By Greg Conderacci
For weeks now we’ve been writing about the benefits of dorkiness.
In Part I, we explored screening your helmet; in Part II, we messed with your handlebars; in Part III, we reflectorized your machine; in Part IV, we prepped you for flats; in Part V, we praised electrical tape; and in Part VI, we recommended kinesiology tape for sore knees; and in Part VII, we raised your aerobars; and in Part VIII, we swore off black jerseys and in Part IX, we turned on a blinking headlight ; in Part X, we added a bell; in Part XI, we mounted a speedometer next to your GPS.
Today, we revisit one of the dorkiest tips ever: a compass on your handlebars. I’ve extolled the virtues of this ancient device before. Of course, your GPS will tell you where north is (and every other direction).
But a compass will let you take a bearing on the wind. As any dork who’s watched a bike race can tell you, you want to draft downwind. If the rider ahead of you is heading into a wind out of the northwest, you want to be southeast of him or her. You know where that is, even as the road twists and turns, because you noticed a flag (or something like that) blowing a few miles back and took a bearing on the wind.
As an extra bonus, if you have a rotten sense of direction (like me) and you don’t have a GPS or it’s not working, a compass will help you realize that you turned east at that last intersection when you should have turned west.
Do you have a dorky tip to share? Don’t be shy. We’ll withhold your name upon request. Remember a dorky tip has one or more of these characteristics:
- Pro riders do not do it (nor does just about anybody else)
- It’s cheap or maybe even free
- It usually adds weight
Greg Conderacci is a marketing consultant and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, non-profit entrepreneur, and investment bank chief marketing officer. In Getting UP!, he brings you the same skills he teaches at a top graduate school and Fortune 500 companies. Lots of people promise better performance … Greg proves it. Using his energy techniques, in 2015 he rode a bicycle across America in just 18 days — averaging 150 miles a day.
john griswold says
I agree that several of your items are rather dorky, but seasoned cyclists can certainly appreciate them. Not gonna find that 20 something, full zoot, super-lite “racer dude” interested in any of it. I have a few ideas to add: hydration packs (bottles just don’t meet the need in Texas heat), sandals (some guys sweat rots bike shoes in months), mt bike pedals on road bikes (sure is nice to put your foot on the pavement and not have it slip out from under you…or have to walk like a duck), and sun protection – like Da Brim or sun sleeves (at 74, my wrinkles, sun damaged skin is not pretty!) I may not look like a total dork, but I’ll survive to ride another day!
Greg Conderacci says
Thanks, John! I’ve cycled in Texas enough to know how important your advice is — even in places that aren’t as hot as long as the Lone Star State.
Will Haltiwanger says
Most of my rides are short urban rides. For better visibility I wear mid-calf white cotton socks. They are cheap, comfortable on short rides and fairly hi-vis. When wearing long pants I pull the socks up over the cuffs, keeping the cuffs out of the way. Drivers may think “Whoa, that guy is crazy” and give me extra room, exactly what I want.
Kerry Irons says
I can’t imagine needing/using a compass to determine where to draft. Your ears and your body will tell you when you get in the drafting sweet spot. Winds are constantly shifting around to relying on the points of the compass to choose your drafting position makes no sense when you have all that physical feedback available.
On the other hand I have ridden with people who have zero sense of direction. And this is in an area of the country where most of the roads are laid out on a N/S/E/W grid. They are just hopeless and assuming they would actually consult the compass (sun direction apparently offers them no insight) then it’s a good idea.
Ditto on on wearing sun sleeves. During summer, I never ride without them. If it is really hot, I soak them in cold water just prior to a ride. By the time the water evaporates I am sweating enough to keep them damp.
The ‘screaming yellow” color of my winter jacket is about as dorky as you can get but it makes me easy to spot and most passing cars keep a safe distance. Blaze orange as hunters wear is also good.
The blinking red light on my bike can probably be spotted from outer space.