The Crash

If it’s been a little quiet from ARB Cyclery this summer (i.e. you haven’t seen our e-newsletters hit your inbox), this blog post will help explain.  And speaking of blog posts, it has been a while since we last posted!  We hope to be more consistent through the rest of 2017.

If you’ve been cycling long enough, there is a good chance you’ve “hit the deck” at some point.  Sometimes you get by with just a few scrapes and bruises.  Other times, it’s worse.  The dreaded broken collarbone is one of the more common cycling injuries resulting from a crash.  And, of course, there is no shortage of stories of road cyclists getting hit by automobiles.  Either it’s happened to you or you know someone who has been hit.

Technical Singletrack in Sedona, Arizona

I’ve never been one to think of cycling as a particularly risky sport.  Of course, the rider has some say in this.  If you race criteriums, hammer in large, fast group rides, regularly do climbs that feature harrowing descents, or ride lots of technical singletrack, you up the ante.  Then there is always the debate about which is safer, road cycling or mountain biking.  I’d venture to say there are more falls and injuries in mountain biking.  However, mountain bikers will always fire back by saying at least we don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car – which, in the worst case, can lead to death.  Yes, this is true, but I’d say the odds are low when you consider the number of deaths per cycling miles ridden.  Of course, one life lost is one too many and we need to do everything possible to make cycling safer.  It is also true that you take a risk everyday just by getting into an automobile.  Bottom line:  there is risk in many of life’s activities that people find enjoyable.

I’ve been road cycling on and off for about 26 years, not counting my childhood.  That adds up to well over 25,000 miles (based on my estimations) and in that time, I had never really crashed.  In other words, nothing I didn’t get right back up from.  In 2004, I decided to give mountain biking a try and that’s when I suffered my first crash of any real consequence.  On a ride from Point Mugu State Park in Malibu, I crashed on some singletrack, suffering a small compression fracture of a lower vertebrae.  Fortunately, no surgery was required and after a short hospital stay and a few weeks in a back brace, I was pretty much recovered.  So, I thought, why not just stick to the road – much safer than those unpredictable rocky dirt trails!

Mt. Tantalus Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii

Then came the summer of 2017 and a one week family vacation in Hawaii.  I was able to get a “hall pass” for one day of cycling on Oahu with a native cyclist who knew the best places for road riding on the island.  We rolled out and cruised some of Honolulu’s city streets before my guide led us to the base of a popular local climb, Mt. Tantalus Drive.  Strava shows it as a 4.5 mile climb at an average gradient of 6%.  It feels like you are climbing up into a tropical rain forest with some amazing peekaboo views of downtown Honolulu below as you round various switchbacks.  Of course, I had never done this climb before, but more importantly, I had never done the descent before.  Of course, I wasn’t thinking about that – I just wanted to get to the top!  As we turned around to descend, I started to realize the road had some damp spots from rains the night before.  So as I picked up speed coming into the first corner, I wasn’t as aggressive as I’d normally be.  And unfortunately, this put my line too far to the outside, causing me to go off the edge of the pavement.  Trying to get back on the pavement, I could not keep my balance and I hit the tarmac hard.  Just how hard, I was about to find out.

Laying on the road, I was ready to get back up, but as I tried to roll over onto my back, I realized something was wrong.  I couldn’t move without severe pain in my left leg.  I now knew this was serious.  And, I felt a little embarrassed in front of my cycling guide – how did I manage to mess up going around this corner?  And then something else dawned on me – I just really messed up our family vacation.  Someone wasn’t going to be happy.  Eventually, an ambulance arrived and I was off to the hospital.

After some X-Rays, the verdict was in – a broken and fractured femur.  (I also injured my left shoulder which wasn’t really noticeable at that point.)  I was brought in for surgery almost immediately.   I was going to get a titanium rod put into my leg so my femur bone could heal properly.  When I woke up, my doctor said he was very pleased with the surgery and that I now had a long recovery process ahead of me – somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 months.  Of course, the first two weeks was going to be the hardest.  For that, I refer you to this very accurate blog post of another cyclist who suffered a broken femur!  You can start reading from the part:   Week 1:  Standing on my own Two Feet. Just.

Richie Porte, GC Favorite, TdF Stage 9 Crash

After one week in the hospital and another in a rehab hospital, I was allowed to fly home.  By then, I was still using a walker to get around but I soon graduated to a cane.  In those first few weeks, I spent a lot of time in bed with the TV on.  One good thing was that it coincided with the Tour de France.  It was always something to look forward to each day.  This year, I could really empathize with every rider that crashed.  In the very first stage, Alejandro Valverde went down on a wet time trial course breaking his kneecap.  And then, probably the scariest scene in the Tour came when G.C. favorite Richie Porte went down going over 40mph on a descent in Stage 9, fracturing both his pelvis and clavicle.  When I saw pictures of each of them in the hospital, I knew exactly what they were going through.

Fast forward to today and I can even hobble around without the cane.  I am doing a lot of outpatient physical therapy and am now starting to feel a lot more normal in terms of everyday functioning.  But, it will be a few more months before my leg is near 100%.  It probably won’t ever be exactly as before, but I hope to get close.  During this time period, unfortunately, our Store Manager of five years, Tony Lederman, left to take another job in the bicycle industry closer to his home in San Diego.  We wish him the best as he moves on to another chapter in his career.  I am now back in the shop a bit more often and you will still see many of the other familiar faces at ARB, including Jason, Jesus, Barrett, Bruce B, Les, and Danilo.

Hello Trainer!  I’ve never been a big fan of trainers because I much prefer to do the real thing outside.  Isn’t that one of the reasons we live in Southern California?  But now I’ll do my best to embrace it as the indoor trainer is a great way to rehab and get back lost fitness.  If you come into the shop, you might see me on the Wahoo Kickr doing some rehab.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back outside on the bike come fall!

 

 

Support Your LBS (Local Bike Shop) This Holiday Season

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The LBS never goes out of style!

Times, they are a changin’!  Over the past several “Black Fridays,” headlines indicate the rapid growth of online sales over the flat or declining sales at brick and mortar stores.  It looks like the traditional rush to the mall for holiday shopping is gradually fading away in favor of shopping in your PJs.  And certainly, there are many advantages to that!  While the nature of shopping habits are changing, we’d like to put in a plug for the good ‘ole LBS.

Shop from your PJs on your LBS’ website

If you are shopping for a cyclist on your list, strongly consider buying from your local store, either in-person or on their website.  Yes, most local bike shops do have an extensive selection online, offering you the convenience of shopping in those PJs while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate.  You can always choose in-store pick-up to save on shipping.  Besides the convenience factor, probably the number one reason to shop online is price.  While your LBS may not have the lowest prices around compared to some websites, there is a reason for that.  Part of what you are paying for when purchasing at your LBS is the personal, one-on-one service you are getting from knowledgeable sales associates who are passionate cyclists in your local community.  Now, if you don’t think that service is very good, for whatever reason, then by all means shop elsewhere.  A store has to earn their stripes.

When I say “Service,” what do I mean?  A lot!  If a shop is doing it right, that means you having the ability to walk into a store and ask questions about bikes and accessories from a real live person who is knowledgeable and friendly.  Their years of experience can help you avoid potential buying mistakes.  They live and ride in your local community as opposed to somewhere else in the country or even overseas.  Even if you call or email the store, that sales associate knows you can come by the shop for a personal one-on-one visit anytime, and they hope you do!  If someone is hundreds of miles away, they know that’s not happening.

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Nothing replaces one-on one human interaction

One of the complaints I hear from time to time is that the local bike shop just doesn’t have the product selection.   And it is true that the in-store selection is not going to compare to a web store.  However, that local store’s website most likely does have that “endless aisle” selection you may be looking for.  Because a local bike shop cannot realistically carry so much inventory, one of the services they do provide is a curated product selection.  Let’s face it, one of the problems consumers face today is TOO MANY choices.  The LBS is spending the time to bring in what they think are the best options for its local customers among the seemingly limitless number of options available.  This is usually based on personal experience using the products themselves!  So a good LBS has curated a selection they believe to be the best products out there, saving the consumer time and money!

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A curated selection

If you decide to make a purchase at the LBS instead of an out-of-state or out-of-country online seller, or an auction site, some additional service you get from the price you paid includes the following:  First, it means knowing you bought from an authorized dealer.  This means the store and the manufacturer will stand behind the product according to the warranty.  Should there be any issues, you just come back to the store and talk with a sales associate in person to handle the issue.  No endless phone tag with a remote company, who may not even be authorized dealers of the product.  If they’re not, you are out of luck.  There are a lot of websites out there participating in the “gray market” who are not authorized to sell a brand’s products or may even be selling knock-offs, so buyer beware.

The price you pay at an LBS also includes the showroom experience.  In addition to your interaction with a real live human being, you get to touch and feel the product in a pretty cool environment.  Many shops have a place for you to hang out, read the latest magazines, watch some races or videos, and enjoy a coffee or espresso.  When it comes to bikes, there is nothing like the test ride and a proper bike fit.  You are taking a real risk on your purchase if you skip those two services.

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A good bike fit is essential to cycling enjoyment

If you do purchase a bike at the LBS, the price you pay typically includes some nice perks worth real money – such as a free tune-up, free bike fit, complimentary adjustments for the life of the bike and sometimes a nice discount on all future tune-ups.  Every bike shop is a little different in this respect so see what they offer.  Also, be aware of the difference between cost and price.  If you add it all up, you may be surprised to realize that the overall cost from purchasing at the LBS is actually lower than that great deal you got for a bike online.

Another service included in the price of a bike at the LBS is the bike build.  While not all LBS mechanics are the same, in general, you will find a much higher quality bike build from your LBS than the online retailer or certainly big box store.  You will usually have to complete a portion of the bike build yourself on shipped bikes (or bring it to the LBS who will charge a build fee).

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Have your bike built and cared for by a professional

Contribution to the local community is also a service which is part of the price charged by the LBS.  Is that worth something to you?   While this may seem more nebulous, it’s real.  Amazon and other remote online sellers contribute nothing to your local cycling community.   First and foremost, your LBS employs people in your community.  And therefore when you spend dollars locally, more of those dollars stay in your local economy, compared to spending them with an out-of-state or out-of-country remote seller.  But beyond that, most local bike shops organize regular shop rides, support organized charity rides and put time and dollars towards improving cycling infrastructure in your community.  Often they work with schools to get more kids riding bikes (safely) and contribute their time to get people in lower income areas on bikes.   The list could go on and on as each bike shop is a little different.

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The LBS advocates for bicycling infrastructure in your community

One of the initial appeals of buying online was the sales tax savings.  This has dwindled in recent years as many of the larger online internet retailers also have some sort of “physical” presence in multiple states, such as a warehouse.  In addition, more and more states are compelling online sellers to charge sales tax even without a so-called physical presence.  As these cases continue to go through the courts, it is more likely Congress will pass a federal internet sales tax law (different bills are pending) that will eliminate the sales tax advantage currently enjoyed by many online sellers.   No matter your view on taxes, the sales tax theoretically supports the people of the state you live in.  And even factoring in the sales tax, the overall value proposition you get at the LBS when you consider all the SERVICE (as outlined in this blog) built into the price you pay, is usually better at the LBS!

Hopefully, I’ve made a compelling case for shopping at your LBS for all the cyclists on your list this holiday season.   Sometimes, when comparing only price tags, consumers don’t take into account the overall value they are getting for that price.  It is not an apples to apples comparison.  The benefits I’ve described for shopping at your LBS are not spelled out on a price tag.  In the end, the LBS must earn your business.  If the bicycling consumer does not see the value of the LBS that I’ve outlined above, then ultimately some will go away.  Consumers vote with their dollars.  There is no doubt that “Cyber Monday” will continue to grow and at some point, we will reach some equilibrium between online sales and bricks & mortar sales.   This means the LBS has to adapt and continue to find ways to enhance their value proposition.

Saddle Demo at ARB Cyclery

You are probably excited when getting a new carbon bar, or even a new carbon stem. But there doesn’t seem to much love for our old friend the saddle. For many people, bicycle saddles are just ‘there’. They exist for you to sit on so you can ride your bike. Even with the new carbon shelled and railed saddles, they just don’t seem to generate the same level of excitement as other components. More often than not, people use whatever saddle comes with the bike they purchase. If it’s initially a bit uncomfortable, they attribute it to a “break-in period”. This is true in some cases, but that doesn’t change the shape or the cutouts of the saddle which are areas that often play a more important role in saddle comfort than padding density. It’s like your desk chair. It usually isn’t the most comfortable thing to sit on, but you just deal with it. When you start thinking about it, why should you just “deal with it”? You spend so much time in it, it would be a worthy investment to make sure you aren’t hurting yourself.

ARB Cyclery Saddle Demo
ARB Cyclery Saddle Demo

Other times, it seems like I overhear people saying that they chose their saddle because they liked the way it looked or the color matched their bike better than other saddle options. OK, that might just be me. But the more I find myself riding, the more importance I place on my comfort instead of aesthetics. It is common to fall into the trap of getting a saddle for a great price without taking comfort into consideration. The mentality is, “if I can save some money on that saddle, surely I can deal with any discomfort it will bring”.

It’s understandable. Saddles aren’t cheap, and you might just have to deal with the saddle you buy if you’ve spent a good amount on it. Similar to shoes, you don’t really know how it will work out for you until you actually use it. So when you think about it, is that deal actually worth it in the long run? Fortunately, we have a saddle demo program right here at ARB Cyclery! As mentioned in a previous blog, I came from riding a full carbon saddle with no padding. It looked really slick and catered to my desire for weight reduction. It was quite literally a pain in my ass. I knew I had to switch to something else after going on rides with the other guys from the shop, but I had no idea where to start. Being on the small side, the only thing I was sure of was the need for a narrow saddle. But in today’s saddle market with hundreds, if not thousands, of options, picking a new saddle is quite a daunting task. I don’t like committing to a purchase of an item I don’t know much about, and reading the hundreds of subjective reviews online were doing nothing for me. It just made things even more confusing.

Utilizing the saddle demo program allowed me to test multiple saddles. I figured out that I was more comfortable on a saddle with a channel. I figured out I needed a medium amount of padding. I figured out how much flex I preferred in the saddle shell. Prior to testing out the actual saddles, I had my eye on the Selle Italia SLR saddle simply because of the look. Then I actually tried it out, and decided there were better options for me. I finally ended up choosing the Fizik Antares VS, and it is by far the best fit for me. I’ve done a metric century on this saddle and my rear end was thankful. And as a bonus, even though I put aesthetics behind comfort this time around, it looks damn fine. I was also pretty close to going with the new Brooks C15 saddle, which looked and felt great. It’s styling is certainly a very attractive feature, and it felt more comfortable than it looked. The rivets add a level of class to it that would have matched my titanium frame quite well, but the feel of the Antares came out on top.

My Fizik Antares VS with carbon rails
My Fizik Antares VS with carbon rails

Everyone is going to be different when it comes to saddle. There is only so much advice that we can give you, and a recommendation from me may not do it for you. The best thing you can do is to come in yourself and demo new saddles! If you mention this blog post when you come in for a saddle demo, you will also receive a Zjay’s Saddle Sore Soother (while supplies last)! We want to make sure you have a comfortable experience. Your butt will thank you for it.

 

Titanium Bikes. They’re Something Special.

There is a certain feeling of excitement that you get when you are searching for your next bike. But sometimes, you might not even know you’re on the search for a new bike. Imagine yourself, innocently scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed trying to find out what your friends have been up to. Then, out of nowhere, BOOM. You get hit in the face with the nicest looking bike you’ve ever laid your eyes on. You try and scroll past it and pretend that your heart rate hasn’t raised. Deep down, you already know it’s too late. One Google search, and before you realize it, you’ve spent the entire night watching YouTube reviews on the bike, hoping for some form of negative criticism that will steer you away from committing to the purchase. But secretly, you’re hoping to hear just how amazing it is.

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Foundry Chilkoot Ultegra

However, once you’ve actually decided that you’re ready to make that next purchase, that is when the excitement really starts to crank up. I went through this entire experience when it came to buying my Foundry. I remember seeing a picture of a super nice, custom, titanium road bike on social media and it blew me away. Coming from a carbon bike that I had purchased without enough knowledge about fit, sizing, and geometry, I vowed to do it correctly this time. My carbon bike was super light and looked pretty darn cool, but the harshness of the ride made riding any distance over 25 miles a real chore. For me, having ridden aluminum, carbon, and steel, I knew my next bike had to be titanium. I wasn’t quite in the market for a full blown custom bike, so I kept my eye open for a company that carried stock geometry frames. I’m pretty particular on how the bike looks, and I’ve always favored slightly larger diameter tubing. When I stumbled upon the Foundry Chilkoot, it was everything I was looking for. The frame came partially painted in a simple white which I love. As an added bonus, the Foundry logo is relatively small and low-key. For me, I just wanted something that would stand out from the usual crowd of bikes, but I wanted it to do that in a more subtle manner.

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Closeups of the Foundry

The company offered the bike as both a complete build with Ultegra 6800, or as a frameset. Because I wanted to compare how the titanium bike rode vs my carbon bike, I decided to go with the frameset so I could swap all the parts over. This way,  I had a more realistic comparison between the two frames’ riding characteristics. Being the aesthetic nut that I am, ordering the frameset only also allowed me to have white cable housing instead of stock black thanks to the Pro Build done here at ARB Cyclery.

While I kept the same SRAM groupset and wheels, I ended up making the switch to a full Enve cockpit to match the Enve fork that comes with the frame. Granted, this doesn’t make it a perfect comparison to my old bike, so keep that in mind. Watching the bike being built in the stand gave me the same feeling of excitement that I had when when I was a kid on Christmas Eve. The sense of giddiness you get on new bike day is unforgettable.

The first ride I had was amazing. I know there is a lot of marketing speak behind the handling characteristics of different frame materials. You hear things like “aluminum is harsh” and “titanium is whippy”. Whippy? That doesn’t mean anything to me. Based on my personal experiences of my bike, I can say that one characteristic of titanium frames is it’s dampening capabilities. I’ve ridden both bikes on the same stretch of road, and there is a noticeable difference in road feel between the two. On my carbon bike, I can feel the texture of the road much more than I can on my Foundry. Everything feels softer, and the little vibrations I could feel on my carbon bike were gone. My titanium bike is comfortable. I don’t put out enough power to comment much on power transfer or frame flex, but I certainly didn’t feel like there is a loss of power. As a long term bike, for me, this bike is perfect. Its comfort really stands out on rides longer than 25 miles, and I don’t have to worry about things like corrosion or about cracking my frame in the event of a crash. Riding a titanium really is something special. It is special in the way it rides, and it is special because it is different from most of the bikes out on the roads.

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Our store manager’s custom Mosaic being built!

Now, for those of you who are truly looking to get a one-of-a-kind bike, you can go with the custom route and get a bike made just for you. No more trying to match a frame to your needs. Instead, your needs dictate the frame that you will get. ARB Cyclery is proud to announce that we are now a Mosaic Cycles dealer! Mosaic offers fully custom bikes tailored to the bike that suits your need! Paired with bike fitting that we provide here at the shop, you’ll end up with a titanium beast that was designed just for you. Receiving your Mosaic will certainly have you feeling like you once did on Christmas Eve. If one thing is for sure, it’s that a titanium bike is worth buying.

BMC Demo Day at Packet Pickup for OC Gran Fondo

BMC RideExperience Demo Ride DayA Road Bike 4U will be hosting BMC Demo Day during packet pickup for the OC Gran Fondo on Friday, October 3, 2014 from 11am -to- 5pm.

BMC is bringing you the ultimate demo ride opportunity.  Their support team will have multiple bike models (in various sizes) on hand. Listed below are the BMC premium bikes that will be available for demo at this event.

Bikes available at event – Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 – 11am-5pm
Road Mountain Stromer
granfondo GF01 fourstroke FS01 29 Stromer ST1
teammachine SLR01 fourstroke FS02 29
teammachine SLR02 teamelite TE01 29
timemachine TM01 trailfox TF01 29
timemachine TMR01

BMC RideExperience

The BMC experts will set you up to put their bikes through their paces on an extended test ride.  Experience first-hand what “engineered for excitement” is all about.

You can register here to get priority on this BMC Demo Day. It’s first come, first serve and those who register ahead of time will get priority.

Sign-up Now For Winter Training Classes

Join Now And Discover The Many Benefits of Indoor Cycling

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Our Second Indoor Cycling Class of the season will be starting on Tuesday, January 28th. Hopefully you’ve been getting in some base training miles and are now ready to ramp up the intensity a bit. By the end of this class, you’ll be primed for those early Spring centuries, triathlons or road races. We are currently accepting sign-ups, but hurry, as class size is limited to eight!

– PLUS – Get amazing deals on pre & post VO2 submax tests when you…

Signupnow

Class Summary

Who: For anyone who wants to become a better cyclist (all ability levels welcome)

Instructor: Barrett Brauer, USA Cycling Coach, Certified Spin Instructor

What: Power-based spin class, 8 weeks (16 sessions)

When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jan. 28th – Mar. 20th, 6:30pm – 8:00pm

What To Bring

  1. Your Own Bike
  2. Towel
  3. Everything you would wear on a normal outdoor ride, less helmet
  4. Don’t forget Hydration!

See much more information on our website, here.

 

2014 Giant Defy 1 Redefines “Entry-Level”

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The 2014 Giant Defy 1 is Made from Premium Lightweight Aluminum Tubes and is Produced in Giant’s Own Tubing Facility.

It climbs, corners and sprints better than bikes costing thousands more. How do they do it?

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They start by taking a race inspired frame, and they marry it to components that bring comfort and plushness to the ride.
The frame is made of ALUXX SL-grade Aluminum, and the front fork is a carbon composite, OverDrive aluminum steerer. Having this carbon fork and an oversized  steerer make the bike up to 15% stiffer than straight-steerer frame-and-fork combinations.

Add to that a great road groupset in the Shimano 105 shifters, derailleurs, and brake levers; Tektro TK-R540 brakes (w/ cartridge pads). Also on the Defy Advanced 1 are the Shimano Tiagra 12×28 10 speed cassette, and the Shimano FC-R565 50×34 Crankset.

Wheels are a complete package using Giant’s proprietary brand on rims (P-R2), bearings (24/28h), and tires (P-R3, 700x23c). The rims are double walled, bearings have sealed hubs, and the wheelset has DT Swiss Competition butted spokes.

defy_advanced_1_0The 2013 Giant Defy Advanced 1 received great reviews from Mensfitness.com, saying that it is one of Ten Best Road Bikes For Serious Cyclists:

“Giant’s composite technology for bikes is so innovative that they also make parts for aerospace and Formula 1 crafts. The Defy Advanced 1, like all other models, is made in-house, from a strand of carbon fiber thread to a complete bike. It also features Giant’s more upright “endurance position” for maximum comfort regardless of riding style. That means you’ll crush tough climbs, fast sprints, and gruelling miles all on a single trusty steed.”