Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to drill a carbon fiber seat for installation on a Bacchetta frame with a seat plate.

Drilling a new carbon fiber seat for a Bacchetta frame with a seat plate ( CA1, CA2, or Aero) is critical to having the seat, and therefore you, aligned with the wheels. I takes time and patience, so you only want to do it once. And if you do it wrong, you are cockeyed on the bike.

First read the article on how to attach your drilled seat to the bike. This will give you insight into what hardware you might want to use.
This job is challenging if you want to do it well, as there are not good consistent reference point on a carbon seat, just a lot of curves. It hard to approach it with a tape measure and just mark it for drilling,

My first method involved a seat plate frame (CAx or A) and a set of struts and hardware. This is probably what most home mechanics will want to do:

First, position the strut brackets an inch farther down the seat than a Bent Up Cycles recumbent bag (deepest bag I know of) reaches. This way your strut location never limits your bag choice. Mount the brackets as far outboard as possible still leaving about 2mm between the head of the strut pivot bolt and the seat rib. These 2 holes don't have to be perfectly aligned  longitudinally on the seat, as long as you have Velogenesis clamps. If you still use grenade pins, they do. While you are at it, get a aluminum upper seat stiffener from Larry Graham to prevent localized seat flex and create better triangulation in the back of the bike.
Attach strut brackets, struts,  and mount it all on the frame. If you bend your strut ends to lay fMake sure you adjust the VG clamps so the struts are equidistant from the rear tire. Make sure the seat if roughly at your preferred seat angle. Put masking tape on the frame on either side of the plate so you don't scuff anything with the drill. Drill out all the holes you intend to use, or just all of them to 6mm (1/4" is fine). Deburr holes.
Now drop the seat base on the frames seat plate. Carefully center the seat plate between the rims of the seat and pick holes in the plate where the seat is closest to parallel with the plate. Centering is easy with the new seat as they are too narrow to fit over the seat plate. Mark one hole and drill it. Bolt it down with your chosen hardware and rigid spacers to keep the seat ribs off the sides of the plate. Now recheck that your seat is not twisted and is level, and drill the second hole.
This can take a hour. What I did at Bent Up Cycles was to then make 2 tools, that attach extremely well to the upper seat and seat base, each with drill guides and multiple set of holes for different seat angles. Now it takes 1 minute to drill a seat perfectly. ;-)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012 Las Vegas Grand Fondo - Vegas style, Baby!

To say that I wasn't very excited about cycling around Las Vegas was an understatement.  No offense to the residents of Vegas, but I really just don't like it there (apparently this is rather common among people who only spend time on the Strip).  I had finally decided that I was NOT attending Interbike this year and was rather excited about that.  Then Scott steps in...

Scott picked up his decked out Carbent HPV Raven a couple weeks ago and invited me to join him on the Las Vegas Gran Fondo.  He assured me that it would be very scenic and fast.  I looked at my calendar and realized that it was exactly two weeks before the Furnace Creek 508 and would be a great final training ride for that.  So, I decided to sign up and also managed a quick trip to Interbike to see a few vendors.

Scott's wife, Emarie, had some connections and got me a room at the Boulder Station Hotel and Casino. It was quite refreshing staying off the strip.  Scott and I spent a few hours on Friday making some changes to his bike and getting some dinner.  It seemed like we were up only a few hours later, lining up at 5am for the start.  We didn't realize there would be 2500 cyclists, and found ourselves at the back of the pack. Although the start was at 5am, we didn't cross the start line until 5:52.  However, it meant that the sun would be coming up very soon and lights would be unnecessary.

We started by cruising up the Strip, which was closed off to vehicular traffic for our ride.  It was actually pretty cool having the whole road to ourselves with the bright lights and approaching dawn.  We made our way up the strip, across the Valley and started down Boulder Highway towards Boulder City.  This section was fast...I mean REALLY fast.  We easily passed 1000 cyclists in the first 25 miles of the ride as I went hoarse calling out "on your left", "on your left".

After we turned on the road to Lake Mead, the crowds started to thin out.  The sun had just come up and we were cruising through the foothills, working it (perhaps a little too hard) on the short climbs and then bombing past everyone on the way down the other side.  I slowed down for the first aid station (and who puts an aid station halfway down a hill, anyway?) but decided to keep going. As I hit the bottom, I got my first view of Lake Mead, and it was quite spectacular.  I rode across the roller coaster around the lake, until we got to the first serious climb at the far end of the lake heading up to the highway.

Cresting the climb brought me to the descent down to Hoover Dam (I lost Scott back at the lake when I needed a pit stop).  The descent down into the Dam was twisty and technical, just the way I like it!  I had to keep the speed down, though, as there were many cyclists on the road.

Hoover Dam was awesome!  I had no idea how big it was, and took a few minutes to snap some pictures.  At the far end was the second stop where I grabbed a banana, refilled the water bottles and met up with Scott.

Having two decked out Carbents together caused quite a stir.  We received many compliments on the bikes and one local mechanic assured Scott that he could bring the bike by his shop any time for service. (FWIW, this lasted the whole ride - people were repeatedly impressed by how good the bikes looked and how well we climbed on them).

We began the climb out of the Dam.  This was billed as the hardest climb on the route, but it really wasn't that bad.  With only 40 miles under our belts we were pretty fresh and I probably pushed it a little too hard.  Oh well...  After reaching the top, we began the longer, gentler ascent up the pass to Boulder City, followed by a nice ride on a bike path that takes you from Boulder City back into the Las Vegas Valley.  All the while, I was expecting the heat to pick up, but it never really did.  The temps throughout the day were in the mid 80's, up into the 90's in the Red Rock area.

We skipped the next stop and started across the south end of the Valley.  The rollers were never quite short enough to get momentum over, but the urban scenery was still pleasant, the drivers were conscientious and there were many cyclists to talk to.  We also picked up another recumbent rider, Rich, on his Ti Virginia that I built for him awhile ago. The miles across the Valley rolled by quickly, and we soon found ourselves heading out the West end of the Valley towards Red Rocks.

We were about 90 miles into the ride and I was starting to get a bit tired.  I realized quickly though that I was starting to get dehydrated as the temps rose, and downed the rest of my water knowing that an aid station was just up the road.  A flat tire took just a couple minutes to fix, and I was back on the road with Scott and Rich heading up the gentle climb into the canyon.  Rich was slowing down and Scott was speeding up...I kept an even pace right in the middle!

The station at Blue Diamond was the only time I took a significant break off the bike for about 15 minutes.  I downed another bottle of water and ate another orange and banana and was ready to go up the final climb.  The gentle climb continued on another four miles as the scenery because more and more spectacular.  They even marked the summit with a giant pink blow-up pole that you could see from a mile away.  Definitely Las Vegas style!

The last 25 miles were basically downhill.  The crosswinds in the canyon kept Scott awake as he learned how to handle his new Zipp 404 Firecrest wheels, and we passed group after group as we made our way to the finish.  Our final time was 7 hours 50 minutes, and I had a rolling average speed of 17mph on the nose.  The climbing was more than advertised at 5380 feet and the mileage was a little low at 119.8.

I would highly recommend this ride.  The scenery was fantastic, the course was (mostly) well-marked and the stations well-stocked.  The after-ride party was a bit disappointing.  Knowing that it was catered by Outback Steakhouse, I wasn't expecting any vegetarian options, and I was right.  Papa John's was there with pizza, but they were charging for it, as were most of the other vendors that participated.  The sound system was so loud that it was hard to carry on a conversation, but perhaps I'm just getting old :).  Time for a nap...

Sunday, August 05, 2012

More RAAM - A great night of racing.

RAAM can get a bit lonely.  When 25 teams hit the road, they get spread out relatively quickly, and often it doesnt even feel like you are racing anymore. In 2010, JV and I had our first real night of racing as we left Athens, Ohio.  This year, it happened as Steve and I as we left Keyser, West Virginia.

I had the first pull out of Walmart.  We knew there were a couple teams behind us - T402 was a 4 man team from Germany and T800 was an 8 person team.  We didn't know exactly how far behind they were, but it wasn't much.  I left the time station feeling pretty good - I ws going to take the first two climbs while  Steve was shuttled ahead for an exchange.  

Steve met me at the top of the second climb.  I felt a little cheated that I didn't get the descent, but oh well.  Ron and Kevin drove me over the third climb, then around a left turn to head up the 4th climb of the section.  We were going to drive about halfway up and meet Steve there.  We headed all the way to the top to check out the turn at the top, and then came back down.

As we got ready to set up for our exchange, we got a call from Steve's van. They had missed the turn at the base of the climb and were heading back to get back on course.  They requested that we drive further back down the climb to set up an earlier exchange as Steve was pretty fried from the bonus miles.

We saw Steve coming up the climb - T402 and T800 were climbing together with Steve about 50 yards behind them.  As I knew where the next turn was, my goal was to just stay with the other teams and then take the lead on the descent.  I exchanged with Steve, and kicked it up to threshold power, knowing that I could maintain it for 5-6 minutes to the top without frying myself.  I stayed right behind the other teams, not losing any time, and hit the throttle as we began the descent after the turn.  I quickly rocketed past them, but missed the light a mile down the road...aargh!

The light changed and the racers came by me...I throttled it again. It couldn't catch them.  A mile or so later, they had missed the light, so I caught them and then passed them as I made the right turn.  In retrospect, I should have stopped behind them and waited...they had outrun their support vehicle and were poised to go straight thru the intersection.  The only reason they knew to turn right was they watched me (I was on Gps and had my support vehicle right behind me).  Otherwise they would have gone off course and we could have taken back a nice lead.

I made the turn and they gave chase, cutting off my support vehicle.  Not wanting to get away from Ron and Kevin, I feathered the brakes while still pulling away from the competition, trying to leave enough room for my van to pull in behind me (I could see lights behind me, but didn't know which vehicle belonged to me).  They finally got behind me and I let the hammer drop to open up my lead.

We exchanged at the next control and Steve rode easily over the first, short climb.  This next section to Hanover, PA, had four longer climbs.  We broke them down into sections and started moving ahead to stage.

Note, while very competitive, everyone is quite friendly.  We would say "hi" to crew and racers as we all leapfrogged each other on the course.  As we approached the top of the first climb, T800 rode past us and eventually passed Steve.  Try as we might, on these steep climbs we just couldn't keep up. Steve bombed down the first descent but T402 caught us halfway up the second climb.

We continued climbing, hoping to keep their lead as short as possible.  I knew that after this stage, the terrain would become very recumbent friendly (except for a couple short climbs). We worked our way up and down the these were hard.  How could any solo racer get to these climbs 2800 miles into the race and still be motivated to continue?  

We arrived in Hanover about 20 minutes behind.  While we had lost some ground, I was confident we could make it up in the remaining miles to come.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Stories from RAAM - Food

I thought I would share some stories from our RAAM adventure that we finished a couple weeks ago. Rather than giving a blow-by-blow account of the race, I thought I would share snippets that I hope that you will find interesting. Let's start with everyone's favorite

I received a humorous email from one of our crew after the race in the form of a diary entry. It read:  

Monday, June 18th, 2012

We’re settling in to more of a rhythm. Riders are getting to be more predictable. Crew are getting to be more predictable. Menu requests are pretty typical. 

Q: What can I get for you after your ride? 
Alex: Turkey and cucumber in a wrap, please. 
Steve: Turkey and mustard on bread or a wrap, please. 
Chris: Whatever you’ve got. 
Dana: I’d like a salad. Maybe some mixed lettuce and romaine hearts. And add some baby spinach. Organic, of course. And throw in maybe a quarter of a cup of sprouted garbanzo beans. And some pine nuts and almonds. And sunflower seeds if you have any. Raw and unsalted for all the seeds and nuts, please. And some sliced cucumber and sweet peppers would be great. For the dressing, maybe a tablespoon of olive oil with maybe a quarter of a cup of vinegar. And add lots of dill and just a sprinkle of garlic powder. And maybe a touch of agave nectar to the vinegar, if you have it. 

Of course, to be fair and balanced, I should also present the other side. 

Q: What can I get you before your ride? 
Alex: 3 botles of Infinit Lite (2 scoops/bottle Brevet mix in Red & Black Camelback bottle, and 1 bottle of Infinit Brevet mix with protein (2 scoops + ice) in black Camelback bottle 
Steve: 3 bottles of Infinit (2 scoops/bottle) labeled “Base Mix” + ice in black/blue Camelback bottle. 1 bottle of Infinit Mix Light in Camelback bottles. Light ice. 
Chris: 1 bottle of Perpetuem 
Dana: Banana with peanut butter.

Food is one of those topics that ultra distance cyclists get pretty worked up about. We have frequent conversations (read: arguments) about what drink mix is the best, which tastes the best, what upsets the stomach, etc. Or, as my brother summed it up so nicely (he's an ultra-distance runner): "What's with you cyclists? All you talk about is food and your digestive runners...all we talk about is sex!"

About three months before RAAM, I drastically changed my diet to eliminate processed foods, minimize sugar, and increase consumption of vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts dramatically. The result was a pretty quick loss of 18 pounds, a loss of moodiness, and a tidier digestive process :) RAAM was going to be the testing ground for this kind of diet in a longer, more intense race.

My foods in the vans included fresh fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums, dates, apples and bananas; my trail mix blend with raw cashews and almonds, dried cranberries and chocolate chips for a little sweetness; some granola, and lots of water. The only processed food (besides the chocolate chips) were a couple Hammer Fizz tablets I used when it was 105 degrees in Kansas, and a couple times I stole the Sun Chips out of the crew lunches.

In the RV when I was off-shift, I ate lots of salad and a few bananas with peanut butter. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, on a particularly long shift, I even enjoyed a huge salad in a 1-gallon zip lock bag!  It was pure bliss! I sprouted some garbanzo beans, lentils and green peas before the race and left them in the RV refrigerator. We also hit up the Oceanside Farmers Market on Thursday morning for fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies. Also, I initially requested cheese omelets as a meal choice, but my crew one-upped my request by making me a three-egg, cheese and steamed brocoli scramble on a whole wheat tortilla every morning! By the end of the race, I think most of the crew had also caught on to this delicious and easy-to-prepare breakfast!

I also did some tortilla chips with hummus or salsa - Sabrina held out on me with the hummus until about day four...she knew it wouldn't last long! The organic, gluten-free Amy's burritos only lasted a couple days...

I remember running in to one of the racers from the Beefeaters team in the bathroom at Burger King in Athens, OH.  I welcomed him to the home of what so many people in American think of as their kitchen (add sarcasm here), and he responded that he couldn't imagine how their team could get through RAAM without all of the fast food places.  When I started describing our daily menu, his eyes glazed over and I swear he started's all about priorities, man!  And I want real food!

All-in-all, this meal plan worked GREAT for me! However, there are downsides to this kind of diet on RAAM. As my friend Sandy Earl points out: "What goes in must come out!"  When you are on a high volume, bulky diet, you tend to eat a lot and then produce a lot out the other end. Yep, if you didn't know where I was at any given moment, chances are I was in the bathroom... :)

It's also more work for the crew. I was lucky that my crew had no problems with my dietary needs and seemed to enjoy real cooking more than preparing dozens of turkey sandwiches (or, I may have just been imagining it...).

Finally, in an RV with limited water and holding tanks, we went through water more frequently and the dump tanks filled up faster from all of the dish washing. Rather than doing a tank dump twice during the trip, we were dumping about every 36 hours. There's a story behind that too, but I will save that for later...

Bent Up Cycles Referral Program

We have been talking about it for awhile and now it's a reality - the Bent Up Cycles referral program! It's simple...give us a call or send us an email requesting some of our personalized business cards. We will send you a stack of business cards with your name on it! Now whenever someone asks you where you got that cool bike or where they can get a recumbent, you can hand them a card with the Bent Up Cycles contact information and your name. By giving potential customers a card with your name on it (instead of mine), it will be easier for them to remember who referred them. When they come in to the shop, we can link the sale directly back to you via the business card and we will email you a store credit for 2% of their sale. We will keep track of all the paperwork - just remind us that you have a credit when you come in as our point-of-sale system doesn't volunteer the information! We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Azub T-tris Trike is here!

We first had a chance to see the Azub trikes back in October, prior to the Recumbent Cycle Con. Needless to say, we were very impressed with the Tri-Con we were shown. It rode like a dream with rear suspension and fantastic geometry, and it folded into a tiny package for transportation.

Enter the T-tris. With the same great geometry, minus the suspension and tiny folding option (although it still folds), it should provide a fantastic ride without the $4k+ pricetag. It has delivered. Check out the pictures below and configure your own T-tris trike on our website:

The timeless FSA Gosammer crankset provides great shifting and is lightweight.

We pair the SRAM X9 10s rear derailleur with the PG1070 11-32 cassette for great shifting in the rear.

Red anodized quick release levers through out provide a little bit of extra bling!

Shown here with the complete rack system that can accomodate two sets of small panniers.

Here you can see it with just the rear rack. You can also mount the lowrider rack separately.

The sliding seat clamp and sliding boom give infinite adjustment, and this trike should fit just about anyone. Notice the notched angle adjustment system? This provides precise adjustment that is also very sturdy.

The steering system is also adjustable with a notched system that ensures no slippage.

We shod this trike with Marathon Supreme tires, but the ZR comes stock with Marathon Racers that provide the same flat protection.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New hours!

Effective Tuesday, April 24th, we will be changing our hours. Our new hours will be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 2pm to 6pm, Saturday noon to 6pm. What? Shortening your hours as summer is approaching, you say? That's crazy!

Believe it or not, we don't think it is. Rather than being open 40 hours per week for general retail sales, we have decided to limit our time so that we can focus more time on you, our customers. So, while we will be open fewer hours, we will now be available on a scheduled-appointment basis whenever it is convenient for you! What does this mean for you?

When you have a scheduled appointment, you will come in and meet one-to-one with us. Nobody else will be there, the phones will not be answered, we won't be distracted by any other customers. It's just to two of us enjoying an adventure of exploration into the world of recumbent bicycles and tricycles!

Want to go for a ride beyond the loop around our neighborhood? No problem, let's grab a couple bikes and hit the road...we don't need to worry about any other customers, only you.

Don't want to drive all the way from Orange County? No problem...we can bring the selected bikes and trikes to you!

You see, we consider you, our customers, our most valuable asset. And when we have to keep answering the phone or helping multiple customers at once, we don't feel like we are giving you the service you deserve. So, we are trying a new model and hope you will like it.

Appointments can be scheduled at any time (based on availability), and are billed at $25 per hour. Note, however, that all of this fee (except transportation time) is completely applicable to your future bike/trike purchase. No need to worry about expiration dates...there are no time limits.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to give us a call or send an email. We look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A fantastic training ride

A busy training schedule often leaves me devoid of fun and memorable rides. It's easy to get caught up into the "schedule" at the expense of enjoyment. Last Monday, however, was different.

The first two nights of Passover had just ended. With four days off of work, I was feeling well-rested and eager to go for a long ride. Surprisingly, I was able to maintain my predominantly plant-based diet throughout the festivities of Passover. While everyone else enjoyed brisket and chicken, I ate huge salads, steamed vegetables and the like.

My normal Monday ride is a loop out to Topanga Canyon via Sepulveda. Sometimes I will ride up Old Topanga, sometimes (if I have a little extra time) I will head up Fernwood to Saddle Peak. Today, I decided to extend the ride a little further and head out to Malibu Canyon and up Piuma to Saddle Peak.

Over the past month, I have lost about ten pounds, and this was immediately apparent as I shot over Sepulveda without using the small chainring. It was windy up at the top, but I laughed as a guy in a convertible passed me on the way down the other side, screaming "41 mph!". I wanted to catch him and let him know that I am normally braking to keep it under 50!

The weather was perfect - mid 60's and little wind (except in the canyon). The ride up the coast seemed effortless, despite my power meter telling me I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I ate dates and trail mix (cashews, almonds, cranberries and chocolate chips) and started my way up Malibu Canyon.

Above, you can see the beautiful view of Malibu as you start up Malibu Canyon. I sped along, arriving at Piuma Road 15 minutes faster than expected.

Piuma is truly a classic Southern California climb. Starting at about 600 feet of elevation, you wind your way up a quiet road with beautiful vistas of the Santa Monica Mountains during the first half, and the Pacific Ocean and mountains during the second half. It is a pretty consistent climb of 5-8% for about 4.75 miles up to the first summit at 2200 feet with minimal traffic.

This is the view down to Malibu Canyon from about 1500 feet.

After the first summit, you get a one mile reprieve as you descent 250 feet down to Schueren Road. Unfortunately, this just means you have to climb that 250 feet and then some, as you ascend to Saddle Peak at 2350 feet. This last section can get hot as you move away from the ocean breezes and hit the inland temperatures.

There are four ways up to Saddle Peak: Piuma/Schueren, Las Flores/Schueren, Fernwood, and Stunt. Las Flores is crazy steep, with extended pitches in the 14-16% range. I usually go up Fernwood and descend back down Stunt (I have never actually climbed Stunt, the tamest of the climbs). Today, I topped out at Saddle Peak and immediately started down Stunt. There is a wonderful driveway about 1/2 mile down where the home-owner has set up a water fountain for cyclists. I took this opportunity to refill my bottles and enjoy an apple while admiring the view into the San Fernando Valley.

I then headed down the roller coaster, back over 7-minute hill (that takes me considerably longer than seven minutes!) towards Woodland Hills. Again I was amazed at how good I felt on this last climb. Usually, this is a tough one, but today it was amazingly easy.

My usual stop is the Corner Bakery at the Topanga Canyon Mall, and today was no different. A few birds joined me as I enjoyed a bowl of Tomato Basil soup and OJ.

I made quick work of the 15 miles back across the Valley to home. Definitely an enjoyable ride that I hope to do again soon. Anyway want to join me?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

ICE Vortex ++

We have been waiting very patiently for the new Vortex to arrive from Inspired Cycle Engineering. We were expecting a lower, more laid back, narrower version of the old Vortex. What we received was a beautifully sculptured work of art (that was also lower, narrower, and more laid back than its predecessor). Here are some pictures, with the usual caveat...the pictures just don't do it justice!

Some specs:
Vortex frameset with stock wheels
Air-Pro Carbon Fiber seat with pad
American Classic Aero420 Rear Wheel, spaced to 135mm
SRAM XX 11-32 cassette
SRAM XX Long Cage Rear Derailleur
SRAM TT900 Bar End Shifters
Shimano Ultegra 6703 Front Derailleur
FSA SLK Light Triple Crankset, 165mm
Avid XX World Cup Hydraulic Brakes
KMC X10SL Chain
Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tires