Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Calm in the Eye of the Storm

This is a crazy, hectic time lately with so much going on, not the least of which is that we we leave shortly to host CORPScamp Death Valley and Hell's Gate Hundred. Fortunately we actually get to ride during the camp (and practice yoga every day, and hike, and socialize), unlike all the other events we host, where we only work, work, work.

So, with two hours to spare and both of us free on Thursday morning, it was a wonderful respite to head on out for a local ride. And for a quick local ride, this one is a doozy! In just two hours we ascend 3100 feet over 22 miles round-trip. The route is from "The Valley" to an epic view of the Pacific Ocean above Malibu and also back across the Valley. We're so lucky to have these Santa Monica Mountains - much of them protected by the National Park Service - right out our door!
Above: Yours truly and my Rawland rSogn, from the viewpoint at the top of Stunt Road where it intersects Schueren Road. I'm facing the Pacific, with the Valley behind me.. More about that bike.Above: Laurie has ridden the same US-made Serotta Fierté for just shy of a decade! With TA cranks and Shimano Dura Ace 10-speed bar-ends providing gearing of 34/50 by 11-28. Tyres are Challenge Paris-Roubaix 700c by 29mm, which just squeeze inside that racy frame and fork. Like my bikes, she rides a Berthoud saddle, Ritchey Classic Silver bars and stem, and Ritchey's Look Delta clone pedals.
What's wrong with this picture? Look by the curb in the middle: some moron cyclist left a flatted inner tube on the side of Stunt Road!!! He, or she, is lucky I wasn't there when that crime was perpetrated. Bogus!

Finally, here are a few shots from my Strava Page about the ride:Click on over to my Strava Page to see the map, more data, & GPS info.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Rawland rSogn, The One Bike To Rule Them All

For the majority of my cycling career, I have longed for just one bike that would do anything and work in nearly any circumstance or setting. My slogan is "any bike, anywhere," and I live by that credo, having first brought this philosophy to the cycling world with my seminal "Mountain Bikes: Who Needs Them?" article in the the February 1993 issue of Bicycle Guide. (That article inspired a teenager named Sean Virnig to start riding his Bridgestone RB-1 in the woods near his Minnesoata home, laying the foundation for a bike company he'd later start called Rawland.)

I got to know Sean in the summer of 2010 when he and his wife Anna attended our Rough Riders Rally in Marin. Besides being the most interesting people to attend, they also won Best in Show for Sean's Rawland Drakkar bike, shown above.
Despite enjoying taking nearly any road bike down nearly any road or trail, I'd always believed that one optimal bike could really be "the one bike to rule them all." And so it is, after a 22 year quest, that I am pleased to own and ride such a mythic bicycle, the Rawland rSogn. This bike will go anywhere and do it with style and aplomb. It also has two sets of wheels for presto-chango self-reinvention.
Above: I prefer down-tube shifters in most circumstances. These are 8-speed era Dura Ace shifters which Sean had in his stash and kindly donated to me. Because these don't normally mate with modern Shimano derailleurs, the cable is attached at the rear with the Sheldon Brown routing.

Massive tyre clearance, front and rear: Above you can see the Rawland set up with 38mm wide Pacenti Pari-Moto road tyres, and below you can see it with the 2.1"/51mm wide Pacenti Quasi-Moto knobbies.
According to the Rawland Bicycles website, the rSogn is a contemporary lightweight steel all-arounder. Carrying on the success of the cantilever Sogn (cSogn), the rSogn is a reissue of this versatile all-arounder, hence the moniker. The rSogn was conceptualized and then specified through a month-long, open-forum process. Optimized for 650b wheel size without toe overlap in any tire size, the rSogn features the following elegant features many have come to appreciate, in no particular order:

• 8/5/8 standard-diameter tubing: MD and ML
• 9/6/9 standard-diameter tubing: LG and XL
• Non-heat treated tubing
• Pacenti biplane MTB crown
• Fits 58mm tires (e.g., Pacenti Neo Moto 2.3)
• 63mm rake for low trail; ideal for top-load
• Low, graceful fork bend
• Takes double-ring, spindle type cranks
• 68mm bottom bracket shell width
• 1-1/8” threadless steerer
• Stainless steel cast dropouts
• Head tube reinforcing rings
• Metal head tube badge
• Rear and front rack mounts
• Equidistance fender mounts facing the wheels
• Lowrider mounts
• Seat stay frame pump peg
• Triple water bottle mounts
• Star water bottle braze-on reinforcements
• Seatstay rack mounts
• Split brake cable stops at 10 o’clock
• Stainless steel chain hanger
• Down tube shifter mounts
• 132.5mm rear spacing for use with either 130mm or 135mm hub
• 27.2mm seat post diameter
Regarding the wheels:
The stock wheels on my rSogn are 32 hole, front and back, built by Mark at Rivendell. They have Shimano 105 hubs laced with straight gauge DT spokes to Velocity Synergy 650B rims. The tyres are 650B Pacento Quasi-Moto 2.1 (51mm) knobbies. Cassette is Shimnano HG40 8-speed 12-30. I have used these wheels with various tyres for quite a few years on various bikes and 650B conversions.
The alternative set of wheels were custom built for me by Dave Prion (below), the general manager of The Bicycle Outfitter in Los Altos, CA and my friend and wheel builder since the mid-80s. These are custom "event" or road wheels. The rear features a 24 hole Chris King R45 cassette hub laced with 24 butted Wheelsmith spokes to a 36 hole Velocity Synergy rim. 12 spoke holes in the rear rim are not used. The front features 18 butted Wheelsmith spokes laced between a 36 hole HB011 6-volt 3-watt dynohub and a 36 hole Velocity Synergy rim. 18 spoke holes in the front rim are not used. The tyres are Pacenti Pari-Moto 650B 38mm. Cassette is Shimano HG40 8-speed 12-28.
Here's the full build-up of the bike:
Brand Rawland rSogn 2011 (Size ML; see size chart below) Saddle height: 77cm; Reach: 80cm
Serial # M11051227
Headset Chris King
Bars Ritchey Classic Silver: 44cm width, 31.8mm O/S center section, 128mm Drop, 73mm Reach
Stem Ritchey Classic Silver, 9cm
Brk Levers Sram S500 road brake levers
Brakes Paul's Neo-Retro cantilivers with Paul's Moon Unit cable hangers, Paul's Rack Adapter bolts, and Paul's Funky Monkey front cable guide (and Nitto rear cable guide)
Saddle Berthoud Aravis, titanium rails
Post Ritchey Classic Silver, 27.2, 350mm length, 25mm Offset, 43x38mm cradle
Shifters Shimano Dura Ace 7402 8-speed down-tube
Front Der. Shimano Dura Ace 7700 (9-speed era)
Rear Der. Shimano XTR M971 (Recent 9-speed era) with JagWire inline cable adjuster
Bottom Bracket Shimano Isis
Crankarms Ritchey 175 with 34/50 rings; Arms custom polished and laser-etched by Tom at Perfect Perforations.
Pedals Ritchey Peloton (Look Delta style)
Chain Sram 8-speed
Cages Nitto R (3)
Tape Ritchey "cork"

Click here for a full slideshow of the bike with nearly 50 images.
Thanks for the amazing bike, Sean and Anna!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pay Attention (Trust Your Gut, not always your GPS)

Out exploring yesterday, we came up on this sign. Of course, this was after coming back down the private road behind the sign that we'd accessed via a long, uphill, and unmarked trail. When we hit that road at the top of the trail, my sense of direction told me we needed to head back down and, lo and behold, we'd been on private property ever since topping out on that that road, I mean driveway. Seeing this sign, and it's admonition to not always believe one's GPS while navigating, reminded me of how we repeatedly tell people who are traveling to Death Valley for an AdventureCORPS event to NEVER follow a GPS there. We state that emphatically because people have literally died while attempting to reach Death Valley on a dirt road route, courtesy of their GPS, despite the fact that there are four excellent paved roads which lead into Death Valley. (Thankfully, none of these people were en route to joining us.)

After yesterday's excursion, there was this gem of a story on the ABC News about some Japanese tourists who literally drove into the ocean in Australia because their GPS told them to do so. Here's a photo:

Is all this dependence on technology making people just plan stupid, making them lose their sense of direction, their awareness of what just seems and feels right?

This morning's yoga class was an obvious opportunity to work on "awareness" and I really got a lot out of Garth's class, but I find it helpful - and more logical - to just be aware all the time. This is especially critical while out exploring and always while moving quickly over varying terrain, whether by foot, bicycle, or motor vehicle.

As the saying goes,
"Pay Attention!"

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jim Swarzman Memorial Membership Drive Update

"10,000 Thanks to AdventureCORPS for Sponsoring the Jim Swarzman Memorial Membership Drive." (Re-post from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Blog)

Last summer and fall, our friend Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc. sponsored a matching membership drive in honor of fallen rider Jim Swarzman. Jim, a great friend of LACBC, was killed last Spring while riding his bike in San Diego County with his fiancee and a friend.

For every contribution to made to LACBC during the Jim Swarzman Memorial Membership Drive, whether through membership or donation, AdventureCORPS, a promoter of endurance cycling and running events including the world-famous Furnace Creek 508 and the Badwater Ultramarathon through Death Valley, promised to match those contributions up to $10,000. Chris spread the word to the athletes who ride in all AdventureCORPS events, including the Death Valley Century and Double Century, the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic held near San Diego, and Hell's Gate Hundred. Jim was a several-time veteran of AdventureCORPS events and well-known and liked in the ultracycling scene, so his untimely and senseless death really hit home for his fellow endurance riders. Their desire to help keep these types of unnecessary tragedies from happening again, with AdventureCORPS' backing and support, led to the most successful membership drive in LACBC history.

With your help, we were able to raise over $23,000 during the Jim Swarzman Memorial Drive on memberships and donations alone! As promised, Chris Kostman recently presented a check of $10,000 to our Executive Director Jennifer Klausner on top of the $23,000 raised (see below)!

Thank you to Chris and AdventureCORPS for their generosity and support! Thank you to the many of Jim's friends, family, and fellow endurance riders who have contributed! Thank you to all who donated and/or became members during the drive! And thank you to everyone who helped spread the word about making LA County a better, more bike-able place!
A short reply from Chris /, pictured above with Jen Klausner of the LACBC: It is an honor to support LACBC's bicycle advocacy efforts in memory of our friend and Furnace Creek 508 veteran Jim Swarzman. Let's never forget Jim, nor stop fighting for safe streets for ALL road users!