Sunday, February 28, 2010

Singlespeed love

Today's ride was a toss up between my Surly Pacer (geared) or my Motobecane Messenger (singlespeed). Knowing I'd be mostly on rolling hills (some I'd have to get-up-on-it), I decided to go with the Motobecane Messenger.

I've had this bike since 2007, and I have to say that it has been a super reliable, never failing, go-to bike for light-duty road work. Granted, nothing is stock on the bike anymore except for the brake calipers and seatpost clamp, but even in stock form, I'm sure it would still be fine for most folks. It's also quite the looker, and I get lot's of compliments on it from roadies.

The Messenger simply goes. You crank, and the transfer of power is very noticable. For semi-relaxed geometry, I have to say that it does a better job than my Surly. Maybe it's the gearing, maybe it's the straight chain - in any case it it's probably the fastest bike I own. I have it geared 48X16, and although it may seem tall, I can clear most hills (never had to stop or walk anything, yet). Of course, nothing is outrageously steep - the steepest I've climbed is about a 7% grade for a couple of miles. And lastly, the 4130 chromoly steel is such a wonderful ride.

Today's route was Almaden > Blossom Hill > Los Gatos > Hwy 9 > Saratoga > (stop at S'bucks) > turn around > Blossom Hill > up-and-over Camden > home.

At the S'bucks, some roadies were asking me about my bike... how it is on the singlespeed. I explained to them I really don't know why, but I seemed to ride better on my singlespeed than my geared bike. I hate sitting and spinning in a small gear. I've said it before, but I don't know if it's my body type or just what I prefer, but I hate trying to be cardio-kid on hills. I'd rather grunt up and go anaerobic.

Anyhow, I really enjoyed today's ride and think I found a nice, new weekend ride. Nothing too crazy, but just enough to be a calorie burner.

After I got home, I showered-up and about 30 mins. later, my wife was ready to take the beach cruiser out on the path with Kingston in basket. Of course, I went right for the Beater Bike for that task. It was pretty damn busy on the path, but a bell-and-a-yell works great for days like these. It was a good preview of what Spring is going to look like.

iPhone weather gods say rain after tomorrow, so I guess lifting at Douchebag Gym is my plan for this week's sweat-on.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kingston is a Fixie Hipster

Kingston and I did about 20 miles with a good climb on the fixed gear. What a spoiled little dog...

Kingston's first encounter with cows. A staring contest ensues.

Chillin' while I catch a breath after a climb.

Squeezed in with my water bottle.

He just relaxed while I did all the work going up on the fixed gear.

Stay close or he'll be hawk/coyote/bobcat/mountain lion/squirrel food

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chamois Cream - Protection for the Taint

The taint... gooch... grundle... choda... it has many names, but they all refer to the same spot: the center area right between your legs that contacts the seat on road, mountain, cross country and 'cross rides. This spot can be subject to some serious damage if you don't tend to it, leading to chafing, sores or ingrown hairs. Yuck.

The answer to this issue for most is a good pair of padded riding shorts/bibs and chamois cream applied liberally in said area. There are many options for chamois cream, some cycling specific and some home brewed. Having tried nearly all of them, the following is my opinion on what worked and what didn't.

1. Performance Bike Chamois Cream - This was the first cream I ever used. It was a little lightweight and not a far stretch from a heavy hand lotion. It will not last an entire ride due to this and you may need to reapply it on anything longer than 30 miles in the saddle. I also have a feeling that because it is lightweight, it breaks down in heat. I'd recommend this for short rides only. Another drawback from this product was the price: $12.99 for 6 fl. oz - a little pricey considering what it lacks.

2. Chamois Butt'r - Looking for something a little thicker than the Performance stuff, I picked up a bottle of this. This definitely worked much better as it was very thick and went on well. It lasted through long rides and didn't need re-application. This cream is available in small, single use packets that store easily in a jersey pocket or seat bag. The drawback, again, was the price: $15 for 8 fl. oz.

3. Udderly Smooth Udder Creme - Not a cycling specific chamois cream but raved about on the Internet from a ton of cyclists. I bought a 12 oz. can like this for about $7 at CVS Pharmacy - a much better value than the two above mentioned creams. I wasn't wow'd by this cream, but it did do the job. I never did use it on a long road ride (longer than 50 miles), so I really can't say how it would hold up in such a circumstance. The consistency was thicker than the Performance stuff and slightly thinner than the Chamois Butt'r. Some use this as a base for a home brew chamois cream mixing it with cocoa butter, vaseline, and Noxema (!). Scooping it out of the can and applying it can get messy.

4. Cocoa Butter (my current cream) - After looking at the ingredients on the expensive cycling specific creams, I noticed that they are all based with cocoa butter. I've used cocoa butter in the past for healing my tattoos and I'm familiar with the consistency - so I said "why not?". So far, so good. It is the thickest cream I've used and lasts very well. It is also the best value at $6 for a 15 oz. can. I did a 4 hour MTB ride using cocoa butter and it did not break down at all; the slick feeling off the bike kinda left a creepy feeling down there, but hey... it works

In the end, the basic run-of-the-mill drugstore stuff seemed to be the best value and works just as well, if not better, than the cycling specific creams. In addition to good quality, padded cycling shorts or bibs (I prefer bibs), chamois cream should be used to diminish the chances of chaffing and saddle sores.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rolled Big Mo' today: Delaveaga, UCSC, Wilder in Santa Cruz, Ca.

My bro and I decided to go for a MTB ride while his old school 'cross bike is undergoing transformation and his race bike is not suited for trail use: he's trying to extend the fatigue life of the scandium frame and save his expensive wheels. So... he took out his DeSalvo SS and I decided to roll the full-suspension MotoBecane Fantom Comp DS.

I have to say, hauling the FS around was slow going - and I truly realized how much faster I am on the single-speed. The downhill stuff was great, especially the rocks. But climbing the Big Mo' was just outright slow and exhausting.

Another thing I noticed was that maybe the sit-and-spin cardio class is not my strength as opposed to pure grunt and mashing of a single-speed. And it's funny, but some people fear the single-speed, but I in fact, think I'm a better and stronger rider on one gear. Either it's my BMX background or just the way my body is suited, but I can definitely feel the difference. My brother has said the same thing about himself and long distance endurance on high intensity road rides.

Maybe I will start riding the geared bike more to work on this weakness of mine.

Anyhow, it was fun all the same and my hometown was beautiful as always. Enjoy the pics!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I ride a hipster bike AND I'M PROUD OF IT!

So, the beaterbike (1985 Roadmaster 10-speed Scorcher conversion) is right where I want it. This thing is perfect for errand runs, and even better with my campus SPD pedals that my Vans Warner BMX shoes clip right into. Geared perfect for easy breezy rides at 48X18 and the risers are nice with a front brake.

I'm just waiting for a leather seat, although the WTB Speed-V that's on there right now is pretty darn comfy considering that I probably won't be wearing my padded bibs riding this bike. And to top it off, I had to add an UGLY! Pad.

As you can see, Kingston is loving it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 showcases utilitarian, functioning beater bikes (and their stories) from around the world. Junkers, bought from garage sales and thrift stores, salvaged from dumpsters and repaired with old parts from other bikes, we build these as low-theft-temptation grocery getters and commuters.

Beaterbikes have a certain magic and soul to them many high-end niche bikes may lack. Although many of us own and ride these niche bikes, it's common to have a beater bike chillin' in the stable ready for whatever job you want to assign it that day.

Beaterbikes are the mutts of the cycling world. Often put together like Frankenstein monsters, they are the marriage of new technology applied to old frames. Here, we celebrate all the lackluster crankers that serve us well.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mt. Hamilton Road Ride - SuperBowl Sunday

Francois on organized a group ride for a Mt. Hamilton ride to James Lick Observatory and I decided to go. It was definitely a beautiful ride and very different on a bicycle than on a motorcycle, and I really got to see more of the surroundings going a lot slower.

I got dropped like a sack of rocks about 1/4 up, so I sat back, stopped trying to keep up, and enjoyed the scenery. Some of those riders were trying to go for personal bests up that mountain, but for me, I wanted to chill and enjoy. According to what people are saying on the board, the ride was around 44 miles (round trip) and 5,600 ft. of climbing. I guess I could have tried harder, but I also wanted to keep my food in my stomach.

Coming back down from James Lick Observatory can only be described in two words: FA-REEZING. My face felt like it got shot with a blast of c02, and we actually had to STOP to warm up - strange. And can you believe that we were actually looking forward to the climb, just to get warm again?

My Surly Pacer held up nicely - nice and comfy and the Panaracer Pasela Touring tires felt GREAT! One thing I noticed yesterday was the spinning cadence of some people and mine. I stayed in the middle ring on the triple (39T) and my pedalling was slooooow going up, but those who had a compact with a 34T spun up nicely. When I went to the small ring (30T) it was TOO spinny and not very efficient (just as slow as the low cadence). Right in the middle of 39T and 30T would have been nice - like a 34T as found on the compact cranksets.

Is it time for an upgrade already? I think bumbling between 39T and 30T slowed me down a little. Those folks going up with the 34T seemed to spin right past me.

For not really knowing anybody, they seemed like a good, fun group. Thanks Francis!

Friday, February 5, 2010

  • 1985 RoadMaster 10-speed - $60.00 off Craigslist

  • New Bar Tape - $0.00 with Performance Bike Member points

  • Building a sweet coaster brake road klunker from the parts bin - PRICELESS

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Climbing with 48X16

I don't know how I made it to the top, but I did. It was slow, but I didn't stop. The mind gives up before the body - although I did feel ill when I got home. The last time I tried going up with this bike I turned around while wincing in pain; that was a year ago.