By now you’ve read all kinds of good advice in Bicycle Times on riding your bike through harsh winter conditions, but sometimes the best strategy to deal with it is to escape. I’m not ashamed to admit that during the second of… oh what, three? four?… polar vortices, or dips in the jet stream, or whatever ridiculous weather patterns we’ve had here in the Northeast, I escaped to sunny southern Florida, courtesy of the Adventure Cycling Association. It was the second of its three annual Florida Keys tours. And it was fabulous.Tweet Print
I tested and liked the original version of the Flea lights back in Bicycle Times issue #3. This diminutive light set has been updated with a new USB charging system, and Blackburn is also offering a solar charging option for space-age convenience.
Each light has four LEDs housed in a sturdy body. The front’s 40 lumens put it in the “be seen” category (rather than “to see”), and it has two steady modes plus a flash. The rear has two flash modes plus steady and is disco-bright. Both have fuel gauge LEDs in the on/off buttons. Run times were at least as good as advertised—one hour on high for the front and six hours on steady for the rear.Tweet Print
In the varied and ever-changing garden of bicycles, it seems that the fat bike corner is the latest area of flourishing growth, producing new ideas and iterations at a rapid pace. Two longtime mountain bike innovators—Aaron Joppe, former owner of Slingshot, and John Muenzenmeyer, former owner of Nukeproof—have been drawn into this bloom and are making interesting contributions with their relatively new company, 616 Fabrication.
The company name comes from the area code of western Michigan where they manufacture frames, forks and hubs at their own facility. They offer frames for fat bike, cyclocross and mountain builds, all made in high-end steel. Artistic touches, such as laser-cut seatstay bridges and custom-etched ID plates, further set these creations apart from the average mass-produced models, as does a classic paint job.
The first thing I and other staffers noticed about the Fat frame is its relatively steep 72 head tube angle. It also sports short-for-a-fat-bike 17.5-inch chainstays. Hub spacing is 135mm front and 170mm rear. It’s designed to ride light and nimbly over sand, snow and rock. Custom geometry is available to suit anyone’s taste, but for our tight turns and four seasons, the stock numbers suited me just fine.Tweet Print
By now you may have seen our page about kale in issue #27. We’ll be featuring different eats that we consider “superfoods” in future issues. (Don’t worry—we plan to cover the whole spectrum, including less goody-two-shoes candidates such as honeybuns.) Here are some tips and a couple recipes to go with the information in that column.
I’ve been growing several types of kale in my backyard garden for a few years now and can honestly say I love it. Health benefits aside, it just tastes really good, especially fresh (and organic). I eat it often as a side dish, or as a substitute for a cold salad.
Kale survives well in low temperatures. I typically start it earlier than other vegetables, in mid-March to mid-April depending on the mercurial spring weather here, and the leaves stay fresh and green into the winter. (For those who garden by the book, we’re in Zone 6B according to the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
It’s a hardy vegetable for storing, as well, if you buy your kale from the grocery store or farmer’s market. Keep it in loose, air-filled plastic bags, or better yet, a large container that allows some air circulation but doesn’t allow it to dry out.Tweet Print
A new company is bringing bike repair to your door. Cyclomend is a network of mobile bike mechanics, currently operating in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. (but looking to expand). Book an appointment online and you’ll be matched with a mechanic who will contact you to get more information and discuss prices, then they’ll show up and get to work. You can even leave a bike locked up outside to be fixed, then pay the bill later. Obviously a mobile mechanic can’t work the miracles that a fully-stocked shop can, but CycloMend’s fleet can do more than you may think, and their aim is to be as friendly and approachable as possible. Check it out at cyclomend.com.Tweet Print
There is a panoply of excuses we can choose from when wimping out of cold weather riding. Some of them have more validity than others—but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be overcome. I’d like to address a couple of physical limitations that can be good reasons to bow out of a cold ride, but that don’t necessarily need to stop you, especially in their milder forms.
Asthma and Raynauds are two such ailments that affect many cyclists, but become even more of an issue in the cold.Tweet Print
At the Women’s Cycling Forum that was part of the National Bike Summit last March, many of us were introduced to a founder of a movement that is helping to fill a crucial gap in cycling: Veronica O. Davis of Black Women Bike. Davis and two friends started the group as a local organization in Washington, D.C., and are building the foundation to take it to the national level. Davis’ efforts are a natural outgrowth of her professional life in civil engineering, which she believes involves “using transportation as a tool to positively affect people’s lives.”Tweet Print
Our own local advocacy organization, Bike Pittsburgh, has created an innovative ad campaign that we’d like to see implemented all across the nation. Called the Drive With Care Campaign, the aim is to remind automobile drivers that bicyclists are human, too.
From Bike Pittsburgh: “Bicyclists are not obstacles or targets; they could be your friend, nurse, carpenter, or even your favorite football player, Antonio Brown.” (That’s the Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver shown in the ad below.)
The ads feature photos of everyday people next to their bikes, with descriptive words to drive the point home. They’ve been seen on billboards and bus shelters around the city, but the organization would like to expand the campaign’s reach, and even produce television ads.
See more “Drive With Care” campaign posters and donate to the campaign here: bikepgh.org/care. And you can contact Bike Pittsburgh through their website if you’d like information on how to develop a similar public awareness effort in your own town.
Ten intrepid women will embark on a “purposeful adventure” this March, riding 262 miles from New York City to the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. The group is made up of advocates representing five advocacy organizations: WE Bike NYC, Black Women Bike, Gearing-Up, WABA: Women and Bicycles, and Women Bike PHL.
This is an adventure near and dear to us, as we’ve featured some of these organizations in our pages, and we’ve also ridden to the Summit from our home base of Pittsburgh. It’s also a big undertaking, so the ladies are asking for your support via an Indiegogo campaign.Tweet Print
This is quite possibly the lightest bike we’ve ever tested here at Bicycle Times at just under 17lbs.—but don’t call it a race bike. We’re fond of saying that what most of the bicycle industry calls a “road bike” is, in fact, a road racing bike. Such bikes typically have skinny tires (25mm wide or less), a fairly aggressive (read: uncomfortably bent-over) position, and a ridiculously light but stiff-as-a-board frame.
Meanwhile, most roads that we get to ride on are littered with such non-racing features as potholes, gravel, traffic lights—and don’t forget the traffic. Most “road” bikes, as defined by the industry, are as unsuited to riding on actual roads as a Ferrari is to driving to the grocery store.
>But the next step over from road racing on the bike spectrum is the relatively new category of “comfort” or “endurance” road bikes. These bikes may look at first glance like typical road racing machines, but they have key differences to make them more comfortable over long rides and rougher surfaces—or to help them be simply rideable for us mere mortals. You may sometimes see the term “racing” thrown in the descriptions, but think in terms of racing on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, not the butter-smooth, fresh asphalt of the Tour de France.Tweet Print