Thursday, November 29, 2007


I just noticed that I have not put a new blog posting up since Thanksgiving Day. There a couple of things that have been keeping me busy. Unlike BrettOk who has been taking part in Underground Mountain Bike Races I have been living large in Richmond (actually Glen Allen), Virginia. Since the days are short there is not much to do here in the evening except dream about cycling. It is looking like I am going to be happy with one ride a week and be elated if I get two rides in on the week from now till spring.

One of the things I have been doing is rating places such as restaurants, bike shops, parks and grocery stores on a site called Yelp. I found this site from this blog that I discovered from the other networking site I use called Linkedin. It turns out that both Yelp and Linkedin are both related to PayPal. It is amazing how small the world is sometime.

It turns out that this yelp site is kind of addictive. Since I travel quite a bit it could come in handy when I am looking for some place to eat, stay or shop. It does work much better in the larger cities were almost everything has been reviewed. Out in the suburbs and smaller cities there are less reviews. I am trying to do my part. In fact the only reason I have been leaving the hotel room other than to hit the gym is that I am often looking for something to review.

Check out yelp when you get a chance.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I ended up changing my plans and not going to Syracuse for the holiday. I am having a hard time getting back to Syracuse for a visit. All the traveling for work makes it hard to travel on the weekends. I am going to just have to tough it out one of these days.

I usually try to avoid business travel on the week of Thanksgiving. In the past I have shutdown my project (no travel and work from home) because it is usually not a good use of project funds to fly into a city for only two days of work (everyone always wants be be home by Tuesday evening even when they travel).

Things kind of worked out for me. I finished my project in Richmond last Friday. However, there is a new one starting on Monday but I needed to take some vacation time so I told them I was going to take Wednesday and Friday off with Thursday as a holiday. I then made the suggestion that it probably was not worth the airfare for 2 days of onsite work so it was agreed that I would work from home on Monday and Tuesday. It worked out well since I need to get my final report done on the project that I finished last week.

One of the good things was that while the weather was miserable on Monday and Tuesday it started to clear up as my vacation was starting. I rode 46 miles on Wednesday. I added a flat loop to my usual ride that extends it a couple of miles. For some reason the ride wore me out and I ended up taking a nap in the late afternoon.

Since I knew today was going to be busy getting the Thanksgiving meal prepared I was planning on getting up early and getting a ride in. No such luck. I knew it was going to be unseasonably warm (high of 70) so I wanted to take advantage. I did not get on the road until around 1o AM. I wanted to be back around 1 PM if possible. I ended up riding about 33 miles.

I passed some other riders on Wednesday but not too many. I did see the guy on the sea foam green (Team HealthNet) Giant riding the opposite way as me on 520 in Rumson. There were some other riders out today as well but mostly singles out for a pre-feast tune up. I expected to see more groups.

A lot of the High School Football teams played today. Most of the games have little meaning for the season but are town rivalries. Middletown South played Middletown North and Holmdel played Keyport. The game was at 10 AM on Holmdel's Roggy Field. I stopped by to catch the score and I saw Keyport score to make it 14 - 7 in favor of Holmdel. I did not stop for long since it was just about half time. Holmdel won and finished the season at 10 - 1. They lost to Rumson - Fair Haven on Friday which knocked them out of the championships.

It is supposed to be a little colder tomorrow. I am starting to get used to the cold weather. The warm weather kind of freaked me out today since I was not sure how to dress for my ride. I actually ended up wearing shorts and I put a long sleeve shirt underneath one of my short sleeve jerseys. Turned out to be the perfect combination.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Owen Wilson, Swobo Bikes and People Magazine

The women in my household get People Magazine on a weekly basis (they also get US Magazine as well). I was thumbing through this week's issue and I noticed that actor Owen Wilson was riding a single speed Swobo bike while his new girlfriend walked beside him. I guess it kind of shows my priorities since I probably noticed the bike before I notice Owen Wilson or his new girlfriend.

I have been on the Swobo site several times because they make some cool riding clothes (including the Breaking Way Tribute Jersey). I have looked at the bikes a couple of times but I did not recognise the model so I went to the website and found that it is the Swobo Folsom. While at first glance it appears to be a Fixie; the specs state that it has a coaster brake.

Maybe I should go ahead with my plan of opening up a bike messenger culture store in Red Bank, NJ. Use the trendy fashion to fund the actual bike riding. I am not being sarcastic. Just not sure if retail is for me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It is getting close to the end of bicycling season and the ski season is starting

I got a 42 mile ride in on Saturday. If I knew that it was going to be one of the last days of riding I might have gone further. The weather has been very kind to me this fall and I think I have been given a false sense of security. It looks like it might be the only ride for a while.

Right now my gear will allow me to ride comfortably down to the low 40s. Couple of changes like a long sleeve Under Armor shirt underneath a my long sleeve jersey, a pair of long fingered thermal riding gloves (I am now using glove liners under my open fingered riding gloves), a heavier hat (beany) and I should be able to ride comfortably into the mid to high 30s.

However, I think my rides will be somewhat shorter. Since the start of Saturday's ride was not fun at all. I was not feeling it and it certainly did not feel like I had rode hard all summer. The first climb up Holland Hill Road as tough and I did not get warmed up until about the 10 mile mark. Things felt much better after that point.

One of things I have noticed on my bike is that feels like the something is rubbing against my tire as I get to the end of the run. I notice it on the slight upgrades. I thought it might be either the rear brake touching the rim or the chain getting gunked up. I have checked for both. I have cleaned the chain and realigned the rear wheel. I am starting to think that it is just that I am tired at the end of the ride and I notice changes in grade easier. I might also be that the wheels on the Langster are not the most aerodynamic and slight gusts could be causing some drag. Now that the season is over it may be time to get the Langster into the shop for a tuneup.

These folks know how to have a good time. Last week Velonews had and article about the World Single Speed Championships in Oregon (Think this is the sponsoring club). There were some interesting pictures of some folks having fun on the podium and not taking things to seriously. Over the weekend I was looking through my links on this blog and I went to the Raleigh Commutes blog link that I have had for sometime (not really sure how I found it) and there were the same folks that graced the Velonews photo. For more photos check out the following links: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3.

Several of the close ski areas opened this weekend. Last year I signed up for the daily conditions report from Belleayre Mountain in New York. The reports starting coming again last weekend and the one on Thursday said that it was snowing. Bellearye is about 2.5 hours north of where I live. Hunter Mountain and Windham are in the same area. Hunter is supposed to be the snowmaking king but last year Bellearye was still making snow in late March long over all other other mountains had already rolled up their hoses. I guess it helps to be owned by the State of NY.

I am planning on going to Syracuse, NY for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Still trying to decide if I should pack my skis just in case the opportunity presents itself. The mountains in the Syracuse area have still not opened so I would have route my trip through Eastern NY (Catskills). It probably is not going to happen. Although I am going to drop my skis off for sharping and waxing (I really should learn to do this myself but it only costs a couple of dollars and is probably not worth the effort) this week.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

4 Weeks traveling to Richmond, Virginia and 4 Delays Returning to Newark

I have been flying back and forth between New Jersey (out of Newark) and Richmond, Virginia for the last 4 weeks. Originally this was going to be my last week but I am now extended for several months. The project was a good one but the return flight has been ugly. I have been delayed by several hours every week. If I did not have to pass through the Washington, DC area I might think about driving.

As I was finishing up the paragraph above we got the call to start boarding. I guess they decided to herd us on to the place so that we could sit on the runway for 60 plus minutes because that is exactly what we did. The flight is suppose to leave at 5:05 PM but so far it has not even come close. I got home at about 10 PM tonight.

My luggage was the first one off the carousel. Second time it has happened in the last couple of weeks. I guess it is the simple things because that event can usually make my day. I read an article once that stated that one of the reasons to travel is to experience the thrill of having your luggage come off first.

Hopefully I get a chance to do some riding over the weekend. Not sure if the weather will cooperate with me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Project Bike

I recently posted that I was looking to get a full road bike like a Specialized Tarmac. However, as I ride my Specialized Langster I think I really do not want a road bike as much as I wanted an upgraded version of the Langster. Unfortunately, there are not really that many options unless I want to ride a pure track bike. Which means I have to ride fixie, give up a rear brake and ride without water bottle cages attached to the frame. I am pretty sure this is not for me.

So far the easiest way for me to upgrade is to go with a full road bike. I think that I would miss the fun and challenge of riding long distances with a single speed. However, I have not been willing to give up and I have been spending some of my spare time researching and exploring options. The spreadsheet below is my first attempt at configuring and pricing out a new single speed bike.

I saw several IRO bikes when I was in Boston and the Jamie Roy model is what I am looking for. It has several things that I like about the Langster. It is not a converted track frame but is designed to be ride as a single speed/fixie road bike. It has braze ons for water bottle cages and is drilled to take a rear brake. This frame comes in a 53 which is probably a better fit than the 52 Langster I am currently riding. I could also go with the Soma Rush Frame as well.

I think the $279.00 includes an steel/aluminum fork. I am thinking that I might like to go with an Easton Fork. The question I keep coming back to is "Does it make sense to put a $200 fork on a $279 frame?" However, I could probably save around $100 if I went with another brand but that does not get me that much closer to $1000 which is about where I wanted to be.

I am thinking of going with the FSA Carbon Pro Crank. I saw one on a Langster Pro at a bike shop in NY. I thought about saving some money by going with a Sugino 75 but it turns out the savings is minimal and would still not get me that much closer to $1000. The crank on my Langster is one of the things that I really want to replace. I could put a Sugino 75 or a FSA crank on it but that would be about $300 (including a new bottom bracket) and that is about half what I paid for the Langster in the first place.

For the brakes, brake levers and headset I am thinking of going with Cane Creek. My Langster has a Cane Creek headset on it. Of course there are other options but the price would not change.

Most of the other components selected are place holders. I would most likely use road drop bars since I am not sure I want to ride long distances using a track bar. The Easton bar looks like the way to to. I could probably save a couple dollars going with a different brand but I can make that decision later. Same situation with the seat post. I may have under budgeted for wheels but it should even out since I think I over estimated on couple of other items.

The biggest issue that I am going to have is that I do not trust my mechanical abilities. I may have to work with a bike shop so that I can get someone to put it together. It might be fun to put together myself. I could also save some money by sourcing the parts from multiple stores on the Internet. I could put my Park Repair Stand to good use as well

I have all winter to think about it. For now my Langster is a great bike that I am having fun riding.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cars with the most Bicycle Unfriendly Drivers

One of the things I have been doing while I ride is keeping track of what kind of cars cut me off, come too close or refuse to yield to me. While this is far from a scientific study it become obvious at to my mind that the drivers of some cars were worse than others.

It always seemed like the drivers of certain makes, models or class of vehicle were more prevalent to pulling a bonehead move that endangered my life. I also noticed that some cars seemed to be more bicycle friendly as well.

My number one car with the least bicycle friendly drivers was the Toyota Prius. This surprised me and I wonder if it holds true in California as well. There are not nearly as many Prius in New Jersey as there are in California but it got to the point that whenever I saw a Prius coming I had to be extra careful. I am not sure if it was done on purpose. I did notice that many of the Prius drivers tended to be on the older side. I used to think I wanted to get a Prius but now I am starting to rethink. I do not think it is a Hybrid thing since I did not pickup on any of the other models being especially bad drivers.

In reality the Prius was probably not number one for being the least bicycle friendly drivers but they got the top spot since you would expect that a Hybrid driver would be more willing to share the road with the bicyclists.

The actual vehicle with the least bicycle friend drivers has to be what I call a SUCK. The cars that are half SUV and half Truck. The Cadillac picture below is one of the more popular versions in the area that I live but there are many others. The drivers of these types of vehicles think nothing of driver twice the legal speed limit and then making a hard right hand turn in front of you. They seldom give any room on the road and certaintly do not slow down to give you room to get out of the way. Since a lot of the riding I do is through New Jersey Horse country these types of vehicles are very common (gentleman farmers/horse breeders) on the quiet back roads.

I do have to admit I would probably drive one of these types of vehicles but I cannot stomach the less than 18 MPG that they are rated. They are great cars to have if your are active and need to transport things like bicycles, surf kayaks and skis as well as 3 or 4 friends.

In the same category as SUCKs are the pickup trucks driven by tradesmen. I swear guys like to see how close they come without hitting you. The mirrors these pickup trucks can really put a scare into you.

I think that cars with the most bicycle friendly drivers are Jeeps. Of all the Jeep models I think the Commander has the best drivers of all. They always seem to give you extra room and let you move out of the way. They never honk.

While I was never a big fan of the Commander's styling I would now consider owning one. I think most of the people who drive these cars are generally outdoor types who would also be on there bikes if they did not have to drive somewhere.

As I said I would not mind having a SUV/Truck and I think the one I would probably get would be the Honda Ridgeline. Too bad it does not have a Hybrid engine available. The last time I looked at a Ridgeline it only had an 18/22 MPG (I am too lazy to go over to the website to check). Over course you can get a good deal one now since gasoline is heading back to $3.00 plus per gallon.
Last week I rented a Chevy HHR. I liked it some much that I got one again this week. I think this would be a good car for me. It would be good for transporting my bike and skis. It is comfortable enough for 4 people. However, this week's rental (pictured above in my client's parking lot) does not run nearly as well as last weeks even though it only has about half the miles.

At this point I am going to stick with my 1999 Infiniti G20 with 97,000 miles. I am thinking I can get another 10 to 20 thousand more miles out of it. I think I need to invest in a trunk mount bike rack though.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Nice Fall Ride

We had a Hurricane pass by on Saturday so it was not a good riding day. I saw a rider out on Laurel Ave in the afternoon and I thought about putting my riding clothes on and getting a short one in. I decided against it and went to the gym instead.

However, the great things about Hurricanes is that they usually leave some awesome weather in their wake. Today was a great day. I was looking at my Weather Bug to see what the temperature was going to be. As the the temps rose from the low to high 40s I decided it was time to get out on the road. I decided that if I left at 9 AM I would have plenty of time to build a good coffee base before heading out.

I bought some Polartec glove liners last on Monday so I knew my hands would stay warm. I also picked up a Under Armour Helmet Liner as well.

When I left the house the sun was shining and it was an A day. It got a little cold in the shade but once I got into the sun I could feel a sweat building up. I was actually thinking that I would not have minded if it was a little bit coulder.

I started out with my usual Holmdel - Marlboro - Colts Neck ride. When I get to Laird road I have decision to make. I can turn left and head back home (25 mile ride) or I can turn right and head out on to my 45 and 53 mile loop. I am actually bored with the ride up to Laird Road but there are some good climbs that I can really work.

Once I get out on to Rt 537 the route is relatively flat. The biggest climbs are the Garden State Parkway overpasses. As I was heading into Little Silver I decided that I would take Rt 520 into Sea Bright to see what the waves were like after the storm.

The photo above was taken from the Sea Bright bridge. This is really the only point that I can see the water. Once I go over the bridge and turn left on Rt 36 the view of the Atlantic is blocked by the massive sea wall that the US Corp of Engineers built to hold back the Ocean.

RT 36 heads north along the Jersey coast. I decide to enter Sandy Hook National Park for a little bit since I want to get a better look at the water. The surf fishers were out in force. I took a little self portrait. Not exactly the most flattering picture.

I got back on RT 36 and began the climb up Mt Mitchell overlook through Highlands, NJ. I have been doing this climb a lot and it is not as challenging as I expected. It is longer than the Holland Road climb but I do not think it is as hard. I think it is because I enjoy the drop down Ocean Blvd into Atlantic Highlands so much that I do not mind the climb.

I usually ride through Atlantic Highlands and up into Locust but I remember that the last time I road the bottom part of Navesink Road it was kind of rough since it was being prepared for resurfacing. Since the clouds were starting to roll in I decided to head back through Leonardo and Middletown.

I was returning back home on the lower part of Holland Road. Another rider on a Giant TCR with team decals came up behind me and kind of startled me. The rider apologized. I explained that I was just finishing up and I had zoned out for a brief moment. We talked for a few minutes. I was thinking of riding with him for a few more miles but I had a feeling that I was needed at home so I made a right on Laurel Ave road the last two miles home (the feeling was correct since my daughter wanted to go into Red Bank with one of her friends).

I did two sprints around the lake to make it an even 45 miles. I am think I might try to get a Century in before Winter sets in. I am thinking of riding my 50 mile loop twice. I would have to get up early on a Sunday to do it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bike Snob NYC and Chicago

I picked up the December 2007 issue of Bicycling Magazine to read while I flew from Richmond Virginia to Newark, New Jersey. There was an interview with the guy who maintains the blog I read the interview while I was sitting on the plane waiting to push back from the gate (flight was the 5:05 PM Continental direct to Newark). I figured that I would have to wait to get home before I could check it out. However, it is now 6:36 PM and I am sitting in the terminal writing this blog entry (RIC has free wireless internet).

It turns out there is even a Chicago version called

They are both interesting reads. Lately, Bike Snob NYC has been beating up on the Specialized Langster City Models. While the Langster Seattle kind of interests me I am not sure I would add it to my bike roster. I do have to agree. I think the 2007 Langster offerings were right. However, it appears that the 2008 models have more interest. The Peddler in Long Branch, NJ still has the 56 Langster that originally caught my eye. They also have the 54 Langster Comp that I dream about. So I guess single speeds are not a big seller in this part of New Jersey.

Here are a couple more blogs that cyclists might find interesting.

Eric "Roscoe" Ambel - Knuckleheadnyc Blog - Guitarist (Joan Jett, The Del-lords, Steve Earle), Producer and Fixie Rider

Check out the links to the Blogs on the right hand side of this blog.

If Bicycling Magazine wants to interview me I am more than open to it. I would even use my real name.

Finally made it back from Richmond at about 9:30 PM. I could have driven faster. The Jet Way at the gate was broken so it took us an extra 20 minutes to get off the flight. The second broken Jet Way since August. Both times on Continental.