Focusing on E-bikes From Now On

After a long hiatus from posting on this blog, formerly at http://useyourbike.wordpress.com, I’m restarting with a focus on e-bikes. My theme remains the same: enjoy the many pleasures of cycling. I ride for health, fitness, peace of mind, advocacy, and fun, and it’s from this perspective that I write. My admiration runs deep for racers, their training, competitive drive, and performances, but I’ve never raced or desired to do so. Except for the occasional comment, I’ll leave the racing, intense training, or things related to the specialist publications.

I got into e-bikes about 7 years ago when a client, an Asian manufacturer of e-bike motors sold to European and Asian manufacturers , thought about entering the US market. They assigned me to analyze the market, establish the size of the opportunity, and to recommend companies and people who would run the business end: importing, reselling, distributing, marketing, and technical support.

Doing that was tons of fun. I went to NAHBS and Interbike, where I met many companies and, most importantly, the bike-building legends whose personalities, craftsmanship, innovative ideas, and vision shape the industry and our joy and expand our ideas of what bikes are capable of. Craig Calfee, Steve Bilenky, David Levy are just three of this group.

Eventually, the company decided against North American expansion, not because the market wasn’t taking shape, but for internal reasons. I was hooked and wanted to get more deeply involved with e-bikes. Little did I know then that future events would shift my cycling from road biking to e-biking for good.

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.

Trikes

Desoto Trike

When my mother, 83, told me she was in the market for a trike, I was happy. While she walks unassisted, her hip hurts, but she wants to get in a little more daily exercise. She heard that a basic trike was available from mass merchandisers like Walmart, but I felt that there must be a better selection available. After some research I found Industrial Bicycles which carries a variety of industrial trikes for use in warehouses and specialized applications, tandem trikes, trikes for carrying kids, recumbents, and a special line for seniors. We haven’t finalized the decision yet, but I hope to within the next couple of weeks. I was really struck by their affordability – a few hundred dollars, and they encourage customers to call so that they can assess their needs and recommend the right model. Trikes are delivered fully assembled, taking out the need for a handyman or bike shop to be involved. They come with baskets, which makes them convenient for light shopping and running errands, a variety of seats, and wheel sizes. Definitely worth checking out, if only for curiousity.

Norwalk bikeway and pedestrian plan underway

Exciting development – Norwalk kicked off planning for making the city more bike and walker friendly. Initial meetings have been held – here’s a copy of the presentation. At the top is a link to a survey you can take. At the end is a request for email so you can stay up to date. The key thing is for the planning process to have as much community involvement as possible, the more voices and perspectives taken into account, the better it will reflect all of Norwalk’s interests.

Norwalk Green to Calf Pasture Beach route

Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk CT

One of Norwalk’s gems, Calf Pasture Beach is a breeze to get to by car. But by bike the car route is unsafe. I looked for a way that would avoid crossing over 95 and the roundabouts by the cemetary and park just past Nik’s. You can find it here: Norwalk Green to Calf Pasture.

Click on Print Cue Sheet to print the cue sheet

Click on Print Cue Sheet to print the cue sheet

A really nice feature of this and the other maps is the ability to print the cue sheet. You can see the location of the link to click from the image on the left. The cue sheet gives you directions that include Cumulative Distance, Distance for each segment, Directions, Notes, Direction and Elevation. A snippet of this ride’s cue sheet follows:

Cue sheet for the ride, gives a lot of valuable info

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.

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.

Bike to Work Day Mayoral Proclamation

A letter to the city with a request for a mayoral proclamation was warmly received; it looks like it’ll happen. In email back and forth I learned of an upcoming Arts festival where biking is being considered as a way to get from one venue to another. Promising – connection between cycling and arts to bring about changes.

Update: May 14: Mayor Moccia issued a proclamation and presented it at the bike rack of Norwalk’s main railroad station, South Norwalk.

Carbon Trace – A Great Blog on Utility Cycling

Analyzing my logs I noticed that Andrew Cline’s Carbon Trace blog directed traffic our way. Very impressive collection of posts, links, etc. about “getting around under my own power in Springfield, Mo.” He’s been at it for a number of years, writing about etiquette, getting to school and such. His “1-mile solution” is brilliant:

The idea is simple: Find your home on a map. Draw a circle with a 1-mile radius around your home. Try to replace one car trip per week within that circle by riding a bicycle or walking. At an easy riding pace you can travel one mile on a bicycle in about seven minutes. Walking takes about 20 minutes at an easy pace.

I’m going to try it.