Tag Archives: road

Water Bottle Cages vs Fancy Socks

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I finally broke down and bought some water bottle cages. People who have ridden with me know that I have a “thing” about keeping bottles on the bike. I don’t like them rattling and rumbling around. I don’t like the extra weight. I’m just not a fan of using my bike as a hydration transportation unit. The Camelback has been a great solution to this issue, HOWEVER, since I have recently started riding with a little more advanced group, I have noticed I am the only one running a hydration pack and baggy shorts. I’ll solve the shorts issue later, but for now the hydration pack issue is solved. Along with the cages and bottles, I’ll also be running a very small under seat bag, with a tube, tire lever, patch kit and 2 c02 cartidges. Even with two full bottles and all the repair gear, I’ll be carrying less weight than when I use the Camelback, since I carry a grip of tools and a pump in there. I’m going to be travelling lighter but definitely riskier if I flat. I’ll take the chance. BONUS LEVEL: cages were $4.79/ea…70% off list.

The cages look pretty rad, but I tossed an empty bottle in one and I already feel goofy riding with it. This is what my bike will feel like to me when I have both filled bottles in play:

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In other “new gear” news, I got some rad socks. I am assuming that Davis Bicycle Club is purely fictional, but I love the font they used. I really bought them for the “On Your Left” though…bikey people will get it. Get it?

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Gatorskins Finally

contiUltraThe Continental Ultra Sport tires that came with my road bike finally reached the point where I could legitimately justify replacing them.  One of the top rules of being a LOW BUDGET SOUL RIDER is that you don’t replace parts for sheer vanity.  You replace them when they wear out, or you break them. So Mote It Be. The rear tire actually had threads showing through, so I figured I was good to finally get some Gatorskins.  I’m not going to lie…I have always loved how they look, and I’ve wanted a set forever. All the reviews I read said that the Ultra 4000 was better, or at least more preferred by the high performance set.  But the Gatorskins still seem to have a zillion tons of hipster market penetration due to their supposed high anti puncture reputation. The final component that needed to come together for me to plunk down the dollars was a good deal.  REI happened to be having an anniversary sale, so I was able to find them for $37.99/ea! Not the super cool foldable ones, the steel bead ones, but that is fine with me, I don’t need an extra tire that I can stick in a pack or jersey pocket at the moment.  I opted to go with 25c instead of 23c…hoping to get a little more comfort without gaining too much rolling resistance.  I’m sticking to my polan of only riding the fixed gear during the week, so I won’t really know how they ride til this weekend.

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Flowery Branch Criterium 2013

IMG_0034Headed over to downtown Flowery Branch to check out the first of two weekend criteriums that are part of Dingo Race Productions Dingo Days of Summer Series. I only found out about this race 3 days ago from the local Flowery Branch newspaper. I was hoping that the event would be well attended and go rain free because I’d love to see this be a yearly thing. I also thought it would be interesting to see some actual FAST people blaze around  a course made of streets I am very familiar with.

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Shooting was tough. I’m not anywhere near an expert photog, but I have a Canon point and shoot with “the most manual features you could get on a point and shoot” at the time I bought it. It has enough control over shutter speed/f-stop, & ISO that I can -sometimes- get some neat shots where the background shows the motion and the riders are in focus. Today that was hard though because overcast sky just screws with the camera, ugh sooo bright.

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Pretty sure this was the start of the cat4 crew.

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Tried to get one of those fancy arty shots you see from the big tours when the riders are small but the countryside is huge and beautiful, but hey, this is the FB so it didn’t really live up to the quality you see in the bike mags, aight?

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Found some giant old industrial cement blocks to stand on which allowed me to get a sort of overhead angle of the back stretch. The pace at this section was usually pretty tame as the riders had just come up the only real upgrade of the day and then hooked a 90 degree turn just before here, Strategy seemed to be planned here then applied just before turn 4 and the front stretch, which was blazingly fast. I may not be totally on point here but from my perspective that is how it was going…

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Both shots above from the same corner. For the second one I was laying down because I wanted to get the whole police building in the pic. That place is so Mayberry/Andy Griffith-esque.

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There was a somewhat gnarly manhole cover right in the middle of turn 1 which I am suprised nobody bailed after hitting today. Pretty sure these are the cat3 riders possible mixed with another class. Girl on the front was absolutely mashing it. Stupid white overcast sky.

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Really wanted to get a shot of a long string of riders across the storefronts of the whole block of downtown, but this was about as close as I got. I overheard the owner lady of Sample Pleasures saying that she wished she would have had more notice that this event was happening.  The Calliope Sweets folks and Liberty Candy folks seemed super stoked about the race and the foot traffic it was creating for them. I would love to see this race become an annual event in Flowery Branch, but to do so, Dingo Race may need to think about having some things happening alongside the event that will draw some non-bike people to check it out. One thing that may be helpful would be a printed handout that explains how crits work, primes, the different categories of racers, etc. It was super cool to have a handout explaining all the different kinds of races at Dick Lane Velodrome at one of the big events I went to there. There were still a decent amount of spectators today, but the event does have the ability to grow.

IMG_0112Overall I had a  good time, and I would like to have stuck around to watch the Pros, but I had to bail. The schedule may have been able to been tightened up a bit as there seemed to be a lot of time that passed between races. This gave the riders lots of time to warm up on course, but for spectators if the action isn’t supplemented with something between race action, it can get a little long.

Good job Dingo Race Productions and THANK YOU for bringing an event like this to Flowery Branch. I never dreamed I would see a bunch of road bikes hauling ass up Main Street in a real actual race here, so rad. Hope everything goes well up in Oakwood tomorrow and come back again next year.

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Wind Battler, Charleston Park Cherry Poppin, & St Patty’s Day Hillbombing

First weekend of 2013 where the temps here in Georgia were reasonable enough to allow riding in shorts and short sleeves.

I started it off Friday afternoon with a Wind Battler.  Truthfully, it was not very fun.  Tried some new roads that turned out to be pretty lame overall.  The whole time I was fighting a crazy headwinds it seemed, and I had no energy at all.  The tailwind on the ride back to the car didn’t do anything to redeem the ride. It was so bad that later I went out to Little Mulberry Park to just have an easy spin and try to shake the bad vibes. Ended up riding there after dark, which was fun. At a certain point I kept seeing “leaves” in the middle of the trail, then I noticed that they weren’t leaves at all, they were frogs or toads (dunno which).  Managed to actually get a decent camera phone shot of one, which kind of made a crappy day of riding a little better.

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Saturday I met up with a few riding buddies at Charleston Park. It was the first time any of us has ridden there, and according to the SORBA forum posts about the trail, it isn’t actually officially open yet.

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This was the maiden voyage for Mershon’s new GT Zaskar 29er w a 2×10, and about the third time out for Jay on his Cannondale.  The trail system (about 5.5 miles) looked pretty rad from the map and and we were all pretty excited. I figured we would do it at least twice.

Right away there were issues.  The first 1.5 to 2 miles of this trail are exactly the kind of terrain none of us have been riding at all through the winter.  Lots of quick dips and sharp short but very steep climbs. We all headed in a little over zealous, and the trail quickly knocked us all down to size.  Brian hasn’t been riding much at all through the cold season, and Jay and I have been doing lots of road work with long but gradual grinders of climbs, so short bursts of quick energy just killed us all.  About 2.5 miles in Jay has a big problem with his shifting on the rear, which we could not work out via a trailside repair (more on this later).

The trail started to get a bit  more likeable at this point…longer swoopier sections without so much of the rapid ups and downs.  Jay was at the same place I was the day before though…just no energy coupled with mechanical issues…so by mile 3 it became pretty much a mission of just getting back to the car.  We stay together when riding a new trail for the first time so we stopped a lot to get the group back together.  Mile 4 to 5 was a blast…really wicked downhill sections and I was jumping everything, being an ass powersliding into turns, and hllering a lot. yeah I like to holler when I ride. Must be the beers.

Once we made it back to the car, it was decided that we would transfer to the much more tame Haw Creek, just to log a few more miles. I’ll head back to Charleston Park for a double or triple at some point but today was not the day.

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Haw Creek was just flat, loads of loose dirt now that our area has stopped being the rain planet.  Jay had a corner get away from him on his singlespeed rig and ended up with the first and only blood of the day. Brian opted for a single loop, Jay and I did a double.  Haw creek is ridiculously  short and tame, but hey, we’re not pros and we’re not trying to be.  We’re okay with that.

I did the second pass at Haw Creek on Jay’s mis-shifting Cannondale, thinking I could dial it in while riding with the barrel adjusters, but it just wouldn’t work. After the ride, once we got the bike on his car rack, he noticed that the top cog on the rear was BENT!  Check out how the cogs are squashed together at the bottom of the pic compared to the top.  I have never seen that before. Well, now I have. The folks at REI said they had seen it a few times when jay took the bike in to have it replaced.

All in all, in spite of the troubles, it was still a pretty fun, but short day of riding.

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Sunday, I headed to Jays hut for what I thought was going to be a casual chill road ride,  just to get past the  record setting amount of beers I drank from the night before.  Turned out to be quite a bit different. Couldn’t help laugh that I had actually done all my weekend drinking before St. Patrick’s Day proper. There would be no beers today. I did manage to wear some green though.

We headed out and about 2 miles in Jay says “Around the corner is a hill I have wanted to do but last time I tried it I didn’t make it.”  So of course we headed that way.

It was a pretty decent hill, and it set the tone for the whole rest of the ride. Since we were going UP a lot, we were also going DOWN alot, which meant a bunch of rad hillbombing around Roswell GA.  Lately I’ve been digging geting tucked down aero as I can in the drops and hitting light speed on descents, then staying in the big ring little cog as far as  I can powering up the next side.  This ride had a zillion sections just like that.

We eventually crossed to the other side of the Chattahoochee River and headed down a cool side road towards a ranger station/park entrance.  It was on this section, just towards the end of the road, that we encountered the sickest climb section of the day.  It was hellish, and I had to resort to the full granny.  It was only about 1/4 mile, but it was 8% avg grade and at the tail end a series of lengthy grinders that left you with just enough of a descent to catch your breath before you hit the wall.  After that, the Welcome Center / Ranger Station provided a much needed break.

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The way back was awesome though, more crazy highest gear spun out hillbombing in the drops.

All in all it was a great weekend of riding, and it looks like this summer I will actually be able to count on doing some rides with Jay and Brian, as opposed to the last few years which have been pretty much solo.  It’s hard to find folks for me to ride with because most people are waaaay faster & fitter than me, and those that aren’t tend to be waaaay slower.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  I’m not quite at the level yet where I can confidently join up with one of the local group rides, but I’m def ready to step things up some and start riding the big boy roads and trails.

Easing in as I would say.

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Milestone: Scotty gets a Flat

Took advantage of the small window of good weather to log some seat time with Scotty, my road bike. Got to the furthest point away from the car that I intended to go, and immediately got a pinch flat.

Didn’t even see the rut in the road. I was in the middle of a cool new park I discovered, which is actually closed for the winter (for cars/campers), but you can still bike in by going around the gate. It was a beautiful day, and the park is right on lake Lanier, so I was gazing around not paying attention while hurling down a hill.  Yeah, I didn’t see the rut, but I def felt it.

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After stopping at the very far end of the park so Scotty could get an Instagram Glamour Shot, I hopped back on to head out and discovered the flat. Dug around in my bag to see if I had a 700c tube, but no luck. I did have 3 c02 cartridges/pump though.

At first I started to walk back to the car which was several miles away. After about a mile I got tire of the cleats grinding on the asphalt, so I decided I would try to make it as far as I could by using the c02 and hauling butt.

Used only about half of the first c02 cartridge, hoping to stretch them out, and made some good time pretty much to the top of the first decent sized hill. At the top, I used he rest of the cartridge, which was quite a bit, and big ringed it for the rest of the way.

I actually made it back to the car on a single cartridge! 

Actually, I had enough air left that I took a quick loop around the front of Historic Downtown Flowery Branch just to add a little length to the ride.

Def had fate on my side this time around, but I won’t be riding the road bike again without a couple of spare tubes and a few more cartridges. Whew!

What’s your worst “flatting during a ride” story?

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Ceramicspeed Derailer Pulleys

At $252.95, these derailer(sp?!) pulleys are def the “Dramatically Overpriced High End Audio Cables” of the bicycle world.

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Buy them at Jenson USA before they run out.

Ceramicspeed, if you folks would like to send me a set of these to test and review, I’d be glad to give ’em a whirl, and return them afterwards. Message me if you’re down, aight?

FULL DISCLOSURE: I do think precision pulleys are rad, and I stumbled across these while searching for a swanky anodized set for my new road bike…but $252.95? C’mon now.

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New Bike Day!

Finally, after a zillion years of putting it off, I bought a road bike!!

2012 Scott Speedster 50 (S50)

scott s50 2012 new bike day_cropNow I know it isn’t as fancy schmancy as your bike, I mean hell, your a pro and I’m just an average schmo tooling around slowly. But I love this ride regardless of the lack of Dura-Ace and carbon niceties.

I got a very sweet deal on this bike at Adventure Cycles in what I believe is Braselton GA, but could also be listed as Flowery Branch…they are sort of in the no mans land in between the two.

I’ve already taken it out for a short, flat ride to give myself a little practice with clipless pedals, which I haven’t used since about 2007.  Managed to do pretty well with them so far, thanks to some excellent friends who have flowed me some hand me down gear.

This bike has “st-2300” model Shimano shifters which I swear have had a zillion miles of play engineered into them in order to make them the low end of the line. You have to push the lever like an inch to the side before it engages, and downshifting with a thumb clicker is just not stealthy at all. But I’ll make them work, at least for the first year. My last experience with STI was Ultegra, the very first year they came out. Even though that was a zillion years ago, it was hard to make the backwards jump.

What I needed was a good entry point to road biking (again), and I am pretty sure I made a good choice here. I’m always low budget, high style. Can’t wait to log summer miles on this bad boy…or is it a girl? I haven’t had enough time to feel out it’s personality and give it a proper name.

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Lights Ferry Masher – Strava Segment, Flowery Branch GA

Created my second STRAVA segment…a fun little grind just short of a mile, not too steep but it’ll make you work for it.

I’d post the full dealie here, but WordPress does not allow iframes, so you’ll have to get clicky with it. Make sure to have at it next time you are riding through Flowery Branch.

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STRAVA stats for 2012

Add me to your STRAVA friends

A lot of riders on STRAVA might log in a single month what I logged all year (6 months actually, started logging in July) and I am fine with that. What I would be really bugged out about would be if I had no stats at all to show. I decided that for 2012 my strategy was going to be to ride and have fun, and not worry about keeping stats as I had in years past, but when I found out about STRAVA, and how easy it was, it was impossible not to get on board.  I had the crazy good time riding in 2012. My only goal for 2013 is to have even more fun than I did the previous year, but of course in the back of my mind I am already starting the race to beat my 2012 stats by the 6 month mark.

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HOW DID YOU DO IN 2012? TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BICYCLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, STATS BASED OR OTHERWISE!

Add me to your STRAVA friends

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gettin fixed

It’s been 6 weeks now since I built The Fooj. It’s the only bike I’ve ridden since then, as I intended to spend some quality time getting used to riding a fixed gear to see how I like it. Today I finally got out the old Scatmobile for a geared ride, so I’m feeling ready to compare the two.

Getting started riding a fixie was easier than I thought. Sure, it was a little awkward at first, but not nearly as difficult to adapt to as I expected. After a few weeks, I felt pretty comfortable on it, though I’m still leery of emergency braking and taking turns at speed. I tend to ride cautiously near intersections to avoid getting into such situations, which takes some of the fun out of it.

Riding a converted old touring frame has proven to be a bit of a downer. While I love the feel of steel, the long wheelbase and relaxed geometry are too stretched out for my tastes. It also makes it harder to do skid stops or ride no-handed. As much as I love the Fooj, I’m trolling the internets for a tighter frame. I’m not sure I want to go full-on track geometry, but at least to modern road racing geometry.

One of my expectations turned out to be spot on: I’d love the ability to turn the fixed-ness on and off at the flip of a switch. Not gonna happen, but it would be pretty neat. Most of the time riding fixed is very comfortable and fosters a feeling of greater control over the bike. But then sometimes I want to stop pedaling, duck down, and let gravity haul me down a hill at 30+ mph. That’s one of my favorite parts of riding a geared bike.

On the other hand, the simplicity of the fixed gear is sweet. Especially since my gears were acting a little squirrelly today on my road bike. I think it’s time to take it in for a tune-up. I think it has somewhere around 2000 miles on it with nary a problem, so it’s about time. Then again, I bet Bob can help me do it myself. In the mean time, I’m going back to riding the Fooj.

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