Cross, Dropbar 29er and MTB Comparison

Just for fun.

#1. Flat gravel section, smooth and non-technical.

Gravel SectionGravel Section Graph

#2. Climbing, somewhat technical with smooth straight sections.

CCW Clockwise UpCCW Clockwise Up Graph

#3. Descending, technical with rocky sections and roots in certain sections.

Outerloop Over Columns CWOuterloop Over Columns CW Graph

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Event Report: 2018 Fried Green 200k Brevet

 

What a fast ride! I went in with a goal of finishing within R60 time and did so quite handily. Managed to nail my nutrition, hydration and control stop times with no issues. I had been reading about Jean Dubois in an issue of Bicycle Quarterly the night before and it really struck me his lamentation of the perception that modern randonneurs often just look to finish. Whereas his era was about riding hard and “putting in a good time.” This really crystallized the ethos for which I decided to get into randonneuring. I want to ride far as hard as I can within the rules of the sport, put in a good time and effort.

I got a little nervous the night before and the morning of but it was nothing but a little butterflies. The weather was amazing and the start was so close. I will admit I was a little exhausted the week leading up to the ride. I’ve been hiking too much and riding much more climbing in pursuit of ITP Points so it was good to finally be able to take Thursday and Friday to rest for a big ride.

The course was high traffic and it seemed like every other car was a truck and every other truck was towing a boat or a race car or a construction trailer and something else. I’m usually not used to riding so much on numbered highways or country trunk roads so it was a little more stressful that I prefer. This is apparently an organizational issue at the RUSA level. I’ve been doing a bit of research and this post from the New England Randonneurs is the most succinct summary I’ve found.

– The route needs to be fairly direct between controls. Backroads are OK provided that they don’t add more then 10-12% of additional distance instead of riding direct on state/US highways which allow cycling. For example, if the distance between two control locations via MA 115 was 40 miles and by using the nicer backroads the distance becomes 45 miles, this is generally OK. But if the backroad distance was 50 miles this would be too much overage and you’d need to use an intermediate control or take a more direct path. RUSA takes this seriously.

As someone who prides themselves on creating long distance routes that are low stress and fun to ride I find this deeply disturbing. We should be routed onto two lane 55 mph speed limit numbered state highways – just because RUSA says so? This is the kind of “rules are rules” nonsense that gets people killed. Not to put too fine a point on it.

I was passed by 42 cars, trucks or tractor trailers in the last two miles of this route, one every 12 seconds. The very definition of high stress. Why? Because RUSA wants to apply a more strict interpretation of the regulations than even ACP appears to?

Randon List Thread #1

Randon List Thread #2

Uh…anyway…

I had a really good ride. The course had smooth roads but also some aggressive chip seal, some mild chip seal, rolling hills and some nice secluded sections in the Peidmont NWR. I only shifted out of my big ring once and that was to get up McCrackin Street heading out of Juliette. I stopped for water once at the fire station on Round Oak Juliette Road and ate the food I brought. People at the gas stations were nice about signing my card and the info controls were obvious. I met local hardwoman Betty Jean Jordan at the control West of Monticello and had her sign my card. Really nice lady and funny to put a face to a name that I’ve been seeing on Strava for years.

I didn’t have any saddle pain but I have been having some issues with the left side of my back so I was stretching and making sure to move around on the bike as I rode. Really at the end I felt great, just tired and sore legs and mentally tired as well. I think I need to tone down the hiking the day before but otherwise I had reasonably good preparation. Lots of sleep and naps and eating ok but maybe a little too much. My mouth was a little torn up which is worrying for such a short distance but I think I just need to chew more and probably get some more liquid nutrition in during the ride. Maybe try some chocolate milk.

Next time I would like to get ready a little earlier and check out the other rider’s bikes. There were some interesting looking ones in the few seconds I had before the start.

I rode my Diamondback Haanjo Comp with tubeless Panaracer Gravel King Slick 700×38 tires using Stans Sealant. I think my pressure of 30/32 was a little lower and could have been higher for the smoother roads at the start and end. It was perfect for the middle chip seal. I used a Revelate Tangle Medium framebag and had just enough room for my tools, food and reflective vest. No front rack for now.

Earlier in the winter I paid much too much for a Masi Randonneur 650bx47 low-trail bike with the intention of riding it for the SR series. However I found the bike intolerably stiff and the tires/wheelsize overly slow so I chose not to ride it. I am happy with the choice I made, the additional weight and drag would have made this ride unnecessarily hard. I plan to revisit the bike but not any time soon for randonneuring. Which is a shame but oh well.

Of all the places I’ve ridden from, in Georgia and the Southeast as a whole, for some reason McDonough was one of the few that made me feel weird and like an outsider. I don’t know what it was but much of the route just felt odd to me, lonely and isolated in a way I do not usually experience. When I started riding as an adult I had to listen to music while riding, I needed it to ride. Sometime near the end of 2016/early 2017 I just lost my preference for it and have been riding with just the noise of the wind. This ride was the first time in a year or so where I would have preferred the option to listen to music. I will be digging out my tiny mp3 player and using it on future brevets.

So overall, a good ride. I am excited and nervous for the remaining rides in this years SR series.

Final Stats:

Moving time 7:30

Total time 7:44

Photos taken; 2

Clif Bars eaten; 5

Caffeine; 120mg + 40mg

Total Stops; 8 for controls (I rode by the info control for the bridge as I could read the year clearly at 25 miles per hour) + 2 for nature and water

Water bottles consumed; 5 but I ran out at the end and came in dry and empty

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.

2018-02-13_11-46-26

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 not 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.