Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The shoe was on the other foot. And it tasted bad.

So, I was in a car yesterday. We were leaving the shop in the alley going to 13th Ave. As we pulled up to the sidewalk, I leaned over to my friends steering wheel and honked the horn lightly. As I did this, the driver instinctively stopped as if I knew something he didn't know. We missed a cyclist by about 12 inches. He was on the sidewalk, riding very fast. We honked as a warning to ANYONE, but he thought we honked at him because we are not nice. We are nice. Well, some of us. Anyways, he gave us the middle finger all the way down the sidewalk. It kind of hurt, and kind of made me laugh. As I watched, he almost got hit by the UPS truck at the next street, which had just left our building. The word of the day is dismount. I have been looking for a single word to yell at cyclists on sidewalks and this is it. Dismount please. Dismount.

I should also say that there are situations where sidewalk riding is appropriate. The trick is that it becomes the responsibility of the lawbreaker (the cyclist riding on the sidewalk) to not get hurt. As you approach streets and alleys, it is your responsibility to not die.

I'm glad we didn't kill the lawbreaker, but I also hope he reads this.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kevin on the Ridge

We sold a Giant Trance to Kevin and then took him on his first real mountain ride in quite a while. Of course, we had to go to one of the most technical (rocky and steep) trails in Colorado: The one and only Dakota Ridge to Mathews Winters. Dakota Ridge will chew you up with its mighty incisor rocks and spit you out into the muddy field between it and Red Rocks. It is a hard trail, indeed.

The trail starts off with a large amount of vertical gain in less than 500 yards. At the top you begin to think the worst is behind you. You begin to feel adequate and warm. But, the trail has a different plan for you!

We encouraged Kevin to walk sections that he felt he couldn't clear, cause wrecking at slow speeds when you are trying to get used to a bike is for suckers. We are all for pushing the limits a bit, but walking back to the car with a broken you-name-it really sucks more than walking a little section so you can keep on riding.

We all were having slightly off days, so Greg and Andres both flipped over the handle bars once a piece. Scott couldn't clean anything without dabbing a little foot here and there. And Kevin was still getting used to a bike that actually has travel (his old bike was a Trek Fuel). We watched him get faster and smoother through the hour long loop. His smile also got more intense as you could see his confidence increase.

We finished up through the front of Mathews Winters and found ourselves flying through the air. Kevin did an amazing job getting better acquainted with his Trance. And the Trance did an amazing job letting him in to the wonderful world of letting go of the brakes and FLYING!

The weather was perfect. The trail was truly perfect. And we all had coffee and donuts afterward to make it a calorie neutral morning.

Greg - Jamis Exile 29
Andres - Mountain Cycle Hardtail
Kevin - Giant Trance
Scott - Maverick ML8
Myra - Paws

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Just the financial side

We all know cycling is more fun than driving. But you need to know the wallet side, too.

How much does it cost to own a car and drive it? On average... 52.2 cents/mile!

That comes to more than $7k per year for the average *new* vehicle.

"The expenses for a small sedan averaged $6,219 a year, compared to $9,373 for a large sedan. Driving 15,000 miles a year in a minivan costs $8,639 compared to $9,997 for the same distance in an SUV." -

Ummm... let's look at a bike and ALL (and I do mean all) the accessories and extras you could possible want/buy. I'm going to be generous. Clearly, you could spend more, but we are only commuting here.

Solid commuter bike - Jamis Coda Comp - $800
Lights/Bags/Racks - $300
Lock - $60
Helmet - $150
Cycling computer - $30
BUS Pass - (Most expensive one I could find from RTD) - $1620
Apparel for all conditions - $500
Extra food from burning all the calories - $1200

Total $4660

But that is for the first year. The next year, you don't have to buy another bike, or accessories or clothing.

That is an easy way to save over $2000 per year (being completely not thrifty with your money).
If you live close to where you work, then the RTD Pass is unnecessary. Perhaps you already have a bike. That means you could save nearly $6000 a year by not owning an automobile. Craziness. Now multiply that by lets say a safe 30 year career... That is somewhere between $60,000 and $180,000 during your working years. That is a lot of extra work for decadence.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fit Science - The it factor

The it factor. No one can truly explain it, but some bikes feel WAY better than others. I don't think it is just the fit of a bike, though that makes all the difference in the world on a road bike. But, certain bike brands continuously shock me with how great their bikes feel/work/function. Oh, by the way, we are talking about road bikes, definitely not mountain.

Through the years, the sleeper brands that come up are repeatedly the same: Miyata, Centurion, Some Fujis, Lugged Treks, Panasonic (hehe). After we repair these bikes, we test ride them and it is always the same response. Holy $*!^ these are SO nice, why did they ever stop making them? And moreover why do these feel so so so good to ride? I have tried to note some of the things that I have seen that makes them feel good. It still doesn't all add up to me, but it is a start of a list of things to look for when scooping up a garage sale or craigslist bike.

1. Typically, these are built from nothing but double butted steel (thicker where the lugs are and thinner in the middle with no loss of strength). This cannot be the it factor alone because plenty of "custom" frame builders use double butted steel and their bikes feel like so-so frames from anytime in history.

2. The geometry (of the road bikes) is typically similar in that the seat tube from the middle of the bottom bracket to the middle of the top tube is within 2cm of the length of the top tube center to center. What does this do for most people? It forces them to sit relatively upright; allows the weight of the hands to be nearly even with the weight on the rear-end. That is comfort! (note: this seems to be happening on Japanese lugged steel from mid-80s on, which the Italian manufacturers copied quickly)

Everything else doesn't matter from what I can tell. The parts hanging on the frame haven't ever made a bike for me. The frame is the glue pulling it all together. I have ridden some bikes that I am sure were not sold for very much brand new that felt better than almost any of the custom bikes I have ridden.

That said, the reason Salvagetti carries the brands we carry is just that: Black Sheep, Jamis and Giant all feel "it". They follow different rules then the old lugged manufacturers, but still get to the same place. We are very lucky to carry exactly what we love. But, the factors that led us to choose them were simple: The bikes have the it factor and people can afford them.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

White Ranch Testing Grounds

Chris from Generic Cycles and I went to White Ranch because we both kind of hate it. The downhill is super fun on Belcher (at least at the top), but climbing it is long and boring. It is the definition of a Front Range ride. 80% up, followed by 20% down and that is the end of the ride. BUT, this time I didn't hate it. I, in fact, enjoyed it.

I'm gonna stop for a second and explain something to everyone: Bigger bikes (as long as it still fits) have always been my preferred climbing bikes and smaller bikes have always been my preferred downhill bikes. This means the seat height as well as the top tube length. I have the most fun on my Brooklyn Park bike because it is short all around and I am a better climber than descender. I climb fastest on my Black Sheep 29er because it is 'Scott' sized for climbing.

Side note is done and I continue with my story.

Chris and I were both excited because the parking lot was about as empty as it could be at the bottom.

I set up the bike that I have been hearing so much about to be as tall as possible so I could climb like I want to. This bike is the Maverick ML8. More about the gear itself when I am feeling techy. I adjusted the seat such that I could get a great amount of extension and not tear myself up given that I have a negative bump. So off we go. Climbing. Climbing. Climbing. Turning. Climbing. Turning. Climbing. Turning. Climbing. Not turning. Not turning. Please note the lack of walking. I cleared everything. My preseason lungs weren't screaming at me because this bike is so efficient at climbing. It tracked through everything.

And then we got close enough to the top that the snow was becoming too frequent. So, we turned around. I pushed the knob by my right thumb and BOOM! I had dropped the SIZE of the bike to full dh mode. **We are talking about the Maverick Speedball Seatpost. It is like an office chair for your bike. Pneumatic and stylish, while still light. ** The top tube shortened dramatically. The overall height dropped dramatically and all of the sudden I was on my Brooklyn. But, not quite. The Maverick sticks through horrible line choices. It stick off of drop offs. It sticks to high wet berms.

I should say here that we were exceptionally responsible and didn't do any extra tearing up of the wet trail.

I intentionally picked some pretty horrid lines with to see if the Maverick would buck me. Not only did it not want me to go anywhere but forward, but it acted like a rubber ducky, too. It would pop me back upright even when my body was trying to force it groundward.

At the end of the rocky sections is a little creek area with a staircase and thin wooden path. I was so high from my ride that I could hardly keep my eyes on the trail. It was there that I figured out what the Maverick isn't so great at: Going really slow when the rider is not paying attention. My wheels went off to the side of the logs and I STILL DIDN'T FALL.

I loved riding this bike. It brought back all sorts of bicycle fantasies that I shouldn't talk about in public. This just means I have to get one of my own. The Maverick is the first bike I have ridden in some time that showed my quietly and confidently just how amazing it is. It lives up to the hype like a live Bob Log the 3rd show.

Scott - Maverick ML8 - DUC fork - Nice parts 6" travel front and rear
Chris - Generic Steel 29er - White Bros Fork - Bike sticker on downtube