You — Yeah, You! — Can Get Paid To Ride Your Bike

They say that if you can do what you love while making a living at it, you’ve got the best of all possible worlds. Guest poster Jeff Hemmel might have stumbled onto that situation — he thinks.

HemmelsRide2I am so pro. If, that is, your definition of professional cyclist is someone who’s getting paid to ride his bike. Just this morning alone I made an easy $3. By month’s end I should have about $40 in the bank.

And if you use Strava, now you can be paid, too. The details were in an email that crossed my desk last week. Competitive Cyclist (, which is part of the better-known, is paying Strava users $1 an hour, up to $40 a month, just to ride their bikes. The money gets put in your Competitive Cyclist account, where you can then spend it on whatever gear or equipment you want. Your money expires at the end of the next month, meaning if you ride a decent amount you can have about $80 to spend every two months.

I thought there had to be a catch, but there’s really not. You have to set up an account on Competitive Cyclist or Backcountry, and then link that account to your Strava account. There really wasn’t much to the whole process. Your credits then show up automatically. I went out for my first ride, came home and updated Strava and, boom, next thing I knew money was waiting for me. Sure, Competitive Cyclist is getting some basic info about you. Apparently they also hope that users will review products, and they can eventually increase the validity of their reviews by showing how much the writer rides.

Think $40 isn’t that much to spend on cycling gear? Think about what you routinely buy. I go through Clif Shot Bloks pretty regularly, and love Skratch Labs drink mix, but both aren’t cheap. They’re cheap enough, however, that my newfound credits will pay for a month’s supply. Bankroll two months at the $40 max each month and you’re $80 into that new pair of bib shorts, jersey, or pedals.

I know, I know — it’s good to support your local bike shop. And I do, believe me, and still will. There’s just too many parts and services that I want to go to a local shop for, and this $40/month won’t change that. But I don’t know of many people who couldn’t use some more money to spend on those endless necessities, or long-lusted-after piece of new gear. And if every hour I ride my bike banks me $1, I can certainly find a good use for it.


Apparently, I pushed it real good. Too much, too soon. I rode four days in a row, which was great, but after a hilly 26-miler Monday, I returned home with that same hacking cough I complained about in an earlier post.

“I thought the exercise would drive it out of me,” I said to my wife.

“No. That just made it worse,” she said. “You’re staying off the bike until you get rid of this.”

I obeyed.

Which killed me, because although some rain was in the forecast this week, it never really materialized. We’ve had three glorious days in a row, and I was stuck indoors, doing actual work on the computer.

I’m fine, except for the cough. It’s not frequent, but when it comes, it’s loud and deep. I have even been banished to the guest bedroom because my coughing woke my wife the other night, and she had trouble getting back to sleep.

So, like a rider with an injury, I’m impatiently biding my time. It’s supposed to rain heavily here over the weekend, so those rides wouldn’t happen, anyway. I can only console myself knowing that this thing will go away, as it has done in the past, and all will be rolling again. It just can’t happen soon enough.

Biking Helps You Avoid Getting Sick, Right?

sickHere we are, well into March, and I haven’t been out on the bike yet this month. Weather, as I mentioned in the last post, has been terrible. And on Friday, when we finally had sunny, dry — if chilly — conditions, I came down with something.

What started as a tickle in the throat Thursday blossomed into a full-blown sore throat and deep cough Friday. The cough is still with me Sunday, and now the rain is back again.

What kind of a bike blog is written by a guy who hasn’t been riding his bike?

A short one, I think. I’m going to pour another hot cup of green tea and lie down.


I’m bugged. Somehow, things are getting into my brain, messing with my ability to concentrate while out on the road, and generally driving me nuts.

Those things are earworms.

If you haven’t heard the term before, it refers to those songs that play in your head — over and over and over. If you try to drive them out, they just get louder.

Now, I normally wouldn’t mind a song in my head. I like music. The trouble is, the songs that have been playing lately are unwelcome, because they’re a) irritating, b) bad songs in general, or c) bad biking songs in particular.

A bad song is anything that I never enjoyed listening to, even if it was a hit. Most pop songs of the ’70s and ’80s fall into this category, but there were some real gems from earlier than that. Do you remember “A white sport coat, and a pink carnation…I’m all dressed up for the dance”? Or, “Honey,” by Bobby Goldsboro? “See the tree, how big it’s grown…”

Not only are they awful songs, but they’re particularly bad for biking. When I’m out on the road, I want something that helps me maintain my pace: Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild,” or most anything by the Rolling Stones. But those songs never invade my cranial innards.

Motown? I love Motown! At first blush, it might seem like the beat is a tad on the slow side. But “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops (“Sugarpie, honeybunch”) has a beat that you want to hit on the downstroke of your pedal. I have been known to sing “Tears of a Clown” out loud while pedaling down a lonesome country road.

The bad songs don’t have that kind of beat. Or, they’re way too slow. Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady” is a great song, but you don’t want its syrupy strains spreading through your head when you’re trying to keep up a 15 mile per hour pace.

The worst one, though, was the one that got me last week. It wasn’t even a song, but a commercial jingle. For a regional chain of liquor stores.

Got cheer, all through the year — Chocolate, coffee, cheese — And a case of cold beer

Okay, it’s kind of catchy.

Spec’s fine spirits and finer foods — World class service — It’s all about you

But there’s a major problem with it:

Shop Spec’s — Low price amazing — Here’s to you (shout!) — Here’s to savings!

It’s only 30 seconds long! If I’m out for a two-hour ride on the weekend, and that’s the only thing playing in my head… it’s enough to drive a cyclist nuts.

How do you deal with earworms on a ride?

(If you’re not from Texas, and you’ve never heard the Spec’s jingle, here you go — but don’t say I didn’t warn you!)


Winding Down for the Year

Like many of us, I spent several days around Christmas in another part of the country. Among other things, that meant no biking for five days in a row — tough to take when I had hoped to get a lot of riding in over the break.

We got back home Saturday, a day early, and I was looking forward to getting out on the roads on Sunday.

Of course, the weather report was dead on — we had rain. A steady downpour greeted us as we woke up, and the temperature hovered just a few degrees above freezing. The thought of getting out on the bike was pretty unpalatable.

When things did clear up in the afternoon, I was tied up with homebody things. It looks like I’ll have to wait until Monday to resume my riding. But I’ll do something. The forecast looks good, we’re in that lazy time between holidays. What could be more conducive to riding?

Gifts for the Cyclist

As an internationally-renowned bike blogger, I get hit up on a regular basis from entrepreneurs who would like to some help publicizing their products. I generally resist such entreaties, because this blog is not in the business of giving free publicity to consumer products (Although I’ve done it before, and will probably do it again).

Anyhow, with the holidays approaching I’ve been besieged with more requests than usual. So I figured, what the heck? Let’s feature some of the more interesting ones that have come my way. Maybe you’ll be interested enough to back these budding billionaires, or maybe just buy their products for Christmas gifts for your cycling buddies.

First — Dappercap! It’s a British-made cycling helmet for the urban cyclist, that aims to bring a touch of style to a much-maligned cycling essential. The helmets will be hand made in Cornwall and tested to European standards.


Dappercap will launch with these four colors, but expects to add more.

Dappercap will launch with these four colors, but expects to add more.

Sorry — it’s not available in time for Christmas this year. They expect to introduce it in Europe in April, 2015, and reach the U.S. and Canada in September next year. But if you’d like to support them, their Kickstarter program is open until December 5.

Wearable technology is all the rage now, and a company called 1 Voice hopes to fill a perceived need among workout fiends who can’t be without their music. They’re introducing the 1Voice sports headband. It’s got a built-in Bluetooth receiver, which eliminates the need to hard wire your MP3 player. The headband has built-in earbuds, which the company says will not fall out during a workout.

1 Voice has just introduced the headband to go along with its beanie.

1 Voice has just introduced the headband to go along with its beanie.

If you’re interested, check out 1 Voice’s website.

Ever get frustrated when you signal your turns, but for whatever reason motorists don’t see you? Another Kickstarter program hopes to remedy that situation. It’s another British venture called Wing Lights, and they’re bicycle turn indicators. Attach them to the ends of your handlebars, and when you intend to make a turn, press them with your hand and they’ll start to flash.

3bf0bd8a1695dc2df3615e10c69498ca_large winglights


Wing Lights are only available for straight bar bikes. They can’t be fitted to drop bars or cruiser handlebars. For more information, check their Kickstarter page.

Finally, here’s one just for the guys. Because I know we all have this problem, right? It’s a problem unique to guys, because of our…uhh…equipment. A new product called “HappySacs” is supposed to make sure you’re not caught during Public Displays of Adjustment, as the company puts it. It’s very simple — a sack for your sac.


They claim you won’t have to worry about discomfort and chafing, and won’t have to use chamois creams, either. For info, check their website.

Now that I’ve handled your Christmas shopping needs, we can get back to biking.