Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cycling Jacket + LEDs + Accelerometer = Coolness and Safety

Major congrats to Michael Chen for winning the James Dyson Award for his Reactiv cycling jacket.

The jacket incorporates an accelerometer and LEDs to inform others of increasing or decreasing speed and, lift an arm, to indicate a turn with amber LEDs in the forearms.

When you pedal harder to speed up, the LEDs on the back light up green to indicate acceleration. Braking will change the green to red to indicate braking.

What an awesome and brilliant idea.

The other entries on the James Dyson site are also worth a look too.

Found via Bicycling Design where one of the commenters mentions microfiber nanogenerators to make power just during the natural course of movement. And that would totally kickass.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My First Mountain Bike Race

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Since I had the day off yesterday I decided to head out to the Prairie City OHV area for the Wednesday night mountain bike races (http://www.racemtb.com/) last night. This was my first ever mountain bike race. I entered in the Beginner 30-39 class. Taking my buddy Mark's advice, I just put it in the big ring and let it rip right from the starting line. I had a nice lead ripping down the fast descent into the first corner. Nobody was near me until the first climb. Thats when my 31 lb. Giant Reign with 6" of travel started to slow me down just a bit. This bike is set up as an all mountain trail bike for epic back country adventures and bombing descents in Auburn, not exactly an XC race bike. Never the less, I had stiffened up the suspension and went up the climbs with only two other riders coming into range of me. For a big honking rig, this bike actually climbs pretty well.

So, I'm pretty sure I finished in the top 5, except for one stupid mistake. Being a Prairie City rookie racer, I was so pumped coming to the finish line that I overlooked the scoring chute marked with orange cones you're supposed to funnel into and ride down so they can write down your number and score you properly. I just kept on riding as if I was doing a 3rd lap. The race announcer Rick thought I was DNFing as we chatted for a minute or two. Then he informed me that I had missed the "actual" finish line and needed to go back round and come through. DOH!!!! So, while I may have been the first one to get "near" the finish line, I was not the first one to cross it. Thus, I'm sure I will be scored near last... Oh well, live & learn. I still had a blast out there and will be back for as many as I can squeeze into my schedule.

Mountain bike racing is alot different than road racing that's for sure. Virtually no time to rest & recover, and certainly no drafting. Just redlined the whole way. I did manage to get one sip out of a water bottle near the end of the 1st lap. It was a quick race and I think each lap was roughly 3 miles. I nearly threw up near my car after the race was over..... good times.

Monday, April 21, 2008

And Bottom Brackets Everywhere Wept

Nothing like a little lubricating sand in your bottom bracket to keep your pedals moving smoothly. Or not. But it was certainly a beautiful day to be on the beach. And I'm positive he made great time coming back down the beach without that gnarly, gnarly headwind!

Jay, do you remember when we took our bikes down on the temporary beach under the lighthouse? Fun times but not so healthy for the BB's!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pedal power delivers clean water to the developing world

Pedal power delivers clean water to the developing world with a mobile filtration system powered by, you guessed it, the pedaling action of the bike.

To say this is brilliant is an extreme understatement when you read the opening statement that 5,000 children PER DAY die because of water-related diseases. That's more than all the US soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of the war. And those kids are dying every single day.

The coolest thing about this system is that it filters 20 gallons of water AND transports it home at the same time. That's efficient and practical. The filtration system incorporates a clutch so you can pedal in place to filter additional water as needed.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Two Local Motorcycling Deaths in a Week

A bad week locally for bikers. Two deaths, both totally avoidable and, from the information available, the rider's faults.

Motorcyclist killed on Old San Jose Road identified
and
Alameda motorcyclist killed in a head-on collision with a pickup truck identified

The takeaway from these two accidents and deaths is that, if you ride, ride within your limits. Highway 9 is no joke, there are descending hairpin turns that I've witnessed crashed on. There are blind corners and off-camber corners and debris and, you know, oncoming traffic.

Its easy to get carried away and really start ripping it up out there above Boulder Creek on 9 and 35 (Skyline) but the downside is pretty shockingly awful for everyone, including the biker and the driver who kills him/her.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Two Wheels Good, One Wheel Better?

It is with great excitement that I am announcing today's find and purchase of a Torker 20" unicycle. I've had a search on Craigslist in the south bay and checked it this morning when I got my school.

There was just one listed and, more surprising than anything else, he was even in Aptos too! I emailed him immediately, got a quick response and set up a time to meet him at lunch.

Some mild cell phone interference later and we connected up, I ran and got some cash, handed it over and am the proud owner of a uni in great condition! Its kind of a starter uni but that's alright. If I end up really enjoying it and wanting to get a bigger and better one then that can certainly happen.

But I'm looking forward to re-learning how to ride as its been at least 20 years since I've played around on a unicycle. And yeah, I'll probably wear some protective gear when I start getting out and rolling for real (remember those elbow guards, Jay? still got them and they'll be perfect!).