Saturday, February 18, 2006

Saturday Musette

First, it’s COLD here in Oklahoma! The high is expected to be about 22F (-5.5C) with strong north winds. I had a snow drift across my front door and the driveway. This is unusual weather for us, and it’s exactly the kind of weather I gladly left behind in Pennsylvania. And it’s cold here at my desk even with the gas log nearby. I keep getting up and walking around to keep my feet warm.

I’ve ridden when it’s like this, mostly up north, but here the drivers are totally unaccustomed to being on snow and ice. Towing companies will do a brisk business today.

Still, I’m tempted to do a short ride on the fixed gear today, if only to convince my neighbors that I’m completely crazed.


Since I knew it would be cold this weekend, I stopped at the library yesterday to get some books. One of the librarians lives along my commute route and her dog comes out to bark at me when the mood strikes her. The dog is getting older so she doesn’t put a lot of effort into it, just enough to drive off the two-wheeled ‘intruder’.

We talked a little bit about bike commuting, in what Gary calls a ‘teachable moment’. I touched on the idea that riding a bicycle in traffic is actually fairly safe and that most drivers are accommodating toward cyclists. “The fools will still be fools whether you’re on two wheels or four!”

It’s good to know your local librarian, especially if you’re still in school or you have kids in school. They’re expert at finding information. When the time arrives to write that important paper, a librarian can save you tons of work. Before we had the Internet, before we had Google, we had librarians. Remember that.

And in case anyone is wondering what books I picked up, they’re “Midnight Plague” by Gregg Keizer, a WW2 novel, and Baxter Black’s “Hey, Cowgirl, Need a Ride?” I’ve heard Baxter Black on the radio, but this is the first novel of his I’ve read. Besides, if you’re going to write comedy, it’s helps to read comedy and see how it should be done!

Powerball Fantasies

I’m in a Powerball pool at work. Naturally, with the jackpot upwards of 300 million dollars, there’s been some discussion of what we’d do if we won. Most people would buy new houses, cars, boats, and even some airplanes. I said I’d probably buy some new bikes – an all-Campy road racer, for one.

“But wouldn’t you rather have a car?” one guy asked.

“If I had that much money, I wouldn’t need one.”

They all think I’m crazy too. Actually, Mary and the kids would all get cars and I’d still get around on my bike. Come to think of it, since things wouldn’t change much, I probably don’t need that money anyway.

Design a Bike

Tim the Masi Guy has a piece from back on February 6th about designing a cyclocross bike.

By Tim Jackson- Masi Guy

Ok, so suppose you were a brand manager of a bike company and were developing a cyclocross bike. You'd have lots of things to consider in the process; frame material, component spec, fork choice, types of braze-ons, etc... it gets a little dizzying.

So dizzying, in fact, that you turn to your loyal blog readers and ask them for help in the process so you can go to sleep and get rid of the thumping headache you haven't been able to shake for 3 days. That's what you would do...

Here is your chance to be an active participant and make your vote count (again);

Price not being the issue (to some extent anyway for this process), would you rather have A) a 'cross bike with an all-aluminum frame and disc brake mounts (with fork with disc mounts too) or B) an aluminum frame with carbon seat stay and no disc mount compatibility?

Disc brake adaptability or not?

The clock is ticking in this development cycle, so vote now!


For what it’s worth, I’ll add my two cents. Cyclocross (CX) was an off-season sport once upon a time, a way to maintain some fitness at the end of the road season, and fill the time before the winter indoor track events. Now it’s a whole discipline in itself, with lots of specialized gear. As always, specialized equates to expensive.

To my way of thinking, an entry-level cyclocross bike should be cheap and rugged. Someone said that you can get bicycles that are cheap, rugged, or light – choose any two. So I’d guess I’m saying that an entry-level bike would be relatively heavy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In order to keep the price down, I suggest that it be a single-speed. This has the advantage of requiring less maintenance, and allows the rider to focus on skills (or in my case, LACK of skills!)

The person who’s looking at a cyclocross bike probably already owns one or more bikes for competition. An entry-level cyclocross bike should be capable of filling some other niches besides racing. It would be a good training bike and an outstanding commuter.

I like the idea of the Van Dessel Country Road Bob. A single-speed aficionado or a fixed gear fanatic wouldn’t blink an eye at the price, but I think it’s too steep to consider as an entry level. Besides, at about the same price, you can get a Redline Conquest, and that bike has been under some national champions.

My thought was to offer an entry-level bike at about the 500 to 600 dollar price point. Could it be done? Frankly, I don’t know. But when you think about it, Bianchi and Specialized offer single speeds and even a track bike at that price.

Another idea was the ‘kit bike’ concept. This is hardly new. You’d choose a frame, maybe with a selection of different forks, and a component group to install. The components could vary according to your planned use, say, a fixed gear for commuting or a single speed for CX. This isn’t a new idea, as I said, but with today’s computerized ordering and inventory management, it may be a workable idea.


The Fat Cyclist had a piece on February 9th about CarBoom.


Back in November, I wrote a review of the energy gels I have tried. The short version of that story was: gels are a necessary evil. Except the necessary part, maybe.

Then, toward the bottom, I said:

There are a lot of brands out there I haven’t mentioned. Carb-Boom, for example. If they’d like to send me a batch, I’ll try it and even write about it.

To my surprise, I shortly afterward got an email from Mike of Carb-Boom, asking for my address. Turns out he took my offer at face value.

Now, if he can get some energy gels simply by writing about them, what would happen if I decided to write about a new Porsche? There’s plenty of space in the driveway if someone wants me to test drive one. Even a Mercedes or BMW would fit right in.

Just a thought!


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