Monthly Archives: March 2015

Titanium for Cycling

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I’ve been riding my cyclocross bike back and forth to Lawrence the past week on gravel.  I’m sort of stuck in a rut, but not a rut that I’m concerned about.  Anyway, I was thinking yesterday how perfect the material of titanium is for cycling.

I got thinking about this because I ejected a bottle from my cage on a descent with braking bumps.  I was thinking if I had King ti cages on my cross bike that my bottle wouldn’t have been in the dirt and still on my bike.  That got me thinking about frame materials, etc.

We have gotten so obsessed with weight that the other aspects of the frame materials have taken a backseat.  Like in the trunk.

Given, carbon frames are normally lighter than titanium.  But, you can build light frames from titanium.  And nice frames.

I think for any bike you are riding off-road, titanium is the perfect material.  With the different choices of tubing sizes and thicknesses, you can fine tune how stiff, resilient, or supple a frame is.  Tuning the ride is a big plus.  But being virtually indestructible is what really sets it apart.

I have crashed titanium bikes 100’s of times and never touched the frame.  I was racing in Canada, in the muck and slime, and was planning to bunny hop a log, at speed.  When I pulled up, my hands, which were wet, covered with mud, came off the bars.  I hit the log, square, and my shock fork snapped off at the steering column.  And it was an aluminum steering column, not carbon. My frame didn’t have a ding.  The headtube was perfect, the down and top tube were perfect too.  If I would have been riding a frame built out of any other material, it would have been destroyed.

The same goes on the road.  My new Eriksen road frame is as stiff as the Trek I was riding before.  I know you think that is bullshit, but just ride one.  Oversized tubes, with 1″ chainstays makes the frame super stiff, yet light.

But, the real deal is that I don’t have to worry about the bike.  When I was riding carbon, I was constantly checking my frame to make sure there wasn’t any small cracks.  I’d check down by the bottom bracket and especially up by the headtube before each and every race.  When I got a scratch in the paint, I’d always worry that it was a crack.

I don’t have to do that with titanium.

We don’t all have a couple cars with spare bikes following us around in races at all times.  How many bike changes to you see the “Pros” make.  Lots.  Everytime they fall down, something is wrong with their bikes.

I think I wrote this last year, but at Joe Martin last year, Frankie Andreu, manager for Kenda/Five Hour Energy, came up and asked me why I was riding titanium frames.  I told him because I was sick of changing the parts on my bikes everytime I crashed and ruined a carbon frame.  I was riding Eriksen frames off-road, both MTB and cross, so it made sense.

Plus, the bikes never wear out.  I’ve had a Ybb sense the late 90’s and it rides like it did on day one.  I can’t tell you how many times that has been thrown off cliffs or hit the ground.  It is pretty much indestructible.

Same goes with the King titanium cages.  The cages are pricey for bottle cages, somewhere around $50 depending on where you get them.  But, they are great.  They don’t break.  They don’t get loose.  And they hold your bottle like a water bottle cage should.  All this carbon, etc. for cages is total bullshit.  I have yet to use a carbon bottle cage that works.  They don’t hold your bottle and they break.  Valueless.

I have total confidence in the bikes I ride.  I don’t even think about having a catastrophic frame failure.  When I fall, I am pretty sure I can just go and pick up my bike, if I can, and get on it and ride it again.  I can’t say the same when I rode carbon frames.

IMG_6953The King Titanium cage.  A lifetime bottle cage.

I got this ZIpp cage for my road bike.  It weight something like 19 grams, but is valueless.  Notice the crack at the top mounting hole.  That happened putting it on the first time.  Zipp normally makes very good cycling components, but this is an exception.   I have two of these and have been meaning to just ship them back to Zipp and tell them they are worth about a penny a gram.

I got this ZIpp cage for my road bike. It weight something like 19 grams, but is valueless. Notice the crack at the top mounting hole. That happened putting it on the first time. Zipp normally makes very good cycling components, but this is an exception. I have two of these and have been meaning to just ship them back to Zipp and tell them they are worth about a penny a gram.






Busy Monday

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

The weekend went pretty quick here, but today is busy.  Today is Dennis’ surgery in Lawrence.  He has to be there by 12:45, for surgery at 1:45.  I think they are planning on doing general anesthesia, but I heard from a couple doctors that he should ask for a block and then he can skip the recovery room.  Plus, he wouldn’t have the after-effects of the general.

I’m trying to decide if I should ride over there to wait, or just drive.  I rode to Lawrence 5 times last week.  I’m not sure what that was all about.  Riding gravel, on the River Road, is my favorite ride around here, and I’m just trying to maintain, so I got in this rut.  And it is a rut.  I had 400 miles for the week, but I don’t think I’m any better than I was the week before.  Training when you’re struggling usually doesn’t pay dividends short term.

I found a hurt bird on the way to Lawrence yesterday.  I was 10 miles from home and wasn’t sure what to do.  I decided to put the bird in some bamboo, for protection, then get him when I returned.  So, the next 2 1/2 hours, I was constantly concerned about the bird.  I was kicking myself for not just turning around and taking the bird home.  I was wondering if I was being selfish.  Why couldn’t I change my life one hour, for the life of a bird?

So, I rode back and looked under the bamboo, pretty sure the bird would be gone.  But he was there.  But, he wasn’t alive.  He died.  I picked him up again.  He was so pretty.  So light.

He didn’t seem hurt enough to die.  I apologized to him for not staying with him.  For some reason, it seemed like it would have been appropriate to have been there when he died.  It’s probably just the human in me thinking that.

Dying alone seems scary for some reason.  I thought about that for a long time and came to the conclusion that most animals die alone.  All the birds we see flying around, most just die.  All wild turkeys, turtles, squirrels, etc.  They are there and then they just aren’t, just like the bird.

Anyway, I felt badly I abandoned the bird when he was so injured.

Bromont was great yesterday.  Great considering.  He ate by noon, which is early now.  Then he went on two walks, super energetic both times. Then he ate some more.  But, late last night he didn’t feel so good.  He wouldn’t go out on his night walk and didn’t sleep much all night.  This morning he was disoriented, with his head drooping.  He’s a little better now, but he doesn’t feel very good.

It is spring here in Kansas.  All the Dogwood and Redbud trees are blooming.  It is supposed to be in the mid 70’s this whole next week.   Our garden is starting to grow.  The lettuce, chard and spinach is up already.

I sure hope Bromont starts feeling better with the nice weather here.


Dennis' arm isn't getting any smaller.  He hopes it will be deflated after the surgery today.

Dennis’ arm isn’t getting any smaller. He hopes it will be deflated after the surgery today.

The small bird on the way there.

The small bird on the way there.

Here he is after he expired.  I buried him under the bamboo.

Here he is after he expired. I buried him under the bamboo.

Bromont was perky yesterday.

Bromont was perky yesterday.

The early season vegetables are already up.

The early season vegetables are already up.

End of the Race Tactics ???

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

I’ve been trying to watch, at least watch the end, some of the early season road racing going on recently.  The racing seems pretty good, but when it gets down to the end of some of the races, it’s like the whole race tactics go out the window.

Take yesterdays finish at the E3.  The break is formed on a hard cobble climb, the Oude Kwaremont, and Peter Sagan climbs up to Geraint Thomas and Zdenek Stybar.  That is all she wrote.  BMC was chasing, but Greg Van Avermaet, their team leader, forgot how to corner, fell, then that was over.

Anyway, you can tell Sagan isn’t pedalling round.  He looks labored and seems to be the weakest of the 3.  A little over 4 km to go, Thomas jumps from the back and that was it.  One and out.

I was trying to figure out why Peter Sagan would keep pulling, never sitting out a rotation, when he was completely done and knew he didn’t have even one jump in his legs?  He knew it, Thomas knew it, and probably even Stybar knew it.

Was he hoping that those two wouldn’t attack him if he kept pulling?  That would have been silly.  Everyone knew he was the fastest sprinter.  Did he keep pulling because he was racing for 3rd and wanted to get closer to the finish before the attacks (attack) happened?  That didn’t work.

Was he pulling because he realized the race was being streamed live and he wanted to keep his sponsors jersey on the camera?  That makes sense, sort of.  That is the only thing I could come up with.

If I’m in a break, and am racing to win, when I realize I’m getting weak, or the other guys in the break are better, I try to figure out a way to still win.  I don’t keep rotating through with the others, like everything is great.

One rule you have to have in bike racing, especially when you’re in a break, you never pull so hard that you don’t always have a jump in you.  You have to assume that will always occur and that you just look dumb, and should feel silly, if you get popped with one attack.  And that is exactly what happened to Sagan.

The same thing happened towards the finish of the Dwars door Vlaanderen last week.  Michal Kwiatkowski and Cannondale-Garmin’s Dylan Van Baarle were with two riders from the Belgian Pro Continental team, Topsport Vlaanderen.  Once again, one jump, no reaction, then excuses in the press.  Kwiatkowski blamed Van Baarle, but if you watch the finish, neither of them jumped when attacked.

This wasn’t a case of pulling for TV, this was a case of, either being naive about finishes of bike races, or just lazy.  Two guys on one team, with a guy sitting on, and one jump at a km to go and it’s over.

I can somewhat understand why Domencio Pozzovivo won stage 3 in Catalunya.  It was another case of one attack and done.    He’d been sitting on for a long time and attacked with 2 km to go.  Cannondale/Garmin had two guys in the group of 7 or so, with Dan Martin and Andrew Talansky.  Guess they didn’t want to win the stage or put more time on some of the distanced GC guys. But, I guess they didn’t want to spend any energy chasing him down to try to win the stage.

Anyway, the end of the E3 race perplexes me the most.   Sagan should have been able to sense his situation and tried to adapt.  He should have parked himself on the wheel of Thomas and done everything in his ability to stay there.  But, no, he kept rotating, only to get shelled instantly, to eventually finish 30th, losing 1:15 in the that 2.5 miles.  Guess he really was tired.






Fixing Broken Stuff

This entry was posted in Racing on by .

Dennis got here a couple days ago, trying to escape some of the Northern Wisconsin winter, and had planned to get a jump on miles.  He rode out the bike path on his bike path and was making a U-turn, when his front tire folded under, or something like that.  Anyway, he fell to the inside, going like no speed, and hit his elbow on the pavement.

He didn’t have any pain and had been icing it a ton, but it kept swelling like crazy.  So yesterday, he went by minor-med and got an x-ray.  It is shattered, like broken into little tiny bits.

So, he needs surgery to repair it, which is going to happen tomorrow, in Lawrence.  I was pretty surprised how smashed it was, considering, still now, he says it doesn’t hurt at all and he pretty much has full movement.

What bad luck.  I’m sticking with the injury was because he was going so slow.  It’s the angle you hit the ground, not the speed you are going forward.  I know a few guys that have broken their elbows riding and all of them have been going very slowly, less than 5 mph.  I think that is the reason I broke my hip last year.  Faster means less of an impact angle.

I went by and got some spark plugs, oil etc. to “tune-up” Dennis’ van.  There really isn’t much to do with a car tuning it nowadays.  The computer does that, so changing the plugs is just about it.

I changed the plugs in the “new” AWD van I got in California.  I’d already put in a new transmission.  The plugs were horrible, like maybe the original plugs.  15 years old.  The gaps were all over .10, when the called for gap is .050.  I know the computer will compensate for that, but that is crazy.

It was raining yesterday at the end of my mind.  I was riding gravel, again, to Lawrence and figured it was just my destiny to be wet and cold again.  Anyway, after, I was driving around to get plugs and oil last night and the windshield wipers on the InSight were pitiful.  The driver’s side especially.  I had changed the wipers last fall.

So, I looked at them and they were toast.  I‘ve been changing wiper blades a ton recently.  I don’t remember them wearing out so fast historically.  It doesn’t seem to matter what brand or how much I spend on wiper blades, they seem to shred way too fast.  I’m wondering if they are making them to wear out now?  I have no other explanation.

I pretty much fix everything that breaks myself.  I very rarely hire anyone to do anything for me.  I do this because, one, I can, and two, I nearly always can do it better than whoever I find to fix it, and three, of course, it is just a fraction of the cost of paying someone else.

There isn’t much you can’t fix, but sometimes it is just easier, and sometimes cheaper to replace it.  I hate it.  Seems like such a waste.  But, that is our society now.  I can’t see it ever changing back.

Dennis' arm initially.

Dennis’ arm initially.

Pretty broken.  I can't fix this.

Pretty broken. I can’t fix this.

Funny how many people fix their cars in the autopart store's parking lot.  I've done it myself.

Funny how many people fix their cars in the autopart store’s parking lot. I’ve done it myself.

These plugs were toast.

These plugs were toast.

I removed the dash to get to the CD player in the "new" van.

I removed the dash to get to the CD player in the “new” van.

6 month old wiper blade.  Cheap is the word that comes to mind.

6 month old wiper blade. Cheap is the word that comes to mind.


Allergy Question

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

Okay.  One cool thing about this website is that I can usually get a fairly accurate answer about just about anything I need to know about.

I’ve got one of those questions.  For a long time now, probably close to 10 years, I’ve had this lack of energy, sore leg, weird feeling during March, sometimes all the way up to the end of May.  It seems to always be when I’m in Kansas, but a few years ago, when I went out to Redland’s in California, I was horrible.

I am pretty sure it is mainly allergies.  I think when tree allergies start in early spring, here in Kansas, I start feeling weird and then it just stays for a long time.

The one symptom that I can’t explain, and this is the main issue I have athletically, is that when it happens, my tendons seems to tighten up.  Like all my tendons.

It’s sort of hard to explain, but it is like my tendons are like guitar strings and that my muscles are doing isometric exercises trying to stretch them out.  I have a built it in internal resistance, thus am doing a ton of work and not going forward very fast.

I really noticed this yesterday.  It is the worst it has been so far.  I rode over to Lawrence on the River Road, gravel, and I was struggling the whole way.  It was spitting down rain and the gravel wasn’t too bad, but I was pretty much done by the time I got to Lawrence, which is 35 miles.

How can I be done at 35 miles when I’ve ridden nearly 3000 miles for the season and thought I was pretty recovered from being sick a couple weeks ago?  My right leg was nearly cramping.  I hobbled home, in a complete downpour, at 45 degrees, on the gravel.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I was completely blown.

There must be some explanation for the phenomenon.  It has happened so often that I have sort of surrendered to the fact.  The last couple years I’ve avoided it by not being around Kansas in the spring, when the allergies kick in, plus when they are burning the whole state, which obviously doesn’t thrill me much. I don’t take any allergy medicine, it never seems to make a difference.

So, I’m wondering if anyone else has had this problem, and if so, have they figured out a solution for it?   My solution has been to just wait it out.  Sometimes it takes a few weeks, sometimes more than a couple months.  I don’t really feel like I have that long to wait it out this year.  I missed all the early season training races around here, so I’m already behind the curve.


Allergies word cloud