Details to follow.
Details to follow.
While browsing Ye Olde Twitter Feed this morning, I saw this tweet from @outsidemagazine:
The link leads to an article that gives good, albeit unoriginal, practical advice to: 1) be predictable; 2) be visible; and, 3) be cautious. Brief content criticism: this would have been an excellent opportunity to talk about advocacy and efforts that one can undertake to be proactive in changing the culture in your area, rather than being reactive and wearing bright vests. So another quasi-lame, regurgitated article on “bike safety”.
That’s not why I’m upset.
I’m upset because Outside, undoubtedly trying to drum up clicks from their twitter feed, talks about “the war between bikes and cars.” Outside is a voice for many things relating to the great outdoors. They’re often in a position of advocacy for environmentalism and outdoor recreation, and cover outdoors related subjects in a positive light. For them to talk about a “war” between cars and bikes cheapens their editorial position.
First off, it’s not a war. Anyone who would call a conflict between cars and cyclists a war clearly doesn’t understand what a war is. A “car versus bike battle” isn’t a fight–it’s a slaughter. The force dynamics so overwhelmingly favor the car that it’s a ridiculous analogy. Car ends up scuffed, cyclist ends up dead. Does that sound like a war? More often than not, car versus cyclist “battles” sound more like murders. To play this off as a “war” cheapens the deaths of so many cyclists.
Second, the war analogy brings with it a ton of negative baggage. It implies that cyclists and motorists should be adversarial–should be violent–should be fighting. It implies that all is fair in a conflict between motorists and cyclists, just as “all is fair in love and war.” It implies that motorists have to watch out for warring cyclists, and have to defend themselves. Who goes “into battle” against a 6,000 pound SUV, armored with a thin layer of lycra? Do we have to start thinking about the road as a battlefield? Should we be talking less about responsible riding and more about tactics?
This one slip of the editorial tongue continues to allow the dialogue and the discussion of motorist/cyclist interaction to escalate in violence. It continues to nurture the seed of perception that this is a fight–and a fair fight at that.
If we are going to effect meaningful change, we have to change how we are perceived. Using terminology of war or conflict perpetuates negative connotations, at best, and worsens the way society perceives cyclists, at worst. It was a cheap shot for Outside, and one that I’m ashamed to see. What bothers me the most about this tweet is that it shows whomever is writing the social media feed for Outside totally doesn’t get it. They don’t see that they’re reinforcing harmful stereotypes that put cyclists’ (and Outside subscribers’) lives in danger.
Are the roads more or less safe than they were a year or two ago? I don’t know. I haven’t seen any legitimate studies talking about accurate statistics describing injuries or fatalities per vehicle miles travelled–something that would account for the increasing popularity of cycling in a truly representative fashion. I know that I’m more aware of car versus cyclist incidents because of the work I do with Axletree, but simply because I’m aware of more incidents doesn’t mean that, on the whole, more incidents are occurring. Even if there is a “war”, is it escalating, or is this just Outside’s hyperbole? Of course, this is a hypothetical question as Outside provides no basis in their article to conclude that the “war” is “escalating.”
It’s about getting clicks, not about being accurate or socially responsible.
can should do better.
I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with a gluten allergy, and he asked for some pointers on living with it. I get this question a lot, and decided to memorialize an answer here. I’ll try to update this post periodically as I have more thoughts. This is quick and dirty at the outset.
I’ve had a chance to put a few miles on the Moots of late. One of the most important parts of the bike, from my perspective, is the drivetrain choice.
The drivetrain is Shimano Ultegra Di2 shifters, hydro brakes, XT 6 bolt rotors, Ultegra derailleurs, and Dura-Ace Cranks and cassette…so Dura Ace where there was a weight difference, and Ultegra elsewhere.
The brakes are amazing. That’s the initial review. Lever feedback, engagement and precision is GREATLY improved over the SRAM Red 22 hydros I used to have. The Ultegras have a useful range of motion…as you move the lever, you get great, perceptible feedback on how the brakes are performing. Controlling modulation and lockup is incredibly easy. I had expected the brakes to perform similarly to the SRAM, and I’m blown away by how much better they are. The only downside is that I have a very minor, almost imperceptible wave in my front rotor…and I can tell because under light braking, the brake lever pulses…they’re that tactile/sensitive.
How’s the drivetrain, you ask? Well, 50/34 cranks and 11-28 cassette. It works, perfectly, under all conditions. Shift under power? Absolutely. Cross-chain? It’ll self-trim and avoid any chain rub. Want to fire off a bunch of shifts? No problem. Shift with gloves on? Absolutely. Shift and hit every gear, every time, even when churning through mud? Yes, yes, yes.
One of my favorite part about the shifters is that the brake levers do not move laterally. On mechanical Shimano, there is a small trigger to shift one way, and the brake levers move laterally (inboard) to shift the other way. I never liked that, as it felt like the brake levers were trying to move away from me when grabbing brakes, particularly with gloves on. The Di2 levers are fantastic in every regard–and reassuring to grab under all conditions.
I’ve put the Moots through its paces just a little bit. I’ll give feedback on the geometry changes over the coming days…today’s just about drivetrain. And what a drivetrain it is. This is the best shifting, easiest to use drivetrain I’ve ever ridden, bar none. It is perceptibly better than the last Di2 I rode. And again, I cannot overemphasize how amazing the brakes are. I firmly believe that Hydro is the way to go. The high-profile failure of the SRAM hydros (which I loved until they failed) made me question my beliefs a bit…but the Shimanos have restored my faith in hydraulics. More importantly, the Shimanos have shown me just how good hydros can be. They are head and shoulders above the SRAM hydros in terms of modulation (which themselves are head and shoulders above any mechanical brake). We’ll see, over time, how durability is. For now, I am smitten.
Initial Moots impression: This is as good as it gets. I look at this bike, and have no idea how one could ever hope to “upgrade”.
Unlike many of my counterparts, I’m not a lifelong biker. I’ve been serious only for a few years. I haven’t had the chance to live through a ton of bike trends, and see the product life cycles develop. It’s with a keen sense of interest that I watch developments in the fatbike world.
I’m not at NAHBS, so I don’t have any new or original reporting from there. I’ll send you over to Bikeradar to see some of the pretty bikes coming out, or over to Bike Rumor for talk of new carbon rims or similar news. I see two really interesting trends coming out of this.
First, I continue to think that the most important fatbike breakthrough will be a hard tail fatbike with a commercially viable, mass-market suspension fork. Yes, I know there are some forks out there–both commercial products and adaptations. I don’t think any of the current offerings are true, mass-market parts. I do think we will have a mass market fork this calendar year. I do think that will be a game changer for getting even more people to look at fat bikes as another all-purpose mountain bike option.
Second, I’m struck by how little “newness” there is. There are pretty tubing designs. There are some new tires coming out. There are peripheral products coming out (fatbike racks, etc.). That said, the vast majority of bikes I’m seeing are very narrowly clustered around a few different geometries. I don’t see anything coming out that makes me think, “Wow…I’d look at that instead of a Beargrease.” I’m waiting to see what the next real innovation will be. Given the amount of unsprung weight at issue, I’m not sure that full-suspension fat bikes are necessarily a great idea. We’ll see, I suppose. On my end, my fatbike aspirations are more incremental…lighter rims, etc. I want to see what’s holding up before I plunk down an investment in upgrades, though.
Just about every issue of Mountain Bike Action has a shootout between 26, 27.5 and 29er bikes. How will we know when fat bikes have jumped the shark? I’m waiting for the Fat versus Skinny cover story. It’s coming. It’s coming.
In the “worst kept secret” realm, Bike Radar is running a story today about SRAM’s “reveal” of their 1x cyclocross drivetrain, the CX1.
Photo from Bike Radar:
One question posed in the article is whether companies are going to move to 1x drivetrains for road and triathlons. Being a lover of weight reduction, you might think I’d be enthused about this potential. I’m not.
1x for CX races makes a lot of sense. There’s so much off the bike/on the bike, and so much maneuvering and changes in cadence that you don’t really need 2 chainrings. There are rarely opportunities to fine tune your cadence. In fact, in the first ever CX race I did, I dropped my chain when I tried to shift the front chainring. Thereafter, I never touched the front derailleur during a race. (It was well adjusted, but I shifted at an incredibly inopportune time). I can see the benefit of 1×11 for CX.
I can potentially see the benefit for crits as well…depending on gearing. Going with a single chainring and an 11-42 cassette, or 11-36 cassette, or even an 11-32 cassette for a crit seems like a bad idea. But for a relatively flat crit, going to a 1×11 with a large chainring (52/53T) and a narrow-range, close-ratio 11 speed cassette (11-23 or 11-25) makes sense. You’re not using the little chainring anyhow, and the gears would be close enough to be useful.
I won’t comment on tri-bikes, as I’m not a tri-athlete. I’m a do-athlete. (huh-huh).
For general road or gravel use, it strikes me as a terrible idea. I love the XX1 on my Beargrease the vast majority of the time…the wide-range cassette gives me a lot of gearing options. Where I don’t love it is when riding in a group on the road/gravel/path. You simply lack enough ‘close’ gears in the working range to be able to make critical adjustments in cadence. You’re often just a little bit over or under-geared. The problem isn’t in having only 11 gears; the problem is having 11 gears covering a wide range. For our road rides around here, the vast majority of your time is spent in the big chainring. Having a 1x setup with a large chainring and a narrow-ratio cassette would work for much of what we do…if you’re willing to give up the lower gears. Trying to hang on the group rides with a wide-ratio, 11 speed cassette will put you in a condition where you don’t have the right ratios for the speed of the pack.
In fact, even with a 20-22 speed drivetrain, I find myself wanting to narrow my gear range. I’ve always had an 11-28 cassette on my road bike, believing that I need that low gear (even with a 53/39 crankset). As I refine my bike specs through greater experience, I’m going to an 11-25 cassette, to get my gears closer together, and to give myself the ability to fine-tune my cadence more on a road ride. I’m not ditching the 2 chainring setup anytime soon, as a 53-25 low gear is not low enough, even for Illinois, unless you confine yourself to sucking on every incline. (Similarly, on my Moots, I’ve gone from an 11-32 cassette as I used to have on the Vaya to an 11-28 cassette…now 11 speed. 34/28 is low enough for me, and having more gears in the useful mid-range is worth the loss in ultimate low gearing). The CX1 drivetrain has an 11-32 cassette. A similar cassette on a road or gravel bike, with a larger chainring, would have too big of jumps between gears for my taste…and a narrower-range cassette would not have enough gear spread to accommodate changing conditions / climbs.
So: 1x drivetrain for the road? I’m not going that direction. I’m enthused about 11 speed cassettes on road and gravel, only when combined with a traditional 2 chainring setup. For me, even the benefit of losing some weight up front and gaining simplicity in the drivetrain is greatly offset by the loss in versatility and the reduced ability to fine-tune gearing to match challenging situations on the road or on the gravel.
What’s the over/under on when SRAM releases their electronic drivetrain?
Two totally uncool confessions: 1) I rode the trainer this morning; and, 2) while doing so, I watched Fixation on Netflix.
Fixation, if you aren’t familiar, is all about the single speed / fixed lifestyle. (I was unaware that a specific drivetrain was a lifestyle choice, but am now in the know).
In any event, there were some interesting parts of the psuedo-documentary…but one of the most interesting was a part focused on this young fixie rider named Sean. He lived in LA, and looked much like Sean White. He rode a track bike, very aggressively, and talked about how he wanted to make LA a cycling destination…that when people moved to the US, they would say, “I want to move to LA, not Portland, or San Francisco.” That people would identify LA as a cycling mecca.
Right after this statement, we cut to clips of him riding all over LA. Making right turns in front of cars from the left lane. Blowing through red lights. Nearly clipping pedestrians. Weaving all over. Riding totally unpredictably, and in a fashion that most certainly inspired ire from fellow road users.
What truly shocked me about this behavior wasn’t the behavior…it was that he didn’t see the inherent hypocrisy in his actions. We cannot create a cycling destination or build a cycling community by being irresponsible, unsafe users of the road. We cannot create a cycling community by making drivers and pedestrians hate us. We cannot protest when drivers violate the laws and hit a cyclist, and then go out and violate all of the traffic laws ourselves, in a highly visible way.
Thinking about our behavior in an intentional way, modeling good behavior, building a good environment for cycling–these can all be hard things to do. But a community built on fundamental mistrust between people using the same infrastructure simply won’t work.
It’s surprising how often I explain something in my life–some personality trait, some ability I have, some story I relate–by telling people that I grew up on a farm. And yes, I really, truly mean on a farm. A functional farm, with hogs and chickens and acres upon acres of corn and soybeans. Bailing hay in the summer, endless days on a 4 wheeler, hours of work. A childhood spent outside. Driving at an improbably young age. Turning wrenches–or at least handing people wrenches–starting shortly after developing the ability to talk. Taking naps in tractor cabs. Seeing my grandfather, my parents, and now my brother’s endless dedication to their work. Seeing the promise of every coming season. Appreciating, and relying upon the change in seasons and the glory of a gentle summer rain.
I work in an environment where I can control the quality of my work, but so much of what I do is impacted by factors beyond my control that are mysterious to understand at best. I think my tolerance for this environment is growing up and seeing how the weather–something we could not control on any kind of direct basis–could make, or literally break a farm.
I was helping someone disassemble something this weekend, and he asked how I got to be so handy. I responded that I grew up on a farm. He nodded as if that’s a wholly plausible explanation. When you say you grew up on a farm, people make certain assumptions about you. When someone asks why I work long hours, I sometimes throw the same response. When they ask how I know about something mechanical, or how I can fix something…same response. In the realm of cycling, enduring hard efforts in a grain bin or on a hayrack prepare you for many of life’s unpleasantries. And yet, time spent in a grain bin is some of the best time I’ve ever spent.
I’ve told this story before, to some close to me, but one of the formative moments of my life came in a corn crib. It was an old, wooden crib with overhead grain storage. To get to the grain storage, you would climb up a 20′, rickety wooden ladder to an improbably small ledge, then pull out another rickety wooden ladder, prop it on the tiny ledge by your feet, and climb up it into the top of the crib (over the open shaft below you). Once you got to the top, you would see the open tops of the wooden bins used to store the grain. They had flat bottoms, and 2 tiny little doors in the bottom that opened…so you’d drain the grain out of them through the doors until it wouldn’t flow anymore…and then you’d climb up into the crib, then down into the bins, and shovel the grain out of the bins.
My brother is 3 years older than I am. He was always bigger and stronger. We always had informal competitions to see who could shovel faster. He always creamed me. But at some point, I grew up.
On this particular day, I challenged him to a shovel-off, and started shoveling in earnest. I was kicking butt–the grain was just disappearing from my side of the bin. I had my head down, shoveling away, and I looked up…to see my brother. He was shoveling from my side. He saw that it was important to me, on this day, to come out ahead. He came over and shoveled for me. He rose above the competition, and he was my teammate. He “disadvantaged” himself to shovel for me. I recognized, right in that minute, that it was an incredible thing. In that moment, I learned a great lesson–and my incredible friendship with my brother became even closer.
I relate this story because it speaks to cycling as well. When I talk about Axletree, and when I go on group rides, I try to keep my brother in mind. When we’re doing a hard ride, we challenge each other. We try to out-shovel each other. But at the end of the day, we’re a team. I’ve had my brothers on bikes take pulls for me when I couldn’t do it–and on those rare occasions where I can do so, I return the favor. I learned this lesson because I grew up on a farm. Others learned it in their own environment. But everyone–everyone who rides in our Axletree group–we all learned it in some way, and we all ride it. We shovel together.
I grew up on a farm.
I love fat bikes. Love them. I also love snow. Love it. Love skiing, playing in the snow, riding in the snow, goofing off with my daughter in the snow…even driving in the snow.
But it’s been a trying winter.
We started getting snow in November. At first, we were all stoked. Actual snow, for actual snow-biking. That sounded rad.
Then it started getting cold. When we had the first subzero temps, I distinctly remember being excited about going out for a ride. It was adventurous. Daring. Something completely new.
Then we got more snow, and more cold. Our horizons were expanded to things like riding on a frozen river, and human curling. It seemed so great. And there was more snow. And more snow. And more snow. And more snow. And lots and lots of snow. So much snow that it started being hard to ride fat bikes in the snow. But still we rode. And rode. And sometimes we walked while pushing our bikes, but mostly we rode. We lowered our air pressure until we had none. We fixed flats, repaired mechanicals, and crashed through ice into chilly water. Our front ends washed out in powder, our back tires slipped in slush.
But it was still fun.
Then came yet more snow. We rode on icey crusts, riding improbable snow pump tracks. My fondness for the Beargrease grew even more profound.
At some point, it became less fun. We still ride, but we’re ready for winter to be over. We’re ready for short sleeves and bib shorts. We’re ready to suffer under a hot sun. I’ve lost all frame of reference. I go out to my car when it’s 20 degrees, without a jacket. I ride when it’s 35 below zero wind chills. I miss the feeling of pedaling skinny tires on a hard road. I miss skittery gravel and flowy single track.
I, a lover of all things winter. I’m ready for this one to end. I’ve formed some truly awesome memories this winter, done some amazing things, helped to host some amazing events, and otherwise had a wonderful time. But my discontent with cold weather riding is now leading to this:
Trainer group rides. It ain’t pretty, folks.
At least I finally got to watch Nitro Circus. (Sorry GMatt).
I’ve been doing some workouts from TrainerRoad.com, using the Quarq power cranks and integrated Bontrager DuoTrap in my Madone, coupled with a dongle (huh-huh…he said dongle) and a laptop. I’ve done a couple of rides to measure my FTP (threshold power), and a few training rides. This morning, I did a workout called the Wheeler. Here it is:
That workout and description both belong to Trainerroad.com. I’m using it here for media/review purposes. I’ll give some more detailed thoughts over the course of the next few weeks, but here are my preliminary thoughts.
So yes, the workouts are hard. Time will tell if they work. Preliminary thoughts on trainer road.com are positive, if you can bring yourself to ride a trainer.