Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Blues, and Greens, Yellows, Browns...

There is a new mural going in at the Pitzer campus, and a massive one at that. Can't wait to see it without the scaffolding in the way. Sometimes when I ride by the artist (Paul Santoleri) is busy at work; the most recent time (two days ago) his bike was there, but no sign of him. Even with the scaffolding in the way, you can see there is a lot going on. I think what we need to do is a mural ride, something slow paced, with stops at a selection of the murals around town and at the Colleges; maybe (no, definitely) have an art historian with us to give a short talk about each one.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 SoCal Cross Season Kickoff at DTLA: Day of the Heckler

So, the 2013-14 Southern California cyclocross season got underway today on the edge of downtown Los Angeles. It was warm, bordering on hot, it was dry, it was dusty, the hecklers were out of control, bikes were falling apart, but through it all, the racers were ready and willing. The Los Angeles State Historic Park does not offer much, if any, relief for racers or spectators. The topography may be naturally unchallenging, but all that mulch that get laid atop that endless expanse of dirt, makes virtually every twist and turn a potential wipeout waiting to happen. The dust cloud that rises with each passing clutch of racers will, no doubt, be coughed out of hundreds of sets of lungs for days to come. It was so dusty that dust devils did not need a breeze to form, the passing of as few as six wheels was enough to give rise to them. It was so dusty that tires simply fell off rims; I kid you not, more than one racer clattered past on a naked rim. It was so dusty that racers were stopping every other lap for a new coat of chain lube; those who didn't suffered grievous wear, and mechanical failure. It was so dusty that my camera will never be the same.

Not everyone was excited about the start of the SoCal Cross season.

But enough about the conditions, what I really wanted to talk about this time are hecklers, for what would cyclocross be without them? Hecklers are an interesting breed. Your general run of the mill spectators will cheer on their favorite racer, or maybe racers, and then go quiet until the same passes by again. Hecklers are just consistently loud, they do not distinguish between friend and foe; in fact friends and teammates of hecklers may receive even more ridicule and jeering than anyone else. Consider it good advice to never slide out, or otherwise crash, at a turn populated by hecklers; and Dog help you, if you happen to be a teammate - I dare say you will never live it down. Spectators are drawn to where ever hecklers hang out; you can bet that this will be the most active part of a course. Fishing for dollars, beer hand ups, jeering, it all adds to the overall excitement and experience of a cyclocross race. Spectators appreciate the efforts of hecklers, racers are encouraged by them (or at least the racers who are not brought to tears are), you can actually sense, as well as see, the increased effort cross racers put in to getting past a mob of hecklers. This begs the question - who are the best hecklers? Cadence? Ritte? Mudfoot? SquareOne? Someone else?
A Flickr set of 101 photos is here. Just a fraction of the 500+ photos I took during the day.

when a Mudfoot rider goes down...

in front of Mudfoot hecklers, everyone around wins

can or bottle?

hecklers tempting minors with alcohol and dollar bills

hecklers engaged in general heckling activities

hecklers applying a switch (whip) to get a group of racers going

Hecklers begin teaching their young un's the craft of heckling at an early age

more general heckling from hecklers

hecklers attempting to distract (or is it attract) the ladies

oh yes, then there is this - you didn't believe me, did you?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Upcoming: 2013 MSM Ride in Search of Autumn

Well, it is that time of year. Time for this years Ride in Search of Autumn. I appear to have found a gap between bow hunting and regular gun hunting seasons up up in the San Gabriel's, so the ride is taking place considerably earlier than the last edition. Earlier may mean that Autumn will be more difficult to find, but we will give it a try. As with the past few years the ride will start at Manker Flat, follow the service road up to Baldy Notch, head down to Stockton Flat, relax a bit and then head back. If anyone is up to it (heck if anyone shows) we can stop back in Baldy Village at Mt. Baldy Lodge for post ride grub.

Nothing organized about it, just show up and ride. Be responsible for your rig and yourself, though no one will be left on their own. It is a short ride, distance-wise (under 15 miles), but do expect to climb some. Don't forget you do need an Adventure Pass to park where the ride starts.

In case you have forgotten, here is the link to last years report, and one from the year before.

Update: Just in case anyone was planning on this, due to the Red Flag Warning forecast for the mountains, and the fact that my motor vehicle is laid up, I am canceling this. Maybe I will make it up there at a later date, and post up a report, but for now - nyet!

Friday, September 27, 2013

NICA at Claremont High School?

Once again, I seem to have found this idea lodged in my mind. A couple years ago the idea of forming a Claremont High School mountain bike team to compete in the SoCal High School Cycling League took hold. Though there was some interest expressed here and there, I was unable to follow up on the plan with any action. I have long believed that Claremont is an ideal location for a team, we have a large and active cycling community, areas for training (Bonelli Park, Marshall Canyon, Claremont Hills Wilderness Park) are superb, there exists a well-defined local base for sponsorship and support. I understand that one of Claremont High's primary athletic rivals, Damien HS, has formed a team and will be ready to compete during the 2014 season (Spring). Now may be an opportune time for Claremont to join in.

High School mountain biking has become among the fastest growing of interscholastic sports. What started with a single league (Northern California) in 2001, took off in 2008 when the Southern California league got its start. In just the five years since that time additional leagues have begun in Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Utah, New York, Tennessee, Arizona and, most recently, Georgia. The goal of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association is to be coast to coast by the year 2020. Within the Southern California League there are 35 established teams, some of these are single school teams, others are composites; another 15 teams are set to join as first-year programs for the Spring 2014 season.

If you are a parent of a student, a high school staff or faculty member, a school alumnus who has some interest in this opportunity let me know; if you are a student who would like to see a Claremont team, let a parent or a favorite teacher know. Contact me either via a comment, or email. I am willing to take a lead at this time, but will need assistance. The process needs to get going quickly, as deadlines for the upcoming Spring season of racing are fast approaching. If you have questions about the League, how teams are formed, coaching requirements, or anything related, let me know. You can also check out the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, or the SoCal High School Cycling League websites, for more information. If you want any additional inspiration check the video teaser for Single Track High.

5 Photos, 1 Ride into a New Season

It had been a while since I last I turned the pedals through Marshall Canyon, and along the Palmer-Evey to (or in this case towards) Potato Mountain. I am quite sure Spring flowers were blooming, and we were yet to face up to the heat and dryness of Summer. I usually abandon Marshall during the months of longer days, not because of the elevated temperatures, but because there tend to be so many more people. It is the same excuse I use to avoid riding the paved roadways of Bonelli Park (dirt is okay). Seasonal changes in my riding habits have less to do with weather than they do changes in traffic patterns, or at least the way I perceive those patterns making a given route more or less enjoyable. Connections. Seasonal changes and riding patterns shift in many places around the country this time of year: Those race-paced training rides draw to a close, or begin to change pace, cyclocross kicks into gear, lights make their way out of closets or cabinets and onto bars and frames, we contemplate the condition of our cool-weather gear.

Speaking of seasons, the year has now stretched past summer, or so the calendar says. I think we can all feel it too; the days may still get warm, but the evenings have turned pleasantly and comfortably cool. A sure sign of mid to late September. Other signs are around as well - the mixing of late summer wildflowers with the, now, russet blooms of buckwheat, clutches of deer feeding on buckskin colored hillsides, collections of acorns and the first of the seasons fallen leaves. And then there is also that shift in my attention; while the dirt of Bonelli hosts my wheels during the long dry, the higher trails of the San Gabriels have begun to call out. Now is the time to find traction higher up; must be about time for the annual Ride in Search of Autumn.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interbike 2013: Best of Show, Volagi Viaje Ti...

This year, I am giving my "Best of Show" award to Volagi for their Viaje Ti. 

If you remember I was quite impressed with what I saw of Volagi at the 2012 show. Their two models, the Liscio and the Viaje, are geared toward the endurance rider and adventure cyclist respectively. The Viaje previously existed as a steel framed bike, and will be released next year (2014) as the titanium frame prototype shown here. The Long Bow Flex Stay, which marks Volagi as distinct, already emphasizes comfort; the characteristics of titanium will enhance this even more. The Ti frame is combined with a carbon fork for maximum compliance under rough conditions. Disc brakes are standard on Volagi bikes, and the Viaje Ti will accommodate either mechanical or hydraulic actuated systems. Rack and fender braze-ons have been integrated into the stays allowing you to pack for a weekend, or longer, on the road away from home. Clearance for tires up to 42mm (32mm with fenders) allow for more rugged knobbies, so those multi-day adventures can carry you onto dirt, or gravel, when the paved road ends. The motto printed on the non-drive side stay captures the intent of the Viaje Ti - "The Will To Go" will get you started, this bike will provide the means.

As with all these reviews from Interbike 2013, I have not received any prior compensation, nor promise of later compensation, from the above mentioned company, nor am I connected to them in any way. Views expressed are the result of my observations and subsequent research only.

Interbike 2013: Thanks...

Thanks Interbike for another informative, fun few days. As a small-time media I appreciated everything that was done to accommodate me, make my "job" easier and more pleasant and thus, hopefully, made all product review and incidental posts at the blog useful or interesting for anyone reading them. Bit by bit I think I learn a little more each year, how to make those few days more effective, how to look at product, how to write about them. Looking forward to next year already.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Interbike 2013: Bits and Pieces, Odds and Ends

Alright, I am nearing the end of the Interbike stuff now. Aren't you glad? Have you had enough? I have two more for you tomorrow, including the all-important best of show. Until then, though, here are a few things of note not covered by any previous category.

Among some of the things that media people look for when they cover these sort of shows are trends. Some of these virtually disappear after a year or so (laced shoes), while others might last longer and, in fact, even become new standards. One of the trends I noticed this year was the single, small chainring on mountain bikes, coupled with some simply massive rear cogs. Doesn't really work for me; I guess the market will decide how long the trend lasts.

It is a trend that has been growing over the past couple years - disc brakes on road bikes. Though still a minority share of the braking market, I noticed more disc systems than ever, not just on the sport/performance bikes, but also on the more utility oriented bikes such as this Opus Zermatt.

Every year a few companies brings some vintage vehicle as a backdrop to their display, the Chrome truck is a kind of fixture, Ryders Eyewear brought a Delorean to match their staff's futuristic costumes, and Shinola had this green pickup.

Look, just Look. Luckily my LBS, and team sponsor, is a distributor. Of course finding the money for one is another matter.

Always look forward to see what Fondriest is rolling out. 

Colnago - still a metal prize in a carbon world.

Diamondback, best known in other areas of the cycling world are determined to make a splash on the road realm; their lineup of models is a strong start toward that end.

The past few years have seen an increasing focus on women riders; Raleigh is yet another major company with women-specific models for the road.

Brooks had this handy-dandy wall graphic for their line of various bags and baskets

Not a lot of use for this where I live, but hey, during the winter
I might put this on the bars of the Basso just for the look. Brooks.

stand-offish, indifferent, maybe just better

Bikes of fast men...

and fast women (does that still carry a double meaning these days, or has society moved beyond that).

Mike Conway of Rouleur brought some of their fine publications with him. Nice quality, but they are a pretty penny; luckily you can get a little bit at Rouleur the blog. For free.

The Pashley Parabike is not new, it has been around a few years now. Taking as inspiration the bicycles used by British paratroopers during World War II, the cool factor is pretty much off the charts. Well, maybe not as much as one of those old vintage war-time models that fell out of the sky along with their riders, but still pretty cool. It only comes in one size, with 26" wheels and Sturmey Archer hub. Though not shown, I believe it will accommodate a rear rack, to haul stuff around town, or for a jaunt into the country - assuming you have appropriate country within jaunting distance.

Interbike is great exposure for the various bicycle related charities, and I always make it a point to visit them. Paraphrased from their flyer: Zambikes was established in 2007 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing improved access to medical treatment in rural Africa. Readily available transportation options in many rural areas of the continent are limited to foot and handcart, with clinics or improved medical facilities a typical 3 to 10 mile journey away, many people in need of immediate care have little recourse to a slow, painful journey. To address this problem, Zambikes has developed the Zambulance trailer which easily attaches to any bicycle or motorcycle, dramatically slashing transportation times, and doing so while providing greater comfort to those in need. With two production facilities, one in Zambia, the other in Uganda, the company has delivered 1000 Zambulances and 10,000 Zambikes. The Zambulances have been responsible for saving a life every nine days. For more information on how Zambikes are helping meet the needs of Africa's rural populations see their website.

Truth be known I don't so much get the affection some people express for wool. I mean sure, it is useful (and I have been thankful for my one long-sleeve wool jersey during the winter), but I don't really care for the way it stretches when any weight is introduced to the back pockets. Never-the-less I have always wanted a nice wool jersey for the rare vintage ride I might do. These modern creations by De Marchi hark back to an earlier era, and do so with great style.

The loss of Chris Contreras early in the summer still stings to many in the SoCal community - so it was cool to see this jersey front and center of the ICE sportswear booth.

As with all these reviews from Interbike 2013, I have not received any prior compensation, nor promise of later compensation, from the above mentioned company, nor am I connected to them in any way. Views expressed are the result of my observations and subsequent research only.


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