Tour de France and Tour of Utah

Tour de France

If there was ever a TdF with unexpected events, this is it. The tour began with 3 days in England where the crowds were overwhelming and yet were characteristically well behaved.

The days in the UK proved very popular and successful. Unfortunately, England wasn’t kind to one of its favorite sons Mark Cavendish. “Cav” also known as the Manx Missile, who hails from the Isle of Man went down in a controversial sprint to the finish of Stage 1 and was forced to withdraw from the tour.

Before the first two of three weeks were over, GC (General Classification) contenders Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and American rider Andrew Talansky were also forced out of the race from crash induced injuries. Following much of the drama of the pro peloton on social media it didn’t take long to hear a bunch of whining from fans who were decrying that the race was boring. “Without the big GC riders in the race, it’s not worth watching.” To them I simply say, “Whaaaah”. To use a baseball metaphor, calling this year’s race boring is like saying that a baseball game isn’t worth watching unless everyone hits a home run during every at bat.

Obviously, my opinion is different. Now let me remind you again, I am the world’s foremost expert on my opinion, but I digress. What made this tour special and more than worthwhile watching was the hope that every rider competed with. With the big guns out due to injury it was easy to see that everyone thought he had a chance. Why not? The riders left in the race had nothing to lose and the aggressive riding proved that to be true.

It didn’t take long for Vincenzo Nibali to assert himself the leader of the race and dominate the ownership of the maillot jaune (yellow jersey). Nibali was considered a top 10 GC contender but fewer people, other than yours truly, really expected him to podium this year. The race proved to be exciting and full of surprises including seeing French riders claim 2 stages and actually podium this year. For the first time in a long time positions 2nd and 3rd were owned by Frenchmen Jean-Christophe Péraud and Thibaut Pinot respectively.

Tour of Utah

Billed as America’s toughest stage race in America’s prettiest state, the race will run from August 4th – 10th. This year’s Tour of Utah will be the longest stage race in North America at 753.8 miles. The race also tackles 57,863 feet of vertical gain over seven stages.

I’ve been able to watch the first stage of this race and can put up little argument that this race takes place in America’s prettiest state. I’m sure that there’s at least 49 other states that will disagree, such as California (Tour of California) and Colorado (US Pro Challenge) which have wonderful stage races themselves. However the color and panoramas of Utah are hard to beat.

Regardless of what state you hail from I suggest you find the this race on tv and enjoy. Where I’m from it’s being televised on Root Sports, channel 627. If you have Comcast Xfinity (who makes up these words?) surely you can find it as well.

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Of course you can afford that new bike!

This post was prompted by a discussion between an old friend and I as he was mulling the purchase of a new bike. He admitted to having too many expensive hobbies and couldn’t commit. I can’t argue about his hobbies but I can go toe-to-toe with you if the discussion focuses solely on the cost/benefit analysis of a new bike. Heck, I would say you can’t afford NOT to get one……

Let’s start with the no-brainer. If the bike is for transportation purposes, this discussion is mute. It is mind boggling how much money we spend on automobiles in this country. According to the AAA, the average American spends over 9000 dollars a year per car, and that’s just for the vehicle related expenses. That doesn’t even consider the massive secondary costs related to being a car centric society. Here are just a few examples that come to mind:

  • The dollars we spend on highway/road infrastructure is staggering. A close look at the numbers is beyond the scope of this post, but the dollars are measured way into the billions. According to Elly Blue in Bikenomics, the lowest cost of new freeway construction is currently at just over 6 million dollars a mile, while the most expensive is a staggering 1BILLION dollars per mile (Boston’s Big Dig).
  • Travel by car, while certainly not solely responsible for our health care crisis, is not doing us any favors. Who doesn’t wish they had a bigger cup holder to hold that 44 ouncer as you passively roll along the road? What would the same amount of time spent in a car per day do for you if you spent it actively engaged in physical activity as a matter of getting from point A to point B? Of course, this is just those of us that survive. What about the 34,000 lives lost yearly in automobile related deaths? And we can’t even realistically measure the cost of injury associated with crashes-especially when you look beyond mere dollars and cents to the emotional and physical cost of injury.
  • Traffic makes people irritable and cranky. If you don’t believe me, find a busy intersection and camp out for a bit and watch closely as people come and go. Being able to improve our lives simply by “hopping in the car and running somewhere” just doesn’t jive with what I’m seeing.

From another perspective, what do you get when you buy a bike?

  • You give your long-dormant 10 year old self permission to come out and play.
  • You engage ALL your senses during a ride. You are a part of the world, not just ON it. This will affect in ways you can’t possibly imagine…until you try it.
  • Your perspective changes…a lot. This is a whole post in itself.
  • Life (not just human) becomes more important. Since riding by a freshly run-over white-tailed doe with her un-born fawn expelled from her mothers wretched body and laying lifeless beside her, deer crossing signs just arent the same 🙁
  • You get to hang out with awesome people.
  • You get to quit pouring thousands of dollars a year into your gas tank.
  • You can save money on counseling, gym memberships and medication costs.
  • I guess the only question I have is, how can you afford NOT to buy a bike?
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Future Bikes and Concept Bikes – 10 Fun and Interesting Examples

FLIZ pedal less bike

Introducing The Odd, The Crazy and The Inspiring.

Future Bikes: this is the second installment of a 4 part series. What follows are 10 bikes of the future that are either someone’s dream or may actually be in production soon. All are interesting, some are fun, and others are “what?” or “huh”.

The FLIZ pedal less bike
The FLIZ pedal less bike
The Nulla “mminimal”
The Nulla “mminimal”
The Grasshopper
The Grasshopper
The Green Shadow (seriously? doesn’t this look yellow?)
The Green Shadow (seriously? doesn’t this look yellow?)
Taurus Seatless
Taurus Seatless
Chris Boardman Concept
Chris Boardman Concept
Polygon
Polygon
Thonet Concept Bike
Thonet Concept Bike
IZZY Bike
IZZY Bike
Torkel Rend
Torkel Rend

I think that each of these bikes are truly interesting and I hope that you agree and have enjoyed viewing these. Personally I’d like to ride them all, however the one the looks the most interesting to try would be the first, The FLIZ. The two that I’d like to own are the last two, the IZZY and the Torkel Rend.

How about you, which would you enjoy the most?

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A New Bike – Problem or Not?

New Bike

I’ve got the green light to buy a new bike, so no problem, right?

So, I’m in search of a new bike or should I say an “additional bike”. If you stepped into my bike shop, aka “the garage”, you might wonder why. After all there are 8 bikes hanging from the hooks. Yes, that’s a lot of bikes, but they don’t all belong to me.

Melodie’s “Winter Bike”
Melodie’s “Winter Bike”

First off there are my wife’s 2 road bikes; her 80s era Raleigh Scott Tinley Tri-Lite. That’s her “Winter Bike” (See my previous post about “winter bikes”). Second is her 2003 Jamis Quest, her current road bike. Then there is my winter bike, described in the post above and my newer road bike, a 2010 Scattante CFR Elite. We also have a 2003 Burley Tamburello tandem. That accounts for 5.

Well, of the other 3, one is a project bike that I’ll eventually get around to rebuilding and the other 2 belong to my adult kids who are staying with us for a bit. Once they move on to better digs, there will be at least 2 vacant hooks. So yes….I’m shopping for a new bike.

Burley Tamburello
Burley Tamburello

You might ask, “How many bikes does one need?” I phrase my answer with an analogy; the same could be said for automobiles. I have a 2010 Kia and a 2000 Dodge pickup. Yes they both run on gas and get me from point A to point B but they clearly have different purposes. In the same manner, so do my bikes.

Our winter bikes could be considered “commuters”, bikes that we ride when the weather is poor. The newer road bikes (Quest and CFR) are like the fast sports car we take out on the weekends and well…..the tandem could be considered the station wagon we take out when we want to be together.

A loaded what?

WRONG – So much on this bike that the rider should have stayed home.
WRONG – So much on this bike that the rider should have stayed home.

So, the new bike I’m looking for is a ‘loaded touring” bike, which might be compared to a jeep with all kinds of bells and whistles to take me on long trips, even off pavement if desired. With this bike I’ll be able to strap panniers (bags) and other items to specially designed racks over the front and rear tires and basically travel unsupported on bike camping trips ranging from overnight to across the country. The only limit is time and imagination. Unfortunately there is no limit to my options and this proving to be problematic. I’m having trouble finding one bike with everything on it that I desire.

Awesomeness defined

This is how it’s done
This is how it’s done

Let me start by saying that Melodie is unconditionally supportive. She’s awesome that way. Actually she’s awesome in many ways but I’m getting off topic. She knows that this bike will help me fulfill many of my cycling goals, some of which are more than 40 years old, sadly enough.

Ever since I was 14 it’s been my desire to ride my bike from the Canadian Border to the Mexican border (1830 miles) down what is the entire coastline of three states. I’m also very interested in Pacific_Coastother long distance routes; the TransAmerica (4232 miles) route which really has about 4 variations or tiers and then a newly completed route called the Sierra Cascades (2395 miles), which basically follows the mountain route, rather than the coastal route, from Canada to Mexico. I’m excited about this one because it runs right through my neck of the woods, locations that I lived near camping, fishing and backpacking.

Melodie has given me the green light to spend what I feel I need to as long as we pay cash. That’s kind of how we operate and that adds a whole new element to the search, this little thing called “patience”. Whatever I choose to buy will require laying $100 bills on the counter of the bike shop. That causes me to be really, really mindful of what I’m doing.

What this bike should have

I have 3 specific things I want to have on the bike which are:

1. Disc brakes

Disc brakesTypically bikes have caliper type brakes where pads are forced into the rim using springs and cables. These pads tend to wear and come out of alignment causing noise and other problems. It is also possible, while descending long steep grades, to use your brakes so much caliper brakesthat your rims overheat and cause other issues, like warping or blown tires.

While disc brakes themselves can be noisy they don’t easily become misaligned. they have increase stopping power especially with loads and in wet conditions.

2. S&S couplers

S&S Couplers are the brainchild of S and S Machine out of Roseville, CA. These couplers have revolutionized the travel bike world because they allow the frame to be broken into two halves so that the bike can be packed into a traveling case that meets most airline standards for checked luggage. Without that ability, flying with a bike to a remote location can cost hundreds of dollars extra for each segment.

They are expensive, costing between $500 and $700 per bike, plus installation but you can see that within a few years of traveling the return is quickly realized.

3. Internal hub with a belt drive

There two reasons that I really would like to have this setup. It will entail very little, possibly no, maintenance and there is something about these hubs that are very, very cool.

On my road bikes, I generally clean the drive system (i.e. chain, chain ring, rear cluster or gears) every few hundred miles or so. At least after 500 miles I completely degrease the entire system. Doing this while on a long tour would prove to be challenging. A belt drive doesn’t need to be lubricated and thus doesn’t require regular cleaning.

The internal hub, a Rohloff Speed Hub, would replace the regular derailleur style of shifting and again removes maintenance issues. They also look very nice on a high-end bike, which is something that I can appreciate. However, the cost of this system really adds up, somewhere between $1000 and $1500 just for the hub and belt drive. All my wants and wishes aside, it may be hard for me to justify the expense of this.

I’m down to 3 candidates

I’ve narrowed my list down to 3 different bikes:

Surly Disc Trucker

Surly Disc TruckerThis is essentially a Long Haul Trucker (LHT) that is so very popular with many tourists. Its rock solid, handles loads well and is built for longevity.


Pros
  • Price & reputation
  • Bar Con shifters
  • Disc brakes
  • Most shops familiar with bike
  • size dependent
Cons
  • One color option each year (Maroon)
  • Belt drive only after modification
  • No S&S Couplers on fully built bike
  • No options on wheel sizes, frame

Salsa Vaya Travel

Salsa Vaya TravelThis S&S coupled bike is factory ready for travel.


Pros
  • S&S Couples built in
  • Stainless Steel finish (no rust)
  • Scratches will buff out
  • 26” or 700cc wheels
  • Disc Brakes
  • Belt drive modification ready
  • Accepts wide tires (sand & gravel)
Cons
  • Belt drive only after modification
  • No Bar Con Shifters (STI only)
  • Price

Co-Motion Americano

Co-Motion AmericanoThis bike is meets all of my needs except for the S&S couplers. The manufacturer does offer it but an added cost of course, but no other modifications would be needed.


Co-Motion Americano w/ S&S Couplers

Pros
  • Excellent craftsmanship
  • Many custom paint options
  • 26” or 700cc wheels S&S
  • Disc Brakes
  • Made in USA (Oregon)
  • Bar Con Shifters
  • Accepts wide tires
Cons
  • Price, Price and Price
  • Custom paint can scratch
  • Couplers add $700 to cost

A new hitch in the process

Another element to all of this angst is that in my search I have bumped into a few custom builders that can do exactly what I want, but again at a cost – a pretty cost. I may end up talking to one of them. Check out this builder that I found in Olympia, WA just 1 hour south of me. In a perfect world I’d just order up what I want and find out what the cost was later, but that really isn’t realistic.

The search goes on

Somehow I’ve got to sort through this information. I’ve been reading and asking questions of anyone who will listen. But it’s like trying to get a drink of water from a fire hose. What I will have to do is to visit shop after shop and talk with mechanics both young and old. I’m finding that each has an amazing amount of information. Maybe with each visit I’ll get closer to a decision. But then again, after each visit I often leave with a question that I hadn’t considered before. So the search continues on.

Zapisz

Zapisz

Zapisz

Zapisz

Zapisz

Zapisz

Zapisz

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More Innovative Bike Infrastructure for Oklahoma City

Bicycle Lane

Thanks to Bike OKC for a very nice summary of the Oklahoma Bike Summit. This is part two of that summary. Take a close look at their blog for an earlier post on some of the other presentations.

I appreciate BIke OKC’s perspective on the information presented and especially that they focused on ideas that could be easily implemented (low hanging fruit if you will). Dr. Lusk also presented several ideas that would require massive investments…the kind of stuff that naysayers could quickly dismiss as crazy talk.

I would argue that success breeds success….as we get more bikes on the road and the community begins to see the benefit (happier citizens, lower traffic, reduction of parking issues, etc.) some of the bolder infrastructure plans suddenly start to become more realistic.

Ride your bike every chance you get, especially for those short trips around town. Group social rides are great fun but increasing numbers of individual riders are what we really need. It’s also a good idea to have “a talk” ready. Sooner or later someone is going to offer sympathy that you have to ride your bike, or offer you a ride in their car. Seize the opportunity to share the virtues of riding, and encourage them to give it a try.

Originally posted on Bike OKC

Last weekend in Tulsa at the Oklahoma Bike Summit, I attended a presentation by Dr. Anne Lusk from the Harvard School of Public Health.  Her message was that Oklahoma could become home to some of the most innovative cycling infrastructure in the country with a little creativity and great leadership.  I explored the first half of her suggestions earlier this week.  Now, I will present the second half of those suggestions, all of which could be done in Oklahoma City for minimal cost and effort.

Universal Symbols

Universal SymbolsWhen you’re driving down the highway and you need to stop for gas, usually there are blue signs before each exit telling you the types of services available there.  There are universal symbols for restrooms, gas stations, food, lodging, and camping.  Why can’t we use symbols like this along bike paths and bike routes?  This would make it easier for cyclists…

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