Sunday, August 31, 2008

Park Avenue : NYC

This year has seen Park Avenue, NYC, closed at the weekends for pedestrians, cyclists, in-line skaters, skate-boarders, etc ...

See some nice images here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Griggstown Grind : 2008

Tuesday evenings won't be the same until next year ...

Yesterday saw the last of my regular Tuesday evening rides for this season.

The Griggstown Grind is a tour of the many pretty and just tough enough lanes and hills around The Sourlands.

Whoever said that there is no nice countryside in New Jersey? Okay, maybe nobody actually said it, but I think it's a surprise to most people how pleasant central Jersey can be.

I have only really started regularly cycling this year, so the first couple of times were quite tough. A new bike and new legs have helped make the Grind not so hard in the last few weeks.

No-one is dropped on the Griggstown Grind. Everyone is keen, but not too keen, if you know what I mean. Thanks to all regulars; Beth, Steve, Jeff, Geoff, Lyn, and, especially Diane for organising and keeping the ride together.

See you next year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tyres, Punctures ... and more Stuff

Of course, I should have mentioned ...

Even with my recent good fortune regarding the lack of punctures - I know I'm going to regret saying that - there is still an occasional need to remove and replace tyres.

I have been using a device which people either seem to love - ***** - or think is totally useless - *.

Easing tyres, especially kevlar beaded ones, on and off a rim can be quite frustrating. And how many times do you end up pinching the inner tube between the bead and the rim with inevitable results? Well, I can't praise the Crank Brother's Speed Lever enough.

To get a tyre off, just extend the lever - it's like a telescope - hook the lever under the bead and clip the other end onto the axle, push the lever around the rim, like a second hand on a clock, and the tyre just pops off the rim.

Reverse is rather more conventional, but the lever is much more helpful at avoiding pinches than conventional levers.

Like I said, reviews of the Speed Lever are either five star or very poor. I can't help thinking the people who don't like it are doing something wrong because it just seems to work so well for me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tyres, Punctures ... Stuff

Over the years I have been plagued with punctures here. The sides of the road are often strewn with broken glass and wire.

I recall getting punctures on three consecutive rides. Pretty dismal.

So naturally, I've put some thought into this and there are probably more effective solutions this has worked for me.

My current road bike came equipped with Michelins which are very good tyres. However, my attachment to Continentals meant that the bike shop fitted GP 4-Seasons.

First impressions are that these are very good tyres. But, as you might expect, they don't seem as free rolling as the GP4000s I used on the my old Trek road bike. However, as the seasons change, the heavier duty construction will come into its own.

I think, though, next spring will see a change to GP4000Ss - the nice shiny black ones with silver graphics. That should match the Giant nicely ;-)

Now, paranoia means that I am also using a tyre sealant. The big seller here is Slime, but I've been trying the equally enticingly named Sludge - a big seller in Africa, apparently.

The advantage Sludge claims is that, firstly, it is thin enough to be introduced into the inner tube via a presta valve. I have done this. It is quite an easy task. Secondly, it claims to vulcanise any leak that does occur.

Does it work? Well, I haven't had a puncture ... but who knows? Maybe the Contis reinforced layer actually does it?

The Giant frame means that my lovely Blackburn frame fit pump no longer fits ... I let it go with the Trek.

About the only thing that will fit would be some sort of compact pump, but I've never really got on with those, so I'm trying this; the Genuine Innovations CO2 Air Chuck. Hopefully I won't need to know how effective this is either.

Domestic pumping duty is performed by a Joe Blow track pump. This easily gets road tyres up to 120psi. What can I say ... it's a track pump.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Grand Unification Theory

I found this just the other day ... seems to answer all life's questions.
Anything else? If you need further clarification click here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Summer Night's Dream ...

... Well, maybe not a dream, but not a nightmare either ...

The Princeton super-group, Rackett, played a local gig at the Community Park North Amphitheater, Pettoranello Gardens, to a small, but perfectly formed audience of aficionados and curious passers-by.

As usual, sports' jackets featured in the on stage presence, leaving me in a quandary as to whether I should include an apostrophe.

But more importantly, the band rocked to poet, Paul Muldoon's lyrics with some very nice musical touches.

A good time was had by all as Rackett geared up for their Finnish tour.

Good evening, Turku!!!!

So ... What's New?

Nothing apparently.

Fancy watching some tandem trailer racing? A bike you row? A frameless bicycle?

Take a look at this:

Neat, huh?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kudos to Craig's List ... SOLD

In the end, Craig's List turned up trumps ... eBay? Wassat?

I hope the new owner of my old Trek will be very happy ... he should ... it's a good bike.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Trek 1200 on eBay

My Trek 1200 won't go away ...

There were a couple of nibbles from Craigs List, but no takers.

So now it's on eBay.

in fact.

Give it a good home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Speaking of Women Cyclists ...

Nicole Cooke's victory in the Olympic Women's Road Race, put me in mind of two other great women riders.

Beryl Burton has to be considered one of the UK's greatest ever athletes, let alone women athletes, let alone cyclists. Her wiki will tell you far more than I ever could, but in a nutshell, for a number of years some of her British achievements exceeded the men's records.

Some of her records have yet to be surpassed by modern women.

Jeannie Longo of France has just competed in her seventh Olympic Games at the age of 49. Only lack of support from her team saw her placed down the field in the Olympic Women's Road Race, but she was only just out of the medals for the Women's Time Trial.

Read more here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ride Like a Girl ...

... especially this one; Nicole Cooke, GBR.

Women's Road Race Gold Beijing Olympics.

Won in great style in atrocious conditions Nicole truly deserves this.

A few years ago I was listening to the radio and they were doing an article about Nicole. If I recall correctly, they were interviewing Malcolm Elliott, a real hard man of British pro cycling, who was by then riding Elite/1st Cat on the British circuit.

One day he turned up for a race only to find, to his surprise, a teenage girl was in the peloton because there were no other women riders who could give her any sort of opposition.

Naturally, Elliot thought no more about this until he was lining up for the finish line sprint when he sensed another rider pressing him for the lead. Looking back he was amazed to see it was Nicole Cooke.

* image from The Guardian, UK

Monday, August 11, 2008

Support your LBS

Support your LBS - Local Bike Shop.

These guys are not in it for the money. Okay, they don't give stuff away, but pretty close to it.

Yes, they may cost a little more than your favourite online dealer, but generally you'll get good advice and you're more likely to get the right thing in the first place and most likely, be able to exchange it if it turns out to be not for you.

These are dealers I've found in my local area. If a dealer isn't here it's not because they're no good. I just haven't been there yet. And they're in alphabetical order:

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Roight Guv'nor!!!

Cool or what?

And it's brand new!!!

The Pashley Guv'nor.

Puts me in mind of making something up like this from an old roadster frame, if I can get one.

27" wheels, North Road bars, Brooks saddle ... compromise on a few modern yet retro-looking fittings ... neat.

Get one from here - if you can afford it ...

Wha' Happening?

It's been a little while since I've contributed to this blog, not because nothing's happening, but most stuff has been about cycling, which I cover in

But the intervening time has seen me get one year older ... you know? Birthdays used to be something to look forward to and now they also seem all too frequent ...

But having said that, Linda and the girls helped me celebrate well with a really good dinner at Genarro's, and a very nice birthday present indeed; see here. Thank you ... Thank you ...

And just to mention, the next day was the birthday of my dear old dad ...

Of course, I could still do with a job. So anyone looking for a nice Englishman who can be charming if he tries just get in touch. I'd appreciate it.

PS: That's Bella and me. I'm the one on the right ...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

SRAM Rival

Things have come a long way since my first serious road bike. If I remember correctly, my old Peugeot Champion du Monde had a 5-speed Huret rear derailleur, a Stronglight 52/42 chain-set, indeterminate brakes and Leotard pedals with Christophe clips and toe straps.

Since then virtually all my bikes have been Shimano - or one of their clones - equipped, and over the years these systems have become more and more sophisticated, to the point where all braking and gear-change operations are effected through the handlebars. It's been a long time since I reached to the downtube to change gear.

My new Giant is a departure for me. All the drive components are made up from the SRAM Rival range.

SRAM first impinged on my consciousness some years ago with their grip-shift technology for mountain bikes, a system which was similar to that found on Italian motor scooters, and which, as I recall, failed on two counts ... grip and shift.

But what the system did do was force other manufacturers to adopt as a design basic, the ability to control your bicycle without having to move your hands from the bars, which had benefits in safety, comfort and control.

Until recently I was unaware that SRAM now produces equipment for the road, but I was happy enough to consider it, particularly since I noticed a couple of teams using SRAM gear in the Tour de France. If it's good enough for them ...

The main difference between the SRAM gear-change system and Shimano's is that the gears are controlled by a lever under a fixed axis brake lever rather than a combination of gear and brake lever which moves in two axes. This didn't really prove a problem on the change-over from Shimano to SRAM. Indeed, it seemed rather intuitive.

The gear change movement is also rather different. The right-hand rear-gear lever uses a 1-2-click motion. Shift the lever 1-click and the chain drops down a cog; 1-2-click and the chain moves up. The left-hand front-gear changer seems to be similar, but, of course there are only 2 chain-wheels. At the moment, all is very positive and snappy. So far, so good.

The sprocket is 10-speed and the chain has a power-link.

Braking is left to Shimano. The calipers appear to be from the Ultegra range. Whether it's the calipers, or the brake-pads, I don't know, but braking is a step up for me. It's quite easy to lock-up the back wheel from the top of the drops on a fast descent, but having learnt that lesson, they're quite progressive and I haven't done this again.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Giant OCR C2 : Close Up

Here it is ... my pride and joy, the Giant OCR C2, perched on my Ultimate Bike stand. I don't know what's happened to Ultimate Bike Stands. Their website seems to have been assimilated for the last few weeks and accessories seem to be hard to source. I hope they're still up and running. This is a good bike stand. The .pdf brochure is here.

Anyway, the bike is fairly bog-standard apart from the stem / handlebar combination which is still under review and described below. The pedals are Shimano Ultegras, a considerable upgrade from my old PD-R540s; nice and smooth and positive, but not knee- or ankle-breaking engagement and disengagement.

When I had the bike set up for me by Jason at Halter's Cycles, he had me adopt a slightly more forward, upright position. I don't disagree with the slightly more forward stance. I think this showed its potential on my last ride.

However, I think I'd still prefer if the bars were maybe an inch / 25mm further forward and downward and 0.75 inch / 20mm wider. However, I'll leave it for a little longer. Who knows? Jason might be right. The hardware is a Salsa stem and 42cm FSA Wing Pro compact drops. with Fizik gel inserts and tape.
The drive chain is 100% SRAM; 10-speed rear and double chain-wheel - 20 speeds altogether. My old bike was 3x9speed; 27 gears with a slightly larger range. I have tended to spin out on downhills and resort to the granny-gear on climbs so it remains to be seen if my developing fitness will cope with the hills. Perhaps I go fast enough downhill anyway ...

What concerns me is the difficulty of standing on the pedals on climbs. I'm not certain if this is just because the Giant is a sharper, more poised bike which requires just that extra bit of control / skill, or a function of the shorter / narrower handlebar setup.

The brakes are certainly an improvement on the Trek. It's possible to lock the rear wheel at speed with finger-tip pressure - as I found out - with a similarly effective front brake, so maybe a slightly lower downhill speed can be made up for with sharper braking. For sure, the frame was very steady at speed with significantly less flex than the aluminium Trek. Having said that, the Trek never gave me cause for concern, unlike a 25inch Vitus tubed Peugeot with seamed forks used to do. To see those forks flex 1.5 inches at 40mph was sobering ...

More impressions soon ...

Giant OCR C2 : First Impressions

I joined Princeton FreeWheelers' regular Friday evening ride around the Pennington - Hopewell area.

I had actually tried to join this ride before, but my Garmin had suggested the wrong meeting point in Pennington on a previous occasion. Apparently, I wasn't the only one this had happened to ...

Anyway, I lined up with quite a large group of local cyclists just south of Pennington. I recognised Marilyn and Geoff from my regular Griggstown Grind gig and others from the Frenchtown and Sunday morning rides.

I lifted my new Giant OCR C2 off the car's bike rack and was immediately struck by how much lighter it is than my old Trek 1200.

The orange and black paintwork makes the bike a bit of an eye-catcher and elicited several positive comments from other riders.

The ride was very enjoyable. The bike was light and responsive. The riding position was a little more upright than I'm used to and I'm not certain that the setup Jason of Halter's Cycles did for me is exactly right. However, I'm sure that on the level I was a mile or two an hour quicker than I normally spin at.

Hills were quite a bit different. I no longer have the luxury of a granny gear to bail me out, but there were no hills equivalent to those in the Sourlands on the Griggstown circuit. I'll have to wait until the next Grind before I can say if I can handle the gears on an extended climb. I did find the bike rather more twitchy when I stood on the pedals, but I think it's more a case of me getting used to it. I don't think it's attributable to the shorter stem and narrower handle-bars.

The saddle also was rather unforgiving, although I don't normally have a problem in that area. I'm going to set the nose down a degree or so and see if that improves things. If not I might just swap the rather comfortable Bontrager saddle off the old Trek.

However, none of that detracted from a very pleasant ride and the confidence that I would soon get the Giant dialed in to suit me perfectly. In fact I positively flew on the way back.

Thanks to Andy for leading the ride.

After the ride several of us went to Vito's for a slice of pizza or a sub.

Very nice too ... but I do miss a good old British pub ...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Giant OCR C2

And here it is ... my new bike; the Giant OCR C2.

Bike design and materials have certainly moved on in the last few years. The frame of this bike is an alliance - it says here - of carbon fibre and aluminium - English spellings both.

Certainly the bike feels very light compared to my Trek, and the ride characteristics pretty much met the received wisdom on carbon fibre frames, smooth ride, yet rigid geometry when it comes to laying down whatever power I can muster.

Jason at Halter's Cycles, fitted me up using his skill and judgment and I have to say that initial impressions for size and fit are good - slightly different than I might have chosen - but I'll go along with it unless I feel really uncomfortable.

Changes amounted to using a shorter stem with a higher rise, and narrower bars. I'm not totally convinced by this ... but I have to admit it feels good, if rather different to what I'm used to. Plus, I also had narrower Continental tyres fitted.

I'm off for a ride around Hopewell/Pennington this evening. I'll let you know how I get on.

Get the .pdf brochure here.