Saturday, April 11, 2009

Time for a break

All that biking is taking its toll on my legs.

In today's La Mesa ride, I was having a harder time climbing than usual. There's really nothing wrong with how I spin the cranks. On the contrary, I think it was actually improving. It's just that my legs were hurting, particularly the muscles in the inner thigh area. There was even a point that I was on the verge of cramping! Now that would've been funny - surviving Bataan and La Mesa only to suffer cramps on the way to the Giant store. And no,we didn't climb the wall.

Sheesh! I think I'm getting a massage tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2009

First Impression: WTB Nano Saddle

Why is it that when we buy something new for the bike, we almost always have to schedule a nice ride to try it out? Case in point: me and my new WTB saddle.

Yes my friends, I've decided to let go of my hard and stiff Selle Italia Trans Am for a WTB Nano saddle. With WTB getting good reviews in terms of comfort, buying one for only P1,000 from Ato of PhilMoFo is a no brainer. It's definitely a steal, and if you hurry, he still might have some stocks. Check out his thread at the Philippine Mountain Biking Forum.

If you can still remember, I bought my old saddle from a PCN member based in Pampanga. It was stiff when I got it but I figured, with my weight and the kilometers I'm gonna put on this, it's bound to get comfortable. Well, a few years later, it's still as stiff as hell.

I was thinking of visiting Dan's Bike Shop in Makati this holiday break to check out their Specialized Body Geometry saddles when I stumbled upon this good deal. I guess I won't need that anymore.

Now for the ride.

I was supposed to ride to Antipolo today but I woke up late and there were a lot of pilgrims going up Sumulong. In short, I didn't feel like it. So instead of that, I did a nice and sweet UP-Ateneo loop just to try out the saddle.

With just a few kilometers, I can feel the difference already. Although my butt was a bit sore from the La Mesa ride yesterday using my old saddle, the WTB Nano seems to be OK.

As part of my Good Friday thing, I washed my bike and even applied some tire black on my Nevegals. I guess that's all for nothing as we're heading to the hills of Licao-Licao tomorrow - perfect place to try out my new stuff.

La Mesa Ride with Justin Steiner of Dirt Rag Magazine

Needless to say, the white dude is Justin Steiner from Dirt Rag Magazine. He visited the Philippines for the first time to check out this year's Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival in Subic.

The ride in the La Mesa Nature Reserve is his last one before flying back to the US. He also rode Maarat the day before with the Voodoo guys Agu and Polly!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bicycling's Bike Maintenance Checklist

Yesterday, I was doing the rounds, hopping from one cycling site to the other, checking out what's new until I stumbled upon this nice checklist from Bicycling on Spring Bicycle Maintenance. Now, we really don't have spring here in the Philippines. Nonetheless, I really think that some of these are very applicable to us, especially for those who are going back to biking after a long hiatus. Here's the low down :

1. Inspect the frame for cracks
Cracks usually occur near welded areas, or where the frame is butted. Probably the most common spot is the underside of the down tube, just below the head tube. On carbon frames, it can be difficult to tell if you’re looking at a scratch in the clearcoat or a crack in the frame. If your fingernail can catch on the blemish, it might be a crack. If you have your suspicions, go to the shop.

2. Remove and lube your seatpost
Mark the height of your seatpost with tape or a pencil, then remove it, wipe it clean and, if it’s steel or aluminum, smear a light layer of grease over the section that goes inside the frame.

3. Check that wheels are clean and true
Dirty rims interfere with stopping power, so first clean the rims with a slightly abrasive pad, or just scrub hard with a rag soaked in dish soap, and then rinse and dry. Then, check to see if your wheels are wobbling. On warped wheels, the ride is rougher, you have less control, and you could end up on the ground if the wheel folds or a spoke breaks.

4. Adjust or replace your brakes
Glazed brake shoes cause weak braking and impolite squeals. Use sandpaper to buff off the glaze and roughen up the pads. Also pick out dirt, grit or pieces of metal that have become imbedded in the pad. If the pad has hardened so much you can’t scratch it with your fingernail, or if it’s worn past the indicator line, replace it.

5. Check cleats for wear
Worn-out cleats can be dangerous, with less predictable entry and release. They also offer less stability as the cleats float around in the pedal jaws, making you feel disconnected from the bike and ultimately reducing the amount of power you can lay down. Some manufacturers have wear indicators on their cleats. For other brands, watch for gouges and scratches at the engagement points at the front and rear of the cleat. If you have to tighten the tension of your pedals for them to hold your cleats in place, replace the cleats.

6. Clean or replace your chain
Place the edge of a 12-inch ruler over the pin of one link. The 12-inch hash mark should sit over another pin. If it doesn’t, the chain is worn, which reduces shifting efficiency and causes excess wear on the rings and cassette; replace it. If the chain is fine, soak a clean rag with degreaser, and with your bike in a work stand, grasp the chain with the rag as you packpedal to remove grime. Then put a drop of lube on the top of each link and backpedal a few revolutions.

7. Adjust shifting
You can make your shifting smoother than a well-organized bank heist simply by following these foolproof steps for setting up your derailleurs. Clean parts are a must for this job, so make a drivetrain scrub the first step in this process, or, ideally, do this adjustment while replacing your chain or cables.

8. Inspect helmet for damage
When you replace your helmet depends how much you used it, how roughly you transported it and how much it was exposed to sun and heat. Fading color, delamination, frayed straps and distorted internal foam (not to mention cracks) indicate it's time for replacement. One rule: Always replace your helmet after a crash.

9. Check tires for cuts and wear
Deflate the tube to about half its pressure, so the tire is still shaped but pliable. Roatating the wheel in the frame, manipulate the tire with your hands to expose cuts in the sidewalls or tread. If you find any that go either entirely through the tire, or are deep enough to make you anxious, replace the tire. Rule of thumb for mountain tires: If five or more treads are ripped away, the tire is ready to fail systemically and should be replaced if you want to avoid lots of flats.

Check out the article here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Bataan Killer Loop (or half loop, in our case)

This image on your left is the reward you get as you reach the top of the Bataan Killer Loop Trail. When I saw it I couldn't help but try to whistle the Marlboro theme. Yup, TRY to whistle - that's because I was trying to catch my breath.

So yesterday we finally rode the Bataan Killer Loop trail again after three years. The team for this trip includes Victor Paterno, King Bernas, Mike Tanjangco, Clarence Guerrero, Mike and Megan Ortiz, and me. We took the longer but faster route to Bataan (a.k.a. the newly constructed SCTEX) and parked in the Total gas station just outside the town of Pilar.

The first few kilometers were on the National Highway before we turned left going up to the trail. It was a nice and steady transition as the cemented road slowly gets narrower and narrower until it becomes a double trail leading up the mountain.

That's MeThe trail was nice and dry. Thank God it didn't rain or it would've been clay. There were ruts in the middle of the trail so one has to learn how to read their way up.

When you get to the top, you'll thank those japanese engineers from Shimano for inventing the 22 x 34 ring-cog combination. If you think about it, the climb wasn't that steep. It was the distance and terrain that differentiates it from your usual weekend ride.

Since we're low on water and the other side wasn't as exciting to ride down, we decided to make it a "killer half-loop" and went down the same way.

Our three hour climb only took twenty minutes to go down, but it was worth it. In this trip, I learned how to use the berms to maintain my speed and avoid the ugly parts.

Interested in doing the ride, too? Check out the map in King's Sports Track Live.
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