March 2016

7 Rad Rides Inspired by Spring Classics that You Can Do


The Castell Grind; Castell, TX
The slogan for this 50-, 72-, or 100K gravel grinder should be “choose wisely”—it’s unsupported, unmarked, and traverses largely uninhabited country roads in the middle-of-nowheresville Texas Hill Country. Bring a GPS, brush up on your map-reading skills and get ready to buck cattle guards: This one is the real Wild West.

Vermont Overland Maple Adventure Ride; Reading, VT
Most races save the prizes for the end; VOMAR distributes them liberally throughout. Timed to coincide with maple-sugaring season in Vermont, this 27-mile gravel ride features a stop at Newhall Farm, where riders can get in on the “maple water” trend — also known as partially boiled sap dipped straight from a sugar house at full boil. Since sugaring season also means mud season, come prepared to battle the frost heaves and icy patches, which may be partially obscured by wheel-sucking mud — if you’re lucky.

Rasputitsa Gravel Road Race; East Burke, VT
Rasputitsa is Russian for “mud season”—which gives you a pretty accurate preview of this 45-mile race for bragging rights in northern Vermont. In keeping with the Russian theme, the highlight of the course is “Cyberia,” a Class IV road that a former race participant described as “a scary backwoods where at any time a Yeti or Bengal tiger may jump out of the woods, bludgeon you with a blunt object, and either leave you for dead or drag you back into the woods for a nice little Saturday brunch.” Need more recommendations? “Total sufferfest,” pronounces Olympian Lea Davison, who pre-rode the course in February as a fundraiser for Little Bellas, the nonprofit she co-runs with her sister Sabra. Make it through the race, though, and you’ll be privy to poutine, maple-syrup shots, Vermont beers, and live music.

The HellKaat Hundie; Hudsonville, MI
The “prize” for winning this 100-mile gravel grinder is a pair of tighty-whities emblazoned with “The HellKaat Hundie” across the rear, so we think it’s safe to say that most riders are in it for the fun—and to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The same could be said for the race’s founder, Catherine Tahy, who got hooked on racing at the Barry Roubaix in 2009 and has ridden a century a month for the past 81 months (and counting). “I love getting people out and raising money for a great cause,” Tahy says. “Plus, who wouldn’t want to win the coveted ‘Hundie Undies?!’”

The Wild Horse Gran Fondo; Delle, Utah
Among the fine print for this dirt-only, 76-mile fondo across the Cedar Mountain Wilderness in western Utah is this rule: All participants are to be at least 100 feet from any wild horse, and for any group containing foals, that gap must be at least 300 feet. Wild horses, antelope, cattle, and jackrabbits are all listed as potential course hazards; ride at your own risk as you climb 5,000 feet, up over two summits, and across the Hastings Cutoff, where many pioneers in the Donner-Reed party in 1846 met their demise. Expect epic vistas, zero pavement, and yes—wild horses. Close to 600 of ’em.

Ozark Gravel Road Epic; Lake Ozark, MO
Food trucks, homemade ice cream, a bonfire, and banjo-picking, fiddle-shredding music await you if you make it to the end of the 80-mile Troll or 150-mile Ogre gravel race held in the heart of the Ozarks. The course traverses a mix of hardpack, fresh-grade, and gravel (plus a few streambeds), and you can expect mostly empty roads and plenty of switchbacks. A headlamp and taillight are required gear to get you back safely to the finish line at the Lake of the Ozarks campground—but if you get lost, just listen for the banjo music. The band starts pickin’ strings at 6 p.m.

Belgian Waffle Ride; San Marcos, CA
Race organizer Michael Marckx is Belgian, so he pays homage to his home country’s cycling legacy in the best way he knows how: with cobblestones, dirt, and lots of undulating hills. Make that lots and lots of hills—you won’t find many huge mountains on this course, but somehow the course climbs 11,000 feet of vertical over 144 miles through San Diego’s backcountry. But if Marckx stacks you up against the likes of Merckx on the course, he rewards you equally royally: There are Belgian waffles before the race, and Belgian ale at Lost Abbey Brewery after. Is it worth it? You tell us.


Sunday Funday Celebrates Operation Firefly

What: As we wrap up our biggest season of Operation Firefly to date, celebrate with a ride and picnic in Barnsdall Park in Hollywood! We want to celebrate all our Team Firefly volunteers and have our members meet the amazing team. This ride will be led by none other than our Firefly in Chief (and Education Director) Colin Bogart!

Our tour of historic street lights, that are still in use, will include several historic LA neighborhoods with rare neighborhood lights in two locations that you are unlikely to find, except on our ride. We’ll pay a visit to the Urban Light exhibit at LACMA, take a group photo, then head back to Barnsdall Park for a picnic and a celebration of Operation Firefly, our sponsors, and our Team Firefly volunteers. Bonus – the return trip includes a visit to an unofficial display of street lights assembled in an unusual location. You don’t want to miss this ride!

Special Perks:

We’ll make a stopover for our friends at Orange 20! They will offer a 15-25% discount on lights, 10% off other accessories, quick tuneups & free refreshments!

When: Sunday, April 3rd. Meet at 9:30 a.m. Roll at 10:00 a.m.

Where: Barnsdall Art Park Meet in the parking lot on Hollywood Blvd. (4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027)

How long? Roughly 17 miles, round-trip, mostly flat route with a few small hills. Take a look at the route map here

Read more here.

CalBike announces 2016 primary endorsements

The California Bicycle Coalition issued their endorsements this week in the state’s Assembly and Senate races.

The advocacy organization asked each candidate how much they support bicycling. How much do they ride? Do they support more funding for bicycle infrastructure? Do they support a “complete streets” requirement that all road maintenance take bicycle safety into account? Do they oppose using greenhouse gas funding for more roads?

Based on their answers to the survey and the results of outreach to their own members across the state, CalBike chose to endorse nine candidates:

AD 37 – Monique Limon – Trustee, Santa Barbara USD
AD 40 – Abigail Medina – Trustee, San Bernardino USD
AD 43 – Laura Friedman – Councilmember, Glendale
AD 65 – Sharon Quirk-Silva – Former Mayor of Fullerton and Assemblymember
AD 66 – Al Muratsuchi – Former Assemblymember, Torrance, CA
AD 78 – Todd Gloria – Councilmember, San Diego

SD 9 – Nancy Skinner – Former Member, State Assembly
SD 25 – Katherine Perez-Estolano – Member, High-Speed Rail Board/Businesswoman, San Gabriel Valley
SD 35 – Steven Bradford – Former Assemblymember, author of “Three Feet for Safety Act”
SD 39 – Toni Atkins – Member, State Assembly, San Diego

The 8 most dangerous Valley intersections and what LAPD is doing about them

Los Angeles police Officer George Goodyear fired up his motorcycle, flipped down his helmet visor, then gunned toward a traffic offender at Balboa Avenue and Devonshire Street.

Seconds later, Valley Traffic Division Officer Kerry Suprenant gave chase toward another law-breaking driver in one of the most dangerous intersections in the San Fernando Valley, according to police records.

Thus began Saturday the work of a police and transportation department task force that aims not only to reduce crashes in the worst eight Valley Bureau intersections and beyond but eliminate all traffic deaths across the city by 2025.

“It’s one of the top intersections in the Valley for injury accidents,” said Goodyear from atop his BMW R1200RT police motor, staring through the crush of Easter weekend cars ploughing through Granada Hills. “I’m looking for whatever I can see.”

He and dozens of traffic officers had just received a briefing on the Directed Enforcement Task Force, which set its sights on a citywide Vision Zero initiative launched last summer by Mayor Eric Garcetti to target all traffic deaths, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable: pedestrians and cyclists.

Throughout the day, the officers focused on law enforcement, education of motorists and traffic engineering in tandem with the Department of Transportation.

The weekend task force of roughly 30 officers at eight Valley intersections was made possible by an unspecified federal grant through the California Office of Traffic Safety. Once a month, a Los Angeles Police Department bureau in other parts of the city will repeat the enforcement task force at other high-risk intersections.

At noon, Lt. Dave Ferry of the Emergency Operations Division joined two traffic engineers to gaze out across tons of metal moving people across Balboa and Devonshire.

“People are getting hurt here,” said Ferry, a 26-year LAPD veteran overseeing the four officers and supervisor at each intersection. “What we want to do here today is raise awareness. We’ll stop ’em, and either cite ’em, or educate.

“My goal is not to have to bury anybody.”

He said that if you’re driving, focus on driving and traffic safety — not cellphone texting, reading, eating or anything that deflects your attention from the road. If you’re riding a bike or walking, focus on safety, he said, not your workout or heart monitor.

Each year in Los Angeles, roughly 30,000 traffic collisions occur, killing 200 residents and severely injuring nearly 1,000 more, according to an L.A. Vision Zero report. More than four in 10 injuries and deaths involve a pedestrian or bicyclist.

The Police Department didn’t have data Saturday on the number of collisions, deaths and injuries at each Valley crossing. The most dangerous Valley intersections, according to a city analysis, include:

• Balboa and Devonshire

• Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Vanowen Street

• Sherman Way and Woodman Avenue

• Devonshire Street and Reseda Boulevard

• De Soto Avenue and Nordhoff Street

• Roscoe Boulevard and Winnetka Avenue

• Reseda Boulevard and Victory Boulevard

Nat Gale and Tim Fremaux, the DOT engineers, said each intersection could be made safer by adjusting turn lane lights, tweaking pedestrian crossing signals and altering lane striping. An analysis of each crossing is in the works.

“We want to get to zero,” Fremaux said. “Zero is the right goal. It’s doable. A lot of people think Vision Zero is about zero collisions. No. We want zero deaths. It’s culture change — a shared culture of responsibility.”

As the officers pulled over and educated drivers, 72-year-old James Murphy pedaled a vintage Schwinn “Le Tour” 10-speed toward the busy intersection. He was inured to the traffic danger.

“It’s not particularly dangerous,” said Murphy of Granada Hills. “I haven’t noticed it. It’s busy. The only thing that happens is some guy blows a light.

“But I expect it.”


Most Mayors Agree—Add More Bike Lanes Instead of Parking

A survey of US mayors from all over the country shows 70 percent would add bike lanes at the expense of driving lanes or parking.

We tend to think of “sharing the road” as a transaction that takes place on the individual level between bicycles and cars, but what about on the infrastructure level? Sure, building bike lanes might take physical space and funds from driving lanes, but continuing to widen and maintain roads to serve only motorists is neither practical nor economical.

The good news is, we’re not the only ones who see the need to include bikes in a city’s infrastructure budget: 70 percent of US mayors support making roads more accessible to cyclists, even at the expense of driving lanes and parking, according to the 2015 Menino Survey of Mayors. The 89 mayors in favor represent a bipartisan majority of mayors, hailing from cities of all sizes, that recognizes the benefit of bike accessibility projects to a city’s traffic flow and budget.

In terms of infrastructure priorities, one in five mayors also listed “bicycle friendliness” as a top three area for new infrastructure spending. And when given the opportunity to spend a hypothetical unrestricted small grant on an infrastructure project, bike/pedestrian projects emerged as the top choice—ahead of parks, roads, and city buildings. (For a hypothetical unrestricted large grant, “roads” was the top choice—but, encouragingly, only after “mass transit.”)

We’re happy to see that the contributions bicycles make to communities are being recognized by big decision makers from both parties. For more on infrastructure priorities, check out the full mayoral survey.


Hexlox brings anti-theft protection to any bolt on your bike

New magnetic anti-theft system debuts on Kickstarter

HEXLOX is a revolutionary approach to prevent theft of your Bicycle parts.

Its the smartest, lightest & easiest way to protect your Saddle, Wheels, Handlebars or other components. It also looks damn good.

Just put the Hexlox into ANY existing bolt on your bike & make it into a security bolt.

Finally you can select any saddle, wheels or components & have peace of mind at all times when you park your bike.

Learn more here.

Mulholland Challenge – K.O.M. Challenge Stage #1

Enjoy an epic challenge with tons of climbing in the incredibly beautiful Santa Monica Mountains.Ride the world famous Mulholland Highway, and much more. This event is geared toward the adventurous cyclist who loves to climb.

106 miles with about 12,700 feet of climbing! Chip-Timed!

Learn more here.

Wow, now that’s a big gear! SRAM 12spd launched

New XX1 Eagle and X01 Eagle groups give a super wide range and more refinement than ever.

It’s been one of worst-kept secrets in the world of mountain biking, but SRAM has finally announced its all-new 12-speed single ring mountain bike drivetrains, called XX1 Eagle and X01 Eagle. BikeRadar was there to ride the new groupset and get the full lowdown, so read on for all the specs and tech details and the reasons why we think this news is the beginning of the end for the front derailleur.

The most obvious change over the outgoing XX1 and X01 groups is that the twelfth sprocket on the cassette is a rather humongous 50t item. That gives you an impressive 500% gear range with a single ring up front. For comparison, Shimano’s new 11-46t cassette only has a 418% range with a single ring setup and a 36/26t double with 11-40t cassette gives a 504% range.

Okay, you could run a Shimano double with the new wider range cassette to get a range up to a staggering 592%, but that doesn’t seem much use unless you regularly pedal up near vertical slopes before cranking it downhill on steep and smooth trails; hardly a common mountain bike riding situation. Front rings are available from 30T-38T, so there’s plenty of choice to tune the gearing to your riding needs too.

Another smart thing about Eagle is that it uses the same steps between gears as SRAM’s existing single ring drivetrains, while the jump from the 42t cog to the new 50t is only 19%. The overall width of the new cassette isn’t far off an 11spd item either, thanks to a slightly narrower chain width and gap between cogs. The 10t cog sits in the same place, while the 50t is slightly more inboard than the largest 42t cog of an 11spd SRAM cassette thanks to a dished profile.

SRAM has worked with a large number of wheel manufacturers to make sure it’ll work with pretty much every wheel on the market today too – if it you can fit an XX1 cassette on there, you can fit an XX1 Eagle item on there. The Eagle cassette is made in the same way as current XX1 and X01 too, with the first 11 cogs being machined from a single piece of high strength steel, with the 50t cog being made from aluminium and riveted to the steel block. The different chain width and spacing does mean that there’s almost no backwards compatibility with SRAM’s 11spd groups though – chainring is the only part that will work with an 11spd chain.

It still uses SRAM’s existing and widely available XD driver body standard too. Okay, OneUp’s modular cassette for Shimano 11spd can provide the same range but it doesn’t have the same steps between gears and requires a hub compatible with the much less common Mini Driver body if you want a 10t sprocket.

SRAM has managed to add this extra range by tweaking the derailleur slightly too. Yes, the cage is now longer, but it’s no longer than a long-cage Shimano item. The lower jockey wheel has been increased in size from 12t to 14t which helps increase chain capacity, as does having a larger offset on the upper pulley. Interestingly, the upper pulley doesn’t have a narrow-wide tooth profile as SRAM reckons this doesn’t affect shifting in any way.

There’s now a new Type 3 clutch mechanism that provides a higher force but is also smoother. SRAM has toughened up the pivot points with harder materials and the bolt that holds the derailleur to the hanger now allows the derailleur to pivot about it in an IGUS bushing, meaning that the annoying habit of SRAM derailleurs undoing themselves unless tightened down heavily is now unlikely to happen.


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New Plan Seeks to Improve Bike and Pedestrian Safety in Downtown Los Angeles DTLA

In an effort to make the downtown Los Angeles area more suited for bicycles and pedestrians, city officials are putting into place a new plan called DTLA Forward that will make bike lanes protected and separate from traffic.
On Wednesday morning, Councilman Jose Huizar was joined by a group of pedestrian, bike, greenway and downtown advocates to announce the plans for a revamping of downtown streets. The plan aims to use street configuration to better suit pedestrians and bikers in a car-heavy city.

The city has already installed “head start” crosswalks, which give pedestrians four seconds of green light to walk before drivers get a green light themselves.

The biggest change, however, could come with these protected bike lanes that would give bikers an exclusive lane that prioritizes their safety by keeping them away from both moving and parked cars.

“The majority of people who are scared to commute to work, it’s only because there’s not a bugger,” said Rodney Masjedi, of DTLA Bikes.

Biker and San Francisco transplant Sara Shortt applauded the plan.

“I want to ride my bike everywhere and I know a lot of friends who actually prefer to do that but they feel too unsafe,” she said.

The initiative’s main improvements will be on Main and Spring streets in the downtown area.

Huizar believes some drivers will be skeptical, but he is sure they will realize the benefit of making downtown LA more biker friendly.

“The more people get out of their cars to bicycles the less traffic we have,” said Huizar. “That person that was first complaining about that bicycle lane in a couple of years may say, ‘Hey, hey, this is a lot smoother here.'”
According to a city spokesman, Los Angeles currently has $11 billion worth in ongoing developments and expects an influx of over 80,000 new residents in the next five years.

From NBC

Garmin Vector 2 Review from Bike Radar

The Vector was the world’s first power meter pedal but it wasn’t perfect. For the revised version Garmin has added lots more analysis and changed the pods, which proved very robust.

Transferring between bikes isn’t as quick as with PowerTap’s P1s, but still takes only a few minutes. As well as having to mount the pods, you also need to torque the pedals correctly to 40Nm. That’s higher than normal and you can’t afford to get it wrong, as the Vectors will read incorrectly if not tightened to spec. Each pod takes a CR2032 battery.

The Vector 2 requires an ‘installation ride’ to teach the pods the precise angle they are set to in relation to the crank. This only takes about 30 seconds, then your computer asks you to confirm crank length and do a manual zero offset calibration.

The Vector 2 is also available in a single-sided Vector 2S as a more affordable entry point that can then be upgraded to a dual-sided system. You can also upgrade your original Vector pods to V2.

The new Cycling Dynamics features are interesting. Using a Garmin Edge 1000 you can see live displays of your left/right power, stroke efficiency (Power Phase) and seated/standing splits. Some of this is a bit gimmicky and only there because it’s possible, but the Power Phase feature is useful, especially if you’re a newer rider working to develop a smooth spin.

The Vector 2 performed well for lots of rides but also gave us a fair bit of grief. It’s sensitive to temperature and it also over-read sprint efforts of over 900W by as much as 30% compared to two other meters when it had tracked alongside them for the rest of the ride.

Then the left pedal started reading low, before cutting out completely. Swapping the batteries and pods didn’t fix it. Garmin said it was a ‘firmware issue’ but replaced the whole set with new ones. It should also be said that Garmin’s warranty backup is very good, and for the rest of our testing the second set performed without any problems, so maybe Garmin is ironing out some bugs.