Tuesday, 12 April 2011

For Immediate Release: My Saddlebag Runneth Over

In the world of cycling, you're only as good as your last component upgrade. Even so, sometimes I forget that the real job of a cycling blogger is to keep riders apprised of products they can buy. I remembered this with a start today as I checked my email and found what we in the cycling blogging industry call a "Press Release."

"For Immediate Release," demanded the press release.

My stomach dropped like a bad "collabo." How long had I been sitting on this thing? One day? Two? A company had urgent product-related news that they had to make public and here I was letting them down! Keeping a press release languishing in your inbox is like caging a wild bird that just wants to fly, fly, fly! I'd have tendered my resignation right then if only I'd had a boss, and I'd have torn up my paycheck if only anybody actually paid me for this crap.

But then I remembered the old saying: "When life gives you lemons, rent a storefront in the trendy part of town and make artisanally squeezed lemonade at $14 a glass." Granted, that saying doesn't really apply here, but it did make me realize that perhaps it wasn't too late and that perhaps I still had time to redeem myself. After all, "Better laid than never," as the other saying goes. So I resolved to release this release with all the fanfare and flambullience of the start of a thoroughbred horse race.

So here it is. A product you'll want to buy. Nay, a product you must buy. A product without which your very life will be incomplete, to say nothing of your bicycle. Ladies, gentleman, the ambiguously sexed, and progressive Portlanders who eschew traditional gender roles and instead self-identify as angiosperms: It gives me great pleasure to present to you...


Have you ever looked at your saddlebag and thought, "Boy am I ever thirsty. I wish I could drink from that." Well now you can, thanks to the VelEau from Showers Pass:

It's like a "butt rocket" and a CamelBak all in one!

It's also dork-tastically convenient, thanks to the "hookah"-like interface:

So what "problem" does the VelEau solve? Well, according to the press release:

The VelEau also solves the dangerous issue of reaching for a water bottle while riding, particularly when in a paceline or hammering in a racing peloton.

Wow. If you can't reach for a water bottle while you're riding in a paceline, then perhaps you shouldn't be riding in a paceline. And as far as using the VelEau while "hammering in a racing peloton," I'm not sure I'd want a heavy, pendulous saddle scrotum bulging with tools and fluids in that situation.

It does look rather elegant on a road bike, though:

(It's a hydration system with a bike attached.)

Hopefully someone will take this whole hydration concept to the next level and design an integrated saddle/bladder system. Brooks could even make a version for retrogrouches, complete with a proprietary modular leather wineskin.

Speaking of safety, if the Hookah-Tastic Saddle Bag Bladder-O-Matic isn't safe enough for you, a reader tells me you can also buy a bicycle lock specifically designed to be worn around the waist:

Cyclists can transport their locks in a variety of ways while they're riding, but most approaches involve inherent disadvantages for safety, flexibility or style. The Hiplok, on the other hand, is a brand-new alternative from UK-based Plus 8 Industries that can be simply worn around the waist when it's not being used.

Yes, can you believe there are cyclists out there who are transporting their locks inside their bags or by means of small brackets attached to their frames? It's like they've got some sort of death wish! And that's saying nothing of the obvious "style" disadvantages. However, putting your lock around your waist is the very pinnacle of style. I can't wait until Hiplok takes the concept of lock-as-fashion-accessory even further and offers smaller versions that you can wear around your head like Olivia Newton-John:

Though I suppose there is a fashion precedent for it:

But while drinking from your saddlebag and keeping your lock around your waist are apparently both very safe, a reader tells me that riding a BMX bike can be unsafe if you're a "Celebrity DJ:"

Perhaps the crash could have been avoided if Ms. Ronson had been sipping from some sort of butt pouch at the time. Either way, I hate to see anybody get hurt, but I also hate to see anybody dismissing cycling as something for children:

'Let this be a lesson,' she wrote. ' If you have a driver's licence you probably don't need to be on a bmx bike.'

Right, great lesson. Also, if you're over 30, you probably don't need to be playing other people's music at parties for a living either.

New York is a special case. Not only is New York by far the largest of the case study cities, but it has the most mixed record on cycling policies and accomplishments. Although cycling has almost doubled in New York City since 1990, it lags far behind the other case study cities in almost every respect. It has the lowest bike share of commuters, the highest cyclist fatality and injury rate, and the lowest rate of cycling by women, children, and seniors. New York has built the most bikeways since 2000 and has been especially innovative in its use of cycle tracks, buffered bike lanes, bike traffic signals, bike boxes, and sharrowed streets. Yet New York has almost completely failed in the important areas of bike-transit integration and cyclist rights and falls far short on bike parking and cycling training. Moreover, the refusal of New York's police to protect bike lanes from blockage by motor vehicles has compromised cyclist safety. New York has much to learn from the other case study cities, which have implemented a far more comprehensive, integrated package of mutually reinforcing policies to promote cycling.


Meanwhile, in other smugness news, yet another reader tells me London has its own problems, with a politician looking to propose a new "Dangerous and Reckless Cycling Bill:"

Looks like Britain has the same problem as America, which is this:

Therefore, it's only natural that provisions should be in place just in case one of us steps out of our socially accepted role of "victim."

None of this to say is that North America doesn't have its share of cycling amenities. In fact, up in America's toupee still another reader tells me that Vancouver is getting the World's Greatest Bike Polo Court:

“You will have people drive from Portland and Calgary when this place opens just to play here on opening weekend,” Lisa Moffatt, a member of the group East Van Bike Polo, told the Straight in an interview on the court.

I'm glad to see poloists are now getting in line with roadies and mountain bikers and cyclocross racers and triathletes and the rest of cycledom, loading their custom bikes onto cars and traveling to events. Not that there's anything wrong with any of that, but I kind of hoped polo would be the one that just stayed crappy. Alas, I guess not. If anything, when these people reach retirement age we might start seeing bike polo facilities at country clubs and all-inclusive resorts. Sometimes I think the only cyclist clinging to a frugal cycling lifestyle is the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork, but a number of people have recently informed me that even he is now hawking high-end training equipment in SkyMall:

Maximize your fitness data!

Cyclists can now accurately record speed and heart rate wherever they are! New Fisica Sensor technology allows uploading data to a computer for analysis.

Our Fitness Bike Pack includes a Fitness Sensor Case with built in Sensor Key (connects to iPhone 3G, 3GS, & 4, but not iPod Touch,) a Heart Rate Belt and bicycle Speed/Cadence Sensor.

Sensor Case fits on handle bars and easily adapts to recumbent bikes.

The Speed/Cadence Sensor mounts near the crank and rear wheel spoke.

All mounting hardware is included.

Notice how they just slipped that bit about the recumbent bikes in there. It's no doubt a subliminal message, for when you're sitting bolt-upright in an uncomfortable airplane seat and you read the phrase "easily adapts to recumbent bikes" you can't help fantasizing about reclining comfortably.

Sure, by the time you land you've come to your senses, but by then it's too late and the seed has been planted.

You will easily adapt to the recumbent bike... You will easily adapt to the recumbent bike...


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