Sunday, September 27, 2015

I think I set a record

So I might have set a new record for myself: the most miles I rode my bicycle in a calendar year.

But that comes with a caveat.  The last time I rode this many miles, about 3,060 miles, was in 2000 and I used a Cateye computer that I think was pretty accurate  Now I use a Garmin, which I switch between bikes.  It seems pretty accurate but it isn't perfect, especially under a dense forest crown, but it's pretty good.  So I may have set a new record or I might in the next few days, depending on the accuracy of those two devices.

A little more than 1,500 of those miles are on my IF Club Racer.  That means they are purely recreational miles.  And usually they are faster miles than those I ride on my Surly or the Swobo (like today, 6 miles on a bike trail with my younger son on a trail-a-bike behind me and my older son on his bike weaving in front of me with two of his cousins).  In 2000, when I last rode this many miles, it was all on my old Lemond Alpe d'Huez, a great, fast road bike.  And I was faster then.  I often went out for 60-80 mile rides and finished with 17-18 MPH averages.  And that wasn't the only difference.  I also ran about 1,000 miles that year, running 100-125 miles monthly during the winter months and less during the spring/summer/fall riding season.  I also commuted to school, walking and taking the T and my job required a ton of walking as well.  I also skied (backcountry and telemark) a lot then.  And I rock climbed regularly, mostly at a gym but outside a lot as well.  I was a pretty active guy.  This year I wouldn't call myself even half as active as I was then.  I certainly shoveled more snow this year and I do walk a lot but I don't think I've run a hundred miles this year and I'll feel good about myself if I run another hundred miles by the end of the year.

That said, I don't feel that I'm doing all that badly.  I now am married and have two young boys and work takes a decent amount of time, both in the office and at home in the evenings.  And I'm a bit older now - a lot more of my fifties are behind me than in front of me.  I certainly could be doing worse than I am.  I rode a somewhat hilly 67 mile ride yesterday, including 4 miles of gravel, doing it at a decent clip (except for the gravel stretch) will no ill effects.  And assuming good health and decent weather, I'm hardly done for the year.

Not that I'm all that determined to ride a certain number of miles.  Last year I stopped at 2982, close to a nice round 3,000.  I could have easily gone out for those missing 18 miles but it wasn't anything I was worrying about so I didn't.  I could do another 500 or 1,000 miles before the end of the year, depending on the weather.  But all that I'm looking for is to get outside, get some exercise, and enjoy time alone or with friends, old and new.

Pictures from the weekend:

A home made (from parts bought online) motorized bicycle.

The Assabet River from the Assabet River Trail.

The worst gravel I had to ride on Taylor Way, after I left the Assabet River Trail.

Independence Greenway.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lazy Saturday, energetic Sunday

Saturday ...

43 miles at 13.5 MPH.  Yes, it was a lazy morning with too many stops for pictures and a brief ride on trails.  Some times it seems like I just can't be fast with an early start, especially when combined with fog, not that I'm ever that fast.  But Saturday was an especially slow day.  Some pictures:

The Cambridge Reservoir, looking low.  

Hanscom runway.  I didn't hear any planes taking off or landing and I certainly couldn't see any.

It looks bucolic but this is the prison farm at the Concord prison rotary.

This is what I learned from Rob Vandermark - signs sometimes aren't all that meaningful.  Yes, you would need a jeep to exit at the other end but I could make it on 25 MM tires.

Trail riding.  I headed down here for a bio break but decided to see where it went.

It went here.  Some roots and few rocks, except for one short section.

A runner suggested that I keep left here, despite the road surface.  My Garmin suggested this way as well.  The road was rough but not impassable.

Umm ... this hole is 2 feet deep and much wider below the asphalt.  I hope Sudbury repairs this soon.

My favorite road.  Apparently it is  quite old.

The Saturday ride route, except for the short diversion onto a trail on Old Mill Road.

After getting up so early and staying up late for working during the week, I was much too tired to get to Adam Myersons #lastlap retirement party and fundraiser for Bikes Not Bombs.  I had a hall pass but was too tired to consider riding or driving into Boston.

Sunday ...

No pictures.  It was an energetic ride - 26 miles in under 1 hour and 30 minutes with no stops except for stop signs and red lights, and there were few of those.  I took the Page Road/Grove Street route from Bedford to Lexington, just to try to ride a hill without losing too much speed.  I had a lot left in my legs but had to get home to help with dinner.  The difference between sleepy legs and not is amazing.  I love early morning rides but this ride was great fun.

Miles for the weekend: 69, miles for the month: 380, miles for the year 2920.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The theme is fog

Last weekend I got out for three rides.  They were short rides. mostly in an effort to find time to get on my road bike and be available for family obligations.  This meant that I was going to do early morning rides.  With last weekend's cool mornings (Bedford was in the mid 40s when I was riding Saturday morning) there was fog, ground fog and river fog.  Saturday was the best example, documented here with two Instagram posts.

The heaviest fog was on the 225 bridge over the Concord River:

Looking down at the river, you could see the swirls of fog, right on the river:

A video posted by NEBicyclist (@svillecyclist) on
The fog was a lot less widespread the next morning (Sunday) but there was a great stretch of fog along Silver Hill Road in Lincoln.  Here is one picture from there:

Monday was warmer and a drier day and I had lots of sunlight early.

This morning, Saturday the 12th, was a different story.  The late Friday forecast called for heavy inland fog early, with the potential to burn off with the sun.  With that in mind, I left a bit later than usual, about 5:40 AM.  Fog was present along the bike path in Lexington and it was also readily apparent at the 128 bridge on the Minute Man trail.

It was worse, as expected at the Maple Street bridge in Calisle.

Along with the loss of some visibility, there was a lot of water in the atmosphere that I rode through.  My wool sweater was wet and there was ample evidence on my bike as well.

Fog was variable and it was particularly bad up on Nagog Hill Road in Acton.

And on Lake Nagog.  There is a heron in this picture, which you can barely make out on a big screen.

While there was fog on the road and I thought I should be careful and ride with care and reasonable lighting, I never thought it was a dumb idea to be out.  Traffic was light and cars could see me, evidenced by the wide berth that they generally gave me.  I do turn around a lot and that somehow forces the rest of the drivers to give me more room.


Busch and Mueller last generation IQ CYO front headlight and Secula Plus rear taillight, both run off of a Schmidt dynamo hub.  Supplemented on the front with a Light and Urban 350 lumen light, run on low (about 75 lumens) and in flash mode when I had more light, and on the rear with the 2 watt version of the Cygolite Hotshot.  I have side reflectors on my spokes, wore a reflector vest and two wide reflective ankle straps.  I'm pretty sure I was quite visible, as my neighbor noted on a recent evening when I rode home late.

One bummer for the day was that I wanted to ride the moderate paced 50KM version of Ride Studio Cafe's Honey Hundred ride this morning.  I had a middle of the day obligation that I needed to be home for and missed it.  The good news for me was that most of the Honey riders were out by the time I stopped there for coffee.  With a short line, I actually had time for a latte. Yummy.

Mile for today, about 50.  Miles for last weekend, just under 100.  Miles for the year: 2770.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Riding on the Clement Strada LGG 25MM 120 TPI

Don't take this review so seriously or don't read it as a review, just as one person's experience.  I don't write a lot of reviews and while I have a lot of opinions, I don't necessarily have a lot of experience to base those opinions on (about 80,000 miles of riding over my lifetime, which may seem like a lot but consider that John Bayley has ridden 20,000 miles in a year).  I did write this review of the Clement USH.  I likely wouldn't have picked the Clement Strada LGG tires if I had not had a good experience with the USH tires.  It hasn't been all roses but I had a generally very positive experience with those tires.  After I wrote that review, I had my first flat on those tires, coming on the first evening after daylight savings time so I was riding in the dark.  I since had two slow leaks, one on the 2015 D2R2.  The tires are a bit loose on both of the rims that they are mounted on - Mavic Open Pro (19 MM) and Mavic A719 (23 mm) requiring a lot of checking so that the tube doesn't burst when I inflate the tire with a bit of tube hanging out.  That said, I'm still very happy with the tires, which now have over 3300 miles on them.  I had a great mixed terrain commute this morning with a friend who was riding a mountain bike with front suspension and had to dismount.  I stayed on my bike and just picked another line.

Lovely Bike said in her review of these tires that her three most important features are speed, comfort, and durability.  Mine are slightly different: affordability, puncture resistance, durability, and comfort.  Call me cheap but $80 or $90 tires are over my budget.  And buying tires frequently will also break the bank.  Ride quality is important but I wouldn't compromise on durability over a softer road feel.  I like Jan Heine's ideas on wide tires but the Kool-Aid hasn't affected me completely, yet.  I have the 25 mm, 120 TPI version of the Clement tires.  My IF has room for the 28 mm but my current fenders make that size a tight fit.  Had I had the money for, say, the Portland Design Works City Fender, I would have tried the 28 mm.

For the record, these tires are on my IF (Independent Fabrication Club Racer).  The bike weighs about 20 pounds and I ride with 2 water bottles and carry a small u-lock on longer weekend rides, just in case I have time to stop for coffee.  I weight about 160 pounds.  I've been riding on these tires for about 1300 miles now and have a decent feeling about them.  They replaced a set of 25 mm Michelin Krylion tires, which I rode for about 3000 miles.  Those tires, in turn, replaced the original tires that my bike was built up with, 23 mm Michelin Krylion tires, which I rode for over 7000 miles.  The latter were nice tires but I blew out two sidewalls in the first 2000 miles of riding them and had a third flat on them.  Once my bad luck ended, the tires were great, if a bit fast on wear.  I don't think I ever got close to 3000 miles on a set and only then with frequent rotations.  I didn't do much better on the 25 MM but the comfort on the 25 mm was noticeably better on them than the 23 mm tires.

I'm not a super fast cyclist.  I tend towards 50-75 mile weekend rides at 14-16 MPH.  I also do shorter rides, 25-40 miles at 15-17 MPH.  My average ride on this bike this year is about 43 miles.  I won't shy away from dirt roads but then I don't look for them on this bike.  If I had the 28 mm version then I might.  I don't think I take corners all that fast but I am frequently surprised how much I lean into turns.  I inflate these tires to 110 PSI, within the 105-125 PSI that Clement recommends.

Now that you know where I am coming from, here is what I think of the tires.  First, the tires are a true 25 mm tire mounted on the Mavic Open Pro rims (19 mm width).  They are, however, a bit narrower than the Michelins that they replaced.

I read a tire review that Clement tweeted in the last year, about a ranking of tires that placed the Strada LGG at the top of the list.  The tires were described as very good, not spectacular but very affordable and a great deal for the money.  And that's about what I would say they are.

The tires just about disappear when I am on the bike.  The road feel is great with a significant damping of the bumps, making the ride less harsh (not that my steel IF is all that harsh to begin with).  Another way of saying this is that I don't feel much unless the road is rough.  That may be a product of my riding style: I slow for potholes and try to relax my body as I go over the ones I can't safely avoid.  Handling on corners is great for a cyclist like me.  I feel a lot of confidence on corners and haven't yet felt like I was about to slip.  If anything, I feel like I can lean more when I want to.  I haven't had these out in a real rain so I can't talk about wet weather handling. And the tires feel fast.  I didn't notice and change in going from the Michelin 23 MM to its 25 MM version to these 25 MM tires.  I suppose Jan might be right about speed and tire size for riders like me.

I don't ride on dirt on this bike often but the tires do well enough, especially considering the tread.  I managed to get through 3 miles of dirt and sand on a ride on Cape Cod this summer.  I was definitely cautious, checking out the sand, but otherwise the tire does well.  Also, I often test out trails that are found frequently on my local routes.  I don't take them far but the bike rolls over the terrain easily enough.  I do avoid rocks in these situations.

The wear has been fine - the tire tread and center look new, if a bit discolored by time on the road.  Flats?  None so far (knocking on wood).  I have driven over some glass and rough roads but the tires have have done well so far.

These tires are great for road rides on reasonable roads, which is about what you find outside of Boston.  I would not take these tires on my commute, which sometimes takes me on brutal road surfaces.  The Clement USH does well on these roads so no need to test the IF and the narrower Clement LGG.

What's next, once these tires are retired?  I will see if I can fit the 28 MM version of these tires with either my current Velo Orange fenders or the PDW fenders.  I would love to try the 32 MM version, if they make one in the future - I've heard that they had a test version out there but haven't seen one on the market.  That's assuming I could fit one on my bike, this one or a new bike that I have planned for 2018.  But I would be happy with another set of these in 25 MM if that's all I could fit on my bike.

[9/28/2015 Update - riding on gravel roads]  While I didn't get these as off road tires, I do end up on dirt and gravel roads on some rides.  I rode about 4 miles on dirt and gravel last weekend on this ride, between miles 40 and 45.  The tires did do well enough and I made it through flat free.  I'd be more apt to ride gravel on this kind of tire if I had the 700x32 version that saw some press at the 2015 Interbike show.

Some reviews of these tires: