Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bike Dork: Behind Bars

While I was diverted from my usual route today with a trip to Vidiots on Pico. My ride home was as usual until I reached Dockweiler Beach. The same area where I "fell" a few weeks back. I knew something was up as I had received a call before I left work from my boss Bill warning me not to take the beach route, and that everything was messed up trying to get south of the airport. It was all could do but retain my smugness when I said "yeah thanks for the heads up, but I am on my bike today"… So, when I got to the parking lots at Dockwieler and noticed the police and police tape and news crews up on Vista Del Mar. I was all like, "hmmm". Then I over heard one of the news guys saying something about gang activity and observed a bunch of young men, in the south parking lot, lined up alongside cop cars, hands behind their backs.

Now it has been windy as of late along the coast of Santa Monica Bay. Very windy. When the wind blows a good 35- 50 mph out of the west - northwest we get sand drifting across the bike path.

I am not complaining; this is just what happens, and if you ride, you deal with it. Along some stretches of bikepath you ride for a half mile or so of 1/2 inch to 5 inches sand on the path. Past 5 inches for a few yards, I think you have to get off and walk your bike.

Because of this sand I have been looping up past the entrance shack and cutting through the RV campground to avoid a heavily drifted section of bikepath.

This is now a crime scene. There are people in their RVs doing what ever it is they do as they "camp" in their boxes. There are cyclist down on the path. There are people all over the place; it's LA there are a lot of people here trust me. As I loop along, two LAPD officers with their car blocking the road are like: "Hey you can't go here." (even though there are a ton of people going there already). And I am all like skidding to a stop and and saying: "Great, you want me to take Vista Del Mar (insanely fast and narrow 4 lanes of shoulder-less cycling horror) so you will have an actual dead body to deal with?!" Not only am I a bike dork, I am a dramatic bike dork. Cop shrugged, "Yeah what ever…"

This of course brings me to what is really on my mind: my new handlebars.

While at the time of the beach gang riot, I was still riding these svelte bars untaped, they are as of yesterday, taped and shellacked and looking good. Why you might ask did the dork spring for new handlebars, and what was wrong with the "old" ones. Well you may ask.

To me handlebars, and seat (or saddle in bike dork-ies) are the two most important parts on your bike. Funny as they are most often an afterthought with cranks and wheels seeming to get a lot of attention. After all the seat is where you put your butt, and handlebars where you put your hands; two of the most sensitive areas of the body.

The bars I had been riding since I built the sonic flyer where as far as I can tell original to the bike. Alloy "Randonier" style marked Sake Randoner SR.

This is a handlebar designed for touring that splay out wider in the drop section of the bar. They are very comfortable, allowing one to ride deep in the drop without rubbing your forearms against the top curve of the bar. While I like these bars, I found that because of the bike frame size I was stretching a bit far out in the drop position, and also when riding with my hands on the brake hoods. So for example in heavily trafficked sections of my ride, when I wanted to have my hands close to the brakes, I was also sort stretched out with my neck crooked up. Not awful, just not so great.

My new bars are "Portuer" bars from Velo Orange. They had them made after an old French front cargo bike design. I find them to be very comfy. I positioned my Campy style brake leavers out on the front curve of the bars creating a second hand position. I feel like these bars have set me free… ah yeah kinda dorkish

1 comment:

  1. Happy for you. Will take a moment and look at your blog. Got your link from VO. You might want to see what bars have set me free. Go to
    domotion2011.wordpress for pics of my prototype handlebars. REV2 modification and Detroit Bar.