Thursday, September 21, 2017

Stupid bike products

I've seen some stupid bicycle accessories in my time. How about a pair of mirrors mounted in front of and below the handle bars. It reflects the road to you can "see ahead" while looking down on the aerobars. That's dangerously stupid.

I just came across a product on Amazon that's just stupid.

From West Biking we have "Heart Shaped Bike Tail Light, West Biking Bike Rear Light Waterproof Warning Taillight Bicycle LED Night Light (Red)"

That isn't a heart. That looks like something that was hung from the back of redneck trucks a few years ago. I wouldn't put this on my bike if it was the only tail light I had. (Actually I might, but I'd never admit it here).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Four Rivers with the Klines

Yesterday Greg and Stacy Kline and I rode my four rivers 200k permanent. We met at the Costco parking lot in Yorba Linda at 7:30am and headed out in mild, calm conditions. The Santa Ana bike path was very busy, which is not a bad thing. If the state builds a bike path we should show our appreciation by using it.

We rode by the usual control and headed to The Crema in Seal Beach. Stacy used the app to book our table 30 minutes before we got there and we strode in with no wait. Brilliant!

We then turned inland towards El Monte where the sun was shining and we made a quick turnaround back to the beach. We had the normal headwind which slowed us down to about 12mph but it least it wasn't like Willie's Wrightwood ride when the wind slowed us down to 6mph.

We rode through Long Beach marina to Belmont and ate at the Chronic Tacos there. I've never eaten there before and it was pretty awesome. From there we had a light tailwind back to Yorba Linda and finished around 7pm just as it was starting to get dark.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

2017 Night Audax 200k

Credit Bobby Chang
September 9th saw the 2017 running of the Night Audax 200k brevet. We had 19 people signed up, but the Klines got sick and we had two no-shows so 15 people headed out at 7pm from Huntington Beach. Each rider had a free packet of GoCubes which is my preferred way to carry caffeine these days.

All the photographs were take on my GoPro Session mounted on my aerobars.

Leaving the start of the ride

Charlie and Mel were riding a tandem together for the first time so I gave them a wide berth for a while. Just after the sun set we were treated to a display of lightning over Mount Baldy. 

We had our first drama with a split tire in the middle of the homeless encampment at mile 12. They didn't give us any trouble, but it was reassuring to be part of a large group. 

Fix a flat in homelessland

We settled down to about a 16 mph pace which seemed to suit most people. Brent did a great job controlling our rambunctious group. Our usual tailwind was weaker than usual, which helped a bit.

We got to the 76 gas station at mile 30 together and it was difficult to get everyone out within 15 minutes. We moved through Norco quickly and onto the upper SART. The section though Hidden Valley was sublime.

We all arrived at the In-n-Out burger as a group so I bought dinner for 15 cyclists. Less than $100 which is pretty amazing. No police breaking up car shows this year. We ate outside because the weather was perfect.


We had no headwind at all on the way back so we held pretty much the same speed going back. For some reason the lead riders kept making wrong turns which was pretty funny. I can see all the riders going the wrong way and I'm yelling from the back, but they don't hear me.


As we got near the end of the ride the tandem went crazy and started pulling at 20+ mph. We regrouped as we went through the homeless encampment again and then Bobbie and the tandem just went all out for the last five miles. Even so, there was only a couple of minutes between the first and last rider back. Our official time was 10:01.

The water fountain at Anza Narrows was like an old man with prostate problems
Congratulations to everyone. As usual, it was a fun ride and an unusually cohesive group this year.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Damn Bugs

I've been riding up the side of a mountain each week for the past few weeks but the last two rides were plagued by aggressive bugs, sometimes up to 20 of them persistently flying around my head.

I've found empirically that most bugs can't fly faster than 7 mph but as the climb averages 8% I can't ride that fast on the way up. So, yes, riding faster is the obvious solution but it's beyond my ability at this time (perhaps forever). I've been looking for other options.

I could do what I do when hiking - add a wide brim to my helmet and put a mosquito net over. You need the rim to keep the net away from your face otherwise it becomes as annoying as the bugs were. This isn't out of the question, but it's not plan A material.

Some colleagues suggested attaching a flame thrower to the bike which would certainly be entertaining but the rangers might not approve. Another suggested a big fan to recreate the effect of a 7 mph headwind. That's not a terrible idea.

I could also buy a USB powered bug zapper and mount it on my aerobars together with an external battery pack. I don't know how well that would reduce the bugs in my face, though. My search for "helmet mounted bug zapper" didn't return any good hits.

I also considered a stick attached to the top of my helmet holding a citronella candle in front of me and a lump of rotting meat behind me. Kind of a stick and carrot approach to bug control.

I just bought a small hand held bug zapper that looks like a small tennis racket. Press the button and the 'strings' are filled with 3000 volts of bug frying fun. I think waving that in front of my face instead of my hand might be more effective. I'm curious to see how long I can wave it around before I crash, though. Maybe I could attach it to my helmet and just nod my head a bit.

I wonder if the same few bugs are following me for miles, or if they drop off the chase to be replaced by new ones. If it's the same bugs, then zapping them will provide meaningful relief. If they take turns, it won't really help much.

Surely I'm not the only cyclist to address this problem. Any advice would be welcome. Even bad advice.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cygolite 150 lumen Hotspot tail light

I bought my first Cygolite Hotspot shortly after they were first introduced in 2012. It had received multiple "Best Taillight" awards and it was, at the time, the best taillight under $50. Each year, Cygolite has released an improved version. This is the latest in that evolution.

Let's start with what you get.
You get a 150 lumen (max) spot tail light with adjustable brightness in solid mode, and adjustable speed in flashing modes. The light pattern is a fairly tight spot but, unlike earlier models, this one has a different lens that throws some of that beam out the side. So although you still need to mount the light carefully so the spot is level with the ground, it is more visible from the side.

You also get a micro usb cable (prior models were mini usb), a seat stay mount and a saddle post mount. You only get one set of screws so you have to find extra screws if you want to use both mounts for some reason. Note the seat stay mount is not compatible with rear disk brakes because the cable gets in the way. It may be OK in countries that drive on the left. The whole lot comes in a reusable box, which is convenient.

The light has several modes. Solid (with variable brightness - perfect for astronomers), wave (slowly goes from bright to dim and back), triple flash with background light, fast triple flash, fast flash, alternating bright/dim flash. The triple flash with background is a new feature. I've had this on front lights for a while, but I've not seen it on a tail light before. Research shows that although a flashing light is easier to see, it is difficult to judge distance. Apparently a flashing light combined with a solid light is easy to see and easy to judge the distance to.

Another nice feature is a low battery indicator. When you turn the light on or off when the battery is low, the light will flicker. Of course, this doesn't help while you're riding but it's better than nothing.

My original Hotspot is still running fine. I'm still getting more than 24 hour run times in flashing mode from a single charge and it's still daylight visible. It's so bright that riders behind me at night ask me to switch it to solid mode. If the new ones are just as good even with all the new features, I will be very happy with them.