HighFlange does Rocky Hill Ranch

Last weekend we hit the road and ran for the hills. Rocky Hill Ranch is a private Ranch located an hour from Austin, TX. The course is long and the location hosts many races including an off road duathlon and a dedicated MTB race yearly.
To clue you all in as to how it went: it was muddy. Texas may have the “advantage” of never having a real winter (I think it was a balmy humid 75 today, and felt more like 90 with the humidity and steam rising off the pavement. The skies, however, were still drab gray.) We tend to have wet winters, and the soil here loves to hold water.
A good mountainbiker leaves the trail untouched, so this means you have to be extra careful about when you bike. There are plenty of spots where we had to slow or take a less than optimal line, and also many spots where the inclement weather forced us to all pitch in together and clear the trail of downed trees.

At the end of the day we ended up losing our lone 29’er (and singlespeed) rider James “TJ” Nguyen to an injury. We kindly led him to the fire road and pointed him home, hoping the coyotes wouldn’t make him their dinner.
We did, however, order him a pizza and some beer at the camp site’s bar when he finally made it back in one piece.

Rubber down: you can see the red clay TX soil baked into our wheels. I think my headset is so full of crud from fording several streams (without putting a foot down!) that the handlebars won’t move from side to side. Time for a post ride tear-down. Lubrication isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life. (That’s what she said?)

Cycling 2.0: The lengths we go through to be lazy?

M.I.T introduced this clever little gadget in Copenhagen touting it as the next big thing in cycling. Allegedly the functioning of the unit is to store kinetic energy from braking and allow you to release it later in a “burst of speed.” You might remember a similar idea being utilized in Formula One car racing.

Aside from the devices function sounding cool, I always thought the beauty of cycling was in the simplicity of the invention. M.I.T however, seems to disagree. I do appreciate that they seem to have put their device on a hipster friendly “track” bike (“tarck” is more appropriate) and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it is available in every color scheme to match your Velocity Deep V or B43 wheelset.

Is this invention going to be as prominent as indexed shifting(where your shifter clicks with each gear change),which was met with some resistance, and even today some still prefer friction shifting, or will this invention go the way of  the recumbent bicycle, once said to be the next evolution, but shrank to now a small eccentric niche of the cycling world. (sorry, bent riders, don’t get too “bent” out of shape on this one!)

My take on it is that anything that takes away from the simplicity of cycling or has a complex operating method will detract people away from it. I have non cycling friends who are afraid to ride a bike with multiple gears, and cannot comprehend when or  how to know the “right” gear. I think this would only make matters worse and end up with people pressing the boost button right into intersection traffic.

However, my message to M.I.T is this: If you make it in lots of pretty fluorescent colors, they will buy it. Well, at least this guy will (and probably also press the boost button right into oncoming traffic)

original article and photo sourced from Gizmodo

Urban Climbing Practice

Not all of us have the luxury of living in a great, hilly, and scenic place like Dripping Springs, TX (home of Lance Armstrong and some nasty hills he is famous for training on). When your home is an urban environment, and you want to get out and practice your climbing you have very few options.

A riding partner recently said that on their trip to California, it was easy to spot the Texans in the pack , as they gasped for air and fell to the rear once the roads turned slightly steep. Climbing requires a constant power output maintained over a long period of time. When you can’t find a real hill, or simply don’t have the time to drive a few hours just to ride your bike, you can always go parking garage poaching.

The first rule of parking garage poaching is don’t get caught. It’s beneficial to also not tell everyone about your favorite spots, although ask your local longboarder because they tend to know some good spots in the city if they are willing to share.

The ideal garage has a constant grade upwards. You want to find one that lets you climb for at least a solid minute or two, and has very few if any flat sections so that you don’t get to take a break. Every city has these, however getting in is always trouble. We, here at highflange, have found the best luck with riding in dodgy places when we dress and act like we belong there, and treat the property with respect. That means no throwing your water bottle or helmet, like you saw Marco Pantani do in “Le Tour,” despite the incredible temptation to do so, along with the feeling you get when you imagine that you are climbing the alps, and every passing car starts looking increasingly like mountain goats staring back at you.

It’s also a great ride when the weather turns sour. Rubber down. Ride hard. Bring a puke bucket.


Christmas Shopping for a cyclist

The holiday season is a time of year in which we all hit the shopping malls and internet retailers in search of gifts for the people close to us in our life. Most people are easy to shop for: Jewelry for the wife/girlfriend, a new video game or console for the kids, a bottle of fine wine or microbrew beer for your friends…

Cyclists are another story. Many of them don’t drink, although most bike shops readily accept microbrews as tips.( Make sure you regularly bring your local mechanic beer or some microbrew cola or root beer! I recommend St. Arnold as they are local to our hometown of Houston, TX!) A lot of them are healthy eaters and will curse you for that batch of cookies or pie you baked: the offseason is torture for racers, as the dwindling daylight and high calorie foods mean that not only do we not burn as many calories, but everything we used to be able to cheat and eat suddenly goes right to the growing inner tubes around our waist.

With this in mind I might suggest two things to buy the bicycling individuals in your life: socks and coffee. Cycling requires specific socks. I have a great number of regular socks with odd holes worn in them from my SIDI bike shoes. Cycling socks are generally better at holding up to the strange strain, and they have all kinds of great things written on them. I am personally a fan of the socks from http://www.sockguy.com

Coffee is another great gift. Waking up early is as much a part of cycling as cleaning your chain! And since cycling is inherently seen as a very “European” sport, nothing goes better than some fine coffee or espresso beans! I highly suggest some beans from Portland Oregon’s Stumptown Coffee: http://www.stumptowncoffee.com/

Portland is a hub of bicycle culture and cycling infrastructure, and it’s no coincidence that they have no shortage of fine coffee and places to drink it.

So, when you are out there in the shopping malls and surfing the net for deals in the wearable blanket your mom bought you last year (note: nobody here at HighFlange endorses the inherently evil wearable blanket whose name rhymes with schmuggie.) consider these items for the cyclists in your life.

Houston, We have a (bike) problem: Highflange

The cycling scene depends upon a few key community organizers. If only these few people really knew how crucial they were to the fate of the cycling hobby in the city. Still, each of these organizers represent different disciplines in cycling: Road, Track, Mountain, Fixed, BMX. They are often unknown outside of their discipline and area of expertise. To a Mountain rider, the Road racing star is just another leg shaver in spandex. To the Roadie, the Fixed gear freestyle master, featured in videos internationally is just another kid with technicolor wheels and no helmet.

Stop. Wait. Step back for a moment: Each of these riders is different, but to the outsider, they all together represent cycling. They are all members of a two-wheeling, human-powered collective. But to each member, they are practiced disciples of their trade, separated by canyons. Out of these islands, Highflange was born.

What is Highflange? A type of bicycle part. A hub. A device from which spokes are laced to the rim. Though each spoke laces far away from the opposite spoke at the edges of the flanges, and reaches even farther away to hold the rim, the fringe, they are all connected at the hub. Highflange will cover all aspects of bike life, starting from its birth city in Houston, TX and radiating outwards through collaboration efforts in the cycling community. We are all members of the same sport. We are all connected at the hub of bicycle life: High Flange.