Urban Velo

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Issue #42 – Available Online

Erok with the VAYA bagContents Include: Utilitarian Bicycles in China, City Report: Washington DC, Gallery: SF Courier Portraits, Redhook Crit Women’s Race, World Naked Bike Ride. Product Spotlight: Marin, SRAM, Detroit Cargo, Abbey Bike Tools, Product Reviews: Fuji, Knog, Hiplok, Vaya and more, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Worksman Cycles, Know Your Derailleur Limits, No Exit, and The Almanzo 100.

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City Report – Washington DC

Washington DC
By Michelle Cleveland

Photos by Kevin Dillard – www.demoncats.com

City: Washington, DC

Nickname: DC, the Nation’s Capitol, Dead City

Claim to Fame: You’ve got Obama’s House, a bunch of suits walking around Capitol Hill, Ben’s Chili Bowl, cherry blossoms, mumbo sauces, and of course chicken and waffles.

History in 100 Words or Less: The US capital was originally located in Philadelphia. But in 1790, a new location between Maryland and Virginia along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers was chosen by George Washington and DC was officially established as the nation’s capital. The city was designed by a Frenchman to appear reminiscent of Paris. Most of the city burnt to the ground during the War of 1812. In 1963, MLK, Jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Lincoln Memorial as part of the March on Washington.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 12.19.31 AMRandom Fact: When John Denver was playing a two-week gig in 1970 at a venue long gone called The Cellar Door in DC, two fellow musicians told him about song they were working on while driving through winding roads of Maryland. When Denver heard what was to become “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” he just had to have it, even though it was meant for Johnny Cash. Now, Denver’s iconic folk song is a symbol of mountains and West Virginia, even though it started here in DC.

City’s Terrain: Mostly a flat city, DC does seem full of one-way streets, diagonal nightmares, and lots of traffic downtown. The small neighborhoods of DC stemming out from downtown are very bikeable, especially on side streets. The city has seen a good amount of bike infrastructure in the past few years, with a beautiful long cycletrack down Pennsylvania Ave., and two additional separated cycletracks downtown. The area east of the River, the Anacostia neighborhoods, have close to zero bike infrastructure and are extremely hilly.

Weather Forecast: We get beautiful springtime and fall weather, perfect for bike riding with Cherry blossoms and fall leaves in Rock Creek Park. But DC feels like a southern city in the summertime with high humidity and grueling heat. The winters are fairly mild and we typically only get a few good snowfalls a year (except for this winter which was record breaking cold).

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 12.21.02 AMTop Shop(s): DC has so many bike shops and they each offer mechanics and shop owners with different personalities so it’s hard to choose. My personal favorite shop is the Bike Rack because of their laid back and friendly vibe. I’ve always had good service at Revolution Cycles in Georgetown. And the guys and gals that work at CycleLife, Capitol Hill Bikes, CityBikes, and Bicycle Space are all stellar folks.

Best Watering Hole(s): GBD near Dupont is my favorite bar with it’s very good “stiff punch.” American Ice Company serves its beer in mason jars and has Swachos (BBQ pork nachos). Lucky Bar is where the messengers hang out after work, so there’s always someone to talk to and they’ve got cheap beer. The Pug has got hands down the best atmosphere at a bar. And Smoke and Barrel is the best for your craft beer nerds.

Authentic Local Food: Ben’s Chili Bowl with their chili cheese fries and just about any brunch spot with their chicken and waffles. Also mumbo sauce. Not sure what it is, but you can put it on pretty much anything from fries to wings to maybe even waffles.

Must See: The Old Post Office tower. It’s thought to be a tourist attraction so it took me a few years to go up and see the view, but it’s a towering view of the city you’ll never see anywhere else. And a sunset from Meridian Hill Park in the summertime is just beautiful.

Must Ride: Definitely ride down the Pennsylvania Ave. cycletrack at night heading east, with a view of the Capitol dome right in front of you. The Anacostia Riverwalk trail across the river is tree-lined. Rock Creek Park is where roadies ride on the weekends and you feel like you’re not even in a city anymore.

Best Time to Visit: Just not the summertime, or any major holiday. Too many tourists. Come for a DC bike event to see what the city is really like, such as one of our annual alleycats (Dead City for Halloween is my favorite), DC’s Eastside Thaw polo tourney in March or a monthly DC Bike Party ride.

Need For Speed: DC’s probably always had bike messengers, and a lot of the ones we still have today have been at it for years. There’s at least half a dozen alley cats per year, hosted by local couriers or bike kids, with the number growing. One of the favorites is the Presidential Inaugural alley cat—no other city can do that. DC also hosts one epic cyclocross race each year, DCCX, on a golf course at the Old Soldiers Home, which also houses President Lincoln’s Cottage.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 12.19.36 AMTwo Wheeled Celebrities: Older couriers like Scrooge and Bruce—everyone knows them. They’re legends. Lia who started and runs DC Bike Party somehow got 500 or so folks out on their bikes each month. And very recently, the Chocolate City Cycling crew.

Top Tourist Attraction(s): It’s DC, so of course anything that has to do with the president, Congress, and the Smithsonian. Walk along the National Mall, take your photo in front of the White House, and stand at the feet of Lincoln at his memorial.

Advocacy: The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, DC’s only bike advocacy non-profit, has been around since 1972. Over the years they have won major victories like getting the Capital Crescent Trail (an 11-mile rail trail from Georgetown to Silver Spring, MD), Beach Drive (a beautiful winding forested road in middle of the city) closed to motorists on weekends, and bike access on public transit. WABA launched an innovative workshop program, Women & Bicycles, to get more ladies on bikes. They host bike rides and social events throughout the year, monitor local trails through the Trail Rangers program, and do friendly outreach in the bike lanes with the Bike Ambassador program.

Locals Only: For those with cross bikes, Kingman Island in the Potomac is a secret and awesome spot to get some gravel and cross action in. And if you want to practice sprinting or work on your pace line skills, meet up with a group at Haines Point to do almost car-free laps. If you’re really legit, apparently there’s a superfast pace line at noon everyday called the Power Hour.

Check out www.waba.org

The Raleigh Bunch Contest

raleigh-bunch-header

From Raleigh:

Raleigh simply wants to give 2 deserving “families” a complete set of bikes (up to $2500 MSRP) I use quotes around “families” as this is a very loose term…we just want to give deserving people bikes.

It’s a nomination style submission. Like we state…we all know some pretty amazing people, that do amazing things, and ask very little in return. This is a great opportunity to submit a simple ‘thank you’…and have Raleigh provide them with new bikes.

We’re not asking for anything out of this. No email sign up. No ‘likes’ to our FB page. We just want an opportunity to pay it forward. (you do have to register to submit…but that’s so we can contact people later on)

Submission is easy. Either type some quick words telling why these people deserve new bikes…or submit a video. The video doesn’t have to be fancy…it can be video just talking about the people. (no need for editing…fades…explosions)

After the final submission date…we’ll evaluate the top submissions. Pick out 6. We’ll then follow up with the top 6 and do an equal and fair write up (or video) on all 6 and post them up for voting. The top 2 get bikes.

Check out http://bit.ly/raleighBunch

Rest in Peace, Fast Boy

It’s with great sadness that we report that Ezra Caldwell has passed away. Known to many for his prodigious photography, to some as a skilled woodworker, to others as a creative bicycle framebuilder, and to many as a friend and an inspiration, Ezra battled cancer like few ever will, in full view of the public and with neither an apology nor a request for sympathy.

We at Urban Velo are forever grateful for Ezra’s contributions, for his friendship and for the encouragement he gave us. To his wife, Hillary, as well as his friends and family we extend our most heartfelt condolences.

Rest in peace, Fast Boy. Rest in peace.

Lezyne Phone Wallet

Lezyne Phone WalletThe Zezyne Phone Wallet is a nice accessory for the minimalist cyclist on the go. You can pack your phone, a couple credit cards, your ID, and some cash into the designated compartments, then stash the whole thing in your jersey pocket or in your bag.

The touchscreen friendly window inside lets you operate your mobile device, and the pocket is large enough to make the iPhone seem puny. While it is nice (and perhaps even necessary) to be able to accommodate large devices and even ones inside protective cases, the end result is a rather large wallet (145 x 100 x 25 mm). It’s too big to comfortably hold in your front pocket, which is where I normally carry my phone.

While the wallet is water resistant, it is nowhere near waterproof. If exposed to a serious downpour it could let a considerable amount of water into the phone compartment at the point where the zipper comes to a close. On the bright side, the overall construction is top notch, and the materials seem durable enough that the wallet might outlive the phone it’s designed to carry.

The Lezyne Phone Wallet retails for $20 and comes in grey or black. Check out www.lezyne.com

Aero Tech Designs Men’s Urban Pedal Pushers Commuter Dress Shirt

Aero Tech Designs Men's Urban Pedal Pushers Commuter Dress ShirtThe Urban Pedal Pushers Commuter Dress Shirt from Aero Tech Designs is, among other things, quite a mouthful. So from here on, I’ll refer to it as the Commuter Dress Shirt. But first allow me to introduce Aero Tech Designs, or ATD if you will. Not a new company by any stretch of the imagination, they manufactured the Olympic uniforms for the 1982 American cycling team. And they’re exceedingly proud to be able to put “made in USA” on their products.

The Commuter Dress Shirt is wrinkle free, and touted as being “ideal for travel” so I took them to task and brought my two samples to Japan for a two-week cross country trip. While “wrinkle free” might be a bit of a misnomer, they looked good enough for me to eat at one of the finest restaurants in Tokyo, yet they were technical enough for me to stay comfortable while walking eight hours in Kyoto with a raincoat on top. And I think the Commuter Dress Shirt actually contributed to my bowling abilities, or at least I can’t blame it for missing that 7-10 split in Nagoya.

DSC_1294The cut is pretty relaxed, which I appreciate. Some of the casual/commuter clothing I’ve tried on as of late seems to be made for people with pipe cleaners for arms. I’m not Popeye, but I need room to move and the Commuter Dress Shirt provides it. Normally I prefer my cycling shirts to be as simple as possible—I seldom if ever use the rear pockets—but I did find myself grateful for the zippered chest pockets. I especially like zippered pockets when I travel, not so much for fear of pickpockets, but for the peace of mind that I won’t be losing anything valuable.

The fabric is very lightweight, and slightly stretchable, which lends an additional level of comfort. It’s made of 88% spun nylon and 12% recycled polyester. Unlike traditional cotton shirts, when you roll up the sleeves on the Commuter Dress Shirt, you aren’t left feeling like you’ve got a bulky mass at the elbow. The lightweight fabric also bodes well for wearing the Commuter Dress Shirt on hot and sunny days when UV protection is important. ATD claims the fabric has a ultraviolet sun protection factor of 50 plus, which should please my friends in Arizona. And for my friends back in soggy Pennsylvania, the fabric has a water-resistant coating that makes those surprise thunderstorms a little less bothersome.

About the only complaint I can level at ATD is that I lost a button. One. And really, they provided extras, so I guess I’ll keep my mouth shut. The Commuter Dress Shirt retails for $50. Check out www.aerotechdesigns.com

Ilumenox Slash USB

Ilumenox Slash USBPretty much every urban cyclist needs bike lights, but almost every urban cyclist’s needs are a little different. Some need extreme brightness, others need long battery life. And different bikes require different mounting options. This keeps the light manufacturers busy, and arguably, happy. Take for example, our friends at Ilumenox. The Taiwanese light manufacturer already has an array of lights, not to mention it’s offerings under the brand names S-Sun and Skully.

Ilumenox Slash USBThe Slash USB is a decidedly modern looking light, with five SMD LED bulbs, numerous beveled edges and a narrow profile that makes it look like it belongs on a fast bike. And that’s no accident, as the Slash USB is designed to fit aero seatposts, carbon fork blades and any number of shapes. But it’s equally at home on a round seatpost, mountain bike handlebars or even strapped to a bike rack. With three different sized elastomers and an optional rubber mounting pad provided, the mounting system is extremely versatile.

DSC_1282The Slash USB is reasonably bright with good runtimes (up to 12 hours for the white light, 9.5 max for the red light). As a headlight, it’s more for being seen than for seeing, though it will get you home if the streetlights go out. As a taillight it’s excellent, providing more than 180° of visibility. Unfortunately, the headlight is also visible from more than 180°, which means it might cast light back towards the rider depending on how it’s mounted.

DSC_1278Of course the Slash USB is rechargeable. I’m a fan of this particular design, which incorporates the male USB input jack into the light unit, eliminating the need for a cable.

DSC_1289Both the red and white lights are available in five different body colors and retail for $35.29. Check out www.ilumenox.com

WOHO Flying Fender

WOHO Flying FenderWhen I was a kid, the very essence of cool was simplicity. My friends and I wanted our bikes stripped down—no reflectors, no kickstands, no safety pads. Fenders? Forget about it!

A certain part of me still hangs on to that childhood ideal. While I’m certainly older and wiser, and admit that fenders serve a very useful purpose, I generally prefer not to have them on my bike. Enter the removable fender. There have been several on the market for many years, but in recent years a few companies have introduced easily removable, foldable models. Of those, WOHO’s Flying Fender is among the best. It’s also the only model (to my knowledge) that claims to be made from non-toxic, biodegradable material, presumably a treated polyethylene.

DSC_1266Like most fenders of this sort, it’s shipped flat, cut, scored and perforated. You pop it out of the excess plastic, fold it according to the directions and use the hook and loop fastener strap to mount the fender. The Flying Fender is not only made for the rear wheel, it can be mounted to the downtube (hence the inclusion of a second strap).

Speaking of the straps, one side is coated with a non-slip material, This seems to be the key in keeping the Flying Fender from flying off to the side while you ride. I’m not saying it can’t be moved, but it stays in place remarkably well. When the fender is not in use, it can be simply rolled up and stowed away, or curled around any convenient tube on your bike.

WOHO Flying FenderThe Flying Fender comes in two sizes, M for road (70 x 10.5 cm, 45 g) and L for mountain (70 x 14.5 cm, 50 g). Both models come with two straps, and either size retails for $6. And they come in at least 10 different colors. Check out www.wohobike.com

Cinelli Mystic Rats Contest Winner

BuzzCongratulations to Buzz Morley of Charlotte, NC. He’ll soon be riding a brand new Cinelli Mystic Rats. An extra large one, at that!

When reached for comment, Buzz said:

I’m a bike share balancer. I get to see a lot nice fixed/SS everyday as I bike-trailer 150 lbs of bikes around Uptown Charlotte. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t covet one of my own for that next alleycat. Winning a Cinelli Mystic Rats is awesome. Upping my chance to finish top 3 in the upcoming Zombie Race? Priceless.

Stay tuned for upcoming contests and prizes.

Levi’s Commuter Work Shirt

Levi's Commuter Work ShirtThe Commuter Work Shirt comes from Levi’s Fall 2013 collection. Although it’s no longer on the Levi’s website, online retailers still a handful of these in circulation, and I imagine the same goes for a few brick and mortar outlets, as well.

Let’s get down to brass tacks—this is a sharp looking shirt. Long sleeves, hidden buttons, zippered chest pocket and technical fabric that doesn’t look like technical fabric. Said fabric is 66% cotton, 31% polyester and 3% spandex with 3XDRY treatment. It’s water-repellent, moisture-wicking and breathable.

The cut of the shirt did not exactly suit me—it’s a lot better suited for people who are truly fit. People like my neighbor Sam (pictured) who’s a certified athletic trainer, road racer and genuinely good guy. After I gave the shirt a few rides, Sam put it through the wringer and came back with positive comments, including that he was surprised at how it didn’t encumber his movements or position on the bike (Levi’s touts gusseted shoulders for improved mobility) and that the fabric felt very appropriate for mild weather (hence its origin in the Fall collection).

The Commuter Work Shirt retails for $88. Check out www.levi.com

City Reports