Winter Clothing Considerations and Other Stuff

This is kind of dumb but I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit.

So I’ve been riding in a cotton t-shirt with a wool/polypro pullover on top and have been much warmer than previous years where I wore a jersey and baselayer.

I’m wondering if I’m just acclimated to the cold or if there’s a difference between relative warmth of a slightly looser baselayer/top and a tight fitting jersey.

I’m thinking my body does better by being insulated through tiny warm air pockets near my skin from looser fitting tops than it would by a thick(er) layer right against the skin.

I remember getting up early to ride in November dressed in regular kit, coasting down the hill out of my apartment and getting blasted by a freezing wind that cut right through my kit. Turned around, went home and went back to bed. I have yet to have that knife-edge wind wearing looser tops. A lot of the polypro clothing I have is just cold feeling too. I’ve never gotten out of a shower during the winter and been like “Oh man I really want to put on one of those 100% poly racing t-shirts.”

They’re just colder I guess.

But really maybe this is just a renaissance of going back to how I used to ride. Cut-offs, t-shirts, a hat and my bicycle.

Which moves me to another thing I’ve been thinking about. When I first, first started riding if someone asked me how my bike rode I would respond like this:

“Man, fixed gear riding is so fun. It feels so fast and looks so cool. I got wide tires (lol @28s) and they ride really well and sometimes it’s bumpy and sometimes I feel slow and shitty but I really like riding and going places I’ve never been and seeing how fast I can ride sometimes.”

Now? Someone asks me and I respond like an asshole:

“Well, 650b is obviously more cush than a 700c tire but I’ve found it to be slower as well. I like the cornering on pavement but the back end seems to be a little too stiff, look at those chainstays. I think overall the blend of road and mountain technologies is a good thing but it’s not quite perfect yet. The bike feels good on most terrain but I think the stiffness of the frame and especially the front end give it sort of a dead feeling on gravel and rough terrain. It doesn’t necessarily plane for me but in some instances it performs really well.”

‘Course this is just symptomatic of the bigger issue of having 6 bikes, discretionary income, and no real time obligations outside of a job. Back when I was poor, unemployed and living at my mom’s house “things” were a lot easier because there wasn’t any other option. Try to find a job, spend time with my family and ride my bike. It was nice I guess.

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Controlling the narrative, a look back the Peachtree Road bike lane fiasco.

GDOT was always going to remove a travel lane to add a center turn lane. Knowing this was going to be an extremely unpopular choice and most likely would get extreme public backlash they added bike lanes to the proposal as a magnet for criticism. It worked very well, a lot of people got excited about being able to ride a major transportation corridor to work, the grocery store, neighborhood bar, or shopping mall. A lot of other people got seriously pissed about losing a travel lane “for bicycles” and completely missed the fact that they were losing a travel lane with or without the bike lanes.

What’s really shitty is that the striping for bike lanes was going to use existing roadway and not take anything away from cars. So now, when GDOT re-stripes the road, instead of a bike lane there will just be slightly wider outside lanes.

It’s this sort of short-sightedness that is so silly. I still ride Peachtree often and since the lanes are already so narrow there’s really no choice but to take the whole lane in most sections, integrating with automobile traffic and lowering the overall speed of that lane significantly. Which is obviously less convenient for drivers than a bike lane would be. Some of the choice quotes from the opposition were hilarious

Tuxedo Park Civic Association president Mercy Sandberg-Wright: 

680

 

You know exactly what these two people are going to say:

I drive this stretch of road daily and have yet to see a single bicyclist.

Which means “I spend between 1 and 3 minutes on this road (it’s less than 0.5 miles long) every day and never see any bicyclists.”

Same as “I never see any sexual harassment at work, must not happen.”

Same as “I never have any problems with cops, must not be an issue”

“GDOT claims that if Peachtree’s lanes for motorized vehicles is reduced from six to four between Pharr and Deering roads — the Buckhead corridor — and a turn lane is added in the middle along with two bicycle lanes, the reconfiguring will “create a much more uniform traffic flow, which will improve the efficiency of the roadway and allow Peachtree Road to handle more vehicles per day.

They’re doing this anyway, just without the bike lanes. Obviously no one read the proposal, they saw “bike lanes” and fired up the old Selectric.

“Peachtree Road between Pharr and Deering is way too dangerous for bikers.”

We’re riding there anyway, we’re just taking the whole lane and slowing you down. So, good job?

This was a major story (in the Atlanta bike scene anyway) for several months and was done a real disservice by the local news outlets who did their best to relay only the planned items having to do with bike lanes or streetcar items. I’m convinced a better proposal could have sold the bike lanes and added a world-class amenity to this city but I know that was never the point anyway.

Bike lanes were never really coming to Peachtree Road, they were just there to make sure a travel lane could be removed.

Tags: Dumb shit that makes you mad.

Atlanta Gravel Cycling Course Notes

Course notes for gravel events around Atlanta, GA

Dry Course Notes:

Assault on Mt. Currahee

Cross bike is definite advantage due to paved descent at the start and the 10 minute paved climb at the end. Overall course is compact and smooth. Some washboarding, some chunky loose gravel but overall not much advantage to having suspension. There’s a short singletrack section with some sand and a creek crossing but right after is a steep hill that seems to wipe out any advantage gained from these two sections.

https://www.strava.com/activities/503692889

Southern Cross

Mountain bike has a huge advantage if you can handle the descents. Lots of climbing on smooth dirt sometimes studded with smooth boulders embedded in the surface. A few sections with loose gravel. Descents are generally gravel/dirt and sometimes loose and sometimes with significant washboarding. Best strategy seems to be to coast the descents (again COAST THE DESCENTS) and rest to attack on the last rolling section back to the winery.

https://www.strava.com/activities/509381483

Shake ‘n’ Brake

Mountain bike has a moderate advantage depending on road surface. Rolling course seems to have consistent deep chunky gravel. But also some dirt and a singletrack section long enough to gain real time with an MTB. Moderately long paved section comes so late in the course that cross bikes generally cannot gain back.

https://www.strava.com/activities/554619392

Raider 48

A few sections of rough dirt and very chunky gravel. No clear advantage to either style of bike as there are long smooth sections and moderate paved sections. Most likely significant time could be gained back on the last long paved section. Small turnout and not a real competitive event in 2016.

https://www.strava.com/activities/561128354

Red Clay Ramble

Cross bike with 35mm-40mm tires. MTB is at a severe disadvantage as there are no real descents and the gravel/dirt is very smooth with small aggregate. Paved sections are moderate and there are few deep/chunky gravel sections. I’ve done MTB & Cross and the MTB was not very fun.

https://www.strava.com/activities/682881571

Sac o’ Suds

Cross bike has mild advantage. Rolling course with smooth gravel & dirt but some deep/chunky sections. Moderate singletrack/powerline dirt section but it’s unclear if an MTB can gain any time here as it comes before a moderate paved section.

https://www.strava.com/activities/766758020

Standard Deluxe Dirt Road (Metric) Century

Cross bike has an advantage. Rolling course with smooth dirt & gravel and moderate paved sections. Very little large/deep/chunky gravel. A few dogs and bring a turn by turn GPS.

https://www.strava.com/activities/768052459

Wet Course Notes:

Assault on Mt Currahee

Lots of mud, sections of dirt become soft and narrower tires tend to sink. Recommend something with wider spaced knobs. Climb up Currahee is very slippery when wet as it turns to mud and is spilt 30% to climbing and 70% to descending. Would also expect to run slightly lower gearing if available. 46/34 11-34 would be a good choice.

Southern Cross

Mud, slippery rocks and some sections of soft road. Also large potholes filled with water. Same as above, recommend a more mud-focused tire. Long descents and mud/dirt may tax brake pads on disc brakes so either run fresh or bring spares. I’ve seen more than one person trying to walk to the SAG after destroying their pads. Dirt on body/bike is more sandy clay. 22/34 low gear is nice to have – lots of walkers with cross bikes.

Shake ‘n’ Brake

Moderately long sections of road become soft and become similar to riding quicksand with 40mm and smaller tires. Recommend wider tires with moderately aggressive knobs. Some mud, can get very slippery. Dirt on body bike is silty clay and exfoliates quite nicely. Every year I’ve given up and walked a bit, even when I had a 22/34 low gear. Mentally this has been my toughest course because I’ve always ended up so isolated for so long. Dirt on bike/body is silty and exfoliates very nicely.

Sac o’ Suds 50

Singletrack section is very slippery due to leaves, overall course is not too affected by wet weather but there are a few sections with large deep potholes that will fill with water. I’d use the same bike as in the dry and plan to lose time on the singletrack that can be made up on the paved section immediately after.

Haanjo Comp Update

Right under 2,000 miles/6 months on my Haanjo Comp so I have a little update. Overall the bike is still riding fine. Spent quite a few hours riding in the rain this week and blew through the stock pads on the front spyres pretty quickly. Replaced with Shimano B01S pads and performance is significantly better. Here’s a nice little post from another blogger that was helpful:https://accidentalrandonneur.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/replacing-pads-on-a-trp-spyre-mechanical-disc-brake-caliper/

I did have an unusual issue on Monday; riding in the rain and dark I took a little shortcut in behind a strip mall where all the dumpsters are and ended up riding through an invisible trash pond that went up past my hubs. I have two bright front lights but it was so dark and wet I just didn’t see the huge pond/puddle that had filled the road caused by a series of blocked drains. I managed to ride it out but almost right away my rear shifting had degraded significantly and my front shifting has show a little chain suck as well.

As few days later I noticed my brakes were sticky and took a lot more pressure to squeeze the levers. Nothing else seemed to be affected but I wouldn’t be surprised if the wheel or bb bearings were affected as well, but not much to do about those now. Anyway, I fixed the rear shifting by cleaning the guide area under the bb and adding two turns to the barrel adjuster on the rear derailleur. Front is ok but not 100% like it was before. I know riding through a huge trash pond is unusual but I would still question the wisdom of routing cables under the bb on a gravel bike.

Anyway, the brake issue was a lot more surprising, I cruised through my apartment complex and when I went to brake at the gate I squeezed the lever and nothing happened. OH SHIT!

After a quick panic I SQUEEZED the lever and and felt a solid click/clunk and then the brakes were working ok but took a lot more pressure than before. I suspect the capillary action drew water up into the housing and started the cable rusting or housing corroding. I spent a few days trying to lube it but back to perfect function but I went ahead and just replaced the cable and it works fine now. I didn’t see any rust on the cable but did see a little bit of white corrosion on the cable were it would be under the handlebar tape which is really weird and makes me wonder if there is a hole in the housing? Anyway, weird and unusual and I’ll try to stay out of such deep water in the future.

So, the bike is riding fine and I still like it pretty ok. Wish it had a front rack.

Drop-Bar MTB Fitting Update #2

 

So I saw this bike from Peter Verdone:

http://www.peterverdone.com/hybrids-are-back/

And then spent some time thinking about how my drop-bar MTB is currently fit. I did some measuring and realized I am riding the equivalent of a 160mm stem!

Recognizing this completely changed my riding style.

Link to ride

I really took some time to work my body position back and get some weight off the front wheel and it really shows. My time on descents has been super-fast and the bike feels amazingly stable and fun at speed in the drops. I am so excited to ride this bike during this years gravel races. Even been thinking about running it in some of the chainbuster MTB races – I wonder if it would be a problem to show up with drops?

I was so excited at how well I was riding I took the time to stop and note things in my phone so I wouldn’t forget. Seems like going back and forth between bikes makes it easy to ride the harder bike poorly if I’m not vigilant in paying attention to what I’m doing.

 

Drop-Bar MTB Fitting Update #1

Right now I’m running a Deda 60mm stem with Deda RHM01 44cm (ctc) handlebars on Size L 2010 Breezer Thunder Comp. I’ve got about 50 hours on the bike, all gravel or single track.

It’s a fun bike to ride but it’s also a hard bike to ride. It takes a while to adapt to the handling every time I ride it. Front wheel wants to collapse into the turn and the steering does not feel stable. It’s easy for the front wheel to get knocked around by roots/rocks and overall confidence on rough sections take a while to develop.

It’s hard to lean the bike, body lean and hip English require a lot of effort.

However! I can ride this bike pretty fast on single track and have had no back, hand or neck issues on rides up to around 2.5 hours. I guess it’s pretty well fit now but there’s always the nagging feeling that something is off?

Maybe it’s due to the frame being too big? TT is 605mm, or maybe it’s just slightly counter intuitive compared to my other bikes. Trail is 71mm, mechanical trail is 67mm and wheel flop is 21mm.

Charge 29er is 586 top tube, 81/77 and 25 and it feels great to ride. Probably due to wide bars and closer position.

Hmm.

 

Notes:

Turn in brake levers to test for better reach with gloves

Alternately – add spacers to bring levers closer to handlebars and adjust brake calipers to compensate.

Test lower stem

Test longer stem

Test shorter stem

Buy light 26 tubes from Performance Bike

Raise seat 3-5mm

Potentially move handlebars from Haanjo Comp to this bike

Get good at counter-steering

Determine Front-Center and check