Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘bike racing’

Sea Otter sheds the jinx?

In Bicycling, Mountain Biking on April 15, 2009 at 2:00 pm

It looks like the Sea Otter Classic may finally have shed its age-old jinx. For years it didn’t matter what the Sea Otter producers did, you could count on one thing: The weather would suck.

The first couple of days would be pouring rain. Freezing riders would slog through mud the likes of peanut butter crossed with molasses. Then the skies would part and be cloudy or clear, but still unruly. Finally on the last day, or maybe for Saturday and Sunday, the sun would come out and quickly bake the ground back to hardpan, and a decent race day or so would ensue.

Sponsors tried moving the date of the event earlier, then later, then back to its traditional mid-March slate. Nothing worked. It was as though the gods were toying with the traditional cycling season kickoff and its thousands of attendees: Sorry, you can run but you cannot hide.

The saying became, “If it didn’t rain the first two days, it wouldn’t be Sea Otter.”

But behold the 2009 version of the Classic. Perhaps sympathizing with sponsors facing a sagging economy, bankrupt bike makers and brutal retail numbers, the gods are smiling. Forecasts call for sunshine throughout, with spectacular weather for the big Saturday and Sunday schedule.

Or maybe moving to mid-April did the trick. In any case, it’s a good thing, because attendance predictions have Sea Otter producers harboring high expectations.

It will be a bit cooler than usual, in the mid-60s rather than the normal 70s, but racers are not going to complain about that. As for any Seattleites like me visiting the Classic, mid-60s feels like July to our winter-battered souls.

Electronic Gear Shifting: Good idea?

In Bicycle Commuting on February 14, 2009 at 9:57 am

The New York Times takes a look at the latest electronic shifting iteration, from Shimano. Couple of interesting points: Time trialists can shift without changing position on the bars. But there is no manual override if the system fails.

The article does not discuss weight or crash-worthiness, but Wired had this from an unidentified source: “According to the company, Di2 will be 67 grams lighter than the current Dura-Ace 7800 and only 68 grams heavier than Dura-Ace 7900, the snazzy forthcoming 2009 suite of parts.” Not a huge weight differential, except in racing. But the drawbacks of e-shifting, including battery failure, may keep most of us away, especially given the premium ($4,000).

Also no comment on crashing. E-thingies tend to be a lot more fragile than their mech counterparts. That may not be so much a factor in racing, but for real-life use it could be make or break (so to speak!). As far as Bike Intelligencer‘s first love, mountain biking goes, um, let’s just say an e-future isn’t in the cards any time soon.

It’ll be fun to try the system at some of the upcoming bike shows.