Friday, December 6, 2013

Bike Forums, 5k's and learning to ride a bike

I have not posted in a while, but plan to be more active going forward.  I have not been riding much this fall, but have been working on getting my Mercian Vincitore set up with a period correct touring setup.  That will be in post in the near future.  Been spending a lot of time on Bike Forums.  Worth checking out if you like the forum scene.

It is really cold in Seattle this week and should be really cold tomorrow.  My 9 year old daughter is running in a 5k with the Girls On The Run program.  They have been running twice a week the last few months and have been building up to this run.  Should be fun.  I will have to post some pics.  She has actually been scared to ride a two wheeler, so since I bought her a bike without training wheels this summer, she has not been riding.  We did a program with REI last weekend and in less than two hours, they had her riding like a pro.  Thanks REI!!  And since it was nasty weather, it ended up being a one on one session.  However, it miraculously did not rain.

Until next time.....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Been a while, need to post more!

I have been a little remiss!  I was going to make it a point to post more, but somehow never get to writing.  I have continued to ride, but have not done many long or interesting rides that deserve a post.  I am working on a couple of bike projects however and though I would post about those.

First, I have decided to convert my old Bridgestone Mountain bike into a touring bike.  When I say touring, I really mean a bike I can take long relaxing rides on.  I don't really have plans for any extended tours and if I do, it will be from hotel to hotel, I am not roughing it in a tent.  Been there, done that, have the merit badges to prove it!!  

I think the Bridgestone will make a good touring bike since it has the relaxed geometry of a mountain bike and does not have any shocks.  I plan to put multi purpose tires on it so it can handle both road and off road, at least fire roads and gravel, no plans for the single track I used to do.  I will also add either a road style drop bars or trekking bars to provide more positions that the current flat bar and to get in a more aerodynamic position.  

This is a trekking style handlebar.
Here is the Novara Safari from REI with trekking bar.
If I get a drop bar, I will need to get new brake levers and some sort of shifter, probably bar end shifters.  Id I go with the safari bar, I should be OK with the current ones, though the shifters may need to be replace anyway.  I also need a new rear wheel as the current one has worn through!  I would probably also put a new cassette on the back with a larger low gear, like 34 or 36 versus the current on at 30 cogs.  The Shimano DX components are durable and classic.

My Mercian Vincitore is another story.  It is already has touring bike geometry, but when I purchased it in about 1994 or 95, It had a mix of components and I upgraded it to all Campagnolo components, however the components are really meant for racing.  I want to use it for touring and would like to build it out to be period correct.  That means most of the components will need to change.  I will probably keep the components for a potential racing bike build.  Found some old Mercian catalogs to get an idea of what components they put on the bikes of my vintage, which is a 1980 model Vincitore.  The plan would be to use this also for longer rides, but mostly on the pavement.  Though I will select tires that are capable of gravel or dirt roads.  Just purchased some Dia Compe 610 centerpull brakes on eBay.
Dia Compe 610 Brakes, classic!!
My Mercian in its current form.
I will keep updating as the builds go along.  When I get the Bridgestone done, I will likely sell the heavy globe comfort bike.  While it has been nice to ride to get back into cycling, not really the nicest bike to ride longer term.
Suggestions and opinions always welcome!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The skies open up...

It's been a while!  I did my big ride (big to me) and just disappear.  Well, I have been riding, but no big rides,  and my spring quarter MBA program was a little more work than I expected, so I took a little hiatus from the blog.  Now that the quarter is done from school and I have the summer off, I plan to ride more and get into longer rides.

My goal is to do a 50 miler in September before I start the fall quarter at Seattle University.  So I plan to continue to ride and build towards the 50 miler.  I plan to ride from Marymoor Park in Redmond, along the Sammamish River Trail to the Burk Gilman Trail and end up at Gasworks Park in Seattle.  That is a little over 25 miles, so they I will ride back.  It is pretty flat and a good ride.  I used to do that ride when I was in college for fun.

So, like I said, I have been riding, but mostly shorter rides around my neighborhood.  There are a couple parks near me and I can take a relatively short ride and still get a workout from the hills and pushing my big body up them!  When I left work today, it was sunny and a lot warmer than I expected.  I got home around 5pm and decided I would do one of my short rides.  The plan was a route that is a little less than two miles, but has a couple nice hills.  I rode to one of the parks and started a long hill, when....   thunder cracked out and the wind hit the woods I was riding in with a wave of sound, wind and rain hitting the trees.  I was not at all prepared for rain, so I found a trail that would get me home a little quicker and, I believe, a little less wet.  I am a fair weathered rider after all.  Don't know where that rain came from all of a sudden, oh well.

I will try to post more, I was a little disappointing weighing myself, I gained a few pounds back (actually 4.5 lbs) of the 17 I had lost.  I will have to pick it up.  I was easy not to ride when I was busy with school, however that is precisely why I should have been riding.  It is a good stress reliever!

Until next time, ride on!!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tour de Cure Ride

Saturday was the big day for my ride for Diabetes, the Tour de Cure.  It was an absolutely glorious day for a ride too.  Sunny, but not too hot, at least at the start of the ride.  The start of the ride was at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA.  Tour had five ride options from 15 to 100 miles in length.  I chose the shortest route, since that would still be the longest I have ridden in at least 15 years.  While the stated route was 15 miles,  it was closer to 17 miles from where the start line was within the park.  The shortest route had the latest start, so I arrived about 20 minutes before the 11am start.

Sign in

I got signed in and turned in my cash donations.  I got my number, 520 and a T-Shirt, next year's will be smaller. ;)

I made my way up to the start line.  Even though we were the last group, they did not spare the pomp and circumstance.  They gave the thank you speech for all out donations, and thanked all the volunteers.  There was a band and they even had a young lady sing the National Anthem.

We are riding to fight diabetes.  Some of those who rode actually have diabetes and were designated "Red Riders".  They got a nice red jersey and got to go to the head of the pack.

Red Riders
The ride started out slowly as there was a pack of riders, but it quickly thinned out and by the time I reached the Sammamish River Trail, I was pretty much riding by myself.  There were a few that I could see the majority of the ride, I was passed by a few and event passed a few myself.  For the most part I kept a pace of about 9-12 mph.  I have to admit I did not stop during the ride to take pictures, so I added some from my previous ride where I rode the majority of the ride route.  So these have been posted on my blog in a prior post.  The weather was just as nice, so they could easily have been taken on the same day...

Just after the eight mile mark, I made it to Wilmot Park, the turn around point.  Had some water and they provided a few snacks that hit the spot.

The first half of the ride felt pretty good.  I thought I had a small headwind, but it must have been a tailwind because there was definitely a nice headwind on the way back.  Of course I also stopped too long, so my legs tightened up.  It was hard to get my momentum going, but I pushed on.  I actually loosened up pretty good and was making decent time, though was going a little bit slower most of the way back.  When I got back to the park, I still had a little over a mile to the finish line and my (new!) rear derailleur fell apart.  The bolt for one of the pulleys came apart and while I think I have all the parts, I could not get it back together in the field, so I walked the last mile to the finish line.  But I did it!

They had a goody bag at the finish line and they put out a pretty good spread of food for the riders.  It was nice.  After getting hydrated and fed, I listened to the music they had playing and watched the festivities.  They honored the riders who raised $1,000 or more, and they honored a five year old who completed the 25 mile route under his own power!!  

It was nice out, but did not seem terribly hot when I left home, so, of course, I did not put on any sun screen.  I was bright red on my forearms and neck, but I will recover to ride another day!!  It was a good day and I was happy I made it.  I know the distance does not seem like a lot, but I am still building back up.  I hope to ride a 50 miler by the end of the summer, my next goal...

I capped the day by taking my wife to see The Great Gatsby for Mother's Day.  A good flick.  And if you have an iPic theater nearby, I highly recommend it!  21 and over only, they serve alcohol that you can take to your seat, and plush leather chairs.  

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Been a while...

I have not written in a while.  I am back at the MBA program after taking the winter quarter off and its been a little hectic for me.  I have been riding some, but mostly shorter rides in the neighbor hood and and around town.  So I really have not had any rides that I felt were too interesting to write about.  Next weekend I will ride the Tour de Cure for Diabetes, so I will definitely do a write up after that.  I will be doing the shortest route, which is 15 miles, but I hope to build up to 50 miles by this fall.  My plan is to ride every day don't have class, even if it is for just a little ride from my house.  Something to keep my legs moving, burn some fat hopefully, and give me some time to reflect on my day.  I'll throw in some longer rides on the weekend.

So far, I have enjoyed the experience and have learned a few things.  One, I really don't like the comfort bike I purchased.  It's main advantage is its upright position and the fact that it is getting me riding, but I have realized a few things.  I like to get up out of the saddle to climb hills.  The way the comfort bike is design, you really cannot do that.  Grinding up a hill while seated is a pleasant experience.  I have ridden my son's mountain bike and like that better.  I may rid it more or get my old Bridgestone up and running.  The second thing I found I don't like is are shocks.  Really, I don't think you need shocks for road riding ever, but I just don't like them.  Now, I realize it may be partly due to my weight.  If I was at my goal weight, which is about 75 pounds lighter than I am now, then maybe I would enjoy shocks better.  Or maybe better quality shocks??  I don't like the ones on my comfort bike or my son's mountain bike.  Again, I will have to get my Bridgestone up and running, since it has no shocks and always worked well for me.  Unfortunately the rear rim is beyond worn out, so  I need to replace it.  I can do a lot of my own work on bikes, but building wheels is not one of them.

After I lose another 25 pounds, I may try my trusty old Mercian touring bike.  I just don't want it to break underneath me.  I also need to add a stem that raises up higher.  It has the opposite issue from my comfort bike, as it is set up like a racing bike.  The handle bars are several inches below the seat.  I think one to two inches above the seat will get me into a better riding position.  The other issue is it has skinny tires, and since I have narrow Campagnolo rims, it is not just a matter of getting larger diameter tires.  I do have another set of 27 inch wheels without a bike.  I may take it apart and have a local shop build up my vintage Campy hubs with some nice rims that can take a 35-38mm tire.  That will add a little bit of extra comfort.  Maybe a triple crank as well...

Well I am just babbling now.  Until next time, keep pedaling!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sammamish River Trail Ride

When I was younger and cycling all the time, I frequented the Sammamish River Trail ride.  If I remember correctly, it was about 9 miles to from start to finish leaving from Marymoor Park in Redmond to the trail end in Woodinville, WA.  It was a nice ride, 18 miles out and back following the Sammamish River through the valley, passing the Chateau St. Michelle Winery.  If you wanted to ride further, you could head west/north west and find the Burke-Gilman Trail that takes you from Bothell, WA, around the north end of Lake Washington to the University of Washingon and beyond.  I would either ride from Marymoor out and back whatever distance I chose, or on occasion, I would ride from my house in Bellevue to Marymoor, catch the trail and ride around the north end of the lake, crossing Lake Washington on the Interstate 90 floating bridge and back home.  Nowadays, I believe the Sammamish River Trail and Burke-Gilman trail are connected  so you can stay on the trail all the way to the end of the Burke-Gilman near Gasworks Park in Seattle.  The Sammamish River Trail has been fixed so that you no longer have to cross any streets like you did when I used to ride it in my youth.

Yesterday was a glorious day, so I thought I would take a break from taxes and go for a ride.  I will be doing my ride for The Tour de Cure (raising money for diabetes) in a little less than a month on the Sammamish River Trail, so I though it would be good to see the ride.  I did not go the whole distance, but did get in a nice ride.  I rode the Globe 3, which performed well, though I need to adjust the rear derailleur a little bit I thinks.

Bridge Crossing

The trail now connects to other trails along the route.  They have even added some new trail bridges.

Bridge to another riding/walking trail.

I took a leisurely pace.  This was in part because I am out of shape, also because I just wanted to do a nice leisurely ride to take my mind off of things and enjoy myself.  I found myself passing the 60 Acres soccer fields and stopped to take a look.  I saw some people flying model airplanes at the field as it is no soccer season.  I owned an R/C model airplane business for about four years and I used to fly on occasion at this field.

60 Acres

I turned around a little short of the 5 mile mark, so I did not go for a long ride.

I stopped for a drink and turned back here.

On my way back, I was being followed by another rider who who was staying at my pace.  It was fine, but everyone passing me kept saying, "look at that dog".  I scooted on a little bit ahead and stopped to get a peak and a picture.  This gentleman has converted a plastic bike trailer into a sidecar and instead of a child, his dog was riding along.  He passed before I could get my camera ready, so the only shot I got was from behind.

Dog in a side car!!

The train trestle in the above picture is also being converted into a trail.  I remember riding under a moving train in the past.

Now there is a Subway in the park, so you can get a sandwich after your ride!  We were planning a spaghetti dinner, so I did not partake.  I did not want to ruin my appetite!  It was a fun ride.  I also used the Strava Cycling app to track my ride.  Came out pretty close to my computer info, so I will have to continue to use it.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Craigs List Find

My son is off to school at Montana Tech.  One of the reasons he wanted to go to that school is because of the proximity to the great outdoors.  Skiing, biking, rifle shooting, etc.  Yes, they even let them bring rifles to school, provided they are locked up at a secure facility in the dorm and not kept in their rooms.  Ok, getting a little off track.  Anyway, he brought his Trek mountain bike to school with him.  Despite locking it securely, someone managed to cut the lock and steal his bike.  He is still off at school, but my wife got a great deal on a Novara (REI) Brand mountain bike off of Craig's list.  Only $150 for a bike that was only ridden a few times (and it looks it) and is worth considerably more.  It is by no means a high end bike, but it has decent components.  He can ride it over the summer and if he wants to take it to school with him, it only cost $150 if it gets stolen.  The guy even threw in a bike helmet since he didn't need it.  Got the bike for his wife, who got pregnant and stopped riding after only a few ride, and now has to move for a job, so we got lucky.  I may have to try it out for a while. ;)

Park Repair Stand

Today we went to REI, one of my favorite places for outdoor gear, and I got a slightly belated birthday gift, a Park PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand.  I had an old Park repair stand I sold a while back since I was not using it much at all and it could not fit the odd size tubes on my son's bikes at the time.  On top of that, it was not so easy to store.

Here is a picture of the old Park stand
 I took for the Craigslist add.
The new one is really cool.  Not only can it handle bigger tubes, the way it works is better, and best of all, it folds up for easy storage.

And I tried it out on a bike.  It works great!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gardens, suspension bridge and frogs

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Globe bike is out of commission, so the bike ride we planned on the Redmond Trail was off.  We decided to go for a long walk to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.  Round trip was somewhere between two and three miles.  This was my daughter, wife and myself.

Trail Head
It was such a nice day for a pleasant walk.  We have a nice wooded park that includes two baseball fields, a playground, soccer fields, miles of trails, and of course the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.

The frog statue near the visitor center.  A little girl kissed it as we walked up!

Is that a hobbit hole??

Last year the gardens added a suspension bridge over a little ravine.  It is pretty cool to see and walk across.    

It was a great day for a pleasant walk through the park.  If you have not been to these gardens, they are very beautiful when everything is in bloom.  They occasionally have concerts at the park in the summer as well.  In December they decorate it with thousands of light and call it the Garden D'lights, that is pretty awesome as well.  The only negatives are that you cannot ride your bikes in the gardens, though you can always ride to the garden and they go by foot.  The other negative is no dogs, so we had to leave Chip, our big yellow lab, at home.  He was bummed to see us going for a walk without him.  Hopefully next weekend we can get in a good ride!!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Well its my birthday and I had a fun day.  Since Good Friday is a stock market holiday, I got the day off as well, so I slept in!  Yay!!  My wife took me out for lunch at the Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue and OMG, it is the best!  It is one of our favorite restaurants.  They also made me dinner and dessert!  I am lucky.

I spend the afternoon working on bikes so we could go for a bike ride as it is supposed to be near 70 tomorrow in the Seattle area.  It was sunny today, so I was working outside in shorts.  I put training wheels on my daughters bike.  I got my wife's Trek down from the rafters, pumped up the tires and made sure it was ready to ride.  I checked the tires on the comfort bike, still good.  Thought I would hop on and take it for a spin around the block, but the chain would not go around!!  I look down the rear derailleur is all bent out of shape as well as the chain.  What the heck!!!  I just rode it the other day. I didn't drop it and I don't recall anything hitting it in the garage.

It is hard to see in the pictures, but obviously  it will need to be fixed or replaced.  The chain needs to be replaced for sure.  Examining the derailleur, I see why it is important to have quality parts on your bike.  I got this bike for comfort and it had been a long time since I had even thought about bikes and components.  Really I should have done my homework.  Obviously this could happen to any bike, but I have had bike bumping around my garage for years getting hit, bumped, dropped, kicked, etc.  I have never had a damaged derailleur believe it or not.  But I have always bought quality bikes and parts until now.  I may have a replacement derailleur, but it would be 20 years old, so not sure if it will cover the gear range or not.  Think I will let the shop deal with it since I have not done too much work bikes in years, but I see a new Park repair stand in my near future, hmm, someone has a birthday...

I got my old Bridgestone MB-3 mountain bike down out of the rafters.  May try that if they cannot do a quick fix on the Globe 3...  Maybe I can swap the seats, so I can have a little comfort.  I was really excited to ride tomorrow too...


Training Wheels

Last year I purchase my daughter her first two wheeler without training wheels.  She never got the hang of it and is very scared about falling.  We took her to the park so she could fall on grass to no avail.  Since we really want to get on the bike and since I want her to ride with me to keep me motivated, we bought some training wheels to add to the bike.  I don't know how wise this is, but I figure she will get used to riding.  When she looks comfortable and it does not appear she really uses the training wheels, I will pull them off.  Here it is with training wheels installed:

Hopefully this will get her riding!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Randonneur Style Bikes (I think I want one)

OK, admittedly, this is getting a bit ahead of myself.  My main goal is to lose weight and build up to longer rides this year, but I can't seem to stop dreaming about that next bike I would like to buy.  So I tend to get caught in a "rabbit hole", as my (much) better half likes to say, researching seemingly endlessly on the internet for bikes and equipment.  All really pointless until I lose some more weight I think, but it sure is fun, right?

In the past, I rode a Ciocc racing bike.  It was quick and very responsive, however, on a long ride, I would get sore.  It had a rougher ride and you could feel all the bumps.  For a few years I rode my Mercian Vincitore touring bike, though admittedly, I did not put all that many miles on it.  It definitively was more comfortable, but I remember thinking it felt a little dead.  Clearly it did not have the same get up and go I was used to in my Ciocc.  The comfort bike I am riding now is very comfortable, but it is not responsive and it a way I find it harder to ride because you cannot really stand up to power up hills and such.

What type of bike to get next???  I have been trying to find a bike that would have some speed if I want it, but also one that is comfortable on a long ride of up to 100 miles or more. (Yes, I know I am thinking way ahead here).  I have come across a number of websites and blogs that talk about randonneuring.  The Randonneurs USA website defines randonneuring like this:

Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount. When riders participate in randonneuring events, they are part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy. Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring.

A bike designed for randonneuring is meant to be capable of speed if needed, but also for comfort on a long ride.  They are designed to carry weight up.  A rider wants to have everything they need to be accessible while riding, so this necessitates a bag on the front of the bike.  While the the design makes the bike stable with a front load, most riders (that I have read about) describe the bike as more stable and comfortable in general, even without a front load.  Many say they do not notice a handling difference when loaded versus not, which would seem to be the point, right?  I won't talk about geometry here, but there are different areas of thought on the subject.  Some believe the bike should have a low-trail, which has to do with the fork angle and rake, but I don't profess to be an expert, so I will not try to explain it here.  There are some very polarized views on the subject.  In general, a bike set up for light touring should work as a start.  A comfortable saddle is a must.  I have never owned a Brooks saddle, but I understand that once broken in, there is nothing more comfortable.  I have used Selle San Marco saddles, but those were more or less for racing, not comfort.  I would also like to try a Selle Anotomica saddle.  They say they do not need to be broken in and are very comfortable.

Brooks B17

Bigger diameter tires can also help make the bike more comfortable.  My Mercian has 23mm tires, but for randonneuring and comfort, a tire diameter of 32-42mm (or bigger) can help considerably.  They run at lower pressures and provide a more comfortable ride.

I may consider a customer bike as a reward when I reach my weight goal.  We shall see.  When I was younger I would drool over the custom Davidson Bicycles, a local Seattle builder or Rodriguez, another Seattle custom bike builder.  But while these bikes would be fully custom, I still need to figure out exactly what I want because a customer racing bike is different than a custom touring bike.

I may play with my Mercian. It is a touring frame and is relatively comfortable.  I can swap out the saddle with one of those above.  I was considering switching to 650b wheels, to have the ability to add a larger diameter tire, however, I realize I have plenty of clearance between the fork and tire, so I can probably try a larger diameter 700c tire.  Taking some crude measurement, it even appears to be a low-trail bike, though at the upper end of the range.  However, it will likely become more neutral adding bigger tires.  Fortunately I have another set of Campagnolo Nuovo Record hubs, so I can keep my current wheel set and have some built with wider rims to handle a bigger tire.  I believe I currently have a racing freewheel on it, so I would likely put a freewheel with a larger range on and maybe switch to a triple crank in front to give myself a wide range of gearing.  While I could get a newer style hubs that could handle a 10 speed rear cassette, that would require work to my frame and would move it too far from it vintage state.  I would prefer to keep this bike as vintage as possible.  Now if I go with a custom bike at some point, all bets are off.  Sram, indexed shifting, oh my!  As a side note, I have never used anything other than friction shifters on the downtube for shifing on a road bike.  When Campagnolo Ergo and Shimano STI shifters came out in the early nineties, I drooled and couldn't wait to try them, but never did.

My Mercian in its current state

I guess that is enough for now, I need to escape from my rabbit hole...

For more information on randonneuring, randonneuring bikes and low trail bikes visit:

Jan Heine's Blog, Off the Beaten Path or try subscribing to his Bicycle Quarterly magazine.

Rivendell Bicycle Works, makes comfortable bikes, some for randonneuring

Also, check out the Lovely Bicycle! blog, written by Veluria (Constance Winters), who also writes for Bicycling Magazine.  She compares several different randonneuring style bikes, talks about what low-trail bikes are and compares Rivendell and a Jan Heine style low-trail bike.

Velo-Orange has quickly become one of my favorite sites as well, with lots of great accessories and even some randonneuring style frames at reasonable prices.

A final note, I have no affiliation with any of the referenced websites or links.  I do not advertise or receive any compensation for recommending any products.  All opinions and ideas (right or wrong) were generated through my own "rabbit hole" research.  I don't profess to be an expert on anything, so always get a second opinion.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Working out and some neat websites

I did get to the gym again today to rid the bike, so I was happy about that.  An actual ride would have been more fun, but was not in the cards today.

Yesterday the sun peaked out for a little while and it appeared to be a great day for a ride!  The wind however was brisk and chilling, so I wavered until it turned kind of nasty and did not end up going for a ride. I did put some bicycle items on eBay however, so I was happy to get that done, though I have lots of old bike stuff, both new and used, that I have been storing for the last 18-23 years that I would like to thin out.

I discovered a great website for a company called VeloORANGE that makes and sells cool items for the bicycle tourist and randonneur.  It has lots of items to complete that classic look for a touring bike as well as other items to make bicycling more comfortable.  I really love their hammered fenders and chromed racks.  When I am ready for a new frame, I may consider one of their modestly price frames as well.  I want to get a comfortable frame with some responsiveness to it, but that I can use for light touring or maybe I can try some randonneuring (sp?).   Check out their website, its pretty cool.  By the way, I have no affiliation with them of any sort, which is the same for any other products or websites I have mentioned or will mention in the future.  I only mention things I like personally.  I also found another neat website called Adeline Adeline.  It also has some neat vintage looking items, though not as much as VeloORANGE.  I would love to hear about other websites in a similar vein, that offer vintage like items for bikes, touring and randonneuring.

Until next time...


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hit the gym

While I have not been riding much, I did manage to hit the gym to ride the bike there.  It may not be the same thing, but I hate to admit, I have always been a fair weather rider.  Tough to be a fair weather rider in Seattle, since it rains so much.  Anyway, it still felt good to get the heart pumping and to turn the crank.  I have never tried the spinning bikes before, but did get a chance to try one out after my workout.  I may have to try that in the future.  It feel more like a real bike.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

iPhone Bike Computer

Sunday, I had planned to go to the Seattle Bike Expo.  Due to a last minute family emergency, I was unable to make it.  One of the vendors I was keen on seeing was Wahoo Fitness who makes products that allow you to turn your iPhone (or other smartphone) into a bike computer.  The company makes cases and mounts for your phone as well as heart rate monitors and speed/cadence sensors that will transmit data to your phone via ANT+ or Bluetooth.  If you want to use their case, you can purchase one with an ANT+ receiver built in or one without, so you can use Bluetooth.  They also have an ANT+ receiver you can purchase to attach to you phone if you have another case/method of mounting you phone.

Bike Case and Mount with built in ANT+ receiver

Bike Case for use with Bluetooth (no ANT+ receiver)

ANT+ Receiver Key for iPhone

One issue I  have read about when using your smartphone as a bike computer, being always on and constantly receiving data, is battery life.  It will drain your battery quite fast, as as all of us iPhone users know, it seems to drain quite fast all on its own through regular use.  Wahoo Fitness does offer a solution for this by providing an extra battery that integrates with the case.  It has about 1.5x the capacity of an iPhone, so if your iPhone is fully charged, you will get 2.5x the standard battery life which should get you through most of your rides.  If you utilize another mount and case for the phone that will allow access to the charging port, there are cheaper options available, but you would have to figure out how to mount the battery.

Wahoo's Battery option

Here is a pic showing how the system mounts with battery:

Wahoo offers a Speed and Cadence sensor as well as a variety of options for heart rate monitors.  At this point I have not done enough research to know whether or not there are other options for Bluetooth or ANT+ speed and cadence sensors, though I suspect there are.  There are cheaper alternatives for Bluetooth heart rate monitors though.

Speed and Cadence Sensor

Speed and Cadence Sensor Mounted

Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor
This looks like a very neat option for a bike computer.  They offer apps to allow you to see all the data real time and I believe the sensors will work with other apps that are out there as well.  As far as the case and mount goes, I did see cheaper options on and at lease one would allow you to use an external battery source provided you can mount it.

If I decide to move forward, I will definitely provide details of the experience.  If anyone out there has any feedback on the Wahoo product or other solutions, please feel free to provide feedback.