Rear Video Camera Mount for Freakbike Ride

I’ve been slacking lately. I caught a nasty cold on Thanksgiving Day and have been fighting it ever since. I was only on the bike one day since the middle of November. I don’t even want to tell you my mileage for the year. Let’s just say it’s the lowest since I started riding in 2001.

The one ride I DID haul myself out of my sickbed to do was the Freakbike Militia’s Choppernite 26.

I want to see faces, not biker butts

This time I wanted to shoot video of more than biker butts, so I rigged a mount that would let my Canon FS100 video camera point behind me. It’s pretty ugly and I won’t leave it on the bike all the time, but it seems secure.

It’s made out of some 1/4″ aluminum stock I used to use for radio mounts. Two 1/4″ bolts through the aluminum and big washers underneath hold it to the Jandd Expedition rear rack.

I use a RAM mount with quick release to hold the video camera. Because I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy, I drilled a hole in the mount for the lanyard attached to the camera. The RAM mount is solid enough to handle this bumpy ride, but it never hurts to be safe.

I wanted it mounted slightly ahead of the RealLite so it would be less likely to pick up flare from the flashing taillight. It needed to be off to the right enough that I could open the viewfinder.

So, how did the video camera mount work?

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find out.

I pulled out of the driveway and noticed in the first 100 feet that a slight mist was in the air. I went back into the house to check the radar and saw a tight band of reds and yellows just off the coast and moving slowly to the southwest, in my direction.

I stuck a few Ziploc bags in my jersey pocket, took off the video camera and headed out. About two blocks from the house, the mist turned into rain, and I ducked under a building overhang to rig for bad weather. That’s when the skies REALLY opened up and the wind started howling.

I put the cameras in the plastic bags and pulled the waterproof covers over my Arkel small bar bag and Tail Rider trunk bag, dug out my Campmor rain cape and pulled on leg warmers because the winds were chilly. After about 20 minutes, the heavy rain and winds dropped off to a steady rain and I took off to the assembly point.

Stan of Wheels of Wellington shot this picture of me after the rain had slacked off and I had dropped the finger loops on the rain cape to be less like a sail. I resemble a big orange pumpkin going down the road, because I put the cape over the CamelBak M.U.L.E. I was wearing. What his photo doesn’t show is how the FlaskBak I was trying out caused the whole back of the cape to light up.

I’m one of those folks who actually likes riding in the rain. The brim of the rain cape extends out far enough that my glasses stay relatively dry and the fenders kept my legs dry except for a couple of flooded areas where I got a little water on my feet. THAT didn’t matter because I was wearing Shimano sandals.

How was Choppernite 26?

I’ve been holding off on writing this because I wasn’t sure what to say. I’ve really enjoyed the other Freakbike Militia events I’ve participated in. I went so far as saying the Summer of Love ride was the most fun group ride I’d ever been on. I said that even the motorists who were briefly inconvenienced seemed to pick up the good vibes of the ride.

I didn’t get that same good feeling on this one.

Let’s look at the good things first

  • Despite the rain, about 70 riders showed up.
  • Many of the bikes and riders were decorated and had ingenious lighting arrangements.
  • The “corkers” – riders wearing safety vests who blocked intersections for the group – were enthusiastic and effective. The vests are a nice safety touch.
  • The ride was raising money for a good cause.
  • The group had a lot of fun.

Things that made me uncomfortable

  • Despite earlier requests on the Freakbike Militia forum, some riders persisted in crossing the center line to ride in the lane with oncoming traffic. It’s inconsiderate, makes motorists cranky and is dangerous, particularly if the bike doesn’t have lights. Drivers are drawn to watch the spectacle going by and may not see the rider in their lane until it’s too late.
  • Too many bikes didn’t have lights. That’s not a big problem when they’re tucked in the middle of the group, but the group tends to fragment on the way back. It’s very dangerous on a rainy night when you have a mixture of lighted and unlighted bikes spread out on the roadway. If a driver is concentrating on watching the taillights, he or she can plow into an unlit bike.
  • Someone led the group to go westbound on eastbound Okeechobee from Flagler instead of a block north onto westbound Lakeview. I was set up to shoot the group going down the right street and was surprised to see everyone going the wrong way. THAT didn’t win any friends with the eastbound motorists.
  • The poor corkers caught a ration of honking when they blocked the intersection for a spread out group of riders who went the right way. It’s one thing to be stopped for 100 bikes, it’s another to be stopped for a handful.
  • To compound the problem, some of THOSE riders spilled over into the left-hand lane, igniting another chorus of honks.
  • Maybe it was because of┬áthe joyous Christmas season, but motorists seemed crankier and more impatient than usual.

Will I do another Freakbike Militia ride?

Yeah, probably. (If they’ll have me back after reading this review.)

I like the folks and this was the first bad experience I’ve had. Maybe I was just cranky because I was still half-sick; maybe the rain delay caused things to be even more disorganized than the usual a non-organized ride; maybe the motorists were in a rush to do Christmas shopping, who knows?

If I feel like the next ride is unsafe or that it’s pissing off people more than it’s promoting cycling, then I’ll have to re-evaluate.

13 Replies to “Rear Video Camera Mount for Freakbike Ride”

  1. I had the same feeling last time I went. I was not happy with the inconsiderate folks who will, eventually, ruin these rides.

    I don’t care whether you put a light on your bike or a helmet on your head – it’s your visit with Darwin – but stay in the effing lane you are supposed to be in. Especially when someone is shouting through a bullhorn for you to “move to the right!”

    1. The rain is pouringThe wasnihg is drenchedThe power’s out and,The trees are shaking.There are black clouds above usAnd the gutters are leaking,The drains have flooded all of the street and,The plants are wrecked from the wind and the rain.There are branches flying from trees so,Everyone get your rain coats on because,The rain has hitAnd the wind is blowing.Well done, Sam, this is a great example of JF’s style. Mrs R

  2. Spokesrider,

    I hadn’t even thought of that. It feels like it’s sticking out so far that they’d have to move over to keep from scratching their car on it.

    Jupiter Island to the north of us – reportedly the richest per capita zipcode in the U.S. – toyed with the idea of requiring every bike that rode on their island to have a four-foot vertical flag.

    Before they shelved the idea, I bought a four-foot flag that I was going to mount horizontally on my rack to help drivers determine how much room they would have to give me to stay within Florida’s 3-foot passing law.

    I was half-way disappointed when cooler heads prevailed and they withdrew the proposal. I looked forward to riding back an forth on the island until some cop stopped me.

  3. I made that ride. It was my first freak bike ride. I had a couple miles to go to get there and it rained. I had to stop and find shelter twice. I had no rain gear. But I know that, in Florida, you don’t melt in the rain.

    It was raining when I got to the Greek Orthodox Church at Flagler and Southern. It rained for 15 minutes while things got organized.

    Then a lot of what Ken said happened. Too many people were riding so far left they were in the wrong lane. Nobody was listening to the guy with the big voice who, I assume, was organizing the ride. Half the group took a wrong turn.

    I can’t defend the people who were riding in the wrong lane. That was just stupid and made us look bad.

    I can defend some the people who took the wrong turn. I did. I followed the people in front of me. I didn’t know it was a wrong turn. When 15 people in front of you do it, you assume you should too.

    What I can say is that I had a great time in mostly terrible conditions. I remember riding down Rosemary Avenue clanging my bell like a mad man and waving to the pedestrians. Some waved back.

    We ended up at the Nancy Graham Fountain and I should have stayed around to meet some of the leaders, but it was going to rain again and it did. I got wet going home.

    I want to thank the West Palm Beach Police who helped us cross a couple of intersections.

    And I want to thank the organizers of the ride.

    I thank Ken for his coverage.

  4. I won’t weigh in on the editorial part concerning riders who are oblivious to common sense and direction when riding, you seem to have covered that already.

    I do want to remind you that anytime you put an electronic device in a plastic Ziplock bag to remember to turn the device off, as in, power it down. The heat from the device will generate enough heat in the sealed bag to cause condensation inside the bag. Some newer expensive devices like smart-phones have very sensitive water detectors in them that will void their warranty quicker than you can say, “are you kidding me!?”

    Oh yeah, January 1st you can start pounding out the respectable miles again. Unless we have lots of snow here in St. Louis, I’ll be outside Friday starting from zero…

    One last thing, about the location of your video camera, heads or tails I always enjoy having a voyeuristic ride along side your bike with you. Shoot MORE this year.

  5. I hope it’s a one-off thing that the organizers weren’t able to herd better (put someone in the middle??). These are fun rides and I’d like to see them continue.
    I’d like to see less razor-like edges on that piece of metal mount, but otherwise, seeing my stop-sign red face would be a blessing rather than filming my Goodyear latex-covered butt. Or Matt’s shining moon.
    This is my year to get back on my bike, so we’ll rack miles together – how bout it? I still love the night rides!

  6. Pulling out of the Post’s lot onto Dixie, I once came VERY close to hitting a cyclist riding Northbound in the Southbound lane. I was looking for cars in the normal lanes and directions, not someone ignoring both rules and common sense.

    It’s just not very smart to ride against traffic when you know drivers aren’t expecting to see ANYone going in the wrong direction.

  7. I hope everyone calls the idiots out on the next ride and lets them know they are in the wrong and can ruin the ride and then others will get the hint, I just don’t get it either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Charles, please come back for the ride in March, that was not the one that should have been your first experience, this is a GREAT GROUP of people, 6 years and no incidents, just lately have the idiots been showing up.
    Thanks for being honest Ken, I think this will help out for upcoming rides.

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