Benefits of Cycling #27: Freeing Yourself from the Coffin of Electronics Our Modern Lives Have Become
The Wide Open Road Awaits near Onyu Pass (おにゅう峠)north of Kyoto, Japan -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/6.3, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
The Wide Open Road Awaits
near Onyu Pass (おにゅう峠)north of Kyoto, Japan

Ah, the wide open road, one of the great benefits of cycling, getting away from the stress of the city and immersing oneself in nature, freeing oneself, at least temporarily, from the coffin of electronics that our modern lives have become.

Cycling lets you leave the electronic shackles behind, and connect with nature and friends.

Whether Cycling Alone... at Mt. Norikura (乗鞍岳) (Japan's highest paved road) -- Mt. Norikura (乗鞍岳) -- Takayama, Gifu, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Whether Cycling Alone...
at Mt. Norikura (乗鞍岳)
(Japan's highest paved road)
.. Or with a Friend... -- Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 41mm — 1/200 sec, f/3.5, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
... Or with a Friend...
... or Two -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
... or Two
... or Three -- Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/125 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
... or Three
... or 100 -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ + front camera — 1/120 sec, f/2.2, ISO 40 — map & image datanearby photos
... or 100

Don't get me wrong.... hiking can be great, as can motorcycling. Both get you away from the rat race, but cycling seems to hit the sweet spot. You can see a larger variety of different scenery than you can on foot, yet you're still raw with nature, unlike when on a motorcycle.

But the biggest benefit may be in freeing your mind from all the modern hassles, leaving all the electronics behind.

Well, except a light... you should have an electronic light.

One Bit of Electronics Not to Ditch for safety, to be seen -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — image data
One Bit of Electronics Not to Ditch
for safety, to be seen
Okay, One More arguably more important than the first -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/4, ISO 5000 — image data
Okay, One More
arguably more important than the first

I'm pretty anal about safety, so I run with lights on the front and back at all times, even during the middle of the day. So, I do have to make sure that their internal batteries are charged before every ride.

Actually, in my case, my bike's shifters are electronics, so I need to make sure they're charged as well.

Shimano Di2 Front Derailleur -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 5600 — image data
Shimano Di2 Front Derailleur
Shimano Di2 Rear Derailleur -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 5000 — image data
Shimano Di2 Rear Derailleur

It's not fun when the derailleurs run out of battery, as I found out on a 225km ride last month. The entire Di2 system is charged via a control box under the handlebar stem:

Shimano Di2 Control Box and the SM-EWW01 wireless unit piggybacking below -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 2200 — image data
Shimano Di2 Control Box
and the SM-EWW01 wireless unit piggybacking below

The problem when the battery ran out, I realize now, was that the wireless unit takes a lot more battery than the unit itself. Without the wireless unit, the battery lasts for months, but with it, weeks. I'd added it just prior to that long ride, and hadn't yet realized just what an electronic toll it takes. So now I make sure to charge its battery much more often.

The wireless unit transmits the current status of the derailleurs to my cycling computer, which I guess is another bit of electronics I rely on...

Garmin Edge 820 cycling computer -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 2800 — image data
Garmin Edge 820
cycling computer

Now that I think about it, I do need to bring my phone with me just in case...

Pretty Much Required for communication and mapping in case of troubles -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 2800 — image data
Pretty Much Required
for communication and mapping in case of troubles

... and going along with that, so I can be alerted to messages and such...

Apple Watch vibrates on the wrist so I can be alerted even if I can't hear -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 800 — image data
Apple Watch
vibrates on the wrist so I can be alerted even if I can't hear
Sunglasses Need a Good Charge or they wouldn't be very good as sunglasses, would they? -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 800 — image data
Sunglasses Need a Good Charge
or they wouldn't be very good as sunglasses, would they?

I need to write up a post on these sunglasses (CTRL One), which can instantly convert between tinted and mostly-clear, at the touch of a button. I find them very useful because I can maintain eye protection (from bugs, raindrops, etc.) even when plummeting down a mountain in dark forest shade.

I Usually Bring a Camera either this Panasonic LX100 or a Nikon D4 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 900 — image data
I Usually Bring a Camera
either this Panasonic LX100 or a Nikon D4

And while we're on the subject of cameras, as both a kind of insurance and just to have the cool footage, I like to have cycling cameras on both the front and back...

Rear Camera Cycliq Fly6 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1800 — image data
Rear Camera
Cycliq Fly6
Front Camera Cycliq Fly12 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1800 — image data
Front Camera
Cycliq Fly12

These Cycliq products are poorly thought out, poorly designed, and poorly supported, but they more or less work and don't have any competition in this product space, so I guess it's the best I can do.

In the photo above the camera and cycling computer are attached to the bike with a K-Edge mount that I wrote about recently, about how it broke under stress and how K-Edge came through. Since writing that post, another copy of the same mount failed in the same way. I wrote back to the company, but haven't heard anything for more than a week. Sadly, I guess the trust the mount had regained is lost. I'm no longer using it. UPDATE: They did send me another round of replacements, and this time they've got it right. I've used the final version for thousands of kilometers without issue.

And to continue with speaking of disappointing products, I currently use two products by Wahoo, but they're both pretty bad.

Wahoo Speed-and-Cadence Sensor horribly designed; already broken -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 6400 — image data
Wahoo Speed-and-Cadence Sensor
horribly designed; already broken

The Wahoo Blue SC speed and cadence sensor seems like a great product at first. It's both ANT+ and Bluetooth, which is super convenient. It's the only one I know of that can talk to both my iPhone and my cycling computer at the same time. But it's got the most moronic design.

It attaches to the bike with a big rubber band. The band hooks to one side of the unit more or less permanently, is stretched around part of the bike (the non-drive-side chainstay), then hooks back onto the unit on the other side. This is a common way of attaching stuff to a bike, but the way Wahoo implemented it is fantastically bad because they put the hook side facing in, so you really can't get at it without taking the wheel off, and even then it helps to have small hands. Then, to make matters worse — much worse — the more or less permanently attach point is anything but... the band barely fits into the tiny shallow notch, and immediately pops out the moment you put any strain on the band (such as when trying to attach it to the bike), unless the planets are aligned just so.

If you are able to get it to stay as you stretch the band, you've then got to figure out how to get the band to the rear of the unit, something that would perhaps be easy in the best of conditions (inside a workshop with the bike mounted and the wheel off), but it's the mother of all frustration out on the road. I would never try to work with this unit within earshot of my parents or child.

Luckily my parents and child don't often ride with me, because one needs to deal with this piece of crap out on the road from time to time because the band has a habit of just popping off for no apparent reason. I ended up adding twist ties as backup attachment, just to keep it from getting lost, and this has saved it a number of times. But even with the band and the twist ties, it's still a hot mess... it has to be positioned within fairly tight tolerances, but the poor mount deign makes it easy for it to slip out of alignment. I even used some Dycem (amaaaazing stuff) to keep it from slipping, and it helps, but Wahoo's bad design trumps all.

I truly can't believe that they actually tested this design in the field, using real human cyclists. It's an unfathomably-bad design. It's a gratuitously-, wantonly-bad design.

Yet, reviewers like DC Rainmaker sing its praises. It's overly-chummy reviews like that that have eroded my trust in DC Rainmaker, as this is not the only product I've been disappointed with after a cheery review from him. The guy is my data-geek soul mate, but in product reviews I just can't trust him anymore.

Anyway, this angst about this pathetically-designed poorly-built sensor is okay because I won't be using it much longer. The speed sensor has recently stopped working for no apparent reason. I can hear the leaf switch close when I bring the magnet near, but the data never makes it out of the unit. It's a piece of crap.

And along the same lines, the Wahoo heart-rate sensor is also poorly designed.

Wahoo TICKR X heart-rate sensor -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 3200 — image data
Wahoo TICKR X
heart-rate sensor

Plastic has broken off both ends of the strap, in a way that seems to be inevitable given its stupid design. So far it's still working as a heart-rate sensor, but given that Wahoo apparently has no problem selling stuff whose basic design is so very bad, I don't think I'll ever buy one of their products again.

At least I don't have to recharge these two Wahoo products before each ride... they work off small batteries that last about a year.

I'm an ultra data geek, so I don't want to lose the data for my ride if my cycling computer has issues. So, I also record my rides on my phone using the most-excellent Galileo Offline Maps app. (The app is great, though Apple dorks activity tracking on their phones.)

As a further backup, I also record my rides with a separate stand-alone GPS/GLONASS unit:

Bad Elf GPS PRO+ it's not very accurate , but better than no backup -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/125 sec, f/8, ISO 6400 — image data
Bad Elf GPS PRO+
it's not very accurate, but better than no backup

And finally, with all these things with batteries that can run down, on long rides they can need a boost, so I often bring along a spare battery:

Extra Battery to top off my phone, cycling computer, lights, cameras, etc. -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/8, ISO 4000 — image data
Extra Battery
to top off my phone, cycling computer, lights, cameras, etc.

I used to have a power meter, which also needed to be recharged, but it was so inaccurate that I returned it (another DC Rainmaker review disappointment), so at least I have that going for me.

Okay, so other than all that stuff, cycling frees you.

Of course, you have to be able to recharge it all, so you also need a basket full of chargers and cables. Here's the floor of my hotel room during my Norikura trip earlier in the year...

Home Sweet Home for an electronic rat -- Pension Norikura (ペンソンのりくら) -- Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Home Sweet Home
for an electronic rat
Cycling at its Best nature... friends... I guess you don't even need a bike! -- Funai-gun -- Funai-gun, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 33mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Cycling at its Best
nature... friends... I guess you don't even need a bike!
(from Grueling “Rooftop of Kyoto” Ridge Road Gravel Grind)
The Wide Open Road Calls just be sure your battery is charged, or it'll go to voicemail -- Nantan, Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/750 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
The Wide Open Road Calls
just be sure your battery is charged, or it'll go to voicemail
(from Some Solo Exploration Beyond Mt. Atago)

All 10 comments so far, oldest first...

LOL that was a good one ( ^^)v

— comment by Damien on November 29th, 2016 at 11:48pm JST (7 months ago) comment permalink

Have you considered getting a small trailer to pull behind your bike ,with a hard cover that contains some kind if solar powered gizmo that could keep all your batteries recharged as you cycle? And your water bottles cold and coffee thermos hot? and an extra raincoat an,emergency blanket, bear spray
and few MRI’S , bandaids and extra tire patches and chain and flare or two. One never knows when you are out and about in the wilderness and left everything behind. Moms tend to think like that.

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on November 30th, 2016 at 12:25am JST (7 months ago) comment permalink

Are you going to replace the Wahoo Speed-and-Cadence Sensor with something else? I’m using the same sensor and yes, it is such a disaster. Would very much like to replace it with something better, i’m curious if you done any research about other sensors.

I haven’t found anything worth replacing it with. The lack of a speed sensor is noticable in tunnels, which is not such a big deal, and I guess I don’t use my cadence data for anything, so I can do without. —Jeffrey

— comment by Alin on November 30th, 2016 at 2:19am JST (7 months ago) comment permalink

WOW! I now feel like the village idiot of bicycle technology. Still using a 30+ year old Avocet bike computer and my phone. Wait, I just added front and rear blinking lights.

My brain would explode if I had to figure out how to use all your gear.

Mine too! —Jeffrey

— comment by Rick H. on November 30th, 2016 at 3:07am JST (7 months ago) comment permalink

I feel your pain … I recently wrote a blog post about the charger mania I go through when packing for a trip.

— comment by Scott on November 30th, 2016 at 3:25am JST (7 months ago) comment permalink

I was gonna say something funny about the unecessary langauge in “I’m pretty anal about safety” but then read on and realized I probably don’t need to make fun of anything here at all.

In any case, I got a good chuckle out of this post AND enjoyed the scenery. Well done. 🙂

— comment by Jeremy Zawodny on November 30th, 2016 at 8:55am JST (6 months, 29 days ago) comment permalink

I think you’re missing one device – or one you SHOULD have. Even if it hasn’t been invented. How is it possible you don’t have some mini-generator harnessing and storing a small fraction of your pedal power? Seems like you put enough energy INTO your riding that you ought to be able to get some back OUT as well! At least enough to charge your derailleur…

It’s called a dynamo hub. I should consider one for really long rides. —Jeffy

— comment by Marcina on December 1st, 2016 at 1:57pm JST (6 months, 28 days ago) comment permalink

These are the very best of dynamo hubs:
SON – Schmidt’s Original Hub Dynamos

— comment by Daniel Cutter on December 2nd, 2016 at 12:02am JST (6 months, 28 days ago) comment permalink

I was going to say something obnoxious and/or sanctimonious about introducing more complexity than necessary, but then I realized I’m reading your blog while listening to music on a system using WWII-era vacuum tubes that have their own quirks and complexities, and I decided to shut up. 😉

I guess we all make things complex where it amuses us. (Though I am enjoying life sans smartphone very much.)

— comment by Zak on December 6th, 2016 at 12:35am JST (6 months, 24 days ago) comment permalink

The second last photo… I love it. 😀

— comment by Che-Cheh on December 9th, 2016 at 9:27pm JST (6 months, 20 days ago) comment permalink
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