Weather improving, Leaves on the trees.

5 Mar

Like almost everyone in the northern hemisphere we have had our fill of winter weather. In South Texas we have very mild winters. A few overnight freezes each year is all we get. This year we had freezing rain and sleet a couple of times. Now it is March, our last freeze is historically March 1. I always look for the trees to start putting out leaves to know spring is here. It is said that the Mesquite tree is never wrong. If the Mesquite is putting out leaves then the last freeze is past. We had a shot of cold the last couple of nights but the weatherman is forecasting warming next week. This means it’s time to move the pants out of the garage and to get on the bike again. If you have looked at my Strava (JeffBike) you will see I have gotten a few little rides in. Saturday afternoon I spent some time getting bikes ready for the season. Just the usual stuff like fixing flats, juicing MtBike tires with Stans, adjusting gears and breaks. It is a nice way to spend a couple of hours tinkering in the garage. For those who live up north (any thing north of Austin) this is your wake up call to start thinking about riding plans, getting your bikes ready and like me time to start shedding winter fat like our winter clothes.

Lunch Time Walk

20 Feb

I have started to walk about 20 minutes at lunch. It’s a quick 10 minutes to a Bar-B-Q restaurant a few blocks from the office. I like it because the food is decent and a reasonable price.
Lunch Salad
As you see it is not just Bar-B-Q.
I do enjoy good food so you may notice this dinner the other night.
photo Salmon Dinner
A good friend made the fantastic Salmon dinner. I think a nice bottle of wine should go with dinner. I submit Duckhorn
This Duckhorn is very nice and very cost effective.

Eat smart, ride (walk) more and enjoy friends, live life fully.

Tour de Cure 2014

7 Feb

Today begins the 2014 Tour de Cure fund raising drive. Three of the last four years I have had the privilege to help this cause and to ride the tour each year. We are going for it again! So if any of you are going to be in South Texas on May 10, 2014. Please JOIN the Tour de Cure. If you’re not a cyclist that’s OK also. You can join the fight by sponsoring my ride. If each person donates $10 or more we can reach or exceed the goal quickly. Any amount will help and be greatly appreciated. If you will please follow the link below to the donation page. For those in or coming by the KM Builders office you can make a check or cash donation if you don’t want to use a card online.

Many of you my friends have supported this ride in years past and I want to thank you once again for that. It is a new opportunity to do a little good. Please support my efforts and give generously. Thank you for taking the time and putting forward your donations to demonstrate how you care for others.

Back in the Saddle again.

13 Jan

When I have been off the bike for a while I find it almost thrilling to get back in the saddle again. I did my regular riding through October until November 2, 2013. Then I went to Boston to see my son then to Oregon to visit friends. After this the weather and shorter days have kept me off the bike. I only got one ride in December on the 2nd. Yes I admit it I am a fair weather rider. I finally got a nice afternoon January 9th and could take some time before it got dark to get a little ride in. It was great! The weather was very pleasantly in the low 60’. I meet up with Gary my riding buddy and we were able to lay down a few miles before it got dark. Right after we got started, when I only had about 2 miles in to get warmed up, he sprinted out hard. Gary laid down a sprint challenge that I couldn’t resist. I have been known to be a bit competitive. I went down to the drops and visualized myself as Mark Cavendish. It was a short lived sprint. It was not about the distance it was all about the intensity, the assault on pure speed. I flicked up thru the gears. I dug deep for power in each peddle stroke. I was gaining on him with each yard covered. Speed jumping up from about 13 or 14 mph to a max of 28.9 mph. I edged past him, pulling out a wheel on him. Then he knew it was over, he was not going to catch me. When my back wheel passed he quit and sat up.
When I saw I alone I backed off to 18 or 19 mph. Gary soon caught up and we continued our friendly afternoon ride. We settled down to a nice easy 15 to 17 mph pace. We can hold this pace comfortably and carry on a conversation. We spent the next 11 or 12 miles catching up with each other. We talked about what we had been doing in the last few weeks since we had not been riding. Generally visiting as good friends should. This is what my bike riding is really about. Spending some time with a good friend, getting some exercise and enjoying the outdoors.
When we got around our route to get back to his car I dropped him off and headed home myself. From the drop off point back to my house is another 7 miles. The sun was getting very low very quickly. With the sun setting the temperature was dropping. It was in to the high 50’. This is not bad but I was in bib shorts and a short sleeve summer weight jersey. I tried to push the pace a little so I would be home before it got too dark.
I was getting cool, not yet cold. I knew when the sun dropped I was going to get cold right away. As I pushed toward home the legs began to feel heavy. I knew right then that it was the effect of not riding. Only one ride in 10 weeks is not keeping in shape. My weight is up by about 9 or 10 pounds since August. So all this comes together. I humped it on home, making it just as it is getting dark. Well just after dark. As a kid we judged that it was time to go in the house when the street lights came on. That was how we judged that it was officially dark. As I turn on to the last block I noticed the street light was on. It was not the dim flickering light of when they first come on but it was the strong light like it had been on some time.
By the time I got in the house I was chilled cold. Not the frozen you get when the weather is really cold. It was the bone chill of that cool damp feeling. Heading in for a hot shower that I knew would feel so fine. Stripping off my damp jersey and shorts I could tell the skin on my legs and arms was cold to the touch. In almost 23 miles I had drank less than ½ of a bottle of water. On a hot day I would likely do 3 or maybe 4 bottles in that distance. Here in south Texas it can easily be over a hundred degrees and humid on top of that. This day when I parked it the temperature was down to about 55’.
With the exertion after not having ridden in a long time, carrying too much body weight, not having warmed up, the cold coming back and I failed to stretch after my ride. Later that night you know what happened. My lower back seized up. The muscles went in to a spasm. Now I hurt so bad I can hardly move. If I sit for a time I can’t get up or walk. I’m currently looking for an opportunity to get another ride in to work this stiffness out.

Cycle then Recycle

13 Dec

It has come to my attention that all carbon fiber bikes have a flaw. They are wonderfully light and stiff. They are comfortable and fast. They don’t even rust or corrode when they get wet. They look cool with the smooth shapes and they make little sounds that remind you they are carbon. In short they are very well designed and professionally built to the highest standards thus they are a marvelous work of engineering and art. I want one so bad! Can you tell?

The issue I have with carbon fiber bicycle frames is they have a limited lifespan. True that lifespan may be fairly long if the bike is ridden well within the original design limits and never crashed. Eventually like every bike, even the high end supper bikes will come to the end of the service life. It may be of no fault of the owner. Newer better models eclipse the older ones making them obsolete. Old bikes get handed down to new riders and find life extension this way. But all bikes have an end of lifespan at some point.

What happens to old bike frames? Old steel, aluminum and titanium can all be recycled more or less. That’s not so easy with a carbon fiber product. Used carbon fiber has little or no value as a recycled product. With no intrinsic value there is little or no impetus to recycle it. There are few uses for recycled carbon fiber because it is a specific use product. It is made to do one thing and it dose that very well, but when it is recycled it loses its biggest advantage. Its high strength to weight ratio is lost. What happens to them? Most will likely find their way to some over filled land fill dump. This adds just one more piece of junk to the mountain of waste.

Have you ever noticed that almost nothing carbon fiber for consumer use is produced in this country? Yes some very fine high end items are produced but few of those are consumer products. Like most industrially advanced countries they have advanced environmental laws. These strict laws and guidelines control the production of potentially hazardous by-products and waste products. These laws add significant expense to the cost of a product. Parts for the aero-space or motorsports can be priced to account for these cost increases. Products for which the consumer is paying the price it is a global price war and the all mighty dollar rules.

Carbon fiber is a composite of various chemical compounds as a plastic resin that is combined with carbon or graphite fibers to form a ridged structure. The production of the end product may generate a significant waste stream and some of it could be very hazardous. Yes it is up to the manufacturer to run a clean and efficient operation. It is up to governments and the agencies they create to make sure that the waste and by-products are reused or disposed of in an ecologically responsible way. All manufactured products have the potential to generate a hazardous waste stream. It is up to the end user to decide “Do I really need a carbon fiber product? Do I feel that the benefits outweigh the negatives? Do I think another product may be a more responsible choice?” We as consumers have the final say in the use of carbon fiber in our products. We decide what the manufacture will build by what we buy. They won’t build it if nobody is buying it.
This has been an exercise in considering the pros and cons of the use of carbon fiber in bicycles. This was for me to help me think thru the logic of being responsible as balanced by desire. You and I are likely to take different views on such things. As for me I think yes to consumer products of carbon fiber. In all honesty I want a carbon fiber bike frame. I must in the interest of full disclosure (even though I’m not required to by anyone and it my blog so I can say what I want) I admit I have carbon fiber wheels, handle bars, fork and seat post on my road bike. If I get a good used carbon fiber frame then at least I will be extending the service life as long as possible. I hope that counts as being responsible and not just that I’m cheap.

The voice of complacency

10 Dec

We all have heard the voice of complacency. It’s that little whisper in the back of your head. The one that says “you rode hard just the other day (even if it was two weeks ago) take it easy”. It might say “It’s too cold to ride today”, “oh it’s raining today”, or “you’ve had a hard day, take a rest day”. It is a nagging voice that can drag us down. It tells us all the things we want to hear. I’ll bet we all recognize that voice. It sounds like our own voice but it’s not us. We are the hard ones, the tough ones, we are cyclist!
Since we all hear this voice at times how do we deal with it? Some have the self determination to rise above the voice. They can turn a deaf ear to the voice. Not all of us can. We need to find coping methods. For the strong it may be having a schedule is enough to keep getting us to not listen to the voice. For me I need a bit more help to keep getting me to ride on those days.
I have found a secret weapon against the voice of complacency. This is Gary, (imagine a guy very slim but not skinny, very fit with grey hair and 65 years old) he is my riding buddy. Gray always rides. Anything short of flooding or ice he will be looking for me every week. Having someone expecting you is a great weapon against “the voice”. Knowing that if you don’t show up, he will call to see if you died (that is only a viable excuse if you have a doctor’s note). If you call him to try to beg off you will have to give an explanation. It better be a good one. I’m tired or its cold are not acceptable excuses.
Gary is a strong rider. He rides three days a week. He is almost always faster than me. I have to work hard just to keep up when he is out front. When I’m on the front he can rest.
Gary is retired but he has a busy and full life. He now gets to set his own schedule so he plans on his rides and things just almost never get in the way. Having someone who is expecting you is a great motivator. I recommend finding a ride buddy like I have. Then you can be the motivator for them just as they are for you.

Tech Review by RJ

16 Sep

Today we introduce a new item to our blog posting. A good friend of mine has agreed to write some tech blog stuff. He is a bike wrench and avid rider. He rides a lot of MtBike and some road. He is always fast and he likes the tech side of our toys. He goes by the handle RJ. So with no further ado.

Race Face released their new N/W single rings to their portfolio of bike bling about two months ago. This revelation spawned a vast amount of drool for many in the biking community. Race Face has recently been known to give a biker the ability to color coordinate one’s bike to his or her own style, and their new ring lineup is no exception. Coming in with a variety of sizes and colors, all a rider needs to do is decide which is more aesthetically pleasing for one’s self. However, the question remains to be asked, “Does it really work any better?”
The best answer is dependent on your own riding discipline, but I will dwell on what we have found here in the lab. But first a little history. Not too long ago, SRAM released their XX1 crankring design that featured an alternating thickness and a taller tooth profile. This concept, when match with a clutched rear derailleur, eliminated a need for most riders to ditch their guides and front shifting group. The setup works well, but with a cost resulting in wallet weight loss. To enter the market of a 1x and guideless drivetrain, a few companies starting releasing their N/W single ring profiles.

NarrowWide Ring

Now with the history out of the way, on to the good stuff! Race Face did a wonderful job, as usual, with their new ring lineup. The graphics are laser etched on and look spectacular. If the graphics are not your thing, you can reverse the ring for a simple look. The construction is done in such a weight that the 7075-T6 is not only extremely tough, but also attractive and lightweight. My 34T came in at 43 grams, that is 11 grams lighter than the XT 32T ring from my M780. Their available sizes are evenly spaced from 30T to 38T, if you have the legs of Weir that is. A direct mount ring for RF cranks goes as small as 26T though.
I have to admit; it feels weird to ride without a guide or tensioner in some way. The performance makes up for any awkwardness as soon as you hit the bumps. I have plowed into rock gardens, smashed my way down root-infested ravines, and even some nasty creek washouts without a single drop of the chain. The concept of the narrow and wide tooth profile works well at cinching the chain down. The fun part is that I am not even running a clutched rear mech! The bottom line is that the Narrow/Wide profile rings are a great alternative and Race Face did a wonderful job designing theirs.

Check back in as we have more reviews from The Lab – RJ


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