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I’ve managed to shred another one. Within 2 and a half years this will be my third BB I’ve gone through. I’m kinda looking for a little advice on what I can do so I don’t have to put in a new BB every damn year. I, myself, am a big guy. This is what I attributed it to at first, but I’ve been told that has got nothing to do with it.  What I was told was that leg power and mashing up hill in top gears is what will do them in.  I have got some strong legs, thanks to the hills of B-more, and I kind of enjoy mashing up hills.

So, I guess what I’m asking is if one: Does my weight have something to do with it?

Two: If weight has nothing to do with it, then is there a BB out there that will allow me not to have to change my riding style?

Any advice is welcome. Thanks all. :)

Wednesday in front of Penn Station. No room on the racks. At first thought, damn this sucks where am I gonna lock up.  Then I thought, actually it’s great this happens here. So many bikes, so very cool.

I’ve always thought they looked not only pretty cool, but also very practical. The first mile or so of my commute heads Southeast into the morning sun, and my tinted glasses don’t do the job on the brightest of days. No visored helmets I’ve ever used did a good job or anything except hitting me in the face in a crash when one broke off. For the sake of my eyes (i.e., keeping them in my head), I went visorless this time around.  But I assumed it was either a cap or a helmet. Because, having smashed my head into the ground before, I don’t go anywhere without my shell-hat, AKA, my helmet.

But, duh. (I’m admitting a high level of density here.) I could just wear a cap under my helmet. I mean, at least, I assume I could. I do have the largest size helmet, with the thin pads, and it’s a tight fit. I have an enormous head, seriously.  But maybe I’ll shave my head and get everything under there.

Also, if you’ve worn a Nutcase helmet, you’ve probably noticed the oddly-shaped pads. While “normal” helmets usually give you “striped” helmet head, these sorta make it look like something pooped on you or that you stuck your head into a watermelon or something. A different helmet head when I show up at work would be nice.

Anyway, came across these caps, and they even turn these out in stylish hemp. Pretty neat.

Anyone have any experience with, or recommendations for, cycling caps?

[Image, Walz Caps.]


From Carryology.

I’ve used both, hated both and loved both.  I’ve traveled with two messengers for a weekend trip and hiked with one, and I’ve cycled with very heavy backpacks that almost took me down with crosswinds.

I get a sweaty back; so I was carrying a messenger bag this summer and fall.  But usually I hate adjusting them (even with the cross-strap) and the Messenger Bag Should Sloop (where you’re just bent from those things). I used to like that carrying a messenger bag identified me as “a cyclist.”  But, for one, that’s not really true.  Just as everyone with a backpack is not a backpacker, traveler or vagabond, not everyone with a messenger bag is a cyclist.  Secondly, I don’t want to be identified by my favorite mode of transportation.  I do also walk and take transit a lot.  Plus, well, if we want everyone to cycle, the cyclist/non-cyclist distinction is counterproductive.

I do notice that I over-pack with backpacks.  Right now I have 17 pens and four Moleskines on me.  No kidding.  Add work papers, dissertation drafts, a 40 oz water bottle, lunchtime book and other junk, and it’s a lot more weight on my back.  Sweating is not usually a worry this time of year, but I think my high-riding daypack can get in the way of my helmet a little.

Lately, I’ve been throwing my stuff into an old totebag and strapping it to my rack.  I do feel like a sucker with a bag on and an empty rack.  I call it my Bike Bindle.  I’ll have to do a post about that.


If you’re a big fan like me (or a moderate fan) of Planet Bike’s great bike accessories and advocacy, you probably have one of their lights on your bike.  Their popular LIGHT FINDER for this year is up.  I have the new Blaze 2 Watt and the Blaze 1 Watt.  They’re freakin awesome.  But the Alias?  Wow.  When Baby comes to ElRo and I, we might have to score one of these for whatever cargo bike we adopt.


I did!  I am almost ashamed of the bevy of bike goodies I scored this year for Christmas from my family members.  Even more than last  year.  First, there’s the Christmas bulb pictured above.

Next, there’s the Planet Bike Blaze 2 Watt LED front headlight. I’ve had the 1 Watt Blaze for a while and have really liked it. I’ve sort of always mean to “review” it, but we don’t usually do that stuff — not on principle or anything. Anyway, on the way back from Moonlight Madness, a Honda stopped while Dan and I were pulling out from getting some soda. The driver said something like, “Your light is giving me a headache. That’s a crazy light.” We didn’t know what to say, and I think she got embarrassed because she just said, “Well, at least you’re safe,” and drove off. Another time, more recently, I was riding up Roland Avenue in Hampden. There’s a lady on a motorized chair who rides in the bike lanes. It would piss me off, but she always does it against traffic, always yields to bikes and always gives you a, “Hey, Hon.” I like her.  One night she said, “Hey, buddy, I like your light!” I thanked her as I sped home in the dark. I can’t wait to see what the 2 Watt will evince from folks.


The mini pump I carry is a piece of junk. It was literally the cheapest one at the store that I picked up to have on me just in case. It’s gotten me home before when I got flats. But it’s a work-out to use that beast. My brother got me the Planet Bike Peace Pump (mini) I wanted. It doesn’t quite fit my saddle bag with my other stuff in it like I’d hoped, but I plan to work it out.

Half of the reason we all carry repair gear (I assume) is to help other people out of a jam.  This pump only does presta valves; so I almost feel like a jerk carrying it. Also, my tire gauge needs the schrader adapter anyway. I might have just made more work for myself next time I run a flat. But: It’s so pretty!


I feel like a sucker carrying my repair gear on my back, but I don’t feel like loading up (or paying for) panniers — when it’s hard enough to get my bike out of my bedroom, then apartment, then building. So my brother also gave me the Big Buddy Saddlebag. It attaches just like the Timbuk2 version I bought and returned this fall. However, it wins over the T2 version because it has reflective piping (which you can see in the picture) and because, well, it has a light loop like almost every other saddlebag out there. Timbuk2 was so worried about their logo that they did not include a light loop. I have a rack-mounted light (I run two rears lights), but most folks would lose their lights with the Timbuk2 version, since it covers up the entire seatpost anyway. Bad design, bad. The light loop on the Planet Bike version, by the way, perfectly fits Planet Bike’s rear lights, pretty securely. And the big one holds (with room to spare): 3 tire levers; tire gauge; big patch kit; multi-tool; 32×700 tube.

(Seen here with Superflash Stealth)


Finally, my winter gloves are missing since I moved in June, and my lighter full-finger gloves got, literally, destroyed in April when I crashed. (I should take some pictures; there’s still some blood on there.) From my parents, who gave me the bulb and headlight, I received the Planet Bike Borealis Winter Gloves. These suckers have the pinky and ring-finger together for added warmth and are supposed to be waterproof. The Giant gloves I had last year were very warm. But in weather like we’ve been having lately, speeding-winds usually rendered my pinkies numb and useless — not to mention that when they got wet, I froze. I haven’t gotten these wet yet, but I’m hoping they’ll help with my cracked/bloody knuckles. This one, from this past weekend, cracked like an egg in a few places and really bled a lot.

So what kind of awesome bike gifts did ya’ll give/receive? I gave someone awesome a nice rear light for a birthday in December, but I can’t say I gave a single bike-related holiday gift this year.


My cousin and good pal sent me this article about a bike wheel that saves energy from braking and stores it for when cyclists need it.

It is not easy to reinvent the wheel, but researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are giving it their best shot.

The Senseable City Laboratory at M.I.T. has designed a wheel that captures the kinetic energy released when a rider brakes and saves it for when the rider needs a boost. While technically sound, the wheel’s true challenge may be in winning over cyclists. For centuries, bikes have been beloved for their simplicity, not their bells and whistles.

But, said Carlo Ratti, the laboratory’s director, “biking can become even more effective than what it was.” What the lab is working on, he said, is “Biking 2.0.”

The new wheel uses a kinetic energy recovery system, the same technology used by hybrid cars, like the Toyota Prius, to harvest otherwise wasted energy when a cyclist brakes or speeds down a hill. With that energy, it charges up a battery inside the wheel’s hub.

(Read the article here.)

This is some wild stuff.  While part of me cries, “Boo!  Pure cycling!”, the other part of me wonders if this is any less “pure” than gears and triple chain rings.

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A [terrible cell phone] picture of me with my sweet fanny pack. Read about former Baltimore resident Rantwick’s fanny pack.  You know, it beat a messenger bag for not sliding all over the place or hurting my shoulder or both.  And it beat a backpack for not making me sweat.  I caught a lot of guff for it, though, which I think is funny.  It smelled like campfire for a while, but it’s largely gone away.  I used it to carry my camera (etc.) to Sunday Streets this weekend, on foot.  Now that makes me a geek, probably.  I’m too tired to wax philosophical about this blue nylon tonight.

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I usually try to keep my ride pretty clean. I’ve been a little lazy about it lately, and it really needs a good bath. This got me thinking.  My dad has always said, “Before winter sets in you should put a good coat of wax on you car.” One of his points being is that it helps keep the salt off the car’s finish in the winter months. This does make sense to me. So I’m thinking of cleaning up the old horse and putting a coat of wax on the seat/chain stays, down tube and fork. Can anyone think of a good reason not to do this?

Also with winter on the horizon does anyone have any cold weather riding tips you would like to share with the cycling community? One I use, I got from Sheldon Brown. Use clear tape to block off a few air vents on your helmet. It’s a easy and very inexpensive way to help keep your head a little warmer and  not compromise the fit of your brain bucket.

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I was standing at the bus stop yesterday, on my way home from work, and I saw a gent on a bike that I’ve seen a million times.  And yesterday, I realized that we’d met at least twice and chatted.  But, in the midst of traffic and far-away-ness (I’m near-sighted), I have missed the connection between these “two” people and their being the same person until exactly yesterday.  And then I felt like a jerk for never saying, “Hi!”

I think helmets have a lot to do with recognizing someone on/off his or her bike.  I certainly do not want to start a fight wherein everyone calls everyone else a Nazi for how they feel about helmets.  I always wear one, but I’ve also had more than my share of non-cycling head injuries, and my helmet saved my brain in April when I crashed on my head/face.  Anyway, helmets seem (to me at least) to throw off the recognition we have of folks.  People’s heads are shaped differently, and there’s no hair to see.  The straps even change the shape of a person’s face.  And sometimes one’s usual motion/posture are shifted a bit by wearing a helmet and leaning over a bike.

Certainly, I’ve recognized folks by their bikes, and some people I see so often, I can’t miss them.  But if I meet a cyclist (like the gent I see most days) who’s not holding his or her bike and not wearing her or his helmet, I totally wonder she or he gives me a funny look when I see them riding.  Maybe I’m just dense.  I do rely on recognizing walking styles (etc.) to recognize people from afar.  Maybe I should use helmet types?  I mean, I’ve been recognized  by my orange helmet a few times in my short ownership of it.

Am I the only one who has trouble identifying folks in helmets and in traffic?

The future is here!  Brief article on Wired’s Gadget Lab Blog.

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(My former set-up. I used to run the smaller light at the left seat-stay, and even jerry-rigged to the back of my rack.)

It’s been said in several places on the byke innernetz that if your LEDs are a few years old, you might want to replace them. Why? LEDs last nearly forever, no? Because the technology is getting cheaper, brighter, more efficient, more durable and easier to mount!

These are Giant lights that I had on my (crashed) Giant bike. The larger one ran me nearly $30, and the small one was about $10 I think in 2006. The big one was bright enough to do the job fairly well, but it ate batteries like I drink coffee — as they said in Lost in Translation, “with much intensity!”  The smaller one died pretty quickly, too.  Both fell off the bike several times.  In fact, that larger one was actually stolen from ElRo (click here to see image of baby in her tummy) since mine fell off in traffic and got destroyed.  When I crashed that bike in April, someone who got to the scene handed me my pump and this smaller damned light.  I can vouch for its durability — it fell off a few times and took quite a big roll a couple of those.

When I got my new bike this summer, I wanted to get new lights, too.  My five LED headlight was Okay for being seen, but it went dim in a few hours and had a very narrow beam.  I wanted some improvement in that area, too.  The light I had was about $25 in 2006 also.  There were some very awesome lights out since then, and I was excited to try some out.

Planet Bike all the way.  Not only are they brighter and easier to mount.  They also were cheaper, and they haven’t fallen off yet.  I should really get around to posting something about my cheap/simple light set-up.  Maybe next week.  Stay tuned!

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I never posted much from Washington with everything that happened in August (tragedy, pregnancy news, being sick, etc.).
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On a Friday, we were catching the Metro to Dupont Circle to visit a bookstore we really like (Second Story Books), and we walked past the IRS building.  On a bike rack, this orange beauty jumped out at us. A Yuba Mundo.
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Not knowing we are pregnant, we admired it in a sort of abstract way.  But I’ve been thinking of cargo bikes lately, for a possible purchase in the next year or so.  And this bike has been hacked nicely!

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If you read Timbuk2’s blog, you probably saw this very cool bag a few months ago.  Lots of people asked them to make/sell it.  And now they are.  Display your pride/support of everyone’s right to share their life with who they want to. Available here (only in Small size).  They are also working on panniers.  They said this a year ago, but now they have pictures of them being tested!

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As what I suppose is the first mention of it here (unless you read my blog), one of our NBBB-type folks is pregnant! ElRo (my lovely wife) is pregnant, and we’re hitting the first official OB appointment today. As you can guess, her stomach is doing bizarre things, and some of the things she used to like aren’t jiving (Nutella, I hardly knew ya….). Likewise, hunger pangs rarely follow meal times. So I concocted what we’re calling Mommy Mix — trail mix you can eat whenever and wherever the hell you want to.

When I go hiking and camping, there is a limit to how much “modern” or “high-tech” gear and methods I have the patience for. “Leave No Trace” is awesome. Waterproof gear not made of thin nylon packcloth is awesome. Stormshield tents are awesome. LED flashlights are awesome. Teva sandals are awesome.  Dr. Bronner’s soap rocks my world (even at home.)

However, there are some things that I cannot abide, like dehydrated food, energy gels and energy bars, etc. (No offense meant of you like them. That’s cool. I’m saying what I like. Go ahead and start a blog about what you like if you think this stuff is the best thing ever. I’ll promise to read it.) I was an Army Brat, and I grew up eating all kinds of dehydrated food for fun.  I’m totally over it now.  If I’m burning enough calories to need an energy bar/gel, I’m probably hungry, too. So I’d rather, you know, eat some good food. I guess the problem comes in when you eat any old food like greasy/salty chips and sugary sodas. I’d rather get the nutrients I need to keep going from somewhat normal food than something bizarrely engineered (which is often unfriendly to vegetarians like myself anyway).
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So when I hike, camp and cycle, I try to think of what I eat rather than supplementing it with other stuff. And if I’m doing something that requires stamina, I like me some trail mix. Last time I went for a long hike, I made my own with:

Various salty nuts (!)
M&Ms (dark!)
Vanilla yogurt covered raisins
Something cheesy I can’t remember (mini somethings with cheddar)
Maybe a tiny bit of good pretzels (but not used for cheap filler like the crap you get at the store)

I also made a batch for my father because he was hiking with our group, and he would have made me some if I were still a little guy. It was coveted by all. I mean, here were folks with pretzel-laden junk mix that they probably spent more money on, and my trail mix had only the stuff I like in it, in the proportions that I like.  I was the envy of my peers.  Luckily for my peers, I like to share and did so.

Dan and I usually score coffee and chocolate when we cycle. Riding in Chucks/Tevas with fenders, racks and cargo shorts, we’d look pretty silly gulping down energy gels while our stomachs growled (see above parenthetical statement if you’re a fan — I ain’t looking for no fight, hon). Dan brought some very delicious chili pepper chocolate to Moonlight Madness, and here I am a month later still thinking about that yummy stuff. We enjoy goodies when we ride.  I think I might start concocting cycling mix as the weather winds down to something cooler. Something that goes equally well with coffee, water and beer.

What would be in your perfect mix of cycling/trail mix?

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