Hello, Subscribers

Me and my ghost writer

Two days ago I got a ton of hits to the blog. I couldn’t understand, then, why no one subscribed….Then I realized I didn’t have a “subscribe” button. Ooops did I miss the boat. This boat at least. So I put up the subscribe button yesterday.

Be the first one to subscribe to this blog and I’ll write a post for you! Either give me a subject or I’ll pick one based on what I know of you! I know this seems like a gratuitous solicitation but someone make me feel like they’re listening…er…reading.

Then…. the same thing for the 10th subscriber!

The Lady and the Reaper

Death is going to be very difficult….

The Lady and the Reaper. An animated short. Nominated for and won several awards. Created by Javier Recio Gracia. One of the producers is Antonio Banderas….

I really think this is well written and clever. Makes death a little more acceptable?

See it here.

The Bionx Electric Assist for Bikes

Bionx on the bike

Ok so this is pretty cool. A friend of mine turned me on to this while we were kicking it in Tahoe this past weekend. Fatherhood-tinted glasses will change the way you look at the world. In this case, we were discussing the various ways to use bicycles that don’t involve going downhill fast. As in my previous posts, I touched on the simple Bamboo Bike and then the uber versatile Yuba cargo bikes. I was discussing these with him and everytime I mentioned something, he would trump me with something cooler.

Yes he had an Xtracycle (another brand of cargo bike that has the FreeRadical that attaches to an existing bike) but he lives at the top of a steep hill in Boulder. The cargo-style bikes are good for a lot of things. However loading up with milk and rice for the family and hoofing it up a 24% grade is not one of them. Enter the Bionx electric assist.

Bionx electric motor and parts

I’ve seen motors on bikes and motorbikes. But this one is cool…. It’s ELECTRIC. That means it’s QUIET…

The other cool thing about it is the regenerative aspect. You can put power back into it. You can turn gravity into electricity. It will slow you on high speed descents. Pretty cool, huh?

He had to cut spokes and rethread his rear wheel. But I gotta give it to him. He’s taken a couple of new technologies and created a bike that works for him. As a civil engineer working on transportation projects in Boulder, Colorado, he is setting a standard for his constituents and an example for the city’s residents. Nice work.

What does it cost? There are currently several models for kits. The differences being High-Speed, High Torque and Light Weight. Between $1890 and $2195 will get you into this. Or you can get crafty and get a setup on eBay or Craigslist. You can also choose to purchase a whole bike outfitted with the Bionx set up. I saw some renditions here.

Now I want one, too.

Red Blinky Light for your Stroller

Fair warning crossing the street.

So Shireen and I have always marveled at how some parents push their strollers across the crosswalk with the intention of stopping traffic flow. I am no physicist but I don’t see a 10 lb baby and 15 lb stroller stopping any moving vehicle, SmartCars and scooters included. So why do these parents do this? It’s not a question I am going to try to answer here.

What it did lead us to consider is putting a light on the stroller for our night walks. Having a winter baby makes us walk her around at night. Especially if we have to wait until I get home from work. Our stroller and car seat, while very functional, cool and interchangeable don’t have any reflective material on it.

So the next time I went to the bike shop I picked up a standard red tail light for a bicycle.  It cost me less than ten dollars. Now pay attention fathers: I get home and attach this to the front of the car seat. It has a clip. I clipped it on the shade. That’s it. That’s all I did.

Now check this out: I turn on the blinky red light with the lights off….and then, from the wife, “Omigod, I LOVE it! It’s great! It’s perfect! You’re so SMaaaaaart!……” a pause and then “You know what? Everyone is gonna want one. Watch.”

Stick your nose out you better use it.

Now I am thinking like I had just invented the color red or something. It was like I had completely changed the baby’s night time availability altogether. Now maybe the fact that we have a baby outside after dark is a subject we need to address in and of itself at a later date, but let’s work with the given we have here. It’s 5:30 pm in the darkest time of the year. Cut me some slack.

So we leave. We go outside. We push the stroller through the park and through a couple crosswalks. The baby doesn’t get hit. If that’s a function of the light I’ll never know. As it stands though, my ingenuous safety precaution is working at 100% efficiency.

Crusin the street at night, yo.

The first people we encounter who are not in cars, are, I kid you not, parents of a newborn being pushed in a stroller. At night. With no light. As we cross the street, my wife says out of the corner of her mouth “watch this.” As she says this, the mother whose intersection we are approaching, spies our carriage and it’s rudolph nose. She says to her husband, who is blithely aiming his child for the street crosswalk, “honey…HONEY! Did you see that? They have a light!” He half-heartedly looks and continues walking as she runs to catch up with him undoubtedly thinking about her next Google search of “baby stroller lights” or “car seat night light.”

We push on, completely full of ourselves. Shireen was right! It WAS a great idea! Let’s shape some like a turtle and make millions! Of course, not completely satisfied with our focus group of over-protective first moms with deer-in-the-headlight dads, I was hoping to get validation from a different data set.

We were now walking home from Safeway, crossing Lombard near our apartment when I saw another couple approaching. Both kind of swaying from the evening’s happy hour, the guy was ahead of the girl looking back at her and talking when she stops, looks and points.

“omigoddidjaseethat?”

Shireen and I keep moving forward. We pass the guy who just catches a glimpse of the front of the seat. And he exclaims back to the girl “check it out they gotta LIGHT!”

BAM. We even impressed the alcohol saturated, hormonally liberated, young couple. Maybe we even got them thinking about making a baby… Or maybe they already did that.

The ElliptiGO

ElliptiGO in Sausalito

I was driving down the street sometime in late 2010 when I saw this guy and his friend riding on some sort of bike looking contraption. At first I am thinking that this is another one of those San Francisco bike rental gimmick things like those stupid Go Car scooters. Then when I got a closer look, I see that these people are actually working hard on this thing.

So I take a quick video and photo with my new iPhone 4, which has a bitchin’ camera and video. So I can look into it later. Which I do. Now here is the info I found out:

It’s called the ElliptiGO.

YES – You stand on it. You don’t sit.

YES – it’s like an elliptical machine at the gym. It’s more like a running and climbing motion than cycling. So it’s low impact, outdoors fun.

YES – it can do what most bikes do.

"Looking at me?" You can see his GF in the rearview

YES – it has brakes.

YES – you can coast.

They put this bike up to the challenge when they did the Death Ride near Lake Tahoe in California. It stayed in the game with most bike riders. While it wasn’t out to win the race, they sure proved that it can stand up to most riding conditions and similar endurance distances.

YES – it has gears. Eight of them on a Shimano Alfine internal hub system.

YES – it is expensive. $2,499 will get you going on this interesting machine.

If you’re not into riding and really like running but can’t take the impact, this is nice alternative to staring into a screen at the local 24-Hour Fitness. I guess if I’d spend that much on a bike but wasn’t buying the bike and I really liked running I would get this. As with anything, a few more revs won’t hurt. The product is relatively young. The first was built in 2007. Keep an eye on this as another way of getting around that’s cooler than a Segway.

Yuba Bicycles: Cargo And More!

Yuba Mundo Cargo Bike

A friend of mine started this company and product. It seems inevitable that as bikes become mainstream (in America) that more different types of bicycles continue to be developed and experimented with.

Yuba makes a cargo bike in a single frame. They are made locally (to me) in Sausalito, CA. I love the idea of the cargo bike for many reasons. The obvious ones are the use of transporting groceries and sundry items without the use of the car. It also acts a pickup in the sense that you are not restricted to height or length as you would be in the trunk of a car (don’t go there SUV, 17 mpg).

Ben Sarrazin, Founder, and his boxes

But the less than obvious benefits are the ability to transport the family around with all that equipment. Time together with your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend and of course all the kids. As places like San Francisco become more bicycle friendly, products like this will be even more high profile.

Don’t be surprised when you see surfboards, kayaks or whole families on one pedal-pushed vehicle.

Go see more about what Yuba is up to at http://www.yubaride.com/

Emily and Océanne

Check back here for more information on what people are doing to update and make relevant a technology from the 18th century.

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