BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: bike commuting

Bicycle Bash By The Bay — November 4th

It’s coming up: the second annual Bicycle Bash By The Bay. It will be at the Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg on November 4th. Here, just check out the flyer:

banner

www.bikecommuters.com will be there with a table this year, and we’re getting some giveaway items (t-shirts, stickers, waterbottles) from our good friends KHS Bicycles. With a little luck, we’ll have a set or two of Sweetskinz tires to raffle off, too.

If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, come on by and say hello! There will be all sorts of bike-related vendors, and lots of yummy food from local eateries, BMX demos and bicycle collections to drool over. And, if you come to our table, you can lay eyes on the legendary “Patriot” bicycle in person! If you’re really nice and ask politely, I might even let visitors ride it…as long as I can snap a photo of you while you’re aboard!

The Patriot

We’d like to thank KHS Bicycles and Sweetskinz in advance for helping us have a presence at this event — and we appreciate your continued support.

So, everyone, come on by — it should be a blast!

One Bad-ass Lunchbox

This has very little to do with bicycle commuting, but the other day my wife bought me a truly BAD-ASS lunchbox that I just had to share with you. For folks who have traveled abroad, you may recognize it as an Indian “tiffin box”, designed to carry multiple courses of a lunchtime meal, or multiple servings of the same meal for a number of people.

Badass lunchbox

Basically, it is two stainless steel bowls with a separating plate — and a lid for the small bowl. The whole thing clamps together with a hinged carrier and integrated carrying handle, keeping everything together. In the above picture, I have my “Russ Roca-approvedtitanium spork wedged under the clamp.

Here’s what the lunchbox looks like when it’s separated — sorry, I ate everything inside. You’ll have to look at your own lunch!

unpacked

The whole contraption (with carrying handle) is about 10″ tall, and the two bowls hold PLENTY of food (RL, I’m thinking of you and your “super-buffet” appetite!). Two drawbacks, though. First, it isn’t liquid-tight (like Tupperware), so it must be carried upright. Second, it’s heavy. Empty, the thing weighs about a pound. For me this is no big deal, since the bike I carry it on weighs about 50 lbs. What’s another pound between friends?

The lunchbox sits on top of my rear rack, or sometimes I slip it into one of the panniers — it’s small enough to fit and still leave room for other goodies. I just throw a bungee cord over it when it’s on the rack and it stays in place.

Ready to roll

My wife found this box on a website called Reusablebags.com, which also sells lots of products made out of sustainable and/or recycled materials, if that’s your bag…ha ha. While we were shopping there, we also bought our son an insulated lunchbag made out of recycled soda bottles…keeping 10 2-liter bottles out of landfills. Yeah!

Tool-less Bicycle Repairs?

The other day, Moe and were talking about an article idea: presenting ways to repair common bicycle breakdowns without tools. If you were stranded out in the middle of nowhere without tools, could you fix a broken derailleur, repair a flat tire, reconnect a broken chain? It sounded like a great idea for an article — tips that could be QUITE useful in an emergency.

After some research, though, we found very little to go on…

Take a broken or damaged derailleur — while it might be possible to “massage” a bent cage or hanger back into place without tools, what about if the derailleur is completely trashed, or you snap a cable out in the wilds? If you had a screwdriver, you could turn the high/low adjustment screws enough to force the derailleur to stay in one place, resulting in a rideable (if not exactly comfortable) singlespeed configuration that could get you back to civilization. Without a screwdriver or knife blade to turn those screws, though, you’re dead in the water…

Same with a broken chain — without SOME kind of tool, connecting a broken chain is virtually impossible. You must have a way to punch out the pins in the chain to remove a mangled section or to get the chain ready to lash together with a piece of wire. Back in the old days, before I had amassed a large collection of bicycle tools, my friends and I would use a finishing nail and a hammer to drive the pins in and out. In a pinch, I suppose you could use a nail or similar sharp piece of metal and a fist-sized rock to pound in a pin and bind the two broken ends of the chain with a piece of wire looped through the links’ pin holes. But, this qualifies as still needing tools. Strike two for our great idea!

I did manage to find a couple tool-less wheel and tire repair tricks, though. Master tinkerer, expert ratrod builder and funny guy Gerry Lauzon of Montreal has a nice tutorial on fixing a taco-ed rim on his blog.

Another trick (one which I hope to never have to try) is one I saw in Barbara Savage’s excellent Miles From Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure…at least that’s where I think I remember seeing it! Anyway, she got a flat tire out in the wilds somewhere, and she wound up stuffing clothing into the tire to replace the tube. That made the bike rideable enough that she could keep going until she reached a place where she could properly fix her tube.

Finally, a lot of people know that gashes in a tire’s sidewall can be repaired temporarily (or even permanently) by a piece or two of duct tape. Did you know that a folded dollar bill or an empty Powerbar wrapper also work excellently as emergency tire boots?

I guess the moral of this story is don’t travel without tools. At minimum, carry a patch kit and tire levers, a pump, a small screwdriver and a set of hex keys. There are plenty of multitools on the market that have all the tools you might need (including chain tools on several models) to facilitate an emergency roadside repair. If you insist on traveling light and don’t want to carry any tools, at least bring a cellphone with you so you can call for help when (not if) you get stranded.

And, if any of you have had to “MacGyver” any emergency repairs, we’d love to hear about ’em. Leave those stories and tips in the comment section below.

Alternatives to the Safety Flag

A few weeks back, we posted a review of a safety flag…and while the device worked well, a number of our readers commented that it might be too dorky or ineffective for their uses.

The safety flag in question:
D-Tour safety flag

Those comments got us thinking: what could be some good alternatives to this flag? We came up with a couple novel ideas that we wanted to share. Let’s head to the Bikecommuters.com Secret Laboratory, located in the hooker-infested wastelands of central Tampa, to see what we came up with!

The secret lab

Mad scientist and all-around great guy Noah came up with our first alternative. It is still a flag, but we GUARANTEE that this will draw far more attention than some puny, fluorescent flag — here it is:
Noah's pirate flag
This flag creates a tremendous racket when flown — the flag flaps in the breeze, the pole clanks and rattles. It sounds, well, like a pirate ship! We’ve found that this flag is most effective if some verbal invective is used simultaneously…you know, “Avast, ye scallywags, give me some space or I’ll SWAB THE DECK with ya!!!”

Our next alternative was created just after Florida passed their “step in the right direction, but unenforced” 3-foot passing rule. This alternative provides both a visual passing distance indicator as well as a text-based indicator. Here it is:

Friendly side

Had a rough day and don’t feel so charitable? Well, this alternative is reversible…just unscrew the two bolts and flip this badboy over to let motorists know how you REALLY feel:
Not so friendly

There you have it — two alternatives that might make you feel a bit less dorky and keep you VERY visible to motorists. That’s how we roll at the Bikecommuters.com Secret Laboratory…coming up with great solutions to all your commuting problems!!!

Thanks to my homie, Terry, for allowing me to plunder his collection of yardsticks.