The Belkin team car gives an insight into their training regime to get ready for this years Tour de France. I’m not sure this would work so well in less cycling-fanatic countries where the teams are less famous.
A few weeks before crashing out of the Tour, Chris Froome became the first person to ride from the UK to France. I think this would make an interesting TT stage, although there might be some challenges to overcome regarding live broadcasting.
More than half a century before Bradley Wiggins secured the first overall Tour de France win for Britain, Yorkshireman Brian Robinson was pioneering the way on the Continent to become Great Britain’s first Tour de France rider and also the first British stage winner.
In 1958, Brian was second across the line on Stage 7 into Brest. However, following relegation of Arigo Pavan for an incident at an earlier intermediate sprint, he became the first British stage winner. The following year on Stage 20, Brian attacked and took line honours by some 20 minutes; although he’d pay a heavy price the day after and narrowly avoid elimination1.
Brian Robinson in the 1959 Tour de France.
Today, at the age of 83, Brian still rides a couple of times a week, and was planning on riding some of the route of Stage 2 between York and Sheffield.
1st British National Hill Climb Championships
Stage win, Tour d’Europe
1st Tour of Pennines
1st Grand Prix de Nice, La Forteresse
Winner stage 7 Tour de France Stage win Tour du Sud-Est 1st pursuit and omnium, de Guecho, with Jacques Anquetil
Winner stage 20 Tour de France
Stage wins Tour de l’Aude and Midi Libre
1st Criterium du Dauphine Libere Stage win Circuit d’Auvergne
There was a rule that prevented elimination of the top 10 riders, Robinson was in 9th↑
I picked these guys up on San Francisco last year, but never posted a picture. Designed by Huck Gee, who’s stuff is awesome, but unfortunately mostly out of my price range (and I have no space!). These ones are Feral Girl, Copter Boy and Robot Geisha.
About a year ago, the See.Sense bike light popped up on my radar and I decided to back it on KickStarter. Last week, some four months later than originally advertised, it finally arrived at my door.
What’s in the box
Inside my DHL- delivered parcel is a rather nicely designed (recycled cardboard) box with the light visible through a little cut-out window. Not quite from the Apple design school, but aesthetically pleasing and gives all the information you might want if you were shopping for a new light.
After you undo the little sticker keeping the box closed and inside you’ll find the light along with two bungee-fasteners, instruction sheet and the worlds shortest USB cable. My light has green bits as it was one of the options for KickStarter backers.
The front of the light features clear plastic with fresnel lens built in for focusing, which is joined to the black back section and sealed with the green rubber strip. Under one side of the sealing strip is the USB port which will help keep it away from the direct water spray from the rear tyre.
See.Sense is essentially an ‘augmented’ light with a few sensors built in to adjust intensity and flash patterns depending on what data they receive. I’ve been using a 1W SuperFlash for a couple of years but thought that this looked (a) brighter and (b) more waterproof.
One thing of note is that there is no switch to turn the light on or off. Instead, you rotate the light left and right four times, at which point it will display the battery level before starting to flash.
To mount the light, you just grab one of the rubber bungees and strap it around your seat post. There aren’t any alternative fittings for seat stays or aero-posts, so if you don’t have enough space beneath your saddle or ride something with an aggressively aero design, you might have some issues.
Its rather hard to evaluate the lights response to conditions as when you are on the bike it is underneath and behind you! From the testing I’ve managed to do, I’ve found the following:
Daylight running – slow flash every second
Low light – faster flash
Stopping/turning/car headlights – fast flash for 10 seconds.
Car Headlights – full on disco flash.
It was hard to assess the light in true darkness – doing laps of the unlit Centennial Park, it would settle down to a slow flash but would sometimes kick up to full disco. I’m not entirely sure why, but it might have been from stray light in the area.
I figured it would be tricky to get representative video of the flash pattern (due to too much light flooding out the camera), I decided to try and illustrate the brightness using a timed exposure instead, where the f-stop and ISO were also controlled.
The animation below shows the control condition (10 seconds, f3.5), a PlanetBike 1W SuperFlash, and finally the See.Sense. It should be fairly apparent as to which is which!
This animation probably down-plays the brightness of the SuperFlash – it is pretty bright from behind, it just doesn’t throw a huge amount of light downwards.
One aspect that I hadn’t really appreciated to start of with is how much light is thrown downwards, letting you ride in a pool of light, helping make you extra visible.
The See.Sense lets you adjust some of the settings (sensor use, brightness and flash on/off) to fit your preferences – It’s possible that if you ride in a bunch then full brightness might be a bit much for your riding partners. Again, since there are no buttons, a series of gestures are used. I found it a bit awkward at first but made more sense after a while and it seemed to work better once I started holding it upside-down for customising. It’s similar to changing the settings on a GoPro – lots of doing the same thing to step through menus. Maybe the See.Sense2 will include a BTLE chip and allow configuration through an app.
In the words of a famous tech-reviewing sporting blog writer, the average crowd funded project ‘will be late and under-deliver’, so is this true in case of See.Sense?
Late? – Yes. Shipping slipped around five months but at least the developers kept backers up to date with regular notifications and reasons for the delays.
Under-deliver? – Kinda. It wasn’t till recently I discovered that is no physical on-off switch as you turn it on with a series of gestures. The big upside of this is no switch to get wet and go wrong, however the downside is you have to physically remove the unit turn it on and then refit it – No reaching down behind you while riding if you feel you need some lighting as you go down a woody descent. The second feature that didn’t make it is the ‘time-out’ function were the light would work out you’d stopped for coffee or hung your bike up at the end of the ride. This is very disappointing – I guess I’ll just get used to fitting the light before every ride to turn it on. I’d really hoped to be able to grab it down from the wall and not have to faff.
Very bright (120 lumen model) – approaching the levels of a Dinotte 300R
Good flash patterns
Rechargeable with 12 hour+ battery life
Have to remove to turn on and off
Limited fitting options
Not especially group-ride friendly
Website could really do with a ‘how it works and how it responds’ section.
From what I’ve seen so far, the See.Sense is a really great light. I feel that the lack of on/off switch and the time-out functions are annoying but not major drawbacks (the original Ay-Up lights lacked any means of turning them off as well). I really hope a later version introduces these functions and includes smartphone connectivity for changing the settings.
Making money as long as possible at the moment meant that the last chain suffered through some 10,000km of abuse. The wear-gauge showed it was between 0.75% and 1.0% stretched, so a new cassette was in order as well.
First off, this post should be prefaced with this quote from the CamelBak site:
Do not disassemble small parts of the cap JetValve. Disassembly of the plastic cap could lead to leaks or product malfunction.
As a longtime user of CamelBak Podium bottles I’ve learned two things about them:
1. They did in fact, improve on the traditional bidon and make them awesome.
2. They are a total nightmare to keep clean.
Since I don’t have a dishwasher, I’ve taken to disassembling the cap as far as possible to help clean it out. The process is pretty straightforward, and, as long as you are careful, non-destructive.
First off, give the silicone nozzle a good turn through 90 degrees. This then allows you to get a good grip underneath it to separate it from the rest of the cap.
Once the nozzle is off, grab a sharp/thin knife and slide it into the notch between the white collar and the grey bit below. With a bit of pressure you should be able to slip the blade in and with a little twist, release the white ring.
At this point, you should now have the cap, nozzle, white ring and blue diaphragm. Most likely you’ll also see everything covered with black gunk as well – time to get scrubbing!
Unfortunately, this is as far as you can go with disassembly – I’ve not managed to find a way to safely separate the remaining parts of the cap – a pain since the gap between the two parts is a prime spot for nastiness.
You’ll probably find the threads on the cap a bit gunked up too, so using the corner of a tea-towel, work it into the thread and keep turning the cap till you clean out all the gunk.
Once all the parts are de-crudded, I like to throw everything in a pot with a chlorine tablet and leave it over night, just to kill off anything that’s left. Give it a good rinse afterwards and rebuild.
One of the keys to easy cleaning is actually preventative maintenance – ideally take the bottles off straight after a ride, give them a rinse and clean before letting them dry. This doesn’t completely alleviate the nastiness though, as there is plenty of on-bike time for things to grow.
Since I started the draft of this post, I’ve seen that CamelBak are releasing a new version of the Podium bottle which will be easier to clean and have a removable valve.