Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chillin' Ride with the WifeBot a.k.a. SHE MAKES IT UP!

I'm so proud of my wifebot for making it up a "real" hill today for the first time in a long time. We decided to go local and hit up the Harry Rd. side of Bernal Rd. going up to IBM, which is a couple of miles, a steady 5% and a good 800ft. of elevation. For my wifebot, who sustained a cyclist injury which took her out of the game for awhile, this was quite the accomplishment. Also, her knee is placed strangely outward and any foot retention gives her pain. In addition, her weak wrists keep her from riding anything that is beyond an upright seating position.

We purchased a female-oriented Scott Sportster P5 fitted with wide-platform MTB pedals. And aside from the muscle burn and lactic acid, there is no pain on this set-up for her.

I've always believed she was a strong climber - much stronger than I am... it's just lack of riding kept her from reaching her potential. So today, as tiring as it was for her, we ventured off to the first climb to check off her list. Inspired, I think she'll be able to get up the much steeper Santa Teresa side in a week or so. Originally, I was supposed to ride with the OTC boys down in Santa Cruz, rush back to San Jose and ride with my wife AND make the funeral this evening - there was no way. Until next time web surfers!

The start of the hill.

Almost at the top!

Chillin' at Santa Teresa County Park.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Why a Cyclocross Bike for Trail Riding...

In a previous post, I mentioned the first two rides on my single 'crosser - a custom built Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno. I knew that a CX bike for the trails was something special, but I never knew it would end up being pretty much the only bike I'd ride when it came to the trails. Yes, I'll unhang the suspension bikes for a trip or two and when I decide to stay on the road, the Surly Pacer comes down - but for my daily ritual of asphalt/dirt/asphalt, I really couldn't ask for a better bike.

This is it in its current form:

The changes from the original build are upgraded cranks (Truvativ Omnium), Easton EA70 46cm shallow drops and a KMC chain. I'm already through the rear tire and after only three months of riding I need a replacement.

What I find is for the type of "fitness" riding I like to do, this truly is the choice bike. It climbs better than any mountain bike I own and descends any non-technical trail just as fast. I am faster on this bike than any of my other trail bikes when considering equal terrain (obviously my full suspension bike does much better on technical downhills).

I do find myself wanting gears, though. There are some climbs that are just not do'able on the singlespeed, so I resort to walking (which I hate). With this kind of climbing geometry, it'd be so awesome to shift up. There is one hill (Coyote Peak in Santa Teresa County Park) that requires an initial walk, but I can clear everything else.

I think if I can go back, I'd build a geared bike. In fact, if I would've listen to my brother, I would've built one cyclocross bike from the beginning instead of having my Surly Pacer AND my SS 'crosser. Oh well...

It's nice to have the variety of bikes that I own - and I do ride them all. However, when you ride only a few, it makes you wonder if all the others are necessary, especially when you've bascially found "The One".

To me, a cyclocross bike is like taking all my favorite attributes of an off-road bike and forming Voltron. And in case you didn't know - Voltron is BADASS.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ride Report - Up and Over Hicks Rd.

For anybody that lives in the South Bay Area, you may be familiar with two major, very noticeable peaks - James Lick Observatory and The Monolith Cube. Both are destinations for cyclists looking to get a good climb and see the spectacular views. Yesterday, I decided I had a couple extra hours to spare and go up-and-over Hicks Rd. - the local hot climb.

Stanford Cycling describes this climb as follows:

This is one tough climb! Front-side Hicks road starts at the intersection with Shannon, and rolls easily for over 4 miles passing by Guadalupe Creek Reservoir. Inhospitable hicks, white albinos, and gun brandishing sorts of bumpkins live around there. One is brutally awaken once the road crosses the bridge while making left hand turn. No matter how high one raises the head, the eye keeps meeting the road, and the desperate feeling of drowning in the deep well envelops the body. The struggle captures the suddenly impotent legs. A cattle grate partway up the steep section is threatening, but can be survived if conditions aren't too wet. Doing this climb in a 39/27 is a struggle -- even with such gearing, fit riders will be wishing for more on the steepest slopes. At the top of the hill, Mt Umunhum (nee Loma Almaden) forks off in the "sugar cube" direction, as well as several dirt trails.

This climb is right in the neck of my 'hood and I've only done it twice. The first time required stop breaks to try to keep myself from puking, and the second time I did it with my tiny MTB gearing on my Motobecane Ti XC bike.

I figured these days I should be strong enough to roll it, and I did. No problem, really... I'm not a fast climber by any means (sprinting is another story). I really should be on the velodrome but my knees hurt just thinking about that.

My trusty Surly Pacer in outfitted in its retro-touring look did the job quite well - that bike never fails me. Sorry for the crappy iPhone pic - I will bring my regular camera next time.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Stuff at UGLY! Pads

I'm taking a few minutes out today to talk about some of new stuff at the site. I just picked up a handful of plaids - notably, four pretty sick vintage plaids. There are a few odds-and-ends of new patterns, as well.

I'm now offering a choice in lock-loop colors. Currently, you can choose between black, navy, red or brown. In the next few weeks, I'll have pink, orange, turqouise, blue, silver, purple, black w/reflective strip, olive, hot pink and neon green. Yeah boy!

UGLY! Pads will also be deviating away from the pads and I will be carrying "ON YOUR LEFT" bells, offered in anodized colors of red, yellow, purple and blue - they are small, little, loud impact bells that I've been using for years. I'm a firm believer in bicycle bells - people actually appreciate the warning rather than you just buzzing by them at light-speed in startling silence. Of course, since I'm a small operation, the savings pass onto you.

Check it! New stuff for spring and summer. If you like this grassroots approach - please tell your friends.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


US National Cyclocross Championships 1976 Sunriver Oregon

"That's chaos, man... if that ain't something..."

"That's chaos..."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Third Time's a Charm *and* How To Make Use of a Titanium XC MTB

The Cafe Noir went to a new home last night.

After realizing that it would never be ridden (due to my wife's discomfort while riding it), I put it up on Craigslist and it went the same night to a very nice lady. She was pretty enthusiastic about it and I hope it serves her well. At least I know it's going to someone who's going to ride the snot out of it.

Here's the ad:

This was my second attempt on purchasing a bike for my wife that wasn't uncomfortable for her (due to an injury), but it did not work out. Purchased last fall for $700, this bike was ridden a total of two times. If I didn't already have a geared road bike, I'd keep it for myself as I'm very impressed with it (I personally own 4 Motobecane bikes and all are great). Steel frame, carbon fork, flat handlebars, a rear rack mount and 27 gears will pretty much put you anywhere you need to go. I changed the stem from an adjustable one to a solid one (to eliminate flex), added a gold waterbottle cage and headset top-cap and ergonomic grips that relieve hand pressure. I also added campus style pedals which are flat on one side and SPD compatible on the other, so you have a choice to ride them with cycling shoes or regular shoes.

It shifts wonderfully (Shimano 105 components), has a comfortable seat and looks great. Steel frames combined with carbon forks provide a wonderful feel and the 700c X 28 tires soak up bumps in the road very well.

I hate to see this go, but we really have to get something that will work for her. $550, which is $150 off the original price. Very fair for a new bike. Low-ballers will be ignored, no trades.

This weekend Kelly and I will be setting off to look for a new bike for her - I'm hoping this is the last one and we are definitely going for utility and comfort. Also, something that Kingston Dog can come along with would be cool.

Speaking of that little devil, today I decided to add a good 10lbs to the front of my bike using a live animal. Since my only geared bikes that are compatible with the dog carrier (road handlebars don't work) are my MTB's, I figured the Ti bike is the closest thing to a road bike I could get. I really couldn't imagine trying to haul the full suspension bike around with him on it, but I am definitely going to bring him up to the top of Coyote Peak and ride fire roads with him as soon as the trails open.

Did a few, short decent climbs and even did the little single tracks along the creek. Looks like the local kids have been building up the jumps pretty nicely. Good work, kids!

That little dog is wiped out completely. He went straight to the bed and is out like a lamp - thinking I should get some work done and maybe hit a power nap myself before I go out on appointment. Enjoy the pics!