Hey! It’s Bike Month!

May 1st…a big day for bikers everywhere. According to the League of American Bicyclists, whose bash this is, we can celebrate the reasons we ride.

Let’s see…riding to work or school…nah, I live 30 miles from work, which happens to be at a school. Saving money or time…hm, I’ll be hitting the bike store in the next day or two to get some much-needed accessories. Hardly a money-saving visit. Preserving health or the environment…well, biking has been good for my health. My blood pressure is down, my resting heart rate too, my legs are awesome, if I do say so myself.

But my health has never been the main reason I ride. I ride for the fun of it. And you know what? I don’t need a special month for that. I ride year around, so Bike Month is every month for me.

Are you planning anything special for Bike Month?

Sketchy Shorts

I was doing some laps on the nearby Veloway recently, when I ran into the president of our neighborhood cycling club. We rode together for a bit, and then he said, “You know, when I got my white bike shorts, everybody was quick to tell me how bad they looked. I’m going to do you the same favor. You need new shorts.”

But my shorts aren’t white. Turns out, that’s not what concerned him.

The shorts I was wearing that day are a black pair of Pearl Izumis that I’ve had for probably four years or so. They’re pretty good shorts. What he was pointing out (that I already knew) was some discoloration on one of the legs. It shows up as a whiteish blotch, and resembles salt stains more than anything else. The discoloration doesn’t affect the performance of the shorts, which are still in fine condition, even after all these years and miles.

It might be a bit tough to see the stain-like marks, but they're there.
It might be a bit tough to see the stain-like marks, but they’re there. I find that moving around, changing your viewing angle, will help see them.

But it does make the shorts look ugly. I know that. That’s why I ride them only on my neighborhood rides, when I intend to ride by myself. Meeting him this day was a fluke.

Frankly, I have wondered what causes that? My wife has a pair of PI shorts, and it’s really bad on hers.

The problem is a lot more obvious on my wife's shorts, because it's a lot worse. (Click to embiggen.)
The problem is a lot more obvious on my wife’s shorts, because it’s a lot worse. I think I’ll be getting her a new pair soon. (Click to embiggen.)

I have a hunch that it goes back to when we were new bikers. When we washed the shorts, we would also toss them in the dryer to dry. Of course, we had the dryer on the lowest setting. Later, when we read that bike shorts should be air dried, we started doing that, and they haven’t been in the dryer since.

By the way, the problem seems to be confined to Pearl Izumi products. I also own shorts by Sugoi, Nashbar, and Castelli, and none of them have had this problem. The Nashbar shorts have been around even longer than the PIs, and are still the same shiny black color they were when they arrived in the mail years ago.

Can any wiser, more experienced riders suggest what causes this problem?

Dem Bones — Saris Bones, That Is

Guest poster Don Blount reviews a popular bike rack.

BlountOnBikingI recently traded in a 1988 Toyota Camry for a 2010 Mini Cooper.

The Camry had seen better days as it had more than 239,000 miles on it.

When I am asked why I selected this new car I respond one of two ways: 1) It is my mid-life crisis car or 2) It fits my bike rack. Bike_On_Car2  Click images to embiggen.

And in truth when I looked at the vehicle I took along a tape measure to check whether the width of the bumper would accommodate my Saris Bones 2 trunk mount bike rack.

I purchased this bike rack three years ago, after I joined a bike club. A number of the club rides began in the foothills, a good 40-minute drive from my home.

Quite frankly, I tired of taking both wheels off of my bike and then loading both the frame and the bike into the car.

I did not want to deal with a trunk hitch nor did I want to spend a ton of money on a rack. And when I began looking for a bike rack I discovered the Saris. Saris2-2

It was the look that initially caught my attention. I liked the arc shape of the injected molded, arms and how the bike is carried away from the car where it won’t scratch the paint. It also holds the bikes on two different levels so they do not bump into each other, damaging their finish.       Bike_Away_From_Car2

Although it is categorized as a trunk-mounted bike rack, the rack actually rests on the vehicle’s bumper. Bumper2

It took me some effort to set the rack up the first few times but I eventually was able to get it ready to go in about 10-15 minutes.

The rack has a 70-pound limit – 35 pounds per bike. I found that it holds my bike securely and the anti-sway bar prevents it from swinging while the car is in motion.

The rack’s rubberized feet and coated hooks are gentle enough to not mar the car’s paint.

I added to the rack a Yakima trunk mount security strap. The strap has some sort of cable in it for reinforcement. One end of the strap loops around the bike rack while the other end goes in the trunk.

The space between at the top of the hatch of the new vehicle was too narrow to secure the rack’s original hook; I had to replace those with hatch hugger straps. These go inside of the hatch instead of hook onto the edge of the hatch. Hatch_Huggers2-2

Folds_For_Storage2The Saris Bones 2 retails for about $140 but it can be purchased on sale for about $125, maybe even less at a good bargain. I paid $117 for mine and $17 for the strap in 2010. Prices have not moved a whole lot since then. The company also says the rack carries a lifetime warranty. It also folds for easy storage.