Great Velo Orange Ad…

9 05 2011

Hook them young!





Recumbent vs. DF for Brevets?

9 05 2011

Challenge Fujin SL...

I’ve now ridden the same amount of brevets on a DF as I have on a bent. That’s still only just a little farther than 300K in one shot so I’m not posting my thoughts to suggest my opinion is the final answer, but I know this a topic of interest to folks that are aspiring or new randonneurs.

Let me start by saying that although these two types of bikes are quite different they can both work well for riding long distance events like brevets. I will go into some details about each platform’s strengths and weaknesses below, but if you love bents or you’ve always wanted a classic french rando bike go for it. Despite everything I say below I think loving the bike you ride is far more important than almost anything else. The only two caveats I will throw into the mix are that a rando rig needs to be reliable and comfortable.

Recumbents:

  • although the number of successful bent randonneurs is fairly small they demonstrate that recumbents can do very well for these types of rides
  • a suitable bent will cost more than an equivalent DF road bike, but no more than a specialized rando DF
  • there are many ergonomic options when it comes to bents and not all will work well for every rider in terms of performance and comfort
  • because they are less common I found it harder to equip my rando bents [luggage, food, water, navigation and lights] than my rando DF and I was less satisfied with the results
  • most bents climb somewhat slower for the same rider than a DF…since brevets feature a lot of climbing it makes sense to select a bent that climbs as well as possible for you
  • you can’t shift weight on a bent easily to unload wheels for obstacles which makes some terrain harder to ride
  • bents can be very aerodynamic which means you’ll be fast on the flats, downhills and shallow climbs [compared to the same rider on a solo DF]
  • laying down in the rain can have some challenges as zippers and vents for cycling rain gear assumes an upright posture
  • a properly selected and setup bent can be very comfortable for long distance rides
  • a rando bent will garner a lot of attention – that could be good or bad depending on your attitude
If you are not already familiar with bents I think the biggest challenge is that there are so many different types and each will work differently for you. There is no easy way to tell a new bent rider which bent is going to be right for them and a parking lot test generally is worthless. Which is why you’ll notice that folks that get into bents tend to go through a few different models until they find something that really clicks with their body and their style of riding. The other thing is that if you are new to bents you will have to give your body time to adapt to the new position and also the handling of your bent. That means it may be 3 -9 months before you are at a steady state with your machine ready to perform at your best. So keep that in mind. You’ll need some lead time before the rando season you want to ride a bent in to get the right machine, get conditioned and get it setup.

The other challenge with being a bent randonneur is that most rando clubs are nearly 100% DF riders. So you won’t have a lot of platform specific support on hand to help you get your rig sorted. And once on the road you’ll be faster where other equally fit DF randos will be slow and vice versa. This makes riding together quite hard unless you each go slower than your normal riding speeds which may not be feasible. OTOH if you are lucky and your rando club has some bent riders who are in your general speed range congrats you will have someone to ride with.

I did mention that bents tend to climb slower than the same rider on an equivalent DF. This is true for most people and should not be underestimated given how much climbing most brevets feature. Don’t let this freak you out if you want to ride a bent, but also don’t believe the bent propaganda some vendors/sites spew about bents climbing just as fast as DFs. When you are 250K into a ride and facing a ton of steep climbing those folks won’t be anywhere to be found. Make sure that the bent you select climbs well for you. There are a number of bents with a reputation for climbing fast. I’d start with one of those and see what happens. Don’t weigh down your bike with unnecessary stuff and select tires that roll well. At slow climbing speeds weight and tire rolling resistance are key.

Although setting up a bent for brevets is a bit harder due to the fact so few people use them for that purpose you don’t haves access to the same rando specific products that the DF crowd does – ultimately if you get a bent that is comfortable, performs well [especially climbing!] the rest of the details aren’t a show stopper.

I started a site that showcases recumbents used for long distance rides [brevets & ultras]. David Cambon, uber recumbent randonneur, is featured on the site and has taken over stewardship since I don’t have a bent at the moment. It’s worth a look to see what other bent riders are using and how they have their bikes setup. David has written an article for the BC Randonneur website called “PBP & Recumbent Bikes” that is definitely worth a read. Finally Bent Rider Online has an ultracycling sub-forum that doesn’t see a lot of action, but it’s worth a look and if you are patient you’ll get answers to your questions.

Boulder Bicycle All Road 650B rando rig...

DF [aka uprights aka safety bikes]:
  • the choice of 95%+ of randonneurs
  • easy to find a standard bike and adapt it or get a speciality rando rig
  • costs varying from low to very very high depending on how specialized/custom you want to go
  • limited ergonomic options work for most people, but there are a some who can’t make a DF work for these distances
  • with so many DF randonneurs getting help selecting and setting up your bike is no problem
  • DFs tend to climb well and can be very aerodynamic when ridden in a paceline
  • a lone DF randonneur in a stiff headwind has to work quite hard
  • because most rando clubs are filled with DF bikes it’s not hard to find someone to ride with
  • shifting weight on a DF allows it to tackle challenging terrain well
  • a properly selected and setup DF can be very comfortable for long distance rides
You can’t throw a frame pump at a brevet without hitting a DF bike. This ubiquitousness is one of the main advantages of the DF platform. You’ll have a ton of other randonneurs to ride with, to ask questions of and to copy smart setups. That means you can short circuit the learning curve and the solutions you come up with will be, relatively, common so they will be, relatively, easy to implement. Heck you can call up Mike Kone at Boulder Bicycle/Rene Herse and order up a complete 700c or 650B randonneur rig with everything setup for your first brevet.

The other advantage is that DFs climb well for most people. Brevets are almost never flat so getting up and over the climbs is a key challenge if not the key challenge. As Kent Peterson aptly points out you can never make up time lost on the climbs by riding faster down the other side. So this means that any bike that lets you climb faster over a long ride will be a big benefit. For most people that’s a DF.

So lot’s of randonneurs ride DFs and most people climb faster on a DF, but brevets are long rides are DFs comfortable for the long haul? The simple answer is yes. If they weren’t DF randonneurs would have a major incentive to try a recumbent. Since DFs are so common and so similar to one another the ways to get comfortable on them are well understood and easy to implement. That’s not to say that there aren’t randonneurs with comfort issues on DFs, but to be fair there are riders on recumbents with a number of comfort issues as well [recumbutt, numb feet, wrist/neck issues, etc…] However, the more experienced you are with riding a DF or a recumbent in brevets the more likely you are to have solved any comfort issues and reached a point where you are simply cranking away on the bike. My longest DF ride so far has been ~18hrs and I got off the bike very tired, but with no significant discomfort. With a rest I could have climbed back onboard and cranked out more KMs.

I also think it’s important to distinguish between comfort [or lack of discomfort] and enjoyment. On my rando bents I was very comfortable with no major discomfort – let’s call it 9/10 on the comfort scale. On my DF rando bike I feel the occasional minor discomfort [ie. tightness behind neck that goes away with a 5 second stretch] – let’s call it 8/10 on the comfort scale. However, when it comes to enjoyment the static position on my bent that was very comfortable is also kind of boring and the I dreaded the climbs because they felt so hard in that one position I had to stay in. Finally on my bent I was always alone on a brevet due to the lack of other bent randonneurs – let’s call it 7/10 on the enjoyment scale. On my DF rando bike I can move around and I feel very engaged in the ride. I actually enjoy the climbs [to a point!] on my DF since it goes up them so well and I can find company for part or all of the ride – let’s call it 9/10 on the enjoyment scale. That difference is why I am on a DF rando bike right now and not a bent.

Peter Noris at PBP on an Easy Racer bent...

Will I ever go back to a rando bent?

I don’t have a 100% answer to that question. My guess is yes I will. I like bents and I think they are a lot of fun to ride so I can’t imagine that I won’t get another one sometime in the next few years. The SWB [short wheelbase] format is what I am most used to and they are reasonably easy to setup as a rando bent. OTOH I’ve never owned a LWB [long wheelbase] recumbent like the Easy Racer in the photo above. Beyond just the fun of trying something new I’m thinking that a LWB with a fairing and body sock might make riding in the cold wet winter here on Vancouver Island more pleasurable. The hold up is basically the cost $3-4K and the fact I have yet to secure a test ride on an ER bike. I can save up the needed money for a bike I love, but bents are funny machines and one that looks great may ride poorly for you so I am being cautious. I don’t see myself getting rid of my DF rando bike so if I did get a bent it would be in addition to my DF.

Should you go bent or stay upright?

As I noted above I think the decision should primarily be guided by what you want to ride and what type of bike you are stoked about. If you own a suitable bent and want to ride brevets go for it! If you don’t have a bike and are trying to decide which way to go take a look at some of the options and see what inspires you. If you really don’t have any ideas I’d start with a DF as it will be easier to get a suitable one, easier to setup and if you are a regular rider it will be easier to get into rando shape.





It’s almost Nitnaht Kiteboarding season!

8 05 2011

Sharon getting wet and wild!

I was talking about kiteboarding at a rest stop on the 300K last weekend when another randonneur commented that now that I was riding brevets I’d be too addicted to them to have any time for stuff like kiteboarding. Hahaha! Wrong! I love riding my bikes and I do really enjoy the challenge of brevets, but you’d be hard pressed to stop me from spending a good chunk of my free time in the summer kiteboarding.

Not only do I live in striking distance of one of the best kiteboarding spots in the world – it’s also stunningly beautiful and uncrowded. In addition to that a kiteboarding weekend is a whole lot more than the 3-4hrs you spend kiting each day. There is the fun of camping with your friends. Sitting around a campfire telling war stories while drinking beer. Getting up early for some peaceful SUPing on the glass like waters of the lake. Frankly it’s a hard combo to beat!

I still plan on riding some more brevets and doing some tours this summer, but I’ll probably work those into weekends that the wind isn’t looking overly awesome at Lake Nitnaht.

My seasons are shaping up like this:

  • winter = surfing
  • spring = rando
  • summer = kiteboarding [weekends] & Mtn Biking [weekday PM]
  • fall = bike touring
  • year round = transport biking

I’m excited that this will be Sharon’s first real season of kiteboarding as she is a lesson or three away from being fully independent and able to ride wherever she likes. It will be fun to see her rip it up on the water…=-) I’m going to take a run down to Kite Paddle Surf Bellingham next week [my local kite shop] to grab a few bits of gear for the new season. Sharon has already grown out of the beginner board I had for her so we are starting to compete for the same gear and I need a couple spares.

Time to fly!





It finally happened…=-(

7 05 2011

So comfy - so tight!...=-(

I’ve been really careful not to let any of my lovely wool garments to make it into the dryer, but my streak of success came to an end today. One of my MEC LS wool tops that fit perfectly ended up in the dryer. Luckily I dry my clothes on low and for a short time so the top went from a perfect fit to a slightly tighter than I’d love fit. I can still wear the top as a layer under something else, but not by itself unless I want to show off my scrawny physique and beer belly!

So while I’m loving the wool on for how it feels and how it works, but this Achilles’ heel of shrinking it in the dryer is a real problem preventing me from getting 100% behind it.





The right Rohloff for your Big Dummy?

7 05 2011

A Big Dummy love a Rohloff!

This is is a repost from an old blog. I figured it would be useful to have here in case someone was searching for Surly Big Dummy Rohloff information.

One problem with buying a Rohloff hub is that there are a TON of options to navigate if you want to get the right hub. In this post I’ll run through the options to let you know what works and what I chose.

Colour:

  • available in red, black and silver
  • the anodized cases [black and red] should withstand salt and other elements a bit better than the polished aluminum case
  • cases are now laser engraved. If you see one with a sticker on the hub it is older stock.
  • I chose black for the stealth Big Dummy look
Axle:
Internal or External Gear Mechanism:
  • the external gear mechanism is a box that attaches to your hub and your cables terminate there
  • this means you can easily detach it for removing the rear wheel
  • cables are run fully covered to the external gear mechanism so they are immune to the elements
  • it is easier to field service the external gear mechanism
  • the trade off is the shifting is slightly less smooth
  • you cannot use disc brakes with the internal gear mechanism
  • I went with the external gear mechanism for the ease of maintenance and so I could use disc brakes.
Disc Brakes:
  • you will need to use the external gear mechanism
  • you will need to specify disc brake use when ordering your hub
  • you will need a Rohloff specific disc rotor
  • you can use a Rohloff disc hub on a rim brake bike as long as you use a rim with a braking surface
  • I went this route as I wanted to use Avid BB7 disc brakes on my Big Dummy
Torque Support:
  • without any torque support the hub will want to spin and will not drive the bike forward
  • you can get a Rohloff with the following torque support options:
  • you need to be sure you get the OEM2 axle plate
Accessories you’ll need:
  • chain tensioner – you’ll need this as the Big Dummy has vertical drop outs. Keep in mind there is a standard and DH version. You want the standard version.
  • Tandem length cables – due to the length of the Big Dummy you’ll need the longer tandem length cables.
  • Rohloff specific disc rotor – you cannot use the rotor supplied with your brakes as it will have the wrong bolt pattern.
Accessories you may want:
  • chain guide – keeps your chain on the front ring
  • oil change kit – you’ll need one of these every 5,000kms so it migt be easiest to buy one or two when you get your hub.
  • Sprockets -all hubs come with a 16T sprocket. You can also get 13T, 15T & 17T sprockets.
Non-Rohloff specific parts you’ll need:
  • 38T or larger front chain ring that will fit on the outside of your cranks – same position as big chain ring on a MTB triple. You want a ~54mmm chain line. This chain ring does not need to be pinned and ramped. You’ll be able to flip it around and use the other side when it wears out.
  • 2 chains – you’ll only use 1 and a bit, but you can save the extra portion and use it dnotw h road. You’ll also be able to flip your chain and rear cog around when things start to wear out and get more miles out of your drive train. I bought two 8 speed SRAM chains as they were cheap.
Rohloff Part Numbers

To make your life easier here are the part numbers you can use to ensure you are getting exactly what you need when you order your Rohloff hub:

  • Silver disc brake CC External Gear Mech OEM hub [specify OEM2] – #8025
  • Red disc brake CC External Gear Mech OEM hub [specify OEM2] – #8026
  • Black disc brake CC External Gear Mech OEM hub [specify OEM2] – #8027
  • Axle plate OEM2 [if you forgot to ask for it like I did and got an OEM hub] – #8227
  • Tandem Length cables – #8267
  • Chain Guide – #8290
  • Avid/Shimano 160mm disc rotor – #8281S
  • Hayes 160mm disc rotor – #8281H
  • Magura 160mm disc rotor – #8280
  • Oil Change Kit – #8410
  • 13T Sprocket – #8219
  • 15T Sprocket – #8220
  • 16T Sprocket – #8221
  • 17T Sprocket – #8222




Velo Orange Dynohub

6 05 2011

VO switchable dynohub...

One of the issues with dynohubs is that when you don’t need the power for your lights during the day you are still dealing with the drag from the hub magnets. Velo Orange is offering a sweet looking dynamo hub that you can switch on and off. When it’s on it provides enough power for any modern dynolight. When it’s off you just have the normal drag from high quality sealed bearings to deal with.

Not too shabby looking!

This dynohub looks pretty nice for $130.00. I’m going to grab one later this year and test it out to see how I like it compared to the SON and Shimano units I own.

I'm warming up to silver components...

Frame Spacing 100 mm
Spoke Flange Diameter 82mm
Center to Flange Left 20mm, Right 25mm
Flange to Flange 45mm
Weight 750g w QR, 685g no QR
Manufacturer Velo Orange
Material Aluminum Alloy
Finish Polished
Hub Bearing Type Sealed
Input or Output 6V, 3W




Recumbent Fleche Report…

5 05 2011

Photo: John Foote

For a little change of pace here is a link to an all recumbent team’s 2011 fleche report.





Scottish 400K…

5 05 2011




Hatzic Hills 300K…

4 05 2011

A few of the 47 riders at the start...

Let me start by saying we achieved our goals:

  1. getting a hotel room without an insect infestation
  2. not crashing
  3. completing the ride within the time limits
  4. having fun most of the time
On the other hand I think we found the limits of our un-training program at about 200K. One of the reasons we decided to ride the Lower Mainland 300K was to give ourselves more time to prepare. Unfortunately we didn’t really take advantage of that time for training. So last Friday as I got ready for the trip to the mainland I wasn’t sure how things would go. Sharon came along to keep us company and to visit some friends while we were off on the ride. The ferry and drive to our hotel near the start in Burnaby took longer than expected so our sleep time shrank to less than 5hrs. I hadn’t slept well the night before so I wasn’t happy when the alarm went off! On the plus side Sharon had booked the hotel and it was insect free which meant we could at least enjoy the limited amount of sleep we managed to get.

Deirdre & Bob - Ride Organizers and David K registering riders - photo: Colin F......

I took a quick shower to wake up and started to wonder if I had packed the QR part of my front bag’s decaleur. It turns out I forgot the safety pin that secures it, but I brought the critical bit that holds the bag on and I managed to DIY a retention clip out of a thin key chain ring. Note to self pack the bike completely rigged so that I can’t forget stuff like this again and carry a spare safety pin in the bag if I lose one while on the ride. Panic averted we rode the very short distance to the end point at the Knight and Day 24hrs Restaurant for breakfast. I was feeling pretty grim while eating and wasn’t able to finish as much of my food as I would have liked. I was hoping that the sunrise would lift my spirits.

Control #1 at ~38km...

We rolled over to the start control and were met by a wide array of cool bikes and brightly dressed BC randonneurs. That already made me feel better. Besides the usual array of rando rigs I saw a Moulton and a Bachetta recumbent. With the sun rising and our cue sheets/control cards in hand we rolled out with the other 45 riders for the ~40km trek to the first control. Most of this leg of the ride was through urban jungle which is something I’m not used to living in Victoria. We rolled along at a brisk clip with the main group. At one point a section of 2″ x 6″ wood appeared suddenly into view too quickly for me to avoid it so my front tire took a glancing blow. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going down, but was sure glad when I didn’t and then glad I didn’t flat. Riding in a group has benefits in terms of drafting, but the downside is how hard it is to see debris/pot holes. We arrived at the first control quickly and Aaron was the voice of reason suggesting we let the main group go and ride our own pace from here on in.

Team Rando Tractor in the middle at Control #1 - photo: Dan McGuire...

The next leg was about another 40kms and quickly became more rural and had far less traffic on it. We had a lot of fun rolling along through this section of the lower mainland. Temperatures stayed cool and so far the sun hadn’t really made an appearance as promised by the weather forecast. OTOH it wasn’t raining so that was okay with us! There was some really great climbing and descending narrow windy country roads just past the dam we crossed over. The last bit of riding before the control was a series of rollers that took us steadily uphill to the welcome sight of the BC randonneurs control sign.  The ride organizers [Deirdre and Bob] had some hearty soup on the go and some chairs for us to rest on inside. It’s amazing what a bit of food, a bit of comfort and a splash of water/soap on your face does for your energy levels.

Aaron still smiling @ Control #2...

Leaving Control #2 we rolled downhill most of the way to HWY 7. That was fun, but knowing we had to come back to the same spot after the long run out to Control #3 at the Johnson Slough Rest Area made me not so stoked for the return trip! No point worrying about that now right? The sun had come out. We had some nice downhills and then a tailwind on HWY 7 so all was good. We spent most of our afternoon riding eastbound on HWY 7 and then returning back on the same route in the early evening. That made navigation pretty easy, but it also meant riding next to a lot of traffic on a road with average to poor shoulders. I was very happy to have wider tires on my bike as we hammered over cracks and potholes when we couldn’t ride in the traffic lane. Not my favourite part of the ride for sure, but it would have been better had there not been a bunch of assholes on Harley Davidson motocycles who purposely buzzed super close to us with their deafeningly loud bikes for no apparent reason other than to affirm that they were indeed assholes. I’ve been a motorcyclist for decades of my life and I know there is no reason you need to ride at the edge of the white line cruising the highway – especially when you see a group of cyclists riding on the narrow shoulder dodging debris and pot holes. Well unless you want to be an asshole! The first time they did it was unpleasant and a bit scary as each bike got closer and closer to us – literally less than a foot away from our elbows. The second time a bit later they forced us to ride through a big swath of wood debris that ripped Aaron’s front fender out of the fork crown. Before we get to the fender I will say there were lots of other motorcyclists out on HWY 7 that day who were riding Japanese bikes that were reasonably quiet and kept a safe distance from us. To those bikers I say thanks!

Front fender carnage...

So as we are cruising down HWY 7 at a high rate of speed on the shoulder suddenly it looks like a logging truck got hit with a RPG and spewed large bits of bark and wood all over the place. Normally we’d just ride on the left side of the white line for a few seconds to get around it, but unfortunately some more of those morons on their insecure motorbikes swooped in for another round of harass the cyclist. So we plowed through the wood. I didn’t see Aaron behind me in my mirror so I stopped and went back. He was doing something to the front wheel of his bike and I was concerned he had gone down in the wood. The good news was he was fine and hadn’t crashed, but the bad news was some wood had jammed in his fender and sheared the fork crown mount and then jammed the whole thing forward under the fork. I’m amazed he didn’t endo, but the Rando Gods were obviously smiling on us that day! In another stroke of luck I had just upgraded my multi-tool before the ride and the new tool had the wrench size we needed to unmount the fender which was now useless.
We got Aaron’s bike rolling again and left the fender by the side of the road for retrieval on the way back down Hwy 7. We had been feeling pretty good up to that point, but somehow we never got back on top of things from then on. Luckily the route was downhill and we still had a tailwind to the Control #3 at ~150kms. Of course that meant it was uphill with a headwind on the way back! Gary B was at the far control with his travel van and new berg rando bike. I have been wanting a travel van myself and I’ve never had a Ti bike so I was envious of both fine machines! We didn’t stay long at this control as I think we both sensed our lack of training was going to make the return hard and we should start pedaling ASAP.

Team Rando Tractor hard at work on a climb - photo: Colin F...

We didn’t get far before I managed to get us onto the wrong highway and when we tried to discuss the way back on route we were both confused enough that communicating was a challenge. So we laid on the ground for a few minutes!!! before retracing our path back to Hwy 7. Gary saw us going backwards and stopped to ensure we weren’t totally lost and headed for Kamloops.
Gary told us about a cafe down the road that had good food and about his secret weapon [Coke! – the drink…] We decided to try both! After a rando burger and a coke I felt better and we did our best to fight the tailwind and uphill grade back to Control #4 at ~220kms. Not much to say about the return run back down Hwy 7 we got a bit of rain [but nothing terrible] and we didn’t have any Harley Davidsons strafing us. We took turns blocking the wind for the other guy and rotated through to keep our speed above walking pace. We were both happy and sad to reach the turn off of Hwy 7 and down the final stretch to the control. On one hand the quiet country roads were much more pleasant to ride than the edge of a busy highway and the headwind wasn’t a problem in the trees, but the terrain was uphill pretty much the whole way. We stopped at a gas station to get a Coke and snack a bit. Then we got down to the business of being Rando Tractors and chugged along the route. I think on balance I prefer uphill and scenic vs. flat and busy routes.

Bob B - photo: Dan McGuire...

When the control appeared down the road we were happy to take a break and chat with Deirdre and Bob B. We were a little suspicious that he was trying to deny us of our well deserved Lantern Rouge honours, but when he left before us we could relax secure in the knowledge we would not be denied! With only 80kms left I knew we’d make it before the time ran out. I just wasn’t sure how grim it would get before all was said and done. I kept eating and drinking as much as I could knowing that was the only thing that would stop us dead in our tracks. We had accumulated 5 bonus kms by this point and I was aware that we could ill afford any more simply due to the fact our morale couldn’t take the pummeling of extra pedaling. Before we left the control Deirdre kindly took Aaron’s rogue fender for us so he could ride without it strapped to his rack bag – thanks! We geared up for night riding with reflective gear and switched on our lights. Then we set off on the last leg of our mainland rando adventure.

Aaron close to the finish...

Aside from a couple crazy steep hills that we walked we made decent time [for us!] back towards the finish through some lovely country side with the sun setting. My GPS’s maps are old and a bunch of the route was essentially not programable, but I knew we’d appreciate having some navigational assistance on the last leg so I had her ready to roll. I still used the cue sheet as my main resource, but it was nice to get confirmation of what I thought the cue sheet was saying as there were times when my eyes and brain weren’t cooperating 100%! Getting into the city was good for morale as we knew we were close to the end and we had the back up of services if we needed to stop and eat/take a break. I never appreciate gas stations in my day to day life as much as I do on a brevet! I really like night riding so I had fun cruising through the city by headlight. Well at least until the last 15kms or so. We were both starting to lose the plot in the last few kms. I knew we’d make it, but there were a couple times when we just needed to sit down by the side of the road and not be on the bike!

Info control photo so we couldn't DNF due to brain fog!

I can assure you we were stoked to get to the information control ~7km from the finish. In our mentally challenged state we didn’t trust ourselves to correctly answer the skill testing question so we documented the mailbox sign in question with a photo and also took a photo of the nearby bike overpass to back up our claim of being there if something went wrong. We muddled along the last few kms. Deirdre drove out and met us to make sure we hadn’t fallen asleep in a ditch. It was nice to see a familiar face and know the finish was just a few turns away.

Eric F - photo: Dan McGuire...

Thanks to Deirdre and Bob for organizing a fun ride and being patient with us Rando Tractors as we chugged away slowly over the course. That is one of the benefits of being slow – you get savour the course for much longer than the fast folks!…=-)

Hatzic Hills 300K Map - click on image for full size...

Ride Stats:
  • Total Distance = 307kms
  • Time Riding = 14.4hrs
  • Total Event Time = 18.25hrs
  • Time Off the Bike = 3.9hrs
  • Climbing = ~3000m
Our lack of training was painfully obvious as this event progressed. However, I subscribe to the philosophy that training is like voting. You don’t have to do it, but if you chose not to don’t complain about the results! Having said that I did come up with a positive aspect to our slacker approach to brevets this year. By not training and riding slowly with tired bodies and foggy brains we are in fact training for future events when things go off the rails and we need to deal with adversity. We also got in a lot more night riding than other folks because we were out there for so long. Wow that almost makes it sound like a cunning plan!…=-)

Click on image for map and route info - note ride stats are not mine!

The Good:
  • I had fun [most of the time!]
  • my bike worked well
  • I was comfortable the whole time
  • wool clothing was well suited to ride temperatures
  • SON & Edelux lighting was great
  • Petzel e+Lite micro headlamp clipped to my helmet’s visor in red solid mode was good for reading cue sheet in the dark
  • it was good to have company during low points of the ride
Aaron did a great job tackling a PR for distance in challenging terrain. The hardest part of a brevet for me is the mental part and his positive attitude in the last 3rd of both events we’ve done together has been very helpful. He’s got some plans for a 650B Kogswell and/or VO Polyvalent rando rig to get his fit dialed in and make carrying stuff a bit easier. We’ve been talking about doing rando inspired light tours around Vancouver Island that will get some more miles in our legs without having to use the “T” word…=-)~

Colin & Alex Ride Volunteers - photo: Dan McGuire...

The Bad:
  • the travel & resulting lack of sleep before the event wasn’t great
  • I’ve got to take a look at what I’m eating and see if I am eating enough as I had several low points that seemed like they were diet related
  • it’s clear that we can’t count the first 150K of a 300K as a training ride for the last 150K!
  • not training means we’re slow and being slow means a harder ride simply due many extra hours on the bike

You can tell this was early on as there are riders behind us! - photo: Colin F...

Looking ahead I would like to get in a 400K this year, but I’m not sure the Vancouver Island event in two weeks is the one I want to tackle. Aaron is not interested in riding a 400K this year and without the morale boost of another Rando Tractor I’m not sure how I would feel when I hit 300K+ on the course. I’ll give it some thought and also look at events in July when my fitness will be a bit more respectable. I’ve volunteered to help out with the Van Isle 600K Mike C is and his wife Brynne are running at the end of May. That way I’ll have two 600Ks under my belt in 2011…lol…even if I didn’t actually pedal a bike during either event!

Strategy planning - photo: Colin F...

Thanks to every one involved in organizing and running the event. Also thanks to everyone we rode with/near – it was fun! I’m impressed with the BC Randonneurs they do a awesome job putting on brevets. Also special thanks to Dan McGuire and Colin Fingler for taking photos…=-)





Sharon’s Cross Check Redux…

3 05 2011

Sharon's Cross Check with Titec H-bars...

Update: Sharon really likes the Titec H-bars – especially the forward aero position. Although she found out the hard way that unlike drop bars the H-bars don’t have brakes close at hand when you are all stretched out and hammering. After nearly blasting through an intended stop she’ll get out of the aero tuck next time and be ready to squeeze some brake.

On a funny note she was stopped by a fellow cycle commuter at the hospital she works at and asked if she was a randonneur. When she said no and asked why they thought she was the other cyclist responded that her bike looks like something a randonneur would ride. We had a laugh about that!…=-)

I posted a bunch of photos on my Bow Cycle Blog about upgrades to Sharon’s Surly Cross Check commuter rig. The biggest issue she was having was some discomfort in her hands. We tweaked the drop bar position and double wrapped it for extra padding, but she wasn’t happy with the result so I swapped in a Titec H-bar for a more upright MTB position that she is used to while still providing some lower/more forward hand positions to battle a head wind.

Sharon heading out on her first commute with the new bars...





Mac Power!

2 05 2011

2 Macbook Pros and a Mac Air...

This blog is created and published exclusively on Apple computers. At home I use a 15″ Macbook Pro hooked up to the monster monitor in the middle. On the road I use my 1st generation Mac Air portable laptop as well as my iPhone 3GS to approve and respond to comments. I retired the 5yr old 17″ Macbook Pro on the left, but it’s still in good shape so Sharon adopted it for checking email and web surfing. I use an old Dell XPS for running a few older software packages that are PC only, but I won’t be replacing that beast. When it dies I’ll just load Windows up on my Mac in Parallels Desktop.

I know they cost a bit more than their PC counterparts, but since I use my computers a lot the more attractive physical form factor and easier to use interface makes it well worth the extra $$. I also don’t miss having all those compatibility problems that I did in my PC days nor having to reinstall the OS and all the drivers on a frequent basis to keep things running smoothly.

I have my criticisms of Apple as a company and how they do somethings [ie. the horror that is the App Store], but my next computer will be an Apple that’s for sure…





Epic 2011 Fleche Report

1 05 2011

Photo: from The Daily Randonneur...

I guess the weather was pretty epic on the east coast for the DC Rando Club’s fleche ride. The Daily Randonneur posted a report from Team Four Guys and Another Guy that is worth reading – just make sure you are warm and dry with a hot cup of tea first! Click on the image above to jump to the report.