Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bicycling and the "Unracer"

After reading Grant Peterson's book, "Just Ride", he made me realize just how brainwashed bicycler's have become driven by the bicycle racing aspect of biking.  Carbon fiber bikes, football shaped helmets, tight clothing, clip in bike shoes, high seats with low handlebars, and tiny thin tires are all fine for racers but for the majority of bike riders it is unnecessary.  For those who want to get back to just enjoying bike riding in comfort, Mr. Peterson has coined the term "Unracer" and I would like to be in this category.  I now have a Bern helmet, which is not like the typical helmet which looks like a football on your head.  This helmet actually looks and feels like it will protect me.  I don't use spandex pants or shirts.  This is not for me.  I am selling my bike shoes and Shimano clip pedals as I think they are dangerous.  I am swapping those pedals out with wider flat pedals.  I don't have special fingerless padded bike gloves.  I try to ride every day and now with my new viewpoint, biking is now more fun than ever.  When I build my wood bike, I plan to put 700c x 28mm or 32mm tires on them and wont pump them up to maximum.  I will keep just enough to prevent bottoming out but provide a nice soft ride.  It is not about light weight, speed and fitness exhaustion at all costs.  I like being an Unracer even though it is kind of a small minority now.

Wood, Boats and Bicycles

I am realizing my love of building wooden boats should probably come to an end.  When I consider how much I really use them, they are not worth the time or space it takes to build them.  If I lived on a big lake, that would be different though, but I don't.  It takes about 1.5 hours for just a 30 minutes row when I take the boat to the Delaware river here.  Compared to riding my bike, I just hop on it, go, and have fun for the whole time.  This is right out of the garage.  No transport and no set up.  I use my bike everyday it is not raining too.  The boats I use a few times a year.  This is why I have decided to stop work on my Dave Gentry Boardyak and John Gardner Car Top Semi Dory (see photos below).  They are not finished but I just listed them on ebay.  I still love wooden boats, but have found I don't need to build or keep them anymore.  I can enjoy others who have built them and offer them for a quick tiial spin.

Since I bike commute, I came across Renovo bikes which are made out of wood. I was fascinated by them but dismissed the idea of ever building one as the owner and founder proclaimed that they only use CNC machines and special tested wood pieces to make them.  It seemed to me beyond my level.  Then I came across Jay Kinsinger's wooden bike where he made his bike with woodworking tools (no CNC) and I was hooked.  This is now my next challenge is to build a wooden road bike.  For more on Jay's bike, visit his website.  After corresponding with Jay, he graciously shared some thoughts and ideas on wooden bike building.  From Jay, I learned about the book, Just Ride by Grant Peterson who founded Rivendell bicycle company.  I loved this book and read in 2 days on Kindle.  This boat has changed my whole view on bicycles and bicycle riding in general, which will be the subject of an upcoming post.  Meanwhile, I have my wooden road bike frame now designed on paper.  Over the next few months I plan to build one.

Turbo Oars - Results

After testing out my Turbo oars with my Natoma skiff, I am very disappointed with them.  The blade design seems much too big.  To me it feels like I am rowing in molasses.  I did not like at all.  I did not notice any efficiency increase in rowing or speed increase. In fact, just the opposite.  To me, the best oars I have used are my John DeLapp oars.  I will be selling the turbo oars and I have thrown out my oar blade mold.  It was good experience learning how to mold a complex curve lamination and a carbon fiber layer though so it was not a failed project.