Ride For A Cause Without Changing A Thing

Thanks to the SXSW serendipity-distortion-field I found myself chatting in the lobby of the Hilton with the developer of an app called Charity Miles. Here’s the elevator pitch, which is really all you need: you launch the app when you’re going to walk, run or bike and pick from a list of charities. You earn $.25 a mile walking or $.10 a mile cycling. There’s nothing more intrusive than an ad behind the pedometer/bike mileage meter and when you’re done working out you find out how much you earned for a charity. Just testing it walking around Austin a bit I earned 1.5 vaccinations for puppies or kittens with the ASPCA.

Here is a quick link to the app for iOS and for Android. Charity Miles

There’s an initial pool of $1,000,000 from sponsors funding this charitable giving. We talked a lot about the gamification of health tools—Strava and MapMyRide being early examples—during SXSW and how the next step is for these tools to empower better health for the user or better conditions for society. Charity Miles is the first such app we’ve seen that takes the act of collecting exercise metrics to the next level.

Chadder Box

I figured everybody else was getting sick, I might as well join the fun. And while I’m convalescing, a friend put me on to hip hop artist Chad Nikoz making music as Chadder Box (formerly as Mister Nik). My friend explained that he’d been a messenger at the same time as Nikoz years ago in Seattle, and Nikoz has been involved with the local racing scene from long ago. You can find a ton of tracks on SoundCloud. References to cycling are scattered through a number of the songs, but that isn’t going to be why you’ll listen to his music.

Listen to Wyrd. It’s a mellow, smooth trip hop track with a Miles Davis trumpet. Also check out Alligator. Really good stuff, and so professional it could be ready for prime time.

Chadder Box

Southby Moments

Terns in town

Riding around rain or shine on Terns

A fleet of bikes, riding around Austin, speaking about tech and photography sure, but it’s the Southby moments that make the SXSW event experience. Like this guitar player with a twangy Tiny Tim voice serenading two hipsters taking pictures of each other at a food truck lot.

Cowboy singer serenades photo-taking hipsters

Cowboys and Hipsters

Or Chris Distafino being in the moment at Mellow Johnnys after sharing a bit of industry gossip


Chris multitasks like a boss

And a well-dressed Asian women riding a Tern on a Powertap trainer in front of a video wall in our space with Nokia.

Having fun

Booth space fun

It was Terns and tacos for us yesterday, riding quickly to and fro in the rain. Today is the Mobile Social and we’re watching the weather.


Mmmm, tacos

We’re shooting at both sides of the dial while here with Lumias and new full-frame Sonys. Uploading as time allows to G+ with more stories to follow.

Mark V’s first repair trick: The Pepsi Tyre Boot

Making a tyre boot

Twenty years ago I purchased my first road bike. It was a 1994 Specialized Allez. Now about that time, the bike industry had hit the zenith of its torrid love affair with gaudy colours (true, logos had yet to grow to the gargantuan sizes seen on today’s moulded carbon frames, which depending on the weather conditions, can be seen from low earth orbit ). The whole “purple anodize” craze had died down somewhat, but manufacturers en mass decided to spice up tyre products with colours. Black was too boring, too 1989. So that Allez came with grey treads, the Specialized Turbo Team in Umma Gumma Grey. Twenty years later, I still remember those tyres….remember them as the shittiest tyre I rode. You see, tyres are black for a reason: carbon black is used as a filler, which gives the vulcanized rubber toughness and UV/chemical stability. Without carbon black, those tyres might grip well, but they wore away super fast. And they punctured like no one’s business. As my introduction to road cycling, I didn’t know better tyres existed. I thought all road cyclists just learned to deal with multiple flats per ride. With the amount of practice I was accumulating, I learned to fix flats right quick.

The casing ripped rather easy too. As a poor yet moderately clever university student, I devised a way to make cheap and lasting tyre boots. Step one: get an empty, plastic soft drink bottle. Even back then, I had an insane cola addiction, so there was never a shortage of raw materials. Step two: cut a small oval of the plastic, about 15x10mm. Step three: apply a piece of duct tape to the concave side of the plastic. The duct tape should have a 8-10mm border around the plastic. Step four: make a few more of these and then stick them to a bigger square of the cola bottle plastic. Keep this square in your on-road repair kit, and peal off the tyre boots as you need them. These work better than a dollar bill or energy bar wrapper because the plastic is better at resisting bulging through the hole in the tyre casing, even at the high pressures of skinny road tyres. Also, the tape will keep the boot from dislodging, so it’s a semi-permanent fix.

I devised this trick out of necessity, because those Umma Gumma tyres tore for any random reason. With today’s tyres that use better, non-carbon fillers (silica) and better casings, I don’t bother carrying a card of my ready-to-apply tyre boots with me except on longer tours, but I often use these boots whenever a customer has a largish hole in an otherwise still-good tyre.

Making a tyre boot

Making a tyre boot

The Best of Austin isn’t At SXSW

One of the wonderful things about bikes is that having one can unlock treasures. Take SXSW for example, where the world’s geek-elite class converge to network and connect. The Austin Convention Center is buzzing with activity and with passion and the energy of start-ups and established companies striking deals. .

Just a few blocks away though you can find equally rewarding experiences, though without the stock option possibilities of a good conference.

Today I’m tooling around on a loaner Tern, part of our loaner fleet at SXSW and I’m checking out the local coffee scene.


Austin, which just a half-decade ago had just a fledgling scene is now full of coffee places and roasters. I started my day single origin espresso with Stumptown at Juan Palota, stopped in mid-ride for an iced espresso at Jo’s and now am relaxing at the hand-hewn wood bars at Houndstooth on 4th and Congress.

As someone in the coffee business I’m particularly impressed with the setup at Houndstooth. Their espresso machine was designed by Kees Van Der Western and is a thing of beauty. It’s also worth more than any of the cars parked outside.

As a veteran trade show attendee, possibly the best advice I can give is to take your time in a city and absorbing the local culture. You’ll end up being rewarded in ways that will surprise you.

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