After "weighing in" this morning after my shower, the diagnosis is clear: I haven't changed.
Last year, around this time, I weighed in about 160. By mid-summer when I did my 300 Warriors ride, I was down to about 151 or 152. My weight has gone up a bit since then (and my riding has dropped off), but I wasn't too concerned. I mean, what's a couple of pounds here or there?
Well, I'm back up to 160. And I know I've lost a lot of muscle weight. I wish I could just blame it on not shaving my legs in a while, but I'm not _that_ hairy [yet].
So, like every other American out there, I'm going to set some goals to lose weight. I figure I'll be down around 150 by the end of the summer--at which point I'll be able to start gaining again so I can hit my wintertime goal of 160.
Snow and ice all over. Cold.
Rollers tonight? I suppose I'd better.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I was hoping--and working--to get the review posted before Christmas. It's now Christmas Eve--seriously, it is, I'm not making this up, it caught me by surprise too--and I'm not done. But I'm pretty close. It's well over half written, the run time data is logged, the beam shots are taken, the specs are tabulated.
While I was doing all of this there was one striking fact that seemed to underpin this years review: the price is coming down across the board.
Last year, the average price was $420. This year it's $355. Last year, the lowest priced light was $179 (and used an NiMH battery). This year the least expensive light is $129, puts out the same amount of light and has a Li-Ion battery. Last year, the most expensive light was $995. This year it's $580 (both were Lupines).
In addition to becoming cheaper, fully half of the lights this time have a claimed output of 700 lumens or more. That's astounding.
The other shocker was the price of the British lights. The US Dollar isn't doing so hot against the Pound--as of today, it takes nearly $1.50 to equal one Pound--but both the Hope Vision 4 and the Exposure MaXx-D came in under $400. And both claim greater than 900 lumens.
This is what I've hoped to see. As the LED market heats up, you, the consumer, is the winner. More light, less cash. Just what the doctor ordered.
And with that, I'm out. It's vacation time. I wish you all Happy Holidays! Be sure to ride some, to offset all that good food.
Friday, December 19, 2008
We don't get much snow around here. Usually, we'll get a dusting in January or early February, but this year, Christmas came early and we've had nearly continuous snow cover all week. I participate in a group off road ride most Wednesday nights, and this week was the ride canceled?
Not a chance.
In fact, usually there are 2-6 participants, and this week we had 5. Not too shabby considering the fact that we weren't even sure we could ride the proposed route.
My bike of choice? My 'cross bike, naturally. I did run knobbies, though. What a blast. I do have a few observations, though. In no particular order:
Using skinny tires to cut through the snow seemed to do about as well as the fatter tires.
It doesn't take a whole lot of light to illuminate a large swath of snow.
Full fenders aren't such a good idea. They pack up... fast.
Riding in snow is an excellent work out, on the way up the hill.
Riding in snow is a good way to work on down hill technique. Particularly in the corners.
Riding loose helps when you hit something you can't see.
Unidentifiable bumps in the snow are best avoided.
Ruts can be bad when descending.
It may feel like you are going fast, but you're not.
Overall, it was a great ride, but a lousy way to test lights. After about 10 minutes, I stopped trying to critically view the pros and cons of the various lights and just rode. That white snow reflects it all back. I think I could have ridden with a AA-powered Mini-Mag. And not the LED one, either.
If you've never ridden in snow, or haven't for a long time, give it a go. Just use a bike that has disc brakes, they actually work.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
As human beings, I've often wondered at how well we forget. I am, I might add, particularly adept at it. I don't remember much of my childhood--though if you asked me about what happened last week, it'd be about the same. The amazing thing is that we can forget something experienced so fully as we experience suffering. (Of course, there is a down side to forgetting suffering--many downsides--but I'm not going to focus on that here.)
When I ride, I suffer. Granted, sometimes it's a good suffering. Sometimes, though, it's just suffering. Thankfully, by the time I've collapsed on the floor at home, it's nothing but sweetness. There's no more pain. My mind doesn't store that information and the next time I head out, I'm ready to push myself up that same climb that killed me before.
I can't tell you how many times (because I've forgotten, right?) I've gotten to a certain part of a nasty climb and thought, "Wait a minute! This hurt last time, too! What am I doing here?!" Because I don't remember the pain, however, the more I ride, the more I want to get out and ride again.
Unfortunately, though it might take a little longer to forget, if I'm off the bike long enough, I'll forget the pleasure of riding. Sometimes it'll be a particularly busy week, or bad weather, and before I know it, I'm watching more TV and spending less time on the bike. Sure, I look at my bikes longingly as I pass them, but it just seems like too much trouble to make the time for a ride.
This is especially true in the winter. I can't imagine having any fun riding in the cold--not when I can read a book or watch TV inside my nice, warm house. The less I ride, the less I want to ride. For that reason, I just need to force myself--through sheer will--to get out and put in some miles.
I need it, though and once I do it, I'll want it too.
Monday, December 15, 2008
This world is considered by many to be a pretty gloomy place. Most of these people aren't cyclists. Even cyclists, though, can get discouraged this time of year.
It comes as no surprise, then, that there seems to be more holidays than there used to be. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the US Postal Service started getting Talk Like A Pirate Day off next year.
Of course, the big holiday, Christmas, is still more than a week off (and I've already gained more than five pounds just anticipating it). And yet, it isn't often that I get presents for my favorite pastime: cycling. Strange, isn't it? I mean, my favorite thing to do plus everyone in my family buying gifts equals non cycling-related gifts.
I've often wondered why--espesially when winter starts to wear off and I'm left wanting new gear. Why?! I've managed, through the superior art of fine reasoning, figured out why.
The answer: Christmas is at the wrong time of year.
About the time Thanksgiving rolls around and the weather turns cold, I start to eat more and move less. It's not that I wouldn't want to keep riding often, I just don't want to ride often in cold, wet weather. So, I don't ride as much.
It is in the time that I start to think of other hobbies of mine. I think of books I want to read. I think of gadgets I want to own. I don't think about cycling because I don't want to brave the cold. (Of course, if I do get out and brave the cold, I enjoy it, but the additional fat accumulating around my brain makes me forget this. I could go on, but I'll leave that to another post.)
What I need is Cycling Christmas. Cycling Christmas should happen sometime in the Spring. In the Spring, I'm really trying to get into cycling again. I'm working on my bikes, and I'm drooling over the latest stuff I "need" for my bike.
Of course, those not into cycling might complain about their gifts. But hey, if you don't want that new handlebar, I'm willing to take it off your hands.
Friday, December 12, 2008
As I mentioned, I've been running the lights on my burn time analysis rig--"rig" sounds better than "cardboard tube with a photovoltaic cell in one end and a fan on the other"--and so far, the lights are spot on, or slightly better than, claimed. Except for the Stella 120N.
The Stella--claimed run time is 2 hrs--ran for 3 and a half hours! Normally, I'm thrilled when batteries last longer than claimed. It shows that they (the manufacturers) err on the side of caution. Knowing the variability of batteries and the variability in the LEDs, this is a good thing. They state the minimum you'll get. But this was an increase of 75%. Something was fishy. I called... er... emailed them. Their response? The specifications are understated. So, if you pick one of these up, know that you'll get longer than the two hours promised. In my case, much, much longer.
One more thing, since my post on the headbands I've received them from Light and Motion (which works with any of their helmet mounted lights) and Lupine (which works with any of their lights) with NiteRider sending one this coming week. Essentially, if there is a headband offered for the lights I've got for this review, I've got the headband, too.
Finally, NiteRider also has an in-car charging kit for the MiNewt Mini-USB. This is an adaptor with a USB port in it. Plug the mini-USB cable into the port and charge up your battery. But, wait, that's not all! If you order now... sorry, wrong commercial. The adaptor will also charge anything else that uses a mini-USB, or standard USB, plug to charge. Cell phones, GPS, or mittens can all be run off of this adaptor. Multi-use is better.
Have a great weekend, and if you are in the Pacific Northwest, try to keep warm. At least frozen dirt isn't mud.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I've said it before, and I mean it, it's all about you. Really it is. I apologize that I have not been keeping this ol' blog as up to date as I'd have liked. Rest assured that we're chugging along collecting run time data, using the snot out of the lights in all kinds of weather.
To make amends, let me show you some beam shots.
L&M Seca 700 Race:
DiNotte 400L (standard lenses):
And, the Telsa by Lupine:
I find it interesting to compare the 4-LED lights. For the most part, their beams are surprisingly similar.
More to come in the over the next few weeks.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
As I was reviewing my light preview posts, I realized that I had omitted one. The Stella 120N from Light and Motion.
(Photo courtesy of Light and Motion)
While similar to its brighter sibling, the 120 comes with an NiMH battery and a trickle charger. However, it also comes with a much lower cost of entry... right about $130. This makes it a natural competitor to the MiNewt Mini-USB.
The light head features tool-less mounting via a rubber strap and the light swivels side to side. Also like the Mini-USB, the switch is merely on/off.
The lens is identical to the brighter Stella 200, so the beam pattern is good.
In other news, I mentioned last week that many of the lights were coming--or had available--with headbands. Since then I've spoken with Light and Motion and they are sending out their headband and NiteRider has one as well for the MiNewt series of lights. We'll be checking that out as well.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Rides are often unexpected. Sometimes just going on a ride is unexpected. More often, though, what happens on the ride is unexpected.
On Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, I headed out to meet what would turn out to be 13 others for a ride in the fabled "Corner Canyon" in Draper, Utah. Though it was only about a 30 minute drive for me, I rarely venture that far out for a ride. I was told that conditions on the trail were perfect so I took my old, but very light, Cannondale F4000. It is set up fairly light right now with some semi-slick tires.
What I didn't expect was the trail to be coated first with a slippery layer of black mud and then a layer of dead leaves on top of the mud. The unexpected outcome was just how out of control I was. I mean, I expect to be slow and cumbersome on the downhills, but this added a whole new level of unpredictability.
Don't worry, my knee is healing nicely. I'm not even wearing bandages today.
My next ride was on Saturday. It was cloudy, but calm. It was also quite chilly, but I dressed appropriately, for once, and was neither too cold, nor did I over-heat. My traditional Thanksgiving over-eating (It's tradition, who am I to argue with tradition?) combined with my general lack of riding lately set me up for disaster. I expected to be slow. I expected to wear out quickly. I expected to kick my gut with my thighs as I rode.
What was unexpected was how great I felt. While I didn't set any records, I posted a very respectable (for me) average speed over the 30 miles of the ride.
Plus, it justified all the pie I had later that night. (Eating lots of pie wasn't entirely unexpected, though.)