Sunday, June 15, 2014

What To Take With You On Your Ride?

 One big fear that seemingly every cyclist has is a fear of having a flat and not being able to get back home. When riding in the Memphis area, that fear is a pretty genuine fear. Glass, shards of metal, screws and nails conspire against us to prevent our safe return home.

Avoiding these obstacles is the first tactic to making sure your ride isn't interrupted. I think the most common mistakes people make are: Not looking at the road ahead to ensure that its clear. Second big issue occurs when someone sees a tire eating chunk of glass or metal - They look at the offending chunk and ride straight into it! So how do you avoid these tube and tire lacerators? The answer is easy. When we ride, we naturally tend to ride where we look. So when you spot something that will cut your fancy new tires, look at the 'clean line' around the glass. Spot the problem, look for a clean area to ride through, and you'll do it.

With all those great ideas and methods to use, you will eventually have a flat. It is going to happen. As you log miles, the probability that you will get a tire slashed, punctured or cut get much higher. So what should you carry to make sure you'll get home?

Over the years, the little kit below is what I've worked out to save my backside when the air escapes and leaves me bumping on the rim. The kit is cheap, simple to put together and will fit in a jersey pocket with ease. Forget those terrible saddle bags hanging under your saddle. They're chunky, rattle too much an I've seen more than a few cut through someone's shorts when the Velcro is not adjusted right.

Materials needed:

Tire levers- Get strong, substantial tire levers. Cheap levers leave you stranded and won't handle your new Continental or Vittoria tires without breaking.

Glueless Patches- they are cheap and give you a backup.

C02 Cartridge Threaded- 12 gram cartridges do the job, but 14's give you a little more leeway and don't weigh enough more to be worth worrying about.

C02 Cartridge Filler- I like this version by Innovations. Cheap, light and does the job.

$20- Needing cash on a ride is not an unusual situation. The bonus is that the money can be used as a tire boot when you have a tire with a bad cut.

Innertube- one that fits your bike!

Duct tape- An 8" strip of duct tape holds the whole thing together. It can also be used as a tire boot, to hold a broken cable out of the way, you can even hold tattered bar tape on the bars with it. Endless uses for this.

I arrange the components like this. When you screw the adapter/filler on, don't screw it on all the way. Screwing it on all the way punctures the cartridge and will allow the cartridge to leak out over time. You only screw it on all the way when its time to use it.

Once you have the components arranged, fold the tape over a little to give yourself a handle. Then wrap the whole assembly together tightly with the duct tape and you're done.

Throw this into your jersey pocket, and then you are ready for the inevitable. You might not have the flat, but chances are, someone in your group will. With this little kit, you can save your own ride or even be the hero at the next flat.

Oh yeah, don't forget to bring your cellphone!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Be Seen and Be Safe!

During the warm summer months, there are a lot of things we don't have to worry about- being cold, riding in the wet, finishing a ride in the dark! However, even with daylight savings time coming up soon, and the hour we will all gain back with it, we all need to worry about all those things.

Personally, the highest priority for me on that list is dealing with the dark. For me, the reality is that my ride times are early in the morning, or late in the evening. Both propositions put me riding in the dark. Unfortunately, coupling that fact with the idea that we do not exactly ride in the most bicycling friendly city means that being seen on the road needs to be a priority for all of us.

So what can you do to be seen? Be bright! Be Visible! Do both of those things from all directions!

My rig consists of two primary lights, and some secondary things.

My lights are both from Cateye. I've had the rear so long that I really don't remember the model. I like it because it has some flashing modes that might set off a seizure in someone looking at it too long, and you can see it from the side. It also takes batteries you can get anywhere. The headlight is a Cateye Nima. Just came out and this is my first season with it. Its a new generation LED light which should have a lot of battery life to it. Again lots of flashing modes. Flashing gets attention.

Next up are the secondary things. Have you ever driven down the road, and then out of nowhere out steps someone in black jeans and a black or dark hoodie. Chances are, you felt that you almost ran them down, or might have. Think of the same situation with that person wearing a white hoodie - This time you would have seen them.
Same goes for your riding gear. Wear light color jersey's and jackets- Especially when riding in the dark or near dark. Light, bright colors allow you to be seen at a greater distance and in lower light conditions. All good things for cyclists. Your jersey or jacket also happens to be one of the highest points of your person while riding, again helping you become more visible at a distance.
What is the highest part of your person when riding? Your helmet. Black helmets not only are hot in the summer, but do you no favors in the dark. Wear a light colored helmet, and bonus if it happens to have reflective surfaces on it.
Do these things, and you'll have a much better ride and a much safer ride!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bicycle Upgrade Theory

I hear the question often 'What should I upgrade on my bike?'. Much of the time, someone is planning to spend drop $100 bucks on a carbon stem that will save them 20 grams. Or maybe $400 on cranks or a fork that will save them 50 grams.

Those things are cool. They add some bling to the bike, but I can guarantee you that in the flat land that we live in (Mid-South area), 20 grams will not make you any faster, nor will 50. Truth be told, even if we lived in Colorado, those savings would not help myself nor most of the people I ride with.

So what will benefit you? After twenty plus years building bikes for others and myself, I'm convinced that the first thing you should upgrade on any bike is your contact point with the bike. You should upgrade your saddle/shorts, shoes/socks and bars/gloves.

If you ride a $7000 bike, but ride with $70 shoes bought online because they were a bargain, and they also don't quite fit you - YOU WILL BE SLOWER! On the flip side, if you buy a $1000 bike and spend good money on good quality contact points of shorts/saddle, shoes/socks and bars/gloves, all of which fit you correctly, you will be faster, you will be more comfortable, and you will recover from your ride more quickly.

So, if you are starting out and new to riding, plan on spending 50% the cost of your bike on good quality clothing, shoes, gloves, helmet, etc. If you are already riding and wanting to upgrade, take a look first at your contact points. Are your gloves or shoes worn out? Do you need new bar tape? Would a new saddle allow you to ride more comfortably longer?

One other note. A lot of people preach about buying local versus buying online- the areas I've discussed above truly are not something that should be bought on-line. Shoes and clothing must fit well, or you will be uncomfortable and possibly even hurt yourself. Your local shop will let you try different sizes and brands to find the right thing for you. With saddles, they might even have a try-before-you-buy program.

Last year, I decided to upgrade my bars on my road bike. I was not completely satisfied with the shape of my previous bars, so I bought a new set with a more modern bend and I really enjoy the new shape. This year, I decided to buy some new shoes. My old shoes are 9 years old and had been through 3 bad wrecks. They were worn out! I picked up the new shoes this evening and cannot wait to try them out this weekend.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Riding with Tunes!

Many people ride or run with earbuds in. I ride with only one in. I personally think riding or running with buds in both ears in any situation (trail, road, sidewalk, greenline) is just asking for trouble.

So, I've ridden with stereo earbuds for several years now, one bud hanging down inside my jersey. Needless to say, with good music, the sound is a mess. It does not sound at all good and sometimes is downright annoying.

I decided to search for a better solution. I also wanted something that did not have a 4 foot long cord hanging from it. What I found checks all those boxes and then some.

On Amazon, I found the Far End Gear Stereo to Mono Earbud. Sound is excellent, the cord is short and does not tangle, and it is even mildly reflective (you can see that in my photo). All in all, I'm very happy with them.

If you ride/run and love your tunes, get one of these, even if you don't get this brand/model.

Amazon Far End Stereo To Mono Earbud

Monday, January 20, 2014

2013 Was A Bust!

2013 was a bust. What more can I say. It was a tough year.

In the end, I raced two duathlons which were a lot of fun, but that was it.

2014 is going to be different. I don't know how much I'll get to race, but I am going to ride more. My Colnago and my Vellum need more miles!

One fun thing added for this year is a GoPro Camera. I've been videoing my rides since New Years and I think they are fun!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cyclocross Season is over, time for some road riding....

With 'cross season over, its time to get ready for winter and spring racing. Time to build base miles and time to be ready for the summer. This is the time of year when the riding is wet and its time to build miles and fitness.

This year, I will build those miles, and I will build that fitness.

To inspire that work and that fitness, I decided to get my road steed a little more ready for riding. Since I'm a weight weenie, I had to get some weight off the bike.

I started by getting my carbon wheels set up for road tires. This alone took one pound off my ride.

Next up is some new bars and a new bottom bracket!


This was our second year to host a cyclocross race in Cordova. This year the difference was that my entire team was part of it. The team really pulled together to make this happen. Anthony Parks was the inspiration of the race and the leader of putting it together. Members of Journeymen Racing were the arms, hands, legs back and voice of making the race happen and as a result the race was great!

We started the race in cold weather with plenty of rain. This unfortunately made us think that the race would not turn into anything good. However, Cyclocross races are not fought out in the sunlight, and the local racers know it!

The rain settled down just as the B race went off, and as a result the course was absolutely sloppy and absolutely awesome!

After a great B Race, we had the A Race go off and again we had a great race.
With a little luck and a lot of persistance, we'll have the race again next year and the results will be awesome!