Monday, November 29, 2010

Schwalbe Big Apples on the Trails

You're probably wondering if I ever work, and the answer is YES, but there is definitely a problem when your client cancels an appointment. Oh well. I f*cking hate that.

This afternoon I decided to give the 26 X 2.35 Big Apples a try on the trail. Since I couldn't find a definitive answer or review of how they worked on real mountain bike trails, I decided to give them a go for myself.

When I arrived at the trailhead, like I normally do, I first took out about 10psi from both front and rear (maybe a little more up front). I did the "squish" test and proceeded. I was actually very, very surprised on how well these gripped the dirt initially, and boy, did they roll! The only way I could truly describe the way they felt is that they gave off the same feeling I get when I ride my BMX bike on dirt. I proceeded to the entrance and decided to not go nice. After all, I did tackle one of the most difficult road climbs in the Bay Area yesterday on these tires!

Up Stile Ranch I went. Stile Ranch (or as us locals just call it "Stiles") is a technical climb of big and small rocks with 180 degree switchbacks. It's not easy if you're not used to that kind of ride - but me being a local - I ride this climb all the time.


I was amazed on how well these tires handled this climb. AMAZED. I did spin the rear wheel, slightly, a couple of times - standing up to get my bike over the big stuff - but nothing that wouldn't happen on my fast rolling knobbies. And let's not forget, I'm on a full rigid.

Then came the interesting part - the mud. Not just any ordinary mud: clay mud. On my trails, the dark side of the hill stays pretty moist, so you get dry rocky stuff on one side, and very slick muddy stuff on the other. Of course, the Big Apples slipped and slid, but that should be expected. And you can pretty much make a pinch pot out of this type of mud.

Of course, since they are slicks, they shed all that stuff away very quickly.


I think the Big Apples handled all the abuse from yesterday and today because of their construction and their ability to go low pressure/high-volume. I love the fact that these can go down to 30psi and still have very good, low rolling resistance on the road. This low pressure works great for the trails, just understand their limits with wet stuff - my confidence with these tires wouldn't wince on the dry and hardpacked. Now, it's obvious that they ARE NOT a serious MTB tire, but some of us like doing 50/50 pavement/trail rides. These rides I normally hit on my cyclocross bike, but at least I know that the Big Apples work for the same concept. They even have the neato reflective strip on the side for nighttime visibility. Value add in my book.

If you ride like I do, and take a "dual-sport" approach to your rides, consider the Big Apples. They're just not for beach cruisers.

First Ride On the Urban Replacement Frame


Since my Gary Fisher SuperCaliber was cracked, I had to find a replacement - an unbranded Kinesis frame, which is essentially a Motobecane Fly frame. I wanted to put it to the test, so I decided to take it on a big climb.

I took off for Hicks Rd. on a very, very cold morning. I don't care what some of the East Coast folks have to say about California weather - 30 degrees is still 30 degrees. If I felt strong at the top, I was going to go all the way up to Mt. Umunhum, which is 3000+ ft up. I can go into details of this extremely tough climb, but toughascent.com does a fantastic report of it HERE.

A few noticeable things about using a mountain platform for road cycling.

1. It handles bumps and lumps like nobodys business, especially with the Schwalbe Big Apples in 26 X 2.35's. Yes, they are heavy and don't roll like road race tires, but boy - are they a dream for comfort!

2. It's a little slow. The geometry is really suited for mountain bike riding, and not going up paved roads fast. I got dropped by everybody, and I'm not THAT slow.

3. The descend was like butter. Again, those Big Apples KILLED the bumps in the road. I think that was the fastest I ever descended. I guess that's where the tires and MTB geometry really took effect. As recommended, the Big Apples only had 40psi in them. Contrast that with 110-120 psi in road tires and you can see how the balloon tires can soak up the road bumps.


I built this as an all-around, chill-out bike that can go far in comfort. But I did want to take it on the local kill-climb to see if it can handle the worst of the paved stuff we have around here... and it did. Again, it was slow, but it was nice. I think for what I intended this to be, it does well. It's definitely not for getting on the podium.

The next test will be off-road - as soon as the trails open again.

I did want to mention the douche-baggery that I witnessed on yesterday's ride. Please, roadies... don't make it worse for yourselves by thinking you're IceMan from Top Gun.


Now, I don't go on the boards hating on road riders - but a d-bag is a d-bag, no matter what they ride.

So I'm stopped at about the 1500ft mark talking to some other riders, when a road rider, right out of an 80's movie, yells out, "Race you guys to the top..."

The guy I was talking to says, "You win."

I was, like, "Really? WTF was that all about?"

Then, I'm granny'ing up the second part of the the climb (which goes to about 3100ft.) and some roadie pulls up to next to me and says, "Ha! I wish I had your gears..."

"Yup, granny gear all the way up. Relaxing ride today..."

"Yeah, ha... my small ring is bigger than your big ring..."

Me ->

He then proceeds to mash past.

Whenever I'm on my road bike, I pay special attention to not promote d-bag behavior by being a little nicer to people (that's my nature anyway). But really, the pissing matches are embarrassing for the likes of what I witnessed today.

Maybe these men have just not accomplished enough in their lives to feel the need to say stupid shit to complete strangers.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Some Pics from Black Friday

I got one in yesterday before the rain came today. I felt really strong, even after the big Turkey Day ride the day before. It was an all out hammer-day on this ride.

Unfortunately, I've discovered that the friction shifters I like so much are not cutting it for off-road. They just don't stay in place, and my bike ghost shifts pretty bad. Believe me, I've tried everything. I think for road use, they work just fine. But for off-road, when you are constantly on the shifter, they just can't handle it.

The 29'er is being outfitted with Paul thumbies and once the shifters on the 26" bike go, I'm going back to triggers. I just installed an Alivio 8 sp. trigger shifter on my CX bike since I was having problems with the friction shifter on that, as well.

Here are the pics from yesterday.



Thursday, November 25, 2010

2010 Turkey Day Ride - Los Gatos, Ca.

Since it is just plain fact that Santa Teresa County Park was going to be closed this morning, I decided to get out on this ride this year since I missed it last year. I've never been up Kennedy Trail before, so it was a great way to check it out next time I need some hill climbing and my local trails are closed. I was hoping my brother was going to make it, but it was 30 degrees and he had to drive from Santa Cruz.

To my surprise, the climb was really not as bad as I thought it was going to be after I read the trail reviews. The last little hill was SUPER steep. I almost made it, but slipped and lost traction - impossible to restart again.

Except for a couple of people, I didn't know anybody. So being the stranger in a group of over 500 riders, I took off early. Plus, being a vegetarian, there wasn't much for me to eat except for a slice of pumpkin pie and Ron's wife's awesome cookies. Thanks!!

The descend down was horribly cold. My hands stung, even with "thermal" gloves. I felt pretty good with my ear covers, my base layer, an Under Armor long sleeve thermal base, Louis Garnier knee warmers and shoe covers from Performance. I have to say that I was STOKED I chose to wear my neoprene shoe covers - they made a big difference. My hand protection is something I have to prepare for better next time.

I hope everybody had a good time, I know I did even though I really didn't know anybody. I always enjoy the energy at these types of rides.


Here are some videos:

video

Riders going up Kennedy Rd.

video

Pouring into the trailhead

video

An Exclusive Interview with Mr. MTBR.com

Here are some pics:

Many of us met at Summit Bicycles on E. Main St. in Los Gatos.

An old Miyata with something warm.

Peeps

The Summit Bicycles Turkey Mascot

Sweet drop bar Salsa

Road.

Entering the Trailhead

Going up!

...and up

...and up

Ooh, SUN!

Grindin'

... and more grindin'

Coming up to the top...

Mob scene...

Piles of bikes...

Mobbers...

Santa with a beer...

The Filipinos brought Lechon

Da' crowd.

Going back down...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Some Reflection on Racing and a Cracked Frame

First, let's get to the cracked frame situation. Dude... I was so stoked on my Gary Fisher SuperCaliber. I loved the 90's neon vibe, the funky paint job and the crazy colors I got to mix it with.

The other day I was doing a once-over and noticed these cracks:


Done.

Gone.

Goodbye.

It was fun while it lasted.

This is a sad time, my friends. Worst of all, is I traded my cherry NON-CRACKED Eastern Traildigger for it. I only rode my Gary Fisher once, on the road, with no bumps or curb jumps so I have a feeling I received it this way. And since the trade was done in the dark, there was no way I could see this.

I ordered an aluminum Kinesis frame as a replacement, a new bottom bracket and front derailleur. So much for my vintage build.



Onto my reflection on racing...

Last night I couldn't sleep and I've been giving the racing thing a lot of thought.

For, like, the last two weeks.

I think CX racing is not my thing. I really dug deep to think of why I lost interest and there's many reasons (mostly work stress), but I don't think I have the racer's mindset. I can't dig deep enough within to make a competitive attempt. What it is, is I focus so much energy into work, especially with my appointments, phone calling and pending business pouring into Saturdays and Sundays, and then I have to go to all these fraternal events on the weekends that relate to my work. The agency I am in is super sales competitive oriented, and when all is said and done, the only peace I find is in riding.

What I've come to find is that racing doesn't bring me peace. It actually kinda stresses me out and I don't have fun - and then it becomes a pain in the ass and then I don't want to do it. I feel I not only waste my time and money, but I waste the guy-who-I-may-finish-ahead-of's time, who may be actually going for the glory. I may just be a roadblock for him and he may be trying real hard to get ahead, when in my mind, I just don't care.

I think I've come to terms with the reasons why I ride, and to me, it's really to get away, not to dive into a heated competition. I have to compete everyday with work production, and my manager makes it a competitive sales environment.

I've been working hard trying to make the sales quota for the incentive cruise vacation that I promised my wife, Kelly. December is the last opportunity to make it - and if I screw this up I will really let myself and Kelly down. That means, there will be consecutive days that I will not be able to train. I don't want to view these days as a hindrance to my training, and then that's yet just another thing to stress me out.

This all doesn't go without saying to those who continue to race, I have utmost respect for them. But after giving it a try I just don't see myself putting real effort into it the way the next guy may want to.

Sometimes I have a hard time understanding why some pound the pedals so hard, ultra-competitive, when I already do that with work. The last thing I want to be is be stressed out doing an activity that's supposed to be peaceful for me. To me, when I hit the trails, I like to take my time and spend time with nature. In a competitive environment, I don't feel there's room for that kind of "mountain trekking" riding style that I enjoy so much.

I think I may shine the rest of the season, which is three more races going into January. I'm not wimping out or being lazy, but if my heart's not in it, I just don't see any reason to continue. All it's going to do is make me not want to be there. That's not fair to the guys I'm up against, the race organizers or myself.

It was an interesting attempt, pretty cool and I'm glad I did it. But I just don't think it's for me. At least I tried it and experienced it.

So... no race for me on Sunday and no more race reports. I am still set on racing the SBRacing MTB race in the Spring when it hits Santa Teresa County Park - since that is MY park - but I will only do that for fun and will not race the season.

Am I disappointed in myself for not continuing? A little. I feel like I'm a quitter and this will take some time for me to get over.

But I also can't kid myself of what riding truly is to me. I also need to focus on my job.

Racing is not what pays the bills.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ride the Obnoxious - First Go on the 1991 Gary Fisher SuperCaliber

Today I thought it would be PERFECT to get a ride in on the new-to-me 1991 Gary Fisher SuperCaliber. As I posted previously, I scored this on a trade for my Eastern Traildigger 26". The goal was to revive 1991, punch it in the stomach and have it regurgitate all the nasty bright colors that plagued the nation at that time (seems to be around a lot these days, too). Unfortunately, I had to throw about $300 at this thing to make it work right, but I am super jazzed at the way it turned out and the way it rode.

The upgrades include:

Surly 1X1 for
Aerozine Headset
Problem Solvers 37mm - 34mm reducers (so a regular 1 1/8 threadless headset would work)
Race Face Atlas bar
Hot Pink Oury Grips
Hot Pink brake cable housing
2.35" Schwalbe Big Apple tires
WTB seat
Electric Blue skewers
Crank Bro. pedals (from my garage)
Ritchey Seatpost (from my garage)
Avid rear V-Brake (from my garage)
Colorful odds and ends

I did my normal road loop, which is a 25 mile go-around inflating my Big Apples to only 32psi. I know that sounds CRAZY, but these tires truly work perfect and roll fast at this pressure. They also soak up any bumps and lumps in the road and work on dirt paths very well.

I was incredibly surprised on how well this bike pedalled and I think I have a new favorite urban bike - even more than my Surly Pacer. In fact, the goal is to ride this tank on one of the big social road rides next year just for shits and giggles.

This bike was just fun to ride and it hops curbs and handles the urban wasteland just great. I also think I have a guilty pleasure riding it with the Hot Pink grips.

BTW, I did a LONG trackstand at a light in front of some fixie kids. Little do they know what tricks this old man in lycra has under his sleeve.





No Race Sunday - MTB'ing in Santa Cruz, Ca. instead...

My brother and I rode Santa Cruz yesterday instead of racing the Surf City. God bless you all for staying committed to the race schedule and doing all these series races - plain and simple my brother and I are just a little burned out.

We took our normal loop that took about three hours. Great riding, but it is undeniably warm for November - we are seriously in the 70's. Santa Cruz was a nice break from my sniffling, sneezing and coughing from allergies here in San Jose. Of course, 30 min. back in San Jose, my eyes started to swell and the nose itching began.

Anyhow, here are a few pics.



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lunch ride

Rain has been gone for two days and the weather is arid. It's deceiving because it's cool, but you have serious cotton mouth at the same time. Anyhow, the drop-bar was the tool for today.

I think I'm done with the drops and going back to a traditional riser bar. The drops are fun and interesting, but really, a regular handlebar is the way to go. Anybody want to buy a dirt drop-bar with disc compatible levers?

Those drops do make for interesting photos, though... right?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Amgen Tour of California returns to the South Bay next May


The 2011 Amgen Tour of California will use San Jose as the finish line for Stage four of the race on Wednesday, May 18th of next year.

In the past two years of the race, San Jose had served as the starting line for one of the stages.

Last month, San Jose's chief development officer Paul Krutko told race organizers the city would only be interested in hosting the finish line of a stage because it attracts more people.

San Jose is one of 15 host cities of the 800-mile bike race.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Analysis: USA Cycling to Vote on Rule Changes that Will Shape American Cyclocross

Got this from Cyclocross Magazine - interesting stuff here...

Analysis: USA Cycling to Vote on Rule Changes that Will Shape American Cyclocross

by Kat Statman

From the USA Cycling Communique about proposed rule changes: “The USCF Board of Trustees will vote on several key issues when it meets in conjunction with the USA Cycling Local Associations on Nov. 6-7 in Colorado Springs. All USA Cycling members are encouraged to review the USCF Board of Trustees proposed 2010 legislation and contact your trustee representative to let your voice be heard on the outlined issues.”

We here at Cyclocross Magazine have gone through this 30 page document looking for the significant rule change proposals for ’cross so that you don’t have to. There are a couple that stand out clearly and will possibly be contentious issues among USA Cycling members if passed.

One of the more problematic or difficult proposed rule changes is that of field size. The proposed legislation states, “UR10.13 1J7 Cyclo-cross default field limit – David Miller and Tom Simonson. This creates a default field limit for cyclo-cross races. 1J7. Maximum Field. Entries shall be accepted in order of receipt by the organizer up to the field limit and subsequent entries shall be returned. The maximum field limit in any youth race or a road event exclusively for category 5 men or Category 4 women shall be 50 riders. The maximum field for a road event that includes category 5 men with other categories shall be 75. For other road events and for cyclo-cross events, if no field limit is given in the official race announcement, a field limit of 100 shall be used.”

What does this piece of proposed legislation purport to change for cyclocross events and who might it affect? Possible reasons for such a rule stem from the extremely large field sizes that were witnessed at the 2009 Cyclocross National Championships and many other USAC permitted events around the country where field size in some categories became a problem. For example, as reported on the forums of roadbikereview.com, a poster mentioned that for the Alpenrose Cross Crusade (though this is an OBRA and not a USAC event) there were 100 to 150 entries in at least six individual races held on that day. Participation numbers for the National Championship events and for series like the Verge New England Cyclocross Championship Series or the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross races is similar. Fortunately, the proposed legislation is not a blanket cap at 100 for all cyclocross races and leaves the discretion up to the promoter when it says, “For other road events and for cyclo-cross events, if no field limit is given in the official race announcement, a field limit of 100 shall be used.”

Juniors: No carbon or tubulars!
Another important possible rule change affects the under 17 Junior riders. The rule takes away these group of racers ability to use both tubular wheels and composite wheels. The added restrictions are, “Effective Jan 1, 2012 the following additional restrictions apply to Juniors under the age of 17 competing in any race: i) Wheels must have at least 16 spokes. The rims must be made of metal – composite fibers (carbon etc.) are forbidden. Spoke covers are forbidden. ii) Only high pressure detachable tires shall be used, with the tube detachable from the tire. Such tires shall be beaded. Tubular tires are forbidden.” Though we are not privy to the reasoning behind each proposed rule change, it seems to be in line with equalizing the Junior fields in terms of equipment advantages. The racing in the Junior ranks is not supposed to be about who has the most money, but rather about supporting and sponsoring a nurturing and fun environment to promote Junior development and interest in the sport.

Singlespeed Championship
For all of you singlespeed racers, there’s some big possible news on the horizon that will have a serious consequence on your National Championship plans. The new proposed legislation with respect to singlespeed categories is labeled as emergency legislation and, if passed, will be effective as of December 2010. Here’s the proposal: “This adds single speed classes to cyclo-cross championships. We want it to be treated as emergency legislation to be effective for the 2010 championships. 8F8. National Cyclocross Championships shall be conducted for Elite men (cat 1-2), and Elite women (cat 1-3), Single Speed Elite men (cat 1-2) and Single Speed Elite women (cat 1-3).” If passed there will no longer be a blanket singlespeed free-for-all race, but an actual National Championship awarded to the best Elite male and female singlespeeders.

No Helmet Cams or Visors
Everybody loves the helmet cam videos that are seen over on the cowbell site, unfortunately USAC is proposing to ban helmet cams with rule UR10.19 1N1. But it’s not like your $200 investment will be useless if it passes, as this rule only bans helmet cams and not bar cams, seat cams, or any other place on your bike that you might place a camera. Sounds like visors are out too: “1N1. Helmets. At all times when participating in an event held under a USA Cycling event permit, including club rides, any rider on a bicycle or motorcycle shall wear a protective, securely fastened helmet that satisfies the standards specified in USA Cycling Policies. No additional component (helmet cams, visors, fairings) that was not initially manufactured with the helmet may be affixed to the helmet. The structure of the helmet may not be modified in any way. (Policy I, Sections 1 and 2 – see appendices.) [disqualification and a $20 fine for failure to wear or for removing such a helmet during a race. The fine is also applicable if the rider is not racing, but is participating in the event as described below]. “Participating in an event” means riding a bicycle in the vicinity of a race at any time between the beginning of registration and the last awarding of prizes, but does not apply to riding rollers or stationary trainers in order to warm up.” So Todd Wells and Adam Craig could still wear their visors to protect their eyes from all the splatter while riding on the trainer. Consistency in that helmet safety philosophy would suggest that means helmet lights would also be banned for 24 hour races (mountain, cyclocross or whatever else).

80% Rule and Pulling Riders
There are many other rule changes found in this document relating to cyclocross. The proposed legislation changes make it much more clear that the 80 percent rule is not a steadfast rule and it is up to the chief referee’s discretion. Proposed rule UR10.29 5G makes clear what the 80 percent rule says, “UR10.29 5G Cyclo-cross pulling riders – Tom Simonson This amends slightly the new rules adopted by telephone conference call in July. The July rules are black italic – the new section is in red. This makes the intent of the 80% rule clear. The wording about whether lapped riders are to be pulled or left in has been changed to a more neutral form. 5G. Finish 5G1. Unless announced otherwise, riders who have been lapped will be pulled from the race using the following procedures: Before the start of a race, it should be announced whether lapped riders will be pulled or remain in the race. If riders are to be pulled, the following applies: (a) Riders who have been lapped shall continue the lap to a designated location before the finish line and withdraw, under the control of the officials. (b) The Chief Referee may, after consulting with the organizer, impose the 80% rule. Under this rule, riders whose time gap to the race leader is at least 80% of the race leader’s time for the first lap will be pulled by the officials unless it is the final lap. The number of 80% is merely an approximation based on a typical course; the intent is that all riders should be pulled before they are lapped. (c) Riders who have been pulled because of lapping or the 80% rule will be listed in the results based on their position when pulled and the number of laps remaining. The results will list the number of laps remaining after the lap on which they were pulled.”

Fixie Hipsters Need Not Apply
Also Fixed gear bicycles will not be allowed in cyclocross events, all bikes must have a freewheel and two brakes: UR10.18 1M3 Cyclocross bikes – freewheel – Tom Simonson. This makes it clear that all cyclo-cross bikes must have a freewheel. 1M3. Bicycle Types (a).. (b) For road, cyclocross (including single speed classes) and MTB races, only a bicycle with a freewheel and one working brake on each wheel shall be used, except as allowed elsewhere in these rules.” Just when fixed-gear cyclocross was about to jump the shark!

With this meeting happening this week, take the time to contact your local USA Cycling representative and make sure your voice is heard. Also please comment below, let us and others know what you are thinking, and keep the discussion about the direction American cyclocross racing is going alive and thriving.

This doesn't affect us who race only on the local scene. However, generally speaking, big rules find themselves into small venues over time.