Rants and Raves

Another Quick Rave – Bivo Bottles

tl;dr: Bivo Bottles Rock

No, I didn’t buy one of these bottles because it’s close to the name of the mascot of my alma mata. I bought one of these initially to be able to clean it more easily and to help me stop buying plastic that wears out.

I had noticed that despite some of my best efforts, my standard plastic bottles were getting kind of nasty on the inside. It’s not that I wasn’t cleaning them well, I just wasn’t able to dry them well. In fact, that’s still a difficulty for me in my apartment.

There’s not much to say – it’s a bottle. It’s a metal bottle with a coating. Hopefully it will keep me from buying more plastic long-term.

You may wonder how to drink out of it since you’re not able to squeeze the metal bottle- but it’s fine, the straw piece helps with the flow. They have more info on their site here.

The ONE drawback, if there is one, is that the bottle doesn’t fit well in all bottle cages. It fits great in one of my bikes, but on the other one it’s just slightly more snug. That’s about it.

Aftershokz: A Rave

I know the blog is called RANTS and Raves, but I’m making an effort to rant less and rave more. As part of that I wanted to share some thoughts on something that warrants a positive rave. That something is my AfterShokz Titanium headset. The AfterShokz were one of my most surprisingly used things last year.

I never used to wear earbuds or headphones when riding. I know other riders who do wear buds and I’ve always been surprised that they could ride with them. About once a year, I’d try riding with one (wired) earbud in place and put on music or a podcast when I was really far away from traffic on a rural ride. But I usually hated it and it felt wrong and I’d shut it off. That said, I never felt that I missed music or input, I just thought it’d be a nice-to-have.

Also- I started to get judgey about people who I encountered on rides who had in-ear earbuds in place. Mostly because as I’d ride up next to them and say hi, they never heard me coming and then I’d wonder about the safety aspect. I also tended to be slightly jealous that they were riding with earbuds that weren’t slipping out. My airpods are great for work, but there’s no way I’m going to risk losing one on a ride. Even cheaper knockoffs I’d be nervous about.

But enough people recommended that I give the AfterShokz a try that I decided to get a pair. I had looked at them years before but I didn’t like them at the time. I’m not sure if they improved or if I was more open to trying them, but they clicked this time.

They fit around your head and sit on your cheekbones, near your jaw hinge. The sound goes to your ear via bone conduction. Because of that your ears are open and you can hear all the sounds around you. They were perfect for walks, jogs and the bike. The only negative is the sound isn’t great if you’re thinking that you’ll have audiophile-level quality, but that’s a minor point. That only effects me when I’m on the bridge where it’s really windy (but I still don’t usually have music or podcasts on when I’m on he bridge out of habit). They’ve been great on really long rides.

The only other possible negative is that they could be slightly uncomfortable if you have other stuff on your face. By that I mean during Covid I typically ride with a Pandana (see this post) or a mask or a regular bandana that I raise and lower. In addition I’ll have my glasses and helmet on too. So it took me a little bit of time to get used to putting things on in an order that I like. Again, a minor point, but something to think about. In the pics below you can see how small they are. So it shouldn’t be a major concern.

So there you have it- a nice Rave to start off the year.

More Mask Stuff

Some people have asked where I got the masks that they’ve seen me wear in my selfies from the bike. Most of those are Eliel Cycling Masks. These are great for my rides.

Quick notes on the Eliel: thin material, like jerseys. Great on rides and during runs. They come in 5 packs too.

The only downside that I can think of is that on my rides that are longer than 2 hours, they do tend to stretch a bit so when I’m on my way home on the bridge, the wind can sometimes blow the mask off my nose. This is likely my fault if I’m on a 2.5 hour+ ride because I pull the mask under my chin when I eat/drink more.

I also got two “Pandanas” recently from Pandana USA based in Boulder. I just got them so I’ve only worn one once on a ride but it worked really well.

I tried the Coolmax one on a 2 hour+ ride that was a mix of SF “summer” and real summer and I wound up keeping it on the whole time like I do with the Eliel masks. It was fine.

The ear hole things on the side helped too when I got back to the windy bridge, but I didn’t really need them.

I’ll try my non-coolmax one soon and report back. I highly recommend these so far.

FYI – We also have two from Rickshaw Bags in SF which we wear while doing less strenuous stuff.

Oh, and shout out to the Paceline Forum for the Pandana info. I found them via an older thread.

I’m (unreasonably) scared of certain routes

I recently tried a route I’d been scared to do previously. I had no problems, I didn’t cramp up, I took it easy and had fun. I’m not sure why I had waited so long to do it, other than being scared.

My fears come down to: cramping, getting stuck, flatting somewhere remote, running out of water (see cramping), worries I’ll slow friends down, etc.

But when it comes down to it, the worst that could happen (other than a wreck) would be:

  • Getting a cramp and having to sit down for 10 minutes
  • My friends may need to ride on and I’d catch up with them at a cafe or another day (aka getting dropped) – not that I’m riding with anyone right now
  • getting stuck and Senol having to come get me with the car

But all of the routes I’m freaked out about unnecessarily, I’ve done most of them or big parts of them. I’m ready to knock more off my list.

  • Hawk Hill (yes, an oldie but I used to be freaked out by this long ago)
  • Muir Woods to 1 – and back to Mill Valley via 1
  • 4C down 1 to Muir Woods back to 4C 
  • Stinson Beach
  • Mt Tam
  • Alpine Dam
  • 17th St up to Clarendon to Twin Peaks
  • Up Clipper to Twin Peaks

(strikethrough means I’ve done those rides)

Mentally I think my desired routes involve Highway 1 and wanting to explore out that way. And I’m scared of not being able to get back up to Panoramic or up out of Muir back to Mill Valley. But like I said- I’ve done all of the big routes or routes that connect to most of the “1 rides”. I just need to get over it and try them.

First Ride of 2020

I went on a nice ride yesterday. I wasn’t sure of where I was going, but I left the city and headed north to Mill Valley. I wound up heading up the hill to 4 Corners and then back through to SF and home.

It was a bit chilly (for me) but it was really nice out. I’m just glad to be out and riding outside. My mileage has been dropping steadily since going to my current job. I’m not blaming the job, but work commitments definitely play into the riding schedule.

There’s something to be said for just moving… just getting outside and seeing the sights and moving.


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Some snaps from today

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Some Thoughts on Jump Bike and Bike Share

I’ve been playing around with the new Jump bikes on my commutes recently and some folks had asked what I thought of them so far. Here are my impressions, but also some thoughts on comparing them to the Ford Go Bikes (and program).

Just for background’s sake- I’m a member of the Ford Go Bike Program. I have a yearly subscription and I signed up when they first launched. I signed up for Jump recently because I had been seeing them around in the neighborhood more and also know one of their Ops Managers and got interested after talking to him more about what they were doing with the program.

Jump is a bike-share service. You sign up, give them your credit card info for billing and download their app* (there’s a way to use the service w/o a smartphone too).

To get a bike, you look in the app to see if there’s one near you and if there is, you can reserve it through the app and go get it. When you get to the bike, there’s a keypad on the back and you type in your pin.

This is much different from the Ford Bikes because Ford’s bikes are all in docking stations. Although you can check online to see if the station is full or empty, you have to go to the docking station. Jump bikes are station-less. They do need to be locked up to a legitimate bike rack (ie not a parking meter) but there’s no station.

What about the bikes?

Jump bikes near me right now

Jump uses e-assist bikes. Ford uses their traditional bikes. Both kinds are great- fenders, lights, baskets (well, Ford’s aren’t full baskets). Both are heavy.  E-assist means they have a motor in them, but you need to pedal for it to kick on. If you want to get sweaty and ride hard you can, but you can also use the motor to help you get up hills (and I’ve been testing this a lot). They cap out at just under 20mph too. They’re pretty neat. You still need to be careful with when braking- the bikes are heavier than you realize.  note: Ford will have e-assist bikes available in March/April.

Bikes in the Inner Richmond

So for me- and this may differ for you depending on where you live and how you ride-

Jump advantages:

-bikes near where I live (usually) – (there’s no Ford Go Bike station near me)

-electric assist

-I can reserve the bike

-big basket on front that can hold a box of baked pork buns (pic)

-$2/30 mins (compared to $3 for Ford)

-just partnered with Uber in test areas so you can use the Uber app to reserve/retrieve bikes

Jump disadvantages:

-Not as many around (for now)- but I’ve been able to get one whenever I’ve wanted one

-Potential for not being able to rely on one being in my area consistently

Ford “normal” bike advantages:

-monthly/yearly program

-can use your clipper card to rent

-a lot of stations in the flatter parts of the city and they’re expanding

Ford disadvantages:

-need to be near a station to get and leave a bike

-no ebikes (for two more months)

-basket thing on front isn’t as good as Jump’s


So overall I’m impressed with the Jump bikes and I’ll continue to use them if I’m not on my own bike. I’m tempted to leave the Ford program unless they get some stations closer to where I live.

But, if I were a commuter who comes from another city to SF on the daily commute I’d probably stick with Ford. If you get to the city via Caltrain- there’s a Ford station right there. If you use casual carpool from the East Bay and get dropped off in the FiDi, there are stations nearby. The same goes for users of Transbay.

Have questions? Leave them for me in the comments

Ack! My favorite accessory died

A few weeks ago my Fly6 rear light died. I’ve recommended this light to everyone and still recommend it.

I’m not sure what exactly happened but Cycliq tech support and I worked back and forth on trying to get it working again without luck. [impressively quick support team too]

Cycliq has a newer version out, and because mine was past the warranty date and they offered a discount to me, I wound up ordering the newest model last week.

I’ve commuted without it a few times now and I feel naked. Yes I have other lights- like my favorite Planet Bike Superflash, but I worried a few times about not having footage should I need it. (I never need it- knock on wood)….

I did post a vid from the Fly12 front camera last week in case you’re REALLY bored.

Check it out:


I don’t like bundles

image from SteephillTV - linked to their Fubo Page

I saw some viral marketing for a new online TV service. I was intrigued because they said they’d be showing bike races that I try to follow. It’s hard to buy the rights for those races and get them organized (listen to a podcast of Speedmetal Cycling and they’ll go into it more), so I was impressed. I’m always looking for an excuse to cut the cord and get closer every year.

But then I noticed on Steephill.tv’s page that there’s a wrinkle with the new one I saw (Fubo.tv), in particular related to bundling:

Not all big U.S. media companies are ready to fully embrace the ala-carte nature of online streaming and therefore you’ll notice that all OTT services such as fubo.tv, sling.tv and youtube.tv will have a core bundle of channels which represents the minium service package. In particular, fubo.tv’s network agreements with FOX and NBC prevent them from offering a cycling only package. Any package fubo.tv adds in the U.S. will require the core bundle of channels to be purchased as well. This is the reason for the price increase to watch the Giro d’Italia.

(Emphasis is SteephillTV’s)

TV’s a rough business. But this bundling stuff is why Netflix, Amazon, and the various sports leagues will keep eroding ‘big tv”s viewers more and more (Apple too). Cable companies/media providers/channels need to get with it.

Today’s Butthead

On almost every commute home, there’s usually a driver that does something dumb at this light on the Embarcadero.

Drive from the far right lane to the left lane? Check
Run the light with an illegal left turn? Check
Run across two train tracks while you do your illegal turn? Check