Although today is a springlike day, I thought I would reflect on the EVO Drone gloves I’ve been wearing. The exact product name escapes me (and google is no use), so I’ll have to fill that in later. They’re made of thin Nylon fabric, which is pretty good about not sucking up rain. They have the “hunter” thumbs and index fingers, which are good for checking your phone without taking the gloves off. What makes them truly useful is the attached outer mitten – I’ve found this allows you to stay warm and extra 10-15 degrees of outside temperature by defeating the wind and holding in heat. It’s an air impermeable synthetic that is sewn into the wrist of the glove and folds into the top when you’re not using them. (If you’re neat, they don’t look bulbous, either!) Although the seam on these covers has a bad habit of ripping under normal use, this hasn’t compromised the performance of the glove. You can see in the attached picture how I can get a few fingers through that cover after a few months of riding. They’re not too expensive (around $30?), and Hub Bicycle Company in Cambridge carries them. Of course, now that it’s just about spring, you’ll have no occasion to use them…

EVO Gloves

The gloves do a great job of keeping your hands warm, despite the covering sprouting some holes.

I suppose now that I’m overtly recommending products, I should announce that I’m moving from my current, non-bike related job to start working at Hub Bicycle Company. I’ve been going there as a customer since a few months after the shop opened two years ago, and as I became disenchanted work in the soul-stealing financial industry, I also discovered that I’m cuckoo for bikes. I can safely say – as a customer – that it’s an awesome bike shop, but don’t believe me, believe Yelp. I’m going to be working there full time starting later this month, which means I’ll be reporting more second hand on bike commuting (on customer attire, as the shop is walking distance), but there will still be plenty of errand running and general transportation riding.


Temperature: 57 degrees

Road condition: Dry

Clothing: Light spring jacket, timberland shoes, light Pearl Izumi gloves, messenger bag

Comfort: I was definitely too warm. Every time the weather changes I relearn the lesson: slow down, wear less. Today would have been OK without a jacket.

It was windy today, and should be more so later, according to the forecast. There were tons of bikers out, and I expect many, many more next week.

Cold and Dry

February 29th, 2012

Snow is forecasted for today. I welcome it: the sooner we can get to spring. 🙂


Weather: 33

Road conditions: Dry

Clothing: Heavy winter coat, EVO gloves, Timberland shoes.

Comfort: I rode fast again today, and got a little warm: I was chasing someone on a mountain bike whose drive train exceeded the 50% rust marker. He made up for it by standing and pedaling hard basically the whole length of my commute. The little wind covers on the EVO gloves were clutch.

Yesterday was the inaugural meeting of Boston-area bike bloggers (or in internet parlance, BABBA). Some of those in attendance were (the people behind) Bike Safe Boston, Commonwheels Coop, Hub Bicycle, Bikeyface, Boston Cyclists Union, Steve Miller and, obviously, theHumble Cyclist, as well as a variety of non-blogging bike enthusiasts. A good time was had by all, and those who stuck until the end of the night had a little convoy north of the river, where many of the “Boston” bike bloggers seem to reside. Following on our discussion of promoting road safety with blogs, no traffic laws were broken on the ride home; I also observed an unusually high number of people able to do track stands. I don’t know when the next meeting will be, but I encourage all to attend as either blog readers or writers!

Following yesterday’s promise to “portage” one bike with another, I managed to follow through without too much fuss!

Bike on bike portaging: good luck parsing the mess of tubing

I did put some scratches on the “top” bike from its rubbing against the wheel axle (lesson: don’t put the removed wheel against the frame), as well as somehow getting grease on my pants (lesson: if you handle the dirty bits on a bike, you will get dirty). I consider these minor costs to advancing the world’s bike mobility!


Temperature: 37

Road condition: Dry

Clothing: Heavy winter coat, timberland shoes, EVO gloves

Comfort: Worked well; the wind-breaking covers on the EVO gloves warmed up my hands after I started the ride without them.

Everybody got scared off by the weather forecast today (it is currently snowing!), although the snow didn’t start falling until after 9 am, and should be done by the evening.

Today was probably the closest I’ve come in a long time, maybe ever, to getting hit in traffic. I chose to go through a red light on Cambridge Street near Government Center, and a few factors made this a very bad decision. Luckily, none of them conspired to cause me injury. First, I ran the light in Boston: there is no delayed green, so almost as soon as I was in the intersection, another direction had the signal. Second, I did it as a truck was turning: the traffic on the far side of the intersection had no way of seeing me (not that one thinks when the green light comes on). It just so happened that there were pedestrians in the crosswalk, which kept the traffic from proceeding against me.

Really in the “bikers running red lights” discussion, there are two kinds of red light running. The first is doing it like a car: entering the intersection immediately after the light changes. The second is treating it as a stop sign. The former is nearly universally derided, whereas the latter is hotly debated. (As regular readers may know, I am generally against it.) I won’t say more except that drivers tend to view all red light running as the former, whereas bikers make the distinction (as a pedestrian would with regard to jay-walking).


Temperature: 31 degrees

Road condition: Dry

Clothing: Heavy winter jacket, Timberland shoes, light EVO gloves.

Comfort: Perfect! The air was colder than I expected, but well suited to my outfit. I rode the commuter bike (Crosscheck), today with both racks attached. My lesson is: if you ride a challenging bike (e.g. fixed gear), every bike feels easy after that (e.g. geared but 40 lbs bike).

I got the Blaze 1-Watt Dynamo Light this week, and got to installing it last night. Wowza! Dynamo lighting is everything I imagined, and more! (Well, it’s pretty cool, anyway.) I had it on while riding in this morning, and definitely noticed the extra drag; once I switched the light off, I could feel a little boost going up the Longfellow Bridge.

I’m still waiting for more inspiration on my homemade light; now that I have a baseline light for comparison, it should be a little easier to push myself to finish it up. I think for iteration 1, I will just attach a 350 mA buckpuck (cheating, I know), and save stand lights and voltage doublers for another time. I may also rely on some tool help to get the mounting for the light all set up.

Weather and Clothing

The beautiful conditions this morning call for a “fair weather” tag on this post. It was definitely on the lower end temperature-wise, but I could have gone down to a spring jacket and been quite happy (with gloves). With a high of 54, the day today is undeniably good for biking.

Temperature: 41

Road Condition: Mostly dry, still wet on the Longfellow Bridge for some reason.

Clothing: Heavy winter coat, EVO gloves, Timberland shoes

Comfort: I didn’t zip the coat, and I was still pushing the upper limits of comfort. Tomorrow will call for some lighter clothing (and rain).

I’m back on my commuter bike, with only a back rack (the horror!), although I rarely load anything onto it aside from panniers. Last night I switched back to my 3-season tires and ditched the studs, which will have to wait a while to see some ice.

This is a really dumb pet peeve of mine, but one nonetheless: fixed gear bikes are not the same as single speed bikes. The experience of riding them is also very different.

Single speed bikes have exactly one gear combination; they ride the same as a gear bike but without shifting (imagine your bike got stuck in the 6th or 7th speed of 10: you’d be riding single speed). The benefit of this over a gear bike is lighter weight, better power transfer (because of a straighter chainline), and simplified maintenance. These are well suited to city riding, as you don’t do a lot of shifting anyway. (Or if you do, you could probably do fine without it.)

A fixed gear bike is a single speed in which the back wheel does not turn independently of the pedals. Therefore, you could ride it backwards; the pedals are always moving and transferring power between the wheel and and your legs. The maintenance on this type of bike is a wee bit less than a single speed (no freewheel means one fewer moving part), however it is cultish because it’s a totally different riding experience than a bike with a freewheel; you can immediately feel the responsiveness of the road surface and of the bike.

As an aside, Sturmey Archer makes an internal hub which rides fixed, but has 3 gears. It ruins the purity of the fixed gear bike, but sounds pretty fun to try out.


Easy ride, felt a little cold at the beginning, but I warmed up nicely.

Temperature: 33

Road condition: Dry, but some salt and sand from this weekend still around

Clothing: heavy winter jacket, Timberland shoes, Portland Design Works EVO bike gloves (I lost one of my wool gloves!), messenger bag

Comfort: Worked perfectly! I like the PDW EVO gloves I am using: they have a little vinyl mittens shield that folds down for wind protection. That part is a little light, though, and is getting kind of shredded from the ferocity of my grip.

(For those wondering, I took the day off work yesterday, so there was biking, but no commute.)

Edit: I looked down at my palms later and realized the gloves were EVO, not PDW. Thanks hubcyclist!

BUI; Cool and Dry

March 16th, 2012

Yesterday, I went for farewell drinks with my coworkers. Some were very concerned about my transportation home after a few drinks. In the end, I had fewer than one drink per hour (beer is so heavy!), and I had an uneventful ride home. However, it made me think about biking under the influence.

Now and again, I see references to how dangerous this is as an activity, but anecdotally, it’s not really taken as seriously as DUI. In fact, the parallels between the two are numerous, mostly because biking for transportation is so similar to driving for transportation. What one loses in the dangers of high speed in a car, one also loses in the protection of an enclosed vehicle. The exception is that a drunk biker is a much smaller threat than a drunk driver.

The police unsurprisingly don’t take BUI seriously. I have a friend who tells of riding his bike while visibly intoxicated: an officer pulled up behind him and announced “Sir, walk your bike or I will take it away.” While humorous, can you imagine a policeman treating drunk driving so cavalierly? (Perhaps you can, I don’t know of any DUI perpetrators personally.)

What are your thoughts on BUI? How do you prepare for an evening with drinks? I know I’d always be the designated biker if I could transport people home from the bar in a bakfiets.

Bakfiets passengers

I'd always want to be the designated biker if I had a bakfiets to carry people home in.


Temperature: 38

Road condition: Dry

Clothing: Same as the rest of the week: light spring jacket, EVO Drone Gloves, loafers

Comfort: Decidedly underdressed. Some spirited riding kept me from shivering, however it seems willpower alone may not make mid-March into the spring season. I’ll have to wait until next week for that. It is very interesting, though, how ensuring you’re warm before going outside can make such a difference in comfort. My ride last night felt much warmer, even though the conditions were similar and my outfit was the same.

Cool and Dry

March 15th, 2012

Sorry for the lack of substance here. I’m actually pretty swamped here at work as my last day is Friday. I will, however, be starting my job at Hub starting Wednesday, so you can find me there most weekdays after that (and Sundays once the shop opens 7-days-a-week).

I’d like to write a “tale of two commutes” comparing my bike ride in (Inman Square to Government Center by way of the Longfellow Bridge and Cambridge Street) to my fiancee’s by car (same starting point, also the Longfellow Bridge, but then Charles Street, Boylston and ultimately to Chinatown). We often leave the house a few minutes apart and leapfrog one another until we part ways at Charles Circle.


Temperature: 40 degrees

Road condition: Dry

Clothing: Light spring jacket, EVO Drone gloves, loafers

Comfort: Again, on the cold side starting out, but comfortable within a few minutes. Yesterday evening, I was downright cold until much later in the ride.

On Saturday, I finished up my home-made pannier project. It’s a simple roll-top design, made of 430D Nylon pack cloth (a fabric on the lighter side, it turns out), and is absolutely gigantic. For example, I carried three bags of groceries in it. It compromised my steering less than you would think…

Large pannier filled with groceries
My home-made pannier: it is meant to roll at the top, but it was so full that instead I just clipped it shut and then used a cable to keep it from tipping over.

I made the pannier for my Cetma rack, as there didn’t seem to be good commercial options for it. It attaches by four velcro straps around the fork and rack strut, as well as straps that reach down from the rails on the rack. The idea is that I could still strap items to the rack deck itself while having loaded panniers.

Empty pannier with grocery bags

The pannier, unloaded and clipped shut: I put four or five rolls in the top to close it to its rough "design" size.

When I first completed it, I thought it was too big. However, I like being able to move the kitchen sink. I’m going to make a matcher, and then probably remove my rear rack and start looking for a two legged kick stand that fits on the Crosscheck. After the second go-around, I’ll try to put out some how-to for any other home-made gear enthusiasts.


Temperature: 41

Road condition: Dry

Clothing: Heavy winter coat, timberland shoes. I took off my gloves (light EVO ones) pretty quickly.

Comfort: I was riding pretty fast the whole way, so I ended up getting a bit too warm. Otherwise, lovely!

Cold and dry; Non-bikers

February 3rd, 2012

This morning was the first “cold” morning at about 25 degrees. My face regretted the lack of protection, but otherwise I was nice and warm. It was one of those really borderline days, where a few degrees colder, or a little windier, I would have had to cover more skin. Still on the fixed gear bike.

Clothing: Heavy winter jacket, wool gloves, messenger bag, waterproof shoes.

As a transportation cyclist in a world (at work) nearly devoid of such people, there are often conversations about how awful or dangerous biking must be. I think the attention one draws may be enough to discourage some people; I know walking into the office covered by soaking wet rain gear gets no small amount of unwanted looks and remarks. (I happen to love biking in the rain, for the record.) On windy, stormy, cold, wet, slick, or even hot days there are constant questions “why would you bike?” A few months back my dad called me in a panic to tell me how dangerous cycling is, as a colleague’s son had received brain damage from a crash.

I haven’t found a good way to deflect these unwanted questions, but bland responses of “I take all the precautions” and “It’s a lovely day out” usually diminish the responses; attempting to explain the  philosophy of vehicular cycling may be sometimes useful, but it is always painful. What does anyone else do to deal with the unwanted remarks garnered by your relatively banal choice of transportation?