Thursday, October 31, 2013

Enjoying Fall + Happy Halloween

It has been almost 10 days since Fall officially began.

While we had tons of rain in Spring and some in Summer, we have not had any significant rains lately, here in Atlanta. I am keeping my fingers crossed, so that there will be beautiful Fall foliage in my neck of the woods.

Here are some signs of good colors to come.
They are still working on the lake near my home. Hopefully, the work will be completed, so I can ride on a paved path soon. Unpaved parts of the trail are too muddy when it rains.

Happy Halloween to y'all.

Paz :)


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Scratch-proof your Brompton and yourself


After getting a couple of scratches on my Brompton and a few on myself, while walking down the stairs at the train station, I have designed my own accessory for scratch-proofing myself and my Brompton.

Without further adieu, tada, here it is...

Here is repurposing an old sock for years to come...
Paz :)

The U.S. Cities Where the Fewest Commuters Get to Work By Car

Great report on commuter trends! Click on the image to read the report to see where your city (if you live in the United States) might be :)

Peace :)

The U.S. Cities Where the Fewest Commuters Get to Work By Car

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hammerhead Navigation - Great Navigation Tool for Bicyclists

Many of my readers may remember that I have a Garmin Edge 705 and that I also use an iPhone for Navigation. While these devices are good for navigation, they both lack in some regards, such as:
  1. The Garmin is useful, many a time, but in Atlanta (and, in other cities, where I have used it), it has often routed me through some extremely busy, unsafe, streets. I am not sure how Garmin is incorporating feedback from real data (from cyclist who commute, legally (not riding on the sidewalk, against traffic, etc).
  2. Google Maps is great, but I hate to have to mount my iPhone on the handlebar, for I am not sure I want to buy yet another contraption. I am not wanting to buy a all-weather case for my iPhone and I do not want to expose my iPhone to inclement weather. Another drawback with the iPhone is its pathetic (IMHO) battery life, when using Google Maps or any mapping software. Please note that I do have the biggest and the greatest iPhone, to date; namely, the iPhone 5s.
  3. Finally, I want simplified directions, when it is not necessary to have the whole shebang. Quite honestly, I seldom look at all the data that my Garmin provides anymore, particularly when I am riding. I want useful info and less noise!
That said, it is not often that I get excited about products specifically built for cycling navigation. But, I am very excited about Hammerhead Navigation and I am backing it.


I am pretty psyched about this product. It offers me many of the things I am looking for, in one very innovative, simple to use, yet effective package!


You can read all about this product here.

Below, for my readers convenience, I have provided material from Hammerhead.

Saying more with less

All the information you need in a clear and distilled manner. Hammerhead shows you everything you need to navigate while not distracting you with text, small graphics or the need for headphones. We developed cues and signals; much like those used by race car drivers or fighter pilots. It works well in all light and weather conditions. You can even customize the light array within our app to suit your preferences.

Discover

Pull out our app. Discover a great ride based on your preferences: hills, distance, scenery or difficulty. Hammerhead will guide you through the route seamlessly with safe, simple, and intuitive turn-by-turn instructions.

Share

Know an awesome ride? Or the best way to get through a city? Share this knowledge instantly with friends and the community. Our app makes it dead simple to send routes to others. Instead of just talking about it, share that ride that you know so well and get rewarded in the app for your contributions.

Strava, MapMyRide - in real time

We are big fans of Strava, MapMyRide and some of the other biking apps out there. We believe you should experience them in real time. Hammerhead gives you turn-by-turn navigation from the routes and segments that you want to ride from your favorite app. 

Compete live

We believe that competing in real time beats waiting to see how you did when you get home. Hammerhead will show you your start, end and goal speed for each moment in a segment, and how far off it you might be. Don’t compete blind. Make your efforts count.

Catch friends

Hammerhead guides you to meet up with riding buddies that are out on the roads. Join group rides without having to coordinate meeting times and locations.

Off road

Hammerhead is also at home on the trail. Its internal compass and unique red dot pursuit will guide you through the wilderness. Navigate anywhere from trails to the open desert. All with the same safe and simple turn-by-turn light instructions that you’ve grown to love on the roads.

Long battery life

Our app is ultra efficient, and your smartphone screen remains off. Your smartphone will run for over 5 hours while working with Hammerhead. As for the device itself,we built in the latest LiPo technology to ensure the Hammerhead will last for over 20 hours before recharging via micro USB.

Highest accuracy location

Because Hammerhead uses your smartphone’s GPS system, you get a more accurate GPS reading than you would with most standalone GPS units. Don't stand around waiting to acquire satellites -- go ride. Our app pre-loads route information. Venture into the unknown without needing cell service to navigate.

Bike share

The new bike share systems arising nationwide are awesome. We have designed Hammerhead to be able to snap right onto them and guide you around through the urban maze. Hammerhead will even show you how much time you have left on the bike as well as take you to the nearest available docking station with ease. Make urban bike share a complete solution.

We are close

The Hammerhead is more than a year deep in development and testing. It is a truly unique product - there is simply nothing like it. It solves a really big problem – safer, more efficient bicycle navigation – while being really affordable. We need your support to enable us to scale Hammerhead and get it to you. We have partnered with the best minds in manufacturing and software to get you this revolutionary product for the spring riding season.

Join us

We ask you to do two things:
  • Share this page with your friends who bike. They will thank you for putting them at the cutting edge.
  • Back it and become one of the first to have social bike navigation.
Together we will unlock the safe, awesome biking routes that are hiding in plain sight.
Thank you!
Piet, Laurence & Raveen

I am looking forward to receiving my Hammerhead device soon and putting it to full use; sharing the data with Hammerhead and helping the bicycling community.

I hope you will share my enthusiasm and back Hammerhead as well.

Peace :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gift of Peace - Imagine that!

I recently received a letter from a cycling friend from overseas. I was very excited to receive this letter.
Inside the envelope there was a nice postcard, appropriately cycling themed. But that wasn't all. Neatly wrapped in a red wrapper was a gift.
When I opened the red wrapper, the very thoughtful gift was exposed. The button says, 'Imagine Peace', in Korean; which was given to participants of the re-lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower by Yoko Ono.
I am so lucky am I to have all my good friends!

It has a been a great day for me and I hope it has been for you as well.

Peace :)

Helmet Mirror - Tucked Away

Some of you, my readers, may remember my post on my helmet mirror creation. It has been two plus years since I designed mine. I am happy to report that I still love my mirror and I find it useful to have it when riding my bike.

In Atlanta, my commute is multi-modal and I actually carry my helmet, strapped to my Brompton T-Bag. One thing that I noticed was that when squeezing through tight spaces on a bus or a train, the helmet mirror touches/rubs on others or gets caught on other objects, which is not a good idea; the mirror can break or I can offend people, inadvertently.

So, I figured why not tuck away the mirror inside of the helmet. And, so I did. It has worked so far. One possible risk is that the zip-tie breaks, some point, like it did on my trip to St. Louis, in 2011. Well, I suppose if it does, it does. I carry extra zip-ties with me anyways. I will fix it :)
At least I won't be rubbing people the wrong way, eh?

Paz :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Jacket time in GA

Morning temps over the last 2-3 days have been in the low 40s.
So, I decided to dig out the old El Jacketo for my morning commute. Colder days are on the way, here in GA. I think I have enough gear to manage. We shall see, won't we?

Peace :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No room for error

My neighborhood has bicycle lanes along a popular street called Riverside Road. Riverside runs on both on the East and on the West side of the highway GA-400. In this post, I am referring to Riverside east of GA-400. I ride this road on many days. Well, at least parts of it, since my wife found a shortcut for me. Riverside road has bicycle lanes on both sides of the street. Don't get me wrong - many parts of the bike lane on Riverside are very good. But there are some sketchy sections. This post is about just that.

The problem I find with the bike lanes on Riverside is to do with their width. It is not consistent. For example, see the picture below; where it is wide enough to comfortably accommodate myself and Brahma, while 'keeping' the automobiles at a 'safer distance' from us.

Now, look at the picture below. See how narrow the cycle lane is?

Here is another picture that shows how the bicycle lane actually narrows. No - it is not visual distortion!

Usually, when the traffic is heavy and it is unsafe to bother with this 'bicycle lane', I jump on the gravel trail adjacent to the road, when I don't feel like dealing with this stuff. One other option is to get out of the bicycle lane and ride on the road. You will have to take the lane and while this is a 35 MPH road, people drive 50+ here. I have seen many do that. To make matters worse, many of the 'Armstrong Wanna Be' cyclists that ride here, ride in the gutter. They don't seem to care as long as they reach that 18 MPH average speed, even if they are likely to get harmed by riding in the gutter. So, the motoring populous here assumes that you will drive your cycle in the cycle lane, even if riding in the cycle lane is unsafe. Not I! I don't do it.

THERE SIMPLY IS NO ROOM FOR ERROR HERE. NEITHER THE CYCLIST NOR THE MOTORIST CAN AFFORD TO MAKE A MISTAKE. Well, I suppose if the cyclist gets hit by the motorist, I am sure the cyclist will sustain lot more damages than the automobile and its occupants. But, the bottom line is: SUCH ERRONEOUSLY DESIGNED BIKE LANES NEED TO CORRECTED.

CITY OF ROSWELL - CAN YOU PLEASE HELP? Many a future accident can be avoided.

Although not mandatory, just to stay away from the traffic (which is a non-stop phenomenon around here), I ride in the bicycle lane, except when it does not make any sense to do so. In the next two pictures, I have one example of an unsafe lane condition - gravel in the bike lane and mind you this is a good long downhill, off Old Alabama Road, headed towards Riverside Road. Just before getting to this section of the road, I get out of the bike lane and simply take the right lane for a while and then merge onto the left lane, before eventually turning left at the light at Riverside. I am a well-trained, confident cyclist, who knows how to avoid these sorts of things. But, even I don't take stock in uncertain things, especially when they can be avoided.

Close-up of the gravel in the bicycle lane on South Bound Old Alabama Road. I am considering taking a broom and cleaning-up this mess myself, as I am definitely exposing myself to this rubble. Hopefully, the City of Roswell can do something to remedy this too.
Again, the bottom line is:
Properly designed and well maintained bicycle lanes can be quite effective and may encourage bicycle as a mode of transportation and not just as recreation. However, a badly designed bicycle lane can boost false confidence and lead to fatal accidents.

I am happy to volunteer to clean, re-stripe these lanes or help in anyway I can. All you gotta do is ask for help.

Equally important is education. I am happy to contribute my time in educating local cyclists as well.

Any takers? City of Roswell?

Peace :)


I wonder...

I wonder if my posts, on my blogs and on Roswell Government's Facebook Page, emphasizing the need for educating cyclists and motorists and providing safer routes to commute in Roswell,  have been taken seriously, yet :)
I am not sure the sharrow is going to bring about tons of change in the acceptance levels of cyclists as vehicular commuters among the auto folks, but I will take anything that can have a positive influence for now.

Peace :)

Hero on Brahma - Attempt # 1

While I like having my GoPro Hero 2 Helmet Camera mounted and ready to go, I sometimes wonder what all that extra weight does to my neck. I haven't consulted my doctor on this yet.

Anyways, I recently bought the handlebar/seatpost mount for my GoPro Camera, just so I can mount it on the handlebar once in a while, and try mounting it on my other bicycles.

As it turns out, mounting it on Brahma is not very intuitive to me. Simply because, I am afraid I will try and fold the bike accidentally with the camera still attached to the handlebar and CRACK - there goes my camera mount and/or my camera.

Also, I didn't find it very convenient to mount the camera on the left hand side of the handlebar. So, I had to mount it on the right hand side. which necessitated moving my Garmin Edge 705 GPS to the left hand side. Bit of a hassle, I say, especially given I have so gotten used to having my Garmin on the RHS.
I tried a few configurations and angles, before finally deciding that it is better to just have the camera on my helmet when I ride Brahma. So, the handlebar mount went on the Thorn Nomad MKII.
I know some of you have tried mounting these cameras elsewhere on a Brompton and other bikes. If you have any suggestions, I would love hear them. Thanks in advance.

Paz :)

Vellarikkaai Pacchidi

Recently, I had the pleasure of having my brother visit us, at our new digs in Georgia. It was a very important day for me, for I seldom get to spend quality time with my brother. So, I put together a quick meal of 4 different items:

  1. Urulaikizhangu Podimaas (Potato Podimaas)
  2. Tomato Rasam
  3. Green beans Paruppu Usili
  4. Vellarikkaai Tomato Pacchidi (Cucumber Pachhidi/~Raita) (~ = approximation)
These are all items I have posted about in the past, as you can figure from hyperlinks provided for each item in the list above. 

I added diced tomatoes to my usual Vellarikkaai Pacchidi recipe and also added tons of cashews sauteed in Ghee.

The result of all the hard work was a grand feast. My lovely wife helped me present this in a very nice way.
Just to tease your tastebuds (and mine :)), here is a close-up of the Pacchidi.
Hope all is well with you.

Bon appetit' :)

Photo taken using my iPhone 5S

I like the camera in the iPhone 5S. I recently took some photos, which turned out very good. Here is one such a photo; a shortcut to my home commute.
Paz :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

When you listen...

We went for a longish walk along the lake near our home last evening. I have ridden the path along the lake before, but never considered it as a viable shortcut route to my daily commute, until my lovely, brilliant wife pointed it out to me.

So, on my way back from work this evening, I took the shortcut route and boy was I glad I did that. I got to avoid a really hard set of hills. I am very happy that I listened.

Listening to good advise pays off!
By the way, this was how the lake looked last evening, around 6:45 PM. Pretty ain't she?

I hope y'all have a great rest of the week!

Paz :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Big Creek Greenway - Part I

As mentioned in my last post, I finally found a great place to ride in Roswell. It is at the Big Creek Greenway (BCG).

One of the trailheads to the Big Creek Greenway is located off Old Alabama Road. I made it a point to visit the BCG on Thursday and I had an opportunity to ride parts of the BCG.

The BCG runs from Roswell to Alpharetta to Forsyth County. I only explored parts of the trail in Roswell and Alpharetta during this ride. Below is a map of the BCG in Roswell & Alpharetta. For a complete map of the BCG, click here.
Thursday, when I went to the BCG, the first time, was a very beautiful Fall day, with the highs in the mid 70s, with clear blue skies.
I rode my Thorn Nomad MKII to BCG. As I wasn't sure of the amenities, I carried my lunch, some fruits and 40 extra ounces of water in my canteen.

I got to the trail without any major difficulty (except I had to walk parts of the route, due to traffic conditions). Once I got to the BCG though, I got acquainted to the trail map quickly and started riding. But a few minutes after I started riding, I heard a hissing noise coming from my front tire and by golly, I had a flat tire. Not just a little puncture in the tube, but a big gaping tear.
Normally, I carry at least two spare tubes for all my bikes in my kit. This means I have to carry two each of; 700x38 tubes (for Gikma, my Green Co-Motion Americano), 26x2.5 tubes (for my Thorn Nomad MKII), 16x1.5 tubes (for Brahma, my Brompton), 20x2.0 tubes (for Meera, my Raleigh Twenty). As my tool bag is the same for all my bikes, I don't mind carrying the extra tubes, irrespective of which bike I ride. But, for some reason, today was a day when I had only one spare 26" tube in my kit. I must have used the others some point in time. But, luckily I had at least one spare tube, for fixing this particular flat would have been a nightmare, if not impossible.

So, a little practice in field repair can't hurt, right?
Well, actually I had a little bit of trouble with inflating the tire with my Road Morph pump. I was out of touch and using that little pump was a pain in the neck. But, it worked and I was able to get about 35 or so PSI in my front tire.

I am not sure what caused the flat. I have had trouble with the tire pressure in the MKII before, especially if I put 65 PSI in it. You can read about this here and here. Before I left the house, I thought I inflated both tires to 60 PSI. I wonder if my eyes played tricks on me and I overinflated the tires. And, so, I wonder if the possible overinflation is what caused the tube to tear. The tubes were Schwalbes as were the tires; Marathon Extremes -  26x2.25; recommended tire pressure is 30-70 PSI.

I did not have any more spare tubes, so I went ahead and reduced the pressure in the rear tire to something below 50 PSI as well. And, soon, I was ready to hit the trail, albeit a bit concerned about getting another torn tube. So, I did not explore too much of the trail on this particular day. I think I only rode about 3-5 miles of the trail.
The BCG is well marked and it has sections which are reserved for pedestrians. However, there aren't any sections reserved only for cyclists.

The BCG is home to many different species of birds, reptiles and animals. My wife and I went for a walk, the day after this ride and we spotted what appeared to be a Black Rat Snake, near a pond (see next picture for the pond). During this particular ride, I saw one deer and a couple hawks at BCG.
There are some very beautiful bodies of water at the BCG. The Chattahoochee River runs through the BCG. While I had limited equipment to capture  the beauty of the pond pictured below, you may rest assured that this is a very picturesque pond. If I had my DSLR, I could have taken a better picture. There are several families of Mallards and Wood Ducks that live in this pond.
Soon, it was lunch time. Homemade Cuban Black Beans, Rice and Quinoa, Blister Peanuts and Oranges were it. 
After lunch, I did a bit more riding, exploring one branch of the trail that ended closer to Mansel Road. If I had turned left at the bridge, immediately after the arch in the picture below, I would have gone closer to the AMC Theater off Mansel. Instead, I chose to go straight and went to a branch of the trail which ended, kinda abruptly. There were at least facilities at this point. That was the good outcome! This is where I decided to turn around and head home. The arch, in the picture below, marks the Roswell-Alpharetta border.

Close-up of the bridge that would have taken me to the Mansell AMC. Perhaps, I could take Brahma there, someday and go see a movie. Wouldn't that be fun?

BCG is a very nice trail. It is well shaded and there are plenty of restrooms and water fountains. I particularly liked these features, especially given the lack of shade that I was used to in North Texas. Given the shade and the presence of water fountains, I think I might even be able to ride the BCG, even on a muggy, Atlanta summer day. We shall see about that next year.

On the way back, I stopped to say Hi to Shawn Brunner at Fresh Bike Service, which specializes in Mountain Bicycles. Also, while repairing the flat, I had accidentally lost one of the springs in the front skewer. Shawn was kind enough to let me have one for free. Thanks a lot Shawn. I am a strong believer in, 'No Act of Kindness is Ever Wasted'. I appreciate your kindness and wish you a lot of success in your business.

If you are in the Roswell area and you need your bike tuned-up, please stop by Fresh Bike Service, off Old Alabama Road in Roswell, GA. Below is Shawn's contact information.

By the way, Shawn et al., had some interesting shoppers :)

Next couple of pictures, are of some signage I found at the BCG and a Trailside Bike Repair Station. The signage is particularly interesting in that it emphasizes all types of self-propelled transportation on the BCG. I remember riding past the Bike Repair Station and getting a chuckle out of it, thinking what would I need this for, just before I had a flat :)
 Here is a picture of the Trail-side Bike Repair station.
Here is a close-up of the missing bicycle pump. The bracket that held the pump is still there, but the pump itself has gone MIA. I wonder what happened to it :)
In the next post, I will share with you more information and pictures of the BCG. I can guarantee you that what you have seen and read about, in this post, is just a little portion of this really nice trail.

Peace :)

PS. While the riding the BCG is quite the experience, getting to the BCG, off Old Alabama Road, by bicycle is not a very easy task, given the crazy Atlanta traffic. That's a topic for a future post; which will  likely be appropriately named, something like, 'No Green Way To Get To The Greenway In Roswell, GA'.