10December2009

Shoe cover options

Posted by todd under: Footwear; Raingear; Shoe covers.

I have used Burley shoe covers for several years. Shoe covers are a must for bike commuting in my opinion — they let you ride in your everyday shoes, and their convenience more than makes up for the initial cost. (This from a guy who used to wear plastic shopping bags to keep his shoes dry. This does work — usually — but it’s ugly and unreliable.)

My Burley shoe covers are now starting to wear out — I repaired both with duct tape this week — and unfortunately the company does not make them any more. I am starting to look for other options. Here are two:

Showers Pass. makes a cover similar to Burley’s. I can’t vouch for them, having never used them, but here’s someone else’s review.

J&G also makes a waterproof shoe cover. Theirs is a little cheaper, and comes in more sizes.

1 

16January2009

I love my neighbors

Posted by todd under: Cold weather riding.

So yesterday it was cold, for Kentucky — down around zero — and my neighbor Kay started to worry about me.

31Kay and Stanley are our good friends from down the street. Kay reads to my daughter Mary twice a week. Are you going to ride in this weather, she asked yesterday.

Sure, I said. You just have to dress for it.

Around 7 last night, Guinever called. Stanley was wanting to come and pick me up from work. What? I said. Yes — Stanley was going to come down to where I work, at midnight, to pick me up so I wouldn’t have to ride my bike home.

No, I said, Stanley’s not going to do that, but please thank them profusely for their kindness.

This is when you know people love you, when they are willing to go out in the cold late at night, probably past bedtime, in the interest of saving you from the elements. God bless Kay and Stanley!

(We have it easy down here. My Iowa buddy Nunemaker is freezing his heinie off in Iowa, where the high was minus 4 yesterday.)

6 

19December2008

More on reflective vests

Posted by todd under: Safety gear.

Here’s more from Jason Nunemaker on the Carhartt reflective vest (I passed Jason’s recommendation along yesterday — thanks Jason! BTW — Jason writes some funny stuff, and he has lots of good cycling tips):

Hi, Todd — here’s more on the vest, straight from the horse’s… well, let’s just say “mouth.” :-)

Apparently, ANSI ranks this sort of reflective stuff by classes. My vest (shown) is a Class 2. Even better is a Class 3, which (as far as I can tell) needs sleeves so it can offer more side visibility. G&L offers a Class 3 on their Web site, but it wasn’t in stock at the store. I like this one better because of the orange contrasting — it really seems to make the reflective pop off the already annoyingly bright yellow.

The one question mark for me is breathability — my night riding is usually the result of short (and cold!) winter days around here, so I can’t say how this will perform when the temps rise. There are mesh versions of similar vests that might be better in the summer.

4 

19December2008

Woah!

Posted by todd under: Uncategorized.

crazy-bike

Background:

Juan “Down” Martinez is on his way to becoming an influential figure in Latin hip hop. The 26-year-old rapper from Oxnard, California, started rapping at age 13 after listening to Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A. – and he spits with a style eerily similar to that of Eazy-E. The self-proclaimed “Brown Super Hero” proudly wears his Mexican heritage on his sleeve, flowing over corridos, mariachi music, soul and Chicano funk.

In addition, Mr. “Down” apparently commutes to the studio on his … well, what is that, exactly? And how does he keep the Mexican heritage on his sleeve from getting caught in the spokes?

1 

19December2008

Riding in Crocs, serious mileage edition

Posted by todd under: Footwear.

Greg Doggett checks in with a great comment on my post about riding in Crocs:

From May to Sept. I commuted 16 to 21 miles one way 3 days a week on Crocs Caymens with Rivendell Grip King pedals. I did two bike camper weekends with 50 miles a day and the same combo. It’s winter here in Va. and I’ve switched to Samba Classics….but when warm weather returns I’ll be back in the Crocs!!!! Awesome cycling shoe and only 7.8 oz. in size 13!!!

Greg, man, that’s some serious riding and a great testimony to the utter lack of need, in most cases (especially if you’re not racing, which most of us aren’t), for special “cycling shoes.”

2 

18December2008

Be seen on the road: Here’s a great reflective vest

Posted by todd under: Riding at night; Safety gear.

carhartt-vestJason Nunemaker over at The Cycle offers a great tip on a reflective vest he’s wearing for commuting. It looks like this thing takes “high visibility” to new heights.

I wear the 3-Flow Performance Series jacket during the winter; it’s plenty reflective, and I’m satisfied with it. (It’s also waterproof, and it breathes pretty well — although when it’s warmer than 65 degrees or so, I switch to a lighter jacket.)

Anyway, Jason’s recommending a Carhartt vest designed for construction workers. Check it out on Carhartt’s site; Jason got his here. From a brief scan, it looks like the vest is retailing for around $35.

1 

17December2008

This site, abridged

Posted by todd under: Recommended reading.

wordle
Image courtesy of http://www.wordle.net/.

0 

16December2008

What a bicycle means

Posted by todd under: Crashes; Philosophy; Riding.

I rode my bike home from work last night in a rain storm that was turning into an ice storm, despite dire warnings from the TV weathermen.

(Lexington TV weathermen treat snowstorms, high winds, patches of ice, rain, heat, cold and frost as mortal threats to the public well-being. If I governed my life by their forecasts I would spend most of September through March locked in my room, likely hiding under the bed.)

It wasn’t dangerous out there, or even particularly unpleasant — and this very possibly will have been one of the worst nights of the year to ride.

Toward the end of my 3-mile trip, the wind was in my face, there was a little ice in the wind and the going got a little tough. At such a time one might ask himself, “Self, why do this?”

“Self,” I would reply, “Here’s why: Freedom.”

The other day I was buying a toilet, of all things. The proprietor (Day’s Plumbing, the best plumbing store ever) mentioned water conservation as a reason for the purchase. He had noticed my bike and asked me: “You’re green, aren’t you?”

No, I’m not green.

I don’t ride a bike to work every day because I buy all that nonsense about carbon footprints. I don’t think global warming is man-made, and I think Al Gore is a glutenous gasbag.

Thanks to the green movement, there is a certain tight-lipped puritanism and a cloud of fake morality about bicycle commuting these days.

I ride a bike because it’s fun (more about that later) but mainly because it saves money. Lots of it.

Saving money means saving time. Time saved means freedom — freedom to spend more time with my family, to work on church stuff, to remodel the garage, to write on here a little.

If I weren’t riding my bike, my family would need a second car. That means either a car payment (we don’t have one now) or shelling out $5,000 or so for something dependable.

There would be, what, 50 bucks a month or so for insurance.

That second car would need gas, oil changes and tires. It would need to be washed and vacuumed now and then.

That’s a lot of money, which means a lot of time, because it takes time to earn the money.

There are less tangible savings as well.

Since our driveway runs through our back yard, there would be another car parked out there — less room for the kids to play.

Then there’s the fact that I don’t have a gym membership. Without bike riding,  I would need to get one, find time for another form of exercise (there’s that time angle again!), or go to seed (more than I am now).

You can get a fantastic commuting bike and all the gear you would need for $2,000 or less — much less, if you get a good used bike. That’s it for your costs, until you need a new tire ($20) or a tuneup once a year or so (around $50) — although I recommend you buy a few tools and learn how to do the tuneups yourself.

For less than $2,000 you could very well be getting freedom from a second car. That’s significant. You might also be gaining freedom from gaining weight. That’s significant also. It’s expensive to buy new clothes every 6 months to a year, as your waistline expands.

I consider the fun of cycling to be a bonus (since I would probably be doing it anyway). I love it, plain and simple. It’s a great stress-reliever. I like the self-sufficiency. I like the wind and sun on my face. I like having to pay attention to the weather and figuring out what to wear.

I realize not everyone lives within biking distance, and that biking might or might not be practical for most people.

That’s fine with me. Drive a Nissan Armada, if you want. Drive it two blocks each way. More power to you. (I’m not “green,” remember?)

If you ARE thinking about cycle commuting, or if you’re trying to remember why you are doing it, forget about the environmentalist noise. Fake morality keeps most people going for maybe a week.

From years of personal experience, I can tell you: Lasting motivation comes from remembering that cycling means freedom. And fun.

8 

15December2008

Over the bars, Part 3: Utter stupidity

Posted by todd under: Crashes; Raleigh Super Course.

I will ride in any kind of weather, but I will not ride on ice, I tell people.

On this night, I remembered why. Thank God my leg was not broken, so I could kick myself.

About two weeks ago, I rode in through the rain (nothing unusual). The temperature dropped while I was at work.

On the way home, I took it pretty easy. Upon discovering that it wasn’t *that* slick, I started to pick up the pace a little. (I was riding the Raleigh Super Course with Wald bars on it — a nice setup — I like to push it a little, when I get the chance.)

Alongside Commonwealth Stadium, approaching Alumni Drive, there’s an asphalt walking path. It’s smooth, and it declines slightly — a perfect place to accelerate. Out of habit, that’s what I did.

I noticed, as I approached the intersection, that a car was coming and that I would not beat it across the street. I barely touched the front brakes. Then I realized about four things in the same two seconds:

— The tire was skidding.

— I was not slowing down.

— The front wheel was turning.

— I was about to make intimate contact with the pavement.

The wheel slid such that it was at about a 90 degree angle to the frame, and over the bars I went. Well, almost all the way over the bars — I sort of got hung up on the bars, and landed on my right side.

I got up and rode home none the worse for wear. Again, it could have been much worse. It’s easy to sprain or break a wrist, or break an arm, in this type of a wreck.

What did I do wrong? I didn’t follow my own advice — go slowly when there’s a chance of ice.

When I did figure out I was on ice (which was before I braked, by the way), I should have guided the bike onto the grass before stopping.

But no … someday I will learn …

1 

11December2008

Source for Burley shoe covers

Posted by todd under: Burley shoe covers; Footwear; Raingear.

UPDATED Dec. 10, 2009: These covers are no longer available from this seller, and I can’t find another source for them. I did find a similar looking cover from Showers Pass. I can’t vouch for them, having never used them, but here’s someone else’s review.

J&G also makes a waterproof shoe cover. Theirs is a little cheaper, and comes in more sizes.

————-

Hey, this is nice news. I’ve told you how much I love my Burley shoe covers — they are still keeping out rain after a couple of years of everyday-commuting use.

I have looked online for these shoe covers a couple of times and have found only odd sizes. So this is good news, from Go Bent Bikes:

“I was browsing the net to list our shoe covers on ebay. and i came across your site! Just wanted to let you know that WE still have Burley Shoe Covers! =D ( M, L, XL, XXL)”

I can’t vouch for the seller, but I CAN vouch for the shoe covers!

If there are more good sources out there for this great product, please let me know and I will pass them along.

0 

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About the picture atop the page

Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.

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Art for art’s sake

I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!

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