Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Here's an early cycling Christmas "card" to wish you and yours very Happy Holidays! I find some of the details on this 1886/87 magazine cover fascinating.

I was surprised to see the abbreviation "Xmas" in the title and love the snow-capped, frozen font. Look at how the Os in Book have been turned into bicycle wheels. And, I think the red emblem in the center of the C in Cycledom is a chariot wheel, while the zeros that decorate the C likely represent mileage, since already cyclists took great pride in how far they rode each season and watch-quality striker-style cyclometers were popular.

Notice too that the fellow with the mustache is mounting his ordinary (also called a high bicycle, highwheel, penny farthing), which would have been the popular bicycle at the time. Below on that tranquil road is a tandem tricycle. Women riding highwheels was frowned upon so they often rode tricycles.

Then, depicting the future is a chap with what what I believe is a Rover, one of the "modern" designs that would lead to what we ride today. Finally, the winged wheel at the bottom is the icing on the cake.

Enjoy the holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

VIDEO: Tour de Speed

As a masters competitor (over 35 years old), I am at one end of the bicycle-racing spectrum. There are plenty of races and riders, and major events like state, national and even world championships. While it's all great fun, for cycling to grow and thrive we need kids to take it up. Our team Bicycle Trip has a large, well-organized and talented juniors team that we masters support, however, without support like that, it can be challenging to get into the sport.

So, I enjoyed seeing, and wanted to share this video of the Tour de Speed in Canada, an annual stage race (time trial and road race) for girls and boys age 10 to 16. It's put on by the Newmarket Eagles Cycling Club of Newmarket, Ontario as part of the Ontario Cycling Association's Ontario Youth Cup 6-race series. I wish there had been something like this when I started riding.

Tour Of Speed 2010 from Scott K. Douglas on Vimeo.

To view on Vimeo:

Friday, December 10, 2010

VIDEO from USA Cyclocross Nationals

My cyclocross-racing friend John Brown who owns Family Cycling Center here in Santa Cruz, let me know about this excellent video by Logan that captures the action of the Masters Women's 45-49 USA National Championship Cyclocross Race today in Bend, Oregon. Check out that stair run. Ouch!
To view on YouTube:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jim's Bicycle Gift Guide

Here are a few gift suggestions sure to please the cyclists on your list. Keep in mind that you can roll into any bicycle shop and find plenty of other cycling gifts from staples like socks and gloves, tools and spare tires and tubes, to complete bicycles.

Many shops offer valuable services they'll love, too, such as bike fits, bicycle tune-ups and overhauls or upgrade packages to turn her old bike into a thoroughbred. Plus, stores often have gift certificates and cards. Or, pick up one of my suggestions below.
Crud Catcher Roadracer Fenders

Crud Catcher Roadracer Fenders, $45

This is a super-cool and functional seasonal accessory for anyone who owns a full-on road racing bicycle - the racier, the better. These sleek machines typically have almost no clearance between the wheels and frame, so it’s difficult to impossible to find full fenders that fit - especially on sculpted carbon framesets.

Plus, even if they find fenders for it, they look all wrong on their two-wheel Ferrari. Enter Crud Catcher’s Roadrace fenders, incredibly minimal full fenders that weigh only 180 grams per pair, provide exceptional coverage to keep them and their bike dry and clean, and perhaps most amazingly, actually complement the elegant look of their dream bike.

Feedback Sports Stand
Feedback Sports Pro-Classic Repair Stand, $200

If they like to work on their own bicycles (and what cyclist doesn’t?), they’ll love getting Feedback Sports’ Pro-Classic Repair Stand. It has a sturdy tripod base, their simple-to-use and safe Slide-Lock clamp, an adjustable working height from 42 to 71 inches (short or tall they’ll wrench in comfort) and 360-degree bicycle rotation for easy access to all systems. It also folds small and weighs only 11 pounds so they can use it at home and on the road. I’ve been using an early version of this stand for over 10 years and it has been exceptional.

If you'd like to help equip them to actually get some work done on their new stand, consider gifting them a few key tool that every bicycle mechanic needs, and that most shops stock, such as a nice pedal wrench, an allen wrench set and a bicycle cable cutter (a special tool that cuts bicycle cables without fraying).

DeFeet Wool Gloves
DeFeet DuraGlove Charcoal Merino Wool Gloves and Woolie Boolie Charcoal Merino Wool Socks, $18.50 and $15

Give them the gift of comfort with DeFeet’s Merino wool gloves and socks. They insulate, breathe and wick moisture away from the skin to keep their fingers and toes warm and dry on all their winter rides. Plus, wool is unique in that it will keep them warm even when it's wet.

The gloves feature silicone grippers on the palms and fingers for excellent braking and shifting control. Both socks and gloves are machine washable for easy care and impressively durable for long life. They're quite popular for cyclocross racing and every bit as useful for everyday wear.

IMBA Mountain Biking Calendar
VeloPress Cycling Calendars, $14.95 each

Whether they're a professional road-racing fan, a mountain biker, a triathlete or just getting into the sport, VeloPress has calendars that'll remind them of you and inspire them all year long with beautiful action shots from the top photographers of some of the most famous races and racers in the world.

Choose from the VeloNews Road Racing Calendar, the IMBA Mountain Biking Calendar and the Inside Triathlon Calendar. Also on the VeloPress site is a wide assortment of cycling books they'd love to read on bike maintenance, nutrition, racing history and even cycling fiction.

Shimano Ultegra Wheelset WH-6700, $695

Shimano Ultegra Tubeless Wheelset
Every road rider will love a second set of wheels, and Shimano’s WH-6700s are no ordinary hoops. Even though they’re significantly less expensive, they boast most of the features of Shimano’s top-line Dura-Ace wheels and only weigh about 138 grams more. What’s most special about these wheels, and why your giftee will be thrilled to get them is that they accept tubeless tires (I recommend Hutchinson Fusion 3 tires).

This means they’ll enjoy noticeably smoother, more-efficient rides and suffer fewer flat tires too. Plus, they boast all of Shimano’s wheel-design wizardry, from the bladed, direct-pull stainless-steel spokes (20 rear, 16 front), to the ideal 24/23mm (F/R) aero rim profiles, to the reliable, easily serviced Ultegra hubs, to the 8-/9-/10-speed Shimano/SRAM cassette compatibility and the included Shimano quick releases and special tubeless valves. I've been riding on Shimano tubeless wheels since they were first introduced and I believe tubeless technology is one of the most significant improvements in ride quality available today. It's nice that you can now get it at a lower price point.

CatEye HL-EL135 Headlight, $20

CatEye HL-EL135 Headlight
When they said the best things come in small packages they could have been talking about CatEye’s miniature marvel, the HL-EL135. It’s only 3 ¼ x 1 ⅞ x ¾ inches (L x W x H) and takes up so little handlebar space that you’ll hardly know it’s there, and you’ll have room for other accessories too. Plus, CatEye’s simple tool-free FlexTight constricting-band mount lets you put it on any-diameter bar in seconds.

Best, it boasts 3 brilliant white LEDs powered by 2 standard AA batteries, steady and flashing modes and the beam is boosted by CatEye’s OptiCube reflector to ensure you’re seen. Note that this is a minimal light designed for safety, which is the kind of light I like to use on my bike. It's so small you can carry it in your pocket or backpack and always have it available.

If your cyclist needs a wide, powerful beam to illuminate roads and trails for hours on end, you'll want to consider that gift certificate at your bicycle shop I mentioned. With it they can visit and select their ideal torch. There are just too many features and price points to take a chance on gifting them the wrong light if they need that type.

Crank Brothers Multi 17
Crank Brothers Multi 17 Mini-Tool, $27

Gift them a little insurance on all their rides with this invaluable stocking stuffer from Crank Brothers. The Multi 17 all-in-one provides all the tools they need to fix minor breakdowns on the road and trail from tightening a loose part, to truing a warped wheel, to fine-tuning the shifting, to fixing a broken chain, to just about anything else that could go wrong.

And this nifty ride-saver is a folding design so it's compact enough to always take along and all the tools are easily accessed and built to last. There's also nothing that can fall off and get lost, and it's available in grey and gold.

Giro Prolight Helmet, $200
Giro Prolight Helmet

If your favorite cyclist has been riding for years, the chances are good that he's using a helmet that's a few years old. Do him a huge favor and gift him Giro's new Prolight, a super-light (184 to 218 grams depending on size), ultra-comfortable lid that'll make him feel like he left his helmet home.

The best part is that it's so light it takes less effort to hold your head up so he'll feel great no matter how far he rides. And, this featherweight has impressive safety and comfort features, too, such as Giro's tough Inmold construction, 25 air-channeling vents to keep him dry, Giro's easily adjusted and secure Roc Loc SL fitting system and antimicrobial X-static helmet pads that feel great and eliminate odors.

Specialized S-Works Road Shoes
Specialized S-Works Road Shoes, $350

Okay, $350 is a lot, even for a pair of serious road shoes, but the S-Works are actually so advanced they'll probably make your cyclist feel like a new rider (that's what they did for me). What they'll notice right out of the box is the lightness (about 235 grams per pair in size 42), which means energy savings on every pedal stroke. It's courtesy of the Specialized FACT high-modulus, unidirectional carbon soles and the featherweight and breathable Micromatrix uppers.

The lightness is great but the stiffness of these shoes is off the charts, and it's an amazing feeling of more power when you hit the gas to flatten a hill or close a gap. They'll also love the dual Boa closures that allow them to dial in the perfect fit and the Specialized High Performance footbeds that offer excellent support and prevent hot spots. Yet, the most impressive feature may be Specialized's Body Geometry design, which helps align their feet with their knees so that they pedal more efficiently and comfortably, and remain injury free mile after glorious mile.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Q&A: Fixing Dented Deep-Dish Carbon Wheel & Lacing Spokes

Winter's a great time to get your equipment ready for next season and to work on your mechanical skills, like wheelbuilding. From this week's mailbag, here are two related Q and As with feedback and photos from the cyclists showing their handiwork.

This first question is from my Bicycle Trip/Symantec teammate Miles, who is one of our top 45+ masters racers.

Dented carbon rim
Q: Hope you can help me out, Jim. I wanted to make my race bike even faster with some deep-dish carbon sew-up (tubular) wheels. I did my research and decided to buy some made by Edge, which have a great reputation (FYI, they changed their name to Enve recently).

These are pricey wheels so I decided to search eBay and I found what looked to be the perfect pair at a sweet price.

I won the auction, but when the wheels arrived I was depressed to find a large dent in the front rim. Here's a photo. Did I get ripped off? Should I send the wheels back? They're very true and round and all the spokes are nice and tight. I can't see any other signs of damage but I hate this dent. What would you do?


A: You said the wheel is very true and round and all the spokes are nice and tight. That's good, Miles. As long as there's no other damage (did you check for cracks in the rim where the spokes enter it?) - the dent is probably only cosmetic damage not unlike when a shopping cart rolls into and dents your car. It's ugly and frustrating, but it won't affect the strength of the wheel.

Tall, deep-dish carbon rims like this are often pretty flimsy. You can squeeze them and make the sidewalls flex a lot so it's easy to see how someone running into the wheels in the race pack could have done this. Or maybe, just putting them in the back of a car and someone putting something on top of the wheel dented it. So, it pays to watch out for stuff like this.

Why don't you bring the wheel over to my home workshop and I'll check it out and see if it's fixable? I'm thinking we can pop it out similar to how you'd get a dent out of a car fender.