Google Maps and the Bicycling Layer

January 13th, 2013 § Comments Off on Google Maps and the Bicycling Layer § permalink

I use Google Maps to find out where the bicycle lanes are, ran into an interesting issue, and submitted it to Google.

When I add the “Bicycling” layer to Google Maps, why are traffic directions removed? It’s really annoying*. This happens on Google Maps (PC/Mac, IE/Chrome and Android). Whether I’m on the go or planning a bicycle route, I would like to know which direction traffic is going.

This past weekend, a few of us took ride out to Brooklyn from NYC via Brooklyn Bridge. We mapped out a plan to take Dekalb out east (to http://brooklynkolacheco.com/) After crossing the bridge, we came to a halt when we realized that Dekalb Ave is a one-way going west. We had to stop at Fort Greene Park and re-route to Willoughby Ave.

google-maps-bicycling-layer

In no more than 24 hours, I got a reply. Amazing customer service for a free product. Even though they don’t have an immediate solution for me, I’m impressed.

Thank you for reporting this problem. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the problem you reported isn’t easy for us to fix at this time

We did want to let you know that we’ve escalated your report to the appropriate engineering team. Even though we don’t have an immediate fix to your problem, please be assured that we’re working hard for a resolution.
Thanks for helping us to improve Google Maps!

I’m hoping for a fix soon. Meanwhile, it’s only a few clicks to turn the layer on and off.

Crushed Central Park Today

September 26th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The last time I dedicated a ride to Central Park was back in August 29, 2012 – almost a full month ago! Since then, I’ve been biking all around the city and decided to make it back to the park today. I didn’t know what to expect.

I forced myself to keep up with a one road biker for almost a full lap, but skipped out on Harlem Hill. I even kept up with a super fast road biker pair for 1/4 of a lap. Man, that was the toughest ever! The results are beyond magnificent.

I completed four total laps: one full lap (with Harlem Hill) followed by three speed laps (skipped Harlem Hill). Eighteen (18) Total Achievements: 7 Personal Records, 4 Second Bests, 4 Third Bests. 7 + 4 + 4 = 15. The other three came from multiple achievements per segment.

To put things in perspective, here are my times:

Segment July August September
The “ACTUAL” Harlem Hill 2:09 1:54 1:39
Harlem Hill 2:03 1:39 1:33
Central Park Full Loop 25:24 23:34 18:15
10mi TT 46:43 37:18 29:06
Empire Speed Skating Loop Central Park 31:10 22:42 18:18
Uptown Zip 4:00 4:49* 3:28
Cat Hill Climb 1:39 1:00 0:54

*Not sure what happened that segment, I must have got really tired or enjoying the view. Most likely the latter.

Now it’s time for some sushi as a reward!

Need Help Picking Out a Bicycle?

September 25th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Where's Contessa?

There are tons of bicycles out there and since I got mine, a lot of people have been asking me for help on what they should get. I won’t tell you what kind you should get – answer that for yourself. I’ll just provide a guide to help you make a decision.

Another thing to keep in mind is that I intended to get a bicycle to give myself a workout. I’m also a pretty lazy person, so I don’t want to do a lot to maintain the bicycle. I bought a fixed gear track bike from an online bike store (State Bicycle) and had it assembled at a nearby shop. I LOVE MY BIKE.


What kind of bicycle should I get?

Bicycle types are based on intent of use and usually line up with a specific frame, tire, and gear combination. You don’t necessarily have to go with the norm and put different types of gearing and tires on any type of frame. There are common sense no-nos like putting a thin track tires on a mountain bike, plus it just looks dumb as hell.

First, find out what you want to do with your bike and paths (terrain type) around your area. That will help you find out what type of route you’ll most likely be taking on your bike and what type of bike fits.

Type Gearing Tires Use
Cruiser Single Semi tread Comfort riding
Road Multiple Thin, no tread Paved roads with steep hills
Track Fixed Thin, no tread Paved roads with low grade hills
Mountain Multiple Fat, super treaded Off road, crazy terrain

Gearing is not as simple as one gear or multiple gears. Fixed and Single Speeds look pretty much the same, so be sure to ask what it is, but most importantly take it for a test drive.

  • Fixed Gear – If the wheel spins, the pedals spin. Pedal backward and you’ll be moving backward. No coasting.
  • Single Speed Freewheel – Coasting is available. If you pedal backwards, nothing really happens beside a lot of clicking.
  • Single Speed Coaster Brake – Coasting is available. If you pedal backwards, you brake.
  • Derailleur Gears – Multiple gears. Great for lots of uphill climbs and tons of speed. Less reliable than single geared bikes.

Gear ratios are important for fixed and single speed bikes. A higher gear ratio means a tough start, but you get higher speeds. A lower gear ratio means an easier start, especially on hills, but you’ll be pedaling like a crazy person trying to go really fast. This is why many prefer multiple gears so they can have a range of gear ratios to pick from.


What should I pay attention to when test driving a bicycle?

I highly recommend test driving a few bicycles before purchasing one. Even though I didn’t test drive a lot of types of bikes, I knew I wanted a bike for the city and a fixed gear was already in my sights.

  • Posture. Do you prefer to be in an aggressive posture (like a crotch rocket), relaxed with back straight up (like a Harley), or somewhere in the middle?
  • Tires. Fat tread tires (mountain bike) or skinny no tread tires (track bike – most fixed and road bikes are).
  • Weight. Different frames and components make a big difference. Frames: steel vs. chromoly vs. aluminum vs. carbon fiber vs. cardboard.
  • Fixed vs. Everything. Fixed gear bikes’ crank will always be moving when the back wheel is moving! It feels awkward at first and on sharp turns, you have to be aware of your toes not hitting the front tire. Happens to me a lot, but it’s easy to adjust.

Exploring 5PTZ.com

After riding my fixed gear bike for about two months, I will most likely be looking to get a track bike with gears next. Not to replace, but complement riding around the city. It will allow me to go on longer rides and on hilly terrain. I’d compare it to getting a compact car and a truck – two totally separate functions and one isn’t “better” than the other.

I can identify a few positive and negative things though:

Positives Negatives
Fixed gear speeding down hills! Fixed gear climbing hills suck
Track tires: low rolling resistance Track tires: low shock absorbance
Fixed gear low leaning/sharp cornering: pedals can hit the ground and/or front tire
Frame geometry: aggressive posture
A fixed gear bike looks clean as hell

I didn’t cover all kinds of bicycles here. I don’t think anyone can ever do that. There are just way too many, so just do as much research as you need. Most importantly, just go out and test drive a bicycle at a local shop and see what you like.

Everyone, Meet Contessa

August 24th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Another Fun Ride Along Summer Streets

Since I moved to New York late January of 2011, I have always said I would get a bicycle. Laziness, research, procrastination, uncertainty, and the fear of riding on the streets of NYC have all deterred me…until now. I would like to introduce all of you to Contessa. She’s a State Bicycle – Contender and I have had her for about a month now.

My first bike ride around Central Park changed my life. I didn’t really think I would stay in New York much longer, but this bicycle has completely rebooted my future with this city. Since I’m only a few avenues away from Central Park, it’s easy to take a ride. I’ve taken a whole new view and loving every pedal of it.

I have even taken this bike from my place to East Village, West Side, up/down Park Avenue, but I still need to take it on the West Side Highway, over a few bridges (Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Queensboro, and George Washington Bridge), and around some other islands (Governors Island, Roosevelt Island, and Randalls Island).

Personal Records

I have been timing myself using Strava and today’s ride was quite significant – I have a few new personal records:

  1. Central Park Full Loop: 23:34
  2. The “ACTUAL” Harlem Hill: 1:54
  3. Fastest speed: 65.7km/h (~40.82 mph)

After just a month, I have been able to shave off:

  1. Central Park Full Loop: 1:50
  2. The “ACTUAL” Harlem Hill: 46 seconds

Just to be clear, all these are based on Strava’s calculations with my phone in my pocket, so I’m sure there are a few discrepancies. Either way, I’m having tons of fun with this bike and most importantly – I’m working out again. Feels fucking great.

Shout out to Shey for assisting in the bicycle purchase.

Enterprise, POTUS, and EDC

June 23rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

A triple whammy – three new firsts for me.

Shuttle Enterprise Piggyback Over the Hudson, April 27

NASA is something a lot of us take for granted. I’ll admit, the Johnson Space Center is a gem and I never really visited it much when I lived in Houston. Early that morning, I decided to make my way over to The High Line, but forgot to bring a jacket – it’s late April! I settled in a chair near the south side and after about thirty minutes, I found myself surrounded by other Shuttle fans and some didn’t even know what was going on. No more than five minutes before the fly over, Nathan showed up. Just like clock work, Enterprise arrived from the south and made it’s way north along the Hudson. What a sight to see! About fifteen minutes later, another fly over from the north. I’m really glad I was able to see the last Shuttle launch and the piggyback ride of a fake Space Shuttle. Too bad I missed the Shuttle’s trip on a barge over to the Intrepid. I guess I’ll make my way over there when the facility is ready next month.

"Can I get a piggyback ride?" -Enterprise NASA 747, Shuttle Enterprise, and T-38

President of the United States, May 14

I was walking back to my apartment one day and found a bunch of rails lined up along 66th Street. I also saw a sign posting for a movie that was being made, Bitterpill. I thought to myself, now what the heck is going on here? I didn’t really ponder on it much and just went to bed. Early the next morning, a working crew started setting up the rails. They blocked off not just my avenue, but as far as my eye could see. Then, a bunch of police cars started blaring their sirens, so I turned on on the NYPD Special Operations Division and Traffic scanner. I heard “POTUS,” so I jumped down to the street to see what was going on. They blocked off the entire avenue and I that was when I realized Obama was in town and actually coming down my street! As for the movie, meh…they’re always filming around New York. Nothing interesting yet.

Theatrical Rain You're Welcome, POTUS!

Electric Daisy Carnival, May 19

It was a freaking gorgeous day for this event, maybe a little hot, but totally worth it. I didn’t know what to expect, but going with a good set of friends makes it all worth it. Plus, I got to see awesome old and new DJs live! I never really imagined myself going to events like this, but the “Carnival” part really got me excited – most of all the rides were FREE! To put the cherry on top, that evening there was a fireworks show!

Seating Attendance, Zero EDC Confetti Over Cosmic Meadow What's Going on Here?

Wait, is that the Cornholio?! Gareth Emery Five-Layer Flames, Anyone?

"I feel like a freaking kid that's in line to get into Disney World!!" What's Over There? Sunset Over EDC

Hell Yes, That's ATB Night Time Carnival Fun Armin Van Buren

    • Went to a car show wanted to buy a bikehellip