Monday, January 24, 2011

If You Can't Beat 'em , Avoid 'em - How to Ride While Bicycle Advocacy Groups Attempt to Change the World

Every month there is at least 1 or 2 stories in the news about an injury or death resulting in a bicycle vs. car incident. Everyday, I read on multiple internet forums and social networking sites about promoting bicycle advocacy, "getting involved" and reaching out to the community; admittedly I jumped on that bandwagon for some time. I respect these people's desire to make change and becoming the voice for all varieties of cyclists. It's neat to see people get involved.

I've been doing some reflecting recently and realized that I, growing up on a BMX bike and riding far distances everyday to session spots, never had a car vs. bicycle incident. We didn't obey traffic rules, had lights on our bikes, or had to blow a whistle. We didn't have the internet nor were we aware of any bicycle advocacy happening at that time. We didn't wear helmets, reflective clothing or any other "safety" clothing aside from shin guards to keep us from tearing up our shins. But I never, ever had a car entanglement.

When I started road cycling a few years ago, I took all the safety awareness lessons I've been reading about on the web and applied them. Coincidentally, this was the time I was hit by a car. And as recently as yesterday, while riding with my wife on a very wide road, we were hassled by a couple of douchebags who thought it'd be funny to buzz us and scream to scare us.

Usually, when I ride, I never experience these interactions with cars simply because I've re-adopted the way I used to ride when I was a kid. I do obey traffic rules, and I utilize and encourage safety gear like a helmet, reflective clothing and lighting (I'm all grown up now), but I stay WAY off main roads and avoid busy streets as much as possible. I cut through pathways, take dirt paths and residential streets, hop curbs, ride through parks, trails and other "workarounds". If I must absolutely be on a street, I choose super wide streets with large bike lanes or if there is no bike lane, I hop up the curb and ride on the sidewalk. In other words - I've adapted my riding style to survive an environment that is not bicycle friendly. This is exactly the way we used to ride our 20" bikes in the 80's and 90's - but we didn't do it for safety... we did it for fun.

"Work-arounds" like Coyote Creek Trail provide miles of car-free riding

I can't wait for the world to rebuild a bicycle friendly infrastructure, nor do I have the time to go to city council meetings. I don't agree with the way Critical Mass presents itself and I would never get involved with it. But, I do have a BMX background, and I do know how to get in and out of ride in stealth mode.

Next time you route your ride or if you have a daily commute - consider your options. Get comfortable with riding off road, getting up and off curbs without falling and seeing opportunistic alternative cut-throughs in your town. You don't have to subject yourself to becoming a sitting duck out there while bicycle advocacy groups try to change the world.

Hey, if Cru Jones can do it...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Generic Mountain Bike Urban/Rural Smasher Build - 2 Month Review

You can find these all over eBay and internet bike shops. They are gloss black, aluminum, and has no name. Nashbar sells them for $99 and they range in price depending on where you look. Most of the time, they accept v-brakes and disc brakes, and are universally tabbed and drilled to fit virtually any modern component. These are the generic, Asia made mountain bike frames, and I have one.

If you read previous posts, late last year I traded my Eastern Traildigger 26" DJ bike for an old school Gary Fisher SuperCaliber. I was super excited but promptly lost my new-to-me woody when I found cracks near the water bottle mounts. With a broken frame, I had all these old and new components needing a place to go, so I went to www.bikeisland.com and found a 18" Kinesis frame for $185 (I should've went with Nashbar, but oh well).

With an urban smasher in mind, I built it around a Surly 1X1 fork, 2.35" Schwalbe Big Apples, a big Race Face Atlas all-mountain handlebar, a homemade double crankset (22/39) and an 11-34 8 sp. cassette. I have both front and rear racks, v-brakes, square taper cranks and BB, and a bell. The entire bike weighs 31.08 lbs., as shown. Dalmatian not included.


I don't know what it is about this build, but as heavy, generic, and old-school as it is, I am just having a blast on it. Since the Big Apples are so, well, big, they provide a comfort on the road that can't be had with skinny road tires or even wider cyclocross tires. Let some air out to 25-30psi, and they climb dry rocks just as well as mountain bike tires and handle fireroads and dry singletrack just fine. Take it easy in the mud,though. The 26" Big Apples sit at, actually, a larger diameter than my 700 X 28 road bike wheels and tires - so you get a slight benefit in a larger rotational mass. I successfully mounted them ghetto tubeless which is holding together very well.

This is now the only aluminum bike I own (except for my beach cruiser) and I'm actually enjoying the stiffness of it. It mashes the hills quite nicely and combined with the fat tires, is not jarring at all. I am not at all delicate with this bike, and it is taken through the rocks of Santa Teresa County park at least 3-4 times a week.

Since this bike is not fancy, very understated and unassuming, it's not a conversation piece unless people know what they are looking at. Adding more fun to the mix, I climb past guys on $2000 full suspension mountain bikes all the time on it - and it looks like a commuter bike.

But, best of all, it has become a jack of all trades. My daily rides are, at a minimum, 50% dirt and 50% road - sometimes more or less either way. And this bike seems to be doing both very, very well. Of course, it's not going to perform like a 15lb. road race bike or the newest technology carbon fiber all-mountain bike, but it can, and will, hang with those bikes on many occasions. I can spin up trails in the granny gears, or mash on the flat asphalt streets in the 39T chainring and 11T cog.


Don't discount these $99 generic frames. Often times they will have lifetime warranties against defects and they are often made by the same hands behind any of the big name frames.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Made in TAIWAN

Guess what?

Unless you've shelled out the big bucks for a domestic, custom built frame most likely your bike was made in Taiwan or China.

As much as people kick and scream on internet forums about the poor quality of these "unbranded" frames and parts littered all over eBay, it is simply pure fact that nearly all off-the-shelf bikes have a connection to Asia.

This is not a bad thing.

I personally used to work in electronics and have travelled to the Chinese factories; I personally witnessed the cheap "Cheng-Sing" products and high-end "Sony" products were being constructed by the exact same hands. I'm sure the manufacturing of bicycle frames and parts is identical.

The label of being "Made in Taiwan" is nothing to be feared or criticized. I'm confident in saying your home appliances and the machines you rely on to cook your food are probably all made in Taiwan or China. Don't hate.

Check out the article below that was in RIDE BMX (click on the pics to enlarge). Photos by Keith Mulligan and Article by McGoo.




Friday, January 14, 2011

I Crashed - Body Planted on a Wet Wood Bridge

I rarely crash, but when I do, I have to say... it can be epic. I guess when I ride the mountain bike, I don't expose myself to too many bad situations, but every once in awhile I don't think ahead and I end up on the ground. On the rare occassion I ride my BMX, crashing is every 30 min., so I guess it's all relative.

The other day, I was riding Santa Teresa County Park having the damndest time negotiating the rocks after the rain started to come down. Climbing slick rocks is a biatch, so when I got the the descend, I was relieved.

Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking when I hit the wood bridge, and I instantly lowsided and bodyplanted pretty damn hard. I was going about 15MPH. Bruised left inner thigh, bruised right hip, bloody and bruised shin, skinned elbow.

Thankfully, the 29'er is SOLID, so I aligned the seat back forward and went on my merry way.

Until the moisture goes away, I'm taking the bridges a lot slower.

Worst BMX Start Ever...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bike Soiree "Facing the Future Ride" - Saturday Jan 15th. Fremont, Ca.

I was asked to step in and help route a ride through Fremont, Ca. since I spend so much time there. Please come out and join us if you can. It will be a very light and easy ride of 24 flat miles so this will be cruiser friendly. Hope to see you out there!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Oldie but Goodie - Old SMHooligans Video

An old video edit I did from back in the day. Includes on board riding with me as pilot at the end.

video

Sunday, January 9, 2011

San Jose Bike Party Test Ride Report

So, I'm pretty much over the strep throat thing and aside from a slight cough and sinus issues, I felt well enough to get back on la bicicleta after letting my once quadzilla legs atrophy into toothpicks. Penicillin is AWESOME! For strep, that is.

We all met up at the Trek Bike Shop on Capitol Expy. Being only 5-10 miles away, I decided to ride out there. I loaded up the jersey with bars, petty cash, cough drops, my iPhone and I was out. It was a little cold, but nothing I couldn't get over at a social pace.

Off we went. Of course, like most of these events I didn't know a soul. A few people had some of the On Your Left bells I sold at the Bicycle Swap Meet earlier this year, so that was neat. Thanks for your patronage!





As we were headed down Santa Teresa Blvd. I decided not to spend my first well day doing a chill-out cruise, so I broke off and hit the hills. Even the guys in front were like, "YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!" and I was thinking, "No... this is the right way!" Thanks for your concerns, though, guys! That's Bike Party watching out. It would've been nice if more people were interested in mountain biking - I would've loved taking someone out for a tour and showed them back to Trek.

As I started to climb Bernal, I noticed the "Trails Closed" sign was not out! Dude, I FINALLY get to ride my trails! At that moment, I crossed over and began to climb Ohlone Trail after letting about 10psi of air out of the Schwalbe Big Apples.

I descended Fortini and headed up Stile Ranch Trail.

Boy, not mountain biking for a couple of weeks really takes a toll on you once you get back to it. I was huffing and puffing, and on the ride back home, I even cramped up standing up to sprint - which is a sign that I've fallen out of shape (temporarily). Stile Ranch was HAMMERED - the rain beats up the trails so bad it reveals big rocks that have been buried for years.

My heart was in it today to ride with San Jose Bike Party - but not knowing anybody and discovering my trails opened back up got me back to my normal, solitary self.

Except for my deer friends.

Halfway up the climb. If you look to the lower left, you will see a neat pack of deer.

More deer - there was about 15 of them. One large buck, a few teens and fawns and a gang of does.

Single Track on the Big Apples.

Top o' the climb. This is my place. This is my peace. No cars, traffic, honking... no bullshit. Just me, the wind, my animal friends and nature.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Adventure Riding on Bicycles

Well, I've been plagued by Strep - worst case scenario is I happen to get it when we're having a break in the rain and therefore have been missing some nice-day rides. Oh well.

So, I've sold two of my bikes, the Fantom Cross Uno and the Fantom Comp DS... all that remains is the Messenger which should go when the weather gets better and more and more people are "getting out". I have to say, after cleaning those bikes for the new owners, a part of me wanted to be a hoarder - but that does me no good.

Now, let's get to the topic at hand: something I like to call "Adventure Riding". Yes, I know that all riding can be classified under "adventure", but I have constructed a way to define this sort of riding. It's not social riding at social pace, nor is it racing oriented. Let me explain.

I guess this all stems from my love for SuperMoto and dual sport motorcycles. What is fantastic about these bikes is their ability to be 1) street legal 2) they can handle on and off-road very well and 3) they are quick and nimble, but not outright rockets (like sportbikes). They sit upright, and, when tuned correctly, have fantastic throttle response. Oh, and they wheelie really well.

Here are a couple of shots of my old adventure bike - my KLR650. I rode that thing on trails, roads, through the canyons... everywhere. I've had a number of these types of bikes through the years.



These type of motorcycles give the rider an opportunity to explore - which many adventure riders do all the time. A great documentary about adventure riding is "Long Way Round" with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. I guess it isn't "true" adventure riding defined by the purists since they are both celebrities and had a support vehicle most of the time, but it is very entertaining and I highly recommend it.


So, how does this play into bicycles?

With the growing popularity of 29'ers and the niche of "MonsterCross" that has come about, I notice that same sentiment for the pedalling enthusiasts. Many are building "do-it-all" bikes that can handle both on and off road very well: big wheels, rigid forks, fat tires that roll on pavement and dirt well, and multi-hand position handlebars.

As you can see from previous posts, my rides consist of a lot of off-road. But because of where I live, I do mix in a lot of pavement riding that I don't bother taking pictures of. I purposefully venture off the street, away from cars and bike lanes, and find alternative routes to where I need to be. Most of those routes are dirt paths, creekside singletrack, hike-a-bike situations and back roads.

Having been hit by cars twice in my life; I don't like to expose myself to those dangers. I see all types of wild life that can hurt or kill you (like big cats, boar and rattle snakes), but none of those animals are more dangerous than a distracted person driving down the road. So, this adventure type riding also keeps me out of traffic.

If you are considering building a new bike or replacing the one you have now, I would highly recommend looking at these "do-it-all" type bicycles that are offered out there. MTBR has a great thread (which I've referenced before) called, "I Beg You, More MONSTERCROSS" which has dozens of incredible bikes that serve the adventure purpose.

Nearly all of my bikes perform off-road as well as on-road, which all have been purposefully set up that way. With the help of MTBR and researching tires, you can probably even transform your current bike into something more adventure worthy.



If you are not a racer, consider a bike like this. I always ask - why deny yourself a bike that is set-up a to do it all... and do it well?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Homeless man w/golden radio voice in Columbus, OH

Not bike related, but I'm helping to make this video go viral. That's how we can help this guy in this day and age.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Selling Three of my Bikes - One Fixie, One SS Cyclocross and One MTB

Well, for those of you that follow along, you know that I'm not out there destroying bikes - but I'm trying to down size my garage and prioritize a few things in my life. Therefore, three bikes must go! Here they are with pics. If you, or anybody you may know, may be interested in any of these, please hit me up at dion@uglypads.com. Please note that I'm in San Jose, Ca. Thanks for looking!

Medium Motobecane Fantom Comp DS Full Suspension MTB


"In an attempt to downsize my garage for 2011, I am selling my Fantom Comp DS with upgraded Sun Ringle Wheels, Forte Carbon Handlebars, and Kenda LUST tubeless tires with Stans Sealant (NO FLATS!). I purchased this bike last year and ridden it only a few times locally. I am very meticulous about my bikes and do not abuse them, crash them, or huck them off anything. It's very new'ish with no dings, scratches, broken parts; it's clean and a great looking bike.

For $650, you're getting a fantastic bike with some great components. I am not interested in haggling over the price, which I think is fair. PEDALS NOT INCLUDED. Thanks for looking!"
54cm Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno - Custom Single Speed Cyclocross


"I am selling my single-speed cyclocross bike in an attempt to downsize my garage. I built this bike custom from the frame up and it's great for the trails and city. Parts include Motobecane Fantom Cross UNO frame and fork, Truvativ Omnium Track Cranks, White Ind. 22T freewheel, On-One Mary handlebars, Continental Cyclocross tires, lock-on grips, etc.

I am very, very meticulous about my builds and I did not rush anything nor oddly fit things onto this bike - it is solid with no weird creaking, rust, or damage (no scratches, dings nor dents).

For a custom build with attention to detail, I believe $500 is fair, so I am FIRM on the price. PEDALS NOT INCLUDED. Thanks for looking."
54cm Motobecane Messenger Fixed Gear/Single Speed


"I built this bike a couple of years ago and it has treated me very well. However, I'm out of room and this, which never gets ridden, is on the chopping block.

Note: I do understand that you can get these from BikesDirect for $299. However, the only thing this bike and those bikes share is the frame, everything else is completely different. For $120 more, you get much better components than what comes stock.

Surly Steamroller fork (NEW), Tektro R70 brakes, Animal BMX pedals (NEW), Oury grips (NEW), Ritchey seatpost and stem, Truvativ Omnium cranks (46X16), White Ind. freewheel with a fixed cog on the flip-flop side, Panaracer Touring tires, etc.

I am VERY, very anal retentive about my bikes, especially when I custom build them - this bike is solid. It has never been crashed and there are no dents, scratches or dings. $420 FIRM - Please, I am not interested in negotiating the price. Thanks for looking!"

Just a few from last year and this year...


Well, goodbye 2010 and hello 2011.

It's been raining pretty good in NorCal and today I'm a little sick, so here's a few pics from the past few rides. Enjoy!