Monday, November 30, 2009

The Fattening Has Begun

This holiday season I'm taking a whopping 3 weeks off of work, mainly to get a bunch of stuff done around the house and hang out with my family. The only problem with taking this much time off is that I won't need to commute, which means I won't need to ride my bike. I hadn't really put it together before but besides money, my job provides me with the luxury of having no choice but to ride twice a day. There is no will power struggle, no bad weather excuses, just eat breakfast, play with my little girl and hop on the bike.

Now, I'll have a choice to ride with no real need to ride. My will power being what it is, this could pose a potential problem. Of course I love to ride, and would love to ride every day, but left to my own devices, would I? I have decided to run at least one errand every week day on my bike. This should help me keep things in perspective and curb the holiday fattening to some degree.

On a completely unrelated topic, this comes via AHTBM.

Letting children know that they can't be trusted with even the most basic of human interactions is a disturbing and dangerous trend that if goes unchecked may eventually lead to rampant douchebaggery and someone like this running the country...

I've got a big ole' CSH with her name on it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vicarious Monday

While trapped at my desk I often do a little vicarious vacationing into a blogger's life or personal adventure. Doing so gives me a fresh perspective and reorients my outlook on short term and long term goals. Sometimes it makes me drool a little. Here are a few of my favorite escapes. In no particular order...

Jill's blog artfully details here life and outdoor adventures in Alaska with well written ride reports and beautiful photos.

Not only is this guy touring across France at the moment, he's doing it on my LHT (yeah you know me) which makes vicarious touring that much easier.

Not all vicarious living has to be abroad. Sometimes you just want to see what's going on in the streets of your home town.

I think this is the first blog I started following. Tim and Cindy Travis chronicle their 5 year plus cycling tour through North America, South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and beyond.

Monday often lives vicariously through Friday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tektro Oryx Vs. Avid Shorties: A No Brainer

The stock brakes on my 2009 Surly LHT (yeah you know me) are Oryx cantilevers by Tektro. They have performed ok, nothing to write home about, but they stopped the bike when I need them to. After about 2300 miles of commuting and touring, the pads are starting to wear down a bit. Before I bought new pads, I thought I might throw on an old pair of Avid shorties I had laying around and do a little comparison. I've always thought that cantilever brakes for the most part, were the same. These two brake sets weigh roughly the same and have a similar shape. The Avid brakes are 6 grams lighter that the Tektros, (not that is matters on an LHT) but the main difference between the two is that the Avids use v-style brake pads. Like the Tektros, the Avid pads were pretty well worn so I figured it would be an even match.

I was in for a surprise. For the first time on the LHT, I felt I might go over the bars after braking hard. The Avid shorties felt a lot more powerful than the Tektros. I'm not sure if it's due to the brake pads or maybe a different alloy, but the difference is night and day. These are the old model shorties which are still available, but the new design looks to be around $25 and that's lot of bang for your buck.

The Avid brand seems to be full of inexpensive "no brainer" products. I am running the Avid BB7 cable actuated disc brakes on my mountain bike and like the shorties, they are simple, reliable, and inexpensive. Well played Avid.

On a separate note, I'd like to do a little bragging. I picked up this t-shirt from Bikage and I will be wearing it with pride. RIP Sheldon Brown.

Listen to Sheldon this weekend... RIDE.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spandex Vs. Wool: This Is Gonna Get Crazy

While still in the after glow of the DC Tweed Ride, I thought it would be appropriate to put the two materials that seem to have polarized the cycling community up against each other. Those being spandex and wool.

There is only one proper way to scientifically prove which material is more suited for cyclists, and that's to throw a spandex clad cyclist and a sheep into the Cycle Jerk Particle Accelerator and smash them into each other at mind bending speeds. I know I know, this might create a spandex/wool (Spoondex™) super nova that will destroy the planet in a violent moisture wicking flash of textiles, but I've got to get this settled once and for all.

Before I get going on all that, I thought I would ride into work today wearing one spandex arm warmer and one wool arm warmer to see the difference for myself.

Let me just say that this is in no way scientific. There are a ton of variables which I'm not accounting for and am just using the arm warmers I happen to have.

For this test I am using my tried and true, seven year old spandex arm warmer from Bikes USA which have a soft fleece-like liner on one arm, and a brand new Pearl Izumi Merino wool seamless arm warmer on the other. The weather is still a little warm but that just creates a better environment for testing wickability.

The first difference I notice between the two is the feeling. The spandex is a lot tighter giving that compression/aero feel, where the wool fits well but not nearly as tight. I guess it depends on the ride weather this is a plus or a minus. The wool also does have a slight itchiness to it. Everyone says Merino wool is sans itchy but there is a little there, not enough to bother me but it's there. Initially I found the wool to be warmer than the spandex, but I was still in my kitchen at that point.

Once I started riding they both provided about the same degree of warmth but the wool was letting more air through than the spandex. When my arms started to sweat, that extra air was welcome. I would say that at speed the spandex did a better job of moisture management than the wool, but not by much. Both arms were sweaty when I got to work.

Two places where the wool excels over spandex are odor and warmth when wet. Wool doesn't hold onto odor like spandex does and can go a lot longer without washing. For the a bike commuter that is a pretty big plus. Also when wool is wet it still provides warmth where spandex doesn't.

The bottom line for arm warmers is the wool ultimately feels better. There is something cozy about the wool feel that you don't get with the spandex. That said it's not like I'm running out to buy merino bib tights. Wool and spandex both have uses where they excel, but for fall and winter commuting I'm going to opt for cozy when I can get it.

It's hump day... so get humping dammit!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Washington, DC Got Tweeded But Good

The first semi-annual Washington, DC Tweed Ride was a great success! Eric and the crew from Dandies and Quaintrelles really pulled it off. Thanks to you and all your volunteers, and kudos on the great piece in The Post this morning! Over 200 people pre-registered, so I imagine there were a lot more who showed up. It certainly seemed that way.

The weather was perfect and the enthusiasm and motivation were palpable. Everyone was amazed at how great the event was and how much they were enjoying themselves. The event started with some wrangling to get signed up and have photos taken but before we knew it the ride was on.

The nice part of the route is that it started in a relatively passive neighborhood on the Hill. This meant that those who were timid about riding on the DC streets started off easy before they hit the downtown traffic. Well played indeed.

There was hound's tooth and wool as far as the eye could see, or for several blocks at least.

A brief rally at the Obama's house before pressing onward.

One of the finer moments of the ride came when the main group reached Dupont Circle. As everyone entered the circle all automotive traffic came to a halt, and for two delightful orbits the epicenter of DC traffic congestion belonged to the velopeds. Also, seeing a penny farthing in the circle was quite satisfying.

Eventually we arrived at Marvin where the gin was flowing, the pipes were smoking, and the bike racks were provided by WABA...

...some needing less tweed than others. (I hope that tweed was lined, for her nipple's sake.)

It's interesting that when compared to a more serious cycling movement like a critical mass ride, a tweed ride seems to gather a great deal more people. Looking at yesterdays event I think the tweed ride might be more effective at creating positive awareness of cycling as transportation without the negative press and connotations that the critical mass gets. Thoughts?

It was the perfect way to spend a 70-degree Sunday in November. And since this was advertised as a semi-annual event the big question is when is the next one?

There are a ton of you who have great photos of the event. Please post a link to the photos in the comments section so we can all enjoy them.

Daniel sent me his flicker set this morning.
Here is a link to the pile of photos on Flickr

Also, I found a pump along the route, hit me up if you lost yours on the ride.

Have a smashingly good Monday ole' chaps!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sweet Irony

My definition of irony is when you wait until mid November when it's properly cold to have a tweed ride only to find out it's going to be in the low 70s. I am wearing wool knickers and a tweed jacket for craps sake. It's funny how fitting it is though: perfectly illustrating DC's capricious weather patterns.

Maybe we can all wear old timey one piece bathing suits. See you there!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Washington DC Tweed Ride Route

The DC tweed ride route has been announced over at Dandies and Quaintrelles

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Looks like a jolly good tour!
Don't forget to register.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tail Light Back Pack Hack

So I have a theory about the cyclical nature of lost gear and cycling. The idea is that the gear you loose on the trail has a way of coming back around to you in a new form. Example: if you loose a tail light you will eventually find another tail light or a pair of cycling glasses if you ride enough. This theory came about after loosing one too many tail lights and finding a few.

Last night in hopes to break the cycle I made an enhancement to my Deuter AC Lite 25 back pack that should stop the tail light from falling off.

I punched two grommets through the fabric of the back pack and ran a zip tie through and around the clip of my tail light. I tightened the zip tie as much as I could and now the light isn't going anywhere. The grommets are through the top flap of the pack so there are no holes in the main compartment.

I got the grommet kit from Home Depot. The kit is made for tarps and vinyl but easily worked on the heavy canvas of my pack. Included in the kit was a hole punch which was useless on fabric so I just cut a very small X with and exacto knife and punched the grommet through.

I got the idea for this from a blog I read last year but for the life of me I can't remember which one.

Say "Back Pack Hack" out loud, right now.

Tuesday, I wish I could quit you...

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Feel The Need, The Need For Tweed!


A Washington, DC tweed ride emerges! You may remember my post from late September, whining that other cities were having all the fun and DC was in desperate need of tweed. It looks like my whining has payed off. Now I don't think that the ride is a direct result of my post but I'll just pretend it may have helped things along.

Here is the info from Dandies and Quaintrelles

Washington D.C.'s first ever tweed ride is set to begin on November 15, 2009. Our reason is pleasure and style. Our cause is Arts for the Aging, Inc. (AFTA).

Some of you have been waiting for a tweed ride in D.C. Others are confused and uncertain of it's point. We'll let points be made by politicians. Style is our concern. Amusement is our desire. We saw great style and imagined considerable amusement in the images of tweed rides in other major cities. Use your google skills and see what fun has been had in London, Chicago, San Fransisco and Boston.

We'll begin our ride at 11:00 am on 8th and H Street N.E. behind the great bank. There's an appropriately appointed photo studio that has been preparing to capture respectable images of our fashionable participants.

We'll end our ride on 14th and U where Marvin will provide us with nourishment, libations and fine soul. Non riders are welcome to join us in the festivities. If you need any more details on why you should spend a fall Sunday with us in your finest tweeds, you're making too much of a fuss of things.

Leave the fussiness to us and avoid it by appearing on vintage bikes, vintage inspired bikes, fixed geared machines and dapper attire. Leave the fleece, lycra and rugged outer shells at home. This ride is for the dandy!

Don't have a bike, Don't worry! Join us for the afterparty at Marvin. There will be raffles, giveaways, specialty drinks offered by our sponsor Plymouth Gin, and wall to wall dandies dancing to the finest britpop and soul this side of the Atlantic!

Return to this invite frequently for more surprising details.

View the lovely photos below for our inspiration!

So there you are chaps. Save the date and some festive spirit.


Monday, November 2, 2009

LBS Review: Silver Cycles In Silver Spring

So the other week I was on my way home in a pretty good downpour. When crossing over Georgia Ave on Seminary when I heard that sound we all know and love.... PSHSHSHSH!!!!!

I scanned around to find a dry place to change the flat. Luckily I was within sight of Sliver Cycles, and they have a nice dry covered sidewalk in front of the shop. As I began to take the read wheel off an employee (Josh maybe?) stepped out and invited me in to change the the tube. I mentioned that the bike was muddy and I didn't want to make a mess but he insisted. He then sweetened the deal by having me throw the bike up on the stand in the back as it was almost closing time and there was little traffic in the store. I replaced the damaged tube and was on my way. Some good conversation, a floor pump, and a warm dry bike stand helped put the rest of my commute in perspective.

Silver Cycles in Silver Spring, MD caters to a surprisingly wide spectrum of cyclist for such a small space. You wont find downhill monsters or fashion bikes, just a good variety of descent gear. This is a refreshing change to the trend of local shops full of over priced gear being pushed on you by uninspiring people who just like to hear themselves talk.

Check them out if you want the truly local bike shop experience.

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