Browse Tag by cycling
Reviews

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

HB1024

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.

Alaska, Bicycle, Events, fat bike, Rides

Tomorrow in Anchorage: Global Fatbike Day

gfbd

Tomorrow in Anchorage and around the world, people will be straddling their fatbikes and going on rides with friends and making new ones. The majority of my trips and rides are done on my own and I’m looking forward to meeting some people in the Anchorage area. It feels a little like that time in 2006 when I showed up to a Fast Friday in Seattle- not knowing anybody, but that turned out pretty well.

Love them or hate them, fatbikes have made a big impact in the cycling world. It feels a little similar to the fixed gear boom that started about 10 years ago- though there isn’t a conversion kit for a shitty 10sp so you can get in on the cheap. Nope, these bad boys cost some dough.

Global Fatbike Day Alaska Facebook page

Anchorage info- taken from the FB

Ok folks so the details you have all been waiting for. The ride will start from West Chester Lagoon around 7. The group ride will head east on the chester creek trail towards the hillside with many chances to branch off on single track that will re-connect with the bike trail. The ride will continue on the chester creek trail making its way across northern lights and through the university/ medical center area again taking chances to ride more single track along the way. Once back on the bike trail the ride will head across the tudor overpass onto the tour trail and make a shorter loop on some campbell creek science center single tracks. Trails will most likely include blue dot, moose tracks, lynx, birch meadow, Speedway, moose meadow, lower rovers, salmon run and continuing along the tour trail back to westchester. The loop through the campbell tract trails can be done in either direction its up to you! The single tracks that turn off the chester creek trail and the tour trail will be marked come the day of the ride. We will announce what kind of marks to look for because weather may dictate one form of marker over another (marking paint on the snow vs flagging) come ride time.

I would like to stress the listed route is only a loose guideline. If you are not comfortable with any of these single track off shoots sticking to the bike path as well as the tour and larger trails like moose tracks is just fine and continuing on your way towards campbell creek science center is another option. The great part about doing that is you will most likely be constantly riding with fellow fat bikers on the way. The ride is meant to be about having some fun and be done at mellow conversation speed. The route listed above should be largely doable for some within an 1.5-2 hour range however please do not feel like you must do the entire length of route in that time. Ride as much of the route as you can and make sure to be back at the lagoon by 9 ish for the swag give away. Be sure to bring some additional warm layers so you can be comfortable while hanging around post ride. Also be sure to stash some snacks and beverages of your choice in your packs for post ride (or during the ride) up to you really.

Global Fatbike Day general Facebook pageFind your area, and go on a ride! Start one up! Be it solo or in a group- get on your bikes and ride!

Bicycle, Travel

You can never go home again.

Home [hohm]
noun
1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.
2. the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
3. an institution for the homeless, sick, etc.: a nursing home.
4. the dwelling place or retreat of an animal.
5. the place or region where something is native or most common.
6. any place of residence or refuge: a heavenly home.
7. a person’s native place or own country.
photo 1
I spent my adolescence and some of my teenage years in the “San Francisco Bay Area.” That’s what you tell people that aren’t familiar with The Bay. When you live in the East Bay, which I did- people still want it narrowed down. Living in Oakland and Berkeley is where the cool kids were. Where do you NOT want to live in the 90’s? Concord. That’s where.
I graduated from high school (barely) and promptly got the fuck out of town, hitchhiking at 17 years old to any point East. After 4 years on the road by thumb, bus, bicycle and freight train I found myself in Alaska which is where I am today (having done a couple year stint in Seattle in order to convince my [now] bride-to-be to move even farther north.) Nope, I don’t have much use for California. Too much humanity.
The Bay Area never felt like “home” to me. I was born in Oregon if you ask. I’m not really “from there” either I guess, I don’t have as many memories of it as I do of California- but I always felt out of place in that Golden State of earthquakes and hustlers. It’s a place that doesn’t fit as “home” to me- as dictionary.com defines it and my heart sure isn’t there.  Don’t get me wrong- there are a bunch of few people that I do care very much about in California. It’s everybody else that make me lose faith in the human race. I left in 1995 and every time I return it I have less patience for it.
All that, but California does have one thing on it that can’t ever move out of state. A thing that I will forever be thankful for, which helped shape me into who I am today. California is where I learned to ride a bike.
I remember:
  • Riding my bmx in the drainage ditches of Pittsburg, (before my first foray into wrenching left the thing in a hundred little pieces that my step-dad had no idea how to put back together.)
  • Riding my Fila hybrid (if it was sold today it would be called a “gravel grinder”) in the hills off the Contra Costa Canal trail and to school before it was stolen.
  • I purchased my first “real” Mountain bike in California, a GT Timberline. The one with the blue splatter paint and a rigid fork. It had sealed bearings and rapid fire shifters!  A bike I brought to Cordova in the late nineties and still see riding around.

I have riding memories in Oregon as well, but no where near as many as exploring the East Bay, Marin County and San Francisco on two wheels. Some of my best rides have been in California and I thought of these as I flew down to the bay last week, as a surprise to my good friend for his wedding (second time’s a charm!) I knew in the cargo hold of that 737 was my bike and I knew I was headed down to 80 degree weather on trip that would kill three birds with one stone. Not only would I threaten to spend as much time in the saddle as I did on a barstool, I would see my good friend and my favorite family members.

I wasn’t surprised that the weather was hot and dusty. California is in a drought. I asked some kid at the park how long they’ve been in a drought.

“How should I know? I’m only 12!”

My family unit now resides in Crockett. A town built by C&H sugar and is now sustained by various oil refineries. It’s an odd town, with a couple bars, no grocery store and an $80,000 median income. It’s closest BART station (an extremely useful tool in getting around in the Bay without a car) is in Richmond- 15+ miles away through a handful of towns and a fair amount of climbing. All in all I rode about 200 miles that week in the sun. I got to explore the dirt trails connecting Crockett and Port Costa, another odd little delta front town with a bar worth visiting.

In my week in the Bay Area I got to share some good beers and good times with some of the most important people in my life and ride bikes in places that I haven’t in many years, as well as some places that I’ve never ridden before. San Francisco and the East Bay is really stepping it up when it comes to beer selection and I had a lot of fun rolling around looking for a place to wet my whistle with a fine draft beer.

In all of that I came to realize that “home” means different things to different people. To some it’s where they first saw the light of day. To others, it’s where they had their first kiss, or where they went to high school. Maybe it’s where their family lives, or at least their favorite family. Can you ever go home again? I’m not really sure. I still don’t miss California. Alaska is where I live now, but I’ve lived quite a few places. I’ve come to be the person I am from my experiences down life’s trail- and to me, I guess, home is where I ride my bike.

Alaska, Bicycle, Washington

Bear curious? Cycling in bear country.

There’s been a lot lately about people heading off into the woods, seeking adventures and Instagram opportunities in the great outdoors. In those hordes, there are a lot of folks that probably shouldn’t head to the grocery store without a chaperone- but now they want to get an “adventure bike”, put on their adventure hat and have a goddamn adventure.  Who am I to say that the guy riding their bike with their helmet on backwards shouldn’t ride the Great Divide Trail?  It’s a free country, dammit. 

 

South Central Alaska is the awe-inspiring place that I call home. It’s also bear country, and bears are seen on my trips to the woods (hopefully at a distance) more than human trail users. When viewed from a safe place they can be very entertaining to watch- cute, even. Traveling through their backyard on the other hand can be unnerving, even risky.  Bears can be unpredictable and dangerous.  A predator that can attack when it feels that it or its cubs are threatened, if it’s starving or if it doesn’t like your stupid Primal tattoo print arm warmers. So I give you two options:

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Uncategorized

Aether and Argonaut

Got this in the mailbag today:
AETHERfocus is a video series that showcases individuals and companies that inspire us.
A good looking video, and a budding relationship between two companies on the west coast that are pushing boundaries in cycling.

AETHERfocus: Argonaut Cycle from Aether Apparel on Vimeo.

Aether Apparel is a Los Angeles based company making cutting edge outdoor and urban apparel.

Designed and manufactured entirely in the Pacific Northwest, Ben Farver of Argonaut Cycle offers truly custom-built carbon frames. Each of their bikes are handcrafted using an innovative construction process for a completely tailored riding experience. With more than 30 years of industry leading composite experience behind their team, Argonaut Cycle is driven by a true passion for the sport of cycling. They strive to make the best, because they want to ride the best.

Bicycle, Clothing, Gear, Reviews

Review: Cleverhood Raincape

Okay.  Below is a review of a product- and it’s taken way too long to make happen.  Between using it in the fall of last year, moving back to Alaska, my video review process shitting the bed, then it being summer- the time wasn’t right.  But as can happen, fall has arrived once more, and it’s time for folks to start thinking about the rain that comes with it.  So here is my review, as originally written, with photos from last week.

cape

A couple months back I got the opportunity to put the Cleverhood Rain cape through a long term review process. I of course jumped on it because rain capes have seemed like a good idea to me since I first saw them in the Rivendell Reader.  I have a tendency to run hot-  when wearing a waterproof shell I often get to my destination soaked from sweat, not rain;  the thought of not needing a waterproof jacket and pants when the clouds open up was like a breath of fresh air.

You may wonder why I haven’t put one through the paces already if it’s been in my mind for so long.  In one word: cost.  Quality rain gear is expensive and rain capes are no exception.  I’d seen Carradice and Brooks rain capes over the years, but they were difficult to source (being from across the pond) and over $250 a pop.  That, and they were made of waxed cotton- which though aesthetically pleasing, is fairly bulky, dries slowly once saturated and they take maintenance (more maintenance is needed the more it is used in the rain, the wax being something of a sacrificial element.)

So now that we’ve established that I’m a cheap bastard frugal, we’ll get on with it.

Cleverhood was born in, and still based in Providence, Rhode Island.  They are made in the United States and inspired by the slow bike movement, or in their words: “the simple, elegant way the bike is affecting broad change in our cities.”

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Bicycle, Clothing, Gear

Sombrio

More and more I’m finding myself wearing clothing designed for, or at the very least inspired by- cycling.  It doesn’t matter if I’m running errands all day by bike- if I hop on my bike and ride just one place while still wearing Levis 501 jeans or a Carhartt jacket- the fit and cut just don’t feel right.  That said, I can wear cycling inspired clothes all day long- whether camping, road tripping in a car, taking the bus to meet up with friends or running errands all day by bike.

Always on the look out for new cycling brands- sometimes you find a company that has been doing a good thing for many years and they just haven’t been on your radar.

Sombrio is one of those brands.

Dave Watson launched Sombrio in 1998.  It began, and still has roots in, the freeride and mountain bike culture found on Vancouver’s North Shore. (that’s Canada for all you folks that are bad at geography.)  If you don’t know who Dave Watson is, you should watch this video:

And you can also read THIS about the stunt.

Whether you huck yourself off of 6’ drops in the woods on the daily, hit the trails on your way home from work or ride to meet your friends at the bar, Sombrio has got some nice looking designs blending form and function.  Like more than a few Canadian companies, it’s sometimes difficult to find a place to purchase locally.  They have an online STORE as well.

Things I’m digging:

Check them out.  And then go for a ride.