Thursday, 21 August 2014

Titanium artistry or carbon engineering?

I am still up in the air when it comes to Carbon vs. Steel / Titanium.  I've never actually ridden a titanium bike, but I have ridden aluminum, steel and lots of carbon.  I love my carbon bikes.  They seem to move over the road with ease and quiet all the little bumps that would drive me crazy on my aluminum frame or the old steel bike I had.  That being said, there is definitely some mystique to the handcrafted boutique frames, especially built by the artisans of titanium. I really should go out and ride a titanium bike made by a professional.  I just haven't had the time.

My experience working in a bike shop was limited.  We sold two types of bikes - like many shops - the high end carbon and the low end aluminum (and some steel).  We sold mainly mountain bikes and a few carbon road bikes in the form of LaPierre and Orbea.  Didn't ride them much either, and didn't care for the Orbea at all - felt dead to me and uncomfortable.  I currently ride a Cervelo road bike and I love it.  It has several thousand kilometres on it now and its starting to show its age - creaky here and chipped paint there.  Not many stock parts on it anymore, most parts have been switched out along the way.

Which brings me to my interest in Titanium.  I've read and heard that the frame will last forever with limited changes in performance over its lifetime and will be light, strong and comfortable all at the same time.  Not to mention, my father was a welder and I learned to appreciate the fine art of running a beautiful welding bead and the proper finishing after.  I love bikes almost as much as I love to ride.  To own a masterpiece by Firefly, Seven, Eriksen, Independent Fabrication, or a few others would be like buying a painting you will never get tired of looking at.  The cost is prohibitive for most though - $3000 or more for just the frame and then you end up at over double that, easily if you install worthy components and a wheel set that matches.

Firefly beauty.

The artistry of the boutique titanium frame is totally opposite to that of most carbon bicycles.  The titanium craftsmen work in a small shop with a fine eye for detail and finish.  They take a non-rare metal and use their training to work with the "difficult" material to create a tool for us cyclists.  Most carbon on the other hand is made in Taiwan or China, hundreds at a time, by workers who probably make bikes half the day and golf club shafts the other half.  Just kidding.  But the point is fair.  The artistry is lost.  The real art for carbon bikes comes in the paint job - like Ritte.  A company that has created a brand out of a great story and a great paint job.  Colnago, Cervelo, Pinarello, Bianchi, BMC, Specialized etc. have a brand, millions investing in marketing, and race teams to sell their products.

Some argue its all in the engineering.  I agree with this partly.  There should be a premium on expertise and knowledge.  Certain high end carbon bikes feel much better to me than others.  So if they are all made in the same factory, it must be the design, not the production.  The cost of the frame for most companies is probably $100-200 dollars to produce!!  So the other $3000-5000 dollars is engineering and PROFIT?  It seems absurd that we pay this much for carbon bike frames.  At least if I buy a hand-crafted titanium bike built by a small shop, I pay the small business owner to continue being an artist and open his doors to more customers.  I can see exactly what I'm getting for materials and I know who is fabricating my bicycle.  Just as many of you know, look on and see the "fake" or "real" Colnago C60 or the Cervelo R5 for a few hundred dollars.  THEY ARE MADE IN THE SAME FACTORIES.  Is it quality testing that differentiates the products?  Is it factory seconds because the paint job is flawed?  I don't know.  I do know that I don't trust big companies.  I've worked in them.  It is all about the marketing and perception, and ultimately, profit.

The Cervelo R5

Maybe an R5?

Everyday I think about ordering one of those Hong Fu FM166 disc brake road models and testing the quality of the product myself.  It might be $400-600?  Or I could order the Colnago C59 disc for $5000?  I'm not sure which model the FM166 actually is, but I know there is a smarter bike nerd than me out there who probably knows.  But there is also the part of me that wants to support the Firefly's of the world.  Even if the two bikes perform exactly the same for me, the artisans of the world deserve my support!  I don't race, I just like to ride fast and enjoy the experience.  I don't need Contador or Cavendish's bike because I'm never going to ride like them, but the idea of paying 1000% mark-up kind of makes me puke in my mouth a bit (yes, I realize it's not just bikes).

Someone write me back and tell how they like their FM166.

What do you think of carbon? titanium? OEM carbon frames?

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

What the cyclist needs to know about caffeine

This was written by PacificHealth Laboratories - its a very good over view of why caffeine is a helpful (legal) drug cyclist and endurance athletes.  

Caffeine is naturally occurring chemical compound that functions in the body mainly as a mild nervous system stimulant. It has been shown to enhance performance in sprints, in all-out efforts lasting 4-5 minutes, and in longer performance tests.

Performance And Caffeine

It appears caffeine enhances performance in shorter events through four interrelated neuromuscular effects:
  1. Lowering the threshold for muscle recruitment.
  2. Altering excitation contraction coupling.
  3. Facilitating nerve impulse transmission. 
  4. Increasing ion transport within muscles. 
In longer events, caffeine delays fatigue by reducing the athlete’s perception of effort. It increases the concentration of hormone-like substances in the brain called ß-endorphins during exercise. The endorphins affect mood state, reduce perception of pain, and create a sense of well-being.
Caffeine has also been found to delay fatigue during exercise by blocking adenosine receptors on fat cells. As a result, caffeine increases the level of free fatty acids in the bloodstream and thereby increases fat burning during exercise. This latter effect of caffeine used to be considered the major mechanism by which is enhanced endurance performance, but it is not known to be a minor factor. In fact, for those who normally maintain a high-carbohydrate diet it is virtually a non-factor.
A number of studies have shown significant performance increases in various endurance disciplines following caffeine ingestion. In one study, elite runners improved their time in a treadmill run to exhaustion by 1.9% with caffeine. Caffeine boosted time to exhaustion in a cycling test by 15 minutes in another study. And in a study involving swimmers, caffeine was found to enhance performance in maximal-effort swims of up to 25 minutes’ duration.

Caffeine Is A Diuretic

Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it increases urine production, which could theoretically exacerbate dehydration during exercise. However, exercise negates this effect if caffeine. In a recent scientific review, researchers from the University of Connecticut wrote, “Dietitians, exercise physiologists, athletic trainers, and other sports medicine personnel commonly recommend that exercising adults and athletes refrain from caffeine use because it is a diuretic, and it may exacerbate dehydration and hyperthermia. This review, contrary to popular beliefs, proposes that caffeine consumption does not result in the following: (a) water-electrolyte imbalances or hyperthermia and (b) reduced exercise-heat tolerance.”

Caffeine Usage

Caffeine is commonly used by endurance athletes 30 to 60 minutes before races to enhance competitive performance. The ergogenic effect of caffeine is dose-dependent. The maximum effect is seen with doses of 5 to 6 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. For a 150-lb runner this translates to roughly 340-400 mg, or the amount of caffeine you’d get in 14 to 17 ounces of drip brewed coffee. The minimum amount of caffeine the average runner must consume for a measurable ergogenic effect is about 2 mg per kilogram of body weight.
It makes less sense to use caffeine as a daily workout performance enhancer, for two reasons. First, workouts are seldom maximal efforts. Second, the ergogenic effects of caffeine consumption decrease with habituation. For this reason, if you are a regular coffee drinker, you should cease coffee consumption four to six days before participating in a race.
In moderation, caffeine consumption does not cause any health problems. In fact, a daily cup of joe is good for you. The health benefits of coffee come from its caffeine content and its unique blend of antioxidants. According to Harvard Medical School, “Studies show that the risk for type 2 diabetes is lower among regular coffee drinkers than among those who don't drink it. Also, coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, discourage the development of colon cancer, improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease, and reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease.”
However, heavy caffeine use can cause or exacerbate problems ranging from headache to insomnia, and it is possible to become physically dependent on the drug. Caffeine is especially harmful when used as a means to stimulate artificial wakefulness or energy in those suffering from conditions such as chronic fatigue. So if you do like caffeine, limit yourself to one mug of coffee or green tea in the morning. Those who rely on regular “caffeine injections” throughout the day are well advised to cut back.

Caffeine and Sports Drinks

An alternative to taking a single large dose of caffeine prior to racing is to consume a caffeinated sports drink throughout races. In a recent study, conducted at the University of Birmingham in England, looked at the effect of caffeine on exogenous carbohydrate oxidation (i.e. the rate at which carbs consumed in a supplement are burned) during exercise. Cyclists received either a 6% glucose solution, a 6% glucose solution plus caffeine, or plain water during a two-hour indoor cycling test. Researchers used indirect calorimetry to measure the amounts and proportions of fat and carbohydrate oxidized during the test.
They found that the rate of exogenous carbohydrate oxidation was 26% higher in the cyclists receiving carbs with caffeine than in those receiving carbs without caffeine. The study’s authors concluded that caffeine may have increased the rate of glucose absorption in the intestine, providing fuel to the working muscles more quickly. The likely effect on performance is the ability to work harder for a longer period of time without becoming fatigued.
Another recent study looked at the effects of consuming a caffeinated sports drink on performance in a warm environment. Sixteen highly trained cyclists completed three trials. Subjects cycled for 135 min, alternating between 60% and 75% VO2max every 15 min for the first 120 min, followed by a 15-min performance ride. In one trial they consumed flavored water; in another, a conventional carbohydrate sports drink; and in another, a caffeinated sports drink.
The cyclists completed 15% to 23% more work during the caffeine trial than the other two trials. Ratings of perceived exertion were lower with caffeinated sports drink than with the placebo and the conventional sports drink. After cycling, maximal strength loss was found to be two-thirds less for the caffeinated drink than for the other beverages.
This new research suggests that using a caffeinated sports drink such as Accelerade with Caffeine may be the best way to go in races.

What did I learn from this?  Drink caffeine in your sports drinks, but do not have too much especially if you haven't done it before.  It can make you feel terrible and give you a terrible gut ache.  Also, the pre-ride coffee in the morning is probably something I should start.  I'll wake up an hour earlier so I can go "shoot the shit" at the cafe, and take in some much needed caffeine before my rides.

Which sports drinks do you guys like best?  Why?  Is a nice strong espresso enough for most of you to get that extra energy?     

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The loss of a good friend.

I stepped out the front door a few days ago, walked to my vehicle parked on the driveway, and then noticed my garage was open.  My first horrifying thought ... I hope nothing happened to my bikes (aka my good friends).  And you know that scene in a horror movie where the actor grabs their cheeks and screams as the camera comes close and focuses in on their true horror.  That was me.

I realized immediately that something was missing ... my mountain bike.  It had been there the night before right beside my wife's good friend.  Her bike wasn't taken.  The thief obviously knew which one was worth more.  I immediately wondered if I had left the garage open or if someone had broken into the house or something else.  I made my report to the police and was given some unnerving news, it was something else most likely.  Apparently, a different thief had been caught with a devious remote control that he was using to open garages by breaking their codes.  He had broken into 17 garages and taken various items.  The police officer told me that it was getting more and more common.  I am guessing that someone saw my bike and knew it would be worth something.  The only good news from this, was they didn't take the other two expensive bikes I had parked in the garage (no longer there Mr. Thief in case you're reading this!).

The last time I saw my good friend.

The frustrating part to swallow about this situation is the potential of using my insurance.  I didn't realize that there was a cap of $2000 for reimbursement of stolen bikes, a $1000 deductible, and an immediate increase of 23% in my home insurance premium if I make a claim.  In the end, I might as well just buy a bike and move on.  Too bad I don't have another $5000+ lying around for a new bike.  

So a few pieces of advice.  First, keep your bikes in the house.  They are a form of art and should be shown off in the living room.  Secondly, check your insurance for the appropriate coverage if you have a bike worth more than $3000.  And finally, make sure you are at peace with the bikes you love.  You never know when they might leave you suddenly.  I wasn't ready to let my Ibis Mojo go.  

But, from every rain shower there is a rainbow right?  My rainbow is that I might end up shopping for a new bike when I have the money.  SOOO many questions ... 29er or 27.5?  XC or All-mountain?  Full carbon or save a few bucks and go with carbon/alloy?  Single or double chain ring?  SRAM or Shimano?  Big company or boutique frame?  I don't think I'm ready yet - still grieving.  However, there's always hope that my good friend will come back.  I know it would be a miracle, but you have to believe!

If anyone out there sees my bike for sale ... please let me know.  I'm looking for a good deal.  I'm sure it would be less the second time I buy it?

What's the best mountain bike out there right now?  Best company?  Best service for warranty?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Cycling attire for the newcomer.

When I first started riding bikes a lot, I was pretty reluctant to look like a cyclist with the tight jersey and the tight shorts.  I wondered why anyone would want to dress like that and if all of the aerodynamics were really important.  Of course, I am referring primarily to road biking in this conversation, because mountain biking is a different world.  Many mountain bike racers also wear the spandex costume, but most recreational riders stick to baggy shorts and shirts.

The skin tight costume is something to embrace.  It is both a specifically designed tool for doing the sport and a feedback tool for how in shape you are.  The less wind resistance you need to fight from loose clothing, the faster and longer you can go.  This applies to anyone who is riding for any kind of distance at any pace.  Not to mention, there are 3 very convenient pockets in the back of your jersey for snacks, phones, tools, or extra clothing.  The shorts are also a godsend because they have PADDING (more on that next).  The other function of the clothing is the "fat test."  There is no hiding your fat in these outfits!  I have started to take an early season selfies just to take the fat test.  It is never to be shown to anyone, just filed away for motivation - and wow, this year was pretty motivating.  Apparently, it was a really cold winter here and I decided to pack it away as insulation.  Next year, less insulation = better climbing!! (mental note).

The spandex shorts can be a touchy topic.  There really is only one choice for most riders (men anyways) - the Bib Short.  They stay in place and don't show your plumber's trademark.  In addition, they should have a comfortable chamois for your private parts (VERY important for longer rides), a radio pocket for your iPod (because race radios are not something most of us will ever have to worry about) and compression and aerodynamics for better performance. I have tested many Bib Shorts - at least 10 different brands.  None of them are perfect yet.  I'm still searching and reading reviews ... none of those reviews really seem to help. The other two options for the bottom are regular cycling shorts (preferable by many women for nature breaks), and shorts that are intended for sports like sitting in a lawn chair.  I will never wear plain shorts for riding unless it's a short ride to the store and back.  Why subject your precious jewels to that kind of punishment?  And why would I want to show my crack to every cyclist I pass?  I'm pretty sure they don't want or need to see that.  Bib shorts.  End of discussion.

When it comes to cycling outfits - there are two main approaches: reserved and quiet OR outlandish and commercial.  This year, the trends are definitely toward the more reserved, unless you choose to support your favorite pro team and dress the part. 

Option 1: Rapha Classic Jersey

Option 2: Hi-vis, Pro Team Jersey

Of course there are other choices from companies like Capo, Castelli, Assos, and lots of boutique brands that offer cool kits.  Just try that Google thing.

Bib shorts on the other hand should be black, and only black, for a few reasons.  First of all, white Bib shorts are terrible - they show way too much detail if you know what I mean.  And any color other than black doesn't hide dirt.  As Canadian cycling legend, Alex Steida, told us one day as he held up his hands after changing a flat quickly for someone in the group, "where would I wipe these if my shorts weren't black?"  Good point.  No baby wipes in my jersey on most rides.

Finally, a few key points.  Make sure you look good out there and stay visible.  Wear a helmet and gloves, or you're an idiot.  Take the fat test in the spring.  If you fail the test, try to lose some fat, it's good for you.  Apparently long socks are in, so go spend some money.  Cycling shoes DO make a huge difference.  No underwear inside your cycling shorts.  And, don't forget the chamois cream from Assos or DZ Nuts for long rides!

Which cycling apparel companies do you like?  Who makes the best Bib shorts? 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Banff Gran Fondo

I have had the opportunity to ride a few Gran Fondos in Canada and the one that stands out the most to me is the RBC Banff Gran Fondo.  The ride was limited to 1,500 cyclists in 2013 which is small compared to many Gran Fondos out there.  You could call it an intimate gathering.

The Canadian Rockies are a majestic place.  They are quite a bit different than the mountainous areas to the south of us in the U.S.A.  Banff national park is 6,641 km² (more than double the size of Yosemite) and contains really only two towns that are quite small.  Development in the park is extremely limited, which is quite different to places like Colorado.  Driving I-70 from Denver to Vail, you will see development everywhere.  In Banff National Park, by contrast, you will see the town of Banff, Lake Louise and a few rest stops and other visitor centres.  It is a wild place that looks a lot like land with paved trails in the outback.  In 2012, the Gran Fondo was cut short due to few large critters that wanted to watch the Gran Fondo up close.  Nobody wanted to risk a bear attack that year, so it was shortened.  

Riding in a huge national park without traffic on closed roads is a treat.  You get to enjoy the scenery and ride the pace you want.  The 144 km course has terrain that is not overly challenging, but there are a few climbs thrown in there to test you.  Guaranteed you will see wildlife - in 2013 we were almost stopped by a herd of Big Horned sheep that wanted to rest on the road and chew on the weeds in the ditch.  There are multiple waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and peaks which rise up around you to over 10,000 feet.  The fourteeners are huge in Colorado for height comparison, but they don't seem as high in relation.  I'm not sure if it's the base elevation or the rugged appearance of the Canadian Rockies, but they are amazing.

The rider support is fantastic at the Banff Gran Fondo as well.  The rest stops have all the water and fluids, facilities, food, mechanical help, first aid, and massage that anyone could need.  There are mechanics following the riders helping out as needed.  In fact, the first year I rode the Gran Fondo, I had a terrible mechanical on the climb out of the town in the first 10 km.  I had taken my bike to a shop for adjustments on my rear derailleur because I just couldn't seem to get it just right.  I didn't get a chance to test ride it before the big ride and it caused a massive chain suck on the first climb when I tried to shift.  It took me and 3 mechanics 20 minutes to get that chain out from between the spokes and the rear cog (understandably, they did not have all of the proper tools in their backpacks).  They also quickly adjusted the limit screws so it wouldn't happen again.  I thought the ride was over after only a few kilometers.  Thanks again guys!

If you are thinking of a Gran Fondo and want a truly unique experience, this would be a great choice.  Not only to you get to ride in one of the world's most beautiful places, but you will do it on closed roads with awesome support.  I also have a feeling that one day, Parks Canada will no longer allow this magical ride to happen.  There is always the question of what impact the ride has, and Canada holds it's national parks in a sacred place close to it's heart.

Do you have a favorite Gran Fondo?  Any opinions on what impact these rides have on the National parks?

Monday, 11 August 2014

Coffee and cycling or cycling and coffee?

I went for a 2-hour ride yesterday out in the country with two great people.  They are smart and interesting and a lot of fun to talk to.  However, it's hard to talk when you are staring at each others rear ends.  Not to mention the wind blowing, the motor homes honking at you, and the lack of air in my lungs.  In an ideal world, we would be able to ride in pairs in a nice wide shoulder on the highway.  Instead, we were barely fitting into 2 feet of shoulder with cars blazing past.

Cycling can definitely be a social sport in the right places with the right people.  I have been on many a ride with interesting conversation.  It's especially great if the ride is not exceptional for scenery or just plain boring.  Not to mention, it tests your fitness.  If you can't talk, you are probably riding beyond your level by too much.

That's where the post-ride coffee comes in.  Have a snack to replenish some energy and a nice coffee to enjoy while you reflect on your the two wheel journey.  It's the time to talk about the ride, life in general, or some fascinating new topic that your riding partners can teach you about.

When it comes to the coffee, I personally like the mochaccino best.  It seems like dessert after I have had a good ride.  If it's made right, it is the perfect blend of sweet, bitter, and richness.  I have my favorite mochaccinos around my city, but every time I travel, I search out the best mochaccino I can find (send me your suggestions ... I don't care where they are ... I will travel).

The cafe and the bike go together.  You pull up to the outdoor patio, park your bike, and sit down to relax the motors.  If you ride a bike, you tend to love the outdoors - they kinda go together.  The outdoor patio is a must.  And the indoor part of the cafe isn't too shabby when you get caught in the occasional thunderstorm and need refuge.  True cycling cafes honor the sport, but they aren't too common (at least where I live).  It's good to see some of your heroes on the wall, a classic road machine from the past, or a television showing some two wheel events.  Motivation to be like your idol - admit it, you want to be Merckx.

The pre-ride coffee is a different animal.  Many people love the caffeine and carbs before a ride.  I'll be honest, I don't have the time or the organizational make-up to enjoy this.  I'm lucky if I get to the meeting place on time with everything I need.  However, in theory, the pre-ride coffee is a good idea.  Plan your route, get psyched up to challenge each other, put in that last little bit of caffeine and energy, and launch your assault on the 10 km climb up a mountain pass you've been planning for (or the neighborhood bike paths).

In the end, there is no bad time for a coffee shop stop.  Enjoy the ride and the caffeine.

What are your favorite cycle cafes?  Where is your favorite mochaccino?  Do prefer the pre- or post-ride coffee?


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Riding with your wife is like ... a yo-yo.

All of us out there who are married, know that we married our wives because we love them and we like them.  We want to spend time with them because they are our best friends.  Hence, we want to ride our bikes with them because it means more time together doing what we love.  What is better than a ride on a nice day out in the country pushing each other to ride fast and get better fitness?  I'll tell you.  Not riding together.  It's kind of like working together.  At first it seems great and then you realize that husband and wife USUALLY see things differently. I want to ride for my new best times and she wants to ride for good times (ie. chatting about stuff).  I know there are exceptions and some couples are perfect riding partners, but this is my blog.  And there is no humor in everything going perfectly.

Now don't get me wrong.  I love everything about my wife but riding bikes with her is tough.  And it isn't her fault.  

I always want to push myself when I'm on the bike in some way.  Whether I want to climb the hill faster, or keep my average speed higher than the last ride.  I also ride a lot more than my wife and I have a faster bike than my wife (skinny tires, lighter, more expensive), so it's hard to ride slow for me (relatively speaking).  Our rides usually start with "Honey, let me know if I'm riding too fast and I'll slow down.  Stay pretty close to my wheel and I'll block the wind.  If I don't hear anything from you, then I'll assume you are keeping up."  Next thing you know, I turn around and she is a really far behind me.  That is the yo-yo.  Ride fast ... slow down ... ride fast ... slow down.  Eventually, she says "you go ahead and I'll ride my own pace."  I usually have a bunch of guilt until I'm in the red zone from pushing too hard and nearly collapsing. 

My recommendations for riding with your wife (unless she is the fast one and you are the cruiser):

I would tell her something along these lines ...
  • suggest that you'll take the kids and let her enjoy the ride with her friend
  • your man parts are really sore from a long ride the other day and if babies are planned for the future, you'd better sit this one out
  • the flat tire on your bike needs special parts
  • your hang over will just slow her down
  • your mother called and needs a job done at her house right now and it can't wait
In other words, just don't do it.  It never works out well for me.

On another note, I would like to say thanks to Trina for her mini-blog post that she spent tons of time on for me.  When I asked her if she wanted to write something for a cycling/coffee blog, she sent me this ...

"Don't drink hot coffee and cycle at the same time.  If you spill, you will burn yourself and crash."  Thanks Trina.  Saving lives is your forte.  I should have put that as a separate post.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Strava is more addictive than Caffeine! It's a fact.

I have to admit that I am addicted to Strava.  There is something compelling about finding out just how far you can push yourself doing a sport, even if you have no real intention of competing against others.  However, Strava gives you more than that.  It allows you to compete against yourself and others - without the stress of actually getting in group of competitive cyclists (or runners) and risking injury or embarrassment.  I find it both rewarding and motivating (albeit deflating at times) to compare my times for certain segments to other cyclists who have ridden the same routes as me.  My response is usually somewhere between "not bad for an old guy" and "holy crap, they must have been in a car to record that speed up that hill!"

Access to all the information that Strava makes available to you is amazing.  I am not an exercise physiologist or cycling coach (I will try and get one of them to write a blog post for us), but the data on my Strava clearly shows me my progress on hills, sprints, average speed, etc.  For an athlete of any level, there is value in seeing how well you rode today vs. last week, last month, or last year.  Not only to measure your progress, but to see if your overall level of fitness has improved or declined.  In addition, you can give yourself motivation to ride again.  I want to try that segment, or try and beat my time on that hill, see if my buddy out rode me on that sprint segment.  Motivation is undoubtedly the key to fitness for most of us.  Any tool we can use to help get us out there cycling (or running) is priceless.  And perhaps the best thing about Strava is that it's free and that we all have smart phones, and that means we can use this app to make our cycling better.  If you want to add heart rate and other readings, they are there too!  The premium version adds a few bells and whistles which are cool, but not necessary.

Follow Pros like Laurens ten Dam

Track your speed, elevation, etc.

The best screen is the segment comparisons ... compare yourself to other riders.

"Not too bad for an old guy"

The one thing about Strava that scares me a little is the segments that show up where some crazy dude rode 37.8 km/h through a stoller parking lot (or something like that).  When I see I achieved a personal record in a highly congested and busy area, I usually feel shame - even if I was only going 12 km/h.  I don't need to try for the KOM when it may lead to unnecessary loss of life or limb.  Hopefully the crazy dude was riding when the strollers were put away for the night.

If you haven't tried Strava already, put that app on your phone and give it a try.  It turns your cell phone into a Garmin for free!  I have the Garmin too.  Damn, that was a wasted $500 for me.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Two wheels and caffeine begins!

Bicycles are my passion - not because I race or because they can be engineering and technological wonders, but because they are universal.  People all over the world use them for work and play.  Tiny children all the way to the elderly use them as toys or transportation.  They are environmentally clean and a great source of physical activity.  They can be made relatively inexpensively and provided to millions of people to make their lives better.  They are the ultimate human powered machine which is a thing of beauty in my eyes. 

That being said, what isn't cool about the technology?  The past, present, and future of bike racing?  The new disciplines of downhill racing and terrain parks?  The pursuit of lighter, faster, and stronger bikes?  Personal training and the advent of tools like Strava to track your progress and set goals?  What is the cruiser phenomenon?

And coffee.  Oh how I love coffee.  So many of us enjoy a good cup of Joe.  I plan to explore: the relationship of coffee and cycling, the art of roasting, technology of brewing the best cup, and many more.  I'm not a coffee snob, but I certainly understand how people could become one. 

I want to explore all of these topics on this blog.  I will invite authors from different walks to contribute and share their thoughts and experiences on two wheels.  I will interview "coffee people" and coffee lovers and ask for their stories.  If there are stories about Two Wheels and Caffeine - Jackpot!  And locations ... places to ride and then drink or vice versa.  It's all good.

If you have interest in writing on these topics, forward me a message and let me know more.