Archive for November 2012

Electronics vs. Real World Riding   Leave a comment

Trek Domane Duo Trap

Black Friday.  Small Business Saturday.  Cyber Monday.  The holiday retail season is in full force, and across the country, people are looking for gifts for their friends and loved ones.  These days, much of this gift giving will consist of video games, computers, iPads, TVs, and other electronic devices that can be useful, educational, fun, and help instantly connect us to people and information.  At the same time, the modern holiday electronics haul tends to include gifts that make these connections less personal, and that keep us indoors, sitting still, “connected” to a simulated reality.

Ok, you see where this is going…we’re a bike shop and we’re going to advocate that you buy bikes and bike-related accessories as gifts.  That’s actually not where this edition of the blog is going.  If anything, the electronic age is upon us and in some cases there is an absolute need for technology in today’s society.  Many of today’s devices enhance our lives in ways that simply weren’t possible a generation ago.  Trying to avoid this reality would be disingenuous.  Nevertheless, the need for things like bikes has shifted in today’s society, and in some ways it has become even more important.

Of course, we love bikes, and think that bikes and cycling-related gifts for cyclists are a great idea.      Electronic gifts become obsolete rapidly as updated versions are introduced, but a quality bike can last practically forever.  A good bike can be handed down to young riders as their former owners outgrow them, and will retain value over time.  Even after they’ve outlived their hand-me-down status, bikes can live on as donations either locally, or through organizations like Bikes For the World (www.bikesfortheworld.org) that makes donated bikes available to people in third world countries. For kids and people entering the sport, a new bike provides a new way to see the world, freedom, and a fantastic way to stay healthy.  For committed cyclists, a cycling-related gift can enhance the rider’s enjoyment of the sport, and is a great way to show the cyclist in your life that you support their passion.  You may no longer have that Pong video game you got back in 1978, but there are still plenty of bikes from that era on the road today.

As great as bikes and cycling gear can be as gifts, we also need to recognize that technology is an ever-growing part of our lives.  We’ve all heard the complaint that kids today (and many adults for that matter) spend the majority of their time sitting in front of computer monitors and not enough time outside experiencing the “real world”.  While that may be true, a new reality has taken hold.  Technology has integrated itself into the educational and work landscape.  Kids and adults work and do their homework on computers, use the internet for research, and email their teachers, classmates, friends, and bosses regularly.  Once the work is done, it’s usually only a couple of mouse clicks away to maintain a social life via Facebook, catch up on personal emails, and make productive use of these growing technologies.  Mobile devices put all of this information in our pockets in a way that was considered science fiction a few decades ago.  Technology that was once considered extraordinary or luxurious years ago has now become almost a necessity in life today.

So rather than blaming technology for some of its unintended circumstances, or trying to resist its advance, maybe the answer lies in merging technology with things like cycling.  This merger can lead to some cool, fun, and interesting opportunities. The advent of more advanced bike computers and bike-specific GPS units can eliminate the need for paper cue sheets, and allow people to easily track their training progress in great detail.  Power meters allow access to pro-level training data.  Electronic shifting promises to eliminate dropped chains and needs virtually no adjustment once it’s set up.   Bike and helmet-mounted cameras allow us to replay where we’ve been, and have even been used to catch drivers who’ve run riders off the road.  High efficiency lighting systems have never been better, increasing safety, and also opening up the world of after-dark riding both on and off road.  Online, growth in sites like Strava, MapMyRide, GarminConnect, and RideWithGPS can help riders track their rides, find and preview new routes, and even allow for friendly competition among friends via social media.  Even your mobile phone can get in on the act, with countless bike-related apps available for download.  Now your phone can become a bike computer, mapping device, fitness tracker or reference tool.

As time goes on, technology will continue to advance, and it’s really up to us how we integrate it into our lives.  Technology can never replace the great sensation of exploring the world via your own propulsion, or the mix of accomplishment, exhaustion, and contentment that you feel after a big ride.  Technology can, however, be used as a tool to enhance these experiences.  More significantly, with society spending more time in less-active pursuits, cycling can become an important outlet to reconnect with the real world, away from computer monitors and giant TV screens and provide a path to better mental and physical health.  If electronic enhancements inspire you to ride more, everybody wins.

As always, we welcome your questions and comments regarding any of the subjects in the blog.

Look for our next blog where we’ll be covering the book signing with Charles Scott at the shop on December 5th at 7pm.  Charles will sign copies of his new book, Rising Son, and talk about his travels through Japan and Iceland on bikes with his children.  If you’d like to attend the event, call the shop at 914-666-4044 to reserve your seat.

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Posted November 29, 2012 by bicycleworldny in Bike Electronics, GPS

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Lance, Sandy, and more news…   Leave a comment

The shop awning after Hurricane Sandy

Welcome to the second installment of the Bicycle World’s World News Blog. In this issue, we’re going to cover a few of the big stories in the news that have impacted us and cycling.

Lance Armstrong
We would be remiss if we didn’t address the “elephant in the room” when it comes to cycling news: the Lance Armstrong story. Over the past few weeks, not a day goes by without some new revelation coming to light, or another rider getting caught up in the controversy. It has also been a very polarizing subject, with some people vilifying Lance, and others supporting him. We wanted to give you our perspective on the whole controversy in the hopes that we can move onto more positive topics. Still, since it’s the biggest story in cycling at the moment, we feel compelled to address it rather than ignore it.
While this story has been very damaging to professional cycling, and has virtually destroyed Lance Armstrong’s legacy as a sports hero, there are other sides to the story that are important. It’s an understatement to say that Lance Armstrong had an enormous impact on cycling in the US. While Greg LeMond was the first US rider to win the Tour de France, and inspired a new level of interest in cycling in the 1980’s, Lance’s success and notoriety took cycling to new heights. It’s no secret that the bike industry benefitted greatly from this phenomenon. Lance’s superstardom increased interest in cycling, and put thousands of people on bikes. The ripple effects of this influx of new cyclists are still being felt with things like more bike lanes popping up around the country, more attention being given to safety issues (i.e. Merrill’s Law in New York, and 3-foot law in Connecticut), more bike commuting, increased interest and participation in bike racing, and an increase in overall ridership.
All of these great things can, to a certain extent, be traced back to the impact of Lance Armstrong’s success in professional cycling. In addition, the Livestrong Foundation has helped and inspired thousands of people who have been impacted by cancer. So whether you like him or not, there are some lasting positive things that will always be associated with Lance Armstrong.
The “Lance effect” on the bike industry had already declined after he retired from racing the first time back in 2005. Today those riders who came into the sport a decade ago during Lance’s heyday are now hooked on cycling. Nothing Lance could do or say at this point would tear them away from their bikes. So even if these cyclists were bought into the sport by the “Lance effect” and started riding, they’re not going to quit doing something that they’ve grown to love, just because their one-time hero has fallen. Moreover, a new generation of riders is coming into the sport for reasons that have nothing to do with Lance mania, but instead are part of cycling’s natural growth in the US. So when we hear somebody say that the Lance controversy “is ruining cycling”, we’re just not seeing it in the areas that matter most.
So here’s our bottom line on the Lance story: like many things in life, there are few clear “black or white” distinctions and a whole lot of “grey”. Pro cycling has obviously had a problem with drugs for a long time, and we hope that the attention that this case has gotten serves to finally make positive changes in the sport at the elite level. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the positive impact that Lance had on cycling in the US, and with cancer awareness. When you boil it down, it turns out that despite the bad stuff, there’s some good stuff mixed in. Human beings are imperfect and will make mistakes and bad decisions. None of this, however, can rob us of the enjoyment we find in just going for a ride. If more people are doing that today than in the pre-Lance era, then that’s a good thing in our view.

Hurricane Sandy
The other major story that has impacted almost all of us was Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. Luckily the shop escaped with little damage beyond the loss of our awning and some loose siding. We hope everybody out there is ok, and is getting back to normal in its aftermath.
While the storm might not have an obvious connection to cycling, the blocked roads and long lines for gas reminded us that getting around on a bike has some distinct advantages. Whether it’s skirting around trees that are blocking the roads from cars, or not having to wait in line for gas, a bike can be a pretty useful thing in times like these.
While the storm reminded us of how useful our bikes can be, it also reminded us of a great program sponsored by Clif Bar. Their 2 Mile Challenge (www.2milechallenge.com) encourages people to replace short car trips with a bike. According to their site, 40% of urban travel is 2 miles or less, and 90% of those trips are done by car. By choosing to make some of those short trips by bike, you won’t be burning gas, will get some exercise, and might even have a little fun. If you want to officially participate in the Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge, you can log your rides on their site, and they’ll donate $2 for each trip you make to a variety of charities each month. We think this is pretty cool.
Even if you don’t participate in the official Clif Bar promotion, replacing short car trips with a bike is still something to think about next time you reach for the car keys to go grab a carton of milk, or head over to a friend’s house. If it’s a short trip, think about taking your bike! Funny that a natural disaster had to come along to remind us of a really simple idea.

Other News
Other than the wacky weather and Lance Armstrong story, the only other big news item that we can think of is the election, and we’re not touching that with a 10 foot pole. Suffice it to say Bicycle World carries both red and blue bikes, so no matter which way you voted, you’ll find an appropriately colored bike.
Be sure to like us on Facebook (facebook.com/bicycleworldny), follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/bicycleworldny), and subscribe to updates of the blog. We’d also love to hear from you and answer any questions you might have, so feel free to leave some comments in the comment section below.