Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
So today was the second ride on the new Ultegra tubeless wheels and Hutchinson tires... and they still rock. No loss of air overnight and they felt great today. I can honestly say I can not remember the last time I was able to ride on tires only inflated to 100psi. The 127tpi casings feel a little "stiff" on the tires, until you dive into a corner. The tires are sticky in turns but feel plenty fast in a straight line- even when running lower tire pressures. So far, I am really stoked with the wheels/ tires. The Ultegra wheels themselves are pretty danged nice. The rim is a nice boxy cross section, so it is sturdy but light- compared to a taller aero rim profile. The very narrow bladed spokes keep the wheels turning fast. The wheels have a higher spoke count- meaning there are more than 2 spokes per wheel- which keeps the wheels sturdy and stiff for somebody my size (which happens to be 195lbs these days). Lots of wheels remove spokes to keep them light and then have to run high spoke tension to keep them stiff enough... but then you run into problems with keeping them true or blowing out with busted nipples. So far, these wheels are really something. Easily my favorite Shimano wheelset to date.
I'm spoiled to death, I know, because the Ultegra wheels are were swapped out with what is probably one of the very best wheelsets I have ever ridden- period; the new Ritchey WCS Zeta wheels. Though they are not road tubeless, they are amazingly good wheels. The rims are vanadium and the spokes are Sapim bladed. The hubs utilize an unique lacing pattern that is cool to look at but produces a super stiff wheelset. The wheels are a little over 1500gm with the skewers, but they accelerate like they weigh 1200gm.
Deep section aero wheels are great, but they tend to not ride very well- either they get blown all over the road in a crosswind or they have a very harsh ride top to bottom. Some are simply super heavy- even if aero. Regular "box section" rims produce a nice ride quality that is often lighter and more comfortable and with good aero spokes they are nearly as aero as deep section wheels. Plus, if you actually have to ride through a crosswind, you can still maintain control of your bike without a fight!
I'll have some pictures of the complete bike and the two wheels soon... promise.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
... and I'm losing my mind!
Been staying super busy with trying to get ready for the Montreal show 9/9 to 9/13 (show is 10-12th) as well as trying to get our own preparations for Interbike done... as well as getting things done to back up our 2010 product launch. It's, well... busy as all hell!
Lots of challenges, lots of stress and so much to cover.
Had first ride- finally- on my new Ultegra road tubeless wheels with the Hutchinson tires... YUMMY! It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Kenda tires and not just because they sponsor the team- the Kaliente and Kriterium tires are simply awesome clinchers, especially the 25mm width Kriteriums (though I wish they made the Kaliente in a 25 too... but I keep nagging them). I'll have pics and details to follow, as well as a review (so far) of the new Ultegra group (awesome) and the all-new Ritchey WCS Zeta wheelset (above category awesome).
Also just received a copy today of the new Lennard Zinn book Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance- 3rd Edition. I was asked if I wanted a copy to read and review... and I said "HELL YES"... sorta. So it arrived today and I am stoked. I am a sloppy mechanic- just good enough to work on my own bikes and keep them from falling apart (usually). But Zinn is a "hero" of mine and I am thrilled to have a copy of the book to use for knowledge growth. Looking forward to reading many chapters. Stay tuned for more...
Speaking of books... I was also contacted by the publishers of the new David Byrne book Bicycle Diaries. I loved the Talking Heads and have been a fan of Byrne's for a long time and have been interested in his evolution as a cyclist and proponent of utility cycling. His book is going to be a welcome read for sure!
I've got a friend named Steve- he's an artist- and a blogger. He's rad and he's back. If you don't go check out his new blog, Gawd will kill a kitten and use it to kill a puppy. I've had a vision about it...
Ok, I'm brain dead so I'm going to bed. But I'll be back soon kids, I promise.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Taliah Lempert is somebody I have mentioned many times here over the years. I am a huge fan of her paintings and have often spread the news of her work here, sharing flyers about her shows or other projects. I first learned of Taliah's work several years ago when I was helping to edit a magazine (iheartbikes) that she and I both were contributing to. It was then that I fell in love with her style and her paintings. Since that time, we've stayed loosely in touch and I am always searching for a way for her and I to work together on some sort of project (and I'm not giving up).
On a recent trip to her website, I saw her t-shirts again and looked through the new designs... which I really need to have. But upon further digging, past the coloring book that I love so much, I noticed she is now also making caps. I love caps and hats of nearly all types... LOVE THEM... and am now in love with her caps. I will posess them... oh yes, I will.
So, for those of you new to Taliah, you really need to go check out her fantastic bicycle paintings. For those of you who are already familiar, I hope you'll dig a little deeper into her site as well... there's good stuff there!
And Taliah, keep up the great work- I always get a rush of inspiration from your paintings.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
It was made for us out of the video that was shot during our catalog field trip in Minneapolis. Nathan Freeman did the video work and we're very happy with how it turned out.
Those who know me know that I have been screaming about wanting to do more video work for the past few years. It's been a long, slow process to get to a point where we are finally ready to make some real commitments. Hopefully it is going to mean some more great video pieces like this one. Between trying to do more of the "lifestyle" stuff like the above and educational pieces- like parts of our dealer video project- I am hoping we can turn the company site into something far more dynamic. To paraphrase from the Graduate; "I just want to say one word to you... are you listening? Video."
So, once again, thanks to Nathan Freeman for producing the video- we really love it.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Last week was a real stink bomb in many ways. Lots of stress and endless crap just kept rolling in, not the least of which being another series of car issues. A long time acquaintance passed away and I heard the news mid-week and it really struck home. The week finished a little better than it started, but I was pretty much on empty by the time Saturday finally arrived.
Saturday morning, I rode the 40 miles to work (since the car is once again in the shop) so that I could present the new line of bikes to two of our Texas sales reps- Jeremy Meulman and Tyler Russell. The sub-2hr ride was broken up with a 1hr 45min presentation of the bikes and then another 2 hr ride directly to the velodrome for the memorial services for Randy Clark.
The ride was great, both ways, and my legs and body held up to the 80 miles a lot better than I thought they would- though I did have some significant cramping in my right calf on the trip back. Aside from the cramping and the overall stiffness that comes from not riding big miles regularly enough anymore, I was very happy with how I rode and how the bike performed (3VC carbon with new 6700 Ultegra and full Ritchey parts package... details, review and pics to follow soon). It felt good to be in the saddle that long- even with a break- and not feel totally destroyed.
I got to the track for the memorial and was so happy to see so many people there to celebrate in the life of Randy Clark and share their very moving memories of the man. Like I said before, Randy and I knew a lot of the same people and spent a lot of time in the same circles, but we didn't know each other that well and weren't "best friends". But we bumped into each other a good bit and I always thought he was a good guy. Little did I know what an exceptional man he was until the memorial services. I was touched beyond words by the show of emotion and the amazing recollections of his unselfish giving and kindness. I am now quite sure that I missed out getting to know an amazing man with a passion for life and cycling. I know I feel cheated now by his cancer, though not nearly as much as his true friends and family. Seeing so many tears and so many hugs among friends truly showcased what a great man he was and what a legacy he leaves behind in the memories of all who loved him.
Today, my wife and daughter and I all walked to Balboa Park to see the finish of today's America's Finest City half marathon- my step-father and brother-in-law both ran it. For the record, they are both better men than me because I could maybe run a block before falling to my knees to vomit. Both of them finished the challenging course in less than 2 hours. Needless to say, we were all proud of them. My mother, sister and nephew were all there as well to offer support. The walk itself was a nice way to start the morning and we enjoyed some time playing at the park along the way home as well.
My daughter left early this evening to be with her mother this week, so my goofy little ray of light and love is gone for a bit. So now it's just me and "the wife"... which ain't so bad. Tonight I made crawdads and jambalaya for a nice Southern meal for my Taiwanese wife. She liked it and I think she might keep me a little longer now... I hope. Afterwards, spurred on by the nostalgia of my Southern home, we looked at a bunch of pictures of my life growing up in Alabama and I shared stories of fishing trips and eating my way through "Nawlins". It's actually made for a nicely pleasant evening.
Sometimes life throws countless curve balls at us. I admit that batting was never my specialty. I had a great arm as a kid playing baseball- I could throw to home with either 1 or no bounce from deep center and when I held my control I had a great pitching arm (but that control thing was never good for long). But I was never a great hitter. Life sometimes gets those curve balls across the plate while I'm still trying to catch my breath and concentrate on the ball. Randy's memorial yesterday was another one of those reminders that sometimes a base hit is as good as a home run. Randy was a good man who gave to others without expectations of receiving anything in return- he gave because he liked to help and he liked to give. He was richer for giving, as much as the receiver was richer for the gift. I want to remember to enjoy more and worry less.
Monday morning brings the return of work and stress and being busy. Somewhere in between, I plan to remember to breathe, relax and enjoy something... I hope you all do too.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Anyway, Randy and I were more acquaintances than true "friends" I guess, but we were certainly friends of friends.
It seems like it was just a month ago that I heard Randy had developed pretty severe cancer and that things were less than optimal. What started off as a "simple" skin cancer near his nose turned into a severe and fast spreading case of cancer that eventually took over his liver. All of this took Randy's friends by surprise- all too quickly too.
This past Sunday, on the 9th, Randy passed due to the cancer. Randy's death comes on the heels of another cancer-related death in the cycling community just a few days before. Again, I can not claim that Randy and I were "tight" with each other, but receiving the news of his death today was another gutting experience. I always knew Randy as a quirky guy who really and sincerely cared about cycling- with a very real and meaningful passion. His good soul is evident by the number of people who are deeply saddened by his passing. Randy's life and now his death has touched many people and that influence will hopefully spread faster than any cancer ever could.
Skin cancer is something that many of us nearly take for granted- simply an inconvenience from being in the sun "a little too much". It was a simple skin cancer that ate it's way into Randy's world and eventually his liver. I am one of the worst when it comes to remembering to use sunscreen. Hell, just this past weekend I got a sunburn on my face, neck and head from walking around for hours in the sun at a local street fest. I simply forgot to get my hat and put on some sunscreen- a process that would have maybe slowed me down by about a minute to two minutes. Maybe. For those of you who are cyclists, I understand not wanting to use sunscreen all the time- it can be greasy, it can burn your eyes as you sweat it off, it can leave you covered with a thick film of grime after a ride, etc, etc. But- it can also save your life and spare your friends and family the agony of having to say goodbye to you too soon. It's impossible to say if sunscreen used sooner or more often would have saved Randy's life, but it's my guess it would not have sped it up. Sunscreen should be as obvious as strapping on a helmet. I know that I am going to try to become extra vigilant in my own use of sunscreen because I want to be around as long as possible and because Randy's death serves as a painful reminder that it isn't just reckless drivers that can kill those of us who ride bikes.
Please, in honor of Randy, remember to put on sunscreen when you ride your bike.
Rest in peace Randy; wherever you are, I hope there's always a tailwind and a clean line to the finish.
PS- Here's some information on a memorial ride happening this Saturday at the San Diego Velodrome;
PLEASE JOIN US TO REMEMBER AND HONOR OUR FAMILY MEMBER, FRIEND, TEAM MATE AND THE PERSON WE LOVED.
WE INVITE ALL CYCLISTS TO JOIN US ON THE TRACK FOR ONE SILENT LAP FOR OUR FALLEN TEAM MATE. AFTER THE LAP, PLEASE REMAIN IN THE INFIELD.
ALL NON RIDERS, PLEASE JOIN IN THE STANDS. AFTER THE FINAL CYCLIST LAP, PLEASE JOIN US IN THE INFIELD.
WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO BRING A FLOWER TO PLACE IN THE INFIELD.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS.
RANDY I. CLARK
Friday, August 07, 2009
Though I have ridden on the same SRAM chains for nearly 3 years using the same connector without one single issue, it sounds as though SRAM is being a proactive supplier and issuing the recall. It's a painful decision to make, but I applaud them for doing it.
(I guess it's a good thing I've got a new Ultegra 6700 bike I'm riding...)
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Elden and Susan have been a big part of the cycling community here in the US and have made a big impact on many people's lives. Susan's long time battle with cancer has come to an end and Elden put it best;
Susan’s part in the battle is over, but she didn’t lose. She led the charge. She showed the rest of us how to fight: with determination, focus, creativity, and outrageous endurance.Amen.
I hope that you will all offer support to Elden and his family during this unbelievably hard time. Best of all, if you can, donate to Elden's Livestrong Challenge fundraiser.
I wish I could think of something that would bring Susan back to her loved ones, but obviously that isn't possible. She touched many lives through her courage. Elden touched many lives through his determination and love for his wife. At this moment, my heart is breaking thinking of it all.
God speed Susan.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Critical Mass is a monthly bicycle ride to celebrate cycling and to assert cyclists' right to the road.That's a wonderfully idealistic view- and one that once really drew me to the group.
Up until this past Friday, when I rode my first Mass in at least 3-4 years, I had stayed away from the local CM rides. A few of my coworkers have ridden CM off and on for a while. This past Friday, one of them- Carol- asked to use one of the few Masi demo bikes left over from last year's Interbike demo to do the ride. It was this simple conversation with her that sparked an interest to finally go back and see just how CM has evolved/ changed in San Diego since the last time I rode.
Background; I rode a couple of the CM rides 3-4 years ago, back when the rides here were often only 25- 50 riders showing up. On one night, as was usually the case, several of the riders were drunk and belligerent. Coming to one intersection, this kid in front of me nearly hit a car because he was drunk and the car was partially in the intersection. He yelled at the driver and tossed a water bottle at him. The driver then sped up to us and jumped out of his car grabbing the kid and threatening to beat him to a pulp. At this point, I hopped off my bike to separate them- nearly getting punched by BOTH of them in the process. After getting them apart and talking the driver into leaving the scene as the kid continued to be an ass and the group of CM riders left us to ourselves, I got back on my bike and put CM behind me for good- until this past Friday night.
Please understand that I very much believe in the premise of CM- celebrating the bicycle as transportation and asserting our rights as cyclists to be on the road. As I have said for years, I agree with the message, just not the way it is normally conveyed. I know that the best way to create change is to be a part of the process and educate people, rather than walking away. But, I admit that I simply haven't had the desire to fight the people who are not willing to learn or listen. Some people just see CM as a form of semi-organized anarchy. Others see it as an excuse, or convenient cover, to just be obnoxious asses. Neither do any good to engender any kind of understanding or sympathy toward the cause of gaining and maintaining greater rights for cyclists. In fact, it usually has the opposite effect.
All that said, my curiosity and hope for change has been growing over the past few years as I've heard more and more comments about recent CM rides. I'm a starry-eyed Piscean dreamer, always willing to give something/ someone yet another chance. So, I came home from work on Friday and cooked dinner for my wife and daughter and ate with them before grabbing my bike and heading out the door to catch up with the Mass ride. I caught them just a couple blocks from my home and was shocked to see the number of riders- well into the 100's and I would speculate there were at least 400-500 riders out! Amazing to me. Better yet, there was a police escort of multiple squad cars stopping traffic and encouraging the Mass riders. I was shocked- to say the least. There were a few of the officers who were using their PA systems to talk to the group and point out things like the group breaking up and encouraging regrouping and good intersections to stop and wait for other riders- while stopping traffic. It was a far, far cry from the rides I had last done. I guess it proves less of a liability to be chaperon than try to pick up the pieces after the fact. Regardless, it was awesome to have the support of the San Diego police and I sincerely applaud them for the efforts and outreach.
The last rides I did, were largely small affairs with a few riders and centralized to the small downtown area of San Diego, but this ride meandered all over the place! We probably rode close to 30 miles! I was sorely unprepared for such a ride on the SoulVille SS I was riding fixed and wearing my "street clothes". What I saw this past Friday was an impressive change from years past. A friend of mine I saw toward the end of the ride was explaining that the month before saw closer to 1000 riders! Amazing- especially if you are familiar with San Diego's fractious cycling community.
As we rode through multiple neighborhoods and back through downtown and through the airport (where a crash occurred that sent one rider to the hospital unconscious and in an ambulance), the mood was overall very light. There were moms and dads with their kids, couples, groups of friends, rowdy punks and earnest activists desperately seeking change and awareness. It was everybody you can imagine on a bicycle- and they were getting along. I was very impressed by the overwhelming sense of "brotherhood" that existed among the majority of the crowd. There were BMX bikes, TONS of fixed gear/ singlespeed bikes, lots of mountain bikes and a large amount of regular, everyday bikes. I think I saw two or three people in lycra and only a few "race bikes". It was largely a crowd of ordinary bikes, trying to accomplish the extraordinary.
Some of the sweet, warm love-in feelings were dented and bruised by the large number of drunks riding in the group barely in control of their bikes and passing cans of beer or other drinks back and forth, along with the HUGE amount of people smoking enough weed to give Cheech Marin a contact high. I'm no prude, by any stretch of the imagination... trust me, but it hurts the attempt to educate when many of your "educators" are swerving across the road to puke in the bushes, pee behind parked cars or rolling joints in front of kids. There were numerous riders who were still there just to push the edges of anarchy (and the patience of the police), yelling at pedestrians and attempting to intimidate drivers. I didn't see any altercations and I didn't have to intervene at any point- though I likely would have left any of the idiots to fend for themselves.
I know this all sounds like the rants of disapproval of some middle-aged guy who simply doesn't understand. But... I DO understand and I still think the behavior is stupid and severely undermines the credibility of those who are legitimately trying to seek and create sustainable change. The voices of the folks who were thanking the patient drivers and pedestrians were certainly drowned out or forgotten when some beer-soaked stoner screamed at the curious onlookers trying to figure out what was happening. There were plenty of people who honked, clapped and cheered in support of the ride and I grinned from ear to ear waving to them in thanks... but was embarrassed by the buffoons yelling at onlookers or kicking cars. Those are the actions of a few, but those few still manage to leave the most lasting impressions.
I'm not naive enough to believe that a group like Critical Mass has the power or responsibility to prevent goobers from ruining their ride or steering the "message" off course. Nor am I such a stuffed shirt that I don't believe in having fun- I do believe in fun and like to have some myself... believe me. Yes, I know I should shut the hell up and put my big old mouth to work "fixing the problem" as I see it. But... you know, I just don't have the energy anymore. Work, marriage, bills, family... the desire to tilt at windmills is just diminished now. The core of the CM message is very real and important to me, but the fight is just not as strong- especially when the drunk stoner yelling at cars simply doesn't give a shit.
So I'm not sure if I'll be going back out on a Mass ride again any time soon. My heart is just as behind the message as it ever was, but I'm just not too sure I've gotten to that place where I'm comfortable with how the message is being delivered... on my behalf.
Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time coming to terms with it all...
(PS- I love how the writer of the opening link on CM I reference finally gave up on the project due to the behavior of some other CM people... helps to illustrate the point of my own conflicted feelings.)