Tuesday, December 06, 2005
My other office, where I do my work for GearReview, is much nicer, though. This morning, before coming in to this office, I was in that one. I was outside, playing--er, working--in the snow. Last night, I took the time to mount some studded tires (these) to my fully rigid mountain bike/commuter in preparation for some early morning "work". It was incredible. Crisp, clear, and no one out. It was only about 21 degrees, which was about 10 degrees warmer than I thought it would be, so I was in a good mood. And, though heavy, those tires are fun in the snow and ice. I really wish I could go back to my other office right now.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Why do we expect so much from these poor, tired search engines? It really is their own fault: they deliver. They started this bad habit of returning good results when the internet was small and it cost more for people to connect. Back then, everything was slow, so there was less pressure. Now, computers are fast, connections are fast and both are much cheaper. Poor search engines. You must be tired.
And yet, people like me don't ever give them a break. Ever.
For some reason, lately www.google.com comes up slowly on my home connection (purportedly 15mb fiber). Also, searches for me or any of my reviews came up blank. What do I do. Like an ungrateful child, I run off to search.msn.com. Lo and behold, it is fast. In addition, and perhaps the most important part, it returns top ten results for most of my reviews and a search for Jon Sharp yields this blog as the first result. While some may read the first paragraph again and argue that MSN must not be doing a good job at qualifying their results if they return a blog as number 1 (and THIS blog, no less), I'm practically converted to MSN permanently.
Poor search engines. So many years of helping me out and I turn my back on Google at the drop of a hat. Believe me, Google, being slow and tired myself, I can sympathize.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I was going to BYU, and my brother and friend were living in Oregon. We had this great plan to drive to Mexico to go mountain biking. It was going to be an epic trip. My job was to drive myself and my bike from Utah to California to meet up with them before heading on. I had my bike on top of my car (you all know where this is going) and all my gear packed and I was heading out of the parking lot. Just as I was pulling out, I remembered that in the below-ground parking lot, in my apartment storage facility, I had left my sleeping bag. No problem, I slammed it in reverse and headed down the super steep ramp to the underground parking.
The car and rack took most of the force. I think I needed a new saddle and seatpost, and my Marzocchi Atom 80 didn't line up at the drop-outs like it used to--but not enough to stop me from using it. All four doors of the car (an 88 Honda Accord) were pried away from the roof, and the roof was dented on the four corners pretty well. It also did a number to my hood on which the mangled tangle of roof rack and bike landed. I was going way too fast to stop when I hit.
Besides the repair costs, we didn't go on the trip. In fact, we never made that trip. I'd like to say I learned my lesson, but when returning to school after a summer break (driving from Oregon to Utah with the bike on top really jogs the memory of a bike out of your mind) I was excited to see one of the coveted under-the-apartment parking spots open (different complex). Again, as was my driving style back in the day, I pulled in so quickly as to knock my bike right off the rack (same bike) before I realized what happened. I remember being embarrassed more than anything (for the bike, it was old hat), so I quickly scooped up the remains before anyone came out to see what the sound of scraping metal and concrete came from. At this point, my rack was loose enough (see previous accident above) that it really didn't damage my bike too much--mostly the bar-ends and, once again, the fork (which now resides on my wife's cob-web-adorned bike).
I still have a roof rack. I actually put my garage door opener in the back seat when I leave (and on extended trips, I put something in my garage in the way, preventing me from being able to pull in without getting out of my car and moving said item). I won't tell you how many times or how often moving the garage door opener has saved my bike/car.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Very very bad.
Every year on Halloween, my work has trick-or-treating for the children of all the workers. Naturally, this being the day after, there's a bit of candy lying around here and there. When I walked in to work this morning, I was hungry (I also skipped breakfast) and saw all those "fun size" candy bars here and there in the office with plenty of people trying to get rid of them. I thought, hey, I just burned 2800 calories, I can handle a few tiny candy bars. Yes, a few probably would have been fine. Would 15 be fine?
No, 15 is bad.
I can tell you that without even stepping on a scale.
Ugh... stupid HRM.
5. Crisp morning air.
This morning, it was particularly crisp at 35 degrees, but even in the summer, mornings seem clearer. Perhaps this aids in clearing my groggy, early-morning thoughts. There's something about getting your blood pumping and your lungs working that early in the morning. It gives me a better outlook on life.
4. Sets up the day to become a great day.
When I get to work, often things don't go well. Quite often, in fact. On days when I get up early to ride (and I should mention that if I'm going to ride before work, I have to start out in the dark to give me enough time to make it to work), it doesn't matter if work goes poorly because my day has already been great. It has already been a success.
3. Feeling of superiority over those still asleep.
Well, this one really was iffy. I mean, I feel that way sometimes when I ride, and it makes the tough times (cold, wet, tired) easier to bear, but it usually isn't reason enough to get up in the morning. (Those who don't get up usually site sanity as the main counter-point to this one.)
2. Fewer cars on the road.
This doesn't apply so much for off-road, but it is a huge deal for road riding, so I included it at number 2. Accidents on road-bikes generally happen due to cars and bikes trying to share the same space--sometimes the exact same space. Fewer cars = I feel safer and can enjoy the other points mentioned here.
1. Beautiful alpenglow/sunrise.
Honestly, when I am out alone, with no cars around and the sun starts to rise above the mountains (and just before that, when the sky is getting light and the mountains are silhouetted against it) makes any cold air or tired muscles disappear. Today in particular, was incredible. Over the weekend, Mt. Timpanogos has been dusted with snow down to about 8000'. As the sun was rising and caught that snow, highlighting it orange and pink, it was amazing. Though tired at the end of the ride, I would have done it all over again if I could have seen that sunrise over Mt. Timp. again.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Today, however, I got up and painted. This is reminiscent of the last few days of life-outside-of-work, where I've been spending a good portion of my time painting. Painting isn't really that bad--unless compared against any other activity in the world!
Okay, perhaps it isn't even as bad as all that, but to contrast it against my normal activity of cycling, it sucks.
It is on days like this that I realize that cycling really is a stabilizer in my life. My stresses and projects vary from day-to-day and week-to-week, but no matter what is happening with the rest of my life, cycling is there to wipe the day clean. When I start out the day without a ride, I feel like I still have yesterday's worries like so much soap scum built up on me. Only the power of cycling (*now with extra whitening!*) can clean me off and prepare me for my day.
Which reminds me, yesterday the Fat Cyclist wimped out and drove to work instead of riding. He felt like a schmuck, and asked readers to insult him accordingly. As I've thought about an appropriate insult, I realized that nothing I could say would have a more profound impact on him than the act of actually skipping a ride. He'll remember the day when he was all out-of-sorts and needed the cleansing power of cycling. He'll be unlikely to make that mistake again.
Monday, October 10, 2005
So, when I started out my ride on Saturday (road), my legs were a little stiff, but I felt pretty good. As I turned from a side-road on to a main street, I noticed that there was another cyclist ahead of me. I set out to catch him, thinking there wasn't any way I'd be able to. Before long, I was passing him. I felt pretty good, pretty confident. Then I came to an intersection and had to stop. He caught up to me and started to talk. As we both moved off the line together, he started telling me about the rides he's been on, including the LOTOJA 5 years in a row. He then told me, conversationally, about a really hard ride (for me), that he'd done "half a dozen times this year." He said none of this in arrogance, or showing off, just making conversation. Before we part ways, I found out that he was on his way home from a long ride, with a bunch left to go. Did I mention how much older than me he was? Suddenly, I didn't feel so hot anymore.
Don't get cocky, kid.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Interestingly enough, most of the bikes I rode at the Outdoor Demo at Interbike (the mountain bikes, anyway) were running SRAM X.O shifters. I think the ratio of SRAM to Shimano Dual-Control was something like 5-1 for the bikes I rode. How did I like the new X.0? Well, this isn't a review, but I loved them. Hopefully, you'll see a review on GearReview.com soon.
Monday, October 03, 2005
One of the most fantastic bikes I rode was the Calfee Dragonfly-Pro. This particular model was built with Topolino wheels (carbon tubulars) and Campagnolo Record Carbon, a custom Calfee bar-stem combo and various other expensive and beautiful parts. The finished product was a bike that came in under 14lbs complete (without my Eggbeaters which, of course, I added for the ride).
I can't give this bike a full review, as I only rode it on the short road course at the Outdoor Demo (which was new pavement), but I can say that it was a bike that stuck out from the crowd of expensive road bikes I tried that day. Besides having a light and stiff frame, the VERY light Topolino wheels contributed to the feel. It was so quick, and accelerated with so little effort, I spent the whole ride slowing down just so I could stand up and mash the pedals for another burst of speed. Another ultra-light part spec was the all-carbon saddle. Was it comfortable? Not really. I mean, I had to find the right spot to sit to be able to relax on the saddle. On the other hand, I've been on heavier padded seats that were less comfortable.
Overall, I hope to see more of the Dragonfly-Pro... at least in my dreams.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Now, I know that most trail-side repairs can be avoided by checking your bike BEFORE a ride--and I highly recommend it--but, that won't always prevent trail-side problems. It might be nice, when you're 15 miles from the trailhead, to be able to fix your bike, rather than drag it out.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
As such, you can imagine my joy when a friend approached me who just bought a road bike and told me with enthusiasm how fun it is. He told me about the speed of his road bike compared to an old mountain bike he used to own, and how well it cornered. He then proceeded to tell me how he wants to hook up with the local club and ride even more. That is the cycling bug: Once it bites, it turns into an addiction.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Don't worry, my next bike review will most likely not be a Cannondale. In the meanwhile, I am thinking of starting a petition to have Cannondale let me keep the Synapse. Anyone willing to sign? How about this: A free 20-minute ride on the Synapse to those willing to sign the petition (and who live within a 30-mile radius of my house).
Friday, August 12, 2005
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Ah bugs. It is of this that I want to particularly make mention of today. This morning, the ride was on the road (another great ride on the Synapse). The ride started out early--about 15 minutes before the sun came out. Wisely, I decided to grab a pair of clear shields (Rudy Project Maskerynas) on my way out the door. As we left my neighborhood, we headed west down to the lake to follow a road around its shores. It was beautiful. The sun was just beginning to light up the sky above the mountains to the east when it happened.
Bugs. BUGS! Tiny bugs, impossible to see in the early light of dawn, swarming around us. I could hear them hitting my helmet and glasses. I could feel them pelting my arms and face. I could--shudder--taste them. Then I glanced over at my friend riding next to me, trying to contort his face in such a way as to keep the bugs out of his eyes, while still being able to watch where he was going. A slow, bug strewn smile worked its way across my face. Yes, clear shields are important to road cycling as well. I don't think I'll ever ride at dawn or dusk without them.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
The good and bad news of this story is that it broke after only 6-months of use. Because my friend bought the bike at a local bike shop, they replaced it for free. Better luck next time, eh?
Friday, July 22, 2005
Monday, July 18, 2005
I'd like to say the time was right for me to go on the ride, because of the Synapse, but the day I went, the time wasn't right. I had some things to do outside on Saturday, so I didn't get on my bike until 1:00 in the afternoon. That put the temperature right around 100 degrees. Though I started out with two large water bottles, I knew there were plenty of water stops up American Fork canyon.
Unfortunately, I didn't have a computer, gps, or altimeter with me, so I had to drive it later and get some estimates.
my house = 4725'
mile 10.6 (base of American Fork canyon) = 5013'
mile 21.8 (top of the canyon) = 7730'
mile 30.8 (base of Sundance/North Fork canyon) = 5160'
mile 45 back at my house.
Okay, those numbers can't convey how hard this ride is. I am relieved that the only other rider up there had a triple crankset. I think I must have started the day a little dehydrated (from my working around the house outside), because I ended up downing about 6-7 water bottles full (4 of which had Elete). It hurt so bad. In truth, I never thought I'd make it to the top, but I think delirium and sun-stroke set in so I just kept going. I actually felt really good on the way back, though the last two miles I totally bonked (again).
According to my HRM, I burned 3167 calories. I should have brought more energy gels with me, for sure.
Will I ride it again? Maybe not with a compact double--though, now that the pain has worn off some, it doesn't sound so bad. One thing I can say is that Cycling is really addictive.
While reading about the Tour, and perusing some of my favorite cycling web sites, I stumbled across this article. Reminds me of how my wife must feel.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
For my part, however, there is a strange magnetic field surrounding me which actually has the ability to reverse the threads while I'm riding. At least, that's my theory. How else can you explain that, although I've never met anyone who has lost a pedal before, I have had it happen twice. I know what you're thinking: "This guy put the left pedal on the right side and the right pedal on the left side." Wrong. Not only are you wrong because I verified the pedal after it came off, but you are also wrong because you can't thread a counter-threaded bolt through a normal nut (or, in this case, the crank arm) without destroying the threads of one or both.
So, strange as it may sound, after installing some new cranks for a review (really nice cranks, watch for the review here), and tightening them nice and snug, my pedal came off while pedaling. Strange? Well, unfortunately not for me.
It should come as no surprise that after a few of these bending-turning over-bending back episodes, his bars failed and broke right near the stem clamp.
Well since that time, I've not heard of a failure (not even with him). Handlebars these days are very strong. If you're really tough on bikes (freeride or downhillers), then you can even get chromoly bars. In fact, you can pretty much pick your bar material and weight these days--all with the assurance that they are tested better, and are much stronger than yesteryear.
Well, undoubtedly, a bar with 31.8 mm diameter at the stem is going to be stronger than 25.4 (mountain bars) or 26.0 (road bars). Unfortunately, I can't put my computer, GPS, or any of my bike lights on that size of bar. And guess what (this may come as no surprise): I don't feel like my cockpit is any more stable with the larger bars. I'm sure the bars are stiffer, but I never had a problem with my bars before. In fact, I prefer to use carbon bars because they damp out vibration and make for a more comfortable ride--something large-diameter aluminum just doesn't do. Another problem I have with the size is that it is significantly larger than the normal grip diameter, so the bar has to taper radically which, again, leaves an area of the bar which doesn't work well with accessories (computers, lights, etc.).
There is, however, one good thing that has come of this change. As I stated above, road and mountain bars have different diameters--that is, until now. At least now, we are moving toward a standard size. This should make things cheaper for manufacturers and give people more options. (Like Moustache bars on a mountain bike.)
Like it or not, these industry-wide decisions are generally made without consulting me, so I'm certain 31.8 will continue to gain in popularity. Perhaps soon the computer and light manufacturers will catch on and come up with better mounting options soon. Let's hope.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Of all the things occupying my mind today, it is the weather. It all began the moment I looked out my bedroom window after rolling out of bed late this morning. Snow. On the ground. At my house. It wasn't much snow, but the damage was done.
To be fair and honest, it didn't really start today. It really started when the weather started to get bad last week. Only, I kept expecting it to get better. Today, I realized it wouldn't.
Essentially, my beautiful desert mountain biking world has been snatched from me, and replaced by a nasty, cold, rainy bog.
Call me when Utah gets back from visiting the Northwest.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Yesterday, as I was planning to leave work, it wasn't raining, but it looked like it would so I put on these dorky pants just in case. I was soaked by the time I got home, but it didn't rain at all. I can't believe how hot those suckers are.
This morning, just as I was getting ready to leave, a few snow flurries started trickling down fromt the sky. "No bother," I thought, "that little snow won't really get me wet, but I know those vinyl rain pants will." Unfortunately, by the time I was about half-way there, I was riding into an 18 mph head-wind with snow coming down so fast I had very little visibility. By the time I got to work, my face was numb and I had about 1/2" of snow packed on the front of my jeans. I'm soaked.
One of these days, I'll get it right. For now, I'll have to keep my legs under my desk until my jeans dry.... which isn't going very quickly. Stupid jeans.
Friday, March 25, 2005
"If I'm going to be on the road, behind the wheel that long," I reasoned with my wife, "I'm going to need a lot of music and audiobooks. Do you have any idea how much room all those CDs will take up in the car?" Thus began my light-hearted appeal for an iPod. It wouldn't be my first appeal--certainly, after so many, I had to laugh even as I presented the argument to my wife--but it ended up being my last.
I always told myself that I wouldn't get an iPod. "Surely their over-priced and just a bit trendy for me." Well, after shopping around a bit, here I am, listening to mp3s off my iPod. Initially, I was going to go for a new 6gb Mini, but my wife--yes, my frugal wife--that suggested $50 more for 14gb more capacity would be the better choice. Trendy I may be, but happy I am with my new 20gb iPod.
Surely, with my iPod packed with songs and books, the trip can't go wrong, can it?
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
1) Here's a shortcut for opening a new tab and entering a new url in said tab. Type the url in the current tab and hit Alt-Enter. That will take your url and open it in a new tab, leaving your current tab intact.
2) Alt-D puts the focus in the address bar so you can go to a new url or what-not. Hitting F6 works sometimes for this, also, and actually toggles between the main window and the address bar. This is nice if you want the focus on the web page itself for scrolling with the arrow keys.