Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bikecharge Installation And Review

I was recently riding my bicycle, listening to Howard Stern and using my speedo to track how slowly I was moving, and I saw this.

Now, the last thing I want to see is that I have a low battery, because it means no tunes and no tracking for the rest of the ride. (It also means that Mrs. The Plano Cyclist can't call me and ask when I will be home, so it's a bit of a mixed bag.) When I saw the notification, I mentally kicked myself, because I had a dynamo system sitting on my workbench, waiting to be installed on the bloggipede.

Even though it was waiting patiently, it took another incident to get me to install the Bikecharge. I had received a notice about a recall on my Light and Motion 180 for a circuit board problem; the light I had was in a batch that had problems with the light turning off unexpectedly. "Pshaw", I said, "this is a great light, and I don't think it will be a problem." And it wasn't - until one night at about 6:45. Once you are used to having plenty of light, it is hard to adjust to having none. I usually carry a blinky in my bag, but on the night the lights went out in Plano I didn't have it with me, of course. It was a dark ride home, and the whole time I was thinking about that Bikecharge dynamo, just sitting on the PC workbench.

Having been given two reasons to install the Bikecharge, I went ahead and did it. I had been avoiding installing the unit because I read the instructions, and I had to replace one of the hub nuts with an included narrower nut. That may sound funny from a guy who has no problem stretching a frame, but hubs are my one stopper. Despite having plenty of tools and abilities, I hate dealing with them. It is a weird hang up I have, and one that I suspect is actually slowing down the tandem rebuild.

Despite having to deal with my irrational hub mental block, the install was a snap - remove the wheel, replace the outer nut with the thinner nut (simple) and then put your wheel back on. I use a nutted front hub on the bloggipede, so once it was tightened, I did some adjusting and got everything pointed the right way. Install took all of ten minutes, and I wish I had scheduled the staff photographer that day, because it was impossible for me to do it and take photos at the same time.

Remote on/off switch

Once the unit was installed, I connected the remote "on" switch and strung it up to the handlebars. This part took longer than the actual generator installation, to be honest.
USB Plug

After that, I installed the USB cable, strung it up, and was done. The Bikecharge comes with little clips to facilitate the stringing of the wires, and I have no worries that the wires are going anywhere.
After the installation, it was time to test this baby out. The wide silver part gathers up the generated energy via the little tab shown below. Here it is engaged.

And disengaged - there is a slider so that when you don't need juice/don't want the drag on your wheel, you can reverse the tab and disengage the generator. I'm sure some of your ears perked up when I said "drag", so I will address it directly.

Yes, there is some drag. I haven't got a way to measure, but there is a perceptible amount of drag on the front wheel with this system. I have an older bike with a bottle type generator light system, and I will say that it drags much more than the Bikecharge. I don't know how the Bikecharge drag compares to a generator hub, because I don't have one. It doesn't matter, because to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs. You can't generate power without some drag.

Rear of unit, with taillight and usb and control wires

And does this thing generate power! I am impressed by the amount of light that it puts out. I have been spoiled by the Urban 180 light output; I would say that the Bikecharge puts out almost as much. It's certainly brighter than every other light I have tried, and a ton brighter than the bottle generator light. One of the nicer features of the Bikecharge is that it stores a small amount of energy, so that when you are stopped the light stays on. That way I don't suddenly disappear when I stop moving. The USB charge feature works very well, and I was able to recharge my half full iPhone on an hour ride, while still using the Bikebrain app and listening to Harry Nilsson.

The Bikecharge is $99, and a great investment for a commuter. Pair it with a phone mount on your handlebars, and you are all set to enjoy the day on two wheels from dawn until dusk.

All of the above was written when I originally installed the light in February - and I have ridden in extensively since then. Sadly, the tiny little screws in the engagement tab worked themselves out after a few rides, rendering the Bikecharge useless. I have contacted the company to see if they can send me replacement screws, so I can continue to test it. I'm sure they will, and I assume that my unit was an outlier. I will let you all know what kind of response I get from the company.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Frankly, I've Been Putting This Off For A While

I know I said that I was taking some time off in February to write some "posts" for this "blog", but then real life intruded and I became busy; we moved office space, we hired someone else, and I just got flat out too busy. That's not an excuse, because I hate excuses. Rather, it's just me being honest with you all, and asking you to forgive me. I really should have looked back on the past few years of log posts and noticed that I do have a pretty big production drop off in the beginning of the year, when things start to pick up at work. Remember, I do have a real job, and the piper must be paid. It can't all be cotton candy and vintage bicycles.

If you are curious about what it is I have been doing, you can feel free to read some of my "work" blogs HERE, HERE, and HERE. Oddly enough, in my work life I cater to automobile fetishists, but in my real life I could care less about most cars. Unless they are trying to squash me, in which case I care a great deal.

I'm not going to come back here and make great pronouncements about how many posts I'm going to do, and what about. Instead I am going to tell you where today finds me. When we left off, I said I was going to be losing weight and weighing myself on the regular. That was a lie (though I didn't know it at the time), and as most people do, I lost the weight loss momentum about the time I stopped writing new stuff back in February. I am about the same weight as when I stopped, but I am not the same shape. If you remember, the desire for weight loss was brought on my the purchase of a bunch of pants that were just a little too small for me - but I am wearing a pair now, as I type this. I have been working out, and I have been riding, but I haven't kept track of eating. I will make this pronouncement; I will not bother you with my weight loss goals again. If you want to see that, go to my friend Jared's blog, The Chili's Diet. He is busy with an interesting undertaking, and his blog is worth a perusal.

I do have a couple of things coming up; I had some products that I was sent for review that never got published. I do owe them a few articles, and I'm writing them now. I have also acquired an incredible bike in a trade with Hubbard, and that is going to prompt an article about it, as well as what three of the bikes I have represent. It might be the most interesting article this year, or it might be an incredible bust; with me you never know.

Look for some stuff here over the next few weeks as I begin to fill my funnel again. I had a habit of early morning writing, but I fell out of it, especially since it had become real work having to write product reviews.
I am early morning writing again, and that should bring something in here sooner rather than later.

Thanks for reading (and presumably coming back), and if you enjoy this, you can again look forward to being entertained(?) by my writing again. In the meantime, keep the rubber side down, and your eyes on the horizon.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Just a Quickie. Man, I Can't even Stay Away Right.

The words are flowing from me like a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives, so you guys can look forward to some real content on March 5. Today I popped in to tell you that since I've made Hubbard an internationally recognized person, the "mainstream alternative" press has jumped on the bandwagon and he has been profiled by the Lakewood Advocate.  (and I'm sure in the paper, if they still print such archaic things).

Read all about him here.

I'm sure he will show up on Channel 5 soon, and then you will see a profile of "The New Cyclist" on CNN that has Hubbard front and center - after that, I'm guessing he ends up on BBC and RT.

Remember - you heard about him here first.

That guy behind him looks scared. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Check in, Mea Culpa, and a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Funny, now I have two with the same title.

I have been letting the cobwebs pile up on this here corner of the web, so I'm going to paint the net with my words once again, letting my ideas flow acrost the tips of your brain stem, tickling your fancy.

The weight loss still goes well, but after the flu I had a lingering cough that made me feel like a resident of London in the 1840's. I didn't do much of anything other than work my abs by  making sure to tighten them a little extra at each cough - to feel the burn. I also broke my finger at the same time, so typing became a big hassle, as did riding. I am finally back to normal (albeit with a slightly hooked ring finger) so there you have my life story already, jeez.

I weighed in this morning.


I am still losing, (in most aspects...) and have re-implemented my implementation of a fitness plan as of this morning. I fully expect to be down another few pounds by Monday of next week - but here is where the big announcement comes in.

There will be no blog here until March 5. 

I have to take a small break in order to create content. This is a busy period for me at work and I really need to put some focus there, especially at my work blog. In order to do that, I need some time to write. At the same time, I will be writing for here. I have a few reviews that I still need to put down on pixel, and I have a ton of pictures I need to attach to some words - writing for this place helps me here, so it's going to work out well for everyone in the end if I stop trying to put things together on the fly and focus my energies.

Sadly though, it does mean that I will not be putting anything up for a while. This place (or lately the lack of content here) has become stressful to me, and I need to find a way to integrate writing for my blog into my regular spring and summer work schedule.

In the meantime, you can keep track of me by checking back here. I will continue to track my weight via Livestrong, so you can see where my reinvigorated regimen is getting me.

Try the LIVESTRONG.COM calorie counter to start your weight loss journey.

I will see you all in a fortnight.

If you can't wait to read about someone losing weight, go check out my buddy Jared's blog - he is eating at Chili's every day in an effort to lose weight. Read all about it here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Amazing Return of the Friday Linkdump series!

Howdy everyone. Today's linkdump is all specific posts that I enjoy from blogs I read regularly.

Dave Moulton's Blog - "Simpler Times"

You know how much honking would go on now? 
I quite often think I was born in the wrong time. This post is full of photos taken of the streets of Dublin Ireland in 1961. Any time before 1973 seems super exotic to me. Dave also talks about the way cyclists interact with traffic, then and now.

Biking In Dallas - "Wheels that Heal"

You can almost smell the hippies. 
Toni, the organizer of the Wheels That Heal benefit, wrote about the results of the party. I get a shoutout.

Pedestrian! Two points! "A Little Katy Trail Etiquette"

On your left! 

The title is pretty self explanatory. After a weekend ride down the Katy with Hubbard, I second a lot of her thoughts here. Plano trails are pretty deserted compared to the Katy.

3 Speed Touring In Japan "Return To Sado part 7"

Narrow streets of a historic Japanese village. 
I love Japan, and plan to do a bicycle tour of the country when I make a little money (click those ads, folks!). Don is the mechanic and manager of a bicycle shop in Japan, and this post has some photos from a historic town he visited on a bicycle tour of the coast - I chose part 7, but really you should look at each part.

Fuji Otaku "The Phoenix Project - Nitto M12 Front Rack".

The Phoenix Project

This guy is building an awesome bike from selling some nice parts on eBay. I chose this entry because of his rating system, but the whole series is worth a look - this guy has mad skills, both literary and mechanical, and a $4k old bike. This, like the bloggipede, is an example of the value and versatility of a quality old bicycle frame.

See you next week with more fresh content. Thankfully I finished my licensing stuff, and will not have that extra pull on my oh so valuable time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday Morning Weight Loss Check In

Did I blow your mind there? Tuesday?

After using the flu diet for a few days, and trying to cough my lungs out for a week afterwards, I will freely admit that I have been very passively dieting and exercising. I figure my "bod" needs to get well before I start beating up on it again, so there really isn't much to report. I'm still down (198.2) and am keeping an eye on my food intake, but not watching calories as much as I was.

What hideous feet. 

While I have not been working out, I have been stretching like crazy. My trainer recommended I buy a styrofoam roller and use it to stretch - man, what I have been missing! My favorite stretch is to roll my back up and down the roller, pausing where I find it tight. It is incredible, and I feel great when I am done. I also roll the outside of my thighs down the roller the same way, and it is great. Mrs. The Plano Cyclist is a great yogi, and has always stressed the value of a good stretch. I will freely admit that I haven't really stretched since I was in 9th grade P.E. and Coach Washington made us. Even then, I only did it in an effort to see up the girls shorts (and was quite limber for all of the effort I put in. Thanks coach!) During my cycling resurgence, even when I was really riding hardish, I never stretched. Now, on the other hand, I have really embraced the stretch. Even of I haven't exercised, I will still take a few minutes and do some stretching, just to loosen up. A foam roller is about $20 at Academy or Dick's, or Oshmann's, and is a worthwhile purchase of home gym equipment.

Not as ominous as this picture makes it look. 

 I generally don't encourage buying home gym stuff, because it never gets used by the average person. In this case, I make an exception, because you really should be using a foam roller to knead your muscles. In a pinch, you can use it for a coffee table as well.

How very modern. 

So what else do you have to look forward to from me this week? I plan to write up the Bikecharge system, and hope to put together a Linkdump for Friday as well. However, I have some professional licensing stuff that I need to attend to, so you may get only one or the other. I'll do my best to get you both articles, but unless you guys start clicking those ads like crazy and telling your friends to read and do the same, I can't count on this work to keep a roof over my head. I have been trying to get someone to give me a house to review, but no such luck yet.

Speaking of reviews, not too long ago, I got an email from Paul F. Pinsky, an author, asking if I would like a copy of his book, "Biking Through The Hoods" to read and personally enjoy. Since I love free stuff, and the title and premise of his book were intriguing to me, I took him up on the offer. "My audience doesn't really care for books", I told him, "no one has yet claimed the free Zen book I'm giving away, so I doubt they themselves read." I told him I would read his book nonetheless and tell my readers about it. I have cracked it open and read a few pages, and it seems well written and interesting. I will review it in toto when I finish it, but am not reading a ton right now - that licensing stuff I was talking about.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Who is This "Hubbard" Guy?

There have been discreet inquiries by various readers lately about a character who shows up in the PC narrative now and again - Hubbard.

Hubbard is a fascinating person, sort of a riddle wrapped in an enigma, surrounded by mystery, and then smothered with secret sauce and served with a side of okra.

Hubbard is the Moriarity to my narrator, the lawyer to my Dr. Gonzo, the Amadeus to my Salieri. He is a good time Charlie, and the man with a plan.

I would never attempt to ride down any Dallas trail without Hubbard taking the point. He is the only rider that I know whose rides end in shootouts. His bike has been in the police impound - has yours? In fact, he even has the world's largest dachshund - and that dog will kill your dog like you or I might squash a mosquito.

In addition to being the most dangerous man on two wheels, he is the J.D. Salinger of Dallas bike bloggers - he used to be one of Dallas' most important voices in the bloggisphere, but now he has silenced his own voice in order to "leave the sunsabitches wanting more - they never commented enough anyway.".

Hubbard shook the hand of the Pope and owns art that weighs more than your car. He is so Dallas that his home even has a connection the the JFK assassination. He has a bike for every day of the week, and even has a trike so that if he drinks too much (if that's even possible) he won't fall off on the way home.

Hubbard cares so little for the laws of nature that he once drove his car across White Rock Lake. He has a cable car in his backyard - mostly because it once killed someone.

It's hard to capture someone like Hubbard in a blog post - and I feel like if I say too much more, I'll find him leaning on my porch railing, singing hymns.

It's always good to have a Hubbard in your story. They move the action along nicely. I hope this post answers more questions than it raised for everyone.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Whew! Two In A Row? High Five!

No linkdump today, because while I have been spinning my wheels on the internet plenty while I was sick, I didn't find any bicycle links to put up here. However, I will have The Phenomenal Return Of The Friday Linkdump here next week, fo sho. Instead of that, this week I thought I'd have a little fireside chat and catch up with you after my absence.

First, my weight loss; no photo, but when I weighed in this morning, I was rocking in at 197, so thank you Flu virus! I'm keeping it real, however, and am doing more than getting ill in order to trim down. I've been trainering, using the TRX system, and will continue to do so to maintain the weight loss goals I have set. As I'm typing this, it's like 70 degrees outside, so now that I am recovered and well, I have no doubt that we will get a cold snap that will test my commuting resolve/plunge us into a nuclear winter. 

Even though I was raving like a madman, I did manage to come up out of my fever delirium for long enough to attend the "Wheels That Heal" benefit on Sunday - I finagled a Chrome bag and some shoes for the raffle, as well as some training time with Josh at A&W Fitness (my trainer - scoreboarding!). The fundraiser was a good time -  I met Hubbard at Mockingbird station, we rode down the Katy trail, made a refuel stop at the Icehouse, and then meandered on to the party. There was a good turnout, the party itself raised a little over $4500 to put towards the offending hospital bills, and the hostess even managed to drum up a lawyer willing to donate his services to negotiate the hospital bills down. Hopefully, between the $4500 raised at the party, the $1400 raised (so far) through direct donations at the FundRazr page, and the services of a No Win No Fee Nobleman, Liberty will not have to face a future blackened by medical debt. I hope she is happy that I came, because I think that my effort to get down there weakened me tremendously and caused my Monday - Tuesday relapse. 

Thanks for bearing with me for my absence - I will keep putting new posts up here, but work time is crunch time right now, so please be patient with me. I would make a quip about quantity and quality, but I think that neither one applies here. However, I will not allow a week to go by again without some notice. 

Luckily for you, there was a photographer at the party, and I love to look at my beard, so I made sure I got some photos taken. This is Hubbard and me in our full bikedude mode. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

1up USA Indoor Trainer Review. Tha Trainer You Love To Hate.

I hate my indoor trainer. I feel bad for the trainer, as it's really not its fault that I hate it. I suppose it's some sort of projection, this hate, as it really is me that is the problem here; I am fat, I have been laying off of serious riding for months, and I have this funny odor that is neither pleasant or unpleasant following me around. (Well, I suppose that has nothing to do with the trainer.)

I guess you might call my relationship with the 1up USA trainer a love/hate relationship. The love started with the box it came in; Made In The USA stamped right on it. The trainer itself is also made in the USA, and is truly a beautiful piece of workmanship. I have a pasty English friend who thinks that Made In The USA is a mark of unfinishedness; he implied that all USA made items he has encountered are almost really nice, but lack the final "finishing touches" that things made elsewhere have.


I wish he was a cyclist, so I could prove him wrong with the 1up. I also wish I hadn't called him pasty, because while he doesn't appreciate our manufacturing skills, he does appreciate our liberal Texas gun laws, and I suspect he is a "fan" of this very blog.

Skewer and skewer retention system
The 1up USA trainer is billed as "simply the best" indoor trainer made today, and I believe it. The fit and finish are second to none, and it incorporates legs that have the ability to raise and lower the bike in order to eliminate the need for a front wheel block. The 1up includes a skewer for the rear wheel as well, so all you need to hate your trainer is enclosed in the box. The 1up actually has a lever to release one side of in order to put the bike in - you only have to get it set up once, and after that, you can pop your bike out for a ride in the real world very quickly. (Unless you are crazy like me, in which case it is actually easier to select one of the hundreds of other bikes that hang like suits in your garage.)

Lever to open and insert bicycle. 

When it comes to hating trainers, my wife has the same problem; she hates the way they look, and even more, she hates the loud "thrumming" sound when I use them. She doesn't hate this trainer at all - even she said it was nice looking. Better than that, without being prompted by me, she mentioned that this trainer is quiet, and that earns two thumbs up from Mrs. The Plano Cyclist.

Adjustable legs mean no front block. 

The flywheel starts up and spins very smoothly, and is pleasurable to ride - which makes me hate it even more, because it takes a lot longer for me to find some lame excuse to stop my indoor training session. The pain is still there, but this is such a finely crafted machine and it works so well that I keep going longer, because my "excuse gland" is not inflamed quickly enough.

Finely Balanced Flywheel

I have ridden several hours on the 1up so far, and it just keeps getting better - at making me hate it - because it is kneading away the doughy monster I have become, and wringing out plenty of sweat in the process. I will do a follow up article after a few more weeks of punishing myself for excess Oreos,and tell you if we have resolved our differences.

My Sweaty Little Corner of Hell. 
 The 1up USA trainer is $299, with free shipping in the USA.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I am not dead

But I have been ill.

As a result, my weight is down. Look for a full post tomorrow. I apologize for my long absence.

Civil War Style

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Incredible Return Of The Tuesday Bicycle Musical Interlude.

I love me some music. These two especially.

This one is greatness too.

Bigger post tomorrow.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekly Weight Loss Check In and Progress Report.

Here we are at another Monday, and here I go again, checking in. People do read these, even if you are rolling your eyes right now, regular reader.

Join the weight loss crew at LIVESTRONG.COM

I have been counting my calories this week, and exercising, but have not really made any weight lowering type progress. I'm going to assume that is because I am building muscle and burning fat, and just chalk the weight stasis up to that.

I need a pedicure. 

I'm chalking it up to muscle building, because I have actually been working my muscles. The good folks at TRX, in conjunction with A-W fitness have sent me one of their "Pro" suspension systems to help me build up my core and branches. I have used it once already, and think it's a really neat system. Josh at A-W thinks that we should do a before AND after video, so look for two; one with me crying and saying "no, please, I want to die.." and one where I can pull a semi-trailer with my massive lats (and probably eyes) bulging.

"Abby someone..."

Not much to report otherwise on this beautiful Monday, other than to let you know I have actually written a few articles for this week already so you can look forward to some new reviews going up. I have installed the "BikeCharge", and it is fantastic. I have also written my initial review of the 1UPUSA trainer that I have been using. so you can learn more about that this week. 

I'm going to post the link to the donation form for the young lady who had the bad bicycle accident and has no insurance. Please, if you can, donate HERE and help her on her way to recovery. If you are local, please consider coming to the fundraising party as well; there are a ton of great prizes for you to win, and the list keeps growing. 

Details on that party are HERE. I hope to see you there. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

I Got Recognized!

So since it was so beautiful yesterday, I made sure to ride my bike today - and got recognized by a fellow train rider. I was just trying to be anonymous behind my monstrous beard and clear sunglasses on the train when a lovely young woman boarded, pushing a very nice red and white mixte bike with BFR spoke cards. She and I chatted a little bit about bikes, local parties we might attend, and internal hubs as the train hurtled down the tracks. After we talked gadgets for a few minutes, she demurely brought up this very corner of the web, and asked "Are you a blogger - I think I've read your blog. ". I waved my hand modestly and said "yes". I could tell she was trying to decide what she wanted me to autograph, and I was about to make the offer of my signature (as much as I try to avoid it) when we arrived at my station. I quickly exited to spare us both the awkward interaction I knew was pending. It was nice to meet a fan, but I wish that everyone understood that I need my privacy, despite my public persona.

Once I exited the train and headed for the trail, I spotted this guy.

Those things clamped to his arms are fleece earmuffs - and he was indeed selling them, for $5.00 a pair. He rides the rails, peddling these earmuffs in order to help him afford his $35 a night room; he is helping to support another recently homeless friend of his who has recently renal failure. If you aren't in Texas today, you might not know that we have had one of the warmer Januaries I can remember, and our friend the earmuff salesman was lamenting the temperature. "I have to buy inventory, and then a ticket, so I have to sell at least one a day to break even." I admire his go getter attitude. were I homeless as well, I would probably find something similar to raise money. I commiserated with him about the problems that small businesses face, wished him luck, and then called the police about him selling earmuffs without a permit as I rode away.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Coolest Bicycle Shoes Ever Made - Chrome Pro Series.

I like to use clipless pedals for my commuter. I actually built the Bloggipede up with regular flat pedals, and that is fine for running around the neighborhood, but I don't care for unsecured feet when riding any sort of distance. I wear a pair of Shimano "commuter" shoes now, but everyone tells me they look terrible, and I'm inclined to agree. They do the job I need them to do, but they are certainly not stylish in any way. (Much like the dude wearing them.)


I did a little research, and I emailed a few shoe companies to see if they were interested in doing a "Shoetout" and letting me compare some more stylish SPD compatible shoes. Chrome was enthusiastic, but I didn't hear anything from Keen or DZR - so I unequivocally declare the Chrome Pro series of shoes the best casual SPD compatible cycling shoe in the world. Without a doubt, these shoes are the best looking "urban" cycling shoe I have ever handled, and they are surely the best looking SPD compatible sneaker I have ever had in my office. I wish I was more graphically savvy so I could make them some sort of digital award to post on their site for winning The Plano Cyclist's 2012 Shoetout. In the very least, we here at the PC offices celebrate their clear cut win.

Hells yeah, guys!!!!!
When I told Chrome about the Shoetout, they were excited about the "long term" part of my testing regimen. I always read reviews on the internets that tell me how nice something is when it's new, but I rarely see a longer term follow up on the item as it wears. I plan to do a long term review of these shoes as well, so you can see what you can expect after riding them for a while. For now, however, I will give you my initial thoughts about the winning pair of shoes.

Chrome Kursk Pro
The shoes I chose to test are the Chrome Kursk Pro model - they are an SPD compatible Chuck Taylor styled low top canvas shoe, with a nylon reinforced sole for better power transfer. This pair is in my size, and having tried them on,  I will tell you that they are very comfortable.

Red Sole
Above, you can see the red sole and SPD attachment bolts. The shoes come with a "plug" for the sole, and as you can see I haven't removed it as of this writing. I have a new set of cleats in my desk that I will install tonight so I can really give these shoes a run. So far my impression is that they look sharp and seem very well made. 
This is an Aglet
A great example of the build quality is seen in the the aglets; they are not the standard plastic ones you see on most shoes. The kind that split and fray under hard use. Instead, Chrome went the extra mile to make sure the aglets on the laces will last for as long as the shoes themselves. That small detail shows the thought that went into making these shoes worth the dollars you spent.  

Midway Left, Kursk Right
The photo above shows the other version of the Pro shoes that Chrome offers; the Midway Pro. The Midway has all of the same details as the Kursk, but they fit a little higher on the ankle and don't have the full toe cap that the Kursk has. I have both pairs because the Midways were sent by accident, in the wrong size. I haven't tried these on, but I assume they are as comfortable as the Pros. I'm not a mid-top guy though, so I will stick with the Kursks. 

I am kind of glad for the mix-up, because the good folks at Chrome have agreed to allow us to raffle them off to benefit a local cyclist who had a bad accident and needs money for hospital bills. In fact, after I presented my case Chrome even sent a bag for us to add to the raffle because the shoes are only one size and might have limited interest. All the same, if you are a women's 9.5 or a men's size 8, then you should plan on coming to the party to win these. As an added bonus, I will be autographing the box they come in. I'm guessing that alone will make these a hot raffle prize (and a commodity in the underground "blogger autograph" market). 

I will install SPD's on the Kursks soon and report back how they walk with the cleats installed as that is obviously an important part of the functionality of these shoes. I will also try to go play a round of basketball once I have them installed, per reader request. Look for a fundraiser to bail me out of jail shortly thereafter. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Check in, Mea Culpa, and a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

First, the weight "loss" check in.

Join the weight loss crew at LIVESTRONG.COM

I am still lower than I started (even though it's not reflected above), but I have stalled out a little. This is no one's fault but my own; I have not tracked my calories the way I should have, and I did not exercise at all last week, with the exception of a few halfhearted spins around the neighborhood.

This is the result of all of my hard work. 

I haven't fallen off of the wagon, but I was set back by rain and an intense work week. You will see lower numbers next week, because I did ride today (and plan to ride all the way home) and am counting what I eat very carefully. Mostly. And I am out of beer.
In addition, I am going to be working with Josh over at A&W Fitness to keep me honest and to take what I am doing to the "next level". Soon I will be slow AND have very little muscle definition. This agreement with Josh comes with another review opportunity. Josh and Paul are big believers in the TRX system, and have convinced them to send me a Rip trainer to use at home to increase my core strength. (I'm pretty sure my core is hollow like a rotten tree at this point). I will be talking about the TRX a couple of times, and will even do a video. I'm thinking something with soft focus, mostly nude, but artistic for sure. Keep your eyes out for that (or poke them out, whichever you prefer).

So that's my weight loss check in for the week. I guess I should address my lack of posts last week, but I've got nothing to say other than "sorry". I have been working hard at my real job, and as such just haven't had time to write enough posts for here to get ahead. If you want to read new words from me, go here. While I can generally knock these bicycle posts out fairly quickly, the insurance ones take considerably longer to research and make compelling. (If I have even succeeded at that.) There will be more posts here this week, though it may only be a three day schedule - unless I can squeeze more in. I'll try, but I do have to make some dough to pay for this dumb hobby.

Now for the big announcement.

You need to make the effort to get out to this benefit on the 29th of this month. Once again, the story is here. I am not going to go over it all here (because you can read) but in a nutshell, a girl who has a way cooler nickname than I do crashed her bike and she has no money to pay for hospital bills. While this sucks for her, certainly, some of her friends have put together a benefit at a gorgeous loft. This benefit includes free beer, live music, and one of the longest raffle prize lists I have seen. Since no one has put it out officially, as of today this is the list of prizes being raffled off at the benefit,

1. 4 Sessions with a personal trainer at A-W Fitness
2. A Chrome bag
3. A pair of Chrome shoes
4. A Custom Hula Hoop.
5. A gift certificate to Nova Gastropub
6. 1 night stay at the Belmont
7. A gift certificate to The Libertine
8. VIP treatment at Absinthe
9. A gift certificate from Red Hot + Blue
10. A professional photography package from Can Turkyilmaz
11. A custom leather from Chateau Nifty Pop
12. Scuba Classes from Blue Sea Adventures
13. A pin up photography package from Twisted Tiffany
14. $100 gift certificate from Richardson Bikemart
15. A family pack from Dallas Diamonds Football
16. Gift certificates from Boyd Massage
17. Private circus lessons from Circus Freaks
18  Art from Stephen Snow

I'm sure that there are more prizes as well - this is just the list I was able to glean from the Facebook page for the party. The beer will be provided by Franconia, and there will be live music by the The Bhakti House Band.

This is going to be "off the chain", like the kids say. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more details, but you need to come. If you are local, come and help someone avoid years of crushing medical bills.

If you aren't local, you can still help; donate a couple of bucks here. I encourage you to do so.

I really do hope to see you there. I feel bad for Liberty Kat, but I'm glad to go partay my face off to raise money for her. I assume she would party for me if I needed it.

Though I assume I'll have to put in extra workout time to burn off the Franconia.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Well, I Blew It.

I had posted every day for a while, but I didn't even manage a pithy post like this one yesterday.


I have a bunch to write about, but little time to do it. However, I thought I'd put some links up ahead of my bigger articles I have planned for next week. Chrome has sent me some shoes to review, but they sent me the wrong size first. They have since sent me some other kicks, but I talked them into donating the first pair they sent to the "Wheels that Heal" benefit for a local cyclist who suffered a crash. Then suffered even more for not having insurance. I know a fair bit about insurance, but little about health insurance, other than knowing you have to have it before a crash.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Circumnavigation Diary. Exploratory Report.

In the year of our Lord 2012, I have determined that it is necessary to navigate every mile of bicycle path in the city of Plano. I will document the excursion here in my "web log", and hope that the knowledge I bring will be used well by those that come after me. Should I survive, I expect to be feted and recount the incredible tales of my adventure over countless glasses of sherry. Plus groupies.

On the last day of 2011, I made an exploratory expedition West to put some supply caches in place. I was also raring for adventure and could scarce contain my excitement to begin the larger expedition.

The trails are teeming with life; this crane (or stork, I'm no ichthyologist) appeared just a few miles in. I wondered at his majesty for a bit, then continued my exploration.

Next I beheld the beauty of a wild turkey, probably recently escaped from Christmas dinner celebrations. This bold fellow was acting the part of waterfowl, most likely to ensure his continuing freedom. At least his head looked like a turkey, so that is what I assume he is.

Reaching my unsupported limit I turned back, lest I become lost in unfamiliar lands, leaving only my bleached bones as a memorial to my folly. On the return I took a slightly different route, and found what seemed to be some sort of memorial erected by natives. Pausing to reflect, I raised a toast to unknown warriors, then moved on.

Being bone tired at this point, I counted on my steed to carry me home safe; he did as I wished and brought me back to the very doors of the rooming house I have engaged while waiting to begin the expedition proper. Though only a 15 mile ride on paths mostly known to me, this small adventure whets my appetite for the larger circumnavigation to come. Westward ho!

My faithful steed.