Bike Light Review: Cygolite Hotshot 100 lumen Rear Light

As summer’s luxuriously long days grew shorter and shorter, I spent a while in denial. I thought of myself as someone who “doesn’t really ride at night all that much.” So I didn’t invest in a very good light. The light I used ran on batteries that only seemed to last a few days. Now that the sun sets around 4pm, I ride in the dark every day. I saw other commuters with brighter lights – great furnaces I noticed from blocks away. I grew envious. At last, I decided to accept that I am actually someone who rides at night all the time. Therefore a proper light was not decadent, but entirely appropriate. It was time to turn the green lights on getting that red light. So for a new rear light user, I decided to write up my own bike light review to share with other nightly commuters.

Cygolite Hotshot
Cygolite Hotshot 100 lumens (Bright!)

Cygolite Hotshot Bike Light Review

I decided on the Cygolite hotshot with 100 lumens. The packaging warns “do not look directly into the light” and boy howdy were they right! My previous tail light couldn’t blind a mole. This Cygolite turns everyone behind me red! I now no longer roll up to stoplights, embarrassed by my weak glow. Now that I’ve had the chance to ride with it a few times, I’ll admit that 100 lumens is probably more than you’d need for riding in well lit areas with lots of other cyclists. This isn’t a problem because you can adjust the brightness of the Cygolite with a button. However, if you’re deciding between the 100 or 50 lumen model, you may be fine with the latter.

I try to have as few things that run on batteries as possible. Batteries can be expensive and are a pretty toxic form of garbage after they’re used up. If you do use batteries, make sure you’re recycling them the right way. Cygolites charge with a USB cable and can go up to 200 hours of use on a charge, so I figure I’ll end up saving money in the long run. Overall, this is the light I’d reccomend to anyone looking to be seen.

Bike Food Part 1 : How to Make Your Ride Delicious

If you’ve ridden a bike much, you may have noticed there are few kitchens on the side of the road. You also may have noticed you are hungry. You are not alone. But with a some preparation, a positive spirit and burritos, you’ll find there is bike food out there suitable for all cyclists.

Bike Food

I always carry at least a granola bar in my saddle bag. “Bonking,” or running out of energy on a bike ride, is at best an avoidable bummer. At worst, it can be a health hazard, especially if you are far from civilization or riding in cold weather. Fueling your ride can be either a chore or a delicious picnic. It’s easy to find a place to get food in a city like Portland where food trucks are around every corner! But when traveling longer distances, a little planning and attitude makes all the difference.

Your body does require more calories and electrolytes while exercising, but don’t be intimidated by sports food marketing. “Electrolytes” is basically just another way to say “salt”. Calories and electrolytes exist in literally all food. This is what makes it food. Over my experience on longer rides and tours, I’ve found a few favorite foods that fit well in a jersey pocket or saddle bag and add to the pleasure of riding a bike. Then again, everything tastes better after a long bike ride.

Burrito!

A perfect pocket-sized sandwich. I used to have a shirt that said “53 miles per burrito,” which is pretty accurate. The real advantage of this food is the near ubiquity of taco trucks in some parts.  Many times have I been saved from hunger by some middle-of-nowhere taqueria. Remember to bring some cash when you ride, if you dream of burritos.

Trail Mix!

I guess on a bike it would technically be a “road mix,” but the principle remains the same. You can make it as fancy or cheap as you’d like, but I like to buy a bunch of ingredients in bulk and mix them into bags to take with me. Here is a rough recipe I like:

  • 2 parts peanuts
  • 1 part mini pretzels
  • 2 parts dried fruit (like cranberries or raisins)
  • 1 part banana chips
  • 1 part something exciting like chocolate chips

Harmonious Pairs

Snacks don’t have to be complex. Some of the most satisfying road foods I kept going back to were pairs of things that go together. This is partly because its easier to find just two things at a random convenience store in the middle of nowhere. But also you don’t want to spend all your time planning food when you could be riding. Here are a few of the pairs I kept going back to on longer rides:Apple and Nut ButterHummus and chips

  • Apple and Nut Butter
  • Carrots/Chips and Hummus
  • Avocado and Tortillas
  • Banana and Granola
  • Burritos and Burritos

Beverage

Water is the best beverage, but sometimes you want something else. You can get fancy powders that magic your water into a smoothie or a sports drink. I prefer to use a little lemon juice or hibiscus mixed with honey, or even coconut water. On long trips with friends, I like to hide a bottle of beer in my pannier. When you arrive at your destination everyone is tired, but a little surprise at the end can turn “ugh, what a ride…” into “wow, what a ride!”

Bike food is important for the mind, body and spirit. As important as it is to take care of your bike, it’s probably more important to take care of yourself! Put the right things in your body and you’ll get the best out of your bike and yourself! Stay tuned for more bike food tips in part 2 and part 3.

Make Bike Riding Hurt Less: The Anti Chafe Cream for Cyclists

A touchy subject, but an important one. Chafing hurts cyclists from loved ones to enemies, traveling tourists to downhill mountain racers. But I am here to help you make bike riding hurt less. I recall my first intimate inner thigh irritation experience when I made the switch from underwear to boxers in my angsty and rebellious youth. One hot summer day after hours of play in the sun… it happened. The annoyance, the discomfort, the absolute turmoil was too much for some baby powder (Really dad? You hiked the Sierras and baby powder was the best solution you had).

Fast forward. It’s 2016. Taking long strides and walking like bigfoot to avoid the torturous touching of my inner legs, I’m browsing the walls at a bicycle shop in Portland, OR after a long ride. I can hear the spandex from my pants stretching, exhausted despite not performing their duty. From the corner of my eye, I spot a colorful purple and yellow box. “Chamois Butt’r” it read. I assumed it was a small energy pack similar to the GU energy gels and reached for one.

Finally! You can make bike riding hurt less!

Four tubes of chamois butt'r

Luckily before oral consumption I decided to read the packaging. There it was. “The Ultimate Skin Lubricant.” Without hesitation, I purchased a small pack and awkwardly found a hidden corner to apply my new discovery. Instantly, I was able to move around comfortably. Wielding a large grin, I skipped around the shop testing the product as others looked at me with confusion and disdain (and a little jealousy). But it didn’t matter. I’d found the solution. I’d found solace. I’d found a way to make bike riding hurt less.

However, this is not the solution for everybody. Some riders have ultra sensitive skin and this does not provide the necessary lubrication. Other riders don’t need as much cream or find other options such as Body Glide more effective. For those traveling upwards of 20 miles, it may be best to carry extra butt’r for more applications along your route. But for a rider, runner and chafer like myself, Chamois Butt’r is a part of my leg rubbing ritual.

Now, biking up hills is treacherous because of the ascent, not the abrasion. Now, I pedal with my legs close together, the non-greasy cream allowing me to focus. I look back at the butt’rless days restricting me from my potential as a cyclist and a person. I look excitedly into my rash free future.

Closed for the Holidays!

Dear friends!

As we approach this holiday season we will be closed on December 24th – 26th and again on December 31st – January 1st. Thanks for stopping in for bike mechanic work, accessories, rentals, tours and our new Sock Hop business which is now open via the interwebs! Make sure to come in before for that last minute gift (or after if you forgot some people). Our socks make the perfect present for family, friends or yourself!

Happy Holidays!

The Cycle Portland Staff

Our Year in Review: 2017

A Year in Review for Cycle Portland: 2017

What a year 2017 has been.  As the newer members of the shop (Frederick, Jesse and Quoc) write this post, we reflect on our time since joining the Cycle Portland team, and some of our accomplishments along the way. Cycle Portland has truly opened up our eyes to the versatility of businesses in Portland. The story of this shop is an interesting tale and we are all glad to be part of its telling.

Cycle Portland
What a year. What a shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cycle Portland is always evolving, and has hit a great stride for 2017. Today, in a full service bike shop, our ability to quickly fix bikes and get them back to their owners is something to be proud of. As the Cycle Portland mechanic, I (Quoc), lover of all things bikes, come into the shop every day with an enormous grin on my face. I’m always happy to explain what issue a bicycle is having and how to solve the problem in the future.

This year also brought some exciting tours! With visitors enthusiastic about riding, learning and sharing, we (Frederick and Jesse) have found ourselves in the right place. Leading bicycle tours has its ups and downs (those are the hills), but it’s always a blast to share this wonderful city with others! Delivering tours on history, food and beer bring our favorite parts of Portland to visitors and locals alike. I think what we both enjoy so much about our tours are that each one is different. We are able to share what we have the most experience with and love most about the city.

We’ve also seen huge growth in the socks displayed in our window and throughout the shop! The expansion of our sock boutique, Sock Hop, has added more to its collection and just launched online. Our collection of funny, sassy, awesome socks fit right in with the Cycle Portland culture (and right on your feet). We’re excited to see where it goes!

In less happy news, one of our go-to microbreweries, The Commons, closed its doors at the end of this year. We’ll miss their old-world brews, but are looking forward to mixing it up with new routes for our Brew Tour! We are also excited to announce that starting in 2018 we will be serving two beers on Tap at the bike shop. Why not stop by some time to check out some socks, talk bikes, and enjoy a cold brew?

Keep Hope Alive in Winter: Actually Prepare

Step 2: Actually Prepare for Winter. Suddenly Commuting isn’t so Hard!

Obvious in retrospect, but when I was in college I rode my carbon race bike (my only bike for a while) everywhere. There was no room for fenders in this SUPERFAST frame, so I would show up everywhere very wet. Now that I am older and (a bit) wiser, I realize that there is no gear more stylish than the crinkly clothes that go “swshswshswsh” because you can shed them like a wet snake skin when you arrive at your destination. The trick is you have to cover actually every part of yourself. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize, but this means jacket, pants, boots, gloves, and a hood or hat. If you want to commute like a professional, here are some recommendations from our staff with over 5 years of Portland commuting experience…

 

Lights

The #1 essential you should always shoot for is a spectacular pair of lights. Lights are good to have through all seasons, but especially so when the days are darker and shorter. I usually carry one high quality, USB rechargeable set, and one cheaper, disposable battery set as a back-up. The higher quality lights will be on my bike, with the back-up set in my bag. Be sure to remove lights from your bike when you lock it up, as these tend to be thief-bait. My favorite lights in general, and that we carry in the shop, are by Light & Motion.

Light & Motion Urban 650 Headlamp
Light & Motion Urban 650 Headlamp

Pictured above is the Urban 650 at $80. I’ve had this light since I started commuting 5 years ago and it still works fantastically. Cheaper lights I’ve bought have had a much shorter lifespan. We carry a variety of Light & Motion lights up to 800. The Urban 350 is fantastic for city riding, especially if your commute is already lit. If you’re like me, and have very dark commutes with no lamps, the 650 is a good go-to.

 

Raingear

The first thing you want to do before you ride is check the weather report. What’s today’s high/low? What are the chances of precipitation by the hour? I like to think of “percent chance” of rain as actually being “percent volume”. But most telling: How many centimeters or inches is it supposed to rain today?

That last question helps me really decide how much gear I need each day. For example, if it’s going to rain 0.3in or more in one day I will definitely grab my pair of rain pants and rain boots. Here’s how I personally categorize rainfall/day:

 

Other Gear

Fenders are essential, unless you are a fan of mud stripes down your back. Depending on your commuting situation, you may also consider upgrading to all-weather brake pads, upgrading to wider tires with more grip, or covering your bike up if you park it outside to prevent excess wear. Come by the shop and we’ll be more than happy to help you get set up for year-round riding and turn that frowny commute upside-down. Plus, if you come in before December 31st, all our accessories are 25% off, so you’ll save on your lights, fenders and other gear!

 

 

Keep Hope Alive in Winter: Plan Your Next Tour

If you moved to Portland a few months ago, you may have thought you were moving to a land of eternal summer. Just look at all the yards growing banana plants and the abundance of patio seating! Now that the weight of your misunderstanding is sinking in, you may be looking for ways to keep  hope alive through the long drizzle season. A cyclist does not run on burritos alone, after all. Here we will encourage you through the winter time by planning for your next tour.

Banana Plant

Step 1: Believe Summer Will Return

Don’t get your head in the clouds, summer doesn’t have clouds. Instead, spend your indoor-time dreaming of all the bike tours you will embark on next year. Weekend tours can be planned fairly spur of the moment.  Maybe a jaunt to L.L.Stub Steward State Park (The Banks-Veronia Trail goes straight through it)? Or perhaps a loop around the Columbia Gorge (Ainsworth State Park has a spacious bike-camping field)? Longer tours might require a winter of planning.

I did not plan much for my tour into California. While it mostly worked out in the end, you might benefit from spending your pent-up energy planning more obsessively than I did. I left Olympia, WA with no destination except “South.” I took the carbon road bike I raced in college, since that was the only bike I had. As I pulled into the campground I intended to stay on the first evening of my tour, I went over a speed bump and my rack fell off. Don’t try to tour with a carbon seatpost and a clamp-on rack! I was then told the campground was closed. So I carried all my gear on my head while I looked for a bridge to sleep under until it was light enough to hitchhike to the nearest town. The next day I bought an aluminum seatpost.

So Plan Your Tour

You can spend a whole winter deciding on a destination, but the journey itself is really the important part. Highway 101 is an ideal touring route. It has abundant views, quaint seaside towns and world-class parks. Some 800 miles later, I ended up in Yolo County in a town of about 150 people. I spent the winter on a family farm/goat dairy and eating the most delicious oranges and pomegranates I ever had.

Welcome to Yolo

If you’d like some help dreaming up your next bike tour, why not stop by the shop for some tea? From our combined wealth of experience, we can suggest routes through the San Juan Islands, Glacier National Park, across India, and beyond. You might just keep the drizzle from seeping into your spleen (well known organ of hope).

 

Coming next: “Step 2: Actually Prepare for Winter.”