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.    

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Long Is Three Minutes? To A Motorist, It Is An Eternity. To A Cyclist, It Can Be The Difference Between A Prosperous Life Or Bodily Harm.

Some motorists hate us.  They always will.  Then again, these same motorists hate all other motorists, too.  And, I strongly suspect these people secretly hate themselves, as well.  See, though there are enough on-line and print articles on the subject of “Not all motorists are jerks," remember this one, sobering fact: While it is indeed true not all motorists are out to “Get us,” it only takes one motor vehicle to change your life forever (and, not in a good way).

So, there I was… 

Out on one of my regular training rides, braving the Mean-Streets-of-Death, time, nor its conservation, was the focus of the moment.  I was simply enjoying the freedom of being on my bicycle, taking in all of the benefits of the outdoors and physical exercise.  That’s when my personal survival instinct kicked in, and I immediately pulled out of the bike lane I was in, pulled over to the curb, and I parked.

And, I waited.  And, I waited.  And, I waited some more.  The cars and trucks just kept on coming, without a break.  And, don’t think for a second anyone had “I need to give that cyclist three-feet for their safety,” on their minds, either.  In total, it took three minutes and change before I could safely merge left and take my chance at the signal.  

Why did this happen?  Well, there is this one section of Covina Boulevard, in the City of San Dimas, where you are truly at the mercy of the dumbest motorist-du jour.  It begins innocently enough with a wide, smooth, well marked, though street-sweeper challenged, section of bike lane (the City of San Dimas, and Covina, both seem quite unconcerned with regular street-sweeping service).  However, as you near the 57 Freeway heading eastbound on Covina Boulevard, one is faced with a choice, as the bike lane comes to an abrupt halt, and a “Right-Turn Only” lane begins, thus placing cyclists in a very dangerous position: Stay the course, and get a guaranteed ramming from the motorists coming up from behind you at 45 MPH-plus, all in a rush to make a right turn onto the 57 Southbound ramp, or merge left into the path of the same high-speed traffic and attempt to make it to the number two lane of eastbound Covina Boulevard to avoid getting on the freeway.

It is a dicey proposition at best, and a very deadly one at its worst.  

Two photos of the same location.  In the top photo, notice the light is green for me, however, I dared not assert my right-of-way and merge out of the right-turn-only lane at that time.  In the lower photo, see what was bearing down on me at very high speed.  The smart money was on waiting until all of these vehicles had passed until merging into Covina Boulevard's number two lane to continue straight, without having to merge onto the freeway.  It took over three minutes.

And, that is the whole point of the whole story.  I have heard from far too many motorist about having “…Been delayed by one of those darn cyclists…,” and truth be told, is it really an injustice to a motorist if they have to slow down to safely coexist on the road?  Of course it is not.  It is just selfishness by some being projected onto everyone else.  “I would have been there by now if it weren’t for this damn traffic.”  You can add cyclists into that mix of “Symptoms” of why traffic simply will not part like the Red Sera for some motorists. 

However, all is not lost.

Another example was laid bare last week on another one of my regular training rides.  There was a small, out the saddle, pitch on a particular section of the of a narrow, windy, two-lane road.  The young lady behind me was very patient, and when the road widened, she safely passed to my left.  No problems, no hassles, and between us, complete teamwork.  Her forward progress was interrupted for no more than ten-seconds.  Compare that with my being STOPPED for THREE MINUTES, and I think it is clear who is truly being inconvenienced out on the road.  However, right or wrong, one would be foolish to argue with a bumper.

Expect to be inconvenienced.