Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Deuter Race X Air I Review

About 7 months ago I purchased a Deuter Race X Air I hydration pack. The German company had always been of interest to me but I had never experienced their products firsthand. I selected the Race X Air I mainly because it has a unique mesh back. This is referred to as the “Advanced Aircomfort” system which allows near uninterrupted air flow. Poor airflow had been my primary complaint with other packs. It should also be noted that this model was awarded Mountain Biking Magazine’s Editor’s Choice award. The pack holds a 3 liter reservoir and has 850 cubic inches of storage. The empty pack and reservoir tipped our scale at 2.24lbs.

My first impression of the pack was quite positive. I immediately noticed the additional air flow across my back which was a very welcome improvement. I found the amount of storage space in the pack to be ample enough for all my gear, a thin jacket, and room to spare. The pack distributes the load comfortably even on long rides. This is helpful because the overall weight of the pack is a bit heavier than one of their non “Advanced Aircomfort” systems. The reservoir is great. It has a very smooth texture which is supposedly so bacteria can not cling to the bladder. This seems to work effectively even through my abuse. I enjoy the fact that I can get my entire hand inside the reservoir when I want to give it a though cleaning. I tend to drink water and I can not comment on how the reservoir holds up to sports drinks. I do not typically remove the bladder to fill it but when I do it takes a bit longer to remove than I would like. My primary complaint is that the bite valve sometimes drips a little when it slides forward off the hose.

Over all I really like this hydration pack. You can tell it was designed by a backpacking company the way it fits on your body and the German engineers loaded the pack with lots of great little features

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sidi Winter Shoes

Got a set of Sidi Diablo GTX Winter Shoes for Christmas and figured I'd post up my impressions thus far.

As with most Sidi products, the shoes are very comfortable. My first ride with these shoes was a 23 miler in the mountains around Frederick and the shoes caused me no discomfort. I have noticed that the traction on rocks is lacking but this is a common characteristic for Sidi mountain shoes since the tread compund is made hard for added durability. The top of the shoe, around the ankle is very comfortable but I've found that no matter how tight I make the ankle strap, there is still a gap between the back of my ankle and the shoe while riding. This gap, acts as a catch-all for the little bits my rear tire throws up while riding. On most days I find myself either stopping to dig a rock out of one of my shoes or emptying out bits of leaves and dirt at the end of the day.

The shoes are 100% waterproof as you would expect with any Gore-Tex product. I've forded several streams and not a drop of water enters the shoes. There is however a limit to the protection and it's not when water crests the top of the shoe. The upper most, ankle area of the shoe is not protected by Gore-Tex, it's made of a neoprene like material. If you step in water, up to the top of the ankle, you have about 5 seconds before water starts finding it's way into the shoe through the neoprene like material.

Today, was the first day I was able to spend any prolonged time in the cold wearing these shoes. Temps were hovering around freezing for most of the day and about an hour into the ride, my toes started to go numb. I hoped this wouldn't happen but I sort of expected it since my initial impression upon opening the box and inspecting the shoes was that they were lacking any real insulation.. That being said, the winter shoes seem to be cut a little big in order to allow for thicker socks. The socks I had on were Wool, and were winter socks but I still had plenty of wiggle room inside the shoes. Next time out I am going to wear much thicker socks and see how things go. 2 1/2 hours into the ride we reached the car. Peeling the ice covered shoes from my feet was a painful process. Tomorrow, I'll be shopping for warmer socks and seeing how winter seems to have finally arrived, I'll post a cold weather update soon. Below are links to the shoes and socks I was wearing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Winter finally came to Frederick. With a nip in the air and a dusting of snow on the ground I made the decision to ride indoors this weekend. For me this is a tough pill to swallow. With all the great roads and mountain bike trails surround Frederick I always feel that I am doing myself a disservice to spinning indoors like a hamster on a wheel. But this was my fate this weekend. As boring as it is I still felt better after moving my legs a little. Still… my next ride will be outside no matter what Mother Nature has is store.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Bicycle Escape Gambrill Night Ride Jan. 18th

The latest edition of the Gambrill Graveyard Shift (Gambrill State Park night mountain bike ride) took place last night. The temperatures were low but attendance was high (23 at ride start). A few participants backed out not long into the ride leaving us 20 riders strong. In spite of the cold temps I think most of us were comfortable after a few minutes of pedaling. The major technical issue of the ride was a ripped off derailleur. Since Sir-Pack-A-Lot did not have the appropriate derailleur hanger (he did however have about 5 hangers from various manufactures) I converted the bike into a makeshift single speed. Like a trooper the newly converted single speed outlaw completed the ride shift-free. It was an enjoyable night and many thanks to all who attended. Sorry for the lack of a picture documenting the ride, I forgot my camera. I will try to bring it next time and shoot a picture of the shimmering lights of Frederick from the overlook- it is a beautiful sight.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bike Commuting and Grumpiness

This Sunday while trying to relax and enjoy a rainy day watching movies, Danielle called my name from the basement. Her bellow was in an all too familiar ominous tone. The kind of tone that can only mean there is trouble. I prepared myself as I made my way down the stairs. Was it a spider, a leaky pipe, the air conditioner…? What I found when I reached my decline to the basement was water leaking from the ceiling tiles. After some investigation we determined that the previous homeowner sliced the flexible conduit that directs our drier exhaust outside. This was creating tropical conditions above our drop ceiling which was causing our pipes to sweat like a can of ice cold Coke sitting in the sun. After cursing the previous home-owner who apparently did all of his home “repairs” drunk and blindfolded I made my way to the hardware store to get the necessary supplies to correct the problem. I briefly considered grabbing my fixed gear and messenger bag and riding to the store but I was far too grumpy to do anything fun like ride a bike (Danielle will attest to this last point I’m sure). When I got to the hardware store I noticed a regular guy on a very ordinary bike. He was doing what I should have done- bicycle commuting! This sight brought a smile to my face and I made a personal vale to ride my bike next time I am in this circumstance- in spite of grumpiness.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Equal Opportunity Slander

The other day a fellow cyclist commented on a bad experience she had with a motorist. While any road cyclist can recount a similar experience, I find that this is the exception rather than the rule. I have been riding the roads in the Frederick area for over 14 years and have only experienced a few truly rude drivers. One such incident is simply unforgettable. While on a ride my father and I waited at a stoplight in rural Carroll County. A pickup truck full of teenagers pealed out and screamed the N-word at my father and me. We found this comment both confusing and offensive. You see I am a lily white boy from Mount Airy (just note the zip-up sweater) and my father is arguably lilyer and whiter than me. Unsure of just how offended a white person should be in this situation we simply pedaled on. Well, there you have it folks. That is my most bizarre encounter with a motorist and I assure you it is true.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Bike Site

Some of you may have noticed the link on the left hand side of this blog directing you to The Bike Site. If not I would encourage all of you to check it out. The site was developed by some local riders to unite like minded cyclists. Much of the rides organized on this site take place in the Frederick area. The goal is to have a simple and fun atmosphere for cyclists to organize rides and socialize. I have met several people and enjoyed lots of rides with other’s active on the site. I am not a computer friendly kind of guy so when I was first introduced to the site I was unsure if it would be something that I would enjoy. However, I quickly came around and now look forward to chatting with other riders on the site. Since I like to share things that I enjoy with others I am sharing this you right now… so come on sign up. It’s fun and free.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Gambrill Graveyard Shift Jan. 3, 2007

Another great night ride was enjoyed at the Graveyard Shift! We were 17 strong at the ride start but due to a mechanical and one hard dose of lactic acid the group was whittled down to 15 within the first 10 minutes. The pace was a little slower last night. This was in part due to two flat tires and a few other mechanical/light issues. I was happy to ride slower because I was navigating like a drunken chicken, a technique I display frequently when my lungs are on fire. The weather was great and the moon was burning bright which add to the already beautiful atmosphere of Gambrill after dark. After the ride we ended up at Brewers Ally and enjoyed a little conversation before calling it a night.

For anyone interested hooded sweatshirts will be available with the Gambrill Graveyard Shift logo. Email to reserve one.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

R&R In 2007

I hope you all had a safe and pleasant New Year. Danielle and I enjoyed some time with some good friends and some much needed R&R. When we are not riding on our time off it is a safe bet that we are enjoying movies. We recently signed up for a service called DVD Avenue, a Maryland based online DVD rental company. This is a service that Danielle and I love. So on our days off this holiday we vegged and watched episodes of Sopranos, The Office (BBC Version) etc. It was a relaxing way to spend our time but my lazy rear-end will certainly suffer on the Wednesday night Ride!