Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Alternative Energy: Man Power

Contain your inner "racer boy" and focus on getting one of your old, curmudgeonly compatriots on the path to energy independence this year. Kill your TV, drink with your friends, play with floppy-eared dogs, and be the change that you envision.

Frozen Digits and warm BM's

I have pretty poor circulation especially in my hands, but I have tried not to let this infringe on my winter miles. Typically a good set of windproof softshell gloves are great for temps down to 30 degrees, but for temps down to 10 degrees F I have used Pearl Izumi Lobster claw gloves. The big problem with thick gloves is reduced dexterity and the fact that once you start sweating you are gonna soak your gloves.

Wet gloves = cold hands

Jay Buthman of Amoeba R&D laid out a pretty cool idea last year (scroll down its a long post) that got me to thinking.

Pogies. Numerous people make their own versions of flat bar pogies, and they all work pretty well. These have a lot of advantages over gloves, you can wear no gloves or just liner gloves, if its Super Cold (less than 10 degrees F) you can toss hand warmers into the pogies, and also store your cell phone, gel, or Clif bars to keep them from freezing. Snow bike wacko’s like DG swear by these things

Enter Bar Mitts (BM) for Drop Bars: being warm never looked so dumb. I don’t have heaps of style working for me to start with, but these things are incredibly dumb looking. I was going to buy some new winter gloves last month, but seeing that Bar mitts were gonna cost as much as some really nice gloves I just went for the bar mitts. Best money I have spent this winter. I usually just wear a thin wool liner glove so that when I take my hands off the bars they don’t chill as quickly. I rode 45 miles of gravel on Saturday morning with no gloves (just BM’s) and was fine.

You can still toss chemical hand warmers and a phone down in them, and ride all day, no matter what the weather. BM’s are neoprene so they block the wind and retain quite a lot of warmth even if your hands get really sweaty. The down side is that you are relegated to riding on your hoods, and you are gonna look dumb and attract the ridicule of people like Shim. But fear not, you can feel smug knowing that they are relegated to trainer purgatory while you bask in the glory of a stiff north wind.

How Dumb will you look? On the sliding scale of bicycle style: Bar Mitts are in between the little rear view mirrors that go on your helmet and aero bars on a hybrid…..although all are well conceived, they are often poorly executed.

I liked my drop BM’s so much I actually bought a set for the mtb too. I know that Bike Rack at 140th and Maple has some in stock (both styles). Not sure who else in the Big O might carry these? Mark and Bryan at the Trek Store might have a little too much style to carry something like this (Mark would sell you a hybrid AND aero bars, but he will not be responsible for combining them).
I have NO IDEA why my formatting just went all to pot. I hate you blogger (shaking fist at sky)
FYI The snow is still too deep at L&C for riding other than going downhill.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stream of Consciousness Announcing

I have been a huge fan of how Colt and the folks from Cycling Dirt have tried to bring races and race reports to the masses by turning around highlight videos and post race interviews of racers. At first I was just kind of amused that it just sort of seemed like Colt was just doing this on a shoestring budget, then the guys got the support of Greenware to broadcast the USGP of CX in conjunction with Velonews. The broadcasts were definitely not the highest quality, but the enthusiasm of Adam and Colt made it worth watching. Today they have Mark Gullickson (from USAC) commentating in the womens race, and I can't help but cringe at the monotone and lack of vocabulary that he uses to announce. I watch the World Cup CX races in Europe that are commentated in Flemish, dutch or some other euro-centric language, but I can typically follow whatever is going on based off of HOW the commentator is speaking, not on what he is actually saying.
I can't speak Dutch, but I did take two semesters of Spanish in high school....... Bon Jour!

Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful that USAC, CyclingDirt, and Velonews got together to put this out there, but Gullickson was like listening to my high school science teacher drone on about matter. They could at least "voice over" the race announcers. I was also sad that in the womens race they only really covered KFC, but since she had a 30 second lead for most of the race it would have been nice to see some of the other battles going on behind her.
But make no mistake, I am stoked to get coverage of any type.

On the other hand, I converted my Reba from 80mm of travel to 100mm. Took like 20 minutes and 18cc of fork oil. If you want your Reba travel adjusted just let me know.......I have enough 5wt oil to do 40 forks (since its winter I am only using 5wt, not a 50/50 mix of 5wt and Red Rum) I can do the conversion with your fork on or off of the bike. No charge, but a six pack would be appreciated.
Time to freshen up my beverage and get ready for the Elite Mens race. Viva la CyclingDirt! (take that eurotrash and bitter Canadians).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Full Suspension Thoughts

So it happened again, I managed to dupe someone into letting me ride their FS bike. This time Ryan Feagan let me ride his 07 Giant Anthem that he currently has up for sale. It is a medium, and really liked the steering and reach on the bike. I had to drop his seat post about 20mm, but the suspension was perfectly set, as ryan and I are close, weight wise. General observations about the Anthem:

  • It’s a lot easier to keep your outside foot down as you really carve into the corners on a FS bike. On my Scott Scale I have a hard time really being comfortable staying seated in choppy corners, and keeping my outside foot down in the corners. Despite the fact that Scale really carves, I usually ride through all but the smoothest of corners with my pedals at the 3 and 9 o’clock position, and I feel like I have to scrub too much speed. Trying to stay seated over really bumpy sections on a stiff bike with a 34.9 mm seatpost is tough on your back (and bottom) .
  • Small bump compliance: There is much to be said for being able to stay seated and lay down the power when you are in the chatter. Ryan had the RP23 “PUSHed” last year, and it does a great job of smoothing things out with feeling like its wallowing underneath me.
  • I think that sizing has a lot to do with how comfortable you are going to be especially when you are on more “race” oriented bikes. Despite numerous tweaks I was unable to get comfortable on the Top Fuel that the Trek store let me demo earlier this year. So when I showed up at the Casa de Feagan I had my own saddle with me in attempt to really experience a bike and not be distracted by saddles that might not love my bottom.
  • I left the ProPedal on the entire time I was on the bike, and according to the occasional glance down to the “o” ring, I was using all of the travel. The Maestro suspension was far superior to the other suspension designs that I have ridden with the exception of the Epic (I am sure your bike is sick, but you never let me ride it). The suspension was firm enough that I could discern no noticeable bob when I stood up to climb, but was not so stiff as to be harsh.
  • I was also surprised how light the anthem was. There was no part of Ryans build that I would remotely refer to as “weight weeny” but the sled was still well under 25 lbs ( I have very nice singlespeeds that weigh more than that).
All in all I was really impressed with the Anthem. Definitely on my radar.

On the other side of things I also got surprised by my wife today. She bought me some new Crocs. Woah, Wait……CROCS?

Yeah, I wear crocs. I wear the crap out of some crocs. They are in my mind one of the most useful pieces of gear I have owned in the past 5 years (Ali bought me a pair when we first got married). They are great for driving, changing in parking lots, showering, loitering down by the river with John Waller, Portaging in the BWCA, they float, they are supple enough that I can slackline with them on, relatively cheap, and they weigh next to nothing. I really cant think of anything else that cost so little, that I have gotten so much use out of.

Loafin on Decker Flats 'tween Ketchum and Stanley, ID

fjording the mighty Buffalo River in AR