Speed of Light

How many lumens are needed to ride at 20 mph at midnight? How many donuts do you need when you’re craving donuts? Two questions that will get many varied answers. I can’t tell you the correct number for either question, but usually two Hot N Fresh Krispy Kreme glazed takes care of my craving, but that sugar doesn’t energize my brain enough to determine how many lumens are ever needed for riding. What is too much sugar, and what is too many lumens? I think we could find the “too much” point for sugar, but with bike lights, some people need to carry a small Sun with them when riding, but it’s probably not really necessary.

The other more important question is do I need to be seen or do I need to be able to see where I’m going?  Maybe I just need to find my way to Krispy Kreme to see if the HOT-N-FRESH sign is lit!  Sometimes you may know the terrain well, or there are sufficient street or path lights to see the terrain and most hazards, but you need other people to see you. I’ve been there, and used many small simple cheap lights for years. But one of the best I found was the Blackburn Fleas, white front and red rear. But there were some non-commuting rides when I needed to see the terrain. Years before I got fleas, I realized I needed the brightest light available to ride offroad at night, and I got one from Night Sun, 1991 or 92, dual beam. It may have been around $160.00, and was really bright! This light was not waterproof, not that I ever tested it, it was a simple aluminum dual halogen (maybe) bulb system with a heavy water bottle battery pack. Night trail riding!

My next expensive light was a twin bulb Night Rider, around ’93, and maybe $220.00. Brighter, water proof, but still with heavy water bottle battery. A few years later, I ran a NiteRider MiNewt, single LED, small battery pack, not bad, but not speeding on the trails. Around 2013, I got a NiteRider MiNewt 600 Cordless, and a 350. These are LED’s, just like the Blackburn Fleas, and they were extremely bright! The numbers were lumen claims, and probably accurate. As with all rechargeables, run time starts dropping eventually. It was time to upgrade.

After looking at new light prices, I thought I’d roll the dice on some of those cheap lights online. You may recall the Magicshine stories from the late 2000’s, battery issues had caused fires while recharging. I decided I’d just charge the light at the office, why burn my apartment down? Actually my office building is fairly flame retardant, and odorless and tasteless and colorless, and without me- it’s humorless. After cruising through the many pages of headlights, I chose the ThorFire (claimed 1000 lumens). It arrived in the usual “Chicago 7” time frame (long story, another time). Charged the battery, mounted it and realized I had spent my $30.00 wisely! Only problem has been the Velcro strap on the battery pack, the stitching failed, but I solved that easily. This light has a 5VDC connector, but came with a USB adapter cord, which allowed the use of a typical power pack instead of the smallish battery that came with the light, (4k mAh or 10k mAh, no decision!). Later, I mounted the light to my Kali mtb helmet, it has an accessory mount in top. The USB adapter cord easily reached a power pack in my jersey pocket. This light has a nice spread out beam pattern, great for trails.

Thought I’d order another cheap light, one for each bike. After a little more searching, I decided on the Te-Rich (claimed 1200 lumens). Huge advantage here was the USB plug, I could use a 10k unit! The package came with a USB to USB cord for recharging the battery pack. Cool feature is the illuminated USB logos on both ends of this wire, they start red and then go blue when the stock battery is fully charged. The light has a ¼ inch camera screw mount and a plastic bracket that straps around the handlebar. After mounting it a few times, the plastic tightening system was stripping threads. It didn’t fail, but was risky.

After a lengthy search of hundreds of camera mounts for motorcycle handlebars, I found a good solution, and it wasn’t plastic. I chose a Minoura Camera Mount, 28-35 mm, metal, more durable, but weighs a little more. For $18.23, my headlight will not move, unless I want it to. The Te-Rich beam is symmetrical, and it works great upside down hanging under the bar on the Minoura bracket, out of the way.

A little over two years later, the Te-Rich died. I don’t know how many hours or miles, but I used this light on my CX bike almost year round. I did a little troubleshooting, no luck. But, it was too cheap to actually try to fix, especially since I don’t have the tools necessary to do electronics work, and maybe not the brain power needed either. So, I ordered another one, and I was able to order only the light unit and not all the accessories; the replacement was only $19.00!

I bought a third, completely different light, the Suniness, (claimed 5000 lumens, $21.99), but I have not used it enough to comment. I wasn’t expecting 5000 lumens, it may be around 700.

In comparison to popular lights sold at bike shops, these are a fraction of the price, and the solid high quality feel is not quite there. Many say these’ll fail well before their competitors, such as NiteRider, but when a light costs $30.00, compared to $600.00, I can buy a few spares. Neither solution- warranty nor spare, will light the trail when the unit fails during a ride, and that is the risk of the lower quality cheap lights. I will say that before I moved, I never bought bike things online, only shopped at my favorite local bike shop, and there are advantages with the LBS, such as help when things break. Low price online is no match for the priceless relationship you can develop at a local shop!

So, how much light do you need? I’ve been in mtb races through the night, when I thought an aircraft was about to land on my rear wheel, while my yellow light was trying to painting the trail in the wrong color. And I’ve seen bikes with lights that barely lit the trail. What was necessary? How fast can you go using different lights? I’ll say that it varies with the skill of the rider, the darkness of the night, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the amount of sleep you’ve had. And the all-important factor- are you afraid of the dark? I sometimes have to stop and shine the light towards the sound, and sometimes I can ignore the rustling of leaves caused by those imaginary beasts, the ones that only eat people on the trails at night. For me, every night ride is just another scene from Blair Witch Project, and no amount of light can eliminate the creatures hiding in the bushes.

NOTE: When searching for these lights online, you’ll probably see the same light with many different names.

https://www.blackburndesign.com/flea-2-0-front-rear-usb-combo.html

https://www.amazon.com/Nestling-Rechargeable-Headlight-Waterproof-Flashlight/dp/B072Q26G9N/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=nestling+headlight&qid=1550189271&s=gateway&sr=8-3

https://www.amazon.com/d/Headlamps/SUNINESS-Rechargeable-Waterproof-Taillight-Flashlight/B07CM45MXY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1550189355&sr=8-2&keywords=suniness+headlights

http://www.minoura.jp/english/accessory-e/vc100-e.html

 

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I Squandered My Vision

I was on a longer mtb ride about 15 years ago, and my chain broke. No big deal, I always had a multitool and some spare chain links. After the group got stopped and were rejoining, I was trying to see the parts of the chain and realized I couldn’t focus well enough to fix it. Had to ask that embarrassing question: “I can’t see, can you help me?” Of course I got a volunteer, and we eventually got going again. The rest of the ride, I wondering why me, only during the non-exciting pedally sections . What’d I do to my vision?

I think I spent too much time looking at the wrong things, new bikes, shiny parts, reading articles about exiting trails, but in reality, I may have not squandered my vision, just happens with age. And it doesn’t seem to come back with reduced use! I realized I would have to take some type of reading glasses so I could take care of small close issues that arise. I could see perfectly beyond about 4 feet, or so I thought, the first prescription proved I was wrong. I’ve been wearing bifocals for about 15 years now. Maybe some things way out there are getting a little fuzzy.

I went to WalGreens and got some of those really narrow readers that come with a small case, put them in the CamelBack. I knew there had to be a better, simpler solution. Eventually, the GPS started getting fuzzy, and using this to follow unknown course began to be a navigation issue. I was getting so near to needing a solution that I didn’t have to stop and pull out of the bag.

I mentioned this problem on the local bike email list and got a suggestion for stick on reader strips from a fishing store. These were great, from Hydrotac, https://www.hydrotaclenses.com/. Added these to the bottom of my riding glasses and all was good! Until they fall off when the adhesive fails, around a month or two. I used these until I discovered the next solution.

rudy.jpg
Rudy Project, with the slightly visible reader lens edge. These are polarized also.

Walking around the Interbike Outdoor Demo Day, in 2012, we stopped to check out the Rudy Project booth, really liked one of their helmets that I had been wearing, https://www.rudyprojectna.com/. And what did my fuzzy eyes find? Rudy Project glasses with reading lenses! I got a pair, around $60.00, and enjoyed a few years of trouble-free vision needs while riding.

 

As I continued to squander my vision, I needed a stronger lens. In comes Tifosi, https://www.tifosioptics.com/product/veloce-clear-cycling-glasses/. I got a pair of Veloce Readers, with a stronger magnification than the Rudy’s, plenty strong! Great glasses and not quite as dark as the Rudy Project lenses, so I could ride into the evening a little further.

tifosi-dark.jpg
Tifosi Veloce, with the slightly visible reader lens edge.

After a couple years with these, I realized I needed clear lenses, since I was riding during dark more and more. Tifosi once again had the solution- transition lenses! Plenty dark on a sunny day and almost clear at night, and the reading strip was plenty strong, still is. I’ve abused the clear pair for over two years with no issues. Many miles of biking and running. I clean the lenses with soapy water usually, the surface is holding up well. Looking at these from the front, when they are clear, you can see the reader strip, but otherwise they’re just great looking sport glasses.

TIfosi clear
Tifosi Veloce Light Night Fototec Readers

Can I really see distant things that great? No, but I’ve tried to ride with my prescription glasses, and depth of field is too jacked to feel comfortable. I prefer my unadjusted distant vision, but with the reading capability of the Tifosi glasses, I’ve been able to see my way through everything.

https://www.hydrotaclenses.com/

https://www.rudyprojectna.com/

https://www.tifosioptics.com/product/veloce-clear-cycling-glasses/

The Ever Abused Pedal

The first time I rode a bike without the usual toe straps was quite an experience, 1991. Early SPD’s (Shimano pedals), with the tension not adjusted to a good place. Tension adjustment on a pedal reminded me of ski bindings, had a bad experience with those once, didn’t let go when it should have, lead to a leg cast for a few weeks, got better eventually.

That day with new pedals taught me two things- know how to fall, and to look closer at new stuff for hidden secrets. I hobbled into a local hardware store the next day and found an Allen wrench small enough to drastically reduce the tension on the pedals. Everything was great now, I could get out of these easier than toe straps! No more embarrassing falls after stopping. Wet roots and rocks was such a good place to learn how to fall over!

Stumpy
The Eggbeater! These have been on my Specialized Black and Tan for almost 3 years!

A friend offered me a pair of Crank Bros Eggbeaters, in 2003, https://www.crankbrothers.com/collections/pedals. I like new stuff, especially free new stuff, so I said YES! Why was he giving them away? I was suspicious. He said he kept falling over, couldn’t get released. He said they weren’t adjustable like SPD’s, but had a lot of movement around the cleat. Sounded great to me, I never liked the precise positioning of the SPD and had no desire for increasing any tension mechanisms.

After a quick study of the cleat, odd shape, and pedals, I mounted everything, and went for a ride. I could not believe my friend didn’t like these and that he couldn’t get out of them easily, and it was much easier getting in and out of them, with four entry points. No hidden internal gunk collecting parts, just simple bars and springs, all external. Too simple to be true!

Giant
After a year and a half on the Giant TRANSMIT, walked quite a bit on this cleat set!

After 16 years riding Eggbeaters, I’ve had no complaints. The only pedal I’ve considered switching to is a fat set of carnivorous flats, but that’ll require some commitment to a learning curve. I’ve had a few different models of the Eggbeater, but never the titanium version. The Ti model was always out of my price range, I was always at the $100 level on pedals. And all these cheaper versions have been great.

Pedal Pile
Only a few of these are “unusable”, (using my definition)

You probably would not call me a normal “roadie”, never chased points and upgrades, but I really enjoy long endurance rides. I had a set of road pedals at one time, and after trying to walk in them I decided it was an unnecessary punishment. I’ve been running eggbeaters on everything for many years, and the comfort of the MTB (mountain bike) shoe while off the bike, and not sliding down on a chunk of plastic mounted to a shoe is a huge plus!

CX
Six months on the Road/CX bike

Why have I bought new Eggbeaters? Four parts will wear over time- spindle bearings, springs, the bars, and the cleats. What’s the worst failure point? A Candy pedal body left the spindle on a ride once, the securing nut had worked loose and it slid right off. Fortunately, the dust cap was on and all the parts were there. I reassembled, and this worked a while, but eventually it came loose again and I lost parts that time.

I won these Candies in a race, but didn’t want another set, just a plain Eggbeater, so I put the Candies in the back of the bike space, lost forever, and got a new set of Eggbeaters. The bearings will get a little clunky after a couple years, but I always just get a new pair instead of replacing the worn parts. And that leads me to my replacement process.

I’ve worked this out for years and it fits my requirements. No scientific testing here, nor precise evidence, but I have a process. When I get a new set, I put those on the bike, but not the new cleats. Why? Remember, I don’t like a tight fit, and this combo of new pedal and old cleat provides the feel I like. After about six months I’ll replace the cleats. By then the old cleats are almost unrecognizable, I walk a bit on mine (single-speed MTB requires occasional walks). With this replacement process, I can stretch my “new pedal experience” out for almost a year.

Even though the cleats sometimes are unrecognizable, they still work! As it wears down, it will fit loose, and sometimes a little clicking sound occurs during crank rotation. I’ve seen a broken bar on one (I didn’t do it). I’ve seen the remains of the broken titanium spindles, and resulting leg injuries. I may have considered the Eggbeater 11 Ti version, especially while on a team with a great price connection, but I shied away due to the broken ones I had seen. The weight difference between the 11 and the 3 is only about 2 Snickers Bars, so I could just leave two of those at home before heading out on a ride!

My collection has varied between the 1, 2, and 3. I have a set of 1’s on my CX/road bike now, because the store I was buying supplies at only had the 1’s. The 3’s always feel better (completely subjective assessment based on the price and perceived quality after paying a little more). If I had kept records over these 16 years, I might be able to say the 3’s last longer. However, the only accurate claim I can make is that these have always been worth the price, providing an interface with the bike that requires minimal thought.

https://marschocolate.com/snickers/snickers-original-single

https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/technologies/component/details/spd.html

 

Tubeless Stress

Tubeless Stress- At least that’s what I call the mental condition I get stuck in every time I setup a new tire. This began years ago, with my first tire conversion, 2004 maybe. These were not any version of “tubeless ready” and the rims had no hints at any special design features to allow this change. I didn’t trust it to stay inflated, constantly giving the tires a squeeze. One of those first tires popped a bead, on a landing, and no matter how hard I tried, it would not seal again.

With every tire replacement, or other set of wheels, I’d get stressed out going through the initial setup. Will it seal? Will it hold pressure? Will the bead roll in a fast turn? Stress! I still get it, even though tires and wheels have changed a bit since. Success is definitely more common now. But, sometimes, it just doesn’t work. Of all the fails over the years, the sealant has never been an issue, until now.

Years ago, Pedro’s quit selling their dry lube. I found a great replacement in Finish Line’s dry lube. Well, Finish Line created a tire sealant, and being a dedicated fan, I had to try it. On a visit home in mid 2018, I stocked up on some bits and pieces, including two bottles of FL sealant, http://www.finishlineusa.com/products/tubeless-tire-sealant, and two new Hutch Sector 28’s. I had planned not to mount these for another month or so, but was really anxious to use what would become my new favorite sealant! I decided to mount these new tires on my secondary road tubeless wheelset.

Finish Line Sealant
Finish Line Tubeless Tire Sealant

Since I was impatient, as always with new things, my old tires became the guinea pig. These tires were a year old, Hutch Sector 28’s, that were having difficulty holding air. I had added four patches to one and added more Stan’s sealant. They’d hold air for a while, and then noticeable loss over bight. This was getting old, and I had the solution!

I read the label on the new sealant. Nothing odd in the instructions. I drained the old sealant and added the new. I was relaxing already, knowing these tires would be cured. Well, that high didn’t last through the first day, had to add about 50 psi in the morning, to get to my normal of 80. Lost air while sitting in the office, had to pump before riding home. After a few days, they were doing better, and then got worse again. Hmm, this new sealant just didn’t cure my tire illness.

Now it was time to just get the new tires and start from scratch. The bead setup great, usual pops. Great! Next day, a little air was lost. No “milk beads” anywhere, except a little around the bead, but no clue it was fresh. I pumped. Rode. Next day, same thing. No air loss for about a week. Then back to loss, randomly. A month later, I put them on my main road wheelset, Easton EA90s. These have no spoke holes, eliminating tape issues. Guaranteed setup, usually.

Leaks. Sealed for a few days. Leaks. Good for a few days. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lose pressure during a ride, always good for confidence, started cutting rides short. New tires, new sealant, added more sealant, foolproof rims. I give up.

Before I moved, I was mixing sealant, varying the recipe constantly, but they all worked. I started with the world famous “Wadester” recipe, from down the road in Las Cruces. I only changed the mixtures because I was finding a new version every time I searched on line. Haven’t tried to find the needed ingredients here, in South Korea, I just order a new bottle of Old Reliable occasionally.

Stan's
Stan’s Tire Sealant (Old Reliable)

I removed the Sectors, inspected and scrubbed them and the rims, mounted with a dose of Old Reliable. I was thinking the tires may have an issue, fingers crossed! But all is well, tires sealed, works as expected. Only have to add air as normal, (at least what I’ve learned is normal). So, my two bottles of FL sealant is now only one third of one bottle, and will remain that way, sitting on a shelf, lonely, forgotten. I used almost a full bottle in the first set of tires, and over half a bottle in the new set, and it just didn’t work as expected. I don’t know why the tires were drying out either, as the FL sealant was supposed to last longer. (“Never Dries Out”)

I’ve thought Stan’s had changed the formula over the years, maybe, maybe not. But I do know that calling it Old Reliable is a safe title. Maybe I did something wrong in my experience with the FL sealant, but I have added, mixed, combined, more sealant products and my recipes than I can remember, and never had this issue. If the Finish Line product changes, I may try it again, but for now, I have a Finish Line paperweight on far end of the bench.

http://www.finishlineusa.com/

https://www.notubes.com/

https://www.eastoncycling.com/products/details/ea90-sl-disc-wheels

 

Making a Singlespeed

It may be no secret that I’ve been riding singlespeed since around 2009. Yes, I did ride a few geared bikes in that time- spent a week on many speed Specialized road bike, a couple years on a Norco downhill bike, and a random ride here or there on other bikes. But most of miles have been on one gear, either freewheeling or fixed, for a few years now. When it came time for a new cyclocross bike, I had the opportunity to get a geared bike and convert it, which is often a better loaded bike than the three “off the shelf” singlespeeds I had bought before.

I was “connected” to a Cannondale dealer, which resulted in an amazing deal on a 2015 CAADX Rival Disc, couldn’t pass this up, even if it meant I would have to solve the SS problem. After much research, I found the best solution- Wheels Manufacturing, makes BB30 Eccentric Bottom Brackets!  https://wheelsmfg.com/bottom-brackets/ebb/eccentric-bb-for-bb30-24mm-shimano-cranks-black.html

withbox
A little worn, but still works great!
endview
Not new, but you can see how it works, a little.

The bike did not get ridden until it was converted, but it did have one small issue. BB30, (if it still exists), must have a stop for the bearings to rest against. On this bike, it only had C-clips, got lucky. Some bikes had machined ridges of BB material, but not mine. So what was the issue? For some unknown, to me, reason, Cannondale didn’t machine completely, the inside of the BB shell. This resulted in a ridge of aluminum, vertically, in the center and on the back 1/3 of the shell. The issue?

bbshell2
The grinding scars are visible in both images.

The EBB assembly has two bolts reaching through the BB space, connecting both sides, and providing the position security when tightened. The bolts would move past the excess material in the BB space stopped full rotation and reducing the chain tension adjustability needed. I ground it down smooth with a grinder bit on a drill. With this free movement, the system allows a 2 rear tooth increase or decrease, without breaking the chain.

bbshell1

This EBB was well worth the retail price, $135.00, as I now have 18,070.6 miles on it, (as of 31 January 2019). No problems at all. I remove, clean, replace, every couple of months, but no issues. I had a thought that I wasn’t using the correct tools for removal and replacement, it’s a very tight fit, but can rotate easily with a spanner. I contacted Wheels Manufacturing, and although I really wanted some shiny new tools, they said I didn’t need anything special. Dagnabbit! (Even though I’m not old enough to use that word). Shiny tools are a drug!

angleviewwithgrease
After a good cleaning, I add some grease to all the contact areas.

With the Enduro bearings, and with proper installation, this thing may last the life of the bike; I’m in no hurry to solve this again with another conversion product, but the challenge is always good. There’s always some kind of issue with everything, so, I’ll admit, it rotated on two rides last year. Not a big deal, if you don’t mind a sagging chain, but those tend to bounce off the ring easily. This may have happened due to not tightening after adjustment, not sure of any other way this thing could move. I had to get creative and find a way to rotate this thing without a spanner. I solved it both times, but decided I should carry some type of “correct” tool for the job.

topview

I found the Pedro’s Trixie, and it looked like the best option. You’re right, haven’t had an issue since I’ve been hauling this weightless tool on all my rides. Other issues? I thought the EBB was creaking, a few times. I did the cleaning thing, didn’t go away. I later discovered my freewheel body was eating itself from the inside out. Could be a SS torque issue.

typicalspanner
Typical spanner wrench.
trixie
Pedro’s Trixie wrench!

WM makes a few versions of this EBB, should solve most any need. Make sure you get the right one! And enjoy a simple conversion, and no chain tensioners.

 

https://www.cannondale.com/en/USA

https://wheelsmfg.com/bottom-brackets/ebb/eccentric-bb-for-bb30-24mm-shimano-cranks-black.html

https://pedros.com/products/toolsfor-the-ride/trixie-black/

 

SPOT GEN3 “Find Me!”

Ever had THE situation? You decided to get out of the house, for a trail run, or a bike ride, and after you reached the farthest point from civilization, the train left tracks. Or, your bike broke, or worse, you are injured and absolutely cannot proceed. Maybe you were cruising a fast descent and left the road into a ditch, out of site of others.

And there you are, recalling how you promised you knew what you were doing and would be home soon. Can’t get up, stuck. This never happens to any of us, or so we believe until it does. What do I do now?

I use Garmin Livetrack, sometimes, but not today, the phone signal was weak, I knew it would drop off. How long will it take for me to be found?

spot

And that is why I a SPOT GEN3 around August of 2017, https://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=100. Friends had been posting their “follow me” links for long events, and I could see the results. Knowing this device has the SOS button, it seemed like a good solution to a problem we never want to have, such as the scenario above.

After a year and a half of use, I have never pressed the HELP or the SOS buttons. I use the “I’M OK” button randomly, on long events only. SPOT says the SOS button will get me rescued anywhere in the world. I trust that claim.

TRACKING, CHECK IN, CUSTOM MESSAGE, HELP, AND SOS buttons are easily accessible, with the protective (or preventative) covers on the HELP and SOS buttons. These silicone covers have been a mild issue, one of them began opening itself, and didn’t feel secure when closed again. With the risk of an accidental SOS signal, I thought it best to cover both a little strip of Gorilla Tape, (many tubeless bike tire “experts” have a roll).

spot and larabar
Not too big!

The SPOT site offers discounts occasionally, I got mine for $150.00. While many people may balk at the service cost, $199.99 for a year, the peace of mind it provides is worth the price. I won’t go into detail on operation, there’s plenty of info easily available. Mine goes from bike to bike to running hydration vest constantly. My running vest is the Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 4.0, https://ultimatedirection.com/adventure-vest-4-0/. That vest was purchased specifically for the variety of “sky facing” pockets, which can be an issue. SPOT says completely unblocked horizontal alignment with the sky is required, but many users have discovered variations that work fine.

spot and larabar 2
Not much thicker than a LARABAR

There are other similar devices, SPOT has a new model with much more capability, and GARMIN has entered the market. You just have to decide which features are needed. I’d buy this one again!

https://www.larabar.com/ YUM YUM!

https://www.gorillatough.com/gorilla-tape/

https://www.garmin.com/en-US/blog/fitness/use-garmin-livetrack-track-activities-real-time/

 

The Indestructable Sock

Somewhere around 2008, I had the opportunity to buy some Big Wheel Racing team socks, from Sock Guy, http://www.sockguy.com/. Thinking they wouldn’t last long, I ordered five pair. I didn’t expect what wouldn’t happen!

20190123_071131

These are 10 years old, AND THEY WILL NOT DIE! Each pair has been abused, meaning long mtb dirt filled shoe events, long road rides, and trail runs. I wear these off the bike, in dress pants to the office, anywhere with anything.

All 10 socks are still in good shape, no holes, maybe they’ve thinned a little, but not much. I’ll gladly get more socks from Sock Guy!