The topic of the proper placement of a taillight can be a bit of a charged topic, believe it or not, in a group setting.
First of all, an avid enthusiast roadie (such as me, not to put too fine a point on it) knows the best way to be visible is not just to wear a bunch of neon green or yellow stuff (no offense, Tinkoff) when you’re on your bike. Now, after seeing a guy, barely seeing I should say, riding in a forest green jacket, possibly the worst color to wear on a bike, one must know the trick is to be loud and proud. Err… Anyway, bright red works great. Bright orange too… Yellows, even some of the blues – and white is a sure winner. Brown, gray, black (how I wish this weren’t so! I love black!), dark green… these are all bad. The additional trick, however, to really sticking out, is to look awesome. The more impressive one looks on a bike, the more you stick out. If you doubt me, you’d better check your awesome.
There are those times, however, where you just wanna wear black. For these days, I like to fly a light, just to make sure I give myself the best chance to pull into the driveway with the rubber the right side down. Also, while I absolutely will not ride in pea soup-thick fog, I will ride in less than perfectly clear conditions… For those days I want the brightest light I can get and the Serfas Thunderbolt is it.
My friends and I all use a Serfas Thunderbolt taillight. All of us. Rather than drone on about how bright it is, I’ll simply say this, a police officer once pulled over a friend of mine on his bike to compliment him on his choice of lights because the officer could “literally see [him] a mile away”. He had it on “low blink”.
It’s a bright frickin’ light.
Anyway, the normal placement for a taillight is either on the seat post or on the saddlebag, right?
Not if you use a Thunderbolt, you’ll blind the $#!+ out of anyone riding behind you.
This is the proper place for it in a group setting:
On the left seat stay, just above the dropout.
See, the norm for a group ride is not to look at the wheel but over the shoulder of the person in front of you and up the road, with maybe a glance down every now and again to make sure your wheel spacing is right… With a Thunderbolt on the seat post, even though it’ll be pointing down a little bit, it can be distracting at best, blinding in the worst cases.
Now, because you’ll be checking the wheel in front of you from time to time, the seat stay placement might seem worse, because it will shine up into one’s face, but it’s not. We all ride with our light there and we never have problems.
So please, think of the person on your wheel. Don’t blind them, dude.
If you like using a light, I would like to recommend the Thunderbolt. In my opinion, it’s the best bicycle taillight on the market, by a long shot. I bought mine, minus my club discount at the local bike shop, and Serfas has no idea that I’m giving their light a review.
Ride hard, my friends. Or ride your approximation of hard. That works too. Just ride.
UPDATE: My brother from another cycling mother, Titanium Henry chimed in down in the comments section to suggest going with the full-time on position rather than the blink to avoid blasting your brothers and sisters in chain rings with a strobe light show…
Until last night, I really didn’t have much to write about… After 23 days in a row on the bike I simply felt like taking a day off. I spent the afternoon watching my daughter kick some butt at her swim/dive meet (see below – the second photo is of her overtaking one of her teammates in a 400 relay, when she dove into the pool she was better than a half-lap down).
My poor wife has been searching for a game the family could rally around playing, God, ever since my youngest was old enough to play games…. Clue, Five Crowns (an AWESOME game btw), and a few others that didn’t stick all. Even cribbage.
Our daughters learned how to play bull$#!+ at swim meets and we decided to give it a go at home. Of course, the girls call it BS…
And this became our game.
We have laughed so hard I’ve blown coffee out of my nose onto the table. My wife, water and Gatorade. Last night devolved to a new low, or maybe that should be risen to a new high…
When we were trying to figure out a game we could all play and enjoy, it was often boring. Now that we’ve got something that makes us laugh and can all enjoy… well you can see the evidence on the table.
Please, do me a favor; Don’t rush to comment section to complain about morality. My wife and I will raise our kids as we see fit. At least for now, it’s still a free country… Trust me, we know what we’re doing. 😉
I rode early, with my buds, on Saturday, so with District swim meets over the weekend, that meant I was with my youngest when everyone rode yesterday morning so my wife could ride with the group… This meant I was on my own after the morning session, once Mrs. Bgddy showed up with the eldest just after noon….
I was looking forward to the ride until I was halfway home. I knew I was going to have two hours, leaving enough time for a tire change and then another hour for something unforeseen, so I wouldn’t have to ride in the dark….
The tough part was the wind. It was out of the northeast which really sucks for me. Flint is northeast of my house and the traffic is a little too silly that way, so on a solo ride I’m avoiding that direction… That left southeast, southwest or northwest routes. In other words, I was going to have a lot of wind to cope with no matter which way I went. I chose northwest because, well, it seemed like the lesser of the evils. At least I’d have a few miles towards the end with some tailwind.
I started out great, with a headwind for the first mile, just trying to get the legs up and spinning. I’d decided on a route that should have come out to about 32 miles and I figured if I took two hours to do it, I’d be happy. I rationalized, I’d had a great few weeks with some really hard miles, including a great ride on Saturday, so if I took my time once, hey, it’d be cool.
Well, if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you know I don’t do slow well. For some reason that I’ve yet to figure out, once I get clipped in I just can’t help myself but push it. This is, in part, due to a lack of experience doing long solo miles…
I started out into the headwind (10-12 mph) at about 18 mph for the first mile and when I turned west, with the NNE wind (i.e. a little help, very little), I cranked it up to 20-22. Then came four miles north into the wind again and I tried to tamp down on the enthusiasm and keep it between 17 & 18. I don’t have a computer on my Trek, all I have to go on is the gear I’m in and the feel of my cadence, but over the years I’ve become quite adept at knowing how fast I’m going… Those four miles got a little grueling after a bit and I was wishing for a friend to hide behind for a minute.
Next up came a turn heading west for five miles. I was hoping for a little bit of help from that east wind but it was all but imperceptible, if there was any. It mostly felt like a crosswind but it was a lot better than the headwind I’d just battled. When I pulled into Lennon, the meeting spot for our club ride, my plan had been to do our warmup loop and head home but my enthusiasm was waning. Yes, that’s a good way to put it. I was so tempted to turn around and call it good at 25 miles… I don’t know if you can relate, you get to that point where you know you’ve exerted yourself just a little too much on the way out and you know that last five miles is going to be brutal if you keep heading out. That’s where I was.
I thought to myself, “You sissy… You’re going to do this whole ride and you’re going to finish strong, so just get on with it.” And I did, though “strong” is too strong a word. The miles I spent heading back south were nice but I was struggling just to get to 20 mph.
After stopping to take a few photos, I ended up pulling into the driveway with just under a 17 mph average… So, in other words, I ended up almost a mile an hour faster than I’d planned on, a full ten minutes faster, but I still was a little disappointed. I suppose it’s simply that I struggled a little more than that result should have been worth, even if I had a lousy wind that bucked me most of the way.
Oh well, that’s me.
UPDATE: After telling my wife about my struggles, she let on that everybody struggled on the club ride… It wasn’t just me.
Yesterday was weigh-in day and I had to check myself three times just to make sure the digital scale wasn’t screwing up…
After another 130+ mile week, and seven more days in a row (I’m coming up on 23 days without a day off now), the weight is peeling off a little too fast for comfort. Two pounds after a fairly easy week is a little too much, considering I’ve only got three more pounds to go and the season hasn’t even started yet. That works out to five pounds in four weeks, without trying too hard. Where this gets tricky is that my weight loss is accelerating. The only thing that’s really changed is that I quit taking days off a few weeks ago. It makes me wonder if there isn’t something going on there, maybe my metabolism is kicking up because even my rest days involve a 45 minute ride on the trainer at around 20 mph… In the end, it really doesn’t matter whether that’s the case or not. I know what the scale says and I have to manage that. It’s an interesting idea though.
There are two things to consider here. First, I get skinny in a hurry once the 200 mile weeks start. That two pounds a week can turn into three if I’m not careful. Second, my wife starts complaining when I drop below 170 pounds. I can squeak by at 165, but even I have to admit, below 165 and I’m too skinny. In short, I needed to add a pound back. It’s good to have my problems.
Desperate times call for desperate measures: McDonald’s for lunch and a Freakin’ Unbelievable Burger for dinner, with smothered chilli fries.
Now, one mustn’t get the wrong impression, I do not eat like that normally. While I’m not afraid to have a fast food burger or chicken sammich now and again, dinners and lunches are usually vastly more responsible. Breakfast doesn’t even come into this discussion because that is always wise and healthy (a banana and one of the following: apple, orange, protein bar or, on rare occasion, a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sammich – homemade of course).
What will not decrease is my appetite for hard miles. I have only one goal going into a season: To be of maximum use to my wife and friends once spring hits. It’s not about racing, or beating guys up… What’s fun for me is being a guy that my friends want to have around to pull hard miles up front. For me, it doesn’t get any better than that.
One thing can’t be argued against: Losing a few pounds with 100-200 miles a week on a bike is a whole lot easier and more fun that without the miles.
Most newer wheels are pretty simple. You’ve got sealed bearings, the whole wheel is preassembled and ready to roll. You slap them on your bike and go, simple as that. Some wheels, however, are adjustable. The old cone and cap wheels are a good example but some of the newer wheels come with sealed bearings and are adjustable as well. I have a set of these on my Trek, they originally came on my Venge. I hate them. Hate is a powerful word. I hate them.
Now, if you’re the type of cyclist who barely takes the time to properly clean and lube your chain, this post is going to make your eyes glaze over, but it’s important nonetheless, so please try and stay with me – it may save you some consternation down the road.
I am a ridiculously finicky cyclist. I pay good money for my stuff so I expect it to work… That’s not unreasonable, right?
Well, there’s some wiggle room there. In the old days of the quick release adjustable hubs, if you tightened the hub enough that it didn’t have play in it, when you set the quick release, the bearings would have too much pressure on them and that would affect the ability of the wheel to spin freely.
The set that came with my Venge, now on the Trek…
…the wheels are an odd mix of old and new. The wheels have enclosed cartridge bearings (new) but adjustable hubs (old). When I brought the bike home the rear hub was too loose, the axle had too much play, so every time I hit a bump the wheel would give an odd clunk sound… There is nothing more annoying to me than dropping as much as I did for that bike, only to have a wheel that clunked when I hit a bump. I will be honest here, I probably should have been able to live with it like that… especially after I took it to the shop and the owner explained that to tighten the hub up too much could have a bad affect on the ease with which the wheel rolled.
I couldn’t live with it. It drove me up a wall. There had to be a way to take that slop our of the wheel and still have it roll right.
I soon broomed those wheels for a new set that I paid $370 for and worked much better. No clunking and they were much faster. The Venge’s original wheels were then allocated to my Cannondale until I blew out the brake surface on the original set of wheels that came with my Trek (they were 16 years old when the sidewall gave out and I put 10,000 miles on them myself – they had to have well over 20,000 miles on them, probably a lot more, pretty good for a set of OEM wheels).
Well, I actually ride my Trek quite a bit, so when I had to dust the Venge’s original wheels off and use them, I took the rear wheel in to see if I could get the play tightened up a little bit. After several adjustments, Justin (one of the better mechanics who races mountain bikes) handed me the wheel and said the hub was as tight as he could get it without it being too tight to ride on…
Fast forward to three weeks ago when I got dropped on a ride I should have easily been able to finish. I’ve been out on four or five rides on that bike and I’m struggling on distances that I should be able to laugh at (35-38 miles). Not only that, holding a 19 mph average is what’s doing me in – again, this should be easy, especially with a decent draft.
Loose is fast.
I took the wheel to the shop Friday and had some slop put back into the hub to free up the wheel a little bit. I’d rather have a little clunk than have to deal with struggling on easy rides. This is one of those cases where I should have listened to the owner of the local shop and saved myself the trouble. Loose really is fast(er).
There was, however, a plus side to having the rear wheel too tight… I’ve worked a lot harder this winter than last. By the time spring really gets here, I should be ready to tear it up… Better, I’ll be on the Venge which is four pounds lighter and has faster wheels.
This morning was my first test with the newly slop-laden wheel and it was much
betterfaster. The clunk was back, of course, but only on the really gnarly bumps. With just three of us, in heavy winds we averaged 18-1/2 over 35 miles and I had enough left in the tank to ride with Mike halfway to his house, an additional two miles. No cramping and I spent a lot more time up front. Loose is fast.
“Hello pot? This is the kettle”…
Which reminds me of a joke…
Jesus steps into a fracas. An angry mob is about to stone a whore to death. He quiets the crowd and says, “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone”…
All of a sudden a rock comes sailing in from the back of the crowd and smacks him in the head, knocking him to the ground….
Jesus stands up, dusts himself off, and says, “C’mon mom, knock it off, I’m trying to make a point here!”
I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the Vatican to knock down that wall they built around the city.
That said, and in all fairness, the Pope was set up, in a moment of dispicable gotcha journalism, with a disgustingly misleading question. It’s still, nevertheless, ironic, his answer.