Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Three days of bike commuting – a good week!

{words by reed}

Last week (March 26th – 30th) I rode in to work Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Monday was not a particularly memorable day as bike commutes go; no close encounters with automobiles, no weather anomalies, just an easy and safe commute both ways. Wednesday was memorable for the ride home – it rained, hard! Not your normal Pacific Northwest drizzle, this was more like an Asian Monsoon rain¬ it was hard, cold and wet. Very wet! Even so, my upper body was snug as a bug in my new Showers Pass Elite 2.0 jacket. Thursday was a great day as I was not only able to commute both ways, but I also joined in on the lunch ride (on my new Raleigh Team bicycle, 15lbs 6oz) which was sunny, brisk, and fun. More on Thursday later.

In my last post I promised to tell you about my bicycles. I have two commute bikes right now, a Raleigh Cadent Carbon geared bike and a Raleigh One Way single speed.

But first a few disclaimers:

1. There will be some shameless product plugs in this post (you’ve already seen at least one) – just some props for stuff that I like or that works well on my commute here in the Pacific North-“wet.”

2. I am a bike junkie, and I work in the industry. I know my bicycles are too expensive and too “tech” for many riders. Bicycling is my passion, my livelihood, and my lifestyle. I do not mean to offend, nor is my intent to make others envious; I am just sharing my passion.

3. I commute by bicycle for many reasons, and one of them is to train for races and events – although I do believe the bicycle is the solution to all the world’s problems and that commuting by bicycle is part of the solution for many problems (saving fossil fuels, reducing congestion, air pollution, and helping slow global climate change).

I’ve “tricked out” the Cadent Carbon a little – just to see how light I could build a full-fendered commuter. I am also planning to use it for some longer rides I have planned this summer, like the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride in July – 204 miles in one day. I realize that calling this bike a commuter is a little misleading, but I am commuting on it.

Cadent Carbon Frame and Fork
FSA K-Force Light Crankset and BB (38/52t)
SRAM Force Shifter/Brake Levers
SRAM Force Rear Derailleur
SRAM Force Front Derailleur
SRAM Force 10sp Hollow Pin Chain
Shimano Dura Ace Wheels
Shimano Dura Ace 10sp Cassette (12-27)
FSA Headset
Tektro Long Reach Brakes
Easton EC90 Stem
FSA K-Force Handlebars
FSA K-Force Seatpost
Brooks Team Ti Seat
Topeak WhiteLite HP1W Headlight
Topeak WhiteLite Power Pack
Topeak RedLite UFO Taillight
SKS Fender Set with BuddyFlaps
Vittoria Zaffiro 700x25c Tires

All in (not including water bottles and seat bag, but with lights and fenders), my Cadent weight 19-½ lbs – not bad for a “commuter!”

My One Way also has a few “upgrades:”

Phil Wood Hubs built with DT 14g SS spokes to Mavic A719 rims (built by Reed Graham at Recycled Cycles, who not only has a great first name, but is one of the best bicycle mechanics I have ever worked with – a real craftsman!)
Wood Bottom Bracket
Phil Wood Rear Cog
Chris King Headset
Nitto Crystal Fellow Seatpost
Brooks B17S Saddle
Honjo-Koken “hammered” metal fenders with BuddyFlaps (installed by Reed Graham, see above, using instructions included in the Winter 2007 issue of Bicycle Quarterly, a must read for bicycle fanatics like me!)

I am not sure how much this bike weighs – it’s all about the single speed, simplicity, and reliability with this bike – no “weight-weenie” fix for this commuter.

Well, that pretty much covers it for this post with one postscript:

Outside of the bike commute, Thursday was not a good day for me. Lots of challenges at work that I was not dealing well with, and I thought the ride home was going to be something of a slog as a result of the brisk 16 miles at lunch. But no, I rode great, there was sunshine for some of the ride and I got to the car feeling terrific . The Cadent had been flawless on the ride. The Brooks Team saddle was just breaking in (more on Brooks saddles and why you should consider one in a future post) and the setup felt perfect. The Cadent was quickly becoming my favorite bike. I loaded it on the roof rack and headed home. Unfortunately I was thinking about work by the time I arrived at my house and completely forgot the Cadent was on the roof rack… Yes, I did it. I drove into the garage…and heard the sickening sound of splintering carbon.

I feel like such an idiot! I am in mourning. The frame, fork, seatpost, and seat are toast (see photos). The top of the Brooks just caught the garage door with enough force to bend the saddle rails, break the fork, and damage the frame and seatpost. The good news – the house and car (and consequently my marriage) suffered no damage, and I have a new Cadent coming the week of April 11th. A special shout-out to Chris Li at Bikeaway Source Bicycle Shop in Bedford, MA for giving up a Cadent (they are in very short supply) that he did not have a customer for – I owe you a big favor!


Neil@ROAD said...

What a bummer! The only reason I haven't done that yet is because I park my car on the street.

James said...

Yikes, that is pretty bad. Are you sure that damage is really from driving into a garage though? It looks suspiciosly like a few of the JRA failures that I saw when I worked in a bike shop. Wait it just dawned on me... You don't think those customers could have been streching the truth, do you?

Tim Grahl said...

Please tell me this is a late April Fools joke and you know someone that's amazing with Photoshop.

Fritz said...

The vast majority of bike commutes are like this -- no close encounters with cars, no weather anomalies -- just a fun bike ride.

Sorry to hear about your garage-door mishap, but it's nice to know that even pros in the bike industry have done this.

Chris said...

Whenever the bikes go on top of the car, the garage door opener goes into the boot/trunk. That way, I need to get out of the car to open the garage door and perhaps I will see the bike on top of the car.

Bikeway Source

Dr. Logan said...

On a lighter note that should help break in the new brooks.