January 18, 2012
A few years ago I sold an old steel bike that I was not using very much and bought a new fixed gear/single speed. My previous FG/SS bikes had always been frame up conversions whenever I could find the right frame, so this was going to be a first. I decided on the Felt Dispatch because it had road bike geometry, came fully equipped with drop bars and brakes and, first and foremost, it was available.
2009 Felt Dispatch
I’ve been riding this bike a lot lately because I sold my Jamis Xenith Elite last month. (Hey Renea – when is my new bike gonna get here?). I’ve gotta say, I’ve really enjoyed it. Until this last month I’ve only used it in fixed mode but since flipping the hub to the freewheel side I’ve been doing longer rides both alone and with the group. The only issue I’ve had is on flat sections and down hills. I just cant seem to spin faster than 115 rpm and find mydelf running out of gear.
The overall impression? It’s been kinda liberating – No intervals – No hill repeats – Just riding along.
August 16, 2011
Even though it might still be August and the thought of needing a light is far-fetched to many, there are still times when one is necessary. If your like me this year, the over whelming heat has taken its toll and has caused me to start my training rides before sun-up to so as not to fry.
I’ve needed a good light for some time and decided to take the plunge when NiteRider introduced the new MiNewt 600 Cordless. This light incorporates a one piece, integrated battery design, has 600 lumens of output and comes complete with handlebar and helmet mount as well a USB and AC charger. See NiteRider for detailed specifications.
I’ve been using the light for the last week and am impressed. Though it’s a bit heavy to use with the included helmet mount (190g) it is perfectly well suited for the handlebars and is very easy to set up with the included quick release mount. Below is a picture taken in our storage room to show the level of output.
Output at 600 Lumens
At a price of only $150, the light more than lives up to its billing as the best in class lumens per dollar ratio.
June 8, 2011
Something became crystal clear to me this past Sunday morning at 10:10 am. I need to get a Road ID.
This weekend, the racer and I did not do our usual Sunday morning ride out of the Shop. As we do every year, we volunteered to do mechanical support at the Day 2 start of the South Central Texas Tour de Cure. That meant we were up early on the road by 5am to San Marcos, TX for the start. Every thing went as usual as we pumped up a few hundred tires, changed some flats and generally made sure everyone was ready to ride.
We were home by 10:00am and eating breakfast when the call came. A good friend had been involved in a crash in the sprint finish of the Road Race in Fredricksburg, Texas and no one had his wife’s contact information – Luckily I did. I saw him on Monday in University Hospital in San Antonio. He’s going to be OK, but its going to be a while before he’s back on his bike.
Two things need to be stressed here.
- You need to have emergency contact information with you at all times while your riding or racing. (It turns out he was wearing a Road ID, but no one knew what happened to it.)
- Those disclaimer forms we’ve all filled out a thousand times before every race – Please slow down and write clearly. The information may be vital.
Yesterday I bought myself a Road ID and signed up the shop to be a dealer. Go to our website
click on the banner and get one. If you can’t spare the $20 come talk to me, well figure out a way to get it done. It’s that important.
May 4, 2011
I was chatting with a new customer in the store the other day and he started asking questions about an article I’d written when we first opened the shop. I had just come back from a number of different group rides around Austin and was amazed how different the groups behaved while on the road. Now, when I first started cycling I had the privilege of riding with a group of experienced racers who thought it their responsibility to teach proper group riding etiquette to the new members of the group. I never realized how important that lesson was.
Group rides aren’t races, or chances to show how strong you are. As best as possible, maintain the integrity of the group by keeping a steady pace and by watching for people getting dropped. Nobody likes being dropped off the back of the group to face the wind alone. The following rules of the road apply to all Southwest CycleSport rides.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals – Blowing through red lights and stop signs is a recipe for disaster and makes all cyclists look bad. Remember, no cyclist has ever won a battle with a motor vehicle. If in doubt what the laws are, check out http://www.biketexas.org/cycling_rules.html
- Maintain the smooth flow of the group - It is each rider’s responsibility to maintain the smooth flow of the group. When riding in a group, sudden movements of any single rider can be disastrous. This means that abrupt braking, swerving, or any type of erratic riding is dangerous to everyone. While leading the group, each rider must make his or her own best judgment regarding how long to lead. The proper way to pace yourself is to maintain the same speed as the former rider at the front, pulling longer if you feel strong, shorter if you can’t keep the pace. If the speed is obviously beyond your capability, then you should stay at the back and tell each rider to ‘pull-in’ in front of you as they move toward the back. If you need to stand, do so smoothly by keeping a steady pressure on the pedals thereby preventing you from moving backward relative to the rider behind you. Lastly, pedal down hill when you are at the front of the group; No one likes to ride under brakes.
- Never ride more than two abreast – In Austin we are blessed with many roads that have very wide shoulders – Bee Cave, 360, Southwest Parkway, 620, etc.) Riding two abreast is perfectly appropriate where there is a wide shoulder. On other roads with little or no shoulder, single file is the only safe way to ride as a group. To repeat: NO cyclist has ever won a battle with a motor vehicle.
- Never “half wheel” – Do not overlap wheels. A slight direction change or gust of wind could easily cause you to touch wheels and hit the deck.
- Stay to the right – Lead riders should stay as far the right side of the road as is safe. Pass on the left side only. Never, ever pass on the right.
- Ride Predictably - Riding erratically or unsafely endangers everybody in the group, not just yourself. Make it easy for other riders as well as vehicular traffic to anticipate your next move. Do this by riding in a straight line, keeping a consistent pace and by feathering your brakes. The leading rider is responsible for alerting for potholes, grilles, parked cars and other hazards. Point out and call out any road hazards ahead.
- Stay Focused - Keep an eye on the road ahead and other riders around you. Be attentive to audible and hand signals by riders warning others of pedestrians, potholes, parked cars or other roadside obstacles. Anticipate sudden moves by other riders as they swerve or brake hard to avoid an obstacle.
- Stay off aero bars – Aero bars are appropriate for time trials and triathlons; They are not appropriate for group riding. Stay off your aero bars if you are drafting in a group. If you must use your aero bars slide a few bike-lengths behind the last person in or lead the group.
- Call out mechanicals – What began as a group ride should end as a group ride. If you experience a flat tire or other mechanical issue call out to the rest of the group. We will help you get it fixed and get back on the road.
April 26, 2011
The good news? The Rookie Tri is done. The better news? I didn’t drown.
As I mentioned in the last post, I joined approximately 800 others on an early Sunday morning at Decker Lake in Austin Texas to compete in the Rookie Triathlon. Having never done a triathlon before I was a curious about what to expect. I arrived at the venue at 6:15 am and began the process of checking in. First to body marking where my race number (297) was written on both of my upper arms and both of the front of my legs and my age was written on my right calf. Then to the transition area where Chris helped me find my assigned spot and set up. By now it was about 7:15am and my wave wasnt scheduled to go until 8:40. Off to the truck for a nap.
The swim was the only part of the race that I was worried about, mostly because I didn’t know what to expect. Others had tried to tell me just how chaotic this part of the race could be but I was still unprepared. I had worked hard in the pool and was confident in my abilities, but I couldn’t get any sort of rhythm going. After 150 meters of being kicked and run into, my pulse was through the roof and my anger was rising. I needed to put myself in a happy place – which is just what I did. I stopped trying to pass people and just breast stroked to the finish.
The next two parts of the race went better for me. I was able to keep a good pace on the bike and the vast majority of the racers I passed were extremely polite and happy to move to the right so I could get by. The run started out a little slow but after 1/4 mile I was able to loosen up and lengthen my stride.
How did I do? I won my age group by 12 seconds.
April 18, 2011
This past Sunday was the Rookie Triathlon here in Austin, Texas. By some weird quirk of the cosmos, I was somehow convinced by a good friend that I needed to enter. It was promised that if I did, my karma would improve and that my chi would be in harmony. Whatever.
So I began my journey at the end of February for a race on Sunday April 17th. Having not run since the last disaster - and before that for more than a decade – and never haven swum, I assumed that a month and a half was more than sufficient. I needed the figure out a way the swim for 300 meters and not drown, ride 11 miles and not run over anyone staring ahead of me and run 2 miles without killing my knees and ankles. As a Belgian young lady I knew as a teenager used to say – ”Piece of Pie”
First things first; I needed shoes and a plan. I have a love hate relationship with running shoes. I know from past experience that a good quality and proper fitting shoe would make all the difference but I’ve been known to hold onto a nickel pretty tight. Nevertheless, off the Hill Country Running for the right gear . Nate Price, the downtown store manager, hooked me up with a pair of Brooks Adrenalin shoes (11 EEE) that fit perfectly.
The plan was easy. I called Derick at Durata Training and told him I was back in the game. After a few questions to confirm that I was not under the influence of any controlled substances, or uncontrolled for that matter, he outlined a plan. Now, Derick is a highly accomplished runner in his own right and Coaches a number of elite runners and triathletes, so I sat back a waited for the brilliance. Ready for it??? Start slow – I mean like hare and the tortoise slow, DMV slow, Florida old man driver slow. Oh yea, I forget the most important part of the plan – Listen to the Coach and don’t act like an ass. Easier said than done.
Now this was going to be a problem. Every time I tried to swim in the past, I couldn’t make it any further than about 25 meters before my lungs began to burn. I needed someone to teach me – Remember the friend that convinced me that a triathlon was a good idea? Well, he stepped up and volunteered to teach me. I began trying to swim twice a week at the Lakeway Swim Center and after a few workouts where I was passed by both 8-year-old kids and 65-year-old grandmothers I began to figure it out. Not very well mind you, but enough that I was pretty confident that I could swim 300 meters and not drown.
Am I ready? Probably not. Will I finish? No doubt. Will I enjoy myself? We will see. Stay tuned.
February 1, 2011
2011 Xenith Elite
A lot of people have been asking how I like the new Xenith. As of yesterday, I have about 350 miles on the bike over varying conditions and terrain. The verdict? I’m impressed.
The bikes sizes up just a little different from I was used to. The top tube is 0.5 cm shorter, the head tube angle is 0.3 degrees shallower and the seat tube angle is 0.5 degrees steeper. I initially set the bike up with the same measurements as the Addict and took it on its maiden voyage, but it just didn’t feel right. A few days later Dave Wenger of Durata Training hooked me up to the Retul and we checked the numbers. We ended up raising the saddle a full centimeter, reducing the setback and increasing the drop by 2.5 centimeters. It took a few hours to get used to the new position but its seems to be working out well.
Time for a shameless plug: If you’re in Texas and are looking for bike fitting expertise, there is nobody better than Dave
Jamis claims that the two types of carbon in the lay up create strength and stiffness yet still eliminate road vibration. I noticed this right away. The frame does an excellent job at smoothing out the road even over some of the chip seal pavement that we have here in Austin. It may have something to do with the different tires ( Rubino Pro’s verses Conti 4000′s) but the Xenith is much more comfortable that my last bike.
I was very concerned that the extra comfort was going to compromise the Xenith’s stiffness and performance. The BB30 bottom bracket shell, the asymmetrical chainstays and the tapered head tube create a bike that is both responsive and quick. Though I haven’t raced the bike yet, I have had a chance to push the limits on some training rides and the performance has been better than I expected.
What can I say about the performance of the SRAM Red drivetrain and the Easton EA 90 SL wheels. The components are smooth, responsive and light and the wheels are exceptional.
If there is a downside to the Xenith Elite its the weight. The bike weighs in at a full 1/2 pound heavier than the Addict which uses an older heavier SRAM Force group and the same wheels. Those who know me have heard me say on countless occasions that weight isn’t everything – performance, durability and comfort need to be factored into the equation.
Overall, I’m quite happy with the Jamis Xenith Elite. My first races of the year are coming up and I’m looking forward to a good season