Team Fartlek Kicks Off 2010 Season

March 13th, 2010

Our first official training ride of the year happened today and it was a great one. The team has grown substantially. New people and new bikes! We’ve now got a cool purple Specialized Roubaix and a bad-to-the-bone Pinarello in the peloton.

It would have been great to see the Pinarello alongside the group’s other ultra-fancy bike, but someone didn’t want to risk getting his new baby rained upon and potentially even soiled so he opted to stay home. DUDE, THIS IS OREGON — IT RAINS!

At any rate, we tackled the North Plains route with aplomb. For those who couldn’t make it (or chose not to), here’s what it looked like.

 

Looking good

Michele's new Jesus' baby mamma hat

Michele’s new hat featuring a great image of history’s most famous baby mama

Leanne willing to risk getting her brand new bike moistened by moisture

Twelve feet of biking babe

From a fitness perspective, this is probably the youngest rider on Team Fartlek

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Lakeside Bicycles — Portland’s Got Nothin’ on L.O.

March 11th, 2010

Everyone knows Portland is one of the best biking towns in the country. But not all the coolest bike shops in the metro area lie within city limits. Lakeside Bicycles is my other other favorite bike shop. Part of the reason I like it is because they carry so many cool, high-end bike brands. The shop is stacked to the rafters with sexy Cannondales, Pinarellos, De Rosas, Colnagos, and Bianchis and features the largest selection of flamed out Electra choppers and cruisers I’ve ever seen.

They’ve also got some great hand-painted Pegorettis in the mix that keep calling out to me. One, which belongs to one of the staff, is decked out in a Frank Zappa motif. That’s just not something you see every day. They’ve even got a Colnago “Forever” on display just like the one Ernesto Colagno presented to his wife on their 50th wedding anniversary (this one belongs to the owner’s wife. Look, but don’t touch).

Another part of the reason I like Lakeside is the customer service. The owner DEFINITELY went above and beyond the call of duty for me when he delivered my new spin bike to my house. The final reason I like the Lakeside it is that it just feels right when you step through the door. It looks — and even smells — like a good bike shop is supposed to. I think this is because it reminds me of the place where I got my very first 10 speed many years ago.

It is worth the trip to Lake Oswego just to check out the sweet selection of bikes. If you need a second excuse, Lakeside has group rides on Saturday and Sunday mornings starting at 9:00.

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Awesome Bike Video — Makes Me Wish I Was Cooler (and Had a Fixie)

March 11th, 2010

The bike messenger in this video is named Alfredo Bobe. I met him at La Vuelta. I hope to write a post about him soon. In the meantime, I wanted to get this video up on my blog because it is so friggin’ cool.

It’s Your Ride from Cinecycle on Vimeo.

Another video featuring Alfred

Puma – Messenger
Uploaded by zip2two. – Full seasons and entire episodes online.

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Why Cyclists Must Not Act Like Tools

February 21st, 2010

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High-Performance Kalkhoff E-Bikes Available to U.S. Market

February 16th, 2010

The Kalkhoff Pro Connect Sport is thought by many to be the finest electric bicycle in the world

Kalkhoff is one of Europe’s largest and best know bicycle brands. They also make high-performance electric bikes that are unlike any other currently available in the United States.

Today Greenlight Bikes, the exclusive U.S. importer of Kalkhoff bikes, officially announced the availability of these popular machines to the North American market.

If you live in Portland, you owe it to yourself to visit the Kalkhoff showroom and test ride one of these bikes. They are a complete blast to pilot and are guaranteed to make even the most serious hammerhead smile.

Disclosure: Greenlight bikes is a client of KoiFish Communications, the sponsor of PDX Cycling Online.

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Viva La Vuelta!

February 11th, 2010

This week I had the pleasure of attending an incredible cycling event. Its official name is La Vuelta Lighthouse Tour of Puerto Rico, but most people simply call it La Vuelta. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t there to ride — there’s just no way I could handle an event like this (at least not right now). Instead, I rode along in the Tour Director’s comfortable and air-conditioned mega-truck, which gave me the absolute best seat in the house from which to watch the whole ride unfold. I’ve often wondered what it would be like be in a team car in the Tour de France or La Vuelta a Espana. I think this was probably pretty close. Either way, it was amazing.

The Ride

Calling this event a “bike tour” is kind of like calling the New York Marathon a jog. I imagined it would be something like Cycle Oregon where people cover a lot of ground, but have the chance to stop, chat with the locals, snap a few photos and, perhaps, get an ice cream cone at some point. It wasn’t like that at all.

La Vuelta seems more like a multi-day stage race minus the sprint finishes. If you’ve ever fantasized about riding in the Tour de France and happen to be an extremely fit and capable cyclist, you will simply love La Vuelta. They hammer all day every day with a few quick stops for water and fuel.

Hammering hard and loving every minuteIn 3 days, La Vuelta encircles the entire island of Puerto Rico. The total distance is 375 miles. The shortest day’s ride is 94 miles. And, while the total elevation gain for the entire ride is only 11,000 feet, the few serious climbs on the route are STEEP. Some of the grades exceeded 15% and go on long enough that they’ve got to hurt. Riders are divided into three pelotons. The fast group rode at 25-30 M.P.H., the middle group at 20-25 M.P.H. and the “slow” group at about 18 M.P.H.

Police escorts and emergency vehicles formed rolling roadblocks so the pelotons could keep moving. Motorcycles carrying photographers darting everywhere and, for a while, even a helicopter added ambiance.

Barely breaking a sweat on the steep climbsThe Riders

Every rider – including the slow pokes in the 18 M.P.H group – is an elite athlete. The only place you are likely to see more Iron Man Triathlon bracelets, jerseys, shirts, skullcaps and tattoos is at an Iron Man Triathlon. They are beautifully sculpted and bronzed and are a sight to behold in cycling gear. Most were wearing full team kits, which did a lot to add to the illusion of this being a stage race. Watching them ride was educational and inspirational. Most of them barely seemed fazed by the heat, mileage and difficulty of each day’s ride (though I’d like to think that at least some of them were at least a little tired). I do know that the maniac who founded La Vuelta got up at 3:00 a.m. the day after the event for an hour-and-a-half “spin.” I suspect he wasn’t the only one to do so.

The Bikes

The 30-person pre-ride the day before the big event was representative of the kind of bikes ridden in La Vuelta. High-end bikes all around. Many were pro team models. I’ve never seen this many Colnagos, Pinerelli’s, DeRosas and custom Ti bikes in one place in my life. Specialized was also well represented. To my surprise, there were very few Treks. It would seem style plays as important of a role at La Vuelta as does performance. There were also three Bike Fridays, which stood out like turds in the proverbial punch bowl. However, all three foldiphiles rode admirably, which I’d bet gave them a great deal of satisfaction.

The People

It is clear that, as a spectator sport, cycling gets more respect in Puerto Rico than it does in the U.S. Cheering fans lined the streets in most towns. More importantly, most of the drivers caught in the rolling roadblocks, many of whom were more than a little inconvenienced by the ride, took it all in stride. It would sure be great if that same sort of attitude worked its way to the States someday.

The Island

While there was very little time for sightseeing, there are many beautiful parts of Puerto Rico. Some of the most stellar towns apparently get very few foreign visitors. Instead, they serve as weekend retreats for locals.

Puerto Rico is definitely a place I’d like to go back and visit. Who knows, if I remain as inspired by the whole event as I am right now, I might even someday attain the level of fitness required to ride this mother. That would be something. The travel editor from Bicycling Magazine who was there to write about the event old me if I ever did, he’d come back again and ride with me. Be careful, Bill, I just might cash in on that promise someday.

To see more photos, check out my flickr page. There’s a great photo montage done by a real photographer in 2009 on La Vuelta’s Website. To see the short posts I did during the ride, check out La Vuelta’s blog.

Update: I checked with some of the riders who were using Garmin bike computers. The steepest bits were somewhere between 17% and 20%.

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This Week, PDX Cycling Online is Going to be La Vuelta de Puerto Rico Online Instead

February 4th, 2010

La Vuelta founder, William Medina commands a lot of respect on and off the road

Greetings from sunny (and warm and humid) San Juan. I’m here helping out with La Vuelta de Puerto Rico this week. La Vuelta is a three-day bike tour that is not for the faint of heart. This is a 3 day, 375 mile bike ride around the entire island. And that tally doesn’t count today’s optional 40 mile spin around San Juan. Tomorrow’s ride goes from San Juan to Ponce. This leg alone is 148 miles. Riders are split into three pelotons. The fastest group averages 20 M.P.H. The slowest group averages 12 M.P.H.. In my mind, that’s still a far cry from slow — particularly when you are talking that sort of distance in the heat.

It is not surprising that the riders getting ready for tomorrow’s challenge appear to be extremely fit. Not a clydesdale in the bunch. These guys and gals are also packing some serious hardware. High-end, high-dollar bikes as far as the eye can see. Lots of Colnago, Pinerello, Campagnolo, Dura Ace, custom Ti and carbon fiber to go around. There is even a wood-framed Renovo (Portland, OR in the house!).

Oh yeah, there is one dude keeping it real on his Bike Friday. I saw him drop a guy on a Pinerello on the one climb this afternoon, which should please the lovers of these peculiar foldable mounts.

These cyclists have inspired me to redouble my fitness efforts in hopes that I might be able to come back next year as a rider. This time, I’m happy to hang out in the rear with the gear in an air-conditioned vehicle and take in the sights of this beautiful place. I’m exhausted, so I’m going to leave it at that. I’ll be posting updates when I can over the next few days. In the meantime, you can check out my photos on flickr.

Update: I was very wrong about the speeds — the “slow” group averaged 18 M.P.H. The Fast group was 25 – 30.

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Cycle Oregon Countdown Clocks

February 1st, 2010

Countdown to Cycle Oregon Weekend Ride

Countdown to Cycle Oregon Week Ride

Thanks to Robert Holler for the newer, nicer countdown clocks. See his blog at http://hollerit.blogspot.com.

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What Do Cyclists Think About The Titus Tattoo Marketing Campaign?

January 27th, 2010

I wrote a post in my marketing blog a few days ago about the current marketing campaign Titus is running on Facebook. The premise of the campaign is that people design a Titus Tattoo and tell the community of Facebook fans where on their bodies they would put it. Fans vote on which concept they like best and the “winner” is flown to Titus headquarters in Arizona, gets the tattoo (applied by an artist of the company’s choosing) and is awarded a mountain bike worth about $5,500.

My premise is that this is a ridiculous campaign because Titus is a premium brand and tattoos, while awesome, are still a little low-brow in many people’s mind. Moreover, paying people to get a tattoo of your company is lame and quite the opposite of authentic. Ultimately, while plenty of cyclists enjoy tattoos, they aren’t an integral part of the cycling culture.

I thought I’d ask the readers of this blog to help me with a reality check. So ….. as a cyclist, please let me know what do you think of this campaign? Does it change your perception of the brand? Does it make you want to run out and buy a Titus? Does it make you want to go to Facebook and submit a design? Finally, if  you were to get a tattoo of a cycling brand, what would it be? I can only think of one — Campagnolo — and I’d be willing to bet that they’d never pull a marketing stunt like this.

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Drivers VS. Cyclists

January 17th, 2010

Silly? I think so.

The tension between drivers and cyclists seems to be heating up. Some jackass even started a Facebook Fan Page called “There’s a Perfectly Good Path Right Next to the Road You Stupid Cyclist” that is currently getting a bit of notoriety. If you read through some of the comments, you’ll see a lot of drivers who talk about wanting to kill cyclists — or at least about how much they enjoy honking their horns at us or flipping us off. Of course, drivers aren’t the only ones saying stupid stuff on the page. One cyclist took it so far as to let people know she carries a gun while she rides and how she is looking to shoot at aggressive drivers.

Yesterday I was contacted by someone from https://www.sharethedamnroad.com/ asking if I wanted to share links with them on this blog (which, I guess, I’m doing in a way right here). These guys are selling riding jerseys saying things like “Share the Damn Road” or “Don’t Honk at Me.” Frankly, I think this is a flawed approach and these jerseys are more likely to inspire honking and other bad behavior than discourage it. I’m going to assume that most cyclists realize this and that these guys won’t be around for very long.

Let’s face facts — there are a lot of stupid people in the world, and many of them drive cars. Plenty also ride bikes and some are even serious riders. I hate to say it, but I’ve seen several cyclists — ESPECIALLY ON ORGANIZED RIDES — whose behavior justifies anger on the part of drivers. It is as if all of the sudden, riding 6 abreast or riding down the middle of the lane is just fine. I do realize that endorphins seem to have a negative impact on mental acuity, but there’s more to it than that. These cyclists put themselves and the rest of us at risk.

This poses a problem. While I’m confident that I could hold my own in a physical altercation with an angry driver who decided to stop his car and get out to try and demonstrate how tough he is, chances are that’s not going to happen. They are much more likely to choose the more cowardly tactic of yelling, throwing or using their car as a weapon. I have no doubt about who is more likely to prevail then and it isn’t the person wearing Lycra.

If you are a cyclist on a group ride and see a fellow rider acting like a fool, let them know in no uncertain terms what you think about the fact that they are putting YOU in danger. Finally, if you are a cyclist who actually carries a firearm while riding, do yourself (and the rest of the pro-gun community) a favor. Keep that fact to yourself or, at the very least, don’t go online and write about how you plan to shoot at aggressive drivers. Part of being a responsible gun owner is knowing when you can/can’t should/shouldn’t use lethal force. If you’ve received proper training, you’ll understand why going online and telling the world how you want to cap people is not too swift. If you haven’t received this type of training, you shouldn’t be carrying a gun in the first place.

At any rate, this season I’m expecting the very real potential that more drivers will feel OK about acting like jerks around cyclists (after all, now they have a place on Facebook where they can tell all their friends how much fun they had running a cyclist off the road). It might be valuable to think in advance of how you will respond. After a few years of trial and error, I’ve come up with my own theory on how to treat a rude motorist — ignore them completely. If they honk, yell or whatever, don’t give them a response. Even flipping them off shows that they’ve gotten to you, and that’s what they want. If they do something that endangers you or your fellow riders, get a license plate and call it in. It’s that simple. If they stop and threaten you, that’s a different story — then it is time to defend yourself in whatever way the situation demands.

Beyond that, act as an ambassador for cycling. If there is a car behind you, get over to the side of the road and wave them past. If a driver shows you a courtesy, be sure to signal your appreciation. Respect the rights of other drivers, but also make sure they respect your rights to be safe. If there’s a bike lane, use it, but if the bike lane is full of debris, don’t. If you need to take a lane, do so. For example, if you are going to make a left turn, own the turning lane. Don’t allow yourself to get pushed off to the left-hand section of that lane.

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