SRAM Rival 2009 shift levers review

SRAM Rival 2009 shift levers reviewNot so much a review, this is just my first riding impressions of SRAM’s new Rival shifters for 2009. Several things bugged be enough to write this article:

Overall, the shifters feel great. The carbon levers have a relatively large section to hold on to when braking and the shift paddle is big enough. I’ve never liked shimano’s combined gear/brake lever, so that’s the primary reason I bought this set. My one single gripe is that there seems to be a soft spot just inside the levers where the double-tap mechanism is housed. It’s like the soft spot on a baby’s head… you know it’s only temporary… because this is not how the final grown up version is meant to be. Peel back the inside of the rubber hoods and you realise there is nothing but a big hollow section underneath with no support. [Read more →]

Shimano SLX disc brake review

Shimano SLX disc brake reviewThese new disc brakes for 2009 represent excellent value for money. They use the commonly available XTR pad shape so you can easily get both sintered and organic brake pads… in fact these are really the old LX calipers with a totally new levers sporting radial master cyclinders.

If you use rotors which are large enough for your intended application, the total available power is good. I used a 203mm front rotor and 180mm rear rotor for this review. With this setup, I felt that the action of the rear brake caliper was quite a bit mushier than the front and I put this down to the length of the rear brake line (both are non-braided hydraulic housing).

Regardless, modulation is spot on and I really like the adjustable reach levers. When it’s this easy to change the reach, it’s amazing how much you use this single feature. [Read more →]

Michelin Pro 3 Grip Review

Michelin Pro 3 Grip ReviewConfession: I have been using worn out tyres for quite some time now. You know the old story – they’re too good to throw in the bin but they won’t last 2 more weeks. I had half a dozen tyres like this, so on my training bike they went – until they all finally wore out one by one! Cornering at any kind of decent speed with squared-off tyres is noticeably poor (unpredictable) and several of my training partners were leaving me for dead. So with the last tyre well and truly gone, I recently decided to treat myself to a pair of Michelin Pro 3 Grip tyres.

Quite the opposite of their “Race” siblings which come in every conceivable colour combination, with the “Grip” versions, you can have any colour you like so long as it’s dark grey. I don’t mind that, because the only tyres I ever buy are either dark grey and/or black. [Read more →]

How to identify really hard-core cyclists…

Ways to spot a really hard-core cyclist training1) If they don’t stop pedalling. This might sound simple enough, but most recreational cyclists stop pedalling for vast periods of time to rest their legs. Meanwhile, cyclists on a misson keep their cadence constant the whole time.

2) They are riding a bike with double chainrings and not a triple chainring or compact crankset.

3) One way to estimate distance that someone has cycled is by looking at the amount of water they’re carrying. Two 750ml bottles and they’re out for a few hours. Two 750ml bottles + a 2L camelback, and they’re doing some serious training mileage. How can I be so certain? ‘Cause no one carries that extra weight unless they need to. 😉

4) They’ve shaved or waxed their legs. A lot of good cyclists do this for many reasons. Foremost, because it looks good. Second, because it feels good. Third, because if you crash, you don’t create a very painful composite (human hair fibres in a blood matrix). If they’re really good they’ll shave their arms too!

5) They’ve left their leg hairs grow proudly. (that’s right, the presence of leg hairs is never a true indication of the fitness of an individual)

6) They’ve got mis-matched tyres. Why? Because it means they can’t be fussed with th look of their bike. They’d rather be out cycling than waiting or looking around for a new pair of same-brand tires.

7) A far better way to tell if they are a decent rider is to see if they use genuine cycling socks… white for road, black for MTB.

8) They’re out cycle-training in Tenerife… because there are no easy rides here.

9) They’ve got tattoos. Because everyone knows that tats are associated with drug-use and they’re probably taking EPO.

10) They’re passing you as you note all of the above.

An island with 100% renewable energy

el-hierro-100-percent-reneweable-energy-resoruces-canarias.gifWith 276 km² and more than 10000 inhabitants, El Hierro is the smallest island of the Canary archipelago ( Spain ). The island has its own electricity grid; it is totally isolated as the significant sea depths make any interconnection impossible. Till a little time ago , the electricity demand, which accounts for about 65% of the internal energy consumption, was mainly covered by a conventional thermal power station (10MW diesel-fired system). The contribution of renewable energies to the electricity grid was
less than 5% and came from two wind turbines installed close to the main town (100 kW and 180 kW).

El Hierro, the smallest island of the Canaries, is staging one of the most ambitious island projects regarding energy self-sufficiency through the use of renewable energies. In a few years, El Hierro will become one of the first islands in the world to meet its energy demand using RES (Renewable Energy Sources). Considered as one of the most audacious actions of the strategy established in the European Commission White Paper on Renewable Energies, the project is already a reference for other islands, such as Crete and Madeira…

Advice on emmigrating to another country

alien-coincidence.gifIf you’re truly open to another culture, then once you move out, you’ll never look at your homeland the same way again. Because you’ll soon be able to recognise the faults or flaws that exist in your own country. You also won’t be so quick to take for granted many things that you might have done before. Be prepared to literally become a different person. If you have always felt like you don’t fit into your own society and secretly wanting to expand your horizons, that’s the best reason to distance yourself from it.

On the other hand, if you’re a stubborn person not open to change, then you probably won’t gain much by living somewhere else. Moving to a place because it has sunny blue sky is a pretty shallow reason to settle in another country, especially if it means you have no incentive to integrate. Really question your motives for moving to another culture. If you have no interest in learning Spanish or any other foreign language and your only intention is to take advantage of the local people, then you’ll only find deep-rooted resentment amongst them.

One problem expatriates persistently face is that you can never really experience both places at the same time. You’re either in the one place or the other, living one of two different “life modes”. It’s commonly believed that you can look at everything with two alternative yet opposite perspectives: optimistism and pessimism. It is my belief that living in another country amplifies the bipolar nature of this thinking pattern. What happens first is that you’ll constantly be comparing your new home and your old one and then asking yourself if your decision was the right one. You can either look at the big move as something positive or negative. [Read more →]

Stress Theory:

stress-and-anxiety.jpgI’ve had this draft here lying around for too long so I thought I’d share it. I believe these are not my own words, but I think being aware of several current theories about stress is interesting in light of one of my other posts.

Hans Selye , one of the foremost stress scientists, found that stress uses “adaptation energy” that depletes us of our resources. He also found that, in general, stress is good but that it turns against us when it is uninterrupted.Alvin Toffler , a sociologist, found that in our present society many suffer from over-stimulation, too many changes, cognitive overload and decision overload, while our classical means of coping are not adequate for these conditions.

Rosenmann & Friedman , MD’s, studied their patients personality and the incidence of their heart attacks and found that an ambitious (type A) personality had seven times the chance to have a heart attack than the more easygoing (type B). (The only problem with the B’s is that they may be disaster prone). It can be said that stress is caused by poor timing of external changes in combination with an exaggerated internal perception.

Holmes, a psychologist, related illnesses to changes that took place in his patients before the illness. From this he developed his “Stress scale”, which lists changes in order of resulting stress. Then he concluded that change is not random, but a combination of fate and choice; therefore, change mangement is possible.

Tenerife and the environment. Greening Tenerife

wind-power-generation-tenerife-iter.jpgMore than a year ago, a topic about Tenerife and the environment came up on the Sun4Free forum. I’ve had this article lying around as draft version, so I thought rather than delete it, I’d publish “as is”.

Lets assume that you’re absolutely correct in your statements. What do you suggest that we do to stop the emissions of CO2 in Tenerife? Stop encouraging visitors to the Island? Ban all tourism? BIG savings on emissions with no aircraft coming in. Stop all unnecessary activity on the Island? No pleasure trips by car, bus motorcycle or bicycle?

Here’s what I managed to dig up:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates aviation contributes just 3% to total global emissions of CO2, compared with the 25% pumped out by power stations.

So since I was asked directly, here is what I would introduce:

In the short term (6 – 18 months)

    • Firstly introduce a new green Tenerife website outlining all of the measures that are going on.
    • Give each resort hotel a “green energy rating” based on their use of electricty, ability to reuse and recycle, etc.
    • Introduce transit lanes on the highways
    • Make all the coaches use biodiesel if they aren’t already and equip them with bicycle racks
    • Target vehicles causing excessive pollution.
    • Run several prizes for the most environmentally friendly small businesses within several different categories … ensure they get more exposure through the media.

offer small loans & grants

  • Provide small loans & grants for the most environmentally friendly new business ideas
  • Educate people via the media about how to recycle and why it is worth the effort

In the medium term (2 – 3 years)

  • Introduce a Solar Panel rebate scheme for small businesses…
  • Introduce 20¢ tax on each passenger flight. Use this money to plant trees for each flight elsewhere, not necessarily in Tenerife (each tree will save ~1 tonne of CO2 in it’s lifetime)
  • Promote the use of scooters as a more economical & environmentally friendly form of transport.
  • Encourage carbon-offset websites like this one

In the long term (5 years +)

  • Prioritise the construction of the North-South train link.
  • Phase out petrol hire cars and phase in hybrid vehicles such as the smart car

How much carbon dioxide does a bike frame produce?

A true zero emission vehicle.In this short article, I’ve estimated the amount of Carbon dioxide emissions from the maufacture of a standard aluminium bicycle frame weighing 1 kg. This is in an attempt to answer the question: “how far would I have to cycle [as opposed to driving a car] to offset the manufacture of my alloy bike frame?”

Alcan Aluminium states in one of their reports that:

14.9kW/hr per kg of aluminium produced.
6.8 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of Al.
1.8 tonnes of perfluorocarbons per tonne of Al.

= 6.8kg of CO2 per kg of Al.
~ 3786 litres of CO2 gas produced for a one-kilogram bicycle frame.

I have previously calculated that 1L of petrol produces 2.28kg of CO2, therefore 3L of petrol yields 6.8kg of CO2. A typical small car consumes 6L/100km. So you would only have to cycle 50km or so instead of driving a car, and you’ve already “offset” your frame.

So I would say that the humble bicycle is probably the only thing that I can think of that benefits the environment, if only because it’s more energy efficient than walking. I’ll save that calculation for another day…