Mammoth down on Pescadero Road!

Hard to believe the storm of the decade was just a few days ago!
Hard to believe the storm of the decade was just a few days ago!

The scale wasn’t telling a very pleasant tale after not having ridden since December 4th (that and finding the food in Peru to be very much to my liking!). No question, this was not going to be a fast ride! But that worked out well since we had Alec (from our Redwood City store) along with us, and Alec doesn’t have too many miles yet. Plus he’s a nice guy and fun to talk with, all of which works for a more social-paced event.

Of course, it had to be the usual. Coastal classic, once again. Up Old LaHonda, down the other side, past the duck pond in LaHonda, over Haskins to Pescadero, Stage Road to Tunitas and over the hill home.

Fallen Mammoth on Pescadero Road
Fallen Mammoth on Pescadero Road
Met up with Laura Stern on the way up Old LaHonda, which kinda killed the idea of taking things really easy (for both of us; there are some people, like Laura and I, that find it difficult to just ride easy when you come across each other. It’s not a competitive thing, just something happens where you just can’t ride too slowly, maybe it’s a respect thing?). Still, Kevin and Alec came up very shortly afterward.

We did make one unscheduled stop, to take pictures of the fallen-over mammoth at the farm on the left, a couple miles before Pescadero. There’s actually two giant prehistoric iron replicas in the field, but the triceratops, closer to the road, has never lost a battle. Only the mammoth has been seen to fall over after a heavy rain. After that came the mandatory stop at the Pescadero Bakery, although just for cokes this time, as we’d eaten far too much before starting the ride, thanks to using the Woodside Bakery as the designated meeting place.

Don't worry, we normally don't ride 5 abreast; this was for the photo
Don’t worry, we normally don’t ride 5 abreast; this was for the photo

Heading north on Stage we became a larger group as we came across Linda Jackson, President and founder of the women’s Tibco racing team. Thankfully, she, too, was riding at a social pace today! We even had one of those rare days without a headwind on Stage Road. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Tunitas? That was to be the star attraction of today’s ride, getting to see (and hear) water actually running in the creek again, and it didn’t disappoint. No speed records today; it might have been possible to get under an hour from the coast, but that would have been pushing Alec just a bit too hard.

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Disc brakes and evil greedy bike shops

Even in Peru I can’t take my mind off work, kind of natural since work is bikes and cycling is my life. So I’m monitoring a local bike club’s E-list, in which someone was talking about the actual merits of disc brakes on road bikes. It got the reply from someone else below-

The major benefit is helping local bike shops stay afloat by contributing to another profit center.¬†The new hydraulic brakes are more expensive than mere brake pads. It also creates a time filler activity that cyclists can participate in (online shopping) while they’re stuck indoors¬†during periods of rain not too mention the conversational benefits…

I couldn’t let that go, even in Peru, when I should be getting to sleep because we’re catching an early flight home the next morning. My response below-

Not sure if I’m missing a joke or what. If this is a serious note, your local bike shop is likely not deriving profit from the proliferation of new ways to change the basic workings of the bicycle. The cost in inventory is massive beyond belief, the cost in training staff on new technologies considerable, and any profit from selling shiny expensive bike gadgets at the local bike shop level has been eliminated by a playing field that is seriously tilted against the small retailer.

Having said that, there remains a need to address the utility of the disc brake in general. I do not believe it’s needed for most road bikes, because most road cyclists aren’t riding in the rain. But for those that do (raising my hand on this one), and especially those that do any real descending, a disc brake has massive advantages over a standard rim brake. Some of this is from added stopping power, but mostly from not having to replace brake pads every two to three rides if you’re doing a lot of descending (for example, my regular Tuesday & Thursday-morning ride, with about 3300ft of climbing/descending) and, perhaps more important, not having to be concerned about having your rim literally explode apart because it’s been ground through by the brake pads. That’s a rain-only phenomenon, caused by the sandpaper-effect of water & grit that grinds away both rubber brake pads and aluminum rims.

Dry weather stopping power really isn’t an issue for any modern well-adjusted standard caliper brake. The only time it might be helpful would be for those who “drag” a brake constantly on a long, steep descent. The person who rides at 20 miles per hour downhill is putting a lot more wear & tear into brake pads and rims than the person doing 40. The simple physics involved show that the higher-speed descender (I’m not talking about reckless high speeds) is having wind resistance do a lot more of the work slowing him or her down than the slower-speed descender, where virtually all of the work is being done by the brake.
Please don’t blame your local bike shop for forcing technology on you that you don’t want. It’s not an evil plot on their part. We’re not smart enough to pull that off. Most of us would long to turn back the clock to simpler times. That doesn’t mean that new technology isn’t often better, bringing new benefits to a wonderful machine. But from the standpoint of who profits from a technological & marketing arms race, it usually isn’t the local retailer.
Ironically, I am increasing the variety of disc-brake models to offer my customers, and am building up a new disc-brake CycloCross/Utility bike for myself… and I might soon be sending out an email to my customers letting them know about the options, which, of course, will feed the idea that I’m getting rich selling people things they don’t need. :-)
Thanks, Mike Jacoubowsky, Partner, Chain Reaction Bicycles
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