Saturday, April 12, 2014

It's Coming: The Garmin Edge 1000 Cycling GPS Unit.

Photo courtesy of Bikeradar.

Well, just when you thought it was safe to fall unconditionally in love with your current Garmin GPS, along comes another one.  And, like a smartphone, they just keep getting bigger.  And, also like a smartphone, they keep getting much more expensive.  This unit's asking price is slated to be $600.00 USD!

Read the details of this new electronic beast at Bikeradar.com

And, here's to hoping this will not become the next consumer nightmare of rapid updates and tweaks, all in in effort to keep us buying the latest contraption.

I still use the Edge 500, and it does everything I need it to do.  How much longer Garmin will support it?  We'll see.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rumor Alert: A Ritchey C260 Alloy, Limited Edition Stem In Hi-Vis Yellow Coming This Summer.

Now, imagine it in Hi-Vis Yellow.

A Ritchey Hi-Vis Yellow, limited Edition C260 stem?  According to our informants on the ground, yes, this is indeed going to happen Summer 2014.  And, I am glad to see Ritchey is going with more colors, especially since it looks like the Gloss Red, which looked so awesome, seems to be getting scaled back, for some reason.

And remember, you read it here first.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

“Quit Whining,” Said The Wrong-Way Cyclist.



Motor vehicles, potholes, road debris, the weather; Must we also add bone-headed cyclists to the list of dangers encountered by the everyday rider?  Wrong-Way Corrigan’s seem to be in vogue these days, and it has spread from runners to cyclists.  And, this is not a healthy trend, folks.

The Scene:

I was on one of my regular training rides, out enjoying the sun and the sky, this time circling Bonelli Park.  Yes, that same Bonelli Park recently used by SoCal Cycling’s San Dimas Road Race.  It is a nice seven-mile-and-change loop, with a bit of everything to challenge a rider.  Included is a run on Puddingstone Drive, just north of Brackett Airport.  It is a four-lane, divided road, with a posted speed-limit of 40 MPH, which automatically translates to drivers as 50 MPH, plus.  On this stretch, as long as a rider keeps to the right, it is generally not a problem for all to share the road.

Enter the Bonehead.

I was over to the right in the number two lane, fully decked out in a bright, red kit, white strobe to the front (plus a red one at the rear), when I spotted him and his florescent-yellow wind breaker.  He was also in the number two lane, only he was running the opposite direction of traffic, coming head-on with me.  Even though I was visually as conspicuous as an atom bomb at sunrise, he finally spotted me, and the vehicular traffic (also in the number two lane) closing in on him.  I sat up, applied the brakes (not knowing his intentions), and he began to visibly panic, weaving both left and right, realizing he had put himself (plus the driver and I) in a very bad position.  The vehicle moved into the number one lane, being he had entirely taken up the number two, on course for a head-on collision, and I come to a near stop against the curb.

Catastrophe was averted by the actions of both the driver and I, while Mr. Bonehead pedaled on as if nothing had happened.  As he was passing to my immediate left, he waved “Hello” to me and smiled, as I was shaking my head in obvious disgust.  Seeing I was less than enthused, he then uttered the immortal words of a clinical narcissist: “Quit Whining!” 

Quit whining?  First, I was not whining at all.  Second, he was being a complete, and dangerous tool, and tried to kiss the encounter off with a “No-Biggie” wave at me.  He endangered the lives of three people (including himself), and to him, it was apparently a non-issue.  Talk about nerve.  He put the driver and I in a position of extreme uncertainty, as both of us knew not what this jerk was going to do.  I could have just kept going, thus risking a head-on collision with him, or I could have swerved to my left, thus putting me in a position to be hit from behind, as the vehicles are not expecting a bike to jump into their path.  Or, I could have come to a stop, which was what I just about did.  And, this was not the first time I have encountered a wrong-way cyclist. 

So, I did some detective work (in addition to this article, Cycling Dynamics, 12-15-2012).  I have since spoken to both cyclists and runners alike, and I read a whole lot about this very dangerous behavior of “Seeing what is coming at me” on-line.  What I found was an alarming, and very dangerous, trend which is being justified in the name of, get this, “Safety.”  BUNK, I say!  What these people do not realize is in vain attempts at security they are actually putting themselves, and others, in severe danger.  Going against traffic of any kind, for any reason, is something people sharing the road are not expecting, and when closure speeds are factored in, this is an extremely fatal practice looking for a place to happen.  It needs to stop. 

What people of all recreational activities need to understand is that bicycles are required to follow the same rules motor vehicles do.  Additionally, runners, being considered pedestrians, need to follow all of the laws of good pedestrians.  And, that includes staying out of the street unless it is for the specific, expressed purpose of said streets being legally crossed.  I have seen too much of this activity disrupt two and four-wheeled traffic.

Look, vehicular traffic is difficult enough to deal with as it is, without riders and pedestrians adding to the mix.  Cyclists, please do not add to this dangerous, disruptive practice.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Want The Secret To A Comfortable Ride? It’s The Chamois AND The Saddle.

Where the rider REALLY meets the road: Saddle & Chamois.

Editor’s Note: The information contained in this article was based on the personal findings of the author.  Only bibs were tested, however, the same information would also apply to shorts. 

Do an online or print search.  There are virtual treasure troves of articles about selecting the best saddles and articles about discovering the best bib shorts.  What you will not see, however, but you will here, are articles discussing the importance of BOTH the saddle AND the chamois.  To quote Forrest Gump, “…They go together like Peas and Carrots.”  And, that relationship is not a myth, either.  Any saddle and bib manufacturer (and product evaluator’s) worth their salt should already understand the relationship, intimately.  They had better. 

And, truth be told, this was not a test I intentionally set out to do.  It was something I noticed quite by accident, over a period of time, while evaluating a lot of products.  The discovered comfort-and-pain opposites of the spectrum just could not be ignored.  So, I dug a little deeper, and I read up (a lot!) on the subject of saddle and chamois dynamics.  Then it all made sense.

So, what did I learn?  Follow along and see what I found out.

        The Chamois pad: They come in various shapes and thickness. Placement in the shorts is critical.

In addition to differing human body shapes, the type, thickness, and placement of your chamois all play a major role in saddle comfort, and thus, arriving at that perfect position “Sweet-Spot.”  This is something all of us should keep in mind, because it is far too important to ignore.  The upside of getting the combination right is pure, cycling, mile-eating bliss.  The downside is the great amount of time, pain, and expense, to find that sweet-spot, which is why most riders do not make the effort, if they were aware of the relationship at all.  Compounding the issue is that you can trade in an uncomfortable saddle, but once a chamois has touched your behind, return policies can vary from “Well maybe,” to “Are you kidding me?  Of, course not!”  Thus, like a marriage, a pair of bib shorts are yours for better of worse.  And, like a marriage, choose wisely (I also understand that one can sell a pre-owned pair of bibs on eBay, but you cannot do that with your spouse, so hold those comments, please).

When I was using my Ritchey Carbon Streem saddle, certain pairs of bibs were much more comfortable than others.  With my Fizik Arione, the situation was reversed – Bibs not so comfortable with the Ritchey saddle were comfortable with the Fizik, and those not so good with the Fizik, worked great with the Ritchey.  When I tried a Shimano PRO Turnix TU saddle, in that case, ALL of my bib shorts were comfortable!  Then, it got even more interesting; I discovered my Descente bibs worked well with every saddle in my evaluation stable.  So, in total, of all of the saddles and bibs evaluated in this study, only the Shimano Turnix TU worked well with all bibs, and only the Descente bibs worked well with all of my saddles (the other saddles and bibs listed below were the same mix of “Hit-R’-Miss,” as the Ritchey and Fizik offerings).

The results of this somewhat un-scientific, extremely seat-of-the-pants, experiment got me thinking of the immortal Arte Johnson from the Laugh-In television series: “Veeery interesting.”  As for the totality of equipment involved in this voyage of discovery, see the lists below.     

Overall, the saddles evaluated were:

  • Ritchey Carbon Streem (carbon rail)
  • Fizik Arione CX (alloy rail)
  • WTB Silverado (alloy rail)
  • Bontrager Affinity (alloy rail)
  • Selle Italia SL Kit Carbonio Flow (carbon rail)
  • Shimano PRO Turnix TU (alloy rail)
  • Shimano PRO Turnix AF (alloy rail)

Bibs evaluated were:

  • Pearl Izumi Pro In-R-Cool
  • Castelli Free Aero Race
  • Louis Garneau Equipe
  • Descente Helios
  • Descente Strata Endurance
  • Voler Team Edition

As it currently stands, I am using the Shimano Turnix with great satisfaction.  I mean, it performs well, it looks good, and it likes all of the bib shorts in my collection, so I will work with it for awhile and see how it goes.  I reiterate this is what I discovered works for me (your butt may vary), and if you have already arrived at your own saddle/chamois combo, good work on your part.  If not, you owe it to yourself to begin the adventure, and yes, you will be richly rewarded for it.  Just remember to fear not and try everything you can get away with.

So, to sum it all up, some of my bibs work best with certain saddles.  Certain saddles work best with certain, other bibs.  My Shimano Turnix works best with all of my bibs.  And, my Descente bibs work best with all of my saddles.  In the immortal words of the character Daniel Bateman in the Football movie The Replacements: “This thing can get confusing, Man.” 
 
Thus, in conclusion, for complete riding nirvana, the elusive saddle/chamois combo must be arrived at, and yes, it will take time and money.  This, oddly, seems to be one of the axioms of cycling which has, thus far, escaped serious, in-depth discussion.  Unfortunately, there are no easy methods here.  It is all trial and error, and costs can quickly sore (pun intended) to astronomical.  However, the quest is well worth the effort.  There just has to be a better way.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 San Dimas Stage Race: A Fans Perspective.

The Start/Finish Line on Puddingstone Drive.

Being a resident of Southern California, it is hard to believe this was the first time I attended the San Dimas Stage Race.  How it got way from me for all of those other years, well, the list of reasons is long, but extremely distinguished.  However, sparing all the excuses, I am just glad I finally pedaled my behind out to Bonelli Park for the 15th running of the event.  And, I was not disappointed, either.

While the event is a three-day affair, with a time-trail up Glendora Mountain Road, and a Criterium in downtown San Dimas, the road race around Bonelli Park was the only day I could attend.  The course was roughly seven-miles, and it had a bit of everything, from windy flats, to twists and turns, a hellacious up and down hill (known respectively as Cannon and Walnut Avenue’s), rollers through the park, and a trip over a dam.  The latter was an issue on Saturday morning, as California is what California does; A magnitude 5.1 earthquake the night before had authorities inspecting Puddingstone Dam before the racers were allowed to cross over it.

With the Engineers giving the “All Clear,” the races commenced, as did the overflowing enthusiasm for the event.  I had heard Racers were a rude, smug, self-inflated bunch of hooligans, and while some truly are, I found the bulk of the participants to be friendly, engaged, and just darn happy to be there on their bikes.  How can one argue with that?

You can get "Up and Close" at cycling races. Just don't get too close.

I basically spent most of my time near the Start/Finish line, and also cruised the “Pits” a few times marveling at the very expensive, light, and exotic race machines, along with some very colorful kits some of the teams wore.  Whether a professional team bus and support vehicle setup, to the small, independent participants in white, un-sponsored vans, all were there to race, and make sure they enjoyed doing it.  That included the one guy who rode his bike to the event, with only a backpack as his means of “Team” support.  Now that was a real enthusiast, racer!  And, on the subject of enthusiasm, the Cat 5 racers (beginners) were giving it their all at the event just as much as the Pro’s did.    

The upside of my day’s adventure was some really good, close racing, the awesome weather, the enthusiastic fans, and the announcer’s in the booth, whom were very informative and entertaining.  In addition, I have never seen so many beautiful, expensive bikes in one place being ridden by so many super-skinny people (I really have to ride more).  Also, I came home with fifteen, new, team water bottles! 

The only downside to the day was at the Finish Line of the Men’s Pro Race.  As the laps wound down, the crowd began to grow at the line, and that included photographers.  Lots of Photographers.  While I truly enjoy photography myself, the one thing I do know is to stay the heck out of the way of a rapidly approaching peleton.  Well, even after being honked out of the way by the Referee’s car, the photo-hounds crowded back into the finishing chute just as the winner was celebrating (about twenty-yards after the line), and while I did not see the accident, I certainly did hear it.  THUD!!!  When the proverbial dust cleared, I saw two riders down, one I recognized as a rider from Team Jet Fuel Coffee –Norco, which I believe was stage winner Anton Varabei!  The other was possibly third-place finisher Canyon Bicycles-Shimano’s Daniela Eaton.  Depending on whom you believe, either Varabei hit the photographer, or Eaton hit the photographer, or they collided attempting to avoid a photographer.  However it occurred, both riders went down after finishing 70-miles of hard racing, and the last thing they needed was a finishing chute full of people which should have been there. 

The Pro Men's finish. In two-seconds the winner would not be celebrating.

Overall, a good show was put on by SoCal Velo, but sadly, they lost control of the event three-seconds after the Pro Men’s finish. 

Apparently the issue with overzealous photographers is quite well-spread, as this article on "The Inner Ring" explains. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ritchey WCS Alloy Zero-Offset One-Bolt Seatpost



In the wide world of cycling, just about everyone riding accepts the stock setback of their seatposts without even a momentary thought.  Just get on and ride, then adjust the saddle, and maybe the stem to suit, right?  Well, the point is, we do not have to accept this regime at face value.  Why do bicycle manufacturers expect the consumers to blindly accept the almost universal 20-degree setback, thus leaving riders with the often fruitless game of finding the most comfortable, efficient stem length and saddle position?  Well, we don’t, if one just puts some thought into it.

I finally got tired of being the victim of the post setback I was innocently dealt and had, unfortunately, grown used to, since it pretty much was all which was offered off the showroom floor.  Besides, everyone was running with 20-degrees, anyway, right?  So, a plan of action went into effect.  First, a confession; I really, really like Ritchey seatposts.  They are extremely functional, have an ingenious one-bolt rail clamp system, provide some compliance, and just look darn good, to boot.  However, I almost gave that all up in my search for something with less than a 20-degree setback by going with another manufacturer.  Almost.

Recently I switched to a Shimano PRO Vibe 7S alloy bar and stem, so naturally, I went looking to the PRO Vibe 7S seatpost, as well.  I mean, it looked really good, promised to be stiffer than the Ritchey WCS, and offered a 15-degree setback.  Well, only it didn’t.  The Shimano catalog showed a Vibe 7S offering with the aforementioned 15-degree’s, and a Di2 post, also with 15-degree’s of setback.  Well, the reality of the situation is they only offer the Di2 post, and, as some of you may have already guessed, in only a 20-degree option.  Bummer.  So, back to the Ritchey catalog I went, and BAM!  I came across a WCS, zero-degree offset model.  It was the same WCS post I had come to love, it had the reduced offset I was looking for, however, unfortunately, it did not come in the gloss, red paint which looks so, so good.  OK, black it was to be.


And, the results?  Well, I have put a few hundred miles on the zero-degree offset post, and we, my backside and I, are extremely pleased with the additional range of saddle adjustment (for the record, I use a 120mm stem).  Doing all of the proper measurements for my body geometry, I quickly found my personal “Sweetspot.”  I feel more comfortable on the bike, and most importantly, I feel much more efficient, and my sector times on training routes bear this out.  I am slightly more upright, but I am able to produce more power, more comfortably, for longer periods of time.  What’s not to like about that? 

No longer will I be limited by the 20-degree seatposts of the world.   

The Specs:
  • 3D Forged TR741 Alloy
  • Available in 27.2, 30.9 & 31.6mm diameters
  • Available in 300, 350 & 400mm lengths
  • Interchangeable clamps provide compatibility for all popular rail sizes
  • 0mm Offset
  • 7x7mm saddle rail clamp included
  • Saddle Clamp Torque Spec: 12Nm
  • Available in black only
  • 195g (27.2/350)
  • Retail price: $89.95 USD

Monday, March 17, 2014

“My Horse Does Not Like Bikes…”


Those were the words spoken by an equine-astride woman on Saturday whilst a friend and I were headed south on the San Gabriel RiverTrail in the City of Azusa.  Can you imagine that?  Someone actually telling cyclists to get off the bike path so they could pass with royal fanfare?  I don’t think even Moses was that arrogant when he parted the Red Sea.  I know that society as a whole has become clinically narcissistic, but that was one, way over-the-top, selfish episode.

Initially, my thought on the brief encounter with Ms. “Ed” was, “Whatever.”  However, it was about a mile or so later that I let what I had just heard sink in.  And, that was when I became a bit disturbed about the encounter.  When we first saw the two horses coming opposite-direction, my partner and I moved as far to the right edge of the trail as possible to be safe, expecting a quick pass, and forever those riders would be out of our lives.  “No biggie,” I thought to myself.  Yet, the attitude of that rider was as if we were supposed to pull over, stop, and let her and her partner pass. 

Here is the brief, unedited commutation with this trail-fool: “You had better pullover.  My horse does not like bikes.  OK, I warned you.”

Wow, what supreme arrogance of one’s self, and what a foolish misunderstanding of the true nature of the B-I-K-E T-R-A-I-L.  Not that I mind horses, by the way, just don’t tell others legally using the trail to get off of it for your own, personal benefit.  Yes, it is a multi-use trail, however, I cannot locate a source which claims horses are allowed on the bike trail, period.  Far as I can discern, the entire San Gabriel River Bike Trail is a  “Non-Equine Zone.”

As for me, personally, I have no problems with sharing the trail with others and their chosen activities (even the runners who are dead-center in the middle of the trail and wonder why “Those darn cyclists” get so disturbed), but to have this kind of active, living, breathing stupidity just set me off, post encounter.  I mean, forgive me for using the bike trail for its intended purpose, Ms. Seabiscuit.

A true gauge of the moral compass of a society is how different people, doing different things all get along with each other.  Supreme arrogance and stupidity upsets the balance for all. 

Plus, last I checked, cyclists did not crap on the bike path.