New MTB, new home, new ride

This blog has obviously been benched for quite some time, but I’ve still been riding. Also some other things like buying and selling our first home, buying a new one, making babies, switching jobs then switching back. It’s been busy in the MikHousehold. My riding has been relegated primarily to commuting or shorter rides. It’s tough to go out for 4-6 hour rides around Denver leaving the wife with the little ones. So I bought a bike trailer, my son won’t sit still long enough for a 4 hour ride but he’s great on hour long ones. Which is what I recently did in my new home in Highlands Ranch.

I had no idea the amount of parks, trails, bike lanes, etc that existed in Highlands Ranch. This place is a perfect community for any kind of riding whether that be road cycling, mountain biking, or a casual family cruise. I’ve even been out on the bike to get groceries a few times, something I never did before.

Yesterday I took advantage of the great cycling conditions in Highlands Ranch and took my son in the bike trailer on some of the trails. There was no pre-planned route, I’ve just been going out exploring with my son in tow. We ended up climbing a trail in Bluffs Regional park and it was well worth it. The trails were all cement until just past Quebec where I hit some dirt that lasted all the way into Bluffs. Aside from the occasional jogger or strolling couple the trails were empty. Traffic was non existent except for crossing Quebec which had a light and crosswalks.

Dirt trails leading to and in Bluffs were very well maintained. Bluffs trails are beginner friendly, the most you have to contend with is loose gravel. Even the climbs aren’t extremely steep. They could easily be navigated on a hybrid bike or a road bike with cyclocross tires. You wouldn’t want to try it on slicks, too much slipping.

Here is the route I took.

And some pics …





True Cost of Commuting (thanks MMM)

I don’t consider myself a true advocate of commuting by bike because we simply don’t live in an ideal bike to work world. I also don’t advocate that we should drastically change the way our transportation and routes function to encourage bike commuting. That’s because I am also practical and pragmatic. However, I am an advocate of saving money and you can save gobs of money by limiting your commuting. Just check out the info below which from my own anecdotal evidence is accurate.

Here’s the original MMM article.

First Mountain Bike and new commute

Finally bought a mountain bike, a used Specialized Hardrock with disc brakes. I had been hunting for probably a year off an on debating whether to buy new or used. Then I got a new job with a commute that is not very road bike friendly. So the decision to buy a used mountain bike to commute on without the worry of expensive repairs became an easy choice. Below is the new much shorter commute as well.

It needed a bath and some adjustments. I also put on my clipless pedals, some lights, and a different saddle. It will need a tune up, new tires and stuff eventually, but otherwise it’s good to go and I rode it in this morning. A lot slower on the hills and I already found the extent of the gears on the flat parts so I won’t be setting any speed records, but I can also hop off curbs with easy and up them! Plus if I want to take short cuts on the dirt paths along the route I can.

I’m KOM again!

Everything came together and I got my KOM back on the little hill by my place. It’s short and not really that difficult but there’s a stupid stop light in the middle that was always red. Yesterday that light turned green! Yeah, it’s not much but it’s nice to have at least one KOM.

Quick review of Strava

I first heard of Strava way back in 2011 during the giro or ToC or maybe both. It looked pretty neat but I thought it was just for GPS devices like garmins. Little did I know that they also have an app that you can download for your GPS smartphone which includes Android and iPhone. Previously I had used MapMyRide which was ok, but drained the battery of both my iPhone and Android so I gave up on it. That is my first good thing to say about Strava. With the GPS running and the app recording just under an hour long ride, I only lost 17% of my battery. Oh, and I was also listening to music. Part of that might be a testament to my HTC Evo, even after 2 years the battery life is still pretty good for a powerful phone.

Strava incorporates some additional social features though that really set it apart. Like twitter and facebook you can add friends to follow. These can be local cycling buddies who have also signed up with Strava (or linked their facebook accounts) or you can follow pro’s! When following pros you even get to see their race times.

If you aren’t into the social scene but you’re competitive, you will love “segments”. Segments are basically race sections that can be part of your ride, or your ride that day. In fact, along my commute is a segment that I didn’t even know about. Now that I do, I’m going to bust ass next time to make a better time and rise in the ranks.My next ride will be one that I frequent, deer creek canyon up high grade road. Which is also a segment so I can actually compare my horrible time against the best Denver has to offer.

Still not convinced? How about a free app that also measures power, speed, distance, and elevation all in nice little graphs? Strava will detail your ride for you down to the mile and show where you mashed your pedals to increase watts, slowed down, sped up, max speed, etc. Knowing the ride you can say, oh yeah I went 38.3mph right there because it’s a descent and I stopped shortly after because there was an intersection.

And of course, Strava maps out your ride as well and if you give it your weight it will tell you how many calories you burned, approximately of course.

Here’s a great example of my commute into work from Ken Caryl to Downtown Denver. Check out the pretty graphs!

Power, Speed, Elevation








An example of a segment

OCR1 is back!

Giant OCR1

My Giant OCR1 just got back from the shop last night with two new wheels, a compact double crank, new chain, cables, and computer. I brought it in to have a deluxe tune up done (which my boss bought me over at GearHost!) and found out the rear wheel was cracking and the crank was cracked. The estimate was over $700 to fix everything right then and there at the LBS, which is $200 more than I paid for the entire bike. Since I have a new born to consider I decided to bring my commuter in and finally get that fixed which ended up being over $200 on it’s own. At least then I could ride back and forth to work which saves me money overall. And commute I did!

Cracked wheels and cranks don’t happen every day, except when you have the worst year of crashes ever. I’m pretty sure I crashed at least once a month and I don’t think that was an average. Anyway, I think the last really bad one was the final contributor. On top of that my commuter was out of action so I was riding my OCR1 back and forth to work. The OCR1 being my recreational “riding” bike and the OCR3 (commuter) dedicated to commuting. For those who own just one bike, the reason I have a dedicated commuter is because it’s a daily rider which takes a lot more punishment than my other bike.

By finding wheels and a crank on craigslist I was able to save more than $200. I also got the wheels I wanted and almost the crank. I got the right model but forget to check the crank arm length and got a 170 instead of a 175. I’ll find out today what that means. In the future I’ll also need to switch out the front derailleur from a triple to a double since I switched that crank.

Here’s the total cost for everything and good reason why you don’t commute on the same bike you “ride”.

  • Wheelset – Mavic Aksium Race $155
  • Crank – Shimano 105 Compact Double (50/34) $50
  • Chain – Ultegra $50
  • Cable – $5
  • Bottom Bracket – $30
  • Bar tape – $15
  • Tubes – $10
  • Deluxe Tune Up – $135
  • Additional Labor – $44

Total Cost: $494

If I got the parts from the LBS it would have been over $700. So for the same price I paid for the bike I was able to repair it. This is an expensive hobby.