Let me get this off my chest... I don't buy into the hype of the 29er wheels. For one thing, I'm not all that tall--I'm 5'8" on a good day. If I stretch.
For another, they move the largest chunk of rotational mass further away from the axis of rotation. Look at this equation for the rotational inertia of a hoop:
'I' is the rotational inertia, 'M' is the mass of the hoop--I'm simplifying here, you understand--and 'R' is the radius or distance that M sits from the axis of rotation. Now, if we are comparing a 29" wheel to a 26" wheel, we can ignore the contribution of the hub--it's the same for both wheels--and mostly ignore the spokes--they do contribute, but very little. Let's also assume that the tires and tubes and rims weigh the same. They don't, the 29er Rim/Tube/Tire combo weighs more, but it helps simplify things here a little.
Now, we've reduced the equation to just looking at the contribution of 'R'. If a 26" wheel has an Effective Radius of 13.25" and a 29er wheel has an Effective Radius of 14.25", the smaller wheel will only have approximately 85% of the rotational inertia of the larger wheel.
"That's great" you say, but what does it all mean? I means that you will expend less energy--roughly 15% less--to spin up the smaller wheel. A different equation shows that turning the smaller wheel requires less energy, as well.
This was a very long way of saying that with my short legs, and the slower feeling wheels, I've never been interested in riding a 29er for any length of time. On shorter rides I've always felt like I was perched way up high on top of the bike, rather sitting in the bike, if you catch my meaning.
Then I got a call from Tony Ellsworth. He's roughly my size and rides an Evolve--their version of a 29er. He gave me my choice of reviewing an Epiphany--5.25" of travel, 26" wheels--or an Evolve--4" of travel, 29" wheels. I chose the Evolve.
I figured that he can ride any bike he wants--it's his company after all--and he rides a 29er. And, if I was going to bash 29" wheels, then I better use them on my trails, the same ones that I ride my own mountain bike.
I received the bike yesterday and, after putting it together, took it out last night on a ride that had quite a bit of up and down. In short, I had a blast. Now, riding a new bike is always fun, so after I log more miles I'll share some more thoughts about it. But, needless to say, I might, might, be... not wrong so much, but... well, missing something that doesn't fit into the math.
We'll see. And, hey, if I'm wrong, I'll admit to it publicly. Total transparency here, folks.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Let me get this off my chest... I don't buy into the hype of the 29er wheels. For one thing, I'm not all that tall--I'm 5'8" on a good day. If I stretch.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I think I could safely make the argument that even if you really like your job, you'd rather be out riding your bike. I mean, who hasn't dreamed of the life of a pro? Long days in the saddle--every day! A massage and a nap in the afternoon. What could be better?
Alas, I sit in the office, stealing glances out the window at the sunshine and the mountains--ever present and inviting. Of course, this just makes the day go by all the slower. My best hope is always to just make myself so busy that I don't notice what I'm missing outside.
Lately, however, I've found the perfect remedy: the Lunch Ride. I'm almost filled with guilty pleasure when I see people file out of the building for lunch as I throw a leg over my bike and head out. For an hour (or two), I've totally put work behind me and I'm free. I'm on my bike and, get this, it's the middle of the day!
Yesterday, a co-worker and I got a late start, but I had no meetings planned until 4pm--not that I would take that long of a ride or anything. It started out simple enough. We were on the first leg of a difficult, but not too long, loop. There was lots of climbing with a fun descent at the end.
Except at the end he said, "Why don't we turn and head up the canyon some more. Then we can drop down and head up the other side."
"Sure," I said, willing myself not to look at my watch. Heck, if he could be gone for that long, so could I.
And so it began. At each point when we could turn and head back, or add another loop/section of trail. Neither of us was willing to call it a day--or admit we were tired. That is, until we were both cooked with a further 2 miles to go. We could either climb up and over a pass or just take the 2 mile route around--that had less climbing and was shorter. At this point, I was totally out of water and the 85-degree weather had turned, somehow, into 150 degrees. Or so it seemed. We took the short route.
When I got back to the car, I checked the time. 3:15pm. "Hmm, that'll be a hard one to explain." I thought, "At least I'll make my 4 o'clock meeting."
But, no matter what happened the rest of the day, I was ready. My legs were tired and I had a mild sunburn, but I was ready for "work".
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
After what seems to be many, many false starts, Summer is here in Oregon. Sure, the local peak still has some snow on it--odd for a 4000 ft mountain in the end of June--so the local trails aren't all open, but most of them are and are in fantastic shape.
Add to this that the increase of bicycle traffic has led to slightly more considerate drivers--so it appears, anyway--and even road riding is more appealing.
What does all this mean? For one, it means that I have more trouble keeping my mind on the task at hand at work. My office window looks out on that aforementioned peak and I find my self staring out thinking about the trails there, or the very good roads between here and there.
This is also giving me motivation to get my sorry butt out of bed in the morning and actually get a decent ride in, rather than just slog straight in to work.
Yesterday, I rode in off road. I used to do this quite a bit, but life intervened--as it is wont to do--and demanded that extra time that that particular route takes be used elsewhere. Yesterday, though, I made the time. I got up extra early and headed into the hills. Birds were singing and the hills were alive... wait, no. This isn't a musical. What I really heard, more than anything, was the crunch of the gravel under my tires and my labored breathing on the climbs and the crunch of the gravel and the wind whistling in the ears on the descents.
I rode on gravel roads. I rode on Single Track. I didn't deal with traffic for the first half of my ride to work.
After work, I had to run errands... something that I am loathe to do on the bike for the simple reason that I don't like to lock it up outside. You see, I am of the opinion that there is not a lock made that can't be broken. If you like your bike, don't leave it outside. But I digress.
I ran my errands, keeping them as brief as possible, and just enjoyed being outside. It was fantastic.
I'll have to not let a little thing like Time get in my way again. Or errands. It seems that my bike was safe enough for the short time I left it. Who knows, I might even put a rack on it!*
Friday, June 20, 2008
First off, a big thanks to those of you who participated in the The Quiz. It turns out, as you'll see, that most of you know how make the ever tricky left hand turn. The results were as follows:
88% use the left turn lane if the light is red.
86% use the left turn lane if the light is green--though some of you that used the turn lane when the light was red, didn't when it was green.
8% didn't use the turn lane when the light was red, but had an explanation--though some didn't leave a comment explaining what that explanation was.
11% didn't use the turn lane when the light was green, but had an explanation--again, some of you didn't actually say what the explanation was, though I suspect the explanation was similar to the comments that were made.
3% of you go against the flow of traffic, whether the light is red or green.
Due to rounding errors, all numbers are +/- 0.5%.
Frankly, I expected fewer to use the lane, based on my observations, but happily I am wrong.
In preparation for this post--so I don't look like an idiot, really--I grabbed the Oregon Bicyclist Manual from the local DMV. I wanted to verify that the proper way to make the left is using the turn lane. This is what they said, via an image:
Granted, in this illustration, there is no dedicated left turn lane, but as you can see, there are three acceptable methods. The first is the answer I was looking for with my quiz. The second is one that many of you use and commented on. The third is just fine, but the cyclist must yield to any pedestrians. I did not know that either #2 or #3 were ok in the eyes of john law.
Next up, choosing lanes:
Here, they show that the preferred method is using the left turn lane. But they use this disclaimer: "If you can't make it across traffic to the correct lane, use the crosswalk instead." So, once again, the crosswalk is perfectly legal.
Finally, if you do use the lane, triggering the signals can be tricky at times. Here in Oregon we use an induction loop system. The manual offers these tips. First position your bike like this:
If that fails to trip the light, lean the bike over like this:
Usually, I find that just positioning the bike correctly will work. I've only had to do the lean a handful of times.
By the way, if any of you are wondering what the results look like, Google just plops them into a spreadsheet. I get, in this case, three columns. The first column is a time and date stamp, the second column is the answer given to question 1 and the third column is the answer given to question 2. No other information is gathered, so I don't know who you are or even where you are. It's all pretty anonymous.
I might have to do more in the future!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I know that there are many of you who commute by bicycle. Our ranks are swelling, driven in part by higher fuel prices. This time of year, though, at least here in Oregon, there is always an upsurge in bicycle commuters. The weather is nice, it's a good way to get exercise, and it provides another platform for smugness. It's all win!
However, there seems to be a lack of understanding when it comes to maneuvering in traffic. It seems that many cyclists are stuck in "pedestrian mode" while riding, and this is not a good thing. To illustrate my point, I've come up with a handy diagram and a quiz.
Disclaimer: I'm putting the quiz in here because I really, really wanted to try out Google Docs new forms function. Originally I had planned on telling you the answer, but now you'll have to wait until Friday.
The question revolves around negotiating a left hand turn at an intersection. The intersection is shown below, thanks to the wonders of MS Paint.
The bike lanes are represented by this symbol:
Here is the scenario: You are riding North-bound along B Street at position #1. You want to turn left on to A Street, into position #4. The light for your current direction of travel is red, as is the left turn light. Traffic traveling on A Street has the green.
Here's the first question: What do you normally do in the situation? I'm not asking for what you should do, but what do you really do.
Now, take that same scenario--you traveling North on B Street wanting to head west on A Street--only this time B Street traffic has the green light. Now what do you do? And is it different that the first question?
The quiz is below.
I'll be back on Friday to discuss the results and let you know what I do and what I've observed of late.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I am not a very organized person. It would be nice if I had a spot to keep all my cycling things, but they tend to be strewn around the house a bit. There's a spot in my closet where I keep some of my clothes. There's a drawer in my dresser where I keep others. Another drawer with some odds and ends for cycling (like my Road ID).
In the garage, I have a couple shelves with a smattering of things. Plus, there are some boxes with other odds and ends piled in them. I usually know where things are, but it's usually a precarious situation extracting one thing while leaving everything else in the pile. Lots of times I have no idea just what I have. Today, much to my delight, I discovered that I did, in fact, own another brand new spare tube for my road bike.
Often, however, I'm either going mountain biking or I'm riding over lunch. If I'm going mountain biking, I'm throwing the bike on my roof rack and driving to the mountains. If I ride from work, I'm, once again, leaving from my car. As a result, the items I use most often usually end up in my car.
In my car, I have my mountain shoes as well as my winter shoes. I have arm-warmers. I have a two jackets--one of which converts to a vest. I have a hydration pack. I have pumps--floor and mini. I have about three sets of multi-tools as well as two or three seat packs. I also have a spare handlebar (?) and various tubes that are either blown, or ready to use--not sure which is which. I also have multiple pair of sunglasses and some energy gel. Oh, and I almost forgot: valve stem caps, two patch kits and some tire levers.
Though I find it immensely handy (except when someone borrows my car), not only does my car function like a locker room...
It tends to smell like one, too.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I've been riding bicycles for quite some time now. I ride them off road. I ride them on road. I ride both on and off road on the same ride. I ride often--though not as often, or as long, as I'd like. In short, I am like many/most of you.
Sometimes though, all the riding around my house seems... well, stale. You know the feeling. "Let's ride off road," you say, and then proceed to hum and haw about where to ride. You've ridden them all so often. Ok, you capitulate and decide that maybe a road ride is in order. But you've ridden the local roads so often that it seems like you know every square inch of asphalt and chip seal.
You start wishing, even, longing for someplace different. Someplace new.
Now, there are two types of New Trail, if you will. The first, is rediscovering trails that you haven't ridden in years. I did this on Wednesday. I took some Boy Scouts riding and they wanted to shuttle. The only place near here that you can drive to the top of the trail is currently under snow--this is June right?--so that was out. Fortunately I remembered an off-road motorcycle area that has a decent network of roads. Good enough that we could get within a quarter mile of the top.
I hadn't ridden there for more than 4 years.
I had a blast. I remembered why I liked riding there in the first place. The trails were technical, abundant and fast! I'll be returning.
The second, and more important, type of new trail is trail that is entirely new to you. You have never ridden it. In fact, chances are you just became aware of it. It might be local, or it might be a short drive. It might even be a long drive. The point is, this will be dirt that you have never before put a knobby tire.
Tomorrow, I hope--if the planets align and the gods are smiling down--to ride a new trail. This new trail will be about 20 miles long, placing it in the ball park length of the highly esteemed McKenzie River trail (26 miles) and the fun Waldo Lake trail (23 miles). I am giddy with anticipation.
I'll take pictures. I'll report back. I might not be able to wipe the grin from my face for the rest of June.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Sometimes it seems like I do things backwards. For example, Ergon made a name for itself making ergonomic grips--available in multiple sizes--and then they came out with the backpack. We, naturally, reviewed the backpack first.
Now, however, we're taking a look at the product that put Ergon on the map, so to speak. Last week I received the GX2 grip with the magnesium bar end--it's also available with a carbon bar end, or no bar end.
The bar end can be rotated independent of the grip. The bolt that tightens the bar end also prevents the grip from moving, sort of like a one sided lock-on. Until the bolt is tightened, the grips are easily slid into place. Because of this, installing the grips is a piece of cake.
The grips are firm and are on the thin-ish side--except for the wing bit, naturally. My first impression of the bar end is that it is just big enough to be useful. Since I'm coming off of LP Composites Grips bar ends--big huge potato looking things that fit so well in my mitts--the smaller Ergon ends will take some getting used to. I'll let you know how it goes as I get more miles on the GX2.
Monday, June 09, 2008
I've always known that I should stretch before and after exercise. I don't do it. Of course, that isn't the only reason why my legs get sore. I mean, they're bound to be sore when I'm strengthening them. It goes with the territory. Here's what I want to buy today, though:
A full-time massage person (masseur/masseuse?).
End Note: We mentioned Chain Love last week. Great site. If you're like me at all, you can hardly let 5 minutes pass between refreshing that page. And I thought I was addicted to Steep and Cheap. Chain Love is twenty times worse for me. And, when I'm not looking for the next good deal on it, I spend my time wondering how I'm going to pay for the stuff I will buy.
While looking at the site this morning, I noticed a brand of road tubes I hadn't seen before: Cutter. I couldn't find any information anywhere else on the web relating to this brand. I can only assume it's a house brand for Backcountry. Has anyone else seen "Cutter" as a brand of cycling gear?
Friday, June 06, 2008
I knew I wouldn't have time to ride today, so after I got up and fed my baby at 4:30, I stayed up and grudgingly got on the rollers. Though I rode yesterday, I didn't ride hard (I got stuck in some nasty clay-mud). Even so, my legs were full of lead this morning. I started doing intervals, but I never really felt like I was getting going like I should. After 45 minutes, my left calf started to cramp up, so I packed it up and got ready for the day. It wasn't much, but at least I got a "ride" in.
I got in to work and trudged up the three flights of stairs to my office. Legs = tired.
After 15 minutes after I sat down, a co-worker--and a friend of Elden--walked in to my office and proceeded to tell me where "we" were going to ride at lunch. Without even breaking stride, he said, "If you didn't bring your bike to work, you'll have to make arrangements." Then he walked out.
I looked up at my board. That ride would be scary. I mean, lots of long technical climbs.
I ran home and got my bike.
I could go into long details about the ride. About how the terribly muddy trails of yesterday (literally), were pristine today. I could talk about the perfect temperature and how the bike (I was on the Look) handled. You've all had those rides. No, the best part was that my legs felt better and better as the ride progressed. The more climbing we did, the better they felt. I practically flew up the upper portion of the ride (the last bit of climbing).
I'm not sure how it happened. I never ride twice in one day. Maybe I should rethink that.
Oh, and one final note. I was so slow on the descent that my co-worker was packed up by the time I made it down the mountain. That's not worth dwelling on though, I think.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
We're heading into prime 24hr racing and NiteRider has introduced two new lights. The first is an interesting evolution of the MiNewt line: the MiNewt Mini-USB. It looks like this will replace the Sol/SolMate line of lights, effectively eliminating NiMH batteries from their LED offerings. Below is a scanned brochure image. While not as good as an actual photo, it's all I've got right now.
The MiNewt Mini-USB will come with a wall charger, but it can also be charged from a USB port on your computer. This--I think, anyway--could be mighty handy for commuters. The output is down slightly from the MiNewt.X2 but the price is very nice: $99.
The second bit of news is that NR is introducing a new HID. I'll wait while that sinks in.
It turns out that Welch Allyn--maker of all small HID bulbs--has been working on the durability. This new bulb is very robust. NR has been throwing them onto the ground while running and hasn't had one break, yet. Not only are they stronger; they are brighter, too. The new light--called the SlickRock 900--will have a whopping 920 lumens. It's battery will not be Li-Ion, though. The SlickRock 900 will use a NiMH battery in order to maintain some backwards compatibility with the older HIDs, enabling an existing owner to just buy the light head alone.
The new lights will be available July 1st.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Ok, it's not really a word from our sponsor... it's just me again.
BUT, one of our advertisers, Backcountry.com, launched a new site. As you may have noticed from their ad over there in the right hand column, they now carry bike stuff in a much more obvious manner than they have in the past. Backcountry are also the folks behind SteepAndCheap.com, a one deal at a time site. Now, they've added Chainlove.com to their family of sites.
Now, before you go clicking that link, a word of caution, put your credit card far away. You've been warned.
The idea is this, there is one deeply discounted item to buy at any one time. The item stays there until it's gone. Once it's gone, you, my fence sitting friend, are out of luck. Here's an example from today:
Chainlove is just bike stuff, whereas Steepandcheap is more for general outdoor equipment, but might still have the occasional bike-related gear for sale.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Last week some friends and I decided to try and find a new--to us--mountain bike route to the top of one of our favorite trails. The trail in question is a very, very fun route down but there doesn't seem to be an enjoyable route up. Now, don't get me wrong, I actually like climbing, so that's not the issue here. I still need to gain the elevation. Rather, I'd like a route that was more interesting. The currently available routes are either short and steep, or slightly longer and made out of HUGE gravel. They're OK once in a while, but we've riding this particular trail quite a bit--it's very, very fun, you know--so the climbing routes are getting a tad... old.
But, I've got that nifty Edge 705 from Garmin, and it's got maps! What can go wrong, right?
The idea was simple. We start the ride by climbing some trail--actually a disused road that is overgrown down to a single trail--cross a creek then hit the gravel road. The climb will be longer, but that's not all bad. The longer the climb, the less steep it is. So far all is going well. The roads we are on are shown on the gps's screen and we are on our way.
At the first planned turn, we move out of the known area--according to the gps--but we still know where we are heading and shortly we'd be hitting a "known" road again. Sure enough we hit the road as shown on the small screen and make the turn we were expecting. Now we were back on the maps and climbing a nice road.
So far, things have been going well. But as we look around, it dawns on us that we aren't where we think we are. Sure, we're climbing at night, but we do enough night riding that this isn't anything new, and besides, we'd know the road we were looking for day or night. And this wasn't it.
After riding for a little longer, C. asks if any of us knows where we are. My reply is that I knew exactly where we were, to within 3ft, but that this wasn't any help. You see, I knew where I was in the absolute sense. C. wanted to know where we were in a relative sense. E.g., we want to be at the top of that great trail--it's really, really fun, by the way--how close are we? While all I knew is that we were on an unnamed road and at position 44.xxxx lattitude and some longitude on planet Earth. Which was nice, I suppose, since we were in fact looking for a trail on planet Earth and not on, say, Mars. But it didn't really help us get to the top of the really, really fun trail.
So, I zoomed out. I found the road we needed--which was not the road we were on--and found a way to get there. Once again, we started climbing. It was a nice climb, really.
Fairly soon, we started seeing intersections we knew. The lay of the land was looking mighty familiar. We were not where we wanted to be. We were near a tough climb that is not near the really, really fun trail. OK, no problem, we do this climb, get to the really, really fun trail and never come this way again. Piece of cake.
As we neared the top of the climb, we were on the lookout for a particular turn, a road--or trail--off to the right, followed by a second turn to the right. We wanted the first one. It didn't exist. As near as I can tell it has never existed. The second right hander did exist... as a single track trail. And we definitely did not want to take it.
We were done. Stumped.
Down the road we went, retracing our route until we reached the point that our off map route of earlier hooked back up with the mapped roads. We continued down the mapped road and in less than 1/4 mile we hit the road we were looking for... below the hill we were trying to avoid.
Sometimes, it pays to have more up to date maps.
Or a guide.