Mark V, Di2, and Rebecca’s Private Idaho

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by Mark V on Sep 01, 2014 at 6:57 PM

The second edition of Rebecca Rusch’s Private Idaho 100-mile gravel grinder began on a crisp 40 degree morning at the very end of August. Normally I despise the cold, but on this day the slight gnawing from the cold gave me a little confidence…confidence that my electronic shifting system might work when I needed it most. Unfortunately, confidence based on fact and that which is based on superstition can be easily confused.

Though I recently designed a gravel grinder/CX frame that Davidson Bicycles fabricated out of titanium, I chose to take advantage of Specialized’s “‘Test the Best” program to demo one of their premium production bikes. Though I have been assembling custom Davidsons with Di2, I have relatively little riding time on it. This is partially because I usually can only fit the smallest size frames, but Specialized brought two Crux with Di2/hydraulic disc in the 46cm size. How could I resist? ….especially since I could avoid the hassle of airline travel with my (non-S&S) gravel bike.

Unfortunately, my red Crux had some sort of digital gremlin in the left lever. I didn’t notice the problem when I first picked up the bike on Friday because I arrived just at the end of the pick-up session and needed to find my room for the night (which is kinda a funny story on its own). The left shifter had seemingly no effect on the front derailleur. When I went back the next day’s pick up session, Dane the mechanic and I couldn’t find anything definitively wrong with the system, but now the front derailleur seemed to shift if I spastically pushed the buttons again and again. I began to wonder if there was some sort of sequence that I had inadvertently discovered…something like a video game special move involving button combinations and rhythms. Curses! If only had spent more of my youth playing Street Fighter for Nintendo!

With Shimano’s diagnostic tool, all the shifters and derailleurs were showing with no problems, but even after we updated the firmware (which is roughly equivalent to rebooting your PC), there was no change. So I figured I’d chance it, thinking that I’d really only need to shift the front a few times if I was lucky. We had already tried all reasonable fixes; if this were a shop situation, there would be nothing left but sending the derailleur and/or lever back to Shimano, but I wanted to do the grinder on Sunday morning. That night as I rode about town searching for my pre-race Chinese dinner, the front shifter became inexplicably obedient. I could only guess that it was temperature related, as the night in Sun Valley was nippy. Perhaps the Private Idaho grinder would be cold enough that I could have faith in my front derailleur…

In the end, the front derailleur locked out in the big ring, but I had a pedal/cleat failure that had already convinced me to abandon the full 100mile route in favour of the 50mile version.

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Under the Bridge Sometime

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by Byron on Sep 01, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Under the Bridge

Spokane street, heading to West Seattle

Monkey light lit up Spokane Street, under the West Seattle Bridge. Hadn’t notice the scene pop like that before and ridden there hundreds of times…got the shot with the Sony A7R.

We’re off today and hope you’re enjoying the holiday as well. Get a good ride in.

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Mark Finds His Idaho with Broken Cleats and Di2

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by Byron on Aug 31, 2014 at 11:45 AM

mark v

Pacing and wondering how Mark V was doing at Reba’s ride, my phone buzzed just with these texts…

Apparently some Di2 shifters are temperature sensitive, or at least my front derailer won’t shift in anything over 60deg.

It was fuck all cold, 39deg this morning

And then!

Fuck broken cleats and electronic shifting, ol’ Gunsmoke here don’t need carbon fiber neither.

As I learned, you quickly find an Idaho you didn’t know on forest service roads. For me it was a smokey-haze, that had me running like my motor was plate restricted. For Mark, cleats and Di2 failed, and his ride ended early.

This after he got his required Chinese food!

Chinese food

Mark V Chinaloads before a race

Now he’s recuperating somewhere with a story to follow…

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Stretching Tubulars

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by Byron on Aug 30, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Hutch stretched

Hutchison Mamba being stretched

Spent a rainy, holiday weekend morning stretching tubulars. It was like wax on and wax off. First the stretched Hutch tire was moved to a new set of ENVEs we’re demoing, and another tire put on the stretching rim. It’s these routines, that lead to September, when kids go back to school, road season ends, and CX begins.

It’s a return to what we know, which is a return to things we have grown to love and trust.

Hutch CX

Mamba on an ENVE rim

Like the barrier drills practiced in a school yard, stretching a tubular is a return to a structure that gives room to practice, and learn and grow.

Back to bike school is the theme of Issue 16 of our magazine and we’re working on that now.

ENVE XC 29

Getting glued next

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If Bikes Are Transportation, Protect Us

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by Byron on Aug 30, 2014 at 7:19 AM

Ours is a click-based economy, that values the comment and traffic, no matter the content or context. I asked and they responded and hoping other media does too. I was told once by a journalist that there’s not enough staff to moderate, so hey turn the comments off on topics like this…

That active thread isn’t going to save an old-media business model.

This time is for family, friends, and colleagues to grieve over the loss of life on a Seattle street that seemed built by Seattle’s traffic-engineering experiment committee. It ran a bike lane where cars turn left onto i5.

When advocates and lobbyists tell us, “bikes are transportation,” I encourage you like me to ask them to put money where their mouths are, and build infrastructure that’ll better protect vulnerable users.

For more discussion about 2nd avenue, follow SeaBikeBlog and be careful out there. Seattle isn’t the ‘bike town,’ politicians say it is.

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Mark V to Meet the Queen of Pain

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by Byron on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Hazy brown moonscape

Idaho-type gravel

And if you read Mark’s last gravel report from Issue 13, if you doesn’t find proper Chinese food, it’s gonna be a long day. Before accepting the challenge to ride in an Idaho you don’t know, we checked!

I have this thing for eating Chinese food the night before big cycling events. Not crap Chinese food that you find at Panda Express-wannabees in mall food courts, but also not totally authentic Chinese either. I know both well, having been a mall rat until I left small town Florida for school and having traveled Asia extensively as an adult. What in America typically passes as Chinese is just so much deep-fried chicken nuggets in disgusting sweet n’ sour sauce, while true Chinese cuisine never has the right balance of meat and vegetables unless you order enough items to fill a banquet table. I just want some tender beef or chicken in brown sauce over a bunch of stir-fried veggies and a side of steamed rice.

Mark will be out of cell range for most of Reba’s ride and I’ll be wondering how he did, if anyone saw him on the climb

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The Future of Helmets

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by Mark V on Aug 28, 2014 at 12:23 AM

2015 could be the Year of the Helmet.

In the past two decades since in-mould hardshell construction has become commonplace in helmets like the Giro Hammerhead, the only other design feature to have a comparable influence on helmet construction has been the RocLoc strap, an auxiliary support that snugs under the wearer’s occipital bone. The RocLoc, largely copied by all the major brands, greatly increased the range of head sizes and shapes that could be adequately worn by a single helmet mould. But on a high-end helmet costing more than $200, a fit that is just adequate isn’t enough. It’s not a problem that can be solved by adding more sizes of moulds, because the shape of each mould must be based on an assumption of what a normal head shape is. If you’ve ever tried on a bunch of helmet brands, you’ve doubtlessly noticed that the various brands each have a slightly different idea what the average cranium is shaped like, and obviously not all riders would be represented by a normalized shape.

The solution is to manufacture the helmet precisely for each individual rider. A rider would be precisely fitted for a helmet within seconds with laser precision, and that information stored in a digital format that is later used to accurately modify a foam helmet liner during the manufacturing process to fit a rider’s head (imagine something akin to CNC machining). This would avoid the cost of additional moulds, but since the fitting would be stored as digital information, it could be easily reproduced if a rider should need to replace the helmet in the future. It could even be applied to different types of helmets (think maybe full-face downhill and aero-road helmet).

From a manufacturing and marketing viewpoint, this would have been impossible twenty years ago, but this is already happening now…in motorsports division of Bell helmets. By the end of 2015, Bell and/or its sister company Giro will be offering this for their high-end road helmets.

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Pivot CX with the Vault

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by Byron on Aug 26, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Pivot in the Trees

Pivot this bike in the trees

I had only a few short rides on the Vault before Pivot needed it back for their demo fleet. During those rides, what I noticed was a bike that would do most anything, and go anywhere. Glance down at the tubes and they look overbuilt, thick. The frame is designed for stiffness and durability. The spec didn’t bring out the best in the bike. It was like going to a gourmet burger joint and on the table is Heinz ketchup and mustard when you’re expecting a chipotle aioli. Pivot is smart though, they built the Vault up practically, and at a reasonable $3,599 MSRP. I’d liven up the ride by swapping out parts from the stock FSA kit with Stan’s wheels. Put those on the “B” bike.

What attracted me to Pivot, a MTB brand, for CX is the work they’ve done with MTBs. If you’ve been following my return to the mountain, I’ve been on many high-end bikes, including their all-new Mach 4. I rode the Mach 4 at PressCamp 14, and noted the details.

Di2 Battery

Ready for Di2

The frame design anticipated Di2 with thoughtful cable routing, and battery insert. You’ll find the same thoughtfulness on the Vault, as seen here with the in-stay brake placement.

TRPs

Spec’d with TRPs

To the TRPs, they’re much better than mechanicals, and have never been recalled! If I had more time with the Vault, I’m sure I’d discover the nuances in handling. What it does bombing down a gravel hill, or dropping into a mud pit, and out the other side.

For now, it’s a recommend bike, and really one that’s distinctive, like all of Pivot’s dirt bikes. I was sad to see it go so soon.

More photos of the Vault are on G+ and Instagram.

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TL;DR

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by Byron on Aug 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM

TLDR

Too Long; Didn’t Ride or Too Short Didn’t, Ride

I was explaining micropublishing to writer and colleague David Quigg and finally said, “Here, TL;DR,” with this blockquote

Oh, right, our role: we are carving out a new, deeper niche for Bike Hugger. Our goal is to serve the under-served audience, one that seeks higher quality information and wants to be free of advertiser and retail bias. We write about what we ride, wear, and like. And we expect you to pay for the service.

from a Medium post I wrote about our magazine. Being the very literal person he is, got this reply and drawing…

TL;DR made me think of “Too Long; Didn’t Ride™,” which could either be the basis for A) an app featuring short but great crowd-sourced cycling routes for busy people or B) a T-shirt for long-distance cyclists (see attached terrible sketch).

That terrible sketch may lead to a new startup!

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