Monthly Archives: December 2011

Rainy Day Floods & Splash Cam Test

Flooded Bicycle PathYesterday after reading a blog post from Eugene Bicyclist about the Fern Ridge Bike Path flooding at the underpasses below the streets. (Read Here) I decided to I wanted to check this out for myself, being my first year in Eugene. Before the ride, I constructed something I’ve been meaning to try out. I mounted my Fuji Waterproof XP10 camera on the the end of some “bull-horn” handle bars I got from a friend. I used a camera mount from a cheap small tripod and attached them to the end of the bar. It seemed to work out alright for the first day.  This should give us a new perspective to add to the videos Angel and I make.
Camera Mount Camera Mount Camera Mount

Here are 2 short video of the first test with the camera mount.

Splash Through The Rain from Austin McKimmey on Vimeo.

Fern Ridge Bike Path Flood from Austin McKimmey on Vimeo.

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Review: Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier

Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier - closed squarI got my Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Panniers shortly after getting my Surly Long Haul Trucker in May of 2010. I tried one other set of cheap panniers for a short time, but decided I needed something a lot better. Ortlieb is one of the best cycling/waterproof bag companies around. The Back-Roller Classics MSRP is $165 for a pair. The panniers are made of a PVC-coated polyester fabric, with 2 inner pockets: 1 large, and a smaller mesh zippered pocket. On the outside there are large reflectors. These panniers roll closed and latch, and come with a shoulder strap that can be secured by a hook on the front. The bag is completely waterproof. The Back-Roller Classics use Ortlieb’s QL1 attachment system. These are super simple panniers to take on and off the rack.

Here is a cool video showing how to attach the bags, with some funky music.

Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier - closed Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier - open Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier - side Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier - side 2 Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier - back Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier - inside
I’ve had the panniers for almost 2 years, and they have held up really well. They fit almost everything inside, and have a capacity of 2,441cu.in. (40L). I have been able to carry tons of groceries. If a little added space is needed I just keep the top open and it stays pretty stable. I also tend to use the shoulder straps to strap down the odd items onto the rack, which is an added bonus. In my main pannier I keep my small essentials in the mesh zippered pocket: spare patches, lights, pens, and my spork. All my other repair essentials are in a small saddle bag.  In the larger open pocket I keep my map, bandana and wrench. At the bottom of the main bag, I keep my rain cape and jacket, then anything else goes on top of them. Everything else goes in other one when I need to carry more, or balance the weight. Being waterproof is a must for the Pacific Northwest weather.

The QL1 System is perfect. It keeps the bags secure on the rack without rattling around. There is no fear of them falling off, but they are still super easy to take off when you pull up on the release handle. The shoulder strap is easy to use, but if you want something more comfortable, try out the Ortlieb Carrying System (read more about that lower on the page). I would recommend these panniers to everyone. I hope to get the Ortlieb Front-Roller Panniers to match once I get a front rack for my LHT.

Ortlieb Back-Roller Ortlieb has come out with new graphics on their Back-Roller Classic Design sets,  MSRP $170 per pair. The Wave, Dot, and Splash designs come in 3 different colors each, more than doubling the Classic color choices from 6 to 15, 19 if you include the 4 special Civia/Ortlieb Designs (only sold in singles). With all the colors and designs you should be able to find the right set for you. Angel plans to get herself one of these new designs. I think they look great. *Update: Angel chose the Splash in the Aubergine (purple) with pink splash graphic. Read about and see photos HERE.

I also use the Ortlieb Carrying System which allows you to attach a removable backpack mount to any single Ortlieb Pannier. The panniers work well on the bike, but could be a little easier to carry off the bike. That is where the Carrying System comes into play, turning your pannier into an excellent backpack. I recommend this system for anyone who wants a pannier on the bike and a backpack off the bike.
Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier and Carring System Ortlieb Pannier Carring System Ortlieb Back-Roller Pannier and Carring System Ortlieb Pannier Carring System

If you are looking for a lighter PVC-free pannier, Ortlieb has a Back-Roller Plus version of the same pannier design made of strong Cordura fabric and their QL2 System. The Plus come in 4 different colors and cost $200.

Ortlieb (and Ortlieb’s sister companies: Tubus, and Racktime) have lots of other useful products and accessories.

Lichen Terrarium

Lichen Terrarium We got the greatest gift from my sister for Christmas. She got us a wonderful little terrarium from Tiny Terrains on Etsy. Angel and I had both suggested to a couple different friends to give terrariums as gifts for Christmas this year. But we were mainly referring to succulents terrariums or bowls. We have several neat succulents of our own.  Succulents are still a great idea, they are easy to take care of for most anyone, and just look cool. But the one we got from my sister was a small lichen terrarium. This was awesome, Angel and I both think lichens are interesting. They look cool and are easy to take care of.

Lichen Terrarium, Meditating Pig, Lava RockIf you don’t know what lichens (wiki) are, they are not moss, even though most people might think they are just because they grow on trees and rocks similar to moss. But lichen are a symbiotic pair of a fungus (structure) and algae (photosynthesis). Angel and I both have personal experience with lichens from Environmental Science classes where we did tests using lichens as bio-indicators of air quality. It’s really cool once you know what they can tell you about the environment around you. They are literally everywhere here in the Pacific Northwest. Also, they look really wild close up.

Our terrarium came with a pyramid shaped glass, small polished rocks and assorted lichens. Everything is individually packed and you get to place it all yourself; which is really quite fun and peaceful. Then just keep it in bright, indirect light, and give it the occasional light misting of water. Pretty simple for most all people to take care of. I think these are great gifts for friends, family, or yourself, if you like little green plants.

If you are interested in getting yourself or a friend a lichen terrarium, check out Tiny Terrains on Etsy.

Lichen Terrarium Lichen Terrarium
Lichen Terrarium Lichen Terrarium
Lichen Terrarium Lichen Terrarium

Winter Break with Family, Photos

Here are some photos from my Instagram over the past week with Angel’s sister and dad visiting. We spent lots of time in Portland with her sister walking around, hiking MacLeay City Park and Ecola State Park along the beach, as well as some other things through out the week.

Tree decorated in MacLeay Park Angel in MacLeay Park Wildwood Kids Ground Kontrol Rocky Butte Portland Oregon - White Stage Sign Burnside Bridge Up Lantern Tour Best Fort Vancouver Tour Guide Tomato Mozzarella Sandwich and Mac and Cheese In line, and it's not even for presents, they are returns of items under warranty. LEGO with a Target gift cards, I'm more exited about the LEGO. CROWD, wooden puzzle Christmas Cookies Sun Atlas cargo bike - my next bike, so fun to ride Brian Warner Sea Foam Log Whale Snag Tsunami Angel Beefriended Someone Angel and I Dragon Noodles Sizzle Pie Christmas Morning Sunrise - Off I-5 Home for Christmas

Review: Park Tool PCS-10 Repair Stand

Park Tool PCS-10 - clamp mountLast year for my birthday my wonderful girlfriend got me a Park Tool Home Mechanic Repair Stand PCS-10. Every cyclist’s home should have a bike repair stand, even if all you use the stand for is to wipe down the bike and lube the chain. Before I had my stand, I would have to flip the bike over, or try and balance the bike up with chairs or anything I could find.

Park Tool PCS-10 - whole stand Park Tool PCS-10 - folded

The PCS-10 is excellent quality just like all Park Tools. The stand allows me to work on bikes completely. At 22lbs, the stand when folded (according to my measurements) folds up to about 48in if you leave the clamp mount on, and is smaller if you take it apart completely. It can be stored anywhere.  At 60in tall fully assembled at the clamp height, it lets you work on your bike at the proper height to do anything. The 2 legs fold down and click into place, and are then clamped with a quick release, keeping the stand stable in any position. The stand can be extended from the height of 42in to the max height of 60in.

Park Tool PCS-10 - clamp Park Tool PCS-10 -

The clamp is a “Cam-type clamp [that] allows single action clamping of tubes 7/8” to 3” (24mm to 76mm).” This allows you to quickly mount the bike in the clamp. Then use the micro-adjusting knob to the ensure the bike is secure. This is great, the clamp is easy to use, there is little fear of over-clamping and crushing the bike tubes. It is always better in my mind to clamp the seat post; it ensures that you will not crush the tubing on your bike whether it is steel, aluminum, or carbon. At 3in, the clamp is styled to also safely allows for those crazy aero-style seat masts on carbon bikes. The clamp head can be rotated for any position and can be removed for storage or travel. Park Tool also offers a couple different accessories that mount on the stands.

I really enjoy this stand and without it I would not be able to work on bikes at home so easily. If you’re looking for a bike repair stand for your home or on the road, this is a great stand at a good price.

Here is a video demonstration staring Calvin Jones putting the PCS-10 together.

Review: New Bike Maps App for iPhone

Bike Maps A new app has been released recently to help with navigation on your bike if you own an iPhone. Bike Maps – Bicycle Directions for Commuting and Touring by Burning Robot is the new app offering turn by turn directions for bikes.

This is a review for Bike Maps Version 1.o.1 (12-13-11), I will try and do updated reviews if and when the newer versions are available.

Features
• Turn by turn directions
• Search by keyword or address
• Get bike directions from your current location
• Prioritizes bike paths and lanes
• Avoids busy streets

I downloaded this app for $1.99 to try it out myself. The app uses the power of Google Map’s Bike Route feature. Over all this app is very clean, and works fast over 3G cell service, but might be lacking some features some people might like. Some of what it is lacking is due to some flaws with Google’s Bike Routing, some are things the app developers might have not decided to add in.

The app is quick to access. Runs well pulling up maps over the 3G. When you open it up it takes you straight into the map, with a Search/Address bar at the top. Pretty bare bones which can bee good. You simply type in what you want in the search bar. Say “bike shop” it will give you the shops in your location, just like Google would. You click the pin on the map then it brings up information about that location, and you can just click the “Bike Directions” button on the page. From your current location only, you will be given a single suggested bike route to that location (the best bike route, according to Google, including distance, and time it will take). The route is highlighted on the map and the written directions are shown one at a time at the top of the screen, allowing you to see the map and directions at the same time. You then can click through arrows at the top right to use the turn by turn directions, which give you the distance and where to turn each step of the way.

Bike Maps App - First Screen Bike Maps App - Zoomed In Bike Maps App - Bike Shop Bike Maps App - Bike Shop Selecte Bike Maps App - Info Bike Maps App -  Bike Shop Distance and Time Bike Maps App -  LBS 2 of 10 Bike Maps App - LBS 4 of 10 Bike Maps App - LBS End

Here are some things the app is lacking in comparison to the full desktop version of Google’s Bike Route feature. It doesn’t show highlighted bike routes, instead it just shows the standard map view. It would be nice if it showed the highlighted map view, then you could use it to plan your own routes. The app also doesn’t suggest multiple routes to choose from, it uses the very first route that would come up if you used the full desktop version. This can be bothersome because in many situations the first choice Google suggests is not the best one. Also there is no way to edit routes yourself. And the app only allows you to get directions from your current location. For the most part this will be fine, but it would be nice to be able to plan out routes from other locations.

I like this app even with what it might lack right now, it’s a good, straight-forward bicycle routing app and it lets you use Google’s Bike Routing feature on your iPhone. So if that is what you want, this will work for you. Also, there are no ads, which is always good.

Available on the App Store

To Burning Robot LLC or the developer:
I have not found a way to contact you. I would like to find out more about what they are working on. So if you are out there please contact me.

“Bikes Use Bike Signal Only”

Eugene has added a temporary sign, the one that flashes words, saying “Bikes Use Bike Signal Only”. This is great for cyclists and motorists who have yet to realize there is a newly placed bike only traffic signal last Thursday located at 18th/Alder. I am not sure when the light was actually placed or when they will remove it. But I think this is a good idea to help bring awareness to the new signal. To read more about the newly placed bike only traffic signal, read my article here; Eugene’s First Bike Only Traffic Signal

I made a short video of the sign.