Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Scenes We Don't Like To See, And A Major Case Of Bike Lane Fail.

A Public Service Announcement to those whom have not yet received the memo: We are all going to die, someday.  

No, that is not some sort of macabre joke, it is a true fact of life that no one gets off this planet alive, save for the Prophet Elijah.  While the end of life is indeed nothing to fear, the perspective of what can happen to one in between is the sober reminder in the photos below. 

The photos were taken near the end of a recent ride I took through Santiago Canyon.  I had never seen a Ghost Bike before, and it was quite an eye opening reminder of the hazards we face whilst engaged in our passion.  Dying of old age is one thing, but having your life taken from you by a reckless moron is flat-out tragic. 

I never knew Joseph Robinson personally, yet through the brotherhood-of-cycling, we are really all family, and the loss of a brother or sister is hard to take.

As you can see, the posted speed is 55-miles per hour.  That seems a reasonable speed considering the width of the road and it's smooth surface.  The dangerous aspect of these speeds is they are safe as long as the motorists don't swerve out of their lanes and hit cyclists, which is what happened to Mr. Robinson.  Alcohol, and youthful inexperience, were also contributing factors in this case.

In the "Hey, we got room," department, it seems if you have to close a lane for street maintenance, why only close one lane (and traffic monitor the other), when you can simply shut down both lanes and route 45-mile per hour traffic into the bike lane.  On a recent training ride, the photo below shows just such an instance in the City of Claremont.  It also seems that the law of 25-miles per hour in a work zone does not apply, anymore.

I waited for about a dozen cars to pass before I felt it was safe to proceed, as a fencing crew had the sidewalk closed with their own, independent activity.  Epic fail, boys.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A New Perspective

From the merely curious web surfers, to my seven, loyal readers, folks may have noticed I have been extremely silent on the giant, electronic publishing highway.  There was a good, valid reason for that.  The office of Cycling Dynamics has moved, trading the foothills for the coast.  And, said move was not without its share of pain, suffering, sweat and tears, additionally taking a massive chunk out of my available riding, and writing, time.  Yes, life happens.    

However, now that the formally plush publishing office has now become an extremely plush publishing office, don’t think for one minute the insightful commentary, opinions and product testing of this woefully underfunded operation will cease.  The roads may have flattened out around here, but with a bold, fresh perspective, new terrain to explore, and new products to test out, things are guaranteed to get a whole lot more interesting. 

Therefore, back on the information highway with a new location, a new ISP, and an odd sense of spiritual rebirth from the whole experience, the bicycle wheels of life can only go one way: Forward.  And, so too, will Cycling Dynamics move forward for the loyal (and questionably sane) followers of the site, because that is the only direction I know how to go now. 

Come along for the ride. 


Darryl Bustamante, Editor-At-Large

Monday, September 15, 2014

Shimano PRO Vibe 7S Anatomical Road Bar Review

Photo courtesy of PRO Components

First off, I have a confession to make.  I really, really hated taking these bars off my trusty Trek 2.3 testbed.  They were some of the most comfortable, functional, durable, and good looking bars I have ever used, I now understand why they are such a hit in Pro Peletons around the world.  However, in the pursuit of knowledge through ceaseless, selfless testing, I had to do the deed.  Courtesy of the fine folks at Tweaked Sports, of Glendora, California, a brand new set of Ritchey Streem II alloy bars dropped into my hands for evaluation (a write-up will be coming on those later, after I get some miles on them).

Pro markets the Vibe 7S as a “Do-All” road bar, suitable for both racing and training, with the durability of aluminum offering peace-of-mind in the event of a crash.  The latter is why so many pro teams prefer aluminum over the lightness (and cool factor) of carbon fiber bars.  With a carbon bar, the spectre of cracks and delamination are always lurking under the bar tape.  With alloy bars, that lack of a sudden, catastrophic failure is negated (for the most part).

I used a 44cm wide Vibe for 10-months (drop 140mm, reach 80mm), and it was tested on local training rides, Century’s, mountains, the coast, river trails, and even some dirt fire roads.  The bars were some of the most, if not the most, comfortable I have ever used.  The tops are a constant diameter of 31.8mm, from the stem to the first bend, and my size-large hands really liked that.  And, that top bend radiuses just perfectly into the Ultegra 6700 shifters I am currently using, tapering to 23.75mm from the drops to the bar ends.  The anatomical portion of the bar was another thing which fit my hands just right, though the balance of comfort while on the hoods and in the drops meant bar angle was a critical factor in achieving a perfect setup.  Additionally, and a quality of alloy bars which I like, is that you can feel the bars flexing over rough surfaces, so they do indeed dampen out vibrations and harsh bumps; A really good thing.

To sum it all up, would I personally use these bars again, and also recommend them to others?  You bet! 

The Pics:

The anatomical bend.

Wide 31.8mm tops for maximum comfort. Nice "PRO" graphics, too.

The upper radius is well-shaped. Combine a Vibe 7S stem, and the control is excellent.
The Specs:
  • AL-7050 construction for increased rigidity
  • Integrated Dual Cable Routing for brake and shift-cables
  • Available in Round, Anatomic or Compact bends
  • Sizes: 38, 40, 42 and 44cm (C/C)
  • Diameter: 31.8mm
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: from 260g
  • MSRP: $99.00 USD

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Welcome To The Wild, Wild, West.

Due to commitments, and that thing called “Life,” I was off the bike for pretty much the whole month of August.  Too busy to get on-board, I did throw quite a few looks of affection her way as I was coming in, and going out, the door.  Well, I finally decided I was MAKING time to go out for a ride and reacquaint myself with my bike, my legs, and some of the local roads.  And in regards to the latter, well, let me tell you, after today’s training ride, it seems I did not miss a thing.

It is time us to face the facts: We now live in a lawless society, with people pretty much making up the rules as they go, and, of course, the rules apply to themselves, only.  Motorists, cyclists, and even pedestrians, plus everyone in between, peeps are pretty much wholly dismissive of one another today.  The real problems arise when we get a whole society of these creatures together, and one can just watch the machine of humanity slowly grinding to a halt.

While my training ride was pretty much “Business as Usual” as far as purposely rude humans goes, there were some real standouts which warrant special mentions from the ride.  They were kinda’ like Kenny Blankenship’s Most Painful Eliminations of The Day, without the brutal impacts, water traps, or being caught on actual video.

The first shout-out goes to Casa Colina Rehabilitation Center, in Pomona, California.  From an organization in business of healing bodies, their employee’s and guests seem determined to put many-a-cyclist in there as patients due to how they ingress and egress from the property.  It is one place to really watch yourself, lest one becomes a guest, Pronto!

Next up, “Johnny Skinhead.”  From the bad haircut, to the dirty, ripped clothing , to the complete beater-car, this guy already had stereotype written all over him, and that was before he blew the light a full four-seconds after it turned red for him.

My next victim of ridicule, “Jose Oldsmobile.”  This creep not only blew through a stop sign, but he almost plowed into me, two cars at the intersection, plus a man simply just opening the door to his own truck.  “Jose” was traveling so fast, and had such a dangerous disregard for others, that both the truck driver and I tried to track him down and get his license plate to report him.  Alas, “Senior Oldsmobile” was gone in less than 60-seconds.

Then, there was “Toni Hawkeye.”  This knucklehead felt it was his job to be hauling ass in the bike lane – Opposite traffic, while astride a skateboard.  And, this moron was not going to move for anyone, including little ‘ol me and my bicycle.

And finally, I present “Chrissie Curbhugger.”  She felt it was her job, after picking up her cretin kid from school, to drive in the bike lane for about 150-yards before making a right turn, rather than merge into traffic with everyone else, as she was legally required to do.  While she was waiting at the red light (I know, shocked me, too) I politely told he that it is illegal to drive in the bike lane for reasons of convenience.  Yes, she actually had the nerve to get angry regarding the situation: At me.

“Ah, the Flowers of Humanity, I used to think.”  Now, all I think I have been experiencing have been the weeds.

Stay vigilant, my friends.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I Rolled A “Fatty” Today.

The Farley. Photo courtesy Trek Bicycles.

Being I have been personally known to pretty much try any new thing twice, I welcomed the opportunity to try out a “Fatty.”  A Fat Tired bicycle, that is.  And while this is by no means a “Review,” it is more of a personal revelation about a class of bikes I had, to this point in my life, personally dismissed.  So, what did I discover?  Well, it was one of the most unexpectedly entertaining things I have done in a long time.   

Courtesy of the fine folks at Pasadena Cyclery, I was invited the opportunity to ride a Trek Farley.  And, being true to my approach to “New Things,” I thought, well, goofy as those darn Fat Tired bikes looked, I welcomed the chance to try one of those odd contraptions out.  And, I am delighted to report I have now been enlightened to what all of the fuss has been about regarding this genre of bikes.  They are absolutely amazing!

While I did not “Take it to the Hills, what the shop’s terrain did provide was a pseudo-rock garden, dirt, and some deep gravel.  The Farley just ate it all up.  ‘Matter of fact, the wide motocross-width tires encouraged foot down cornering like my old mountain bike never did.  Those tires are just plain versatile and fun.  One caution I did come away with was the urge to resist riding it like a regular mountain bike.  With those big tires, and wide, flat pedals, one need not be afraid to lean the sucker over and get a foot out, enduro-style.

In addition to rolling smoothly over every piece of terrain, the rest of the Farley’s package was equally impressive.  First, the phenomenal Avid hydraulic disc’s, at least to this Roadie, were the best brakes I have ever used on a bicycle.  Why some peeps are afraid of disc brakes on road bikes is beyond me, and those people are going to be missing out.  If this level of power and modulation are what’s in store for road bikes, we are all in for a real treat, not to mention a level of safety yet seen on road bicycles. 

The SRAM X7 shifters delivered, along with a SRAM X0 front derailleur and an X9 rear derailleur.  The stock seat was fully adequate for the job at hand (not that you are going to spend much time on it), plus the seatpost is a quick-release, height adjust contraption, so setting the right height for a ride will not be an issue.

And for the record, Fat Tired bikes are an activity I plan to try a lot more than twice.   

For complete Farley specs, clicky here for Trek’s website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When Racing Bicycle Meets Racing Motorcycle.

Concept racing bicycle

50cc Kreidler roadracing motorcycle, circa 1980.
KTM 125cc roadracing bike, circa 2012.

Can't recall where we came across the above concept bicycle photo, but we like it.  There are some interesting ideas at work here, however, the creeps at the UCI would have a mental breakdown just looking at the photo, alone.

The actual ergonomics of efficient pedaling may not be realized, then again, with no human in the photo to ascertain the bar, seat, pedal relationship, we will just have to speculate. 

The bicycle sure looks cool, though, and it looks pretty darn aero, too.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Glendora Mountain Road: Sometimes, You Just Gotta’ Climb The Hill.

I don’t know what has gotten into me lately.  After a few years of semi-serious road bike riding, I have become somewhat addicted to hills (it can’t be the coffee, however, I am not sure about the water).  What this has led to is a semi-serious love affair with Glendora Mountain Road (GMR).  Take a recent “Encounter,” for example. 

I actually arose pretty early (by my standards), and moseyed on-over to the intersection of Sierra Madre Boulevard and Glendora Mountain Road (GMR), focused on a solo day’s ride up the ribbon of switchbacks.  Though riding solo, no worries, as I knew where the road went (a quick note on rising early that morning; Since I could not sleep the previous night, for some reason, I was truly not feeling my best as I began to assault the hill.  However, grinding out a sustained climb has a way of activating the body’s natural rhythm, and I just kept pedaling and forgot how icky I had felt when I stated the climb).  There were actually quite a few cyclists on the hill, and thankfully, not too much vehicle traffic.  In addition to all of the roadies, there was some kind of shuttle taking fat tire riders (mountain bikes) up the hill, where they were let off just passed the road maintenance shack.  It looked like they were taking the fire trails back down the hill.  I also saw a few downhill skateboarders and one street luger (and I thought I was crazy when I raced motorcycles back in the day).

Up, up that ribbon of highway…

As I was grinding out yet another switchback, I came upon two people I recognized at a turnout.  From there, the three of us dragged each other up the hill, sharing stories and jokes along the way.  I was also quite impressed with one of the riders, named Manfred.  For a newer rider, he simply does not quit.  He just kept going and going up that hill.  After our stroll to the top, and a quick pause for drinks and photos, the really fun part began – The decent.  Nothing will put a smile on your face like bombing a really good stretch of downhill.  I made full use of it.  Once at the bottom, we parted ways, and I made for the sanctity of my own kitchen for a well-deserved post ride meal.   

In all, three things got me up the hill that day.  The Good Lord Himself, remembering Trek Factory Racing’s rider Jens Voigt’s famous words of “Shut up legs,” and a friend sharing his advice of counting to 100 repeatedly until the top of the hill is reached, so as to distract the mind while climbing.  It works out pretty good, too.  When the road heads upward, start counting until you get to 100 or the top of the hill, whichever comes first.  If you are not there yet, start counting over again until you get to the top.  I must have counted to 10,000 in total, that particular day.

To sum it all up, it was a good day to ride, a good day to climb, and the surprise company made for a very good time, indeed.

Editor’s Note:

Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) is a two-lane, well paved, multi-switchback road in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California.  It is about 8.5-miles to the top, with a published grade of 4 to 7%, with approximately 2200-feet of climbing.  It is a hotbed of activity for motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists, skateboarders and street lugers.  It has even been used in the Amgen Tour of California a few times.