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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shimano PRO “550ML” Storage Bottle. The Alternative To Seat Bags And Jersey Pockets For All Your Stuff.

For any cyclist short of having their own, personal support vehicle on their rides, the storage of essential items becomes a must.  From spare tubes, to tools, nutrition, ID, money, and keys, we all need to have certain items with us on all of our rides.  Usually the first option people turn to for storage, after jersey pockets, are underseat bags.  And, why not?  They are useful, practical, pretty much indestructible, and are out of the way until absolutely needed.  However, there is another way.  Enter the Shimano PRO Storage Bottle. 

Storage bottles offer another practical way to hold the items required, and they fit in a space which is quite sensible – A bottle cage.  Why the bottle cage location?  Truth be told, most of our rides are not long enough to require two (2), large water bottles every time we go on a ride.  I can see a well stocked underseat bag on a Century, but on the bulk of the rides we cyclists do, two, large water bottles can be weighty overkill.  The storage bottle offers a nice, cleaner looking alternative to a big, seat bag, and truth be told, once you use a bottle to carry your stuff, you will wonder why you did not do it sooner. 

Innocuous storage - Most of the time we don't need two bottles.

And, you can cram a lot of stuff into these bottles, too.

The Specs:

  • A multi-function storage system
  • Currently available only in 500ML size (that may change)
  • Secure screw-on cap
  • Fits 74mm diameter bottle cages
  • Offered in either black or white

Editor’s Note:

Shimano advertises the bottle on their website in two sizes, both 550 and 750ML.  However, though the larger version has been in their catalog for a couple of years, it is, unfortunately, not available.  And, the smaller version is actually labeled on the packaging as being “500cc.”

Saturday, August 9, 2014

It's Here! Ritchey Superlogic Carbon C260 Stem In Limited Edition Hi-Vis Yellow.

Well, it was just the other day that a very credible rumor floated into the Cycling Dynamics palatial offices that Ritchey was going to do a limited edition, full carbon C260 stem in Hi-Vis Yellow.  This was exciting for a couple of reasons.  First, the Superlogic's are the first, full-carbon stems from Ritchey, and second, this was to be a completely new color they have not done before.  Cool. 

Well, it is a rumor no more, as I actually had the chance to inspect (unfortunately, not try) one of the new, very rare stems over at my sponsor's office, Tweaked Sports, of Glendora, California.  The brothers Brian and Patrick were kind enough to call me up and invite me to come and see one of the first new stems released by Ritchey.

After forcing my way in the door, the first things I noticed upon viewing this beauty (after the striking color, of course), was just how stout, and light, the stem truly is.  I have tried pretty much every Ritchey stem there is, and I really like their offerings a lot, but I have yet to try one of the Superlogic units (after seeing the Hi-Vis version, I hope to recityfy that problem - Hear that, Tweaked Sports!)  It is extrely light, the paint, finish, and carbon weave in the stem body were all first rate.  The thing I did notice which really caught my attention, though, was the seven (7) bolts now required to mount the unit, and they are now Torx heads, not the usual hex heads.

Out of the box, this 90mm version is truly a work of art.

The curves on the slot allow for more even clamping forces, and reduced stress on the steer tube.  There are three Torx head screws to ensure a good fit.

Well, from what I could ascertain, the stem looks to be a damn good offering from the minds at Ritchey.  I hope to get my hands on a test unit soon, and I'll let you know how they work out.  I truly expect this to be the stiffest stems I gave ever tried, and I have tried a lot of them from different manufacturers.

The Specs:

  • C260 bar clamp creates a larger stem-to-bar interface, drastically reducing bolt stress
  • 4 x T-20 faceplate bolts and patented 260 degree bar clamp design reduces weight, increases stiffness and distributes stress more evenly
  • 3 x T-20 steer tube bolts and curved clamp slot reduces weight and steer tube stress
  • Fits most road and mountain bars
  • Material: Carbon with 2014 alloy faceplate
  • Lengths: 90 - 130mm
  • Angle: 84/6 degree
  • Steerer Height: 42mm
  • Faceplate width: 40mm
  • Steerer: 1-1/8" or 1-1/4" (International only)
  • Limited edition yellow finish
  • 125g (110mm)

Retail from Ritchey is $279.95 USD

Tweaked Sports can get 'em to you for $254.95 USD 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cat’s First Time.

I had been bugging her to do it with me for over two-years.  And, everytime I asked, all I got were excuses why she would simply not do it with me.  “I’m not ready.”  “I’m too tired.”  “It’s too hard, and looks too big.”  “I’d like to, but it looks scary.”  And, “I don’t have time.”  After enduring brush-off, after brush-off, why couldn’t she just cooperate, I thought?  It would just be far easier to give in to my wishes, and fighting back just prolonged the inevitable, anyway.  I mean, deep down, she knew we were both going to do it someday. 

So, I kept at her.  And, I kept at her, knowing one day I would get what I wanted, and that afterwards, she would thank me, wondering why we did not do it sooner.  “We could even make it our own, little secret,” I said.  No one had to know if it made her feel better about the whole thing. 

Then, finally, one day, I thought to ask an additional time.  And, she actually said…, yes.  I couldn’t believe it!  I had finally worn her down, and she caved in to my strong suggestions (“Demand” is just too harsh a word) actually agreeing, at long last, to just do it with me.  About dang time, girl!  “You won’t regret it, and I am going to show you one heck of a good time,” I exclaimed with a big ‘ol grin on my face.  So, setting up a date and a time, we finally got together, and we actually did it. 

And, you know what? It was as much fun as I always thought it would be, in fact, even more so.  Catrina (Cat) was finally broken in, and forever the way she saw herself was changed.  She would be a new woman, having done something she had never done before: 

She and I climbed Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) together.

However, she and I did not do it alone.  With the help of a couple of friends of mine, the husband and wife team of Mike and Carla (M&C), we all got together to, “Do it,” aka, ride the Hill.  We met at M&C’s house near the base of GMR for an early evening ride up the famed twists and switchbacks.  But first, a little back story on the event’s cast of characters.  

I have been riding with Cat for over three-years now, and she has become quite an exceptional cyclist.  In addition to riding, she also runs, swims, and hikes, yet the only things she had not done was a serious, prolonged, mountain climb on a road bike.  I always knew she could do GMR.  The problem was convincing HER that she could do GMR.  Thus, with the help of the aforementioned friends, M&C, we agreed to pace Cat up the hill for her “First Time.” 

Cat, after "Doing It." One, happy Climber.

As for the dynamic duo of M&C, well, they are on a whole other level from most recreational, non-professional riders I know.  For their age group (north of forty), they are two of the most physically fit people I have ever seen.  And as for their cycling proclivities, in addition to road cycling, they are also big mountain bike people and hikers, too.  Everytime I ride with them, they both drop me like a bad habit.  And the worst, sickest part of these two is that they both ride with FLAT pedals!  There are no clips or clipless pedals to be found on their road bikes.  The day these two move up to clipless pedals and cleats, they will destroy us all. 

The dynamic duo of Mike and Carla.

Meanwhile, back to the ride…

Beginning the ride at 5:15 PM, the weather was warm, but not too bad, and the air was pretty clear by San Gabriel Valley Basin standards.  M&C said they would go easy on both Catrina and I, however, it turned out they would all be going easy on ME, as all three of them soon dropped me like a losing lottery ticket.  Up, up we went, and with every switchback, I could see I was a little bit farther from the trio.  So, I just settled into a rhythm, with a steady cadence, simply enjoying the scenery, while keeping my brain busy with various cerebral exercises to distract it from my burning legs.  I also kept my mind occupied by remembering one of GMR’s greatest assets (other than the view): Its wonderful descent (it’s one of the axioms of going up – You must also come down.  Thank you, Mr. Gravity!).

When we finally arrived at the top, we stopped, took stock of the moment, drank some fluids, shot some photos, chatted a bit, and all eyes, and amazement, soon turned to the mountain goat we discovered.  Cat climbed like a Pro, kept up with both M&C, and had me wheezing to keep up.  And remember, this was the woman whom had resisted any, and all, of my attempts to get her to go up there in the first place.  Yes, she took to the climb like a proverbial fish to water, and it was as I had been telling her all of those years: You will thank me for it, and wonder why you did not do with me sooner (hah, I was right!).  We then bombed down the hill, and as exceptional a descender as I am (true), I could barely catch Mike on the way down.  I live for a good descent, and GMR delivers. 

At the bottom, and after we parted ways with M&C, whilst Cat and I were having dinner, she inquired if it was as good for me as it was for her.  The smile on my face told her my thoughts.  And, we agreed to do it again soon and as often as possible in the future. 

‘Cause, as everyone knows, the more you do it, the better you get, right?

I also insisted she share with her husband exactly what we had done together.  In fact, I told her to rub his nose in it, and get him to “Do It” with her, too.

* Editor’s note:

Climbing GMR in the late afternoon on a weekday: There were a lot of friendly cyclists on the hill at that time, and motor vehicle traffic was about non-existent.  It was really quite a refreshing time to go up there, as I have done the ride on weekends when it is a complete, and total, zoo.  If one really wants to do GMR, and really enjoy the experience, I recommend riding it on a weekday (the same goes for Highway 39, Azusa Canyon).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

After Some Credible Rumors, Ritchey "Hi-Visibility" Yellow, Superlogic Carbon C260 Stem Finally Spotted.

From our Eyes & Ears in the cycling industry came the news of a soon-to-be-seen Ritchey Superlogic stem in a color other than black, white, or red: High visibility yellow!

Well, here it is.

Slated for a Summer 2014 release, there was no current information on an actual release date, price, or if it will be a limited, or regular, production item.

Ritchey Logic Werbsite