Sep 012014
 

Sad news of the death of Victor Stenger.

He was a big influence on me, particularly with respect to clarifying that science is a methodology of explaining observations, an explanation of reality through analysis of evidence, and that this encompasses all phenomena whatever their classification, be they so-called “supernatural” phenomena or other. In order words, the concept of “non overlapping magistaria” is a pile of crock.

Stenger’s book “God: The Failed Hypothesis” is one of those books that everyone should. A real classic.

My new road bike

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Aug 032014
 

I purchased a new road bike earlier last month. A Boardman Elite SLS 9.2.

_DSC4067

It’s very light and is fitted with Shimano Ultegra 6800 wheels, gears and brakes. Boardman call this a “sportive” bike in that the geometry is a bit more relaxed compared to a pure racer, and the rear is a little more compliant, so is relatively comfortable and suitable for road endurance cycling; these were the main factors in helping me to choose the new bike. Here’s Chris Boardman himself talking about the SLS platform:

It’s been a great bike so far, but having come from the mountain biking side of cycling, I’m still trying to get used to riding in the drops. Riding on the hoods are not a problem except that I need to learn how press the brake handles a little bit harder; a proper bike fitting is really required. I’ve also swapped out the tyres to 25mm Schwalbe One tyres which have held up well (no punctures!) even with gravel off-road cycling. Yes, this bike is doing fine.

Aug 012014
 

I’ve been mountain biking for a while, but have recently bought a road bicycle to use on those those trips that increasingly entail significant road travel. I had tried to use my existing mountain bike helmet for road cycling but I found that it was not ideal in this role; the helmet is relatively heavy compared to road helmets, it has a visor that can get in the way when in the road cycling position forcing you to crane your neck upwards (especially when in the drops), and the colour is rather low key which can make it difficult for other road users to notice you.

So I decided to get a new helmet specifically for road cycling. And here it is: light, bright and visor-less! A Kask Mojito.

_DSC4110_DxO_a

Jul 122014
 

Whilst recently researching the suitability of tubeless tyres for road bicycles, I came across Schwalbe’s document “Technical Info – Bicycle Tires”. This is the latest version direct from their website, and appears to have been written no later than 2011. It’s a very useful document but this bit from the manual caught my eye:

Why are tubeless tires only available for mountain bikes?
In offroad terrain, tubeless systems offer a clear advantage. Tires can be operated with lower inflation pressures, which improves the grip and the rolling characteristics. On the other hand, on road, a high inflation pressure is an advantage and the current tubeless system, as found in MTB’s is unsuitable for high pressure. Pressures above 4 bar would blow the tire off the rim.

There have been numerous attempts to offer suitable high-pressure tubeless tires and rims for racing bikes. Such tires are very hard to fit because the tolerances of both rim and tire must be extremely accurate in order to achieve an airtight fit. Because there are no apparent advantages, we do not see much sense, nor a future, for such systems.

Of course, Schwalbe do now offer tubeless tyres for road bicycles; I use the Schwalbe “One” tubeless on my road bike! Their website describing the Schwalbe “One” tubeless technology says:

tubeless-roadTubeless.

There are hardly any tubeless tires for racing bikes. In practice, however, this system offers outstanding benefits. The rolling resistance is noticeably lower than with conventional folding and tubular tires because this system minimizes friction losses. At the same time tubeless systems are extremely safe and a sudden loss of air is almost impossible. There are no longer any tubes that can overheat and burst. A puncture protection liquid seals punctures within tenths of a second.

Now it would be easy to laugh at Schwalbe, but it’s a good sign that companies are always looking at technology and the market. It was probably Hutchinson’s success with road bicycle tubeless tyres that caused Schwalbe to do a re-think. It may perhaps have been better if Schwalbe had worded their original pre-2011 statement along the lines that current technologies do not appear to be suitable but that Schwalbe were actively involved in research.

Jul 122014
 

I’m more of a weekend-warrior mountain biker but, recently, I decided to try road cycling to complement the mountain biking. So last week I purchased a fairly decent road bike. After the first few rides on the heavily potholed roads around here I was sorely missing the comforts that a full suspension mountain bike provides!

I have a two-pronged approach to increasing comfort on the road bike:

  • Phase 1: go tubeless using lower tire pressures (with puncture resistance benefits too).
  • Phase 2: purchase a new seatpost to take the buzz out of riding on rough roads.

Phase 1 was completed today!

The road bike came with Shimano Ultegra wheels; these can be run in a fully tubeless configuration if needed. There’s no need for any rim tape as the rim bed is solid with no spoke holes; kinda like the Mavic UST rims for mountain bikes.

To configure the wheels to run tubeless, I used the following:

  1. Schwalbe One tubeless tyres (700x25C) for front and rear (bought new).
  2. Stan’s NoTubes Universal 44mm Tubeless Road Valve Stem pair (bought new).
  3. Stan’s NoTubes sealant (I already had some for using on my mountain bikes).
  4. Schwalbe “Easy Fit” tyre mounting fluid (bought new).
  5. Stan’s NoTubes valve core remover (I already had this for the mountain bikes).
  6. Stan’s NoTubes sealant injector (I already had this for the mountain bikes).
  7. Lezyne floor pump.

Now, I’ve seen videos, and read of people in forums, who have had the most difficult time in trying to mount a tubeless tyre to an Ultegra wheel; way too tight! Shimano warn not to use tyre levers on the Ultegra wheels, probably because the rim may get damaged or warped, but these people were getting desperate and some had resorted to tyre levers.

With that in mind, I soldered on pretty confident that I could overcome any difficulties. Starting on the front wheel, I installed Stan’s NoTubes valve stem. Following that, I applied Easy Fit liquid to the tyre beads and the rim. Starting opposite the valve, I installed the tyre onto the rim making sure that the tyre bead was sitting in the centre of the well. Getting the last bit of tyre onto the wheel was a little bit difficult but it took me only around 20-30 seconds to do it, and certainly not using any of the extreme efforts that I’d seen on YouTube, and definitely not using any tyre levers! The Easy Fit liquid certainly helped, but you could probably use soapy water as an alternative (it’s what I do for my mountain bike tubeless configuration).

And then one more application of “Easy Fit” to the tyre bead and also to the inside of the rims to allow for easy inflation. Using my floor pump I had the tyre pop into the rim walls in seconds, and I took the tyre pressure to 100 psi. The rear tyre went on just as easily.

Making sure that both tyres had popped correctly, I deflated both tyres, removed the valve cores, and added 30 ml of Stan’s sealant into each tyre using the injector tool. Re-inserting the valve cores I re-inflated the tyres, this time to 80 psi. I’ll experiment over the next few days to determine the optimal pressures for me (speed vs comfort).
Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Note that Schwalbe recommend the use of their own Schwalbe “Doc Blue”sealant in the first instance but they do also unreservedly recommend Stan’s sealant (both are made by Stan’s NoTubes!).

This tubeless malarkey on road tyres/wheels was not hard to do, especially if you use a proper tubeless wheel. The application of preparation and technique, both finely honed from my mountain biking tubeless experiences, allowed me to feel confident that I could overcome any challenges and not panic; brute force is not the way to go.

Once the 25mm Schwalbe One tyres are worn out, I might try the 28mm version. If I can run it at the same pressures as the current 25mm then I should have lower rolling resistance giving me a larger comfort/speed envelope.

These are the specs for Scwalbe One tyre that I’ve installed:

Size: ETRTO 25-622 (Franz.Bez. 700x25C)
Typ: Folding
Compound: OneStar
Execution: Tubeless
Color: Black
Skin: Lite
Weight: 340 g (12 oz)
Pressure: 5.00 – 8.00 Bar (70 – 115 psi)
Maximum load: 70 kg
EPI: 127
Article number: 11700024
EAN: 4026495718226
Tube: 15, 20

Jul 112014
 

LinkedIn and Pulse announced that Pulse was acquired by LinkedIn quite a while ago. For whatever reason, the Pulse webpage continues generating the following pop-up message even after dismissing the message and restarting the browser:

Pulse is part of LinkedIn. Your continued use means you agree to our integrated LinkedIn Terms of Service.

This message is getting quite tiring now. Luckily the message can be blocked (at least in Firefox) using the Adblock Plus plugin to block the following item:

http://www.pulse.me/static/js/pulse_notice.js

with this filter:

||pulse.me/static/js/pulse_notice.js

or by blocking the following item:

http://www.pulse.me/static/css/pulse_notice.css

with this filter:

||pulse.me/static/css/pulse_notice.css

Not sure which one is more elegant, but removing the JavaScript would be my preference.

Brilliant!

Jun 122014
 

I recently came across Hans Rosling’s Gapminder. This site has some of the best statistics, videos and other resources that provide realistic representations of global population growth, life expectancy, health, wealth, etc. In the last couple of days it has certainly displaced quite a few myths that I was harbouring. Gapminder has also reinforced my optimism for our future. Certainly challenges remain, but we are an adaptable and intelligent species.

This is a good Gapminder video to get you started!

Gapminder is at http://www.gapminder.org/

Casio Pro Trek

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Jun 072014
 

I’ve just bought a Casio Pro Trek watch. Not too expensive, looks robust enough, with some nice features.

Casio Pro Trek watch

I’ll probably use it mostly whilst mountain biking and also on travels.

Jun 072014
 

This sketch was inspired by my visit to Taungthaman Lake, Amarapura, Myanmar (Burma). There are quite a few boats on the lake to ferry people around, but I imagine most are for sightseeing U Bein Bridge.

Hand-sketched on A4 paper using charcoal and chalk, and then coloured over.

Oarsman