Impact Mouth Guards – Won’t Ride Without Them Anymore

Impact MouthguardI bought a couple of Impact Mouthguards a few months ago. The roads I ride are pretty chopped up and there’s always a few times during a ride that I hit a bump or some washboard that makes my teeth clonk. Mouthguards are always recommended for people participating in collision sports, but I hadn’t heard of them used for cycling.

Owing to a coincidence where I was on a project researching mouthguards, I stumbled upon Impact Mouthguards and decided to give them a try. I have a bridge and don’t want to replace it due to an avoidable sports injury. I was drawn by their impression kit which promised a truly custom fit.

The kit came and was easy to use. It came with two trays, a small and a large. I test fit them to see which one was best. Then I kneaded together the impression material, fit it to the tray, and bit down for a couple of minutes. Afterwards, you put the impression, still in its tray,  along with the unused tray, and send them in via the provided box and shipping label.

My mouth guards arrived a couple of weeks later – I took advantage of the 2nd mouthguard discount. They didn’t fit quite right. I emailed the company over a weekend. The owner – a cyclist himself, replied, instructing me to take a picture of my mouth, mail that in with the guards, and they would adjust. That’s what happened.

Now the guards fit right and they’ve won me over. I breathe easier on climbs, and hitting a bump or getting an unexpected jolt doesn’t risk an oral problem.

I won’t ride anymore without the guard.

Note: I’m just a happy customer. I have no relationship with Impact Mouthguards.

Master Lock Force 5 Standard U-Lock – Saves My Commuter Bike “Mountie”

When I went to retrieve my bike yesterday (August 8) at the train station I noticed that it was not how I left it. Sometimes people move bikes a bit. But as I took out the key to unlock it I realized a thief had tried to steal it. Fortunately the lock held, thwarting the thief’s efforts, and I still have Mountie. Due to the thief’s exertions, the front derailleur got messed up badly which prevented me from riding home. I’ll take it to my LBS for repairs and ride a little further to a station with better security and safety.

I’ve had the lock for about 4 years. This was the first time anyone tried to defeat it. I’m really happy that it worked when it needed to, and it increased my confidence in the Master Lock.

Serfas Dual Density Gel Saddle, Mens, DDM-200

Update:

This saddle was comfortable but it was a little too bouncy for my taste on Mountie. Continental Town & Country tires wrap Mountie’s wheels; these offer enough suspension so that the Serfas cushioning wasn’t needed. Being a road rider for decades I’m accustomed to road saddles so I swapped this out for a Selle Q-Bik sitting in my bike box that worked just fine.

Original Post:

I just put this saddle on Mountie, my commuting bike, and I’ll report back on it in a couple of weeks. I had been using an old Trek sprung saddle because I wanted the comfort and shock absorption for the roads I take since I don’t have a suspension post. I bought this one at REI after reading the specs and the reviews. The Trek worked well, but I found that the short nose and its width caused chafing on longer rides. I’m hoping this one’s construction and shape makes for more enjoyable riding at all distances.

Timbuk2 Bullitt Pannier Messenger Bag

Timbuk2 Bullitt Pannier Messenger Bag

With hot humid weather hitting, I looked to swap out my backpack for a convertible pannier that would fit on the rack and serve as a messenger bag off the bike. Hunting around online wasn’t that helpful to me. The selection was large but without seeing any bag up close, I didn’t have the confidence ot decide. I also wanted to avoid return shipping, returns or exchanges. Poking around bike shops and luggage stores, I saw some but wasn’t thrilled until I came across the Timbuk2 Bullitt Pannier Messenger Bag at a sport shop near my work in NYC. If fit the bill perfectly – an easy on/off system, stylish for the office, large enough capacity, waterproof and well made. It connects to the rack with two deep hooks, no additional restraints are provided or needed. The key is that the hooks have a reverse bend at their ends allowing one of them to grab one of the struts on the rack. I was nervous at first and did some test rides, empty, over smooth and pocked terrain. I figured that without any weight at all in the pannier it would have the greatest chance to unhook. It didn’t. I’ve ridden with it about two weeks now, and it performs perfectly. No worries anymore.

Some reviews I came across mentioned that the pannier would be improved with pockets on the outside. I feel Timbuk2 made a good choice by not doing that because it gives the bag a more professional appearance and also because a cleverly placed pocket is accessible through a zipper that is under the covering flap. All in all, I’m very pleased with this bag’s intelligence, and grateful that I no longer have to suffer from backpack sweat.

Commuting speed

15 minutes for a 2.5 mile commute

Thanks to an unused Sigma BC 800 cycle computer my son gave me, I’ve been able to track my commute distance, speed and time. Taking it easy over my 2.5 mile route, I’ve averaged a tad over 10 miles per hour, which takes just under 15 minutes, just five minutes more than driving. Incidentally, that’s about the speed Google’s bicycle routes use for their time estimates over the routes I take, so they’re reasonable for commuting purposes. When you factor in the exercise, ride enjoyment and lack of driving stress, those five minutes add to life’s quality in so many ways.

Norwalk bike map, a beginning

Norbiker David Marcus started mapping major roads in Norwalk. CLICK TO VIEW MAP. What’s really good about it is that he color codes the routes with detail, like “has shoulder,” “path,” “caution,” “dangerous,” and “recommended.” It’s an early and good start to developing a comprehensive cycling map. David grew up cycling in King County, Washington, a very cycling-friendly area, and knows how to rate roads. Some posts ago I mentioned the Madison, WI map. Here’s a link David provided to the King County map. . It’s another great one.

Routes to and from the South Norwalk Train Station – Norwalk Green

Bikely provides us with pretty simple ways to map rides. I mapped two routes this evening, both to and from the Norwalk Green to the South Norwalk Train Station.

Norwalk Green to South Norwalk Train Station: Good in the early morning. Part of it runs along East Avenue, a dangerous street. Like many people I ride on the sidewalk for safety reasons. The west side of the street has no cross streets, so the sidewalk is a long stretch. The route goes under 95 instead of over – another danger spot, and comes out on a secondary street. I don’t recommend this route for returning because the traffic is dense.

South Norwalk Train Station to Norwalk Green: I like this route for afternoon returns. You’ll notice that leaving the station it rolls along North Main street to Marshall (or Ann) rather than go down to Water Street and cross the entrance to the Stroffolino Bridge. Here the reason is to avoid the traffic coming from 3 directions that want to go over bridge. At quitting time there’s too much traffic and none of the drivers is thinking about a cyclist.

Bike friendly Madison, WI

Cycling in Madison WI

Cycling in Madison WI

Business took me on my first trip ever to Wisconsin and Madison. Over the years I’ve read about Madison’s cycling friendliness, it’s ranked 7th by Bicycling Magazine, and now had my first opportunity to see it up close.

The first clue came at the airport at the Madison tourism/information station where their bike map was prominently displayed. No ordinary bike map, this one comes with extensive, detailed and illustrated instructions for riding safely, commuting, registration and laws, pre-ride checklists, parental advice, and links to government resources, bicycle organizations and contacts. If not already, this map and information should be a standard everywhere.

For routes, the map shows bike lanes or paved shoulders, bike paths, and even where the bike path runs on sidewalks. Bike boxes provide an extra margin of safety, these set the traffic back a few feet from the intersection. And bike boulevards are specially marked low volume, low speed, local streets that “take the shared roadway bike facility to a new level.”

Madison appeared to be on the flat side. Although I didn’t get a chance to ride, I saw lots of bikes on porches and locked-up in racks around the city.

After seeing this, I’m going to contact the city to see if we can put together a few basic maps and add signage, as David Marcus suggested in a comment to an earlier blog post.