Author Archive: Noah

Review: Ryders Eyewear Vigor Sunglasses

Anyone who puts a lot of miles on their bike will benefit from eyewear. Not only can sun damage your eyes, but vehicles throw rocks, many locations have swarms of bugs we inevitably ride through, and wind can dry our eyes. Even in low-light, some cyclists wear clear-lens protective eyewear.

The climate in Kansas City this past week has been bizarre. We had a 115°F heat index afternoon, a few thunderstorms, and morning lows into the 50s. The morning sun has been up early enough that I end up riding straight into it on my way to work. With lots of saddle time and a wide variety of climates to contend with, it was officially the perfect week to put some new shades to the test. Enter: Ryders Eyewear.

Ryders provided Bike Commuters a pair of their Vigor sunglasses to review. At the $45 price-point, it’s one of their middle-of-the-line models.

Many of Ryders’ models feature temples and nose-pieces with adjustable memory-wire inside. With some tinkering, you can get a very comfortable custom fit. Also, thanks to the water-resistant rubber coating on the contact points, they stick to your face and stay where you put them once you adjust them no matter how much you sweat. These are by far the most secure-feeling shades I’ve worn that cost under $100.

One feature I really came to appreciate on the two sweltering evenings we had last week: the vented lenses. While not a completely unique feature, I really like it when the glasses provide exceptional peripheral vision coverage without suffocating my eyeballs.

Like the true commuter nerd, I rock the mirror for my 29-mile round trip commute. Usually, I have the mirror mounted to the tab you see hanging from my helmet, but my Take-A-Look mirror is also designed to mount to glasses. I actually like this mounting position better, and now that both my morning and evening commute call for sunglasses, I’m going to keep it this way.

These came with a protective pouch that can be used to wipe the lenses off as well as keeping them safe and scratch-free in your bags while you’re on the job. I’m not certain if the pouch comes standard with all models.

I’m not terribly picky about my eyewear — I’ve worn cheap $7 Wal-Mart shades and some that were considerably pricier than these as well. All in all, I’m pretty impressed with what Ryders offers. They also have models with interchangeable lenses, and at least one model that is prescription lens compatible.

Surviving summer

Two years ago, I posted an article on beating the heat. It basically boiled down to the following advice which I still stand by.

  • Wear sunscreen and eye protection
  • Stay hydrated
  • Replenish electrolytes and calories if needed
  • Stay cool by packing ice in jersey pockets or riding through shady areas and sprinklers on the route
  • Reduce sun exposure by shifting your work schedule or mixing your bike commute with transit if possible
  • Finally, recognize the symptoms of heat-induced sickness. These are bad news!
  1. Dizziness
  2. Nausea
  3. Sudden fatigue
  4. Headaches
  5. Blurred vision

A few other things to consider (some of which were from the comments two years ago!)

Learn where you can top off your water bottles. If you drink a lot of water in the summer, you might be tempted to wear a hydration pack, but your best bet is to keep your back free and able to stay cool. Parks, convenience stores and walking trails will usually have somewhere for you to get more water.

Ditch the helmet if you start to get too hot. A bike helmet will protect your head in the crash, but as Fritz points out, there’s irony in suffering heat illnesses because you have your head stuck in a well-insulated heat trap. Fritz also noted that while it feels good to douse yourself with water, the liquid does a much better job when you DRINK it, so if your water is in limited supply, refrain from dumping it on your head.

Some say Cotton is Rotten. Cotton t-shirts are cheap, but they don’t breathe well when they’re soaked with sweat. Pick your clothing carefully. Discount warehouse stores often sell inexpensive running or golf shirts that wick water away from the body and breathe quite well. You don’t need to spend $40 and up for a fancy brand-name running shirt or jersey.  Stick with light colors in the summer. That dark blue jersey might look nice, but it’ll soak up heat from the sun quickly.

What do you do to beat the summer heat? We had a 110 degree heat index here in Kansas City this afternoon. I spent a few minutes on my way home sitting in the shade and filling up my bottles at a local park.

Water-resistant bags

Remember when you got those brand new panniers? They shed water like a duck, and maybe even came with raincovers.  After about a year of almost daily use, I’ve noticed my panniers had been taking on water when it rains, not as bad with the rain covers on, but they still eventually get soaked through well before my hour-long commute is over if it rains for the whole trip.

I would never rely on panniers that aren’t marketed as “Waterproof” to keep my stuff 100% dry, so I usually have plastic bags with me if I think it might rain. Still, It’s nice to have the water protection.

Enter: Coleman Pro-Techt water repellent.

I originally picked this up to re-seal my backpacking tent before going on a delightful S24O last weekend. There was plenty of water repellent left over, so I finished off the can by re-sealing my panniers and rain covers this evening. Fabric water repellent can be found at most sporting goods and discount stores near the camping supplies. Depending on the chain, there may be a few different brands available. I’ve had good luck using silicone water repellent sprays like this one, though.

Before I started, I hung my panniers over the back of some patio chairs and stretched the rain covers over a pair of 5-gallon buckets. You have to do this outdoors, as the water repellent creates fumes much like spray paint. These sprays can slightly change the color of fabrics (it darkened my backpacking tent a little) so if this bothers you, test the sealant on the back of the panniers or somewhere else that won’t get on your nerves. When you’re sealing, make sure to adequately cover the entire surface, or you’ll end up with leaks.

After that, you should allow the items to dry in a well-ventilated area. You may also choose to use a seam sealing solution as well. This is a liquid that applies kind of like a watery school glue with a stiff brush to help you push it into the seams. It provides additional waterproofing to the seams of your bags and rain covers. McNett’s Seam Grip is a brand I’ve used in the past for tent seams.

What’s awesome is that these sealants work on many different kinds of fabrics, so you can just as easily make your duffel, backpack, or messenger bag a little more water resistant. You could even try your cycling shoes!

Putting it to the test.  After the repellent spray dried, I misted my bags with water to see how they would react. I’d call it a success!

N Plus One

I figure it’s about time to make my inaugural mark on Bike Commuters. I’ve been a busy, busy guy lately without a lot of time to sit down and write much of anything. I use my bike to get to work every day, where my job involves information security and other IT geekery.

Redundancy is a major part of information technology. “N Plus One” means that you should always have one more of something than what you need, so long as it’s practical. In terms of bicycling, you don’t have to carry a spare everything with you, but it might be wise to keep a few spare parts on hand at home or in the office drawer.

You wouldn’t embark on a cross-country road trip in your car without a spare tire, would you? And how much help would the spare tire be if you didn’t know how to change the tire, or didn’t have the tools and a jack to get the old wheel off and the new one on?  For those of us who rely on our bikes to get us around town, carrying stuff to fix common failures is a good idea. Usually, that means a patch kit, some way to inflate the tires, and some tools. My essentials all tuck nicely into the wedge pack under my seat, and I include a spare inner tube as well. It’s lightweight and packs small. Knowing how to use these tools and supplies is equally important, though.

I got to thinking about redundancy on Friday night. While I was camping at a nearby lake, the bulb in my trusty Mini-Mag bit the dust. Mag Instruments packs a spare bulb in the tail cap of their flashlights, so it was no big deal at all. That’s the kind of redundancy I like!

N Plus One

N Plus One: a spare bulb included!

While a Mini-Mag is not very good to see the road with when compared to my 15W halogen, any light that can mount to a bicycle is better than nothing at all if you find yourself riding in the dark. Most stick-style flashlights can be rigged up easily with a rubber band. Carrying a whole spare bicycle light around is perhaps a little bit ridiculous. Using a flashlight in a pinch isn’t quite as strange, assuming you have a flashlight with you all the time.

You do carry a flashlight all the time, right?  What else do you “carry just in case?”