Husker Dü, First Revü

Had a chance to mount up the Husker Dus today, on the Mukluk.

Preface: the only tires I’ve ridden on the Schweet Muk are my Big Fat Larrys (4.7″).  They measure an actual 4.1″, mounted on 80mm wide Rolling Darryls, measured to the outside edge of the tread lugs.

They’re holding up quite well, with quite a few miles on them.  I’ve had occasional problems with the valves in the Surly tubes not holding up well, and I’ve had a few flats from bushwhacking the Muk through uncharged territories, but no tire issues.  I’ve actually ridden them with tire pressures as low as 3.5psi in the front and 5psi in the rear…in snow.  With the BFLs, the Muk weighs in at…

The BFLs themselves, again with quite a few miles on them (~1,000) weigh in at…

3 pounds, 3 ounces, or 1440 grams.

A tire lever is convenient to get the BFLs popped off the rim on one side, but they then peel off easily.  Those are the 120tpi BFLs, by the way.

The Husker Düs are the new ‘lightweight’ 120tpi tires.  They’re supposed to weigh about 1240 grams, and are rated as a 4″ wide tire.  Mine weighed in at 1270 and 1280 grams, so close to the rating.

In comparison to the BFLs, the Husker Düs save about 170-180 grams per tire, or about 0.4 pounds per tire.  I was hoping to drop a full pound of rotating mass, but that would require changing the tubes to something lighter, or going tubeless.

On that note, I’m contemplating going tubeless, but want to confirm that I really like the Husker Düs, before I dü it.

Mounted up, the Düs measure out about 3.5″ wide, again going lug to lug.  (Note: all of those measurements are at 8.5psi).

The BFLs have a nice round profile on the Rolling Darryls.  The Düs have a pretty round profile as well:

They look good on the Mukluk–very aggressive.

They don’t look nearly as big as the BFLs (that extra 0.6″ in width is very noticeable), but the tread is far more imposing.  I mounted up the rear Dü backwards, as the reports I’ve read have suggested that this is the best mounting for traction.

For as aggressive as they are, they roll pretty nicely on asphalt.  I haven’t had a chance to ride them on the trail yet, but I’m looking forward to it.  The beads seated easily, and mounting them was a completely tool-free experience.

In fact, on that note, the beads are really, really loose.  They’re loose enough that it takes some concentration to keep the tire on the rim when you’re trying to pump enough air into the tire to seat the bead.  I was really, really surprised by how pliable and loose the bead was–definitely more so than the BFLs.

I’ll give some updates as soon as I get a chance to put some miles in.


Wednesday Night Crits at the Pelladrome

This past Wednesday, BPaul and I headed to West Chicago, for the Wednesday night crits at the Pelladrome.  What is the Pelladrome, you ask?  It’s an industrial park by the Pella windows facility in West Chicago that, due to the economy, only has one building on it.  There is a nice oval asphalt roadway intended to serve a number of commercial sites, which is basically unused.

North is to the top, in that picture.  Laps are done clockwise, with the start/finish basically where the green marker is.  On Wednesday, the wind was pretty strong and out of the South/Southwest…so you’d start, make the 90 degree turn at the upper right corner of the picture and immediately head into the wind…take the next gentle curve into the wind, do the back stretch with a strong angular crosswind, loop the next curve with a 90 degree crosswind, shoot the fourth curve with a tailwind, and then hit the home stretch with an angular tailwind.  One loop is around 8/10 of a mile.  Here’s the home stretch:

Temps were in the 90s, with a blowdryer wind and some nice, hot asphalt to ride on.  Here’s BPaul warming up:

The Ridley, ready for action.

Yours truly, getting ready to line up:

Note that I’m sporting NCC colors.  I’m not entirely certain that this is the kind of publicity that a bike shop wants, but at least I was riding slowly enough that people could read my jersey.

My whole jersey.

At least I look the part.  Kind of.

They have 3 “races.”

The first race is the Cat 5 race.  Those who have 10 or fewer ‘group start’ races under their belt, such as yours truly, line up at the front, and take off.

The second race is a mixed race.  Cat 4/5 line up at the front and are started, with Cat 1/2/3 behind.  When the Cat 4/5 group is about halfway around the track, the Cat 1/2/3 are set off.  The gist of this race is staying in front of the Cat 1/2/3 as long as possible, and if/when they catch you, you try to hang onto the lead group.

The final race is the open race.  All riders start together, en masse, and the race is off.

I learned a number of things in my first outing at the Pelladrome.  These are all “well, d’uh” kind of lessons–but in thinking through the night, they are lessons that, while obvious, are nonetheless important to contemplate.

1.  Don’t Pull.  I really can’t subscribe to this theory, but it is a dominant one.  In the first lap of the Cat 5 race (and I use the term “race” loosely throughout this post), it was nearly a competition to see who could ride the slowest…and who would pull.  As it ended up, they called a sprint on the first lap, so on the back straight, when I got sick of riding 12mph, I picked up the pace to ~20mph.  When I rounded the 3rd corner, I picked up the pace to ~25mph, and looked over my shoulders–no takers.  Rounding out the fourth corner, I upped the pace to around 28 mph and held it steady.

2.  If you’re going to Sprint, Sprint.  I had thought that no one was going to challenge on that first sprint…so I had just raised my pace to something that was sustainable, and did not prepare to sprint.  About 50 yards from the start/finish, there was an attack that I, frankly, was unprepared for.  In retrospect, regardless of whether anyone else was attacking, if I was going for that first sprint, I should have sprinted, and not tried to ride it in at a steady speed.  Hence: if you’re going to sprint, sprint.  I don’t have enough juice in my legs to wait it out and respond to a late effort from someone.

3.  If you want to stay on the lead, stay on the lead.  Off that first sprint, 2 riders went (BPaul and another gent).  I had anticipated that the ‘peloton’ would up its speed and run them down rapidly, so I decided to conserve energy and did not sprint to catch that 2 person breakaway.  This was a mistake.  In retrospect, if it’s a short race that I want to be competitive in, I would work to stay on the lead riders no matter what.  Tactics can only do so much when the race is 6-7 miles long.

4.  If you want to ride faster, ride faster.  During the winter, I did the indoor nationals at NCC.  In that competition, I rode above my ability, because of my personality.  Riding on a trainer, with no risk of crashing or wiping out, I was able to completely focus on pedaling, and was able to fully exert myself to 100% of capacity.  When I would sprint at the end of a ride, or muscle up the last, insanely steep climb, I was pushing into the zone where your eyesight starts to go red, and your head feels like it’s going to explode.  I was doing that because there were no consequences to reaching 100%–I could push as hard as possible, and the worst that could happen would be falling off a stationary bike.  Riding on the road again this summer, I’m finding that I rarely push myself to anywhere near 100%.  Even on sprints and fast rides, I’m holding back.  I think I could ride faster if I simply chose to ride faster–to burn more–to push harder.  I’m going to experiment with that a bit, in the coming weeks, still keeping a safety margin so I don’t wipe out a group of my friends.

5.  The less you brake, the less you slow down.  Yup.  I felt very confident diving into corners on the Ridley–it handles like it is on rails.  With smooth, clean asphalt, there were a number of times when I was able to overtake other riders as they braked to go through the first corner.  I’m finding that oftentimes, riding a bike is like dogfighting (airplanes–think Top Gun, not Michael Vick), in that the key to doing well is energy management.  In an airplane, energy is measured in speed and altitude; you can trade speed for altitude, or altitude for speed.  How you expend your energy has a huge impact on whether or not you are able to outfight an opponent.  In biking, we don’t have so much control over altitude, but we can control our braking, our application of power, our drafting…we control when and how we burn our matches.  Thinking more carefully about how I use what power I have is going to have an impact on riding.  If I can carry more speed through a corner by not braking, that is less energy that I have to expend to get back up to speed after the corner.

For the final, all-in race, here’s the group circling the back stretch of the Pelladrome.

When we started the last race, the announcer immediately called out a sprint lap…that meant that there was a sprint competition the first time we came across the start/finish line.  In that picture above, I’m on the outside line, about 20% back from the front, in the pack.  We rounded that next (third) corner, and I could see the guys at the front of the pack.  They weren’t speeding up.  They weren’t sprinting.  I knew it was a sprint lap, and I couldn’t understand why no one was going.  Having learned my “if you’re going to sprint, sprint” lesson, I dropped 2 gears and started hauling.

As we rounded the fourth corner and picked up a tailwind, I was cranking–about 32mph–and no one was giving chase.  I flew past the leaders on that lap and, quite serendipitously, happen to have a picture of me pulling to the front just before the start-finish line.  So yes, that really happened.

I then found out why no one in the group was going for it…unbeknownst to me, there were 2 riders who had taken off the front at the very, very beginning, who were a good 1/4 lap out in front.  So in effect, I had just done a massive effort sprint for third place.  On the first lap.  I also have a picture of me at the point where I realized what had happened:

The other interesting phenomenon of the last race, being a longer race, was how the Cat 3/4/5 guys rode it.  I rode as hard as I could to stay on the pack for as long as I could, and we were averaging ~23-24 mph per lap (slower into the wind, faster with the wind).  When I lost the ability to hang on, I kept riding as hard as I could, albeit by myself (the pack had dissolved into many little groups).  At that point, I was averaging ~21mph, which was my maximum sustainable effort, this being my third race of the night.

I noticed that most guys who fell off the pace would go to the outside, take a lap sitting up and pedaling very slowly (as in ~10mph), and would then sprint back into the race, a lap down, and try to get on a fast group.  In retrospect, that probably is a better approach to building speed and sprint abilities for criteriums than my steady-state effort approach.  I do know, clearly, that I need to work on my sprint efforts.  I think sprinting is going to become my full-time solo-ride pursuit, replacing the ‘long slow miles’ and ‘max sustainable pace for 30 miles’ type rides.

The “don’t pull” comment is one that I’m not going to take to heart.  I’m still going to pull, and I’m still going to carry my share of the load.  But in a race…

Use Strava, Get Sued?


Just saw this story on Bike Radar about thieves using Strava and similar websites to trace owners of fancy bikes back to their houses, by looking at posted routes.  Craaaaazy!

End of update.

Many folks in the cycling world have seen and commented on the recent litigation initiated against Strava, relating to the death of a cyclist.  Bike Radar’s coverage of the litigation is here.

If you’ve been living under a Rock, Strava is a GPS related app that allows you to create routes and upload them to a public database, with your ride time.  Other riders can follow your route, and try to beat your time.  In the inverse, you can select someone else’s route, and try to beat their time.  The rider with the fastest time on a given segment acquires the title of “King of the Mountain.”

There was a rider who had set a KoM time on a public street in Berkeley, CA. Some time thereafter, he saw that another rider (we’ll call him the Faster KoM Rider)  had bested his time, and he went out to try to improve upon it.  In the process of doing so, he was riding over 40mph in a posted 30mph zone, collided with a car, and suffered mortal injuries.  His family has now sued Strava, claiming that they are liable for his death.

Those twisty, turny roads are the roads that he was riding at the time of his accident.

Many people have been commenting on whether or not this litigation makes any sense.  I tend to fall into what seems to be the majority consensus that the suit is pretty ridiculous.  That said, I haven’t seen anyone analyzing what the big picture impact of this litigation is.  Strava is a big company, with significant revenue to be able to cover its costs of defense, and almost certainly with liability insurance coverage to protect itself.

What about you?

The suit here is someone claiming that Strava was negligent by creating the KoM system, where riders engage in ‘competition’ without any protection.  Here, they sued Strava.  But what about the Faster KOM Rider?  What if the decedent’s family claimed that the Faster KOM Rider took the KOM title by riding in a negligent or unlawful fashion, and that when the decedent tried to follow or beat that time, it exposed him to unreasonable risk of harm?

Breaking News: Strava User Sues Faster KoM Rider, Claiming that King of Mountain Time and Route were Unreasonably Dangerous and Caused Cycling Injury.

That sounds far fetched, right?  But isn’t the reflexive reaction to the whole Strava lawsuit based on the public perception that the real suit is far fetched?  What is to stop someone who is injured while trying to beat your Strava time from suing you?  Nothing.  So if you go out and post a KoM time, and someone tries to post a better time than you and gets hurt…there is no reason you couldn’t be sued.

In Strava’s case, they will undoubtedly assert that the decedent released any claims against Strava by agreeing to their terms and conditions, which include a waiver/release of claims.  Strava’s waiver is here.  In short, users agree that cycling/running/exercise is dangerous, they agree to waive and release any claims or potential claims against Strava (both for themselves and for their successors, heirs and assigns.  In other words, the users are completely releasing Strava.

Of note, Strava could have chosen to include language here to waive claims against other riders, but did not do so.  Instead of just waiving claims against Strava and its employees, Strava could have included language that a user of Strava agrees to release any other user of Strava, as well.  Such language would offer at least some protection against another Strava user suing you based on a theory such as the one being advanced in this litigation.

Think this concept sounds scary?  Let me make it a bit scarier.

Breaking News:  Strava Sues Strava User for Attorneys Fees and $10,000,000 Judgment, Based on Contractual Indemnity Agreement.

Assume that the ‘real’ Strava lawsuit goes forward.  The terms and conditions linked above do not just release claims against Strava…they also carry an indemnity provision.  I’ll quote the indemnity here:

You agree to indemnify and hold Strava and its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, representatives, employees, partners and licensors harmless from any claim or demand, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, made by any third party due to or arising out of Content you submit, post, transmit or otherwise seek to make available through the Site, your use of the Site, your athletic activities which generate the Content you post or seek to post on the Site (including, but not limited to, athletic activities in connection with any contests, races, group rides, or other events which Strava sponsors, organizes, participates in, or whose Site is used in connection with), your connection to the Site, your violation of the Terms, or your violation of any rights of another person or entity.

What does that mean?  That means that if you do something and Strava gets sued as a result, you agree to not only pay Strava’s legal fees…you also pay any judgment entered against them.  So in the ‘real’ Strava lawsuit, Strava could file a suit against the Raster KoM Rider.  The ‘real’ Strava lawsuit arises out of a KoM time and related content that the user posted to Strava, and is a third party claim based on that posted material…that’s enough to invoke the indemnity.  So at least in theory, the Faster KoM Rider is on the hook to defend Strava and to pay any judgment entered against them.

If Strava incurs $500,000 in legal fees defending the case, they could go after the faster KoM rider to pay those fees.  If a $10,000,000 judgment is entered against Strava, they could go after the Faster KoM Rider to pay it.  Folks, this isn’t far-fetched.  This is exactly how the plain language of their terms of service read.

For that matter, forget about Strava users.  What if someone goes and tries to beat my KoM time, and in the process nails a little old lady crossing the street?  She isn’t a party to the waiver at all.  She can sue the rider that hit her, Strava and me.  If she’s just looking for deep pockets and only files suit against Strava…they can sue me on the indemnity language, and put me on the hook for their defense.

From a marketing/publicity perspective, it would be a huge problem for Strava if they sued one of their riders.  But why in the heck would they include this language in their terms and conditions if they didn’t want the right to be able to use it?  Think twice about that one.

I would respectfully suggest that Strava should immediately amend its Terms and Conditions to indicate that users not only waive claims against Strava and its employees…but also waive claims against other Strava users.  That’s a simple, no cost step they could take to offer users at least some protection.  It doesn’t impact their liability in any way–it would just take a minor tweak in their language.  (It almost certainly is possible to make such a waiver enforceable, with the “other users” being what the law refers to as intended third-party beneficiaries of the waiver agreement).

I would also respectfully suggest that Strava should explain what they’re thinking with the indemnity.  I completely understand if they want a user to indemnify Strava against any claims from the user himself–like the underlying ‘real’ lawsuit.  If I’m using Strava and I crash, I shouldn’t be able to sue Strava (in my opinion).  But if someone else uses Strava, tries to beat my time, gets injured and sues Strava, is it really fair to expect me to pay for their defense and indemnity?

My guess is that 99.9% of Strava users have never read the terms and conditions, and those that have read the terms have never considered what the indemnity means.  If you use Strava and sign on to those terms, you’re taking on a big risk.  It may seem like a longshot, but then again, doesn’t the whole ‘real’ lawsuit seem pretty ridiculous?  And again, why would Strava include the language if they didn’t want to be able to use it?

The most shocking thing to come out of the Strava lawsuit isn’t the fact that someone would file what seems like a frivolous lawsuit–that happens all of the time.  The most shocking thing is the potential liability for all Strava users, either to Strava or the rest of the world.  For those who might think that hiding behind a username and ghost email address offers some protection, look how successful that was for the people who thought they were untraceable when illegally downloading music.  If Strava wants to find a user, with the information they have (IP address, emails, when and where you ride, who you talk with online, etc.), they’ll find you.  A few simple changes would help this situation a great deal.

Straight Outta Campton. (Hills).

Yesterday, my schedule was full.  Full enough that I didn’t get a chance to electronically recognize (i.e. blog about) a moment I had on my Monday morning ride.

Knowing that the schedule was full, I set my alarm for shortly before 5am, so I’d have time to get up and put in a good ride.  When I awoke, it was 60 degrees out, with a 13-15mph wind out of the Northeast.  I decided to head up Lafox Road, continuing down it once it becomes Burlington Road around Campton Hills, and to head to the Northwest until I ran out of time.  That would give me a ~40-60 degree front cornering headwind on the way out, and a similar cornering tailwind on the way home.

60 is by no means chilly, but opening the garage door, the coolness and stillness of the morning struck me.  I strapped on my shoes, clipped into the Ridley, waited for the Garmin to beep ready, and headed out.  The ride out was nice.  No traffic, steady wind, beautiful sunrise on the horizon.

As I headed out Lafox, just around Fox Mill, there’s a longish hill.  I was headed Northbound, and saw one of the area’s constables sitting at the base of the hill, running radar.  For Southbound drivers in the area, you’d drive through downtown Wasco and be headed out of town…up a little rise…and then down the backside of this hill with a gently sweeping right hand turn at the bottom.  It’s a perfect spot to let your car get away a little bit…until you round out the corner and find the 5-0 sitting there.

Anyhow, the ride out was great and I felt strong (I always feel better in the morning).  Pushing my time limits just a bit, I rode 16 miles out and planned on a 32 mile total ride (out and back).

On the way back, as I came through Wasco, I thought about the police officer and wondered if he was still there.  It’s a posted 45mph zone, so I wasn’t at risk of speeding, but as I came through Wasco, I upped the intensity a bit.  Coming up to the gentle rise before the hill, I dropped 2 gears and rose out of the saddle.

The Ridley jumped ahead with every stroke of the pedals, feeling more like a racehorse than a road bike–chomping at the bit to go faster.

Ordinarily, I might crest the hill, drop back in the saddle, and reduce my intensity a bit.  But on this morning, I dropped 2 more gears, bottoming out the cassette…I moved my hands to the drops and applied tension, feeling the subtle give in the handlebars…and I pushed through the pedals, spinning with a full effort.  I rounded out the corner and continued on, up and over the next hill, through the intersection, up the next hill, and to the stoplight–where I had to stop for a red.

As I squeezed the clamps down on the ENVEs, I took a moment to calm my breathing, dipped my left heel out to the click of clipless pedals releasing, and paused at the stoplight.  The sun was high enough that its rays hit me with a shot of warmth, burning the dew of the morning off.  The Ridley’s metallic blue details glimmered in the sunlight, still clean from this weekend’s bath.  I had completely forgotten about the police officer, the hills, and the worries of the world.  For a couple minutes, it was just a very close relationship between the bike and I, and I realized I was standing at this stoplight, with no traffic visible in any direction, grinning like an idiot.

I ride to stay healthy.  I ride to be with friends and family.  I ride to get faster.  And yesterday, I rode for the joy of riding.

Ridley Noah is the tool.  Don’t make me act the spandex-wearing fool.  When I come back, boy, I’m comin’ straight outta Campton.  (Hills).