February 24, 2014
In much of North America, snow is continuing to fall. We ride indoors, ski, skate, run, and workout in the gym in order to maintain some level of fitness, while elevating our endorphins to keep the mental balance that we’ve become accustomed to with daily exercise. However, there are those who embrace the extremes and head outdoors to ride, turning what could be a lousy day into an adventure.
Somewhere, decades ago, I read a story about Andy Hampsten, Davis Phinney, and Ron Kiefel riding on the dirt mountain roads in Colorado. On their long training rides, up and over 10,000 feet, they discovered roads that they didn’t know existed and places that they’d never seen. When I lived in Boulder, I got to experience that sense of adventure with Andy. On our mountain bikes, we rode on the snow-covered dirt roads to a ski station at 9,000 feet, where my wife met us with our cross-country skis. Some cyclists choose to stay on roads that they know, sticking to a routine. Others seek adventure and are constantly in search of new and novel experiences to test their limits. (Continue reading.)
February 13, 2014
For ages, cyclists assumed that narrower tires were better. Time trial bikes were fitted with 19mm tires, as we thought that they would slice through the air better than a 23mm. The rider cautiously rode to the start line, avoiding any bumps or road grit, for the fear that the tires might be punctured. We’d pump them rock hard, as we thought that harder tires created less rolling resistance. We also thought that narrower and harder tires were more aerodynamic, rolled faster, and were more responsive. Well, they aren’t.
In the last five years, all of our old theories have been proven wrong. Wider tires and tubulars are now the norm on almost all professional team bikes, including time trial bikes. Not only do wider tires roll faster, but they’re also more resilient, comfortable, and aerodynamic when paired with the right rim.
At the start of each new year, professional teams provide their riders with a supply of clincher tires and tubes to get them through a season of training. During my 14-year professional racing career we went from riding on 21- or 23-millimeter tires to 25s. The wider tires allowed us to venture off of the smooth tarmac and onto bumpier gravel roads. I rode up into the mountains, discovering new areas and climbs. I would arrive home without neck and back pain…. (Continue reading)
February 10, 2014
Riding along the bike path to the heart of the city, several electric bikes pass me, giving me a slight startle each time as their silence allows for no warning before I see them. I pass others that are moving slowly; their riders are often slouched in the saddles with their feet resting on pedals that get little or no use. An e-rider’s position most often appears as if they’re lounging as opposed to riding.
In the last two years, electric scooters and bicycles have become increasingly common on city streets and bike paths. Most of these machines aren’t designed to be pedaled over any distance: their weight is limiting and the frame geometry ill-suited for dynamic pedaling. They look more like scooters than bicycles, with dodgy pedals added so that they can be considered legally as bicycles instead of either mopeds or motor scooters. This is basically just to skirt parking, licensing, and insurance laws. But since most e-bikes are simply electric versions of mopeds, they should really fall into the same category and be subject to the same laws. (Continue reading)
February 1, 2014
Bicycles are not only vehicles and sports equipment, they’re sometimes viewed as pieces of art. Many frame builders make bicycles so elegant that they can be hung on dining room walls. Like a painting, poetry, or music, their bicycles tell a unique story that will only grow richer with time or with each kilometer ridden. In contrast, most artists struggle to draw or paint a bicycle on a canvas or a piece of paper. But there are a few artists who have managed to properly convey the bicycle’s beauty and appeal in their work.
Over 40 years ago, Daniel Rebour drew bicycles and components in a style that captured qualities matched by photographs. Printed in manufacturers’ catalogues and magazines, particularly Le Cycle, his work gave the objects a unique allure. As a boy, I would pore over the Rebour drawings in my father’s collection of magazines and books, memorizing the details of Eddy Merckx’s bikes. (Continue reading)