Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Bike Commuting - Minneapolis, Minnesota

I openly dispute the common assertion that Hell is hot. Let me explain. 

Scenario 1 - Hell is Hot

Let's suppose that scorching heat is, in fact, an accurate description of the netherworld. You are pedaling along, parched, searching for water, until at last your body dies and the heat consumes your flesh, leaving behind a heap of sun-bleached bones. Sounds reasonable. 


Scenario 2 - Hell is Freezing

Now let's suppose that the opposite is true -- that Hell is cold. Again, imagine yourself riding along, muscles so numb that all you can feel are dry bones grinding against each other at the joints. A true die-hard, you press on. You approach an intersection...Red light...Thud. That's right, you fell over because your footwear has been ice-welded to your pedals. You could not release. There you lie, horizontal, in the unplowed bike lane as beautiful people in Range Rovers and Mercedes pass you by, thinking to themselves, "what is that underpaid, uneducated adolescent doing taking a nap on the side of the road? Get on the sidewalk!" Fair observation. However, instead of your flesh being quickly consumed by heat, carnivorous birds, and bacteria, your body is deep frozen. Everything is preserved, especially the pained and tortured look on your face, much like Otzi here.





Your misery is perfectly preserved for generations as your descendants attempt to understand the reasons for which one of their ancestors would attempt to conquer such a hellacious clime. All of this is negated, however, if your corpse is somehow suctioned into the upper atmosphere by an ominous Polar Vortex. Then you're like Moses

44 & 17

44 is the number of days below zero so far this winter (through Feb 11, 2014). 17 is the number of consecutive days below zero through the same date. For the majority of the world, this arbitrary threshold of 0 degrees Fahrenheit is roughly equal to negative 18 centigrade. This means that going from negative 17 centigrade to negative 18 centigrade is somehow noteworthy. Simply put, Minneapolis has been ridiculously cold this winter; I'd argue Hell.

Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder

You may have heard the old Scandinavian saying, "there's no bad weather, just bad clothing." Following I will share my successes for avoiding a Mosaic translation via an ice-welded-pedal-induced intersection tip over. All of the items below are used in my lowest temperature bracket, which is anything 10 degrees F or below (negative 12C). 


Head/Face




Core/Arms/Hands




Lower Body




Feet


  • Sock Liner - thin Keen merino wool liner
  • Sock - Keen/Smartwool/Wigwam merino wool higher-pile sock
  • Shoe - 45Nrth Wolvhammer SPD


That's a lot of gear. The objective is to block the wind as far away from the body as possible (outer layers), warm with mid layers, and wick moisture with base layers. I find that I'm plenty comfortable in temps down to 25 F below zero (with wind chills of 40-50 below). Now at least stop and help that poor, half-frozen, underpaid adolescent out of the bike lane and on to the sidewalk. 



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Salsa Casseroll Fork Rerake

Ever since I first started pedaling the Casseroll, I noticed some strange front-end handling characteristics. The bike is designed with a small front rack and, presumably, a small amount of cargo up front. Even with no load, the front end was floppy (that's the best way I can describe it). After investigating the issue, I learned that the front end has an unusually long trail, or horizontal distance between the point directly underneath the front axle and the virtual extension of the headtube to the ground.

 File:Bicycle dimensions.svg

Here are the measurements of the stock Casseroll:

Head tube angle 73 degrees
Fork rake 50mm
Original trail  54 mm


Toe overlap was another piece of evidence of, perhaps, not quite enough rake. Granted, I run with full-coverage fenders, but the overlap was significant. I reached out to a local frame builder, A-Train Cycles, to petition assistance. Alex was clear about expectations and agreed to take on my project. Huzzah!

After the re-rake of the fork, the measurements are approximately as follows:

Head tube angle 73 degrees
Fork rake 62mm
New trail  41.5 mm


With the fork removed and cleaned, it was ready for delivery.

My Velo Orange fender had pull-through, so I opted to slightly rotate the fender toward the rear and drill a new hole.

Ta-da!
 
Fork re-installed post re-rake.


Ghetto bike workstation. I do what I can.


With the fender rotated toward the rear, the mudflap is about 1/2" from the ground.

The best piece of evidence I have to illustrate that the re-rake project was effective is that I can ride the bike without hands. Previously, such an activity would cause the front end to dive to the side and was nearly impossible. I feel that the bike tracks much more true. Toe overlap is aaaaalmost gone, which is fantastic considering the fenders. Slow speed balance is also improved.

I was a little concerned that the axle-to-crown height would be shortened such to have a negative effect on brake placement and/or fender clearance. From what I can tell the result is minimal shortening of ATC height, so I don't anticipate any issues come winter and the ensuing installation of studded tires.

So far, so good on the re-rake project!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Brompton World Championship 2013 - Goodwood Motor Circuit

Welcome to the 2013 Brompton World Championship! 


Below you will find a plethora of images and links to tell this year's story from my point of view. Let's face it, you only look at the pictures, anyway, right??


Reassembling the bike after gate-checking my "mobility device" or "inline wheelchair" from Minneapolis to London. I removed the saddle, seatpost, hinge hardware, and pedals, placing the parts in my checked luggage. This streamlined the already small folded Brompton for ease of passing through security screening. 5 minutes tops to reassemble. I used a buckle strap to hold everything together and covered it with the Brompton Travel Bag.

Arriving at Goodwood in my attire for non-dress-code Saturday's Treble events (Sprint & Eliminator)

At my side is my lovely wife Lisa. She was a great cheerleader and photographer. We were also celebrating our 10-year anniversary, so HOORAY!

At the entrance to the legendary Goodwood Motor Circuit.

And into whom do we run post-haste? None other than the wonderful Susan and Corey Todzy.

Shortly thereafter we joined up with Luke and Sophie. Luke runs the incredible Calhoun Cycle shop back home in Minneapolis, and his crew organized the BUSC for the past 2 years.

Warming up on the track.

Arriving at the festival.

Beckie Alexander, the US champ!

We headed out to get loose. I had some pretty bad plane legs, arriving less than 24 hours prior.

From L to R, last year's treble champ Richard Spencer, Richard Chew, Susan Todzy, Michel (photobombing Swiss champ), Me.

Returning from a good warm-up lap.

 Sprint (500m) - Treble Event #1

Sprint competitors were lined up 500 meters from the finish line in groups of 12. The sprint portion of the track includes a chicane, where I got diddled a bit as another rider cut in front of me in the 2nd turn, causing me to use my brakes to avoid a collision. Finished strong at 0:39, ~2s out of qualifying for the finals.

Trying to catch up!


Medal #1

Oxygen
I found Abdel, the champ representing Mexico! Check out the Mexico championship video, it's INSANE!


Race # with timing chip.

#1,2,3 for the ladies sprint, right to left.

Chatting post sprint.


We found this clever canine-carrying contraption: a basket affixed to a Brompton bag frame.

We had quite a bit of time between events, so the lady brought some quilting projects.
Mmmmm, digestives. My faves have caramel and chocolate.

The Eliminator - Treble Event #2

Lining up for heat #2 of the Eliminator, a unique, 2-lap event. After completing 1 lap, the slowest riders are eliminated (via motorcycle-based race marshal) at various checkpoints, leaving only the fastest to finish the 2nd lap.

 
And we're off!
After the 1st lap, I was pulling the lead group of 5 for a bit.

Had to work hard to outsprint at the finish to hold #5.


The ladies are off! They had no qualifier, so their race was the final.

Susan raising her hand in victory! Win #2 for the day!




The French Arnaud brothers, Tristan, Quentin, & Timothy. One lives in London, the other Switzerland, the other France.

Sprint final results. #24--not terrible, even for being diddled!

5th in my heat placed me securely in the top 24 to qualify for the Eliminator final!

Quite the chainring modification.

Double chainring up front.

Greg's lovely polka dot paint scheme. A friend of his has the negative version to match (white frame, red dots)

 
Aero wheels.

 
After a couple hours, the men's Eliminator final!

Off we go!

Tight group after the first lap. The pace setters, Gavin Morton and Richard Spencer, seemed to deliberately keep the pack together, forcing a sprint finish. This caused problems, however, after the first lap. With some attacks, the group would thin out, then catch up and bunch up in a group again. This happened a few times until finally a few guys went down. I was right behind them, and was able to avoid hitting pavement, hop over some limbs, and work to catch back up to the group. I had to work pretty hard to close the 100 yard gap on the main group, but was able to catch up and finish with the final bunch. I didn't have much left to sprint to the line.

Strong win!


Finishing 11th, not too bad after avoiding carnage and working to catch the group!

Brompton World Championship - Treble Event #3

The Wild-West-inspired outfit was unveiled on the unsuspecting public. The hat looks ridiculous affixed in such a manner to the helmet, but it stayed on the whole day!

There's a new Sheriff in town.


Complete with holster, Brompton toolkit, and Brooks saddle spanners. Oh, and cowboy boot inspired socks.

Luke and Sophie, looking race-ready and dapper!
Beckie and her steed.

This gentleman, from Czechoslovakia, had a fantastic getup. No idea what it means, but it was great!

He was dancing later on. With his Brompton. O.o

Simon, Brompton Switzerland wizard.

The Brompton BumbleB.

I'm not sure exactly why, but this made me hungry.

The Gomes family

Susanna, a vibrant member of the Italian championship team of this year's BWC.

Receiving instructions on how to ride awesome.

Daggum.

Boot socks. Gringo legs.


And we're off!! We were set up in multiple waves, starting down the pit lane to cross the timing mat on our way to complete 4 laps.

Luke heading out.


The Smurf couple! No Gargamel, sort of a letdown.

Mr. Singh won best dressed.

Here we are completing the first lap (you can see my ridiculous hat above the fluorescent officiator's head).

First lap down, three to go.

2nd lap.

3rd lap.

And the finish!

Luke finishing stylishly.

Susan and Beckie looking all too happy!

All I need is a piece of straw in my teeth.

Abdel (Mexico), Ville (Finland), Me (USA), Jose (Portugal)

Completely sweat through. Not sure about the view of the backside. Yikes.

The Japan group with their lovely lined up bikes. So colorful!

The women's treble winner, Susan!!!



Folding Competition

Taking off the jacket and holster.
 

I was diddled by the SUPER tight knobs, and ended up in 2nd place. Respectable.



The Italian champs Susanna & Marco.

USA! USA!

Love the face Beckie! So much fun hanging out with your whole family!

This gentleman won best dressed, well done! I ask you, however, did he ride with a holster equipped with tools? Deep question, I know.


C-lassic.

How the bike looked gate checking. At Heathrow, a young lady in the security line peeked under the cover and said, "Is that a Brompton??" Nervously, I responded, "yes, aren't they great?" She was super excited and was telling me how her friend works at the factory, and how she is waiting for her custom-ordered bike soon! Such a different (better) experience than in the US with these bikes...

With the cover off.

Hinge hardware removed.

Strapped down tight.
Overall, this has been an experience of a lifetime. I got to spend a few days with my wife, race a bike that I love, meet people from all over the world, visit a country I had yet to visit, and create memories that will linger in Morse lore.

HUGE thank you to the Brompton crew, including (but not limited to), Mr. Will Butler-Adams, Katharine, Clare, Angela, Ross, and Ed Rae (US rep). 

Here's to next year! Cheers!

Links to many other reports of the weekend events:

Calhoun Flickr Group
Brompton's recap (video)
Race Results
Wallace Alexander's Flickr Group (2012 US men's champ)
Brian Jones Flickr Group
The Guardian
My Orange Brompton
British Cycling Chief Executive Ian Drake (video)
Nutcase Helmets - event sponsor (featuring Sophie Breen from Calhoun!)
Brompton Bumble B
Rollapaluza Brompton Roller racing results
Ella's wonderful blog post
Brompton Bike Fan Flickr Group

Video links:

Sportive Photo
Dale Applegate video of start
Russell5641
Peteplowman1 video
Alasdair Gillies on-the-bike video
Mlcamb325 on-the-bike video
Sodarockful video of Michael Hutchinson taking his 3rd straight win