Video Low-Lights of the Day

Thursday morning’s 32-mile ride from 9:45am until 11:30am.

We had four ‘recordable’ events: (a) two “too close for comfort” passing maneuvers, (b) a very unsafe pass by a motorist that nearly caused a head-on accident right next to us, and (c) a GMC diesel pickup truck who felt compelled to “roll coal” as he passed us, clearly not thrilled by our presence on the road.


This was the first “too close for comfort” pass by a blue Infinity FX35 on County Line Road with GA TAG#BTU5945.  They started out with the right idea but moved back to the right just as they were passing rather than waiting until they were clear-ahead.

 


The second “too close for comfort” was at the very same place where we almost always have these close encounters along Corner Road.  This was a dark grey Hyundai Sonata with GA TAG #CAY4778.  I’m not sure what is about this stretch of road, but like the previous close call, I almost thing the drivers get a little target fixation when the are looking at us instead of where they should be going and drift towards us as they pass along side.


We also had a motorist in an older white Ford Ranger Step-side compact pick-up truck who failed to consider the timing of his pass as he was approaching an intersection on Due West Road and suddenly found himself driving headlong into an on-coming car that just merged into the on-coming lane putting himself, the other driver and us at risk. Thankfully, the driver in the little blue Ford Focus in the on-coming lane pulled as far to the right so the truck didn’t have to drive into us to avoid the accident.  Driving, it’s not a passive activity.


Finally, we had an encounter with someone who is apparently not a fan of cyclists.  As we were climbing a slight grade towards the end of our ride we had 4 out of 5 vehicles pass us carefully and courteously.  However, a motorist in a white GMC diesel pickup truck had to show his true colors with a weak attempt at “Rolling Coal” as he passed. Once again, road rage takes many forms, this is just one of them.

To be fair, 80 – 90% of the drivers we encounter act like the four motorists who are driving at around the posted speed limit and giving us wide berth as the pass.  It’s the other 10% that make me shake my head when I consider just how many moving violations we get to observe.  Speeding well in excess of the posted speed limits is by far the worst.  Texting while driving is right up there with excess speed.  After that it’s running traffic lights and other things that people who are in a hurry seem to do without regard for their fellow motorists.  Just lots of bad judgement and distracted driving which suggests that a great many motorists don’t take driving seriously and would be just as happy to have a self-driving car.

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Today’s Top 5 Motorist’s: GoPro Day 2

Today was our second outing on the tandem with the GoPro cameras keeping an eye on the motorists as they “did their thing” around us on our 32-mile ride from the house.

EQUIPMENT: As far as changes in the equipment, my GoPro Hero 3+ now has a Wasabi extended run time battery that now gives us nearly 5 hours of video, twice as much as we need on most rides but good to have for future needs.  Yes, it added some weight and bulk to the camera, but well worth the inconvenience.  My GoPro Hero 2 has a second GoPro battery in a “back pack” that has extended its run time to about 3.5 hours; again, more than we need.  This backpack makes the Hero 2 much more bulky and heavy so I’ve got a second barely used GoPro Hero 3+ coming along with another Wasabi extended run time battery that will replace the Hero 2.

From a cost standpoint on the new camera and extended run batteries, I’m still under what just the rear-facing Cycliq tail light / camera would have set me back.  Again, I’ve definitely got a lot of “old tech” DiNotte lights and external battery packs hanging off the bike and then nearly “old tech” GoPro Hero 3+ cameras attached to my helmet, giving us all the cache of Jed Clampett’s 1921 Oldsmobile truck.

THE RIDE: Like most days, we left the house around 9:40am and were back at home an 1:40 minutes later.  This is something of a “sweet spot” in terms of traffic as the commuters are now at work, most kids have now been dropped off at school, and the landscape crews are at their 2nd job site.  Of course, as 11:00am approaches, we have parents headed off to pick up their nursery school age kids — we’re starting to recognize several cars — and then as 11:30am comes along, we get the folks who are in a rush to get errands done during the lunch break or some such.

You may recall that we had just one “recordable” event during Friday’s ride, where a motorist failed to provide us with the legally required “3 feet” of safety margin when passing. On today’s ride we had two of those encounters.

One of these was along a curve on Corner Road where there was actually more than ample room for the white Honda Pilot with Alabama Tag #CEY3405 to pass in that there was a large painted center median at the corner.  But, sure enough, the driver seemed determined to keep their vehicle’s left tires from getting beyond the double-yellow line, even though it meant they’d be passing with perhaps 1 to 2 feet of safety margin before cutting back into the middle of the lane as soon as they were “mast abeam” to borrow an expression from my yacht racing days.

  

The other one was on a moderately curvy climb along Poplar Springs Road. This is apparently a popular shortcut for folks who are trying to get from GA-120 down to GA-360 or US-278 without taking, so depending on how the traffic lights are running on GA-120, you’ll suddenly get a string of vehicles moving along well above the posted speed limit.  Given how the road curves and climbs, we are definitely an obstacle on the road so due care and patience must be exercised by the motorists since there are other motorists speeding down this same curvy hill headed towards GA-120.

The first two vehicles that were in the line of six did a very good job of giving us wide berth and passing between the blind corners.  The third in line was the dark colored Chevrolet truck in the first picture to the right, below and, as you can see, he’s doing a great job of straddling the double-yellow and giving us a good 3-4 feet of safety margin while passing… well, sort of: he continued to straddle the center line for the next several hundred feet and into the corner.  Behind him you can see a dark green Jeep CJ.  Like other motorists who (a) don’t know there is a 3-foot passing rule, or (b) are more worried about crossing a double-yellow line vs. brushing up against a couple of fellow human beings on a bicycle… their left tires never got beyond the double yellow line as they motored on by, passing once again with perhaps 1 to 2 feet of safety margin at best and never checking their speed which was a good 10mph over the limit.  Now, what I particularly liked about this little Jeep was the the image of Jesus with a thorny crown on his spare tire cover; not sure what that’s all about but it’s just as good as the license plate (which I didn’t get a good shot of given his speed and perhaps one of those license plate covers that obscures photos) for future ID needs.

  

The second type of recordable encounters we had today were the unsafe passing maneuvers.  Mind you, these are for the most part either lightly or just moderately traveled roads, where stoplights tend to create micro-traffic issues by bunching up vehicles who then speed en masse along the next road segment so they can all sit at the next stop light together.  But, I digress…

Anyway, we had three recordable encounters today.  The first was on Old Dallas Road, where this little red Ford Focus with GA Tag# RL15735 decided to pass us on a blind corner, only to meet the only other car we saw along this stretch of road midway through the corner.  Waiting perhaps 3 seconds would have allowed the other car to pass before they’d have another short stretch of road where it would have been safer to pass.  Mind you, we appreciate that they gave us wide birth, but at the expense putting our and other motorist’s safety at risk for no good reason: there’s a stop sign ahead and then a very long stop light.

On Due West Road we had this Silver Honda Odyssey with GA Tag#BAA4377 also make an ill-timed pass, bothering the on-coming driver enough for him to lay on his horn… but to what end I don’t know.  It’s not like another motorist inside a mini-van talking on the phone in a moving vehicle would ever take note of the horn sounding ahead of them.

 

Yet another Honda Odyssey with GA Tag#BGE2198 also failed to pause for 2-3 seconds before making their pass, causing yet another on-coming vehicle to take evasive action by slowing and moving to the far-right edge of the lane so they’d have the equally important safe passing margin even motorists appreciate.  Of course, everyone will assign fault to the bicycle on the road, not their impatience, lack of good judgement or weak motoring skills.


 

I’m still not quite sure why the motorist in this dark grey Toyota Sienna mini-van felt he needed to pull to the right and put his right side tires beyond the fog line and into the grassy edge of the road’s shoulder.  The vehicle ahead of us in the first photo had passed with plenty of room and was well within the lane a 100 yards ahead of the Toyota van.  The driver of the van was an older driver (mind you, we’re in our late 50’s & early 60’s so take the observation for what it’s worth) and may have simply been reacting with a little lag time.  Again, it’s a recordable event because our safety depends on the skill, experience, attitude and attention of all motorists and these “unexplained actions” always get my attention.

 

There you have it. I’ve omitted images of the dozens of motorists who were easily exceeding the 25, 35 and 45 mph posted speed limits by 10-15 mph on several occasions, the big white diesel GMC with firefighter tags on the front & back who, again, couldn’t spare 1-2 seconds to slow and move to the right turn where he wanted to be anyway and, instead, used the left turn lane to pass us before cutting across our path in the through lane to move to the turn lane… all within a couple hundred feet of an intersection with a red light showing.  Really?  And then there are the landscape maintenance crews; these guys are uniformly awful when it comes to speeding, forgetting that they’re pulling a trailer when passing, etc.

Oh, it’s a joy to be on the road these days, that’s for sure.  But, that’s what Ms Debbie prefers.  Perhaps after she sees enough of these photos off-road riding may become a bit more enticing.

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Beta Testing “The Helmet Cam” & Our First Video Capture

Today marked the first trial run on our 32-mile loop ride from the house with front and rear-facing GoPro cameras mounted to my helmet.  Brough out of a 3-year dormancy, I strapped my GoPro Hero 3+ to the front of my helmet and an older GoPro Hero 2 to the back.  While part of me likes the new, integrated camera/light systems from Cycliq… the other part of me says you lose the visual deterrent value of letting motorists clearly see they’re on camera.

The latter would be especially of value if a road-raging motorist had to confront you after an incident.  In fact, there was a recent incident recorded by a cyclist where a law enforcement officer pretty much drove right into him… and having the incident and subsequent exchange on camera surely clarified “what actually happened” vs. what would have been put on record in a he-said, she-said standoff: warning, some colorful language is used but completely warranted:

It was this video, more than anything else I’ve seen in recent years, that said it’s time to camera-up on the tandem, and here’s why:

Back in 2011, Georgia’s legislature passed HB-101 “The Better Bicycling Bill” back in 2011 in an effort to make the motor vehicle laws a bit more bicycle friendly and to clarify some grey areas.  As part of that bill, the “Three Foot Rule” was adopted which, in essence, says motorists should be no closer than 3 feet to a cyclist when passing them on the road.  Of course, bureaucrats being bureaucrats, they added some weasel words that pretty much nullify the provision, i.e., “when feasible” in this instance.

Title 40 – MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC
Chapter 6 – UNIFORM RULES OF THE ROAD
Article 3 – DRIVING ON RIGHT SIDE OF ROADWAY, OVERTAKING AND PASSING, FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY

§ 40-6-56 – Safe distance defined; application to bicyclist

(a) As used in this Code section, the term “safe distance” means not less than three feet.

(b) Notwithstanding any provision of this article to the contrary, when feasible, the operator of a motor vehicle, when overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between such vehicle and the bicycle and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.

As mentioned in recent posts, now that I’m retired Debbie and I head out from the house around 9:30am three days a week for a 30+ mile ride on the tandem.  Having ridden a few times during the day while on off-Fridays or Staycations, I pretty much figured out that this was the “best” (as in safest) time of the day to be out on the public roads since the commuter crowd and school traffic has ended and the lunch-time traffic hasn’t started.

However, even at this time of day, during the past four weeks / 500 miles of riding we’ve had at least a dozen “close calls” where motorists — from soccer moms, to old folks with handicap tags to bus drivers to landscaper crews hauling trailers — have seemingly been more concerned with not driving outside of the double-yellow lines than they have with potentially running into people on a bicycle.

Now, to be fair, I will offer that a good many of the motorists we’ve encountered here in Georgia on our road rides do, in fact, provide a wide margin of safety when passing and that’s great!  Unfortunately, the ones who don’t often times seem to be playing some kind of game with our lives, likely under the misguided notion that they are within their rights to use their vehicles as an instrument of intimidation to “scare us off the road” where, in their minds, cyclists don’t belong.

There is also another subset of motorists out there who can’t put down their “smart phones” even when the law now prohibits anyone from touching such a device when operating a vehicle that are an even more deadly threat to everyone on the road, but especially cyclists who are being mowed-down in increasing numbers year-over-year as smart phone use continues to propagate.

Anyway, with that in mind and a growing concern that our carefree retirement life could quickly be altered forever by a motorist for whatever reason, I figured it was time to start making sure we’d have a visual record of what’s happening around us during these rides.

So, today was the first time that we headed out on the tandem with the cameras mounted to my helmet.  Yes, they definitely made my helmet a lot heavier, but having a camera in the front and one in the back somewhat off-set the weight each of the cameras and made for a very stable-feeling platform so it wasn’t bothersome in the least.  Moreover, the field of view ended up being just about perfect.

Now, I’m not sure if it was just dumb luck or if perhaps having the cameras clearly in view on my helmet, but the motorists around us today — with perhaps a few exceptions — were all very much in compliance with the 3-foot rule.  Now, we had one motorist who did not disappoint, and some stills from the video are captured below:

Here we have the Mercedes doing a great job of giving us 3-feet of safe passing space, pausing to wait until on-coming traffic had passed. In fact, their car is positioned exactly where it needed to be: pretty much straddling the centerline. Thank you Mr. or Ms. Mercedes.


Now, here’s Mr. Kia who could have easily followed Mr. or Ms. Mercedes’ lead in giving us wide berth when he passed since there wasn’t any on-coming traffic as far as the eyes could see….


Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 2.51.31 PM

Pretty much says is all….


Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 3.27.47 PM

Again, great job Mr. or Ms. Mercedes! Good safety margin, proper vehicle position and a safe return to the travel lane in the absence of any on-coming traffic.


And here’s the view from the front of the bike as Mr. Kia not only passes within less than a foot of us, but also moves right before clearing us… Classic motorist intimidation move from people who don’t think bicycles should be allowed on public roads because “it’s how they feel” since the motor vehicle say otherwise. But, don’t let the law get in the way of how you feel…


As I said, less than 1 foot of safety margin, essentially “buzzing” the bicycle for absolutely no good reason since there is zero on-coming traffic for as far as the eye can see. This isn’t just an inconsiderate motorist, this is passive road rage and we see it every day.


And, now on video…

Oh, and yes… we technically know who you are, or who owns the vehicle: Georgia Tag# CB03782.  Now, as for what we’ll do with this information, hard to know.  Part of me says we should forward these types of images to the Cobb County Police Department, even though they won’t do much about it.

Anyway, the only “problem” with today’s Beta test was out-riding the battery life of both cameras.  Mind you, I acquired my first two GoPro cameras used back in January of 2014 and even my newest GoPro Hero 3+ was a late 2014 acquisition.  They’ve essentially been sitting unused since late 2015 so the batteries are definitely “tired”.  But, even still, most reviews suggest a 1.5hr run time is about all you can get for a GoPro Hero 2 or 3+ like mine and that’s at least 30 minutes short of what we need right now, and 1.5hrs short of what we hope to need by year-end.  So, I’ve ordered a high-capacity battery for our Hero 3+ and we’ll see if that provides the battery life we need.  As an interim step, I’ll also use the battery backpack on my older Hero 2 camera to double its run time to 2 hours. If the high-capacity battery for the GoPro Hero 3+ truly provides 3 hours of run time, I’ll try to find another Hero 3+ and that will be our “final solution” for the foreseeable future.

Yes, the Cycliq looks like a great solution since it integrates lighting and cameras into a tidy little package. But, at $479 for the front & rear camera/light… I’m thinking there’s still some value in having the more highly visible camera’s on my helmet, if only to remind drivers that “doing the right thing” is the right thing to do because you never know when someone’s looking.  After all, ethics and doing the right thing truly is what good people do even when nobody’s watching.

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Playing in the Dirt… Finally!

The last time I was out in the woods was mid-April.  Boy, did it feel good to be back on the trails!   Now, if I can only figure out how to get Miss Debbie back out on the Ventana!

Posted in Bloggishnish | 1 Comment

Oh, That’s Right: You Can’t Break & Reconnect 10 Speed Chains

As mentioned, with our far more frequent and longer rides on the tandem we’ve been dealing with more mechanical issues as well.  Some of them make sense… clipless pedal cleats can and do wear out and tandem bicycles are renowned for being plagued with creaks and squeaks from various sources.

However, it wasn’t until today when we had yet-another drive chain link come apart that the light bulb went on: the chains we’ve been using can’t be rejoined using rivets and a chain tool!  Sure enough, the timing chain was coming apart because I extended a drive chain into a sync chain  by reinstalling a rivet using a chain tool instead of using a second KMC “missing link.”  The rivet eventually pulled loose from the side plate and the chain came apart.  My on-the-road repair was to once again press the rivet back into the side plate so we could limp home where I had spare “missing links” to do a more permanent repair.

It was last week when we had an over-shifting problem that caused a drive chain to become twisted.  Again, the on-road repair was to remove the twisted link and then rejoin the chain using a chain tool and the original rivet.  Sure enough, the rivet most likely came loose today when we were climbing a hill out of the saddle as the bike suddenly developed a chain skip over the next two miles. However, while climbing the next hill the chain finally let go and departed from the bike. As before, I mended the chain but used a ‘missing link’ this time, having had the foresight to put a spare link in my saddle bag’s repair kit.

Once we were back home from our ride, both the sync and drive chains were replaced with fresh, new KMC 10-speed chains using only the ‘missing links’ to join the chain ends.  Yup, gone are the days when I could whip out my chain tool and press rivets in and out of the chain at will without running the risk of the chain coming back apart.  I guess this is progress??

Posted in Technology & Equip. | 6 Comments

Calfee at Tandem Cycleworks in Denver & The Midwest Tandem Rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan for Tandem Demo Rides

We just received a note from Jason at Calfee Design wherein he wanted to let us know they’ll be on hand at the 2018 Midwest Tandem Rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan on 31 August through 3 September with several tandems that will be available for demo rides.

On their way to Grand Rapids, they’ll be stopping over at Tandem Cycleworks in Denver Colorado, on Tuesday, 28 August, and will be offering demo rides from 1:00pm to 7:00pm as well.  Or, it could be from 12:00pm (on Tandem Cyclework’s Evite) to 7:00pm or 4:00pm to 7:00pm (on Tandem Cyclework’s Website).    I’d suggest that if you’re interested in attending you give the store a call to confirm: (303) 715-9690

The bike’s on hand will include Tetra road tandem models as follows:

  • Small/Small Di2
  • Medium/Small ETAP
  • Medium/Small Di2 (For Sale)
  • Large/Small Di2

They’ll also have a Medium/Small full-suspension off road model on hand as well as what Jason describes as a “Special Bike” that is worth a look.

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Making Old Cycling Shoes New Again…

Just over 8 years ago I finally reached a point where the Sidi Dominator 5 cycling shoes I wore on the tandem needed to be replaced.  While the uppers were in fine shape, the molded-in lug soles had worn-down to where they were no longer protecting the cleats / keeping the cleats from damaging floors.

The “New” sole for my “dead” Sidi Dominators

I successfully salvaged those shoes by shaving the old lugs off the soles of the shoes and attached a new set of lugs using sheet metal screws and adhesives that have allowed those shoes to remain in service to this day.  These are what I still refer to as my Frankenshoes.

Again, they’re still in service but are due for another lug replacement.  On the bright side, I’ll just need to unscrew and pull off the old ones and then bond and screw in the new ones. Well, and I’ll also need to replace the instep closure straps as one broke when I was just cleaning the shoes and the other one looks to be ready to break.

But, at about the same time I created the Frankenshoes I also bought a new / used pair of Sidi Dominator 6 cycling shoes.  They were a little large but I was able to wear a thicker sock and make them work as the next size down was simply too small.  Regardless, now with 8 years of use their lugs had also worn down to the point where they needed to be replaced. Thankfully, the Dominator 6 have the Sidi Sole Replacement System (SRS) so it was really an easy process to get those updated this past week.  I just had to find the right SRS sole replacement kit and then remove the 24 screws that held the 8 lugs (4 per shoe) to the bottom of the shoes and install the new lugs with the new screws that come with the kit.

 

Yeah, new shoes!  Well, not exactly as they have some other wear and tear that I’ve not figured out how to address, i.e., the fabric on the rear heel cuff has worn through to the padding.  But, I’ll come up with something.

I figure with four pair of Sidi cycling shoes — 2 pair of MTB shoes for the tandem, one pair of MTB shoes for off-road riding and one pair of road shoes for riding my single road bikes — I really have all the cycling shoes I’ll ever need.  It’s only the lugs on the MTB shoes that we use on the tandem that wear out.  The other shoes just need to have an occasional bath in a mixture of warm water and vinegar to keep them from getting funky, and then a touch of mink oil on the leathers to keep them from breaking down.  Debbie’s in nearly the same boat with her two pair of rose colored Sidi MTB shoes for road riding and a black pair of Sidi Dominators for off-road.

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