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  • Jul 18 2014

    My Race on a Brompton [@ BUSC 2014]


    Perennial Cycle has been the host of the Brompton US Championship for the past two years. Meeting all of the racers has made me want to participate, despite the fact that I'm not a racer (I must be a competitive commuter). This year BicycleSpace, a shop in Washington DC, hosted the event which gave me the opportunity to do this. Perennial Cycle has a lightweight, speedy demo Brompton that I rode quite a bit last summer. I felt this S2L-X would be a great choice for the event, so a few weeks before the race I started putting some miles on the bike with my sights set on losing a few pounds as well as getting in shape (I was taking my cues from Spencer Morse who is one of the strongest Brompton racers I've seen).

    busc7out on an extended morning ride to work before heading to DC

    I got in the best shape I can muster (I'm a 51 year old realist) and did in fact lose the 5 pounds I was aiming for. I made some tweaks to the bike, but didn't bother up'ing the gearing as the 7% reduced gears were pretty much all I could handle. Race day brought on a sickening mix of heat and humidity. This was certainly an edge up for me having been raised by two South Dakotans that were raised during the depression. They happened to be Norwegians as well, which meant that until it hit 100° the temperature was never mentioned and then only in a neighborly fashion ("I sure hope it´s not so hot that the day lilies droop..."). I happened to be standing with my bike near Jordan as he called out for the racers to start lining up their bikes, so I went right up and set my folded bike in the front row.

    DSC_9469f turning on my camera before the race

    I envisioned myself running up and quickly unfolding my bike and heading out first, but running up the lanes with a lot of people was challenging to do without crashing. I patiently worked up to my bike and methodically unfolded it and hit the road with probably less than 20 people in front of me. All good.... Up and riding, feeling good on the bike with the seat height correct and even straight : )

    busc5Racing to my bike at the start

    The first half lap was a big loop through and around a couple of RFK Stadium parking lots. By the time I finished this section I was past almost all but the speed demons. The next section was cobblestone that wove through Congressional Cemetery. This started with a fairly steep climb and by the time I got to the top of this I could see a group of four racers that were in the lead. At this point I passed the last person other than the lead group and saw a big strong rider pulling up behind me. It was Peter of NYCE Wheels and I smiled and mumbled something incoherent. He drafted me for a moment, but was quickly moving past me nodding for me to grasp his draft. I managed it for all of about 10 seconds and then yelled "good luck" to him and in a flash he was gone. With the first of my 3-1/2 laps completed the race was feeling pretty lonely. Not a great feeling being that I had envisioned working with someone to break the wind with, but before the second lap was completed I had a lone rider ahead. I caught and passed him (Alex) for a while and then he caught and passed me, and this back and forth went on. At about lap 2-1/2 Alex and I caught a rider that had been holding with the lead pack, but now the heat was getting the best of him and he was dragging a bit. Alex and I passed him and continued our cat and mouse past lap 3. With about a mile left in the race I passed Alex for the last time. The heat must have worked him down, so I crossed the finish line in fourth place thinking I was done, but got no signs from anyone and I just wasn't 100% sure if I had done all the laps (duh). So without even thinking it over I went on to do one more lap. I feel pretty silly about that, but it just points out is how unseasoned a racer I am.

    busc6these are all the BUSC 2014 racers that were at last year's BUSC in Minneapolis

    The weekend was super fun and while I loved being part of the actual race, I have to say that all the weekend's events were an absolute blast. Being with a group of Brompton superfans is a ball : ) Friday night at the British Embassy, Saturday's Brompton Urban Challenge, and Sunday's Championship race were all great fun to be a part of. If you have a chance to participate in the Brompton US Championship in the future, I'd highly recommend it. While my post talks about the race in a competitive tone, the majority of participants are out to ride with a large group of politely paced racers that are all connected by there lovely Brompton Folding Bicycles.

    Here are some links regarding the weekend: -my pictures on Flickr -gallery by Amy Ta -BicycleSpace's recap (with event video) -Washington Post article and video about BUSC 2014 -Brompton US Championship website


  • May 16 2014

    Almanzo: A Sustainability Plan

    almanzo2014 I was out on an extended ride to work on Wednesday in hopes of building a bit more confidence for tomorrow's Almanzo (too late for my legs, but not too late for my head) and I realized that as great as a "keep it simple" approach to Almanzo race management is, this is likely to cost Chris (and family) a 5 figure sum of money. For say... $12/rider, I can't imagine a better run event for a massive group of people, but at over 1,000 riders that's adding up to an amount that few families could swallow year after year. Is it time (or even possible) to come up with an unofficial sponsor plan? I think it is. Shops that are within 100 miles of Spring Valley are all hearing about customers prepping for Almanzo. Prepping means riding their bikes and doing stuff that keeps us in business. Cool. I'm thinking $250 is an amount that would reasonable. Is someone from the shop riding Almanzo? How about sending a check to "Skogen" with them so they can drop it in the bucket before the race. Racers can help by tossing $10 in the bucket. If that hurts, how about a fiver? I'm quite certain that any amount would help. Many manufacturers are grabbing at the awesomeness of Almanzo. This is smart of them. Like the bike shops and the riders, they too should add some $$ to the bucket. Not being a manufacturer, this is a difficult one for me to put a dollar amount on. Maybe $250 for those on the fringes and up to a sweet grand if you are developing high-end products specifically marketed to gravel grinders. I'm open to suggestion here. Local businesses that gain from the Almanzo: In my view this group gets a pass on the money, but we all count on them heavily to strongly support Almanzo from a neighbor, city and county level. Another point worth mentioning is that it takes a lot of effort setting up the event and then a large day-of team of volunteers. Reaching out to be a worker-bee for  the event would likely be very, very helpful. This stream of consciousness-type plan may be worth less than the pixels you're staring at, but I think a discussion about the reality of this event is healthy and necessary. None of the numbers are real, but my own guesstimations. And BTW, no one loves riding Almanzo as much as myself. Look for me to be dropping my check in the bucket before the race tomorrow. I'm certain I will be smiling, though I should probably be nervous about the ride...
  • Jan 09 2014

    What matters in a -25º commute?

    Busch & Muller Luxos U Dynamo Light

                                                                     Busch & Müller Luxos U Dynamo Light

    Commuting at -25º always has people questioning your sanity. Every day this week has been a sanity test (I failed) and today was the big warm up to above zero (it was 1º above). I've been thinking about what I'd consider the most valuable piece of equipment when commuting in those temps... While I love my long johns, choppers, and wide-ranging wool, poly, fleece and wind shell layers, it's really all about lights. Face it, getting run over by a bus at 6am at -25º would be pretty disastrous and Mom is not going to ask the ambulance driver if my toes were cold. Dynamo lighting is a big focus here at the shop and one of the reasons for that is that commuters rely upon their lights to survive. With dynamo lighting you don't need to wonder if your batteries are at full strength — spinning the front wheel is what powers the light. Good stuff!



    Be sure and check out our dynamo display bike the next time you're in the shop:

  • Jul 06 2012

    Riding the Powderhorn 24

    Riding the Powderhorn 24 Riding in Minneapolis' Powderhorn 24 bike race stands out as one of the most fun events I've been involved in by bike—ever. The field of riders is men, women, teams, solo riders, unicycles, recumbents, road bikes, touring bikes, folding bikes, fixies, single-speeds, etc, etc. All riding together... for 24 hours. The wide range of cyclists and wheels big and small all riding together made a bit of a party out of it (to say nothing of the hundreds of people camped along the Greenway's start/finish area). Trapped together in the maze of the Powderhorn neighborhood, we all shared an intense need to keep going and going and going. Minneapolis bike culture at its best! Calhoun Cycle owner Luke Breen rides his recumbent in the 2012 Powderhorn 24The route was simple, or so it seemed. There was about a 5 mile loop that started and finished on the greenway. The loop (or lap) was a fairly straightforward ride that made a rectangular pattern out in the open streets (not a closed race course) around Powderhorn Park. The lap had 4 checkpoints that you had a hole punched on your lap counting card that we were all wearing as necklaces. If you missed a checkpoint, the next checkpoint would not give you a punch and this way it was obvious that everyone was hitting all checkpoints every lap. When I signed up I didn't pay attention to anything beyond it being a 24 hour ride. Upon learning about the checkpoints I thought it was something a bit different than I imagined and I considered bailing out, but thanks to peer pressure (I signed up with a friend whom I had done a 24 hour ride with once before) I kept my doubts somewhat in check. After finding out we wouldn't just have our laps counted, we'd have bonus checkpoints throughout the 24 hours within a mile of the route, I worried we were on the verge of a potential disaster. Truth: the last 24 hour ride Derek and I did together led to us making some irrational decisions starting at about 14 hours in and were pretty much completely delirious for the last 8 hours (and that was a simple ride to Duluth and back!). The roll out with a few hundred spectators cheering the couple hundred riders was exciting and we quickly got into a rhythm and discovered that even with all the stops, we were able to keep up a decent pace and within a couple of laps we had a route that was making sense to us. An hour in and we had over 15 miles under our belts and then we get handed a manifest with our fist 5 bonus stops (each with 2 hours windows to stop at them). The bonuses forced us to start thinking beyond the laps. We had to go to a Beehive where we added antennas to our helmets to turn us into bees (worker bees, for sure), did a karaoke stint to Rocket Man, raced through a little obstacle course on a tiny kids bike, rode a lap on a Nice Ride, did yoga, played out a bit of an operetta (I was Crete, stirring up the seas), tried a little bike polo on my recumbent, wrote a Haiku, learned about in-season veggies at the Midtown Farmers Market, etc, etc. Phew! The bonus (!) of the bonus stops was that they kept us sane (though they were mostly doing things that took me out of my comfort zone) and the constant encouragement and socializing with other riders kept up our pace and sometime Saturday morning we had ridden a double century and a triple seemed do-able. How cool is this, eh? Things continued going smoothly for us and while we didn't make the triple, we did end up clocking 275 miles over a total of 51 official laps. The final lap was glorious in that the "race" was over and all the riders were content with simply finishing off the lap (only full laps were counted) and celebrating an amazing accomplishment. Thanks to all who came out to cheer us on, to the organizers and volunteers of the Powderhorn 24, and to our fellow riders! Post-race group shot from the Powderhorn 24. A crowd of participants pose with their bicycles on a hill along the Greenway in Minneapolis Here's some video that I shot:

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