Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Trimble carbon 29er?

I reported yesterday that Orbea will introduce the world's first 29 inch carbon fiber mountain bike this year. I've since heard from a couple of sources that Trimble has built some prototype 29er carbon fiber mountain bikes. Does anyone know more about this bike?

One handed quick release wheel removal

BikeBiz.com had this bit of news about a new quick release system from Montague -- builders of military folding bikes. BRaIN has more details about what appears to be a true innovation: a wheel quick release that allows the rider to adjust, secure, or remove the wheel with one hand. According to the BRaIN article, "the Montague System looks like a conventional quick-release system, but it automatically clicks the wheel into the fork and simultaneously locks it into place."

Pacific Cycles announced they will use the Montague Wheel Fastening System in 2007 Schwinn, GT, and Mongoose bikes. Before anybody snickers about "Wal-Goose" bike shaped objects, recall that GT bikes are sold exclusively in the IBD channel.

I searched through the US Patent Office database for this invention but couldn't find anything. I did find a number of patents pending and recently awarded to Thomas Ritchey for mechanisms for folding and take-apart bike assemblies.

There's a Pacific Cycles design center in my city. I'll drop by and see if they have any details about this new quick release doohickey.

Tour of California and 518 tons of carbon output

A common observation by bicycling environmentalists is that large cycling races produce tremendous quantities of greenhouse gases. The Tour of California, for example, will generate an estimated 518 tons of carbon dioxide from support vehicles, media vans, and cars and trucks driven by spectators and fans.

To offset this, Clif Bar announced they will purchase enough renewable energy credits to offset the CO2 produced during the Amgen Tour of California as part of their sponsorship of the eight day race. According to Clif Bar, the Tour of California will be the first-ever climate-neutral professional cycling race.

Other steps Clif will take to reduce the environmental impact of the Tour of California include:

    * Establish on-site recycling and composting at the daily Healthy
    Lifestyle Festival

    * Offer Cool Tags at the Clif Bar booth in the Healthy Lifestyle
    Festival. Through a Clif Bar partnership with NativeEnergy, race
    spectators can purchase green tags to offset the amount of CO2 they
    generate driving to and from the event. For each $2 Cool Tag(TM), an
    attendee can offset approximately 300 miles of car travel

    * Offer a bike valet area to encourage people to ride bikes instead of
    drive cars to the race

    * Provide organic CLIF(R) BAR energy bars and organic CLIF SHOT(R)
    BLOKS(TM) energy chews at rider feed stations and for spectators. Clif
    Bar has made a companywide commitment to organic agriculture. Organic
    foods are made without synthetic pesticides, benefiting the environment
    and the people who eat them

    * Provide eco-friendly recommendations to hospitality companies and other
    vendors in the Healthy Lifestyle Festival. Suggestions include using
    biodegradable consumables such as plates and paper products

    * Bring the Clif Bar Biodiesel Bus to the race to raise awareness of
    cleaner burning fuels that reduce consumers' impact on global climate

Regular readers of Cyclecious know I'm dubious of many "green" technologies that do little to nothing to reduce actual fossil fuel usage, but what Clif is doing is still cool. And I used the word "dubious" twice in one day!

Also mentioned at Groovy Green. I'm surprised Treehugger hasn't mentioned this yet.

Tour deBris: New Orleans by bike

Kenny Bellau, a Category 1 racer from New Orleans, led a group of about 50 riders on a 60 mile New Orleans Adventure Ride to highlight the devestation that still exists in large parts of New Orleans.

Photos from the ride reveal scenes of destruction akin to bombed-out Beirut in the 80s. Bellau encouraged riders to take photos and spread them far and wide across the Internet. “I want to get the word out that we’re annihilated down here,” says Kenny Bellau. “The clean-up effort is only 20 percent done on the houses and 10 percent on the businesses.”

Bellau stayed behind in New Orleans during and immediately after Katrina to help with evacuation and rescue.

Read and see more about the ride:

Ken Kifer bike pages

One of the best resources on the web about bicycling is Ken Kifer's bike pages. Tragically, Ken was killed by a drunk driver in September 2003, but his web site lives on as a memorial to Ken through the efforts of his friends. Because Ken is no longer around to promote his site, I thought I'd give it a mention today.

Orbea carbon 29er

Spanish bike builder Orbea introduces the world's first (AFAIK) carbon fiber 29 inch mountain bikes to the U.S. market. The Alma 29 features one-piece carbon fiber monocoque front triangle and high modulus carbon to create a 2.9 pound 29 inch mountain bike frame. Complete Alma 29s will start at about $3000 and will be officially introduced at the Sea Otter Classic on April 6.

I've been dubious in online discussion about the demand for 29ers. Last year's run of aluminum Orbea 29ers, however, completely sold out. It should be interesting to see what the 29er market does this year.

Gee, BRaIN, what are going to do tonight? The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to ride a bike! Narf! Zort! Tags: 29er, mtb

Monday, January 30, 2006

Giant Bicycle to sponsor Tour of California

Giant Bicycle, Inc. announced Friday that it has inked a deal to be an Official Tour Supporter of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California. The race, made up of eight individual stages, will begin Feb. 19 in San Francisco and end in Redondo Beach on Feb. 26.

Team T-Mobile will field a full eight-man squad, captained by 2005 World Time Trial Champion, Michael Rogers. The team will race the event aboard Giant’s latest road bike offerings, including the formulaOne Composite-equipped TCR Advanced.

“We’re thrilled to be a sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California,” said Jon Stierwalt, Giant’s marketing promotions manager. “The event is a perfect fit for us, with a great demographic, a perfect location and a stage finishing right in our own backyard.”

[ Press Release via BRaIN. ]

Question: Will the Tour of California be televised at all?

Boulder Cycle Sport: Best new bike shop

Boulder Cycle Sport shop
Dwayne Bergeron and Brandon Dwight of Boulder Cycle Sport.
Bicycle Retail and Industry News will present its Best New Bike Shop in America award to Boulder Cycle Sport in Boulder, Colorado on Tuesday. I asked part-owner Brandon Dwight how his shop was selected.
   "One of our primary goals is to make everyone feel welcomed and comfortable when they walk through our doors. We treat every customer with the utmost respect and strive to offer the best customer service possible. From riding, racing, sports medicine, wrenching and advocacy, each member of our staff has been integrated in the cycling community in some capacity for more than 15 years each. People come to us for advice because we offer the honest truth about products, training and more. From bike and components to nutritional products and apparel, we believe in all the products we carry and pass this along to our customers.

   "BRaIN asks industry reps to vote, and apparently some voted for us!"
Although Boulder boasts about a dozen bike shops catering to a population of about 100,000 people, the team at Boulder Cycle Sports felt there's plenty of business for another bike shop. This has been born out by the level of business they've seen since they opened.

The shop has a nice selection of high end bikes and components, and their location on north Broadway Street in Boulder is ideal for the hordes of road cyclists who daily ride past their shop on their way to U.S. Highway 36 for their training and recreational rides into the mountains or toward the plains. Many start their rides at the coffee shop adjoining the bike shop, and of course they stop in the shop for last minute schwag or repairs. Boulder Cycle Sport sees the casual recreational cyclists as well as many of the professionals who call Boulder home.

Boulder Cycle Sport
They don't cater just to the high end, though. When I was at the shop, a woman dropped in to pick up her cruiser. The service manager, Dwane Bergeron, was professional and pleasant in working with her. Brandon tells me, "We try to offer a little bit of everything for everyone. Plus, we try to treat everyone as an equal and not alienate anyone. Whether they are a professional rider or a first timer, everyone gets the same level of respect and service."

Boulder is already famous for the level of cycling that occurs here. Transportational cycling is amazing, with over 10% of commuters regularly biking to work in Boulder. Miles of trails provide plenty of fun for the active mountain biking community. On nice weekends, there are literally hundreds of road cyclists covering many of the mountain roads and highways in Boulder County.

Brandon expects even this high level of cycling to grow in 2006.
   "I think with the increase in gas prices and people becoming more educated about cycling’s great benefits, we are going to see more individuals pedaling to work and school, as well as using the bicycle to run daily errands. Once people learn how easy it is to get around their neighborhood by bicycle, they use their car much less. I also see road cycling to continue to grow. The area in and around Boulder offers some of the most scenic and memorable road rides in the world. Road riding is safe, easy to do, low impact on your body and great way to exercise, as well as socialize with your friends."

Rainlegs partial rain pants

Rainlegs are partial nylon leg coverings. They stay conveniently tucked away around the waist. When the rain starts, you simply roll the coverings down to cover your thighs. There's no need to pull anything over your shoes for some protection against the cold and wet.

Rainlegs are available at retailers in the UK and Ireland. You can also order them online from elsewhere, running nearly $50 plus shipping for a pair of rainlegs.

I missed it when Cleverchimp mentioned Rainlegs two weeks ago, though he has excellent commentary about the product. I saw it first at Treehugger.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Chanda Gunn. Ride softly and carry a really big stick.

Chanda Gunn is the 5'7" goal tender for the U.S. Olympic hockey team. She and her teammates will work to beat Canada during the 2006 Winter Olympics this February in Turin, Italy.

Chanda in particular has captured a lot of media attention. She doesn't look like your typical hockey goalie. She's shy and quiet and a little on the small size for a goaltender. Hand her a stick and put the pads on her, though, and she turns into a puck-stopping machine on ice, winning an athletic scholarship and making the cut last December to the Olympic team. Even that, however, is an accomplishment shared with 19 other teammates.

Disability and Car Free
What's extraordinary about Chanda is that she was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 9 after suffering a grand mal seizure. She lost her scholarship to Wisconsin after suffering debilitating seizures in college. She had to work her way back into NCAA hockey, proving her value to coaches who had their doubts about the performance of a player with a seizure disorder.

Because of her neurological disorder, this 26-year-old athlete received a drivers license only a few months ago. Chanda was kind enough to take time from her schedule to speak with me about her transportational bicycling. "While I am at home I ride for fun, to the beach," says this native of Huntington Beach, CA. "In college I rode for transportation and actually wanted to join the cycling club, but hockey always sort of got in the way."

"I spend a lot of time using my bike as my independence, riding 4 or 5 miles to the rink, to the gym, and to the track and to work. I spent a lot of time on that bike."

"I used to get up at 4 am, bike 5 miles to the track, do a track workout, bike over to the rink, skate for 90 minutes, bike to the gym, workout for 3 hours, bike home for lunch, bike back to the rink to give lessons and work, and bike back home again at night. I think for a while I tried to bike to taekwondo a couple nights a week, but my legs just couldn't take it: the taekwondo or the extra bike ride!"

Chanda had her share of southern California traffic, of course. "There is a sign by the rink that says PLEASE SHARE THE ROAD. I used to get so mad when there was no bike line and cars would NOT share the road."

Advice for parents
Chanda Gunn encourages parents to not see their children's disabilities as a hindrance. She tells me, "My advise is do as much as you can, especially parents of children with epilepsy. The more you are able to do at a young age, playing sports, doing after school activities and going to school. Even if they have to wear a helmet, the more they do the more likely they are to grow up independent and not view their disorder as a handicap or hardship. Doing things for yourself, especially sports, is empowering."

She encourages others with disabling disorders to try bike riding for some measure of independence. "When you are not able to do something, like drive, riding a bike provides a wicked amount of independence. Instead of feeling stuck and dependent on others, you can now get a reasonable distance by yourself. When I figured that out a couple years ago at home, it did a lot for me!"

Future plans
Women's ice hockey is still a developing sport, and the Olympics are the pinnacle of what a woman can achieve in ice hockey. What are Chanda's plans after the Olympics? "After the Olympics I really want to invest in a road bike and get into biking," she says. Perhaps in the next couple of years we'll see this hard-working athlete in U.S. women's pro cycling.

Read more about Chanda Gunn at Epilepsy.com: "Getting Personal: The Chanda Gunn Story"

Warren Miller "Higher Ground"

This review of the Warren Miller ski movie "Higher Ground" contains no bicycle content.

My ten-year old son nailed it: If you've seen one Warren Miller film, you've seen them all. And when you've watched the first 20 minutes of the film, you've watched the whole thing.

Nonetheless, we attended a local screening of Warren Miller's latest film "Higher Ground." It turns out executive producer Jamie Pentz and director Max Bervy are almost neighbors of mine. Like every other Warren Miller extreme skiing film, "Higher Ground" doesn't fail to disappoint with its formula of stunts-gone-wrong; breathtaking helicopter footage; humor; trips to far-off mountains; plenty of footage of resorts in Colorado, Utah and Tahoe; and short clips with amazingly talented skiers from around the world all set to a soundtrack of various styles of music, all of it loud.

High Definition
Warren Miller has created a ski movie every year since 1948, starting with an old hand-cranked black-and-white camera and moving to modern high-speed professional equipment. With "Higher Ground" -- Miller's 56th ski film -- Miller's team made the jump to digital production and high definition video. Some of the cuts could have been smoother, but the colors are amazingly crisp in HD. The widescreen action pops right off of the screen directly into the viewer's visual cortex.

Another big change is the narration. In the past, Warren Miller narrated most of the film. In "Higher Ground," US Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom provided most of the narration, with Warren Miller pitching in for only a few lines of commentary.

Ads make the movie
Product placement seemed much more intrusive than in other Warren Miller films. Every time a skier or boarder munches on something, it's a Nature Valley granola bar, and the photographer never fails to zoom right onto the package so there's no mistake of what he's eating. A bunch of Alaskan rednecks partying at the Arctic Man festival in northern Alaska are all getting wasted on Grand Marnier cognac. Whenever a Jeep appears, the video zooms in on the front grill Jeep logo and pauses.

Biffs and bumps
Skiers and boarders biffing on jumps never fails to generate groans from the audience. One shirtless guy pulled a real cartoon move, taking a ramp up into a tree, stalling out against the tree, wrapping his arms around the trunk, then sliding -- remember, he's shirtless -- down the rough bark.

Tahoe fixture Glen Plake worked his comic genious by using dress and equipment from decades past as the film paid homage to styles and music of the past. Plake donned old fashioned wooden skis with leather bindings and matched it with old-fashioned knickers, knee-high socks, and knit wool cap then hot-dogged all over the slopes with that old gear. Similar scenes and hilarious commentary from Plake about gear and clothing from the 60s, 70s and 80s provided a nice break from the action.

The Warren Miller team visited Aspen, Colorado. I watched five-year-old Bridger Gile carve turns like a pro. Then I watched professional ski bum Klaus Obermeyer ride the terrain park with high school kids, jumping off ramps and flipping high flying 360 spins. Klaus is 86 years old and has been skiing since 1922 and he's showing teens how to do flips and stunts and smiling big the whole time. When I'm 86 I'll be happy if I can walk to the toilet unassisted.

There was a sequence where skier Chris Anthony attempts to navigate through the passageways inside the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Nimitz. When he's not bumping his skis against hatches and pipes, we get to watch him scrub toilets and swab the decks. It all seemed a little misplaced inside of a ski video, kind of like this review is misplaced inside of a bicycle blog. The jets were cool, but we've already watched Tom Cruise do it in "Top Gun."

So yeah, it was cool and inspiring and I'll go skiing tomorrow even though I wasn't planning to because I watched the film. If you have two hours to kill, go ahead and see it. It's better with friends. It's better yet just to hit the slopes yourself and have some real fun rather than vicariously not experiencing things for yourself.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Napoleon Dynamite sound board

Here's a cool audio toy from my favorite cyclist of all time. Click on the text to hear Napoleon speak his words of wisdom. Macromedia Flash required.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Scot Nicol at BMW

Don't miss this interview at Bicycle Marketing Watch (BMW) with Ibis founder Scot Nicol. He talks about Ibis stuff and also gives us some of his insights on the future of the bike biz and marketing. Some quotes:
  • "I absolutely love the whole cruiser movement. And the commuter/city bike scene is great."
  • "Cycling is still too exclusive. And I mean that in the truest meaning of that word: we exclude people."
  • "I could start to talk about American Culture here and why our kids don’t ride their bikes to school anymore and why people live a long way from their jobs and live instead in their cars and why their lives are out of balance and so there’s road rage and obesity and ugly things like that. But that would make me very angry and then I’d start drinking."

More at Drink the Kool Aid.

Biker sues mountain bike club

The Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship is a volunteer group that builds and maintains trails for mountain bikers in Oklahoma. Jerry Reese rode his mountain bike on one of these volunteer-built trails. Jerry Reese fell and injured his back on the trail. Like a True American, Jerry Reese is now suing the volunteer mountain bike club.

Bicycle facilities

Graham writes about his problems with the facilities manager at his work place. She says she won't let him bring his bike inside the building because it's a "fire hazard." I've always just brought the bike in rather than ask for permission.

The facilities manager at my work place is uber cool and accomodating. He's designated an actual office to be our bicycle garage. We park our bikes there along with spare parts, lube, and tools.
Photo info: Bicycle storage by richardmasoner.

Lightest bike

Update March 2008: James posts about the 3195 gram road bike that German cyclist Günter Mai built up. That's just a hair over 7 pounds for a complete bicycle. According to this VeloNews article, Mai started with a set of $15,000, 850-gram Lew wheels, custom built just for him and his 150 pound weight. After the wheels were delivered, Mai literally shaved another 30 grams from the wheels by shaving material off the axle end caps, replacing the steel freehub pawls and hub spacers with titanium, and using tapered carbon/boron axles and full ceramic bearings. He also carved off some of the freehub splines that are not needed with the six-speed cassette he uses. Read the article in VeloNews for the full frame and component specs on this lightest road bicycle. It's interesting that even components such as derailleurs were custom rebuilt by Bicycle Tuning Parts in Germany.

The M2Racer Light Bike weighs in at 7.91 pounds. They started with a Litespeed Ghisallo frame and put the lightest components they could find for this lighest bicycle. Check out the carbon cassette, the custom downtube shifters, paper-thin custom saddle, drilled out brake levers and old school cable routing.

Web designers weigh in on brick and mortar vs ecommerce

Toward the end of last year there was good discussion about the future of the Local Bike Shop in our brave new world of eCommerce. Recently, a small vitamin and supplement manufacturer made the news with their new zero tolerance Internet resale policy that forbids online selling or even disclosing price information.

When this news was mentioned at Threadwatch the other day, several web design experts left comments expressing their unbelief at what they consider a neanderthalic practice. Don't sell online? How can that be?

The opinion piece at Business Week about Standard Products notes that the supplement vendor is taking this hardline stance to protect its brick-and-mortar reseller base. The author, David Gumpert, talks about this approach making his "life more difficult."

This is the same approach used by Trek -- you cannot buy a Trek bicycle online. While Shimano components are available for sale online, Shimano also puts restrictions on online sales to protect their traditional, brick-and-mortar sales channel.

Besides bikes and supplements, what other industries work to keep brick-and-mortar in business?

RacerMate Velotron

We have a winner! Girls Luv Dirt gave the correct answer for the 80 tooth challenge. That huge chainring is used for the RacerMate Velotron ergometer. Mark Nobilette builds the funky square-tube frames for the Velotron Dynafit Pro.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ten miles per liter

My Wednesday evening routine includes stopping into a Philips 66 gas station and buying a package of Hostess Snowballs and some chocolate milk. I think I calculated that I get about 36 miles for each two-pack of pink coconut chocolate marshmallow goodness. At two dollars for a package of two, that's twice the distance of what I can get on $2 worth of gasoline.

Bike Refugee got clever. He calculated energy use of common activities in terms of liters of apple juice and created nifty graphics. One liter will get him to work by bicycle while driving a car to work takes 62 liters of apple juice. A hot shower takes 2.2 liters of apple juice. Leaving his lights on all days consumes seven liters of apple juice.

I call that Cyclelicious goodness. Via Biking Toronto. Tags: energy, apple+juice, calories. Graphic used with permission. Yes, I realize I've mixed SI units with Imperial measures.

Mark Nobilette bicycles

Contest info: Big big hint in this article! The chainring is not for a boat. This is bad timing on my part, but I may be away from email until late Thursday. If somebody gets the correct answer it may be a while before I can acknowledge it.

Random and I went up into rural Larimer County north of Longmont. We pulled into a gravel driveway to a workshop behind a house covered with solar hot water panels. The old, non-descript white concrete block building belongs to world-famous bike builder Mark Nobilette.

Metallurgy and Mark Nobilette
When we walked into Nobilette's shop, the organ rock tunes of Wayne Horvitz and Zony Mash were blasting from his ancient stereo system. Nobilette got into bike riding at the begining of the bike boom in 1972. As a high school student in Ann Arbor, he saved up for a South American bike tour when he heard about a class in Chicago offered by bike building legend Albert Eisentraut. Instead of touring, he learned to build frames and went to work for Eisentraut in Menlo Park, California.

Today, Nobilette custom crafts about 100 frames every year. He tells me that his typical customers are "bike weenies who appreciate high quality in a bike." He approaches each bike -- whether its a road bike, mountain bike (27" or 29er), tandem, bent or trike -- from an artistic angle. "I've learned some metallurgy and engineering, but I originally wanted to be an artist and took art classes all through school; jewelry, painting, sculpture, that kind of stuff."

His artistry shows in his fillets and lugs and crowns. Many of his lugs are custom machined in his shop. He bends his own tubing to get just the right look for his bikes, going so far as to custom-craft his own tube benders.

His custom frames are beautifully brazed and filed to produce seamless transitions between the tubes, while some of the frames he does for other people use a TIG-welded main triangle, brazed dropouts, and silver-soldered stays. His custom-made lugs are welded, brazed, then hand-filed into outrageous shapes, making the finished frames highly distinctive.

Nobilette builds under his own brand as well as all of the steel bikes for Lennard Zinn Cycles in Boulder, the frames used on Racermate's Velotron ergometer, and lightweight racing trikes for AngleTech. Nobilette has also built a few bikes for Rivendell over the past year, managing to meet the exacting specifications of Rivendell's legendary Grant Peterson.

Tags: rivendell, nobilette, bicycle, handbuilt, custom, longmont, colorado. Thank you to Random for technical and editorial help.

CBS Morning Show and defective bikes

I'm told the CBS Early Show will do a piece about defective kids' bicycles and accidents. Thursday early A.M. if you want to catch it. I imagine it's related to the lawsuits involving quick release skewers on Wal-Mart bicycles.

Related: CPSC investigating quick release levers.

Grumpy and Happy

Say hello to Dick. Hello, Dick. Dick is sitting in a car and he is a grumpy man. Grumpy grumpy grumpy.

Dick is frustrated. He pays hundreds of dollars every month for his car loan, insurance and registration. He spends 10 hours every week sitting in his car, waiting for all those other cars to move out of his way. No wonder Dick is grumpy. Is there a way for Dick to become happy?

The girl on the bike is Jane. Hello, Jane. Unlike Dick, Jane is happy. Happy happy happy. Unlike the short-term thin veneer of happiness that occurs from buying stuff, Jane's joy is genuine and long lasting. Jane is relaxed and comfortable on her bike. She moves at a human pace. She's not isolated from the people or environment around her. She is connected and complete.

Recent research shows that even a moderate, short workout can help to lift your spirits. "If you can go out and walk and get the recommended amount of exercise, then it might help you manage your symptoms [of clinical depression] on a day-to-day basis," said lead study author Dr. John Bartholomew of the University of Texas at Austin. Past studies, he explained in an interview, have shown that regular exercise can help treat depression over time. But the new findings show that "you don't have to wait" to start getting some benefit, he said.

Are you sad and grumpy? If so, get out, ride and be happy.

Tees 468x60

Contest hint and toy clock

I've seen some great guesses on that 80 tooth chainring contest. When I post more about Nobilette's work later today, the observant will see immediately what that the chainring in his shop is used for. It's not for a motorpaced bike, unicycle, or a bike for a tall guy. Huge Hint: It is used for something bike-like in that you sit on it and crank the pedals with your feet. I'm looking for a specific product.

Here's a useless gizmo. The time shown is U.S. Mountain Time (GMT -7). It's 60 degrees F and it's time to ride.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

True Temper tubing

I visited frame builder Mark Nobilette's shop today. I'll write more about Nobilette in a day or two, but first I have a contest.

Nobilette has stacks of True Temper bicycle tubing all over the place, but that's not the interesting part of this photo. Up toward the upper right of this photo you'll see what appears to be a large chainring. Click on the photo to see it better. That is, in fact, an 80 tooth chainring.

The first person leaving a comment correctly describing the use for this 80 tooth ring wins a prize: a $10 gift certificate from Amazon.com.

Here's a hint: It's not for a recumbent bike or trike. Mark and John are both disqualified from this contest. You must leave good contact info to claim your prize.

Photo info: True Temper tubes by richardmasoner.

London bicycle log

I don't know where the traffic came from, but this last week Cyclelicious saw a tremendous boost in visitors from London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. If you're hailing from the UK, greetings and welcome to the Cyclelicious bicycle blog.

I suppose I should parrot the news that London has officially been selected as the start of the 2007 Tour de France. The route will be announced on February 9.

Two of my favorite bicycle blogs are based in the UK. Velorution is a Central London bike store that blogs on cyclist advocacy and traffic safety issues. BikeBiz is a bicycle industry resource with a blog that features daily news about bicycle goings-on around the world.

Tags: london, UK, bicycle

The Human Electric Hybrid

   This initially sounds like something from Star Trek, but the Human Electric Hybrid Drive is what Stokemonkey calls their electric drive conversion kit for Xtracycle® Sport Utility Bikes.

   The Stokemonkey Human Electric Hybrid Drive extends the range and carrying capacity of your Xtracycycle bike. It lets you pedal without motor assistance or resistance, but you cannot use the motor alone because it drives the pedals. The benefit of this arrangement is that as you shift gears normally to regulate your pedal speed, you also keep the motor operating between its most powerful and efficient speeds. As a result, Stokemonkey supports hill-climbing, passenger, cargo, and speed capabilities more like those of small cars than of ordinary bicycles, and of all other assisted bicycles as well.

2006 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team

[I'm just copying the press release. Others will comment I'm sure.]

Discovery Communications announced today the 2006 roster that will lead cycling's greatest team into the post-Lance Armstrong era. The Discovery Channel Team has won seven Tour de France titles over the course of its history -- an accomplishment no other team can claim. Sports director Johan Bruyneel and organization leadership are aiming for top contention in all three of the 2006 Grand Tour races -- the Tour of Italy, Tour de France and Tour of Spain.

"The continued partnership between the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team and Discovery Communications allows us to bring our important values of excellence, perseverance and exploration to our global audience," said Judith A. McHale, president and CEO, Discovery Communications, Inc. "We also look forward to more participation by Lance Armstrong and his teammates in innovative content initiatives across our networks."

"I am retired from racing, but my love for the sport and my commitment to the organization that has afforded me so much success motivates me to take the next step in my career evolution," said Lance Armstrong. "There is rarely a day I don't talk to [Sports Director] Johan Bruyneel about the team, the sport, and what it takes to win."

The 2006 team made their debut with all 27 cyclists from 15 countries and unveiled their 2006 uniform, bicycle and tour schedule. The 2006 season will begin in February at the Vuelta Andalucia in Spain, followed by the inaugural Tour of California -- a rare showcase on American soil. Other highlights on the schedule include the brutal and legendary Tour of Flanders and Paris -- Roubaix as well as all three Grand Tours-the Tour de France, the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Italy.

The 2005 cycling season was another monumental one for Team Discovery, as the team logged 21 international race victories, an overall Tour of Italy win by Paolo Savoldelli, a Tour de Georgia win from Tom Danielson, and an unprecedented, crowning accomplishment for Lance Armstrong's career-a seventh Tour de France title.

The 2006 Discovery Channel Team begins their racing campaign with several riders who hold promise to lead them to victory in both Grand Tour stage races as well as single day Spring Classics. Key returning riders include George Hincapie, American Classics team leader and key Tour de France performer who won a mountain stage of the 2005 Tour de France; U.S. hopeful Tom Danielson, winner of the Tour de Georgia and eighth-place overall at the Tour of Spain; Viatcheslav Ekimov of Russia, a 14-time Tour de France finisher and Athens Olympic medalist; Italian Paolo Savoldelli, the 2005 Tour of Italy winner; and Yaroslav Popovych of the Ukraine who had an outstanding 2005 season highlighted by his Best Young Rider designation at the 2005 Tour de France.

John Sinibaldi, 1913 - 2006

For long life, "ride your bike like crazy."

Somehow I missed this bit of news. Cycling Hall-of-Famer, Olympic athlete and all-around good guy John Sinibaldi passed two weeks ago at the ripe old age of 92. He continued to compete into old age, winning his last national level race last year.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Customer attention and the local bike shop

Graham writes about a Top 100 Retailer dropping the ball in customer service. Cory follows up with his observations of the different types of customer-repelling shop employees. If you own or manage a bike shop you should read these posts.

I guess this is just a day to link out. I have a post in the wings about group rides and the role of the omega male of a wolf pack, but that'll wait until I actually have some time.

Pro Cycling teams unveil 2006 hair strategy

Another must-read from FCFNS. It appears the Euro-cool are redefining the look and meaning of euro-cool cyclist fashion. They need to be careful of the hair-enhancing products they use, however. Propecia / finasteride, a drug used to treat male-pattern baldness, is a banned substance because excess hair growth can mask the effects of other performance enhancing drugs. Or something like that.

Man trades bike for car

Well, this is just sucky news.    Tags: ,

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mmm, Coffee

Bisbee writes about coffee and cycling always going together and mentioning the Krankies recumbent powered coffee shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Bisbee then warns us about overdoing coffee if you have heart problems or otherwise need to maximize your hearts performance. "Two cups of java reduced the body's ability to increase blood flow to the heart during exercise." The research he cites is worth reading if you're concerned about maximizing your performance.

Like cycling, there are at least as many types of coffee as there are types of cycling. If you're looking for a Valentine's gift for your coffee-drinking cycling sweetie, look for ideas at Bicycle Coffee Systems.

Just for Ron G.: Steelers 27, Broncos 10, nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Denver in possession, 1st and goal.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Give and you benefit: Colorado Tour de Cure

I announced earlier this week that I signed up for the 2006 Colorado Tour de Cure. If you sponsor me for the Colorado Tour de Cure and give to the American Diabetes Association, you can benefit directly.

All early sponsors and big givers will be listed in the left sidebar of the Cyclelicious home page. This is a moderately high ranking site, with a Google PageRank of five. A link from here to your website has value from the viewpoint of search engines. More value can result in more relevance, possible higher ranking from the search engines, and possibly more visits for you when people search the Internet for cycling related sites.

Give to the American Diabetes Association Colorado Tour de Cure and I will give you free advertising, subject to the limitations I outline here. Google and the othe search engines crawl Cyclelicious daily, and currently Cyclelicious sees over 4000 distinct visitors per week. The earlier you give, the longer your link appears and the more you benefit. Please sponsor me.

Broncos over the Steelers by 4

That's my call. Everybody in Colorado is wearing orange and blue today for some reason. Any Pittsburgh fans here? How about it?

I almost wrote "Bloggers over the Steelers..." Ugh. Has anybody ever noticed that Blogger's motif is blue and orange? They must be Bronco's fans.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bad news blog

The pathetic, evil side of me has joined a peak oil group blog. It's all bad news all the time end-of-the-world we might as well hang it up now if you want to check it out.

Genevieve Jeanson quitting

After a possible lifetime ban from cycling after two failed doping tests, Canadian cyclist Geneviève Jeanson announced her retirement from cycling. "It's over," she told La Presse. "I don't want anything to do with cycling. I'm tired of fighting and repeating that I have never taken EPO or any banned substance."

More about Geneviève Jeanson:

Syntace Force 99 stem recall

Syntace USA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of Syntace Force 99 bicycle handlebar stems. Although no actual product failures are known to have occurred, testing revealed flaws in early runs of the Force 99 stem.

Armstrong: "Ullrich's the man"

Lance Armstrong believes Jan Ullrich will win the 2006 Tour de France.
I can't see anyone else apart from Jan Ullrich winning the Tour de France this year. He is the most talented rider I have ever seen and if he's as fit as he looks then I can't see anyone coming close to him. Jan has the edge in the time trials and he's hungry to win it again.

Interbike 2006: Biggest ever?

Interbike 2006 is happening now. Visit Cyclelicious for interviews and cycling product news.

Interbike organizers are planning the floor space for Interbike 2006 and they're urging exhibitors to renew soon. 2006 Event Guide advertising rates are not available yet, but it should be interesting to see how much difference there will be between last year and this year. Here are the factors I see impacting the bicycle industry this year.

Road racing

The Tour of California will compete with the Torino Winter Olympics for sports media attention next month. With Lance Armstrong retired, it should be interesting to see what kind of interest there will be this summer in American cyclists like Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie, along with Americans George Hincapie, Tom Danielson and Jason McCartney on Team Discovery.

Last year's TdF coverage also introduced Americans to world-class non-American athletes like Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Tom Boonen. Will most Americans remember these names in 2006 when Team Discovery competes in Europe?

Mountain Biking

I don't follow competitive mountain biking much but the waning interest in the sport seems to continue. Recreational interest seems steady, but I don't know how much goodies like "dual control," high-travel suspension, disk brakes and 29 inch wheels translates into increased sales for the industry.

Casual cycling

A significant portion of American society isn't interested in competitive or fast cycling. They just want an activity that's fun but not too strenuous. With more news about obesity, a lot of once-sedentary Americans are turning to bicycling as an activity to get the heart beating. 2005 saw increased interest and sales of cruiser or casual style bicycles.

City cyclists

I think bikes and accessories for commuting and utility use will be absolutely huge in 2006. This includes trailers, lights, fenders, bags and clothing and zillions of doodads. Cyclists -- especially utility cyclists -- love doodads, and 2006 will see growth in this area.

Interest in environmental issues is growing strongly, inflation is outpacing wage growth and will continue to do so this year, gasoline will hit new highs this spring, and public transit is becoming standing room only while fares continue to increase. All of these will motivate commuters to drag out their old Schwinn Varsities, and a significant number will "upgrade" to something new and shiny.

Your thoughts

Industry insiders, I'm interested in your thoughts. Is cycling a growth industry for 2006? What about your segment of the market? Why or why not?

Dr. Max Testa joins AthletiCamps coaching staff

Dr. Massimo Testa joined the coaching staff of AthletiCamps in California last December. Dr. Max Testa is one of the world's leading experts in sports medicine, with 25 years of experience. He as worked as team physician for the 7-Eleven, Motorola and Mapei pro-cycling teams. He will remain director of the UC Davis Sports Performance Program in Sacramento, California. According to BRaIN, AthletiCamps maintains a close working relationship with the Sports Performance Program, and includes their services in certain of its offerings.

Max Testa is a member of the Italian Association of Cycling Physicians and the Sporting Safety and Conditions Commission of the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Hat tip to fixedgear for the tip. Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Firefox 1.5 crash at Google too

I'm not the only one affected by Firefox 1.5 constant crashes. Googler Matt Cutts is also plagued with constant crashes. "Aaargh," he writes. "Talk Like a Pirate Day arrives early and several times a day."

I think I've found the culprit, however. I've been removing extensions one by one and running a day without. Google's Web Comments plugin might be the problem -- since disabling that, I've had no problems. We'll see.

BRaIN Feed: Dead?

The feed I created for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRaIN) doesn't seem to be working correctly. Although the RSS feed picked up changes to the website, something is wrong with it because my blog reader did not display the new items.

Is this feed working for anybody else?

Tags: , , ,

Andy Singer CARtoons

Get out and ride

Four cyclists were killed two weeks ago when a passing car hit some ice, lost control, and plowed into a group ride. A father saw his son die, and other families have been left without fathers, brothers and sons.

David Banks reminds us in this outstanding essay, however, "that the reason we are so shocked by this terrible accident is because of its rarity. Thousands upon thousands of people go out every day on bicycles and do so perfectly safely." He continues:
But why take the risk? Why go out on a bike in the face of such apparent danger?

Because, after the first lung-bursting minutes, you crest a hill, your breathing suddenly becomes easier, you hit your stride and it is just... joyous. When Radio 4 asked listeners what was the greatest invention ever, what did they vote for? Not the light bulb, or even radio - but the humble bicycle.

The most fitting tribute to those who died is exactly what happened at the weekend - a legion of friends and fellow cyclists taking to the roads to enjoy the sport they loved so much.

I'm suiting up and heading out right now to ride in sunny, 60°F/15°C gorgeous Colorado weather.

Bicycle Empowerment Network Namibia

Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia (BEN Namibia) works to empower disadvantaged Namibians through access to affordable transport. They do this primarily through bicycle distribution, importing donated second hand bikes, parts and accessories from overseas charities, refurbishing them by employing and training local people in bike mechanics. These bikes are sold at affordable prices from the capital, Windhoek, and through a growing network of shops in regional Namibia.

They've also started bicycling advocacy by noting that bicycle promotion can work to alleviate traffic congestion, working with the Windhoek city council to promote facilities and integrating cycling into public transit.

Poll: Do you buy online?

In December, several bloggers participated in discussion about the Local Bike Shop versus online commerce. RoadBikeReview's current quick poll asks, "Do you buy cycling products online?" The survey is in no way scientific and the participants are self-selected, but the current results show that most respondents shop online "often." See related: , ,

Bikes and crime

Cyclist stabbing

A 42-year-old cyclist was stabbed by a road raged motor vehicle passenger after the cyclist was cut off by the motorist. East London councillor Ray Gipson is credited with saving the cyclist's life. The attacker and driver fled, hitting a parked car on the way.

Artist draws bike thief

A thief stole a 10-speed from Bill Green of Melbourne, Australia. It turns out Green is "WEG," a well-known former political cartoonist and illustrator for Australian Football League posters. Green drew a sketch of the robber and handed it to the police. The police immediately identified the culprit, found him and arrested him. "Me and my partner Dougie looked at each other when we looked at the gentleman in the back of the divvy van and we just couldn't believe how much of a likeness it was to the picture that WEG had drawn," Sen Const Roche said.

Tags: ,

Tour of California Community MPEG Project

Steve Hill at SteepHill TV wants your 2006 Tour of California videos and photos to compile a recap of each stage of the Tour, using your videos and photos. Simply upload your video or photo to steephill.tv or send an email with a link to posted pictures or video. Mark the photo locations on the provided google map and Steve will sift through them to produce a five minute daily recap.

Contributors will be included in the video credits and will receive a link to their photo collection on the daily event web page.

For more info, see SteepHill's article about the Amgen Tour of California route details page. If you'll be there I hope you'll participate in this project -- I'd certainly like to watch the different angles of the ToC from my living room. All we need is a Phil Liggett clone and the video recaps will be perfect.

If you haven't visited steephill.tv yet, it's a pretty neat collection of tour and race videos from around the world. His latest video tour takes you through Hawaii Volcanos National Park.

Steve is an avid bike tourer, and in fact he met his wife on a bike tour in northern Italy a few years ago. He likes to use the Canon Powershot Elph for it small size and good video. Check out steephill.tv for vicarious bike touring.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Revenge of Gaia

If you want to be thoroughly depressed, read this. James Lovelock writes about the revenge of gaia. We're all going to die and in a very bad way. Life for my children will short, nasty and brutal. I weep for them.

I had pretty much come to the same conclusion that things will get very very bad after taking a serious look at what we're doing to our planet and that this change is inevitable and unstoppable, but it's disheartening to see somebody much smarter than I reinforcing that view. sigh.

Independent review of James Lovelock's book Revenge of Gaia.
Revenge of Gaia is published by Penguin UK.
The book The Revenge of Gaia is available from Amazon UK.

Design a bike and get noticed

James posted a road bike template at his blog. Finish the design, send it to James, and Real, Live Bicycle Industry Insiders will see it. Check it out.

2006 Colorado Tour de Cure

I just signed up for the Colorado Tour de Cure for Diabetes. The ride will take place Saturday, August 26, 2006 starting at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado.

I've created a team (called Cyclelicious, naturally) because my wife and kids will also participate in this ride. If you read this blog and would like to join the team, feel free to drop me a line.


Bicycle movie reviews

Bicycle as a symbol of impotence

Everybody seems to be writing about bicycles in movies. Fixedgear discusses why the 40 year old virgin rides a bicycle. The bike is a symbol of his childishness. Only social outcast losers ride bikes. "Real men" drive cars.

Sleek bodies but no bikes

Cycledog reviews the vampire flick "Underworld." Although it features Kate Beckinsale wearing a skin tight suit, CycleDog writes "it was a fairly bad movie with nary a bicycle to be seen."

Wax on, wax off

When actor Pat Morita died last November, I put The Karate Kid on my NetFlix queue. It arrived last week. I've heard some people talk about how timeless this film is, but I don't think it has aged well over the last 20 years. I guess the whole coming-of-age thing just doesn't speak to me anymore.

The protagonist, Daniel-san, is a skinny, social outcast, loser, new kid at the school. He rides a bike to school. He's bullied by tough kids with fancy cars and motorbikes. MINOR SPOILER: The writers tried to teach the lesson that wealth and social class are not important, but then prior to the climax of the story Daniel-san gets a car. He's hot stuff now. He gets the girl and he can do the Crane and kick some bootie. END SPOILER.

Bicycles are of the devil

The most awesome horror flick ever is John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness. Alice Cooper plays a demon-possessed homeless man who stabs people to death with a bicycle. As this reviewer writes, "When's the last time you got to see a guy get stabbed with a bicycle?"

See related: ,

Monday, January 16, 2006

Teens on nandrolone

This is 16-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva, an up-and-coming tennis star who beat Venus Williams in the third round of the French Open last year. She also tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone and has been banned from competition for two years.

This child was 15 years old when she tested positive for steroid use. Sesil Karatantcheva's coach (and father) naturally has appealed the suspension, claiming that his daughter was pregnant and that resulted in a false positive. According to Lance Armstrong's favorite sports daily, "les femmes enceintes produisent en effet une quantité plus importante de nandrolone" (pregnant woman produce some nandrolone) but a simultanous pregancy test "révélé négatif."

I have no idea if this teen is guilty of doping or not -- there's apparently good reason to be suspicious about the WADA tests for nandrolone.

The financial rewards for top tennis players are tremendous and I can imagine the pressure to succeed can persuade short-term gain over long-term health. Does this kind of pressure exist for junior cyclists? Is there enough fame or fortune in American cycling for drug use to be a problem among teens?

Adventures in road rage

It's been at least four or five years since I've read Spike Bike. This post from Fearless Gearless reminded me of what can happen when your imagination runs wild. I in no way advocate violence, but it's still kind of fun to read. Go ahead, read episode one of Spike Bike.

Pipe Dream

Imagine the ultimate segregated bike facility: an elevated concrete and glass tunnel to protect cyclists from the weather and move them along at their own travel lanes at more than 20 mph. That's the dream of Toronto architect Chris Hardwicke and his Velo-City proposal.

"It’s about building a separate infrastructure, just like a highway for cars. I thought, why not a highway for bikes," Mr. Hardwicke says. Hardwicke says the bike tunnels would be comparable in cost to highway construction and could be built over existing streets. The tunnels would be one way, with three lanes in each. Because the tunnels offer protection from wind and with the cyclists riding in one direction, the cyclists would create their own tailwind, propelling them along at speeds much faster than they would average outdoors.

This proposal reminds me of Bicycle Transportation Systems in Denver and its Transglide 2000™ "bicycle transit system." Like Velo-City, Transglide is a system of elevated tunnels for cyclists. Unlike Velo-City, however, air is moved through the Transglide passageways to push cyclists along their way to reduce their effort and increase their speed.

Photo info: Pipe Dream by richardmasoner.

Iowa bike tax

Iowa state legislator Polly Granzow has proposed a $5 tax on new bikes to help fund trail maintenance. The bill's author said she wrote the bill after hearing from disgruntled hunters and fishermen who complained that they have to pay user fees while cyclists don't.

What the article doesn't point out is that hunters and fishermen actually benefit from the user fees they pay. While many cyclists enjoy the benefits of paths and trails, not all Iowa cyclists ride off of the road.

Two years ago, an Iowa legislator introduced a bill banning cyclists from many Iowa highways.

Build your own bike

Brad Graham AKA "Atomic Zombie" of Toronto builds Frankenbikes. My buddy random bought his book, Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza and I flipped through it. Now I have to get the book.

Brad starts at the begining in his book, showing you how to select the right welder and how to use it, to finding appropriate bike parts, making trashed bike parts usable again, and taking you to plans for choppers, tallbikes, tandems, trailers and recumbents as well as truly freakish creations of his own sick design. The Bull Bike, for example, is a one-wheeled cycle that must be ridden with one hand on the handlebar and the other one off, like you're riding a bucking bull.

If you've dreamed of building your own bike from leftover bike parts, check this book out. I wish I had it when I was shopping for a trailer bike for my daughter.

Firefox 1.5 crashes

If you're tempted to download Mozilla Firefox 1.5, don't. It crashes way too often and I'm getting absolutely sick of it. Ugh. Stay with an older version or a different browser.

Never too old to ride

Here's a cool article in Grit magazine about Harnett Wright of West Union, Illinois. He's 93 years old and rides his bike three miles almost every day in almost any weather.
Not long after he retired from farming, at age 85, Wright started bike riding. Until then, he got his cardio-vascular exercise by walking four miles daily with his wife, Hazel. They’ve been married 69 years. But then an old ankle injury from farming started hurting so much that he could only walk a mile and a half before he’d have to stop.
Read more. See also the editor's note: A Body in Motion Remains Unstoppable.

Bike riding representative

Colorado state representative Michael Merrifield of Manitou Springs is a hard core mounain biker, riding the dirt since he lived in Gunnison over 20 years ago. He says, "We should pass a law that every legislator has to buy a mountain bike and ride a minimum of 3 to 4 times a week. It would change everybody's attitudes. With a cold beer afterward, we'd get a lot more done."

I'm not sure I like the idea about the legislature getting "a lot more done," but the biking part is cool in my book. Read more about Michael Merrifield at TrailCentral.com.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

BRaIN Feed

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News does not provide an RSS feed. It's been on my todo list forever to create a public scraped feed, but I've decided to accept the inevitable that I'll never get around to it and used FeedFire to generate the feed for me. You can now subscribe to the BRaIN feed here. Plug this URL into your blog reader:


I've used this for all of 10 minutes so far so I don't know how it will work out. At first you'll get the extraneous links and advertisements, but after a day those should go away and you'll just see the news content.

This is totally experimental so no promises on my part, but go ahead and try it out. Kudos to fixedgear, who provided the kick in the pants for me to get work with his comment at Drink the Kool Aid.

Tour de Bicycling Blogs

Cycling Dude (three years old this month) introduces the Tour de Bicycling Blogs, a series of articles about interesting biking blogs.

Friday, January 13, 2006

MLK and bicycling

According to this biography for children, Martin Luther King, Jr liked to ride a bicycle as a child. But then again, who didn't?

Next month, we'll see all of the obligatory references to cycling great Major Taylor. Regardless of the level of melatonin in his skin, Taylor was an amazing cyclist and a very positive individual.

Off-the-beaten track

BLOG is short for Bike LOG

Here are some bicycle blogs that are worth a visit.
  • VeloGal likes men in bike shorts and takes photos of them.
  • Cyclosm "is a fully independent pro cycling news and commentary blog. What you won't find here are blocks of text lifted from Cyclingnews, meditations on my ride home from work, or vague, cookie-cutter product reviews. What you will find are race reports on everything from Milan-San Remo to the local training crit, utterly unfounded opinions, plenty of OLN-bashing, and twice the journalistic zest of The New York Post."
  • VJ writes about cycling around Portland, Oregon in Tales of Slow Brave Athena.
  • Oil is for sissies: Adventures in cycling.
  • Experience Plus reports on bike touring and cycling advocacy, focusing on Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Bike Pirates Bike Punx is a large and active LiveJournal group blog.

Colorado Snow Ski

I've been snow skiing this week, hence the dearth of blogging entries. My son flies down the trails faster than me. "Hey Dad, this trail's called Death by Gravity. It looks fun. Let's go!" He disappears over a ridge, I shush up to it and peer down into a chasm with rock ledges hanging out and my son is disappearing into the murky fog far far below.

My son started skiing Black terrain at the end of last ski season. This is the year that Blue runs have become boring for my son. I've done more Black runs today than I have in my previous 25 years of skiing. I also feel the same pain today than in my previous 25 years of skiing, combined.

If you're not into skiing, trails with a "Green" rating are for beginners. These have a shallow slope and are groomed to be nice and smooth. "Blue" trails are for intermediate skiers. They're a little steeper and offer more challenge. "Black" runs feature terrain for advanced skiers: steeps, bumps, powder and trees. Truth be told, I enjoy the easier Black trails, though my knees like well-groomed wide paths.

In Colorado, we also have Double Black Diamond runs. These are the ungroomed, powdery, death-defying cliffs with moguls, trees and the occasional man-eating monster that invincible ten-year-olds love and 40-year-old knees hate.

When we weren't destroying my legs on steep bumpy runs, my son and I were killing ourselves in the freestyle park. Or, more accurately, my son was grinding rails and flying from ramps with the greatest of ease, while I killed myself. I think it's time to censor those Warren Miller extreme skiing videos. I think I'll also pass on the group bike ride tomorrow morning.

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