Thursday, January 31, 2008


Anna's lovely cherry red LHT awaits her rider after a winter tune up. When you've got a complete selection of tools, supplies and a little bike maintenance knowledge you can really help out your friends who don't spend all their time obsessing about bikes. The whole tune up took me a couple hours and was fun. Heck I got to play with a new bike and I didn't have to buy it!....=-) I guess Anna did me the favour.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Lazy Rando is safe for all ages...

Damn! I must be getting soft in my old age...=-)

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Dempster Highway

Riding the Dempster Highway will be an interesting way to start my summer bike tour. I'm not sure if starting in Inuvik and riding south will make things easier or harder. On the positive side I'll get the hardest part of the tour done first and have access to a bike shop in Whitehorse if my bike takes a beating on the Dempster. On the negative side I'll be going from downtown Calgary to the middle of nowhere in about 5hrs by plane. The culture shock will be pretty extreme.

Looking at the map above there is a "road" to Tuktoyaktuk, but I think it is a winter ice road and is not passable in summer. I'll have to verify that because if it is a passable road I might want to ride to Tuk first while I am in the neighbourhood.

Update: the road to Tuk is a winter only road so the farthest north I'll be going is Inuvik.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Riding the Spine Video

Rolling a Dahon

One of the board members over at Bike Forums thinks that Dahons roll really well. That hasn't been my experience in the past, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong if it means being able to move my folded Speed D7 around easily. I'll be heading out to Ontario this weekend so I'll make it one of my missions to try rolling my Dahon and see if there is an excellent roll that I missed the last time.

Update: I posted an in-depth review of my Dahon D7's rolling capabilities here.

Kipchogie & his Big Dummy

From The Pleasant Revolution.

Steeker & Tanya

Steeker and Tanya made it out to Urbane for some bicycle silliness and excellent Thai food. We hit up Urbane for a long time and then made it over to MEC with a bite to eat in the middle.

Tanya got so tired she need to take a rest. As you can see she likes to be prepared and carries a couple spare tires and bivouac gear in a pannier on even the shortest bike ride - can you tell she is an Ontario Randonneur?...=-)

It was great to see you guys. Hopefully we can get out for a nice bike ride next time I come to TO.

Hurricane SL Porn

I love the look of this bike. Too bad the Challenge factory is sooooooo far away or I'd pop over for a test ride.....=-)

Rene Mueller

Rene has a great site chock full of information about recumbents, his travels and cycling in Europe - well worth a visit, but don't blame me if you end up on an expensive cycle tour in Switzerland!....=-)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Malric's Latest Project

Malric just keeps on coming up with one cool project after another. Unbelievable.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Char's World

Char has a bike commuting blog and a carfree living blog. As a Bike Friday NWT owner she obviously has good taste!...=-) She may even move to the dark-side of BF and get a Tikit.

See You @ Urbane!

I'll be meeting up with some of the fine OHPVA folks at Urbane Cycles this Saturday @ noon. I'll probably get there closer to 11am - so if you feel like coming out for some test rides, a bite to eat and some chit chat you know where to be...=-)

Tough Love

For someone that has owned a lot of recumbents, rides them a quite a lot and blogs about them incessantly I am pretty hard on bents sometimes. While other bent bloggers are often trumpeting the praises of the recumbent I am pointing out what is not so great about them and how DFs are pretty cool bikes. Occasionally I'll read over a post and think "...geez that was harsh..." It isn't that I'm a bent hater. Quite the opposite - in fact. I think there are many great bents being made and lots of excellent reasons to ride one. The problem is some folks in the bent community, in their enthusiasm to promote recumbents, oversell them to the point of damaging their acceptance by DF riders and non-cyclists. My goal is to tell it like it is so that folks that read my blog will start to trust me and accept that when I do say something positive about recumbents it isn't spin.

Recumbent Myth #1 - Bents are faster than DFs

A good example is how fast recumbents are. If you read bent blogs, bent forums and bent manufacturer's websites you'll come away with the idea that recumbents are these aerodynamically superior rocket ships that will blow away any DF foolish enough to challenge you. I'm not a stupid person, but fell for this hype - twice!!! When my first bent didn't turn out to be all that fast I assumed it was an aberration so I drank the kool-aid a second time bought a brand new highracer from a major manufacturer and assumed I'd be "Vik the DF-slayer" when my new steed arrived. Imagine my horror when I wasn't faster. Worse still I was dead last in the first event I entered - one with minimal climbing. What happened to bents being so fast?

The fact is bents are not faster than DF bikes. Telling people they are is a lie. One that is easily exposed. As soon as someone realizes you lied to them they'll never believe you again. All your credibility is gone - poof!

The truth is that some recumbents generate less aerodynamic drag than a typical road bike. This means that if you ride at higher speeds - say 25kph+ you'll have an advantage over a rider with the same power as you on a DF road bike of the same weight. However there are quite a few caveats to even that modest claim to fame:
  • in many cases DFs ride in pacelines that will erase all or part of your aero advantage
  • most recumbent riders travel solo and have no "team" to work with
  • as soon as the roads goes uphill and speeds drop your aero benefit is gone and since many bents don't climb that well you'll be dropped like a rock
  • things like bike weight and rolling resistance also factor into speed - especially at the sub-25kph range like up a climb. So your aerodynamically superior 35lb bent with 1.5" tires won't lay a hurt onto many DF road bikes
All this means that for most people on an average route with a decent amount of climbing you won't be faster than a DF road bike.

What is fast?

I should clarify what I mean by fast. To me fast isn't having a higher speed in a 100m sprint or being quicker than someone's grandma on her single speed beach cruiser. To me being fast means having a high average speed over a long-ish ride [say 20kms+] and over a variety of terrain including a decent amount of climbing. I tend to use a run of the mill DF road bike as my golden standard for DF speed - I'm talking a 19-20lbs 105 equipped beast that you can have for $1000.00 - nothing uber special. I like this definition of speed because it represents real world conditions. Nobody rides their bike only a 100m or only on perfectly flat roads.

You can't handle the truth!

So what can you realistically say about recumbent speed?:
  • There are fast recumbents, average recumbents and slow recumbents - just like DF bikes.
  • If being fast is your priority make sure the bent you buy is a high performance model - not a touring bent with commuter rubber.
  • It will take you time to learn to go fast on your bent. First you need to acclimate your muscles to the new riding position and then you need to learn to maximize your speed on your bent. The good news is that you'll never be slower on your bent than your first ride.
  • If you are a randonneur and want to go fast you need a bent that is less than 25lbs and climbs well. You can have a light bent that climbs poorly and if you climb poorly you will be slow. Expect to finish brevets on average in about the same time on your bent as you did your DF bike. You'll kick ass on the flat routes and you'll be slower on the really lumpy ones. One benefit for a randonneur is that you are you own paceline. You can ride at your own pace without worrying about staying with someone else since you'll essentially get the benefit of paceline without actually being in one. This gives you loads of flexibility and may save you from a paceline induced crash.
  • If beating DF riders is important to you get your speed up above 40kph. You'll be using 30%-40% less energy on the flats than they will.
  • The ultimate truth about speed is that a recument is only a machine that accepts your power. If you are a slow DF rider you'll be a slow recumbent rider. If you are a fast DF rider you'll be a fast recumbent rider. If you want to go faster and you are sitting on a high performance recumbent the only solution is to ride your bent hard lots - especially uphill. The more you do it the faster you get. As they say there is no free lunch.
Real Speed

I care about going fast. Because it is fun, for the ego stoke of seeing some big numbers on my bike computer and because fast average speeds mean less time on the bike during a brevet allowing me to eat, sleep or go home that much quicker.

Here is what I did to find the promised land:
  • I found a light high performance recumbent [Challenge Fujin SL] that climbs well for me.
  • I equipped it with fenders and a reasonable amount of spare parts and tools to deal with typical repairs. Nothing kills you average speed like a broken bike.
  • I keep my Fujin well maintained so when I'm out on the road I'm riding not fixing things.
  • I make sure that I don't weigh it down with unnecessary items.
  • I ride it hard as often as I can - especially in the mountains.
  • I eat and drink continuously. You can't be fast if you aren't fully fueled.
After one season on my Fujin I'm faster on the flats, downhills and gradual climbs than I would be on my DF road bike. I'm still not climbing the steeper sections as fast, but that is my goal for 2008. The really great part about my Fujin is that after 15hrs in the saddle I'm completely pain free.

Update: there is a very relevant thread on BROL at the moment about a guy who was oversold on bent performance and comfort.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bicycle Fixation

Got some time to kill? Bicycle Fixation has what you need!

Clever Cycles

If practical bikes make you swoon - visit Clever Cycles.

Mason Dixon 200K

I'm totally jealous that they are riding brevets in January on the East Coast. At least they are kind enough to put a brevet report online for the rest of us that actually have a winter!...=-)

I'm going North!

I was bummed that I didn't get a bike tour under my belt in 2007. I did get lots of work done on my recumbents and got started in the rando world so it wasn't an unproductive year from a cycling point of view. The lack of a long trip had a definite negative impact on my mental state so I am want to be sure to correct the problem in 2008. I've got two big -ish tours planned this year. I'll leave you in suspense about the second tour, but the first will be a ride from Inuvik NWT Canada back home to Calgary. I was inspired by Pat's Crazyguyonabike journal about his trip from Seattle to Inuvik and I thought a long ride back home would be fun. I'm excited for my first visit to the arctic and the Arctic Ocean. Let's face it. Any town with "vik" in the name can't be half bad - right?...=-)

I'll follow Pat's route backwards down the Dempster Highway to the Yukon, south into BC and then I'll hook a left to head into Alberta. Naturally I'll be sure to visit Jasper and ride the lovely Icefield's Parkway to Lake Louise and pass through Banff and Canmore on the final leg home.

My rough plan is to fly to Inuvik around 15 July and be back in Calgary by 20 August. The distance of ~3600kms will take about 5 weeks to cover at a daily distance of 120kms riding 6 days a week. My job is fairly flexible so those aren't firm dates. I'll ride my Thorn Sherpa - 26" x 2.0" Marathon XRs will be appreciated on the unpaved roads up North and it will be a good test run for the Pan American Highway tour I continually threaten to embark upon.

Given the scarcity of roads in Northern Canada route planning will be as easy as in Baja. The road you are on is probably the only option which makes getting lost pretty hard. I love that! I'm working on what gear to bring at the moment. I like to travel light, but the remote nature of the trip means I'll probably suck it up and use 4 panniers. Still I want to be on the light side of fully prepared

My short term goals are to finalize my gear list over the winter and go on a short tour [probably the Icefield's Parkway] in June to work out any bugs before game day.

BTW - if anyone wants to come along I'd certainly be open to that if our capabilities and personalities seemed like a good match.

BTW2 - thanks to Pat and all those other cycle tourists who take the time and trouble to document their exploits on the net. The inspiration and information you provide others is invaluable!

Daisuke Nakanishi

Dustin pointed me to a very cool site for a Japenese cycle tourist who has been all over the world on two wheels. Daisuke has some wonderful pictures and travel reports to keep you entertained during a long winter.

Bent Momentum

Bryan J. Ball of Bentrider Online & Peter Stull of The Bicycle Man has contributed a couple nice articles to Vancouver's Momentum Magazine. Great work Bryan...=-)

Bent Culture

How recumbents were banned from racing.

Photo by David Niddrie.

Recumbent Speed Brain Teaser

I was asked this question by a DF rando and although I have some ideas I couldn't really come up with an answer I was 100% satisfied with. Okay we all seem to agree there are fast bents and fast bent riders. How come bents don't hold any overall course records on PBP? On the face of it you have to think PBP is a very bent friendly event:
  • you can ride any bent you like including velomobiles or fully faired bents like the F-40
  • the course is rolling with no really steep climbs
  • the course is long so the comfort advantage should favour bents
  • average speeds are high so the bent aero advantage should kick in nicely
  • the race is in Europe where fast bents are popular and there is a decent pool of bent riders
  • loads of fast bent riders come from all over the world
  • you aren't racing professional DF racers
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why doesn't everyboy ride a recumbent?

Kent P's post of the same name has aroused quite a lot of response on his blog and elsewhere - some of it intelligent & reasonable and some of it angry or sarcastic rhetoric from both DF & bent advocates. I usually agree with his perspective and enjoy his style of writing. This one post though I have to say disappoints me. He uses a fictional character who is a bent evangelist to open his post which is where the whole things falls off the rails in my opinion. Not because there aren't any such folks around - there are trust me! However, there are just as many DF riders who have a "hate on" for bents. By starting with an extreme position any hope for a reasonable and meaningful discussion of recumbents and DF bikes goes out the window. Let's face it if I started a post about Middle Eastern relations with a fictional interview with a Muslim fanatic who wanted to blow up buildings in the US do you think we'd end up having an intelligent and reasoned discussion about the topic? The same could be said for any topic that holds a lot of emotion and personal interest for the people involved.

I ride both bents and DF bikes. I ride them both fairly extensively. I figure I'll take a stab at answering Kent's question about why more people don't ride recumbents? Before I do let me say these are just my opinions and not the result of any serious research - so take it with a grain of salt.

The UCI Ban:

  • I think this ban has had a serious impact on bents being more popular in the world. Until the internet came around I was totally unaware bents existed. I cycled lots and I read the popular bike magazines, but I can't recall ever hearing about recumbents let alone understanding what they might be good for. I think many cyclists are in the same boat today. If you are unaware of something how can you possibly make a choice about it?
  • Because there are no professional recumbent races at the Olympics or at the level of the Pro Tour bents get zero press coverage. Compare that to Lance Armstrong and his Trek DF road bike. Now imagine he was racing on a Bacchetta highracer. Do you honestly think they wouldn't be flying off the shelves?
  • Kent's post suggested that a good idea would win out and a bad idea couldn't hold out in the face of a good idea. I think he is plain wrong about that. Cars are a bad idea. Public transit , walking & cycling are good ideas - which has been wining out? Why because there is money and power at stake behind the automobile. The same applies in the DF vs bent situation. Lots of money and power is invested in the DF bike. The people behind it are not interested in seeing anything change.
  • Want proof? Have a look at bent sales and popularity. When did they start to take off [relatively]? When the internet became available and people could get & share information that was not provided in the mainstream media. I bought my first bent a few months after I found an email list about them online.
Bents aren't that great:
  • recumbents are not the be all and end all of bikes. You can be uncomfortable on a bent. You can be slow on a bent. They can be expensive. Some, frankly, don't ride that well.
  • not every bent is God's gift to man and women. Some truly do suck the big one.
  • bent evangelists often lose the plot on this issue because they don't realize that telling people a lie will not convince them of your message - especially if it a lie that is easily exposed.
  • even if we only look at the really good bents - they are not the ideal bikes for all cycling missions. So if you say to someone "....recumbents are better than DF bikes..." They know you're full of shit.
  • if the UCI ban had not happened and recumbents were given a fair shake in the media everybody in the world would not be riding a recumbent.
DF bikes don't deserve the market share they have:
  • although I just finished putting bents in their place the fact is there are some really excellent recumbents available. So why are people buying so many DF bikes? Simple if you walk into 95% of bike shops in North America all you will find is DF bikes. The sales people will only talk to you about DF bikes. You only see people on DF bikes on the street or on TV or in a magazine. What do you buy? Ta da! A DF bike!
  • there are some people like Kent that can ride a DF bike any distance in comfort. There are many more that can ride a reasonable distance on a DF in comfort. There are also quite a few people that cannot ride a DF comfortably even a modest distance. You don't hear from this last group on cycling forums or blogs because they either have given it up entirely or never got seriously interested in the first place. When they see a bike shop or bike magazine all they see are machines that they cannot or do not want to ride.
  • I submit DFs are not the pinnacle of cycling design. They are not at the top of the food chain due their inherent excellence. DFs are the leading bicycle design simply due to the impact of marketing and social conformity.
Who cares?
  • Besides bent manufacturers who really cares if people are riding DF bikes and not bents?
  • Ultimately if you are a Kent P or anyone else who is totally happy riding your DF you don't need to worry about bents yourself. Perhaps you don't need to consider the people being hurt by the lack of exposure to recumbents, but I do care about those people. Who are they? Here are some examples:
    • all those folks who don't own a bicycle because they can't get comfortable on it - whether the discomfort is real or perceived. This is the silent majority of North Americans who have either given up on bikes or never tried as an adult because they don't want to be in pain. Some of these people could probably ride a DF with the right info and setup, but they are being hurt by the same media pressure that puts bents out of the picture and focusses on racing bikes.
    • all those folks that have a bike hanging up in the garage and don't ride it because it isn't comfortable and therefore not enjoyable.
    • those folks who are suffering on long distance rides or giving them up entirely. For every 1200K brevet report where a DF rando gets off feeling fine I can point you to 2 other reports where they finish in pain and many end up with short to long term damage from the experience.
    • those cyclists who can ride a DF 100K, but would never consider longer rides because they are at their comfort threshold by the end of a 100K.
I don't want you to change:
  • If you are happy on your DF I don't want you to buy a recumbent.
  • If you are happy on your bent I don't want you to try a DF.
  • The only people I want to have a chance to try something new are those folks that are not having fun on their bicycles currently. If you are in pain or just don't want to ride a DF I want you to have the information and support to try a recumbent if you want to.
  • If you just don't want to ride a bike at all that's cool too!
My perfect world:
  • In my perfect world there would be pro level recumbent races that would highlight some of the world's best athletes and what they could do on their recumbents.
  • People could walk into a bike shop and buy both bents and DFs in a wide variety of styles and sizes.
  • Nobody would give people attitude because they are riding a different style of bike.
  • In my perfect world more people would be riding bikes because there were more choices and cyclists would support one another instead of fighting over whose style of bike was better.
What makes me really laugh is that in a parallel universe recumbents are the bike of choice and a few fringe DF bike riders are acting like evangelists trying to convince people that:
  • DFs are safe.
  • DFs would be cheaper if you made more of them
  • DFs are comfortable if you set them up right
  • DFs don't make you impotent
  • DFs can climb faster then bents
  • DFs are better for riding in traffic
  • etc..etc..etc..
Too bad the majority of recumbent riders in that universe just roll their eyes and think "...shut up freak you can't be right or there would be more DFs on the road wouldn't there!..."

Update: Kent P is so far ahead of the game he already has a Parallel Universe article written.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A year with Friday

See you in TO!

I'm flying to London, Ontario tonight and will be in Toronto next weekend. I have no idea if the roads are in any condition to enjoy a fun ride, but I'll have my Dahon with me should things look promising. If any of the TO OHPVA crew are interested in a ride and/or just hooking up for a chat/bite to eat/drink. Just let me know I can be available Sat & Sun next weekend. Even if things are hellishly wintery I'll make the trek down to Urbane to look around the shop.

Photo poached from here.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

Surly Big Dummy

Only an elevator big enough to carry this bike is stopping me from owning a Surly Big Dummy. What a monster and in army green no less!

Slo Joe Coco Ride

The Slo Joe Coco Ride - 2 Rides in 1 - Jan. 13, 2007 from Bob Emmerich on Vimeo.

New Challenge Bent

The Recumbent Blog is reporting a new Challenge bent this year called the 2008 Seiran. This name may change and it won't replace the current Seiran. It will become an additional model. I haven't been able to track down the specs for this new bent, but they should be out soon.

Challenge has also posted some new online manuals for their bents. See the "News" section of the Challenge Site.

Photo from The Recumbent Blog.

Rans X-Stream

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gal From Down Under

If you are ever bored and want something to read jump over to Lynette Chiang's website. To say it is full of content is an understatement. There is lots to see, movies to watch and books to read. Just make sure you keep an eye on the clock. I don't want you missing work because you were up all night surfing her site...=-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Thorn Storage

I've had a second Delta Michaelangelo Gravity Rack sitting in my office for over a year, but only got around to setting it up recently. These racks are really cool. They hold 2 bikes and can be moved easily or taken apart for storage with minimal hassle. My first rack has been in service for years with zero problems.

By putting two bikes in my office it makes it look like I have a far less serious bike problem!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Guard Cat

With bike theft running rampant it is advisable to have some extra security for your bike fleet.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Snow Biking

...from the Surly Blog.

I love all the wicked snow biking pictures people post online. In my dreams I'm an avid snow biking madman. But truth be told I'm really happy It is dry outside and we've only had one good snowfall so far this winter. I'll be out riding my anemic 20" x 1.3" tires later - loving the fact it is only a bit below freezing, that I'm getting great traction and that my bike isn't getting crazy dirty. I know that makes me a bad snow biker, but the reality is global warming is going to make my part of Canada a Desert Biker's dream....=-)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Mike Burrows Interview

Mike Burrows shows his bikes off from recumbent rider on Vimeo.

The Raptor Refined

Paul continues to tweak his new Optima Raptor:
  • adding some bling to the wheels
  • dropping the chain
  • Radical Designs seat bags

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Got it!

After yet another failed attempt to get the Hurricane's front tire on AND the tube un-punctured I decided to pump the tire up to around 100 psi and let the air find its way out the slow leak I had inflicted on the tube as I mounted the tire. I repeated the process a couple times hoping to stretch the tire a little. It seemed to work as the next time I tried to get the tire on it went on more easily and I was able to avoid putting a hole in the tube.

I've never had to battle this hard to mount a tire. Thankfully it's on and by the time it needs to come off again it should be quite a lot easier to deal with. The upside to all this hassle is that I feel a great sense of satisfaction and I know that icy cold Corona in my fridge is going to taste ever so delicious now that this job is done...=-)

Sherpa Hauling Recycling

I was able to try out my Surly Nice rack today. Sadly not on a gravel road through the Canadian Arctic. But an important mission to the recycling depot. I had neglected to take this stuff in when I only had two panniers worth. By now the mass of paper, plastic, cans and glass had grown to a quite a load. Having a front platform was handy when I ran out of space everywhere else. Although it was hardly a fitting test for this burley rack at least I was able to put a few KMs on it and enjoy the utility of my own pedal powered truck....=-)

Tire Trauma

I bought Sarah some new tires for her Hurricane during the fall. The Marathon Slicks on her bent were pretty worn out and I was able to get some new Marathon Slicks from BROL at a great price. I figured replacing the tires would be a good lesson for her so it would be easier to deal with a flat if she was on her own this summer.

Taking the old tires off was no trouble as they fit quite loosely on her 406 rims. Putting the new tires on was a whole other ball game. They are very tight on her rims. So tight I had to get a metal tire lever out and managed to gouge her rear rim a bit with it. I managed to repair the damage with some sand paper, but needless to say the process wasn't fun. What was worse we managed to put a hole in the tube several times as we fought to get it on. I'm loosing count, but I think she has patched those tubes at least 3 times so far and the front is flat at the moment.

I even went to the trouble of buying a tire bead jack to help mount the tires so we didn't have to use a metal tire lever again. It worked somewhat, but I still had to grab a metal lever to get the last bit of bead to pop on. It has been a week or more since I attacked this project last. I suppose it is about time I take off the front tire, fix the tube and remount it - carefully!

Hopefully these tires stretch in use like the old ones did. Otherwise I hope she doesn't get a flat any time soon!