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On the Cheap: Nitto Randoneer…..Randonur….RANDO BARS!

On the Cheap: Nitto Randoneer…..Randonur….RANDO BARS!

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One of the few complaints I have about the Raleigh One Way I inherited is that the stock bars are 1) way too narrow 2) are somehow shaped too much and too little like track bars at the same time. Raleigh somehow managed to create the world’s least comfortable road bar on the market. After a couple of years riding the bike stock, I found that the only comfortable position on those bars were found when I rode no handed. But, I suffered because I liked the way Raleigh built the bike to look like a classic, and I wanted to preserve the aesthetics.

Then I took a spin on an actual classic touring bike that was built in the same decade that I was born in (I won’t say which decade, but let’s just say that it was post hippie pre-yuppie). The bars on the old bike had these weird looking humps and flares instead of traditional flat bar tops. My brain told me these were just some useless old technology that has since gone the way of friction shifters, cotter pinned cranks and unsealed hubs.

Once I placed my grubby hands atop the foam covered weirdo bars, I was convinced that not everything from the ’70’s was total crap. In fact, I was now convinced that the ’70’s were THE absolute end-all-be-all shit. In fact, I’m listening to Barry Gibb and his brothers as I type this article from the back seat of an orange Pinto.  According to the Gibb clan I should be dancin’.

But gangsters don’t dance, we boogie.

The design basics of the Nitto Randonneur bars harken back to the days when Tour riders swigged wine from bota bags and rode fixed gears. The tops of the bars feature a small flat area that sweeps up before sweeping down and out into a pair of generous drops, all of which somehow create perfectly comfortable hand positions no matter where your hands are placed. Case in point, I’ve never been able to comfortably ride in the drops of any bars on any bike I’ve ever owned for more than a few minutes. But I can ride for hours at a time in the drops of the Nitto Rando bars. Added bonus, the flared drops of the bars offer generous amounts of leverage for when you want to emulate your favorite Tour doper and climb or sprint from the drops. Nitto’s trademark quality produces a handlebar that is stiff and strong (I unfortunately put the bike down on the Nitto’s maiden voyage, so I can confidently say that these things are tough) for years of comfort for your Palmela Handersons.

At around $50 a set, the Nitto Rando bars are a wallet friendly upgrade for anyone who wants to be comfortable on long rides…or short rides. They’d probably work well for medium distance rides, too.

Just don’t feed them after midnight.

Broke Ass Racer: aka the BAR bike

Broke Ass Racer: aka the BAR bike

Cyclocross season is coming up quickly. Next month, people will begin attending CX camps to hone their skills for the upcoming race season, which begins in September.

10733846_10204050088066291_2340075667420873788_oFor those of you not familiar with ‘cross racing, Ryan described it best as “combining the worst elements of bike riding and long distance running into one sport.” Admittedly, CX racing is, by nature, a sufferfest. You ride what equates to a road bike equipped with knobby tires over courses that may contain some or all of the following:

1) Dirt

2) Mud

3) Sand

4) Stairs

5) Barriers that require riders to shoulder their bikes and run with them.

Weather. Does. Not. Cancel. EVER.10750013_10204049976903512_5293972783870888779_o

In fact, race organizers have been working with the CIA and Area 51 to ensure that the worst weather of the year occurs between September and late November requiring  CX races to take place in ankle deep mud and freezing rain and Category 5 hurricanes. While the racing may be miserable, watching your friends suffer before or after your race, brings miles of smiles. 

10683568_10204049999424075_4987743583948998782_oThe Seattle area has two CX racing series: MFG and Cross Revolution–neither of which are UCI sanctioned. Even though non-sanctioned racing can be frustrating to aspiring pros who are chasing points, removing the UCI licensing rules and requirements opens the door to anybody that wants to come out and play in the mud on whatever bike they want or can afford.

I’m pushing 40. I sit behind a desk 5 days a week and I’m lucky to get in an hour of riding a day Monday thru Friday. My training regimen consists of riding my bike for 6-8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday, followed by large plates of food smothered in gravy and hot sauce.

That said, I could probably take racing more seriously, but that would take all the fun out of it. While I know many a racer who has thousands of dollars in their CX race bike, why spend all that money on something that you’re just going to destroy over the course of a race season? Cross racing ruins shiny paint jobs, makes derailleurs surrender their powers (they are a French invention, after all), and turns wheels into tacos for lunch.

For a weekend warrior like me, I just can’t justify literally throwing away thousands of dollars for the sake of entertainment….unless porn stars are involved, then it’s anybody’s guess.  In all honesty, I’ve seen people on cobbled together mismatched rides decimate riders atop full carbon unobtanium steeds many, many times.

After watching my friends race for a couple of seasons, I decided to try this thing called cyclocross myself. Being a man of modest means, I found a budget ride at big box bike store Nashbar for about $400. I figured if I didn’t like racing cross, or if I wasn’t any good, I could always turn the bike into a commuter.

As it turns out, I LOVE racing cross…although, I’m still not any fucking good at it.  I raced the bike mostly stock, save for the pedals and a secondhand saddle (thanks, Rob!) for 2 seasons. Realizing that the bike was pretty much useless going into the 3rd season, I decided a rebuild was in order. I knew I wanted to upgrade the brakes and I also wanted to go single speed for added simplicity and drivetrain strength. As a beer gutted man who hovers around 180-190, when mud and hills are added to the mix, things like spokes and chains and things begin to break.

Using the power of the internet, I found clearance parts, NOS pieces from a few years prior, and rebuilt the race bike for just a few hundy. I also scoured the used parts bins at the local non-profit bike shop. Most of those hundies are wrapped up in my Vuelta wheels. They are handbuilt, but I suspect that they are built by the same kid who builds electronics at the Foxconn facilities. I’ve created these fantastic infograms below showing how I pulled off such a feat.

So now, when I finish at the back of the pack, rather than people saying, “That guy sucks AND he has a $5000 race bike. What a dick!”, people say, “Wow, that guy sucks but he’s on a shitty beater bike. Dick.”

10393568_10203924414444529_8351267471148815253_n 10750468_10203924416684585_8138978821645992097_o

 

Downhill and Dirty in the Desert

Downhill and Dirty in the Desert

 

 

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I spent enough years drinking cheap booze and “attending” classes at Eastern Washington University to be called “Doctor.”

During that time, I enjoyed the awesome and flowy trails offered by the dry side of Washington.

For anyone new to the area, most of Washington state lies east of the Cascade mountains where it rains little more than it does in Arizona. Thus, lots of fast and fun desert off road riding. One of the pinnacles of the early mountain bike racing season is the Hubapalooza downhill race and the People’s Enduro, the first stop on the All Gravity race series.

The trails are located at Beacon Hill/Camp Sekani park. This year’s event offers free camping for registered riders in the Camp Sekani parking lot. In addition to downhill and enduro racing, there is a fun night ride for registered riders and a jam session for dirt jumping enthusiasts.

If you’re looking to get out of the rain and clouds, come on out for some dusty fun.

I will be racing the enduro on Sunday, but I’ll be hanging out at Camp Sekani sampling the offerings of Evanson Handcrafted Distilling all weekend.

Come on out for fun in the sun!

Neal

The Berliner Fahrradschau

The Berliner Fahrradschau

Editors note:  This is the first post by one of two new Go Means Go contributors.  They are Northwest kids living in Europe and embarking on a bike trip.  You’ll be able to find their ramblings here on GMG.  Part diary, part travelogue, with writings from the road- we’re happy to have Ben and Chase onboard.  Ride on, you crazy diamonds.

A bicycle can get you where you want to go, but like many 20-somethings, we don’t always know where we’re going. It is times like those when it is sometimes good to let your bike take the lead. We, along with hordes of others, let our bikes guide the way and this time all roads led to Berlin for the Berliner Fahrradschau (Berlin Bicycle Show).

We consciously chose to do no prior research or investigation of the show and its vendors so that Berlin itself could show us what its bike culture, fashion, and ambition is. With no expectations, we rolled up to the venue, and it did not disappoint.

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This weekend in Tacoma

This weekend in Tacoma

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THE GREAT LEPRECHAUN HUNT :: 2013

:: Bicycle Booze Cruz ::

Saturday, March 16th :: 7:00pm

Meet up at: THE ACME TAVERN ::  Tacoma, WA 

We will be cycling to various watering holes throughout the night.

Rain or dry we ride – (Folks, we’re riding bikes…how cool is that?!)

21+ and biking is at your own risk…so don’t fall down yo!

Spread the word! Tell your velo peeps!

Limited number of spoke cards!  ::  Don’t be late!

Tip: Cash is king and helps us get through bar lines faster so plan ahead!

Facebook:: Tacoma Mob Riders

 

Iva Jean

Iva Jean

Iva Jean is based in Seattle and we love to hear about bike-based businesses in Seattle. Starting with the fall 2011 release of the Rain Cape, founder Ann DeOtte has been hard at work coming up with new fashionable, functional designs for female cyclists that want apparel to go from the bike to the boardroom, cafe, bar or dinner.  She has a Kickstarter campaign that this new line of apparel can be purchased from in order for Iva Jean to take the next step and grow into a larger project.

Bikes aren’t just for racing.  You don’t need to be built like a track racer to ride to the store.  What I love about Iva Jean’s designs is that they are for the everyday gal that doesn’t want to get all decked out in spandex or day-glow yellow.  They are classy pieces that bring together form and function.

Props to Ann for thinking ahead and best of luck in this endeavor.

Check out Iva Jean HERE.  And support the Kickstarter campaign HERE.

 

 

Cleverhood and the bicycle rain cape.

Cleverhood and the bicycle rain cape.

The rain has once again settled into the Northwest and now comes the time where blue skies and sunshine are the exception, not the rule.  With fall comes preparation for damp days and dark nights. For years I have threatened to get a rain cape, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it.  With full fendered bikes being the norm for my daily errands anymore, I still sit on the edge;  wondering if something like the Cleverhood rain cape, from Providence, RI will be the hot ticket for me this year.

A rain cape seems to be best designed for people that ride fully fendered bikes- to act as a shell from the rain falling from above.  The bottom is open, allowing airflow and reducing the plastic bag sweatsuit feel that many rain suits can give.  In Seattle I have found the weather to be wet, but not very cold- so I end up sweating out nearly as much as the rain permeates lesser rain jackets.  My thought is that a heavier, more waterproof fabric can be used for a rain cape, meaning a more durable product all around.

I tested a rain cape last year from Hub & Bespoke, but wasn’t too keen on how it felt with a bag underneath the cape- so I waited.  It was also a rubbery and plain looking piece, that I can’t remember who made for the life of me.  They were more affordable than other models I’d seen, custom and otherwise, coming in under $100.  The black one wasn’t too bad, but the bright yellow was too much.  I’m a fan of more subdued cycling fashion preferring to be seen through lighting or reflectors not Seattle’s favorite, the ever present “yellow jacket.”

My most often ridden bike seems to be the Raleigh Port Townsend lately. With a porteur rack and large front bag- the need to carry a bag on my person is not there.  This makes a rain cape seem much more conceivable.

Why focus on Cleverhood?  Well, I just found them in my searches of today- and though it’s a little silly, they have a video.  No, the video doesn’t really show how amazing they are for riding- but there are boats, a water ballon fight and a puppy.

Cleverhood – the rain cape from Providence from Cleverhood on Vimeo.

Other options I’ve seen are:

So whether you subscribe to the church of the bicycle rain cape or not- there is some food for thought- and a video.  Hopefully soon I’ll be able to get you some first hand experience from underneath one.  Ride safe this fall and keep the rubber side down.