Archive for January, 2010

What Do Cyclists Think About The Titus Tattoo Marketing Campaign?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I wrote a post in my marketing blog a few days ago about the current marketing campaign Titus is running on Facebook. The premise of the campaign is that people design a Titus Tattoo and tell the community of Facebook fans where on their bodies they would put it. Fans vote on which concept they like best and the “winner” is flown to Titus headquarters in Arizona, gets the tattoo (applied by an artist of the company’s choosing) and is awarded a mountain bike worth about $5,500.

My premise is that this is a ridiculous campaign because Titus is a premium brand and tattoos, while awesome, are still a little low-brow in many people’s mind. Moreover, paying people to get a tattoo of your company is lame and quite the opposite of authentic. Ultimately, while plenty of cyclists enjoy tattoos, they aren’t an integral part of the cycling culture.

I thought I’d ask the readers of this blog to help me with a reality check. So ….. as a cyclist, please let me know what do you think of this campaign? Does it change your perception of the brand? Does it make you want to run out and buy a Titus? Does it make you want to go to Facebook and submit a design? Finally, if  you were to get a tattoo of a cycling brand, what would it be? I can only think of one — Campagnolo — and I’d be willing to bet that they’d never pull a marketing stunt like this.

Drivers VS. Cyclists

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Silly? I think so.

The tension between drivers and cyclists seems to be heating up. Some jackass even started a Facebook Fan Page called “There’s a Perfectly Good Path Right Next to the Road You Stupid Cyclist” that is currently getting a bit of notoriety. If you read through some of the comments, you’ll see a lot of drivers who talk about wanting to kill cyclists — or at least about how much they enjoy honking their horns at us or flipping us off. Of course, drivers aren’t the only ones saying stupid stuff on the page. One cyclist took it so far as to let people know she carries a gun while she rides and how she is looking to shoot at aggressive drivers.

Yesterday I was contacted by someone from asking if I wanted to share links with them on this blog (which, I guess, I’m doing in a way right here). These guys are selling riding jerseys saying things like “Share the Damn Road” or “Don’t Honk at Me.” Frankly, I think this is a flawed approach and these jerseys are more likely to inspire honking and other bad behavior than discourage it. I’m going to assume that most cyclists realize this and that these guys won’t be around for very long.

Let’s face facts — there are a lot of stupid people in the world, and many of them drive cars. Plenty also ride bikes and some are even serious riders. I hate to say it, but I’ve seen several cyclists — ESPECIALLY ON ORGANIZED RIDES — whose behavior justifies anger on the part of drivers. It is as if all of the sudden, riding 6 abreast or riding down the middle of the lane is just fine. I do realize that endorphins seem to have a negative impact on mental acuity, but there’s more to it than that. These cyclists put themselves and the rest of us at risk.

This poses a problem. While I’m confident that I could hold my own in a physical altercation with an angry driver who decided to stop his car and get out to try and demonstrate how tough he is, chances are that’s not going to happen. They are much more likely to choose the more cowardly tactic of yelling, throwing or using their car as a weapon. I have no doubt about who is more likely to prevail then and it isn’t the person wearing Lycra.

If you are a cyclist on a group ride and see a fellow rider acting like a fool, let them know in no uncertain terms what you think about the fact that they are putting YOU in danger. Finally, if you are a cyclist who actually carries a firearm while riding, do yourself (and the rest of the pro-gun community) a favor. Keep that fact to yourself or, at the very least, don’t go online and write about how you plan to shoot at aggressive drivers. Part of being a responsible gun owner is knowing when you can/can’t should/shouldn’t use lethal force. If you’ve received proper training, you’ll understand why going online and telling the world how you want to cap people is not too swift. If you haven’t received this type of training, you shouldn’t be carrying a gun in the first place.

At any rate, this season I’m expecting the very real potential that more drivers will feel OK about acting like jerks around cyclists (after all, now they have a place on Facebook where they can tell all their friends how much fun they had running a cyclist off the road). It might be valuable to think in advance of how you will respond. After a few years of trial and error, I’ve come up with my own theory on how to treat a rude motorist — ignore them completely. If they honk, yell or whatever, don’t give them a response. Even flipping them off shows that they’ve gotten to you, and that’s what they want. If they do something that endangers you or your fellow riders, get a license plate and call it in. It’s that simple. If they stop and threaten you, that’s a different story — then it is time to defend yourself in whatever way the situation demands.

Beyond that, act as an ambassador for cycling. If there is a car behind you, get over to the side of the road and wave them past. If a driver shows you a courtesy, be sure to signal your appreciation. Respect the rights of other drivers, but also make sure they respect your rights to be safe. If there’s a bike lane, use it, but if the bike lane is full of debris, don’t. If you need to take a lane, do so. For example, if you are going to make a left turn, own the turning lane. Don’t allow yourself to get pushed off to the left-hand section of that lane.

If You Like Cycling, You’ll Love the FredCast

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

I’ve mentioned on this blog how much I enjoy Bicycling Magazine. It has great information and is particularly well-written. A few weeks ago, while getting the iPod ready for an upcoming business trip, I decided to give Podcasts another look.

I’m very glad I did because I discovered another excellent source for all the latest and greatest cycling info — the FredCast. The FredCast is all about cycling. It covers news, professional racing, reviews and tips for endurance cyclists. Particular attention is paid to “high-zoot” bikes and gear, which is fine with me, so long as I’m not driven to actually purchase any of it. The host is also a major Mac geek, which I appreciate now that I’ve pretty much drunk that Kool Aid.

On my flight from Seattle to Calgary, I found myself getting into the FredCast so much, I was actually disappointed that my flight wasn’t longer (and I was on one of those little Horizon Air Turbo prop planes, so that’s saying quite a lot). If you use an iPod or iPhone, you can download the FredCast via iTunes. If not, you can go to the FredCast Website and download it as an MP3 file, or just listen online. The FredCast is put out weeklyish and is free. Check it out.

Tips and Tricks for the Garmin Edge 705 GPS Bike Computer

Thursday, January 14th, 2010
I could not love a human baby as much as I love this device

I could not love a human baby as much as I do this computer

Last year I took the lead on planning rides for Team Fartlek as we trained for Cycle Oregon. At first I used Microsoft Streets and Trips to map out the routes. I’d print maps and directions for most of the crew and we’d use them to try and find our way. Dealing with maps and directions on a bike pretty much blows. We ended up stopping and checking constantly and, more often than not, we’d still get at least a little bit lost.

Mid-season I switched to the Garmin 705 GPS bike computer and that all changed. Truth be told, this is probably one of the coolest and useful gadgets I’ve ever owned. So much so that I’m not even sure it is properly classified as a gadget.

It is a killer cycling computer that lets you monitor and track any piece of data you could possibly wish to track including heart rate, cadence, speed, incline, altitude, etc., etc., etc. On top of that, it is also a GPS that provides turn-by-turn directions of planned routes and keeps track of everywhere you ride. If you want a detailed review, there are plenty to be found online. The purpose of this post is to let you in on some of the things I’ve learned about how to use this device. Because as awesome as it is, it works best in the hands of someone who learns its little nuances.

1) Map your route using either the Garmin MapSource software or something like MapMyRide. I like the Garmin software a bit better, but use MapMyRide because I can share the maps with my team and they are able to print them out for themselves. I can also embed MapMyRide maps in my blog, which is an excellent feature. Either way, when loading the route into your device, be sure to download it as a GPX file. This will allow you to get turn-by-turn directions. If you use one of the older types of files, you will only be able to see the route on a map (which is still helpful, just not as cool).

2)  Have a good idea of where you are going and carry a back up map — and use your head. I do place a lot of trust in the device. However, I don’t trust it completely. This is especially true if you are going on a road or path that is not on the mapping software. For example, MapMyRide can’t deal with ferry crossings very well. One ride I did last season was an out-and-back with a ferry crossing in the middle. It worked OK going out, but on the way back it got confused and tried to direct us to a bridge 10 miles away (that also happens to be closed). That would have been bad.

3)  You need to remember to press start when you begin your ride. Turning it on isn’t enough. If you don’t hit start, many of the functions will still work, but the device isn’t collecting all the data and it isn’t guiding you along the route. If you hit start too late, chances are good the device will try to direct you to the start of your route. That’s not good. If that happens, the best thing to do is to reset, start pedaling, then tell it to start navigating WHILE YOU ARE RIDING. As it is calculating, it may recognize that you are following the planned route and  start navigating to the next way point. If not, you’ll still be able to follow the course by using the map, but turn-by-turn won’t work right.

Let's face it, sometimes, getting lost is just plain undesirable -- particularly when you are wearing Lycra tights

4) If mapping a route that starts and stops in the same location, consider putting the start point and the stop point in two different places. Put the mapped starting point a quarter mile or so down the road from the true starting point and the mapped stopping point a little beyond the real stopping point. If the computer thinks you’ve arrived at the stopping point at the beginning of the ride, your turn-by-turn wont work (as it thinks you are done with the ride). If you try to reset, the device will sometimes try and take you back to the start as explained above. Also, if you start in a parking lot, map the start point on the road so you don’t have to ride around in circles finding the place the GPS thinks you are supposed to start.

5) While the device’s software is really good, Garmin did one thing that was really goofy. The computer allows you to look at two screen’s worth of data fields (each screen lets you look at up to 8 pieces of data such as speed, cadence, heart rate, etc.) at a time. You use the toggle switch to go back and fourth between the screens when riding.

You choose how each screen is set up in the “Data Fields” menu. In that menu, screens are marked “Bike Computer 1” and “Bike Computer 2.” This may lead you to believe one screen is for one bike and the other screen is for another bike. Not so. You can use both screens. If using multiple bikes, build a profile for each bike. Then, before your ride, choose which bike you are using. Both screens work for the bike you choose. To switch between bike profiles, you can hold the mode button down for a few seconds and you’ll be able to make a selection. This shortcut is not in the instructions.

I’ll update this post (or create a new one) as I learn more. If you have any tricks of your own, please feel free to share.

Cyclepasion Calendar — Product Review

Monday, January 11th, 2010

More about the women than the bike, the cyclepassion calendar is still very pleasing to the eye

I was very excited when my Cyclepassion Calendar arrived today. The photos are lovely and it is a little larger than I expected. The models are all beautiful women in skimpy outfits who also happen to be professional cyclists from Europe. Of course other than that and the occasional bicycle-related prop, it isn’t immediately obvious that the calendar has anything to do with cycling.

If you have a spouse who isn’t into the whole pin-up thing, she might argue that this is a little much. Also, as a calendar it is fairly minimalistic — basically a string of numbers at the bottom of the page corresponding to the number of days in the month is all you get. However, the weekend dates are printed in a larger font, so with a little effort,  you can figure out which days correspond with the dates. Since I use my computer for calendaring purposes, this is OK with me.

Finally, due to the weak dollar, this calendar is pretty pricey and the shipping cost is downright absurd. Fortunately, if you look carefully, you can find the calendar sold for a lot less on other international Websites.

Sooooo. If you like to look at scantily-clad cyclists, aren’t worried about the lack of cycling content, have an understanding spouse, a little extra cash and use an electronic calendar for marking appointments and such, you’re sure to love this calendar. I know I do.