Swrve Stationary Tool Roll Review

Swrve Stationary Tool RollSwrve’s Stationary Tool Roll is well organized and holds everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Long Story Short: A clever and convenient alternative to carrying your on-the-bike essentials in a top notch, made-in-the-USA package.

Swrve Stationary Tool Roll 2A 700×32 tube, two CO2 cartridges + nozzle, a tire lever, patch kit, and a Crank Brothers multi-tool are tucked away inside.

Long Story Long: Picked this up before doing the Rock Cobbler as a way of carrying less (but more) stuff. I’ve been using Swrve’s Tool Bag for a couple years but faced with a 100 or so miles of potential doom, I wanted to carry some extra supplies but not actually carry them so I split the load between the Tool Bag and the Tool Roll.

The Tool Roll carried all the flat supplies and fortunately it didn’t get called into action until after crossing the finish line. I flatted not once but twice on three mile slog back to the start. Good times.

Compared to a traditional saddle bag, there are a couple upsides with the Tool Roll. Its compressed nature means nothing will rattle around on the inside and the lack of a seat post anchor strap means there’s no chance of the inner thigh region of your expensive Lycra shorts getting roughed up. The lone traditional toe strap does a surprisingly great job of keeping the Tool Roll in place. Pull it nice and tight and you’re all set.

Swrve Stationary Tool Roll 4You can’t see it because of the sweet camouflage but there is a Swrve Stationary Tool Roll in this photo. Trust me.

I didn’t expect that it would get much use following the Cobbler but I soon found myself using it on the reg. Its compact size and high easy on/easy off factor makes it snap to switch between bikes. With my CX and commuter using the same size tubes, the Tool Roll could do double duty while my Tool Bag could remain road specific specific. Gone are the days of scurrying around for the right size tube when I want to go for a ride. Convenience is an amazing thing.

Here’s The Breakdown: All the Swrve quality you know and love is present in the Tool Roll. At $40, it’s a little on the spendy side but it’s much more economical than similar style wraps that don’t look nearly as robust.

The Tool Roll features three slots plus a zippered pocket for carrying the important stuff you really don’t want to lose such as ID, credit cards, or keys. A sewn-on nylon ribbon adds a layer of tidiness and helps keep the total package as compact as possible.

I have a Jandd Tire Bag (great for holding a mini pump) that’s almost old enough to drink and is still going strong (though it looks like it was ready to be retired at least 5 years ago). With Swrve’s Tool Roll constructed from the same 500-denier Cordura and fortified with solid stitching, a beefy zipper that could survive the apocalypse, and the only “moving part” being readily available should the need for replacement ever arise, I fully expect the Toll Roll to be alive and kicking in the year 2525.

Oh crap.

I just realized that’s only ten years from now. That’s no longer the distant future is it? Where the hell is the time going and where are our damn jet packs?

Swrve Stationary Tool Roll 3Stationary is Swrve’s new line of on and off the bike accessories.

Lake MX331 Cyclocross Shoe Review

LAKE MX331The Lake MX331 during happier times. These shoes refused to clog with mud.

Long Story Short: The Lake MX331 had the potential to be a category defining shoe if not for a fatal design flaw.

Long Story Long: Really? That sentence above didn’t scare you away? If you want the whole story, here you go…

I originally wasn’t going to review these turds but like all mediocre cyclocross racers, I chose to spend a lovely June Saturday indoors scouting purchases for the upcoming season. When I saw Competitive Cyclist had them on ultra-mega-too-good-to-be-true closeout and The Clymb has them at a if-you-have-little-feet-and-insist-on-black-you-will-pay-a-premium price, I thought it’d be best to warn the others.

I bought a pair of Lake MX331 shoes on closeout before last ‘cross season. If you’re too lazy to do the math, that means these shoes are going on three years old.

When the Brown Santa dropped them off, I couldn’t have been more pleased. These shoes were going to be bar far my most brilliant purchase ever.

Then I read the instruction manual.

LAKE MX331 WARRANTY INFOAs a general warning, any product manual that has more words related to dire warnings and advice on what to do if (and when) it falls apart than actual instructions should be avoided at all costs.

I was too enamored by the new shiny kicks to heed my own advice and set to work to get them thermo-custom-molded to my feet.

Having fit at least 100 pairs of Shimano’s heat moldable shoes during the tail end of my illustrious bike shop career, I can say on good authority that the Lake method of tossing them in your own oven is more than a little hoopty.

I followed the instructions to the letter down to using an in-oven thermometer and by the time things cooled down, my feet were whelmed with a sense of ‘meh.’ I guess they sorta changed the fit but it was hard to tell.

Not to worry though, surely the Boa Closure System would take care of the fit.

It did and all was well.

Except when my feet were constricted to the point of falling asleep which was pretty much anytime I wore the shoes.

Because the shoes have only one Boa system placed near the ankle, you have to ratchet the crap out of it to secure the fit of the whole shoe. In their limited lifetime, I re-molded them three times and am unconvinced that Lake’s moldable heel cup keeps its shape. It seemed to return to normal within a couple weeks of riding.

Even with these two rather significant quirks, the MX331 was an awesome shoe once you were actually cyclocrossing. The lack of lugs at the front of the sole gave a wide open path to the cleat. In over 20 years of using clipless pedals, these were by far the easiest shoes to clip into (and no, my skills and coordination didn’t suddenly improve in my second decade) and were seemingly impervious to mud. The kangaroo leather was tough as f and the Boa system held up to anything.

In fact, the Boa system was so durable it kept on working like nothing happened even after it ripped itself clean out of the shoe.

Lake MX331 BrokenAs you can see, the Boa system was far too strong for the shoe.

I wasn’t even doing anything cool either. Took a quick spin up Nichols Canyon on the eve of Santa Cross and came home with a busted shoe. There would be no fixing it either. A three-month-old pair of shoes that had seen 10 cyclocross races and maybe 30 hours of ride time had bitten the dust. What a waste.

Not to worry.

Surely they could be warrantied, right?

Yeah, right.

Knowing full well that the week before the holidays is the worst time in the world to expect anything done, let alone in the bike industry, I wrote a note to the Lake warranty department (a teammate had their email handy from a previous encounter) and explained what happened. Since ‘cross season was over, I was in no rush to get a replacement pair. Anytime before February’s Rock Cobbler would be great.

Surely Lake would respond, right?

Yeah, right.

After a month with no reply, I wrote to Lake’s sales manager (a friend who’s a pro hooked me up with his email) with the lofty request of seeing if anyone at Lake could address my warranty claim directly. I had filled out the warranty paperwork with Competitive Cyclist (where I had purchased the shoes) and was still waiting to hear back.

39 days later, I finally did. Of course Lake was out of stock and I would have to wait a few months for the redesigned replacement model.

Yeah right.

Instead, I bought at replacement pair of shoes at a local bike shop and used my Competitive Cyclist “credit” (Refund? Refund?) to get a new pair of tubluars for next cyclocross season which is something I need like a hole in the head.

Want A Second Opinion? Check out Road Bike Review here and Mountain Flyer Magazine here.


Race Report: Rock Cobbler 2015

In a race as long and brutal as The Rock Cobbler, you will have an epiphany. Mine came around mile 25 but I didn’t fully understand it until I was standing in the middle of Hollywood Blvd the following night.

The movie McFarland USA was having its red carpet World Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre. I was there. Sunburned, comatose and not exactly in the mood to talk to anyone, let alone be a charming and engaging interviewer of the stars and creators of the movie.

Based on the true story of the 1987 McFarland High cross country team, Disney had the actual runners who inspired the movie on the red carpet. I spoke to several of them making sure to ask the same question: “For the kids who hate running, what advice do you have for them to survive the mile in gym class?”

Turns out two of the guys were P.E. teachers and coaches. One even replaced Jim White (Kevin Costner’s character) at McFarland High and they all echoed his words.

“You gotta do it so you might as well wake up and have a positive attitude. If you hate it, you hate it but if you love it, you can be a champion. It’s all in the attitude.”

Go south from McFarland for 25 miles on the 99 and you’ll be in Bakersfield, home of The Rock Cobbler.

I got tipped off to the race back in November with a simple email from a buddy.

Let’s do this!!! We got time to train. Same guy that puts on the Bakersfield CX races, organized dude.

A month later, I finally worked up the motivation to register and thought about putting together a structured training plan. The Rock Cobbler would be my ticket to getting back into legit shape. For the last six months or so I’d been in an funk on the bike. Sleeping in and eating were my new favorite hobbies and not even the devious, juvenile fun of cyclocross season could fully snap me out of it.

By mid-January I finally starting riding with regularity and a twinge of mild panic. But there was no reason to get nervous. No matter how good of shape I was in, The Rock Cobbler would be an ass kicking. And that’s the beauty of cycling. Even when you’re at your best, you will still be a human punching bag. There’s simply no way to escape it.

On race day, we arrived at Lengthwise Brewing with plenty of time to prep before the mandatory rider meeting. To say that Sam, the ringleader of the madness, is an “organized dude” is a huge understatement. Starting with his first pre-race email, every facet of The Rock Cobbler ran as smooth, if not smoother, than any event I’ve ever participated in. Every ‘i’ was crossed and every ‘t’ dotted. When the meeting wrapped, I retreated to the car for some heated seat joy and a get pumped session with The Sword.

Rock Cobbler Pre-Race Metting
Sam leads the pre-race meeting. You know you’re in for a long day when the course map is as big as a queen size bed.

We were rolling just past 8am. The first 12 or so neutral miles ticked off quick and the race was on. At least for some people. Not entirely confident about how much wattage was in the cottage, I stuck to an easy, manageable pace and watched my friends vanish up the road.

Chugging along, the first seeds of doubt started creeping into my head. Why put yourself through the wringer if you feel like you’re just going through the motions? Why even try riding that hill? Look at all the people walking. Get off your bike now and save yourself the trouble.

So that’s what I did. Then I got to the top of the hill and was greeted by a dude dressed as a taco.

The absurdity of the scene made me laugh. It takes a special kind of idiot to wake up on a Sunday morning and put on a taco costume just as much as it takes a special kind of idiot to wake up on a Sunday and go pedal a bike 100 miles.

Somehow, we all manage to find each other.

On the descent that followed Taco Guy Hill, things started coming together. A short distance later, on a random, nondescript turn, it clicked like a cracked safe. In the split second of air my bike caught as we transitioned from pavement to dirt, a switch was flipped. By the time we sank into the soft dirt back on Earth, Goose had talked to me.

Riding bikes was suddenly the best thing ever all over again.

And it couldn’t have been a more perfect day for a ride.

I caught and passed a small group and took another rider along to the next group up the road. We all worked together and miles quickly piled up. We pushed it on the rollers and through the orchards to the first Checkpoint Charlie. After a quick stop, it was game on and we stayed together until splintering on the first big climb. At its base, I turned to the lone female in our group and said, “Any time you need to drop us go right ahead.”

She chuckled, then proceeded to leave us in the dust a couple miles later. We wouldn’t see her again until the out and back climb. She was on her way back and we still had to go a long way out.

The first 54 miles of the Rock Cobbler turned out to be warm up for the main event that would be happening on the course’s back nine. Things kicked off with a steady, grinding eight mile climb that turned to dirt once it ran out of road. From what I could remember of the elevation profile, this was the biggest climb of the day so the last 38 miles had to be a cakewalk back to Bakersfield.

Then I realized Sam designed the course with all the cruelty of a fraternity pledge master.

As our Garmins crossed mile 62, we started scanning for the next Checkpoint Charlie. Surely it’d be in a nice shady spot at the bottom of the descent we were cruising down.

Nope. It had to be at the top of one final 15% wall perfectly centered under the blazing sun.

After getting our bearings back, we returned the way we came. An hour and fifteen minute climb transformed into a 20 minute descent. Back at the aid station, we refueled for the homestretch and had a mini-dance party/karaoke session with the volunteers. I still clung to the naive hope that we were entering the easiest part of the day.

For while it was. Then around mile 75 we crossed paths with a mountain lion. There could be no better omen of what was to come than a goddamn mountain lion sitting in the middle of the trail enjoying a nice little Sunday Funday. Eventually it disappeared into the brush and the group of us that bottlenecked a safe distance away made a break for it.

Rock Cobbler Mountain Lion
Before we bolted past the mountain lion that was lurking in the brush to our left, I flipped on my GoPro just in case any of us were mauled. (Can’t let potential YouTube gold go to waste.) I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to realize it was in still photo mode so this is all the evidence of Puma concolor that we got.

Once we made it through the Crucible de Cougar, the course had us hanging a u-turn and going by it all over again.

No worries though. We were on the homestretch. We had to be. Then my buddy Chad noticed orange cones speckling the hillside.

The final climb turned out to be the most brutal of the entire Rock Cobbler. On the elevation profile, it wasn’t any bigger than a pimple but what a mean and nasty pimple it was. We’re talking prom night and in the middle of your forehead. Bright red, rock hard, and ready to explode. It wasn’t even a climb. It was a multi-pitch hike-a-bike that culminated with a push up a 35% grade to the summit that was so slippery it felt like it was paved with ball bearings.

Even with Checkpoint Charlie #3 in sight, this is the exact moment I came the closest to throwing in the towel but I was having too much fun to quit.

At the top, the volunteers assured us the hard stuff was behind us and all that was left was the final run to the finish. And what a run it was. Coming off of Mount Pimple, the course routed us through a crazy, twisty chalk white canyon that was straight out of classic Star Trek. Railing around each turn I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Captain Kirk brawling with a lizard man. It eventually spit us out at Hart Park, home of the annual NorCal vs SoCal cyclocross showdown. Who knew such an incredible trail was hiding behind that damn run-up?

We climbed out of the park and rolled into the final Checkpoint Charlie, cruelly positioned next to a packed honky-tonk that sounded like they were wildly re-enacting Urban Cowboy inside. Adding misery to misery, our task at this checkpoint was to remove our shoes and socks before getting our cards punched. It was a silly task but was it psychologically brutal. Grab a chair, let your aching dogs get some air, have an ice-cold Coors if you like…

Luckily, we didn’t fall into that trap and kept going. The final 12 miles on the bike path back to civilization would be over before we knew it. So of course Sam had take us off the path and onto a route straight out of a Family Circus dotted line cartoon in the Sunday paper. At this point, it wasn’t surprising that there was one more twist.

We slogged through it as best we could and enjoyed the waning moments. With two miles to go, I had my first and only crash of the day trying to plow through the sandy river bed. I laughed as I un-pretzeled myself from under my bike. It was a nice reminder that The Rock Cobbler wasn’t done until it was done.

It was done when we rolled under the balloons at the finish. We showed our completed punch cards, verified our names, and that was that.

The ride back to Lenghtwise was smooth except for getting two flats. Always a nice parting gift.

The after-party was a fog. Starving but lacking the motor skills required to eat, I picked at a pile of the best mac ‘n cheese ever as I sipped the best beer I’ve ever tasted. Between bites we managed to swap semi-coherent war stories and laughed at the awesome ridiculousness of being handed heavy ass hammers as trophies. A couple times we yelled out “hammer fight!” but there were no takers. Everyone was too exhausted or too into their beer to bludgeon a stranger.

From start to finish, The Rock Cobbler was an incredible event and the Bakersfield cycling scene is a hidden treasure. The terrain, roads, and people are as good as any you’ll find anywhere.

Can’t wait to do it again next year.

Rock Cobbler Hammer Trophy
This one is staying on the mantel for a while.

Rock Cobbler Finish
Final Rock Cobbler Stats.

Strava LInk

Rock Lobster CX
D.I.Y. SRAM 1×10
40T Chainring
11-36 Cassette
Ergon CF3 seatpost
WTB Nano 40c Front
Bontrager CX0 38mm Rear
Standard tubes with Stan’s sealant

Set Up Notes: A 1x was decently suited for the Rock Cobbler course. A five mile stretch of pavement 30 miles in had me cruising in the 40 x 11 at 25mph. The only spot where the absence of a larger chain ring was really noticed was on the 8 mile return decent following the day’s biggest climb. Then again, getting to take a breather and coast at 30mph isn’t a bad thing. Gearing was plenty low though the 36T cog did see a lot of use. If you’re in it to win it, a double would be the way to go. It should be noted that according to Neil Shirley’s report for Road Bike Action, second place finisher Burke Swindlehurst ran a 42 x 11-36. Their race came down to a sprint finish with Swindlehurst crossing the line 0.2 seconds behind Shirley.

Here’s what Swindlehurst had to say about running a single ring:

Tire selection was on the big side. Next time around, I’d likely opt for something narrower but the Nano’s are so much fun to ride. 55-60psi was good for the pavement and hard pack and manageable on the rough stuff. Don’t know that adding Stan’s to the tubes actually helped. The rear tire started going soft with about a mile to go and was flat soon after the finish. The inside was soaked with sealant and the culprit looked to be your run-of-the-mill goat head.

Sam specifically mentioned to not run even think about running tubulars in several of his pre-race emails. He clearly knew what he was talking about. Crossed paths with a rider whose race was cut short very early thanks to using tubulars. He was on his third flat and all out of sealant.

The Ergon CF3 post was my secret weapon. I had zero lower back pain. If you can hunt one down, get it.

A road bike? Don’t even think about it unless you’re a semi-crazy pro like Nate King. He was the only one on a road bike to finish.

In my pockets to start:
2 GU Roctane gels
2 Rip van Wafels
2 Bonk Breaker Bars
2 Skratch Labs hydration mix packets
2 Bottles of Skratch mix (on the bike)

Nutrition Notes: Thanks to sporadic bouts of impersonating a triathlete, I knew to keep eating and drinking throughout the day even if I wasn’t feeling the need. Tried to pace it so that my bottles were empty by the next checkpoint. The checkpoints were fully stocked with a variety of goodies: GUs, Bonk Breakers, Fluid hydration mix, oranges, bananas, Pringles, Mountain Dew and tequila just to name few.

In total I think I ended up taking down 6 or 7 GUs, 2 or 3 Bonk Breakers, 1 Rip van Wafel, 1 banana, half an orange, an 8 oz Mountain Dew, a handful of Pringles and a random piece of mandatory chocolate. I drank 4 bottles of Skatch Mix, 3 of Fluid, and 3 with good ol’ H2O- enough to have to take three potty breaks. Never felt hungry until five miles from the finish (a buffet was waiting) and didn’t have a single cramp until Monday night. Go figure.



Race Report: SoCalCross Krosstoberfest

Things we learned at Krosstoberfest:

1. Just because you raced at a venue last year doesn’t mean the course hasn’t changed. Always do a pre-ride because trees can really sneak up on you.

2. While it is embarrassing, there is no shame in sprinting for 24th place.
HRM Krosstoberfest
If you look close, you can see we started sprinting from half a mile out.

3. Instructions exist for a reason.

Swrve Durable Cotton Review

swrve durable cotton pants and shorts
Swrve’s Durable Cotton pants on the left, shorts on the right. The surprisingly water-resistant pants show the aftermath of a sprinkler attack. The shorts are a better representation of what dark grey looks like in Swrve’s color palette.

Long Story Short: Much like Swrve’s Cordura Jeans being a game changer in the realm of cycling denim, Durable Cotton does the same for non-denim. This fabric is amazing and virtually indestructible.

Long Story Long: At the start of this past summer, I picked up a pair of Durable Cotton pants and shorts. The pants had the practical purpose of being a slightly lighter weight alternative to jeans when things heated up.

The shorts were more of an impulse purchase. Already owning a couple pairs of Swrve’s _blk Lightweight Shorts, I was a little skeptical that the Durable Cotton version would amount to much more than high performance backyard BBQ shorts.

It took all of one ride to realize just how far off base that assumption was.

The maiden voyage for the shorts was a 20 mile round trip pedal across town to Dodger Stadium. I clipped the tags off and was out the door-  shakedown ride around the block be damned.

The most immediate impression they made was the amount of stretch they had. While the Lightweight Shorts have plenty of stretch, the Durable Cottons are wicked stretchy. We’re talking near Spandex levels of elasticity. As silly as it sounds, the material has such unique properties that sometimes I have to fight the urge to run around and do roundhouse kicks just to see if I can find its limits.

After that first ride, the shorts became my go-to item of the summer. On those rare occasions they weren’t folded neatly in the dresser, they could hang out on the floor for days at a time between wearings and be good to go with a quick shake thanks to being nearly impossible to wrinkle.

The pants performed just like the shorts except in a longer package. The fit is identical to Swrve’s regular fit jeans so there were no surprises there. The textured, yet soft nature of the Durable Cotton gives the pants a Dickies like feel without being industrial.

Back in the day, Dickies used to be the pants for messengers in downtown LA thanks to their low cost to durability ratio. While $100 for a single pair of pants isn’t cheap, the only way I can imagine Durable Cotton pants not outlasting several pairs of their ordinary counterpart is if they were doused in gasoline and set on fire. And if that happened, you’d have bigger problems to worry about.

One bonus feature to the pants is how comfortable they are for travel off the bike. Wore them on a few long road trips and flights this summer and stayed as snug as a bug in a rug. The stretchiness is a huge boon when contorting yourself into a sleep compatible position while stuck for hours in a tiny seat.

Here’s the Breakdown: All the details that have become Swrve trademarks are present and accounted for. Both the shorts and pants have a seamless crotch, heavy duty stitching throughout, reflective belt loops, and dual pen pockets- one of the dorkiest, yet ridiculously useful features you’ll ever encounter.

With regard to the pants, the pocket configuration is pretty standard. Two up front and two in back. The left rear pocket is zippered. The right rear pocket is open and a little larger and should comfortably fit an iPhone 6+ if that’s your jam. Unlike the jeans, there is no reflective strip inside the leg. Swrve’s trademark articulated knee gussets are present and accounted for.

The pocket configuration of the shorts is slightly different. Two standard pockets are up front and in the back is a Velcro pocket on the left and on the right is a larger, offset open pocket (think mini u-lock sized) with an integrated zippered wallet sized pocket on top. Gotta love how Swrve makes it hard for you to lose your important stuff. For obvious reasons, the shorts lack knee gussets.

After five months in heavy rotation and dozens of washings later, zero signs of wear can be found on either piece. The color hasn’t faded, seams haven’t frayed and the Durable Cotton hasn’t lost its shape. I wouldn’t be surprised if both make it to the next decade.

Want a Second Opinion? Cycleboredom is on the case.

Race Report: SPYclocross Series – Velocity Cross

About 20 minutes after leaving home for the first cross race of the season, I received the following text from my wife.
I knew I was going to be off my game but forgetting the two most important components to a day at the races was a new low when it comes to being unprepared. At the time, a 40 minute detour seemed like a fool’s errand but in retrospect I should have just gone home and spent the day on the couch.

Taking place at the institutional sounding Prado Regional Park, the day’s course was a flat, non-technical affair (save for a billion gopher holes) that offered about 20 feet of shade from the 90 degree heat and the soothing sound of gunfire thanks to a range across the street.

Not returning home to fetch the chips and beer meant I had a solid hour to train before race time. The ability to go 10 miles without a taking break or getting severely winded gave a false sense of hope that lasted up until I was called up to the front row on the merit of being one of the first to pre-register.

That’s when the gravity of the situation set in.

I couldn’t come to grips with asking the USA Cycling official if I could decline my front row spot and I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t there thanks to the call up catcalls of teammates and friends.

In the anxious moments leading up to the start, I sat in the front row doing my best to act like I belonged there. Heated, heavy breath of the serious competitor behind me tickled my neck. I was doomed. I said a silent prayer asking that when he ran me down to please do so in a way that could be as painless as possible while inflicting race ending (but not too costly) harm to my bike. If he could be so kind as to let the air out of a tire while passing, I would be forever grateful.

The moment the official said “Go on the whistle,” the part of my brain that remembered what it was like to race cross (and not completely suck at it) miraculously Quantum Leaped its way to the controls. Everything was maybe, possibly going to be OK. The whistle chirped and my bike lurched in the right direction. It only took a couple of tries to get clipped in and by time we hit the grass, I almost felt like a real cross racer.

I slotted comfortably into the top 10 as we flew through the opening lap. It felt great running with the big dogs who boasted more leg veins than backfat. With each corner, confidence in my freshly glued tubulars grew and I started calculating how many points daddy would be adding to his series coffer when things were all said and done.

The next calculation happened as we crossed the start/finish line for the second lap.

There was still 33 minutes of this shit to go.

To the uninitiated, the best way to describe the pain the sport provides is that it’s like trying to sprint a marathon while simultaneously giving birth and getting kicked in the balls. It is a truly unique sensation that has no peer.

The rest of the of the race would be a slow and merciless descent into misery and despair.

Things looked almost respectable for the first lap.

Even as speed steadily declined, heart rate stayed sky high except for that part where I slowed to a crawl in a desperate-as-Uncle Ned attempt at getting lapped.

On the upside, I did make it onto the YouTube when I was passed by one of the 45+ leaders like I was standing still.





How to Glue Cyclocross Tubulars in 17 Easy Steps

1. Wait to glue your tubulars until the weekend before your cyclocross season begins. In your “training log,” this weekend will have been circled as the weekend you’re supposed to start training. In cyclocross, having a tubular equipped bike is more important than fitness. Training can wait until race day.

2. Go into the depths of your garage and dig out your stash of tires from previous seasons and impulse off-season closeout purchases. Select the once that have been the most properly aged.

3. Recoil in horror as you realize all your tubulars were stored improperly. Somehow you read the wrong article and foolishly stored them vertically and un-inflated (instead of horizontally and inflated) and forgot to suck all the sealant that has now congealed into Super Ball sized chunks inside your tires.


4. Come to accept the fact that you suddenly have a pile of useless rubber that costs as much as a semester of Junior College.

5. Spend the next three hours reading reviews and shopping for new tubulars.

6. Build a spreadsheet breaking down the cost of new tires vs having your old, yet mostly unused tires repaired.

7. Praise your favorite deity that Competitive Cyclist still has the same tubulars you bought on close-out last season. A mud tire for a place that hasn’t seen rain in years? Who cares when it’s only $49.99.

8. Box up all your bunk tubulars and send to Tire Alert with a desperate note to have them back by Thanksgiving (because no doubt you’ll have the will power to hit peak form during the most gluttonous week of the year and when you’re in peak form, there’s no way you can be using clinchers as your pit tires).

9. Go to your neighborhood Lowe’s and get an argument with an employee over the very existence of Acid Brushes. Even when you pull out your phone and show him the reason why you chose Lowe’s was because their site said there were dozens of fictional Acid Brushes in-stock, he holds his ground with a moon landing conspiracist level of tenacious stubbornness.

10. When you finally locate the Acid Brushes hours later just before fatal dehydration sets in, promptly buy all of them in hopes of dicking over your fellow cross racers because the race starts long before the gun goes off.

11. Call in sick to work so you can immediately begin the sacred ritual of applying the first layer of glue to your new tires the moment they arrive, for time is of the essence. Kick yourself for forgetting to not ship your tires to your office. On the upside, your sudden and temporary illness seems more believable.

12. The following evening after work, start the gluing process the moment you get home. Take extra care to cover the entire width of the base tape, your cat’s tail, and the most conspicuous areas of your dining room table.

12. Wake up in the middle of the night to apply the second layer of glue. The clock is ticking.

13. Now that you can’t go back to bed, watch the video of Stu Thorne showing how to glue a tubular as a refresher. Channel your rage at him for making it look so easy into a strongly worded letter to the UCI demanding all team staff to be checked for doping because no man can have hands that strong.

14. After spending the following day tired and cranky from lack of sleep, you’re now in the perfect mindset to glue your tubulars. Be sure you’re wearing your nicest, most expensive pair of jeans and a favorite shirt that is irreplaceable.

15. Time the conjoining of your first tire so that your wife comes home from work at the exact at the exact moment veins are popping from your head. Being asked how your day went will provide a nice distraction from a pending aneurysm.

16. Now that the first tire has been glued, take a quick break to search Groupon for marriage counseling deals.

17. Mount the second tire. With any luck, the glue will have fully set by the time your race starts the next morning. There is no better way to test the strength of a glue job than going in hot into turn one.


Swrve Cordura Jeans Review

Regular Trim Fit on the left. Skinny fit on the right

Long Story Short: A Vulcan mind meld of Action Pants and Toughskins. Swrve’s Cordura jeans are the best jeans a cyclist or anyone whose daily business is on the action-packed side can own.

Long Story Long: When it comes to new cycling gear, I can’t upgrade soon enough. When it comes to everyday clothes, I’d be wearing a burlap sack if it wasn’t for my dear wife making sure I’m properly clothed.

And that’s the conundrum with urban cycling apparel.

It all rides that fine line between performance and practical. I guess that’s probably the general idea but for non-clotheshorses that can mean it might take a while to jump on the fashion bandwagon.

In my case that was two years after Swrve released their innovative Cordua jeans. Every (as in all four) pair of jeans I owned had finally bit enough dust to require some new ones. So instead of rolling west towards the Grove, I pedaled east towards VeloLove.

The Regular Trim Fit jeans were love at first sight. My usual size was right on the money and the difference when it came to on-the-bike performance was so immediately apparent I wanted to punch myself in the junk for not upgrading sooner. The most noticeable features were the Spandex infusion (goodbye eternal struggle of trying to pedal in denim) and the seamless crotch (goodbye perpetual taint noogie).

Within a week I was at VeloLove for pairs two and three. Picked up another Trim Fit and a pair of the Skinny Fit for those days when I’m feeling extra sassy.

Here’s the Breakdown: The Regular Trim Fit jeans are just that. Regular and trim fit. There’s plenty of space to move around without being too baggy. I have yet to snag them in a chain ring and if that did happen, I’d be more worried about the chain ring busting a toof. The pockets are smartly laid out and even the quirky pen pocket has grown on me to become a useful feature. On the backside there’s an extra, offset pocket perfectly sized for an iPhone. However, if you’re a klutz and have the protective case to prove it, the mobile pocket my be too tight of a squeeze. If that’s the case, use it to carry a Bit-O-Honey instead.

The Skinny Fit jeans are definitely on the skinny side but not so skinny that a generous application of Crisco is required to slip into them. Another way to describe them would be very tailored. They have the exact same pocket configuration Regular Fit though it’s best to travel light as stuffed pockets will leave you looking a bit lumpy.

If you’ve got quads and glutes of steel, be prepared for your milkshake to bring everyone to the yard. Due to the tighter fit, the articulated knees are much more noticeable on the Skinny Fit jeans and definitely allow for a full and frictionless range of motion.

Like the rest of Swrve’s products, quality is top shelf. After several months of use and dozens of washes, they still look like new all the way down to the built-in reflective strip hidden away on the inside. Every pair of jeans I’ve ever owned has been shredded at the hem due to my strange habit of walking/shuffling barefoot around the house and garage. Meanwhile, these jeans refuse to budge. The Cordura denim is definitely built for the long haul.

Want a Second Opinion? Check out Cycleboredom. They have glamour shots too.

Ergon SRX3 Cyclocross Saddle Review


Long Story Short: A purpose built cyclocross racing saddle sounds like a gimmick- until you try it.

Long Story Long: After reading my review of Ergon’s CF-3 seatpost, my astute reader noticed their yet-to-be-released SRX3 was perched atop that post and asked what I thought of it.

Before we get to that, here’s some context. When I started racing, er, participating, in cyclocross, the first two seasons I used an old WTB Shadow V (one of my all-time favorite MTB saddles) I had laying around. For CX, the nose could be a little harsh and the internal cut-out made for a lot of flex when remounting. By the time it was re-retired, it was droopy enough to start looking like a Ken doll size hammock.

Next up was Ritchey’s Streem saddle. It lasted about a week before going back on my road bike. The board stiff shell meant every re-mount was a chance to bludgeon your gooch.

Then, on the recommendation of a friend who could actually be classified as a racerFizik’s Arione got the nod. His reasoning for it being the best saddle for cyclocross stemmed from its length. As long as you could get in the same area code when re-mounting, you were never going to miss. With that sound bit of logic, the Arione enjoyed an undisputed run of three perpetually podium adjacent seasons under my tubby butt.

When I got the SRX3, I was actually sad to chuck my Arione into the dark corner of the garage. By comparison, the SRX3 is much shorter, particularly at the nose, which had me a little skeptical. This turned out to be a non-issue and revealed itself to be a positive feature over the course of this past SoCalCross season.

The short nose meant no more chamois snagging when jumping back on the bike. (I know that’s probably not a very common occurrence, but I’m a klutz and am good for pulling that sweet power move at least a couple times a year.) Along with being shorter, the nose is flatter and wider which makes being on the rivet suck a little less. The rest of the saddle stays as flat as possible with a slight kicktail at the back to help keep you planted.

Ergon says its design allows for “fast and unhindered position changes” aka “cyclocross maneuvers.” To that end, they knocked the SRX3 out of the park. The design is so seamless that it’s nearly invisible- especially while racing. There was never a time when coming up with post-race excuses that I even considered pointing a boney, Cheeto dust covered finger of blame at the SRX3.

Seriously, Ergon invented a whole new category with this saddle.

Here’s the Breakdown: The SRX3 measures approximately 130mm wide (measured across the widest point of the black area) by 180mm long (tail to tip). This puts it right in-between Ergon’s small and medium XC saddles. What’s the German word for slightly bigger than small? If you’re someone who’d normally run size large, the SRX3 would probably be comfortable enough for 45 minutes to an hour.


While thin, the padding does a great job of being supportive. The SRX3 reminds me of the Selle Italia SLR in terms of size and thickness except for the fact that its padding is up for the job. By contrast, a hard look could bottom out the SLR.

That being said, the SRX3 definitely reminds you of its intended use on longer rides. By the three hour mark that invisibility starts to wear off and its minimal padding becomes noticeable. While this might not be an issue for other riders, it is something to consider. If your CX bike is also your adventure bike, something a little more robust might be in order.

Then again, it all comes down to picking the right tool for the right job.

Want more info? Check out CX Magazine’s take.

Ergon CF3 Carbon Seatpost Review

Ergon CF-3

Long Story Short: German engineering turns bumps into chumps with near set-it-and-forget-it simplicity.

Long Story Long: Before the start of this past cyclocross season, I was offered the chance to test out Ergon‘s new CF3 Seatpost that was about to hit the market after a solid year of suspense. While there was no doubt it was an intriguing item, I was mildly worried that the offer was really more of a dare. My knack for breaking stuff rivals this kid’s, I’m a party ball and half a tube of Pringles away of cresting the posted 220lb weight limit, and I was specifically asked to go race cross with it. At the time, Ergon made it quite clear that the CF3 was for road use only.

After 18 races and four months under my tubby butt (along with rigorous, quantifiable testing back home in Germany) the Ergon CF3 has been deemed fit for cross use.

That’s all fine and dandy, but you’re here because you want to know how it works, right?

Quite simply, the CF3 performs exactly as billed while being virtually invisible. Think of it as a bump silencing ninja. Once the initial “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” amazement wears off, you don’t realize how well it works until you go back to a standard rigid seatpost and suddenly feel every single bump and imperfection in the surface underneath you.

The fact that it works so effortlessly well is a game changer. Not only is your ride instantly more comfortable (goodbye lower back pain), the suspension action helps keep you planted on the saddle allowing you to pedal through the rough stuff when you’d otherwise be forced to stand.

The amount of flex the post has is a bit of a mystery. While Ergon declines to assign a number, they reinforce basic rules of physics by stating the post will flex more under a heavier rider or more stress. The only time its “travel” has been noticeable is when you pull a sweet move like auguring your rear wheel into a gopher hole at full speed while seated or muffing your remount and doing a Hulk Hogan leg drop on the tail end of the saddle with all your weight.

Even then, the amount of movement you feel is slight as the pivoting head keeps the saddle in an even plane. This is a total 180 from the pogo stick action of the suspension seatposts from the days of yore.

Lest you think it doesn’t really work unless you can feel it flexing, not to worry. There will be at least one person in your riding group who will curiously point out that your seatpost is moving.

Here’s the Breakdown:
 Set up is very easy but I can’t stress enough the importance of taking your time and following the instructions. (That means using a torque wrench.) The flip head gives you plenty of fore/aft range and is a snap to install a saddle. Testing the setback version of the CF3, I found the forward position ideal. With tilt adjustment requiring full seatpost removal, it would be best to get things dialed-in in a controlled environment.

I made the impatient mistake of venturing off for a shakedown ride immediately after installing the post, stopping a few times along the way to dial in the the saddle angle. The CF3 is really two individual pieces connected by the by the head up top and a 3mm-ish bolt at the bottom. Tilt adjustment is accomplished by loosening the bolt and sliding the two halves into your desired position. Being the thoughtful Germans they are, Ergon includes a measurement scale to gauge how much you’ve moved things. There’s second scale along the side of the post to measure seat height.

Even with the help of the scale, tilt adjustment is a bit of trial and error which can be chalked up to simply using a new product for the first time. Over the course of pulling out the post a few times, I managed to wipe off most of the carbon paste which resulted in glacial slippage. The post dropped a good two inches over the course of a 15 mile ride home but not at a rate that was noticeable as it was happening.

And that little nugget of mechanical shame leads to what I feel is the most important part to know about the set up.

Because the CF3 seatpost isn’t perfectly round, (look close and you’ll see a little gap where the two halves meet) carbon paste needs to your best friend to avoid slippage. Those little molecules or whatever is in carbon paste make all the difference. Once I re-installed the post with a fresh coat and seat height and position locked in, I haven’t touched it since. No squeaks, creaks, or slipping to be had.

Want a Second Opinion? Check out this long-term review from Gravel Grinder News.