About altbiker

I'm a lifelong rider - got my USCF Sport Coaching License back when I raced, launched a bike lighting company who introduced the first NiCad batteries to the market back @ 1991, climbed Mt Washington a few times and know it's not if, but when.

Welcome to the new year !

Another season of winter riding starts! I’ve changed up some of my commuting to include the Mass Ave ride from Arlington to The Charles River crossing on Beacon St. It’s an easier trek in the winter, and the DCR doesn’t clean up the Storrow Drive paths during snow storms, and alas – the Cambridge side of doesn’t fair much better.

I am encouraged tho, since the last time I used Mass Ave as a commuting road was at least a decade ago – and seeing the growth of dedicated bike lanes has really helped to make it a safer road to cycle-commute on.

more to come, weather is expected to dip into the single digits on the next couple days – keep riding my friends !

Cold weather glove review

Cold weather riding has it’s advantages. If you ride the paths, you begin to notice that there is much less traffic on the bike paths. The people out there tend to be more experienced and cordial that the fair weather folks that you’ll run into (literally).

There’s a few pieces of equipment that are worth investing in for cold weather riding; lights, breathable clothing and gloves. I’ve used a few different brands and types of gloves, from multi layer – to monster mittens.

Today – I’m riding with Novara Stratos Tech-Compatible Bike Gloves – I purchased a pair after looking at a lot of brands and models available from REI and some LBS’s in the area. So, be prepared to shell out fifty bucks or so for a pair.

First ride impressions: It was a cool morning – 35 degrees or so, which get chilly as soon as your riding along at 20 miles an hour, and I slipped the gloves on over my standard riding gloves. Honestly, I thought they would be warmer right off the bat, but after rode the first few miles – I forgot about the initial chill. The extended cuff do a great job of keeping cold air out of the sleeves of my riding jacket, and the two finger combo with the claw for the two outer finger is an really nice design and offers much better flexibility and movement options on the shifters and brakes than your standard “two claw” lobster mitts like the Pearl Izumi PRO gloves. The trade off those two digits keep you a bit warmer, but less agile on the bars.

Since I first wrote this – I’ve had about a dozen or so opportunies to ride with the gloves – They work much better in conjunction with a pair of riding gloves and a silk liner ūüôā

I’m commuting – if you wanna race go enter a crit.

Sometimes you gotta love other commuters. Yesterday – riding – and it’s tuesday, so I do interval training on my 45 lbs commuter bike, loaded with packs. After a good session with my hear rate up into the 170+ zone ( hey I’m 56 – that’s good for me!)
I’m recovering and sure enough some eager guy FINALLY catches up to me, and won’t pass me but sits on my butt the last mile home. I should have just banged hard against his wheel and took him out, but better conduct rued the day for me. Lucky him.

Frosti the Snowbike

FROSTI

Frosti the Snowbike took her first ride today, I brought her back to life after a long time she spend under a tarp in my backyard. Prior to that she was a work bike – commuter bike – and general go to around the local town errand runner. A decade or so ago – she served me well as a winter commuter. I ALMOST bought a fat tire bike, but at the prices they run, I could not justify it – besides – saving for that 15 pound road bike for climbing races in the spring is more important…

I stripped the bike completely down, resprayed her with you standard Krylon store bought – so it scrapes off and such – that will only make her a more iconic steed… I also gave all the running gear a nice coat of appliance white – for the hell of it, and also for salt protection – the metal has withstood 15 years or so of exposure, and that extra bit of paint is like sealant, add a coating of sprayed oil – and she’ll run pretty flawlessly all winter.

One pretty cool addition to the dashboard is a mini air horn – if you ride – bells are nice for polite “here I come” riding – but in the winter – LOUD horns help. What helps also is to remember, darkness is danger – so lights, front and rear – lots of lights. Be visible – because basically you are invisible – so be seen. and heard.

Looking forward to mounting the studded snows when the flakes start flying. till then, ride safe..

Sometimes my bike is a kayak…

kingfisher

 

I’ve got a wonderful decades old double kayak, and it’s been on many brutal adventures. ¬†Today we took her to the Nashua River, and paddled for a couple hours up and down the stretch thru Groton.. We saw swimming snakes, turtles, beavers and a lot of birds. ¬†This little belted kingfisher was just one of the sights we saw… ¬†sometimes water and paddling can give the legs a rest….

 

It’s coming!! Bring on the night….

beam

So, about a decade or so ago, give or take a few years – I met a guy – Kelsey – he was a phd chemist, he was a brillant guy, and a great biker… He showed up at my house to do some night time bike riding with me and a few others – (right out my back door on Page Road -into what’s known now as the Burlington Landlocked forest.) ¬†We’d head out and ride the trails at night for a few hours – you learn to ride over things you would normally avoid – Baby-heads, you float, not avoid… stuff like that. ¬† Now Kelsey had cut a flashlight in half, and strapped a lead acid 12 volt battery to his back. ¬†We quickly became R&D adventurers in the night time in our off road riding cadre. ¬†So, as the next few years in the early 90’s ¬†quickly accumulated, I enlisted a machinist friend to create some CNC’d housings, a lightweight mount and decided to invent NiMH batteries in the Bicycle space – ( at the time Night rider & Night sun were the only players – and battery technology was NiCads. ) – Using battery technology from a company I worked for; VST Technologies, who were Apple developers – we developed cigarette pack size battery packs. ¬†Way ahead of the curve. ¬†(We also R&D’d Metal Halide lights that were just in R&D and we started using those brutes, but the reliability was pretty bad. ¬†Shit would fail in the middle of a white knuckle turn. Not good. ) ¬†So – lots of real world testing led us to these pretty sick lights, before the internet – we had Usenet. ¬†and we sold a fair amount of these wonderful lights, to police teams, professors who lost drivers licenses and needed high power lights, 24 hour racers who needed a system that combined a helmet mounted spot with a broad beam handle bar system.. ( Trust me – you need both when you hammer in the woods… ) ¬† ¬† But, wait. ¬†Back the the rides…

A little history on the Burlington Landlocked forest… in fact the in the Burlington Landlocked forest – was created because Burlington had plans to sell the land to a developer – (Now – I owned land that backed up to the now landlocked forest. and the herd of deers who live back there, had visited for probably generations…would visit my back yard every fall – and eat all the apples and pears that fell to the ground off my trees. Kelsy, Jay, myself and a few other invites would ride and ride the trails – which some were old colonial roads before Rt 3 bisected them.) ¬†So forward a few years after I sold my house….. ¬†To stop the pending development, Bedford decided to put a conservation buffer around the town borders, effecting saying FU to Burlington’s idea of turning this land into a golf course and another technology park.) ¬† The resulting years have seen a lot of changes – lots for the positive – Punch and Judeywere the first NEMBA folks who went and built some pretty sick trails and jumps and obstacles I did not dare to attempt. ¬†Now – I visited the land about a month ago, on a hot July afternoon – and thankfully – most of the trails are still there – and in fact – dedicated trail members of NEMBA have built a bunch of new trails too.

But my heart lays in the excitement of riding at night in the woods, coming around a corner and riding thru a beam of light. ¬†Often I’ll ride alone – for the solitude and challenge ( altho’ I’ve learned to carry a first aid kid and a cell phone… )

So fast forward to 2014../15 ¬†– I just found an LED bulb that purportedly puts out the rough equal of 70 watts – and the amp draw is far less than a halogen bulb – so with a great powerful battery – I am expecting 3 to 4 hours of incredible lighting down these trails that I love so much…

Bring on the night

Kayak Totin’ Utility Bike !!

I love riding, but getting out in my big kayak is always an adventure too, and I live about a mile and half down the street from Spy Pond in Arlington. ¬†So, I’ve been wanting to do this for a few years now, and finally got around to it this weekend. ¬† I used about $20 dollars worth of parts, an hour or so of labor and a set of kayak caddy rollers. ¬† For the hitch, I used a 15″ long bolt with a round end, mounted it to my rack with wire rope clamps drilled rack. ¬†Four, half inch bolts are enough to make sure the hitch does not fail.

IMG_2499

I took it for a test ride after I got it completed; here a link to the youtube video:

http://youtu.be/NiVWXlXPBPA

Turning is much easier than I thought it would be, you can see from the test run in the video, I can turn in about a 20 foot or less circle, and the Kayak is a Perception Joccassee running 17.5 feet long, weighs about 75 pounds or so. ¬† My Utility bike is an old Trek, that’s seen a lot of service. ¬†Built like a tank, very good for hauling.

IMG_2508

The bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon.   

Don’t Blow Red Lights.

Yeah – the title says it all. Don’t Blow Red lights. You know why, because for every light you blow off – there is a driver who sees me and thinks of you, and your actions. Now – you may rationalize blowing thru lights a as the “Well, I get no respect, so I won’t respect your driving laws” … That is BS – pure and simple. Want respect as a cyclist – then show respect to the others who share the road.

Being a rather vocal individual, voice my opinion loudly – be it a driver who is brain numb to traffic and just doesn’t see me – waking the up with a 90 DB “whoop whoop!” works well – or screaming at a rider who blows a light “Hey *****, stop at reds!” To correct inappropriate actions – people need to be called out. I’m not perfect, and if I do something wrong – I expect to be called out on it. So, dish it out and take it when it’s your fault.

But don’t make me – the victim of your stupid actions.