Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bike Sports

One of the beautiful things about bikes is their versatility - ride 'em on the roads, the trails, the jumps.  Ride to work, ride for fun.  But one thing until recently that hadn't come onto my radar is sports based around bikes - this includes Bike Polo, Bike Jousting, Foot Down, and Bikejoring (a personal favorite).  What are these sports, you ask?  Glad you asked!

Bike Polo is basically exactly what it sounds like, only it's played on a basketball court, usually on fixies or BMX bikes.  In fact, with the exception of Bikejoring, just about all bike sports seem to best be played on those kinds of bikes, if only because you don't necessarily need your hands to brake.  While I don't have any photographs, bike polo reminds me of nothing so much as the street hockey scene from Wayne's World, complete with the sweet bike crash at the end:

Bike Jousting has got to be one of the most testosterone-fueled, hairbrained things I've ever had the privilege to witness in person.  You get yourself a gaggle of rowdy, drunk cyclists.  Add a basketball court (sensing a theme here?), and two decent-sized PVC pipes, hopefully with foam haphazardly strapped to the ends.  Ride at each other and try to knock each other off your bikes.  I've never seen ANYONE participating in Bike Jousting wear a helmet, but EVERYONE I've ever seen Bike Joust has promptly taken a bike-clanging, bell-ringing dive into the concrete not too long after.  As spectator sports go it's awesome, though you'll never catch me participating.

Foot Down is a "Game" that's also an exercise in bike handling and balance.  I've played, but never in any large group.  Basically with Foot Down, you and however many other cyclists enter a "ring", and attempt to knock each other off your bikes with your hands, while evading being knocked down.  Anyone who puts a foot down is eliminated.  In large groups, I've seen people take huge dives in this game, but for for me, this was a way to get comfortable avoiding obstacles when I was still a newbie cyclist with trouble evading targets like, yknow, poles.

That brings me to Bikejoring.  This sport is basically a branch of Skijoring, which is where you put on cross country skis, a belt, and attach a harnessed dog or two to that belt and BECOME THE SLED.  This has been adopted by those of us from warmer climates using implements like rollerblades, skateboards, scooters, and of course bikes.  People actually have races for this stuff.  It's most common among owners of breeds traditionally used for pulling - Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, and Malamutes, but it's also popular among owners of any high-energy working breed.  I personally regularly participate in a bastard version of this activity in which I run my big dog in-harness with my bike.  It's utter madness to run a dog with a bike, and I totally love it.

I thought I'd throw these out there - as opposed to racing, BMX and the other "mainstream" bike sports, these are interesting, creative ways to use the bike and they deserve more attention.  If you have any other suggestions for bike-sports I've omitted here, bring 'em on!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keeping Track

Back In The Day when I had the Cannondale and rode it ALL THE TIME, I had a cycling computer which tracked total distance, cadence, time, and all the other magical things a cycling computer tracks for you. Sadly, one day as I was headed out for a 40 mile ride, 964 miles on the odometer, the wires broke and that computer never did crack the 1000 mile barrier.

 In the meantime, I've always meant to, and never had the financial freedom to justify getting a Garmin cycling computer to keep track of my rides and tell me all the fancy data a nerd like me likes to know.  Least of all when I was working for a company I could get a discount on one (the cruel joke of my sporting goods life is now that I make enough money for spare spending, I no longer get an employee discount).  In the interminable interim though, I've downloaded Strava, an App that does a lot of the same stuff off the GPS function of my phone. Hurray! I've gots the data again!

There's the small hitch - if anyone's actually read back far enough in this blog, or been reading it that long, the Wurst Ride last year taught me something very, very important. Holy god is it mission-critical to have a functioning phone if you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, unable to muster the urge to ride further. My memories of that ride are largely of gritting my teeth past a drab brown landscape, wanting to kill whoever invented headwind.  While my phone tracked most of the ride (at the time I was using Map My Ride), using the GPS for that long also ate my battery for lunch.  As a result, I was standing at an intersection of BFE and the Boondocks praying to borrow a cell phone with which to call for help.  As situations go, it wasn't the best place to find myself.

But my inner data nerd cannot rest.  So I'm back where I started - thinking about GPS bike computers that can do the tracking for me without risking the battery of my emergency-contact-system.  Dammit, those things are expensive.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I haven't had much to post about lately, so it's been a bit dead in the Yay Bikes! world.  That doesn't mean I've been off the bike, though!  Actually, I've been more active lately than I have in a long time.  As proof, I submit: