Bring me simple stats, stat!

Fuji on Primrose HillI’ve just read a wonderful article on Wired about Nike+, the stat-tracking system for runners – which made me realise how archaic cycle computers are.

Basically, Nike makes a shoe with a sensor which measures how long your feet stay on the ground when you run. This allows it to track how fast you’re running – there’s an easy calculation that’s accurate to 5%.

This data is collected by your iPod and automatically uploaded to the Nike+ website when it’s synced. The site lets you track how far and fast you ran on each outing – complete with simple, pretty graphs.

Brilliant training and motivational stats, with minimal effort.

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The right bike for the job

Fuji handlebarsI went on a ride today, along what I was told was a nicely paved cycle path. I took my track bike, with its skinny tires and cut-down handlebars.

After a few miles of glassy-smooth Tarmac it crumbled into nothing but forest paths, shingle and bumps.

The guys on knobbly-tired mountain bikes had been slower on the smooth stuff, and I struggled on the rough. Still, nothing broke, and I had a great time.

It got me thinking, though; the right bike for the job is all well and good, but you can’t get bogged down by it. My Fuji was designed for the velodrome, but it ploughed through miles and miles of forest today.

If you don’t have a road bike, you can still race away your Sunday. If you don’t have a mountain bike, you don’t have to skirt around every pebble and twig. Not having exactly the right gear is no excuse.

It reminds me of an Eddy Merckx quote on how to speed-up: “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades”.

Fearless, brakeless and senseless

Disc BrakeI’m as pleased by the popularity of fixed-gear bikes as must be knee surgeons and the manufacturers of garish powder coat.

Anything that makes riding bikes fashionable is OK by me, and not just because I’ll be able to snap up some bargains on eBay in a couple of years time when the wave of craze recedes.

The only problem I have with the whole phixed phenomenon is the subset of riders on the streets who are simply dangerous: The Brakeless. Continue reading