You’ve been waiting for it, watching the Flickr group grow- and now it’s time to announce the talented winners of the Dark Days photo contest. There were some really great images submitted, and Tom from Bikejuju and I had a hard time selecting the winners we did. A huge thanks goes out to Bikeglow and Planet Bike in their support of this contest- lights are always perfect prizes!
The winner of the Planet Bike winter commuter package
Selected by the staff at Planet Bike: Mark Magnussun. For his photo Düsseldorf Winter Landscape Mark wins a set of Cascadia fenders, a mini pump, a Blaze 2W or Blaze Dynamo headlight, a SuperFlash rear light, and a saddle bag with tire levers and patch kit. Great job Mark!
Best Overall Image
As I said before, picking our favorites was very difficult. There was such a diverse bunch to pull from, and photos by people from many cycling camps were submitted.
Though we couldn’t agree on our one favorite overall- we both felt that Tim Kainu did a great job with all the photos he submitted. Tim will ride away with a nice prize package worth over $100 – a Bikeglow unit, a Planet Bike Blaze 2 watt LED headlight, and a Planet Bike Superflash Stealth rear blinkie light.
Best Northwest Image
Robin (Ray Tracing) is a talented individual all around. He is a great writer, and his photography is splendid. He did a great job on all of his photos, and we chose this one of the lovely Caroline with Seattle’s downtown as a backdrop. Robin will also take home a full prize package – a Bikeglow unit, a Planet Bike Blaze 2 watt LED headlight, and a Planet Bike Superflash Stealth rear blinkie light.
Most Creative image
This one was difficult. Being the Dark Days photo contest, lights became a brush for some, and a canvas for others. After some discussion, Tom and I decided that one of the earlier entries, by Twin Cities Brightest should be awarded a Bikeglow unit, a Planet Bike Blaze 2 watt LED headlight, and a Planet Bike Superflash Stealth rear blinkie light. It still blows my mind a little when I look at it.
Thanks to the fine sponsors, we had more lights than those awarded to the winners listed above. Here are a few more of our favorites, which will go home with stuff as well, so you should get in touch with us!
Thanks again to everyone who participated! Your photos are all amazing.
Winners: Tom is trying to reach you, but if you see this first, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address (US or Canada only.)
If you are Tim, Ray or TCB, state your order of preference for a blue, red or white Bikeglow unit, and for a black or white Planet Bike Blaze. First folks to express a preference will get priority, and we’ll give up on contacting all winners by late January and give any leftover prizes away in future contests.
Saw it on Urban Velo
Wednesday 12/13/09 brought Emerald Sprints to Brouwer’s Cafe through the help of Cazadores Tequila. It was “Heavy Metal Tequila Sprint” time, and people showed up ready to spin their legs to some melt your face of music.
A successful event, we had quite a few people show up for the later start time of 10pm. The first round, a qualifier, was a race of 400 meters against the clock:
- Patrick M 18.40
- Craig E 18.91
- Nat P 18.95
- Drew 18.98
- Brian M 19.22
- Trevor H 19.84
- Nick Krysinski 19.88
- Sally 19.92
- Andre R 20.05
- Eric S 20.18
- Mike B 20.25
- Charlie C 20.48
- Aaron D 20.58
- Stephen T 20.63
- Matt S 20.67
- Dan M 20.74
- Kenshi K 20.86
- Benny B 20.87
- Brian P 20.91
- Forrest T 20.92
- Sean M 21.03
- Doug H 21.46
- Clay D 22.78
- Edward M 22.81
- Ari S 22.98
- Jamie S 23.22
- Alex W 23.40
- Alex C 23.67
- Monica G 23.70
- Angelina C 24.70
- Cameron E 25.24
- Nick Klinke 25.28
- Professor Dave 25.32
- Dave G 25.68
- Caroline M 26.25
- Dennis L 29.98
In the second round, the top 8 times (those that were present)advanced. Head to Head- 400 meters.
- Patrick M 18.40 vs Craig E 18.91
- Drew 56.34 vs Sally 28.93 (don’t ask about the times…)
- Brian M 19.22 vs Andre R 20.05
- Nat P 18.95 vs Trevor H 19.84
The semi-finals brought the top 4 times up to bat. Head to Head- 400 meter single elimination.
Sally 20.18 vs. Patrick M 18.71
Brian M 19.45 vs Nat P 18.72
The final round was hot- 400 meters of pure spinning:
Sally 20.34 vs Brian M 20.94 (race for 3rd place)
Patrick M 18.97 vs Nat P 19.33
Ari S 22.63 vs Monica G 23.32
The final standings were as follows:
1st place– Patrick M
2nd place– Nat P
3rd place– Sally
4th place– Brian M
1st lady– Ari S
2nd lady– Monica G
A big thanks to the sponsors- Wright Brothers brought out 4 sets of cranks, anodized in such festive colors. Thanks to Beyond Clothing, and Raleigh Bicycles as well.
Also thanks to Cazadores Tequila and New Belgium Brewing for the drink specials and all around support of the bicycle community. Brouwer’s Cafe loves bikes, and they love to see their bike racks in front of the building full to the brim. Show some support to them as well.
Charlie C took some great pictures that you can see on his FLICKR
You may remember the Women’s Core Whore race that took place during the West Side Invite. Niki is bringing it once again, this time for the dudes. Being a Core Whore is something that depends greatly on what is between your legs- your bike.
Meet up at Mobius and get ready to run through the stops- stacking cash and talking trash. You can find more out at the Mobius BLOG. After party to be at Mobius. There will apparently be champagne.
$5 for Messengers, $10 for Civia’s Civilians.
I have planned many epic bike tours in my head. Whether it’s riding down the Pacific Coast from Vancouver to Baja, riding across the US, a tour of Italy, or a ride across Europe, I’ve romanticized the freedom enjoyed during a lengthy bike tour. In reality, I have very little touring experience. It’s limited to trips of a couple days in length- on the coast of California- and can better be described as “bike-camping” than “bike-touring.”
Don’t get me wrong, I have traveled a lot, and I’ve traveled WITH my bike, riding in many of this nation’s fine cities. I just haven’t traveled ON my bike much. I will. One day. My old ride was a Cannondale touring bike, which was fully dressed with racks, bags, fenders; built for the road. I used the bike for work and it was a great urban bike. Eventually it became time to upgrade- the wheels and drivetrain needed to be replaced, but it cost more than I had, or could spend. I gave the bike to a friend, and downgraded to a bike given to me: A spray painted camouflage Huffy- totally chopped and screwed. No shifters- the rear derailleur was fixed into place, and acted as a chain tensioner. Changing the gears on the chainring was possible however; through a simple, though slightly dangerous procedure. While pedaling, you could reach down and grab the chain, lifting it onto the chainring of your choice. No big deal. I called the bike “Two Speeds of Trouble”, or “Trouble” for short. While riding my new steed, I oft thought back to a sticker that I had on an old Stumpjumper that read- “I’d rather push my bike than ride a Huffy.” Well- there I was, trying to think of new slogans- “Huffys are for Toughies” or “I’d rather ride a Huffy, than walk.” I liked that old bike. I think that riding a bike like that helped expand my love for all things two wheeled. I rode that bike because if I don’t have a bike in my life, I’m just not that happy. It’s a habit that I don’t want to kick.
Bike touring is often thought of as something for elite people. You “need” to have a modern touring specific bike- with a 27+ gears and disk or cantilever brakes. You “need” to have new gear- ultra light sleeping bag, tent, shoes, computer, all the bells and whistles straight out of an REI catalog.
The fact is that there is a human element to bike touring that is often overlooked. The engine. You can ride anything you want on a bike tour- heck- I want to read about a mini-bike tour. The only thing likely to change if you choose a set up that is not optimal, is the speed you will travel, and the distance traveled per day. If you have the time- then you can make anything work.
Back in the “old days” I sometimes think that people were tougher. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the people that ate boot leather when times got tough were definitely of a different mind, if not body, than those of us that eat Top Ramen when times are tough. There was a time when riding a bike was done on hard rubber tires. When a one speed was all you needed, and you didn’t need brakes, well, because they acted as more of a hazard than a help. Before synthetic wicking fabrics and padded cycling shorts. Before clipless pedals and gps units. There was a time when all you needed to cross the country was a bike, a pistol, and maybe an introduction letter from an official stating that you were an upstanding citizen, and that you should be treated with respect.
To get a taste of times like this- pick up “Around the World on a Bicycle” by Thomas Stevens. The original two volume work was published in 1887 in both the US and the UK and contained nearly 1,000 pages of text. I borrowed a 1984 abridged version from the local library- which is in the Seattle Library system- or you can find a copy online, in the abridged, or two volume set (be prepared to pay a pretty penny for an old copy of the two volume)
“The first essential element of success is to have sufficient confidence iin one’s self to brave the criticisms–of a skeptical public.
So eight o’clock on the morning of April 22, 1884, finds me and my fifty-inch machine on the Oakland pier”
With that, Thomas Stevens started east; riding his newly acquired black Columbia 50-inch Standard High Wheeler- and carrying with him in his handlebar bag: socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that also acted as a tent and bedroll, and a .38 Smith and Wesson pistol. He met up and was welcomed by many cycling clubs that were popping up in cities everywhere. He also had to protect himself from mountain a mountain lion, dodge a wild horse stampede, and travel over very poor roads (you won’t complain about Georgetown pot holes when you think of Stevens crossing the Sierras in the spring with paved roads not invented yet.) He arrived in Boston on August 4th, 1884. In that, he stopped for 20 days along the way and rode 83-1/2 days, traveling a total distance of 3700 miles and completing the first transcontinental journey by bicycle. That however, was only the beginning.
He then went on to travel through more countries than you can count on both hands, and was met with varying degrees of hospitality including spending the winter in Teheran, Iran- as a guest of the Shah, and having to be hidden while in China, as rioters were unhappy because of a war with the French, and he was the closest around that resembled their enemy.
The bicycle portion of the book ends on December 17th 1886 (123 years ago), with, by Steven’s account, totaled 13,500 miles.
Reading the abridged version was a little difficult at times, it jumps around quite a bit- which I guess is fairly necessary in anything that goes from 1,000 pages down to less than 150. My favorite part of the edition that I read was the artwork. The original engravings by W.C. Rogers and others were reproduced to the exact size and included as they did in the original work. One of my current favorite images of all time right now is the one of Thomas Stevens hiding behind his 50″ wheel, taking aim at a mountain lion with his little snub nosed .38 pistol. I can just imagine: “Yeah so I was just riding along and this damn mountain lion came up and was going eat me, so I just pulled out my gat and popped a round off, scaring that little bastard away. Yeah, it was no big deal. So I got back on my bike and kept riding” So gangster.
If you are a fan of travel, old-timey illustration, or history, you’ll likely enjoy this book. Times were different then, but he still has a hard time in Afghanistan (he gets kicked out) and he gets charged twice as much when traveling the railroads because he has a bicycle (non-bike packages of the same size are not double charged- some things never change) Many areas that Stevens traveled in were home to people that had never seen a bicycle. What a trip that would be! He does at times use porters and “coolies” to transport his bike over some mountain passes and rivers, and he looks down on these people as lesser, it feels a bit classist in this regard. In this, you can definitely feel that it was written over 120 years ago.
All in all, it was well worth the read, and you should check it out- taste a little history. I’ll now be adding a Penny Farthing Tour to my list of epic tours.
You’ve only got a few days before Santa Claus comes to town. If you were good, you’ll have some nice gifts under the tree. For the rest of us, we’re on our own. Gift giving is common this type of year, many religions succumbing to “Black Friday” sales, and the all consuming power of things shiny and new.
Of course gifts made at home with heart and thought are wonderful- but who has time for that? Go out and spend that money honey.
Buying a gift for the cyclist in your life can be difficult. We are over run with products that range in price, quality, and visual appeal. Of course, you need to know a bit about the person you are buying for, at least what type of bike they ride. Really, you can probably tell more about a person by the bike they ride than by the clothes they wear. This being said, there is a lot of personal preference in cycling gear. some people like things a certain way. Wool knickers, though a great gift for someone, may sit in another’s closet unused for years.
Books- There are so many bike books out there. You probably can’t go wrong with a coffee table book, of which there are many. For the Campagnolo fan in your life (who doesn’t like Campy?) you have Campagnolo: 75 Years of Cycling Passion ($26.37 from Amazon) The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles ($31.50 from Amazon) There are books on maintenance, travel, racing, fiction, poetry, you’ve got about everything. I’d recommend A Dog in a Hat, by Joe Parkin. I read it recently, and thought is was great. Another is Roadie, by Jamie Smith.
Lights- You can’t have enough lights. A full set for each bike is just dandy. Headlamps working in conjunction with bar mounted lights is super legit. It’s ok to have extra “loaner” lights. It’s the winter time people. If you love some one, then make sure other people can see them. I like the Super flash rear tail light by Planet Bike. Even little Knog lights are a good gift. I think it’s a good idea to have at least something in your bag to be seen, in case you forgot to charge your big light.
Calendars- The holiday season is a great time to get a calendar. Bike calendars are nice, well, because bikes are nice. Roll from one year to the next with something that will keep you inspired, or make you smile, or scare your houseguests.
Bags- Most bike people like bike bags. I only have one bag right now, and I wouldn’t mind more. I like them. Some people are fanatical about them. Different sizes, shapes, carrying systems… There is something for everyone. Store bought messenger bags vary in quality dramatically. I used to messenger with a Timbuktu bag over 10 years ago, but I wouldn’t dream of it today. They seem to have followed the casual market- those in school, or using it for work. I feel the quality has gone down substantially.
If you want to support smaller companies, get in touch with Cory, and have him make you a DANK Bag. I’ve got the big one strap bag, and love it. He’s got some time now, so contact him at email@example.com. Made in Seattle. And for the right price he may make you one of THESE.
Seagull Bags is in Ohio, and they do great custom work. Freight Baggage is in SF, and have a full range of available products. A tip: Buy your bag from a messenger. Not only does it support small local business, it means that the bag actually works. It’s built the way it’s built for a reason.
Many bag makers also do hip pouches, cell phone/radio holsters, tool bags, beer coozies, etc. If they have a bag, or you want something that costs a little less, then get them an accessory for their bag.
Another option are handlebar bags, rack bags, or panniers. Of course my favorite; makers of solid panniers as well as the amazing Pelican Porteur rack bag and all around great people- are Martina and Jason at Swift Industries. If you know someone with a Cetma 5 rail rack (or similar rack-they’ll customize to order), then get them the Pelican Porteur, they’ll love you for it. They’ve got their “Gifted 2009 package” available that they worked with Partybots on.
Hats- Cycling caps are everywhere. Available with commercial branding printed all over, or handmade locally, sometimes to order. In Seattle, you should look out for McKenzie at 5B and Rachel at Rabbit Lion, both delivering great products, with stock on hand and customs available to order.
Massage- Cyclists work hard. Take care of their bodies with a massage. If you go looking for a massage, you should look for those that work with athletes. You should also make sure they are listed as a “Massage Studio” as opposed to a “Massage Parlor” unless you are looking for a happy ending to thier story….
Warmers- Arm, leg or knee warmers- in natural and synthetic, are very good to have in your bag. Having an extra pair around isn’t too bad either.
Helmet- Helmets are personal- and people should buy what they like. At the same time, if the person you are shopping for doesn’t wear a helmet- get them one. Take them to the shop and make sure they walk out with one. It’s the smart thing to do. They will range in price from around $35 to well over $200. Safety is about the same on all helmets nowadays- what you are paying for is vents, style, and comfort. Peoples heads are made different. If it isn’t comfortable and doesn’t look good, then chances are it won’t be worn. Take that into account. Also keep in mind that though they offer protection, “hard-hats” are not the same as “helmets”. You can see more info on helmet certification HERE.
Socks- You can never have enough socks. Winter socks, summer socks- it’s good to have extra.
Things like saddles, cycling shorts, clothing in general, and tires are generally difficult to shops for- people like what they like, and the saddle that you ride may feel like a 2×4 chunk of wood to another.
When I started writing this post, I expected ideas to roll off the fingers. Now they are coming out sluggishly. What gifts do you like receiving as a cyclist? What is hard for people to mess up as a gift for a cyclist?
Other good choices: