Bringing back the Cycling Cap one Domestique at a time

Review: 2014 Reynolds Assault SLG

January 2013 - Fresh off dipping my toes into carbon clincher waters via the Reynolds 46C, I immediately went to look for something more modern. I wanted a wheelset with a toroidal cross section, light weight and the requisite wide track. These wheels need to be priced far enough from Zipp and Enve to make sense not getting the after-mentioned wheels. 

With Reynolds really making a fresh, good impression I didn't hesitate to pull the trigger (or rather push the Buy Now button) on a pair of 2014 Reynolds Assault SLGs. 

Indeed, the spec sheet was impressive. Toroidal - check. Wide - check. Lightweight - check. Affordable - hmmm okay, check. 

A few emails to my USA shipper and a few days later, the Assaults have arrived.





Tech

There is much to like about the 2014 Reynolds Assaults. 

First, the depth. The Assault SLGs come in at a very very sexy 41mm rim depth. I would like to say that for a Roadie like yours truly, this depth is just PERFECT. It looks deep enough to be aero yet thin enough to suggest rapid acceleration. Who would have imagined that just shaving off 5mm from the 2013 Assault depth would make much of a difference. 




Reynolds 46 C and Assault SLG - 46mm and 41mm

Second, the width. At 25mm wide. The assault SLGs give you width and then some. When paired with our staple 25mm GP4000s', we were presented with a very clean tire-rim profile without the lightbulb shape which would have been present in the case of 25mm tires and 21mm> rims. This would surely please a lot of aero geeks (oops....enthusiasts) out there. Aerodynamics aside, we were surprised at how low we went with our air pressure. More on this later.

Third. Weight. Our sample came in exactly at the manufacturer's claimed 1475g (Front: 649g, Rear: 826g - no tape and skewers). The Assault SLGs do not really stand out from the crowd in terms of overall weight. But - the listed weight is not bad at all, given the 25mm width.  




Straight pull hubs are by Reynolds Racing and spokes are DT Swiss Aerocomps. Twenty radial spokes in front and 24 in the rear mounted in a two cross-drive side pattern.

The Cryogenic Glass Transition (CTg) brake surface which is present in our previous 46C clinchers makes is also incorporated into the Assault SLGs. CTg is a series of different compounds and materials which are designed to better withstand the heat produced by braking. And of course, the system requires the use of Reynolds' Cryo Blue pads which are solely to be used with the CTg surface.

Reynold's Swirl Lip Generator (SLG) is also featured in the Assault SLG :). SLG is a very small protrusion on the inner edge of the rim which disrupts passing air enough to replicate the airflow of a wider rim. The effect of which is smoother, and therefore faster, airflow.

Spoke nipples are external; this should please a lot of cyclists who do their own truing.

Graphics are thankfully subdued, with the logos and names printed in thin white outlines.


Veloplugs

This was our first time to try Veloplugs as well. In an effort to keep the set weight below 1.5kg, we used these marvelous contraptions to keep the weight down. And they worked! At an estimated 5g per wheel, we saved somewhere in the region of 30-40 grams compared to the supplied tapes. 

Weight weenies rejoice!

Oh, and just so everyone knows, we used the Red Veloplugs for the Assault SLGs.


My sincerest apologies for using an Instagram pic of the plugs
.

On the Road


During our first time out with the Assault SLGs, we experienced a very loud squeal coming from the front brakes when applied at medium to high speed. While disconcerting, we easily remedied this by toeing in the pads. Although recommended, this was something we never had to do with the 46Cs. 

Almost Immediately the 25mm width's advantages made itself felt. While we typically run 95/100 PSI front/rear. We purposely pumped in 90/95 during our first ride. It made a bit of a difference. Subtle but noticeable. And after several more rides and a few pounds of rider weight loss, we now run the Assault SLGs with a tire pressure of 75/85. 

The ride at this pressure is simply amazing! 

Acceleration is very good and so is the handling. The stiffness of the 46Cs is still there, but fortunately, much of the bite from road bumps are taken out by the tires. 

One thing that these new aero shapes do well is handle crosswinds. The Assault SLGs are no exception. Although you still feel sudden sideward gusts, they are a lot less noticeably felt and you can easily power through constant sidewinds from 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock.

We really like the Assault SLGs and it seems these will be mounted on roadie for quite a long time. 


Looks perfect on the Foil


Verdict


Equipped with the latest in wheelset tech. Not exactly cheap but the money feels well spent.

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Review: 2013 Reynolds 46 Clincher

December 2013 - I have always stuck to rims with aluminum brake surfaces as they allow me to brake as I please and as hard as I please without much thought about delamination or warping. Indeed, the internet is filled with such horror stories due to failures related to brake surface overheating.


This was until I test rode a friend’s generic 50mm carbon hoops.  I was immediately blown away by the weight... or rather, the lack of it.  After rolling on 1700 gram Shimano C50’s for the better part of the last year, riding on sub 1500 gram wheels was difference as distinguishable as night and day.  


Hill climbing became less of a chore and we went through said uphills a tad faster than normal.


That said, I still hesitated on getting a set. What if it rained? Carbon wheels are notoriously poor in stopping in the wet. What about long descents where you had to sustain constant brake pressure?  Conditions which are reported to be the cause of warping?


Pass.


One day, on a random visit to my favorite brick and mortar LBS, the Godmother herself saw me looking at some carbon hoops and gave me an offer I can’t refuse.


I went home with a pair of 11-speed compatible 2013 Reynolds 46C's.






As much as I hate to admit it, I was pretty excited to leave my alloy brake surface comfort zone and put on new wheelsets. I suppose any Cyclist would feel as giddy whenever such a new equipment scenario presented itself.


On a side note, I would have gone for a more popular and affordable offering from the Reynolds stable, but to be frank, I didn’t quite warm up the graphics on the 2013 Assaults. But subdued graphics, DT hubs and better spokes were enough, in my mind, to pay extra for the 46 C’s.  


Tech


Sporting a more traditional 21mm width and regular V-shaped cross section. The 46C does not sport the now de rigeur toroidal shape nor the 23+ mm width of its newer competitors. Be that as it may, doing so has made the 46C’s innately light without delving into exotic carbon layup territory. And for more than a few cyclists, light weight is an advantage in itself. Although based on what we would now call old tech, the 46C is not without its own aero tricks. Reynolds have incorporated their SLG (Swirl Lip Generator) technology to the inner edge of the rims. This, Reynolds claim, reduces drag on the 46C by approximately 20% at 10 deg yaw,  


The wheels came in at a listed 1440 grams, roughly the equivalent of the Shimano WH-9000-C24’s we’re so fond of. But of course the 46Cs come in a more aero-friendly 46mm depth profile. As an aero road frame user, it makes perfect sense to mount aero wheels to match. The 46C's Simple, smart graphics is always a welcome bonus.  





To address the extended braking scenarios, Reynolds integrated their CTg braking system in the 46 C. The CTg (Cryogenic Glass Transition) System is Reynolds’ patented rim-pad pairing that enables so equipped Reynolds wheels to run up to 53% cooler compared to standard carbon-pad combinations’. In effect, CTg uses different kinds of carbon laminates to transition from the brake surface to the rim itself. This creates a heat sink effect wherein the brake surface passes heat onto other areas on the rim surface where passing airflow helps dissipate the it.  


This ensures smooth and predictable braking performance and dependability. As a system, users are required to use the included Cryo Blue pads else the warranty is void.


Handling mechanical duties are DT Swiss straight pull hubs. Spokes are DT Swiss Aerolites. The front is laced radially with 20 spokes while the rear has 24 in two-cross config. This configuration, like it or not, utilizes internal nipples. While we are sure this aids with smoother airflow, it’s certain to turn some off from doing frequent DIY truing.  


For 2014, reynolds have replaced the 46 C with the 46 Aero model. This updated wheelset sports a whopping 26.2mm width with aerodynamic features similar to the current 58 Aero. Weight has grown to 1505 grams though. 

All in all we were very satisfied with the 46c's.  


On the Road


The first thing we noticed about the 46's other than weight is the stiffness.  The wheels give the impression of immediately transmitting pedal input to the road where it belongs. Spinning these wheels up from a standstill is very very easily accomplished. At speed, the wheels hold speed quite well.


We used the 46C’s with our favorite 25mm GP 4000s’ without a problem. Although this produced a pronounced ‘lightbulb effect’, we felt the immediate benefit of a smoother ride due to the reduced air pressure possible with 25mm tires.


The DT Swiss hubs are smooth and quiet. Perhaps too quiet as we frequently had to call the attention of pedestrians and fellow cyclists as we went freewheeling.


We had the chance to test braking performance on a winding 8km descent from Bugarin. We have to admit that carbon braking takes some getting used to in terms of technique. However, the change is not that far off from alloy as it involves anticipation, timely deceleration and alternating between front and rear brakes. We do miss the ability to gun the brake levers all the way down though.


Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I was not able to test the brakes in the wet. Though it’s something one should prepare for, it’s not something I’m looking forward to personally.



Verdict


Not the most modern of carbon clinchers but still plenty light and stiff. A great value if you get it at a discount!


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Ride Review: BGC Philippines 40k Challenge



Around nine weeks back, Daytripper1021 told me about an upcoming Cycling event , BGC Philippines 40k Challenge.

With non-cycling stuff to worry about, I lukewarmly agreed, forked out the Php 1500++ fee and completed the online registration for the event. 

At the time, all I knew was this ride was that this ride will run 40 kilometers within the Cycling friendly, unpolluted streets of Metro Manila (sarcasm inline). The November 17 event date was then far off in the horizon and was the least of my worries. 

Training for the ride was the last thing on my mind.

Days seemed to pass in a flurry until, lo and behold, it was November 15 and I was informed via email and SMS that our race kits were available for pickup. Realizing what commotion 2,000 cyclists can wreak in a cramped venue, Daytripper and I quickly made arrangements to pick up the items on the first day.

The Goods

Long story short, we were able to get our kit and get back to our lowly cubicles during lunch break. When we opened the bag (which, in itself, is an item of its own), we had ourselves an extremely well made dye-sublimated race jersey from F2P, a pair of RPJ Sunglasses (a Rudy Project brand), a bottle of Gatorade, reflectors, stickers and timing chip.

Photo by PTrainer JC

The fact that either the jersey or the shades alone costs as much as the entry fee makes the registration fee feel worth it. Add to that the Felt-branded canvas sling bag... sure it may be low cost, but it's useability, on two wheels or on foot, is beyond question.  

The Ride

We were part of Wave A which was scheduled to depart right after the Ride with Robbie wave. Robbie being retired Aussie pro-tour rider Robbie McEwen. Luckily, I was able to sneak in a few rides a few days before the event and shake off the rust from my semi atrophied calves, quads and hammies.

As the mass of riders assembled at the starting line at the corner of 9th and 10 avenues in BGC, i wrapped up some warmup laps and made my way to the start line to join my wave. I saw daytripper1021 looking at me from the other side of the crowd with a sheepish grin seemingly saying "Oh great! You actually woke up". I nodded in acknowledgement.

The challenge started off 5 minutes later than scheduled to give Robbie McEwen time to gauge their wave's abilities, or so the event host announced.... so, at exactly 6:10am, we were off. 

The takeoff was not without drama. Off the bat, a rider in front of me seemed to have difficulty clipping his cleats in and came to a stop, causing the rider behind to collide. Good thing, I was able to avoid them. 

As the group turned toward St. Lukes Medical Center, one rider's water bottle got detached and flew off across the road. The riders in front of me swerved to avoid the bottle and all the while pointing at the hazard. This, thankfully, was the last of the drama as far as my ride was concerned.   

As we turned right on Kalayaan, we were greeted by slow lengthy climb and as we reached the peak riders started to bunch up in order to avoid a huge unrepaired pothole. Credit has to be given to the event organizers as each and every pothole, train rail and road hazard had a marshall standing guard to warn cyclists of impending wheelset damage.

Once we passed this and started downhill, we soon found ourselves breaking right and on C5 road. Cycling on C5 has always been in my bucket list, but unruly drivers, jaywalkers, bad road patches and other stuff were always around to turn me off. Well, this was the day is when I ticked it off my bucket list as we had a lane and a half all to ourselves. 

C5 is a series of rolling uphills and descents but most enjoyable was the long descent towards The Heritage Park. With an unobstructed view of the relatively straight road, most cyclists, myself included, undoubtedly had their top speed marks set here. Conserving energy, I maxed out at 48km/h with just a moderate application of pedal power.

Taking a U-turn using the Bayani Road underpass, we made our way back to BGC with haste. Things were pretty uneventful except for the exit climbing up to Market Market where we had to do a steep 500 meter climb while avoiding some ruts and cracks. Lack of climbing practice took it's toll as a lot of guys I passed on flats and descents overtook me.   

As we made our way to the Buendia flyover, things started looking a lot better. As we started yet another short climb, we were greeted with asphalt. Well laid, smooth asphalt. As we traversed Buendia, buildings and trees provided ample shade cyclists.

The smooth goings on however, were interrupted once we passed the train rails on the corner of South Super Highway. Everyone had to slow down and pick a spot to cross the rails with minimum bumps.

Soon enough, we found ourselves in Roxas Boulevard. Which was as well asphalted as Buendia. Honking motorists greeted us with every intersection, it seemed. Fortunately, police were there to keep the restless natives from revolting.

At the halfway point in Luneta Grandstand, I stopped at a hydration point and took in a couple of cups of water. The route to the finish line was essentially tracing our way back through Roxas and Buendia.

As I approached the Buendia flyover for the last time, I had a sense that I conserved too much energy. And as I cranked my way up and finished the climb, I figured I'd just enjoy the rest of the ride and not chase a few measly seconds.

As my group approached the finish line, everyone started sprinting. I held back purposely, content with a solo finish and possibly some good finish line pics. And true enough, I had a good solo shot and finish, just a the announcer called out my time.

Out of Shape, but just look at that depth-of-field! 

Daytripper1021 was waiting when I got to the medal awarding area and we managed to get some photos with Robbie. After which, we went for a relaxed cooldown ride around BGC.




I can't express enough how satisfied I am with the BGC Philippines 2013 ride. It's well organized and, in my opinion, well worth the entry price. And of course, riding the same roads you regularly drive through daily sans the traffic and pollution is an experience in itself.

Am I looking forward to BGC Philippines 2014?

I think the question is "When do we start training?".


P.S. 

I asked Robbie McEwen if we can swap Foils (his being Team Edition). He said "It's not mine, go ahead!". Should've had taken him up on that. 




   



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2014 Ultegra 6800 - Dura Ace Tech Trickles Down!

As expected, some a lot of the new features introduced in Shimano's Dura Ace 9000 series will trickle down to the 6800 series Ultegra group, which will be released sometime 2014. As we'll see, it's more than just going 11-speed.

Highlights, in a nutshell: 

  • Crankset (FC-6800) - Will feature a four arm spider resembling the Dura Ace's FC-9000. This will save some weight off the outgoing FC-6700 cranks while offering a standardized crankarm for use with standard, compact and mid-compact chainrings. 
  • Shifters (ST-6800) - Mimics the ergonomics of the Dura Ace ST-9000 in that it's thinner, therefore easier to grip. These will also feature the same light shift effort and shorter lever throw of the Dura Ace STI's. How much so is the question. 

  • Front Derailleur (FD-6800) - Again we see a direct trickle down of Dura Ace technology in the upcoming Ultegra's FD. The long arm, promises the same, light shift effort of the FD-9000. 

  • Brakes (BR-6800) - Symmetrical Dual Pivot design also inherited from the Dura Ace BR-9000. Shimano claims a 10% increase in braking power over the BR-6700. 

  • Rear Derailleur (RD-6800) - One ups the Dura Ace RD-9000 in that a long cage option is available. You'll need this if you want to run the 6800's new 38T large sprockets. 


  • Cassette (CS-6800) - available in 11-23, 11-25, 11-28 and now in 11-32! You'll need a long cage RD-6800 to accommodate the 32T gear though. Having 11 speeds now means having back  one additional 'missing' gear in the middle of the range, or suddenly having a 32T bailout gear for the toughest of climbs. Depends on your point of view. 
  • Chain (CN-6800) - Same as the DA-9000 chain, the inner dimensions are maintained while size reduction only applies to the outer dimensions. The 6800 chain gets a PTFE (Teflon) coating as well. These are not directional which means you can mount it either way. These don't get the CN-9000's hollow pins though.

  • Cables - Also get the Polymer coating used in the 9000 series. 
Everything about the 6800 looks good on paper. Specs and features are up there in terms of mid-level groups and it looks like we just have to suffer some good ol' added weight with the 6800 series. This is, of course, to give the flagship Dura Ace 9000 a halo effect.

As can be observed with the previous Dura Ace 7900 and the Ultegra 6700 series, it's not beyond reason to expect that the Ultegra 6800 will perform very much like the 9000.

Given that the 6800 will set you back almost half of what the 9000 does, the added 200 or so grams is a penalty which we predict a lot of people will gladly bear.

Expected release date is September 2013. Asian release is typically a few months before. 

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Review: Giro Air Attack

2012 really cemented a new Road Bike consideration: Aerodynamics. It was no longer enough that frames and components be light and stiff, they had to be aero. 

While Aerodynamics have long been the realm of wheel designers and Time Trial bikes, it has made its indelible mark on the roadie landscape with the slew of new aerodynamic frames, handlebars, pedals and what have you, all claiming they can cheat the wind and save precious watts.  

Eventually it had to come to this.  The call of aerodynamics found their way to the Helmet as well.  While we have heard of aerodynamic claims from ordinary multi-holed road helmets before, let's just say that this is the first time that we have seen something which really looks like something we'd imagine an aero road helmet to be.  

Here we have in our hands.... Giro's Air Attack.



Impressions

First off, let's get straight to the aesthetics issue. You either like the looks of the Air Attack or you hate it. I haven't seen anyone who's just fine or lukewarm with the looks. Anyone with an Air Attack is bound to get comments like 'it looks like something you'd find on a mountainbiker' or 'is that helmet from Tony Hawk?'.  We can't blame people for saying that because, well, it's true. But you do have to take into consideration where the design is rooted.

Only six vents present on the Air Attack

Giro's designers wanted to take their Selector tear drop helmet and somehow adapt the design to produce a road specific cycling helmet. Giro's designers tapped into the now familiar Kamm-tail aero principle. This states that you can still get very good aerodynamic performance by having the front end of the very aerodynamic teardrop shape and lopping off the rear portion as the air still tends to flow as if over a whole teardrop shape. This design has been implemented in newer aero road frames such as Scott's Foil and BMC's TMR01 among others.

Two of the vents are actually dedicated for exhaust

This lends to what the Air Attack looks like now... a truncated Selector. 

It may take some getting used to but from our perspective it's not at all ugly. In fact, it has a certain 'function over form' beauty to it.  

As in most Giro helmets, build quality is top notch. The outer shell is finished nicely with perfectly placed decals and chrome emblem. The cables and straps are well placed and the adjusters and locks are made of quality plastic. Overall, you're looking at a top-class lid.



Features

Giro claims that the Air Attack's aerodynamic efficiency sits somewhere between the Aeon and the Selector, with the latter being the best. This is to be expected as the Air Attack does not have as much drag producing vents the Aeon has but also lacks the long teardrop tail of the Selector.  If you want the maths of it, head on over to Spokeydokeyblog to see the extrapolated power savings of the Air Attack.


And speaking of vents, the Air Attack will come up dead last in most helmet vent comparisons, sporting just six (two front, two top, two exhaust).  However, Giro pulled up some tricks from its ventilation sleeve. Instead of the helmet making contact with your head, the helmet is actually suspended 3 millimeters above the rider's head by Giro's Roc Loc Air system. What this does is give room for the air to flow under the helmet and over your head thus providing ventilation.

Roc Loc Air mechanism suspends the Air Attack a few millimeters above your head

As seen here, there is a bit of space on the forehead as well as groove channels on the side of the foam to allow air to channel inwards. Giro claims that the air attack sits in between the Aeon and the Selector on this front as well, this time with the Aeon providing the best ventilation.

Internal grooves help channel air over the head

The adjustment mechanism works satisfactorily in-ride, but not as easily as our long term tester Prevail, mostly due to the smaller knob. We found initial strap adjustments a bit finicky, but its a one time thing so it's not really a big deal.

Our sample came in at is 312 grams, heavy by today's standards.

As weighted: 312 grams


A magnetic visor is available in the Air Attack Shield. This visor is made by renowned optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss Vision. The visor can easily be detached and reattached while in the saddle and can be mounted upside-down to allow the rider to get it out of the way for whatever reason. As the system uses magnets, this is easily accomplished.

The Air Attack Shield with the magnetic visor

On The Road

Our size Large sample sat quite comfortably and we found the Roc Loc Air mechanism was quite secure. That said, our Prevail is a tiny bit more comfortable, but then again not as comfortable as our old Bell Array in terms of pure fit. You can take this with a grain of salt however as head shape, and therefore fit, is extremely relative and varies from person to person.

The added weight, compared to our erstwhile staple lid Prevail, was a bit noticeable when initially worn but becomes a non issue over the course of a ride.

Ventilation, now this is what a lot of people ask about. Initial skepticism on probable marketing hype were dismissed once we were in motion. Yes, we were actually surprised at the airflow the Air Attack provides! Giro's gimmicky venting system actually works. The slits on the front of the helmet provide adequate ventilation from 14 km/h and good ventilation from 19 km/h. In between 25 to around 30 km/h is where you want to be to truly call the helmet breezy. And one more thing, you'd want to be facing a bit downward and point the vents onto incoming air to really ram it in.

That said, this is still not as well ventilated as our Prevail, whose mega mouthport just blows off or dries forehead sweat.

One positive thing we noticed with the Giro is the wind noise... or lack thereof. This is noticeably quieter than previous multi-vent helmets we used. The only noise we noticed is from the air going over the ears.

What we didn't like is the rear height/angle adjuster. It's a bit too easy to adjust and we observed that it keeps adjusting by itself.  The good thing is that our preferred fit is at the lowest position, which the adjuster seems to default to.

Final Words

They say that, as in fighter planes, if it looks fast - it looks good. And while we can't dispute that the Air Attack is faster in the wind tunnel, real world advantages are very much subject to debate. Nonetheless, the Air Attack is the first of a growing list of dedicated aero helmets for road cyclists with the Scott Vanish Aero having just been announced and Specialized's thing undergoing field testing (below).



With the advent of UCI banning helmet covers such as Lazer's Aeroshell, we expect that manufactures will continue to churn out dedicated aero road helmets. At this point it's looking as like they are here to stay.

Verdict

Not our first choice on long climbs in hot summer days but something we'll definitely sport on the flats.  Just get used to other Cyclists staring at you until these aero road helms become more commonplace. 

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The Cycling Epiphanies (2009)

A friend recently liked this note I made on my Facebook page way back 2009. Good thing he did as I totally forgot I wrote this. Anyway here's a collection of my random cycling induced musings.

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Cycling often induces conditions of extreme physical stress which isolates your mind. This isolation, in turn, separates your mind from immediate reality and allows you reflect on things apparent and things unrealized. To break down your complex life into simple nuggets (ahem) wisdom or common sense. Here are some what I still remember...

1. Happiness is simply expectation management.

2. Always smile or at least pose for photography students when cycling. You'll never know when or where your pic will end up posted!

3. Anything worth doing is worth doing in style. Really.

4. The more you give, the more you truly are rewarded.

5. Reward yourself continuously! You deserve it! Let yourself feel it!

6. Never let depression, negativity or anger take you over. 

7. Overanalysis overcomplicates. The quickest distance between two points is a straight line.

8. Truth be told, the fact of the matter is, if all things are equal = they are.

9. The right music can make you better. The wrong music can make you worse.

10. "Be yourself, no matter what they say" is constantly and perpetually true. People will like you just because you're you.

11. If you want something, focus on it and get it. Don't settle. You'll save a whole lot of money than doing incremental upgrades.

12. Always listen, be patient and learn. You neither omniscient nor perfect. 

13. Cycling requires fast legs, not strong legs.

14. Be not afraid of asking other people for answers. Not knowing is human and this is why pride is considered a sin.

15. First impressions are just impressions. Dig deeper!

16. Know what makes you happy. do it, enjoy it, cherish it and never forget it!

17. Don't forget to jumble life's priorities once in while! 

18. At the end of the day, it's the end of the day. GO HOME AND REST!

19. Be proud of and never forget where you're coming from.

20. This works for me: Preburn -> Carbo Load -> GO! Preburn: 250-300 calories (light cycling), Carbo Load: Eat lots of Carbo (+Coffee), Go: intense workout (usually 80kms/2000cal). Good for losing 2-3 lbs the next day.

21. Kung Nike, Nike. Kung Adidas, Adidas. Don't mix outfits and shoes! :D 

22. Keep evolving. It's not only exciting, it keeps you young! Only archaeologists dig dinosaur pits (pun intended). 

23. If you don't like what you see, step back or maybe step forward. A change in perspective might sometimes result in a change of view.

24. Keep forging on! However, while moving forward, look back once in a while. You might have forgotten something. 

25. Never think that you're too cool to dive into a new or baduy experience! 

26. It goes in like this... earphones, then helmet, then shades over helmet straps! Just do it.

27. When peoplewatching, always remember that you, too, are being peoplewatched. Now try it wearing cycling shorts in a resto full of people who just came from mass.

28. You know what they say about the Big Guy the door and the window, right? So stop banging on the door! :)

29. All uphills are followed by downhills. The harder the climb, the sweeter the descent!

30. Mas mahirap maging Rapper kesa Rock Star! I sang Stigmatized by The Calling...sakit sa lalamunan pero ok lang. Then we sang I Know You Want Me by Pitbull.... potek.... pagod kami mind body and soul ergo the conclusion :D  (It's harder being a Rapper than a Rock Star! I sang Stigmatized by the Calling... my throat hurt but was ok. Then we sang I Know You Want Me by Pitbull.... damn... we were tired mind, body and soul therefore the conclusion)





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Ok so just go ahead and ignore number 30. Be happy and ride safe! 

~Armand 

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Ride Report: Bugarin-Mabitac-Jalajala

Manila, The Philippines. Having a couple non-working holidays off due to Holy Week, my ride buddy Mr. Bourne and I decided to ride somewhere a bit farther away from our usual weekly fitness loops. At the back of our minds, we already knew where. A few text messages later and the plan set. We're gonna go back to Rizal and do the Bugarin climb and Jalajala loop.

The Climb

Bugarin is not a town in itself but is a sitio, an outlying community which is part of Pililla Municipality in the province of Rizal.

A sort of Mecca to Pinoy cyclists who have access to it, the Bugarin climb is one of those early challenges which simply must be conquered. The climb in itself is not that difficult. From the stopover known as Pisong Kape (One Peso Coffee)it's a straight 8.8 kilometer climb to around 1,100ft (332m). This makes for an average gradient of 3.7%. Deceptively hidden in these kilometers are two Strava Category 3 climbs, and first-timers are best advised not to exert too much effort in the earlier sections to prevent bonking.

In an area filled with climbs of all sorts, Bugarin may be the easiest. Cyclists looking for something more challenging can try any of a variety of other nearby routes including the Sampaloc Road climb with several Category 4s.

No KOMs nor PRs were to be broken though as Mr. Bourne and I agreed beforehand that this ride will be purely recreational... one of those "reconnect with your love of cycling" affairs.  We were just out to enjoy the sights and the sounds.

We headed by car to Pisong Kape hoping to start the climb early. Being Good Friday, we got into our fair share of traffic en route as we had to go through a crowd of devotees doing their yearly walk to Antipolo church. After spending 45 minutes of Good Friday penance in traffic, the rest of the drive was thankfully exceptionally smooth, devoid of anything you can remotely describe as traffic.



But the delay took its toll. Starting an hour later than planned, we were off following the Manila East Road to Bugarin. And while the climb itself was quite uneventful, the scenery was not.  All the way up, we got our fair share of fresh air and lush mountainous scenery.  and being Good Friday, there was almost no vehicle traffic, save for the occasional motorcycle rider doing a Valentino Rossi impression. But we were not alone.  Cyclists of all sorts were also along for the ride, from local pros to recreational cyclists chatting along on mountain bikes.

The view from Lookout Point (image: Jun Roche)

Halfway up, I stopped at the lookout point to rehydrate and admire Laguna Lake in all it's glory (all while waiting for my HR to drop below stress levels).  All in all, it took my gravitationally challenged self 44 minutes to climb 8.8 kilometers and overcome that last steep section and arrive in Bugarin. Not exactly like a Schleck but borderline acceptable for a big guy on aero wheels.

After the last few meters of the grind, I found myself stopping at a carinderia and hooking my bike on a stand. Bugarin itself is just a collection of houses welcoming tired cyclists. The place makes its intentions pretty clear as several bike stands are provided to hold on to your ride while you replenish. All the shops have Gatorade and are just raring to serve something up to refuel you on your way back.

To my surprise The Cannibal, another ride buddy, was already having a mid-ride recovery meal with Mr. Bourne.  After a few minutes of chit-chat, we refilled the water bottles, clipped in and headed off. While the guys had actual food, I just had a sachet of peanut butter Gu gel. Yes, I was saving the appetite for later.

The Descent

After pedaling all of twenty revolutions, we started our pedal-free descent into Laguna, a different province altogether.  It took me almost an hour to get over the top but only fifteen minutes to reach sea level. Even with safety as top priority, I still took the corners with relish. The roads were smooth and  inviting and just egging you on to corner even more aggressively. At this point, I'm really loving the BR-9000's braking performance. Braking power is very very good and it doesn't take much effort to apply that power.

Upon reaching the bottom, we traversed the long, flat straight which led to Mabitac.  The town is unusually quiet that day and we passed by it without the tricycle dodging that usually occurs.  On the way out we did pass quite a few flagellants. A gentle reminder of what day it is.

The Flats:  Mabitac - Jalajala

With the suffering of the climb and the adrenaline rush of the descent both over and done with, we now started the last part of our ride: 49 kilometers of oft-shaded two lane provincial roads around the peninsula going back to where we started.



With roads this open, there's always time for a photo op 

Providing a welcome respite from the madding streets of Manila, the roads in this area of Jalajala, Rizal province provide kilometer upon kilometer of cycling bliss. Most of the streets are well shaded, having ample tree cover. Apart from one or two instances of unfinished road repair (which only extend to around 3 meters max), the roads themselves are in good condition and are very rideable.

75% of the road back is this scenic. It's worth the trip. (Image: SGPanguito)

By 10:30am, there was a marked increase in vehicle traffic which we attributed to vacationers from Manila making a trek to Laguna. That said, we're talking about probably only a dozen vehicles every thirty minutes. A bigger concern as the miles rolled on was the heat, especially on some long unshaded stretches near the finish. Aware of this, we made pretty sure that we were properly hydrated, stopping whenever we had to. The availability of sari-sari stores on a holiday sure helped a lot.  It's always a good thing when you have ready access to a cold sweaty bottle of Coke before blasting through a section of road baked by the noon-day sun.

As the kilometers passed, the route had just once final trick up it's sleeve: a short  ~7% grade climb lasting about 300 meters with about 2 kilometers left in the loop. While this may not sound like a lot, having this section at the end of a ride in a sunny, tropical noon is a test your stamina, energy reserves and psyche.

After exactly 63.6 kilometers. We were back to where we started. We vowed to do this again next year and the year after that. Cycling future aside, I started looking for something more... short term... time to get some grub.

Recovery

Our goal was not to train. Not to grab a few Strava KOMs. The goal was to reconnect and get back to the root of why we love cycling. Mission accomplished.

Aerial view: We started from the left,  pedaled up the mountain in the middle and around the coast!

Ride safe!

~Armand

Post Script: 

  • Pre-ride and in-ride food toll: Two slices of wheat bread, a thick slice of dubliner, a glass of Glucerna SR, two bottles of Gatorade, one Gu gel, a Sprite and two bottles of water.
  • Totally forgetting my Catholic roots and partly because of post-ride hallucination, I ordered and ate a slab of liempo on Good Friday. Sorry God!
  • Trying to avoid the traffic situation in Antipolo, we took an alternate route going back to Manila. and encountered a parade of flagellants carrying crosses down Sampaloc road.  It doesn't look like they were having a good time but the 'Roman Guards' sure did!


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