Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

May you all have some wonderful time spent with family and friends. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

Stockings up and rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, December 21, 2012

Star Light, Light Bright

Well, today is the shortest day of the year (Happy Winter Solstice by the way.). A lot of people might be pretty depressed about that. I myself seem to suffer from a touch of SAD this time of year. I've said it many times... I can take the cold. I can take the rain. I can take the wind. Just give me some sunlight! I don't think I would do very well in Alaska. At least this time of year.

Anyway, a lot of people feel down about the shortest day of the year. But not me.

We finally made the half way point! That means from now on (At least until June.) there will be a little bit more day light each day. Wahoo!!!

A fair question would be: What does this have to do with cycling? Excellent question. Thank you.

In a word. Lights.

The good ol' 600.

If you choose to ride your bicycle from anywhere between 3:30 in the afternoon to about 8 o'clock in the morning you pretty much need a light.  A "be seen" light at the minimum and a "seeing" light if you go beyond the street lights where the wild things are.

Well I'm one of the later. So I have to have a good light. The Dinotte light system that I have is very well built light.

Except I think mine is dying.

This would be its... 1,2,3,4th year with pretty heavy use. And I bought it used. So I guess I can't complain very much.

I had noticed for the past month or so that the light would flicker and then go back to steady beam. This use to just be a warning that you've hit the half way point on a battery charge. But last night the light started doing it anytime I hit a bump. Then about two thirds of the way through the ride it blinked out completely. Shit. Nothing quite like blindly dodging the debris and nasty bits on the road...

I stopped and wiggled the wires and unplugged it and generally poked at it for a bit and managed to get it to come back on. But lord only knows how long that will last.

So I guess I have three options.

1. Just get a new light system.

This appeals to the capitalist in me. I do love shiny pretty things (Just ask my wife.).

2. Send the light back to Dinotte.

They have excellent customer service and I'm sure they could fix it.  But what I'm not sure of is how much life my battery packs have left in them. So I don't know if it would it be worth the time and expense in the long run.

3. Open it up and see what I can do.

I'm pretty handy. I have tools and beer.  And I'm willing to bet it's just some sort of loose connection somewhere.

As of this moment I'm feeling a two stage effort of option 3 and seeing if its fixable. And if it's not go with option 1. *sigh*

I'll keep you posted (I'm sure you all will remain riveted to your computer screens to find out.).

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Prince And The Popper

Long, long ago (Last week.) after a most excellent group ride I had gotten redressed in my civi clothes and was taking my mountain bike out to the car. I was planning on putting it on my bike rack that's attached to the back of my car and locking it up there. I'm trying to sell it (2006 Cannondale Prophet. Size M. Let me know if you're interested.) and a fella at work wanted a test ride. Anyway, I'm was about to put it on the rack and then head off to our traditional watering hole for a much anticipated post ride beer. When my SSHW suggested that I should just ride it down there so that it wouldn't potentially get hit or kiped off the rack. That seemed like the more intelligent thing to do so I started to soft pedal it along the sidewalk while JP and SSHW walked next to me. When what did my wondering eyes appear but a really bitchin' Rolls Royce Phantom parked by one of the banks (Huh, go figure.) downtown.

It looked a lot like this one.
 As I slowed down to take a look at it my SSHW and JP continued walking and talking. When I yelled out to them to check out the hot car.  A fella across the street sort of darted his head back towards where I was yelling from and had an exceptionally worried look on his face.

All of a sudden I was taking in the whole scene from this guy's point of view. Here is this sketchy (Let's face it. Even on good days I look sketchy.) looking dude with a black hat, coat, no helmet, riding a mountain bike on the sidewalk being loud right in front of his car. At a distance I could have easily been labeled a guy who rides a bike because he "has" to. Not because he "wants" to.
Then as if right on cue JP asks the guy if that was his car. The man very quickly said yes. Not in the way a prideful owner of such a fine automobile would say. But it sounded more like in the worried hopes that if we knew it was his maybe we wouldn't fuck with it in his presents.

It's one of those times in life when I wanted to explain my entire life story so this guy could be a little more at ease.

As it turned out that was the total of the conversation. But it did get me thinking about how a lot of the world must perceive us as cyclists. And even how cyclist perceive each other. Like somehow putting on lycra makes me better, safer, or more of an upstanding cycling citizen.

I don't really know where I was going with the story... Just food for thought.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cycling Gift Ideas For Christmas (The Biggest List)

I like lists. I always have. They are strewn around my work and at home for all kinds of different things. Some shopping lists, some lists of words or ideas that I don't want to forget. Sometimes I make lists of make-believe bikes that I want to build up. You get the idea.  Mostly those sort of lists I do for entertainment (Much like this one.). I guess its a kind of day dreaming. But one I can do while I look like I'm doing something productive.  At any rate, I'm not sure where I was going with that. But it seemed pertinent so that you all don't think I'm delusional (Which I probably am. But I don't want you to think that.). So here with out further ado is my non-delusional list of things that anyone of you who has an annual salary with at least six zeros behind it feel free to get for me.


Gee whiz thanks! You're swell!

A Sprinter conversion van by Outsidevan would be sweet!

Custom Sprinter
Small enough to fit in a parking lot or up a gravel road. But enough space for your crap.
Custom Sprinter

The second thing on my un-gettable list is a randonee Vanilla bicycle. I've been lucky enough to have seen and played with a couple of his bikes in person and they are as meticulous and pretty as you would think they are.

I'd love one of his bikes.

Third on the list is another bike. This one would be a cross bike from Ira Ryan Cycles.

Form follows function with Ira's bikes and no where is it more apparent than in one of his cross frames.

 Espresso. With its ethereal smell and beautiful creme. I can't think of anything else that is so directly part of cycling, yet isn't. I've always wanted a home espresso machine and grinder that are worthy of making some exceptional coffee. But like most shlubs I have to stand in line behind the hooka hacka frappe mocha chino ordering public.

Truth be told I have no idea what makes one espresso machine better than the other. So forgive me if the picture isn't as pin-up worthy as some of the other things on the list (It looks pretty to me though).
 Next on the list would be a Pereira urban bicycle.

Tony builds some of the most beautiful city street going bikes that I've ever seen. He has a playfulness to his designs and ideas that make his creations all the more attractive.

The idea of time trials is becoming more and more appealing (I must be getting old.). And one of these Cervelo beauties would be an awfully nice whip to pretend I'm going fast on. Plug for my LBS Scott's Cycles. They're now a Cervelo dealer. So maybe I could point in the opposite direction and yell, "What's that over there!?!" and subtly roll one out of the shop. Just kidding Steve. Maybe...

I would of course need the super fast Zipp wheelset to go with the Cervelo.

The Superfly Pro SL would hurt my feelings either.

Brew Cave Walk-In Beer Cooler and Kegerator
A walk in beer frig/kegerator would be Sa-Weet!

Pretty much the entire Assos clothing line would really accentuate my cycling wardrobe.

The rack above the workbench is for wheels being worked on
And last but not least. A dream garage to work on and store my bikes. This one is a dream that I plan on turning into a reality very soon. Seeing as how I already have a garage and the bikes. It feels like it should work itself right out.

 Well I think I'm all listed out. I'm sure I could put on there a couple of dream cycling adventures. But I think I'll save that for a different time.

I hope I'm not  the only one day dreams about stuff like this. I must admit that putting this all down is making me feel like a greedy capitalist with first world problems. But that slight sting of elitism and and self-importance will subtly dissipate with time I'm sure...

Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cycling Gift Ideas For Christmas (The Bigger Presents)

In the last post I went through and did my level best to keep the list to "reasonable" gift ideas. Things that would fit in a stocking (If you shoved them.) and were not ridiculous (I understand my view on this has been very slanted for a long time.) in price (By the way I wanted to throw one more idea in the stocking category and that is T9 Boeshield chain lube. It lasts forever and is a lovely clean lube. Good stuff!) But I also realize that some people wanted maybe something a little bigger to put under the tree. Something with slightly more wow factor. So it's with that in mind that this next list was created.

I have one of these Feedbeck Sports Pro-Elite work stands and I can tell you it is one of my favorite pieces of equipment. Light, strong, functional and good looking (Almost like me.). What more could you ask for?

The Lemond Fitness Revolution Trainer is the sweetest trainer I've ever used. And that's saying something considering how much I hate trainers.

Showers Pass Elite 2.1 (Everything I choose seems to have elite in the title. Hmmm.) is waterproof, breathable, visible and an Oregon based company. All good things.

The Garmin Edge 800 has every bell and whistle that you could ever want or use on a cycle computer and it has a color display. Ooooo! Pretty colors....

A custom set of training wheels from your LBS. There is nothing quite like riding a pair of wheels that were made for you specifically.

A great bike rack for the car makes life so much simpler. The Yakima HoldUp is super easy to use. No need to remove wheels. Just drop the bike in, lower the hook, and tighten the strap. Takes 20 seconds and you are on your way.

Massage therapy is one of those gifts that keeps on giving. Especially when it's done regularly. Makes a big difference on sore muscles.

JP's fridge or something close would also be a wonderful present (For me anyway).
I'm going to do one more list. It's going to be the ridiculous list. The dream list. The one that I would start working on if I won the lottery. Why? Because I like to do frivolous things. I mean I write this blog don't I.

After that I'll quit harassing everyone with my lists (For now.) and let the true meaning of the holiday season come through....


Just kidding. Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cycling Gift Ideas For Christmas (Stocking Stuffers)

Christmas gift giving can be a difficult thing if that special someone on your list is a cyclist. Mostly because everything they seem to want has several zeros behind it. Now I'm not promising that I won't have a few of those on this list (At least one zero behind it.). I am after all still one of those ravenous American capitalist type cyclists. But there are many things that you can buy for around thirty dollars (Or less.) that make awesome gifts. So don't despair! Me being me though, I do get easily distracted by shiny pretty things (Just ask my SSHW.). So with out further ado, part one of the 2012 Cyclists' Christmas list (The Stocking Stuffers!)~

Walz Cycling Caps are a fantastic company. Custom caps and two sizes for guys with fat heads (Such as myself.). I know I've had them on the list before. But they're here again because they are worth it.
Backcountry Research Fönbag is an awesome little water resistant bag that you can still operate a touch screen through. Very cool product.

BT0009 - Beer is Good Opener
Paragon Machine Works titanium bottle opener. Any cyclist who loves beer needs to have one of these. One will last you forever, unless you lose it...

Pedros Wash Kit. Because a clean bike is a happy bike.

Peloton Magazine is easily my favorite cycling periodical. Great writing and photos...

Castelli Nanoflex Bib Tight ($130) is the closest thing to ideal winter riding gear for Oregon that you are going to find. While not waterproof it's darn close.

While sticking with Castelli these are their Diluvio Neoprene gloves ($50). They will keep your hands warm in nasty wet winters.

Bulk zip ties are something you can never have to many of and always come in handy.

This whole group of Park tools is over $200 but anyone of these bike specific tools would be awesome to stuff a stocking with.

Blinder 1 Heart Black
Knog make these awesome little blinker lights that are blindingly bright and USB rechargeable.

Crank Brothers Pica +  is one of the purdiest tools I've seen in a while. Compact, flat and a chain tool. A winning combo by any ones standards.

SE Dental Pick 4 Piece Set
A dental pick set come in super handy for bicycles. Pulling bearing seals and picking out little bits of rock and glass out of your tires are just two things that come to mind.

BEER!!! (Or wine.) Anyone who loves beer (Or wine) wouldn't mind a couple extra bottles to add to the beer (Wine) frig.
 I sure hope this gives you guys some ideas on what to give the cyclist on your list. Part two will be bigger stuff (The "dream" list.). But honestly all these things would make any rider a happy little camper.

Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hocking Up A Loogie

No one ever said that riding a bike was clean.

Last week there was a fairly large email thread that I was a part of weaving it's way through about group rides and etiquette. Most of the talk was about coming up with a system to help people understand where rides were going, how difficult and how long they going to be. And all that is well and good but the idea of etiquette got me thinking.  I've talked before about the top ten rules for riding in a group. In fact it was my very first post (As I squint off into the distance.). But something I didn't touch on in that post were snot rockets and spitting. Both of these things are important tasks for riders to master because lets face facts. The human body is a leaky, wet and runny mess. And that's before burritos...

Snot Rockets: This is an invaluable tool to have in your arsenal. Not only to keep snot from running down your face but also to help you breathe better. And anyone who has been gnawing on the stem for more than a few seconds knows that you want all the air you can get.

First, please, if you're in a group don't just let it fly. If you can. Roll out towards the yellow line (If it's safe to do so.) or drift back to the back of the group.

Second, when you are about to blow. Do so in a downward direction. Look down at your top tube and blow under your arm (The pic above does a good job illustrating this.). I can't tell you how many asshats I've seen on rides just turn their head to the side and spackle my bike, myself and everyone around them with their own personal rinse. It's nasty...  If you can't leave the spot you are in (A good example is if the race is on and you're hanging onto the wheel in front of you for dear life.). Then point your head down and farmer blow into your glove. I know it's gross, but I'd much rather deal with my own mucus than have the poor bastards behind me deal with it. Like I said, no one ever said cycling was clean.

Of course if you are truly old school and carry a handkerchief then I guess you've got you're own problem solved (You gentleman you.). I personally have never carried one. Mostly because I have never had the need to bestow a token of my gratitude to some handsome knight that has saved me from a fate worse the death (Hmmm... Maybe I should start carrying one...). But kudos to you people that do.

Spitting:  A lot of the same rules apply to spitting as snot rockets. Being away from people when you do it if you can... Look down and to the side instead of just turning and letting it fly...

A couple of tips that I would suggest as well is to put your arm down on the side you are leaning over to spit so that any mist is somewhat blocked by your arm instead of giving the person behind you a shower. My SSHW likes to spit down and in front of her (Like your front wheel is the spittoon.). Which I don't think is a bad idea either.

Bottom line with all of this is be courteous. Think about others before you think of yourself. It only takes someone else's loogies to land on your legs or feet a couple times to understand how important this kind of etiquette is.

Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E