This is a topic that comes up a lot in online cycling forums and always seems to garner a rather polarized response - and I don’t get why. With the advent of new compact, high-wattage lighting systems cycling commuters have become either the haves or the have-nots. I’m a have-not by choice. I have a Light and Motion Vega light that only puts out 85 lumens. I can see fine with it on low power on the trail(1), reserve the high setting for rainy nights(2), and the flashing mode only when on city streets(3). The whole point of the light is for safety, and I outline my usage to maximize for each of these conditions below.
Trail use - this is where I hate the “me-first” Haves. They use their 700 lumen High Intensity Discharge (HID) light in conditions that do not warrant it. As the commuter density reduces, this is less of any issue, especially if the Haves use common courtesy and occlude their light with a hand over the bulb. My preferred usage here is to shield the left side of the light (right in UK/Aus) so that it doesn’t shine in the eyes of the oncoming rider. You still get to see with the rest of the light generated by your light, without blinding your commuting brethren. The worst offenders are the guys with helmet mounted lights that say hi to you as they pass and stare you in the face. Good luck people might as well ask me to ride while staring directly at the sun. Cover your light. Use a dim setting. Be considerate of others PLEASE.
Rain is tough. Seeing through fogged glasses, rainy conditions, and wet pavement can be a challenge. On those nights I skip the trail and go for a less-traveled road. You need the higher setting to pick your way through all the optical noise, but running a high setting can be brutal to the others who then have to add your bright beam to the mix of challenges.
City riding is the only use for a strobe flasher. It is intended to get the attention of drivers and is not to see by. You don’t need to get the attention of other cyclists on the trail, so turn off your damn flasher when on a trail. The only thing more blinding than a HID light is a flashing HID.
So please Haves - a little courtesy. It takes no effort to shield your light. There are plenty of Have-nots out there riding with 10 lumen lights with every right you have to the road/trail.
Oh - and for gods sake. Do NOT put a red blinker on your front. Red is for the rear, white for the front.
Here’s a pre-race write up of the West Hill Shop Cyclocross Race in Putney Vermont. It’s a great taste of Cyclocross on the other coast. It sounds like the fall in VT has been a bit more autumnal than what we’ve been having here in Seattle this year, wood stoves and cider are par for the course. What I like most about the HUP write-up is the focus on the locals. It seems like great spectators is a universal feature of cx races no matter how unique the locals are.
The race was actually last weekend, but here are the results, some photos, and video of this years race just went up a few days ago.
You’re cordially invited to our next Ride Civil ride (formerly Critical Man-nerds) this coming Friday the 23rd. Meet at Westlake Center, 5:30 pm.
All Ride Civil rides will focus on getting cyclists out on the streets, driving awareness of cyclists and cycling rights, having fun, and encouraging civil behavior between cyclists, motorists and pedistrians. This is your chance to come out and show Seattle traffic cyclists are here to stay and that we can share the roads with them without conflicts.
It’ll also be a great chance to get out and be social with other cyclists, maybe burn off a bit of that thanksgiving weight or haul back your Black Friday loot. So please bring your selves, your bike (cargo or otherwise), and your sense of humor and fun down to Westlake Center at 5:30 PM. We’ll go bike bus style – 2 abreast, social speed, no one left behind.
There’s another cargo bike focused ride earlier in the day for those who can’t make the later time.
p.s. We’re not stopping for any shopping, so get yours out of the way early, eh? See you there!
We worked with men.style.com, the online home of Details & GQ, on the City Bike section of their Upgrader. The Upgrader is the “latest and greatest in cars, clothes, watches, whiskies, and all the other important issues confronting today’s man,” including bikes.
… a bike that was 7 years ahead of its time and led to the urban bikes we ride today. Refined over those seven years, the Milano, is “a cafe racer.” Still a top seller and finally getting the respect it deserves. It’s good for mostly everything you’d want an urban bike to do. Being the pure heart and soul of urban cycling, the bike offers no frills, excess, or fashion, and Nexus.
Also good to see the Novara Transfer getting due props. That’s a bike you can start commuting on today and not stop. Check how it’s spec’d and you’ll realize it was built for and by commuters.
For those of you not sure what to expect from a cyclocross race, here’s an older introductory article on what you’ll be in for. One of the benefits of cyclocross races for spectators is that the courses are usually quite compact, so you can see almost all of the action without having to shuttle around the course.
Check this video for a sampling of what the bike industry rides. From the high to the low end, cruisers, a tall bike, and BMX was all in the bike check room during Interbike. Many considered that room the *other bike show.”
Shop bikes are usually some unique combination built from the back room, found in a parts bin, with an old frame, solid wheels, and various gadgets. For a time, I didn’t ride a bike that wasn’t equipped with at least one Sun Tour part.
So what do you ride? How do you roll? What’s the favorite bike you’ve built up?
During Interbike earlier this year, we spent a morning riding the strip, the bike expressway, and hearing from a local and a RTC employee about cycling in Vegas.
The road featured in the video is one of the calmest in America. It’s engineered to slow cars down and accommodate cyclists. I think they pipe in the sounds of songbirds, but couldn’t confirm it. If you do ride the strip, take up a whole lane like we did to let the cabbies know you’re there.
As I wrote earlier, “It’s surprising, yes, but Vegas is a bike-friendly town.”
I was watching the Amazing Race tonight and saw 2 segments in Holland being hugger-focused! They had to find city bikes, and ride them 5 miles. Then they had to put one person in the front of a Bakfiets and roll to the finish. Now everybody in the states is going to want one.
Byron will tell you that I NEED to have matched wheels. It’s a bit of an obsession, but I can’t help it. Anyway - I’ve been shopping for a good internal geared hub to run on my SS Cross bike. I’ve got black hubs - so I need black Internal gear setup. The only one I know of is the much sought-after, but non-US available Shimano Alfine group. I’ve found the disc compliant model (I don’t need disc) in some obscure German site - Alfine Hub in Black. With the weak dollar and that fact that my German sucks if something were to go wrong with the order - is it worth it? Anybody else got a lead?
Spatial relationships and analysis are important when packing a travel bike (at least to me they are). Where Pam spent about a 1/2 hour packing her bike, I spent about 2.5 hours making sure everything lined up, the space was used to its potential, and the package would arrive safe and intact.
Both bikes did arrived safely and with no damage. However my packed items shifted all over the place and Pam’s was in pristine condition. I’m now deconstructing what possibly went wrong with my pack and she’ll just pack like whatever next time. I explained to Pam that it was a guy thing to do the perfect pack and I had to get it right.
Notes on the packing
No worries with titanium and no paint
TSA did not open either case
That’s coffee in the upper right corner and Senor Muggy in the bottom right
There’s only one way to pack the Modal because of the extra wide chainstays that accommodate the dropouts
Scratches are part of it. I think of them now as a patina.
I think my pack went wrong because I put too much stuff in there. I was trying to get it right to 50 pounds with my clothes, shoes, and schwag we got from the event we attended.
The netting serves no purpose other than to thwart the TSA from poking around in the case. The thinking is that they’ll just glance at it, if at all, and move on to the next piece of luggage. It seems to have worked.
The 12” edge-pull case is well made, tough, and durable. For short trips across an airport, it’s ok, but the weight at that angle on your skinny-cyclists arms can get very tedious for a longer haul across terminals. I’d like to have a 4-caster option with a pull tether so I could pull it around an airport on the casters instead of dragging it behind me or pushing it. The Dahon Airporter case has the same problem with 2 rollerblade wheels.
One caution: the caster fits right into the gap between the elevator car and the floor at Seatac. I pulled the case towards me sideways out of the elevator, the caster was trapped in that space, and nearly ripped right out of the case.
I caught it in time and it now has a nice travel bend to it. I decided a slightly bent caster was like a nice scratch. It all adds to the travel patina noted above.