Giro Alpinduros

It’s cool and often damp here in the Maritimes and it happens to be my favorite time of year to ride bikes. Not least of all because it means I get to wear my most-favorite cycling shoes evar, my Giro Alpinduros again.

These have proven to be my hands-down favorite shoulder-season/fall/early winter/early spring shoe. They’re comfy, solid, warm and best of all waterproof – remembering of course water will get in over the tops if you submerge ‘em that high – don’t ask how I know this. I did one day stumble upon the Alpinduro-specific gaiters/covers they make for these and snatched those up right away too – and they work a treat.

They’re low-key enough looking that they fit in at the store or the coffee shop, and the fact that they’re a mesh between a cycling shoe and hiking boot actually makes strolling (or hike-a-biking) a rather pleasant experience. The tread isn’t super aggro and there’s no toe spike holes, so they’re not an ideal ‘cross shoe, but I don’t want ‘em for that anyway. They are on the heavy side, but I’m willing to make that trade off for the warmth, waterproofness and walkability.

I’ve worn them on MTB rides, commutes and even on road rides on the go fast bike during cold weather without any issues. I don’t know exactly, but I’d hazard to say I’ve had no problems with cold feet down to 5 degrees below zero Celsius, especially when paired with a good cold weather sock and/or liner. This is actually my second pair – the first were warrantied by Giro after the sole delaminated – a known factory defect with some batches that they supported and have since remedied. I liked the fit of the footbed and Vibram soles on these so much that when I needed a summer/warm-weather shoe, I didn’t hesitate to pick up some of their Terraduros.

Giro didn’t pay me to wear these or write this, though with my mad 32 followers, surely it’s their marketing error. If you’re looking for some solid, warm, comfy on-and-off-the-bike cold weather shoes, you should be ‘influenced’ to check these out, says I. 

Light Phone II, For Reals

Photo from the Light Phone II Indiegogo page.

Anyone following along here knows that awhile back I did a Light Phone Experiment, based on my learning about the Light Phone II project. Well, the plot thickens.

I had a convo with my buddy Steve who has backed the LP II and decided that he probably won’t use it, so once he gets his in the mail and has a chance to check it out, he’s gonna ship it to me for a demo. I’d like to say thanks to him for the opportunity – it should be an interesting and fun experiment. In his own words, “I can’t think of anyone better for test driving this thing.”

Rather than just use the LP II once in awhile to “go light” as the creators suggest, I’m going to go all the way and replace my iPhone with the LP II. For how long remains to be seen, I’m waiting to see how it goes. There’ll always be the option to jump back to my trusty iPhone as moving between the two simply means moving the SIM back and forth.

For those too lazy to check the link or just looking for the TLDR info, the Light Phone II has three functions – phone, text, and an alarm. The developers have talked about adding some other things like directions or playlists, but it remains to be seen what will be on it when they start shipping at the end of the month. As far as I’m concerned, the less, the better.

I removed the email app from my iPhone a couple of months ago and have been pretty happy about it. There were still some other apps I used on it pretty consistently though and it could be interesting to see how much I miss them and/or how I adapt with them gone. Chief among those would be Notes, Calendar, Banking, Books, Music, LastPass, Weather, ScannerPro and the camera.

These are all things I can access/use for the most part from my desktop Macs at home or at work, but it will mean rethinking the way I use them, i.e. creating a time of the day to use them more deliberately or consciously.

In preparation of the LP II landing, I’ve removed everything I possibly could from my iPhone and started sort of working with that. There’s a few things you just can’t remove without jailbreaking the phone, but I’ve removed everything else. It basically leaves you with phone, text, the camera/Photos and Safari. It’s been a few days and it’s already getting interesting. A few things that have come up already:

  • I have a few contacts that send me longer than average, multi-paragraph texts. From what I’ve seen in the video demos of the LP II, I’m not sure how the interface will handle this;
  • The LP II doesn’t support group texts/iMessage, so I’m not sure how that will play out;
  • No sharing of links or photos via text;
  • No emojis I don’t think – something I won’t miss;
  • No Notes. This is huge. I use Notes all the time. I carry a paper notebook with me all the time, but was rarely using it – might have to get back into that now. I’ll still be able to access Notes via iCloud on a desktop browser or the desktop app, but that leads to another interesting challenge…
  • iCloud sign-in verification. Signing into iCloud requires authorization via a number code sent to your iPhone – I won’t be able to get these anymore.
  • No Calendar on-the-go. I can still access it via the desktop, but with school and kids’ hockey season about to start, this could get interesting. Same for no email. I’ve been without it all Summer, but schools and hockey coaches send a lot of emails – some of them time-sensitive.
  • No camera. Actually, as I mentioned to Steve, I bought a used Canon G10 last year and I’ve really been meaning to use it more than I do, so having no camera on the phone will steer me in that direction.

Though I won’t have access to all this stuff on my phone, with me at all times, the reality is that I will on my Mac desktops – one of which I stand in front of at work for 7 hours a day. How much hassle will the non-constant contact end up causing? It remains to be seen. I’ve been getting a little taste for a few months with no email, and now will find out a little more. Stay tuned for updates on the goings on.

Watchless Weekend

My watch tan. And dry skin.

So a little over a year ago, I decided to give the Apple Series 3 Watch a go. I was able to get it with credit card bonus points, so technically, I didn’t ‘pay’ for it – we won’t mention the hundreds of dollars in interest over time. Initially I was pretty happy with it. I liked the activity monitoring most. Most of what I used it for was tracking steps, exercise activities, timers and alarms, checking the weather and calendar events. I didn’t have the cellular version so I couldn’t use it on it’s own though, so still needed to have the phone nearby.

At first I had it set to notify me of texts and phone calls but after awhile, that got a bit annoying, so in the past couple of months, I turned those off. I had some other issues with it too. Sometimes, particularly during the winter, when wearing gloves or heavier layers and/or tight-fitting neoprene stuff, it would false trigger activity starts and timers. One time, on a bike ride, the gloves/layers somehow combined to perform the magic function of the SOS call to 911 and some nice lady suddenly started talking to me through the watch to make sure I was ok. Had to turn that feature off – probably would have sooner if I’d known about it.

There were other times when it wouldn’t accurately record an activity – I’d go on a 2 hour bike ride and finish to find out for some reason it stopped after 45 minutes or something. Other times, it would auto-start activities like a yoga workout or something when I was only unloading groceries from the car. Sometimes, it wouldn’t ‘wake up’ when I raised my arm to look at it like it’s supposed to – I’d have to smack it with my finger a few times.

Finally I’d pretty much stripped it down and was using it as just a ‘regular old watch’. It would still auto-start or prompt me to start activities I wasn’t doing until I locked all that down. I was starting to wonder why I needed a watch that was so ‘smart’.

The final straw for me was battery life – I pretty much had to charge it every night, and if I went on any sort of extended (3-5 hour) bike ride, I might not make it through the day. Prior to this watch, I had a Garmin VivoActive that I charged once a week, and it had most of the same features as the Apple Watch so it always frustrated me that I had to charge it so often. Still doesn’t make sense to me.

I’d finally had it. I wasn’t really using most of the features of the watch that made it an ‘smart watch’ so decided to just go back to a ‘dumb’ one. I gave the Apple Watch to my kids to try out for the time being.

I went online and found an ‘old school’ watch I liked and had the features I wanted – multiple daily alarms, timer – wouldn’t explode if I fell on it – and ordered it up. While I was waiting for it to arrive, and my kids had the Apple one, I had a weekend with no watch for the first time in a long time, which was weird.

It was an interesting – and not unpleasant – experience not knowing what time it was all the time. I did stuff around the house and didn’t worry too much about it. I found I was more focused, vested – present – in the things I was doing when I wasn’t thinking about what time it was. I’d still have to check once in awhile to make sure kids got where they needed to be when they needed to be there, but other than that, the Universe continued to expand. One problem though was with it being summer and lighter outside later I completely blew past my bedtime.

So after the Lost Watchless Weekend, my replacement ‘dumb’ watch showed up:

The Timex Expedition ‘Shock’. Takes a lickin’ and will presumably keep on tickin’.

So far I’m pretty happy with it. $25USD and a battery that lasts, well, however long it lasts. I don’t have to charge it and it doesn’t accidentally call 911. It tells the time, wakes me up in the morning, sets off an alarm to remind me to get ready for bed and has a timer for when I sit meditation. Unfortunately it does have the rather goofy looking circular 10-second timer thing, which I can’t imagine any use for, but it was created when watch companies were still trying to make watches seem ‘higher-tech’.

So far the only thing I’ve missed about the Apple Watch was the fact that it displayed the current weather on the face. When getting ready to head out the door for a ride, I’d gotten in the habit of giving it a quick glance to see the temperature and conditions to decide how to dress appropriately or what to bring. Since then I’ve had to revert to the archaic means of ‘looking out the window’ or perhaps even checking the weather app on my phone. I know, #firstworldproblems.

I’m happy with it though. One less thing to worry about working/synching/updating/charging. If I don’t respond to your call or text though, don’t blame me – it’s my dumb watch’s fault.

Bedrock Bags Kit Bag

Bedrock Bags Kit Bag

If I have my druthers – I don’t know what a ‘druther’ is, but if I had mine – I’d always prefer to ride my bike directly out of my garage to the trailhead or wherever the group ride meet up point is. I like the solo warmup and I have a real internal conflict with the paradox of putting my bike on a car to drive it somewhere to ride. Sometimes though, for various reasons, it can’t be avoided. It’s still better than not riding the bike at all.

For years I would often struggle with getting kit together for the ride, and invariably, would sometimes end up forgetting something I wish I’d taken. I’d also end up with various pieces and parts of stuff all over the car on the trip to and from the ride. Then Bedrock Bags stepped up and saved the day.

They used to run a Fresh Bag Of the Month (#FBOTM) promotion where once a month they’d make a limited number of some one-off bag and post them up for sale – when they were gone – they were gone, no restocks. They were sometimes quirky bags, usually quite niche and meant to be just that – limited.

A few years back they were promoting this one – I think at the time they were calling it the ‘Kit Bag’ or duffel or something. A bag to hold all your kit for the ride. The photos showed it as being big enough for a helmet, a pair of shoes and miscellaneous other stuff. No pockets. No straps. No extra fanciness. I was hooked and ordered one up. Though I liked the concept, I had no idea at the time just how much I’d come to dig this bag.

It’s really great. I can take it in the house, load it up with various pieces of kit from inside – snacks, wallet, bottles, whatever – and then on the way out of the house, grab my shoes and helmet and throw them in and have everything needed for most any ride that isn’t already on my person or on the bike. If I know I’m going to be headed out early, I’ll even pack it up the night before and it makes things super easy – I only have to remember to bring literally one thing.

Once I get to the ride jump off point, I grab all my stuff out of it. Upon returning from the ride, I can put everything right back into it vs. having it all over the car and more likely to get forgotten/lost. Then, once home, I can bring the thing inside and sort/put away everything easily – nothing gets left/forgotten about in the car. This is even more useful and crucial if you’re catching a ride with someone else in their car.

Bedrock Bags Kit Bag
On this particular day I loaded my bag up with helmet, shoes, gloves, buff, knee warmers, base layer, wind jacket, cap, sunglasses and 2 bottles – and had room for more. You can pack quite a bit in, especially if you make use of empty spaces/cavities by sticking stuff in your shoes and helmet.

I can’t recommend the bag enough. It’s well made, perfectly-sized and lacks complication in the form of pockets, zippers, straps and unnecessary doohickeys. It’s made from bombproof materials and even when it gets dirty I basically just hose it out and let it dry in the sun. I don’t remember what I paid for it, but in hindsight it’s turned out to be some of the best impulse money I’ve ever spent. It was limited as I said, so unfortunately you’d be hard pressed to get one now. I notice that Bedrock has done away with the #FBOTM and replaced it with their ‘Limited Edition’ bags – of which there’s currently a kit bag similar to this one, but as a waxed canvas version. Personally, while I’m sure these current ones are just as well made – I’m glad I’ve got my technical fabric one instead. It’s been used and loved and tossed around with nary a scuff or scratch.

Full disclosure – I’ve used it for other things well. It just so happens when traveling with the dog on in-car road trips, it perfectly holds his food and bowl, a bottle of water, leash, towel and and some toys.

Bedrock Bags Kit Bag

Could I have just used a tote/duffel/backpack or even a plastic grocery bag instead? Yeah sure. But each would have had it’s own particular issues. They would have worked, but not solved the problem in such a singularly perfect way. Think about the juxtaposition of using an adjustable wrench vs. a perfectly sized socket. I’m a sucker for something that is purpose built and works methodically.

1971 Land Rover Series IIA

Not your Daddy’s Oldsmobile.

Stolen from my buddy Steve’s site.

Mine is not your conventional mid-life crisis. I don’t want the fast red sports car. I long for the slow, red truck that’s noisy and has no radio. No bluetooth. No heated seats. This particular one is a nice shade, has the additional cool tie-in of being from the year of my birth and even has a hitch receiver for the bike rack. Link to my gofundme page will be up soon…