I took the bus to Byron’s house last week. It’s pretty convenient from downtown, but there’s a 4 block slog up-hill to get to his house. Knowing I’m lazy when it comes to walking, he offered to pick me up…on the Bettie! I really like the idea of the Sport Utility Bike as it relates to running to the store and hauling stuff, but I just didn’t expect it to act as a lazy-man’s taxi. Bettie with the Stokemonkey had no problems griding up the steep hills. Sure, Byron was hoofing it pretty good in his Flip-Flops, but we made it. Even with cautious estimates it was probably 450+lb going up those grades. Way cool. What do you use your SUB for?
Emailed from Matt in Tacoma, WA - The “Monkey Bus”:
Emailed from Seabiscuit - hauling daughter’s bike to the park:
8pm Monday: the 16th edition of PBP leaves Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. I went for a brisk 8 mile walking tour of Paris in the morning, then went back to the hotel and got four hours of sleep. I caught the train to St Quentin and joined a huge crowd of cyclists at the start area. As 8 oclock approached, the excitement of the crowd grew, and at 8 a cannon was fired and the ride was on. If you’ve managed to make it this far in my narrative, you won’t be surprised to find out that there was a little snafu.
The speeches wind down, the cannon fires, and the crowd I was in didn’t move. Not even an inch. Though I knew that the 8 oclock group would go in a couple of waves, so as not to crowd the roads, I expected some forward motion. There was none. It turned out that I was standing in the 90 hour group, which was not scheduled to leave for a couple hours.
With some panic I pulled the old salmon routine and made my way backwards through the crowd at the start line, which was the third and final wave of my group. I managed to make it backward, turn around, get back through bike check, get my control card stamped and get back into the group with enough time for my heart rate to get back to a normal range before we started.
Next thing, the cannon fired and off we went.
It was awesome. Our pack was probably 300 people, the intersections were controlled for miles and we literally rolled into the sunset. Finally I was riding through France. With people who knew where they were going.
We passed fields of sunflowers. We ripped through little towns with skinny streets that would barely qualify as alleys back home. Luckily I was in the front of our grupetto, because more than once I heard bikes sliding across the ground behind as we passed over traffic circles.
After 20 miles it was getting fairly dim, and of course I got a flat. It was no problem fixing it, but my grupetto was long gone, and three others had passed while I pumped up my tire. The prospect of going solo for the next 2-300k until fast riders from the 90 hour group caught me was not enchanting, to say the least. I mounted up and started picking off single riders in front of me, but couldn’t get a group together. until…
Italians! God bless em! I had steeled myself to a long solo stretch when a group of three Italians overtook me. I hopped on, and 37 miles later we rode ourselves into a pack of about 100 riders “ I swear I was riding with most of the Italian contingent “ Â¾ of them had matching Randonneur Italia kit. I was finally able to put my early ride strategy to work and promptly sat in. The remainder of the night was great. We rolled along at a decent pace, and in the distance I could see the lights of a couple other groups just like ours. Until at least 2AM there were regular groups of villagers standing in front of their houses or the local bars just cheering us on. And there truly is nothing like rolling through a little town at 3 in the morning and having your riding mates bust out into song in Italian. I have no idea what they were singing about, but god was it cool!
In a poorly-written and argued editorial for the Seattle PI, Dean Trier, takes on Cascade and I presume the Stone Way issue. He rants on about several other topics and it’s not entirely clear what his problem is with cyclists, other than I think he just likes cars better, and claims that Seattle has biker-pampered city streets. Maybe he’s a Ken Schram wanna be, but uhm (long pause), I challenge anyone that thinks Seattle cyclists are pampered to join me for a ride down Alaskan Way.
Have a read for yourself and leave it to the PI to drum up web traffic with an article about cycling and then, of course, a Soundoff.
Is it satire? Maybe, but if it was, it wasn’t constructed well enough to be comedic.
“It’s a different bike,” I’ve been telling people asking about the new Madone … “as great a change as the redesign from the 5500 to the Madone SLs. Andrew wrote a full review over the weekend and we had a similar response.
To me, the bike is the stiffest ever from Trek. It climbs and descends like the old Madone, but corners different with much more road feel and acceleration. That’s because of the sloping geometry and this bike does slope.
Brevets completed, notes signed, 80 hr group chosen, children shuttled off to relatives, my wife and I head to Paris. The fun started even before we boarded the first plane.
A few years ago my friend (and frame supplier) Paul Wyganowski had converted my all time favorite frame to a travel edition with S&S couplers. I had gone to Hawaii to work at the Ironman a few times, and getting a bike over was always an excercise. One year I borrowed a giant golf bag, the travel kind that you put your sticks in to go on the plane. I managed to just squeeze in a 650 wheeled bike, but the padding was minimal, and I worried about the frame getting wrecked. With a coupled bike travel was much much easier…
but so far I had been flying my bike in a cardboard box. Nothing bad had happened but I needed a real case if I was going to be dragging a bike around Europe. I made an aluminum and plywood case - a real one with wheels and latches, and the bike just fit in. Great so far.
We go to the Minneapolis airport to leave and hit a snag. Of course the ticket agent asks “what is in the box?”. I’m prepared for this and she is satisfied with my explanation of “excercise equipment”. Everybody takes a big box of workout gear on vacation to France, right?
The snag is that the box goes 53 lbs, and there is a 50 lb limit after which the $50 surcharge kicks in. The agent kindly asks if there is anything I can take out, since it is only 3 lbs, but I’m not interested in cracking the box open on the floor of the terminal and rooting around for 3 pounds of crap to lighten the box. It took me over an hour to get everything squeezed in. The bike alone would have been cake, but add a front and rear rack, clothes, shoes, bottles, bags…
I fork over my credit card and vacation begins. Next stop, Paris (chicago doesn’t count).
We land at Paris, I immediately I realize what it’s going to be like dragging a 50lb box around the trains and subways. The box keeps steering to the right so I have to give it a jerk every few feet to hold my line. Oh, and the Paris metro has precious few escalators. I’m mostly hoofing this thing up and down stairs. We find our hotel, and I I can even fit into the laughably small elevator, though with my backpack on I have to back into it and lean further back to close the door.
We sightsee in Paris for three days, and average, according to my wife’s pedometer, 15 miles a day on foot. There is a packet pickup the day before the ride starts and I set off in the rain through the Paris suburbs to St Quentin, where the ride starts. As far as I can tell there is not a single straight road in the SW suburbs of Paris, and I only saw 4 intersections where 2 roads cross at a 90 degree angle. Even though it is raining, I am on my bike, riding along the Seine toward Versailles.
Or maybe I am totally lost. The map that I printed from mapquest before I left is completely inadequate. What I really want is one of those Michelin maps that doubles as a tent if you need it to. I’m riding along wondering where in the hell I should turn, and look up to see another cyclist in a bus shelter, studying a map. Nobody else is out this early on Sunday morning, so I wheel up. He asks my something in French, which does not mean a thing to me (I know a tiny bit of German and French, more Spanish, and took 2 years of Latin in high school).
It turns out my savior is from California, and is much more prepared than me. First, he knows more french. Second, he printed the map and directions. We manage to make it to Versailles with only a few wrong turns, and as we roll along more and more cyclists join up. Soon I am in a pack of 30 or so and I really hope somebody knows where we’re going. Somebody does and we get to the sports complex where the ride will start the next evening. There are bikes everywhere, packet pick-up is a breeze, I even get a free waterbottle. The rain
quits and I manage to make it straight back to the hotel.
The regional Trek rep got Byron a new Madone hooked up with some Aeolus 5.0 wheels for an extended test ride prior to the Ride the Best tour which stops tomorrow at St. Edwards Park in Kenmore, WA. I went to pick it up yesterday for a little test ride to take it through the paces. Short verion: It’s a nice a stiff bike (which I like) in a rather impressive package. The bike looks as cool in person as it does on the flashy website.
– UPDATE - Disregard all that fit stuff about the 58 if you read it previously. The 60 fits great and made all the difference. –
The 110 stem on there was too short for me. Combine that with the tall headtube and spacers they had set up and I was too high on the bars to mimic my normal position. What was interesting to hear when talking to Dax was that you could actually pull out over an inch of spacers (including the cone spacer) to get a lower position. Match that with my 130 stem and I’m sure I’d be back to where I’m comfortable. Talking with Byron, he said the sensation of the lower top tube took some getting used to, but I really didn’t notice it. What’s nice is that they actually offer a huge array of sizes. They even got a guy who was 6’5” on the 62cm frame pretty comfortably, and this year they extend the range to the Power Forward size of 64cm!
I really like the look of the new bike. I’m not a huge sloping top-tube guy, but this one looks rather nice. It’s the “Performance Fit” which means it’s a little more “recreational” a geometry and I think actually will result in a little more slope than the Pro Fit bikes will have. The deep wheels make any frame look cool, and the black spokes and hub make for a nice sleath overall look.
– UPDATE - Today I swapped back and forth between bikes and confirmed the stoutness of the new Madone. I think the 1.5” bottom headset diameter helps sure up the front end, but that BB gives everything back for your efforts –
The bottom bracket does feel more solid than my 2007 Madone. I’m sure that has something to do with the 90mm BB shell. The front end is really quite solid and feels stable swooping through a corner. This was a little surprising because I expected to comprimise cornering with the new sloping design. Climbing out of the saddle it was really solid - no sense of wasted energy. When I wound it up to sprint, again the stout BB was noticeable and it felt good putting down some Watts.
The Aeolus wheels aren’t for me, but they got a lot of comments at the test ride today. They are beautiful, and I think that once they are up to speed - they roll real nice, but they don’t suit riders like me. I think they are great for guys who spend the day riding solo, or in a nice even paceline, but for me if I’m not accelerating, I’m probably slowing down. The clinchers rode fine, and for someone interested in long-distance events where they keep a good hard pace I think they are probably perfect. When I sprinted on them they just seemed a little slower than my carbon tubulars. I think they are “Rouleur” (think Jens Voigt) wheels.
Apart from the stock stem being short, the Bontrager stuff is nice. I was happy with the saddle which sort of surprised me. The seat mast was pretty easy to adjust and as a nice side-feature - your saddle is always straight. The fork/frame integration is visually stunning and the carbon headset spacers finish the clean look. The bike was outfitted with Ultegra SL with a compact crank. I’m not much for a compact crank, but if you gave me the Pepsi challenge on Ultegra vs. Dura Ace these days - I’d fail every time. The Ultegra stuff (and even the 105) is just great.
– UPDATE – I think the bike is a step above the 2007 Madone offering. I think that if it’s trimmed out with light wheels/components you could make a 15lb race-ready rig pretty easy.