Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bike Review: 2003 Cannondale CAAD5 "Nashbar Special" After 14 Years

CAAD5 in 2017, on Tano del Norte Road, with Sangre de Cristos in the background

 Out of a bit of a miff that Patrick O'Grady is always reviewing new bikes, I decided that it was time to review the oldest bike in my fleet: the 2003 Cannondale CAAD5.

I bought the CAAD5 as a frameset in 2003 from New Mexico Bike N Sport (callout to Tony and the gang!) and transferred a Campy Chorus 8 speed setup to that bike from a previous Cannondale that I brought from Hawai'i. That Hawai'i bike, I think a Cannonball 2.8, did a lot of miles including my first Red River Century ride in the fall of 2002 shortly after we moved here from Paradise and I got over the shock of going from sea level to living at seven thousand feet. But I chafed for a new ride, especially after wrecking the beautiful eggplant color in a spaz attack with a rock wall in Hawai'i, and sprung for the CAAD5. Soon the CAAD5 was upgraded to a Chorus 10 speed setup in honor of the climbing here and having worn out the shifters. With a better CAAD tubeset and carbon fork (and Campy headset) the ride was greatly improved.

In 2005 I upgraded to a Six Thirteen, in part due to a lower back injury that resulted in me wanting a more compliant frame with a slightly bigger frameset; the Six-Thirteen is 52 cm instead of the CAAD5's 50.  The carbon tubes did the trick as well in their ability to damp down vibration. I swapped most of the Campy parts over from the CAAD5 to the carbon bike, leaving the CAAD5 temporarily sitting as a frameset. That did not last long.

Current drivetrain

The aluminum bike was soon rebuilt with the benefit of frequent visits to the clearance pages on the Bike Nashbar web site and after an email session with Lennard Zinn, who talked me into the virtue of compact cranksets. The FSA Energy 50-34 crank was purchased from Lennard, who, by the way, grew up in BombTown. The rest of the drivetrain is a mismash of Ultegra 9 Speed, the FSA crank, and a compact front derailleur from the Excel catalog. Wheelset shown above is Mavic Open Pro hoops laced 3x, 32 double butted DT spokes, to an Ultegra rear hub and believe it or not, a Shimano 600 front hub that I bought as part of a wheelset from a racing teammate in Hawaii back in the earely 1990's. I retired the sewups on the old wheels and kept that 600 front hub, lacing it to this wheelset. The rear cassette seen here is a 13-30 9 speed Sheldon Brown Century Special (holy shit, the price has sure gone up). A recent photo (below) shows the bike shod with a set of Shimano paired spoke wheels. Brakes are circa dozen year old 105's that stop the bike just fine. Brifting is courtesy of Dura Ace 9 speed brifters that were a Nashbar closeout. Tires on these hoops are 700-25 Vittoria Open Corsa CX while on the Shimano paired spoke examples are 700-23 Michelin Pro Service Corsa tires, servicable although ancient. Handlebars are Nashbar 44cm examples locked down with a Richey WCS stem. The bars look a little wide on such a squat bike but I have a wide set of shoulders in spite of being a runt. Blame my Sicilian ancestors.

CAAD5 with paired spoke wheels

Each generation of Cannondales rode better than the last and I have been riding them since the original Black Boneshaker of 1985. The CAAD5 suits me just fine, as does the Six Thirteen. The aluminum bike is what they call stiff yet compliant, largely defined in terms of wheel compliance. The Shimano paired spoke wheels give it a stiff and almost scary-nervous ride on twisty, chipseal descents while the traditional three cross Mavic wheels shown in the first photo give it a very compliant but efficient ride. With traditional rims the bike tracks excellently. I was distracted yesterday looking for where to take those pictures and suddenly noted I was about to ride into a sharp, steep downhill right turning curve. A quick shift of weight and flick on the bars and I recovered my line, avoiding the dreaded oncoming lane. My main problem with the deep profile Shimano rims is they tend to "rudder" the bike a bit and that can be annoying in crosswinds or high speed, sinuous descents.

I really like this bike and rode it a lot this year with the stem riser that I added back in 2005 after suffering a disk herniation. The added height on the handlebars came in handy this year after major shoulder surgery that left me uncomfortable on the deeper drop of the Six-Thirteen. The ride has not deteriorated over time. Maybe I just don't know what I am missing with the new stuff.

The bottom line is that bikes are not disposable or for that matter, easily made  obsolescent except for crappy companies that don't support their past parts lines. This bike is a dear friend and will likely last me a long time. It flies up and over the hills and mountains of Santa Fe and Los Alamos as well as I can manage given this old set of bones and descends like a rocket if I want to do that too. These old Cannonballs can still carry me as far as I want in a day. I know the bike companies want to sell me more stuff, but they had better come up with a better reason to get me to part with dead presidents or I will keep riding this old stuff. After all, I am old stuff too.

105 brakeset

Back when Cannondales were made in USA
No, you don't have to stand, damn it.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Comments Set to Moderation

An asshole (or asshole-bot) has been bombing this blog with spam. I have set comments to moderation and am trying to report the URL to Blogger. Until then, comments are on moderation so readers are not subjected to a steady stream of links to porn sites, fly by night huckster stuff, etc. Sorry.

Monday, September 25, 2017

First Fall Weekend

Continuing on the last post's topic, I almost got nailed twice by lousy drivers. In the morning, a young woman came careening down the street and didn't slow down as we crossed in a crosswalk with the dog, but instead sped around us missing by a few feet. For the lack of a baggie of dogshit...

Then a hiker almost turned left in front of me as I descended Camp May Road, stopping halfway as I maneuvered around his large car. People need to take safety seriously.

Otherwise, aside from a bit of wind on the first Sunday of fall, all was lovely.

Aspen starting to turn

To the top, with the "new" wheelset and a 12-28 cassette/compact crank

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Its All the Dead Pedestrian's Fault, Right? Wrong.

From Patrick O'Grady/ 
with occasional permission
  I sent a vastly shorter version of this tome as an email to Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Tripp Stelnicki last night. The New Mexican article, which puts the onus of ped fatalities primarily on pedestrian error (drunkenness, jaywalking, stepping out in front of cars) seems to have been written after consulting with the usual suspects, and is to some degree the equivalent of the "single witness suicide swerve" that we bicyclists are used to dealing with, i.e., the dead pedestrian never gets to give his or her side of the story. The other "blame the victim" analogy that comes to mind is "he wasn't wearing a helmet" (even if the hapless bicyclist dies of blunt force chest trauma). I don't blame Tripp for this institutional myopia (Tripp is a fine reporter) but I sure do have a bone to pick with UNM and the various traffic "experts". I've done a bit of editing on reproducing the email here. Not much though. There is a bike waiting to be ridden.

Hi Tripp

Gotta get to sleep but just read this: "Danger Afoot for Pedestrians in Santa Fe".

I think we are missing something here. Sure, people drink and walk in cities. We know that is a problem. Thank God they are on foot rather than driving. But there is an elephant in the room, although you briefly touch on it. That elephant is road design.

Three of those four "high dead ped" roads (St. Francis, St. Michaels, Cerrillos) are wide and fast arterials. With recent construction, DOT just made Cerrillos practically wide enough to turn an aircraft carrier and it is posted 40 mph. Even if one is sober, crossing those wide, fast multilane streets (where crosswalks are often far between) is a challenge.

Urban speed kills, which is why many European cities adopting the Vision Zero traffic safety paradigm typically drop city traffic speed limits to 25 mph or lower on streets where there are lots of pedestrians afoot.  The rough rule of thumb is that at 20 mph most peds hit by a car will survive and at 40 mph most get scraped off the road by the morgue truck. So, those wide and fast arterials you speak of are NOT safe for pedestrians because a mistake is going to be gruesome, if not fatal, and as we know, people make mistakes. The Vision Zero concept says that we expect mistakes and design the engineering to minimize the damage those mistakes will cause. Some references to impact speed vs. lethality here and here.

Afterthought added this morning. To some degree, crossing a "stroad" as a pedestrian is a high hazard activity, somewhat akin to working with Plutonium in a nuclear facility (something I did for years as a professional, Ph.D. level scientist). You design hazard mitigation so a mistake is not fatal. A single motorist or pedestrian mistake on a 40+ mph stroad can easily be fatal. If we treated nuclear facilities like we treated roads, then Plutonium workers would be working on tabletops, directly handing radioactive material rather than working on it through gloveboxes.

There was a mention in the article about midblock crossings where traffic signals at intersections are few and far between. One thing we found in Honolulu back in the nineties was that adding midblock crossings on multilane urban arterials was getting older folks hit by cars as motorists could be screened by adjacent traffic and not see a person starting into the street. But that was before HAWK systems (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK beacon). So that might work well now but it would require HAWK systems and having tried to get DOT to install one up here was the proverbial Land War in Asia.

Up here in Bombtown, Central Avenue has been our main shopping area prior to the Smiths Marketplace. We wanted to slow traffic down from 35 mph. While I was on the Transportation Board we re-engineered the street by narrowing it and adding bulbouts and many ped amenities. We dropped the posted speed to 25 mph and the 85th percentile speed is actually lower than that. Motorists have that extra time to pick up a pedestrian setting foot into the street, which is another benefit. Design works. So even if we have an incident, it is a low speed incident and the survivability is statistically and in terms of the physics, better. That hazard reduction (lowering speed limits, cutting the curb to curb distances a pedestrian has to traverse) are Vision Zero concepts.

My wife crossed Santa Fe's St. Francis Drive ONCE, and only once, at Alamo Drive, just as St. Francis enters town, in broad daylight to walk from the house to Albertson's and nearly died from fright. She will never do that again. Its considerably better to cross St. Francis at Crucitas/Paseo de Peralta as motorists have finally slowed down after flying down that long hill into town at 50-60 mph and finally cutting the afterburners. It is a longer walk.

 Google the Strong Towns web site and read about "stroads", which are a mismatch of designs that try to put rural road traffic speeds and throughput onto wide urban streets. Those engineers and planners you speak with will admit under torture that their designs are primarily to move as many cars as possible (optimize motor vehicle level of service) and the stuff they throw in for ped improvements are designed, as you say in the article, to impede "traffic", i.e. motor traffic, as little as possible. So of course people jaywalk. At foot speeds who wants to walk a mile for that Camel if the store is across the street (and I wonder if that guy in the ad would walk that mile if he had to cross Cerillos Road)? In the case of the article, if a homeless shelter (where we know substance abuse and mental illness might be problems) is across the "stroad" from a bus stop, what the hell do we think will happen?

I wonder sometimes what we would think if it were not drunks down on their luck getting killed. Perhaps we need to kill a few high profile people if we are to get something changed. Any volunteers from City Council, the NMDOT, or Santa Fe Institute? The cop who hit and killed the unlucky Francisco Navarette was fined eighty bucks for doing 52 mph in a 40 zone. Of course he could not avoid the crash. He was probably going too fast to avoid Mr. Navarette's mistake. A Vision Zero paradigm would have identified this as a likely failure mode scenerio. Alice Sookying Cameron, who was doing everything right when she was hit and killed by someone alleged to be driving while cellular, got a more sympathetic treatment. She was a corporate VP for accounting.

The bottom line is that it there is no one obvious and affordable fix to this mess, and too many conflicting interests to have a simple answer. It is practically impossible to design a city with both superwide, fast arterials to channel traffic swiftly and at the same time encourage walking if someone has to cross those streets at grade. And of course, once you build those giant arterials and encourage sprawl, its really tough to put that bad boy back in the bottle. Furthermore, walkability is compromised by sprawl.

Sorry for the prolonged rant, but I guess its my dozen years of T Board service showing.

Khal Spencer, Ph.D., geological sciences
Member/Chair, Los Alamos County Transportation Board  2003-2017, now off the board and speaking for myself.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Standing With Charlottesville at Ashley Pond Tonight

Voices of Los Alamos in conjunction with other local organizations is hosting a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. today at Ashley Pond Park and invites the community to attend in solidarity with Charlottesville.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Situational Awareness and the First Week of School

Next week starts school. Lots of inexperienced students behind the wheel thinking about the First Week, some texting more than driving. Harried parents suddenly realizing that they are running late for work after dropping off Dick and Jane for the first time in months. Did anyone walk Spot? Did Hubby remember his lunch? Even trained drivers can goof, as I describe in this story about my duel with a school bus. You on your bicycle. What to do?

Don't forget to put gas in it
 Well, some will consider parking the bike for a couple weeks in favor of driving the Main Battle Tank to work. Sometimes I don't blame them. For the rest of us, the Five Layers of Safety are especially critical as we ride, shell-shocked by the sudden mass of unskilled traffic, to our destinations. I'll refer you to that NY bike link for the Five Layers and do a little elaboration here.

Situational awareness 
doesn't mean terror
 The most critical (and often overlooked) part of the Five Layers is situational awareness. Without situational awareness, it is hard to stack those layers of safety in your favor. Situational awareness is, to paraphrase this Coast Guard document , the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening around you as you go about your ride and how those elements impact your safety. In addition to that, situational awareness requires you to be able to categorize, think about, and react in a competent manner to unfolding hazards, i.e., it requires active thinking and training on your part. Here is another set of examples from a motorcycle publication.

In one of my other circles, we have the WYOR definition of awareness (with acknowledgement to Mike Grimler) where these letters mean White, Yellow, Orange, and Red. These are as follows: In Condition White, you are off in your own world and blissfully aware of what is going on around you. An example is reading a book with the stereo on at home or sadly, riding through an intersection with the earbuds on and not watching traffic. In Yellow, you are continually scanning and paying attention and watching for hazards. When in traffic, one should never drop below yellow.  In Orange, you have identified a potential hazard and are actively observing the situation and planning a "what if" response. In Red, you have a fully developed hazard on your hands and are required to implement defensive measures that you have hopefully practiced, mentally and actually. For example, executing an emergency stop or quick turn.

As far as the techniques of these bicycle maneuvers, learn them. Unfortunately, as an older and wiser League Cycling Coach once quipped, many people think they learned everything they need to know about bicycling by the fourth grade. Complacency creates danger. As far as situational awareness, I think it is safe to say that next week should find commuter cyclists in a yellow-orange state of alertness given the likelihood of mistakes being made. Try to time your commute for a safer hour if you can or at least be aware of what is around you, do your "what if drills" routinely, and practice, practice, practice. Holler if you want a tutorial. Hopefully you won't need to use it.

Note added in review, motorcyclists too (I land in both camps) have their own serious issues of staying safe in traffic.  Their training can be found with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.