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.
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.
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.
So one of the more popular posts I did a while back was a quick gift guide for cyclists. Sadly, that’s one of the posts that vanished, so I’ll try to recreate it.
The original list was intended as cheap guide and for both roadies and just general riders. I’ll try to keep the spirit of that but I know I’ll list some things that have higher prices. In fact, let’s get one of my more expensive faves out of the way first:
In a nutshell, it’s a rear-facing camera with a light. It’s not the best camera ever, but that’s not the point. You just leave it running and if something happens, you’ll have footage. I run this on almost all of my rides and I love it.
I could go on about the features, but if you have questions, just ask in the comments.
One new thing- Cycliq has a new front-facing camera and light. I like it, but I don’t love it. I can talk about that in a separate post. For now, just get a Fly6
2. A DIY flat kit.
Here’s what you do- go down to Daiso or an equivalent store and get a school supplies pouch like this one below. Then put in some levers, a small multitool, a spare tube and maybe some pieces from a patch kit. Or perhaps a CO2 canister. Whatever you want. The pouch will easily fit into a jersey pocket, your backpack, whatever.
Want to get a fancy version? Get a pouch from OrNot- they call theirs the MacGyver (pictured next to the cheap pouch from Daiso).
A quick note- there are a LOT of nice ‘makers’ out there, so if you want to get some fancier pouches, look around your area. I’m in SF so I see things from OrNot, Fog City Gear, and Anza Bags quite a bit. Great stuff. There should be someone making something near you. Seek them out.
3. Some Embrocation or Chamois Cream
A nice stocking stuffer. Just beware if you buy embro cream, there are varying levels of heat. So if this is a gift for someone else, try to figure out what they may like ahead of time. Or just get a surprise and try any of the ones from Mad Alchemy.
Yes, socks. Try some fancy ones from Ridge Supply, or some new designs from DeFeet. Need more ideas? Just search on instagram for sockdoping.
5. a bell.
What? A Bell? Seriously. It’s pricey, but a Spur Cycle Bell rocks. In fact I’m about to get a 2nd one for one of my other bikes.
6. Pins, like a poop emoji pin from etsy or elsewhere. For the back-of-the-ear helmet strap, just make sure the pin part isn’t too long. Otherwise, just put it on your backpack. Search on etsy or see other examples like what I’m talking about here.
7. A tune-up gift certificate. Go to your favorite bike shop and ask the mechanics for a gift certificate good for a tune up or other maintenance.
I can’t remember what the other items were from the original post, but if I remember, I’ll add them and update the blog post.
Uniqlo has great t-shirts that you can use for baselayers. Just look for their heattech line, and size down. They’re usually $8, which is a LOT cheaper than other places. That’s more of a roadie-type gift, but it’s a nice one.
Other items that may have been in the original post that are good ideas:
I finally got around to reading Reed and Vanessa’s book after being introduced to it via a SFCC (and Fatcake club) event where Reed spoke to us about the book and answered questions a few months ago.
I actually finished the book in the evenings after I’d catch up on this year’s Tour. It’s amazing that some of the same names are still involved with the sport, but it’s their lives so it shouldn’t surprise me too much.
What did surprise me is how much of a dick Armstrong is. The level of cover ups and money shifting and other stuff is astounding. The strong-arming teammates, etc… ugh. Just read it.
If you’re not into cycling it may take a bit to get ramped up and know who the major players are, but it will be worth your effort. The authors do a good job of explaining who everyone is with their backstories with good anecdotes. It’s a real life soap opera.
I know most people aren’t in to biking or the TdF, but if you are then you should check out this behind-the-scenes episode from the Telegraph Cycling Podcast.
Most of the episodes are about specific stage races but they have periodic episodes under the Kilometer 0 section that are bike-related, but not to specific races. That’s where the episode I linked to above is posted.