Monday, September 15, 2014

Interbike 2014: The Hard Eddie

The Hard Eddie, a hardtail 29er by the folks at Intense in Temecula, California. Intense categorizes their Hard Eddie as a light trail bike built for cross country speed and lightness. I don't think there is any question it would be perfect for the trails I ride around home. Intense offers it in three builds, and I believe the one they were showing at Interbike was the Pro build, with SRAM drivetrain and Shimano XT braking. I would still prefer more than a 1x, but that is the direction the industry is moving right now, and that is what this one happened to be built with.

This review, as with all the reviews from Interbike 2014, is as honest as I can make it. I have received no payment, nor any promise of remuneration for my opinions and observations regarding the product being reviewed.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Interbike 2014: New Fat - 11 Nine

It hasn't taken very long, a few years by my estimation, to see a complete progression in the fat bike market. Once the earliest experiments moved onto standardized frames and fat-specific components the pace quickened. Fully rigid bikes one year, gave way to front suspension the next, which in turn became fully-suspended ones. Though still largely viewed as an adventure bike, fatties also became everyday recreational rides. Some folks even raced them. 

This year marked, what is believed to be, the world's first downhill-specific fatty.

11 Nine offers four fat bike models - the Epicyon, Simus, DireWolf, Hemicyon - each distinguished by their system of suspension, color, and build material - for instance the DireWolf model is only available in titanium. The young company has been putting all their effort into product development and perfecting their offerings. As a result their website is not yet ready (I was assured it would be sometime soon after Interbike), however you can follow along via their Facebook page, and when the site is ready I am sure it will be announced there. If you are lucky enough to live in Southern Nevada don't be surprised to find them demo'ing at your local trail some weekend. Now that would be cool.

This review, as with all the reviews from Interbike 2014, is as honest as I can make it. I have received no payment, nor any promise of remuneration for my opinions and observations regarding the product being reviewed.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 Turn and Burn Six-Hour MTB Race

and with one photo i could have saved so many words. says it all.

Once again, the organizers (Cycle Events Company) of the annual Turn and Burn race succeeded in selecting one of the most ungodly, uncomfortable, unforgiving days of the year to hold a mountain bike race. The day's temperature was predicted to stretch beyond the century mark, as in 100º Fahrenheit. I had thought the fire in Cleveland National Forest might cause some air quality problems, but whatever currents were swirling through the great blue yonder were moving the smoke in a direction away from Bonelli Park. 

Instead of smoke, riders had to contend with the lung choking dust that Southern California's hillsides often cough up this time of year. The water coolers were both popular and a necessity for riders, whether they raced as a team or solo. Unfortunately they frequently were not enough to stave off the onset of cramping leg muscles. Throw in those steep hills that characterize the Bonelli landscape and riders were faced with the very real potential of being turned into buzzard bait, face down in some lonely backside draw or hollow.

Riders who enter the Turn and Burn Six Hour race can do so as a solo rider, or as part of a team, teams with names like Blazing Jack Rabbits, Dumb and Dumber, FatSnails, White & Brown Sugar, Team Fart Bags, B.A.D. Goats, and 2 Big Fat Dicks - the announcer couldn't convince himself to say that last one, and I can only hope it referred to a couple guys named Richard. Most people raced geared though, as ever, there were some brave, or foolish, souls who raced single speed. Either way, solo or teamed, single or geared, you would probably have ended this day scorched and burned. The difference, of course, was if you entered as a team you could share that scorching and burning, trade off lap by lap, rather than suffer it all on your own.

As the day wore on and the sun rose higher, racers seemed to retreat into themselves a little more each lap, a survival mechanism. While the descents were a welcome relief, they were all too short, and inevitably were followed by another grueling climb. Maybe it was the mutual suffering, maybe it was the spirit of the sport, but no matter how hot and tired they may have been, riders found the ability to joke; they did so in the team area, at a hilltop water station, along a dirt road section of the course where they could ride side by side for a moment before turning into another single-track descent. They may have been competitors, but they were competing together, through the sweat and sunburn, through the leg cramps, through the questioning of their own wisdom - a camaraderie in every sense of the word.

I finished with four hundred fifty-five photos from the day; from those I selected one hundred five for the Flickr album, which you can access by clicking here. Don't see what you are looking for? Let me know.

fast turn

full speed

a blur

throwing a little water into the background lowers the temperature by ten degrees

up on the hills

talk around the water cooler

duel at diablo

she has her own socks (if you know who this is, you might know what i mean)

steaming along

Shaka, brah - hang loose

first photo of the day. funny how a total mistake can end up as one of the most interesting

Interbike 2014: Dario Pegoretti

If it says:

There is a very good chance it is:

Handmade, painted, and sooooo good looking. Signore Pegoretti was showing multiple frames and complete bikes at the show and, as expected, there was plenty of oohing and aaahing from the assembled faithful. Mouths were salivating as people beheld the beauty before them. If I am not mistaken some of that drool splattered off the floor and onto my leg as I stood in close to take that top photo. Pretty gross, in contrast to the bikes, but totally expected. At some point during the mid-week festivities, everyone seeks out the Pegoretti space.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Geared Up for Advocacy: Portal Bikes

As you may recall from previous years' write-ups from Interbike, I always make an effort to visit with the advocacy and philanthropic groups - those who use the bicycle to improve the lives of others. A relatively new organization I discovered this year is Portal Bikes.

Organizations have used the humble bicycle to empower people in all corners of the world. Best known, perhaps, have been the efforts taking place in Africa. Others operate in Eastern Europe and Asia. Portal bikes is one of the latter, focusing specifically on the country of Nepal. Portal bikes are used to create opportunity and combat poverty. They are used for the transportation of people and goods, as you might expect, but they go a step further with the addition of a rotating shaft built into the rear of the elongated cargo frame. This shaft, what they call a bicycle Power Take Off (PTO) provides a connection point for various machinery, and has been used to pump water, grind grain, generate electricity, and even wash clothes. The application potential goes even wider; if a machine has rotating parts, it can likely be connected to the PTO.

Portal Bikes are manufactured in Nepal and used by the Nepalese people in their everyday lives, providing real change for individuals and their communities. For more information, check the Portal Bikes website, and like their Facebook page. If you are able, consider a contribution to their mission and efforts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Interbike 2014: Cogma Bikewear

More and more we are seeing cycling clothing created for a more casual look. Not that you can't take a series ride while wearing it, but lets go ahead and call it casual wear anyway. Even larger companies, those who have made a name at the sport-oriented side of cycling are getting in on this bandwagon. This is a market that has encouraged many smaller start-ups to join the fray (no pun intended). One of those newer companies making stuff you could wear both on and off the bike is Cogma Bikewear, out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. 

Lets say you are going to bike night at the local art museum or, better yet, lets say it is not bike night, but there is an opening and you want to ride on over. A perfect choice for you to pull out of the closet would be a Cogma outfit. The museum is just far enough that you don't want to wear stuff you will get all sweaty in, but you also don't want to wear your cycling kit. You will already be click-clacking along the concrete floors, and bright kit will draw even more attention to you. People may think you are some kind of exhibit. Cogma Bikewear would do nicely for the ride over, and then for walking the galleries, viewing the masterpieces. 

The Ladies' miniskirt, "rawr, rawr" is sexy. Guaranteed to draw attention. For modesty, it does pair with a sleek short. The skirt is either pleated, or comes with a slit so that it is not constricting while in the saddle. Ladies' tops come with pockets. Mens' button-up shirts came with hidden, zippered pockets at the sides. The material used is light, breathable, and quick-drying. There is also a certain amount of stretch to it, and the cut is such that the shirts won't constrict movement when hunched over the bars. Speaking of bars, there are a couple craft breweries nearby that would make for an outstanding destination while wearing one of Cogma's shirt/jerseys. While the look may say casual, there is no reason at all you couldn't wear one of these outfits weaving along the local dirt trail, or huffing and puffing up that climb just out of town.

I hope some of the dealers made it around to the Cogma booth, they were rather out of the way, which was unfortunate because they, like their clothing, deserves to be seen. Check out the Cogma Bikewear website, but keep in mind that the 2015 line is not yet up. While you are at it, go ahead and like them on Facebook as well.

This review, as with all the reviews from Interbike 2014, is as honest as I can make it. I have received no payment, nor any promise of remuneration for my opinions and observations regarding the product being reviewed.

Side pocket of the mens' jersey. Red on the inside only shows when unzipped.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Go Dorothy!

Look who it is. SoCalCross's very own, representing The Team, at Cross Vegas during the "wheelers and dealers" race. You know the Southern California cyclocross season is not far away now.

More Cross Vegas (and all the Interbike stuff) over the next few days, weeks, who knows for sure.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Life Expectancy

I could tell you the life expectancy of a typical American, man or woman. I could do the same for a typical Norwegian. I could tell you the life expectancy of a typical Blackfoot man of 1890s Montana, and do the same for a typical peasant of Medieval England. I could tell you the life expectancy of the typical male or female of a nomadic European Neanderthal. If i couldn't tell you those life spans i could, at the least, dig up the information quite quickly and easily. 

What is a little more problematic is finding the life spans of different makes, models and materials of handlebars, crank arms, bolts, forks, wheels and hubs, even frames. 

Of course, even if i did know how long a certain component should last, i am not sure that, by itself, would be enough to convince me to run out and buy a replacement. I don't replace old components very frequently and have never had a significant failure (knock, knock, i rap on the desk). Things are usually replaced before they reach the point of failure. The ever-evolving world of bicycling means that we often want the latest best of anything, or everything. Those things that will help us go faster, or move with greater comfort and efficiency. The strategy may keep our bank accounts low, but it also serves as a hedge against the potential of failure. I have been on rides, and in races, where handlebars have snapped in half, when brake cables and chains have snapped, and seat post bolts given way. I don't know if those things were new and flukes, or past their primes and ready to go.

I do keep fairly close tabs on my bike's tires, pay attention to warning signs such as creaks and squeaks and, when i do get around to maintenance and cleaning, i keep a look out for cracks and unusual wear. Never-the-less some of the parts on my bikes are getting up there in years, and I wonder what flaw might exist hidden from normal view. I wonder how many more pushes and pulls a given handlebar has left, when the next torque of a bolt will be the one too many. Not all the components going onto my most recent build are new, some are used, but how used? And even if they are new, that does not guarantee a long life lies in front of them.

None of this is to say that I think, or fret, about the life span of parts all the time; I doubt a person could ride with that hanging over their head, wondering when some bit of thin metal was going to give up the ghost.

Life expectancy - just one of the things I will be contemplating for a couple days out in Las Vegas this week during Interbike. 
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