Last weekend I posted a bunch of photos from the great trails in Texas – if you like mountain biking, the spring in and around Austin, Texas is a great time to experience nature from the bike seat… You get to see great colors, may be even encounter some wild life on the trails.
This April has been wet – tons of rains in the area – resulted in greenery everywhere and of course tons of wild flowers.
As a result of the rains, the local creeks are also running wild – so you may need to be careful on some of the trails. Lucky for me – by this Saturday the trails along Barton Creek (photos below) were almost dry with only some areas that were still under water – but easy to bike through on your bike.
I think the photos speak for themselves – April is a great time to go out and ride the trails.
This winter and spring have both been fairly unpredictable and actually not cold. As a result both the trails and the actual biking conditions have been rather pleasant if not a bit muddy. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to hit … Continue reading →
Well, the weather is getting better every week and as a result we can get more and more mountain bike ride time on the weekends. The trails always bring some surprises and so they did this time around – I came across a Great Impressive Swirly Tree on the Barton Creek trail….
In the spirit of the new discoveries – I have come across also a new goal – new bike to go after. The Following from Evil Bikes. I started a page for these bikes – you can check it out here. At any rate, more to experience…
Two bikes definitely worth considering – and I am doing so seriously!
There is the long standing question as to whether bikers should listed to audio while on the bikes. The issue at hand is safety. While you are biking you need to be well aware of the conditions and events around you. Whether it is a car approaching you or animal or someone is asking you to stop – there are many examples why you need to have a pretty good hearing and focused attention while on your bicycle.
Having said that – it is also very pleasant to have the companionship of a good playlist while you are on the bike. Multiple biking exercise tracking programs offer good integration with your audio player. I use Runtastic Mountain Bike PRO, and it does provide for integrated access to your audio library and playlists.
You can see the front panel/dashboard of Runtastic and can see the icon (notes) for music player, which is interfaced to your Apple Application
So then the question becomes, if you are safe on your bike, what earphones should you use. The regular wired earphones are fine but still you get to deal with the mess of wires
Enters the Bluetooth earphone set – nice alternative to wires. Recently I tested the Mpow Seashell Bluetooth headphones. The idea and the convenience they offer is good.
You get good and clear sound from the buds and can even make phone calls – you have an integrated remote control for the volume control and an integrated microphone.
Now, about the negative aspects of these headphones:
while the sound quality is OK, you are more than pre-occupied adjusting the microphone and the overall fit of the headphones in your ear.
Turns out – based on my experience – the headphones body that is suposed to fit in your ear, is actually too bulky and too heavy forcing constant adjustments and push
I believe one session with the headphones will make you see
The designers have strived to make the headphones very simple to use and this shows. They are good – UNTIL it comes to vigorous exercise. In that condition, the headphones naturally want to come out….As a result one has to constantly adjust the heardphones and push them snug into your ear canal.
Here is a video snippet covering the Mpow
Well, you be the judge – but I will pass on this heaphones set.
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!
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…
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
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 information
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;
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)
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;
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!
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?
Take a look at the beauty and and think of the miles and miles of road bike you can pedal here?
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 ?
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…
And 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…
Here is another contraption – a bike on the streets of Beijing
This baby can haul some stuff…You agree, right..?
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…
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!