"All I'm askin' (oo)
Is for a little respect"
Last night, I was stuck in town until after dark working on a dentist's Treo 700w and, by way of extension, his office PC.
Aside: this same dentist let me drive THIS, while he owned. 120mph without even thinking... wow. But I digress.
Knowing that I would be riding home after dark, I threw lights back on my 'cross bike. Up front I ran DiNotte's Ultra 5W on my handlebars and in back I ran their super-mega-bright tail light. T. was in town late also, so I hooked up with him for some company on the ride home. He was running DiNotte's Ultra 3W on the bars. These are very good lights. As I've mentioned before, they are lightweight, have reasonable burn times and light up the road well enough, if you keep speeds down to under 20mph. We didn't. We were riding downhill at near 30mph -- clearly over running our lights, by a bit -- when we ran over a branch lying in the road. I was drafting T. and he -- at the last minute since he couldn't see far enough ahead to have any warning -- bunny hopped the branch. I didn't see it coming and so I ran right over it. The benefits of large tires cannot be over stated when riding at night, and especially when riding at night faster than your light allow. Shortly after this, T. hits something else -- not sure what it was, but we think it was a rock of unknown proportions -- and flats. No problem, we stop and begin repairs.
Now, at this point in the story you might be wondering what the title has to do with anything. Don't worry, I'm getting to that, don't give up yet.
I leave my tail light on since we are in the dark, on the shoulder of the road where cars travel at 50mph. Now, I should also mention that this was the second time that night that we stopped as I had to adjust my saddle earlier in the ride. Both times, every car that passed gave us a wide bearth, in many cases going into the other lane. This doesn't happen with a normal blinky light, but this is no ordinary tail light.
Is it expensive? You bet it is. Is it worth it? For the respect -- there's the title, in case you missed it -- I get on the road, you bet. How much does safety cost?
Thursday, August 31, 2006
"All I'm askin' (oo)
Monday, August 28, 2006
My wife and kid were out of town on Saturday, so I did what any self proclaimed cyclist would do... I scheduled a long ride. The plan was to take out my 'cross bike and do a ton of climbing. I'd start out in one valley, head over a ridge via gravel roads and trail, then back over the ridge on pavement, then climb the tallest peak on the Oregon coast range. I'd return entirely on pavement. I was hoping to get over 6000 ft of climbing in, and I expected the ride to be 65 miles. That was the plan.
The execution of the plan started well, albeit a little later in the day than I had hoped. -- This is called forshadowing. -- I took only two bottles of water... well, one water the other Cytomax, and I carried some extra Cytomax in a ziplock bag for refill down the road. I knew there was water at the top of the peak, I just had to get that far. My reason for leaving the hydration pack at home were twofold. First, I was using the top bag on the Moots Tailgator so I had plenty of room for tools, food, etc. Second, the shorts I was wearing don't like the waist belt on my hydration packs. It causes the lycra to pile. Since I like the shorts, and really wanted to use them on this long ride, I chose to forgo the pack.
Because of my late departure, I was riding in the heat of the day, and it was HOT! Temperatures ranged from mid-eighties to upper nineties. Fortunately, I was in the shade the majority of the day. I did miscalculate my water consumption, though, which led to my running out of water before the most difficult portion of the climb up the peak. While this could have been a problem, a co-worker lives along the route so I stopped by his house for a refill. As I left, he made sure I had my cell phone with me in case I was near heat exhaustion. I thanked him and assured him I'd just see him on Monday. -- more foreshadowing --
My final climb... see the top? That's my destination. I was at about 1500 feet above sea level at this point.
I completed the climb and felt pretty good, but it was getting on in the afternoon, and I didn't want to be caught out after dark, since I didn't pack any lights. I still had a long way to go. I was 40 miles into my ride, and still needed to return home.
Let me backtrack a little. As far as repair tools go, I packed a multi tool, two patch kits (one glueless and one normal), one tube, one CO2 cartridge, one minipump and tire levers. 10 miles into my ride I flatted. I'm not sure the cause because I couldn't find the hole. No problem, I swapped tubes, filled the tire a little with the pump and finished it off with the CO2. Now, back to the story...
On my way down the mountain, I thought I'd take a road that I have only ridden on once before. This road is behind a gate and isn't well used. I took a wrong turn.
And flatted again.
Now, I had a couple of options. I had some CO2 left, since I seat the tire using the pump, so I could patch the tube and be on my way. I chose the wrong type of patch. I was in a hurry so I thought I'd use the glueless type, and that was my downfall. The patch held while I inflated the tire and for about a quarter mile of riding, then it went POP... pfffffffffffffft. Now, I was in a spot of difficulty. You see, I couldn't patch the patched tube, since the glue from the glueless patch prevents the vulcanizing fluid from adhering the normal patches.
I knew the route I came down, but didn't like the prospect of hiking nearly 4 miles, and almost 1000 ft, just to get back to the a road that was still far from any where I could repair my slow leaking tube. I did not know the area of the forest I was in. Thanks to the sun, I knew which way was north and I knew I wanted to head east, but other than that, I was sunk.
So, out came the cell phone and I called my coworker. He pulled up maps and, to make a long tale shorter, talked me out of the woods. I ended up back near his house, ironically, and he gave me a ride home. I was defeated... this time.
What would I have done differently? I should have packed another tube and another CO2 cartridge. I shouldn't even consider the glueless patches on a ride like this. I should have brought my water filter -- even though I ran out of water, I was near rivers and streams most of the day -- and finally, I should have thrown a light in my pack. These things would have allowed me to end the ride successfully, and would not have added too much weight.
My ride totals were: 51 miles, 6770ft of climbing. Had I finished the ride, I would have topped 7000 feet of climbing and would have ridden over 65 miles. Another day.
One of these posts, I'll have to tell the story of the time we built a fire to fix a flat in the dark. That's a good one.
Posted by James at 7:57 AM
Friday, August 25, 2006
Whew, Jon worked overtime last night and posted a number of my reviews. First up, the oft delayed 105 10-speed review.
Overall, I was very impressed with the performance of the group as a whole. Read the whole thing here.
Next up, Limar's 960 helmet.
It's a really good, lightweight helmet (300g) with quite a bit of carbon fiber, if you are into that sort of thing -- I am.
Finally, the review of the Pit Stop is also up. Despite my first use of the sealant being a success, we only had about a 50% success rate -- that is to say, we had two cans of the stuff and it worked once, but didn't work the second time. More in the review, here.
Posted by James at 9:15 AM
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Ah... the end of summer is nigh. No longer are the days in the nineties, just a mere 85F, and the mornings can be down right chilly. This morning's ride in started at 48 degrees. The other thing that starts to happen is I notice when it gets light and dark, in the morning and evenings, respectively. No longer is the sun up before me. Sure, it's not dark until after 8:30pm, but the days are creeping shorter. Naturally, this gets me thinking of lights. Actaully, I think about lights and lighting options for riding all year long -- I'm kind of nerd that way -- but this time of year, I start to dig out all of my lights and make sure everything is in good working order. I do still ride off road at night 2 to 3 times a month, so I generally have my lights in some state of charge.
That was just a lead in to this:
NiteRider has a new light out. It's called the MiNewt. Evidently they had it at InterBike last year, but I did not see it. That being said, it didn't make it into production -- hence it's not being included in last winters LED light write up -- in that form. After making some running changes, they ended up with this:
I've contacted NiteRider and a sample is winging its way to me for review. I'll post more images and my impressions of it when I receive the light. So far, I know this much: It's an LED that is run at 4W, much like the L&M Vega. It doesn't use a collimator, rather, it uses a reflector and lens. The only other LED-based light that I know of that does this is NightHawk and they only do it with a 1W LED. The run time is 3 hours on high, 6 on low. It's supposed to weigh 227g. It might come with both helmet and handlebar mounts, but I don't know that and looking at the pictures I kind of doubt it. Colorado Cyclist lists it as working on both helmet and handlebar in their catalog (it's not on their webpage, yet), but NiteRider does not. Retail on the light is $159.
Like I said, I'll post more when I have the light in my hot little hands.
Shifting gears a little, I thought I'd update you on my review of the Rock Shox Revelation I received way back in March. I've been reviewing road bike stuff so I have been dragging out this review. What I can tell you is that the fork is very, very smooth. It soaks up anything I throw at it and is very adjustable. This is where I had problems with the fork. I couldn't quite get the setup where I wanted it. Not only can you adjust the compression and rebound damping, but you can adjust -- via a shock pump -- the positive and negative springs. This allows you to get the fork where you want it, but it also allows you to mess things up to the point where the fork doesn't perform as it should. I was changing the settings every ride and seemed to be blowing through my travel without bottoming out. Finally, I called SRAM and they set me right. After taking their advise, and ignoring everything I thought I knew about fork set up -- something I should have done from the start, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing -- I have the fork where I want it. It's really a very, very good fork. I should be able to wrap up my review in September.
Posted by James at 10:55 AM
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Long overdo, I know, but the 105 review is nearly done. It's in the final stages of editing and I expect it to be up either this weekend or early next week.
As a teaser, though, here's what you'll see: I've broken down each component and talked about it's plusses and minusses. The summary to the review then discusses the group as a whole.
I can tell you, I like it. When it comes to road bikes I am less of a snob -- oh, I LOVE high-end stuff don't get me wrong -- than I am about my mountain bikes. I would happily run a bike on the new 105 10-speed group. It works well, looks good and is durable. I'd especially run it on a 'cross bike. The lower cost alone would sway me when it comes to riding in the mud.
So check back here early next week and I'll let you know when the full review goes live.
Posted by James at 9:56 PM
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
When I ride my road bike in to work, I enjoy riding through town. Let me give you some background. Downtown Corvallis is only about 7 blocks long. There are 6 stoplights. They are timed for cars going about 23-27 mph -- it seems to vary a little depending on the time of day. I almost always have to stop for the first light, on the north end. I try and make all of the lights, though sometimes I go a little fast and my timing gets thrown off, or some days I am just going too slow and can't quite make the minimum speed. That's the morning. In the evenings I get to play with traffic, which is it's own kind of rush.
This morning I was a little on the slow side, though I was doing a little over 25 mph. I kept hitting the lights when they were yellow. I went through 3 yellows and was finally stopped at the last one. One of Corvallis' finest rolls up next to me and I give him a nod. Down rolls his window and -- at this point, you see, I didn't know how long he was behind me and didn't know if I was about to get a lecture on running yellow lights -- he says, "I clocked you going 25, that's AWESOME!" He then rolls his window back up, the light turns green and off he goes. That was a good cop.
Posted by James at 8:40 AM
Friday, August 11, 2006
My review for the new 105 10-speed chain and cassette is up and running. Check it out here.
We're taking a sort of piece meal approach with this review. Chain and Cassette first, followed by most of the remaining pieces, the crankset, brakeset, shifters and derailleurs -- this should be up sometime next week. The pedals and shoes will be in a separate review that Jon is working on.
Posted by James at 9:10 AM
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Hills... unless you live in Kansas -- not Kansas -- or some other pancake state, having to climb hills is a fact of life for a cyclist. Not only are we cyclists experts on local weather we are also experts on local topology as well. You can't help it, really, having to use your own energy and muscle to get over the beasts forces you to learn where the hills are, what type of hills they are -- elevation gain, duration, road surface, etc. -- and how to avoid them, if possible. Sometime, though, you have to embrace them.
It happens to anyone who rides enough; sooner or later, you look for hills to climb. Most of the time, when you start out, your goal is to ride as few hills as possible, I mean, who wants to go suffer like that? You begin riding for the enjoyment of riding. Sure, you'll call it exercise -- and it is -- but you'll try and avoid anything painful.
Then, you begin seeing hills as a necessary evil. In order to go down them, you have to go up them. And the downhill is so sweet (whether road or mountain biking). Soon, however, you begin seeing hills as a challange. Just you and the slope, who'll win. Hills still hurt, mind you, but mentally they aren't the road block they once were.
This happened to me this week. I've been upping my mileage because I'm a little, er... stout, and I'd like to change that. Increasing my mileage is usually done by riding off road on my commute more often. I still need to get to and from work, you see. Well, this week, I've been off road every day, until today.
The result of this is a whole lot of steep climbs. The kind of climbs, off road, that you would like to stand up for, but can't because the rear wheel will then slip. The kind of climbs that you have to use all of your will power to resist trying to shift into one lower gear. You know the type. The end result is my looking for hills to climb. Now, I am a much better descender than I am a climber -- did I mention I was stout? -- so for me to look for hills to climb is a big deal. And more so to do it one day after another, when my legs are screaming at me anyway. Well, I did it anyway, and am here to tell the tale, but my legs feel like the title of this blog, full of acid. I'm cooked, well done. So this morning, I did no hills. I rode the road bike in. But this evening... This evening, I'll be on the hills.
This morning T. and I had an altercation with a car. We were riding two abreast on a country lane. A car comes up behind and toots his horn. You know, the friendly beep, beep to let you know he's there. I'm in the lane so I move over to the side. Mister car guy feels the need to then blow by us and pass on a blind corner where, it turns out, an oncoming car is. Mister car guy then cuts us off, pulls ahead a bit, stops, gets out and asks us to stop. He then lectures us about riding two abreast on the road. Bear in mind that in Oregon a bike can take the lane, the whole lane. We try to keep out of the way, and normally check for traffic behind us. Usually there is no traffic since it is early in the morning. This guy as much as admits to 'road rage' while lecturing us, especially when we point out is illegal driving (passing on a blind corner, passing on a double yellow). I just don't get it. We got out of his way as soon as we were aware of his presence behind us. He was inconvenienced for maybe 3 seconds, and then stops us for 5 minutes. To top it off, this guy claims to be a cyclist. Here's his licence plate: 604 CMM. If you live in Corvallis and see this guy, go ahead and show him he's 'number one' with the universal gesture. Thankyou.
Posted by James at 8:48 AM
Monday, August 07, 2006
I posted last week about how T. and I were looking for a new way home through the forest. This isn't to say that our normal routes stink, you understand, just that we wanted to have another option. For fun, last Friday, I added some singletrack in the mix that I normally don't get. While riding this route, it dawned on me just how cool it is to have a forest minutes from my house -- that's minutes by bike you understand -- and that my day job is flexible enough to allow me to take the time to ride in the forest before and after work. So, without further ado, here was Friday's route complete with crappy cameraphone pics. I need to get a tiny camera that I can carry all the time. (Just for fun, I'm doing the images in black and white... I think that they look better than in color.)
The ride began with 8 miles of pavement, followed by a mile of gravel road.
This road took my up for a bit, and then the fun began.
Smooth singletrack, followed by some rougher stuff.
(ok, so this one is in color. The roots didn't show up very well in black and white)
Because of all the road riding, I didn't ride my mountain bike, rather, I took my trusty 'cross bike. It turns out I can ride most of the same stuff I can ride on my mountain bike with my 'cross bike. The difference? I go a whole lot slower and pick my way more carefully on my 'cross bike.
Finally, a last bit of trail and I'm back out to gravel roads.
After this, I was back on pavement for about 3 miles and then home. The beauty of riding through the forest is that I can link up trails for a long ride, or just ride the gravel roads if I am short on time. Either way, I get to enjoy relative seclusion and no traffic.
How is your commute?
Posted by James at 9:09 AM
Friday, August 04, 2006
There is just no getting around using the right tools for the job. This is just as true when working on your bike as when riding it. Case in point, earlier this week, T. and I decided that we wanted to find an alternate route home. As it stands, we've got two routes on the road and two off the road, but the two off-road routes parrallel and overlap each other. This would have been a third, completely different, route home. The idea was good. The problem was the map. You see, it's nearly 20 years old.
The problem area is highlighted in red, while the proposed route is in yellow. We, more or less, knew the area to either side of the red circle. Connecting the two was the trick. Alas, twas not to be. Blackberry bushes and thistle plants -- along with some nasty stretches of poison oak -- made this an unsuccessful scouting expedition. After spending 30 minutes pushing our 'cross bikes through dense stands of trees in an effort to get around the blackberry bushes. We could see where we wanted to go, but could not find a way there. If we had had an up to date map, it would have saved us much aggrivation.
That being said, I am now looking for old maps. After riding the Coos Bay Wagon Road, I am trying to find where other wagon roads went. I hope to piece together some large loops that require 2-3 days to complete with l-o-n-g sections of gravel road or light trail riding. However, the old maps would be used in conjuction with modern ones, so a repeat of this weeks adventure doesn't happen 75 miles out and in the middle of nowhere. It's all about using the right tools.
Posted by James at 10:16 AM
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
I tell you what, what with the new road stuff, and now new mountian stuff -- including their own shocks and forks -- Specialized is prepped to hit 2007 in a big way! (Photo courtesy of Cyclingnews.com)
Cyclingnews.com has a great write up of Specialized's new dirt offerings HERE. Check it out.
Posted by James at 9:48 AM