Saturday, December 26, 2009

Grand Bois Cypres - follow up to the follow up

The initial experiences were wonderful, even with one puncture. I get goatheads ALL the times, so that wasn't a big deal, and even made me happy to find that was the culprit.

A while after that, and not so many more miles (my All-Rounder gets 75% of my miles) I found some "squiggles" on the rear tire. Looked like the tread was shifted instead of going straight. No biggy, must be a slight imperfection I never noticed.

I kept riding it, but then actually started to notice a hop in the rear wheel. I'm not that sensitive to squeaks, creaks and such, so it was kinda' a big deal. I get home and what do I see:
Grand Bois Cypres failure

Yikes! What the hell is that cancerous looking lump doing on my tire! Looks like it was going to pop any second and glad it didn't during the ride! The tire was distended maybe 3mm at the highest point, and another 3mm or so to the side. Like a big cyst on the tire. If you look at this photo, you can see where the tread was starting to separate and the tube is visible through the casing:
Grand Bois Cypres failure

In fact on removal the casing was severely splitting:
Grand Bois Cypres failure

Not good at all. I get hold of Jan @ Bicycle Quarterly and let him know. The tires have maybe 200 or so miles on them at this point and this just shouldn't be happening. He readily agrees and immediately tells me to send it to him and he'll get an exchange out to me as soon as their new shipment gets in. He was VERY cordial and easy to deal with and I'm VERY appreciate of him.

The Cypres are pricey tires. They are built to be high performance and make no bones about that. Like anything high performance they're built on the very narrow edge between lightweight and durability. In my opinion, Panaracer (the manufacturer) tries to make these too close to the performance side and ends up having some quality assurance issues.

I just went on a ride with these tires today and continue to love them. This was on a mixed terrain ride that is one of my normal rides.
bouncing along

I needed to post this experience with the tires not to undermine them or anything Jan is doing, but to further document my experience with them. My initial experience was so positive, and I'm sticking with these for the long-haul as they just feel so right for me. But I am going to be inspecting them a bit closer than I ever looked at a Pasela or a Roly Poly/Ruffy Tuffy tire. That's a bit of a negative, but within my skill set for bikes! If these give further problems, I'll report back!


Turns out I need a super-secrete part for a SRAM hub. Fine, whatever. I contact SRAM and find out if I can get one. No, I can't. It has to be ordered through my LBS. Fine, whatever. Lame but fine. This is the same LBS that gave me NO help to begin with which led me to contact SRAM myself. So I go to the LBS, provide them with the part # and phone # to SRAM. Ask them to please call and order me the part from the nice people at SRAM (they really were nice).

At the same time I order some generic bike parts. A new handlebar and a shifter that are available through QBP. You know, available anywhere sort of thing. I've already researched their availability and found them for X% cheaper at various internet sites. But no, I order there, happy to support a local business, families, etc. Quite the humanitarian I am.

A week goes by. I stop by the shop on a Friday after being told they should arrive that Thurs. Get their 10 min before shop opens so decide to ride around the neighborhood for a half hour. Get back @ 11:20 and shop still not open. Fine, whatever, I gotta' go pick up a kid at pre-school by noon so take off.

Then ride back that afternoon. They're open, but the guy there looks at me with blank eyes when I say what I'm there for. I go home.

So I wait a week and this time use the phone. Call up and get the owner. Conversation goes something like this:
Me: Have the parts arrived?
LBS: Well, no, must be Christmas and all.
Me: But I ordered them two weeks before Christmas.
LBS: Uhhhhm, yeah, check back next week.
Me: How about those small SRAM parts, did they arrive yet?
LBS: Ohhhh, those, I don't think I called yet.
Me: Could you maybe call right now?
LBS: No, I'm kinda' busy. I'll try next week.
Me: Sigh.

So now I'm waiting for bike parts I could have ordered elsewhere (for cheaper!) and have had them long before the Christmas holiday. I'm also relying on them to order a part I can't get myself.

And I have two weeks of holiday to put all this stuff together and see if I like it. Well now one week of that is gone and instead I'm writing smack anonymously on the internet.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Help Davey get this bike fixed!

No, not "fixed", but fixed! I found this GREAT little bike while out on a meandering ride a few weeks ago.
Roadside find
It was pretty well vandalized, with the lights and generator long gone, the fenders totally bent around, and the shifter long since broken. BUT it was in the cool 24" size which I love for smaller people and kids, it was a nicely put together steel step-through frame, and best of all, it had a Sachs (pre-SRAM) P5 internal geared hub! Worth my time to get back there and pick it up.

Best roadside find in a while.  Too bad it was destroyed by whoever stole it once upon a time.

So I get it home, and its really pretty rough, but seems like it is fixable. I stripped the fenders off and straightened the racks and misc. parts. Needs new cable but the brakes look serviceable. Front wheel is severely twisted, so that might need to be replaced if I can't bang it out. Looks good otherwise though! I see a sticker w/ Germanish words, so looks like it's for the German home market.

Original LBS that sold the bike???

How it ended up here in The States, then vandalized and abandoned on a back road is beyond me. Anyway, everything is totally fixable except that hub. Looks like I can get a new shifter and click box, but I have no idea how to install it and/or service & repair the hub as necessary. It may be hard to believe, but my local LBSes (yes, more than one) pretty much don't want anything to do with this. Anyone out there in internet-land have any idea on what I can do or who I could send the wheel to for service??? I'd really like to get it running as it is a great little bike. My kiddos are almost able to fit it, so would be great for them to have (I love internal geared hubs for kids!).

What I presume to be a Sachs P5 IGH

Sachs P5 shifter

Sachs P5 click box

Update: I've had several SRAM bulletin links forwarded to me and it looks like the parts I need are all pretty straightforward common parts. Now, locating them anywhere in the States is the trick. It was suggested I get hold of retailers in the UK and Germany, but that's something I'd rather avoid unless I absolutely have to...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lake Shoe Company is amazing!

Really, what a great company! I mentioned below that I was worried about the buckles breaking/getting worn too much to use on my new shoes. That's the only concern I had about them, and figured I wanted to get a pair in reserve as the rest of the shoe should last a couple of decades. So I contacted Lake's customer service people/person through their website. I asked where I could get a pair of buckles. They replied asking for my address so they could send me a pair!!! They showed up today, less than a week later. I can't say enough how happy I am with this, it's just great!

How cool is this!!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Shoes for Poppa!

Really, I'm moving into the year 2009 with a bullet! Brand new SPD compatible shoes. Say it ain't so, Joe. I finally got tired of looking at the purple on my mid 90's Nike Ngubas. Good shoes that have lasted really well, but I never really loved them. Interior fabric was kind of creepy and I didn't like touching it. The laces always picked up tons of foxtails and assorted stickers along the trails.

I searched long and hard among shoe label companies (all actually made at the same factory in China by very dexterous four year olds) to find just the right shoe. Had to have leather, full lugged bottom, and not cost $330. Looked at Sidi and they are plastic shoes with dainty little cleats that cost too much. AND I CAN'T STAND THEIR WEBSITE! Next came Diadora. I like their fit (have a road-ish pair already) and the price is right on their X-Country models. But made of plastic with the wimpy little cleats on the bottom. Shimanos looked too Shimano-ey. Finally came across the MX-190 from Lake. Leather? Check. Full lugged? Oh god, yes! Cheap? $79 on sale at Jenson usa. Score!

The only downside is that the toe is kind of narrow and pointy, so I had to go a size up (they come in 1/2 sizes, which is cool!) to get that area to be comfortable for me. That's normal for me in bike shoes except Diadora which is kind of wider in the toe box. The shoes have one of those fancy buckle thingies which looks like it'll break or get worn out pretty soon. I'm going to get some extra buckle parts to have on hand for when it inevitably breaks.

Lake MX-190

But take a look at that lugged sole! Full Vibram rubber sole. No problem wearing them on the hike a bike sections which come into play when I ride. The front end isn't as fully lugged as I'd like. They have those screw in cleat thingies but the fixed lugs are small and I can see they won't grab super well when climbing up a steep hill. Also the bolt tops there contact the ground when you walk, which isn't so good for traction. You can see where they're already getting polished from walking on them. I can deal.

Lake MX-190

So yeah, happy camper. Cool shoes and a real good experience w/ Jenson. They're an semi-close LBS for me, but also have a pretty good web presence. I bought two sizes not knowing which to get and had ZERO problems returning the unused shoes. Good deal!

Lake MX-190

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trail Bike

So y'all have heard the "Anybike, anywhere" mantra preached at many a church service. I won't try to convince you if you consider yourself a skeptic. Instead I will brag about my ride yesterday.

Seventeen miles, climbing up to the ridgeline south of Redlands. That's a bit of a boring climb, but pretty wide streets with low traffic and not steep. Just monotonous. Stopped at a garage sale for kicks. But then you summit and can drop into Oakmont Park and WOW, you have some good stuff available to you!

I usually do this ride in reverse, but decided to practice some climbing (hmmmm, any reason I need to get my legs in shape???).

My Rivendell All-Rounder climbed perfectly up the singletrack switchbacks.
Climbing Oakridge Trail

Really, just glided up the trail.

I was trying to stitch the three best trails in town together: Oakridge, Deer and Creekside/Coach. Success! You can see the map on Bikely.

Oakridge is flat but curvy with a steep drop off to the south:
Oakridge Trail

Deer Trail is really unknown and might be on private property. It is a "historical" trail in town though. The first part of it is where all the paint-ballers play their games. Some definite hike-a-bike sections that I couldn't ride, but didn't mind hopping off for at all!
Hike a bike section

That trail drops you down to San Timoteo Creek where you can pick up the western side of of the Creekside Trail. This incorporates portions of the Coach trail that was once the main route between Colton and the low desert used by the Earp brothers. It's probably my favorite route in town and I ride it maybe once a week. Again, usually in reverse though.
Lugged light

So about the bike thing. I put on fatter/knobbie tires (Ritchey Zed 700cX44mm). Coulda' done it with the usual Paselas, but why beat yourself up. The top tube is a bit high for hopping over when I was doing the hike-a-bike parts, but really the hardest part to clear was the saddle. I dinged it up a little bit with my shoes, but it will survive.

Seventeen miles in a bit under two hours. Speedy Gonzalez I am not, but a load of fun locally on a beautiful and comfortable bike is a good thing!!!
Rest stop on the ridge

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Wow, just wow. I hope you're all praying for my eternal soul, cuz' it just coughed up an atheist hairball. That's how religions start.

Read all the craziness over at

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mountain Bike Mania

So lets see... it's been a decade since I've actually rode as a mountain-biker. In the nineties, I spent a lot of time up in Big Bear riding the trails. I rode the pro-course up then Skyline, then bouncy-bouncy around all the singletrack. Downhill Bob was the guy a rode with. Cool guy that I wish I could keep up with!

Anyway, at one time, it was a lot of fun. Then life happens, and I don't really have time to go up anymore. Actually sold my beautiful Bridgestone MB-2 that I bought new.

I get the hankerin' for a bike ride today, but unfortunately it's 100F outside by the time I get around to leaving. Normally I don't like taking my bike for a drive in order to go riding, but today I had to get somewhere that was cooler. Hmmmmm, what's the weather like in Angelus Oaks, 45 min away? 83F. I think I know how to spend the afternoon!

I have only been here a couple times in the past, but remembered where to park and mostly how to get to the trailhead. But then the trail forked. Oh what the hell, lets go down. Good choice! Miles of singletrack ahead. I mean just zoom-zoom rolling downhill, wide switchbacks, smooth and fun.


Then it happened. I got lazy and slacked off. All the downhill lulled me into forgeteting about shifters and pedaling! I came on an abrupt up hill right after the trail has a minor washed out section. BIG rock wall to the right, kind of steep rocky drop off to the left. And me two chainrings to the right of where I should be. Stalled out and flopped over to the left. BAM! Right onto the rocks below. Luckily my brain said "Relax and roll with it" which I was able to do successfully. A couple barrel rolls later, popped out of the pedals (not used to SPDs either, which contributed) and there I was looking at the pretty blue sky.

Anything broken? No, I think I can move everything. How do I get out of these rocks... and what is this pretty green plant with the three leaves I'm laying in. Yep, poison oak. Oh goody, my bottles and phone slid down even further into it.

So five-ten minutes later, I'm collected, and finding the parts to my cool Avocet linear measuring guage, and notice that my bar-end shifter is totally yanked out of the bars.


I'm guessing I was gripping it so hard trying to downshift when I fell that I yanked it out with my superior human strength. Hmmmm, I have tools, but that would mean stopping and fiddilng around with them. I guess I'll just wrap it around my brake cables and go.
crash yanked the shifter right outta' the bar end.  too lazy to fix trailside so wrapped it up and kept on keepin' on

The rest of the ride was wonderful and uneventful (but a lot of annoying gnats that caused it to suck just a bit). Long climb out of the valley along Middle Control Rd. but I enjoy that part as well. Lots of cuts and contusions on the legs and back. A huge charley-horse on my quad where I think the bike landed on me. Minimal dings to the bike, just some scratched paint on the top tube a bit and a new gash on the side of the saddle. I'll fix the shifter tomorrow (needed to re-wrap that side of the bars anyway).

Lessons learned: Don't zone out while riding singletrack! Mountainbiking is a blast!

knobie dof

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly dose of reality...
Unfortunately, a must read.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Grand Bois Cypres follow up

First flat!
I haz a sad
But wait, there's more: It's not the tire's fault! It was from a goathead!!!!!!
I spy, with my little eye
For a primer on the foul devil-seed, go here:

I picked this one up while riding up Alessandro (goathead hill) where I pulled up 10 or 12 large plants last month. Lots of little buggars around there.

It was quite a relief to see that it was a goathead! I felt the tire going soft the last mile or so on the way home and was bummed, but flats close to home aren't that big a deal :-) Got the wheel off, pulled the tube, and found the cause.
the culprit
Nothing I want to ride withstands goatheads. Marathon XRs or Specialized Armadillos might be ok, but yikes, not fun at all to ride. Up to now, I've been riding on Panaracer/Rivendell Ruffy Tuffies, and those have had their share of goathead punctures. Pasela Tourguards do as well! I think the Col de la Vie 650b tires were the worst for me.

All that said, I have about 100 miles on the tires and am immensely happy with them. Have done maybe 20 of those miles on dirt, and no problems. As mentioned in the initial write up, the tires do great on dirt. The float over the loose sandy stuff pretty good, hold a line on singletrack, and best of all, really seem to give me more traction on technical climbing. On asphalt they role really quietly and seem to have incredibly low rolling resistance.

I think they're keepers!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grand Bois Cypres - Initial Impressions

upside down
To start, let's get this straight: My "handle" on the internets is just a play on words. I know it's not French. That's the point. Sort of like Mr. Sheldon Brown's "Derailer." You know what else isn't French? Grand Bois tires. They're from Japan and that's fine and good.

What also is kinda' a stretch of truthiness is the whole allusion to being a randonneur. 50 miles is about where I top a good ride out at. 30 is better. 70 can be done, but usually not very much enjoyment in it.

And did I mention that I'm pretty slow?

One of the things I am pretty good at is riding on trails on inappropriate bikes. Fire roads, double-track, Jeep-track, whatever you want to call it. I can mostly pick a good line and climb through the rutted stuff, and keep the front end from washing out on the downhills. Whenever I go for a ride, there is usually some dirt involved with it, and I love it.

Most of the time I ride Panaracer Paselas, either 32mm or more common now, 35mm. I also have a lot of miles on Rivendell Ruffy Tuffy tires. They're 28mm wide, last a long time, and are fairly puncture resistant. I've had problems with their tread cracking.

OK, so now you know where I'm coming from and my biases. Here's my quick-impression review of the 30mm wide Grand Bois Cypres: THEY'RE GREAT! Really, these tires just feel perfect. Nice and soft/supple, but plenty fast. Yes, that is anecdotal fast. They just seem that way and you can't tell me otherwise. Blissfully quiet, hardly any vibration transmitted, and they just roll, roll, roll down the street. That's kinda' the opposite of Ruffy Tuffies which have always felt kind of inert, and the Paselas are somewhere in the middle. Remember, this is anecdotal, just my impression of them.

So how 'bout their propensity that you've heard of to self-destruct due to a butterfly flapping it's wings in the Amazon? I purposely rode them on a fairly rutted, rocky-in-places and full-of- tumble-weed (no goat heads though) singletrack section to to find out how they would hold up.

If they couldn't handle that, what's the point, right? The verdict: see above (they're great!). They hold a line on the downhills, even on the center crown of rutted double track. Maintained traction on the few sections of technical climbing I did. Flew through the hard pack, whether uphill, downhill or level.
linear line lined up in a line
And they have that Ninja-silence to them on the asphalt. That has to translate into more efficiency over time. I won't turn that down in a product, but it wasn't the point in getting these tires. I wanted the fattest tire I could get that would fit my frame. 30mm actual is about it. The Cypres fit the bill and I'm quite happy with them right out of the gate. Remember, this was the first ride, and I haven't been out to the garage to see if I have any slow leaks from it. I'm hoping for the best, and hope these turn out to last a long time as I have to get my money out of them!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ban the helmet!

This is a great little essay by Adrian Short.
I wear a helmet about 50% of the time, knowing it could save my life, but also knowing a meteor could fall from the sky and squish me any moment as well.
It's all about the critical mass when it comes to bicycle safety. The Amsterdam/Copenhagen example of when everyone rides, everyone is safe. Someday when oil is $200/barrel we'll all get to know what that's like.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Missile

Well this sucks.

Missy G. is one of the few pro-athletes I've met, and she was sooooo cool. I was up in Big Bear at Snow Summit the week before some races, and she was just hanging out in the parking lot. Real nice and approachable. For the record, I did not smell any essence of the wacky-weed anywhere near her.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Caffeinated Wheelmen Association

How's that for cool!!! Just ordered three. Here's the story from the RBW list:

"Are you a member?

So here is the story...turning the "way-back" machine to about 1996,
some friends and I were sitting over coffee after a ride and started
to recount how many times we had done this. As it turned out, it was
apparent that not only had the vast majority of our rides (bike,
motorcycle, skateboard, snowboard...) started or ended over coffee,
but many of our good friends and riding partners were met at the cafes
we were frequenting. We had a pretty good network that spanned darn
near coast to coast. An "Association of Caffeinated Wheelmen" I
blurted out while simultaneously sketching out a logo on the

Fast forward to about 6 months ago, I was digging through some piles
of artwork looking for something, and stumbled on my original sketch.
All of the patches and hats we had originally done up were long
retired, lost, or given I got in touch with some of the
original ACW's and told them I was going to mint some lapel
pins...everyone chipped in to beat the minimums.

Our whole thing was very tongue in cheek, but we wanted it to have an
"old money-secret society-unleash the hounds" type of feel to it.
Anyway after finding the iBob's / ROB's and meeting so many awesome
people and reading about the network that exists between the riders, I
thought it would be cool to expand the ACW.

It's all for fun and conversation, and really just a bit of decoration
for the bags, hats etc...but wanted to offer them up. I have @ 20-30
or so left of the lapel pins, but we can do more if interest is there.
We were also contemplating doing up some patches too?

$6/pc shipped to you. Trades for your "club" pins is good too. For
that matter no interesting trade would be turned down. Drop me line
hbclick (at)
or just paypal me there with your info!

Stay thirsty my friends....for coffee. ;)"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Copehnagen City of Cyclists

I can see my little bitty town of Redlands becoming cycling friendly. There's no reason for it not to. Year round riding. No snow, not much rain (fenders/mudguards!). Yeah, it's hot in the summer, but it's cool during the morning commute time, and you can take a shower after your ride home.

Most of the town is flat, although there are a lot of homes in the hills. The 75% of the town in the flats has no excuse!

Copenhagen - City of Cyclists from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Look what the mailman brought.

No, not a Look 556 crabon bike, something even better:
Bagins Bags, Sacks for Cyclers

So how cool is that? Harry H. on the RBW list and flickr thought I needed a cloisonne magnet (which I do!) and sent me one.

Now the trifecta is complete!



Best April Fools yet!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March Rivendell Ride

Last Sunday was a blast! A small group met up in Oceanside and rode various portions of PCH, ended up in Dana Point for a turnaround. I was pretty sick earlier that week, but recovered enough to get out there for a portion of it. I met the group at the north end of old PCH, just above Trestles in San Clemente. Then rode through S.C., down to the pier, and along their WONDERFUL beach trail that goes up to North Beach. Dared to cross PCH into the sheltered bike lane which covers 90% of the way to the beach trail in Doheney State Beach.

Fun observations:
  • Jim Thill from Minneapolis thought the bike lanes out here were pretty cool. That's good to hear!
  • Doheney Beach staff are awesome. They had a marine mammal display out for folks to check out. Everyone liked it!
  • Rivendell Bicycle Works List people rock! Getting five people that live between San Diego and Santa Monica and Minneapolis is a bit of logistical nightmare, but soooooo worth it (carbon footprint excluded of course).
If you're in SoCal and interested, follow the Flickr group for future get togethers. Bikes, beer and pizza all in one place!