The right ‘toys’ for playing it safe

It could have been a tragedy last November when Pedro Carrasco tumbled 150 feet off a dirt trail and down a remote 8,000-foot mountain during Costa Rica’s La Ruta de los Conquistadores, a four-day, Pacific-to-Atlantic trek known as one of the world’s toughest mountain-bike races. He was out of sight, freezing, had a broken hip and couldn’t cry for help because of a broken jaw. But Carrasco lay within reach of his handlebars, upon which he’d installed a horn to scare cows, pumas and monkeys out of his way. About midnight, after seven hours in and out of consciousness, he was located by a rescue team that heard his desperate honking in the black, moonless night.

Cycling can be risky whether you’re on a precarious trail halfway around the globe or on a casual road ride in your neighborhood. Increase your odds of being seen, heard and hydrated with safety accessories like these.

-- Roy M. Wallack

Neon noggin


Pedigreen Spidey Mesh helmet cover: Form-fitting, elastic-rimmed webbing of fluorescent green, a color easily noticed by drivers.

Likes: It made my black, hard-to-see helmet scream, “Cars, look at me!” Fits securely around different-shaped helmets, even those with a visor. It doesn’t obstruct ventilation. Weight: just 0.5 ounces. Also available in hot pink and glow orange.

Dislikes: None.

Price: $10. (503) 648-5300;

Ultra-light tail light

Planet Bike Spok: High visibility LED rear light.

Likes: Approaching cars simply can’t miss the huge red beacon produced by this tiny, 1 3/4 -inch, 3/4 -ounce light, which uses a super-bright LED and a translucent case to provide a claimed nighttime visibility of 1 mile. A single button toggles the light between steady and blinking. Attaches easily to a seat post or bike helmet with a Velcro cinch strap. Dime-sized battery rated to 100 hours.

Dislikes: None


Price: $14.99. (866) 256-8510;

Clean water (almost) anywhere

Clear 2 Go water bottle: An eco-friendly water bottle with a built-in filter.

Likes: Lets you drink clean water at home and on the road, eliminating expense and pollution of landfill-bound bottled water. Claims to remove up to 99% of microbial cysts and all chlorine, lead, mercury and asbestos from 100 gallons of tap water, the equivalent of 757 half-liter disposable plastic water bottles. A filter will last three months.


Dislikes: It is not guaranteed to clean up river water, so bottle isn’t as useful for mountain bikers as the pricey Katadyn Exstream Purifier Bottle ($44.95), the only EPA-registered purification bottle that removes all types of organisms, including viruses (

Price: $15.99; two-pack replacement filters, $12.99. (800) 231-9786;

Super honker

Airzound: Compressed-air horn claimed to be the world’s loudest bike blaster.


Likes: Shockingly loud. The first time, it actually scared me. At a U.S. Coast Guard-required 115 decibels, it will get attention from the most distracted driver. A volume-control switch is included. No batteries or cartridges are required; it refills easily with a Schrader-valve tire pump. Includes handlebar mount for horn and Velcro frame mount for air bottle.

Dislikes: The 8-inch-long air bottle takes up a lot of real estate on the downtube, and the narrow hose connecting the air to the horn de-streamlines your bike. System weighs 6 ounces.

Price: $39.99. (800) 474-6615;



Wallack is the co-author of “Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100.”