Friday, February 13, 2015

Love and a Bicycle

You make my heart beat quickly.
You remind me to be humble.
You help me to never give up.
You let me see the land.
You help me feel gravity.
You make me laugh.
You have given me friends.
You have taken some away.
You make me feel.
You make me fly.
You bring me down to earth.
You center me.
You bring me out.
You help me learn.
But most important of all...

You gave me my wife.
Thank you.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Monday, February 9, 2015

Flow and Being In The Zone

The Buhhdist idea of walking meditation has been around for a long time. It teaches us to be mindful of things around us but also of our own person. What we are doing with our bodies and how it is effecting us.

This is a concept that I've thought a lot about recently. But inparticular how it translates to the bicycle.

The terms "flow" and being "in the zone" come to mind specifically. I believe that this is the merging of action and awareness, the loss of self-consciousness, and it creates an altered sense of time (A slowing down.). It's an elusive space to be in. One that isn't sustainable. But is continually sought after by those that have been there. It's the closest to a blissful out of body experience that I can think of without taking mind altering substances.

I don't want this to sound all new wave hippy (Too late...). But I would argue that a big part of what we as cyclists are after is that state. Sure, we are riding our bike to get exercise. Perhaps being social. Or maybe even a little bit of precious alone time. But mixed in there. Weather it is at the fore front of our minds or perking away on the back burner. Is that feeling of concentration, that singular thought of you, bicycle and the road or trail.

All the stress from the day. All the problems at work or home. All the pressures melt away. And there is just you, your breathing, your legs turning, the wind on your face, the spinning of the tires and the road rolling out in front of you.

What a truly wonderful place.

As you become less and less aware of the ambient noise of life. The greater the chances of reaching a state of flow becomes.

Sometimes you just kiss it. A brief few seconds and it's gone. Other times it can last incredibly long. But never more than a few hours. Once you remove one portion of the equation it crumbles. Like a house of cards and then you get to go hunting for it again.

But isn't that half the fun?

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Product Review: Thomson Elite Covert Dropper Seatpost

Dropper seatposts are coming on strong. And there is a reason. They are a complete game changer. I honestly cannot think of one piece of equipment that has added more to my mountain bike riding enjoyment since I purchased my 29er.

By getting the saddle out of the way I can drop back in steeps, have more room to move in technical gnar, and get lower and more aero going down straight descents. Like I said, a real game changer.

There is problem however. Not all dropper posts are created equal. I went through two. TWO. Rock Shox Stealth Reverb posts in less that 6 months. Each one developed the same problem of moving up and down approximately 2 cm just riding along. Now I know I'm a fat ass riding a hard tail bike. But come on! Couple that with having to bleed them multiple times and the super stiff control button. I was full up on what Rock Shox had to offer. I'm sure there are other people out there that have owned one that was flawless. But fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice and I'm really stupid.

So I knew I wanted another dropper and I also knew I didn't want the Reverb.

Along comes the Thomson. First, I must admit, I am a huge fan of there products. Three, no, four bikes in my stable have Thomson seatposts. And two of my bikes have Thomson stems. Needless to say I like them a lot. To my experience they are bomb proof. So that's what made me lean their direction.

Couple that with the ability to route the "covert" cable and housing through the seat tube and I was sold.

As you can see it has the same saddle clamp as there other seatposts which has worked flawlessly.

Instead of running a hydraulic line from the seatpost to the button on the handle bars all the fluids are inside the post itself. Which makes installation reasonably simple. Getting the cable tension correct at the lever was a little tricky but nothing like bleeding hydraulic fluid.

The motion of the seatpost is smooth and solid. Though you cannot adjust the speed like you can with some other dropper posts. But I didn't feel like I was missing anything. It moved plenty fast. But not so fast that it slapped me in the man bag. Good enough.

One of the things I love the most about the Thomson post and hate the most (I'm a complicated fella.) is the lever assembly. I love how small the lever is. It's machined, anodized aluminum. Which I love. And it doesn't stick out in a hideous fashion like some other brands. It just blends into the bars with everything else.

The things I hate about the lever is that the super small allen bolt that holds the cable in tension stripped out the second time I tried to adjust the cable. I think the area that the allen head fits into was just to shallow. So I ended up replacing it with a slightly longer one. The other thing is how the housing juts straight out of the lever. No matter how I tried to mount it the cable still looks dumb. I'm sure they have it set up like that to reduce friction. I just wish it looked nicer. It seems like they should be able to do that. Perhaps that will show up in a later model. Let's hope so.

So all in all I give the Thomson Elite covert Dropper Seatpost a thumbs up and a Big E's Pretty Darn Swell Award (Very prestigious.)*. If you have the means I highly recommend picking one up.

*- I reserve the right to pull this award at any second when said product no longer does what I want. Or isn't in the colors I like...

Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Frame Pump

When I'm on a group ride I don't bother with a frame pump. No time! No time! Use a CO2 and getter' done. You don't know pressure until you have a group over your shoulder heckling you as you're trying to fix a flat tire.

In the winter time its even worse. They will ridicule your tire brand, model, tread and wear pattern all while your hands are freezing off trying to change the flat as quickly as possible.

Add the darkness of night and you've got yourself a trifecta of reasons not to use a frame pump.

But that isn't what this particular blog post is about...

It's more of a love letter.  A love letter to something that reminds me of my beginnings in the sport. Something that really embodies the idea of PRO.

The handful of professional racers that I've been around all had specific things on their bikes when doing a training ride.

1. Training wheels. Usually something with a lot of spokes and beefy tires stretched over them.

2. Two bottle cages with bottles. I've never once seen a pro out on a ride with just one bottle. I assume mostly because they are doing enough mileage that they don't want to have to stop to refill. And as my friend Grahamo always says, "One never knows...". Which is usually followed by a 70 mile grinder over hill and dale.

3. Saddle bag. Usually small, black and unobtrusive. Just big enough for two tubes, a lever and maybe a multi-tool

4. Frame pump.

I once asked a ex-professional racer why this seemed to be a theme amongst pro's and he said because the team mechanics were not willing to give everyone on the team enough CO2 cartridges to last the year.

I guess that makes sense...

But regardless, it makes me feel like I'm attached to my roots when I have one on my bike.

I always preferred the pump under my top tube. Some, like Canada Dave, always had it along his non-drive side seat stay. I've also seen it on the backside of the seat tube. Which ever way I saw it in the wild I would always look at that person like they were in the secret society.

Now I'm about to get a little elitist here (Shocking I know). Hand pumps that go in the pocket, attach to the bottle cage or under the saddle do not count. Sorry, but these inventions, while serving the same purpose don't have the same heritage as the full sized frame pumps. And often times put said user square in the Fred Zone. I mean the frame pump puts me in the retro-grouch zone but whatevs....

I know all of you out there that have been around for awhile and are reasonably observant know exactly what I'm talking about. But for those uninitiated. Next time you see one in the wild take note and follow that wheel. Because I bet you're going to get schooled. In one way or another...

Thanks for reading!

Rubbers side down,

Big E

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hip To Be Square

Getting old sucks.

And I'm not even that old...

I've been dealing with a nagging hip ailment for almost a year now. The thing is that it only bugs me when I'm going race pace on the bike. If I'm just tootling around I'm totally fine. If I'm walking down the street there's nothing.

The pain started happening during my first MTB race last year. I don't know if it was an improper bike fit, under trained, the ridiculous cold (17 degrees) or an old bike wreck come back to haunt me (Lord knows I've had plenty of those too.). Frankly it could have been any one of those things or all of them in no particular order. But what I know is that the pain never really goes away whenever I try to turn the pedals in anger.

Now I'm sure the question in everyone's mind is; What have you done about it? Fair question.

I've gone to the chiropractor, massage therapist, and pro bike fitter. Next on the agenda is an acupuncturist.

 I'm sure a few of you have noticed a doctor and physical therapist aren't on that list yet. I'm apprehensive to go to the doctor... I have a pretty good idea of what he's going to tell me. I've gone through all this with my shoulder before.

This is how the scenario runs through my mind:

Doctor looks at me
Tells me to stay off the bike for 3-4 weeks
Physical therapy
Stretches and strengthening exercises
After that doesn't work. Take the needle (Cortisone shot).

The thing is that I've tried all that (Minus the needle).

If the acupuncturists doesn't work I'll go the official route... I don't know. I guess no one has ever accused me of being bright.

I'd just really like to tear legs off without feeling like I'm doing the same thing to my own.

So I'll keep you all posted (I'm sure you're riveted).

Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E