Ride Crappy Roads, Keep ‘Cross Spirit

Cyclocross season is short. When the leaves start to change colors (here in Houston they go from green to insta-dead brown) many bicycle racers put on their 3/4 length knickers and race their knobby shodden road bikes through muddy, mucky slop and get insanely dirty, much to the amusement of spectators.

There’s beer too. Did I mention that?

West End Bicycle Gallery, close to the mountain biking trails at memorial park, has been taking a few of the dedicated dirt lovers on a periodic ride which embodies the spirit of cross. The “Crappy Road Ride” rolls onto some of the rockiest roads inside the city, with plenty of quick 90 degree turns and curb hopping, and even an included stair run-up. If you wanted to try your hand at cross, but aren’t quite ready to throw down and pin numbers on your jersey (or to your skin, cos ‘crossers are TOUGH. Rawr!) this ride should give you a taste of the flavor, hold the puking please (race cross just once and you’ll know what I mean. No pre-race burritos.)

If you’re going to come along, bring a mountain bike, or cyclocross bike preferably. I just finished riding the course on my GIANT XTC 29’er and had an absolute blast. I kept the FOX fork on full lock for that nice bumpy gravel massage.

Follow the ride on facebook.

-Photos by Blaine Grove

Pedro’s Trixie Tool Review

The Pedro's Trixie tool.
The Pedro's Trixie tool.

Sometimes you need a bit of change in your life.  It might be when you’re 50 and you’re tired of your wife and kids so you go out and buy a Mercedes CL550, get a spray on tan and find some 20 year old girl to be your new mistress.  Or it might just be when you’re tired of spinning you’re legs to pieces because you thought it would be fantastic to pair a 20t cog with a 42t chain ring.

Fortunately for me the latter was the case as I had a set of deep Vs with a cog that didn’t quite fit my needs. A few hours later I was walking out of Houston Fixed Gear with a the Pedro’s Trixie and a new track cog.

Pedro's Trixie Opening a Bottle of Saint Arnolds.
Pedro's Trixie Opening a Bottle of Saint Arnolds.

Pedros’s describes the Trixie as the “ultimate urban survival tool.”  It comes with two wingnuts to screw the tool into your bottle cage holders, a lockring tool, 8,9,10mm box end wrenches on the interior of the tool with a 15 box end wrench on the bottom, a hole to create a chain whip, a 5mm hex key and of course a bottle opener.

The tool is nice a sturdy and the lockring works just as I’d expect any lockring tool to function.  In fact it works a whole hell of a lot better than the hammer x screwdriver collabo I had used to put the first lockring on. Using the Trixie as a chain whip is a tad bit difficult and some grooving on the anterior of the tool would have made things much easier. The 5mm hex key is just the right length to tighten and release the majority of components on any bike, but a 4mm and 6mm would have been nice too.   My biggest beef with this tool believe it or not is the bottle opener as it doesn’t quite have enough lip to properly grab the cap of your standard beer bottle.

Overall the tool is great value and would certainly find its way into my bag if I were headed to the velodrome on a regular basis; however for day to day riding I’ll stick to keeping a Park rescue tool in my seat bag and keep using my bottle cage bosses for holding bottle cages.    You can view more pictures of the Pedro’s Trixie tool in action in the gallery below.

The Fred Dilemma: Cyclists love shiny things

"Fred Oswald, who commutes by bicycle...said he has no trouble sharing the road with vehicles" BECAUSE HE IS CLEARLY VISIBLE FROM OUTER SPACE (via Cleveland.com)

Companies convince us that we continually need to buy the latest product. It’s essential to them to convince  us that whatever amazing product they came out with last year is now obsolete and useless and that what you really need is their newest product.

We all know that guy. You might BE that guy for your group of friends, while simultaneously knowing a handful of those guys who are WAY MORE “that guy” than you are and thus justifying your being a total consumer whore.

In the world of cycling, there is a term, “Fred,” for “that guy” who seems to be more obsessed with bike gadgets than he is about riding his bike. I’m here with a confession: I am, kind of, totally, “that guy.” I’m obsessed with the latest gadgets. I want them, despite never being able to afford them, and am absolutely in love with them. Wikipedia has this to say about us:

“Recently, particularly in the US, a Fred is more often somebody with higher quality and more expensive gear than his or her talent would warrant. For example, a Fred could be guy with little cycling experience who watches the highlights of a few Tour de France stages, then goes to a bike store and buys a Trek carbon fiber Madone in Team Discovery colors, along with Team Discovery shorts and jersey, and then rides it on a cycling path at 15 mph (25 km/h)”

-via Wikipedia

While, a year ago, I was touting the superiority of a mechanical system such as the new Campagnolo 11-speed Super Record, I am now obsessing over electronic shifting from the new Di2 Dura-Ace. These days, I’m eagerly tracking the development of this system for those of us who crave a bit more mud in our diet: Electronic shifting XTR. It’s coming, and it’s going to be awesome. You are all going to hate it, just like you hated Di2, and then you will love it because it will win you over once it trickles down into the affordable spectrum, which for a true Fred is just below the price level of “I just won the lottery and am buying one of everything Seven makes.”

steampunk bicycle
via polyvore

It seems like an obsession with gadget over substance is truly taking over the sport. On one hand I’m glad because someone has to spend a lot of money to make cycling look “cool” and “cutting edge” when all you’re really doing is getting yourself around town on a machine that has existed since the early 1800′s and remains unchanged from the “safety bicycle” introduced in the 1900’s. All I ask is we bring back a few other cool things from the 19th century and dump a little money into making those look cutting edge: steampunk fashion, for example. (I’m eagerly awaiting my velo-mounted blunderbuss from you, Rivendell.)

Is the constant flow of new technology helping cycling reach mainstream? For me, I see a lot of guys who used to obsess over getting more HP out of their honda civic starting to get pulled into cycling. Anyone willing to dump $15k into a honda civic obviously has money to add to the growing industry, so maybe it’s good for us as a whole.

Then again, these are the same guys who made honda civics one of the top stolen cars in the US, so hopefully that new lock I just bought is good enough to stave off prying hands.

If you can’t beat ’em join ’em. I’ll be outside fiddling with my Garmin 305 GPS, wearing my Catlike Whisper and trying out that new flavor of accelerade hydro in my Rapha t-shirt. See you guys in my helmet mounted mirror!

(Feel free to use the comments to make extreme fun of me. I deserve it because I was recently crushed by a group of men in their 50’s on steel frames and one on a Cannondale Lefty MTB while I was on my full “crabon” Tarmac with Reynolds wheels. It’s not my fault, my normal wheels had a flat. I swear.)