Friday, July 29, 2011

Jump Around

There are lots of different ways to crash on a bicycle and, although the riders of the 98th Tour de France demonstrated many of them (including getting run over by a car just like any other Schmo on his way to work), the riders in the explosively popular "freeride" style of cycle riding are doing their best to invent some more. The Kokanee Crankworx wrapped up last week in Canada and now the kids are re-creating the whole thing all over again in Winter Park, Colorado. Check it out. For the CO folks out there, this event is taking place this weekend, it's free to watch, it's pretty much the biggest freeride type event in the US, and it gives you a chance to head into Fraser and enjoy the family friendly atmosphere at the Crooked Creek Saloon. Here's a video from the first slopestyle practice day. The kids are doing stuff in practice that I can't even imagine attempting in the heat of a finals-round competition, under the threat of death.

I am fascinated to hear the perspective of the course designer because it makes a great contrast to the amount of thought that goes into building jumps for the Rigid Bikes team. By building jumps I really mean leaning half sheets of plywood onto stacks of concrete blocks in the alley. I will admit though that the main reason I included this video is the opportunity to hear this guy say the words "hooter-booter".

Some people might remember my excitement about the upcoming Coors Classic reboot, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Well I am even more excited now that, according to this article in Velonews, the race will feature the Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans. Both female cycling enthusiasts and men who shave their legs will no doubt be following the upcoming announcements concerning which racers will be coming to the US for the Pro Cycling Challenge and which ones will be competing in the the Vuelta de Espana which takes place at same time. If you stay tuned, I promise to do a lackluster and poorly informed job of keeping you updated.

Have a good weekend everyone; here's a video of what it takes to win one of these contests. I'll be using this material for inspiration when jumping off curbs this weekend.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Music for your Mondays (tues ver.)

Wow. Lots of cycling stuff going on these days. Cadel Evans won the Tour de France. Crankworx went down in Canada. Something like 2,000 dirt jump contests happened.

Here is a video from TV On The Radio. Check out Tunde Adebimpe rocking a bmx bike in his best Purple Rain impression. This band has been through some challenges this year and still maintains a fantastic sense of humor. I respect that.

TV On The Radio - You from B CLAY on Vimeo.

Friday, July 15, 2011

1984 all over again

The first thing to deal with on this wonderful Friday morning is this weekend's Pittsburgh Mountain Bike Fest. If you happen to be anywhere near Western PA, then by all means, find a ride that fits your schedule and make it happen.

Further afield, there is a race taking place in France this month, and I guess it's basically impossible to avoid making mention of it here. As I have mentioned before, its hard to relate to the athletic demands and the spectacle that is the Tour de France. I would have a very difficult time just riding my bicycle for 150 miles; I simply cannot imagine the strength necessary to race that distance, everyday, more or less, for three weeks straight. If you can strip away the politics, the drugs, the drama of team personality clashes, the dominion of sponsor hegemony, and the Euro haircuts,  the major tour races really are absolutely amazing on a very basic level. Anyway, concerning the 2011 version of the tour, if you are a fan of the crash reels included in most full length action sport videos, or youtube clips that include the word "fail" in the title, then you owe it to yourself to check out some video of the tour this year. There have been so many spectacular crashes that its hard to focus on the achievement of 18 stage wins.  Using just one example, Johnny Hoogerland careened off road after a horrible car-on-bike crash, flipped, knocked over a fence post, and was severely lacerated by barbed wire. Then he got back up, got a different bike and new shorts and rode another 40km to the finish. Unbelievable.

Because I was unable to reconcile my French travel plans with the frantic demands of my work load at Rigid Bicycles this summer I will not be personally attending any of the 2011 Tour de France.  However, I am still motivated to expose my sons to the very best in cycling athleticism, so, this past weekend, I took them to see a BMX race. We had a great time spectating and followed it up with some pretty sweet singletrack mountain biking nearby. For those who have never attended a big BMX race, the racing was thrilling to watch, the event was well attended, there were recreational vehicles scattered everywhere (big street legal movable houses--not little four wheelers, or dirtbikes), there were tents aligned in a mysterious grid that resembled a redneck refugee camp for outcast 1980s metal video extras; there were corndogs, and there were hundreds of children, boys and girls, darting through parked BMX bicycles whose individual values were likely well over that of my automobile. It was a blast.  One word of caution, however: if you were not aware by now, the bright neon color schemes from the 1980s are now furiously back in style again. The NBL BMX Nationals is a nationwide series and if you happen to be within easy driving distance of an upcoming event, I seriously recommend checking it out.

The race inspired me to check out some bmx magazines from my childhood days, to search around on the intertubes a little, and to get just a bit nostalgic for the days of matching pad sets, mouthguards, and the band Ratt.

So for your entertainment, here is a video of the the 1984 version of one of these events. Although this video is seriously exciting to me, I realize I will lose most readers with this one because the video is about thirty minutes long, which is the online equivalent of a five hour double-header at the drive-in.

NBL BMX Grand Nationals 1984 from Union Street on Vimeo.

If you made it through that I congratulate you. There were nearly as many crashes in that film as this week's stage 9. Finally, in a further effort to regain my lost youth, I will be getting into some mountain type bicycle riding this weekend for the PTAG mtb fest; if you live close and want to link up, then you know what to do. If you live far and still want to make contact then keep the mailbombs to yourself.
Ride safe.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wanna do a couple lanes?

In a March posting I mentioned that I would like to see some scholarly economic research put into the cost/benefit of improving bicycling infrastructure. This week Nancy Folbre, writing for a NY Times blog titled Economix, endorsed the economic benefits of cycle infrastructure in a post titled The Bicycle Dividend. She made good points and linked to several great sources, including a 2007 paper that explores the concept more fully. I am not an economist; in fact, I still get confused when I buy something and the cashier counts back up to the amount I paid with, while he places my change in my hand. But I have firm intuition about the economic benefits of cycling. Replacing even a small number of automobile trips with a mode of transport like cycling--one that requires no fuel, very little space on the roads, requires less parking space, and actually promotes healthy levels of exercise--is a net benefit to society even after having controlled for the costs of that infrastructure. Support funding for cycling infrastructure and the world will be a better place.

Right here in Pittsburgh, there are several cycling groups doing good work to encourage folks to get into the saddle. One of those groups is the Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group, who will be kicking off a new skills area in North Park on Sunday. If you have even a passing interest in mountain biking, this will be a great way to check out what the locals are doing in our area's parks.

As for me, I have been getting in some rides on the mountain bike and logging my usual commuting miles. Riding back and forth to the workplace can grow tiresome however, and even I can not maintain Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure grin every time throw a leg over my bicycle on my way to work. Sometimes it takes switching things up a bit to get a quick jolt of motivation. Following this logic, I ususally change something around about twice a year on my daily ride. Often its the stem/handlebar combination that I switch up, but sometimes, I'll put on a different saddle, or pedals, or rack, you get the idea. Anyway, this week I put on a bullmoose bar. Now I can imagine that there might only be one other person out there who is genuinely interested in the component swapping of a 30 year old handlebar onto a 25 year old bicycle, so for the other three people reading, I do apologize. The thing is is that I love this setup for commuting. I've tried several drop bars, anatomic drops, flat bars, riser bars, mustache bars, old man Albatross bars, and maybe even one or two that I am forgetting now, but I can say with certainty that after putting the bullmoose bars on this week, I have smiled a lot more when heading to work in the morning. In the rare event that you happen to be interested in putting some of these bars on your bicycle, I believe you can get a brand new, shiny version of the original straight from Mr. Peterson at Rivendell.   

Please ignore the condition of my living room in these photos (yes, my family and I permanently reside in a 1950s era fallout shelter).

Some time ago, I asked for visual examples of the single track in your area, and then recently Pedro got in touch with an email and some images that had absolutely nothing to do with my request. Anyway, that dude is a real gunslinger with a camera so I'm going to include some of his handiwork here:

Looks like fun. Pics from his correspondence might be used for the advertising efforts of the companies WTB, Bicycle Coffee, and Mikes Bikes, so keep those places in mind, next time you need to buy some new crap.

Well, from narrow dirt threads through nature's playground all the way to wide asphalt cycling paths through the urban jungle, there seems to be plenty of reasons to get fired up about bikes these days. Find one reason and put a smile on your face this weekend. Peace.