While has been a slow year for biking, biking gear, and biking adventures 2014 has been a wonderful and interesting year. Much has happened this year, Nancy and I got married, I lost a job that I had been at for 19 years, I got a new job that started a week after the wedding, and I had my first summer off since 1977. But, no bike vacations. No century rides. So with that:
- Epic ride of the year was the Three Mountain Inn Half Century (link) – this was a 50-mile “All Roads” type ride with lots of climbing, beautiful views, dirt roads, and some lovely little towns. This has spurred us to begin thinking about bike riding that is not just paved roads but having spirited bikes that could handle less-optimum roads also. That should be a fun process into the new year!
- Best new product – Brooks Cambium saddle (link)- Incredibly comfortable with no break-in period, great road vibration absorption, and waterproof. If any of these apply to you this could be your saddle:
- You are a Brooks fan but like me keep losing those little rain covers for your saddle.
- You ride the Bon Ton Roulet or other rides where it rains for days on end.
Then this is the Brooks saddle for you. I think I like the Bethoud leather saddle a bit more. Both the Cambium and the Berthoud are excellent saddles if you like the Brooks/Bethoud experience.
- Honorable mention – Rapha lightweight bib shorts (link)- These are the most comfortable bike shorts that I own. They are lightweight (pretty good name then eh?) with great compression. I have used them on long rides (50 + miles) with no issues. I have washed them for a summer without any wear or issues. The interwebs seem very divided on Rapha. You either love them or hate them. I fall into the first category. I have ridden centuries in the Rapha bibs and have been extremely comfortable but like saddles this is a highly personal experience. Comfort at mile 80 is almost priceless…
- Second summer update – Garmin 810. If the price does not scare you off, this is truly an amazing GPS unit. I cannot say enough great things about it. It syncs with the iPhone easily. It syncs with the Mac desktop in a reasonably non-sucky way. Garmin Connect is very nice. Importing maps from Ride with GPS or Map My Ride is straightforward. You can have it notify you via turn-by-turn or visually with a live map. They are both pretty user friendly.
- Whelmed mention – gloves. I bought a new pair of summer Endura Aerogel gloves (link). They are very comfortable. My biggest gripe is the front pads are covered in a goofy plastic mesh. I tend to wipe (blow whatever) my nose with the fronts of my gloves rather than the backs and uh stuff gets caught in the damn mesh. I am not sure what they were thinking with that idea. Or me for that matter since I have always used the fronts of my gloves for that…
Companies that I still love using their products:
- Swift Industries – best damn bags made in America
- Rothera cycling hats – best damn hats made in America (Well Texas that is almost like America)
- Skratch labs
- Light and Motion lights – Best damn lights and pretty sure they are made in America
- Compass tires – great tires! Made in Japan.
- Baltimore Bike Works – Best bike shop in Baltimore.