Friday, September 30, 2011

Recycled Bicycle Art

Chopper bike by Neomatic

Made from baseball bats, circular saw blades, wheelchair wheels, parts from: railings, meat grinder, vacuum cleaners, industrial cooking pot, child's bicycle. The artist actually uses this bike to get lunch a few blocks away. To read more about this project go to
To see more work by this artist go to

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Old Lyme, Lyme, East Lyme and back

This ride starts at the Old Lyme shopping center parking lot and follows Rte 156 into Lyme. When ever you travel north from the shoreline the climb begins. At about 1.25 miles a gradual incline starts and continues until you reach the junction of 156 and Bill Hill Rd.

A look back at the first climb from the junction of Bill Hill and 156

As you can see from the picture above once you leave the Old Lyme shopping center and travel North on Rte 156 the landscape becomes very rural and wooded. Shortly after passing the entrance to Nehantic Forest you will see Tiffany Farm on the right. Nehantic Forest has a pristine pond which is an excellent place for a dip but you have to travel fairly far into the forest on rough park roads.

Tiffany Farms

The road descends past the farm into Hamburg cove.

After passing Tiffany Farm there is a steep descent. In Hamburg cove there is a very old convenience store where you can grab a drink or snack.

Ye Old Shed

Beaver Brook Rd starts with a short steep climb then levels off for a little bit before climbing to a max of about 244 ft. Basically Beaver Brook goes up and down all the way. The cue sheet provided by Map My Ride has a tendency to provide too much infornation. Once you turn onto Beaver Brook Rd stay straight it changes names ultimately becominng Upper Pattagansett road, the cue sheet could make you over think this, just follow the road.

There are quite a few old cemeteries along the way, as well as barns in various conditions.

Once you travel into East Lyme the road surface on Beaver Brook or Upper Pattagnsett improves and the scenery becomes less rural. At the end of Upper Pattagansett take a right onto Rte 1 (Boston Post Rd). Route 1 travels all the way back to Halls Rd. If you would like to increase the mileage of this ride you could take a left onto Four Mile River Rd. just a little before mile 19. Following Four Mile River Rd. to Rte 156 back to Old Lyme shopping center on Halls Rd. will add about 9.5 miles. Alternatively one could stay on the Boston Post Rd. all the way through Old Lyme to Halls Rd but stay straight onto Lyme St. traveling through the historic district or perhaps grabbing an ice cream at the Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe. If you follow Lyme St past the Congregational church past the country club you will reach Rte 156. Turn right and follow 156 back to Halls Rd. The second route alternative will add approximately 3.5 miles.

Congregational Church

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gear Inches

If you go to my useful links you will see a link to Sheldon Brown's Gear Calculator.  For those of you who aren't bike geeks you might be wondering what that is all about.  The simplest explanation I can give is; it is a device used to help one figure out what type of gearing to use on a bicycle. Why would you want to know this? You may not if you are entirely happy with how your bike performs and you aren't planning on getting a new bike. But if you're having trouble getting up the hills or you want to be able to pedal down hills you may want to calculate the gear ratio on your bike. If you are buying a new bike or building up a new bike you may find the gear calculator useful.

To use the bike calculator you just input tire size, crankarm length, Chainring size (chainrings are the sprockets next to your pedals) and the cassette size ( the cassette is the cluster of sprockets attached to your rear wheel) Sprocket sizes are usually written on them or you can count the number of teeth. Once you input all the data the calculator will give you a chart with the gear inches for each chainring/sprocket combination. 

But what do gear inches tell you?  A 50 x 12 combo equals 105.1 gear inches and a 30 x 26 combo equals 30.3 gear inches, right off the bat you can see that a higher # occurs in the higher gears and the lower # occurs in the lower gears. Gear Inches represent the amount of chain that is moved with one complete pedal revolution while in each gear combination. So the higher gears move more chain and the lower gears move less chain. That makes sense since you go slower in the lower gears and faster in the higher gears.  It logically follows that moving more chain requires more effort than moving less chain.

If you want to pedal up those big hills more easily you may want to change your cassette to one that has some larger sprockets, anything from 28-36 tooth sprockets. You could also change the chainrings probably by changing your entire crankset, to include chainrings that have something less than 30 teeth. 

That should give you an idea what gear calculators are all about. It is possible to calculate this without the calculator but the calculator is much faster. There are a lot of gear calculators on the internet but I like Sheldon's calculator because it allows you to choose common cassette clusters or manually plug in the sprocket sizes.  Sheldon also lets you measure your gear combos in other increments such as MPH/KMH per RPMs or gear ratios,which is Sheldon's thing so I'll let you read about that on his website. 

Please note this post is not meant to be an exclusive guide to changing a bikes gearing. In addition to changing cassettes and cranksets you may also have to change the rear derailleur and lengthen the chain.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Bottom Line

When you stop and think about the design of a bicycle saddle its not hard to understand why they can be so darn uncomfortable. Saddles have to be fairly narrow so that they can be straddled between the legs without inhibiting the constant back and forth, up and down movement of the legs. At the same time they have to be wide enough to support our seat bones. Then consider all the variables of the human anatomy and you can see why saddle comfort is such a matter of individual preference. 

The strategies used to obtain a comfortable saddle vary from a plastic base covered with some sort of padding material to no base at all just leather stretched over a metal frame. 
WTB Speed She Comp

WTB Laser

Brooks Swallow 

To relieve perineal pressure saddle manufactures have added various types of cut outs.
Titanico Selle Anitomica

Selle SMP Strike

This concept is nothing new Brooks spoke about "the registered cut-out as a sure preventative for all perineal pressure" in there 1890 catalogue. Below are some photos of a safety bike with a wicker perineal cut-out.

Safety bike
close up of seat

Perineal pressure can be a huge problem for men and women, so back to the drawing board to come up with new shapes.

Moon Seat

Easy Seat

ISM Touring Saddle
ISM Adamo Saddle

A riders position has a lot to do with the type of saddle that will work best.  If you ride in a more aggressive leaned forward position the Adamo saddle above may be just the ticket. This saddle is becoming popular with triathletes and time trialist. 

 View Adiamo Saddle Video

For those that prefer a more upright position saddles that are wider with more padding and/or springs are usually more comfortable. Although padding can sometimes cause more perineal pressure. Leather saddles like Brooks rely on the hammock effect, nothing hard under the seat bones just a piece of leather that slowly conforms to your shape.
Brooks flyer

 Leather saddles require a break-in period which varies among brands and the saddle must be treated periodically with a leather conditioner which helps soften the leather and keep it from cracking. 

If none of these options help with your saddle issues I guess you can always go bent :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

RANS Zenetik

5 or 6 years ago I was experiencing so many numbness issue with my hands, feet and seat I began to wonder if a recumbent might be my next bike, then I stumbled onto the RANS. Located in Hays, Kansas RANS produces small aircraft, recumbents, and crank forward bicycles. Other companies like Electra tout a crank forward design but RANS takes the design as far as it can without becoming a recumbent. 

                                                                 RANS Zenetik
As you can see in the picture above, the frame is longer and lower than a traditional bike, pushing the seat back and the pedals and cranks forward. This alleviates pressure on the hands and seat that is common with traditional diamond frame bikes. Instead of straddling the seat you just sit on it. The seat's shape sort of reminds me of a tractor's seat although there is a slight nose bump in the front to help the rider stabilize the bike.  Since the seat is pushed back the rider's position is quite upright. 

The lower longer frame also allows the rider to put their feet flat on the ground while remaining seated.

The frame has a special tube to mount the front derailleur to because the seat tube is at such a steep angle

The front fork is farely straight making the bike much easier to maneuver around tight corners than its more chopper like siblings the Fusion and Cruz. The longer wheelbase provides a smooth ride over bumps.

At the time I purchased the Zenetik there wasn't anyone in the state of Connecticut who sold recumbent bikes let alone Rans crank forward bikes. The closest dealer was 1 hour and 45 minutes away in Turner Falls, Massachusetts. 

The Zenetik solved my hand and seat problems, but I still had numbness in my feet so I switched to clipless pedals which helped me ride longer before the numbness occurred. Eventually I switched back to a more traditional diamond frame because I wanted to generate more power on the hills and be more aerodynamic. I'm still tweaking my Cannondale's setup, padded gloves and drop bars help keep hand numbness at bay and a seat with a cut out eliminated the numbness in the perinium, as for my seat bones... there's just no denying the comfort of the RANS crank forward. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Switch

I've been thinking about making some changes to my Peugeot Mixtie for a while. The push finally came from some broken retainer clips in the bottom bracket.  I've had a lot of trouble keeping the Sugino bottom bracket snug, even with lock tight.  I can't really say why since the threading is right handed which is the same direction as the pedal stroke so it should tighten with every stroke. None the less the last time I rode the Mixtie the BB was making some noise and the chaingaurd seemed to be weebling a little. 

                                                  Stronglight cranks with Stein crank puller 

Once again I put the bike up on my make shift bike stand, saying to myself that this would be the last time I was going to fool around with this bottom bracket.  I've sure gotten a lot of use out the special Stein Crank puller I purchased from Harris Cyclery. A standard crank puller and I use the term standard loosely, has a 22mm thread but the older Stronglight cranks use a special crank puller that has a 23.35mm thread. 

Once I removed the cranks and loosen the bb I decided to take the bb cup off and get a better look at things. This revealed a broken retainer clip. For those of you who have never seen the inside of a cup and cone bb like this....


There is a ring of ball bearings that are held in a metal ring (retainer clip) in both ends of the bb. Perhaps this was part of my problem with keeping the bb snug. Both clips were in pieces. I could just purchase more ball bearings and use them without the clip but I'm afraid that it might be a pain to get all the loose balls in place. Besides I want to just reinstall the bb and not have to think about it for a long time, its time to up grade to a cartridge style bb. I purchased a Velo Orange bottom bracket with french threads.

                                               My busted retainer clip and a new Velo Orange bottom bracket 
I've also been thinking about switching from the 11-32 cassette I currently have on the Mixtie to a 12-36 cassette. I know the 4 sprockets I'm gaining on the 36 tooth sprocket doesn't seem like much of a difference but it will be 4 less gear inches I have to push up steep hills. Lets just say it will put me closer to my lowest gear on the triple crankset of my Cannondale. Since the bike is on the stand I might as well go ahead and make the switch.

                           11-32 cassette, 12-36 cassette and Stronglight 42/52 cranks with chaingaurd

There's just one problem I forgot to get the bb tool I'll need. Darn bottom brackets and all there various different tools. I ordered one from my local bike shop and it should be in today. Its a beautiful day for a ride, so I'm off to Niantic to pick up the proper tool. I'll keep you posted...

The best laid plans of mice and men, as they say. The Velo Orange bottom bracket won't work because my spindle is off set and the VO bb isn't this all equals a chain line that causes the inner chainring to rub on the frame.  The loose ball bearings were a pain to install  on the non drive side but its done.  I decided that some of the problem with the bb loosening had to be from the non drive side since that tightens in the opposite direction of the pedal stroke.   I used locktite on the threads of both cups and it seems to be holding.  The 12 - 36 cassette is working out fine. One note though, the cassette that I had installed before was actually a 11 - 30 even thought the packaging was marked as 11 - 32!  I have also discovered that the weeble of the chainring is due to it being slightly bent.  It works ok but makes a little bit of a rubbing noise which makes me crazy. I guess I'll have to replace it or find a way to sraighten it. Any ideas on how to do this?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tom Danielson Event

Saturday, October 15, 2011
Tom Danielson charity ride to benefit the Connecticut American Heart Association
Ride 25 or 50 miles with the 9th place finisher of the 2011 Tour de France.
Ride starts at East Lyme High School.
Check in at 8:00 AM. The ride leaves at 9:30 AM
2:00 PM meet, greet and get an autograph
Registration Fee $25
To register go to

Two Ferry Ride Update

Sunday, September 18th
Sponsored by Cycling Concepts. They won't be riding the ferries but the ride is still on with new routes, fully supported, cookout afterwards.

100 Mile Route Details

64 Mile Route Details

37 Mile Route Details

For more details go to Cycling Concepts

Old Saybrook, Essex, Westbrook, Ride

Wednesdays ride began in Old Lyme traveled west to the bridge over the Connecticut River to Old Saybrook and traveled west on 154 to Essex. At the junction of 154 & 153 I turned left onto 153. I followed 153 to the junction of 153 & 166 (Spencer Plain Rd) which took me back to Old Saybrook. On Rte 1 (Boston Post Rd) I headed to Saybrook Point.

I meandored through the beach roads and the various roads that run through Fenwick Golf Course which offers beautiful views of the water, the lighthouses and the stately homes. On Fenwick Ave there is a water fountain in front of the tennis courts providing a good place to fill up the water bottles on a hot day.

Many of the trees near the water are either bare or sporting brown leaves from the salty winds of Hurricane Irene.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slowcoast - Soundslide - Hans the cyclist

                                                        Click here to view this soundslide:

Hans the cyclist
By Nick Hand,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Makes a Fixie a Fixie

After seeing a few fixies at the bike show in Mystic and on the internet, I thought I would expore this popular trend a bit more. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name fixie, it is a bicycle with only one gear fixed to the rear hub/wheel. What makes it different from a single speed is that very hub which allows the sprocket to be fixed to it. Eliminating the ability to pedal backwards without moving the wheel backwards which is why you cannot coast on a fixie.
Chris King Single Speed Rear Hub

Chris King rear hub with sprocket.

This means you must pedal going down hills. I am not sure what the mechanical differences of a fixed hub and "regular" hub are but I would be interested in learning.


Some Fixies have brakes, and some do not. They are stopped by putting backward pressure on the pedals, which takes a bit of practice.


Lots of fixies sport colorful tires, rims, pedals,chains, hubs, seats and paint jobs. If you are building up a new bike you are only limitted by your imagination.

Converting an existing bike into a fixed gear requires a frame with a horizontal drop out as seen in the picture below.

white industries

A lot of older 10 speed bikes have horizontal drop outs which make them ideal candidates for a fixed gear conversion. Because of the horizontal drop out and the increased amount of torque caused by a fixed gear the axle is secured to the frame with a nut, rather than a quick release skewer. 

Ready for Spring!!!!

Fat tires are fine if your frame allows

The type of tires, handle bars, pedal, etc. is up to the rider's preferences. The choice of chainring and sprocket will depend on the type of terrain ridden and the riders fitness. 

Why ride a fixie? For some it is a cultural thing, for others its about fitness, efficiency, and the connection with the bike. For others its just fun. Do you ride a fixie, if so what do you like about them?

Slowcoast - Soundslide - Why I ride

Soundslides by Nick Hand our a collection of pictures shown while the people in the pictures talk about themselves and the objects in the pictures. Nick Hand made these soundslides while he toured the coast of Great Britain and Ireland

                                                                Click here to view soundslide:

Why I ride
By Nick Hand,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vuelta a Espania 2011 Wrap up

    The 2011 Vuelta was one of the more memorable in recent years,with several days of +100 degrees and 7 red jersey leaders.
                        2011 Vuelta a Espana winner, Juan Jose Cobo

    Peter Sagan wins stage 21's sprint finish, his 3rd stage win of the Vuelta

    Stage 21 Results: 

    1. Peter Sagan, Liquigas-Cannondale (liq), in 2:20:59
    2. Daniele Bennati, Leopard Trek (leo), at 0 

    3. Alessandro Petacchi, Lampre-Isd (lam), at 0 

    4. John Degenkolb, HTC-Highroad (thr), at 0 

    5. Nikolas Maes, Quickstep Cycling Team (qst), at 0 

    2011 Vuelta a Espana GC Results: 

    1. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo, Geox-Tmc (geo), in 84:59:31
    2. Christopher Froome, Sky Procycling (sky), at 13
    3. Bradley Wiggins, Sky Procycling (sky), at 1:39
    4. Bauke Mollema, Rabobank Cycling Team (rab), at 2:03
    5. Denis Menchov, Geox-Tmc (geo), at 3:48
    6. Maxime Monfort, Leopard Trek (leo), at 4:13
    7. Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas-Cannondale (liq), at 4:31
    8. Broeck Jurgen Van Den, Omega Pharma-Lotto (olo), at 4:45
    9. Daniel Moreno Fernandez, Katusha Team (kat), at 5:20
    10. Mikel Nieve Ituralde, Euskaltel-Euskadi (eus), at 5:33 

  • General Classification Top Stats: 

    Third Place -Bradley Wiggens,Team Sky at +1:39 
    Finished 3rd in the individual time trial +1:22 behind TT winner Tony Martin but 3 sec. ahead of Fabian Cancellara the 2010 TT World Champion. He wore the red jersey for 4 days, stages 11-14. In July he crashed out of the the Tour of France with a broken clavical. 

    Second Place - Christopher Froome,Team Sky at +13 
    Finished 2nd in the individual time trial +59 behind TT winner Tony Martin which put him into the leaders red jersey for 1 day. He won stage 17 in a dramatic finish by 1 sec. moving him into 2nd place overall where he would remain 13 seconds behind for the last 4 stages. 

    Winner - Juan Jose Cobo, Geox TMC at 84:39:51 
    The 30 yr old Cobo began the first week of the Vuelta quietly working for Dennis Menchov, but by week 2 he had become the team leader. He finished 3rd in the mountain top stage 9 finish. After the stage 10 individual time trial which he finished 27th at +3:05 he moved into 8th overall. In the mountainous stage 14 he finished 2nd moving him into 4th place in the GC at +55.  In the epic stage 15 final climb of the Angliru he moved into the lead with a super human performance, winning the stage by 48 seconds. In stage 17 he was dropped by Chris Froome on the Pena Cabarga but gutted out a 2nd effort bringing him back to and past Froome, who in the last 100 meters passed Cobo to win the stage by 1 sec. Cobo hung onto the red jersey by 13 seconds never losing anymore time from that point on. Cobo also won the combined jersey. 

    Green Jersey Points Winner: 
    Bauke Mollema - Rabobank at 120 pts 
    Fourth place overall at +2:05 
    In stage 9 he moved into the overall lead after a 2nd place finish. 

    Bauka Mollema moves into the lead after his stage 9 second place finish.

    It was an up down race for Jauquim Rodriguez of team Katusha with 2 stage wins and 2 crashes. After his stage 8 win he wore the red
    jersey for a day. He and Bauka Mollema exchanged possession of the green points jersey several times. At the end of stage 20 they were tied with 115 pts each. Rodriguez began stage 21 after being sick all night with a stomach virus, there was a lot of that at this years Vuelta. He finished 19th overall with 115 pts. 

    Juaquim Rodriguez guts it out to win stage 8, moving into the overall race lead.

    King of the Mountains winner: 
    David Moncoutie - Confidis, won his fourth consecutive King of the Mountains jersey. He also won Stage 11. 

    David Moncoutie wins stage 11 by 1:08 helping add to his King of the Mountain jersey points

Bicycles by the Sea, Follow Up

Yesterday a went to the bike show at Mystic Seaport. It was a small show with only about 5-6 vendors, a bit of a disappointment considering the price of general admission to the Seaport. In terms of value, it was too expensive if you only wanted to look at bikes. If you have never been to the Mystic Seaport and you like bikes as well as early American history, ships and a beautiful setting, then it was worth it, monetarily speaking. Let me apologize in advance for the lack of specifics about each bike, I forgot to bring a notepad so details are to the best of my recall. Also it was sometimes difficult to photograph the bikes because they were often displayed in less than optimal conditions. No studio quality pics here.

Both of these bicycles featured wooden rims, their age and make is unknown. 

Here is a closer look at the wooden handle bars. The saddle on the other bike in the background had Birmingham engraved in the leather, note the small cut out that was later used by Brooks in the late 1800's.

Not much leather left on the saddle. Note the seat stays are fastened to the frame via the seat post clamp, I saw this design on other bikes from the late 1800's. Although the pneumatic tire was invented in 1888 by John Dunlap, I seriously doubt the tires on these bikes are original due to the tread pattern and lack of dry rot. 

A 90's Japanese track bike, Nagasawa fixie. I love the pealized color. The seat is fondly referred to as a hatchet.

This is a training stem which allows easy adjustment for various riders.
sweet lug detail

This late 1800's Columbia single speed tandem was one of my favorites. It features a loop frame in the front and diamond in the rear. Presumably a woman was supposed to ride in the front and a man in the back. Some other particulars to note are the wooden rims, and the crank design which made it easier for 
 the woman to pedal while the man pushed a higher gear.

Here again is the same integrated seat post bolt and seat stays.

The rod brake up front is the only brake for the entire bike! The design is about as simple as it gets. If you look closely you will note a curved metal bar attached to the left side of the fork running down to the the second head tube just beyond the cranks. This allows the steering to be controlled by both riders.

This bike was made by Westfield Manufacturing (Columbia) in the late 1800's. It had a rear suspension and the same integrated seat post bolt - seat stay attachment as seen in some of the previous bikes. 
 The T seat post seams to have been a common design for this era.
  Westfield Manufacturing headbadge
I don't know what the syracuse on the headbadge is all about. If anyone has any ideas I would love to here them.

Circa 1930's Western Flyer (single speed, balloon tires)
Circa 1930 AFC tricycle (refurbished)

The Pedersen bicycle was designed by Mikael Pedersen circa 1984 after a suspension bridge. This bicycle was made by Copenhagen Pedersen who began reproducing the Pedersen in 1978 with modern components.

The saddle is one of the most out standing features of the Pedersen. As can be seen in the photo above it is suspended by a strap like a hammock and indeed like a hammock there isn't anything beneath the saddle in terms of support. Unfortunately for me the bike was too large for me to ride, but the vendor held the bike so I could sit on the saddle. It was like sitting on a sling with the leather sides bending to sides of my inner thighs. The ride was described to me as being light and providing a feeling of floating. I really would of liked to have ridden it to see for myself. To see and read more history and pictures about the Pedersen click here.

Picture of a Copenhagen Pedersen in action.

The weather was perfect and I enjoyed talking with the various vendors. Below are couple of non-bike related pics I snapped of the Seaport.