Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sick Little Video From Black Rock

Brison started physical therapy yesterday. He grabbed his bikes and started wrenching on them last night after dinner. I'm taking that as a good sign...

Here is a video from a local boy at a local place.

A nice little mid week pick-me-up.


Alan Thompson on

Rubber Side Down,

Big E

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Miss Placed Wings and The Winter Solstice

I spent most of yesterday afternoon in the ER with Brison "Superman" Monroe getting him patched up after a jump gone wrong up at Black Rock Mountain Bike Park.

The arm bone thingy should be up near the shoulder blade thingy...
He's doing okay all things considered. It took a long time for Andrew (His brother and EMT for the day.) to get him down the hill and to the hospital. But he did a great job in making sure his brother got there safe and still in one piece.

Once he got to the hospital B had to wait a long time to get fixed. They had to wait for the results from the ton of x-rays they took to make sure nothing else was wrong. Along with making sure he was doped up enough to pop it back into place.

The nurses and doctors did a wonderful job and I thank them for patching the boy back up. I'm sure he'll be able to fly another day. Just not in the near future....

B still groggy from the doctor putting his arm back into place.
 Please take a moment and watch the most excellent video stylings of the Brothers Production Company LLC:

Hopefully his bike won't look like this next time.

So that was the excitement for the week (Hopefully)...
 But I wanted to talk about the Winter Solstice too.

Today is the shortest day of the year. Less and less light has shone through our windows. Giving us that much needed vitamin D and kept up our sunny domineers. Long shadows have been cast out on the roadways and trails as we go for rides. Which is simultaneously beautiful and sad.

I've often said that I can handle the rain and cold of Oregon winters but I sure wish it could be light as long as it is in the summer time. That would be awesome!

But we don't have to think about that as much now. Because it's only going to get more light from here.

Happy Winter Solstice everybody...

Summer here we come!

Rubber side down (That means you too Brison...),

Big E


Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Cycling Gift Ideas: The Bigger Stuff

I have been amazed at how many people I've talked in the last week or so that said that they haven't even started their Christmas shopping yet. So when my instincts told me that it was probably to late to put out a part two to the list. I just told my instincts that they had shit for brains and I was going to do it anyway (I'm a rebel like that.) So just to give everyone a bit of fair warning. The last list that I came up with was the smaller, less expensive gifts. But this list is going to have larger, more expensive stuff on there. Not to say everything is ridiculous. But it definitely leans towards the hundreds versus tens. You've been warned...

So here we go.

1. Lezyne Multi Tool

Pure pretty in a tool.
My super hot smoking wife got me one of these last year for Xmas and I love it. Has one of the best chain tools I've ever seen on a multi tool at any price. $25-45

2.Bontrager Glo and Ember Blinky Lights

A super hand dandy light.

The Glo (Head light) and Ember (Tail light) are really convenient "be seen" lights that strap onto just about anywhere. They are very simple. Run on one 2232 battery. And have a solid or blinking mode. Good stuff. $12 each

3. Feedback Sports Elite Work Stand

This is the best portable bike stand on the market. Period. It's light, works flawlessly and can take a lot of punishment. Honestly one of my favorite bike tools. A little spendy. But totally worth it if you like to wrench. $225
4. Lemond Revolution Trainer

The Lemond Fitness Revolution trainer has taken the traditional trainer and put it on its ear. No longer do you have to wear out tires spinning away in your basement. Or worry about your race wheels while warming up before the big day. It's a clever design. Very stable. And while a little more than a lot of the trainers out there. They at least didn't price themselves out of the market at $500.

5. Campagnolo "Big" Corkscrew

It occurred to me on the last list that I was giving the beer drinker on the list a pretty cool present. But completely ignored the wine connoisseur. But no more! The "Big" Campagnolo corkscrew is like the holy grail of wine openers. It's big, beautiful, and Italian. And it comes in a really cool box. All this for the bargain price of $170 (What did you expect!? They're Italian.)

6. Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack

Commuter Backpack, Large
This backpack is waterproof, has a cavernous main compartment that has a liner to keep your things dry. A side pocket for a U-lock and several smaller pockets for little things. The two vertical stripes are reflective material and it is designed to hang low enough on your back so you can look back to see the street and not just more backpack. $90

7. Yakima Holdup Bike Rack

The Holdup rack is a hitch mounted rack that lets you keep all the wheels on. As well as the rack never touching a painted surface. It can fit BMX, road, 26" and 29" MTB tires all groovy like. And it's got a bottle opener. Nuff said... $400

8. Custom Built Wheels

This is Sugar Wheel Works up in Portland
There is nothing like a set of custom built wheels. I would encourage anyone who is interested to build their own. It is a trick process to do. But very gratifying and totally worth it.

If that's not your cup of tea. Have a professional build them up with the components that you select. Please use your Local Bike Shop (my LBS) whenever possible.  If not, someone like Sugar Wheel Works are caring and thorough.  $500 +

9. Bicycle Tool Set

A tool set like this one from Park Tools will let you tear down and build up just about any bike. It may not have every tool you'll ever need. Things like cup presses and derailleur realignment tools. But it will take care of 99% of it. $207

10. Coaching

That's my coach (Omer Kem)  up front. And another great coach right behind him (Graham Howard).
 Coaching is one of those things that you get out of it what you put into it. But that being said. If you need encouragement, have a real desire to improve and are disciplined. Coaching is an great thing to get the best cyclist out of you.  (Price really depends on what sort of package you want.)

So theres list number two! I hope it saves some one's bacon for a last minute Christmas present for the cyclist on your holiday shopping list.

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 Carbon Clincher Review

A quick note: Sorry its been so long gang. Life has a funny way of getting in the way. I should be back on here with a little more regularity. Thanks for hanging around. Now, on with the show....

The new Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 carbon clinchers (Photo credit:Andi)

This last Tuesday I got a chance to take the newly designed Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 wheelset out for a spin.

Initial Impressions:

They look very nice. In fact at a distant glance (20 yards or so.) I first thought they were Lightwieghts. But once I was closer and saw the white hubs (A nice visual detail in its own right.) it was obvious what they were.

White DT Swiss made hubs.
 It also became very apparent that these were completely redesigned from the two previous wheels under the Aeolus model name.

Instead of taking a box style carbon clincher rim and gluing a thin carbon fairing over the top (Like the later two designs.). The D3 is formed as one whole unit.  Which gave them the ability to use exposed nipples (Huh, huh I said exposed nipples...) instead of the hidden ones that were incorporated in the old design. And if you own a pair of the older models you know they are a pain in the ass they are. Especially if you need to true your wheel and you own the tubular version like me (Fail.).

The new design is a one piece hoop.

 They also are going the same design route as Zipp, HED and several other manufactures and created a much wider wheel than in the past. They went from 21mm to a 27 mm wide rim. I had to widen the brake calipers on my bike substantially to get them to fit. According to the propaganda the new width is supposed to help with aerodynamics as well as cornering.

The aerodynamics of the new design are improved by keeping the leading edge surface of the tire/wheel interface as smooth as possible. I.E. Getting rid of the bumps to cut down on wind turbulence as it flows across the wheel.

The second idea with the wider tire is to have a larger contact patch on the ground while cornering. Larger patch, more grip. More grip, go faster. Pretty simple idea. But the other part about having the wheel wider is that it keeps the tire's sidewall from flexing as much, or as quickly. Effectively making the tire squat down (therefore the sidewall gets smaller.) to bridge the gap between the rim edges.

The Pros:
Even though I've only had a few days to ride on them I must admit I think the new engineering is correct. These D3's are a real pleasure. They gripped the road confidently. Without much hint of lateral wheel flex. The wheels spun up quickly. The bearings were another real pleasant surprise.  DT Swiss hubs laced 18 spokes up front and 24 in the rear. I was amazed at how smoothly the wheels rolled down the road. Compared to my first generation Aeolus (Also with DT Swiss hubs.) these D3's spun shockingly well (Note to self. Check into replacement bearings for my wheels...).

The braking surface was also a great characteristic that was quickly apparent. I've ridden brand new, out of the box carbon wheels that had at least a little brake pulse or chatter when the brakes were applied. These Bontragers were exceptionally smooth. I didn't ride them in the rain. So I couldn't comment about wet braking performance. But I'm sure they're like most other carbon wheels in that respect (Terrifying...).

The D3's are a very competitive weight at 1550 grams for the pair. Which makes them not as light as some aero carbon clinchers on the market. But there are certainly heavier brands out there too. However, almost all other brands have a maximum weight limit on them (usually between 170-185lbs.). Bontrager doesn't have any weight restrictions on any of their wheels. That's a big plus for us "larger" fellas out there. You can ride and race them without having that little voice in the back of your head telling you at any moment you could have a catastrophic failure. Piece of mind is worth a lot. But...

The Cons:

There really are only two things that detract from this wheelset.

The first being the price. At $2700.00 MSRP the D3's are very expensive. In fact, with the exception of a couple "custom" brands. They are the most expensive carbon clinchers on the market (At least as far as my searches took me.) That's a big enough obstacle to be a deal breaker for a lot of people.

The line that's between the spokes isn't completely covered.
 The second is a build quality issue. On the top edge of the wheel (Where the nipples go into the wheel itself.) there is a seem where both sides of the carbon mold meet. If you run your hand along that edge you can feel that the clear coat over the carbon didn't completely cover. In other words it feels a little "fury". Now please understand that I am nit picking here. But for the plethora of US denero that Bontrager is asking people to lay down I think everything should be covered. Both literally and figuratively.

The Overview:

The Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 wheels are some of the nicest I've ever ridden. They are stiff in the correct parts and forgiving in the others. They're beautiful to look at and give any bicycle that they adorn a certain "dub" bling. They give a noticeable aerodynamic advantage and great cornering ability. 

If you are the sort of person that wants the "best" and price be damned. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these wheels as one of the sets that you should test ride.

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Cycling Gift Ideas: The Stocking Stuffers

To all those good little boy's and girl's out there this is a time to be developing Christmas wish list's. And while the economy has hit alot of people hard. There is no reason why we can't have a bunch of "stocking stuffers" that are super high on the awesome scale.

For this part one of the annual (I say that because I did one last year. And on top of that I love compiling lists.) cycling Christmas list I'm going to keep the gifts small (I.E. Stocking stuffable) and  affordable.

So with out further ado. Here we go....

1.  Personalized Walz Caps:

   Not only do they have unique stylish designs and patterns but you can have it personalized with just about any lettering you want. As well as the fact that they make a hat that fits my fat melon. All for less than $30.

2. Mad Alchemy embrocation:

Mad Alchemy | Medium

$20 dollars worth in a jar will last a very long time and keep your legs warm like toast.

3. Paragon Machine Works Titanium Bottle Opener

Now you may be asking why titanium and not aluminium? Because everyone knows after the first 500-600 beers an aluminium opener wears out. And steel is just soooo heavy. So if you splurge for the ti you get the best of both worlds. And no beers get hurt... $25.

4. Noise Canceling Earbuds

A good pair of earbuds can save a cyclist from a maddening winter full of boring trainer sessions and workouts. I have a pair of the old versions of these and they have served me well. They are a little spendy compaired to anything else on the list but well worth it in my opinion. $75. But you can also get much less expensive noise canceling buds for $25 +.

5. A Peloton Magazine Subscription:

Easily the best Bicycle magazine on the market right now. It dosen't delve into the mire that Bicycling and Velonews dose. They  inspire cyclists with stories, interviews, and information. A truly great periodical...

6. Defeet Woolie Boolie winter socks.

Every Christmas people need socks and underwear. So why not give some socks that they'll be excited to pull on!? And Defeet make my favorite tootsie warmers.... $15

7. Camelbak Podium Bottles

I got two of these for a Xmas a couple years ago and I haven't looked back since. They are the best bottles on the market. You never have to worry about them leaking or having to push back the mouthpeice. On top of which they don't have that nasty plastic taste that a lot of bottles have. $8

8. Back Country Research's Tulbag.

They come in mess and several different colors as well. They hold your CO2, multi-tool and a tube. And for those of us (Myself included.) that don't really like to have a saddle bag. These handy dandy little things make keeping everything together in my jersey pocket possible and easy. $11

9. Thorn Resistant Tubes

If you ride in the winter (And you should.). One of the last things that you want to do on a wet, nasty and cold day (Or night) is to pull over and fix a flat. That's where these babies come in. On top of that fact. They are heavy as hell and when spring comes along. You can put your nice wheels back on and you feel like your flying. Which is always nice. $15 each

10.Cyclocross Magazine

This is another fantastic periodical. And if you have a cyclorcross racer on your Christmas list then this is the gift that keeps on giving all year long. Great articals, inspiring pictures and a very good website as well. Good stuff! $20

Well I think that is a pretty good start to a fantastic Christmas. I would be super chuffed to get any of these things. I hope this will inspire you to go and stuff someone's stockings. And then givem' a gift too....

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Pretty Exceptional Bicycle

Every time that I walk into the bike shop I take a visual inventory. It's not so much a purposeful inventory. But just to see if there is anything new or different that I can ogle over. And on just such a recent occasion I saw this bike hanging from the scale on display.

 This is a 1972 Schwinn Paramount.

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog for any length of time knows I'm a sucker for an old steel bike.  Paramount's in particular. And one with some lovely Campagnolo components hung on it!? Well sold and sold!

I asked Steve and Larry  where the frame came from. And Larry explained to me that it's owner use to work at the shop. His name is Kerry Montgomery (Forgive me if my spelling is wrong.) and unfortunately was very sick and could no longer use it. So he thought it would be nice to display at the shop for a while.

And I 'm so glad they did. What a truly lovely example of a Merchx era bike.

I wanted to do a photographic expose on it (Even though my camera work leaves quite a bit to be desired.)

Just under 24lbs. That was a very competitive weight for it's time.

Clement were the tubulars of choice any race bike back in the day.

A head badge that needs no introduction. Check out the beautiful chrome lugs and fork crown too.

The paint color is a wonderful compliment to the chrome and silver bits. Especially the Campy groupo.

The Silca frame pump colored to match is a lovely touch. And something you only see on fully custom frames anymore.

A very tight cluster of gears and not near as many as now a days (True 10 speed).

Every component on this bike is near mint Campagnolo Nuovo Record. Just beautiful...

Looking at this bike, can in one breath shows how far we've come technologically. But also what we've lost in care and craftsmanship. You don't see lugs like that outside a fully custom shop anymore. You don't see a lot of things outside a custom shop anymore. They're are to busy trying to figure out which mass produced carbon frame from Taiwan or China will look the best with their logos and stickers on it (Sorry, I'm getting a little to retro grouch.). It's just a sign of the times unfortunately.

But we can have things like this bike to remind us of a simpler time. A more "hands on" time.

In a way, I think of it just like modern cars. A new car is in almost every way superior to their predecessor. But if given a choice. Would you rather have a new Mustang or a 1969 Mach 1 Mustang (The model they based the new one on.)? Yeah, me too....

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

This Just Makes Me Smile

I'll have a post up about this last weekend's race hopefully tonight, tomorrow morning at the latest. 

But I wanted to share this video that Brison brought to my attention.

There are many things that I love about this video. Not the least of which is that it features an awesome Jack Russell terrier named Lily.  I love dogs and Jack Russell's imparticular. My family and I have a great JR named Izzy. Even though she's getting old and I don't think there is any way that she could do this stuff now. I bet in her prime she would be giving Lily a run for her money.

Hope you enjoy it on this wet and windy Northwest day.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cross Crusade Race #8 PIR

This last weekends race can be summed up in one word: FUN.
Dave going after it. SQUIRREL!!!!
The weather has finally changed. Ironically just in time for cyclocross season to be over. Well, almost over anyway.  There had been several days of rain and cool temperatures which was making things feel a little more in line for cross racing.

Jarod somewhere towards the front. Not enough O's in smoooooth...

Jarod not having enough O's. More of a smoth...
 I have never done this course before. It is on the in-field at PIR (Portland International Raceway for those of you not in the know.)  in Portland proper. And I 'm glad to report I think it may be my new favorite (I'm sorry Bend. I'm fickle...). With a myriad of twists, turns, peanut butter mud and some pretty technical riding. It made for a rockus good time!

Thomas taking it very serious at first.
Both Adam and Thomas raced first. Giving Brison and I a chance to study some of the tricky parts of the course as spectators first.

Adam with his game face on.

Thomas had a very good first lap and a half (I'd estimate he was in the top teens somewhere.). Before I think fatigue and a week off the bike from a work injury. Started to catch up to him.

There is no smiling in a race! Only pain and grimacing allowed...

Adam in the sea of people...

Adam had a good race as well. Until... (Did you notice there always seems to be one of those in cross racing? Me too.) He snapped his derailleur hanger with one lap to go. But to his credit and determination he ran that bastard all the way in. In fact, because he was the last guy on the course. When he crossed the finish line with the bike on his shoulder he got a standing cheer from everyone around the start/finish line. It was pretty cool...

Through the trees to cyclocross we go.

Brison with his awesome call up and rad bike handling skills did very well on this course. In fact, he passed me on the last lap. Little bugger...  But honestly I couldn't have been more proud. He did a great race and kept the pressure on with the leaders the entire race. And considering we were having tire/wheel problems before the start.  I think he handled it all with grace and style to finish a very styly stylish 4th. Good on him.

I on the other hand couldn't have gotten a worse call up if I tried. Dead last in the starting grid. So right away I had to change me mind set. I was going to pass as many people as I could. And pick the best lines as possible.  Generally, I think I did both. I finished the race a little forward of the middle (27th place) and all except one spot (The run up in the woods) I think I got the lines dialed in. Now if only I could go through them with about 5 more mph I think I might have a shot at the big times...

I really do have freakish calf muscles. Look at those things!
That is the last of the Cross Crusade series (Sniff...). It was a lot of fun. I miss it already. Like a good friend that's going on a long trip. Or having your childhood dog go off to live at that farm in the country... (Wait, what!?)

The only race left on this calendar year (Versus the Mayan one. They have an awesome series. The only problem is that they sacrifice the winner... Not much of a motivator to be anything other than pack fodder.) is the OBRA Cyclocross Championship down in Eugene this Saturday.

And with the weather being what it is. It looks like it's going to be a true hard man's race. Cold as shit and muddy as hell. Should be fun!

Only weird thing is that it appears that they are going to have the Master B's race with the Beginner's and the Clydesdale's. That will make for a (ahem..) interesting race. I'll be curious to see how they deal with the start. Or if it's going to be a mass free for all.  There will be a lot of pissed off B's with all the lapped traffic. I guess we'll all see soon enough.

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E