CIRCULUS : Ridin’ in Circles

In early 2010, Portland Design Works purchased one of the most interesting installations from a Pomona College student in Southern California… CIRCULUS.

Circulus is a 143 foot diameter, 45 degree banked, wooden mini-velodrome. When standing in the ‘in field’ of the track, it almost feels like you are standing in an enormous wooden salad bowl!

The track is currently housed within PDW’s Portland, Oregon warehouse – The Mothership. One if the perks of living in the fine city of Portland is I’ve had the opportunity to ride on Circulus. It is AMAZING!

This last Saturday evening, PDW & Yakima Products had an open invite for head to head racing on the track!

wide angle

PDW’s man in the field, Kevin “MURPH” Murphy came by the shop week ago to drop off the event flyer (shown above).

There was some discussion on what bikes were to be used for the event. The main concern was rider and spectator safety. If the bikes were geared too high, riders would be able to reach the top of the track too easily and chance launching off the track and out into the spectator area. If the bikes were geared too low, proper speeds would not be reached to keep the riders on the steep, 45 degree bank.

Upon arriving to the venue on Saturday night I was delighted to see bikes that had decent gearing and were low to the ground, in the off chance that if riders had to bail or crash, the fall would not be very bad.

The rigs

Open riding for the evening began at 6:30pm and racing began promptly at 8pm. The racing was MC’d by none other than Stevil Kinevil. Being a single elimination race, it was all or nothing for the racers. This was a pursuit style race. The race began with each competitor begining at opposite sides of the track from a dead stop on the infield floor. Each racer had to be up on the 45 degree banked track within 1/2 a lap. The object of the race was to complete 4 laps before your opponent or to catch the opposing racer in 4 laps or less.
Mens final 2
womens semi

Although adult refreshements were available from Hopworks Urban Brewery, racers were not allowed to drink them until AFTER their heat was completed, as this was a single elimination race format. If you were fortunate enough to advance, you were unfortunate enough to have to wait to enjoy a cold beer!

Having previous saddle time on Circulus, I gave it a go… Race testing the DZR District shoes.
DZR Test run

My wife raced the women’s event (yellow bike):

(Youtube video courtesy of Jonathan Maus/
Here is JMaus in action!

Here is video of the men’s final:

(Youtube video courtesy of nanobikerdotcom)

Music was thumping throughout the night courtesy of the always amazing DJ Amanda Sundvor
DJ Amanda Sundvor

The racing ended for the evening with two of the haunches at PDW, Erik and Murph going…. Beak to Beak??
Erik n Murph
two chickens

A big THANKS to the fine folks at PDW – Daniel “DPow” Powell, Erik Olson & Kevin “Murph” Murphy & Yakima for putting on a fantastic, fun filled event!

A special thanks goes to Mr. Dave Roth for allowing the use of his photographs of the event. You can view the entire evening captured in pixels here at

Poli-wonkies and Pants – a Bikely Update

Hello loyal, curious, or bored-at-work Bike Commuters readers!  Here to report from the island of Oahu is Mir.I.Am.  A couple of enthralling bikely updates are in order regarding two of everyone’s favorite bike-related topics:  A) Political two-wheeling and 2) Pants-wearing.

Disclaimer on Adulthood: When trying to balance adulthood, I frequently find myself writing lists to prioritize where I will spend my time.  Some recent lists of things that matter/hold my attention span for longer than 17 seconds:

Fist Pump for gettin' things DONE.

Fist Pump for gettin' things DONE.

Back to Two-Wheeled Mayoral Rides:

When I tried to insert meeting politicians for bike advocacy into the equation we end up with a list like this:

  1. Boyfriend
  2. Food
  3. Sleep
  4. Bike Stuff …

10.  Farmer’s Market
11.  Cartoons
12.  Meeting up with Politicians to talk about Bikes

13.  Tanks of Bullfrogs in Chinatown Markets

14.  Getting Dressed

As you can see, it took quite a while for me to come up with something more compelling than #13 (Meeting Politicians) , even though this particular event is involved in #5 (Bike Stuff) and #7 (Volunteering).  Tanks of bullfrogs were added to put things in perspective.  Actually, tanks of bullfrogs are pretty cool but they are a little icky especially knowing that they are being sold to Asians as food and not pets.  Getting dressed is worse than tanks of bullfrogs and politicians.

Tanks of Yumfrogs in Honolulu Chinatown

Needless to say, Chad Taniguchi (my apparent hanai bike step-dad of HBL) convinced me via email to volunteer to represent the HBL in a meeting with Mayor Peter Carlisle of Honolulu last week.  In some circles, meeting with politicians may be considered “advocacy”, which is leaps and bounds better than just promoting “awareness“.

We went over some policy wonkiness (a.k.a. poli-wonkies) as follows:

  • Mayor recognizes HBL is an active, large, diverse, responsible organization that can help Honolulu become a bike friendly city
  • Mayor is willing to work with HBL, support us publicly, including riding on a high profile ride
  • Mayor embraces vision for bike friendly Hawaii and is willing to have departments work together with HBL to make it so
  • Mayor supports Complete Streets ordinance and vulnerable users’ bill in principle; provides channel to work on it with HBL
  • Mayor is willing to meet with HBL again in 6 months

Oops, I missed the note to make a serious face.

A “great success!” resulted from our meeting with the Mayor, in that he agreed to ride with HBL this Sunday for the Zach Manago Ride in Paradise, a two-day ride around the island in support of bike safety on Oahu.  Surf Mayor Peter Carlisle will join us at the beginning of the ride from the State Capitol to Waikiki – on a loaner bike despite sarcastic complaints of his pants needing a squishy seat.  Although poli-wonky advocacy is not my favorite type (see “how-to” on profuse hand-waving technique from my original commuter profile), this one turned out pretty good.

On to Pants:

Speaking of pants… Review coming up soon for these amazing Chrome Vanya Knickers that arrived in the mail yesterday!  (Cue pants fanfare…)  As you can see from the above list of adulthood priorities, “pants” falls under the category of #14: Getting Dressed, not one of my favorite activities in the land of bikinis.

Vanya Knickers - you shall house my lower half for the ZMRIP ride this weekend.

Vanya Knickers - you shall house my lower half for the ZMRIP ride this weekend. Thanks Chrome!

As far as clothing goes, I can say that it’s pretty enjoyable to be inside these knickers like an Anchorman Pants Party!  I plan to ride/sweat in them for a solid 20-30 miles on Sunday during the Zach Manago Ride in Paradise.    Passing on the sham-crotch-spando wear in favor of pants that actually looks like, well, PANTS!

Until next time, or until I get a real camera so I can show an updated photo of my awesome 3M ruban reflechissant as well as said pants in action, please enjoy the following scan:

On a day with a more sturdy xerox machine, I would have put them on and scanned my butt, but this is probably less obscene. Vanya Pants Scan!

We shall see if pants-worthy political advocacy moves up on the list of adulthood priorities after the Sunday ride – to my Hawaii Bike Commuters, see you this weekend!  Later, Cycle-gators.

DZR GMT-8 Urban Cycling Shoe review


I’m a simple type of guy when it comes to shoes; no fancy Nikes or Reeboks that have gels or springs and cost over 100 bucks. I’m a Vans guy — I’ve been wearing them since high school. Cool thing is, Vans haven’t gone out of style, they are inexpensive and they come in hundreds of styles. So when RL told me that he had some shoes for me to test that have the same style as Vans shoes AND are SPD compatible, I got excited.


So here they are, these are the DZR GMT-8 Urban Cycling Shoes. Check them out, they are beautiful and simple. The DZR GMT-8 have nifty details such the reflective rear badge, chain link sole and two- tone design.


Before I installed the cleats, I wore the shoes for a couple weeks, I wanted to see how comfortable they felt and wanted to break them in. The shoes fit me just right, their width was adequate for my feet and I didn’t feel any funny bumps on the bottom of my feet. These shoes are outright comfortable.


Installing the Cleats was a straight forward process. I simply cut out the plastic cover, screwed in the cleats and I was ready to rock. Notice how the cleat does not protrude at all, this means no click-clack noise that is incredibly annoying when you wear standard road shoes. I was concerned that the comfort level was going to change after I installed the cleats, I’m happy to report that installing the cleats did not change any of the comfort characteristics of this shoes. They are still super comfy.

So how did the DZR GMT-8 perform as a road shoe? Right off the bat I had a few concerns; the long laces, the white toe area and the softness at the top of the shoe.


The shoe lace concern proved to be wrong, I never had issues with the laces getting tangled on the crank while pedaling. I did make sure that my shoe laces were quite tight.

The white area of the shoes got quite dirty thanks to all the riding and walking I did in them. If you like your shoes looking like new, you are going to have to clean them often.

The DZR GM-8 shoes provide adequate stiffness on the sole area, you could easily forget that you are riding with cleats. But if you are a roadie or if you use road cycling shoes you will notice something off about the DZR GMT-8 shoes; the shoes lack stiffness on the upper area. Although this makes the DZR GMT-8 shoes quite comfortable, they do sacrifice power transfer while pulling on the pedal stroke. This is not a big deal for non Cat 6 commuters but if you are looking for these shoes to be high performance road shoes, they are not.

What this shoes are, these are awesome shoes for those bike commuters who don’t want to carry extra shoes but must ride with cleats. The shoes look great on and off the bike (just leave your TdF lycra kit at home) and they are very comfortable on and off the bike as well.

With a price point of $85.00, I consider the shoes to be a good value due to their versatility and comfort. I highly recommend them.

DZR offers more styles and colors of shoes , please visit their website at for more information.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Review: Giro Surface Helmet

Over the past several years, a number of bicycle helmet manufacturers have added more urban-friendly lids to their lineups…in colors ranging from understated to 100% funky. Urban cyclists were growing tired of wearing racing- or racing-inspired helmets and wanted something with a more polished look…or they wanted something that really expressed their individualities with bright colors and patterns.

The kind folks at Giro Helmets contacted us a few weeks ago and offered to send us their take on the urban helmet — the new “Surface” model — to check out.


As you can see, it’s rather “skateboard lid” in styling, with a gently rounded shape and a short brim. Volume-wise, it’s fairly massive; about 1/3 larger overall than a similarly-sized Nutcase helmet in my collection. The Surface helmet comes in a variety of colors from mild to wild…Giro didn’t offer me a color choice, but the matte titanium-finished sample they sent me was just the color I would have chosen — understated and rather classy. And, on first glance, the helmet vaguely reminded me of the helmets worn by Imperial Scout Troopers in Return of the Jedi. As a lifelong Star Wars nerd, I can live with that!

On the outside, the helmet is simple: the aforementioned short brim, four vents up top and two in back. Inside, the padding and suspension system is very much like their racing helmets…sweat-wicking pads and the excellent In-Form System that consists of the suspension and a rotating dial that allows up to 6cm of adjustability. This helmet is easily adjustable…from fitting to my freshly-shaven head to the fleece helmet liner I wear on cool days and all the way up to the helmet liner/wool balaclava combination I wear on truly frigid workdays. A quick spin of the ratcheting dial adjusts the helmet so that it fits snugly without tipping or rocking. Thumbs up!

Here’s a look at the back of the helmet and dial:


Ventilation is adequate — although I haven’t tested the Surface on a truly warm Florida day, which to me is the real make-or-break test for a helmet. If I had to guess, I’d say that the Surface is probably a lot like other skate-styled helmets on the market…a bit stifling on a hot day. There’s room up front for a couple of discreet vents, and that’s something I’d like to see. Coupled with the internal channeling and the existing vents, a couple more small ones would definitely help. Not all is lost, though: I DID notice that the brim helps bring some breeze into the front of the helmet. We’ll see how this helmet does as Florida’s springtime temperatures ramp up.

Interior channeling and pads:

The straps are made of a soft nylon.. no bells or whistles here, just a simple quick-release buckle and sliding strap adjusters like on most other helmets. The straps feel nice against my skin, at least.

Has anyone ever complimented you on your helmet? Yeah, me neither…but a few friends and riding partners have made fun of my patriotic-themed Nutcase. Well, that all changed when I started wearing the Surface to work. I’ve had three coworkers compliment me out of the blue on my helmet…and they even appeared serious about it! Will this helmet make you look dashing and debonair? Perhaps not, but at least it doesn’t scream SPORTING EQUIPMENT the way a racing helmet might. And, by carefully choosing the color, this Surface could pass for “office casual”; it doesn’t clash with my work wardrobe, in any case.


Because of its overall size, the Surface is rather heavy. That can be a drawback for some. I can be sensitive to heavier helmets but the Surface hasn’t bothered me too much because it fits so securely.

So, the helmet isn’t perfect — I have concerns about warm-weather ventilation and the overall size and weight might not appeal to everyone. Otherwise, though, the Giro Surface is a nice helmet…the adjustability alone tips things over to the positive side… and is worth considering if you’re in the market for an urban bike helmet. Check out Giro’s many other offerings by visiting their website.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.