Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Attack the Pack!

I stumbled across a few videos the other day that are to good not to be shared. The Gray Wolf is my new hero! No front derailleur, do-rags instead of helmets, and an accessory belt that would make batman jealous. I am definitely getting an attack the pack jersey and matching shorts, gloves, do-rag, and aero booties. I also wonder how much T.I. nutrition a.lo could carry on one of those belts? Two gallons of milk, 1 chocolate and one white, is a lot of energy drink. Just some food for thought.

The Gray Wolf inspired my Snowcross outfit this weekend. The only problem was they didn't have Suntram to get me up the hills and I was forced to wear a helmet, which served no purpose.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Recap: Saturday Night Ride.

Saturday night was... cold. Tom ended up riding my winter bike, which he soon found out the hard way that it is tank. Ryan, Michelle, Tom and I met up at the Sparrows enjoy a quick warm up and then headed out. The route wasn't all that long, but given how cold it was and that we rode from the my place it made for a good 15 mile ride.

Just a few pictures from the outing...

Ryan [pictured on the left] is going to be having a pretty sweet Masi going up for sale soon... check out Craigslist for sure, but it will be a steal of a deal for the frame, fork, stem, headset, seat/seatpost/seatpost clamp...

Michelle, or F squared, gets the 'Champ' of the night award. Not only for being the only person with two X chromosomes but also came with her stock hybrid tires on [which we lowered to 30psi to get some sort of traction] and forgot both a front and rear headlight... yeah, watch out she'll kick your... butt.

And then the man of the hour... Geoff, pedicabing around with Tom in the back, not only did Tom score a free ride but didn't even tip [nice helmet by the way!].

It was a good ride, winter riding is always an adventure and always better in groups. Drivers don't get better as the temperature drops [even the law enforcement, but that's a story/rant for another day] but everyone made it home safe and that's all that matters.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mistakes... in pictures.

Not much to say today... but I did have a few mistakes today... 2 points of concern... can you see them?

[the winter bike, she's a piece of... work, but get this job done]

[forgot the leg band]

[with a closer look can you see it now?]

Grand Rapiders... Tomorrow night, SATURDAY NIGHT RIDE @ 8PM, meet at The Sparrows Coffee shop on Wealthy. Leave at around 8:45PM towards downtown... then operation GBK pedicab begins. Be there.

Back on the horse.

Well, I'll admit here and now 2009 has not started off all that strong with getting miles in on the bike for Trans Iowa and for commuting as a whole. Sure, we got a good amount of snow this month along with a nice arctic chill and I did visit Iowa for the first part of the month but really? It's all excuses. Miles need to be had, one way or another.

Fortunately, with such reflection it has motivated me. No more excuses, time to make it happen. And so anyone in the GR area who sees me out in my car, ask me why... please. Not so that I can then attempt to craft my latest excuse but to hold me accountable. Sure, there will be certain days that I need to drive for longer trips, or if I need to pick someone up but my goal from now until the end of February is to put less than 150 miles on the Xbox. I'll update later with the amount of miles I have on it right now.

Anyways. Yesterday at the shop was a big day for most shops. Once the winter lull hits some times the days can drag, slowly running out of things to clean or reorganize but just in the nick of time one company saves the day... In much of the same excitement and enthusiasm of Billy Madison on nudie magazine day, the bicycle distributor QBP sends out there 2009 dealer book/catalog. A giddiness that occurs in grown men that is not the most appropriate to say the least... but if you work at shop, you understand and really... that's all that matters.

One last observation from yesterday. I was thumbing through a VeloNews and there was a picture of Levi Leipheimer that made me realize that he had a striking resemblelance to Tom Louiso, of High Fidelity fame. Dare I say body double? I might be late to notice such a similarity but I'm not a roadie so deal with it!

Tom or Levi? Levi or Tom? Tom or Levi? Levi or Tom?

This might just develop into a new game for me... who might play Ivan Basso? Or good ol' George Hincapie or Floyd Landis? There could even be a MTB verison starring Zach de la Rocha as Tinker Juarez. With cameo appearances by Eddie Merckx and Lance Armstrong.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Personal Law and Order.

Now, it seems that most of my post recently haven't had to do with cycling. Part of me is apologetic for that, part of me isn't. It's just the things that have motivated me to write, but rest easy... cycling stuff to resume soon enough.

Today though, was a day of firsts. If you have somehow found yourself under a rock the last year, today we brought in a new president. Whether you like it or not, if you are an American citizen, Barrack Obama is yours, mine and our president. Our system worked, our country has not split following the election like what sometimes happens after other countries elections.

Although, I hesitantly approach politics on this blog in general, it is hard not to given what at the core of this blog... what a few of us believe can be done by simply riding simple human powered machines. Read the manifesto if you have any doubt on that. It is a movement that desires revolution and with any movement that seeks that, can and does challenge mindsets, worldviews and the politics of many.

President Obama throughout his campaign, in his inauguration speech, in his books has been articulating things that by no means are new but are fresh to American politics, which has drawn in the masses, regardless of race or gender, transcending party affiliation. One of the messages being of hope, and I'll admit here and now, this is what drew me to him in that often I have been overwhelmed by the world that I see... Seeing world events, seeing more hate than love, more selfishness than selfLESSness, leaving me more and more hopeless in what's to come. Obama's words sparked some thing in me BUT still felt disconnected, that these were moreso lofty dreams than potential or coming reality.

Which leads me into another first for today. Jury duty [and trust me where I'll connect these two]. No one likes jury duty, like everyone else I dreaded the hassle of getting off of work and the potential of missing more with less pay and going into it trying to think of ways to get excused. Even sitting with the other potential jurors today before we were called into the courtrooms, many of the conversations were on how they could get out of serving. Which I was equally as guilty of having these same thoughts but after those first conversations, two ladies behind me had a very striking talk [yes, I do enjoy listening in on conversations that I am not a part of].

The two women began talking with the normal small talk and through that it was discovered that one of them worked at a center for adults with special needs and the other had a daughter who I believe had down syndrome. Her daughter has spent lots of time at the center and the mother was very appreciative of all the services, which then lead into story after story of how much the daughter had grown. How much she had been able to learn, how much she is able to learn, how proud of her she was and how she was continually surprising them on what she could do. The other woman then echoed much of what the mother had said... The conversation then turned to how each could see so much potential in people if only they were given the opportunity, if only they were believed in, if someone actually had faith in another person.

All I could do when I was listening to this was smile. This was real hope, hope in some thing greater, hope people regardless of their situation. This was the hope I was trying to grasp. The real deal. And although I don't remember fully all that was said between the two women, I believe their words have both inspired me and challenged me to take steps to really grasp onto that everyday hope as seen in other people and myself.

Amazing what came during a morning spent doing jury duty.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Bikes and beer often go together so well... why? I don't know and this video doesn't help explain it either. But it does make a lot of sense.

Crack Kills.

Apparently there's a new trend in Sacramento, California nowadays. It looks like even cyclists can turn to the dark side of the force.

Apparently a Mr. Lance Brewer was riding his bike around one evening when a policeman stopped him for not having a light on his bike, and found that Mr. Brewer was in possession of some Vicodin. He was subjected to a strip search, and they found some more in his butt crack.

...His crack. Read the story here.

Just goes to show...you should always use a light at night.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Musical Motivation

It's amazing I remembered my password for this blog after several months of reading a.lo and Tom's posts and not contributing I am back, hopefully. A.lo and I started talking about the 2009 challenge and tossing some ideas around and I found the motivation to post up. The first race of the year happened yesterday as Kisscross and the Versluis family hosted Snowcross. I didn't make it to the race but I did make it to the after party of the after party so I guess my season has begun. It sure doesn't feel like the first big race is 3 months away! There is snow everywhere and it keeps getting deeper, riding on the roads is suicidal most days and offroad riding is nonexistent. I have managed to keep busy and somewhat in shape by skate skiing, riding the trainer/rollers, and pedicabing on weekends. With most days spent in my basement spinning like a hamster on a wheel I am always looking for ways to stay occupied and often that falls on the tunes pumping through the ear buds that just so happen to fit nicely into my ears. If you are anything like me a lot of your motivation comes from your trusty ipod, and are alway looking for new music. Currently I am hooked on Jaydiohead, I love mashups and Minty Fresh Beats made a masterpiece combining two very different sounds into an amazing album. I especially like "No Karma" and "Dirt Off Your Android". In addition to Jaydiohead I have an ever evolving soundtrack to my rides. Some of the songs on my playlist illicit an almost Pavlovian response from my legs and lungs. My current top 5 songs to ride to, excluding Jaydiohead and random euro techno, are as follows:

1. Ted Nugent - Stranglehold
2. Eminem - 'Til I Collapse
3. Hollywood Undead - Undead
4. Rage Against The Machine - Calm Like a Bomb(or any RATM for that matter)
5. Kevin Rudolf - Let it Rock

My taste is a bit all over the place, but variety is the spice of life. Check out any songs you don't recognize, and feel free to share anything you think will keep me on the trainer so when I talk about my form round isn't the first word I use.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 Dreams... Bikes

As with any turn of the calendar to another year, resolutions are had, dreams are made as we look out to the coming year... at this point, is full of potential. It may not come to any surprise but since the 2009 bikes started to be released back in August anyone working in a shop started looking for when these new models might come to be. Other than the release of the 2009 bikes, I think there might not be more excitement around product other than when the new QBP catalog comes in.

A few bikes across the industry have caught my eye, granted the likelihood of ever getting my hands on any of these bikes is extremely limited, so don't expect full review on these anytime soon.

The first bike is the 2009 Raleigh Detour Deluxe. Raleighs website states that the bike will range somewhere between $700 and $1100. A solidly spec'd bike that comes with fenders, lights and a rack.

Why do I like it? Well... I've already mentioned that the spec on the bike is solid, especially for a commuter. My only hesitance is the price, especially if the bike goes for over $1000. It has been my experience that as soon as a 'commuter' specific bike hits that price point, it becomes more of a shop rat bike. Granted, in such cycling Meca's like Portland I'm sure get more attention by the everyday commuter and maybe even the beginner. With all that said, I tweak all of my bikes. I've never let one of them stay stock. Partly because none really hit all my needs or desires for said bike. But this bike is straight forward, solid and ready.

Next we have the 2009 Fuji Palisade 1.0. It's MSRP is at $470 which is awesome.

Why do I like it? Come on! Look at it. SA-weeeeeeeet! But yes, looks aren't everything. The build on the Palisade does have some to desire. With only a 21 speed drive train and lacking a Shimano or SRAM drivetrain gets me a little nervous but we need to consider what this bike was built for. The college campus. A mustache bar for multiple hand positions and a front rack that well, I can't get enough of front racks. I don't see myself wanting to change much of this bike, sure, if I ever got one, I would abuse it, doing only minor work on it... but I think that's what the draw is.

So I'm late on this one... the Salsa Fargo. I don't need to say anything more because it's all been said by G. Ted. I want it, I have dreamt about it [I realize how akward that sounds] and it will remain that...

The Trek District. MSRP $929.99. Ouch! but not really. I had the privledge of seeing this at the 09 Trek World and needless to say [and Geoff can attest to] this bike rocked my socks off.

Why do I like it? Once again. LOOK AT IT! Last year one of my primary commuters was the Soho S, which is the exact frame work that the District works from. They even flipped the stem. What put me over the edge on this bike is the belt drive system. No maintance, basically ever. If the belt system wasn't already out for a few years I would not be as excited for this bike as others, since anything new often can either last but mostly fades away never to be seen or heard from again [so good luck getting parts]. The only way I could see Trek improving this bike is actually using Velocity hoops. Say what you will but Velocity wheels are the only way to go especially when comparing knock offs to the real deal Deep V's
Finally, the 2009 Schwinn Continental. Wait... what was that sound I just heard. Oh yeah, the sound of all you fellow bike-snobs gasping that I might actually be interesting a Schwinn. And I'll admit, if it wasn't that I worked at shop that sold them I would have mocked this bike from the get go and never really consider it. Ok, now for a gasp that's worth it... MSRP: $2399.99.


Why do I like it? Ok, Schwinn has made some mistakes in it's past, we all know it. The Schwinn name unfortunately means little or nothing since they sold out to the Big Box stores. BUT... believe it or not, they still make solid bikes for the independent bike shops. With that said, this bike has been in development and teased dealers and consumers for a few years. But it looks like it's finally going to show itself this year, according to my rep we will see them around March.

What's so special about it? Well, Schwinn offers a few different models of the electric bike and this at the top of the scale. I'm drawn to this model for a number of reasons... no unleaded! it's gas free!, 7 speed internal hub, as with most of the bike shown, rack and fenders, the battery has a 60 mile range and an extremely fast charge time 4 hours! and finally the electric system only adds 10 pounds to the bike.

Sure as with all the other bikes, I'll probably never own this one either. BUT. For the commuter who is concerned about the sweaty biking look at work, this might be the perfect option.

Sure, in a perfect world I'd be able to give full reviews with ride time on these bikes and really try to make you understand why each of them, I believe, are very worthy of purchasing. But now it's up to you to go out and try them.

Oh! If anyone is looking for a Bontrager Carbon 29er Fork I hear there is a great deal on one here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

American Winter Exercise.

Now, I first must apologize. One, for the extremely poor quality photo [via my 2 year old Motorola Sliver mobile] and two for what may follow. This post really has nothing to do with cycling but it is more of a observation from my morning.

With that said. These next two days I have off from the shop. Which can and can not be a blessing as to how I choose to spend my free time. Lots on the list of things to do and hopefully get done. A few bikes to clean up, take apart, reorganize and so on but also hopefully getting some longer rides in and some much needed reading.

For the last 6 months are so I've had the privilege to meet Tuesday mornings for a few hours with Steve Carter. He is up until this coming Thursday part of Mars Hill community as the head of the kids through college ministries, after Thursday he is moving to California to become one of the voices at Rock Harbor. Our time has been spent talking about how to bring about the world we so desire to see here and now to life, what it means to pursue and live out the best kind of life, and how 7th and 8th graders can realize who Christ is and what that means for their lives. We studied for his teachings and tossed ideas back and forth. I am privileged to call him a friend, a mentor, who has challenged me to think in ways and about things with his sage like wisdom.

I digress. Saying all this to say that Steve suggested a book today. Art and Fear by D. Bayles and T. Orland... I'm extremely intrigued by it. As with so many of the books Steve has suggested I'm sure it's going to be a great read. After our time together, I headed towards the local Barnes and Noble [is it just me or is that an interesting way to refer to a national chain that takes out real local small businesses?] to see if they had the book in stock. In Grandville Michigan, the B&N is connected to a mall and unfortunately that mall didn't open until 10, I got there at 9:40.

I decided to go inside and find a bench just to process through some of the other things that we spoke about today. The funny thing about sitting there, is I soon realized I was not alone by any means. I looked up and saw countless [yes, I lost count] on the amount of mall walkers there were. In pairs, pushing strollers, with their iPods in hand. And because of the amount of people there, I did feel compelled to join in. But I might add with a little reluctance since I didn't know if I wearing the right attire [much like showing up to fixie ride with a bunch of hipsters oddly enough] so I begun by snapping some pictures with my mobile.

This did get very exciting, much like the mullet hunting of my past. Some people in 80's jogging suits, some in blue jeans, but two people did stand out. One mall walker must have killed Chewy or gotten a hold of some poor ewok for her fashionable mall walking boots. Then there was what looked to be someone in their 70's with a nice navy blue 80's jogging suit on, his jacket unzipped with a 'A-neck' shirt on underneath only to top it off with some bling. a thick silver necklace with a big ol' dollar bill medallion.

Oh, I was inspired. I decided join in and make a lap. Only to realize that I was not obeying some unstated or known rules of the mall walker. I was getting lapped on both sides, a casual pace was not accepted, but a speed walk was frowned upon. I made my way to the outside of the unmarked 'lanes' of the mall-track. Soon enough, I passed and got to overhear and see an old man leaning against the rail making cat calls to other mall walking women around the same again has him. Smooth, let me tell you. I thought I should actually sit down and take notes because this was man who was very experienced in this specialized art form.

All in all, it did make for a great way to start the day and really, that's all I can really ask for. Especially on a day off.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ski Bikes?

Winter can be a hard time for Cyclists in colder states. It's after the new year, the snow has been piled up for a long time, and it seems like you haven't been able to get out and open your lungs on a bike for a coon's age. That is...without getting that annoying cold-weather runny nose that you can't feel until you can taste it.

A few weeks ago, a buddy Zach and I attempted to put an end to our cycle-less sorrows and build the ultimate sledding machine. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Peter Flapjacks: the Skibike.

He does look a little daunting at first, yes...but he's rather sturdy. Two quick-releases, some wood blocks, Skis, and a hand-me-down Target Mountain Bike were what we had, and we decided to throw a little love in the mixture to see what happened. Peter Flapjacks was a success....save for one thing.

Peter can't go. Sure, as much as gravity will propel a rock down the side of a hill is as much as Peter CAN go--rather quickly, too--but what he lacks is the will or means of self-propulsion. Peter was gloomily retired to the garage after we realized the hard way that in order to ride the bike down the hill, one must carry the bike UP the hill first.

So what, then...is the solution to the winter cycling discontent? One solution developed by a Canadian guy is called the Ktrak...and it resembles Peter Flapjacks quite closely.

According the Ktrak's website, the Ktrak "redefines the mountain bike," and I would say that's an understatement. The idea is actually a kit that will adapt to your current bike...kind of like an Xtracycle. The tank-looking rear assembly mounts in place of your current rear wheel, and the consumer has the option of a Ski in the front or keeping their own wheel in place.

Reviews have been mixed, but positive in the majority, and although the Ktrak can tackle Snow, ice, and dirt, its downfall is cement! although you won't have to worry about scratching the ski or the tread on the rear, the bike (ish-thing) can't get the traction to turn on the cement. This could be a problem for commuters, which is where I'm guessing that Ktrak will get any market at all.

It's not as expensive as you would think, either. The rear kit alone will cost $350, while the complete kit (with ski) will cost you about $450.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Looking for a New Ride?

Now, this isn't some thing that I typically do but. I figured it was the least I could do for a friend trying to move a bike. If you're looking to get into a fixie you've probably noticed for how simple of a machine it is, it isn't often the most inexpensive venture to do so.

My buddy Ryan has this 1972 Schwinn Continental that he has made into a fixie. It has 27 1 3/8 knobbys on it that make it a great winter bike also. He's looking to get $100 out of it, which is a steal when compared to the $150 you'd spend on wheels alone if you wanted to make it a fixie yourself.

Questions? Email him at rfunnell0221@gmail.com


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My return to the glove.

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I apologize for the lack of posts recently. My trip back to Iowa I wasn't able to get my digital camera to work with my parents computer and well... if you're like me you only 'read' when there are pictures.

So where to begin. On Friday, Bottke and I got together for a bit of a ride because he was going to have to work on Saturday for the Slap in the Face gravel ride. We made our way for a pretty good ride. Around 14.5 miles.

Bottke got the Xtracycle up and running without any of bags. A fine set-up until one encounters ice.

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

We met up from Evil Empire and headed west, which took us through UNI campus, of course getting strange looks from a few pedestrians which is pretty typical when the temperature is 11 degrees out when you leave.

The majority of the ride was on pavement but we did hit up some gravel for about 3 miles, if you're looking at the map, it's around miles 9-12. The gravel was in great shape, certain sections where there was tree covering there was more ice but ride able.

Bottke did have a little bit of a mechanical issue during the ride. On the Xtracycle he is running it 1x8 right now but has a triple chain ring on the front with the intention of running it 3x8 very soon. Needless to say, when on a longer ride certain gearing causes the chain to jump. The picture to the left was actually taken during one of our stops on the gravel when the chain hoped.

What I did just realize though, is if you look closely you can see trees on the right side of the road. This is place where the ride got interesting. When we came to those trees the sunlight wasn't able to get through the road so there was a good amount of glassy ice built up.

Brian went down pretty quickly, not any fault to him. With the longer wheel base and nothing in the back for weight controling the bike is pretty much out of the question. The funny thing about Brian falling was I was leading in that section and looked over my shoulder and as I said 'Are you...' I was down too. Fortunately, we were both ok although Brian got a cramp but was able to stretch it out, like a champ, pretty quickly.

It was a great ride though. Talking things over with Brian about TransIowa, shop talk and then just picking each others brains about whatever odd topic it might be has always made for good time with a great friend.

That leads us to Saturday. The Slap in the Face gravel ride. It was very uncertain if it was even going to happen given that it looked like it was going to rain. Mark went out earlier in the week to check out the gravel on the proposed route and wasn't sure if it was going to be fully rideable.

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

After lots of back and forth, Saturday morning happened. And it was great. There was a good turn out of people [which never hurts for a good ride]. Bidwell, Super Saul, J. Fry, Carlos the Jackal, Blue, David Pals co-leader of TI.V made it up, and Craig from Europa all made it out.

Mark wasn't able to make due to his wife getting sick. Family first and totally understandable. Selfishly, I did hope he could have made it.

Needless to say, there has already been a few post already about the ride from a few of the guys. I actually stole the pictures from a few of them because I have yet to fully master the art of picture taking while still maintaining fully control the bike. And with all the ice, I was already doomed.

Around 24.5 miles of goodness. There is just something to be said about rides in the winter. I have yet to find the words to fully express how much fun and how much joy I get out of doing them. I did learn a few things on the ride though:

_ Never say you're going to fall. Although didn't have bad falls, I lead the pack... 3 falls. 2 that I saw coming and in all honesty were more my fault than the condition, given that I didn't keep momentum. The final fall came with no one around and was totally unexpected. It through me to ground fast and hard. Leaving one of my bar end plugs some where on a gravel road.

_ Want an ab work out? Ride on ice with drop bars. HOLY COW! My abs still hurt from controling the bike through the ice and then the falls probably didn't help.

_ There is cold and there is Iowa cold. I'm sorry but 2 years away from Iowa winters and there is no way to prepare for them. Windchill and humity make for a nasty beast. Especially when you're going against it. VIVA LA FROZEN BEARD!

All in all, the trip to Iowa was great. There is a cycling scene and passion in the midwest and especially in Iowa that is so often overlooked but has been and is a great influence on the greater cycling community. I can't say that I'm an Iowan any more, but I'm sure glad that I have a great friends there and have been blessed to have grown up there.

MANIFESTO T-SHIRT UPDATE: Fortunately from some, unfortunately for others. But the first generation Manifesto t-shirts have all been claimed. Have no fear. I will be doing one more run of the Manifesto T's on Kerkove Nation Black with white writing. Once again, with every No Drive shirt, there are limited runs on these. Contact me with questions or orders.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Years Resolution: The Track Stand.

It's 2009 already, and with the previous year having slipped away so quickly, I think maybe it's time that we start out the year right...and learn something new. For 2009, we're going to learn an easy Track Stand for your fixie in these simple steps:

1. When stopped, make sure that the cranks are parallel to the ground. This means that your feet are level with each other. Generally its easier down the line if your dominant foot is forward.

2. Turn the handlebars towards your front foot. This means that if your right foot is in front on the pedals, turn the handlebars to the right.

3. Lean the bike a little bit to the side you turned the handlebars (if you turned them right, lean the bike right), and the top tube should rest against your front leg. It helps stabilize you.

4. Balance. Keep trying. Look good.

You most likely won't get it the first time, and once you do get it...you will still fall once or twice. Just ask Alo when I fell at a light in Grand Rapids...