Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TransIowa Twitter Feed

Well, might as well, If you notice on the left side bar I've uploaded my twitter feed. This will post all of my updates from now until Sunday/Monday. I've gotten it set up so hopefully I'll be able to update on in transit as Bottke and I attempt to ride Trans Iowa.

Most of my posts up until then will simply consist of prep thoughts and pictures in these final days. I'm hitting the ultra freak out mode as much of my friends have seen so I probably won't be posting much here besides via Twitter just for the sake of attempting to keep my head on my shoulders.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I posted a few days ago about the Saris T-bones rack. For some reason, I've still been extremely intrigued by this rack and googled it, wherein I found this video...

The dang thing sells itself. MUST HAVE! Just might have to get a hitch on the ol' X-box now, we'll see.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hey Facebook Junkies!

Yeah, you! On the left and that guy to your right. I know you're addicted to Facebook and looking for the next great cause to have up on your profile. Especially you Iowans. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition started a Cause group called 'Expect Bike Traffic!' in response to recent crashes that have highlighted the need for increased motorist awareness. We need yard signs and billboards that tell motorist to Expect Bike Traffic! Your contribution can help those efforts.

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition has 3 main positions of advocacy:
  1. Cyclists have legal rights and responsibilities.
  2. Public roadways are transportation corrirdors and should include non motorized options.
  3. Public Policy can and should support safe and enjoyable cycling

And if you want... tell em I sent ya!

On the note of bicycling safety. I am currently reading through a great book called Bicycling and the Law by Bob Mionske.

So far it's been a great read and I feel it would be a must for anyone spending time on the roads, riding in and out of traffic. I'm not going to link this because I'm only finding Amazon links in my quick search but any local bike shop can get this through their distributor or support a local, independent bookstore, such as this one. Here's the vital information for it:

Bicycling and the Law by Bob Mionske
ISBN-10: 1931382999
ISBN-13: 978-1931382991
MSRP: $18.95

The art of transportating loads.

If there is one thing I have gotten good at, it's carrying more than I probably should by attaching things to whatever pack I'm using that day.

From the great turtle shell day to yesterdays extra frame. Just to put you all at ease, this frame is not mine and not another project. The frame belongs to F2, she's comments from time to time and is one of the loyal Saturday Night riders. She's officially going to be a hypster once she finishes this fixie project. The frame just got a fresh powder coat job and she's going to be hooking it up with some sweet white Deep V's of course. Should be a pretty nice build to say the least.

On a side note, as the final week before Trans Iowa approaches I have officially hit freak out mode. Which was not helped by yesterdays flat tire, yes another flat! I went 500 some odd days without one and now two in less than a week! Not helping the nerves at all, that and topped with seeing that my chain is about 80% stretched... what to do, what to do. I'm not letting myself change anything on the bike after Saturday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


This type of riding really isn't my cup of tea, but you have to admire and respect the skill that this guy has. The setting is awesome and it has a fast paced BMX feel with some trials mixed in and a good soundtrack.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The master speaks...

Ever since BRAIN proclaimed affirmed my suspicion of being the Master of the Universe. It might not be that much of a surprise to but I am reading it much more in depth and actually reading through the ads. Yeah, crazy...

But needless to say in the latest issue I stumbled upon an ad for the Saris T Bones rack. Sure, it might seem a bit strange for a blog that's main purpose is promoting cycling over driving, the reality is that a vast majority still drive and who am I to deny this simple fact and not talk about a potentially stellar product.

The Saris site boasts this about the T-Bones:

Most racks are happy to just sit around when they're not attached to your car. But it's clear that T-Bones wants to be the hardest working rack in the world. When it isn't busy being a high-performance hitch rack, it's a convenient bike storage solution for your home.

It was this last part that really caught my attention. A hitch mounted rack that can also double as a storage unit in it's off time. They say it comes in at around 10lbs which is really nothing for racks and from the looks of all the information that it comes with the stand for in the house. Now this might seem like a no brainer for a rack to do but this is new ground and other brands have not ventured into such options. What appeals to me is the fact that this storage unit could also work as a potential work stand. Saris makes no mention of on their site but for someone looking for an rack that can do just about everything, this might just be it.

Now the magically question, how much? $380. Which does seem a bit steep but if you compare it to Thule's light weight designed rack the Helium it's a steal. The Thule is not nearly as versatile as what the T-bones claims to be able to handle. Or let's try a breakdown in Thule products to compete with it:

Thule 912 - 2 Bike Rack = $199.99
Thule 955 No Sway Cages = $29.99
Thule STL2 Snug Tight Lock = $49.99
Thule 538 Cable Lock = $34.99

Total: $314.96

Which then does not offer any storage or ability to use as a work stand, so adding a Park PCS-10 Home Repair Stand that goes for $136.99, which puts us at $451.95 and we can't even store another bike.

Granted all of this sounds really good, and the T-bones isn't even available until late May and once I get to see the rack it will either confirm or deny if this rack is really all it's cracked up to be but until then, I'll give it the thumbs up.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Last night I stumbled onto this article on FoxSports.com on Tyler Hamilton. Most of you probably have already heard but I do say that this time around his response has seemed refreshing to me at least...

Cyclist Hamilton retires after another positive test

Hamilton admitted taking an herbal product for two days in February to combat depression, knowing it included a steroid.

"There's nothing to fight about," the 38-year-old Hamilton told The Associated Press. "I took a banned substance. I accept the consequences. You make mistakes in your life and I accept the penalty like a man." Hamilton will likely receive a ban from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that may range from eight years to life, a sentence that would have ended his racing days anyway.

"He has had a cloud over his career for a while now and the sport is better off without him," said Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union.

Hamilton's win at the 2004 Athens Games was overshadowed by a blood doping scandal. He tested positive for doping a second time later that year, served a two-year suspension and returned to racing early in 2007 - never revealing that he was fighting depression, which he said runs in his family.

Going through a divorce and seeing his mother fight breast cancer made things worse in recent months, Hamilton said.

Seeking relief, he took something called Mitamins Advanced Formula, billed as a "natural depression treatment with vitamins, herbs and supplements."

"Obviously, that was a mistake," Hamilton said.

In a statement, USADA said it will continue going through the process of issuing a sanction.

"Although Mr. Hamilton has now retired from the sport of cycling and has publicly accepted responsibility, this is a pending matter and USADA will make an announcement of the final outcome and imposition of the exact sanction in accordance with the rules when the process is complete, which should be in the coming months," the statement said.

The Mitamins product contains common things such as vitamins D, B-6 and B-12, along with thiamin, riboflavin and calcium. Each serving also contains 20 milligrams of a steroid called Dehydroepiandrosterone - DHEA, as it's known.

"Clinical research has suggested that taking DHEA orally might improve the symptoms of depression," reads the company's Web site.

Hamilton said the amount of the steroid found in his system was "so, so low" and that subsequent tests, including ones later that same week before the Tour of California, all came back negative.

"I took it to help my mental state," Hamilton said. "I did not, 100 percent, take it for any performance enhancement."

Hamilton said he was taking a prescription antidepressant called Celexa, and was feeling so badly a few months ago that he decided to double up on the dosage. After seeing no significant change in his mental state, Hamilton stopped taking the drug entirely.

He tried the Mitamins product, he said, on Feb. 6 and 7. USADA testers knocked on his door the next day.

"I was thinking everything would be fine," Hamilton said. "It might sound a little crazy, but I wasn't really worried. I wasn't really stressing about it. Maybe it's because of everything else I was going through. I don't know why."

About five weeks later, he learned everything was not fine.

Citing bronchitis, Hamilton did not ride in the Vuelta of Castilla and Leon in Spain - the race where Armstrong fell and broke his collarbone. And he was expected to be the leader of Rock Racing's team for a race in Portugal earlier this month, but was replaced on the roster shortly before that event.

At the time, few knew why.

"This is, for me personally, a really tough day," said Rock Racing owner Michael Ball. "My personality is to always fight for what I feel is right."

Others around Hamilton also encouraged him to fight the latest positive test. Hamilton's attorney, Chris Manderson, said they were mapping "several different strategies" including one to file a federal suit against USADA over the testing.

"Tyler has decided he does not want to pursue that route," Manderson said. "He wants to focus on the reasons why he did what he did and he wants to focus on getting better and getting on with his life."

Hamilton won the road time trial at the Athens Olympics, capping one of the finest days USA Cycling had known.

Americans won three medals that day on a road along the Saronic Gulf, with Hamilton's gold and Bobby Julich taking the bronze in the time trial and Dede Barry winning silver in the women's time trial.

Soon after, Hamilton's first positive test for blood doping came back, but he was ultimately allowed to keep the gold medal because his 'B' sample collected in Athens could not be properly tested. A month later, he tested positive again.

Hamilton has long denied participating in blood doping, the transfusion of extra blood that can increase endurance because more red blood cells are available to deliver oxygen to muscles.

For this latest positive test, he denied nothing.

"I knew it was banned," Hamilton said.

Hamilton briefly considered himself retired last year, then returned to compete in several races, plus won USA Cycling's road race national championship by less than one one-hundreth of a second.

He doesn't know what he'll do next, other than focusing on his health and family.

"This isn't about a test. It's a bigger issue," Hamilton said. "It's a disease that I'm going through, that my family has gone through, that I need to take care of. Cycling is just a sport, racing your bike from Point A to Point B. What I'm going through is so much bigger."

Not to leave you on a downer...


534 days.

534 days. That's how long I went without a flat on my commute. Sure, I've had flat tires in that time period but none when heading to work.

Sure, I could credit last year with riding some Hardcase 700x28 and then switching midseason over to the Conti Ultra Gator Skin 700x25 on the fixie. Both great tires but surprisingly the Conti does provide a bit more comfortable of a ride.

Or maybe credit should be given to the flat yesterday and the fact that I was stretching the limit [see picture below] to what my Maxxis tire could do. I mean a full winter of riding, pavement and such. I had worn a good smooth patch down the middle and was planning on changing it out for Trans Iowa next week.

Whatever the blame...er... credit needs to be given did not change the fact that I had to walk my bike in. Granted, it was a short walk but I do blame myself on that.

Like many riders, I do carry with me a spare tube, tire levers and CO2. I did make the mistake of not switching all of that out between bags. My go to bag lately has been the BD2 but since I needed to carry more and haven't gotten ahold of the BC3 I had to revert back to my Timbuk2. Guess who forgot to keep all the essentials in both bags... that's right. THIS GUY.

So I walked. It was an interesting walk though. I normally go along one of the busier streets here in Grand Rapids and yesterday I did get to see a moped crusing down the road with a Burley attached. Yes, the childcarrier. I was scrambling to get my camera out to get a picture of it so I couldn't see if there was indeed a child in the back but regardless, it was crazy.

I ended up switching out the rear tire with the Kenda Small Block 8. It's been a fairly popular tire for cross and seemed to be a good neutral tire for whatever might be thrown at me in a short few weeks. We'll see how it works on gravel hopefully this Sunday and also how my beefer 700x35 front will handle with the 32 rear. Since I haven't had the pleasure to ride on the B-level and worse Iowa gravel I'm hoping this will add a little control. Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


If the image on the left is any indication, today's post is about a fellow blogger, Fat Cyclist. I've discussed this a few times with people, often with Geoff but he always discouraged about saying anything given that it's a touchy topic but I'm finding I'm not alone in my feelings.

Today, being my day off, I was doing my normal cruising around the ol' interweb and was over at BikeSnobNYC. He is allowing a face to face meeting with the lucky winner of the new contest Fatty is putting on. Rare? Yes. For a good cause? Yes. Fatty's blog is not one that frequent all too often because I seem to always stumbled onto posts like this one on the 12th and it has always left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

Yes, I'm guilty of saying 'hook a brother up' or talking about things that I'd love to get my hands on but an 'open post to...', come on! Sure, I'm a bit jealous of his success but he has also seemed to get a get out of jail free card because of the battle his wifes battle with cancer. And before you get too mad at me for poking the elephant in the room, my mother is a breast cancer survivor and all that she went through I would not wish on anyone. I believe that with more funding and awareness cancer can be better treated and maybe one day defeated. My beef has NOTHING to do with him focus on raising money for cancer research.

There is a reason people go to his blog and I'm willing to bet it's not to help him get free stuff; like: a Superfly [which I might add is not available to the 'average joe' like you or I], Oakleys, and now shoes, I'm sure there have been more but for some reason I seem to have incredible timing to stumble over to his blog at the precise time of these 'Open letters...' were posted. I know in the early days of his blog people got behind him because it was an accountability to losing weight [thus the fatcyclist] and now his fundraising efforts for LAF [which I believe the Team Fatty is a one of the major givers, which IS amazing] not to hook him up with free stuff.


In reality, things will be what they will and people will do what they may. And in cases like this, what we use the phatforms we are given is up to us, and if people listen so be it. At the end of the day,I'm just going to have to sober up realize, like the masses, I too will have to pay for the things I want.

But maybe if you all click here and I can get free donuts for a year! Sorry had to try.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On Urban Riding.

It's some thing like this...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

and on the third day...

Twin Six is just a great company. Solid designs on great shirts.

Each month they have a special edition t-shirt. For April its this gem on the right... I don't know if I'd want the shirt but they do have a poster of the design...

This design didn't even last 7 days before it was sold out. Must be some thing with that...

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Cyclists Lament

In the final days of the Lenten season, I thought I was in the clear for having to let go of things. Lent is at it's core is a season of loss, in preparation for some thing greater. Letting go of one to grasp tighter onto other. Often part of this process is lamenting. A lament being 'a passionate expression of grief or sorrow' or 'expression of disappointment over something considered unsatisfactory, unreasonable, or unfair'. This Saturday I read an article and press release that has been frustrating and felt like an unnecessary gut check.

I was over at The Cyclist Site, a new upstart project of the two prolific bloggers G-Ted and Arleigh Jenkins, and saw the post called 'Cannondale no longer to make frames in the U.S.A.'. I was unsure about the post when I first read it because I had not been back to the site since the last week in March and figured it was probably a April fools joke. Unfortunately, after digging into it I saw that it was indeed true and was confirmed by Cannondale rider, Carl Buchanan.

Now this is where my lament truly begins...

I have always had a profound respect for Cannondale since I started working at a shop. That was a good 9 years ago now, although I had my moments of being confused by other companies to believe that Cannondale was not all it made itself out to be. Cannondales quality and craftmanship always stood out. Seeing the proudly displayed 'HANDMADE IN THE U.S.A.' alone meant some thing to me. Prior to 2007 [correct me if I am wrong], all of their line was produced stateside and only in the last two years have they started producing bikes overseas; and a majority of those bikes being entry level and still meeting the quality standards that Cannondale had long held it's hat on.

Although, Cannondale was bought about by Dorel [yes, the parent company of Schwinn and GT] a few years back, there were promises and no signs in the following years that the Cannondale quality would be changed. I was upset about this buyout since Dorel was not a U.S. based company but they have maintained Cannondales quality and kept Cannondale headquarters stateside, keeping more than 50% of the line still produced here [more than any of the 'big 5' can say].

Now, nothing can be said for sure about what lay ahead for Cannondale. They are joining the ranks of the other big 5: Trek, Fisher, Giant and Specialized. Trek is the only company out of that group that does any of their line stateside and that is only in their highend Madone line. Correction, Fisher has their steel frames made here, which I believe is only two models. I am attempting to walk tenderly around talking about these other companies because it is very easy to bad mouth them, when in all reality each, along with Cannondale, are very solid brands. Being a shop rat, I know that some dealers that are competing against Cannondale dealers will try to draw comparisons between Cannondale and what has occured with Schwinn in the last few years.

Which is simply not the case. The difference I see between Schwinn and Cannondale is the fact that the Schwinn name was already on the downward swing when it made it's jump to the big box. Cannondale is still innovating, still growing, still developing products that are pushing the industry, ie the BB30. Dorel [CSG] has already taken hold of the mass market bikes and Cannondale is the only brand they have that is primed and ready to make a break at the IBD market.

This might be the 'best' business decison for CSG right now, but the actual cost of such a move I can't quite make sense of yet. I do believe that quality will remain the same but there was just something about buying something that you knew that a good portion of the money was staying here in the US, especially given the current economic climate.

As my lament ends... knowing that all good things can and must come to an end. I can only hope that this shift in Cannondale births some thing great beyond my expectation. In a global economy, things like this happen but local stores will remain. These stores keep jobs here and help growth in the local economy in countless ways, and maybe that is where a shift must begin when companies move overseas, regardless of industry. SHOP LOCAL. We do have the power to change things, but there is always a cost.

4/7/2009 update: Carl Buchanan posted maybe one of the best responses to this change I've read. I can't say enough about Carl, he's a sage to say the least.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

... in a half shell...

So what do you do when you need to take a wheel into work with you and you're riding on a bike? Use a Ergon BD2 pack of course! Sure, I would have rather seen how a BC3 would handle the load since the BD2 is ideally used for other applications. But since I have yet to get my mitts on one of those, the BD2 worked like a champ!

The wheel stayed solid in place although I had my normal shop gear in the bag and did not hinder anything. The versatility of this bag just continues to amaze me. Plus, I guess any time I can have the TMNT theme song running through my head on my commute into the shop is a good thing...

Shredder got nothing on me... TURTLE POWER!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yet Another Reason I like Bontrager Stuff...

From Bontrager.com:

"Lance Armstrong and Bontrager today released more details regarding Armstrong’s recent collarbone surgery. While it was previously reported that Armstrong’s right clavicle was screwed and plated back together after his March 23rd crash at the Castilla y Leon stage race in Spain, Armstrong and equipment sponsor Bontrager, jointly announced that he was the world’s first recipient of an inForm® CarbonClavicle™ Upgrade.

Originally slated to be released at the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeon) Convention May 18-24th in Las Vegas, Bontrager moved up the launch date of the inForm CarbonClavicle to aid the return of Armstrong to the peloton.

“The original intent of the Bontrager inForm line was to use medical research to aid us in creating better cycling contact points, such as saddles, shoes, and grips. But when we did the research into the most common cycling-related injuries, the broken collarbone proved to be an area where we could actually help cyclists get back on the road sooner,” relates John Balmer, head of Bontrager Development.

The CarbonClavicle, available for both left and right shoulders in four male sizes and four WSD (Women’s Specific Design) sizes, is an actual carbon fiber replacement of the clavicle. Developed with the aid of Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Mark Timmerman, a Bontrager consultant, the inForm CarbonClavicle has greater shock absorption, greater impact strength, and a greater tensile strength—all while being grams lighter than the OEM bone.

“The installation on Armstrong was completely coincidental. But I must admit, the Bontrager marketing team was doing high-fives when we heard about Lance’s crash. It really was a marketing god-send. I mean, could there have been a better way to launch the new Bontrager medical Upgrade line?” explains Chris Clinton, Bontrager Marketing Manager.

The installation procedure is substantially quicker than the conventional collarbone repair procedures of stabilizing, drilling and pinning, as this is a full replacement. Essentially, the broken bone is completely removed and the CarbonClavicle is anchored in place. Armstrong’s procedure took approximately 30 minutes and will reduce his recovery time from 3 weeks, to 5-7 days for the sutures to fully heal.

The delay in releasing details was due to an extended approval process with the UCI, which has now ruled that since this piece is structural yet provides only minor aerodynamic advantage over the traditional ‘bump’ of a healed broken clavicle, it falls with the current parameters of the UCI rules.

Future sponsorship plans include full support and pre-emptive upgrades for the full Trek-Livestrong U23 team. “These guys are early in their careers, and if averages apply to the team, we think we can prevent about ten or more future breaks across the 12 members of the team,” adds Clinton.

Backed by Bontrager’s best-in-industry 5-year warranty, inForm CarbonClavicles will be available through referrals from Trek and Fisher dealers exclusively. Retail prices will be set by the retailer."