Austin Biking in November

How is biking in Austin in November?  Cold?  Warm?  Well, turns out November is as usual a great month to explore Austin and the Hill Country with a mountain bike.   To prove my observations I have decided to co-opt a blog entry from one of my other blogs

BartonCreek Fall2014 e1417155048824 300x101 Austin Biking in November

IMG 2418 e1417155453316 300x110 Austin Biking in November

Here is the link to the article


Beijing by Bicycle: University Run

Beijing is a city famous for many things – one of them being its circle of universities.  Those include Qinghua, Beida, among many others.  So one good use of sightseeing time is to jump on your bicycle and explore those place in a good pace.  Here is a recommended trail for your exploration activity:

Start at Wudaokou Bridge Cafe (Address: 海淀区成府路35号华清嘉园12号楼) on the map below I have put a circle around the general area and a green balloon identified it on the Google map of Beijing.  From here you can bike along Chengfu Road and turn right on Zhongguancun East Road heading mostly North.  Bike along this road until you hit Tsinghua (QingHua DaXue – 清华大学)

BeijingHaidianQu2 300x143 Beijing by Bicycle: University Run


You can bike around the university – go by various sports courts and interesting buildings of the various departments.  Eventually you need to find JinChun Lu and the Physics Tower and from there the JinChun Lake.  Then continue on Qinghua South Road until you come to ChengFu Road again.   You will turn right on ChengFu Road headed west towards BeiDa (北大 — Beijing University)

Soon enough you will encounter the East Gate of Beijing University (北京大学东门) – enter here and keep going West.  Soon enough you will see the University Library, then you will search for Weiming Bei Lu and here you will find a way to get to the Weiming Lake.  Then if you would like you can stop here and admire the serenity and beauty of the lake, flowers and plants….Or you can decide that you would like to explore more in which case, continue West and search for the West Gate of Beida on Yiheyuan Lu.

Then bicycle North and search for Qinghua Xi Lu near by from where you can continue and find the Yuanmingyuan – The Old Summer Palace.

This is probably enough of exploration for one day.   Now, how do you return the bike etc.?  Well, I advise a taxi icon smile Beijing by Bicycle: University Run  or based on your situation – a friend or bike back to your original destination.

Let me know with any ideas on this guide.  Hopefully it will be useful for you.  I will continue with another one next day or so.

Beijing by Bicycle

Have you traveled to Beijing ?  If you have, then you will know what I am about to say — getting around the city is a real hassle.  Why?  Because the roads are congested, the air is polluted, and the taxi cab drivers sometimes just refuse to take passengers (yes, I know that does sound strange but it is true).

So what is the alternative if you are just visiting the city and have time to spare – i.e. you are not rushing to a business meeting… Yes, you guessed it – the alternative I would recommend is taking a bicycle ride.

A photo from Beijinger Magazine Bicycle TheBeijingerMagazine 150x150 Beijing by Bicycle

Years ago, bicycles were ubiquitous in Beijing.  There were waves of them moving about the city…Then its citizens discovered automobiles.  The standard of living went up and so did the number of autos in the city – the number of vehicles grew so fast that today you have to wait for your number to be picked up in a sort of lottery in order for you to receive a license plate and even once you get that accomplished you will be able to drive only on odd or even days based on your license plate.

So. with that in mind in the next few postings will introduce you to some Beijing areas which are very comfortably seen and explored by bicycle.

Those include:

Will cover those sections in the upcoming posting.

Austin Biking in October

Well folks, Austin continues to be the place for all things biking related.  Why you may ask?  Well, simple — all you have to do is experience the weather here and you will know exactly what I mean.  It is October – but the weather continues to be perfect – day temperatures hovering around 85-degrees F, and that combined with clear, sunny days.

And just to make you feel it even more – just take a look at the photos below:

 Austin Biking in OctoberMay be it is that great weather that makes Austin bicyclist very nice…Just read (from Bicycling magazine):

When confronted with a difficult driver, some riders opt for the one-fingered salute, which doesn’t do much to help the situation. Austin cyclist Adam Butler, is all for the one-handed salute, but he’s making a movement for that to be a wave.

Butler is launching the WAVE campaign in his hometown in hopes to improve relationships between cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. “We need something to lube this big old crazy machine called ‘getting around’, and I think it’s waving,” Butler says.

Butler has been a cyclist for 37 years, and a driver for 25, so he knows both sides of the story. Six years ago he, his wife, and his three children downsized to become a one-car family and he became a full-time bike commuter. It was then that he realized how vulnerable you can feel commuting on a bike.

and the rest of the article here and see the video below



Car Free Day – Recent Event

Every year on a day around September 22nd – a global organization drives an event with very interesting concept – the Car Free Day.  The event is truly global – people in various cities around the world gather on the streets and remind everyone that our cities are being over-run by motor vehicles.  Yes, this is easy for me to say as I drive in my nice car, right?  But I truly think that we could be leveraging both forms of transportation in our daily lives.

Bicycles are truly amazing form of transportation – they occupy much less space on the roads, and accidents on a bike (if no cars or trucks involved) rarely end up in serious damage to the riders.  Can you visualize how much space bikes take?  Well these guys in Latvia recently pulled off an interesting demonstration — they used light frames to demo how much space bikes vs cars take on our streets

latvian cyclists demonstrate bikes taking up as much space as cars 2 Car Free Day   Recent Event

The blog here provides more interesting photos from that demo;

If you are interested further in the concept of global traffic thoroughfares with fewer cars and trucks check out the Web site of the World Carfree Network;

There is another aspect of car ownership or its reduction — if you are living in a downtown area – you may consider the Car2Go option.  That alternative is being touted as the ‘new mobility’ option – why ?  Due to the cost savings and reduction of overall vehicles on the roads as people share….Below (courtesy of Car2Go’s web site) are the costs for leveraging the Car2Go vehicles:

what does it cost 3 Car Free Day   Recent Event

So, as you can imagine the option above is certainly a method for getting to a more car free / or near car free towns (where people share vehicles)….Oh, and saving on a vehicle will allow you to invest in more and nicer bike…YES!


New Mountain Bikes to Consider

I am yet to consider spending over $1500 for a mountain bike — after all – the biking experience is not coming from having the bike of magic but having the good skill set and physical endurance.  (Although I need to admit – my current bike was $1700 but I bought it on end of the model year clearance sale for $1200 — I considered it a GREAT deal)

But if you have inherited some big bucks recently or have come into a nice bonus — well, then you can consider some of the bikes I list below… I have test ridden some of them – for example the Giant Trance and must admit – it is a very nice bike….So here we go – the new best bikes below $3000!

  • Giant Trance – this is a 27.5″ bike — not the 29-inch bikes I like a lot, but as I said above, it is a very nice bike.  It comes outfitted with FOX Shocks and aluminum frameset – with aggressive weight-to-strength ratio – which is still very stiff and comfortable.

Trance 27 5 2 Black New Mountain Bikes to Consider Giant Trance 27.5-inch $2550 per

  • Jamis Dakar AMT COMP:  This is cross country and all mountain bike – based on an aluminum frameset; but the design adds a 150mm travel front fork X-Fusion and of course like the Giant – this is a fully suspended bike and given that it is also a 27.5-inch that makes sense.

15 dakaramtcomp New Mountain Bikes to Consider Jamis Dakar AMT Comp List $2599

  • Juliana Juno R: This is a bike for the women mountain bikers – not that Specialized or Trek are not offering women’s bikes… Now they do (for the last 3 years or so) but Juliana offers higher end bike in that type.  The men’s counterpart to Jualiana is Santa Cruz — also good bikes to consider

juno 34 my15 New Mountain Bikes to Consider Juliana Juno R $2599 starting for the D spec (the R-spec starts at $2799)

The bike offers dual suspension approach (given that it is also a 27.5-inch bike) with a 130mm travel front shock — RockShox Sector Gold RL Air Solo;  You can check the specs further here

  • Felt Compulson: This is an all mountain bike – and at this price range ($2699) also (as the rest of the bikes above) comes with an aluminum frameset; I was surprised to see a Suntour front fork on this bike – admittedly an advanced Suntour fork but I have been associating the brand with more low-end coil based forks/shocks.  Well, live and learn.  Here the Suntour offers 160mm travel and remote lockout.  The rear shock is RockShox Monarch -

felt bicycles compulsion 50 New Mountain Bikes to Consider Felt Compulson 50

Well, these are some of the newer bikes.  Enjoy!

Intense Cycles

Now, this is a great name for a bike!  I should have thought of it… This is a bike designer and manufacturer located in sunny Southern California – Temecula to be precise. I like Temecula a lot – it is sort of off the beaten track, near by San Diego but at a higher elevation so not likely to be enveloped in smog as part of the Los Angeles or San Diego area could be.

The area is also somewhat famous for good wine – there are several wineries.  Now I have another reason to visit icon smile Intense Cycles to see the Intense Cycles manufacturing facility.  The company was started in 1990 – and to be honest with you I just noticed it as a result of their mountain bikes winning the latest INTERBIKE 2014 tradeshow award — with their Tracer 275C trail bike.

TracerT275 2015 main Intense Cycles Intense Cycles Tracer 275C

The bike is supposedly priced at $2995 – I have not seen it yet in bike shops and the company web site did not list the MSRP.

OK – so next, I will be adding the Intense Cycles to my database of mountain bikes.  And of course will add the reviews from

Fly6 Camera and LED Light

Fly6 Camera and LED Light  – New Gadget and Safety Tool

I just came across the newly available Fly6 taillight and HD Camera combination product.  The idea of building such a device is really great!  Why – well, because it will provide cyclist the world over with a very good safety device.  Here is a view of the product from

camera Fly6 Camera and LED Light  Excellent Lights and Recording Gadget

This video from the company itself is a great description of the idea that drove the product:  all in all, drivers are often careless and do not really pay enough attention to the dynamics of the road.  Why do I know this?  Because of my personal experience.  I have been involved in accident where the other party was a truck driver who hit me as I was going along a main street in the city and he was stopped at a street corner waiting to turn onto the main street.  After he hit me the guy swore he never saw me (on a bright sunny day i.e. in full daylight) — I guess he did not BUT THE MAIN REASON was that he was not paying any attention….but just decided to turn onto the main street and I happened to be there…Too bad for me right…?  Well with this new gadget many such situations will be well documented and will drive awareness and attention across all of us…

The other interesting aspect of this gadget was the STRONG interest in it – its creation was funded on Kickstarter in only a couple of months.  This diagram is sourced from and shows results from user surveys:

 Fly6 Camera and LED Light

In summary, I really like the idea behind this product.  Will look into getting one – and will post here my experiences soon enough…


Rational Mountain Bike Cost

So here we go – the next installment of some thoughts around what makes a ‘rational’ mountain bike price.  I put the statement rational in quotes in an attempt early on to highlight the fact that, in my opinion, there is very little that is rational about this topic.  The reality is that the companies that build mountain bikes do that for their customer base – i.e. if you do not like the price and features on a given bike, guess what others (large majority) do!

So with that in mind, the best thing you can do is decide for yourself what are the conditions that you will be experiencing and how will you be using the mountain bike you desire to purchase.  Based on that you could develop a general guideline for the amount of money you need to allocate for your purchase.  Here are some general rule of thumb considerations – based on riding you expect to do:

  • Light use hardtail bike (i.e. no rear suspension): approximately $500
  • Track and cross country hardtail (not racing): sub-$1000
  • Race capable hardtail (for amateurs): $1100-$1900
  • Hardtail with specialized components: above $2000
  • Add rear suspension to the categories above — add on the average $500-$700 on top of the prices listed above in the corresponding categories

Then you can start adding big $$$ for special frame – e.g. carbon frame for mountain bike can cost you.  Case in point the Pivot Phoenix DH Carbon – shown below – is a carbon based frame bike which with its bells and whistles still weighs only 31lbs (per

large Foto Jens Staudt Pivot Phoenix Carbon 6500 Rational Mountain Bike Cost

Then you can also get a special set of brake pads for your disc brakes – yes, most durable and worth getting mountain bikes these days already come with at least mechanical if not fluid operated disc brakes.  Tribull from Taiwan has developed Shimano compatible brake pads with integrated heat sink – quite a setup to see… Here is a snap from their web site:

DDE 37 20130312154026 750  Rational Mountain Bike Cost  
And next to it is the compatible Shimano product – you can purchase from or just head to your pro-bike shop if you do not want to tinker;

At any rate, these types of options can significantly increase the price of your bike but they also come with significant benefits – lower weight and more maneuverable bike, better brakes, and so the list goes…

Like I said in my previous posting – even at $3000 a bike can be a good investment towards your health – just think – you will ride it for at least 5 years, therefore if you ride each Saturday and Sunday – that will amount to about 100 days per year — hence about 500 days — or as I said in an earlier article — that amounts to about $6 per day – almost as pricey as your cup of fancy latte….in your local coffee shop!

Mountain Bike Cost – What is Rational

Mountain bikes have been growing in wheel size — for example, 29-inch wheels came into broad use very quickly — and in cost.  It is increasingly common to see $2000-plus price tag on a large portion of most manufacturers’ portfolio.  The reality is that in most cases the price tag has very little to do with your enjoyment on the trail.   The $1200 bike at full retail is probably the top of the sub-prosumer bikes.  You can get the “last year” bike model for that price as the top of the line pro-summer bikes are about $1700 and often discounted to $1200 during a model year change.

At the same time, those pro-summer bikes will provide you with a lot of useful exercise, keep you in good form and all this for about $4-$6 per ride if you use the bike each weekend throughout the year.   So not a bad return on your investment…

I will elaborate on this tomorrow…after my Labor Day ride…