Thursday, June 30, 2011

Clinchers Vs. Tubulars

A debate that may last forever, and one that, in my opinion, is only answered by the person riding the tires. However, since I've been asked several times for my opinion on which tire is "Fastest," I will do my best to answer that question with this blog post. It really isn't very exciting, but at the very least it will be informative.

This debate has become a real interesting one. It was never an issue until clinchers started to become so well made.
For triathlon purposes where efficiency both in repair while racing, and accomplishing the fastest time is necessary, I believe a good clincher combined with a latex tube is the way to go. Because most triathletes aren't pro level, but enthusiasts at best, the thought of changing a tubular can be intimidating. Clinchers are easier, and more familiar to the enthusiast to change while doing a hasty repair during a race. That being said, being able to change a tubular or inner-tube is critical, and practicing with whatever tire you choose to ride is a must.
I say that the debate wasn't an issue until clinchers became so nice, because it's the truth. The advent of the "Open-Tubular" which is basically a tubular tire that wasn't sewn together with a tube inside, and instead a kevlar bead was placed which then turned the tire into a clincher. These tires offered the ease of a clincher with the lightweight and "speed" of a tubular. Clinchers were never a "Real" option because they were never as nice as the tubulars. Tubulars used to always be made with silk casing and aged, this combo provided an extremely smooth rolling tire with a very pliable feel. This also gave a tremendous amount of "Road-feel" which could really "tell" the rider where his bike was the past no clincher could ever do that. However, now with the great clinchers available there is really no reason a triathlete should ever "need" to ride tubulars.
For road cycling it may be a different story. For road cycling, tubulars will be properly glued as opposed to lightly glued for triathlon use. This "Proper glue job" of road cycling provides two benefits, 1) less tire squirm and wasted energy(debatable) 2) less likliehood of tire rolling off of the rim in case of a flat. Also tubular wheels are lighter. Tubulars used during a triathlon tend to be "Lightly glued" in order to make changing a flat tubular tire on the roadside much, much easier. Regarding the wheels for both tubular and clincher, tubulars are lighter, carbon clinchers with an aluminum brake track are heavier as a result of the aluminum, and the all Carbon clincher wheels are nice but in order to remain safe under high pressure, the sidewalls need to be slightly more built up to handle the outward force of the clincher tire bead which happens as a result of an inflated tire, and this often results in a slightly heavier wheelset as well. So if you want the absolute lightweight out of a wheelset, get a tubular wheelset. If you are less concerned with weight, unfamiliar with tubulars, or just like the idea of clinchers better, get a clincher wheelset.
So, the discussion could go on and on. Ask me whatever questions you have. I'll list a few tire recommendations both tubular and clincher.

1) Vittoria Open Corsa with Latex tube- Fast but not really durable- risky for punctures
2) Schwalbe Ultremo ZX- Fast and durable. With a latex tube really a great combo. Not highly likely to puncture unless through a pile of glass
3) Schwalbe Durano S or Ultremo DD- Both very durable and fast with a latex tube
4) Conti GP4000- Durable.

1) Vittoria Corsa Tubular- Fast, light, not very durable
2) Schwalbe Ultremo HT- Fast, durable
3) Conti Sprinter- Durable

I will always recommend
that the fastest most durable tire is best for Triathlon, tubular or clincher. It is always heart breaking to see people struggle changing tires(tubulars) or tubes(clincher) just because they sacrificed some durability for light weight or speed. The Schwalbes, in my opinion, are the best all around tires out there, for both triathlon and cycling.
So, for ease of repair on the roadside, clincher. For the ultimate in lightweight wheelset, tubular. For ultimate speed in a clincher....not just in mph, but overall efficiency, a nice durable clincher and latex tube. For ultimate speed in a tubular a nice durable tubular that is truly glued properly. Of course, either way, the practice of changing the flat tires or tubes is a must. For those of you who know the story of the above picture, that is all you need to know.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More about Belgium

Because all things European and specifically all things from Belgium are idolized by most American cyclists, I've decided to help explain a little more about Belgium and its current state of affairs.

In a previous blog post I wrote about the different flags and the prominent "Lion of Flanders" flag. In this blog post I've decided to attach a short video that explains today's Belgium better than anyone, or any American cyclist with a blog, could do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lost in Translation

As the title of this blog post indicates, I missed something. As the picture indicates, there was some yelling involved. Not by 3 black ladies(thank goodness)if it was, I would have been more concerned. Instead I got yelled at not by 1, but 2 guys from the group I was riding with on Sunday. However, in defense of myself as well as the guys who yelled at me, there was an important piece of information about the ride that got, you guessed it, lost in translation.

First, in order to catch everybody up to speed, I need to give a bit of back story. A few of my readers know that in my past I was a relatively competitive cyclist and in the last few years I've let myself and fitness slide and am now a much larger version of the former me. Anyhow, now that I am living in the Netherlands and am able to ride more, I have taken every opportunity to do so. With that opportunity I decided to join a local cycling club called LRTV Swift. It is a cool club, has a nice clubhouse, has nice members, and more importantly they have people that I can ride with. So it has been great to know that there is a schedule of rides available. One of those rides is called, De Haarlemmermeertraining, and it takes place every Sunday in February. I missed
last Sunday only because I forgot that the Dutch are very punctual and if the ride is a 10Am ride, that means that at precisely 10Am the wheels are rolling. Well, at 10Am last Sunday I was putting on my shoe covers and by the time I started my sprint down the path to catch up the group was gone and I had no idea where they went. So, I went on a nice ride by myself but was determined to make the next ride with the group.

Sunday rolled around and I knew that in order not to relive the previous Sunday of being left behind I decided that I would show up to the SWIFT clubhuis early and decided that 9:30Am would be fine. I arrived on time, went in got a cup of coffee, said "Goede Morgen" to a couple of guys that responded to my salutation with a blank stare. I brushed it off and figured that the warmth I felt was a result of their lack of coffee, my 3days worth of beard, my accent, the fact that the sun hasn't made a presence in about 4 months, they were wishing they were in church, or maybe that's how the Dutch welcome complete strangers. Anyhow, as the morning progressed more and more cyclists showed up and my "goede morgen's" were met with a similarly warm reception. Finally, a familiar face arrived, Ruben. He is one of the first cyclists I met at the club and he is always quick to offer a hello. We said hello and I went back to sipping my coffee. As 10am approached, a cyclist dressed in black stood up on a chair and starts yelling...............something, something, something, something, uhhh, something, something, uhhh, something, something, something. I sat there and was able to understand a couple of a group, steady, together, as a group. OK, cool, no problem. Another guy, who is the club bike shop sponsor decides to add his sounded like this, something, something, something, hahahhaahaaa. Cool, as a group, steady, together, as a group. 10AM we were on the roads.

Without exaggeration this ride was the biggest group ride I have been on in at least 10 years and although I lived in San Diego and riding groups are large there too, I never rode with them. So this ride was a great experience. It felt really comfortable. I was happy. The obstacles weren't much different than any other group ride experiences, traffic, poles in the middle of the road(delineating traffic), two lane bike paths crammed with a 120 person group, all very familiar to me. I chatted with a guy, Klaas, who made a comment about my fenders(spatborden) and my bike. We chatted for a little while and I found out he owns a bike shop and has his own bike brand, Vusolo.

I eventually made my way up to the front of the group and was riding comfortably when I heard a noise from one of my spatborden.....front or rear was irrelevant, it was an irritating noise. I made my way to the back of the pack so I could stop and inspect what may be causing the noise, I diagnosed it, made the noise stop and hopped back on my bike to give chase. I caught back on to the group but at the back of, at this point an 80 or 90 person pack on a 2 lane bike path, is pretty stressful. Quickly I made the decision to make my way back up to the front of the group. I meandered my way up the left side of the pack and as soon as I got to the front I saw a small group of 6 guys up the road a little way and they were riding a nicely moving paceline, so I decided that I might as well keep the momentum going and ride up to them..........."something, something, something, F**k, F**k,something, something, something, BACK HERE!, something, F**k!" is all I heard and then I felt a hand grabbing my jersey pocket and this is where it gets interesting.....and again for those of you who have known me for a while, you know I am not a big fan altercation because altercations have so many options for response. So, my first response was "What the F**K are you grabbing me for? What the F**K is your problem?" Now keep in mind that the guy who was yelling at me is at best 150 pounds and 6'3, I am pretty sure when he grabbed me it moved him more than it moved me so I found a small sense of humor at what this whole interaction looked like. I also recognized the guy as the shop owning sponsor, and as with any system there is a leader and there are followers.......he is a leader. So, at his command to "come back here!" I had no choice. But, as I was just coming back to the front of the group I feel another grab on my left leg and I hear a person yelling "something, something, something, SWIFT, something!" I said calmly in response, "what the F**k is the problem with you people? There is a group of 6 guys up the road and I want to go ride with them."
This was met with "oh, you speak English?" naturally I responded, "yes, I do, and I can only understand minimal Dutch." This guy was a bit more calm at this point, and introduced himself as "Henk, the president of the club." Cool, I know how to make a good impression. Anyhow, Henk informed me that he and the other man will decide when people can "ride" and that in the interest of safety it is only after a certain point. Ahhhh, I asked Henk if that was the announcement he made prior to the ride upon his chair.....and it was confirmed that "steady,together,as a group" was only part of the announcement and the "something,something's" that I heard was actually "we will decide when you ride" and that after a certain point of the ride it will be a "free-for-all". Nice. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked Henk about the guys who were up the road and he let me know that they had to go home early and were allowed to ride up the road to make a turn that the rest of the group wasn't. Anyhow....
At this point I was still near the front of the group as we made a left turn to the section where a "free-for-all" was allowed. This section had a slight crosswind(no surprise)from the right, so the front of the group was spread out to the right and we were riding steady, I took my pull, pulled off and immediately as I pulled off there was an attack straight into the left gutter. The group started to string out and I was left in the middle of the road and struggling to find a wheel and was soon back with another group. Not the first time, not the last, nothing to write home about and pretty uneventful. I was just happy to be there, on the bike, in the wind, doing what I love. Riding.

Here is a list of a few guys I've had yell at me while riding.
  • Andrej "the tank" Mierzejewski
  • Steve Hegg
  • Alexi Grewal
  • Frank Vandenbroucke
  • Frank Hoj
  • Tomas Brozyna
  • The Ukranian in Canada (he actually put me in a ditch) of all the guys who have yelled at me, I respect this guy the most. He had Golden teeth and was a complete tough guy. I often wonder where he is.
  • Various French cyclists in Brittany
  • Andrew "Metal Man" Danly- 2009 RAAM "SAFETY VEST!"
  • Ryan Denner- 2009 RAAM, "WOOF!"
  • Henk the SWIFT club president
  • Shop owning sponsor guy
So, now that I know the "rules" of the Sunday ride I will hopefully be able to ride a conflict free and pleasant ride next Sunday. Of course the crosswind will probably have the same effect on me, but it won't be the first time, the last or the most unique crosswind. I know for a fact that pacelines and echelons, unlike the Dutch language, are not foreign to me and won't get lost in translation.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


disclaimer: the thoughts presented here are my own.

fact: $1.8billion in US aid to Egypt every year.
fact: Mubarak is a dictator who has helped maintain stability
fact: the only real option for Democracy in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood
fact: the Brotherhood aren't fans of Israel
fact: the Brotherhood are a Sunni group
fact: Sunni like to oppress women
fact: the Brotherhood would turn Egypt into an Islamist State and could enact Sharia Law
fact: Islamist State in Africa, that doesn't like Israel with access to billions of dollars in US made military equipment as well as US trained military personnel is not good for stability
fact: schools in the US should forget teaching French and start teaching Arabic
fact: the US is getting pressured by Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan
fact: when Obama announced that Mubarak should "step down" it upset Saudi Arabia. They now feel that if the US can that quickly turn its back on one ally, that the US has the ability to do the same to all of its allies.
fact: it's a shitty mess and if the US and other politicians were as smart as half of Facebook there would have been Democracy in Egypt 2 weeks ago
fact: most people like to make uninformed, emotional professions of support on topics they are ignorant to.
fact: Obama and his team have no idea what to do. It is also unlikely that any other president would know what to do. In fact we should all choose our next US president very very wisely.
fact: while the US tries to figure out what the hell to do, China is quietly going about business as usual in Africa, South America, Middle East, and Australia, mining, drilling, and securing the resources it needs to overtake the US as the worlds most powerful economy

please make corrections or offer more facts for me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

IKEA bikes

There has been some bicycle blog discussion regarding the free IKEA bike that was given to about 12,000 employees in the US. It is an inexpensive/cheap mtn. bike that was a reward for all the great work they have done this past year. Sure, it was cheap but why would they give something more valuable to a bunch of employees who may not ride and in a country that doesn't ride? It was a nice gesture and I am sure some of the employees will get great use out of them. Only in America will so called "bike advocate " people blog about how 'crappy' the free bike was. Perhaps if the bike advocacy world were truly interested in promoting bicycling they should show a little graciousness or at the very least acknowledge that a $1500 commuter isn't the only way a person can become a bike commuter. In fact the free bike from IKEA could very well be the beginning of somebody's commuting days. Don't be so arrogant, ignorant or pompous. Promote bicycling as a real option and not just a way to make a statement or as a status symbol. Here is a picture of the bike. To the enthusiast it isn't a pretty bike but instead of picking the bike apart look at is as an opportunity, an opportunity for someone else to ride instead of drive. This is in fact a great starter bike for someone somewhere and it is also a great opportunity for an astute salesman or bike shop to sell a slightly better commuter. As the sayings go, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth" and "don't shit where you intend to eat".

On another note here is another reason to value what IKEA has done. This transport bike/truck is used to transport all of your goods from IKEA. This thing comes in really handy for the thousands of people here in the Netherlands who don't have a car and rely solely on bike for transport. The box of this bike/truck is about 7 feet long, 4 feet tall and about 3.5 to 4 feet wide. Depending on how much the people need to transport, it can be ridden with one person but is designed for two. Cool idea. Maybe these should make more of a presence in the States.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Should I stay or should I go?

This past week it has been a little chilly. My favorite bike path was covered in snow since last Friday or Saturday and I had to resort to running and the indoor trainer. Both are great options to riding on the road but in no way can they be a substitute to the feeling and sound of the wind on your face and the feel of the asphalt, brick or cobbles rolling under the wheels. So today was a day for an outside ride. What a day it was. Two hours in complete solitude on the paths. Here are a couple of pictures from my morning. Hopefully this weekend with the high temps of 6C the ice will melt.

Now it's time for my coffee and spekulaas.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Yesterday in the Netherlands and today in Belgium the celebration of Sinterklaas has spread cheer to kids and adults alike. Sinterklaas is the traditional celebration of his birthday. It was at one time a Christian celebration of St. Nicholas but once the Netherlands became a majority Protestant country the celebration became St. Nicks birthday. Sinterklaas is also the basis of Santa Claus in the States.

Sinterklaas comes from Spain with his helper Zwarte Piet or Black Peter. Zwarte Piet is a controversial figure some go as far as to say the image is racist. Of course the shouts of protest come from people who don't see the historical value of Zwarte Piet only the image of a white man with a black helper(you can see a Piet in my picture above). Zwarte Piet has various explanations some say he is a slave to Sinterklaas some say he is a former slave that was freed by Sinterklaas and became so indebted to Klaas that he stuck around to help. Either way Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet bring presents to adults and children all across the Netherlands and the happiness and spirit is hard to ignore. Here in the Netherlands they've created many versions of Piet, the helper Piet, the spying Piet who watches the children to make sure they are good etc.. etc.. Tradition has also said that kids who have been naughty get stuffed into a sack that Zwarte Piet carries and they get carted off to Spain. I'm not so sure that threat exists today or not. More can be found about Zwarte Piet on the internet. For you who are shouting racist! try to wrap your head around this possibility for a Zwarte Piet beginning, some say he was a Persian character called Haji not only can you get wrapped around the axle about Piet being black you can also get wrapped around the axle about him being Persian.....for you that don't know, Persian are people from Iran. We all know how bad people from Iran are......ok not really but I am sure for the haters of Piet the additional info regarding Piet is more fuel for your hating fire.

I like Zwarte Piet and Sinterklaas. They both bring a very good energy to the street of the Netherlands and the communities embrace them. Shops are decorated, parades go down the market streets and it is a really good time. So I recommend that instead of focusing on the color or ethnicity of Piet, focus on the happiness that he brings. Once people are able to focus on and embrace good, hatred will go away and happiness will follow.