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The First 24 Hours of a Bike Tour

3 Bike Law Clothing Kit

Let’s turn back time by a month or so, do you remember that I won a wonderful scholarship from BikeLaw.com to join their Blue Ridge Bike Tour?   That’s where I am now, on that 4.5 day tour from bed & breakfast to bed & breakfast down the Blue Ridge Parkway with Black Bear Adventures.

Day 1 of my Blue Ridge Parkway Bike Tour

Thankfully co-rider (and scholarship winner) Weldon Weaver nicely picked me up to carpool the two hours from Charlotte to Blowing Rock, NC.  A ton of great conversation and scenery we arrived at 1pm to our hotel.   Our fellow touring friends didn’t roll in until 3pm so Weldon and I were biting at the bit (dressed and ready at 3pm Peter!) Finally everyone was ready, and I think we rolled out around 4pm.  Most of us rocking our new Bike Law kits, wool socks and awesomeness.

Bike Law Clothing Kit

30 miles, a lightening storm, Blue Ridge Parkway and a killer descent.   A great way to start a 4.5 day bike tour!

Day 2 of my Blue Ridge Parkway Bike Tour

Blue Ridge Bike Tour

Wake up sore, feeling hung over (didn’t take enough electrolytes the day before) and not sure I was really prepared for the days climbing!   At breakfast we happen to see the days weather, and it didn’t look pretty.  Cycling cap on, Gore water proof jacket, and a baggy full of treats in my bag.

I suffered, and suffered some more.  Wet socks, wet cap, wet gloves, we ass.  You get the point.  We went up a whole lot, and down for what seemed like seconds (some of the best seconds I’ve had in a road bike in awhile.)

I learned a lot about myself.  I thought I sucked at climbing before, I am even worse than I thought.  But, damn I love going down hill fast!  I learned to keep pedaling, to find a rhythm in your body and keep trudging.

Tomorrow is a new day, I hear we are riding up Mount Mitchell.   For now I leave you with photos from Peter @ Bikelaw.com

The Bike Industry Needs More Women Like Liz Hatch

55 Liz Hatch Photo

The name Liz Hatch is a sensitive subject in the women’s cycling peloton .  The sexy blonde has made many pro women cringe.  Last year I mentioned her name during an interview with Team Vera Bradley and they weren’t happy.  Why?  Some call her a wanna be. Not fast enough to compete with the great girls.  Some call her a sand bagger.

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A Carbon 29er for Women from Specialized

2 2012 Specialized Fate Womens 29er

2012 Specialized Fate Womens 29erIn the past year 29ers finally hit the women’s niche of the market.  Locally I have only been able to put my hands on the Trek versions of the women’s 29ers.  After the test ride and looking deeper at the geometry I wasn’t sold. The bike didn’t ride well, but that was one brand trying their hand at the women’s 29ers. Specialized has had their own cross country recreational women’s 29er line out as well, the Myka. The line has several different models, from 26 to 29, including two different levels of the 29er hardtail.  Now, Specialized wasn’t the first company to the original 29er market – they were actually very slow about the movement. They must really love the bikes, and what 29ers can do for women (I Told You So) as they have released a couple new lines of 29ers for women, including a carbon hardtail.

The Fate – Women’s 29er carbon mountain bikeSpecialized Fate Women's 29er

Some of the details: Performance fit (race ready), 80mm travel, and a higher level of components. The Fate will be available in stores in September in two models: the Comp and the Expert. Each will come in three sizes: 15″, 17″ and 19″. Pricing is not yet finalized, but is expected to come in between US$2000-3000. (Details from CyclingNews)

Depending on the level you’ll see the spec of something of the following:  Roval 29er wheels, Renegade 2Bliss tires, XX chainrings with custom gear ratios, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and Specialized saddle, handlebar, stem and post. (Details from BikeRumor)

The Jett – Women’s 29er aluminum mountain bike

The Jett’s full details haven’t been released but this is what we found over at TwentyNineInches. M4 Aluminum (2nds from highest grade in Specialized library) and the same performance fit as the Fate. The exception will be rack mounts.

What is Specialized doing different with women’s 29ers

You’ve heard my rant about the wacky geometry that Trek’s 29ers possesed. I haven’t seen Specialized by the numbers, but they are doing some custom things to their new line.

First is a “women’s designed carbon layup”  which I am questioning to their product managers but it is an interesting thought. From there Specialized teamed up with Rock Shox for a custom fork.  At the 15″ size the offset of the fork is different, it goes to 51mm. Finally the headtube is as shortened as much as I have seen especially with the integrated headset that most production 29ers are using now.

From Bike Radar‘s Q & A

Hughes said Specialized has noticed that women have been slower to adopt 29ers than men. Part of the reason is that many shorter women believe they are too small to fit on a 29er. And in fact, looking at the geometries of bikes like Specialized’s popular Stumpjumper hardtail 29er (for which the smallest size is a 15.5″), that observation proves true for many women although possibilities for smaller female riders vary by manufacturer and model.

The Fate’s geometry will naturally position female riders lower and longer than they would be on the Myka. For example, on the 15″ Fate, a 10mm shorter headtube drops the front end of the bike, an 8mm longer top tube puts women in a longer, more racing-oriented position while 17″ and 19″ Fates have 20mm shorter head tubes. With 6mm shorter chainstays for all sizes, the Fate also climbs better and ends up with a shorter wheelbase (14mm for a size 17, for example) for quicker handling than the Myka.

One of the biggest issues encountered during the design process was addressing toe overlap, a common problem on smaller bikes, especially those with shorter wheelbases. To address this, the small 15″ bikes were designed with a 51mm fork offset while the 17″ and 19″ frames will feature the standard 46mm offset.

What does “Women’s Specific” 29ers mean for you?

The jury is still out.  The folks that have given feedback thus far are Specialized branded racers. I have a message out to Lea Davidson, who races for Specialized, for more specific questions from her last race on the bike.  These bikes were designed for those that like a lower front end, but want the benefits from a 29er.  The Myka is their recreational bike that will suit more women off the bat, but for the women wanting to push themselves further and faster or perhaps used to the Epic or Titus Racer-X the Fate is for them..  Finally, I am simply excited that a company like Specialized is seeing the women’s market big enough to design a new carbon line around it.

Once I know more, you’ll be the first people to know!

 

Camelbak Octane 18x Review

0 Review of Camelbak Octane 18x

Review of Camelbak Octane 18x Camelbak Octane 18x

MSRP: $99.00
Water Capacity: 100oz
Size: Expanded 20L, Closed 16L
Weight: 1LB

80 mile road rides, epic mountain bike rides, a Swiss Army knife that folds into a camel’s back. The Camelbak Octane 18x is a great bag. You’ll make some sacrifices on the long day trips for a lighter bag, but overall this is a great water hauling bag.

 

How the Camelbak Octane 18x Fits

To save some weight they take the structure and extra padding from the pack. The bag can be rolled up and the shoulder straps are thin.   With tons of weight this would make the pack pretty uncomfortable but with clothes and water it was great. I never used it to haul down hill gear on my back!  As a woman I normally have issues with the chest strap being too high on my neck, or stuck across my boobs. This one had enough room to move up and down without hindering.

Uses of the Octane 18x

Expandable, from 16L of room to 20L when unzipped.  This holds a good amount, more than the bag could probably support on your back comfortably. I stuffed it with clothes, shoes and food one day. Due to not having tons of back support it is easily conformed and the bag’s light weight material ended up looked like a sack of potatoes.  I loved the waist pockets with key clip and the zipped up minimal sizing.  I used this bag on the road since it was so light, on hike a bikes, and simple rides around town.  As long as the bag isn’t loaded down it is pretty ventilated.  It doesn’t have any fancy mechanics to keep it off your back, so you do get sweaty, but the bag isn’t heavy so it isn’t horrible during my southern humid commutes.

Final Thoughts and Review of the Octane 18x

When I was approached my Camelbak to review some of their product I had things in mind.  I’ve used many “all day” packs.  Ones that carry your life on your back comfortably.  I wanted something for cross country riding and possibly using on longer road rides.  Weight and ability to still haul was what I needed.

The Camelbak Octane 18x answered all my wants.  While it isn’t going to be perfect for everyone, it fits what I was looking for and that is rare in my life.

 

 

Weekend Riding Recap

0 Twin Six Thanks

It is always a motivating feeling to sit down on a Sunday evening and feel “fulfilled” from the weekend. Your legs are tired, maybe your tan lines are a bit stronger, and you are ready to start the 5 day recovery process that is the work week. That’s what the 5 days between the weekends are right, recovery?

This weekend was one of non-stop going for Kim (my better half) and the kids.   A huge year end lacrosse party at the lake, and then 7 little boys (10 & 11 year olds) came over to our house for a pool party and sleep over.   As she was juggling the coming and goings, I was juggling how to keep up with them and get a couple rides in.  I can say that I am daily thankful for her and all her juggling.

2011 Raleigh Capri 4.0
Arleigh Jenkins
Saturday was a quick hour and half spin, getting the legs moving and active after 3 days of no activity.   I should have gotten up earlier for the ride, but cuddling and the covers felt too amazing that morning.   24.46 miles on a Raleigh Capri in for review

Sunday was another story. I wanted to get some mileage in and I wanted to try out the Collier Lily 100k route. Again, I should have gotten up earlier. I wasn’t on the bike until 11am, about the same time Kim was taking the kids to the pool.  This was about 3 hours later than I wanted to be on the bike for that long.  You learn from your mistakes.

Weekend Bike Ride

Weekend Bike Ride

Weekend Bike Ride

With a hand wrote cue sheet, back up nutrition, camera and a charged cell phone I headed out.   At about mile 20 I missed a turn due to country roads not always having road signs.   Thankfully my cell phone had service and I mapped myself a new route.   The convenience store I was looking for at mile 38 was conveniently closed.  Going without water for 45 minutes had me double think my route and head home.   10 miles from home I stopped off at a gas station, purchasing a large fountain Pepsi and a bag of salt and vinegar chips.   The best two things I had tasted all day long.   Sitting outside the gas station downing the Pepsi and chomping on the chips.  Water in the bottles and finally on the stretch home.  51.4 miles on the Raleigh  Capri

Twin Six Thanks
Last but not least, I pulled on a Twin Six jersey this morning and during my 3 hours on the bike I thought about the guys many times. A couple guys that started out of their basement have now taken over the world of cycling attire. When I’m on the trail, or at races I get a nod and smile when I have their clothes or socks on.  A Twin Six know-em. It is good to be part of the club and I am thankful that Brent, Ryan and Mark have allowed me back in the club year after year.  Thank you guys – you rock.

Recycling Things: Chrome Salvage Bags

1 Chrome Salvage Bags

Chrome Salvage Bags
Companies have done it before. Using recycled material to make messenger bags.  First there was utilizing old truck tarps, then recycled tubes and now there is the Chrome Salvage Series.

Salvage Series uses reclaimed materials for the external panels of our Heritage Citizen to create unique, one-of-a-kind bags. Built in Chico, California, each series is limited by the quantity of available material. Each bag is stamped with the lot size and its unique number within the lot. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!

First of their type Chrome used US Army tents.  For $160 one of these could be yours.  A very cool concept, but I think if I was in the Army or retired this would feel pretty cool to have as my everyday bag!  Too bad my retired Army dad wouldn’t be caught using one. My sources at Chrome say these bags will go quickly and are only allotted to specific Chrome stores and quality retailers.  If you end up with one of these gems please post up!

Balancing Act of Riding and Family

1 Arleigh Jenkins

Arleigh Jenkins
This Saturday was much of the same if you have an active family with kids, and you’re a cyclist wanting to get in a longer bike ride.   I have a road bike to test out and review, a Raleigh Capri 4.0.  There’s lacrosse games on the other end of the city.  50 miles by car, 48 miles by bike.   The lacrosse game starts at 12pm, which means I need to leave around 8:30 in the morning to get there and changed in time.

Charlotte SkylineI quickly setup two bottles – one with Perpetuam, one insulated with plain water.   In my pockets I shove Gu Chomps and an extra bag of Perpetuam incase I go over the 3 hour mark or its crazy hot.

Out door.
Down 115 for about 19 miles.
Through Davidson and pass the Collier Lily ride.
Next is Cornelius, Huntersville.
Time trialing through the ghetto.
A quick photo of the skyline shot of uptown Charlotte.
Through Charlotte I roll.
Around 4th ward sending mental hello’s to Ben Wilson as I pass his flat.
A short cut down an alley with many memories.

Through Dilworth.
Down East Blvd.
Booty Loop in reverse.
Colony to Rea
Rea to Ballantyne Commons
Right on Tom Short
Fields on right.

The shock and amazement of all the parents that I RODE my BIKE there? 

Just a side note, make sure to pack extra calories if you’re going to be there all day long pack more snacks! I got a bit cranky at the end of the day do to lack of food and a ton of sun.

 

 

2011 Airborne Goblin 29er: On Review

0 airbornegoblin.JPG

 

MSRP: $1,199.95 A well built bike for  5 cents under $1,200.   For the person looking to upgrade their entry level bike, getting into 29ers or simply a deal finder that will upgrade the parts as they need. (I fit in the latter.) Weight: 18 inch is 28 lbs Key Parts: Aluminum hydroformed (shaped) frame, SRAM X7 2×10 drivetrain, Avid Elixir R brakes, RockShox Reba RL fork, WTB Trail 29 wheels.

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#30daysofBiking Day 2: The First Commute

1 Osprey Talon 22 backpack

Osprey Talon 22 backpack

I mentioned over this weekend my goal of getting back in to commuting.  To try commuting for the first time since my accident in October.  That is a super long time to be off the commuting habit!  This past Monday was Day 2 of the 30 days of biking, a great day to try bike commuting. What better day then today?

A 6 mile ride to Davidson, NC, then an hour long bus ride, and then the mile to work from the bus station.  The mile through Charlotte was my worry, stupid ass drivers cutting me off and putting the fear of death in me.  One commute in, work and then it was time to ride home.   The ride home was going to be the kicker, this is the time I was hit.  I had to ride THROUGH the intersection, I had to pass my skid mark.    I made it through, freaking out the whole way.

There is so much for me to write to get the feelings and thoughts out but now isn’t the time and I’m not there yet.  I commuted again today (Day 3 of 30days) and will be writing up the experience in the morning.   There is still a good amount of mental milage to make up and I hope I’m strong enough to do it.