Portland Design Works has upped their lighting ante with the Lars Rover this year. We caught a glimpse at them at Interbike, featuring an aluminum body and two models of 650 or 450 Lumens. The Lars Rover 650 runs for a full two hours on high mode, with a 15 minute bail-out mode when the battery reaches the end of the charge. Turn it down the the 175 lumen low power mode and get over 7 hours of commuting, with a five hour charge time via a USB port. It has a smart switch, a low batter gauge and a competitive price at $110 for the Lars Rover 650 model and $85 for the Lars Rover 450. For a limited time the 650 models come with an overly nice custom can cooler with leather PDW patch that you won’t want to put down at a party.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of road racing heritage knows of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and the epic Belgian farm roads and cobbles that make up the route. A couple of years back I had the unforgettable opportunity to ride throughout FLanders and on parts of the course — this video by Joe Baur helps bring it back.
245 kilometers? Cobbled climbs? No problem!
For reasons beyond my comprehension, BMC Switzerland graciously selected me to join five other cyclists from across the globe to join their granfondo experience, more tortuously known as the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Here I document my experience with a bit of Ronde history mixed in for flavor.
Indeed, cycling here does not suck. And someday, I hope to be back on the cobbles of Flanders.
From the genius of Clint Culpepper and Will Laubernds comes the PDX Trophy Cup, a weekly cyclocross race series that takes place at the world famous Portland International Raceway (PIR). Situated just minutes north of downtown Portland OR, PIR is an ideal venue for an early week training race and hangout.
PIR has hosted many cross races before, what sets the PDX Trophy Cup apart is that it takes place during that sweet spot between summer and fall, when the weather is unpredictable and you could get a beautiful sunset as the backdrop to your race or a torrential down pour and muddy, sloppy conditions to add to the already challenging course. Either way you’re going to have fun. Adding to the uncertainty of the weather is that the races begin around dusk with racing continuing well after dark, testing not only your fitness but your sense of adventure. And the courses, these are masterfully crafted and thoughtfully put together by Clint, Will and a handful of dedicated volunteers who give up their Sunday afternoons so everything is ready for Tuesday night. Every week the courses are a little different, taking advantage of the physical features found at PIR. Off cambers are carved, tree lines are taped, barriers laid, sand hills shaped, and sometimes a bit of the adjacent motocross course is incorporated into the fun.
Besides the racing, one of the best things about this series is how people have embraced it. “It gives me something to look forward to on Tuesdays.” said one sweaty participant. The people coming out to race are some of the most enthusiastic I’ve seen and heard in a long time. Most everyone that comes out to race stays until the end of the night to watch, have a beer, and do a little heckling. Did I mention beer? Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday evening. Summer is completely gone and this six race series has come to an end for this season. But a lot of Portland is already thinking about that next Tuesday night race in late Summer 2015.
Words and images submitted by Jose Sandoval. Contact us at email@example.com to submit your image gallery or local news reports.
Test riding The Comedown figure-eight track in Glasgow. Read more about the construction and inspiration behind the track in our article from last week talking with artist and sculptor Steven Murray.
Top-mount thumbshifters are a classic design that the big players have left behind in the race to make a “better” shifter. Other designs are undeniably more ergonomic and capable of faster shifts, all without changing your grip on the bars. But some of us are hooked on thumbshifters, if for nothing else than their proven durability through simplicity. No matter the conditions, no matter the muck and cold, thick gloves and rust, thumbshifters continue to shift. In fact, I still have two pairs of 20+ year old Suntour thumbshifters in service on bikes, along with this set of Paul Thumbies that I’ve been running for over 5 years.
Paul Thumbies are the answer to those of us that want indexing beyond 8-speeds or SRAM or Campagnolo compatibility but want to run top-mounts too. These mounts transform bar end and time-trial shifters into old school thumbshifters. My poison? 9-speed Shimano bar end shifters mated to Paul Thumbies, run in friction mode on my 10-speed dirt road touring rig. Adjustable front derailleur trim and you can shift the entire cassette in one movement with the right touch. I’d go so far as to say, “It works every time!” but I’m to understand the phrase has already been taken. This is a shifter for the tinkerers and the explorers, best suited to people with a secret stash of parts and more ideas about bike setup than available rides to test it.
Paul Thumbies are available for $74 per pair in either silver or black, in either 22.2, 26.0 or 31.8 clamp sizes (mountain bars and road stem clamp sizes) and with Shimano, SRAM, Microshift or Campagnolo mounts. Current Thumbies have hinged clamps for easier installation and removal.
Compact hand pumps are a must-have item on the road; ride more than a few miles from home and you’re bound to get a flat. The $50 Lezyne Gauge Drive HP is an aluminum bodied pump meant for high pressure, low volume tires and equipped with an in-line pressure gauge meant as a step up from cheap feeling plastic bodied mini pumps. If nothing else the shiny aluminum feels good in your hand, even if I’ve never been one to tear through plastic pumps. At 230 mm long the Gauge Drive HP fits in a jersey pocket and larger seatbags, or use the provided bottle cage mount. The handle side hides a the hose and in-line gauge inflator which has a reversible Presta or Schrader chuck with a bleed valve. Screw the hose into the end of the pump body, careful to not cross-thread the plastic fitting, and go. Over the past season the Lezyne Gauge Drive HP has bailed out a few flat tires and aired up the travel bike outside the airport. The ABS Pen Gauge gives a reasonable ballpark pressure reading on the side of the road, but you’ll be hard pressed to tell a 10 psi difference with it. Be mindful of not unscrewing the gauge itself as I once did and avoid a momentary heartrate spike (I was able to put the gauge back together on the spot). The screw-on Presta chuck and small section of hose go a long way to help prevent broken valve stems out on the road, which happens to be the most common and least convenient place to break them. Like any small pump it’s going to take some effort to get to riding pressure with a road tire, but it will keep you rolling and is able to get to 100+ psi without spending all day.
Contributor Joe Baur documented a three day ride through his ancestral home in Switzerland, a great look at somewhere many of us haven’t had the chance to ride.
There is simply no better way to explore a new country than by bike, especially when that country is Switzerland. Luckily with some help from MySwitzerland and SwissTrails, we were able to spend three-days cycling along the Lakes Route that stretches from French Montreux on Lake Geneva to Bad Horn in the northeastern border of the country.
The alpine nation has always held a special place in my heart. It’s where the Baur family name comes from, so you all have Switzerland to thank for my existence. Please, hold your admiration until the end, folks.
In reality I’m mostly an ancestral mutt at this point, but I’ve always most identified with my Swiss roots. After cycling the country, I can see why. The smooth countryside roads, the historic and walkable cities, the trains, the mountainous outdoors — this feels like home. The Swiss live the way I try to live in the States.
“Scary the first time,” reports builder Stephen Murray. The artist, sculptor and cyclist behind The Comedown figure-eight track in Glasgow, Scotland just took the first ride on the track this morning after months of planning, design and fabrication work.
The Comedown is reminiscent of the late ’90s Human Powered Rollercoaster that made an appearance at the 1995 Toronto Cycle Messenger World Championships (edited, org text had wrong date), though at a smaller scale. Where the earlier HPR was large enough for two-up racing (video, images) The Comedown is single-file affair.
The idea for The Comedown came from the building of the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome for the recent Commonwealth Games. “We started riding on the velodrome once it was built and chatting about how it was made etc. Then the Red Bull Mini Velodrome, came to Glasgow and my mate John Silvera who is a joiner and cyclist and all round good man raced on it (and folded his wheel and went flying off the side).” Murray said. It wouldn’t be available to the public for the length of the games, and funding was announced from Creative Scotland to fund 20, £14,000 commissions for art projects related to the Games, leading to a quick proposal to make a minidrome for the public during the games. Murray continued, “A week later I was in the pub with John and Brian from Rig Bike Shop which is where all the couriers work from in Glasgow. Anyway Brian told me it was a shit idea to build a minidrome as the Red Bull one already exists etc. But he had ridden the Dunhill one in Canada back in the day and what I should do is make an eight. Which I had never heard of.”
“We were all pretty pissed but I totally latched on to it.”
The funding ended up being approved, and the project kept under the radar until a suitable venue was found. It was originally slated for a warehouse during the Games in June but it fell through last minute, and then the current The Briggait / Wasps location was secured for a narrow window in October. It was scaled to fit the space and budget, and production began. “In my workshop I manufactured all the structural elements as a giant kit, then me and four good mates, John, Rob, Jason and Dom moved it all onsite last Monday. Tuesday we got a 165 sheets of plywood delivered. Since then we’ve assembled the frames and been bespoke fitting every sheet and building laminations up to take the curves,” Murray continued.
“Basically we’re at a point now if someone wanted to step in and back us financily we could go rework the design and build a demountable, raceble, transportable, figure-eight velodrome. We’ve got the whole thing down. We would adjust a lot of things as this has been a massive learning curve and the difference between working in CAD and physically having the opportunity make a 30 m x 12 m x 3.6 m sculptural velodrome is massive. But we’ve fucking done it.”
“Materials is coming in at about £6-7000, rest of budget has gone on paying the right people at the right time to design and to do skilled onsite assembly and bespoking.”
The pictures and Facebook video have left me stunned. It’s a dream I’ve heard many bring up over the years, of seeing the HPR in service again. For a short period in Glasgow at least, The Comedown exists. There is an opening party on October 18th, with the installation in place through November 1st.
Just about everyone has ripped down a parking garage at some point or another on their bike and thought, “This would be rad to race.” Parkour Ride takes parking garage alleycats and late night shred sessions to the next level, pitting road, track, BMX and mountain bikes against one another on a course going throughout a garage. The first event kicked off in London on October 4th, with The Guardian posting a gallery of images. Awesome looking event, wish I could have been there. Liam Phillips, World BMX Champion, took home the title at Venue 1 after a series of head to head races. Look out for more info on Venue 2 soon at www.parkourride.com
The Chrome Victor Urban Utility Belt is a beyond miniature messenger bag, meant to hold the bare essentials when you don’t need a full backpack or want to deal with on-bike bags. Over the shoulder or fanny pack style, the $85 Victor is essentially a set of secure jersey pockets when you’re wearing more casual clothes that may not have pockets at all. It is just large enough to carry a phone, basic tool kit and small camera or wallet, maybe even a very compact windshell, but not much more. The small size is what keeps it useful, preventing one from stuffing it full of the clutter that collects in a larger bag, but an accordion bottom in the main pocket would hold more without making the bag much larger. As it stands, a couple of tubes, a multitool and a wallet can quickly max it out. The buckle closure on the phone pocket is great, but more overlap on the flap for protection in steady rain would be good for peace of mind. Get creative with the reflective daisy-chain mounting loopsstrap a pump to the outside, run a mini u-lock through them as a holster, attach a blinkie for night safety. The Chrome seatbelt strap is useful and secure, and heavy and made of metal, and contributes to a total bag weight of 520 g (the buckle alone is approximately 200 g). It’s a useful bag, great for short in-town trips where a full-sized bag is just excessive. For more capacity in a similar form factor check out the Chekhov Rolltop Utility Belt.