Nice Bike Rack

Nancy and I have a Thule hitch rack that we have used for about three years. It is a very good 1 1/4-inch hitch rack where the bikes hang from a top cradle. This works great with a regular bike but is a complete pain-in-the-ass with Nancy’s mixte frames. You need to get a bar that attaches to the stem and the seat post to hang the bike from. It works but I was consistently underwhelmed by the solution.

Swagman Semi 2

So I began the typical search for a new rack. There was a review on RKP for the Swagman Semi 2 rack that holds two bikes from the bottom. I found said rack on eTrailer. The rack came quickly — about a week and was a snap to assemble. This rack is amazing. It is a breeze to fold up, fold down, put a bike of any type on or off the rack. This rack is a major keeper. I could not recommend this rack more. If you have different kinds of bikes, this is your rack. 

There is one lever to fold the rack up close — but not too close — to the car. You can easily open my Impreza hatch with the rack folded. It takes me longer to get the bikes to the car than it does to put them on. Seriously. You can even tilt the rack with bikes further away from the car with the same lever.

Putting the bikes on the rack is a simple as putting the bike into the two well-made ‘slots’ to hold each wheel and bring down a bar that holds the front end of the bike stable. Then you strap in the rear wheel like you do on a roof rack. Viola! You are done and ready to roll to your ride.

The rack is very well made with solid welds that are nicely done. Unlike the Thule, I have not had to use a rubber mallet to get the damn rack into or out of the car hitch.

eTrailer

This was my first experience with eTrailer and I could not say enough positive things about them! They were great to work with. They have excellent videos on assembly and mounting. They have excellent videos showing the rack on different types of cars. They will be the place I go in the future to get another rack in a decade when I need another one. Everything about the experience including a follow-up email from a person asking how the experience was.

Conclusion

It is not often that I have not one but two very positive reviews in one post. However, this one breaks all the rules. eTrailer was an awesome company selling an awesome product!

The Wait

Back in December, Nancy and I went up to Bilenky Bikes. It was a great trip and they are great guys. Since then we have exchanged a couple of emails and phone calls and we received drawings of the bikes and specs/final pricing. This part was wrapped up by mid-February. Then came the hardest part, waiting… We are in line with the rest of Bilenky’s customers waiting our turn in the line to come up. Currently, we believe we should have our bikes by 22 May at the latest. This means we are under 30 days. Torches should be getting fired up soon for our bikes. I cannot wait to see them.

A Bit of the Hair of the Dog

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On John’s recommendation I took my aching body out for a short, easy ride this afternoon.  The idea being that would help work out some of the pain discomfort induced by yesterday’s longer ride.

And a what a gorgeous spring day it was. To my surprise, I had fun. And it only hurt a little. I got to see this flourishing tree (above). And (below) one of my favorite houses.

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End of Year Review – 2014

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:

It’s The Worst Thing In The World…

“It’s a $500 fine for a motorist to hit a bicyclist in the District, but some behaviors are so egregious that some drivers might think it’s worth paying the fine.” So opines Washington Post editorial writer Courtland Milloy. And the Post, fine newspaper that it is, prints this hate-mongering crap and calls it journalism.

Check out Chasing Mailbox’s to-the-point comments in response. Also scroll through the comments for a link to Bike Snob NY’s well-written thoughts.

To be a driver behind a cyclist.

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Today is a bike tour rest day for Felkerino and me, and it coincided perfectly with an op-ed blowup in the Washington Post, which I am disappointed to admit is also my local paper.

Sadly, I’m sort of used to anti-cyclist, get off my road articles. However, my heart jumped when the writer of this particular piece stated that he could see why drivers would be willing to pay a fine of $500 to hit cyclists. Thanks, Washington Post. Thanks a lot.

It is terrifying to read a writer– in the Post, no less– who suggests that deliberately striking a cyclist in an act of vigilante justice or whatever reason is understandable, if not okay. It is not. This is people’s lives we are talking about here. My life. I am crying in anger and fear as I write this.

I am not…

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Early 2014 Bike Review

Christ, it has been awhile since I have posted here. Work has been crazy and I have not bike commuted since before the Seagull Century in early October of last year. Also shockingly for me, I have not really bought much bike schwag this year. But I did buy some…

Brooks Cambium saddle

I have seen these at the Philly Bike Show. They looked interesting and they claimed waterproof. Since I live in Maryland where it has been known to rain more than say New Mexico, I was interested. I perpetually lose the damn Brooks saddle covers for the regular leather saddles like twice a year. While this is good for Velo-Orange and Rivendell, it sucks when I am awaiting my order.

So I bought a grey one this spring and put it on the Rambouillet. Comfortable, check. Attractive, check. Waterproof, check. FWIW, I got the grey one since blacks shorts apparently stain the tan ones and it does not look pretty. Nancy got the tan one so we will see…

What I Like

What I have learned is that this saddle is comfortable immediately (for me at least. your mileage may vary). I did find it a bit “grippy” when I first got it and was trying to slide back into the saddle. This faded in the first couple of rides though.

Waterproof.

Stylish though not a leather saddle.

Absorbs a lot of road vibrations.

What I did not like

Not a damn thing.

strong buy recommendation