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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.
Anyone have any experience with, or recommendations for, cycling caps?
[Image, Walz Caps.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 (!)
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?
I was going to post this while down the beach but given the recent events I decided to hold off until now. So here it is…
My original plan was to ride from 139th to the OC inlet at the end of the board walk but, after careful consideration, recommendation of a local and a reader of this blog, I decided to ride North instead. I, liking to beat myself up, decided to begin my ride around one p.m. on the hottest day we where down there. You know 90 some degrees with 100 heat index. Whatever, it’s flat on the shore, right? Anyway my first stop was of this watch tower.
For anyone who doesn’t know, these towers are haunting reminders of how close German subs came to our coasts in WW II. I’ve always been fascinated with these concrete sentries. I think they’re creepy in a neat sorta way. Moving on, I next rolled into the town of Bethany. In my opinion this is what a beach town should look like. Quiet, sandy and lived in. I pasted the Bethany bike shop. I don’t think I have to explain why I took a picture of this.
I wasn’t ready to turn back towards home so I continued North on 50. Before I knew it I was looking 2 miles down the road at the inlet bridge. I road down alone side the bridge where there is a parking lot for folks wanting to fish, go to the beach or out on a boat. There I took a water break and a few more pictures.
After hydrating a bit I jumped on my ride and headed home for the day. The ride took me about 2 hours to go up and back, with a few breaks of course. Over all total mileage was just under 25 miles. It was a very relaxing ride. I highly recommend it. The only draw backs are no shade and you are riding on 50 where vehicles pass you are doing, well, 50 or so. That was the most surprising part of my ride is that I did not feel unsafe on 50 at all. Delaware really has it together when it comes to bike lanes and markings for them. The lanes where very clearly marked and there was signage everywhere saying “Look out for bicycles” which, is much more to the point than “Share the road”.
Maybe next time I’m “danny oshin” I’ll ride South. I think that with be in the off season.
Well the NBBB rolled on downtown on Thursday night in the Moonlight Madness ride. For the exception of a few flats and a bad spill everyone seemed to have a good time. Thank you, thank you , thank you to the folks who put this ride together. I totally enjoyed myself. It was so great to see people from all different walks of life with all different kinds of bikes come together to take a ride. It was also great to meet some of the folks who visit this blog and be able to say thanks for visiting, face to face. To the guy who took the spill: I think I can speak for everyone on the ride and say, get well soon, fellow velo.
In other news, I’m gonna be representing the NBBB down at OC for a few days. I’m planning on riding the length of the island. I’ll be sure to post about it with some pics. Has anyone out there ridden this before? If so, anything I should look out for or look forward too?
Saw this dapper gent in Washington Square Park in New York last week. He looked so relaxed that I thought about getting a single-speed bike, like I was telling Dan. But then I remembered that Baltimore is much more hilly than Manhattan. Still, I liked that bike, especially that he used the mounting brackets for a metal rack for a milkcrate.
So damn, time goes by fast. Johnny and I went out and took this kick ass ride last Saturday. We rode up to the city/county line on Lake Ave and then worked our way down to Fell’s Point. We got a cup of coffee and sat on the pier for a bit before heading back home. All in all about 20 miles or so. I was going to write this big post with lots of pictures that I took on the ride but I figured I’m a little late. So instead I’m gonna use this post to say if anyone is interested in doing one of these 20 mile or so rides down town or where ever let us know. We would love to make a run to Fell’s Point or Canton one day or night with bunch of people. The more people the more fun.
I just thought I’d share this. I took it the other day when I was up at Druid Hill. The lake was frozen over and covered with a fresh coat of snow.
[Dan and Johnny, Druid Hill Park (Baltimore), January 2008, last year.]
It’s not on the annual lists of biking hot spots, but during my recent visit to Baltimore I realized they might just become the next big bike city. They’re not quite Portland (yet), but they’re gaining fast.
I hear a decent amount of smugness from people in super bike-friendly cities, largely people that don’t even ride. I’m not singling anyone out or naming names, but conversations often go like this. I’ll edit the insults toward Baltimore that often come with it:
“I hardly see anyone ride in Baltimore. It’s too scary there with all the cars and traffic. I wouldn’t ride in Baltimore.”
“Lots of people ride. I do. @#$% the traffic.”
“You don’t even ride in X bike friendly city…..”
I have to say that some of this comes from cities like Portland, from people who have never ridden here. I’m glad that most other Portlanders are happy to see other cities doing what they’re doing, i.e., that they really in fact care about cycling taking off worldwide. A very good friend of ours (a Baltimore native) lives in Portland and works on bikes and rides everywhere, and he was impressed when he was in town last May with the progress Baltimore is making in becoming more bike-friendly. And think of all the improvements that have been made since then! People ride in the winter now!
Paris has one. Barcelona has one. Montreal, Mexico City, even our neighbors in Washington DC. Bike sharing programs! Others, too. But these five are in big cities, and Washington is especially important because “what happens in Washington reverberates around the world, and we’ve already seen the wild popularity of bike-sharing in various countries and climates.” Maybe we’ll get them up here, hon!
We could. Washington is wildly…flatter than most of Baltimore, but the waterfront is pretty flat here. We have the tourists to ride them. I was at Carma’s Cafe’ last weekend, and I heard some tourists wondering to themselves if there was a bike share program down near the Inner Harbor. I’m not making this up! You never know. We do have a Mayor with a dedication to making Baltimore more bike-friendly. There are more ordinary cyclists out everyday. A bike is a great way to see the waterfront and downtown if you’re a traveler here. For all I know, there’s something like this in the works or at least being looked at. I’d be happy to put my research skills toward this end, if there’s anyone out there working on this.