Monday, October 9, 2017

A Day on the Towpath at New Hope, Pennsylvania

 We had not been there for a long time, but we were both longing for a ride on the towpath at New Hope, Pennsylvania. The towpath was used for mules hauling barges on the adjacent canal from 1831 to 1932. It is level and the surface is crushed gravel and dirt in some places. Nothing technically difficult here. The attraction is in the great scenic beauty of the area and the quaint and walkable town of New Hope. Helen rode her Giant Anyroad with 32mm semi knobby tires, and I rode Mr Blue with the 2.4" Maxxis Ardents. No problems with either bike on this easy path.
The Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River is more scenic and more of a rustic country path. The New Jersey side is wider and entirely paved with crushed gravel. That side id not as scenic as the Pennsylvania side, and is more " in the woods. "
This is not a ride for the racer, for the scenery is more likely to be savored by most riders.Every once and a while, we would stop to enjoy the views of the Delaware River. 
Of course, after a not too tough day cruising along the canal and river, we met relatives for a great dinner at the 86 West restaurant in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. I ordered a steak, atypical for me, but it was a great end to a wonderful day of riding and enjoying.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Evolution in Blue

Over the past 14 years, I have been thinking about an evolution for my off road bike. I enjoy trail riding during the colder months. Not having to worry about being killed by cars, and the more severe climactic conditions of our Northeast led me to enjoy the off road experience. When the warmer weather comes, I am off on the road. Now, however, the slower but more intense pace of off road riding and the wind chill protection of the woods is a more pleasing way to get my exercise.
I have made several improvements in this latest blue build. The cockpit has evolved from drop racing bars to the now very popular " dirt drop " variety. These Deja Far bars from Velo Orange are wider, much more flared, and much shallower than racing bars. Ideally, the down bar position should be even with the seat height for best comfort. Hence, to the racing crowd, the bars seem ridiculously high. The Cigne stem from Velo Orange helps greatly in this bar elevation. I can easily reach the flared brakes from either the over or under position. It is comfortable and very safe, especially on gravely descents or twisty trails. 
For a long time I have wanted a bike with disc brakes. The mechanical Avid BB7 road disc brakes have been perfect so far. They are very powerful when stopping, yet are very effective when modulating on trail descents. These brakes are comparable with road levers. The extra weight of these mechanical disc brakes are well worth it given the application. Hopefully, they will perform well under load while trekking with panniers.
On my Jamis Nova 'cross bike I had 32mm knobby tires, Ritchey Speedmax. The tires on this bike are Maxxis Ardent 2.4" exo, and they are tubeless ready. The two big differences are the extra width and air volume, and the fact that I am able to run them tubeless. The ' EXO " is an extra protective belt on the sidewalls, greatly worth it for extra protection despite a slight weight gain. The familiar roots and rocks of my regular trail roots are much easier to negotiate with a tires twice the diameter, with lots of air volume cushion. I run these at 26 PSI front and 28PSI rear. Stability on the trail is greatly improved. With no tubes, I am saving some weight and can run these tires at a much lower pressure for greater grip and no chance of pinch flats. 
All in all, the evolution of handlebars, disc brakes, and wider tubeless tires are the major differences that I have created with this machine design. I am looking forward to a retire to Lake Minnewaska in the near future, and doing some trekking in the spring. Of course, Iceland is on the bucket list.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A New Build...A Velo Orange Piolet

A lot of things came together at the right time. During the colder seasons, I have tended to do more off road and trail riding. My Jamis Nova cyclocross bike is now 13 seasons old. As I have given up cyclocross and have evolved into more trail riding, the urge to build a more adventure/touring bike had been in my thoughts. On a recent visit my son Zachary asked if I could ship the 'cross bike to Cali for him to use. Although hesitant, I began to think about a bike to handle rougher terrain. The folks at Orange Velo had come out with the Piolet frame, and that seemed to be just what I wanted. 
My build took into consideration what type of rider I am, and where I tend to ride the most. It is an unsuspended, off road, dirt drop handlebar machine. The Maxxis Ardent 29er 2.4" tires will allow me to ride where the 'cross bike was just uncomfortable. I am running them tubeless at 26
PSI front and 28 PSI rear. No problems so far. Touring off road may be an option, and of course Iceland is on the bucket list.
My first test ride today went well. The course that I followed was varied, including pavement, wide and narrow trails, mud, and open fields. The Deja Far wide and shallow drop bars worked well from both the above and below positions. The TRP brake levers were ergo dynamically perfect from both positions.  The BB7 disc brakes are a dream compared to the previous cantilevers. Thanks to Igor at Velo Orange for locating a black Cigne stem, it really works so well to get the handlebar semi drops at seat lever for comfortable riding and descending. Thanks to my wife who tolerated my design/building frenzy. The build is as follows:
Frame: Velo Orange Piolet, size large
Wheels: Velocity Blunt SL 29"
Tires: Maxxis Ardent 29" 2.4" width
Brakes: Avid BB7 road, 160mm rotors 
Levers: TRP aluminum
Crankset: Deore triple 22-32-44
Rear derailleur: XT SGS long cage
Cassette: XT 11-34
Seat: Selle Anatomica X series
Bars: VO Deja Far 42mm
Stem: VO Cigne 90mm, black
All in all, this has been a great belated 65th birthday present. I am sure that many roads and trails will be ahead of me for years to come. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Autumn Season For Off Road Riding

Autumn is here again. Prime riding Summer season and my quest for more Century rides is over for this year. With the colder weather comes lots of trail riding. As I am retired from Cyclocross racing but love to get out in nature, the many trails of our area beckon. 
Our Long Island moderate climate makes it possible to ride most of the year. Winter and XC skiing/snowshoeing will be upon us soon enough. For now, I enjoy the shoulder seasons of early Autumn and Early Spring in an off road mode. I have had 13 good seasons on my Jamis Nova 700 x 32c tired bike. My son has asked that I ship the bike out to California where he lives, and I agreed. I am sure that the bike will be a legacy possession for him. In the meantime, I am enjoying it on the easier trails of the North Shore of Long Island. 
Of course, this gives me an excuse to build the next bike! It will be a Velo Orange Piolet, with a rigid front fork, drop handlebars, and 2.4" mountain bike tires. This steed will be more suited to the type of trail riding that I am doing at the current time, and will be adequate for more challenging trails. Bucket list...Iceland.
For now and through the early Spring, I will be almost exclusively trail riding. No cars, less wind, and a chance to hone my bike handling skills. If history is an accurate predictor, I will be back on the road as soon as the weather turns warm.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I'm 65 today! A Shelter Island Treat

Well, it finally came about. Today I am 65 years old. That seems to be some sort of a milestone for many people. Some are still active, and some are not. Long ago, I chose to be active for life. Growing up in Westbury on Long Island, I was fortunate enough to meet Vito Perucci,the cycling barber, who became, in effect, my cycling father. Since the age of two I have been interested in cycling. As I have told my daughter Nina, it is not what I do, it is what I am.
For my birthday day I happened to be off call. I have recently transitioned from being a private practitioner to being a full time OB-GYN Academic Hospitalist, and things have been much calmer lately with a more predictable schedule. The obvious choice for a birthday ride would be a 40 mile loop from Sag harbor to Shelter Island and back. During the week the island is deserted, and has flattish/rolling/hilly/scenic terrain well suited to a general cycling workout. 
There is also a great amount of wildlife on the island. I have seen wild turkeys, osprey, foxes, and many other animals on my rides. The above osprey nest is right off the road on the way to Ram Island, and very visually accessible. Of course, I stopped by Marie Eiffel's for a melted brie and ham on home baked baguet. 
On the technical side, my new Kojak baldy tires were able to give me a good compromise between grip, speed, and cushioning. They will be Spring/Summer Fall keepers for sure. Many people assume that trike riding is easier than riding an upright bike. I say that after 6000+ miles on this Catrike trike, that the amount of watts/exercise put out is about the same. Due to my being sun challenged, my Boure sunscreen jersey with SPF 28 effectiveness kept my arms from being baked. Great riding made a great birthday day. Thanks to all my family and cycling buds for your continuing encouragement and support

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Kojaks and a New Inner Chainring for my Catrike Expedition

The Spring season is upon us. It has been raining for several days and a gap in the clouds gave me a chance to ride for a few hours. For my sixth Century ride on a recumbent trike, I decided to make some modifications for this Spring riding season. I had been using the stock Marathon Racers on my Catrike Expedition CTE 3385. These tires are not speedy, so last season I had swapped them out for Duranos for Century ride use. The Duranos, although light and fast, give a rather harsh ride, which begins to sap strength after about 50-60 miles, especially on Suffolk County's rather dodgy East End roads. This season I decided to try Schwalbe Kojaks: bald, light, and voluminous. The tires mounted rather easily with finger pressure on the stock Catrike rims. These tires have a suggested PSI range of 55-95, and I decided to try them at 80PSI. These tires were comfortable on my 25 mile test ride.
I found these tires to be 2-3 MPH faster while cruising, excellent handlers, and not at all fazed by the wet conditions. I even rode on wet grass with some acceptable slippage.
The second modification for this Spring was to rep
lace the stock 30T inner chainring on my FSA triple. Wanting a little more advantage for serious climbing, I put on a Dimension 26T 74 BCD triple inner chainring. This required dismantling the crankset, which I accomplished on my virgin run thanks to some guts and YouTube. A slight adjustment of front derailleur the inner limit screw was easily done, and I was in business. I think that I will enjoy some steeper climbing this season with about a one gear advantage. This combo gives me about 17.5 gear inches to work with. All in all, the Kojaks plus the new inner chainring should serve me well on my sixth Catrike Century, the Long Island Bike/Boat/Bike on June 5, 2016.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rain Rain Rain..Makes a Great Mud Ride

Well, it is December and no snow yet. We have gotten rain for the past few days, and everything is soaked. The road conditions are terrible. Lots of fog, so automobile visualization of bikes cannot be trusted.That sounds like a great opportunity to go for a mud ride.
Caumsett Park, in Lloyd Harbor, Long Island, is an 1800 acre former estate of Marshall Field III. It has rolling fields, and 20 miles of trails, from broad fire roads to single track. It is the perfect place to ride when mud is on the mind.
I built this bike from a frame 14 years ago, and it has not let me down. Now, several rear derailleurs and wheels later, it is my steady date in bad or borderline conditions. I have even raced it in cyclocross races several years ago. I had the honor of being lapped by Richard Sachs!
As this bike was created expressly for these trail conditions, my ride was wet, muddy, gooey, and very pleasurable. The 32mm knobby tires bite well in the uneven or soft terrain, and the Reynolds 631 steel frame is compliant enough when the going gets rough.
It was certainly a lot better than going to the gym on a less than perfect day. Most cyclists would keep their light, fast, or expensive machines home. This baby was born for slop, and that is where it really shines. Success!