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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Riding in the Rain

It looks like summer's over and the wet season is upon us. I'm sure a lot of cyclists would be staying indoors. Some might even grow a conscience and do some spinning sessions on their trainers.

I can't blame them. The effects of the rain to one's bike is not negligible. For starters, it's going to be heavy on the pads if they're still using rim brakes. Shimano's multi-system (?) brake cartridges work relatively fine in wet weather but they don't last long. Another issue is water getting into the sealed areas of the bike. The performance of hubs, bottom brackets, headset and suspension systems are greatly compromised when water penetrates into their "sealed" bearings. This is when things start squeaking.

As for me, I love riding in the rain. I guess it brings back childhood memories. The feeling of having the rain in your face as you pedal somehow makes me forget how wet and dirty my butt is. Water in the trails or on the road makes me somehow be a better bike handler because it forces me to look for lines that will give my tires traction.

One need not be stuck at home when the rain comes. Here are some tips:

1. Wear eye protection with at least clear lenses. It's better than squinting at a 60 kilometer per hour-descent.

2. For trails with sticky mud, apply Pam's cooking spray (or any oily stuff, I guess) to the parts of your frame where mud normally get stuck.

3. If you're using twist-style shifters, wear gloves or risk being a single speeder for a day.

4. If your helmet doesn't have a visor, wear a cycling cap underneath your helmet. It helps in protecting your eyes from the rain.

5. Don't forget to drink. Cyclists usually forget to do this because of the cold weather. They only realize the need to drink when they're already thirsty, which is too late.

6. After a wet ride, at least dry your bike, especially your chain. If you can wash it first, then that would be better. When the chain is dry, don't forget to lube it.

7. Bring your bike to a bike shop for regreasing every now and then.

8. Be careful of riding on puddles or flooded areas as there can be an open manhole that will take you to kingdom come.

9. Wear a riding jacket or kapote.

10. When braking, do not attempt to do squeeze of death on your brake levers or you might lose traction. Try "feathering" them, instead.

11. If you're annoyed at the water spray from your tires getting into your face, consider installing good quality fenders.

12. You still get sunburns even if it's raining so don't forget to apply sunblock an hour before the ride.

If you have any tips that you'd like to share, please feel free to do so. Just click on the comment link below.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Licao-Licao

We all had fun in yesterday's Licao-Licao ride, courtesy of trailmaster King. I was planning on giving the Reba a nice test session and the trail delivered the goods. It was our first time and we're really happy about it! The trail network was awesome - lots of singletrack, great views, not too much climbing and not too technical.

My apologies for not posting pictures. I forgot to bring the camera. No worries as I'll be back again next time for sure!

Among all that was there, my favorite was this stretch that seemed to be the entrance to Jurassic Park with all the trees and bamboos. The path was covered with cobblestones and it was suspension heaven as it did test how the new fork held up. It was short but we all had a blast!

So what's the verdict? I still need to get used to the Reba. It was plush but it wasn't as plush as the Z.2. I need to get myself a shock pump so I can change the negative air pressure myself. Right now, the positive and negative air chambers have the same amount of air. I'm thinking of increasing the negative air pressure so it would be more responsive to the smaller bumps.

As for Licao-Licao, it's going to be included as one of my favorite trails. I just need to familiarize myself more as to where these trails are.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Goodbye Z.2, Hello Reba!

I think that road bike plan will have to be moved to a later date. In all honesty, I was intent on getting one with a nice aluminum frame (perhaps a Giant) and Shimano 105 components. It would probably cost me around P30,000. Not bad at all.

Then the evil King popped me a message last Tuesday and gave me a link to PMTB's Buy and Sell section. When I clicked on it, I knew right then that the road bike plan would have to shelved. What's there waiting for me is a second-hand Rock Shox Reba SL at a price I just can't ignore! So I called up the seller and got P500 off the asking price, picked it up the following day from Extreme Bike Shop in Panay Avenue and had it installed there.

Yes, I finally retired my 1999 Marzocchi Z.2 BAM 80mm fork. After eight years of use, I'm saying goodbye to this long-time companion. Come to think of it, the relationship wasn't love at first sight at all. Coming from a Rock Shox Mag 21 air-oil fork, I initially hated the Z.2 because it was too plush. It seemed to take away some power when I pedal. Then after some adjustments and a change to stiffer springs, I started to love this baby that I didn't see the need to retire them until I saw this deal.

I'm going to road trail test the Reba this weekend. King is thinking of going to Licao Licao so it's going to be longer than our usual Maarat trail route. That would be perfect to try the U-Turn and the Lock Out functionalities.

If the reviews are true, then I think I would be spending eight years with this fork, too.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I think I want a road bike

Yes, you read that right. After being a mountain biker since high school, I'm now slowly considering getting a road bike, finally.

I think it's King's fault, or maybe it's the people at the XRC Race, which I attended this morning. Seeing the peloton spinning at forty kilometers per hour on rolling terrain made me want to join them.

I don't have the budget. Well, not yet. If ever I do decide on getting one, I'll probably start with a Shimano 105-equipped steed.

To be continued.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tagay for Basso

Basso admits involvement in Puerto Scandal

My hunch was right! That resignation from Discovery because that is his way to show his respect to the team seemed like a good build up to an eventual finale of him growing some balls and admitting his involvement in the affair. And here we are.

Ah the drama! This is great material. Just imagine the movie rights. He can give The Flying Scotsman a run for its money.

Seriously speaking, when I read the news it didn't feel all that bad. Yes, I felt ripped off to find out that all that climbing I saw him do in those Tour de France DVDs are fake. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a lifetime ban or retires from cycling. The silver lining to this dark cloud is him finally admitting his involvement.

He admitted his mistake and that took a lot of courage. Now contrast that to Ullrich (who insisted he's innocent, retired from the sport but got caught anyway) and it gave us a glimpse of the true inner person.

I don't like what Basso did. No cycling fan in his right mind approves of the use of performance enhancers. I applaud him, though, for being man enough to admit it when his back is against the wall.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Men's Health Race Course: Reconnaissance Photos

We went to Timberland this morning and did a slow ride through the short race course. With the Batangas Mountain Bikers joining the race tomorrow, I took it to myself to take some reconnaissance pictures of the whole course. Below are some them:

Roxas Trail Downhill Section 1
This is the start of the downhill section in the Roxas Trail.

Roxas Trail Downhill Section 4: Kawayanan - View from the Bottom
This is the last part of the Roxas Trail downhill section and it's the most dangerous. I always use the line on the right.

Boy-Girl View from the bottom
This is the Boy/Girl section. Sorry, in this trail, I'm a girl. Good thing it's gonna be a mandatory dismount tomorrow.

The Chapel Steps: view from the bottom
The Chapel Steps Downhill. It might scare off the beginners, but all they have to do is put their weight at the back and relax to clear it.

To see the full course in pictures, click here

Friday, May 04, 2007

Time to Bike!

With gas prices predicted to go up by P4.00 per liter in the next few days, this would be heavy on the pockets of the common Filipino who drives or commutes to work. Just imagine, my Shell Unleaded E10, which sells 50 centavos cheaper than their Unleaded gasoline at P37.57 a liter, will now be P41.57! And this is their cheapest fuel for my car.

The time for alternative means of transportation is now. Time to bike to work. Not only will this solution be easier on the pocket, it's also a good exercise and good to the environment.

Start with looking for a good route from your house to your office, avoiding busy intersections and crowded streets. Next is to look for a secure place to lock your bike. Then, if your office doesn't have the facility, look for a place to freshen up, shower and change to your office attire.

When you're through with these, time to go to your bike and check if everything's in tiptop condition - check the tires if it has the right air pressure, check the chain if it's properly lubed, and see if the brakes are working properly.

Now for your gear. What you absolutely need are the following: helmet, reflectors, rear blinkers, head lights and a good bike lock.

When you're all set, it's time to roll.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Korporasyon

In English it translates to "corporation", but in local cycling lingo it means more than that. Used in mostly in races, the term loosely means already having a result even before it starts. In a korporasyon, scheming cyclists determine who wins the race before or during the race itself and all agree to split the pot when it's over.

Now I don't know if this year's EBD Barangay Tour is a korporasyon but it does have that same fishy smell. Unlike last year's event which drew roughly around a hundred mountain bikers, this year's race now only has one category for non-Batangas residents. In a way it seems like the organizers have literally organized themselves and decided that they want to make it a homegrown-talents-only affair. Indirectly they're shooing away their competition with the intent of keeping the city's funds to themselves.

I got a private email from one of their members, who wishes to remain anonymous. According to him, they really wanted to make this an all-Batangueno affair. They only offered the National Open category for those who'd still like to join. As a glimmer of hope, he added that they'll be bringing last year's format next year.

Being the race director last year, I find this news quite disappointing. I was hoping to expose them more to the level of competition from other parts of the country, but it was them who chose to go back to their shell.

I was planning on going there and riding the course today, but I didn't feel like it anymore. There's no reason to map out the route and find out the distances if they want to keep it to themselves.

I guess I'll wait for next year's announcement.
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