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Monthly Archives: December 2016

‘Tis the Winter of My Discontent…

I can’t remember the last time we knew it was going to be a white Christmas in southeastern Michigan.  A few years ago the temperature went below 18 degrees on the 18th of November and it didn’t rise above that point again until late February but we had sparse snow until January.  I remember this because it’s tied to my sobriety anniversary.

This winter is a different story:

This year, we’re getting pounded.  Record cold, lots of snow.

Last year, while it was cold, we were at least cycling into January.  This year, without picking up a fat bike and some studded tires, we’re stuck inside on the trainers:

There are obviously worse places to be…  After suffering a sprained ankle at work a couple of weeks ago, I still haven’t regained full range of motion.  On the other hand, I only took one day off riding.  It was painful, cycling, but not ridiculously so.

A few points on that front:

1.  I truly believe that, were it not for the stability/strength of my legs created by cycling, the sprain would have been much worse.  I’ve sprained my ankles in the past, much worse, wrenching them less violently.  

2.  I was pain-free after a couple of weeks, standard for a decent sprain.  I did, and didn’t, “listen to my body”.  I iced my ankle withing three hours of an unsuccessful attempt at “walking it off”.  The walking didn’t help, the icing did, immensely.  I didn’t listen to common practice and take a week, or more, off.  The way the ankle felt after intermittent icing for the entire afternoon/evening didn’t warrant being laid up.  

3.  Recovery is to blame for this way of doing things.  I learned that truth is not always comfortable, or what I want.  I learned that honesty is the easiest path to happiness…

All too often I see people and read of people overusing injury to warrant lethargy.  It is indeed rare to see someone work around ailments to stay fit.

I am afflicted, as most are, with that melon committee member who constantly advocates doing less, pushes for more couch time, more food, more fat, and an easier gear on my bicycle.  I know the difference between listening to my body and listening to the committee.  I know my enemy.

There are, without question, those ailments that require rest.  Not many can’t be worked around though.  Besides, I want to drop below a 2,200 calorie a day diet like I want a hit in the head.

So, I’ll hit the hamster wheel once again, sometime this morning, because in a little more than two months, it’s going to be spring again and I will be ready to enjoy riding the roads with my friends once again.  Doing what I love requires that I am fit, and I won’t miss a beat.

To do that, I’m willing to put up with a little pain and boredom on the trainer because I know one important truth:

The only thing more painful than exercise and exertion is sitting it out.

One final note:  Yesterday was Fit Recovery’s fifth anniversary.  Pretty cool methinks.

The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: Understanding Road Bike Frame Styles and What will Work Best for You

I have tried to make it a point to understand everything I can about road bikes, yet next to someone who works in the field, I know just enough to be dangerous.  That’s usually a bad thing.

That said, there are several simple things that a noob should know when considering the purchase of a road bike.  Let’s face it, they’re anything but cheap.  In this post I’ll try to cover what is important, without getting too deep into the intricacies.  My goal is simply to help one make an informed decision rather than try to cram a 5-year apprenticeship in frame geometry into one post.

Giant came out with the sloped top tube compact frame TCR about two decades ago and it revolutionized bicycle frame building.  With the standard (horizontal) frameset, sizing a person to a bike was a very intricate process requiring precise sizing.  For instance, on my iconic Trek 5200 (1999), I must have a 58-60 cm bike at 6’0″ tall.  The bike relies on stretch to get into an aerodynamic position:

With the advent of the compact frame, the geometry was vastly simpler to fit a cyclist to a bicycle while negating the need for so many frame sizes.  My Specialized Venge is of the compact variety:

My Compact Frame Venge is a 56 cm frame and I’m told I could have been fitted to a 54.  I picked the 56 for a specific reason though.  I purchased the bike when I was 43 years old.  I knew the 56 would give me a more aggressive posture on the bike when viewed against my 5200 but wouldn’t be so aggressive that I wouldn’t be able to ride it 20 years down the road at a crisp 63.  The 54 would have meant a much greater drop to the handlebar and either more spacers under the stem or an egregiously sloped stem.

My 58 cm Traditional Frame Trek 5200 is about as small as I’d want to go, though with some tinkering and special parts I could have probably gone with a 56, but a 54 was absolutely out of the question.  How do I know this?  I’m glad you asked.  I bought 54 cm Cannondale SR-400 on Craigslist (scroll down to the last bike).  It was advertised as a 56 cm frame but once tape measure was put to frame we came to find out it was indeed a 54. I’ve ridden the bike for fun, on our annual night ride, but trying to fit my big butt on that little bike isn’t all that much fun.  You should have seen how the owner of our local bike shop reacted when I wheeled that Cannondale in.  It was priceless.  He knew it was too small without me ever throwing a leg over the top tube.

In any event, having put more than 10,000 miles on each of the Venge and Trek, I can say unequivocally, the Compact Venge simply fits better.  It feels better, rides better and is vastly more comfortable and more stable – and this is with the same wheels on either bike (I regularly ride the Trek with my good wheels on it, it only takes a swap out of the cassette).

I am not an authority on frame style though.  There are plenty of people out there who still swear by the old standard frame.  Choosing a bike and frame style is a highly personal thing so investigate prior to purchase.  Just know, going in, if you pick a bike with the standard frame, you must get the proper size.  With a compact frame you’ve got a little more room to play around.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to which style one prefers, there is only “like”.  I like my compact Venge because the geometry feels vastly more comfortable to me.  This doesn’t mean I don’t like my 5200, I just prefer the compact geometry over standard.  I truly believe the compact suits my riding style a little better.

Now, what I won’t do is feed into conspiracy theories about the industry forcing everyone into compact framesets because it’s cheaper for manufacturers to make the frames (they don’t need to make as many sizes, it is cheaper).  As I’ve been told about both, the advent of the compact frame, and its acceptance as pure awesome, it was a cycling team (Oncè) who pleaded the case for them to not be banned by the UCI, then rode the frames to glorious victory.

The nature of the conspiracy is that it’s industry driven, the move to the compact frame, because the manufacturers save money by not having to produce as many frame sizes.  

Let’s say I look at a Specialized Venge, the 2017 version of my bike.  49, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 61….  The same frame sizes one would expect in a standard frame.  However, let’s look at this differently, rather from a defensive posture; My undersized (by one size) Venge is vastly more comfortable (vastly) than my perfectly sized 5200 – and I am talking about the position of my body, not the way the different frames react to the road.  I can ride more aerodynamically (lower), yet more comfortably, on the compact frame that the standard.

In other words, the compact frame benefits me, the cyclist, just as much (if not more) than it might the manufacturers (if they bothered to make fewer sizes I’m the first place).  So forgive me if I roll my eyes when people complain that the industry is skewed.  The way I see it, they’re skewed in my favor, and that’s a good thing.

What’s important

What is important here, beyond the hoopla, is what is best for the cycling noob, who understands the words I wrote but not exactly what they mean.  

I didn’t understand “sizing” five years ago, and that ignorance led to a poor choice and a waste of money.  When dealing with a standard frame, size is incredibly important.  If you don’t know what size bike you need, there are online calculators.  Work strictly within the sizes recommended, the geometry matters.

When looking at a compact frame with a sloping top tube, if you want a smaller frame so you can ride lower, this is possible, though it’ll likely cost you money in replacement parts if you’re not ordering a new bike (a new, longer stem, and new crankset with longer crank arms for example).

In both cases, don’t buy a bike larger than your recommended size.  I’ve never seen a credible reason to do that.

The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: Road Bike Setup, the Intersection of Comfort and Cool – and More Important, How to Have Both

When it came to my road bikes, one of the hardest things I had to learn to accept was that I wasn’t flexible enough to have my bike set up like a pro cyclist.  I’m close, but I’m not quite there.  I’ve tried everything short of yoga but I’m as low as I can comfortably go on my Venge.  I’ve got one 5 mm spacer left, but I tried to drop the stem that little bit and absolutely couldn’t get comfortable.  It’s amazing what 5 mm will do, too.  I’m comfortable for as long as I want to go with my setup right now, lower the bar 5 mm and I might last 20 miles.

Now, this gets interesting when one starts looking at normal setups where the saddle is only a few centimeters higher than the handlebar:

Trek 1.5

Comfort is King.

On one hand, I am not comfortable riding a bike that sets me too upright but this is counter current industry thinking.  Many who fit people onto bikes tend to default to the “upright is better” way of fitting because the common thinking is that this is most comfortable.  I didn’t accept that.  The owner of our local shop told me to tinker with my bikes, that I couldn’t break them bad enough he couldn’t fix them, so I did. I started lowering my stem within a week of getting my bike home.  Over time I trained my body to ride low, originally so I could be “cool” and more aerodynamic (why ride a road bike if it’s set up like a flat-bar hybrid?!).  Today, riding with the setup on that Trek would be just as uncomfortable as trying to ride lower than my current setup.

The idea is to take what the shop gives you and then lower the handlebar from there, one 5 or 10 mm spacer at a time, getting used to the lower position on a trainer through the winter or through the spring base miles.  Eventually, like I did, you’ll simply get to a point where you can’t drop the stem any more and hope to get used to the position.

Interestingly, I only know two guys out of 25-30 currently riding with our advanced group who can ride with a true “pro” setup.  One guy is 67 years-old, but he’s nationally renowned in sprint triathlons.  The other works at the local shop.  This is his bike next to mine:

Understanding the definition of “cool” when it comes to cycling

I won’t bother going to the dictionary for this one, we all know what “cool” means…  Or do we?  Often, when it comes to cycling, noobs (myself included at one time) misunderstand, thinking that “cool” has a lot to do with the type of bike one rides, or the clothing one wears on said bike, or even what the setup looks like on the bike.

The biggest key is missing though: How one rides the bike they’ve got.  Look, I don’t know of one cyclist who harbors ill will of anyone who can’t afford a super-bike or a $3,300 Enve wheelset.  What really matters, what really defines “cool” is how a person rides what they’ve got.  If you’re sitting too far upright or too low, you’re going to have problems with how you ride and this is where comfort enters into the mix.

I can have a $15,000 super-steed but if I’m a lousy cyclist, there’s no chance of being “cool”.  I’ll just have a cool bike that I ride crappy.  On that same note, four years ago all I could afford was a beat up, 14 year-old Trek 5200 shown above (I had it painted last winter so it’s not beat up anymore) that I bought used from the bike shop because the owner took pity on me…  It took a lot of work but I learned to ride that bike well (and fast) and was accepted into the group as one of the guys.  It wasn’t until later that I could afford the Venge – but I know for a fact, the bike didn’t have anything to do with my being accepted.

All too often, as noobs, we can be drawn into “The Rules”.  The Rules absolutely have their place – when followed, you do look like the real deal – this truth is inarguable.  However, before worrying the rules, worry about what’s really important:  The Ride.

Of course, if one actually reads The Rules, one would already know that’s what it’s all about anyway.

Getting the most out of your bicycle; Some finer points on enjoyment over exercise, and riding with others.

It had been 30 years since I pedaled a bicycle with any purpose in mind when I purchased a beat up Huffy mountain bike at a garage sale for $20 so I could ride it in a triathlon.

To say I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground when it came to cycling back then would be an understatement.

After my very first ride to our running club,  just 10-1/2 miles from my house, one of the guys who did know a lot about mountain biking asked, “You rode that… All the way here?!”

I responded, “Yeah, I’m gonna train for a triathlon on it”.

Long conversation short, after an uncomfortable silence, he offered to sell me his backup, backup bike (that’s not a type-o).  He said it would fit me a lot better.  I didn’t know that bikes were supposed to “fit” the rider.

He was right.  It did and my life changed immediately, I hope, forever.

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Six years later, I still have that bike.  It’s my backup, backup, backup bike.  The one I set up for my daughter’s friends if they want to ride or the one I choose if the back roads are too muddy for my good mountain bike.  It rides and operates better than the day I bought it from my friend. Within days of first riding that Trek mountain bike, my friend’s backup to his backup bike, I went from riding for fitness to performing a physical activity for fun.

Everything I’ve done to get faster, everything I’ve done to get leaner, everything I’ve done to get stronger, every bike I’ve bought (including those for my wife and kids), every cycling trip I’ve gone on, has been to further the enjoyment of cycling – and it worked.

Cycling, on whatever fitness level it’s embraced, be it anything from Sunday morning coffee trips to race training, is one of the more social fitness activities.  Friends riding together is safer (at least as far as traffic interaction goes), and vastly more enjoyable if one can find a good group to fit into.  This is the key, though it isn’t as daunting a task as many might assume.


My first two years, give or take a few months, were ridden almost entirely solo.  The owner of our local shop invited me to ride with the Tuesday night group, comprised of a fair mix of categorized racers and advanced joy riders.  It took almost a full year of Tuesday nights before I began catching invites to weekend rides and special road trips.

I enjoyed every one of those first year rides but my enjoyment level (and my mileage) went through the roof once I started riding regularly with the people who are now among my very best of friends.


The trick is the “how” of finding the best group for you.  A few things to keep in mind:

  • Know your average speed/pace, and don’t over exaggerate…  If you can ride 25 miles in an hour and fifteen minutes, that’s 20 mph.  You’ll have to ride between 22&25 mph to get that.  Go with the average.
  • Use a cycling computer.  Any cheap cycling computer will do as long as it gives an accurate current speed.  This will help you maintain the correct pace when you’re at the front.
  • Stow your ego and knowledge of how awesome you are as well as your expert knowledge of bicycles.  You can be an absolute horse, but if you’re no fun to ride with….
  • Show some give-a-$#!+ for the others in the group.  If I’m feeling like I want to be the center of attention, this is my cue to shut up and pedal harder.  It works wonders, closing the mouth unless I’m laughing at someone else’s joke.
  • Leave the whining at home.
  • Learn to ride well first!  Learning to ride in a group is hard enough when one can ride in a straight line.

With those out of the way, it’s time to find a group.  The first place to start is Google.  Search for local bike clubs and contact one or two.  The second place, if that’s fruitless, is the local bike shops.  The people who work there will be dialed into the club scene.  Armed with the information above, the folks at the shop can match you with a group that’ll be a good match for your level of fitness.

Once you’ve got your group, all that’s left is to show up and be friendly.

Imagine your current way of trying to stay fit… say it’s going to the gym, but that’s getting old, kind of like that old Dunkin Donuts “time to make the donuts” commercial.  If that’s how you look at fitness and exercise, imagine waking up on a Sunday morning, excited that you’ll be hanging out with ten other people who are just as excited to be out riding, just to feel the wind in your face as you rocket down the road to wherever lunch is going to be so you can all sit around a table and talk about how much fun you just had (and plan the next ride).  This is cycling, and it’s why those of us who love it so much, do.

Oh yeah, and spending money on a cool ride is freaking at least half the fun!


And you’ll have a solid excuse to spend that money too:  Riding a fantastic bike costs less than open heart surgery, by about 20-ish times.

Getting Fit and Losing Weight will Never be as Easy as it will Today….

This is a twist on something a friend told me years ago as my father was dwindling before our eyes as a result of dementia…  Taking him out was starting to become troublesome.

Now, this was a person I met through our mutual blogging who cared enough about how I was getting along to give me her cell number in case I needed to talk with a person who could relate to exactly what I was going through.  I used that number a couple of times (with my wife’s blessing).  The best advice she gave me was to remember that my dad would never be as good as he is today.  Meaning  it was all downhill at that point, he would never get better.

That simple concept helped me to maintain a positive outlook when taking my dad out to lunch or dinner when things took a turn for the worse.

We’ve all run into someone who wants to lose weight or get fit but they’re either hauling a truckload of excuses behind them or they simply struggle with “want to”.  Rather than get into a long discussion on “Just doing it”, excuses, or a lack of willpower (losing discussions, one and all), I choose to plant a seed in the person’s mind instead:

Getting fit or losing weight will never be as easy as it will today“.

It’s simple and if it takes, it’s near impossible to shake, it’s always there when the excuses come out.  There once was a time when I’d get drawn into losing discussions but I can only hear so many excuses before I lose patience and shut the conversation down with something blunt, true, and brutally honest.  In that case, we both lose.  I become a jerk to that person, forever more.  That person discredits or discards any good I was able to do during the conversation, and I go on wishing I’d have handled the conversation differently.

Helping someone get into fitness is done with attraction, not promotion.  This phrase, changed to suit the situation, is common in recovery circles.  I can tell someone they’re a drunken loser till I’m blue in the face and it won’t do any good.  Hell, I was told I was going to die and I didn’t listen.  On the other hand, if I present an attractive alternative to the misery that is alcoholism with those I meet, my example will always be at the back of that person’s mind every time things turn to crap.  They’ll be thinking, “It doesn’t have to be like this.  That guy I met at that stupid meeting was so happy…  I could have that too”. 

The path to fitness is no different.  If I present those in need with an attractive alternative to the misery and can plant a positive seed in their mind, all I have to do is get out of the way and watch it grow.

Just a thought on this wonderful, snowy Monday.

 

Know Thine Enemy…

Alcohol isn’t my enemy. Drugs aren’t my enemy.  Food isn’t my enemy.  Soda pop isn’t my enemy, nor is candy, sweets, cookies, cake, burgers, pizza, gluten, plant-based diets…

My enemy isn’t even that baby chainring on my Venge.

Pride. Envy. Wrath, Gluttony and Lust. Sloth and Greed.  Contempt prior to investigation. Ignorance. Anger and Arrogance… Now we’re getting somewhere.

My enemy is me, and as long as I remember that, I have a chance at being happy.

Winter Maintenance on the Summer Bicycle:  What to Do if You’re Fortunate Enough to have a Winter Bike

I was missing my Venge the other day.  This happens throughout the winter while I’m stuck on the mountain bike, rain bike or worse, the rain bike on the trainer.

My mind drifts back to better, warmer days spent on the Venge.

There’s one thing I can do before weather good enough for the Venge returns (and I’ll do the same for my my wife’s good bike next, I got her trainer bike set up yesterday):  Get my bike ready for those better days.

Now, because my good bike never sees rain and I have internal cable routing, I only have to worry about shifter and brake cables every other year.  I had them done last year, so I’ll skip it this year (though I obviously visually inspect the gears).  

Next up is the chain.  Most people get between 1,000 and 2,000 miles on a chain.  I get a full season out of a $28 SRAM 10 sp chain, or between 4,000 and 5,000 miles because I take such good care of it (the Trek’s chain is a different story because I’ll ride that bike in crappy weather).  I size and install my own chains to save ten bucks.  Simply clean the old one and lay out a half-dozen paper towels.  Lay the new chain down next to the old and choose about a half link shorter (to account for the stretch on the old chain).  Take a chain breaker and break the chain.  Install the new chain with a MissingLink or the replaceable link that comes with your new chain…. Just make sure to clean the drivetrain before installing the new chain.  Keep it clean, baby.  As a side note, the cassette should be changed every other chain, or maybe every third chain if yours doesn’t show much wear after two.  Mine didn’t need changing so I skipped it, but as long as you have the proper nut and a chain whip, installing a new cassette is easy.  If, however, I were to find my gears to be skipping after installing the chain, I’d obviously, immediately, change the cassette.

Next, I take apart and completely clean and lube the steering assembly and bearings.   Now, my Venge is a 2013 so it’s got the newer threadless stem/headset system with press-fit bearings.  This video will show you how to go about that:


Next up is servicing the bottom bracket.  If you thought your headset was dirty, your bottom bracket will likely be downright gnarly.  Fortunately, because Specialized is awesome, my Venge has a BB30 bottom bracket.  And because I’m awesome, I have the S-Works Crank on it, so servicing the bearings is quite simple.  Most won’t be so lucky so you may need a bottom bracket puller or you’ll have to take the bike to the shop to have it done.  This is a good video for a crank with press-fit bearings, like mine:


Once all of that’s done, check your wheels to make sure they don’t have any wobbles.  If mine do, I take them to the shop to be trued.  The local shop charges between $10 and $30 to true a wheel, depending on how bad they are and I suck at truing wheels, so it’s well worth the money to have it done right.  It’s not just about getting the wobbles out, it’s also getting the dish right on the rear wheel and keeping the front square, and then keeping the whole mess round.  If you don’t know what any of that means, take your wheels into the shop and save the headache.

My wheels were perfect so it was onto rotating the tires.  The rear tire will wear faster that the front so I rotate them to get the greatest life out of the tires.   If I change them soon enough, the flat spot on the rear tire will round out a bit when installed on the front because of the physics of bike riding and turning the bike (the rear wheel spends more time upright that the front).

Then the final step….

A simple wipe down and the bike’s ready for storage.

Till Spring, baby.

My Semi-retirement may have been Short, but it was Far too Long.  I’m Coming Back, or Alternately, I can’t Stay Away.?

Being an addict has its pluses and minuses.  It’s easiest to simply chalk this reality up to “the nature of the beast”.  Understanding these pluses and minuses, in real time so they can be dealt with immediately, is the goal of every recovering addict.

If something feels good to me, I tend to overdo it, though this isn’t all bad and it isn’t a foregone conclusion.  With cycling, I managed a balance.  I ride a lot but I do keep it reasonable, fair to my family, my work, and I’ve always done my best to make cycling an enjoyment rather than let it get so big it has adverse impacts on my life and those in it.

On one hand, writing has been much the same, though I put fewer minutes into it.  Many were under the mistaken impression that, even though I’ve popped out one post a day (on average), that I put a lot of time into writing.  I really don’t – or maybe it’d be closer to the truth to say I tend to multi-task and I write fast (I can put out a great 1,000 word post in an hour, though sometimes my proofreading sucks and I tend to struggle with finishing thoughts when I’m busy).  On the other hand, what does take a lot of time is reading other’s posts.  I believe in reciprocity though, so I dealt with it.

The two activities together, writing and reading those who frequent my blog, took its toll over the last year.  I still got everything done, I just had to struggle to do it.  In addition, at times my blog could become a distraction from work when I had some serious things to do and that’s ultimately why I decided to quit.

Here’s the problem:  With all of that time on my hands I fell back on politics to fill the gap with something productive rather than veg in front of the TV, as could be gathered by a few quick posts and comments I wrote whilst I was supposed to be “retired”.  That’s the real problem.  When I pay thorough attention to politics, my demeanor grows ugly and I don’t like it.

Couple that with the fact that I’ve written several decent posts in the last couple of weeks and I keep bumping into fantastic ideas…  I’m just not done yet.  Simply stated, I like who I am more when I’m writing.

With that, my inventory on my blog was pretty much wrapped up.

I spoke with my wife about it yesterday and I’m coming back.  It is what it is, I’m just not done yet.  I think for now though, other than today, I’m going to limit this to two or three posts a week.  Say, Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the cycling season and Monday and Friday in the off-season.  Something like that.  See if I can’t compromise a little bit between too much and nothing.

 

Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary:  The Definition of Cardio, and why Cycling can be considered “Cardio”… but Really isn’t.

A special thanks to Shay-lon for the inspiration for this post.

Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary defines Cardio thusly:

car·di·o

ˈkärdēō/

noun

A fitness activity that happens to be phenomenally healthy but is often understood to be soul crushingly monotonous and/or boring.

While there is no doubt cycling fits the “fitness activity” and “phenomenally healthy” part of the definition, it can hardly be called “soul crushingly monotonous and/or boring” unless one is doing it wrong.  Cycling, done correctly with a liberal amount of friends, is the very definition of fun.  

Hopefully the photos above make the sport look enjoyable but my favorite moments on a bike are rarely captured in a photograph, simply because I won’t risk wrecking those moments by reaching for my camera.  I’ve found it better to experience them fully than to interrupt them.

Therefore, cycling is Cardio.  But it isn’t at the same time.

‘Tis the Season… For Mountain Bikes! Well, for Roadies it is.

‘Tis the season for mountain biking.  Dirt roads, minimal traffic, and sadly, lots of mud…

Sadly, its lighter, faster sibling is hung up till springtime…

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I brought my 29’er to the office on Tuesday morning so I could get it cleaned up for next weekend after a particularly muddy ride on Sunday.  Just for fun I lowered the stem the rest of the way, just to give me a little more drop.  I also rotated the handlebar back just a smidge for the same reason.  ‘Tis also the season to tinker with your bicycles, because nobody ever got good at wrenching on a bike by paying someone else to do it.

As an interesting side note, that’s a Rockhopper 29’er right there.  That’s my “good weather” mountain bike.  It’s faster than my 26″ Trek 3700 on dirt roads by a little more than a mile an hour.  On the other hand, the 26″ Trek is vastly more nimble when it comes to handling and probably a little more fun to ride because of that fact.  The Rockhopper is a decent mid-range mountain bike.  While many of the components come from the entry-level Rockhopper, there are upgrades in the suspension fork and the brakes.  Mine has premium discs (the cheaper ones warp when they’re used till they’re hot and then get splashed with water), hydraulic brakes and a beefier fork.  The Trek, on the other hand, is entry-level for the high-end mountain bikes.  While it doesn’t have much in the way of features, it’s mechanically perfect.  Working (if cheap) wheels, brand new shifters/cables/brake levers, a new bottom bracket….

[Fast forward to Wednesday morning]

Speaking of the 3700, I decided to bring that one in the next day to get it cleaned up for the winter trashing as well, and to remove some useless extra weight (chuckle).  Take a look at this photo and tell me what’s wrong (other than the dirt):

The correct answer is:  “That bike has reflectors on it and the noob detection device hasn’t been removed from behind the cassette”.

The removal of the reflectors is quite simple:

The Noob Detection Device (NDD) is a different story.  Normally, I’d just show a couple of photos of me removing the cassette and taking that worthless piece of plastic off of my bike…  It takes about three minutes.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the right cassette nut so I had to cut the NDD off with a knife and pull it off with a pair of pliers.  It took a bit more than a few minutes.

Anyway, after that I cleaned the chain, lubed it and the derailleurs and cleaned the rest of the bike and dropped the stem one more spacer:

 Notice the noob detection device is not on the rear wheel anymore?  If you’re offended, likely because you still have yours on your bike, the spoke protector is useless (they’re there for the attorneys).  The reason they aren’t necessary is that you know how to properly adjust a rear derailleur, including the fact that once you’ve set your set screws, the likelihood they’ll need to be moved or adjusted later on down the line is nil.  If the set screws are set correctly, your chain can’t over shift into the spokes.  If your chain can’t over shift into the spokes, a guard to protect from the chain shifting into the spokes is?  Anyone?

Useless.  This is why they are noob detection devices.  Now, this isn’t to say that an overly concerned cyclist can’t leave theirs on the bike – you can.  Just know that all of the good cyclists are chuckling at you (whether out loud or in the privacy of their gray matter).  That’s okay though, better safe than sorry, I always say.  Chuckle.

Now, when it comes to the reflectors I always remove mine.  I don’t ride in the dark without a headlight, a blinkie (taillight), and a reflective jacket that lights up better than any silly bicycle reflector on the market.  In other words, my reflectors are useless…  Even if the State Bureaucracy requires they’re sold on the bike.  The Trek, my first decent bicycle, was the only bike that still had them:

However, upon further consideration, I should caution you before you remove a safety device or safety sticker from your own bike… because someone could do something stupid, get hit by a car and sue me because they read this post.  So definitely don’t remove any of that bullshit if you’re stupid enough to need it.  By stupid I mean:

  • Not attentive to your bicycle’s maintenance
  • You don’t think it’s necessary to wear reflective clothing at night
  • You don’t think it’s necessary to have a headlight as bright as a star when riding at night
  • Not intelligent enough to ride with a blinkie
  • You actually have read all or part of one of those safety stickers they apply to the fork or chain stays and wheels (!) of a new bicycle before ripping it/them off and throwing it/them in the garbage – and you actually learned something you didn’t know.

Look, please allow me to apologize if you took offense at some of the sarcasm in this post.  I was simply being funny by poking fun at the absurdity of a few things that I find silly – especially when it comes to those stupid yellow safety warning stickers!