This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Monday, October 2, 2017

An event that rivals the advent of disc brakes.

Outside Magazine has produced a list of new products found at the Interbike show this year which, they promise, will comprise the FUTURE of cycling.  It was not even an interesting list of products and better represent the past than the future.
There is the Cento10 Air road bike.  Remarkable for having clearance for tires up to 32 mm wide, it is revolutionary to anyone who has been cycling less than 10 years.  It does have some sort of elastomer crap in the seat tube that is supposed to enhance "vertical compliance" by a few millimeters, whatever that means.
Smith Sunglasses now use magnets to attach to the interchangeable lenses. (WTF!!!)
Pivot Mach 5.5 will only be offered in one lot of 300 bikes and
 are unremarkable except for the paint job.
The 3T Strada will be revolutionary in offering a 1x11 drivetrain 
and clearance for wider tires, like all the new bikes.
The Focus Project Y will eliminate any pretense and include electric assist and battery pack built into the downtube.  No more game playing, mechanical doping is available right off the showroom floor.
The rest of the revolutionary 11 products comprising the "future of cycling" are;
Oakley has a new helmet,
Ortlieb makes a backpack,
Burley makes a trailer,
Thule "invented" a hydration pack,
there is a more expensive inner tube for the "tubeless" tires,
and a bike rack for your car, after all 
riding back to your car is the future of cycling.

I haven't been so excited since disc brakes were introduced.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sprinkling a grain of scientific salt on the process.

     Bicycle tires get a lot of analysis and over attention these days.  Conventional wisdom is that higher pressure and skinnier tires make riding faster, therefore easier.  But that has been challenged over the past few years.  As with everything the practical truth lies somewhere in the middle of all the techno race jargon.  Those who watch racing report that riders in the big time are getting into huge (25mm) tires they wouldn't have thought to use a few years ago.   I've been told that new road bikes are being offered with clearance for 35mm tires.  What!  A versatile road bike!?!?  
     The theory I have heard is that the wider, softer tires will absorb irregularities in the road surface without slowing.  The smaller harder tires bounce against tiny irregularities and cause more resistance which we feel as "road chatter" in our hands.  It makes some sense to me, I switched from 23mm to 25mm on my road bike years ago just to eliminate the vibration and my wrists are glad I did.  Now days, I'm riding my Hillborne with 32mm tires on charity and group rides and find myself scrubbing off speed on irregular surfaces to keep off another's wheel.  
      Of course we can't leave this alone and just go ride our bikes, there has to be more analysis and electronic gadgetry to go with this.  Along with the theory is a reconsideration of tire pressure.
Past practice among the elite of club riders is to pump up the tires has hard as you can.  That's why some still use sew ups, they simply won't blow off the rim!  The whole idea of optimal tire pressure has become codified.  Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly has written extensively on the subject.   It all revolves around the research of Frank Berto who suggests that tires roll most efficiently at 15% compression and, since the front and rear of the bike carry different weights, the front should require less pressure than the rear to achieve that optimum rolling resistance.  Is your head spinning yet?
        Don't worry, there's an app for that.  
     The Berto tire pressure app allows you to customize your tire pressure for each bike according to bike type, tire size, your body weight and any accessory weight on each wheel.  Sounds great, it assumes that 60% of the load will be on the seat and goes from there.  The numbers I came up with are downright scary.  On 25mm tires it says I should be using 130Psi on the rear and 95Psi on the front; 35 lbs difference?!?  As the tires increase in size the variation reduces considerably.   I suspect that, like all things bike, the proportions are probably based upon the great racers, not the average person.  We all know that spandex hamsters are beings without chests or shoulders and rely on tendrils for arms.  For those of us who possess the forbidden body parts, the ratio should be different.

       As if this whole thing isn't anal enough, I broke it down to 55/45 for my build, applied that to the original Berto chart and came up with 110/87 lbs. for a road bike.   That's a little less scary but still kinda weird.  Applying this to larger tires the variation is reduced to around a 10lb difference in PSI.  Less general pressure produces less variance between front and rear.
      All of this has conclusively proven that I have way too much time on my hands, but if this trend catches on I can see the future with everybody relying on the cell phone app to dictate their tire pressure, perhaps linked to a compression monitor (a lazer on the dropouts to measure the tires constantly) and spandex hamsters stopping by the roadside to feverishly adjust their tire pressure every ten miles or so.  

It can be coordinated through our Recon Jet glasses to constantly monitor optimal progress towards imaginary Strava prizes.  
     Or, we can swallow a bit of the Kool Aid, say screw it, run a little less pressure in your tires, a little less than that in front, and pedal merrily along in our golf shirts and dollar store glasses.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A few days in the woods.

     There comes a time when you just have to go new places and see new things.  A bike makes that easy because you can take a nearby road and not speed by every sight, sound and smell.  Bike touring transforms the familiar areas into new adventures. Every few weeks I like to choose another new one.  I have been through the Manistee National Forest dozens of times but never by bike.  It's just about 60 miles away and there are miles and miles of gravel two tracks winding through thousands of acres of forest.  
     I started by driving to Paris, Michigan that is, where there is a convenient staging area on the White Pine Trail leading from Grand Rapids to Cadillac.  After verifying with a nearby county park official that I could leave my car for a few days, I took off in search of dirt roads and different views.
   The first day took me to a few county roads through the farms and forest on my way to Baldwin. 
Enroute is a little town I had never heard of called Idlewild.  Fully expecting an intersection with a bait shop and gas station I found instead a museum and interpretive center for a hidden piece of Michigan history.
     Idlewild had been one of the first places in America where free blacks were allowed to own property.  Over the years it attracted affluent entertainers from around the country as a summer retreat and playground.  Looking around I could just imagine summer get togethers with people from Chicago and Detroit.  Concerts in the park were provided for small audiences by the likes of Gladys Knight, Aretha, Dizzy Gillespie and others who were escaping the heat and hassle of the city.
  Moving on a few miles down the road to the town of Baldwin.  I was able to stop for a couple of beers at local pub before grabbing supplies for dinner and breakfast.

Scattered throughout the forest are a dozen or so campsites at different locations.  National Park Service campgrounds are small, and do not provide water and electrical hookups for RV's.  Fortunately they provide scenery and privacy for cycling campers.

I spent a couple of days wandering through the woods on the "gravel" roads.  Most of them are pretty easy riding, but the bottom of hills collect deep, sandy washes which will swallow a 2" tire.  It would be a little easier if I wasn't carrying clothing and camping equipment, but I was and will be.   Fast descents were thrilling on the slippery surfaces and I always had the deep sandy washouts waiting  at the bottom.  My foot found the ground more than once.  Climbing on this stuff, well, it is what it has to be.  Granny down early and be patient.
After a couple of days wandering the back roads, I stayed at the Pearson Bridge Campground near the Pine River.   The Pine is one of the most popular canoe trips in the state.  It has a quick current and draws a particularly entertaining crowd on weekends.  Alcohol is strictly forbidden, but they'd be better off handing out speeding tickets at a Nascar race.
I wanted to spend four or five days wandering the breadth of the forest but had a wedding to attend.  So I cut it short and climbed through the hills of  Caberfae ski country on the ride to Cadillac.
After a quiet night in Cadillac I took the White Pine Trail back to the staging area in Paris.  The White Pine is a well maintained rail trail with few interupptions.  
It intersects with the Pere Marquette trail in Reed City where they preserved the rail intersection and refurbished the old depot as a city meeting facility and park.
The trail is nearly all paved except for a section from Le Roy to Reed City which is a gravelly two track.  When it is finished there will be a fully paved and dedicated bike path 90 miles long from Cadillac to Grand Rapids.  It will intersect at Reed City with the east/west Pere Marquette leading from Baldwin to Midland Mi.  It looks like a nice ride for another time.
While in Cadillac I stayed at the NPS Hemlock campground just outside of the city.  There is much more concern for the seclusion of each campsite as you can see from entrance to my site
compared to the "modern" State Park campground down the road.  
So much for "modern life."  I'd rather be primitive.

Finally, have you ever wondered what happened to those old clunky   Pletscher "mousetrap rear racks?  They still make them and they do work, better than ever.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Back on asphalt

...but I can forget my center chain ring going through the Caberfae area. It's either the granny ring or the big one for M55.