Friday, November 30, 2012

Trends - Car/Bike Marketing

I have some posts brewing but no completed thoughts at this point. However I saw this on the Road & Track website, about the new Hyundai Veloster concept car, "inspired by fixies":

Note matching wheel colors.

The subtitle of the article says the car "rolls both ways". Before you start imagining a car that doesn't coast and that has 6 reverse gears (like I did), they're not talking the drivetrain, they're talking the rolling roof top. The roof can roll forward or backward, I guess to act as a sunroof if rolled back and to convert the car to some kind of "sports mini-pickup" if rolled forward.

The one disappointment is that they chose a terrible wheel for the fixie, a heavy, non-functional wheel from back in the day. I admit that it takes paint well but a 5 spoke Mavic wheel would have been the schnizzle.

Ah well. I'm just griping about subtle stuff. The good thing is that cycling, in whatever mode, is turning a bit more mainstream.

That's a good thing.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Equipment - Verge Wind Vest (Primo)

Although I have a thing for winter jackets I have to admit that out of the rest of my kit, except for shorts and jerseys, I use a wind vest the most often. I used to wear a full sleeve wind jacket back in the day but I didn't like them because they always managed to catch air, puffing out so you resembled the Michelin Man.

Vests really struck a chord with me because they stayed sleek and trim on me. The fact that the first few generations of wind vests had just a mesh back really helped too. I felt like I was wearing almost nothing extra yet the front of my torso had protection from the wind. Since then I made it a point to own a wind vest for any cool weather riding.

Note: for those of you who don't have a team issue vest you can cheat a bit - wear your normal jersey as a top layer and stick a grocery store plastic bag underneath. It's an update on the "newspaper under the jersey" trick. The plastic bag doesn't bleed ink, it doesn't turn into mush if you sweat a lot, and after the ride you can put your dirty kit in the bag. Try the last bit with a newspaper!

Anywho... as far as vests go I have two modes for them, zipped and unzipped.


This is the default way of wearing a vest, zipped up. When I actually feel a bit chilly I'll wear the wind vest like this, the way I think most people envision using a vest. "Zipped" keeps the vest snug to me, keeps me warm, and helps "control" things in my jersey pockets (because I wear the vest over whatever jersey I'm wearing) so they don't move around as much.


When it's marginally warm for a vest, meaning possibly too warm, like about 60 degrees or so, I'll wear the vest but leave it unzipped. Although I've never pulled a jersey over my head while riding I can say that I've put on and taken off a vest without stopping. Unzipped vests are easier to remove and are relatively easy to zip up.

So why wear it unzipped?

Because it flaps.

Eh what?

A long time ago one of the regulars in the shop told me a tip on riding safe. He spoke from a position of experience - he rode bicycles (more than I did), he rode motorcycles, and he was a volunteer fireman. The latter gave him experience with things people did to get into accidents.

His most spectacular story was one where they pulled up in a fire truck to a house fire, lights flashing, and proceeded to do whatever firemen do at the scene of a fire. They pulled hoses off, made sure everyone was safe, and all that kind of stuff.

The whole time the fire truck sat in the road, lights flashing.

Then suddenly CRASH!

Someone drove into the back of the fire truck.

At first everyone thought the driver was drinking or something but it quickly became apparent that the driver was 100% sober. When queried about seeing the fire truck the driver admitted that he never saw it.

"To be honest I was thinking about my tennis game. I never saw the truck."

(It might have been golf but it was one of those two.)

He never braked, he never swerved, nothing, just drove into the truck.

So what's that got to do with an unzipped vest?

Well John (that's his name; it might be Jon) told me that no matter how obvious you make yourself there's a chance that some distracted driver (and this was before cell phones were prevalent) will hit you anyway. The only thing you can do is to be aware and to make yourself more obvious.

He found that drivers noticed motion first, then color, then the object. This is similar to what other folks talk about when dealing with motorists seeing, or not seeing, cyclists. John (or Jon) recommended that I have a flapping thing on me or my bike, preferably some obnoxious color. On his motorcycle he has a piece of pink cloth flapping off the back of his seat.

For me, on the bike, it's a flapping vest. Or jersey, if it's really hot and I have a base layer on.

So that's why I'll wear a wind vest unzipped. It's really so that I have it at hand if I need it, but a secondary purpose is to try and help others see me.

Because, you know, that's what I'm all about. Heh.

So after all that I can show you my new vest. I had a regular vest before but when I saw the new sexy one I had to put my name down on the list.

Shiny. I actually like it. That sort of scares me.

The vest is windproof in the front. I'll get to the back in a moment.

Zippers from the bottom or top.

Bottom zipper has no pull tab so it doesn't chafe your shorts or whatever. There are little silicone gripper dots at the bottom. They work well.

The back. Lots of stuff going on here.

The back of the Expo Wheelmen wind vests is actually a jersey type material. It has pockets, it breathes a bit, and it's solid so it holds a print better (as opposed to a mesh that doesn't lend itself to .

Of course the vest has the requisite reflective piping and some logo stuff on it.

Notice the phone peeking out?

Unfortunately the small pocket is too small for my DroidX. I haven't checked to see if an iPhone fits but I think it should, based on all the different things made for a smartphone that the DroidX doesn't fit. Having a slightly larger form factor phone can be a disadvantage.

On the other hand that small pocket works great for my car key.

 Nitty gritty stuff.

Disclaimer: Although Verge sponsors the Bethel Spring Series I pay for my team clothing, same as any other club member. In fact I bought this vest even though I already owned another one because I really liked the features of this one.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Equipment - Verge Primo Jacket

So I guess I have this thing for cycling jackets. It started with the knit-stuff-with-nylon-wind-panel jackets of the 80s - I thought that having one of those meant that I was a real rider. Then a then-Euro-pro friend showed up at a ride with a ridiculously thin jacket on a ridiculously cold day. He showed me this miracle jacket, thin, windproof, insulating, and almost too warm for regular cold days. Compared to him I felt like the Michelin Man and not just because of my weight.

Eventually I got one of those jackets - it might have been a year or two, maybe a hand-me-down from that Euro pro himself. The jackets got even thinner. About 8 years ago I settled on Verge's Warsaw jacket - I had them for the blue/green Carpe Diem Racing team, the white/blue Connecticut Coast Cycle team, and now with Expo Wheelmen. I had a Warsaw jacket from 2012 but I decided to move up a bit and get the new fancy model for 2013, the Primo.

So far, I have to admit, I've only worn the jacket out on the street. The one day I thought I'd need it the weather ended up nice and I wore a vest and a long sleeve jersey instead of the jacket.

Because it's windproof and insulating I wear the Warsaw/Primo jackets when it hits 40 or 45 degrees at the warmest. I'm good, with 2 long sleeve layers, down to about 25 degrees F. After that it's debatable - it's not my torso that gets cold, it's the (ahem) top of the tights.

The right sleeve of the jacket.

The new jacket has zip off sleeves and a tighter form fitting wrist area with a zipper. There's also a strip of non-insulating fabric running up the back of the arm. It's black so it's hard to see but it's just above the zipper in the picture above. This helps with breathing and ventilation.

One sleeve unzipped.

I worried that the shoulder would look odd because the zipper follows the red panel's contour. This would mean a really cut off shoulder. However Verge doubles up on the shoulder so the vest still has a shoulder on it (the black shoulder area on the left side of the picture).

I don't think it's an "unzip while you ride" thing but I'm also not a fan of removing partial zip jerseys over my head while riding either. Maybe you skilled riders can do the sleeves while you ride, but for me it's a "I gotta stop" thing.

White stuff is insulating.

That's the miracle thin windproof and insulating fabric. The Primo jacket has no large vent (non-windproof) areas, just a portion of the sleeve.

Detail of collar.

The zipper ends in a little zipper well so you don't have the thing flicking you in the chin. The collar is nice and warm around the neck.

Bottom zipper - note no pull on it.

The zipper has two zipper things so you can unzip going up or down. This helps if you need to take a nature break or adjust your baselayer or something. There's no pull on the bottom zipper thing because the edge of the pull can abrade your clothing - your tights, knickers, shorts, etc.

Silicone dots around waist.

The waist area has silicone dots that act as a gripper. This prevents the jacket from riding up.

Pockets in the back.

There are two pockets in the back, a large one and a new smaller one. The large one will carry a lot of stuff but because it's just one pocket it gets all jumbled around. I usually carry multiple pockets of stuff, organized by pocket, so this isn't ideal for me. It works okay though and the nice thing is you can fit a lot of stuff in there.

Full phone pocket.

I can fit my DroidX in the small pocket complete, so that's nice. It does have to go sideways, and the phone is sitting on the jacket in its "pocketed" position. The phone holster illustrates the pocket's depth.

The back in full.

True winter jackets don't have a thin back - it's full protection all the way around. With the Primo jacket you get some of the standard reflective trim and piping.

The nitty gritty of the jacket.

Disclaimer: although Verge sponsors the Bethel Spring Series, I pay for my jacket, the same as any other club member - in fact I sold my Warsaw jacket to a teammate so I could afford this one. I also do not decide who to use for clothing for our club. I admit I was happy when the powers that be decided to order from Verge.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Racing - Trivia Mondays Are Back!

Each fall, as the road season draws to a close, Cycling Revealed posts a series of trivia quizzes. I find them refreshing and a welcome distraction. Go as quickly as you can, don't Google the answers (that's like doping to win a race), and see how you fare. I don't do too well but that's okay, it's fun learning what I don't know.

Here's the link.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Racing - Ben Wolfe Interview

No, I don't have a story about Ben other than he lapped us twice the night before he won the pro race in Beverly, MA. Or that he's been winning everything around here. Or that I screamed myself hoarse cheering him on at this year's Nutmeg State Games. Or... yeah, the list goes on.

However I have an affinity for the Jelly Belly Cycling Team and he signed with them!

PezCycling News caught up to him. Here's the interview.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Equipment - Tsunami 1.1

Tsunami Bike 1.1
(Some assembly required)

It's a start I guess but I haven't really gotten very far in the year or so that I've been "working" on this project. In this picture you can see some hints at what will be on the bike at the end. The frame is the main thing, of course, and it has one sticker on it so far, the bottom bracket (BB30) has been reamed, and the head tube reamed, faced, and a headset pressed into it, all done by Manchester Cycle.

The main modification has been to shorten the frame's chainstays as much as possible, this to pull the rear wheel in. Due to the long front center the rear wheel gets really light, losing traction in any hard turn. The short stays really help counter that (as proven on the black bike, aka Tsunami 2.0), and so I had the first Tsunami modified in a similar fashion.

1. ENVE 2.0 fork, with the same Crank Bros headset as before, a very low stack height (22.x mm) stainless steel number.
2. Campy cassette. I actually have four in this picture, one in the box, three in the plastic bag just above the silver bars.
3. Campy brakes, in the Campy boxes that don't have pictures on them. I may just put the Ultegra brakes on (they were on the carbon Giant) but all Campy sounds better. There's a small surprise on the brakes and I'll reveal all when appropriate.
4. Campy new style 10s Ergo levers. I want to give them a try, and my backup shifters are starting to fade hard.
5. Cinelli 13 cm track stem, in case I want to give the FSA Compact bars (the black bars above the plastic bag) a shot. The Compacts have 2 cm less drop, 3 cm less reach, so I'd need a 15 cm stem that drops 2 cm to replicate the same drop position.
6. Fizik Tares saddle. I saw these at the time trial, they looked good, and based on that I bought one as an experiment. Failing that I'll stick with the Titanio saddle that is on the Thomson post.
7. Fizik tape, just because it was there at Manchester Cycle.

The box has a lot of tools in it too, the Park BB30 tool, a Park carbon-specific cutting blade for a hacksaw, grease gun screwed onto a Pedros grease tube, anti-seize (obscured), carbon assembly paste (obscured)

In the parts boxes somewhere are new brake and derailleur cables (other than the cable kit that came with the shifters). I'll use Nokons for housing and am debating if I should buy some fresh segments for the exposed sections. I'll definitely use the played out segments under the bar tape.

I have a BB30 axle for the Cannondale SI SRM cranks (it's a different length from the standard axle, of which I have one too), and a second SRM spider for said cranks. This way I'll have two bikes set up with the SRM. I have a second SRM PCV head, harness, and mount, so I won't need to set the slope (basically a setting for each spider) when I change bikes.

The derailleurs are coming off the carbon Giant.

And that's really it, now that I think of it. I want to buy some black bottle cages because the blue ones from the Orange Period will clash with the red.

Now, reviewing this post, I'm wondering why it took me so long to even think about starting the assembly.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Life - Raikkonen Wins

Earlier this year I wrote about my fan type status with regards to Lotus. Although I've been hoping for a win by Raikkonen in 2012 his car hasn't been the best. In Formula One that's an unfortunate thing - the best driver may not win if he's in an inferior car. Typically such drivers shine when the weather turns sour, like the legendary Aryton Senna in one of his early F1 races. Normally, though, the best cars win. The good cars (and teams) attract solid, proven drivers, the cars work well, they usually survive the race, and, simply put, they're faster.

Raikkonen, on the Lotus team (it's actually Renault, but that's okay by me), is a good driver that came back to F1 after (I think) pricing himself out of the market a couple years back. He's driven well but the car's pace has been just below the top teams' cars.

That said if things worked out just right he could win. It's not the best way to win, perhaps, but it's a deserved win if it's not a complete farce (like when just six cars started at Indianapolis). Raikkonen has taken advantage of weather, the strengths of his car, and such, but other drivers, arguably similar in skill, took the wins.

Today, though, he finally did it. Some of the top competitors had some bad luck, others pushed the rules a bit.

Sebastian Vettel, the probably champion for the season, tried to push qualifying with an illegal fuel load (less than one liter of fuel remaining after the qualifying lap). It's basically cheating, especially since the team knew it and told him to pull over before he got to the pits. That's kind of like being called to dope control after a race and sprinting away on the bike. I'm not sure what Vettel's team hoped to accomplish because the stewards (i.e. officials) checked his car and dutifully found just a few drops of fuel left in the tank. Even though he started at the back (albeit from pit lane, so they could work on his car before the start - a loophole in the rules, sort of), he really does have the best car at the moment, and he's a good solid driver. He dutifully set fastest lap on the way to a spectacular third place.

Fernando Alonso, probably the driver that wrung the best out of the car he had this season, did a great drive to finish second. I remember him more for being involved in cycling (forgive the horrible translation on the page). It seems, though, that he can drive a car very, very well, and he won a number of races in the 2012 season in a car that's acknowledged to be slightly behind the top cars like Vettel's.

But at the top of the podium, complete with the not-champagne-but-instead-rose-water-with-bubbles (the race took place in Abu Dhabi), stood Kimi Raikkonen. He inherited the lead in this race but that doesn't explain the difficulties of qualifying well, saving your tires, dealing with the stress of racing, etc etc etc. Nonetheless if an F1 driver inherits a lead the best he can do is keep it. Raikkonen did just that.

So what's that mean for me and cycling? Not much, actually. It's nice to see that a good driver won in a car that's been pretty controversy-free, that hasn't pushed the rulebook too far, and that earned its win through a season of hard work.

It does bring to mind a racer a while back that raced the Bethel Spring Series. He acknowledges he doesn't have a sprint so he goes for the late solo moves, or, if the race works out right, an earlier solo move.

At that year's Series I had a very strong team supporting me. We'd see the racer go, a friendly rival of ours, and we'd try and bring him back at the end of the race. We caught him at the bottom of the hill, halfway up the hill, and even at the line. Well technically I caught him but only because the team dragged me (and the field) across the gap.

One of my teammates, after I caught the poor racer at the line (I won, he got second), asked me why he kept trying.

"Because if you keep trying moves eventually you'll win. He got caught at the bottom of the hill, halfway up the hill, and at the line. He's getting closer and one week he may win."

The following week guess what happened?


He took off a few laps from the finish, drilled it when it counted, and beat me to the line by about 10 or 20 feet.

I was probably the second happiest racer in the race because he won the race fair and square. He made the move, we all knew he'd have to make the move, and he still made it stick.

That racer upgraded that year so I rarely raced against him for a while. Now I see him all the time at the Tuesday Night Races at Rentschler Field and sometimes we even line up in a Masters race together.

When I see him I always, always, always think about the time that I watched him cross the line just a few lengths clear of me, absolutely astonished with himself that he'd pulled off the move.

So maybe Raikkonen's win does have something to do with cycling in that cycling has something to do with life. You can't help but admire those that earn their way forward. It may not be as far forward as a Tour win (or not), it may not be a multi-million dollar F1 contract, but it's real.

Kudos to Raikkonen.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Doping - The Morality

In all the furor over the USADA Lance Armstrong report someone pointed me at this piece. It answers why we should care about this case: because it's wrong.

The article, by Dr Phil Skiba, a cancer survivor and physician.