Mountain Biking in Texas in May – Mud…mud…

Mountain biking post heavy rains

Rain is really needed and important for Texas!  The lakes are low, water is in limited supply….(I think in better shape than California, though…)

But, the rains have been heavy and causing really sticky mud on the trails in Texas.  If you are out to get exercise – there is nothing like biking on a muddy trail in the Hill Country.  Why?  Because the mud is REALLY sticky – and it causes you to exert quite a bit of both strength pedaling and skill navigating and staying on your bike in the slippery slopes.

Here are some photos from my Saturday ride – it was right after a Friday (and Thursday, and Wednesday…) heavy rains.  What was I thinking :-)  Well, let me chalk it on the need to exercise….


Hill-Country-Biking-TrailsBiking-TexasHill-country-biking-mud  Well you have seen it now.  The mud is pretty heavy even-though the trails look pretty compact and stony – in reality they are but there is also quite a bit of sticky dirt on the trail – and it gets everywhere including the derailleurs…making shifting gears more difficult.    And of course you need to be ready to spend time cleaning your bike post ride…

But as I said – it is all about the exercise…!

Hong Kong Mountain Biking – The Peak to Shek O

The Peak Hong KongThe Peak Hong KongHong Kong mountain biking – something to consider as a leisure time activity even in this overcrowded and bustling city.

The Peak to Shek O ride is a long one – approximately 25km route and is a combination of road biking and mountain biking – primarily along the Dragon’s Back trail, a trail along a ridge in Southeastern Hong Kong island between Wam Cham Shan and Shek O Peak;


The map above will hopefully provide you with a visual indication of what is the actual path we have selected for this bike ride. It is not very challenging so relax – you will like the feel of the open road and wind while biking;

The Peak Hong KongAs I stated this ride will be a mid of mostly road biking and about 4-5km of real mountain bike ride. That ride starts at The Peak and pretty soon gets you to the challenges of Wanchai and Repulse Bay and then you will go along Stanley Road (Stanley itself is a relatively well known for its bits of history as well as Saturday markets), then you will get along Tai Tam Rd and pretty close to the Tai Tam gap you will have the opportunity after biking for about 100-meters along Shek O Road to get on the actual mountain bike trail.  If you do not find it – it may be challenging to spot – you can just stay on Shek O road.

This will get you to the Shek O village itself where you will have to decide if you are done or would like to proceed to Cape D’Aguilar Marine reserve at the very extreme Southern end of the Shek O / D’Aguilar peninsula.


How to Clean Your Bike After a Ride in the Mud

mountain bike trail

How to Clean Your Bike

Well folks Spring is here and the trails could be muddy – even in the relatively dry climate where I live.  Last Saturday I went out on my morning bike ride with something that looked like mist… By the time I had done 30-minutes into my ride, water was dripping consistently from my helmet and my riding clothes were wet.   Surprise, so were the trails.  Mud was going everywhere on my bike…

So what do you do once the ride is over and you are back at your place?Mountain Bike after muddy trail

The answer – several things:

  1. Rinse the whole bike — this will help to get mud and gunk from the road off your bike and away from potentially damaging the finish on your bike.  Rinse it with your hose on a relatively gentle setting so you do not drive dirt into the various bearings and joints on the bike Trail mud
  2. Then get a soapy sponge or rag and wipe down the various moving components and chain.  Rinse well and dry with another rag.  Apply lubricant on the chain, rear and front derailleur
  3. Check the disk brakes or pads for dirt and grit that may have embedded itself in the components and surfaces.
  4. Use a brushes set (example shown below) to scrub moving parts and ensure dirt has been removed from the moving components as if that dirt stays there as you ride it will act as a sandpaper….potentially damage the components.trail mud
  5. Once you have washed the bike, you need to apply lubricant on the moving parts – cassette, derailleurs, chain…




you are now ready for the next bike ride…Enjoy!

Tigra Sports BikeConsole – Follow up on Reviews

Tigra Sports BikeConsole In the Rain

Rainy DayEarlier this morning I had to go meet a friend at a local coffee shop – as usual I bike to the place.  Why?  It gives me a chance to exercise – round trip on the bike is 10-miles.  The weather though was not exactly cooperative – when I rolled my bike outside of the garage it was misty, foggy and not quite pleasant.  However, I decided that I need the exercise and after all my phone was in a weather proof case!

So off I went.  By the time I reached the coffee shop (about 5-miles later) I was wet and cold and so was the bike and phone console.  And the story repeated itself on the way back.   But the phone was fine… Here are a couple of links to earlier reviews of the phone case I am referring to – check them out

And the phone itself in the case after the ride…

Tigra Sports BikeConsole

Here is a link to a very extensive review of the phone case on Tech Reviewer.  Enjoy!

Tigra Sports BikeConsole – iPhone 6 Plus on your Mountain Bike

Several weeks ago I posted on options for mounting iPhone on your mountain bike.  Today I wanted to add an update based on my personal experience with my iPhone 6 Plus using the Tigra Sports BikeConsole bike mount.

Tigra Sport Bike Console   Tigra Sport Bike Console Tigra Sport Bike Console

After 5 weeks of using the bike mount I am overall pleased with it – it does provide a relatively good way to attach your iPhone 6 Plus to your bike.  This (as usual) will allow you to use various applications for tracking your exercise and mapping your bike routes. Having said that, there are also some negatives / or inconveniences with using the Tigra BikeConsole

  1. you have to remove any other case you have on your phone during your normal use as the BikeConsole expects that you have a bare phone to be encased in it.
  2. after several weeks of bike rides it appears that the mount has loosened as a result the BikeConsole tends to tip (rotate down) on my handlebars – i.e. you cannot easily see the screen – the screen / phone tilts and you have to rotate the whole assembly back into position
  3. for some reason the screen cover of the BikeConsole is matted which somewhat reduces visibility of the screen and you have to increase the display intensity for visibility which in turn causes battery to drain faster

Even with these small issues, I still think the Tigra Sport BikeConsole is a good option for your iPhone on your mountain bike.  It protects the phone and allows for its use while on the tracks.

Here are the options you could consider from Tigra Sport based on which iPhone you have:


Tigra Sport Bike Console


Finally, here is another review of the BikeConsole – check it out…!

How to Select Mountain Bike Components

Mountain Biking How To — How to select Mountain Bike components

When you read the specs of the mountain bikes in the local professional shop on the web sites of your favorite brands I am sure you are often trying to decipher the meaning behind the ratios in the Front Derailleur, the wheel size, of suspension / front fork travel size and/or mechanical spring vs air spring implementation….So here I go with some clarifications you can hopefully use in your selection process

  • Gears:  So what is that front derailleur all about?  Well in general the more recent models of mountain bikes come with either 2×10 or 3×10 gearing.  What is the difference?  Well it is all about how many rings do you have up front (see photo below – which in the case of the photo – my bike is 3×10) and how many in the rear.  Trek Gary Fisher here you see the photo of 3×10 – 3 chainrings upfront and 10 in the rear TREK Gary Fisher This setup essentially defines how many gears you would have total – with the 3×10 providing for a wider range and several more gears in the middle of that spread.  The 2×10 offers lighter weight, faster movement of increments in gearing – i.e. faster shifting up and down.   All in all the 2×10 option has started to appear on increasing number of bikes – it offers also lower cost and in reality meets the needs of over 50% of riders.
  • Wheel size selection:  29-inch vs. 27.5-inch vs 26-inch…? The (almost) age old question – which bike with what wheels I should buy?   The reality – they all have plus and minus valuation points.  Smaller wheels are more maneuverable – but large wheel offer more comfort and speed…..So as usual – novel idea – take a test ride..!
  • Front shock / fork:  mechanical or air spring implementation.  You will be surprised how many biking enthusiasts have no idea what their shock is and what should they be looking for.  The bad news is that based on which bike model select many of the components will come with the specific bike (per how the manufacturer has outfitted the bike / model).  If you want to replace the fork for example, that will cost you dearly.  So my advice – look for more expensive model – the tier above your current selection and then look for end of the model year discounts!

So with those advice in mind – go on and look for a bike…

Please keep in mind – it is best for you to test ride the bike!  No spec descriptions will replace the in-person on the pedals experience!

Mountain Biking How To – Riding on Gravel Trails

Mountain Biking How To — How to ride on gravel trails

Texas Biking TrailsI have been on rides across many parts of the US, Asia, and Eastern Europe.  Given my experience – conditions in the US Southwest are somewhat unique – specifically they are unique in the fact that the trails are often made of relatively loose gravel.  Many of the trails in Texas for example are covered with crushed lime stone and other rocks – and overall represent a relatively tricky surface for many beginners and less experienced riders.  After several recent bike rides with my family, I decided to post this “HOW TO” summary to provide some guidance at least based on my experience of riding in those conditions for the last 5-6 years.   So here we go:

  1. As you start on the ride, you need to relax and try not to tense your body.  Being anxious you would tend to tighten your shoulders, elbows and arms and as you start riding the vibrations of the track will translate into your tense body and cause an early fatigue and potentially discomfort.
  2. Being tense will also potentially bring to less ability to maneuver fast along the track and may even cause you to lose control of your bike in some cases
  3. Focus on steering not only with your hands but also with your overall body especially with your hips.  You may want to practice this first on a relatively flat surface — I suggest you do that around your house – on a safe street practice maneuvers where you use your body and hips to direct the bike.
  4. Make sure you look ahead on the trails and time the use of brakes.  More so, please apply brakes OFTEN and in a GENTLE manner — i.e. control your speed on a frequent basis rather than via sudden stops. WHY?  You will prevent going over the handlebars!   Trust me – I have done that on more than one occasion as I learned to control my bike.  The brake system on new mountain bikes – with hydraulic brakes – is so efficient in translating force of brake initiation to braking that you get a braking action very fast and that combined with the momentum of a fast moving bike will cause you to go over the handlebars…..So let’s avoid that by figuring out the physics of the movement – i.e. reduce speed by braking often and with a slight touch.
  5. Stay high on your bike and try to stand up above the saddle often especially when going over a series of larger rocks – that will reduce the likelihood of busting your tires and potentially also flipping off the bike.

All in all biking on gravel trails is not tough once you get used to it.  If you pay attention to the pointers above and enjoy the rides!

Texas Mountain Biking Trails

Colorado Bend State Park – Mountain Biking

Texas Mountain Biking Colorado Bend ParkYesterday my family and I finally decided to brave the long drive and head out to Colorado Bend State Park.  The weather was great – mid 70s F, sunny, light breeze….all in all really perfect weather for a bike ride.  So we loaded the bikes on the SUV, loaded plenty of water in bike bottles and in the cooler and started off towards the park.

Getting to the park from Austin entails two options – you can either go the North route – via 183 or the South route via Marble Falls, Burnett, and eventually Lampasas.

On the way to the park we decided 183 may be the faster route – well that was a mistake.  183 is a mess – unless you use the toll road version – 183A – which we did not and paid dearly for that in terms of wasted time.   Took us 3 hours to get to the park – while on the way back it was the expected 2 hours – but we went via 281 and 71 via Burnett and Marble Falls

Once we got to the park – we signed in relief – the place is beautiful, the trails are good and in different difficulty level – here is the map of the park which includes the biking trails – which in aggregate amount to about 30miles of varying degree of difficulty

Map from State Park HQ


The river trail is very scenic and very much an easy beginners level trail to use.  We started on that one as a way to get our daughter in the groove of things.   The trail was nice – about 3.5miles in one direction.  Once you reach the intersection of Old Gorman Road and the River Trail you have the option to head back the same way, or take Old Gorman Road towards Cedar Chopper Loop.  Please see map above.  Based on the various loops and roads you can actually construct a pretty long bike ride.  We ended up on a 2 hour ride which was more than enough to get us exhausted and ready to head to dinner by the time we were done – which was around 6pm.

Overall the experience was great.  Please see the album with photos below…


Formula-1 Comes to Bikes

Last Fall I had the opportunity to see one of the global Formula-1 races — this one held in Austin, Texas.  Turns out Austin is home to the only F1 track in the US – and every year in November (I think it is usually about that time) – a bunch of advanced automotive fans converge in the city to see the latest in super car racing.

The 2014 race was based on 6-cylinder gasoline engines with surprisingly SMALL displacement – only 1.6-litter volume (which is about 1/2 of my car’s engine displacement) but between the gasoline engine and the electric assist motors, the 2014 F-1 race cars were achieving in the range of 780-hp !!!

Turns out this technology — the electric assist motors — is now finding its way into bicycles – specifically electric bicycles.  The UK based and manufacturing in the UK company Brompton is leveraging partnership with F-1 engineers to design and produce pedal assisted electric bikes.

Electric bikes are no new news for sure.  You can see below statistics of the sales of those in several key regions:

Statistic: Projected worldwide sales of electric bicycles in 2018, by region (in million units) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista;

As you can see China specifically has huge sales of electric bikes – but from my personal experience (having lived in China for a number of years) those bikes are pretty bad – they are more of a scooter – and something to use as a moped rather than a bike…

Now with the entry of the F-1 and Brompton designs

Brompton Bike  Brompton bike

Given the amazing technology in terms of carbon fiber body elements and electric assist motors that were driving the overall power plant for the F-1 racing cars, I think this particular bike designs will be nothing but boring.

So now the combination of cool design, (although somewhat uncomfortable ride given the small wheels) and F-1 technology, I am very curious of the upcoming capabilities and would love to be able to test ride one very soon.

Biking Benefits and Road Safety

In the fall of 1987 I moved to Beijing – yes, that’s right – you read it correctly.  I had the good fortune to find my way to China in the early days of its opening to the rest of the world and in a time when Beijing was still heavily navigated by its citizens riding on bikes.  Based on what I have read on various statistics web sites, Beijing peaked in bicycle ownership as % of residents moving around by bike in 1986 with that percentage being 63%!

Think of that — 63% of the city’s population using bikes for commute etc.  I saw that in 1987 – acquiring a bike was a pinnacle of one’s achievement (when it comes to transportation).  Admittedly, car ownership was out of reach for probably 60% of the overall 63% who owned bikes (statistic above), but nevertheless moving around the city then was much, much easier.

bicycle statistics

When I look at the statistics for road fatalities vs bike ridership, I cannot help but wander – what if China and most of the res of the world got back on bicycles – what will happen….I am thinking – good things will happen – i.e. less accidents, and much healthier population :-)

Infographic: More Cyclists In A Country Means Fewer Fatal Crashes | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista;

The important part to consider is that the bicycle rides will also allow to reduce the impact of fare increase for subway in Beijing.  The ticket prices increased from 2RMB to 3RMB minimum and now the prices are dependent on distance traveled.

Of course you would think that the rise in public transport prices will give a boost to Bike Sharing in Beijing – but based on info I found on the web – there are only 22K bikes being deployed in the bike sharing programs in the city.

By the way, if you are visiting Beijing on a leisurely schedule and the weather during your visit is good, you should consider biking around the city.  It will save you time and make you a lot more mobile – hence allow you to see more…