One Year Later

“Did you lose consciousness?” asked the ER nurse. “I don’t think so,” I shakily replied. My eyes darted between the nurse and my wife, hoping that neither one would detect the lack of conviction in my answer. Truth be told, I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened. I knew my name, what day it was, and that I had crashed while riding my bicycle. I was in pain, but I could stand and walk on my own. The nurse cleaned and bandaged my road rash, and the doctor sent me home with a prescription for pain killers.

I spent much of my convalescence attempting to piece together what had happened on that Sunday afternoon. While I was able to remember bits and pieces, there were gaps that I simply couldn’t recall. During this same period, I began experiencing difficulties concentrating and performing familiar tasks. It was as if I knew what to do, but I’d forgotten how to do it. My overall emotional state also changed–I became easily frustrated, and would undergo extreme mood swings. Because I hadn’t yet been given the all-clear to resume riding, I attributed the problems to cabin fever.

When I did resume riding, my reflexes were dull, and I lacked confidence (as well as spatial awareness). Once-familiar trails felt completely foreign, and I avoided the site of my crash for several weeks. As time passed, my road rash faded, and I became stronger and more confident. Along with the physiological recovery came mental and cognitive improvements. Try as I might, however, I was still unable to remember specific details about the crash. The most significant one being the crash itself–I have absolutely no memory of actually crashing. It’s as if that moment in time has been completely erased from my memory.

One year later, the only physical reminders of the crash are the scratches on my 29er’s handlebars. The damaged helmet has long since been replaced, and bowing to superstition, I discarded the tires I was riding. While a small part of me would like to know exactly what happened on that particular Sunday afternoon, it’s probably better that some of the details remain forgotten.

Human memory is a marvelous but fallacious instrument. The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even increase by incorporating extraneous features. — Primo Levi

First Impressions: Arundel Bottle Cages

When it comes to bicycle accessories, water bottle cages aren’t considered terribly glamorous. That’s definitely not he case for the guys at Arundel Bicycle Company. They’ve been living and breathing bottle cages since they founded the company in 2000. Now, fifteen years later, Arundel’s lineup has grown to include ten bottle cages (in addition to seat bags, bar tape, and even bells).

We recently tested three of Arundel’s lower priced cages–the Flip Flop, Loony Bin, and Sport. All three cages feature design elements from the company’s more expensive cages, as well as some totally unique features. The Arundel cages were tested with bottles of various sizes from CamelBak, Elite, Hydrapak, Polar, and Specialized. Our test rigs included road, gravel, and fully rigid mountain bikes, and each cage was ridden for several hundred miles on terrain that ranged from paved roads to technical singletrack.

Flip Flop
Carrying a full-sized bottle on a small or crowded frame often presents a challenge. Thankfully, the 56 gram Flip Flop ($24.95 MSRP) can be configured for right- or left-sided entry. Arundel’s two-piece convertible design enabled quick-and-easy reconfiguration, and the fit remained precise even after dozens of installations. Unlike the some competitors’ side-entry cages, Arundel’s Flip Flop uses both upper and lower tabs for maximum security. Removing bottles from the Flip Flop cage didn’t require any extra effort or special technique compared to conventional top-entry cages, but replacing bottles sometimes took more than one attempt.

Loony Bin
If you only carry conventional cycling water bottles, Arundel’s 52 gram Loony Bin ($24.95 MSRP) might not catch your eye. But if you want to easily–and safely–transport something like a sports drink bottle, the Loony Bin is the right cage for you. Arundel’s adjustable cage uses a ratcheting dial to accommodate bottles of various sizes (the cage also works well with small stuff sacks and dry bags). The cage also proved especially handy for storing the tool rolls we’ve been testing for another article. Be careful with using very large bottles–some testers noticed that the Loony Bin brushed the insides of their calves when the cage was mounted on the seat tube.

Sport
The 49 gram Sport ($17.95 MSRP) cage may lack the clever names of Arundel’s other cages, but it’s anything but basic. Sure, the Sport doesn’t have the flashy looks of the company’s pricier carbon cages, but it quickly became one of our favorites. Getting bottles in and out was a breeze, and the nylon-reinforced plastic cage kept even the biggest bottles secure on our rigid 29er test bike. With nine colors to choose from, the Sport cages will complement practically any color scheme.

In more than three months of testing, we never lost a bottle from any of the Arundel cages. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying–we descended rocky singletrack, crossed railroad tracks, and bunny hopped curbs without ejecting a single bottle. The cages remained unscathed even though they were regularly swapped between bikes. The three Arundel cages may cost more than the generic knock-off cages you find online, but the outstanding security and peace of mind proved invaluable.

Disclosure: Arundel Bicycle Company provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.