Group Rides

Join us for evening indoor training rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm at the Recycle Bicycle Shop in downtown Ellensburg.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Riding for abused children

Here's a link to a nice article in the Daily Record today about EPD detective Drew Houck and his training for the Courage Classic this year.

Can the pros just figure it out?

Reading the weekly cycling news on and Road Bike Action ( there are three reports in the past couple of days of professional riders testing positive for banned substances - cocaine, EPO and Clenbuterol. Wouldn't it be nice if the professional peloton could figure out how disgusting this is for many of the fans. And these reports are just from the early spring races. Teams involved include Lance Armstrong's Radio Shack and world champion, Cadel Evans, BMC team. This doesn't bode well for Armstrong who is so anti-doping in his public statements.

Drugs have been a part of cycling - especially the grand tours - for many, many years. But, early on they were usually stimulants to keep cyclists functioning on a bike during these excruciatingly long, day after day, races. I can completely understand why they feel the need to do the doping - either keep up with everyone else or just not race. I'm sure most of these racers would be lost if they had to have a career that didn't depend on cycling.

Rather than playing this stupid game of the UCI doing doping tests and the peloton doing all they can to avoid detection - why don't they just say the cyclists can use whatever they want and if they die because of it (Tom Simpson and others) then so be it. It may sound harsh but the ridiculous nature of this game does nothing for the sport of cycling.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring professional cycling season is here

For those interested in watching the strategy and suspense of professional cycling now is the time to tune in to your television.

Many of the one day spring classics in Europe are happening along with week long stage races that lead up to the grand tours - Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelts a'Espana.

Versus on cable and satellite systems will show the Tour de France again and already broadcast the "Hell of the North" (Paris - Roubaix) race. A brutal 270 km race that includes 29 sections of broken up cobblestone pavement and is quite prestigious to win.

So far it's been a successful spring for the northwest region with Wenatchee's Tyler Farrar winning multiple races and Bend, OR native Chris Horner becoming the first American winner of the Tour of the Basque country - winning on the final time trial by a total of seven seconds.

Universal Sports on the free, over the air, antenna systems (digital channel 23-2) regularly has downhill and cross country mountain bike races and has broadcast the world cyclocross championships and world indoor track champioonships. They will broadcast the Giro d'Italia (starting May 8), Vuelta a'Espana and the world road championships this year.

You can often find many of these races available via online broadcasts from different countries. I've watched broadcasts over the web from Australia, France, Germany, England and, of course, the U.S. with Versus online for the Tour de France.

The roads are cleaning up

The county has been out cleaning intersections of the sand, rock and grit left over from the winter season. As I've ridden around the northeast part of the lower valley most intersections are now clear which means less chance for a sharper rock doing damage to your tire or the bike slipping sideways if you're leaning a little too far while turning. A few intersections where the gravel shoulder may be driven on frequently may still have gravel on the pavement - most notably Brick Mill and Fairview.

On another note, be sure to check your tire tread frequently before riding. I noticed last week a couple of small cuts in a tire that has approximately 1,700 miles on it. Without doing that check a surprise flat would be much more of an issue. As it is, I can now change the tire and ride with more ease of mind.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What a day to be a cyclist

It is days like today that make it a joy to be a cyclist in the Kittitas Valley. Temperatures by 1:00 pm were close to 65 degrees with a light to moderate wind from the south. Perfect for a nice day of riding. For some reason the traffic was light and I saw at least seven other cyclists during my mini-group ride - three of us.

The beautiful scenery in the lower Valley combined with the views of snow topped mountains make me wish more people would try enjoying the scenery via pedal power. The deciduous trees are starting to leaf out and daffodils are in full bloom in many yards.

So, get out and enjoy these days before the temperatures are in the 80's and 90's and we're more concerned about staying cool than enjoying what this valley has to offer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Group rides have started

The 2010 edition of Kittitas valley group rides has begun. Seven of us ventured out to tackle stiff winds and enjoy a ride together. We had a varying range of careers represented from cabinet maker to earthquake researcher. It was quite a bit of fun, especially with the tailwind for the last half of the ride.

Come and join us every Tuesday at 5:30 pm as we start from the bike shop in Ellensburg.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Not sure I understand

I've read a lot of articles on cycling trends, including buyers guides, the past couple of years and I started wondering whether I'm an oddball for not following the current trends and if I'm really that out of touch. I don't feel like I'm out on the fringe, but maybe I am.

I understand that modern bikes have quite a few advantages - namely stiffness, weight and aerodynamics. What I can't get over are the prices for modern bikes and components. Maybe it's all relative but a top line Peugeot PSV10 in 1984 sold for between $400 - $500 and weighed in at just over 20 pounds. This is a Super Vitus steel framed racing machine. With inflation that price would be higher now but not $4,000 to $5,000 as it seems many carbon bikes are priced at. Shoot when Bicycling and Road Bike Action magazines profile "affordable" bikes they all seem to be somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000.

I bring up carbon bikes because that seems to be where the marketing focus is let alone and it's enhanced by what the professional riders use. Steel, aluminum and titanium are still out there as viable bicycle frame materials but get little of the focus compared to carbon fiber in the cycling press. Weighing the risk and reward of large dollars spent with a cracked, broken and unrepairable frame just makes the carbon fiber too risky in my mind. Let alone the cost - I have a hard time buying a bike that costs as much as a decent used car.

Now, would I pass up a really nice carbon fiber bike - of course, not. It just wouldn't be my first option.

As mentioned there are numerous materials for bikes these days - aluminum, aluminum/carbon fiber, carbon fiber, titanium and the old stand by - steel. All have their positives and negatives. For example, straight aluminum has a reputation of being a harsh ride and is often made better with carbon forks and chain/seat stays. Steel can be a little heavier but is a smooth ride and durable and frames can usually have small bends repaired. Titanium is a nice, compliant ride but expensive to repair and new prices rival that of carbon fiber bikes. Finally, carbon fiber bikes absorb rough roads excellently and can be incredibly stiff which is great for putting more power to the roadway, but they also break instead of bend.

The average price of a decent road bike seems to be in the $2,500 to $5,000 range these days. I personally don't know a lot of people that can just drop that kind of money on a bike unless it's on credit. Maybe the phenomenon is similar to the days when I was buying revolvers. The rider has a case of the "gotta have its". You just gotta have it, no matter the price.

This winter I stood next to a rider who had a carbon fiber bike with carbon crankset, handlebars, pedals and shoes and proceeded to add carbon fiber clip on aero bars. With all that my 22 lb steel bike and me probably still weighed 20 pounds less than him. His bike may be stiffer and a little more responsive but he would still have that extra 20 lbs to overcome. My 26 year old Gitane racing bike weighs 19 lbs - not much heavier than the new carbon fiber bikes and it competes well with the newer bikes.

Call me old fashioned but I'm riding bikes that are up to 30 years old with no problems and I'm perfectly happy with them. I'll admit, though, they're not flashy or necessarily appealing to most riders but I enjoy the heck out of them. And, that's my main point - buy the bike that suits you and your style of riding. Don't bend to pressure - make sure the bike suits you. Nobody should judge you because of the bike you have. I was once told to always buy a little more bike than you need so you can avoid having to make unnecessary upgrades too soon.

Moving on to fashion - I see riders newly involved in the sport spending $75 or more for shorts and jersey's, etc. without even thinking about it. Again, my frugal side rears it's ugly head here. Now that I'm in my 40's I don't really care what others think of me or how I look when I'm on a bike. I used to, but it doesn't matter anymore. If I want to train in a t-shirt, I'll do it. I've never spent more than $40 on a new jersey or $30 on a pair of shorts. Do the more expensive shorts make that much of a difference - I'm sure they do. But, due to time constraints I rarely spend more than 2 hours in the saddle at a time so the cheaper shorts are just fine. But, you also have to take care of those close no matter the cost.

Just this last year I bought three used shorts in great condition and a used, full zipper old team jersey from Seattle for a total of $23. Two of the shorts were higher quality, thicker chamois models that easily had a few more years of life in them. I bought a used $70 fluorescent green windbreaker for $5. It doesn't really matter to me that it has grease stains on it - I wear it to be seen by vehicle drivers. My cycling clothes are functional, not flashy.

Deals are out there, you just have to be patient. And, don't forget to support your local bike shop. Prices may sometimes be a little higher but you don't have to deal with shipping and you may be able to try the clothing on first for proper fit.

I've passed many a rider who looked cool in their team kits or other expensive clothing but it didn't make them any faster. Would I ride my bike with a Radio Shack team kit, CWU team kit, etc. - yep, but not for the amount of money they sell for these days. Then again a lot could be said for the amount of money Nascar, NFL, NBA, etc. fans spend for team jerseys to look like their favorites.

The best thing about cycling is we can all do what we want, spend what we want, wear what we want. It's just sad to see the judging of others done on websites like Bike Forums or the pressure making people feel like they have to fit in or are not worthy because they don't have the latest and greatest gear or equipment. We ride bikes because we love them and we want to stay fit. The rest doesn't really matter.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yep, another vintage bike

Maybe things have gotten out of hand (in my wife's eyes) but it doesn't feel that way to me. I am thoroughly enjoying this classic/vintage bike scene. It's cheaper than having a classic or vintage car and I find it fun to see how different bikes ride and feel while on the road.

As posted at the end of February I recently purchased a 1977 or 1978 Peugeot PX10 frameset - frame, fork and headset. I also purchased some of the other parts I needed for this bike at the Cascade Bicycle Club swap meet to go with others that I already had. It took a little while for the build to happen but I have to say I'm really happy with it.

Two years ago I knew very little regarding the maintenance of my bikes - essentially how to adjust the seat, change handlebar tape and change tubes when I had a flat. It is astounding to think this mechanically challenged bike rider has gotten to the point where I can build a bike up by myself including overhauling and repacking bearings in the headset, bottom bracket and wheels, is amazing.

Simplex SX630 derailleur/Sachs Aris 12-24 7 spd freewheel

Sugino Super Mighty crankset - 52-44

Phillippe stem/CTA engraved lion handlebars

A Turbo saddle to go fast