Friday, September 30, 2011

Cycling Claremont: Good Times Bike Rentals...

Since we are facing the weekend now, how about a Cycling Claremont profile of a local bike business that is weekend-specific. Good Times Bike Rentals sets up shop at the corner of Indian Hill and 2nd on our favorite days of the week. Look for them Friday and Saturday, certain Sundays during special events, and you can call to reserve. You can rent those four wheeled pedal cars, which have long been a big hit along the Santa Barbara waterfront - use them to tour the architectural and art sites in the Village. You can also rent tandems for longer excursions, maybe some museums at the Colleges, or the International Museum at Pilgrim Place. Call the number in photo below for rates and hours.

it wasn't until i got home, after taking this photo, that i noticed the little plaque on the front.
i am not sure if you can rent this, or if it is strictly for advertising purposes

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Preferential Parking...

If when constructed for autos these things are known as carports, does that make this a bikeport? Protection from sun or rain, at least when rain is unaccompanied by wind. This is great, but will there be parking wars over the few available spots? Didn't look like it today, since there were a number of unoccupied spots, and the unsheltered racks across the way were mostly full. Pitzer College - looking out for the bikes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Four Years Between Flats...

Well, actually a month shy of four years. The other day, I had the opportunity to fix a flat on my mtb (the fully suspended Felt - I am sure there has been a photo of it here at one point or another). In doing so I came to the realization that I have never changed a flat of the front wheel on it. The back wheel, sure, plenty of times. Not that this is unusual; on mountain bikes, even more so than road bikes, your weight tends to be heavily on the rear wheel, so you don't get flats of the front as often. 

If only you could gauge heft through a photo

Now, four years is quite a while, plenty of time to forget about a flat here or there. What makes me confident about this run of unusual good fortune is what I saw when performing the fix; I was not prepared for what I pulled from that front tire - it was not your normal tube. It was some sort of freakish monster tube, the likes of which I have never before encountered. Its thickness easily equaled two or three normal tubes. Honestly, this thing weighed as much as either the tire or, yes, even the wheel. This is something I most definitely would have remembered if I had seen it before. When deflated of air, it did not hang limply from my fingers, but maintained a perfectly round shape. When I checked the inside of the tire, searching for the cause of the flat, I found and pulled, eleven thorns, or fragments of thorns. All of these protruded far enough to have caused a normal tube to go flat; only one of them was responsible for my flat. Anyway, regardless of the weight I would have saved by changing to a lighter tube, I patched up the old one and put it, and the tire, back on the wheel. I figure it has saved me nearly four years worth of flat tire aggravation - I will deal with a little extra weight, and after all, I was oblivious to it before. Don't know who made the tube, but it came from Taiwan, and is a standard 26x1.25 mountain bike size. I just hope this thing never does go flat out on the trail; I don't think I could fold it enough to fit into my camelbak, so would need to patch it on the trail.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quotable Link: Steel Wheels...

I don't know how it would hold in a corner (actually I can give a pretty good guess), and don't think I would be tempted to try cornering with any kind of speed. Besides that, it seems like it would be awfully springy. It is sure pretty though, and I would cruise around on it for the novelty. 

"...this awesome bike sporting wheels made out of ribbons of tempered steel..."

United States Elite Track Nationals...

Reminder, the Elite Track National Championships come to the Los Angeles Velodrome, beginning tomorrow. It is a chance to watch many of America's best track cyclists compete for the right to call themselves National Champion. It is also likely that, at least some of these same racers will be representing the United States during the London Olympics next year. Click here for basic information, here for more detail and to buy tickets for special Friday and Saturday events, or here for the schedule.

Well, that unfortunately settles it. I was hoping to make to the velodrome for at least one night. Thursday was the most likely and it just did not happen, and there is no possibility this weekend. Bummer, it should be quite a party tonight and tomorrow, with the biergarten and music, and all. It should be ripping. If you can't make it either, there are a couple blogs where we should be able to get our fill of recaps and photos; check Ride the Black Line, and trackosaurusrex, and of course the USA Cycling website.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Change Your Life, Ride A Bike...

You may be familiar with that phrase due to the popular and entertaining San Francisco blog known by that very title. The past weekend I was made aware of just how relevant that simple phrase can be. So, my sister-in-law is in town, or actually the big city is where she is staying, for an extended visit. She confided that, unlike times past when she actually looked forward to spending some time in LA, she arrived without that same enthusiasm. Not only that, but her mood has not improved during the days she has already been here, something she attributes to not being able to get a ride in to start off the day. Being the Claremont Cyclist, I figured there was something I could do about that, and headed on out to the garage. A little maintenance and some adjustments to the wife's mountain bike, and it would be a suitable stand-in for the bike left behind in a London flat, no doubt pinning as much for its owner, as the owner is pinning for it. The fat tires will be a bit of a change from the skinny tires of her own bike, but may prove to be more problem free. We all know the world looks different, and we carry a different attitude towards it, when we are able to ride, and since she will be in town for two of the city's biggest cycling events, the upcoming cicLAvia and the Fat Tire Festival, she may end up heading in a more positive direction. 

Of course, I would imagine her mood has also greatly improved since Mark Cavendish (with some help from his British teammates) sprinted himself into the Rainbow Jersey of World Road Race Champion, yesterday. Since this is only the second time the Brits have brought home that honor (the first time being Tom Simpson's victory in 1965) I imagine she was celebrating the win until late last night. Or, maybe not. Like that transition there? British sister-in-law visiting, and then the segue into a British rider winning the World's. Pretty smooth, huh? That's killing two birds with one stone, is what that is.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. After she has had a few days riding the streets of LA, I will have to ask her for a comparison. You see she has become quite used to cycling in London, a city that, from what I have read, is as equal a challenge to cyclists as is Los Angeles. I do know that her initial reaction was "where are all the cyclists?" and was curious as to the dearth of riders on the streets here. It is a rather sad statement, that for all the advantage's Southern California offers cyclists, such as weather, geography, wide streets, so few (relatively) take the healthier, saner path. I am not exactly familiar with cycling in the area in which she is staying, so I could none-too-confidently assure her that there would be some around, and that they would probably become more evident when she started riding around herself. It tends to work that way.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moving Planet, Claremont to Covina...

group photo in Covina

Upwards of 90 riders made the trek between Claremont and Covina, and then back this morning and early afternoon. The event was one of more than 2000 Moving Planet events taking place around the globe today. Organized by to bring attention to the need for climate action, and energy and transportation options beyond the burning of fossil fuels, the Claremont event was hosted by the Claremont Senior Bicycle Group (CSBG). A wide range of folks came out - residents, college students, adults and kids. The youngest was still in a child seat, but there were other young ones on their small single speed kids bikes who made the 20 mile round trip. Our Mayor Pedrosa came out, with his family, still recovering from the injuries of his recent crash. He said he was likely to have the neck brace on for another 2 or 3 months, but everyone was glad to have him in attendance, at least to see the ride head out. Our police chief was there with his family; and how cool is that, to count your city's chief of police among the resident cyclists. 

beginning to gather on a foggy morning - the guys from Jax
were doing some last minute tune-ups

Mayor Pedrosa (center) greeting riders

safety and rules talk

The riders of the CSBG did a good job of keeping things rolling smoothly on the ride out. A group of this size, and with this much diversity was bound to split up, but the last group pulled into the Taste of Texas bbq place within minutes of the front group. Lunch was good (I actually sat at a table with a teacher from my son's old elementary school, who has a beautiful steel-framed bike, custom built for him in the 1970s), and then small groups started heading back. I waited for the main group to leave, but then decided to let my legs get some work, and took off on my own for the final few miles. It is funny, I doubt any of the people driving along who saw us, knew what the ride was about, but I can't help but hope that seeing so many people of all ages, from the under 10s to the over 70s, will put a thought in their minds that there is another way. That they don't have to drive everywhere. And that after all, is ultimately, the message of and the reason behind Moving Planet day.

Special thanks to Denise Spooner, co-organizer of the event, Susan Brunasso, for getting the word out, and all the CSBG shepherds. 

over-the-shoulder shots are hit and miss

bike parking - who needs a massive parking lot?

check your calendars, I understand that Bill McKibben, founder
of will be giving several talks in Claremont over the
next month

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cycling Claremont: Packing House Wine Merchants...

Any place that hangs cycling themed art upon their walls is alright in my book. During Claremont 91711 Day, last weekend, the family and I had ridden over to the Packing House where the wife and son went on into Studio Claremont. I, on the other hand, took a seat at an outside table of the Packing House Wine Merchants and ordered myself a beer. Yes, they also serve beer in addition to the more obvious wine. And yes indeed, the one I partook of was a Chimay, from Belgium. The first time I visited the Packing House Wine Merchants was early 2010 at the end of the Claremont Tweed Ride. They had already been around for a couple years by then, so it is a pretty popular place to relax, or pick up a bottle or two. You can just drop in for a glass any day they are open (everyday but Monday), visit during tasting events held each weekend, or even reserve space for private functions. 

This latest visit to the Packing House Wine Merchants turned out to be an especially fitting one, as photographs from this years Tour of California were being arranged and hung on the wall. They are pretty nice images - stop by and check them out while enjoying a glass of your favorite wine. Or beer.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Claremont Hills Wilderness Park (CHWP) Hours...

If you are from Claremont, or surrounding areas, you may already be aware, but if from further afield, perhaps you are not, that there has recently been some controversy surrounding the open hours at the CHWP. Hours during which people may access the parks trails, park their cars in the lots have been, and are currently, posted as Dawn to Dusk. This has led to some confusion and rather arbitrary interpretations as to what exactly constitutes dawn and dusk. Citations have been issued, and an already overburdened municipal court in Pomona, has expressed displeasure. In order to clarify things the City Council has recently passed an ordinance setting the Park hours as 7:00 am to Sunset. The opening time of 7:00 is as concrete as you can get; Sunset, is still a little hazy, but clearly, if the sky has lost its color you run the risk of being cited. Plan your rides accordingly.

These changes are scheduled to take effect 30 days after a second reading before the City Council on September 27. Thank you Susan for sharing the information.

Well, hold up now. If you have not heard, there has apparently been enough objections raised concerning the new hours, that the city council will be reevaluating them. Seems people like being able to view the sunrise from the park, or are only able to enjoy the trails during those earlier hours. Expect some more on this following the next council meeting, October 11.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recycling Jerseys...

Back in times past, early to mid 1990s, maybe into the late '90s, there was a guy who came to all the local races. If I am not mistaken his name was Rudy. He would set up a tent in the start/finish/registration area and sell. Sell Stuff. The kind of stuff no self-respecting cyclist, at least not one worthy of the name, could reasonably do without. He sold stickers. So many different stickers, you could plaster them all over you car, and everyone would know you as some kind of afficianado. Or nut. He sold pins. He sold coffee cups (I still have two). He sold mussettes (I still have one, though it has seen better days.). Most importantly he sold (and published) the Racing News. If you raced locally, back then, you pretty much had to have the Racing News. You could subscribe, or pick a copy up at the races. He occupied this little niche in the market, and was pretty successful.

Another person who occupies and interesting little niche in the cycling market is Jim, proprietor of Recycling Jerseys. He was at the cyclocross race at Los Angeles State Historic Park this past weekend. As the name of his endeavor suggests, he acquires and resells old cycling jerseys - jerseys from small unheard of local teams, others from the big leagues. Wool, lycra, big, small, as simple or as garish as you could desire. I am most interested in the signed ones, like the Garmin-Transition one Jim is standing next to above. I saw a couple signed by Christian van de Velde, another by Ryder Hesjedal. One with the autograph of Johan van Summeren. There were many others as well. I am also looking for an old wool jersey, from some 1970s European team, that I can wear on vintage rides while cruising around on my old Bottecchia.  I don't think you will find him at as many races as Rudy used to attend, but this is not the first time I have seen him and his hangers of jerseys out at a race. It is kind of fun rifling through all those jerseys, but you can also do your looking online. There is just a small selection on the site right now, but he said he will be updating it soon.

Earbuds? "Come On"...

I have often said that the most important thing you can do to promote your own safety is to be aware of your surroundings. Whether you are a cyclist, a runner or jogger, or a walker, surely you have heard this. It has been well covered and discussed in many places. During the morning ride yesterday, I ride up to an intersection, a three-way stop, where I am going to make a right turn. At the same time a car and driver is approaching the intersection along the street that I am turning onto. Now throw a jogger into the mix, one with earbuds pugging up her ears. She is jogging along the same street I am riding on, but is going to cross where I turn right. She does not hear me, so does not know that I am there. No problem really, as a pedestrian, she has the right of way, so I wait. Just like the driver, who has also stopped and is waiting for the jogger to cross. Well, apparently the jogger thinks the driver should make the turn first, rather than yield the right of way, and throws up her arms in misplaced exasperation. With my trackstand on the verge of collapse I take this as a sign to go and proceed to make my turn. At virtually the same time, the jogger, steps out into the street in front of me, is taken by complete surprise by my appearance, and lets out a "come on". There was no problem really. I had anticipated this happening and swung wide so there was no chance of a collision, but

come on - take the earbuds out of your ears. If you had done so, you would have heard me behind and to your left, turned and seen me stopped and waiting, yielding the right of way to you. Instead, you allow yourself to be taken by surprise, and then get all upset. True, I should have continued to wait on you, until your frustration finally compelled you to cross. But this isn't about me, it's about you and your earbuds, and the position you put yourself in, by wearing them, and not being fully aware of your surroundings. Wake up and hear the world, instead of letting it pass you by unaware.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interbike: Bits and Pieces, Odds and Ends...

it may not be the most well known manufacturer / color combination, but the Gios blue has an envious storied past. they are set to reintroduce their line of carbon, aluminum and steel framed bikes here in the States

seems like everyone was showing at least one CX model, which seems to say something about the growing influence of the sport in America. this is the H&R Block Team bike by Norco

there was some fantastic art work at the show. some of the sculptures made of bike parts were incredible. this one called Powerglide, by Lewis Tardy, brilliantly captures the sense of motion

my only experience of Origin8 is my singlespeed, but i grow more impressed each time i see one.
their new carbon model road bike looks a sweet ride

i am not anywhere near the connoisseur of mtb components that i am of those for the road, but couldn't help but be impressed with Formula. incidentally guys, your displays were super sexy, museum quality. clearly some thought went into them

Look, every bike you brought was stunning - works of art, and treated as such. like Formula, a very nice display

KHS - too much clutter. i own two of your bikes, one road, one mountain, and don't have a negative word to say about either, but seventeen models of road "racing" bikes alone seems like overkill, even when you separate out the women's specific models. that said, the mtb's are looking better than ever and I think anyone could rock a cross course on the 300CX

again with Look? believe it! i'll take this, and one of those, and that mtb, oh,
and the cross bike. definitely the cross bike

did anyone not appreciate this da Vinci tandem? seriously, anyone?

Bottecchia, another venerable name out of Italy, and set to make a comeback

Brompton, a clever display to match a clever bike

A couple more companies, who I did not get photos of their stuff, but are most definitely worthy of mention: Elsworth, their Roots CX bike looked top notch, but I couldn't get close to it, due to its placement. Then lastly, the Bikeray lighting systems, powerful, and economical LED lights.

There are were some advocacy and philanthropic organizations, you may or may not be familiar with: Trips for Kids, Ride for Reading, Give them some support, if you can, they do good work.

Clif, Powerbar, Gu, Brubar, Jelly Belly, Voke, thanks for attending. A whole lot of people would not have made it through the three days without daily ingesting all your samples.

I have not been to an Interbike show since 1995 in Anaheim, and I am still not convinced that it was worth the expense that it turned out to be, but for a bike geek, like me, it was surely a lot of fun. Best of all, though I wasn't there placing big orders for various product, when I told reps that I was there as media, covering the show for my blog, no one was put out, and literally everyone was enthusiastic to talk about their goods and answer my questions. I know I have forgotten some things, so expect some small posts concerning Interbike over the next couple weeks, and I have some small product reviews upcoming, but for now, that's it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cross at the Cornfield, Los Angeles...

Well, I had to make it out to the first cyclocross race of the season, didn't I? Los Angeles State Historic Park, a little patch tucked into a corner of downtown Los Angeles was the site of some fast, [cough] dusty action [cough] to kick off the beginning of the SoCal Prestige Series of Cyclocross for 2011.

Los Angeles State Historic Park, on the doorstep of Chinatown and the city center

racers weave around the course's tricky layout, with the North Broadway Bridge,
one of the city's landmark bridges, in the background

The Men 'A' race takes off in a cloud of dust, with eventual
victor Sid Taberlay (Kenda/H2o Overdrive) riding point

Los Angeles State Historic Park occupies the site of an old rail yard. Other than a few low hillocks it is pretty darn flat, but if you throw in the usual CX obstacles you end up with a challenging course - barriers, steps, tight turns, and long straight, fast sections. And dust. Those long straight sections meant that riders were picking up some serious speed, and they frequently carried a little too much of it into the tight turns, swinging too wide and through the tape course fencing. If you were already out of breath from chasing, the dust just made it that much more difficult to breath.

It was a neat little compact site. Hopefully you took a little extra time to check out the historic stuff and interpretive signage. The Zanja Madre for instance, the remnant cornfield at the far north end, or the trenches of the archaeological dig revealing the remains of brick walls or foundation of the early depot/hotel, predating the later (and current) Union Station.

Unfortunately I missed a lot of the early morning action, arriving for the Master's races, but if looks are indicative, it is going to be a fun and challenging season of cyclocross here in Southern California.

Slideshow for the Men Master's and 3/4, and singlespeed waves are here.
Slideshow for the Women's wave is here. (sorry if you tried this one earlier - for some reason it  
didn't seem to be working correctly, so I relinked it)
Slideshow of the Elite Men's wave is here.

Interbike: Steel...

Steel seems to occupy a couple places in today's bicycle market. It is the dominant material being used for utility/commuter bikes, and it will always be the sentimental favorite for people like me, who grew up with steel frames, appreciate the tradition, admire the artistic capabilities of the material. 

now that Claremont has its own, original Pedersen, this modern recreation based on the Pedersen design, is maybe a little less impressive in my eyes. still, interesting to see someone (Virtue) giving that older design a try

Clubman, by Pashley. should be a big player in this market,
with a number of both men's and women's models to choose from

Pegoretti bikes are so beautiful in their simplicity. i imagine they will be
highly coveted in the future - i  mean, more so than they are now

again, classic lugged steel, just does not get much better than this Fondriest. incidentally, that carbon beauty in the background is just barely over the UCI weight limit, weighing less than a newborn baby. lifting it sent shivers up my spine. it must be amazing to ride

the Velo Orange bikes had to be my favorites of the lighter, smaller utility/commuter breed.
they are good looking and clearly functional

one thing i especially liked about the Velo Orange booth was the way they chose to display their bikes. everyone had the shiny, sparkling show-stoppers. VO did as well, but they also had these - the bikes owned and ridden by their employees with all their personal adjustments. being able to see "real life" bikes somehow provides a different, more real connection, than one receives by only viewing the trophies

the Raleigh International, a 10+ on the drool factor

another of the Montante bikes i mentioned previously

good to see the Gios name re-entering the American market. a whole lot of models
to choose from including this steel beauty painted in the Italian colors

So, steel is still alive and going strong. In fact, now that I think about it, bmx may still be dominated by steel frames, and the youth market, for whom $10,000 carbon fiber frames may be out of reach will, I suspect, continue to find steel an attractive option for quite some time.

Still to come: Bits and pieces, odds and ends, and some final observations.
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