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Category Archives: Bicycle Safety

Safety tips for cycling in snow, ice, rain, mud and at night

Dual Power Eyewear Dual SL2 Sunglasses

Several years ago I needed to have eye surgery and when I started looking for a surgeon a good friend of mine, a man who had been blind for about half of his life, insisted that I see on particular because he was “the best.” My friend said, “God only gave you one set of eyes so you better take care of them.” My friend has since passed away, but I remember his advice every time I buy a new pair of cycling glasses. One of my favorite pair of cycling sunglasses is the Dual Eyewear Dual SL2 Sunglasses.

Dual Power Eyewear Dual SL2 Sunglasses

Dual Power Eyewear Dual SL2 Sunglasses

The simplest way to explain the Dual SL2 Sunglasses is to tell you that they are a great pair of sunglasses with a pair of reading glasses built-in. The reading glasses portion is available in three powers (+1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 spot diopters). These sunglasses are incredibly lightweight (only 20 grams) and the shatterproof lenses are made of scratch-resistant polycarbonate. The glasses provide 100% UVA, UVB, and UVC protection. The rubber nose pieces on these glasses are perfect for cyclists—I’ve not had them slip a bit even on off-road trails. The lenses are available in two colors (smoke and brown). In addition to the SL2 Dual Eyewear offers several other models of sunglasses and every pair comes with a nice storage bag/cleaning cloth. They also sell lenses in three other colors: clear for night rides, and both amber and rose lenses for cloudy days.

My distance vision is a perfect 20/20, but I do need a bit of help reading fine print (8 point type or smaller), and especially in low light conditions. I can read a text-message on my iPhone without glasses, but I have trouble reading the very small type found in the maps application. The Dual SL2 Sunglasses look like regular sunglasses, but they have a barely noticeable magnification area built into the lower part of the lenses. What this means is that now you can read even the smallest print on your GPS, bike computer or cell phone without having to switch glasses!

The Dual SL2 Sunglasses retail for $50 online and I would highly recommend that you buy at least two pair. Once you have tried these on your bike you are going to want another pair for your car. After my first bike ride with these glasses I ordered another pair the same day.

The highest bit of praise for these sunglasses came from a U.S. Marine (my youngest son). I had these glasses sitting on my desk when my son came in and picked them up. He doesn’t need the magnification area on the lenses, but when he tried them on he said, “These look and fit better than my Oakleys.” If you know anything about Marines, you know how much they love their expensive Oakley sunglasses!

Dual Power Eyewear is based on Boulder, Colorado. They offer a generous 30-day 100% satisfaction guarantee, but I doubt if you will ever need it—once you try these out you are going to love them!

 

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Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag (Product Review and Giveaway)

Every once in a while I come across a new bicycle product and my first though is, “Why didn’t someone think of this before?” That is exactly the way I felt when the folks at Nite Ize sent me one of their new SaddleLight LED Bike Bags for review. This product combines a weather-resistant bicycle saddle bag, a bright red LED taillight and plenty of reflective piping—and then they threw in a gear tie to make this bag incredibly easy to install.

Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Saddle Bag

Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Saddle Bag

The Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag is made from a water-resistant fabric—this fabric is also UV resistant so it will not suffer damage due to exposure to the sun. This bag only comes in one size—I would call it a medium-sized bag (I own several saddle bags and this bag is neither the largest or smallest). The bag measures 3.6″ H x 3.3″ W x 7.4″ D (91mm x 83mm x 188mm), and weighs just 3.3 ounces (94 grams). This bag is big enough to hold a spare inner tube, patch kit and a couple of CO2 cartridges. There is also a small interior mesh pocket which serves as a great place to keep your cash. If you ever have to dig into this bag in a low-light situation you are going to appreciate the bag’s bright white interior—it makes it so much easier to find things!

Bright Red LED Taillight

Bright Red LED Taillight

Sewn into the back of this bag is a bright red LED taillight that runs on a pair of 2016 3V lithium batteries (one pair included with purchase). This light has both a “constant on” and a flashing mode. You should be able to get about 20 hours of use in the “constant on” mode and a few hours more in the flashing mode. Please be aware that cold weather has a negative impact on battery life.

Reflective Trim On The Nite Ize SaddleLight Bag

Reflective Trim On The Nite Ize SaddleLight Bag

The sides of this bag are outlined with a thick strip of passive reflective trim. Since I spend a lot of time riding at night or in low-light situations I always appreciate reflective elements being incorporated into my cycling gear. Light bulbs burn out, batteries die and mounting brackets break—but reflective piping will always be there! This bag attaches under your saddle rails with a hook and loop strap and to your seat post with a re-useable Gear Tie Rubber Twist Tie.

The Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag retails for around $33 and is available from the Nite Ize Website. When you consider that you are really getting two products (a saddle bag and a taillight) the price seems very reasonable.

If you would like a chance to win a brand-new Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag then leave a comment below telling me why you need this bag. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, April 19, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose a winner based solely on my incredibly subjective mood at the time—however, humor in your entry is highly encouraged (just keep it clean). If you don’t need this bag yourself you are free to comment on other entries. So I can remain impartial until the contest is over I will not be responding the comments. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 

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How To Stop Dogs From Chasing Cyclists

I like dogs—they are usually friendly, fiercely loyal and have more common sense than a lot of people I know. Unfortunately, they can be extremely territorial and, like some motorists, they think they own the road (or at least the road in front of where they live). When a dog chases a cyclist it is usually because the dog thinks he is doing his job, i.e., protecting his property.

Halt! Dog Repellent

Halt! Dog Repellent

I wish I could tell you that I am always able to outrun dogs, but the truth is that sometimes I can’t, and beyond that, some dogs seem to come out of nowhere and attack without warning. You will never really know how fast you can pedal your bike until you are being chased by an angry Rottweiler. From personal experience I can tell that having a dog chase you is a great bit of motivation.

I always carry Halt! Dog Repellent with me on nighttime rides, off-road trails, and when I am checking out a new route for the first time. I started carrying Halt! Dog Repellent several years ago after two small dogs refused to allow me to get past them on a bike trail. It finally took a well-placed rock the size of a softball for the mutts to back off and let me pass.

Halt! Dog Repellent contains capsaicin (chili-peppers) and shoots out a pressurized spray that has an effective range of about 10 feet. This product has been used by the U.S. Postal Service for 35 years and works well. A couple of years ago I was on a bike trail when a dog came out of nowhere and was very intent on sinking his teeth into my right ankle. I pulled out the Halt! Dog Repellent and just as I was about to spray it the dog apparently recognized the can and ran away. I can only imagine that somewhere along the way that dog had a postal worker introduce him to Halt! Dog Repellent and he decided not to try it again.

Last spring a little ankle-biter chased after me and I could have outrun him, but it was on a very busy road and I was worried that some other cyclist might get hit by a car while trying to avoid this little creature. I stopped my bike by the side of the road and was about to spray the dog when a little boy came running out of the house calling for his dog. When the boy got close to me I told him that I like dogs, but I don’t like being chased. I then said, “Son, if your dog chases me again I am going to spray him with this can of pepper spray—he won’t like it, but it won’t kill him. Now go inside your house and tell your parents what I told you.” A few days later I was back on that same road and the little ankle-biter came running after me again, so I stopped and gave him a face full of pepper spray—he took off running towards the house yipping like you wouldn’t believe. Before any of you dog-lovers get upset I want you to know that I probably saved his life—he had to dart into traffic just to chase me and it would only be a matter of time before he got hit by a car. The good news is that the rest of the year the dog decided to stay on the front porch of the house every time I went by.

On off-road night rides I run into a lot of varmints (both four-legged and two-legged) and I always feel safer knowing I have a can of Halt! Dog Repellent in my jersey. You can find Halt! Dog Repellent at many bike shops—if the shop you use doesn’t carry it you can easily find it on Amazon.com.

 
54 Comments

Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Bicycle Safety

 

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Nathan 3M Reflective Tape

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape

I love riding my bikes at night and have purchased several headlights and taillights so I can ride safely. Powerful battery operated headlights allow you to see where you are going, and flashing taillights make your presence known to cars up to a mile away. However, since batteries die, lamps burn out and mounting brackets break, I always have a bit of reflective gear with me as well. Most jerseys have a bit of reflective piping—I guess that is better than nothing, but if you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to be seen at night without the need of batteries I would suggest you check out Nathan 3M Reflective Tape.

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape is one inch wide and comes in a 27-inch strip—it can be applied to your bike, helmet, saddlebags or any other hard surface. This tape has a very strong self-adhesive backing, so it should be considered permanent—and it is very easy to cut to any length you need. This reflective tape comes in three colors: Yellow, Pink, and Orange. I prefer the yellow tape since I think it stands out more than the other color choices. Nathan Sports claims that this tape is “100–200 times more visible than non-reflective clothing in low-light conditions.”

When I travel out of town with one of my bikes I usually carry it on a Yakima bike rack that mounts in the 2″ hitch receiver on my Jeep. Unfortunately, this bike rack sticks out a couple of feet past the rear bumper on the Jeep and I’m always afraid someone is going to run into it—so I applied Nathan 3M Reflective Tape on three sides of it and now it is visible from a long way off!

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape retails for $10 and is available at many sporting good stores, like R.E.I., The Sports Authority, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. I was also able to find it on Amazon.com for $7. While there are hundreds of safety products available for your bike, this one has to be one of the most cost-effective products you can find for cycling at night. By the way, this product is made in USA.

 

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SixSixOne Rage Elbow Soft Shell Pad

Three times in the past four years I’ve had a “parting of the ways” with one of my bikes. Unfortunately, I was always in the process of riding the bike when we parted ways—and when we went different directions it was always when I was riding on solid ice. Fortunately, the only thing I’ve hurt so far has been my pride, but to make sure I wouldn’t break an elbow this winter I started wearing SixSixOne Rage Elbow Soft Shell Pads when heading out on the ice.

SixSixOne Rage Elbow Soft Shell Pad

SixSixOne Rage Elbow Soft Shell Pad

SixSixOne Rage Elbow Soft Shell Pads easily slip over your arm and are held in place with a Velcro closure. Since most people wear this product in the summer for BMX or mountain biking it has several features to improve breathability, such as vented side padding and perforated neoprene construction. The area around your elbow has an internal hard cap protector and side-impact protection thanks to EVA foam padding. I was able to fit these pads under my winter cycling jacket without any trouble or loss of flexibility.

Side View Of The SixSixOne Rage Elbow Soft Shell Pad

Side View Of The SixSixOne Rage Elbow Soft Shell Pad

I didn’t use these pads on every ride this winter—they were reserved for days when we had sleet and ice falling from the sky or when I knew I was going to be riding over a frozen pond. Riding over frozen ponds is easy since my steel studded tires grip the ice well—the problem comes when you make the transition from the ice to the bank. While on the ice there is almost nothing to slow your forward momentum, but when you hit the shore your front tire slows down immediately while your rear tire is still at full speed—and that’s the best way to FDGB (Fall Down Go Boom).

SixSixOne Rage Elbow Soft Shell Pads come in four sizes (S, M, L, XL) and retail for $50. They are available at larger bicycle shops, as well as online retailers like Amazon.com and CompetitiveCyclist.com. SixSixOne also sells knee guards and they retail for $60 a pair.

 

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Giro Encore 2 Multi-Sport Helmet

The days are getting longer and the average daily temperature is gradually beginning to rise—so this week I’m going to review a couple more winter cycling products, and then next week we’ll move on to warmer weather cycling gear. I always wear a helmet when I’m on my bike, but those lightweight summer helmets with the large air vents just won’t cut it in the dead of winter. When the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit I wear a helmet that is normally intended for snow skiing. This past winter I bought a Giro Encore 2 Multi-Sport Helmet and was very happy with the way it performed.

Giro Encore 2 Multi-Sport Helmet

Giro Encore 2 Multi-Sport Helmet

The Giro Encore 2 is certified as a multi-sport helmet, which means it is suitable for use by skaters, bicyclists, and snow skiers (certification: ASTM 2040 / CE EN1077 / CPSC). If you experience an unplanned dismount (crash is such an ugly word) while riding in deep snow you probably aren’t going to get hurt. However, snow can also hide some nasty rocks, broken fence posts and sharp objects—not to mentioned a layer of slippery ice.

Goggle Strap on the Giro Encore 2 helmet

Goggle Strap on the Giro Encore 2 helmet

Unlike regular bicycle helmets, snow helmets usually allow for a bit of customization. The Giro Encore 2 has removable ear flaps (black padding). These covers will definitely help keep your ears warm, but they do inhibit your ability to hear ambient noises. If you are riding off-road where you are not worried about getting hit by a car, you can install a set of Skullcandy headphones into these ear flaps (like the Skullcandy Home Brew Kit). All of my winter cycling jackets have headphone ports—a small opening inside a vest pocket so you can run a headphone jack into your iPhone or MP3 player. And let’s face it, riding in a blinding snowstorm is a lot easier when you are listening to Air Supply (does that officially make me old?)

This helmet has thirteen small cooling vents with mesh covers (the mesh helps keep the snow out). When the temperature drops to below -5F I wear a Smith Optics Variant Brim Snow Helmet that has air vents I can close. Also, because this is a snow helmet, you can wear snow goggles and when you don’t need them they will rest comfortably on the front of the helmet without falling off (there is a small clip at the back to keep the goggles from moving around).

Giro Encore 2

I Love The Red Accents

The Giro Encore 2 Multi-Sport Helmet retails for $60. I bought mine at a brick-and-mortar Dick’s Sporting Goods store and paid full-retail for it, but it is also available from several online retailers, including Amazon.com. This helmet is available in three sizes: Small (52–55.5cm), Medium (55.5–59cm), and Large (59–62.5cm). This helmet comes in several colors, but since the names they use won’t mean much to you, I’ll say the color selection is red, black, white, hi-viz yellow, and ivory (not all colors are available in all sizes). I chose the red helmet because, in my opinion, red objects are the easiest to see in the snow. Sometimes I have to ride on the same off-road trails used by snowmobiles—and getting hit by one of those things could make for a really bad day.

 

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Looking At My Road ID In The Back Of An Ambulance

Like everyone says, “I never thought it would happen to me!” Two weeks ago I left home for a quick 50 mile bike ride and an hour later I was sitting in the back of an ambulance. I had ridden through the back roads of southeast Wisconsin and cut through a small, quiet neighborhood to avoid riding on a major highway. Less than a block into the neighborhood and guy in a large Ford work truck cut a corner too wide and we nearly had a head-on collision—I headed off into the gravel to avoid the grill of his truck. I yelled at the guy (hereafter known as The Jerk) and he slammed on his brakes, got out of his truck and started yelling at me. The Jerk told me that cyclists have no right to be on the road and that he was sick of them “ruining his neighborhood.” The Jerk was a lot bigger than me and had a face that resembled an armpit. As he was yelling I stood straddling my bike and out of nowhere The Jerk hit me in the chest with both fists—I was knocked off my bike with great force and hit the pavement hard, then rolled back into a side ditch. Even though I was a bit dazed I remember The Jerk yelling, “If I ever see you back in this neighborhood I am going to kill you!”

Road ID Dog Tags

Road ID Stainless Steel Dog Tags

Fortunately, a woman in the neighborhood saw what happened and called the police and an ambulance—the double punch to the chest knocked the air out of my lungs and I has having trouble breathing. A few minutes later an ambulance showed up along with a couple of great paramedics. While I really didn’t think I needed an ambulance, the paramedics insisted that I get “checked out” anyway. As they were checking my breathing the ambulance driver opened the door and told them to lock it because The Jerk was back. The punches to my chest and the impact of the fall triggered my first asthma attack in over ten years and as the paramedics were asking questions about my health I had trouble answering. It was at that point I was so happy I was wearing my Road ID dog tags. If needed, these tags could give all the needed medical information to the paramedics.

Road ID makes high quality stainless steel identification cards—depending on the style you choose, they can be worn on your wrist, ankle, shoe or around your neck. The information on the cards is laser engraved and this provides a very crisp and easy to read tag. I’ve worn Road ID products for a long time and would never go out for a bike ride without them. At first I used the ID that attaches to your cycling shoes, but about five years ago I switched to the dog tag version. Regardless of which tag your choose, it can be engraved with your basic emergency contact information.

Road ID tags start at around $20, and for only $10 a year you can add emergency response support, i.e., your tag will give paramedics and emergency room personnel a secure Website so they can get access to detailed medical information and emergency contact information for you (for when you cannot give the info yourself). The secure Website gives them as much information as you allow, but I have my health insurance information, allergies, name and address of my family doctor and a list of the medications I take on file.

In case you were wondering about what happened to The Jerk, I will finish the story. When I exited the ambulance I saw two police cars and The Jerk was sitting in the backseat of one of them (in handcuffs). Apparently, he admitted to the police that he hit me and when the cops ran his name they found out he was wanted on an outstanding warrant, so they cuffed him and were going to take him to jail—he could not get bailed out until he appeared before the judge who had issued the warrant.

The cops asked if I wanted to press charges. I would have said yes, but as I was talking to one of the cops The Jerk’s wife arrived (the police called her to take custody of his truck). Believe it or not, I had spoken to this woman back in March when she was teaching her little boy how to ride a bike! Even though she was crying because her husband was being taken away to jail for the outstanding warrant she came over to apologize for his actions.

I told the cops that I did not want to press charges against The Jerk. My reasoning was this: If the idiot had no problem hitting me then I’m sure he wouldn’t have any trouble hitting his wife as well. Since I didn’t want to make her life any more miserable than it probably already was, I decided not to press charges because I thought he would take his anger out on her when he got home. The woman thanked me and then said they had a fight just before he left the house that morning—which explained why he was in such a bad mood to begin with!

One more note: I have not told my wife about this incident yet and I am trying to think of the best time to do it. At the moment it seems like the day after she drops me off at the nursing home would be a good time.

 
149 Comments

Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Bicycle Safety, Product Reviews

 

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