Bicycle Safety and LED Lights

Well folks, technology is great!  Mind you, I do not mean that in terms of getting access to the latest smartphone or shiny new iPad or android tablet….Sure those are great tools and also devices that offer an incredible amount of entertainment and channel for learning, but this time I am writing about something much more pedestrian BUT at the same time a device that could save your life (if you are biking for example)

Earlier today, after quite a bit of research, I ordered my new red LED light — Planet Bike Blinky, and by next weekend plan to provide you with a nice review of its capabilities and a short video of how it works in the day time and in the dark.   Based on what I have been reading, the light provides for about 100 hours of operation, which was one of the key attraction points for me, and second — supposedly a much brighter LEDs vs previous models.   So will see…

Now, why am I writing a whole article about this?  Well, it is important — turns out (as some of you probably already know), bicycles are really tough to spot on the roads.  I prefer biking in the parks on mountain bike trails but even so every so often I tend to get on the local roads as well in order to just exercise or go and meet friends.   Havind said that, the importance of us bicyclists being visible on the road is extremely important.  

The visbility aspect is especially important at dusk / late in the afternoon when the light changes and drivers tend to have a lot more difficulty detecting a bicycle on the road.  Another factor is the degree of congestion and busy conditions on the road — the more other vehicles are on the road the less likely is that a driver will detect a bicycle near by.  

So we really need to make all efforts possible to increase the bicycle visibility — and a flashing red light on the back of your bike is CERTAINLY a step in that direction.

Well, enough for today — I will report on the light once I have had a chance to test it next weekend.

Review of 5th Generation iPod Touch

I have had one of the new 5th gen iPod Touches for a little while now and I just got around to writing a review. In my opinion, the most useful new feature has to be the massivly improved camera.  With the old camera, looking at pictures you had taken, even its small screen, was painful. With the new camera, all the pictures are sharp and crisp. While Siri was talked about as this wonderful invention, it is really only good for very simple tasks. The more complex the task, the more likely it is that it will screw up somewhere and you will have to restart the task. In my experience, the only use for Siri that won't take you longer than doing it yourself is sending a message to someone (preferably a short message) and that will take the same amount of time to type as to use Siri. A more useful new feature is the larger screen. While not all applications are updated to utilize the new larger screen, in the ones that are, you have more screen real estate to see the app with. Speaking of the screen, while the Retina display is not new, it continues to be gorgeous. In summary, the new iPod Touch is certainly a beautiful upgrade.

PS While I was not that exited originally about the upgrade to ios 6, there is one feature in it that I adore: the fact that when you install or buy or update an app, the App Store doesn't close! That had been annoying me from my first ios device and is finally fixed. Thank you Apple!

Black Friday Deals – First posting on what they may be….

Well folks Black Friday is quickly coming upon us….The key question is whether or not we can survive its onslaught and whether or not the deals are worth much — after all each year the quality of stuff being made available during those crazy shopping hours is changing.

So I decided to do some searching on the web and aggregate the products I think are worth checking out and potentially purchasing as a deal during the 2012 Black Friday shopping marathon (and potentially also during Cyber Monday next week).  Here they are:

1)  I like the Smart Phone Caddies you can install in the stem of your bike and be able to carry with you in a usable state an Android Smart phone or an Apple iPhone.  The one I use (got it installed earlier in the summer) is similar to the one is carrying too:

 check it out.  You may be able to find some great, NEW uses for your iPhone or trusty smart phone.  I know I did!

2) for the cold months of the year, you may want to consider the stationary bike for exercising (I have tried in the past the stands for my mountain bike and did not like them – so switched to stationary bike instead).  Here are two consecutive models you can consider — with a nice discount from


…. So there will be more to come of course — later tonight.


McKinney Falls State Park Bike Trail

Last Sunday experienced the bike trails of the next of the Texas state parks….McKinney Falls State Park and its Bike Trails.

Here is a link to the write up I already posted in the trails database

The park is located in South east Austin near the airport and is very easily accessible via any vehicle.  Once you are there you can enjoy both a very easy bike trail (paved one) and a slightly more exciting one that goes through some nicely wooded areas in the park.

Here is a link to the offical video for the park as well:

The park offers not only a good place for biking but also a nice set of views – take a look at the gallery below:

Overall this trail is really relatively easy – most of the two trails (Onion Creek and Homestead) are relativel flat with some minor climbs (on Onion Creek) and a few places of steep downhills or climbs and roots on the single track.   You may have trouble finding the place to get to the Homestead trail track.  The trick is to go low down the Falls near by the larger / higher waterfall and find a way to cross on foot.   Just go ahead and try it – you will enjoy it.

Pedernales Falls State Park Trails – Bike Trails

Last weekend we decided to test the bikes on another of the Central Texas Hill Country trails — the Pedernales Falls State Park trails and more specifically the Wolf Mountain Trail

The park is located West of Austin on the way to Johnson City in the Hill Country. If you are traveling from Austin, take 71 West towards Lakeway but do not turn on 620 but stay on 71 for another set of lights and on those next set of lights you will encounter Hamilton Pool road on your left — take Hamilton Pool road to Ranch Road 12 where you will turn left on 12 and then look for FM 3232 which you will turn right on and head North for 6 miles.

The park is accessible by paved road — at the range station you will have the option to pay $5 per person or what I consider as a better deal – buy an annual state park pass for $70 which is good for the whole car. 

At the ranger station you will find also maps. 

We decided to do one of the biking trails – the 7.5mile Wolf Mountain Trail — the map of our ride is visible in the gallery here:

Also you may want to check out the video from the State park — here it is:

There are plenty of parking areas in the park — nothing to worry on that,  Just make sure you ask in the park ranger station where is the best place to park on that day for a given trail you want to ride on. 

Enjoy your biking and make sure you have plenty of water with you!


Bicycles, and the Economics and Benefits of Cycling

How do we associate bicycles and the economics and benefits of cycling?  I am a big proponent of the approach of leveraging your bicycle for getting to a place or running small erands, etc rather than just going for a pleasure ride or an exercise one… Why?  Because it just makes sense.  Earlier this morning I jumped on my bike and peddled to a local Starbucks (6 hilly miles away) to meet with a couple of my friends.  While getting there I encountered a newly marked bike lane on the road — a bike lane which was barely two and a half feet wide….and I thought "Hm…. what message is the city and county sending to the bicycling crowd…? "

So later on in the day I started thinking more about this and decided to list on this blog all the aspects of why bicycles JUST MAKE A WHOLE LOT OF SENSE — i.e. this is the blog article about Bicycles, Bike Lanes, and the Economics and Benefits of Cycling

So here we go:

  • Personal Health: There have been many studies showing that the US population (and even the population in China) is increasingly overweight and a very large (and growing) percentage is obese!  Why?  Because the world is driving cars and/or sitting on public transport as we commute to work and leasure places.  We all have heard the studes from various medical authorities — that just 30-miunutes of physical exercise three times a week can offset many of the aforementioned negative effects and keep us healthy.  Entering bicycling…!  Yes, a 10-12 mile round trip bike ride (30-35minutes in each direction) can burn over 400-600 calories in a woman or man….thus providing EXCELLENT approach to staying in great shape!
  • Environmental Impact:  Bicycles are just great when it comes to carbon footprint we all know that!  But guess what, they also save big time on parking surfaces etc.  Hence they reduce significantly resources spent for infrastructure
  • Economics: Commuting a few times a week by bicycle wil certainly add a significant offset in your monthly spent for fuel and car maintenance.  For the average car owner out there with a 20-25-mile per gallon vehicle in city driving, commuting by bicycle can make a nice big dent in your monthly fuel bill
  • Personal & Social impact:  Yes, there is also that — lets face it – you will meet a lot of nice people on your bike rides…Enough said.

And here are some interesting views on the economic impact of bicycling from national sources:

The Economic impact Source:


This same entity also published an extensive report on the Economic Impact of Bicycling — here it at this link

After listing all these — I remembered again the narrow bike lane I encountered this morning while biking in Austin…. If this is the case is a bike friendly city like Austin, I can imagine how things are in the states and cities in the US where bicycles are even less popular…. Well, I guess a lot more work to do on educating the public!  Hopefully this blog will help in the long run as well.