Event Schedule 2018

Gravel
-2/17/2018 – Middle GA Epic 100k
3/3/2018 – Southern Cross
4/7/2018 – Skyway Epic 60
4/28/2018 – Big Frog 65
6/2/2018 – Red Clay
9/15/2018 – Fools Gold 60
9/22/2018 Dirty 130
11/3/2018 – Georgia Grinduro
11/17/2018 – Cohutta Death March
Standard Deluxe Dirt Road Century
Sac o’ Suds 50
Friend Green 50
Sasquatch 125/200

MTB
3/10/2018 – Old Capital Classic
4/14/2018 – Blankets Creek 15/30
5/12/2018 – Dirty Spokes Ft Yargo
9/29/2018 – Big Ring
10/6/2018 – Blankets Creek 3 Hour
10/13/2018 – All-A-Toona
10/27/2018 – Paynes Creek
11/24/2018 – Turkey Shuffle

Road

Track

Just for Fun

3/11/2018 – Belt Grind

Randonneuring

2/24/2018 200k – Friend Green Tomato 200k
3/24/2018 300k – Athens 300k
4/14/2018 400k – Birmingham 400k
5/19/2018 600k – Athens 600k

R70:
200 km: 9:27 hours
300 km: 14:00 hours
400 km: 18:54 hours
600 km: 28:00 hours

R60:
200 km: 8:06 hours
300 km: 12:00 hours
400 km: 16:12 hours
600 km: 24:00 hours

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Atlanta Update

Exploring the West Side for ITP points and ending up in some random dudes Strava photo.

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Race Report: Middle Ga Epic 2018

I won, also came in 3rd. Mainly because all the hardasses did the 200k.

Course was pretty well split between gravel, sandy/silty muddy dirt and pavement. Several people crashed in the first muddy rutted section, everyone sat on for the first 55 miles. I attacked with one guy and then two guys and got some distance, lost a few places once we hit the soft downhill but got a few back after one rider got stuck in some mud and the other pulled the ripcord on the rocky hill a few miles out. Managed to keep him in the distance and finish first in my class and third overall.

Nice event, had a lot of fun. Everything worked out pretty great, cut off shorts are fun.Shorts.jpg

Link to facebook pictures of the course

 

Metro Atlanta Update

I live on the far Northwest side of Atlanta and cycle the entire metro area. Cycling overall is definitely growing but the available roads that are conducive to riding are shrinking.

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Often when new road construction happens the designs are narrow and with no shoulders. Smaller roads turn into trunk roads and go from acceptable low-traffic two lanes to high-traffic four lanes in a few years. Bike lanes and grade separated paths exist and more are developed every year but for the latter corruption and pay-to-play is the rule so relatively few miles are developed for the millions spent. Road diets wherein a lane is removed and replaced with a bike lane or multi-use lane happen here and there but often the overall mileage is short and non-connecting. Overall connectivity is inconsistent and often a plausible connection between urban areas is foiled by nonsensical termination of bike lanes or paths.

Quiet, low-speed, two-lane side streets become high speed arterials as several hundred unit luxury apartments appear almost overnight. No change to the roadway at all, just major change to the user base. Increased density and infill leads to more traffic and the aggression that comes with competition for roadway space. Waze and similar traffic-avoidance apps push more cars onto surface streets not designed to handle the load and speeds non-residents prefer to drive. Pedestrians and cyclists suffer the abuse of commuters who wish only to spend as little time as possible in their neighborhoods. Much of the suburban development is based upon the flawed cul-de-sac design style that started in the 80s and continues to this day. Residential neighborhoods comprising 400+ single family homes will have one entrance and exit to a winding, narrow, two-lane road.

People commute far away as extremely high housing demand allows only the wealthiest to live close to the major employment centers. Petty racism and classicism further fuel this flight to once undeveloped areas along the near northern arc outside the Perimeter. As the housing stock turns over it’s no uncommon to encounter a family that has moved progressively further and further from the city center in 8-12 year increments.

The wealthy neighborhoods on the far northwest side of the city are a major source of respite for the urban cyclist. Wide lanes with large lots and their subsequent low population per square mile, with little connectivity to interstate entrances keeps traffic low. Roadway funding keeps the streets smooth and in reasonably good repair. Other cyclists provide familiarization but often prime motorists for conflict. It’s a fairly worthwhile trade-off, the conflict is often fleeting and nonsensical and usually only during very short evening periods on particularly heavy traffic days.

Perversely, the best places to ride are where the residents are too poor or too disenfranchised to own a car or multiple cars. The west side, southwest side, and south side see little traffic and often low speeds as well. However, these areas are plagued by poor roadway conditions with the surface often cracked, fulled with potholes or semi-permanent steel panels covering partially completed construction. Feral dogs are not uncommon nor are encounters with criminals or road closures due to law enforcement activity. In extremely poor areas cyclists stand out and it is important to respect the appropriate days and times that riding is a good idea in these areas.

Looking at Strava fly-by and observing riders while out driving or riding, much of the cycling is done on the same handful of roads connecting the same handful of loop routes. It’s hard to branch out and explore outside of the comfort zones. There are roads that are safe and comfortable to cycle one way with a moderate 1-2 foot shoulder that have no shoulder on the other side. Roads that appear to be quiet two-lane residential streets, when it reality they are high speed connections to employment centers or commuter alternates. Drivers will often hurl invective and abuse at riders not because they’re being impeded but because consequence is almost non-existent, to them. Especially during peak traffic times, law enforcement is sparse. The shifts at morning and evening commuting times are often spread thin flying from call to call but often with a lazy majority sitting in a parking lot somewhere watching videos on their phone.

However, enforcement for traffic violations committed by cyclists is fairly reasonable. Outside of flagrant safety violations with lots of witnesses the only interaction with law enforcement is often chastising through an open window or over a loudspeaker.  As with many areas drivers will often deputize themselves but their complaints are worthless and often come from a lack of understanding cycling on open roadways and the laws and customs thereof.

Increased activism has allowed more representation of cyclists and their needs. However, as the recent Peachtree Road adjustment project has shown there is often significant public backlash against any perceived increase in driving time due to accommodations for other road users.

Clement Strada LGG Review 700×32

Clement has been re-branded as Donnelly but the Strada still exists.

https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/road-bike-reviews/clement-strada-lgg-2017

https://www.donnellycycling.com/products/strada-lgg-folding-bead

I put in a ton of miles on both the blackwall 120 tpi version as well as the tanwall 60 tpi version. The 120 tpi rolled a little better but there was a lot of overlap, if you have a choice and don’t care about aesthetics get the higher tpi, tanwall is only available at 60 tpi. Both measured true to size and ballooned out to 37mm on 23mm internal width Kinlin rims. The tires are fairly stiff with thick tread, they ride a little harsher than a more supple tire but the flat resistance is amazing.

Around 3,700 miles on the rear and it still had enough tread left to prevent a flat from a pretty big piece of glass. I did not have a puncture related flat in 4,600 miles of total riding on the tires – which is mind-boggling to me.

So the tires are pretty good, they’re cheap, last a long time and have reasonable traction in the wet and cold. As the BRR test above shows the rolling resistance is pretty bad but I did find that it gets significantly better as the tires age and the tread thins out a bit. My tires were rolling much faster at 2500 miles than they were at 250 miles, without much impact to flat resistance.

Masi Speciale Randonneur Update

I went on a mixed-terrain 96 mile ride over the weekend. For those local to the Atlanta area it was most of the Dirty Sheets route down near Chattahoochee Hills, GA. Mostly smooth roads and smooth gravel – I rode this route several times on a road bike with 25s years ago and had no issues so it’s pretty mild. The gravel sections were a little tacky due to the ice/snow from the prior week but overall in good shape.

The main takeway from this ride was how stiff the front fork is. I think the designers may have used stouter fork blades than necessary to provide additional durability and avoid issues as seen with the Elephant NFE fork. In that case; thinner supple fork blades, an aggressive bend and short ISO mount combined to cause durability issues that manifested as cracks in the fork blade. Masi has also used a short ISO mount but with much larger diameter tubes and a less aggressive bend. There is also much less taper down to the fork ends that I expected. Possibly this design choice may also be an attempt to handle front loading as well as prevent shimmy?

However, overall the bike rides really well. The frame feels much better than the fork and I had less shoulder and arm soreness than usual when riding my aluminum/carbon forked gravel bike. Low wheel flop and low trail make the bike ride intuitively on the road and much easier on gravel where you can steer more when the ground is loose without leaning quite so much. Fenders are stiff enough that there was no vibration or rattle issues but do need some mudflaps as the bottle bracket was caked with dirt after the ride. No shimmy but there is definitely some oscillation that can be felt at certain speeds when riding no handed and not pedaling. Could be position related but I’m still getting data as I ride more.

So I like it quite a bit, not as supple as I think it could have been but overall pretty good for a production bike. Here are some pictures compared to a 2016 Soma Double Cross Disc. The Soma definitely “planes” for me and has obvious visual fork flex when riding very fast on gravel or singletrack.

 

Mechanical Failures

Many years ago I had the nds side of a nutted crankset loosen up while in the middle of a long ride. I managed to pedal mostly one legged to an Autozone where I begged to borrow a 14mm socket and ratchet – tightened things up enough that the crank stayed on until I replaced it months later.

I sorta didn’t learn my lesson with that experience though. The next year I had the same thing happen on a different bike – I had put a tiny ratchet and 14mm socket in my saddlebag but the cranks I was riding were 8mm hex fixing bolt. I was so ready, had the bike locked into a stop sign and my tools all laid out when I went to tighten the fixing bolt and felt like my brain missed a shift on seeing the 8mm hex. I was training for my first century and was several miles between towns in the rolling green veldt between Atlanta and Athens, GA. No cellphone signal, the only businesses I had passed had been abandoned service stations and I hadn’t seen a house in a while.

I had a cheap performance bike brand multi-tool but it only had 6mm hex, I fussed around with different combinations of jamming the tool into the 8mm opening but couldn’t get good torque. Eventually I realized I could jam everything together using the 6mm and a bunch of tiny pieces of gravel. It worked well enough to get me home wherein I bought a torque wrench and have not had any issue since then.

Lately I’ve been having issues with the NiMH batteries in my lights failing. I was out riding around south of Dallas Georgia where there’s pretty much nothing. Late autumn makes for long and very beautiful sunsets in this part of the state. As it gets darker I’m rolling along and switch on one of my two headlights – get a very dim beam. Hmm I had just taken the batteries off the charger 3 hours earlier before I left. I make the incorrect assumption that the batteries are bad and have self-discharged in the short time off-charger and unused.

I try my other light and it’s the same thing. Well hell now I have to try to ride the next 4 hours with minimal or no front lights. My rear lights are fine so I decide to just keep going with my weak, ineffectual front lights. After about half an hour the lights suddenly flip to full brightness. I’m scratching my head here but that’s fine with me I guess. I make it home and after some reading it seems the cold weather affects the batteries and reduces the ability to output high-draw power. Running them in low mode allowed the internal resistance to heat up the cell enough to start putting out the higher pull for my lights to go into high mode. I could have done the same thing by putting the cells next to my body and heating them that way.

This is my third fall/winter season on these batteries and I had not had this problem previously so it seems to be an age/quality issue. I replaced with better batteries and added some lithium batteries as backups as well as another light, just in case.

Once I had the pedal eye of a FSA Vero Cross crack 8 miles into a planned 130 mile ride. It was a stressful, mostly one-legged ride back to my car and then a wasted day getting it fixed before bailing halfway through the ride.

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Other than that I’ve only really had spokes and three frames cracking but those were closer to home and although stressful, fairly simple rides back.