Continuing Lessons on Road Tubeless Tires

Orange Seal tire booger
Orange Seal tire ‘booger’ blocking a puncture

I recently got a flat tire on a road tubeless tire. How is that possible you say? I’d love to tell you it was because Jason slashed my tire with his chainsaw leaving me hapless by the side of the road. But it was much more mundane and humiliating. Whatever caused the puncture was rather small. I never did see it, only the tiny hole it caused. How come there wasn’t any sealant bubbling out and doing its thing? When I got home and took the tire off, I found the sealant was almost completely dried out!

I was initially puzzled—hadn’t I put Orange Seal in there just a few months ago? It turned out it was 14 months ago, which is an eternity when it comes to tire sealant. That’s one of the little maintenance tasks that go along with tubeless: put more sealant in your tires at regular intervals. But it’s also a task that is easy to forget, just as I did. In my case I had been checking at regular intervals when I first set the tires up, about every three months. At the time I was using Stan’s sealant, which is notorious for drying out in just a few months. But after a year the Stan’s was still there, and with confidence my diligence dropped off. I then switched to Orange Seal and checked my tires only once since then. I won’t make that mistake again.

I was fortunate in that I flatted just about a mile from home. I was able to get back to the house riding an almost flat rear tire (sealant also seems to help clincher tire beads bind to the rim). If I had been further away, I would have had to put in a tube. If the sealant were still working, it would have been an ugly mess to pull the tire off and put in a tube. On the other hand the hole was small enough that it surely would have sealed too. And by the way, did you know that tubeless tires tend to be hard to mount because they have tight beads? It’s enough hassle to try to get those Schwalbe tires on when I’m in the shop let alone by the side of the road. I’m not sure I could have gotten a tube in that tire without breaking a bunch of my finely manicured nails!

By the way this experience gave me an opportunity to check the inside of the tire to see how sealant works. Orange Seal consists of a liquid and lots of particles that flow to the puncture and clog it up. I was able to see two boogers inside the tire where apparently I had punctures that sealed. I made sure not to disturb them. It turns out the particles in Orange Seal are tiny little sparkly squares that look like metalic flakes. Whatever they are they seem to work very well at clogging holes.

Well, did I put more sealant in and mount the tire? Nope. I was going to but then I got Lesson Number Two: make sure you have a working air compressor. Air compressor, you say? Yep. Mounting a tubeless tire isn’t always possible with a regular bike pump. Sometimes it is but you don’t necessarily know ahead of time. It depends on the rim-tire combination. To seat the bead you often need a firm blast of air that literally blows the beads into place and create a seal. If you have a tube, the tube inflates and pushes the tire bead into place. But there isn’t a tube with tubeless tires. Nowadays you have three choices: air compressor, CO2 cartridge, or newfangled floor pumps with compressor tanks. CO2 is easy to get and cheap but has one problem: it causes tire sealant to coagulate. So you must do it in two steps: blow the beads into place and hope they stay there and then add sealant. Air compressors are the tool of choice but how many of you have the interest, need, or space for a shop air compressor? They’re moderately bulky and the cheap ones weigh about 40 lbs. They also make a lot of noise. If you’re a tool kind of guy/gal, then you probably already have an air compressor to drive your nail gun or air sprayer. But I’m guessing most of you wouldn’t know an air compressor from a tongue depressor. The third option is rather new. You can now get bicycle floor pumps that have a tank you inflate with the pump. Then you flip the switch to send the compressed air shooting into your tire. Genius. But they cost more than a cheap air compressor. Those floor pumps start around $125 and you can get a really cheap compressor for about $100 and it’s good for other things besides blowing your tubeless tires. But if you live in a SF apartment, the floor pump is definitely the way to go.

In my case I have an air compressor. But first I tried the floor pump because it’s worked before. No go—matter how I positioned the tire it didn’t want to inflate. Plan B was the air compressor. But when I turned it on, it was broken. Then I tried CO2 cartridges and after two failures I gave up and put a latex tube in the tire. I ordered a new compressor but I wasn’t going to wait for it to show up. So now I have a tubeless tire in front and a regular tubed tire in the back. I’m going to try this for a while. Right now I don’t notice a whole lot of difference in the ride. That’s not too surprising to me because latex tubes are very, very supple and give a Cadillac ride. But that brings up issues around maintaining latex tubes. But I’ll save that for another post!

Disc Brake Hype

Disc brake

If you are contemplating purchasing a road bike or you perhaps fervently peruse cycling magazines and websites for the latest bike porn, without doubt you have been exposed to a deluge of hype about road disc brakes. I’m here to disabuse you of the marketing drivel and share a real world user’s experience.

My experience with road disc brakes goes way back to 2003 long before road disc brakes were a thing. I met a Swiss cyclist from Zurich who had a custom Ericksen road bike with disc brakes, which at the time was a real rarity. I disparagingly asked him why he bothered with discs. He said, “It snows in Zurich and I ride year-round.” Oh. Made sense. If you’ve ever tried to brake in snow or sleet, you know how unreliable and scary it can be with rim brakes. Well, actually it’s scary regardless of the brake type but it’s especially scary with rim brakes. As I also commuted to work by bike, the idea was planted. In 2005 I got a cheap road bike that was EOLed by the manufacturer and it had Avid mechanical disc brakes—probably because no one was buying road bikes with disc brakes back then. It was an experiment perhaps motivated by a specific need. I commuted to work by bike rain or shine. My beater commuter bike often was a filthy mess despite having fenders, partly due to rim brakes. The black brake pads shed material and filth; add water and you have a black, oily slime all around your wheels and frame. Since I was carrying my bike up and down BART stairs, I was getting filthy too. I also was hoping that the braking would be more consistent when it rained; I had already gone down once in the rain due to being unable to tell when the rim brakes were going to lock up. Disc brakes do have a reputation for powerful braking but I just needed to have a consistent feel so that I wouldn’t brake too much or too little.

Roger and I had also been riding a tandem with Avid mechanical disc brakes. Due to the increased mass of two riders, with rim brakes you can produce so much heat during long downhills that you can blow the tire right off the rim. That happened to a friend on his single bike on a long, steep downhill in the Alps and we were also aware of a tandem that did blow its tires on a hairy, steep technical descent in Switzerland leading to copious road rash and a trip to the hospital for the duo. I’m a firm believer in disc brakes for tandems when you’re riding in mountainous terrain.

I now have a road bike that has the latest and greatest Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. The brakes are very nice—they stop the bike, require little hand force to produce immense braking whether dry or wet, and have reasonable modulation. There really aren’t any significant downsides purely with respect to braking. But are they that much better than good rim brakes? Well, yes and no. In dry conditions I find that rim brakes, especially Campagnolo brakes, provide really excellent modulation even if they do require more hand force. Shimano and Avid disc brakes modulate well in the middle but as you get near the lock up point the braking curve suddenly goes up. This is really noticeable with metal/sintered brake pads but less so with resin pads.

Then why did I get them? Because I am running big tires. Current Shimano rim brakes top out at about 28mm tires; older generation brakes—and that’s all that I have—can rarely fit around a 28 mm tire and usually top out at 26 mm if you’re lucky––the tires are just too big to fit under the brake arch. That’s partly a frame problem because until recently major bicycle companies thought no one riding a decent road bike was going to use anything bigger than a 25 mm tire. If you ran big tires, then you had to use “long reach” rim brakes, cantilever brakes, or V-brakes. Over the years I’ve used them all and guess what: they work quite well at stopping. So-called long reach side pull brakes actually have really good modulation but they do require more hand force. But they are not uncomfortable on the road to use even for prolonged periods. Cantilevers and V-brakes can stop on a dime just like disc brakes but they use also brake pads and so shed muck and that wouldn’t work for my commute. In an ironic turn Shimano has made their newest rim brakes so powerful that they stop like disc brakes. But I find their modulation is worse than their hydraulic brakes or their older road brakes. They have so much force in a short pull that I’ve had to relearn how to control them.

When reviewers go gaga over hydraulic brakes what are they getting at? Probably the reduction in hand force that to them feels like better modulation. But 99% of the braking you’re going to be doing is exactly what you’ve been doing to date. Do you often think your brakes are underpowered, lack modulation, or just plain suck? For most of us the answer is no. I do think a reasonable case can be made for very heavy bikes such as cargo bikes or e-bikes and very heavy cyclists. Also if you regularly do crazy long and steep downhills or ride in the rain a lot, then disc brakes are extra insurance against blowing a tire or skidding and crashing. But these are not everyday concerns unless you live in the Alps or Dolomites or live in the Pacific Northwest. Even for descending Mt. Diablo or Mt. Umunhum standard road rim brakes are perfectly fine. And how many of you ride your bike regularly in the rain?

Often you’ll see in reviews that the big minus with hydraulic disc brakes (usually no one mentions mechanical disc brakes anymore) is the added weight. The extra weight is probably just under a pound but I don’t think that’s the real problem with disc brakes. What they don’t mention is the extra maintenance that disc brakes incur. If you want to read an in-depth explanation of exactly what maintenance they do require, go here and here.

In my experience disc brakes require frequent and more complex maintenance than rim brakes. Rim brakes are relatively easy to take care of. It’s trivial to replace brake pads, and I usually go years before needing to replace pads despite riding lots of miles. Setting the pads the correct distance from the rim is also a snap. Disc brakes are another matter altogether. Although the pads cost about the same as rim brake pads, they wear through much more quickly and that means you’ll be replacing them often. Resin pads, which are the preferred type, wear very quickly; I’m getting about 2-3,000 miles per brake and having to replace them at least once a year front and rear (note: and I’m light!) The rotors wear out too. With rim brakes you will wear out rims eventually but it’s many years (about 25-40,000 miles in my case). But I’ve discovered that Shimano rotors wear out in about a year of riding. And they’re not cheap, running $60-90 each. Rotors also warp easily. Massive heat from hard, long braking seems to cause rotors to go out of true. You can also accidentally bump the rotor or lean it against something. The distance between the pads and the rotor is so minute, a few millimeters, that minor warpage means the rotor rubs against the pads usually with a grating, annoying squeak. You can true rotors with a rotor tool but I find it’s much harder than truing spokes in a wheel. Finally, replacing a brake cable is super easy for rim brakes. But bleeding a hydraulic line is a tedious process and you’d better have read the instructions carefully for your brakes because there are nuances in how you bleed your brakes depending on the model. At the moment I’m tearing my hair out over inconsistent piston retraction on the front brake. One of the two pistons doesn’t retract quickly after use so I often get a rasping squeak that only goes away when the piston slowly retracts

Of course if you don’t do your own bike maintenance—which seems to be the trend these days—then you escape the hassle. But your shop bills are going to increase instead.

So before you buy that next bike with disc brakes, think: are you ready to trade the convenience and low cost of rim brakes for the complexity, more frequent maintenance, and higher cost? If you’re going to be riding the same old roads, you are gaining weight and cost for what? Road disc brakes do make sense if want to go up to bigger tires, you ride in the wet a lot, or you need to stop a lot of weight. The other application that make more sense to have disc brakes is if you’re riding on fire roads and trails with your road bike: essentially you’re mountain biking on a road bike and the reduced hand force of disc brakes will definitely feel welcome. It’s no surprise that disc brakes are de rigeur for mountain biking. I have an old mountain bike with cantilever brakes and my hands do get tired and crampy. Now, I do like my hydraulic brakes and the extra weight means little to me. But I’m spending more time futzing with them than I did with the worst rim brakes I’ve ever owned. It’s a pain. And rotor rub just becomes a fact of disc brake life—for some it’s easily ignorable but for me it’s a princess-and-the-pea problem: the noise drives me crazy. There is one other advantage to disc brakes: if your wheel goes out of true—whether it’s due to a broken spoke, tacoing the rim, or “just riding along”, you can usually keep riding to get home. With rim brakes you’ll have to do some serious wheel truing by the side of the road/trail or else call a taxi.

Road Tubeless Update

Schwalbe Pro One tire
Schwalbe Pro One, 700×28, on Hed Belgium Plus rim

For almost two years I’ve been running road tubeless tires on my bike and I’ve commented about my experience here and here. It’s been an experiment on several fronts. In addition to using tubeless tires I have also been using sealant, which is optional although often recommended. I have the tires set up on HED Belgium rims, which at 25 mm are much wider than standard road rims usually at 20 mm. This allows the tires to take less of a “lightbulb” shape and actually increases the volume of air. This means I can run lower pressure and get a cushier ride. Whereas I usually run rims about 85 to 105 psi, I have been running the front tire at 45-50 psi and the rear tire at 55-60 psi without risk of bottoming or a pinch flat. Finally I’ve been riding on fire roads and some easier mountain bike trails with these tires despite running a strangely low spoke count of just 28 (32 is most common). The tires are Schwalbe Pro One, which are nominally 28 mm in width but on the wider rims they measure out about 30 mm. I think the only person in the club running a fatter road tire is Nancy on her 32 mm Continentals!

The bottom line is that these tires have been reliable after the initial teething issues I wrote about and have held up well on dirt. I’ve put almost 3,300 miles on these wheels and the tires are still going strong. I’ve had only two noticeable punctures both in the rear tire. I say “noticeable” because it is possible I’ve had more punctures but they may have sealed so quickly that I never saw them. That said I do check my tires after nearly every ride for signs of sealant, embedded objects, and lowered pressure and I haven’t noticed any other punctures. But two punctures in nearly two years is low for me. So I am guessing that in reality I have had other punctures but the sealant took care of them so quickly that I never had to deal with them.

At this point I can cautiously recommend tubeless for road. The main convenience is the ability to ride even after a puncture and without having to stop and replace a tube. The main inconvenience is getting sprayed with sealant after a puncture; fortunately sealant seems to be easy to wash out of clothes and it’s fairly easy to remove from your bike. If you run fenders, which I did in the winter, then you won’t have this problem. There is a problem that I yet to encounter but is a distinct possibility: getting a tire gash or a large puncture that sealant cannot plug. Guess what? You either walk home, call for help, or put in a new tube. If you’re the Boy Scout type, you’ll still be toting a spare tube, pump, and levers thus obviating any weight reduction by going tubeless. (You’ll need to carry a pump regardless because you never know how long it will take a puncture to seal. In one case the tire was down to 28 psi before sealing!) By the way putting a tube into a tire coated with sealant is messy, so pack a couple of latex or nitrile gloves too. You may have read about struggles others have had with tight beads on tubeless tires making it difficult or impossible to mount a tire. I haven’t had any issues with my set up.

The last thing I’ll say if you are contemplating going tubeless is that the paeans you read in cycling rags about the ‘magic carpet ride’ of tubeless road tires—“it’s like riding sewups!” is greatly overstated. Good tubeless tires have heavier casings than regular clincher tires and that makes the ride less supple. Another wheelset I have, which is very similar to my tubeless set, has expensive Michelin tires and latex inner tubes and it has an even cushier ride that IS just like setups! Of course when I get a flat on these tires it’s all old-school repair. But it’s clearly the better ride despite not being tubeless. An increase in comfort is primarily going to be function of the sophistication of the casing and the inflation, not because it’s tubeless.

Tubeless Update

I wrote about my early experience with tubeless road tires last year; you can find that article here. Since last August I’ve put another 700 miles on those wheels and I experienced my third puncture a few days ago. As I mentioned before, one of the downsides of running sealant in tires (tubeless or otherwise) is that if you do get a puncture it often will not seal immediately especially if it’s more than a pinhole. In the meantime as your wheel is spinning around it’s ejecting sealant in every direction. Since it’s winter the bike now has fenders, so I didn’t notice I had a puncture until I got home and saw the Orange Seal sealant on the mudflap and on the inside of the fender. Upon inspection the 2 mm puncture was completely sealed. The astonishing discovery was that the tire had lost less than 10 lbs. of pressure; in other words, even though it looked like the contents of the tire had been massively spewed out, it must have sealed very quickly, so quickly that I didn’t notice the loss of air pressure. I was impressed—I was able to continue riding as if nothing had happened! Of course if there hadn’t been a fender in place I would instead likely be trying to launder dried latex sealant out of my bike clothes. Although it wasn’t raining when I got the puncture, you can imagine how miserable it would have been to replace an inner tube while getting drenched. I can see the advantage of running tubeless tires with sealant during our rainy season. So far, so good…

Shiny New Things: Garmin Edge 25

Edge25onstem

Garmin recently released two new GPS cyclecomputers, the Edge 20 and 25, which might interest those of you who are looking for a simple cyclometer but with the ability to record a GPS track to post to Strava or other online fitness/mapping sites. By Garmin standards the 20 and 25 are “bare bones” cycling computers giving you just the basics—current speed, mileage, average speed, ride time, etc. and in the case of the Edge 25 also cadence and heart rate. The Edge 20 is completely self-contained and goes for $130; the Edge 25 costs $170 and that premium buys you the ability to pair it with an optional heart rate monitor, cadence and speed sensor. By comparison Cateye makes a heart rate cyclometer that does everything the Garmin 20 and 25 do except GPS and runs for about $115. Keep in mind that the Edge 25 does not include any sensors and their cost bumps up the overall cost quite a bit. In fact, the overall cost starts to run into the territory of Garmin’s mid-line computers such as the Edge 500, which although long in the tooth can be had for about $150-$200 and which has many more features including the ability to be paired with a power meter.

The Edge 20 and 25 have two “features” that stand out: they’re by far the simplest Garmin cyclometers to use and they have a small, pleasing form factor. Neither simplicity nor ease of use are Garmin’s design forté but it has mostly managed to accomplish both of these by drastically cutting back on the number of features and by making the screen small so that at most three metrics can be displayed at once. Compare this with the Edge 1000, which has a plethora of customizable training pages and up to ten fields that can be displayed at once—talk about distraction!

I’ve been using an Edge 25 so I’ll focus on that. If you want a full review (actually, a preliminary hands-on review) you can do to dcrainmaker. There is also a good summary at road.cc. I’m going to comment on just a few salient things that have either irked or pleased me.

Size. I was looking for a cyclometer to replace a dead Polar and I wanted it to be small. Although I also use a Garmin 800 and 1000, I find their size to be awkward, bulky, and inelegant. Also their advanced navigation features, although quite useful if not indispensible for touring, are irrelevant for riding around home. I’ve always admired the long-gone Avocet cyclometers for their small size and the Edge 25 comes very close—it’s barely bigger than the mount to which it attaches. It’s unobtrusive and gives your bike a very clean, old school appearance as it does on my DeRosa. Of course if you tend to go to town on accessorizing your bike, e.g. full-size bike pump, lights, bell, handlebar bag, etc., having a small cyclometer for the sake of esthetics is, well, pointless.

Edge25

Screen. The screen is black and white and very readable in sun or shade, better than the older Edge 800 I still use. The two data pages have just three fields presented vertically. This is a lot less visual clutter than on Garmin’s other units, which can have eight to ten fields per page. However the size of the type is almost the same in all three fields—the central field is just a hair bigger than the one above and the one below. I’d prefer it be significantly bigger to increase its salience when glancing at it quickly: 90% of the time all I want to know is how fast/slow am I going. The screen is small so all three metrics are close together and in this case it’s both a plus (easy to see all three at once) and a minus (now which one is speed and which is distance?).

Screen Management. It’s a simple button push to go through the pages. The screen is not touch sensitive and that’s good because I’ve found Garmin’s capacitance touch screens on the 800 and 1000 to be just modestly reliable, I’ve found the 25’s buttons to be a relief especially on such a small screen.

Set up, Part 1. It’s pretty simple especially if you have no sensors to pair it with. It relies on GPS to calculate distance and speed, so no calibration is necessary. Like Garmin’s newer units, the Edge 25 uses GPS and GLONASS satellites, so the location accuracy (and hence distance and speed) is quite good. The Edge 800 only is capable of using GPS satellites and it’s usually (although not always) accurate, so I think the Edge 25 should be even better and more consistent in areas where satellite signals are weaker (e.g. in the trees or near tall buildings or landforms). Locking onto satellites is very quick when using both systems, a matter of seconds. By comparison with my old Edge 800, which only uses GPS satellites, it usually is less than a minute but sometimes, especially at a new location, it can be much longer.) You can also turn off using GLONASS satellites if you want to conserve power. Configuring the fields on the two data pages is also very easy because the choice of metrics is purposely kept to just these: speed, distance, time, average speed, calories, and total ascent. On the 800 and 1000 the variety of metrics you can display is positively dizzying and to be honest, really unnecessary for 99% of us; the Edge 1000 has 92 different metrics!

Set up, Part 2. Going back to their handheld backpacking GPS devices, Garmin has a long history of providing, uh, challenging documentation. Their manuals tend to have overly terse explanations of how to set up, use, and problem solve their devices. For example years ago when I got the Edge 800–and being a “I read the manual before I do anything” guy–I tried to follow their directions on setting it up only to run into roadblocks. After much swearing and pulling of hair, I found out that there was an unmentioned firmware update that changed the interface so that the included manual was no longer accurate. Keeping to that theme in the case of the Edge 25, they “forgot” to mention some critical things when you try to connect the 25 to the optional sensors. First, it turns out you can pair only one cadence sensor and one speed sensor (or just one cadence/speed sensor). If you have more than one bike, you’re going to have to re-pair your 25 each time you switch bikes. Second, if you use a speed sensor instead of relying on the GPS to calculate distance and speed, Garmin never tells you that you don’t need to calibrate the sensor as you do with almost any other cyclometer. The Edge 25 does it automatically against its GPS signal. Now, that’s great but it never tells you it’s doing this or that it has accomplished doing it nor is anything mentioned in their paper or online documentation. Third, when you do pair optional sensors the Edge 25 will alert you that a pairing is successful, but the message is flashed across the screen so quickly that if you were not staring at the screen the whole time, you will probably miss it. The natural thing one does is in that case is to think that the pairing wasn’t successful or didn’t start and then to attempt again to pair the units. You will then get a message that pairing “wasn’t successful”. That’s because you actually did pair successfully the first time and now the Edge 25 thinks you’re trying to pair to a second sensor. After a round of puzzlement that turned to annoyance, I finally figured out that everything was alright and paired when I spun the crank and the wheel. Be warned.

Power. Oh, you have a power measurement device like a PowerTap, Stages, or a Quarq? Well, don’t get the Edge 25. Even though it can connect to ANT+ sensors, it apparently was deliberately dumbed down so it could not be used for power measurement. Of course Garmin doesn’t mention this. It’s such an obvious thing to include, why would Garmin not? It’s probably because they want you to buy their much more expensive 510/520/810/1000 models that can measure power. If you’re really into training and racing the one factor you’re most interested in is power, so the Garmin 25 is not going to help you at all.

Uploading your track. I don’t have anything to say to you Stravanauts because I don’t use Strava and I find Garmin Connect to be interesting but pointless. But I do upload tracks to Garmin’s BaseCamp application and it works easily, the same as with the 800 and 1000.

Battery life. I haven’t pushed the boundaries of battery life yet since most of my rides are under five hours. But the advertised battery life is eight hours. I’ve done some three to four hour rides with both GPS and GLONASS on and the battery has been down about 60%. Since most of us don’t do rides that last eight hours, this isn’t a problem. But if you’re doing centuries and taking your time or you like to do epic all-day rides, this isn’t the device for you. There is no way to attach an auxiliary battery pack while the 25 is attached to the bike mount, so when the battery dies it’s game over. On the other hand I’ve encountered the same problem with Garmin’s flagship cyclocomputer, the 1000. The 1000’s real battery life barely goes over nine hours; I can stretch that a bit by cutting power usage through turning off the screen, turning off GLONASS, and putting the device to sleep at rest stops. But those are all more than minor inconveniences and cause other annoying problems. But the 1000 can attach to an external battery pack if you use a dedicated bar mount rather than Garmin’s inexpensive quarter-turn mount, and that’s exactly what I do now. The only way to hook an external battery pack on the 25 is to remove it from the bar mount, attach it to its recharging mount, which has a USB connector, and plug it into a USB battery pack. But then you can’t attach it to your bars. I suppose you could then use duct tape to attach it to the stem but that seems inelegant!

Navigation. The Edge 25 has rudimentary navigation ability. You can download a track from Garmin Connect (incidentally, who uses Garmin Connect??) and the 25 will give you bread crumb navigation on its tiny screen. Keep in mind that the screen has no map and you’ll be following a black line with no other information. If I really wanted to download a route to the 25, I’d get it from RideWithGPS rather than Garmin Connect, but Garmin doesn’t currently provide a way to do that. In any case navigation is pointless for most of us because we’re riding at home on the same routes we do every day. Robust navigation is usually only critical if you’re riding on unfamiliar roads such as on a tour. If you want real navigation, you have to step way up to the 810 or the 1000. If you want to use the Edge 25 on a club ride with breadcrumb navigation, in your computer you would have to export the RideWithGPS route, upload it to Garmin Connect, and then download it to the Edge 25. It’s a bit of a pain.

Despite my kvetches about the 25, now that it’s up and working I do like it. As you can tell, I most appreciate its simple, limited abilities and interface. I also like its diminutive size and easy-to-push buttons. However the price is something else. If you just want a simple, bare-bones cyclometer, you could get one for under $40 and not pay the $170 that Garmin demands. A less expensive cyclometer would probably have a battery that lasts a year or two rather than eight hours. On the other hand, you then do not get a track, heart rate measurement, nor the sundry online and phone communication that the Edge 25 has (and that I didn’t care about). You would also have a wired wheel sensor, which may offend your aesthetic sensibility.

Medicine of Cycling Six Week Class

Evan Kavanagh passes along this flyer and information about a six week class for the public called “The Medicine of Cycling” featuring expert physicians, psychologists, trainers, and specialists covering important concepts for cyclists like bike fit, metrics, psychology, nutrition, and of course aches and pains! The course was adapted from professional education programming for sports medicine physicians and will be very high quality, but still accessible for a public audience.

UCSF Medicine of Cycling 2013 flyer

Registration is discounted to $60 until February 1st for the six-lecture series. He has already signed up for the series which starts February 28th and runs thru April 4th, at the UCSF Mission Bay Campus from 7-8:45pm.

Climbing & Descending clinic

While it was foggy in the City and on the drive up from Hollister, it was nice to see this pocket of sunshine in Palo Alto, as a group of us met at Gunn High School on Arastradero (right off Foothill Expressway) for the Velo Girls Bike Skills 201: Climbing & Descending clinic. Stephanie, Nancy, Chris, Larry, Wly, Doug, Raymond and his friend Charles signed up. Each of us had different skills we hoped to improve on, and some hope to overcome our fears some, by learning better handling skills.

Wly and Lorri

We started out in the parking lot with Bike Handling Skills. Did you know that you should not be “steering” with your handlebars? First we did a bike/body separation drill, where we rode around the parking lot and changed out positions out of the saddle; first out on the top tube, then way back off of the saddle, then off to the left and off to the right. We then focused on steering the bike with hips, first by standing at the bike and practicing hip swivels, left then right. Then we got on the bike to use this same motion to ride through a cone slalom.

Counter-steering was next, and when explained it does seem intuitive; that for a right turn you would stand on the outside leg, in this case the left, and then your inside hand is weighted and pushing on the bar (you should be in the drops). And then you lean your body in the opposite direction. Practicing this in the parking lot, I finally got it!

Then we learned about riding techniques, hands, feet and weight distribution for either seated or standing climbing and for either technical descents or fast descents. We then rode up to the Arastradero Preserve for a quick break, and then we headed up to Alpine Road, above Portola, where we turned off on to Indian Crossing Road to practice both the climbing and the descending, with Lorri and Kim watching and providing feedback. It got to be kind of fun, we were doing mini-hill repeats, climbing in the saddle, then out of the saddle where it got steeper, even shifting into a harder gear on the climb. And then we got to come back down, quickly gaining speed, many of us seeing 38 mph, before turning around to do it again!

And then the climb to the end of Alpine Road, it’s about a three mile climb, the road is nicely paved, with not a steep grade except here or there and until the last stretch. And then the payoff, the technical switchbacky descent down to our regroup at Willowbrook Road, near the Windy Hill Open Spaces. And then from there, the long straight descent down Alpine, and then returning to Gunn High School. Group consensus was the A+! We all got new skills to practice and added confidence in both climbing and descending.

Thanks again, Lorri and Kim!

Get Paid to Bicycle to Work


Pic from sfgate.com

Want to get paid to ride your bike to work? You may be able to, if Congress passes the Bicycle Commuters Benefits Act which was recently introduced to committee. The proposed legislation would give employers the option of reimbursing their bike commuting employees up to $100 per month tax-free.

Commuters who use other forms of transportation, such as buses, trains and carpools, currently benefit from a similar employer reimbursement program. Money refunded to bike commuters could help them recoup the expenses of commuting, such as bike maintenance, lights, locks, panniers and racks, etc.
More bike commuters would likely mean that advocacy groups such as the San Francisco Bike Coalition would gain more leverage in their work to fill potholes, construct bike lanes, and fight for safer streets. As more people discover bike commuting, they may want to join excellent clubs such as DSSF thus increasing our membership. Local bike shop owners would profit from the increased need for bikes, accessories and gear. And of course, the health, employee productivity and environmental benefits speak for themselves.
WHAT CAN I DO?Call, write or email Senators Feinstein and Boxer, let them know you support the Bicycle Commuters Benefits Act, S. 2635, and recommend that they co-sponsor the bill (as of September 1, 2006 they have not signed on as co-sponsors).

Sen. Barbara Boxer: 112 Hart Senate Office Building,Washington, DC 20510, (202) 224-3553, http://www.boxer.senate.gov/contact

Sen. Dianne Feinstein:331 Hart Senate Office Building,Washington, DC 20510, (202) 224-3841, http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/email.html

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?

Statement from Sen. Ron Wyden (Oregon) introducing the legislation:
http://bikesbelong.org/page.cfm?PageID=323

Read the text of the bill by accessing this link and clicking either the “Text” of “PDF” option:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-2635

List of public garages throughout San Francisco that provide bike parking for free (or for a minimal charge):
http://www.parks.sfgov.org/site/dptbike_page.asp?id=3840

Bicycle Commuter Act Talking Points:
http://www.bikeleague.org/news/060606adv.php

DSSF Safe Bicycling Quiz!

How safe are you on your bike? Do you know bicycle laws? Take the Safe Bicycling Quiz and find out!

The Spoker that gets the most correct answers will get her/his choice of “Bay Area Biking” by Ann Marie Brown or a one-year subscription to Bicycling Magazine. If more than one Spoker has all the correct answers, their names will be put in a hat and the winner will be randomly drawn.

To enter, click the following link (PDF format), number your answers as they appear on the quiz and email to DSSFBlogEditor@yahoo.com by Monday, August 7th.

Bribing the Blog Editor for answers is prohibited…unless the bribe involves a case of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. 🙂

Good luck!

Click For the Quiz: DSSF Safe Bicycling Quiz