Well, you asked for it, so here it is.
The sun gods were smiling down upon me this week. The rain paused long enough to allow me to get some good beam shots. The camera settings were the same as last time, so the images should be directly comparable, should you wish to do that sort of thing.
First up, the 400L on High Beam:
As you can see, it's a flood-type beam pattern. This is because it uses optics like those in the 500L. Now, since some of you have asked about the amount of light that the medium level puts out, I've taken one of those too. Here's the 400L on medium:
I also re-took an image of the Ultra 5W on high:
As you can see, the medium 400L is similar to the high beam on the Ultra 5W. Now, for the feature that sets the 400L apart from its siblings. Here's the 400L with the amber on high:
In person the light isn't so reddish. It's really a yellow light, I'm not sure why the camera's sensor got all confused. But this shows the intensity of the light, if not the color.
So, there you have it. DiNotte's commuter specific front light.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Well, you asked for it, so here it is.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Ok, I might be a litte slow on the uptake, here, but I've never been fond of clear glasses for riding. Jon likes them, but the whole reason I wear contacts is so that I don't have clear lenses on all the time.
That's all changed... sort of.
You see, I've been rocking the BBB Winner glasses. These things come with dark lenses, orange lenses, yellow lenses and mirrored clear lenses. That's right mirrored clear. In the image, you can see that the lenses are mirrored -- in person they don't look this reflective. The left side of the picture is taken though the other lens.
This mirror coating makes the glasses not quite 100% transparent, but rather makes them have a 90% transmission rate. This is the reason for the "sort of" above. I love these lenses. I've used them at dawn, I've used them at dusk. I've used them when it's raining out -- all of the lenses are coated with a hydrophobic coating -- and have really come to see the benefit of a clear-ish lens. Now, the orange lenses are still my favorite -- unless it's really sunny out -- but the clear are a very, very close second.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
As a test of my current fitness/strength, Squaw Peak Road is a good one. When I first tackled it on a road bike, I thought it'd kill me. I've since gotten so only the steepest section (the last 1/4 mile) kills me. Today, was my first test of the season, and I was a little worried because of what a slacker I've been over the winter.
There is a magical time of the year around here, when all the high mountain roads are still closed to cars. Although this usually means more debris on the roads, the trade-off (absolutely no car traffic) is worth it. I didn't realize, but today was one of those days. I got an extra bit of adrenaline as I rode past the heavy metal gate and I managed to shift up a couple gears--only for a hundred yards or so, though. Though a little chilly, there were large pockets of warm air--just where I'd expect them--flowing down the parts of the mountain exposed to the sun in the day. Alternately, as I would go through an area where the road wound through a ravine, it would chill me to the bone.
I've gotten fairly adept at reading the landscape and predicting wind and thermals--especially so in Provo canyon where so much of my riding takes place.
This morning was also very warm--about as warm as it is now at 12:30 p.m., in fact. I knew this would be the case. As many cyclists, I'm part weatherman. I knew tonight the temps were predicted to drop with a massive snow storm heading this way. I knew that at the front of that storm would be warm weather. It was beautiful.
A note to weather-related companies: You should look into hiring a few cyclists. Not only could they use the money to fund their need for newer gear, but the world would benefit from their unsurpassed weather-predicting knowledge.
Anyway, needless to say, I was enjoying this climb thoroughly. Could anything have made it better? I was about to find out.
As I came upon a switch-back, I heard this strange gurgling/strangling/animal noise. I just knew I'd come around a corner and find a cougar feeding on a fresh kill. I was a little worried, but wasn't about to let a little thing like that prevent me from conquering this hill. I stood up through the steepest part of the bend and saw, to my relief and delight:
Turkeys. Lots. In fact, about 30 of them.
Today's ride will help as I hunker inside on the trainer the rest of the week.
Items that helped me enjoy this ride: A Blackbottoms vest we're reviewing. Combined with some Verge arm-warmers, I found both the ascent (vest unzipped) and descent comfortable.
Monday, March 26, 2007
No, that's not a typo in the title. Those Mad Engineers at DiNotte are at it again. This time, they've come up with a light -- one of the more unique -- that is specifically targeting the commuter. I know, this isn't their first commuter light -- the original Ultra 3W has a built in tail light for the commuter -- but that light is also nice off road. This one, while it would work off road just fine, is really for commuting. You see, while it looks like the 500L and 300L, it has one fundamental difference. As you can see below, the bottom lens is different -- if you have small children at home you are now humming Sesame Street's One of These Things is Not Like the Others.
You see, the bottom lens is a very wide beam for the amber LED housed behind it. Actually, it's like the tail light's lens. This is what sets the 400L apart from it's other 'L' siblings. The other two LEDs are high powered white emitters.
The idea is this, in rain or fog you have the amber light for flashing mode, or as a fog light -- it fills in right in front of the tire. In full dark situations, you run the the white LEDs to light your way. By putting them in one light head, you reduce the clutter on your handlebars, and you can extend your battery life by running the amber one when being seen is all you need.
Now, I know what you are saying, "Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?" Yes and no. Sure, you can turn on your white LEDs on flashing mode, it's true. Heck, it's true of DiNotte's lights. But you can't change the lenses on the fly. By incorporating the amber light, they've used that wide lens so that -- from a cars perspective -- more light is visible off axis than with normal narrow beam lenses, the type found on the white LED lights. Is it the right light for you? Well, this is probably going to be a niche light. If you primarily use your light for off road riding with the occasional commute, then I'd suggest checking out a different light. However, if you need a light for commuting only, then this may well be your light.
Friday, March 23, 2007
A package arrived from Cannondale this week. In it, were shoes and a multi-tool--two items perhaps not normally associated with Cannondale. The shoes are Diadora (owned by Cannondale) Ergo Carbon mountain shoes.
The next item is the Head Wrench multi-tool. It is designed to sit in the head-tube of a Cannondale Lefty fork. Of course, its compact shape would work for just stowing in your pack/bag as well. One of the less-obvious features: There's a glue-less patch kit in the top part.
Keep your eye on GearReview for their forthcoming reviews.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Today I didn't get a chance to ride, but I did get an opportunity to go to the dentist and get some cavities filled. Yay. As I was sitting in the chair staring up at nothing--the dental assistant having removed my glasses rendering me blind--I started to think: "Self," I said, "this is a lot like cycling." Being the benevolent person I am, I will now share these observations with you.
5 Ways Going to the Dentist is Like Riding a Bike:
Okay, this one is obvious, but at times both hurt. Yesterday, when I was doing a hill workout--hitting a lot of really steep (some greater than 20% grade), but short hills--I was in pain. A couple of times I really had a hard time keeping my legs turning instead of collapsing. Likewise, in the chair today, I was quite uncomfortable. In fact, there were times when it hurt a lot. (I could also point out that I enjoy the hurt that comes from cycling, but that's a difference, not a similarity.)
2. It'll make you stronger.
Suffering on the bike makes you stronger. I ride hills, I push my speed, I increase my distance--all with the hope that I'll get hugely massive legs that can crush my competition--should I ever decide to compete. My dentist today made me stronger by replacing weak organic--dare I say, cavity-prone--enamel with superior man-made filling-material (whatever it is made up of) which, presumably, won't ever get cavities. (Remind me again why I don't want cavities? Oh yeah, the pain.)
3. It costs money.
I used to tell people that cycling was cheap (at the time, I was a teenager living at home, and my bike was a gift to me). Sure, going on a ride doesn't cost anything, but there's always something to replace, something to fix, and many, MANY things to upgrade. I'd say that the worst of going to the dentist is the bill. I guess this, for me, is the biggest reason not to get cavities.
4. I produce extra amounts of saliva
Really, I can't figure out why I do, but on the bike, I produce lots of saliva. I constantly need to spit. Also, there's something about leaving my mouth open for an hour with hands and instruments inside that just makes my mouth water and water. (And as a side note, have you noticed how hard it is to swallow when you're like that? Plus, what ARE you swallowing? Because that isn't just saliva collecting in there.)
5. I have to do it, to make up for how poorly I treat my body
I'd say that one of the many differences between me and a professional cyclist is how I eat. I really don't eat like a cyclist should. However, I ride a lot to keep my weight down despite what I'm always shoveling down my throat. I never used to get cavities. Never. Then, I discovered soda (pop). To me, it is the elixir of life--except it's bad for me. I can't stop drinking it. The consequence? I'm getting cavities more often now--despite my improved brushing, flossing and mouthwash habits. I go to the dentist so I can keep drinking soda... sort-of.
I'd still rather ride my bike.
Posted by Jon at 8:01 PM
Monday, March 19, 2007
There are a few reasons why I played hooky on Friday... one of them was the weather. The others... well, lets just stick with the weather. It was such a nice day, I felt like getting out and doing some mixed terrain riding and bringing along the camera for good measure.
The ride itself wasn't terribly long, nor was it what I would term epic in any way. It was just nice to be out on a bike in the sun in shorts and short sleeved jersey.
Spring is sprung:
This tree is in my front yard. It's an ornamental plum tree. This means that it has plums, but they are only slightly larger than large grapes.
Lush greenery in the valley, this picture sums up why I love Oregon:
Obligatory handlebar shot, while riding:
Not the only one enjoying the weather, these cows are part of OSU's agriculture program -- a friend of mine helps run the ranch:
The road narrows:
Obligatory bike shot -- I've mentioned before that I like 'cross bikes for this sort of riding. Friday was no different:
Bridge -- Interesting story, this forest is owned by OSU and there was a narrower bridge here. It began to rot and there wasn't any funds to replace it, so they just shut it down. Then, while replacing the bridge pictured below in another part of the county, the figured that they could relocate it here and donate it to the school. Lucky for us, we got a bridge back:
Some trail -- this is the trail the bridge leads to:
The trail leads to some double track:
Which led to some still soggy single track:
Two roads diverged in the woods, and I, I took the one that went down:
Some firewood -- this is mostly from some downed trees due to the storms this last winter:
I really like having this forest so near my home. It's nice to get out in the trees and get lost for a couple of hours. Now, this is a gear blog, so to keep this on topic, I ran Geax Mezcal tires (they roll nicely on the pavement sections), the bike is set up with the BBB pulleys, as well. I did not run lights on this ride!
Friday, March 16, 2007
I really like working on my bicycles. When I can do it on my own time that is. I swap out components often, and it's a lot of fun. What isn't so much fun is bicycle maintenance. I always seem to have one or more bikes that need adjustments, cleaning or fixes of some sort. If I can pick and choose when I can make the time, this isn't a problem. But when it's my commuter bike, and I need to get to work the next day, this is a problem. It means that I either drive -- shudder -- or I stay up late getting things fixed.
Usually, what happens is this: I'll be riding home -- or to work -- and I'll notice that something isn't working right. Most recently this was the shifting. No problem, I ride in Oregon and I'm used to the environment messing up my shifting. Water and gunk and mud and dirt is always making it's way into the cable housing. I'll just deal with it until I have the time to remedy the situation. I fiddle with the barrel adjusters and get it sort of working. Knowing that I had resurrected the cables and housing before, and that their days were numbered, I went ahead and ordered new cables and housing.
Side note: Lately, when I've been ordering wear items -- brake pads, housing, cables, tubes, etc. -- I order more than I'll need and stock up. See comment above about having to fix things at night so I can ride the next day.
In the meantime, I needed to get my shifting pseudo-working. I lubed the cables and hoped for the best. The best was not to be. Tolerable was not to be. I turned out that I could shift to an easier gear just fine, but had to shift twice, then back once, to get one gear harder. Ugh. The next day, the cables arrived and I found the real culprit. This wasn't just a case of gunked up housing. This was some else.
See the little wires sticking out of the housing below? (It's grainy, I know, but I had to blow it up so you could see them.) They are all in a row. Yes, normally there is a ferrule there, I removed it for demonstration purposes.
The housing that I had on the bike had those little wires sticking out and binding the cable at the cable stop.
So, why am I telling you this? Well, other than the fact that it is a mildly interesting anecdote, it serves to prove a point. Had I swapped out the housing earlier -- I did know that it's days were numbered -- I could have done it on my time -- not late at night -- and wouldn't have had to put up with the headache of the shifting issues. Maintenance is a very good thing on a bike that is ridden in adverse conditions.
Spring is just around the corner. If you've been on your bike this winter -- and riding a trainer doesn't count -- if you've been on your bike outside this winter, chances are it's taken a beating. Throw some new cables and housing on there, swap out the chain -- especially if you've got more than 1000 miles on it, and check the brake pads. Clean the bike, inspect for cracks, paint chips, anything that can cause you grief down the road. A little work now, saves a lot of work later.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
As you might have guessed, it is very easy to find things I want to buy. With the recent Nashbar and Performance sales (and the corresponding emails and print catalogs), I am bombarded with things I want. However, today I will list just one.
When mountain biking, I have a Topeak Alien. I love this tool. In fact, I often use it at home because it saves me from hunting around my garage for the right tools. However, on the road bike (when I don't carry a hydration pack on my back), I'd like something less bulky.
Today's item is thoroughly untested. No matter, I still want it. If it was tested, I'd probably have it, so it wouldn't find its way to a WIWTBT. This can be found at Performance Bike (click on the title).
E3 e-Tool Macro Multi-Tool:
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I am very fond of Crank Brothers' Eggbeaters pedals. Though they have, by adding metal or plastic or both, come out with many different pedals--all with the same functionality--I still prefer the standard Eggbeaters.
Among my many sets, I have one from 2002. I'd say it is still going strong, but it isn't. Or, rather, wasn't. You see, my love for the Eggbeaters has grown--ever since I slapped $15 on the barrel-head and bought me a rebuild kit.
For $15, all of the internals (including the bolt holding it all together) are replaced. All I needed was a small flat-head screw-driver, rags for cleaning off the old grease, new grease and snap ring pliers. (For an additional $5 at Harbor Freight, I picked up a working set of these task-specific pliers.)
After about 45min of poking, prying, wiping, and assembling, my old Eggbeaters run like new--even if they don't look like it.
Monday, March 12, 2007
No, this isn't a post about eating your greens, staying away from fatty foods and, generally, eating like your parents told you to. No, this post is about eating and drinking, while riding -- specifially, it's about a new-ish energy bar and a follow up on the E-Load stuff I got a few months back.
I noticed an advertisement for these bars on Cyclingnews.com (link over on the right*) and thought I should check them out. They have an offer where for $1 -- to cover shipping -- they'll send you two of their organic bars. Normally, the bars are $0.75 each, plus shipping, so this is a pretty good deal, really. The bars are also a little larger than your run of the mill energy bar, so the value is there even at full price.
So far, I've eaten the lemon flavored bar. To be honest, I've tasted better lemon energy bars, but those have had a frosting or other coating to sweeten them and the Cheetah has none of this. I'm expecting better things from the strawberry and peach/apricot bars, since these flavors seem to go better with the other ingredients in the bars.
What the bars are is moist. No chalky dryness here. They are easily chewed and won't break your teeth, even in winter. For that fact alone, since taste is a personal thing -- I understand that some folks like eggplant -- I recommend you invest a buck and check out the bars for yourself. If you are into buying Organic, this is an excellent choice for an energy bar.
Since it has been winter around here -- and everywhere else north of the equator -- I have not yet used the E-Load drink mix to it's fullest. I just don't seem to sweat that much when it's 25 degrees Fahrenheit outside. However, even when it's cold, I can appreciate acid buffering. To this end, E-Load seems to be as good as Cytomax, but with a much lighter flavor. I really like the flavor of the E-Load and I especially like the fact that it doesn't leave more than a hint of an aftertaste. I didn't have any problems using the stuff when I was disinclined to drink, based on flavor alone. There are some nasty sports drinks out there, and this stuff is not on that list. As the weather warms up I'll have to try it when I am sweating a ton and see if, in fact, it does bump Cytomax as my drink of choice. Until then, it is a very strong contender.
*You might have noticed that the things have changed around here. I've had the old look for more than a year and a half and thought it was time to freshen things up. One unexpected benefit is that this page now loads faster on smartphones, so it's easier to get your Lactic Acid Threshold fix on the go. I've also added more links over on the right --->. For the most part, those are places that I visit regularly. I've also added a spot for light manufacturers/distributers and I'll be adding more links to the companies whose stuff is currently on review. If you have any suggestions about what products you'd like to see reviewed, let me know and I'll get on it. It could be commuter gear, road cycling equipment, mountain biking equipment or a mixture thereof.
Posted by James at 10:17 AM
Friday, March 09, 2007
A few years ago, a friend of mine decided to start running. He didn't really do any exercise before that. Understandably, he started to lose all his middle-aged weight that a desk-job had slowly been adding on him. Soon after that, he started to branch out and do triathlons. What I found interesting was the way he jumped in to racing so quickly. He sometimes would ask me why I don't race. My response? "Racing takes all the fun out of riding. I couldn't enjoy the trail or road if I were racing."
Last year, I signed up for LOTOJA. I knew that if I didn't work hard all year and do things like discipline myself enough to lose some extra weight, I wouldn't finish. As a result, I have never been in such good shape as I was last year. Because of that "race", I was able to do rides I never thought I'd do.
Ever since LOTOJA, I've been stumbling around in my training, so to speak, with no clear direction. Thankfully, I now have the Tour de Cure to get me motivated--what with the chance to ride (only if I get in shape and can keep up, though) with 3-time Tour de France champion Greg Lemond.
After telling my friend how I felt about racing those few years ago, he told me, "It's the racing that makes it fun. It is the racing that motivates." I understand that now. As long as I have a race/ride as a goal in mind, I can get lost in my training. In fact, I've recently discovered that I'd rather not watch a movie while on the rollers--it distracts me too much from my training, and I don't push myself as hard.
Posted by Jon at 9:26 AM
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
As promised, I've taken some beam shots of DiNotte's new 300L. I didn't bother with any pictures of the light head because... well... it's exactly the same as the 500L.
Last night was perfect beam shot weather so I took advantage of it. The rains returned today, so I was lucky.
As usual, I used my Canon Rebel digital SLR camera in full manual mode (1.6 sec. exposure with f-stop of 3.2). I used a shorter exposure this time around than I did on my Light Review because all of the lights I was shooting were bright. I didn't want to over expose the shot.
First up, the 300L on it's own.
As you can see this is very much a spot light. The beam is tight and narrow, but projects very far.
For comparison, here's the 500L, also taken last night for a direct comparison.
The 500L is much wider and has a nice even spread. It doesn't project as far as the 300L, though.
If you want good even lighting with some serious projection, take a look at 500L and 300L combined. It's the perfect match.
Now, many of you are rocking the original 5W -- or even the Li-Ion 5W.
Again, decent spread for the amount of light it puts out, but has that darker spot in the middle. Now combine the 5W and 300L and you get more spread up close, with a nice spot to punch a hole in the darkness.
So if you have a 5W and are thinking of getting rid of it for a 500L, you might consider getting the cheaper 300L and using the 5W along with it, either helmet or handlebar mounted.
Monday, March 05, 2007
As I've mentioned before, I have strong opinions about jerseys. I really like the standard style with three pockets in the rear and a nice long zipper in the front. I like normal collars and sleeves. I don't like my jerseys too baggy, and definitely not too tight.
Though my opinion might not mesh with yours, I've finally posted the follow-up to my bib shorts review: a high-end jersey review. In this review, I tested four jerseys: Assos Equipe, Cannondale Climb, Giordana Forma, and Pearl Izumi MicroSensor. All of these are fantastic jerseys, and theres quite a wide price range from this group.
My top picks? Well read the review. If you've had different results with these jerseys, or want to suggest others we might want to take a look at. Make sure and leave a comment.
Also, though we don't like to admit it, James and I sometimes get off the bike a bit. We also just posted a review of two Keen shoes that will take you up the trail: Humbolt and Targhee. Check it out.
Friday, March 02, 2007
I think that Hoss is Latin for "good stuff, great prices". I really do. This week I received a couple of
shirts jerseys from them -- the new Polo Pony -- one short sleeved, the other long sleeved. The long sleeved version is pictured below.
While it might not look like a jersey, the fabric is of the technical/wicking variety and the jersey is very light weight. This is not a cold weather garment, rather it's a cool weather garment. Think of an early summer/late spring evening or night around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. There are no pockets, so bring your hydration pack.
The Polo Pony retails for $35 in the long sleeve version and $30 for the short sleeve.