Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday Ride: No Drive Style.

Last night, Tom and I... well, more so Tom rallied some of the troops and did a little Wednesday night ride [which worked out great considering, I found out this morning, that the normal Wednesday ride was a no go]... 5 bikes, 6 people... you do the math.

The beast got an unusual late season workout, inspired by Bottke no less. Here are a few photos from it. For all of the pictures check it out here.

If you remember for my birthday I received a bike from a co-worker... Well, if you know me well enough you know that I can't just leave things be and I must alter and tinker. I have resolved that I won't be naming another bike but I must say I was influenced greatly by the new Salsa Fargo...

as you can see...

I'm not finished tinkering yet, but I'm close. Be grateful. Be thankful. Ted said it best yesterday...

'Tomorrow we stop to do something that maybe we all ought to take pause and really concentrate on. Giving thanks. Yeah....there are lots of reasons to grumble. Jobs lost, stocks losing value, and a general fear has gripped many. But, do you realize there are millions that would take your place in a heartbeat? Millions that are suffering far worse fates than you who may have lost part of your retirement, lost a job, or a house. We still are a rich, rich nation folks. In the overall perspective of things, we have so much to be thankful for that we should, and could go on about that all year long. If you are a cyclist, and you can get out on a ride in the next few days, clear your head of all the cultural hoopla for a bit, and give thanks for the blessings you have. Can't think of anything? Here.....let me help you out! Check out that thing you're riding, and think of your ability to ride it. There's two things to be thankful for right there, ya ninny!

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Holiday!'

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

But That's Not What a Road Bike is For...

...Indeed it's not.

The seemingly exponential rise of the sport of Cyclocross in recent years has lead many to believe that Cyclocross, CX, CCX, Cyclo-X, or just plain 'cross;' is a new sport. Indeed this is false. It's older than you!

Cyclocross traces its origins back to the very early 1900s. One of the most popular stories as to how it was formed tells that in their off-season, European road racers in the 1900s would race each other from town to town to stay in shape. The catch was that they could use any means to get to the next town first. This meant cutting through fields, jumping over fences, and running through streams. Since then, CX has grown from an off-season training scramble to an International cycling phenomenon.

So...what exactly is Cyclocross?

To put it in simple terms, Cyclocross is everything you weren't supposed to do with your bike when you were little. It's riding your bike anywhere you have to. Many courses take the racers up and down steep hills and stair sets, across streams, through thick woods, and the paved jungle. Many times the rider has to dismount, jump over an obstacle, and get back on the bike in one smooth motion. As difficult as this is, the pros make is seem effortless. Races are run many times around a relatively short course, and most races take 30 to 60 minutes to complete. As far as the bike?

Well. A Cyclocross bike, to a bike geek, is just plain fun. Wider tire clearance for knobby tires, and cantilever brakes, as well as lower gearing are characteristics that define most CX bikes. Some come with disc brakes, and some even have a single chainring to prevent throwing the chain on the rough stuff. Some even dare go singlespeed.

Cyclocross, to sum it up, rocks your face.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On a Fixie: Knickers

For our next topic in the 'On a Fixie' Series, I will be diving right into clothing. That's right... knickers, man-pres as I prefer to call them. Now, before we get into things I'll admit, my knickers are a normal part of my bike attire and am fortunate enough to be able to get away with wearing them at work.

Sure I get interesting looks from customers when they notice them and yes, I'll probably look back on pictures of me 15 to 20 years from now and say... well, at least it's not neon.

My experience with knicker consists of two different brands. Chrome and Wig, there are number of other companies that offer knickers from Portland Cyclewear or Bicycle Fixation which I hope to one day try both of them to really compare more of them. But for now, the Chrome and Wig brand knicker I believe give enough of review on different takes.
The first pair of knickers I had, I recruited my old roommates girlfriend/now wife to alter an old pair of jeans. It worked but really hasn't gotten much ride time because I invested in the Chrome knickers very shortly there after.

So you might be wondering... why knickers in the first place? Well, they are the best 'casual' rider clothing for cycling. Being a commuter, I don't want to lyrca up just to head to work or get a coffee. I get strange enough looks with my MTB shoes on when I'm cruising around the mall or coffee shop. The first thing that becomes an issue when riding 'casually' is the annoyance ones pant leg getting pulled into the drive train, either staining or tearing the pant leg. Simple solution, cut off the part of the pant that isn't needed so it won't get in the way.

I have found that knickers are perfect for commuting. for warmth on the cooler days and a normal look in the summer months. Most companies offer different summer/winter options. Wool always wins, but I suggest them more for the cooler months of course.

But won't I look like a fool? Yes and no, but you're original. By wearing knickers, it's almost an easy way for people to ask, why you're riding? And then we can continue this little revolution and maybe get another person to consider cycling.

Wait, isn't this a Fixie series? I'll admit none of my reasoning has really explained the fascination with knickers and fixies. Answer. For the hipster, it's either knickers or girl pants. =) Knickers start to look a heck of a lot better considering those 2 choices.

Why Chrome? Well, the price is a bit scary. 140 bones. But it's got a number of things going for them, US of A made, 4 way stretch, excellent sized pockets, and the real sealer... a 'lightly padded chamois', not noticeable when wearing them around when off the bike but very noticeable and appreciated when on the saddle.

Why Wig? $57 online... $65 at a certain shop. This is a great two person operation out of Chi-town. Wendy is the main contact there and shes extremely easy to work with. The Wig knickers are altered standard issue army pants. With reinforced knees and seat. The pockets can hold a u-lock and are extremely comfortable. Of course, they don't have the built in padding but bag for your buck, you can't beat them. I have both the black and green pairs.

Another great thing I've found a use for them is during pre and post race attire. I wore a pair during my warm up lap at the cross race this weekend and we perfect for post race hanging out. Extremely easy to get in and out of, and there is no struggle getting feet through. Not to mention I might be sporting a pair for Trans Iowa. We'll see.

One of the regulars on the Saturday Rides made it to the big time, R2 as he's been referred to in past posts got his Masi on check it.


Well, as I mentioned before this past Sunday I completed my first cyclo-cross race. I use the word completed as opposed to raced or competed for specific reasons. One, I rode, not fast and finished 18th of 23. Fortunately there aren't time posted on the board over at the Kisscross site but there are some good pictures from the race here and some of mine here. Two, for some reason cycling is really the first sport that I love and have very little desire to be competitive. I simply love to ride, I love bikes, all I want to do is finish.

The one story I have to share about the race is actually from where this pictures comes from. This picture was actually taken from the very beginning of the race, granted it's cropped so it's hard to tell this but you'll just have to trust me. I took Geoff's advice and started at front of the line at the start of the C race. The rush of the first start had me going at a pretty good click. The legs felt good, and taking the first dismount and climb up a set of stair steps I hit a straight away and took the lead. Yes, you read that right, I took the lead and pulled a little bit of a gap. I then hit the barriers that you see in the picture and maintain the lead until the final dismount and climb. I then got passed... a lot. As soon as I got on the bike, my legs basically said 'That was fun, I don't hurt but let's just spin a little'. Needless to say my pace slowed. It was great. I might add...

I'm not a sprinter or a climber. But I'll ride and then ride some more... and eventually... if you're patient enough... which you must be since you have put up with run on sentence-writing-style... you'll see me finish.

Which brings me to...

Trans Iowa.

I'm in. Officially. As they say '[Insert choice swear word beginning with an S here] just got real'. I'm a little freaked. Super excited. Bottke is high on the waiting list and hopefully will get in. It'll be nice to have a riding partner although I do know a few of the other guys who got in, I don't know their pace... because remember... I'm not a sprinter or a climber. =)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Simple Joys.

There are a few things that continually make me laugh when I work, and one of those things are when I get the opportunity to put some thing catchy, odd or 'interesting' on sign... My latest conception is above. An old one that have stood out 'Skid on in, we are your fixie shop' and a new one that I haven't exactly gotten the wording down will be some thing to the extent of 'Turning your fatness into fitness'

Today I did my first cross race. It was fun and I'll report fully on that tomorrow morning. But staying on the simple joys theme I was recently emailed from an old friend in Iowa concerning the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and that those in charge are considering not replacing the bridges that were taken out to the record flooding of this summer. For those of you who are unaware of what the Cedar Valley Nature Trail is, it is a 52 mile trail connecting the Evansdale and Hiawatha. It then feeds into the huge Cedar Trails system throughout the Cedar Falls/Waterloo communities.

The idea that not replacing these bridges and essentially allowing this great trail to die is unacceptable. I believe by not replacing these down bridges it will have a greater negative effect than believed, with the loss of potential tourism dollars and trail funding especially to the smaller communities this trail feeds through.

If you are as frustrated by this possibility as I am and want to fight to keep this a simple joy to so many, send and email to the following address expressing your concern:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Saturday Night Ride: In the Land of the Dutch.

That's right.

This weekend, No Drive is in Holland (the one in West Michigan). Why? Well, we really can't answer that until you show up.

So here's the deal:

This Saturday, November 15th. Meet @ 5.30. Ride @6.30.

The New Holland Brewing Co. On 8th St. in Holland. Click here for the g-map.

You and all your real friends, fake friends, Facebook friends, and anyone else you might know.

What to bring:
Your bike.
Some cold weather riding gear.
Lights if you have them.
Some money for dinner at New Holland.

Show up! You'll be glad you did.

Questions, concerns, and/or love notes?
Email me @

Monday, November 10, 2008

On A Fixie: A Case for Cages/Track Pedals

...Props to this guy.

Fixies, as many of you may have begun to realize...are catching on, and one of the prominent contributors this new fixie-fad is the retro/urban throwback status that the bike and its rider attain when seen on the street.

Basically, fixies are cool.

A great deal of the retro-ness (yeah, it's a word, sucka) of any given fixed-gear bicycle comes from the wheels, the paint job, and the drive train. One of the most imporant parts of the drive train, may I remind you, is the set of pedals. The pedals are what connects the rider's legs to the bikes. The engine to the vehicle. THE POWER TO THE STREET.

On that note, one must then be minful of what type of pedals to use. Clipless is one way to go, yes, but many times I find myself riding my bike to a place where cycling shoes don't exactly set the standard for style. Because of this, I often ride in my chuck taylors.

Track Pedals, like the ones on the right, are a great way to get around in style. They provide a stable platform in which to get yo' self up to speed, and one that is generally light enough to not add unwanted grams to your rig, but wide enough to skid all day and night. These type of pedals are great for fixie tricks and the sort, because one doesn't have to twist and snap out of the pedal, just a simple lift of the foot like when you were little. A great set of MKS pedals do the trick, and in combination with some sweet kicks (thats what we call shoes on the street), you'll be rolling in style. Err...riding in style.

What I actually do is use a set of cages, as shown at the left. What these do is keep your foot in the right spot on the pedal, providing they are adjusted right. Too tight, you can't get your foot out; too loose and you may as well just not have them on. They keep your foot straight forward to avoid knee problems, and I like to use them because when I skid around corners, I don't have to worry about my foot sliding off the side.

A drawback to cages, though, is upon startup, I always get angry about having to flip my pedals over to slide my feet in them (it's annoying). So with that in mind, I suppose that the main argument here can be summarized and shortened to fashion on a fixie. I like shoes, and I like it when people can see my shoes, therefore, I hate to wear cycling shoes everywhere.

Gas prices are down. I saw them for $1.95 today.

Riding is still cheaper.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cycling and Celebrations

Well, as my previous post stated. Friday the 7th was my birthday, 27 years old. We had a little gathering Saturday night but there were two things that really made me smile in the last few days.

This first one, a bit awkward I'll admit, on Friday I woke up, laying up in my bed thinking, somewhat evaluating the last year. The ups and downs, the things I've pursued and where life has simply taken me. Somehow in this reflecting moment, it dawned on me. 27 years ago and 9 months ago I won my first race...



Zing! I just went there. Still makes me laugh.

The second thing that has brought a smile to my face [besides all the birthday wishes, and thank you I might add] came in the means of the Schwinn Super Sport you see in the picture above. This was given to me out of the blue by Roon at the shop. Roon simply a great guy and extremely fun to work with, he had brought this in a few nights before and I had mentioned to him that if he ever felt like getting rid of it to let me know, we'd talk. Friday, I get into work and it's there sitting there for me. Not as a birthday gift [he didn't know it was my birthday until later in the evening] but just simply as a friendly jester.

So yes, you might be thinking... what does he need with another bike? And yes, I don't need another bike but... I got it free. She's a pretty one and in great shape. It's pretty much stock, it has a Brooks saddle on it [B15 not 17] and a generator light set. I have no means to get rid of it. But I am going to do a bit of 'tweaking' to it and when I'm finished it'll end up looking some thing like this. I'm currently in search of a silver front rack and am debating making one using this method... any ideas or help in tracking a proper rack down?

Of course, over the course of the next you'll see the transformation. So stay tuned.

Once again, thank you to everyone who sent me emails and birthday wishes via Facebook, it's always difficult to send sincere thank yous and allow people know how much simple messages do wonders, but thank you.

And those of you who are battling the very infectious disease of track bikes, feed the infection by checking out fyxomatosis. 4 out of 5 doctors recommend it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Saturday Night Ride: Adam's Birthday Bonanza

Alright. I'll admit it. I'm taking advantage of the Saturday Night ride and making it a little bit of a birthday bash for myself. I hate doing it but if it gets more people out on their bikes, I'm all for it.

The plan:

Meet at the Burns House at 5:30p.
Ride to Buffalo Wild Wings on 44th in Grandville.
[no reservations will be made so there could be a wait]
Eat and be merry.
Hang out.
Maybe ride to Rivertown for a movie, maybe just ride around some more.

Show up for some, or none. If you care to ride bring: Lock, Light and Helmet.

Email me with questions:

On A Fixie: A Case for Clipless Pedals

The great thing about having another writer and friend who is just as excited about cycling and this little NDJR revolution as much as I am, just in normal conversation, sweet things come about. One of those being a series we're going to call 'On A Fixie', in which we are going to cover a number of topics... from Knickers to Knog, Chrome bags to Brooks saddles, no brakes or odd brakes. It should be fun, maybe interesting. We'll each be taking different topics, probably responding on the other and who knows, it might just break out into a big ol' show down of hipster-ness. Yes, hipster-ness.

The first topic that I'll be handling is advocating for going clipless on a fixie. And so it begins.

The first thing I believe we must understand what draws a person to the fixie or fixie subculture of cycling. For that we will consult a video [beware, PG-13 language to follow].

Ok, you caught me... but this mockumentary and I do apologize for the language but this pretty much nails a lot of things on the head. A few quotes that sum it up well...

'Pretty much the spirituality... if I'm going to ride 20 miles, I'm going to push 20 miles.'

'This type of riding... gets them more in touch with the road and the board.'

It's this that I use as my foundation for the use of clipless pedals for fixies. There is a fair amount of truth to the amount of control, feel, 'intouch'-ness with the bike that occurs when one goes fixie. By clipping in, this feel is greatly increased for the simple fact that as a rider you become one with the bike. Fully engaged with the rear wheel and mass of the bike. Sure laugh about what I just wrote but why is clipless used in other aspects of cycling? Efficiency and control.

Now of course there are plenty of options in using a clipless system. Let's examine 3 basic options:

The first choice would be what is called. The 'Eggbeater' by Crank Brothers.
This is my pedal of choice but not what I would say would be the first option for any cyclist just getting into clipless. Why? Sure, it is a 4 sided pedal making it very easy to clip into but with the lack of any real tension control as compared to the other options it does not make for a very good learning experience, since most will have a close call with falling when first engaged into the pedal.

The second option would be the Shimano SPD. This is my favorite for beginners. It has a number of things going for it. There are many options for style with different platforms and styles, in addition if you are into spin classes you are able to sport the same cleat/shoe and clip in at the gym. This has the tension control that the Egg Beater lacks which allows for a rider to easy get in and out early on when they hit panic mode at stops.

A third option would be the Look or traditional style road pedal. The draw of this style is the fact the the pedal does provide a large platform for the shoe but at the same time restricts the type of shoe you can use, simply a road shoe which is not walkable at all. For everyday uses the type of shoe alone is not very walker friendly and definitely risk falling when walking on tile flooring. This style does have tension control which is nice but not necessarily as easy to get out of as the SPD.

Sure there are a few other styles from Speedplay and Time but for the most part this are not systems that would be all that great for a beginner to get into for everyday or fixie riding for one reason or another. Any local shop should be able to walk you through what pedal/shoe combination will best suit ones needs for riding but 95% of the time, I lean straight to the SPD style.

It's difficult to fully advocate for going clipless on a fixie because of the urban setting and versatile usage of both the cyclist and bike. I will never go away from it, but I'm fully willing to sacrifice sporting my bike shoes over wearing my Chucks or New Balance. Function or Fashion? That's really where this argument will end up landing.

I mean, come on... you could always just wear Lycra and be a 'real' cyclist.

Monday, November 3, 2008

[Frustration] and the Art of Bicycle Maintenence.

Beauty, right? wasn't always that way. Let me tell you a short story.

Once upon a time not so very long ago, I decided that it would be beneficial (and fun!) to take apart my new Rig. Clean it, lube it, spit in it, on it, and maybe switch out a few parts here and there...the "works," if you will. Soon afterwards, I found myself in Adam's basement late last Thursday night, taking it apart with a little bit of McDonald's and some imagination in our hands.

Why not Put a different crank on?

Heh. The rest went as follows:

Crank Removal-Success
Bottom Bracket Removal-Success
Eccentric Removal-Success
Grip Removal-Sucess
Exchange of parts-Success
New Grips-Success
New Crank-Uhhhh...What?

As it turned out, there was a slight side to side play in the crank when we installed it (not good, amigo.) that we didn't expect. So what did we do? We Postponed 'till Saturday. What happened Saturday? We used spacers. Still play. More spacers. Still play. Even. More. Spacers. Still the SAME amount. So, after two trips to Alger and some coffee, we rode.

Ticked off, I might add.

...The best part? The only thing we had to do was use no spacers, as Adam discovered later that night in a near insomnia-stricken daze. And now it works.

On the lighter side of things, I was surfing the web as my usual Monday pre-work routine would have me, and I came across quite an amusing Video.

Check it out.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rock the Vote

To shave? Or not to shave? That is the question.... You decide.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Somewhat Impromptu Saturday Night Ride.

That's right... after a day consisting of sleeping in, working on Tom's bike, a quick trip to the shop, a little more working on Tom's bike, another trip to the shop, coffee to get one's mind off of working on Tom's bike, then back to work on Tom's bike again...

We rode. F-squared [i.e. Tom's special lady friend], Tom and myself did a little ride...

A few pictures... Tom will give a fine explanation onto what we have encountered with his bike once we finish I'm sure.