Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pro tips: Cleaning Your Bike

   Keeping your drive train clean is the key to good performance and long component life. It is also a time consuming pain in the ass. The easiest way to do this is to blast the crap out of your bike with a power washer. This is ill advised.


   High pressure can force the water and dirt into places that it may not belong. In the frame, in the bearings, all places that should stay dry. When I'm washing my bike, I like to use a garden hose and kitchen brush. These brushes work great, are pretty cheap, especially if you get them at IKEA like me.

50 cents each

    They're good for a many uses on the frame, or a few on the greasy drivetrain. The brissles won't scratch up your paint and are great at loosening dirt and gunk. Once they're black, they are not really removing gunk as much as moving it around, so just toss them in the trash.

The life of a brush

   So go get yourselves some cheap brushes and give your bike the cleaning it deserves!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Winter Park Race #4 Report

   Another race in the books at Winter Park. This one was particularly painful, and the results reflect that. This race had it all:
  • Denial: "This can't be happening, I will catch them on the next descent."
  • Anger: "I'm throwing my bike into a river, then pissing in that river."
  • Bargaining: "Just let me get through this race and I'll never eat another Ande's mint."
  • Depression: "I'm going to stop here and just lay down and die."
  • Acceptance: "Next race will be better, it can't be worse."

   My goal to not finish last has been busted twice, but I feel like this time I put in a much stronger effort. Let's talk about the course. Here's the profile I used to map climb distances:

Epic Point to Point profile

   You want climbing? We got climbing. This had around 4000 feet of climbing in 25 miles. The tricky thing is the combination of climbing and 2+ hours in the saddle. What does that get you? 


   It gets you last! I was in 6th for a while, but got caught on one of the longer hills near the middle by two guys right in a row. After that I was never able to catch up to either of them. Compounding things, me rear brake went south at the top of the first climb. The brake went south because (I think) of some bad seals. It was leaking everywhere. That is no excuse to ride poorly, but it sure doesn't help on the descents to only have a front brake.

General feel of the race

   Strangely, I started feeling pretty good about 2/3 through the race, and was able to make up some time. I think with that kind of energy through the whole race I would have stood a better change of maintaining 6th. 
   Like all races, the sting of both exhaustion and loss started to ebb immediately after finishing. I am already amped for the next one!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday WTF: How Soft is Aluminum?

   Today is a two-fer. Ever wonder how soft aluminum is? Well, here's two examples why you have to treat alum with a little care. 

Exhibit 1 - Shoe rub has worn these aluminum crank arms severely! Apply a little too much power and you risk snapping one off.

Exhibit 2 - Cable rub can do a lot of damage in a short period. This is why it's a good idea to protect your frame with some protective tape.

Exhibit 3 - Exhibit as an exhibit. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Bikes of the Tour + Bonus Movie

   Every year during the Tour de France we get edge of the seat racing, heartbreak and triumph. We also get some SWEET SWEET BIKE PORN. And I'm not talking about the Stradalli photoshoot. I'm talking about seeing the newest and most awesome bikes! This year is no exception.

Current leader Vincenzo Nibali's S-Works

   Here's a breakdown of the teams and their chosen rides:

  1. Ag2r La Mondiale - Focus Bikes Izalco Max
  2. Astana are backed - Specialized Tarmac (Nibali's bike above)
  3. Belkin - Bianchi Oltre XR2
  4. BMC - BMC TeamMachine SLR01
  5. Bretagne-Séché Environnement - Kemo Bikes KE-R8 5KS
  6. Cannondale - SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod
  7. Cofidis - Look Bicycles 695 Aero
  8. Europecar - Colnago C60 and V1-r
  9. - Lapierre Xelius EFI Ultimate
  10. Garmin-Sharp - Cervelo S3
  11. Giant Shimano - Giant Propel Advanced SL
  12. IAM Cycling - Scott Addict
  13. Katusha - Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 and Aeroad CF SLX
  14. Lampre - Merida Reacto and Scultura SL
  15. Lotto-Belisol - Ridley Noah FAST and Helium SL
  16. Movistar - Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 and Aeroad CF 9.0 Team
  17. NetApp-Endura - Fuji Transonic
  18. Omega Pharma-Quick Step - Tarmac, Venge and Roubaix SL4
  19. Orica – Greenedge - Scott Foil and Addict
  20. Sky - Pinarello Dogma F8
  21. Tinkoff-Saxo - Specialized Tarmac and Roubaix SL4
  22. Trek Factory Racing - Trek Émonda
   So we got 22 teams, and 19 brands represented. Thanks to for a very in depth article on each team and their bikes.

   Some bikes and teams of note:

Kemo Bikes KE-R8 5KS
  • The team Cofidis Look 695 Aero is a bad ass looking bike, with some color styling harking back to their roots: 
Look KG 171

2014 Tour de France 695
  • Team Lampre on the Meridas marks that bike manufacturers first foray into pro racing. Which is great since they're a huge company (for example, they own Specialized) About time they manned up and sponsored a team!
  • Worth mentioning that Cannondale's bikes are pretty off the shelf THAT'S RIGHT THEIR BIKES ARE THAT AWESOME
  • Nearly half the teams (10) are using Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifters. Neat to see this technology in the big races. 

   All very cool things from the top teams. Lastly, here's some awesome footage of what it's like to be in the pack at The Tour:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Making the Baby Cage less 'Prison-y'

   Calvin has been getting a lot of use out of the baby cage play are that we set up for him. I had thought it would be fun to incorporate some play things in it, and finally got around to setting one up: a little pipe to drop toys through. Here he is with the two pieces of the barrier taken apart:

Max supervising

   I started with some 4" black plastic pipe. The two angles I hat to cut were real weird. I held it up and kind of roughly drew a line where I should cut it.

Precise measuring

   After cutting it, I traced the shape onto the top of the wood and cut it out with a scroll saw:

Hole traces and pilot drilled

  Once I had everything in place, I used some pipe strap and a couple screws to hold the pipe in place. It worked well because by tightening the screws further in, it really snugged up the pipe.

All in place

   All that was left was for Calvin to try it out. It took him a bit to understand why toys were hitting his feet was happening because things fall through very fast. If I were going to redo it, I think I would angle the pipe so that they came out a bit to the side of the top hole. 

Physics at work

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday WTF: Why Seat Post Insertion Limits are Important

   Seat posts have these little marks on them to remind you not to pull your seat post out too far. They usually have a line, or an arrow or something clear. 

Minimum insertion line

   What is the danger, you ask? Well have a look here:




   These cracks are the result of the seat post not fully inserted in the frame. The real danger is not in noticing your frame is cracking, it is in the frame failing entirely:


   The results of this kind of failure are too graphic to put on this family friendly blog, so please mind your seat post insertion marks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tour de France Special: What is that Yellow Car?

   If you've been watching the Tour, you've been on the edge of your seat with crashes, victories, heartbreak and ... yellow cars?

I spy with my little eye something yellow

   What the heck is going on with all these cars anyway? Well, most are the support cars for each team. They have coaches, mechanics, food, EPO, tiny motors, the usual bike stuff. There is one special car though - the Rudolph of support cars: The Mavic Neutral Support car.

Mavic Saab

   The neutral support car is there for anyone and everyone. They provide wheels and even whole bikes for riders who have a problem and have become separated from their team car. This is especially important when several riders on a breakaway are far from the rest of the pack.
   In addition to the car, they often have a neutral support motorcycle carrying wheels. 

Motorcycle and car

   The set up on the motorcycles is pretty cool:

Wheel carriers

   For the loaner bikes, they usually use Cannondale CAAD10's, since they're pretty cheap and still can get the job done. They're marked same as the cars.

Mavic CAAD10

   And here is Jens Voigt on a junior bike, descending until he can get back on his regular bike.

   Please note the toe clips, and undersized frame. Is there anything this guy can't do? Read the full story of that adventure here

Monday, July 14, 2014

Winter park Race #3 Report

   Time for another race report! This weekend was the Race Rendezvous. This is a fun race that is not typical as it's shorter and has fewer long climbs than the most races. Here's the map of the race:

Race route in red

   The course was altered a bit form the planned map due to some really muddy areas. This was a bummer because I had planned out the distances again, and with the start moved, the measurements I had weren't any good.

My planned elevation

    The profile they gave us was pretty close to the one that Strava gave out though:

Race top, Strava below

   The race was good though, I finished 6 out of 8. The start was up a paved road, which was a little weird. We started out fast and in a line like a road ride, then kind of split up into two groups, then got back together, then everyone exploded when we got on the trail. Typical Mountain bikers - can't organize anything.
   The rest of the course was fast but slick. I was running Continental Race King tires. These are great for dry to tacky packed conditions, but not wet conditions.

Race King

   The smooth round profile didn't have enough bite for these conditions. I have some Specialized Ground Control tires I wish I'd put on for this race. Next time!

Ground Control

   I also went down once in a corner, and it took a surprising amount of time to shake my nerves. That cost me some time which was frustrating. Turns out I was about 30 sec behind the guy in front of me. Next race I will be working hard for that 30 seconds!

Muddy after race legs

   I also got this shot of my bike thinking if was going to enter it in a contest that turned out to be for road bikes only. Whatever.


   All in all, a good race. Onto watching the tour! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday WTF: Aero... unicycle?

   Just when you thought aero helmets and skin suits couldn't get any dorkier...

Rocking a big 36" wheel

Here's the set up with no rider:

   But beware, there are impostors out there, trying for some reason to look like they are on an aero unicycle...


   BUT WAIT!  Photoshop detected...

The truth comes out.

   You think someone would do that? Just go on the internet and lie? 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Man Versus Machine

   With the Tour underway, how about a post on the Alp d'Huez? Over on, they are answering the important questions: Who is faster coming down the Alp d'Huez, a motorcycle or a bicycle?

   The motorcycle rider,  Warren Pole, will be piloting a YZF-R1. The R1 is one of the fastest production bikes out there; 1000cc, 128 horsepower, 450 lbs

  The cyclist, Howie Sylvester can be found on a Serotta HSG Supercomp. Not what I would have chosen, but I'm guessing it was more important what Mr. Sylvester was comfortable on.

   Here are a couple comparison shots of each rider coming down.

Cornering skills

Leaning in!

Course facts:
  • 21 corners
  • Average gradient of 8.1%
  • Maximum gradient of 13%
  • 6,102 foot drop over 8.6 miles
  • R1: 10 minutes, 44 seconds
  • Serotta: 11 minutes, 12 seconds
   Well I guess that answers that! Within 30 seconds of each other, that's pretty close. You can read the  see more images form the article here. Since it was done by, I demand a version that was done by My other gripes include:
  • The high performance and specialized R1 should be racing a gravity bike
  • A road bike is more similar to a BMW GS and should have raced that
  • The motorcycle should have been limited to accelerating to the bike escape velocity (can't gas it after about 40 mph, must coast)
  • This competition was rigged
  • The motorcycle rider was doping
  • The cyclist was distracted
  • The promoters were paid off
  • Some other made up bullshit
  • etc
  • etc

   Whatever,, whatever.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tour de France 2014 Kicks Off

   The Tour de France started up Saturday, and that means two weeks of exciting bike racing! This year, we will see several fun and exciting rivalries. Here is who I'll be watching:

   The contenders for yellow are these guys (among others):

   Chris Froome won the Tour last year, and is Team Sky's best current rider. He's supported by a talented group of guys, including heavy lifter Richie Porte. He will also not have to worry about Wiggins stealing the spotlight, as he's not racing this year. 


   Contador has won the Tour two times, and is a fantastic climber. He's coming off a good season and ready to win back some favor after being stripped of his 2010 title. With many victories in major races, He's got the experience to be a threat to anyone looking at yellow. 


   Former Cannondale rider Vincenzo Nibali is also coming off a strong season, and will be giving the two above guys a run for the yellow. He also just won the Italian National championship, proving he's in good form for the Tour. 


   The Green jersey! These guys are the sprinters and are going to be fighting for points. 

   No conversation about sprinting would be complete without Mark Cavendish. The Manx missile has been a threat to win green every year. He has more wins than any other rider at 25 (!) and is ever hungry to more.*


*at the time of this writing, Cav is out of the tour with a separated shoulder due to a crash in Stage 1.

   Marcel Kittel is one of the first riders to challenge Cavendish in the sprint. He has been winning stages in all the major tours and will come to this one looking for more stage wins.


   What can be said about Cannondale's charismatic rider Peter Sagan? He's a sprinter who can climb, and a climber who can wheelie. He only won one stage last year, but dominated the green jersey on points. Team Cannondale is supporting him in the points effort this tour, so he should be out in front a lot.


Other exciting riders to watch. These guys may not be contenders for the jerseys, but promise to be worth watching:

   Ted King has a disappointing Tour last year, with a crash the stage before the team time trial causing him to come in after the limit. He is coming into this year's race hungry to prove he is the world class rider we all know he is.


   Jens Voigt is the man. With a breakaway lead and victory in stage 20 last year, he proved that he is not ready to be put out to pasture yet. Even if not a threat for the yellow jersey, he is always someone to watch for an exciting race.


   I'll keep updating the exciting events that unfold over the next two week until we crown another TdF winner!