Thursday, July 31, 2008

Throwdown: Share the Road T-shirts

Well, to be completely honest I didn't really have anything to review today, so I was going to review the Capo Phantom Socks that I've been wearing for the past 4 days. Then, magically it seems, this wonderful package arrived straight from the 15 Rides T-Shirt Shop. I'm a happy man!

I don't need to do an actual product review, but I can tell you that my shirts rock. They're good quality, fruit of the loom t-shirts, and they ship in a couple days. You can see them at the 15 Rides T-Shirt Shop, which is where you can buy them as well. Or if you have questions you can e-mail me at: Eventually I'll add some more designs and bring printing in house, but for right now this is what works for me. Go there! Buy!!! And remind Motorists how much room they SHOULD be giving you at a minimum!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fifteen Rides Now on Twitter!

In my continuing effort to dominate the cycling blogosphere I have opened a twitter account. you can find it here: 15_Rides...

If you're not familiar with Twitter it's a really cool SMS based feed blaster. Basically you can "Tweet" what your doing to those who are following your twitter account. You can also set up TwitterFeed, which allows your blog to be fed directly to your twitter account. I recommend everyone go out and start a twitter account and start following this immensely entertaining blog.

Next up... Facebook.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New York City Police are Nice, Touchy-Feely.

This video has been making the rounds today on the Web, and has even provoked commentary from and sports blog for the mildly retarded With Leather...

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't always agree with Critical Mass and their, um...methods. Regardless of that we are working for the same thing, greater respect and awareness for cyclists on the road, so I have to give them some respect. What is definitely not ok though is what the cop does to one of the straggling cyclists as he rides by. I'm not sure, but I think that might be something to the tune of Assault.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Throwdown: Super Secret Sexy S...uh... Wheels

Growing up I didn’t ever listen to my parents. My parents were totally square, practical people who didn’t get loose that often or seem to enjoy the finer things. At least that’s what I thought when I was younger since my parents didn’t seem to have a lot of the fancy stuff that other parents had. What I learned later in life, was that there was actually plenty of fancy stuff, but it was moderately practical fancy stuff that was a lot of fancy for the money. After one really big, stupid impulse buy I figured out kind of what my parents were doing. Now I’m all about getting the most possible bang for my buck... almost to the point of obsession.

I’m a classic cheap skate, but I’m a practical one, I like to get MORE than my moneys worth as money comes to me in short, small and all too infrequent spurts. I’m not swayed by trends, and I don’t get all geeked about the new cool wheels that you saw at interbike. What I do get geeked about is something I know I could fix if tragedy struck. I’m sure you’re totally in love with your Rolf Prima wheels, but what happens if you’re just riding along and BANG you break a spoke? Have fun walking home. AND Have fun riding something else for 6 months while your wheel makes its way to and from the factory. I like wheels that any crotchety old bike mechanic in the central valley could fix in an emergency.

For the Death Ride a highly classified prototype wheelset from Torelli made its way onto my bike through my secret industry contact who’s identity must remain forever shrouded in cloak-and-dagger-esque mystery. Although this wheelset appears very similar to their current Bormio Wheelset there are some significant technical differences. First of all there has been substantial weight shaved from the Bormio Wheelset which weighs in around 1530 grams for the pair. The prototype set weighed in at 1380 thanks in part to the 380 gram rim. Attached to these rims were Pillar Aero-Blade spokes, which resembled a traditional bladed spoke, only with a narrower width. The front wheel was a 20 spoke radial laced wheel with Alloy nipples while the rear wheel was a 24 spoke, radial non-drive side with alloy nipples and 2 cross drive side with brass nipples. Hidden inside the hubs were 6 sets of Ceramic Hybrid Bearings with ABEC 5 steal races, Grade 5 ceramic balls, and kluber lube. Any educated bearing buyer knows that ceramic bearings are all about the lube, and if you know your lube you know that Kluber, like the Shamwow, is made in Germany, and you know the Germans make good stuff.

What’s great about these wheels, is they’re dripping in practical frugality. If you light your cigars with c-notes and drink Chopin vodka over Grey Goose simply because it’s twice as expensive these wheels probably aren’t for you. Nay, these wheels are for the savvy rider. These are for the rider who knows his or her stuff, the rider who appreciates the finer things but doesn’t want to spend 1500 dollars to potentially dump it down the drain on a Saturday training ride. My 5 or so regular readers know how much I love to trade in Rumor and Innuendo, but for this I’ve been asked not to and I’ll gladly oblige. I won’t comment on what has been discussed for pricing on these wheels but I’ll tell you this... it will be very, very reasonable. The most important feature for me aside from potential pricing is the fact that these wheels run relatively standard spokes and nipples and can be repaired by any half qualified bike mechanic or DIY bike owner with even the most basic spoke wrench. If you break a spoke you’ll spend a minimal amount replacing it, and you’ll be able to find that spoke at just about any bike shop. The practical magic doesn’t end there, but that’s really where it matters the most.

I did two rides on these wheels. One, short quick out and back with about 700 ft of climbing that lasted about an hour, and The Death Ride. From the first few feet on these wheels I could tell a significant difference from my current wheels which are American Classic CR-420’s. There was almost no drag what so ever and the wheels actually seemed to be pushing me forward. The little bit of climbing I did was completely effortless. The morning of The Death Ride I gave the wheels a quick once over, topped off the tires and rolled out. The first test for me was going to be the steep section of Monitor. Usually I can get my rear wheel to flex and wiggle when I stand up and peddle out of the saddle. When I got to a section of 12% grade on Monitor I stood up and fired it up. Surprisingly, did the wheel not flex, it seemed to ride stiffer than it did when I was in the saddle while maintaining a respectable level of responsiveness. I was riding with a couple guys who I’ve ridden with before who consistently ride away from me at other events, and on monitor the tables were finally turned. Half of the Death Ride is climbing, so essentially 67 miles is going up. In this time I always felt like the wheels were very stiff and quick to respond to any change in gear, cadence or power output. Descending on these wheels was very comforting. They didn’t have a lot of give and transferred a lot of the road up and through the frame but they were stiffer than my mom’s vodka tonics in the turns at 35-40 miles an hour, and quite frankly that’s the way it should be. I’m not much for descending at anything over 45 mph but I was pushing close to 50 mph on these and I felt completely in control. The braking surface seemed to interact with my brakes in a friendly but assertive way, giving me even greater confidence in the bends. Through out the whole ride I felt incredibly liberated, like a weight had been lifted.

Disappointingly I did have to give the wheels back, and since then I’m back on my American Classics. Frankly every time I ride now I feel like I’m pulling a sled full of boulders. Despite my constant phone calls and letters Torelli has refused to loan me the wheels again, a decision they will pay dearly for... for keeping me away from my precious.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

"You are Being Detained for Reckless Driving**"

I love short training rides. What's great about a 60-70 mile training ride is that you leave at 7:00 a.m. and you get back before noon, liberating the whole second part of your day for whatever it is you want to do. Unless of course you have a run in with the law....

The headline of this post was the penultimate moment of this particular training ride; a ride that took us through the valley, out to Topanga Canyon, Down PCH Over Sepulveda and then back to Griffith Park. A ride that should have only taken 4 hours but instead took 8. Fortunately for me and the 5 other cyclists in our group it wasn't a statement that was directed at any of us. Despite that, we did witness it's utterance, and were involved in the transaction that led up to it having to be said. Here's what went down:

As we were descending Topanga Canyon on the beach side past Fernwood Canyon and with PCH in view Matt, Christian and I were breezed a bit close for comfort by an aggressive driver in a cream colored Mini Cooper. Both Matt and Christian were in front of me and as I looked up I could see that Matt had slammed on his brakes, and Christians trajectory was extreme and taking him off the road... thankfully into the parking lot of the furniture store on the right. The Mini Cooper was making an aggressive move across the inside left turn lane, right turn lane and into the parking lot, all without using his turn signal. To me it looked as though he was trying to get around Matt and Christian to make a right hand turn, had bumped Christian as he was veering right without his signal causing Christian's trajectory to be what I had described earlier. The guy skid stopped into the parking lot, rolled down his window yelling and cussing about something like "he hit my car" and promptly started to call the police. Ironically, the police were already there...kind of. After some yelling, and making his sense of entitlement, and lack of humanity or compassion really, really obvious the driver started yelling at Matt, who had been nearly pushed into the ditch on the side of the road. This is when Matt, a retired Glendale Police officer, said the greatest thing I've ever heard on a ride. "Sir... I want you to understand that you are being detained for Reckless Endangerment".

Oh!!! I nearly peed my pants with excitement when I heard him say that. I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but this blog is about cyclist's rights on the road; and well, this was just awesomeness to the 10th degree to me. Now, it's not like Matt whipped out some cuffs and wrestled the guy to the ground and sat on him while we waited for the CHP to show up...Nay, this moron thought he seriously had a case so he gladly waited for the CHP and he kept insisting that Christian "Assaulted him" and "Vandalized his car" and that he was being "Mobbed and Threatened" by us. Have you seen a group of cyclists before? Is there anything threatening about men in tights? As much as I might want there to be, there's not. I did see some damage on the guys car, but it was conducive to what would happen if a car hit you as it was merging across lanes and your foot was in the upstroke of your pedal stroke and your shoe made contact. I didn't see any contact but I would assume this is what happened by Christian's Trajectory.

What was appalling to me was that this guy kept insisting that he hadn't done anything wrong. He never apologized to Matt or Christian for nearly running them off the road and potentially doing serious bodily harm, he simply kept whining about his car and the 150 dollars worth of damage that would have to be buffed out. He kept saying he didn't see us, despite our brightly colored jerseys and position on the road and that he didn't do anything wrong, but out of the blue he was assaulted by Christian for no reason.

From talking to Matt, Tim and Juno after we had regrouped it became clear that this driver had breezed Tim and Juno farther up the road, and was accelerating when he got to Matt. From what I saw, and from what everyone described, it seems like this guy was trying to turn right and whipped around Matt and Christian, accelerating to make it between them and the cars that were in lanes ahead of us to make turns, and in so much nearly pushed the two of them off the road as he had to move quickly to the right to make his turn.

When the CHP got to the scene the guy gave his side, we all gave ours. Now, I'm no genius but I would assume that a law officer is going to listen when another law officer, retired or not, says "Here's what happened". And I'm glad if he did. Matt is a stand up guy, a straight shooter who seems to align himself with Honest Abe. When it came time to give my side of the story it really seemed to me like the CHP officer understood that what we had here was a case of an aggressive, reckless driver who was trying to push us off the road so he could get to his really important... whatever it was... probably hair appointment. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but what he did isn't just reckless endangerment, it's assault with a deadly weapon and if this guy really wants to take Christian to court over his paint, well, good luck with that gentle sir. I'm sure the jury will totally buy your story that a cyclist, all 180 pounds of man and bike, was totally threatening to you in your 3000 pound car that you used in an aggressive and combative manner with total disregard for human life.

I did get to talk with the lady who owns the furniture store, and she was extremely nice. Her wonderful and kind personality totally reminded me of my friend Stacey. When she said "I see people driving aggressively here all the time, It's scary. Just the other day there were 3 cyclists here, with a car and the police...everyone just needs to calm down and have some patience and compassion" I couldn't have agreed more.

My question to aggressive drivers is this: Are you saving lives? If your driving a Mini Cooper, or 100% of the other cars on the road that don't have sirens then the answer is a resounding NO. If the answer is no, then slow down and be patient. Despite what your over-inflated engine driven ego may tell you, your car, driveway, dinner, or hair appointment is not more important than a human life.

Here's the map of the ride. If you come across any cream colored Mini Coopers watch out, I'm willing to bet that guy's got a pretty big chip on his shoulder now since he "Didn't do anything wrong", and probably feels like he is being punished unfairly.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Death Ride: The Official Death Ride Ride Report About the Death Ride

So yea, The Death Ride.

It's a ride and it's named after something that sucks that makes people scared. Hence one could assume that it might be slightly more difficult than your regular ride through your neighborhood park. There were a number of things that I wasn't really prepared for with the Death Ride, despite all the preparation. Some of those things were good, some not so much...

The first thing I wasn't prepared for was having another rider I've ridden with to do the ride with. More so I was less prepared for said rider to be a stronger rider than me, which under normal circumstances would result in me pushing myself harder than I should, thus making the ride harder than it should have been. But low and behold, I get a call from none other than Chris Bryce, the downward thrower of the hammer from Orange County. "Hey, you're doing the Death Ride right?" next thing I know we've got 10,000 dollars worth of bike magically packed into the back of a Prius along with a cooler full of super-go-hard caffeine juice, water, a bag of Doritos and a Mcdonald's Ice Coffee and we're on our way to Northern California. I would soon realize that I was ill equipped to even do the ride as I'd forgotten my helmet and lights, which are required for those starting earlier than 5:30... yes, I was off to a great start.

When we arrived in the sprawling suburban landscape one intersection town that is Markleeville, I wasn't prepared for how strikingly sublime and beautiful the town is. Despite it being a bit lax on services, Markleeville is embedded in what could be the most beautiful part of the country I've been to in a while. The views and vistas rivaled Rockie Mountain National Park. Although there weren't as many snow covered peaks and craggy, exposed rocks there was ample beauty for the eye to behold. Additionally Chris and I drove in over Ebbets Pass, a part of the Death Ride route, and we were both really impressed by the landscape. If you want to go somewhere to visit, but don't want to be around the hordes of humanity that gather at King's Canyon or Yosemite, Try Markleeville, or any part of Alpine Canyon for that matter. Oh, I also forgot my packet, so I got to stand in line with those who just "showed up" to get the packet I paid for on the 12th of March. Oh well.

Fortunately for this 130 mile ride that included 15,000 ft. of climbing I managed to get the "getting lost-ness" out of my system before the ride started. We got lost driving around Angels Camp as we were looking for highway 4, another small outcrop of awesomeness. When we arrived in Markleeville I did a quick warm up ride to test out the special equipment I had acquired (review of special equipment will be in this weeks Throwdown) and I couldn't have been more pleased. I rolled in to finish the ride at 5:30 p.m. satisfied, and frankly a little shocked at how good I was feeling.

Markleeville lies at 5500 ft. above sea level. I live at 300 ft. above sea level. Needless to say I was a bit pensive about the adjustment in elevation, but I tried not to think too much about it. Markleeville is surrounded on all sides by soaring peaks, much like Estes Park in Colorado. The difference is the roads taking you to these peaks are narrower and more treacherous than even some of the jeep trails in Colorado. The summits that are included in the Death Ride are Monitor Pass at 8,310 ft. Ebbett's Pass at 8,730 and Carson Pass at 8,580. This route takes you up and over Monitor and Ebbett's twice and Carson once. You get ice cream if you make it to the top of Carson.

We started the ride at 6 a.m. it was 45 degrees when we rolled out. We happened across my friend Nick from Mulholland Challenge, a descending maniac who resides in Ventura County. We rolled through Markleeville and hit highway 89, the beginning of the climbing up Monitor Pass. The climbing started Moderately and Nick, Chris and I took the road together. When the road started to pitch up to 12% I lost contact with the two of them as I rode ahead. I was feeling stellar! My wheels were spinning clean and smooth, and my heart, lungs and legs all seemed to be working beautifully despite the rapidly thinning air. I was astounded by the vistas as I rode up the mountain. People kept telling me "Wait until you see the view on the downhill!" I couldn't imagine anything being better than what I was already seeing! Chris, Nick and I regrouped at the first check point on Monitor. We started down the hill together but that quickly changed. Nick is a fearless descender, and watching him drop down the mountain like a rock I knew he'd be hitting speeds in the low 50's. We crossed a false summit on Monitor, and the road opened up , then turned a beautiful sweeping switchback to reveal an incredible high mountain valley surrounded on three sides like by rocky jagged mountains that shot up out of the sublime green pasture. It was absolutely awe inspiring. Despite it taking me about an hour to get up Monitor Pass it only took me 20 minutes to get down the other side. Despite it only taking me 20 minutes to get down that side it took me another hour to get back up and over. The trip over Monitor pass was basically a 25 mile out and back from the junction of highway 4 and highway 89, but it was an amazing, trying and difficult out and back.

Next came the part of the ride I was kind of sort of prepared for. We rolled up the false flat of highway 4 towards Ebbetts Pass. By prepared I mean we had driven down the section we'd be riding up in the Prius, so really I wasn't prepared at all. Chris managed to get ahead of Nick and I by utilizing his trade mark "throw it down" move on the false flats leading up to what would be the 3rd most difficult part of the ride. Chris was long gone by the time Nick and I hit the climb. We started going up the road, passing large groups of riders as we weaved our way up the one lane road. Then we stopped to piss. Then we continued passing groups of riders had already passed. The road leading up to Ebbetts pass was harrowing. It was steep with lots of switchbacks and winding s-turns. We just kept climbing, climbing and climbing with no refrain... It was awesome. When we got to Ebbetts we met up with Chris, refueled and headed down to the 2nd to last checkpoint. Now I said the first part of Ebbetts was the 3rd hardest part of the ride, and that's true. The back side of Ebbetts was steeper and less forgiving the the front side, but just not as long. It was the 2nd hardest because we hadn't made it to Carson pass yet, Carson may not be the hardest on it's own, but after 90 miles and 10,000 ft. of climbing it would prove to be pretty difficult.

So yea, Carson pass. By this time we'd lost Nick so Chris and I headed up highway 89, by the car, passed it and up to Woodford. We turned right onto highway 88 and headed up to Carson pass. It wasn't a tough climb at only 5-8%, but after 90 miles and 10,000 ft. of climbing, well... it was tough. So we made our way up Carson Pass. Chris and I were both demoralized and beat to hell. We'd been on the road since 6 a.m. and it was 3:30 or so. But we just kept climbing, we kept going up. We came up on this recreation area after having been climbing for a while and I could see the road go up, turn left, then go up more. It was crazy, looking up the road knowing that this was the end, but... it seemed so far still. We got to the top of Carson Pass and it was smiles and handshakes, laughter and hugs. I think that neither of us could believe that we made it. Despite the fact that we had come here for the Death Ride, and that we had been on the road for 106 miles it still seemed kind of surreal that we had made it, and we really hadn't even made it yet, we still had 20 miles or so to go from the top of Carson Pass. But the work was over. We got our Ice cream and signed the poster. I actually didn't get any ice cream as I gave mine away. After signing in and eating we were ready to head out. The only problem is as we were getting ready to head down the mountain mother nature had other plans. It started hailing like nothing I'd seen since I'd lived in Colorado. It hailed for a good 30 minutes. So we sat and waited it out. When the rain cleared we rolled out, but the rain started again and so did the hail. We'd committed to getting down the mountain, so we did, at 40 mph, in the pouring, hailing rain.

20 minutes later we'd gotten back to Turtle Rock and finished the ride. We arrived, grabbed a couple beers and got some BBQ. We later hung out at the Prius/Roadside Campsite, drinking beer and talking about how great it was to be out on the open road, out in nature and in a town where you could camp on the side of a freeway without worrying much. We crashed out, got up on Sunday and rolled out.

Here is what the route looks like in Google Earth, along with the profile of the route from my Garmin 305 before it died at mile 103 or so.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cycling hits the Mainstream Media... in L.A. atleast.

I received three e-mails this morning regarding articles from Los Angeles news sources that all pertained to cycling in one way or another. If this doesn't speak to the rapidly expanding cycling community, then I don't know what does...

It's obvious to everyone with the IQ of a trained monkey and up that cycling does some good. How much good is debated by News Anchors on Fox and Right Wing radio hosts; but for the most part folks seem to agree that riding a bike is good for your health, good for the environment, and good for the pocket book. So it's no wonder to me and many others that more and more people in L.A. are riding their bikes to get to work, to run errands, and to take care of the business of every day life. One of these articles address this trend right off. Click here... no wait... here to read that article. It's pretty good and fair, and talks about the shift in the market from buying gas to buying bikes... a good shift, in my humble opinion.

The second article was about West Hollywood lifting the "Sidewalk" ban for cyclists. This is a bad idea, and here's why. It gives further fuel to motorists who believe that cyclists don't belong on the road, It puts pedestrians in danger, and it puts cyclists at greater risk. Keep cycling on the road, where it belongs and instead pass legislation to create more, and more effective educational programs for drivers and cyclists. You can read this article here, and keep in mind that this is a perfect example of media bias against cycling.

The last article is an unfortunate reminder just how bad it can be for cyclists. The driver in this article Should be locked away for a long F**king time.
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Half Way There...Death Ride is a comin' !!!

Well, Here we are in July. July 4th weekend was kind of my mental half way point, and I'm happy to say that I'm still alive and kicking it. The past couple weeks have been somewhat slow when it comes to the news, but after this week things will be back on pace again. July 4th weekend consisted of an awesome camping trip to Silverwood Lake, Northeast of Los Angeles. If you ever want to go on a camping trip with some great climbing at altitude, Silverwood Lake should be your choice...

I brought my bike, but with the exception of rolling around the lake with friends it stayed leaned against the tree most of the time. I did go for a quick 20 mile ride to Crestline and back though. That ride was crazy. I rolled out, and the road was nice and wide with a big shoulder. Once I got past the lake the shoulder disappeared and the road went up and up, and up, and up... at 16-20%. Holy Crap, man, between the gradient, the thin air and the 7 beers I drank the night before I was having some trouble. I got to Crestline and turned around... I had had enough.

Back to the half year thing, so yea, I'm half way done. Here's the rides I've done so far:

The Stagecoach Century
Tour de Palm Springs
Solvang Century
Mulholland Challenge
Cruisin' the Conejo
Heartbreak Hundred
Ojai Century
Ride around the Bear
L.A. Wheelman Double Century

So basically, 6 more to go. After the Death Ride it will be 5, one a month at this point. The Death Ride is really my Penultimate effort, 129 miles and 15,000 ft. of climbing. After this it's going to be easier centuries that I'll start riding faster...hopefully. I'll be leaving Friday morning early, with the hopes of getting a "First Come" campsite close to the start. If not I'll be doing some Roadside Camping. I'll be bringing the EZ-UP, some chairs, and a cooler full of beer and some food. So if you're going to be at the Death Ride look for the Dirty '95 Camry and say hello!
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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Yay! T-Shirts...Kind of.

So, in an attempt to get some traction with the T-shirts, and to bounce some ideas and see what people think I've started a Spreadshirt t-shirt shop. Basically it lets me have an online shop, where you can go and buy the Share The Road t-shirts. Designs are kind of limited, because I wanted to keep the cost down. If you want a t-shirt, all you have to do is order one...

My plan is to use this to gauge what people think of some of the different designs, and then to streamline the line. If you like the designs, order a shirt, if you don't like them please don't order one just because your my friend and you want to help me out. I do appreciate that, but I really need to see what works and what doesn't. All shirts are available in various colors except the "Pro-choice" shirt. All are available in Men's and Women's. If you see something you like but would like it in a different style shirt let me know and I'll see if I can make it happen and what the price would be. Here's the link: 15 Rides T-Shirt Shop.

Here are some images of some of the designs. The "3 ft." shirt has the "Share The Road" logo on the front, and the 3 feet arrow on the back. The "Pro-Choice" Shirt is only available in Gray and White.

If you have any other questions don't hesitate to e-mail me at

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