You may have heard people talk about "mindfulness" lately. But what does this really mean? And what does it mean for cyclists in particular? Contributor Tera Liescheidt helps explain what it means to be mindful in one's approach to life and how this mindfulness can translate into more peaceful, inner focused cycling.
Question: Do you practice 'mindfulness' in life generally? How about specific mindfulness in your cycling? Comment below.
Ever seen a fat bike? It's latest hot thing in cycling. Beth Puliti, about.com's guide to mountain biking describes how fat bikes work, basically by taking a mountain bike and throwing a giant pair of moon buggy tires on it, creating a beast that is perfect for riding on sand or snow. She's also posted a review of the Surly Pugsley, which was one of the earliest fat bikes offered by a major bike maker.
This winter for sure with all its unusually heavy snowfall across the U.S. has been great for sales of fat bikes. According to the folks at Specialized, they can barely keep them in stock with their dealers. I sure hope the strong interest in fat bikes continue. It's a terrific way for people to extend the riding season and have fun outside on a bike even in the winter. For instance, Beth lives in the mountains in the eastern U.S., a perfect setting for using a fat bike: long winters with lots of snow, where a regular bike just isn't practical during the cold weather months.
I have to admit, when I first heard about fat bikes a couple years ago, my impression was that they were a bit of a gimmick, like somebody who owns a snow blower that gets used once a year. They are typically heavier, and certainly offer no advantage to a normal mountain bike on regular terrain. The long term interest in fat bikes will be strongest I'm sure in the north. Places like Utah, Wyoming, Minnesota, etc., with snow on the ground for months on end. That interest will expand in even more places if this year's unusually cold and snowy weather pattern turns out to be a significant long term shift in the U.S. climate.
- What are fat bikes?
- Review of the Surly Pugsley fat bike
- Keep your feet warm in cold weather riding
- Snow tires on your bike? Studded tires, chains and more to help keep traction.
- Cold Weather Riding Guide
- Secrets to Layering to Help Keep Warm on the Bike
Photo (c) Beth Puliti.
"I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood."
- Susan B. Anthony 1896
Do you remember the 1985 film, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure? In it, comedian Paul Reubens plays Pee-Wee Herman, an uber-nerd who goes on a quest to recover his beloved bicycle after it is stolen. While negotiating a series of misadventures, Pee-Wee tracks his bike to San Antonio and ultimately locates it in the basement of the Alamo, one of the legendary sites in Texas history.
The movie itself is funny in a very juvenile way, but don't let the foolishness (and especially the fact that there is no basement in the Alamo) make you think that there is anything silly about the terrific bike riding to be found in San Antonio.
Read the whole article: Biking in San Antonio.
Though it's among the most basic of maintenance tasks, for many cyclists what parts of their bike need to be oiled is still somewhat of a mystery.
This handy chart will show you where on your bike to apply lubricant, plus tell you how often the different parts should be oiled.
- Lubrication points on your bike
- Clean your bike chain - the quick and easy way
- Proper air pressure in your tires - how glamorous!
- Easy way to avoid flat tires
Not long ago we wrote about the Road ID family of identification products for athletes and really anyone who is active outdoors. However, you should also know about another cool tool that Road ID offers, and all the better because no purchase of any Road ID product is necessary to use this.
I'm talking about the Road ID app, which can be set up to send a notification (called an "eCrumb") via text or email to family members and friends whenever you head out for a run, ride, hike, or walk, etc. Not only will those people then both know you are out, but they can also track your location in current time on a map.
Think about my own example as a practical, real life use of the app. I frequently run and mountain bike by myself. If something were to happen to me, how would somebody know where to look over what can be many miles of forest?
However, using the Road ID app, if I were to not return at the expected time, that eCrumb text message sent to my wife by the Road ID when I started contains a link showing my exact location on a map in real time. Additionally, an optional "Stationary Alert" can be set up to notify those select contacts if you stop moving for more than 5 minutes, even more assurance that someone would be notified if something happened to you. Pretty sweet, and an easy way to give peace of mind to those you love.
A second feature of the Road ID app is a tool that can create a lock screen graphic with your name and the contact information of those to be notified in event of an emergency. However, this is of questionable value. The best and primary feature of the Road ID app is the eCrumb notification tool.
- Visit the website for the Road ID application
- Road ID - good idea for cyclists or unhelpful accessory?
- Bike safe in traffic
- Five layers of bike safety
- Essential items to take with you on every ride
If you intend to ride for any distance and be almost 100% self-supporting, there is a small number of near mandatory items that you should plan to carry, no matter what.
Sure there are times when improvised repairs are necessary. Plus other favorite items that many cyclists love to carry. But these are the essential items that I believe every biker should have with them to handle most routine problems that come up on the road.
Article: Seven Essential Items to Take on Every Ride
Readers Respond: Other Favorites that Riders Bring for Fun, Comfort and/or Safety
Related Story: Improvised Repairs on the Road
Some cyclists are fine riding in traffic and pretty much feel comfortable there no matter what. However, other riders prefer the peace and simplicity of a separated bike path, where there is nary a car to be found.
A good path for biking (or running or walking, for that matter) is a found treasure. There are certain features that can make for the perfect path, but these aren't always obvious. Do you know what they are?
To help you recognize what makes your favorite bike path so nice -- plus help you identify others that you'll enjoy -- we have identified five features that truly make for a top-notch experience.
Bike pedals are among the most basic parts of a bike. But there are a surprising variety of pedals and pedal options. What kind would be best for you? Check out the following explanation to see what may be the best kind for you to use.
Earlier we wrote about city planners in Amsterdam trying an experiment where traffic signals were timed for cyclists and not automobiles. The result? Average cyclist speed increased by 40%.
This relates directly to a seemingly obvious but still super interesting study called "Why Bicyclists Hate Stops" published by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley which examines the effect that maintaining momentum has on average cyclist speeds. In other words, why it is such a complete drag on your energy to have to come to a full stop at stop signs.
The study looked at two streets in Berkeley, California. One of them, California Street, is a scenic bike route with very light traffic. However, it is chock full of stops with 21 stop signs and a traffic light over its 2.25 miles, a stop every 530 feet. Because of the stops, many cyclists simply ignore the bike route and ride on parallel Sacramento Street, which has four lanes of heavy traffic and little room for bikes.
Why is this? Because Sacramento Street only has four stoplights over that same 2.25 miles, making it a whole lot faster for bike. A street with frequent stops like California Street diminishes the average speed of a 150-pound rider by about forty percent. If the bicyclist wants to maintain her average speed of 12.5 mph while still coming to a complete stop at each sign on a street like this, she has to increase her output power almost fivefold, well beyond the ability of all but the most fit cyclists.
It's an interesting article, and one that makes the point that rolling through a stop sign at say, 5 mph, makes clear sense for a cyclist interested in maintaining a decent average speed. Of course, the safety issue is another whole matter.
Question: When you ride in traffic, do you come to a complete stop at stop signs and stop lights? Why or why not? Comment below.