Roam is a mountain bike movie by the Collective. It's been out for a few years now--in fact, it isn't the most recent release by the Collective. It's good though. Very good.
So, with Roam loaded on my computer, and my rollers positioned in front of my large 24" monitor, I got on the bike and started rolling. (Is that the proper term for riding my bike on rollers?) The music is good, and I was immediately drawn into the movie. Then, right off the bat, they started with the "helmet cam." I want to go on record as saying I love watching a nice-smooth (non-amature) helmet cam. I really get into it. For this reason, I almost wrecked a number of times. I mean, I couldn't just hold still, I had to dodge those trees! While this kept me on my toes (or my hands and knees as I picked myself up off the ground), it also meant that I had to often grab for a wall or divert my eyes from the screen to maintain my equilibrium.
While I found this movie distracting (a good thing), it didn't really motivate me. That is, I'm on a road bike, and I don't even own the kind of bike that these guys are riding. So, while it motivates me to have fun on my bike, that sort of feeling doesn't help when I'm suffering in a small stuffy room indoors in the winter.
The music is good, but is fairly laid-back. What this means for me is that I finish up the movie without having any fast-tempo workouts. If you're looking to spin for 45 minutes, then this will be fine. If you're looking to throw some interval-type training in the mix to get your heart-rate up, then you might want to look elsewhere.
1. How well it distracts me so I don't feel the pain. *****
2. How well it motivates me so I don't mind the pain--heck I might even enjoy it. *
3. How often I can watch it without getting bored. *****
4. How well the tempo of the movie (and its soundtrack) is suited for a good workout. **
5. Is it good enough to look forward to a roller session just so I can ride it? **
Overall, I give this movie a ***. While it's good and I enjoy it, I'd rather be sitting on my couch watching it.
Next week: Höllentour (Hell on Wheels)
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Yeah, that's right. A HID. I've been running nothing but LED lights for nearly 4 years now. But before that, I was a HID user. I feel like I'm at a 12 step program:
"Hi, I'm James, and I'm a recovering HID user. It's been 1278 days since my last HID fix..."
But I digress.
Back to the point, if you recall, NiteRider announced the SlickRock 900 last summer. Well, it's been a bit delayed but it will soon be available for purchase. Better yet, I've got one.
From the front, there is no mistaking that this is a halide arc lamp:
The NiMH battery is a bit on the large side...:
...Since it is NIMH, it doesn't quite pack the punch that a Li-Ion does, yielding an average run time:
NiteRider claims 2 hours and 15 minutes, and that's what we're seeing.
I'll have to report back later on my thoughts compared to the latest LEDs, but one thing I had forgotten, and was quickly reminded of, was the warming up that HIDs do. I still think it's cool to watch the light get brighter immediately after igniting the arc.
One of the reasons that they went back to the HID technology was that it's a teeny tiny light source. The smaller the light source, the easier it is to make it go where you want it to. Big light sources--like an array of LEDs--are harder to engineer the proper beam pattern.
Is HID making a comeback? I don't think so... but we'll see in the coming weeks as I swap between HID and LED.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Evidently, Utah is now officially the worst place to breath in the US. Well, right now anyway. Go ahead, pick a large city. Doesn't even come close. In fact, the 4 top spots are all taken by Utah cities. Nasty.
So, I'm on the rollers again. And again.
I've talked before about watching movies to distract me while riding on the rollers. Peoples tastes in movies vary greatly. However, cycling movies just go well with training indoor. Sure, I'll jump around and watch normal Hollywood movies from time to time, but if I really want to stay motivated to ride, I'll pop in a cycling movie.
As I've sat on my bike (on my rollers), watching some of these movies, it occurs to me that I have some experience that others might find valuable. Also, I could write about these movies and rate them--not on their merit as a piece of entertainment, but how well they keep me training. The following criteria will be used on each movie:
1. How well it distracts me so I don't feel the pain.
2. How well it motivates me so I don't mind the pain--heck I might even enjoy it.
3. How often I can watch it without getting bored.
4. How well the tempo of the movie (and its soundtrack) is suited for a good workout.
5. Is it good enough to look forward to a roller session just so I can ride it?
Of course, I'll be throwing in anything else that might seem pertinent at the time. If anyone wants any movie in particular reviewed, please post it in the comments. If it's not a cycling movie, I won't review it (but I might watch it). If I don't own it, please buy it for me so I can review it.
My first post will be ROAM, a mountain bike movie by the Collective which came out a few years ago. I'll have it up next week.
Get out there and ride this weekend. Unless of course, you live in Utah. In that case, just try not to breathe too much.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I've been asked--both in the comments section and in email and while on group rides--about upgrading lights. And here's why.
LEDs are being billed as the future of lighting. Not just in bicycle lights--where they are very much established, as you know--but everywhere. And for pretty much the same reasons: robust, efficient, small, long life, etc. So there is a very serious push to keep making them brighter from many fronts. Bicycle lighting is a small market compared to, say, the automotive market. Many cars now use LEDs in some manner--usually tail lights and instrument lights--though there are two cars available now that use them for head lights, one uses them as daytime running lights (Audi R8) and the other uses them for low beams only (Lexus LS Hybrid--the non-hybrid LS uses HIDs still).
As this development proceeds, we'll see brighter and brighter LEDs and the price should also come down due to economics of scale. We're already seeing a reduction in prices on the bicycle side of things, as I've mentioned previously.
So where does that leave us? Now is a great time to buy a light, but since they last so long, chances are that technology will improve the light before it has a chance to wear out, negating that need to upgrade--unless you have a very severe crash, that is, then you can pick out your new light while in traction because if you manage to break one of these, then you'll be pretty messed up yourself.
I'm lucky, I get to try out most of the latest lights. In fact, I am still using many lights--like the 200L--from the '08 review because they still work so well. But technology marched on and has seriously left behind anything older than that.
If you bought a system a few years ago, you might be drooling over the newest crop. Or, you want to buy a light now, but worry about spending all that money and in a two--or maybe only one--years you'll have a system that is functional but not as bright as the latest... or as efficient as the latest... or as lightweight as the latest. Ah, the conundrum of a product not wearing out.
Fortunately, there are a few manufacturers who feel your pain.
DiNotte Lighting is one of them. You send in your lights, and they quickly perform the upgrade to the latest technology (click on the link, then on "Spares and Extras" and then scroll down to upgrade) and send them back. So, say you have a 3W or 5W from 3 years ago, you can get it updated to the 200L. If they make the 200L brighter in the future, you'll be able to upgrade it as well.
Lupine has in the past allowed the end user to perform updates on the Wilma, but I'm not sure of plans to continue--I don't know why they wouldn't--this with the latest crop or the Tesla. I've got an email into them and will update this post if/when they get back to me.
--update-- The current Wilma and Betty are designed for future upgrade-ability. The Tesla is not, but this is a whole new platform, so we'll see.
BR Lights does do upgrades as well, bringing their lights up to 730 or 1000 lumens (claimed). Their service is also a return-to-manufacturer service.
So, what if you decide that you want an entirely new light. You light has three emitters and you're thinking that since you are getting faster on the downhills you'll want to see a little further ahead--which is a good idea--what do you do? This isn't an upgrade, since adding an additional LED takes a new housing. You can't go from a Wilma to a Betty with just an emitter swap.
DiNotte is the only manufacturer that I know of who has a trade up program. They'll credit you for your older light head and put the credit towards the purchase of a new light. Since, from day one, their Li-Ion connectors are the same, all of their new lights work with older batteries, and vice versa.
This means that you don't have to wait. Buy that light now, knowing that should the need arise, you'll be able to get into the latest technology down the road.
Man, I wish my computer was upgradeable at a reduced price. Buy a new one PC and it's out of date in 6 months.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Here I am, living the american dream. The dream to lose weight in January. I've been riding on the rollers more. I've been skipping [some] snacks. I'm seriously trying to drop the 10+ lbs I've gained since August. I really have.
So, when offered a "100 Calorie" snack pack full of delicious cookies, I figured I couldn't pass it up. Sure, I didn't need the 100 calories, but I was hungry, and 100 is less than a candy bar, or a can of soda.
How do they get the calories so low? By giving you only a few, really tiny cookies.
Oh, and it turns out that there is some sort of a correlation between how many calories consumed and how much it fills me up. At least I don't have to feel too guilty for eating too much. Although, I also don't have to feel full, either.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Yes, dear readers, the Fourth Annual GearReview LED light review is up and running.
Jon did a marathon session posting session last night to get it all formated and up and onto GearReview.com. So go check it out. Then come back and post your thoughts here.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I finally took the time to dust off my snow tires and mount the on my bike. Actually, snow tires is a bit of a stretch. They're really ice tires, as they're studded, but not very wide. I speak, of course, of the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 1.75.
While these are excellent for thin layers of snow and great for ice, they can be a bit shaky in the deep snow.
Here's the fun part, though, under the 8" of fresh, powdery snow, there were these odd areas where the old snow on the road had become ice. And this stuff was inconsistent in height--by as much as 4".
The end result was rather comical. I'd be riding along--practically in the middle of the road (these were mostly residential) and all of a sudden my bike would slip out from under me. (By the way, that 8" of powdery snow doesn't feel very soft when you fall on it.)
It feels so good to actually move when I pedal, though. And I'm not sure it's much more dangerous than the rollers, anyway.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
No, I'm not going to go into whether or not you should wear a helmet. I hope you do, but most likely you are an adult so it's your call. I do... mostly--if I'm working on my bike, I'll test ride sans helmet, or I might ride to T.'s house (o.5 miles) without one, but it's a rare occurrence.
Rather, how in the world do you decide what helmet to buy? How do you know if it's any good? How do you know when to buy a new one?
That last one is pretty easy. If your helmet is falling apart, get a new one. If the straps are frayed, get a new one. If you've crashed on it--and hit your head, naturally--get a new one. If it is over three years old, consider getting a new one. If the foam is damaged, get a new one.
Here's the tricky thing about the age of the helmet. Old doesn't always mean that it's past its prime, rather, that it might be. I have a motorcycle helmet that is 7 years old. I use it regularly now. But, it sat on a shelf (out of UV light which breaks down foams and plastics) for 5 years. I've never crashed it. It's in good shape. There is no reason why that helmet needs to be replaced. Had I been using the helmet for 7 years, it'd be well past due for replacement. So, if you think your helmet is getting a little long in the tooth, you might want to consider a new one. If you ride infrequently and take good care of your stuff, then it's likely fine.
Now on to the harder question: which one to buy. There are a ton of them. Helmets come in a variety of sizes, shapes, number of vents, materials, colors--come on, don't think that color isn't important--and prices. It's a veritable sea of foam and plastic and fabric.
Here in the U. S. of A., we the CPSC standard that all bicycle helmets have to meet, regardless of price or country of manufacture. So, while I won't say that the cheapest helmets are as safe as the more costly ones--though in some cases that might definitely be the case--they all have to meet certain minimum requirements. This is good news.
(climbing onto soapbox)
Mail order retailers are fantastic. They keep the price of our habit lower than it would otherwise be. They have a tremendous selection. You can place an order from your living room at 1am. You cannot, however, try stuff on.
You must try on a helmet.
(stepping off soap box)
When you decide--or that rut you didn't see makes the decision for you--that you need a new helmet go try on a bunch of them without looking at the brand or price. Find what fits. They all fit a little differently. Then look at the brand and price. Most likely, other helmets of the same brand will fit the same way.
Also, there is a Consumers Report type site--the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute--that looks at bicycle helmets. They just posted their guide for 2009. It is rather lengthy and very thorough.
They identify who makes the helmets, they look at helmets sold in Europe and they do a nice job of putting it all together, even if it's a bit dry.
Basically, find one that fits. Find one that has adequate ventilation--for you--and is light enough--again, for you. And, should you choose to wear it, wear it correctly--not too far back, not too far forward and keep the straps adjusted.
If decide not to wear it... well, keep it out of UV light so that should the time come that you'll need it, it's there.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Well, as seems to be par for the course, I'm a wee bit behind on getting the light review posted. The good news is it's done... mostly. Why mostly? Remember how I mentioned that many of the lights came with, or had available, head bands? Well, that bit didn't make it in, yet. After much humming and hawwing about how to make it fit, I decided I'd take the harder route and write up a separate review looking at the lights off the bike. So, the review that will go live any day now--don't worry, we'll let you know--is only on the bike use.
It also doesn't mention tail lights. That is coming soon to this little ol' blog. I had to wait for the weather to clear, but I promise it'll be worth it--hint: a video camera is being used.
I've got to tell you, though, after seeing what the multi-LED arrays are capable of and seeing what the single--more of less--LED on the Lupine Tesla can do, I can't wait for there to be a multi-LED array using that emitter. It'd have to have considerable heat sinking, though.
All in all, there wasn't a bad light in the bunch. I would--and have--run any of them on road or off. Sure the least costly ones (Stella 120, Minewt Mini-USB, Joystick and Switchback 1) are best paired with another light, they do surprisingly well on their own, and much better than many of the single emitters from just a couple of years ago. This is progress.
And I like progress.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Well, half of it was last year, but I managed to get on the rollers 5 times last week. I'm hoping to keep it up. Actually, I'm hoping I can actually get outside more, but in the meantime, I'm going to see if I do some sort of riding this often.
Has anyone noticed how much more saddles hurt when you're riding something stationary indoors?