Friday, April 23, 2010

Hard Headed?

Friday I was driving on Cambridge St., right near Inman Sq., and I suddenly watch a guy come off his bike... sort of do a face plant and bounce off the street. Apparently, he had run in to the rear end of a van that was pulling into a parking space. (I am not sure of the actual cause or who might be at fault in this accident, not the point of this post.) So the cyclist, who may have dislocated his shoulder, now wears a load of cuts and a fair case of road rash. But, he was wearing a helmet! The fact he whacked his head hard on the street, became a moot point. Another save for helmets!

I have mentioned before that I spent many years as a firefighter/EMT. I responded to all types of emergencies that included many trauma victims resultant from so many different mechanisms of injury. Which gives me an experience base to draw on; I can say that those people that suffered head injuries had the worst outcomes. I mean not just short term (as in died) but the long term outcomes. They survived horrendous injuries to legs, arms, faces, etc. which all in due time healed. However those with head/brain injury, not so much. In fact, how can I put this gently, their lives were forever changed. Having received a few concussions over the years, I cannot imagine what it would be like to live in that fog and have that headache 24/7/365 for the rest of one’s life.

There is plenty of info out there that explains what happens to your head/brain when it is slapped (like a home run crack at Fenway) into the pavement, car, fill in the blank at let’s say 10-12 mph and from about 5 or so feet up. It is clearly not good.

Will a helmet protect you from evil spirits, accidents and all other possibilities? Of course not, so drop that line of reasoning. It is there to protect your head/brain in the event of an impact. It is like wearing seat belts in a vehicle. Most people are killed in what are otherwise survivable auto crashes because they were not wearing a seat belt, period. Check out the stats, in nearly all fatal cycle accidents the riders were not wearing helmets. Hmmmmm, kinda makes ya think!

So let me put this in terms that may indeed be crass, a bit obnoxious, over the top, etc, etc. and that might even offend some...But then again, this IS Bike Me.

What do you call a cyclist who does not wear a helmet? A possible organ donor… enough said?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It's is back. Boston's 2nd Annual (we hope) Tweed Ride. Last year's ride was great fun. Wonderful people and wicked nice rides!

It is the most fun you can have in wool, without getting a rash!

So save the date and meet some of the Boston/Cambridge area's nicest 3 speed (and of course others) rides and riders!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bikes in Paradise

In February a vacation trip took me to Maui, Hawaii. While there I, of course, checked out what the bicycle scene looked like.

Anytime we traveled form one town to another I noticed a good number of cyclists working hard along the rather hilly shore roads on road bikes. (I’m thinking most bikes here have triple chain rings.) FYI, for the most part there seemed to be plenty of room to ride along the shoulders, although there were a few exceptions along the south shore. Roads like the one to Hana and others like it, not so much. Very windy twisting coastal roads with little or no shoulders, hair pin turns. All this plus constant trade winds to deal with would make for a pretty “exciting” ride.

What is referred to “Up country” on the slopes of Haleakala are small communities like Haiku, Kula, Keokea, Makawao, Pukalani, Paia, Kuau Bay, Kanaio and Ulupalakua, all a world away from the bustling beach resorts. Here I saw mostly mountain bikes. With the hills so steep and/or long the low gearing and aggressive braking is an absolute necessity. Incredible views, cooler weather (a constant 60ish degrees) and wonderful people, many living their dream at every turn.

This is also near the area of the Haleakala Volcano ride companies. They offer van rides to near the top of the Volcano with 10 -20 of your new best friends. Then a guided downhill ride for up to 20+ miles of switch back mountain roads with great vistas. If you would like a zip line ride then you would probable like this sort of cycle ride. There are off road trails from the summit that with two cars, one for drop off and one for pick up, would seem to be a really cool if and challenging ride, remembering this summit has an elevation of over 10,000 feet. It is a oxygen deprived, dry and cold. Because this is a place that can seriously hurt you (being just at 2 miles high) good planning is required for that type of ride.

In the towns that dot the coast cruiser bikes were most prevalent, as the terrain around most is relatively flat. Here is where I did find some vintage hardware with a mix of personal stylings. It is in places like these the real spirit of bicycles is found. You know, function solving a necessity of life that makes a real difference to the individual.

Finally, Bicycle Rentals in Maui seem to be a fairly large tourist business, albeit somewhat focused on the Haleakala Volcano rides, most do offer several style bicycles including higher end roads for up to about $200 per week.

So if you ever do say Bike Me, head to “Paradise” and decide to rent a bicycle it is about the same per week cost as a cheap car rental. And defiantly worth the ride!

Stay Current, Ride Vintage!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Wool!

So last week we had to move around in that last installment of New England Snow, which was like 6-8 inches of Elmer’s Glue. Then we have tropical downpours. Now it is snot freezing cold out with winds that hurt almost as much as the Patriots last loss of this season did. Oh the joys of New England winters! Like the rest of you, this all gets me to thinking about keeping warm and dry… and I thought about long ago when I was a kid. Ya know, I remember being just toasty warm albeit a bit soggy from time to time.

Fast forward a few decades…. Like many of you I have spent a good amount of time outdoors in winter conditions, skiing, snowshoeing, etc. not to mention the occasional bicycle outing. And I have worn all types of winter garments and there are some great high tech materials out there that are both warm and light weight. The problem with such stuff is it can be prohibitively expensive. And since we cater to a generally frugal customer, it got me thinking about how the heck we keep warm back in the day? You know, those days before one has an income that can afford the new/high tech stuff.

In a word, it is WOOL. Yep good old reliable, renewable, recyclable, and I suppose if you look hard enough locally grown wool! Is it the best of the best of the best? Perhaps not, but pound for pound it is the one of the most cost effective materials out there. It is somewhat breathable, water resistant, even once wet just wring it out and it is still warm. Hence my “…just toasty warm albeit, a bit soggy form time to time.” comment. When I was a kid, going out to play meant staying outside until it was time to eat, period. Which meant you got plenty wet rolling around in the snow for hours. Wool used with undergarments, such as Under Armour ®, means your go for very cold weather

Wool pants similar to those above can usually be purchase in Army Navy surplus stores and at very reasonable prices. The billows pockets are great for extra and easy access storage. Food for thought, possibly buy a couple of sizes too large and wear as a over pants(?) A larger pair of wool pants with your regular cloths underneath might work for you. It did when I was kid. Of course there at oh so many wool coats to be had, I happen to own a Navy Pea coat. A wicked warm coat cut high enough to ride with.

Wool glove/ mitten flip glove cross things would work well, but for the coldest of days. With a reasonably warm & thin glove insert would make those great. For those really cold days, there are firefighter wool mittens that I can personally vouch for having worn those many times in very extream conditions. And when the weather is way below zero add a pair of Nomex flight gloves (again Army Navy surplus) as inserts and your hands will never get cold.

So, is wool incredible? You betcha … and who doesn’t like a renewable resource? Plus, you don’t make all those crinkly noises either, ever hear sheep sneaking around, nope… wool is silent. And if you’re an old English 3 speed rider, it might just complete your Vintage World.

Wool, not just another way to say Bike Me….

Stay Current, Ride Vintage!