cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

October 2007
« Sep   Nov »
Filed under: photos
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 5:22 pm

A Ghoulish Happy Hallowe'en!
click for big

Happy All Hallo’s Eve to you and your favorite goblins…
and happy birthday to the blog, which is now two years old.

1 comment
Calling All Cars! Calling All Cars!
Filed under: unfortunate events
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 8:42 am

Be on the lookout for a stolen bicycle!

(Posted to the RBW list by Doug - I just know there are a lot of Bay Area centric folks who wander through this page, and hope to get the word out far and wide)

My step-daughter’s 650B conversion was stolen on the afternoon
of October 25th, in Palo Alto, California.  It is pretty
distinctive, so if you hear about it or see it, please let
me know.

    Green Peugeot mixte frame with custom “FINGLAS” decals
        and a Peugeot headbadge
    Berthoud steel fenders
    Albatross handlebars with cork grips and
        Rivendell silver bar end shifters
    Grand Bois tires
    Veolcity Triple-V rims
    Terry Liberator X saddle.
    Rivendell Pa canvas panniers

-Doug Shaker       doug(overat)theshakers.org (y’gotta cut/paste/correct the email)

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The Ugly Truth
Filed under: photos, cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 8:17 am

In video form, on a beautiful October day…

…in my defense, I’d like to point out that it took 40 minutes or so for me to slow down that much. (Oh! And my wife yells “GO-GO-GO!” right near the end, so careful if you are watching at work.)

All told, it went OK.  Hopefully, with a little judicous speed work and transition “smoothing”, things will get better.

The event itself was the 2nd race of the Bay Area Super Prestige Series put on by Pilarcitos. This race was held at Candlestick Point Park, which may have been a more understandable name when the stadium in the background also had the same moniker.  Now, they call it “Monster Park” (which I don’t think is related to Halloween). This is the fifth season for this race series, and the group who puts it on runs it pretty flawlessly.  At least they manage to put up the start/finish banner and start the races on time with a minimum of fuss.  This should not be underestimated.

They also (wisely) reworked the pre-race warmup access. In the past, the later riders would be out on the course at all manner of times, periodically causing issues. This year, they don’t let anyone but racers onto the course until after the first riders have finished.

Pretty immediately after registering, I noticed a parade of riders on the course.  As they all wore knee and arm warmers, it was pretty obvious that they were warming up.  After slipping under a barrier to join them, I did have a moment or two of “what the heck was I thinking?”, especially after touching the front brake at the wrong time and washing out on a slightly tricky bit.

They cleared the course and I headed over to the stationary trainer - a trick that really helped keep things warm.  Pedaled easy for a while in the cool breezes and watched folks negotiate more broken glass than you find at the local recycling center, while taking warmup laps around the parking lot.

The course didn’t have too much in the way of elevation - there was one little 20 foot runup (after a little off-camber wiggle-n-dogleg).  The fast kids actually rode up that, but it was a bit beyond my momentum.  The race organizers also made optimum use of a levee-type features in the middle of the park, and we rode up onto it in any manner of ways. 

Basically, it started on flat pavement, then reversed itself to run through bumpy dirt and dried grass for a 100 or so yards.  It swept right to reverse again, then cut hard right to jump up over the levee, with an immediate 180 degree left to come back over again.  Then it spat you onto a paved path for a while, before veering towards the water with a few 180 degree turns.  The first barrier had been humorously placed near the base of the levee, so you were forced to remount (if you lacked the bunny-hop skills) at the top.  However, this one was narrower than the first, so you (well I…) fought momentum slightly to remount before spilling over to the downside.  Another immediate 180 (to the right this time) and back over the levee before finding a bit of flat path again. Another lazy, left-turning loop towards the waterfront before heading onto a sllllloooooooooowwwwww section on the dirt/grass ending in double barriers and the pits. A quick 180 among the spare bikes and wheels, before a dip, a path, the afore mentioned off-camber wiggle-n-dogleg leading to the runup. Cowbells and cheering folks (especially for those who could ride it).  Then a lot of slaloming through rutty bits before the trickiest levee topper - a dogleg approach with the ascent in a switchback left hand turn. Again - a bit tough for me to ride. Another slalom and one last clean, square approach up the levee, before dropping down and beginning the open road end of the course.  First was a few hundred yards of dirt road, with glass and imbedded concrete lumps to avoid, then after a quick couple turns came the paved bit which led all the way back to the finish.

And repeat. 6 laps for my bunch. 10 for the fast folks.

As I mentioned in the recap post - didn’t get lapped (though that meant I was the last one on the course in my div, so I’m not sure that’s “winning”), didn’t crash, felt better than I’d hoped but couldn’t sustain things all that well. But, my calf held up and that is a happy thing.

All in all, as is obvious from the video, too much braking, not enough pedaling, kicking my leg too far back on dismounts, leaning the bike away on dismounts, and there’s a little half hop-step which I’ve got to lose.  Hope to make some progress before the November 4th race in Mclaren Park.

Other good photos from the folks at Abbiorca (#107 in M/B/35/45 is me lifting my bike too high over the barriers), Lauren (see her blog, too), plus bicigirl, Coda2, Evan’s BASP#2 series , Jamfoto’s set on smugmug and of course more are trickling in on FlickrMy photos were kinda ho-hum, but I’d left my good camera at work so I had to use the pencam, which is why everyone is so equally far away…

Post Race Wrap-up
Filed under: cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:19 pm

Should be in bed, so this’ll be short. 

Calf felt good and I didn’t get lapped. Rode better than I shoulda after laying off for a couple weeks, but I had to throw it into neutral a couple times to recover. All in all, a good time.  Nice course, well run by Pilarcitos. Photos from other races here.  My wife shot vid, so I gotta edit it and upload it.

While you’re waiting, go read Bike Snob NYC’s CX Primer - it’s funnier than hell.

Feels Like…Nuthin’
Filed under: cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:03 pm

Field tested things late this afternoon after a pain free trot on Tuesday.  Jogged around without the bike for a bit first then did increasing-speed dismounts until I was going pretty danged fast.  Even clambered over a couple picknic tables. No pain in the calf, though it’s a tad tight this evening. So, I guess we’ll see what happens.

Now my only worry is what 40 minutes out on a race course will feel like tomorrow after - oh - three weeks without any speed work. Oh well, it’s what I like about cross - it ends at a discreet and specific time.

A Visit to Wheelgirl in Berkeley

Earlier in the day, my wife and I were bopping around 4th Street in Berkeley, tracking down some supplies. An A-Frame sign prompted us down the street towards a bike shop I hadn’t heard about before - Wheelgirl.com.  So, fresh Peet’s in hand, we poked further along, and came upon the oddest olive oil shop we’d ever seen - it had a bike shop in it:

The Stonehouse Olive store has most of the road frontage, but off to the left of the sales area is a nice little teaser room:

Tearing ourselves out of the front room, we made our way a bit further into the back room.

We met Elizabeth, the owner and Steve (?), who took some time away from wrenching to put a way-too-light Lynsky Ti road frame in our hands. I’m not easily seduced by the grey metal, but that frame was done very nicely.  Interesting array of products - they had more Phil Wood hubs in different colors than I’ve seen before, and a really impressive set of Sugino cranks. Of course, I neglected to photo those. Dead center in the photo above is Elizabeth’s Lynsky track bike, which she’d rigged with a classy Ofmega crankset and some steel NJS-looking Deda bars. It’s rigged up with a front brake for her commute, and looks like a titanium rocket.

The shop was pretty eclectic.  If I have it correctly, they’ve been around for 3 or so years, and before opening the storefront, they specialized in custom build-ups of higher end frames. On the other hand, they had a tasteful array of Dahon folders for sale, and as we chatted and looked around, a customer returned a “loaner” utility bike.


Anyway, it’s worth a visit, as they’ve carved out quite an interesting niche for themselves. Pretty interesting and diverse blog as well.   Wheelgirl.com

Squishy Things
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 8:19 am

The skies at 3:18 am had been clear and gorgeous, star-lit and mysterious - the one benefit of the little dog’s recent & repeated recent need to go outside at that horrific hour.  But, four hours later a tight and damp fog hugged the region and visibility barely stretched across the street.  Not quite enough to dampen the ground, but certainly holding enough chill to mandate a second strong cup of hot coffee before heading out. Besides, nothing short of horizontal sleet was going to derail my first ride in over two weeks.

Hilsen got the nod because gear choice and coastability would be kinder. Pulling it down from the hook, I noticed the Jack Brown tires needed air. They easily compressed under strong thumb pressure.  Normally, I would’ve whisked out the floor pump and brought them back into the “normal” range, but today that didn’t seem like the right thing to do. 

Normally, I’m haunted by pinch flats - if not the actual occurence, then the avoidance of them.  Riding 30-35mm tires on the exposed rock edges on the local trails is a good way to gank rims and get really good at quick flat fixes.  So, I’ve evolved what is mostly an avoidance technique, I’ll admit it - I run tires pretty danged firm. Afterall, no  one is going to mistake me for a bird-boned climber, and I’d rather get bounced around a bit more than pull the wheel, strip the tire, peel the tube and replace things.

However, one of the reasons that the Hilsen has such stantial frame clearance is so that you can run large volume tires.  One of the reasons you run large volume tires is to enjoy the cush. Enjoying the cush means y’gotta let the air out. Which, as I’ve mentioned, I don’t tend to do.

And there I stood, pushing down on the bars and watching the footprint of the front tire spread out on the kitchen floor. Since this wasn’t going to be an overly technical ride, it might be a nice distraction to see how low things could go.  Off I went.

The ride was cushy-smooth, giving more credence to the saying “33.3 is the new 650B!” The only thing I noticed was that the front ended felt a little sluggish while maneuvering at a dead-stop (as it well should, since the tire seem to have about as much footprint as my, um, foot…), and there was a pang of “We’re capsizin’ cap’n!” when I leaned over at said slow speed and felt the bike go deep into the travel of the tire.  Seemed more that it acted “different” than anything actually dangerous.

The other slightly different behavior took place while descending a curvy stretch of road. I noticed that the handlebars now wanted to “turn into” the turn. Now, since bikes aren’t actually turned by “turning in”, it’s more likely that it was resisting my unconcious efforts to countersteer. And just to be doubly clear on this point, the bicycle tracked phenomenally well through the turns.  There was not a corner where anything felt sketchy or were I had to push it harder to make the curve. It just had a little bit of resistance. More than likely, I was experiencing a bit of “pneumatic trail”, as Jan over at BQ uses it, sort of the rubber-meets-road equivilent of using really long skis.

By the end of the ride (in which my calf remained happy, thank you very much…), I was used to it - aiming the tires at anything resembling corrupted topography and relaxing more through the turns.  Though the tires were softer than I will end up running them, it was instructive to see just how far things could be reduced (and I had the feeling that there was still a bit more I could have let out). 

Big soft cushy tires.  Who’da figgered?

Two Weeks in Three Syllables
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:17 am

“Not ridin’…”

By choice, though.  Well, not “choice”.  More “required”.

I seriously  doubt that this post will continue in a three-syllable-per-sentance format for the remainder of the missive, as, though it would certainly be a good excercise, the format would become quickly tiresome - though in a perhaps Hemmingway-esque manner - before anything important got related.

(Clauses are my friend…)

Today marks two full weeks of  being off the bike - no easy pedaling, commuting, running a quick errand, loafing on the trainer or heading into the hills.   I expect that I’ve been a little less fun to live with, but at least have the dog to walk and a little gym-time-on-other-muscles to help clear my head. As I lamented (whined about?), I missed the Lion of Fairfax, Carlos’ Mixed-Terrain Ride, the Pilarcitos Brisbane CX race and a number of really nice days.  My new Hilsen is wondering in horror just what kind of sick household it has been delivered too, where bikes hang for weeks without being ridden. Luckily, it’s in the stall next to the Quickbeam, so things should be going something like this,

AHH: “I’ve only been ridden a few times.  Now, we’re just hanging here and he only comes in to look at us before he goes to sleep.  I would’ve been better off going to a shop!”
QB: “Don’t worry.  This is an aberration.”

Yeah, so, anyway…

Since TV shows now seem to require recaps even though you’ve only been gone for the length of a commercial break (and because I’m probably a little bit pissier this morning, let’s call it what it is - the commercials pause for show breaks…), I might as well bring things up to date:  My mid-right calf twanged on a ride a few months ago.  Painful, and noticeable as it was a sudden change, but it lessened quickly and I finished the ride. Except it stayed sore and noticeable, worse when I dropped my heel a bit and used more power.  As I was running more in anticipation of CX season, it didn’t hurt, but felt sore and tightened up pretty good after my plodding ended.  Then as I felt good running and started adding “speed work” (a relative term…) it said, “Nope.  Not in the contract.” and left no question as to “running through the pain”.  Took a week off running (but kept riding), as the first CX race loomed, and then went out to practice dismounts and trots two weeks ago last night to see if that layoff was enough. It warn’t.  Riding home hurt more than it shoulda, too. Since it hurt only when my knee was bent, that seemed to indicate the soleus muscle.  Most of what I’ve read said that a couple weeks off would either fix it  or  it was serious.  So, no riding or running.  Which is more or less where we are now. I’ve got one more massage/ultrasound session today for good luck, and may even take a bike down off the rack this weekend. 

There’s a Pilarcitos race on the 21st, which may be a bit of a suffer-fest, given my current fitness level.  But, we gotta see if everything holds together first. That’s in the future.  Gotta just take a small bite and chew what’s on my plate right now.

These two weeks have been kinda goofy. It feels a little like the end of summer vacation, when you suddenly wonder where all the time went and how come nothing got done.  But, I figured I’d be bouncing off the walls by now, due to lack of ride-time. Not so. Felt kinda loggy and tired for most of it, so maybe the timing was good and I was fighting something.  I do know that during a weekend class I had, it seemed as though my brain wasn’t quite there either. I guess if you notice it at the time, that’s a good sign…

But, the end result is that the bikes didn’t get teched, the galleries were only fitfully updated and pruned, and the piles-to-deal with still lie in wait. It’s the kinda thing that could get you a bit depressed, given the influx of grey days and the first fall rains.

On the other hand, walking doesn’t hurt a bit, so the little dog - Hula, not Tashi - has enjoyed some longer than normal routes which start a bit earlier in the day.  Though it has had me snapping cam-phone photos of dubious quality, the pre-dawn walks seem particularly helpful in spurring writing. Well, more or less.

I get these moments of clarity as the little dog trots along, sniffing, pulling, pausing and peeing. Sentances reveal themselves which give pleasure, which seem to have just the right combination of detachment and intensity, description and suggestion. Occasionally, there’s a clear and Important Thought.  Too often, when I get home, they don’t directly translate to paper or screen.  It’s frustrating, but a challenge I do enjoy.

Out on the walks, these topics and sentances are brightly colored fish that swim and flutter tantalizingly close.

You grab one and carefully nurse it home.  It seems vibrant and powerful and upon returning, you throw it in the tank.  But, somehow the colors aren’t quite as intense. Occasionally, it recovers from the shock and slowly begins to swim.  With careful and watchful feeding, it gains some strength.  Most however, wobble slowly and mostly float suspended in the water, until they begin to bob up, their color faded and gills ceasing action.  You feel bad, because you want them all to make it.

Then again, some days you feel that it’s all a too-simple game - itself a distraction. You can look up, way up above your head and see the shining hovering circle that is the surface.  Way up there. Beyond the breath you have, maybe.  And you realize that maybe you’re just screwing around, playing with fish, instead of trying with all your might to reach the surface.

That’s not helpful either.  I’ll discard that thought and remember in the words of those wiser than me, “Keep Pedaling, It Will Get Better.”

and so, with a smile to face the day…

Quick Update
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:07 pm

Earlier this evening, I pulled the San Rafael missing persons announcement from last weekend. Apparantly, he was discovered on Wednesday, and it didn’t end well

I didn’t want to keep the announcement up, but it didn’t seem right to pull it and not mention why.

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Bike Rack Photo Contest
Filed under: general, photos
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 4:55 pm

One of the enjoyable spots to hang out on the web (when you aren’t drooling over the Current Classics, Singlespeed, Working Bike or Cyclocross Galleries…) is over at BicycleFixation.com.  Rick and Gina have pulled together a nice collection of stories and essays, photos and more. It’s a great honor to be able to point folks over there for what seems to be a pretty cool photo contest. So, without further ado - hot off the mojo wire from RickRise:


Riding a bicycle for transportation inevitably means having to park 
your bike while you shop, dine, visit, work, or play, and in this car-
addled world, especially in the US, that often means a parking meter, 
signpost, fence, or tree serves as your parking structure.

More and more cities and businesses worldwide, however, are making an 
effort to accommodate those of us who travel using the world’s most 
efficient machine, and some of the resulting facilities are 
wonderful…while many are not.

In order to explore what’s out there for keeping our beloved velos 
safe while they await our return, we have decided to hold the Bicycle 
Fixation Great Bike Rack Contest. We are asking you to go out into 
your city and photograph what you think is the finest bike parking 
rack you can find (or the worst!) These must be intentional bike 
racks, installed specifically for bicycle parking.

If you think you’ve seen the best (or worst) in bike rack design and 
placement, read through the details below, take your picture, and 
follow the submission directions at the URL below. Pictures will be 
judged by a panel of experts in urban design, architecture, and 
bicycle transportation, and by popular vote of our readership, and 
three winners will be rewarded with Bicycle Fixation products!


Richard Risemberg
Bicycle Fixation

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I (heart) SA-SR!
Filed under: bike tech
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 2:55 pm

This just popped into my email inbox:

Hello Everyone,
I would first like to thank everyone for their interest in our upcoming remake of the ASC. As we grow closer to production I will be posing questions on our blog www.sunrace-sturmeyarcher.blogspot.com regarding what you would like to see in the final production model.
The first question is regarding the acceptable amount of backlash in the hub. Meaning the amount of slack there is before engagement. The original was quite sloppy in this regard but we are interested in your opinion. The question is up now in the form of a poll and if you have a minute and could head over to the blog and add your 2 cents I would greatly appreciate it!
David Prosser
Sunrace Sturmey Archer


So - what are you waiting for?  Git yerself over there and fill out the feedback form!
ASC….three gears, no coasting.  Hot diggety dog!