Cranky's Corner

Give me coffee and no one gets hurt!

Rain, rain, go away…

-rain-clipart-7Well there will be no riding today as it is raining cats and dogs outside. It might be a good night for me to put the 32c tires back on the Tricross… the roads took a beating this winter and the 25′s I have on it now aren’t as forgiving comfort-wise. Hopefully I’ll be back on the road tomorrow and the the snow they are predicting overnight doesn’t turn out to be anything. It’s April 15th, we shouldn’t have to worry about snow now.

To spin or to grind, that is the question!

dura-ace_7900_crankIn my  younger days I honestly couldn’t tell you how I pedaled the bike, I just pushed with my legs and the bike moved, if I got tired I shifted to an easier gear. However more recently, when I was riding my mountain bike regularly I was definitely a “grinder”, that is someone with a low cadence ~70rpm. This certainly worked well for technical single track since there really was never many long straights and with rocks, roots and stumps to avoid there really wasn’t any time to worry or think about it.

When I started riding seriously on the road again last year I just fell into my old mountain biking ways but grinding away on hills was brutal. I began to do a little reading and talking to people and the question arose what was my cadence. The suggestion was to go to an easier gear and spin at around 90-100rpms. This was supposed to have a two fold effect, it’s easier on the leg muscles and thus I should theoretically be able to ride longer.

With my new found suggestions I did just that, hills were a little easier and I found my legs less tired after a climb but I sure was winded! See all that spinning is very aerobic and taxing on the cardiovascular system. It got a little easier every time out but even with my cyclometer/gps programs I really couldn’t say if I was performing better or not.

It wasn’t until someone suggested to me on my group ride last week when I was struggling to stay on the wheel in front of me that I might want to shift up a gear or two. I had gotten so focused on my cadence I completely forgot how to stay with the pack. I’ve only been out a couple of times since that revelation but I stopped watching my cadence, I’m attacking hills harder until the legs burn and then shift to an easier gear until they recover. I don’t seem to have any longevity issues and according to a few Strava segments I’m actually performing better. Honestly it’s like a new found freedom and I think my legs recover faster than my breathing does when I was spinning.

Card carrying member

wcc-logoWell I did it, I went on the club orientation ride and I had a good time. So much so I filled out the online app and joined the club when I got home. It was very well run and run at an easy pace with no pressure. We all eventually settled into mini groups according to our skill levels. I fell into the mid-pack group right where I thought I would be. I do have a lot to learn about riding in packs of people but overall did pretty well and held my own. Overall it was a great experience and I am looking forward to doing more rides with the group.

Cycling clubs

Route 35The majority of my riding to date has been solo with a few excursions here and there with maybe one or two other people. In all my life I don’t think I have ever rode with more than 5 people and we certainly weren’t pacelining and there was always a lot of regrouping.

I enjoy riding solo because it allows me to focus on myself and allows me freedom to just ride where & how I want to. With that said, I do realize I am missing out on the social aspect of cycling and more importantly I believe in order to push myself to be a better cyclist  I need to ride with others.

So today I have an orientation ride scheduled with the largest local cycling club around. I’m not sure what to expect but so far they have been very welcoming and explaining the process to me. It’s obviously geared towards new or very novice riders but it needs to be that way so everyone is evaluated equally and more importantly that everyone is SAFE!

I will post a follow-up later on and let you know if it went horribly wrong or if I submitted my application.

Oh Honey Stinger!

honey_stinger_logoI first discovered Honey Stinger waffles sometime last summer and was instantly hooked! I would always pack a waffle or two on my cycling journeys. They were a refreshing treat when the tank was running low. I would augment them with some chews or gels from other manufacturers… only because I hadn’t discovered those yet from Honey Stinger. A trip to my local REI remedied that and I came home with a couple of different flavors of their chews and a couple of their Classic Gold gels.

By far my favorite chews are the Pink Lemonade. To me they are the best tasting gels ever (and I’ve tried a lot). I buy them by the case and have to fight my girlfriend over them (ok, no real fighting, we share pretty well but they are her favorite workout boost). I haven’t tried all the flavors but the orange and pomegranate flavors are my second favorites right now. I’ve heard good things about the cherry cola flavor so that is on my list to try next – that is if I can ever step away from the pink lemonade.

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Specialized Customer Relations

specialized_logoBack when I was a teen in the ’80s I remember coveting the Specialized product brochures that used to come in the mail. Oh how I wanted one of those bikes.

Those were some lasting impressions and I now finally own one of those bikes I used to drool over as a teen. I had a great experience with my local independent bike shop but what I didn’t know at the time is how personal “corporate” gets with their customers.

After my purchase I filled out my registration online and answered the canned questions on my purchase and intended use. It’s pretty standard fare for any type of product registration, you fill it out and never hear from the company again.

Well needless to say I was surprised when I received a personal email from one of their product marking specialists. It wasn’t just some canned email going to a generic account, but a real live human being looking to understand their riders needs for future development. There was a set of questions that I gladly replied to which then turned into a decent email exchange with my sharing of some riding stores and photos of the bike in use.

Maybe I impress easy but to me that is great interaction with their customers. Never have I received a personal email from another company representative looking to understand their customer wants & needs better. If their great bikes didn’t already win me over as a customer their customer relations surely would have.

My cycling background

Life is a Beautiful RideI’ve been on 2 wheels for most of my life. The first “real” bike I can remember was a Schwinn Stingray, blue over silver with a banana seat and a coaster brake. Not only did I ride that bike as much as I could it also got me started with mods and tinkering. Changed the seat, handlebars, grips, chain, you name it. I was hooked.

My next bike after that was a “grown-up” 10 speed… except that it was yellow and it was from Sears. So as you can guess it didn’t have the best components on it and I destroyed several rear derailleurs in short order, twigs and mud can really do a number on them, especially when they are made of cheap plastic. I was a man ahead of my time… I was riding that bike like I was a CX racer long before I ever even heard about CX.

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I’m back!

Well after a long hiatus from blogging I decided to dust off the domain name and start anew. I recently came across a couple of good cycling blogs (Fit Recovery & All Season Cyclist) that have inspired me to dip my toe into the pool once again. As you may have guessed I will likely be focusing on my cycling endeavors with some reviews mixed in but that is not to say I won’t ramble on about day to day stuff either.

So bear with me while I dust somethings off and do some rearranging and get back into the swing of this blogging thing.

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