Archive for June, 2011

Should You Wear a Helmet While Riding?

My short answer is Yes.

Should there be laws that require it? I don’t know.

Do helmets make you safer? I should hope so. But am not completely convinced.

These questions come to mind because of a post I read at Bicycle Touring Pro this week. Darren was pointing out an article that indicated there is not enough evidence to show that riding with a helmet actually made the rider safer. Beyond the article, there is some good comments from both sides of the argument at the bottom of the blog post.

Someone pointed out an article on Wikipedia where the pros and cons are laid out. It might be worth investing the time to drink a cup of coffee to try and dig through the issue.

I admit that I don’t always wear a helmet, but I always feel like I should be wearing one.

Cycling Gifts for Dad

Next week is Father’s Day. What is on your list of gifts for Dad? As a father and a bike rider, I thought I would share a short list of things that I would love to get for Father’s Day this year. I don’t expect to get all (or even any) of these gifts, but a man can dream. Maybe this list can help serve you as you do some final shopping this week.

Road IDRoadID

The first thing on my list is a new Road ID. The one I have is out of date and the address/phone numbers are no longer valid. I was glad to use the one I had for 2 years, but since then I have moved around in 3 different countries. In the next couple of months I am going to be getting a semi-permanent home base. I look forward to having phone numbers that I can put on my new Road ID.

The idea of the Road ID is that it gives first responders the immediate information they need to identify you and contact your family for further information. There are several styles, colors and features available on the Road ID products. The one I am interested in is the Wrist ID Sport (which is the same as my current one). I will probably get the Original version instead of the Interactive. As a healthy person with no special medical conditions, I would rather have multiple contact phone numbers on my ID as opposed to using the space to tell paramedics to call a phone number just to find out there is nothing wrong with me (other than I got run over by a car 20 minutes ago).

Garmin Edge 500Cycling GPS

Ok, so this is a big one, but it is something I would really like to have some day. Though I have a GPS on my phone, and I always have my phone with me, it stinks as a sports GPS. When I get a phone call it kills the GPS functions. Using the GPS on the phone also drains the battery quicker. Though it has been fine on 2-hour runs before, I really doubt I can go for a 6 hour bike ride and still have the phone available in an emergency. A dedicated GPS like the Garmin Edge 500 is what I would like.

Bike Computer

In place of a full-scale GPS, I would take a nice cycling computer. It would not have to be fancy, but there is one feature I really want on my next computer—a cadence counter. The old computer that I had did not have this feature. It is not that big of a deal for most of my regular riding, but for exercise and training I would like that feature. Mostly I am a bike commuter with hopes of someday doing some training for racing. The cadence counter would be a nice feature.

Panniers

I like my messenger bag, but it would be great to have a set of panniers that I can use for toting stuff around. While I would like a full-featured set for longer bike trips, my main focus right now is something that can easily attach and detach from the bike to carry my computer and the items I need when going back and forth to work or meetings. Something along the lines of this Arkel Messenger Briefcase or the Arkel Commuter

Tools

Every dad would like more tools. A tool kit from Park Tool is a great start. There are a few specialty bike tools that I am missing like cassette and bottom bracket removal tools. Or even something as simple as a chain wear indicator would be a nice present.

Clothes

Jerseys, shorts, shoes and socks are all good gifts. In the southern hemisphere (where I am currently) some full-fingered gloves and a long-sleeved jersey would be a welcomed gift. In the northern hemisphere it is time to break out the shorts and short-sleeved jerseys. I already have a nice pair of Icebreaker cycling socks, but if you are looking for a great gift for your bike riding dad, then these are a good choice no matter which hemisphere you are in.

Those are just some ideas of what I would like. Hopefully it helps you do some shopping as you get ready for Father’s Day, or any gift-giving day in which you can shower your dad with something special for his cycling habit.

Dads: What would you put on your list?

Feel a little frustrated in your ability to ride a bike? This little fellow has the motivation you need to get off the couch and get on your bike.

Helmet Mounted Bike Mirrors

As a kid growing up in the 70s, I remember having my handlebar mounted bike mirrors. They were big and bold. And, frankly, I never thought they worked that well. But we didn’t wear helmets back then so we didn’t have the choice of using a helmet mounted bike mirror like today.

Helmet mounted bicycle mirrors are easy to position and give a great field of view since you can easily turn your head a few degrees without affecting the direction your bike is traveling. Because the mirror is close to the rider’s eye it does not need to be very large to be functional. This means that there is not much weight involved with a helmet mirror.

Helmet Mirror by Third EyeAdvantages:

  • Small and light
  • Always available if wearing your helmet, even if you ride multiple bikes
  • No blind spots
  • Not easily stolen

Disadvantages:

  • Must wear your helmet to have a mirror
  • Distracting
  • Helmet must be well-fitting or the mirror will be out of position
  • Makes tossing your helmet into a sports bag a bit more tricky
  • Can be easily broken off the helmet

If you always ride with your helmet, then you will always have your mirror. This makes it easy to jump on anyone’s bike and still have the comfort of knowing what is behind you. There are no blind spots because it is a simple matter to make a full sweep of what is behind and beside you by slightly turning your head.

There are some who say that wearing a helmet or glasses mounted mirror creates an unnecessary distraction. I can attest this was true the first few times I used a mirror like this, but you quickly get used to it and it becomes a trusted tool instead of a distraction.

The thing I dislike the most about a helmet mounted bicycle mirror is that tossing your helmet into a gym bag, or packing it in anything, becomes awkward. There is the fear of breaking the stem of the mirror (which are designed to break in a crash). Some can be attached with a Velcro© tab making it easy to remove and replace. I have not tried doing that, but my fear with it is that vibrations would be more pronounced. It would certainly be worth trying before permanently attaching your mirror to your helmet.

If you always wear the same helmet when you need a mirror, this is a great option. However, if you switch helmets regularly, then getting a glasses mounted mirror or handlebar mounted mirrors might be a better option.

Professor on a Grandma Bike

Yesterday my family and I went to the park on our bikes. The main reason was to have an excuse to sit around lazily and read a book. Our little girl always wants to play around at the playground and our son likes to take my mountain-bike-turned-commuter for a few fast laps on the 1.4 mile track around the park.

Professor on a Grandma BikeA friend of ours lent us her bike a few weeks ago so that a visiting friend would have something to ride while she was with us. This bike is what we (in Argentina) call an English bike. Someone else told me they call them Dutch bikes. Whatever it is called, there is one thing certain about it—it is very heavy. Once it gets rolling it is hard to stop. Consequently, it is also very comfortable. With its wide tires, upright riding position and solid feel, riding this bike is like driving a luxury car. You may not get there too quickly, but the ride is comfortable.

The weather was beautiful, though a little chilly. I think it got up to 63 degrees (we are on the front edge of winter here). I decided to ditch  the heavy coat and wear a sports coat over my sweater. I felt like a college professor.

Since I rode the grandma bike, our son got a chance to ride my newer, faster bike around the park while my wife and I read our books. Our daughter played away happily. On our way home we all did a lap around the track. Riding the old tank, I wasn’t the fastest one around the track, but I was probably the most comfortable.