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I'm Back! Let The Indifferent Shrugging Commence.

You'll be thrilled, nonplussed, or indifferent to learn that I'm now back from Portland, having stepped off the redeye mere hours ago and currently fighting off sleep as I type this.  It was a fruitful journey, and while I've visited numerous times now it was the first time I've experienced the city in summer, and the effect was rather beguiling.  The sunny skies and warm temperatures were also conducive to bicycle cycling, and I was able to steal away on more than one occasion astride the Specialized Diverge I rented from River City Bicycles:

The bike served me very well, and in particular the Shimano Tiagra was something of a revelation.  It's the newest Shimano stuff I've used aside from the Di2 on the Renovo, and in addition to having the same lever shape it shifts nearly as well.  It's genuinely hard to see what you gain from more expensive components, except I guess an extra gear--though frankly I can't tell the difference between 10 and 11 speed without counting the cogs.

There was also the exciting moment when the Steel Bridge opened for a passing boat:

And some guy scurried right up the girders:


He then disappeared into a hatch in the roadway above:

Indeed, Portland has some tenacious vagrants.  (Or maybe it was some viral Nike parkour thing, I really have no idea.)

Even more tenacious are the gentrifiers, and I saw not one:

But two luxury bicycle-themed apartment buildings within blocks of each other:

None of which is to say Portland is failing to live up to its reputation; indeed, the dream of the '90s is still alive and well there, especially when it comes to show flyers:

At first glance all the fliers appear identical, but upon closer inspection there are in fact subtle differences:

I find it amazing that there are people who can not only discern these differences but also find significance in them, even though decades ago I myself was one such person.

Anyway, you'd think my now they'd have run out of morbid-sounding similes but clearly they have not.

But of all the things there are to love about Portland, few are more endearing than Bloody Marys with bacon in them:

Thank you, Portland, for your gracious hospitality.  You certainly know how to live.

New Outside Column, Same Great Taste!

Good morning from the Jewel of the Willamette!

I'm just popping in to let you know that my new Outside column is up, and it's about how parking in the bike lane, even briefly, is indeed a big deal:

In fact, between my starting this column and finishing it an Australian tourist in New York City was killed after a livery cab driver pulled into the bike lane in which she was riding, and while I may be a lazy writer that is not the way I like a conclusion to fall into my lap.

Anyway, having fortified myself with a greasy non-artisanal breakfast I will now set forth into the hustle and bustle of this booming metropolis.

Until then,

I remain,

Yada yada,

--Tan Tenovo

The Lap of Luxury

Today's post will be brief as I'm preparing for a short trip out of town.  I'm not telling where I'm going, but let's just say it's a city in Oregon that's the subject of a comedy show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein:

So why am I going to Portland?  (Aw, shit, I just gave it away.)  Well I'd love to say I'm going out there for a lovely relaxing weekend of getting my beard oiled and having stars tattooed on my person, but the reason for my visit is STRICTLY BUSINESS and I'll be working on a piece of ostensible journalism.  Still, Portland really wants me to get a tattoo though:

Jesus, Portland, I'm just trying to book a goddamn hotel!

In other news, you'll be pleased to know I got some Jones time in today:

At this point in my life I sometimes catch myself feeling inadequate: no Nobel Prize yet, I'm still flying commercial, and I'm no closer to owning that second home in St. Barts.  However, every so often I realize I've got it made, because I've got ready access to one luxury of which most cyclists in New York City can merely dream.

That's right, I've got a hose:

And what's even more decadent than having a hose?  Having a hose and barely washing your bikes anyway because you're a lazy dirtbag.

Oh yeah, I'm living the life.

Finally, a new contender has emerged for dorkiest commentator ever, and it's this person who's obsessed with tires:

Unknown said...

Actually Tan, the Paesella is a pretty shitty tire. Kind of surprising coming from a self-proclaimed princess who claims to "feel" 2cm in wheelbase, yet can't tell the difference from a casing that is like iron versus something that doesn't suck.

But keep up yer blather. You amuse me. Like a clown.

August 14, 2018 at 9:12 PM

Jeez, these Jan Heine disciples are really touchy.  Sure, 2cm of wheelbase is meaningless, yet one Panaracer tire sucks whereas a differently-branded Panaracer tire is the be-all end-all of cycling bliss.

Makes sense to me.

By the way, if you don't think 2cm is a lot, here's a test: move any part of your bicycle 2cm from where it is now and tell me if if makes a noticeable difference.

I bet it does.

Crunching the Numbers

Further to yesterday's post, in a fit of extreme dorkitude I delved deeply into the geometry numbers of the Milwaukee and the Renovo to see if they indeed quantified my impressions of how each performed in a race.  Here's the Milwaukee product page:

And here's the Renovo page:

Furthermore, by way of having a full-on Fred racing bike to compare them to, I used a Specialized S-Works Tarmac:

By the way, here's the Milwaukee in its current state, plastic saddle, excessive road grit, and all:

Anyway, here's what I found:
So what is all this supposed to mean?

("'Supposed to mean?'  'Supposed to mean?'")

Well, to me the Milwaukee felt "racier" than the Renovo when putting the hammer down (by which I mean giving it all I had to keep dangling off the back), which I guess makes sense given the reach and stack height.  In this sense the Renovo's aero profile and demeanor are a bit like the spoiler on a Toyota Corolla, whereas the more sedate-looking Milwaukee is indeed the racier of the two.  (Renovo do describe the Aerowood as an "endurance" bike, so there you go.)

Yet as spirited as the Milwaukee is it's got like two centimeters in wheelbase over the S-Works, plus those mid-reach brake calipers, which accounts for the ample tire clearance and competence on those mixed-terrain rides that are so popular with the millennials today.

All of this is to say I'm kind of falling in love with the Milwaukee all over again--though I'm also waiting for the ground to dry out so I can get back out there on the Jones.  Indeed, between the two bikes I'm like 99.9% covered in terms of all my recreational riding (plus the Milwaukee and the Jones together still cost like half what the Renovo does), which is another way of saying I'm like 500% over-biked.

Oh well, what are you gonna do?

I Came, I Saw, I Passed

As a semi-professional blogger it is my duty to review exotic and/or category-defining bicycles.  Exquisite wooden Fred sleds:

Go-anywhere adventure machines:

And of course cutting-edge, disruptive re-imaginings of the road bike itself:

Nevertheless, it's important not to lose sight of the sheer utility that a good old-fashioned reasonably-priced drop-bar bicycle--such as one built upon Milwaukee's road frame--has to offer:

As the workhorse among my vast velocipedal holdings the Milwaukee has served me well in a variety of capacities ranging from mixed-terrain rambler to be-fendered winter trainer.  However, since taking delivery of it in April of 2015 there is one role it has not played, and that is full-on Fred racer.  Oh sure, there was an aborted attempt earlier this summer, in which I got dropped almost immediately:

This time, however, I was determined to give the Milwaukee the passing grade it deserves, so I made some small modifications in order to make it more Fredworthy.  Already having swapped the mountain-style pedals for road-style earlier in the season, I also traded the 28mm Paselas for a pair of tragically unhip 23s--you know, the kid of tires Jan Heine says are slow but really aren't.  I also changed the Brooks Cambum C17 for one of the many plastic saddles I have laying around.  While I have a deep and abiding love for the Cambium, it is also not ideal for high-speed Fred racing for a few reasons: it's a bit wide, it's a bit soft, and when the cotton cover gets wet (it's been raining here pretty much constantly) your Lycra shorts tend to stick to it like Velcro.  

Thusly attired, I entered both myself and the Milwaukee in the velocipeding contest which took place in Brooklyn's Prospect Park this past Saturday, and I'm pleased to report we passed:

Sure, passing involved my sitting limpet-like on the ass-end of the field for the duration of the race, but a pass is a pass, and toiling up front is hopelessly déclassé

So how does the Milwaukee compare to the Renovo, which I've used for pretty much all my other competitive Fred outings this season?  Quite favorably.  Sure, the Di2 shifting is more precise, but I'm also guilty of neglecting the Milwaukee's drivetrain, and a quick tune-up would probably erase much of the gap between them.  (Maintenance is everything: I was getting mis-shifts on the Di2 until replacing the chain recently, so there you go.)  The Milwaukee also has less headtube, which put me in a racier position than the Renovo, and I can't tell you how delightful it was to have a goddamn bottle cage on the downtube.

In all, as a racing bike the Milwaukee left me wanting for very little, and when you consider that when configured as above it costs about a quarter of what the Renovo does in addition to accepting wide tires and fenders (a dry cyclocross race isn't even out of the question, though you'd have to deal with the under-the-top-tube cable routing) it makes for a rather compelling bargain.

Then again it's not terribly difficult to put together a solid racing bicycle: reasonably light and aero wheels will take you most of the way there, and the rest is mostly a matter of rider position.

None of this is to say it doesn't feel really good to parade around on an absurdly fancy bicycle like the Renovo, but it's also not even remotely necessary.

And most remarkable of all, the Milwaukee doesn't have so much as a gram of crabon fiber anywhere on it.