Ridin’ blind

I am short sighted. Nothing extreme, but I don’t see much without my glasses. I own a pair of corrective sunglasses, but they fall off way too easy. They are nice to cruise in my automobile or hangout at the park, but any rapid movement and they fall off.

So the only solution until now has been to ride with my eyeglasses, but that’s not ideal either. The worse is probably in the rain, where water and fog on the lenses make it quite hard to see anything at all.

There are several alternatives I found while roaming the interwebs. Some riders with big dispensable income (mostly MAMILS I guess) seem to be getting prescription Oakley sunglasses. I guess that this is the best and most elegant solution, but I read that it costs you around 350 euros. Rudy Project also has good prescription sunglasses, and they are probably cheaper. 

So expensive, and with the disadvantage that you can’t take them off, for example in darker areas, if you go into a shop or just don’t want to wear them.

Another solution is to resort to sunglasses with inserts. You basically clip-in prescription lenses right behind compatible sunglasses. Rudy Project, Adidas and Bollé offer sunglasses which allow for inserts. It is much cheaper, but I read that the glasses are heavier and fog-up more easily. And you still can’t take them off when you want to.

The best solution I found was simply to purchase daily disposable contact lenses. I can’t imagine not wearing eyeglasses in my daily life, but contact lenses are perfect for a few hours. This gives me a wide choice of sports sunglasses, for a reasonable price, and the possibility to take them off whenever I want. 

I have gotten the contact lenses, I now have to pick a pair of sunglasses. I’ll probably go for the Oakleys, the PRO choice par excellence. The Jawbones would be my first choice, but at 200 euros, I won’t be able to justify that to my significant other… We’ll see what fits best!

Tags: Accessories

A couple of weeks ago, on 23 November 2010, it was sunny and it was freaking cold in Belgium. It was also the third round of the Cyclo-cross World Cup in Koksijde, on the Belgian coast. The racers in this type of events are as PRO and as bad-ass as it gets, racing by 0°C in the sand. 

This is very good video by Laurent Charras, of the Elite women race, which was won by the US National champion Katie Compton (more on cyclingnews.com).

Tags: PRO women

"We’ve all heard the statement at work, at family gatherings, among friends, at parties: “He’s a cyclist”. It’s the same sort of explanation that you’d give if you showed up to a Super Bowl party with E.T. You’d introduce him around and then say, “He’s from another planet”."

Red Kite Prayer: Identity

Spring planning (Cyclosportives in Belgium)

The winter has really come down upon us. I did not go for my Sunday ride last week-end: it is not only the sub-zero temperatures, but now also the snow.

I have not given up on training though, and go for my regular in-door spinning sessions at the gym. I will just have to find the courage to go for a run on the week-end to train my endurance.

In the meantime, and in order to keep myself motivated, I have started searching for cyclosportives in Belgium. The season starts in February, which is somewhat optimistic I guess, and events are held pretty much every week-end. Plenty of opportunities, for all tastes, from big events to smaller brevets.

Anyway, here are few sources to find events:

Cycling.be (which belongs to the msn portal) has a pretty good calendar.

Grinta! also has a selection of events it publishes on the web. The rest is in the magazine (which I will have to subscribe to, as it is very difficult to get in Brussels).

The Banque de La Poste Cycling Tour, which regroups the more large-scale events, has its own website, but nothing for 2011 yet there. The calendar is available elsewhere though.

The cyclosportive Tour des Flandres/Ronde van Vlaanderen also has its own website. Registration is already open, the event will be held on 2 April 2011. This is a huge thing, with 19.000 participants last year.

These are the main sources of events. Once you spot one in the calendar, the details will often by included in the website of the organiser which google will find for you.

So only two-three months and off we’ll go!

Hot Wheelz bike shop (Specialized concept store)

This is probably my favourite bike shop, if only because it is really close to where I live (at La Bascule), and the owners are a very kind and helpful couple. The owner is in his thirdies and opened the store about ten years ago. It became a Specialized concept store in 2008.

Obviously, as a Specialized concept store, they only have Specialized bikes and accessories, except for the odd Garmin GPS or Topeak saddle bag. But besides that limitation, they have a very good choice and everything you might need from mountain/city/road bikes to bidons, gloves, helmets, shoes, tires, etc. They are supposed to have a widest Specialized selection in Belgium. 

I bought a bunch of stuff there. I will end up with a Cannondale accessorised with Specialized accessories.

They also have a workshop and are fast and competent. You just need to make an appointment (as with most stores) but they fix all types of bikes, not just Specialized.

So all in all, probably one of the nicest bike shops in Brussels, with a laid back, young and helpful atmosphere. They also speak good english, for the non-francophones out there.

Website: http://www.bikeshop.be/

Address: 744 Chaussée de Waterloo, 1180 Bruxelles (at La Bascule)

Tel: 02 / 647 87 97

All across the world people are having a whinge, having a sulk or having a fucking cry about it. So come on world. Take your skirt off, cancel your manicure, grow a moustache and harden the fuck up!

(and go out riding in cold and rainy Flanders!)

"The Rad Rowdies are a Viennese bike gang — drinking and riding is their mission. Here are some of their favorite places in Vienna. Set to Texta’s "Ned Deppat" & produced for the 2010 Bicycle Film Festival."

Ok, whatever. Fun though. 

"

Your jersey must match your shorts, which must match your arm warmers, which must match your socks. But under no circumstances should a replica pro team kit or a national/world champion kit be worn unless you’ve earned it. The only acceptable team kit is your own club kit. Retro wool kits are sometimes acceptable, but even that is iffy.

To look cool if you don’t belong to a club or a team, wear a stock Castelli or Assos kit but don’t mix and match. To be Euro-cool, wear the kit of an obscure European amateur team, but only if you have a story about how you spent the winter riding with them in Majorca to go along with it. Please, no century jerseys (I’m going to take some heat on that one), nothing with cartoon characters on it and never, under any circumstances, go jersey-less. Especially if you are wearing bibs.

"

PezCycling News: How to look PRO (via Cycling tips blog)

Tags: PROs

Living by Numbers (Garmin 705)

My friends got me a Garmin 705 for my birthday. Well, actually, they got me a Garmin 605 and I decided to upgrade to a 705. For just 80 euros extra, you have a heart rate monitor integrated into the device.

(They got it from eXpansys.be, for about 200 euros, instead of 300 euros in brick and mortar stores. The device was delivered in one day by DHL and they have good after-sale service. I recommend!)

That is a really nice gift, and I’m looking forward to using it soon on the road. I always find it fascinating to see how we now have tiny devices that have more CPU power and memory than my first computer, which I got about 15 years ago. That PC had 250MB of hard drive memory. Yes, hard drive memory.

This is not by bike. I am not that geeky.

Those devices opens up whole new perspectives in the way we approach exercising. On that topic, Wired had a very interesting piece about a year ago:

Not only can we collect that data, we can analyze it as well, looking for patterns, information that might help us change both the quality and the length of our lives. We can live longer and better by applying, on a personal scale, the same quantitative mindset that powers Google and medical research. Call it Living by Numbers—the ability to gather and analyze data about yourself, setting up a feedback loop that we can use to upgrade our lives, from better health to better habits to better performance. 

What is a bit freaky though (the Wired piece is about Nike+, which is linked to a Nike database, the Garmin 705 can also be hooked up to a Garmin database), is the amount of information you give about yourself to a third party, if you really want to exploit all the possibilities the devices offer.

The Nikes and Garmins can use the databases as a huge consumer test bench in order to taylor the devices to their consumers needs. But they will also use them to optimise the marketing of the device and maximise the revenue they milk from us.

The Red Kite Prayer blog also pointed out that all those stats may modify the way we ride:

I realized in that moment that I had, at some point over the preceding years, ceased to ride my bicycle. I had begun to ride my computer, and, in the end, it had ended up riding me. I had stopped collecting experiences on my bike and resorted only to collecting statistics. Perhaps worst of all, I had stopped seeing where I was going. I was the computer. The computer was me.

But I guess that is also a generation thing, and I would tend to also agree with the point made by the WV Cycling blog:

Sometimes data does make a ride easier. If I know I have fifteen miles left to ride, and no water left, that’s okay. I know I can make it home. The comfort of knowing how many miles are left, or where I am exactly, or even how fast I would need to go to get to my destination at a certain time really does remove some of the thinking involved with riding; this way you can focus more on the ride, your friends, and the scenery around you.

I am not a professional, but these little pieces of data act as secondary entertainment, and security nets. It is also great to be able to view and share rides with others using Garmin Connect’s route mapping features. There have been TOO MANY times since I have purchased this thing that I went: “oh, I didn’t know we passed so close to THERE…” Which in turn, created a similar, but shorter/longer/steeper/calmer/safer ride by knowing what roads, elevations, stores, or options were available.

We will see where this device takes me. But of one thing I’m pretty sure: at least I’ll stop getting lost in Flanders. And that is pretty cool.

Jens Voigt confirming his badass status

As reported by cyclismag last week, Jens Voigt raced 107 days in 2010. He is thus the PRO rider who spent the most days racing this year.

Why am I not surprised?