Friday, December 26, 2008

Weeks slides in at the wire to win Boxing Day Cross

With ridiculous amounts of snow on the ground, Boxing Day Cross was cancelled. Is that right? Can you cancel an event that no one is organizing? Project B responds with a resounding "HELL NO".

Tim Wyatt was at my door at 9:45 this morning with a hardtail downhill bike and his usual abundance of enthusiasm for doing dumb shit - we love you, Tim. A look through the fleet of bikes at the apartment ended up with my Haro mini as a complement to Tim's 6" of travel up front.

After a bodum we were on our way with impractical-yet-fun bikes, and chose to take the bus out to Empire Stadium / Leeside.

Confirming we were the only ones there, we wasted no time in starting the race.

Tim's manual to facewash was a highlight of the early minutes.

A number of runs up and down the stairs at the north-east corner of the park had my ankle smashed and swollen trying to bomb the first of three sections on the mini. Tim showed me up on my own bike by keeping it rubber side down for two of three sets before an entertaining bail at the top of set three.


Next we moved on to the smoother embankment south of the stairs. Nearing the end of the 55 minute regulation time, who arrives but James Weeks on his Rocky Boroughs track bike.

Weeks threw his bike over the brambles and made a leap of faith in his SPD-SLs. The crowd went wild when he harnessed the Boroughs for a full pull down the embankment.

Arriving just before the bell lap, not only did Weeks win the race, but he was also the only competitor to have ridden to the event. I'll leave you with the podium shot from this year's Boxing Day Cross. See you next year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


So yesterday Wifey and I were walking down Madison Ave giggling at the fur coats, when across the street we saw an interesting bicycle in the window of a store.

Georg Jensen, a flatware/jewlery/design store had what at first appeared to be an elegant, silver single speed bicycle in the window. Upon closer inspection, the bike was not only unimpressive, it was offensive.

Its standard steel road frame appears to have first been embossed with the Georg Jensen logo, then powdercoated high gloss silver.

Stainless fenders aside, all of the other components looked to be spray painted matte silver. including the coaster hub + cog, the stem, the 0° sweep bars, the seat post. The cranks appeared to be Shimano road copies, the chain was cheap and non plated again sprayed silver.

What bothered me the most was the rear rack, and chainguard.
Surely these are the meticulously crafted items that make this 'art nouveau' bike worth the $5500 price tag. Right?

Ugh. The rack is attached only to the fender, with some bizarre set of stacked washers. Its curved platform and translucent rubber tiedowns make it barely suitable for strapping your Louis Vuitton purse to. And it didn't sit level due to assembly. Similarly, the minimalist steel rod chain guard did NOT follow the line of the chain!!!

This bike was making me angry. Georg Jensen would weep if he saw the craftsmanship his name was being appended to. I don't even really need to mention that the rear tire was mounted backwards.

So how could this happen?
What makes this bike worth more than a Vanilla, Naked, Bilenky or Sachs?

I had to research it further when I got home. It turns out that the bike was built by Sögreni, a Danish design house that specializes in bicycles. I had a look at their site, and they all seem to follow the same aesthetic.

The 'Dirty Harry' mountain bike probably pissed me off the most though.

1992 Marzocchi air/oil shocks with seals that are not only impossible to find, but have probably turned to dust? With an unused cantilever brake hanger? A steering damper? drillium cranks? A road cassette and derailleur? 110/130 Rocket Ring? Bonded Aluminum frame? This is the ultimative mountain cycle? What the crap?
Where is the mud guard, luggage carrier and chain guard?

Clearly the only answer is to move to Copenhagen and market items towards the non cycling public. I wonder just how much the Georg Jensen corporation paid Sögreni for each bike.

Back on the topic of luggage racks and mud guards.. I've been racking my brain trying to figure out a way to make the Spicer/Flite100 the 'ultimative' city bike. I had my bike out in the snow the other night, and the lower gearing and slightly more upright posture afforded by the riser bars really helped in navigating the snow. However, my 35mm fenders were packing with slush the entire time, and it added quite a bit of resistance.

I would like to be able to mount CX tires for more traction/float, but I can't fit them along with the current fenders. I would have to get some 45mm wide hybrid fenders and modify them in order to fit the bike. I'll report back if I do go this route.

DFL_Nick is finally seeing the light, and is looking into getting a Flite100 as well. He wants a porteur rack though. A cargo rack built onto the low rake track fork. Hrm. That might not work. Besides, the bike already has provisions for a super sturdy rear rack (unlike the Sögrenis) built right in.

I think in 2009 we'll start to see more and more performance oriented city/utility bicycles. Perhaps even some courier designed ones. I can only hope these designs take shape and the design house fashion bikes get left behind.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The greatest race that never happened

The Race of Champions 2008

A couple of days ago, track monster Chris Hoy was supposed to race Lewis Hamilton piloting a 600hp Mercedez Benz around a crazy track at Wembley stadium. I was pretty hyped on this after looking at the course layout:

I remembered it this morning and promptly started searching for Youtube vids.
Here's the best one I could find:

I don't know how much those fans paid for the seats, but they were probably pretty bummed... But check it out, here's why. Here's Chris testing out the track surface on his SS Dolan track bike:

It looks pretty sketch. I'm kind of glad they didn't race. After participating in a long and painful discussion on drift physics this morning, I cringe at the thought of sliding a track bike into a barrier in front of tens of thousands of people. Though, for some reason I'm not bothered by the thought of the rear quarter panels of a Benz SLR getting ripped off.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This vs. That

Hrm. Brakeless Pennyfarthing Crit vs. 80m flat track brakeless SS oval racing.
Which is gnarlier?

Am I a ghoul if I say I'm dissapointed no one crashed in the Penny race?

The flat track racing kind of reminds me of the Proj-B Confederation Skatepark 4x. Five cross, in this case:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

smoking tires, severed spokes and shattered drums

Last night I attended an honest to goodness mechanical roller race in midtown Manhattan. It was a benefit for the CRCA Juniors, titled Onward Christian Rollers

The silly name was because Christian Vande Velde was going to be in attendance (I thought he would be racing, but he just stood around drinking and looking pretty in a vest)

The part that interested me the most about this event was the vintage mechanical roller setup, provided by Bikeworks NYC:

I'm actually not sure if it's fully mechanical, or if the drive cables are sending electric pulses to the display motors, but either way, its rad. The roller drums are super smooth and the bearings spin forever (which is why I'm guessing that it's electromechanical). Here's a shot of the back of the display:

On the middle cylinder of each roller is a sprocket wheel and gear box. By way of a flexible transmission cable, the roller gear box is connected to a similar gear box behind the dial face. This gear box drives it's corresponding arrow on the dial face, by way of a roller belt drive system. The unit is human-powered, mechanically driven, and totally wireless.

I wasn't racing mainly because I don't have enough sprockets/cogs to meet the 90 gear inch max limit, that I knew everyone else would be running. 44/14 would have been close, but 56/16 wouldn't be allowed. Yes, my two big front sprockets are 44 and 56 teeth. I did sort of want to do it with fenders and riser bars though. (not that it matters, but I'm pretty sure the guy on the Pista Concept was running 51/14, which was over the limit.)

Oh well, I paid the cover charge ($20 ouch! NYC isn't cheap) and tried to make the most of the 7-8pm open bar. I helped out my friend Alex by spotting him throughout the night, and watched a lot of gnarly roller crashes.

During warm ups, one guy actually shattered one of the roller drums. He had wound them up to max speed, then tried to stop abruptly. The roller's momentum shot him backwards into the display, and when his front wheel hit the forward rear roller, it exploded. It was amazing though kind of a bummer, because I KNOW Bikeworks won't be able to replace that drum.

Throughout the night there was a lot of sketchy roller crashes. In fact, it was painful to watch some people try and stay on, but that's the beauty of spectating at an event like this. Everyone is an expert. Check out the video footage Alan shot (At 2:15 you can see the roadie in the red/white jersey SMOKING his tire on the platform):

"This is NYC Bike Racing"

After the finals, and the subsequent beer sprints, I had a great drunken ride home through midtown traffic =]

Monday, December 08, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say, on an angry Hawaiian Christmas day

Jolly ol' St. Ed has tipped us off to a little Boxing Day luau, brought to you by the merry elves at CX West:

Boxing Day is best spent racing from point to point, elbowing for space with others, getting home with some new stuff, working off the Christmas turkey, ahhh just the thing to help you through the holidays.

Introducing...Boxing Cross.
A unique cyclocross event to celebrate the season of giving by givin'r.
The event will take place at 11am at Empire Bowl on Hastings at the Cassiar junction.
The event will last for 55 minutes plus a lap for all participants.
Upon the completion of each lap each competitor will spin the "wheel of misfortune" and execute the task indicated.
Tasks will range from changing a wheel, trading a bike with the next competitor, taking off a pedal, eating and or drinking something, and other creative distractions.
The Bell will be rung to indicate the last lap upon the crossing of the line by the first rider after 55 minutes is reached. This rider would become the lead rider with one lap to go. The lead rider will carry a flag (think flag football) which must be acquired by the passing rider.
The fastest rider will probably not win. The smartest might.
You must ride to the event. Anyone arriving by car will be forced to dig a hole and sit in it for the entire event.
You must bring your own prize to contribute to the prize pool.
You must bring a piece of warm clothing to be donated to the Covenant House of Vancouver.
This is an unsanctioned ride, you must be willing to assume all risks associated to riding a bike with other people. You must yield to all other park users.
No one is organizing this activity.
It is a coincidence of convenience that we all show up at the same spot looking to do the same thing.
Comments please.



We're beyond stoked that in the absence of Messrs. Cottrell and Lewis, and after the retirement of Jeff Curry from throwing down for the honky-tonk, that not only are people like HeyHey stepping their game up, but people that we don't even know are gettin' down for the get-down, too.

So, in the spirit of the season, we're bringing tallbikes, tall cans, twofortythrees, and two hundred-fifty-odd pounds of pure unadulterated shit talk: Tii.

Mele Ka-drinky-maka!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Lidocaine, Catheters & Computers

What do these three things have in common? Is it:

A) Jordan Guenette
B) Science
C) Fetishes
D) A Good Time

There's no wrong answer, really.

Well, a week after my first session with Jordan and it was time for the second half of the study. This was the longer of the two with the running time coming in at four hours. This was also the more interesting of the two sessions in that it involved all three of the items listed in the title. We started this soirée off with the Lidocaine. The thin gel was dripped into my right nostril and with the tip of my head it all ran down the back of my throat. It has a distinctive mediciney taste when it hit the back of the tongue but I've had shooters that tasted worse and they didn't even have as much of a numbing effect so I wasn't complaining. After a few minutes, it feels like there's a lump of something in your throat that you can't swallow. This is when it's time to get to business. Jordan proceeded with inserting the first of two catheters up my nose, around the bend and down my throat.

Here you can see it with the first one already inserted an with the second about to head on in. The tip of it has a balloon on it which is deflated when inserted...which was fortunate for me, 'cause man...well, you know. Anywhoo. The first one went down fairly easily. It went around the bend well enough and the rest of the way down with the aid of drinking water. The second one, however, had a bit more of an issue getting all the way along. It too, got around the bend without much issue but about two seconds after this...

...I was spitting a mouthful of water on to Jordan as the second catheter managed to find my gag reflex and try as I might to resist the urge, the nervous system won out:

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Probably for the best...

Okay, so aside from this little mishap the whole insertion thing went well. An alternate angle shows a successful insertion of both lines:

Now, never did hurt, it just felt...foreign. There was actually a bit of uncomfortable pressure at first but once the small guide wires were removed from inside the lines it was all fine & thumbs up.


For the next while Jordan adjusted the placement of one of the catheters (one sat below the diaphragm in my stomach and one above in my esophagus) and I got to just sit down, relax and hang out with my new friend, the Magstim 200 Mono Pulse, or Maggie as I like to refer to her. I'm going to be honest with you...Maggie is startling. She won't say a word for the longest time then all of a sudden she yells real loud and it kind of scares the crap out of you. Or to put it another way, that ring thing I introduced you to last week is placed at the base of the neck and when triggered creates a magnetic pulse that stimulates the nerves which control the diaphragm. It also manages to catch a few other nerves so my arms & shoulders would jump up a bit as well. This wasn't really the most pleasant thing ever but it's a hell of a lot better than using electrical stimulation and I did become accustom to it after the first few rounds. Again, not painful but foreign in a way. Below you can see all the marker lines where jordan placed the ring to find the most effective location, the full circle is where he got the strongest response (represented by squiggles on the computer screen) and all other stimulations were done from:

So yeah, more various stimulation tests, some involving the pinhole inhalation device, some while just hanging out and being all cruisy.

I'm sure there was a lot of science going on here but it's all kind of over my head so I didn't really ask. Once the first few were done and I became accustom to the process it was all thumbs up:


There were wires & hoses everywhere. Two coming out of my nose, one clipped to my index finger, three attached to electrodes stuck to my chest and shoulder, something else strapped to my forearm and a couple coming out of the device I was breathing through. This made set up a delicate procedure but after a bit of nudging and shifting everything was all set. I was given ten minutes to warm up and then the test was to start. I started the first minute at a low resistance and then the wattage was brought up to 298W - 90% of my peak ability as determined by last week's test. The objective was simple yet brutal. Sustain this output for as long as physically possible. That's it. Nothing else. Here's the "before" photo with my intrepid scientist, Jordan:

The first few minutes of this test were fairly reasonable, despite the fact that most people get worried they won't last long during this window. I think a part of it was that my legs were feeling a bit better than last week and a part of it was that I'm kind of awesome sometimes. It's hard to say how much of each played in. After about four or five minutes, though, the awesomeness started to wear off and it started to burn. Still within reason but every time Jordan's assistant came over with the "how are your legs and lungs feeling on a scale of 1-10" clipboard the numbers started to creep up and up. By around the ten minute mark things started to really suck. This is where having spent the past year and a half developing the ability to metaphorically punch myself in the face over and over came into play. It burns and it hurts and it would feel so very good to stop but you just simply don't. Twelve minutes goes by and I'm starting to let out small screams of agony. Oh, and just to up the ante a little throughout the effort (although, I'm assuming he had science reasons) Jordan would ask me to take in a deep, rapid breath at the end of a "normal" exhalation. This is normally no big deal but when your heart & breathing rate are pinned it makes everything hurt just that extra little bit more. These inhalations are a part of what ultimately did me in. Everytime I did one during the latter stages my cadence would dip just a bit and it would become more and more difficult to get it back up again. Then, after fifteen minutes and two seconds, I was finally beat. Here's the "after" photo:

Jordan had to physically help me off the bike and into the chair. No blurry vision this time but every muscle in my legs was on fire. Same for my lungs. Right away, Maggie got involved in things again while I tried to resist the urge to honk. Eventually, I caught my breath, endorphins kicked in and Maggie calmed down.

And that was it. the whole thing was over in less than four hours. Jordan got some good numbers, I got my ass kicked and Maggie agreed that we she won't keep yelling at me all the time.

I have to take a moment now as well to comment on how well Jordan ran all of these tests. He was very professional and friendly and made the whole experience actually fairly enjoyable. We're going to go ride bikes when the weather gets better.

Oh, there was one last thing to do...take the catheters out. This was far less delicate of a procedure than their insertion. The tape from my nose was removed and with a gentle, yet confident tug, Jordan pulled those effers right out with one pull. Again, foreign...and a bit burny as the stomach catheter brought a bit of my stomach's contents along with it. Once I had a drink of water and gave it a few minutes the burny-foreign sensations went away and it was all thumbs:


Thursday, December 04, 2008

In Just Two days...

Dress warm. Don't be stupid. Ride hard.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Jesus Christ Its a Lion!

I have never seen ANYTHING like this before. Thank you Gabe.