South from Dana Point/San Clemente hills: https://www.strava.com/activities/1548142204
South from Dana Point to Las Pulgas- flat/coastal: https://www.strava.com/activities/585447942
Laguna Niguel/Dana Point climbs: https://www.strava.com/athletes/408629
Newport Coast/Shady Canyon Loop: https://www.strava.com/activities/402103875
Santiago Canyon, Live Oak Canyon, Silverado Canyon: https://www.strava.com/activities/583537272
Laguna Beach Climbs- amazing views: https://www.strava.com/activities/784510328
San Gabriel mountain/Glendora Mountain Road to Hwy 39 to Crystal Lake: https://www.strava.com/activities/98155429
Mount Baldy ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/39266087
Swami’s ride from Encinitas: https://www.mapmyride.com/us/encinitas-ca/swami-s-saturday-ride-route-63844274
Rancho Palos Verdes ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/220287131
Simi Valley/Thousand Oaks/Santa Monica Ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/99133843
Some bikes are just special, but not for the reasons you may think. They may not be made of the latest and greatest material and they may not have the newest, best components. Sometimes, certain bikes just fit right and just ride right, and you and that bike do rides that you remember, unlike other bikes that you’ve ridden. Bikes like this join you on adventures.
My Davidson custom steel bike is just such a bike. It was built in 1998 with Reynolds 853/753, and originally was painted navy blue with white panels outlined in orange pinstripes with the Davidson lettering in orange. The original fork was a Look carbon fork painted to match (and that fork was noodly as hell). I’ve ridden this bike a lot. More miles than any other bike I’ve ever owned.
This bike bears the scars of being ridden. I cracked the rear stay and had to have it replaced which is why it is has a different paint job now. At that time, I replaced the fork and it was painted to match as well. This is the bike I was riding when I was car doored and I separated my shoulder and fractured part of my shoulder blade. The bike was okay, but the fork took a hit and needed to be replaced, so now it sports the bare carbon model shown. The paint bears countless scratches from times when I dropped the chain, or that time when I snapped my chain and went down really hard, or that time when my wheels came out from under me in a wet corner on a descent.
I’ve ridden this bike on more double centuries than any other I’ve owned. It’s surprisingly comfortable for rides of that distance. I’ve done countless brevets on this bike, riding through the day and into the night and into the next morning. One night on a brevet, I nearly fell asleep while riding this bike, and after a short nap (off the bike in an old schoolhouse), I remember shivering so hard from the cold I could barely keep the bike on the road. Later, we rode near a farm that had what appeared to be camels in it’s pasture. To this day, I’m not sure if that was real or the result of so many hours on the bike.
I’ve commuted on this bike and I’ve even raced it a few times. I’ve dodged turkeys and pygmy goats on this bike. I’ve been chased by cows and countless dogs on this bike. One morning I had a squirrel hit my wheel and, thankfully, bounce off. This is the bike I was riding the day before I proposed to my wife (while carrying the engagement ring because I didn’t want to leave it at the hotel). This is the bike I was riding on the morning of 9/11/2001 when I learned of the attacks. You could say this bike and I have a history together.
Sometimes, I scavenge this poor bike for parts for my other bikes, and I hang the partially assembled bike from a hook and leave it there. Sometimes for a year or more. The downside to being a cyclist is that newer bikes always come along that seem to promise this wonder ride quality. More stiff, more compliant, less weight….Then, something makes me put the Davidson back together and ride it. Every time that happens, I wonder why I stopped riding it. It rides so nicely. It fits me so well. It brings back the memories of all the other great rides we’ve done together. Well, it’s back together now, and I plan on riding it for a while. It may not always be my daily rider, but I’ll never get rid of it, either. Too many memories.
Since we started our business, we have gotten calls for bike rentals in the greater Los Angeles area. Up until now, we have had to charge an additional fee for serving those areas. It was simply too long a drive and too far outside our normal service area to serve without charging for the extra time and mileage.
We are extremely excited to announce that as of the week of May 26th, 2014, we have officially begun to serve the greater Los Angeles area, along with our other service areas of Orange and San Diego Counties. In doing so, we will offer our same great service, along with FREE delivery and pick up within our normal standard service area. Our new service area will be an approximate 30 mile radius from Santa Monica.
To reserve your bike or contact us, check out our designated Los Angeles page. If you use our fillable forms, simply use the pull down menu to specify the area you are interested in. Otherwise, feel free to call us directly. Don’t worry about getting it wrong. We’ll gladly direct you if you’re not sure about what area to choose from the menu!
Greg Donovan will be the day to day manager/owner of Synaptic Cycles Bicycle Rentals in Los Angeles. He has been working hard behind the scenes to learn the business and get set up and ready to go. He will be starting out with incredible road bikes from Focus and Volagi. His Focus offerings will be the Focus Cayo Evo 2.0 with full Ultegra DI2 drivetrain. Additionally, he’ll have several Volagi Liscio 2 bikes with Ultegra 11 speed mechanical or DI2.
Greg approached me around the end of 2013 with a desire to partner up in the Synaptic Cycles venture. He was a former customer and a great guy so I though it would be worth exploring. Since then, he has worked with me to see how I go about the day to day business, attended the United Bicycle Institute courses to learn more about bike mechanics, and shown a willingness and desire to serve customers in a way that our customers have come to expect.
Along with individual bike rentals, Greg will be offering group and corporate event services, just like in our original service area of Orange County and San Diego County. Please, help me welcome Greg to the Synaptic Cycles family and get in touch with him about your bike rental needs in the greater Los Angeles area!
As someone who runs a high-end road bike rental company, I am often asked where to ride while my customers are in town. For some areas, this is a very easy question to answer while other areas pose problems. Not all areas have large numbers of rides easily accessible from the hotel where a customer is staying. Fortunately, most of San Diego County, especially the north county, has thousands of bike rides that are accessible from your doorstep.
One local club, the North County Cycle Club (NCCC), rides the roads of the north county of San Diego all the time with occasional trips up to south Orange County through Camp Pendleton. Someone with the club has put together an incredible resource for cyclists that allows you to search for San Diego County bike rides based upon your start site. It can be found here: http://bike.fullcommitment.net/.
The best part of this link is that it provides you with a map of San Diego County with potential start sites highlighted in red. Click on the red dot and you can see a list of rides from that spot. Click on the ride link and you’ll find a small map of the ride. Click on the “view full route” link and you’ll get a larger map and printable cue sheet.
Other resources for rides can be found here: http://socalcycling.com/training-rides/. Here, you’ll find a list of regularly scheduled training or group rides that are a lot of fun, especially if you want to find a more competitive ride.
Having grown up in the north county of San Diego, I can be a bit biased. I feel that for the sheer number and variety of bike rides, it’s pretty difficult to beat this are for riding on the road. Though some roads are high traffic, there are plenty of wide bike lanes, and it’s pretty easy to find lower traffic areas to ride, as well.
Two years ago, the company helped out with a fundraiser for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Santa Ana. Every year, the club has a “Christmas at the Club” event where local kids can come and choose a gift for Christmas. The company had helped in securing and building 100 bikes for the giveaway. My oldest son, Quinn, and I volunteered to help out during the event. Once everything was set up in the gym, our job was to greet the kids at the door and help them in choosing their one gift. This was important because the club doesn’t allow the parents to go in with the kids. They don’t want the parents influencing their choices.
When we arrived early that morning, we were surprised to see the line of kids waiting at the door. We were pretty certain that many of them had been there overnight, hoping to get the best pick of what was inside. As the kids waited at the door, you could see them straining to see what was inside. I was amazed at how patiently they waited their turn. Very few of the first 100 or so kids through the door looked at the other toys in the gym, instead they went straight to the bicycles.
The second kid I greeted at the door was a 12 year old boy. I can’t remember his name, but I remember his face and his demeanor. He didn’t smile much. He was very serious and a bit stoic. He came inside and, like most of the others, went straight to the bikes. Oddly, he chose a nice purple girls bike with glittery tassels coming out the handlebar grips and a princess faceplate attached to the handlebars. He sat on it, smiling and checking it over, and I wasn’t sure what to think. I told him that we have plenty of boys bikes still available, but he just shook his head. “That’s okay.” he said, “I’m getting this for my sister. She’s going to love it!” It just blew me away that a kid, with a chance to pick only one gift for himself, chose something for his sister. We had a lot of fun that day, but this is my only REAL memory of that day.
Historically, there had always been a number of bikes given away at the event, but the number of bikes donated for gifts had begun to dwindle over the years. A friend of ours, Bobby Schwartz, had been involved with the event and had decided he wanted to increase the number of bikes for the kids that year. Bobby had a target of 100 bikes and we helped to set him up with someone who could get boys and girls bikes for the event and managed to get some other donated items to go with them. Bobby even found someone to donate 100 brand new helmets to go with the bikes. Together, we also managed to put together a group of volunteers who showed up the week before the event and helped unpackage and build the bikes. Above, you can see what 100 newly built bikes looks like.
By now, you know I’m going to ask for money. This is a fundraiser that is a complete no-brainer.This is a fundraiser to help others get on bikes! Donations go directly toward the purchase of bikes for kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Ana. Any extra money will be donated directly to the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Ana to support its community programs. Please, go to the fundraiser page and support this great program. Any amount you can afford to give will be gladly accepted. The fundraiser page can be found here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/BobbySchwarz/bikes-for-bucks.
We occasionally run into products that we just plain love. Every product from the Sock Guy that we’ve tried thus far has been fantastic. Here, we wanted to give you a quickie Sock Guy SGX socks review.
According to the Sock Guy website:
“SGX socks are designed with the elite athlete in mind and feature our exclusive Elite Performance Formula. The new SGX sock line provides a compression fit, performance ribbing, enhanced ventilation and a reduced friction profile. These socks feel great, look great, and with SockGuy’s signature Stretch-to-Fit sizing and reinforced toe & heel, SGX socks perform like no other. Guaranteed to be the most comfortable performance socks you’ll ever wear.”
While we’re not sure what they mean by “elite athlete”, we can honestly say that these socks are great for the non-elite among us, as well.
First and foremost, the material is thin without feeling flimsy. Since many cyclists do not like thick, bulky socks, this is a good thing. The second thing you notice about the fit of these socks is the compression fit. They don’t feel constricting, just a bit of compression. They simply feel great on your foot. You can feel the nice, even compression over your entire foot.
Though the effects of compression on your foot might be debatable, the one effect that it has here is that it gives these socks an exceptionally close fit to the foot. There’s not much chance that this sock will bunch up and create hot spots during exercise. Additionally, the toe seams lie flat and don’t irritate or rub like some socks can. This is especially important for me as a scar on the top of my foot seems to get irritated easily for poorly placed toe seams.
Sock Guy indicates that these socks have enhanced ventilation and reduced friction profiles. This does seem to be the case. I wear these socks on a daily basis while riding, running, coaching soccer, running errands, you name it. I have done a lot while wearing these socks and have yet to develop a blister while wearing them or have my foot be clammy upon removal of the sock. They do everything that the company has indicated and more!
While just making a sock that has all these characteristics would be quite the feat (no pun intended!), Sock Guy offers their socks in a number of different flavors. They have an incredible array of designs and offer their socks in a broad range of cuff lengths, from no cuff to 3″ to 5″ and all the way up to knee high. So, if these socks become your favorites, you’ll have plenty to choose from!
We offer these socks in our online shop (http://synaptic-cycles-shop.myshopify.com/collections/cycling-clothing) so you may think we’re a bit biased, but that’s not the case. If you see us out and about, we will generally be wearing these socks (except with flip flops, not a good look!). We love them or we wouldn’t sell them. Give them a try. We think they’ll become your favorites, too. If you’d like to see other options made available, let us know and we’ll see if we can get some in stock. If you’re not interested in socks, and just want to hop onto a bike in OC/San Diego or Los Angeles, please contact us ASAP!
A recent heat spell while coaching my kids soccer team got me thinking about hydration issues, and led to thoughts on hydration while cycling. As most soccer parents know, parents often “thoughtfully” bring gatorade to games and practice so their kids can stay hydrated. Most days, this is not much of a problem unless it gets hot and the kids sweat a lot more than usual during practices and games. I kept finding that my sons would get home after practices and games and would start complaining of headaches and sometimes a bit of nausea. It seemed that they were drinking plenty at practice and games, but it still wasn’t enough.
I was able to put a stop to a lot of this after putting a lot of thought into my own hydration issues while cycling. Cycling in the heat for long periods of time can deplete you over time as you sweat. Unfortunately, it’s not just water that’s lost. It’s electrolytes, as well. So, how do you deal with this?
First and foremost, you have to hydrate BEFORE you exercise. This does not mean that you should chug a gallon of water immediately before you go out and exercise. It means that you should be be drinking enough throughout the day, every day, to keep yourself adequately hydrated. Think of this as pre-hydration. Just drink enough water throughout the day and many of the issues with dehydration can be avoided.
Now, when you’re working pretty hard, you sweat. Sweat is salty. Your sweat contains the electrolytes sodium and potassium. A liter of sweat contains a whopping 800 mg of sodium (~50% of your daily intake of sodium), but less that 150-200 mg of potassium (~2.5% of your daily intake). Over the course of an hour of exercise, you can sweat a liter or more. Now, consider what happens when exercising for several hours. You’re losing a lot of water and a lot of sodium, and over time a lot of potassium.
Now, let’s take a look at the staple of sports hydration everywhere, Gatorade. In an 8 oz. serving of gatorade, in addition to water, you get 110 mg of sodium and 30 mg of potassium. You also get some sugar and some nice dye. Is this enough? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a sports drink should contain 125-175 mg of sodium / 8 fl. oz. and 20-48 mg of potassium / 8 fl. oz.
Gatorade gets you close, but not close enough. There’s more than enough potassium in Gatorade, but the levels of sodium are not high enough to replenish the amount of sodium that’s being lost. This is especially true when you consider that many people dilute their gatorade with water because it’s too sweet to drink while riding your bike. So, if you use gatorade for hydration, you might want to dilute it so it’s drinkable and then add some table salt to up the sodium content.
During long days on the bike, I have experimented with several electrolyte replacement methods. A few electrolyte replacement drinks that have worked quite well for me are Nuun and Camelbak Elixir. Both have enough sodium and potassium to satisfy the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations. As a side benefit, they also have no real caloric content, which allows me to better regulate caloric uptake while riding.
Now, everyone is different. Some people sweat less than others. Some people’s sweat contains more or less electrolytes than others, so your experiences might differ. I know several people who do just fine with diluted Gatorade without adding salt. This post is really aimed at people who are more sensitive to hydration differences and especially to those who deplete themselves of electrolytes during exercise.
So, back to my kids soccer exploits. I put my own findings to the test for them. Making them drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially the few hours leading up to their practices and games helps out a lot. I also give them a 24 oz. water bottle of Nuun to take with them and drink during these times. I also make sure they hydrate with more water for several hours afterward. When I keep them on top of their hydration, they avoid the post-game dehydration headaches and feel better during their games, as well.
As I started working on this post, I came acoss a great write up on Hydration Myths written by John Hughes. John Hughes is the former director of the UltraMarathon Cycling Association and editor of UltraCycling, and he has been certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a personal trainer and by USA Cycling as a coach. Much of what I spoke about is supported by what he wrote. You can read his article here.
We have been a Volagi dealer for over a year now. As a road bike rental company, our model has been to demo bikes such as the Volagi Liscio, renting them to customers before they spend their hard-earned money on a new bike. Here, we take a look at one of our brand new Volagi Liscio demos.
A few weeks back, we took delivery of a brand new Volagi Liscio 2 with the new Ultegra 11 speed group and the TRP Hy/Rd Hydraulic disc brakes. We’ve always loved pulling the new Volagi bikes out of the box, and the new Liscio 2, with internal cable routing throughout, has a nice, clean look.
We ordered this newest bike with the new Shimano Ultegra 11 speed drivetrain and the new TRP Hy/Rd hydraulic disc brakes. The end result is a stunningly beautiful and functional bike. The white on black colorway with red trim inside the fork and rear stays is really complemented by the finish of the Ultegra gruppo.
The Ultegra 11 crankset has the same, new 4-arm design as Dura Ace, and it allows standard or compact gearing without having to purchase new crankarms. This simplifies things greatly and allows for easy conversion should you decide to change up your front-end gearing.
The TRP Hy/Rd hydraulic brakes are cable-actuated and have the hydraulic reservoir built into the calipers, allowing for the use of standard brake levers. The braking feel is similar to that of rim brakes, but provide much better stopping power. This will be especially noticeable to riders who lack hand grip or have smaller hands.
This cable-actuated hydraulic brake system also has some side benefits over full hydraulic systems. This system doesn’t require special hydraulic brake levers. Given the ugliness of the new hydraulic road levers, this is a big benefit! Additionally, you don’t have to worry about hydraulic lines running the length of the bike, and it also negates the chance of losing your brakes after a crash when your levers get take a big hit. Also, should this happen, it’ll be much cheaper to replace a standard cable-actuated lever than a hydraulic lever.
The brakes feature pads that move independently and provide strong, noise-free braking. For some of our repeat customers who have ridden the mechanical disc-equipped Volagis, this is a game changer. Most have commented on the fact that the brakes feel “normal” but have greater stopping power.
So how does all this go together? The Ultegra 11 speed group is amazingly swift shifting, with a very light feel at the lever, compared to previous versions of Ultegra. This is immediately apparent in the repair stand and on the road. The movement from one gear to the next is fast and crisp. Front shifting is simply amazing! The trickle down from the Dura Ace 9000 mechanical group is apparent. Coupled with the new Hy/Rd brake system, these bikes are a dream to ride – great shifting, coupled with great braking. Add in the plush ride of the Volagi frameset and you have a bike that you’ll want to be riding all day long.
If you’d like to do a Volagi Liscio demo, give us a call (949-374-6079). You can read more about our demo process and how it works here (http://synapticcycles.com/calfee-and-volagi-demo-bikes/).
This is a follow-up to the earlier bike tire review where I gave my initial impressions of the Grand Bois Cerf tire.
Okay, I wasn’t sure about the switch to these tires. I am a bit of a fuddy duddy when it comes to tires. I tend to ultimately stick to tires I’ve used in the past even though I occasionally try (waste my money on) other tires. Most often, I end up on Continental Grand Prix 4000s or Ultra Races or Vredestein Fortezza Tri-Comps. Everything else that I’ve tried up to now feels slower or doesn’t corner well. There was the time where some Avocet FastGrips took me down on a slick road at 35 mph. Then there’s the sluggish ride of the Specialized Roubaix tires (unless you pump them up to ungodly pressures, but then what’s the point in riding a higher volume tire?). Anyway, you get the point.
Now, I’ve come to the Grand Bois Cerf Green Label (28C width). They are puffy, measuring slight wider than it’s stated size of 28C (28.2mm on my DT Swiss RR 1.1s), pumped up to about 95 psi. They roll quietly and comfortably, absorbing quite a bit of the road shock. They take the edge off expansion gaps and roads that have small rises in the pavement due to underground roots. This is great, but there’s always a trade-off in speed, right? Wrong.
On three separate rides when I first got them, they have proven to be faster. On my first commute on them, I easily managed a bit over 17mph round trip when I had been working pretty hard to go 16mph round trip. On a 32 mile ride over the weekend, I rode 18mph over a 32 mile course that I usually have to work hard to stay over 17.5mph. Then, this morning I just flew in to work, getting here about 5 minutes faster than average. Granted this is a small sample, but it indicates why I may have found a new “go-to” tire.
I now have completed a few years of riding on these tires. Lately, I have been mounting them up the HED Jet 4 rims or the HED Ardennes wheels. These rims are the newer 23mm width rims. When these tires are mounted on these rims, the wider rim allows the tire to “round out” , providing a nice round profile. Shown on the right is the GB Cerf mounted on the HED Jet 4. It’s difficult to see, but the tire is nice and round when mounted on this rim (See the picture on the right). The Ardennes imparts the same profile to the tire. I have completed multiple double centuries on these tires and have found them to perform well. Fast and comfortable!
For those who want to know about the actual width of these tires, you can see in the next picture, that the tire measures just over 29mm when mounted on the HED wheels.
It should be noted that most newer bikes will not accept tires this width unless specifically built to accept larger tires. For example, one of my racing bikes has an Easton EC90 fork. The Cerf Green Label does not fit into this fork, Fortunately, the Grand Bois Cerf Blue Label (26C) tire measures out at ~27mm wide on the HED rims and fits just fine, giving a nice round profile as well.
So, if you’ve read this far, you’re likely wondering why you’d want to try these. First, my experience with these tires indicates that they are actually faster than most other tires that I have tried. Second, they are higher volume tires. This means that tire pressures can be lowered without giving up speed. I weigh 185lbs and I typically ride mine at 85psi rear/80psi front, and this provides a very comfortable ride without any reduction in speed. Third, their nice, round profile when mounted seems to make them much more predictable in corners. This is a subjective thing, but I feel much more confident during hard cornering on these tires than I do on most other tires.
Okay, negatives? Well, some claim that these tires are prone to flats. While I have flatted on them, I have not noticed them to be especially flat-prone. Though, if you tend to ride on glass-strewn or thorn-covered roads, these might not be the tires for you. If you tend to be careful about what you ride over and check your tires for debris after ride, you will probably do fine on this tire.
You can buy them here on(http://www.compasscycle.com/tires.html). Please, note that I have no skin in this game. I don’t sell these tires and don’t get any money or freebies from Jan Heine or Compass Cycle.
This is bike tire review that I pulled off another blog I write. I was reminded of it when out for a ride on these tires and was telling another rider about how well they rode.
When I walked in the door last night, there was a package waiting for me containing two brand new Grand Bois Cerf tires. I had been trying to decide between the Challenge Paris-Roubaix (700X27C) and the Grand Bois Cerf (700X28C). A survey of some people who had tried both seemed to indicate that the GB Cerf might be a little less susceptible to flats resulting from glass, which was what tipped me toward the GB Cerf. Given that there has been a lot of interest in the tire lately, I thought I’d write up a small bike tire review.
Jan Heine (of Vintage Bicycle Quarterly and the importer of the Grand Bois tires) was kind enough to answer some of my questions and gave me a brief rundown on widths of some of the tires (measured on a Mavic MA-2 Rim):
Grand Bois Cerf 28 mm: 28.5 mm actual
Challenge Paris-Roubaix 27 mm: 29 mm actual
Grand Bois Hetre 30 mm: 31.5 mm actual
This was helpful as the bike they’d be going on was built to accept up to 30C tires and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t purchase a tire that I could not use. As it turns out, there was plenty of room:
The rubber on the GBs seemed quite sticky coming out of the package and the beads were tight. It took a bit of hand strength to get the GBs onto my DT Swiss RR 1.1 rims. I was able to get them mounted without the use of tools but it took a little bit of grunting and cursing. Okay, maybe a lot of grunting and cursing. I think this was due to the “stickiness” of the tire. It seemed to really grab the rim sidewall as I was trying to muscle the bead into place. Much different from the other tires I normally use.
Once mounted, I pumped them up to around 95 psi and then went looking for my calipers. At first measure, they were 27mm wide. I went and measured my Jack Brown Green labels from Rivendell (33.3mm on a Mavic Open Pro-how did Grant do that?!!!) and my 25C Conti GP4000s (25mm on an Open Pro). I waited a bit and then re-measured the GBs and found that they had plumped a bit over time (to around 28.2mm).
I was pleased to find that they had a nice round profile once mounted as well. The Grand Bois were replacing some Specialized Roubaix Pro II tires (the ones with the 25C casing and the 23C tread; measure 26mm wide on the DT Swiss rim), which seemed squarish when mounted. I hoped that the rounder profile would provide a bit of a nicer transition when cornering and might give the ride a bit more plushness as well.
The first ride came this morning on my commute. It’s hard to say from one cold morning commute, but the tires were definitely more compliant than the Specialized tires they replaced, making the ride much more comfortable, in general. They felt faster and seemed to hold in corners nicely, as well. I find that the Specialized tires seem to feel sluggish at lower pressures and only feel fast around 115 psi. This seems to correlate with my commute times as well. Unlike the Specialized tires, the GBs felt fast at 95 psi while still taking the edge off the imperfections of the road surface. I’ll have to ride them more and play with tire pressure a bit to dial them in, but I’m really impressed so far with the ride of the GB tires. After I’ve ridden them a bit more, I’ll report more on my impressions.
You can purchase these through Jan Heine’s online shop: http://www.compasscycle.com/tires.html