Do you know what takes more concentration than I thought it would? Taking pictures as I bike ride. Of course that might be because I never though to do it before so the amount of concentration it would take never entered my mind. I have looked at various helmet cams that are out there but only because they showed up on Amazon by chance. Those cameras are usually just cheap, low resolution video cameras that save to a flash card and have a strap to attach to a helmet or handle bar. I guess they’re for extreme skaters or some such to video their runs. I’ve never bought one but I’ve checked them out them online just to see what they are all about.

My picture taking on my bike started with a friend’s request to take some pictures of the colorful fall leaves that are around here this time of year. I stepped out my door and took some snaps but then, as I was getting ready for my bike ride, I decided to bring my camera with me on my ride. I was planning to stop and snap a quick photo or two if I saw something I liked.

I put my small camera in the pocket of my windbreaker and as I was riding decided to take it out and see if I could capture a video of my ride. As I was still riding I took the camera out, turned it on, and got it to start filming. The touch screen came in handy for that. Of course then I had to ride with only one hand on the handle bars and hold the camera out in front of me.

Usually when riding I’m not so much thinking as acting. I’ve got my eyes open and am aware of the traffic around me but I am trying to keep my mind clear. If I let my imagination wander off I can lose the sense of where I am and that’s not good when I’m out for a ride. A little while after I start my ride my concentration kicks in. Then the ride becomes pure body. My legs take over and know what to do.

As I was taking the video I became hyper aware of what was going on around me. With one hand on the handle bar I had to actively concentrate on keeping the bike straight. I was on a blacktop road so it wasn’t hard to do but I still had to concentrate on it. Normally keeping the bike straight never crossed my mind. I also had to keep the camera as level and even as I could. That all sure was new on a bike ride.

I knocked off a very quick video but then decided that going up the big hill ahead probably wasn’t the best time to be working the camera so I put it away. After I topped the hill I pulled it out and started it up again. I was probably only filming for five minutes but when I was done I got an error message that said my memory card couldn’t be used. That confused me. I got a new camera lately and put my 8GB card in that one and this, my pocket camera, had an old 2GB card in it. I should have had enough room but I didn’t. I turned the camera on again and noticed the bar that lets me know how much time I have left to film was short. I decided to save it for a downhill.

I went back to my normal riding until the downhill came and I pulled the camera out again. Once again I found myself having to concentrate on holding the bike straight and holding the camera. I had to slow my legs down but that was easy. Then I had to check my speed with the hand brake which gave me a third thing to have to concentrate on. It was a little awkward and weird but I got the shot with just a little space left over. I decided to use that little space for one more small movie that turned out to be the bumpiest part of the road. That short piece is nearly unwatchable.

All in all it really was a challenge to shoot hand held while riding my bike. It really doesn’t move the danger meter that much but it took a fair bit of concentration. A clamp or mount of some kind holding the camera to the bike would probably be a much better idea. I’m going to have to try and rig something up.

When I got home I finally saw what my memory card problem was. There were three episodes of TV shows stored on it. I must have used the card to shuttle some digital files between my desktop and my laptop and forgotten to delete them. I don’t remember doing that or even using the card so I must have done it sometime last winter. At least the card is fine.

And here is the ending to that story. After I wrote all of the above it inspired me to make a camera mount for my handlebars. I found an old bicycle rear view mirror lying around, took off the mirror, and taped a quarter inch bolt onto it. The bolt matches a standard camera tripod mount. I also put a nut on the bolt so that after I spun the camera onto the bolt I could lock it down a bit by tightening up the nut against it.

The rig worked well but unfortunately the video was nearly unwatchable. There was just too much camera shake. Without my body to be a shock absorber every little bump it the road was transfered to the video. The hand held bike video was pretty shaky but the bike mounted video was even worse. I guess there is a reason all of the sports cameras I saw were mounted on helmets.