A Better Helmet Cam

Pushing helmet camera technology even further is Twenty20, a fellow Seattle-based company. As I noted last year, helmet cams have come a long way since the Late Night Monkey-Cam and I’ve been getting asked lately about how we shoot videos on the bike. I’m actually (and surprisingly) using a Casio Exilim that shoots 30 mins of MPEG4 at 640x480 (available on Amazon.com). For web videos it works really well and steadies the shots with a fast shutter speed.

One drawback to the Casio method is that I’m holding it in one hand and that can get sketch in traffic or with a heavy load on Bettie.



NPR Bikes to Work

Listened to this great story about biking to work from NPR on Sunday.

“We’ve been adding bike lanes, we’ve been adding bike racks,” he said. As for a two-wheeled commute, he added: “You don’t get quite the same feeling in a car.”

Also noticed on Friday this TRAFFIC ALERT: The state Department of Transportation is reporting a three-car accident on northbound I-5 near the Kent-Des Moines Road. The accident is on the right shoulder of the road and the distraction is backing up traffic further then usual this morning.

No backups on the bike path.



Bike Taxi

A bike taxi, presumed from Thailand, outside a store in Pioneer Square in Seattle.

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Bikes & Condos

A frequent site in the South Lake Union district of Seattle. That’s condos being built on both sides of the road with cyclists doing their best to find a way through all the construction.

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Keirin Koh and brakes for track bikes

So I was working a typical Saturday at the shop, splitting my time between wrenching on bikes and handling walk-in retail traffic, when a couple walk in from the ephemeral Seattle sunshine. Upon speaking to them, I learned that they were in the process of moving here from Japan. At first I was slightly embarrassed since I had moments before been practicing Japanese profanity with the shop’s long-suffering Japanese bookkeeper, but either they hadn’t heard me or they politely ignored it. Of course, since I am going to Japan IN TWO WEEKS for a solo bike tour, I’m eager to talk to anyone from Japan. And then came the big surprise…. koh%20annoura.jpg

the guy just retired from a 17 year keirin career. His name is Koh Annoura, and he competed in several UCI world cup events back in the day. Of all the shops to walk into in Seattle, he comes into mine. He was pretty surprised too, since 1) among shop monkeys, I have a special appreciation for keirin racing 2) we have a full custom frame shop in back.

He had this really cool brake adapter for keirin bikes that allowed one to mount high-quality road calipers (in this case Dura Ace 7800) to a keirin frame. I’m talking super-duper lathe or maybe CNC-milled pieces; really cool stuff. We had a short discussion about the cult of keirin bicycles frames being imported from Japan, and about how the fashion is to ride these bikes without brakes. And here was a professional rider before me who was explaining to me how real keirin riders prefer to ride with brakes when not on the velodrome. Take note of this, all you hipsters out there who consider yourself “purists” because you ride a Kavalinka or Nagasawa frame without brakes around town. And lest you think that the keirin professionals are pansies for using brakes, you should see how these guys race. I’ve seen how gnarly a Japanese keirin race can be with my own eyes.

Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures to show of the brake adapters, since Annoura-san set the bag down outside while chasing after their younger son. Wooosh!…..someone walked off with them. That sucks!

Stunning misfortune aside, it was great to talk to Koh. He and his wife were going to give me some phone numbers to other keirin racers in the Roppongi neighborhood of Tokyo, where I’ll be staying the first week of my Japan trip.



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