Bike Doctor Frederick’s 4th Annual X-mas Lights Ride

Ha! The 4th Annual Bike Doctor Frederick Xmas Lights ride in downtown Frederick is fast approaching.

Who: You and 100 other riders. Kids who can easily pedal 4 miles can come along, if they have lights and a helmet.
Where: Baker Park Bell Tower, next to the Armory.
When: 7:30 sharp, or earlier by a bit. It’s cold, no one likes hanging around for stragglers
What is it?: A X-mas lights viewing ride around Frederick City. A few miles, casual pace, mostly flat. We ride as a big group, no one gets spit off the back.
What do I bring: A bike, a rear blinky light or enough battery powered xmas lights that you dont need a blinkie. Gotta decorate your bike. BRING A LOCK, if you are coming to the post ride hang out at Firestones.
The Competition: We’ll be giving out good prizes for the top 3 decorated bikes. Employees can’t compete, so don’t worry about that. Any December holiday counts, so do whatever you want on that front. The bigger, the better. Last year we had someone toting an actual tree around, a snoopy mobile, bikes with ornaments, bikes made up like giant sparkling reindeer… photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.526507777367752.126464.359366150748583&type=3
Post Ride Party thing (21+): Firestones on Market Street.

Still have questions: Email us at bikedrfrederick (at) gmail (dot) com

Here’s the deal: We ride around in the bitter cold and look at good and bad X-Mas lights on houses in various parts of the city. It’s a short ride, probably ok for kids over say… 8, that are used to pedaling. It’s a super casual pace, we ride as a big X-mas theme’d Amoeba, and eventually end up at Firestones for the afterwhatever. You have to decorate your bike. The more extravagantly the better. Any December based Holiday theme applies, not just X-mas. We will post helpful hints about this as the time draws near. The top 3 decorated bikes (popular vote) win some cool bike theme’d prizes. Much better than last year, where we gave out some peach colored glasses and some half eaten cheetos.

 

It’s a perennial problem.  People are always faster than me.  Better climbers, better on the flats.  They have better bikes, or weigh forty pounds less.  They have less years on them, or more miles in them.  And so I’m always off the back.  So I’ve taken to subtly sabotaging their bikes, in order to slow ’em down a bit.  Here’s my quick in dirty guide to making them slower and you faster.
1.  Fill their inner tubes with water.  About 2 cups per tire.  Take out the valve stem, dump it in.
2.  Put 6 rolls of pennies in the seat tube.  Remove seatpost, insert rolls of coins, tamp with paper, reinstall post.  Adds about 4 pounds to the frame.
3.  Lube their chain with butter.  It will seem nice and quiet for about 20 miles, then it will wear off and start making a horrible racket, demoralizing the rider.
4.  Over tighten their brakes.  So they just rub when they are climbing…
5.  Dial in the limit screws on the rear derailleur, so they can’t get in really high or low gears.
Note: don’t actually do any of this.  It’s a joke.  The real way to slow anyone down is to feed them a huge burrito preride, and an extra large ice cream cone.

The impending autumn means a few things at the shop.  More time for bike fitting, weird custom builds, endless cups of coffee.  Wool jerseys and rides where it’s ok to wear jeans.  Our clinics really took off last year.  We covered all sorts of topics, everything from disc brake bleeding (3 different brands!) to bike camping to recycled bike jewellery making.  We’d like to open it up this year to suggestions.  What do you want to learn about?  Chances are we either have someone on staff who can talk about it, or know someone who can.  Are skills clinics more rad than mechanical clinics? Do we need more art?  Do we need to have classes on road etiquette?  Let us know, either via email, or if you are reading this via the blogosphere, in the comments.  Our email address is bikedrfrederick (at) gmail (dot) com

We’ll be starting clinics in about two weeks, the first of which is always the comprehensive, hands on fix a flat clinics that takes place at 7pm on the first Wednesday of October.  Figure it will take about an hour.

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Don’t forget to register for the Bike Doctor Frederick Grand Fondue.  It’s coming up in about a month, and we already have a good group of folks showing up, so sign up before it fills up!  For those that don’t know, the Grand Fondue is a semi organized ride that takes in the rural roads of Frederick County.  There will be dirt roads, gravel roads, normal roads and tiny barely paved roads.  Four ride lengths are on offer, so there is something for {almost} everyone.  You don’t need a whatevering bike to do this ride, but it’s not a bad idea!  Way more info on the ride here.  You can register via paypal here, and just email us with what your t shirt size is and your ride length.  Again, our email address is: bikedrfrederick (at) gmail (dot) com.  We’d love to see you out there!

Lastly, the shop rides:

There are only two right now, both on Sunday.  The women’s road ride is every Sunday morning.  It’s location varies, but if you qualify (ie you are not a guy), head over to the BDF women’s group ride Facebook page, like it, and get more info!

Sunday evening (meet at 5, wheels down at 5.30) is the whatevering ride, 30-50 miles of mixed surface road riding.  Bring: a suitable bike, real lights (200 lumen min) a relaxed attitude and a willingness to climb lots of hills.

-The Bike Doctor Crew

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Tour De Frederick What’s Your Epic Giveaway

FREE STUFF ALERT! The 4rd annual Tour De Frederick is coming up mid August and we’re giving away a 3 day pass for the event. If you have never done the ride, it’s 3 days of riding in Frederick, fully supported, on great back roads. There’s also tours of downtown, food and more. Here’s what ya gotta do to win it. Email us a story about your most epic ride. Keep it to maybe 3-5 paragraphs. Alternatively, you could send a photojournalist style essay with lots of photos and few words or a video. The deadline is August 2nd. We’ll announce the winner the following Monday. Submit emails to bikedrfrederick@gmail.com Put Tour De Frederick in the heading. Keep in mind that epic is a personal thing, and a ride to the grocery store could be just as epic as a ride across Sibera. So take the meaning liberally!

tdf

Five Cents of Cola and a Paper Cup

Before team cars escorted the racers, hovering like nervous grandmothers, before there were feed zones, magic spray, magic food or any conception of how hydration works, riders would come into a small town on the Tour de France and raid a soda fountain.  They’d run into the shop, steal a bunch of drinks, and run out again, the angry proprietor blocked by rabid fans.  Riders would shove a bunch of sodas down their jersey and ride back into the peloton to distribute them to teammates, friends and rivals.  Tom Simpson had a coke a teammate stole from a bar before his fateful climb up Mont Ventoux.  Of course, he also had a bunch of speed, some brandy, and was woefully dehydrated on a really hot day.  So let’s not blame the coke on his untimely death.  It was probably the healthiest thing he ingested that day.

Coke survives in cycling, despite all odds.  No one swills red wine on rides anymore (well almost no one), nor do they drink 40 espressos (Gino Bartali, subject of our newest men’s shirt), and they certainly don’t light up 2 packs a day, pound sausage or eat gobs of creamy sea food the night before a big stage (see Jaques Anquetil).  But they still drink coke.  Of course it’s not the only thing they down.  A host of really boring, quickly outdated sports drinks make up the bulk of the peloton’s liquid intake.  Many teams ban the public consumption of Coke.  Despite the blacklisting, Nicholas Roche writes in his memoir about life in the peloton: “Our manager drove alongside and gave me a Coke.  To some teams, it’s a not a big thing, but at Credit-Agricole and lots of other teams, it’s a big deal, because we’re not allowed to drink Coke.  If you have a can, everyone is your friend.  Some guys will even try to buy it off you, but the ethical thing to do is have a few swigs and pass it around.  Next time, you could be the guy asking for a drink.”

There is something cutting and refreshing about coke. The acid and the sugar combination slices through the sickening taste of endless energy food.  The caffeine provides a welcome boost when the system is lagging, and the carbonation helps settle stomachs tortured by heat, gels and endless road buzz.

Coke was originally served in small glass bottles.  My dad tells stories about buying a case of glass bottled coke from the grocery store, filling galvanized pails with ice and soda and heading to South Park to shill the sodas for 10 cents, a 50% profit margin…  The idea of a 5 or 10 cent soda never seemed feasible in my lifetime, until I found myself in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, at a Soda Fountain tucked in the back of a dusty, careworn 5 and Dime.  I assumed the sign for the 5 cent coke was either a joke or a vintage sign but there it was, being served in Dixiecups for 5 cents a pour.  So I had a cup or two.

At the risk of being cycling’s Andy Rooney, Coke should really only come in glass bottles.  Aluminum is what you make rims out of, and stems.  Not beverage containers.  And plastic… let’s not get started with plastic. The thick, greenish glass insulates the soda, keeping it cold on sweat soaked Maryland summer days.  My favorite stop on long whatevering rides is the Mountaindale Convenience Store, on Mountaindale Road, where the back cooler houses 8 oz glass bottles of Coke.  They have an opener behind the counter, but it’s best to use a pedal or a multi-tool.  That, and a frozen Snickers bar, and you can climb anything.

A few more bits of news:

There are three weekly shop rides.  The two that always happen in the same place are the Wednesday climbing ride and the Sunday whatevering ride, which both leave from the shop.  The women’s ride rotates around town.  Come into the shop or email us to get on the invite only facebook page for the women’s ride. bikedrfrederick@gmail.com

Brian’s Wednesday night climbing ride, which, believe it or not, happens on Wednesday.  Wheels down at 5.30 from the shop. Fastish hill climbing ride.  Popular with those who like the pain.

Sunday night whatevering rides.  Join James, Andre, Dan the Younger, and whoever else on a 30-45 mile ride thru the local backwoods.  Dirt, climbing, pain, but at a slow, semi conversational pace.  Might be some singletrack, dirt roads, etc.  We’ll stop, chat, swim, whatever.  Roadish bike.  Bring tail light and a good head light, too. 200 lumen min.  Good means you could go down a black tunnel covered in dirt at night with it.  Meet at 5 at the shop, wheels down at 5.30.  Check Facebook for weather updates.

Whatevering 101, Ride Numbero Uno

Original Whateverists. Vintage racing in France. You know it’s serious when you need googles. We should start selling those.

It’s time for some continuing education.  We’re going to be offering hands on classes in whatevering this spring, summer and fall.  There will be 101 course, senior level courses and even doctoral level courses.  Locally epic is the theme.  Finding a road you had no idea existed.  Exploring a forgotten piece of single track.  Swimming in a pond hidden in the woods.  Taking a picture of a fleeting black bear.  Going way too fast on a skinny tire on a sketchy dirt road.  We keep talking about it, now we’re going to show you what whatevering is all about.  We’ll prep you, give you the syllabus here and on the blog.  You’ll show up to class all ready to rock.   The classes will vary in difficulty, but the idea is inclusiveness.  That said, not everyone wants to be a whateverist, and that’s ok.

Our first class will be on May 4th.  Everyone’s invited, but class size is limited.  Sub 25 miles.  Plenty of dirt and climbing in that span, so bring your legs.  The good stuff is always hard to get to.  These are some of the more mellow dirt roads, and some of the easier climbs to be had, making this route about as intro as you can get.

We’ll have a roughly mid ride stop where we nosh on some food.  Bring a sandwich, something real to eat.  The shop will have basic refreshments at that mid point.  Some easy eats, some drinks.

The start of ride will be a Q and A, and cover how to ride on dirt, what to do in corners, etc.  We’ll take the first dirt road slow, and then show you just how little there is to be scared of.

Nutshell info:

Where: sub 25 mile Middletown Valley loop, leaving from Middletown Recreation Park, off of Route 17.  Here’s an unfinished route map.

When: Saturday May 4th, 10am until whenever it’s over.  Block off a good chunk of hours.

How much: $5, payable at the shop in advance, or if tickets are still available, the day off.  Limit 15 riders.

Prerequisites: the desire to check out whatevering, a roadish bike or cross bike in good working order with at least 25mm tires, and a handful of spare tubes + a working pump. The ability to ride 25 miles with lots of little hills.

What we’ll provide:  Some grub and water half wayish thru, and some more at the end.  Help fixing flats and basic mechanicals.  No sag wagon, no crazy mechanical support.  If your bike breaks in half, or you get 15 flats, you gotta have someone come get you.  This is ultra low budget.  Not a Grand Fondue.

Email w/ Questions: bikedrfrederick (at ) gmail (dot) com

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A few more bits of news:

There are two functioning weekly shop rides, as of this week.

Brian’s Wednesday night climbing ride, which, believe it or not, happens on Wednesday.  Wheels down at 5.30 from the shop. Fastish hill climbing ride.  Popular with those who like the pain.

Sunday night whatevering rides.  Join James, Andre, Dan the Younger, and whoever else on a 30-45 mile ride thru the local backwoods.  Dirt, climbing, pain, but at a slow, semi conversational pace.  Might be some singletrack, dirt roads, etc.  We’ll stop, chat, swim, whatever.  Roadish bike.  Bring tail light and a good head light, too.  Good means you could go down a black tunnel covered in dirt at night with it.  Meet at 5 at the shop, wheels down at 5.30.

Ye Ole Holiday Sale, Dec 15 & 16

The Holdiday Flyer, in all it's lime green glory

A Holiday Sale at Bike Doctor Frederick & MoreMost holiday sales are bogus.  Things are artificially marked up and then marked down.  Scarves bought for 12 dollars at wholesale are priced at 48 dollars, then put on sale for 24 dollars.  This is how typical retail works.  Price padding, perceived value.  You think you are getting a steal of a deal, when in fact you are just paying exactly what the retailer wants you to pay.  We don’t do that.  Upfront honesty is important to us.  Our products are priced at what they should be priced at, which is of course based on how much they cost us.  We don’t often hold sales, because we’re already selling stuff at what it should be priced at.  Also, it’s hard to talk about this kinda thing and still hold people’s interest.  But we’re breaking the rules this winter, because we know bike stuff is expensive, and sometimes its nice to get a real break,not a perceived one.  We can’t afford to do it all the time.  We aren’t buying bikes at 250 dollars and selling them for 1000, at 50% off.So here it is: really our best sale of the year.  December 15 and 16th.  That’s a Saturday and Sunday.  No special extended hours.  10-6 on Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday.  Here’s the gritty on it:

  • Tent Sale Pricing on all bikes, even special orders.  That’s the best pricing we do, ever.
  • At least 10% off all accessories.  Some stuff will be higher.  Helmets, lights, handlebar tape, tires will be 15% off.
  • 15% off on all current clothing
  • Additional 25% off on all clearance clothing, which is already at ridiculous pricing.
  • Additional 25% off on all clearance shoes.  We have a boat load of them.  Take advantage!
  • 20% off on Shimano M087 shoes (great mtn shoe) and Shimano M520 pedal combos.  This isn’t clearance stuff, its just an awesome deal.  20% off only if you get the pair.
  • Great deals on stocking stuffers, including loads of stuff normal bike shops don’t stock, handmade t-shirts, hand screened pint glasses, artwork, handmade whimsical bells, the list goes on.
  • 20% off on all Books and DVDs.  We have some really great books!  Buy one for someone you like, even if that’s yourself.

Here’s a quick peek at some chimerical stocking stuffers that won’t end up in the regift pile.Vital Pint Glasses, Pretty!These simple, colorful pint glasses are hand printed in Denver, Colorado by Vital Industries, which is just two folks making well designed mostly bike themed objects d’ home.  That wasn’t supposed to be real French, so don’t send any mean letters!  20 bucks gets you 2 of these.  They also make classy looking ‘old fashioned’ glasses, which is either a juice glass or a bourbon glass, depending on how your tastes run and maybe your age.Recycled Dog CollarsRuff Again makes these dog collars out of old inner tubes that we give them.  Locally made, and well made.  They are tough, come in fun colors, and are fully adjustable.  Small, Medium and Large sizes, with the biggest topping out just under 25 bucks.crane bells from japan!Crane hand-painted bells.  Made and painted in Osaka Japan.  Crane started by using recycled rotary telephone bells, but those eventually ran out, so they copied that tone and look with these beautiful bells.  They also come in silver aluminum, real brass and real copper.  The painted ones are a bit more than the plain ones, but they are lovely fast little paintings, and each one is unique.  They are just under $25!Dear John, earringsWe commissioned Dear John Goods, a local company specializing in upcycled products, to make a variety of jewelry from bike parts.  There are a bunch of different flavors, all priced below 25 bucks.  Support local artisians!

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A Good Fondue Bike is a Good Frederick Whatevering Bike

We’re going to put together a basic series this month on what kind of gear we use for riding in Frederick.  Not all of us at the shop subscribe to this program, but maybe 75% of us do.  The series will also provide an idea of what kind of bike and gear works well on a long unsupported ride, such as the Bike Doctor Grand Fondue we are putting together, on the 28th of October.  99.9 miles of riding means you have to pack most of the food you want to eat with you, and cooler weather means storage space for layers.  Riding into the evening means you have to think about lights, and riding into bad weather is always something to be prepared for.

We have a few names for this style of bike.  Gravel roads bike.  Randonneuring bike.  Light Touring.  Sport Touring.  All Road bike.  Whatevering bike though, I think best fits what this bike is up to.  As in, it’s up for almost whatever you throw at it.  Obviously it’s not a mountain bike, but you can take it on some pretty twisty singletrack if you ride it carefully.  It’s not a loaded touring bike, but the fat tires and rack mounts let you take it into the mountains for a night of camping.  It’s not a race bike, but the main thing holding back your top speed is always your legs, not your bike.  A stable bike with good tires will descend faster and more confidently than a ‘nimble’ bike with narrow high pressure tires.

Locally built bike for local riding.

This sombre fellow was built by local custom frame builder Jeff Buchanan.  Here’s some basic details of what makes it a good whatevering bike.  The tires are bigger.  Wide 28mm tires have more volume than a 23mm racing tire.  That means lower pressure, less flats, better traction and a nicer ride.  These are run between 65 and 85 psi, depending on the ride.  That means versatility.  Think 65 psi is slow and soft?  Tom Boonen won a huge spring classic race (Paris-Roubaix) at 60 psi with even wider tires.  He didn’t win because his tires were slow!

Lots of spokes.  Having 32 or 36 spokes means your wheels can take a beating and still come out on top.  Good light wheels with lots of spokes are repairable, and even if you are unlucky enough to break a spoke on a ride, you have at least 31 more to keep the wheel together.  With a 20 spoke wheel, good luck getting home, even with your brakes open.  High spoke count wheels generally use normal J bend spokes, which you can source at any bike shop, if you do need to get them repaired.  Bladed spokes, proprietary spokes, alloy spokes… all of that is usually special order stuff, which costs more and takes more time to install.  Lest you think that lots of spokes means heavy wheels, it really doesn’t have to.  One of the nice race oriented Mavic Wheelsets we sell is the Kysrium SL wheelset.  It clocks in at about 1550 grams for the set.  A typical high end set of handbuilt 32 hole wheels is about 20 grams heavier, but with 20 more spokes.  You could easily make up that difference with a lighter tube.

Fenders.  Fenders are a point of contention.  Some people love how they look, and others hate them so much that they won’t even consider their positive points.  But let’s at least look at why fenders make sense, and debunk some myths.  Myth #1: fenders make you slow.  The biggest air turbulence on your bike comes from the tops of the tires.  (besides you, of course)  At the top of the revolving tire, air is whipped into a frenzy, and gets really aerodynamically messy.  A fender hides that part of the tire from the air, negating the turbulence.  Myth #2: fenders are heavy.  Cheapo fenders, and steel fenders ARE heavy.  But lightweight french style aluminum fenders are light and stiff and plenty durable for whatevering.  Fenders protect your feet from road spray, so if it just rained, no wet feet.  If it is raining, no crud trail up your back, or mud in your eyes.  Your drivetrain stays cleaner too.  All good things.  Plus: they are shiny.

Low gears.  Not everyone needs low gears for everyday riding, but this is a whatevering bike, built to take on whatever the rider wants to do.  Some steep fireroads…. a quick camping trip on a mountain?  Gotcha covered, if you have low gears.  The thing about low gears is even if you don’t use them on every ride, carrying them around won’t hurt you.

Storage.  Some people like to wear jerseys and stuff everything into the pockets in the back. But try putting a jacket, a nice camera, a sandwich, arm warmers, some magic food, spare tubes, a real pump, a multi tool, warmer gloves, a wallet and a handkerchief into those pockets.  If you do get them in there, the sandwich will get mushed, you will drop the camera trying to remove it, and the magic food will taste like rubber.  Also, you will look like Quasimodo with that big bulge back there.
Get a basic bit of luggage for your bike.  You bike lacks rack mounts?  Sad day, but not insurmountable.  Get a nice Ortlieb handlebar bag that clips to your bars.  You can fit everything listed in there, and still put a cue sheet on the top.  Storage is your friend, and having the ability to bring layers on a cool day makes riding way more enjoyable.

Optional whatevering items:  Pedals that have cleats that let you walk around, rather than hobble around.  Comfortable bar height, so you can look around, not just at your power meter.  Steel Frame, for durability and ride comfort.  Strong brakes with good brake pads, for hauling you and your overnight gear to a stop when the deer jumps out in front of you.  Built in lighting.  Generator (dynamo) front hubs let you ride all winter without having to constantly charge a light.  Surprisingly low drag, and lots of light.  Roughly 300 lumens, forever.  The bike above has two front wheels, a summer wheel and a whatevering wheel.  The whatevering wheel, pictured, has the dynamo hub laced up.

We have a few whatevering bikes available for demo purposes.  Stop by the shop to find out more!
You could even check one out for the Grand Fondue ride.  Dan the Younger’s whatevering bike was just posted on our facebook page as part of our new series on what the Bike Doc staff rides.  Check it out here.

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The Bike Doctor Frederick Grand FondueIs coming up here at the end of the month.  There are two rides, for those who don’t know yet.  99.9 miles and 35ish miles.  The 99.9er will have loads of climbing and plenty of dirt roads (about 20 miles worth).  The shorter ride will have way less climbing, and only 3 short dirt sections, which are really well groomed.

ye ole poster

The big guy will have a bailout at roughly 65, if you are dead by then.  The ride is the last Sunday in October, which is the 28th.  Both rides are only 15 bucks, plus a block of cheese for the communal fondue at the end.  That 15 bucks gets rudimentary sag support, basic mechanical support, a few glasses of wine or mead at the end, and access to the communal dinner.  We’re starting and ending at the beautiful Orchid Cellar Winery in Middletown MD, where part owner Andre (also a mechanic at the shop) will be hosting us.  Also, great local band “The Galt Line” just signed up to play, and they are a ton of fun.  We figure that’s quite a bit of goodness for just 15 bucks.  The other ride that is happening that month, the Grand Fondo, which sounds suspiciously like our Fondue, is 100 bucks, and no band and no wine!

Preregister (we need head counts sooner rather than later) even if you don’t know which ride you want to do.  Send us an email at bikedrfrederick (at) gmail (dot) com to do paypal, or just stop by the store with cash money.  Please have exact change, it will make our lives easier.  If you just have a 20, we’ll give you a Frederick Bicycle Coalition waterbottle, but no change.

Way more details here.

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Clinic season is upon us.  Sign up in advance for individual classes (some have size limits).  Almost all are free.  We have a big listing of all of them, here.  This Wednesday, we’ll be doing our popular fix a flat clinic, which is a comprehensive look at how to fix flats, cut tires, and how to use moss as a tube.

Here’s the rest of the month’s breakdown, but really, go here to see the full deal. 

10/3:  Fix a Flat.  Comprehensive look at flats and how to fix them.  Topics include: tire booting, patching, checking for stuff in the tire, and installation.

10/10:  Basic Tri Bike maintenance:  Brian will teach the ins and outs of how to care for your tri bike, including cleaning, adjusting stuff in the middle of a race, and pre race inspections.

10/17:  Touring and Bike Camping basics.  We’ll talk about need vs want, where to get stuff, and how to use it.

10/24: TBD

10/31:  Winter Riding Clinic: clothing and equipement to stay warm and safe.  Learn about practical layering, embrocation, and hydration.