Where to Buy Your Next Bicycle – Direct or via a Bike Shop

Over the last few quarters I have published a bunch of articles covering various aspects of the bicycle buying process.  In many cases newcomers to the sport are overwhelmed by the number of choices of brands and bke types – so these articles have added at least some help.  Here is a short listing of those:

Now, in this article I would like to discuss briefly what are your options for picking up a bike — and whether you should buy one direct from a manufacturer or get the help and expertise of your local bike shop…

Well, the reality is that you will have to decide by yourself and that decision will most likely be based on your mechanical abilities.  The bicycle you would buy direct — for example, I just added a new listing to the database of mountain bikes on this blog – Airborne Bikes – will require you to make the adjustments for your hight and body type by yourself.  You will most likely need to have access to some replacement parts – like the stem for the handlebars, the seat post, the seat itself, pedals, as the ones you would get from the manufacturer may not fit you best. 

In the case of the direct order option, most of the manufacturers will work with you via phone, email or by offering sizing charts on their Web site, to help you decide on the size of frame for your bike.  With respect to the assembly process, many of the subsystems for your new bike will come assembled, but you still will be required to tune and adjust the final assembly.  

So as you can see – the process requires you to do some work!  

Of course your alternative is very simple — just find the store in your vicinity that carries the type and brand of bikes you would like to test and buy.  Most of these stores will help you decide on what particular bike will fit you best and after you make your selection — they will tune / custom fit the bike to you.   This is a very important procedure for most of us as it will help you avoid significant future strain and pain !!! 

 

Bicycling in Bulgaria – Explore Etara, Sokolski Manastir Area

Mountain Biking – Etara, Gabrovo, Near by Balkan mountains

Well folks I am sure you would like to get information on yet another beautiful site in Bulgaria where you can test your skills and physical endurance.  Which is this area / place?  Well it is on the north of the Balkan range (on the north side of the Shipka Mountain pass) and South of the town of Gabrovo.  The map below shows the location I am describing.  

By biking here you can have a great experience both where exercise is concerned as well as experiencing the history, art and culture of 18-19th century Bulgaria.   


Here is a set of images to give you an idea as to what you would experience.  First a quick view of the open air museum of Etara

Beautiful Architecture in Etara  Etara near Gabrovo

Here is a link to the official Web site of the Etara museum –  you can use it to to get a list of the various activities and exhibitions you can see while visiting.

Etara Crafts

 

 

 

Bansko Mountain Biking

Bansko Mountain Biking – an Excellent Location

The summer is here!  The temperatures are rising…the sun is getting really hot…so what do you do?  Well, one option is to head into the mountains and getting both the great biking as well as experiencing a cooler weather.  If you can make it to Eastern Europe this summer – then here is another recommendation for a great mountain biking location.   Check out the town of Bansko, Bulgaria and the Pirin mountain! Bansko mountain biking is great and a must do!

Mountain Biking in the Pirin mountain  Mountain biking and views

Bansko is located in the Southwest corner of Bulgaria – about two and a half hours south of Sofia.  


There are many things to do in Bansko – you can enjoy several days of biking around different trails in the near by Pirin mountain park, you can use the chair lift and get high in the mountain and get a rush from a downhill ride or you can just ride up into the mountain and enjoy the natural beauty of the forest, fields and views;

Accomodations-wise, the Kempinski hotel in Bansko is top notch — here is a photo – judge for yourself. I doubt you can find many as spectacular locations and views:

The pool at the Kempinski Bansko  View of Kempinski Bansko

Here are some of the places in the near by Pirin mountain you will likely experience:

Pirin mountain biking trails  Biking in the Pirin mountain, Bulgaria

 

 

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.

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: bikeleague.org

 

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.

 

GoPro Camera — The New Hero3 is Here…

The GoPro camera — Hero3 is finally being released !   Yes, this is (in my opinion) the best camera for the biking crowd – it is durable and simple to use.  And of course, the main advantage it offers is its versatility and applicability via accessories to all of us who want to include the camera as part of the treks we take whether on the road or off the road in the mountains / fields.

 

Go Pro Hero3 new camera

 

The new GoPro camera — Hero 3 come with built-in Wi-Fi, 4K video resolution (1440p black version, 1080p on white and silver versions), 12 mp stills (black version) and is 30% smaller and 25% lighter than the previous GoPro Hero2 version.

 

 

Overall an amazing feat of engineering!

I am looking forward to owning one of these and taking some excellent video of various trails….

And of course – you can purchase the camera from Amazon.com — I guess still those are being pre-ordered….Here is the link, and of course the accessories necessary to attach the camera to your bike:

           

The camera is really producing amazing video — here are the specs and of course a sample video from the GoPro Web site:

  • Professional 4K Cinema 15 fps / 2.7K cinema 30 fps / 1440p 48 fps / 1080p 60 fps / 960p 100 fps /720p 120 fps and more video capture
  • 12MP photo capture with 30 fps burst
  • Wi-Fi Built-In
  • Wi-Fi Remote Compatible (included)
  • GoPro App Compatible (FREE)
  • 197’/ 60m Waterproof Housing*
  • Assorted mounts and hardware included for attaching to helmets, gear and more

These(on the left) are the specs that make the Hero3 Cameras so great…

Here is the link to the GoPro Camera 

 

 

 

What a Litigeous Society….Yes, I meant this one…

Well folks — this is a new high point in a litigeous society !!!   Look at the article below — I actually pulled it in from Bicycle Retailer magazine / web site — because it looks so improbable… But do I believe it?  Yes, absolutely —  I can see how the grief stricken parents are looking at all possible reasons to explain the tragic death of their child….But all in all I do not see the reason in their action.

from the article named: Strava countersues in death of California cyclist

From Bicycle Retailer

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (BRAIN) — Strava has filed a response in San Francisco’s Superior Court denying responsibility for all 26 charges set forth in a negligence lawsuit stemming from the 2010 death of a cyclist who was killed while using the popular personal fitness mobile application.  

Strava also countersued William K. Flint I, the father of Kim Flint Jr. and administrator of his estate, saying that when Flint Jr. joined Strava on Oct. 7, 2009, he electronically signed and agreed to Strava’s terms and conditions, a part of which excludes Strava from responsibility of legal claims or demands arising from a user’s connection to the site.

Flint Jr., 41, died on June 19, 2010, when he collided with an automobile while attempting to defend his “King of the Mountain” on a ride in Orinda, California’s Tilden Park. King of the Mountain is the term Strava uses to identify the fastest rider on a particular segment, clocked by GPS. The Strava app allows users to record ride times and ranks riders on individual segments. Flint was apparently trying to regain the King of the Mountain title he had recently lost at the time of his death. (Related: King of the (Down) Hill)

His parents filed a negligence lawsuit against Strava in June, saying the company encouraged dangerous behavior by failing to warn cyclists that the road conditions were not suited for racing, and not taking adequate measures to ensure KOM challenges took place on safe courses.  

In the countersuit, Strava contends that it is not liable for damages in Flint Jr.’s death because it was the result of his negligence, not the company’s. Strava claims that Flint Jr. was riding recklessly over the posted speed limit on the wrong side of the road when he crashed. 

A case management conference is scheduled in the case on Nov. 21.

I find this event rather disturbing — I myself use a number of iPhone applications that allow me to track my statistics for the rides I do.  I have added several write-ups on this blog about these software applications.   Check them out!

A Google Smart Phone Application

iPhone Application

And Another Application Set

The first iPhone application I tested and the first testing of it

But I have not thought for one second that I may bring legal action against anyone associated with the development of these applications….What is the point?  Even without the legal disclaimers, it is obvious "DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE ROAD"!!!  For any reason!!!

What do you think?   And enjoy your biking experiences!

 

Exciting New Ideas for Transport and Commuting

There has been a lot of discussion in various media outlets about the fact that many people — VERY large number of people — would prefer to have options for commuting other than the one based on driving cars or riding public buses… Many cities are implementing light rail systems – even in the US!!! but that is not an economically easy proposition – the investments required are huge and the ROI on those under big debates. 

So what then?  Well, several cities around the world are proposing new forms of infrastructure to enable commuters — veloways that are connecting in a safe way large portion of the city.

The idea is to develop a network of surface roads with SAFE bike lanes which in turn are connected to a high speed elevated bike highways… Here is the latest proposal from Australia

 

••••••

Separately an interesting proposal has been made for the city of London in the UK as well:

 

What do you think?

 

A Glitch in the Cycle Tracker PRO or Super Speed on My Bike

Last week I posted a quick update on my 29-inch HardTail Rockhopper mountain bike and the high speeds it can achieve as a result of the nice 29-inch wheels… This week I did my usual morning ride to meet a friend and fired up the Cycle Tracker PRO software to record my to and from treks. Well I did have a nice ride with good speeds (als as a result of the good hills along the way) but on the way back it turns out I hit EXTRAORDINARY speeds !!! 

Take a look at the snap from the Speed Graph 

Crazy Speed on a Recent Ride Do you believe this? Cycle Tracker PRO snapshot

I would say that is a glitch in the Cycle Tracker PRO tracking algorithm….or else I have gained magical capabilities 🙂  

Who knows?!?! May be I have 🙂