Bikes And The Myth Of Multitasking (Plus, Gear Reviews)

Multitasking: myth or reality? I tend to lean towards myth and there’s hard data out there to back that up. Technically, your brain focuses on one thing at a time. If you’re multi-tasking, you’re actually just switching tasks, not doing them simultaneously. Personally, I need to focus. I can’t listen to music with lyrics and write or even listen to a podcast and scan Twitter. Only one of those things is really going to grab my attention. The closest I get to multitasking is doing laundry while I work at my computer. Or get in a set of pushups or pullups between job tasks.

Where I’m at my worst is multitasking while on the bike. And specifically in one area, that you would think, I’d be be proficient. That would be taking pictures on a ride. For the life of me, I can never bring myself to stop a ride to take a photo. If I’m riding, I want to ride without stopping. If I’m taking photos, it’s usually of other people riding bikes.

My goal recently has been to force myself to stop on bike rides. And, better yet, to ride just so I could find cool things to photograph. My first attempt at this was a complete fail. I grabbed my gear, threw it in a backpack and headed to downtown DC. Rode around for about 15 miles and never found anything compelling to shoot. I know many people may find it hard to believe that you could ride by the the Washington Monument and the rest of the iconic and historically significant landmarks in the District and find nothing to photograph, but after a few decades of living here, it’s harder to find the motivation.

From a morning excursion in July when downtown DC remained quiet. The tourists have now returned, sans masks, and it’s just not a good vibe down there these days.

Fast forward to today and I’m lying in bed at 5:30 a.m., wide awake, and decide to try again. It’s perfect. No time to plan where I’m going or what I want to shoot, just load up some lenses and a body and hit the road.

Instead of traveling 15 minutes south of my DC home that puts me on the steps of the US Capitol (I’m just a Bill …), I went 15 minutes north of my house, which puts me at the intersection of pastoral and industrial. If anybody ever tells you DC sucks for riding bikes (I’m looking at you, Kerry Werner), they just didn’t know where they were going.

The Anacostia river path is about two miles from where I live. Once there, it’s 20+ miles of multipurpose trail that takes you from Maryland, to Southeast DC and back. It’s a mixture of nature and city that intertwines seamlessly.

First stop was just past the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens on the Anacostia River Trail. A heron, maybe? I haven’t become a pandemic birder, yet.

Along with not being great and simultaneously riding and taking photos, I’m also really bad at gear reviews. We get sent a fair amount of kit at cxhairs, and I buy a ton more out of my own pocket. If I like something, I will sing its praises and recommend it. I just don’t do a good job at doing that, here. But what I realized as I headed out to ride this morning, was that an opportunity existed to highlight some gear. So add one more thing to the mythical multitasking bonanza. More on that in a bit. Let’s get into this ride.

City deer are not a rare commodity and not exclusive to DC. We have herds of deer in the city that you see in the strangest places. This guy was hanging out in a soccer field near the secret gravel short-cut on the trail. I’ll show it to you once we can ride together, again.

In the immortal words of Love and Rockets, “you cannot go against nature, because if you go against nature it’s part of nature, too.” Not that far from where I was having a staring contest with the deer, is this park, across the river from RFK stadium. DC has some amazing pickup basketball games. I’ve never played in any of them. I’m too broken down for that. But I’ll stop and watch from time to time. This court will get running about an hour or so after I took this photo.

The sculls come out early on the river. I never noticed this railroad bridge they travel under before today. It’s most likely because I’m usually head down fighting the wind on this part of the ride and never look behind me. I watched a number of shells at this point, this morning, trying to calculate whether I’d hit my head. I think I’d be ok, but it would be close.

I’ve been following the construction of the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge near Nationals Park since it started. This is one of those spots I alway thought about stopping but never did, which in retrospect is a bummer, since it would’ve been cool to document the progress.

Every time I ride by RFK stadium I think about the photo essays you see from time to time about abandoned Olympic sports venues in different countries and how out-of-place and useless those structures look, and how it doesn’t seem like it’s something you’d see in the U.S. Then I see RFK and tell myself I’m dumb.

If you look carefully when riding the river trail, you’ll come across these access roads. They’re not always obvious or well-maintained, but they are good for a rip or two. Especially after the deluge of rain we’ve had recently. This one was near the end of my ride and it was a good opportunity to get a little muddy before heading home.

So that was it. A photo by bike excursion in my backyard. Without much racing on the horizon, I’m going to try and do more of this, if for nothing else, to give myself permission to stop the ride and enjoy what’s in front of my eyes. Sounds corny but what do I have to lose. Okay, let’s get to the gear.

I’m a sucker for a lot of things. Two on the top of my list are camera bags and tripods. Despite a garage full of both, these are two of my favorites, and great options for on the bike travel.

The Chrome Industries Niko Camera Bag holds a commendable amount of kit. For this trip I brought one camera body, a 100-400 telephoto zoom, a 12-24 ultrawide zoom and a 24-105 utility player. I had room leftover for some snacks, tools and other knick knacks. Comfortable straps, well-balanced and easy access. This has become my favorite day bag. It also has a tripod pocket on the side that seems almost custom made for the Peak Design tripod.

And speaking of that tripod, the Peak Design Travel Tripod is revolutionary. I own a lot of tripods for video and photo work and am always on the lookout for a sturdy travel tripod that is stable, compact and lightweight. I’ve never found one close to what the travel tripod can do. It’s versatile, adjustable, lightweight, not flimsy, and just my favorite tripod ever. Goes on every trip. Well worth the investment.

I left the bibs at home and opted for baggies for this ride. Recently got the Gore Trail Shorts and I’ve been digging them. Super comfortable, not overly baggy and a good fit. The cargo pockets may not be for everyone, but these aren’t too noticeable and when I’m doing photo stuff I need pockets. If I had any nits it would be the red highlighting on the pockets. Would’ve preferred if they were all black.

For the most part, if I’m on my bike I’m either riding to ride or running errands. For the daily commuter, I have flat pedals and wear whatever shoes I want. For the rest of my riding, it’s pretty ride specific. Road shoes for road rides, MTB shoes for MTB, CX or gravel rides. But now I have the Bontrager Foray shoes and they hit a really nice sweet spot. They have some performance features like toe spikes and BOAs that could get you through a cross race, but they’re also super comfortable, not as stiff as my race shoes and a little more casual. They’re also easy to walk in with a recessed cleat and softer rubber soles. These shoes alone have me riding my CX/Gravel bike a lot more to run errands. Best of both worlds. Hot tip: the olive grey is the best color.

The Endura Singletrack Tee is pretty great. I was skeptical of it at first, but the more I wear it, the more I love it. First and foremost, it passes the backpack test. 25 miles of riding and in the seventies would usually leave my back drenched. Wasn’t too bad with this piece of kit. Also, Great fit, super-lightweight, wicks moisture and … seems to currently be sold out. So, you’ll have to wait on this one. But you can’t go wrong with most of the stuff at Endura. I have a shacket that I live in during the fall. Get one of those until they restock these tees.

My cyclocross/gravel bike is currently running the Hutchinson Overide. 35mm tubeless tires that make me happy every time I head out the door. This morning I went from tarmac to dirt to gravel to mud and they did great. Went through some flooded areas that left a few inches of slimy mud on the path. That led to some skatey conditions but nothing you guys can’t handle. For comfort and handling, I’ve been really impressed by these tires.

Finally, I got a new saddlebag. This one I happily bought with my own money. Handmade by Chris McGovern. It’s lightweight, not to big and has nails the two most important functions of a saddle bag: easy to install and easy to access. Bug him to make more and snatch one up as soon as he does. In the meantime, listen to Chris on Cyclocross Radio.

So there it is. A successful Sunday morning that got me back home in time to watch the EKZ Cross Series and a Tour stage while drinking my morning coffee. That’s a successful day by any standard.

Thanks for reading. Check out Wide Angle Podium for more content and to become a member. And if you haven’t listened to Cyclocross Radio in while, we’ve been putting out some great shows that I’m sure you’ll dig. We are back on a regular weekly schedule and would love to have you as a subscriber.

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One thought on “Bikes And The Myth Of Multitasking (Plus, Gear Reviews)

  1. Nice post Bill. I really enjoy seeing people document where they live and it’s even better when it’s so well shot.

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