January Morning, a set on Flickr.
Photos from one of my cloudy morning commutes this week. Bikes, birds, Boeings, boats, etc…
RidgeRunner Porteur, a set on Flickr.
I promised some photos of the re-cockpitted Miyata, and it was light out when I rode in today. It was a nice misty day by the time I got downtown. The fog started as I neared the Sound, and I was covered in wet mist by the time I got to work. Another beautiful Seattle commute!
Comments on the setup:
I needed some “dad alone time” tonight, so I did a little work on the Miyata RidgeRunner Team. I like the Rivendell Bosco bars, and have used them for over a year, but it was time for a change. They are huge, and allow an amazing amount of variety, but they started to feel a bit clownish – perhaps it’s the tape job…
I put a VO Porteur setup back on this bike. This was a cockpit I had originally on the Hunqapillar, and liked it quite a bit. I also started out with porteurs on my Hilsen after a bad experience with some of the larger (46cm) Noodles. I rode that configuration for quite a while until I got a bit of hand numbness on a 100k in 2012.
The porteurs are narrow, and have enough reach back towards me that they offer a bit more upright position than drops. They also look cool 🙂
In doing this, I had to replace all the cables due to the length differences. I also went to bar end shifters (indexed Shimano 8-speed). They work fine on the 7-speed cassette, BTW. The bike feels smaller and narrower now. I don’t have the bolt upright feel that I had with the Boscos, but I’m saving them for someday when I need to relax a bit. With more randonneuring coming this year, I need to get used to the more aero position of the drops, and the porteurs aren’t too off.
I’ve thought about selling the Miyata with the forthcoming Soma GR I am planning to build up, but I’m not sure I can do it. I like the bike a lot, and have put a lot of time and effort into reviving it from the ’80’s MTB form I found it in. I will post some pics of the new config in the next week, but for now, here’s the old version.
Shoes. I’m one of those folks that have a bunch of these things – I’ve been a bit obsessed about them at times. I have 3 pairs of clipless shoes, and at this point 5 pairs of sneakers that qualify as bike-first, walking shoes. I’ve had a professional bike fit for my road bike with my SPD pedals. There are some that say clipless is pointless for all but the most dedicated racers, but I think that there is a time and place for many different shoes on bikes. One of my favorite pedals has been the Shimano A530. This pedal has SPD on one side, and flats on the other. I’ve done 300k on these pedals, and have commuted for several years in both SPD and flat shoes.
I’m starting to form some opinions on what shoe, what situation at this point, however, this year I’d like to do at least one ride of 200k plus in sneakers. I was told by my fitter that it’s easier on the legs and knees to be clipped in. The reasoning was explained to me as it makes less work for you as your feet won’t be moving around on the pedal and getting mis-aligned. This seems counter-intuitive to me. I feel like there has to be some give during the pedal rotation in the “play” of your shoe or your knee tendons will be slightly stretched. I think this manifested last year on my longest ride when my right knee went out with 50 miles to go. I don’t know how many folks have knees that are aligned in perfect planes to the pedal rotation – mine definitely aren’t.
Since I’ve been clipping in and out of pedals for 20 years now, I’m pretty comfortable with the technical points. When you start going clipless, do it in the dirt on the hills. It’s like learning to drive a manual transmission first. You get the hardest part out of the way, and master it early. You often have to get clipped in when you’re going up a 20% grade in dirt or mud with rocks and roots in the way, and you quickly learn the key ways to start pedaling and transfer your weight quickly so you can get that second pedal going before you stall. You also learn how to anticipate and unclip (or panic unclip) when you come to a sudden unintentional stop on that rock/root in the trail. If you don’t, it’s a softer landing in the dirt (usually).
Clipping in and out isn’t a problem. It’s really just the longer rides and the stresses it introduces that make me wonder if it’s not a great idea. I also don’t find myself using the real benefits of clipless (picking up the bike, or keeping your feet glued to the pedals when airborne) while I’m riding a road bike. I admit it is nice sometimes when I have to make a quick curb hop, but that’s pretty rare…
Using modern flat sneaker pedals like VP Components Vice or VP001 meant for BMX and freeride mountain biking, along with a sticky-soled shoe like a Five Ten Spitfire (current fave) or Evolv Cruzers has been really interesting to me. It provides such a sticky grip, I find myself having to lift my foot to move it on the pedal. This gives me nearly the feel of clipless, but at stops I don’t have to twist out or clip in, and I can walk around in normal sneakers. This is really great for the following situations:
There are still times I prefer clipless:
On the long rides, I need to work out the trade off between foot pain and knee pain. If I can get the balance just right on the knees, I may be able to keep going clipless, as the roads are generally smooth, and there are minimal stops and long distances involved. We’ll see…
1/16/14 Update: I angled the cleat on my Sidi Spyders to get my right foot out a few degrees. This seems to have helped. I didn’t get any knee soreness this week (yet). I plan to start doing some longer 30+ milers going forward, so we shall see…
This was my best cycling year yet. I rode over 3000 miles on my bikes in 2013, and a couple of the rides were really long. Now, the vast majority of my miles are commuting, and I added to my commute mileage this year by taking a longer route home. It is much more scenic, and it allows me to stay on lightly used trails for the majority of the way. This makes my commute much less stressful, and adds a ton of scenic beauty.
I rode a few events with the Seattle Int’l Randonneurs club this year. It’s still tough to get out as much as I want – it takes a full-day commitment for most of the events, but I’m shooting for more in 2014.
An early March 200k was a good starter for me. The ride went really well, and sold me on the Selle Anatomica Titanico X saddle. I experienced no numbness or pain at the end of the ride. I was also able to do this one right from home, so there was no drive to the start, or long ride home. It helped me get the confidence I needed for August’s 300k.
Another highlight was a ride in early June where some new friends and I went in search of the famous Babyshoe Pass. The folks I camped and rode with were an awesome, eclectic bunch from Portland, Seattle, and Enumclaw.
This was a ride that reminded me how much fun exploring mountain roads can be. The 3-volcano area is one I’ll be back to explore. I also got a taste of riding the A. Homer Hilsen set up in rando garb through a snowfield, and down a rocking mountain bike trail at speed. Underbiking at its best. Perhaps it would have been smarter to pick the Hunqa that day, but the AHH did just fine, even after a flat and an unplanned endo into the snow.
Alas, we were a few weeks early, and the snow had not melted up to the pass, so we migrated back before the summit, but the ride down was the best ride of the year, easily!
I was able to introduce a couple folks to commuting in 2013. One of my neighbors wanted to start riding once a week. He works near my office (downtown Seattle) so I showed him a few routes that I use regularly, and tried to give him enough advice to keep him safe. Another friend bought a new bike for the first time in years, and we rode home off and on for a few months. We also did a nice ride around North Seattle and found a good trail in Llandover Woods. Unfortunately, we found that the trail was closed to bikes (after we traversed it…)
The apex of the riding year was my first 300k in August. This was both awesome (Artists Point) and brutal (needed lots of advil to get home). My knee gave out just past the 200k mark while I was riding with a fast group. I dropped off the back when I started to feel like I couldn’t push down on the pedal with my right leg. I stopped and stretched in a field by the side of the road for a bit, and limped along for another 50k before I found a gas station where I could buy ibuprofen. This helped ease the pain so I could continue riding, but I was basically using my left leg and only lifting with my right. That ride was tough and took all my willpower to get through. I felt elated at the end, however. It was amazing to go so far in one day.
Happy New Year! I hope you all get out and ride more this year!