Archive for March, 2014

Be Courteous, Not Correct

police-249x300[1]Any cyclist who has ever ridden in a group ride has heard something like this during the pre-ride talk:

“Stay single file, stop at traffic signals, obey the rules of the road – the police are out in force today!”

Every group rider should be obeying the rules of the road at all times and remain single file. It’s a shame we have to have this discussion. It’s a shame that we have to have this discussion over and over. And it’s a damn shame that we’re often having this discussion with the same riders over and over! And it’s also a shame that local police are constantly barking warnings at us over megaphones or, worse, issuing tickets.

But let’s face the facts here:

  1. The police have a very real obligation to oversee public safety, and getting us to follow the rules is absolutely meant to keep everyone safe.
  2. As a collective, road cyclists have a terrible history of bad behavior. Your group may ride the most obedient ride in the world, but you are still part of a collective that gets a bad rap because of a few bad apples.
  3. Drivers despise us. Like it or not.
  4. Motor vehicles will kill us. Doesn’t matter who broke the law – get hit by a car and you may be dead. Hard to argue your case from the grave.

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here, but these are some realities of the road cyclist. However, we can mitigate these issues by, first and foremost, following the rules. Let’s all just start there. Follow the rules. Period. And you can find article after article about group riding ettiquette and road rules. This post isn’t going to rehash those points.

Instead, this is about a pet peeve of mine – when the PoPo bark at our group and we’re actually following the rules. I was really ticked off a few weeks ago when I was leading a group ride through a town center and the group was obeying all the rules. We were “taking the lane” because there was no shoulder and near the curb were tire-swallowing drain covers (and potholes.) I was pretty ticked off for the rest of the ride; although I was happy that we didn’t get a ticket.

After thinking about this encounter further I have shifted my viewpoint. It’s sad that this officer seems to hold a grudge toward cyclists, but my anger in response would only make matters worse. I’ve decided that it’s critical for us to “be courteous, not correct.” If the police pull us over to warn us or give us a ticket, there’s no good that will come in arguing with them. In fact, debating a police officer is likely to just get someone into more trouble than they were in to start. But being courteous, friendly and respectful can really change the dynamic. See, the officer is likely expecting an encounter, so being friendly and respectful catches them off guard. Further, it sets the example that we’re really trying to follow the rules and we’re most interested in safety, not taking over the road to make drivers (and police) miserable. Maybe the next time that same officer won’t feel bitter towards cyclists.

Maybe this is wishful thinking, but it’s a better approach than arguing with the police and getting a ticket when it may have started with just a warning. And as road cyclists we’re all out there trying to enjoy the miles – taking the high road will make everyone enjoy those remaining miles.

First Impression: Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX

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GFNY Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX

Selle San Marco is the saddle sponsor of Gran Fondo NY and there have been two branded models available in the past: Concor and Mantra. The Concor is a nice saddle, but in the GFNY branding, it doesn’t have a cutout, so I never gave this model a try and I went with the Mantra instead.

 

Quick note on personal preferences… There are a lot of decisions in selecting cycling components and gear that can be done through scientific means. But there are just as many decisions that can be very personal rather than logical. If you ask me, there’s nothing more personal than selecting a saddle. Despite pages and pages of reviews and specifications, what works great for me may not work for you. I, for example, have determined that I very much prefer a cutout. I know plenty of great riders that will never select a cutout. And with that out of the way…

 

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GFNY Selle San Marco Mantra Racing

I’ve been riding the Mantra for a couple of months and a few hundred miles. It’s a terrific saddle for sure, but it just hasn’t been perfect for me. It seems that I’m just rubbing the corners (the portion that “hangs down” where is says San Marco in green in this photo) just enough to create a bit of discomfort on longer rides. And if I continued to ride this saddle I’d likely find that there’s no discomfort after few hundred more miles and I’d love this saddle.

 

But we’ve all got options, so why not try them out?

 

 

Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX Test Saddle

Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX Test Saddle

Yesterday I put a Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon Open FX test saddle on my GFNY De Rosa Protos to give it a try. I’ll be honest, I didn’t have high hopes. Why? Because this saddle is quite narrow and all the “professional advice” I’d gotten was that I needed a slightly wider saddle. It’s actually quite hard to pinpoint precisely where an individual’s ischial tuberosities (sit or sitz bones) are without getting quite intimate with said individual. And because these are not only on said individual’s back side, but also “underneath” if you will, self inspection can only go so far. Even with precise measurement, there are all sorts of angles and pressures at play based on the rest of the your body that make the requirements of each individual very, ‘er, individual. There’s really only one way to pick a saddle – TEST SOME!

 

So with nothing to lose but some comfort, I gave this narrow saddle a try. As I first mounted my ride and began moving forward, it was hard not to notice just how narrow this saddle is under my body. However, I never felt like it was too small and I very quickly forgot I was riding a new saddle. After about 15-miles I stopped at a traffic light and only when I was standing on the ground with the saddle nudged against my backside did I remember to give some thought to the saddle. It suddenly dawned on me – I was super comfortable on this saddle! The fact that I completely forgot about it speaks volumes!

 

I rode another 15-miles and for this portion of the ride I really tested the saddle. The length and shape provide excellent support whether my hips were rolled way forward for a tuck, or way back for a leisurely climb. Leaning side to side was also very comfortable, but for the opposite reason – less saddle “hanging down” to make contact with awkward parts of my anatomy. I also tested it over some wonderfully bumpy New York City streets. Well, no road saddle will win any awards in this category and I’ll continue to get out of the saddle in these situations. But I will say that it was no worse than my previous saddles and it felt like a sturdier surface than its truly narrow frame.

 

Granted this was only one 30-mile ride, but, WOW, I was really impressed! I’ll continue to ride this test saddle for a few weeks to be sure, but I think Selle San Marco has provided me with a real winner in the Aspide Carbon Open FX and I can’t wait to get the flat black GFNY branded version mounted on my ride. (Sorry, but the test pattern keeps reminding me of TRON.)

 

Anyone riding the Gruppo Sportivo GFNY Sunday training rides – come find me and I can lend you one of these test saddles. Or, like I said, it’s personal, so you can try the Concor or Mantra as well.