The last Friday of 2010!

31 12 2010

Who needs a kickstand?

It was fitting that on the last Friday of 2010 my last bike ride was my Bike Friday Tikit.  I needed a pre-NYE haircut and who needs the hassle of driving?

What lock?

My trusty little buddy got me there and back with a smile.  I enjoyed the warm sun and the quiet streets.  2010 was a great year.  I’m glad my Bike Friday was a big part of it.

Paranoid Packing…

31 12 2010

It always starts so well...

I’m getting a bit freaked out.

Getting my Baja gear together...

Each year when I go to Baja I trim my gear a bunch.  I’m taking way less than last year, but…

Arrggghhh....full again!

…my truck is always full!  How can that be?  You’d think when you take 30% less stuff there should be 30% more free space, but it never works out that way…=-)

Oh well…I’m going to blame the house elves!

New Year’s Resolutions…

31 12 2010

From Duncan's City Ride Blog

  1. be considerate with my bike lights at night.
  2. spend more energy finding mountain bike trails I love.
  3. point Sharon at an all girl’s MTB clinic/camp.
  4. have fun riding some brevets.
  5. learn to ride a surfboard strapless with my kites.
  6. ride the length of Vancouver Island.
  7. become a real surfer as opposed to a kook.
  8. upgrade and catch up on the maintenance for my favourite bikes.
  9. learn to ride a unicycle.
  10. get a tandem by the end of the year.

Ortlieb Recumbent Porn…

30 12 2010

Hard not to like that!

I don’t post much recumbent porn these days, but this image was worth its own post.  You can buy these bags here. Go Ortlieb..=-)~

Got Ortlieb Bent Pack?

30 12 2010

Ortlieb Recumbent Backpack...

Josh turned me onto this Ortlieb rack top bag that is also a backpack.   I love my Ortlieb panniers and my Velocity backpack so this seems like it could be a winner.

Backpack straps...

I currently have an Axiom rack top bag that I don’t love and it’s not waterproof so I’m open to something better.

More strap detail...

The problem with all multi-function bags is that they may not do any of their functions well.  So my question is does anyone out there actually own one of these and if so can you tell me a bit about how it’s working for you?

Available in basic black...

Bicycle Night Visibility Study

30 12 2010

"Away Team - set phasers for stun!"

Andrew posted a link to an interesting study from the Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety about how visible cyclists really are on the road.  You can read the whole study as a PDF here.

This is an abstract from the paper:

“Visibility limitations make cycling at night particularly dangerous. We previously reported cyclists’ perceptions of their own visibility at night and identified clothing configurations that made them feel visible. In this study we sought to determine whether these self-perceptions reflect actual visibility when wearing these clothing configurations. In a closed-road driving environment, cyclists wore black clothing, a fluorescent vest, a reflective vest, or a reflective vest plus ankle and knee reflectors. Drivers recognised more cyclists wearing the reflective vest plus reflectors (90%) than the reflective vest alone (50%), fluorescent vest (15%) or black clothing (2%). Older drivers recognised the cyclists less often than younger drivers (51% vs 27%). The findings suggest that reflective ankle and knee markings are particularly valuable at night, while fluorescent clothing is not. Cyclists wearing fluorescent clothing may be at particular risk if they incorrectly believe themselves to be conspicuous to drivers at night.”

Thanks to the Aushiker Blog for posting the link to the study.

Your taillight is too bright…

30 12 2010

Photo: Cool Tools...

The US Military has developed weapons based on the concept that ultra bright lights can temporarily disable the target’s central nervous system incapacitating them.  It appears that a number of bike light companies are using a similar approach to tail light technology.

Let me say categorically if your belief is the more light you are pumping out the back of your bike the safer you are – you’re wrong.  Drivers drunk and/or distracted crash into police cruisers with their flashers going regularly enough that some researchers hypothesize that bright lights cause you to look at them and you steer where you are looking:

“The “moth-effect” is a myth in one sense and reality in another. The idea that drivers may steer off the road when they fixate flashing lights is likely correct, but they are not drawn to the lights like moths to a flame. Rather, they inadvertently steer rightward, which may or may not take them into collision with the roadside vehicle. Even normal, alert drivers in daylight conditions may steer in the direction of eye position during periods of intense fixation. The cause is likely error in judging heading under eccentric fixation when optic flow cues are minimal and when attentional focus prevents sensing of the need to correct the error. Although bright lights and fascination are not required, of course, it is impossible to rule out these factors in some accidents.”

~85% of car bike collisions are from cars turning or crossing the cyclist’s path while only 10% involve a car overtaking a bike and hitting it from the rear.  So you should be far more worried about cars coming the other way than from the rear.

I’m not suggesting you don’t use a rear light or that it should be feeble.  What I am saying is buying the brightest light possible and shinning it into the eyes of drivers and cyclists approaching from the rear is not smart and is not going to increase your safety.  It may even decrease your safety as you are impairing their vision and ability to operate their vehicle most profoundly as they are about to pass you – a time when you want people in cars to be at 100% performance.

How do you know if you are doing something wrong?  Swap bikes with a friend and ride behind him at varying distances on a dark MUP or dark street.   Note how you felt as you were exposed to the light from the back of your bike.  Try the same thing, but this time in a car on a dark road and then a busier road with more lights.  Again note how visible your bike was and how the lights you are using felt from that perspective.

How to be safe without burning out other folk’s retinas:

  1. ride predictably…cars expect cyclists to be in certain places on the road and to behave in certain ways.  That’s where a driver is looking for you.  The more predictable you are the easier it is for you to be spotted and avoided.
  2. ride intelligently…every route is different and has different pros and cons.  Your most efficient safe commute in normal conditions may be dangerous when it’s foggy due to the many business lights/signs that could mask your bike’s lights.  It might be better to take a longer slower route on side streets that day and accept the delay it will cause.
  3. signal effectively…a black glove on a black jacket may not be an effective way to signal the fact you want to turn left.  Be aware of what you are wearing and what you look like to other road users.  When in doubt wait until the road is clear before turning or changing lanes.
  4. use a rearview mirror…if getting hit from behind concerns you than keep an eye on what’s to the rear.  If you see a car swerving like the operator is drunk just get off the road entirely until they are gone.
  5. wear reflective material…it’s effective and cheap.  Ankle bands and wrist bands are awesome for low cost visibility and turn signalling.  A reflective vest is an easy way to amp up your visibility to cars without needing batteries or causing vision issues.
  6. use two lower power lights vs. one ultra powerful light…LEDs have a small window of very bright light output.  As you move sideways or up/down away from this zone the light power fades.  Two light allows you to aim at different spots [20′ away and 100′ away or aimed slightly left and right] giving you more chance to be seen but not putting excessive light into any one area behind you.  Two lights also mean a light failure or low battery doesn’t turn you into a totally black Road Ninja.
  7. Set your lights to solid mode so they aren’t as dazzling.
  8. Be considerate.  If you do use a powerful rear light on rapid flash mode be ready and willing to change modes while riding if you see another cyclist or driver following you in a situation you know they’ve already spotted you.

Just like wearing a helmet doesn’t mean you’ll be safe on your bike – using the most powerful light you can get your hands on and assuming it will mean you are safe on the roads at night is a mistake.  By all means use a bright tail light [and wear a helmet], but make it part of a bigger plan for night time safety not your only line of defense.  And when you are holding that Dinotte tail light in your hands thinking how safe you’ll be when you turn it on and aim it into the eyes of over taking drivers consider for a moment that it’s a weapon and try approaching your bike from the rear on a dark street/MUP.  If you can’t see anything, but a huge red spot for 20-30seconds afterwards maybe consider that your light may actually impair your safety or someone else’s as that dazzled driver passes you at 55mph.

Planet Bike Blinky 7...

PS – if you have any older LED tail lights like this Blinky 7 from Planet Bike consider putting them back into service.  Instead of one uber bright LED that focuses all it’s light in one intense spot they use a bunch of bright, but lower power LEDs that push out light over a wider area.  When you consider a wider viewing angler they may even be more visible than their brighter siblings.  I’ll be using one of these on my rando rig along with a bunch of reflective material.  It will be more than bright enough [on solid mode] to be seen on the rural roads/highways typical of Canadian brevet routes, but not as deadly on the eyes of randonneurs that may be following me for several hours.

You don’t need more lights…

29 12 2010

Take me to your leader Earthling...

Reflective gear has seen as many advances as modern bike lighting. It’s bright when a car or bike’s lights strike it. It’s cheap and it lasts for years with no batteries to charge or electric circuits to fail.  For some reason cyclists treat reflective material as an accessory. It’s fine for the trim on our rain jackets or a nice to have on a messenger bag, but not something we think about with the same importance and focus as we do bike lights.

That’s a mistake.

As a driver I often spot a cyclist up the road because of their reflective material before I see their lights. Pumping ankle bands are distinctively a signal there is a cyclist ahead.  My brain is trained to think cyclist, runner or road worker when I see reflective material. All of which demand some extra care as I approach them.

"X" marks the cyclist and arms signal my turns...

By all means fit your bike with effective lights, but also make sure you have made good use of reflective material as well.  Ankle bands are small, cheap and useful if you are wearing street clothes.  They really catch the eye of a driver.  Reflective gloves make your turn signaling much more effective and they’ll fit over gloves in cool weather.   A reflective vest or sash is easy to wear over anything and packs away into a small corner of your bag during the day.

You don’t have to wear all the stuff I have on in these photos, but wear a couple items to make yourself more visible without needing to add the weight, cost and complexity of more lights.

650B Tires…

29 12 2010

Pacenti Pari-Moto 650B 38mm tires...

Having looked at 650B bikes recently the one question that I needed to resolve if I went with the less popular 650B size was what tires to use?  If they stopped making 650B rims I could buy 8 and be set for 20yrs, but tires don’t last that long and don’t have the same shelf-life as a rim.  Having said that the Greenspeed Scorchers have shown me that you really only need one awesome model of tire for a given wheel size to be happy.  So I don’t care about having 15 choices. I just need a couple awesome ones.

Looking at 650B rubber it seems like the two kick ass tires are Grand Bois Hetres [42mm] and Pacenti Pari-Motos [38mm].

Grand Bois Hertres 42mm 650 tire - Photog unknown...

The Pari-Motos are 127TPI & 280g with a true width of 38mm sold by Velo Orange for $59USD.  They are very thin which makes them light and fast, but not very durable.  Jan Heine at Bicycle Quarterly calls them an “event tire” because their thin casing [1.3mm compared to the 2.3mm of the Hetres] will wear out in ~2000kms on the rear.  The Hetres are 412g and 42mm wide sold by Compass Bicycle [aka Bicycle Quarterly] for $68USD.  The more robust Hetres hold 16% more air and should last over ~4000kms on the rear.

That sounds like two great options to me.  Pari-Motos for brevets where speed/efficiency is key and Hetres for training and general use where long life and some extra plushness matter more.

Dinotte 200L vs Ford F150 Part II

28 12 2010

Low beam on F150...Dual Dinotte 200Ls at 10m...

I was asked for more photos so here they are.  This one shows F150 on low beams at 10m. Camera is position as if passing in a car.

Same setup as above, but camera positioned as if passing bike...

In this shot I just moved 1m to right to simulate position of car passing the bike.

F150 on low 20m away...

This is a shot with F150 on low beam from 20m away positioned as if passing the truck in a car.

Same shot as above 1m to right to simulate passing the bike...

F150 on low beams from 20m camera 1m further to right than shot above to simulate driver of car passing bike.

F150 on high beam at 10m...

F150 on high beam at 10m positioned as if passing truck.

F150 on high beam at 10m...

Camera moved 1m to right to simulate passing bike at 10m.

F150 on high beam at 20m...

F150 on high beam with camera at 20m positioned as if passing in another vehicle.

F150 on high beam at 20m...

F150 on high beam with camera at 20m, but positioned 1m  to right to simulate passing bike.

Two Dinotte 200L lights at 20m...truck lights off...

Dinottes & IXON IQ vs. Ford F150

28 12 2010

Dual Dinotte 200L lights mounted on Sharon's bike...

A member of the Bike rando sub-forum wanted photographic proof that symetric bike lights where more blinding than a vehicle’s head lights so I took these photos this morning.

Dual Dinotte 200L lights & Ford F150 on low beam...

Dinottes are far more blinding than two full size pick truck head lights.  The truck is actually emitting far more light than the Dinottes, but this light is aimed down at the road so I can drive safely at 120kph on a pitch dark highway.  Aimed this way the light doesn’t bother oncoming traffic.

Dual Dinotte 200L lights & Ford F150 lights on high beam...

Both sets of light are blinding and quite irritating.  Note that the Dinottes hold their own against a full size pick up truck with its lights on high beam.

B&M Ixon IQ & Ford F150 on low beam...

B&M Ixon IQ and F150 on low beam – both sets of lights are clearly visible to oncoming traffic, but neither are blinding and both sets of lights put the majority of their output where it’s actually useful – on the road.

Baja Kiteboarding Gear 2011

28 12 2010

Viva Mexico!

For the kiteboarders out there here is what I am taking to La Ventana, Baja Sur, Mexico this winter for gear:

  • 12m Naish Code [2008] + bar
  • 10m Ocean Rodeo Rise [2010] + bar
  • 8m Ocean Rodeo Rise [2011] + bar
  • 6m Naish Cult [2009] + bar
  • Ocean Rodeo Mako 140 [2010]
  • Slingshot Tyrant 6’2″ surfboard [2011]
  • Dakine Nitrous shorts harness w/ leash
  • 2 pumps
  • Kitefix repair kit

For Sharon I’ll bring:

  • 9m Naish Code [2008] + bar
  • RRD 144 [2010] w/ Ocean Rodeo GoJoe
  • Airush Switch 130 [2008]

For wearing in the water:

  • 3/2mm shortie
  • impact vest
  • helmet
  • surf sunglasses w/ strap
  • vibram five fingers KSO

Prepping my Fatty…

27 12 2010

Nothing rocks the beach like a Pugsley...

I haven’t thrown a leg over my Surly Pugsley since last winter.  Totally sad, but moving and kiteboarding has really eaten up all my free time….=-(  However, there is no other machine for the beaches and deserts of Baja that can tackle anything that comes along.  So I’m happy to be checking over my fatty.  Getting a few spares together and making sure she’s ready for another run south of two borders!

I can taste the warm tacos and cold beer already!

When I get to La Ventana I park my truck until it’s time to drive back.  I’m strictly human power down there and I love the slower relaxed pace that comes with walking and biking for all my needs.

Fairfield Bicycle Shop

26 12 2010

Fairfield Bicycle Shop - Victoria BC....

I don’t really have a LBS in Victoria where I feel as at home as Bow Cycle in Calgary.  Maybe that’s going to take a lot longer. Maybe that won’t ever happen. However, I have to give the Fairfield Bicycle Shop some credit. I’ve been looking for some odd parts this year that I fully expected I would have to order online.  In each case I figured I might as well try and buy local if I could, but really didn’t expect to be successful.  And in each case Fairfield had exactly what I was looking for.

For example they had a Rohloff dual wheel chain tensioner.  Exactly what I needed.  $50 less than the best online price I had found and available right away so I could finish my bike build.  You can’t really ask for more than that.

Merry Christmas Fairfield Bicycle Shop!

B&M Ixon IQ Initial Review…

25 12 2010
B&M Ixon IQ for Sharon’s
X’mas present…

The focused B&M lights I ordered came in from Peter WhitCycles yesterday. I don’t have my dynohub wheels setup for the B&M IQ Cyo lights, but I figured I’d test out Sharon’s Christmas present – a B&M Ixon IQ. Happily the packaging is re-sealable so I can put it back inside so she can open it up again herself. The first thing you notice is the Ixon IQ is larger than a typical bike light I’m used to. This is because the focused optic is a larger module and it holds 4 rechargeable NiMH batteries inside it. The case is made from high quality plastic and is quite light weight. It comes with a universal bar mount that’s designed to work with oversized and standard diameter bars. I tried it on two standard diameter bars and it works well. The mount can be left on your bike and the light housing slides off with a QR button for safe keeping at a stop. The Ixon IQ has one button which offers two modes:

  1. high powered mode = 40 Lux [which I tested] for lighting up the road.
  2. lower power city mode = 10 Lux for visibility not so much for lighting the road.
  3. the button flashes green for high power and alternates red and green for city mode.
  4. the faster the flashing the lower the power remaining in your batteries.

Sharon's bike setup for the light test...

Naturally being Christmas Eve I decided to run another light test. I put the Ixon IQ on Sharon’s bike with a Planet Bike Blaze 1W [she normally uses two of these for her commute] as well as my two Dinotte 200L’s….one of which has a DIY vertical cut off hacked on to it. Just looking at the lights the B&M is a lot bigger. The Dinottes are smallest with the nicest casing, but there is a battery pack req’d for each as well as a power cord between the light engine and battery pack…which taken in total isn’t as lovely or neat a setup. The buttons on all these lights are easy to use and the Dinotte and Ixon IQ both provide some useful feedback on the battery level via the lit up button.

Video note: the video seems quite dark when uploaded to Youtube. The Planet Bike Blaze has a spot beam visible to the eye and the Ixon and Dinottes are actually quite bright.

Prior to running this test I aimed all the lights as I would to use them while riding. Then I setup a camera on a tripod in my yard at about cyclist/pedestrian/motorist’s head height. I’m 5’11” so I went slightly lower than my own head to capture the viewpoint of the majority of folks out there. I then used the following test format:

  • with the bike next to the camera I turned on all the lights [in this order: Planet Bike, Ixon, hacked Dinotte and unhacked Dinotte] to see what the beam looked like from the rider’s perspective.
  • then I moved to the far side of the yard and operated the lights in the same order with the bike pointed at the camera to see what the lights looked like from a road/MUP user’s perspective.
  • then I turned the bike around to test what the different modes offered by the PDW Radbot 1000 looked like to a person behind Sharon’s bike.

Planet Bike Blaze 1W

  • weakest of all lights tested
  • tightest beam pattern
  • not a good light to light up a dark road due to low light output and narrow beam
  • easily visible in solid and flashing mode
  • very bright if you are looking right into centre of beam
  • very dazzling in flash mode if you are looking directly into beam
  • $29CDN at MEC

Conclusion: effective visibility only light, but should be aimed down to avoid blinding others and preferably used in solid on mode to avoid irritating others. If all you need is a be seen light and take care with how you aim it than for $20 it’s a decent value.

B&M Ixon IQ

  • light output similar to Dinotte, but better utilized down on road
  • vertical cut off much more effective than my Dinotte hack
  • very easy to see bike when approaching from front, but spill light that enters eyes not enough to blind or irritate
  • no flash mode [illegal in Germany]
  • City mode is useful in town where lots of ambient light to see by so bike light mainly for safety to be visible to others
  • light pattern ideal for city speeds [15-27kph] I would like to test at higher
  • high quality feel to case, button, mount and optics
  • cost $110USD at Peter White Cycles

Conclusion: Very impressive light. Very functional and easy to use. For the money the best battery powered bike light I’m aware of.

Dinotte 200L

  • powerful light, but much of the light is wasted up in trees and other road/MUP user’s eyes
  • hacked Dinotte better for reduction of glare into oncoming user’s eyes, but not as effective as Ixon IQ
  • very easy to see bike in all modes
  • lights up road okay, but not as well as Ixon IQ
  • high quality case and easy to use button
  • easy to love everything about this light, but the beam pattern
  • very easy to blind/dazzle oncoming folks…fast flasher mode is worst forthis
  • cost $110USD from Dinotte

Conclusion: A well made high quality light, but performs poorly when compared to Ixon IQ. Given they cost the same amount I can’t recommend this light.

Video note: this video is also darker one Youtube than actual light beam was to eye.

This video shows what it’s like to ride with the Ixon IQ on a dark MUP as well as some sections with additional ambient light. My speeds where between 15-20kph mainly because riding faster with one hand in the dark isn’t a great idea! Note that the people I pass are visible, but not blinded. With my Dinottes they would look away as I passed or cover their eyes and their tone when greeted would be somewhat irritated [I’ve been yelled at because my Dinottes were so harsh on other cyclist’s and ped’s eyes].

Video note: the brightness of the Ixon IQ’s beam pattern in this video is more representative of what it looks like to the naked eye.

I shot one last video to highlight how effective the Ixon IQ’s beam pattern was at putting light exactly where you need it, but not blinding people. Also note that there is more than enough spill light to see the bike. Riding through town I found the Ixon IQ did an okay job of illuminating street signs, but for a brevet I might want a second light [perhaps helmet mounted] that I could use specifically for this purpose.

Accurate representation of how bright Ixon IQ is – Photo:
Peter White Cycles…

The photo above shows how bright the Ixon IQ is to the naked eye. My video camera loses a lot of the brightness and when uploaded to Youtube it gets dimmer again.

Overall Impression of the Ixon IQ

Awesome. This light exceeded all my expectations. The thought and careful design that’s gone into the beam pattern is impressive. You get exactly the light you need where you need it and nowhere else. One reason I didn’t buy this type of European light earlier was that I assumed it had to cost a fortune, but at $110USD it’s the same price as a Dinotte 200L and out performs the Dinotte handily. Until I get a dynohub sorted for my rando bike I’ll have to “steal” this light from Sharon for my longer brevets…=-) Two of these lights would be a great rando setup that could be swapped to a commuter bike during the week. If you need a high quality battery bike light for street/MUP use I can’t recommend anything better. A few final points:

BTW – my original test videos are brighter and easier to see than once uploaded to Youtube. If you’d like a copy of the original videos click here. Videos are being uploaded as I post this so if you can’t download them quite yet give it an hour and try again.

Merry Surf-mas!

25 12 2010

Gnarly Santa!

I hope everyone out there has a happy holidays.  Stay warm.  Stay safe.  =-)

Sharon is in Huston TX with her family so I’m flying solo.  I’ll be in Tofino from 25-27 Dec to celebrate the lesser known holiday of Surf-mas…=-)

Shoe Goo

24 12 2010

Ugly, but effective...

Don’t dry your shoes on a hot radiator.  The rubber outsole will come unglued like it did to my 5.10 Impact Lows…user error!…=-(  Shoe Goo aka Free Sole to the rescue.  The fix is admittedly ugly, but the repair will hold long enough for me to wear out the rest of the shoe.

I can live with that!

BBC Randonneur…

23 12 2010

Tweaking my saddle...

I posted some info on my randonneur-ized cross bike over at my Bow Cycle Blog.

Alex Wetmore’s Tikit Porteur Rack

23 12 2010

Photo: Alex Wetmore

Update: Lane at CETMA is going to build me a PR rack for my Tikit.  It will include a mount for the Brompton O-Bag QR bracket so I can just drop the O-Bag on the rack without having to strap it down or have it jump off on a bump.  I’m going to drop off my Tikit on the way down to Baja and hopefully pick everything up on my way back home.  Lane will have my Tikit as well as my O-Bag and Brompton QR bracket so he can fit everything up nicely.  If you want the same setup drop him a line since he will have everything in hand as well as a bike to test fit things it will never be easier to order a Tikit PR rack.

I’m stoked. The only thing I was jealous about from the Brompton world was their front luggage.  Now I’ll be able to have the great Tikit ride & fold with handy Brompton quick release front luggage and the utility of Alex’s PR rack.  Sounds killer to me…=-)

Alex Wetmore is one of those smart guys that’s also handy enough to build the stuff he thinks of – a wicked combo for sure.  I love his idea for a PR Rack on a Bike Friday Tikit.  The more I ride my Tikit the more I think this makes a ton of sense rather than messing with panniers.  I could strap on my bike messeger bag or a box or paper for the office with ease.  I think I’m going to make one of these happen in 2011.  Getting a custom rack built has some expense involved in design and getting jigs ready that could be used for many future racks.  If you have any interest in one of these for your Tikit let me know.  I could do the coordination with a rack builder and everyone who wants one pay him and have a rack built shipped from his shop.  The result would be faster, easier and cheaper than 5 or 8 people getting custom racks for their Tikits.

Brompton O-Bag made by Ortlieb...

MacBook Air 2 Year Update…

23 12 2010

Supermodel Thin...

I bought one of the first generation Apple MacBook Air ultra-thin laptops. I was admittedly seduced by the sleek metal case and amazingly thin profile.   It’s hard to believe there is a full fledged computer inside that package. The cost given the performance of the internals is high, but as someone who uses a computer a ton I give a lot of points for ease of use and aesthetics.  After two years the initial crush has worn off so I thought I would post my impressions of this product.

  • so light and thin you’ll take it with you everywhere
  • beautiful case [very solid only one small dent so far after a lot of use and travel]
  • solid full size keyboard [back lit]
  • trackpad is excellent
  • gorgeous bright screen
  • not powerful enough for my only computer, but fine for long trips or in a pinch if my desktop is down
  • battery life is just acceptable…I’m looking for a plug in often
  • Mac OSX strangles the volume so some movies are hard to hear without speakers or earphones
  • I haven’t wanted a USB optical drive….I just slave another Mac’s the odd time I need it
  • a bit more finicky on sketchy wireless networks than my Dell XPS
  • OSX is pleasant to use and all my Apple products mesh intuitively [don’t need anti-virus software!]
  • bottom can get quite hot…if you block the vents the Air will overheat and CPU slow way down
  • it was expensive

Keep in mind Apple has come out with two newer generations of MacBook Air since mine so my comments may not fully apply to the newer beasts.  Sharon liked mine so much she bought a 2nd generation Air and my friend Deanna just got a 3rd generation Air.  Sharon uses it as her only computer and is fully satisfied with it.  Deanna is doing a graduate program and wanted something portable to take to school.   When I use Sharon’s I can tell it is noticeably faster than mine.  I imagine Deanna’s kicks some serious butt and I hear they’ve improved the battery life.

Because I use a computer for so much of my critical work tasks I wouldn’t be happy with an Air as my sole computer.  For that job I’ve got a 15″ MacBook Pro hooked up to a 32″ monitor.  But, for most everything else the Air is plenty powerful.  It’s also so easy to take along and use you’ll find you get a lot more opportunities to hit that power button than you would a bigger laptop.  Even though we have bigger screens at our disposal Sharon and I will often watch a movie on the Air.  The smaller screen is so bright and sharp it’s easy to forget that it’s kind of small.  Plus the Air happily sits on your lap without cutting off circulation to your legs.

Would I buy another?

Absolutely.  This is one of my favourite and most useful computers to use.  The cost is high so it definitely falls into the luxury item category, but as long as I can afford it I’ll be buying myself a new one when this one breaks or just gets too old.

Scott’s Surly Pugsley

21 12 2010

Scott's new fatty...

Scott from Porcelain Rocket just got a new Pugsley.  The white frames are looking sweet and now that a complete Pugsley is available I’m seeing them pop up all over the net.  I’ll miss having an uber unique ride, but at the same time having folks who can ride the same terrain as you is well worth it.

Given his bag making skills it will be fun to see what soft goods Scott whips up for this bike.

The not so Little Circles Pugsley is looking awesome as well.

SIR 100K 5 March 2011

21 12 2010

Seattle International Randonneurs at PBP 2007...

I’m going to make my trip to Seattle around the weekend of 5 March 2011 so I can participate in the Seattle International Randonneurs 100K populaire.

I posted this on BROL:

“Having moved to the PNW area I’m keen on checking out some local cycling events. One of the reasons I got interested in riding brevets was the Seattle International Randonneurs website had great stores and pictures of their events. Little did I know a 9 rider turn out at an Alberta brevet was a lot!

Anyways the SIR are having a 100K populaire on Saturday 5 March 2011.

This is a welcome ride to the public to get them interested in randonneering without the need to train for a long distance. I am going to attend by riding my bike to the harbour in Victoria and taking the ferry to Seattle. I figured I’d post something here since the Seattle area is host to a lot of cyclists and it would be cool to meet up with some of you in person.

If you are close enough to Seattle to attend and want to hook up let me know and I’ll organize a way to get together at the start and a place we can go after the ride for something to eat and drink.

I’ll be staying over the weekend intending to check out some bike shops and test ride some bents.”

If you are a blog reader who lives in the PNW and fancies a group ride that isn’t crazy long this might be the ticket.  It would be fun to meet in person and chat about bikes over a beer or three…=-)  I’ll be in town from Friday PM through Monday AM if another time suits you better – just drop me a line.

Baja Baby!

20 12 2010

Life's a beach and then you die...

I’ll be hitting the road right after NYE for a road trip down to La Ventana in Baja Mexico.  I’ve got a professional certification exam to study for and figure I might as well study in my tent on the beach.  The wind doesn’t pick up until ~1pm in La Ventana and I get up at ~6am when I’m camping so that means I can get in a solid 4hrs of studying in the AM.  Grab some lunch and be ready to kiteboard when the wind is howling.

The spirit of Baja...

I can’t really complain about the mild winter weather here on Vancouver Island, but I’m still going to be stoked to spend my days wearing only surf shorts.  I’ll try and keep posting to this blog a couple times a week while I am gone. I’ll have my Pugsley down in Mexico with me, but no long distance bike rides planned – just taco and beer runs!

Fish tacos?...

When I get back in mid-Feb I’ll be all studied up and ready to roll on my bike for the start of the rando season in BC.  I may not come back in killer cycling shape, but I’ll be tanned and relaxed which is a good way to start the new year.

Hopefully it will already be springtime by then…=-)

Easy Racers…

20 12 2010

David Cambon's lovely Easy Racer rando bike...

I mentioned a while back that I was contemplating getting a recumbent so I can enjoy the reclined bike-style again….=-)  I’ve been pondering what to get that would be interesting to ride and fit into my current bike mission profile.  One bike that keeps popping up on my radar is the Easy Racer Gold Rush Replica like the one pictured above. It’s a long wheelbase recumbent that’s got a reputation for speed and solid climbing performance.  It makes a great touring rig and long distance bike as David Cambon has proven on many occasions.  The GRR is particularly suited for fast riding with a front fairing and body sock. Living in Victoria BC the warmth and weather protection these items offer is definitely of interest for year round riding.

Peter Noris riding a body socked Easy Racer at PBP...

It would be very interesting to see how an Easy Racer LWB stacked up against the SWB bents I’m used to riding – especially in the climbing department.  They seem to offer a lot of potential benefits:

  • efficient climbing for a bent
  • high speed on downhills, flats and shallow climbs
  • weather protection from fairing and body sock
  • comfortable ride [due to long wheelbase and recumbent seat]
  • easy to carry water and other supplies
  • low BB makes starts and stops easy
  • proven design
  • great customer service
  • 406 and 700c wheel sizes in common with bikes I already own

Configured the way I would need it a GRR would cost over $4K so I won’t be snapping one up tomorrow, but I will keep my eyes peeled for a good deal like a used bike in good condition.  In the meantime I’ll work on getting a test ride in when I go to Seattle in March 2011.

DeLorme GPS with Spot Communicator

19 12 2010

DeLorme PN-60W Earthmate with Spot

Update: this unit is $100 – $150 [varies with model] until 31 Dec 2010.  I’m very tempted, but must restrain myself!

I’ve used my buddy Kurt’s SPOT satellite locator beacon a few times.  It’s a handy way to keep folks aprised of where you are and even summon help when in remote spots.  I’ve been thinking about getting one myself, but it hasn’t worked its way to the top of my priority list yet…especially when I can borrow Kurt’s!  Well this new version is paired with a DeLorme GPS so you can transmit not only your position, but a one way text msg back to civilization.


That’s awesome!  If I’m kiteboarding at a remote lake and want to let other people know conditions are great I’d be able to do that so they can drive out. If I’m on a bike tour in a remote spot and need to set something up for my return, like ordering a spare part or arranging to meet someone for a pick up, I can now do that in the middle of nowhere.  Sweet!


I won’t be buying one when they first come out because I have a GPS I like and I don’t really want to spend $550USD to get the SPOT functionality.  I’m hoping they’ll make a SPOT that I can hook up to my iPhone or something like that to type a msg.  I’m not sure that will happen, but if it did I’d be ordering one tomorrow!  For now I’ll see how people like this product when it gets released this summer.  It may not be a sure fire acquisition, but getting a SPOT has moved up my priority list a bunch!

If anyone out there buys one let me know how you like it.

SPOT’s DeLorme PN-60W Eathmate Page

DeLorme’s PN-60W Product Page

Battle Damage…

19 12 2010

I cracked her....

I’ved used my new Walden Magic Model for 6-8 sessions so far and managed to crack the fiberglass shell on one of the rails.  Not sure how it happened, but given some of my crashes and a few knocks against hard objects while carrying the board out of the water it’s not the board’s fault.

Duct tape to the rescue!...

I’ve got plans to surf at Jordan River today so I just slapped some duct tape over the crack to limit water penetration.  Monday morning my baby is off to Jason @ Island Shaper for a proper repair. Surfboards are very strong for their intended use, but fragile when smacked into hard objects.  I’ll protect my investment by jumping on the fix ASAP.  Hopefully I’ll have my baby back for next weekend.  We’ve got a boxing day surfing trip planned…=-)

BTW – I do store and transport my Walen in a surfboard bag to keep her in good shape.

The wait is killing me…

18 12 2010

Grand Bois Cypres 700c x 30mm...

These Grand Bois Cypres 700c x 30mm tires are the fastest rolling 700c tires I know of.  I’ve bought two previous sets and didn’t get to keep either of them as other people in my life managed to “acquire” them!  Average speed increases on a longstanding commute of 20% were achieved and this was noticed by someone who pays no attention to their bike unless stuff breaks.  Sharon has a set on her 700c bike and loves the speed increase and comfort over her stock OEM tires.

So I orded myself a 3rd set which will go on my Surly LHT to replace my long serving Schwalbe Marathon XRs.  I’ll keep the XRs for future rugged tours as they have life left in them and they are no longer made so I might as well save them for what they do best – heavy duty touring.

Grand Bois Cypres on Anna's Surly Long Haul Trucker...

I’m looking forward to the fast rolling smooth ride of this new rubber…=-)

The trouble is before I conduct the swap I want to run some roll down tests on the XRs so I can gauge the speed increase between these tires.  I found a suitable test course and methodology.  I had some time this AM so I figured lets do it!  Unfortunately we’ve got crazy winds here today gusting to 30mph.  My test course is on a MUP below street level so it’s protect from wind, but when it’s howling this much I don’t think it would be protected enough not to compromise the results.


So I wait with the Grand Bois Cypres sitting on my desk.  Hopefully Monday will work [Sunday is surfing at Jordan River].

I bought all my Grand Bois tires from Compass Bicycle which is the storefront of Bicycle Quarterly.  They sell a great mix of useful products and I’m happy to support them since I benefit from the testing they do.  If you haven’t read Bicycle Quarterly’s tire testing articles you are missing out.

If you need some 700c rubber and have room for 30mm tires buy these tires – you will not be disappointed.

NSI Clear Grip Update

17 12 2010

Wave hunters @ Tofino...

I’ve used my Walden Magic Model surfboard a bunch more since my review of the NSI Clear Grip traction sheets.  My impression of this product vs. surf wax is growing better and better.  I’ve also lent it out to several people who liked it a lot as well.  What makes it so nice to use [besides not having to wax or deal with a waxy mess] is that it gives you enough traction to control the board, but still allows you to move around on it easily when needed.  So if you are not positioned correctly on the board you can move your feet or body [when laying prone] easily, but once you press down and want traction it’s there for you.  With wax you get a lot of traction even when you don’t want it which makes adjustments harder to make.

Board's eye view of North Chesterman Beach...

Keep in mind I am still learning how to surf so I am not doing any radical moves.  It may turn out that Clear Grip isn’t enough when I’m working the board hard.  To confirm this next time I’m with an experienced surfer I’ll let them try the board and give me some feedback.

I have used a small amount of wax on top of the Clear Grip where I place my hands when popping up.  This gives me extra grip in the one area I want it without having to use much wax.

So far the Clear Grip looks brand new after a dozen days of surfing.  It looks like it will last a long time.  So far so good!…=-)

— All photos by Deanna Enman.

Focused Lights

16 12 2010

B&M IQ Cyo...

I can’t complain about unfocused lights and then spend my $$$ on anymore lights that blind other cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.  As I noted in my 2011 To Do List post I want to upgrade the lighting on my bikes.  So I have ordered a B&M IQ Cyo from Peter White Cycles.  When I get a Shimano dynohub wheel built up [probably not until Feb 2011] this light will go on my Surly LHT.

B&M IQ Cyo beam pattern...

This light is made for faster riding as you’ll note there isn’t a lot of light up close for slowly picking your way through pot holes, but there is lots of light further away where you need it at 30kph+.

B&M IQ Cyo R...

I also ordered a B&M IQ Cyo R for my Surly Big Dummy.  I have a 26″ disc Shimano dynohub wheel built up from my Thorn Nomad so this light will go into service immediately.

B&M IQ Cyo R bam pattern...

As you can see this version of the light has a slightly tweaked beam pattern with more light up close for slower riding – especially on poor roads. This will be an ideal fit for the Big Dummy as an urban cargo bike and expedition touring rig.  This level of attention to detail and thoughtful design is why I’m spending my $$ on a German light vs. buying anything from North American bike light companies.

B&M Ixon...

I ordered Sharon a B&M Ixon IQ [same shape as above, but black and improved power output].  This is a battery powered version of the same series of bike lights.  She’ll use this on her commuter mountain bike for now and her Surly Cross Check in 2011 when we get it rolling.  For her birthday I’ll see about a dynohub wheel and a dyno headlight for the Cross Check. Then this light will live on her #2 bike.

B&M Ixon IQ beam pattern...

Note a similar beam pattern to the IQ Cyo R with lots of light in the foreground.  This will suit Sharon’s slower riding speed and urban commute/transport missions.

Dinotte on a RANS crankforward...

What about my Dinottes and Sharon’s Planet Bike lights?  We won’t throw them out.  I usually have a ~10 bikes on the go at any given time.   With the LHT, Big Dummy and New World Tourist dyno’d up I’ve got my go to night bikes.  I’ll use the Dinottes on the other rigs when I need to take them out after dark.  Same with Sharon.  In 2011 she’ll have a Cross Check, commuter mountain bike and a Dahon Speed to light up.

When these unfocused lights wear out they won’t be replaced.

Full Moon Medicine…

15 12 2010

My friend Brad posted a new techno mix online here.  If you want to listen to it pls right click save as rather than playing from their website.  That way they get the download bandwidth hit only once and you can listen to it on your computer as much as you like.  If you like it drop Brad a note at brad “at” moontribe “dot” org .