As we power through fall and into winter, my time on the bike has significantly reduced. I used to ride anywhere from 45 to 80 miles a week and this past Saturday was the first time I was on the bike in the last two months. One of the reasons my group of friends don’t ride anymore is that after work it’s simply too dark. There are long stretches on our route that are in complete darkness and that’s never a safe situation.
Light & Motion, a company from picturesque Monterey, CA has been tackling the issue of darkness by providing illumination solutions for cyclists and underwater videographers. I am really digging their Seca line of high performance lights. The number on each of their models refers to lumens rating, or simply how much light is put out the front. The Seca 700 Race outputs a staggering 700 lumens from its five LED’s. In comparison, a Mag 3D puts out a measly 76 lumens. It has has three brightness levels, as well as a fast-switching race mode, and is able to shine on high for an impressive 3.5 hours before needing a charge. It uses a 6-cell Li-ion battery pack that fills in just 2.5 hours making it perfect for long commutes and a favorite among 24-hour racers. The kit comes complete with full mounting accessories for your handlebar and helmet.
In use, I found that I rarely needed to go past the medium mode. The beam pattern is very wide, giving me light at nearly a 180 degree sweep. The beam shape is odd, not concentric like you might be used to from a flashlight. There is little artifacting, thanks to the parabolic reflector design. The whole body acts as a heatsink, with fins serving both design and practical purposes. I noticed inductor whine at the high level, but that was only in a perfectly quiet room, standing still. Mounted on a moving bike, I am certain the rider would not notice.
If you are looking for a high-output, rechargeable light system for your bike, and you’re willing to make an investment ($549 MSRP), I would recommend the Seca 700. And, if you need something to just jot down to the market and you are going to be mostly be riding under streetlamps, the company has wide range of products to help you there as well.
Andy Kaufman was before my time but if what I read about this feud with Jerry Lawler and that “Man on the Moon” movie were any indication, this guy was a walking laugh factory. He blurred the line between the stage and his personal life and often times it was difficult to figure out if he was serious or if you were a victim of yet another one of his pranks. Perhaps one of his most controversial stunts involved challenging women in a comedy club to come on stage and wrestle him. He offered a $1,000 reward to any lady that could successfully pin him. He taunted the women with some pretty sexist, but admittedly hilarious, remarks. It’s clear if you understand Kaufman’s sense of humor that he was simply trying to entice them to join him.
Legions of women from across the country responded to the call, resulting in a barrage of hate mail (and love letters) from would-be contenders. Kaufman kept all of them and two of his colleagues Lynne Margulies and Bob Zmuda have compiled them into a book. “Dear Andy Kaufman, I Hate Your Guts!” is available Dec 1. From the preview I’ve seen, it does not matter if you were around when Kaufman was ruling the comedy circuit. You just need a brief intro into his wrestling stunt and then the pictures and letters do the rest to paint the picture of a legend.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you should know that clean water is one of the major issues plaguing the world right now. You guys helped Josh donate a well via Charity Water and last month, I was in Central Mexico scouting locations for a filtration system for a local elementary school. On a smaller scale, clean water is just as important to an individual whether you are hiking or simply in a foreign land where the quality is questionable. Enter the SteriPEN Adventurer. The pocket-sized unit weighs only 3.6 oz with the batteries. It uses UV light technology to purify 16 oz of water in 48 seconds or a full liter in 90 seconds. It uses lithium CR123 batteries included which have a shelf life of 10 years and work in extreme cold conditions; this means you can truly toss this tool in your bag and forget about it until you need it. The Adventurer’s probe is protected by a quartz sleeve and provides insulation in cold water. For your convenience, the optical LED also serves as a flashlight for emergencies. The unit provides 8,000 UV treatments which will likely last a lifetime for
most people. The Adventurer works in containers with a minimum 1.7 inch
diameter and retails for $99.95.
My friend Jessica, turned me on to a site that gives you a sneak peek into the crazy world of homemade crafts on Etsy. Regretsy is a newly launched blog that takes submissions for wacky, silly, and some downright disgusting wares as they appear on Etsy. I’ve browsed Etsy in the past looking for very specific items such as handprinted thank you cards or stuffed animals for my friend’s toddler but I never took the time to browse. If Regretsy is any indication, I am glad I didn’t. Each item is paired with some snarky commentary and while Helen Killer (who seems to be the one running the show), often missed the mark with her jokes, the description and images of the item for sale are often all that’s needed. There are some truly insane items, many featuring female genitalia. Like MySpace and Blogger, when you make it easy for anyone to make a site or sell a product, you really bring out the freaks. Add Regretsy to your newserader for some daily gems that will surely make the email rounds at your office. [And yes, I am entirely aware of the irony of linking to my friend's Etsy page].
Cycling, like any other established hobby or sport, is a microcosm. There is a specific fashion culture and the quality of goods runs the gamut from homemade products sold on amateur Blogspot sites to full production companies focused on high-end products. Rapha definitely falls into the latter category. If you have ever seen, or better yet, worn a Rapha piece you might be surprised (as I was), that the UK company is only five years old. I am convinced the founders must have had a crystal ball because the market has only recently been receptive to high quality, fashionable cycling clothing.
I look for two things when I ride – performance materials (breathability, moisture-wicking) and looks. Rapha manages to deliver on both fronts, something that has eluded even top names in the industry. Their recently announced AW09 range is a reflection of the intersection of performance, quality, and looks. Their cuts are flattering, but still promote and allow for a full range of movement. Their finish is impeccable, with no irregularities in stitching or construction. I am particularly fond of the Rain Jacket and the Trousers – they are perfect for cold weather riding and include thoughtful features such as packability and reinforced seat panels. Their prices are high but the quality reflects that and I guarantee once you try one of their items, the other stuff in your closet will suddenly seem pale in comparison. When you are done checking out their products, subscribe to their blog. It has wonderful commentary on their various race and ride teams, amazing photography, and though provoking commentary on cycling personalities and culture.
Kid Cudi’s first album (if you don’t count the 10.Deep mixtape) “Man on the Moon: The End of Day” just dropped and it is certainly meeting expectations. The 25 year old from Cleveland, Ohio rose to hip-hop stardom after being handpicked by Kanye West to appear on 808s & Heartbreak, lending his voice as well as garnering writing credits. Soon after, his anthem “Day N Nite” could be heard on the airwaves and clubs worldwide. His enunciation and flow is reminiscent of some of the best in the game and the tone of his voice garners respect but not fear. He’s someone you want to listen to, like a friend and while both Kid Cudi the rapper (as well as the man), gets a little emotional at times, he still keeps it fresh and interesting. His style is hard to categorize; “rap” is a safe bet but he has a knack for dragging out verses, turning raps into catchy songs that appeal to a broader audience. Take a listen to “Pursuit of Happiness” and of course the first single “Make Her Say” for a look at how diverse of an artist Cudi is.
I have written extensively about green companies – not just because being it’s the current hot trend, but because I feel it is what we must move towards in order to be sustainable. Today, a revolutionary clothing company launches. Formed by industry veterans with experience from Nike, adidas, and Royal Robbins, Looptworks takes the word green and flips it on its head. The company is attempting to produce 100% of it’s line from excess materials and components. In other words, it will create clothing from no new materials, instead re-using excess from factory floors that currently gets dumped into landfills. A typical textile factory produces 60,000 pounds of waste a week so source materials will not be a problem for the Portland, Oregon company but consistency in the supplies may be. As expected the collections are limited and, I expect them to be constantly evolving as Looptworks finds new materials to work with. The initial collection consists of 20 apparel pieces for both men and women and items range from jackets to skirts and graphic tees. The company is targeting an active lifestyle that brings together boards ports and outdoor activities, mixed with an urban aesthetic. I am personally very excited to see this business model catch on.
Green is the new black and this year companies are definitely heeding the call as more and more of them are adding eco-friendly elements into their product lines. Few though, can compare to El Naturalista, a Spanish footwear company that is built from the ground up as an earth-centric corporate citizen. El Naturalista has some key philosophies by which they operate: focusing on using natural and recycled ingredients and avoiding polluting and toxic substances in the manufacturing of their shoes and packaging. The Fall line is already making its way to retailers worldwide. Women should take a look at the Yggdrasil collection for subdued styling but with details that warrant a double take. For men, I am particularly fond of the Recyclus line which uses recycled rubber in the soles, cork midsoles, hand-sewn uppers and 100% recycled packaging. With a clear focus on nature and a design team that works hard to show that you don’t have to choose between style and sustainability, El Naturalista has this down pat. Look for their FW09 collection in stores now.
Sneakers are an expensive hobby. The cheapest pair of premium kicks you’ll find are $80, if you can find them. Living in a town that only recently got a Quickstrike account, I know what it’s like to stay up ’til 4 in the morning to order a pair of shoes from the other side of the Atlantic. Niche markets benefit from niche sites and that’s exactly what SneakerListing is. Recently launched, the site acts as a free marketplace for collectors to buy and sell sneakers. With the ability to sort and search by brands, keyword, condition, size, and a other criteria, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. As with any new service, it’s success really depends on how many people participate. It’s a Catch 22, because I feel like many people won’t start listing or buying until they see that others have done so successfully. Also, unlike eBay (partnered with Paypal) there are really no repercussions for fraud. Hopefully the pros of having a dedicated marketplace with informed buyers and sellers outweighs the cons.