Bicycle Riders Behavior on the Road

There is tons of writing on the web from bicycle riders who feel wronged by car drivers while on the various roads in cities.  While this may be a real situation – I have been on my mountain bike while a car had driven by with a passenger or the driver screaming for me to get off the road or at the least making gestures of various kinds …

Today, though I saw the opposite – while driving on one of the busy roads in Austin, a road bicycle rider decided to do a stupid thing.  The road I am talking about is a divided one (with a grassy median) and posted speed of 60miles per hour.   The road is busy and especially so at its various exits to street in the city.   On one of those exits, the rider I am talking about here stayed on the shoulder of the road for a long enough time to make me (and I think other drivers) think that he will be taking the exit.   Furthermore the exit was to a street which is also frequented by bicycle riders – I know – I ride there as well.

Then in the last minute without any signal he decided to swerve and dash for the main road – i.e. cross the exit lanes to get back on the main highway.   Fine, he wanted to be on the main highway and fine, he stayed too long on the exit lane, bud DUDE, signal!!!   That is one of the reasons you have arms and hands.  You would expect a car driver to signal that he/she is changing his mind and changing lanes… So should a bicycle – especially on a busy road!

But then again, may be he is one of the drivers who does the same maneuver in his car as well without signaling driving others to react with urgency….

Oh, well, hopefully not to many do this stupid action so all of us – bike riders and car drivers are safe on the road!

Happy biking!

Apple – What is Going On

Apple – What is the issue with their new products?

This blog is focused on mountain biking and all things related to that activity.  Nevertheless, from time to time, I tend to post on some adjacent observations and/or topics.  This time it is Apple TV.  Earlier in the Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2015 I wrote several articles about my experiences with Apple Watch – and more specifically how it applied (or did not live up to the expectations) to mountain biking and exercising.

Later today I am going to return to the store another of their products.   My 4th generation Apple TV… Don’t get me wrong – I like Apple products – at home we have 3 MacBook Pro laptops, 2 third generation Apple TVs, 2 iPhone 6/6Plus and 1 iPhone 6-Plus-S phones, 2 iPads, several iPods (from different generations) and….guess what still working iBook G4 laptop and PowerMAC desktop.

Having said that – I think my most recent experience with Apple products has been less than glowing.  You can read my feedback (which I have left also on the Apple Support Web sites) about the Watch.   Now is time to write about the Apple TV 4th Generation.

I have used the previous generation for a couple of years at least on two TVs in my house.  So I replaced one of the two 3rd generation one with this new one and had high expectations that the experience will be great…. Well…..

  • Configuration – was great!  Using the NFC technology – configuring the Apple TV with your iPhone 6 is a breeze!  It picks up all the WLAN configuration, passwords etc. in a blink of the eye and it is DONE!
  • Applications: here is where the disappointments started – not too many to select from!  I purchased a new Samsung 4K TV at Thanksgiving.  I was amazed at the number of applications available there – and NOT on the Apple TV…So first strike against the Apple TV.
  • Remove control and Siri:  Voice enablement is a great idea.  That is the main reason my family decided to splurge and buy the more expensive new Apple 4th generation box  – the result though was disappointing.   Siri just did not work well for us.  My daughter is a whizz with Siri on her iPhone, but on Apple TV it was lacking…More importantly if you had to do a search we had to do that via typing individual letters.   The remote control itself was not great either.  The sliding motion to scroll was annoying…Overall I did not like the remote – same for my family
  • Playback – This was the BIGGEST ISSUE.  As I mentioned earlier – I have used two previous generation Apple TVs with the same networking configuration at home.   This 4th generation box did not perform well — video content was constantly buffering while attempting to watch HBO or SHOWTIME or YouTube…Very Annoying.  I am not sure what the issue is – I really DO NOT like troubleshooting such an expensive product.  The sad part is that the old 3rd generation Apple product did not have this issue…

So, with that experience and annoyance that I have to waste my time returning products – the Apple TV is going away – back to the retailer !    What I am more concerned about is – given my experiences with the Apple Watch and now Apple TV, what is going on with Apple’s new product development cycle…May be a lot, but not in a good direction…

Comments?

CES 2016 Bicycle Products

This year I was able to spend 3 days at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas.  This event is usually crazy – tons of exhibitors and hordes of people all over the place, hence my hesitation to attend, but my the projects I have been working on in the last 12 months and those that will be on my plate in 2016, required me to attend.   So, I jumped on the plane and joined the throngs of people at the show.

While I had to spend a lot of time with customers and partners, I was able to allocate some time for visiting various exhibits.  The show was heavily dedicated to automotive products – but there were some interesting new products for bicycle enthusiasts as well.  The product that caught my attention was the Garmin Varia Vision Headset – the headset has some very interesting capabilities

  1. It allows you to view statistics about the ride – ride in your field of vision – i.e. without have to look down (to the stem or handlebars mounted smart phone with Bike Applications);   The display provides the essential stats right in front of your eyes  – thus acting also as a much safer way to show you informationGarmin Varia Vision

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) When paired with Varia Rear View Radar it provides you with the necessary information on approaching traffic.  The display can show you approaching traffic and warn you of potential issues on the road;
Varia plus Rear view radar   Overall a very clever contraption and in my opinion useful application all around.   The device warns you of approaching traffic as far as 140-meters away (per Garmin.com)

 

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The headset is also integreatable with your smart phone.  Garmin will provide you with the compatibility list.    I have not tested that feature – eventhough I hat my phone with me on the tradeshow floor – I did not test the ability of the feature;

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Ultimately, safety is a huge factor for most of us cyclists and to this effect these new products appear to address it in a fun and cheerful way.

Please let me know with your thoughts on these new gadgets – I think they are a great steps forward on safety!

Zion – Biking in Utah

Zion – Biking Opportunity in Utah

For those of you who may be planning an interesting holiday trip and would like to experience on of the spectacular national parks to its raw fullest, and if you can handle the cold of winter, then you should consider a holiday trip (during the Christmas vacations) to Utah and the Zion National Park specifically.

Will it be cold ?   YES!!!

Will you have the park almost to yourself?  YES!!!

Will you have fun even if you do not get a chance to bike for long?  YES!

You can take a look at some snapshots from a trip we took to the park on a previous Christmas and decide for yourself.  We visited on Christmas day and were almost alone in the park…Yes, it was cold, did I mention that?

Utah-Zion-Park

Take a look at the beauty and and think of the miles and miles of road bike you can pedal here?

Or imagine going along the bike trails… Here are some additional links to leverage…

 

And then there are always more photos – I have said it many times and will repeat it here again – use photos to guide you – visual guidance is great, leverage it when you can.

Zion-sun-rays

Picture 1 of 10

 

Bicycles and Crazy Uses of Bicycles

Bicycles – Crazy Uses

Have you thought about the various uses of a bicycle…?  All of us think a mountain bike is a mountain bike, you have your trails or neighborhood pathways and you go for the exercise and the excitement of downhill rushing by you….a 29er screaming downhill at 30-40miles an hour…what a rush!

Then there are a few other uses of a bicycle – take a look below… Have you thought of any of them?  I bet not….or ?

Bicycles-Lorries-Beijing

Here are the pickup bicycles. Who said you cannot move 100-pounds of shrimp or chicken from the warehouse to the market :-)

 

These bikes will certainly do the job well…

 

Bicycles-as-trucks-in-BeijingAnd then there are also the heavy weight moving machines.  These are almost pulling as much weight as a mid-size truck in the US.

Hey, at least they are not polluting and are on top of the energy efficiency list, right?

 

Did we see enough?  I bet not…

Beijing-Bike-Truck

 

Here is another contraption – a bike on the streets of Beijing

This baby can haul some stuff…You agree, right..?

 

 

Sleeping on a bike

Sleeping on your bike…anyone?  Why not – this bike especially…I am surprised there is no mattress on it

 

 

 

 

But seriously, it is obvious that bicycles continue to be a dominant force in China…

 

 

Bicycle Helmet – Resources for Learning How to Buy One

Bicycle Helmet

I have posted a number of articles about bicycle helmets.  Having taken a spill more than twice while riding, I have stated before and will repeat now, am a true believer in their utility.  You may not like how they feel, or how they fit, or their shape, or…(gasp) the fact that they may mess up your hair….but even after all that – they are truly useful.


Now, if your helmet does not feel good on your head, chances are you need a different, better fitting one.  Here are some key items to check out about your helmet and additional resources to use while selecting one:

  • Start with checking the box in the store.  Why?  It needs to clearly state that the helmet meets the requirements of the Consumer Products Safety Commision – the link here will bring you to the specific page with their guidance; Another valid certification is the Snell’s B-95
  • Size assessment – ask your local bike store or another sports or outdoors store with a good biking department for help on that.  They can measure you…The helmet needs to fit snugly or you have the danger of actually hurting yourself.
  • Personal preferences – here you can go wild; there are many bike helmet options…in terms of ventilation, shades, style and colors.  Up to you on this one.

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute has tons of additional information on the topic – check them out.   In the meantime, please remember – you need a bike helmet!

 

New Low-Cost Mountain Bikes – What $1000 Gets You

For those of you who are considering getting into mountain biking, please read this posting  as much as possible – I believe this is a good set of information for you.  Why, you may ask?  Because, it will be good to first try the sport and see if you would like it…At any rate, the bikes we are covering in this article, will get you to try things at a reasonable entry fee.

What are the $1000 bikes good for:

  • They have relatively entry level components – Shimano Alivio or Deore shifters and drivetrains; Those are shifting OK but they most likely won’t last the strain of continuous riding in the hills – but again, as a beginner you are probably going to have relatively easy rides…So the combination of these components and pricing should be OK
  • Less than challenging rides – especially climbs – as the frames of these bikes are most likely going to be made of aluminum with less rigidity, but hey, again, you are getting a low cost bike, right…
  • Finally, the rest of the components will be low end as well – pedals=flats; front shock = no, you are not getting air shock – in this price range, it will be a spring / coil based shock; seat = entry level WTB

So, let’s look at the list below

Specialized-Rockhopper

Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 – $950 retail;   The bike is very good when it comes to agility and entry level components; The shock is coil spring 100mm travel custom made by Suntour for Specialized; The brakes are hydraulic Tektro Auriga (2 generations ago the Tektro brakes were really noisy – speaking when braking – check those out well before buying); The drivetrain is Shimano-Alivio and the deraillures are Shimano Alivio and SRAM X5;

Marin-Mountain-Bike

Marin Pine Mountain 1 – $989 retail;   This is a hardtail bike with 27.5″ wheels; Surprisingly (for this price range) it has a chromoly steel frame and further surprising the designers have managed to include an aggressive fork without a shock in this package.  Very interesting.  The drivetrain is 1×10 at the front with a SRAM X7 Type 2 rear derailleur;

 

Rocky-Mountain-Bike

Rocky Mountain Soul 730 – $899 retail;   As expected (in this price range) this is a hard tail bike with 27.5″ wheels; The frame is alloy (the designers at Rocky Mountain bikes claim they take special care in the design even of the aluminum alloy tubing – so may be a bit of an advantage here)  and the front fork includes a Suntour spring coil based 120mm travel shock – this is certainly a good shock given the travel even if it is not air one; The shifters as usual are Shimano Alivio, and the front and rear derailleur are Shimano Acera and Deore respectively; The brakes are hydraulic and are Shimano M355 as expected as well;

BMC-Bike

BMC Sportelite SE – $999 retail;  This is an interesting bike.  Why?  Because it actually offers some less than low-end components in this sub-$1000 price category.  While its frame is still aluminum alloy tubing, the front fork sports a RockShox XC30 TK Solo Air 100mm – yes, the first bike in this category with air shock;

 

Giant-mountain-bike

Giant Talon 29er – $850 retail; The frame of course is aluminum alloy tubing – no surprises there;  The drivetrain is Shimano 3×9-speed and the brakes are now Tektro hydraulic disc;  The front fork includes a Suntour coil based fork with 100mm travel and lockout.  Overall this bike is not a spectacular one, but then the price is very convincing

 

So all in all there are some good bikes in the listing above.  If you want to get in this sport – these are some good machines to test ride and enjoy and decide…