Friday, June 28, 2013

On Bikes:Some Things Happening This Weekend

I was late to pick up on this but....

Unlikely to be violent or naked (thanks for that!), but Critical Mass rolls in Little Rock tonight.

Riverside Classic Mountain Bike Race and Duathlon- Burns Park BMX Track-Saturday-Sunday, June 29-30

Friday 6/28
5:00-7:00pmPacket pick up and late registration at Burns Park BMX Track Area
Saturday 6/29Riverside Classic Mt Bike Race Day - BMX Trach Area
6:30amRegistration and packet pick up for MTB race only
8:00amCAT 1 & 2 start Start Times and Roll call list
10:15amCAT 3 and Jr's Start Start Times and Roll call list
11:30amCAT 1 & 2 Awards
12:00pmCAT 3 and Jr Awards
4:00 - 6:00pmPacket pick up and late registration at Burns Park Soccer Complex Field 9/10 for Duathlon
Sunday 6/30Riverside Du Race Day
Burns Park Soccer Complex
5 - 6:30amPacket pick up and late registration at Burns Park Soccer Complex, Field 9/10.
(this is the Race site) We will be offering very limited race day registration.
Please plan to register prior to race day.
7:00amDuathlon Race Start
8:00amPost event food, music and mixing it up with your friends
10:00amEvent Awards

Course Information

 Come by and visit, help, or pick up a prize!
The Tour de France Starts!!!
It's still not too late to pick a team and join the JBar Cycling Minileague at Velogames!! At last count, we had 8 teams signed up. I've got to say that I had a heck of a time putting together a team within the budget. I had a very good run last year, but I was able to pick up big points with riders like Peter Sagan. Sagan was a bargain last year as an "all rounder" at a cost of 14 of the 100 available points. This year, he's a top sprinter, equal in value to my man Cavendish. Tejay van Garderen was mere 6 points, but is valued at 14 points this year. Sagan and Tejay are too pricey for me this year, so I've had to pick a few other dark horse to round out my team. Come get some!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thor Hushovd Is Quite the Cat!

This commercial featuring Norwegian Thor Hushovd was poached from Brendan Quirk's "What's New" on the Competitive Cyclist website. I had to share!

Found: Reynolds Wheel Left At BDB--OWNER FOUND

Reunion Imminent!
Thanks, folks.

I found a Reynolds wheel at the BDB Wednesday evening, apparently left by a rider loading up, as there was nobody around and it was up in the grass. Please help spread the word among your riding circles so we can reunite this wheel with a bike!
email or call 680-4127 to identify and claim.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Arkansas River Trail Safety Celebration-Saturday, June 29

Riders, walkers, runners, and a host of other users love the Arkansas River Trail for its convenience, beauty, safety, and diversity of resources, but one topic that comes up with great frequency is that of user conflict on the trail. As someone who was on some portion of the trail on over 200 days last year, I feel that I can safely say that true "conflict" by my definition is rare.
Most complaints come from ocasional users who feel threatened or simply taken aback by cyclists passing by. These same folks often walk on the left side of the trail, turn their small children loose on the bridges, gather to visit in the middle of the trail, or walk Fifi on a 20' extendable leash. They're not bad or irresponsible; they simply are unaware of the trail etiquette shared by the thousands of regular trail users.
There will always be a few bad actors who ride inappropriately for conditions or who walk away from that steaming pile of poop that Rover just dropped o the BDB, but those folks are relatively few.

In an effort to help inform the well-meaning masses, the City of North Little Rock is teaming with the Arkansas River Trail Task Force for the Arkansas River Trail Safety Celebration on Saturday, june 29, from 10:00AM until Noon.

Here's the press release from Bernadette Rhodes, NLR Fit2Live coordinator:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Velogames Fantasy Tour de France

OK, friends, it is Tour time and once again I'm throwing down the gauntlet!

Velogames Fantasy Tour de France gives you a chance to pick your best GC rider, along with climbers, sprinters, and all-'rounders, to form your fantasy Tour de France team. It's fun, and adds another dimension to following the Tour.

I have formed a Mini-League as "JBarCycling2013 MiniLeague", code 24223600.
You may join up to 5 minileagues. The cost to you is that perfect number "0" and I'll offer a 6-pack of the IPA of my choice to the top score in the JBarCycling MiniLeague.

Yes, I said "my choice" because I plan to win!

Follow the link to Velogames, select your team, then check the scoring updates after each stage.
You have a team budget, and there are tough choices to be made. Is Froom going as well as it appears? Can Sagan once again squeeze out the imtermediate stage wins? Who's your climber? Cavendish is always my man for the sprints, but he comes at a high price!

Select your team and you can make changes up until departe.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Absence: Packed Up The Pick-Up and Headed West

My apologies for the lack of activity here at JBar Cycling, but we have been on vacation at our favorite destination, Salida, Colorado. As is my old-school way, I hesitate to publish the plans for being away from home, even though we have a cluster of early-retired active neighbors and vicious Pomeranians maintaining a security perimeter around the bunker. I realized the futility of my semi-secrecy years ago when I noticed that I had been tagged in photos, tracked by location, and had virtually our every move noted by some aspect of Facebook. Oh, well, at least it is still within our power to stop the mail for a week and then subject my readers to yet another edition of "What We Did On Our Summer Vacation".

Road Trip- A week of play in Colorado requires a substantial toy inventory:
 3 kayaks, 2 road bikes, 2 mountain bikes, 2 spotted dogs, and all related equipment. Packing has become a fine art.

If you've been visiting this space for a while, you know that we consider Salida to be a special place. I started making annual boating trips to the area many years ago and just have never really had much of a reason to vacation elsewhere. Fortunately, Diane feels the same way; we honeymooned there and celebrated our twelfth anniversary last Sunday with a delicious dinner at the elegant Laughing Lady.

Salida Crossroads: Small World
Moonlight Pizza in Salida is a great place to sit outside, sip a microbrew IPA, have a bite to eat and watch the world go by. I was somewhat surprised to glance up as a guy walked in wearing a BDB100 T-shirt. It took me just a moment to recollect that I was wearing an identical tee. Then, I heard the waitress as she told the wearer, "I told you there was a guy in here with that same T-shirt."

Bill Parker and Will Williamson are Little Rock riders and JBarCycling readers. Obviously, they have refined tastes and are great Americans.
Adding to the coincidence, Ride The Rockies was passing though Salida that day and a guy from Austin sat down to share the table with Bill and Will. I mentioned that my friend Jim Barton was doing the ride on a single-speed. He said, "Yeah, I met him this morning. He sat beside me in a shuttle."

 Paddling, Pedaling,  and Parades
I first found my way to this part of Colorado in search of good whitewater, specifically, The Numbers section of the Arkansas River near Buena Vista. The Numbers remains my favorite stretch of water anywhere with 5-6 miles of constant,  high velocity, moderately technical rapids simply named Numbers 1 through 6. The intensity is dependent upon the water volume, but the Numbers defines fun in a kayak for me at amost any level. Low water is creeky and technical, while high water is a crashing, thumping, roaring good time! I caught it this year at what may have been the peak flow of the season with my friend David Wallace. I met David on the Numbers in the early 80's and followed up with a couple of trips to northern California, his home at the time and a big water paddler's playground. It would have been optimistic at the time to have predicted that we would still be having so damn much fun playing in boats! Here's a link to a short video of David and I paddling Numbers 4 and 5, complete with Diane's running commentary.

Road riding around Salida is pretty popular and touring cyclists pass through in droves during the summer. That said, we have more choices for road rides here in Arkansas. Most of the road rides in this part of Colorado either follow river grades or head up a pass, and most local rides are out-and-back. The scenery is great and the drivers are friendly, but you don't have the near-infinite number of loops and interconnected routes that we have here in Central Arkansas, the winters are longer, and the wind does blow. Those may be some of the reasons that mountain biking is extremely popular in this bike-centered community. That, and the fact that the mountain biking is convenient and so very good!

The Little Rainbow Trail is a very popular local single-track ride. We took the "easy" road route up, which wasn't particularly steep, but involved a few miles of steady climbing.
The reward was miles of sweet mostly downhill single-track. Yes, readers, I do actually ride a mountain bike!
Taking a break at a road crossing. David and Dylan Wallace, host Mike Smith, Randi Durham, Diane, and Stephen Durham. Randi and Stephen are transplanted Arkies now living in Pagosa Springs, CO.
Shriners and Roller Derby queens were forming up for the FibArk parade  as we rode out of town for the Little Rainbow trail.

Bike parking at a bar in Salida, where it seems that almost every resident of any age owns some sort of a cruiser or town bike for local transportation.
Our friend Connie Smith posing with her townie after a Chamber of Commerce "Business After Hours" event.
Salida doesn't have many parking lots, but the many bike racks get a lot of use. It's a casual town, but love seeing women cruising in skirts and heels to work or social events on an Electra or classic Schwinn.

I'll follow up with another entry and some photos from the FibArk Festival which was taking place during our visit. For now, it's my birthday, I just got off the bike, and I need to go celebrate my special day by bush hogging the pasture.

Go ride your bike.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sunday!! Riverside Subaru Star Spangled Criterium

I've been remiss in not helping spread the word about this event. It is good racing in a venue that is very spectator friendly! The crits have seen a lot of very competitive team riding this year, so you will see some heated battles for spots on the podium.

Be there!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

BACA Forms Facebook Page to "Close the Loop"; Gene Pfeifer Rattling The Bars

I've been on vacation and have a backlog of news and half-written articles, but I've been trumped by the mainstream press and must post this quickie!

BACA Facebook Page: Close the Loop on the Arkansas River Trail

At the most recent BACA board meeting, it was decided that BACA would focus its efforts on getting the Arkansas River Trail completed near the Dillard's HQ on Cantrell Road. Part of the initiative was to create a Facebook page to help create some political pressure as came about following NLR's ill-fated plan to sell the Big Rock Quarry.
The Facebook page has gathered over 700 'likes". Get on over and "like" it, yourself!

Gene Pfeifer Calls On Dillard's To Embrace River Trail Plan
From the Arkansas Times:

Gene Pfeifer, the bike enthusiast and developer who donated land he owned on the north side of the Arkansas River to the Arkansas River Trail, has asked the Dillard family follow suit for the good of the community.
Dillard's headquarters backs up the Arkansas River on the south side. The company has so far turned down requests by the city of Little Rock for access to build a trail on the property that would connect the downtown portion of the trial with Riverfront Drive. (Because of development and private property, the Little Rock portion of the River Trail is not the smooth, unimpeded path that it is on the north side.)
The city has drawn up plans to build a bridge-like trail on the bluff below the Dillard's property, but it would be a hugely expensive undertaking — as much as $12 million — requiring a build-as-you go engineering strategy rather than ground-up construction.
Pfeifer's letter to Bill Dillard II opens:

Please allow the Arkansas River Trail to be completed along your headquarters property and contribute to economic development, enhanced tourism and the quality of life in your home town. Linda and I were privileged to be able to donate 1 ¼ miles for the trail in North Little Rock and not a day goes by that we aren’t richly rewarded thereby. The trail provides recreation, fitness, quality of life, and helps fight obesity. Being on the trail occasionally and seeing how it provides our community with a sense of “place” is joyous for us. Please donate the easement and reap this marvelous reward.

In case his appeal to the company to do something for the good of the community, Pfeifer includes another tack: Appeal to the pocketbook. He suggests that Dillard's could use the trail to enhance sales by creating a private label, "Dillard's Trail," for use on fitness attire and camping items, etc. Here's the full letter.

Follow the link above to read Gene's very thoughtful letter. I hear a lot of second and third hand opinions of the real reason for lack of action on the River Bluffs or "Dillard's Trail" section. Most recently, I've heard there is little resistance from Dillard's, but
that Mayor Stodola is hesitant to pull the trigger on the money, though he has semi-publicly stated (at various meetings and through intermediaries) that the city could produce the dollars, while pointing to Dillard's position as a hold-up. In fairness, the city continues to seek transportation grants for the project, which is prudent when spending local taxpayer dollars.
My hope is that Gene's letter and its publication in the Arkansas Times will get a response from the Mr. Dillard and allow the conversation and the project to move along. If Dillard says "no", then the public can let him know how they feel about corporate citizenship. If the response is positive, then pressure will be great on Mayor Stodola to stop the slow dance and act. The River Trail is already an asset for community health, recreation, and transportation, and is a draw for educated, employable young people who might consider a move to Central Arkansas.
The Dillard's section would be an absolute jewel and a regional draw. Take a look at this video from Metroplan and you'll agree:

After The Walton Foundation contributed ~$25M to  NW Ark greenway development, I suggested that they might adopt this River Trail section. It would create all sorts of good will, but I don't think the Dillard family would appreciate having the "Walton Trail" in their backyard.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What Does "Lifetime Warranty" Mean? Well, That Depends....

I wrote a while back about the frame failure of my cherished Litespeed Ghisallo. After a few twists and turns, I am now the owner of a new Litespeed T3, but the experience prompted me to take a look at "lifetime" frame warranties that are quite common in the bike business.
I'm looking forward to my first ride on the new T3. 

On the surface, the term "Lifetime Warranty" seems pretty transparent. It implies to me that the product cover by said warranty will last as long as I do. Lifetime warranties are offered by most top brands of bike frames and, for cyclists, it is a reassuring guarantee that an expensive frame is going to last.

In my case, I bought the Litespeed from Competitive Cyclist, who also offers a lifetime "No Questions Asked" guarantee of satisfaction on products that they sell. In my case, I was a bit disappointed by Litespeed's response to a frame failure, which was to offer me a new frame at a discounted price that I assume to be somewhere near dealer cost. On the other hand, Competitive Cyclist stepped in to take care of me beyond my expectations. It took a little time, but CC gave me more help than I would have asked for, so they deserve credit.

When I bought my bike from CC, they were still my local bike shop, but their sale to BackCountry only seems to have strengthened their commitment to customer satisfaction with the resources of a larger parent company. I think the opposite occurred with LiteSpeed's acquisition by American Bicycle Group.

Being an on-line retailer, Competitive Cyclist may have to provide extraordinary support in order to compete with the hands-on experience of dealing with a local shop. I always appreciated being able to roll in and talk to the guy that built up my bike when I had a problem. He knew me and he knew my bike. There is value in buying local.

On To The Fine Print...

Here are some examples of what you will find in terms of "lifetime warranties" from a few of the big boys in the bike business:

Trek excludes wear and tear along with damage caused by use on incompatible parts, etc., but their warranty is pretty straightforward:
  • Frames for the lifetime of the original owner (except forks, the Session, Scratch, Slash, and Ticket model frames, and the swing arms on all full suspension bicycles)
Cervelo's terms are very similar:

Starting January 1, 2004, each Cervélo SA (Cervélo) bicycle frame purchased after this date is warranted by Cervélo SA against defects in workmanship and materials for as long as the frame is owned by the original owner, excluding paint and decals. (Cervélo bicycle frames purchased before this date came with a four year warranty). This covers ALL bicycle frame models Cervélo offers. This warranty is expressly limited to either the repair or replacement of the defective frame – the decision to repair and replace to be at the sole discretion of Cervélo – and no other remedies are available under the warranty.

As are those from Specialized :
Specialized warrants to the original owner for the lifetime of the original owner of each new Specialized bicycle or frameset that the bicycle frame or frameset when new is free of defective materials and workmanship. The lifetime Limited Warranty is conditioned upon the bicycle being operated under normal conditions and use, and properly maintained.

It also excludes normal wear and tear.

My Bike

My recent experience was with Litespeed. Let me say that Litespeed builds a beautiful bike and that I was very attached to and proud of my Ghisallo. Several factors attracted me to the titanium Litespeed over carbon fiber, among them that fact that Litespeed ti bikes are built in Chattanooga, TN rather than at a nameless plant in Taiwan. Don't get me wrong, the composite quality of the carbon bikes available today is amazing, but I liked the idea of American craftsmanship, the quality of which was clear when I looked at the frames. The other factors that led me to select Litespeed was their reputation for ride quality on rough roads, something lacking in the aluminum CAAD7 Cannondale that I was riding, and, yes, the "lifetime" frame warranty. I was sold on the idea that titanium doesn't rust like steel, suffer notch failure as can happen with carbon, or readily give in to metal fatigue as  can brittle aluminum alloys. In short, I considered it to be the ideal frame material for my needs.

Litespeed's warranty statement is a little different in that they qualify the warranty with a statement about "useful product life":

Litespeed Bicycle's frames are warranted to be free from manufacturing defects in material and/or workmanship for the lifetime of the original owner. Litespeed branded forks, stems, bars, seat posts, paint and decals are warranted for 1 year against defects in material and workmanship. Alignment is warranted for 30 days from date of purchase. This warranty is redeemable only by the original owner when purchased and maintained through an authorized Litespeed dealer.

Useful Product Life Cycle

Every Litespeed frameset has a useful life cycle. This useful life cycle is not the same as the warranty period.
This warranty is not meant to suggest or imply that the frame cannot be broken or will last forever. Bicycles and/or frames will not last forever. The length of the useful life cycle will vary depending on the type of frame, riding conditions and care the bicycle receives.

Are You going to Use it?
I read that to mean the Litespeed has no intention of providing a lifetime warranty, but that they intend to provide an "indefinite warranty" of which they are the sole arbiter. In the case of my bike, they deemed the 8-year-old frame to be simply "worn out". How can a "lifetime warranty" not imply that a frame will last a lifetime? Hell, I was 51-years-old when I bought it, so their exposure was already birthday-limited.

The horizontal line extending from the water bottle bolt insert is a crack in the seat tube. Normal "wear and tear"? Not in the mind of this consumer.
Litespeed also took the position that any manufacturing or materials defect with my frame would have appeared long before now. That has some logic, but if the expectation is that a product or material has a limited expected useful life, why would the builder tout its durability with a lifetime warranty? If I rode 2000 miles per year, perhaps my Litespeed would have lasted 20-25 years, but I bought the bike to ride.

I suggest to American Bicycle Group, the current owners of Litespeed, that they make their warranty 5 years or 7 years or whatever the timeline is for their concept of "useful product life". I know from experience that it's less than 7 1/2 years. I can accept reasonable limitations, but please don't bullshit me at the point of sale.

Perhaps manufacturers should limit lifetime warranties to items like anvils and Craftsman tools, but my experience with lifetime warranties of smaller bike items and consumer products is that if the product fails, they give you a new one. I've also concluded that there are relatively few frame failures and, mostly through the anecdotal experiences of other riders, most bike builders step up and take care of their customer.

I am not demonizing the folks at Litespeed/ABG. They made me a deal on a new T3 frame and I just got my new bike. I've yet to even ride it, but it's a beauty. I still believe that they make a fine product. Their warranty comes with enough fine print and caveats of use that I cannot deny that they fulfilled their legal obligations, but I will suggest that their "lifetime warranty" is more marketing than substance.

Some suggestions on empowering yourself as a bike consumer:

-Most warranties require that you buy your bike from an authorized dealer of the brand. Additionally, your bike shop is your best ally in dealing with the manufacturer.
-Register your warranty and keep all receipts and documentation associated with the purchase.
-Don't accept warranty statements at face value. Read the warranty document and have realistic expectations.

I believe that most of the cycling products that we buy today are of remarkable quality; that being driven by intense competition and supported by highly refined manufacturing and design. This is especially true at the high end of the market. That said, things still break. My few experiences with product failures have, in every case I can recall, been addressed promptly and cheerfully by either the merchant or the manufacturer. In the end, I came out very well on my LiteSpeed experience, thanks in large part to Competitive Cyclist.