Friday, August 26, 2011

No riding this weekend... Survival mode.

This past Sunday, I was trying to plan out my rides for the week (since I've not been getting on the bike much at all recently) and I was hoping to go for a ride out to Cold Spring this weekend. But it appears that I've been foiled. Stupid Irene. Now, I'm all for riding in the rain... but riding in this weather would be a little insane.

Let's see:
- Worst hurricane/storm system to hit NYC in decades.
- First MANDATORY evacuations of areas of NYC in... well, ever. Like EVER.
- Current forecast is calling for almost 7 inches of rain. 7 inches!!
- Hospitals and nursing homes are being evacuated. This includes my hospital, where hundreds of patients are being moved or discharged. Interestingly, the magnet for the MRI has been powered down and (I didn't know this) it takes a week for it to power back up again. What?
- The NYC MTA has said it will be canceling all public transportation starting on Saturday at noon. That means no buses, subways, or trains. The bridges may be closed as well if the winds get very strong.

So what does the intrepid cyclist do in weather like this? Well, head out to my parents' place this afternoon to make sure they're ready and well-supplied. Then come back home and batten the hatches for the next 48 hours. Maybe all my cycling gear with get the once-over and I'll spend Sunday tuning up my bike. Again.

For those on the Eastern seaboard, please be safe. No need to be a hero against Mother Nature.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review - Pika Packworks EEP travel case

My biggest concern travelling to France for the Etape last month was figuring out a way to travel with my bike. I wanted a case that would, most importantly, protect my bike. But I didn't want to bring along a huge, heavy, hard case that would be a pain to lug around. I wanted something that I could move easily and that I could take onto a train or put into a taxi with minimal fuss. Essentially, like everything in cycling, I wanted something light and strong. I had heard about the Pika Packworks EEP case for a while through some other cyclists and some of the online reviews of the case were very favorable. So I decided to give it a try. And I'm glad I did.

Pika Packworks is a small company. Actually, I believe it's really just a one-man operation. I had a chance to talk to Mark Smedley over the phone before ordering the case and he sounds like one of the nicest guys out there. Mark makes all the bags... by hand... in his basement. He learned how to sew when he was young and, as a graduate student, gained experience sewing heavy fabrics because he was constantly repairing his rock-climbing bags. Using his experience as a mountain bike racer, he developed the EEP (Exercise Equipment Pack), which is the bag I used for my trip. His bags have been used by pro-level racing teams for years and has gained quite a following in the cycling community, despite the fact that he does no advertising. All his business is from word-of-mouth recommendations or user reviews.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Forgotten Grand Tour

I always feel a little bad about the Vuelta.... it's like the ugly sister of the grand tours. In my mind, the Tour is the pretty, smart sister who all the guys (advertisers) chase after. The Giro is like the really hot sister (think Angelina Jolie) who may not be as sharp as the Tour but is damned sexy. The Vuelta... well, it's the Vuelta. Still an amazing race but it pales a little in comparison to the other two tours.

That said, I think the Vuelta will be an interesting race this year. I'm looking forward to some of the climbs that they're going to do, especially the terrifying AnglirĂș where the final 6.5km averages over 13%. I think the overall will likely be won by a pure climber, though the moderate length TT in the middle gives people like Menchov a chance to damage the field.

A final quick thought of the morning... I need to get out more if I'm making analogies between grand tours and hot sisters.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Garmin Vector - 2012 and $1500

Additional details were released today about the Garmin Vector. Initially slated for release in Q4 of this year, it will now be released in the spring of 2012 (March, as per Garmin). As a pedal-based powermeter, it will be easily swappable across bikes and can allow the rider to get powermeter readings across multiple frames, groupsets, and wheels. The price will be approximately $1500, which is in the range of other powermeters but because of its flexibility, I expect that it will appeal to quite a lot of cyclists (both those who have used powermeters in the past as well as new users).

There are 4-sided strain gauges in the spindle of each pedal, which allows independent power readings from each leg as well as aggregate power output. The gauges communicate via external transmitters that are clamped between the pedals and the crank and use the ANT+ protocol, which means that headsets like the Garmin Edge 500/800 can be used. It's a simple and elegant system.

Should be an exciting new product! (And no, I don't get sponsored by Garmin... if it ends up sucking, I'll be very disappointed.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Gran Fondo Philly (where was Noah's Ark?)

At this point, it didn't matter where I stood... my feet were THAT wet.
I had spent all of last week drowning in paperwork and was really looking forward to riding the 2011 Gran Fondo Philadelphia. Last year's event was challenging and fun (if somewhat poorly organized) so I was excited about doing the ride again. Unfortunately, the weather decided that it wasn't interested in cooperating at all... and I exchanged drowning in paperwork with drowning in rain.

What exactly happened? Well, the forecast had seemed somewhat ominous in the days leading up to the ride. But given that meteorologists seem to be about as right as often as I win at blackjack, I was hoping that the weather would clear up for the ride. But when I woke up at 3:30am on Sunday to drive down to Philly, it was raining. And not just a little bit... it was raining record-setting amounts. But playing the role of insane cyclist, I loaded my bike into my friend's car and headed down to Philly....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I don't know what's going on but I'm drowning in paperwork. I went on a really beautiful ride last weekend that meandered up to Bear Mountain and back and I haven't had a chance to write about it. Which kind of sucks since I rode with some cool people and I wanted to jot down some thoughts in a ride report... especially since my memory feels like it's been fried recently.

I ordered myself a new toy this week and I'm looking forward to trying it this weekend... if it arrives in time.

Anyways, if I can get through the next few days (actually, the next 48 hours), then I'll at least have the Gran Fondo Philadelphia to look forward to this weekend. It sounds like it'll be a tough ride, especially since I haven't been able to put in many miles during the past few weeks. But I'm sure it'll be a fun ride. I'm especially looking forward to tackling the Manayunk Wall for the first time... that's going to be fun!

Friday, August 5, 2011

When the things we buy are better than us

"I can't believe he just spent $XX for that new ____. He's not even a good cyclist. He couldn't even keep up with our recovery ride the other day and he's spending money on things like that. What a waste."

We've all witnessed or have been guilty of situations like this... where it appears that an individual has spent "more than they should" on a piece of cycling gear. But what exactly does that mean? Where is that fine line that separates a good purchase from one that is extravagant? And when do we risk ridicule for buying something that is "beyond" what we should?