Rode in It 12

D-Plus with lights and fenders

Back into the dreep, the grunge, the return of the Rainy Season. #rodeinit with the D-Plus.

beaded up

Water beaded up like drops off Natalie Portman’s shaved head, falling onto rotting leaves clogging drains

the port

A stormy port, hunkered down


While it rained a fear in Seattle, I shot video with an iPhone.

This Winter storm was a book end to the one earlier, in January. Rode in that one too and visibility was limited.

Plenty of Speed No Thought of Danger

Bicycle Safety

Having great fun, until the next page

From the Bicycle Safety Manual from 1969, as seen on Flickr

The Best and Worst Times at Steilacoom

What Tim said. After 8 weeks off, it was back to racing at Seattle CX on Sunday at Steilacoom. For me, the course was the best and worst of times. One barrier section was good for not stressing the ankle, but all the climbing tested the lost fitness. After the start, the pack sped away and I raced my own pace. A few laps later, on a fast descent, hairpin turn Tyler Farrar said, “on your left, bro.” I gave him and the racers on his wheel plenty of room, then rode to the finish a lap, or two down.

The legs ache this morning.

raced with tyler

On the runup Tyler said, “damn this is hard”

sticky, icky mud setuo

A grippy wedge to carve the muddy ruts

For the sticky mud and gravel sections, I set the D-Plus up with the Reynolds and Limus up front, Grifo in the rear at 28 PSI. That deep and stiff of a wheel with those tires is like a grippy wedge that carves through ruts.

After several intensely painful sessions with my PT Mike Rogers, for race day, he modified my right S-Works shoe to accommodate a still puffy ankle, cutting back the tongue. Instead of tape, I wore a maternity-strength compression sock. The ankle made itself known, but nothing I couldn’t race through. Next week, I’ll pin a number on my back again and work on getting some form back, but I’m not calling it a comeback.

Grandpa socks and modified shoes with orthotics, getting old sucks

Grandpa socks and modified shoes with orthotics, getting old sucks

Pro Tip: if the tongue slides to the left or right on your S-Works shoe, cut the tip of it back like this. This mod was to accommodate a swollen, puffy ankle, but also discovered it prevents tongue creep, a problem with S-Works shoes and the BOA system.

Mavic Doesn’t Give a Shit!

Those were my exact words I said while face to face with the Mavic Tech representative at the last Seattle Bike Expo. I could tell by the scowl on his face that the conversation was about to come off the rails, but I wasn’t trying to be antagonistic. I was merely stating the truth, which is that Mavic as a company doesn’t cater to anyone other than the racer or wannabe. Long gone are the days when Mavic shared in the French cyclotouriste tradition of sturdy yet light touring product. Sure the A719 is a great touring rim, double-eyelet with durable, long-wearing sidewalls, but they’ve got nothing between a 565gr rim like that and the 435gr Open Pro. The cycling market could do with a modern MA40 rim. But Mavic has already become convinced that the real money is selling complete wheel “systems” and accessories. Still, though they practically invented the market for wheel systems, Mavic has a penchant for ignoring the direction of the cycling market.

The exact sticking point I had is that while much revered Ksyrium series of wheels had been a great seller for my company, I really wished that Mavic would either sell a separate, conventional hub (like a 32H or 36H) or a wheel system that I could sell to sport-tourers or clydesdale-category cyclists. I said that if such a wheelset existed from Mavic, I could easily sell it at the $1000 price point. His response was, “Why don’t you just sell them Ksyrium SLs?”

Really, mate? Listen, I admit that Ksyrium SL wheelsets, with their “Zircalloy” aluminium spokes, don’t fail at nearly the rate that they did in the early generations, but nobody trusts 18-20 alloy spokes as much as 32-36 stainless steel spokes per wheel when long distance touring. In many environments, the alloy nipples will seize to the alloy spoke and rims within a couple seasons. The Ksyrium rims are too narrow to ideally mount tires bigger than 28-32mm. I also said that the discontinuation of ceramic coated rims in the Open Pro class and touring rim class wasn’t going to be filled by wheel systems using Exalith surface treatment…if those wheel systems cost $2000 or more. Mavic wants you to believe that their Ksyrium “multi-purpose” wheel systems can be all things to all riders, and that is just not so. I could see it was a lost cause to jam any feedback up the command chain, but for the 2013 model year Mavic attempts to force product managers and consumers to eat an even less palatable marketing ploy: tyres.

Mavic Yksion Pro PowerLink

Syntace Flatforce Stem: Maximum Slammage!!

Handlebar height. Whether it’s road or mtb, there’s been a trend to raise the bar. Trek, Giant, and Specialized all have “gran fondo” or “classics” styled road bikes that tack on 15-20mm of headtube to their edgier full race models. Offroad, riser bars are more or less the standard. Don’t even get me started on Rivendell. Well, that’s all swell, especially for taller riders, but what about people who honestly prefer a lower hand position? What about shorter riders?

As a shorter rider, if I want my bars even a little lower than my saddle I’m forced to pull out so many tricks that I should get a special mention on SLAM THAT STEM. I’m 160cm tall, and position my saddle 63-64cm center to top of the saddle. My Giant TCR road bike has a 120mm headtube in an XS size. I had to use a -17deg stem and custom cobble together the top headset pieces in order to get my bar near to my preferred height. The Giant Defy road frame has a 135mm headtube in my size. REJECTED!

As for mtb, on my old 1999 Fisher Ziggarat the bar was about the same height as my saddle with a slight negative stem. But when I decide to jump back into mtb, I’ll probably go 29er. So a 29er front wheel is 70mm taller right of the bat, but then forks generally have 20-50mm more travel than 10years ago, even for xc use. That is way higher than I can tolerate; I feel like I’m pushing a shopping trolley. But slowly the industry is starting to respond.

Syntace of Germany is introducing a stem specifically for 29er use. The Flatforce stem has a low clamp stack of just 25mm, compared to typical high-end stems that have 40mm of stack. The Flatforce seems especially low when you compare it to the cheesy low end 25deg-up stems that I’d have to flip-upside down to get a similar drop; it is not uncommon for those stems to have 50mm of stack. The Flatforce actually has a neg 17deg angle, which is a vast aesthetic improvement over a super negative drop stem on an mtb. The Flatforce lowers the bar an additional 12mm by offsetting the handlebar clamp relative to the centerline of the stem’s extension. Using a little trigonometry, I calculate that a 77mm Flatforce stem would be 35mm lower than the standard +/-8deg stem run in the low postion, 20mm lower than a -17deg stem, and 9mm lower than even the shortest stack 25deg stem pointed down. This stem plus either a Stumpjumper 29er or XTC Advanced 29er (both with 90mm headtubes in the smallest sizes) means that I can just about drop the bar down to my saddle height.

The unusual dimensions make the Flatforce stem neither heavy nor weak. The stem is designed for use with handlebars up to 800mm in width yet weighs just 124gr in the 77mm size.

The Syntace Flatforce stem should be available right before the new year and retail for about US$105. Initially only the 44, 55, 66, and 77mm sizes will be available, but longer stems (up to 111mm) are projected later in 2013. I’m thinking of putting a 99mm length on my CX bike so that the position will mimic my road bikes for road training.

Syntace Flatforce Stem 02

Syntace Flatforce Stem

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