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Tag Archive: Fixie

What’s the Deal with Gravel? (In a Jerry Seinfeld voice)

So I feel like the kid in the 1950s pot commercial; I rode gravel once and now I’m hooked and my whole life has been turned upside down. I just can’t see the road the same. I now see cars and replace them with trees, signal lights are now steep hills, cement streets are now dirt paths… Everything has flipped and I love it.

I had tried cross and it was plenty fun. Not like every day fun, but fun once-in-awhile-fun. I will/must/don’t want to admit how bad I am on a mountain bike. On a road bike is where I was the most comfortable. Gravel does not come natural for me even if I’ve tried most of what cycling has to offer. For me it’s not the descents because I’m not all that confident in my skills. It’s the views as I suffer and drag my 200 pound butt up these climbs that normally lead to some hike-a-bike situations. The climbing can be brutal but like the Instagram inspirational quote with a majestic background says, “It’s just a hill, get over it.” If you can, then you will get a new perspective; your eyes will open to everything you’ve missed on a road bike or a mountain bike.

On a road bike you ride with your eyes wide shut. That’s the appeal for me, a lot of it is just not thinking and just going; you can zone out on a climb and even forget about the views. On a mountain bike you are more aware but there is still a level of letting the bike do it’s job and going for it. The closest thing to riding gavel (on a rigid bike with drops), in my opinion, is riding a fixed gear bike. On a fixed gear bike you have to be aware of everything around you. From the cars to the road conditions, the signal lights to the pedestrians, you are on full alert all the time. Not having real brakes will do that to you. Gravel is somewhat like that, you have an idea of control but it’s more controlled chaos then precision.

The real beauty of gravel [(…and I get a ten-cent commission every time I type G R A V E L)- Gravel] riding is that it’s not just about riding, hiking is also a big part of the experience. On a road bike you can take another route, on a mountain bike you have a lot of gearing and a more capable bike, so when you get to a section that’s above your pay grade you either push yourself or hike-a-bike. You go on a ride and you really don’t know if you are going to be able to ride every section of it. How much of a route you can manage changes as you improve and get more confident/stronger. I tend to fall more on the climbs than the descents. I’ve also done a lot to improve my gearing.

Nonetheless, gravel is my new obsession. So much so that this summer I am planning a Summer Adventure Gravel Series (SAGS) around the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. The adventure part is that there will be no routes given out. We will have to stay together, this will help avoid douchebagery. This is not a race. This is not about being first, fast, or better. This is about the people next to you, the landscape that surrounds you, and the route in front of you. Aside from maybe the Cannondale Slate [(with a gearing upgrade) no pun intended] there will not be a perfect bike for every situation. After, I hope we question our bikes but not our time in the saddle. I’m currently doing recon for the S.A.G.S ride- details will come.

First Impression: Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag

First Impression.

I like it.

After using it for a couple of weeks, I’ve found the bag to be quite useful.

Regarding it’s look, it’s stylish–the main zipper streamlines a clean-looking design. The Kona logo is visible along with the 2 buckle-harnesses that keep the contents of the bag secure.

Upon opening, three separate compartments are visible. One being a “divider” where it has a velcro flap to secure the contents from the rest of the bag. The inside of the first compartment has more pockets and zippers similar to an inside of a backpack to put in smaller items.

Opened

When closing, one can see that there are magnetic flaps that secure to make sure that the sides stay closed.

On the sides are the magnetic flaps

The adjustable strap has a cell phone holder, and an accompanying buckle that couples with another strap to make sure the bag secures to the wearer.

Cell phone holder, adjustable strap and additional strap for stability.

Here are the specs from the manufacturer. It should be noted that Kona tapped the talents of Brenthaven in order to create this bag.

  • Name: Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag- Blue
  • Model #: 6102
  • Weight: 3.2 lb.
  • External Dimensions: 21.5″ W x 16″ H x 8″ D
  • Fits laptops up to 16″
  • Built in safety light with replaceable battery compartment
  • Bomber, water-shedding 1000D Cordura fabric
  • Waterproof internal compartment for laptop, electronics
  • Comfortable shoulder strap with quick release phone pocket
  • Large capacity, expands to 1300 cubic inches
  • 100% lifetime guarantee and then some
  • Patent pending magnetic Hydro FlapsTM keep your gear dry

I’ll upload some photos of me actually using it when the review is done!

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Cycling Proficiency License?

Biker's License

Not the best example but you get the idea.

I recently saw an article discussing bicycle safety and the need for, wait for it…. bicycling licenses. I know, I know, such an idea is outrageous but it isn’t to me when I see people riding recklessly either because they’re clueless or they arrogantly believe the road is theirs. That said, as much as I want cyclists to be proficient (so those that are reckless don’t give me a bad name) I’m not sure where to take a stand here since there are glaring questions that would need to be addressed before any legislation is written.

Here’s a couple:

1. Would you need a license even if you ride only a handful of times a year?

2. What kind of test (written and behind the handlebar, haha) would you be running to determine proficiency?

3. Who would run the tests? The DMV? A local bike shop certified in testing?

These are some concerns I have. Personally, I lean towards having no license since laying down infrastructure for it seems impossible. On the other hand, I also think a lot of people need help with bicycling naivete!

What about you guys? What do you think?

Original article

Darn Fixies!

Today I saw a guy riding his pretty fixie with lime green wheels and white frame. He had the stereotypical cut off tight jeans, black shirt and a cap(backwards) wearing his vans with no socks.

As I watched him, I already knew that he would be zipping in and out of traffic as if he was in NYC delivering packages. But no, we were in Southern California. So the rider takes a lane, cuts cars off and runs a red light. I rolled my eyes and said, “figures.”

I hate to admit this, but I’m really starting to resent some fixie riders. There’s a good number of them that are law abiding, but there’s also a bunch of them that put a bad taste in other people’s mouths. Here’s what I mean by that. After getting home my daughter and I went for a bike ride to the park on her new KHS Hot Rod. I ran across 3 fixie riders on the road, and guess what? They were polite, obeyed the rules and they stopped for the light. But because of the lime green fixie rider, I already expected the 3 fixie riders to behave just like the first rider…

This didn’t just happen with that lime green guy, but it has happened numerous times with other fixie rides that we come across in Fullerton or any other city in Orange County.

Now I’m wondering if fixie riders in other parts of the US behave the same way? Do they ride like idiots in your neighborhood?

Fixed Gear Friday: Heading South

It looks like the Fixie/SS trend is spreading South, but when I mean South I mean all the way down to Chile!

Here are a few blogs from Chile (note: blogs are in Spanish)that promote bike commuting:

Bicivilizate Great blog, lots of info about bikes around the world and they also do “commuter profiles”

Cliclismo Urbano This blog kind of resembles BikeCommuters; they have how tos, reviews, articles and answer questions regarding bike commuting.

Arriba’e la Chancha This blog focuses mostly on advocacy and is involved with the different politics of cycling, they kind of remind me of CICLE.ORG.

It is interesting to see that other countries face the same bike commuting challenges that we do, it is also interesting to see that they use the blogosphere to advocate bike commuting.