Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Minimalist Shoes

I’ve been using minimalist shoes, sometimes called barefoot shoes, for over a year now and I must say I really like them.  They are great for fitness activities such as running, cycling, and working out at the gym.  Last year I read reports about Chris McDougall’s book Born to Run  because the findings and opinions of the book were  spreading like wildfire throughout the running world.  The book upended modern perceptions of the running shoe as it advises runners to turn back to running as barefoot as possible.  The author concludes that modern running shoes are actually bad for runners because they cause most people to change their gait and the placement of the foot as it strikes the ground.  The human running gait  and landing position has evolved so that people are naturally supposed to take quick steps and land on their fore or midfoot area rather than their heel.  The muscles on the bottom of the foot and the calf then reduce the shock caused by the landing.  With modern running shoes most folks change and land on their heel in a more heavy manner so that long term more damage is created.  He also does not believe in correcting foot alignment for supposed “problems” with feet as strengthening the lower leg and foot muscles will correct this naturally.

Cycling to the Beach on the Jersey Shore in a Pair of Vibram Five Fingers

Well I purchased a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for running and working out at the gym and I have not looked back.  I can hands down tell that my calves and especially my foot muscles are stronger.  Modern running shoes are really like a Lazy-Boy recliner for your feet.   The foot muscles just atrophy using them.  A Lazy-Boy is good and comfortable sometimes but not good for getting a workout.  My feet seem to connect more strongly with the ground which greatly improves balance and posture.  Cycling in minimalist shoes will give your feet and calves a workout because the shoes offer zero stiffness and therefore your muscles will have to do the work.  The Vibram Five Fingers offer just enough rubber in the sole so you don’t hurt yourself when stepping on little rocks, acorns, bumpy asphalt etc.   Another benefit is the shoes last a long time, well over a year.  No more trading out shoes every three months like you’re supposedly supposed to with modern runners.  That has got to be a huge marketing scam.  A $100+ pair of running shoes every few months or you’ll have all kinds of knee, foot and leg problems!  Whatever.

Check out a pair of minimalist shoes and give them a try.  But do start out slowly because your body and muscles will need to gradually work up to it.

Kryptonite NYC Chain. Holy Cow.

Paula is very safe now. I knew this chain would be substantial but holy cow. It’s HUGE. Overkill for this area, but overkill is better than underkill. I was much more relaxed at the grocery store last night. I know that this lock, like any other, is not absolute protection. But the tools required to defeat it would attract attention.

Paula securely locked with Kryptonite NYC chain.

This thing is huge and heavy. In retrospect, a lesser chain would have been a better choice. But this is the one I have and this is an expensive bicycle worth protecting from theft. I carry it in my Wald basket, which is now attached to the rear rack. I really don’t notice anything while I’m riding, but the bicycle is harder to lift up stairs. I just tell myself “Just pick the bicycle up and quit whining.”

The handlebar bag is a Minnehaha small saddle bag. Sadly, it does not play nicely with sprung saddles and I only have sprung saddles. But it’s not half bad as a handlebar bag. It holds my tiny purse & repair kit nicely. I won’t try carrying that lock in it, though.

Retrovelo Paula Sneak Peek!

It’s here! It rides like a dream. No regrets at all. More pictures and reviews soon!

Wald Folding Grocery Baskets

I’ve been promising Nik this review for a month now. What can I say? I’ve been too busy riding.

I tried using a large messenger bag for grocery shopping. It was possible but not much fun. So I ordered the Wald folding baskets. Here are the baskets open:

Wald folding baskets, rear

The baskets folded:

One open, one folded:

I have fresh eggs from the farmer’s market in the open basket:

On the way to the market, baskets folded:

The baskets are very sturdy and very well-made. The mounting hardware that comes with them is absolute crap. Do yourself a favor and buy some p-clamps and locking nuts for a couple of dollars to mount them. I mounted mine with two p-clamps to the rack rails, and used zip ties to stabilize them. You will probably want to mount them a couple of inches back on the rack. If you don’t your heels may hit them when you are pedaling. And for the sake of mentioning it: you do need some sort of rack to mount these to. I’m using a Topeak Super Tourist on this bicycle.

The baskets fold down to about an inch thick and do not rattle. Sometimes there is a little rattling when they are open, but it is not annoying. Once you get the hang of opening and closing them it’s a snap. And they hold a lot of weight.

The down side is the weight. Two of them will add about five pounds to your bike. That may not sound like much, but eventually it becomes wearying. I have removed them for the time being and put a medium Wald basket on the porteur rack on my other bike. I just make do with one-bag shopping trips for now. I have a new bicycle on the way and I have other plans for hauling the shopping.

Overall, these are a great deal and highly recommended. They will wind up living on one of my bicycles, perhaps my Raleigh Sports.