Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

TMQ Watch: December 17, 2013.

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

You know that comment we made yesterday, about “Start writing or stop talking about it” being pretty good writing advice?

This week’s TMQ after the jump…

(more…)

Please continue to be careful out there.

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

A while back, I wrote about Sutchi Hui. Mr. Hui was crossing a San Francisco street when he was struck and killed by Chris Bucchere, who was on a bicycle at the time. The San Francisco DA charged Mr. Bucchere with felony manslaughter.

Mr. Bucchere has now pled guilty to that charge.

“I believe justice has been served,” Gascon told reporters. “Mr. Bucchere has been held accountable to a level that’s historic in the state. His conduct was egregious. He will be providing 1,000 hours of community service. We hope many of those hours are spent talking about traffic safety.”

However, according to the article, Mr. Bucchere will not serve any time in prison. Or perhaps I should say the DA is not requesting any under this plea agreement. Mr. Bucchere will not actually be sentenced until August 16th. The SF Chron says that Mr. Hui’s family agreed to the plea, and that Mr. Bucchere will serve three years on probation. And:

After six months, Gascon said, a judge could reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

Band in Austin.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Well, this is interesting: Nike is ending their relationship with the LiveStrong organization at the end of this year.

Thoughts:

  1. I wonder if LiveStrong wristbands will become collectable. I kind of doubt it, since “the Livestrong Foundation made more than 87 million of its Livestrong yellow rubber wristbands since May 2004”. But you never know…
  2. I was wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong! Just have to get that in there.
  3. Can anyone think of a faster and more spectacular public collapse than this one? Maybe Paul Christoforo or Judith Griggs, but those folks were only Internet famous, not real life famous.

Just last year, sources say Nike sold $150 million of Livestrong-branded products, its most ever. But industry insiders told ESPN.com that Nike, as well as Dick’s Sporting Goods, which sold the most product at retail, were ready to give up the business.

Things pretty much broke at the end of last year, so I’m wondering what 2013 to date sales are like. Probably not great, which might explain Nike and Dick’s being ready to “give up the business”. On the other hand, I don’t have a real high opinion of Dick’s, so it wouldn’t surprise me if other factors were involved.

Crap. Crap crap crap crappity crap.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Freewheeling Bicycles, official purveyor of bicycles, accessories, and repairs to sportsfirings.com, is closing at the end of May.

The business was still profitable but its location, at 2401 San Gabriel Street, “ended up being too expensive for a bike shop,” said owner Angela Prescott, 62. “Once the overlay plan went in, property taxes doubled, and that’s a huge thing to try to absorb. The percentage you pay out in rent is too high.”

This makes me sad. There are other bike shops in Austin: REI in particular isn’t a bad place to go. But the people at Freewheeling were always nice and helpful to me, and the store felt like it had a personality. That’s something lacking at REI, or Bicycle Sport Shop, or pretty much all the other shops I’ve found in Austin.

Bicycle, bicycle…

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

My great and good friend Joe D. left a long comment on last night’s cycling post. Because I believe in rewarding hard work, I’m promoting his comment to a post. (That also gives me a chance to do some annotation.)

You could bike to work. If you do that, they let you use the showers in the fitness center for free. You’ll need to bring your own towel, though.

Yeah, I could bike to work, if I was working. I did give some thought to trying that, just as an experiment, when I was still working for Four Letter Computer Company. Google Maps has the distance as about 14 miles and 90 minutes.

I did the bike-to-work thing pretty much daily for 6 years. 8 miles each way. Saved a buttload of gas, got in shape, etc. But since they made me start working from home, I haven’t been biking nearly as much. I miss it.

I’m not exactly basing my employment decisions on the ability to bike to work, but I’ve seen some jobs that look promising and might allow for a more reasonable bike commute.

I only recently got a cellphone. If I’d had one when I was commuting, I’d have used it to do all my trip logging. I did install MyTracks, though. It seems to work well. I rode for a couple of hours last weekend, and it didn’t seem to affect the battery life that much. Even if it did, I bought myself a http://kiwichoice.com/portable-chargers/kiwi-u-powered for my birthday. It should more than double my battery life.

That Kiwi looks nice. I have a couple of USB batteries that should work if I need more cellphone power: I used to use those to run the USB Christmas lights at 4LCC, since we couldn’t have plug-in lights. If I were employed, though, I’d give serious thought to the Kiwi as a backup/bug-out/prepper device.

Oh yeah. Speaking of cellphone, the one I get was with Republic Wireless. You have to buy the phone for $250, but it’s $20/month for unlimited talk/text/data thereafter. The phone (Motorola Defy XT) is a couple of years behind the curve, but works well enough. I wish it had a bigger screen, but other than that, it’s fine. The reason it’s so cheap is that if you’re connected to a wifi network, it will make all the phone calls via voip over wifi. Otherwise, it uses the cell network.

My current service is with Sprint, but I’m off contract and will be considering a phone upgrade and/or provider change once I’m employed again. Republic sounds worthy of consideration.

If you’re looking for panniers, get yourself a this: http://www.topeak.com/products/Bags/MTXTrunkBagDXP

Oh, I am delighted to hear you say this, Joe. I have actually been seriously considering both the Topeak MTX Trunk Bag EXP as well as the MTX Trunk Bag DXP. I will probably pick up one of those once I’m employed. From what I’ve seen at REI, the DXP is about $30 more, but has a larger capacity than the EXP.

I keep a spare tube, tools, and such in the center compartment, and if I need more storage, the sides unzip and fold out into saddlebags. There’s enough room to hold a laptop and a complete change of clothes, including shoes and a towel. Best of all, it unhooks from the rack with the push of a button allowing you to carry it in with you.

Yeah. Currently, I have an under-seat bag that holds tools and spares, but it doesn’t fit with the current rack, so I’ve sort of South Austin engineered it onto that rack. I like the large central compartment of the Topeak bags very much. The one minor problem I see with the DXP and EXP is that I’ll probably want to change out the current rear rack for a Topeak compatible one; that’s not a deal breaker, though I am a little confused as to exactly which rack I need to use with the DXP/EXP.

One additional point in the cellphone vs. dedicated computer debate that I didn’t think of last night: a cellphone, at least in theory (we’ll see how this works out) offers you audio capability as well.

Some people I know believe that the only sound you should care about when riding is the ambient sound around you. Other people like to listen to music to pump themselves up, or perhaps podcasts as a diversion. I don’t fall on either side; I have iPods, but those require headphones or ear buds, and I find the idea of plugging one’s ears while riding an evolutionarily BAD idea. I kind of like listening to the ambient sounds around me, but if I can add the soothing sounds of Siracusa or squirrels, that would be a big win.

Or, of course, I could just play some appropriate music to get myself pumped up for those hills…



Night thoughts.

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Some folks may have noticed that I haven’t been doing as much bread blogging recently. That’s because I haven’t been baking as much bread; I’ve been a little tied up with some family things. Nothing serious, nothing health related, and things are winding down. But it has distracted me a little from the bread machine. I’m going to try to do another one of Laurence Simon’s recipes this week, but I’m not sure which one.

In other news, I’m trying to get back on my bike. I have a Trek 7500 that I bought several years ago, and which sat idle pretty much the entire time I was going to St. Ed’s. I took it in last week and had it cleaned, lubed, and tuned; now I just have a series of petty annoyances I’m working my way through. (I couldn’t find my water bottles, so I bought replacements. You can’t have too many water bottles, anyway. Then I couldn’t find my bike shoes: I can ride the Trek in my normal sort of half-boot half-sneaker shoes, but it isn’t as efficient. REI had some Shimano SH-MT33L shoes on the clearance rack at an incredibly low price, so I grabbed a pair of those.)

(Side note: I bought my bike at Freewheeling Bicycles. Why? Lawrence bought his there. I’m happy I followed his lead. The total bill to get my bike out of hock last week was about $104. That price included $8 for a rear tube, and another $45 for a rear bike rack. I want to start making grocery store trips on the bike, rather than the car, so I bought the rack and plan to sling some panniers over it at some point. Since I bought the bike there, Freewheeling gave me a 25% discount on labor, so the whole thing ended up being much more reasonable than I expected. Consider this an endorsement of Freewheeling.)

(Side note 2: F–k Sun and Ski Sports, the horse they rode in on, and any horse that looks anything like the horse they rode in on.)

As a geek, one of the things I’ve always wanted to when I was riding was to log and track my rides. I have a cheap-ass bike computer with basic functionality: current and average speed, distance on current ride, odometer, and clock. But I’ve always wanted to be able to overlay my ride log onto a map and see where I’ve ridden, as well as getting elevation data. My feeling is that being able to do that gives me a tangible sense of progress, which gives me more motivation to ride. But those capabilities require GPS.

I’m still looking for work so I can’t (and don’t want to) spend $330 on a Garmin Edge 510 or $479 on a Garmin Edge 810. (“Social network sharing”?) If Garmin, or one of my readers sent me one, I’d certainly use it, but I don’t want anyone to do that (even as a birthday present). That kind of money will buy you a decent to nice Smith & Wesson, depending on what part of the country you’re in and what you’re looking at.

Here’s the thing: I’m smart. S-M-R-T. Smart. And not only am I smart, but! I have a smartphone! That has a GPS built in! And that runs apps! And, yes, there are cycling apps available! The big ones on Android seem to be MapMyRide and Strava, but I’ve also seen people say that MyTracks works quite well for cycling applications. And I already have MyTracks installed. And I already take my cellphone with me when I ride anyway, in case of emergency. Now all I have to do is get it properly rigged and I should have almost everything I need. (The last remaining piece is some cycling shorts with pockets. I’ve blown out the waistband on the one pair I have; whenever I put them on, they slide off my ass. This is not good for cycling purposes, or for staying off the sex offender registry purposes.)

(I got into a discussion with a friend of mine about Android/iPhone cycling apps. My friend’s position is that the dedicated cycling computers like the Garmin Edge line are preferable to using your phone for this purpose. His feeling is that running the GPS on the phone and logging data eats battery power, and your phone may run out of juice before you finish the ride. My feeling is: I’m not a high-speed low-drag road biker. I’m usually not out for more than an hour or two. If I start out with a fully charged battery, I feel like I should be able to run MyTracks for at least two hours without worry. We’ll test this theory once I get everything rigged for silent running. If I was doing the kind of thing he talks about doing, such as riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route 12 hours a day for ten weeks, I’d reconsider my position.)

Thinking about this some more, I wonder what the market for higher-end bike and running computers like the Garmins is today. Let’s see: I can pay $330 for the Edge 500. Or I can pay $196 for a HTC EVO V 4G Android phone pre-paid (no contract) from Virgin Mobile, get one of those cycling apps, and have two cameras and cell phone service. Or I could buy a cheap-ass used phone with no carrier off of eBay, run the same apps, do everything using WiFi, and not have to worry about breaking my good phone. All cell phones sold in the US are required to connect you with 911 even if you don’t have a service contract, so you’re covered in the event of a real emergency. And if you have a good cell phone you want to take riding with you, mounting brackets are a dime a dozen. Plus, I understand some newer Android phones support ANT+, so you can get cadence sensors and heart-rate monitors that will work directly with Strava or MapMyRide on your phone. No dedicated computer needed, so, again, what’s the market for that $479 Garmin Edge 810? (You can probably even do “social network sharing” from the phone, if that’s your cup of Gatorade.) Yes, you have to purchase the cadence sensor and heart rate monitor separately, but you also have to purchase those separately with the Edge 810: that $479 price does not include either sensor. If you have an iPhone, ANT+ isn’t directly supported, but Garmin will happily sell you an ANT+ adapter for a mere $50, or $40.73 from Amazon..

If any of my readers have experience with cycling apps like the ones I’ve mentioned (or others: I’m still running an Android phone, but iPhone users are welcome too) please feel free to leave a comment, or drop me an email if you’d prefer. Contact information is in the place where it says “Contact”.