Sunday, November 29, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Ride to Calligan Lake

It is a tradition of mine to avoid the malls on the day after Thanksgiving. This year Jimmy Livengood and I ride mostly on trails and gravel roads to Calligan Lake.

The day is clear in Issaquah, but misty in the mountains, so Jimmy has to take my word that the Weyerhauser clear-cuts open great vistas that allow the eye to roam all the way to Seattle. We climb slowly and lunch beside the quiet shores of Lake Calligan. Aside from a couple of hunters scouting in the four wheel drives and wondering why they're not seeing any game (hint: elk have ears and trucks are loud), we are the only humans here.

This trip gives me my first chance to really study Jimmy's Traitor Cycle, a fine and noble beast. Fat tires (which perhaps could be a bit fatter given the roughness of the roads), fenders and a nifty gushing oil well paint job make for a fine looking bike. Jimmy's cargo solution, a broken, re-purposed rear rack grafted to the front with a "bag, radio, cotton duck" from the army surplus store gives the bike classic porteur look and function without the hand-crafted price tag.

A swift and steep descent, past white, foaming streams that pick smoother lines than we do makes us appreciate the virtues of disk brakes and warm gloves. Jimmy pinch flats his front tire on the trail and a second slow leak in his rear tire gives me an excuse for a coffee stop in Snoqualmie. Here in this small town, at the foot of the mountains, people are strapping trees to the roofs of their SUVs. It's impossible to keep songs out of your head, "it's comin' on Christmas, they're cuttin' down trees..." We don't skate away on the rivers here, it's too warm and the water is too swift to freeze. We follow the road that follows the river down to Fall City.

It's dark enough that we turn on the lights for the climb up and over the plateau. The evening skies are clear in Issaquah and at home Christine confirms that it's been lovely here all day. It is lovely in the mountains too, in a greener, grayer way.

It's the time to give thanks, for family and friends. For warmth on cold days, for coffee shops, green trails and the time to ride.

Keep 'em rolling,


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Do You Need Padded Shorts?

Scott Adams not only creates shoot-coffee-out-your-nose-funny cartoons, he makes more than his fair share of good points. The cartoon above, which I first read years ago, no longer adorns my cube wall because I managed to leave the world of work cubes behind. But this message from Scott stuck in my head, where it has whorled around with other stuff, like Lao Tzu's advice: "To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day."

Years ago, when I was a kid, I rode my bike. As I upped my mileage and rode on hot, sweaty days, I learned that cotton jeans and cotton briefs had seams that bunched up and rubbed in uncomfortable places. I learned good things, useful things, about leather seats and dorky pants and chamois and Bag Balm. I rode lots of miles, long miles and if you'd asked I'd give you advice on how many pairs of cycling shorts you should bring for riding Paris-Brest-Paris (bring a couple, of slightly different styles, with the chamois seams in different spots.)

On really long rides, rides where I'd be out for days or weeks, I devised my wear one, wash one strategy. Each night I'd swap shorts and the dirty pair would be washed out and hung in a mesh bag from some spot on my bike. The next day's riding would usually dry the shorts. Usually, but not always. Chamois tend to hold onto water and on the hottest of days, salt from sweat and chamois seams would rub and well, that's what the Bag Balm was for.

Now when I'm talking about chamois here, it's not real chamois these days. It's a synthetic pad and if you hang out with cyclists you'll here all kinds of talk about which brand of shorts has the best pad and everybody has their favorites. Like saddles, it comes down to shape and different people are different. But here's something I've noticed, something I got to thinking about, something I added to that memory of an old Dilbert cartoon and the teachings of Lao Tzu: higher mileage folks tended to like shorts with a thinner pad. 


Now I figured out a few years ago that WTB saddles work really well for me. They are a good shape for my butt and for me, they have just the right amount of padding. I also like having pockets, so I tend to wear thin nylon cargo shorts or pants over my lycra shorts. But the chamois pad would tend to get hot and sweaty and on one long ride a while back the idea came to me to cut out the pad. The thinnest pad is no pad. So at camp that night I used the scissors of my Swiss Army knife to cut the pad from my cycling shorts. 

It worked.

For me.

Your mileage and butt may vary.

The next day I cut the pad from my second pair of shorts.

All my undershorts are padless these days.

My wife and kids will tell you that I still wear dorky pants. Cargo shorts or pants are dorky and most of mine are the nylon kind with legs that zip off to let them be either shorts or pants. They're dorky, but useful.

But the padded, dorky shorts? For me, they're more useful without the pad.

Keep 'em rolling,


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We Didn't Get To Rattlesnake Ridge

Today Joe "that's rando" Platzner, Michael "the Guth" Guthrie, and Matt "I bought a boat and damn near forgot how to ride a bike" Newlin learn that while Kent "the Mountain Turtle" Peterson can usually manage to navigate his way back home from the wilderness, getting to the chunk of intended wilderness is not a sure thing. I completely zone out once we hit the freeway shoulder and instead of turning off at the Hwy 18 exit for our intended climb up Rattlesnake Ridge, I drag my buddies east for an extra eleven miles of climbing along the freeway shoulder. Fortunately my friends are good natured and there are lots of mountains and trails around here. Eventually we hook right near Olallie State Park, scramble up to the Iron Horse Trail and enjoy a well-deserved downhill run to Rattlesnake Lake. We're on the wrong side of the ridge now, the side that can only be hiked and not ridden up so we riff a new plan, one that involves the trail back to North Bend. 

We are having oddly good luck today. The promised rain somehow doesn't come and the bakery in North Bend that is supposed to be closed on Mondays is open on this Monday. We pause for coffee and pastry and conversation is constant whether we are stopped or rolling. The last miles back to Issaquah, from Tradition Lake along the power line and then the trail behind the high school explain better than my words ever could why I've wound up living where I live.

We'll get to Rattlesnake Ridge next time, or the time after that. Today we roll a bit over fifty miles, some of it on roaring roads but the bulk of it in the quieter, rougher, greener places.

Joe's take on the day can be read on his blog.

Keep 'em rolling,


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Help From My Friends

OK blog readers, let me say this straight up front: I'm hitting you up for money in this post. Actually, I'm explaining how I manage to fund my adventures and you might find that interesting but they'll be some "here's how you can help" begging going on lower down on the screen and I thought I should let you know that up front, so you can surf away now if that's not your thing.

I've been called a lot of things over the years, but the term "Financial Genius" has never been applied to me. I've always been one of those fellows who chooses the interesting option over the lucrative one, consistently choosing the small jobs with fun little problems that still leave me time for a life, over the bigger jobs with fascinating problems that somehow manage to suck up every minute of the day. I still get sucked into the big jobs now and then, or into jobs that expand into things that really manage to cut into my day, but I have a caution that some would call laziness that makes me zig when the big money is on the path that zags. And I'm more than OK with that, although I know it baffles my kids.

Years ago a large Redmond-based software company was nice enough to fly me out to the Pacific Northwest and spend all day tossing software and other problems at me. As long as I was in the neighborhood, I also interviewed at a tiny company called Manley & Associates in a town called Issaquah, a place where my friend Camille worked. They needed somebody to help them write games for a Super-Nintendo. "I've never even seen a Super-Nintendo," I told them. "That's OK," Ivan Manley assured me, "Pretty much nobody has seen these yet." The folks in Redmond were real smart and it seemed like they worked all the time. The folks at Manley were really smart too and they only worked 14 hours per day instead of 20. Some of the Manley folks would go mountain biking after work.

Ivan Manley went to the thrift store the day I started at Manley, to pick up a used desk and a chair for me.

A few years later, Manley had grown to about 50 people and somehow I'd gotten sucked into being Director of Development and I wasn't writing any code. Electronic Arts bought the whole company and while I could've zagged into EA, I zigged into a little company doing educational software in Seattle. It was the least I could do to atone for my part in making a new generation of joystick potatoes.

My winding software path took me a variety of places, including a stint I describe as being "as easy as finding sand at the beach". I managed a QA team tasked with writing test cases and finding bugs in the software produced by a large Redmond-based software company. "Let me get this straight," I said in that interview, "We don't fix the bugs, we just find 'em." "Yep," was the reply. "Sign me up," I said.

We managed to not work every minute of the day, but we could have and never run out of bugs. Software, like all art, is never finished, but it does have ship dates. Someone very wise noted that "Shipping is the one feature that your product must have."

Like the original Star Trek, that gig was a five year mission. Other crews are still at work on similar missions in numerous remakes and reboots but I've been content to zig into the bike world and these days I'm mostly solving hardware problems. I make a very modest living (my old software pals are astounded at how modest a living!) but the important thing is that I have time to do cool stuff.

Time and money are often inversely proportional. If you are making the big bucks, you don't have time to do cool things, but it often takes a good chunk of money to do something cool. Here's what Jill Homer, the current women's record holder of the Tour Divide, wrote about the financial aspect of that race:

"For anyone considering entering this race in the future, this is my biggest piece of advice: Get a good credit card. Pretend that you have a million dollars. Pretend money has no value. Buy yourself exactly what you think you need. Take care of yourself first and worry about your financial situation later. This race is hard enough without trying to do it on a tight budget."

Good advice there, advice that's been making me think of returning to the software world, at least for a six month testing gig to pile up some bucks. But this is advice that ultimately I know I will not follow. I have to zig, even though the money is in zagging.

I live frugally and I don't go in debt to the credit card companies. Between Christine's job and mine, we make just enough to keep a small roof over our heads and a decent bit of food on the table. I manage to fund my adventures with a lot of help from my friends.

Here's how my adventure budget works. I tell stories and I give them away. Yeah, some of my works see print in the pages of things like Dirt Rag, but I'll let Cory Doctorow explain the state of professional writing (in his case Science Fiction, but what he says is pretty much universal):

"The compensation for writers is pretty thin on the ground. Amazing Stories, Hugo Gernsback's original science fiction magazine, paid a couple cents a word. Today, science fiction magazines pay...a couple cents a word. The sums involved are so minuscule, they're not even insulting: they're *quaint* and *historical*, like the WHISKEY 5 CENTS sign over the bar at a pioneer village. Some writers do make it big, but they're *rounding errors* as compared to the total population of sf writers earning some of their living at the trade. Almost all of us could be making more money elsewhere (though we may dream of earning a stephenkingload of money, and of course, no one would play the lotto if there were no winners). The primary incentive for writing has to be artistic satisfaction, egoboo, and a desire for posterity. Ebooks get you that. Ebooks become a part of the corpus of human knowledge because they get indexed by search engines and replicated by the hundreds, thousands or millions. They can be googled."

So, while Dirt Rag pays me for "The Way of the Mountain Turtle" it turns out I actually make more from giving away the story. Believe it or not, people do click on that little donate button. Not everybody, not most. But some of you do, probably because you like something I wrote and want me to write more things like that.

Kevin Kelly explains the concept of 1000 True Fans at:

I don't aspire to having 1000 True Fans but I've somehow stumbled onto a way of making my interests fund my adventures. As a character in Cory Doctorow's latest novel, Makers, notes, "When you do cool stuff, you end up making money." By the way, if you want to read Makers (and I totally recommend it!), Cory is giving the ebook version of it away at:

You can buy it in good old-fashioned book form at your local bookstore or, if you wish, clicking on any of the Makers links in this post will let you order it from Amazon.

Amazon links are one of the many ways readers like you support my adventures and my writing. I always try to be very straight-up about this. When you click on an Amazon link here and then buy anything on Amazon within the next 24 hours, I get a commission. It doesn't cost you any more but Amazon does pay me. The rate is usually about 6%. And that money counts up.

Let me tell you a story. (Hey, if you've stuck with this post this long, you're probably used to my rambling stories. Thanks for sticking around.)

Back in issue #122 of Dirt Rag, I reviewed Redline's 925. This involved Redline sending me the bike, my riding it for a couple of months, a week or so of my actually writing the review and all the back and forth emails of the edit and so forth. Fun stuff, but time consuming. You can read the review here:

I got paid what Dirt Rag pays writers, which wound up being something like $100 as I recall.

Around the same time, I'd started this blog and I got a helmet light, a Princeton Tec EOS. I spent about 20 minutes writing this review:

The review was the first thing I did that had one of those Amazon Associates links in it.

Some of you bought the light. Some of you might have followed that link and bought other things, but I know some of you bought the light. I get reports from Amazon. I don't see who buys what, but Amazon tells me what sells. And that EOS sells. And sells. And sells.

In the four years since that post went up, 103 people have bought an EOS from Amazon after following a link from my blog. Six percent of the price of an EOS is a couple of bucks. A couple of bucks times 103 is twice what I took home from the 925 review.

Hmm. I'm not getting rich off this, but little things add up. There really is something to the long tail of the Internet.

So I write this blog. I don't think you come here for the reviews, I think you come here for the stories and I try to tell a straight story. I review things I use and mostly things I like (with a few notable exceptions). I try to keep the ads to a minimum but I do link to stuff when I talk about it and I do run this kind of the same way Public Radio works (give stuff away most of the time and beg now and then).

It's a model that works for Public Radio and it works for me. My son said to me once "$75 is a lot of money for a mug with Carl Kasell's picture on it" but we all know the money isn't for the mug, it's for what's behind it. I took a page from Public Radio and created a Cafe Press Store with t-shirts, caps, a messenger bag and a mug. Proceeds from the store go to fund my adventures.

And I want to make it clear that my adventures are not some noble cause. I've raised money for good causes like fighting cancer or helping Dave Nice after his bike was stolen, but I'm not one of these people who rides for a cause. I have adventures because I like having adventures. If you support me, do it because you feel you're getting value from what you read here.

I really didn't mean for this to be a begging thing. What I really wanted to say is "Thanks." Thanks for all the amazing support. Hundreds of people helped me ride the GDR in 2005 and that support continues in all kinds of ways. Robert updated my Mountain Turtle logo for free and Kurt used the logo to make a bunch of "Hasten Slowly" buttons. My pal Joe set the whole deal in motion and delivered me a big stash of these cool buttons. Click on the picture at the top of this blog post to get a closer look at the buttons. I'm using them as thank-you tokens. 

Thanks for your continued support and for putting up with this rambling note. Back to ride reports and stories from the road and trail now. If you've made it this far and want a cool button, send your snail-mail address to me at kentsbike (at) gmail (dot) com. Or if you're one of the folks I cross paths with in the real world, ask me if I've got a button for you tucked into a pocket of my pack. I try to carry a few with me.

Keep 'em rolling,


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Excuses to Ride

Mike and meet up at Sandy's Espresso in the town of Carnation. It's a wet and windy Monday and I've been thinking about excuses. Excuses are interesting things, they are the way we structure our arguments to make it seem as if we are rational creatures, that we've weighed our options and made the logical choice. I'm sure there are people who actually work that way but when I honestly look at myself, I mostly use logic to rationalize a decision, not to make a rational decision. 

I am, at times (like this one!) an instigator. I'm the guy who sends email saying things like this:

to: [undisclosed receipients] 

date: Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 7:48 AM

subject: Wet Monday Coffee etc mixed surface ride 11/16/09 

Hey Folks,

So my pal [redacted] and I are planning a ride for Monday. Yeah, it's probably going to be wet, so we're meeting up at Sandy's Espresso in Carnation at 10:00 AM. I'll be leaving my place in beautiful downtown Issaquah at about 8:30 AM so anybody who wants to meet there and ride up to Carnation via trails, etc is welcome to do that. Or meet us at 10:00 at Sandy's. We'll hang out some at Sandy's and then head out (probably via trails) towards someplace. Probably up around Snoqualmie & North Bend.

Yeah, this is all vague and damp. At least one food/coffee stop after Sandy's will be in the mix. Fat tires recommended.

If you think you're in for this, let me know. If you want to forward this out to any like-minded folk, feel free or drag 'em along.

Kent Peterson
Bike Works
3709 S. Ferdinand St.
Seattle WA 98118
hours: 12-6 Tues - Fri, 11-6 Sat, 11-5 Sun, Closed Mondays
206-725-9408 x3

By sending an email such as this, I'm on the hook. I've crafted an excuse to ride. I have to ride because I set the damn sequence in motion. Looking at the forecast for today, I knew it would be windy and wet and too damn easy to stay home if I didn't have an excuse. I'm counting on my friends.

I usually send these emails to the many and the few respond. The Monday thing is a major filter, weeding out the more conventionally employed and responsible who number among my friends. Some are silent, some send regrets and first round excuses with varying degrees of detail.

[Redacted] and I had hatched the vague plan that brought me here this morning but somehow a busted truck removed him from the day's activities. Various others had responded with notes containing words like "I'll try to make it" and "70% sure I'm there" but only pal Mike had listened to Yoda ("do or do not, there is no try") and said "Yea, count me in."

And now, at 10:00 AM on this wet and windy Monday, it's Mike and me. Mike buys my coffee and scone and we talk of his latest score, a $100 classic StumpJumper. We wait a bit for others we're mostly sure won't show and then head out.

We ride on trails I know that are new to Mike up to Snoqualmie and North Bend. Mike will tell you and I'll confirm that it was wonderful riding but if you were looking for a half-empty glass or a reason not to ride, I'm sure you would find it. Mike's fenders were half-done, half adequate and half-assed while mine are not fenders at all. The worst of the spray is kept off my butt (but not my back) by the coroplast trunk that a couple of my pals have dubbed "the cheese wedge."

Mike asks me about my total lack of front fender and I find myself telling him not of damp days or the clay that wedges solid into any fender that might try the epic mud of the Great Divide. What I tell him about instead is the scene in that great epic of dust and light, Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence extinguishes matches by letting them burn down to his fingertips. His men try to emulate this, but burn their fingers. "How do you do it without getting burned?" one soldier finally asks him. "Oh," Lawrence replies, "I get burned, I just don't care."

We ride with some care, care that had us bring jackets and enough layers for some degree of comfort. Hot soup at Twedes, layers of wool and nylon, and the heat of motion are enough but perhaps the best excuse for riding in the wind and rain is that it's the only way to find out what you need and what you want enough to take with you, for riding in the wind and rain.

I'm home at 4:00 PM, thinking not of what more I need to carry, but what else can be safely removed. The trails are out there, every day. I'm working on my next excuse to ride.

Keep 'em rolling,


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Logic Doesn't Sell Newspapers

The good folks at Bike Hugger pointed me to this wonderful example of nonsense in the field of headline writing by Tweeting:

Suspect headline of the day: Children prefer homework to bikes wazzat?

Following the link leads to this story in The Daily Telegraph headlined

Children prefer homework to bikes, new statistics show

Kinda makes you want to read the article, eh? And I'm pretty sure that's the point. Because neither the article itself, nor the study it cites, show anything that backs up the claim in the headline. The article does state that cycling was the only activity to become less popular in a survey of child activities but that it is more popular than riding a skateboarding, rollerblading, riding a scooter, or doing a craft or art activity. And kids spend more time doing homework, reading and surfing the internet than they do riding bikes.

Now problem is the use of the word "prefer" in the headline. I think I spend more time changing the litter in my cat's litter box than I do eating dark chocolate. Do I prefer scooping crap to eating dark chocolate? No, I do not. I spend more time on the cat litter project because it's something than needs to be done. Like homework. 

Headlines sell newspapers. I'm sure the writer of the headline knows the meaning of the word "prefer" and prefers to get more readers with a snappy headline instead of a truthful one. Heck, it worked on Bike Hugger and me. I probably would've glossed over the article if it had a mundane title.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Help Val Fight Cancer

Damn! I just found out today that my pal Val is battling cancer. Cancer sucks and Val is an awesome guy. Readers of this blog might recall Val from this post back in July but pretty much every bike person in the Seattle area has a great Val story to tell.

Some more details of how we can help Val out with his medical bills are at:

I just shot some bucks into the Paypal account (thanks for setting this up Aaron!) and I'm getting the word out here and on Twitter. If you can help out with any amount by buying a raffle ticket or sending some money via Paypal, please do.

Live strong, Val. You've got a lot of people pulling for you.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Kids, Books and Bikes

Years ago, in the period after I burned out on the software business the first time and before my friend Kevin lured me back in with the phone equivalent of Herman Mankiewicz's famous telegram to Ben Hecht - "Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots", Christine and I managed a used bookstore in Duluth, Minnesota. It was wonderful, dusty work that ultimately proved to be incompatible with Christine's lungs and one of the few jobs where it was possible to make even less than I do currently in the non-profit bike world. But books, like bicycles, are wonderful things that kids take to when given the right encouragement and context. Our kids have grown up with both bikes and books.

Christine and I have written and spoken elsewhere about raising carfree kids and today I'm going to write a bit about a few books, old and new, that showcase the simple wonder of riding a bike.

One book that my mom read to me and that Christine read to the boys, is H. A Rey's classic Curious George Rides a Bike. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it's a wonderful tale of a somewhat irresponsible monkey who fails to deliver the newspapers he's supposed to. Of course, bad things happen to him (he wrecks his bike) but his skill at trick riding allows him to persevere and everything works out in the end. Hmm, OK, maybe that's not a great lesson (being cute and tricky helps you get along in the world!) but it is a classic book and you can tell George is having fun. I recall as a kid it not only got me interested in cycling, it turned me on to origami as well (George made the papers into origami boats instead of delivering them.)

The next book, His Finest Hour by David Neuhaus, is a wonderful "Tortoise and the Hare" story featuring Ralph, the fellow with all the latest whiz-bang stuff and Dudley with his old balloon-tired bike. The delightfully droll delivery and illustrations lovingly list all the gear Ralph brings to the race countered with the simple sentence "Dudley brought his bike." A great little book.

Super Grandpa by David M. Schwartz is a the true tale of 66-year old Gustaf Hakansson who, in 1951, was told by the officials of the Tour of Sweden that he was too old to compete. Hakansson did not take no for an answer and rode 600 miles to the start of the race and then unofficially rode and came in first on the 1000 mile course. This is one of those books that really is a great story for all ages of readers.

It seems that every generation decries "kids these days" with their loud music and funny hair, but I get to work with kids every day at Bike Works and I'm here to tell you that the kids are alright. Every Earn-A-Bike class we can offer fills up. Kids still want to learn and still get a thrill from getting places under their own power.

A couple of days ago I got an email from my son Peter (the little tyke you see in the pictures here is now in his twenties, doing his post-grad work in Ice Physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks). The email starts out "Hey Old Man". Both our kids feel like they've grown up in an extended version of a Jean Shepherd story and always refer to me as "the old man." Peter goes on to describe how a friend of his is commuting and crashing on "a very old bike shaped object from Walmart with a completely shot to hell drive train that should never be subjected to everyday use by anyone." He wants me to keep an eye open at Bike Works for a suitable bike for his friend. The supply of decent bikes in Fairbanks is poor, so Peter and his pals have pooled some money and when Peter is back down here for Christmas, he's hoping to get a used bike that he'll take north with him on the plane.

As I said before, the kids are alright.

Keep 'em rolling,


Friday, November 06, 2009

My Three Coaches

I often say that I don't train, I practice, but I've been thinking lately (mostly on long, wet, dark rides in the rain) that I guess I do train in my own way. I mostly don't think of myself as an athlete but when I ride brevets, race from San Francisco to Portland, ride to Minnesota or race the Great Divide, people tell me that these are athletic feats and ask me all kinds of questions about training and diet and coaches.

It seems to me that whatever abilities that I have when it comes to riding a bicycle for long distance have been honed over the years by three coaches. In this long-overdue blog post, I'll introduce you to them.

The coach whose been with me the longest is Coach No-Car. I've been with Coach No-Car since 1987. A lot of folks, when they learn about Coach No-Car think he's some kind of harsh task master, and while he is the coach that gets me out there when My Free Will Just Ain't Willin', he's also the coach who has taught me the most. Coach No-Car taught me how to dress for all conditions, how to ride in the rain and the dark, and generally get around safely in a world filled with big fast-moving, death boxes.

My favorite coach is probably Coach Long-Commute. Coach Long-Commute reminds me every day how fortunate I am to live and ride in this lovely part of the world. My daily three hour tour is the result of some smart choices I've made and even on the dampest days, the trip is interesting. Today, for example, the sky in Issaquah was the color of a funeral and the rain was pretty much a vertical river. But by the time I'd cleared the eastern slope of Cougar Mountain, I could see a patch of blue sky over Seattle and by now my jacket is damn near dry. Coach Long-Commute is gives me the mileage base on which I build my other adventures. Thirty-seven miles per day, five days per week adds up to thousands of miles in a year but more importantly, it makes 100 mile days basically easy. If I can ride 37 miles and work a full day, of course I can ride a century or more on my days off.

Coach One-Gear is the crazy old man of my coaching team. Coach One-Gear is a philosopher, something akin to a Zen Master. Coach One-Gear is the voice in my head saying "you don't need to downshift" when a hill looms up ahead and then I crest something like Irving street in Seattle I think that Henri Desgrange was right, it is better to triumph by the strength of my muscles than the artifice of a derailleur. Of course, I'm more Tao than Zen and now things run behind and now they run ahead, so sometimes I'm single speeding and sometimes I'm fixing. I've even been known to shift now and then but the bikes I stick with, the ones that see me through the best adventures seem all to loose their shifty bits somewhere along the way. It is not, as I explained once to my friend Brad, that I hate the gears, it's that they make me soft. Coach One-Gear keeps me honest and keeps me spinning down the trail.

There are other coaches, of course, like Coach I-Wonder-Where-That-Road-Goes? but Coaches No-Car, Long-Commute and One-Gear are the ones who keep me rolling every day.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Solar Bike Tail Light

Long time readers of this blog know that I spend a lot of my time thinking about and tinkering with bikes and bike stuff. This time of year half my commute is in the dark, so naturally I think about lights. I've had good luck with and like Planet Bike Lights and I run rechargeable batteries in them. While I notice when the headlight is going dim, I tend to ignore tail lights and when I saw the solar bike light on Amazon last week, I thought "what the heck" and ordered it.

Now remember folks, I'm an Amazon Associate. If you buy something through a link on my blog, I get percentage (usually about 6%) of the purchase price credited to my Amazon account. It doesn't cost you any more and it actually it doesn't matter if you buy the exact product I talk about or some other product on Amazon. If you go to their site through a link on my site and buy anything on Amazon in the next 24 hours, I get a percent of the purchase price credited to my account. The amazing thing isn't that, I plug products on my blog, the amazing thing is that I don't just plug products on my blog. I do try to stick to stuff that I find interesting in the hopes that you folks out there at least find it worth the time to stop by. But remember, I'm not a neutral party in this.

Wow, that was dull, I was supposed to be talking about a bike light. Yeah, well when I talk about things some of you folks buy things and then I wind up with this Amazon credit and I have to spend it on something. So I got this tail light. So far it seems cool. Down the road I'll let you know if it holds up to the rigors of the commute and the trail or if it shorts out or anything. I made a shot a video review with my phone (which I use as pretty much everything but a phone, but that's another post). You can see the review here: Solar Tail Light Review.

Keep 'em rolling,