Biking Kentucky

Biking Kentucky

Biking in Kentucky is something that at first did not come to my mind.  Then I went to visit a good friend of mine – someone I have known since I was 14!  Yes, indeed, it is great to have the ability to stay connected with your classmates from high school and be able to visit and spend time together…But enough of the touch and feely stuff – let’s get back to the topic…

I have always associated Kentucky with horses, horse races of course, and tons of beautiful farms with endless bluegrass covered meadows.  Well, since my visit earlier this week, I now know that this state also offers great opportunities for enjoying the rolling hills, horse farms, and yes, biking!

Kentucky Biking

 

Here are a bunch of photos I took during the week of Thanksgiving to help you see the opportunities to have some great rides – in this particular case in the Lexington area.

Kentucky Lexington Biking

Kentucky Horse Country biking road

Kentucky Lexington Biking

Just outside Lexington

Kentucky Lexington Biking

Lexington bike road view

Kentucky Lexington Biking

Near by Lexington Horse Farms

Kentucky Lexington Biking

Biking road – near Lexington

 

Gifts for Bike Enhusiasts

Gifts for Bike Enthusiasts

The holidays are approaching fast and with that the great time of shopping for gifts for the bike enthusiasts in your circle of friends.  Shopping can be fun – when you have a clear idea of what you want to find – i.e. what your friends and family would like.  Sometimes, though it is pretty stressful to come up with the right ideas so I decided to attempt a quick help list – with ideas that may resonate with you.

The list I have in mind is comprised of tools, bike gloves, bike helmet, bike bottle and bottle cages, may be even some shoes and apparel…and if you really know the person you want to buy the gift for – may be even some bike suggestions.

How did I come up with the ideas – mostly through my personal experience of what I would like to get and use when on the bike trail…. Your desires may be different, hence ignore my list if it does not match your expectations.   Please give me some feedback via the comments page – I would like to hear what are your ideas…

Here we go with the list:

  1. Bottle cage:  This is always useful on those long bike rides.  I often ignore the water bottle and always feel that I made a mistake when I do that.  So having a good lightweight, easy to get the bottle in and out cage is a good addition to your bike.  Here are some links to products you can find easily on Amazon….  and here is a link to an interesting product from King Cage
  2. Tools for quick access to adjustments on your bike.   I always carry some patches for my inner tubes and it is good to have also some allen wrenches and quick bike tools.  Here are some options – again easy to purchase&nbsp and another one  The Fix It Sticks are a very versatile toolset that is both very helpful on the trail as well as one that stores and mounts easily on your bike.  The tool attaches in a mount that fits under the bottle cage on your bike so it is conveniently located and out of the way during your ride.  The tool is comprised of two lightweight sticks that combine into a T-handle Tool for ease of use and leverage. There are six variations of the Original Fix It Sticks: Standard Set A, Standard Set B, Roadie Set A, Roadie Set B, Mountain Set, and SRAM Set. Each set comes with four permanently installed bits.  Check out the FixItSticks Web site for more info
  3. Bike Helmet – Yes! you do need one.  Speaking from personal experience, having taken a spill multiple times over the years of riding, the helmet is absolutely important.  It could save you a lot of headaches – literally!   You could spend a lot or less but by all means you must have a helmet.  Here are some options to consider – starting with the tried and true Giro and then going into a platform –  Lazersport which actually offers a helmet that can be integrated with a bunch of different accessories:  

                                   Enjoy your shopping!

 

Even Argus Has Issues Though

Argus Has Issues

I have been using and reporting on various biking software / Smart Phone Apps to record my exercise and measure various vital statistics while riding my mountain bike.

My bike itself has been outfitted with several brackets / attachment modules so I can install both specific sets of iPhone cases with my iPhone 6 Plus as well as more generic ones.

On top of the iPhone then I run different apps to track my activity.  Argus is one of them I just reviewed and was pretty happy with as a exercise tracking aspect of it but now have discovered a bit of annoying feature / capabilities.

Argus mountain bike and other exercise traker

The Annoying Feature…! I just exercised and am being reminded nevertheless

The image above shows the front screen of my iPhone (not the only time you see the notifications) – and according to it I need to go workout – e.g. ride my bike.  One problem though – I just returned from a bike ride using the Argus SW for tracking my bike ride….So you would think that the Application designer would consider that and update the clock being used for the reminders….Go figure!!!

ARGUS – Another Useful iPhone Application for Your Bike

Argus

An updated review of Argus.  I continue to test iPhone applications that help you measure and track your physical activity.  There are a number of applications you can use – some more robust and useful then others.  I have a number of them reviewed at least to some extent in the summary round up found here. Over the last 1 year! I have been using two of them specifically – ARGUS (I am using the free version of the application) and Runtastic Mountain Bike Pro (I paid for this one)

The good news is that these two applications – both of which I find useful and good to use – are measuring the bike riding activities I do in a relatively similar way!  This is good.  I have tried both the road bike and mountain bike functions.  And surprisingly – the two applications do well as they measured close enough the distance, speed, and calories for the rides

I like the Argus application – it is well done with a good linkage between keeping track of your various forms of exercise and ability to see it all on one screen.  One issue I see – the notion of entering the food you consume is very tedious – and I do not understand what is up with the option to take a photo of your food…. WHY?  So if Argus can fix that – I will like this up even more ūüôā

Side note:  a link to some good bike trail photos…Enjoy!

 

 

iPhone 6/6S Plus Mounting on a Bike

iPhone 6/6S Plus

iPhone 6 6S Plus Mountcase with Armor Guard TigraiPhone 6/6S Plus options for mounting on a bicycle…

I have been using my iPhones with a mountain bike ever since my iPhone 4.  Needless to say I value two key factors in figuring out options for how to mount the phone on my bicycle:

  • How sturdy, protective and safe is the mount for the phone
  • How easy is it to operate the phone – to attach it to the bike when you are ready for a ride and using the phone while riding

With those in mind, I have tried several options over the years.  You can read about those in previous postings. For the last year or so I have been using the Tigra MountCase Magnum   Рthe setup on my mountain bike is seen in the photo below Рmy iPhone 6/6S Plus.

Mountain Bike iPhone 6/6S Plus Case and Mounting Bracket

One specific item that made it a preferred choice for me (at least) is the ease of attaching the iPhone once you are ready to go biking..The phone has a good solid back in its mounting case due to the metal frame — see below

iPhone 6 6S Plus Mountcase with Armor guard Tigra

When the phone is assembled you are ready to just clip it into the bike mount.  The bike mount is actually installed in the stem of your bike so is very solid and provides a good stable attachment for your phone.   The whole setup is shown in the image below.

iPhone 6 6S Plus Mountcase with Armor Guard TigraNow, I have noticed some small quirks with the Tigra mount case Рthe one that you may to try for yourself is how your headphones attach to the headphone jack on the iPhone once it is in the Tigra case.  I have some headphones which are no problem, but others with shorter jacks have a looser connection which tends to disconnect from the iPhone if you are going on a rough trail.

Overall the setup of the Tigra MountCase Magnum is good – I like the convenience of how quickly you can attach and disconnect the phone from the mounting point.

Next posting I will review the Tigra with Rubberized Rain Guard that also attaches in the same setup on your bike…

Bontrager Mustang 29 Tubeless Wheels

Bontrager Mustang 29

Trek Bontrager Mustang Mountain Bike 29-inch Tubeless WheelsWhat is the issue with Bontrager Tubeless Mountain bike wheels?

I have been riding on my Trek X-Caliber 29er mountain bike for a couple of years now (I bought the bike in July 2014).  I have a review of the bike in a couple of postings here.  Since then I have had some interesting (not so pleasant) experience with the wheels and inner tubes on the bike.

After one year of riding, I started getting flats / tube punctures on a regular basis. ¬†I even reached a point at time when I was getting one per week (mostly weekend riding). ¬†That was rather unusual, but I decided that I need to learn to patch tubes fast as I would discover the flat as the Murphy Law goes, always right before a bike ride on a Saturday morning….

So after several months, both my front a rear tubes were a like a quilt ūüôā – not a happy situation for real. ¬†Then things escalated. ¬†A month ago, I reached a point where on a Saturday morning I patched both the front and rear tubes of my bike, and assembled the wheels. ¬†I was really displeased when the front wheel started losing air before I even put it back on the bike.

Trek Bontrager Mustang Mountain Bike 29-inch Tubeless WheelsThat was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back – I knew something was wrong with the rims as after I carefully inspected the insides of the tires, I could not find any sharp object that may have act as something that would puncture the tires.

At that point in time, I jumped in my SUV with the wheels of the Trek bike in my trunk and drove off to the Bike Shop.

To give credit where it is due, the maintenance person at the Austin Bicycle Sport Shop immediately identified the problem Рthe spokes of the wheels were sticking too much into the rim of the wheels.  Based on his assessment the wheels needed some additional tape to cover the ends of the spokes so they do not poke on the inner tube.



Lessons learned: ¬†If you are buying tubeless ready wheels, and you are planning to use inner tubes, make sure you have enough coverage over the spoke ends on the rims to make sure they are not going to be puncturing the inner tubes…!

Texas September Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking in the Texas Fall

Well, we are thinking about the Fall.  Even-though, according to official records and if according to the recognized norm, the Fall is still several days away.  Nevertheless the Texas mountain biking scene is picking up steam.

There are new bike shops sprouting around the city — that tells you about the growing popularity of biking in this great city and State;

Then there are the great flowers and views along the bike trails,   Here is a sampling of those views as captured by my trusted iPhone:

Texas Wild Flowers Texas-Austin Strange dogs,

something that looks like a wild version of the morning glory

These flowers were all over along the bike trail along Barton Creek

 

 

 

Texas Beauty Berry

Very interesting and colorful plant….Interesting to see

 

 

 

Here is the collage of the some of the photos – for a quick view – then later on the blog post I will get some of the individual photos showing so you can appreciate the rich ecosystem of Texas in the late summer — especially this year — rather than getting a burnt outdoors this year we have tons of rain and as a result the fields are green and there are tons of wild flowers.

texas Collors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USA AUSTIN BARTON CREEK TRAILSo one thing to remember though – you absolutely have to enjoy the great outdoors but you also have to remember, the summer is still in full swing here and temperatures are high – i.e. carry plenty of water on your ride…. Take a look at the photo below – that is you environment!

Bike Highways – Mega Cities Investing in Bicycle Infrastructure

Bike Highways

Over the last century or so, the world and its cities have spent trilions of dollars on automotive related highways.  The interstate highway system in the US or the autobahns in Germany are example of engineering greatness Рcreating efficient and very convenient (for cars and trucks) roadway system.

Now we have examples of significant investment going into biking infrastructure in big metro areas.

  • Paris: investing approximately $164M to build a 28-30 mile highway for bicycles;
  • Atlanta: pledging to invest $1B over the next 25 years into biking and walking infrastructure in order to make the city more liveable

The Paris plan is being described in the article by CityLab and per that article hopefully it will get completed.¬†¬† From personal experience – Paris desperately needs the bicycles as the congestion in the city is pretty bad.¬† I remember spending hours stuck in traffic trying to leave the city on the way to near by towns and then come back in the evening…

Atlanta is no different — yes, it needs the plan and its results…Here is more on it

Well, check them out and encourage your local communities to do the same…

Beat Jet-lag – Shanghai to Bike Trail in 24 Hours

Beat Jet-lag

How to beat jet-lag? ¬†Well folks I firmly believe that biking is a cure to it all – yes, to JET-LAG…at least…Last night I flew into Austin (landed at ABIA around 9:40pm) after a 10-day trip to China. ¬†Mind you air travel has become easier over the years – a trip that used to take me 27-30 hours leaving home in Austin and getting to my destination in one of the major metro areas in China or doing the reverse, is now taking about 7-8 hours less. ¬†The reasons for that are many – one of them are the increase in direct flights between various points in the US and China leveraging the new fuel efficient Boeing 787-Dreamliner.

Dallas-Boeing-Dreamliner-B787¬†The plane is able to move a large number of passengers very efficiently and with relatively good comfort even in the dreaded “Economy” class…

As a result, I left Shanghai Pudong airport on a late afternoon flight bound for DFW and by 4:30pm on that same Saturday (Oh, the wonders of time zones — I left Shanghai and landed in Dallas what it seems only a few minutes later vs. the actual 14 hour flight). ¬† Even after American airlines managed to screw up my connecting flight to Austin due to the lack of a 3rd flight attendant, I was able to switch to another Austin bound flight at a later time and finally by 9:40pm landed in Austin.

My first action upon landing was to promise myself that Sunday morning will be taken by a bike ride on my Trek X-Caliber – the intent to beat jet lag as quickly as possible.

Barton-Creek-West-TrailAnd that is what I did РI was on the bike on the trail by 8am Рprobably should have come out earlier given the heat and humidity of Texas at this time of the year but better late then never I guess;   The trail seemed tougher than usual Рwhy?  because after 10-days of hopping from city to city, business meetings and all, I was out of shape!

Nevertheless I huffed and I puffed but I made the 11-mile trek in 1-hour and 15 minutes and along the way as usual, saw tons of interesting blooming flowers and the countless number of cactus…. The trek is tiring but the beauty of Texas nature is well worth the effort. ¬†After the urban jungle of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Suzhou – the Texas single track trail is a welcome escape…. Here are some more photos from the ride this morning…

Beat Jet-Lag Texas-Biking-TrailsBeat Jet-Lag Texas-Trails-Flowers

 

 

Mountain Bike Deals Coming…

Mountain Bike Deals – New Models with Aggressive Pricing Coming

2017 may actually become the year when mountain bike deals come calling and …you do not have to sell one of your cars in order to get into a performance and feature rich mountain bike from a well recognized brand / bike designer. ¬†If we use the recent announcement by Marin Bikes, which may be a precursor of what is to come in the 2017 model year, we may have a great, fun filled (read kid in a candy store) year of selecting competitively priced performance bikes

Marin-Bikes-Hawk-HillHere is what Marin Bikes just announced:

  • Pretty Good Pricing $1500, which gets you
  • The same frame as the Series¬†3 6061 alloy frame with light weight and added stiffness
  • This is similar frame to the hardtail Indian Fire Trail 7.8 – a $2419 but the new model also adds new capabilities – e.g. the rear air shock;
  • Additional info: ¬†Wide-range 1×10-speed drivetrain with Shimano Deore Shadow Plus rear derailleur and 11-42t cassette; Deore shifter
  • The bike comes with double-wall alloy rims w/27mm inner width, wrapped in Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5‚ÄĚ x 2.35‚ÄĚ tires
  • The front fork is a 120mm travel air shock; and then as stated earlier you have the rear shock as well;
  • The only potential issue some of you may find is the use of 27-in wheels rather the 29er approach;

All in all a potential good sign for promising prices to come  Рmountain bike deals are coming