Spokane street, heading to West Seattle
Monkey light lit up Spokane Street, under the West Seattle Bridge. Hadn’t notice the scene pop like that before and ridden there hundreds of times…got the shot with the Sony A7R.
We’re off today and hope you’re enjoying the holiday as well. Get a good ride in.
Hutchison Mamba being stretched
Spent a rainy, holiday weekend morning stretching tubulars. It was like wax on and wax off. First the stretched Hutch tire was moved to a new set of ENVEs we’re demoing, and another tire put on the stretching rim. It’s these routines, that lead to September, when kids go back to school, road season ends, and CX begins.
It’s a return to what we know, which is a return to things we have grown to love and trust.
Mamba on an ENVE rim
Like the barrier drills practiced in a school yard, stretching a tubular is a return to a structure that gives room to practice, and learn and grow.
Back to bike school is the theme of Issue 16 of our magazine and we’re working on that now.
Getting glued next
Pivot this bike in the trees
I had only a few short rides on the Vault before Pivot needed it back for their demo fleet. During those rides, what I noticed was a bike that would do most anything, and go anywhere. Glance down at the tubes and they look overbuilt, thick. The frame is designed for stiffness and durability. The spec didn’t bring out the best in the bike. It was like going to a gourmet burger joint and on the table is Heinz ketchup and mustard when you’re expecting a chipotle aioli. Pivot is smart though, they built the Vault up practically, and at a reasonable $3,599 MSRP. I’d liven up the ride by swapping out parts from the stock FSA kit with Stan’s wheels. Put those on the “B” bike.
What attracted me to Pivot, a MTB brand, for CX is the work they’ve done with MTBs. If you’ve been following my return to the mountain, I’ve been on many high-end bikes, including their all-new Mach 4. I rode the Mach 4 at PressCamp 14, and noted the details.
Ready for Di2
The frame design anticipated Di2 with thoughtful cable routing, and battery insert. You’ll find the same thoughtfulness on the Vault, as seen here with the in-stay brake placement.
Spec’d with TRPs
To the TRPs, they’re much better than mechanicals, and have never been recalled! If I had more time with the Vault, I’m sure I’d discover the nuances in handling. What it does bombing down a gravel hill, or dropping into a mud pit, and out the other side.
For now, it’s a recommend bike, and really one that’s distinctive, like all of Pivot’s dirt bikes. I was sad to see it go so soon.
Pacing and wondering how Mark V was doing at Reba’s ride, my phone buzzed just with these texts…
Apparently some Di2 shifters are temperature sensitive, or at least my front derailer won’t shift in anything over 60deg.
It was fuck all cold, 39deg this morning
Fuck broken cleats and electronic shifting, ol’ Gunsmoke here don’t need carbon fiber neither.
As I learned, you quickly find an Idaho you didn’t know on forest service roads. For me it was a smokey-haze, that had me running like my motor was plate restricted. For Mark, cleats and Di2 failed, and his ride ended early.
This after he got his required Chinese food!
Mark V Chinaloads before a race
Now he’s recuperating somewhere with a story to follow…
Ours is a click-based economy, that values the comment and traffic, no matter the content or context. I asked and they responded and hoping other media does too. I was told once by a journalist that there’s not enough staff to moderate, so hey turn the comments off on topics like this…
That active thread isn’t going to save an old-media business model.August 29, 2014
This time is for family, friends, and colleagues to grieve over the loss of life on a Seattle street that seemed built by Seattle’s traffic-engineering experiment committee. It ran a bike lane where cars turn left onto i5.
When advocates and lobbyists tell us, “bikes are transportation,” I encourage you like me to ask them to put money where their mouths are, and build infrastructure that’ll better protect vulnerable users.
For more discussion about 2nd avenue, follow SeaBikeBlog and be careful out there. Seattle isn’t the ‘bike town,’ politicians say it is.
Idaho-type gravelAugust 29, 2014
And if you read Mark’s last gravel report from Issue 13, if you doesn’t find proper Chinese food, it’s gonna be a long day. Before accepting the challenge to ride in an Idaho you don’t know, we checked!
I have this thing for eating Chinese food the night before big cycling events. Not crap Chinese food that you find at Panda Express-wannabees in mall food courts, but also not totally authentic Chinese either. I know both well, having been a mall rat until I left small town Florida for school and having traveled Asia extensively as an adult. What in America typically passes as Chinese is just so much deep-fried chicken nuggets in disgusting sweet n’ sour sauce, while true Chinese cuisine never has the right balance of meat and vegetables unless you order enough items to fill a banquet table. I just want some tender beef or chicken in brown sauce over a bunch of stir-fried veggies and a side of steamed rice.
Mark will be out of cell range for most of Reba’s ride and I’ll be wondering how he did, if anyone saw him on the climb…
2015 could be the Year of the Helmet.
In the past two decades since in-mould hardshell construction has become commonplace in helmets like the Giro Hammerhead, the only other design feature to have a comparable influence on helmet construction has been the RocLoc strap, an auxiliary support that snugs under the wearer’s occipital bone. The RocLoc, largely copied by all the major brands, greatly increased the range of head sizes and shapes that could be adequately worn by a single helmet mould. But on a high-end helmet costing more than $200, a fit that is just adequate isn’t enough. It’s not a problem that can be solved by adding more sizes of moulds, because the shape of each mould must be based on an assumption of what a normal head shape is. If you’ve ever tried on a bunch of helmet brands, you’ve doubtlessly noticed that the various brands each have a slightly different idea what the average cranium is shaped like, and obviously not all riders would be represented by a normalized shape.
The solution is to manufacture the helmet precisely for each individual rider. A rider would be precisely fitted for a helmet within seconds with laser precision, and that information stored in a digital format that is later used to accurately modify a foam helmet liner during the manufacturing process to fit a rider’s head (imagine something akin to CNC machining). This would avoid the cost of additional moulds, but since the fitting would be stored as digital information, it could be easily reproduced if a rider should need to replace the helmet in the future. It could even be applied to different types of helmets (think maybe full-face downhill and aero-road helmet).
From a manufacturing and marketing viewpoint, this would have been impossible twenty years ago, but this is already happening now…in motorsports division of Bell helmets. By the end of 2015, Bell and/or its sister company Giro will be offering this for their high-end road helmets.
Too Long; Didn’t Ride or Too Short Didn’t, Ride
I was explaining micropublishing to writer and colleague David Quigg and finally said, “Here, TL;DR,” with this blockquote
Oh, right, our role: we are carving out a new, deeper niche for Bike Hugger. Our goal is to serve the under-served audience, one that seeks higher quality information and wants to be free of advertiser and retail bias. We write about what we ride, wear, and like. And we expect you to pay for the service.
from a Medium post I wrote about our magazine. Being the very literal person he is, got this reply and drawing…
TL;DR made me think of “Too Long; Didn’t Ride™,” which could either be the basis for A) an app featuring short but great crowd-sourced cycling routes for busy people or B) a T-shirt for long-distance cyclists (see attached terrible sketch).
That terrible sketch may lead to a new startup!
The BMW i3 is at the USA Pro Challenge this week and that’s the 1st time an EV has been in a bike race caravan and allowed in a UCI Race. Here’s the Edmunds video review of the electric Bimmer and I’m working on more details of this story.
Also sure the racers appreciate not breathing smog from a tailpipe….August 23, 2014
And so with a year-long project having just wrapped, I left work for a few weeks. But rather than hiking the hills Wainwright so loved, I decided to reacquaint myself with one of my own great passions: my bicycle. The following is a journal I kept during that time.
MoSo IB 13
The 9th annual Mobile Social Interbike meets on Thursday 9/11 an hour after the show floor closes. Once assembled (about 6:30 PM) we’ll ride the Strip to The Downtown Cocktail Room and The Beat Coffeehouse for beers, drinks, and lots of fun. Joining us this year @newbelgium, @ternbicycles, @Knog, @PureFixCycles, @revolights, @greengurugear, and you!Fun Map
This year, around the block from the cocktails and coffee, is Las Vegas Pedalpalooza and the Crit.
It’s gonna be one of those stays in Vegas nights on bikes… We’ll ride, party, and then party some more.Details
Note that this is a long MoSo, so we’ll get broken up by the lights. Don’t try to regroup, just ride on and meet at the party. We’ll see you when we all get there and will keep the beer cold.
As usual, the first 250 to RSVP get the schwag and drink coins. The details:
- Registration at 6:00 PM in the Mandalay Bay Parking Lot. Exact location TBA.
- Ride departs at 6:30 PM
- Ride ends at The Beat Coffeehouse & Downtown Cocktail Room Map
- New Belgium Drink Specials from 7-10 PM.
- Free drink coins and schwag for the first 250 registered riders.
- RSVP on Facebook or G+
For those new to the ride, this is a casual, social ride. We obey the lights, stick to one lane, and act like goodwill ambassadors during Interbike. Play nice with the cabbies and the rest of the drivers on the Strip think it’s all part of the Vegas experience.
See you there.
And here’s a edit from 2013.
Last month I entered the High Cascades 100 mile mountainbike race, in Bend OR. I don’t frequently race more than two hours, and as my participation in the Gran Fondo Leavenworth so thoroughly demonstrated, I am prone to bad cramping in such long, hot competitions. It’s not really the heat so much as I just don’t think about drinking as soon and as often as I should. If I had suffered heinously in the gran fondo, I would be doubly vulnerable in the actual mountainbike race, due to the longer duration, the more intense climbing, the technical nature of singletrack, and the simple fact that my Giant XTC only has one water bottle cage. Even if I chose the high capacity Zefal Magum bottle (1ltr/33oz), that might not be enough to get me to the next aid station. It was clear in my mind that I would need some sort of hydration pack. And there’s the rub: I don’t really like hydration packs.
Sure, you can get a pack that holds several liters of fluids, but who wants to carry all that weight for twelve-plus-hours of hard riding? To make matters worse, most hydration packs for cycling seem to be heavily biased towards some sort of off-road touring or adventure riding; the packs are rather overbuilt with too many pockets and other features. What I would want is a very minimal pack for racing. It wouldn’t need truly enormous water capacity because there would be five or sixth aid stations on the course, but the reservoir should be easy to refill. And it would have to fit on me securely, so as not to hinder my freedom of movement on technical sections. I looked about for the right pack, but it wasn’t until I was surfing the Osprey webpage that I found something that met my requirements for mountainbike racing, even though it’s marketed towards trail runners.
The slim Rev1.5 pack (size S/M) weighs about a pound with the included hydration bladder and holds just 1 liter of water. The shoulder straps have some convenient but small mesh pockets that can fit gel sachets/flasks or energy bars, but the only other storage is a small zippered pocket atop the bladder compartment. Thin straps and elastic, mesh “webbing” hold the pack tight to your body along the sides of your chest, while two elasticized straps stretch across your chest. Once adjusted, the weight of the pack and water sits high, level with your shoulder blades. It moves with your body yet stays in place, and in hot conditions it doesn’t feel like it’s trapping heat and sweat all across your back.
Osprey really puts a lot of thought into their hydration system. The reservoir/bladder has a quick release coupling on the hose so you can gank out the reservoir to refill, while leaving the hose separate and still in positioned on the pack. And the coupling is valved so the bladder won’t leak while detached. A wide mouth, screw-on cap allows easy and quick refills; ice cubes can readily pass through the mouth of the reservoir too. The 90-deg bite valve incorporates a high-power magnet to keep the hose positioned on buckle to one of the chest straps when you’re not drinking. While riding, you can conveniently rehydrate even in the middle of singletrack riding.
One other feature is a removable, drop-down DigiFlipâ¢ media pocket that “provides secure storage and quck access to all manner of touch screen mobile devices”. In practice, the DigiFlip did not give useful access to my iPhone while riding, partly because it holds the screen too close to your chest, so your eyes not on the trail ahead. And I couldn’t reliably re-secure the DigiFlip’s snap buckle with gloved fingers while riding one-handed. Still, with the DigiFlip holding the mobile on the left chest strap, access was certainly better than if the mobile was in a jersey pocket.
During the race, the Rev1.5 proved to be a competent choice. My strategy was to add Nuun tablets to the hydration pack (or fill it with sports drink) and keep plain water in the Zefal bottle so that I had the option of pouring water from the bottle to cool off, clean my sunglasses, etc. The accessibility of fluids made staying hydrated, even during difficult climbs or singletrack. This was literally the first mountainbike race I had entered in 15 years, and I’m not gonna pretend that my singletrack skills are so good that I can negotiate rocky descents with one hand on the bar and another holding a water bottle. Having the hydration pack simply gave more opportunities to drink. Being able to pull the whole reservoir out of the bag was a nice option, since it’s easier that way to fill it completely while also avoiding drenching the pack itself unnecessarily. And even after nearly 13 hours of riding, the Rev1.5 never felt burdensome, nor hot on my back. That magnetic retention for the bite valve is simply genius.
I had the S/M size Rev1.5. The M/L size has the same reservoir, but the straps and support structure are made to fit bigger riders. For my physical stature, the S/M was the obvious choice. It’s still small enough that my jersey’s back pockets could be accessed. I only fully drained my reservoir once, in the brutal 4,000’ of climbing between the aid stations at Mile 50 and Mile 70. Finally, the “flash green” colourway matches the current Bike Hugger kit well, but after all the dust from the race, it looked right dingy. Surprisingly, it machine-washed well, and in fact all of the photos of me wearing the Rev1.5 are after I cleaned it.
The $70 Rev1.5 performed well in my 100 mile mtb race, but if I had been riding in some sort adventure that did not have aid stations every 15-25 miles, I would have needed a pack with more fluid capacity. And if it had been a gravel grinder without real singletrack riding rather than an mtb race, I probably would have preferred to not wear a pack on my back at all. Of course, my CX/gravel bikes have room for a second bottle cage, so I would probably not need to augment water capacity with a pack anyways. Still, if “Rebecca’s Private Idaho” 100mile gravel grinder is especially hot later this month, I might use the Rev1.5 because it makes drinking so convenient that I’m more likely to stay hydrated on such a long event.
It was rainy and cold during Stage 2
This time of year, our attention turns to Cross, but hey there’s still road racing like the USA Pro Challenge. On twitter, Follow @eFirstBank for live daily coverage of the USA Pro Challenge. Guests commentators will include: @JasenThorpe, @mmmaiko, @LennardZinn, @303Cycling, @SaraiSnyder, @Gavia, and @DirkFriel. Expect to have a good time, and to get more in-depth, interactive coverage than is possible from broadcast media alone.
If you’re a decent person, win stuff: In light of some of the less-than-fantastic fan/rider interactions at some races this year, USA Pro Challenge partner, @eFirstBank on Twitter has launched a contest to encourage fans to watch the race in a fun, but responsible and respectful way. Skip the selfie, leave the dog at home, don’t impede the racers… do have a really good time. Simple enough, right?
Here are the details and on Stage One a moto careened off fans into racers and back.
Riding the Truth in Seattle
We’ve been riding in the mountains and on mountain bikes lately, much more than usual. The demo bikes we have in include the Ellsworth Truth. It’s been on the cross-country scene for close two decades and has gained a cult like following amongst privateers for its active suspension a durable alloy frame. Ellsworth has now taken the Truth and evolved it into the Absolute Truth with addition of 27.5 wheels and a carbon frame.
The heart of the Ellsworth Absolute Truth remains its suspension system. To keep tires in the soil, it employs Ellsworth’s Instant Center Tracking (ICT) suspension system. Ellsworth states that the four-bar linkage design provides zero-energy loss to suspension action. By aligning the instant center on the chain torque line and continually tracking the chain torque throughout the range of travel, the suspension remains active, without pedal induced action.
Breaking with the carbon theme of the frame, a key part of the ICT system is the CNC machined asymmetrical chain stays. The chain stays are box sections joined at the lower pivot by a machined yoke, while the rear pivot sits directly in front of the rear dropouts and connect with the seat stays. The seat stays are carbon to help reduce rear wheel flex and assure alignment of the suspension pivots. The 125 mm of rear wheel travel is handled by a FOX CTD shock with remote lever. Up front Ellsworth has equipped the Truth with a FOX 27.5 CTD 32 Float that produces 130 mm travel.
Around the bend and up a climb
Despite its 125 mm of travel, the Absolute Truth is intended for racing and features a low and aggressive rider position. The suspension is more active than other race machines, especially in its initial travel. This is hardly noticeable while in the saddle, but hard efforts are met with bit of a soft feel at the pedals. Switching the FOX CTD shock to the Climb is the only setting that really eliminated the initial softness.
Making good time uphill on the Absolute Truth is determined by the CTD shock setting. For everything other than the most technical terrain, place the CTD in Climb and leave it. In technical uphill sections the trail mode can be used. It results in a slightly softer feel, but also dramatically increases traction and reduces wheel spin. On fast single-track descents, the Absolute Truth is predicable and fast with the active suspension keeping the wheels firmly attached to the ground over small obstacles. Big hits are absorbed well with just a bit of ramp up at the end of the stroke. The overall feel of the Absolute Truth is super plush. The plush suspension also aids in cornering, with the wheels constantly in contact with the ground.
Each year around Interbike season, King Cycle Group has been releasing limited edition versions of their product in anodized colours outside of their current eight (plus silver). Last year it was turquoise, and I think before that it was purple. Now, maybe millennials don’t know this, but purple and turquoise anodized parts were virtually mandatory on mountainbikes twenty years ago. Back then, those colours were two of the regular options at Chris King. When King replaced them with colours like brown, it was like formal recognition that the 1990s were over. Bringing back wild turq and purp was like a Jane’s Addiction reunion tour.
So okay, that was cool. Now what colour could bring on stage this year? Well, I saw this coming last year. The only colour they haven’t already done is Sour Apple. It wasn’t THE most popular choice, but I always liked it. I remember seeing it on bikes in the mid to late ’90s, but I don’t remember when it was phased out. All I know is that I HAVE to have it. I want to combine it with some pink anodized King parts I already have. Pink and Sour Apple…wow, that would be a combo.
Available in a wide array of the most popular Chris King products:
NoThreadSets, InSets, ISOs, R45s, BMX, Wheels, ThreadFits, Press Fits, Coffee Tampers and Accessories
Place orders between September 1st, 2014 and May 1st, 2015. Shipping begins October 1st, 2014.
For complete details call 800-523-6008 or contact your local dealer
Catching up to Mr. Himes
A vignette I wrote about a bike path encounter with Mr. Himes was published on Element.ly this morning. That’s where a group of like-minded people who love bikes and being outside are telling stories, like the one I wrote.
Barely legible decal
When researching the story about crossing a 30-year gap in bikes, I shared a zoomed-in, cropped photo of the down tube to determine what the bike was from a barely legible decal. Shared the photo on Facebook and Patrick Brady spotted the Expedition immediately. Getting all Captain Nerdlick about it, he replied
The Specialized Expedition was arguably the best production touring bike there ever was. I’ll add that it had a super-long wheelbase, something like 112cm. Super stable. I could sit up at 40 mph in the Rockies, open my handlebar bag and eat lunch while rolling. That bike was made by someone who knew touring. Tim Neenan was responsible for the geometry. He’s in Los Olivos, Calif., these days. He’s a chef and builds under the name Lighthouse. Owen Mulholland has one.
Read the rest of the story on Element.ly and perhaps you’ll meet Mr. Himes or a cyclist like him, on a ride too….
The bike I was riding, was this one, a Crux with CX-1.
A Crux with CX-1, Zipps, and Sammy Slicks