Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bumps, Backpacks, and Headlamps

With the stormy weather out of the way I rode my bike to work on my regularly scheduled Wednesday this week. This was officially Bike Commute #8, but is there any point to continue counting? Maybe, maybe not, but I guess I will anyway.

It was sunny but being winter, it was still cold by San Diego standards. I layered a long sleeve merino wool tee under another long sleeve shirt. I wore a beanie under my helmet to keep the wind off my ears, but still wore shorts. Gloves, of course. It was a lovely day for a ride and I had excellent luck with regards to catching green lights at the intersections. I only had 2 minutes of stop time versus cycling time: 22 minutes by bike computer and 24 minutes total run time by wrist watch. That might be a personal best time, I think.

I aired up my tires to 70 psi and it felt like the bumps on Kearny Villa Road were more noticeable. That or the condition of the bike lane was worsened by the recent rains. I'm not sure what pressure I had been running on my previous commutes, but I'll have to experiment with tire pressure a bit more.

Instead of the Timbuk2 messenger bag I've been riding with the past couple rides, I opted to try out my old Boblbee hard shell backpack. I've never ridden with the bag before, but the aerodynamic design certainly lends itself toward cycling. I used this backpack extensively during grad school and it was always comfortable because of the integrated lumbar support, especially with heavier loads. The stability of the backpack was welcomed after experiencing shifting with the Timbuk2 bag the past couple rides. In defense of the Timbuk2 I had not been using the stabilizing waist strap (I seem to have misplaced it), so I suppose I shouldn't blame the bag for moving around. One issue with the backpack was that there was no ideal way to clip an extra blinky light. The Timbuk2 has an integrated clip specifically for this purpose, plus built-in reflector tabs. I managed to clip my extra blinky to the backpack's top grab handle, but it flopped around occasionally.

I have a Princeton Tec Yukon light that I haven't really used much because I didn't want to fuss with mounting its external battery pack. It came with a helmet mount, so I decided to try it out for the evening ride after work to supplement my handlebar-mounted Planet Bike Blaze. My backpack has a little pocket on the top flap. I was able to stow the battery pack there, though I didn't take much care to pack in the extra length of wire. When I initially set off the wire flopped around. I somehow got it to behave for most of the ride. Next time I'll have to stow the wire more carefully or use zip ties to manage the extra length. It didn't get too dark that I noticed much benefit from having the helmet-mounted light. Towards the end, I was able to look down and check my progress on my cycle computer, which is not back lit. It was nice to have light that moved with my eyes versus being fixed on the handle bars.

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