I’m a sucker for deals at HobbyKing, and I’d been looking at small collective pitch helicopters for a while. When the Assault 100 went on sale for less than $50, I jumped on it. Before I purchased, I did some research and found that it’s really just a rebranded HiSky HCP100S. I found some generally positive information online, but maybe I should have read this entire 300+ page thread about the HCP100S before I pulled the trigger. Let’s find out…Continue reading
I like being a helicopter parent – no not being overprotective and smothering – I just like flying helicopters with my son. For Christmas I got Jules a Blade Scout CX coaxial helicopter. It’s a great helicopter for anyone to start on, including a pre-schooler. It has a gyro and stabilizer bar to keep it level, and the 3-channel remote is easy to use for a beginner. Even when he’s not flying, Jules likes to “scoot” the heli around on the kitchen linoleum by giving it just enough power to get the helicopter light on the skids – then sliding it around on the floor without leaving the ground.
In the winter Jules and I went to a few dome flys with a local R/C club called MARCEE. In the wide-open space at the dome, it’s good to have a something to aim for. I had a couple of large-ish pieces of foam that were used shipping my R/C car set-up board. To give them a little more realism as helicopter landing pads, I added a circle “H” to each.
— Justin Fœll (@justinfoell) October 12, 2014
A year and a half after I purchased these bags, it’s time for a review. You can’t buy them anymore, but this is more of a review of panniers in general. I used to ride with a backpack. It works (and is good for laptop shock absorption), but be prepared to have an instantly sweaty back. I can’t walk up a flight of stairs with a backpack on and not start to feel damp 🙂 Getting the bag off of my back and on to the rack on my bike is a huge win for comfort and convenience.
— Justin Fœll (@justinfoell) January 22, 2015
These Thule bags were a steal at $120 for the pair. Most decent panniers cost this much just for one! They were a deal because Thule discontinued this model. The replacement bag is a “unidirectional” one that can go on either the left or right side of the bike rack, whereas the ones I got are specifically made for left and right sides – they are slightly narrower towards the front of the bike.
The Thule bags have a pretty rad feature where you can “flip” and hide the rack attachment hardware and carry it as a normal-looking handbag, or add the included strap and wear it as a shoulder bag or backpack.
With my new job, I use one everyday to carry my laptop to work. The other bag, sadly sits idle most of the time as I only need one for what I’m carrying. They came as a pair and at the time of purchase I was thinking about all of the epic bike adventures I’d be going on, with both bags packed to the hilt. Carry all the things!
I will use both for something like another bike camping trip, but for day-to-day commuting, just one is great.
I have racks on both my road bike and my mountain bike (which is really more of a kid-hauler than a mountain bike). I like my Topeak racks because they have a secure mounting system and Topeak offers several attachments. The Thule panniers fit nicely on both of my racks despite their differing thickness of tubing. You cannot, however, attach a top mounted Topeak trunk bag and the panniers on the side at the same time – they interfere with each other. I plan on devising something that can go on the top while both panniers are on with some spare parts, but that will have to wait for later.
100 years ago, when spinning hard drives in laptops were the norm, there were several creative ways to carry your laptop in a pannier. Solutions from suspension to excess padding were employed to ensure you didn’t jar the hard drive beyond its shock tolerance. I’ve gone the other way and simply purchased a laptop with a solid-state drive instead of a spinning disk. I lined the bottom of my panniers with a bit of bubble-wrap left over from a mailer, just to prevent any dents when I’m doing sweet jumps.
While the bags aren’t waterproof they come with a waterproof cover. I’ve only used the cover once (in a total downpour). Normally I can just ride home quickly in a sprinkle, because it’s only one mile to work 😎 The covers stow inside each bag and are easily added:
I’m glad to see our bike tour, now dubbed the “Annual Fridley Bike & Hike” grow every year. This year we had more volunteers, more activities, and more promotion. While the weather didn’t cooperate entirely, everyone who attended had a great time.
Making it Great
As in years past, the city has had no budget for the event, but a volunteer group associated with the Fridley Environmental and Energy Commission stepped up to help coordinate this event.
Since we normally try to have our event coincide with “National Trails Day,” this year we were able to use the American Hiking Society’s fantastic website and resources to help promote our event. We also promoted it through local online resources on Facebook and Nextdoor.
Also we made promotional flyers and got them out to elementary schools, the library, and some local businesses to help spread the word. One of the key local businesses that we sought out this year was Grandpa’s Ice Cream. We invited them to bring their ice cream trailer down to the Fridley Farmers Market, our final bike ride destination from Riverfront Regional Park on the Mississippi River Trail. Who doesn’t like some ice cream after a bike ride? Personally, it’s the reason that I ride.
Turnout at Riverfront Regional Park was better than it has been in the past. Props go out to our commission liaison Kay who invited a naturalist from the Wargo Nature Center. The naturalist brought a snake, which was a big hit with kids and non-ophidiophobic adults 🙂 Kay also gave out spruce saplings that were supposed to be delivered for Arbor Day, but strangely arrived a month late.
Also props to my fellow commissioner Mark and his wife for organizing two great kids activities – clay wildflower seed starters and pine cone bird feeders. The kids had a great time with these hands-on activities.
Despite a little bit of rain, a hearty few of us were still determined to ride. We rode north on the Mississippi River Trail up to Stevenson Elementary. From there we crossed the train tracks by using the Northstar station tunnel. It takes a while for people and bikes to queue up and use the elevators (lighter bikes can just be carried down the stairs), but I like to show people that the tunnel is well-lit and safe for anyone and everyone to use.
From the station we continued on 61st Ave to the Farmers Market at the Fridley Community Center. We enjoyed ice cream for lunch and I purchased some baklava for dessert later on.
One of the vendors, Tübinger Bakery, actually lives in my neighborhood. The breads looked tasty and delicious and the samples I had were great. So great that I was sadly unable to buy any because they had sold everything they had by the time we arrived!
We learned a lot about what we can do ahead of time next year to better promote our event. Hope to see you out there next year!