sometimes you have to stop and smell the chamois butter

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Hardcore Porn for Bike Geeks Show

The most vivid memories of my childhood have to do with bicycles.  Like many children of the 60's and 70's, I began with a Schwinn Stingray.  By the time my brother and I got finished with it, it was an unrecognizable smoldering carcass of its former self.  I remember the last time I saw it, it was sitting in the corner of a dilapidated barn, stripped down to frame and fork and rattle-canned matte black.  I felt ashamed.
Alongside it was another bike I had abandoned.  It was a red,white&blue ten-speed Free Spirit.  I had begged for a ten-speed for Christmas that year.  What I had in mind and what my folks could afford were two different things.  I had been in a real bike shop and had "seen the light."   In reality, I was an ungrateful teenager that was about to be taught a lesson.  You want it bad enough, get a job and buy it yourself, my parents had leveled.
So I did.  I was overwhelmed by the desire to own a nice road bike.  To this day, it is still puzzling to me.  I was old enough to drive, yet I didn't want a car.  All of my friends were shredding on bmx bikes, and yet I didn't want one of those.  My mind was reeling from glossy steel tubes and shiny imported parts.  I was whacked out on bikes and blaming the tubular glue.  My life was consumed with everything bike.

And here I am, some 25ish years later and bikes are still like crack for me.  Over the years I have become attached to a bike or two.   There are bikes that are dispensable to me, usually my work bikes, and then there are the ones that will never leave the stable.
 The coveted hand-crafted ones.
Which brings us to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
I personally think they should change the name to Hardcore Porn for Bike Geeks.
The show is going on right now as we speak, February 25-27 in Austin, Texas.
From it's humble beginnings of 23 vendors and 700 attendees in 2005,  the show has continued to grow and draw more attention each year.
A majority of the bikes on display are nothing short of stunning.   Part of me wishes I could be there adding my fingerprints and drool to the mix.  The other part knows I could only attend without a wallet.  Nevertheless, there is some nice photo documentation going on and I can live vicariously via the internet.
Check it out for yourself.  John is doing a nice job at
My personal favorite I've seen so far - .

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

what's wrong with US?

Bob Roll has written, "Any 7-year-old Flemish schoolchild knows 100 times more about cycling than all Americans combined."   Let's face it, Europe in general is crazy about cycling.  Countries, cities, and families have all been divided because of a favored rider.  Italy has Bartali versus Coppi, a debate that is still going on today.  The French have Anquetil and Poulidor.  The Swiss have Kubler and Koblet.  The Belgians have Roger de Vlaeminck and of course, Eddy Merckx.  European fans pack the roadside of every grand tour and spring classic, hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite rider. 
And this may beg the question - who is Bob Roll?  Well, Bob used to be a pro-cyclist who went to Europe in the 80's, lived in a tent and wrote poetry on the sidewalls of his tires.  He eventually got picked up by Seven Eleven, the first American team to win stages in the Giro and the Tour.  Roll was racing beside the likes of Ron Kiefel, Davis Phinney, Eric Heiden, Jeff Bradley, Tom Schuler, Greg Demgen, Bradley Davies, Roger Young and Danny Van Haute all hailing from the U.S..  And you probably don't recognize any of these names either. 
But I'm guessing that Greg Lemond might ring a bell.  Rolling alongside the Seven Eleven squad, Lemond gained notoriety by taking a first American victory in the 1986 Tour de France, after battling it out with his own teammate Bernard Hinault.  Then in 1989 after recovering from a near-fatal hunting accident, he repeated, beating Frenchman Laurent Fignon by a mere 8 seconds in the final time trial.  I remember watching the final stage unfold, glued to the edge of my seat.  And for once, it seemed like at least some of the country was watching as well.  Sports Illustrated featured Lemond as the Sportsman of the Year cover boy and ABC Sports voted him Athlete of the year.  In 1990 he won a third Tour de France, keeping U.S. cycling on the map.  He continued to race until 1994, then quietly retired from the pro ranks.
And then came Lance.
So much has been said about him that I don't even know where to begin.
My first look at Lance was in the 1992 Summer Olympics.  I screamed at him through the television as he watched the break go.  They were too far in, I thought, there's no way he's going to bridge back up.  And like that his fate was sealed.  No medal and a permanent black mark on his record for not listening to me.  My opinion of our "new rising star"  had been wavered.  I am aware that basing my opinion on one race lacks rationality, but the damage was done.
My interest in road racing was waning while Lance was launching his attack.  He was winning Tours, beating cancer and becoming a media darling.  His persona quickly eclipsed that of Lemond and he was becoming a household name.  His Livestrong campaign started a wristband craze.   He was on the road to winning seven Tours.  And sides were being taken.
Whether you are for or against Lance, chances are you have an opinion and that is a beautiful thing.  A cyclist becoming a household name in the United States is a rarity.  Somewhere along the way, we have pushed aside the notion of cycling as a sport.  Maybe Americans lack the grit and the passion to inspire the country.  After all, the guy who has the record for Tour de France wins is from the U.S., but what other races has he won.   Focusing on one race is drive.  Turning yourself inside out in every single race you do is called passion. 
Lance recently announced he was retiring - again.  Clouded by accusations of doping and a federal investigation underway, he continues to stand in the media spotlight.  I just wonder how many teenagers have been inspired to follow in his cleats.

Me and My Bike

This video was posted on and I had to share it.  The group is called Wafalme and they are a group of teenagers from the slums of Nairobi.  The clip won a video contest called "1 Minute to Save the World."   Just goes to show, no matter where you live or what side of the tracks you are on, bicycles can have a big impact!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

wednesday spin

Take a close look at this photo.  It's the middle of February and I'm wearing shorts.  If this photo wasn't black and white, I'm afraid those pasty chicken sticks would make the goth crowd proud.  It was a balmy 61 degrees with nice chunks of sunshine.

These are the days that make me even more psyched to live in such an amazing place.  I was only out for about an hour and a half, but it was time spent pedaling in spring-like weather.
I love my backyard.

And some bike ridin'!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

cycle sculpture

Bikes are comprised of lots of metal parts.  Metal doesn't decompose, nor does any of the other parts hanging on bikes.  And let's face it, there are crappy bikes out there as well as bikes that have out-lived their safety.  So where do all of the terminal bikes go?  I would like to think they are lifted up in a shaft of light and sucked into two-wheeled nirvana.  But the grim truth is that a sweaty, slightly over-weight and hairy dude in jeans that show his crack, a dirty t-shirt and a yellow hard hat is hauling that scrapped wheel to live out it's half-life in a dump overlooking the Jersey shore.   And unfortunately other places in the world that could be scenic.   Good thing for us and the bikes, there are people out there trying to keep bikes out of the dump.   Re-purposing bikes that were destined for purgatory.  This is a little photo essay of some of that work.  Starting right here in little ole Moab, we have the WabiSabi thrift store sculpture. 

This next one caught my eye.  I like the wheel in the middle and the mesh of frames comprising the roof.  I'd like too see the rest of this beauty, it's in Belgium.  Photo courtesy is the photographic index of Jonathan Galbreath.

Arches are naturally occurring.  Bikes are not.  Neither are bike arches.  This one is at Burning Man.  You can bet your sweet drunk grandmother's naked ass that there is enough naturally occurring shit happening there to scar any impressionable mind.  Mark Grieve created the piece after Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man, asked him if he was interested in creating a piece for the entrance to Center Camp, an area where people park a lot of bikes.  Grieve was inspired to make the piece after a trip to Arches National Park in Utah and by observing nature. The arch took about four months to complete and was a collaborative effort between Grieve and Ilana Spector, a former lawyer and solar energy company president turned welder.

"Pablo Picasso was never called an ass-hole."  And in 1942 he made a rather cool and well-known sculpture from some bike parts.  "Head of the Bull"

And Before Pablo, there was Marcel Duchamp and his Bicycle Wheel  in 1913.  The 1913 Bicycle Wheel was lost, but nearly four decades later Duchamp assembled a replacement from newly found prefabricated parts, indicating that the later version was as valid as the original.

The next image was borrowed from creations, the great big sculptures thread on  Apparently this is in Parc de la Vilette :  Paris, France. This one gets two big thumbs up.

And our last artful use of bicycles.  Use them as outdoor wallpaper.  Or just to confuse the brain right out of a bicycle thief. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday spin

The Sunday forecast taunted me with temperatures near fifty.  I decided to forgo the "Church of the Sweet Ride" feeling I needed more penance on the legs and less on the back.  I chose to flog myself by heading out toward Canyonlands and coming back via Gemini Bridges. 
It was pretty quiet out there.  Once I turned on to Gemini rd, I only saw one vehicle.  It was a great day to put in some hours, despite the clouds holding back the warmth of the sun.  I ended up back at the house with nearly four solid hours of pedaling.  Although I was psyched to end up with the saddle time, I was starving and luckily caught Lisa via phone at the pizza joint.  I beat her home and pretty much ate what I could find until she arrived.  Then I devoured giant slices of pizza until I couldn't get off the couch.  Now that's training!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

proper set-up

I remember when I first started riding mountain bikes.  It was the late 80's and things were evolving rather quickly.   Drawing on ideas from bicycles, motorcycles and industrial machining, a flood of ideas was building that would be big enough to bury us all.  Being a shop rat and ready to embrace all things new was a bad idea.  I adorned my Yo Eddy with gaudily colored, overly-machined parts complete with way too long and low stem and chopped down handlebars.  There was barely enough room to fit brake levers, shifters and grips before the bend.  I rode like this for years thinking it was a good idea.
Then came riser bars.  And good suspension.  And finally comfort.
Finally it's totally acceptable to ride with your handlebars the same height as your saddle.  No more granny comments.
So what has happened out there in the world in the last 20+ years.  Did we get smarter.  Are dudes my age spec-ing all of the bikes out in the world.   I know there are actually people who still ride with long stems and chopped off bars in their stretched out neon lycra.  But most of the world is starting to embrace proper bike fit and comfort.
Let's face it, most of the world is not out to be a world champion.  They just want to be outside having an enjoyable experience on the bike.  And this goes for road or mountain rider alike.  The key to enjoyable cycling and the road to improvement, begins with proper bike fit.  The more dialed you are on your bike, the longer and faster you can ride.  Or you can make that trip to the corner store in half the time in an emergency.
Look at almost any video footage of Eddy Merckx, the great one, and I'll guarantee you he measures and adjusts something on his bike.  He was fanatical about bike fit, and it apparently paid off.  He looks pretty comfortable blowing peoples doors off. 
So what do you look for in proper bike set-up?
Well first of all, because of mountain bike suspension, we have to differentiate fit and suspension set-up.  Both are very important, yet independent of each other.  First you have to get comfortable on that mountain bike before you start turning knobs and dials.
Now this is by no means a formula to get the perfect fit on your bike.  On the contrary, it's more of a "what to look for" and when to seek a professional.
There are three areas of contact on the bicycle.  Your hands, feet and your arse.  The magic triangle.  Get the angles your body draws correct, and you'll be a happy camper on your rig.  Get them wrong and you will likely struggle.
Your cockpit length is most important.  This begins by having the right size bike with a top-tube that is close to the right size.   An important part of the saddle-bar reach.  Saddles can slide for an aft, moving your rear wheel weight and knee angle.  Ideally you want the ball of your foot over the pedal spindle.  You can usually tell if your saddle is in the wrong spot if you are always favoring the nose or tail.  The stem length and angle affect where your bars are going to sit.  Racers (road or mountain) go long and low for climbing and overall power.  This is great if you want to go fast, but handling will be sacrificed on the downhill.  Thus, down-hillers run their bars high and short, with wide bars for leverage.  They want a heads up riding position with quick steering feedback.  Set your bike up like this and you will hate the way it climbs, at least at first.  Somewhere in between these two is a compromise.  You also have to decide which ride quality is most important.
Keep in mind though, if you really want your bike set up like a rocket ship, your neck or back may hurt at some point.   And you can't get pissed if your downhill chopper climbs like it has two flat tires and you can't hold a straight line.  Big adjustments one way or the other will yield that compromise.  Little adjustments however will get you somewhere in the middle.  Just remember a few millimeters one way or another can yield a result, and you only want to adjust one thing at a time.
Once you get your fore-aft position dialed in, you need too figure out the pedal-saddle height.  A good starting point is having a slight bend in your knee on the full downward position.  Too high and you will rock on the saddle and jack up your hips and knees.  Too low and you will strain your quads and tops of your knees.  The more dialed your seat height, the more efficient you are.
Now about that suspension set-up.  The ideal situation is to befriend a good mechanic who does the work on your bike.  Ask them what and how many adjustments your shocks have.  The front and rear shock should work together.  Too much/too little in either one will affect how the bike rides.  The set up chart that comes in your owners manual is a great place to start.   Many manufacturers also include the shock manuals for higher end bikes.  Find out what adjustments you have.  Are your shocks air or coil spring.  Air and all you will need for adjustment is a pump, coil and you could be looking at different springs to achieve the ride you want.  Rebound, compression and lock-out are options on nicer shocks.  Compression is how fast your shock squishes down.  Rebound is how fast it returns.  This is achieved by opening or closing oil flow.  Open, the oil runs fast, and as it closes the oil becomes more impeded.  Adjusting these two can make your bike feel like a pogo stick or a bucking bronco.  As with making fit adjustments, make very small adjustment when dialing in suspension.  One or two clicks at a time.  You should definitely notice a difference in one and three clicks, oil flow will be slower or faster.  The rule of thumb is a smooth compression a rebound between "snappy" and "slurpy."  This will make more sense when you push on your shocks. 
Bike fit and suspension set-up are way more than I could ever begin to cover in one sitting.  This is just some general platforms.  I will try to edit this so that it remains a concise overview.
Getting comfortable on a bike takes time.  There are a great deal of factors that contribute to positive or negative outcome.  Do yourself a favor and spend the time getting to know your bike and how it's set up.  It will make you dig riding that much more.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cino Cinelli - t.i.c.h.

Alas, for the last couple of days I have succumbed to the speed of life and because of it I owe a "compleanno in ritardo" wish to Cino Cinelli ("Cheeno Cheenellee").   Cino's life began as the seventh of ten children on February 9, 1916 in Montespertoli, Italy.  His brother Giotto shared his passion for bikes, but their father unfortunately, did not.  The brothers raced despite their father's disapproval and Cino became even more inspired when he witnessed his brother ride to his first victory.  Cino followed his passion and continued to race with help from Giotto.  In an epic battle with his most intense rival of the day, Gino Bartali, Cino managed to rise the victor of the 1938 Tour of Lombardy.  His other big win of note was the 1943 Milan San-Remo.  The war brought racing to a halt, and unlike Bartali and Coppi, Cino decided not to return to racing. 

He had instead become interested in the mechanical side of the bicycle industry.  Several equipment failures during races had led him to believe he could create better products.  His brother Giotto was already producing steel handlebars and Cino convinced him to move to Milan, the hub of Italian cycling activity.  As well as producing their own products, Cinelli was a distributor of "qualified" bike parts.  Meaning every product they moved had to be approved by Cino.  Their main focus in production, as well as what they are most known for,  was handlebars and stems.  Cino resisted the move to aluminum fearing it didn't have the strength to withstand the abuses of racing.  They eventually started producing cutting edge aluminum bars and stems for the best racers in the world.  In the 50's their annual production numbers of bars and stems were in the 5000 range and by Cino's retirement in 1978, annual production had hit 150,000. 
Cinelli's framesets were also very sought after as well.  Production was very limited because Cinelli wanted every frame built "in house", and the possibility of getting put behind an Olympic track rider was high.  Cino resisted putting his bikes in the pro peloton for fear of stepping on team toes, but track stars could pick their own  rides.  Thus, Cinelli's were ridden to many track victories represented by many different countries. 
Cino dabbled in several other innovations.  He acquired Alfred Binda straps in 1958.  He master-minded the sloping crown fork in the 1950's.  In the 60's he collaborated with a certain Mr. Campagnolo on a "bivalent hub" that would work on the front or rear of the bike.  And 1971 would see Cinelli's creation of the first clipless pedal. 
Although the man behind the company name has past, Cino Cinelli's legacy continues to steer the company into the future.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

church of the sweet ride

My better half believes that in winter I don't have enough social interaction.  So I decided to attend church this past Sunday.  Thanks to Tyson and his social networking savvy, there was a strong attendance at church this week.   There was a short blessing of the bikes and Whit unveiled his "smoothie-cycle" to the public.  I missed all this because I wanted to ride out the trail-head, but I think our total count ended up being eighteen strong.  It felt a little weird for me at first, because I haven't been on a mountain bike in a while, but I was digging it.  Amasa Back was a great choice because everyone got to go their own pace and their were plenty of rad breakspots.

At one of those breakspots, a classic Moab introduction (and possibly the highlight of the ride for me), took place.  Angela Carter looks at me and says "Tim, (pause) I know you."  Then, before she could utter another word, I blurted out "Angela, (pause)  I know you too."  A couple of people started laughing and we exclaimed, "only in Moab." 
  Overall the weather was pretty generous to our congregation.   It was a bit windy, but the sun did peek it's head out a few times and threw some heat our way.  I was just psyched to pedal outside and mingle with folks I don't get to see every day. 
I had to peel off early to get the four-legged zombies out for some playtime.  But I can guarantee you I'll be back for more Sunday service.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Eki - t.i.c.h.

Viatcheslav Vladimirovich Ekimov was born 4 February 1966 in Vyborg, Russia.  One of the few Ruskies to penetrate the pro peleton, Eki, earned the title of Russian Cyclist of the Century in 2001.  Eki managed to get himself some Olympic neck bling with two gold medals in individual sprint ('88) and time trial (2000).  He also motored to a few Tour de France stage wins, two of which in the TT.   I got to see him race in the Tour Dupont when they came through western N.C..  I can't remember which year it was, but he was battling it out with Lanceypants and Raul Alcala in a big climb to the finish.  Eki won the Tour Dupont in 1994 and got 2nd in 1995.  His last big race was the Tour de France in 2006.  He is currently  the Directeur Sportif for Radio Shack.  Best cover your ass my friend!
С Днем Рождения Вячеслав Владимирович Екимов!

the right path

I sat through a meeting that lasted 1.5-2 hours long last night.  I had flashbacks of my childhood, seemingly trapped in church every Sunday.  Sandwiched in between my family on an uncomfortable church pew, the meetings with the almighty seemed to last this long.  From this seemed torture rose my sunday mantra, "I'd rather be riding my bike and thinking about Jesus, than sitting in church thinking about riding."  A good friend told his wife this, and it seemed like a good thing to pass on to my mom.  It's amazing what people will do to get out of meetings.

But last night was an important meeting so I put on my big boy pants.   The city has been working with some urban planners and folks in the community to come up with a vision for the future.  About a hundred people showed up for last nights meeting and around seventy people the previous night.  The planners are trying to get feedback from the community to find out what direction to take Moab.  I found there was quite the diversity of folks there, as we perused the topics to be covered.  One of the main reasons I was attending was the topic of bike paths/lanes/trails.  We had a decent local bike contingency there to represent in case we had to break out the pumps and u-locks to knock some sense into people.  Luckily, and actually to my surprise, when it came down to pedal/pedestrian safety the majority was in favor. 
I'm glad I got alerted to this meeting and look forward to seeing Moab become more bike friendly.  Not just in the winter when no one is around.  I was a bit bummed to see such a small show of actual bikes- only six including myself.  Although it was cold from the bowels of old man winter, hovering maybe in the high single digits.  Cold enough for EO to really regret not wearing gloves.  Dumbarse. 

Only in Moab would you see a "shuttle bitch" hat at a city meeting!  Golden.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

feb 3 - t.i.c.h.

My main man Constant (Stan) Ockers was born on this day in Borgerhout, Belgium in 1920.   Throwing down some impressive wins and finishes during his short career.  He took home the green sprinter jersey from the Tour de France in 1955&1956 and came in second in overall in 1950&1952.  He had a great year in '55 winning the Fleche Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and the World Championships.  Sadly, the next year would turn tragic for Ockers.  He crashed hard on the track in Antwerp and never recovered.  The boyhood hero of the great one himself, Mr. Merckx, left the peloton at just 36 years old.  In 1957 a monument was built to him along the course of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege.   Lang leve Constant Ockers!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

whistle pig day

Yes, I borrowed this image from the internet.  But it just spoke to me.  Today being Groundhog day and all.  I can see old Puxatawny Phil forgetting about his big day and boozin' a little too heavily with his mates.  Waking up to a boatload of commotion outside of his crib, he peers at his watch and mutters to himself, "son-of-a-biscuit-eater."   Then he rolls out of bed and hobbles toward the opening of his mound.  Arising from the dirt like a dusty phoenix, he throws down an elbow and tries to focus one hairy eyeball on the Gov'ner.  "Yessir,  looks like spring is on the way, now beat it you bunch of soft crybabies."
I felt like one of those soft crybabies today.  It was downright bitter out.  I went outside a bunch, only to bring in more wood to burn.  My only ride of the day, I forced myself to spin to the store for some beverages.  As I was bundling up to go out, my lady looked at me with genuine concern on her face and says, "You're not really going to ride are you."   I think it was more out of guilt (the beer was for her).  It was indeed the bitter cold I expected it to be, but because I was pedaling it didn't seem quite so horrible.  At least not for the 12 blocks I had to ride.  I love small town Moab!
ps- whistle pig is West Virginian for groundhog

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


It is the first day of February and it appears as though the mercury has seen his shadow and has dipped back in his hole.  On a day like today, the sun struggles against the wind providing only light.   I'm glad I was able to get out and enjoy the pre-spring weather we were having.  But now we are back to suffering temps.
The only riding being done by this guy today is over to the laundromat. Not far away, but far enough to enter the pain cave on a day like today.  Except the cave is made of ice.  Much like my face right now.  Not to be completely outdone by the weather, I suit up and head out to hook up the trailer.  "Dead Guy Bike" is waiting patiently to be tethered to the former kid hauler.  Wait, did you say "dead guy bike?"  Yes, I'm afraid the workhorse of the townie line-up was formerly owned by a guy who tried to ride all of Portal trail.  The infamous Portal trail has some serious exposure on it in a few spots.  Needless to say,  the owner of the bike stepped off in the most serious spot and didn't make it.  Sad story indeed.
Now I'm not really sure how, but my girl ended up with it.  It's an early nineties Stumpjumper (complete with fukengruven sticker covering the top tube) with a vintage Switchblade fork on it.  It had spent far too many years hanging in a barn, so I threw on an upright cockpit and my super-sized Brooks saddle.  Fukengruven rides again.  And he seems pretty psyched to be hauling my dirty laundry.