Tres Cafe Alley Cat Potential Route...

The shortest distance between two points is just over that there hill...

Click the link for a bikely.com route map I compiled...you may have to zoom the map in a few clicks to actually see the 'purple route line'
14 miles


Alley Cat Prize List Addition

The Alley Cat is jumpin' and the prize list has just had a huge addition. Local fixed gear rider and messenger bag manufacturer Courtland Bibb has graciously offered a messenger bag to the quickest rider on a fixed gear.
Here's a link to a pic of one of his bags.
This prize will be for the straight best time on a fixed gear- no time bonuses will be added for extra coffee purchases. If you want this quality bag made right here in the 'ham- you're going to have to earn it.

Tres Cafe's Alley Cat Map

View Larger Map


Volunteers needed

For the upcoming alleycat to be a success, we need a few volunteers to man the sign in stations at the coffee shops. The time commitment is fairly short- an hour and a half at most. Give Mike a call at the shop if you are willing to help out.


So let it be written, so let it be done...

The Tres Cafés Alley Cat & Cookout has been scheduled for Saturday, March 8th. Mark your calendars boys and girls, this event will not be one to miss. Stops include the following independent coffee shops: Crestwood Coffee, Urban Standard and O'Henry's in Homewood.
Several people have been asking about the exact nature of an alleycat. Here is a description of the format. At registration, entrants get a playing card and a map with the location of the three coffee shops marked. The Le Mans start is scheduled for 11:00. Riders pick their own route. That's right. This is a thinking cyclist's event. Pick your poison. You can climb early or climb late, but you'll be climbing one way or the other. If you do this ride fixed, and the purists will, then gear selection may determine the winner. Using the playing card, entrants will sign in with the race volunteer at each stop. A coffee of the rider’s choice MUST be purchased at least one shop. Get it “to go” because you must bring the cup back to BBC. Time bonuses will be given for extra coffee purchases. The first rider back to BBC in each division wins. Awards three deep per division. Cookout to follow.
Full details are available in the race flyer, follow this link...www.bhambicycle.com/blogfiles/trescafeflyer.doc


Bike Furniture

Do you like Brooks saddles? Yeah...they're heavy and the first 300 miles are like riding a 2x4 with wheels. Oh, and if it gets wet, it becomes heavy expensive trash. If broken in and taken care of correctly, there is no saddle more comfortable!
Soooo...why not make a couch out of a whole mess of Brooks saddles?


NAHBS 2008 Pictures

NAHBS Picture Journal off the Alex Wetmore Blog
I think this is the fourth year for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. 


New Bike Day...

We have all been waiting to see this one roll in! Kelly just took delivery one of the lightest mountain bikes out there, a Scott Scale Limited. It weighs a ridiculous 18lbs as pictured!!! Starting with a Scott CR1 HMX carbon frame and seatmast. Parts include DT Swiss's newest entries into the off road market, the XRC 100 RL carbon legged fork and 190 ceramic disc hubs. The bike is also outfitted with SRAM X-0 shifters/rear derailleur, Magura Marta SL brakes, Truvativ Noir carbon crank and the super cool Scott Pilot SL one piece carbon bar stem combo. I can't wait to see it covered in dirt. Happy trails and happy new bike day!


Now there is no excuse to mis-pronounce all those fancy I-talian words often found on bikes and parts...this link came to me from Sorrell Chew...




Urban Standard signs on as stop in Tres Cafés Alleycat and Cookout!

Urban Standard Coffee Shop, located at 2320 2nd Ave. North in downtown Birmingham has signed on as a stop on the Saturday, March 8th Tres Cafés Alleycat and Cookout.
Urban Standard serves locally roasted Primavera coffees and is open Monday through Saturday. Read more about them here http://birminghamblackbird.wordpress.com/ or here http://bhamweekly.com/archive_article.php?article_id=569&issue_id=91&vol=11.
The Le Mans start for the alleycat will be at 11:00 am. More details to follow.


Alleycat anyone?

A few folks have asked about organizing an alleycat. Drop me a line if you're interested in any of the following: 1)planning, 2)organizing, 3)volunteering and 4)racing.
Remember, without some people willing to do the first three items on the list, no one gets to do the last thing on the list.


Gear inches and ratios demystified

Track bikes are simple beasts aren’t they? The have one chain ring up front, one cog in the back and the bike moves when you pedal, even if that pedaling is backwards. They don’t even have brakes. When you want to stop, you stop pedaling. It couldn’t be much simpler.
Then someone starts talking gear inches or gear ratios and things get a lot more confusing. Hopefully, we can clear up some of this confusion.
The gear ratio of a fixed gear bicycle, or for any single gear on a multiple geared bicycle for that matter, is found by dividing the number of teeth on the cog into the number of teeth on the chain ring. Many fixed gear bicycles come with a 48 tooth chain ring and a 16 tooth cog. Forty-eight divided by 16 is three. This gear combination is expressed as 1:3. This is the same ratio for a 51 tooth chain ring and a 17 tooth cog, 51/17=3. Now that we know the gear ratio number, what does that tell us?
Gear ratios tell us several things. One is the relative difficulty of that particular gear combination. A 1:3 gear ratio takes more force to turn the cranks than a 1:2.53 gear ratio, a 48 tooth chain ring with an 18 tooth cog.
With a fixed gear, proper gear selection is crucial. You can’t shift to an easier gear when it gets hard. You can’t even coast for a second to catch your breath. If your gear is too big, you won’t make it up some of the climbs around Birmingham. If it’s too small, you won’t be able to keep up with the group on Lakeshore Dr. Descending on a small gear is an art unto itself. Since the gear is “fixed”, the faster the bicycle moves, the faster the pedals go round and round, round and round.
Most fixed gear riders use the term gear inches as often as gear ratio. If you know the ratio, multiply that number (3 in the case of our 48x16), by 27 to get 81.0 gear inches. Why 27? Twenty-seven is the “standard” for the diameter in inches of the rear wheel of a modern fixed gear bike. In all actuality, rear wheel diameters vary because of different tire sizes mounted on the rim. If you want the exact value, measure the diameter of your rear wheel and multiply the ratio number by that. Twenty-seven is an easy round number though and easy to use and remember. Comparing various gear inches measurements is the same as comparing gear ratios. Bigger numbers take more “oomph” to pedal, but can move the bike faster on a flat surface.
Multiply your gear inch measurement by pi(3.14) and you’ll have the distance your bicycle will move in one revolution of the cranks. This number will be expressed in inches. Divide it by 12 to find the number of feet you’ll move in that pedal revolution. Dividing by 39 instead of 12 will yield the European standard “metre development.” This measures the same thing, but in metres instead of inches or feet.


Shallow drop bars for fixed gear...

Track bikes were designed with one purpose in mind: going very, very fast for relatively short distances while making left hand turns. Function dictated form. Speed was the primary concern. Comfort was not part of the equation. As a result, many fixie riders find riding in the drops too uncomfortable to do for very long. These people spend the entire ride with their hands on the tops of the bars. They are comfortable, but have lost a great deal of control over the bike, as well as a lot of their power. They also have the aerodynamic profile of a Jeep Wrangler.
FSA has introduced a handful of compact handlebars to its lineup which should help fixed gear riders who want to be more comfortable while riding in the drops. The compact FSA bars all feature a 20 mm shallower drop of 125 mm and a 10 mm shorter reach of 80 mm, as compared to the standard drop and reach of all models. The compact FSA bars have almost a full inch shallower drop than any of Nitto’s track specific bar offerings. The Japanese company’s “shallow drop” bar, the B 125 AA, has a 150 mm drop while its deepest bar, the B 123 AA, has a 175 mm drop.
The two aluminum bars, the Omega and Wing Pro have 31.8 mm clamping areas and are available in even widths form 38 to 44 mm. The carbon models, the K Wing, K Force and SL-K, share the 31.8 clamping area with their metallic cousins, but are not available in 38 cm. All of the compact bars slightly flare in the drops and are measured at the center of the bar ends. This means the bar will be a good centimeter or narrower at the bends. Plan on getting a bar at least one size larger than normal.
The nice thing about the flared drops is it will help alleviate one big issue with using road bars on the track- your forearms will be less likely to hit the tops of the bar when you are sprinting.
For the fashion conscious, the Wing Pro is available in white.

Welcome to the Velodrome!

Those who have ridden Atlanta's Dick Lane Velodrome will be pleased to hear there is some winter maintenance planned that may have a huge impact on the track's racing surface.
A concrete grinder has been rented and will be applied to the back stretch this weekend in an effort to smooth out some of the bumps on what has come to be known as the "Paris-Roubaix of velodromes."
Those who have some time, and an extra tank of gas, can volunteer this Sunday, February 9 from 9:00 to 3:00. Those with no grinder expertise can sign up for leaf raking duty- no prior experience required. Anyone with a modicum of technical knowledge may volunteer to help do some nuts and bolts type work on the boards.
Adult certification classes have been scheduled for March 1st and 2nd. Remember - this course is required if you'd like to race on the track during the season. Junior training is ongoing and is held each Sunday from 3:00-4:30.

Find more info, check out the track's website at http://www.dicklanevelodrome.com/.


R.I.P. Sheldon Brown.

The cycling world has lost a great ambassador. Noted internet cycling guru Sheldon Brown recently passed away at 63. A veritable font of knowledge, Brown could, and would, quote arcane cycling information such as the seatpost diameter of a 60's Carlton commuter or the proper BB spindle length needed for a fixed gear conversion on a late 70's Gitane road bike. His personal website at http://sheldonbrown.com/home.html will provide you with hours of cycling related reading. Rest in peace...

Team Barloworld's new ride...

The new Bianchi 928 Carbon T-Cube will be in the public's eye as the historic company makes its return to the top level of the professional peloton with Team Barloworld. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown heads off for the hills with a Campagnolo-equipped sample on the roads near the company's headquarters. Bianchi Product Manager Angelo Lecchi and Product Department Manager Lars Svalin announced just three months ago that Bianchi would be replacing Cannondale as the official bike supplier to Barloworld after a one-year hiatus from the uppermost tier of the sport. Read more...