24 October 2016

Warning: Rant Ahead!

I have been accused of being a grumpy old man - mostly by Mrs. Bike-junkie.

I am not here to dispute that statement. In fact, I frequently relish and enjoy my curmudgeonly status. It makes rants like the following not seem out of character.

What has spiked my righteous indignation today, you may ask? It is a common thorn in the side that goes by the name of "Cyclists who throw their punctured tubes and other trash on the side of the road instead of picking it up."

This morning, I was back to my usual commuting routine after a week off boating and attending a wedding (unfortunately, two separate events. I think a wedding on a boat would be pretty epic) in the state just south of the one I call home. I came up to a left hand turn on my route that has a signal button for cyclists, and saw this.

I am truly confused by this display. I frequently come across punctured tubes and spent CO2 cartridges discarded on the side of the road, curse the Lycra-clad Fred that couldn't be bothered to pick up his trash and stuff it in his jersey back pocket with a festering case of saddle sores, and pick it up and stuff it in my bag to be patched later and added to my growing supply of spare tubes. But to dangle the punctured tube from the turn signal, and to stuff the box behind it? Not to mention the Ziploc baggie at the bottom containing another tube? It defies the senses.

Here is a better shot at what I recovered:

I don't know if they were going for points by "attempting" to pick up after themselves, but they still lose, because all they did is nicely organize their trash. Unless they have an app that will summon a drone to rush in a spare tube in case of emergency, they packed it with them. So, what is so hard about packing it out? Are they trying to increase their wattage on the back half of their training ride by jettisoning any excess weight? Well, I can tell you by ditching the few ounces of tube and cardboard, their effort went up from "you suck" to "you still suck, and now you're a littering slime-bag".

If you leave your tubes on the side of the road, YOU SUCK! No way around it, and no sugar-coating. 

07 October 2016

Video of the Day

When I saw this video on FB, I immediately thought of my 14-yo stepson. He is constantly whipping and nae nae-ing, as well as dabbing (I neither whip, nae nae nor dab since I'm an adult, so I don't know if I'm even spelling those right.)

So, without any further ado, lace up your dancing cleats, and enjoy 26 popular dance crazes done on the bike.

29 September 2016

The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades - A Lot of Them

I love sunglasses, no big bombshell there. I've mentioned that a time or two before.

I've also mentioned that my sunglasses collection is bordering on the obscene in quantity. I've managed to pick up a pair or two over the years that I've mishandled this blog. Most of the time, the glasses are tucked away in a drawer, and there they stay - except for a select few that are considered "favorites".

I decided earlier this summer that this was not acceptable. Why have them if you never wear them? So, I wore them. Each pair had their time in the sun.

Each commute, I grabbed a different pair and wore them on the bike to work. I also took a selfie, because if it isn't on social media, it didn't happen. And because nothing is more boring than looking at numerous pictures of my face, along with the fact that yesterday I discovered the joys of iMovie, I created a short movie of the escapade.

After watching that, I've noticed that I make funny faces when I'm taking a selfie on the bike.

The sunglasses in order:

-Smith Optics Trace (discontinued model)
-Bollé 6th Sense
-Guidelines Del Mar
-One by Optic Nerve Freestyle
-Bollé Jude
-Oakley Fast Jacket (with Transitions lenses)
-Switch Sunglasses B7
-Bollé Bolt
-Optic Nerve (can't remember the model, I've had these for a while and the name has rubbed off the temple)
-Optic Nerve Vapor
-Smith Optics Pivlock V2
-Switch Sunglasses Lycan
-Vintage Rudy Project 1986 UCI World Champion Edition (obviously these I didn't get at Interbike or Outdoor Retailer. Every so often you need to rock it old school)
-Optic Nerve Boneyard (discontinued model)
-Bollé Keelback
-Adidas Evil Eye Halfrim Pro

28 September 2016

Interbike 2016: A Video Odyssey

Instead of doing a long, drawn-out post for Interbike this year, I decided to play with iMovie and create a short video with a long, drawn out description of what I saw and rode. Enjoy!

In the video:

-more Van Dessel WTF (yes, I like this bike. Alot)
-Surly Krampus (yes, I like Surly bikes too)
-State Bicycle Co. showing off their Simpsons branded paint scheme
-Oyama folding bikes. A newcomer in the folding bike market - that has been making folding bikes for 50 years. 
-Hyper BMX bikes (my 13yo son is a fan of their bikes)
-T-Shirts by Pedal Pushers Club
-Still more Van Dessel (get over it)
-Jelly Belly team Car and Tim Jackson doing his best Vanna White at the Inno booth
-Headsweats Bigfoot collection (just for my 18yo, who we affectionately call "Squatch") 
-Shirts from Handlebar Mustache
-Schiller water bike
-Ride Bikes, Drink Coffee, Listen to Johnny Cash. Need we say more?
-Movie night: American Flyers starring Kevin Costner's porn stache
-Showers Pass CEO, Kyle Ranson showing off the new Hi-Vis Torch jacket
-Raleigh Stuntman All-road bike
-Offerings must be made to the Gods of Speed
-Fix-It Sticks and their new mounting bracket
-Advocate Cycles Lorax - 100% of profits for Advocacy, Because  Bikes.
-Beautiful lugwork on a Voodoo Cycles frame
-Fun helmet cover (can't remember the company name for the life of me, thought it would be fun for -the Mobile Social)
-Ryan Williams, some schlub who thinks he can write, and Travis Pastrana.
-Denise Mueller, women's bicycle land speed record holder (147mph) and her bike
-Chris Chance and his 1998 Fat Chance Ti
-Cyclelogical Transformer frame/messenger bag
and, to finish off the video, some pics and video from the Bike Hugger Mobile Social and a healthy breakfast for the drive home.

Some of these items will make a return in a full review. I hope you enjoyed a brief look at interbike.

27 September 2016

Product Review - Coros Linx Smart Cycling Helmet

Music makes everything better. It is the ambiance to our lives.

Except cycling. Riding with earbuds or earphones is not better*. It blocks your ability to hear oncoming death in the form of that truck barreling down upon you.

At Outdoor Retailer back in August, I talked to the fine folks at Coros, who were kind enough to send me their LINX Smart Cycling helmet for review.

Aside from protecting your head from impacting other hard objects such as the road like all good helmets do, the Coros Linx helmet allows you to listen to your favorite tunes, and get navigation assistance while still hearing everything around you.

The Coros Linx system is made up of three parts, the helmet, Smart Remote, and app.

The helmet uses bone-conduction technology to transmit sound in the form of vibrations into your upper cheekbones, keeping your ears unblocked so you can hear your surroundings while still listening to your music. The helmet also has a wind-resistant microphone mounted at the front of the helmet so you can make and receive calls.

The Smart Remote mounts to your handlebars or stem, and allows you to control via bluetooth your music volume and selection.

The app, which is available for both iPhone and Android, allows you save rides and routes, gives you audio feedback on your speed and distance, and also will notify your emergency contact (saved on the app) if the helmet receives an impact, such as when there is a collision.

How does it work? Well, I have to say that I was impressed. It is still on Kickstarter (where they have surpassed their goal by over 300%), and there are still some minor bugs that need to be resolved - which when I stopped by their booth last week at Interbike, they assured me that they were aware of and were working on a resolution.

The sound quality from the bone conducting transducers located on the front straps is good. It isn't audiophile quality, but you aren't sitting in your den, in front of the fire listening to your vintage record collection on a vacuum tube amplified turntable. It is loud enough that I can hear it clearly unless I'm riding right next to heavy traffic. The microphone is well protected from the wind, when talking to Mrs. Bike-junkie and the little bike-junkies, they were surprised to know that I was still riding. They only noise that they could hear was my wheezing and panting as I was climbing. I tried the emergency contact notification (by dropping the helmet on the ground, not by getting hit by a car) to see if it would notify my wife. **One note on it, you have to be running the app in order for that feature to work, which it did. My wife was sent a text saying that there was a collision at such and such GPS coordinates. It would be handy, except for the fact that I've "cried wolf" enough times by testing out other such systems that I think all of my family just now figure that I'm simply dropping my helmet and not in any real danger.

Battery life. All of the data I found said battery life on the helmet was 10+ hours. I wore the helmet for my commutes to and from work listening to music and running Strava. My commute is about 45 minutes each way, and the battery held up for over 5 1/2 weeks. By my admittedly poor math skills, that means that I was able to get 40+ hours out of the battery. That is pretty impressive.

I mentioned minor bugs. My biggest complaint is that there is no Siri or "Hey Google" connectivity. Receiving calls is easy, you simply tap the middle button on the Smart Remote to answer an incoming call, but short of pulling out your phone and dialing, there is no way of placing a call from the remote or helmet. I have been assured that they are working on getting the licensing so they can incorporate that feature into future updates. There is a walkie talkie button on the remote and on the app it says that the walkie talkie is disconnected. I don't know if that is a future planned upgrade, or if that is how Siri will connect, but  there is room to improve the product. Another upgrade - that they have said both on their website and in person is in the works - that would be nice is cross-pollination with other popular apps such as Strava and Map My Ride. I would also like to be able to repeat or skip backwards on my playlist. Sometimes you have that power song that you want to listen to again,

On the whole, I am very impressed with the helmet. Riding with music and navigation, at the same time still being able to hear the world around you makes for an enjoyable commute. My complaints are minor, and easily fixable via a software upgrade.

The MSRP for the Coros Linx Smart Helmet system is $199.99, but if you back them through their kickstarter, you can get the helmet until October 24th for 40% off, or $120.00

*All opinions expressed here are mine. You may disagree, and that is your right to do so. 

26 September 2016

Victim Blaming: Go Ahead and Blame Us, We're Used to It.

Watch the following video. Go ahead, I'll wait for you. 

Are you back? Good. I missed you. No, really, I did. 

So, what's wrong with the video you may ask? While I agree it is not the smartest thing to stand between a child and free candy, or under a falling piano. The difference between those and a lorry (that's the Queen's English for "truck") making a left turn (right turn if you are in any other part of the world that doesn't call a truck a "lorry") is that the lorry has the ability to slow down and wait for the cyclist, whereas the falling piano and kids fighting for candy are forces of nature, subject to the laws of physics and oncoming sugar comas.

The video does a fantastic job of blaming the victim - the cyclist in this case - for not realizing that the lorry coming up behind him is going to blaze past him and make a left hand turn. Of course it is the cyclist's fault that he was in the way, I mean he was in front of the lorry, how dare he!

Blaming the cyclist is so common it is almost involuntary, like sneezing. Car hits cyclist? Must have been the cyclist's fault for being on the road. At least he was wearing a helmet! Oh, he wasn't? Then it definitely was the cyclist's fault! 

How 'bout we try something different? Instead of putting a video out showing a cyclist clearly doing nothing wrong and saying that it is their fault, let's instead put a video out telling the lorry driver to watch for cyclists and not make left turns into them. 

Fortnately, I haven't been involved in any right hooks (left hooks in the Queen's Monarchy), but I have come close to being hooked, and in every instance, the car has come from behind me, thinking that they are fast enough and far enough in front of me that they can make it, or not even considering that I am there. 

I'm not faulting their attempt at education - a little education goes a long way - but let's educate the right group. 

06 September 2016

Product Review - Swrve Jeans

As a commuter, I feel that the best articles of clothing are ones that provide functionality and comfort on the bike, but don't elicit stares at work or other functions where Lycra shorts would not be the most practical choice.

Swrve sent me a pair of jeans for review earlier this year, and finally the temperature dropped low enough that riding in jeans wouldn't cause heatstroke. 

Swrve makes their jeans using  CORDURA® denim to give them some serious durability and stretch while maintaining a comfortable feel against the skin. Other cycling friendly features include a gusseted crotch, low front waist to avoid digging into your stomach, and a high back so everybody doesn't see that tramp stamp you got back in the 90's on a drunken dare they also have a reflective strip on the inside of the legs (both legs on the slim fit, right leg only on the skinny and  regular jeans) that is exposed when you roll up the cuff. The back pockets are large enough to fit a mini u-lock, and feature an accessory pocket as well. 

How do they fit? Swrve sent me a pair of the slim fit jeans. I normally stay away from anything labeled "skinny" or "slim" because of the way they strangle my thighs, The Swrve jeans, however, were very comfortable. Another problem I have encountered with CORDURA® denim is the back pockets tend to be saggy when you put your wallet there, to the point that it feels like it will fall out when riding. The rear pockets on the Swrve jeans are deep, and they snugly held my wallet without fear of it falling out on the road. The slim jeans also did not have articulated knees (the skinny and regular fit jeans do), but the stretch of the fabric did not restrict movement. 

If you don't like looking like you are out on a training ride every time you swing your leg over the top tube, and want a pair of jeans that work for the commute and look stylish enough for a night out on the town with the wife or significant other, Swrve has you covered.