Sunday, April 16, 2017

ride plus

Well, I've had a few chances to ride the Trek Dual Sport +. I rode with some friends last weekend, quite a bit younger than me, and the Shimano STEPS motor helped level the field a little bit. On Monday of last week I commuted to work. I'm still working on finding the best, safest route so I can continue to commute. And I enjoyed rides by myself on a couple of occasions lately when it wasn't raining.

One of those rides was this morning. It was a little cool, but not cold, when I headed out on a route that takes me to the western edge of town. On a weekend morning there's not much traffic, and it's pretty flat, save for a couple of steep climbs. I wanted to see how the "+" would feel on those climbs I'm so familiar with. Also, I took a minor detour to go down, and back up again, one of the hills I like to ride to train for climbing in Colorado. The sign at the top states that it's 8% grade, and I have measured it at a half mile long.

Overall, I got a brisk 26 miles in. The assist was nice to keep my speed up on the flat sections without knocking myself out. It also really helps to get off the line fast. If I got myself into the right gear before I stopped at a stop light, it only took a couple of pedal strokes to get up to speed again. And on the climbs, the right gear, the right cadence let me maintain a speed anywhere from 15-18 mph. It was even possible to increase my speed as I climbed!

As I rode I couldn't help but think about cadence. Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett used to talk about the difference between the cadence of  Jan Ullrich and that of Lance Armstrong. Ullrich used his massive thighs to turn the cranks in a high gear. Lance would spin the pedals in a much lower gear. Time after time Lance was able to pull away from Ullrich at a critical junction in various stages of the Tour de France. Okay, maybe blood doping had something to do with it, but Lance was exerting himself aerobically, which was easier to recover from than the buildup of lactic acid that must have accompanied Ullrich's efforts.

While I've never been even a poor facsimile of a professional racer, I have tried to be aware of cadence and have tried to spin the pedals rather than muscle through the big gears. As I'm getting used to riding the DS+, it's becoming clear that to get the most out of this bike, you've got to pedal more like Lance, and less like Jan.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

new ride

It's been a while since I posted here. There's been little to report about resurrecting the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. I have registered to ride RAGBRAI in July, but there's been precious little riding since last fall. That is going to change.
My bike shop at Scheels in Overland Park, KS has started carrying a selection of Ride+ bikes. We have men's Dual Sport and women's Neko dual purpose or hybrid bikes. We have a men's and women's Lift, and a men's and women's Electra Cruiser. The Electras come with a Bosch battery/ motor system, and the Treks come with Shimano STEPS (Shimano Total Electric Pedal System).

The idea behind "Plus" bikes is that you can get a little help when you ride your bike. You can ride without the system turned on, or you can choose from 3 or 4 different levels of help. You still have to pedal, but the motor can help you maintain your speed going up a hill, or keeping a brisk pace without working too hard on the flats.

To get us up to speed on these bikes we've had training sessions and chances to take them out and ride around the store. In addition, one person from each store was picked to ride one of these bikes as much as possible over the next 4 months. I was picked/ volunteered to fill that role for our store. Last week I brought home a Trek Dual Sport Plus, in my size, with the intention of riding it as much as I can, and commuting as much as possible.
I took the bike for an inaugural ride today. It was cold and cloudy, but I bundled up and headed out to see what I could learn. The main thing is that this is a bike. A 1x10 drivetrain gives you plenty of gears to choose from for most terrain, but you can't just put in in the biggest gear and expect the motor to help you go fast. You have to be in a gear that you can spin the pedals, and allow the motor to help maximize your effort. If you do it properly you can maintain your speed, or even increase it as you climb a hill. I found one stretch of maybe 1/8 of a mile at about 7% grade, and from a stop was able to get up to 17 mph by using the right gear on the bike, and the highest level of help from STEPS.

I'm really looking forward to riding this in some different places, as well as tackling my 8 mile commute. I added a rear rack, and a Bontrager Ion R/Flare City Light Set, and am thinking about a rear trunk bag. If you're interested, I'll be reporting on the bike and my status as a new commuter. And hopefully there will be more stories about RAGBRAI and future Colorado rides.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

what's next

This was supposed to be a farewell letter to CRMBT. After 10 years 2016 was going to be the final version of the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. I was writing about how we first came to entertain the idea of riding a bike tour in the mountains of Colorado. About driving to Gunnison in 2008 and spending the week being hot, cold, stiff, sore, scared and exhilarated! About all the places this tour had allowed me to ride including Trail Ridge Road and Independence Pass, Mount Evans and Pikes Peak. All the mountain towns and ski areas I would have never visited if not for this tour.

I wanted to thank everyone who had anything to do with this tour for making it so special. I've gotten to know, consider friends, the organizers and volunteers, the boys of SherpaVille, Scott the mechanic, and the members of Rocky Mountain Sports Massage. And riders from Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Wisconsin, Texas, as well as Berkshire, England, and many more places.

But, you know what? We're not ready to let go. Glenn got a few of us together to discuss what we could do to get this tour going again. It's early, but we're trying to help grow the numbers enough to make this a viable thing. I'll keep you updated, but if you've ever wanted to do a bike tour in Colorado, I think you should do this one. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

evergreen to idaho springs

A large group of us headed out by about 7:00am on this Saturday morning, the last day of this apparent last Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. Almost across the street from where we camped we were on Squaw Pass Road and climbing. It was a cool but sunny, very pleasant start to the day. The road was good, the shoulder wide, and the views pleasant, though once in the forest, you couldn't see very far. I didn't even take my camera or phone out for pictures. These are some shots from a few years ago:
By the time I reached the top of Squaw Pass, descended for a bit, and climbed again to the high point on CO 103, Juniper Pass, the weather had changed. Clouds had moved in, winds had increased, and the temperature had dropped quite a bit. The forecast had stated rain and thunderstorms were on tap for Mount Evans, and when I reached the aid station in the campground parking lot across from Echo Lake Lodge, you couldn't see the mountain for the clouds.

Having done the climb up Evans in 2010, I wasn't as motivated to suffer the weather as I would have been. I could have climbed as far as I wanted to, and turned back at any time to coast back down.  But my heart wasn't in it. I really wanted to warm up, so I walked over to the lodge and joined Thom for coffee and pancakes. We had a nice visit, leisurely breakfast, and when we were sufficiently warm, we layered up and headed down toward Idaho Springs.

Was it prudent judgement of the weather and my abilities? Or had the week beat me down into a tired old man? Probably a little of both. Other than passing on Evans I rode all the miles of the tour. And it was hard! It was apparent that as I get older, doing these kinds of rides will require even more training to get myself into shape. But it was also fun! Great people, great tour, and great scenery to be seen all over Colorado!

 My next ride in CO might be  a one day affair, like the Copper Triangle or Triple Bypass. I still need to do RAGBRAI. I would like to do BAK again, or ride across Nebraska. But eventually I'll have to get back to Colorado. It's been a great ride!

Friday, September 9, 2016

estes park to evergreen

We woke to a cool, cloudy morning in Estes Park. Then we climbed. Right out of town we climbed. Then we went down, then we went up. The highway south out of Estes Park is called the Peak-to-Peak Highway. And we spent the day riding from peak to peak.
Lily Lake is right off the road.
The clouds remained all day but never led to precipitation, so we were able to enjoy all of the sections of the road that had been resurfaced. There were a few rough sections, but they weren't too bad, or too long.
And there are many spots like this, that just look like the highway falls away from you like a ride at Worlds of Fun. This is my kind of roller-coaster.
A group of us had decided to find a place for lunch along the way. Black Hawk and Central City seemed like the right location. They are small casino towns just north of I-70. I had read about Black Hawk several years ago when they banned bicycles from their streets. In Colorado! Several groups sued, and the law was thrown out, but it was obvious that there was no love for cyclists in that area. The city had routed the tour around town as much as possible, adding a couple miles and a short, brutal climb, just because they could.

But we stopped and ate in the casino restaurant anyway, because it was there. Then we fought debris in the shoulder on the Central City Parkway. We battled gravity on the bike path and frontage road that got us to US6, and wrestled with too much traffic on US6 until some nicer, quieter roads got us to Bergen Park and Evergreen. It was a cool evening that passed too quickly, then it was off to the tent for a last night in the cool mountain air, on the last night of CRMBT 2016.