Monday, June 27, 2016

VeloGames Tour de France MiniLeague code #232403132015

I have formed the 2016 JBar Cycling Minileague, code #232403132015 ,  so sign in, choose your team and follow the prompts to join the league. It is very easy to go back and change your team selections right up to the July 2 deadline so you don't have to agonize over your first picks.Just get it done.

I simply don't have the time and energy to gather prizes and do the admin work that went in to last year's effort. We had 47 teams and prizes for almost every stage. That said, I'll gather up a few primes and we'll see who can come up with the best team.

Details on how to join VeloGames are below. Some Tour teams have yet to announce their final selections, so keep an eye out for updates at CyclingNews , Velonews, Etc.

Here are some current details from VeloGames:

Dear Velogames directeur,


There's just one week left until the Grand Depart of Velogames Fantasy Tour de France 2016, with the peloton set to roll out of Le Mont-Saint-Michel next Saturday lunchtime
Make sure to enter your team, and make changes to your line-up, before 12:50 CEST (Central European Summer Time) on Saturday 2nd July 2016.
The game is free to play, so head over to the website at to make your selections.


There's been several changes to the Fantasy Tour de France rider list changes the past couple of days, as the pro teams confirm their line ups for the big event.
Recent additions to the rider list include Team Sky climber Mikel Landa (14 credits), Lotto-Soudal secondary sprint option Jens Debusschere (8 credits) and breakaway specialist Ruben Plaza (8 credits), who backed up a stage victory at last year's Tour de France with a stage win at the La Vuelta 2016.
The biggest names to be removed from the start list are Andrew Talansky, who has been suffering with illness, and Michal Kwiatkowski who has failed to make Team Sky's final section.
It is expected that the rider list should be complete by Tuesday evening, so be sure to keep an eye on your Team Roster page, which includes a column which shows whether eachof your selected riders is in or out of the official start-list.
As always, I will be updating the rider list every day as teams are confirmed, and you can make unlimited changes to your team ahead of the entry deadline, but none thereafter!


You need to have created a team and made your final team changes before 12:50 CEST on Saturday 2nd July. That's 11:50 in the UK and 06:50 on the US East Coast.
Good luck!

Friday, June 10, 2016

JBarCycling Tour De France Mini-League

Sinced announcing officially the JBarCycling was going on what I'll call abbreviated hours, there has been a minor outpouring of concern. It has not been about important civic matters that affect the cycling community, nor has it been remorse over the loss of timely River Trail information or pithy insights and self-described humor.

No, the big question has been, "Are you still doing the Velogames Mini-league?"
In a word, "yes."

We had a huge response last year and good support from Spokes, Angry Dave's, Arkansas Cycling and Fitness, and Ozark Outdoor Supply with a passel of great prizes. The biggest challenge for me was to administer a system of awarding the many prizes in a manner that would spread the winning around. The prize package will likely be whittle down appreciably but I know that folks are really only playing for pride and bragging rights.........and prizes. I get it. 
This week's Daupine is a great place to get a feel for the Tour contenders, with Froome, Porte, and Contador already in a tight battle. Start thinking about your team and I'll set up the league when Velogames opens for tour business. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The State Of JBarCycling

As the frequency of my posts has diminished, I've been asked more than once if I had given up JBarCycling. I guess the best response is, "not quite".

I find myself having a few too many interests and demands to keep up the task of spending the several hours each week that it takes to conceive, research, and produce articles that I think will be of interest to you folks. I have been at it for 7 years and have written just over a thousand articles since the first post on February 25, 2009, some that I deem to have been important (blowing the whistle on the sale of Big Rock Quarry by the City of North Little Rock), some that were really fun (April 1 report of a Walton grant to complete the River Bluffs trail section behind Dillards HQ), and many that hopefully entertained and informed the cycling community in central Arkansas.

 The Big Rock Quarry story was first picked up by Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times( OK, I tipped him), then by all the other local mainstream media outlets. Friends of Big Rock Quarry arose on Facebook, and the questionable deal was ultimately shut down and the land became a part of the parks system.
Max also picked up the River Bluffs story, and was only a little taken aback when I pointed out the April 1 publication date.
One of my most rewarding moments came on a BDB100 when a guy rode up beside me and asked if I was JBar. After introductions, he said that he had been stationed in Kuwait on a C-130 crew flying into Iraq, and he wanted to thank me for helping him stay connected to his riding community at home. I was humbled that such a small thing could have meant so much to one of our service men.

I followed the construction and opening of the Two Rivers Bridge, which was fascinating.

In an introspective moment, I clicked through some blogs, mostly cycling related, that I had added to my bookmarks over time. They seem to come and go as either a cause runs its course or the blogger simply runs out of steam, so I guess the JBarCycling state-of-being is a natural thing.

Where I used to rush in from a ride with an article concept simply begging to be put to the screen, these days I am hard pressed to sit back down at my computer after a day of work.  I will continue to post articles from time to time with the hope of regaining my enthusiasm.
The JBarCycling Facebook page will stay up, as I've allowed its use by local bike shops and some groups.
I'll raise my head from time to time. Until then, thank you all for reading and for the many kind comments that I've received from you over the years. And thanks to the many folks who helped keep me informed about local cycling events, city government issues, and the many little bits of knowledge that allowed me to help keep our community informed.

Lifetime Warranties Revisited

I wrote an article three years ago in which I related my experience with Litespeed's "lifetime warranty".
I wasn't very impressed with Litespeed's response to the failure of my 7 year old titanium Ghisallo frame. While I considered a cracked frame to be a materials failure, Litespeed says that a "lifetime warranty does not imply unlimited useful life". The fine print of their warranty backs them up, so that is that.
On the whole, my warranty experiences with top tier manufacturers has been very good. I'll recount two recent experiences that I've had with makers of some popular cycling accessories, Serfas and Genuine Innovations.

Serfas makes a wide array of cycling accessories ranging from saddles to shoes, bar tape to bike locks. We own several Serfas lights and I have Serfas saddle bags on three of my bikes. They are well-designed, reasonable priced , and widely distributed. Serfas products are available at most local bike.One of my favorite Serfas bits is a very small, stealthy front blinkie. They no longer make this particular light, but I love the fact that it almost disappears when strapped below the bars of my #1 road bike and gives me the confidence that drivers will have a better opportunity to pick me out of the visual clutter of the road when they happen to glance up from their cell phones and actually look at the road.  You never know when you'll be riding home in the dusky dark and need that margin of visibility. It is USB charged and stays on my bike full time.

Recently, the stretchy rubber strap that attaches the light broke. Not shocking, and the light still works great, so I went to the Serfas website. Lo and behold, there was the magic statement:

Serfas warrants to the original purchaser of our product that the product is free from defects in material and workmanship for the lifetime of the product.

I noticed that batteries were covered for a year and they give you the opportunity to order small parts to "get back on the road quickly".

The warranty statement was followed of course by the usual disclaimers of abuse, neglect, alterations, etc,etc, but I had committed none of those atrocities, so I followed up with a phone call. 
I was politely told that the attachment band was not covered by the warranty and that it could be ordered for $5.00 plus a $4.00 mailing fee. Those charges were reasonable enough so I ordered the part to get my 4 or 5-year old $25.00 light back on the bike. I would describe the Serfas experience as "OK".

The replacement strap was mailed a week or so after I ordered it, and I'm back in business. Fortunately, my collection of tools includes the tiny star driver required for the repair.

When overkill is barely enough....

I'll start my next warranty story with some build-up.
A few weeks ago, I had a clusterf--k of a flat tire situation. While riding with friends, we ran through some gravel that had washed out onto the River Trail from a recent deluge, resulting in what I thought was a pinch flat. We were finishing our ride and I was only 3-4 miles from my car so I waved my friends on for their ride home. I'm capable of fixing a flat and I had my usual kit of 2 spare tubes, an inflator, and 3, count 'em, 3 CO2 cartridges.  Being good folks, they stuck around, anyway.I inspected my tire rolling surface for damage and ran my fingers around the interior, but I was pretty sure I had the classic "snake bite" flat. 
I quickly replaced the tube and proceeded with the inflation. I immediately noticed that CO2 was spewing around the valve stem. Hmmm.., I guess I hadn't really opened the presta valve. I fully opened the valve and got the tube inflated enough to notice that it was protruding from a tear in the sidewall of the tire. Shit. 
Tear down the whole mess again and insert a dollar bill as a boot. Used my second CO2. Still had some leakage around valve stem (when something seems wrong, it usually is. I should have stopped before now to carefully inspect everything.) but thought I had enough pressure to ride. By now, my loyal friends had seen enough and had departed. I was wrong yet again, as after a few yards, I realized that I would not make it to my vehicle. At this point, I installed my second spare tube on the assumption that I had compromised the first, and I actually took a close look at my inflator. The O-ring at the valve stem fitting had a small tear in it. 
I was on my second tube and my third and last CO2 cartridge, so I waved down a passing rider and borrowed an inflator. Neither he nor I knew how to use it, but it seemed simple. Screw in the cartridge and depress the trigger. Which worked only a small burst at a time. That allowed me to get just enough tire pressure to limp back to my car.
I could have avoided most of my problems by:
1) doing a more thorough inspection of my damaged tire
2) doing an inspection of the seals on my inflator when I first noticed air leaking around the valve.

I still would have wasted one CO2 cartridge, but would have had the flat fixed and still had a back-up on hand.

If I had been out on the road alone, I would have been screwed, but I likely would have been more methodical away from the confines of the Fiver Trail. Or so I tell myself.

Genuine Innovations is best known to cyclists for their CO2 inflators and accessories. I could not find any explicit warranty information on their website.

Back to the warranty experience. 
I called Genuine Innovations to see if they could send me a couple of O-rings. The pleasant customer service rep helped me identify my inflator as a Microflate Nano (it was old enough that all the graphics were long worn off) and she said they would be glad to send me some O-rings, but that the inflator had a lifetime warranty and she was also going to send me a new inflator. Cool. I love it when people exceed my expectations. As I thanked her, I recounted the short version of my trials and tribulations on the trail. Upon hearing that I had blown through some CO2 cartridge, she said that she would also throw in a couple of threaded cartridges and asked whether I needed 16g or 20g. size (MTB or road )

Genuine Innovations blew me away with their warranty fulfillment. The old inflator with damaged O-ring is shown at the bottom of the photo. It might be worthwhile to take a look at yours before you need it. This one has seen a lot of flats.

And, it just keeps getting better. 
The same rep called back to tell me that my package had shipped and then called a few days later to let me know that UPS had delivered the shipment and had left it at my door. I came home to find the O-rings to repair my old inflator, a new retail-packaged MicroFlate Nano, and a half-dozen CO2 cartridges. Remarkable.

Needless to say, I think Genuine Innovations deserves your business. Their parent company also makes Slime, which I have used for years in everything from wheelbarrow to tractor tires. 
 The internet makes finding contact information easy. Diane needed to replace her many years-old NRS kayak flotation bags recently. She called their 800 number and told them that the bags would no longer hold air. They told her they had a lifetime warranty and shipped new bags, along with a label to return the old ones.
If a product fails you, it never hurts to call the maker and ask about warranty. Serfas left me with a neutral feeling. Good stuff, but there's a lot of good stuff around. Genuine innovations and NRS earned loyal customers.