Showing posts with label helmet cam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label helmet cam. Show all posts

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Nerd rigging

 The other day I rode my bike to an appointment. As I was talking to the person afterward, right before I pedaled off again, I suddenly thought about how I must look with all the nerd rigging that has gradually accumulated on my helmet and my face.
Every piece has a reason beyond mere geekdom. That's what I tell myself,  anyway.  The outlandish sunglasses provide excellent protection and hold a prescription insert. Yes, they're weird looking,  but they do their important job well. I only wear them when riding.

The fuzzy fake sideburns are the Cat Ears I've been testing. In theory,  the less wind noise you hear,  the more you should be able to detect and interpret traffic noises. They should help with conversation between riders, too, but only if both riders are equipped. Still cheaper than helmet radios. Talk about nerd rigging! "Breaker, breaker, good buddy!"

The helmet cam functions as my dash cam: the silent witness to events on the road. I wouldn't mind if it was smaller, even small enough to mount inside the helmet vents, but I wonder if its visible presence suppresses some motorist misbehavior. People are increasingly aware of the power of video and the Internet. I've been getting a fair amount of room from drivers this season. Is the camera sticking up there like a propeller on my beanie functioning as a protective threat?

The shiny mess on the front of the helmet is black duct tape to reduce the flow of cold air into the front helmet vents until the weather warms up. Comfy nerd.

Nerd rigging extends to my bike, too. See my dynamo hub and light system? Cooooool. And my full fenders keep me from getting all splattered when the roads are wet. Got a rack. Got a pack. I carry stuff: tools, spare tube, shift cables, things that might save a ride. I've even saved other people's rides from time to time with my nerdy tool kit.

I try to go by fast enough to leave only a fleeting impression on the observer. That may not be very fast at all, as long as I move steadily into and out of the scene. Don't let anyone get a good look. If you get caught, act natural. Escape as soon as possible. Pedal away with as much dignity as you can summon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The invisible bike

On a sleepy weekday last week I brought the helmet cam and a fixed-gear bike to work so I could shoot video while I rode delicately around the tight course on the sales floor. I'd ridden the rollers a couple of days, but it's more fun to ride where you can maneuver.

Because my netbook and the shop computers are too feeble to handle high definition video files I couldn't view my clips until I got home to the Macbook. The results surprised me.

Helmet cam videos shot in the outside world convey the movement of the bicyclist through familiar or plausible environments, on road or off. Depending on where the camera is mounted you might even see a bit of something to suggest the actual presence of the bicycle. But often it's really just a camera flying through space. We know it's on a cyclist because we've been told that. The movement matches what we know from our own cycling.

In my indoor videos I might as well be walking. On second and subsequent viewings I can start to pick up a bit of the fluidity of being on wheels, but for the slow bits where I'm tiptoeing through a narrow space nothing really indicates I'm riding a fixed gear dextrously down that alley except for my claim that this is the case.

As you may hear on the video, we're always trying to come up with revenue-generating ideas. I proposed a time trial around this indoor course. Riders could win discounts based on their times, but they have to pay full price for anything they break.

This next video is titled "Trouble in the Far Turn." That 180 down by the bikes has taken out many a rider. Okay, it's only taken me out, but it's done it many times. When the ski waxing station is set up you can easily nip the end of one of the waxing profiles and get thrown off your line.
Maybe next week I'll try a handlebar mount for the camera to try to get more of the bike perspective. I'm sure y'all can't wait.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The witness you carry with you

A friend just sent this link to a New York Times article about cyclists using their wearable video cameras to document attacks by aggressive motorists. I had that exact idea when I started to want a camera, long before I actually got one.

The link arrived a day after all three of us at the shop had incidents on the same day. Compared to getting machine-gunned in a crowded theater our troubles didn't seem like much, so I didn't post anything about them. Motorist nastiness is so routine anyway that it hardly seems worth calling out individual examples unless they do hit you. The problem is that you never know when that might occur.

Yesterday, when we each had our encounters, the driving public seemed inexplicably antsy. I'd had a fairly placid ride in the morning, when my colleagues reported their harassment, but within half a mile of my home on the evening run I had a driver put his car full of people, an oncoming car full of people and me at completely unnecessary risk by forcing past me when I was already covering the lane.

The volatile jerk ruins the effectiveness of a lane-covering cyclist by either mowing you down or simply going even farther into the opposite lane as if it's their indisputable right to pass without slowing and without regard for anyone else who happens to be trying to occupy the same general space at the time.

I was not wearing the camera, after weeks of uninteresting recording. I may put it on again, but I certainly don't relish the idea of sifting through the recording after getting hit.

While all the reports of ugly encounters resonate with all cyclists who have had them, you have to remember that you never hear about the thousands of cyclists who landed safely after an uneventful trip. Our standard of uneventful may have to be a bit flexible, but the fact remains that most trips go smoothly enough.

The sad reminders of human selfishness take their toll subconsciously. I seethe a little when I think about the fact that I might be maimed or die as a result of someone else's mere impatience. If I ever do give up cycling I'm going to drive really slowly down the dead center of the road with signs all over my car that say, "I used to ride a bike. You could pass me easily. How do you like me NOW?"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Evolving as a cyclist: racer to tourist to A/V geek

First off let me say I always respected the skills of the AV geeks when I was in school. The term geek has become more of a role description than a term of disrespect. It conveys a level of dedication beyond the ordinary.

After a few weeks running the helmet camera I have concluded that my life is pretty boring. Much as I enjoy my commute, most of it is just long minutes of scrolling landscape to the accompaniment of wind noise, broken only by the unlovely sounds of my efforts to dislodge respiratory congestion. For some reason these come through with perfect clarity when my witty quips to passersby sound like someone muttering in a sack.

My plans for a "Commute with Cafiend" video series are on indefinite hold until I find the time to learn how to edit these things quickly.

For what it's worth, this video shows a pretty good run through the most fun section of the rail trail. Right at the beginning you get to see one of the rail cars, which are the reason we still have to live with the rails. It continues on out Eagle Causeway (without an eagle) and through the turns by Allen A Beach. From there I usually go back out to the roads. When I have time I will stay on the trail for another two or three miles to a quieter set of roads for a longer but more serene run home than on Route 28.

I took the camera off my helmet late last week. It's like a lottery ticket: maybe it'll win something. Usually it won't. I'll post a few other successful scraps later. Mostly it illustrates how routine bike commuting can be. Even the few boneheaded motorist maneuvers I captured don't look like much after the wide angle lens has exaggerated the distance and squished the offending vehicle to a speeding bug.