Saturday, June 29, 2013

Am I Crazy?

I have long professed my predilection for being a solo rider, an intentional loner, if you will. I'm not really into a bike club or lbs social scene... I value the solitude offered by the bicycle very highly: it is my zen time, not to be impinged upon by the ramblings (or space taking uppings) of others. I find it calming even when riding in full downtown street mode.
Here in London Ontario a local cycling advocacy group has gotten some press and God help me, I've asked to be involved. Here's the email I sent:
I am year-round bicycle commuter here in London who up until now has had no involvement in cycling advocacy. Your recent media attention has peaked my interest in your group and made me think about joining in the discussion.
I would like to know more about your group, and may be in a position to forward the cause (in a small way) online.
Patrick "Rantwick" Cormier

This isn't like me at all. If they get back to me, I'll have to, like, meet some new people! What have I done? Plus, in pasting my email, I have noticed a grammatical error! "I am year-round bicycle commuter"? They're bound to hate me from the start!
Seriously though, this is different from participating in group rides and stuff like that... unless they're into CM and shit, which I have no interest in. I think it likely that if they get back to me, they won't force me to ride with others.
As much as I want to just ride my bike, I'm feeling like I want to add my voice (and opinions) to the discussions of what London needs to promote cycling. I have read some stuff that makes this group seem like typical bike lane proponents; that isn't bad so long as it's not all about the paint. Even if it is, maybe I can add a voice that helps reduce poorly planned paint! I love bike lanes, really, when they make sense and are safely designed.
Caring about stuff sucks. I mean, when you start caring about stuff, it makes you start doing stuff. This is bad news for a person who is lazy by nature. Damn. Am I crazy?

Yer Doomed to Do More Stuff Pal,

PS - Under my new rules, "uppings" (see first para) is a real word.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Baggy (MTB) Bike Shorts Review - Pearl Izumi Canyon vs. Zoic Black Market

Opening note: I bought these shorts with my own money; they were not provided to me by their makers nor do I have any financial arrangements with them, so rest assured this is an unbiased review.
Over the past year or so I've developed a desire to look a little more normal (less spandexy) both on the bike and when I stop somewhere like a bar patio or a grocery store. The click-clack of bike shoes is bad enough without showing off my awesome butt, y'know? I don't have lots of spare cash sloshing around, despite what my highborn-grey pallor may have led you to believe, so I went on Amazon and started looking for reasonably priced baggy bike shorts that still offered me the comfort of a chamois liner.
The two shorts I decided to try were the "Pearl Izumi Canyon" and the "Zoic Black Market with RPL liner", largely because they weren't expensive compared to many others. When I bought them, the Zoic was $54 and the Pearl Izumis were $47. I see that right now the prices (at least on Amazon) aren't as good. I got lucky, I guess...


Pearl Izumi Canyon      Zoic Black Market

The Amazon links above have better pictures of the features of these shorts.  I also happened to buy them in the same colours.

A note on sizing: I am 5'10" (11 on a tall day), over 200 lbs and have a 36" waist. Based on what other purchasers had written, I bought in size L for the Izumis and XL in the Zoics. Both pairs fit me well. I had better not gain any weight if I want keep wearing the Izumis, but that is cool with me; it's not really my plan to gain any more.
Both of these shorts included an outer pair of "normal" looking shorts and a liner with chamois that attached to them with loops and "snap straps"; short bits of fabric with snaps on the end that attached to elastic loops sewn onto the liners. With both pairs, these attaching bits were way more trouble than they were worth. I stopped trying to use them right away, opting to just wear the liners unattached to the shorts.
In both cases the shorts were cut for cycling, with a little stretchiness and a shortish inseam than kept them from getting snagged on the nose of the bike saddle and stuff like that. On the bike, the Pearl Izumis and the Zoic both sat nicely on my legs and didn't balloon out catching wind or anything like that. The Zoics were shorter and rode a little higher, threatening to but never revealing the edge of the liner, while the Izumis were a little longer and hugged my legs a little more, without ever threatening to reveal my chamois little secret.

The Baggy Parts:
Both pairs of shorts featured a smallish pocket behind the right knee. When I first used that pocket for a set of keys or a cell phone, it felt totally annoying while standing and I wondered what the hell the makers were thinking. On the bike however, I figured out that the little pocket was perfect, tucking a little something under your leg in the least annoying spot for pedaling.
The Zoic shorts closed at the waist with a velcro tab and included a snazzy black belt that closed with a plastic snap buckle. Although I thought the belt kind of lame at first, it did end up helping control things at my waistline, since the shorts had an elasticized back. Around the waist, the Zoic shorts felt a little sloppier than the Izumis, which had a snap at the waist and adjusters inside the waistband like you might find in children's clothes, which seemed pretty smart to me.
The Zoic shorts felt heavier and warmer, mostly because they had both zippered and regular pockets all over the place, which was great when off the bike but added layers of fabric. The Izumis, however, had just one small pocket, behind the knee as mentioned previously, and felt more natural/purpose built while riding. Trouble was, once off the bike there weren't any useful pockets for carrying your stuff!

The Chamois/Liner Parts:

I am a little reluctant to review any chamois, since I can't imagine a more personal kind of choice; what one person likes another may hate. That said, I should really say something, so here goes:

The liners for both pairs of shorts were not like "real" compression style bike shorts, but like slightly snug stretchy boxers with a chamois sewn in. The "RPL liner" provided by the Zoic shorts let me down in the chamois department. The chamois was almost too substantial and didn't conform to my body very well, seeming to want to keep its own shape rather than be flexible. This made it feel kind of diaper-ish and like the back edge of the chamois was visible under the outer shorts (and it was, a little) when standing around off the bike.

The Izumi liner, on the other hand, was really good and felt comfortable both on and off the bike. I've never really liked sitting around in bike shorts for too long, but if it was required I would want to do it with this chamois. My only problem with the Pearl Izsumi chamois is that they market it as a "3D" chamois and have "3D" texture-printed (is that a thing?) on it. I have gone on rants about 3D and marketing before. This chamois is definitely less flat with clearly defined zones or pads or whatever with deepish channels between them, making it more "3D" than many others, so I can almost see the rationale. HOWEVER: The expression "3D" and anything crotchally related should just not happen. That is all. Let's move on.

Summary: The Zoic Black Market shorts are more useful off the bike with many more pockets. The liner, however, was disappointing compared to the Pearl Izumi's. I often wear the shorts now with the Izumi liner or a pair of good old spandex bike shorts underneath. The Pearl Izumi Canyon shorts really perform well on the bike, being a little longer and little cooler and also feature really good liner and chamois. However, the lack of any usable off-bike pockets makes them less flexible on those rides where you're stopping someplace for a while.

Verdict: I like both pairs and wear them both all the time. The proof is in the choosing, though. If both these pairs are clean I reach for the Pearl Izumi Canyon shorts  9 times out of 10, preferring on-bike performance over off-bike practicality.

These are the first and only pairs of baggy cycling shorts I have ever owned. Despite being slightly warmer in hot weather, I am pleased to have made the change from sporting the full-on tight spandex because I feel more comfortable with my day-to-day appearance. Have any of you got a recommend for a pair of baggies that have been really great? Let me know in the comments and I'll post links to 'em! 
Yer Less Spandexy Pal,

PS - Steve A commented that he likes the REI ones except that he finds the front pockets a little small compared to real cargo shorts. Here are some links: 

Velocodger commented too and seems to really like his Dakine shorts and liners (I think the shorts include a liner with chamois, but linked to both):

Friday, June 21, 2013

Just for the Record, I am 44 and my name isn't Wayne.

There was some local London Ontario news I meant to share 2 months ago but only remembered today. Among multi use path people, groups of joggers really slow cyclists down. Especially when you have to literally run them over. All that annoying bumping, you know...
From a local CTV article:
A 65-year-old London man is facing a number of charges after a woman who was running on a trail was struck from behind by a cyclist and then run over, causing serious injuries.
Wayne Morrison has been charged with assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, mischief and common nuisance in the incident.
London police say the woman was running on a Thames Valley trail in December 2012 when Morrison allegedly rode directly into her back, causing her to fall to the ground and then rode over her.
The 37-year-old woman suffered a concussion, broken ribs, a pulled neck and severe bruising on her face including two black eyes. The incident appears to just be the latest in a string disruptive behaviour involving a cyclist and area runners.
When I'm riding the paths, groups of runners present some of the biggest slowdowns and I find it a little vexing when I have to deal with lots of them, as I'm sure they do when it comes to lots of bicycles. The path is meant to be shared and they have every bit as much right to the path as I do.
In addition, groups of runners (and individuals too) are among very few users who seem to get the whole "on your left" idea. Although they often spread out across the whole path, when I announce "bike on your left" they very reliably spread the word amongst themselves and move over.
Even then, I never blow by a group like that because it just isn't safe. Instead I pass at fairly low speed. We often share a few thank you's and a wave and sometimes even a "have a good run" or "have a good ride". I really like that part, because in most day-to-day travel, that kind of civility and goodwill NEVER happens. It happens with joggers and me. I like joggers.

My name is Patrick Cormier. I am 44 years old. I do not own a black leotard, although at 200+ lbs and 5'10", I bet I would look awesome in one.

Yer Free of Pending Charges Pal,

Schadenfreude and a Deep Sigh

No video or pics or anything on this post. The events I am about to describe happened while the camera was running, but in reviewing the video I was once again wishing it had the nearly instant zoom and focus of the human eye, because what the video showed, even with software zoom efforts, was not capable of mirroring what I saw at all. I just deleted it.
Schadenfreude: While riding to work recently I saw a young man (on his way to school, likely) riding down the sidewalk and texting as we approached a 4 way stop. Oblivious at first to the pickup truck that had spotted him and stopped in the middle of the intersection so as not to run him down, the boy eventually woke up and awkwardly braked while descending off the sidewalk. The braking and the bump dislodged his phone from his grasp and it fell to the pavement and scattered into three distinct pieces (phone body, cover and battery) like many of us have experienced one time or another. While I hoped his phone wasn't totally busted, I felt a happiness unbecoming a grown man. Schadenfreude.
Deep Sigh: On my way home today while sitting at a light I spotted a cyclist in the right hand lane of a 4 lane, two way street, confidently signaling their desire to move left, into the centre lane. I was happy. Upon reaching the intersection, they proceeded to turn right.
Funny thing, I heard myself laugh when I reviewed the video. It was funny. Except when I thought about it later. How does that cyclist signal a left, I wonder? If it is with a right hand turn signal, they are quite likely to get hurt or worse pretty soon.
In addition, when stuff like this happens, it makes me wonder what the motorists around me think when I signal. Do they just wait to see what I do and then feel relief that it matched what I indicated? I like to think that motorists might appreciate the difference in appearance between a hardcore commuter like me and other bike riders and trust my signals accordingly, but that is completely unrealistic considering some of the stuff I've seen some well-equipped commuters do. Deep Sigh.
Well, it has been my pleasure to bum you out on Friday morning... in case I haven't, please remember that things only get worse and hopelessness is obviously the only reasonable course of action.
Or not! It's almost the weekend! Woohoo!

PS - When I spell checked this post "texting" was highlighted. Good to know blogger is using the Queen's English and not some kooky modern day dictionary full of words used by, like, people.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Things People Say Fridays #12: A Startlingly Common Question

I've generally stopped keeping video of people saying, "Is that a helmet cam?", because it happens once a week or so and is no longer novel to me. This one was a little bit more memorable than most others because it startled me and was just a little funnier somehow, so I kept it to show to you now.


Have super weekends everybody!
Yer Pal,

Sunday, June 9, 2013

And to my Right...

People look at the camera on top of my head and have varying reactions, a few of which are captured in this post.

There's the "Camera! Woot woot, camera, look at me!" types:

There's the "huh, that's cool" or perhaps benevolent "hey look at that weirdo" types:

But my favourites are the somewhat perplexed types. Is that a light? A camera? Wah?

The lady pictured above had a big perplexed smile on her face that was clearer than the photo shows, and her head did the classic cock-to-one-side thing as I got closer, like this:

OK, maybe her head didn't fall off. Or maybe, just maybe, it did! It was still tilting when I passed her and then she was out of visual range. I didn't hear anything on the news about a mysteriously headless woman or anything, but you never know! Hey lady, if you're reading this, yep, it was a camera. Hope yer head stayed on.

Remember, a stranger is a just a friend you haven't met! Or a totally dangerous psycho. One of those. I'm gonna stick all three of these strangers in the friend category, 'cause I am an optimist who believes most people are good. Or dangerous psychos.


Come back soon, ya psycho!

PS - It's nothing personal. I assume all who come to this site and read to the end of any post is a psycho. But not dangerous. I hope. Signing off from my easily found home in Austin, Texas (just look for the 30' turkey statue in the centre of my front yard fountain), be good 'till next time. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Simple, Right?

Just a little video showing what I think is a no-brainer when it comes to bike lanes and right turning cars. Riding around town I often see cyclists and cars respecting that painted line way too much, to the detriment of both.

Comments welcome as always!

Yer Pal,