Thursday, July 27, 2006

Roid Landis, you make me sick

I'm totally disgusted by this news of Floyd Landis. If he is guilty, at least his legacy will be that of a cheater - and it will also clarify why he won the other big races this year. Get in the boat with Jan Mr. Landis. It's your turn to paddle.

I've about had it with pro cycling. When all of these jack asses are finished doping and cheating, maybe I'll regain respect for what I used to think of as amazing athletes. Until then, I'm chalking them all up to no better than the likes of Barry Bonds, and all those other fat, bloated pro ball players. Puke.

I bet Lance Armstrong is stoked that he got away with it.

Give me my upright, heavy steel touring bike, a wind sail of a handlebar bag full of food and a camera, and an open road. I don't want my cycling endeavors to remotely smell like any of those professional cheaters.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Another online cycling route finder: Bikely

Today Kent points out Bikely. Bikely is a cycling route finder that is simply a Google maps-based mashup in which cyclists can create, share, and find cycling routes. Thus far the number of quality routes is quite anemic. There are a few quality routes, but not enough to make me go back to use it. Hopefully this will change in time.

I went ahead and tested their route creation functionality, and wasn't very impressed. I went through the process and created a route for Honey Run that starts where you leave Bidwell Park, and ends at Peet's Coffee downtown. It was also the first route anyone has created for Chico - but I'm not surprised at that.

The Bikely experience is even less refined that Gmaps Pedometer, and Gmaps is still pretty rudimentary. I won't go into detail about the user experience here; I rant about user interfaces on my other blog, Push Button For. But just to use one example: Why can't I print detailed maps of a route? The printed map is the most obvious thing I can think of that would actually make Bikely useful, and it isn't there...

I will again say that the opportunity is ripe for someone to create the killer app in this space. The key is setting up an experience that is so easy - to use AND to create new routes with - that the cycling community will feel compelled to use it, and even feel like they can no longer live without it. Only then will the user base grow large enough to contribute enough content for an app like this to be truly useful. Any VC folks, feel free to get in touch. :-)

It's cool to see so many of these homegrown versions popping up though - it means someone will take it by the reigns and do things the right way!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Does anyone ride in this weather?

This, my friends, is Chico's forecast for this week. I have found that in these tempuratures, I have to be finished riding by about 10:30am before it becomes pretty miserable. And then it doesn't start to cool down until 8pm or so. I guess this is when being down in the Bay Area during the week isn't all that bad.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Cycling in Japan

I find it necessary to point you to this heartfelt bicycling call-to-action, wherein a Japanese fellow feels compelled to encourage Bangladeshis to ride more often. I love his use of Enlgish.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cycling Innovation in Portland, Oregon

In some circles, it is a well known fact that Portland, Oregon is both a cycling mecca and a brewing mecca. When two beautiful forces such as bicycles and beer can coexist in a tiny geographical location, good ideas simply cannot be stopped.

Adam Roberts, an internet friend, flyfisherman, and amateur framebuilder in Portland, OR, has been perfecting what I consider to be one of the best ideas (Adam, patent your design quickly!) in cycling's recent history. May I now introduce the Bottle Drop™!

Could there be a more refined way to open a chilly bottle of your favorite locally-brewed suds than on your bike?

There are other Portland companies hot on this beercycle trend, and I feel it important to note Ahearne Cycles and their complete set of beautifully handcrafted bicycle racks - many of which showcase a bottle opener, among other sensible features.

Inspired by all of this why-didnt-i-think-of-that innovation, I am currently doing some design research of my own to determine how to build the best flyfishing-specific, beer drinking all-rounder bicycle...

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I have created a new group on Flickr called Randonneur!. Have a sharp-looking classically styled bicycle? Add your photos to the group.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Those funny orange icons: The RSS Tutorial

A few people have asked me what those orange little broadcast icon thingies on the top right of this site are. And since I am an interaction designer by trade, I feel that I should explain them to you, so that you can make the most out of your web experience.

So what are the icons?
Those orange icons represent my RSS feed. Depending on who you ask, RSS stands for different things. But since this is my blog, I say it stands for Really Simple Syndication. You might also see other icons that represent an RSS feed that look like these:

But not on my site. Here you just get the little orange broadcast icon like this one:

It is succinct, and the most visually appealing of all the icons that represent an RSS feed.

The truth of the matter is that they are all very similar, and basically all represent "Hey, if you click me, you're going to subscribe to this site's RSS feed. Sweet!"

What does RSS do?
RSS is useful for several things. What RSS does for bloggers, news outlets, and other folks and organizations that publish content to the web is allow a very simple way to syndicate the things that they publish.

Why would they want to syndicate their stuff? The same reason radio announcers like Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh syndicate their radio program to stations all over the country: so that more people can easily hear what they have to say. Well, I guess Howard Stern no longer syndicates his show since he moved to Sirius, but you catch my drift.

How can I use RSS to read blogs, news, etc.?
If you see that list of bike bloggers on my right hand column, I read them everyday, but I never actually go to those web sites. I subscribed to those sites' RSS feeds, and I use my RSS reader to read them. My RSS reader is really similar to an email application like Outlook, but it pulls down RSS feeds from the internet instead of email. This makes my life a bunch easier, because all that interesting (or not-so-interesting) content comes to me, and I don't have to do anything to get it once I subscribe! Here are some screenshots of the RSS reader I use for my Mac.

What RSS readers are out there for me to try?
As you might guess, there are quite a few companies built around providing products and services for RSS consumption and production. I do all my work and play on an Apple Powerbook, and I use NetNewsWire. For PC users, I would recommend giving FeedDemon a try. Or if you are inclined to use free web-based products, NewsGator is a good way read and manage your RSS subscriptions online. It also synchs reasonably well with the aforementioned desktop-based products. The last one I should mention that you can use is My Yahoo!. If you don't want to try any of these, you can go here to see a much larger selection from which to choose.

In closing
I hope that this little tutorial will enhance your internet experience. RSS is a super time saver for the daily browsing that you might currently do. It also can lead to information obesity if you aren't careful - because it is so easy to use! And we all know that information obesity leads to less cycling.

RSS is as easy as email, and ten times as fast as bothering to go to all those web sites everyday. Happy RSS'ing!

...and be sure to subscribe to Chico Gino!

Dutch innovation addresses common cycling problem

Fietsersbond, a bunch of Dutch cyclists, have banded together to create the first (that I'm aware of) cycling-specific door-to-door route finder on the web.

Lucas van Grinsven reports:
The volunteers needed to be much more precise than commercial digital map makers for car navigation devices like Navteq (NYSE:NVT - news) and Tele Atlas (TA.AS), jotting down details such as road surface, scenery and if a road is well lit.

"Detail is what cyclists need and what makes this so valuable. You need to be able to choose a safe route at night, and a racing cyclist wants a hard bike lane and no dirt roads," said 34-year-old Erik Jonkman, one of 70 volunteers.

The Dutch version is a grass-roots undertaking that has required many man-hours to complete just one city's version of the route finder. The user interface is very rough around the edges, and since I can't read Dutch (and I don't know the roads of Utrecht), I can't very well comment on the quality of the information that cyclists are entering into the database.

This idea is very, very cool, and I can definitely see a commercial application of this type of thing. Even in America, Google and Yahoo maps don't even come close to cutting it. Just last weekend I mapped out a 70 mile route from Chico to Red Bluff, CA, and I ended up riding through 4 miles of loose gravel, and shouldered the bike to cross one stream - none of that was on any map. And that's not to say I didn't enjoy those parts of my adventure either. But I digress.

The mashup of a GPS company, a cycling sponsor, and a killer design and engineering team sounds ripe for the picking. If there are any VC's out there who find this idea interesting, feel free to get in touch. I'll lead the design and research for the company that needs to be started...

I should also mention that Fietsersbond is a member of the European Cyclists Federation. The ECF web site is a wealth of fantastic information on pedaling around Europe. You should check it out if you are remotely interested in such an endeavor.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ok, vacation's over.

I'm back. What can I say? I've been blogging for a decade now, and I can't stop. Blogs are part of my life at work, and also how I get things out of my head. They are how I communicate with friends that I might otherwise lose touch with, and they are how I can tell stories about my life. I'm going to go ahead and say it with some reserve: I love my blogs.

And with that, let's pick up things and start pedaling again!

I'm wrapping up a 10 day vacation, and here's the short of it:

First off, I needed it badly. Ten days away from the Bay Area was fantastic.

What did I do?

  • 2 days kayaking, camping, and exploring California's Lost Coast with Claire: One day in Whiskeytown, one at the mouth of the Klamath River where it opens into the Pacific (scary, majestic, brutal, humbling, freezing cold, miserable, and beautiful) in Yurok territory.
  • 1 day and night in Ashland, Oregon, my new favorite town to visit.
  • Flyfishing with not much luck due my own damn fault.
  • We hosted a fantastically fun BBQ with twelve good friends!
  • Hosted some friends from the Bay Area for an evening after said BBQ.
  • Drank an enjoyable amount of local beers and wines from the Real NorCal and Southern Oregon.
  • I turned 32 on June 28.
  • I put 200+ miles on the new Rivendell Rambouillet, which I have deemed The Blue Sheep™. I simply love the bike, and couldn't be happier with my decision. For those who have been emailing me, here is a painfully detailed set of photos. Enjoy! The head badge displays a true statement: Always willing, ever able.

    And be sure to take a look at Jeff's 108.67 mile day. Can you say salt? That's from the Mile High 100 ride we did a couple weeks ago.

    Oh, and I have a draft of my next post, tentatively titled, 'On Dogs, Dog Owners, and Bicyclists'. Inspired by the fact that I was chased by a dynamic duo that consisted of a Rottweiler and a Pit Bull on a recent ride from Chico to Red Bluff, and fueled by a flurry of recent posts around the web on the subject, it's time to put my thoughts out there. Stay tuned.

    Well, it's good to be back after a couple weeks off. Heh.