Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Streetview Porsche Spy Shots

From Garage 419 via Autoblog comes this little gem that I thought I just had to share. I'm sure most of you have played around with Google Streetview, and maybe some of you have seen some of the scores of pictures people have posted of things Google unintentionally caught while photographing. But what about prototype Porsches?

I've seen scores of camouflaged cars on the roads of Colorado being tested out for high altitude, low temperatures, or deep snow. Most times all you see is a glimpse of some grotesque shrouded object moving the other way down the road. Also, its rare you get to see something truly interesting. A camo'ed new Aveo is hardly something I chase down.

This is different. While checking out good driving routes, Garage419 happened to find a gaggle of Porsche engineers and their steeds atop 14,000 foot Mt. Evans. Check it out yourself, because its on the interwebs for good now. Nothing groundbreaking in sight, no Panameras, but entertaining nonetheless.

Christmas in the Butte

Spent Christmas in Crested Butte this past week. Practically the entire country has been getting crazy snowfall, and in the Rockies this has created some of the most dangerous avalanche conditions anyone has seen in a long time. Because of this Crested Butte had hardly any of their extreme terrain open so we spent the time enjoying soft snow covered groomers and bump runs.

One day while skiing with our ski patrol buddy H we spotted at least three fresh avalanches caused by bombs that had taken entire pitches from 40+ inch bases down to rock. Starting over with those then... Its amazing that with over 100 inches of snow so far this year they haven't even been able to open the Headwall.

The weather was snowy and seriously cold (duh, this is CB after all) so we spent plenty of time indoors as well. However, during two days when we didn't ski I went slightly crazy building a snow wall which turned into a fort which turned into a bar which turned into a neighborhood Jager gathering. Great stuff. Here are some pics.

CB's namesake.
Big Bob getting down with some turkey carving.
Ed hiding behind the Macallan
Graham busting through the fortified driveway wall we had built while he was skiing.
The above mentioned SnoBar getting ready for a party.If I was either of these guys I'd have migrated to Bermuda by now. Temp was -20F when I took this.
Heading back to Boulder. Sun was just coming up as I summited Monarch creating some seriously beautiful light.And finally, a little video of Big Bob checking out the new bar.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays

Click the pic for Abby and I's Holiday card!

Marshall Mesa Dowdy Draw Snow Singletrack Epic Luciousness

Big Keith left me a particularly motivating message this morning about how he was getting out braving the elements and that I should HTFU. This left me with no choice but to pick out my three favorite cold weather riding outfits, put all of them on over eachother, and head out.

My route took me out along the open space paths to Marshall Mesa where I exhausted the collection of trails between there and Dowdy Draw. Trail conditions were laughably good. Its been so damn cold that everything is frozen solid, there was no mud and the snow was so set up it has similar grip levels as the fine sand here in the summer. All in all things turned out far better than expected, especially considering the ominous snow clouds over the divide.

Heading out South Boulder Creek under blue skies.

35 miles is a lot of pedaling on the one speed.

Starting out Marshall Mesa with minimal snow cover.

By Dowdy Draw things were pretty white.
Snowy singletrack. Who knew it could be so good?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Rig

Three years ago I bought this Gary Fisher rig 29er singlespeed at Ubikes. This year I replaced the frame with a Spot, but the life of the Rig was far from over, in fact, it was only starting. I've been scheming for sometime about building an ultimate commuting machine and the Rig frame turned into the perfect foundation. Over the past few months I've been collecting everything I needed and its now done and rolling.

First off I bought a Shimano 7 speed internal hub and built the rear end around this. Once I special ordered verticle dropout-specific anti-rotation washers for the hub, the Fisher's eccentric bottom bracket made it super easy to tension the chain and after much trial and error I got everything dialed and shifting. Up front I kept the same wheel and fork that the bike came with, but I installed the super funky Mary SS moustache bars and a ludicrously tall stem to keep things comfy and upright. Braking is taken care of with a single rear v-brake hooked up to a gigantic old school Campy lever that's perfect for gloved use.

No good all weather townie is complete without fenders, so I went for a seatpost mounted, clip-on rear beast of a fender called 'The Defender.' No wet butt with this baby. For the front wheel I installed a fender which mounts to a star nut you pound into the bottom of the steerer tube. This solution keeps it out of the way for the suspension fork while still turning with the wheel.

Lighting is taken care of via an assortment of 'hipster cysts' or Knog lights. I've got 5 white LEDs looking forward and two flashing red ones for the rear. Pedals are super grippy BMX style flats for ultimate grip in snow and ice. In my humble opinion there's just about nothing better than WTB tires so I'm running a 2.55 Weirwolf LT in the front and a 2.1 Motoraptor in the rear, mounted backwards for traction. I am however tempted by Nokian's line of studded winter tires...

Looks like the MINI is going to see less use on snow days, which is fine by me. Save it for the Moab trips.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Every Flight on Earth

This is cool. Put together by the Zurich School of Applied Sciences, it shows every scheduled daily flight in the world over a 24 hour period. My favorite is watching the flow of jets across the Atlantic as the sun moves across the earth. Eastbound at night, westbound during the day. Amazing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The safest cars are French?

Last night I was hanging out after work sipping a few Sessions at Vecchios and the subject of conversation was cars. Specifically, the Big 3 debacle that's playing itself out in the halls of Washington. We were discussing the merits of each company, as well as an assortment of European cars that don't exist in America. Seats, Skodas, Fiats, Alfas, Renaults, Citroens, and Peugeots, as well as the Euro branches of GM (Vauxhaul, Opel) and Ford. Would some of these other brands make a return to the states should the Big 3 dissapear?

It seems, if people's impressions last night were anything to go by, that most have a mountain to climb before repairing their reputations stateside. Fiat's, and Italian cars in general, don't exactly stand for reliability as far as most Americans are concerned. Chances are you know someone who has a fond remembrance of an Italian car. However, most of the stories are probably filled with smoke and skinned knuckles, but when an old Alfa or Fiat spider was running, people loved them. Not for an everyday car though.

The French have it worse off. When I mentioned that Renault was an equal partner with Nissan and one of the most respected car companies in the world, not to mention a dominant force in Formula 1 for two and half decades, people were shocked. They immediately thought less of the Nissan Versa when I told them it was based on the Renault Megane. Huh?!

Citroen are known for that one car, with the crazy body, and not much else, while old Peugoets actually have a bizarre cult following among retro grouch cyclists. The common theme was that everyone expected French cars to be one step above Communist Cars, which isn't good.

Because of my obsessive reading of Car and Evo magazines, I have different impressions of all these brands.

Seats are just VWs with a sense of style and flair. Fiats are fun reliable city cars, with the 500 being the pick of the litter. Alfas are now as reliable and modern as they are beautiful and desirable. And Renaults, which had everyone laughing out loud remembering Le Car, is known for safety and making the best hot hatches in the business. If you don't believe me, check out these five cars that I'd drive home tomorrow but aren't available stateside.

Renaultsport Megane R26.R

Citroen C6

Fiat 500 Abarth

Seat Leon Cupra K

and, even though you can't buy this anymore, its one of my favorites, the Renault Avantime, which Top Gear recently souped up...

Anyways, along the lines of automobile stereotypes, this Renault ad makes me laugh. See, they really are known for safety.

Renault Gold Effie from Yildiray Atas on Vimeo.

Back in the day awesomeness

I stumbled across this picture of my good friend Matt Hebberd from way back in the day ('79?) when he was a 17 year old punk ass trying out a new sport consisting of riding retro-fitted cruiser bikes to places they had no business being. Talk about bad-ass. This looks like it was shot near Gothic outside of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Many you have probably ridden the world famous trails in this valley. Not many of you have ever ridden them on your townie while wearing jeans, with what looks to be a gold anodized 53 tooth front chainring. I think I saw Cancellara ride this chainring in the tour this year... Other stylish elements worth noting:

-The red cords/black turtleneck riding kit on the left, possibly the most functional of the group due to corduroy's less chafetastic nature. Denim would be brutal on a 2 hour climb...
-Matt's chef's cap. Useful if you want to whip up some croissants when you get home.
-The white cable housing, which is now mandatory equipment for the coolest of cool racers.
-The pie plate, which according to BikesnobNYC in this post, is acceptable in this application as a direct result of the shitiness of the derailleur being used.
-Rear suspension... built right into the saddles. Also helpful to scare wildlife out of your way due to the noise rusty springs tend to create.
-Everyone's expression seems to say, "what the f#$% are we doing out here with these town bikes?" Shirtless dude on right seems particularly pissed off. Only Matt seems to have a slightly amused look, probably because his mad riding skills allowed him to actually have fun on his bike.

All this makes Hebb-dogg and the others in this picture way cooler than you or me. So next time I'm feeling a little 'off' on a mountain bike ride as I sail along, suspended on a magic carpet of 6" travel, virtual pivot point, hydraulic braked, 27 speed goodness, I'll think about this crew and HTFU.

And to those of you who did ride 401 (or any trail for that matter) on a cruiser bike with jeans; thanks for figuring it all out back then so I could be a softie today.

Almost 30 years later at Bartlett Wash. Hebberd still showing the way, just as he does at his day job.


From February last spring through October my job consisted almost entirely of working on bringing 1000 bikes to both the DNC and RNC. Bikes Belong, in partnership with Humana, a health insurance company from Louisville, loaned out the bikes for free over the four days of the conventions. Our goal was to show how great bikes are to get around city centers, as originally demonstrated by the Velib program in Paris, France. It turned out great, we rented tons of bikes and people loved it. Humana has continued to pursue bike sharing and they've created Bcycle in partnership with Trek Bikes and Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Bcycle's website launched recently and its pretty amazing. Check it out here and see how this could change the face of cities we live in.

Also, here's a video I made (that you may have already seen) about the Velib program in Paris.

Bikes Belong presents: Velib from Bikes Belong Coalition on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Auto Club De Monaco

Continuing the fuel consumption theme from today... Shot from the balcony of the Hotel de Paris one evening during the 2008 Historique Grand Prix weekend.

Auto Club de Monaco from Mat Barlow on Vimeo.

Top Gear Fuel Efficiency Tests

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Deepest snowfall yet

Last night it snowed the better part of 8 inches in town so today a messy snow ride was mandatory. This time of year is pretty much why I own a 29er single speed as its simplicity and ability to keep momentum are perfectly suited to shenanigans like this.

The belt keeps things smooth no matter the grit. Actually, the first really cold ride I did had the belt squeaking like a cold chairlift pulley wheel, but we seem to have moved past that.
Now its staying smooth and quiet no matter the abuse. Notice I'm also running ice cubes as my rear disc caliper. Very effective.

Christmas Lights

We put up our first Christmas lights at our own house this weekend. Pretty fun stuff. I went for a variety of white lights, with some newly purchased LEDs as well as a combo of old school bulbs to detune the Audi look.

Note the tree in the front room. Now for some snow, which we got today, so I'll have to retake these...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Continuing today's snow theme...

White Morning Ride!

The first real snow day of the year is always one of my favorites. The second I saw snow out the window this morning in the trees I was up in an instant rifling through my winter clothes to find my snow pants. It was a total Calvin and Hobbes moment. After shoveling for a while (which I love) it was time to get together my best arctic explorer kit and head to work on two wheels. Fun stuff.

The belt drive's smooth running simplicity was perfect for schussing snow banks.
Boulder immaculately maintains its bike path system, no matter the weather.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Photos from Thanksgiving in Moab

Hiking above Mill Creek on Thanksgiving day we spotted the bird rock. I don't know if I've ever seen a turkey that looked this majestic, but it sure previewed the gigantic bird we'd eat later that night.

The bird in question, post cooking with our crafty hats.
Abby with her Thanksgiving outfit.
Abby heading into the mountains. 300mm zoom lens really pulls together the mountains and the desert. Awesome.
Our holiday peleton in front of some decent scenery.
Don't look down.
Glamor shot of the Spot on Slickrock. Climbing up the road from town was a hell of a challenge on the one-speed but it was fun once we were up.
Another snowy mountains/rock desert shot. We got some serious light shows last week.
Clouds over Up the Creek.
Exploring Arches National Park

If you'd like to check out a larger library from the trip, check out my mobileme gallery here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rolling in the Slipstream

Today, unbeleivably, I got to ride one of my favorite road routes with one of my favorite road teams; Garmin Slipstream. The Argyle Armada has set up camp in Boulder this week to get a little team-building and relaxation taken care of in the off-season. I figured there was a slight chance that here, in the dead of the off-season, I might be able to hang on for a ride with them.

This morning we gathered outside the St. Julien hotel where the team has been staying at 10am. The entire European and US based team was there as well as a handful of journalists and yours truly.

Leaving town and heading north on 36 I was amazed to find myself chatting with Dave Z and Tom Danielson while sitting behind Magnus Backstedt. We were about 20 or so back in the pack and taking full adantage of the draft soft pedaling at around 28mph. Then we turned west up Left Hand Canyon toward Jamestown and Ward. You can see the team cars with photogs in the back in this shot getting pics for the mags.
David Millar turns us around near Jamestown for the return to town.

I spent a fraction to long at the turnaround point chatting and found myself lagging behind the peleton as we started up the ferociously steep back of Lee Hill. Thats the group just in sight in this shot.
And this is my face as I crested Lee Hill trying my damnest to keep America's newest Protour team in sight.
By the bottom of the decent I had bridged back to the team and we hooked right onto Broadway heading back toward downtown. At this point in my usual rides I'd jog sideways onto a less trafficed street. Not so when you're riding with Garmin...
When you've got David Millar, Bradley McGee, Magnus Backstedt and David Zabriskie pulling for you its fine to take up a lane of Broadway and cruise at 35mph through town.
The equipement these guys ride is pretty amazing. I'd never heard anything like the squeel of thirty sets of Zipp carbon tubular wheels under braking before this ride, or the sound of 20 powertap rear hubs clicking down into a climbing gear. Its something I won't soon forget.
But no matter how bling Garmin's Felts are I still felt compelled to snap a shot of the Eriksen in front of this world class show.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'll take it

Turkey week in Moab looks to be promising in the weather department. Should go some way toward justifying why I want to take four different bikes with me...

Check out the webcam from Red Cliff Lodge this morning. Not bad at all.

Changing gears

For my birthday this year Abby took care of me with a new crankset for my Eriksen. The c5 as I call it, for Campagnolo Chorus Carbon Compact Crankset. This is something I've been lusting over for a long time as I live in Boulder, enjoy climbing, and there's a ton of it around here. Lots of it is seriously steep too, so my previous low gear of 39x25 was pretty brutal at times. At the same time I'm physically way more adept at turning big gears in the flats, so I didn't want to loose any top end speed. Thanks to the girlfriend, I now have the following finely crafted Italian ratios with increased range.

Ratio : Speed at 90rpm
High 52x12 : 49.3kph / 50x11 : 53.7kph
Low 39x25 : 17.7kph / 34x25 : 15.5kph

+ 4.4kph of speed on the top end and - 2.2 on the bottom. I like that, and before you ask about bigger gaps between cogs, remember that I spend lots of time on a single speed. So anything is a bonus after that. Initial impressions are great. All the climbs which previously had me rocking around like a shelled domestique can now be conquered with slightly more high rpm spinning, or as close to it as a 100kg oaf can manage. Good stuff.