The Los Angeles metropolitan area led the nation in traffic jams in 2005, with rush-hour drivers spending an extra 72 hours a year on average stuck in traffic, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The metropolitan areas of San Francisco-0akland, Washington, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland, and Atlanta were tied for the second most gridlocked areas, according to the study by the Texas Transportation Institute.

Drivers in those three areas spent an extra 60 hours on average during peak periods, defined as 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the study found.

But drivers in other regions around the country were not much luckier. The report ( found traffic gridlock worsened in all 437 large, medium and small urban centers in 2005.

“What causes congestion? In a word, ‘you.’ Most of the Mojave Desert is not congested,? wrote report authors David Schrank, associate research scientist, and Tim Lomax, research engineer.

The Texas Transportation Institute is an arm of the Texas A&M University System in College Station, Texas.

In the last 20 years, travel has increased by 105 percent in metropolitan areas but road capacity — measured by freeways and major thoroughfares — has only risen 45 percent.

Travel by public transportation in 85 urban areas climbed 30 percent in the past two decades.

The study found that drivers in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, area had average delays of 58 hours.

San Diego drivers faced an average delay of 57 hours, and Houston drivers had an average delay of 56 hours. Detroit was in a three-way tie with San Jose, California, and Orlando, with average delays of 54 hours, according to the report.

Traffic forced U.S. urban dwellers to travel 4.2 billion hours more and buy an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel in 2005, for a total cost of $78 billion, the study said.

That worked out to 220 million more hours and 140 million more gallons of fuel than in 2004, with the total cost rising $5 billion.

Solving the problem not only includes focusing on “critical? corridors and easing choke points but making work schedules more flexible and building more areas where people can walk to work, the study said.

Courtesy of Yahoo News.

Richard Cranium

Lance, Anthony (not pictured) and I headed to Seal Beach for a quick 30 mile ride. Lance is testing the KHS Flite 300, so we wanted to see how it would perform as a recreational road bike. As usual, I take my KHS F20-R for these rides. The bike always commands attention, but today I had a roadie ask me the following:

Q. What would the bike like to be when it grows up?
A. The bike doesn’t need to grow up, it is able to keep up with the bigger bikes.
Q. (To Lance) Aren’t you embarrassed of being seen riding with this guy (me)?
A. mmmmphhh (biting my lips so I won’t say what a pompous a$$ the guy is)

Anyhow, I can’t blame the guy for being bitter, could it be that he is still frustrated at the Tour de France fiasco? or maybe that Landis was found guilty? or maybe he forgot to take his EPO this morning…

In times like this, I’m proud to say that I’m a Bike Commuter first, a Mountain Biker Second, and a roadie last.

Last year, I had the opportunity to write a how-to article for the good folks over at C.I.C.L.E. Since then, I have amassed a small collection of hardware (about $15.00 worth) that makes a truly universal homemade headset cup press and crown race installer.

The parts of my handy dandy headset press:

The parts of the basic press include a selection of large washers, a piece of 3/8″ threaded rod (sometimes referred to as “allthread�?), a pair of flange nuts and two thick nylon washers to reduce friction between nuts and press-washers.

Don’t forget the nylon washers — it makes things a whole lot smoother:

As in the previous article, I must set out this disclaimer — I didn’t invent this…the concept of a homemade cup press has been around for a long time. I’ve seen versions using only washers and versions using sections of PVC pipe as cup adapters. However, I have discovered a piece of hardware in the plumbing department of my local home-improvement store that really makes this setup a piece of cake to use — some type of copper reducing fitting. Here is the heart of my system:

These little beauties taper down from about 2″ down to about 7/8″. Since they’re made of copper, they are way softer than the typical cups you might find in a vintage or modern headset — even lightweight aluminum cups. And, they are universal — they’ll fit the tightest vintage 1 inch threaded headset…oddball 1 1/4 inch headsets from the mid 90s…modern 1 1/8 inch headsets…heavy-duty One Point Five downhill headsets…even old one-piece bottom bracket cups (Ashtabula) found on cheap beach cruisers and old BMX bikes!!

The press is set up like this: grease up and place the headset cups in the top and bottom of the frame’s headtube. Grease and insert the copper fittings and stack appropriately-sized washers on top of those copper fittings. Pass the allthread through the headtube, slip the nylon washers down onto the washer stacks and thread on the two flange nuts. Here is a picture of how the assembly should look:

Then, it is a simple matter of cranking the nuts down with an appropriate wrench (sometimes you will need two wrenches if the cups are really tight). The copper fittings help to keep the headset cups straight as they enter the headtube. Go slowly — sometimes the washer stacks will slip to one side and they should be pushed back into place with your fingers. Crank those cups in until they bottom out and you’re done!

Now, all that remains is to assemble the rest of the headset and ride away into the sunset…but wait! What do you do about those stubborn fork crown races? Well, back to the plumbing department — you’ll need a length of PVC pipe and a plastic endcap. Bring your fork with you to make sure the pipe fits over the steerer. I wound up using a piece of 1 1/4″ thinwall pipe for this fork. Wrap the bottom 2 inches of the pipe with electrical tape to keep it from splitting, slip the crown race down, slip the pipe on and pound it down with a hammer like so:

When the bottom of the pipe becomes mushroomed and beat up from pounding, simply saw off a half-inch and rewrap with tape. I’ve used this same pipe for about 10 headsets…it’s steadily getting shorter, but the whole thing only cost about a dollar. Remember also that if you have to hit the pipe more than 5 or 6 times to seat the crown race, it’s better to take the race off and “dress” the base of the fork’s steerer with a needle file to remove excess paint and weld splatter — the crown race should just pop on and should NOT require brute force.

There, you’ve saved a bunch of money by doing it yourself — no expensive tools required, no trip to the bike shop. Doesn’t that feel great?

Power Grips Update

I installed the Power Grips Pedals on RL’s 925 and all I can say is that I hated them. Before you send me hate mail, please remember that the I’m riding the 925 as a fixed gear not as a single-speed freewheel. I was able to strap one of my shoes, but for the life of me, I just couldn’t strap the other. I was trying to do all this while riding around my non-traffic congested block, so the thought of fiddling with the pedals while riding with traffic just didn’t set well.

RL and I switched bikes again and when I removed the Power Grips pedals I left them on my truck’s bumper. Yeah, you know what happened next.. bye bye Power Grips. Too bad because I was going to give them a go on my other bikes. So what am I going to install on my Swobo Sanchez? I have a pair of Crank Bros Quattro pedals that are not getting riding time, this means that I’m gonna have to find some Vans shoes that are clipless compatible.

A few weeks ago, I posted a “first look�? at the Seattle Sports Fast Pack waterproof pannier.

I’ve had a chance to really ride with this bag — and I LOVE it!! The bag has carried some heavy loads (dress shoes, a stack of big library books, groceries) and has remained absolutely waterproof through some brutal late-summer Florida rainstorms.

In my earlier post, I talked about the great attachment system. The combination of rigid clips and a rotating toggle have made this bag impervious to shifting or “jumping�? off the rear rack of my bike, even with a 20 lb. load in it. It doesn’t rattle or sway in any way. Here’s a look at the attachment system for those who missed my earlier article:

I also really enjoy the ease with which I can open and close the bag to fill it and remove items. I was using some cheapie Nashbar-branded panniers before I got this bag to review, and with that one I have to unclip two buckles, flip open a flap and then undo a drawstring to get at my goodies. With the Seattle Sports pannier, I merely unclip the buckle and roll the top twice to open it. Reclosing it is just as simple — two quick rolls with my wrists, clip the buckle and I’m off!

The fabric, besides being completely waterproof, has also proved to be quite durable. It doesn’t show any signs of wear, even after I scraped that side of the bike against a narrow concrete passageway I sometimes pass through on my way to work. Sharp corners of books that I’ve carried haven’t damaged the bag in any way, either.

I still dislike the inky black interior of the bag — I wish the bag was lined with a lighter-colored material to help me find small items in the bottom, but in practice this really hasn’t caused me any problems.

In any case, this Seattle Sports Fast Pack bag appears to be just the ticket if you have stout commuting loads, live in wet areas and are tired of your other panniers flapping and jingling as you ride. For more information and pricing, take a look at Seattle Sports’ bike gear page.

Now, if I could only scrape together enough cash to buy one for the other side!