At CES last week, I was on hand to see Bill Gates give his final keynote speech as Microsoft CEO. Before introducing guitar legend Slash to the audience, he mentioned interactive technology that would allow a TV audience to choose, per his example, a race car to follow in the Daytona 500. You could then see the that team’s pit crew and the car’s POV camera rather than just watching what the broadcasters select. I say, screw NASCAR, let’s get that technology for the Tour de France.
Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could choose to follow your favourite racer among the 180 athletes on the road? Half the technology is already there since many of the races kit the participants’ bikes out with transponders. The next step would be current speed and maybe HRM data that would be cool. You’re watching tv, use a remote to find Racer A among all the others, and then you see his place, how fast he’s going, and his position in the field. Maybe have an alternate screen with the course profile showing where Racer A is within the field of riders.
A more complex version could be a computer rendering of a 3D map with topography. If anything, something like that could finally make cross country MTB racing a viable television event.
I think baseball is popular partially because of the plethora of statistics involved. Interactive technology would certainly aid in television viewership of bike racing by letting the audience really get into that world.
Here’s a great post from Bicycle and Icicles, a commuter from Alaska. Like many winter commuters he gets (more than?) his fair share of “are you crazy?” comments when the weather turns bad. He’s got a couple of thoughts actually written down that I find myself thinking weekly:
Riding in the snow might look cold and miserable when seen through a windshield, but I’m one of the few people having fun while commuting at rush hour.
Good to remember, and pretty inspirational for this rain rider here in the temperate North West/Lower 48.
Updated with snow on bikes image from a CNN story on the 20 inches of snow that hit parts of New England (AP PHOTO).
The local cyclocross race season’s pretty much wrapped up, but that doesn’t mean you need to hang your cyclocross rig up for the year. Good story in the Seattle Times about off-road/on-road touring, written by Mike McQuaide who rides out of Bellingham.
I saw several vendors displaying long flexible strips of LED lights, as seen in the video I shot at CES. They all seem to run on 12V power sources, so they would be adaptable to bicycle use. One vendor had strips that changed colour in waves, but those required a controller about the size of a Twinkie.
UPDATE: Yeah - I’m recycling this post from last year. I had a co-worker tell me today that they came across this post so I thought I’d re-run it. I’m going to Lowe’s tonight to get new flap material. Seems I’ve worn a hole in my rear flap…
There’s been some comments around fenders lately. One of the most important aspects of a good fendering job is a solid buddy flap. The concept is - even with full fenders, your buddy riding behind you is probably getting a good stream of wet grit in their teeth. The buddy flap gives you more coverage leaving you friends dry and clean.
Buddy Flaps makes some pretty sweet custom flaps if there’s interest in showing off your “hugger” love.
What you make the flap from is tends to say a little but about you:
Leather - “I’m a cowboy! Saddle up!”
Semi Truck - “I ride so much that I need REALLY THICK rubber to hold back all the grit”
Half Bottle - “I have so many bottles, yeah I’ve got one to waste to keep you clean”
Leopard Print - “I like to party all the time”
Duct Tape - “I only make a half effort for my friends because I know it’ll fall apart soon anyway”
UPDATE by Andrew: Wired linked to Dave’s review. Nice!
I got a chance to try out Kona’s upcoming integrated cargo bike, the Ute. I gotta say, this is one solid ride. The ute’s a longbike: a 29er (update: 700c x 47) with a giant rack built in capable of carrying 4 panniers, a couple of passengers, or just about anything else you can strap to it. Several longbike designs have been around for a while now, the Ute’s take is an integrated design – the extended cargo area’s built right into the frame. This makes the bike super solid. Add in smart design, great components and you’ve got yourself a one-stop cargo hauling go-anywhere machine.
The Ute’s integrated cargo area goes way beyond simply not having to bolt on a rack – being an integral part of the frame means it’s strong. This bike’s got no detectable lateral flex, even loaded with groceries and kids. No having to steer out of side to side way when hauling stuff home, and no trouble at all when standing on the pedals for a little extra power.
The long wheel base and gentle geometry contribute to a very stable ride with no harshness over bumps. Given this I was surprised at how nimble the ride was, slaloming the local playground went great. In fact the Ute handled everything I threw at it with aplomb: steep descents, hard climbs, up and down curbs, (shallow) stairs. Riding the Ute under load’s like driving a volvo station wagon.
Integrated design doesn’t stop with the rack and ride. Low, rounded top tube means you don’t have to tip the bike on it’s side to get your leg over, a huge bonus on a loaded bike. 29 inch wheels and wide Continental tires make for great rolling over any obstacles. Braking design is very intelligent – Hayse mechanical disc brake up front for power where you need it, v-brakes in the back for security. The wide gearing handled getting me back up the steep hills between my grocery store and my house easily. The bike comes equipped with wide, upright handlebars and very nice cork grips which were great for cruising and getting a bit of additional leverage when standing up. An integrated kickstand keeps the bike upright when you’re loading her up.
Carrying capacity is predictably huge. The well designed, large rear deck has cutouts to allow you to bungee odd sized loads down and the cargo area has space for 4 panniers. The bike came with Kona grocery bag style panniers, which were able to swallow just about everything I could put in there: jackets, hats, sweaters, extra helmets, several grocery bags, whatever. Being able to use standard panniers gives you lots of options as well – want water proof? Go for some oyster buckets! Passengers were no trouble at all. A stoker stem and some foot pegs let me haul my 6 year old all over our neighborhood.
My favorite part about the Ute was what it meant for my lifestyle. I was able to take the bike on many trips I wouldn’t have been able to make on a standard bike: Delivering Christmas dinner to some relatives a couple miles away; dropping my kid off at school; groceries and gift shopping were all easy as pie.
One thing to change? Make the bike easier to carry. The integrated rack moves the balance point back behind the seat post, making lifting and maneuvering the bike a bit awkward (especially up stairs to a gate). Adding a utility handle on the rack would help and add a hand-hold for passengers.