Monday, March 31, 2008

Dan Farrell and Chole Williams PBP 2003

If you are like me and sick of the snow and freezing temperatures you'll be happy to have some inspirational reading to keep you going for a few more days until winter finally gets the memo. The story of Dan and Chloe's PBP 2003 is worth a read. Chloe was not a hardcore cyclist when she decided to attempt this historic event and for bonus points she rode a Moulton.

Bike Rubbish

Bike Rubbish is an amazing combination of stunning cycle photography and healthy delicious food ideas. The only trouble I have with this site is I want skip work and ride my bike to the market so I can whip up something yummy for lunch...=-)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Vik is Chic

Well....okay....maybe I'm not, but Sarah is and my pic of Sarah test riding a Dahon D7 made the cut for Copenhagen Cycle Chic...=-)

New Look


No I'm not talking about my euro-trash-smurf roadie fashion line that will be all the rage at the TdeF this year...=-) I've updated the right side of the page by adding a slide show and reorganizing the links section. Please have a look at my links and drop me a line if I've missed yours or you know of a high quality site I should have listed.

BTW - if I used to have you linked and don't anymore please let me know. I'm not dissing you! After cutting and pasting several dozen links I'm crossed eyed and I know I goofed at least a few times. It isn't anything personal...=-)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tzuo made it home...

After a little over 230 days since setting out from the West Coast of the US Tzuo Hann made it home to Malaysia. His crazyguyonabike tour journal is equal parts entertainment and inspiration. Starting with zero touring experience, a new Surly LHT and a modest budget he pedaled his way across the US, Europe and Asia on a long journey home. Congrats Tzuo!...nicely done...=-)

I'm ready for it to be over...

Photo from: The Snowflake

You may have noticed my blog has been review heavy and ride report light lately. Winter has come back to Calgary with a vengeance so I'm spending my time catching up on blogging I've had on my To Do List while I wait for spring to finally get sprung. I have been riding though - on my trusty Tikit as I bomb around downtown on short hops getting errands taken care of and keeping my busy social life rock'n!

Don't worry the ride reports will be coming fast and furious in short order as I start my second rando season woefully under prepared. I'm not called Lazy for nothing!

Take a Seat - Dominic is still rolling...

I met Dominic in Baja Dec 2006. He is in Bolivia at the moment - still riding his tandem southwards towards Ushuaia. He rides solo and picks up passengers as he rides for short or longer rides. Photographing and filming the whole way. Click on the pic to jump to his site.



Good luck Dominic - tailwinds!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cycling and Fear


I wrote an article about cycle touring and fear for Veloquent. Click on the pic to read it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Copenhagen Girls on Bikes

My new favourite bike site: Copenhagen Cycle Chic. Great photography, sweet bikes and I love the sense of style.....oh yeah the riders are cute...=-)

The author's Flikr Photostream is well worth a visit as well.

Drew is back!!!!

After an extended absence Drew is back to blogging he has a nice trike tour report and a fleche report for you to read. Welcome back Drew...=-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Life for an Old Ride

I didn't do much mtn biking in 2007. I spent all my time on the road getting long rides in on my bents. I even gave away my Rocky Mountain full suspension frame to a good friend who was jonesing to do some trail riding. Wouldn't you know it I started to get stoked about hitting the trails myself this year.

I have an old Schwinn Moab mtn bike I bought on sale in 2001 that has never been off-road. It has lived its life as an urban assault commuter bike and then as a winter bike. So I figured it was about time to give it a taste of dirt.

I stripped off all the cables and cleaned up the drive train and frame. I installed some Aztec Powerlines I've been wanting to try out for a while now - report to follow. I had a set of IRC Mythos XC tires looking for a home and a spare set of Time ATAC Control Z pedals. I even splurged with a new pair of Egron grips.

In a nod to its utilitarian past I left the Old Man Mountain Cold Springs rack on. Not uber cool for a bad ass mountain bike, but I'll be able to pick up some groceries or carry picnic supplies.

Now I just need the trails to dry out a bit from the snow melt and I'll be ripping it up again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On Guard - not!

I like the idea of having a combination lock on tour so there is no key to lose. I also want a strong, but reasonably lightweight lock since it will spend most of its life in a pannier. I don't lock my bike and leave it often on tour, but when I do I'd like a fighting chance it will still be there when I get back. I spotted this OnGuard lock at Urbane Cycles in Toronto last fall and bought one on my visit to Toronto in January.

It's called the Mastiff 5022C and seems beefy while not being ridiculously heavy. The combination dial was easy to set and use. I thought I had a winner!

Unfortunately after carrying the lock around downtown Toronto all afternoon I got it home and it literally fell apart in my hands as I was looking it over. As you can see I didn't even get the tag off it. Each side of the locking mechanism is held to the chain by a small press fit pin. One of these pins was a little too skinny and fell out. Better now than on tour I guess.

Urbane refunded me the purchase amount and since I wasn't able to get back to the shop I still have the lock. If somebody local can make use of the lock it is of no value to me, but I don't want to landfill it as the chain portion could be useful to someone. Who knows somebody more tool savvy then I am might be able to fabricate a bigger pin and make the lock functional. If you want it just email me and it is yours.

I want to close this post by noting that this is my only OnGuard product experience. It represents one data point and so should not be taken as a wholesale condemnation of OnGuard or their product line. I feel it is important to honestly report both positive and negative product experiences so we can all benefit from the resulting online information, but this needs to be evaluated in context. One defect doesn't really mean anything while several may indicate a general problem with a product or company.

If anyone has a suggestion for another combination lock that might work please leave a comment.

Got an Xtracycle for me?

I'm looking for a used Xtracycle SUB. I can use the 700c or the 26" version. They are $400USD new and I'd like to spend less than $300USD with price being dependent on condition. I need it to be complete with V-racks, Freeloaders and Snap Deck.

If you have one you'd like to liquidate drop me a line - thanks!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nikki & Anna's SE Asia Adventure

Nikki & Anna [they are friends of a friend] are keeping a nice journal on crazyguyonabike during their ongoing SE Asia bike tour. I'm officially jealous of all the great food they are eating, all the cool biking and the warm weather!

Thorn Sherpa PB Cascadia Fender Install

As I reported earlier MEC finally rec'd their stock of Planet Bike Cascadia ATB fenders so I bought some for my Thorn Sherpa. They are 2.35" wide and designed to work with tires up to 2.25" wide so they should be perfect for the 2.0" Marathon XRs I plan to run on tour this summer. The tires shown in the pictures are 1.75" XRs so the fenders look a bit over sized.

These fenders are constructed of polycarbonate and all the hardware provided is stainless steel. They come with a 5" mud flap installed on each fender. A very nice feature - unfortunately I wish they were a bit longer for better protection. Although you can easily make your own mud flaps these look much nicer. Over all these fenders look to be high quality and I am optimistic they will perform as well as my other SKS fenders.

Installing the front fender was relatively straight forward. The top of the fender is secured through the fork crown with a supplied bolt. I attached the fender stays to a mid-fork braze on. The result is secure and looks great. My only complaint is that I would prefer a longer mud flap on the front of the bike. Another 4" would be ideal and would fully protect the rest of the bike from grimy water. When the supplied mud flap wears out I'll replace it with a longer DIY version.

Planet Bike ships these fenders with a special spacer that should allow them to work with any disc brake caliper. I've successfully mounted SKS fenders to bikes with disc brakes by simply bending the fender stays so this isn't essential, but it is nice to see that Planet Bike was thinking ahead and providing an easy solution to a common problem.

The rear fender needed a little more thought to get it installed. The distance from the tire to the chain stay bridge was excessive so I grabbed a spare nut and used it for a spacer to reduce the gap between the fender and the tire. This wasn't necessary, but I think it helps make the installation look cleaner. The Sherpa has a bolt on the underside of the seat stay bridge to attach the rear fender, but the bracket supplied with these fenders needs the bolt to be horizontal. Planet Bike supplies zip ties for unusual applications like this, however, I think they look ugly and would not be as secure as bolting the fender on. I grabbed a spare bracket from some SKS fenders and bent it 90 degrees to make an adapter that worked. The result looks clean and holds the fender firmly in place. The rear fender stays are attached to the Tubus Cargo rack.


spacer for rear chain stay bridge

DIY bracket for seat stay bridge

Once I had completed the install I was quite happy with the way the fenders fit and I am glad I waited to try them out. I'll report back in the summer once I've had a chance to put some miles on this bike.

Veloquent

I'm contributing to a little project of Kent Peterson's called Veloquent. If you haven't had enough of my inane ramblings feel free to check it out. Actually come to think of it there are lots of great contributors to Veloquent so don't worry you can just ignore my posts and only read the good ones...=-)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Keen's New Cycling Sandal

Update: REI has these sandals in stock currently and MEC is selling them for $119cdn in Canada. I had a look at the floor model in MEC and it looks like it will be too narrow for my feet. I'll have to try on my size to be sure. I was impressed with the construction. It looks like it will be a nice option for a SPD sandal if it fits you.

REI is currently selling Keen Cycling Sandals with a ship date of Jan 2008 @ $115. They look like typical keens although the image below seems to suggest a narrower footbed than is usual for Keen, but this could just be an issue with the aspect ratio of the photo - time will tell. I'll be interested to hear how they stack up to the other SPD sandal offerings from Shimano and Lake.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dinotte 200L-AA 4 Month Review

I've had my two Dinotte 200L-AA lights a bit over 4 months now so I thought I'd provide my impressions so far. I have used them quite a lot in an errand running/commuter role in the city during this time so that is what I'll discuss. I haven't done any all night rando-ish rides so I'll post about how they perform for that type of ride at a later date.

The construction and functionality of these lights is first rate. They mount easily on any bike and can be removed or swapped to another bike in seconds. This is a huge advantage when you have a diverse fleet of bikes and don't want to buy dedicated lights for each one. Part of the reason I moved away from a hub generator is having lots of different wheel/brake combos in my fleet. Another advantage to the Dinotte form factor is they are so small and unobtrusive I leave them on my bikes at all times. They don't interfere with the fold on my Tikit and they blend in well enough that the causal passerby doesn't notice them and is less likely to make off with them.

Riding in the urban environment you need lights bright enough to compete with car headlights to be noticed. The Dinotte 200L does well in this department. Running two of them is almost overkill, but it is fun to watch people do double takes when they realize it is a bicycle not a motorcycle coming towards them. I like the different power level and flashing options that are available to fine tune the amount of light I am putting out. I normally run the lights on strobe mode [5 fast flashes with a pause and repeat]. One thing that is nice about the mounting system [just a large industrial o-ring] is you can rotate the lights down when you encounter pedestrians on the pathway so you don't blind them.

I can't really speak to runtime as I haven't been out for hours at a time so far. However, I have left the same batteries in the light for over a week and done many shorter night trips in very cold [-10 deg C and colder] temps without having to replace/recharge the batteries. One problem I have had is that occasionally the lights would switch off - turns out one of the batteries would come out of the holder slightly. This is easily fixed on the fly if you can reach the battery pack. On a recumbent - especially on a fast downhill - this could be a bigger problem. For rando use I'll place a rubber band around the battery pack to keep everything nicely in place. Being able to use standard rechargeable AA batteries is great as they are easy to come by and are useful in other devices you have at home.

What don't I like?/Suggestions for improvement:
  • batteries can come out of place in holder turning light off. Easily fixed with tape or a rubber band, but annoying at first when you aren't expecting it to happen.
  • lack of a bike specific optical lens means a lot of light is wasted up and to the sides that could be focussed down the road. This also means you are putting light into oncoming motorists' eyes which may not be appreciated.
  • mounting system allows for lots of adjustment up and down, but no rotation side to side to fine tune where you light is aimed.
  • lack of remote switch means you can't change light settings while riding a bent if your light is at the end of the boom where it will do the most good. It would be awesome to have a handlebar mounted switch and be able to put these lights on high for a fast downhill and them back to a lower power setting for the flats.
  • you have to choose between AAs or proprietary Li-Ion batteries. It would be awesome to be able to use whichever battery makes the most sense for a given ride without having to buy two different light engines.
Overall I'm quite pleased with these lights. If they were lost or stolen I'd buy two more from Dinotte Lighting. I do hope that a focused optic is made for these lights as it would take their performance to the next level. Also a remote switch option would be of great benefit to recumbent riders.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

MEC Hydrocycle 1 Year Review

You can read my initial impressions of this jacket here.

I've been using this MEC Hydrocycle Jacket for the last year. Overall I'm pretty pleased with it. For $135 [now $99 on clearance @ www.mec.ca ] I got a light weatherproof shell that fits me well and is reasonably breathable. The pit zips really help dump moisture when working hard and also let you fine tune the interior temperature nicely. They are positioned so they work fine on my recumbents and DF bikes. The Entrant DT shell material is holding up well, but I am notoriously kind to my gear so that is not unusual. As a point of comparison this jacket breathes much better than my North Face Hy-Vent hiking shell. The fit is very slim so it may not work for everyone. The extra long sleeves suit me, but they could be overkill if your arms aren't freakishly long like mine. The orange colour is easily visible without being so obnoxious you don't want to wear it around other people. MEC got the small details right on this jacket with waterproof zippers [great for bents since a flap over a regular zipper won't keep water out when you are on your back], two handy pockets, functional velcro at the cuffs and a reasonable amount of reflective material. Since there are no vents or pockets on the back of the jacket it is a good choice for recumbent riders.

I should note that several people on the BC Rando Mail List have totally slammed this jacket as not being waterproof & not being breathable. This hasn't been my experience, but there have been enough negative comments that I figured I should mention it. Keep in mind MEC will take back anything you buy [even on clearance] if it does not perform as expected.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Alchemy Goods Urban Messenger Bag

I've been looking for a messenger bag for a few years now - yeah I'm picky! I found lots of possible candidates, but didn't love any of them so I held out for The One. Recently I found the Alchemy Goods Urban Messenger bag online and it caught my interest, but of course there was no way to buy locally. I decided to take a pass until I got my REI dividend notice and a 20% coupon for 1 item. Since they just happen to carry this bag I decided to try one out. The great thing about REI is you can return anything you don't like.

The design of the bag is fairly simple. It is made from 76% reused materials [bike inner tubes, car seat belts, etc...] by some nice folks in Seattle. The result is a functional, attractive and waterproof bag. Having used it a week now I can see why people are so fond of messenger bags. I've carried a bike fork, fenders, groceries, DVDs, large prints and a whole lot of other stuff in it so far. Having been a backpack guy all my life I'm quite impressed. Best of all they included a tab to mount a red blinky to the bag!!!

Some cool features:
  • fits a 17" laptop
  • external waterproof pocket for cellphone & ipod
  • internal pockets for pens and small items
  • large patches of reflective materials
  • tab for attaching a light
  • waterproof exterior
I'll report back later in the summer when I've got a few months of use under my belt.

Planet Bike Cascadia ATB Fenders

Update 2: MEC has rec'd their initial stock of the PB Cascadia fenders. I'll be throwing a set on my Thorn shortly and will report back on how they work out.

Update: I spoke with a guy in the cycling dept at the Calgary MEC who told me that they'll be getting their stock of these fenders in at the end of Feb.

I've been on the hunt for some fenders for my Thorn. I was hoping to get some metal fenders for the ultimate in durability, but that seems to be unlikely in the width I need [60mm-65mm]. The one source I have found that has this size, Wald, doesn't seem real keen on letting Canadians know where they can be purchased. Nothing new here - Alberta might as well be a province of Bangladesh for all some US vendors seem to care about selling their wares to us. Sorry - I won't get started on that diatribe.

A couple guys on the Surly LHT & CC List mentioned Planet Bike Cascadia fenders so I checked out the PB site and low and behold they have some pretty sweet 26" fenders that will fit 1.75" - 2" tires. Exactly what I need to run Marathon XRs. MEC will even be carrying them in a month or so and the PB guy I spoke to [Eric] let me know I could order straight from them if I needed them sooner. He even knew where Calgary was - OMG!...=-)

I normally use SKS fenders on my bikes and have several sets in play. It will be interesting to see how these fenders stack up. They have a long mud flap built in which is nice and avoids having to cobble something together from a milk jug. I shall report back as soon as I can get my hand on some.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ride to Cochrane

Biker Annie joined me on a ride out to Cochrane to visit a fellow BROL member - Cornell.

We had a nice visit with Cornell and his wife at their beautiful house. Thanks for the tea and snacks - we used up all those calories on the way home!

The wind was so strong on the way out that we couldn't break 40kph bombing down the uber steep Cochrane hill. Naturally when we turned back for home the wind died...lol...how come that always happens???

Riding back into Calgary as the sun set was particularly beautiful. Although note to self - always bring lights even when you don't plan on being out at night.

Another great ride in Sunny Southern Alberta....=-)