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Showing posts from June, 2014

Florida Prepares for Cyclocross National

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For a brief moment I thought I was lost. Maybe it was the early morning wake-up, maybe it was a lack of caffeine. My two hour drive north was mostly on the highway but after snaking through a couple small, hilly towns I ended up on a narrow dirt road. There were trees on my left, a pasture on my right but not a person in sight. Even my dashboard Garmin had given up, an Australian female voice named Sheila announced, "You have arrived at your destination." I was parked at a stop sign in front of working railroad tracks wondering where I went wrong?
When I crossed the tracks it was like a magical haze faded away revealing the green rolling hills and meadows of a new world. I took it as a sign, well, there actually was a sign. It said Cyclocross and had an arrow that pointed the way. Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City, Florida is a well hidden slice of heaven. This 2,000 acre working ranch breeds Hanoverian horses, Thoroughbreds and Belted Galloway Cattle. Noted for its expa…

Rise of the Recumbents

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Did you know that the human powered land speed record is 83.13 miles per hour? The record came from a specially designed recumbent bike. Dutch cyclist Sebastiaan Bowier pedaled a streamliner up to that incredible speed for 660 feet in Battle Mountain, Nevada. I remember watching his narrow rocketship like ride on television and thinking, what made his bike go so fast? It was a mystery I had to explore.
Terri and I visited Vite Bikes & Trikes, a relatively new shop on Venice Island, Florida. The owners are John and Jacquie Schlitter. John is an ultraendurance record holder who has been in the recumbent industry for 35 years. He is the first person to complete the Race Across America (RAAM) on a recumbent. His wife Jacquie has also competed in RAAM and holds several records of her own. They were the experts who introduced us to this unusual style of riding.

We had never even seen a recumbent until we started riding in Florida. Here you witness packs of them cruising along in the ea…

Fires Rage in Englewood Parks

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It was my usual ride through Ann Dever park testing the gearing on my new Cyclocross bike when I passed a frazzled jogger. He was decked out in a running suit, shorts and a sleeveless shirt with earplugs attached to a smart phone. He halted me with a warning, "There's a fire up ahead. I called 911 but I don't think you can get through that way." I was heading north on the Conservancy trail and continued on until I saw the smoke. The wind was blowing north so I decided to turn south on the Orange trail and take a right on Purple trail coming up behind the fire.
Before me was a blackened wall of char and smoke that completely blocked the trail. Flames rose high on both sides, climbing up the trees and crackling away at the palmetto bushes. I surveyed the area but decided there wasn't anything I could do. It was far from water and I didn't have a phone. The shifting smoke presented a mild threat so with the wail of sirens coming in, I rode out before things got…

The Zen of Single-Speed

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"Bikes have gears for a reason," said a friend of mine who is a very accomplished off road rider and while I usually respect his opinion, the phrase struck me as odd. If you can go faster on a geared bike then why would someone choose to limit themselves? What is it about riding with a single chain ring that attracts such a passionate following? Having recently bought a Nashbar Single-Speed CX, I was now a new member of this unusual tribe and I was determined to understand their pathos.

The first place to start was on my new bike. Let me give you a little history. I rode bikes as kid, like most people but it wasn't until I was 35 that my interest was re-ignited by a newly blooming bicycle culture. I started on mountain bikes, dived right into XC racing, Downhill and later BMX racing. Now I've decided to try Cyclocross, hence the new SS. Why does all this matter? My history suggests that I ride a lot but that's not entirely true. My riding history has been pot ma…

2014 Nashbar SingleSpeed CX

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It's not easy to compete on a budget but there are ways. The online retailer Nashbar has thrown a bone to cyclocross enthusiasts with an entry level single-speed bike meant to stand up to the rigors of a rugged sport. I snagged one during a Memorial Day sale for only $425. after taxes and shipping. It came right on schedule in about five business days, shipped in a box and hugged lovingly with bubble wrap.
Right from the start I was happy with the attractiveness of the parts. The Chromoly frame is a beautiful dark blue covered in clear coat. Chrome fixtures made it shine and everything clicked into place so easily. I'm a pretty terrible mechanic so if I can put this bike together, anyone can.

As for the pieces and parts, it's a mixed bag of you get what you pay for. I've read in other reviews that people immediately swapped out the pedals. Once I saw what they were, I didn't even unwrap them. The Velo VL-1205 seat is usually the next to go but I was surprised how …

2014 Foundry Harrow Cross Race

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You never know what you might be riding at the end of the day. I had taken a short break from the trails (About a month) in order to hit the weights, strengthen my core and save money. My goal for next season is to try the sport of Cyclocross but first I have to purchase a bike. One morning I got a Facebook message from a SCORR friend named Steve who was going on a two week trip and he was willing to let me borrow his CX steed so I could see what it was like.
The bike was a Foundry Harrow. Foundry is an American cycle producer based in Bloomington, Minnesota but with dealers in 30 states. They seem to pride themselves on sturdy, no nonsense designs meant for continuous use and high performance. Which is appropriate because Steve knows how to take a bike to its limits. He is a local legend in our MTB community having completed numerous distance races including the Leadville Trail 100 (As seen in the movie Race Across the Sky). In fact, this recent two week trip was going to include th…