Now that school has wrapped up for the summer and my family and I are now--mostly--settled in our new home, I figured it was time to go explore the surrounding area for some riding.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The weather was exceptional on Monday. Even when the sun went down I still found it delightfully warm. All day long I wanted to ride, and here I was, sitting on my bed at 10:30pm, wondering if I should suit up, put lights on my bike, and head to the hills. Finally, my desire to ride got the best of me. I got dressed and went outside to get my lights sorted.
After digging around for quite some time in the dim light of my garage, I found both the light head and the clamp to get it on the bar. 15 minutes later, I managed to scrounge up enough small rubber shims to actually give the light a solid fit on my handlebar.
Then I realized I needed to head back in to fill my water bottle.
Back outside, I realize my rear tire is sitting at around 6 PSI. I pump it up and shoe-horn my Jekyll into the back of my Cruiser. As I heft it, I think, not for the last time, that I wish I was on my old F4000—it is so much lighter. (However, for some reason, that bike has enjoyed a nice run of ripping valve stems off the front-wheel inner-tubes lately, so I’m back on the Jekyll. (No tubes = no torn valve stems!))
I climb in the Cruiser and realize I don’t have the right keys. Back inside to get the right keys.
By the time I get to the trailhead, it’s around 11:30pm.
My ride begins normal enough. Sure, I’m looking over my shoulder every few seconds to see if I’m about to be attacked by a Mountain Lion, but that’s fairly normal when I’m out riding at night alone. Actually, though my bike was riding well and the air was cool.
There’s a section of trail at the beginning of Dragon’s Back that’s fairly challenging. It isn’t that I can’t clean it, it’s just that sometimes I don’t, and I always have to give it my full attention. Perhaps I didn’t give it my full attention last night because part of my attention in a night ride is always devoted to watching for Cougars.
Part-way up this short section, I lose my momentum on a large, loose rock and put my foot down. My right foot. Only it slips (it’s steep there) and I find myself in the bushes next to the trail. That’s fine, I get up, clip in, and start up. Only it happens again and I tip the other direction. I fall to my left.
My left foot doesn’t leave the pedal (Egg Beaters) for some strange reason and so I catch myself with my hip on the rocky trail. Ouch. The pain is very brief and quickly gives way to frustration. I now decide a do-over is in order. Back down the trail, turn around and…
Let me check that cleat on my left shoe. Everything Tight? Yep. Both bolts are in there? Yes. Okay, weird.
Back up the trail. This time, I’m going faster and I’m full of a little more angst. I hit a rock, my rear tire slips out and I fall to my left again. Ouch, again. I’m lying there in the trail and my shoe refuses to detach itself from the pedal. Huh.
Evidently, tonight is not the night to ride Dragon’s Back.
That’s fine, I have loads of trails at my disposal, and there are plenty more available from this very spot. I’m off down the gravel road towards a sweet bit of single-track that used to be the location for a weekly evening race. As I flow through the twisty single-track, I’m not really watching the trail any more than I have to. I’m trying to see if I can pop my left foot out of the pedal. I mean, my right foot comes out with ease. Can’t get it out. Period. It’s stuck.
Another tight corner and I’m at the cross-roads. I can climb up to the fire road above (and another network of trails), or I can loop around and start the race track again. In lieu of either, I decide to sit down at the crossroads and trouble-shoot my shoe.
I’m amazed that my shoe came off the pedal before my ankle broke. I wasn’t sure for a minute there. I sit down in the dark, turn over my shoe and …
No cleat. None. Wha…?
Okay, so, it must have popped off or something. I start digging through the late-Spring growth on either side of the singletrack and I can’t find it. Of course, it’s after midnight, and even with my bike lights, there may be no way for me to find it. I happen to glance down at my bike and there it is.
Still attached to the pedal. I examine the shoe again, no broken sole (which is remarkable considering how old they are). The bolts, still in the cleat, also look fine. Strange.
So, with the bolts trapped in the cleat attached to the pedal, and no way for me to get it unstuck, I pack it up and coast down the mountain to head for home.
1) How did the cleat come off my shoe?
2) Why was the Egg Beater so tenacious in holding on to the cleat?
3) How could a cleat that was so solid suddenly detach itself from the shoe like that?
4) Does the fact that my shoe escaped unscathed mean I can’t yet justify another pair?
I think these photos speak for themselves.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
I remember Bontrager parts back when Keith Bontrager started making them. It was very cool stuff. Once Bontrager was purchased by the Great Trek Bicycle-making Conglomerate, I kind of lost track of them. At that point, they became run-of-the-mill house-brand OEM parts to me. Sure I knew there was nothing wrong with them, but I never saw anything interesting, either.
Maybe my impression of the parts was accurate at the time. I'm not sure it is now.
A few riding buddies of mine ride various bikes made by the Trek congomerate. I noticed they always had nice-looking Bontrager components. I figured the "XXX-Lite" line was probably pretty nice, but again, I wasn't excited about it.
Am I the only one who has largely ignored this parts-company-within-Trek?
Then, the other day, I was wondering how Ricky's road bike could be so light. After all, he was only running house-brand Bontrager XXX-Lite wheels with other matching Bontrager parts.
So I did a little research and found their stuff is really light. I mean, crazy light. Now granted, light doesn't always mean good, but consider this: The people I know whose bikes came with Bontrager parts haven't replaced them. And I know some fairly bike-abusive people.
They also look to have some nice road tires coming out. The R4 Road tire utilizes 220 tpi casing and weighs a paltry 165g for the 700x23c version. They also have an interesting sidewall design that fits around the bead of the rim for a more seamless sidewall/rim interface--supposedly great for improving aerodynamics.
For wheelsets, they have an impressive array of carbon-rimmed clinchers--though, they aren't priced like house-brand wheels. They even have carbon clincher mountain wheels (26 and 29-inch varieties).
I admittedly have very little experience with Bontrager parts, but I'm definitely going to do some investigation the next time I'm buying.
Go check them out at www.bontrager.com and let me know of your experiences/impressions/feelings about Bontrager.