Accoutrements and Oh, Gnats!

Day 4
18 miles

Not having a bike light prohibited me from having beer with friends tonight. Must. Fix. This. But wouldn’t you know that I did buy a little something for my new biking lifestyle today: cushiony biker shorts! Because that’s essential… I got them on sale at REI, and while I was there I got all dialed into their Members Only Garage Sale event taking place this Saturday which I will mosdefinitely be attending.

Apart from the saddlebags, rack and front light the bike came with and the lock and helmet I already had, I haven’t really acquired new accoutrements for the bike just yet (other than the aforementioned bike shorts), but I did make a wishlist today: Camelback, waterbottle holders, another lock, bike jerseys, bike pants, jacket, sports bras, bike shoes (and the learning curve those entail), cool helmet, gloves, dry sacks, and, of course, lights. And I want lots of lights, the kind that wrap around the whole frame of my bike. I see a lot of people with reflective vests – that’s not a bad idea either. But, realistically, I’m just going to keep on trucking without all this.

An additional accoutrement I ordered this weekend, a center kickstand, should be arriving to the Bike Depot tomorrow. As I said before, these awesome people have gotten on board to be the official grease monkeys of this adventure, and I can’t wait to chill with them again.

I had a truly excellent first long ride yesterday and today, via the South Platte and Bear Creek trails. Going there and not knowing the route or the detours, I felt like I was never going to get there and dragged for the last third of the trip. But coming back today, knowing the route and the detours, I made it in what seemed like half the time.

I will say this, the Igors who taunted me with all the future horrors that face a bike commuter forgot something: gnats. Those little buggers were everywhere on that route. I choked on them, got a few in my eyes. There were also prairie dogs scurrying across the Bear Creek Trail. And plenty of people living under the bridges, who are harmless, and yet the simple fact of someone approaching me from out of the darkness triggers a primal fear. It always passes, and then I wave.

I think I’ll start taking more pictures. I’m hesitant to stop everytime something grabs my eye, because I might not get anywhere. Today’s images: the Public Service compound’s neon sign, the bold white of the Elitch Gardens roller coaster, a plethora of prairie dogs and Centennial Park’s formal garden against the steely backdrop of downtown.

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7 thoughts on “Accoutrements and Oh, Gnats!

  1. matt kowal says:

    Erin, Sorry to hear about the light! Do you need any help with that?

  2. erin says:

    Meet Matt Kowal, everyone, the Tour de Fat impresario who totally has my b(ike)ack. No problems with the front light, and once I pick up a rear light today I’ll be good to go at any hour.

  3. Aaron Martin says:

    You have a generator hub right? Depending on the head lamp they usually will also support a tail lamp. Generator hubs are so great, it beats the heck out of changing batteries or worrying about charging lights. Let me know if you have any questions about lighting your bike, I have seen some pretty interesting rigs.

    As for gnats…there is nothing you can do to avoid them, so just think of them as a good protein snack..

  4. erin says:

    I would love ideas about lighting the bike, Aaron!

  5. Aaron Martin says:

    You asked for it!

    First there are two kinds of lighting….lights to see and lights to be seen. While not mutually exclusive it is an important distinction. The biggest area of concern on a bike is, from the side, this is where something like BikeGlow (http://www.rei.com/product/825884/bikeglow-safety-light) comes in handy. Couple words of warning in some places it is illegal to have blue lights as they are only used on emergency vehicles so look at your local ordnance for light color. Also I usually have a couple “blinkies” (http://www.rei.com/product/756356/planet-bike-blinky-7-rear-bike-light) that I clip to the sides of my backpack/bag so people see me. Another area that is great for lights is the helmet. It is unmistakable seeing some a light floating there moving about as a persons head would move. For that you can get something like this (http://www.zebralight.com/) which clips on your helmet…this is more of a “be seen” light. I also put a red blinky on my helmet. I should point out too there are some undocumented rules that I think are pretty sound.

    – Get your front light out of ‘blink’ mode – it’s harder for oncoming traffic to understand where you are and where you’re going

    – Turn down retina burners – bright lights shining in the eyes of oncoming traffic make traffic more aware, but less able to take appropriate action. This is double true for Bike Path riding, where the oncoming traffic is very close to you. Tripple true if the path is not illuminated.

    – Make your light ‘aimable’ (or at least dimmable) – it is common curtosy to cover your light with your hand when there is an approching cyclist on a trail so you don’t blind them.

    – If you need light to see the road by, make sure you’re shining it on the road. A nice, bright light on your bars or forks which is angled down onto the road (even better if it has good beam structure) is fine. The same light shining parallel to the road qualifies as a ‘retina burner’.

    The headlamp I use is Lumotec IQ Fly Senso Plus which produces a nice square beam of focused light. The taillamp plugs into it and is a DToplight XS Plus. Here is a page about dynomo powered taillights http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/taillights.asp

    One last thing weather up here is pretty awful with the rain and as a result battery powered lights usually die pretty quickly so I use them only in “be seen” situations where if they die no biggy. You probably won’t have this issue so there are some pretty good battery lights out there (bike glow, for example) that you can probably get away with.

  6. erin says:

    Excellent! That Bike Glow product is exactly what I’m talking about and a helmet light is a grand idea. I got two frog lights today, one in white and one in red. I learned that cyclists are susceptible to a $80 ticket here in Denver if they use a white light on the rear of their bicycles. The hard rule is white in the front, red in the back. It doesn’t really roll off the tongue like red right returning, but I won’t forget it. That page about dynomo powered taillights is also a keeper. Can’t thank you enough.

    Tell me more about biking in the rain? I failed on that mission this evening.

  7. Aaron Martin says:

    Most important thing about biking in the rain is get some fenders. They keep you dry and your drivetrain cleaner. They should be full length and optionally you can add a “buddy flap” on the bottom for more coverage. Let me know if you need some brand ideas. Aside from that you can try to stay dry but it is hard. I found where I was most uncomforabale being wet and tackled fixing that problem. Then moved to another area. The biggest issue with wet is getting cold so address areas that get cold eaisly first like hands, and feet. I wouldn’t go crazy getting rain gear in CO. Typically there you get a monsoon type rain that you can wait out for 20 minutes rather and that even the best rain gear won’t protect you from. Out here we get months of drizzly rain that dosn’t amount to much during the two hours or so you are in it but it adds up day after day and gets hard to dry out. If I were you I would focus on the cold.

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