Sat, 25 Apr 2020 23:51:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Getting back on the saddle after a long break in 1 week Sat, 25 Apr 2020 23:47:24 +0000

Guest Post By Alex Bristol

Getting back on the saddle after a long break in 1 week

Sometimes in life, we just unexpectedly run into situations that put things on hold. Whether that is having to take time off work because of illness/ injury or being stuck indoors because of the latest pandemic, we all find ourselves not being able to jump on the saddle as much as we’d like to. 

Luckily, pushing those pedals is almost hardwired into our minds once we’ve learned how to ride properly. It becomes a case of finding the right time, the right motivation and the right mindset to start cycling again. 

Unfortunately, as easy as it seems to jump back on the saddle, there are a ton of factors that you need to work on before it’s ‘go-time’. 

We’ve created a 7-day criteria for you to follow that allows you to transition from sitting on the couch to racking up the cycle-miles. 

Let’s jump into getting you back on the saddle after a long break.

Day 1 – Mentally preparing. 

As with anything, planning starts with the mind. It is an important cognitive skill that allows you to mentally anticipate ways to execute tasks. Preparing yourself mentally lets you decide the following points to pull together our effective plan. 

Thinking of your routine will help put everything in motion. What do you wear on a ride? Do you have a particular water bottle? What route are you taking? These questions need to be answered before you jump back in the deep end. 

Day 2 – Set a date on the calendar.

As they say: Fail to plan, plan to fail. 

We’re creatures of habit. We’re too quick to put things off when it comes down to starting, especially when you’re used to not excising. If you’ve been on isolation because of coronavirus, then it becomes pretty easy to slip back into the realms of procrastination. 

The decision to start cycling comes down to how much we value completing that task in the moment. I don’t know about you, but with the new release of Disney +, it’s far too easy for me to binge-watch Marvel films back to back than jumping on my road bike. 

Now grab that marker pen, head over to the calendar and circle a day at least 3 days from now. This is when you’re going to take the steps to jump back on your bike for a ride. And yes… you’re sticking to the date.

Day 3 – Get your cycle wear ready.

Shorts? Check. Helmet? Check. Shoes? Check. 

Depending on how long it’s been, you may find that getting your gear back together for the big reunion is a daunting task. Set aside a whole day to layout everything you need. Make sure any clothes are washed and set to go. Here is a quick checklist for everything you need on a bike ride

• Helmet

• Sunglasses

• Padded shorts or tights 

• Cycling gloves 

• Jersey or top 

• Shoes

• Under seat bag

• Bike lock 

• Energy Bar

• Watch or GPS

• First aid kit

• Cell phone

• Money

Keep this all aside to make for easy access when you arrive at ride day. 

Day 4 – Prep your bike.

Remember, your bike has been sitting for a while and it’s crucial to ensure everything is functioning properly to prevent damage to your bike or yourself. Depending on how long it’s been, your bike may need some maintenance to get it back in working order. Regardless of the time, it’s best to give it a quick service. Start by giving the bike a clean to remove any residue. This can then iron out any faults you find as you’re washing the components down. Move onto checking the wheels and tires to ensure everything is in order. 

It’s worth paying particular attention to the brake pads. If there is any decontamination the best way to fix this is by simply replacing them. There are a ton of fixes online that suggest burning the contaminates off can be a good idea, but damaging the pads can cause safety issues when riding. Don’t be a Dangerous Dan and ensure you find the best brake pads for your road bike before you even think about stepping foot outside with your bike.

Finally, lube up the drive chain and clean off any excess dirt and you’ve carried out the basic service required to get your bike back in the road. Remember to be mindful of overspray making its way onto the rims and brake pads as this can create stopping problems when you first start off on your bike. 

Day 5 – Take it slow and take out your bike.

Today we ride. Now, it may be an urge to cycle your favorite route but, let’s face it, you may not be as in shape as you were before being a regular cyclist. Muscles will fade away with a lack of exercise and riding your bike is no different. When muscles haven’t been used for an intense workout they will fatigue faster and there is nothing worse than being 20 kilometers from home with a calf that keeps cramping. 

It’s imperative to work up towards the distances you were traveling before. A short ride will get you back in the rhythm and will be the first step to getting back to your old ways. 

Not only does the distance help build your muscle memory back to where it once was, but there’s a load of elements you will need to sharpen up on. By incorporating a short ride into the process of getting back on the saddle it allows you to familiarize yourself with the dangers of the road. Cyclists are at a higher risk than any other vehicle on the road due to the vulnerabilities when being on a bike. This means that we need to keep our wits about us at all times. 

Our awareness can slip when we’ve taken time off, which is a crucial factor to consider. It can take a split second of losing concentration to cause an accident so, allowing ourselves to build a level of concentration over extended periods can take a while to build back. 

Exhaustion is when accidents can happen, so gradually increasing your cycling time should be the aim of the game when getting back on the road.

Day 6 – Treat yourself to something new.

Well, you’ve made it. The first step of getting back on your bike has been completed and now, it’s time to reward yourself. You want to keep the motivation up and I’m sure I don’t need to mention it twice, but as a pat on the back from yourself, it’s worth committing to those cycling shoes or helmet you’ve wanted for quite some time. Buying something keeps you in the swing of going out on a ride. This brilliant post on Buffer says “It’s been thought before that novelty was a reward in itself, but, like dopamine, it seems to be more related to motivation”. 

So, even if you haven’t got something you need right now, checking out the latest cycling gear might be a good idea to help you decide on what to buy. 

Day 7 – Join a group ride.

Getting the motivation to go out on your own make take some time, but cycling with a group is one of the top ways to put everything back into practice. Groups allow you to work together to get a pace that feels right 

Cycling amongst other riders can keep your focus and allow you to increase your game by pushing yourself to keep with others. The best part, should the worse happen, you’re in good hands and not left on your own. 

Riding with others can teach you a thing or two. Whether it’s learning how to corner or keeping your pace inline with the others, group riding is a must when it comes down to learning the ropes again. 

Wrapping up

From here on out, you have enough to keep the momentum going. The basis of getting back outside is focused around the planning and hopefully, this can get you back into the mindset of bringing back your inner cyclist. 

To summarise, getting back on the road takes time to get back up to the standard you were at. As a precaution, you will need to ease yourself back. This can prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and a lack of awareness and planning in your first ride. 

About the Author

Alex Bristol

Alex is a cycle expert at Pedallers and focuses on reviewing road bike accessories and general cycling. She searches for the most up to date products that matches the needs of cyclists across the world. Whether it’s recent news or the best bike set-ups, Alex is a trusted source for anything around cycling.

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VeloReviews has moved! Mon, 18 Mar 2019 20:50:09 +0000 has now moved to Same great industry and sport news updates, now with a new name.

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Review: Cache Lifestyle Backpack by Lizard Skins Thu, 17 May 2018 15:58:03 +0000
Cache Lifestyle Backpack by Lizard Skins
Cache Lifestyle Backpack by Lizard Skins

Lizard Skins introduced a new backpack in September of 2017 – the Cache Lifestyle Backpack. This bag combines all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a modern commuter or all-around backpack into a remarkably usable product. If you are looking for a new backpack for daily use, this is well worth considering.

We like to use the Ortlieb Velocity as our standard benchmark for waterproof commuter and day bags. At $109.99 the Cache Lifestyle Backpack is right at our benchmark price point, but offers a lot more functionality.


One of the first features I noticed was the ample webbing on the face of the pack. This provides a convenient anchor point for anything you might imagine hanging off your back on a carabiner. It provides a great spot – in addition to the smaller band at the bottom – to clip on a tail light. Also, happily, it seems to just fit a Kryptonite lock, securely holding it in place without annoying swinging about as you pedal.

Cache Lifestyle Backpack
Cache Lifestyle Backpack by Lizard Skins

The Cache Lifestyle Backpack also beats the Velocity on interior functionality. A padded interior pocket provides the perfect spot for you laptop or tablet. An exterior side zipper allows easy access to this space, in addition to access from the top.

The laptop sleeve is located up against the wearer’s back. This is always a compromise that frankly I’ve never decided which way I want to go. Placing the laptop sleeve against the rider’s back allows for rounding and bulging of the rear of the bag. This facilitates cramming more stuff in than you could if the laptop sleeve was on the rear of the pack. However, this also means that all the weight in the bag rests on the laptop or tablet when you are in a road-bike like position. This can be problematic for tablets especially. Finally, this can also mean a lot of tension on the laptop or tablet if you are someone that likes the shoulder straps to be firm and your pack snug against your back.

However, the only backpack I’ve ever ridden that put the laptop on the back side of the pack was purpose built for camera equipment. You just have to be cautious not to combine a laptop with a particularly heavy load.

In addition to the padded laptop sleeve, there are stretchable neoprene side pockets on both sides, and a full width pocket on the bottom rear including pen holders and smaller pockets. However, I found this particular pocket resulted in broken pencils and bent pens if I put any real weight in the pack.

Straps and Comfort

The shoulder straps are well padded and comfortable. I initially noticed the lack of waist strap. This would normally be a big mark in the negative column for me. However, the shape and padding of the straps made it so I didn’t miss the waist strap at all, even with a reasonably heavy load in the pack. The sternum / chest strap does the job of keeping the shoulder straps in place should you need that. In addition, the shoulder straps have the usual compliment of hooks and slots to clip / hang / carabiner to your heart’s content.

Comfort is very much a personal thing. But for me, I found this pack slightly more comfortable than the Ortileb I’m comparing it to.

Latches and Zippers

Both the sternum strap and roll top closure strap on the Cache Lifestyle Backpack are magnetic. For the sternum strap, the magnet works to snap the two halves together, with latch points doing the actual load bearing. The roll top has an angled sliding mechanism that also uses a magnet to help snap it closed. This mechanism was initially confusing, but it became second nature after just a couple of uses.

All the zippers are easy to use and felt sturdy. But, easy to use has its downsides…

Water resistance

This pack is a bit unique in that it has both a roll top AND zippered top. Roll tops are obviously superior for water resistance. The addition of the zipper, however, actually adds to the functionality of the bag. It allows you to overstuff the bag past the point of being able to roll the top down in fair weather conditions. But, you can still zip the top and keep your goods in the bag when you are down in the drops. I’ve actually had things fall out while trying to do the same thing with the Ortlieb bags.

This bag has a handicap in the water resistance category due to the zippers. Zippers ride a balance between being incredibly water resistant, but hard to use, or easy and leaky. This is just the nature of zippers. The Ortlieb addressed this problem by avoiding zippers entirely. Which also means there are no pockets.

In our very scientific “squirt the hell out of it with a garden hose” test, there was water seepage through the zipper in a couple of places. It was not a lot, but enough that there was potential damage to electronics. Keep in mind however, this test represents the worst case scenario. Based on this, and the real-world usage, I would feel comfortable hauling my computer in this bag in normal rain. However, for a multi-day, all weather excursion I’d probably lean towards the Ortlieb.


I really like this bag. I find it to be extremely comfortable and functional. It performs beautiful for both daily commuting, or weekend picnic rides with the family. I haven’t had enough time with it to really address durability issues, but I’ll update this article after a few more months with the bag.

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What is a cycling journalist to do? Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:49:28 +0000

A Scene from the movie The Program
Scene from “The Program.” Armstrong and Landis in hotel room.

I miss bike races. I miss watching them. I miss following them. I miss enjoying them without needing to be cynical constantly. But mostly I miss the constant feed of interesting things to write about.

As a cycling journalist blogger hack, finding something interesting to write about on a regular basis is the food that feeds the soul. It is super easy to take the advocacy fear mongering path. One can find a steady stream of stupid comments from politicians, tales of death in the city streets, ridiculous public spending on things that are supposed to be “infrastructure.” Some can brave this stream and do the hard work of exposing these important issues. And some can do a damn good job of it. But it it as unfortunately negative view.

Bike industry news is another topic. But even that can be draining. How many times can I enthral you with yet another new product, reinventing yet another old product, by copying what an even older product already did?

But bike racing. The human drama. Battles to the finish line. Heartbreaking crashes. Overcoming incredible odds at the last minute. Ahhhhh….. that’s good stuff.

Except when it isn’t.

Despite all the lip service and ad dollars thrown at it, bike racing still has the dark cloud of doping mucking up all the fun. Stupid people doing stupid things, then trying to cover it up with stupid excuses.

I, for one, miss the times when I was either ignorant of all of the dark side stuff, or was still able to set it aside and enjoy the good. A grumpy old crumudgeon makes for a very poor cycling journalist.

Photo by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious

So to that end – time to pay less attention to the Tour Giro Vuelta. There are still interesting, positive, and fun cycling stories about bike racing. Go find your local crit. Connect with a local “just for the hell of it ride” and remind yourself that this whole bikey thing is fun. Sprint to the city limits sign with your local cycling club safe in the knowledge ignorance that the caffeine from the coffee shop where everyone met is the only PED to worry about. Admire new products not for their super-light-weigh uber-aero technology, but their beauty and art. Screw the rules – wear your wool cycling cap whenever you want. Go to a local CX race and be a non-abusive, yet commercially intoxicated, spectator. Don’t let the doping BS ruin it for everyone else.

Just… have fun.

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Why eliminating TUEs is wrong Mon, 19 Mar 2018 18:17:23 +0000

There is an old saying – don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Unfortunately, that is exactly what some are calling for in response to the abuse of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs). Namely, a total ban. While that reaction may seem like “common sense” to other racers that feel cheated by the abuse of TUEs in the pro peloton, it actually impacts others in an unintended way. In fact, there is one entire team that relies on valid, legitimate Therapeutic Use Exemptions to even compete. TUEs were made for a reason – and we must not let that reason be forgotten.

There is a need for TUEs and that is for someone to treat an illness or a
sickness. They are not intended and should never be used to improve

Phil Southerland. CEO and Co-Founder of Team Novo Nordisk

First – a little history

Almost all of the substances routinely (and illegally) used as performance enhancing drugs were designed to treat real medical conditions. As anti[doping controls covered more and more substances over the years, it was inevitable that would overlap with professional athletes using these substances for purely medical reasons – without the desire or intent to gain a competitive advantage.

Because of the desire to open the sport to as many legitimate athletes as possible, as well as help ensure the health of the athletes, a mechanism has been enacted to allow exceptions to standard doping rules for those that demonstrate a medical need and will not receive a performance gain from use.

Athletes may have illnesses or conditions that require them to take particular medications.

If the medication an athlete is required to take to treat an illness or condition happens to fall under the Prohibited List, a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) may give that athlete the authorization to take the needed medicine.

The purpose of the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ISTUE) is to ensure that the process of granting TUEs is harmonized across sports and countries.

World Anti-Doping Agency

There are, unfortunately, possibilities for abuse. And one can definitely understand the anger felt by clean athletes when TUEs are abused in events. A recent publication in the academic news outlet The Conversation even went as far as suggest that TUEs are harmful to athletes by masking symptoms when they should instead be recovering.

If an athlete is ill or in pain, they should rest. Drugs which mask a health problem in order to allow athletes to push themselves for the sake of sport could have an impact in the short and longer term.

Elite sport: time to scrap the therapeutic exemption system of banned medicines

However, this argument falls very much short by refusing to acknowledge that not all TUEs are simply about managing symptoms. The most glaring example of this is the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Diabetics are forced to take insulin – not only to compete, but to stay alive. In is not an optional medication, and it is not something that is used simply to mask symptoms. Instead, in is necessary to use via daily injections in order to replace a vital hormone that is absent in type 1 diabetics. And there just happens to be an entire pro cycling team rostered exclusively by type 1 diabetics.

Team Novo Nordisk

Team Novo Nordisk (formerly Team Type 1) was co-founded by Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge. The team has become an inspiration for athletes with diabetes world wide. And given that the team is made up entirely of athletes that live with diabetes, each and every one of them has to have a therapeutic use exemption to compete. Ban TUEs, and you ban an entire team.

Team Novo Nordisk is a global all-diabetes sports team of cyclists, triathletes and runners, spearheaded by the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team.

Comprised of nearly 100 athletes from over 20 countries, Team Novo Nordisk competes in more than 500 international events each year.

I had a chance to talk with Phil Southerland, as well as Team Novo Nordisk rider Sam Brand, about cycling with diabetes, TUEs, and their reactions to the call for the elimination of legitimate therapeutic use exemptions. Below are their words:

Phil Southerland – CEO and Co-Founder of Team Novo Nordisk

JustAnotherCyclist: Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) have been in the news quite a bit lately. While researching them for this story, I was somewhat surprised to learn that insulin itself is on the banned substances [list]. Does that mean that every athlete on Team Novo Nordisk has a TUE?

Phil Southerland: Yes, all riders at Team Novo Nordisk race with a TUE. Since the team’s inception in December 2012, we have always been very public and extremely proud that we race with type 1 diabetes. Additionally, we have always been open that we race with TUEs. WADA included the use of TUEs so that an athlete who has a legitimate medical condition can continue to compete. The UCI and the anti-doping organizations recognize that diabetes is a legitimate medical condition and grants all Team Novo Nordisk athletes TUEs to use insulin.

JAC: How many total athletes on Team Novo Nordisk have existing TUEs related to diabetes?

PS: As of January 1, 2018, 28 athletes on Team Novo Nordisk race with TUEs. There are16 riders on the men’s professional team, 11 riders on the development team and one professional female track cyclist, Mandy Marquardt.

JAC: What is the process for an athlete with a legitimate medical need – such as diabetes – to be able to compete while taking insulin?

PS: Our medical staff handles all TUEs, and the process with the UCI includes submitting medical records that show the date of diagnosis, place of diagnosis and the doctor who diagnosed the athlete. All this information is verified to show that our riders are racing with type 1 diabetes and need insulin injections to survive.

JAC: UCI rule 13.3.052 seems to imply that the injection of any substance via syringe in banned. However, the rule does specifically call out diabetes as an example of a permissible situation for athletes to self-inject. Is it a separate TUE for the insulin, and the administration method?

PS: There is an extensive process that we go through with the UCI to prove our riders’ need for insulin. It comes down to life or death for these athletes. The UCI grants all Team Novo Nordisk athletes long-term TUEs for insulin use. As an American-registered team, USADA serves as our anti-doping organization and recognizes and explicitly list on its website that athletes who are insulin-dependent (athletes with type 1 diabetes) are allowed to race under a TUE
while using insulin.

Currently, the only method for type 1 diabetics is subcutaneous injections. Our athletes are not choosing an injection over an alternative.

JAC: Have riders or team staff ever experienced any negative interactions from other riders or officials as a result of the possession and usage of insulin to treat diabetes during a race?

PS: Early on, we had people see the riders injecting at races and report it to officials. The officials are well versed in our situation and all our riders have documentation that they carry that proves their TUEs.

In general, we receive positive feedback from riders, organizers and officials. To be honest, seeing a rider inject typically opens up a conversation. People often use it as an opportunity to ask questions, which we always welcome.

JAC: What was your reaction when Froome’s test results turned out to be a
substance he had a TUE for?

PS: What concerns me about the Froome situation and anyone else using a TUE for marginal gains or to push the limits into the grey area is that it creates a huge negative perception around the sport and can damage the reputation of the athletes who have a vital need for long-term TUEs. There is a need for TUEs and that is for someone to treat an illness or a sickness. They are not intended and should never be used to improve performance.

We are happy to be a part of this conversation and want to set the record straight by showing the valid and positive side of TUE usage. We are proud and thankful that we have the opportunity to race with a TUE. It is a great concept, and one that we believe needs to be ethically respected. Thanks to TUEs, all Team Novo Nordisk athletes can inspire, educate and empower people around the world affected by diabetes.

Sam Brand – Rider, Team Novo Nordisk

JAC: Can you describe the experience the first time you had to acquire a TUE?

Sam Brand: First, let me thank you for taking the time to talk about TUEs and the valid side of the conversation. As a diabetic and even more so, an athlete for Team Novo Nordisk, I am passionate to speak about this topic and to try and further educate and raise awareness about diabetes.

My first experience acquiring a TUE took a long time. I moved up to Team Novo Nordisk’s professional team as a stagiaire mid-season, so I needed to have it in place before then. It required a lot of paperwork, emails and calls with the various organisations (British Cycling and UKAD) in order to process the application and finally have it granted to me. It wasn’t the easiest task and certainly not as straightforward as people may think.

JAC: There are numerous stories of cheating teams and athletes going to great length to hide syringes used for illegal PEDs. As a diabetic myself I know that keeping syringes on hand wherever I go is just part of diabetes management. Do the team athletes have to jump through any hoops in regards to the handling of their insulin pumps, syringes, or insulin as a result of a UCI license?

SB: As a fellow type 1 diabetic, you understand that all diabetics need insulin to survive. Currently, the only way to get insulin as a type 1 diabetic is through injections. We don’t actually have to jump through any hoops because we aren’t hiding anything. For us, the process is applying and being granted a TUE, and then we can use insulin. If we need to inject during a race, that is fine and we do not feel we have anything to hide. 

JAC: Since the findings against Froome, some have started to question the validity of TUEs at all. Do you have any concerns that regulation changes in response may make it more difficult – or even impossible – for diabetic athletes to compete in sanctioned events? Do you feel that riders abusing TUEs for performance gains impact you in other ways besides performance in the peloton?

SB: I definitely have concerns. There are more and more high-profile athletes calling for bans on TUEs. Additionally, people are claiming that if you need one, then you aren’t fit to race or be a professional athlete. To me, all of that is quite offensive.

This current conversation is about athletes using TUEs to enhance performance, and I completely understand this concern. As an athlete with a long-term TUE, I agree wholeheartedly with the need to sort out the current system, but I adamantly don’t agree with an outright ban on all TUEs. It isn’t the answer and takes a very shortsighted viewpoint.

JAC: Have you ever had any conversations with other riders about your use of insulin at an event? If so, what were some reactions?

SB: In my experience, there are many people around the world, not just riders, who are not well educated in diabetes.  This is why the team’s mission is to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes. I greatly enjoy that part of my job because it allows me to have conversations with people about diabetes and help educate them on the condition. In general though, fellow cyclists tend to be genuinely interested in knowing more.

JAC: Have you had to change the way you manage your diabetes to comply with the anti-doping rules?

No, not at all. While everyone’s management is different, it’s relatively straightforward how I manage my diabetes.

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Sacramento Bike Trails: The promise and challenges Wed, 14 Feb 2018 18:11:15 +0000

American River Bike Trail, Sacramento, CA
American River Bike Trail, Sacramento, CA

When you mention Sacramento bike trails, many area residents immediately think of the American River Bike trail. Also known as Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, the 32 mile mixed use path winds along the American River between Sacramento and Folsom, CA. The trail is regarded as one of the longest paved purpose-built bike trails in the country. Not surprising that it is what many associate with the phrase Sacramento bike trails. But this gem is only part of a much larger network of bicycle infrastructure.

The American River Bike Trail is part of a much larger public use park complex known as the American River Parkway. There are various spurs and alternative, paved paths connected to the American River Bike Trail, and efforts are underway to expand those paths ever further.

The trail has become much more than just a recreational jewel. It also serves as a commuter path for folks commuting to work or activities in the city centers from suburbs. As more and more people use it as part of their daily commute, trail closures for maintenance can become more and more disruptive. Many segments of the trail do not have reasonable viable alternatives that don’t add several miles or more to commutes. In addition, communication of closures and detours tend to miss the casual or occasional users. While there is a website of trail and park status, it is not incredibly well known. The primary means of notification seems to be signs posted (hopefully well in advance) along the bike trail.

One current area of focus has been the addition of a path on the Sacramento end of the trail, on the opposite bank of the river from the American River Bike Trail. This portion of trail improvement has run into social issues due to the large number of homeless encampments in the currently somewhat secluded area of river bank. However, a recent petition is trying to spread more awareness of the potential gains of the project.

Farther south, a plan has been on the books for over 40 years to extend the Sacramento bike trails along the river, stitching together various disjointed routes of both pavement and gravel. However, this route crosses a lot of land that is currently privately held. And many of those owners are reluctant to part with it. Only time will tell how this will get worked out.

We reached out to the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates for comment, but had not received a response by the time of publication.

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Freedom Cycle System reimagines the water bottle Thu, 25 Jan 2018 17:22:46 +0000

Freedom Cycle Hydration System
Freedom Cycle System, showing both regular and aero bottles

Adding to a running list of bicycle related Kickstarter projects is Australian effort Freedom Cycle System. We’ve seen numerous bicycle related products get the “kickstarter improvement” – everything from helmets to pedals to lights. Usually these projects revolve around making something “smarter” – or, cramming a bunch of electronics into them and somehow linking them to a phone app. It would be hard to imagine a way to make the lowly bicycle water bottle cage smarter. I don’t need an app to tell me if there is bottle there after all. But Freedom Cycle Systems is focused on making it better. Which is what “smarter” used to mean. 

The innovation here is replacing the standard “finger” style water bottle cage that we all have with a pin type system that fits into purpose built bottles and other accessories. Or, in the words of the creator Steve Serpell:

Our water bottle sits on, not in.


One of the advantages of the design is much more flexible range of motion when removing the bottle from the holder. This not only provides ease of use, it also address the very real space problems inherent in compact frames.

The current project will be shipping the mounting pin, a round “toolbox” (basically an empty bottle with no squirty top) and both round and aero water bottles. We had to have aero, right? Oh, and they’ve got the wind tunnel testing data to go with it.

Other future products are hinted at on the Kickstarter page.

Freedom Cycle Hydration System Freedom Cycle Hydration System Freedom Cycle Hydration System Freedom Cycle Hydration System

It is this interchangeability that, for me, is perhaps most attractive. I can easily have my aero bottles on race day, a regular bottle and a packed lunch for the weekend ride, a tool kit and water for club rides, and a bag full of goodies for the family ride. And I will be able to carry all of this on the same bike, from the same two mounts.

But big ideas start small when someone has to physically make the stuff. Currently it is only the translucent bottles that are available – including round, aero and the tool box.

The design won Steve Serpell and Freedom Cycle System the Bendigo Inventor Award in 2012, and runner up in the DRIVENxDESIGN Sydney Design Awards the same year.

Some may balk a bit at needing to purchase system specific bottles for this system however. Kickstarter pricing is AU$ 25 for the round bottle, and AU$ 35 for the aero (about $20 and $24 US) so we can expect eventual retail prices to be somewhat higher than that. That puts it about middle of the road for other aero bottles, but more than the branded cheapy round water bottles that bike shops practically give away. I haven’t yet found details on exactly how the nozzle is to be constructed for the water bottles, but it appears to be rubber in the videos.

Freedom Cycle System
Water bottle with removable top and bottom, pictured with mounting pin assembly

The Freedom Cycle System Kickstarter campaign offers a rather flexible contribution plan, allowing you to pick and choose various parts of the system that will be offered at launch. It is projected that Kickstarter orders will ship by the end of April, 2018.




Update: On initial publication we incorrectly reported that the product would ship by the end of 2018. The correct timing is by the end of April in 2018 – not the end of the year. The story has been updated to reflect this correction.

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Ford Motor Company Bike Rack Patent Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:43:50 +0000

Ford Motor Company has notably been in the bicycle news lately as the title sponsor of the San Francisco bike share program Ford GoBike. But the company’s recent patent application for a Retractable Bicycle Carrier is geared towards those that own both cars and bikes.

The patent application – published Jul 6 2017 – details a retractable bicycle carrier. While the specs and drawings in the patent are installed on a Ford Mustang, the text of the patent clearly indicates this as a device intended for any vehicle.

A bicycle carrier system for a vehicle includes a rail assembly configured for translation between a stored position within a vehicle fascia and a fully deployed position. The rail assembly includes one or more sliding rails each carrying a plurality of pivoting anchors.

Of course this is just a patent application and there is no real indication that this will ever come to market. It is also not the first time we’ve seen automakers experiment with bicycle centric autos. But Ford seems to be doing more and more in the area of bicycles.

Because we view ourselves, both as an automotive company, and as a mobility company


In addition to the Ford GoBike partnership mentioned above, the company had previously been working into the bicycle market in a much more direct manner. The MoDe:Flex was a prototype smart bike reported on VeloReviews. Perhaps Ford is hedging its bets about where transportation is heading in the future.


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There, and back again… Fri, 07 Jul 2017 14:37:46 +0000

…a cyclists tale.

Way back when, I started riding a bike as an easy way to make the monumental commute from Sacramento, CA to Palo Alto. It was a 7 mile bike ride, to the Amtrak Capitol Corridor train, to a bus, to another train. I did it 3 days a week on average. The bike was a very practical thing, and I had a very practical bike.

To fill that time on the train rides I started writing about my trips. Back then I think I may have even had to do a search to understand what “blogging” even was. I could not have predicted how much impact that somewhat impulsive decision to work so far from home would have on the course of my life.

But life did what life does, and there was a long meandering path. Along that path I continued to commute – sometimes more, sometimes less. I went through 4 different jobs until landing at my current job. Along the way I also changed residence and lived in the city of San Francisco. No more trains. I started a bike shop, closed said bike shop, and went back to the day job.

My cycling life was equally as eventful. I caught the bug on that Fuji Absolute DX commuter, but quickly found myself a “proper” road bike. I started riding longer and longer distances. I became a cycling nut through and through. I rode the Tour de Cure charity ride (now known as the Gold Country Tour for a Cure.) And finally what is still my favorite cycling event – the Seattle to Portland cycling classic. After moving to San Francisco I traded my long rides for short, punchy sprints across the crowded urban landscape. I learned how to feel confident around traffic, how to avoid commuter train tracks in the middle of the road, and dipped my foot into the cycling advocacy world. For one of those years I had what may be one of the most beautiful daily commutes on bike I will ever have. I traced the shoreline of the city along the bay almost completely from south to north. The flat lands of Sacramento were a distant memory in the shadow of the San Francisco hills. I even rode the damned Wiggle.

Those journeys are evident here on JustAnotherCyclist as well. What started out has a blog about commuting became a full fledged cycling blog. The more I rode, the more I had things to write about. The more I wrote about cycling, the more I wanted to get out there on the bike and experience more things to write about.

And here we find ourselves today with a moment of reflection. There have been several of those moments for me here on JustAnotherCyclist before.  Today, however, is clearly one of those circle of life kind of things.

My fiance and I recently moved out of San Francisco and back to… Sacramento. After a very long silence here on JustAnotherCyclist, I again find myself posting from an Amtrak Capitol Corridor train. I travel from Sacramento to San Francisco only one day a week now, but it is just the same as it was back then. Life has steered me away from the cycling world a bit in the last 6 months to a year, and it feels good to be coming back.

Now…. just gotta get that damned creek out of the BB30 on my Cannondale and remind myself how much joy I can get out of riding more than 10 or 15 miles at a time.


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Chicago balks at contra-flow bike lane, while SF rejects paint-only treatment Fri, 12 May 2017 15:25:55 +0000

Some folks in Chicago are a little confused about why city engineers would actually want to make cyclists ride against traffic. In infrastructure terms this is known as a “contra-flow bike lane.” At first glance, it takes the norm of bikes riding the same direction of travel as cars and intentionally turns it on it’s head.

Polk Street Contra-flow bike lane
Photo by Dianne Yee. Used with permission.

In some implementations calling it “Contra-flow” is more a nod to the way things used to be, and less about how the bikes and cars interact. A good example of this is the Polk Street Contra-Flow Bike lane in San Francisco. By being physically separated from the motor vehicle traffic (“protected bike lane”) it seems a bit of a stretch to say that the cyclists are really riding against traffic. There are numerous dedicated or mixed use paths across the country that have much less physical separation from the motor vehicle lanes they parallel than the Polk street implementation.

The new contra-flow bike lane in Chicago, however, will not be physically separated from the rest of the traffic on the one-way road. The bike lane will pass between moving traffic and parked cars – both going in the other direction. This will force parking cars to cross the bike enter the bike lane heading in the opposite direction. I’m also curious what cyclists that are going with the flow of motor vehicle will do, and if that will create conflicts with other cyclists going in the opposite direction.

According to reporting in the local media, this may just be legalization of already existing, common cycling behavior. It will be interesting to see how this plays out after the lane opens.


Interestingly enough, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition just recently rejected a new bike lane proposal on Turk St. in San Francisco. According to StreetsBlogSF, this is the first time ever that the coalition has taken a “No” stance against a new bike lane. They are pushing for a safer, parking protected bike lane instead of the cities painted-stripes-in-the-door-zone approach.

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