSA and will join SIR in January. The season starts in March so I will do my first 100k populaire on March 8th. The first 200k is March 21st. I will see what the season brings before commiting to more than 200k
  4. Hill Climbing. I need to work on climbing with my bike. I want to climb my first mountain pass in 2009. Maybe I will do more but at least I want to climb my first mountain pass.
  5. Crafting and Handywork. I am already a much better bike mechanic than I was in September, but I want to do more and learn more. I want to make my own tailbox for my recumbents, basically a trunk box for my bikes. This will also help aerodynamics as well as being a great project. I have been turning the garage into a work space for this kind of project. It is a ton of fun and useful, plus highly customized and personal bikes are not good targets for a thief, too easy to identify and highly visible.
  6. Travelling. I want to go to the HPV event in Portland in May, to the Recumbent gathering at the mouth of the Columbia in August and to a couple of other events/rides. Sitting at home is not good for the soul, I need to travel.
  7. Raptobike. I want a raptobike, so I need to sell off my climbing gear, my trike and my vivo to get one. The raptobike lowracer will be a great project to work on as well. A rolhoff hub and other toys will make this a rock solid bike that should be amazingly fun to ride.

Basically I want to do more cycling and get into shape as well as be more able to solve my own mechanical issues. I also want a new toy, but what do you expect from a man turning 40. A lowracer is a much nicer version of a mid-life crisis than a sports-car.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sweet Winter Bike Hack

bike chains for the Monkey:)
This isn't mine, but if you are snowed in, you should take a look at the Flickr page linked in. Basically the guy crafted and welded his own bike snow chains. Great work and a cool product. Much better than studded tires in my estimation. I would love this for my trike.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowpacolypse 2008

The snow this week has paralyzed Kirkland and Seattle. They aren't plowing the roads as they have almost no plows. Even those they do plow they don't put the blade all the way down so it skims over the packed snow/ice. No rock salt here, they use sand instead. This means the roads are horrible, even today 3 days after the last snowfall it is icy and cars are stuck on hills everywhere. It is snowing now and there is snow forecast for the next 5 days with some frozen rain mixed in for tomorrow.

The drivers are terrible, I see people spinning out, trucks weaving in and out of other drivers being more careful and skidding while doing it. It is nasty. My hatred of turning right on red is in full force. Tons of near accidents caused by people trying to turn right on red while cars skid toward them on ice. As a cyclist I already hate "right turn on red", but this week gives me even more reason to hate it. Hopefully we can avoid driving until this mess is over.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Day

This is our second bit of snow this week, but today we got significant snow not just a dusting. The roads are not good because everything is hilly here and there is limited snow clearing. Everything will freeze tonight so it will be worse tomorrow. Today though it is very pretty.

Casey and Lucy had quite a bit of fun so far in the snow. No pictures but Lucy loves it and romps around while Casey shivers and wants to go inside quickly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Random notes and thoughts

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. I came down with some unpleasant cough and it has been making me quite unhappy. Hopefully the various medications I am taking will help. On the bright side, when I went to the doctor, I see that my blood pressure has gone down nicely and my doctor is happy with my diet and exercise. Overall the visit motivated me even more to get down to a nice fighting trim. My return to cycling is great and I want to get fast and fit.

Late last week I was planning on posting some notes about bikes. I noticed that my Bike Envy post has the most views in this blog. So I thought I would make a new updated version. Unfortunately I have become overtaken with the desire for a particular bike. The raptobike lowracer pictured above. A Dutch company is the manufacturer of this bike and it comes at a very nice price point of 950 euros (~$1335 USD today). This is a pretty nice price point for a lowracer, given that the closest comparison is an Optima Baron which goes for $2450 USD; more typically the Challenge Fujin SL goes for about $3000 USD, and carbon fiber lowracers are typically $5000-6000 USD. Additionally the bike is FWD (Front wheel drive) and doesn't have to deal with the turning radius issues that crops up on lowracer rwd designs. Fards over at BROL wrote up an excellent review of this bike as well.

The end result is that I can't get this bike out of my mind. It is low, it is fast, it isn't too heavy, it is inexpensive, it is easy to transport. Stability on the bike is supposed to be excellent. It has also been designed as a bike for the masses, easy to ride, durable, low maintenance. The price point also means it is greatly suited to experimenting on. I think a tailbox would be easy to make and even potentially a full fairing. So though I wanted to put up a list of bikes showing all of my potential desires and reasons why I like each one, the list is now just one bike: the raptobike, it has captured my imagination. I keep thinking that I want one with a rohloff hub, fenders (mudguards), and a lighting system. It would be a great commuter, brevet machine and all around fun bike. The wider tires on it (compared to the Corsa) would make it more stable on gravel or rough terrain. It is also lower which means less distance to fall.

I need to fix up the trike and the vivo. Both are going to go up for sale, the combined value of those two will get me a raptobike in 2009.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rat Terrier vs Shark

This man dives into the water and punches a shark to retrieve his rat terrier from its clutches. The dog is adorable.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blackwater Mercs indicted

Finally some of the Blackwater thugs who massacred civilians, some of whom where fleeing or had hands up, will face justice. One of the mercenaries has flipped and will testify against the five other guards.

I saw the news on Firedoglake. It is a damn good thing that we are finally willing to stand up to the lawlessness of our mercenary forces in Iraq. It is insane how much crap we let Blackwater, KBR, and crew get away with. If we value the rule of law we need to put these criminals in front of a judge.


I have been thinking about the pedal issue. I think I am going back to the SPDs for the short term and waiting for better weather to get used to the speedplays. I don't want a rash of more falls to screw with my confidence and the bike.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas eating guide for off-season cyclists

I gleaned this guide from a mailing list for randonneurs. Quite funny and good to read.
Following are some tips for cyclists worried about off season training. Well, you can worry about that after Jan 1.
Give yourself a break!
After all, didn't you put in 1,000 or 5,000 or 10,000 butt-searing kilometers on that saddle this past season?

And won't you be out there the very second that there's a narrow strip of visible tarmac along your favourite country road through the spring snowdrifts and run-off?

This is the season to rejoice one of the prime reasons why we cycle so hard during the season -- so we can eat, eat and eat some more!

With that in mind, here's the holiday eating guide for off-season cyclists:

  1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rumballs.
  2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare.In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Holiday Time!
  3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
  4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a road bike with suspension forks!
  5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hellooo ?
  6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
  7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.
  8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Thanksgiving?
  9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
  10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips;
    start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember that...

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine glass in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Week 8 training stats

Week Weight Avg HR Elevation Gain Minutes on Bike Mileage on Bike
10/12/2008 – 10/18/2008 240 139 1641 141 28.44
10/19/2008 – 10/25/2008 230 139 1127 83 8.73
10/26/2008 – 11/1/2008 230 122 3741 413 71.2
11/2/2008 – 11/8/2008 227.8 139.7 2493 262 40.12
11/9/2008 – 11/15/2008 223.6 111.5 3931 207 31.87
11/16/2008 – 11/22/2008 224.2 142 4648 339 56.89
11/23/2008 – 11/29/2008 222.6 140 4354 502 98.61
11/30/2008 – 12/6/2008 221.6 n/a 1157 78 11.65

Being sick shot my milage but I did lose a pound anyway. Probably due to being sick. Ah well, hopefully I will get over this horrible cough and congestion soon.

Not good enough

So I thought I was happy and "dialed in". This obviously means I should change something major, right?!? And so I did. I bought new shoes and a set of speedplay x5 pedals. The extra float and road style shoe should help a ton with my hot foot issue which is still nagging me. It has affected my starting and stopping confidence since I have never used speedplay x-series style pedals before. It is a different feel and will take a bit of time to get used to.

I did a number of test rides this morning in the rain and I think I have it down but I suspect I will have issues as it is harder for me than the SPDs were. But I have 8 years of SPD experience, there is a lot of muscle memory that needs retraining. On the other hand, the shoes are very comfy and feel great with my superfeet. I also don't feel any pressure on my metatarsals compared to the SPDs.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I just found this image on the net. It is too funny not to share. Enjoy :)


The elusive quality that many cyclists strive for. I have been avoiding training for speed since I am just coming back from so much time off the bike. If you look at my training rides you will see a pretty abysmal average speed of either ~10mph or more recently ~12mph. This number is pretty low and won't be good for brevets or the STP. So I need speed training. There are two approaches to this, one is finding a group ride that pushes your speed but won't kill you. The other is high intensity sprints like those mentioned in this article for tri-athletes.

I think I can start looking at group rides, I feel much more comfortable on the Corsa and group rides are doable now. The other thing is to be self-sufficient and pick out a nice course that I can use for speed training after a 90 minute ride. It is definitely starting to get time for speed training. I can't be a slow poke forever, it will be too embarrassing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Streamliner followup

So I was thinking about a homebuilt streamliner in a previous post. Considering the idea led me to ask "What bike would be a good platform to use for a streamliner?". Of course this leads to the question of what do I want to do with a streamliner? At this point I think my goals for a streamliner are simple.
  1. Get familiar with the process of making a fairing and mooring it to a bike.
  2. The streamliner resulting from this should be practical, useful for commuting and foul weather riding.
  3. The streamliner must have some cargo capacity built in.
  4. It should have internal mounting for front and rear lights.
  5. It should be highly visible.
  6. It should protect me against the elements
  7. It should have moderate aerodynamic improvements from the unfaired bike.
  8. Front and Rear suspension are desirable as well.
Looking at my stable the Vivo is a great platform for a commuter streamliner. It has an upright position, its steering should fit into a basic fairing, it has suspension and it isn't unreasonably high.

Dialed in

It has been 231 miles give or take on the Corsa and I feel like I have the bike dialed in both for fit and handling. Fit wise I feel very good, and today during the ride home I was very confident navigating stop and go traffic as well as tight turns. I was day dreaming a bit, thinking about making the Vivo a test project for a fairing, and just naturally turned left through a traffic circle with traffic coming on three sides. It was a nice tight turn and easy confident movement, I then had to wait for an oncoming car just after I descended the hill and was going to turn left into my complex. These were nerve racking moments before that I would have tried to avoid by preemptive braking or otherwise scheduling my arrival at this decision point to avoid conflict. Now it just feels natural.

This is a big deal for me as I was a bit nervous before, twitchy you might say. Now that confidence I feel on an upright bike is also there for my Corsa. Kiley and I are good friends now at 231 miles. This is good since I will now do group rides and training rides with both SIR and Cascade Cycling.

Homemade streamliners

Oh dear. I have been pointed to the Mars group in NY who make homemade streamliners like the one shown here. This is seriously cool stuff. John Tetz had a 40mph fall in one of these foam streamliners, he was uninjured except for a pinky injury (no lie) though the foam was damaged, he flatted out and there was bike damage. But a 40 mph naked crash on a bike would be life threatening, so that is pretty amazing. Additionally John Tetz gets a 35% aerodynamic performance increase from his 7lb shell designed for transportation usage not racing. I am starting to get very interested now. My laptop + commuter clothes is more than 7lbs, 7lbs is not a massive penalty on climbs considering a 35% aero bonus. Here is a list of the tools he says are needed:
The simple tools needed to build the fairing are several razor blades, contact cement, and a professional heat gun (the kind you find in a hardware store, NOT a hair dryer), plus some thin vinyl upholstery material for hinges and some hook and loop material (e.g. Velcro). Other materials you might need are some Coroplast (Ref 2). Seems like no fairing is complete without some Coroplast which is used to regain lost stiffness around the side door and along the "bomb bay" doors.
John Tetz does his work in his attic, the Spollen brothers do theirs in a 1 car garage. This is the kind of space I can work with. Hmm. This might be an interesting passion. There are obstacles but time, effort, and research will be on a hobbyists schedule and budget. This could be fun.


I haven't been feeling wonderful lately and am fighting a bit of a motivation gap for my commute. It is worse in the mornings because my cough and general malaise is also worse in the morning. I am still commuting by bike but I am starting to leave later and later. The weather is supposed to be nice the rest of the week so hopefully I can arrest this behavior.

OTOH the results are nice too, but I like to cycle commute for the cycling's sake, I am not very good at losing weight.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Commute home

The commute home was nice. Seattle area weather did the usual thing and defied the predictions. It was predicted rain in the morning and dry evening, instead it was dry in the morning and rained in the evening. The Conti GP4000 tires did very well on the ride home. The contrast is great compared to my Bontrager Hardcase tires. Though these tires may not last as long as the Hardcase they handle so much better. Good grip, nice cornering and a softer more steady ride. I feel much safer with the Conti GP4000, at this point I consider them a great buy. Now to see how long they last.

My front headlight is a bit disappointing at the moment. It feels dim compared to my trikes halogen setup with a water bottle battery. I am still waiting on my dynamo light from Dale. It is a shipping delay, not his fault but I am eager to get the better light on my bike. The one arm bandit mount pictured here should allow me to mount both my IQ Fly and my current light. That will give me a backup light and I can run both for more coverage.

Hunters beware, your prey isn't always so facile

A hunter recently discovered that his prey was not as helpless as it appears in a recent incident occurring in Montana. I think this hunter rediscovered the risks of hunting include more than just indiscriminate hunters who fire at anything that moves and Dick Cheney.


I rode in today. There was no rain and it is only supposed to get nicer as the day progresses, the roads were damp but it was a nice ride. This was my first ride on the Conti 4000 GP tires. I love them so far. I felt more connected to the road and the ride was softer. On the way home I will see how they corner. Fit wise I think my seat was moved too far forward during my weekend experiments. I am going to slide it back a bit for my ride home. I hit the bar with my knees a few times and don't think I am extending my legs enough.

I also tested out the new stuff sacks my wife got me for our 11th year anniversary. They are perfect, I like to keep stuff separated rather then just dump everything willy nilly in my panniers. I use one stuff sack for my clothes which makes getting ready simple as well as my unpack and shower clean and fast.

I passed a motorcycle cop on the way up 7th today. He was hiding behind a parked car, obviously running a speed trap. I waved and he told me I was going pretty fast. It made me smile, I do like motorcycle cops, I always have good experiences with them. I still remember a motorcycle cop in Beaverton who told me to be more aggressive taking the lane during certain maneuvers. I think cops who ride motorcycles understand the feeling of vulnerability that cyclists have. Both of us know that any collision or accident will result in our coming off worse for wear and we are aware that motorists are just annoyed that we are on the road.

In other news they identified the driver who drove into the El Tour de Tuscon injuring 10 cyclists and hospitalizing 5 of them, as William Arthur Wilson. Still no charges in the hit and run though they published a biography of the perpetrator in the Tuscon Citizen. I am still pissed off about this, one of the cyclists, Gary L. Stuebe, is still hospitalized and has been transferred to the neurological institute at a Phoenix hospital. I don't have any sympathy for William Wilson and actually resent being asked to have sympathy for him. The dehumanization of the victims is proceeding nicely in the local press making sure to label all the victims as cyclists without names. Hopefully the perpetrator will be charged with a felony due to the hit and run.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Excellent comparison testing of bike Lights

Our UK brethren did some excellent testing of many battery and dynamo lights. Superbright LEDs have really matured and do very well in this testing. Here is the link .

The light measurements are very interesting with a nice bar graph. But what really got me was the outside path and brightness tests. I stole the image in case their storage of this goes away at some point. Click the image for a full size version.

(Note: this is a UK test, they drive on the left, the left side of the path is what is illuminated, don't look right and see the darker areas and judge)

The Edulux does very well and if I ever upgrade to that light I will be happy but I really wanted to compare the Dinotte 200L and the IQ Fly. A lot of cyclists swear by the 200L and I have an IQ Fly on order. I was particularly pleased by this comparison since the IQ Fly looks very good between those too. I think my IQ Fly + cateye helmet light will be perfect for my needs.

Did your lights show up in this test? How did they do?

Green America

One of the things we will hear a lot about is how we don't have money to spend to get ourselves well again. This is a load of crap but it will be the way the Republicans and Conservatives try to concern troll any plan to fix health-care or the environment. So I find this article very powerful. It talks about how the technology to reduce our emissions by 95% exists today and could be done with a combination of regulation and carbon pricing. It points out the roll of both regulation and smart carbon pricing rules. The summary from the article is a good read and also useful as a primer before reading the entire thing:
Making the unrealistic assumption of zero technical breakthroughs in efficiency or renewable technology, the total cost of a complete transition to 95 percent (or better) emissions-free energy in the U.S. would be about $1.7 trillion annually, if financed at 5 percent over 30 years. (There is no reason a 20-year build-out could not be financed over 30 years. It would provide paybacks for at least that long, and many aspects such as transmission lines and railroads would last 40 years or longer.) From a social standpoint, total paybacks would be $600 billion a year more than this, meaning in the 20th year, the economy would grow $600 billion more per year net than without such investments (not counting global warming reductions, but only immediate and short-term social returns.) Energy costs only, not counting possible fossil-fuel price increases or any social costs, would be about 31 percent higher in this scenario than under a business-as usual-scenario. However the particular subsidies I projected start at around $275 billion annually, average to $365 billion a year for the first 20 years, and peak at $475 billion annually in the 20th year. They drop back to $275 billion a year in the 21st year, as the renewable industries mature and can get by without further subsidy. The other $275 billion continues for another 10 years to pay back the green debt. These not only overcome most of the bottlenecks to phasing out fossil fuels, but they also compensate for what would otherwise be increases in energy costs.

I recommend you read the article and see for yourself. One of the things about the crises we are in right now is that we can't solve all of them without drastic actions on numerous fronts. Luckily it appears Obama is aware of that. Lets see how this plays out.


I am coughing up mucas and feeling like crap. I didn't ride in today because of it (and the fact that I had an extra 10 lbs of crap to carry in today).

Feeling like crap gets me thinking a bit about how we are sick today as a country. We need to get better and that means changing our lifestyle to allow us to get better. We need to wean ourselves off of our car-focused lifestyle. We need to fix our health-care and transit. We need to move to non-oil based energy sources. Otherwise we will all be sick for a good long while.

Forced love affair

No Impact Man has a nice article up on how cars were forced on us. Follow the link for more data but I do want to pass on this quote block.

What is interesting to me here is that GM was forced to pay fines due to anti-trust issues related to this. Some people like to call this talk of rail killing the city-lights conspiracy as if labeling it a conspiracy makes it not real. The 1949 anti-trust fine pretty much blows that idea out of the water.
In a 1922 memo that will live in infamy, GM President Alfred P. Sloan established a unit aimed at dumping electrified mass transit in favor of gas-burning cars, trucks and buses.

Just one American family in 10 then owned an automobile. Instead, we loved our 44,000 miles of passenger rail routes managed by 1,200 companies employing 300,000 Americans who ran 15 billion annual trips generating an income of $1 billion. According to Snell, "virtually every city and town in America of more than 2,500 people had its own electric rail system."

But GM lost $65 million in 1921. So Sloan enlisted Standard Oil (now Exxon), Philips Petroleum, glass and rubber companies and an army of financiers and politicians to kill mass transit.

The campaigns varied, as did the economic and technical health of many of the systems themselves. Some now argue that buses would have transcended many of the rail lines anyway. More likely, they would have hybridized and complemented each other.

But with a varied arsenal of political and financial subterfuges, GM helped gut the core of America's train and trolley systems. It was the murder of our rail systems that made our "love affair" with the car a tragedy of necessity.

In 1949 a complex federal prosecution for related crimes resulted in an anti-trust fine against GM of a whopping $5000. For years thereafter GM continued to bury electric rail systems by "bustituting" gas-fired vehicles.