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Green Tuesday: Well, almost

If I can finish this post in 45 minutes or less, then technically it will still meet the deadline to legitimately be “Tuesday,” well at least here in Arizona.

I went to Nashville, Tenn., this past weekend and just got back home this evening. And while there is nothing “green” about flying across the country, allow me to share part of the weekend festivities.

My best bud and old college roommate, Will, met me in Nashville since I haven’t seen him since last September. I wanted to show him around Nashville, particularly downtown, so we decided to cruise the streets on our bikes. It was a great way to see the city at our own pace, enjoy the cold Tennessee air, and not have to set foot in a car.

Downtown Nashville is not a particularly large area, but there are tons of venues for live music. Nashville is proclaimed to be the country music capitol of the World, after all. The city is steeped in music culture, especially country and bluegrass. We stopped at the Gruhn guitar shop, which serves as THE go-to place for many of country music’s and Nashville’s finest musicians. The next time you are in need of a $15,000 Gibson banjo, check out Gruhn.

The city has lots of these guitars placed all over, but this is the only one we were able to find.

We climbed the steps of the State Capitol building and got a pretty sweet view of the downtown area.

The Ryman Auditorium is one of the top music venues in the country, especially for country music. The Temptations and the Four Tops are playing there soon apparently…

I love bluegrass music, which is popular in Nashville, but have never been a big fan of country. However, the feel of a downtown environment that is rich with the community of music is a really cool thing – you can hang out downtown any day of the week and hear free music from some really talented people just playing on the street.

For the observant ones amongst you, you might notice that Will was riding a Specialized Langster London. These bikes have been quite rejected by the cycling community because of their big-brand capitalization of a more independent style. In my eyes, if it gets someone on a bike and out of their car, then that is green enough for me.

So just because you are traveling doesn’t mean you have to stay out of the saddle. I was fortunate enough to stay with someone that had a bike I could ride – but many Local Bike Shops will rent out bikes for your touring pleasures. In larger cities, you can also find bike touring companies that will rent bikes for your touring pleasures. The car is not the only way…

First Impression: Sette Elite Carbon Road Shoe

I must have been a good boy this year because, after breaking a strap off of my cycling shoe, Santa Claus surprised me and brought a new pair of road shoes from Pricepoint.com: the Sette Elite Carbon shoe (MSRP: $210, PP.com: $89.98).

Here is what Pricepoint has to say about the shoe:

The new Sette Elite Carbon Road Shoes with their ultrastrong and ultralight carbon fiber sole providing excellent stiffness and torque transfer. Not to mention the four air vents in the toe and midsole combined with a breathable mesh upper to ensure your feet remain cool and comfortable all day. The Elite Carbon Road Shoes feature a premium fit and support that is provided by a molded heel cup and two hook and loop straps combined with a quality metal ratchet closed tab with quick release for easy adjustments.

I am young, and not rich, so this is a pretty fancy pair of shoes for me. My only other pair was bare-bones compared to the Sette Elite Carbon, so it might take me a while to get used to a better shoe.

The Sette Elite Carbon comes with a 2 strap and 1 ratcheting strap design, allowing for a nice, snug fit – as long as you are not in a hurry to get the shoe on as quickly as possible (it’s the triathlete in me…). The buckle is easy to manage with one hand, both for tightening and loosening, making it easy to get on and off. It also seems to be really sturdy and I am confident it would hold up to the stress of use as an everyday commuting shoe.

The shoe is incredibly comfortable – with no pokes or scratches on the inside – and good looking. There is a neoprene (or something like it) tongue that provides a really snug yet comfortable fit to the top of your foot. I bet this material makes the shoe extremely comfortable in the summer when your feet tend to get hot and sweaty. I could not get a feel for how functional the air vents are during my ride today because it was a “room temperature” kind of day: not hot or not cold. I am confident I will get to evaluate their cold-weather comfort in the weeks ahead and will report back with more detail!

The carbon sole provides a nice stiff “backbone” for a cycling shoe, which is good for optimum power transfer. I honestly don’t notice a HUGE difference in pedal-efficiency between my old, non-carbon shoes and the Sette Elite Carbon, but then again I have only used the shoes once on my flat commute. The winds were too strong today for me to have a desire to do a little sprinting or climbing…

A New Year Is New Excitement

2008 is here (I say that as if it were news) and I must say that I am excited about the year ahead. I have never really been one for setting resolutions but that is most likely attributed to my age. There is a certain instability of life that comes with being 24 years old – odds are I will be doing something completely different (career, personal hobbies, etc.) in 6 months from what I do now. However, I see a lot of exciting things ahead of me this year, and bike commuting is at the top of that list.

I have only been bike commuting since August 2007, but have biked an average 4 work days out of 5 for those past 5 months. I have been able to continue riding into winter since I live in Arizona – we’ve had a couple mornings in the upper 30s so far, but it could certainly be much worse.

After reading Jack’s post I set up an account at bikejournal.com; hopefully I can keep up with my mileage numbers. I don’t know the exact breakdown, but the cyclometer on my road bike has 3276 registered miles and it just turned 2 years old – meaning I am averaging ~1600 miles per year. In addition, my mountain bike shows 704 miles on the cyclometer (I have only had it since June), giving me a total of ~4000 miles biked in the past two years. I would say that I rode more miles this past year than the former, and assume the breakdown is more like 1800/2200. Based on how much I have been riding and what I predict to ride this year, I want to shoot for 2500 miles ridden in 2008 (this is a GOAL, not a resolution).

I head back to work tomorrow after being on vacation since Dec. 21. Our forecast for tomorrow shows sun with 46 degrees in the morning and 69 degrees by the afternoon. This has me so excited about getting on the saddle tomorrow morning as I head to the office. And what better way to spend New Years Day than getting my bike ready to go?! It is a bit chilly outside today but the winds are howling around 20 mph sustained, so it just feels right to stay inside, wearing my new fluffy slippers, and wrenching and scrubbing around on my aluminum steed.

After brewing a fresh pot of coffee, I got to work and scrubbed off all the dirt and grime from my wheels, frame, drive-train, etc. I made sure my shift- and brake-cables were properly tightened and adjusted; made sure the chain and derailleurs were grit-free and properly lubed; sipped on my java and rocked out to some Nickel Creek.

The Velorution is coming at you 2008 – I have a feeling it will be a good year! May all of you have a safe and Velo-rific year. Happy Riding!

Hoss Stallion Shorts Review

Cost: $59.99 from www.hossmtb.com.

From the Hoss website:

Features & Benefits

  • Classic boarder short, may be worn with or without included chamois liner
  • Lightweight and durable microsuede polyester shell for quick drying comfort
  • Detachable Cytech multi-layered chamois constructed from high-density open cell foam with permanent antibacterial protection
  • Adjustable micro-fit waist band via Velcro cinch straps
  • 4 functional pockets with secure closures
  • Front zipper and drawstring closure
  • Overall, I was very pleased with how the Hoss Stallion short performed as my everyday commuter shorts (back before it got too cold). The thing I will praise about this short over and over is the fit and the versatility. First things first…

    the Fit
    This short has what I think is the ideal fit for a cycling short, no matter what type of riding you do. The board-short style is made to sit on your hip bones which provides a fit that will withstand the constant motion of your legs while pedaling a bicycle. A zip fly and a tie-string ensure all the security you need in a pair of shorts. If you wear these shorts where they are meant to be worn, there will be no riding up and no chaffing. The short is also cut so that the back comes a little higher, with a little help from a stretchy mesh segment, which prevents the incredibly unattractive “plumber’s butt” that so many girls and hipsters in tight jeans are subject to. Additionally, as I mentioned in my First Impression, the length of these shorts is great – long enough to reach just beyond my kneecaps when I stand up (and I am 6′ 2″) and long enough to NOT show your whole upper thigh that you never got around to shaving (roadies know what I’m talking about there).

    (thanks for the photo, Lance)

    The short is baggy enough to provide plenty of freedom of movement yet not too baggy that it flaps in the wind as you speed your way to work.

    One final detail that really impressed me with these shorts is the velcro adjustment straps located on the waist. There are two straps that allow you to customize the fit of the short by adjusting how snug they fit around your hips. This shows me that Hoss really thinks about their product and how to fine tune it – something I greatly respect in a company.

    As far as the sizing goes, if you are on the upper limit of a size, I recommend opting for the next size up, because the sizes tend to run a little small.

    the Versatility
    The other thing that impressed me with the Hoss Stallion is how it can be used for more than a cycling short. The baggy chamois liner can be removed from the outer shell. While you would not necessarily want to sport just the baggy liner like you would with any other pair of cycling shorts, this feature is helpful because you can rotate through the cycling short you wear underneath and just wear the Hoss Stallion shell everyday. The liner that comes with the short is plenty comfortable but after one day of riding a guy needs to wash these things. After the first week, I never re-attached the liner, but put it into a rotation of a few pairs of cycling shorts that I would change and wash while I showered after each day, and wore the outer shell everyday. I only had to wash the shell once a week and it never showed signs of being too dirty or smelly.

    When meeting a friend for coffee one afternoon after work, I rode my bike to the coffee shop and went into the restroom to rinse off and put a clean shirt on, but was able to leave my Hoss Stallions on and not even worry about cramping my style – which is impeccable by the way 🙂

    This short comes with 3 zipper-secured front pockets and one rear velcro pocket that are very practical. All pockets are located on the front of the legs, 2 on one side and 1 on the other. The pockets are not big, but extremely functional. They are perfect for dropping your keys, cell phone and a compact digital camera into. On cooler mornings I could actually cram my arm warmers into the larger pocket when I took them off – which kept me from having to unstrap my backpack. The pockets are compact enough that your keys don’t jiggle around or bounce back and forth, which is another nice touch.

    the Technical Stuff
    Hoss advertises that the chamois liner has “permanent antibacterial protection” – whether or not this is true seemed irrelevant to me because as I said, after one ride, it is really a good idea (for you and anyone around you) to clean your bike shorts. Maybe the antibacterial protection keeps the shorts from developing problems in the long term. A simple wash with soap and water while I would shower seemed to do the job every time.

    The outer shell is indeed made of quick-drying fabric. Even if you wanted to rinse the shell off in the evening, it would be sufficiently dry if you hang it up overnight. It impressed me how easy the shorts were to maintain and keep clean, even after I wore them 5 days a week.

    the Drawback(s)
    I really only noticed one flaw with these shorts: they got a bit staticky. As I have said, I would wash the liner by hand after every wear, but I would put both the liner and shell in the washing machine about once a week with the rest of my laundry. I usually hang dry all of my cycling clothing and often times some static would build up when getting dressed in the morning…a very minor flaw in all reality (in fact almost any clothing will do this). There are two very simple solutions for this issue: 1) put them in a dryer with a dryer sheet (even if only for a few minutes) or if you prefer to hang dry your cycling stuff 2) once they have dried, rub the inside of the shorts with a dryer sheet or spray with some sort of anti-static cling product (if you are married, ask your wife, she will have some).

    $60 can seem like a hefty price to pay for a pair of commuting shorts, but I am confident that it would be the only pair of shorts you need to buy. One pair will get you through an entire week – and doesn’t require that you do laundry every night.

    All in all, I was very impressed with the Hoss Stallion short and give them two finger-less-gloved thumbs up for any bike commuter.