Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 NAHBS: Bike Nerds One and All

Yes indeed, we were there. If you were anywhere in the vicinity of the Sacramento Convention Center you could not have missed us if you tried. We packed the foyer, crowded the doors, chomping for that moment the doors would be flung open, granting access to a wonderland waiting inside. More nervous, anticipatory energy you would be unlikely to find outside a pack of dachshunds awaiting their dinner. Once inside we crowded around the makers, like Tom Ritchey, Steve Potts, Kent Eriksen, Paul Price, as they explained this or that feature, their build process, shared words of wisdom, or maybe just cracked a joke. And it wasn't only the masters we crowded around; we were just as interested in the newcomers, those with dreams and goals of making their own space amongst the pantheon of makers. We stopped in the aisles to share our finds - artistic lugs, steels frames that fooled us into believing they were carbon, sparkly finishes, single stanchion forks and single stay frames. We waited our turn to snap a photo, stopped passersby with questions about their rides, and were not the least bit surprised when the makers themselves got down on hands and knees to cast an inquisitive eye. 

Tom Ritchey

Steve Potts

Kent Eriksen

Paul Price

Steve Bilenky

2016 NAHBS: Riding with Nelly

a few words from Mr. Vails before heading out

That is Nelly, as in Nelson Vails. One of the cool things about NAHBS are the extracurricular activities that take place. There have been rides each day of the event, and while I would have liked to take advantage of the mtb ride on Saturday, there was too much to see on the showroom floor, and not enough time in the day. Sunday morning however was another matter - a quick breakfast and an early ride, and still some time to get into the show for some final tasks.

The route selected [?] and led by local shop Mike's Bikes took us through downtown and into the Sacramento hinterlands on the other side (west) of the river. Cool to be able to say I rode with an Olympic athlete, and also cool to ride with one of the makers - Greg White of Magic Cycle Werks (more on his creations later). Wow, what a range of bikes; it might be the nature of the event, but there were so many different bike types - everything from a Brompton to carbon-fiber fillies, an aluminum Cunningham, my own Ibis Hakkalugi, and Greg White's raw, and unfinished, personal ride.

Could not ask for a better start to the day.

Heading toward the golden bridge over the Sacramento River. Some people using the green bike lane, not big enough for all of us though.

Nelson Vails

Over the bridge and into the country

Back in the city with Nelson and Greg - Thanks for getting me back guys (and only one wrong turn).

Stay tuned. There will be a ton of posts about bikes and makers coming at you over the next couple weeks.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Beginning: Colnago

All things must have a beginning, and in the case of the legendary Colnago presence in the United States, that beginning is this orange frame and fork (with matching Silca frame pump). The VeloSport mussette is not a bad match at all. 

From the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis, California, on loan from Peter Rich. Rich (founder of Velo-Sport Bicycles), after having met Ernesto Colnago, in a round about way during a Masi factory visit, imported several Colnago's including this one, his personal bike.

Capitol City

Gawd, there are people on cool bikes all over the place. And it almost didn't happen. Friday was as close to the "drive of hell" I ever want to experience. Breakdown on the I-5 in the middle of, well what might as well have been purgatory. It seemed to take far too long for the tow truck to arrive. Arrive it did though, but the 24 mile drive to the nearest AAA-approved repair shop put me seventeen miles over my seven mile limit - and an extra $112.00 tacked on to the weekend tab. Alternator, not the battery as I had hoped. Won't be able to get it fixed until Monday. Guess I will be missing a day of work next week. Son of a... 
Working from back home in Claremont, the Mrs. scrambled to locate a rental company with an available car, then faxed them the information they required. Alright back on the road. Six hours later than I had expected to arrive I had made it into Capitol City. After listening to my tale of woe, the hotel sent up a couple bottles of brew to help with the agony (Sheraton Grande Sacramento - I thought the courtesy required a shout out). Things are starting to look up. 

Have a good weekend folks. Expect a lot of photos and write ups of cool bikes, and biking in downtown Sacramento, here over the next few weeks.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

There's Nothing There

The shadow cast by the street light reminded him of a bat - vest open with zippers flapping in the rush of air as he pedaled in the opposite direction. Strange looking bat, though; maybe the idea was due to Hollywood's usual overkill of pre-release hype for, in this case, the new Batman film.

He attempted to take a photo, but in the evening darkness the automatic flash sprang to life, washing everything in a mini-explosion of light. Flashes kill shadows, and so where the "bat" image should have been was nothing but unadorned pavement, no record of pedaling in passing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

To Arms, To Arms

You know there is one thing that the Donald has done well. For all his non-sensical rhetoric, his dearth of legitimate ideas, lack of substance, and hateful, belittling speech, he has still managed to rally supporters. He has done so by tapping into a sense of aggrievement (the fact that he is from the part of society that is the source of much of that sense, seems to be missed by his supporters). But that is another story. The important point to take note of here is the effect that a large group of mobilized people can have.

In this age of social media, many of you already know of an incident in which a local rider was harassed by a driver whose place of employment was clearly noted on the vehicle. Driving at the same pace as the rider, within inches of his handlebars, cursing from the safety of a grossly out-weighed vehicle is a clear attempt at intimidation, harassment and bullying. How an, otherwise, clear-thinking [?] adult could believe this to be anything other than unacceptable is beyond me, but then so is the fervor of Trump's support corps. Go figure.

Who knows how many times each day similar incidents happen around this big metropolis. What makes this one different is that company name splashed on the side of the vehicle. Cyclists are a tight-knit bunch, and within a short period of time of a Yelp review being written and shared, word began to spread. Turns out another local rider is a manager at said company. When the owner of a local bike shop got the word he gave a call to said company and had some words of his own to share. I can well imagine what they were.

The point of all this is not to encourage you to search out the who's and what's of involvement in this case; I am sure that word will get to the perpetrator that his actions were both unacceptable and dangerous. In fact they may have very well already done so. The point has to do with mobilization. Large numbers of people acting in unison, for a common good, can make a difference. Just imagine if everyone who heard the story of the incident, or read about it here (or elsewhere), took a minute to write an email, post on a Facebook page, or even place a call to the business in question. Hit 'em where it hurts, as they say - no, not in the gut, not in the nose, in the wallet of course.

Like Paul Revere calling for action, it starts with one, finishes with many. Mobilization; whether it is an attempt to correct the dangerous attitude of a single individual, or to argue for infrastructure improvements for the benefit and safety of all, our voices can have a positive effect. All we have to do is use them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cal Poly Frame Building Club

Honestly, I don't know if I would have been cognizant enough to take advantage of a bike building program if my alma mater had one back then - it would have required a bit of prescience to read how the future would evolve. I mean, at that time bikes were just bikes to me, not yet the super machine they have since become. Meaning, I suppose, that I would certainly be gung-ho to join in now. Last year I made mention of a bike building program at the University of Iowa (who, by the way, will be showing at NAHBS this weekend - cool). A little closer to home we have a, roughly, similar program, the Cal Poly Frame Builders Club, a student club of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Though it does not seem to be particularly active, the group also has a page in the Facebook realm. There has not been a post on that page since October of last year, though, so I can't even be sure they are still around. Anyone know?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Blues: Picks Himself Up

This is the final shot in a sequence of six photos, and was the only tumble I witnessed all day, on Saturday, at Southridge USA. I am not sure how I knew this rider would be the one; no other riders passing by a sequence numbering more than three. Premonitory, lucky, just plain weird? The first four photos look fine - he is taking the same line as everyone else, he clears the drop, the rocks, he is well back and off the saddle. In the fifth shot, though, his weight has clearly moved forward as you might expect if he had suddenly squeezed the front brake. In that fraction of an instant everyone around knew what was coming next - dirt thrown up, a cloud of dust, impact, tumbling. People jumping over rocks and shrubs to help, lend a hand, pick up the bike. But the rider is okay; he picks himself up, shakes his head, confirms that he indeed is alright, checks his bike, twists the bars. Heads back to the shuttle for another run.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ride (and Make) in Peace, Brian Baylis

You must wonder if it was somehow prophetic, a look ahead, when one of bicycling's most renowned frame builders announced his retirement a few years ago. I snapped this photo of both Mr. Baylis and some of his bikes at the San Diego Custom Bicycle Show in 2011:

This one is from Steel is Real, on Facebook:

There is a lot of time between the two, a lot of frames made, a lot of miles ridden on those frames, and lifetimes of experiences gathered during those miles. Yup, the guild of bike builders, as well as anyone who appreciates craftsmanship, has lost a guru. Ride in Peace Brian Baylis.

If interested, many people, including other bike makers, are posting up remembrances at Velocipede Salon.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

2016 KMC Chain Winter Series #4: Carving

Even though he is young, racing with the Under-18s, Turner Conway (Fullerton Bicycles) may very well carve the downhill side of a mountain better than anyone who comes out to race the Southridge XC course during the KMC Chain Winter Series. So I was bummed when the best photo I could manage of him today was this:

Well, at least his right sock seems to be in focus. Focus. And confidence - I bet those two factors account for much of Conway's success. His slicing wheels carve into this trail much as a chef's filleting knife might be used to create culinary artistry, or a surfer to descend along the front of a wave. Brute manhandling will only get you so far. The best know how to read and feel, then match those sensory aids with experience and instinct to flow with seeming ease.

Shooting a race like this affords the opportunity to understand, and study, the different techniques and abilities among riders. The pros and elites, as you would expect, ride with a finesse that, quite frankly, I find enviable. Like my numerous ill-fated attempts at learning Spanish, this is a lesson that seems untranslatable to my own riding. Ah well, at least I can admire the skill that it (level of riding) requires.

Results, sure:

Pro Men: 1st, Nic Beechan, 2nd, Barben Emilien, 3rd, Alfred Pacheco; Veteran Pro: 1st Stuart Gonzalez, 2nd Romolo Forcino, 3rd, Cesar Mora; Expert Men U18: 1st, Turner Conway, 2nd, Brian Kennedy, 3rd, Tydeman Newman; Expert Men 30-39: 1st Adam Poytress, 2nd, Benjamin Goyette, 3rd, Jeff Welch; Expert Men 40-49, 1st Todd Booth, 2nd Ken Smith, 3rd, Chris Layton; Expert Men 50-59, 1st Jeff Jacobson, 2nd Ken Winston, 3rd Randy Liechty; Expert Men 60+: 1st, Jon Miller, 2nd, Jonathan Livesay; Open Women: 1st, Jenny Landis, 2nd, Micah Mason, 3rd, Keturah Ursua; Sport Men U18: 1st, Cody Conde, 2nd, Cade Calonder, 3rd, Cole Fiene; Sport Men 19-29, 1st ,Jeremy Lasater, 2nd, Scott Lillis; Sport Men 30-39: 1st, David Hernandez, 2nd, Ryan Rebick, 3rd, Oleg Shalygin; Sport Men 40-49: 1st, Jon Davis, 2nd, Frank Pleitez, 3rd, Chad Smart; Sport Men 50-59: 1st, Ron Freibrun, 2nd, Cary Bren, 3rd, Eric Zook; Sport Men 60+: 1st, Rich Fersch; Beginner Men 9-10: 1st, Aria Turner, 2nd, Mason Kroepel; Beginner Men 11-12: 1st, Raulito Gutierrez, 2nd, Grant Mitchell, 3rd, Hunter Kroepel; Beginner Men 13-15: 1st, Breven Murrill; Beginner Men 16-18: 1st Kevin Trystad; Beginner Men 19-29: 1st Mario Mojica; Beginner Men 30-39: 1st Dan Eckman, 2nd Mark Gabot, 3rd Eder Estrada; Beginner Men 40-49: 1st James Conaway, 2nd Jeff Barlow, 3rd Arno Gaarthuis; Beginner Men 50-59: 1st Toby Henderson; Beginner Women U18: 1st Shelby Kawell, 2nd Jaidah Baubeng, 3rd Jordyn Baubeng; Beginner Women U34: 1st Dixie Owens; Beginner Women 35+: 1st Martine Bouma; Over 200 Club: 1st Paul Shank, 2nd Zak Kroepel, 3rd Eduardo Ledezma.

First over the summit, Nic Beechan, was also first across the line after three laps. Oh, and I believe I heard that his was the fastest time (1:10:59) ever for the three lap race. Fast.

The Biking Viking, James Conaway, descends along the high line.

Where's the chicken line? That's what I need.

I can't believe we are already down to the final race of the series, but now, with the end of February approaching, that is where we stand. See you at the final race weekend, two weeks from now. One hundred forty photos are in the Album, and as usual, there are many more similar ones outside of the album, so if you don't see who, or what, you were looking for let me know and I will see what I can find.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cycling Claremont: Farm Fresh Produce

You don't need to wait for the Sunday farmers' market to get your farm-fresh produce. If your rides take you west along Foothill you may have noticed this sign in the planted median between the main Boulevard and the little frontage road. Looking around you may have noticed a church, a couple banks, Dale yelling at you to lube your squeaky chain from the front of the Velo across the street. First, I bet you never knew that chain was so loud, and second, you are looking for something that cannot be seen from the street.

What you are looking for is Uncommon Good's Whole Earth Building, located behind the Methodist Church. There, Monday thru Saturday, you can find fresh, organic, locally grown produce grown at the Fiddleneck Family Farms in the cities of Claremont, Pomona, Ontario, and Covina. I don't think there is any guarantee of what you will find, but you can help to narrow things down by considering the growing season. You know - strawberries in the spring, summer corn, winter squash, etc. Check them out for your next special meal. Or maybe you cook good stuff all the time.

The Cycling Claremont series of posts highlight some of the local businesses I have been known to frequent because I like what they offer, because they are bicycle friendly, or because they provide something unique or interesting, and which visitors to Claremont may also like.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Answer: A phone app that determines when to add air to your bike's tires.
Question: What is a solution to a problem that does not exist?

Now, I dare say that none of us will ever reach the level of competence possessed by the Belgian gentleman pictured above. To bend in close, gaze upon the rounded form of a tire as if it were a Michelangelo sculpture, breath deep a fragrant bouquet as if the nose were perched over the rim of a wine glass, and be able to tell the psi of an over, or under, inflated hoop of stretched rubber. It is the stuff of legend and, probably, myth.

At half that competence level, an expert may flick the middle finger against a sidewall and judge the inflation based solely on sound, everything between a ringing ping and a dull thud, telling the expert everything needs to know about the tires' pressure.

A little further off that level is the pinch method - judging pressure by the amount of compression the tire gives between thumb and finger. With some careful observation and a little practice, nearly anyone can master this technique. Study long enough and pressure can be judged within a few psi above or below. With very little practice the method is capable of revealing when air should be added. The testing of the tires is the most basic of pre-ride rituals; I can't recall a single instance that a ride did not start with a test of my tires' squishiness. With that much opportunity, the method becomes very easy to master. 


I though it rather humorous when I read the other day (on BikingInLA) about some new phone app that will (I assume by some scientific means) tell you when your tire needs a little air, or conversely (perhaps) when it has too much. If you have read here for a while you may have gathered that I am not much of a techno nut - you won't find me clamoring for the latest in electronic shifting, nor for disc brakes on my road bike, and certainly not for rear suspension on the road (as I also recently read about). At the same time, though, I am not a techno-reactionary either, I mean I was one of the first to buy into Campy's Ergopower levers back in the early '90s.

The whole "there is an app for that" thing seems to be a bit much at times. The point of all this rambling ride is that with just a little practice you can keep that $2.50 in your wallet, or purse - after all that is like a third of a glass of foamy brew at your favorite local ale house.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

2016 Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium

Lets start of the coverage of this years' Roger Millikan Crit by recognizing one of the southland's most venerable Masters, Thurlow 'Turbo' Rogers. Thurlow and the Cronies, and the rest of those 45+ racers put on a fine display of aged athleticism in what was, arguably, the best race of the morning hours. If I was half the racer I never was, or half the racer I wished I was, or something, I might still be a crony. But that is a moot point anyway, and these days I let others do the racing. And did they ever. While Thurlow and the rest of the Breakaway from Cancer Masters brought a win-capable team to the race, they were not the only ones out in strength. At the end, though, no one's cronies were more powerful than the ever-strong Team Browning Automotive p/b Corridor Recycling, and their ace sprinter, Craig Miller, made the most of it, stomping the futile attempts of his nearest challengers. 1st: Miller, 2nd: Harold Martinez (StageOne Test Team), 3rd: Thomas Robles (Breakaway from Cancer Masters).

The 45+ race was a big field, and when they came swooping tight into the corner at full speed, I don't mind admitting that I was more than a little nervous.

Miller, victorious in the 45+ race.

Somehow, the morning turned abruptly from Masters to Juniors. But that was alright, as it gave me a little reprieve out on that corner. The fields were smaller and they didn't come in quite as tight, especially after an early lap crash right there in front of me. (No need to look in the Flickr album for the couple images but, if you are that rider who went down hard and want more proof, I will send you the files.) Anyway, in that race two riders, in particular, put out stellar efforts. The first was the lone teammate, Ama Nsek, of the one who fell; after essentially stopping to confirm his comrade would be alright, he was forced to chase. And chase. Eventually this Lux rider caught back on. When that happened, the rider shown above, David Picazo, recognizing the opportunity, attacked. Neither of the remaining two riders, who clearly considered Nsek the bigger threat, gave chase. The only question to answer was whether, or not, he had the energy to solo for another six, or was it still seven, laps. 1st: David Picazo (GBS Racing), 2nd: Osvaldo Mora (LAVA Junior Dev. Team), 3rd: Ama Nsek (Lux / Stradling p/b Specialized).

I would like to say there was more story to the Masters 40+ 4/5 race, but the one photo above really says it all. Peter Mundt (Velo Club La Grange) took off on the opening lap - alone. I suppose the peloton considered the move foolish and doomed to failure. Forty-five minutes later Mundt crossed the line - alone - with nearly a full lap lead. 1st: Mundt, 2nd: Klayton Sproles (S2c / Primal), 3rd: Jeff Wolfe (Cast A Shadow / Temecula Farmers / Specialized).

It was nervous time again out on the corner during the Masters 35+ 1-3 race. The group as a whole can be the fastest of the day, and they are most certainly not timid about hugging the corners. Surf City was the force to be reckoned with and though other teams, including Monster Media, Browning Automotive, Velo Pasadena, and others gave a try, none of them could not deny a sweep of the podium. 1st: Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery), 2nd: Kayle Leo Grande (Surf City), 3rd: Gregory Romero (Surf City).

The last race of the day for me was the combined Women 3/4, and Women 1/2/3 race. Playing favorites, I waited to see how the lady Gauchos would do in the race, having missed out on cheering them on at the UCLA Road Race this year. Regrettably the one still in contention at the end of the race, crashed out in a massive pile up on the final lap. (Cat 3/4) 1st: Alexandra Reich (SDBC), 2nd: Lizbeth Urenos Armas (VC LaGrande), 3rd: Katherine Ellis (SDBC). (Cat 1/2/3) 1st: Christina Birch, 2nd: Jenny Rios (Monster Media Elite Women), 3rd: Renee Robinson (SDBC).

Joking with the officials after the Juniors' race.

One hundred nine photos make up the Flickr album for this years' Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium. Included are photos from the Masters 55+, Juniors, Masters 45+ 1-3, Masters 40+ 4/5, Masters 35+ 1-3, Women 3/4, and Women 40+ 1-4. There are an additional five hundred additional photos not in the album, so if you don't see who, or what, you were looking for let me know and I will see what I can find.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Demo(lition) Man

Original Grace Slick version, or later Police remake? Does not really matter in the grand scheme of this post; other than that word "demo" in the title I can't really make out any connection. But, hey, I am liking these demo days - keep 'em coming. Both Coates and Incycle were out there at Bonelli today with reps and fleets from some of the brands that the two shops sell. If you couldn't find something you liked, you might have been trying too hard. My problem is that once I find something I like, I tend to fixate on it to the exclusion of others. So, yes, I pedaled around a good long time on the Pivot Les that I admired so much back during the November [?] demo. And, as it turned out, nothing else. The Mrs. rode a Liv at the previous demo and, this time, went for the Juliana. Every time I asked how she liked it, her "its nice" response was kind of dazed - I don't think she ever got past the idea that she was rocking a fully tricked out $10,000 bike - luck of the draw, the extra small she needed came loaded with all the loudest bells and whistles.

a thumb's up from the helpful, patient Juliana mechanic and we were good to go

Katie, from "the City" was returning to the Juliana tent following an early morning run on her demo bike when the mrs. asked her to join us. Not being familiar with the trails out this way, she said sure. I immediately thought there was something familiar about her, and as I overheard bits and pieces of conversation between the two gals it began to fit together. Suspicions were confirmed when I asked if she raced with the She Wolf Attack Team. Yup, she has been at many of the cross races I have shot over the past few years. Anyway, between the novice and the expert, the consensus was that the Juliana is one sweet ride.

My ride for the morning - aggressive looking, isn't it! Look, I know by now that I am going to be caught on any bit of descent, and no amount of extra suspension is going to help, so why not go out and make people suffer on the climbs? The Pivot Les will do it - I'd still like a second ring up front though.

The Mrs,' ride for the morning - Juliana.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Up the Road: West Fork Fish 'n' Ride...

On one day this summer we are going to hold a fishin' ride, or is it fish an' ride. We will escape the usual torrid valley heat and head on up to the West Fork hoping that, in the between time, this so-called el Nino will add a little water to the river. Ride, fish, picnic, dam climb for prizes, family friendly, etc. Could happen as early as May, or as late as August. Will be looking for someone with a bob trailer, and strong legs to pull it. Watch for more information as the time draws near.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Backpedal: San Diego Custom Bicycle Show

In honor of my media credentials being approved for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) at the end of February, I thought I would dredge up this old post from the San Diego Custom Bicycle Show, published at the old Claremont Cyclist in April 2011. The few photos here didn't make that original post, though other views of some of the same bikes may have.

I love it when the opportunity to focus on the craft side of the bicycle world presents itself. Often that means a short post, a bit of background, a few photos about some bike I happen to have noticed while out and about. Those are random opportunities, and I never know when they will come up. Because it brings so many of today's custom and handmade builders together in one place, at one time, the annual NAHBS is the biggest opportunity of the year.

I understand that some of these same makers are expected to be at NAHBS in little more than a couple weeks. I look forward to seeing what they have to show, continuities in their designs, new tangents and, as always, the details. Needless to say, the same anticipation applies to all the others on the extensive list of exhibitors.


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