Archive for category 2012

why I’m thankful for cycling, 1

Cycling Oxford

I got an email today from the League (the League of American Bicyclists). First of all, let’s talk about how awesome it is that they go by “the League.” It sounds like some sort of group of cycling superheroes that rides around town painting bike lanes, handing out bike lights and using force to keep cars out of the bike lane.

Ok, but this post wasn’t about an idea for a crappy bicycle centric comic book, it was about being thankful for cycling. The League, in the email mentioned above, asked me why I’m thankful for cycling? So, I’m going to spend a couple of posts attempting to address that question.

1. The wind in my hair and all that jazz. 

Seriously. I spend 9 to 10 hours a day in a cubicle farm. Under fluorescent lighting. Surrounded by people who may or may not have washed their hands the last time they used the restroom. Lately, I’ve been riding “the short way” to work. That’s about 15 minutes. 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening. And sure, it’s cold, it tends to be dark going both ways this time of year, and road grime is only slightly more appealing than touching the door handle of the men’s restroom, but I’m outside.

That’s right, for at least 30 minutes a day, I’m outside. On my bike. It’s fantastic. So, I’m thankful for that.

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The Crash

So, we were pedaling along just fine. Some might even say we were just coming into form. We had readers and followers and twitters (there’s a chance we still have a few of those things) and posts. There were even a few of us that could be expected to post something a couple of times a week, at the very least, then something happened. There was a slight touch of wheels in the group and, it seems, most of us hit the tarmac, hard.

It’s true. Crashes are a part of the sport. Even if you’re not competing you can expect that, at least once, you’ll topple to the ground. It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic and, in many cases, it’s more embarrassing than painful. Maybe you went into a slick turn too fast, touched wheels with the guy in front of you, forgot to clip-out at the stoplight, hit a rock at slow speeds and pitched over the handlebars, or one of the things that happened to people other than me…after the crash the first thing we do is take stock. Broken bones? No. Excessive bleeding? No. Is the bike operable? Yes. Can I still ride it? Yes. Should I still ride it? Probably not. Will I still ride it? Yes.

Then we limp home hoping that no one we know saw the crash and that those who didn’t will think us tough and manly instead of clumsy and foolish.

It’s just slightly different if you leave your brand new bike on the roof of your car as you pull into the garage. The difference is in the shame and anger and feeling of stupidity that comes with crunching noise of house on bike violence.

When that happens, you don’t want to take stock. Opening the door and getting out to find that the force of the accident as used your carbon fork as a lever to rip the roof mounted rack from the top of the car and left it hanging, impotent, from the 2 remaining mounts is the last thing you want to do. When it happened to me I wasn’t even able to pretend to assess the damage before I dropped the mangled bike in the grass and tried to put my fist through the rear window of the car (a task I was, luckily, unsuccessful at).

Even now, a few weeks, a new fork, and a new brake caliper later, I’m angry at myself for letting something so dumb happen. Despite my wife’s claim that the whole incident was her fault (because we were shopping for a new bike for her and she was talking to me when it happened) there’s no one to blame but the man behind the wheel.

So, maybe it wasn’t a touch of wheels that derailed this site. Maybe it was something more controllable. Maybe someone left the damn thing on top of the car and drove it into the garage. Maybe it was me.

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Teamwork and execution exemplified.

Awesome teamwork and effort shared through on board cameras and data from Garmin device. The race from this past weekend’s 2012 e3 Cyclebration, held in Folsom, California, LeadOut Racing exemplified teamwork, focus and execution, which helped them dominate the weekend. Data Driven Athlete combed the video and data for the video below from the finish of the race.  Kudo’s guys.

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It was only a flesh wound

There isn’t a picture. I didn’t think to take one. It never occured to me that this would be the end. You can imagine my surprise when I got the call.

“Mike?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m calling from REI about your Novara.”

“Yeah.”

“Novara is not authorizing the repair.”

The end result is (going to be) a new bike. Which is good for me, right? I was going to need a new crankset and a new cassette pretty soon anyway. And now I don’t need to install that cable and housing I have in the garage. And, I’m going to have a brand new bike.

But, Eva is gone. That cable stop snapped off clean. The frame was undamaged. Even the mechanics at REI thought it would be a simple repair, a couple of new rivets and I could be on my way. Instead, it was a flesh wound that festered and killed my bike. Now she’s off to some junk yard (or some clever REI mechanic is making her into a carbon singles speed – that’s what I’d do).

Earlier tonight I drove over to REI to finalize the return and order my new bike. Standing at the counter waiting for the mechanics to sort out my return I caught a glimpse of my bike through the open doors. They rolled it by, took of the pedals and that was it. She was gone.

We cyclists often talk about our bikes like they’re people. The bikes we ride get names and genders and have personalities. We feel guilty when they’re neglected and baby them whenever we can. It’s a special relationship. It’s probably not healthy but it’s the way we are.

I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

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as far as I can tell…

We turned 2 today.

Since our first post I’ve become a regular bike commuter and Kurt has ridden in his first bike race. What I said originally is still true: we’re not experts at anything, really.

Now, go ride your bike.

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US Bicycling Hall of Fame launches gran fondo in Davis

Sacramento-area cyclists seeking long group rides should note that the city of Davis will host a new event on May 6th, the Legends Gran Fondo, which is organized by the US Bicycling Hall of Fame. The charity ride, which is open to the public, will raise money to support the USBHoF, a non-profit which recognizes the achievements of American cyclists.

The Legends Gran Fondo will start and finish in downtown Davis, at Central Park on 3rd and C Street. Participants will be given the option of riding the full gran fondo, a 90-mile round trip, or the Medio, a 65-mile route equivalent to a metric century.

Riders on the two routes will have access to high-quality rest-stop nourishment, SAG support and the opportunity to ride alongside some notable names in American cycling, says Blair Robertson in the Sacramento Bee. The most recognizable name, perhaps, is that of Greg LeMond, who won the Tour de France three times before creating his own line of road bikes.

‘Gran fondo’-style events have grown in popularity over the past decade, perhaps because they offer amateur riders the illusion of a pro-tour atmosphere, a contrast to the low-key club rides usually available to them. The bigger gran fondos – most notably Levi’s King Ridge Gran Fondo in Sonoma are spectacular events, featuring very large entry pools, lavish rest-stops, celebrity-participation and a festival atmosphere. In comparison, many charity century rides are dour, poorly organized and exclude riders who are unable to raise sufficient funds.

The Legends Gran Fondo features attractions like starting line call-ups, escorted rolling-enclosure starts, police and medical support, technical assistance, and an official timing-system which gives participants the chance to log their overall speed and progress. The routes are limited to 1,000 riders for this inaugural year, and they take riders out towards Winters, then south for a wide loop. Gran-route riders will do a second loop to make up the additional miles.

Registration fees are $95 for either route, which entitles participants to all the benefits of a fully-supported ride, plus a commemorative t-shirt, or $135, which includes a limited-edition USBHoF jersey. For more information, visit the USBHoF website.

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Act Now!

After a week of rain we’re getting a break from the late winter this week (rumor has it that it might rain again tomorrow but, it’s going to be almost 70°). It’s about time y’all start thinking about commuting.

Lucky for you, between now and Sunday you can go to Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery and trade in that SUV for a bike.

Customers can pick out a new bike at the cyclery — which features a giant flat-screen TV, leather club chairs and an espresso maker, not to mention some sweet two-wheeled rides — then head over the Ford dealership. They’ll trade in their cars, get a check and head back to the bike shop. Any leftover money goes back to the customer.

If I only had an extra car.

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On the rain

First, let me apologize for how quiet it’s been around here recently. Kurt and I happened to go on family vacations at the same time this year (not together) and that, a week or so off of work, always comes with a week of frantic preparation and a week of frantic catching up. Or, at least, that’s my excuse, I think Kurt’s probably still lost on some beach in Hawaii.

I spent about 8 days on the California Central Coast and, between beaches, drives down to Big Sur, trips to the aquarium and shuttling around my wife’s 15 year-old half-sister, I managed to get out for a couple of bike rides in pretty fantastic weather.

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I returned home only to find that the rain we’d been missing all winter was due to arrive just in time for my (now dark) morning commutes,

Thirty minutes (or just under) is about perfect when you’re talking about riding in the rain. At 50° it’s not cold enough to get the chills and just as the water starts to slosh around in your shoes and breach the “water resistant” barrier jacket you’re wearing, you’re pulling into the parking lot at work and (careful not slip due to the wet tile, cycling shoe combo) heading into the locker room to change into some dry clothes.

Then, after you’ve hung up socks and jackets and laid out your shorts and jersey to dry in the back of your cubicle, people walk by your desk and say, “you didn’t ride today, did you?” And suddenly you become a hero, at least temporarily, for braving the elements and showing dedication to the cause. Or, maybe they add it to the list of things that make you weird, right after “wears Lycra in public.”

At least, that’s my experience.

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NAHBS Pics

I’m going to let the majority of this post be about the pictures.  I am an artist and a cyclist and this show may replace that special place in my heart that Interbike has held for several years now.  What can I say, I’m non-committal.  It was absolute sensory overload (just like Interbike is) but with the added atmosphere that an upscale art gallery has.  I was, to put it simply, in bike art heaven.  I had promised that I would help out Dean Alleger at his booth for the Sacramento Valley Velodrome so I attempted to see as many booths as I could in 20 minutes flat.  I think I was actually gone 30 minutes.  At any rate, please enjoy the following bikeprOn:


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2012 NAHBS | These Commuter Bikes Are Way Cooler than Anything Inside

The dust has settled. The bikes have been packed up and sent back to wherever they came from. 2012 NAHBS is over and I was there…at least for a few hours.

I drove west on Saturday morning, after a relaxing morning with the family that involved walking behind my 3 year-old as she rode her Skuut to Starbucks. The weather was fantastic and by the time we were heading back home the four of us were taking off coats and throwing off blankets an, more or less, wondering what ever happened to winter.

It was with a small amount of regret that, at around 10:00, I loaded myself into the car and started the trek downtown. I was going to NAHBS. That basically meant I’d drive downtown, park in a garage and spend a good portion of the middle of the day inside the convention center. Needless to say, it was a little difficult to put all those exclamation marks I’d been seeing on Twitter on my departure.

The irony of an avid bike commuter driving fewer than 15 miles to a handmade bike show is not lost on me. But time being what it is and parenthood being what it is, I decided to forgo a ride into the city in exchange for more time with the bikes.

I half expected the area around the convention center (a neighborhood I’m very familiar with thanks to the many years my wife worked directly across the street) to be filled with bearded men and women riding fixed gear freestyle in the streets. It wasn’t (though I did, almost instantly, see bearded men and women*).

Without much effort I was credentialed and walking into the exhibit hall through the media entrance. Later I would find out that the show had more visitors (8100 total) than any other year and that Saturday was the most crowded day of the three days, but as I entered the exhibit hall I was completely overwhelmed, first by the throngs of people, then by the bright shinny bicycles.

I’m one of those bloggers who continues to surprised by my inclusion as a “member of the press” and I as I approached the show I realized I had no idea what I was going to see or what I’d write about that wouldn’t be covered in print on 27 other bike blogs. I’m not a talented photographer and I didn’t even bother to bring a camera (except for the one on my iPhone) and I really had no plan of attack.

So I wondered around aimlessly for a few minutes and half hoped to run into someone I knew (despite the fact that I wouldn’t recognize any of those people unless they were holding up photos of their Twitter avatars next to their faces).

To recap: I had no plan, I was overwhelmed, and I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked. Or, it was like just about every long ride I’ve ever done.

It was Cyclelogical.

I managed to get my barrings and pointed myself at a booth with a familiar logo. They don’t build bikes and it was pretty clear that they were a little stressed out about selling enough T-Shirts to cover the cost of the trip, but they were having a good show and told me to come back in an hour for a look at something new that they’d put together just for NAHBS.

Having reviewed a Cyclelogical commuter bag not so long ago, I was excited to see what the small company would have in store for me when I got back. So I left.

Probably the only person at the show to stop at two clothing booths before I bothered to look at bikes, I headed from the Cyclelogical booth to Twin Six and landed in a long conversation with Brent Gale.

He did the thing he was supposed to do, he showed me their new knickers (we already knew about those) and a nice merino hoody (want). He talked about the show and the DeLorean (which he had to remind me about) and midgets. And then, just about the time he mentioned the fact that other people didn’t find his tweet humorous, he started talking about design and work and how difficult and rewarding the whole thing was.

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Then he pointed me towards the Signal Cycles booth where I spent a good amount of time talking to Nate Meschke, one of the 2 builders who ran the company. We talked about Portland and the show and how hard it was to do every year and how they probably wouldn’t be back in 2013, unless the show was in Denver, then they’d probably have to go…Nate told me that NAHBS is a must for new builders, but a difficult and expensive weekend for small, established shops like Signal.

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Like a good amateur journalist, I talked to all these people and failed to take anything resembling notes. This is because I was distracted by how much friendly and honest and open all the builders I talked to were. I wondered around, introducing myself and just chatting about what they were doing, what they liked, what you could ride over with that bike with 36 inch wheels. I didn’t even bother to take but a handful of photos.

I did go back to the Cyclelogical booth to see these new, American made, SPD compatible shoes. I think he said they’d be about $250.

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As I exited the convention center I heard a guy on his phone, “the commuter bikes outside are way cooler than anything they have inside,” he might have been right, but the builders and exhibitors inside were way more interesting than both.

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