KC/DC Cycle

Ride to live... live to ride

Friday, September 10, 2010

Choice of tire width has been a process. My needs have changed over the years. When I was young I converted the 20" useful tires to ones that were stylish sllicks. After getting a bike for longer mileage rides I was converted to skinnier tires. Then the pursuit for faster high pressure tires ensued. The pinnacle of that pursuit was my Vredestein Fortezza SEs with 160 PSI. I rode those for several years until I came upon the idea of comfort.

What a novel concept. Now instead of high pressure and narrow racing design I seek thicker wider comfort tires. I like a 26" X 1.5 or 2" now or 700C 40s. They're a joy to ride and are not that much slower for me. I also just enjoy the ride more. I ride enough on rough ground to appreciate a tire that soaks up some of that vibration.

I have never had much of a problem with flats. I've had problems with fixing flats when I've got them. Flats are best left for those who know how to fix them. To avoid flats get good tires and replace them when they get worn out. Over 49 years of riding I've had about 20 flats. I am spoiled by having someone who will pick me up if stranded. I have finally started carrying a frame pump, spare tube, tire irons and repair kit. Most of my years I carried none of these.

There are 3 valves for tubes that I'm aware of. The two common ones are Schrader and Presta. Schrader are like car tires. Presta are commonly found on 700C wheels. There are several common sizes of wheels: 26", 700C and 27". 26" wheels tend to have large tires for off road riding. They are often knobby treaded tires for mountain bikes. 700C and 27" tend to be much smaller road tires. Lately there are more fat tires available for 700C wheels, up to 40mm. Usually the pressure of 26" tires is much lower in the sub 100PSI range while the 27" and 700C are high double digits to mid-100s. There are slicks available for 26" wheels so that the ride is better for road riding. I have found this alternative appealing.


Sunday, September 05, 2010


Wind is by far the worst weather to deal with on a bike. I can deal with sun, snow, rain, cold weather. Humidity can be a bear, too, but wind is so discouraging.

For rain there are helmet covers, ponchos, fenders, etc. I find the shoe covers useful in short rains. I have not tried them in heavy rain circumstances. The rain gear designed to keep OUT moisture will also keep IN moisture(perspiration). No matter how much venting and technology that is used I have not found anything that works as it says it will in terms of breathability. Breathability is a term Goretex uses. It means the material lets sweat dissipate from within the clothing to the outside, while not allowing rain to permeate. I do not buy a lot of the high tech gear, so I am not a source of information in that regard. I have tried a few Goretex items like shoes, jacket, mitten covers and none have been all that good for the breathability. I tend to get hot when riding. That may be different for others.

Ponchos have much more exposure to air and therefore, thru their low tech approach allow air flow during rainfall which provides additional cooling from the air movement. I have a poncho with a hood that I bought from Campmor. I don't use the hood because it makes me too warm. The big problem with the poncho is the front of the poncho pools water between the handlebar and the shoulders. When you move your hands from the bars the pooled water pours onto your feet. Another problem with the poncho is that you can't see your hands and feet. This makes it hard to know what gear you are in or to shift at all if you use downtube shifters. On my commuter bike I have bar end shifters which allows me to shift without stretching the poncho too far.

Snow and ice are obviously treacherous for any two-wheeled vehicle. I rode motorcycles for 18 years thru all kinds of weather. I rode all my life in snow and ice on bicycles. In our area the climate is mild and snow is relatively rare. Ice is fairly regular here in the winter which gives me adequate experience to be an expert. It is very hard to be sure you see the ice. Our streets in this area are fairly saturated with chemicals so I can count on most roads being ice free. Remember that it only takes a tiny patch of ice at the wrong place to cause major lasting pain or worse.

When riding in possible icy conditions and you come upon an unavoidable ice patch stabilize yourself on the bike and ride straight thru without turning, leaning or braking. Be aware that when temperatures hover above and below freezing thru a period of days there will be pools of water that refreeze at night. Those ice patches are especially treacherous. As in all circumstances, if you are at all unsure of a roads condition, claim your lane so that you have plenty of space to travel to get around potential problems.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

From the accomplishment of learning to ride a bike and the enjoyment of developing those skills to the physical challenge of going further on a journey bicycling has been a joy. I still enjoy the exhilaration of reaching to peak of even a 100 foot high hill. When the bicycle disappears and becomes part of my journey I've reached a level of deep satisfaction. I'm not worried about selecting a gear or what to do if I flat I'm just on a journey.

The journey becomes a series of breaths that I can focus on. I am totally aware of my body like a yogi. I can pursue another cyclist, select a hill to climb or go into rest stage. During these times my mind sets aside my daily worries and preoccupations. My life is transformed into 'here and now'.

My choices of what to do with a journey are only limited by who I am. My life is constrained by fatherhood of two fairly grown children, spousal needs, and employment/home ownership. I could take off on a ride all night if I wanted to be tired at work the next day. I don't like to pay that price.

During my life journey I look for challenges like certain hills I know. I look for day trips or longer multi-day extended vacations. I dream of taking interesting photographs and drawing portraits of interesting strangers. I dream of cycling in a foreign land and performing personal 'diplomatic missions' as a western citizen.

I enjoy sharing my cultural heritage with others. I have a small backpacking guitar I'd like to carry along and perform with to communicate where words are inadequate.

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