Showing posts with label bicycle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bicycle. Show all posts

Monday, February 4, 2013

Encounters with Rantwick, episode Twenty Two: Taxi Driving Trash

The video says it all...

I can't recall ever having a problem with a taxi cab on the road. I also know a few people who drive (or drove) cab and they are all good people, so if you came here expecting me to say mean things about taxi drivers, you came to the wrong place. Of course my title made it seem like that might be the deal. What can I say? I enjoy misleading and disappointing people. Please come again! 

Yer Pal,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bicycle Saddle Height: Higher and Higher

Something strange is going on. Year after year, I have raised my saddle a little more. This year I had to move it slightly forward as well, since raising it has the effect of also moving it slightly further back.

I finished building this bike (Summer) bike in February or March, 2009. In each year I've ridden it, the fit seemed perfect in the Spring and not quite right in the Fall. I would understand if it had something to do with my fitness level or riding style changing through the season so it went lower,higher,lower,higher, but instead it has gone higher, higher, higher, higher! I think I have hit the upper limits now; I would probably be over-extending my leg if I pushed it any further.

To answer the bike fitters in the group in advance, no, my hips are not rocking at all while I pedal. I don't even try to stay on the saddle and get a toe down any more, though... I'm not sure I could. The bike's fit seems perfect to me right now; but it felt perfect before, too, until it didn't!

Have any of you experienced something like this, or am I, as I have always known deep inside, just a big weirdo? 
Yer Pal,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hard Times

Hey, you ever just ride on the plastic shell of a bike seat instead of a real bike seat? I did it for a couple of years when I was young and it suited me just fine on the frequent but short rides I was taking at the time. I thought I could probably handle the pain associated with adjusting to such a thing again; after all...

As might have been expected, my experiment was a total failure and the plastic shell pictured below was replaced with the saddle sitting on the wall behind it after only 2 days of trying. I prefer a fairly firm saddle, but this thin plastic shell turned out to be too much for my older, wussy self.
What's the worst excuse for a saddle you've ever used? I'll bet there are some doozies... let me know in the comments!
Yer Pal,

Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm Back, and I'm Chesty

Yes, I was gone for that whole month in order to undergo Breast Enhancement. Rare for a dude, I know, but I'm not your average turnip, y'know?

OK, that was my lame attempt at an April Fool's joke. What follows is the post I really wrote for today... there's still a Chesty tie-in, so be cool.

Hey all, I'm back from my March Break. Sadly I am no more caught up with my real life than I was before I took it, but I suppose that was to be expected. I was also hoping to find new inspiration for stuff to write about, but that didn't really happen either. Ah well, no worries about that, because I can happily fill my blog pages with empty tedious ramblings until my muse returns... like talking about video cameras!

My cheap old camera broke real good, so I began looking for a weatherproof replacement. As will happen sometimes, shopping around just made me want more and better. Eventually I settled on the GoPro® HD HERO Naked, because I didn't really want the helmet version and this camera is the only one I found with a Chest Mount option, which they have dubbed the "Chesty".

My thinking was that when on the bike your chest may be one of the "quietest" places on your body in terms of motion or vibration. In addition, unlike a helmet cam, the video doesn't sweep side to side like crazy as I navigate city traffic with my head on a swivel. I have barely begun playing with the cam but I thought I would show some of the video from this morning's commute. I want your opinion on whether you like me chesty (which means my arms and hands and bars are in the shot) or would rather have the cam back on the bars where I would likely have to go back to using deshaker software to stabilize the image.

The video I'm posting today is just raw, no deshaker action or title pages or any of my usual stuff. Anyway here goes...

Those videos were shot with the cam set on 720p. It'll do 1080, but I don't see the point when 720 allows a wider viewing angle (170 degrees) and 60 fps in case I want to slow motion something.

I'm still figuring out how to work with the .mp4 files this camera creates... hopefully I will improve at making them a little easier to watch.

Please Opine. Yer Pal,


PS - In hindsight I think I should have gotten the package that came with the helmet mount, the GoPro® HD Helmet HERO™ Camera instead of the "naked" even though I didn't think I wanted it... Check out for info on all the setups.

Friday, December 3, 2010

If You Were Riding the Bicycle #4 - Sidewalk Temptations

99.7% of the time, I don't ride on the sidewalk. I've got a couple of video clips, one from the summer and one from last week sometime...

When I review those clips, I find myself a little confused. Why am content to wait with the rest of the vehicles in one instance and not in another? I think the main reason is that in the first case I would have had to commit to staying on the sidewalk for quite a while because traffic was backed up, while in the second case it was more of a quick "ride around that garbage truck" kind of thing. In the first clip I was headed home from work near the end of my ride, but in the second I was going to work and near the beginning of it, so maybe the potential for lateness played a part too.

I don't believe that taking to the sidewalk is the right choice at any time, yet once in a long while I will do it anyway. When, if ever, does the temptation to ride on the sidewalk overcome you? Would you hit the sidewalk in order to overtake slow or stopped traffic?

What would you do if you were riding the bicycle?


Monday, January 11, 2010

Snowy Street Riding - A Pointers Page

Here's a little video of what can be the most difficult kind of snow condition for bicycle commuting in winter. The snow that remains after a decent snowfall that doesn't quite justify sending out the plows can be tricky stuff when it has been driven on by only a few cars. When snow has been packed down by lots of cars or hasn't been driven over at all, it is relatively easy to ride on, unlike the aforementioned difficult stuff:

As you can see, a straight line is nearly impossible, at least for most people. It is, of course, even more difficult when the snow is deeper, but at least here in London Ontario the plows run and create some good riding streets when there is a little more snow than pictured in the video.

The purpose of this post is to be a good online resource for pointers on street riding in difficult winter road conditions. As such, this is an open invitation to winter riders to share what works for them on snow like this. Useful comments will be added to the main body of this post as they come in (if they come in).

To get the ball rolling, here are some pointers:

1) Eyes Up - It is natural to want to look at the snow that the front wheel is going to encounter and seek the best line. However, balance is improved by focusing on a point in the distance whenever possible.

2) Stay Loose - When the front wheel tries to slip one way or another, a common reaction is to tense the arms and shoulders and grip the bar tightly. Better control can be achieved by consciously relaxing the upper body and grip as much possible while still maintaining control of the bars. Resting the fingers on the brake levers helps to prevent a "panic grip".

3) Stay Put - If at all possible stay on the saddle even when trying to power through stuff. Rear traction pretty much goes away when standing.

4) Keep Pedaling - Keep those legs moving even when things get dicey and ride almost as fast as possible. A little momentum helps a lot in maintaining a line while the snow tries to knock the bike around.

5) Walk Sometimes - Walk the bike when necessary, including when cars are anywhere near and control is not 100%. It is not safe or fair to slip and slide around while vehicles are trying to overtake or when space is tight. It is OK to slip and slide down roads like these, but dismount or stop on the side for a moment to let cars go by when they approach. It is more safe, and will minimize the animosity drivers show toward winter cyclists in general. With this one it is not about whether one could proceed, but whether one should in that context.

6) Skip the Sidewalk - The sidewalk is a terrible waste of time and effort and is even more dangerous than in summer thanks to high snow banks, etc. The surface is also usually much worse thanks to foot traffic.

That's it for now. All should feel free to disagree or offer other helpful ideas like the following from the comments:

Big Oak adds: prepared for varying snow and ice conditions on the road all at the same time. Sometimes the snow is loose and not frozen to the road, and right next to that there are frozen car tire tracks, and next to that might be perfect, unpacked snow. Thanks Big Oak!

Rollz adds: I read one time to try to hold a golf club like it was a baby bird and you don't want to crush it. I found this useful when riding streets like the one you were on in the video. I hold the bars light and put my massive weight back on the rear wheel. I also ride a MTB in winter. Thanks Rollz!

These bits are just excerpts. For everything these contributors had to say, check the comments.

Thanks for reading, and please slide on by any old time.


Monday, June 8, 2009

When Busier is Better

When you ride your bicycle on the road and act just as a car or motorcycle would act, you are engaging in "Vehicular Cycling". As a year-round bike commuter, I use a mix of riding styles depending on the context. When there is room for me to ride on the right and allow vehicles to pass without having to come too close even when there is opposing traffic, I do so, noting that I never ride as far right as the gutter. I strongly suspect that my version of "too close" is a little closer and scarier than many cyclists would advise, and I am probably assuming more risk than I should, but I'm OK with it for now. I spend 99% of my time on the street, but I have been known to ride on short stretches of sidewalk when it makes sense to me. I never ride a sidewalk with pedestrians on it... that's one of the times it stops making any sense. I treat most Stop signs as Yield signs, and obey all traffic lights with extremely rare exceptions. When it comes to intersections, I go into full VC (Vehicular Cyclist) mode, merge with traffic and use the left or right turn lanes as any car would. I queue jump on the right when it seems safe enough and doable, and on the odd occasion squeeze through gaps between cars and curb that I probably shouldn't.

As you may have guessed, it would be wrong to characterize myself as a true blue Vehicular Cyclist, but I have been hanging out on blogs and web sites that are committed to VC lately. Some of that content has begun to rub off on me, and I am finding myself practicing VC in more situations than I used to. This blog entry is about a section of my "late for work" shortest commuting route that has been made ten times easier by being a Vehicular Cyclist, taking the whole lane and riding on a very busy street rather than on some quiet ones.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and so a video must be worth several million! Please watch the videos that follow for a summary of what I've been writing about. Since I have stopped doing this part of my route the old way, I rode the streets I used to after work in order to get the comparison video; thus the difference in sunlight angle/time of day.

Video 1: My Old, Quiet Street Way

Video 2: My New, Busy Street Way

Ironically, if I were driving my car, I may well follow the "quiet" route in Video 1 in an effort to skip the slow-down associated with the light. On a bicycle, however, I don't have the power or size to just shoot out into traffic the way I could in my car, and using the flow-control features of the big intersection saves me valuable "late for work" seconds or even minutes and lowers my risk and stress. Sometimes, busier is better.

Thanks to stuff like this, I can actually enjoy riding in traffic.