Schwinn Collegiate

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cars vs. Bikes

Unfortunately, this is a subject I think about quite often...when I'm riding.  I find myself upset at cars quite often.  Yesterday, I was going around a large pot hole and a car approached and beeped and yelled at me to "get out of the road".  I hadn't moved in front of them, they just thought I didn't belong there.  I often almost get hit, I get cut off, I have things thrown at me, etc.  All of these things really make me angry at drivers: I mean really angry!  I spend too many rides fuming over these drivers.  This does at times lead to some pretty fast "angry rides", but I'm not sure it is worth the extra speed.

Two days ago I was going to a group ride that started at a bike shop.  When I pulled into the parking lot, there was one open space with several riders standing in front of it talking.  I politely pulled up to the space and signaled that I wanted to park there.  The riders continued talking and showed little interest in moving.  I inched up and they very slowly  moved a couple inches out of the way.  I squeezed into the space and they didn't so much as acknowledge me as I pulled in.  When I ride with this same group we are usually prepped with a talk about being polite and respecting the rules of the road and the busy traffic.  Nevertheless, some of the riders habitually run red lights and show no regard for traffic.  I've seen some of these riders riding four abreast and when other riders called "car back" over and over the other riders didn't even look.  I can only imagine that this infuriates the drivers.  God knows my father always complains about "kids on bikes in Cambridge".

So who is the culprit in this feud?  Who "drew first blood"?  Well, I suspect both sides feed off of each other's insults and past transgressions.  However, if I had to point my finger I'd point it at a lack of education.  Bike riders don't always know the rules of the road, and driver's know even less.  After all, if you think the bike belongs on the sidewalk, you're certainly going to get testy when one has the audacity to ride on the road.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Fallability

Not Me

Unlike the Pope, I am quite fallible.  I recently had someone comment on one of my pages about some mistakes I had made.  When I read it, I noticed I certainly had made some mistakes and wasn't even quite sure why I had made them.  My point is, that I am always learning more about bikes and would really appreciate any input and help anyone has to offer.  If I made a mistake, forgot something, or my attempts at providing information would be improved by adding something, please feel free to let me know.  Sometimes I write about random things here, but I would like this to be a place where someone like myself can come and learn more about bikes.  I obviously only know so much, so I would appreciate any help I can get so that this can become a place of shared experiences and learning.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Road Bike Accessories

So you have a road bike and are wondering which accessories to invest in first.  Well, these are certainly not going to be the same for everybody as we all have distinct needs (e.g. night time riders need lights).  Here is a list as I might recommend them though!

File:Bicyclehelmet da 060713.jpg
1.  A helmet: any helmet.  Get a bike helmet.  Yes, they are nerdy.  But so was the person in high school who is now a CEO while the cool kids....well, you can finish the thought yourself.  The truth is that just like a seat belt, after a while you don't even notice it is there.  If you do, then it might not be adjusted correctly, so just ask someone at a bike short for a hand.  The good news is that you do not need to spend a fortune.   All helmet have to pass a minimum safety level in the U.S., so if you want to spend 20 dollars or 200 you are going to be equally safe.  You are probably wondering why anyone chooses to pay the 200, and the reasons are usually because of reduced weight, increased ventilation, and style.  I sincerely think Target's 17 dollar special is a really decent looking helmet, so don't cash in your 401k for this accessory.

This person was clearly not so concerned about matching

2.  A water bottle and bottle cage.  These are not expensive and are generally a must have for any ride where you're exerting a decent amount of effort.  I do like to have two matching cages with two matching bottles, but it I find I really only use one bottle of water for every 20 miles or so.  This can be a fun place to personalize your bike, so if that is important to you, look around a bit for one that speaks to you!  Hint:  The metal cages are flexible to accommodate most bottles.

3.  A floor pump with a gauge.  This is far from a glorious accessory, but in reality is a must have.  I absolutely hate inflating my tires (apparently, that is where I draw a line in the sand), but I inflate them every ride.  I know this is a huge hassle, but it'll extend the life of your tires and make you ride more efficiently.  If you are riding on low pressure you'll probably feel like you're riding through mud.  I was really skeptical about the whole inflating my tires each and every ride, but I have been swayed.  They seem to drop 20 psi with every ride, and new tires are expensive and a hassle (much like flat).  Do yourself a favor and drop twenty dollars on a floor pump with a gauge (apparently squeezing the tire is far from an effective method of testing pressure).  Hint:  Get a pump that inflates multiple types of valves...or at the very least the type your bike uses!

File:Cycling Bibshorts.jpg
So....this is what Wikipedia offered me.....frightening.....(P.S. He would wear a jersey, too so that he looks like he is just wearing shorts and not about to wrestle.)

4.  A pair of decent shorts.  I know they are intimidating and not the first thing you want to wear out into public, but a decent pair of shorts with a nice pad (chamois) will go a very long way towards your comfort.  I think many people new to road biking are afraid of their seat and really which they had a beefier one, but in reality the saddle is probably a good one for a road bike that will offer you support in just the right places.  If you want to augment that comfort go for new shorts, not a new saddle.  Shorts will not only add sit comfort, but will add comfort in terms of wicking sweat away from your body (keeping you dry and cool!).  If you get lycra shorts they can also decrease your wind resistance (making riding a bit easier) as well as offer you compression which should benefit your riding muscles.  That being said, they make baggy shorts for those of us who are a bit more shy.  Hint:  Spend the extra couple of dollars on bib shorts, they are far more comfortable because there is no elastic to dig into you (though also a bit nerdier as you will look like Andre the Giant).

In my estimation, those are the most pressing accessories.  You can bike forever with just those things and be as happy as a clam.  Of course some of us have a sickness and can't help but turn a simple hobby into a habit that requires a second job to support it.

If you are wondering what comes after these, my next suggestions would be: jersey, gloves, sunglasses, bike shoes and clipless pedals, and a flat kit.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Providence Cyclo-cross Festival

A talented rider (note his intact hip)

Well, not surprisingly I did not race at the Providence cyclocross races.  These of course are the races I've been to every year for the last three years.  These are also the reason I broke my hip.  That being said, they were great to watch and each year they just get better.  This year there was rain (and cross races seem to be far better in the rain) and a much larger accompanying festival with more venders and food trucks.  It was also a great place to get some deals on bike gear.  I saw some friends, had some vegan soft serve from Like No Udder, and of course what would cyclocross be without a good cow bell?

Well, actually, you might not know that cyclocross requires a good cow bell, so let me back up.

Cyclocross was born at the turn of the 20th century when racers in Europe would race each other from one town to the next, cutting across grass and leaping over fences (carrying their bikes of course).  This developed into races in the fall and winter off-season.  These races continue today as short multi-lap races across roads, grass, and mud that last about an hour.  They usually involve obstacles that force the rider to either get off the bike and carry it over the obstacle or jump the obstacle on the bike.

Of course this really means that you see a bunch of muddy people race like crazy all over the place and sometimes take a spill here and there.  Of course the fun part is seeing the riders go over the jumps and struggle through the mud, but the impressive part is watching their fluid movements as they gracefully dismount and remount the bikes at each obstacle.

The events are made more fun by wacky costumed fans (and riders at times!), plenty of beer, and the vigorous ringing of cow bells to cheer on (or heckle) the riders.  Anyways, my favorite part was watching the riders use a pass-over as a jump! (and buying a wonderful jersey for $10!)