Wednesday, February 26, 2014

not this saddle, thanks

Not all the people who hate bicyclists are drivers, apparently. I came across a reference to this saddle at Eben Weiss's BikesnobNYC blog. I couldn't believe it, so I looked up some other references... and yep, this is a real thing. To prove it, I found the article he quoted (it's from BikeBiz.Com).

Most of the pictures in a Google search for images of "shark bicycle saddle" don't do it justice, so I'll just use the picture from the BikeBiz.Com article:

The second thing I think is of the women who say that designer clothes aren't designed for real women. That thing isn't designed for real riders. (You can use your imagination for the first thing I think.)

Go to the manufacturer's FAQ, and you'll see that the argument is that the fin (that's what they call that protuberance) is placed in such a way that it keeps you in the right position on the saddle. If you can feel the fin, they say, you're in a wrong position.

These are obviously people who've never done a multi-hour ride, where you have to change position to keep from getting saddlesores. They're also apparently of the opinion that one size fits all, because even if that "fin" were a good idea, it would need individual adjustment. (I don't think of it as a fin; I think of it more like the spikes inside an Iron Maiden.)

This may not be the worst bicycle idea ever, but I'll bet it's in the bottom five.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

red maserati

The email from friend Dave C said, "This as Jim written all over it", and included this Craigslist link. But ads on Craigslist are ephemeral, so I saved the ad copy (below), and the pics.

This classic bicycle was Maserati M-11 a complementary gift for the purchase of a Maserati during the 1970s. The bicycle has the classic feel thanks to its Italian made chrome-moly steel frame. It has new tires, and tubes. This rear classic is hard to find but there are too many bikes in the garage here.

It's a pretty frame, with downtube shifters, apparently lugged, and I'd love to have a project bike, but if I bring home another bike, The Excellent Wife (TEW) says I'll have to buy her another house. Besides, the Yellow Maserati would get jealous.

(For those of you who aren't in on the joke, I refer to my grey titanium bike as the Yellow Maserati. I figured a yellow Maserati would be a good example of an outrageous purchase for a midlife crisis, which my bike partly was. Further, it is neither yellow, nor a Maserati, and the incongruity tickles me.)

a jersey for me

A friend from the New Brunswick Bike Exchange, Alex B, heard about my problem with the solid-color jersey from Aerotech Designs. This makes a virtue (?) of necessity (?).

Unfortunately, what has been seen, cannot be unseen.

Edit: Good Christmas, this a real thing. Check 'em out.

Monday, February 24, 2014

chain link that works

In the post about this past Saturday's ride, I mentioned that Ron had a chain drop that we could only fix because of the Wippermann removable link. That needs some more explanation.

For reasons we don't have to go into here, I buy cheap chains and replace them frequently. To make installation easier, I use removable links (the SRAM/KMC/Wippermann system) rather than the replace-the-pin type (the Shimano system). Even though I've used chains by Shimano, KMC, and SRAM, the removable link I use is always the Wippermann Connex.

Go ahead and look at the linked page (no, that wasn't just a pun; I couldn't think of another way to say it). Yes, it really is about $15 for a single link. Folks who know me know I brag about knowing the cheap way to d almost everything, and they might think I'm missing the boat with this... but I'm not.

I've used this link on five chains, running each of them up to at least 1500 miles. Every time, I was able to re-open the link with no tools, until this last time, when I replaced the link with a new one*. The reason Ron was able to open his chain to free it was that he was using one of these links. I've tried the KMC and the SRAM removable links, and they can be removed, but NOT with tools you're likely to have with you out on the road. (I do carry some of these other-branded links in my seatbag in case we need to patch up somebody's chain on the road.)

If Ron hadn't gotten the chain open, he might have had to take a cab back to his car. That being the case, $15 for a chain link is a good price. (And if you use a 9-speed chain, it's more like $6 than $15.)

They're fussy; if you put it on in the wrong orientation, it will make a sound like it's skipping when you're in certain gear combinations. It comes with directions. Read them.

*I DID use a pliers to open the link this last time, but I could have rigged something with the multi-tool I carry to get it open on the road. This thing works.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

crankier-than-usual ride with winter larry

Especially at this time of year, any ride from which you return with no injuries and no arguments is a good ride. I'm certainly glad that there are people who are willing to lead rides, especially in this weather; I'm grateful for the company, and I can't do it myself. I just wish I felt better about this one.

Before the end of the work week, Winter Larry had sent around an email indicating his plan to lead. By the time we left the start in Cranbury, we had sixteen, including a number who had ridden on Laura's ride yesterday (and perhaps a couple who had not, but wished they had). Larry asked me to sweep, and then expressed his intention to go to the Battlefield Orchard, which meant that we would get to the stop about 1/3 the way into the planned route, and we would have to ride out 522 through Englishtown and Freehold. A request was raised to reverse the route, but Larry thought that the traffic would be worse as the day got later, so off we went.

We did this route. We'd barely gotten to the far side of Route 130 when one of our number picked up a screw in his tire, which required not only a tube replacement, but a boot. About four of us waited while the others went ahead for a bit. It took a while to do the replacement, and during that time, Al L instructed me in the lore of tubeless tires (and the more I hear about 'em, the better I like my clinchers). The extra bit took some time, and I got a call from Laura OLPH on my cell asking if we were OK, but by the time I got the phone out I'd missed the call, so I left a message with her... and then crested the hill, and there were the rest of the riders! The best laid schemes...

As we rode along 522, I was disconcerted by the amount and intrusiveness of the traffic; I was certainly glad that we hadn't gone later than we did. One of our number who's sometimes a little behind, was a LOT behind today, and I suggested to Larry at the stop that we keep an eye on him.

Shortly after we left the stop, Larry had a flat, which also took longer than usual to change. He may have felt stressed about having lost so much time, but soon after that, as I was staying behind with the person who was lagging, he and the rest went through a traffic light, that then turned red and caught the two of us. At the next intersection, the rider who had been lagging decided to go his own way (he was back at the parking lot at the same time as the rest of us, so that was probably a good idea).

Can I brag for a bit? Two of the riders from yesterday and today needed either cable or housing, and asked if I had some (they know I do my own wrenching). It turns out I had what they were looking for. I wonder, if the bottom ever falls out of the mental health business, if I can get a job fixing and assembling bikes -- or would any self-respecting bike shop owner take a good look at me and decide I'm too crazy to spend that much time in such a small shop with him or her?

Pictures (not as many as yesterday). At parking lot before the start:

Below, at the Battlefield Orchard:

Below: Ed C's carbon bike needs some mechanical attention; this is a nifty old lugged Trek with downtube shifters. (Ed asked, "Don't you want me in the picture?" I said, "Nope.")

(I really like that picture above more than I have any right to do. That happens to me with some of my pictures.)

Below: waiting for Larry, et al, to fix his tire:

Below: Larry's tire-repair crew:

Back on the road:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

slightly klutzy, really-needed-it, got-my-clock-cleaned ride

Laura OLPH's announcement said:

 Dare I think it?  Is it too early in the week to think it?  Sunny skies, temperatures above freezing, dry roads?

Hell, yeah, let's dream for  a few days and pretend like we're going on a bike ride on Saturday.

Let's plan on a 10:00 a.m. start from the Hopewell YMCA on Main Street, across from Ingleside, in Pennington.  Plan on 40-something miles.  For an extra 11 miles, meet me at my house for a 9:30 a.m. start.

Check back here on Friday for confirmation or exasperation.
 And by Friday, we were confirmed, not exasperated. I got to the house early to try to find a parking spot (one of us could park behind Laura in her driveway,but ONLY one), drove into a snowbank to try to crunch it down to park there... and got stuck. Luckily, Christ C came along with a truck and ties to pull me out... and I parked somewhere else, where I COULD get out. Ron S and Ed C also came to leave from Laura's, and the five of us rode to the Pennington start...

... which is no longer a YMCA. Sean I and Barry Y were waiting, and as we were about to leave, Marco B drove in; he'd gone to the REAL Pennington Y, and came down just in time to find us. And as he was suiting up, Celeste and Eoghan (say "Owen"; it's Irish, and the Irish will not be hampered by silly rules of spelling phonetically) rode up - so were were ten to do this route.

Laura picked the comparatively late start in hopes that much of the ice on the road would be melted, and much of it was, but there was still enough to shrink the shoulder in many places; on that first long stretch along Pennington-Rocky Hill I remember traffic backing up behind us, and I remember my relief when we turned onto Province Line. We didn't have ice on most of the roads, but there were a number of places where the melt had crossed the road and re-frozen. Two of our number slipped on the ice; no injuries, but one had a picturesque tumble into a snowbank, and another went over, but got his foot down before there was any injury either to his corpus or to his pride.

And so to Lambertville. We went up to Mt Airy to visit the cows, then on to Alexsauken Creek Road, which is one of my favorites for the visuals; I refer to it as "fifteen minutes of vacation". I finally got a picture (you'll see it below) of an old firetruck that is returning to the elements in someone's front yard; it was too good in the snow for me not to stop.

Stopped at Rojo's (not enough space at Lambertville Trading for this big crowd), where I got pictures of bikes in the snow, one atop about an 18" pile. Then back up Rocktown-Lambertville, where Eoghan was teaching me what it REALLY means to go up a hill (I was impressed, and hurtin'. I'm still impressed. I won't admit I'm still hurtin'.). At top, Barry had a tire out, which required many of us to fix (including Eoghan's needle-nose pliers - you'll see his steel bike with the leather saddle and big bag below; Eoghan is not one who holds that lighter means faster). As we turned the corner, Ron had a chain drop that got swallowed by his spokes; we had to separate the chain to get it out (which we could do by hand, thanks to the Wipperman link - I'll do a "stuff that works" post on that soon). He was soon up-and-running again, and we got back to Pennington by the straight route.

Anybody up for Winter Larry's ride tomorrow?


Below, Eoghan's beautiful ride: Berthoud saddle (and probably Berthoud bar tape), big bag, lugs, three colors of paint: yummy.

Suiting up at Pennington:

Laura, laying down the law about something-or-other:

At Ridge Road. I liked the house in the snow.

(I really like the one below of Celeste, and it was dumb luck; I could barely see the image on the back of the camera.)

Below: Chris, about to demonstrate his superior bike-handling by stopping about two inches from my knee.

Below: Mt Airy, with me taking a picture of Ed taking a picture of me, the obligatory picture of Laura taking a picture, the cows, and heading out.

Bikes in the snow at Rojo's, below:

Below, Barry's bike ON the snow:

Friday, February 21, 2014

bike share in NJ

The Excellent Wife (TEW) sent me a link to this article about three cities in Hudson County starting a bike-share program.

From the article:

Hoboken's City Council was the first to approve the contract.  Jersey City and Weehawken are expected to have their council meetings next week.

The bicycles, known as “smart bikes,” don’t require docking stations like those in New York City. Instead “smart locks” are built into the bicycles.

If the contract is approved, the system would feature 800 bikes at 50 bike stations, as well as two full-service centers where customers can also rent helmets, biking equipment and tourist information.

Aside from the fact that the bikes are fugly (which may reduce the temptation to steal one), I think it's a good idea that won't work in most of the rest of NJ. Those cities have an urban density that makes a bike share program sensible. Most of Jersey has exactly the wrong density: the suburban sprawl means that people and destinations are too spread out to make a program like this sensible (while at the same time being too developed for most would-beriders to enjoy recreational cycling).

The bikes are obviously intended for short hops, not long trips. Check out the pricing plans:

Expected Rental Costs:
Annual Membership: $95/year
  • First 45 min free
  • 45 to 75 minutes $2.50
  • 75 minutes to 105 minutes $9.00
  • Every 30 minutes after $9.00
Weekly Membership: $25/week
  • First 30 min free
  • Additional 30 minutes $4
  • 60 to 90 minutes $13
  • Every 30 minutes after $12
Daily Membership: $9.95/day
  • First 30 min free
  • Additional 30 minutes $4
  • 60 to 90 minutes $13
  • Every 30 minutes after $12
They certainly don't want these bikes out for hours at a time! (And who wants to ride a grey bike, anyway?)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

blaze bike light

Laura OLPH sent me this link to an article about the Blaze Laserlight. It's cool illuminating the model's hand, above, but what it really does is put a glyph of a bike on the road about five meters (16 feet) in front of the cyclist.

It uses the green laser, which is famously stronger than the common red one. From the article:
The Blaze Laserlight is a front LED headlight that also shines a neon green bike symbol onto the ground 16 feet in front of the bicyclist. That way, drivers know someone’s in their blind spot and hopefully won’t turn into a cyclist’s path.
 At about $200, it's not cheap. And Laura writes, "I think that by the time the driver figures out where the rider is with respect to the laser image, the driver will have hit the cyclist out of sheer distraction." That may be, and we know that drivers don't see what they're not looking for (that second link is to the famous basketball-gorilla video)... but this thing might actually grab attention. I don't do enough night riding to make it worthwhile, but if I did, I'd be tempted to try it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

more bike fashion

This article on Bikeradar starts:

For a long time there were three options for high quality cycling clothes; plain, eurocentric, or team replica. Unhappy with these core choices, a few Australian designers have decided they would offer something fresh and unique. Using everything from blinding fluorescent colours to animal prints, these small startups are changing the way cyclists dress.

I'm not sure they're going to change the way I dress. Here are some samples from the gallery:

Above: I likes me some pink socks. Below: Camo? I thought part of the reason for the brightly-colored kits were to INCREASE visibility...

In other news, I can see that in order to be taken seriously as a cyclist, I'm going to have to get some tattoos, or grow some interesting facial hair. (Who am I trying to kid? If there were a bicycle version of a button-down collar and khakis, that's what I'd be wearing.)