Light Up Your Legs

I’m definitely a fan of hi-viz garb.  (Hmm…do hi-viz cargo shorts exist? Answer: Yes, but they look cumbersome).  It seems pretty well known that hi-viz works, especially when worn on the lower body.  That allows drivers to detect “biomotion” which intuitively identifies us as cyclists / bike riders / people-on-bikes.

So what do you think about these reflective leggings?  I do wear leggings when riding in the chill, under cargo shorts of course.  “Style maven” doesn’t really come up in many conversations around here.  But most of the time it’s too warm, in Texas, for leggings.  Here’s a solution for lighting up your legs without covering them up:

Wrist/Ankle Bands

I bought a set of four from Amazon for around $12.  One stays in the saddle bag, one on a backpack, and a couple in the bike-stuff-staging area in the garage along with sunglasses, hats, gloves, helmets, etc.  They definitely improve night time visibility and are:

  • Inexpensive
  • No batteries/recharging needed
  • Extremely light to carry
  • One size fits all

By the way, if you don’t have a decent headlight be sure to take at Light and Motion’s Urban lineup.  I reviewed the 350 a while back and their products have only gotten better and brighter.

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Riding Like a Bird

“Beware of any endeavor that requires new clothes” – Thoreau

You’ve undoubtedly heard of MAMILs.  Just in case, MAMIL stands for “Middle Aged Men in Lycra”.  Personally, I’m more of a Middle Aged Man in Cargo Pants kind of guy.  But MAMICP just doesn’t trip off the tongue.

And why, pray tell, isn’t there a female version of the acronym?  One proposal I like is WILMA!  That said, both MAMIL and WILMA are all about Lycra.

Do you really need Lycra?:

First off,  something you won’t read often in the specialist bike media. You can ride a bike without any special clothing at all. None. Not a stitch. Yes, it’s true: you can ride a bike without Lycra shorts, special shoes, tight-fitting jerseys or even gloves with holes in the back. (In fact the World Naked Bike Rides held in various cities show you can ride without clothes at all, but you’ll get a bit chilly if you try that every day in the UK.)

Not to mention: “MAMIL TOE“!

So CPC’d like to propose a new acronym.  MAMICP won’t do of course, it can’t be gender specific.  I kind of like MARCIAN (Middle Aged Rider in Anything Normal), but the “MA” part has to go too.

How about BIRDs – “Bicyclists In Regular Duds”?  OK, it’s not awesome, but it’s a start and being a bird sounds like more fun than a mammal, amirite?

Or maybe RINGs – “Rider In Normal Gear”.

All we CPC’ers need is a cool nickname, some great street duds or general athletic wear, and we can all avoid Jennie Price’s just a slippery slope 🙂

Photo: BeenThereBikeTours

After all, what fixie-riding hipster ever wore Lycra?

An “Almost” Travel Bag?

I spent last weekend in the Bay Area for the East Bay Punk Rock History Bike Tour and generally DIY’ing a tour around the city.  The goal was to bike as much as possible, use transit for longer jaunts, and definitely not rent a car.  Considerable hours were spent finding a bike rental place that wouldn’t leave me riding a bike rented near Fisherman’s Wharf and screaming “tourist”!  (Shout out to Golden Gate Rides!)

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Considerable MORE hours were spent plotting out how to most efficiently arrive at the Oakland Airport, transfer to the nearby hotel, and get the bike from across the bay.  Or, arrive, pickup the bike and then check in.  And, to reverse that process on the way home.  Or, the other way around.  The Bay Area abounds in transit: BART, ferries, Uber et al, bikes, and feet.  Some ferries run on the weekend, some don’t.  BART runs nearly 24/7 but takes the lonharbor_ferryg way around from OAK to Market Street in San Francisco.  The ferry is faster and way more fun, but the Harbor Ferry closest to the hotel doesn’t operate late nor on the weekend.

Traveling light was mandatory.  My usual frequent flyer roll-aboard was too big and unbikeable.  I didn’t want to schlep a biggish backpack through the airports, but kinda-sorta-definitely needed some kind of backpack for the bike pickup and dropoff.  Maybe.  Well, only if I chose to take BART direct from OAK to the bike shop.  In that case, I’d need the backpack to bike BACK to BART or the ferry to get to the hotel.  Pretty much the same story on departure, should I chance the trip into the city (with a backpack) and then race to the airport on the morning of the flight?  Or was it smarter to return the bike the night before and endure being on foot the last evening?

After way-too-much-thinking-about-it, I armed myself with schedules in my phone and the realization was that the best plan was to wait until arrival and decide based on time-of-arrival, bike shop closing time, and whether the ferry was still running.

Whew.

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High Sierra Rev Wheeled Backpack

So, I needed a medium, maximum flexibility, roller backpack.  And Amazon proposed this High Sierra Rev Wheeled Backpack.  I read all of the reviews, reviewed all of the related items, and visited a couple of local stores.   It really came down to this bag or a LARGE backpack.  Since 90% of the bag’s mission would NOT involve being in backpack mode, I ordered it.

With reservations.

My reservations were principally:

  • Would it be big enough?
  • How well/poorly does it work in backpack mode?
  • As a former frequent flyer, did I really need another bag?
  • How will High Sierra address warranty issues, because too many Amazon reviews complained about that.

The short answers to these questions are:

  • Yep, big enough.  I’m a big guy and semi-easily fit four days worth of casual wear, my laptop and miscellaneous electronic stuff.  NOT enough room, however, for a spare pair of shoes.
  • Not great.  I tested it at home and the straps were too short and too thin.  I knew this going in from the reviews, which were spot on.   It would, however, have sufficed for the bike transfers with the pack.  It turned out that I ended up arriving/departing via the hotel and ultimately didn’t need the backpack functionality.  However, it was worth it to me to have the flexibility to make my aforementioned tactical transit decisions.
  • No.  But it was $58, a breeze at the airport, and fit handily into the overhead bin.
  • We’ll see.  One of the zippers jams a bit and one roller is pretty wobbly.

Check out my complete Amazon review for more details.

 

 

 

Get This Headlight

Recommended
Get This: Lights & Motion 350

If you ride your bike in the dark, even at dusk, you need lights.  In the U.S., all 50 states REQUIRE a headlight and a tail light or reflector.  Getting a ticket is one thing…but you absolutely don’t want to get hit by a car.  And, unless you ride exclusively in well-lit urban areas, you probably need to be able to see in front of you.  In fact, using bike lights in the day time is becoming increasingly popular.

There are some amazing lights available these days.  If you want to dig into all the ins and outs of lights, head over to the Bike Light Database.  They have in-depth reviews of hundreds of headlights and taillights as well as recommendations.

Too much work?  Then read this detailed review of Light & Motion’s Urban 350.  And then go buy one directly from them or Amazon.  CPC agrees, this headlight is nearly perfect:

Highly recommended!

 

You Don’t Need Spandex to Take a Spin

But what about the day-to-day folks who feel jailed inside their stuffy, gas-guzzling cars because they don’t realize that hundreds of thousands of people across the world do not buy into the American Spandex myth?

Aimee Heckel knows what we’re talking about.  There’s no need to wear specialized clothing to ride a bike.

And yes, baskets are handy too:

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See a City on a Bike

Hey, summer’s coming, where are you going?  Did you know almost every major city in the world has a city bike tour?  And so do plenty of smaller towns, too.  Really small towns, even.  Take, for example, Beaufort NC, with a population of less than 5000 people.  And yet, Hungry Town Tours offers a bunch of bike tours.

Check out BeenThereBikeTours for a database of bike tours, as well as a frequently updated blog that covers special events, random one-time rides, and more.

What’s the best part?  We’ve taken a few #citybiketours and people ride in street clothes, no Spandex/Lycra/kit required.

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10 Tips to – Wait, What?

Roadbike Reviewchan-aero recently posted this somewhat tongue-in-cheek list of how not to look like a cycling rookie.  Here at CPC, we have a somewhat different point of view:

Tip 1: No Pro Kits – yeah, OK, but how about no kit at all?

Tip 2: Buy the coolest helmet you can afford – um, no.  We’ll leave the helmet discussion for another time, but do you really want to drop close to a C-note on whatever a Giro Pneumo is?  Our advice, buy a helmet that fits well and meets all safety standards.

Tip 3: Buy cycling clothes that fit – like the cargo shorts and T-shirt you already own?

Tip 4: Shave the legs – If you already shave your legs for other reasons, then sure. Otherwise, why bother.

Tip 5: Avoid “rookie marks” – What’s wrong with a little chainring grease tattoo?

Tip 6: Pick the right accessories – Avoid mirrors and large bike bags?  Why?

Tip 7: Dump the reflectors and “plastic ring” – OK we agree on getting rid of the pie plate.  They can rattle and yellow as they age.  Wheel reflectors though?  Anything that makes us even a tinier bit more noticeable in the dark is a good thing.

Tip 8: Practice with your clipless pedals – CPC riders don’t use clipless pedals.   Period.  Rivendell has a great argument for street shoes.

Tip 9: Unless you’re riding a mountain bike, no hydration systems! – A cage bottle is fine of course. But if it gets you in your saddle, bring your Camelbak, who cares?

Tip 10: Know the cycling etiquette – OK, there are some decent tips here if you ride in a group.  But if “Outlandish grimaces and other facial expressions are a must in pack riding” sounds like your kind of riding, chances are you are not a Cargo Pants Cyclist.

Beta Bicycling Pants

Black-BTW-Britches_Specs1Obviously, I’m not big on spendy, activity specific clothing.  That said, Betabrand has some interesting takes on active (and inactive) clothing.  Those Dress Pant Sweatpants look pretty tempting.

For bike pants, there are some interesting features included in their Bike to Work Britches, including U-lock loop, reflective cuffs, carabiner loops, “crack coverage” and more.  (Note: Ladies version here)

They even have a couple of styles of cargo pants, too bad there’s not a sweatpant version.

The bike pants are usually $108, but 20% off as of this post. In spite of the skinny models, they do have my size (i.e. “husky).