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CIRCULUS : Ridin’ in Circles

In early 2010, Portland Design Works purchased one of the most interesting installations from a Pomona College student in Southern California… CIRCULUS.

What is CIRCULUS?
Circulus is a 143 foot diameter, 45 degree banked, wooden mini-velodrome. When standing in the ‘in field’ of the track, it almost feels like you are standing in an enormous wooden salad bowl!

The track is currently housed within PDW’s Portland, Oregon warehouse – The Mothership. One if the perks of living in the fine city of Portland is I’ve had the opportunity to ride on Circulus. It is AMAZING!

This last Saturday evening, PDW & Yakima Products had an open invite for head to head racing on the track!
Flyer

wide angle

PDW’s man in the field, Kevin “MURPH” Murphy came by the shop week ago to drop off the event flyer (shown above).

There was some discussion on what bikes were to be used for the event. The main concern was rider and spectator safety. If the bikes were geared too high, riders would be able to reach the top of the track too easily and chance launching off the track and out into the spectator area. If the bikes were geared too low, proper speeds would not be reached to keep the riders on the steep, 45 degree bank.

Upon arriving to the venue on Saturday night I was delighted to see bikes that had decent gearing and were low to the ground, in the off chance that if riders had to bail or crash, the fall would not be very bad.

The rigs

Open riding for the evening began at 6:30pm and racing began promptly at 8pm. The racing was MC’d by none other than Stevil Kinevil. Being a single elimination race, it was all or nothing for the racers. This was a pursuit style race. The race began with each competitor begining at opposite sides of the track from a dead stop on the infield floor. Each racer had to be up on the 45 degree banked track within 1/2 a lap. The object of the race was to complete 4 laps before your opponent or to catch the opposing racer in 4 laps or less.
Brackets
Mens final 2
womens semi

Although adult refreshements were available from Hopworks Urban Brewery, racers were not allowed to drink them until AFTER their heat was completed, as this was a single elimination race format. If you were fortunate enough to advance, you were unfortunate enough to have to wait to enjoy a cold beer!

Having previous saddle time on Circulus, I gave it a go… Race testing the DZR District shoes.
DZR Test run

My wife raced the women’s event (yellow bike):

(Youtube video courtesy of Jonathan Maus/www.bikeportland.org)
Here is JMaus in action!
JMaus

Here is video of the men’s final:

(Youtube video courtesy of nanobikerdotcom)

Music was thumping throughout the night courtesy of the always amazing DJ Amanda Sundvor
DJ Amanda Sundvor

The racing ended for the evening with two of the haunches at PDW, Erik and Murph going…. Beak to Beak??
Erik n Murph
two chickens

A big THANKS to the fine folks at PDW – Daniel “DPow” Powell, Erik Olson & Kevin “Murph” Murphy & Yakima for putting on a fantastic, fun filled event!

A special thanks goes to Mr. Dave Roth for allowing the use of his photographs of the event. You can view the entire evening captured in pixels here at http://www.dmroth.com/cycling/circulus/index2.html

New Year…New Goals?

We hope the new year finds you well — and once again we’d like to thank all of our sponsors for helping us keep Bikecommuters.com running and to thank our many readers; for without you, this place would be no fun at all! We appreciate the many comments, emails and other feedback both here and on our Facebook fan page. Thanks for keeping us engaged, offering your own insights into bike commuting, submitting your commuter profiles and for generally just keeping us honest!

We’ve got some great things coming up in 2011…perhaps some new site features, maybe a new look to the site (I’m being intentionally vague as I don’t want to give away any surprises; you’ll just have to keep tuning in to see what’s in store). We’ve got a new “Karate Kid” in the form of Vince Rodarte and we’re very excited about that — he should have some great stuff up in the coming months. On a personal note, my family is preparing for a physical change of venue…and if things go the way the historical weather record for the new area says they should, I’ll be commuting in the SNOW for the first time in 20+ years.

Now that the new year is here, we’re curious: do any of you set goals for the year? Any New Year’s resolutions you want to share? I generally don’t do this — I subscribe to the Alexander Pope school of thought: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” Anyhow, if you’re up to it, we’d love to hear about any goals, milestones or resolutions you aim to conquer in 2011. Just drop ’em in the comment area.

New Blood at Bikecommuters.com

Meet our newest writer here at Bikecommuters.com, Vince Rodarte. We’ve known Vince for a few years and we’re VERY excited he’s joining us…he has a lot of practical hands-on knowledge to share and I think he’ll make a great addition to our team. Check him out:

Staffer Profile:

(image courtesy of  ‘THE MOE’)

Name: Vince Rodarte

Age: 35

Weight: 215lbs

About me: Husband and Father, Bike Junkie, Bike Industry Lifer. I’ve worked in shops, in bicycle manufacturing shops, I’ve done some CAD for bicycles, I’ve wrenched on them for years, I’ve worked for an international manufacturer/distributor as an adult-day care supervisor, I’ve worked for regional sporting goods chain stores, I’ve worked for national chain bicycle stores… You name it, I’ve probably done it…. relating to bicycles, that is.

Riding Style(s): I am a reformed mtn bike racer. I love the simplicity of a single gear. Fixed or freewheeling, one gear is all you need. I can mash a gear to death or gingerly spin a comfortable 110 rpm pace.

Good Day! My name is Vince Rodarte and I am the newest pedal spinner on the Bikecommuters.com staff.

I began bicycle commuting when I got my first bike shop job in 1993 at Hacienda Bikes in Hacienda Heights, CA. Every shop I worked at since then, I have ridden to. My furthest one-way commute was to Rancho Cucamonga, CA (42 miles).
These days I am commuting to work at The Missing Link Bicycle Shop in beautiful NE Portland, Oregon.

My commute is a whopping  .8 miles from door to door, but I run all of my errands by bicycle. I even rode out to the local Target store to finish my Christmas shopping and carried back a load which was too big for my Timbuk2 bag… in the rain!

I do own a car, but don’t drive it very much. It likes to play school bus for my 3 kids (when they aren’t riding their bikes to and from school!)

My current ‘whip’ is this incognito Trek MultiTrack 730 that I have modified to my style…

Rise bars & Shifters : REMOVED / Replaced with Cinelli 42cm drops

Front & Rear Derailleurs: REMOVED

Chain rings: REMOVED

I removed the high-rise bars and mounted my trusty drop bars .

For lighting I am using a ‘mature’ Sigma Mirage EVO w/ a NiCad battery.

There is also a small TORCH flasher (sample from Taiwan from a previous life) on the bar that I use for all-the-time visibility.

I run the proven Planet Bike SuperFlash tail light.

***I am a FIRM believer in running your flashing head/tail lights at all times. The more visible you are the better***

Shown here is my modified front chainring setup. I removed the stock 44/32/22 chainring assortment and mounted an ENVE Alloy Bash Guard w/ matching ENVE 34 tooth 104 BCD ring.

I removed the 7 speed cassette and in its place I am running a ‘prototype’ Q2 Carbon Single Speed Cassette Spacer Kit with a 15 tooth cog. Notice the lack of any chain tensioner… I was able to cut my chain to the perfect length and not have to use a half-link with my selected gearing paired with the 17? chainstay.

It’s been pretty good so far, but I’ll see how my longer rides do with that gearing.

When I got this bike, it had some badly dry-rotted Bontrager hybrid tires on it.

I popped for the Hutchinson CrossTown in a 700c x 37 size.

I decided to try a tire with Hutchinson’s Protect’Air for my flat-proofing… We’ll see how they hold up!

As you might have noticed, this is a bit of an urban cyclocross bike. My goal is to try a few ‘cross races on this sled. It jumps great and has some good snap from a dead stop.

At my current weight of 215 lbs, I will be putting this bike through some serious stress testing.

As a Bikecommuters.com staffer, I plan on putting the same effort into testing and reviewing products for you, the readers!