Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
"Little Circles is a journey towards a human powered, human scaled life. I'm working to build a business that creates sustainable alternatives for moving about - while working (and documenting) to extract myself and my family from our dependence on the fossil fueled steel exoskeletons that dominate our culture. I'm interested in practical pedaling - its simplicity, its beauty, and its sometimes wet, cold, and snowy reality in the wonderful city of Burlington, Vermont. I expect to make my fair share of mistakes, and plan to document both the successes and failures here.
Initially I'll be focusing on bikes and gear for the rest of us - the grocery getters, the kid haulers, the commuters, the moms, dads, and the practical pedalers.
Inspired by our friends across the pond Little Circles is New England's first dealer of fine Dutch bicycles. I am currently special ordering Dutch Azor city bikes and the brilliant Bakfiets.nl cargo bikes. I adapt these to New England's terrain with lower gearing and 8 speed hubs and they come stock with dynamo powered lights, fenders and a chaincase for everyday, all conditions riding. Kid tents, cargo covers, bags, and panniers are also available. Sales are currently web (and phone) only and lead times vary based on quantities available from our importer and shipment schedules coming across the Atlantic. I'll be stocking these in quantity in the not so distant future.
As I gain a toehold the stable of bikes and gear for the cycling life will continue to grow and I'll also be introducing products of my own design and manufacture - including an updated version of the rain cape and spats as well as a handmade wooden bike designed to help the little ones learn to balance.
Stay tuned, and thanks for reading."
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I managed to get out the door at the crack of 10 this morning and decided to ride out to Bragg Creek. On a nice Saturday morning in the summer there were bound to be loads of roadies out on the highway and I was in the mood for some rabbit hunting...=-) So far I've been able to out ride every roadie I've met, but I know there are bigger fish to fry and that the faster guys had to be out there today. I wasn't disappointed.
As I was getting my gear together in the parking lot a fit guy on a nice tri-bike headed out towards Bragg Creek. I left a few minutes behind him expecting to make an easy catch. By the time I was on the main road he had 800 metres on me. I still thought I'd reel him on the first descent. Trouble was the gap wasn't closing. All the climbing is in the first part of this ride so he actually increased the gap on me. This hadn't ever happened to me on the Fujin. I kept my speed up and figured I'd make up the distance between us once I crested the climb. The rest of the Hwy 8 stretch to Hwy 22 is slightly downhill or flat - ideal bent territory. I did manage to reel him in a bit and he grew from a faint red speck to the point where I could see his bike and legs spinning. By the time we turned south onto Hwy 22 we were only a 100 metres apart, but I was cooked from going full out to catch him for 20kms. I saw some construction flagging in the breeze and realized we had had a mild tailwind the whole time which would have helped him more than me.
I gave it some gas and caught his wheel - staying a polite full bike length behind him. He looked fit and was maintaining a 35-36kph speed. He noticed me behind him so I gave him a wave - which was met with a shake of the head. My guess was he wasn't thinking what a cool bike....lol...after drafting for about 1km I decided I needed to make a move. To be honest I wasn't sure it would stick, but I didn't want to be a wheel suck. I pulled wide and accelerated past him at 40kph quickly opening up a gap of 200 metres. Then I settled down into a 37kph pace to rest.
He attacked several times and I was worried as he grew bigger in my mirrors, but the Fujin wasn't to be denied. I matched his accelerations and kicked it up to 40kph for a bit increasing the gap. Problem was I was cooked. I ended up drifting back to 33kph and knew I couldn't fight off another attack - luckily he blew up worse than I did and didn't accelerate again. After a rest I pushed the pace up and caught a few more Tri-bikers before reaching the gas station at Bragg Creek.
There was a group of 5 tri-bikers standing around outside. I parked the Fujin next to the last bike and said "Hi." No response. The fit Tri-biker I passed showed up and these were his buddies. I rested for 5mins finishing my bottle. I said "Hi." to a couple more riders as they walked past to use the bathrooms and was greeted with silence. They didn't even glance at the Fujin as they went by, which for a bike geek, must have taken a lot of effort.
I figured no one was going to invite me over for beer and nachos later so I hit the road. I love the ride back as it is usually fast. This time was no exception and I saw a pace line of 3 DF riders 200 metres down the road so the fun was on again. As I got closer they were cruising at 38-40kph and were pretty fit. I passed them at 43kph and when they realized I was there the first guy started to accelerate. I kicked it up to 50kph and got a decent gap on them and kept up a blistering pace back to Hwy 8. One thing I have learned from the bicycle performance calculator I found online - the faster I can drive the Fujin the bigger my advantage over a DF bike. You'd have to be a monster to beat a lowracer at 40-50kph on the flats if you are riding a DF bike.
The rest of the ride back was fast and uneventful. I love cruising along in the 40's on a pedal bike - it's pure poetry. I knew I was going to set a PR for this route today so I tried to limit my losses on the climbs at the end of the ride. I rolled into the parking lot happy with a great ride. Average speed 36.5kph - my best average speed for this ride on my Volae was 29.2kph - mind you I have more Kms in my legs now.
I am really glad I bought the Fujin from EBay - what a great bike. Fast, light and with awesome handling at high and slow speeds. I really couldn't ask for more from it.
We came up with a cunningly simple, but effective neck rest. The Radical Designs rack bag has bottle holders so she can keep three bottles on the go.
Friday, August 17, 2007
When I got to the end of the parkway I enjoyed the killer hill down towards Lake Louise. I was going so fast I didn't notice the wind until I turn onto the Trans Canada Highway heading east. I almost always have had a mild to moderate tailwind on the return leg of this route. This sends me sailing at 40-50kph towards Banff and is a great recovery after pushing hard on the final parkway climbs. Sadly this time I was greeted with a very vigorous headwind. If I pushed it I could maintain 30kph, but it certainly wasn't a recovery. What can you do? At least I was on an aerodynamic bent so it could have been much much worse. I got a few honks of support along the way which was nice. At one point a travel van pulling a large black trailer with "ICE" & "TRICE" stickers on the back went past. I figured those trikers might stop up ahead and have a cold drink waiting for me...=-) I guess they weren't down with a two wheeled brother because they didn't stop at all. I finally rolled in to the parking area happy to see my truck.
My avg speed for the ride was 29.1kph. My PR on my DF road bike is 31.1kph for this ride. With a normal tailwind or no wind at all I should be able to beat this on the Fujin. I'll have to get back up there again this year and give it another try.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Jeremey was pretty impressed by the ride down low. I don't think lowracers are better than highracers, but the experience of riding these two styles of bents is very different.
I am going to predict we see Jeremy riding a lowracer of his own in the next 12-24 months!
One thing that was nice - I got to see what my bents looked like on the road from an observer's perspective. They are cool looking bikes...=-) The Taifun, in particular, was uber cool looking i action.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I've been reading your blogs for a while now. At first, I thought these "bents" were utterly ridiculous. Like, really really ridiculous. But in the past week, I have started thinking that they are kinda cool. At first, I think it was a yellow one, then more recently it was an orange one. And today a black one.
Sigh. Two questions come to mind. Do they make these bikes for hobbit sized people that ride 47 cm cyclocrosses? And exactly how many more days until I graduate?
P.S. The suggestion about the Patagonia half mass bag was good. They fit well, and are a reasonable size. Now to find a store that doesn't just sell feces coloured ones.
The girl with 3 cats, 2 bikes, and 2 feet"
Dear Cat/Bike/Foot Girl,
Bents are cool for two reasons - they are comfortable and efficient ways to get around. The low variety I am presently riding are ideal for those riders who are short on stature. With a seat height of about 12" you can easily put both feet on the ground. Black is one of the faster colours as well as looking very fine...=-) I have had some good luck finding cheaper used bents so should you wish to go to the dark side I can help you do so at a reasonable cost.
I can't tell you how many days until you graduate, but I can suggest you special order in that Patagonia Half Mass Bag or mail order it.
Be well - ride often!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
I built these wheels up a few years ago as a heavy duty expedition wheel set. They are 36H XT hubs laced to 26" Sun Rhino Lite rims with 2mm DT Swiss stainless steel spokes. The hubs are disc brake models and the rims are v-brake or canti compatible so you can use them with either system. The wheels were built by a local master builder who has built all my wheels for the last 10 years.
I used them for one tour of about 800kms and have since gone the lightweight route with my bicycle touring and don't need these wheels any longer. They would be ideal for fully loaded touring and/or a heavy rider needing bomber 26" wheels for road or mtb biking use.
I am asking $250USD + shipping OBO. Note: the wheels don't come with disc rotors or a cassette.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Lake Louise to Bow Summit
I was feeling great on the long gradual [40km @ 4-6%] climb to Bow Summit. It was a warm sunny day and I was riding a fairly smooth shoulder. Traffic was light and I saw quite a few touring cyclists coming the other way. Both sides of the road were thick with coniferous trees that thinned out as I climbed upwards. I passed Num Ti Jah Lodge were I had a really nice second breakfast on my 2006 bike tour of the parkway. This time though I was all riding and no stopping. I spent my time about equally between my middle and big chain ring. The climbing seemed effortless. I have to say I was a bit surprised when I saw the sign marking the summit.
Bow Summit to Saskatchewan Crossing
What a thrill ride dropping off of Bow Summit I hit 82kph right away and kept up my speed for what seemed like forever [note the word forever will feature prominently in my return trip, but not in a good way!]. I took the whole lane and bombed the slopes as long as I could. There were several cars lined up behind me, but nobody seemed to mind - perhaps the spectacle was worth it...=-) You know you are going fast when slowing down to 50kph seems like you are plodding along. The shoulder along this section of the parkway became fairly rough with lots of frost heaves. Since traffic was light I used the freshly paved road much of the time. If the opposing lane was free traffic went around me and when vehicles were coming in both directions I used the shoulder. Saskatchewan Crossing was a nice break with chocolate milk and some energy snacks. Lots of interest in the Fujin - in fact I had to beg off when one older gentleman wouldn't stop asking questions. He asked how fast my ride was so far and I was a bit shocked to find out my avg speed was 29.3kph even with all the climbing.
Saskatchewan Crossing to Bow Summit
The return trip was painful. I expected to jump back on the bike and rip out a fast ride back - I was mistaken. I can't fully explain it, but the slog back up to Bow Summit was interminable. In fact it felt like it was taking forever. I actually stopped once to make sure my brakes weren't rubbing and the drivetrain was turning freely - sadly they were fine. I was able to verify that the Fujin hands just fine at 5kph as I crawled up the steepest sections. The north slope of Bow Summit is a lot shorter at 7kms, but also much steeper at 7-9%. I didn't need my granny on the climb up, but I sure was glad for a light bike. I took a forced break 2/3rds of the way up and another right at the top. I ate a cliff bar and drank a gatorade as well as some water to keep my engine running. My avg speed on the return leg at that point was 16.6kph
Bow Summit to Lake Louise
One thing that kept me turning pedals on the climb over the pass was the knowledge that on the backside was 40kms of fast downhill. Not 82kph fast [my max on the return leg was 72kph], but consistent sections of 50-60kph. There were some hills to get up, but knowing that for every metre I had to climb on the way back I'd get 3 metres of fun rolling towards Lake Louise made the ascents easy - even though my legs were pretty tired. I was getting quite cold by this point as the sun was setting and descending doesn't keep you very warm. I had a windshell and a helmet liner which I used. I wouldn't have turned down a pair of tights though...=-) Eventually all good things have to end and I found myself at the on ramp for Hwy 1 to Lake Louise. I was taking the ramp at 50kph and able to out corner all the cars - nice! The 3kms to my truck went quickly, but the high volume of traffic on the Trans-Canada Hwy was a shock to the system. I recall feeling the same way last year after 3 days of touring the parkway and then hitting Hwy 1. My avg speed for the return leg was 22.8kph with a total ride avg of 26kph.
I can't recommend riding the Icefield's Parkway enough. It's a beautiful ride on an excellent road through one of the most spectacular parts of Canada. The weather can be unpredictable so check the forecast and bring some warm gear even in August. I really miss touring in general and touring the parkway in particular. I'm not sure it will be possible to make it happen this year, but Sarah and I would like to ride and camp along the parkway as soon as possible. Definitely a goal for 2008!