vittoria bike shoes

Vittoria Bike Shoes — 7 Helpful Things to Know

Vittoria Bike Shoes — 7 Helpful Things to Know Thinking about picking up some Vittoria bike shoes? Here’s some helpful “too long didn’t read” info for you. If you want to dive deeper, keep reading past the bullets! They look great! The Boa dial on the Vittoria Viper mountain bike shoe is weak and feels cheap. The fit is much wider than Sidi, so it doesn’t feel like a hungry octopus grabbing my foot. The insert that the cleat screws into stripped immediately. Vittoria fixed the problem with a new pair of shoes. They have a super-aggressive tread — awesome!…

mountain biking in santa cruz

Mountain Biking in Santa Cruz – A Few Thoughts from a Visitor

Mountain Biking in Santa Cruz at a Glance Where to Rent Where to Ride A Few Thoughts on the Rental Bike Where to Refuel Other Fun Stuff to Know about Mountain Biking in Santa Cruz A summer of cycling in Phoenix has really taken its toll on me. I’m just absolutely sick of the heat, the bike infrastructure closures and the drivers (I spend most of my time riding a road bike, at least until fall). An early September trip to Santa Cruz reminded me of why the hell I am so willing to endure desert riding. Mountain biking wasn’t…

It’s Time to Re-Think Walking Against Traffic

Every single time I ride my bike on streets that don’t have sidewalks, I encounter people walking against traffic. This has the effect of pushing me out into traffic that might be overtaking me or coming my way on the opposite side. Even worse, one some less-traveled streets, a walker (or a group of them) will not yield space and force me across the centerline like you see in this video. So Why Are People Walking Against Traffic? Two reasons: 1) It’s actually the law in many places and 2) back in the ol’ timey days when people had to…

Review: Speedplay Comp Pedals

Speedplay Comp Pedals at a Glance $150 +The new cleat is easier to walk in, while giving up nothing while pedaling. +Quality customer service from Speedplay. +Lightweight, lots of float.   -The new cleat seems a little less durable. -Be careful when replacing cleats; not all Speedplay cleats are compatible with all Speedplay pedals.   I put a set of Speedplay road bike pedals on my Lemond Zurich road bike when I bought it in 1999. Those pedals lasted until just before the COVID-19 pandemic, when the bearings seized. The little port for injecting grease was slightly stripped, which spelled…

ktx train

A Trip on the KTX Train in South Korea

The KTX Train at a Glance Originally based on the French TGV. Want to go 190mph? No problem! Super-smooth ride. Cheaper than Amtrak. (This post originally appeared on a train website that is no longer on the Internet.) I rarely get a chance to trail by rail. Aside from the niche Grand Canyon Railway and the very flawed METRO Light Rail, my home state of Arizona has little passenger rail service. Those in power here view anyone interested in rail travel of any sort as a godless, anti-SUV commie. That means I only get the occasional light rail or subway…

black shorts cheap bike shorts

The Black Shorts: The Review That Reveals All

The Black Shorts: The Review That Reveals All Looking for a budget pair of cycling shorts? So was I. Here are some early thoughts on the Black Shorts brought to you by the Black Bibs people. Black Shorts At a Glance Decent price of $40. The chamois reminds me of an old pair of Castellis I had 15 years ago. The Black Shorts seem a bit itchy at first, with a more relaxed fit than my Assos and Bontrager shorts. The first ride was OK, some chafing but nothing terrible.  Time will tell. Watch for updates! UPDATED JULY 13, 2021…

diy titanium anodizng

DIY Titanium Anodizing for Bikes: Helpful Tips to Personalize Your Frame

DIY Titanium Anodizing at a Glance The post will cover: Getting Started — Basic Supplies How to Anodize Titanium the Basic Way What Colors Can You Make? Attempting a Fade Lessons Learned When I bought a titanium mountain bike frame, I had a long list of reasons why I wanted one: Well-built titanium can last a long time. Titanium also has a reputation for excellent ride quality (though tire volume and pressure are also a huge factor, along with good old-fashioned fit. It’s resistant to corrosion. It can be pretty light. It’s just cool! The particular frame I chose was…

verde valley

48 Hours in the Verde Valley

The Verde Valley isn’t exactly one of the big draws for Arizona. If people get anywhere near it, it’s usually because they’re going to Sedona. I’ve lived here for a good long time and have actually never spent a night anywhere in the Verde Valley other than Sedona. That changed recently because my wife ran a 10k race that started in Cottonwood. I wound up liking this trip considerably more than I expected to. There’s a lot to do, even beyond the better-known activities like the wineries and the Verde Canyon Railroad. Here’s what I learned from spending just less…

grand canalscape bike ride

The Best Canals in Phoenix for Riding a Bike

I’m trying to figure out the best canals in Phoenix for riding a bike. We have enough of them – something like 180 miles worth. For a short ride, most of them do the trick nicely. But if you’re trying to pile on the miles and don’t like sitting at stoplights and crossing roads all the time, things get a bit tricky.  I’ve been riding the canals quite a bit over the past few years with help from the handy MAG Bikeways map, but I haven’t checked out everything first-hand. I plan to update this as I ride more of…

cycliq fly12ce

Does the Cycliq Fly 12CE Really Suck That Much?

I’ve been riding with a Cycliq Fly 12CE bike camera for a few years now. When I first got it, Facebook served up a suggestion that I join a Facebook group about Cycliq and its cameras. I did, because it’s always good to know what’s up with your gear. Especially when it’s a niche item like the Fly 12CE — think of it as a dash cam/headlight combo for bikes. It automatically records a loop as you ride, recording 5-minute segments. It can detect a crash, which makes it automatically save two adjacent 5-minute clips. Riders can also manually trigger…

pyramid peak mountain bike trails

What’s Up with the Pyramid Peak Mountain Bike Trails?

The Pyramid Peak mountain bike trails are not in the Top 10 of most-talked-about places to ride in Arizona. Really, probably not in the Top 50. Not appearing on Trailforks.com and having little presence on Strava will do that. I didn’t even know about Pyramid Peak before catching an off-hand reference to it on Facebook. As an East Sider, I rarely get to trails out west (though that’s been changing lately). I’m also hesitant to spend time driving someplace that might not have great trails. But I got tired of wondering what’s out there. Late in April as the temperatures…

Throwback: Three of My Favorite Travel Books

I always like reading books about places where I’ve been and places that I’d like to visit, even if they’re not technically “travel books.” When I reviewed books for a small local magazine, I had the opportunity to read quite a few books that I might not have found otherwise. Some of them were pretty awful, too, which is its own kind of fun. I decided to dig a few of these old reviews out to share here just to switch things up a bit. This involved combing through old emails, and I still haven’t found all the reviews. A…

I’ve Had Way Too Many Hobbies Over the Years

I love hobbies. After all, traveling and mountain biking are the reason I created this blog. Sure, I sometimes write about other things (especially electric cars with increased regularity in recent years). I’ve largely stuck to my main topics. Now, I’d like to drop something in here to frame who’s writing all this stuff. The overall content here will remain focused — this is just a little something to shake it up. I plan to do this more, while still retaining my original focus. Today, I’ll tell you about the other stuff that’s interested me over the years … how…

buying a bike in 2021

I Rode a Singlespeed for 3 Years. Then I Tried Full Suspension Again.

[I originally published this hardtail versus full suspension bike blog post in March of 2020, right when COVID-19 started to hit. It just got a major update. Read on for the fun!] I’ve been riding a singlespeed mountain bike for the last three years. During that time, my 2011 Santa Cruz Superlight sat in the garage doing absolutely nothing. A recent ride with a friend made me wonder what would happen if I: Pulled the Santa Cruz out of deep storage and ran a lap on my local bike/equipment test track. Rode the same on a modern slack-angled full-suspension bike….

brown's ranch

7 Things to Know about Mountain Biking at Brown’s Ranch

Brown’s Ranch Mountain Biking at a Glance Four Trailheads More than 165 miles of trails Well-constructed trails Endless Options eBikes are Not Allowed.  Watch for hikers, horses and wildlife If you want to start a great argument, ask mountain bikers from the Phoenix area to name their favorite trail network. There will be shouts of “South Mountain” and “Hawes” accompanied by cursing. For me, though, it’s Brown’s Ranch, hands down. I can already hear everyone warming up to tell me that I’m wrong. That’s fine. The points I’m about to lay out here will tell you why I like the…

EV versus gas

EV Versus Gas SUV: The Numbers Don’t Lie

EV Versus Gas SUV: By the Numbers 2016 Subaru Forester: Holds 534 kilowatt hours of energy. About 464 miles of range. That’s .868 miles per kWh. 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV: Holds 40 kWh of energy. About 144 miles of range. That’s 3.6 miles per kWh of energy. I am going to lay out some information about electric cars in a way you probably haven’t seen before. There are two cars in my household: One is a 2016 Subaru Forester (base engine with a continuous variable transmission). It’s all-wheel-drive like all Subaru vehicles. It’s rock-solid in rain and snow. The other…

fanxipan express

Two Nights on the Fanxipan Express

[I originally wrote this as a guest post for a website that no longer exists. I’m republishing it to preserve one of my more interesting travel experiences.] Vietnam taught me one important lesson: For every blazing-fast maglev train or smooth-riding KTX or futuristic Japanese bullet train, there’s a Fanxipan Express. I experienced an overnight trip from Hanoi to Lao Cai and back during my two-week stay in Vietnam. The bottom line – the Fanxipan Express sways its way along the tracks, creaking and lurching … but there’s arguably no better way to get to Lao Cai and then onto the…

Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

Mountain Biking the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

I rarely ever get out to the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. It’s one of the newer bits of municipal open space in Phoenix, but it’s a bit far from me. Last time I was here, it was also shorter on mileage than I’d like. In February of 2021, I went back for another look. This time, there were trails south of the major road that leads to the trailhead. I consulted Trailforks and formed a plan of attack with a goal of at least 20 miles. Let’s walk through it to see what you need to know. Busy at the Parking…

Prescott Circle Trail

5 Important Types of Bike Accessories for New Cyclists

A Roundup of Bike Accessories At a Glance Bike accessories can be just as important as the shiny new bike you’re buying. Here’s a quick breakdown of the categories we’ll cover. Keep scrolling for all the details! –Stuff to Wear When You Ride –Hydration Supplies and On-Bike Storage –You Break It, You Fix It –Electronics and Safety Gear –Other Bike Accessories You Might Need You’ve spent tons of time test riding bikes, asking questions, reading and generally obsessing over getting your first good bike. You’re ready to make your decision and you’re glad that’s all over. Except it’s not. There’s…

How to Buy a Full-Suspension Bike – 2021

How to Buy a Full-Suspension Bike at a Glance Try Rental Bikes Get Familiar With Geometry Think About Frame Material Don’t Obsess About Parts Considerations with Buying Direct Pick the Right Bike Shop One of my co-workers is looking for a new bike, and he asked me for some pointers about how to buy a full-suspension bike. He just moved to a neighborhood near some nice, rough, rocky singletrack – and he wants something more modern and well-equipped than his 10-year-old Diamondback hardtail. So what should he look at? I have some ideas. And I know exactly what you’re thinking…

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