Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cycling paradox

This weekend was full of paradoxes. I found myself unable to ride outdoors Saturday morning as our overly busy schedules put Golden committed to do a school function; meaning I needed to hang with Owen. Since the weather forecast didn't seem promising this wasn't too big of a deal and it looked like those who weren't racing at La Bastide were content to sit the inclement weather pattern out.

I pulled out the trainer and settled down to riding while watching the first classic of the season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Our weather was chilly but the Belgian Spring I saw looked miserable. How often do you see pros racing in tights, jackets, and scarves. Yes, scarves. They looked miserable. So paradox number one - it actually seemed more enjoyable to ride my bike indoors given the other options.

Sunday came and with it a glorious sunshine that looked too inviting to stay indoors. We kitted up for a family ride, got all the bikes ready and took off riding towards the greenway. Paradox number two - my road bike for this voyage was my 'cross bike with road tires on it, but I made sure to hit dirt as much as possible to make up for the lack of tread.

The sun was bright and warm but the breeze was almost too chilly. As far as a tease for a coming rendezvous with Spring goes, Sunday was almost too much to bear. Owen attacked the hills with gusto on his single speed BMX bike. He even powered up Library Hill in one go. As crazy as our lives are, as busy as our schedules are, and as hard as it is for two outdoor athletes to pine for the freedom of self-propelled speed, the rush of blood and beating heart, and the deep breaths of fiery lungs, these moments of easy riding behind Owen as he explores his physical limits, pushes his pulse rate, and proclaims his growing strength with new milestones like climbing a hill without stopping for the first time, are deeply and astonishingly satisfying. Finding so much joy and wonder in the accomplishments of someone so small and young is perhaps the greatest paradox of all.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gunnar Crosshairs

+daren wilz checks out his new Gunnar Crosshairs frameset. Gunnar is known for super sweet, American made, steel bike frames. This frame is being built up for the upcoming Love Valley Roubaix race. Stay tuned for full build pics later this week!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pearl Izumi Kissaki 2 road running shoe - review

 The Pearl Izumi Kissaki 2 road running shoe.  Today was my first run in these puppies.  If you would like to refer to the technical information from Pearl Izumi you can do that via this link here- Or follow me below and I will explain it very simply for you.  


First off in the past I have had issues with Pearl Izumi running shoes in terms of them fitting my foot.  I have a normal foot with a very high arch and a fairly narrow heel.  Pearl Izumi in the past have been very boxy in their "Last" and simply have been too much shoe for me.  I often found myself sliding in them and for those reasons simply just wore them around and not ran in them other then once or twice to try them out.  I have been running in the syncrofuel road II which they have under the "light stability" shoe category which I agree with.  I have wanted them to come out with a light neutral shoe other then their racing models.  They nailed a winner in the Kissaki 2 which I ran in today.

I will break this shoe down in 4 areas- Midsole, Outsole, Upper, and the Inner sole.

Midsole- Often referred to in footwear technology as the most important part of the shoe.  The Kissaki 2 is a great shoe for those that have a neutral gait through out the foot strike with minimal cushioning in the forefoot and heal.  They call this cushion, "Energy Form" under the forefoot and on the heel crash pad.  Similar to other forms of cushion by other companies but this is Pearl Izumi patented and I like it!

Outsole- This area of the shoe is what comes in contact with the ground.  It needs to be durable yet light so we the consumer get plenty of miles out of our investment.  This material is called "Blown Rubber" complimented with a carbon rubber crash pad on the heel.  Blown Rubber is simply a lighter form of carbon rubber and very responsive with each foot strike.  The carbon rubber on the heel is more durable thus lasting longer.  With today's age of forefoot running craze I would have liked to see Blown rubber the full length of the shoe since those that run in neutral shoes don't land on their heels.  We are mid-foot to forefoot strikers thus not needing the carbon rubber on the heel.  This would save a few ounces on the shoe for something that is not needed in an area that won't be used.

Inner sole- This is really nice.  The insole is lined with EVA (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate).  EVA is what all shoe manufactures use to use as their cushioning technology in the old days of running shoes in their mid-soles.  Now days due to improvements in shoe technology they can save that material for the inner sole thus providing more cushion with less weight.  You can read more about EVA here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene-vinyl_acetate, but basically EVA is a polymer that approaches elastomeric materials in softness and flexibility, and works great with glue.  The insole of the Kissaki is molded with EVA and provides a "cradle" for the foot as soon as you step in it with solid heel support.

Upper- The upper is constructed with "Seamless SKIN" technology with really thin film providing structural support in a supple way.  Basically no seams in the upper of this shoe.  Which saves on weight, manufacturing cost and provides a more sleek shoe profile.

Some might ask the question why the $130 price tag when they are saving manufacturing cost?  When making any product, rather it be bikes, wheels or shoes there is a huge degree of research and design that needs to take place.  Then field testing followed by revamps.  Then if all goes well the product can be released to the market.  So a lot of the pricing that you see on shoes is simply money companies have to charge not only for their technology of the product but to also cover the cost of years of development before launching it.  Most consumes only see the $130 price tag and think why?  Not taking into account the dozens of people working on the product on several different continents for years to provide that product to them!

Pearl Izumi says that their shoes run a 1/2 size large.  I have found they run true to size as I ordered a size 11 and run in size 11 in other brands.  But I like my shoes tight and I am use to a tighter fit then most people from years of playing soccer as a kid so please order up a 1/2 size if you generally like more room in the forefoot of the shoe.

I honestly like the Kissaki 2 and think it is worthy of the $130 retail price tag.  If you would like to talk further about the Kissaki 2 or other shoe models by Pearl Izumi available through Luna Cycles please contact me at the shop.  

Bring on the... meh

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by nutmeg66
February is an outright tease. Yesterday, I left the house at 7 am to ride to work. It was a balmy 19 degrees. I chose the commuter with gears over the commuter with Bar Mitts, a decision I regretted just shy of immediately as I rolled down the road.

I normally picture my interactions with cars on my morning commute as a comic panel from xkcd, probably because a stick figure would be the best I could muster, but I digress. In this comic panel, a car is passing me, I am looking over at the driver and the driver is looking over at me and we share a "thought balloon" which has both of us thinking "poor b*stard".

It isn't often that I envy car drivers on their commutes. I find cars to be confining and only find cars tolerable when driving a long distance to get somewhere. But in the sub- sub-freezing temperature of my commute yesterday, as my fingertips buzzed with the pain of early onset frostbite, my breathing came in short, shallow gasps of bitter cold, and my hands began to puff up from the cold despite my two layer gloves, that "thought balloon" was strictly directed at me.

One advantage of the frozen commute is that my normally cold school that I work in feels downright warm in comparison to the Iditabike experience I have just completed. What is truly mystifying about February, though, is that later in the day I went outside and it is sunny and warm with a slight cool breeze blowing. There has to be a >40 degree temperature differential as the day progresses. This is infuriating since my riding will be largely made up of commuting until time changes on March 10th. I'm so ready for the warm rides of Spring I can't hardly stand it.

To celebrate the coming time change and the start of the most glorious time of year to be a cyclist, we are having a big party. Check out our Spring Fling! event page, you're all invited. We'll have food and drinks from locally owned Howard Brewing Company. We'll be talking about our Google+ page and we'll be introducing our Google+ Community, which we hope will serve our cycling community as a virtual hub for ride information and planning. We are really excited about 2013!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fuji SLM 29 2.3

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 Fuji SLM 29 2.3 Mountain/Cross Country bike.  Equipped with Rockshox Recon silver 29 TK Solo air  w/tapered alloy steer, Poplock remote lockout/100 mm of travel.  Full Carbon frame with Shimano Deore, SLX and Deore XT. Shimano hydraullic brakes.  In stock, built and ready to ride!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Quint Ervin's Fuji Altamira Special Edition!

Fuji Altamira Special Edition Black on Black with full Sram Red and Boyd Vitesse wheels weighing in at 15.5 pounds.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Oh no! Shimano! - the beginnings of a long term ride review

First, I need to come clean in an act of full disclosure. I have NEVER ridden Shimano road components. EVER. I started off life as a little grommet riding Suntour Superbe Pro with downtube friction shifters on my Trek 760 in the late 80's. In the 90's, I saved up and got Campagnolo 10 speed Chorus Ergopower. When I moved to Lenoir, I finagled some Campagnolo Record 10 speed Ergopower. Then the early days of Luna Cycles coincided with the early days of SRAM and I started riding their first group, Rival and then added their second group, Force to the mix when it came out.

Thus, I have never ridden Shimano road components in my 27 years of cycling until now. I have once again taken a quantum leap in technology. While not quite as dramatic as the leap from downtube friction shifting to indexed shifting integrated on the brake hoods, it is a leap nonetheless. I have gone from mechanical shifting to electronic. I am now the proud, semi-gloating owner of a 2013 Fuji Gran Fondo 1.3 which comes equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting. No more cables, no more pushing a lever to physically move a derailleur. No kids, we're in the 21st century now. It's the bike Buck Rogers would have had.

I felt a little odd removing the battery charger from the parts box, but other than that little moment during the build, everything went swimmingly. It seemed nice with the bike in the stand, but the repair stand is a fickle mistress and can turn your head unless you know to watch out for her trickery. Bike behave very differently when their is a rider applying force to them and their wheels are touching the ground. So the real proof of this pudding had to come from an actual ride.

I headed out with the group ride on Saturday morning looking to do about 2 hours at a nice base pace. What I quickly discovered was that my shifting was effortless. I never realized how much you actually push that derailleur when you apply force to the cable, but when you just tap a button to send an electrical impulse, you realize just how much work goes into those mechanical shifts. I found myself shifting a lot more. I'm not sure if that will stick with me long term, but for this first ride I found myself using the shifters more to accomodate changes in terrain rather than standing up to apply more force to the pedals when the gear got a little tall.

Overall, I was really impressed. I plan to continue to share my thoughts and impressions on this bike as I put more time and intensity in to it.

I wasn't content to just ride such a modern drivetrain system as a way to evaluate Shimano components. I have also built up my Civia Prospect commuter bike with a Sora drivetrain with traditional STI style mechanical shift levers. I'm curious about how this low end drivetrain rides over the long term since it is so prevalent on entry level bicycles. My initial impressions of the Sora components are that they shift credibly well, but they lack a solid feel to them. The shift levers are plasticy and there is a lack of a solid "click" feeling when shifting up or down. It is easy to miss the gear or misshift due to this lack of feel. But the performance is still good, but definitely not of the level of the groups from Shimano and other manufacturers that are positioned above this low man on the totem pole.

And while I was at it, I decided to indulge a major bit of geekery on my part and custom make some light mounts for my bike with the new 3D printer we have at school. As a way of learning how to create a file for the 3D printer to read, and as a way to show students how to go from idea to prototype to redesign to second prototype, ad infinitum, I built some light mounts for the Civia, my daily commuter.
You can find my Down-lo bike light mount
at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:47982.
Download it and make some of your own!
I like mounting my lights down on the braze on pannier mounts on the fork, to get them lower and they seem to cast more usable light. I had been using some old bits of cut off steerer tube and star fangled aheadset nuts, but this design lengthens the mount to help the light clear the fork and also increased the mount diameter to better resemble a modern handlebar. I know that not many people will find this useful or desirable, but the point is that I can make something I want for myself and then share it with others, free of charge. Just add a 3D printer or a 3D printing service and it's all yours! Now just imagine computer mounts and other bits and bobs for your bike...
The 3D printer in action.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

I haven't gotten over the experience of seeing the Cyclocross World Championships in person. Seeing all of my favorite riders up close is an experience I will never forget. I am proud that we made up for lower spectator numbers for this type of event through sheer enthusiasm. Every rider was greeted with a wall of sound as they passed the crowd with the Americans cheered even more heartily. Every rider was appreciated for their efforts. Overall, the race was a huge party where everyone had a great attitude and had a fantastic time. Who could ask for anything better? The one exception to all of this bonhomie occurred when Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, was introduced at the awards ceremony. I lustily booed and was quite pleased to find myself joined by the vast majority of the crowd. The USA is grateful for having CX World Championships for the first time in the history of the sport, but not so grateful that we can't call a spade a spade.

The start of the Women's Elite race and yes, Marianne Vos is already out front.

First time through the frozen sand pit for the Women.

The Elite Men's start just as they come off of the pavement and onto the grass. Note the Belgian team member on the front sitting up and turning around and the Dutch team member sitting up and casually putting his glasses on the back of his helmet IN THE PACK AT THE START OF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!

The chaos in the pits during the Elite Men's race.

If you weren't able to make it to World's, I hope this gives you a sense of what it was like.