BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: bicycle commuting

Late to Work: Biking in my Dreams!

Do you ever have a commute where you get to work and wonder, Is this real life!?”  I DO.  I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up uber late to work today, rolling in at an embarassing 1:10pm!  Not to say that I arrive at the dark box of drudgery and sadness (a.k.a. office with no windows) any earlier than 9:30am on a regular M-F… but today was different.  Caught between a nightmare of angry drivers and a dream of ukulele bike advocacy, I thought “Dr. Toothenstein must have gone overboard with the Novocaine yesterday.”  Either that, or now I’m biking in my dreams too.

Fruit!

Gramps keeps it real, he's my posture coach.

My dream started out like this: I groggily flopped out of bed late with no time to shower OR shop for vegetables in Chinatown!  Grandpa yelled my name from the streets below as he waited for a ride on my handlebars over to the acupuncture lady.  We’re cruising down the narrow streets of C-town, as I wait in the middle lane to make a left turn.  Gramps and I are chillin’ completely innocent and unoffensive (well, except for maybe some strong B.O. since hygiene is not my forte), and the nightmare begins.  A jerk-bomb in a truck passes by in the far right lane and yells “Get the FAWK outta tha ROAD!” The truck passes by at full 5 mph (bad traffic makes yelling at cyclists then speeding away kinda hard!)  Gramps gets pissed and starts yelling in Cantonese and chasing the truck down.  Guess I don’t need to drop him off to acupuncture after all.

I call these scones "Forget-Me-Nows" - eat one and forget all bad juju from Jerk Bomb in Pick-up Truck!

I’m a bit stunned from the nightmare, but decide to just crank it out.  There’s only one way to repair the damages from a street-fire jerk bomb: Forget-Me-Now blueberry cream cheese scones from Diamonhead Market!  With nothing but scone on the brain, I zone out for the rest of my ride.  On the way there, I detour through Kapiolani Park.  It’s a beautiful day to take the scenic route to scones, and I  hear the voice of the executive director at HBL calling out my name!  I stop and pull over.

A royal shower tree

Kapiolani Park - a dreamy royal shower tree.

I’ve apparently entered into the Bike Advocacy dream sequence with this kinda hot n’ famous ukulele guy, Chad from HBL and a lady cop.  So much for scones, I guess it’s time to film a dreamy PSA with Jake Shimabukuro on how cyclists have the right to take the whole lane in Hawaii!

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After a couple of video takes, some sweet harmonious tunes, and awkward posing in my HBL tee… I start to think: maybe this isn’t a dream, this is REALITY!  And if it is, am I frackin’ sweaty and smelly.

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Well, whatever is happening here, I just can’t help but throw up a shaka for the camera!  Deputy lady cop so-n-so says “It’s the law!”

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How appropriate that my nightmare and dream revolve around the same theme:  cyclists have the right to take the whole lane if it’s too narrow to share with the car!  Seems Mr. Jerk-bomb is the perfect audience for this Public Service Announcement.  Let’s hope jerk-bomb and other drivers out there will listen up and share the road!  Until this PSA is published on the telly, I gotta go back to Chinatown and find Gramps…  Any of you riders out there have bike commuting nightmares to share?  How do you guys get over those nasty comments from drivers on your commutes?

(For the more literal readers out there, Mir.I.Am was intentionally late to work today to film a Public Service Announcement with Hawaii Bicycling League.  Coincidentally, she did get yelled at by a guy in a pick up truck, but no Grandpas were harmed in the writing of this post.  Blueberry cream cheese scones are baked pure deliciousness itself.  Oh god, they’re so good!)

Look What the Postman Brought in! Preview: LED by LITE System 36 Plus

LEDbyLITE

System 36 Plus Bike Light & Turnsignal Kit - Ultimate Blinky O-face.

WOOOOHOOOOOO!  Look out night riders, we have been ogling the LED by LITE Bike Light Kits since RL spotted them at Interbike last year! And we all know that a great set of blinky lights is a must-have for all ye Cycle Monsters out there bike commuting in the darkness.  The good people from LED by LITE (pronounced “lead by light” in case you were confused like me) have sent us a System 36 Plus demo kit to test out!  Let’s check out the obligatory cut and paste specs from their website, since I know I would be too lazy to browse the site for data if I were reading this post! (wink face):

System 36 Plus

Price:
$150.00
Weight:
2.00 LBS

This shows how the system works. The 48 System Plus is pictured, which has longer LED strips than the 36 System Plus we'll be testing.


Product Description

System 36 Plus

The LED By LITE bike light Systems include up to 36 state of the art, High Intensity LEDs to provide a cyclist with the most radiant 360 degree “to be seen” visibility. The LEDbike lights are encased in  flexible polyurethane/silicone straps making them waterproof and extremely durable.

The LED bike lights are powered by our BlackBox, a 12 Volt single cell Lithium Ion Battery Pack, which produces intense lighting without sacrificing run time. The technology of the microchip circuitry includes “dimming pulsating” modes, not blinking on and off. The BlackBox can be recharged with the wall adapter or from a computer using a micro USB cord.

The Plus of this system is our innovative LBL Wireless Dashboard.TM A wireless controller mounted on the handler bar controls both pulsation mode and directional turn indicator system. Your bicycle becomes a more relevant vehicle for the road. The LBL System 36 Plus improves your safety as a cyclist by illuminating your turning intentions and helping you to see and be seen.

  • Total of 36 LEDs front and rear
  • Weighs in at 250 grams
  • 12 Volt single cell Lithium rechargeable batterypack

Full Mode 3 hrs, Front on Rear Pulsating 4.5 hrs, Front and Rear Pulsating 6 hrs

  • Easy to detach cables, for quick system setup and break down
  • Wireless Dashboard: Turn on and off Pulsation and turn indicators

*Price subject to change after pre-sale ends

*Using your arm is still considered a universal turning signal

Blinky Light Lust!! I - I - I Lufff Eeet! <3

Thanks LED by Lite – shout outs to Salt Lake, UT! I love blinky lights more than robots that do chores for me! I think I might buy the postman a 6-pack of beer.  Until the review…!

Guest Article – The Best Bike Commuter Apps for your Smartphone

Hello Smartphone-using Bike Commuters of the world! For all of you who have data plans and phones with fun-fun apps for bike commuting, check out this guest article submitted by BikeCommuters.com reader, Jane Johnson .  Read on!

somewhat relevant photoshop madness presented by Mir.I.Am

Great apps to make your commute safer and more enjoyable

Bike commuting is a great way to be self-reliant, get in shape, and help the environment; and with music, GPS, and bike computer apps, smartphones can offer the “modern conveniences” of a car without the headache and expense. Whether you commute for ethics, exercise, or economics, these apps for Android and iPhone can make it easier and more fun.

1)  Endomondo (Android, iPhone)

This is a general fitness tracker app, but the cycling functionality is superb.  In addition to the basics that all the above apps track, Endomondo also monitors calories based on your reported fitness information. It also has support for external heart rate monitors, if you want to go crazy with it. Where this app really shines, though, is the social support to which it connects you. If you’re not competitive, it might not have much to offer you—but if the chance to beat your friends in endurance or speed challenges excites you, Endomondo’s a great way to get motivated. Get a couple buddies signed up, and compete to be the Champion of a given route or trail (sort of like being Mayor of a location on Foursquare), or try to top each other’s personal best. Like Cyclemeter, it also offers voice feedback as you reach milestones, and it tops this list because it’s comprehensive, attractive, and free.

2)  Bike Doctor (Android, iPhone)

This is a great repair primer for any bike commuter. If you depend on your bike to get to and from work, you’ll wear out parts faster than the average weekend warrior, and obviously you’ll be in a tougher spot if you have a breakdown. Fortunately, repairs on a typical workhorse road bike are relatively simple and inexpensive. With this app and a good multi-tool handy, you can walk through 24 of the most common repairs your bike might need, with step-by-step written instructions and a video tutorial. If you like the independence and affordability of commuting, this app can help you be even more self-reliant.

3)  Cyclemeter (iPhone)

If you commute for the fitness benefits, this app will help you better track and record your performance. It monitors your distance, elevation, and speed, with charts that map your performance over time. As your strength increases, you can watch your progress in speed and endurance—a powerful motivator to continue improving. Similar apps are abundant, but the kicker here is Cyclemeter’s safety feature: to keep your eyes on the road, you can set the app to make periodic voice announcements for anything you want to track—for instance, you might set it to report every mile traveled, or every five, or let you know when you’ve hit your target speed. If you’re not too out of breath, you can also request an update on the fly.

4)  Move! Bike Computer (Android)

This app is designed to make your smartphone a handlebar-mounted bike computer, with GPS, odometer, and speedometer in large, bold text so you can easily keep track at a glance (here’s an example of a cheap handlebar mount for LG phones). With your phone snapped into the mount, you’ve got constant access to the basics (speed, trip duration, distance traveled, etc.) as well as more specific readings like pace (in minutes per mile), idle time, total uphills and downhills, bearing, maximum speed, and more. It has attractive virtual gauges and an easy to use interface. The only real concern for this one is safety—it’s loaded with features, but wait till you’ve arrived to play around with it.

Bio: Jane Johnson is a writer for GoingCellular, a popular site that provides cell phone related news, commentary, reviews on popular providers like T-Mobile.

Thanks for submitting your article, Jane.  And to our readers, if you have used any of these apps, tell us what you think!  Any other Bike Commuter specific apps that are helpful, fun, or an absolute necessity on your daily rides?  Let us know in the comments box below.

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

Preview: Bontrager Funk Trunk – Party in a rack top bag!

Cooler and Tunes on the go!

Exciting news, me Bike Commuters!  Trek’s Bontrager Funk Trunk is in our line-up for product reviews.  To give you a preview here are some photos.  Looks like a fun bag for a picnic, trip to the beach, or mini-flash mobs and impromptu dance parties.  A cooler with a built-in speaker connection, this looks like it should be a fun one.  We’ll test this funky trunk out and get you the review just in time for the nice commuting Spring/Summer season.  Check out the pics:

photo 1

Lookin' good, with mini speakers!

photo 2

Just waiting for the good weather and a photo op at the beach!

Hang on to your bikes, weekend fun is just around the corner…  Catch you later, cycle gators.

Commuting in Jeans – Why I can’t be a hipster.

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BIKING IN JEANS! Do you do it?! Image Courtesy of Cycle Kyoto.

Helloha saucy  Bike Commuters!  Since it’s only Wednesday, I don’t know if this counts as a “Friday Musing” but we’ll post it anyway.  Let’s just say if you’ve been reading anything authored by Meeee.r.I.Am this past year, then you’ll know that you are headed down WTF road, and there’s no turning back – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I often joke with my family that I can never wear skinny/hipster jeans because I have a “calf-top” – that’s to say a pair of skinny jeans in my waist size can never make it up to my muffin top, because my calf top gets in the way!!!  My brother agrees, he too cannot fit a calf through a skinny jeans leg!  This has prompted today’s musing up for debate: Commuting in work clothes vs. packing them in a bag, or more specifically Commuting in Jeans. I don’t know how many of you out there have casual work environments where jeans are appropriate for a work day like Jack, but I do!  As a bike commuter and a more utilitarian fashion-person, there are several things to consider each morning when I dress OR pack my bag for work in the morning.  Let’s consider my inner monologue on any given work day:

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Me posing in my fave straight leg $35 jeans. With three pair sacrifices thus far to Bikelonius, I’ll be ready for some women’s Levi’s commuter jeans soon!

SLUM IT, OR JEAN IT!?

  1. Do I have any meetings first thing today? – Sometimes, if I am about to see a client upon arrival at the office.  In the morning, I’ll get dressed in office clothes first, make up etc., then ride “no-sweat speed” to avoid arriving in spandex or T-shirts with funny sayings on them only meant for commuting.  For me, “dressing” for work can mean jeans or business casual.  (Depende de… Numero 2!)

    LGRAB’s Dottie has got it down!

  2. What’s the weather like outside? – Of course, it’s been hot, showering, pouring, windy, and cold within the past few weeks of Oahu’s “Wimpy” winter.  If it’s wet butt commuter time, it’s jeans/dress clothes in the bag and Vanya chrome or anything quick dry on the bike.
  3. Laziness factor, do I really want to change clothes again?! – This one can go both ways, sometimes clean bike commuting outfit can double as PJs the night before (don’t call me a dirty hippie!) OR I can be too lazy to change at work and will therefore put on my jeans/dress and do the no-sweat speed thing to work.

    BIKELONIUS!!!

  4. Holes in my pockets factor: Sacrifice your jeans to the bike saddle gods? – Everyone has heard of  Bikelonius the greek god of bike commuters, who requires periodic denim sacrifices.  Whether it be chain grease smears, cuff snags, or inconvenient  and embarrassing holes in the lower saddle butt area, forcing the Bikelonians to make repeated pilgrimages to the scary Gap clearance rack/local thrift store/etc.  I have sacrificed three pairs of jeans to Bikelonius over the past 6 years.  Anyway, sometimes I don’t want to ruin my jeans so I’ll change clothes at work to avoid the holy butt scenario.

Got an extra $205 to spare? How about some Rapha Cycling Jeans?

Sometimes, it’s more convenient to show up in jeans and already be dressed.  Sometimes it’s worth the jeans-seam crotch pain if it’s a short ride.  And sometimes I wish I could be a hipster and fit my big-o-calves into some friggin’ skinny jeans so they don’t snag on the chainring!  (You gotta admit, skinny jeans or leggings ARE the best for snagless commutes!)  I dunno about you Cycle Gentlemen out there, but for Cycle Ladies, a commuter jean would need to be women-specific (AHEM! Listen up, Levi’s!) and bike specific before I would consider shelling out mas dinero for commuter pants…(Considering some of these “cycling lifestyle” jeans from SWRVE or osloh would cost me halfway to a new bike.)  Can you grind it out on your commute in a pair of your fave blues and roll up the cuffs?  Or would you rather stick to bike-specific/workout gear?